June 7, 2012

It's that time of year...

....when meal plans go by the wayside, days are long and it's starting to get hot! It's been almost a month since I posted the last meal plan and I did a pretty decent job sticking to it, but I think I'm done w/ meal planning till the weather cools down a bit. I promise that I am still feeding my family! We eat a lot more salads, cold pastas, fruits, we love to grill and I definitely play it by ear since I'm never quite sure when Jay will get home or if Lane wants to just have several small meals throughout the evening.

May 8, 2012

Weekly Meal Plan - May 6-11

Well hello there! It has been to long since I have made a meal plan of any sort...I have been winging it lately. I actually made one this week and am going to try my darnedest to stick to it! Although I have to say that once we hit this time of year (spring, the hubby in the fields and getting home later aka 'Ag Deployment') I tend to not cook as much. I do a lot more grilling or we eat salads, I'm even happy with just a lunch meat sandwich.

I try to have the little man fed around 7 pm sometimes I eat with him and leave Jay to fend for himself. Sometimes if I want to make something I know the little man won't eat, I'll feed him one of his favorites and then cook the meal right around 7:30 so that it is ready when Jay gets home. I never thought I would be one of those parents who cook different meals but when you have a kid who turns picky you will do anything to try to get him to eat! A lot of times the little stinker just prefers to graze all evening, he'll have fruit then he will have crackers, then something else - I swear he is a bottomless pit!

Here is my Meal Plan this week - I planned it all w/ foods I have at home. That's another bonus to this time of year - my grocery bill lightens as I don't cook as often.

  • Steak Tips in Gravy w/ Crock pot Mashed Potatoes
  • FFA Banquet
  • Brats & Hotdogs on the grill
  • (Crockpot) Dump Chicken - new pinterest recipe
  • Boys are on their own as my sister and I will be attending the Jason Aldean/Luke Bryan concert at the Civic Center
  • Taco Pasta
  • Shrimp Scampi

March 12, 2012

Weekly Meal Plan: March 11-17

I totally slacked off last week, I had a meal plan made on Thursday (the 1st) and made a grocery list, got my groceries and when I was cleaning out my purse on Saturday I pitched it. That was the only place that I had written out my meals for the week! Oops! So last week I was winging it.

This week, however, I am back on track! I planned it out and wrote it in my inventory google doc. So here is the week's meal plan.

  • Lunch - Brats on the grill
  • Dinner - Fish packets (oven)
  • Baked Mac & Cheese
  • Chicken Quesadillas
  • Burgers on the grill w/ Foil packet potatoes
  • Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole (new recipe)
  • Breakfast Casserole
Saturday - Gone to Hearts at Home Conference (MOPS) at ISU

February 28, 2012

Weekly Meal Plan - February 26 - March 3..and a Recipe!

Oops! Sorry that this is a couple days late....crazy busy weekend and then I barely cracked open the computer last night. I'm already switching things around and probably moving a few things to next week. Last night I had the headache from hell that left me feeling blah so we ended up eating popcorn for dinner. Lane thought that was awesome by the way! Tonight we have an FFA Alumni meeting so we will probably do leftovers or something quick. Tomorrow night is the annual Marshall-Putnam-Stark Beef Association Meeting (of which Jay is the President). So looks like I'm only going to be cooking Thursday, Friday & Saturday this week haha! Sunday we went to the IL Beef Expo and had Chinese leftovers for dinner (and Sonic for a mid afternoon meal). So here's what the menu plan was supposed to look like...definitely did not happen this way though!

