Monday, October 29, 2012

My first linky party!

Do I have cravings?  I definitely did when I was pregnant with my daughter.  Anything from Hostess cupcakes to salt and vinegar chips-yummmmmyyy.  And yes, cravings very often sneak up on me, like the NEED for chocolate at 12:00 and 2:30 while I am at work.  Yeah, I go searching for chocolate if I don't have any of my own.  It's sad, but so worth it!

I stumbled upon this linky over the weekend and thought it would be fun! I'm probably not following the rules because what I crave is something I have not made yet, but my sister did!  We both got our Food Network Magazines a few months ago and were drooling over the picture on the cover. 

Picture of Easy Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese Croutons Recipe

I mean seriously, tomato soup with grilled cheese croutons?!!  Personally, tomatoes are my least favorite food, but when you pair tomato soup with grilled cheese, I can get past the tomato taste!  I think the hubby will like it too because the soup isn't too thin since it is thickened up with some orzo.  Hopefully, the power will hold out so this can be made sometime this week!

Easy Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese Croutons By Ina Garten, courtesy of Food Network Magazine


  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 3 cups yellow onions, chopped (2 onions)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
  • 4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
  • Large pinch of saffron threads
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup orzo
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Grilled Cheese Croutons (see below)


In a large pot or Dutch oven such as Le Creuset, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook over medium-low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Stir in the chicken stock, tomatoes, saffron, 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Bring the soup to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, fill a medium pot with water, add 2 teaspoons salt and bring to a boil. Add the orzo and cook for 7 minutes. (It will finish cooking in the soup.) Drain the orzo and add it to the soup. Stir in the cream, return the soup to a simmer and cook for 10 more minutes, stirring frequently.
Serve hot with Grilled Cheese Croutons scattered on top.
Grilled Cheese Croutons
4 (1/2-inch-thick) slices country white bread
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
4 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
Heat a panini grill. Place the four slices of bread on a cutting board and brush lightly with the melted butter, being sure to butter the corners. Turn the slices over and pile Gruyere on two of the slices. Place the remaining two slices of bread on top of the Gruyere, buttered sides up.
Grill the sandwiches on the panini grill for about 5 minutes, until nicely browned. Place on a cutting board, allow to rest for 1 minute and cut into 1-inch cubes.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sunday is for Suppers: Convenience Cooking- Quick Chicken Tacos, Crunchy Chicken Strips, 20-Minute Noodle Bowls

We are getting ready for a hurricane.  Yes, Hurricane Sandy is supposed to hit sometime tonight and into tomorrow morning.  It will make landfall mainly by New York and New Jersey, but we will feel the effects all the way down here in good ol' VA.  School has already been closed, so this means my Sunday was full of family time and no blues about work starting back up on Monday.  With that being said, the dinners for this week are kinda up in the air.  We are wondering, are we going to have power?  Luckily, my hubby has learned how to grill just about anything, so the grill is our back up this week. 

We always have chicken on hand-who doesn't?  You'll see that this week's meals are full of chicken since we need to either get rid of it or have something quick to eat.

Quick Chicken Tacos (adapted from Better Homes and Gardens) 
I love cooking with anything that can be turned into a taco!  I love making these because it's basically just assembling the toppings that takes the most time.

1 16-ounce can refried beans
2 6-ounce packages refrigerated cooked chicken breast strips, cut into bite-size pieces
1 10.5-ounce package 6-inch flour tortillas (10)
2 cups shredded Mexican-style four-cheese blend
2 cups shredded greens or iceberg lettuce
1 large chopped tomato
1/2 cup bottled salsa
1/2 cup dairy sour cream

In a saucepan, cook refried beans over medium heat until heated through, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, heat chicken breast strips according to package directions.  Spread about 2 tablespoons refried beans on each tortilla.  Top with chicken, cheese, lettuce, and tomato.  Fold tortillas over filling.  Serve with salsa, sour cream and lime wedges.

Crunchy Chicken Strips (adapted from Better Homes and Gardens)
Goldfish and Ranch dressing are two of the ingredients?!  How can you go wrong when you have to cook for kids?

Nonstick cooking spray
7 cups bite-size cheddar fish-shape crackers or 14 cups pretzels (14 ounces)
1 1/2 cups bottled buttermilk ranch salad dressing
2 pounds chicken breast tenderloins

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Line two 15x10x1-inch baking pans with foil.  Lightly coat foil with cooking spray; set aside.
Crush crackers (put them in a freezer bag and roll a rolling pin over them) and transfer to a shallow dish.  In another shallow dish place the 1 1/2 cups ranch dressing.  Dip chicken tenderloins into dressing, allowing excess to drip off; dip into cracker crumbs to coat.  Arrange chicken in prepared pans.  Lightly coat chicken with cooking spray.
Bake uncovered, for 10 to 15 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink, rotating pans halfway through baking.  If desired, serve half of the chicken strips with additional ranch dressing.
Cool remaining chicken strips for 20 minutes.  Place in an airtight container, cover and chill for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month.  To reheat strips, preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Arrange chilled or frozen strips in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Bake, uncovered, until heated through. (allow 15 min. for chilled and 20 minutes for frozen strips)

20 Minute Shrimp Noodle Bowls(adapted from Better Homes and Gardens)
Very often, we have shrimp in the freezer because our local grocery store always has it on sale.  These are soo so good.  Just thinking about them makes me want to cook them up right now!

