Sunday, February 28, 2010

is it yes or no?

What is it now-a-days with people (including myself) not just straight out saying yes or no?

Are we that scared to take credit for anything whether good or bad? I’ve had this brought to my attention a few times with my children about myself lately, so it got me thinking.

A lot of times they ask to do something and I say “Sure” or something instead of just giving them the solid, Yes, You may. Just the other day Monkey asked to do something and I had to think about it for a moment and in my thinking was like....well, it’s not a bad thing, I don’t really want him to do that, but it’s not disobeying, or going against any rules, so why my response to him was, Ok, whatever. To that answer he comes up to me and says, Mom, what does that mean. Can I or can’t I? That’s what really got me thinking about this whole yes or no thing. So I started this thought process. Why don’t I just say Yes. Is there something hard about saying yes? Am I afraid that it’s going to come back and bite me in the rear or something? I’m not totally sure on the real unknown reasoning behind this, but I am going to try and change my responses, and have them be more clear cut.

Let your yes be yes, and your no be no......
Matthew 5:37a (37 All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’;)

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Field Trip

Yesterday for “school” we took a field trip! I brought the kids down to the school where my mom is one of the school cooks.

They got to see the kitchen, but couldn’t go all the way in there because that is against the inspectors rules. They saw the BIG fridge, which they thought could hold a hundred people...maybe more like 20 if they were packed and stacked. :) But they don’t really understand the difference between those big numbers. A big number is just big no matter what number it is to them. Vicki showed them where they store all the milk for the kids to grab as they go through the line. Even those little things are very exciting when you are 3 and 5 I guess! :)

They even sat at the lunch tables, and played around by the lunch tables for a little bit. And while sitting at the lunch tables they could see into the art room where some kids were learning.

They thought it was pretty cool. We got to walk down there because Jeffers is such a small town it doesn’t matter if you even walk down the middle of the road. It is only 3 blocks away from my mom’s house, but we didn’t see anyone out an about. We did see a guy letting his dogs out of the house though. We are watching 2 of my nieces, so TJ stayed home with the baby, and I took Josie along with my 2 boys down to the school. It’s the same school that we watched the basketball game at the night before.

A little bit after that we went out to a family friends farm, to see their animals. We got to pet some horses, cats, dogs, sheep, and new baby sheep. They were very noisy! We even saw a goose in the sheep barn. Not sure why he was in there. Must have been warmer in there or something. :)

Funny story about Jeffers being a small town.  Monkey said, “Does everyone in this town sleep during the day?” Why do you ask that? “Because you don’t ever see anyone!” I thought that was pretty funny. There are always cars driving by and people walking by our house. But you don’t really ever see people out in Jeffers. Mainly because there’s not that many people there in the first place.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Taco Dip

This is something that we got from some friends. Whenever we had a get together of 10 or so of us, this is what they would make because it's usually pleasing to all, easy to make, can be laid out buffet style, and you can make as little or as much as you want. It's all about the toppings, and everyone gets to pick their own.

Taco Dip

As you can see from the picture, you layer the ingredients on your plate, and then dip into it all with tortilla chips. My kids love it. I asked them yesterday what they wanted for lunch and Monkey said, what about that stuff where you dip the chips into it? I love that stuff mom!

So the first layer you need is cream cheese and sour cream. Now if you are making a bunch I would use 8 oz of cream cheese and 16 oz of sour cream. If less than that, then just half of each container. When you mix that together you put a little of the taco seasoning in with this sour cream mixture. So this is the first layer. You spread this out nice and evenly over your plate. Next you have hamburger...and this is just plain fried hamburger. You already have the little bit of taco season in your sour cream, so you do not put it in your hamburger like you would for regular tacos. After that you can top it with, lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, salsa, onions, olives, and whatever else you usually top your taco with. TJ always asks me where the sour cream is! Ha's in the bottom mixture, remember?! hee hee. Seriously after how many times have I made this, you'd think he'd remember, but he still asks every time!

1 pkg cream cheese
1 16 oz container sour cream
cheddar cheese
black olives

Once you have it all topped with your favorites, dip in your tortilla chips and enjoy!

Calorie Count
*453* per serving 
(1 serving equals the following amounts)

   88- 1 oz of hamburger
 140- 1 oz of tortilla chips
 110- 1/4 cup of cheddar cheese
 100- 1.5 oz of sour cream/cream cheese dip
   30- 1/4 cup salsa

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Change of Plans.

