Sharing our food successes and failures, new recipes and old favorites
...and throwing in some great money-saving deals here and there!

Friday, December 31, 2010

Cooking Extravaganza!

A wonderful friend of mine, Katie (yes, the one who gave us the hit dish Cornbread Chicken Enchiladas), is having a little baby girl in February. In her ever-so-responsible nature, she decided she wanted to freeze a whole bunch of meals so that when she and baby return home, her husband wouldn't be burdened with all the cooking and she wouldn't be even more overwhelmed with cooking on top of all the other new tasks. What better way to spend a Thursday than cooking with a great friend?!

Naturally, it's important to cook on a full stomach, so we swung to Qdobas and picked up some burritos for lunch. We also needed to get some storage containers for her food, so we hit the Target attached to the Springfield Mall. Let me tell you what - it's a two-story store (which I've never seen before) AND the coolest part was that in between the escalators in the middle, there was one for the cart?!? I was so amused watching the carts go up and down alongside the people. It's the little things that amuse me...

Anyways, we got home, scarfed down food and then went to work (oh, right, and we took a chocolate fondue break...yummmm!). We made a black bean pie (thanks to Barb C. for that recipe!), a chicken pot pie (not traditional PA Dutch...the stereotypical kind), a chicken-noodle bake, meatloaf and lasagna. When it was all said and done we had enough food for at least 15 days worth of dinners! I'd say it was a resounding success. We're hoping to get one more all-day session in so she has a  good month's worth of food.

Here's our prep area:

Here are recipes for everything we did and some photos recapping our fun :)

Black Bean Pie
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 small green bell pepper, chopped
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained
2/3 cup salsa
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
3/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 (9 inch) unbaked 9 inch pie crusts
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). 
  2. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Sauté onion and green pepper until tender. Sir in beans, salsa, red bell pepper, chili powder, cayenne and black pepper. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. 
  3. Spoon half of the mixture into one of the pie crusts and cover with half of the cheese. Repeat with remaining beans and cheese. Top with remaining crust. 
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour. 
  5. Let it sit for about 5 or 10 minutes before cutting into it so that it has a chance to firm up. 

Pre-cooked pie:

Me in my cooking glory:

Chicken Pot Pie
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cubed
1 cup sliced carrots
3/4 cup frozen green peas
1/2 cup sliced celery
3 medium potatoes
1 bullion cube
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
2/3 cup milk
2 (9 inch) unbaked deep-dish pie crusts

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. In a saucepan, combine chicken, carrots, peas, potatoes and celery. Add bullion cube and water to cover and boil for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, drain and set aside.
  3. In the saucepan over medium heat, cook onions in butter until soft and translucent. Stir in flour, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Slowly stir in chicken broth and milk. Simmer over medium-low heat until thick. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Place the chicken mixture in bottom pie crust. Pour hot liquid mixture over. Cover with top crust (making a dome on top), seal edges, and cut away excess dough. Make several small slits in the top to allow steam to escape.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.  

Chicken Noodle Bake
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
6 ounces egg noodles
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste
1 cup crumbled buttery round crackers
1/2 cup butter

  1. Poach chicken in a large pot of simmering water. Cook until no longer pink in center, about 12 minutes. Remove from pot and set aside. Bring chicken cooking water to a boil and cook pasta in it. Drain. Cut chicken into small pieces, and mix with noodles.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together mushroom soup, chicken soup, and sour cream. Season with salt and pepper. Gently stir together cream soup mixture with the chicken mixture. Place in a 2 quart baking dish.
  3. Melt butter in a small saucepan, and remove from heat. Stir in crumbled crackers. Top casserole with the buttery crackers.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for about 30 minutes, until heated through and browned on top. 
Katie's chicken-noodle bake:

Our finished pies and the bake:

All stored up:

I don't have the meatloaf recipe (forgot to write it down, but I know I can still get it from Katie!), and her lasagna was simple...layers of ground beef, mozzarella cheese, marinara sauce and noodles.

Everything turned out deliciously (we, of course, had to sample!). If you have any recommendations for good freezable meals for us to make on our second go-round, post it in the comment section. We plan to make baked potato soup and her husband's going to make shepherd's pie, but we need a few more suggestions. Oh, and next time, Katie - we need a photo together!!

