Thursday, December 16, 2010

Angel Baby

My sweet baby girl was an angel this past Sunday at church. The children are starting to put on a Christmas program each year and the preschool/nursery come in for a couple of songs and play a nativity. My sweet girl got to be an angel in this year's nativity, her natural role. :)

We were afraid she wouldn't do very well, with few naps and all the people, but she did great. She got a little fussy right before we went in and once for about 10 seconds when we were sitting up there, but I called her name and that helped. She just needed to see Mommy's face.

Her are some pictures of her big stage debut! :)



Baby Jesus was played by a sweet friend's little boy, Knox. He's 2 months older than Nyla and he did great too. His Momma was worried he'd freak out too, but our babies did wonderful!


Smiling at her people!

For her costume, she wore all white and the Preschool Director covered and exersaucer with all white and made big cardboard wings and attached them to the exersaucer, along with the halo so Nyla wouldn't have to wear them and bug her. It was so sweet. She was sitting on top of boxes behind baby Jesus so everyone could see her. It was so fun!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Baked Mashed Potatoes with Parmesan Cheese and Bread Crumbs


Ummm... can we say delicious?

I'm not one to go all out on side dishes for dinner, I'm content with a baked potato or rice, but I saw this recipe while I was watching Food Network one day and saw how easy it was and wanted to make it. I planned on make it for Saturday night for our Sunday School Christmas party. Hubby ended up not feeling great, so we didn't go, but I still wanted to make it. Glad I did.

It's cheesy, but not overly cheesy, a little crunchy (I love a little crunch) and quick to put together. It was a hot and delicious side dish for us to enjoy, a special treat.


Ingredients:
nonstick cooking spray
4 pounds of russet potatoes, peeled and chopped (about 14 small to medium size potatoes)
1 cup milk (I used 2% and a little heavy cream; the recipe called for whole but I don't keep that around)
1 stick butter, melted
1.5 cups mozzarella cheese
1 cup parmesan cheese
3 Tbsp plain dry bread crumbs
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Peel and chop potatoes and cook in a large pot of boiling salt water for about 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender; drain.
2. Return potatoes to pot and mash well. Mix in milk and melted butter, mozzarella cheese and 3/4 cup of the parmesan cheese (reserve 1/4 cup for topping). Season with salt and pepper.
3. Place potato mixture into greased 9 x 13 pan. Sprinkle the bread crumbs and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese on top of mashed potatoes.
3. Stir bread crumbs and 1/4 cup reserved parmesan cheese and sprinkle
4. Bake, uncovered, for about 20 minutes, until topping is golden brown.

This is a great make-ahead recipe and can be refrigerated up to 6 hours.
Serves 6-10 people

The Verdict:
Um, awesome. It had that classic mashed potato taste, but with some extra cheesy goodness. We loved the topping and I upped the bread crumbs from 2 to 3 Tbsp, because we like an extra crunch. It was a great change from mashed potatoes and was warm and yummy on this chilly night.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Menu Plan Monday-December 6

How was everyone's weekend?

We were busy around here. Saturday I had a basketball game, then a puppet performance for our kids at church and Saturday night we were scheduled to go to our Sunday School Christmas party, but Hubby ended up not feeling well enough to go, so we stayed home. I was okay with staying home since I'd been on the run all day. It was nice to get into bed at a decent hour and get some much needed rest! I sure hope we're not getting sick around here!

Looking at the week ahead, it looks to be like a usual week, which I'm totally okay with. I have basketball practice tomorrow night and that's it as of right now. So yay!

December 6- December 13

Crockpot Cheesy Chicken Spaghetti (a favorite in this house)

Lasagna (already made, in the freezer)

Chicken Vegetable Marinara (we never had this, so we'll try again)

Chicken Enchilada Soup (a soup mix I bought at a craft fair)

Overnight Blueberry French Toast-from Lynn's Kitchen Adventures (I love overnight french toasts, you can see one we enjoy here)

What are your favorite dinner items?

Have a great week!


Thursday, December 2, 2010

2010 Christmas Wish List

I've been reading a lot of wish lists this year for gifts and I thought I'd join the fun!

Here are my top 10 wants: (in no particular order)

1. A new waffle maker. I love waffles! And we do breakfast frequently in this house, so it makes sense. We have one now, but I'd like to get a bigger one and just update what we have.

2. New cookware set. I like this one and this one and this one (I'm addicted to green stuff right now). I've had our set since we've been married (almost 3 years), which isn't very long, but I'm ready for something a little nicer than what we have. I was conscientious of being frugal on our wedding registry, I just chose that route of picking less pricey items. And now that I cook every night, I want a set that's nicer and more durable. I also want something that is oven safe. And a dream would be something that is dishwasher safe too. I HATE washing my pots and pans in the sink. It's annoying.

3. Hey, it's a wish list. I want this!

4. Corningware set. I've wanted a set for a bit, but have continued to go back and forth as to whether I really want it. So I'll just add it to the wish list.

5. Yep, we've wanted a juicer in this house for a long time. And this is the one.

6. A new toaster oven, just not sure which one. Suggestions?

7. A bread maker. Mine died this week, sad!!! This is the one I had and it was great because it was free! A girlfriend at church gave me hers a little over a year ago. I was looking to borrow one and try it out to see if I'd use it enough and she said I could have hers because she never used it. I just hate the thought of needing a new one because the good ones aren't cheap.

8. Yes, I want a fryer. Yes, I know fried foods aren't great for you. But, there are a few things I'd like to make from time to time and frying on the stove top just is gross. The grease flying everywhere and then the clean-up, no thanks!

