Late addition to post: I just realized that today is my 3 year blogiversary! It's hard to believe that I have stuck with this for three whole years. I have to admit, I'm pretty proud of myself. :) So, here's to three years of blogging about what I eat for dinner. It's not a huge accomplishment, but it entertains me. ;) Hopefully, it has been helpful to some of you as well!

Merry Christmas! I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday weekend. We were lucky enough to get snow flurries on Christmas day that made for beautiful travel without the travel hazards. My brother in New York, though, got a blizzard! I have to say I'm a bit jealous. We just don't get huge snows anymore. We did have a wonderful time visiting family, and the great thing is that Corey and I still have one more week off of school!

Last week I decided it was time that I get my body in a healthier state again. I know, what a stupid week to start a "diet" (if you want to call it that), but better to start when you are feeling motivated. I'm not a huge person or anything, but when you are 5' 2", it doesn't take much extra weight to make you feel pudgy. Anyway, to make myself feel better about my health, I feel like I need to take off about 10-15 pound, and I would like to reach that goal by May. I've done Weight Watchers in the past, and it works for me. I'm not officially going that route this time (I'm too much a of a cheapskate), but I'm still using that basic premise - eat a lower calorie, lower fat, high fiber diet and make sure I exercise regularly.

I am using SparkPeople to track my calories and SparkRecipes to calculate the calories in my meals (which also allows me to calculate WW points if I choose - I still have my points calculator). On my recipes, if you see WW points listed, these are using the old Flex Plan method. I'm not using the new method that just came out this month that counts fruits as 0 points. I just want people to know that in case they are using my recipes for their own weight loss journey.

I started my healthy eating journey (I hate the word "diet") on December 22, and I have already lost two pounds. Those first couple of pounds always come off fast for me, and then I lose tenths of a pound at a time. But, slow and steady is a good way to go. :) My calorie range for weight loss is 1200-1500 calories per day according to SparkPeople plan (or 20 WW points per day), which seems to be working well. I will be adding the calories and WW points to the bottom of each recipe as I make them this week.

As you look at my meal plans, hopefully you won't notice much difference. I don't cook differently for me than my family. My husband and son, who need to be eating more calories since they are training for a marathon, still eat the same foods as me, but they eat larger portions. A lot of time when people diet, they stop making "normal" food, and then end up putting weight right back on once they reach their goals. Basically, I just need to watch my portion size. So, my meals will remain family friendly and won't be full of weird diet foods. :) Here's this week's menu. For more menu ideas, go to Enjoy and have a great week!

Sunday - Christmas at Grandma's house
Monday - Taco Bake, Broccoli, Salad
Tuesday - Grilled Bruschetta Chicken, Peaches, Green Beans, Salad
Wednesday - South Seas Pork Chops, Pineapple Slices, Green Beans, Salad
Thursday - Paprika Chicken with Sour Cream Sauce, Rice, Brussels Sprouts, Salad
Friday - Baked Potato Bar, Salad, Fruit
Saturday - Red Beans and Rice with Sausage, Salad
This is a really easy, very tasty version of red beans and rice. My family loves it.

1 lb. smoked turkey sausage, quartered lengthwise and sliced
1 onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 T. chili powder
2 t. cumin
1 t. oregano
1/2 t. crushed red pepper flakes
1/8 t. cayenne pepper
2 cans (15 oz) fully cooked red beans
2 c. beef stock
2 T. flour + 3 T. water
Salt and pepper, to taste
3 cups cooked rice (3/4 cup servings)

1. Cook sausage, onion and garlic in large stock pot for 5-8 minutes, until onion is tender and sausage is starting to brown. Stir in seasonings and cook for an additional minute, until very fragrant.

2. Pour in red beans and beef stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer. Simmer as little as 15 minutes, just to heat through and combine flavors or let simmer all day for fully developed flavor.

3. Before serving, remove about a cup worth of beans with a slotted spoon. Mash and return to the pot. Bring back to a boil. Stir together the flour and water until smooth. Slowly pour into the pot while stirring constantly. Boil for about 5 minutes, until thickened enough to cover the back of a spoon. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve over cooked rice.

Recipe adapted from Cooking During Stolen Moments
These are awesome right of the oven. My husband says they are like thin mints done right. :)


2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 pkg Nestle Dark Chocolate & Mint Morsels

Preheat oven to 325.

Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels. Drop by well-rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake for 11-13 minutes or until cookies are puffed and centers are set. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Makes 40 cookies

WW points - 3 per cookie

We are officially on Christmas vacation! Last Friday was our last day of school, and now we have two weeks off with no planned schedule. It feels so great. I plan to read, cook, sew, and take lots of naps. :) Corey and I don't get to just hang out a lot, and we are really looking forward to goofing off together. Eric still has to work, but we'll be able to bring him lunch and things like that, and we'll have Christmas weekend as a family.

