Saturday, November 29, 2008

Out of business for awhile!

I'm sure you've picked up on the fact that my baby boy has arrived since I haven't posted anything in the last several days. He was born on November 19th at 9:36 PM weighing 10 pounds and measuring 21.5" long. We make big babies, what can I say. Some of my friends (and my mom) have very graciously been bringing us dinner which has been so nice. With my first son we ate a lot of take-out because we didn't have friends in this part of town, and it has been SO NICE to have awesome, yummy, home-cooked meals delivered to us at dinner time.

Here's a picture of the newest love of my life (in addition of course to the husband and the boy):

Monday, November 17, 2008

Pioneer Woman's Favorite Sandwich

Let me tell you how hard it was to come up with a menu for this week. My due date is Thursday. Last Thursday my doctor told me I was 5 centimeters dilated, which I took to mean, "This kid is coming soon, and this kid is coming fast." Here I am on Monday still pregnant with few signs my next son is going to make his grand appearance any time soon. I go to the doctor again on Wednesday and fully plan on saying, "Aside from some kind of drug, do what you can to get this kid out of me!" So I figured I'd plan dinners through Thursday and call it good.

I wanted to try to add in at least one vegetarian dinner since we'll be mostly relying on meals from friends over the coming weeks (that is, if this kid is ever born!). I remembered how much we loved these sandwiches the one other time I made them, so I figured it was worth having them again. I'm excited. I heart Pioneer Woman. She's one of my Facebook friends but only because I saw a link for her FB profile on her website and decided to be a stalker. Really, she's the only one of my friends on there that I don't actually know. Anyway. I have yet to be disappointed with anything of hers that I've made. I kind of take that back, her lasagna was only okay, but it wasn't bad. Plus I'm hoping enough chilies on my sandwich might get things going and start labor. Fingers crossed...I wouldn't mind this being my last meal before becoming a mom of two!

Pioneer Woman's Favorite Sandwich
whatever type of sandwich bread you like...I used wheat (PW likes rye)
mild cheddar cheese slices
provolone cheese slices
sliced tomato
thinly sliced red onion
canned Hatch whole green chiles
1 Tablespoon of mayo
1 Tablespoon of Dijon mustard
Lots of softened butter or margarine


1) For spreadable sauce: Thoroughly combine 1 Tablespoon of mayo and 1 Tablespoon of Dijon mustard in a small bowl.
2) Spread a very thin layer of sauce mixture on the inside of both pieces of the bread that you will be using to construct your sandwich.
3) Place two slices of tomato and some thin red onion slices on one side of the bread. Then, top that bread piece with 2 slices of provolone cheese and one or two slices of whole green chiles. Don't be shy with the green chiles.
4) On the other piece of bread, place 2 slices of cheddar cheese, and very carefully close your sandwich. Be gentle.
5) Now, spread a generous amount of butter on each side of the tops of the bread, not missing anything. Really butter 'em good! Seriously, use the is okay.
6) Heat a non stick skillet over LOW heat, and cook on each side (flipping once)...5 minutes per side. You can turn the heat up to Medium-Low (but do not heat past Medium) to get your desired brown/toastiness accomplished.

I started mine on low and then turned it up during cooking to get my bread nice and toasted. THE TRICK IS TO BE PATIENT AND NOT TURN THE HEAT UP TOO HIGH. I promise your patience will be rewarded.

Also, these babies are tricky to flip. Be careful.

7) Remove ooey-gooey delectable sandwich from skillet and cut into halves. Serve immediately. Say a prayer and go to confession quickly after consuming this masterful sandwich. They are so good you will feel dirty.


Last time I did them in my electric skillet, but they were still kind of hard to flip because of the deep sides. I think I might bust out my rarely-sees-the-light-of-day electric griddle and try them on that. We're not having anything fancy as a side, just some crinkle fries and salad.

Cajun Smothered Chicken

Mmmm...sounds yummy doesn't it? It was! We had it for dinner last night. Although I have a was a mix. All I did was cut up some chicken breasts, brown them, pour in the mix, and add water. I'd recommend the mix though! :)

Saturday, November 15, 2008


I had absolutely no desire to make for dinner tonight what I had originally planned, so I found myself scurrying for something else around 3:00 this afternoon. I got tired of trying to find something and decided to just make pancakes, hashbrowns, and scrambled eggs. Who doesn't like breakfast for dinner?! I did, however, look up a real pancake recipe instead of using the mix I normally go to when the boy wants pancakes for breakfast.

Good Old Fashioned Pancakes
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 1/4 cups milk
1 egg
3 tablespoons butter, melted

1. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Make a well in the center and pour in the milk, egg and melted butter; mix until smooth.
2. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Brown on both sides and serve hot.