9. Another mixing bowl for my stand mixer. I have one but I'd like another since I bake frequently.


Well, that's my top 10. As you have noticed most of the wanted items are for the kitchen. It is my favorite room in the house and I want to spend most of my time in there. Somedays that happens and others not so much. I do have an almost 5 month old, that would be why. But that is okay. I'd just like updated kitchen stuff and new stuff too, so when I'm able to get in there and cook I have everything I need. :)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Menu Plan Monday-November 29

Did everyone have a great Thanksgiving? I hope you counted your blessings one-by-one. I tried and there were too many to count! Our little family is extremely blessed! I am so thankful.

We had an amazing first Thanksgiving with our little girl. She did great traveling to 2 different places. We were nervous she would be overtired since her napping hasn't been great lately, but she took great naps before each event, making our lives much easier. For that we are thankful!

My 5 meals for the week are so delicious and I'm so excited about them. Three of the recipes are new and ones I haven't tried before and a couple I've made and they are wonderful. If the new recipes turn out to be good, you could see them on here!

Don't forget, I only plan 5 meals a week now since we stay fairly busy most nights and 5 is all we have time for most weeks. Enjoy!



November 29-December 4

Chicken Vegetable Marinara (from Kraft Recipes; new recipe)

California-Style Barbecue Chicken Pizza (from Kraft Recipes; new recipe)

Fiesta Beef & Black Bean Enchiladas (from Kraft Recipes; new recipe)

Chicken and Rice Soup (I made this a while ago and froze in it separate servings, so it's ready to go! And it's amazing!!!) And I'll make some French Bread to go with it.

Bacon, eggs and french toast (Hubby makes the best french toast!)


This post is linked to:





Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Double Fudge Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting




This cake is AMAZING!
We had a family friend come into town last week for a business trip and he was able to come by and have dinner with us. I was in charge of dessert, shocking I know!

I've been addicted to The Food Network lately. I can't turn it off. Seriously, I can't. It's on 24 hours a day. Okay, maybe not 24 hours, but 8 hours. Any who, I saw this dessert and knew I wanted to make it. It's decadent, chocolately, rich, and oh so good! And it was easy to make. I know I know, I say that about every recipe, but it really was. Yes, the cake is made from scratch, but it's not 800 ingredients and it's probably stuff you already have in your pantry. So, go and make this cake!



Double Fudge Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups cocoa powder
2 1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
3 large eggs, at room temperature
3 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cups buttermilk, at room temperature
3/4 cup sour cream, at room temperature

For the frosting:

24 oz semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 Tbsp light corn syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature


Directions:

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and butter and flour 3, 9 inch cake pans.
2. In a medium bowl, sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
3. Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, cream butter and sugars on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, until they're well incorporated.
4. Combine the buttermilk and sour cream.
5. On low speed, add the flour mixture and the buttermilk mixture alternately in thirds, starting with the buttermilk mixture and ending with the flour mixture. Mix the batter only until blended.
6. Pour the batter into prepared pans (its thick and dense, so you'll have to spread it a little). Bake for 15-25 minutes, checking after 15 minutes by placing a toothpick in the center. If it comes out gooey, put it back in the oven for 2-3 minutes at a time. If the toothpick has little crumbs on it, it's done. Take it out of the oven, cool on a cooling rack in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and cool completely.

While your cakes are baking, start on the frosting.

1. Place the chocolate chips and heavy cream into a bowl a set over simmering water. Melt chocolate and cream until smooth, stirring occasionally.
2. Off the heat, add the corn syrup and vanilla and stir to combine. Allow this mixture to COOL to room temperature (this is important so do it!).
3. In your stand mixture or hand mixer, place cooled chocolate mixture in the bowl with 1/2 stick unsalted butter (room temperature) and beat on medium speed until thick, 5-10 minutes.
4. Spread the frosting onto the cooled cakes. And enjoy!

The Verdict:
This cake was very dense and delicious. It tasted a little dry and was crumbly, so I may not leave it in the oven as long (I think I baked it for 20 minutes), but it may be crumbly because it's such a dense cake.
The frosting was AMAZING! It was easy to put together and spread great on the cake. I felt like it was going to fall off the cake because of the consistency, but it looked beautiful and stayed on. The corn syrup made it so shiny and beautiful.

I only used 2 of the 3 layers I baked (saving one for something else) because it looked like it was going to be so tall and I just felt like we didn't need so much cake for the event I made it for (there were only 6 of us!). But if you're making it for a big family gathering or a potluck, use the 3rd layer. And the 3rd layer will probably make it look more dramatic and beautiful. And there was more than enough frosting for all 3 layers. I should've put it on a little thicker, I felt like it could've used more.

My mom really liked the frosting. She said it wasn't overly sweet and had great texture. Everyone seemed to enjoy it!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Creating Memories

This year is our first year as family of 3! What a big deal, especially when it comes to Christmas cards and photo books!!!

I love receiving Christmas cards. I get to see how people have changed, what's been happening in their lives and so much more. It's just so much fun to open up the mailbox and see all the cards we receive. I also love going to my mom's house and seeing all the ones they get. They get so many and I love seeing all the designs of the cards and the recent pictures of the families. So exciting!

I also love taking a picture for a Christmas card, designing one and mailing one out. This year, I'm using Shutterfly for my Christmas card needs. I recently found Shutterfly, was recommended by a friend, and I love it. If there is something you want to do with your pictures, go to their site and design it (it's easy) and in an instant you're done! It's fantastic!

Some of my favorite items and things I have in the making:

I'm designing 2 photo books for Christmas presents (shhhh!). And I'll keep doing these for us and her since I'm not into scrapbooking.


I'm making some thank you notes with N's pictures on them. This is my favorite card. I just love having a bunch of pictures on them so people can see her doing different things! And of course, we have about 500 pictures of her, so we have plenty to choose from and it may be difficult to choose from all we have, but I can always have different ones made later one.


And my favorite right now, Christmas cards! I am having so much fun looking through their selection and I think this may be the one I like best as of now. I will definitely be designing some sort of card for our new family of 3 using Shutterfly.com!



