Sharing our food successes and failures, new recipes and old favorites
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Monday, December 26, 2011

Beer-Glazed Ham

I bought 3 lbs of ham the other day at Lindsay's request and decided to do a beer-glaze with it. It's a sweeter glaze (lots of brown sugar!) and I know that Linds, the boy and I will all eat it (again, Luke picks but doesn't care much for a variety yet...I'm patiently waiting until he gets older since Linds was the same way). I made mashed sweet potatoes and some other kind of veggie (insert preggo brain excuse here) with it, and had plenty of leftovers to use it in a quiche, sandwiches and other leftover plates. I always love when I can get full use out of a bulk purchase!

Oh, and this photo is an old one and obviously does not match the description above.

Beer Glazed Ham
1 boneless fully cooked ham (3 lbs.) 
1 can beer
1 cup packed brown sugar  
2 T balsamic vinegar
2 tsp ground mustard

  1. Place ham on a rack in a shallow roasting pan (I didn't have a rack, so I rolled up some foil to keep the ham from sitting right in the pan). Score the surface of the ham, making diamond shapes ½ inch deep. 
  2. Set aside 2 T beer. Pour remaining beer over ham. 
  3. Bake, uncovered at 350 for 1 hour. 
  4. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, vinegar, mustard and reserved beer; spread over ham.
  5. Bake 40-45 minutes longer or until a meat thermometer reads 140, basting occasionally.

Mongolian Beef

It's been nearly impossible to cook, much less blog the recipes over the past few weeks! The holidays seem to be more time-intensive every year and being pregnant with two kids certainly didn't ease that typical rush. I honestly don't even remember what I've cooked over the past few weeks, but I do vaguely remember this one?! I didn't remember it being spicy enough last time, so I tried to kick it up a bit - and yes, my efforts were successful.

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
Assorted veggies (I used broccoli and carrots this time - the photo below is from the last time I made it)

  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. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Spaghetti w/ Meat Sauce

Grocery shopping is way overdue. I got a little lazy with Thanksgiving and all the running around we've been doing and haven't done much cooking. With all the rain we had today, it seemed like the perfect day to throw together some meat sauce and let it simmer all afternoon. The house smells great, there will be a home-cooked meal on the table, and it's something everyone will eat - I'm pretty sure that qualifies as a success! I always double this recipe so I can freeze a bunch of the sauce and have it on hand for quick meals down the road. And this one is so easy - really only takes about 15 minutes of active prep time for the sauce, and then you can make the pasta while it's simmering.

Spaghetti Tomato/Meat Sauce
1 (28 ounce) can stewed tomatoes
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 pound lean ground beef
2 yellow onions, chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 tablespoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Blend the stewed tomatoes and crushed tomatoes in a blender.
  2. In a large pot, brown the ground beef with the onions and garlic. 
  3. Pour in tomatoes, and reduce heat. 
  4. Add sugar, basil, oregano, salt and pepper, and cover. 
  5. Simmer about 45 minutes. Serve warm over pasta of your choice.

Toffee Millionaires

The annual MOMS Club cookie exchange was on Sunday, and although I haven't done a whole heck of a lot with the club recently, this was the perfect opportunity to 1) catch up with old friends, and 2) get a nice big variety of cookies to eat (and guiltlessly, thanks to the baby on the way!). The festivities did not disappoint - nor did the cookies ;-)

Last year I made some pretty kick ass rum balls and wanted to bring something equally delicious this year. While chatting with the boy's family over Thanksgiving, someone mentioned the toffee millionaires that my brother-in-law made last year. They were a huge hit and I vaguely remember eating one (or five or six...hmmmm?) over Christmas and loving them. The more I thought about them, the stronger the craving, and I decided those were it. Making them in such a large number (I needed about 6 dozen) was a VERY time-consuming process, but so very worth it! If you're looking for some "salty-sweet goodness" (thanks, Sarah, for the description), then add these to your cookie list.

Toffee Millionaires
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pan
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 cup finely chopped chocolate-covered toffee bars plus 1/2 cup coarsely chopped chocolate-covered toffee bars (about 10 ounces total)
1/4 cup heavy cream

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees, with rack in upper third. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. 
  2. Whisk to combine flour and salt into a bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium-high until creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Gradually add brown sugar; beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes more. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture; mix just until combined. 
  4. Using plastic wrap, press dough into prepared pan. With plastic on dough, chill 45 minutes.
  5. Pierce dough all over with a wooden skewer. Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until golden brown and center is firm, about 70 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool 10 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, heat finely chopped toffee bars and cream in a saucepan, stirring constantly, over medium-low heat until smooth. 
  7. Pour over shortbread in pan; sprinkle with coarsely chopped toffee. Let cool slightly. Cut into squares. Let cool completely.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Baked Potato Pizza

A few weeks ago I made meals for two good friends - one who just had a baby and one who underwent pretty major surgery that has sidelined her from her kitchen. I decided to do my "signature" meal - baked potato pizza! It's a wildly delicious carb-fest and just one slice will probably be more than enough to fill you up. We barely put down half of one among the four of us for an entire meal. It's always been well-received (or at least people lie well?!), and a definite to try out.

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 (optional)
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

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Green Bean Casserole

I'm only 15 weeks into this pregnancy, so the cravings haven't struck vengefully, but when they do, I like to entertain them. Especially when they're mildly healthy. The latest one? Green bean casserole. Not the mushroom soup kind, but this one recipe I found and altered from It might not be the best sodium or fat-wise, but damnit, it tastes good. I have no idea what we're having with this for dinner tonight, but likely it will be grilled cheeses because they're easy and meatless (in a meatless mood again all of a sudden). Enjoy! :)

Grandma's (Modified) Green Bean Casserole
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 T dried onion
1 cup sour cream
3 (14.5 ounce) cans low-sodium French style green beans, drained
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup (12 crackers) crumbled buttery round crackers
1 tablespoon butter, melted
French fried onions


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in flour until smooth, and cook for one minute. Stir in the salt, sugar, onion, and sour cream. Add green beans, a handful of French fried onions and 1 cup of cheese, and stir to coat.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a 2 1/2 quart casserole dish. Spread remaining cup of shredded cheese over the top. Top with a handful of French fried onions. 
  4. In a small bowl, toss together cracker crumbs and remaining butter, and sprinkle over the cheese.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the top is golden and cheese is bubbly.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sesame Chicken w/ Lo Mein

I found this recipe on Wegmans' site and it is one of my favorite make-at-home Asian dishes. It's so incredibly easy to make and doesn't take long at all. Some of the ingredients are Wegmans brand, but you can find the same ingredients in your local grocery store. The only thing I forget is that it has a bit of a spicy kick (the garlic sauce from Wegmans does, at least), so it's not too Lindsay/Luke-friendly.

Sesame Chicken with Lo Mein & Green Beans

12 oz pkg green beans
16 oz. lo mein noodles
1 lb chicken breast strips
3 T vegetable oil, divided
2 cloves minced garlic
1.5 cups Asian slaw
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup Wegmans Garlic Sauce (International Foods)
1 T sesame seeds

  1. Blanch green beans in large pot of boiling salted water 3-4 min. Remove beans with slotted spoon; drain and set aside. Add noodles to blanching water; blanch 2 min. Drain and set aside.
  2. Drizzle 2 Tbsp oil around sides of stir-fry pan; tilt pan to distribute evenly. Heat oil in pan on HIGH until oil faintly smokes. (If oil smokes too much, pan is too hot.) Stir fry chicken 4-5 min; remove from pan and set aside.
  3. Drizzle remaining Tbsp oil around sides of pan; tilt pan to distribute evenly. Heat oil in pan on HIGH until oil faintly smokes. Add garlic, Asian slaw, and green beans. Stir and toss, 2-3 min. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Add chicken, noodles, and garlic sauce to stir-fry pan. Stir briefly to heat through, 2-3 min. Garnish with sesame seeds.

