Saturday, December 31, 2011

Top 5 Posts of 2011

I'm loving all the "Best of 2011" posts popping up,so I couldn't resist writing one of my own.

Linking up to

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Meal Plan Monday - December 26th

Better late, than never!  I thought about not posting my menu this week since I am so late, but I just couldn't resist posting the last MPM of 2011.

Monday - Shrimp and Grits, Caesar Salad, French Bread
Tuesday - Lasagna, French Bread, Fruit
Wednesday - Hamburgers, Mac and Cheese, Lima Beans, Fruit
Thursday - Fried Chicken Breasts, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, Green Beans
Friday - Dinner with Friends
Saturday - New Year's Eve Party Appetizers - Chili Dip, Cocktail Meatballs,  Baked Fondue with Bread, White Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting
Sunday - Southern New Years Dinner - Pork Ribs, Ham, Scalloped Potatoes, Black Eyed Peas, Deviled Eggs, Collard Greens, Cornbread, Orange Slice Cake and Italian Cream Pie

Check out other meal plans at I'm An Organized Junkie.

2011 Kitchen Goals Recap

For the past 2 years instead of New Year's Resolutions, I have created a list of 11 - 12 kitchen goals to accomplish throughout the year.  For 2011 I set 11 goals and as we enter the last few days of the year, it is time for an accounting of my progress...

Goal 1 - Eat from the Pantry - SUCCESS!
During the month of January, we shopped from the store very little and really reduced our food costs as well as used up items nearing their expiration date or that had been in the freezer far too long. 

Goal 2 - Select and prepare 2 recipes/month from my extensive Southern Living cookbook collection.
While I did not do this every month, I did try several new recipes from my collections and even added a few to our meal rotation.  Our very favorite -- Peanut Butter Granola.

Goal 3 - Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day
I still haven't done this... maybe the third year will be the year of success?

Goal 4 - Less Processed Foods - SUCCESS!
This was a year long goal for me and I did very well.  We know consistantly make our own salad dressings, granola, biscotti, all cookies, jellies and relishes, marinades and pizzas. 

Goal 5 - Create a list of 8 - 10 pantry meals - SUCCESS!
This has been a great help.  I have several meals I can just throw together from what is in the pantry, freezer and refrigerator in about 30 minutes.  I will be sharing these as a series later in 2012.

Goal 6 - Better garden plan
This started out really well, then hit several snags.  I did test my soil and augment it, I rotated my vegetables from last year and used a great fertilizer.  I got most of my garden planted a bit late, and I was out of town for 24 of 20 days in June, making it difficult to water, maintain and harvest as needed.  Then, ants infested my strawberry bed and I had to have it exterminated, killing all my strawberry plants and leaving that bed useless for the rest of the year.  The start of school in August was hectic and much of my produce from August rotted on the vine.  I have much better plans for 2012.

Goal 7 - Preserve more - including dehydrating - SUCCESS!
I canned a greater variety of jellies, jams and relishes this year than ever before, including roasted red pepeprs.    I also put my dehydrator to good use, drying peaches and blueberries as well as my first attempt at sun-dried tomatoes.  I even taught one of my friends how to can jams and jellies. 

Goal 8 - Make homemade tortillas
I never got around to this one.  I have been able to buy them so inexpensively and freeze that I haven't had the need to.  Maybe next year?

Goal 9 - Make homemade hummus - SUCCESS!
I found a great recipe for Roasted Red Pepper Hummus on allrecipes and it has become a favorite.  When my food processor broke in August, one of the recipes I missed most was my hummus.  Now that I received a new food processor for Christmas, I plan on trying other varieties.

Goal 10 - Find a freezer pizza crust recipe and make up Pizza Kits
This one didn't work out for us.  My TNT pizza crust recipe takes only minutes to create and my family has such different tastes in pizza toppings that pizza kits just don't work.  I found that throwing together a pizza with leftovers from the week was more successful. 

Goal 11 - Learn to bake and decorate sugar cookies - SUCCESS!
I just got this one in under the wire, baking them last week on Christmas Eve for Santa.  I finally found the perfect recipe from sweet sugar belle and a great icing on allrecipes.  These turned out perfectly and everyone loved them.  I will be making them again very soon, probably before the end of the year.

6 Successes (1, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11)
1 tried and didn't like (10)
2 modified (2, 6)
2 didn't get around to (3, 8)
Overall - not too bad! 