Are you thinking about sending out Christmas cards for 2010? If so, check out Shutterfly.com for TONS of cards and gift ideas!

I've had great experiences with Shutterfly. They are quick, reliable and a great deal. And the easiest part? You can design your stuff from the comfort of your own home! You can't beat that!!!!

Shutterfly is offering 50 free holiday cards absolutely FREE!



-Ginny

Disclosure: In exchange for writing this post, I will receive a promotional code for a package of 50 free holiday cards from Shutterfly. Thoughts and opinions about my experience with Shutterfly are my own.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Menu Plan Monday-November 15

Since my life has changed in the last 4 months (Happy 4 months to my sweet girl this past Saturday!), my menu planning has changed along with it. In October I may have cooked 10 times and I hate that! I'm so busy and exhausted by the time dinner time comes along, that it rarely gets done. Because of that, I'm changing how I plan our meals each week!

I'm going to plan 5 meals a week and cook them when I can. For awhile when I was able to cook, I'd cook 2 or 3 meals and freezer the ones we didn't have for dinner. I'm l going to try that approach these next few weeks, get my freezer stockpile up and still do something I love. If I'm only able to cook 1 meal, so be it, I'll cook the next day maybe during N's nap time.

Here's the plan for the week. It's in no particular order, I'll cook from this list for the week and we'll pick what we want each night. I'm only doing 5 meals a week because we can have leftovers 1 or 2 nights and we usually have dinner with some of our family once a week. Of course, we'll see how the week goes and if some of these items even get cooked, but I'm hoping!

Mexican Chicken (I bought a cookbook 2 weeks ago and this is a recipe from it; I'm super excited about this cookbook. I already made a soup from it and it was fantastic!)
Chicken Enchiladas (same cookbook)
Chicken Fingers and baked potatoes



Friday, November 12, 2010

Dear Bleach

Dear Bleach,

I have to say, I used to not like you. You smell, you burn my nose and throat when I use you and you're just a lot to handle.
Up until Sunday night, I didn't love you. Now, I do.
You see, I have tile in my shower. I'm not used to tile, so I didn't know how to really clean the grout and get all the black moldy looking stuff out. Yeah, that's a lot to admit, it wasn't horribly gross, but it bugged me. But then, I put you into a spray bottle and you changed my life. I sprayed you in my tile shower after I showered and let you go to work. The result you ask? The next morning I looked in the shower and it was all clean and wonderful. All black stuff gone and you looked great. And no back breaking work.
Now, you do still burn my eyes and nose and you smell and I need to use you when I won't be back in my room, but you do a wonderful job.
So here's to you bleach! You do a great job. Thanks for you hard work, so I don't have to.

Sincerely,
Ginny

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Convenience Meals-Money Saving Tip

We're all trying to save money, cutting budgets here and there. We're always looking for ways to save a few pennies. There are so many ways to save some money and we do this thing every week day... It's called leftovers!

Yep, leftovers. I think people really overlook leftovers and don't use them and toss them out. What a waste of money! I'm not into wasting money, especially when it comes to food, the one thing we can control.

We love leftovers in our house. I try (yes, I said try) to cook 5 times a week and whatever we don't eat goes in it's own container, with a label, into the freezer and placed on our freezer inventory list. This inventory list is to always know what we have to eat in the freezer, saving us time and money. We call them "convenience meals." They're an easy grab from the freezer and are always delicious. Most everything freezes well, so there's no excuse in our house to go out to lunch every weekday.

Hubby works away from home and he loves his leftover lunches. He gets many questions each week as to what he's brought from home and what smells so good. That makes me feel good and know he's eating a good lunch and is taken care of while at work. I just love knowing he's well fed. :)

Now, I know not everyone has enough food to have leftovers, but if you do every once in a while, this is a great way to save your leftovers.

When I see my freezer meal stock getting low, I try and cook a little more to build this back up so we always have good and hot meals to eat.


Monday, November 8, 2010

1 year ago today...

Happy Girl!!!


1 year ago today we found out some AMAZING news. We were expecting our first child. Talk about mind blowing!

The week before I suspected I was pregnant so I took about 3 pregnancy tests, but they were all faintly positive. Now, I've never been pregnant before, so I didn't know if this meant I was or maybe was. So I scheduled a doctor's visit with my Nurse Practitioner and come to find out, I was 4 weeks pregnant. Waiting in the waiting room was the longest hour of my life! I was shaking and my heart was racing and my palms were sweaty, it was weird. It was an insane experience.

I don't even remember what I was thinking when we were finally taken back to one of the exam rooms. And when Sandy came in and said, "Congratulations!" I was floored. Daniel and I looked at each other and smiled and hugged and just had so many thoughts running through our head. As this pregnancy wasn't planned, it was definitely a surprise! But a fantastic surprise!

Now one year later, we have an almost 4 month old! I am amazed by God's blessings daily. We have a healthy, happy, smiley, big (15 pounds) baby girl. And we couldn't be happier with her and our life with her. It's hard to remember what it was like before her. I heard so many people say that and didn't understand it until she came along, I so get it now. It's an amazing, rewarding, scary, complicated and exhausted experience. But I wouldn't change a second of it. I'm enjoying every single moment, even the fussy and cranky moments. I know that all this won't last forever and I have a few short moments with her being little and super dependent.

1 year later I'm thankful for her and for my supportive husband, our wonderful families who can't get enough of her and for all the spoiling they do. They take wonderful care of all 3 of us!

Blessings,
Ginny

Sunday, October 31, 2010

This blog is changing...

I've come to a new chapter in my life. The life of not only a Christ follower and wife, but now a mother. I've been a mother for almost 4 months now but am finally realizing how much I've changed and my family is changing.