I'm keeping the menu simple this week and am focusing on family favorites. I'm also trying to stick with things I have in the pantry and freezer since we are at the end of the month and the budget starts to run low at this time of the month. Here's this week's menu. For more menu ideas go to Enjoy and have a fabulous Christmas!

Sunday - Leftovers (we needed to finish off the stuff in the fridge)
Monday - Honey Roasted Pork Tenderloin, Mashed Potatoes, Broccoli, Peaches
Tuesday - Spaghetti and Meatballs, Salad
Wednesday - Grilled Chicken Soft Tacos, Fruit Salad
Thursday - Beef Stroganoff with Noodles, Green Beans, Salad
Friday - Leftovers
Saturday - Eat dinner at Grandma's house
One more week until Christmas vacation! I am so ready to have some time at home with my family. I'm going to sew, read, cook, take naps, play games with my son, and just enjoy Christmastime. This weekend my hubby wasn't feeling well, so I made some Christmas cookies to fill my time. Here's my cookie list:

The menu this week is going to sound pretty boring, because I bought a ham and now I need to use it up. :) Here's this week's menu. For more menu ideas go to

Sunday - Ham, Cheddar Potato Strips, Parmesan Green Beans
Monday - Country Ham and Macaroni Casserole, Salad, Peaches
Tuesday - Leftovers from last night
Wednesday - Crockpot Corn, Potato, and Ham Scallop, Salad, Applesauce
Thursday - Book Club - TBA
Friday - Leftovers
Saturday -Steak, Baked Potatoes, Green Beans, Salad
You just can't go wrong with something called a brownie cookie cup! :)

48 Mint Truffle Hershey's Kisses, unwrapped
2/3 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 T water
1 t vanilla
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 t salt
1/4 t baking soda

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Place 48 small muffin cups on baking sheets (I put 24 on each sheet). Remove wrappers from chocolates.
2. Beat butter, sugar, water, and vanilla in large bowl on medium speed of mixer until well blended. Add eggs; beat well.
3. Stir together flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda. Gradually add to sugar mixture, beating on low speed just until blended. If necessary, refrigerate dough until firm enough to handle. Shape dough into 1-inch balls (I used a 1 inch cookie scoop); place in muffin cups.
4. Bake 11 to 13 minutes or until cookie surface is set. Cookies will appear soft and moist. Do not overbake. Cool about 5 minutes on wire rack. Press chocolate piece into surface of each cookie cup. Cool completely on wire rack.

Makes 4 dozen cookies.

Recipe source - back of the Hershey Kiss bag :)
I'm usually not one to eat cookies that don't have chocolate, but these are actually quite amazing!

2 boxes lemon cake mix
1 C butter, melted
2 eggs
1 T fresh lemon juice
1 12 oz package white chocolate chips
1/2 t shortening

1. Melt the butter and add it to the cake mixes. Mix together. Add eggs and mix together.
2. Add lemon juice to mixture.
3. Mix with a wooden spoon or electric mixer until combined.
4. Add all but 1/2 C of the white chocolate chips; mix until incorporated evenly.
5. Roll into 1 1/2 inch balls or use a cookie scoop; place on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes. (I had to cook mine a bit longer.) Be careful not to over bake. Take the cookies out of the oven when they have cracked on the top. Then let them finish cooking on the hot cookie sheet for about 2 minutes. Put on a wire rack to finish cooling completely.
 6. Melt the remaining 1/2 C of white chocolate in the microwave for 30 seconds. Add the shortening to the chips and stir. If they aren't melting put them in the microwave for another 30 seconds and stir. Don't get it too hot or it will coagulate.
7. Drizzle the white chocolate over the tops of the cooled cookies with a spoon.

Makes 4 dozen

Recipe adapted from Jamie Cooks It Up
Two more weeks until Christmas vacation! I can't believe how fast the time is going by. My poor kid has had a tough week. Our wonderful hike last weekend ended up being a bad deal for Corey - he got a horrible case of poison ivy and ended up in urgent care mid-week. :( After getting a shot, he is slowly mending, but it has not been fun.

I finally got my apron finished for the Christmas Flirty Apron Swap. I think it turned out very festive. The fabrics are very sparkly, which doesn't show up in the photo.

This week is a normal school week filled with lots of activities - ortho appointment for the boy, school Christmas program for me, academic team meet, school Christmas party, etc. I tried to keep the menu simple, and I am still trying to use up the last of the stuff in the freezer before I restock over Christmas break. Here's this week's menu. For more menu ideas go to Enjoy and have a great week!

