Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2011 Kitchen Goals

Last year, about this time, I set some kitchen goals to work on throughout 2010.  I liked this idea so much better than a list of resolutions.  Setting goals targeted toward accomplishing one a month throughout the year seemed so much more reasonable and much less stressful and doable.  I accomplished most of what I set out to do during 2010.  You can read about my successes and failures here.  This idea was so successful I decided to do it again , so drumroll please...... here are my 2011 Kitchen Goals.

1.  Eat from the pantry (January Goal)
2.  Select and make 2 recipes/month from my Southern Living Cookbook Collection (year long)
3.  Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day (February Goal)
4.  Less Processed Foods (year long)
5.  Create a list of 8 - 10 go to pantry meals
6.  Better garden plan - analyze soil, augment soil, research plant varieties
7.  Preserve more - including dehydrating
8.  Make homemade tortillas
9.  Maek homemade hummus
10.  Find a freezer pizza crust recipe and make up Pizza Kits.
11.  Plan for lunches - try to take lunch 3 days a week (year long)
12.  Learn to make and decorated Sugar Cookies

There you have it, my kitchen ambitions for 2011.  Stay tuned for updates on my progress thorughout the year.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Meal Plan Monday - Last one for 2010!

Here we are, the last meal plan of 2010.  Looking through my posts from this year, I was pleased to see I posted 41 menu plans during the year.  I know I had several weeks planned, but did not post, add to that 3 weeks of vacation and visiting relatives and I had meal plans for almost all 52 weeks of 2010!  I can tell you, meal planning works.  Over the course of the year, we have significantly reduced our dependance on takeout and delivery meals, utilized our food supply in the pantry and freezer, cut our grocery bill and added some family favorite recipes to our cookbook.  If you are hesitant to try menu planning, give it a try for one month.  I assure you it will change the way you feed  your family.

We ate some terrific food last week, many of our favorites and a few new recipes.  After all the rich holiday food and an entire week of cooking, I am ready for some simple, easy meals and my menu this week reflects simplicity and a desire to spend my time somewhere other than the kitchen!

Sunday - Turkey (smoked at our restaurant), Dressing (from the restaurant), Mashed Potatoes (leftover from Christmas dinner), Green Beans and Fresh Coconut Cake (a gift from my very good friend)

Monday - ordered pizza

Tuesday - Turkey Noodle Soup and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Wednesday - Last of the Holiday Leftovers or Chef Salad

Thursday - (my sister's family arrives for the weekend)  Quesadillas (Shrimp, Turkey and Cheese), Spanish Rice, Fresh Salsa and Guacamole

Friday - New Year's Eve party here - Everyone is bringing an appetizer to share.  I will be making Stuffed Mushrooms, Spinach Dip with Pretzels, Cookie Tray and 2 other dishes, to be determined by what is on sale at Publix this week.

Saturday - Southern New Year's Dinner - Pork Loin, Hoppin' John, Collard Greens, Scalloped Potatoes, Cornbread and Orange Slice Cake

For more great menu plans and recipe links, visit I'm An Organized Junkie

Monday, December 27, 2010

2010 Kitchen Goals Recap

Last December, I set 11 kitchen goals, basically one per month.  Looking back I really did well.  I accomplished 8 goals, did not meet 2 of them and decided 1 would just not work for our family.  All in all, a success.  Below, find what I managed to accomplish this year.

1.  Eat from the pantry in January.  I participated in an online pantry challenge in January and was quite successful, in fact, I plan on doing it again this year, either online or on my own. 

2.  Use less processed foods.  This one I turned into a year long goal and really accomplished a great deal.  In addition to the foods listed in this post, I have also begun making my own meatballs, grape jelly, applesauce, chicken noodle soup, breakfast burritos, and granola bars. 

3.  Reduce take out/delivery foods.  WOW, we have done so well with this one.  We used to order pizza and chinese so often, they knew our orders when we called and the delivery guys knew our dogs' names.  Now, pizza delivery is because we just really want a good pizza, not because we don't have any other options.  Picking up Zaxby's is a treat, not a necessity.  I can't believe all the money we saved by just not ordering out.

4.  Menu plan consistantly.  I posted 41 menu plans this year and there were several weeks I had plans, but did not get to post them, so I probably had menu plans for 46 out of 52 weeks this year.  Not too bad.  Let's see if we can make it 52 this year!