The only thing I changed was I added in a teaspoon of vanilla. I like the flavor it adds to pancake mix. They were really yummy...way better than my usual boxed mix. If I'm feeling up to it at some point, I may mix up all the dry ingredients and keep those bagged up and on hand for when we want pancakes.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Quick Homemade Pizza

Ah, Friday. Even though I don't work anymore, I still love Fridays and the promise of the weekend lying ahead...which means I don't have to deal with a bi-polar toddler by myself all day for two whole days. Daddy can take some of the duty too! :) Of course, this weekend is completely up in the air since kid #2 could make his grand appearance at any time.

I'm still not totally motivated to cook, but since I know my cooking nights are numbered for awhile, I'm plugging along with it. My friend Jen B. posted this pizza recipe recently on her blog that she got from our friend Jen A.. I couldn't believe how fast and easy the dough was, so I wanted to give it a try. I've had Jen A's pizza before, and it's quite tasty, I just didn't know how super easy it is to make. The boy and husband are both pizza fanatics, so I know dinner will be well received tonight, which is always a plus.

Quick Homemade Pizza
For Dough:
1 package of active dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 cup warm water
2 1/2 cups of flour
2 Tablespoons of olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon of Italian Seasoning (optional)
1 Tablespoon of garlic powder (optional)

Toppings of choice

1. Preheat oven to 450. In a medium bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water. Let stand until creamy (about 10 minutes).
2. Stir in flour, salt, & olive oil. Beat until smooth. Let rest 5 minutes.
3. While dough is resting, combine all sauce ingredients in a food processor, and blend until smooth.
4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pat or roll into a round. Transfer crust to a lightly greased pizza pan dusted with corn meal. Spread evenly with sauce. Cover with toppings in an even layer.
5. Bake 15-20 min. Let cool 5 minutes. Cut and serve!


Jen B. made her own sauce (she's such a show-off...), but I bought a jar of sauce to use because I'm lazy. ACtually I had planned to make her sauce (I think it was her recipe, not Jen A's, but if I've given false credit I apologize!!), but I forgot to look at the recipe before we left this morning. I think I used the last of my canned tomatoes the other night for the goat cheese pasta, and I know I don't have any tomato paste like it called for, so jarred sauce it is.

I wasn't really sure what I wanted to top it with, but basil was a decent price, so I figured I'd go with a basil, tomato, and fresh mozzarella. Then I decided I'd make two and do the second one with just cheese...plain ol' bagged pizza blend cheese. I'm such a mean mommy, but I just don't know if I want to introduce fresh mozzarella to my toddler. There are some things he just doesn't need to try until he's older...mostly so the husband and I don't get jipped out of yummy things like fresh mozzarella. Brie and Lucky Charms are two other things that fall into this category. King crab legs would be another. A few years ago we were in Ireland with the husband's family, and the husband gave one of our nephews a mussel to try. I think he was five at the time. To this day, our nephew still wants mussels if they go somewhere that has them. The husband's sister was pretty pissed she had to go from her son being satisfied with chicken nuggets kids' meals to demanding mussels. I don't want that to happen yet.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Chicken and Yellow Rice

I wasn't really "feeling" the dinner I had originally planned for tonight, so I consulted the menu plan to see what I could move around and make tonight instead. This was originally slated for Monday because the husband was going to be gone, but his plans changed, so I also changed dinner plans. I decided it sounded good for tonight because it's super easy, and I didn't feel like cooking. I would have tried to convince the husband to get some kind of take-out (which would not be a hard sell), but my days of cooking dinner are numbered. I had an OB appointment today and am dilated to 5 cm!!! This kid is coming ANY TIME NOW. So, given that, I figured I might as well make dinner while I'm still relatively feeling up to it.

This isn't something we have very often because I don't think the husband is a big fan. Or I never think to make it, not sure which. It's insanely easy and pretty cheap, too, so I don't know why I don't have it in higher dinner rotation. My mom would make chicken and yellow rice when I was growing up, and I had mentioned it to my friend Nanci (Hi, Nanci!!) one time, and she said that her family had it too only they added black beans to it. Actually she may have told me that's what they were having one night and we got to talking about it. I don't know, it was a long time ago. I just don't want her to feel slighted if I got the story wrong. ;) Anyway, I love black beans, so I figured I'd try it that way and have been including black beans ever since. The husband doesn't like them, so I scoop some out for him before adding in the beans. I know, I know...I'm such a good wife.

Chicken and Yellow Rice
1 package saffron rice mix
1 or 2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

Cook rice mix according to package directions. Mix in chicken and black beans.


