Monday, December 13, 2010

Homemade Play Kitchen

If you’ve never stopped by Jess’ blog, Craftiness Is Not Optional, then you definitely need to.  Jess has so many inspiring ideas that are always quick and easy.  If you have little girls, then you MUST get there quickly.  Earlier this year her father built her little girl a play kitchen.  Seeing as how we have a little girl about the same age, I thought that it was definitely a project that we could undertake as well.  We used her basic “floor plan” (which you can read about in THIS post) and went to work! 

So, after two months of working his tail off, my husband finished the kitchen this weekend.  I am so amazingly proud of the work that he did.  It wouldn’t have taken him so long if he wasn’t a super perfectionist.  But that’s what I love about him.  :)

(Sorry for the pictures – I was taking them early this morning before it was very light out)


8 12

I love the oven.  The knobs turn and the little burner covers come off.  There are real oven grates inside and little cookie sheets that fit just perfectly.  The sign above the stove is from Hobby Lobby.

9We decided to do the curtain instead of cabinets since I’m a little worried about slammed fingers these days.  I got this retro lemon print as a remnant at JoAnn’s for about $2 a long time ago.  Thankfully it was just the right size and is hung on a tension rod.  The cross stitch print of lemons above the sink is from my grandmother-in-law.  She went to be with the Lord last year and we found this at her house in a drawer when we were cleaning out her house.  I love having a little of her in the kitchen for the kids.

10This is inside the pantry/fridge.  We only did shelves that are high enough for my daughter to reach at this point.  Some day we can add higher ones if we need to.  She’s getting a ton of play food and accessories for her birthday and Christmas so this will be full soon!

I couldn’t be more thrilled with this addition to my daughter’s room.  I know that once she moves to her ‘big girl bed’ all she'll do is play with this instead of sleep, but that’s okay.  Right now she’s more interested in pulling out all the food and putting it on her play table but once she gets older I know that this will be her favorite thing. 

Friday, December 10, 2010

Apartment Fish

Even if you don’t like fish, you’re probably at least wondering what is up with the name of this dish.  After I graduated from college, I moved back to Dallas and within a month had to start my first job with the hotel company I eventually worked at for 8 years.  I had a little 600 square foot apartment just 2 miles from the hotel.  I loved it.  I loved being independent, making my own money, decorating my own place, etc.  I worked a lot of night shifts but the nights I was home always involved dinner cooked on my single serve George Foreman grill.  This is a dish I came up with back in those days.  As I started to date my husband and have him over for dinner, this became a favorite.  It still brings back so many memories when we eat it today.

What I love about this dish is that it is SO easy.  4 ingredients, 20 minutes, one dish, done!  I hope you enjoy it too.  This should feed about 3-4 people – 1 fish fillet per person, just add another box of pasta if needed.


DSC_0348-4 Tilapia Filets

-1 box of Pasta Roni Shells & White Cheddar

-1 can of peas, drained

-Your choice of seasoning on the fish (we like the Greek Seasoning, but use your favorite)


1.  Season fish and cook until flaky.  Use whatever method you like best – bake in the oven, grill outside, sauté in a pan, etc.  I still use the George Foreman to cook my fish, but now it’s a lot bigger and fancier one!

2.  While fish is cooking, cook pasta to specifications on box.  Typically takes about 20 minutes by the time it finishes cooking and sits in the sauce to thicken.  Once thickened, add drained peas to pot and stir to heat through.

3.  On each plate, flake 1 tilapia filet into small pieces.  Divide pasta and pea mixture between plates and add on top of fish.  Mix together.

Here it is all mixed together and ready to enjoy!



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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Shepherd’s Pie

I first had this dish at my Mother-in-law’s several years ago.  My husband always raved about it so I got the recipe to make at home.  After a few tries, my husband officially announced that mine was better than his mother’s.  Is there really any better compliment from a Southern man?  Now, not sure if it’s true or he’s just being sweet but I’ll take it either way.  :)  This is a crowd pleaser – quick, easy, and customizable to your family’s tastes. 


