Tomorrow is my four year "blogiversary"! Is it weird that I have been blogging about what I eat for dinner for four years? ;) Oh well, it makes me happy, and I always hope that my menus and recipes are helpful for others as well.

Our family had a nice Christmas. Both of my brothers and their families came home this year, and we all spent the holiday with my mom. It was a little different this year without my dad, but we had a good time remembering him together. My mom was able to postpone this past week's chemo treatment, so she was feeling so much better and we all had a great time together eating lots of great food. :)

This coming week Corey and I are still off of school. We will have a couple of days of at home, and then back to hang out with Mom over the weekend since she has to make up the skipped treatment. My menu this week is still going to be a bit scattered since we won't be home much. I'm hoping to get some advanced planning done this week for January since it tends to be one of our busiest months of the year.

Here's this week's menu. Enjoy and have a great week! Be sure to follow me on Facebook to get fast updates from the blog. :)

Sunday - Christmas dinner at Mom's
Monday - Leftovers from Christmas weekend
Tuesday - Grilled Bruschetta Chicken, Broccoli, Salad

Wednesday - Family Night Out

Thursday - Taco Bake, Salad, Peaches

Friday - Steak, Baked Potatoes, Green Beans, Salad

Saturday - Homemade Pizza, Salad, Fruit

I usually do not like gingersnaps. Not at all! They are just too crunchy and the spices are too strong. This cookie still has that holiday feeling with the smell of cinnamon, but they are a wonderfully chewy cookie - just the way cookies should be in my opinion. :)

3/4 cups butter or margarine, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup original molasses
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
additional granulated sugar for rolling cookies


In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar.  Add egg and beat well.  Add molasses, mix well.  Combine flour, baking soda, salt and spices; add to creamed mixture and mix well.  Chill dough overnight.  Shape into 1-inch balls; roll in sugar.  Place two inches apart on ungreased baking sheets.  Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until edges begin to brown.  Allow cookies to cool for two minutes before removing to a wire rack. Makes 3 and 1/2 dozen cookies. I usually double the batch. :)

My schedule this is a bit unpredictable. We're not sure when we will be at our house and when we will be visiting with family. So believe it or not, I'm not making an actual meal plan. I know, that's very unlike me. :) But, I do finally get to make some cookies for Christmas since we are out of school, so I'm going to share my cookie baking plan with you this week instead of a meal plan.

Now, my Christmas baking may be pretty different than many. I don't make fancy iced cookies, or bourbon balls, or weird jam thumbprints, etc. I stick with the basics that I know I'm going to enjoy eating, and that the people I share them with will enjoy eating. :) Yes, that means lots of chocolate chip cookies. You can't go wrong with chocolate chip. As a matter of fact, I think almost all of my holiday cookies will have chocolate in them. Almost. I am going to make some gingersnaps for my hubby - sans chocolate. :)

So here's my cast of characters for my cookie baking adventure:

Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Double Chocolate Cake Mix Cookies

Double Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Hot Chocolate Chip Cookies

Mint Chocolate Crinkles


White Chocolate Kissed Gingerbread Cookies

Enjoy and have a great week! Be sure to follow me on Facebook to get fast updates from the blog. :)

For more menu ideas, visit  

It's the last week of school before Christmas vacation! I'm so ready to have some time off to spend with family. I haven't had a chance to do my holiday baking yet, so I can't wait to get in the kitchen and bake up some of my favorite cookies. Hopefully my neighbors don't think I've forgotten them this year. Because of schedules this year, we decided not to do Christmas cards. I feel a little bit like a slacker, but circumstances just didn't allow for them. If I can at least get my cookie baking in, I'll feel a little more in the Christmas spirit. :) I did get to bring some of my chocolate chip cookies when Mom and I went to the cancer center this week, and they were a big hit with the nurses and patients. It's nice when something as simple as cookies can make someone smile when they are dealing with something pretty terrible.

This week's menu has lots of comfort foods. It has been a bit chilly lately, so I'm craving some nice warm meals that make me think of home. They're also good because I can get more than one meal out of them. We love leftovers at our house. Here's this week's menu. Enjoy and have a great week! Be sure to follow me on Facebook to get fast updates from the blog. :)

Sunday - Slow Cooker Roast and Gravy, Day Before Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans, Salad

Monday - Chili, Salad, Peaches

Tuesday - Loaded Baked Potatoes (using leftovers from Sunday and Monday), Salad, Applesauce

Wednesday - Lemon Thyme Chicken, Rice, Green Beans, Peaches

Thursday - Going out for Sushi! (Corey has an Academic team meet)

Friday - Homemade Pizza, Salad

Saturday - Honey Roasted Pork Tenderloin, Broccoli, Salad, Strawberries

For more menu ideas, visit  

I'm short on time tonight, so this will be a quickie post. School schedule is pretty busy this week, plus it's my weekend to be at my mom's. Eric's parents came for a quick visit this weekend, which was very nice. The menu this week is simple because of the busy schedule. So, here it is. :) Enjoy and have a great week! Be sure to follow me on Facebook to get fast updates from the blog. :)

Sunday - Mexican Gumbo, Strawberries
Monday - Lasagna (from the freezer), Salad
Tuesday - Apple Butter Glazed Chicken, Green Beans, Salad
Wednesday - Walking Tacos (get small bags of Doritos, crunch them in the bag, add taco meat and taco toppings of your choice and eat out of the bag), Peaches
Thursday - Leftover lasagna, salad
Friday - Mom's choice; Boys on their own
Saturday - Mom's choice

For more menu ideas, visit  
I have to admit, I'm pretty sad that the Thanksgiving holiday is over. I love getting together with family and enjoying great food. We started our Thanksgiving by doing the Turkey Trot 5K in Springfield. Eric and I both got a 5K PR, and Corey had another good run after coming off of an injury during cross country. It's a very fun race because of all of the families spending time together doing something good for their bodies. There were over 8000 people there this year!