December 28 - Valerie's Chicken

I forgot to post dinner the other night...seriously, I think the only night I've cooked so far is Tuesday. The boy and I ate chips and dip for dinner the last two nights while the kids ate either peanut butter (almond butter) and jelly, or pasta. We're all just so sick of food! When I did cook, I made Valerie's Chicken, which is always a big hit around these parts...can't go wrong with this one :)

Valerie's Chicken
2 boneless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
3 oz. cream cheese
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/4 cup of cooking sherry/white wine

  1. Melt butter in pan over medium heat.
  2. Brown chicken breasts; season with Italian seasoning.
  3. Simmer 10 minutes.
  4. Combine cream cheese, soup and wine and pour over chicken. 
  5. Let simmer for 20 minutes.

The recipe originally calls for 4 chicken breasts, but I find there isn't enough sauce if you do that many. If you need to do 4 pieces of chicken, DEFINITELY double the sauce (6 oz. cream cheese, 2 cans soup, 1/2 cup wine). Give it a shot with pasta and rice - I like it both ways!

Monday, December 27, 2010

December 26 - Flank Steak Pinwheels

We invited our great friends and neighbors, Joy and Kortney, to join us for a post-Christmas dinner and Wii dance party last night. We were pretty stoked that we *finally* got a Wii...little behind the 8 ball...and I was planning on making flank steak pinwheels that would make twice what we could eat. What better way to wrap up the holiday weekend than with great friends, yummy food, and a whole lotta dancin?!?

The pinwheels turned out amazingly well (and so pretty! I rarely make "pretty" food.), and we had some garlic red potatoes to go with them. Joy and Kortney seemed to enjoy the countless rounds of dancing and Wii bowling, and the food was a hit! They ended up leaving around 8ish and then the boy and I put the kids to bed and went back to dancing. He found out his office was closed around 10ish, so the rest of our evening was determined from there...we were up until 1 a.m. dancing. And in those 5 hours, I think I beat him twice :( I thought I was a good dancer, but evidently my husband is far better?! I swear he was in a boy band in his former life...

And here's the recipe for the pinwheels and potatoes!

Flank Steak Pinwheels
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup red wine
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 1/2 pounds flank steak, pounded to 1/2 inch thickness

1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chopped shallots (or onion)
1/4 cup fine dry bread crumbs
1 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

  1. In a large resealable bag, combine the olive oil, soy sauce, red wine, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, lemon juice, 1 clove of garlic, Italian seasoning and pepper. Squeeze the bag to blend well. 
  2. Pierce the flank steak with a knife, making small slits about 1 inch apart. Place the steak into the bag, and seal. Refrigerate overnight to marinate. (I forgot to do it overnight and marinated for about 8 hours and it was just as good.)
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  4. Remove the steak from the bag, and discard marinade. Rub the salt and minced garlic over top of the beef.
  5. Place layers of chopped shallots, bread crumbs, spinach, and cheese over the garlic. 
  6. Roll the steak up lengthwise, and secure with kitchen twine or toothpicks (dental floss is also an acceptable substitute for the twine). Place the roll in a shallow glass baking dish.
  7. Bake uncovered for 1 hour in the preheated oven, or until the internal temperature of the roll is at least 145 degrees F (63 degrees F) in the center. Let stand for 5 minutes to set, then slice into 1 inch slices to serve. 
Honestly, it sounds much more labor intensive than it really was a fairly quick meal to make and the results were really excellent! And here's the potato recipe - posted a few times, but definitely a fan favorite.

Roasted Garlic Red Potatoes
2 pounds red potatoes, quartered
1/4 cup butter, melted (I used low-fat)
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (175 degrees C). 
  2. Place potatoes in an 8x8 inch baking dish. 
  3. In a small bowl combine melted butter, garlic, salt and lemon juice; pour over potatoes and stir to coat. 
  4. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over potatoes. Bake in preheated oven for at least 60 minutes (often a little longer).

    Sunday, December 26, 2010

    A new contest!