-1 pound ground beef

-1 can condensed tomato soup

-1 can green beans

-a couple handfuls of frozen mixed veggies (this is the part that you can customize – use your favorite veggies – peas if you don’t like green beans, etc.  Or use whatever is on hand)

-mashed potatoes – I use the instant from a pouch

-salt and pepper to taste

-1/2 cup cheddar cheese


1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Brown beef, drain and place in a mixing bowl.

2.  Add soup, veggies, and salt and pepper to the beef and mix well.  Pour into a lightly greased 1.5 to 2 quart casserole.  Prepare potatoes as per directions on pouch and spread on top of beef mixture.

3.  Cook at 350 for 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.  Add cheese; return to oven until cheese is melted.

Here it is in the casserole dish – so pretty!


All served up and ready to devour:


Monday, December 6, 2010

Meal Planning Monday

These next two weeks are all about EASY recipes.  We are headed out of town for Christmas this year so we’ve got the next week full of doctors appointments, haircuts, etc. to get ready.  Not to mention packing up Christmas presents to ship out and packing bags for me, the hubs and an almost 2 year old.  Fun.  So here are the meals!

Meals for December 6 to December 15:

Monday – Leftover Smothered Chicken (this was EXCELLENT!)

Tuesday/WednesdayApartment Fish (there is a story behind the name but it’s a VERY quick and easy dish with just 3 ingredients – an “all in one” dish with meat, veggie, starch)

Thursday/SaturdayLemony Chicken, Pink Salad, Crescents

Friday – Dinner out

Monday/Tuesday/WednesdayCheesy Potato and Corn Chowder (already in the freezer, yippee!), Lemon Bread

After that I say “Adios!” for a few weeks.  But stay tuned until then – I’ll be making some very yummy Christmas cookies too!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Dark Chocolate and Orange Butter Cookies

If you aren’t drooling by now, you should immediately go to a doctor and have yourself checked out.  Yes, these are as yummy as they sound.  They are almost completely butter so they kind of fall apart and melt in your mouth.  Quick and easy too.  The recipe below only makes about 2 dozen small cookies so I would definitely double or triple the recipe.  These would make great Christmas cookies!  Recipe from


-1/2 cup sugar

-3/4 cup butter

-1 egg yolk

-1 tsp orange extract

-1.5 cups all purpose flour

-1/4 cup dark unsweetened cocoa

-Powdered sugar for dusting


1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In the bowl of a stand up mixer (or hand mixer), combine the sugar, butter, egg yolk and orange extract.  Beat on medium speed until fluffy.  Gradually add flour and dark cocoa until well incorporated (about 2-3 minutes).

2.  Shape into 1” balls and place 1” apart on a greased cookie sheet.  Bake for 7-9 minutes or until set.  Allow to cool.  Roll in powdered sugar.

Okay, this isn’t my picture.  And mine didn’t really look like this!  But we were so excited to dig in and we ate them so fast that I didn’t even get a picture of them.  (Picture courtesy of


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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Hot Fruit Salad

Okay, so I tend to do fruit as a side for dinner quite a bit.  Growing up, the meals were always meat, veggie, starch.  I don’t exactly stick to that anymore, but when I do have a meal like that, fruit is a great side.  For example, I made Shepherd’s Pie last week which has meat, veggie, starch all in one.  This was a perfect side.  It would go great as a side dish to the traditional Christmas ham!  Super quick, super easy, and it makes your house smell delicious.  Recipe from


-1 (20 oz) jar chunky applesauce

-1 (21 oz) can cherry pie filling

-1 (15 oz) can sliced peaches, drained

-1 (11 oz) can mandarin orange segments, drained

-1 (8 oz) can pineapple chunks, drained slightly

-1/2 cup brown sugar

-1 tsp ground cinnamon


1.  Pour all ingredients into slow cooker and mix together.  Cover, and cook on Low setting for 90 minutes.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Chicken & Vegetable Chowder/Chicken Pot Pie Soup

Have you seen the food blog,  I love searching her site and seeing what I can come up with.  This week I took her Chicken & Vegetable Chowder recipe (found HERE) and embellished it a little.  Now, this recipe stands up well on it’s own, don’t get me wrong.  But my Mom and I have been lunching at Jason’s Deli a lot lately and I was desperate to imitate their Chicken Pot Pie soup.  Especially with the colder weather.