I will be posting my 2012 Kitchen Goals soon. 

Linking up to
Delightful Order
Tatertots and Jello

Monday, December 19, 2011

Meal Plan Monday - December 19th

I'm ready to eat at home for a few days.  We had 4 different Christmas parties this weekend and while it was GREAT fun, I need some time at home.  We have several quick family favorites on the menu this week in addition to eating at my mom's a few nights before the holiday celebrations.   Happy Holidays everyone!

Sunday - Christmas Dinner Party with Friends
Monday - Chicken Cordon Bleu, Broccoli Casserole, Baked Pineapple
Tuesday - Tacos, Rice and Salad
Wednesday - leftovers
Thursday - at my mom's house
Friday - at my mom's house
Saturday - Beef Tenderloin, Mashed Potatoes, Caesar Salad
Sunday - Yummy Stuff at my Granny's House

For more great menus, visit I'm An Organized Junkie.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Holiday Baking Week - Truffles

I really enjoy making candies for the holidays.  We have some real favorites around here.  This in the one part of holiday baking both kids like to help with.  I can always count on them to rolls candies and help cover them in chocolate. 

Kentucky Bourbon Balls

Linking up to

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Honey Mustard Bacon Chicken Sandwiches

When you think of a Make Ahead Meal, casseroles are the first thing that usually comes to mind.  While I love a good casserole smothered in cheese as good as the next southern gal, my DH does not.  This sandwich is a Make Ahead Meal we both can agree on.

It is actually a double Make Ahead -
1.  Marinate and freeze the chicken breasts,
2.  Grill chicken and cook bacon a day or two before serving while you are cooking something else.

On the day you plan to serve these yummy sandwiches, all you have to do is heat, assemble and serve.

Honey Mustard Bacon Chicken Sandwiches

Honey Mustard Marinade -

1/3 c dijon mustard
1/4 c honey
1 t cayenne pepper
2 T red wine vinegar
1/4 c oil
6 - 8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Put chicken breasts in a ziploc freezer bag.  Mix first 5 ingredients.  Add to chicken breasts.   Freeze until needed.  When ready to cook, thaw in refrigerator - chicken will marinate as it thaws.  Grill and serve.

Honey Mustard Bacon Chicken Sandwiches
Toast split Focciaca Bread
Spread with Ranch Dressing, Mayo or Honey Mustard
Top bottom piece of bread with Honey Mustard Grilled Chicken Breast
Top with cheese of your choice (we like Monterrey Jack, Cheddar or Colby cheeses)
Top with cooked bacon
Add toppings of your choice - lettuce, tomato, pickles, banana pepper rings, etc.)
Top with foccacia bread.

Linked to

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Holiday Baking Week - Cinnamon Rolls

My family loves cinnamon rolls and they especially like ooey, gooey, dripping with icing homemade ones.  I am forever on a quest for the perfect cinnamon rolls.  I finally found the perfect icing, but was still looking for THE roll recipe.  I received the Pioneer Woman Cookbook last fall and decided to try her cinnamon roll recipe.  I was thrilled to discover it makes a HUGE batch, perfect for freezing or gift giving.  This recipe got a 2 thumbs up from everyone, even DH, the hands down cinnamon roll expert in our house.  I made these this week to share with some very close friends and to take to my mom's house for Christmas morning. 

Here is PW's original recipe-
PW's Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Icing

My DH is a purist and his cinnamon rolls can only be topped with vanilla icing.  Below is the icing recipe I have created over the years to top our cinnamon rolls.  It is the one my family prefers. 

Cinnamon Roll Glaze
** make this recipe 4 or 5 times to cover all the rolls in PW's recipe above)
1 c powdered sugar
2 T butter, melted
2 T milk or cream
1 t vanilla extract

Mix all ingredients until combined.  Add powdered sugar a bit at a time to achieve your desired consistency.  Spread over warm rolls.  Serve or package up and share with your friends.  Be prepared to bask in their praise. 

Pumpkin Granola

I've been making my own granola for about a year now and I can't believe how delicious it is.  I have several favorites, including Peanut Butter, and Vanilla .  My holiday granola recipe is this Pumpkin Granola.  Topped with dried cranberries and chopped dried apples it is a great addition to my granola recipe collection.

