Friday, October 28, 2011

Beef and Broccoli Stir-Fry

I was so excited when I got an email from my sister-in-law, Ashley, wanting to pass along the dinner she made the other night! I gotta tell you, it makes my day to get feedback of any kind, but someone else sharing a recipe is the beez-neez! Or bees knees... whatever. Anyway, Ashley got this from the back of a La Choy Soy Sauce label and even though I'm not a big beef eater, I am excited to try it! It only takes about 30 minutes and fits in nicely with the Chinese food kick that's been going on lately. Thanks, Ashley!

2 tbsp vegetable oil, divided

1 medium onion, chopped

1 pkg (14 oz) frozen broccoli florets

1 can (8 oz) sliced water chestnuts, drained{optional, but adds a nice variety to the textures}

1 lb boneless beef sirloin, cut across the grain into 2 x 1/2 inch strips

5 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/3 C soy sauce

2 tbsp brown sugar

1 tbsp corn starch

1 tbsp water

Chow Mein noodles {Optional}

Heat 1 tbsp oil in large skillet or wok over high heat. Cook and stir onion, broccoli and water chestnuts 4 minutes or until crisp tender. Remove from skillet and set aside. Pour remaining oil into skillet. Cook and stir beef and garlic about 2 minutes or until browned. Add broccoli mix back to skillet. Whisk together soy sauce and brown sugar in a small bowl. Add to skillet. Stir together cornstarch and water until smooth; add to skillet. Cook until heated through and sauce thickens. Serve with Chow Mein noodles.

Pumpkin {Chocolate Chip} Bread

This recipe doesn't originally call for chocolate chips, but chocolate makes everything better, right?!?! I actually don't think it added much to this, it is soooooo good to begin with! But, if adding chocolate chips makes your kids {or your sweet tooth} happy, then by all means, add away! My mom enriched my life with this fall favorite, though the recipe only makes one loaf. That is simply not enough. Plus, it only calls for 1 cup of pumpkin. What are you supposed to do with half a can of pumpkin? So I've added the doubled amounts to the side of the ingredients{in case math wasn't your strong suit} and you can easily choose which way you want to go and not have anxiety over wasting that leftover pumpkin. You can just plan on doubling it and bring that extra loaf over to me. Thanks. **Warning** If you ever think you'd like to make this or any other pumpkin recipe at any time besides September- December, then it is imperative that you stock up on canned pumpkin NOW while it is still in stores for the season. If you forget, I have plenty! ;) ***Bonus Warning!*** You will totally pick at this all day. You've been warned.

1 1/2 C sugar (3 C)

1/2 C shortening (1 C)

1/2 C water (1 C)

1 C canned pumpkin (2 C or 1- 16 oz can)

2 eggs (4 eggs)

1 2/3 C flour (3 1/3 C)

3/4 tsp salt (1 1/2 tsp)

1 tsp soda (2 tsp)

1/2 tsp cloves (1 tsp)

1/2 tsp nutmeg (1 tsp)

1/2 tsp cinnamon (1 tsp)

1/2 tsp baking powder (1 tsp)

Mix all ingredients together. Spread in a greased and floured large loaf pan {for best results, line bottom of pan with wax paper}. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until knife clean. Makes one large or two small loaves.

Fried Rice

It is totally common for me to make WAY too much rice at my meals, store it in the fridge until it's WAY past its prime, then throw it away. Well, not this time! Bolstered by my mom's mention of making her own fried rice, I thought I'd give it a try myself! So, I checked out a couple recipes over at, took what I liked from them and left out what I didn't and came up with this. I couldn't believe how much it tasted like the fried rice at Panda Express! Pair it with this Orange Chicken and your husband will be asking where the take-out boxes went! Now let's see if I can remember how it goes...

2-3 eggs {about 1 egg per 1-2 C rice, depending on how much you like egg!}

4-6 C cooked rice

1/4 tbsp canola, olive oil, or butter {I think I used margarine}

1 C peas and carrot frozen vegetable blend

2 tsp garlic

1/4 C soy sauce

Beat the eggs and cook in a large skillet until done; chop to desired size and set aside. Add the oil or butter and heat on medium high until hot or melted. Add the rice; saute for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the vegetables, saute another 5 minutes. Add the garlic, soy sauce and eggs for 2-3 minutes or until evenly heated. Serve immediately.

The beauty of this is you can add more or less of the things you want. You can even add different things to your taste, such as Green onions, celery, bacon, shrimp, chicken, ham, etc.

Easy Orange Chicken

Is it kinda sad that I obsess so much about food and do this group and have this blog, but really don't do any blog browsing of my own?? It's a good thing I follow my cousin's blog at; I let them do all the time consuming work of finding great recipes and I just get to copy them, adjust them to taste and call them my own! They got it from Team T Adventures, in case you were wondering. I absolutely LOVE orange chicken! It's pretty much a guarantee anytime we go out for Chinese that one of us will get it and the rest will pick at it! This recipe was simple and seriously tastes as good as the restaurant- at least as good as you can get without adding all the unhealthy msg and fast food preservatives you'd get at certain fast food Chinese chain restaurants... I did have a few changes that I added at the bottom of the directions...

4 boneless chicken breasts, chopped into small chunks
1/3 C flour
olive oil
1/2 tbsp salt
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp ketchup
6 oz. frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed (3/4 C)
1/4 C brown sugar

In a small bowl, mix the salt, vinegar, ketchup, orange juice concentrate and brown sugar. Set aside. Pour the flour in a separate bowl. Coat the chicken in the flour and shake off the excess. Pour a small amount of olive oil {about 1-2 tbsp} in a skillet and cook the chicken for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. {It doesn't need to be fully cooked if you put it in the crock pot. Directions are included for both crock pot and oven}

Place the chicken in a crock pot and cover with the orange concentrate mixture; stir lightly. Cook on low for 5-6 hours or high for 2-3. Serve with boring old rice, or this way more exciting, tasty and simple fried rice! Panda Express, eat your heart out!

I found the chicken got a little dried out going this route, so either make sure the chicken is under cooked before putting it in the crock pot or don't leave it in as long. If you are unsure, taste test a piece after 2-3 hours. Then again, and again, but leave some for the family!

