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!


Jamie Massey is a fellow foodie and I always look forward to what she brings. This time was a yummy Italian dish akin to a spaghetti or baked ziti or most meat-and-red sauce Italian dishes!

1 can crushed tomatoes
1 can crushed tomatoes with Italian seasoning
1 onion
3-4 garlic cloves
extra virgin olive oil
1 lb ground round
1 tsp sugar
1 box rigatoni pasta

Cover bottom of large frying pan with olive oil. Chop fine onion and garlic. Saute for about 3 minutes or until onion is transparent. Do not brown garlic. Add the hamburger and brown. When browned, drain the excess fat. Add the tomatoes, sugar and oregano. Simmer on low for about an hour. The last 10 minutes add basil finely chopped. Bring water to a boil in a separate pot. Add the salt then the pasta. DO NOT ADD OIL. Mix cooked pasta with sauce and serve.

To reheat leftovers- Put in a pan on the stove. Add a little ketchup to loosen the sauce and pasta.

To freeze- Freeze in a 9x13" pan. The night before, put into the fridge to thaw. Cook at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Mini Meatloaves

For those of you who have been patiently waiting: Molly Heaton's Mini Meatloaves! These 'cupcake meatloaves' {or is it loaf's?} were a huge hit! It was the most flavorful and succulent meatloaf I'd ever had! It's taken me a bit to get these recipes posted and this one has been asked for a couple times already- so alright, already! Here it is!

1 lb extra lean ground beef
1 pkg Stove Top Stuffing mix {She usually uses Sage flavor, but that night it was Savory Herb}
1 C water
1 tsp garlic powder
3/4 C shredded cheddar cheese
3/4 C BBQ sauce {she used Sweet Baby Ray's Original}

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Mix meat, stuffing, water and garlic powder. Press into 12 muffin cups sprayed with cooking spray. Make indentation in center of each meatloaf and fill with BBQ sauce. Bake 30 minutes or until cooked through. Top with cheese, and continue baking 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Slow Cooker Beef in Mushroom Gravy

This extremely juicy roast was brought by Joni Joiner. It just melts in your mouth! Love the simplicity and taste- double score!

2 - 2 1/2 lbs boneless round steak
1 envelope onion soup mix
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 - 3/4 C water

Cut steak into 6 serving size pieces and place in 3 qt crock pot. Combine soup, water and soup mix in a separate bowl then add to the crock pot. Cook covered on low 8 hours or until tender.

Makes it's own gravy and is great with mashed potatoes or add red potatoes to the crock pot for the last 2 hours of cooking. Joni recommends turning the meat every 2 hours to prevent it from getting too brown on one side.

Ravioli Bake

This is like the ultimate in lazy lasagna. I added beef to it so it would qualify to come to the party, but usually I do it as a meatless meal and kinda think it's better that way...

1 jar spaghetti sauce
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 C water
2 lbs frozen cheese ravioli
1 (7 oz)pkg shredded cheese, italian blend
2 tbsp parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Mix spaghetti sauce, tomatoes and water; spoon 1 C onto bottom of 9x13" pan. Layer half the ravioli and 1 C shredded cheese over sauce mixture. Top with remining ravioli and sauce mix. Sprinkle with remaining shredded cheese; cover. Bake 30 minutes, uncover. Bake 15 more minutes or until ravioli is tender and heated through. Sprinkle with parmesan. Let stand 10 minutes.

I used spinach raviolis that I got from Costco. It came with a packet of topping which I sprinkled over each cheese layer.

Roast Beef Aus Jous

I LOVE this recipe! I know I say that a lot, but this one is probably in my top 10 favs. Super easy, done in the crockpot, and OOOHHH soooo goood! I should have gotten a picture of the sandwiches with the dip... just imagine a yummy dip sitting next to the sandwiches just waiting to be dipped and enjoyed! Then try it for yourself!

1 Rump Roast beef

1 cans beef broth

2 cans water

1 can french onion soup

Deli or sub rolls

Provolone or Monterey Jack Cheese, sliced

In crock pot add roast, soup, broth and water. Cook on low overnight and all day or high for 8-10 hours. Slice cheese onto open faced rolls and broil until melted. Remove roast from crock pot just before serving and shred with 2 forks. Place shredded beef between rolls and serve with brother for dipping.

*** Optional: Substitute 4 beef boullion cubes dissolved in 4 C hot water for the canned beef broth and 2 cans water.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


Catrina Bowers isn't typically a lasagna fan, but she makes exception for this lasagna recipe from her grandma. Catrina left out the ricotta cheese because her family isn't a fan of it. It was good, and now I'm curious how it would be WITH the ricotta...