Last week we wanted to come over to my mom's house for the weekend but she was gone so it didn't work out. So we thought about moving it to this weekend, but then didn't know if that was going to work because I'm watching my sisters 2 kids, and we didn't know about missing church, etc. So we were going back and forth on the idea. Then I called TJ at work and talked to him about it and he came up with a great idea! We left tonight, and can still go back home on Saturday. That way we get a weekend's worth of fun here, but don't have to miss out on the activities of our own church on Sunday. :) What a great idea TJ! We even got to see a family friend play High School basketball tonight. That was the boys first basketball game. They thought it was pretty cool.  Bear had some good questions about what he saw. Like what do those guys have in their mouths? (A whistle) and why are some of the people sitting on the bench, and only some of them playing. He's a pretty perceptive kid. Likes to ask lots of questions and learn. It's a good thing though.  Monkey was just very excited. He said, now I know how to play basketball! No practice or training needed for him, just watch it for 30 minutes and wha-la...he's ready to play! :) Our family friend invited us out to their farm tomorrow for the boys to see their baby lambs. Once Monkey heard that his face lit up so much. They love animals. I'll have to take some pictures. Just another page waiting to be scrap-booked!


We have this thing....well TJ started it. He makes this funny noise, sounds like Frrrrrnnnt. So we say it randomly. Sometimes TJ will say it in place of another word in his sentence, or just in-between the words in his sentence. It really throws you off, and so you just have to laugh.

Today, I pushed the chair in to the table and it made that exact sound, FRRRRNNNNT. So I repeated it. FRRRRRNNNT! After which Monkey repeated me. Frrrrrnnnnt, and Bear repeated him, Frrrrrrnnnt. It was pretty funny. So Monkey said, Mom let’s do a pattern. You say frrrnnnt, and I’ll say frrrrnnnt. So we said this back and forth numerous times, while I was setting the table for lunch. By the time we were ready to eat, we stopped and I prayed. Then right before I started eating I said FRRRRRNNNT. And then I laughed at myself. Because I don’t know why I said it. It was like someone else was saying it and then I realized that I said it. I guess I had said it so many times in a row with Monkey I felt like I wasn’t done saying it or something. Weird. Frrrrnnnt.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

White Chicken Chili

My Aunt made this recipe at our last family gathering and it was so good. So she shared the recipe. I wanted to have this awhile ago, but I was using the beans in the bag which you are supposed to soak overnight first and I kept forgetting to soak them overnight, so that meant one more day before I could make it. Last night I remembered to put them in a bowl of water so I could make it tonight! Yay. It was very delicious!

White Chicken Chili

8 oz dry northern beans, or 2 cans of northern beans (I used the dry ones)
28oz chicken broth (2 cans)
3 garlic cloves
1 4oz can green chilies
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp oregano
3 cups cooked, chopped chicken
1 cup sour cream
2 cups Monterrey jack cheese

Put all but the last 2 ingredients in a crock pot and cook on high for 2 hours. Add the sour cream and cheese and turn to low for last 30-60 minutes.

Wonderful! I just love making the meal in the morning and not having to worry about supper when TJ get's home! I almost didn't know what to do with myself though since supper was already made ahead of time. :)

My aunt gave this to me in a bigger portion. I'd say this amount that I listed makes a good 4 servings. Granted we may eat more than a normal family of 4. :)

Maybe you need this, too?!

I know some one in particular who is going through a hard time right now. And I'm sure there are more of you. I have a little book where I write down little encouragements whether they are from Scripture, a book, or a song. I want to share some of them with you today, and with myself again as a reminder.

-Proverbs 12:25
Worry weighs a person down. An encouraging word cheers a person up.

-God uses things we go through as ways to get our attention, so we will come to Him and depend on Him.

-However long our feet have walked on this earth. We've all lived long enough to know, sometimes life will go our way, and other times it wont. Circumstance and situations change. You know life can turn on a dime. There's a constant hope and peace that I have come to find, it's all because of who God is and that He's ALIVE. We are all as happy as we make our minds up to be. But I've decided that nothing's going to take this joy from me.

-We control very little. God controls EVERYTHING.

-It's all about you, Jesus. And all this is for you. For your glory and your fame. it's not about me, as if you should do things my way. You alone are God, and I surrender to your ways.

-Proverbs 16:20 Those who listen to instruction will prosper; those who trust the Lord will be happy.

-Proverbs 16:9 We can make our plans but the Lord determines our steps.

-God doesn't ask us to understand, He just asks us to trust!

-Praise even if you are disappointed.

I hope that one of these, if not all of them can encourage you today!