Next time I do this, I'd fry the chicken as directed, but until just cooked through then toss in a large bowl with the orange concentrate mixture. Spread in a single layer on a baking pan and bake for 10-15 minutes or until evenly heated.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Halloween Party

The first themed foods Exchange and it was great! I got such great ideas from everyone and I hope you do, too! Another great turn out, another chance for great food, another evening of good conversation with great people!

We do have a bit of a predicament, though: My husband's work schedule just changed and will have him working on the evenings we get together... I don't want to just put this to an end, it's been WONDERFUL!!! So, we'll be working out the kinks and go let you know what we decide to do. In the mean time, stay tuned for other great recipes that get kicked around at random!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Yummy Oreo Dessert Graveyard

As much as I love a cute themed food, I have a REALLY hard time spending a bunch of time on something that looks great and tastes just ok only to have it demolished immediately! So, I just kinda took one of my favorite recipes that I knew would taste good and decorated accordingly!
The dessert is like a layered ice cream sundae for a group. One of my personal favorites that I have a REALLY hard time staying out of when it's in my freezer.

1 pkg oreos
1 jar hot fudge sauce
1 carton (1 1/2- 2 qt) ice cream, slightly softened {my fav is mint chip, but vanilla is what it originally calls for}
1 carton Cool Whip

Crush the Oreo's {I use my food processor} and cover the bottom of a 9x13" pan with half the Oreo's. Cut the ice cream into 1" slices and place on top of the cookie crumbs. Warm the fudge sauce according to package directions and spread on top of the ice cream. Spread the Cool Whip over that. Sprinkle with remaining Oreo crumbs. Freeze for 3-4 hours or until frozen through.

Graveyard decorations:
Tombstones: I just used graham crackers that I'd crumbled off the corners to round them out then used a toothpick to write RIP on some with frosting. I had cinnamon graham crackers so, I alternated the cinnamon side and plain sides for variety.

Ghosts: The two ghosts in the front are blobs of cool whip with chocolate chips for eyes. M&M's would work well, too. The ghost in the back is a Dum Dum sucker with 2 pieces of toilet paper (CLEAN!!) tied with a ribbon and a face drawn in.

Gummy worms at random always add an instant element of Halloween.

The Fence: Pull-a-part licorice held together with toothpicks.

Graveyard Shots

Simple, creepy, full of sugar- Everything Halloween should be! Shaunae Pomeroy sure knows how to get to the heart of things! I always bring home leftovers, and this was the first thing my 4 year old went after!

2 boxes instant chocolate pudding mix
1 box Oreo cookies
gummy worms

Crumble Oreo's by chopping with a knife, sticking in a food processor, or placing in a Ziploc bag and mashing with a rolling pin. Set aside. Prepare pudding mix according to pkg directions, pouring into small cups. Squish a worm half way into pudding and sprinkle Oreo around the worm. Let set 5 minutes. Keep refrigerated.

Texas Sheet Cake

The beauty of gummy worms is you can turn something tasty, but not creepy, into a great Halloween treat just by adding one or two of these bad boys. That's how this cake from Trina Bowers came to be at our Halloween night, anyway! I gotta say, I've had lots of sheet cake, but this was my favorite yet! It was thick and fudgy, somewhere between cake and brownies- just how I like it!

2 C sugar
2 C flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp soda
1 C margarine
4 heaping tbsp cocoa
1 C water
1/2 C buttermilk {you can use 1 tsp vinegar or lemon juice in a 1/2 C container and add whole milk until full. Let set a few minutes}
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla

Mix dry ingredients together; set aside. Bring margarine, cocoa and water to a boil and pour hot over dry ingredients. Mix together and add buttermilk, eggs and vanilla. Pour into greased and floured jelly roll pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

1/2 C margarine
4 heaping tbsp cocoa
5 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 lg box powdered sugar

While cake is baking, bring first 3 ingredients to a boil add vanilla and beat in powdered sugar. Pour and spread over cake while warm.

Jack-Orange-Lantern Fruit Cups

Audra Simpson really impressed us with her offerings! Don't you just love these? I don't know where she finds the time to make these things so darn cute, but I'm glad she does! Again, this isn't really a recipe- more like instructions:

1 navel orange per person
favorite fruits, bite size

Cut the top of the orange in a zig-zagged circle. Use a small spoon to scoop out the orange pulp. Use a small, sharp knife to carve out a face in the orange rind. Fill with your favorite fruits.

You can use other oranges, but navel's are typically larger and have a firmer rind making it easier to carve. Another perk- the citrus of the orange will keep apples from browning, so you don't have to worry about opening the top and finding a bunch of brown triangles!

Halloweenies with Mustard Dip

Besides being super cute mummies, these Lil' Smokies wrapped in crescent rolls would be an awesome appetizer at a Halloween party. Catrina Bowers found this at I'm thinking Halloween lunch...

1 can (8 OZ) refrigerated crescent roll dough
44 cocktail-size smoked link sausage
1/2 C creamy Dijon mustard
1 tbsp dried oregano leaves

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with cooking parchment paper. Roll dough sheet out to one large rectangle, cut vertically to make two 11x7" rectangles. Cut crosswise into total of 44 strips. Pat sausages dry. Wrap 1 strip of dough around each sausage to look like a little mummy; press firmly at each end to secure. Place on cookie sheet 2 inches apart for even browning. Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Meanwhile, in small bowl, mix mustard and oregano. Dot a small amount of mustard or catsup to make eyes {Trina used a baby medicine dropper for this, which worked out great}. Serve sausages warm with mustard dip.

I had made something similar for lunch a few days earlier with full sized hot dogs. Directions are pretty similar, but it took 1 can crescent dough to make about 6 hot dogs, 8 if you leave space between the wrapping. I made the eyes with a little ball of cheese.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Frankenstein Spaghetti Brains

This won the prize for being the cutest! How fun is this? I am absolutely doing this for dinner on Halloween! Nicely done, Audra Simpson! However, she took an idea and made it her own, so there isn't a specific recipe... Here's what we were given:

Thin Spaghetti noodles, cooked, drained
1 jar spaghetti sauce
Parmesan cheese or mozzarella cheese
1 green bell pepper per person
2 olives per person

Toss the noodles and sauce. Add cheese. Cut the top off each bell pepper and remove the seeds; carve a face and holes on each side for the olive "bolts". Spoon the spaghetti into the bell peppers and plug holes on sides with olives. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.