5.  Make homemade tortillas.  I never did this one.  I consistantly found great deals on tortillas at the grocery stores, so I just never had a need to make them.  I am keeping this goal for 2011, we will see how it goes.

6.  Add 5 new WW recipes to our menu rotation.  Well, they weren't WW recipes, but I added many new recipes to our rotation, most with out any processed foods.  Some of our favorites were Italian Sausage and Potato Roast, Chicken Noodle Soup, Hubby Will Inhale Them Meatballs, Delicious Ham and Potato Soup and Pesto

7.  Try making Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day.  I have not completed this goal yet.  I have bought and read the book and I ordered (and received) a dough bucket from King Arthur Flour, so there are no excuses now....

8 and 9.  Utilize a CSA or Farmer's Market.  This is the goal I discovered just didn't fit our family.  We only like certain vegetables, so the expense and surprise of a CSA box just wouldn't have been a good use of our grocery budget.  And since I accomplished goal 9 - Enlarge my garden and utilize it, we had plenty of the vegetables we liked and were able to eat from our own garden and not purchase much produce at all from June until September.

10.  Preserve more.  I preserved a great deal more this year than last year.  I made jalapeno-pepper jelly, cherry jam, strawberry jam, strawberry-jalapeno jam, peach jelly, peach jam, sweet and sour relish, cherries, bourbon cherries, mojito jelly, Roasted Tomato Sauce, and Pesto.  I have even bigger plans for next year.

11.  Type up family favorite recipes and add to cookbook.  Not only did I update the regular cookbook, I created a freezer cookbook with all the recipes I regularly cook for the freezer and I included freezing instructions. 

Not bad for a year of goals. I have plenty of new goals (and few old ones) ready for the new year.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

How to Eat at Hom on the Go - Week 10 Meatball Subs

Welcome to Week 10 of How to Eat At Home on the Go, a series where I offer my tips, tricks and recipes to eat at home, even when your family is on the go for sports, church, school, work or anything else that may come up. You can check out the rest of the series here - Week 1, Week 2 , Week 3, Week 4, Week 5, and Week 6,  Week 7,  Week 8 and Week 9

Meatball Subs have been a dinner time staple around our house for years.  They are a true family favorite and a very quick meal with the help of a crockpot. 

Meatball Subs

Enough frozen meatballs for your family - about 5/sandwich
1 jar spaghetti sauce (we prefer Bertolli Tomato Basil for our subs)
Mozzarella or Provolone cheese (sliced or shredded)

Place frozen meatballs in crockpot, top with sauce.  Stir to make sure all meatballs are covered with sauce.  Cook on HIGH for 2 - 3 hours or LOW for 4 - 5. 
Serve on whatever bread you prefer - hamburger buns, hot dog buns, hoagie rolls, etc topped with a spoonful of sauce and the cheese of your choice. 

For years we did this with frozen meatballs from the grocery store, but this summer I started making my own meatballs and I have been threatened with my life if I ever serve the frozen grocery store variety again.   I make a huge batch, cook them in the oven and freeze in meal size portions.  4 lbs of ground beef will yield 4 meals for my family of 4.   Here is the recipe I use, courtesy of Amanda Beth from

Hubby Will Inhale Them Meatballs

4 lbs of ground beef
1 small onion
40 fat-free saltine crackers, crushed
4 t garlic powder
1 t kosher salt
2 t black pepper (this makes them just a bit spicy, add less if you want)
2 t dried basil
2 t dried oregano
4 T Worcestershire sauce

1.  Finely grate onion in large bowl, making sure to keep juice in the bowl as well.
2.  Add remaining ingredients and mix well.  Use your hands for best results.
3.  Shape into 1 - 1 1/2" balls.
4.  Spray baking pan with sides with cooking spray (or cover pan with aluminum foil and spry with cooking spray for easier cleanup)
5.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.   Check for doneness.   

****If freezing, remove from pan, cool.  Flash freeze, then bag for long term storage.  Tastes great from the freezer within 3 months, may be longer, but they don't last longer than that around here. 

Linked to Tasty Tuesday at Beauty and Bedlam
Delicious Dishes at It's A Blog Party
Tasty Tuesday at A Beautiful Mess
Ultimate Recipe Swap at Life as Mom

Monday, December 20, 2010

Meal Plan Monday - Christmas Week

Last week we did pretty well.  We ended up with dinner at Chick-fil-A Tuesday night because we didn't have any leftovers to have for dinner!  I also didn't make the Bourbon Brown Sugar Pork again.  Guess I'm just not into it as much as I thought.  I think I will stick this one in the "to be tried" file and bring it out again later.  I did do quite a bit of baking last week and have a baking wrap up post in the works.  I am hosting Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at our house, so I have lots to do this week and have a pretty simple menu planned so I can make ahead many of the dishes for both meals.