Broccoli & Cheese Soup

It's been 2 months since I've posted anything and got a little nudge from a pal on Thursday (yes, Sarah, I'll try to update more often!). I've got a good excuse, though - I found out soon after that last post that I'm pregnant again! As of now, I'm just about 15 weeks along and finally feeling like I'm "coasting" now that it's the 2nd trimester. The first wasn't terribly awful - but morning sickness kicked in at 4 p.m. like clockwork, so I avoided cooking, eating, and for the most part just looking at food for a while there.

Now that the worst of it's over, I'm gradually getting back to cooking. It's tough - the boy has decided to start taking the train back into work (partially to save money, but mostly to save sanity, as that drive into the city is BRUTAL), so our family meals during the week are no longer. He only started in the beginning of November, so I'm trying to figure out the easiest way to cook dinner so that it's good for the kids, but also not a leftover mess for us when we eat later in the evening. The other night I grabbed the frozen bag of broccoli and cheese soup I made a few weeks before and reheated that for all of us. It's an easy recipe to make and the kids really enjoyed it, too.

Broccoli & Cheese Soup
1/2 cup butter
1 onion, chopped
2 (16 ounce) packages frozen chopped broccoli
4 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth
1 (1 pound) loaf processed cheese food, cubed
1 cup shredded cheese (or about a handful out of the bag, if you're me)
2 cups milk
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2/3 cup cornstarch
1 cup water


  1. In a stockpot, melt butter over medium heat. Cook onion in butter until softened. Stir in broccoli, and cover with chicken broth. Simmer until broccoli is tender, 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Reduce heat, and stir in cheese cubes until melted. Mix in milk and garlic powder.
  3. In a small bowl, stir cornstarch into water until dissolved. Stir into soup; cook, stirring frequently, until thick.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Crack Pie

They call this crack pie for a reason - I'm pretty sure this is to a food junkie like myself what crack is to a drug junkie ;-) It's highly addictive and one piece is definitely not enough!

I found this recipe featured in Bon Appétit in last year's September issue. I was intrigued (mostly because of the name!) and stuck it in my collection. I have avoided making pies, cookies, cakes, etc. recently because I'm usually the only one in the house who ends up eating it, but when I was in charge of dessert for the boy's family's Labor Day picnic, I thought I'd give it a shot. The name rang true - everyone seemed to like the salty-sweet pie and I had just one little sliver left by the end of the day. I'd definitely make this one again!

Crack Pie
Oat Cookie Crust
T (1 stick plus 1 T) unsalted room temperature, divided
5.5 T packed brown sugar, divided
2 T sugar
1 large egg
3/4 cup plus 2 T old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/8 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 T nonfat dry milk powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted, cooled slightly
6.5 T heavy whipping cream
4 large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
Powdered sugar for dusting

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line 13x9x2 baking pan with parchment paper; coat with nonstick spray. 
  2. Combine 6 T butter, 4 T brown sugar, and 2 T sugar in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat mixture until light and fluffy, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add egg; beat until pale and fluffy. Add oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and beat until well blended, about 1 minute.
  4. Turn oat mixture out onto prepared baking pan; press out evenly to edges of pan. Bake 17 to 18 minutes. Transfer baking pan to rack and cool cookie completely.
  5. Using hands, crumble oat cookie into large bowl; add 3 T butter and 1.5 T brown sugar. Rub in with fingertips until mixture is moist enough to stick together. 
  6. Transfer cookie crust mixture to 9-in diameter glass pie dish. Using fingers, press evenly onto bottom and up the sides. Place pie dish with crust on rimmed baking sheet.
  7. Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350. Whisk both sugars, milk powder, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Add melted butter and whisk until blended. Add cream, then egg yolks, and vanilla and whisk until well blended.
  8. Pour filling into crust and bake pie 30 minutes (filling may begin to bubble).
  9. Reduce oven temperature to 325 and continue to bake until filling is brown in spots and set around the edges. Center will still move slightly when the dish is gently shaken - about 20 minutes longer.
  10. Cool pie 2 hours in pie dish on rack. Chill uncovered overnight. Can be made 2 days ahead.
  11. Before serving, sift powdered sugar lightly over top of pie. Serve cold.

Zucchini Brownies

These sound bizarre - believe me, I know. I needed to bring dessert to the boy's family's annual Labor Day gathering and I've been itching to make this one recipe I found in Bon Appétit (crack pie - look for that post after this one). I had no idea how the pie would turn out, so I thought I'd bring brownies as a safe bet back-up (and it was kid-friendly for the 6 little ones we had there). When I opened up my fridge and saw mounds of zucchini and (of course!) no eggs, I remembered seeing this recipe and figured I'd try it out. What are the odds of a double dessert failure?!

Luckily, the brownies were a HUGE hit. Even my father-in-law, who hates zucchini and isn't a big fan of chocolate, thought they were great. I definitely recommend them if your garden is overflowing with zuchs! The icing is what really makes them perfect (alone the brownie was just a tiny bit bland).

Zucchini Brownies
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups shredded zucchini
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup margarine
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9x13 inch baking pan. I like to use cocoa powder to flour the pan so the brownies don't have white powder all over the bottom.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the oil, sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla until well blended. Combine the flour, 1/2 cup cocoa, baking soda and salt; stir into the sugar mixture. Fold in the zucchini. Spread evenly into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until brownies spring back when gently touched. 
  4. To make the frosting, melt together the 6 tablespoons of cocoa and margarine; set aside to cool. In a medium bowl, blend together the confectioners' sugar, milk and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Stir in the cocoa mixture. Spread over cooled brownies before cutting into squares.

Sunday, September 4, 2011


Yesterday was the first day of college football - whoo hoo! I love watching the games...but not nearly as much as the boy. I can sit still for at least one game...*sometimes* two, depending on who is playing. He could sit there for an entire day and watch?! With yesterday being the first week, that's what he did. When the kids were napping, I was already getting antsy, so I decided to make lasagna. This recipe takes awhile and has lots of steps, but is worth it. The cold leftovers for breakfast are pretty darn delicious, too!

1 pound ground sausage
1 pound lean ground beef
1/2 cup minced onion
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
1 (15 ounce) can canned tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
18 lasagna noodles
15 ounces ricotta cheese
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 pound shredded mozzarella cheese

  1. In a Dutch oven, cook sausage, ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat until well browned. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water. Season with sugar, basil, Italian seasoning, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons parsley. Simmer, covered, for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  2. Fill a pan with hot water and soak lasagna noodles while sauce is cooking (sounds strange, but it works AND saves you from cleaning another pan). 
  3. In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese with egg, remaining parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  5. To assemble, layer 6 noodles along bottom of a 9x13 baking dish. Spread 1 1/2 cups of meat sauce on top. Arrange 6 noodles lengthwise over meat sauce. Spread with one half of the ricotta cheese mixture. Top with a third of mozzarella cheese. Spoon 1 1/2 cups meat sauce over mozzarella. Repeat layers, and top with remaining mozzarella. 
  6. Cover with foil and bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes. Remove foil, and bake an additional 40 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before serving. 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Steaks, beans and potatoes

I found this steak marinade recipe about a year and a half ago and immediately fell in love! P-M (pre-marinade), I would just slap on a little olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic onto my steaks and have the boy grill them up. They were always good, nothing extraordinary, but still tasty. Since I've found this recipe, though, I won't make them any other way. I also use some of the marinade on the veggies that we serve with it - adds a little punch to them, but not in an overwhelming way.