1 box of lasagna noodles, cooked according to directions on box

1 1/2 lbs hamburger

1 medium onion, chopped

2 (15 oz) cans tomato sauce

1/2 can tomato paste

1 container ricotta cheese

6 C shredded mozzarella cheese

Brown the hamburger with the onion. Drain the grease; add sauce and paste. Spread a little bit of the hamburger mixture on the bottom of a 9x13" pan. Place a layer of noodles, then a layer of 1/3 the meat mix, then a layer of 1 3/4 C cheese. Repeat two more times until only about 1/2 C of cheese is left. Cover with foil. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. Take off foil and top with remaining cheese. Bake 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for 30 minutes.

***Tip- to take out the HUGE hassle of precooking your noodles and dealing with precooked noodles, use oven-ready noodles OR add 1 1/2 C water to the hamburger mix and cook an extra 20-30 minutes.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Tropical Beignets

We recently went out for breakfast to Denny's. They had these Hawaiian Tropical Pancake Puppies that were ok, but they got me thinking... I bet I could make a pretty sweet variation of my Applesauce Beignets! I was so right! Now, I'm sure this is in no way authentically Hawaiian, but I LOVE the tropical flavors all fried together! Plus, I didn't over cook them like the applesauce ones, so extra bonus!

2 1/2 C flour
2 tbsp sugar
3 eggs
1/2 plus 2 tbsp milk
3 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 C sour cream
1 1/2 C crushed pineapple, mostly drained
1 C coconut, plus some for topping
3 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt

In a bowl, combine all ingredients. Blend well. Heat oil on Medium heat and drop by teaspoonful into oil. Fry to desired brownness.

I attempted to roll them in coconut after, but it didn't stick. I'd still suggest at least sprinkling some on top...

French bread/ Breadsticks/ Bread bowls

I love how you can take this one recipe and make so many wonderful things with it! Thanks, again, Mom! My favorite is to make the bread bowls and fill them with my mom's Cheesy Broccoli soup. But that's not what I made the other day, so you get a picture of bread sticks! Some day...

1/2 C warm water

2 tbsp yeast

2 C hot water

3 tbsp sugar

1 tbsp salt

1 tbsp oil

6 C flour


Dissolve yeast in 1/2 C warm water. Add rest of ingredients and knead thoroughly. Let rest 10 minutes, then beat down. Repeat 5 more times.

For French bread:

Roll dough into two 9x13" rectangles. Roll up jelly-roll style and pinch seam. Place on cookie sheets sprinkled with corn meal. Brush with beaten egg white and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Cut three shallow diagonal slices on top. Bake 30 minutes at 400 degrees.

For Bread bowls:

Divide dough into 8 equal pieces. Shape each into a ball by tucking under the sides until top is smooth. Bake as for French bread, but cut an X in the top instead of slices.

For Bread sticks:
Roll dough out 1/2" thick. Using pizza cutter, cut into strips 1" wide. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, sesame seeds, grated cheddar cheese, or garlic. Bake as for French bread

For Giant Pretzels:
Divide dough into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece between hands to make a 15" snake. Shape like a pretzel, sprinkle with salt. Bake as for French bread.

Molten Chocolate Cakes

We used to live pretty close to a Chili's{and no other restaurant}, so occasionally we'd get dinner there. I don't know if we ever went there without picking up their Molten Chocolate Cake for dessert. We sometimes went there JUST for that dessert! I don't remember where I found this recipe, but I was over joyed that I could stay in the comfort of my own home and have this fudgy, gooey, thigh-enlarging treat at any time! Just saved myself a $6.29 habit! This comes together quick and with the convenient individual sizes, it's a favorite for FHE...

6 oz bittersweet chocolate{This is 1 C of chocolate chips. I don't usually have this on hand, so I usually use semi-sweet. It works fine, but go with bittersweet if you have the choice}
1/2 C butter
3 eggs
3 egg yolks
1 1/2 C powdered sugar
3/4 C flour

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Generously spray the wells of a floral cupcake pan with Pam. Set pan aside. Coarsely chop chocolate and combine with butter in a medium bowl. Microwave on high 1-2 minutes or until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth, stirring after each 30 second interval. Remove chocolate mix from microwave; cool 5 minutes. Whisk eggs and egg yolks into chocolate mixture. Add sugar and flour; mix just until moist.