Sunday - My husband's High School Buddies Christmas Party

Monday - Chicken Tortellini Florentine, Rustic Pan Bread

Tuesday - Christmas Party

WednesdayHam and Potato Soup, Football Rolls, Christmas Cookies

Thursday - Leftovers or Sloppy Joes, Chips and Fruit Salad

Friday - Christmas Eve Buffet - Three Layer Cheese Torta, Marinated Olives and Cheese, Cajun Spiced Pecans, Crab Dip, Cookie and Candy Tray

Saturday - Breakfast - PW's Cinnamon Rolls

Christmas Day Snacks - Little Smokies with Mustard, Hanky Panks, Sausage Balls, Fruit and Cheese Tray, any leftovers from Christmas Eve

Christmas Dinner - Prime Rib with Creamy Horseradish Sauce, Mashed Garlic Red Potatoes, Green Bean Bundles, Caesar Salad, Rosemary Foccacia, Poundcake

Sunday - Navy Bean and Ham Soup, Chicken Noodle Soup, Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, Chips and Dip, Coconut Cake

For more great menu ideas and recipes, visit I'm An Organized Junkie

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tuesday Garden Party - Seasonal Recipes

I have not participated in the Tuesday Garden Party since school started in August.  I am thrilled to find a little bit of time to link up a post about they yummy food we have been eating from our summer harvest.

Our favorite has been the pesto we made from our abundance of basil.  We love this on pizza, on sandwiches and in the new family favorite Spinach Ravioli Lasagna.  We are already lamenting the fact that there is only ONE container of pesto in the freezer.  I have already promised to plant more basil next year.

photo credit - Southern Living Magazine (

We continually enjoy the jams and jellies we made this summer.  Spiced Cherry Jam, Jalapeno Pepper Jelly and Strawberry Jalapeno Jam are among our very favorites.  The kids can't get enough of the Grape Jelly we made, but that one really doesn't count, as I purchased organic, unsweetend juice to make it. 

Finally, we just adore the Roasted Tomato (Veggie) Sauce from An Oregon Cottage.  Our favorite way to serve it is over cheese ravioli with lots of fresh parmesan cheese. 

Linked to Tuesday Garden Party

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

How To Eat At Home on the Go - Week 9 - Toasted Sandwiches

Welcome to Week 8 of How to Eat At Home on the Go, a series where I offer my tips, tricks and recipes to eat at home, even when your family is on the go for sports, church, school, work or anything else that may come up. You can check out the rest of the series here - Week 1, Week 2 , Week 3, Week 4, Week 5, and Week 6,  Week 7 and Week 8.

We just added Toasted Sandwiches to our menu rotations a few months ago.  It was kind of a fluke actually.  We had just returned from a weekend away and were too tired to go to the grocery store or even to pick up takeout.  I rooted through the refrigerator and found ham, salami, cheese and hot dog buns.  Not really in the mood for just a sandwich, I decided to throw the ingredients under the broiler for a couple of minutes and voila, our own toasted sandwiches, much better and much cheaper than Subway.   Since then, toasted sandwiches have appeared on our menu quiet often, especially on busy sports nights.  I can have these sandwiches with chips, veggies or fruit on the table in 15 minutes. 

Toasted Sandwiches
sandwich meat

Turn the oven to Broil.  Place bread slices on baking sheet and place under broiler until just lightly toasted.  Top bread with sandwich meat of your choice.  Return under broiler until meat is heated through.  Top meats with cheese of our choosing.  Return to broiler again and heat until cheese is bubbly.  Top sandwiches with your favorite condiments.  I always top mine with mayo, shredded lettuce, sliced cucumbers and banana pepper rings.  Delish!

Liniked to Delicious Dishes

Candy Cane Kiss Cookies

Oh my, these are delicious!  Our Elf, Bruce brought a bag of Candy Cane Hershey Kisses to Boo Boo a few nights ago and she discovered the recipe for these cookies on the back.  We made them last night and they are wonderful.  I am sure we will make them at least once more before Christmas, especially since Bruce ate a few last night while we were sleeping (wink, wink).