So I took the soup recipe and just added a puff pastry square on top.  You simply buy the puff pastry sheet, cut it into 9 squares and bake as per the directions on the box.  It really adds a nice little touch to this soup.  Enjoy!


Friday, November 26, 2010

Mini Potato, Onion and Cheese Empanadas

Hope all of my bloggy friends had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  We had a great time with my family (sadly, the hubs had to work a 12 hour shift – boo, hospitality industry).  We are still stuffed, the dog is tired and the little girl is beat from playing with her cousins.  So thankful for a loving God, salvation through Jesus Christ, an amazing husband, beautiful daughter and precious one on the way.  And you, of course!

Saw this recipe in our local paper’s magazine and HAD to try it.  They advertise it as an appetizer, but if you make enough of them then you can definitely eat them for dinner.  Would also make a great appetizer for Thanksgiving or Christmas.  These were very tasty!  I only had 1 pie crust the first night and made them the way described below.  Instead of going to the store the second night, I used a roll of Pillsbury Crescents and just rolled up the filling and crimped the edges.  Just as yummy!  So use either one you have on hand.  I substituted a lot in this recipe because I wanted to use things in my pantry – those will be in parenthesis.  Recipe from Living Magazine or


-1 package refrigerated pie crust (if making this for two nights, use both rolls of dough, should yield about 20 empanadas)

-1 and 1/4 cups mashed potatoes (I used instant)

-1/2 tsp cumin powder

-1 4oz can diced green chilies, not drained (optional)

-1/2 tsp salt or to taste

-3 to 4 cloves garlic, chopped (I sprinkled in some garlic powder instead)

-2 cups finely chopped cooked green onions (I used 1 medium sized white onion and cooked in butter until caramelized)

-6 ounces Jarlsberg or Jarlsberg Lite cheese, diced (I used shredded Cheddar we had on hand)


1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.  Set aside.

2.  Unroll dough and cut out 20 4” rounds.  Place 2 tablespoons filling in center of each round.  With wet fingers, moisten inside edges of dough and gently stretch over filling to make half moon shape.  Using fork tines, crimp edges to seal.

3.  Bake empanadas on parchment-lined cookie sheet about 14 to 16 minutes, or until light golden brown.  Serve warm.

DSC_0288This is a picture of the ones I made with the crescent rolls.  You can see that I put the filling in and rolled them up as usual, then tucked in the edges and crimped with a fork.  I wish I had gotten a picture of the ones with the pie crust because they were really pretty!


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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Meal Planning Monday . . .er . . . Tuesday

I stink at posting on time lately!  I’ve been feeling gross this pregnancy and have been trying to rest and take it easy.  20 weeks – halfway there! 

Here is the menu for November 23 to December 5:

Tuesday/WednesdayChicken and Vegetable Chowder, Green Salad

Thursday – Thanksgiving at my parent’s house – I’m bringing Sweet Potato Casserole and Jordan Rolls

Friday/Saturday – Pork Tenderloin (packaged), Green Bean Salad, Scalloped Potatoes (boxed)

Monday/TuesdaySloppy Joe Pie, Glazed Fall Vegetables

Wednesday – Out to dinner for the hubby’s birthday (surprise!)

Thursday/FridaySmothered Chicken, Pasta Salad

Saturday – TBD :)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Beef Taco Bake

Okay, I forgot to post yesterday.  I have a couple really yummy ones for next week!  Here’s one that I’ve had typed up for a while.

This is a great twist on the tradition “Mexican Beef Pie.”  It is very filling and the kids should love it too!  Recipe from Campbell’s Kitchen.