Sunday - Lasagna (from freezer), Salad, Broccoli
Monday - Meatball Hash Brown Bake, Green Beans, Peaches
Tuesday - Leftovers
Wednesday - Sausage and Potato Soup, Salad, Applesauce
Thursday - Turkey and Gravy (from freezer), Mashed Potatoes (from freezer), Green Beans
Friday - Homemade Pizza, Salad, Oranges
Saturday - Eat at Christmas party
We had a FABULOUS Thanksgiving vacation! Thanksgiving morning, Eric, Corey and I got up early and ran the Turkey Trot 5K in Springfield with about 5000 other people. It was cold and started raining by the end of the race, but it was a lot of fun. By the time we got home, the temperature had dropped enough that it was freezing rain, and about an hour later, it snowed! It was so festive! My parents and my brother and his family came over for dinner, and we really enjoyed having the family together.

On Saturday, we met my brother and his kids in Arkansas to go hiking. It was a perfect day for a hike - no wind, sunny, and 55 degrees. The kids had a great time climbing on the boulders at Pedestal Rocks.

This week we are back to school and our other usual activities. The menu is pretty simple as I'm trying to use up items I have in the freezer. Plus, I don't have a lot of extra time this week to cook anything fancy. Here's this week's menu. For more menu ideas, go to Enjoy and have a great week!

Sunday - Chili Ranch Grilled Pork Chops, Brussels Sprouts, Applesauce. Salad
Monday - Marsala Burgers, French Fries, Baked Beans, Salad
Tuesday - Chili, Peanut Butter Sandwiches, Salad, Apples
Wednesday - Spaghetti with Meatballs, Garlic Bread, Salad
Thursday - Leftovers
Friday - Turkey Sausage Pizza, Salad
Saturday - BBQ Chicken Baked Potatoes (chicken from freezer), Green Beans, Peaches, Salad
After a rough start to my week last week (stomach flu - yuck!), I am now back to the land of the living! And just in time for Thanksgiving. Woo hoo! I only have two days of school this week, and then it's all about family time and relaxing. Corey and I did have a date to the Harry Potter movie on Friday. It was awesome, and now we are anxiously awaiting part two in July!

My parents and my youngest brother and his wife and 5 kids will be joining us for Thanksgiving dinner this year. I'm very excited about having everyone over. I posted my Thanksgiving menu earlier, so check out what we will be eating. :) Eric, Corey and I will be running the Turkey Trot that morning, which is always a lot of fun.

I hope to do some extra cooking to restock the freezer over Thanksgiving break. I also plan to do some sewing, including making an apron for my swap partner in the Flirty Apron Swap. I've still got to decide which fabrics to use. Decisions, decisions...

Here's this week's menu. For more menu ideas, go to Enjoy and have a great week and great Thanksgiving holiday!

Sunday - Grilled Pork Chops, Oven Baked Fries, Green Beans, Pineapple
Monday - BBQ Chicken Sandwiches (from freezer), Baked Beans, Peaches, Salad
Tuesday - Tuna Noodle Casserole, Broccoli, Applesauce, Salad
Wednesday - Take my mom out to eat for her birthday?
Thursday - Turkey, Sausage and Stuffing Criss-Cross Pastry, Wild Mushroom and Bacon Dressing, Basil Green Beans, Cream Cheese Corn, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Day Before Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, Hot Rolls, Pumpkin Dessert
Friday - Leftovers!
Saturday - Taco Corn Bread Casserole, Fruit
I thought that Thanksgiving deserved a post of its own. I'll still be listing it in my weekly menu, but I thought I would highlight the dishes I will be making this year. My parents, my brother and his wife and their 5 kids will be joining my family at my house for Thanksgiving this year! Too bad my New York brother can't make it. :( But, you take what you can get. Here's what I am planning on for our Thanksgiving dinner.

Turkey (not going to stuff it)

Sausage and Stuffing Criss-Cross Pastry

Wild Mushroom and Bacon Stuffing (new - pic coming soon)

Day Before Mashed Potatoes (with gravy)

Basil Green Beans

Roasted Brussels Sprouts (new - pic coming soon)

Cream Cheese Corn

Hot Rolls

Pumpkin Dessert
I love Brussels sprouts, but have never cooked fresh ones. I think I'm going to add these to my Thanksgiving lineup.

1 1/2 pound fresh Brussels sprouts, cut in halves
3 T olive oil
salt and pepper
white wine vinegar

Toss 1 1/2 pounds halved Brussels sprouts with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast cut-side down on a baking sheet at 450 until caramelized, 25 to 30 minutes. Drizzle with white wine vinegar and honey if desired.
I was watching Throwdown with Bobby Flay last night (way to go, Pioneer Woman!), and I thought his dressing looked amazing, so I think I'm going to give it a try. I'll let you know what I think after Thanksgiving.