Thanks for listening! :)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Home-Style Chicken Dinner

Tonight I wanted to try something different. TJ is always telling me to do something different than the basic casseroles, so that was my thought with tonight's meal.
However, I did not have the kind of chicken the recipe asked for so I just used chicken breasts instead. It was ok....TJ gave it a 6 out of 10. That means, I can make it again sometimes, but maybe only a couple times a year or something. :)

2 tsp basil leaves
1 tsp seasoned salt
1 tsp garlic pepper blend
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 3 1/2 lbs cut-up broiler fryer chicken, skin removed if desired
6 small unpeeled red potatoes (2 cups)
2 medium dark-orange sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1 inch pieces (3 cups)
1 medium green bell pepper
2 plum roma tomatoes, cut into fourths.

Heat oven to 400. In a large bowl mix, basil, seasoned salt, garlic pepper blend and oil. Brush about half of the mixture on chicken. Add remaining ingredients to bowl; toss to coat.
Place veggies in baking dish. Place chicken on veggies. Brush with any remaining oil mixture. Bake 45-50 minutes or until veggies are tender and juice of chicken is no longer pink.

Not tonight honey...I'm blogging

It doesn't mean what your first thought may be! heehee

TJ grabbed the mail and in it was a MomSense magazine. He asked me if I wanted to keep it as he was flipping through it, and he stopped on one particular page and chuckled a bit. He showed me the title, and it said. Not tonight honey....I'm blogging. Obviously we thought it was funny considering I've been writing on the blog alot lately. I thought maybe I should read that article.

So this morning I read it....and have to say it is not funny like the title. It's actually about a lady who is soooo addicted to the internet in general she spends every waking hour that she's not at work, online playing games, and blogging, and chatting, and other stuff online instead of spending time with her husband.

So let me just clarify...when I write on the blog it does not take me all night, or all day for that matter. I figure out what I'm going to write about, and 5-10 minutes later I'm done. Do not family is not lacking. :) TJ would say they are actually wise anyway, since I've been making so many more new recipes. haha

So, no I haven't used this line on my husband...but I might start using it now.
Just as a joke. :)

Monday, February 22, 2010

MMMMMMMMeatballs and gravy

Tonight I made another previous favorite of TJ's. He went back and forth between 9.8 out of 10 and 10 out of 10 and finally ended with 10 out of 10. Yay! ;)

Meatballs and gravy served over mashed potatoes

2 lbs hamburger
2 eggs beaten
6 Tbsp milk
1 1/2 cups soft bread crumbs
1 Tbsp chopped onion
1 can chicken noodle soup
1 can cream of mushroom or chicken
1 1/2 cups water
salt and pepper
4 oz cream cheese
6-8 oz sour cream
4 Tbsp butter

Mix hamburger, eggs, milk, bread crumbs, salt & pepper and onion. Shape into meatballs. Brown in a frying pan and do not drain the fat. Add soups and water. Simmer covered for 45 minutes. Mean while, peel, cut and boil potatoes. Mash and mix in half a brick of cream cheese, almost 8 oz of sour cream, and half a stick of butter.
Serve meatballs over top of the potatoes, or on the side. :)

Super yummy. Just takes a little over an hour to make.

Taco Chicken

This is a Fast Family Favorite!

2-4 chicken breasts
1 can cream of mushroom
1 (8oz) bottle taco sauce
1 bag doritos
2 cups cheddar

Fry chicken and chop into small bite sized pieces. Add cream of mushroom and taco sauce. Line the bottom of a 9x13 pan with slightly crushed doritos. Pour the chicken mixture over top of the chips. Top with cheese and bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.
Top Each serving with: Lettuce, sour cream, black olives, onion, tomato (or any other thing you would usually eat on your tacos.)

2-4 chicken breasts depends on how big your chicken is, and how much you want in your pan. Sometimes I use an 8x8 pan and use only 2 chicken breasts. Other times when I use the 9x13 pan I use 3-4 to fill the pan better.


I registered Monkey for soccer this spring. He's so excited. He's thinking up an action plan already! haha...he says mom, I know what I'm going to do, when someone else has the ball I'm just going to steal it from them. Oh if only it were that easy. I've already had the talk with him about how he doesn't get to decide that, and that is what they coaches are for, and you are supposed to do what they teach you to do. We'll see how well that goes.

