Saturday, March 31, 2012

Spring Break!!!!

It is finally Spring Break!  We are staying in town for our break and taking advantage of the time off to do some things at home.  Here's our list --
  • Make a ribbon memo board for Boo Boo's room
  • Make grape jelly, maybe strawberry too
  • Upload and organize 2012 pictures
  • Make UK Blue Velvet Cupcakes
  • Weed control, fertilizer and soil amendment on vegetable garden
  • Movie Day
  • Make Homemade Pizza
  • Bubba -- plan and cook an entire meal
  • Boo Boo -- bake muffins and make pudding ice cream sandwiches
  • Inventory Freezers
  • Tryout new smoothie flavors
  • Make a couple of craft projects (bunny garland and decorated clipboards)
  • Clean out home office
  • 2 doctors appointments
  • Begin working on  summer "To Do List"
  • Host Easter Dinner
  • Get taxes done
  • Host National Championship Party and watch the CATS win
  • Plenty of rest and relaxation!
It's a big list and hopefully its a good balance of work and play.  Here's to a GREAT week!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Layered Salad

This is one of those quick meal ideas that makes it possible for us to eat at home, even during the busiest of weeks.  I love that I can make this layered salad on Sunday and serve it on Monday or Tuesday and it is still just as fresh as the day I made it.  I just use whatever is in my refrigerator and pantry to pull it together.

Layered Salad

Layer your salad ingredients in the following order in a glass bowl (glass seems to keep the salad fresher than plastic)

Layer one - Salad greens (spinach, iceberg, romaine, mixed greens, field greens, etc)
Layer two - Chopped fresh vegetables (diced cucumbers - seeds removed, thawed frozen peas,  chopped or matchstick carrots, bell peppers) or canned vegetables (banana peppers, black beans, kidney beans, corn)
Layer three - grated or cubed cheese, cooked bacon pieces, raisins, craisins

Cover bowl and store in refrigerator 2 - 3 days.  Top with crunchies - nuts, sunflower seeds, croutons, etc at serving time.

Serve with salad dressing of your choice.  

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Sugar Cookie Bars

We LOVE these delicious, soft, wonderful cookie bars.  My students do to, in fact they request these almost as often as cupcakes.  They are a quick and easy alternative to both sugar cookies and cupcakes and we make them often.  There are several versions of these floating around the internet.  I've tried several and we liked the texture and taste of this one from A Little Bit of Crunchy the best.

Sugar Cookie Bars

1 c butter, room temp (I bake with unsalted)
2 c sugar
4 eggs
1 t vanilla
1 t almond extract
5 c flour
1 t salt
1/2 t baking soda

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy.
Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after adding each egg.
Mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl.
Add flavorings to the butter and sugar, mix.
Slowly add in dry ingredients.  Don't over beat at this point or they lose their soft texture.
Press into a jelly roll pan  (I use a 12 x 18 pan).
Bake at 375 for 10 - 15 minutes. 
Cool and frost.

Frosting -

1/2 c butter, room temperature
1/2 c shortening
1 t vanilla (or almond extract)
pinch of salt
4 c powdered sugar
5 T milk
food coloring and sprinkles of your choice

Beat butter and shortening until creamy.
Add vanilla (almond) and powdered sugar.  Mix well.
Gradually add milk until frosting reaches your desired consistency.
Add food coloring if desired and top with sprinkles. 
Chill before cutting.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tuesday Garden Party 2012 #1

The Tuesday Garden Party has returned at An Oregon Cottage.  And as luck would have it I started working on my garden this weekend.  I spent a great deal of time dealing with these
Weeds, weeds, and more weeds.  Our mild winter here in Georgia has created a bumper crop of weeds in all my flower beds and especially my raised vegetable beds.  I have tried Jamie's no till method of covering my beds with plastic to kill the weeds, but here in GA that only creates a haven for sugar ant and their infernal anthills and after loosing my entire strawberry crop to those sugar ants last year, pulling weeds it is for me.  And as much as I don't really want to I'm going to have to treat the weeds and put down a pre-emergent to keep the weeds from taking over anything I plant this year.  I'm in for at least 3 weeks of work before I even get a plant in the ground.  Those homegrown tomatoes, cucumbers and jalapenos will be worth it later on!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Productive "Inclement Weather Day"

No school for us today as it is an Inclement Weather Make Up Day we did not use.  It's really nice to have a day home without any pressing plans.  I'm hoping to get the following accomplished today--

1.  Make Yellow Cake Cupcakes with Homemade Chocolate Frosting
2.  Make Salsa and Caramel Corn
3.  6 loads of laundry- start to finish
     6  5  4  3  2  1
4.  Grocery Store
5.  Put out Easter Decorations
6.  Make Menu Plan for the week
7.  Start weeding raised garden beds

I'll see how much I get done... might add afew other projects.