This last time we had steaks, I made them with beans that were fresh picked from our garden, and with some garlic red potatoes we had picked up through our crop share.

Garlic Red Potatoes

2 pounds red potatoes, quartered
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1 lemon, juiced
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

  1.  Preheat oven to 350 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. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over potatoes.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 60 minutes (or until golden brown).

Best. Marinade. Ever.
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon concentrated lemon juice (or 1/3 cup of fresh lemon juice)
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes

  1. Place all ingredients in a large Ziploc bag. Knead bag to mix ingredients.
  2. Place steaks inside bag and marinate for up to 8 hours (I did 4 hours and they were perfect).

Monday, August 8, 2011

Zucchini Bread

Our CSA has been phenomenal lately and we've been getting all sorts of amazing veggies! Over the past few weeks we've accumulated enough zucchini to feed a small army. With our latest batch, I decided to make a batch of bread just to get a little variety in (the kiddos are sick of it grilled up as a side). I love this recipe even though it's far from healthy (I mean, c'mon - 1 cup of vegetable oil?!? yikes!), but I can taste the difference when things are substituted, so what the heck? We'll forget the calorie count this time and just make it tasty. Linds helped out and we got two loaves out of a single recipe...and I have enough zucchini shredded and frozen for another two loaves when these run out.

Zucchini Bread

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 1/4 cups white sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups grated zucchini (we had one HUGE, extra-large zucchini that was plenty...otherwise, it would be 2 medium)

  1. Grease 8 x 4 inch pans. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Sift flour, salt, baking powder, soda, and cinnamon together in a bowl.
  3. Beat eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar together in a large bowl. 
  4. Add sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture, and beat well. Stir in zucchini until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pans.
  5. Bake for 40 to 60 minutes, or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean. 
  6. Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes. Remove bread from pan, and completely cool. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Champagne Shrimp Over Pasta

I've been itching to make this one since I saw it on (my faaaavorite recipe site!), but always forgot the champagne when at the liquor store. I finally remembered it during last week's trip and made it tonight for the boy and myself. He didn't get home until 7:30 and I knew it was one of those dishes that wouldn't reheat well, so the kids were stuck eating grilled cheeses while we enjoyed this. We LOVED it and definitely will add it to the rotation! The original recipe calls for plum tomatoes and sauteed mushrooms to be added with it, but the boy won't eat the 'shrooms and neither of us are big tomato people.

Champagne Shrimp Over Pasta

8 ounces angel hair pasta
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 1/2 cups champagne
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1 cup heavy creamsalt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
freshly grated Parmesan cheese

  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook pasta in boiling water for 6 to 8 minutes or until al dente; drain.
  2. Combine shrimp, champagne, and salt in a frying pan, and cook over high heat. When liquid just begins to boil, remove shrimp from pan. Add shallots to champagne; boil until liquid is reduced to 1/2 cup, about 8 minutes. Stir in 3/4 cup cream; boil until slightly thick, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add shrimp to sauce, and heat through. Adjust seasonings to taste.
  3. Toss hot, cooked pasta with remaining 1/4 cup cream and parsley. 
  4. To serve, spoon shrimp with sauce over pasta, and top with Parmesan cheese. 

    Monday, July 18, 2011

    Oriental Steak & Veggie Stir-fry

    It's rare I come across a recipe that everyone will eat and enjoy equally well. Everyone in our family has unique taste buds, and I often struggle finding stuff that satisfies all of 'em. Usually it's the boy and me stuffing our faces while Linds and Luke refuse to eat...but today was a different story. Now, I knew the boy and I would be fine, but that Luke would for sure not eat this, so I heated the little man up some mac and cheese (I keep reminding myself that Linds was picky until she turned 3 or 4, so just give him some time). Linds I wasn't too sure about - she can be hit or miss with beef dishes or rice dishes.

    Normally I would have skewered the beef and veggies and grilled it all up, but the dark skies and 90+ degree heat were too unappealing, so I just stir-fried it up on the stove. To my amazement, Linds finished her ENTIRE bowl. I was beyond shocked...even when she likes a meal, she rarely finishes it. She scarfed down zucchini and squash with an overzealous appetite, eagerly ate our garden's peppers (and chattered endlessly about how cool it was to eat food that we grew ourselves), and declared the red onion her new favorite vegetable. She even ate a few bites of the beef and polished off the rice. Honestly, it was like it was some alien child sitting in her seat - I was speechless. You know, it's one thing when the boy thanks me for dinner and said it tasted good, but when my once-picky daughter inhales her portion and waxes philosophical about all the components of a meal - well, that just makes me feel like I'm doing my job right.

    I'll post the marinade recipe below, but the rest of it is to your liking. I tossed the veggies we had on hand in a little olive oil and soy sauce and fried those up in one pan, cooked our rice in the rice cooker, and then cooked the beef in the marinade stove top in another pan. Let everyone do their own mix and match and, voila!, dinner.

    Oriental Beef Marinade
    1 lb sirloin steak, cubed
    1/4 cup soy sauce
    1/4 cup honey
    1/4 cup lemon juice
    1/4 cup olive oil
    1 packet Lipton Beefy Onion dry soup mix

    1. Mix soy sauce, honey, lemon juice, olive oil and soup mix in a Ziploc bag.
    2. Add beef and let marinate at least 8 hours.

    Monday, July 11, 2011

    Pork BBQ & Potato Salad

    I knew my afternoon was going to be a hectic one. We have a wonderful couple who comes in and cleans our house every other week (upon my insistence once I started working again...the boy wasn't keen at first and has quickly changed his mind!), and they come in at 3:00. It's a tough time of day - still nap time for the kiddos and not much do to late afternoon that doesn't interfere with dinner. Plus, it eats up my prep/cook time, so I need quick, easy and CLEAN meals to make for dinner (I don't want to mess up the house that quickly!).

    I was home all day yesterday and bored by 3ish, so I decided to put together stuff for pork BBQ to crockpot all day, and to use the onions, eggs and potatoes we got from the farm for a potato salad before they go bad. It was the PERFECT day to have dinner ready - not a particularly bad day, but as a friend put it, one of those days where you get so many papercuts that it leads to one big injury. Not only was it nice to have dinner ready to go as soon as I got home from errands tonight, it tasted so flippin delicious!