With those things in mind, the look and content of this blog are changing. Yes, I'll still post recipes because I am still cooking and I love to cook, when time allows. But I also want to focus on what I'm reading, what I'm doing with my Husband and daughter and what's going on in our lives in general.

So, stay tuned for some new posts and some of the usual stuff too. I hope you'll stick with me as I figure some things out. I know I haven't posted in awhile but it's because I'm off being a mother and taking care of our lives. Stay tuned!


Friday, September 3, 2010

Creamy Crock Pot Cheesecake

Yes, you read right, cheesecake in the crock pot. Oh my!

My sister came over Wednesday night for dinner and a visit so I made crock pot cheesy chicken spaghetti and french bread. I wanted a dessert that I wouldn't have to fool with while I cleaned house and took care of N. This cheesecake was the perfect dessert. While I don't usually make dessert for just us, I wanted to try this recipe. It took me maybe 10 minutes to prep and I threw it in the crock pot and left it for 3 hours, awesome!

Crockpot Cheesecake: modified from A Year of Slowcooking

Crust:
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 Tbsp brown sugar
3 Tbsp melted butter

Filling:
16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature (unwrap them and zap them in the microwave for about 30 seconds; mine needed a little more)
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup heavy cream (I actually didn't have heavy cream, so I used half-n-half as a substitute)
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp flour

Directions:

Find a heat resistant dish that will fit in your crockpot. You will be making a water bath for the cheesecake.
I used a 9 inch round cake pan in my 6 quart oval crockpot. The cake pan sat on the rim of the crockpot and somewhat floated in the crockpot filled with water, but was still stable.
You could also try a 1.5 qt Corning Ware dish in a 6 qt oval. I didn't have this so had to opt for the 9 inch cake pan.

Place graham crackers in a plastic zipper bag and crush; I used my rolling pin. Put a cup of the crumbs into a bowl with melted butter and brown sugar and stir until wet and crumbly; it's best to use your hands. Press crumb mixture into bottom of pan you're using (I tried to push mine up the side of the cake pan a little bit too). Use the bottom of a drinking glass to make an even layer of crust.

In a separate bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add eggs, flour, cream and vanilla. Pour the cheese mixture on top of the crust.

If you use the cake pan like I did, fill the crockpot almost to the top so it covers the majority of the cake pan; 1/2 to 3/4 up the cake pan. If you use a Corning Ware dish, add about a cup of water to the bottom of the pot. Be careful not to splash any of the water on the cheesecake.

Cover and cook on LOW for 2-3 hours, checking after 1 hour of cook time, just in case. The cheesecake is done with the edges are no longer shiny and have set. Gently touch the cheesecake, if you don't get a bunch of cake on your finger, it's done.

I cooked mine for about 2 hours and 10 minutes. After yours is done, keep cheesecake covered and unplug crockpot. Leave it in the crockpot for 1 hour; transfer to refrigerator for about 2 hours before serving. I left mine in there about 3 hours, I like my cheesecake cold.

The Verdict.
Awesome! Hubby and Sister loved it. They all said it was really creamy and delicious. I loved mine as well. It was the consistency I like in a cheesecake and was really creamy. Hubby would of liked a little fruit topping and I agree. I love plain cheesecake but I do like a fruit topping too, preferably strawberry.
I also loved it because I didn't have to turn on the oven and heat the whole house. And using the crockpot to make cheesecake just blew my mind.

Note: As most cheesecakes are, it was even better the next day.



This link is posted to Flash Back Friday.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Overnight Caramel French Toast

I made this a couple weeks ago and it was delicious!
I prepped it all the night before and refrigerated it until the next night. What a great dish to take to our Sunday School class for the next "1st Sunday breakfast." I'll pop it in the oven the morning of and cut it into smaller pieces to serve more people.

Overnight Caramel French Toast

1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 Tbsp light corn syrup
12 slices white or whole wheat bread (I used whole wheat, could also use your own homemade)
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon, divided
6 eggs, beaten
1-1/2 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. In a small saucepan, bring the brown sugar, butter and corn syrup to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat.
2. Pour into a greased 13-in x 9-in. baking dish. Top with six slices of bread. Combine sugar and 1/2 tsp cinnamon; sprinkle half over the bread. Place remaining bread on top. Sprinkle with remaining cinnamon-sugar, set aside.
3. In a large bowl, add the beaten eggs, milk, vanilla and remaining 1/2 tsp cinnamon. Pour over the bread. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight (I refrigerated mine for about 20 hours and it was fine).
4. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees F for 30-35 minutes (I baked mine about 30 minutes and that wasn't long enough, definitely needed 35+ minutes in my oven because the middle was a little mushy).

Yield: 6 servings

Enjoy!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Menu Plan Monday-August 23

August 23-August 29

We're venturing out and trying new recipes again this week. We liked most of the things I made last week, especially the Baked Chimichangas. I'll have to post that recipe on here soon, although I didn't take a picture of the finished product, oops!

It's cooling off here. And by cooling off I mean the low 90's. Oh well, it's something better than what we've had and hopefully it's a taste of the near future.

Here's what's on our menu for this week.

Monday, 23:
Chicken Piccata
from Taste of Home cookbook

Tuesday, 24:
Ranch Pork Roast (crock pot)
from Better Homes cookbook

Wednesday, 25:
Enchilada Stuffed Shells
from Taste of Home cookbook

Thursday, 26:
Phyllo Chicken
from Taste of Home cookbook

Friday, 27:
Blueberry Buckle
from Better Homes cookbook

Saturday, 28:
Hawaiian Baked Chicken
from Taste of Home cookbook

Sunday, 29:
No meal plan yet, will make one of the dishes above if it doesn't happen during the week or we'll have leftovers


*Any meals you'd like the recipe for, leave me a comment and your email and I'll email you the recipe.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Easy Chocolate Pie

I posted this originally back in March, but since it's so hot, I figured I'd repost it again. An easy and cool dessert recipe. No baking and turning on the oven needed!