See? Insanely easy. I'm almost embarassed to include it, but I had included it before so what the hell. I was worried it wasn't going to be enough but there's at least one--if not two--servings left. The boy eats it pretty well, too. We didn't have anything fancy with it, just some peas and salad.

I think it would be good in a vegetarian version as well with just black beans and no chicken. Not sure how filling it would be, but it would at least be a good side dish.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Pasta with Creamy Tomato and Goat Cheese Sauce

Wow, yesterday's post was #400!! I had no idea I had that many. Exciting!

This is another recipe from the cookbook Jen B. gave me as a baby shower gift. I have some goat cheese in the fridge from our anniversary "dinner" a few weeks ago. I say "dinner" because I couldn't come up with anything to make last minute, the husband didn't want to grill, so I ran to the store and got a bunch of yummy appetizer stuff. Really that was probably a better choice than anything I would have come up with to make. They had some herb goat cheese I couldn't resist buying, but we had so many other snacks not a lot of it was eaten. I think I'm probably shy on the four ounces, but I don't think by much. I also don't think I have any complete boxes of pasta, so it will be one of those "throw all these random pasta types into the pot" nights. I kind of feel like I'm coming down with a cold, so I'm totally digging that this is going to be a fast dinner to put together.

Pasta with Creamy Tomato and Goat Cheese Sauce
1 16-ounce box farfalle or rotini pasta
2 cups favorite prepared pasta sauce
1 4-ounce log goat cheese, cut into four pieces

In a large pot of lightly salted boiling water, cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and transfer to a serving dish. In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the pasta sauce for 5-10 minutes or until lightly bubbling, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low. Add the goat cheese to the pasta sauce and stir until melted and smooth. Pour the hot sauce over the pasta; toss to coat.


I just realized I'm not sure if I have pasta sauce. I know I have some in the freezer, but I don't want to deal with defrosting that, plus it's way more than I need. I know I have some canned tomatoes and some tomato sauce, so if nothing else I'll just whip up my own really fast, unless I come across a jar of Ragu in my pantry. I think we're just going to have bread and salad on the side.


This pasta was awesome!!! We all really liked it. I did end up having some Ragu in the fridge, but there was a clump of fuzz on the inside of the lid, so I opted not to use it. Instead I poured two cans of diced tomatoes into my food processor and added some basil, oregano, and a touch of crushed red pepper, then pureed. It turned out great. Using two cans gave me more than the two cups called for in the recipe, but I actually used a little more than two cups because we like saucy pasta. The goat cheese gave it a nice creamy boost and added yummy flavor. And, since I hate washing dishes, I mixed it all together in the pot I had used to cook the pasta, not a separate serving dish.

Oh, and I just have to rave about Safeway's brand of organic, whole wheat pasta. I buy whole wheat pasta since it's better for us, but I'm not a fan of the texture of it. I was walking down the pasta aisle at Safeway last week and saw that organic, whole wheat penne was on clearance, so I grabbed a bag. Turns out that was the only pasta I had in the pantry, so I'm glad I had bought it. I was really surprised at the taste and texture--you couldn't even tell it was whole wheat pasta. I told the husband while we were eating that it was whole wheat, and he was surprised, too. I think I've found my new pasta of choice!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Herb Crusted Pork Roast

I totally thought I had posted this earlier when I posted last night's recipe, but then I realized I hadn't because I wasn't 100% sure what I was going to make tonight. I was so confident I had posted it, when I was getting out the recipe for the potatoes I made to go with it I thought, "Oh shoot I forgot to post the potato recipe with the pork roast recipe." Pregnancy brain, I tell ya.

This has been on our menu for I think three weeks now and kept getting pushed back for whatever reason. I don't know why, it's super easy to make and really tasty. Of course my lack of cooking recently probably accounts for most of the reasons why I've been pushing it back. I bought the potatoes last week for the potato recipe I wanted to make with it, and I wanted to get them used up, so tonight was the night.

Herb Crusted Pork Loin

1 (4-pound) boneless pork loin, with fat left on
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme or 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon dried basil or 2 teaspoons fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon dried rosemary or 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary

Preheat oven to 475 degrees F.

Place the pork loin on a rack in a roasting pan. Combine the remaining ingredients in a small bowl. With your fingers, massage the mixture onto the pork loin, covering all of the meat and fat.

Roast the pork for 30 minutes, fat side up, then reduce the heat to 425 degrees F and roast for an additional hour. Test for doneness using an instant-read thermometer. When the internal temperature reaches 155 degrees F, remove the roast from the oven. Allow it to sit for about 20 minutes before carving. It will continue to cook while it rests.