*If you intend to eat the bell peppers, you can bake them a little bit to your desired tenderness before spooning the spaghetti in.

Red Velvet Cupcake Eyeballs

I'm sure I've seen this idea a hundred times, though no particular one prompted these cupcakes. It's not a new idea, by any means, but I've added an extra dose of macabre by making them on red velvet cupcakes. That way, if the eyeballs aren't scary enough, the way your kids look after eating them will be! Case in point:

The bath tub looked like a crime scene after this! As if that weren't enough, this is by far my favorite red velvet recipe with a yummy cream cheese icing and surprise filling. Also makes an excellent valentines day treat- minus the optical orb.


1 pkg red velvet cake mix, plus ingredients as called for on box

1 (3.9 oz) pkg instant chocolate pudding mix

1 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese, softened

1/2 C butter or margarine, softened

1 pkg (16 oz) powdered sugar (about 4 cups)

1 C thawed Cool Whip

Prepare cake batter and bake as directed on package for 24 cupcakes, blending dry pudding mix into batter before spooning into muffin cups lined with cupcake paper and sprayed with cooking spray. Cool. Use the handle of a wooden spoon to make a hole in the top of each cupcake.

Beat cream cheese and butter in a large bowl with a mixer until well blended. Gradually beat in sugar. Whisk in cool whip. Spoon 1 1/2 C into sandwich or qt sized Ziploc bag; seal bag. Cut small corner off bottom of bag. Insert tip of bag into the holes on the cupcakes and pipe about 1 tbsp frosting into center of cupcake. Frost cupcakes with remaining frosting.

I used LifeSaver gummies for the irises and upside down chocolate chips for the pupils. I used decorating frosting to pipe the veins.

Valentines day:

Top with shaved white chocolate curls or sprinkle red decorating sugar over a stencil to make a heart.

Jack Skellington Cupcakes

When Jennifer Fulton walked in with these we immediately recognized the iconic Halloween face of Jack Skellington of "The Nightmare before Christmas". And the little guys who may be a tad young for the movie will still recognize a fun, slightly creepy face- this was emphatically requested by her 3 year-old son. Added bonus: If you needed to make a bunch of cupcakes or just wanted to mix it up a bit, you could have a pile decorated half with these guys and half with the eyeballs found here.

1 batch chocolate cupcakes
White buttercream frosting
2 toothpicks
1 tube black decorator's icing

Frost the cupcakes with the buttercream frosting. For each cupcake, use the tip of a toothpick to lightly etch the outline of two large Jack Skellington eyes in the frosting . Slowly pipe black decorator's icing onto the etched lines and then fill in the inner circles. Use another toothpick to spread and smooth the icing. {Jenn used a baby spoon and said it worked great} Pipe on two short lines for a nose. Next, pipe a long line across the bottom of the cupcake for the mouth. Randomly top the mouth with a bunch of short icing barbs.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Loved Appetizer night! I'm thinking we're going to have to host a Super Bowl party and have a repeat of these recipes! Sorry it took so long to get them posted... I had some catching up to do! Ya know, leading up to the Exchange, I was wondering if people were getting as much out of these nights as I was. I love the chance to try new things, talk to new people and my favorite not-new people. I love getting out of the house and stimulating my mind in ways other than the most efficient way to change a diaper or how I'll be able to work the kid's naps around my 'to do' list. As hilarious as 4 year old jokes are {What time is it when an elephant sits on your slide? Time to get a new slide!}, I love sincerely laughing at something I haven't already heard 5 times that day! But I always wonder if anyone else looks forward to it the same way!

I'm not as worried about that anymore! It was so much fun with great food, mom talk, jewelry tutorial from Joni, and great conversation. I walked away from that Exchange on a high!

So, I am grateful that this thing is going well. I am thankful for the WONDERFUL friendships I've made because of it. I am thankful for all the AMAZING recipes I've been able to add to my repertoire. And I am thankful to announce the next exchange! Thursday, the 20th, we'll be having a Halloween and Thanksgiving theme! FUN foods for the holidays. Recipes that look as fun as they taste! Trina Bowers will be hosting this time, so we'll see you there!

Ham and Swiss Cheese Rolls

Joni Joiner gets a gold star for this one! It was delectable! I wish I had more elaborate words for it, but I'm at a loss! The small serving size made me feel better about having 2 or three or four... Swiss cheese on black forest ham with a 'secret' sauce on a sweet King's Hawaiian roll. I was anxious to get this recipe to recreate it. I think I'm going to try it with a slice of grilled pineapple.

1 pkg Rolls {King's Hawaiian is best}
1 pkg ham {again, black forest is what she used. What I'd recommend}
1 pkg Swiss cheese, thick or deli sliced
1 stick butter, softened
2 tsp mustard
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 small onion, grated

Mix butter, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and onion. Slice the rolls in half and spread the sauce on one or both sides of the roll {She had it on one side so it wasn't too strong for us first timers, but I'm excited to try it on both sides.}. Add one piece of ham, folded in quarters. Cover with cheese and replace top of rolls. Place on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 until cheese is melted.

Grandpa's Cheese Ball

This cheese ball comes from my dearest grandpa. Every year, he'd make this at Christmas time and it became a staple. Now he's passed on and I can't think appetizer without thinking of this, and I can't think of this without thinking fondly of my grandpa. I've decided this cheeseball is an embodiment of all the best things about him. It is a little sweet, soft, a little unexpected, and absolutely nutty! Actually, the nuts are very mild pecans. Grandpa was much nuttier! Anyway, here it is: My favorite appetizer from my favorite grandpa!

2 (8 oz) pkgs cream cheese, softened
1 (8 oz) can crushed pineapple in juice, drained
2 C pecans, chopped and divided
1/4 C green bell peppers, chopped (optional)
2 tbsp onions, chopped
1 tsp seasoning salt

Stir all ingredients together, reserving 1 C pecans. Chill well. Form into 1 large or 2 small balls; roll in remaining pecans. Wrap tightly and chill until serving.

Lil Smokies

I loved these sausages- so did my daughter who smooshed them all over the place, but refused to let go of one. These have a perfect sweet and savory flavor and serve up great with a couple toothpicks for stabbing and chomping! And at 3 ingredients, does it get any easier?!? Another hit, Joni!