1 1/4 pounds sourdough bread, crusts trimmed, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 12 cups)
1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, coarsely chopped
1/2 pound oyster mushrooms, coarsely chopped
1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons canola oil, divided
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 pound slab bacon, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 large Spanish onion, finely diced
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 to 5 cups homemade chicken stock or low sodium canned chicken broth
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Spread the bread onto a large baking sheet (or 2 smaller baking sheets) in an even layer and bake, stirring a few times, until lightly golden brown, about 12 minutes. Remove and let cool. Once cooled, put the cubes into a very large bowl.

Increase the heat to 375 degrees F. Combine the mushrooms in a large baking dish or baking sheet, toss with 3 tablespoons of the oil, and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven, stirring several times, until soft and golden brown, about 25 minutes.

While the mushrooms are roasting, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of the canola oil in a large high-sided saute pan over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and the fat has rendered, about 10 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels.

Remove all but 2 tablespoons of the rendered fat in the saute pan and place back on the stove over high heat. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add 3 cups of the chicken stock and the herbs, season with salt and pepper, and bring to a simmer.

Add the mushrooms to the bread, and then add the onion/stock mixture, egg, salt and pepper, and gently stir until combined. The dressing should be very wet, add more stock as needed. Scrape the mixture into a buttered 13 by 9 by 2-inch glass baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil, and continue baking until the top is golden brown, about 30 to 40 minutes longer.

Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Recipe Source - Bobby Flay
For the last few years, our family has created photo Christmas cards to send to friends and family members. Our favorite site for card creation has to be Shutterfly. They have so many creative designs. Eric usually takes our family photo, or we use photos from events throughout the year to make the card, and then we follow the easy process on the Shutterfly site to create our cards. I have to admit, I'm having a very hard time picking our card this year! There are so many beautiful designs and styles to choose from.

Do I go with a fun and silly folded card design?

Or do I go with a serious, classy flat card?

Or do I use this one where I can recap events of the year - pretty cool!

No matter which one I pick, they will be fabulous. The quality of the cards from Shutterfly has always been great. I never have to worry if they will turn out well or not. Plus, you have so many ways you can customzie your card, which is one of my favorite features of the site.

Once I get the card job finished, I've got to get our photo book picked! We make a photo book each year to highlight our family's events. It's a great way to scrapbook if you are not a scrapbooker. :)

Want to try Shutterfly cards this year? Shutterfly is offering bloggers 50 free holiday cards absolutely FREE!  Now's your chance.  Visit Shutterfly for more details

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.
My post is going to be short today. I've got the stomach flu. :( Lots of  new recipes this week, so pictures will be posted soon. I'll write more later, but here's the menu. For more menu ideas, go to

Sunday -Feta and Bacon Stuffed Chicken Breasts, Green Beans, Onion Roasted Potatoes
Monday - Chicken Enchiladas, Salad, Peaches
Tuesday - Chicken, Black Bean, and Salsa Soup, Salad, Sinfully Sweet Cornbread
Wednesday - Tator Tot Surprise, Peaches, Salad
Thursday - Eat at book club
Friday -Homemade Pizza, Salad
Saturday - Steak, Brussels Sprouts, Baked Potatoes, Salad
The next time I make this soup, I will be doubling the recipe. Yum! (The picture is horrible - I forgot to take a picture when I first made the soup, and had to take a picture of leftovers that I heated too long in the microwave.)

12 slices Oscar Meyer Center Cut Bacon, diced
1 onion, diced
5 large Russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 c. chicken stock
3 T. butter
3 T. flour
1 1/2 c. milk
2 oz. reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 t. black pepper
Sour cream and green onions for garnish, optional
1. In a large stock pot, cook bacon until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon to drain and set aside. Drain bacon grease from the pot. Cook the onions in the pot for about 5 minutes, until tender.
2. Add potatoes and chicken stock to pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer about 20 minutes, until potatoes are tender. With a slotted spoon, remove a few scoops of potatoes. Place in a bowl and mash with a fork. Set aside.
3. In a small sauce pan, melt butter. Stir in flour and cook for 2 minutes. Whisk in milk, bring to a boil and simmer until thickened. Slowly stir in to stock pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer. Stir mashed potatoes back into pot.
4. Add 1/2 c. shredded cheese and the reserved bacon to pot. Add pepper. Stir to combine. Cook an additional 5 minutes.
5. To serve, ladle soup into individual bowls and top with some shredded cheese, bacon, green onions and sour cream (optional - not included in nutritional information.

Recipe adapted from - Cooking During Stolen Moments
This is the best cornbread I've ever made. Even Eric loves it, and he doesn't eat cornbread!

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
2/3 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray or lightly grease a nine inch round cake pan. In a large bowl combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Stir in egg, milk, and vegetable oil until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake in a preheated oven for 20-25 minutes.

Recipe Source - Mom Advice
This is a very tasty soup, and it's super easy to make!

