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!

DSC_0130 DSC_0131 DSC_0133 DSC_0134 DSC_0137 DSC_0138 DSC_0158


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