It's hard for me to believe, but today is my two-year "blogiversary"! On December 27, 2007, I set up this blog and posted my first post. On the 31st of that same year, I posted my first menu plan. During the two years that followed I posted 414 posts and 102 menus (not counting this one)! I have to say, I'm pretty impressed with myself for sticking with my blog. It has definitely become a joke in our family. I get teased every Sunday night (in a nice way, of course) about posting my weekly menu. Both friends and family laugh when we get ready to eat dinner because they know they don't get to eat until I take a picture of the food if it's new recipe. My girlfriends joke about hoping that one of their recipes will make my blog. :) I have to admit, my blog does bring me a lot of joy. I love sharing recipes with others, finding new ones to try, and helping others find the joy of menu planning.

Last year on my first anniversary, I did a giveaway to celebrate. I thought I would continue that tradition this year. To qualify for this year's giveaway, you have to write a comment back on this post and share one of your family's favorite dinner recipes. Yes, this is my sneaky way to get some new recipe ideas. :) I will select one winner by random number drawing. The winner will win an apron handmade by me! The deadline for entries will be Saturday, January 2 at 7:00 p.m. central time. I will announce the winner on Sunday, January 3 on my weekly menu post.

Following is this week's menu. For more menu ideas, go to

Sunday - Eat out with my parents
Monday - Red Beans and Rice (Zatarans) with Turkey Smoked Sausage, Salad, Peaches
Tuesday - Spaghetti with meatballs, Garlic Muffins, Salad
Wednesday - Honey Roasted Pork Loin, Broccoli, Salad
Friday - Leftovers
Saturday - Homemade Pizza, Salad



2 tablespoons sugar
2 to 3 teaspoons cocoa powder (I love Hershey's Dark Chocolate)
Dash salt
1 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract


Mix sugar, cocoa and salt in large mug. Heat milk in microwave at HIGH (100%) 1-1/2 minutes or until hot. (You can also heat the milk in a pan on stove. Just be sure to use medium low heat so you don't scald the milk.) Gradually add hot milk to cocoa mixture in mug, stirring until well blended. Stir in vanilla. 1 serving.

1 pkg (20oz) hash browns (I use Simply Potatoes)
1 can cream of chicken soup (reduced fat)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (2% milk kind)
3/4 cup fat free sour cream
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup melted butter or margarine


Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 2 quart glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. In large bowl combine all ingredients; mix well. Spread into prepared baking dish. Bake 45 minutes or until hash browns are tender.

Boy, do I feel like a slacker! This is the first time in months that I didn't post my menu on Sunday night. But, the holiday season is in full swing. We attended my husband's work Christmas party last night which was the cause of my delay. It was very nice party, though. :) This week we will be visiting different relatives, so we have several nights that I didn't have to plan meals. I hope to spend some time over Christmas break searching for some new meal ideas. Here's this week's very short holiday menu. I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas! For more menu ideas go to

Sunday - Eat at work Christmas party
Monday - Marinated Grilled Chicken Breasts, Broccoli, Salad, Fruit
Tuesday - Eat at McSalty's Pizza - Eric has a sax gig
Wednesday - Chili Ranch Pork Chops, Corn, Salad, Peaches
Thursday -Salisbury Steak, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans, Salad
Friday - Eat at my parents' house
Saturday - Eat at Eric's parents' house

I use frozen bread dough to bread bowls for soups, stews, and chili. I usually use Rhodes brand wheat, but I'm sure any kind would work well.

1 package of frozen bread dough (3 loaves)
(note: you can also use frozen roll dough)
1 egg, beaten with 1 T of water for egg wash


Thaw frozen bread dough according to package directions, but don't put in loaf pans. Just thaw in the bag or on a cookie sheet.

Cut loaf into thirds. Form each third into a ball. If using rolls combine 3 rolls to make a ball. Repeat with remaining rolls. Place on a large sprayed baking sheet. Brush with egg. Cover with sprayed plastic wrap. Let rise until double in size. Remove wrap and bake at 350°F 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool and slice off top. Hollow out bread and fill with favorite dip, chili or soup.