    Since I haven't done a giveaway in ages, I thought I'd do one as an end-of-the year wrap-up. I'm going to offer up a mini photo session with Kristina Hall Photography. Kristi is a great friend of mine and an awesome photographer (see the bottom of my post for some of her work)! She will travel to your home (or a site of your choice) and offer a 60-minute photography session for you and your family. She'll also edit and customize your photos and give you digital copies of everything she captures. Unfortunately, the downside to this offer is that it's only for readers in the Pennsylvania/Northern DE/NJ area, as I can't make poor Kristi travel cross-country for this ;-) If you are an out-of-towner, but are planning a trip to the area in the future, you can still enter and "cash in" your session when it's convenient for you.

    So how do you win this fabulous prize, you ask?! Simple! I have my blog tracked through Google Analytics, and ran a report to determine which of my recipes were most visited. I have 3 that have had more hits than any others by a decent stretch, so you need to tell me which ones they are. Now, there's a strong possibility there will be a tie, so in that case I'll do a random drawing for the winner.

    But seriously, this contest is way easy! Just pick three recipes you think have had more views than others and post them in the comment section. When you comment, please leave your first name, last initial, and your e-mail. If you don't feel comfortable posting the e-mail address, you can always send it to me privately.


     Contest ends on Friday, December 31st at 11:59 p.m. Please only one entry per reader.

    Holiday Food

    It's been awhile since I've had time to just sit down, much less update the blog. There really hasn't much to update anyways...I haven't really been cooking over the past few days. I made spaghetti for Lindsay's birthday on Tuesday, per her request, and then did leftovers on Wednesday. The kiddos went to my folks' house on Thursday, so the boy and I had a nice dinner at Firecreek (flash-fried calamari appetizer, short rib for the boy, and a mahi/lobster/crab dish for me).

    On Friday we were at my family's Christmas celebration and had jambalya, clam chowder, and my mom's amazing mac-n-cheese. And finally yesterday we were with the Risser side of the family for their celebration. My brother-in-law always cooks (which is a special treat for all of us since his culinary skills are probably the best in the offense to anyone else?!?), and it's tradition to have prime rib. I was in charge of a side (to go with all of the other sides he put out), so I made a winter fruit salad with a lemon poppyseed vinaigrette. I was hesitant to make something like that because the boy grew up with PA Dutch-style cooking, so some of the things I put on the table he totally balks at (therefore, it's likely his family would, too). But, I know it was way too good not to make, and it fit in nicely with the rest of the dishes. I never even made it to dessert yesterday because I was way too full (with the exception of a small toffee millionaire bar...of which I could have easily eaten another half-dozen), although naturally I was not too full to enjoy all of the wine my SIL & BIL brought. It sure beat the hell out of the boxes I'm used to ;-)

    So, yup, it was a great holiday weekend, filled with all sorts of fun! We're spending today recuperating and it's nice to have the boy home as backup (usually he's back at work the day after Christmas). I do have to say, though, I am so sick of food. I need to use the flank steak that's in the fridge, so I'm making flank steak pinwheels tonight, but come tomorrow I don't even know what to make...I can't stop eating, but nothing sounds appetizing anymore?!

    Winter Fruit Salad w/ Lemon Poppyseed Vinaigrette

    1/2 cup white sugar
    1/2 cup lemon juice
    2 teaspoons diced red onion
    1 teaspoon Dijon-style prepared mustard
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    2/3 cup vegetable oil
    1 tablespoon poppy seeds
    1 head romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
    4 ounces shredded Swiss cheese
    1 cup cashews, pecans, or walnuts (I used leftover pecans from my pie the other week)
    1/4 cup dried cranberries
    2 apples - peeled, cored and diced
    1 pear - peeled, cored and sliced

    1. In a blender or food processor, combine sugar, lemon juice, onion, mustard, and salt. Process until well blended. 
    2. With machine still running, add oil in a slow, steady stream until mixture is thick and smooth. 
    3. Add poppy seeds, and process just a few seconds more to mix. 
    4. In a large serving bowl, toss together the romaine lettuce, shredded Swiss cheese, cashews, dried cranberries, apple, and pear. If making ahead, you can toss the apples and pears in the vinaigrette so they don't brown.
    5. Pour dressing over salad just before serving, and toss to coat.
    Everyone seemed to love this yesterday. It makes a TON of dressing, though, so you might want to either serve the dressing separately or add some more lettuce. Also, it's not something that is good as leftovers if you mix the dressing with the salad (everything gets wilted and loses its crunchiness).