Registration started Saturday, but before that I had been looking through the Parks and Rec information booklet for all the spring/summer events. I decided only on soccer for now, and then later in the summer I'll enroll both of them in swimming lessons. But as I was looking through the book talking about the stuff in there, he wanted to do it all. After I said probably only soccer, he's like..Ok, but they have those things that they wear on their legs, and big socks, we don't have those mom!?!?! This was in a high pitched voice as if practice was starting right now, and we could no longer be involved because we weren't prepared. Calm down...we haven't even registered yet, and we have a couple months before practice even starts. :)

I'm excited and intrigued to watch him play and interact with others in the sport. Starts sometime in April. They haven't picked the practice dates I think we get the schedule April 6th or something. Should be fun!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Banana Cream Pie

Today I decided to make banana cream pie. I haven't had banana cream pie for quite a long time. And I've never made it before by myself. I think it turned out alright. I think I like Lemon Meringue so much that it's throwing me off with the look of lemon, but the taste of banana. :)

3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups milk
3 egg yolks
2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla
2-3 bananas
6 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 cup water
1/4 tsp salt
4 egg whites

Mix sugar, flour, salt, milk and egg yolks well; cook until full boil, stirring often. Boil 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add butter and vanilla. Stir until butter is melted. Cool slightly. Slice bananas into already baked pie shell. Pour mixture over top. Top with Meringue.
MERINGUE: Cook sugar, cornstarch, water and salt until clear. Beat four egg whites until frothy. Add cooked mixture. Beat until stiff. Spread on pie. Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes or until tops of meringue peaks are browned. Cool and then refrigerate.

I should know better...

Isn’t there a saying....something like, give them an inch and they’ll go a mile...hmmmm..this is ringing true for me. ;)

TJ and I went to the MOA yesterday. We mainly just wanted to look around, and take the boys on a couple rides, plus visit lego land. However, we had a couple things in mind to LOOK at. But just to look at! We Love the MAC store; however, we really shouldn't go there! We got our tax money back, and I thought a good gift for TJ would be a new the 160GB one because you can put up to 40,000 songs on there, and I thought TJ would like to have all of his music in one place. That is the only iPod that would have enough space to hold his large collection of music! Anyway, I was looking at those, while HE was looking at computers. Yikes. We went in there twice and we also went to Best Buy and of course peeked through their Mac collection. He found this computer that he likes...not really that bad of a deal, but not really something I had in mind to buy for a long, long time. He found this 27" screen where the computer itself is all built into the monitor, and then you use a blue tooth mouse and keyboard. Granted it is AWESOME. Not really something that fits into the budget right now, but he jokingly said, I want this for my birthday. Um, Yeah....Not going to happen. :)

Ham and Scalloped Potatoes

Homemade Ham and Scalloped Potatoes

6-8 potatoes, peeled and sliced
2 (1/2 inch thick) slices of ham cut into pieces (or left over ham chunks)
1 can cream of mushroom or celery
1 can milk
1 cup cheddar cheese
salt & pepper to taste

Cook in a crock pot for 4 hours on high.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Mall of America

Oh the things you see at the Mall of America! I can totally understand how they are going to have a whole show dedicated to the mall cops of the Mall of America. That should be interesting. :)

They have a store called "Minnesot-ah!" TJ not being from MN looks at it and says it out loud and then chuckles and says...that's cute. Because apparently we Minnesotan's have an accent?!? Did you know this? I didn't. hahaha. Anyway....after he says it I hear a few more people around say the same thing. Too funny. A little later in the day we walked past it again and a lady is having one of the workers from that store hold a paper person up next to the sign so she can take a picture. All these people are walking by in the way, I hear people saying the same thing TJ said above again as walk by, and then this lady who is in the way, her friend says really loudly, HELLO?!?! Can you say Tourist! Maybe you had to be there, but it sure tickled my funny bone. :) tee hee

Lego Land. I've gotta say, this place is amazing. I love lego's. Always have, it was one of my favorite toys growing up. I really like the teeny tiny ones. They have so many neat things you can do with legos now. and you can buy individual pieces of all shapes sizes and colors. So cool I can't wait until the boys are older so we can get the little ones and build cool things. :)

They both built cars and raced them once. It was kind busy there so we didn't hang around that station too long. Just long enough to build a car quick and take a picture of it for the scrapbook! ha

Bear got to ride by himself. He loved it! So adorable. :)

Monkey rode on the roller coaster with TJ. He thought it was awesome. He said, he said, I didn't scream once, but the girls behind us did. Girls must get scared more than boys. Spoken like a 5 year old. :)  Bear and I had to stay down below so we couldn't get a real good picture of them on the ride, so I took a picture of the screen that showed the pictures that you're supposed to purchase.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Setting the table

We were having company, so I set the table before they got here. Once I had the plates and glasses and forks set, I went to get the napkins. As I grabbed them and folded them in half to set under the fork, I had a flash back in my life to when I was a kid.

