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Showing posts from May, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - It's Grilling Week!

We had a fabulous weekend camping at Big Spring in Van Buren, MO. It is my favorite camping spot in the whole state. The weather was perfect - highs of 80 and lows in the mid 50s. I couldn't have asked for better. We got to hike, float, and eat lots of great camping food. Life is good when you camp. :) Even though school is officially out, I actually start my round of summer eMINTS training this week and Corey starts cross country practice, so we will still be very busy with school stuff. Because the weather is going to be nice and warm, and I'm going to be a tad busy, I needed easy dinners this week. So, this week is going to be grilling week. We grill a lot in the summer anyway, but this week it's going to be an everyday occurance. I needed to use the meat I have in my freezer as I didn't have time to make a big grocery store run. The good thing is that grilling is fast, easy, tastes great, and is pretty healthy. Here's this week's menu. Lots of the recipes a…

Easy Cupcake Bites

I think I like these more than the pops. They look really impressive. Just like the Cupcake Pops recipe, be sure to go to the Bakerella site to see pictures on how to make these.

1 box cake mix (cook as directed on box for 13 X 9 cake)
1 can cream cheese frosting (or vanilla) (16 oz.)
1 package chocolate bark (or candy melts for cupcake bottom)
Colored Candy Melts (for cupcake top)
Candy Cup Mold (looks like a peanut butter cup mold)
Sprinkles and M&Ms for decoration

1. After cake is cooked and cooled completely, crumble into large bowl. (The texture should be fine/fluffy)
2. Using the back of a large spoon, mix thoroughly with 1 can cream cheese frosting. (It may be easier to use fingers to mix together, but be warned it will get messy.)
3. Roll mixture into quarter size balls (make sure they are smaller in diameter than that of your candy mold) and lay on wax paper covered cookie sheet.
4. Chill in the freezer for a few minutes, until they are slightly firm, not froz…

Cupcake Pops

These are simply the cutest treats! They aren't really hard to make, but they do take some time. It's a great Saturday project. :) If you decide to make these, be sure to go to the Bakerella site. She has pictures and a video that will really be helpful. I posted the recipe here more for myself as a backup and a reminder. I think the cupcake bites are even easier to make than the pops, and they still look very impressive and taste great. (My personal notes on this project are in italics.)

Ingredients and Supplies
1 13X9 baked cake (from a box cake mix or from scratch … any flavor)
1 can cream cheese frosting (or about 2 cups equivalent from scratch) - I used vanilla frosting and they were still good
1 flower shaped cookie cutter (1.25" wide X .75" tall)
1 package chocolate bark
1 package pink candy melts or white chocolate bark
bowls for dipping
wax paper
aluminum foil
lollipop sticks
sprinkles, m&ms or something similar for top of cupcake
small plastic treat bags and ribbon…

Grilled Honey Mustard Pork Chops

3 T honey
2 t Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon leaves or 1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon leaves
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 dash of onion powder
3 4 oz lean boneless pork chops
1. Heat coals or gas grill for direct heat. Mix all ingredients except pork in small bowl.
2. Cover and grill pork 4 to 5 inches from medium heat 10 to 12 minutes, brushing occasionally with honey mixture and turning once, until pork is slightly pink in center. Discard any remaining honey mixture.

Serves 3

Recipe adapted from Betty Crocker

Marinated and Roasted Vidalia Onion Rings with Parmesan

4 medium-sized Vidalia onions or other types of sweet onions
2 T balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp. seasoned salt
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 cup olive oil
1-2 T freshly grated Parmesan cheese
ground black pepper to taste

Peel onions, cut in to slices about 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) thick, and separate into rings. Put onion rings into a large Ziploc bag.
In a small bowl, stir together balsamic vinegar, seasoned salt, and dried thyme. Whisk in olive oil. Pour marinade into plastic bag and let onions marinate in the refrigerator 4 hours or longer, turning a few times if you're home.

Preheat oven to 400 F/200 C. While oven preheats, drain onions in a colander placed in the sink. Spray non-stick baking sheet with olive oil or non-stick spray. Arrange onions on baking sheet, putting them in a single layer as much as you can.

Roast onions 30-40 minutes, turning about every 10 minutes. Onions are done when they are nicely browned, especially on the edges. Remove onions to serving dish, sprinkle…

Chili Ranch Grilled Pork

These are incredibly tasty and easy to make.

