Sunday, July 28, 2013


Four days after my last blog post, we welcomed Owen in to our life three weeks early. It was a whirlwind and pretty much has been since then. A wonderful whirlwind, for sure. Our wonderful friends and family took great care of us and provided us with so many great meals over the past three months. It's just about time to go back to school, so meals will need to be planned and made and all that, so I'll be revisiting a lot of old recipes.... hopefully updating some terrible pictures, too!

Monday, April 15, 2013

(Freezer) Fake-out Starbucks Breakfast Sandwiches

As I was looking for freezer recipes, I figured I should probably do something other than just "dinner" type foods. I made some pancakes (they're great reheated in the toaster) and a double batch of these breakfast sandwiches, which Norris says are amazing (he is my eager taste tester). I used the whole wheat 100 calorie English muffins and the baked 9x13 pan of eggs method here and it worked so great. I know I will appreciate a breakfast that is filling and full of protein. I am sure these will be made again!

from Thriving Home Blog

(Freezer) Ranch Cheddar Burgers

Another item to add to the freezer stash. I froze half and cooked half for dinner. Norris said they're really good, so I'm looking forward to trying them in a month or so! I followed the freezer instructions on these, also. Norris says the only thing to change would be to add more ranch flavoring next time, so I guess there will be a next time! Much better than those frozen burger patties (although those definitely aren't a terrible thing!).

Ranch Cheddar Burgers (links to recipe)
from Once a Month Mom

(Freezer) Mexican Chicken and Rice

We are within a few weeks of meeting our little man, so whenever I have enough energy and not too much swelling going on (so that combo doesn't happen too terribly often!), I am trying to get a meal stashed in the freezer. Norris keeps reminding me that he can cook for us, but I know we'll both appreciate having some things stored away to just pull out and heat that doesn't include frozen boxed pizza.

I can't attest to the flavor of this dish yet as it is in my freezer still, but I am already looking forward to eating it. I do know that the rice is awesome! I froze cooked rice for the first time recently and it reheated perfectly, so I am excited to have this (x2) in our freezer. I followed her freezer directions and this was really quick and easy to prep for the freezer. I think it would also be good in the crockpot if you don't have/don't want to use a grill.

from Once a Month Mom

Pea Salad

Yes, I do still exist. If you have seen me lately, you know I am definitely still eating, too! For a few weeks, I didn't get it together to make lunches for the week and have been eating a lot of cucumbers, hummus, and Greek yogurt (guess it could be worse!), but I got myself in gear this week enough to make this. Will be eating with a piece of fruit every day and maybe a few crackers. This would be a great cookout side dish this summer!
Fresh Pea Salad
adapted from Closet Cooking

Yield: 4 side dishes

2 cup peas
2 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/4 cup cubed cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons chopped red onion
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon sour cream or plain Greek yogurt

Mix everything and chill in the fridge.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Creamy Parmesan Orzo

This is a quick and excellent side dish recommended to me by a wedding friend! You could sub rice instead of orzo (it's cheaper and more readily available), dried basil instead of fresh, etc. and still get great flavor. Not quite the same as fresh and orzo, but still a great side dish!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Good Old-Fashioned Pancakes

I think this is my favorite "regular" pancake recipe I have ever made. Nothing will ever beat my dad's pancakes, but these were good stuff, super simple, and made with ingredients most people have in the kitchen. I like all the oatmeal, fruit, wheat, etc. pancakes, but I celebrated snow day #4 (are we really still celebrating or ready to go back to school and get this done??) with pancakes.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Chicken Alfredo Rollups

Chicken Alfredo Roll-ups

9 lasagna noodles
2  cups alfredo sauce
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
2 tsp
2 tsp garlic salt
2 cups shredded Mozzarella
Spray an 8x8 pan with non-stick spray and pour in just enough alfredo sauce to cover the bottom of the pan.Cook noodles according to package directions to the al dente stage.
Drain noodles, rinse with cold water, and blot dry with paper towel. Line up the noodles side by side.
Combine all but 1/3 cup afredo sauce, chicken, oregano, garlic salt, and 1 1/2 cups Mozzarella.
Divide filling evenly among noodles. Roll up noodles and place seam side down in baking dish. Top with remaining sauce, then remaining cheese. Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes, or until browned and bubbly.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Pan Fried Crappie

Happy Valentine's Day! My valentine and I went out to dinner a couple of nights ago to avoid the rush (thanks for dinner, Mom and Dad!). We discovered a restaurant new to us that we will be returning to many times!
Tonight, we went for a boat ride, which was far colder than we expected, with hopes to catch dinner. Good thing Norris caught fish last night because we had no luck tonight! After the chilly boat ride, we came home and cooked together. We were done in less than twenty minutes and it was one of the best meals we've had in a while. We tried a little different method than usual and we'll be using it again.
Pan Fried Crappie
canola or vegetable oil for frying (about 1/2 inch deep in skillet)
crappie fillets
1 sleeve saltine crackers, crushed (used Ninja to make a fine crumb)
1 cup flour
2 eggs
Season flour and crackers. Set up breading station with a plate of flour, then eggs, then saltines.
Heat oil to about 375 F.
Dip fillet in flour, then eggs, then crackers, then fry for about 45 seconds on each side or until golden brown. Remove to paper towel lined plate.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Chicken Fried Steak