At our house, my family would have people over for Sunday dinner quite a bit. My mom always had us set the table before we left for church, so that was one less thing to do when we got home from church and before the company arrived. I liked setting the silverware because we got to the use the "special" silverware, and I would fancy up the napkins. Like the following picture.

You just start folding from the corner, each of the layers 1/4 in down from each other and an everyday, not-so-fancy napkin, can turn into a Fancy napkin! :)

It's funny how you can forget about things, and just have this sudden flash back at any random moment. I mean, we use napkins for most meals, but I haven't remembered about this napkin folding technique or thought about it any other moment before tonight.

Next time you set the table whether for company or just for your own family, fold the napkin fancy just for me! :)



Large Shell noodles
1 (15 oz) container Ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups mozz
3/4 cup parmesan
1 egg
2 tsp parsley
1/2 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1 jar marinara sauce

Cook pasta shells, drain and cool. In a large bowl combine the rest of the ingredients except the sauce and noodles. Pour a little of the sauce on the bottom of a 9x13 pan. Stuff the cooked shells with the cheesy mixture. Top with the rest of the sauce. Bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes. (I use the large shells because they are easier to stuff than the manicotti shells, and I think in all reality, a noodle is a noodle, just a different shape!)

Step by step pictures....
 These large shells are easier than the "manicotti" shells since they open down the middle.  At least I think so. :)
 Insert a small serving of the cheesy mixture.

 After it is filled with cheese.

Line the pan squeeze in a third row to fill it up.

Special K Bars

Ok. To some of you, you might think I am crazy posting this. But there have been a few people I've ran across in the last couple years who have never heard of this. I made them last night so I thought I would share. :)

Special K Bars (a.k.a. Scotcheroo's)

I always grew up calling them Special K bars, and we would use special K cereal to make it. TJ always grew up calling them Scotcheroo's and using rice crispies to make them. So I usually make them with Rice Crispies now, just for TJ. (insert your oooo's and ahhhh's here)

However, today I decided to use Special K, just because we actually had some in the house. This is my staple family get together food dish to bring. Everyone knows I'm going to bring them and expects me to. If I went to a family get together and didn't bring them, they would probably make me go home. heehee I always bring 2 pans too! There's a lot of us, and we like our sweets! :) I'm talking about the extended family get togethers like cousins, aunts, uncles etc.... We do it atleast 2 times a year, January for our "Christmas" and September for Labor Day weekend camping! Fun times. :)

1 cup peanut butter
1 cup white corn syrup
1 cup brown sugar
6 cups rice crispies
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
1/2 cup butterscotch chips
(note: when I do Special K, I usually use a little more than 6 cups)

Put the first 3 ingredients in a bowl and put in the microwave for 2 minutes. It makes it easier to stir together when it's soft. Mix it in with the cereal. Mix well until all cereal is coated and press into the bottom of a 9x13 pan. Melt the chocolate and butterscotch chips together for the top and let sit to harden the chocolate. Enjoy!

Another side note...We used to make this recipe with white sugar and I switched to brown sugar. Tastes much better. :)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Growth Charts

When I was growing up we measured how tall we got every once in a while. But we wrote it right on the wood of the doorway between the kitchen and dinning room. I always loved that. And still do! It's great to see the progress of growing and getting older/bigger. Luckily my mom still lives in the same house and we can still look back at it. I think if she ever moves she's going to have to rip that door frame out so she can keep the measurements. :) I kept thinking I'd really like to do that somewhere in my house. But I thought, odds are more likely that we won't live here as long as my mom has lived in her house. So I better make it a little easier to move around. I've seen big wood ones that you can buy, but again with Frugal or crafty Stephanie....I'm pretty sure I can make my own version much cheaper....and I'd rather have something a little easier to take with me if need be. So I decided to make one out of cardstock paper. A little more durable that just plain thin paper. I measured out every 1/4 inch and marked the feet and inches. Taped it all together and put it on the side of the pantry. When the boys get up from nap, I will measure them for the first time, and then hopefully remember to do it every 4 months or so. :) I'm sure they'll ask again tomorrow to be measured, as if they grew overnight! HA

An up close look. I only numbered the feet and inches...didn't quite feel like marking every 1/4". :)

Taped it to the side of the pantry.

Cinnamon Caramel Rolls

I made a special treat for breakfast today. Starting last night. :)

Home made caramel rolls. I was just going to make regular cinnamon rolls and make some home made frosting but decided to make them caramely instead. Yummmmm. They were dee-lish!