3 boneless pork loin chops, 3/4 inch thick (4 oz each)
2 tablespoons Hidden Valley Ranch Ligh dressing

1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1. Heat gas or charcoal grill. Place pork chops in shallow dish. Brush dressing over both sides of pork chops. Cover and refrigerate 15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in small bowl, mix remaining ingredients.
3. Sprinkle half of seasoning mixture over one side of pork chops. Place pork on grill, seasoned side down. Sprinkle remaining seasoning mixture over pork. Cover and grill over medium heat 8 to 10 minutes, turning once, until pork is no longer pink and meat thermometer inserted in center reads 160°F.

Recipe Source – Betty Crocker

Menu Plan Monday

What a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend! I actually was able to turn this into a 5-day weekend for myself. I have never taken my personal days at school, and because my summer is going to be very minimal this year due to computer trainings and my library extended contract (I will end up with about a week and a half off), I decided to use them this year. I took off Thursday and Friday last week, which was nice because I got to go to Corey's honors assembly at the high school. He got the geometry award - as an 8th grader! Pretty cool stuff! We also refinanced our house and had our closing (way to go budget-conscious hubby!), so this was a great time for me to take those extra days off. I did get a little time for me on Friday and went to the mall all by myself to look for girl clothes and I went to the fabric store. :)

We were very productive this weekend. We got all of our errands done on Friday evening, we replanted the garden (I think we are jinxed on actually growing stuff), and we…

7-Up Bundt Cake

1 box lemon cake mix
1 box 3.4 ounce box instant lemon flavored pudding mix
1 1/2 cups 7-up
4 eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients until smooth. Pour into greased and floured 10 inch fluted cake pan and bake at 325 degrees for about 45 to 50 minutes or until set. Let cool and remove from pan and place on a wire rack. Drizzle with lemon icing. (confectioner’s sugar and lemon juice mixed until smooth)

Recipe Source - Stephanie's Kitchen

Pineapple Cream Muffins

Makes 15 muffins.

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 1/2 ounces instant vanilla pudding (I use sugar free)
2/3 cups brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 cup sour cream (I use fat free)
1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple, with juice
1/2 cup oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, pudding mix, and stir in brown sugar.

In a separate bowl, combine the egg and sour cream. Fold in the pineapple and oil. Add the egg-pineapple mixture to the flour mixture, stirring until moistened. Batter will be thick.

Bake for 15 minutes.

Mom's Lasagna

I know everyone has their favorite lasagna recipe and that you probably don't need me to post another one, but this is the one I use and like, so I'm putting it here for me. :) It's simple and kid friendly because it doesn't have "chunks" as my son would say or "weird green stuff".

1 pound lean ground beef
2 T parsley
2 6 oz cans tomato paste
1 clove minced garlic
1 T basil
2 16 oz. cans tomato sauce
10 ounces lasagna noodles
3 cups cottage cheese
2 eggs, beaten
1 t salt
½ t pepper
2 T parsley
½ c parmesan cheese
1 pound mozzarella cheese, sliced

Brown meat, add next 5 ingredients and simmer until sauce is thick. Cook noodles according to package directions and rinse in cold water. Mix cottage cheese with next 5 ingredients (I usually mix this in a blender so it's smooth). Place ½ noodles in baking pan, layer ½ cottage cheese mixture, place a layer of mozzarella, then a layer of sauce. Repeat layers. Bake at 375 degrees for…

Cereal Cookies

You can make these with either frosted flakes or rice crispies. When I make them with frosted flakes, I don't do the chocolate layer on top.

(Sorry for the bad photo - my camera is broken and I had to take this with my hubby's iPhone)

1 cup sugar
1 cup corn syrup
1 cup creamy peanut butter
4-6 cups cereal (rice crispies or corn flakes)
½ bag butterscotch chips
½ bag semi-sweet chocolate chips


1.In small sauce pan, heat sugar and corn syrup until mixture comes to a boil.
2.Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup of peanut butter until melted.
3.In large mixing bowl, combine heated mixture and 4-6 cups rice crispies or corn flakes.
4.Press into 9x13 pan (spray with no-stick spray)
5.Melt ½ bag of butterscotch chips and ½ bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips. Pour over bars.