For larger bowls cut loaf in half or use 4 rolls.
This recipe comes from an old Lutheran cookbook and is a favorite in our family. It makes 3 regular loaves of bread or 8 mini loaves.

4 eggs
3 c. sugar
1 c. canola oil
2/3 c. water
1 1/2 c. pumpkin
3 1/2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. salt

Blend all ingredients in order. Blend lightly. Bake in well-greased loaf tins at 350 degrees for about 1 hour. Makes 3 pans. Note: If you use mini loaves, it takes about 40 minutes to cook.

We survived our hectic week of evening activities last week! My Polar Express party was a huge success with over 650 students and parents attending! Corey enjoyed his academic team meet, and we were able to go watch for a while. We finally had some time together this weekend as a family. I sewed new Christmas stockings for us and made a new tree skirt (photos coming soon). We got our Christmas cards ready to mail, and we even had time to watch Elf. Eric played at church on Sunday, and we spent most of the day today cooking holiday goodies. This week has very few evening obligations, so we will be eating a bit better than we have been lately. It's our last week of school before we get out for Christmas break! Woo hoo! Following is this week's menu. For more menu ideas, go to Enjoy!

Sunday -Roast Beef, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, Green Beans
Monday -Pepper Jack Mac & Cheese, Broccoli, Salad, Peaches
Tuesday -Herbed Chicken in Pastry, Brussels Sprouts, Salad
Wednesday - Pork Medallions with Cider Sauce, Cheddar Potato Strips, Parmesan Green Beans
Thursday - Beef Stew in Bread Bowls (book club night - girls bringing sides)
Friday - Homemade Pizza, Salad
Saturday - Grilled Bruschetta Chicken, Basil Green Beans, Salad

Christmas Goodies we baked:
Double Dark Chocolate Banana Bread
Pumpkin Bread
White Chocolate Pretzels (don't really need a recipe for this)
Cake Pops (chocolate ones and spice ones)
Best Ever Blondies
Pudding Cookies
These are incredibly rich cookies! I chose to leave off the frosting on top because they are so sweet. They also stick to the pan, so  you might want to use parchment paper on your cookie sheet when baking.

Makes 24 cookies

1 (19.5 oz.) package Pillsbury® Classic Traditional Fudge Brownie Mix
1/4 cup butter, melted
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 large egg
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup Creamy Peanut Butter
1/2 can Pillsbury® Chocolate Fudge Frosting

1. HEAT oven to 350°F. Beat brownie mix, melted butter, cream cheese and egg in medium bowl 50 strokes with spoon until well blended (dough will be sticky).
2. DROP dough by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets to make 24 cookies; smooth edge of each to form round cookie.
3. MIX powdered sugar and peanut butter in small bowl with spoon until mixture forms a ball. With hands, roll rounded teaspoonfuls peanut butter mixture into 24 balls. Lightly press 1 ball into center of each ball of dough.
4. BAKE 10 to 14 minutes or until edges are set. Cool on cookie sheets at least 30 minutes.
5. SPREAD thin layer of frosting over peanut butter portion of each cooled cookie.

Recipe Source - Pillsbury
My friend Miranda loves this marinade, so I thought we'd give it a try.

2 cups lemon-lime soda
1 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon prepared horseradish
6 (6 ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts


1. In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the soda, soy sauce, oil, garlic powder and horseradish; add chicken. Seal the bag and turn to coat. Refrigerate overnight.
2. Drain and discard marinade. Grill chicken, uncovered, over medium heat for 6-7 minutes on each side or until juices run clear.

Recipe Source - All Recipes

December is a busy month! We have something every night until Christmas break. That's a lot of stuff - all good stuff - but stuff, nonetheless. We had a great trip to Chicago over Thanksgiving break. We took the Amtrak train up and went to see John Williams direct the Chicago Symphony. He featured his music from Harry Potter, and it was simply fabulous. The weather was gorgeous, so we really enjoyed walking around the city. Our hotel was right by Millennium Park.

The only "bad" part of our trip was waiting two and a half hours to go up to the top of the Willis (formerly Sears) Tower. I did manage to make myself stand in the new clear boxes that hang of the side of the building. Huge deal for me - I hate heights!

