What a wonderful week we had this week! My library conference was great and both of my presentations went extremely well. To top it off, I got to meet Rick Riordan, author of the Percy Jackson series, and Corey got to join me! What's even better is that Rick blogged about my blog! How cool is that! I was in library lady heaven. :)

This weekend, Corey went to state math contest and won 5th place. Totally awesome!!!! Then, we got to go hiking at Hawksbill Crag in Arkansas and saw a HUGE rattlesnake on the trail. Scary, but completely COOL! Unfortunately, we forgot the stupid camera. What's up with that? We always bring our camera. Figures. ;)

Corey's confirmation is this week, so we are very excited about that. We have a busy week with school and work activities, and Eric's birthday is Wednesday. Say a little prayer for us that we stay sane this week. :)

So, with all of that said, here is our menu for the week. Enjoy! For more menu ideas, go to orgjunkie.com.

Sunday - Mexican Gumbo, Salad
Monday - Crockpot Golden Mushroom Pork Chops, Day Before Mashed Potatoes, Broccoli with Cheese Sauce
Tuesday - Creamy Chicken Breasts, Rice, Brussels Sprouts, Salad
Wednesday - Steak, Cheddar Potato Strips, Green Beans Almondine, Salad (Eric's B-day request)
Thursday - Beef Enchiladas, Peaches, Salad
Friday - Eat at confirmation dinner
Saturday - Beef Stroganoff, Egg Noodles, Green Beans, Salad
This recipe is awesome! It is a great way to use up leftover mashed potatoes. It's very filling and makes a ton, so it was great for leftovers for our family this week.

1 pound lean ground beef
1/2 onion, chopped
1 can black beans, drained
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can corn (sodium free)
1 packet low sodium taco seasoning
1 tsp chili powder
1 garlic clove, minced
4 cups mashed potatoes
1 cup grated cheddar cheese (2% milk kind)

Brown ground beef with onion; add all ingredients except potatoes and cheese. Simmer for 2-3 minutes. Pour into a 9x13” pan. Top with 1/2 cup cheese. Spread mashed potatoes over the cheese and meat mixture. Top with remaining cheese. Bake at 350 for about 25-30 minutes or till hot and bubbly.

-Serves 8
These remind me of an easy version of au gratin potatoes, but without all of the slicing and layering. I used my French fry cutter to cut the strips, which makes it fast and easy.

3 yukon gold potatoes (skin on), cut in 1/2" strips
1/2 cup milk
1 Tbsp melted butter
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup of grated 2% reduced fat cheddar cheese

Arrange potatoes in a glass baking dish. Mix milk and butter and pour over the top. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Cover and bake at 425 for 30 minutes or till milk is absorbed and potatoes are tender. Sprinkle with cheese and bake, uncovered, for about 5 minutes or till cheese melts.

Makes 3 servings

Recipe Source - Kara's Kitchen Creations
This is an amazing beef stroganoff recipe. It tastes wonderful and makes a huge batch. Serve it over rice or egg noodles.

2 pounds steak or beef tenderloin
1 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 cup minced onion
¼ cup butter (I only use a tablespoon)
2 (10 ½ oz.) cans beef stock (low sodium)
¼ cup catsup
2 small cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup flour
2 cups dairy sour cream (fat free)
Cooked rice or egg noodles (I like No Yolks brand)


1. Cut meat into bite-sized pieces.
2. In skillet, cook and stir mushrooms and onion in butter until onion is tender; remove mushrooms and onion.
3. In the same skillet, brown meat lightly on both sides.
4. Set aside ¾ cup beef stock; add remaining stock, catsup, and garlic to skillet; stir to mix with meat.
5. Cover and simmer 15 minutes.
6. Blend reserved stock and flour; stir into meat mixture.
7. Add mushrooms and onion.
8. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly; boil 1 minute.
9. Stir in sour cream; heat to serving temperature.

Serve over rice.

Servings: 6

Greetings from the Missouri Association of School Librarians Conference! I've had one of those absolutely crazy weeks this week. In addition to my normal teaching schedule, I substituted for one of my good friends for her college ed tech class, presented at our local MOPS meeting on how I use my computer as a mom, and I have two presentations at the library conference. I'm wiped out!! :) If you'd like to take a peek at my presentations I did this week, here are the websites:
I've been up late too many nights and need to head to bed, so I'll have to update recipes and share more info about the week later. Here's this week's menu. For more ideas see orgjunkie.com.
Sunday - Meatball sandwiches (from freezer), Salad, Peaches
Monday - Eat at conference banquet (we get to see Rick Riordan - woo hoo!)
Tuesday - Spicy Shepherds Pie, Salad
Wednesday - Cheeseburger Pasta, Applesauce, Salad
Thursday - Leftovers
Friday - Cilantro Lime Grilled Chicken, Basil Green Beans, Salad, Fruit
Saturday - Backpacking! Eat on the trail!