3 pkgs smokies sausages

2 C grape jelly (16 oz jar)

1 C yellow mustard

Heat jelly and mustard in crock pot until dissolved together; add smokies. Cook on low 3-4 hours then serve.

Refreshing Drink

I spaced on this one and didn't get a picture, but just imagine what looks like water with slices of oranges and lemons. It was SOOO good! I'm not typically a fan of flavored drinks. I think they have a tendency to taste too sugary or too rich and I feel like I need a glass of water next to it, but that totally wasn't the case! It was refreshing and tasty without feeling like you drank sugar sludge!

5 qts water
3 C sugar
1 tbsp lemon extract
1 tbsp citric acid (can be found at Wal-Mart pharmacies)
Lemon and Orange slices

Mix all together and serve with lemon and orange slices.

Chipped Beef Cheese Ball

Cheese balls are such a perfect appetizer, so it was no wonder more than one showed up! This had a heartier, saltier flavor than "Grandpa's cheese ball". Joni Joiner made me proud with her FOUR recipes!

1 pkg cream cheese, softened
1 jar dried beef, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Mix Worcestershire sauce, cream cheese, chopped onion and all but 1/4 C of the dried beef. Shape into a ball. Coat the outside of the ball in the remaining dried beef.

Throw-together Mini Quiche

Audra Simpson cracked us up with this one. She claims it was just a bunch of leftovers thrown together, but it was so good! With that in mind, the ingredients are all kind of estimates... So, good luck!

1 C fresh spinach
1/2 C diced tomatoes
1/4 C carmelized, chopped onions
1/2 C mozzerella cheese
2 eggs
salt and pepper
1 can crescent dough

Line mini muffin tin with crescent dough. Mix remaining ingredients. Spoon 1-2 tbsp of mixture into muffin tins. Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes or until set and edges are lightly browned.

Spicy Buffalo Chicken Dip

Trina Bowers knew exactly what she wanted to bring when she heard that we were doing appetizers! It was a fabulous mix of all those classic buffalo chicken flavors! My husband stopped by for a sample of everything while it was fresh and he said this was his favorite. I could totally see a bunch of guys sitting around watching a football game noshing on this in between plays. It just wasn't very attractive for presentation, so Jayme Welly helped me out!
Aren't you just dying to try it now?!?! ;) Thanks, Jayme!

2 (10 oz) cans chunk chicken, drained
2 (8 oz) pkgs cream cheese, softened
1 C ranch dressing {or to taste}
3/4 C pepper sauce {i.e. Frank's Red Hot. Add more or less to taste}
1 1/2 C shredded cheddar cheese

Add all ingredients to a crock pot on low until all ingredients are mixed together and warm.

Artichoke Dip

I got this recipe from my sister-in-law, Kristen, but hadn't tried it out before. I LOVE artichoke dip as an appetizer when we go out to eat, but haven't found a homemade recipe I like. I thought I would give this a shot! It was pretty tasty, but I think next time I'd decrease the amount of miracle whip and maybe up the mozzarella a bit. Thanks for being my hand model, Trina! And don't kill me for this:

2 cans artichokes
1 C mozzarella
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 C Parmesan cheese
1 C mayo
1 tbsp lemon juice

Mix and put in a casserole dish, sprinkle with paprika. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve with chips, crackers, celery sticks, warm pita bread, or toasted baguettes.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Bagel Pizza Mummy's

Such a cute Halloween idea! Sheree Mowers couldn't just bring a tasty appetizer, she had to go and make it cute and festive! Such a fun snack or lunch idea, and, of course, super easy! Since it's so simple, you can make as much or as little as you want- that's also why there's not a specific ingredient list...

Small bagels, cut in half
Spaghetti sauce
Mozzarella cheese (String cheese works great for the horizontal lines)
Sliced olives

Spread spaghetti sauce over the bagels. Lay the cheese horizontally across the bagels. Position 2 olives as eyes on each bagel. Broil on low for a few minutes until warm and cheese is melted.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Lemon Chicken

I've been on kind of a Chinese kick lately, which is strange, because that's one category I'm not typically crazy about attempting at home! But, I'm glad I'm reaching out, because I'm finding some good stuff! Like this. I love the gooey glaze of this makes it kinda taste breaded and fried, but so much easier than actually breading and frying!

1 tsp flour
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut to bite size

In a medium size bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, sugar and salt. Add soy sauce and beaten egg. Add chicken and marinate up to 24 hours.

1 carrot, thinly sliced {or a cup or two of baby carrots, sliced lengthwise into quarters}
1-2 tbsp oil

Saute chicken in vegetable oil for 2-3 minutes. Add carrots and continue to stir fry until chicken is no longer pink.

Lemon sauce:
3 tbsp sugar {actually, my recipe doesn't say tsp or tbsp or cups... I put 1 tbsp sugar in, but could have done more or less and it still would have been good!}
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp water

Combine all ingredients for lemon sauce. Add to chicken and cook until thickened. Serve over steamed rice.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Broccoli Cheese Soup

I love that it's been cool enough for these great warm and hearty recipes! Even if it is supposed to be in the 100's again next week... Blah. Despite that, I love THIS!!! Trina mentioned that she was looking for a good broccoli cheese soup recipe, and this one from my mom is fanTASTIC!! Particularly when it's pouring out of a bread bowl {recipe here}. It makes nearly a bajillion servings, but I never freeze any, because it's even good enough for leftovers, over and over! Just be sure to use a large enough pot!

10 cubes chicken bullion
8 potatoes, peeled and cubed {I actually like to leave the peel on- can't taste it and is packed with nutrients!}
6 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 C celery, chopped
2 bunches broccoli, chopped
1 C margarine
1 C flour
2 qts milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 (16 oz) jar cheese whiz

Boil onion, celery and bullion cubes in 3 qts water for 20 minutes. Add potatoes, carrots and broccoli. Boil 10 more minutes. Heat milk and butter in microwave until butter melts. Stir in salt and garlic. Add flour and stir with whisk until smooth. Pour into vegetables, stir and cook until thickened. Add cheese whiz, stir until smooth. Pour into vegetables, stir and cook until thickened. Add cheese whiz, stir until smooth.

*** For those of you who don't like a lot of vegetables, {*AHEM* Trina! ;)}, reduce the veggies you don't like and beef up on others! I usually add a can of corn- regular or creamed.