  • Lunch - IL Beef Expo
  • Dinner - Chicken Stir Fry (instead we had leftover Chinese that I brought home Saturday afternoon)
  • Chicken & Dumplings (popcorn instead, moving this to Saturday)
  • Waffles, Bacon & Scrambled Eggs (FFA Alumni meeting, not sure what we'll actually be eating)
  • MPS Beef Dinner - Prime Rib Family Style...YUM!
  • Easy Lasagna w/ Garlic Bread (using frozen hot dog buns for this)
  • Hardshell Taco's
  • Lunch - Leftovers/Sandwiches 
  • Dinner - Chicken & Dumplings (from Tuesday)

The recipe that I would like to share with you this week is Shrimp Scampi. I finally made it the correct way last Tuesday...omg so delish!! This is definitely not for those of you on a diet as the shrimp are swimming in buttery goodness! We just ate the shrimp w/o pasta on Tuesday, but I've made it with pasta before...yummy either way!

Shrimp Scampi Bake
(from babycenter CFYF board)

1 cup butter
2 T prepared Dijon-style mustard
1 T fresh lemon juice
1 T chopped garlic
1 T chopped fresh parsley (I used dried parsley, about 1 tsp)
2 lb medium raw shrimp, shelled, de-veined, with tails attached

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C).

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter, mustard, lemon juice, garlic, and parsley. When the butter melts completely, remove from heat.

Arrange shrimp in a shallow baking dish. Pour the butter mixture over the shrimp.

Bake in preheated oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until the shrimp are pink and opaque.

Serve w/ angel hair pasta

6 servings

Sandy's Note: To keep the sauce from separating, combine the sauce ingredients in a small glass bowl and microwave until the butter is just melted.

February 20, 2012

Weekly Meal Plan - Feb 19-25 and a recipe

I'm a day late w/ this. Had it figured out for the most part Friday night. Then I had to go back and switch things around since I remembered that we have a Shrove Tuesday Pancake supper at our church tomorrow night. So here is the (semi) finalized meal plan for the week:

  • Lunch - Hot Hammies
  • Dinner - Sausage Stuffed Shells
  • Shrimp Scampi Bake w/ Rice
  • Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper @ Church
  • Crock Pot Chicken & Dumplings

  • Leftovers (might bring Pizza home as I have a hair appointment)
  • Meatballs Burgandy over Egg Noodles w/ Cheesy Baked Veggies

  • Lunch - Leftovers/Sandwiches
  • Dinner - Burgers w/ Seasoned Tater Wedges

I am definitely doing better with Meal Planning, it helps when I post it here (and also on the CFYF board on Babycenter). I have more of a tendency to hold myself accountable to actually cook meals (and now that I'm home by 4:30 I really shouldn't have any excuses right?). Let me know if you want any recipes that you don't see posted, I'm more than happy to share my recipes (or sometimes methods)!!

The recipe that I want to share with you this week is one that came from my MOPS group, it is Crock Pot Chicken & Dumplings. It is incredibly easy and fool proof! This recipe can be tailored to your likings - I've added cream of mushroom soup to it, you could also whip up a roux and add that in to thicken it up.

Crock Pot Chicken & Dumplings

3-4 b/s chicken breasts (I start off w/ frozen)
1 box chicken stock (plus some water if needed)
1 bag frozen mixed veggies
1 can refrigerated biscuits, quartered
seasonings to taste (I use salt/pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and sometimes a pinch of dried sage).

Place chicken breasts and veggies in crock pot. Pour in chicken stock (the liquid should cover the breasts & veggies, may need to add a bit of water to achieve this). Add in seasonings, cover and cook on low 6-8 hours. Pull chicken out and shred (I use my kitchen aid mixer for this), place back in liquid. About 45 minutes before serving place quartered biscuits in crock (be sure to push down under liquid, they will pop back up which is ok). Cover and cook an additional 45 minutes (30 minutes for a more doughy 'dumpling'). Enjoy!

Notes: This recipe can be done in 4-5 hours, I only say 6-8 because I generally throw it in the crock pot in the morning before leaving for work so it's cooking all day long. The chicken is usually cooked through at the 5 hour mark. 

February 12, 2012

Weekly Meal Plan: February 12-18

Here is the meal plan for the week. We won't be going out to celebrate Valentine's Day on the 14th, instead we will go to Johnny's Italian Steakhouse on Friday night so that we don't have to deal w/ the crazy crowds and price markups at restaurants....

