Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!!

Happy Easter! I had fun last night working on Easter Baskets for my boys and filling 33 plastic eggs with goodies to hide around the house for Kent to hunt. This has been a tradition ever since his grandparent's moved out of the area and we started having Easter with just the three of us. We hide eggs usually in the living room, though we branched out to the kitchen and dining room this year, and Kent gets to find them in the morning when he wakes up.





He had a good time finding all of his goodies and looking through his basket. Way too much candy this year - I couldn't help myself. I think some of it will be finding it's way to work with me. :)

After breakfast (I picked up cinnamon rolls at Panera bread yesterday - YUMM!) we all relaxed for a little while and then Kent and I started fixing our big Easter lunch. We waited over an hour yesterday for a Honeybaked Ham but dadgum it, it was worth it! That is a once a year splurge for us, and they are SO good! Kent and I went to the store yesterday afternoon, we got there a little before 5pm and were told they'd sold out of ham but had more on the way, so we drove just down the road to The Avenues and Kent hung out at Barnes and Noble while I meandered around the stores a little and got some banana ice cream with gummy worms from Coldstone! Kent had to help me finish it though, man their ice cream is RICH! I met up with Kent at Barnes and Noble and browsed through a baby name book until it was time to head back over to Honeybaked. Thankfully they had a ham for us this time and we put our treasure in the car and headed on home victorious.

To accompany the star of the meal, we fixed Corn Casserole, Macaroni & Cheese, steamed broccoli, and homemade Buttermilk Biscuits. It was a delicious and very filling meal and after eating I conked out on the couch for about 2 hours. I was apparently pretty worn out! I woke up thinking about apple pie... but considering I still have cookies I just baked in a Tupperware, I had better hold off on more baking this weekend! :)


Monday, March 25, 2013

Secret Recipe Club: Breakfast Banana Split

This is my second month participating in the Secret Recipe Club! It is so much fun to have a chance to get to know another blogger's site and look through their recipes and figure out which one looks just right for my family (and hope another blogger isn't having too hard of a time finding something they will enjoy here!) This month I had Natural Noshing and had a really good time browsing her fabulous recipe index! I was really drawn to the shrimp fried rice recipe, but being pregnant and hungry all the time, and always looking for quick and healthy snacks or breakfasts I ended up deciding this one was the one for me!

This was super pretty and such a delicious and tasty treat!! I love cottage cheese with fruit and this was a great way to try some different fruit flavors out with the cottage cheese. A protein packed breakfast that was very satisfying! I used a little bit of blackberry jam, some strawberry jam, and some diced canned tangerines for the middle. Yumm!




Breakfast Banana Split from Natural Noshing

Ingredients
1 banana, cut in half lengthwise
1/2 cup to 2/3 cup cottage cheese (I used lowfat but any will do)
1 -2 Tbsp all-fruit preserves (I used blackberry and strawberry)
1-2 TBS diced fruit (such as pineapple, strawberries, or tangerines)
 1 tsp ground flaxseed (optional)
1 tsp chia seed (optional)
1 – 2 Tbsp chopped walnuts (or any other preferred nut)

Directions
  1. Place banana halves in serving dish or bowl. Add scoops of cottage cheese on top of banana. Drizzle with fruit preserves and top with fruit, nuts, and seeds as desired!
Have fun with this one - make it your own!! Use yogurt, add berries, etc.

Friday, March 22, 2013

This one's a keeper!! :)

So I am finally excited to be able to announce on here that our family will be growing by two (tiny) feet come September! I am very excited, anxious, and feeling blessed and am hopeful for one last boring full term singleton pregnancy. After the past 6 years of being a part of 4 little miracles with 3 different families, it is surreal to be anticipating the arrival of our own child... to think that the little one growing inside me is a piece of me and my hubby this time, and that I won't just come home after delivery and get to sleep through the night... this time will be a whole new ball game... well not completely new, but sort of feels that way! Kent will turn 15 just 2 months after the baby is due... that is crazy enough by itself! How is my baby nearly 15??