I buy three or four pound pork loin roasts when they're on sale and cut them up into one pound increments, so the roast I used was roughly one pound. Honestly for the three of us, it was the perfect size. The leftovers of this recipe don't taste nearly as good as when it's fresh out of the oven, so I try to use a smaller roast and avoid having leftovers. The only pieces left tonight were two skinny end pieces. Woo hoo! Since I use a much smaller roast than what's called for, I reduce the cooking times by half, so I do 15 minutes at 475 and then 30 minutes or so at 425. When I put my meat thermometer in it, it registered 170 after the 30 minutes, so that was perfect. I forgot to scale back the ingredients for the herb crust, but I think it was a good amount, gave the roast lots of flavor.

My side dish with this were Barefoot Contessa's Parmesan Smashed Potatoes from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, although the recipe is also on the Food Network website. I don't remember what the original occasion was that I wanted to make these for, maybe my anniversary at the end of October? No idea. But since I heart all things Ina, I kept moving them on the menu with the pork roast (or the elusive whole chicken I kept meaning to make last week but never actually got around to taking out of the freezer). I didn't use quite the whole three pounds of potatoes that it called for, so I scaled back all the other ingredients, too. These were AWESOME. There was just enough parmesan to give the potatoes a little oomph and zing of flavor without overpowering them. I was worried they were going to be really gummy when I was adding in the half and half, butter, and sour cream, but they weren't at all. The recipe calls for you to mix them up in the bowl of a stand mixer, but that was going to just be one more pan I'd have to wash, and frankly I had enough pans to wash tonight without adding one more to the pile. So I mashed them up in the pot I cooked the potatoes in and added everything to that.

Overall this was a really yummy down-home, good for cooler fall weather type dinner.

Herbed Chicken and Dumplings

This was our dinner last night, but I was so busy nesting yesterday I didn't get a chance to post it. Seriously, my family room has never been cleaner than it is now. Well, there's toys that somehow migrated out of the toy room and some clutter on the coffee table, but the room itself almost sparkles. We had our carpets cleaned yesterday, and I was motivated to clean with all the furniture out of the way. I cleaned baseboards (insert mental image of a pregnant woman with nine days until her due date on hands and knees with a bottle of 409 scrubbing), vacuumed the blades of the ceiling fan, vacuumed up the corners of the room to get rid of dust and cobwebs. I still need to Magic Eraser some spots on the walls, but the room looks great. Our kitchen floor, however, was a casualty to the whole carpet cleaning process. Our couch and loveseat stuck to the linoleum or something and tore it up in a couple spots. Only one is REALLY noticeable and deep. We've always said we wanted to put tile in there, so I guess this is a sign that now is the time. Anyway, in my cleaning frenzy yesterday I also completely cleaned out my car, brought in the baby swing and washed the cover, washed the boy's laundry. I don't remember what else, but I have more on my list to get done today.

On to the whole point of my blog! I was looking through October's issue of Cooking Light over the weekend (somehow I had never gone through it!) and found a recipe for chicken and dumplings that looked really good, and I already had most of the ingredients on hand to make it. Of course at the grocery store yesterday I realized I had forgotten to check the recipe before we left to see what the ingredients were that I didn't have. Oops. Turned out it was only parsley, so that's not too bad. I heart chicken and dumplings, but this was my first time making it myself. My mom made some really good ones when I was little, but she hasn't made them in years. Or at least she hasn't made them for me.

Herbed Chicken and Dumplings
Cooking spray
8 ounces skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
3/4 cup (1/4-inch) diagonally cut celery
1/2 cup (1/4-inch) diagonally cut carrot
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
3 parsley sprigs
1 bay leaf
3 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2.25 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1/2 cup)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup 1% low-fat milk

1. Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add chicken to pan; cook 4 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove chicken from pan; keep warm. Add celery and next 5 ingredients (through bay leaf) to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until onion is tender. Return chicken to pan; cook 1 minute. Add broth to pan; bring mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes.

2. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, chopped parsley, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Add milk, stirring just until moist. Spoon by heaping teaspoonfuls into broth mixture; cover and simmer 10 minutes or until dumplings are done. Discard parsley sprigs and bay leaf.


Like I said, I forgot to buy parsley, so I left that out of the soup mixture and used dried parsley in the dumplings. I also used chicken breasts instead of thighs, and I doubled the recipe since it only made two servings. I'm not sure if it's really a recipe that doubles well. I think next time I'd cut down on the amount of broth--six cups was a lot, I think four or five would have sufficed. It also needed a little something more for flavor. The broth/chicken/veggies was kind of bland. I think next time I might toss the chicken pieces in some seasoned flour before browning to give it a little extra oomph and help thicken the broth some. The dumplings, however, were FANTASTIC. The husband said he could have left the soup and just had the dumplings. The boy liked it well enough, although I don't know if he ever tried the dumplings. All in all, I'd try making this again to see if I could jazz it up a bit so there was a bit more flavor to it, but if I still couldn't get it right after that, I'd probably stop trying.