  • Lunch - Fried Egg & Ham Sandwiches
  • Dinner - Frozen Pizza
  • MOPS! Taco Pasta
  • Chicken Pot Pie
  • Beef Stroganoff over Mashed Potatoes w/ Green Beans
  • Stuffed Shells
  • Out for Valentine's Day
  • Lunch - leftovers/sandwiches
  • Dinner - Hot Hammies

A Few of My Favorite Desserts!

Here are a couple of tried and true dessert recipes. This first recipe has been in my family for many years. My mom submitted it to our church cookbook many many years ago, it is a recipe that we make every year during the holidays. These sugar cookies are by far the best that I've ever had, so soft and fluffy, they are a cookie that never browns. Such a great cut out cookie recipe! 

Sister Sada's Super Soft Sugar Cookies

1 c margerine
2 eggs
1 t baking powder
1 t salt
4 c flour
1 3/4 c sugar
1 8 oz container sour cream
1 t soda

Preheat oven to 350. Mix together dry ingredients (minus sugar). Cream margarine and sugar together. Add eggs and sour cream. Mix well. Gradually add in dry ingredients, mixing well. Roll these cookies out for cut out cookies, batter will be quite sticky at first so be sure to knead some flour into it. Up to 2 cups flour can be added when rolling out the dough. Roll to about 1/4 inch thick. Cookies will not brown and will rise high. Sprinkle w/ sugar before baking or frost afterwards. I also usually grease my cookie sheets. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.

Notes: When baking these cookies rise up but never out so you can place them fairly close on the cookie sheet and not worry about them sticking together. I usually add about 1 1/2 cups flour when rolling out the first time so that when I roll out my scraps I can use a little more flour and they won't be too dry.

This next dessert is one of my Dad's favorites, I've also made it for family gatherings on my Dad's side and if my cousin Mike is there he'll have at least 2 pieces!

Robert Redford Dessert

Layer 1:

1 stick margarine
1 1/4 c flour
2 T powdered sugar
1 c chopped pecans

Mix and pat into 9x13 dish. Bake 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool completely.

Layer 2:

1 c cool whip
8 oz cream cheese
1 c sugar

Mix and spread over cooled crust.

Layer 3:

2 sm vanilla pudding
1 sm chocolate pudding
3 c milk

Beat for 2 minutes, pour over 2nd layer. spread top with Cool Whip and refrigerate.

You can also add shaved chocolate or mini chocolate chips.


I found this Snickerdoodle Blondie recipe on Babycenter and since I love Snickerdoodles, I had to give this one a chance. This is a bar cookie recipe and so much easier than rolling tons of cookies into a ball and then into sugar! Definitely keeping this in my recipe file :)
Snickerdoodle Blondies

2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon grated or ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup butter, room temperature
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
a pinch of nutmeg

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease and/or line a 9x13 inch pan. Combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and set aside.

2. In large bowl, beat together butter and brown sugar for 3-5 minutes. Add in the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla, and beat until smooth.

3. Stir in the flour mixture until well blended. Spread evenly in prepared pan (mixture will be somewhat cookiebatter-ish, so it’s best to spread it out with a greased spatula or your hands). Combine the granulated sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a little bowl. Evenly sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture over the top of the batter.

4. Bake 25-30 minutes or until surface springs back when gently pressed. Cool before cutting. Makes 20-24 bars.


This last recipe is another one from Babycenter. The original recipe was for cookies, but the day I made them I didn't feel like messing w/ drop cookies, that and I doubled the recipe so I just made them into bar cookies. They were delicious and have a cake like texture. If you are doubling this recipe, be sure to have a very large mixing bowl handy! I made them in my 5 qt Kitchen-Aid stand mixer and it was filled to the next time I will be using my gigantic Tupperware bowl.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars

1- 12.5 oz can pumpkin
2 eggs lightly beaten
2 cups sugar
1 cup veggie oil
2 tsp. milk
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
12 oz package milk chocolate chips

Combine all of these ingredients in a large bowl.