***Also good with 1/2 lb of bacon, cooked and crumbled.

Easy Fruit and Cream Cheese Danish

I am loving following my cousin's blog-! They recently posted this tasty recipe, though it looked SOO much better in the picture. It was quite lumpy when I made it, but it tasted AMAZING! Here's the original recipe{and the much more attractive picture!}. I was just gripping about trying to find a decent danish recipe and I love the slight cheating of using crescent roll dough for that soft, flaky wrap around a creamy and fruity filling. The filling could be awesome in the Drop Danish that I was griping in! This will be a regular special breakfast around here more often!

1 tube crescent roll dough {I really think the filling would fill 2 tubes worth...}

8 oz cream cheese, softened

1/2 C granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

3 tbsp all-purpose flour

1 C fresh fruit or pie filling {originally calls for blackberry, but we relished the apple I used}

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar, flour and vanilla. Set aside. Pop open crescent roll dough and unroll, leaving crescents in rectangles. On an ungreased baking sheet, lay the crescent roll rectangles together, lining them up width wise. Dough should be almost the entire length of a half sheet pan. Press edges together to even out edges and seal any holes. Cut 1/2" diagonal strips up each side of the dough. Carefully spread cream cheese filling down the center of the dough to be about 2-3 inches wide. Top with fruit. Fold 1/2" dough pieces up over filling alternating sides to get a braided pattern. You may have excess dough once you reach the end of the danish, so fold it in as best you can. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until filling is set and crescent dough is golden.


1/2 C powdered sugar

2 tbsp heavy cream {I used 1% milk, cause it's what I had, then used a little extra powdered sugar to thicken it up}

1/8 tsp vanilla extract

Cool before removing from baking sheet. Once danish is cooled, remove to serving platter. In a small bowl, mix together powdered sugar, cream {or milk} and vanilla to create icing. You may need to add more cream/milk or powdered sugar to get the desired consistency. Drizzle icing over danish. Cut into pieces and serve.

Shepards Pie

My mom used to make snowy mountain casserole and it wasn't until recently that I learned that the rest of the world called it Shepard's pie! So, I found a little twist on my mom's classic and even though I didn't think it was possible, it was even better! Again, a slight mixture of Mom's recipe and the one I'd found from Kraft.
1 lb ground beef
1 can tomato soup
1/2 pkg frozen mixed vegetables ( I like the peas and carrots variety)
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp dried onion
6-8 servings mashed potatoes
4 oz cream cheese, cubed
1 tbsp garlic salt
1 C cheddar cheese, divided

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brown ground beef in large skillet. Stir in soup, vegetables, salt and pepper and diced onion. Spoon into 2 1/2 qt casserole dish. Prepare mashed potatoes. Stir in cream cheese, 1/2 C cheddar cheese and garlic salt. Spoon over beef mixture and top with remaining cheese. Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly.

Harvest Maple Pork Loin Roast

My darling hubby had commented on the frequency of ground beef and chicken in our house, so when I saw an awesome deal on pork loin, I snagged it! Then... I didn't have a great recipe for a pork loin. So, I found some yummy sounding recipes and merged them into this. It was perfect for the cool spell that has me yearning for fall. Warm, robust maple glaze with a side of apple and brown sugar stuffing. Hubby has proclaimed this the new meal for holidays around here! This would be the easiest holiday meal EVER! Now lets see if I can remember how I made it...

1 apple, chopped (I used Granny Smith)
1 sm onion
2 tbsp butter
1 1/2 C water
1/4 C plus 2 tbps maple
1 pkg (6 oz) stuffing mix for chicken

1 (2-6 lbs) pork loin roast
3/4 C brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp sage
1 tsp rosemary
salt and pepper

Melt butter in large skillet on medium heat. Add apples and onion, cook and stir 3 minutes or until crisp tender. Add water, 1/4 C maple and stuffing mix; cover. Let stand 5 minutes, mix lightly. Place pork loin in a roasting pan sprayed with cooking spray (or 9x13" pan if you are like me and don't have a roasting pan. Sad, I know!) and spoon stuffing mix along sides of loin. Bake 1 hour. Mix 2 tbsp maple and remaining ingredients; brush over roast, drizzle any remaining mix over stuffing. Bake an additional 20 minutes or until cooked through (160 degrees). Let stand 15 minutes before slicing to serve.

Sweet and Sour Pork or chicken or meatballs

This has been hanging out in my 'magical cookbook' for some time, but I didn't really remember it, so I hadn't made it before. I thought I'd give it a try one night when I had LOADS of leftover pork from Harvest Maple Pork loin. It originally calls for meatballs, but pork or battered chicken would be equally delicious! If you wanna try the meatball version, the recipe for the meatballs is after the sauce. Just as good as any Chinese restaurant I've been to! I love the sweet and tangy combination of flavors in this and won't be ignoring this recipe any more!

1/4 C cider vinegar
3/4 C beef bouillon
1 tbsp catsup
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp molasses
1/4 C brown sugar
1 (10 oz) can pineapple chunks or tidbits
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 C green bell peppers, cut in strips
6 maraschino cherries, halved

Mix first 6 sauce ingredients and juice from pineapple in bowl, pour into frying pan, simmer. Mix cornstarch with 1/4 C water, stir into simmering sauce. Boil, stirring until thick and transparent. Add meatballs, pork or chicken, pineapples, green peppers and cherries. Simmer until heated through. Serve over hot rice.

1 slice white bread
1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ginger
1 tsp soy sauce
1 6 oz can water chestnuts, diced and drained

Stir together meatball ingredients, shape into 1 1/2" balls. Brown in hot oil, remove from pan when brown, set aside to prepare sauce.


My mom grew up on this recipe, as did I, as will my children. It is a sweet, barbecue flavored, very kid friendly meal that throws together quickly and easily. It even tastes great as a leftover- a rare quality!

3/4 lb ground beef
2 1/2 C elbow macaroni noodles (I didn't have any on hand, so obviously, that one is flexible)
1 (10 3/4 oz) can tomato soup
2 (10 3/4 oz) cans water
1/4 C onions, chopped
1/8 C green bell peppers, chopped (optional)
1/2 C brown sugar
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 C catsup
salt and pepper
1 C frozen corn

Brown ground beef, drain fat. Stir in remaining ingredients except corn. Cover and simmer until macaroni is soft. Stir in corn, cook 5 more minutes.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Drop Danish

Ya know how it's impossible to get good pastries at home? Why is it that every bakery from here to Timbuktu can have these light, fluffy pastries just taunting you, but they cannot be duplicated at home??? Well, this may not be light and fluffy, but it will certainly give those evil tempters a run for their money! Sweet, crumbly danishes with jam centers all covered in a sugary glaze. Thanks, Mom, for teaching me so well- Sugar to start my day right!