We told Kent the news a couple weeks ago and shared the news with our family this past week. We got Kent a t-shirt that said "Only Child" crossed out with "Big Brother" underneath. We gave him that along with a little homemade card I created with a picture of the most recent ultrasound we've had and a note for him. I think he is looking forward to having a sibling, but being as old as he is, he's also already thinking about crying babies, schedule disruptions, and smelly diapers! He likes to think things through too much. :) He will be a wonderful big brother and I cannot wait for the day he and his sibling will get to meet...

I'm counting down until we get to find out if we're expecting a girl or a boy and look forward to all the things that come with being further along in pregnancy - feeling more movement, planning a baby shower, setting up a nursery, not just looking fat anymore, feeling less anxious about how the pregnancy is going (I hope)... I have a lot more anxiety this time for the health of the baby than I did with my surrogacy pregnancies. With the surrogacies I worried about taking the best care of myself and the babies that I could, and that was my only focus. This time I think about this little person's toes, and lips, and fingers and wonder if they're healthy, and if they're doing ok, and wonder what color hair they will have...

I have had bleeding off and on throughout this pregnancy, with the first big bleed at 6 weeks, followed by a couple bouts of old blood then nothing for weeks, but I woke up to more just a few days ago. I'm so ready for that to be DONE with. It causes a lot of worry and I know there's nothing I can do except try to take it easy and stay hydrated. Thankfully I have my doppler and I can check in to make sure baby's heartbeat is nice and strong still. I try not to use it too often, but would use it every day if I didn't think that was being completely obsessive!

Here is the ultrasound we had at just over 8 weeks:
3/19/13 13w2d
So many changes and happenings in our life this year, and I am amazed and blessed that one of those includes a new little life... I can only imagine how much this change will bring to our family!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Brown Sugar Meatloaf


This is a fantastic meatloaf recipe that we really enjoyed with some Parmesan potatoes and green beans for a wonderful and filling dinner. The only change I made to the original recipe is splitting the brown sugar glaze half on the bottom, half on top. The sauce is delicious, and the texture of the meatloaf is tender and perfect! It was great and I will definitely be using this again!! My son gave this two thumbs up and wanted to eat the rest of the meatloaf straight from the pan I think.

All the ingredients, ready to go!
My helper crushing up some saltines for the meat mixture.

Spreading the remaining glaze on top of the meatloaf.

Ready for the oven!

Perfectly baked with a delicious glaze!
Brown Sugar Meatloaf (slightly adapted from) tangastar on AllRecipes.com

Ingredients
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup ketchup
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
3/4 cup milk
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 cup finely crushed saltine cracker crumbs

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix the ketchup and brown sugar together in a small bowl. Spread half of the mixture in a 5x9 inch loaf pan.
  3. In a mixing bowl, mix thoroughly all remaining ingredients and shape into a loaf. Place on top of the glaze mixture in the loaf pan and cover with remaining glaze.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour or until juices are clear.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Crock Pot Honey Sesame Chicken

I found this recipe via Chef in Training, the original recipe is from BabyCenter. I LOVE Honey Sesame Chicken! It is one of my very favorite dishes to get for Chinese take out, that or House Lo Mein... mmmm... :) (Ok I'm seriously having a Chinese food craving again right this second... sigh.)

The original recipe calls for adding the cornstarch mixture to the sauce in the crock pot and turning to high heat for 10 minutes. I tried this and didn't get my sauce to thicken at all, so I suggest putting the sauce on the stove but you are welcome to try the crock pot method too so you don't have to dirty another pot! It might have worked with a little more time - I'm not sure!!

In any event, this was a delicious recipe that we all really enjoyed. I served over cooked linguine and mixed in some steamed Asian veggies. Yumm!


Crock Pot Honey Sesame Chicken

Ingredients

2 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced into bite sized pieces
Salt and pepper
1 cup honey
1/2 cup soy sauce
4 Tablespoons diced onion
4 Tablespoons ketchup
2 Tablespoon canola oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
4 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 6 Tablespoons water
Sesame seeds

Directions

  1. Season both sides of chicken with lightly with salt and pepper, put into crock pot. In a small bowl, combine honey, soy sauce, onion, ketchup, oil, garlic and pepper flakes (if using). Pour over chicken.
  2. Cook on low for 2-3 hours or on high 1 1/2 – 2 hours, or just until chicken is cooked through.
  3. Remove chicken from crock pot and pour sauce into saucepan on stove top. Dissolve 4 teaspoons of cornstarch in 6 tablespoons of water and pour into sauce. Stir to combine well. Turn heat to high and bring sauce to a boil and allow to thicken. Reduce heat.
  4. Add chicken to sauce, and toss to combine.
  5. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve over rice or noodles.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Aunt Betty's Blueberry Muffins