Friday, November 7, 2008


We're apparently having Benah week at our house...the pumpkin cake (which is gone, by the way), this recipe tonight, and we'll see her tomorrow for dinner, and Will and I are going to see her at the zoo on Sunday. Those last two events of course are contingent on when this baby gets here. Hopefully he at least holds off until tomorrow night so we can catch the LSU vs. Bama game (GEAUX TIGERS!!) and make it to dinner because it's at one of my most favorite places, and I'm worried if I miss it, this kid will have that held over his head for his whole life. I don't want to put that kind of burden on him.

Anyway, I've wanted to make this for awhile, but I'm not sure why I haven't. Pretty much all of the ingredients are things I normally have on hand. I was trying to come up with some new vegetarian options to have for dinner because I feel like I'm in a rut with all the veggie dinners I make. The husband said he likes all of them when I mentioned that to him last night, but I get tired of having the same things over and over and over. I'm just not a "Thursday is meatloaf night" kind of girl. I meant to post this earlier, but I've gotten sucked into reading the Twilight books and couldn't tear myself away this afternoon.

1 cup salsa
2 cups tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
4 ounce can chopped green chilies, undrained
14 ounce can pinto or kidney beans, rinsed and strained
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano

1 11-oz bag tortilla chips
1 cup sour cream
2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese
2 Tbsp minced cilantro, optional

Preheat oven to 350. Combine all sauce ingredients in a large bowl. Pour half the sauce into a shallow baking dish (Pyrex 12x7x2) and top with half the chips. Drop small spoonfuls of sour cream all over chips, then sprinkle on half the cheese. Top with remaining chips, sauce, sour cream, and cheese. Bake 35 minutes or until bubbly hot around the edges. Sprinkle top with cilantro.


It sounds really similar to the Taco Crescent Bake I've made before, only no crescent rolls and meatless. I didn't really change anything up in the recipe, although I didn't have enough sour cream, so I used some sour cream and some plain yogurt. I had already run to the store earlier today to buy cheese because I didn't buy enough on my weekly grocery trip on Monday, and no way did I want to brave a grocery store at 5:00 on a Friday. NO THANKS!! Oh, and I did the layers a little differently. Instead of chips, sauce, sour cream, and cheese for the order the second time, I did sauce, chips, sour cream, and cheese to match up with the first. I also spread the sour cream around instead of leaving globs. Tricky business when spreading over chips (oh, which I broke up a little), but I got it to work.

I'm excited to try this and hope it turns out. Especially since I think Benah reads my blog, and I'd hate to give it a bad review and have her read it. ;)


I just realized I never reviewed this. I liked it, the husband and boy weren't quite as sold on it. The husband thought it would be good as a dip, or at least he wanted tortilla chips to dip into it. The boy ate it okay but had to be prodded along (which isn't really anything new for dinner with him at our house).

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Onion Baked Pork Chops

Since Jen B. is keeping me honest about updating every day I thought I'd better post before I get an angry phone call from her after naptime. ;) I was trying to find some new recipes for this week--or even some older ones I hadn't made in a really long time--and came across an email full of budget friendly recipes someone sent me years ago. It's ridiculous the number of recipes I have saved in my email. Actually it's ridiculous the number of recipes I have everywhere. And it makes me sad when I think about how many of them will never be made. Sigh. Anyway...I had everything on hand for this except the pork chops, but they were on sale this week and I was planning on buying them anyway, so I thought it worked out well.

Onion baked pork chops
1 envelope Lipton Secrets onion soup mix
1/3 cup bread crumbs
4 pork chops
1 egg, well beaten

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In small bowl, combine soup mix, and bread crumbs. Dip chops in egg, then in breadcrumb mixture, until evenly coated. In lightly greased 9x13 in baking pan, arrange chops. Bake uncovered 20 min or until done, turning once.


I'm thinking I may cook them on a rack in a roasting pan so the bottom doesn't get all soggy. I don't know what we'll have with this. Maybe some kind of pasta side dish and frozen mixed veggies. The starch side is what's up in the air, which isn't too big a deal.