-1 lb ground beef

-1 can condensed Tomato Soup

-1 cup salsa

-1/2 cup milk

-6 (8”) flour tortillas cut into 1” pieces OR 8 (6”) corn tortillas, cut into 1” pieces

-1 cup shredded cheese (I used a cheddar blend)


1.  Cook beef in medium skillet over medium-high heat until beef is browned, stirring to separate  meat.  Drain.

2.  Add soup, salsa, milk tortillas and half the cheese.  Spoon into 2 qt shallow baking dish.  Cover.

3.  Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until hot.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese.



Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Garden Pizza

If you haven’t heard of this book yet, you HAVE to go out and get it: Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois.  I LOVE fresh bread but hate kneading and such and most of the recipes in here are all about dropping a piece of dough on your pizza stone and cooking it.  You make a wet dough that can sit in your fridge for up to 2 weeks and you just take off chunks as you need it.

Anyway, that is where my pizza dough comes from but you can use this recipe with the pre-made pizza dough at the store.  This is a healthy alternative to a greasy delivery pizza.  The whole family loved it down to the 2 year old.  This is a great “garbage” pizza too – when I make it this week it’ll have tomatoes and zucchini but also leftover chicken and whatever else needs to leave the fridge!


-1 pizza dough – homemade or store bought

-1/2 cup tomato sauce – you can use plain or I used some Newman’s Own Tomato and Basil Spaghetti Sauce leftover in the fridge

-If using plain tomato sauce, you can spice it up with 1/2 tsp dried Italian seasoning

-Fresh vegetables – I used 1 large tomato thinly sliced and 1 zucchini thinly sliced lengthwise.  Use anything you want to!  Tomatoes, broccoli florets, mushrooms, sausage, etc.

-Salt and pepper

-1/2 cup to 1 cup shredded cheese – I prefer mozzarella but you can use feta or cheddar or anything on hand


1.  Prepare your pizza crust and oven according to package or cookbook directions.  Spread sauce in a thin layer over crust, leaving an inch or so around the edge without sauce (this produces a yummy crust to hold onto!).

2.  Layer your vegetables on the sauce, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and then top with cheese.  Bake according to directions on package or in cookbook.

I know it seems easy enough, but I never thought to put vegetables on a pizza in this way.  We’ll be trying this on the grill this week so the house doesn’t get so dirty!


Friday, November 12, 2010

Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallow Surprise

Most of the time, the only way I can get my husband to eat vegetables is if I put brown sugar on them.  I found this recipe and thought that it sounded excellent.  This would also be a great alternative to the traditional Sweet Potato Casserole over the holidays.  Recipe from Paula Deen for Smithfield (


-4 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed

-1/2 cup heavy cream (I used whole milk on hand)

-1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened

-1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

-1/4 tsp salt

-Freshly ground pepper, to taste

-1 cup miniature marshmallows

-1/2 cup brown sugar

-1/2 cup pecans, chopped (optional)


1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place potatoes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil.  Bake until fork tender, about 45 to 60 minutes.  Let rest 5 minutes.

2.  Handling potatoes with a pot holder, slice each in half lengthwise and carefully scoop out the flesh into the bowl of a food processor leaving 1/4” rim of flesh to support the potato skin.  To the food processor, add the heavy cream, butter, pumpkin pie spice, salt and pepper.  Process until potatoes are silky smooth.  **Sidenote: The recipe said that you could do this with a potato masher as well.  I did that and didn’t like the lumpy texture I got.  Would definitely use the food processor next time.**

3.  Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.  Place sweet potato shells on the baking sheet and add a few miniature marshmallows to each shell.  Spoon or pipe the puree mixture back into each shell.  Sprinkle brown sugar and pecans on top.  Bake at 400 degrees until potatoes are hot, about 10 to 12 minutes.



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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Skillet Fried Apples

Made this as a side dish but it would be even better over ice cream for a simple dessert.  It’s basically the inside of an apple pie – so good!  Recipe from Southern Living Magazine.