Pumpkin Granola

3 cups oats
1 c shredded coconut
1/2 c wheat germ
1 c rice krispies
1/2 c sunflower seeds
1/2 c  pumpkin puree
1/2 c honey
1 t vanilla
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
1/4 t ground ginger
dash salt
dried cranberries
dried chopped apples

Stir together first 4 ingredients in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, stir together the pumpkin puree, honey and seasonings.  Add to dry ingredients and stir throughly, until well coated.

Spread on a large cookie sheet, bake at 250 degrees for an hour, stirring every 15 minutes. 

Remove from oven, cool.  Store in an airtight container.  Top with cranberries and apples before serving. 

Note- this is not my original recipe, however I don't remember where I found it.  My apologies to the original creator.

Linked to
Ingredient Spotlight at Eat At Home

Monday, December 12, 2011

Holiday Baking Week - Reese'e Cup Cookies

These are my son's absolute favorite cookie.   When I make them, I know there won't be any left the next day.   I have already made 3 batches of these cookies, and Christmas Break hasn't even started yet.  I think I will make another trip to Walmart to stock up on Reese's Cups!

Now, you can make your own peanut butter cookies, but I just use the Betty Crocker Peanut Butter Cookie Mix in the pouch.  I know, I know, I'm the "make your own queen" and my sister makes fun of me unmercilessly, but this one is just easy and I like these cookies from the mix!  One pouch makes 24 cookies, exactly the number my mini-muffin pan holds.  Perfect!

Reese's Cup Cookies

1 pouch Betty Crocker Peanut Butter Cookie Mix
ingredients to make the cookies (from back of pouch)
24 unwrapped Reese's Cup miniatures.

Prepare cookie mix according to package directions.  Roll into 2" balls and place in mini-muffin pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10 - 12 minutes or until set and LIGHTLY brown. 

Remove from oven and push one Reese's Cup into the top of each cookie ball. 

Allow to cool completely before eating or serving.

Just look at all the peanut butter and chocolate goodness.  Truth be told, these are some of my favorite holiday cookies too!

Christmas Kitchen Gifts

This week, I am linking up to Holly Bloggy Christmas 2011 hosted by Simply Sweet Home.  Today's topic is Homemade Gifts and you can find many, many ideas by visiting Jen at Tatertots and Jello.

These are some of the gifts finding their way under the trees of our family, friends and neighbors this holiday season -

For more great homemade gift ideas, visit Tatertots and Jello.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Holiday Baking Week - Orange Cranberry Biscotti

Welcome to Holiday Baking Week here on Love Being In My Southern Kitchen!  Each day this week, I will be sharing one of the treats I am making for family and friends this holiday season.  Hope you find a new favorite.

This was the first biscotti recipe I ever made and it is still my favorite.  It is so easy to make and has such a delicious taste.  I really like it with my morning coffee.  I gave it as gifts last year to my neighbors and there have been several hints as it gets closer to Christmas this year.  I found the recipe at  I made a couple of  changes.  I used orange juice instead of orange liqueur as I like the taste better (and I have to save my Grand Marnier for my cosmos!) and I drizzled melted white chocolate over the cooled biscotti to add one more element of flavor.

Orange Cranberry Biscotti

1/2 c butter
3/4 c sugar
2 eggs
1 T orange zest
2 T orange juice
2 1/4 c flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1 1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 c chopped dried cranberries
3/4 c toasted, chopped almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar.  Beat in egg.  Stir in orange zest and orange juice.  Sift together flour, bkaing powder, salt and cinnamon, stir into the creamed mixture, then stir in almonds and cranberries.

On a lightly floured surface, divide the dough in half.  Roll each half into a log about 1 1/2 inches wide by 10 inches long.  Set the rolls lengthwise on a baking sheet at least 3 inches apart, and flatten slightly.

Bake for 20 - 25 minutes in the preheated oven, until firm to the touch and slightly brown on top.

Cool for 10 - 15 minutes, then slice each log crosswise, at a diagonal, into 1/2 inch wide slices.  Lay them cut side down on the baking sheet and return to the oven for 10 minutes, then turn over and bake for 10 more minutes.  Cool completely, then drizzle with melted white chocolate. 
Cool on wire racks, store in an airtight container.

