Sunday, February 28

Menu Plan Monday

Last week went really well.  First time in probably a month that every night went off as planned.  !!!  We are having some family in town this week and DH has some vacation, so we are excited to all spend some time together.

Sunday-Chicken Fried Steak (never thought I would make this, but I am venturing out.  It's the Pioneer Woman's recipe, however it's not on her site--only in her cookbook, I guess.), mashed potatoes, green beans

Monday-Sweet and Sour Pork with Rice (recipe from a Pampered Chef cook book), green salad

Tuesday-Chicken Parmesan, mashed potatoes, green beans

Wednesday-Baked potato bar with chili, cheese, sour cream, broccoli, green onions

Thursday-Spicy Peanut Chicken with Rice, Broccoli

Friday-Out to Dinner--DH's birthday!


Saturday, February 27

Late Night Snack

Although the Peanut seems to say several new words each day, hungry is not one of them.  Don't get me wrong--the child seems to be hungry ALL. THE. TIME.  And I feel like I feed her ALL. THE. TIME.  It's like she has a hollow leg.   Wonder where she gets that from... 

Anyway, she just can't say "hungry" yet.  But when she is hungry, she walks towards the kitchen, looks at me, nods her head, and says, "Mmmm!"  So funny

So two hours after her dinner of huge piece of pizza and practically a gallon of milk, she let me know she was starving.  Again. 

So she ate half an orange and a handful of crackers and drank a whole glass of water.  I so miss having that kind of metabolism.  

In other news, I have been experimenting with our camera lately.  I really like those photos (on all the great blogs I read in which the authors have WAY better photographic talent than I)  where the main subject is in focus and everything else is really blurry.  I have to dig deep to my sophomore year (in high school) photography class, but I believe this would be referred to as a shallow depth of field.  

I think.  But don't quote me on that.   

That and I am really trying to avoid using the flash.  Not big on the subject being all lit up (excuse that phrase) and everything else in the background of the picture being dark.  So I am trying to use as much "natural light" as possible.  Which at night, is kinda hard.  So this means turning on all the lights in the house.  So then that means having a slower shutter speed to allow in more light to "expose" the picture and with a fast moving toddler, it makes it really, really, hard to take good pictures of the Peanut.  Because she moves and the pictures come out like this:

I don't know how Ree or Emily or Melissa does it.  Lots of light and lots of patience, I guess.

Friday, February 26

To The One I Look Up To

If I hadn't mentioned it before, my Mom is a pretty amazing woman.  Not only is she a wonderful mama, she is an amazing Grandma, and she is also one of my best friends.  We are very much alike (like the element of surprise), but at the same time we are very different.  (That probably makes NO sense, but it's true.)

She is the one who inspired me to be a stay at home mom, as she and my Dad made many a sacrifice so she was able to be home with my sister and I.  Before I decided to quit my job, she was there all the way encouraging DH and me to be praying about it and cutting our expenses where ever we could. 

She taught me nearly every domestic thing I know, including everything from my love to be in the kitchen (DH teases both of us as we can prepare one heck of a meal, but how is it possible to use every. single. dish. in the house?)  to stain treatment (Dawn dish soap works great on grease stains) to the art of entertaining (I am still light years behind her--she pulls it off with great ease--I am usually a frazzled mess when the day is over, but I am getting better). 

She is not afraid to try anything.  She sews, she cooks, she entertains, she quilts, she reupholsters furniture, she turns trash into treasures, she operates power tools, she gardens--the list goes on and on.  She's dabbled in basket weaving, pottery, wood carving, knitting, catering, beading--you name it, she's probably tried it.

I just admire the fact the she's not afraid to try anything.  Except public speaking.  I was a freshman in college and one of the required classes I had to take was Speech 101.  Talk about scaring me silly.  As I was literally crying on my mom's shoulder when trying to prepare for my first speech, she told me that she was terrified to speak in public.  I will NEVER forget that day.  I was, what 19 years old, and I finally learned that there was something my mom was scared of.  I practically thought she was infallible! 