3 chicken breasts, diced
1 Tbsp canola or vegetable oil
2 Tbsp homemade taco seasoning
2 cups cooked black beans
2 cups cooked red beans
2 cups homemade chicken broth
2-3 cups water…depending on how thick you like your soup
2 cups frozen corn
1 cup store bought salsa
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, saute the diced chicken breast in the oil with the taco seasoning mixed in. (If you have cooked and shredded chicken, that will work too!)

Once the chicken has cooked through, add the cooked black beans, the cooked red beans, the broth and water.  Stir in the frozen corn, no need to thaw, as well as the salsa.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low and let simmer for 15-20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
This is so much better than the packaged stuff - no salt!


1 part chili powder
1 part ground cumin
1 part garlic powder
1 part onion powder
1/4 – 1/2 part crushed red pepper


Mix all the spices together and store in an airtight container.

Recipe Source - $5 Dinners
This is a very hearty soup that is super easy to make.

1 pound lean beef stew meat, cubed
1/4 of an onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 15 oz can mushrooms, drained
2 cups homemade beef broth
2 1/2 cups water (Use however much you need to get the “soup-i-ness” that you want)
1/2 cup pearled barley
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh parsley to garnish (optional)

1.Brown the sides of the beef cubes in a large saucepan with onion and crushed garlic. Once all sides have browned, add the beef broth and water.
2.Bring to a boil, then add the pearled barley. Let cook at a rolling boil for 20 minutes.
3.Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Recipe adapted from $5 Dollar Dinners
Our family had a great weekend! I'm finally getting over my stupid cold and feel like a human again. Corey traveled with the cross country team to state contest and had a great time. The team got 9th place. Eric and I actually got to spend some nice time together while he was gone. We went for a "romance run" together on Friday evening and decorated the house for Christmas (yes, I'm one of those annoying people who decorates early - it makes me happy). Just look at this tree and tell me it doesn't make you smile. :)

This morning we participated in the Bass Pro Outdoor Festival. Eric ran his first official half marathon and finished in 1:56. Corey and I ran the 5K. Corey got 2nd place in his age division and and 10th place overall. I finished the race, which is great for me considering I haven't run since July when I injured my leg. :) I may not be speedy, but at least I'm out there.

This week is a busy one for activities, so the evening meals are definitely on the simple side. Our football team is in playoffs, which means the band has to play. Corey has district band auditions, I have computer workshop, we have the cross country banquet, and we have another 5K on Friday night. We definitely can't complain about being bored. On weeks like this, my menu relies on things I can cook ahead or pull out of the freezer. (On a side note, I didn't get to last week's Chicken with Cider and Bacon Sauce. I still wasn't feeling well and resorted to take-out Chinese.) Here's this week's menu. For more menu ideas, go to I'm looking forward to Thanksgiving break so I can cook more! Enjoy and have a great week!

Sunday - Roast, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, Green Beans
Monday -Red Beans and Rice (Just Zatarans out of the box with sausage added in), Salad, Peaches
Tuesday -Leftovers
Wednesday - Chili, Peanut Butter Sandwiches
Thursday -Eat at banquet
Friday - Chicken Spaghetti (gotta carb up for the race), Broccoli, Fruit
Saturday -Soup (to be decided), Chick-be-Quicks (having company over to watch BOA finals)
This is going to be a short post as I managed to catch a nasty cold this weekend and feel terrible. We had Corey's last band competition this weekend, which means no more early morning rehearsals and no more 4:30 a.m. alarms for me. Woo hoo! I have a couple of new menu items this week, so I will add the photos as I make them. I did manage to make some cute spider web brownies for Halloween today.

Here's this week's menu. For more menu ideas, go to Enjoy and have a great week! I'm going to go to bed.

Sunday - Spider Web Pizza Spread, Pepperoni Pizza Puffs, Spider Web Brownies
Monday -Bacon Cheeseburger Pinwheels (new), Corn, Salad, Peaches
Tuesday -Chicken with Cider & Bacon Sauce (new), Rice, Green Beans, Salad
Wednesday -Crockpot Cowboy Stew, Salad
Thursday -BBQ Chicken Sandwiches (from freezer), Corn, French Fries
Friday -Eat out
Saturday -Spaghetti, Garlic Bread, Salad

4  (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/4  teaspoon  salt
1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
2  bacon slices, chopped
1/4  cup  minced fresh onion
3/4  cup  unsweetened apple cider
1/2  cup  fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

Place each chicken breast half between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap; pound to 1/2-inch thickness using a meat mallet or rolling pin. Sprinkle chicken evenly with salt and pepper.

Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan. Add chicken to drippings in pan; cook 6 minutes on each side or until done. Remove chicken from pan; keep warm.