Well, the pork chops were okay. I like my other pork chop recipes better, but they weren't bad. If I needed a quick dinner one night and had everything on hand, I'd probably make them again, but I don't think I'd plan on making them, if that makes sense. I peeked in the oven at one point and thought they weren't even cooking because the color of the breading looked like the raw pork chop. Turns out they were mostly cooked, but I did leave them in for probably closer to 30 minutes because the inside was still pink and the temperature on my meat thermometer wasn't high enough. The boy really liked them and ate his whole serving without having to be prodded along which was pretty amazing.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Macaroni and Cheese

I'm having dinner issues this week. I had planned on making a Giada roast chicken recipe tonight, but I keep forgetting to take the chicken out of the freezer for it to defrost. Have I taken it out yet? Nope. So maybe we'll have it Saturday night at the rate I'm going. This dinner was slated for tomorrow night. I could eat macaroni and cheese multiple times a week, so I have to say I'm not disappointed we're having it a night early. Plus I need to clean up my kitchen a little, and just making mac and cheese will be easier than a whole chicken.

This mac and cheese is my mother-in-law's recipe. It's so yummy. She makes it as a Thanksgiving side dish, and there are never any leftovers. The husband's family are all cheese lovers, so it's always ooey-gooey-cheesy, which is just how I like it! Mmmm...the more I think about this, the more excited I am for dinner tonight!

Aurelia's Macaroni and Cheese
(these are "unmeasured ingredients", add to your taste)
hot boiled macaroni (8 to 12 ounce bag)
1 bag of shredded cheddar cheese (~8oz)
parmesan cheese (1/4 cup)
butter or margarine (1/2 stick)
few tablespoons of milk

boil macaroni, drain. mix all other ingredients into the hot macaroni. place in 350 oven for about 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.
(toss in other cheeses as you like. ie american is good)


It's totally easy and so yummy. I usually add in two bags of shredded cheese, I think this time I bought a bag of sharp cheddar (I heart sharp cheddar) and a colby-jack blend. I kind of want to start making it now and just eat ridiculously early, it's sounding so yummy to me. I think I'll cook some carrots to go along with it so we're having something more substantial with it.

Benah's Pumpkin Crumb Cake

As I was driving home after an OB appointment this morning (3 cm dilated, by the way, and the doctor said the kid could literally come any day now!) I was suddenly struck with a craving for pumpkin pie. Like I almost turned the car around to go to the nearest grocery store and buy one that I could eat for lunch. "Big deal," you're probably thinking. "She's pregnant, doesn't she get cravings all the time?" Yeah, I do...but generally not for foods I hate. I think the last time I had pumpkin pie my age was in single digits. I just don't like the stuff. But, I really wanted some and didn't want to have to drive to the store. I had a can of pumpkin in the pantry and a frozen pie crust in the freezer, so I thought I'd see if I had everything to make one.

Then I remembered this recipe.

A lot of things pumpkin I could take or leave, but I do like a good pumpkin bread, and I LOVE this cake. Some of my friends and I used to do a monthly supper club. Then we all started having kids, and it fell to the wayside. Anyway, whoever was hosting it would make the main dish, and the rest of us would bring a side dish, salad, or dessert. When we had a fall themed dinner, my friend Benah made this cake for dessert. To be honest, I was skeptical given my dislike for most things pumpkin. But to be nice I had a it's rare I turn down dessert. The cake was AWESOME. I've been making it every fall since we had that supper club, which was December 2004.

I thought this would be a great substitute for pumpkin pie since I actually like it and had everything on hand to make it. Now I just can't let myself sit and eat the whole darn thing this afternoon. I was seriously giddy when I realized I could make this cake.

Benah's Pumpkin Crumb Cake
1 pkg (18 oz) yellow cake mix (take out one cup for topping)
1 egg
1 stick butter, melted

1 lb can pumpkin
3 eggs
½ c granulated sugar
¼ c brown sugar
1 ½ tsp cinnamon (or 1/2 tsp each of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger)

1 cup cake mix
½ c granulated sugar
½ c chopped nuts (optional)
3 tbsp butter

Preheat oven to 350. Mix crust ingredients; pat into greased 9x13 pan.

Beat filling ingredients; pour over crust.

Combine topping and crumble over filling.

Bake for 45-55 min.


Mine is in the oven now and smells fantastic. I can't wait to have some. The husband never remembers this cake until he eats some of it, then he also wants to eat the whole darn pan of it.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Spicy Cashew Chicken Bundles

Happy Election Day, everyone! I hope you all are getting out today to vote, even if you are tired of hearing about this election. I did my part last week and mailed in my absentee ballot. Much easier than taking an unruly toddler with me to vote.

In an effort to avoid getting yelled at by Jen B. again, I think I'll start updating my blog during my morning computer time while the boy watches his shows. Maybe I overstated it a bit when I said she yelled. I think she was just trying to motivate me to stop being so lazy. She did the same thing when I was painting baby's room.