I know I can call her with anything.  And I do mean anything.  Usually it's cooking advice, but when Peanut was about two months old, DH and I both had these absolutely atrocious colds.  Most colds are usually just an inconvenience, but with both of us having this cold that was just kicking our butts coupled with a new baby that was NOT sleeping through the night, we were both exhausted.  I had been up all night with Peanut and I was done.  DH even actually called in sick to work (and he is the type to rarely use sick days at work).  I was debating all through the night about calling my mom before she left for work early that morning.  My exhaustion won out.  I called her.  I told her I was so tired as I had been up all night with Peanut and we were both sick and not getting much sleep.... She didn't miss a beat, she said when do you want me to come over?  She ended up using one of her personal days at work to come watch Peanut so DH and I could get some uninterrupted sleep.  What a life saver! 

Did I mention she is amazing?

I am so glad she's my mom.   

Happy Birthday, Mama.

Thursday, February 25

White Enchiladas

These are so so so good.  It's a good one to fact I made this dish for DH when he and I were dating. 

Did I mention we are now married?

However, once again, I cannot take credit for this recipe, as this is another from the cooking classes that my mom and her best friend used to attend.  This is also an excellent way to use your turkey leftovers (or chicken, if you have them).

2 to 3 cups cooked chicken or turkey
4 oz. cream cheese
1/4 cup minced onion
1 cup Jack cheese, shredded
1/2 bottle green taco sauce (you can use green salsa too)
1/2 tsp seasoning salt
1 small can sliced black olives (optional)
1 tomato, diced

1 dozen corn tortillas

Combine all above ingredients (excluding tortillas) for filling.  Soften tortillas in wet paper towels in the microwave.  *If you prefer, they can be fried in oil to soften.  Place about 1/4 cup filling on one edge of tortillas and roll.  Place in shallow pan, seam side down.  Can freeze to this point.  (If frozen, thaw and continue.)

4 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup sour cream
1 (4 oz.) can chopped chilies
1 cup Jack cheese, shredded

Melt butter and blend in flour.  Add chicken broth all at once and stir until mixture bubbles and thickens.  Stir in sour cream and chilies, heat through but do not boil.   Pour sauce over tortillas and top with Jack cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 30 minutes or until heated through.

Serve with guacamole, salsa, sour cream, and chopped cilantro.

*I never do this.  In fact, often times I don't even roll the enchiladas (even after softening in the micro, my shells usually crack and it drives me nuts).  Frying them is just too much trouble and this recipe isn't low calorie as it is.  SO, I usually make a "lasagna" starting will a layer of tortillas on the bottom of a glass baking dish, layering half the filling, another layer of tortillas, the rest of the filling and finish with a final layer of tortillas.  Then top with the sauce and cheese.   It still tastes just as good.  :)

This recipe is linked to Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap and Tasty Tuesday and Life As Mom Ultimate Recipe Swap.   And come join the fun at the My Baking Addiction and GoodLife Eats Holiday Recipe Swap sponsored by Le Creuset.

Wednesday, February 24


The Peanut loves her books.  And there have been many amongst our friends and family that have indulged this love, so there are many board books in our living room.  I have a book basket that I use to keep Peanut's books rounded up in.  Now, she also has a new found fascination with the front door handle.   

Hang in there, I promise these two are related.

Peanut has figured out how to dump take all the books out of the basket and turn the basket upside down and push the basket up to the front door and use it as a "step-stool" to have better leverage with the door handle and deadbolt.  
Nice.  My little escape artist.  Thankfully our deadbolt does not open or close without leaning hard against the door.  That used to be irritating

Being the resourceful gal that I am, I had DH zip tie the basket to the chair leg, so we could still have a place to stash her books, without having to remove the basket from the room completely.

Not to be outdone, Peanut found some new leverage.  Her Dora car.  Which she lifts the seat up, and stands in it.  She uses this for leverage to crawl up onto to whatever fancies her at the moment.

