Friday, January 29, 2010

How To ...

Some things you just have to let others explain. Take for instance, how to fold a fitted sheet. If you saw where I stash my "folded" sheets, you would understand why I'm referring to someone else to explain. Plus I was at a loss as to how to end January blogging. So why not just end it with folding fitted sheets. What a way to go out! Oh well.

So without further excitement, I invite you to click on the link below:

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Not a 30 Minute Meal (Part 2)

Part 2 of an A W E S O M E meal!

Pork Chops Stuffed with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Spinach

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 sun-dried tomatoes, diced
1 (10-ounce) bag of frozen spinach,
thawed and excess water squeezed out
1/ 2 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
1/ 2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
1/ 4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/ 4 cup (2 ounces) goat cheese
1/ 3 cup reduced-fat cream cheese
4 (4-ounce) center-cut pork chops
11/2 cups chicken broth
1/ 2 lemon, zested
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Warm the 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, salt, pepper, and thyme. Cook until combined, about 2 more minutes. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl. Add the goat cheese and the cream cheese. Stir to combine and set aside.

Use a sharp knife to cut a pocket into the thickest portion of the pork chop. Stuff each pocket with a fourth of the spinach and sun-dried tomato mixture and close the pork around the stuffing. Season the outside of the pork with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl combine the chicken broth, lemon zest, lemon juice, and mustard.

Warm the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot add the pork. Cook until golden and cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer the pork to a side dish and tent with foil to keep warm. Add the chicken broth mixture to the skillet over medium-high heat. Scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan as the chicken broth simmers. Reduce the broth by half to make a light sauce, about 8 minutes. Spoon some sauce over the pork before serving.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Not a 30 Minute Meal (Part 1)

Warning: Today and tomorrow's recipes are NOT 30 minutes meals (they go great together). It may take 30 minutes to clean up the mess it makes to make them though. Do not be distracted though - they tasted A W E S O M E !!

Artichoke and Tomato Panzanella

1 (10 ounce) package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed (about 2 cups)
3 cups whole-wheat bread, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
3 large, red tomatoes, cut into wedges
1 cup pitted black olives, halved
3/4 cup chopped, fresh basil leaves (about 1 bunch)
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning

Preheat oven to broil. On a cookie sheet, drizzle the bread and artichoke hearts with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Broil the bread and artichokes until golden brown at the edges, about 6 minutes total, turning after 3 minutes.

Remove the bread and artichokes from the cookie sheet and transfer to a large bowl.

Add the tomatoes, olives and basil to the bowl and toss to combine.

In a small bowl stir together the 2/3 cup olive oil, white wine vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Drizzle the dressing over the salad. Toss to combine and serve immediately.

-Recipe and photo courtesy of

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

National Soup Month

January is National Soup Month - here is a soup
recipe that will make you never want to diet

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

3 pounds red potatoes
1/ 4 cup butter, melted
1/ 4 cup flour
8 cups half-and-half
16 ounces Velveeta cheese, melted
White pepper to taste
Garlic powder to taste
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
Bacon fried crisply
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Chives, to garnish
Parsley, to garnish

Dice unpeeled red potatoes into half-inch cubes. Place in a large pan, cover with water and bring to a boil. Let boil for 10 minutes or until almost cooked.

In a separate large pan, combine melted butter and flour, mixing until smooth. Place over low heat and gradually add half-and-half stirring constantly. Continue to stir until smooth and liquid begin to thicken.

Add melted Velveeta. Stir well. Drain potatoes and add to cream mixture. Stir in pepper, garlic powder, and hot pepper sauce.

Cover and cook over low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Place soup into individual serving bowls and top with bacon, shredded cheese, chives, and parsley.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Monkey Bread - YUM!

I was invited back! And I actually have a recipe to share! We actually had it Saturday morning for breakfast Yummy Monkey Bread. I did take a little help from the store -- I used refrigerated pizza dough. I have a friend that makes it with the type of bread that has to rise at least once (maybe even twice). That takes too long for me. And knowing my luck, I'd forget to let it rise in time to have it for breakfast. So here is my version.

Monkey Bread

1 stick butter, melted
2 cans refrigerated pizza dough
Cinnamon and sugar mixed together (amount will vary; about 1 cup sugar and a few tsp cinnamon--depending on how "cinnamon-y" you like it)

Unroll the dough and break into pieces. Roll into balls (these aren't the greatest "balls" but what do you expect when a 3 year old is helping?) Roll in melted butter then in the sugar mix.

Place in pan. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes.

Eat until there is very little left! This was what was left after the 4 of us ate (2 adults, a 7 year old, and a 3 year old). You may need to adjust your quantities according to how many you are feeding.


Friday, January 22, 2010

Mmm... Warm and comforting

Sausage Tortellini Soup

1/2 lb. bulk Italian sausage
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) reduced sodium chicken
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cups torn fresh spinach
3/4 cup refrigerated cheese tortellini
2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese

In a small saucepan, cook sausage over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Add onion and garlic; cook and stir until tender.

Add broth and water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese. Return to a boil. Add spinach and tortellini; cook for 7-9 minutes or until tortellini is tender. Sprinkle with cheese.

Yield: 2 servings

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Kitchen Tip

Who doesn't appreciate the occasional kitchen tip? But when you add different and bizarre?? It's so hard to resist.

Pour a packet of lemonade Kool-aid into the detergent cup and run the dishwasher while empty. The citric acid in the packet will clean the lime stains and calcium deposits that build up over time in the dishwasher. Note: Use only the lemonade - the colors in the other flavors will ruin your dishwasher.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Fake Out

I am very pleased to announce my sister ("Sissy") as the very first guest blogger! She has even told me that she has several other ideas to write about in the upcoming months. Thanks Sissy!