Linking to -

Meal Plan Monday - December 12

This is our busiest week of the holiday season.  It seems all of our holiday festivities fall during this week.  Our menu is peppered with parties and special events.  I am also doing all my Christmas baking this week.  Check back often as I update with all the yummies I am preparing to share with family and friends this holiday season.

Sunday - Hamburgers,  Baked Beans, Hashbrowns and Chocolate Chip Cookies
Monday - Santa Claus and dinner out
Tuesday - Leftovers from Monday
Wednesday - Meatball Subs
Thursday - Chicken Divan
Friday - Bunco (leftovers for kids)
Saturday - Neighborhood Party (kids staying with grandparents)
Sunday - Supper Club Party and Dinner with Friends

Lunches -
Monday - Hamburger and Baked Beans
Tuesday - Hopefully leftovers from dinner out the night before :-)
Wednesday - Chicken Fingers, Fruit
Thursday - Chicken Salad Sandwich
Friday - Chicken Salad Sandwich

Breakfasts -
Apricot Pecan Bread, Fruit, Vanilla Yogurt with Homemade Pumpkin Granola

For more great meal plan ideas and recipes visit I'm An Organized Junkie

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Vanilla, vanilla, oh how I love thee!  One of my favorite scents and tastes is vanilla.  I adore vanilla candles, Warm Vanilla Sugar is my go to BBW fragrance and I just can't resist adding extra vanilla to any and all recipes calling for the delicious extract.  I am a vanilla snob and only pure vanilla will do, no imitation in my kitchen, but it is so gosh darn EXPENSIVE! 

My solution?  Make my own!  I never realized how easy, economical and delicious homemade vanilla is. 

 You need 3 things - 

1.  A Mason Jar - I started with a pint jar -MISTAKE- the second time I made vanilla, I went with a quart size, much better idea.

2.  Good Vodka - many will say cheap vodka is good enough, but seriously, your vanilla is only going to be as good as the ingredients you put into it.  Splurge a bit and get the good stuff, you can make a great cosmo with what is left over (wink, wink).

3.  Fresh Vanilla Beans - note the term "FRESH".  Do not use those dried up things you buy in a bottle at the grocery store.  They've been sitting there since Christmas of 2000 and have very little flavor yet.  I order mine online through Amazon.  I like the Madagascar Bourbon beans the best.  You will need about 12 beans for a quart jar.

Clean and dry your jar well.  Make sure your jar lid and ring are new for food safety's sake. 
Take each bean and make a cut down the middle, but do not remove the seeds.
Put the beans in the jar, cover with vodka almost to the top.
Cover with jar lid and tightly screw on jar ring.
Put in a cool, dark place for about 3 months, shaking once a week or so.
And here's what you get...

Look at that delicious yummy flavor in a jar!  A quick word of warning - homemade vanilla has a stronger flavor than imitation or even real vanilla you can purchase, so use according to your one vanilla tastes.  You can share this if you like, or keep it all for yourself.  It makes great gifts.  There are several places online you can order cute, smallish bottles inexpensively.  Label and tie it up with ribbon and you have a great gift.

Here are some recipes using homemade vanilla extract:

Vanilla Almond Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles
Pumpkin Crisp
Bourbon Cake
Warm Vanilla Fruit

Linked to
Made by You Monday
Tatertots and Jello
The Grant Life
I Heart Naptime
What I Made Wednesday
Link It Up Wednesday

Bean with Bacon Soup

One of my favorite soups growing up was Campbell's Bean with Bacon.  I begged my mom to buy it all the time.  Now that I am concerned about sodium and MSG in my food for health reasons, I stopped buying my favorite soup, not quite so content to do with out.  I originally found this recipe on Tiffany's blog, Eat At Home, one of my favorite food blogs.  As soon as I saw it, I know I could modifiy the recipe just a bit and have my favorite soup once again.  It's delicious!  Below is my modified version.  You can see the original here.

Bean with Bacon Soup

2 - 3 slices of bacon, diced and fried
1/2 onion, diced and cooked with bacon
2 cans Great Northern Beans (I used frozen beans I had cooked from my freezer)
1/2 can diced tomatoes
1 box chicken broth (I used 2 containers of homemade broth from my freezer)
1/2 t oregano
salt and pepper to taste

Cook bacon and onions, toss in a soup pot.  Add all other ingredients and cook until everything is heated through.  Serve.  I put everthing in a crockpot and heat for 3 -4 hours on high.  Works great.