-3 Tbsp butter

-5 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced

-2.3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

-1 tsp apple pie spice (I didn’t have this so I used pumpkin pie spice)


1.  Melt butter in a 12” skillet over medium-high heat; add apples and remaining ingredients.  Sauté 15 to 20 minutes or until apples are tender.  Store apples in the juices in the fridge to keep them yummy!


Monday, November 8, 2010

Meal Planning Monday

Friends, sorry to be absent the last week.  I had an issue with my pregnancy and needed to rest for the week.  As a mother of a toddler, that is NOT EASY!  Everything is fine with the baby and while we had a sonogram to check on the little one we found out that it’s a . . . GIRL!  Two little girls.  I’m going to need some serious therapy in about 13 years with 2 teenage girls running around.  :)  Anyway, I’m back and doing a little better so I’m hoping to post some of the winning recipes from the last two weeks. 

Here are the meals planned for November 8 – November 21:

Monday – Eating at my parent’s

TuesdayGarden Pizza (made this last week but I have enough to make another one and I’m going to try to grill it outside – yummy!  Will post this recipe this week), veggies

Wednesday/ThursdayZesty Lime Fish Tacos (new to me but the recipe is on Pearls, Handcuffs, and Happy Hour), Shoe Peg Corn Casserole

Friday/Saturday – Cheese Tortellini (Butoni – LOVE the convenience), bread

Monday/TuesdayMini Potato, Onion and Cheese Empanadas (new!), Acorn Squash

Wednesday/ThursdayShepherd’s Pie (a family tradition but I’ve never posted the recipe so I’ll get that on here), Hot Fruit Salad (new), Cheese Stuffed Pull Aparts

Friday/Saturday – Chicken Parmesan (a YUMMY version without messing up your stovetop – will post), veggies

Desserts – Pumpkin Pie (traditional from the back of the can recipe), Cherry Dump Cake (seriously, the easiest and tastiest recipe ever!), Dark Chocolate and Orange Butter Cookies (new – I hope they taste as good as they sound!)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

King Ranch Chicken

I’ve always heard of this dish and actually eaten it a few times, but never made it.  I don’t know where the name comes from – I’m assuming it’s named after the famous ranch in Texas?  Anyway, it’s yummy and a slow cooker recipe which is always wonderful this time of year.  Recipe from Southern Living Magazine (although I know there are a million versions out there).


-4 cups chopped cooked chicken

-1 large onion, chopped

-1 large green bell pepper, chopped (optional)

-1 can cream of chicken soup

-1 can cream of mushroom soup (we don’t like mushrooms so I used cream of celery soup)

-1 (10 oz) can diced tomatoes and green chilies (i.e. Rotel)

-1 garlic clove, minced (I substituted a little garlic powder instead)

-1 tsp chili powder

-12 (6 inch) fajita-size corn tortillas

-2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese


1.  Stir together first 8 ingredients.  Tear tortillas into 1 inch pieces; layer one-third of tortilla pieces in a lightly greased slow cooker.  Top with one-third of chicken mixture and 2/3 cup cheese.  Repeat layers twice.

2.  Cover and cook on low 3.5 hours or until bubbly and edges are golden brown.  Uncover and cook on low 30 minutes (removing the lid during the last 30 minutes gives the casserole an oven-baked flavor and texture.


Monday, October 25, 2010

Meal Planning Monday

I was quite pleased with how last week turned out doing two weeks straight instead of one.  For some reason, I also spend less at the grocery store in a trip for 2 weeks instead of 1.  It makes no sense to me, but we’ll go with it!  Here are the meals for October 25 to November 7.  Reminder that meals already posted on the blog and linked.