Candy Cane Kiss Cookies
from Hersheys

48 Hershey's Candy Cane Kisses, unwrapped (we only needed 36, made our cookies just a bit bigger)
1/2 (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
1 c granualted sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 t vanilla extract
2 c all-purpose flour
1/4 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
2 T milk
red or green sugar crystals, we used Christmas sprinkles too

1.  Heat oven to 350.

2.  Beat butter, sugar, egg and vanilla in large bowl until well blended.  Stir together flour, baking soda, salt; add alternately with milk to butter mixture, beating until well blended.

3.  Shape dough into 1" balls (I had to chill my dough for about 20 minutes to keep it from being sticky and my dough balls were about 1 1/2 inches).  Roll in sugar or sprinkles.

4.  Bake 8 - 10 minutes (my larger cookies took 10 - 12 minutes) or until edges are lightly browned and cookie is set.  Remove from oven; cool 2 - 3 minutes.  Press a candy kiss into center of each cookie.  Remove cookie from sheet to wire rack.  Cool completely. 

Makes about 4 dozen ( I got 3 dozen). 

Linked to Tasty Tuesday
Delicious Dishes
Home for the Holidays
Ultimate Recipe Swap
Holly Bloggy Christmas
Holiday Treat Week
Sweet Tooth Friday
Keeping Christmas Alive, 365
All About Christmas

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Meal Plan Monday - December 13

We were fairly successful sticking to our menu last week.  Our only problem was I did not get to make meatballs last weekend, so Meatball Subs were out.  We ended up at Zaxby's after basketball practice that night, but during the holidays and basketball season, I consider only one unplanned night at a drive thru not too bad. 

Sunday - Dinner out after visiting Santa Claus

Monday - Semi-homemade Pizza (I cheated and bought crust at the store), Cucumber Slices with Ranch Dip, Candy Cane Kiss Cookies

Tuesday - Leftovers from the weekend

Wednesday - Bourbon Brown Sugar Pork, Sweet Potato Fries, Peas

Thursday - Meatball Subs, Cucumber Slice and Ranch Dip

Friday - Dirty Rice and Fruit Salad

Saturday - Neighborhood Christmas Party - taking Corn Dip

Sunday - Christmas Party

Linked to Meal Plan Monday at I'm An Organized Junkie

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Kitchen Goals Update

I am still working towards the Kitchen Goals I set for this year.  One of my goals was to add 5 new Weight Watchers recipes to our family favorites.  I did add at least 5 new recipes to our dinner rotation, they just weren't Weight Watchers.  They are however, homemade and use less processed foods than most Weight Watchers recipes.  AND, everyone likes them!   Here they are -

1.  Homemade Applesauce
2. Italian Sausage and Potato Roast
3. Spinach Ravioli Lasagna
4. Broccoli Cheese Soup
5. Homemade Meatballs

Each of these yummy dishes has made several appearances on our dinner table this year and I am sure they will make more this year and in years to come. 

Monday, December 6, 2010

Meal Plan Monday - December 6th

Last week was a success!  Not once did we resort to a quick drive thru or delivery meal for dinner.  I am pretty proud of that fact, especially since it was a very busy week.  I did have to switch up a few items on the menu as I was out of meatballs.  How can I be out of meatballs???  I have a plan to remedy that situation this week.  The Double Corn Chowder was a new recipe and I made some pretty significant changes to the recipe and will posting it later this week.  It was a good quick meal to add to the menu rotation.  It also freezes well and is traveled well for lunch.

This week's plan -
Sunday - Chili Dogs, Chips and Ranch Dip, Brownies

Monday - Cheese Ravioli with Roasted Vegetable Sauce (from my garden this summer!), Broccoli or Peas (kids' choice) and Garlic Bread

Tuesday - Toasted Deli Sandwiches, Cucumber Slices and Chips with Ranch Dip

Wednesday - Brown Sugar Bourbon Pork (crockpot), Sweet Potato Fries, Broccoli or Peas (whichever one we did not have on Monday)

Thursday - Meatball Subs, Cucumber Slices and Ranch Dip, Fruit

Friday - Bunco for me, Leftovers for everyone else

Saturday - open for discussion

Sunday - Maggiano's after a quick trip to see Santa Claus

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Freezer Cooking Day - December

We are still eating well from my marathon freezer cooking session in July, but it is time to replenish some items.  This weekend I will be cooking along with Life as Mom and I am hoping to accomplish the following -

Breakfast Burritos
Oatmeal Breakfast Bars
Pumpkin Pancakes
Double Corn Chowder with Chicken
Kentucky Sugar Cookies
Ranch Dressing
Chocolate Sauce

I will report on my progress Sunday night.  For some great freezer plans, recipes and help visit Life As Mom. 