Add onion to pan; cook 2 minutes or until tender, stirring constantly. Add cider and broth; bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Cook until broth mixture is reduced to 1/2 cup (about 5 minutes). Stir in cooked bacon; serve sauce over chicken.

Recipe Source - Fake Ginger
These are so much better than the picture looks. They are definitely a keeper. I cooked mine about 25 minutes.

1 lb lean hamburger (93/7)
3 Tbsp no salt added tomato sauce
1 egg
1/4 cup onions, diced
4 strips bacon, cooked and finely chopped
3/4 cup reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese
1 can Pillsbury Classic refrigerated pizza dough

Preheat oven to 425.  In a large bowl, combine first 6 ingredients.  Roll the pizza dough into a 9x15 rectangle and top with hamburger mixture.  Spread the hamburger evenly over the dough.  Starting with the long side, roll up into a log.  Slice into 16 pinwheels and place on baking sheet.  Bake 15-18 minutes, or until golden brown.  Serve with your favorite dipping sauce - Ranch, BBQ, A-1, etc.

Recipe adapted from Plain Chicken

1 box brownie mix (Family Size for 9x13 pan)

Spiderweb mixture:
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1 large egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 Oreo Cakesters
pretzel sticks (you could use black licorice - but I don't like it)
white chocolate chips
chocolate syrup

Prepare brownies according to Fudge Brownie recipe, and spread the batter in 2 8" cake pans (mine were actually 9"). I put parchment paper in the bottom to make them easier to remove. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Combine the cream cheese, sugar and flour in a small bowl, and mix until smooth. Add the egg yolk and vanilla, mixing until smooth once again. Transfer the mixture to a ziplock bag, and cut just the very tip off the end.

Place a small pool of the mixture in the center of the brownie batter. Draw circles around this pool, about 1 inch apart, moving out from the center each time. Once the circles are drawn, take a table knife, wet the tip, and draw it back and forth through the circles.

The knife will draw the cream cheese filling into arcs. Once you've gone all the way around the circles, take up your pastry bag again. Use the remaining filling to trace the path where the knife travelled, to create the spokes of the web.

Bake the brownies for 20-25 minutes, until the brownies just barely pull away from the edge of the pan. The center will rise while baking, but will sink back level once the brownies are cool. Remove them from the oven and cool before cutting.

To assemble the spider:  Stick the pretzel sticks around the cakester to make legs (4 on each side).   Push in two white chocolate chips for eyes, and use a toothpick to apply a little chocolate syrup to add eyeballs. You could also use a little white frosting and push a mini chocolate chip into it for eyes.

Adapted from King Arthur Flour
What a wonderful weekend! No football game performances and no band contests! We actually got to spend some time together as a family, and it was wonderful. :) Today we ate our way across Silver Dollar City and had a blast. Our favorite treat was the spiral potato on a stick. Why is it that food on a stick is always more fun? :)

I participated in the Fall Flirty Apron Swap and finished my partner's apron package this week. It's always fun to make a surprise for someone - even someone you don't know! :)

I did some cooking for the week today. I made Bacon Cheese Pull Aparts for today's breakfast, and cooked 2 dozen Bacon Cheddar Muffins to eat during the week. I also made some Halloween Buddies for a fun treat. This week's menu is full of family favorite staples. I cooked pretty much everything ahead of time except for the things we are grilling. Here's the menu. For more menu ideas, go to Enjoy and have a great week!

Sunday - Steak, Green Beans, Salad (didn't do on Saturday)
Monday - Sausage Potato Soup (made ahead), Salad
Tuesday - Creamy Chicken Breasts (made ahead), Rice, Green Beans
Wednesday - Chili Ranch Grilled Pork, Twiced Baked Potatoes (from freezer), Broccoli
Thursday - Leftovers
Friday - Bacon and Cheese Stuffed Burgers, Steak Fries, Salad, Peaches
Saturday - Eat out (band contest)
I doubled the recipe to make some to share with friends. Just make sure you double the microwave time if you double the recipe.

4 1/2 cups Corn Chex® cereal
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips (3 oz)
1/4 cup peanut butter
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 cup candy corn
1 cup salted cocktail peanuts


1. Into large bowl, measure cereal; set aside.

2. In 1-quart microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter uncovered on High 30 seconds; stir. Microwave about 15 seconds longer or until mixture can be stirred smooth. Stir in vanilla. Pour mixture over cereal, stirring until evenly coated. Pour into 1-gallon resealable food-storage plastic bag.

3. Add powdered sugar. Seal bag; shake until well coated. Add candy corn and peanuts; shake to mix. Spread on waxed paper to cool. Store in airtight container in refrigerator.