After the race, we headed to my mom's house in Monett. My brother Kevin and his family joined us, and we had a great time together. The weather was gorgeous so we all took a walk together after our dinner. My family stayed through the weekend to help mom get the house ready for Christmas. It was definitely a weekend focused on family, which is my favorite.

This week's menu has a couple of new items, so check back later to see photos. I have book club later in the week, and Eric's parents will be visiting on the weekend. Here's this week's menu. Enjoy and have a great week! Be sure to follow me on Facebook to get fast updates from the blog. :)

Sunday - Beef Fajitas, Strawberries (yes, I found some out of season that were good!)
Monday - Turkey and Dumpling Casserole, Green Beans, Salad
Tuesday - Leftovers from Monday
Wednesday - Baked Cheddar Chicken with Cream Sauce, Broccoli, Salad
Thursday -Salisbury Steak, Day Before Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans, Salad
Friday - Book club - I will be making Sausage Potato Soup
Saturday - Steak, Baked Potatoes, Green Beans, Salad

For more menu ideas, visit  
I've seen this recipe in several places online, and I adapted it to make it somewhat lower in calories.


4 3 oz. chicken breasts
1 sleeve reduced fat Ritz crackers
1/8 t pepper
1/2 C skim milk
4 oz. reduced fat cheddar cheese, grated
1 t dried parsley


1 can reduced fat cream of chicken soup
2 T fat free sour cream


In a gallon size baggie, smash ritz crackers into crumbs.
Pour the milk, cheese and cracker crumbs into 3 separate small pans. Toss the pepper into the cracker crumbs and stir the mixture around to combine.
Dip each piece of chicken into the milk, cheese & crumbs in succession.
Spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray and lay the chicken inside the pan.
Sprinkle the dried parsley over the chicken.
Cover the pan with tin foil and bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes.
Combine the sauce ingredients into a microwaveable safe dish, and cook until warm.
Spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve.
I thought this would be a great way to use some of the leftover turkey from Thanksgiving. You could also use chicken (leftover rotisserie chicken would be perfect). It really does taste just like chicken and dumplings! Yum!

3-4 cups of cooked chicken or turkey
2 cups low fat, low sodium chicken broth
2 T unsalted butter
1 cup flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup skim milk
1 can Campbell's reduced fat cream of chicken soup

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Melt butter in the microwave and pour that into the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch baking pan. Shred the chicken and spread it on top of the butter.

Whisk together the milk and the flour, baking powder and salt. Slowly pour over the chicken.  Don't stir.

Whisk together chicken broth and cream of chicken soup. Very carefully pour over the flour and milk mixture.  Don't stir.

Bake uncovered at 400 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes, or until top is light golden brown.

Recipe adapted from Plain Chicken
This pasta dish is my take on French onion soup - pasta style. :) It's loaded with super foods - caramelized onions and tons of yummy mushrooms. I use a high-fiber pasta, so this is pretty good for you. Even the hubby liked this one. I love when I make up a recipe and it is successful.


4 oz. Ronzoni Smart Taste Spaghetti Noodles
1 yellow onion, sliced thin
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup white wine
2 t. olive oil
1 T reduced fat parmesan cheese
1 t parsley


Cook pasta according to package directions.

While the pasta is cooking, saute the onions in a non-stick skillet sprayed with olive oil over medium  heat. Cook until they are well-caramelized. Add the sliced mushrooms, garlic and wine, cover and cook until the mushrooms are soft.

Drain the pasta and mix in with the mushroom and onion mixture. Mix in the olive oil and Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Makes 2 servings.
Thanksgiving dinner this year will be at my mom's house, but I still get to help cook (thanks, Mom!). :) I'm not going to experiment as much as I did last year (I haven't been watching Food Network), and instead, I'm going to focus on family favorites. Here's what's on the menu:

Turkey (stuffed this year) with Savory Sausage Stuffing

Sausage and Stuffing Criss-Cross Pastry (maybe)

Hot Rolls

Cream Cheese Corn

Green Beans Almondine

Day Before Mashed Potatoes


Pumpkin and Cream Cheese Roll-Up

I have to admit, I'm not a pie person. I'm especially not a pumpkin pie person. This isn't usually a problem until Thanksgiving comes around. Then, everyone expects you to eat pumpkin pie for dessert. Don't get me wrong - I'm not opposed to pumpkin - I just don't like it in pie form. I'm always on the lookout for alternative recipes to make for Thanksgiving instead of pumpkin pie. This year, I've decided on this one. I haven't made a pumpkin and cream cheese roll-up for years (which is why you are just now seeing this on the blog), but I love them. Moist pumpkin cake swirled with cream cheese filling - yum!

3/4 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin
Cream Cheese Filling (recipe follows)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 15x10x1 inch jelly-roll pan. Line with parchment paper/waxed paper; grease and flour the paper.

2. Sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg, and salt into bowl. Set aside.

3. Beat eggs and sugar in large bowl until thick and fluffy; beat in pumpkin. Stir in sifted dry ingredients all at once. Pour into prepared pan; spread evenly with rubber spatula.

4. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes or until center springs back when lightly touched with a fingertip.

5. Loosen cake around edges with a knife. Invert onto clean damp towel dusted with confectioners sugar; peel off wax paper. Trip ¼ inch from all sides. Roll up cake and towel together from short side. Place seam-side down on wire rack; cool completely.