Now, I keep reminding myself that I will be extremely thankful for her ingenuity as she gets older.  Right?

Just because I thought this was so cute.

Sunday, February 21

Pasta & Chicken Toss

I have been making this pasta dish for a couple years now and it never seems to disappoint.  I always seem to most of the ingredients on hand, but you can also substitute and prepare to your liking and also to what you have on hand.

1 pound pasta (I used penne)

1 Tbsp EVOO
1 medium onion, diced
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes packed in oil (mine come sliced, if not, you will want to slice them)*
1 cup artichoke hearts, sliced (mine were packed in oil, but you can use whatever you prefer)*
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup Parmesan cheese, divided
3 Tbsp fresh basil, chiffonade chopped (you can use dried as well, but I really think fresh makes this)

Heat lightly salted water to boiling, and cook pasta al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water. 

Heat olive oil in large sauce pan and saute onions until soft, about 10 minutes.  Add chicken and nearly cook through.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Add garlic, sun dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and chicken stock and heat until chicken is fully cooked.  Add cooked pasta and half of the Parmesan cheese and 2 tablespoons of the fresh basil.  If there is not enough "sauce," add pasta water to desired consistency.  Serve with additional cheese and basil on top.  Enjoy!

*I purchase both my sun dried tomatoes and artichoke hearts at Costco.  They both come in large jars: sun dried tomatoes-32 ounces; artichoke hearts-65 ounces. They both keep in the refrigerator for at least 4-5 months, if not longer.  You can't beat the price, as they each run around $7.00 to $8.00.

This is linked to Finding Joy in My Kitchen's Countdown to 2011: Main Dishes.  

Friday Surprise

I was so excited when I answered the door bell late Friday parents came up for a surprise visit!  Once again, the wool was pulled over my eyes--I never seem to catch onto these things.  Unlike last time, my parents arranged it with the DH, so he knew they were coming.  However, once again, I had no clue.  But, what wonderful weekend!   We were able to relax and enjoy each others company and spend some quality time together.  And that's what it's all about, right? 

What did you do this weekend? 

Menu Plan Monday

We had a good week last week...and had a wonderful surprise on Friday.  Not trying any new recipes this week, just making some favorites trying to use up what's in the freezer.

Sunday-Chicken & Pasta with Artichoke Hearts and Sundried Tomatoes and Fresh Basil

Monday-Taco Salad

Tuesday-Turkey Enchiladas (didn't get to these a few weeks back), Black Beans

Wednesday-Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans

Thursday-Pulled Pork Fajitas


Saturday-Pizza w/ Homemade Crust and Homemade Sauce
For other menu plan ideas, visit here.

Thursday, February 18

Chicken Parm Meatballs and Spaghetti

This is what was for dinner last night:

It was really good, but I guess I need to remind myself that I need to read through the recipe before making it. I read through it when I decided to make it last week, but I didn't realize that these were separate entrees.  I thought they were served together, not along side each other.  No big deal though--it was very tasty.   And once again, the fresh basil stole the show.  Yum!

Wednesday, February 17

Seafood Linguine

We had our special dinner for Valentine's last night.  DH is in restaurant management, so it goes without saying (but I'll say it anyway) that he worked late on Valentine's.  Go figure!  :)

This recipe was inspired by the Pioneer Woman's Linguine with Clam Sauce, which is what I was going to make.  However, I decided to add some other seafood to it, because, well, I can.  And DH and I both love seafood.  And we don't eat it that often, so I thought I would go all out.  Anytime I go to Olive Garden, I always order their Seafood Linguine .  I love it and well, I'm in a rut.  But that's okay, because I really, really like the Seafood Linguine rut.