We enjoyed some great meals, but our most fun food experience was eating chocolate covered fruit on a stick at the German Christmas Village near our hotel. Yum!

This past week I've spent a lot of time preparing for my Polar Express pajama party at school. It will be a lot of fun, but I'm ready to be finished with the planning.

Anyway, here's this week's menu. It is tough planning meals this month since we are gone so much in the evenings and don't have a lot of time to cook. I'm really relying on freezer meals and things I cook ahead of time on the weekends. For more menu ideas, see

Sunday -Spaghetti with meat sauce, Salad, Rolls
Monday - Chicken Alfredo Lasagna Rolls, Green Beans, Salad
Tuesday - Pizza Pockets
Wednesday - Lemon Thyme Chicken, Rice, Brussels Sprouts
Thursday - Chili (from freezer), Peanut Butter Sandwiches
Friday - Turkey Club Pie
Saturday - Eat at school Christmas party
I finally finished the apron for my partner in the Flirty Apron Swap. I think it turned out very cute.

12 oz. grilled chicken breast, diced
12 oz. part skim ricotta cheese
5 oz. chopped frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
4 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
12 lasagna noodles, cooked according to package

8 oz. Light Cream Cheese, softened
1 stick Butter, softened (I often use light margarine)
1 1/2 cup skim milk
1 cup grated Parmesean Cheese
1/2 tsp. Garlic Powder

Grease a 13x9 pan with cooking spray. In a medium sized bowl, combine the chicken, spinach, ricotta and parm cheese. Spread the mixture down the center of each noodle, leaving about an inch and a half at each end. Roll the each noodle and place it in the pan.

For the sauce, melt Cream Cheese, Butter, and Milk together in a saucepan. Add remaining ingredients, Garlic Powder last. Stir with a whisk until all melted together.

Pour the sauce over each noodle. Top with the 4 oz. of shredded mozzarella cheese.

Bake uncovered at 350 for 20 minutes.

We just got in from our trip to Chicago, so I'm just going to post a quick menu. More info and photos from our trip coming soon! You will see that I'm having to scramble a bit for meals since we've been gone and my fridge is empty. For more menu ideas, check

Sunday -French Leek soup at my mother-in-laws on the way home from Chicago
Monday - Lasagna (from the freezer), Salad
Tuesday - leftover lasgana and salad
Wednesday - Turkey and gravy (from freezer), Sausage and Stuffing Criss-cross Pastry (from freezer), Green Beans
Thursday - Chili (from freezer), Peanut Butter Sandwiches
Friday - eat out
Saturday - Feta Stuffed Chicken Breasts, Cheddar Potato Strips, Broccoli

First, I want to thank everyone who shared appetizer ideas with me last week. I can't wait to try them during the holiday season. :) I made a cheesey spinach and bacon dip for my book club, which was pretty good. It's kind of a different twist on traditional rotel dip.

I'm am very much looking forward to this Thanksgiving week. Corey and I only have school two days, and then we head to Eric's parents' house for Thanksgiving. On Friday we will head to Chicago with my parents to go to the Chicago Symphony! John Williams is conducting and will be featuring music from the Harry Potter movies. It should be a great concert. We saw him two years ago on Thanksgiving weekend and just loved it. We take the Amtrak train from St. Louis to Chicago, which is a lot of fun.

Because of our travels, I don't have a very large menu to share this week. I could type up what our housesitter will be eating, but I have a feeling that wouldn't help very many people. ;) So, here's a list of things I would usually make on Thanksgiving if I was cooking at home.

Sausage and Stuffing Criss-Cross Pastry
Hot Rolls
Pumpkin Dessert
Day Before Mashed Potatoes
Cream Cheese Corn

I hope you all have a very happy holiday week! For more menu ideas, go to

Sunday - ate at my mom's
Monday - Chili, Peanut Butter Sandwiches, Peaches
Tuesday - Spaghetti Chili, Salad
Wednesday - housesitter arrives here - eat at Eric's parents' house
Thursday - Thanksgiving dinner in St. Louis
Friday - on the road to Chicago
Saturday - eating Gino's East in Chicago - yum!
Sunday - on the road home
This recipe is also known as Cincinnati Chili or Five-Way Chili. We often make it the same week we make regular chili to get double the use out of our chili recipe.