Last week I was going to make Taco Crescent Bake for dinner one night. I was going to move it to this week, but since we had meatballs on Sunday I didn't want to use hamburger twice. So I went to the Pillsbury website to look up recipes that used crescent rolls. This was one of the first ones taht came up, and I thought it sounded yummy. PLus I have some cashews that need to be used (i.e. I want them out of my pantry), so this works out great.

Spicy Cashew-Chicken Bundles
1 1/2 cups chopped cooked chicken
1/4 cup finely shredded carrot
3 tablespoons sliced green onions (3 medium)
3 tablespoons chopped cashews
1/2 teaspoon grated gingerroot or 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1 can (8 oz) Pillsbury® refrigerated crescent dinner rolls or 1 can (8 oz)Pillsbury® Crescent Recipe Creations™ refrigerated flaky dough sheet
Additional sliced green onions, if desired

1. Heat oven to 375°F. In medium bowl, mix all ingredients except dough and additional sliced green onions; set aside.
2. If using crescent rolls: On ungreased large cookie sheet, unroll dough; separate into 4 rectangles. Press each into 7x4 1/2-inch rectangle, firmly pressing perforations to seal. If using dough sheet: On ungreased large cookie sheet, unroll dough; cut into 4 rectangles. Press each into 7x4 1/2-inch rectangle.
3. Spoon about 1/2 cup chicken mixture onto one end of each rectangle. Fold dough in half over filling; firmly press edges with fork to seal. With fork, prick top of each to allow steam to escape.
4. Bake 13 to 18 minutes or until deep golden brown. Immediately remove from cookie sheet. Garnish with additional sliced green onions. Serve warm.


I guess I'll have to stop somewhere for green onions since I wasn't able to get them yesterday, but that's not a big deal. Those were the only ingredient I didn't have on hand for this. I think they sound yummy, so I'm hoping they turn out well. I havea bag of Asian veggies in the freezer, so I think we'll have those on the side.


These turned out to be really yummy. I wasn't up for a trip to the store with a toddler for one item, so I skipped the green onions. I did find a red pepper in my produce drawer that needed to be used, so I diced that up and added it instead. My only complaint is that they weren't super filling. It made four, I had one, the boy had a half, and the husband ate the rest. He and I were both still hungry after finishing dinner. Granted, he ate an early lunch and was starving when he got home from work, and I'm pregnant and hungry all the time lately, so for "normal" people they could be just fine. These were definitely something I'd make again. The filling would also be good in a tortilla as a wrap I think. There was some filling left over, I may try that for lunch tomorrow. Or a snack later today. ;)

Monday, November 3, 2008

Chili Cheese Tortilla Wraps

Okay...after this post I'm all caught up! I told you I didn't cook much last week, and I wasn't lying! Plus I gotta get this done so I can fold laundry--baby clothes--and get them put away so I'm ready for this baby to get here and everything's done and put away. All I have left to do is pack my hospital bag. Oh, and potentially buy a new coming home outfit for the little buy since the temperatures here in AZ are still in the freakin' upper 80s!! Somehow I don't think a cute fleece outfit will work if it stays that warm for the next couple weeks.

Talk about digressing! Anyway, I wasn't motivated at all this morning to come up with dinner plans for the week, but I pushed on through and did it. I saw that my store had refried beans on sale, so I thought we'd have this tonight. I'm not super excited for it, but it's always good, and the husband absolutely loves it. He had me make this for his birthday dinner last year, that's how much he likes it. Plus it's easy, just throw everything in the crockpot and let it do its thing.

Chili Cheese Tortilla Wraps
1 16-oz can nonfat refried beans
1 8-oz package nonfat cream cheese, cut into cubes and softened
1 4-oz can diced green chilies, drained
3/4 cup chopped green onions
1 cup nonfat shredded cheddar cheese
4 98% fat free flour tortillas

Spray inside of slow cooker with cooking spray. Combine refried beans, cream cheese, chilies, and green onions in slow cooker and mix well. Cover and cook on low heat for 4 hours or high heat for 2 hours, stirring once or twice during cooking. If cooking on low heat, increase to high. Stir in 3/4 cup of the cheesse and sprinkle 1/4 cup cheese over top. Warm tortillas. Spoon bean mixture into tortillas; roll and serve immediately. Can be served with tortilla chips instead of tortillas.


I've probably posted this at least 15 times before, so I won't go in to too much detail. I didn't have any green onions. Rather, the grocery store didn't have any. For the life of me I couldn't find them anywhere, and I walked around the produce section three times searching. There was an older woman there looking for them too and didn't have any luck. Weird, right? So we're doing without the green onions, but I don't think it should make too much difference.