In a separate smaller bowl combine:

4 cups flour
4 tsp. baking powder

Slowly combine the flour/baking powder into the cookie mixture.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spread into greased Jelly Roll pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

February 6, 2012

Weekly Meal Plan: February 5th to February 11th

Whoops! Here is the meal plan a day late and I have already switched a few things up haha! Hopefully I'll be able to get on sometime this week to post a few recipes.

This week is going to be a bit crazy! I started a new job today and with that new job comes new hours. I start a whole hour earlier than my old job (but I get out 30 minutes earlier than I used to) we will be establishing our new routine this week.

I tend to make meals that are easy and quick during the week, I save the more in depth meals for the weekend.

  • Lunch - PB & J, fruit
  • Dinner - Superbowl snacks: Quesadillas, guacamole, fiesta ranch dip, pita chips, hummus
  • Bean & Cheese Enchiladas w/ Salad

  • Chili w/ Cornbread or Biscuits

  • Chicken & Stuffing Casserole

  • Wings @ Bowling Alley

  • Leftovers

  • Lunch - PB & J or Mac & Cheese
  • Dinner - Orange chicken w/ brown rice & veggie

February 5, 2012

Meal Planning Challenge...The overview

I think that the Meal Planning Challenge was a success although if you were to look at my inventory - it's still pretty full...but that only means that I can continue to challenge myself to plan meals around what I have on hand. I have saved so much this month just by utilizing all that food I have sitting around and even though I was still shopping every week, I was only picking up things like milk, fresh fruits, a few missing ingredients and household supplies. Lane even tried some new things and loved them!

I still have several meals that we didn't get to make due to last minute changes in plans so I am going to continue my planning into the month of February (which means that you will see some 'repeat' meals)! I will keep track of everything in my inventory list. You will see tabs at the bottom for each month, this way I can keep track of what meals we've had and not double anything up too much.

I will be posting our meal plan later on today and possibly a few more recipes. I have lots of food to make for us to snack on while watching the Super Bowl tonight though. We will have Quesadillas, Guacamole, Wings (for Jay), Fiesta Ranch Dip, Cheesy Bread or Garlic Bread Sticks - not sure which. And if I'm feeling really ambitious I may whip up some Hummus w/ a can of chickpeas I have sitting in the cupboard and then bake up some pita chips to go along with.

January 29, 2012

Meal Planning Challenge....Week 4

Well, this is the last official week of my meal planning challenge. My inventory is slowly dwindling and the truth is that I could probably keep going with this on into February! Last week was  a crazy week and we ate out a couple of nights, so I've got a few extra meals. I was also a bit uninspired by the meals I had planned or I didn't properly prepare my grocery list so there were a couple meals that I couldn't make until I made a trip to the store.

Here is this weeks menu plan. It's not quite the same as what my inventory list was, but that's ok.

Week of January 29 - February 4

  • Lunch - Rotary Pancake Breakfast
  • Dinner - Spinach Lasagna Rolls
  • Salmon Packets w/ Rice & Salad

  • Chicken Pot Pie w/ Salad

  • Bean & Cheese Enchiladas (with beef) w/ Rice Side

  • Italian Beef on Kaiser Rolls w/ Corn or Peas

  • Chicken Divan

  • Lunch - Leftovers
  • Dinner - Leftovers/Out

This weeks recipe: Spinach Lasagna Rolls. I found this recipe on, when I was doing Weight Watchers. We like it so much that I've kept it in the rotation. I modified it slightly, I only make 8 noodles and I add in a little bit of milk to make the ricotta filling a bit creamier. And depending on what I have for cheese, I just place a half slice of mozzarella or provolone cheese on top of the rolls.

Spinach Lasagna Rolls
Gina's Weight Watcher Recipes

8 lasagna noodles, cooked
10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and completely drained
15 oz fat free ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 c milk
1 egg
salt and fresh pepper
32 oz tomato sauce
1/2 c part skim mozzarella cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine spinach, ricotta, Parmesan, egg, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Ladle about 1 cup sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 12 baking dish.

