Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Word About Salads

We do a lot of salads in our house.  Sometimes it is just the easiest side dish, sometimes it is very refreshing in the summer.  Growing up, salads were a big bowl of iceberg lettuce that everyone dug into and then dressing and some croutons.  We do it a lot different in our house.  I make everyone an individual bowl of salad and then start adding toppings.  The toppings are what make it – I raid the fridge and the pantry and throw in as many different things as I can find. 

Some of our favorites:

-sliced sweet petite pickles

-mandarin oranges

-cut up apple

-cut up lunch meat (turkey, ham, salami)




-shredded cheese

-croutons (of course!)

Depending on what we have on hand that day, the salad is always different.  Think outside the box for your salads and give something different a try!


Monday, March 28, 2011

Beef and Potatoes with Rosemary

I’ve been holding out on you – this ones been sitting in my “drafts” for months now.  Sorry!

I guess it’s getting warmer out and crock pot recipes are going to be put away for the summer . . . uh, kidding!  I do them all year round because let’s face it, there is nothing better than throwing a bunch of stuff in the crock pot and walking away only to feel like a 5 star chef after 8 hours.  This is a pretty basic one, but the mustard and rosemary really make it unique.  From “Betty Crocker’s Slow Cooker Cookbook.”


-1 pound medium red potatoes, cut into fourths

-1 cup baby carrots

-3 pound boneless chuck pot roast

-3 Tbsp Dijon mustard

-2 Tbsp chopped fresh or 1 1/2 tsp dried rosemary leaves, crumbled

-1 tsp chopped fresh or 1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves

-1 tsp salt

-1/2 tsp pepper

-1 small onion, finely chopped

-1 1/2 cups beef broth


1.  Arrange potatoes and carrots in slow cooker

2.  Trim excess fat from beef.  Mix mustard, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper; spread evenly over beef.  Place beef in cooker.  Sprinkle onion over beef.  Pour broth evenly over beef and vegetables.

3.  Cover and cook on low heat setting 8 to 10 hours or until beef and vegetables are tender.

4.  Remove beef and vegetables from cooker, using slotted spoon; place on serving platter.  Skim fat from beef juices in cooker if desired.  Serve beef with juices.






Friday, March 25, 2011

BLT Chicken Soup

If you have The Cooking Channel, you must watch (or DVR) Rachel Ray’s new show, “Week in a Day.”  She makes 5 dishes in one day that will last all week.  I used to do this when I worked full time and didn’t have the energy to cook each night.  She makes a lot of spicy things so I don’t get too many off the show, but this recipe sounded too good to not give a go.  We enjoyed it, but we really like soups with thicker broths so just know that it’s more of a chicken broth soup. 


-2 pieces boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 1 lb)

-1 cup dry white wine (we don’t drink and don’t have wine in the house so I used chicken stock)

-Peel of 1 lemon

-2 Tbsp olive oil

-1 onion, peeled and quartered with root end attached

-2 bay leaves

-About 1 quart water

-2 large or 3-4 medium leeks (I left this out)

-6 slices lean bacon, chopped

-2 carrots, peeled and chopped

-2-3 ribs celery, chopped

-1 pint grape tomatoes

-2 Tbsp fresh thyme, finely chopped (I used dried)

-4 cups chicken stock

-1 cup gemelli pasta (I used small shells)


1.  Place the chicken, wine, lemon peel, onion, and 1 bay leaf in a small pot.  Add about 1 quart of water or enough to cover the top of the chicken meat, bring to a low boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and gently poach until cooked through, about 15 minutes.  Cool the chicken until it is easy to handle, then dice or shred.  Strain and reserve about 5 cups of the poaching liquid.

2.  Trim the leeks and halve lengthwise, then cut into 1” half-moons, wash in the sink or large bowl filled with cold water.  Dry the leeks on a clean kitchen towel and reserve.

3.  Heat about 2 Tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the bacon and cook until crisp at the edges, 3 minutes.  Add 1 bay leaf, carrots, celery, leeks, tomatoes, salt, pepper, and thyme.  Cook 12 to 15 minutes covered, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender and tomatoes burst. 

4.  Add pasta and cook per package directions.



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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Meal Planning . . . Wednesday?

Okay, so here’s the truth of it.  With just 2 weeks left until this baby comes, I’ve quickly gone from Super Mama getting the house ready to Limp Noodle.  Starting on Sunday I started having lots of pains and have been pretty miserable since then.  The mode now is “survive.”  Walking is not my favorite activity.  So, for the first time in our 5 1/2 years of marriage, Mr. Naptime is doing the full grocery shopping for two weeks at Wal-Mart tonight.  I’ve never made such a detailed grocery list in my life.  :)  I am so thankful for him and all his help.

Having said all that, there will be no Meal Planning Monday for at least the next month or so.  The next two weeks will be things that don’t require much movement on my part – spaghetti, grilling outside, etc.  After that I have 4 meals in the freezer that should last us 3 nights each.  My parents live close by too so that should help.

I have a few finished recipes to post in the next few weeks so I’ll keep those going and keep you updated on the latest with the baby!  I have an appointment tomorrow and I am PRAYING that the doctor says “Let’s go downstairs and have this baby.”  Not likely, but still.

And since a post is no fun without a picture, here is Little Ms. Naptime helping Daddy plant some flowers last week.


Friday, March 18, 2011

Easy Chicken and Dumplings

I’ve said it before, but as a native Texan I feel like I am from the South.  Then I married a man from South Carolina and realized that there is the South and there is the Deep South.  BIG difference!  I’ve never eaten Chicken & Dumplings in my life – they look gross and slimy to me.  But then I saw this recipe in Southern Living Magazine and it looked pretty decent.  So I decided to please the hubby and make this for him.  Wow, what a winner!  Great tasting broth and not slimy at all.  And is there anything better than cooking with just 7 ingredients??