Chili with beans, heated on the stove or in the microwave(you can always use your favorite canned variety, but this recipe is super simple and fast to make)
Spaghetti noodles, cooked and drained
Shredded cheddar cheese
Chopped onions

On each plate, put a portion of cooked spaghetti and top it with heated chili. Top with shredded cheddar cheese and chopped onion.
My son loves chili, but hates when it has "chunks" in it (a.k.a. tomatoes, onions, etc). He wants it spicy and simple. So, this is the perfect chili for kids who don't like "chunks" in their chili. :) Corey even entered it in a chili cookoff and won first prize!

4 15.5 oz. cans chili beans (do not drain)
1 29 oz. can tomato sauce
1 lb lean ground beef (93/7)
2 T chili powder
2 T cumin
shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream for toppings (optional - not included in nutrition info)

Brown ground beef and drain off fat. In a large stock pot, mix the beans, tomato sauce, cooked ground beef, chili powder, and cumin. Cover and cook on medium heat for 30 minutes. Top with shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream, if desired.

What do you do for dinners when your family is going to be gone or home late every evening this week? Rely on the freezer! Our menu won't be very exciting this week, but it still shows you that menu planning can help save you time and money even if you have an excessively busy schedule.

Last week I didn't post much, but I did want to share a sneak peek of our family photos. One of our former students is now a photographer, and does great work.

This week is full of computer workshops, doctor visits, work travel, book clubs, etc. I promise I will get back to trying new dishes and posting some of my favorites like usual, but this week you get to see yet another example of what we do when I'm desperate.

Also, I'm looking for a new appetizer recipe. I have to bring an appetizer to my ladies' book club meeting, so I was hoping someone might have a fun recipe to share. :) Let me know if you have a great one!

For more menu ideas, go to Have a wonderful week!

Sunday -Chicken Alfredo (Stouffers), Broccoli & Cauliflower, Salad
Monday -Comforting Chicken Noodle Soup (from freezer), Salad
Tuesday - BBQ Pork (from freezer) Baked Potatoes, Green Beans, Peaches
Wednesday -Leftovers
Thursday -Eat at book club
Friday - Homemade Pizza, Salad
Saturday -Sausage Potato Soup, Salad, Garlic Muffins

I have to admit, I'm too pooped to post much tonight. I'm just going to post my menu for now, and I'll add some weekend updates soon (it was a busy one!).  For more menu ideas, see

Sunday - Creamy Chicken Breasts, Rice, Green Beans, Pea Pods
Monday - Chicken and Dumplings, Salad (eMINTS training)
Tuesday - Eat out (band auditions)
Wednesday - Grilled Pork Tenderloin, Day Before Mashed Potatoes, Basil Green Beans, Peaches (phys. therapy)
Thursday - Eat out (academic team contest)
Friday - Spaghetti with Meatballs, Salad (Run to the Lights 5K)
Saturday - Leftovers (District band/math contest)

We had a great week this past week. No one had the flu! :) I made some great snacks for the teachers at my school on Friday. The pizza dip is amazing. If you need an appetizer for a party, give this one a try. Mine is decorated for Halloween, but you could leave the spider web design off the top for other occasions. I also finally got to make the chocolate cream cheese tunnel cake. All I can is that it is to die for!

We got to spend lots of time together as a family this weekend, starting with participating in the Bass Pro 5K on Saturday morning. Corey got 2nd place in his age division, Eric placed 6th in his and got his personal best time, and Toby and I were the first dog/person team to cross the finish line. :)

I received my apron for the Hot Mamas Chocolate Apron swap! It's so cute! It reminds of a prairie skirt I had when I was younger. Thanks so much, Jody, for making me such a beautiful apron!

On Halloween evening, Corey went to a party with some friends and we hung out with some grownup friends while we waited for his party to end. We finally had some time to get the house cleaned, so we feel like we are in pretty good shape for the week. Here's this week's menu. For more menu ideas, go to Enjoy!