Christmas Cookies - 2 Recipes

Both of these recipes mean Christmas around our house.  The Spritz Cookies were a holiday tradition growing up and the Kentucky Sugar Cookies are a tradition I started for my own family.

Spritz Cookies

1 c shortening
3/4 c sugar
1 egg
1 t almond extract
2 1/4 c all-purpose flour
1/4 t baking powder
1/4 salt

1.  Cream shortening and sugar.
2.  Beat in egg and almond extract.
3.  Gradually blend in dry ingredients. 
4.  Press cookie dough througha cookie press.
5.  Sprinkle with sugar.
6.  Bake at 375* for 10 -15 minutes until set.

Makes 6 - 7 dozen cookies

Kentucky Sugar Cookies

1 c butter, softened
1 c vegetable oil
1 c sugar
1 c sifted powdered sugar
2 large eggs
1 t vanilla
4 c all purpose flour
1 t salt
1 t baking soda
1 t cream of tartar

Beat butter and oil at  medium speed with an electric mixer until well combined. Gradually add sugars, beating well.  Add eggs and vanilla, beating until blended.  Combine 4 cups flour and next 3 ingredients, add to butter mixture, mixing well. 

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets.  Bake at 350* for 9 - 10 minutes or until lightly browned.  Transfer cookies to wire racks sprinkle with granulated sugar while still warm. 

Makes 9 dozen. 

Linked to Life as Mom's Ultimate Recipe Swap

Christmas Pomanders

One of our family holiday traditions is making pomaders to display.  This is an activity my husband brought from his family traditions and I am so glad we have adopted in for our small family.  These smell heavenly!  Everyone that has walked in my house remarks on how good the house smells.  They claim it smells just like Christmas. 

All you need to make pomanders are oranges, whole cloves, some willing helpers and time. 

Select thin skinned oranges, navel oranges will not work, the skin is to thick and you will break all of your cloves.  Buy a large container of whole cloves, I get mine at a restaurant supply store, but I am sure Costco, Sam's, etc will have them. 

Simply, push the cloves into the orange.  It is that simple.  We cover some entirely, others we make simple patterns. 

When finished, place them in a festive bowl or basket and display.  We like to place them on our coffee table for maximum smell power.  Protect wood furniture from these as direct contact with the oils from the orange and cloves may damage wood. 

Linking up to Skip to My Lou, Tater Tots and Jello, Fireflies and Jelly Beans, Somewhat Simple

Chicken Pot Pie

I posted this recipe about a year ago, but wanted to repost with pictures. Also, since I first posted this I have stopped using cream of soups and make my own.  My recipe is at the bottom of this post.  This is one of our favorite winter meals.  It is quick, easy, delicious and there is never any left.  In fact it is to simple to make that my daughter can almost do it herself.  Her favorite part?  Crimping the pie crust!

Chicken Pot Pie

2 cans cream of chicken soup or 2 recipes of Cream of ____ soup (recipe below)
1 - 15 oz can Veg-All
1 1/2 - 2 cups of chopped, cooked chicken (I keep this in my freezer)
1/2 c skim milk

1/2 t Italian seasoning
salt and pepper to taste
1 refrigerated pie crust (I use Pillsbury - one day I might get brave and make my own!)

Preheat oven to 375* and prepare crust according to package directions (sometimes I just use a top crust, sometimes I use a top and bottom. My family prefers both, but if I only have one left from making a pie, they just get one.) Combine first 6 ingredients; place in 9" pie plate with prepared crust. Cover with top crust, crimp edges to pie plate. Slit crust to vent. Bake for 40 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before serving. (6 servings)

Cream of _____ Soup

2 T butter
2 T flour
1/4 t salt
1 c milk
In a heavy saucepan, melt the butter.  Sprinkle the flour over it and stir to incorporate.  Cook over medium low heat for 2 - 3 minutes, stirring constantly.  Slowly whisk in milk.  Simmer, stirring often for a few minutes until thick. 
Cream of Chicken - use 1/2 milk and 1/2 chicken broth.  If you do not have broth, drop 1 chicken bouillon cube into the water first.
Cream of Mushroom or Celery - saute 1/4 c diced mushrooms or celery in a bit of olive oil or butter until tender.  Add with milk. 