6. Unroll cake. Spread with Cream Cheese Filling. Reroll cake. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Cream Cheese Filling:
Beat together 1 cup sifted confectioners sugar, 1 8 oz. package softened cream cheese, 6 tablespoons butter, and 1 teaspoon vanilla until smooth.
Last year around Thanksgiving, I watched a lot of Thanksgiving cooking specials on Food Network. I'm not sure why, because I really don't watch a lot of television, but I did. And, it got me to experiment with some different recipes for my Thanksgiving dinner menu. I tried a new stuffing recipe (it was ok, but I prefer my mom's recipe, or even better yet, my stuffing roll), I roasted fresh Brussels sprouts, and I made a "fancy" roux for my gravy (and yes, I forgot to get photos of these items in my rush to get dinner on the table). Now, you know me, I don't usually make a lot of stuff that calls for butter or pan drippings, but I have to admit, this was the best gravy I've ever made. Before adding the roux (recipe below), I deglazed my pan with a little white wine, added in a little water, and heated it through. I then whisked in the cooled roux. Best gravy ever! Follow the directions exactly (adjust proportions to match your needs), and you'll have an amazing, lump-free gravy that your family will love.

4 tablespoons of pan drippings and/or butter
6 tablespoons flour

Heat fat or over medium high heat. Add flour all at once whisking vigorously. When mixture thins and starts to bubble, reduce heat to low and cut back on the whisking. Cook until you smell a toasty aroma then cook 2 minutes more, stirring occasionally.

Roux can be used immediately to thicken a liquid that is at or below room temperature. To thicken a hot liquid, allow roux to cool to room temperature, or refrigerate.

Tightly wrapped, roux can be refrigerated for up to a month. Simply break off pieces and use as needed.

Makes enough roux to thicken 1 pint of liquid.

Recipe source - Alton Brown
This is my mom's recipe for stuffing that she always uses to stuff the turkey on Thanksgiving. I modify it slightly by using turkey sausage (lower calorie), and I don't chop up the giblets and put them in the stuffing (just grosses me out). My family loves this stuffing and looks forward to eating it every year. I'll try to snap a photo in a couple of days. :)

Heart, neck, gizzard, and liver of turkey (you'll find these in the giblet packet in your turkey)
1 pound turkey sausage
1 onion, diced
1 cup celery, diced
2 loaves of bread, toasted and diced (I use Sara Lee 45 Calories & Delightful 100% Whole Wheat with Honey - lower calorie and higher fiber than using white bread)
2 eggs
½ teaspoon poultry seasoning

Boil heart, neck, gizzard and liver in water until done (approx. 1 ½ hours). Take neck meat off the bone, and chop up the rest of the giblets very tiny or puree in the blender if you don't want "chunks" (NOTE: I leave this out - too gross for me.). Save the cooking liquid.

Fry the following together until soft: sausage, chopped meat from above (which I omit), onion, celery.

In a very large bowl, mix with your hands: bread, eggs, fried ingredients, poultry seasoning, and 1 cup leftover cooking liquid.

Stuff body and neck of turkey with dressing mixture and cook turkey according to package directions.
Well, my "catch-up" menu from last week wasn't the most successful menu. :( My goal was to make the recipes I had skipped in some recent weeks. Three of the four items listed were new recipes -Chicken Enchilada SpaghettiGnocchi with Sausage and Spinach, and  Biscuit Pizza Pot Pie. The chicken enchilada spaghetti is the only thing I would make again. The other two were definitely fails for my family. I still posted the recipes, though, because maybe they will be good for someone else, and I like to show that not everything you try in your kitchen is going to be a success. :)

This week is a short week for us at school. Corey and I are off for Thanksgiving vacation starting Wednesday, and our family will be with my mom from Thursday-Sunday. This past weekend we spent in St. Louis with Eric's family, so needless to say, I didn't get a chance to go to the grocery store or make up a menu. We're going to call this week's menu "scrounge" week. I'm just going to wing it a bit until Thanksgiving, and then I plan on eating leftovers. :) Here's this week's menu. I know it may not be that helpful, but I share it with you anyway to show you that we all have crazy weeks where we have to be creative. Enjoy and have a great week! Be sure to follow me on Facebook to get fast updates from the blog. :)

Sunday - Rotisserie chicken (from Wal Mart), Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans
Monday - French Onion Pasta with Mushrooms and White Wine (sounds fancy, doesn't it? - I'm making this up, so we'll see how it goes. If it's successful, I'll post a recipe later.), Brussels Sprouts, Peaches, Salad
Tuesday - Mini Pigs in a Blanket (turkey little smokies wrapped in reduced fat crescents - told you I was scrounging), Applesauce, Green Beans
Wednesday - Hamburgers on the grill (I have some patties I pre-made in the freezer), French Fries, Apples
Thursday - Thanksgiving (I'll post a separate Thanksgiving menu later tonight)
Friday - Leftovers
Saturday - More leftovers :)

For more menu ideas, visit  
Thanksgiving season always means lots of extra cooking, and for me, it starts now. :) This week at school we are doing a fundraiser for United Way that involves some cooking contests and special luncheons. I also have to teach two after-school computer workshops, and my friend Stefanie and I are in charge of Friday morning snacks for the faculty. That means lots of extra cooking this week.

This was my weekend with my mom. She had a Bunco party this weekend, so I made a fun appetizer to share with her guests. Be sure to check out these BLT Roll-ups. They are quick and easy to make, and they are very tasty.

I'll share some of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes soon, so be sure to check back later in the week.