Place a piece of wax paper on the counter and lay out lasagna noodles. Make sure noodles are dry. Take 1/3 cup of ricotta mixture and spread evenly over noodle. Roll carefully and place seam side down onto the baking dish. Repeat with remaining noodles.

Ladle sauce over the noodles in the baking dish and top each one with 1 tbsp mozzarella cheese. Put foil over baking dish and bake for 40 minutes, or until cheese melts. Makes 8 rolls.

To serve, ladle a little sauce on the plate and top with lasagna roll.

January 23, 2012

Meal Planning Challenge...Week 3

Well, it's a day late but it's been a little crazy around here! I've already switched around a few meals this week so if you are looking at my inventory list, it might be a bit off.

Week of January 22-28

  • Lunch - Frozen Pierogies
  • Dinner - Easy Chicken Taquitos
  • Waffles & Scrambled Eggs

  • Baked Tilapia w/ Fried Taters

  • Mexican Taco Casserole w/ Spanish Rice

  • Out/leftovers??

  • Spinach Lasagna Rolls w/ Cheesy California Veggies

  • Lunch - Leftovers
  • Dinner - Turkey & Stuffing Casserole w/ Salad

The recipe that I am sharing this week is Easy Chicken Taquitos. I was inspired by a recipe from, I gave it my own spin and it was delish! I did have some leftover meat and corn tortillas so I made extra taquitos and froze them for individual use.

Easy Chicken Taquitos

3 cans chicken breast in water, drained
1/4 c taco sauce (I use mid)
large pack of corn tortillas
1/2 can cream of chicken soup
1/4-1/3 c milk
1 T fajita seasoning
shredded cheese

Mix together first two ingredients (I used my kitchen aid mixer for this). Heat tortilla's one at a time in skillet over medium heat till flexible. Place 1 heaping tbsp of chicken mixture on tortilla and roll up, place seam side down in 7x11 baking dish. Continue process until pan is full. Heat chicken soup, milk and fajita seasoning over medium heat in small sauce pan. Pour over taquitos and then sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Optional - you can serve with sour cream, taco sauce, tomatoes, lettuce, etc. You could also add cheese into the chicken mixture.

Notes: You could probably use a 9x13 pan and all the taquitos would fit, I ended up with extra meat since I used a smaller pan.

January 19, 2012

Leftovers and a Recipe :)

I had leftovers on the meal plan tonight only there are no leftovers! My husband will be happy as he is not a fan of leftovers, and to be honest I'm picky about what I'll eat for leftovers. So it's looking like either Pizza night or Alfredo Tortellini & Sausage.

I tried a new recipe this week, Honey Sauced Chicken. I wasn't sure if the picky one (Lane) would eat it, but I dished up a Chicken breast, some brown rice and a small serving of salad w/ a tiny bit of dressing. Lane was digging into his salad and the next thing I knew, he's gobbling up the chicken! Yippee, a new recipe that he will eat...success!

I didn't make the recipe exactly as stated since I was missing one ingredient...ketchup. I'm still not sure how I feel about ketchup in the recipe but I should at least try the recipe once as it was written. Also, I started out w/ whole frozen chicken breasts, so I baked this at 350 for 40 minutes covered in foil, then I removed the foil, turned the chicken over and baked an additional 30 ish minutes. Next time I will definitely use more chicken as there was a lot of sauce.

Honey Sauced Chicken

1.5 pound chicken (of your choice)
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 cup honey
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup chopped onion (or 1/16 cup onion flakes)
1/4 cup ketchup
2 Tbs. vegetable oil
2 clove garlic, minced
a pinch of red pepper flakes

Season both sides of chicken with salt and pepper, put into crock pot. In a small bowl combine honey, soy sauce, onion, ketchup, oil, garlic and pepper flakes. Pour over chicken. Cook on low for 3 hours or on high 1 1/2 hours. Chicken into bite size pieces, then return to pot and toss with sauce. Serve over rice or noodles.