-1 (32 oz) container chicken broth

-3 cups shredded cooked chicken (I used one package of chicken breasts)

-1 (10 3/4 oz) can cream of chicken soup

-1/4 tsp poultry seasoning

-1 can refrigerated jumbo buttermilk biscuits

-2 carrots, diced

-3 ribs of celery, diced


1.  Bring first 4 ingredients to a boil over medium-high heat.  Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes.  Increase heat to medium-high; return to a low boil.

2.  Place biscuits on a lightly floured surface.  Roll or pat each biscuit to 1/8” thickness; cut into 1/2” wide strips.

3.  Drop strips, 1 at a time, into boiling broth mixture.  Add carrots and celery.  Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent dumplings from sticking.



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Friday, March 11, 2011

Cheesy Biscuit Lasagna

If you are like me, you LOVE lasagna but HATE the time and energy it takes to make it.  Sure, I’ll do it every now and then but fast meals are the key these days.  Enter this little beauty of a recipe made with (of course) Pillsbury biscuits!  This is a great meal for kids too.  To make it even faster, just use a jarred pasta sauce and omit the first 5 ingredients.  The recipe has you cooking the biscuits on top of the sauce in the oven, but I find that the biscuits never cook all the way through so I modified it below.  Recipe from Pillsbury.


-1 lb ground beef

-1 jar (28 oz) tomato pasta sauce

-1 tsp garlic powder

-1 tsp Italian seasoning

-1/2 tsp pepper

-1 can (12 oz) Pillsbury Golden Homestyle buttermilk biscuits (10 count)

-1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (4 oz)

-1/2 cup cottage cheese

-1 Tbsp parsley flakes (dried)

-1/2 tsp dried minced onion

-1/2 tsp dried basil leaves

-2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese


1.  Heat oven to 400 degrees.  In a skillet cook ground beef over medium-high heat until thoroughly cooked; drain.  Stir in pasta sauce, garlic powder, Italian seasoning and pepper.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer 10 minutes.

2.  Separate dough into 10 biscuits.  Press or roll each into 4” round.  In small bowl, mix mozzarella cheese, cottage cheese, parsley flakes, onion and basil until well blended.  Place about 2 Tbsp cheese mixture on each biscuit round.  Fold dough in half over filling; press edges with fork to seal.

3.  Lightly spray a cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray.  Place each completed biscuit on the cookie sheet.  Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. 

4.  Bake 15 to 18 minutes or until biscuits are golden brown.  Serve biscuits on top of sauce.



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Monday, March 7, 2011

Meal Planning Monday and One Month to Go!

So, we’re in the home stretch with this whole pregnancy thing.  I am SO ready to be done!  Our sweet little baby girl Grayson will be here one month from this week.  Hard to believe!  Still lots to do to get ready.  Thought you all might enjoy a little belly shot (this was a couple weeks ago – sorry it’s blurry):

DSC_0015Feeling big and uncomfortable and not sleeping much, but well, that’s the way it goes.  :)  Anyway, on with Meal Planning Monday!  Tried a lot of great recipes last week and I’ll be posting those soon.  (For those new followers – Hello! – recipes that are already posted have links attached to them).

Meals for March 7 to March 20:

Monday/Tuesday – Hot Dogs, Creamy Dilled Potato Salad (new – leftover from last week)

Wednesday – Out to dinner for the last time just me and the hubby.  :)

Thursday/Friday/SaturdayCheeseburger Soup, rolls/biscuits

Monday/Tuesday – Slow Cooker Pork Chops with Apple-Cherry Stuffing (new), Zucchini

Wednesday/ThursdayDeli Rotisserie Chicken, Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes, Peas

Friday/SaturdayZesty Lime Tacos, rice, beans

Freezer MealsAmerican Lasagna, Lemony Chicken

Friday, March 4, 2011

Cherry Tomato & Ham Focaccia

Just the picture of this alone in Family Circle magazine made me want to make it right then!  I’ve actually modified this recipe to make it much simpler.  They use frozen pizza dough (which takes longer to bake) so I used the Pillsbury pizza dough.  Also, the original recipe is for prosciutto and I used ham, which is easier to find but you can use either.  What really makes this a winner is roasting the tomatoes.  Make sure you use the basil also – I rarely buy fresh herbs but it really makes this delicious.  Enjoy!


-1 can Pillsbury pizza dough

-2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese (can be omitted)

-1.5 pounds cherry tomatoes, halved (I used grape tomatoes and quartered them)

-1 large shallot, minced (I used 1/4 onion, minced)

-2 garlic cloves, minced

-1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

-1/2 tsp salt

-1/4 tsp black pepper

-2 cups baby arugula (can be omitted)

-8 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded

-3 ounces prosciutto, cut or torn lengthwise (I used shaved ham, cut into bite-sized pieces)

-2 Tbsp fresh basil, sliced into ribbons


1.  Heat oven to 325.  Toss together tomatoes, shallot (onion), garlic, vinegar, salt and pepper in a medium-sized bowl.  Spread tomatoes in an even layer in a rimmed baking sheet (I used an 8x8 Pyrex) and roast at 325 for 20-30 minutes or until soft.  Remove from oven and gently stir in arugula (optional).  Heat oven to temperature on pizza dough package.

2.  Lightly spray cookie sheet or rimmed baking sheet with non-stick spray and spread out pizza dough per directions on the package.  Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.  Sprinkle 1 cup of the mozzarella over dough and scatter tomato mixture over top using a slotted spoon.  Distribute prosciutto (ham) over tomatoes.  Sprinkle remaining mozzarella over the top and bake per directions on pizza dough package.  Cool 5 minutes, then sprinkle with basil.




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