1/4 C butter
2 tbsp sugar
2 C Bisquick
2/3 C milk
1/4 C jam
2/3 C powdered sugar
1 tbsp milk

Cut butter into Bisquick and sugar until crumbly. Stir in 2/3 C milk until dough forms. Beat 15 strokes. Drop 2" apart onto slightly greased cookie sheet. Make a dent in the top of each with a spoon and fill with 1 tbsp jam. Bake until golden; 10-15 minutes. Stir powdered sugar and 1 tbsp milk together, drizzle over warm rolls. Serve warm.

*Strawberry or blueberry cream cheese spreads are a tasty alternative to jam.

Peppermint Poke Cake

Chocolate is a miracle drug. Seriously, is there a better band-aid in all the world? Sure, it may not fix any problems, but it sure does help you feel better faster! This cake is like one giant, gooey york peppermint patty first-aid kit that will have you eating right out of the pan and back on cloud nine. Not that I've been there... this afternoon... The white you see in the cake is a minty white chocolate pudding that seeps all throughout the cake making it super ooey-gooey-lick-the-plate-clean good! Plus, yet again, easy peasy! From the back of a cake mix box years ago:

1 box double fudge or Devil's food cake
2 C milk
1 (6 oz) box instant white chocolate pudding ***
1 can (12-16 oz) whipped milk chocolate frosting
1 1/2 tsp peppermint flavoring, divided
Chocolate covered mint candies, chopped

Make cake in 9x13" pan as directed on box. Let cool 15 minutes. Poke holes every 1/4- 1/2" with the handle of a wooden spoon. Mix milk, pudding and 1 tsp peppermint and slowly pour over top of cake. Refrigerate 2 hours. Mix 1/2 tsp peppermint into frosting and carefully spread over cold cake. Sprinkle with chopped candy pieces. Serve with a shovel. Keep refrigerated.

*** I had a hard time finding a 6 oz box of white chocolate pudding, so I used two 3.8{ish} oz boxes. IF you do this, be sure to up the milk to 2 1/2 C milk or the pudding mixture will be too thick to pour into the holes and instead you'll end up with a layer on top of the cake. Again, allow my experience to be your lesson!

Samoa Brownies

These brownies were featured on my cousins' blog Sixsistersstuff and I'd been dying to try it. Ya know those tasty Samoa Girl Scout cookies? They are Hubbs favorite, so I was excited to try it for him. It was a super simple recipe and should have been cake to make, but that's not my style! It was a disaster from the beginning! I thought I had everything I needed and I was so wrong. I didn't have brownie mix, like it called for, so I just made some from scratch- about 3 times more effort! Then I realized that I needed 2 bags of caramel and I only had one! Blah. But by now, I was committed, so I pulled out my recipe for homemade caramel. Except that called for Karo syrup. Which I also did not have. Two seconds from giving up, I found another caramel recipe that says you can substitute honey for the Karo. Like I said. Disaster. Finally, we made everything that didn't need to be home made and put it all together with the substitute ingredients... Blah. Anyway, I was so frustrated I'm not even going to repost the recipe. I'm just going to give you the link here. It was rich and chewy and oh, so good, but I'm betting it would be even better had it been done right! I'm not giving up on you, Samoa's!!

Spinach Salad

In my opinion, spinach totally deserves the bad wrap it's gotten. I know I've had a few recipes with it, but they are exceptions to an otherwise sound rule. So is this one. In fact, I am surprised at how much we LOVE this salad. It's our go-to when we are in charge of salad for get-togethers. But it is mandatory to serve with Poppyseed dressing. The tart cranberries, sharp mozzarella, bitter leaves and salty bacon are an incredible mix of flavors and textures. Plus, other than the bacon, it's SUUUPPPPERRR healthy!

1 bag/container baby spring mix salad
1 bag/container Spinach salad{or you can sometimes find a 50/50 mix which is the two already combined}
1 pkg bacon, cooked and crumbled {I usually use turkey bacon- cheaper, healthier and I actually prefer the taste}
4-6 pieces of string cheese, chopped or mozzarella, cubed
1- 1 1/2 C cranberries
1- 1 1/2 C almonds {not pictured...}

Place half the salad in a bowl, sprinkle with half of each of the toppings. Repeat. Serve with poppy seed dressing {my fav is Brianna's Home style with the picture of a peach on it...}.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Fall Favorites Night

It is still in the 100's here in sunny Arizona, so when Joni Joiner requested we do Fall foods, I was a little hesitant. There are no sweaters in sight here! But the closer it got, the more excited I got! Fall food is just so dang good! Pumpkin, apple, hearty soups and stews... I just made sure to crank down the AC so even if it was 103 outside, it felt like it could have been Fall-ish indoors... It was incredible! We were loving all the warm comfort food so much, we may still do Halloween and Thanksgiving nights! Thanks to all those who came and to all those who didn't make it... I'm sorry for you! ;)

Mark your calendar- September 22nd is the next Exchange at Audrey Maycock's house and we'll be doing ApPEtIzeRs! Hey, it's football season! Gotta get some good half-time snack ideas!

Warm Spiced Cider

I forgot to get a picture of this, so sorry. And sorry to anyone who tried this at the exchange- it was terrible! I think it was the cider I used as a base... BUT I promise, it really is a DELICIOUS recipe! Usually. When we lived in Utah and snow wasn't unheard of for Halloween, we used to have a little bonfire in our drive way with this cider for the kids{and parents}. I think people would be as excited for the drink and chance to warm up by the fire as they would be for the candy. Now that it's 85 degrees for us on Halloween, we might have to switch drinks!

1/2 C brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp whole allspice
1 tsp whole cloves
3 sticks cinnamon
1 dash nutmeg
1 gallon apple cider

Place salt, spices and brown sugar on a square of clean, white cotton fabric. Pull up edges and tie with string to form a bag. Simmer bag in cider for at least 20 minutes.