Good for you Creamy Tomato Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 (14 ounce) cans Italian style diced tomatoes, undrained
2 cups chicken broth or stock
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon balsamic or red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
3/4 cup evaporated skim milk, or 4 ounces 1/3 less fat cream cheese
chopped fresh basil or parsley for serving

In a large pot, heat oil over medium high heat. Add onion and carrots and saute for five minutes. Stir in garlic and saute an additional minute. Add tomatoes, broth, red pepper flakes, vinegar, and honey. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat to medium and simmer for 20 minutes, or until all vegetables are tender. For a creamy soup, transfer to blender and blend, or use an immersion blender directly in the pot. (Immersion blenders are a must have for soup lovers!) Soup can be made up to 2 days ahead of time to this point. Just before serving, add evaporated skim milk (…

Good Morning Muffins

(Sorry for the bad photo - my camera is broken and I had to take this with my hubby's iPhone)

Makes 18 muffins (I actually got 24 out of the recipe)

4 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 cup shortening (can use 1/4 cup shortening with 1/4 cup butter)
2 cups orange marmalade
1 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs, beaten

3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon melted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
wheat germ (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Sift together flour, sugar, and baking powder. Place in a mixing bowl.
Use a pastry cutter to mix in shortening (or butter/shortening if desired).
Mix marmalade, orange juice, and vanilla in a small bowl. Pour into dry ingredients.
Beat eggs and pour into the bowl.
Mix all ingredients together gently, using fewer than 10 large strokes.

In a small bowl, mix topping ingredients.

Fill muffin pans with batter. Sprinkle 1 heaping teaspoon of topping ingredients over each muffi…

Croque Monsieur


2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups hot milk
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch nutmeg
12 ounces Gruyere, grated (5 cups)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
16 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
Dijon mustard
8 ounces baked Virginia ham, sliced but not paper thin


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Melt the butter over low heat in a small saucepan and add the flour all at once, stirring with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Slowly pour the hot milk into the butter–flour mixture and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thickened. Off the heat add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, 1/2 cup grated Gruyere, and the Parmesan and set aside.

To toast the bread, place the slices on 2 baking sheets and bake for 5 minutes. Turn each slice and bake for another 2 minutes, until toasted.

Lightly brush half the toasted breads with mustard, add a slice of ham to each, and sprinkle with half the remaining Gruyere. Top with a…

Raspberry Buttermilk Cake

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 cup fresh raspberries (about 5 oz)

Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle. Butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Beat butter and 2/3 cup sugar with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes, then beat in vanilla. Add egg and beat well.

At low speed, mix in flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour, and mixing until just combined.

Spoon batter into cake pan, smoothing top. Scatter raspberries evenly over top and sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 Tbsp sugar.

Bake until cake is golden and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then tu…

Chicken Parmesan Burgers

(Sorry for the bad photo - my camera is broken and I had to take this with an iPhone - they really do look much better than this)

1 lb. ground chicken (I used breast meat)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup plain bread crumbs
2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/4 cup chopped flatleaf parsley
1 clove garlic, finely minced or pressed
1 shallot, finely diced
salt and pepper

1/2 cup pasta sauce
4 slices mozzarella or provolone (or 1/2 cup shredded)
sautéed mushrooms (optional)
4 buns (brushed with a little garlic butter, they are even better)

Lightly mix together all the ingredients for the burgers. Form into 4 patties. Making them about 30-40 minutes ahead of time lets the flavors meld a little bit.

Preheat & spray the broiler with a little oil (or use the grill, or a pan). Broil the burgers for
about 4 minutes on the first side, then flip and broil for 3 minutes. - I prefer to grill mine on the grill instead of use a broiler.

Top each chicken burger with 2 Tbsp. pasta sauce and a sl…

Menu Plan Monday

Let the sun shine! After three weeks of rain, we finally had a beautiful, sunny day today! The boys finally got to do their birthday rock climbing trip and had a great time. I went hiking with my parents, and then we went to watch the boys climb for a while. After having a rather busy, stressful week, today was just what I needed.

We are approaching the end of school (only 7 1/2 days left), so the schedule is still a little hectic. I have a computer workshop on Monday, Eric has some travel, Corey has quite a few evening meetings, and we are hosting two American Idol finals parties at our house. Here is our menu for the week. Enjoy! For more menu ideas go to

Sunday - Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup (just wanted something simple after hiking and climbing)
Monday - Chicken Alfredo (made ahead), broccoli, peaches
Tuesday - American Idol Party - I'm providing the main dish - Pulled Pork Sandwiches
Wednesday - American Idol Party - main dish again - Grilled Bacon Wrapped Stuff…

Menu Plan Monday

Happy Mother's Day! I hope everyone had a wonderful day with their families today. I woke up with a rather annoying cold, but still had a great day. The boys made breakfast for me, I got to read for a while, and I took a very long nap. I also got to see the new Star Trek movie, which was awesome! We were originally supposed to go on a float trip, but the nasty weather and my health kind of blew that activity.

I had a friend ask me this week if I would share an example of my weekly planning form. So, here is an example. I've been using this for a couple of years, and it works great for me. I start off by listing my family's activities so I know what kind of meal to plan. If it's a night where we won't be home until late, I know that I need to either plan a crockpot meal or have something made ahead of time. I then list my dinner menu, and as I look at the recipe, I make my list of items I need to get at the grocery store.