    Thursday, December 23, 2010

    20 GTG Points

    Pampers released more bonus codes!
    • GTGWELCOME10PTS - 10 points
    • NEWWIPESPACKAGE - 50 points

    Monday, December 20, 2010

    Ice Tea w/ a Kick

    My friend, Christy, made a special request for the ice tea recipe from Lindsay's party, so here it is! It's an excellent drink AND the mixers are all calorie-free, so I like to think of it as totally fine to drink when dieting or counting calories ;-)

    Ice Tea w/ a Kick
    1 packet of Crystal Light ice tea (decaf unless you want to be up all night!)
    1 cup vodka
    1 cup peach schnapps or triple sec
    5 or 6 cups water

    1. Mix everything together and chug-a-lug!

    Sunday, December 19, 2010

    Pecan Pie

    We had the boy's extended family Christmas party tonight at his uncle's house and had so much fun! We usually get together once or twice a year (Thanksgiving and Christmas) for a big family event, and since we were with my fam on Thanksgiving this year, we were due for a gathering. It's always fun catching up with everyone and seeing what everyone's up to...although sometimes it can be depressing when you see how much the kids have grown up?!? Linds was particularly social today, playing with some of the boy's cousins' kids, and when I finally figured out who the one girl was, I was floored. This kid went from being 3 years old to 10 overnight! I really swore it was yesterday she was this little girl that was Lindsay's age and now she's this grown "tween." I never thought I'd be 28 and saying I feel old, but when I see these kids and how they've grown over the past 10 years, it *really* makes me feel ancient.

    But, back to the whole point of the post, we were asked to bring dessert. I'm over Christmas cookies (the exchange and subsequent selection of 18 different cookies did me in), and we just had cake for Lindsay's birthday, so I figured I'd do a pie. My fabulous friend, Kristi Hall, makes a kick ass pecan pie, so I stole her recipe and made that. It turned out really well from what people said...I didn't even take a piece for myself (again, so not in the mood for sweets at this point!). I forgot to take a picture, so you're stuck with just the recipe :P

    Pecan Pie
    3 eggs
    1 cup light brown sugar
    1 cup light corn syrup
    2 tbsp. butter, melted
    1 tsp vanilla
    1 cup fresh pecans
    Pie crust (I just used the graham cracker one - it's easiest)

    1. Preheat oven to 350.
    2. Combine eggs, brown sugar, corn syrup, butter and vanilla until blended.
    3. Pour into pie crust and top with pecans.
    4. Bake 50-55 minutes.

    Friday, December 17, 2010

    Robitussin coupon!

    Just found a printable coupon for $1 off any Robitussin product!

    Robitussin® Cold and Flu Alerts: Be prepared if the flu hits your town - Save $1 now. Click Here

    Recipe Nut

    So I came across this pretty cool site and thought I'd share it with all of you! When you become a member, you can save recipes from any site and share them, plus get money saving coupons. I put a few of mine up there, too. It's especially helpful if you're like me and have a thousand different bookmarked recipes - you can add them all on there and it saves them in a personal "recipe box." Check it out!

    Recipe Nut

    Wednesday, December 15, 2010

    December 14 - Meals for Mamas

    Two more of our MOMS Club members had babies recently and it was my turn to bring them dinner on Tuesday night. I didn't have a chance to make it to Wegmans to get all the fixings for baked potato pizza, so I decided to make them rigatoni with sausage and peas instead. I had forgotten about this recipe until I glanced through my saved dishes on I made a triple batch - one for each mama and one for us. Both my kids ate it happily, so I was stoked about that! I got more pictures of Luke, too, while he played with his rigatoni. Normally I don't encourage playing with food, but there was something uber cute about him putting the rigatoni around his fingers and gnawing it off.