First you have to make the dough.
1 1/2 cups warm water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 Tbsp salt
1/2 Tbsp Yeast
2 eggs
4 1/2 cups flour

2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar

Mix together and let raise for 2 hours. Roll out on counter top to be approximately 1 foot tall by 2 feet wide. Melt 2 Tbsp butter and spread over the inside with a pastry brush. Sprinkle a cinnamon and white sugar mixture, and then add a sprinkle of brown sugar over that. Roll up the long way, and spread it out a little longer. Cut into 1 1/2 inch sections. In a 9x13 pan, melt 1 stick of butter and pour over the bottom of the pan. Top the butter with 3/4 cup of brown sugar or until the butter and the bottom of the pan is coated with brown sugar. Place your cut rolls into the pan. Let raise over night, with a towel covering the pan so they don't dry out. Bake in the morning t 350 for 30-35 minutes.

In the pan right after cutting them up.

After they were done baking.

Then flip them over onto some tinfoil(for easier cleanup) and wha-la!
Wonderful made from scratch caramel rolls! Enjoy.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Stovetop Hamburger Casserole

Or since we are in Minnesota....the title should read Stovetop Hamburger Hotdish. :)

Contrary to your first thought this does not include stovetop is just made on the stovetop, so another good recipe to keep in mind during the hot summer months when you don't want to turn on the oven.

7oz small shell pasta
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
3 medium carrots
1 celery rib, chopped
3 garlic cloves
3 cups cooked red potatoes
1 can whole kernel corn
2 (8oz) cans tomato sauce
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 cup shredded cheddar

Cook pasta. In a large skillet, cook beef and onion until no longer pink. Drain any grease. Add the carrot, celery and garlic, cook and stir for 5 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender. Stir in the cooked potatoes, corn, tomato sauce, salt and pepper and heat through. Drain pasta and add to skillet, toss to coat. Sprinkle with cheese. Cover and cook until cheese melts.

TJ rated this 6 out of 10, but my sister was dining with us, and gave it an 8 out of 10....she said TJ is a very tough critic. :) I think I would give it an 8 out of 10 as well. I really liked it.

Helpful hint....I cut up the potatoes and put them in a bowl of water, and put it in the microwave for 15 minutes or so, until they slightly softened.

Seems as though a meal isn't complete until you add the cheese! :) Yum. I love cheese.

Buying in Bulk

I am a fan of buying in bulk. Is that an option on facebook? I should look for it and become a fan of it.

I buy my hamburger in bulk at Sam's Club. If you buy 80 pounds at a time you get a special price break, plus they butcher their meat there, so it is a cleaner, better tasting meat. I can totally tell the difference between it and other meats I've bought from the store one pound at a time.

I buy my cheese in bulk when I can. Again I buy it at Sam's Club. If you get a 5 pound bag that is the same as 10 bags from the store... and it is ends up $1 per bag or less. Plus I get whole milk mozzarella cheese and WOW does that taste so much better than the 2% or part-skim that they sell everywhere else.

I also buy ketchup and peanut butter for sure in bulk. And on the last visit to Sams I bought some yeast in bulk. It was an awesome deal. I will have yeast forever and it was only $4...where the little packets which will only make you like 2-3 things of bread are over $1 at the store. So now I'm set for quite a while on yeast for making my bread dough, cinnamon rolls, pizza crust, buns and such.

And when things are on sale I try to buy a bunch of them. For instance they had a sale on chicken breasts for $3.99 so I bough 8 bags. I should have gone back and bought more, but they usually have that sale every 6 weeks or so, so I'll get another 8 bags or more next time. Obviously I have a deep freezer to put this in, but sooooo worth it!

It's so great to go to the store and not have to get the main meats, but to only have to get the little ingredients.

The other day I also bough 30 pounds of potatoes. Granted these don't last as long, however if you keep your potatoes in the fridge they last much much longer before they sprout eyes. Plus oddly enough it was cheaper to by a 15lb bag of potatoes than it was to buy a 5lb bag. Weird, I know.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Seven Layer Rigatoni

I really liked this new recipe tonight.

Seven Layer Rigatoni
3 cups uncooked rigatoni
1 lb Italian sausage
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes, DO NOT Drain the juice
3 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp basil leaves
1 pkg fresh mushrooms (I did not use this ingredient)
1 jar roasted red peppers
1 cup shredded parmesan
2 1/2 cups mozz

Heat oven to 375. Cook and drain pasta. Cook sausage until no longer pink. In a small bowl, mix tomatoes, garlic and basil. Layer half of each in a 9x13 pan. Pasta, sausage, mushrooms, peppers, parmesan, tomato mixture, mozz and repeat.
Bake 35-40 minutes or until hot and cheese is golden brown.