Here are links to my templates if you would li…

Pea Soup

This is my mother-in-law’s recipe, and it is simple and tastes great! It's also loaded with fiber - 9 grams per serving! I make a batch a freeze it in individual portions and bring it for lunch. :) There's no way to make pea soup look appetizing, but I went ahead and posted a picture anyway. It's an awesome soup.

1 pkg dried split peas
1 med. Onion, diced
9 cups water
1 tsp. salt
1 pork hock

Rinse peas in colander. Put in soup pot with water, onion, salt, and hock. Cook covered several hours until peas are soft (mushy).

Menu Plan Monday

I have some new readers to my blog after sharing my computer mom geekiness (is that a word?) with a local MOPS group, so I thought I should explain the method to my madness. :-)

You might wonder why I start my menu posts each week with highlights from my family's life. I do it for a couple of reasons. First, my mom and my mother-in-law read this blog and it's a quick way to let them know what we've been up to during the week. ;-) But, I also do it to show that we are normal people with busy lives just like everyone else. I often have people ask me if I ever sleep or how I have time to do things like meal plan. I do realize I am obsessive things (not everyone gets a kick out of photographing their dinner every night ), but I hope that by recapping my week for you, it shows you that planning meals can actually save you time. I base my meals on the activities we have each week. I'll post an example of my planning form later in the week to give you an example. So, on with m…

Garden Adventure - Take Two

Well, even though last year's garden wasn't the most successful, we decided to give it a try again this year. We even expanded to another box. Last year the horribly rainy spring really hurt us, and unfortunately, it's been raining ever since we got our garden planted this year. Hopefully we will get some sunny days soon. Here are some pictures to document our garden attempt. Wish us luck!

Savory Mexican Cornbread

1-1/2 cups (6 oz) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (I use 2% milk kind)
3/4 cup buttermilk (fat free)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 can (8.5 oz) cream-style corn
1 can (4 oz) chopped green chiles (I left these out as I did not want this to be spicy this time)
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Optional garnishes: Jalapenos, cilantro, honey and butter

In a large bowl mix cheese, buttermilk, vegetable oil, eggs, corn and green chiles.

In another bowl mix cornmeal, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add to cheese mixture; stir just until dry ingredients are moistened.

Generously spray a 1-1/2 quart casserole dish with cooking spray. Pour mixture into casserole. Bake 40 to 50 minutes in a 375 degree oven or until cornbread is a deep golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cooking times are going to vary based on width and height of the pan you use.

Cool in the pan 10 minutes…

Margarita Cupcakes with Lime Buttercream Frosting

I made these for a Cinco de Mayo dinner party. They are very tasty, but you have to like lime flavor.


1 box white cake mix
1 cup margarita Mix , room temperature
1/4 tequila, room temperature
3 egg whites @ room temperature
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
zest of 3 small limes or 2 medium limes


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Prepare 2 muffin tins with cupcake papers (recipe yields 24 small cupcakes)

3. In a glass or small bowl, mix together the margarita mix and tequila. Make sure both are at room temperature to ensure smooth mixing with the rest of the ingredients.

4. In medium bowl (preferably with a pouring spout) whisk together the margarita mixture, 3 egg whites (also at room temperature for the same reason) and vegetable oil.

5. In large bowl or standing mixer, place the white cake mix and lime zest. Slowly incorporate the wet ingredients either with a hand mixer or standing mixer.

6. Beat mixture about 2-3 minutes. The batter will have a thick, tacky consistency.

7. D…

Touchdown Taco Dip

This is my adaptation of one of those Pampered Chef recipes you get when you host a party. It's pretty tasty, and my version is healthier than the original!

1 can (16 ounces) fat free refried beans
1 package (8 ounces) fat free cream cheese, softened
1 cup fat free sour cream
2 tablespoons low sodium taco seasoning mix
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded (1/2 cup) (use the 2% milk kind)
1 medium tomato, seeded and diced
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions with tops
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro or parsley, thinly sliced
Baked tortilla chips


Preheat oven to 350 F.

Spread refried beans over bottom of a 9 inch glass pie plate (or other similarly sized baking dish).

In a bowl, combine cream cheese, sour cream, and taco seasoning. Finely chop garlic. Add to bow and mix well.

Spread cream cheese mixture evenly over beans. Grate cheese over top.

Bake 15-18 minutes or until hot.

To prepare toppings, dice tomato and thinly slice onions. Thinly slice cilant…