    Rigatoni w/ Sausage & Peas
    1 16-ounce box rigatoni pasta
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1 clove garlic, minced
    1 pound ground sausage
    2 cups frozen green peas
    1 1/2 cups heavy cream
    4 tablespoons butter
    2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

    1. In a large skillet, heat oil and sauté garlic over medium heat. Add sausage and brown.
    2. Once brown, add frozen peas and simmer for 5 minutes.
    3.  In the meantime, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. 
    4. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain. 
    5. Slowly add heavy cream and butter to sausage skillet; bring to a slight boil. 
    6. Cook for 5 minutes. 
    7. Toss with cooked pasta and top with Parmesan cheese. 

    December 13 - Hodge Podge

    After the crazy weekend we had, I had trace amounts of energy leftover to do anything on Monday. In fact, I couldn't even muster up dinner, so I tossed together some elbow mac and sauce and served that to the kids. I'm not even sure the boy and I ate?! Usually Luke gobbles that up with no issue, but for some reason, refused to eat it. I started getting frustrated (I thought we'd been making progress), but then offered him a spoon to see if that changed anything. Wouldn't you know? It did. Of course I wonder now if he's always been picky, or if he just didn't like his fork. Gah - oh, well, he ate, so I was happy! He really enjoyed the food once he got that spoon and totally hammed it up for the camera.

    Tuesday, December 14, 2010

    5-pt. GTG Code

    Pampers released another bonus code!
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    If you haven't signed up for Pampers Gifts to Grow program, click the image below. Even if you don't buy Pampers, you can collect enough "free points" for all sorts of cool rewards. Plus, you're automatically signed up to win free diapers for an entire year!
    If you've signed up, check HERE to see if you are up-to-date with all of the free codes!

    PS: If you have some points you need to spend, there are tons for free holiday photo cards, calendars, etc. from that you can redeem your GTG points for! Happy shopping!

    Monday, December 13, 2010

    December 11 - Party Meatballs

    On Saturday we had Lindsay's fourth birthday party! It was 10 days early, but knowing how crazy everyone's schedules are in December, we wanted to make sure as many of our friends and families would be available. It was an amazingly fun bash - over 50 people made it :) Linds loved having everyone there to celebrate with her (even if she didn't talk to most of you!), and I was in my glory - eating, drinking, and spending time with those who are nearest and dearest to me. Plus, throwing a party is "my thing" - I'll spend weeks planning it all the way down to the gritty details.

    Upon Lindsay's request, this year's party theme was a "tea party." We had teapots and saucers, although only made one pot (which no one drank)...not surprisingly, the "ice tea with a kick" (i.e. vodka and peach schnapps) went quickly?!? As far as food, we had meatballs, macaroni and cheese, Chick-Fil-A nuggets, fruits, veggies, cheese, meat, and other little snacky sides. I usually overcook like crazy, but aside from a few dozen meatballs, everything was devoured. I love when I don't have a ton of stuff spoiling in my fridge!

    I had many requests for the meatball recipe, so here it is! (I made about 160 balls, so I had to scale my recipe up - very easy to do!)

    40 meatballs
    1 cup of ketchup
    3/4 cup brown sugar
    1/4 medium onion, chopped
    1/4 tsp. garlic powder

    1. Combine ketchup, brown sugar, onion and garlic powder.
    2. Cover meatballs with sauce. 
    3. Cook in crockpot for 4 or 5 hours on low.

    Sunday, December 12, 2010

    Rum Balls

    A dear, dear friend of mine (who happens to be a drinking buddy) nicknamed me "boozy cubes" awhile back. At first, I wasn't sure whether to be offended, complimented, or find a placement in the in-between gray area, but after thinking about it, I embraced my alcohol-y  nature and decided it was a good fit! Plus, Sarah (the BC-nickname originator) is a superb friend who would only leave the best compliments for me ;-)

    In keeping up with tradition of my booze-loving nature, I decided to make rum balls for our MOMS Club cookies exchange. I was trying to decide what to make last week (looking for a super-easy, super-quick recipe since trying to do those in conjunction with Lindsay's party was going to be craaaaaazy). They were up my alley - chocolate, liquored up, and simple! - so I gave them a whirl.