My hubby likes to add a few orange slices to this...

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars

Joni Joiner is admittedly addicted to Pinterest. If you haven't checked it out, you should so you can follow her and share her addiction! She came across this while feeding the addiction, I mean, browsing. was kind enough to bring us these amazing fall treats!

2 C all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp cloves
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp coarse salt
1 C unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 C sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla
1 C pumpkin puree
12 oz chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line bottom and side of 9x13" pan with foil, leaving an overhang on all sides.

Keep an eye on these as they cook. Joni had a hard time getting these to set, but I kinda like my baked goods on the doughy side so there were no complaints from me!!

Sausage Tortellini Soup

Molly, Molly, Molly... You've done it again! As the weather turns cooler {for most of the U.S.}, soups start getting center attention again- This one is steals the show! The bold, hearty flavors of the spices, the vegetables, the sausage all balanced perfectly with cheesy bites of tortellini. I guarantee this will be re-made again and again!

1 lb mild Italian sausage

1 C chopped onion

2 cloves garlic

5 C beef broth

1 C water

2 C chopped tomatoes (28 oz can)

1 C sliced carrots

1 1/2 C zucchini, sliced

1/2 tsp basil

1/2 tsp oregano

1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce

2 C tortellini (8 oz)

3 tsp parsley

Remove skin from sausage and cook until brown. Remove sausage from pan and leave drippings. Blend all ingredients except tortellini, zucchini and sausage. Simmer for 30 minutes. Add reserved ingredients and cook for 30 more minutes.

Cinnamon Muffins

Brianne Westberg made it to her first exchange, but couldn't stay long with her squirmy baby. She impressed us with these yummy little bites, even if she did get the season wrong! ;) She brought these as mini muffins, so I'm not sure if this recipe {and baking time} is for mini muffins or regular sized- just keep an eye on them as they cook...

3/4 C softened butter

3/4 C sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2 eggs

1 3/4 C flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

pinch of salt

1 C sour cream

Topping: 1/3 C sugar mixed with 3 tsp cinnamon

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Cream butter and sugar. Blend in vanilla and eggs. In another bowl sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Pour flour mixture and sour cream into butter mixture. Stir batter by hand until blended. Add a splash of milk. Grease tins. Prepare topping. Drop some batter into tin, sprinkle with topping. Add more batter and sprinkle more topping. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Pumpkin Bundt Cake

Jamie Massie says that this cake is what she brings to every holiday gathering as soon as fall starts! Very simple to make and it was really good topped with whipped cream. I bet it would be just amazing served warm with vanilla ice cream...

1 box yellow cake mix
1 box butterscotch pudding
4 eggs
1/4 C water
1/4 C vegetable oil
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin
2 tsp pumpkin spice

Combine all ingredients and pour into a greased and floured bundt pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Caramel Apple (Nachos)

We LOVE caramel apples around here. LOVE. So when I saw a few different ideas for them, I combined them to this amazing new tradition! The thought behind doing it like nachos was that it would be less messy for kids. I think it just moves the mess from your face to your fingers! But it sure is easier to serve up!


1 bag Kraft caramels

1 tbsp milk

Unwrap caramels and place in a microwave safe bowl with milk. Microwave on high for 1 minute then stir. Microwave an additional minute or until caramel is smooth.

White Chocolate :

6 oz white chocolate or white candy coating

Microwave on high 30 seconds, stir, microwave an additional 30 seconds or until smooth.


1 C semi-sweet chocolate chips (6 oz)

1 tbsp shortening

Place chocolate chips and shortening in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds; stir. Microwave an additional 30 seconds or until smooth.

For Nachos:

Wash and dry 4-6 Granny Smith apples. Core, slice, then arrange them on a platter. Drizzle toppings over apples slices making sure to get each slice. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar{ I usually do about two to three parts sugar, one part cinnamon}.

For Dipped apples:
Wash and dry{or the toppings won't stick} 4-6 Granny Smith apples. Dip in melted caramel then spin slowly over the bowl allowing the caramel to cool on the apple a bit. Place on a piece of waxed paper and allow to set in the fridge while you prepare the white chocolate layer. Carefully remove from the waxed paper by twisting. Dip in the white chocolate, again twisting over the bowl until it stops dripping. Place on clean waxed paper. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Allow to cool and set while preparing chocolate. Drizzle chocolate over the white chocolate and cool.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

I got this recipe several years ago and it is the easiest cookie recipe in existence. It helps that it is so freaking good! Moist. Chewy. Flavorful. 3 ingredients.

1 (15 oz) can pumpkin

1 box spice cake mix

1 C chocolate chips

2 tbsp molasses(optional)

Preheat oven to 3 . Mix all ingredients together. Drop by tablespoonful onto greased cookie sheet. Bake for 350 degrees for 15-17 minutes.

I forgot the molasses the night of the exchange, but I think it adds a little bit extra...

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Easy Oreo Fudge Ice Cream Cake

My son just turned 4 {yikes!} and we had a pirate party for him. I had been eyeing this recipe forever and this presented a perfect opportunity!

Ta-da! Ok, so it may not have been perfect, but you can't really take your time to decorate an ICE CREAM cake! I'm really more about the taste of a dessert then how perfectly it is presented. The good news for you is that the recipe should be a little easier to put together and be all white instead of the brown and white I needed. PLUS it was really, really, really, really good. Really. In fact, the leftovers went home for the dad's! Thanks, again, Kraft!

1/2 C hot fudge sauce, slightly warmed

1 (8 oz) tub whipped topping, thawed and divided

1 (3.9 oz) pkg instant chocolate pudding

8 oreo cookies, chopped

12 vanilla ice cream sandwiches

Pour fudge topping into medium bowl. Whisk in 1 cup cool whip. Add dry pudding mix; stir 2 minutes. Stir in chopped cookies. Arrange 4 ice cream sandwiches long ends side to side on a 24" long piece of foil; top with half the whipped topping mixture. Repeat layers. Top with remaining sandwiches. Frost top and sides with remaining whipped topping. Bring up foil on both sides; double fold top and ends to loosely seal packet. Freeze 4 hours.

Chicken Broccoli Casserole

My mom got this from my aunt and made a few adjustments to come up with this go-to, all-in-one casserole. I love the hint of curry, soggy bread, veggie and chicken... It's what immediately pops into my mind whenever I start thinking of a menu. This dish is sometimes referred to as Chicken Divan. Fancy name for a simple, comfort dish!