To bake chicken as a 30 minute meal:
Dice chicken and season both sides with salt and pepper, place in 8x8 pan. Pour sauce over chicken and bake at 350 for 20 minutes, stirring after 10 minutes.

January 14, 2012

Meal Planning Challenge...Week 2

Well, I've already had to make a change to this weeks plans haha! Dear hubs came home for lunch today and as he was leaving he asked what was for dinner tonight (Sunday), I told him that Spaghetti was on the menu - which is on the fridge. Apparently he had Spaghetti for lunch at Grandma's yesterday so we had Chicken George for dinner tonight, Lane also requested popcorn (he asks almost every day for popcorn) so we had that to finish off the meal. Tomorrow night I will make Spaghetti w/ Garlic Bread and Salad before my MOPS Steering meeting. Every once in a while we run into these little hiccups in our meal plans and it usually happens when I'm really wanting to make that meal! Most of the time I haven't started it yet, so I can switch - but if I'm mid meal, I'm not turning back...

I have to say, it has been fun coming up with meals for the next 3 weeks. I have a few new recipes that I will be trying out but many of them are already favorites of ours. I was successful this last week in serving the meal I had planned along with a side dish - although I did forget the sweet potato fries to go along with the Crescent dogs I rallied and served peaches!

There are a few things on my inventory list that will probably stay on there like soups and tortellini as they are something quick that I can pull out on short notice or busy nights. Also, the fish sticks and chicken nuggets are in there for Lane - he has hit a picky stage and if I am making something that I know he won't eat then he will have one of those two things instead (or a PB & J sandwich). I have to say though, the kid loves his fruits and veggies which is great for Jay & I! Lane's favorites are grapes, apples, bananas and oranges and I haven't made a veggie that he has turned away :) 

I had planned on making Stuffed French Toast for lunch tomorrow but since we are still eating on the pan of Baked French Toast from Thursday, I think I will rearrange a few things. Here is the menu plan for this week (Sun-Sat). 

  • Lunch: Fried Egg Sandwiches
  • Dinner: Chicken George and Popcorn
  • MOPS Steering mtg - Spaghetti w/ Garlic Bread and Salad
  • Honey Sauced Chicken w/ Rice & Salad (new recipe)
  • Baked Mac & Cheese w/ Applesauce
  • Leftovers
  • Goulash w/ Garlic bread & Corn
  • Lunch: Leftovers
  • Dinner: White Lasagna w/ Garlic bread & Salad
I have 2 frozen bags of hot dog buns that I will be using for Garlic Bread (I am so excited that I have an oven w/ a working broiler now!). If you are  wondering what Chicken George is, it is fried chicken breast strips served with this delightfully yummy sauce called Jans Sauce. It comes from The Candlelight Inn, located is in Rock Falls, IL (there is also another location in Sterling). We usually bring home a pound or two each time we visit my grandparents.

Last week I made Creamy Chicken & Wild Rice Soup, it was a new recipe and I had made it one other time but improvised and it didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped. This time I made it almost according to directions with a few minor improvements based on previous experience. For instance, I actually made the roux instead of using cream of chicken soup which made a world of difference! The only improvements I made were to add 2 boxes of Rice A Roni and then I added in the mushrooms along with the celery & carrots. Delish!  This is another recipe that will be added into my rotation!

Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup (Crockpot)
CFYF board, Baby Center

4 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 pkgs of Rice-a-Roni long grain and wild rice
1 cup grated carrots
1 cup diced celery
1 can mushrooms, drained
1/2 tsp salt (plus more to taste)
1/2 tsp pepper
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup butter
1 cup half and half

Mix the broth, water, carrots, mushrooms, chicken and rice seasoning packet (leave out rice until shortly before serving) in the slow cooker. Cook on low for six to eight hours or on high for four hours. About an hour before serving, pull out the chicken and shred it (using your Kitchen Aid mixer w/ paddle attachment works well), add it back and then add in the rice.