You will need:

1 pound linguine
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp butter
3 garlic cloves
4 Tbsp flour
Two 6.5 ounce cans minced clams, drained
1/2 pound small scallops
1/2 pound shrimp, tails removed, coarsely chopped
1 1/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup chicken stock (or you could use the clam juice)
lemon juice, to taste
2 Tbsp flat leaf parsley, chopped
Salt & Pepper, to taste
Grated Parmesan Cheese

Cook linguine according to package directions--you want your pasta to be al dente

Heat olive oil and butter in large sauce pan, adding garlic and cooking until softened.  Be careful not burn the garlic.  Add flour and cook for 2-3 minutes.  This is a roux. Add the shrimp and scallops and cook through.  Add the clams and pour in the cream and stock.  Cook over low heat until thickened.  Add lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.  Stir in parsley.  Mix in pasta and serve.  Garnish with Parmesan and parsley.

 Super easy and super yummy!



Please pardon the dust as it settles.  I have been redesigning the look of my blog and I think I have it just about how I want it.  I like the look of the "wider" posting column, so I have been scouring the internet for help on adjusting my columns.  HTML code is just about TOO much. 

I can see why those computer smarty pants make so much money.

However as I have adjusted things, I want to know, can you see the whole page? Without having to scroll left to right?  I can see the page just fine on our screen, but I don't want it to be a pain for others. 

Let me know how it's working for ya!

Sunday, February 14

Happy Valentine's Day

So I made these for my two Valentines.  Mine don't look anything like Bridget's...I overfilled the liners, which made the cupcake stick to the pan and my "penmanship" is no where near perfect...but they sure do taste good! 

Hope you all have a special day!

A Trip Home

So we were able to go to HomeTown this last week for QUICK trip home (like one night quick) to tie up some loose ends with our rental situation.  I am optimistic, as things are starting to look up.  God is always faithful...why do I ever doubt?  We had a good time, despite the fact that DH was sick with a cold over his days off from work that were spent driving in a car.  As always, looking forward to the next visit!
Here are some pictures of the Skipper (my Dad) and his Little Buddy (the Peanut):

The Peanut is starting to get used to Jet, my parents lab.  We don't have any animals, so this is really her only exposure to our four legged friends. 
Trying to give kisses.  
Jet chooses to share in the sentiment...but catches the Peanut off guard.* 
The Peanut is even more surprised by Grandpa scolding Jet. 
But I think this really says it all between The Skipper and his Little Buddy, don't you?

*Disclosure:  No Peanuts were harmed in the taking of these pictures. 

Menu Plan Monday

So last week didn't go off as well as I had hoped, we even ate out on Wednesday night.   I KNOW...shocker.  I don't know why I ever thought it was such a's expensive, you don't get that much food, it's full of fat and preservatives...I could go on and on.  This week should go much better...I hope.  :) 

Sunday-Pork Chops with Honey Mustard Gravy, Mashed Potatoes, Brocolli

Monday-Neapolitan Baked Ziti

Tuesday-Seafood Linguini, Fresh Bread (Our Valentine's Dinner)

Wednesday-Chicken Parm Meatballs and Spaghetti


Saturday-Grilled Cheese and Fruit

Sunday, February 7

Menu Plan Monday

Last week went good.  We had lots of turkey leftover so I have that stashed away for some future meals.  One of which we will be having this week.  Gotta love getting almost six meals from one bird.  :)

Sunday-Big Game food: Hot dogs with all the fixings, potato chips, limeades

Monday-Bacon, Leek, Tomato Spaghetti

Tuesday-Out for Dinner

Wednesday-Turkey Enchiladas, Spanish Rice

Thursday-Spinach-Artichoke Mac & Cheese



For other great menu plans, check here

Friday, February 5

A New Chair and a New Hair (Style)

My Dad had a small child sized rocking chair when he was a little boy.  He saved it (or rather my mom did) and with a new granddaughter, they had the perfect opportunity to bring it out again.  My mom painted it to match all Peanut's other white furniture. 

