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.