    Now, I had partied Friday AND Saturday night, so by the time Sunday rolled around, i was NOT looking for any booze to creep into my diet. I took a little nibble of the rum balls and maybe it was my poor, pathetic liver screaming, "HELP!" but I could have sworn they were a shot in a cookie. I took them trepidatiously, hoping not to offend anyone with their awfully liquored nature, but to my surprise, everyone was surprisingly accepting. No one felt they had any overly-boozey aftertaste. I was SHOCKED! They were delicious, but I seriously thought they were way too rummy.

    Since we got the okay from several parties, I'll post the recipe. I thought they were delish...just had a potent rum taste to them! So, if you partake, be forewarned and enjoy :)

    Rum Balls

    Vegetable oil cooking spray
    3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
    6 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
    3 large eggs
    1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
    3/4 cup all-purpose flour
    1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons dark rum
    Coarse sanding sugar, for rolling

    1. Preheat oven to 350. Coat a 12-by-17-inch rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray; set aside. Melt butter and chocolate in a small heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally. Set aside.
    2. Whisk together eggs, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in a large bowl. Stir in chocolate mixture, then fold in flour. Pour batter into prepared baking sheet. Spread evenly with a rubber spatula. Bake until top is shiny and a cake tester inserted into center comes out with some crumbs attached, about 10 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
    3. Break up brownie into small pieces; transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. With machine on low speed, pour in rum, and mix until crumbs start to come together to form a ball.
    4. Shape into 1-inch balls, and roll in sanding sugar to coat. Transfer to a baking sheet; refrigerate, uncovered, until cold, about 2 hours. Serve chilled or at room temperature. Rum balls can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 1 week.
    Read more at Rum Balls - Martha Stewart Recipes

    Thursday, December 9, 2010

    December 8 - Spicy Mongolian Beef

    We ate nuggets and mashed sweet potatoes for dinner on Tuesday night (we got home right around 5:00 after running errands all afternoon and the kids were STARVED and I needed to feed them quickly), so I definitely wanted to cook something decent on Wednesday night. I've been itching to make some spicy Mongolian beef, but I knew Linds and Luke wouldn't eat it, so they wound up with hot dogs and corn. After we tucked them into bed, I went to work on a super quick meal and the boy and I feasted by ourselves!

    I threw together the marinade that morning and let it sit throughout the day in the fridge. The veggies I used were a steam-bag of Asian medley, and I tossed some rice in my rice cooker to go with everything else. The prep time for the marinade was about 10 minutes (you have to cut the flank steak into strips which makes it more time consuming than the 30 seconds it takes to toss the marinade together), and then there was another 10 minutes active cook time (for the beef and veggies). The rice took about 20, but you can always use minute rice if you're in a pinch.

    The recipe claims it's "super-spicy," however, neither the boy nor I found it to be extreme. Obviously too spicy for my kiddos, but nothing too crazy for us. There was enough of the marinade left with the beef to coat the veggies and rice, too. Definitely worth trying if you don't mind food with a kick!

    Spicy Mongolian Beef
    1/4 cup soy sauce
    1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
    1 tablespoon sesame oil
    2 teaspoons white sugar
    1 tablespoon minced garlic
    1 tablespoon red pepper flakes (optional)
    1 pound beef flank steak, thinly sliced
    1 tablespoon peanut oil

    1. Whisk together soy sauce, hoisin sauce, sesame oil, sugar, garlic, and red pepper flakes in a bowl.
    2. Toss beef with marinade, cover, and refrigerate 1 hour to overnight.
    3. Heat peanut oil in a wok or large, nonstick skillet over high heat. Stir in the beef. 
    4. Cook and stir until the beef is no longer pink and is beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. 

    Monday, December 6, 2010

    Free subscription to American Baby!

    If you are pregnant or have a baby under a year of age, you can sign up for a FREE subscription to American Baby! I used to get this when Linds and Luke were babies and it's filled with lots of really interesting articles and information. Click the picture below to sign up and check it out!

    American Baby Magazine

    December 6 - Fettuccine Carbonara

    Food funk be damned! I'm sick of feeling blah, so I'm breaking out of it and forcing an upswing in my mood. For ages I've found cooking to be comforting and a great stress-relief, so what better way to beat the blues than by going back to preparing real meals?