Now, while I don't advocate sticking your child in front of the television as a regular distraction, watching "Mo" (as the Peanut says Elmo) can be quite the helpful distraction while I am working in the kitchen. The Peanut, like most children, wants to be up close to the TV and I thought to bring out her little chair (once Grandpa's) to sit a ways back from the TV so she can watch Mo while I prepare lunch or dinner. 

She is pretty tickled with this Peanut sized chair!

Likes to hold "Mo" while watching "Mo"...

She has also figured out now how to go forward in her little self propelled car.  And that is just grand fun!


We are just about there with pigtails too.  Her hair in the front doesn't quite reach, but it will within a week or two.  She is looking so grown up...wish I could freeze time.

Tuesday, February 2

Horseradish Carrots

These are a family favorite.  I don't care for cooked carrots, but the horseradish just adds something to it that make them absolutely yummy!  And I will admit, when my mom made these for the first time 7 or 8 years ago (getting the recipe from a cooking class she attended), I thought, "Oh that's just gross."  But let me reassure you--they are good--real good.

You will need:

8-10 medium carrots
1 small onion
1/2 c. mayonnaise
1-2 Tbsp horseradish
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 slice bread
1 Tbsp butter, softened/room temp.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Slice round or julienne carrots.  Cook in lightly salted water for 5-6 minutes or until fork tender.  (Mine always take quite a bit longer.)  Drain, reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid.  Place carrots in shallow, buttered 1 1/2 quart casserole.

Combine reserved carrot liquid, onion, mayonnaise, horseradish, salt, and pepper.  Spoon over top of carrots.  Butter the bread and whirl in the food processor.  Sprinkle over top of carrots.  (Can be done ahead to this point and refrigerated.)  Bake uncovered for 15-20 minutes or until heated through.  Serves 4-6.


**This recipe is linked to the Life As Mom Ultimate Recipe Swap.

Homemade Chinese Food

We don't eat out hardly at all any more.  (Except for the "occasional" limeade, of course.)  So I've taken to making my own Chinese food and although it's not quite the same as what comes in the lovely little white take out boxes, it is still very good.  (That's probably because there is no MSG--I suppose I could buy some and add it in to make it truly authentic.)

I use this recipe for the fried rice, with a few twists.  I use butter instead of oleo (?!?!!--apparently the "first generation" of margarine) and I also add pork to ours and then garnish with sliced green onions. 

I was going to make Chow Mein, but I forgot to get bean sprouts this week and I've always liked the subgum at Chinese food restaurants, so I came up with this:

Pork Subgum

1 cup chopped onions
3 cups sliced celery
2 cups chopped broccoli
1 cup cooked, diced pork
2 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Soy sauce

Heat two tablespoons vegetable oil in frying pan and saute onions until softened.  Add celery and broccoli and cook until crisp tender.  Add pork and heat through.  Mix chicken stock and cornstarch and pour in pan and heat until thickened.  Add soy sauce to taste. Serve over Chinese Chow Mein noodles. I would have also added water chestnuts,  but I didn't have any.  I just love water chestnuts. 

Don't be afraid of making your own take out--it's pretty easy! (and probably much better for you!)

This recipe is linked to Life As Mom Ultimate Recipe Swap. 

Strike A Pose

I realize I haven't put much on here other than yummy new recipes I thought I would catch up.  First, the Peanut is quite the dancer these days.  Whether it's the music from her shopping cart, Dora car or a commercial jingle on TV, if it has a good beat, she is groovin' to the music:

 (please ignore the temporary trashy cardboard barrier between Peanut and the computer's pretty power button)
These pictures don't do her dancing justice, as you can only imagine how amusing it is!  Her dancing talents don't come from me, that's for sure!

She also has devoloped a love for books.  I've read that you have to have children attracted to reading by the age of eight, so hopefully this will last, as reading is such a wonderful thing!

I just can't believe how big she has gotten these past few months!  Even from her birthday a few months ago, she has changed so much.  She is no longer a baby, but a very willful little toddler!  She definitely keeps this mama on her toes!


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