Divide batter equally among wells. Bake 13-14 minutes or until outside edges are just set and center is still liquid. Do NOT over bake{or you'll just have cupcakes!}. When done, immediately, carefully invert pan. Gently press on tops and sides of wells to loosen cakes. Slowly lift pan, checking to see that all cakes have released before lifting pan completely. Serve with ice cream.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Chicken Night

So, in case any of you were wondering why I don't include pictures of the women at these gatherings, this is a perfect example. As soon as people realized I was about to get a picture of the food, they all backed far, far away! Except Sheree- Gotcha! Maybe some day. In the meantime, we are just loving the excuse to kiss the hubby goodbye and pat the kiddies on the head to have some very deserved women-time! I was wondering if twice a month was too often, then the exchange gets closer and closer and I find it hard to control myself from starting cooking 6 hours too early! ;) I am LOVING getting to know all these women, many of which I didn't know in the least bit before these gatherings! Every time I am blown away by how fun everyone is and even more so by how open everyone can be when circumstances allow! Again, we talked good and long about the kinds of things that aren't typically shared. I hope this helps some of us feel less alone when we are faced with difficult trials or rough days {or weeks, or years!}. Thanks to all the women who make these nights so unforgettable, and all the husbands {and boyfriends} who step up to let their wives have these nights. Sheree Mowers was an excellent hostess and even with partially dressed children running in and out ;) we appreciated her opening her house up to us for a little escape from reality!

One other extra fun thing we decided was that we are going to start doing a bonus activity at the first exchange of the month where someone comes and teaches us about a hobby or skill. We are all so excited for this new addition. September 7th will be the first go and Sommer Spears will be bringing in her handmade jewelry for sale and hopefully will give us a little tutorial on making our own jewelry. Other ideas we've had are scrap booking and card making, ballroom dance, sewing, photography, couponing, fashion, hair and makeup, zumba, yoga, blogging, gardening, etc. Is there anything else you can think of that you'd like to learn about one of these nights? Pass it on!

Our next gathering will be on the 18th and we'll be highlighting beef. It's what's for dinner.

Simple Whole Roasted Chicken

How do you get a flattering picture of a whole chicken? Personally, I'm disturbed by meat when it is still identifiable. Once I got past the visions of "Chicken Brent" from Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, I LOVED it! Super moist{my least favorite word, but my most favorite way to have chicken!} with a surprising flavor of all the spices you'd find in pumpkin pie!

2 tsp salt

1 tsp white sugar

1/8 tsp ground cloves

1/8 tsp ground allspice

1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

1/8 tsp ground cinnamon

1 (4 lb) whole chicken

5 cloves garlic, crushed

In a bowl, mix the salt, sugar, cloves, allspice, nutmeg and cinnamon. Rub the chicken with the mixture{Jayme removed the skin first so the flavor is directly on the meat}. Cover chicken and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Stuff the chicken cavity with the garlic. Place the chicken, breast side down, on a rack in a roasting pan. Roast 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Reduce heat to 450 degrees and continue roasting an additional 15 minutes. Baste chicken with pan drippings, reduce heat to 425 degrees and continue roasting 30 minutes to an internal temperature of 180 degrees. Let stand 20 minutes before serving.

Creamy Chicken and Dumpling Soup

This chicken soup was comfort food at it's best! The creamy soup was so full of flavor. Combine that with how creamy it was and it is just win-win! Audrey Maycock stopped by for a bit to share it with us.


6 chicken breasts

10 C water

10 tsp chicken bullion

1 large onion, chopped

3-4 potatoes, chopped

3 celery stalks, sliced

1 C carrots, sliced

3 cans cream of chicken

Boil chicken and bullion for 20 minutes. Remove chicken and let cool. Add chopped vegetables to chicken bullion water and boil for another 20 minutes.


5 C flour

1 1/2 sticks of butter, cubed

1/4 tsp salt

1 egg, beaten


Put flour in a mixing bowl and stir in salt. Work in butter as you would when making pie crust, using two knives or a pastry cutter. Add egg, working it into the dough. Stir in cold water 1/2 cup at a time until the dough comes together and is a stage where you will be able to roll it out.

Lightly flour a surface and roll out the dough 1/8 inch thick (or thicker for bigger dumplings). Use a pizza cutter to cut the dough in 1/2" to 1" squares. Drop dumplings into pot of bullion and vegetables. Boil for 25 minutes. Cut up chicken and add to pot. Add cream of chicken and stir until blended. Cook for another 5-10 minutes to blend all the flavors or until you have a gravy texture.

Chicken Cordon Bleu

My mom calls this a poor man's version of cordon bleu, though I doubt financial status affects how delicious this is! Plus, it's not breaded, so it skips the time-consuming task of breading the chicken. The gravy is super creamy and we love it served over garlic mashed potatoes.

6 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
6 slices ham, deli style
6 slices Swiss cheese
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp salt
1 (10 3/4 oz) can of cream of mushroom
1 C heavy cream

Stuff breast cavities with ham and Swiss cheese. Mix spices, rub into chicken pieces. Place breasts in 9x13" pan. Mix soup and cream; pour over chicken. Cover with foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hours. Serve with rice, garlic mashed potatoes, or baked potato.

Teriyaki Chicken

Who doesn't love a good Teriyaki meal?!?! Jamie Massie is really earning her place at our exchanges! This was a tasty, subtle teriyaki, though I'm thinking there's a little missing from her directions to get it to this point....