Cost Break Down -
Pie Crust (on sale with coupon) - $1.25
Cooked Chicken (from whole chicken in freezer) - $.075
Can Mixed Veggies - $.050
Other items - pantry staples at minimal cost
Total - $2.50

Friday, December 3, 2010

Friday Favorites

I have been searching and searching for a good pumpkin pancake recipe.  In the time of the great pumpkin shortage, I have been guilty of throwing away batches of pumpkin pancakes because they just weren't good.  I have high hopes for this recipe from The Motherload.  I will be making them tomorrow.  Wish me luck!

This recipe appeared in my inbox this week and it look just too good to pass up.  I thing these Chocolate-Peppermint Creams from Pillsbury will find a spot on my Christmas Eve Cookie tray. 

I always host a very southern New Year's Day dinner with all the traditional good luck foods.  I think this Spiced Pork with Bourbon Reduction Sauce from Cooking Light will be on the menu.

I had the wonderful opportunity to take a great group of high school students to the High Mueseum of Art in Atlanta to see the Salvadore Dali exhibit.  It was a fantastic show, showcasing the best of Dali's latest work, including the The Persistance of Memory (the melting clocks) and Christ of Saint John on the Cross. 

If you have not discovered Ted Talks yet, you are missing a great resource. Ted is a collection of  short video talks by a variety of experts of just about every subject imaginable.  I use this all the time in my classroom. 

Linking to Living to Tell the Story
Share Your Favorites

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

How to Eat at Home on the Go - Week 8 - Appetizers

Welcome to Week 8 of How to Eat At Home on the Go, a series where I offer my tips, tricks and recipes to eat at home, even when your family is on the go for sports, church, school, work or anything else that may come up. You can check out the rest of the series here - Week 1, Week 2 , Week 3, Week 4, Week 5, and Week 6 and Week 7.

We love to eat appetizers for dinner at our house.  This fits perfectly with trying to eat at home on the go.  Just fix one of these 3 quick and easy dips, serve with chips or crackers, add sliced fresh veggies and a fruit bowl and you have a great quick meal.  Each of these recipes can be prepared earlier in the day and popped in the oven 15 - 20 minutes before eating.  Enjoy!

Football Dip
This is a family favorite we have every time we watch college football.  So easy and very quick!

1 8 oz. cream cheese
1 can Hormel chili with beans
2 c shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350*.
Soften cream cheese (30 seconds in the microwave - take out of foil packaging first!).  Spread in the bottom of an oven safe dish. 
Top with chili (Homemade chili or the canned variety of your choice works well. This is just what we like.).
Top with cheese (use the cheese of your choice - colby jack is great)
Bake for 20 minutes or until bubbly. 
Best served with Fritos Scoops.

Buffalo Chicken Dip

2 8 oz. cream cheese
1/2 c Franks Chicken Wing Sauce
1 c Ranch dressing
1/2 c chopped celery (I leave this out all the time)
1 can chicken, drained (I use a large one, my sister uses a small one, you decide)
1 c shredded cheddar cheese

Super Quick - dump everything in a saucepot, heat over medium heat on stove, stirring constantly until all ingredients are incorporated and heated.  Serve with Fritos Scoops.

Quick - Soften cream cheese.  Dump everything in a bowl, mix until incorporated.  Pour into an oven safe dish and bake at 340* for 20 minutes, or until bubbly.  Serve with Fritos Scoops.

Not So Quick - Dump everything thing in a crockpot.  Stir to incorporate.  Heat on LOW for 2 - 3 hours, stirring occasionally to mix.  Serve with Fritos Scoops. 

Spinach Artichoke Dip
1 (10 oz) pkg frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 (14 oz) can artichoke heart quarters, drained and chopped
1 (5.5 oz) container garlic and herb spreadable cream cheese( I like Aloeutte)
1 c shredded Parmesan cheese
1 (8 oz) container sour cream
1/2 c mayonaisse
1 (2 oz) jar chopped pimentos, drained
6 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled (I use precooked bacon pieces)

Stir together spinach and next 6 ingredients.  Spoon into a lightly greased baking dish.  Bake at 400* for 20 minutes or until bubbly.  Sprinkle with bacon.  Serve with crackers or chips. 