There you go Jen...all caught up. ARe you happy now?!

Spaghetti and Meatballs

I'm sure I've mentioned before that I heart spaghetti and meatballs. I heart it so much. We rarely had spaghetti when I was growing up because my mom doesn't like it. She claims she ate too much of it in college and can't eat it anymore. Same goes for macaroni and cheese, which is odd because personally I ate a TON of that in college (and my whole life really) and still could eat it multiple times a week. Who knows. Occasionally we would get spaghetti but we'd never get meatballs. I was so excited when I found out my mother-in-law makes meatballs and even more excited when she gave me her recipe for them.

For whatever reason, I don't make this all that often, even though I love it. Probably because we don't eat a lot of red meat, and soy meatballs just aren't the same thing. They'll work in a pinch, but they don't even come close to real meatballs. Originally I had planned on making just spaghetti sauce last Tuesday for the boy and me for dinner, but that's when our family crisis came to a head, and by the time the boy and I got home from my mom's house, I was completely drained and exhausted and didn't have it in me to cook dinner. So I figured I'd bump it to Sunday night dinner and add in meatballs since the husband loves them too. The meatball recipe is my MIL's, the sauce recipe is from a cookbook put together by members of a message board that I belong to. I've made it before and loved it.

lean ground beef – 2 pounds or more
Italian bread crumbs ( 1 to 1 1/2 cups)
chopped onion – 1 chopped fine
parsley (1 1/2 tab minced)
grated Parmesan cheese (3/4 cup)
eggs –2
garlic powder

Mix ingredients for the meatballs (ground beef, italian bread crumbs, chopped onion, parsley, grated parmesan cheese, and eggs. Salt and Pepper. Shape into balls and fry in a little olive oil.


Tomato Sauce
3 cans crushed tomatoes
1 medium onion
3 cloves garlic
Fresh basil

Mince the garlic and onion. Add a tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and saute onion and garlic until onion is translucent. Add cans of crushed tomatoes plus half a can of water and bring to a boil. When it's boiling, turn the heat way down and let it simmer. The longer you let it simmer, the better it will taste. For three cans, let simmer about 90 minutes. Add salt, pepper, and oregano to taste. At the very end chop up some basil and stir it in (dried basil would work too).


I forgot to add the parmesan cheese to the meatballs. I could tell something was missing, but the husband didn't say anything about them being off. They were still good, just not as good as they could have been. Also, my sauce turned out really watery for some reason. It was fine in the pot, but then once it was on our plates it was super runny. I didn't rinse off the pasta--which is what I always thought caused the problem--so I have no idea what happened.

Oh, and here's my fancy way of doing this. I cook the meatballs in the same pot I use to make the sauce. Then you get yummy little bits of meatballs stuck to the bottom of the pot. I deglaze the pot with some red wine, let it cook like that for awhile to get rid of the alcohol, then add in the sauce ingredients. it just a little extra flavor that's super yummy.

Creamy Chicken Casserole

I just got an angry call from Jen B. wondering if I had given up on my blog. I told her no, I've just been lazy and really all I'm doing at this point is trying to come up with ways to get this kid out of me sooner rather than later. I'm so done being pregnant. Cooking and updating the blog both require energy and motivation, and those just aren't things I really have anymore these days. But, I'll try to do better these last couple weeks until baby gets here since I'll have a hiatus after that.

So, like I said in my preivous post, we had some family issues last week, so I didn't do a whole lot of dinner cooking. I did however make this casserole last Monday night I think it was (before the drama started), so I'll start with that. It was in one of my Southern Living cookbooks, and I had written a note by it at some point saying "Really good, really easy." Sweet...I'll take both of those things when it comes to dinners! That's why I love making notes in my cookbooks. Who knows when it was I made it, and it might have gone overlooked had it not been for my note to myself.

Creamy Chicken Casserole
3 cups chopped cooked chicken
1 can cream of chicken soup, undiluted
8 ounces sour cream
1 Tbsp poppy seeds
1-1/2 cups crushed round buttery crackers (40 crackers...I used Ritz)
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted

Combine first four ingredients; spoon into a lightly greased 11x7 baking dish. Combine crushed crackers and butter, and sprinkle over chicken mixture. Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 30 minutes.


Totally easy, see? Definitely somehwat of a trash-erole, but then don't all casseroles have a hint of that by their very nature? We all really liked it. I like finding casserole recipes for 11x7 pans because then you're not eating for a whole week, it's a manageable amount. This is definitely one I'll try to get in rotation since we all liked it, and it's quick and cheap to prepare. It would be a great use for leftover cooked chicken!