1 14-ounce can reduced sodium chicken broth or lower sodium beef broth
1/2 cup bottled peanut sauce
2 cups frozen stir-fry or mixed vegetables
2 3-ounce packages ramen noodles (any flavor, broken)
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
Cooked shrimp

In a large saucepan combine broth and peanut sauce.  Bring to boiling.  Add grated ginger.  Stir in frozen vegetables and noodles (discard seasoning packet).  Return to boiling; reduce heat.  Simmer, covered, for 3 minutes or until noodles and vegetables are tender.  Stir in cooked shrimp and heat through.  Divide noodle mixture among four bowls.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sunday is for Supper: crescent burgers, shredded beef tacos, slow cooker breakfast casserole, slow cooker spaghettie sauce italiano

I want to challenge you.  I want to challenge you to sit down and have a meal with your family.  There are so many positive outcomes that comes from just reconnecting with your family over a shared meal.  We were blessed to have the chance to sit down together at every meal today:  breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  It was awesome and a rarity.  During the work week we are usually rushing out the door to work and preschool, and breakfast becomes a grab and go type of event.  Lunch, of course, is on or own at our workplaces and preschool, but dinner is a time for us to be together.  I know this may change as the kids get older and we are pulled in different directions, so realistically for most, would be to sit down together at a meal 2-3 times a week.

When we sit down for dinner, we turn music on and talk about our day.  We all share what our favorite part of the day was.  Tessa loves this and will often look at us and say, "So, what was the favorite part of your day?"  Ry and I are taking a parenting class through church and they suggested playing a game over a meal called, "Sad, mad, and glad."  You take turns going around the table sharing one thing from the day that made you sad, mad, and glad.  We have fun with it and makes for a fun dinner conversation and I think Tessa thinks it's interesting to hear about things that actually made her parents sad and mad.

I hope you have a chance to sit down to a meal together this week!  My wish is that maybe one of these suppers will be one you can make for your family. 

Pinterest has become one of my go-to sites for recipes.  I usually spend part of my weekends scouring the internet and cookbooks for recipes to use for dinners for the week, but pinterest has it all in one place and it has been so fun to find new recipes to try.  Have fun trying these recipes:  crescent burgers, slow cooker breakfast casserole, shredded beef tacos, slow cooker spaghetti sauce italiano.

Crescent Burgers: (thanks to  Tessa took one bite of these and threw her arms around me and said, "Thank you Mommy!  These are so yummy!"  No lie, this actually happened.

1/2 pound of ground beef
worcestshire sauce
1 egg
1/3 packet of dry onion soup mix
1/2 tsp black pepper
2/3 cup cheddar cheese
1 roll of crescents

Preheat oven to 375.  In a skillet heat a small amount of oil and brown meat.  In a medium size bowl mix – 1/2 cup of cheese, onion soup mix, couple drops of Worcestershire sauce, pepper; meat.  Unroll the crescents. Place a rounded tablespoon of the meat mixture towards the larger end of the crescent dough.  Place crescents onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.Brush the tops of the dough with an egg wash ( simply break and egg in a bowl and whisk egg until well blended and 1 tablespoon of water to the mix).  Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of the egg wash and bake for 10 – 15 minutes.

Slow Cooker Breakfast Casserole: (thanks to the  I love my slow cooker and love when dinner is already done for me when I get home.  I think my slow cooker is too big, but it still does its job.  I think I need to go get a 4 quart one, though.

1 Package of Frozen Hash Browns
1 Pound of Cooked Sausage
2 Cups of Colby Jack Cheese, shredded
1 Cup of Diced Peppers (green, red, yellow and/or orange)
1 Cup of Sliced Mushrooms
1 Can of Diced Chilis (optional)
1 Quart of EggBeaters (can also use 16 eggs)
Spray the slow cooker with Pam.
Starting with the frozen hash browns, layer the ingredients, repeating twice.  Shake the EggBeaters well and pour over the top.  cook on LOW for 8 hours on HIGH for 3-4 hours.
Shredded Beef Tacos: (thanks to  These were a true OMG moment.  These are amazing tacos!  Ryan and I totally stuffed our faces and did it again when we had leftover night!
1 1/2 lbs eye of chuck (which is NOT beef chuck roast)
4 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsps vinegar
2 tbsps fresh lime juice
1 1/2 tsps ground cumin
1 1/2 tsps chili powder
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup beef stock
salt to taste
~ 24 corn tortillas
lettuce, queso fresco, salsa, guacamole, etc. (for toppings)
Trim the fat and cut the beef into 1 inch thick slices. In a ziploc bag, combine the oil, vinegar, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, and garlic. Place the meat slices in the bag, seal, mix it around and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. Bring the meat to room temperature. Place all contents from the bag in a baking dish with the beef stock. Cover the dish and bake for 1 1/4 hours (I baked it for 2 1/2 hours) at 350°F. Let the meat rest for 10 minutes and then shred it with forks or process it quickly in a food processor with the plastic dough blade (I prefer the forks method). Salt the meat to your liking. Fry the tortillas lightly in a little hot oil.  Double the tortillas and stuff them with shredded beef, lettuce, cheese, guacamole, and salsa.
Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce Italiano:  (adapted from my Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook)
1 pound bulk Italian sausage or ground beef
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 14.5 ounce cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 6-oz. can tomato paste
2 4-oz. cans mushroom stems and pieces, drained
1 bay leaf
2 tsp dried Italian seasoning, crushed
1 cup chopped green sweet pepper
12 to 16 ounces hot cooked spaghetti
In a large skillet cook sausage, onion, and garlic over medium heat until meat browns.  Drain fat; discard.  In a 3 1/2 or 4 quart slow cooker combine undrained tomatoes, tomato paste, mushrooms, bay leaf, Italian seasoning, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp black pepper.  Add meat mixture.  Cover and cook on low 8 to 10 hours or on high 4-5 hours.  Stir in sweet pepper.  Discard bay leaf.  Serve meat mixture over hot cooked spaghetti. 
553 cal, 23 g fat, 51 mg chol, 1,506 mg sodium, 62 g carb, 6 g fiber, 27 g protein.