Linked to Delicious Dishes
Tasty Tuesday
Works for Me Wednesday

Monday, November 29, 2010

Meal Plan Monday - November 29th

Wow, am I glad it is a new week!  We had two weeks of the flu at our house and our Thanksgiving holiday visit to my parents was canceled.  So disappointing.  I was even too sick to really enjoy the delicious Thanksgiving dinner my mother in law whipped up for 9 people instead of 5 at the last minute.  The highlight of the week - my parents drove down with a cooler full of my favorite Thanksgiving leftovers and my mom made Turkey and Dumplings last night.  Delish!

Monday - Oven Fried Parmesan Chicken Strips, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans, Cornbread and the last of my mom's dressing and Pound Cake

Tuesday - Crockpot Baked Potatoes, Fruit, Chocolate Chip Cookies

Wednesday - Lasagna and Garlic Bread

Thursday - Meatball Subs, Chips and Fruit

Friday - Double Corn Chowder with Bacon

Saturday - Christmas Party - is it really time for Christmas Parties????

Sunday - Maggiano's after seeing Santa Claus

Friday, November 26, 2010

Friday Favorites

Here are this week's Friday Favorites.  For more great lists and inspirational posts, visit Living to Tell the Story. 

Modge Podge Fabric Ornaments at I Heart Naptime were the Thanksgiving Day craft at my mom's house yesterday.  My family didn't get to participate because we didn't get to travel to Kentucky as I came down with the flu.  I have all the stuff to make them, so I guess the kids and I will put them on the list for next weekend. 

I can't wait to make this Doll Sleeping Bag for my daughter's American Girl doll for Christmas.  I think she will love it.  The hardest part of this project will be picking out the perfect fleece!  Thanks to Clean Mama for posting the pattern and such great directions. 

After my daughter's adorable Thanksgiving clip fell apart yesterday, I went searching for an easy, workable way to make all these great felt hairclips.  Skip to My Lou has a great tutorial.  I will be making all our clips like this from now on. 

And finally, This and That Creative posted about the homemade bows she uses on her Christmas tree.  This reminded me of the years when my kids were little and in order to save all my expensive blown glass ornaments we decorated our tree entirely in bows I made.  It is one of my favorite trees ever.  It truly was beautiful.  I still have those bows and I think I will pull them out this year and put them on our tree, with the glass ornaments. 

Linked to
Living to Tell the Story's Friday Favorite Five
It's A Blog Party's Share Your Favorites

Monday, November 22, 2010

My To Do List Update

I posted earlier in the week about my Must Do List.  I am pleased to say I have accomplished most of it.  Out of 11 items, 7 are completed, 3 are under way and 1 is going to have to wait a bit longer. 

1.  Staining the book cases - this is going to have to wait.  It is too damp for it to dry quickly, so I am going to have to wait for another opportunity.

2.  Get started on my Mom's calendar - pictures are ordered (my sister finally sent me her pics!) pages and themes are planned and I have started pulling scrapbook paper for the pages.  A pretty good start.

3.  I have all the supplies and patterns and will be cutting them this afternoon.

11 - Complete pages for Halloween Album  - I have one more page to go and that project will be complete until next year!

Not bad progress for a couple of days. 

Favorite Things Party

  I am joining 320 Sycamore's Favorite Things Party, kind of like Oprah's, only better. 

A Few of My Favorite Things

1.  My Kitchen Aid Mixer - a wedding present 15 years ago, it gets alot of use and I don't think I would know how to cook with out it.

2.  The Original Southern Living Ultimate Cookbook.  This is my "go to" cookbook.  Anything you need to know how to make, it is in here.  Mac and Cheese, Rosemary Foccacia, Raspberry Oatmeal Bars, Squash Casserole, the Best Chocolate Chip Cookies - all these are family favorites found in this great book.  No Southern kitchen is complete without this cookbook.

3.  Tervis Tumblers - my whole family loves these great tumblers.  We each have our own personalized style, on one fights over them, they don't sweat on the furniture and they keep hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold and most importantly, they are dishwasher safe. 

4.  Pumpkin Spice Creamer - I don't have the luxury of either the time or money to swing through Starbucks everyday for a Pumpkin Spice Latte, so this creamer is my cheap, at home answer to satisfy that craving.  I always buy several of these and freezer them so I can enjoy it throughout the year as well.  YUM!