    And the best part: it was a hit amongst the ENTIRE family! Linds ate two full sandwiches and a big scoop of the potato salad, the boy chowed down when got home from work, and kid who really only eats hot dogs, pizza, pb&js and chicken nuggets - well he ate half a sandwich. I was shocked to say the least! The prep for this meal took an hour or two, but I doubled the pork because I had a 6 lb roast and potato salad is always going to take forever. The recipe below is for a 3 or 4 lb roast. The potato salad doesn't have many ingredients either, but is still very tasty - almost like a loaded baked potato! YUM :)

    Pork BBQ
    1 teaspoon vegetable oil
    1 (3 or 4 pound) pork shoulder roast
    1 cup barbeque sauce
    1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
    1/2 cup chicken broth
    1/4 cup light brown sugar
    1 tablespoon prepared yellow mustard
    1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
    1 tablespoon chili powder
    2 large cloves garlic, crushed
    1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
    8 hamburger buns

    1. Pour the vegetable oil into the bottom of a slow cooker. Place the pork roast into the slow cooker; pour in the barbecue sauce, apple cider vinegar, and chicken broth. Stir in the brown sugar, yellow mustard, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, garlic, and thyme. 
    2. Cover and cook on low (10-12 hours) or high (5-6 hours) until the roast shreds easily with a fork.
    3. Remove the roast from the slow cooker, and shred the meat using two forks. Return the shredded pork to the slow cooker, and stir the meat into the juices. Serve on hamburger buns. 

    Red-Skin Potato Salad
    2 pounds clean, scrubbed new red potatoes
    6 eggs
    1 pound bacon
    scallions, finely chopped
    2 cups mayonnaise
    handful of cheddar cheese

    1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender but still firm, about 15 minutes. Drain and set in the refrigerator to cool.
    2. Place eggs in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring water to a boil and immediately remove from heat. Cover and let eggs stand in hot water for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from hot water, cool, peel and chop.
    3. Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain, crumble and set aside.
    4. Chop the cooled potatoes, leaving skin on. Add to a large bowl, along with the eggs, bacon, and onion. Stir in mayonnaise. Chill overnight.

      Monday, July 4, 2011

      Our garden is growing!

      I wish I could take credit for our veggie garden production, but the boy gets the nod for this one! At my direction (insistence?!), he was the one who bought the plants, taught Linds how to create a veggie garden, makes sure everything is watered daily, and has been picking everything. This year we've already had a little of the three types we planted, which is way better than our last attempt. Last summer we tried zucchini, peppers and beans and all we ended up with were beans. This year we've picked enough beans for a few meals, 2 peppers and a single strawberry (we're having issues with some critters snacking on our berries).

      All of our haul from our own garden goes along with what we pull in from our CSA (red potatoes, spring onions, garlic, peas, beans, swiss chard, cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, etc.). I tell you what - the 35 minute drive to pick stuff up may be a bit of a pain, but knowing all of our veggies are 100% pesticide/herbicide free and picked fresh within hours of us receiving them is pretty cool. Plus, supporting this young Mennonite couple who are trying to turn their hobby of growing into their source of money is rewarding.

      Below is an updated photo of our garden. For those not familiar with the bell, it used to sit atop the boy's grandparents' barn on their farm in Lititz. After they sold the farm, they moved it to their front yard of the home they purchased. It's an important relic to the boy, and when his grandfather was contemplating selling it, Scott insisted on keeping it as a family heirloom to pass down to future generations. We thought it was fitting to sit at the head of our garden since it once overlooked the farm, so with a little rebuilding effort, the boy installed it last summer. It's a neat reminder of the Rissers' roots!

      Tuesday, June 21, 2011


      So as I was going through my Blogger account, I realized I sent this photo to myself, but never did the actual blog post for it. I figure, what the hell? Might as well finish something I already started.

      To be honest, I have no recollection of making this, however I can barely remember yesterday, so there's nothing new there! Regardless, I love this burger recipe - it makes the most basic burger (don't expect anything fancy or flavorful), but it's juicy and doesn't have that "freezer taste" some store bought burgers have.

      1 egg
      1/2 tsp salt
      1/2 tsp pepper
      1/2 cup bread crumbs
      1 lb ground beef

      1. Mix all ingredients and form into 6 burgers.
      2. Grill over medium heat or pan-fry on the stove.

      Monday, June 20, 2011

      Pampers GTG Codes

      It's been SO long since I've posted any Gifts to Grow Codes, so I thought I'd add all the latest ones I've used. Not sure which are still active, but give it a shot! This first one does expire on June 24th at 11:59 p.m.

      FXHMWY4WKHU47JD = 10 Points

      10PTSFREECODE4U = 10 Points
      CAREFORNEWBORNS = 10 Points
      CONGRATS2NEWMOM = 10 Points
      GETSTARTEDNOW10 = 10 Points
      GTGCOUPONPOINTS = 10 Points
      GTGWELCOME10PTS = 10 Points
      PAMPERS4MOMSOND = 10 Points
      Pampersgtg10pts = 10 Points
      PUNTOSPARAMI123 = 10 Points
      WELCOME2VILLAGE = 10 Points
      2BEGINEARNING50 = 50 Points
      JOINNOW4REWARDS = 50 Points
      GIFTSTOGROW4MOM = 50 Points
      WELCOME2PAMPERS = 50 Points
      GTGREWARDS4MOMS = 10 Points
      WELCOMEGTGPTS10 = 10 Points


      Friday, June 17, 2011

      Diaper Deals

      I came across some great deals from and thought I'd pass them along! Any orders over $49 ship for free :)

      These are good through the end of September:
      $10 off your first order, plus $5 off every subsequent case of diapers. Plus FREE shipping! Code: "FIVEAFF" (expires 9/30)

      $5 off a case of diapers with Code FIVEAFF For All Existing Customers

      These are running out in the near future:
      Save $1.50 On ONE Pampers Cruisers, Swaddler Sensitive or Extra Protection Diapers. (expires 7/2)

      Save $2.00 on Any ONE package of HUGGIES Snug & Dry Diapers (no code needed) - exp 6/20

      Save $2.00 on Any ONE package of HUGGIES Little Movers Diapers (no code needed) - exp 6/20

      DEAL IDEA:
      But one giant case of Huggies Snug & Dry and one giant case of Huggies Little Movers and with coupons and discount codes, your total will be $55.98 - enough for free shipping! Depending what size you get, you'll be paying roughly 20 cents/diaper - not a bad deal! Happy shopping, mamas and dad :)

      Thursday, June 16, 2011


      Finally made the ribs I've been planning on Tuesday night...I've been soooo hungry for them (as have the rest of the family). Between the four of us, we polished off almost 3 lbs. NICE! The recipe is super easy and are just as good as you can get at any restaurant (claims the boy, who is picky about his ribs). A friend of mine just asked for the recipe, too, so Lisa will have to chime in!

      Slow Cooker Ribs
      4 lbs. pork baby back ribs
      salt, pepper, minced onion and garlic powder to taste
      2 cups Sweet Baby Rays barbecue sauce
      1 cup ketchup (only Heinz in this household!)
      1/2 cup packed brown sugar
      4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
      2 teaspoons dried oregano
      2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
      1 dash of hot sauce

      1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
      2. Season ribs with salt, pepper, minced onion and garlic powder. Place in a shallow baking pan. Brown in oven 15 minutes. Turn over, and brown another 15 minutes; drain fat.
      3. In a medium bowl, mix together the barbecue sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, oregano, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce. Place ribs in slow cooker. Pour sauce over ribs, and turn to coat.
      4. Cover, and cook on low 6 to 8 hours, or until ribs are tender.
      5. About 30 minutes before serving, place back in baking pan at 400 degrees F and the sauce will caramelize to the meat and finish them to perfection.

      Oreo Pudding Pie

      I forgot to add this to the ziti post, so I figured I'd do it separately! This was what I sent over with the ziti, garlic crescent rolls and salad. It was DELISH (I didn't get a full piece, but I sure did lick the bowl ;-) hehe).

