Saturday, March 23, 2013

I don't want to hear the words "Ear Infection" for a long time...

Dempsey has been a handful and a half.  He has been incredibly fussy which has had us at the doctor twice in the past week, only to find out he's perfectly fine and his ears are clear.  I was surely convinced his ear infection had not gone away, but instead I had two doctors, a husband, daughter, and son looking at me like, "What's up with this overreacting mom?"  Sheesh, it's enough to put a wine glass in both hands and one around your neck. 

Oh and let's throw in the fact that we are attempting to have second graders take their first official test on the computer this upcoming week.  Whoever came up with this ingenious idea should be thanked and then held captive in a second grade classroom with no internet connection and attempt to have all the students log on and try to take an online test.  I am just praying to the good Lord the internet is working perfectly and everyone remembers their log on names and password come Monday morning.  Thank goodness Spring Break is only a week away.

In the midst of all the craziness, coming home to wonderful meals is one of the many highlights other than the hugs from my hubby and two little ones.  Feel free to try some of the recipes and let me know what you think!

Chicken Fajitas adapted from Food Network magazine
These were easy and delicious!  Corn tortillas make all the difference!

1 tsp chili powder
3/4 tsp ground cumin
salt and pepper
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 bell peppers (any color) sliced
1 red onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 tsp grated lime zest, plus wedges for serving
8 corn tortillas
1/2 cup prepared pico de gallo or fresh salsa
1/3 cup crumbled cotija cheese (I have no idea what this is, so I did not use it)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Mise the chili powder, 1/2 tsp cumin, and 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper and rub on the chicken breasts.
Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large skilet over medium high heat.  Add the chicken and cook, turning, until golden 4 to 5 minutes.  Transfer to a baking sheet, reserving the skillet, and bake until just cooked through 10 minutes.  Transfer to a cutting board to rest, 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tbsp olive oil in the reserved skillet over medium heat.  Add the bell peppers, onion, garlic and the remaining 1/4 tsp cumin and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are lightly browned, 8 minutes.  Stir in the lime zest and 2 tbsp water.  Season with salt.
Wrap the tortillas in aluminum foil and warm in the oven, 5 minutes, then divide among plates.  Slice the chicken.  Top the tortillas with the chicken, bell pepper mixture, salsa, and cheese.  Serve with lime wedges.
372 calories, 13 g fat, 75 mg cholesterol, 779 mg sodium, 33 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 32 g protein

Farfalle With Sausage, Tomatoes, and Cream found on
My husband complains that I don't make a dish more than once.  That's not true, because I KNOW I have made this a few times since it's one of his faves.

2 tbsp olive oil
1 pound Italian sausage, casings removed (use any kind you like)
1/2 tsp dried crushed red pepper
1 cup chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 28 oz, can crushed tomatoes with added puree
1/2 cup whipping cream

1 pound farfalle (bowtie pasta)
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
Freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese (Who has this on hand?  Not me.  just use Parmesan)

Heat oil in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add sausage and crushed red pepper.  Saute until sausage is no longer pink, breaking up with back of fork, about 5 minutes.  Add onion and garlic; saute until onion is tendeer and sausage is browned, about 3 minutes longer.  Add tomatoes and cream. Reduce heat to low and simmer until sausage mixture thickens, about 3 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Meanwhile, cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite.  Drain, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid. (This seriously makes a huge difference in any pasta dish you make)  Return pasta to same pot.  Add sausage misture and toss over medium-low heat until sauce coats pasta, adding reserved cooking liquid by 1/4 cupfuls if mixture is dry.  Transfer pasta to serving dish.  Sprinkle with basil.  Serving, passing cheese separately.

Slow Cooker Chicken Adobo Recipe found on
This was yummy!  I served it with rice (Basmati) and green beans.

4 medium yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced
4 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
1 (5-inch) piece fresh ginger, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 bay leaf
3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
3/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place the onions, garlic, ginger, and bay leaf in an even layer in the slow cooker.
Remove and discard the skin from the chicken. Arrange the chicken in an even layer on top of the onion mixture.
 Whisk the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, and pepper together in a medium bowl and pour it over the chicken.
 Cover and cook until the chicken is cooked through and falling off the bone, about 4 to 5 hours on high or low. Remove and discard the ginger pieces and bay leaf. Serve with steamed rice.

Southwest 20 minute Noodle Bowladapted from Better Homes and Gardens cookbook
This was easy and fast.  If you want it to be more filling add some cooked chicken or ground beef.

1 14 oz. can reduced sodium chicken broth or lower sodium beef broth
1/2 cup salsa
2 cups frpzen sweet peppers and onions. 2 3 oz. packages ramen noodles (any flavor, broken)
Corn chips

In a large saucepan combine broth and salsa.  Bring to boiling.  Stir in frozen veggies and noodles (discard seasoning packet).  REtun to boiling; reduce heat.  Simmer, covered, for 3 minutes or until noodles and vegetables are tender.  Divide noodles and broth amond four bowls.