Easy Chocolate Pie-Mom's kitchen
Printer-Friendly Recipe

1 12 oz container cool whip, thawed
2 extra large Hershey's milk chocolate bar, melted (dark chocolate is great too)
1 graham cracker pie crust (chocolate graham or Oreo crust works too)... I used a chocolate graham this time

1. Mix melted chocolate bar and cool whip together until blended.
2. Dump into pie crust and cover.
3. Freeze 4 hours or overnight.
4. Enjoy!

Yes, it's as easy as that and it's so good!

This link is posted at:

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Menu Plan-August 16

August 16-August 22

Hello Friends,
Another hot week is upon us, but hopefully not as hot as it has been.

I'm SO ready to get outside and go for walks with Nyla, but it is WAY to hot to do that. I know I could take being hot and sweaty, but I'm not going to put my almost 5 week old through that misery. So instead, we'll stay inside, some more, and enjoy the air conditioner that we are blessed to have. Hopefully in about 4 weeks the weather will cool a little bit and we'll be able to go for walks in the morning together and then again when Hubby gets home from work. Time will only tell.

What's new around here?
Nyla is 5 weeks on Tuesday. It's hard to believe she's been with us for 5 weeks already. We are so blessed!
I have been in the kitchen just about every night since August began. My c-section put me out of it for a good two weeks, but by the time August came around I was more than ready to get back in it and cook again. I've had a blast too! I've gotten some different cookbooks out to menu plan for the month and made some really good stuff. I've been very pleased with the turnout and so has Hubby. He's definitely into trying new foods more and for this I am thankful because I can really expand myself in the kitchen.
And it's just plain hot here, hot hot hot! Stay inside!!!

So here's our menu for the week:

Monday:
Chicken Parmigiana

Tuesday:
Nothing planned

Wednesday:
Baked Ziti

Thursday:
Baked Chimichangas

Friday:
Pizza (I made pizzas before N was born, so I'll pull this out of the deep freeze)

Saturday:
Teriyaki Chicken

Sunday:
Baked Rotini

These are all new recipes that I've never made before, so I'm super excited to see how they turn out. If they're good, I'll be posting them over the next couple of weeks.

I'm going to try and post at least twice a week on here, whether it be a recipe, my menu plan or just some random news. I hope to begin writing ahead when I have the time, so if days slip by me (which they tend to do now), I'll be ahead and you'll have something to read! :) So hang with me.

Have a great week and stay cool!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Three-Cheese Manicotti


It feels so great to be back in the kitchen after about a month off from cooking. I didn't cook much the last couple weeks of pregnancy, my back hurt and I was tired after carrying that belly around all day. :) The only things I did cook were freezer meals to pull out the first couple weeks after Nyla was born, when I didn't feel like cooking. I did that with about 6 weeks to go. I'm glad I did because on nights that are just crazy, I've been able to pull out taco meat that's ready to go or a lasagna. I even made some breakfast breads so I'd have something different to eat, besides cereal and Daniel could take to work too.
Thankfully we've also had plenty of people bring us meals which got us through quite a while and we're still working on some of them. Daniel and I eat the leftovers for lunch.
But I've been so ready to menu plan and grocery shop (I hadn't done that in 4 weeks). I know that sounds so silly, but I really enjoy planning our meals and budgeting when I shop. I find a thrill in it for some reason. I guess I enjoy saving money.
So as August began I wanted to menu plan. Yes, it's adventurous when you have a newborn that's only about 15 days old, but I knew I could at least plan and if we had a bad day I could always go to my deep freezer and pull out the meals I made before she was born. So far, I haven't had to do that! When Hubby gets home he's able to rock and diaper Nyla while I cook. And for this I am so thankful. I love being in our kitchen and making meals for us to enjoy together.
Below is one of my latest ventures. I'd never made manicotti before this time, what a learning experience. I let the manicotti shells go too long so they were too soft to handle, some even fell apart. I made it work though, so it wasn't too much of a problem.
The verdict? Delicious! It made so much I froze the other pan of it and pulled it out tonight for dinner. It was just as good as last time. Now Hubby has lunch tomorrow and I've got 2 convenience meals (leftover meals perfectly portioned and labeled in the freezer for Hubby to take to work if there are no leftovers from the previous nights dinner) in the freezer for him for another time, he just loves those.
Here's the recipe, enjoy!

Three-Cheese Manicotti-From: Taste of Home Cookbook

Ingredients:
20 uncooked manicotti shells
2 cartons (15 oz each) ricotta cheese--I substituted cottage cheese (they don't sell ricotta at Aldi) and it tasted great, I actually liked the taste better than ricotta
5 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided--1 or 2 cups of Italian blend would be good too
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs, beaten
2 tsp dried basil
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp seasoned salt
2 jars (26 oz each) spaghetti sauce, or your own

1. Cook manicotti according to the package instructions (like I said, I overcooked them so they were too soft, so be careful). Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the ricotta cheese (or cottage cheese), 3 cups mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, eggs and seasonings.
2. Spread 1 cup spaghetti sauce each into two ungreased 13x9 in baking dishes. *Stuff manicotti shells with cheese mixture; arrange over sauce. Top with remaining sauce.
3. Cover and bake at 375 degrees F for 35-40 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake 10 minutes longer or until cheese is melted and manicotti is heated through.

*I put half the cheese mixture into a gallon bag and snipped a corner and piped the cheese mixture into the shells, much easier. Only do half the mixture (or less) at a time though, otherwise the bag is too heavy and you can't stuff the shells properly.
Like I said, it makes quite a lot for 2 people. 10 servings or 2 manicotti each, so I froze the extra pan. I never cut a recipe to work for just two people. We enjoy leftovers and being able to freeze extra to pull out for another dinner.

Enjoy!