This is a GREAT blueberry muffin recipe! We all really enjoyed this one for breakfast. I had to add a little bit of milk to the batter as it was very thick and several of the reviews I read mentioned the muffins were dry or crumbly. With the additional liquid I thought these came out great. The texture was really nice, and they weren't overly dry or crumbly at all, just tender. Great with or without a little butter! They seemed to taste even better after cooling for awhile.

I really liked the cinnamon sugar topping on these, they were very coffee cake like across the top with the slight crunch from the topping. Very good!




Aunt Betty's Blueberry Muffins (slightly adapted from) Shelia Raleigh on AllRecipes.com
Makes: 1 dozen

Ingredients
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup milk
1 egg
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (do not thaw if using frozen)

TOPPING:
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions
  1. In a large bowl, combine oats, orange juice and milk; let stand for 5 minutes. Beat in the egg, oil and sugar until blended. 
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda; stir into oat mixture just until moistened. Fold in blueberries. 
  3. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. 
  4. Combine topping ingredients; sprinkle over batter. 
  5. Bake at 400 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Meal Plan week of 3/18/13

I have been having a lot of "crap, what am I making for dinner tonight" moments the past couple weeks because I haven't been very good about planning ahead!

Hopefully I will do better this week and avoid the last minute stress out of what's for dinner! I'm starting back to work this week as well, so it's extra important to me to get back on track with meal plans and having things thought out ahead of time as much as possible.

MONDAY
Dinner: Crock Pot Honey Sesame Chicken, brown rice, sweet pea pods

TUESDAY
Dinner: Shrimp Fried Rice

WEDNESDAY
Dinner: Brown Sugar Meatloaf, Parmesan potatoes, mixed steamed veggies

THURSDAY
Dinner: Marinated Flank Steak, baked potatoes, steamed broccoli

FRIDAY
Dinner: Honey Soy Pork Chops, brown rice, mixed vegetables

SATURDAY
Dinner: Martha Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Biscuits, and green beans

SUNDAY
Dinner: Leftovers

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Slow Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage


This is a great basic slow cooker recipe for corned beef and cabbage. I made this today for St. Patty's Day along with a loaf of DELICIOUS beer bread from Tastefully Simple which we all absolutely love! I cooked mine on low for about 6 hours, then cranked it up to high for another 2 and the veggies were good, but the meat wasn't quite falling apart tender like I like it, so next time I will make sure to give the roast a head start before adding the veggies in. I didn't want to risk having mushy veggies so didn't turn it to high as the original recipe suggests doing for the full amount of cooking time. I thought 8 hours on high would have killed the potatoes and carrots, but would probably be right for the roast. If you choose to do 8 hours on high, you may just want to add your carrots and potatoes in half way through cooking and leave it on high. Either way, just make sure to add in your cabbage during the last 1-2 hours on high. I chose to leave out the onion this time.

The original recipe calls for 4 cups water in addition to the beer (or beef broth) so feel free to add more liquid to your crock pot if preferred, I just usually add very little to mine.



Slow Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage (slightly adapted from) LUSYRSGIRL on AllRecipes.com

Ingredients
6 large carrots, peeled and cut into 2-3 chunks
4 large potaotes, halved
1 onion, peeled and cut into wedges (optional)
1 (4 pound) corned beef brisket with spice packet
1 cup beer (or beef broth if preferred)
1 cup water
1/2 large head cabbage, cut into wedges (or 1 small head)

Directions
  1. Place the carrots, potatoes, and onion into the bottom of a slow cooker, and place the brisket on top of the vegetables. Pour the beer (or broth, or water) over the brisket. Sprinkle on the spices from the packet, cover, and set the cooker on High.
  2. Cook the brisket for about 8 hours. 1-2 hours before serving, stir in the cabbage and continue cooking until meat and vegetables are tender.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Cheddar Bacon Hamburgers


This was a great (and super EASY) hamburger recipe! It was perfect for the weather yesterday - still a little chilly out there but really beautiful and sunny too. It was nice to get to use the grill - I'm looking forward to getting to use it more as the weather warms up!