I didn't have a jar of roasted red pepper, I had a fresh red pepper and cut it up and put it in the microwave and cooked it for a couple minutes, plus I didn't use the mushrooms, because that is one thing I absolutley REFUSE to eat! :) And I always use a little more cheese than what they say.
What can I say, I don't follow the recipe to the Tee.


The other day I thought it would be fun to put a puzzle together. But this time, a real puzzle not the 25 big puzzle pieces for kids. I was at my sisters house, and she said, Here, I just got done putting this puzzle together. I thought this was great. I always feel like once I have a puzzle together I have to frame it or do something else with it after all that hard work. But this took that feeling out of it because I knew once I was done I had to give it back. This is the best way to do a puzzle. You get the enjoyment out of using your brain and putting it together, and then you can just give it back. We should all start a puzzle trade or something.

I was talking with a friend about puzzles at the Library but right away, I said it's a fun idea, but won't work. I mean the first person who borrows it is probably going to lose a piece and then the puzzle will increasingly become worthless for the next people who want to use it. But if there were people you trusted it could be a neat idea. :)

Here's the puzzle.

Notice, I have it on our extra table leaf. This turned out great. I finished before the day was over but, I didn't know at first if I was going to finish it or not so this worked out great. If I didn't finish it I had a nice, sturdy, easy to move thing where I could put the puzzle away for another day.

The boys had fun watching me for a little while, and TJ even helped me for a bit last night. I stayed up late and finished it before going to bed, and then the boys got up in the morning and were so excited to see it all put together!  Monkey helped, he found where a few pieces went, and helped organize the different color sections. I was pretty impressed with how good he did at finding certain pieces.

So, who else has a puzzle they want to share?

Monday, February 15, 2010

TJ's Pizza Creation

Yesterday we had pizza for lunch. TJ helped. He created his own pizza. I made my tradition favorite. Pepperoni and black olives.

TJ decided to try something different.

He used ranch for the sauce and topped it with finely chopped chicken breast, spinach, cheese and garlic salt. It was pretty good, but might need something more. I think banana peppers would be just the kick it needs! Previously we made a chicken pizza that was really good. I found a white sauce in the aisle next to the spaghetti sauce that was NOT alfredo. (considering I don't like Alfredo from a jar.) I used that white sauce on the pizza, topped it with chicken, bacon, banana peppers, and maybe olives? I can't remember now, if there were olives or not, but that one was really good. I think it was the banana peppers that made it so good! :) Anyway...branch out and make a different kind of pizza tonight! I dare you!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

2,3,4 or more?

This weekend TJ and I babysat for TJ's sister's little girl, Adelynn. She is almost 2 years old and completely adorable. :) We got to see a snip-it of what it would be like to have 3 kids.

On Saturday we went shopping and I figured we'd run into someone I knew and they would think we adopted another child. We ran into 2 people I used to work with and the first said, when did you get a girl?! Funny. We go shopping all the time and we never see anyone we know, but of course we would this weekend, just so they could ask that! :)

It seemed normal having a third in the mix. I think we'll have to consider adding to our family again sometime. I guess we'll see when, and how many other children God has in store for us. :)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Cookies or cookie dough?

Normally my answer to this question would be cookie dough. I love cookies, but I'm kinda picky about them. I usually like them the best very soft, and warm. If they are hard and crunchy I don't even want to finish it. I found a recipe that is the best! The ingredients are just enough different from all your standard Chocolate chip cookie recipes that it makes a huge difference. Plus I like to use White chocolate chips and they are good! Wowza's! Another great thing about this recipe is that it only makes 2 1/2 dozen. Love that. Since I like them best warm, it's nice to just have a small batch and enjoy them, instead of having a million cookies and having them go "bad". :)

White Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 1/2 cups brown sugar
3/4 cup butter
1 Tbsp vanilla
3 Tbsp milk
1 egg
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
handful of white chocolate chips

Chicken Alfredo Lasagna

This is TJ's favorite recipe....along with my Chicken Alfredo Soup.

First off, I make my own Alfredo sauce, and trust me the recipe is not the same with a jar of alfredo. I mentioned my recipe for Alfredo in a previous blog.

Chicken Alfredo Lasagna
Homemade Alfredo Sauce
9 lasagna noodles
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 tsp oregano
2-3 chicken breasts
1/2 cup red bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 garlic clove
3 cups mozz cheese
1 pkg feta cheese
2 cups fresh spinach

In a bowl, combine alfredo sauce, milk and oregano. Whisk until blended and set aside. Chop chicken finely, bell pepper and onion. Mix chicken, pepper, onion, mozz and feta cheese. To assemble lasagna, first pour a little sauce on the bottom of an 8x8 pan, line with 3 uncooked noodles. Cover noodles with spinach, layer 1/3 of the chicken/cheese mixture, and 1/3 of the alfredo mixture. Repeat 2 more times. Cover with Aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes at 375. Remove foil and bake for 10-15 minutes more until bubbly.