4 small chicken breasts, cut to bite size and cooked
1 pkg broccoli, cooked {I use about 3 C of a vegetable medley}
5-6 slices stale bread, torn into bite sized pieces
1 (10 3/4 oz) can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 C miracle whip
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp curry powder
1 C chicken broth
1 C milk
1 C cheddar cheese

Spread broccoli on bottom of 9x13" pan. Top with chicken then bread crumbs. Whisk together of soup, miracle whip, lemon juice, curry, cream of mushroom, broth and milk. Pour over the bread crumbs. Top with cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Stuffed Baked French Toast

So, I'd made Sheree Mowers' crepes for breakfast the other morning and they were DELICIOUS!! But then, I had a bunch of filling left over. What to do, what to do??? So I blended her crepe filling found here (added some crushed pineapple) and my fav baked french toast recipe from here and put them together! It was... I mean... There's just... Wow. It's a little more work that I like for make a head breakfasts, but I will certainly plan this for special occasions or double up the filling recipe whenever I make it. I sprinkled it with cinnamon then topped it with some strawberries that I'd cut up and sprinkled with sugar the night before. Craving...

Sweet and Sticky Orange Chicken

Kraft Food's quarterly recipe magazine becomes my 2nd bible every time a new one comes in the mail. I highly recommend it. But then, you'd have most of my best recipes.... ;) This is a combination of two of their recipes. I adjusted it for the crock pot, but kinda over cooked parts of the chicken. In order to avoid that, flip your chicken every couple of hours.

1 can (11 oz) mandarin oranges
1/4 C orange juice
1/8 C orange juice concentrate
1/4 C Asian toasted sesame dressing
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts
1 tbsp ginger or minced gingerroot
1 clove garlic, minced
1 large red bell pepper, cut into bite sized pieces

Crock pot version:
Place chicken in a large crock pot. Add red bell peppers. Mix remaining ingredients except oranges in a separate bowl and slowly add to the crock pot. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, turning the chicken every couple of hours. Add oranges for last 30 minutes of cook time. Serve over rice with stir fry vegetables.

Mix orange juice concentrate, dressing, soy sauce, sugar and crushed pepper. Cut chicken into bite size pieces and cook in a skillet on high heat for 5-6 minutes or until done, stirring frequently. Add ginger and garlic; cook and stir on medium- high heat 2 minutes. Add red peppers; cook 2 minutes or until crisp-tender, stirring frequently. Transfer to a bowl; cover to keep warm.
Add dressing mixture to skillet; cook and stir 1-2 minutes or until thickened, stirring constantly. Add chicken mixture; cook and stir 2 minutes or until heated through. Stir in oranges; spoon onto platter. Serve over rice with stir fry vegetables.

Make Ahead Pizza Casserole

I can't remember where I got this recipe- it's just been sitting in my cookbook for ages! I'd made it before, and it was ok, so I made a few adjustments. I love that I can make it ahead of time {like when my kids are sleeping and not pulling on my pants or demanding my attention} and it's super good when regular pizza just ain't cutting it! Plus, you can alter it with your favorite pizza toppings.

1/2 lb shredded mozzarella cheese

6 C French or Italian bread {about 1 loaf}

5 eggs

1 1/4 C milk

1/2 C sour cream

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried basil

1/2-1 tsp garlic powder

3 medium tomatoes, cored and diced {or about 1 can of diced tomatoes}(optional)

Your favorite toppings. {I used a can and a half of pineapple tidbits and a package of diced ham. Not sure the sizes...}

Spray a 9x13" pan with Pam. In a LARGE bowl, toss together the mozzarella, tomatoes, bread, and chosen toppings. Arrange mixture evenly in the baking pan. Using the same large bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk; add the milk, sour cream, oregano, basil and garlic powder. Beat well. Pour egg mixture over the bread, tilting the baking pan from side to side to soak all the bread cubes evenly. {I added a little more mozzarella to the top} Cover the pan with foil and refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight.

Remove from fridge and let stand at room temperature for about 20 minutes; heat oven to 350 degrees. Uncover the casserole and bake for 35-45 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp on top. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese before serving, if desired.

A few variations I'd like to try:

Sausage, olives, diced green bell peppers and onions, a can of cream of chicken for a Supreme

chicken, red onions, pineapples, barbecue sauce for a Hawaiian chicken BBQ{one of our favs}

pkt ranch dressing, bacon, chicken, onion for a Bacon Chicken Ranch

Beef Gravy

Jennifer Fulton showed up a little late to Beef Night, so I'm not sure how many of us got to try this- we were all so full of the other good stuff! This is kind of like stroganoff, but a little heartier. It would also make a good biscuits-and-gravy gravy for breakfast- just substitute sausage for the beef and use it to top biscuits instead of noodles.

1 lb hamburger

1/2 onion

2 C milk

1 cube butter

about 1/4 C flour

Brown hamburger and onion; drain. Melt in butter. Heat milk and add to the mixture. Add flour little by little until pasty. It should be the consistency of gravy, not quite as thick as a stroganoff.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Beef Night!

So, what do you get when you put a bunch of home-bound, under stimulated women who have only had children to keep them company most of the day in one room with tons of food and fun questions? Hilarity. And strange new feelings towards coloring... ;) Most of us were wondering how this would go, since beef is so often done on the grill, but it was a very scrumptious night! Jenn Fulton's beef and gravy dish.

Jayme Welly had a hectic day so she brought this beef-free cheesecake. No complaints.

Variations of this punch have popped up at several of the last few exchanges. Molly did equal parts Sprite and sherbet. It was like drinking candy! Thanks, Molly for hosting!

We are starting to have a core group of women who, like me, look forward to these exchanges like a life line! We played Loaded Questions and laughed like idiots about things like "Fatty McFat Fat", what we don't want to admit is lurking in our homes, most embarrassing moments, and why we would or would not like to be on shows like The Bachelor and Bachelor Pad! I haven't laughed that hard in a long time! Loved it!

So, at the request of Joni, the next gathering we'll be trying our favorite fall recipes- soups, pumpkin baked goods, Halloween and Thanksgiving fun foods... Fall Favorites on September 7th! See you there!