      Oreo Pudding Pie
      2 pkg. (3.4 oz. each)JELL-O OREO Flavor Instant Pudding
      2-1/2 cups cold milk
      1 tub (8 oz.)COOL WHIP Whipped Topping, thawed, divided
      1 OREO Pie Crust (6 oz.)
      5 OREO Cookies, cut in half

      1. Beat pudding mixes and milk with whisk 2 min. 
      2. Stir in half the COOL WHIP and pour into crust. 
      3. Refrigerate 4 hours or until firm. 
      4. Top with remaining COOL WHIP and cookies just before serving.

      Monday, June 13, 2011

      Baked Ziti

      When a good friend of mine has a baby, loses a loved one, falls ill, moves, or otherwise is in need of an extra hand, the first thing that comes to mind is, "let me make you dinner!" I'm not sure why food is ingrained in my mind as the solution to any guess is that it is my mom's influence (she's the same way - show someone you care with a big ol' casserole or dish of pasta!). Regardless, all of the people in my life know that when the going gets tough, Erica gets cooking :)

      When a new, but dear pal suffered with some health issues, I insisted on bringing her and her men some food (she's married with two of the kindest, most respectful sons I've ever met). Rachele is a wonderfully special person to me and has, on several occasions, made me realize how much more capable of things I really am. Food still doesn't seem like enough, but it's what I do.

      I decided to put together my baked ziti and tossed in some salad, garlic crescent rolls and an Oreo pudding pie. I'm not gonna lie - I *almost* "forgot" that pie when I went to her place ;-) It looked SO good! Sorry to my veggie friends...this is definitely not a recipe I can adapt and still give the same effect. The meat is what makes it!

      Baked Ziti
      1 lb ziti noodles
      1 lb ground sausage
      1/2 lb ground beef
      3 cups mozzarella cheese
      3 cups marinara/spaghetti sauce
      1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

      1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
      2. Cook ziti in boiling water; drain.
      3. Brown meats; drain off fat.
      4. In a large baking dish, layer ziti, meat, cheese and sauce; repeat until everything has been used.
      5. Top with Parmesan cheese.
      6. Bake about 30 - 40 minutes until bubbly.

      Sunday, June 12, 2011

      Cornbread Enchilada Casserole

      Wow, so no gold star for keeping the blog up-to-date for me! Hehe - it's officially summer now that preschool is over and you all know how great a job I do at maintaining a cooking routine when there's no "normalcy" in my schedule. Between Luke's birthday, the kiddos' nights over with my parents and the boy's parents, and all the other craziness our schedule has endured the past two weeks, we've barely eaten at home. And when we have, it's junky quick food - nuggets, mac-n-cheese, PB&Js, burgers, hot dogs, etc.

      I did manage to cook once last week and was so super excited - cornbread chicken enchilada casserole! This recipe was the most read post from the blog last year (thank you Mrs. Katie Brumbelow!) and one of my personal favorites. I was stoked to make it, seeing as I had a fresh jar of salsa from the farm with which we're doing our crop share, and at 5:00 when I opened up the crockpot, I was ready to eat it straight out of the pot. I took the first big bite and after I burnt half my mouth, I realized that it would never fly with the kiddos. The salsa, while absolutely PERFECT for me and the boy, would be just a bit too spicy for them. Linds took one sniff and said, "whoa - that is like, a hundred million thousand, seventy-hundred, sixty-two" spicy." (Yes, she is into numbers lately and strings together as many as possible to exaggerate her assuredness of something.)

      Now, as I'm writing the update, I've been back and forth with Katie, and it seems as if we're planning to repeat our cooking extravaganza next week - and if so, look for some photos and a post of all the yummy stuff we're going to make! So, here's a repost of the casserole recipe, and a little tease for what's to come! ;-)

      Cornbread Enchilada Casserole
      1 small can diced green chiles (4 oz)
      1/2 cup of your favorite salsa
      3 to 4 chopped scallions (or 1/4 cup onion)
      2 cups shredded cooked chicken (or a box of Perdue chicken shortcuts)
      1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
      1 can corn with red & green peppers, drained
      1 (10 oz.) can enchilada sauce
      1/2 cup egg substitute (or 2 eggs)
      1 (8.5 oz) package corn muffin mix
      1 1/2 cups (6 oz) shredded Mexican cheese
      for garnish - sour cream, fresh cilantro

      1. Place salsa, scallions, chicken, beans, corn, half the chilies, and enchilada sauce into the cooker; stir well. Cover with lid and cook on LOW for 4 hours.
      2. Combine the other half of the chiles, corn muffin mix, and egg in a bowl. Spoon batter evenly over the bean mixture in the cooker. Cover and cook 1 hour until the crust is done.
      3. Sprinkle the cheese over the corn bread, turn off the crockpot and let it sit 5 minutes until the cheese melts. Top each serving with a tablespoon of sour cream and additional cilantro. Makes about 6 servings (unless you're me, then it's like 3...haha!).

      And, while I'm at it, I realize I have a few veggie friends who don't eat meat, and I wouldn't mind expanding my "meat-free" wings here and there. I'm pretty sure this would be just as delish without the chicken, so perhaps next time around I'll use mild salsa and go meat-free!

      Wednesday, May 25, 2011

      May 25 - Apple Pie!

      So today is my little man's birthday...he's already two years old! I can't believe how quickly these two years have gone...I can still remember him curled up in my lap, nursing away when he was a teeny tiny little guy (well, he was 14 lbs. by 8 weeks, so maybe not that teeny tiny?! but definitely smaller!). I can't post about him without including a few of my favorite photos :)


      1 month:

      Almost 6 months:

      1st birthday:

      2nd birthday:

      When I asked him what he wanted for his birthday surprise (cake, ice cream, pie, brownies, cookies, etc.), he screamed "pie!" Now, when I was a kid, I asked for my mom's apple pie from scratch every single year. It was tradition for as long as I can remember. When Luke said pie, I was SO excited to continue the tradition! Linds and I wrapped presents and then around 8:30 last night we started the pie. I completely forgot how long the process was! The crust alone took a good 20 minutes, the peeling, coring and slicing up the apples took awhile, and then it's a 45 minute bake time. Whew! It was all worth it though because that pie tasted AMAZING!

      Apple Pie
      Crust Ingredients:
      1 & 1/4 cup flour
      1/2 tsp salt
      1/3 cup shortening

      Filling Ingredients:
      3/4 cup sugar
      1/4 cup flour
      1/2 tsp nutmeg
      1/2 tsp cinnamon
      dash of salt
      6 apples (skinned/sliced)

      Topping Ingredients:
      1 cup flour
      1/2 cup margarine
      1/2 cup brown sugar

      Mix flour and salt. Add 1/3 cup shortening. Mix with hands and 3 or 4 T of cold water until forms into ball. Roll out on floured surface. Form into baking dish.

      Combine powdered ingredients and add apples to mix. Put in crust.

      Turn into crumb by playing with it. Top pie with mixture and bake for 45 minutes at 425 degrees.

      May 24 - Garlic-Lemon Double Stuffed Chicken Breasts

      Linds has been begging for mashed potatoes lately and since her last day of school is Wednesday, I figured I'd make them Tuesday night as a pre-celebration. I made the taters, green beans with almonds and garlic-lemon double stuffed chicken breasts. It didn't dawn on me how much butter I used until after I was done - used a good amount over the chicken, sautéed the almonds in it, added a little to the beans, and then all the butter that goes into the the time I was done, my nice little meat/potato/veggie meal felt as greasy as fast food?!? It tasted great, but I'd like to just ignore the calorie count that was in that one, thankyouverymuch!