Monday/Tuesday – Bratwurst and sauerkraut, pasta salad, pear halves with cheese

Wednesday/ThursdayClub Sandwich Rounds, Roasted Green Beans with Sun-Dried Tomatoes (new)

Friday/Saturday/MondayCheeseburger soup, Crabmeat Deviled Eggs

Tuesday/Wednesday – Garden Pizza, Skillet Fried Apples (new)

Thursday – Mission Banquet

Friday/SaturdayChicken and Black Bean Tostizzas, Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes (new)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Crab-Topped Tilapia Fillets

This is one of those recipes that I was excited to cook all week.  There is only one thing I would change about it – MAKE MORE OF IT!!  I cooked 5 fillets, 1 for each of us each night but we could have eaten 2 easily.  Next time I’m going to double it so we have more to eat.  Also, I ran out of fresh Parmesan cheese so I used the grated Kraft stuff.  It was still super yummy but I look forward to trying to fresh cheese next time.  Recipe from the cookbook “Family and Friends Favorite Recipes” by Margaret and Branson Gayler.


-1 pounds tilapia fillets (again, I did 1 for each person per night but you can double the recipe and the crab for 2/person if you prefer)

-1 (6 oz) can crabmeat, drained, flaked and cartilage removed OR 1 cup imitation crabmeat, chopped

-1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

-1/2 cup mayonnaise

-1 tsp lemon juice

-Paprika, optional


1.  Place fillets in a greased 13x9” baking dish.  Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 18 to 20 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.  (I lightly seasoned the fish first with our favorite seasoning or you can use a little salt and pepper).

2.  Meanwhile, in a bowl combine the crab, Parmesan cheese, mayonnaise and lemon juice.

3.  Drain cooking juices from the baking dish and spoon crab mixture over the fillets.  Broil 5 inches from the heat for 5 minutes or until topping is lightly browned.  Sprinkle with paprika if desired.



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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Roasted Lemony Vegetables and Couscous

This was an excellent side dish and a nice use of fall veggies.  Now, it makes a TON of food.  The vegetables completely filled a 13x9” casserole dish.  I didn’t make the couscous because I didn’t think we could eat all of it.  But if you are making this as a main dish with the couscous it should last you 2 or 3 days.  Very yummy.  Recipe from Family Circle Magazine.


-1/4 cup lemon juice

-2 Tbsp chopped basil (I used 1 tsp dried basil)

-1/4 cup chopped parsley (I used 1 tsp dried parsley flakes)

-1.5 tsp salt

-1 tsp black pepper

-1/4 cup olive oil

-2 large tomatoes, seeded and cut into 1” chunks

-1 small butternut squash (about 1 lb) peeled, seeded and cut into 1” chunks

-1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1” chunks

-1 pound red-skin potatoes, peeled and cut into 1” chunks

-1 cup baby carrots, halved

-1 cup couscous


1.  Heat oven to 375 degrees.  In a small bowl, stir together lemon juice, basil, parsley, 1/2 tsp of the salt and 1/2 tsp of the pepper.  Slowly whisk in olive oil; set aside.

2.  In a large bowl, combine tomatoes, squash, potatoes and carrots.  Sprinkle mixture with remaining 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper.  Drizzle with prepared lemon dressing and stir well to combine.

3.  Pour vegetable mixture into a 13x9” baking dish and cover with foil.  Bake at 375 for 35 minutes.  Remove foil and continue to bake another 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender (**My vegetables were not tender after this amount of time.  I needed probably another 20-30 minutes**)

4.  When there is 10 minutes bake time remaining, prepare couscous according to package directions.  Remove vegetable mixture from oven and carefully stir in couscous.  Serve immediately.


Monday, October 18, 2010

Jordan Rolls

This recipe is from Christy Jordan, who was recently featured in Southern Living Magazine.  While not a big fan of bread that you have to knead or roll out, I’ve been on a search for bread that tastes like my grandmother-in-law’s.  Ms. Jean was an incredible woman of the Lord who went to be with her Savior a couple years ago at the age of 94.  She made the most incredible little silver dollar biscuits for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Sadly, none of us were able to figure out her recipe (which was never written down) before she died.  So I’ve been trying to find something similar ever since.  I think this one might work.  Next time I’ll cut them into little circles and bake them a little less – I’ll let you know how that goes.  In the meantime, these are delicious!