    I have a pretty exciting list of meals that I grocery shopped for, so there were a bunch I could have made that sounded good (spicy Mongolian beef, Valerie's chicken, jambalaya). I also had a recipe for fettuccine carbonara and all the fixins, so what the hell? It felt like a pasta night anyways.

    It turned out so incredibly well, the boy loved it (it had bacon, how could he not?), Linds ate two bowls (alright!), and Luke even took a bite or two before collapsing into hysteria (overtired and ready for bed). I loved it, too, so a hit all around. This was the *perfect* way to get back into the swing of things.

    Fettuccine Carbonara
    5 teaspoons olive oil
    4 shallots, diced
    1 large onion, cut into thin strips
    1 pound bacon, cut into strips
    1 clove garlic, chopped
    1 (16 ounce) package fettuccini pasta
    3 egg yolks
    1 cup heavy cream
    3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
    salt and pepper to taste

    1. Heat olive oil in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat. Sauté shallots until softened. Stir in onion and bacon, and cook until bacon is evenly browned. Drain grease and then stir in garlic when bacon is about half done. Remove from heat.
    2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente. Drain pasta, then return it to the pot.
    3. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks, cream, and shredded Parmesan. Pour the bacon mixture over the pasta, then stir in the cream mixture. Season with salt and pepper.

    Saturday, December 4, 2010

    My first 5K!

    I know it isn't food related, but I finished my first 5K today!! I signed up about 8 weeks ago, and was not much of a runner (okay, not at all a runner) when I signed up, so I didn't have huge expectations. I just wanted to finish it...and not finish last. The first time I ran 3.1 miles straight, it took me a little over 36 minutes...not too bad to start. Eight weeks later, I finished in 29 minutes, 54 seconds. I am ELATED!

    I never understood everyone's obsession with running until I really got into it, and now I have to say I'm hooked. I'm hoping to pick up a few more 5Ks in the spring and then my goal is to do the Broad Street Run in early May. My sister, brother, and brother-in-law said they were interested in doing it, so we may turn it into a "family affair." Regardless, it's nice to find a new hobby - especially one that's stress-free and helps get me back into pre-kiddo shape :)

    Perhaps the best part about this race was that I ran it with a great friend who was motivating and encouraging throughout our "training" love to Christy Stofflet for being crazy enough to brave below-freezing weather for a hell of a time!

    Thursday, December 2, 2010

    December 1 - Baked Potato Pizza

    We are having a baby boom in our MOMS Club!! There have been at least half a dozen babies who have arrived or are arriving soon?! I made my staple - baked potato pizza - for two moms this week. Here's recipe again!

    Baked Potato Pizza
    1 large pre-made pizza crust
    4 medium unpeeled potatoes, baked and cooled
    1 tablespoon butter, melted
    1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
    1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
    1 cup (8 oz) sour cream
    6 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
    3 to 5 green onions, chopped
    1 1/2 cups (6 oz) mozzarella cheese
    1/2 cup cheddar cheese

    1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
    2. Cut potatoes into 1/2-inch cubes. In a bowl, combine butter, garlic powder and oregano. Add potatoes and toss.
    3. Spread sour cream over crust; top with potato mixture, bacon, onions and cheeses.
    4. Bake at 400 for 15 - 20 minutes or until cheese is lightly browned.
    5. Let stand for 5 minutes before cutting.
    Yield: 8 slices

    More GTG points!

    Pampers released more bonus codes!
    • DEC2010FACEBOOK - 10 points
    • bUMP2CYBRMONDAY - 50 points

    If you haven't signed up for Pampers Gifts to Grow program, click the image below. Even if you don't buy Pampers, you can collect enough "free points" for all sorts of cool rewards. Plus, you're automatically signed up to win free diapers for an entire year!

    If you've signed up, check HERE to see if you are up-to-date with all of the free codes!

    PS: If you have some points you need to spend, there are tons for free holiday photo cards, calendars, etc. from that you can redeem your GTG points for! Happy shopping!