Sunday - Beef Burgundy with Biscuits, Green Beans
Monday - Crock Pot Corn, Ham, and Potato Scallop, Salad
Tuesday - Paprika Chicken with Sour Cream Gravy, Rice, Broccoli Salad
Wednesday - Honey Roasted Pork Loin, Mashed Potatoes, Brussels Sprouts, Salad
Thursday - Leftovers
Friday - Homemade Pizza
Saturday - Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole, Green Beans, Salad
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 clove fresh garlic, minced
½ lb diced turkey ham
2 cups cooked shredded chicken breast
2 tablespoons butter
¼ cup flour
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
14 oz can chicken broth
3 cups cooked rice of choice
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella or swiss cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Heat oil into a large 5 qt rimmed skillet over medium heat. Saute onion , about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, ham and chicken. Cook for an additional 5 minutes. Melt butter then stir in flour, salt and pepper until combined. Slowly stir in chicken broth until well combined. Stir in cooked rice then transfer to a 9×13 inch baking dish. Top with cheddar and mozzarella cheeses. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Cover the dish with foil the last 10 minutes for oozing cheese.

6-8 servings

Recipe modified from Picky Palate


3/4 cup thinly sliced onions
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 pound lean beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained (I puree mine because Corey won't eat tomato chunks)
1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/3 cup red wine
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1/4 teaspoon dried basil leaves
1 bay leaf
1 can (10.2 oz) Pillsbury Flaky layers refrigerated original or buttermilk biscuits

1. In a large nonstick skillet, cook onions and garlic; simmer uncovered about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove with slotted spoon. Add beef to skillet; cook about 5 minutes or until browned. Stir in onions and garlic,  tomatoes, mushrooms, wine, oregano, basil and bay leaf. Cover; simmer about 25 minutes or until meat is tender. Remove bay leaf.

2. Heat oven to 375°F. Separate dough into 10 biscuits; cut each into quarters. Pour hot meat mixture into ungreased 2-quart casserole. Arrange dough wedges, point-side-down, on top of hot meat mixture.

3. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until biscuits are golden brown.

Makes 6 servings.

Recipe adapted from Pillsbury

This weekend I decided to cook a 23 pound turkey that I've had in the freezer for a while. I knew that I had evening activities every night this week and would have to rely on precooked items, so I figured turkey would fit the bill. We had a traditional turkey dinner today, which was wonderful! I also made turkey soup and turkey club pie. In addition to that, I have about 4 bags of cooked turkey ready to go in the freezer for future dinners. It's amazing how you can make one turkey stretch so far!

My poor son caught the flu and missed school all week. He also missed his last band competition, which was very sad. Luckily, his fever is finally down today, so life should return to normal. He even helped me with our annual apple pie baking marathon. Our neighbors were very pleased to see us at their doors today. :)

I also managed to do a little fall decorating around the house.

Here's this week's turkey-themed menu. For more menu ideas, go to Have a great week, and enjoy!

Monday - Turkey Club Pie, Salad, Peaches
Tuesday - Comforting Turkey Soup, Salad, Garlic Muffins
Wednesday - leftovers
Thursday - Eat out (last band performance at football game)
Friday - Pepperoni Sticks, Salad
Saturday - Eat at Halloween party
This is a fun one for Halloween parties.

1 pkg. (8 oz.) reduced fat or fat free cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup Part-Skim Mozzarella Cheese
1/4 cup chopped turkey pepperoni
1/4 cup Alfredo sauce, divided
3/4 cup spaghetti sauce
1 pitted black olive, cut lengthwise in half
Ritz Crackers


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

MIX first 3 ingredients; stir in 2 Tbsp. Alfredo sauce. Spread onto bottom of 9-inch pie plate. Top with spaghetti sauce.

SPOON remaining Alfredo sauce into resealable plastic bag. Cut small corner off bottom; drizzle in spiral design over spaghetti sauce. Pull toothpick through sauce to resemble spider web.

BAKE 20 min. Add 1 olive half for the spider's body. Cut remaining olive half for the spider's legs. Serve with crackers.

Recipe Source - Ritz Crackers
Note: If you make this with packaged pizza crust mix, you will need to use two packages (I've used just the cheap Wal Mart brand before).