I also made more red lobster biscuits to go along with the lasagna nicely.

I hadn't started this picture thing yet, so here's my picture of the red lobster biscuits.

Chicken Ranch Tacos

Last night's supper was chicken ranch tacos. I will have to admit they were pretty good. I used hard shells just because that's what we had here. I do have tortilla shells flour and I make my own soft shells most of the time, but I thought hard shells sounded good when I was at the store, so there you have it. TJ gave this recipe a 7 out of 10, but he said it could be an 8 or 9 if I made the home made soft shells instead.

Easy to make....I fried 2 chicken breasts, and cut it up into small bitesized pieces, then return it to the pan and put in your taco seasoning, but not the water, use Ranch dressing instead of water. When you assemble the taco, use the chicken mixture along with any of your regular taco ingredients plus top it off with a little ranch. :)

Once again a quick and easy solution to the age old question....What's for supper?!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Maid Rites

Yesterday I found myself in a bit of a pickle.....It was time to get the kids up from nap, and I wasn't done getting all my things together for the Valentine Banquet decoration meeting. I had to be at the church by 5 with the rest of the ladies, but yet, I had to finish cutting out the letters and hearts, and find some fruit pictures to print off, and type up the fruits of the spirit, and get all my things in the car and ready to go, and make supper, and be out the door by 4:45! So like a mad woman, I was putting my things together, finishing up cutting stuff out and printing stuff off, and had to quick come up with something to make for supper! Well, I was in luck that one of the recipes I wanted to try was Maid Rites. I've had them before, just never made them. I usually just stick with sloppy joe's. Well, these are pretty much the same, just without the "sloppy" part! I beat the clock, and got everything done and the food ready for the boys and was out the door. However, I did not have time to take a picture.

Now for those of you who may not know?!?! I don't recall ever hearing of maid rites until I was in college. And only tried it for the first time not that long ago. It's super simple....and even more simple when you have the hamburger pre-cooked and in the freezer ready and at your disposal! Yay for organization in one area! :) So, they are's just that the hamburger is not in patty form, it's in loosely cooked hamburger form.

Maid Rites
2 lbs hamburger
1/2 cup ketchup
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp vinegar
2 Tbsp onion
Celery salt

Brown the hamburger and add everything else and simmer until heated through.

Cream Cheese Banana Bread

I thought this sounded interesting. I like banana bread but sometimes it can be dry or like it needs a little something else, so how about cream cheese. This is pretty good. Nice and moist with a sweet and crunchy topping.

Cream Cheese Banana Bread

3/4 cup butter, softened
1 8oz pkg cream cheese softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
4 bananas
1 cup chopped pecans ( I did not use)
1/2 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 Tbsp Flour
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp butter, melted

Beat butter and cream cheese until creamy. Add sugar and beat until fluff. Add eggs and blend. Add dry ingredients, bananas, pecans and vanilla. Mix and spoon into two greased loaf pans. Mix topping and sprinkle over loaves. Pat down into batter, bake at 350 for 1 hour.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Chocolate Caramel Oatmeal Chews

Stephanie- (pointing to my mouth) "TJ, see this tooth, right here?"
TJ- "Yes, what's wrong with it?"
Stephanie- "It's bothering me"
TJ- "why?"
Stephanie- "I think I need to make something sweet and then it will be ok."

get it?!? Oh, boy! It's a good thing I crack myself up!
I made myself a little sweet treat today because my teeth told me too! :)

Chocolate Caramel Oatmeal Chews

2 cups oatmeal
1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cups brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup butter
1 cup caramel ice cream topping
1/2 cup chopped pecans (I did not use this, of course!)
6 oz, semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Combine oats, 1 1/2cup of the flour, brown sugar and baking soda in bowl. Add melted butter and mix until crumbly. Reserving 1 cup of the mixture pour into a 9x13 pan and press to flatten in the pan. Bake for 15 minutes.

Combine the caramel ice cream topping with 1/4 cup flour in a small bowl and whisk until smooth. Drizzle over the bottom crust, and spread to the edges. Top with Chocolate chips and the remaining crumb mixture evenly over the caramel mixture. Bake for 15-18 minutes more, or until golden brown and bubbly. Cool completely, and cut into bars.

Did you notice how I used some extra caramel to make a heart on the bottom of the plate. Fancy huh?! :)

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