I know it's the time of year to make a bunch of healthy recipes, but I am pretty much using the same ones of those I've posted before. About once a week, I've been making a more-than-weeknight meal based on Norris' request. This week, the dish was chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes and white gravy. Mmmmm, comfort food. I told him as we were eating it (and he was looooving it) that I can't remember ever even making it before. I may have before, and I have only eaten it a couple of times, but it's pretty easy to know what it's supposed to taste like and whether it tastes good!
It really wasn't too labor intensive and I had most of the dishes done before we sat down to eat, which I always like, so it could be a weeknight meal, but it's definitely not a super quick one. Great for a meat and potatoes man (or woman!).
I made my favorite mashed potatoes on the side--boil potatoes along with peeled cloves of garlic, then season (butter, milk, salt, pepper, sour cream, whatever you like) according to taste. Love that cooked garlic flavor in them and it helps you not need as much butter in the end. I'm just linking you to the recipe since the only change I made was to make 1/3 of the recipe and use skim instead of whole milk, which worked just fine!

from Pioneer Woman

"Panda Express" Honey Walnut Shrimp

We have been to Panda Express a few times and the honey walnut shrimp is amaaaazing. I don't have a "normal" order because I've only been there a few times, but I have had a bite or two of this each time and know it's good. Norris requested that I make it at home and we loved this, too. It has a few more dishes than my typical weeknight meal, but they were worth it. I will use this coating technique for shrimp in any sauce again. Norris liked it so much that he suggested I use this recipe for school, and I know the kids would also love it!

"Panda Express" Honey Walnut Shrimp

1lb large shrimp (peeled and deveined, with tails removed)
1 cup water
1/2 cup white sugar
½ cup walnuts
4 egg whites
2/3 cup cornstarch
¼ cup light mayonnaise
2 tablespoons honey
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp milk (skim works)
1 cup oil (for frying)
Bring the water and 1/2 cup sugar to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the walnuts and boil for two minutes, then drain and spread on a baking sheet or plate to dry.
Meanwhile, beat egg whites in a medium bowl until foamy (a mixer makes quick work out of this). Add cornstarch and stir until thickened.
Combine mayonnaise, honey, 1 tbsp sugar, and milk in a small saucepan and keep warm.
Heat oil in frying pan or deep fryer. Dip shrimp in egg white batter, shake off excess, and fry in hot oil until golden brown, or about four minutes. Drain on paper towels. Toss shrimp in warm mayonnaise sauce, then toss with walnuts and serve.

adapted from allsecretrestaurantrecipes

Baked Garlic Brown Sugar Chicken

This recipe has a little different flavor than your regular chicken breast, but is still very simple and yields great results. We both loved this and it was even great as leftovers! The only thing I changed was adding the brown sugar to the saute pan as the garlic was browning because it made more of a paste to spread over the chicken.
(link to recipe)

Cheddar Herb Drop Biscuits

This recipe is super simple and yields great results. Norris claims them to be better than the Red Lobster biscuits, so you'll have to try them and decide for yourself! Making these was made more fun with my two year old helper friend!

(link to recipe on Tasty Kitchen)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Veggie and Bean Chili

This is Rachael Ray's take on veggie chili...I loved the idea of adding in refried beans at the end to thicken it up. This was great and even better reheated. It came together really quickly and is a filling lunch!

Veg-Head Three-Bean Chili

Friday, January 18, 2013

Smothered Pork Chops with Smashed Potatoes

Just a link so I don't forget...these were great! Norris said I should make this every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. (he says that about all the dinners he loves, I think) The only part I didn't do was mix coleslaw in with the potatoes and just served salad on the side instead.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Spicy chicken tenders with honey mustard

It was time for dinner and I knew I was making chicken tenders, but hadn't decided how or what to do with them. I normally just throw some spices together, but was feeling like trying something new (but without thinking, so knew I'd need a recipe:). This recipe from Giada was excellent! I used half the amount of breading/egg ingredients and it was plenty for about 12 chicken tenders. I made half the honey mustard, too, and it was perfect with the chicken tenders! The amounts below reflect the changes I made.
Spicy Chicken Tenders with Honey Mustard

cooking spray
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup Dijon mustard
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp salt, plus extra for seasoning
2 eggs, beaten
2 tbsp hot sauce
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/2 pounds chicken tenders
Preheat oven to 425 F. Spray a baking sheet with cooking oil or line with Silpat.
Combine honey and mustard until smooth and set aside.
In a medium bowl, mix the flour and salt. In another medium bowl, whisk together eggs and hot sauce. In another medium bowl, mix together cornmeal, chili powder, and cayenne pepper.
Dredge the chicken in the flour mixture, then shake off excess. Dip in egg mixture, then shake off excess. Roll in cornmeal mixture and place on baking sheet with space between each chicken tender.
Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown, flipping halfway through.
Serve with honey mustard dipping sauce.

from Giada

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Cranberry Orange Pistachio cookies

During our holiday break (which was nice and long), we took breaks from packing to cook and bake. Pretty fun way to spend the day! This made our Christmas treat list and I loved the flavors in them. Don't skip the orange sugar--really adds to it. Plus, they're pretty and festive!