Well, I didn't do the best job of sticking to the menu this week. Time got away from me and I didn't get a chance to make the Cheesy Hash Brown Chili or the Soda Can Chicken, so they will be back on for this week. The hit of the week was the Crockpot Salsa Chicken. It was very good and very easy. We did have a nice Easter weekend. We went to the Rock and Worship Roadshow and got to see one of Corey's groups - Hawk Nelson. He even got their autographs. That was one happy boy. :) This week we have to go go a band concert and I have to present a workshop for our local MOPS group on how I use my computer as a mom. Should be fun. Here's this week's menu. For more menu ideas, go to orgjunkie.com. Have a great week!
Sunday - ate at my mom's for Easter
Monday - eat out (band concert)
Tuesday - Cheesy Hash Brown Chili (new), Salad
Wednesday - BBQ Pork Sandwiches (from freezer), Corn, Pork & Beans
Thursday - Potato Soup (recipe coming as soon as I pick which one to make), Salad
Friday - Homemade Pizza, Salad
Saturday - Soda Can Roasted Chicken (new), Roasted Potatoes with Rosemary (new), Asparagus
I finally got my Hot Mamas Fiesta Apron Swap package in the mail yesterday (which was the deadline - eek!). I absolutely love this apron, so much so that I had to duplicate it for myself. :) My partner's favorite color is pink, as is mine, so I really had fun making this for her. This particular pattern reminded me of the ruffles on a flamenco skirt, so I think it's perfect for a fiesta! I included some other fiesta goodies as well. She should get the package on Wednesday. Hope she likes it! Here are some pics:

This week was kind of a pain - literally. I ended up throwing out my back and had to stay home from school for two days. I don't have time to waste laying around waiting for my stupid back to heal. Luckily, I am back up and moving around. I just can't bend very well. This weekend was a much better story. Corey went to the MCTM regional math contest, placed first, and now gets to go to state in two weeks. He also passed his board of review Monday night and is officially an Eagle Scout! I am a very proud mom. :)
On to the food stuff. I made a strawberry cake that has an interesting story to go with it. Be sure to read the recipe post for the details. ;) I also made some brownies that were pretty close to tasting like boxed brownies, which are my favorite. Homemade ones usually turn out too cakey and don't have the nice crackly top that boxed ones have. These are worth making. I'm trying quite a few new recipes this week, so be sure to check back occasionally for the pictures. Here's this week's menu. For other menu ideas, go to orgjunkie.com.
Sunday - Cheesy Hash Brown Chili (new), Salad
Monday - Chicken Mozzarella (new), Garlic Muffins, Salad
Tuesday - Crockpot Salsa Chicken (new), Rice, Green Beans, Salad
Wednesday - Eat at Teacher Appreciation Banquet
Thursday - Grilled Stuffed Hot Dogs, Baked Beans, Fruit
Friday - Soda Can Roasted Chicken (new), Roasted Potatoes with Rosemary (new), Asparagus
Saturday - Eat out – (we will be waiting in line to get in to the Hawk Nelson and Jeremy Camp concert!)

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups Dutch-process cocoa (regular cocoa is fine)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder, optional (I don't use this - coffee - YUCK)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9" x 13" pan. In a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl, or in a saucepan set over low heat, melt the butter, then add the sugar and stir to combine. Return the mixture to the heat (or microwave) briefly, just until it's hot (about 110°F to 120°F), but not bubbling; it'll become shiny looking as you stir it. Heating this mixture a second time will dissolve more of the sugar, which will yield a shiny top crust on your brownies.

While the sugar heats a second time, crack the 4 eggs into a bowl, and beat them with the cocoa, salt, baking powder, espresso powder, and vanilla till smooth. Add the hot butter/sugar mixture, stirring until smooth.

Add the flour and chips, again stirring until smooth. Note: If you want the chips to remain intact in the baked brownies, rather than melting in, let the batter cool in the bowl for about 20 minutes before stirring in the chips.

Spoon the batter into a lightly greased 9" x 13" pan. Bake the brownies for about 30 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, or with just a few moist crumbs clinging to it. The brownies should feel set on the edges, and the center should look very moist, but not uncooked. Remove them from the oven and cool on a rack before cutting and serving.

Recipe Source - King Arthur Flour

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 pounds Yukon gold or red potatoes, cut in fourths

1. Heat oven to 425ºF. Coat 15x10-inch baking sheet with no-stick spray.
2. Whisk together oil, rosemary, garlic powder, salt and pepper in large bowl. Add potatoes. Toss well until coated. Spread evenly in prepared pan.
3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, stirring occasionally until potatoes are fork-tender and golden brown.
This chicken is incredibly moist and tasty.