Mix the salt, pepper and flour in a small bowl. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and add in the flour mixture. Stir well, slowly add in the half and half and whisk until smooth. Stir this yummy mixture into the soup and let it cook for 30-45 minutes. 

Notes:  I used all of the roux the first time I made this and it was more like a thick stew.  Still delicious, but if you want more of a soup consistency then add in about half of the mix to start with.

January 10, 2012


Here a few more recipes that I have in my arsenal. I have not yet made the Baked French Toast one, but how can you go wrong with a Paula Deen recipe??

This first recipe is one that I received from my friend Becky at my wedding shower in Michigan. Her husband is a chef and created this version of Mac & Cheese. It is now my go to recipe and I always receive compliments on it when I make it for potlucks! It is definitely not for those on a diet that's for sure!

Baked Mac & Cheese

1 box ridged penne pasta (cooked)
2 T butter
2 T plus 1 t flour
1/2 t garlic powder
1/4 t curry powder
2 c heavy whipping cream
5 slices american cheese
1 c shredded cheddar cheese (i use whatever shredded cheese i have handy)
1/2 sleeve crushed ritz crackers

In medium saucepan melt butter, add flour and stir till bubbly and blonde in color, add spices and stir. Add whipping cream and bring to a boil - add cheeses and stir till melted. Add cooked penne pasta to cheese sauce and mix, pour into 9 inch greased baking dish. Cover w/ ritz crackers - bake @ 350 for 15 minutes, or till bubbly. ENJOY!!

I found this recipe on Pinterest and had planned to make it for Christmas morning but with Jay having to scoot on over to the farm to get chores done, I decided to save it for a later date. I will be making this Thursday (which means I better assemble it Wednesday night). I'm sure it will be delicious though!

Pecan Praline Baked French Toast

1 loaf French bread (13 to 16 ounces)
8 large eggs
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Dash salt
Praline Topping, recipe follows
Maple syrup

Slice French bread into 20 slices, 1-inch each. (Use any extra bread for garlic toast or bread crumbs). Arrange slices in a generously buttered 9 by 13-inch flat baking dish in 2 rows, overlapping the slices. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, half-and-half, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and beat with a rotary beater or whisk until blended but not too bubbly. Pour mixture over the bread slices, making sure all are covered evenly with the milk-egg mixture. Spoon some of the mixture in between the slices. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Spread Praline Topping evenly over the bread and bake for 40 minutes, until puffed and lightly golden. Serve with maple syrup.

Praline Topping:

1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and blend well. Makes enough for Baked French Toast Casserole.

When I make Lasagna, I don't really follow a recipe. I just layer it all together and hope for the best! I have been making this with sausage for years now (got the idea from an ex-boyfriend's step mom, thanks Sue!), and now when I have Lasagna w/ hamburger it just isn't quite right to me. I also like it extra cheesy and melty, so I add in shredded cheese and parmesan cheese between my layers! Yum! I have also done a 'white' version using alfredo sauce, I add thawed chopped spinach (frozen box) that has been well drained/squeezed to the sauce as well.


9 lasagna noodles, cooked slightly underdone
1 lb sausage, browned & drained
1-1.5 jars pasta sauce
2/3 c cottage cheese or ricotta
1/3 c parmesan cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
shredded cheese
extra parmesan cheese

Mix pasta sauce w/ cooked & drained sausage. Mix together cottage/ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese and egg. In 9x9 greased baking dish pour in ½ ladle of meat mixture, then top w/ a couple dollops of cheese mix, spread both around bottom so there is an even layer of sauces. Lay down 3 noodles side by side, trimming to fit in pan. Pour in a ladle (or two or three) of meat sauce and spread around, top w/ cheese mixture and spread out. Sprinkle a bit of shredded cheese over this, then add in a bit of parmesan cheese. Lay in 3 more egg noodles, repeat meat & cheeses, then top w/ last 3 egg noodles. Finish off with the sauces and then sprinkle some parmesan cheese down, top w/ a liberal layer of shredded cheese. Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes or until cheese is nice and melted and gooey!