Linking up to

Monday, December 5, 2011

Ribbon Scarf

This is my favorite quick scarf pattern.  It is called the Ribbon Scarf and I found the pattern here.  I have made this pattern at least 3 different times, but each time I used a different type yarn and size needles.  It turns out great each time.  It is an easily memorable pattern, which makes it perfect for working on while watching TV. 

This scarf was made using the size needle and yarn specified in the pattern.

Linked to -
It's A Blog Party

Meal Plan Monday - December 5th

Sunday - Homemade Pizzas - Pesto Portabella, Cajun Shrimp, Pepperoni and Cheese
Monday - Grilled Sausages, Scalloped Potatoes, Lima Beans, Fried Apples
Tuesday - Bacon, Ranch and Chicken Mac and Cheese, Salad
Wednesday - Leftovers
Thursday - Chicken Tenders, Twice Baked Potatoes, Green Beans or Salad
Friday - Leftovers
Saturday -

Lunch -
Monday - Taco Casserole
Tuesday - Leftover Pizza
Wednesday - Leftover Pizza or Taco Casserole
Thursday - Bacon, Ranch and Chicken Mac and Cheese
Friday - Bacon, Ranch and Chicken Mac and Cheese

Breakfast -
Pumpkin Granola with Vanilla Yogurt, Zucchini Blueberry Muffins

Holiday Baking -
Bourbon Balls, Pumpkin Truffles

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

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Chicken Divan

Chicken Divan is one of my kids' favorite meals.  My husband does not care for it, so we usually have this on nights when my husband has to work.  I also make this in the crockpot on busy sports nights.  It is a great one dish meal, but in the summer, taking advantage of our fresh garden produce, I usually add some fresh side dish.  In the winter, I serve it as is, with no complaints from the kids.   

Chicken Divan

2 c cooked rice (long grain is best)
1 10 oz. pkg. frozen broccoli
3 boned, skinned chicken breasts, cooked and cut into bite size pieces
1 can cream of chicken soup (or make your own!)
1/2 c mayonnaise
1/2 t lemon juice
1/2 t curry powder
3/4 c shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 c soft bread crumbs

Layer rice and broccoli in a square baking dish (I use an 11x7 glass dish).  Layer chicken over broccoli.  Mix soup, mayo, lemon juice and curry powder and pour over all.  Sprinkle with cheese.  Top with bread crumbs.  Bake at 350 degress for 25 - 30 minutes. 

To make in crockpot - Mix broccoli, rice, chicken, soup, mayo, lemon juice and curry powder together.  Place in crockpot.  Top with cheese and bread crumbs.  Cook on Low for 3 - 4 hours. 

Serve with sliced tomatoes and cucumber salad (diced cucumbers tossed with ranch dressing).  A great simple dessert - No Bake Oatmeal Cookies.

Linked to
Life As Mom's Ultimate Recipe Swap
Tasty Tuesday
Melt In Your Mouth Monday
Full Plate Thursday
Fireflies and Jellybeans

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Apricot Pecan Bread

Years ago, my cousin made a delicious apricot bread at Christmas. We all loved it and I have been searching for the recipe ever since.  I finally found it and it is just as good as I remember.   This moist, flavorful quick bread will become a family favorite.  I ususally omit nuts from my quick bread recipes, but don't do it with this one.  The pecans are the perfect taste and texture compliment to the apricots. 

Apricot Pecan Bread
from Southern Living November 1997

2 1/2 cups dried apricots, chopped
1 c chopped pecans
3 c all-purpose flour, divided
1 c wheat flour
1/2 c butter, softened
2 c sugar
2 large eggs
4 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 1/2 c orange juice (I used Simply Orange - great orange flavor!)

Combine chopped apricot and warm water to cover in a large bowl; let stand 30 minutes.  Drain apricot. *** Stir in pecans and 1/2 c all-purpose flour.

Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer 2 minutes; gradually add sugar, beating well.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. 

Combine remaining 3 1/2 c flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Add to butter mixture alternately with orange juice, beginning and ending with flour mixture.  Stir in apricot mixture. 

Spoon batter into two pgreased and floured 8 x 4 inch loaf pans; let stand at room temperature 20 minutes. 