We each fixed up our buns the way we like them and added some baked french fries and all really enjoyed this meal. I know Kent will be asking for the one leftover hamburger patty for lunch tomorrow! :)

Just a few ingredients, ready to go!

All the burger ingredients, ready to mix.

Looking good on the grill!

A little bit more cheese...
Plated up and ready to dig in!

Tastes as good as it looks!!
Cheddar Bacon Hamburgers (adapted from) LISASNOW on AllRecipes.com

Ingredients
1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
3 strips thick cut bacon
4 hamburger buns

Directions

  1. Preheat grill for high heat.
  2. Cook bacon over med-high heat until crispy in a cast iron or non-stick skillet; drain on paper towels and dice small.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix together the ground beef, cheddar cheese, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and bacon using your hands. Shape the mixture into 4 hamburger patties.
  4. Lightly oil the grill grate. Place hamburger patties on the grill, and cook for 5 minutes per side, or until well done. Serve on buns with desired condiments.




Thursday, March 14, 2013

Easy Lasagna


This was a delicious and easy lasagna recipe. I originally thought it was a little overboard in the cheesy department, but honestly the leftovers reheated perfectly and were awesome. It was just pretty gooey straight out of the oven!

My son liked this one even better than the other one we normally use. He said I should make this one more often. It's a very good, basic lasagna recipe.

Starting out with all the ingredients.

Using Johnsonville sausage for the meat.

Mixing the cheese filling.

Boiling the noodles.

The sausage cooked up with the onion.

Layered up, before the final layer of cheese!

Gooey and cheesy straight from the oven.

Gooey and delicious!
Easy Lasagna II (adapted from) Joanie Heger on AllRecipes.com

Ingredients
1 pound ground italian sausage
1/2 onion, diced
1 (32 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce (I used 24-oz and it was fine)
24 ounces cottage cheese
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
2 eggs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons dried parsley
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste
9 lasagna noodles, cooked for 8-9 minutes

Directions

  1. In a large skillet over medium heat brown the ground beef and cook with the onion. Drain the grease. Add spaghetti sauce and simmer for 5 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the cottage cheese, 2 cups of the mozzarella cheese, eggs, half of the grated Parmesan cheese, dried parsley, salt and ground black pepper.
  3. To assemble, in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish evenly spread 3/4 cup of the sauce mixture. Cover with 3 lasagna noodles, 1 3/4 cup of the cheese mixture, and 1/4 cup sauce. Repeat layers twice. Top with 3 noodles, remaining sauce, remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Cover with aluminum foil.
  4. Bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 10 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Pulled Barbecue Pork

This was a wonderful pulled pork recipe, and super easy! I put the roast in the crockpot with a spice rub, and about 7 hours later I drained it, shredded it, and added sauce. We served these on some toasted buns with some baked onion rings and a salad and it was a great and easy dinner. The boys ate these sandwiches up and were sad there wasn't more for left overs!

We fixed our sandwiches with some sliced american cheese and dill pickles. Yummm!

Roast in the crock pot.

Delicious, sweet and tangy pulled pork.

Ready to enjoy!
Faye's Pulled Barbecue Pork (adapted from) FAYE2696 - Faye Hughes on AllRecipes.com


Ingredients

2 pounds Boston butt roast
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup water
1/2 onion, chopped
1 cup barbecue sauce (recommended: Sweet Baby Rays)


Directions

  1. Rub garlic, seasoning salt, pepper and cayenne pepper to taste onto roast.
  2. Place roast in a large crock pot and add water add onion. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or until very tender.
  3. Drain water and onions, shred meat and return to crock pot with your favorite barbecue sauce. Stir until well blended and heated through. Serve immediately.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Easy Hamburger-Helper Style Shepherd's Pie aka "The Casserole"

This was a super easy weeknight-type meal that was hearty, tasty, and filling! Very easy to adjust to your personal taste preferences with various vegetable choices, and adjusting the seasonings. The sauce comes out just a little tangy and so nice and creamy, and I really liked the ratio of meat to veg to cheesy potatoes. It was very nice, and the leftovers reheat well.