      The chicken was really good...a little rich, but otherwise tasty. I mostly eyeballed amounts and used what I thought we'd eat, so there's not many measurements. I usually do two large breasts for our family, which is always plenty.

      Garlic-Lemon Double Stuffed Chicken Breasts
      oil, for greasing pan
      2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
      1/3-fat cream cheese, cut into 1/2 inch slices
      shredded Cheddar cheese
      Italian seasoned bread crumbs
      Parmesan cheese
      1 tablespoon minced garlic
      3/4 cup butter, melted
      2 tablespoons lemon juice

      1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly coat a large, shallow baking dish with oil.
      2. Pound chicken flat. Coat one side with cream cheese and sprinkle cheddar on top. Roll together and place toothpicks through to hold. Set aside.
      3. Pour milk into a shallow bowl. In a separate bowl, combine breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese. Carefully dip each breast first in milk, then in breadcrumb mixture, patting lightly to firmly coat. Place breasts side by side in a single layer in pre-oiled baking dish, tucking edges under to seal.
      4. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in lemon juice and garlic, and drizzle evenly over chicken.
      5. Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes, or until no longer pink in center and juices run clear.

      Monday, May 23, 2011

      May 23 - Crab Quiche

      I finally squeezed in grocery shopping Saturday afternoon (which totally reminded me why I *never* run errands during the packed in the store even at 2:00?!?), and then we had a family dinner out at PF Chang's later that afternoon. Yesterday my friend Meg and I ran the Victory 5K and celebrated afterwards with drinks and apps at Victory Brewing Company. I beat my previous race time by 3.5 minutes, finishing in 26:13 - the fastest I've ever done!

      So today is officially the first day since actually having food that I cooked. I decided to make a crab quiche - it's been awhile since I've done a BFD (breakfast for dinner for the new followers) - and it was excellent. Last time I made it, I just did the crab and green onions, but I bought some asparagus and it gave it the perfect extra kick. Definitely putting this one back in the rotation more often!

      Crab Quiche
      1/2 cup light mayonnaise
      2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
      3 eggs
      1/2 cup milk
      2 cans crab meat (or 1 cup fresh)
      1.5 cups shredded Swiss cheese
      1/2 cup chopped green onions
      5 spears asparagus, chopped
      1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust

      1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
      2. In a medium bowl, mix together eggs, mayonnaise, flour, milk, crab, cheese, asparagus and onion. Spread into pie shell.
      3. Bake for 60 - 75 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

        Friday, May 20, 2011

        CSA-ing it this summer!

        After some consideration, we decided this year to join a CSA (community-supported agriculture) farm. I'm so excited about this! We are not great veggie eaters in this house, and it's been a bit of a challenge to introduce new foods to the boys especially (Linds and I are pretty non-discriminatory with what we eat; Scott and Luke are a bit pickier). We shopped around and found Shady Pine Farm in East Earl, Pa (just minutes from Shady Maple...yummmm) and decided to go with them. It's a bit of a hike for us (45 minute drive each week), but again - close to Shady Maple (good excuse for a dinner out) and it's also close to the boy's fam, so we can turn it into a visit.

        For those not familiar with CSAs, it is a great opportunity to support local farmers, as well as to get chemical/pesticide-free fruits and vegetables straight from the farm (talk about the freshest produce possible!). Shady Pine offers about 5-10 vegetables and herbs weekly, and they have their site organized like a market where you can pick what you'd like.

        I'm hoping that this will force us to expand our palate and start enjoying more veggies and less starches. We'll probably do the Hershey Farm Market's meat package, too, which means grocery shopping and meals should be a snap for the next few months. Lots of grilling is on the horizon!

        If you're interested in joining a CSA, you can find lots of good information and listings at

        Should I start this back up?

        I'm on my last bit of crumbs on the shelves (and yes, managed to delay grocery shopping ANOTHER day!), and as I started planning out a few meals that I needed to shop for, I felt a total lack of inspiration. Spaghetti, grilled chicken, tacos ::YAWN:: I needed some new recipes (or old favs I forgot about), flipped through my recipe box on AllRecipes and then wondered why I haven't bothered to scroll back through here. I came across a few recipes that I haven't made in ages and added a bunch to the menu: cornbread chicken enchilada casserole (Katie B's sensational recipe!), crab quiche, and ribs.

        As I went back through old entries, I came across some really great memories...Luke's diagnosis with his peanut allergy and our journey into peanut-free living (guess who's a peanut butter fanatic now with no issues?), beers and park food with Uncle Zach and Aunt Rachel when the three of us took the kids to Hersheypark, Lindsay's and my colorful rice krispies treats...things that I had nearly forgotten about.

        So, I've said it before, and I'm sure I'll say it again - I think I'm going to try to get back into this! My tenure as MOMS Club president is coming to an end, so I will have a little extra time on my hands. I'm working now, but don't put in enough hours to be able to use that as an excuse. Bear with me...I'm sure my effort will be shaky at first, but I'll hopefully fall back into the routine.

        Tuesday, February 22, 2011

        Free American Baby Magazine Subscription!

        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


        For those of you who are addicts to those daily deal sites (Groupon, Living Social, KGB Deals, etc.), here's one specific to moms, kids and babies. They've got lots of great buys on the site! Sign your e-mail up and you'll get a daily e-mail with their latest (today through Friday they're offering super cute 3-piece infant tank/capris/tutu outfits for under $15!).


        Free Starbucks!

        If you're anything like me, you're a sucker for a cup of coffee made by someone else...for some reason, my brew just doesn't taste as good no matter if I use the same beans or not. If I'm out and about, I'm known to splurge on Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts if the opportunity presents itself. I didn't realize, however, Starbucks has a rewards program, so of course I signed up and wanted to share the offer with you, too :) Just click the image below to sign up (all of the perks are listed below). Enjoy!


        Welcome Level Perks (1-4 stars)

        - Free drink on your birthday

        Green Level Perks (5 stars +)

        - All Welcome Level perks
        - Free syrups and milk options for your beverage
        - Free refills for brewed coffee or tea
        - Free Tall (12 fl oz) beverage of your choice with whole bean purchase
        - Free trial offers and updates

        Gold Level Perks (30 stars+)

        - All Welcome and Green Level perks
        - Free beverage with every 15 stars you earn
        - Special Customized Gold Level card
        - Personalized offers and coupons

        80% off

        Another 80% sale at! The code is good through Monday. Click the image below and snag some certificates. For my Chester County people, there are a bunch of new places they've added - Twenty 9 Restaurant & Bar and Venice Pizza & Pasta in Malvern; Downingtown Country Club in D-town; Rino's Italian and the Bistro at Our Town in Exton; and the following in West Chester: Barnaby's, Shoo Mama's Fresh Farm Cafe, Olive Branch Tapas, Ryan's Pub, and the Courtyard Inn.

        New recipes!

        If I can keep up with this every two weeks, it's at least an improvement from once a month, right?! I seem to keep losing time more quickly as the days roll by, and I don't quite know how not to get lost in it. The gap in time probably wasn't helped by the fact that I needed to grocery shop and a lot of the meals were repeats of stuff I've done before. I did finally go shopping this past Thursday and managed to save $75 in coupons...I was pretty stoked about that! It took my $300 grocery down considerably.