Thursday, August 12, 2010

I'm Baaack....

Nyla at 4 days old. I had to put a giant bow/flower in her hair. :)
Ready to leave the hospital and begin our life as a family of 3!
Her 0 month sticker at 1 day old. A good friend at church had a little boy about 3 months ago and they have these stickers that you put on them at the month birthday, all the way up to 12 months, to track their growth through pictures. She loves her so she got me a pack. So cute!
Brand new pretty baby!
Right out of mommy's tummy. Weighed in at a whopping 9 pounds and 8 ounces. Yes, we were expecting a big baby girl, but maybe not nine and a half pounds. :)



Well sort of...

I'm going to try and get back to blogging, at least once a week. I'm so busy with Nyla, the days just slip by me and I'm lucky to have an hour to myself. If I do get an hour, it's usually filled with laundry and some sort of cleaning and maybe even a shower. Haha. But I miss writing and posting and keeping up with my blog friends, so I'll try my hardest to write ahead when I have a few minutes and try and update each week. I hope you're all doing well!

Big news? I am a proud mother of a now 4 week and 2 day old. I can't believe she's already 4 weeks. Time flies when you're having fun! We are enjoying every minute with our sweet little one. She is a blast, even at 4 weeks. I remember what it's like not having her, but can't imagine life any other way. We are so blessed to have a healthy baby girl. God blesses us!

Even after these crazy 4 weeks I am back in the kitchen and I have missed it! For most of July, when I was getting big and miserable and hot and sweating like a pig, I didn't cook much and we ate out too much, eek! And then when I had her, by emergency c-section, I was out of commission for pretty much 2 weeks. Thankfully, my sweet hubby was able to take vacation the first week and work from home the second week. I'm so thankful his boss let him and that he has the capabilities to do that. By week 2, I was moving around a bit better but if she woke up in the middle of the night, I couldn't get to her fast enough, it took me forever to roll out of bed. :) I'm also thankful for the many people who brought us lunch and dinners. We're still working on leftovers, which is great. We have a freezer full of leftovers so Hubby takes them to work for lunch.

But after 4 weeks, I'm feeling great (and exhausted) and happy to be menu planning, grocery budgeting and shopping and cooking again. Dear kitchen, I have missed thee!

So hang in there dear readers, I'll try and post a recipe or two each week because I am making some super duper delicious dinners!

And obviously, the pictures above are for your viewing pleasure. What a great day it was to welcome our sweet one into our lives!








Saturday, May 22, 2010

We're Homeowners!!!

Yes, we're homeowners!
We're very excited!
We closed Friday, May 21st at 3:00 p.m. and were over there cleaning and prepping walls for painting by 3:45! Can you tell we're a little excited?

We're hired some people to renovate some items in the house, they start Monday and should be done within 2-3 weeks. Actually, they have to be done in 3 weeks, that is what we worked out since Nyla could make her appearance soon after they finish their work. We have got to get moved in and her room and our room set-up, just in case she comes 4 weeks early. I am very prepared and organized, so yes I will be ready in case she surprises us by coming early.

We took "before" pictures when we got to the house yesterday, so I'll post them soon so you can see our sweet little house, that we are very excited about.

Another good thing, we had 3 people stop by and tell us "hi" and "welcome." We had been there a matter of hours and all those people came and introduced themselves. That is wonderful and amazing! It makes us want to move in now! They were all very nice and so excited to see the house sold (been on the market about 6 months and empty) and they were excited to see a young couple too. The whole cove seems nice and they've said it's really quiet. There's an older couple that say it's like living in the country because it's so quiet. This is good because we are homebodies and very quiet ourselves, so we'll have no problem fitting in!

Please continue to pray for us as we adjust to homeownership. Also please pray Nyla doesn't come too early because we are not ready for her. I am so used to lifting whatever I want, working for however long I want and doing what I want. It's a difficult adjustment to be pregnant and not be able to do all these things how and when I want. I'm really trying to be good about sitting more than I stand and taking more breaks so she doesn't decide she's had enough and comes early. We don't want that just yet! Please wait 4 more weeks sweet girl!

Pictures to come soon!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

This week....

Sorry I haven't posted this week friends.
We've had quite a bit going on this week and I haven't had time to sit down and blog about what I've been doing. I hope to be up and running later on in the week. If that doesn't work, I'll see you Menu Plan Monday on Sunday.
Thanks for your understanding!
Ginny

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Leftover Spaghetti Pie



I made this a couple of weeks ago and Hubby and I loved it!
I was afraid it wasn't going to be good but it was fantastic. I'll definitely making this again. It was simple and delicious!

Leftover Spaghetti Pie-from Kraft Foods

Ingredients:
3 cups cooked spaghetti
4 oz Velvetta cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
6 oz cooked chicken; I used a whole chicken and shredded it
1 (14 oz) jar of spaghetti sauce
2 Tbsp parmesan cheese

Directions:
1. Heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Place cooked spaghetti, Velvetta, chicken and sauce in re-sealable bag and toss to mix together.
3. Press mixture into 9-inch pie plate or 8-inch square baking dish, sprayed with cooking spray.
4. Sprinkle with parmesan.
5. Bake 15-20 minutes or until it's heated through.


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Menu Plan Monday #28


March 29th-April 4th

Monday, March 29th:

Tuesday, March 30th:

Wednesday, March 31st:

Thursday, April 1st: April Fool's Day
dinner with MIL at McAlister's

Friday, April 2nd: Good Friday!
Breakfast

Saturday, April 3rd:
5k walk/run for my parents church; I'll be walking since I'm 5 1/2 months pregnant
Easter Egg Hunt for the kiddo's at my church, I'm the organizer, so I'll be exhausted after that!
leftovers for dinner

Sunday, April 4th: Happy EASTER!!!
Dinner with Daniel's mom's side for Easter

Friday, March 26, 2010

Nyla's Bow Holder

My mom and I ventured out today to her church's annual Spring craft's fair.
They had some really great stuff, especially sweet little hair bows! I've always seen the bows around at the crafts fair but never had reason to stop and really see what was out there.
Now that I know we're having a girl, we of course had to look at all the hair bows that people were selling. I think there were at least 4 vendors selling bows. So much fun!