For our family menu, I'm going to try to go back to the recipes that I skipped the last couple of weeks for various reasons. Because of my evening workshop obligations, I will be making most of these things ahead of time on Sunday so I can just heat them up as needed this week for dinners. Here's this week's menu. Enjoy and have a great week! Be sure to follow me on Facebook to get fast updates from the blog. :)

Sunday - Chicken Enchilada Spaghetti, Salad, Peaches
Monday - Gnocchi with Sausage and Spinach, Salad, Applesauce
Tuesday - Biscuit Pizza Pot Pie, Green Beans, Salad
Wednesday - Bacon Cheeseburger Potato Pie, Green Beans, Salad
Thursday - Leftovers
Friday - Eat at Grandma's
Saturday - Eat at Grandma's

For more menu ideas, visit  
Well, this recipe was definitely a fail for my family. We really didn't like the gnocchi at all. The texture was just too strange (not really a noodle, not really a dumpling, just weird), and it wasn't very flavorful. I have to admit that we actually dumped it and ate leftover chili instead. But, maybe this recipe will be good for someone else. Either way, I wanted to still share so that you know everyone has failures in the kitchen. This was a huge fail for me. :) (Even the photo was bad.)


1 package gnocchi
1/4 cup gnocchi cooking water
1 small onion, diced
3 links fully-cooked Artisan Fresh Mozzarella and Roasted Garlic Chicken Sausage, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tablespoons olive oil
4 cups baby spinach
1/4 cup Parmesan


1. Cook gnocchi according to package directions. Reserve 1/4 cup cooking water before draining.

2. Sauté onions in large skillet over medium heat until they begin to soften, about 3-4 minutes. Add chicken sausage. Allow the sausage to brown and heat through, stirring occasionally. Add in garlic and baby spinach, toss and continue to cook until spinach is wilted.

3. Add cooked gnocchi into the skillet with the sausage and spinach, top with olive oil and the reserved cooking water. Mix together. Top with Parmesan.

Recipe adapted from Fake Ginger
These are a tasty appetizer, especially if you can use fresh tomatoes from the garden. Make them healthier by using low-fat/high fiber tortillas, reduced fat cream cheese, and light mayo.


8 oz. reduced fat cream cheese
1/2 cup light mayo
8-10 slices center cut bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 cup chopped tomatoes
4 eight-inch flour tortillas (I use Mission carb balance)
1 cup shredded romaine lettuce


Mix the cream cheese and mayo in a bowl. Add the crumbled bacon and diced tomatoes. Spread mixture on tortillas and top with lettuce. Roll up tightly and refrigerate for an hour. Slice into 1/2 inch slices.

Recipe adapted from Kraft

What a wonderful weekend we had! Corey went on the state cross country trip and enjoyed being with the team. Eric and I had a great date night at our favorite local sushi restaurant. And today, our family had a great time running the Bass Pro 5K(Corey and me) and Half Marathon (Eric). Eric and I both got a PR in our races, and Corey was able to run a great race after being out of commission this cross country season due to an injury. He placed 7th in his division, and 29th overall. On top of that, my brother ran the New York marathon in under 4 hours! What a great race day for our family.

Now that cross country season is over, our evening schedule will lighten up a bit. We do have a couple of extra obligations this week, but it's so much better than it has been. Our best news is that after three-and-a-half years, Corey finally gets his braces off tomorrow. If only it was still corn on the cob season. ;) He is so excited. This is my weekend to play personal chef for my mom, so I'll have to see what I come up with for the weekend menu. :)

Last week's stuffed pork chops were wonderful. I promise to have pictures up soon. I didn't get to the pizza pot pies, but I'll put them back on the menu soon. Here's this week's menu. Enjoy and have a great week! Be sure to follow me on Facebook to get fast updates from the blog. :)

Sunday - Brisket with Burgundy Sauce, Baked Potatoes, Green Beans
Monday - Chicken and Noodles, Green Beans, Salad
Tuesday - Pork Medallions with Cider Sauce, Green Beans, Salad, Apple Sauce
Wednesday -Chicken Enchilada Spaghetti, Broccoli, Salad, Peaches
Thursday - Cross Country Banquet/Book Club
Friday - Boys eat leftovers; Mom's choice :)
Saturday - Braided Spaghetti Bread, Broccoli, Salad

For more menu ideas, visit  

This was easy and pretty tasty. I needed to use up some extra pasta, so you'll see spaghetti and wide noodles in the picture.


1/2 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1 pound of dry whole wheat spaghetti
2 10-ounce cans of red enchilada sauce
4 oz freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese
cilantro for topping

Boil water for pasta and prepare pasta according to directions.

While pasta is cooking, heat a large skillet over medium heat and saute onions until soft, about 5-6 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes, then stir in chicken, cumin, cayenne, paprika and chili powder, along with the cans of enchilada sauce. Turn the heat down to low, drain the cooked pasta, then add pasta to the skillet. Fold in cheese and mix thoroughly to combine. Toss with a set of kitchen tongs until everything is mixed, then serve with a bunch of fresh cilantro.

Recipe modified from How Sweet It Is
What a beautiful fall we are having in the Ozarks. I can't tell you how spectacular the trees look on my daily commute to Branson each day. The temperatures have been nice and brisk in the morning and mild in the afternoons. I love it! It definitely puts me in the mood for comfort food. :)

Our schedule is actually a bit lighter this week. No extra evening obligations! That never happens at our house. Next weekend we have our first family run in a long time. Corey and I are running the Bass Pro 5K, and Eric is running the half marathon. Fun stuff! So, yes, we will be eating pasta this week. :)

I do have a few new recipes this week, so check back soon for photos. Here's this week's menu. Enjoy and have a great week! Be sure to follow me on Facebook to get fast updates from the blog. :)

Sunday - Bacon Cheeseburger Potato Pie, Green Beans, Salad
Monday - Chicken with White Wine and Mushrooms on noodles (still finishing the freezer stash), Broccoli, Salad
Tuesday - Stuffed Pork Chops, Green Beans, Salad, Applesauce
Wednesday - Orange Teriyaki Chicken (from freezer), Rice, Broccoli, Salad
Thursday - Teriyaki Round Steak (from freezer), Cheddar Potato Strips, Green Beans, Salad
Friday - Biscuit Pizza Pot Pie, Salad, Peaches
Saturday - Spaghetti with Meatballs, Broccoli, Salad

For more menu ideas, visit
These flourless cookies are very low fat (not low calorie). If you use gluten free vanilla, then you can share these with friends who are not allowed to eat gluten.