        I forgot to post my latest Munchin Mamas recipe from January. We had a "Make It or Break It" theme where we could have brought something healthy that went along with everyone's resolutions to eat healthier/diet/lose weight/etc., or we could bring something absolutely decadently delicious. I went the healthy route and made quinoa and black beans. I've never made quinoa, and now I'm a BIG fan! I added a little sour cream to the recipe just to give it some extra "oomph." I also made a baked three-cheese macaroni dish with bacon (yes, ANOTHER mac-and-cheese recipe) over the weekend that Linds, Scott and I liked (Luke is unfortunately still in his "I hate everything but ketchup" mode). Tonight was one of our favs - taco salads. Even Linds ate it for dinner (she's finally reached the age where she'll eat pretty much everything we do).

        There are a few good deals out there, too, which I'll try to post. Hopefully this won't be the last post until mid-March ;-)

        Quinoa w/ Black Beans
        1 teaspoon vegetable oil
        1 onion, chopped
        3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
        3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
        1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
        1 teaspoon ground cumin
        1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
        salt and pepper to taste
        1 cup frozen corn kernels
        2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
        1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
        Sour cream

        1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the onion and garlic, and saute until lightly browned.
        2. Mix quinoa into the saucepan and cover with vegetable broth. Season with cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes,
        3. Stir frozen corn into the saucepan, and continue to simmer about 5 minutes until heated through. Mix in the black beans and cilantro.
        4. Garnish with sour cream.

        Three-Cheese Baked Macaroni
        Coarse salt
        1/2 lb elbow macaroni
        3 slices bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2 in. pieces
        1.5 tsp minced garlic
        3 large eggs
        12-oz can evaporated milk
        1/8 tsp nutmeg
        1.5 cups grated sharp cheddar (6 oz.)
        1/2 cup grated Monterey Jack (2 oz.)
        1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan (1 oz.)

        1. Preheat oven to 475. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook macaroni 6 minutes (it will still be undercooked). Drain. 
        2. Meanwhile, heat a small skillet over medium and add bacon. Cook until fat is rendered and bacon is crisp, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds. 
        3. With a slotted spoon, transfer bacon mixture to a medium bowl. Add macaroni and stir to combine. 
        4. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and evaporated milk. Add ½ tsp salt, nutmeg, and cheese; mix well. Add macaroni mixture and stir well to combine. 
        5. Transfer to an 8 or 9-inch square baking dish or a 2-qt gratin dish. With a spoon, gently spread mixture to form an even layer. 
        6. Bake just until sauce is bubbling at edges, 15-20 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

        Sunday, February 6, 2011

        Catch-up time!

        So I feel like this is completely inexcusable - I mean, really? Nearly a month since I've updated? Wow, I suck. In my defense, I started working part-time from home, so by the time the kiddos are in bed, I usually catch up on a few work things that didn't get done during naptime and then try to get a few minutes in with the boy before completely crashing. We also joined our local YMCA and I've become totally addicted to going to the gym. Let me preface this by saying that I've *never* been very much into exercising, playing sports, etc., but since joining I've learned to love running (signed up for the Broad Street 10-mile run in May) and doing Body Pump (a barbell class that makes lifting not only tolerable, but almost kind of fun!). Mentally, I feel the best that I have in a long, long time. Physically, I'm in better shape than I've been in at least six or seven years (even lost 5 or 6 lbs since the beginning of the year!).

        So, I think I've made enough excuses for now ;-) I'll post a few recipes that I've made over the last couple weeks to help make up for the disappearing act. I made my baked potato pizza for the game, too, so I'll repost that favorite.

        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

        Beer Glazed Ham
        1 boneless fully cooked ham (3 lbs.)
        1 can beer
        1 cup packed brown sugar
        2 T balsamic vinegar
        2 tsp ground mustard

        1. Place ham on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Score the surface of the ham, making diamond shapes ½ inch deep. 
        2. Set aside 2 T beer. Pour remaining beer over ham. 
        3. Bake, uncovered at 350 for 1 hour. 
        4. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, vinegar, mustard and reserved beer; spread over ham.
        5. Bake 40-45 minutes longer or until a meat thermometer reads 140, basting occasionally.

          Saucy Pepper Steak
          1 green bell pepper, cut into strips
          1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
          1 yellow bell pepper, cut into strips
          1 small onion, cut into strips
          2 cloves garlic, minced
          1/2 tsp black pepper
          3 T lite soy sauce
          1/2 cup BBQ sauce
          2 cups hot cooked brown rice
          1 lb. trimmed beef sirloin steak, cut into strips

          1. Heat large nonstick skillet sprayed with cooking spray on medium-high heat. Add bell peppers and onions; cook and stir 6 to 8 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender. Transfer to large bowl; cover to keep warm. 
          2. Add meat, garlic and black pepper to same skillet; cook and stir 3 min. 
          3. Add soy sauce; cook 1 min. or until meat is cooked through, stirring occasionally. 
          4. Add BBQ sauce; cook until heated through. 
          5. Spoon meat mixture into bowl with vegetables; toss gently. Serve over rice. 
          Makes 4 servings. 330 calories, 6 g fat per serving.

          Rosemary Ranch Chicken Kabobs
          1/2 cup olive oil
          1/2 cup ranch dressing
          3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
          1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
          1 teaspoon salt
          1 teaspoon lemon juice
          1 teaspoon white vinegar
          1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste
          1 tablespoon white sugar, or to taste (optional)
          4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut into 1 inch cubes

          1. In a medium bowl, stir together the olive oil, ranch dressing, Worcestershire sauce, rosemary, salt, lemon juice, white vinegar, pepper, and sugar. Let stand for 5 minutes. Place chicken in the bowl, and stir to coat with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
          2. Preheat the grill for medium-high heat. Thread chicken onto skewers and discard marinade.
          3. Lightly oil the grill grate. Grill skewers for 8 to 12 minutes, or until the chicken is no longer pink in the center, and the juices run clear.

          Cheesy Potato and Corn Chowder
          2 tablespoons margarine
          1 cup chopped celery
          1 cup chopped onion
          2 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth
          3 cups peeled and cubed potatoes
          1 (15 ounce) can whole kernel corn
          1 (2.5 ounce) package country style gravy mix
          2 cups milk
          1 cup shredded Mexican-style processed cheese food

          1. In large saucepan, melt margarine over medium high heat. Add celery and onion; cook and stir until tender, about 5 minutes.
          2. Add chicken broth; bring to a boil. Add potatoes; cook over low heat for 20 to 25 minutes or until potatoes are soft, stirring occasionally.
          3. Stir in corn; return to boiling. Dissolve gravy mix in milk; stir into boiling mixture. Add cheese; cook and stir over low heat until cheese is melted.

          Monday, January 10, 2011

          January 10 - Chicken Pot Pie

          I just made one of these with my friend, Katie, and after making it with her, I decided I had to have one of my own! It turned out just the way I expected it and not only did the boy and I enjoy it, but so did Linds - even with all the veggies :) I was so, so happy - we all need more veggies in our diet. Luke boycotted dinner...again...I'm beginning to sound like a broken record, huh?!

          I bought regular frozen pie crusts and when I mixed everything together, there was WAY too much filling. I mixed the veggies/chicken and sauce, then divided in two and froze the other half. Now I have another pot pie ready to go (as soon as I buy more crusts!).