Recipe Source - Betty Crocker
Thank goodness for freezer items, as they made my week very easy last week, and hopefully will be helping me out again this week. Our busy October schedule is keeping us hopping! We had a great weekend in St. Louis for Corey's band contest. It was fun to visit with family, watch the band perform, and spend some much needed time with my hubby. We went for a wonderful walk together in Forest Park this morning. It is such a beautiful spot in the middle of the city.

This week is full with parent/teacher conferences and work meetings, but we have a lighter weekend coming up which we are very much looking forward to. This week's menu has some freezer items and easy pasta dishes to get us through the busy days. Here's this week's menu. For more menu ideas, go to  Enjoy and have a great week!

Sunday - Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup (we got back late from St. Louis and just wanted something light and easy)
Monday - Chili (from freezer) and Peanut Butter Sandwiches, Salad
Tuesday - Creamy Jambalaya Pasta, Salad
Wednesday - Chicken Spaghetti, Broccoli, Salad
Thursday - Meatballs and Gravy (from freezer), Mashed Potatoes (from freezer), Green Beans
Friday - Chicken and Dumplings, Salad
Saturday - Steak, Baked Potatoes, Green Beans, Salad

8 oz Ronzoni Smart Taste Rotini Pasta
1/2 lb turkey smoked sausage, cut into bite-size pieces
1 cup fat free evaporated milk
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/4 cup chopped onion or 2 Tbsp minced onion flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup white wine
4 tablespoon tomato sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped parsley
Parmesan cheese (optional - not included in nutrition info)


In a large pot, boil water for pasta. Boil pasta and cook until al dente.  Set aside.

Brown sausage in a small skillet over medium heat. Once browned, add onion and saute for two minutes. Add garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds or until fragrant.  Add white wine to skillet, making sure to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom.  Let wine reduce by half, about two minutes.

Stir in Cajun seasoning, paprika, pepper and tomato sauce. Add evaporated milk and heat to almost bubbling, then reduce heat to low. Allow the cream mixture to reduce by half, about 5 minutes. Drain pasta and add to skillet. Toss with parsley and freshly grated Parmesan.

Recipe adapted from Plain Chicken
We are still trying to make it through the month of October. I had a great family reading night last week, and the kids really seemed to enjoy my superhero theme.

Corey had a great math contest day, getting a 1st place and two 3rd places. I love that he is so much better at math than I am! He also had a great band contest. His band made finals at the contest, which they were not able to do last year. We had a great visit with Eric's parents, and both my parents and Eric's parents came to the band contest. Lots of fun! Now we are ready to tackle the next busy week. :)

This week we have a cross country meet, computer workshops, the last halftime performance of the year (thank goodness), and another band competition. I made some amazing pumpkin muffins for breakfasts this week. You've got to try this recipe.

Here is this week's menu. I'm really relying on the freezer items this week. I do have a new pasta recipe for Monday (have to get carbs for the boy for his run on Tuesday). For more menu ideas, go to
Enjoy and have a great week!

Sunday - Steak, Baked Potatoes, Broccoli
Monday - Taco Pasta, Salad, Corn Muffins (from mix)
Tuesday - Turkey and Gravy (freezer), Mashed Potatoes (freezer), Criss Cross Stuffing Pastry (freezer), Green Beans
Wednesday - Saucy Hot Dogs, Corn, Peaches, Salad
Thursday - BBQ Beef Sandwiches (freezer), Corn, Salad
Friday - Eat at ball game
Saturday - Eat at band contest
Well, this one was a failure. None of us liked the sauce. I think we wanted it to taste like beanie weenies.

1 pkg hot dogs, cut into small slices (I use fat free)
1 can tomato soup
¼ c firmly packed brown sugar
3 T water, 3 T vinegar
2 t Worcestershire sauce
1 T lemon juice
1 small onion, finely chopped
Hot dog buns, toasted

In large skillet, brown hot dog pieces. Stir in tomato soup, brown sugar, water, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, and onion. Cover; simmer hot dogs in sauce 10 min. Serve in split toasted hot dog buns.

1 pound lean ground beef
8 ounce small dry pasta shapes
1 small onion, chopped (or 1 Tbsp minced onion flakes)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup salsa
1 packet taco seasoning
3 ounces reduced fat cream cheese
1/2 cup fat free sour cream
Shredded Cheese (2% milk kind) for topping

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook pasta according to the package directions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water. Set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook the ground meat and onion over medium-high heat until no longer pink. Once the meat is cooked through, drain off the excess fat and mix in the garlic. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Mix in the salsa and taco seasoning and let simmer over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Stir in the cooked pasta, cream cheese, sour cream and reserved pasta water, and continue stirring until the cream cheese is melted and the sauce is well blended. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Top with shredded cheese and more sour cream and salsa if desired.

Recipe Source - Plain Chicken
I got this recipe from my friend, Melissa. She made them for a breakfast at school, and they were wonderful! Eric says his likes them better than the pumpkin muffins at Panera!