2 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup cocoa powder
3 large egg whites
2 teaspoons vanilla extract


1) Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two baking sheets. Or line with parchment, and grease the parchment.

2) Stir together all of the ingredients till smooth. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, and stir again till smooth.

3) Drop the soft, batter-like dough onto the prepared baking sheets in 1 1/2" circles; a tablespoon cookie scoop works well here.

4) Bake the cookies for 8 minutes; they should spread, become somewhat shiny, and develop faintly crackly tops.

5) Remove the cookies from the oven, and allow them to cool right on the pan.

6) Yield: 16 large (3") cookies.

Note: You can add up to 2 cups of chocolate chips to the recipe, but they will lose the "no fat" status. Increase cooking time by 2 minutes if you add the chips.

Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour

Every year when it gets close to Thanksgiving, I start craving stuffing. I decided to make some stuffed pork chops to help curb my craving until the holiday arrives. This simple recipe utilizes boxed stuffing (I'm not picky about stuffing - boxed stuffing works great to help satisfy a craving) to make a quick meal.

4 lean boneless pork loin chops, relatively thick cut
1 box stuffing with seasoning, prepared according to instructions
garlic powder and pepper for seasoning the meat

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Prepare the stuffing per instructions.

Slice pockets into the pork chops by slicing horizontally in the side, but be sure not to cut all the way through.
Season the pork with garlic powder and pepper, then stuff with stuffing.

Spray a large oven safe skillet with nonstick spray and turn heat to medium. Sear the pork chops on one side for 3-4 minutes until golden brown. Flip the chops and place the skillet in the oven for 9 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from the oven and let the meat rest for 3-5 minutes before serving.

Well, I have to admit, this is another recipe that didn't live up to my expectations. Don't get me wrong, it tastes fine, but it was nothing to get excited about. They do look pretty, though. :)

1lb turkey sausage or turkey Italian sausage
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cups pizza sauce
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms (optional - I have to leave them out because Corey doesn't eat them)
4 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
1 can Pillsbury Flaky Layers Biscuits (you will only use 4 in the recipe - I cook up the extras and use for breakfast the next day)
4 teaspoons shredded or grated Parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 400°F. Grease two 10-oz custard cups or 12-oz (1 1/2-cup) casseroles.

In 8-inch skillet, cook sausage and onion over medium-high heat 5 to 7 minutes, stirring frequently, until meat is thoroughly cooked; drain.

Stir in pizza sauce and mushrooms; heat to boiling, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Spoon mixture into casseroles. Sprinkle 1 oz mozzarella cheese on each. Top  each with uncooked biscuit; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Place custard cups on cookie sheet with sides.

Bake 10-15 minutes until biscuits are browned.

Recipe adapted from Pillsbury
I should call this freezer meal week. I have meetings before and after school every day this week, and I'm spending the weekend with my mom. So, freezer to the rescue again. It's kind of a good thing, though. I'm kind of getting tired of my pre-marinated meats, so I'm glad to be getting rid of them. I'm not sure that I will do that again when I next stock my freezer. They are ok, but the marinades kind of dominate the meats since they have been frozen that way. I know a lot of people really like them, but I think I prefer to marinate on the day I'm going to cook. :)

Here's this week's menu. Enjoy and have a great week! Be sure to follow me on Facebook to get fast updates from the blog. :)

Sunday - Honey Baked Pork Chops, Green Beans, Salad
Monday - Lemony Round Steak, Crock Pot Baked Potatoes, Broccoli, Salad
Tuesday - Tequila Lime Chicken Fajitas, Salad, Peaches
Wednesday - Pub House Steak & Cheese Sandwiches, Steak Fries, Green Beans, Salad
Thursday - Cranberry Catalina Chicken (cooked in crock pot), Rice, Broccoli, Salad
Friday - Boys: Tuna Noodle Casserole, Green Beans, Salad - Me & Mom: Beef Stew
Saturday - Eat at Mom's - Tacos

For more menu ideas, visit
Another busy October week is on the books. ;) I got to spend the weekend being personal chef again for my mom, and we volunteered at Monett's community kitchen. What a great service offered in that town! The boys were busy with work, cross country and homework obligations. It will be nice next month when we will actually have some weekends together.

I did get a chance to try my new cookie recipe. They were pretty good. I had to modify the cooking time, and I didn't slice the cookies (I used my cookie scoop and then flattened them) like the recipe said, but they were definitely a tasty treat that I will make again.If you like peanut butter and chocolate, give these cookies a try.

This week I'm using a new product in a couple of my meals. Last weekend I got suckered in by the free samples at Sam's club, and I bought some Artisan Fresh Mozzarella and Roasted Garlic Chicken Sausage. They tasted pretty darn good and are only 130 calories per link! We are grilling some tonight for sandwiches, and later in the week I'll be trying them in a new pasta dish. We have a couple of nights where it just won't be possible to eat at home, but at least they are for good activities (Corey's NHS induction and his MSA reunion).