1/2 C soy sauce
1/3 C brown sugar
1 tbsp ginger
2 cloves chopped garlic
2 tsp sesame oil
4 chicken breasts

Marinate no longer than 4 hours.

I'd guess that she had a little extra to glaze over the veggies and chicken after cooking them both... Jamie??

Key West Chicken Marinade

This chicken tastes like something you'd have sitting at a restaurant on the beach in the Bahamas! Jamie Massie does it again! She served this with some rice (She uses bazmati rice cooked with chicken stock instead of water- good enough it should have gotten it's own picture).

3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp garlic
1 tsp lime juice
Chicken strips

Marinate at least a half hour, but no more than 4. Cook by your preferred method until cooked through.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Fried Chicken

Real southern fried chicken from a real southerner! Joni Joiner has immediately endeared herself to everyone with her accent, openness and this recipe! She later disclosed that she totally made this up. It must just come standard in southern genes...

4 Chicken breasts

4-6 drumsticks

2 1/2 C flour

2/3 C buttermilk

2 eggs

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp dried marjoram

1/2 tsp ground sage

salt and pepper to taste

peanut oil for frying

Add the flour and all the spices to a large bowl. In a separate bowl, add the buttermilk and egg; beat slightly. Use a large skillet to heat oil to medium high(oil should be a half inch deep). When oil gets hot, take each piece of chicken and coat in the flour mixture then dip into the liquid mixture then once again in the flour. Carefully add to the oil. Continue with all pieces and fry each side for 20-25 minutes or until tender (usually 40-45 minutes total time). Cover with a lid while frying for more moist pieces.

Keep in mind she made this recipe up, so you can vary the spices to fit your taste. Or just trust the professional! ;) Also, she served this with a gravy, but I just realized that I haven't gotten it yet. I'll post it as a comment as soon as I do!

Ritz Chicken

I was surprised by a creamy extra umph when I tasted these homemade chicken nuggets. I have determined that I will never again dip chicken nuggets (or various other battered chicken recipes) in butter or egg again! Easy, delicious, and completely kid friendly! Thank you, Sheree Mowers! And thanks again for hosting!

1 lb chicken
1 C Parmesan
1 1/2 pkg Ritz crackers
1 C vanilla or plain yogurt

Cut chicken 1" or use chicken strips. Put yogurt in a pie pan. Smash crackers and mix with remaining ingredients in another pan. Coat chicken in yogurt, then in cracker mix. Place on a greased cookie sheet and cook at 350 degrees until chicken is done(about 10-15 minutes).

Parmesan- Dijon Drumsticks

Drumsticks are so moist and juicy, then add that to the full and robust flavor of this breading... Jessica Pace, you are welcome ANYTIME!!! ;)

3 C fresh white breadcrumbs made from firm white sandwich bread
1 C freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 oz)
6 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
4 tsp onion powder
1 tbsp Hungarian sweet paprika
1 tbsp dried oregano
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 1/2 C butter (3 sticks)
1/2 C plus 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
24 chicken drumsticks

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter 2 large rimmed baking sheets. Combine breadcrumbs, Parmesan, parsley, onion powder, paprika, oregano, salt and pepper in large bowl; stir to combine. Melt butter in small saucepan over medium-low heat. Remove from heat; add all mustard and whisk to blend. Brush drumsticks generously with butter mixture, then roll in breadcrumb mixture, coating drumsticks completely. Arrange drumsticks on prepared baking sheets. Bake drumsticks until golden brown and cooked through, about 1 hour. Serve warm or at room temperature within 2 hours.

Chicken Parmesan Bundles

I got this recipe from Kraft. I'm not typically a huge spinach fan, but I loved the blend of cheeses and spinach wrapped in chicken, rolled in a Ritz and Parmesan breading, then smothered in marinara... Makes eating spinach (a SUPER good for you veggie) quite tolerable!

4 oz cream cheese, softened {I used neufchatel. Lower fat}
1 (10 oz) pkg frozen, chopped spinach, thawed, well drained {I had a can and it seemed fine...}
1 1/4 C Mozzarella cheese
6 tbsp Parmesan cheese, divided
6 small boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, pounded to 1/4 inch thickness
1 egg, beaten
10 Ritz crackers, crushed
1 1/2 C spaghetti sauce, heated

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Mix cream cheese, spinach, mozzarella, and 3 tbsp Parmesan until well blended; spread onto chicken breasts. Starting at one short end of each breast, roll up chicken tightly. Secure with wooden toothpicks if desired. Set aside.

Mix remaining Parmesan and cracker crumbs in separate shallow dish. Dip chicken bundles in egg, then roll in crumb mixture. Place, seam side down. In 9x13" baking pan sprayed with cooking spray.

Bake 30 minutes or until chicken is done. Remove and discard toothpicks, if using. Serve topped with spaghetti sauce and additional Mozzarella.