Bake bread at 350 for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in pans on a wire rack 10 - 15 minutes;  remove from pans, and cool completely on wire rack.   Makes 2 loaves. 

***NOTE - I used Trader Joe's Dried Apricots and they were very plump and moist.  I did NOT soak them and they were delicious. 

Linking up to

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Meal Plan Monday - November 27

It's the after the holidays cooking funk around here.  I just can't get too motivated to cook, so this week includes some easy, quick cook recipes.  

Sunday - Thanksgiving Leftovers - Turkey, Dressing, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, Collard Greens, Mac and Cheese, Cranberry Relish, Deviled Eggs
Monday - Grilled Chicken Salads
Tuesday - Turkey Pot Pie (using the last of the leftover Thanksgiving turkey)
Wednesday - Grilled Chicken Wraps (using leftover grilled chicken from Monday), Chips and Fruit
Thursday- Beef and Black Bean Taco Bake with Salad (freeze half)
Friday- Leftover Buffet
Saturday - Homemade Pizzas, Chocolate Chip Cookies

Monday - Thanksgiving Leftovers
Tuesday - Turkey Waldorf Salad (minus the celery root)
Wednesday - Turkey Waldorf Salad
Thursday - Turkey Pot Pie
Friday - Beef and Black Bean Taco Bake

Breakfasts - Muffins, Oatmeal, Granola with Yogurt

For more menu plans, visit I'm An Organized Junkie

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The BEST Cupcakes Ever

By unanimous decision, these are the VERY BEST cupcakes EVER.  I found the recipe for both the cupcakes and icing at Recipe Girl, via Pinterest.   They taste just like wedding cake, but are perfect for any occasion.  The icing tints very well and makes a great presentation. 

 The cupcake recipe calls for a cake mix with some great stuff added to it.  When I went to make the cupcakes the first time, I realized my sour cream had expired.  So, I dug through the refrigerator and substituted vanilla yogurt for the sour cream.  Perfect!  This makes an even moister cupcake with a more enhanced vanilla flavor.  (A co-worker made the same recipe, using sour cream and we decided we like the vanilla yogurt better).  I also substituted half the vanilla extract with almond extract, just my family's taste preference. 
 I also added almond extract to the icing as well. I have made these for Bunco, baby showers, just because and last night for our annual Halloween Hayride Party.  They are always a favorite and I rarely have any left. The cake recipe makes 36 cupcakes and while the icing recipe says it will frost 12 cupcakes, I double the recipes and have plenty of icing for all 36 cupcakes with about 1/2 a cup left over. 
Linking to
It's A Blog Party
Tasty Tuesday
Make Ahead Meals for Busy Moms
Good Cheap Eats
Link It Up Wednesday
Full Plate Thursday

Meal Plan Monday- October 31st

 This week wraps up our very busy fall sports season.  While it's been a great ride, I'm glad we can get back to a normal weekly schedule.  We will still have gymnastics and agility, but twice weekly practices will be over for a while.  I won't be home at all on Sunday to prepare a
head for the week. 
Sunday - Ham and Potato Soup
Monday - Halloween Hayride - BBQ Meatballs, 3 Dips with Assorted Crackers, Fruit, Halloween Cupcakes
Tuesday - Roast Pork and Black Beans on Rice with Salad
Wednesday- French Dip Sandwiches, Chips and Veggies with Dip
Thursday - Leftovers
Friday - Boo Boo and I head off for a girls weekend

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

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Marinated Cheese and Olives

Serve this appetizer at your holiday party and I guarantee there won't be any left.   It is one of my most requested recipes.  And as an added bonus, it is really quick and simple to pull together.  Since this will keep for 2 weeks in the refrigerator, if I know I have several events coming up, I make a double or triple batch. 

Marinated Cheese and Olives

3/4 c vegetabel oil
1/4 c white wine vinegar
1 t salt
1/2 - 1 t freshly ground pepper
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 - 8 oz. package Colby Jack cheese, cubed
1 - 8 oz. package Monterrey Jack or white cheddar cheese, cubed
1 - 7 oz. kalamata olives, drained
1/2 T dried Italian Seasoning
1/4 t crushed red pepper
3 cloves garlic, crushed
3 springs fresh rosemary

Combine first 5 ingredients in a jar.  Cover tightly and shake vigorously.
Combine all ingredients except rosemary in a large bowl; stir gently.  Add rosemary sprigs.  Cover and chill at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours.  Serve with assorted crackers. 