  Here's this week's menu. Enjoy and have a great week! Be sure to follow me on Facebook to get fast updates from the blog. :)

Sunday - Grilled Mozarella and Garlic Chicken Sausage on a bun, Green Beans, Salad
Monday - Eat out (National Honor Society induction)
Tuesday - Fajitas, Salad, Peaches
Wednesday - Gnocchi with Sausage and Spinach (recipe coming soon), Broccoli, Salad
Thursday - Chili (from freezer), Salad, Applesauce
Friday - Marsala Burgers, French Fries, Salad
Saturday - Eat out (MSA reunion)

For more menu ideas, visit
I'm a little late this year, but I finally had a day where I could do my annual apple pie baking. Each fall I bake up a bunch of apple pies to bring to my neighbors. It's a fun family tradition for us, and it's always nice to bring someone a treat that they are not expecting.

We have another week filled with cross country meets, library events, book club, band contests, and weekend with my mom, so the menu is based on needing to cook things that create leftovers. Luckily, I have lasagnas in my freezer, and we can eat on one of those things for days. :)

 Here's this week's menu. Enjoy and have a great week! Be sure to follow me on Facebook to get fast updates from the blog. :)

Sunday - Creamy Chicken Breasts, Green Beans, Salad, Strawberries
Monday - Lasagna (from freezer), Broccoli, Salad, Peaches
Tuesday - Leftover chicken from Sunday (cross country and reading night)
Wednesday - Crockpot Cowboy Stew, Salad, Applesauce
Thursday - Leftover Lasagna (book club)
Friday - Boys eat leftovers (I will be with my mom)
Saturday - Stroganoff Superb (with mom - boys eat out), Green Beans, Salad

For more menu ideas, visit  
This isn't really a recipe, but I made this snack mix last week for a school event, and I've had several people ask me for the "recipe" so here it is. :)

1 bag snyders square pretzels
1 box reduced fat cheese-itz
1 bag fall candy corn mix (candy corn and pumpkins)
1 can party peanuts (the salty kind, not sweet)
2 bags white chocolate candy corn M & Ms (would be better with chocolate ones, but I was trying to be festive)
This is a new recipe for me, and it recommends chilling the dough for at least 24 hours before baking. Once I made these, I did think the recipe directions needed a couple of changes. It recommends slicing the dough, which simple does not work because of the candy pieces. I used a cookie scoop like I would with regular chocolate chip cookies. They also took longer to bake than the recipe calls for. The next time I made them, I did not refrigerate them, and I increased the temperature to 375. They were very tasty cookies.

1 3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup candy-coated peanut butter candy (i.e. Reese's Pieces)


1. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.

2. With a stand mixer or large mixing bowl, beat together the butter, peanut butter, white sugar, brown sugar, vanilla and egg until it’s smooth.

3. Gently beat in the dry ingredients until the dough forms. Add in the chocolate chips and the candy-coated peanut butter candy.

4. Place a piece of wax or parchment paper on a clean surface and spoon the dough onto the middle of the paper. Form the dough into a long log and then fold the paper over the dough, wrapping it inside the paper. Let the wrapped dough sit in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours before slicing and baking. NOTE: I do not do this step when making these cookies. I just mix up the batter as directed, and then use a cookie scoop like I would for regular chocolate chip cookies.

5. To freeze the dough, let it sit in the fridge for 24 hours, then transfer it to the freezer.

6. To bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and cut the dough into 1/4 inch circles. NOTE: I heat the oven to 375 degrees (and of course, as noted in step 4, I don't slice the dough, I scoop it). Bake in the preheated oven for 9 to 11 minutes. If baking from frozen dough, bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Cool the cookies on a cooling rack before serving.

Recipe Source - S.C. Johnson
Another crazy week completed, and the next one is ready to begin.I feel like that's how I've started each of my blog posts lately. I guess that's the way of life, but business is much better than boredom. Luckily we've had some beautiful weekends that reinvigorate you after the work week.

I spent the weekend with mom and got to be her personal chef. :) It's always nice to cook for someone who appreciates your food. The fall weather inspired me to try a couple of new recipes that turned out great. Be sure to check out my Apple Cider Donuts and Pumpkin Monkey Bread. Yum!

This week we have activities every night. Again, I am so thankful for my freezer stash. It's really going to come in handy. Here's this week's menu. Enjoy and have a great week! Be sure to follow me on Facebook to get fast updates from the blog. :)

Sunday - Eat at Mom's

Monday - Spaghetti Chili (chili from freezer), Salad, Strawberries
Tuesday - "Chunk Free" Chili (from freezer), Salad, Peaches
Wednesday - Creamy Ranch Pork Chops with Ranch Rice, Green Beans, Salad
Thursday - Orange Teriyaki Chicken (from freezer), Broccoli, Salad, Applesauce
Friday - Grilled Italian Chicken Sandwich (chicken is already cooked and in freezer - I will post my adaptation of this recipe later),
Saturday -Potato Nachos (again, I will post my adaptation later), Salad, Fruit

For more menu ideas, visit   
What screams fall more than apples? Why, pumpkin! In addition to making some yummy apple cider donuts today while at my mom's house, I also tried this recipe for pumpkin monkey bread. I love regular monkey bread, but I hardly ever make it because it's so not good for you. But, I couldn't resist the temptation to make this new twist on the original while I was on my fall baking spree. It turned out great! It has a very mild pumpkin and spice flavor, and still has the cinnamon sugar gooey goodness that I love in regular monkey bread. If you have some extra pumpkin and some extra time, give this one try.


For the dough:

3 1/4 cups flour, plus extra for kneading
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup warm milk (105-110 degrees)
1/4 cup warm water (105-110 degrees)
2/3 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup sugar
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast

For the coating:

1 cup sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 stick butter, melted

For the glaze:

2/3 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
2 Tbsp apple cider (you could also use milk)

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and spices.
In another large bowl, whisk together the milk, water, pumpkin, melted butter, sugar, and yeast.