All the ingredients, ready to go.

Adding the green beans to the cooked and drained ground beef and onions.

Adding remaining filling ingredients together.

Beef mixture spread out in the casserole dish.

Mashing the potatoes.

The casserole in the oven, ready to bake.

All melty and bubbly from the oven.

Quick, easy, filling and very tasty
The Casserole slightly adapted from Lovesmurfs on AllRecipes.com


Ingredients
8 medium russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 TBS butter
1/4 - 1/2 cup milk
1 pound lean ground beef
1/2 cup diced onion
2 large fresh carrots, peeled and diced into thin rounds
1 (15 ounce) can green beans, drained
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed tomato soup
3/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
Seasonings to taste: salt, pepper, garlic powder

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish; set aside
  2. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and mash with about 2 TBS butter, 1/4-1/2 cup milk (enough to reach desired smooth but still firm consistency), and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Simultaneously, bring a medium saucepan of salted water to boil. Add carrots and cook for 10-15 minutes or until tender but still somewhat firm and holding their shape.
  4. Place lean ground beef and onion in a large non-stick skillet. Cook and stir over medium high heat until beef is evenly browned and onion is tender. Drain fat and season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste. Stir in drained and cooked carrots, green beans, cream of mushroom and tomato soups.
  5. Pour beef mixture into the prepared baking dish and spread mashed potatoes evenly over top. Sprinkle with Cheddar cheese and bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until cheese is melted and casserole is bubbly and heated through. (Don't over bake or the cheese will get hard, make sure your casserole dish isn't too close to the top heating element during baking to help prevent this as well.)

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Jill's Herb Roasted Chicken


I had a whole chicken thawed in my refrigerator and was trying to decide how to cook it. I thought about just putting it in the crock pot, then shredding the meat for BBQ chicken sandwiches, but ended up deciding to find a recipe for roasting it. I decided on the one below and thought it came out very nicely - although it seemed like a lot of work when I was trying to stuff the butter mess under the skin!! That was something I apparently need practice at, I made a huge mess all over! I didn't have thawed butter, so couldn't do the small chunks and ended up with a butter paste instead. I didn't bother with the gravy since it's not something my husband is a fan of.

Now I have finally cooked up everything I had thawed out in the refrigerator, and we can hopefully finish up the leftovers and then think of some new and tasty dishes to make and enjoy! :) 

A beautiful, farm fresh chicken from My Dad & Me Family Farm.

All the seasoning ingredients.

Making a big mess smearing the seasoned butter all over!

Roasted and beautifully browned!
Jill's Herb Roasted Chicken by jearn on AllRecipes.com

Ingredients
1 lime, juiced (or 1 TBS lemon juice)
1 apple, sliced
1 (5 pound) whole chicken, giblets removed
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chicken seasoning
1 tablespoon ground thyme
1 tablespoon dried sage
1/4 teaspoon ground paprika
1/2 cup softened butter, cut into teaspoon-size chunks
1 (32 fluid ounce) container chicken broth
1 onion, cut into chunks
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Sprinkle lime (or lemon) juice over the apple slices. Stuff apples into the cavity of the chicken.
  3. Mix 2 minced garlic cloves, chicken seasoning, thyme, sage, and paprika together in a bowl. Add butter to the garlic mixture; gently toss to coat the butter in the herb mixture. Stuff about 2/3 of the butter pieces under the skin. Coat the outside of the chicken with the remaining butter.
  4. Combine chicken broth, onion, and remaining 2 cloves garlic in the bottom of a roasting pan. Put chicken onto a rack in the roasting pan with the breast down.
  5. Roast chicken, basting with pan juices every 10 to 15 minutes, in preheated oven for 45 minutes. Flip the chicken and continue cooking until no longer pink at the bone and the juices run clear, about 1 hour and 15 minutes more. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh, near the bone should read 165 degrees F. Remove the chicken from the oven, cover with a doubled sheet of aluminum foil, and allow to rest in a warm area for 10 minutes before carving.
  6. If desired, pour the juices from the pan into a saucepan and place over medium heat. Stir flour into the juices; cook and stir until the juices thicken into a gravy, about 5 minutes. Serve with the chicken.