1 batch of pizza dough (you can use this recipe or just use a packaged mix)
8 mozzarella string cheese sticks (2% milk kind), cut in half
32 slices turkey pepperoni
2 T. butter or margarine, melted
2 t parmesan cheese
1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 t Italian seasoning
Pizza sauce (for dipping)


1. Make pizza dough according to recipe directions (or package directions if you are using a mix).

2. On a floured surface, roll dough into a rectangle. Cut into 16 squares. At the edge of each square, place one piece of mozzarella and two pieces of pepperoni. Roll up and tuck in sides. Be sure to seal well to cut down on cheese melting out during the baking process. Place on a baking sheet. Repeat until done.

3. Brush melted butter or margarine over each mini bread stick. Combine the parmesan cheese, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning in a small bowl and sprinkle on top. Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. Serve with warm pizza sauce for dipping.

Recipe modified from Cooking During Stolen Moments

The fall activities continue, so this week I'm relying on lots of casseroles to get us through the week. I have computer training, the boy has the usual band and cross country stuff, and we have family pictures this week. We have the last of the band competitions this weekend, so hopefully things will start to slow down a bit. Here's the menu for the week. For more menu ideas, see Sorry for the short post, but I'm going to try to hit the sack early tonight. ;) Have a great week!

Sunday - Pork Chop Potato Casserole, Basil Green Beans
Monday - Tuna Noodle Casserole, Salad
Tuesday - Lasagna (from freezer), Salad
Wednesday - Leftovers (we have family photos this evening if it doesn't rain)
Thursday - Turkey Club Pie, Salad, Peaches
Friday - Chicken Alfredo (yes, I'm using a frozen one from Stouffers), Broccoli, Salad
Saturday - Eat out (band competition)

Saturday morning my dogs started barking in the yard. I just assumed they were barking at the coyotes like usual, but when I looked out the back, here's what I saw!

How cool is that? A balloon in our backyard! It was looking for a place to land, and ended up landing in our neighbor's yard. You just never know what you're going to see out our back window. :) I love living in a rural area.

Later that day we went to Corey's marching band contest. We only have two more weeks to go until marching season is pretty much over (other than a couple of parades). His last cross country meet is also this week. So, hopefully more sleep will soon be in our future. Here's a picture of him marching and playing his mellophone. Pretty handsome! ;)

Our meals were pretty good this week. The only new recipe was the homemade beefaroni, which was easy to make and tasted pretty good. It was a good way for me to use up some partial boxes of misc. noodles. We have lots of activities going on this week, so I'm relying on some easy staples. The weather has also gotten a bit cooler, so you will see stew and chili on the menu this week. :) For more menu ideas, go to Enjoy!

Sunday - Beef Stew
Monday - Bourbon Chicken, Rice, Broccoli, Salad
Tuesday - Chili & Peanut Butter Sandwiches, Salad
Wednesday - Crockpot Golden Mushroom Pork Chops, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans
Thursday - Leftovers
Friday - Homemade Pizza, Salad
Saturday - Eat out (band competition)
When my husband I got married, we both had different ideas about what made beef stew. My mother made a tomato sauce-based stew, and his mother made a gravy-based stew. Neither person had a recipe, so I had to come up with my own that we would both like. We are pretty simple eaters, so you won't see anything too exciting here, but this is a really great stew that doesn't take all day to make. It's really wonderful served in a bread bowl on cold days. :)


1 pound beef stew meat, cubed
6 cups water
1/4 t marjoram
1/4 t thyme
1/4 t black pepper
2 bay leaves
6 yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces (feel free to use more carrots if you like them)
1 bag green beans (or 1 can)
1/3 cup flour
1 cup water
salt and pepper


Brown the stew meat in a large stock pot. Add the 6 cups of water, marjoram, thyme, pepper, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil. Turn heat down to medium and add the carrots and potatoes. Cover pot and heat until vegetables are cooked through (20-30 minutes). Whisk together the flour and water and add to pot to thicken the gravy. Add in the green beans and cook until heated through. Add additional salt and pepper to taste.

Fall is definitely arriving in the Ozarks! The leaves are starting to change color and cooler temperatures are upon us (it didn't even make it to 60 degrees today!). We have officially entered fall contest season for school activities as well. Corey had his first math contest and his first high school marching band contest this weekend. He also had a cross country meet, but couldn't be a three places at once.