Linked to
Sundae Scoop
Life As Mom
Ingredient Spotlight

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Meal Plan Monday - October 24

We had a couple of deviations from our menu last week.  One night it was just Bubba and I after LAX practice, so we opted for a treat - Chick fil-A sandwiches and milk shakes YUM!  We aslo go a surprise when Thursday DH came home from work early and cooked hamburgers and homemade mac and cheese for us.  I'll drop the meal plan anytime when someone else wants to cook for me! 

We have a really busy week this week, with our annual Cheer Bowl competition, a Lacrosee tournament and I have Governor's Honors County Interviews.  We also have a Girl Scout event Sunday afternoon, so my Sunday afternoon cooking time will be limited.  I will be depending on my freezer stash to keep us eating at home this week.   I'll be cooking Banana-Apple Craisin Muffins,  Spinach Ravioli Lasagna and Mom's Chicken Salad.

Sunday - Chili, Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, Spiced Apples and Pears, Brownies and Pumpkin Snickerdoodles
Monday - Spinach Ravioli Lasagna
Tuesday -  Crockpot Baked Potatoes with Ham and Cheese, Spiced Apples and Pears
Wednesday - Beer Chili Buns, Veggies/Chips and Dip
Thursday - with Daddy or Nanny
Friday - Leftovers before Cheer Competition
Saturday - Football Playoff and Lacrosse Tourney - probably at the ball park

For more great meal plans and menu ideas, visit I'm An Organized Junkie.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Meal Plan Monday - October 17

Our favorite recipe by far last week was Pizza Pasta Casserole.  It got a huge thumbs up from all of us.  We also LOVED Recipe Girl's Wedding Cake Cupcakes and Buttercream Frosting.  YUM, YUM, YUM.  Can't wait to make them for our Halloween Party.

I am continuing to refine the Week in a Day concept.  I want to find a way to streamline the process.  It takes up a HUGE portion of my Sunday free time and since that is the only day my DH is home, I don't want to spend it all in the kitchen.  So, I'm going to focus this week on time management and see if I can't make it more faster.  I'll keep you posted.

This week I'm going to make the following on Sunday - Chicken Pot Pie filling, sauce for Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs, grill Beer Bottle or BBQ chicken and make a batch of chocolate chip cookies.  I also plan to assemble a couple of salad plates for lunch. If I have time, I also plan on making Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Cookies with a twist... using cream cheese filling to make them into sandwich cookies. 

Sunday - Tilapia Parmesan, Couscous, Roasted Asparagus, Poached Pears
Monday - Chicken Pot Pie
Tuesday - Grilled Chicken Wraps (carried over from last week), Chips and Veggies with Dip
Wednesday - Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs with Tomato Pesto Sauce, Mashed Potaotes, Layered Salad
Thursday - Leftovers
Friday - Party Here - Shrimp Butter on Crostini, Meatball Sliders with Pesto
Saturday - Grill Hamburgers, Mac and Cheese, Veggies and Dip

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

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Pizza Pasta Casserole

This is a new family favorite, as it got thumbs up from all 4 of us.   Oringally a Southern Living recipe, I changed it around a bit and it will be added to our menu rotation.
I couldn't get a picture before they devoured almost the entire dish.

Pizza Pasta Casserole
12 oz. spaghetti
1 pound mild pork sausage
2 oz. pepperoni
1 jar (26 oz) tomato basil pasta sauce ( I like Classico brand)
1 c pizza sauce (I had this in my freezer)
1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese
2 c shredded 6 cheese Italian cheese blend

Boil pasta according to package directions.  Keep warm.
Brown sausage in a large skillet until no longer pink.  Drain and set aside.  Wipe pan clean.  Add pepperoni and cook until slightly crisp (about 5 minutes).  Drain on paper towel.

Toss spaghetti, sausage, pepperoni, tomato basil sauce and pizza sauce until combined.  Pour into 13 x 9 baking dish.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and top with Italian cheese blend.   Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees.  Remove foil and bake for 10 more minutes. 

Serve with salad and garlic bread for a quick, family pleasing dinner.

This is a great make ahead dinner.  I actually assembled the casserole Sunday afternoon and baked Monday night.   I also think it would freeze very well. 

Linked to Tasty Tuesday