5.  My Nook - My Christmas present from my DH last year, I don't know what I would do without my Nook.  I love that I can download a book from anywhere, in just minutes.   I love that I can use all the Barnes and Noble gift cards I get from students, I love how easy it is to use, and most importantly I love that I can have a huge library at my fingertips, any time, any where, no matter what I am in the mood to read.  I really think e-readers are going to revolutionize the way we read and they way we teach kids.  This is fantastic technology.

6.  Our Back Porch - We added this 32" covered porch to our house about 6 years ago and it was the best thing we ever did. (Please excuse the mess - it is in need of cleaning right now!)  We spend so much time here.  We celebrate birthdays, eat dinner together, spend quiet time sharing a bottle of wine, we invite our friends and neighbors over and enjoy wonderful times together, I enjoy my morning coffee here whenever possible.  We hold our annual Halloween Hayride here and in the winter, we hang up tarps, turn on the heaters and celebrate the New Year with our very best friends and family.   This is probably my very favorite place on earth.  I tell my husband "thank you" for building it all the time.  It (and my huge kitchen) are the reasons we probably won't ever move from this house. 

Go link up your favorite things at 320 Sycamore!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

To Do List

OK, I need a To Do List.  The number of things I have floating around in my head to get finished in the next week is more than a bit overwhelming.  I also have a number of WANT To Dos that are conflicting with My NEED To Dos.  So, a MUST Do List is in order. 


1.  Stain bookcases for office - I had these unfinished bookcases made and they have been sitting in my garage, taking up valuable real estate, since April.  I even have the stain and brush too.  This must get accomplished....

2.  Get started on my Mom's calendar for Christmas.  This will involve a call to my sister today as well.  The only thing my Mom asks for each year is a scrapbooked calendar of her grandkids.  I ordered most of the pictures this morning, but my sister  has yet to send me her contributions. 

3.  Cut felt ornaments and get supplies ready to travel.  Boo Boo and I are making throwback 70's felt ornaments and she wants to work on them while we are at my parents house for Thanksgiving.

4.  Make reservations to see Santa and dinner at Maggiano's.  This is a family tradition and I am hoping to get this done early this year.

5.  Take down fall decorations and begin the Christmas transformation.  Once the Thanksgiving holiday is over I won't have much time to decorate, so hopefully I can get all but the trees dones this weekend.

6.  Put together cheer coaches gifts for banquet tomorrow.  This should be super quick, just need to make myself sit down and do it.

7.  Finish the last 2 loads of laundry before they start dirtying clothes again....  As you know, this is a never ending cycle, but I feel a sense of accomplishment if there are 4 hours in which there are no dirty clothes anywhere in my house.  It's the little things folks.

8.  Menu for the week with grocery list.  This keeps me sane.  If you don't do this, you really should try it.  Makes the world of difference around here.

9.  Returns to Kohl's and Target - shoes for Boo Boo while we are out - better check Bubba's dress shoes while we are out and get his too, if he needs them.  What am I talking about, he is 11 and has grown 2 inches in the past 3 months, of course he is going to need new shoes. 

10.  Mail Thanksgiving cards.  I know, many will arrive after Thanksgiving, but its the effort that counts right? 

11.  Finish the layouts for the family Halloween album.  I need to do this so I can get the pictures and supplies off my desk to start my mom's calendar.

There is so much more, but this will get me started.... 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday Favorites

I have bee home all week with a very sick child, so I have spent a good deal of time cruising the holiday ideas everyone has been posting this week.  Here are a few I plan on trying out.

This Spaghetti Ham Bake from Taste of Home via I'm An Organized Junkie is on the menu for tonight to use up some ham left over from the Delicious Ham and Potato Soup I made last week. 

We made a quick trip to Hobby Lobby earlier in the week to get the supplies to make these Felt Ornaments from Bugs and Fishes.  We have completed 6 already.  Be on the lookout for pictures soon.

We had a bumper sweet potato crop this year and I need some new ways to cook them so my family won't mutiny on me.  I'm pretty sure these Honey Nut Crunch Sweet Potatoes with Cranberries from All Home Cooking. All Year Long. will be a  hit. 

My kids will be making a few of thee Button Wreath Ornaments from Lets Go Fly A Kite for our handmade tree. 

I have already started on this adorable poncho from Lion Brand Yarn for my daughter for Christmas.  Had some great purple varigated homespun yarn in my stash already, just need to pick up some fun fur for the trim.  I might even make one for myself. 

Posted at It's a Blog Party's Share Your Favorites
Living to Tell the Story's Friday's Fave Five