Cooking my meals on Sunday saved me again last week. It was so nice to come home each evening knowing that all my meals were cooked and we just had to heat them up. All three new recipes from last week were outstanding! If you are looking for a new soup to try, be sure to check out the sausage potato soup. It was delicious! The turkey club pie and the meatball pops were also very well received by my family and will make it into the regular rotation. I also made some very yummy cookies and cream pudding.

Here is the menu for this week. The homemade beefaroni is the only new recipe, so I will post pictures later in the week. I'm also going to make a new cake that my mom made for me a couple of weeks ago. This chocolate cream cheese tunnel cake is amazing! It reminds me a lot of black bottom cupcakes. For more menu ideas, go to Have a great week, and enjoy the menu!

Sunday - Lemon Thyme Chicken, Rice, Spinach
Monday - Homemade Beefaroni, Green Beans, Salad, Applesauce
Tuesday - Roasted Turkey Breast with Gravy (Jenni-O makes one you take right from the freezer and cook in the oven), Day Before Mashed Potatoes, Corn, Salad
Wednesday - Leftovers
Thursday - Mexican Gumbo, Salad
Friday - Out to eat (football game)
Saturday - Out to eat (band contest)

2 pkg. (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
2 tsp. vanilla, divided
1 pkg. (2-layer size) chocolate cake mix

1 cup powdered sugar
2 oz. (1/4 of 8-oz. pkg.) cream cheese, softened
2 Tbsp. milk

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 12-cup fluted tube pan or 10-inch tube pan. Beat 2 pkg. cream cheese, the granulated sugar, egg and 1 tsp. of the vanilla in medium bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended; set aside.

Prepare cake batter as directed on pkg.; pour half of the batter into prepared pan. Spoon cream cheese mixture in ring around center of cake batter; cover with remaining cake batter.

Bake 45 min. or until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack 30 min. Loosen cake from side of pan; invert onto serving platter. Cool completely.

Beat remaining 1 tsp. vanilla, the powdered sugar, 2 oz. cream cheese and the milk with wire whisk until well blended. Drizzle over cake. Let stand until set.

To make cupcakes instead, line 24 medium muffin cups with paper liners. Prepare cake batter and cream cheese mixture as directed. Spoon 1/4 cup of the batter into each cup; top with 1 Tbsp. of the cream cheese mixture and an additional 1/4 cup cake batter. Bake 20 to 22 min. or until wooden toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool 10 min. Remove from pans. Makes 24 servings, 1 cupcake each.

Recipe Source - Kraft
I had a lot of leftover pasta, so I used it to make this recipe instead of using noodles that look like beefaroni noodles. This really does taste very similar to the canned beefaroni. :)

1 lb. ground beef
2 14.5 oz cans tomato sauce
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 c. water
1 T. sugar
1 t. each garlic powder, salt and Italian seasoning
1/4 t. black pepper
1 lb. cooked pasta (Barilla piccolini ziti is closest in shape to traditional beefaroni noodles - I used Ronzoni Smart Taste elbows)

1. Brown ground beef in a sauce pan and drain. Stir in remaining ingredients, except the pasta. Simmer for about 10 minutes, to let the flavors combine.
2. Stir in the pasta until coated.

Recipe Source - Cooking During Stolen Moments

I was very thankful that I made all of my meals ahead of time last week. Our schedule was so busy that if I hadn't, we would have been eating out - yuck! The only meal I didn't get to was Saturday's sausage and cheese turnovers. We ended up needing to finish off the leftovers from other meals. I'll have to try them again on a week when we aren't so busy. The hits of the week were the Pepper Jack Mac Cups (next time I'll just make it as a casserole - the "cups" were kind of a pain, even if they were cute) and the BBQ Beef and Bean Cornbread Casserole.

Fall is simply busy at our house with cross country and band. So, I went ahead and did all of my cooking for the week ahead of time again. I feel so much relief when I spend a couple of hours on Sunday getting everything prepared for the week. Now I know that my family will eat pretty well. We only have a couple of days where we just won't be around to eat dinner at home. I have a couple of great new recipes this week as well as some well-loved standards. The boys are pretty happy with the menu. :) For more menu ideas, see Enjoy!