I will be the first to admit that I am not a good cook. I am not a good “baker” (as my children call it). In addition to not being good at it, I really don’t like to do it. It is for these reasons that I have become a “semi-not-so-semi-homemade” cook.

I have learned how to put an added “extra touch” on many “pre-made/store bought” items. Take a frozen pizza for example. Before baking the pizza (on a foil covered pan to speed up clean up), I sprinkle additional cheeses - whatever I have on hand - on top. Sometimes I have added extra pepperoni too.

Want an easy and healthy and a little bit more substantial salad? As Rachel Ray says, take a little help from the store. Besides a “bag of salad,” many grocery storesoffer pre-cut veggies that you can put on top. But the way I make it a little more substantial is by buying popcorn chicken at the deli counter. Throw a handful on top of your salad. They are already bite sized so don’t need cut up.

I’ll admit it. My chocolate chip cookies are Pillsbury place and bake. My kiddies like to help “make” them. We eat them before they are totally cooled; that’s how they are best. The next day when we eat them again, I put them in the toaster oven at 350 for about 1 minute. It warms them right back up and you would think you were eating fresh made cookies.

Meatball subs have become a staple for NFL game days (Go Colts!). Someone asked me if I have a good recipe. I sure do. Buy a big bag of meatballs at Sam’s or Wal Mart or your local grocery store. I have found that the pre-made ones taste really good and save sooo much time! Our favorites are the ones from Sam’s, but try them all and find your favorite. I put them in the crockpot with spaghetti sauce (again-your preference) and let them warm up until game time. Set out buns and sliced cheese (Provolone and Swiss), shredded mozzarella and grated Parmesan for on top and let everyone make their own. YUM!

Although, I don’t make a lot from “scratch” there are a few things that I do take the time to make. If I get invited back, maybe I’ll share some of those with you. For now, I will give you a very easy recipe for chili. It’s homemade but takes a lot of help from the store. If you can brown sausage and pour, you can make it. Enjoy!

Sausage Corn Chili

1 pound sausage, browned and drained

1 can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 can corn, drained

1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce

1 cup salsa

1 cup water

Mix all together in your crockpot. Let it go!.....until ready to eat. Top with shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, and chips/oyster crackers/crackers.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Dessert or Salad???

Strawberry Pretzel Salad

-1st LAYER-
2 cups crushed pretzels
3/4 cup melted butter
3 tablespoons sugar

Mix together and spread in a 9 x 13 inch pan. Bake 8 - 10 minutes at 400 degrees. Let cool.

-2nd LAYER-
1 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1 9 ounce cool whip

Blend cream cheese and sugar. Fold in cool whip. Spread on pretzel mixture.

-3rd LAYER-
2 3 ounce package strawberry jello
2 cups boiling water
2 10 ounce package frozen strawberries

Dissolve jello in water. Stir in frozen strawberries and refrigerate 10 minutes until set. (I did not slice my strawberries but I think it would work better and look better if they were sliced.)

Then pour over 2nd layer.

Store in refrigerator.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Hats Off to You

It is said that a Mom wears many hats.

Hats also are a distinguishing feature for certain jobs.

They keep your head warm or liven up the mood.

Needless to say, hats come in many shapes, sizes, colors and styles. They say just a little something about you - about who you are and what you like.

Well, maybe not all hats do because I don't know who she is or what she likes, but it's interesting.

Today for National Hat Day, my Chris is sporting his cowboy hat, me my Jeff Gordon hat and Elianna her fun polky dotty hat. And Harley, well, he isn't a hat wearin' kinda dog. But if he was, we could get him one like this. Or not.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

How Ya Doin'?

So how are those New Year Resolutions coming? It's only been 2 weeks you know. If you're struggling on keeping those resolutions you will be happy to know that Sunday, January 17 is Ditch New Year's Resolutions Day. Just sayin'.

That said, if you are in the 12% that actually keep your resolutions and if one of those resolutions was weight maintenance, STOP reading - this recipe is NOT for you!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge

1 lb. powdered sugar
4 tablespoons cocoa
2 sticks butter, melted
1/2 cup chocolate chips, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup peanut butter

Mix all of the above ingredients well. Put into 9" square pan.

Chill and cut into squares.

Before you accuse me of eating them all before I got a picture ... I made this fudge for some teens ... Honestly ... But I may have eaten a piece or two or maybe three.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

'Tis the Season to ... Walk?

According to the American Council on Exercise, time- and cost-conscious workouts are among the most popular fitness trends in 2010. Walking is one of the most popular fitness activities in the U.S. and is both time- and cost-conscious. During the winter months when walking outside is just not practical, you can still add walking into your fitness routine.

1. Use a pedometer. Pedometers measure how far you have walked in miles and also counts how many calories you have burned. They vary in price range ($5 - $219 from Walmart). Research shows that you can cover 7,499 steps a day, even without a formal sports or exercise program. Fitness experts advise to walk 10,000 steps a day. By using a pedometer, you can find out how many steps you normally walk, and then over time you can increase the amount of steps you take until you reach 10,000. This may mean, parking farther away at the grocery store, simply pacing the floors at home or walking the mall. One sure way to boost the number of your steps is to turn on peppy music. Without even thinking, you will increase the intensity of your steps and may have you walking even more!

2. Leslie Sansone's Walk at Home is the #1 indoor walk program in the world! The videos are so convenient, easy to use and are great for all types of fitness levels. Leslie Sansone also has 3 "Faith Walks" in her series. So far this year with the Walk at Home video series, I've made it ... almost 11 miles to the super Walmart! Only 4 more miles! Of course, I'll have to make it back at some point but at least there is food at Walmart. Go to and try out the 5 Minute Energy Walk (you'll walk 500 steps too!). PS: Her videos are only about $10 at Walmart!