Well, I think between the two of us we bought about 15 bows. Haha!
But baby girl has no bows and this girl had some GREAT prices! She had small bows for $1 each and she had buy 2, get one free! You can't beat that.

Well I've been wanting to make a crafty project for Nyla's room for quite some time now and this gave me the perfect reason too. I needed somewhere to put her hair bows.

After we left the crafts fair we headed over to Big Lots just to see what they had, (I love me some Big Lots)! I found a small 11 x 14 pre-stretched canvas for $3. Can't beat that! I wanted to paint something cute on it and glue some ribbon to it and create my own hair bow holder. And so my craft began!

I forgot to take a picture of the blank canvas, but I think we all know what a white canvas looks like. :)



I had all the paints I needed for the project so it didn't cost me anything in paint expenses.
I started by painting the background Turquoise, (I used acrylic paint for this entire project).
Then I painted different colored polka dots; 2 different pinks, purple, gold, pumpkin orange, lime green and a light blue. I let that dry completely and then had to decide of what I wanted to do for her letter or letters.
I was debating between her full name, a monogram of her name and just the first letter of her name. I obvious chose to do just the first letter. I asked Hubby what color I should do the letter in. Black, chocolate brown or white? He liked white and I agreed. I think the darker colors would've been too harsh for the baby room.
The letter is free handed, but I think it turned out pretty well.
After the paint dried completely I attached the ribbon with a glue gun on the back. I had leftover ribbon from some other project from way back when and cut the strips evenly. I had just enough of each, made it even better!
I had a bright pink with small white polka dots and a white with multi-colored polka dots. The paint did end up matching the ribbon pretty well, which made the project turn out even better!

And that is how I made my own hair bow holder, for $3!

I did find one at the crafts fair for about $12 and it was very cute. It had a wooden letter which cute polka dots painted on and 2 ribbon strands attached to it. I have a feeling we'll need more than 2 ribbon strands, that's why I did 5. But I wasn't about to pay $12 for something I could make to my liking and since I love crafting, this was great!


Monday, March 22, 2010

Multi-Colored Cupcakes

These cupcakes were fun to make!
Our kids had a church lock-in last Friday and the Director asked for junk food for the kids, since they'll be there 12 hours. Yikes!
So I wanted to make something fun for the kids to bite in to.
I mixed the cupcake batter up as stated on the instructions from the box, then split it up evenly between four bowls. I then added a different color food coloring to each bowl. For this time I added red, yellow, blue and green. I did use a yellow cake mix, but I know the white cake mix would hold true to the colors better, just fyi.
Then I mixed them up well, added more color if needed and began the next steps.
I sprayed my cupcake tins with non-stick spray, then 2 tsp-1 Tbsp at a time of colored batter. I think I did red, then yellow, then blue, then green. I did not stir them around, for fear of it turning into a brown blob mess. Yuck!
I let each layer settle before adding the next. It did not cover the layer before but that was okay with me. This is better than getting brown goop once it all baked!
After I filled them all, let them settle for a few minutes I baked them as directed.
I then let them cool completely before icing them.
Now, I'm a homemade icing kind of girl, but for kids, not so much. I knew the kids might only eat half the cupcake so I wasn't going to waste my good icing on them. I just bought a canned, white icing (that's what the kids usually go for) and topped each cupcake with that. Then I placed a few colorful sprinkles on top to make them more enticing, like that is needed. haha

Here's my finished product!

Cute right?
I think this is 2 bites in because I couldn't see the green at first. It's how the colors positioned themselves in the cupcake tin. I think it's rather fun and springy. I may have to make these again for the Easter Egg Hunt in a few weeks! What a great spring treat to bite into!

I hope the kids enjoyed them!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Menu Plan Monday #27

March 22nd- March 28th:

Monday, March 22nd:

Tuesday, March 23rd: Happy Birthday to my Dad!!!

Wednesday, March 24th:
Grilled Chicken Roller-Oh so delicious and easy!

Thursday, March 25th:
Saucy Pepper Steak-I love this one, b/c I love the roasted bell peppers!
Then, I'm going to see the musical, South Pacific at the Orpheum with my mom and my sister!

Friday, March 26th:
Breakfast!!!

Saturday, March 27th:
Birthday Party for my dad! No idea what we'll have. He loves to grill so whatever he wants to fix, plus sides and dessert made by my mom and me.

Sunday, March 28th: Palm Sunday/Happy Birthday to my good friend Laura!
Lunch at friend's house for Easter (we celebrate early since we all have other family and friends to see the weekend/day of Easter)
Cook's Day of Rest


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Simple Chocolate-Almond Ice Cream

This is so good and easy!
I made this ice cream to go on top of my mom's ice cream cake last week. It was a hit!

Simple Chocolate-Almond Ice Cream

2 cups heavy cream, chilled
1 cup whole milk, chilled
1/2 cup chocolate syrup
2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp almond extract

Place ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and combine until well blended. Pour into freezer bowl, turn the machine ON and let mix until mixture thickens, about 20-25 minutes. If desired, transfer ice cream to an airtight container and place in freezer until firm, about 2 hours, OR serve immediately for soft-serve consistency.

*Follow your manufacturer's instructions on pre-freezing your ice cream bowl. Mine says freeze at least 6 hours prior to ice cream making, I do it overnight to ensure complete freezing.

Makes 10, 1/2 cup servings
Calories: 253

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

French Bread Pizza

We have pizza in our house each Friday night. It's a great way to end a long week.