January 8, 2012

Meal Planning Challenge - The first week!

I have just completed an inventory of my freezer, fridge and pantry and have realized that I have more than enough food to get us through most of the month of January! For one thing, I have way too much freezer space (2 chest freezers and 2 fridge freezers) and not enough pantry space. I was constantly buying groceries for meals that I didn't have ingredients for and soon started running out of space, non perishable food was/is sitting in bags on the floor of my kitchen because I don't have anywhere to put it. 

My challenge to myself for the month of January is to make as many meals as I can with the food I have and to also make at least 1 side with each meal (unless making a casserole loaded w/ veggies). I will still go grocery shopping as needed for perishable items like milk and fresh fruit and veggies. Here is my inventory list! If something is crossed out, I am using it up in the current weeks menu plan. I do not have all my spices or baking supplies listed, but I have quite the pantry full :) 

I should also mention that I have a [somewhat] endless supply of beef (roasts, hamburger, steaks, stew meat) thanks to Jay's family getting a steer butchered once a year or so. The pork that I have came from Wyanet Locker - I bought 1/2 hog last February or March, so the only meats that I buy at the store are chicken breasts and seafood. So if you see a meal w/ beef, and nothing is crossed off on my list - it's because I don't have all of my beef listed out (but I'm not buying it from the store). 

I usually plan at least 5 dinners and 2 lunches (Sat/Sun) for the week, this allows for leftovers and events or take-out. My meal plan will run Sunday thru Saturday and I have yet to figure out the best grocery shopping day for me. We are really not big breakfast eaters during the work week, Lane eats dry cereal, a fruit bar or toast before we head out. I eat my breakfast at work, and Jay will grab something at Grandma's once he gets chores done. For my lunches, I will either take leftovers or a frozen meal. I am going to try to get better about not buying lunch all the time (which means that I need to actually cook dinner at night!).

Week of January 8th - January 14th

   Lunch - Grilled cheese & tomato soup
   Dinner - Pork Roast w/ glazed carrots
Monday: MOPS (the boys are on their own)
Tuesday: Crockpot Creamy Chicken & Wild Rice Soup w/ Biscuits
Wednesday: Crescent Dogs w/ Sweet potato fries
Thursday: Pecan Baked French Toast
Friday: Leftovers (I was just informed that this is Henry's Basketball Homecoming and there will be subs)
  Lunch - Leftovers
  Dinner - Hot Hammies

Each week I would like to share at least one recipe with you in this post (may post other recipes during the week). This week I am sharing the recipe for Hot Hammies. These little sandwiches are so delicious and heavenly, I think I could eat them once a week! My amounts are in red, the full recipe makes a ton and since only Jay & I eat these, we don't need that many.

Hot Hammies
from CFYF group on BabyCenter

2 pkgs Kings Hawaiian Rolls (2 dozen total) (4 pk Hawaiian sub rolls) 
1 lb shaved ham (honey ham is good, too) (1/2 lb ham)
8 oz. Swiss cheese – shredded (2 slices swiss cheese, halved)
¾ cup butter, melted (6 tbs butter)
1 ½ tbsp Poppy Seeds (scant 1 tbs)
1 ½ tbsp Worcestershire Sauce (scant 1 tbs)
1 ½ tbsp Dijon mustard (scant 1 tbs)
Whisk together butter, poppy seeds, Worcestershire sauce and mustard.  Cut rolls in half and place bottoms in 9x13 pan (8x8 dish).  Layer with ham and then Swiss cheese.  Drizzle ¾ of the mixture on top of the cheese and then cover with tops of rolls.  Brush remaining sauce mixture on the tops of the rolls and then cover it with foil.  Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes (until cheese is melted) then remove foil and continue baking for 5 more minutes.