    Sunday, November 28, 2010

    10 GTG Points

    Pampers released more bonus codes!
    • GIVETHANKS10PTS - 10 points

    If you haven't signed up for Pampers Gifts to Grow program, click the image below. Even if you don't buy Pampers, you can collect enough "free points" for all sorts of cool rewards. Plus, you're automatically signed up to win free diapers for an entire year!

    If you've signed up, check HERE to see if you are up-to-date with all of the free codes!

    PS: If you have some points you need to spend, there are tons for free holiday photo cards, calendars, etc. from that you can redeem your GTG points for! Happy shopping!

    November 28 - Salsa Pasta

    I had 3/4 lb of ground beef in the fridge that I had to use and needed a quick lunch, so I threw together some salsa pasta this morning. It's not my favorite recipe - in fact, it's pretty reminiscent of all of those Hamburger Helper dinners the boy and I ate when I was in college...blech!! - but, it's easy, quick and everyone seems to eat it with little complaint.

    Salsa Pasta
    1 small onion, diced
    3/4 lb. ground beef
    2 cups beef broth
    3/4 cup water
    2 cup elbow mac.(I ran out so I used some farfalle.)
    10.5 oz. condensed cheese soup
    1 cup salsa

    1. Sauté onions and beef. Drain fat. 
    2. Add broth and water to meat. Bring to boil. 
    3. Add mac, cover and stir, cook over medium heat for 10 min. 
    4. Stir in soup and salsa. Heat to serving temperature.

    Let's try this mac & cheese?!

    I haven't made this kind in a long time, but it's one of the better versions (albeit MUCH higher in calories). It's also a lot creamier than the other kind I just made...guess I should have gone with this instead of the "crunchy kind." Tee hee!

    Thanks to Sarah for this recipe :)

    Creamy Macaroni & Cheese
    2 Tablespoons Butter
    1 Cup Cottage Cheese (Not Lowfat)
    2 Cups Milk (Not Skim)
    1 tsp dry mustard
    Pinch Cayenne
    Pinch Nutmeg
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/4 tsp black pepper
    1 pound sharp or extra sharp cheddar, shredded or grated
    1/2 pound elbow macaroni, UNCOOKED

    1. Heat oven to 375F and position rack in upper third of oven. Use 1 tsp butter to butter a 9 inch round or square baking pan.
    2. In a blender, puree cottage cheese, milk, mustard, cayenne, pepper, nutmeg, and salt together.
    3. Reserve 1/4 cup shredded cheese for topping. In a large bowl, combine remaining shredded cheese, milk mixture, and uncooked pasta. Pour into prepared pan, cover tightly with foil and bake 30 minutes.
    4. Uncover pan, stir gently, sprinkle with reserved cheese and dot with remaining tablespoon of butter.
    5. Bake, uncovered, 30 minutes more until browned. Cool 15 minutes prior to serving.

    November 26 - Mac & Cheese

    My niece came over on Friday for a night of girly fun and a sleepover with Linds and me (yeah, the boys were here, too, but we didn't pay much attention to them!). It was so much fun painting nails, doing hair, picking out outfits, and watching movies with the two of them. I figured I'd make some mac & cheese for dinner since every kid in the world seems to like that, right? Wrong!

    Instead of just throwing a box of Kraft on the stove, I actually grated cheese and made my own - it's way better than the box stuff in my opinion. Wouldn't you know ALL THREE KIDS turned their nose up at it?! Caroline said it was "too crunchy" and Linds followed suit. To their defense, it was oven-baked, so it wasn't super creamy which I guess kids prefer. But to make it worse, the boy ate it and said, "well, it's okay - but definitely not your best." Yeesh - thanks. I'll post the recipe still because I'm pretty sure the boy's issue was with the kinds of cheese I used (too much Swiss).

    Macaroni & Cheese
    1 box of elbow macaroni
    2 eggs
    6 cups mixed cheese
    1 cup of milk

    1. Cook pasta and drain.
    2. Mix eggs, milk and cheese.
    3. Add pasta to cheese mixture.
    4. Bake 45 minutes at 350.
    Didn't get a photo of the food, but here are Miss L and Caroline having a blast together!

    Thursday, November 25, 2010

    Christmas Card 2010

    Sweet Tree Christmas
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