293 calories, 12 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 532 g sodium, 39 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 8 g protein

Monday, March 18, 2013

A Few Money-Saving Tips and some recipes: Pork and Chicken Sausage mini meatloaves, simple perfect enchiladas, baked teriyaki chicken

A lot of things have happened since the last post.  Our little guy turned one!  This meant I got to plan another party with a theme, of course, which was bears, since he will always be my Demspey Bear! He is growing a mile a minute and has the biggest hands and feet!  Literally, his toes have poked out of one of his pairs of footie pajamas.

Also, we have found an awesome church, which also happens to be Tessa's preschool.  They are offering Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University classes for the past 9 weeks.  We have realized that this class is just what Ry and I needed.  With two children in childcare, there was a lot of adjusting that had to be done.  The class revolves around 7 baby steps towards financial peace.  We need to work on the first baby step:  Saving $1,000 for emergency savings.  With this being said, we don't have a lot of wiggle room in our budget, so we are learning to accept the fact that this will be a baby step which will take us a few months, not something that will happen overnight. 

Couponing is always something that I have done, but I"m really having to think about the meals I am planning and what's making it to the table and also doing double duty for me on another night.  One goal I have for this year is to make my leftovers work for me.  I know, I know, leftovers, yuck.  But seriously, one meal lasting for another night AND you don't have to cook?!  Sign me up!  One suggestion is to freeze those leftovers.  Today I sat down and planned this week's meals, but can also plan half of next week's meals because of the three dinner leftovers frozen in the freezer.  Oh, the little things that make me do a little dance around the kitchen...  Another thing I have started doing more often is buying ground beef in bulk.  I'll buy the three pound package and turn one pound into homemade meatballs and freeze them, another pound into hamburger patties and freeze them, and then brown one pound to use in tacos or some recipe that calls for ground beef. This gives me three meals! 

This week I have a few recipes for you to try:  Pork and Chicken Sausage mini meat loaves, simple perfect enchiladas, and baked teriyaki chicken. 

Pork and Chicken Sausage Mini Meatloaves (found on the Johnsonville site)  When I made these, Ry said, "This doesn't look like meatloaf."  He went back for seconds!

1 package Johsonville Pork and Chicken Italian Sausage (casings removed)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/8 red pepper, diced
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic
2 eggs
3/4 cup bread crumbs
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 tablespoon Worcestshire sauce
1 tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar (one of my fave ingredients)
2 tablespoons basil
1 tablespoon parsley
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 cups marinara sauce
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Heat oil in pan and saute peppers, onions, and garlic.  Set aside to cool.  Combine all remaining ingredients.  Add pepper and onion mixture.  Place in greased muffin tins.  Top with marinara sauce.  Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until meatloaf is cooked through (160 degrees).  Sprinkle with cheese and serve.

Simple Perfect Enchiladas This is a Ree Drummond recipe.  She has her own blog and now has her own show called The Pioneer Woman on Food Network.  We love watching her show because of her country, simplistic ways.

1 tbsp canola oil
2 tbsp flour
1 28 oz. can enchilada or Mexican red sauce
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 pound ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
Two 4-ounce cans diced green chiles
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 to 14 corn tortillas
Canola oil, for frying
1/2 cup chopped black olives
1 cup chopped green onions
3 cups grated sharp Cheddar
Chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish (optional)
Beans and/or rice, for serving
For the sauce: In a saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the canola oil and flour. Whisk together and allow to bubble for 1 minute. Pour in the red sauce, chicken broth, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer while you prepare the other ingredients.

For the meat: In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the oil. Brown the ground beef with the onions. Drain the fat, and then add the green chiles. Add the salt and stir to combine. Turn off the heat and set aside.

In a small skillet over medium heat, lightly fry the tortillas in canola oil just until soft. Do not crisp. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat until all the tortillas have been fried.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Spread 1/2 cup of the sauce in the bottom of a 9 by 13-inch baking dish. Dip each tortilla into the sauce. Set the sauce-soaked tortillas on a cookie sheet. Onto each tortilla, place some of the meat mixture, black olives and green onions. Top with a generous portion of grated Cheddar. Roll up the tortilla to contain the filling inside.

Place the tortilla seam-side down in the baking dish. Repeat with the rest of the tortillas. Stir the cilantro into the sauce and ladle a little sauce over the top. End with a generous sprinkling of cheese. Bake the enchiladas until bubbly, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle extra chopped cilantro over the top. Serve with beans and/or rice.

Baked Teriyaki Chicken  (found on allrecipes) Chicken thighs and drumsticks are always affordable.  Look for the 99 cent sale or cheaper and stock up!

1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp cold water
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp black pepper
12 chicken thighs (I didn't use this much, the sauce will go with whatever amount you want to use)

In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the cornstarch, cold water, sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, ginger and ground black pepper. Let simmer, stirring frequently, until sauce thickens and bubbles.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).  Place chicken pieces in a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking dish. Brush chicken with the sauce. Turn pieces over, and brush again.  Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Turn pieces over, and bake for another 30 minutes, until no longer pink and juices run clear. Brush with sauce every 10 minutes during cooking.