Meal Plan Monday - March 19

 Another week -- 7 more days of trying to figure out what to cook....
Yeah, this really how I feel about cooking and menu planning lately, but I know from past experience that NOT making a menu plan is even worse, so here's what we're eating this week.

Sunday - Chicken Parmesan, French Bread
Monday - Italian Sausage and Potato Roast, Salad, Yellow Cake Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting
Tuesday - Bacon - Spinach Quiche, Fruit
Wednesday - Sloppy Joes, Chips and Veggies with Ranch
Thursday - Crockpot Teriyaki Chicken, Cilantro Lime Rice, Asparagus , Pineapple Slices
Friday - Leftovers
Saturday - something quick after 2 lacrosse games
Sunday - Grilled Hamburgers, Baked Beans, Baked Potato Casserole

For more meal plan ideas, visit I'm An Organized Junkie.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Kitchen Goals Update #1

It's time for a Kitchen Goals 2012 Update.  Each year I set some goals to accomplish in the kitchen and update my progress from time to time.  I try to work on one goal/month, with 2 -3 being year long goals.  You can see my complete 2012 list here.

Kitchen Goal Progress - 

Goal #1 - Pantry Challenge (3rd year)- SUCCESS
Each January for the past 3 years I have joined Jessica at Good Cheap Eats in a pantry challenge for the entire month.  I was very successful with the goals I set for my pantry challenge this year.  Check out my wrap up post - Pantry Challenge Wrap Up

Goal #2 - Clean Out Utensil Drawer - SUCCESS
Not only did I clean out and purge my ever challenging utensil drawer, but I also cleaned out the refrigerator (took out all the shelves, washed and disinfected them).  What a difference to cook in a clean and organized work space!

Goal #4 - More Vegetables in our Menu Plan - In Progress
I still have a LONG way to go on this one, but I have been slowly trying work new veggies into our menus.  So far I have made Acorn Squash and Brasied Cabbage.  The fam wasn't a big fan of the acorn squash, but Bubba and I both really liked the cabbage.  I think I might try to grow a couple in our garden this summer.

Goal #12 - Let My Kids Cook More - In Progress
We have really been working on this one and suprisingly, both kids are on board.  I knew Boo Boo would be game as she loves to help in the kitchen, but Bubba has really been a HUGE help as well.  They now make their own sandwiches, Easy Mac, heat their own leftovers, Bubba gets his breakfast ready before school.  Boo Boo made Banana Chocolate Chip muffins start to finish this weekend.  Now if I can just get them to clean up their mess.....

Monday, March 12, 2012

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

Trying to use up some of the odds and ends in my refrigerator and pantry, I came up with this pasta salad.  I just tossed together enough of each item based on how much pasta I had.  It was perfect for lunches during the week and made a great addition to our grilled out burgers for dinner one night.

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

corkscrew pasta
roasted red peppers
kalamata olives
pimento stuffed olives
sundried tomatoes in oil
Parmesan cheese
Creamy Italian Dressing

Chop all vegetables and toss with cooked pasta.  Mix in dressing and top with Parmesan cheese.  Chill and serve.

Linking up to -

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Meal Plan Monday -- March 12th

I lost my meal planning mojo the past few.  I just couldn't get motivated or excited about deciding what we were going to eat.  In my head, I know that is a recipe for disaster, so I finally turned to my pinterest boards.  When you cooking desire and inspiration has fled, what better way to jumpstart it than to try a few new recipes.  I pulled together a pretty good menu, at least I think so, and no one better complain or they will be cooking next week!

Sunday - Eat out after Lacrosse Game
Monday - Drunken Pork Chops, Mashed Red Potatoes, Braised Cabbage with Bacon, Lima Beans
Tuesday - Two Timing Pasta Bake, Salad
Wednesday - Crockpot Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches, Fruit Salad
Thursday - Beef  Nachos with Cheese Sauce
Friday - Leftovers
Saturday - 2 lacrosse games, so we will see.....

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