The original recipe calls for 1/2 cup oil, but I substitute 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce.

2½ c. flour
2 c. sugar
1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt

2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 can pumpkin
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

Streusel Topping:
Combine 2 Tbsp. flour, ¼ c. sugar and ½ tsp. cinnamon.  Cut in 3 Tbsp. butter until mixture is combined.

In a large bowl combine first 5 ingredients; set aside.  In medium bowl, combine eggs, pumpkin and oil.  Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients; stir just until moistened.  Spoon batter into greased or paper-lined muffin cups, filling ¾ full.  Sprinkle streusel topping over batter.  Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

***Melissa’s note:  When I’m using the cupcake liners, I go ahead and fill the muffin cups as full as I can, using the all the batter for just 12 muffins.  It will make 12 jumbo size muffins.  If I don’t have the cupcake liners, I only fill ¾ of the way full because the tops will pull off when trying to get them out of the pan if they get too big.
We survived our busy week last week, but barely! Saturday just about did us in. We had a 20 hour day, starting with a cross country meet very early in the morning and ending after midnight with a band contest. We tried to sleep in late Sunday to recouperate, but we still had all of the normal weekend chores to accomplish in that one day - laundry, shopping, cooking, cleaning, homework, etc. Plus, I had to finish preparations for my family reading night. Needless to say, the Matzat family is tuckered out! Unfortunately, this week isn't much better. It must be that time of year. We have the normal band and cross country practices, my family reading night, Eric's work retreat, computer workshops, halftime performances, math contest, band contest,and we have company coming. Okay, enough of my ranting. I know we all have busy schedules, but I feel better now that I've shared my stress with the world. ;)

On to the menu plan! I did a lot of cooking on Sunday, including making a pot of soup for my lunches this week - Pasta e Fagoili! Yum! I also cooked some meals for some friends who are in some crisis situations and need someone to make sure they are eating. We do have some nights where we are forced to eat out again, but at least we will get a few home-cooked meals. The new one on the menu for this week is Baked Spaghetti Casserole. I made it ahead of time for later in the week (plus an extra for a friend), and it looks great. I'll post pictures later. Here's this week's menu. For more menu ideas, go to Enjoy and have a great week!

Sunday -Homemade Pizza (was going to be Pizza Pot Pies, but no time), Salad
Monday -Crockpot Roasted Chicken (made ahead), Crockpot Mac & Cheese (made ahead), Green Beans, Salad
Tuesday -Eat out (family reading night and cross country meet)
Wednesday -Baked Spaghetti Casserole (made ahead), Salad, Garlic Muffins (made ahead)
Thursday -Leftovers
Friday -Eat out (halftime performance)
Saturday -Eat at band contest
This is a new family favorite. Corey says it's like spaghetti and lasagna all in one, therefore the recipe title. This is a great one to make ahead of time and freeze, and then bake it later in the week for dinner.

1 lb Honeysuckle White Turkey Breakfast Sausage
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 26 oz can Hunts Garlic and Herb Pasta Sauce
1 4 oz can no salt added tomato sauce
1 t. parsley
1 t. oregano
1 t. basil
1 box Ronzoni Smart Taste spaghetti noodles
1 c. fat free cottage cheese
3 oz. reduced fat cream cheese
1 egg
1/2 c. grated reduced fat grated Parmesan cheese topping
4 oz. shredded low fat Mozzarella

1. In a large skillet, brown sausage with onion and garlic. Drain. Stir in pasta sauce and seasonings. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Set aside.

2. While sauce is simmering, cook spaghetti al dente, according to package directions. Drain.

3. In a blender, puree the cottage cheese, cream cheese, egg, and Parmesan cheese until smooth.

4. In a large bowl, stir together the cheese mixture and spaghetti noodles until well mixed. Pour into a greased 13×9 casserole dish. Spoon the meat sauce on top of the spaghetti and cover with shredded cheese.

5. Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until cheese is melted and golden.

This will remind you of the rotisserie chickens you get at the grocery store. By cooking it on your own, you can flavor it to your own taste.

One whole chicken
olive oil
seasoning of your choice
one lemon


Remove giblets from chicken. Rinse inside and outside of chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Rub chicken with olive oil and season to your liking (I used a little sea salt, some poultry seasoning, and some fresh rosemary).

Place chicken  in crockpot. Cut the lemon in half, squeeze some of the juice over the chicken, and place the lemon halves inside the chicken. Cook on low for 6-7 hours or on high for 4 hours. The chicken will release a lot of juices, so if you have a rack that fits in your crockpot, you can place it on the rack to elevate it a little. you can also place it on some aluminum foil balls to elevate it if you wish. Remove and discard the lemon when the chicken is finished cooking.