Cranberry Orange Cookies

Orange Sugar:
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp freshly grated orange peel

1 cup sugar
¾ cup butter, room temperature
1 egg
2 cups all purpose flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
½ cup sweetened dried cranberries, chopped
½ cup pistachio nuts
1 tbsp freshly grated orange peel

Heat oven to 350F.
Combine all orange sugar ingredients in a small bowl; stir until well mixed. Set aside.
Combine 1 cup sugar, butter and egg in a large bowl; beat at medium speed until creamy. Reduce speed to low; add flour, baking powder and baking soda. Beat until well mixed. Add all remaining ingredients. Continue beating just until mixed.
Shape dough into 1-inch balls; roll balls in orange sugar. Place 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Flatten with bottom of glass to 1 ½-inch circles.
Bake for 7 to 11 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.(DO NOT OVERBAKE). Cool 1 minutes; remove from cookie sheets.

Source: Adapted from Land O’Lakes Holiday Cookies 2005
from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Cheesy Chicken Ranch Pasta Bake

Another Pinterest winner! Especially for Norris--he really liked this. He loves it when I make hot food (what I consider dinner food) for lunch, so over break I made this. I prepped it two days before I actually baked it, so I baked it for a little longer and covered it with foil for the first part so it wouldn't overbrown. It also made great leftovers!

Cheesy Chicken Ranch Pasta Bake

2 (12 oz) cans evaporated milk (I also saw other versions that used regular milk with good results)
1 (1 oz) pkg. dry ranch salad dressing mix (not the dip blend).....I accidentally used the dip blend and it was still good
3 C. cubed, cooked, chicken (about 2 large chicken breasts)
1/8 tsp pepper
2-3 C. uncooked penne pasta
1 C cheddar cheese, grated
1 C mozzarella cheese, grated (I saw another version that replaced these two with three cups of colby jack, and I'd say I used closer to 3 cups)

Spray a 9x13 baking dish.

Cook pasta until about 2 minutes under regular cook time. Drain and add to baking dish.
Combine evaporated milk, dressing mix, and pepper in a heavy saucepan. Heat just to a boil, thensSimmer, uncovered, 25 minutes, stirring frequently. Sauce will thicken slightly.
Layer chicken, sauce, and cheese into dish over pasta. Bake uncovered at 350' for 25 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
Let rest 10 minutes before serving if you want it to come out prettier, or just eat it in a big pile on your plate while it's still steaming, which is more my style!

from Mommy I'm Hungry

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Kentucky bourbon bacon Chex mix

Happy 2013! It's been a while since I've been here. Last term was crazy--two grad classes, no plan period, selling our house, living with a friend for a few weeks, moving in to our new house..... the dust has finally settled and we have enjoyed cooking in our new kitchen!
My sister, cousins, and I got together for a cooking and craft day in December where we all brought something to make something good to eat and to make a craft. Let's just say that the food was more successful than the crafts:) We could have been hits on craft fail! Some were successes and turned out really cute, though!
This was my contribution. We first sampled this at a tailgate when my friend said "there is chex mix with BACON in it!" so we had to try. The only thing I changed was to use about half of the chili powder suggested. This is good stuff and really easy to make. I didn't find anyone who didn't like it and there definitely wasn't anyone disappointed to find bacon in their chex mix!
Kentucky Bourbon Bacon Chex Mix
15 oz bag Chex Mix traditional snack mix (have found these on great sale at Big Lots lately)
1 cup pecan halves
1/2 lb bacon, crisply cooked and crumbled
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 tbsp bourbon
3/4 tsp chipotle chili powder (I used half and just regular chili powder)
Heat oven to 300°F. Line two 15x10x1-inch pans with foil. Spray foil with cooking spray. In large bowl, mix snack mix, pecans and bacon. Set aside.
In 2-quart saucepan, heat brown sugar, butter and corn syrup over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until bubbly around edges. Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally; remove from heat. Cool 2 minutes. Carefully stir in bourbon and chipotle chili powder. Pour over snack mixture; toss until evenly coated.
Spread snack mixture on pans. Bake 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, to caramelize mixture. Cool completely, about 1 hour. Break into pieces. Store covered in refrigerator.