1 (3-lb.) whole chicken
1/8 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup liquid steak seasoning/marinade (I used A-1 Chicago Style Marinade)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon pepper
1 can soda (I used ginger ale)

1. Remove the giblets, etc. from the chicken if it has them. Rinse chicken with cold water; pat dry and place chicken in a large zip-top plastic freezer bag.
2. Whisk together oil, marinade, rosemary, garlic and pepper. Pour evenly over chicken. Seal bag, and refrigerate, turning occasionally, for 8 hours. Remove chicken from marinade, discarding marinade.
3. Using a can opener, carefully remove lids from the soda can. Remove about one-fourth soda from each can, leaving remaining soda in can. Place can in a lightly greased large roasting pan. Place chicken upright onto a ginger ale can, fitting can into cavity. Pull legs forward to form a tripod of sorts, allowing chicken to stand upright.
4. Bake, uncovered, at 325° for 1 hour and 40 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted
into thigh registers 170° and chicken is golden brown. Let stand 10 minutes; carefully
remove cans before serving.
The ingredients in this one might sound like a strange combination, but it really does taste good. :)

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup fresh salsa
1 package taco seasoning
1 can reduced fat cream of mushroom soup (condensed) or cream of chicken soup (I used chicken)
1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream

Add chicken to slow cooker. Sprinkle taco seasoning over chicken. Mix salsa and soup; pour over chicken. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. Shred chicken with a fork. Stir in sour cream until heated, then serve over rice or tortillas.

Recipe Source - Sing for Your Supper
Super easy, really fast, and it tastes great!

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts halves (about 1 pound)
1 can (10 3/4 ounces) Campbell's® Healthy Request® Condensed
Tomato Soup
1/2 tsp. dried Italian seasoning OR dried oregano leaves, crushed
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Place the chicken in an 11 x 8-inch (2-quart) shallow baking dish. Stir the soup, Italian seasoning and garlic powder in a small bowl. Spoon the soup mixture over the chicken. Bake at 400°F. for 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Sprinkle the cheese over the chicken. Let stand for 5 minutes or until the cheese melts.

Recipe Source - Campbells
My mom sent me this one that she got from Rachel Ray.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 cup tomato paste (I used a small can of tomato sauce)
1 pound ground beef
Salt and pepper
One 15-ounce can red kidney beans, rinsed (I used chili beans)
One 15-ounce can diced tomatoes (I blended them as the boy won't eat "chunks")
One 1-pound bag frozen shredded hash brown
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (2% milk kind)


In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, chili powder and cumin and cook, stirring, until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste. Add the beef and cook, breaking up the meat, for 5 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Add the beans and the tomatoes with their juice and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, partially cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20minutes. Transfer to an 8-by-11-inch baking dish.

Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 400°. In a large bowl, combine the
potatoes and cheese. Scatter the potato mixture over the chili. Place the baking dish on a baking sheet and bake until the potatoes are cooked through and the chili is bubbling, about 35 minutes.

A couple of weeks ago, my church book club met at a local tea room called Lola's. The dessert specialty there is strawberry cake, and ever since I ate a piece I have been craving it. I decided today to try to recreate it at home. I thought I had it just about perfect, three tiers and all, until I was doing my final swipe of frosting on the sides to make it look pretty, and I dropped the whole darn thing onto the floor right in front of my black lab. I was pretty devastated, but my hubby came to my rescue. Luckily, Nimbus is very well trained and didn't make a move toward the cake. Eric was able to scoop up the two layers that didn't hit the floor and put them on a cake plate. I had enough frosting left to refrost what was originally the bottom layer of the cake (now the top), and I now have a two-layer strawberry cake. Even though it's not quite the visual picture I had hoped for and it's lacking a layer, it tastes great - just like Lola's!

This was my first time to make a homemade buttercream frosting, and if you decide to make this recipe, don't use a cup of strawberries. It makes the frosting too runny. I used 2 bags of powdered sugar trying to make the frosting the right consistency, and it still was too runny. I would only use a 1/2 cup next time. Luckily, it still tastes fabulous.

Cake Ingredients:
1 (18.25-ounce) package white cake mix
1 (3-ounce) package strawberry gelatin
4 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh strawberries
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup milk

Cake Directions:
Beat the cake mix and next 7 ingredients at low speed with an electric mixer 1 minute. Scrape
down the sides, and beat at medium speed 2 more minutes, stopping to scrape down sides, if
needed. (Strawberries should be well blended into batter.)
Pour batter into 3 greased and floured 9-inch cakepans.
Bake at 350° for 23 minutes or until cakes spring back when lightly pressed with a finger.

Cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove from pans; cool completely on wire racks.
Spread Strawberry Buttercream Frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake. Serve immediately, or chill up to 1 week.

Strawberry Buttercream Frosting
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter
8 to 10 cups confectioners’ sugar
3/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup fresh strawberries (I would only use 1/2 cup - 1 cup makes it too runny)

Frosting Directions:
Finely chop the strawberries. Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla. On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3-5 minutes. Add the strawberries. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes), until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency. Icing can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.