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add in the wet ingredients. Using a wooden spoon, gently stir until the dough comes together. Turn out on to a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. (I combined the ingredients in my Kitchen Aid Mixer using the dough hook, and just kneaded it slightly). Spray a clean bowl with cooking spray and place the dough inside.

Cover and let rise until doubled in size, about an hour.

In the meantime, mix together the cinnamon and sugar, and melt the butter for the coating. Spray a bundt pan with cooking spray. Once the dough has risen, shape the ball into a large rectangle. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into roughly equal-sized pieces and roll each piece into a ball (about 40 pieces).

Dip each ball of dough into the melted butter and then the cinnamon-sugar mixture, layering them in the bundt pan as you go.

Once you’ve used all the dough, cover the bundt pan and let the dough rise again for another hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the bread until golden brown, 30-35 minutes. Let cool for 5-10 minutes before turning out on to a platter. To make the glaze, stir together the powdered sugar, maple syrup, and cider. Pour over the bread while it’s still warm.

Recipe adapted from Sugarcrafter
I spent the weekend with my mom, and it was a perfect fall weekend. Fall always makes me want to bake, especially things that make your house smell like fall. Basically, that means anything with cinnamon. :) So, this morning I finally broke in my new Wilton donut pans and made some delicious apple cider donuts. I don't usually eat donuts because fried foods don't get along with my stomach. But these yummy baked donuts were the perfect solution. Give them a try. Your family will love you for it.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup apple butter
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/3 cup apple cider
1/3 cup fat free sour cream

For glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
4 T apple cider

Spray your donut pan with no-stick spray (I used a Wilton regular-sized donut pan, which makes 6 donuts, and a Wilton mini donut pan, which makes 12 mini donuts. I had enough batter to make 6 more in the big pan.)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.
In a large bowl, whisk together the egg, brown sugar, apple butter, syrup, cider, and sour cream.
Fold the dry ingredients into wet ingredients, blending just until combined.
Pour batter into a gallon ziplock bag. Cut off one corner to use like a pastry bag. Pipe the batter into the donut pan cavities, about 2/3 full.

Bake in preheated oven about 10 minutes (mine took a little less).

While the donuts are baking, mix up the glaze. In a shallow bowl that is large enough to dip the donuts in later, combine the powdered sugar and apple cider until smooth. It is a glaze, so it will be thin.

When the donuts are cooked, flip out onto a cooling rack. Dip warm donuts into glaze and let them cool on cooling rack until glaze sets.

Serve with hot apple cider or hot chocolate for dunking. Yum!

This recipe made 12 regular donuts and 12 mini donuts using my Wilton donut pans.

Recipe adapted from Lemon Drop

I love fall - the cooler temperatures, the leaves crunching under my feet when hiking through the woods, baking with apples and pumpkin - it's just a good thing. :) This weekend we attempted to do our annual apple picking trip to Plaster's Orchard, but they closed too early on Saturday for us to make it. :( Instead, we loaded up the dogs and went for a short hike at our favorite Branson Trail - the Henning Homesteaders Trail. We've actually had a couple of rainy days this week, so there were some small waterfalls and a couple of great water holes for the dogs to cool off in along the trail. The weather was perfect for a hike, and it was a great way to shake of the stress of the work week.

By the way, I finally posted the recipes from my fondue party. Be sure to check them out. 

I have a pretty loaded week coming up. I have two computer workshops on different days after school, Corey has two cross country meets and a possible math contest, and I'll be spending a couple of days with my mom. I know I've said this a lot lately, but I'm SO glad I stocked my freezer right before school started. It is really saving me on these busy weeks. Hopefully this is a good example of how meal planning can keep you from eating out, even when you have a hectic schedule. :)

Here's this week's menu. Enjoy and have a great week! Be sure to follow me on Facebook to get fast updates from the blog. :)

Sunday - Honey Baked Pork Chops (from freezer), Green Beans, Salad, Strawberries
Monday - Shrimp Fra Diavolo (this keeps getting bumped - hopefully I'll actually make it), Broccoli, Salad, Peaches
Tuesday - Tequila Lime Chicken (from freezer), Green Beans, Salad, Strawberries
Wednesday -Sloppy Joes (from freezer), Steak Fries, Broccoli, Applesauce
Thursday - Teriyaki Steak, Green Beans, Baked Potatoes (cooked in crock pot), Salad
Friday - Chili (from freezer), Salad, Peaches
Saturday - Eat at Mom's

For more menu ideas, visit   

A couple of weeks ago, I hosted my book club at my house, and I served fondue for dinner. Fondue has been a tradition in my family for as long as I can remember. It was definitely a special occasion dinner, but it was a family favorite. My youngest brother always requested it for his birthday dinner, and I hosted a fondue party for my high school girlfriends at least once a year. Now, when my mom did fondue, she always served 3 courses - cheese, meat, and dessert. The cheese sauce was the appetizer, and was probably everyone's favorite. Her sauce was simple - a can of tomato soup mixed with a block of shredded cheddar cheese. It might sound strange, but trust me, it's yummy. She would cube up a loaf of French bread and that's what we dipped in the cheese sauce. The meat course was always beef, and it was cooked in oil. Yes, I know it's not healthy, but it was very good. She served it with three sauces - a garlic butter sauce, a horseradish sauce, and a BBQ sauce. The three sauces were served warm. Finally came the dessert - chocolate fondue. We usually dipped strawberries  or angel food cake in the chocolate sauce.

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that I try to be a relatively healthy eater, and fondue simply does not fit into that category. That's one of the main reasons I don't make it very often. When I decided to make it for my book club, I knew I wanted to make it a smidge healthier (and I stress the smidge part). One of my friends is pregnant, so I knew I couldn't use any alcohol in the recipes (and if you've ever looked for fondue recipes, you know that many of them call for various liquors in the sauces and cooking methods). So, here's what I came up with for my party. Enjoy!