While I love pizza, I get tired of the same old thing so I try and mix it up with different the different pizza recipes I have.

Last week I made some french bread pizza. Yummy!

I started out by making french bread in the bread machine. I followed the directions through the whole thing, baked it and let it cool a bit.

Then I sliced it long wise to open it up then in the size pieces I wanted to serve. I used my pizza sauce and garlic seasoning, added my choice of cheeses and pepperoni's. Of course you can add your favorite toppings. I have a picky husband and all he wants is pepperoni's.

Heat the oven to BROIL, place pizza's on baking sheet and let broil for 3-5 minutes. Keep an eye on it, it can burn quickly. This gets the bread and toppings nice and crispy and delicious!

Remove from oven, put on a plate, sprinkle with parmesan cheese if desired and enjoy.
Pizza night is as easy as that. It's especially easy if you already have some french bread made and in the freezer. Thaw it out and add the sauce, etc and enjoy.

This post is linked to Blessed with Grace's Tempt My Tummy Tuesday. Stop by and check her wonderful blog out!!!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Menu Plan Monday #26

March 15th-March 21st

Happy First week of Springing Forward! I'm exhausted from the change. It's always hard to adjust to live jumping ahead. Oh well, by week's end I'll be good!

Not much happening in our lives this week and that's okay with us!
I had a bit of an emotional week last week so I'm glad to welcome a new week.

Nyla and I are still doing wonderful. It's amazing how her kicks are stronger each week. I was lying in bed last Thursday night and I think she was doing flips in my belly because she felt like she was everywhere. It was awesome. Hubby could feel a few of her kicks too, they're getting so strong. It's awesome!

Have a great week and I hope you enjoy the menu!

Monday, March 15th:

Tuesday, March 16th:
Simply Lasagna-yummy leftovers

Wednesday, March 17th:
Cheesy Chicken Pot Pie-I've made this before, so good

Thursday, March 18th:
Cheese Ravioli-want to make your own ravioli, go here. She has great step-by-step instructions (with pictures) on how to make your own ravioli. I haven't given it a try yet, but I will soon. They just look so yummy!

Friday, March 19th:

Saturday, March 20th:

Sunday, March 21st:
Cook's Day of Rest


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Ice Cream Cake



Yummy ice cream cake!
We celebrated my mom's birthday last week and I offered to make her cake. I've been wanting to try my hand at SnoWhite's recipe for ice cream cake. I'm glad I did, so good!

And since it's finally starting to warm up around here, I thought ice cream would be in order. Well, why not just make an ice cream cake? So, I did.

Ice Cream Cake-modified from SnoWhite at Joy in my Kitchen

Cake:
1 cup flour
1/4 unsweetened cocoa
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup oil (or applesauce)
3/4 cup warm water
1 Tbsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
2. In large bowl, mix together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt.
3. Then, whisk in the sugar.
4. In another bowl combine the water, egg, vanilla, oil (or applesauce).
5. Combine the wet and dry ingredients until just moist.
6. Pour into a greased 9x13 baking pan, and bake at 325 degrees for about 20 minutes.
7. Remove the pan from the oven and let it cool completely on a wire rack. My cake too about an hour.


Next:
Remove the ice cream from the freezer about 15 minutes before you plan to use it to soften a bit. I made homemade ice cream and started making it about 45 minutes into the cooling of my cake, so they'd be ready at exactly the same time. Since I made homemade, it's a soft-serve consistency, this made it easy to spread onto the completely cooled cake.

Spread the ice cream over the cake.
Get it as smooth as possible, then cover with plastic wrap or foil and freeze to harden, about 4+ hours. I put mine in the freezer overnight.

The next day, combine whipping cream, vanilla, and powdered sugar. Whip until stiff, about 6 minutes.

Spread the whipped cream over the frozen ice cream.
I then drizzle chocolate syrup on top and added 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips. It looked so pretty!
Place back in the freezer for at least 2 hours to let whipped topping harden.
Take out 15 minutes before serving to soften, cut up and enjoy!!!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Menu Plan Monday #25

March 8th-March 14th

Not much going on in our place this week and that's okay with us!
Last week seemed to go on and on and it was so busy. It was a great week of course, just very busy. So this week with not much going on will be nice.
There's quite a few new recipes on our menu to try this week, hopefully we'll be happy with them.
I hope to post the Ice Cream Cake recipe this week that I got from my friend SnoWhite. It was definitely a hit at my mom's birthday dinner. I did modify the recipe a bit since my mom loves chocolate more than anything. :)
I've been working on Nyla's room quite a bit this week as well. I'm definitely beginning to "nest." I spent the end of the week cleaning up, cleaning out, organizing and redecorating our apartment. We sent quite a pile to my mom's church for their youth garage sale they throw every year. This sale helps them send a large group of youth to the Appalachian Mountains to help build and rebuild homes each summer. It's a great program and great for the youth to go and see a different side of life. So all our used stuff is going to a great cause!
I'm also getting into coupon clipping again, well maybe. I shop at Aldi for the most part, but I'm looking for a new challenge, to see if I can save even more money buy using coupons instead of just shopping at Aldi. I've asked my mom to start saving all the coupons she gets in the newspaper on Sunday's and any other coupons she comes across. I don't know if it'll be worth my time or patience, but I'm willing to look into it.
So I do have a couple of projects going this week. I hope to get better about taking pictures and posting "before" and "after" stuff on my posts so hopefully you can get some decent ideas from me.
Have a great week!

Monday, March 8th: Children's Ministry Meeting @ Church

Tuesday, March 9th:

Wednesday, March 10th:

Thursday, March 11th:

Friday, March 12th:
Breakfast; pancakes, bacon and eggs

Saturday, March 13th:

Sunday, March 14th:
Buffet Brunch with my Parents at the Country Club, yummy!