-1/2 cup sugar

-2 envelopes rapid-rise yeast

-5 cups all-purpose flour

-1/2 cup shortening

-2 large eggs, lightly beaten

-1.5 cups warm water (110 to 120 degrees)

-3/4 cup butter, melted and divided


1.  Combine first 3 ingredients and 2 cups flour in a large bowl.  Cut in shortening with a fork or pastry blender until crumbly.  Stir in eggs.  (Mixture will be lumpy and dry).  Stir in warm water, 1/2 cup melted butter, and remaining 3 cups flour until well blended.  (Mixture will remain lumpy).  Cover with a kitchen towel, and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, 20 minutes.  (Rolls will rise only slightly).

2.  Turn dough out onto a floured surface.  Sprinkle lightly with flour; knead three to four times.  Pat or roll into a 13x9” rectangle (about 3/4 inch thick).  Cut dough into 18 rectangles using a pizza cutter.  Place in a lightly greased 13x9” pan, and cover with towel.  Let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, 20 minutes.

3.  Preheat oven to 350.  Bake rolls 25 minutes.  Brush with remaining 1/4 cup melted butter, and bake 5 more minutes or until golden brown.



Friday, October 15, 2010

Italian Pot Roast

Okay, so I get why they call this “Italian” – there is Italian seasoning and tomato sauce in it.  But it really doesn’t taste Italian.  It’s more of a yummy slow cooker pot roast that you cut up and put back into a rich, creamy “gravy.”  This will be great this fall/winter when the weather turns cold and gloomy.  I made this with mashed potatoes (use the pouch kind to cut time) and it was a winner all around!  I did not add the mushrooms because we don’t like them but I bet that makes it even richer.  Recipe from Southern Living Magazine.  Made 9 servings for us (6 adult and 3 child).


-1 (8 oz) package sliced fresh mushrooms

-1 large sweet onion (I just used a white onion), cut in half and sliced

-1 (3-4 lb) boneless chuck roast, trimmed

-1 tsp pepper

-2 Tbsp olive oil

-1 (1 oz) envelope dry onion soup mix

-1 (14 oz) can beef broth

-1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce

-3 Tbsp tomato paste

-1 tsp dried Italian seasoning

-2 Tbsp cornstarch


1.  Place mushrooms and onion in a lightly greased 5 to 6 qt slow cooker.

2.  Sprinkle roast with pepper.  Cook roast in hot oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until browned.

3.  Place roast on top of mushrooms and onion in slow cooker.  Sprinkle onion soup mix over roast; pour beef broth and tomato sauce over roast.  Cover and cook on LOW 8 to 10 hours or until meat shreds easily with a fork.

4.  Transfer roast to a cutting board; cut into large chunks, removing any large pieces of fat.  Keep roast warm.  (I was able to put my roast on a plate and pull apart with a fork since it was so tender.  Put the plate in the microwave or oven (turned off) to keep warm). 

5.  Skim fat from juices in slow cooker; stir in tomato paste and Italian seasoning.  Stir together cornstarch and 2 Tbsp water in a small bowl until smooth; add to juices in slow cooker, stirring until blended.  Increase slow cooker heat to HIGH.  Cover and cook 40 minutes or until mixture is thickened.  Stir in roast.



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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Hash Brown Potato Casserole

Okay, so there isn’t really anything special about this recipe as far as Hash Brown Casseroles go.  I think this is just the first one that I actually tried.  I halved this recipe because I wanted it for just 2 nights and it worked out perfectly.  The whole recipe probably has about 9 servings to it.  Recipe from the cookbook “Family & Friends Favorite Recipes” by Margaret and Branson Gayler (it was a gift to us from missionaries that stayed with us).

Ingredients (whole recipe):

-2 lbs frozen hash brown potatoes

-1.5 cups grated cheddar cheese

-1 can cream of chicken soup

-2 cups sour cream

-1/2 c (1 stick) butter

-1 medium onion, chopped

-Salt and pepper to taste

-2 cups Ritz crackers, crushed

-1/2 cup melted butter


1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, cheese, soup, sour cream, butter, onion and seasoning.