Appetizer Course - Cheese Sauce with Bread, Celery, and Apple Dippers

White Cheese Fondue


2 cups grated Swiss cheese
2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
1 clove garlic, minced
3 Tb cornstarch
Dash of pepper
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup chicken broth

French bread, cubed
Celery sticks
Apple slices (dip in lemon juice or sprinkle with Fruit Fresh to keep them from browning)

Melt the cheeses in 1 3/4 cups chicken broth with garlic added. Keep broth barely under a boil, stirring until cheese is completely melted (it will be stringy).

Combine cornstarch, pepper, salt, nutmeg, Worcestershire sauce in 1/4 cup chicken broth. Add to cheese mixture, stirring until smooth. Put fondue mixture into a preheated fondue pot and keep at temperature hot enough to maintain desired texture without scorching.

Serve with bread cubes, apple slices, and celery sticks (raw broccoli and cauliflower florets are also good if you like them).

Main Course - Court Bouillon (used for cooking the meat instead of oil) with Ginger Soy Sauce, Horseradish Cream Sauce, and Honey Mustard Sauce

Court Bouillon Broth
Many court bouillon recipes call for white wine, so I substituted chicken broth to make it safe for my pregnant friend. :)


3 cups water
2 cups chicken stock (or white wine)
1 lemon, juiced
1 medium finely chopped onion
1/2 stalk finely chopped celery
1 clove finely chopped garlic
1 T fresh ground pepper
1 bay leaf

Cubed raw meat to cook in broth (I used chicken breasts and beef sirloin).

Whisk all ingredients together in a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain broth through sieve, discarding the vegetables, and pour liquid into fondue pot. Keep the heat at a high simmer to cook meat. Dip cooked meats into sauces.

Ginger Soy Sauce

1 cup lower sodium soy sauce
1 t chili sauce
2 T brown sugar
1/2 t ginger
1 cup orange juice

Whisk together all ingredients and chill until ready to serve. 

Horseradish Cream Sauce

1 cup fat free sour cream
3 T prepared horseradish
2 t fresh lemon juice
1/4 t Worcestershire sauce

Whisk together all ingredients and chill until ready to serve.

Honey Mustard Sauce

1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup Dijon mustard

Whisk together and chill until ready to serve. Bring to room temperature before serving or heat briefly in microwave.

Dessert Course - Chocolate Peanut Butter Fondue

1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

bananas (cut into bite sized chunks right before serving)
angel food cake


In a heavy saucepan, cook and stir the chocolate chips, sugar, milk and peanut butter over low heat until smooth. Transfer to a fondue pot and keep warm.

Fall is a crazy good time of the year. :) Crazy because of all the activities going on, and good because the weather is amazing! We finally got rain this weekend! If you aren't from the midwest, you may not know that we are in a severe drought. It has been the 3rd hottest summer on record, and we've had way too many 100+ degree days. Hopefully last Tuesday was our last of those. The crazy thing was that on Wednesday, the temperature got down to 46. Talk about extreme temperature changes! This weekend my brother from New York came to visit, so we spent the whole weekend at my mom's eating like pigs. :) It was even cold enough to turn on the fireplace, which gave the house a nice, cozy feel.

This is homecoming week at Corey's school, so he has a bunch of extra activities in the evenings. So, that means our meal plan will be a little goofy.

Here's this week's menu. Enjoy and have a great week! Be sure to follow me on Facebook to get fast updates from the blog. :)

Sunday - Eat at mom's (loved not having to cook this weekend!)
Monday - Ott's House Casserole (gotta carb up the boy for his CC meet tomorrow), Green Beans, Salad, Strawberries
Tuesday - Steak (will grill when we get home from the meet - it's in our town), Green Beans, Salad
Wednesday - Bacon Wrapped Grilled Chicken, Broccoli, Salad, Peaches
Thursday - Spaghetti Supper Fundraiser at school
Friday - Eat Out (Homecoming night)
Saturday - Steak Pizza (didn't get to it last week), Salad, Strawberries

For more menu ideas, visit  
Fall is definitely in the air. :) Our temperatures have been in the 70s for highs, and 50s for lows. Fabulous! Much better than the 100 degree temps we dealt with all summer. Monday was Labor Day, and we didn't have school. We took advantage of our day off and went for a run. I was feeling so good that I ran my first 10K ever! I was so proud of myself. The rest of the week was busy, but good. I had my book club fondue party on Thursday, and I finally finished sewing an apron for my friend Melissa on Saturday. Isn't she cute? :)

I'm continuing to use my freezer stash to get through my weekly meals. Back in August I did some serious freezer cooking to prepare for the busy days at the beginning of school. Here is my freezer before:

and here is my freezer after:

Pretty nice, huh! Anyway, having some meals ready to go really saves me this time of year. Later this week I will finally be taking my mom to the oncologist. We can definitely use some prayers for that one. And this weekend, my brother is coming to visit from New York! I'm very much looking forward to some family time this coming weekend.

Here's this week's menu. Enjoy and have a great week! Be sure to follow me on Facebook to get fast updates from the blog. :)

Sunday - Chicken with White Wine and Mushrooms, Green Beans, Peaches, Salad
Monday - Spaghetti with Meatballs, Broccoli, Salad, Strawberries
Tuesday - Shrimp Fra Diavolo, Broccoli, Salad, Applesauce
Wednesday - Orange Teriyaki Chicken, Green Beans, Salad, Peaches
Thursday - Steak Pizza, Salad, Fruit Salad
Friday -Eat at Mom's (Sauerkraut and Dumplings - Yum!)
Saturday - Eat at Mom's

For more menu ideas, visit