          Chicken Pot Pie
          1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cubed
          1 cup sliced carrots
          3/4 cup frozen green peas
          3/4 cup frozen corn
          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. 

          January 8 - Ribs and cornbread!

          The boy and I had a serious hankerin for some ribs, so I decided to make them on Saturday since they require a good hour in the morning to prep, crock potting all day, and half-hour in the evening to finish. I only have that free hour in the morning on Tuesdays and Fridays, so making ribs during the week is kinda tough. As usual, they turned out perfectly and he and I ate like crazy! Naturally Luke refused them (although he usually is a fiend...some sort of weird dinner aversion for him lately), and Linds was vomiting all Friday night, so we weren't about to even tempt fate. Luke did, however, eat many pieces of cornbread, so at least he put *something* in his system!

          Speaking of cornbread, I did a little something different. It usually calls for buttermilk, which I don't ever keep on hand. There's an easy substitution with vinegar and regular milk, but I needed my laptop to look that one up and it was in the basement...I was too lazy to go downstairs, so I checked my Joy of Cooking to see if it listed it. It did not give me that specific substitution, but it did suggest yogurt instead of the buttermilk. I was curious to see how that turned out, so I figured, what the hell?! The boy doesn't eat it, so worst case scenario, I don't get my cornbread. I'm glad I tried it - it was awesome! AND saved me some calories. I also bought a microwavable sweet potato, cooked it and used the mashed part in the batter rather than grating the uncooked potato. That was also a better alternative because now there was no "crunch" to the bread. This recipe far outweighs the older one I posted!

          Slow Cooker Ribs
          4 lbs. pork baby back ribs
          salt, pepper, minced onion and garlic powder to taste
          2 cups Cattleman barbecue sauce
          1 cup ketchup (only Heinz in this household!)
          1/2 cup packed brown sugar
          4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
          2 teaspoons dried oregano
          2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
          1 dash of hot sauce

          1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
          2. Season ribs with salt, pepper, minced onion and garlic powder. Place in a shallow baking pan. Brown in oven 15 minutes. Turn over, and brown another 15 minutes; drain fat.
          3. In a medium bowl, mix together the barbecue sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, oregano, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce. Place ribs in slow cooker. Pour sauce over ribs, and turn to coat.
          4. Cover, and cook on low 6 to 8 hours, or until ribs are tender.
          5. About 30 minutes before serving, place back in baking pan at 400 degrees F and the sauce will caramelize to the meat.

          Sweet Potato Corn Bread
          1 cup all-purpose flour
          1 cup cornmeal
          1/4 cup sugar
          1 tablespoon baking powder
          1 teaspoon salt
          1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
          1 egg, lightly beaten
          1 cup low-fat yogurt
          1 medium sweet potato, cooked, peeled and mashed

          1. Cook sweet potato and peel.
          2. Preheat oven to 425 F. Spray a 9x9 baking dish.
          3. In a large bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt; set aside. 
          4. In a small bowl, combine egg, buttermilk, sweet potato and softened butter.
          5. Fold liquid mixture into dry mixture and stir until just well blended.
          6. Pour into baking dish and bake 20 minutes, or until the center springs back when lightly pressed with a fingertip.

          January 5 - Honey Cashew Chicken

          I was looking over some old blog posts and came across the night I made cashew honey chicken. It was a huge hit before, so I figured it would be a sure hit. The boy and I still liked it as much (although this time he liked the beans and not the cashews - totally opposite of before). Linds ate a little, although this was the night before she got sick, so she didn't scarf it down like she did before. Luke? Well, Luke's been boycotting dinners again. ::SIGH:: My favorite part? It's super low-cal (only 190/serving with 4 total servings in the batch - not including the rice). Here's the recipe!

          Cashew Honey Chicken
          1 package PERDUE® SHORT CUTS® Carved Chicken Breast, Honey Roasted, 6 oz.
          1 cup chicken broth
          2 tablespoons soy sauce
          1 tablespoon brown sugar
          1 tablespoon cornstarch
          1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
          1 box (9 ounces) frozen cut green beans, thawed
          1/3 cup cashews

          1. In small bowl, whisk together broth, soy sauce, brown sugar, cornstarch and ginger. 
          2. In large nonstick skillet, stirring frequently, bring broth mixture to a boil over medium-high heat.
          3. Add chicken and green beans and heat, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes.
          4. Sprinkle with cashews and serve, if desired, over hot rice.

          Wednesday, January 5, 2011

          Free Enfamil!

          This one's for all the mamas out there...while I never formula-fed either of my kiddos, I know lots and lots of parents who would only feed their babies Enfamil. Click on the photo below and it will take you to Enfamil's site (yes, this is 100% legit) and you'll be able to print a certificate for a free sample of Enfamil!

          A *ton* of new coupons!!

          Holy coupons, Batman! There are a *ton* of coupons that have released in the new year. Click on any of them below to print them out! WOW :-)

          $1.00 off PEDIGREE DENTASTIX Treats for Dogs
          $1.00 off Any 2 MARS Valentine's Day Products
          25% off (up to $36) only at
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          $1.00 off Any Filippo Berio Olive Oil
          $3.00 off FUTURO™ Braces & Supports
          $1.00 off any Citracal
          $1.00 off ANY 1 Balmex Diaper Rash Product
          Buy ONE Get ONE FREE HP calendar
          Free Portrait Package & 50% OFF
          FREE Collage & EXTRA 20% OFF
          $1.00 off Disney Childrens' Vitamins
          $3.00 off 2 Huggies Snug & Dry Diapers
          $1.00 off any Garnier Fructis Style Product
          $0.50 off Pillsbury Toaster Strudel Pastries
          $0.75 off Yoplait yogurt
          $0.30 off Refrigerated Pillsbury Grands! Biscuit
          $1.00 off Muir Glen products
          $0.50 off Chex Mix Bars
          $0.40 off Pillsbury Sweet Rolls
          $0.50 off Fiber One Chewy Bars
          $0.50 off Pillsbury Crescent Dinner Rolls
          $0.55 off Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal
          $0.40 Yoplait Yogurt
          $1.00 off Cheerios cereal
          $0.50 off Nature Valley Granola Bars
          $1.00 off Garnier Fructis Shampoo or Conditioner
          $.75 off any ONE package of Rhodes™ Warm-N-Serv
          $0.50 off Betty Crocker Fruit Snacks
          $1.50 off Wanchai Ferry Frozen Entrée
          $1.00 off Any ONE Weight Watchers Bakery Items
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          $0.40 off Pillsbury Italian Meal Breads
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          $1.00 off Pillsbury Refrigerated Cookie Dough
          $0.50 off Yoplait Kids Yogurt
          $0.75 off Wheaties or Wheaties Fuel cereal
          $1.50 off Ziploc brand containers
          $1.00 off Ziploc brand bags
          $0.50 off 3 pkg or 1 BUNDLE PACK of KLEENEX
          $1.00 off 2 JELL-O Gelatin, Pudding or Mousse 6pks
          $0.55 off one Hillshire Farm Lower Sodium Product
          $5.00 off on any Leapster Explorer learning Game
          $0.55 off any one (1) DANNON DanActive 4 pack
          $0.75 off HORMEL COMPLEATS microwave meals
          $5.00 off on any Leapster learning game
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          Buy any 1 STAYFREE 14ct-24ct and Get One Free
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