2.  Place in a buttered 13x9” pan and bake for 35 minutes (if halving recipe, place in an 8x8” dish).

3.  Remove from oven and top with crushed Ritz crackers mixed with melted butter.  Bake for another 10 minutes.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Meal Planning Monday and A Change of Direction

Consider this my leap head-first back into the world of blogging.  It was a great break while I felt gross in my first trimester but I have missed you all and am ready to get back to it!  First, let’s be honest.  I’d like to tell you that I’m going to have a ton of crafts coming up . . . but I’m not.  I am up to my eyebrows in crochet work that needs to be done – orders for my business, baby showers, birthdays, Christmas, the list goes on.  Plus one of these days I’m going to finish the stupid T-shirt quilt I started a YEAR ago and make curtains for our bedroom.  SO, having said that, I will give you some crafts every now and again, but mostly we’ll be talking recipes for the next few months (until at least Christmas).

I know a lot of you are super expert meal planners.  And some of you are not.  I consider myself somewhere in the middle but I hope some of my little tricks will work for you!  I used to plan meals just one week out but am trying two weeks now instead.  Every other Monday I’ll be sharing my menu with you.  Recipes that have already been shared on the blog will be highlighted and linked.  New recipes (if they are worth keeping!) will be shared during that two week period.

To start my meal planning, I sit on the kitchen floor next to my recipe cabinet and start looking.  I ask my husband if he has any requests or anything he’s been craving before I get started.  Typically, meals will last at least 2 nights for us, sometimes 3.  As we have those meals, I’ll usually write down how many servings it lasted (i.e. if it lasted 3 nights, it’s 9 servings between the 3 of us).  I think this is easier than writing down how many nights it lasted because as our family expands, the fewer nights they will start to last!  Typically that makes 5 meals for 2 weeks (I don’t count Sundays because we eat a late lunch after church and usually just snack for dinner).  I try to pick at least one beef, one chicken, one other (fish, pasta, etc.), at least one slow cooker and at least one soup.  Once I have my main meals, I pick sides.

Here is the menu for October 11 through October 24:

Monday/Tuesday – Hot dogs, Coleslaw, Hashbrown Casserole (new)

Wednesday/Thursday/FridayItalian Pot Roast (new), green salad, mashed potatoes, Jordan rolls (new)

Saturday/Monday – Beef tacos, Mexican rice, refried beans

Tuesday/WednesdayCrab Topped Tilapia Fillets (new – can’t WAIT to try this one!), Lemony Roasted Veggies with Couscous (new)

Thursday/Friday/SaturdayKing Ranch Chicken (new), Zucchini

Trying a lot of new recipes this week.  I haven’t really “cooked” anything much in the last 3 months so I’m ready to get experimenting again! 

My other change is that unless the steps are rather complicated (like the rolls will be), I’m only going to take pictures of the final outcome of the dish.  I also commit to try to get better, prettier pictures of the food for you.  I usually just scoop something out and run it to the table before my daughter pitches a fit to get eating.  I’ll try my best to get some better shots.

I hope this menu inspires you and I hope to see you back in the next few weeks to enjoy these recipes with me!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Fall Decoration Inspiration

Oh, what a wonderful week of vacation we had!  My husband and I slipped off to Las Vegas for 4 days while the little one and the puppy stayed at my parent’s house.  Of course, we left beautiful 80 degree weather in Dallas behind for the glory of 105 degrees in Vegas.  But with the help of the monorail and experience, we survived!  My legs were aching and it took us a few days to recover, but we had a great time.

I wanted to share just a few pictures with you.  The Bellagio is our absolute favorite place in Vegas.  It is just so gorgeous.  We spend every evening with a cup of gelato and a few hours watching the fountains.  If you haven’t been, they have a beautiful conservatory that is decorated for the season.  They had such wonderful fall decorations that I think we can all be inspired by!

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