Sunday - Roast Beef and Gravy on Baked Potatoes, Salad
Monday - Sausage Potato Soup, Salad
Tuesday - Eat out (cross country meet and band performance on the same night!)
Wednesday - Turkey Club Pie, Basil Green Beans, Peaches
Thursday - Spaghetti with Meatballs, Salad
Friday - Meatball Pops, Broccoli, Salad
Saturday - Eat Out (math contest and band contest)

This weekend Eric and I had some free time together while we were waiting for Corey to finish math practice at MSU. We decided to head to downtown Springfield for lunch, and then headed out to see what was new in the downtown area. My love for everything chocolate quickly brought us to a chocolate factory! Can you believe it? A chocolate factory right in downtown Springfield! If you haven't visited Askinosie Chocolate on Commercial Street, pop in sometime. They have fabulous dark chocolate, and they host tours of the factory for the public on Tuesday afternoons. They will also do tours at other times if you call ahead to make arrangements. For all of my boy scout and girl scout leader friends, you need to do this with your kids. Check out more info at their website at


8 Oreo Cookies, divided
1 pkg. (3.4 oz.) sugar free vanilla flavor instant pudding
2 cups cold skim milk
3/4 cup thawed fat free Cool Whip whipped topping, divided

Break 1 cookie into 4 pieces; reserve for garnish. Crush remaining cookies.
Beat pudding mix and milk with whisk 2 min. Stir in crushed cookies and 1/2 cup Cool Whip.
Spoon into 4 dessert dishes; top with remaining cool whip and reserved cookie pieces.

Recipe Source - Kraft
These are simple to make and taste great. I did not put the breadcrumbs and butter on top, and they still looked good and tasted wonderful. I made a double batch and froze the second part of them.

1 can (10.2 oz) Pillsbury® Grands!® refrigerated buttermilk biscuits
1/3 cup shredded Monterey Jack or Cheddar cheese
10 refrigerated or frozen cooked beef meatballs, thawed
1/4 cup butter, melted
2/3 cup finely crushed seasoned croutons
10 large appetizer picks or lollipop sticks, if desired
1 1/2 cups tomato pasta sauce, heated

1. Heat oven to 375°F. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper, or spray with no-stick cooking spray. Separate dough into 5 biscuits. Split each biscuit to make 10 rounds. Press out each biscuit half to form 3-inch round.

2. Sprinkle each biscuit round with cheese to within 1/2 inch of edge. Top each with meatball. Bring up sides of dough over meatball; pinch edges to seal. Brush rounded tops and sides of dough with butter; coat with croutons. Place, seam side down, on cookie sheet.

3. Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.

4. Place appetizer pick in each biscuit-wrapped meatball to form meatball pop. Serve with warm pasta sauce for dipping.

Recipe Source - Pillsubry

1 1/2 c. cut up cooked turkey
8 slices crispy, crumbled, cooked turkey bacon
1 c. cheddar cheese
1/2 c. reduced fat Bisquick
1 c. skim milk
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 400. Combine turkey, bacon and cheese in a pie plate. Combine Bisquick, milk and eggs; pour on top of other ingredients already in pie plate. Bake 30-35 minutes, I like to top mine with sliced tomato and sliced red onion for the last 15 minutes of the bake time.

Recipe Source - A Couch with a View
This is one of my family's favorite soups. It is hearty and very tasty. I chop the carrot and celery very fine so that even my non-veggie eating son enjoys this one.

1 14 oz package Butterball Smoked Turkey Sausage
6 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, cubed with skin on
1 cup frozen corn
2 cups chicken broth
1 celery rib, sliced
1/4 cup sliced carrot
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1-1/2 cups milk
5 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon minced fresh parsley
In a large saucepan, brown sausage; drain. Set sausage aside. In the same pan,
combine the potatoes, corn, broth, celery, carrot and seasonings. Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
Add the milk, cheese, parsley and sausage. Cook and stir over low heat until
cheese is melted and soup is heated through. Makes 10 1 cup servings.

Recipe adapted from Taste of Home