Monday, January 16, 2012

Meal Plan Monday ~ Week of Jan. 16

Since today is MLK day we get an extra day off!  I'm in the process of going through my cookbooks and creating a spreadsheet of all the recipes I like so I think I'll be working on that on my extra day off.  

Last week ended up having lots of late days and not as much cooking as I planned.  Here is what we are having this week.

Sunday- Slow Cooker Rotisserie Chicken (new recipe)

Monday- Hamburgers, herbed steak fries (can't seem to get enough of these lately), corn on the cob

Tuesday- Burritos, rice

Wednesday- Au Gratin Ham Pot Pie (new recipe)

Thursday- I have to work late for conferences so Daddy and the kids are on their own.

Have a great week everyone!

Linking up to Org. Junkie

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Fantasy Fudge

This is my favorite fudge recipe.  It is so smooth and chocolatey and oh so delicious!  This is a must have for your holiday cookie tray.  Or just anytime you want a delicious chocolate treat.  It freezes wonderfully so you can make it ahead and keep it in the freezer.  Just be sure to wrap it well.  I freeze mine wrapped in plastic wrap and then put those in a ziplock bag.

Fantasy Fudge

3 cups of sugar
3/4 cups butter
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1 (12 oz.) package semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 (7 oz.) jar marshmallow cream
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (if desired)

Combine sugar, butter and milk in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.  Remove from the heat and add chocolate chips, mixing until melted.  Add marshmallow cream and mix until blended.  Add vanilla and stir in nuts.  Pour into a greased 9 x 13 in. pan.  Refrigerate until firm then cut into squares.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Meal Plan Monday ~ Week of Jan. 9, 2012

I'm actually writing this on Sunday because tomorrow it's back to school for this teacher!  As always the time went by way too fast.  But I feel like it was a great break full of all the things I love!  Plus I do believe I fulfilled everything on my winter break bucket list!  So now starts the countdown until Spring break and then SUMMER!

For some reason I had a hard time meal planning for this week.  I just felt so uninspired and nothing sounded good to me.  I know, weird right?  Well here is what I came up with.  Usually I start my week on Sunday but this week I began my meal plan on Saturday.

Saturday - Sesame Chicken  (recipe coming soon)

Sunday - Meatball subs and herbed steak fries

Monday - Hamburgers, fries, beans and corn on the cob

Tuesday - Stromoboli (new recipe), potato salad

Wednesday - Herb and garlic chicken, veggies and rice

Thursday - Leftovers

Friday - Mom's night off

Shared at Menu Plan Monday

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Caramel Corn

This is the first time I have made caramel corn.  I love caramel corn but I guess I always thought it was difficult to make.  Since it was on my winter break bucket list I decided I needed to give it a try.

I actually made two different recipes for caramel corn in one day.  The first one was delicious but it wasn't quite what I was looking for.  I was looking for crunchy and it was chewy and more gooey than what I wanted.  It would be a great recipe for popcorn balls but just wasn't what I had in mind.
  So I searched for recipes and found this one on  One thing I love about that site is that you can read reviews of the recipes so you can kind of get an idea of what to expect before you make it.  This recipe is definitely a winner!  As I eat it I can hardly believe I made it!

Here is what you'll need.

Popcorn, butter, baking soda, salt, corn syrup (I used light), brown sugar and vanilla. 

 After you pop your corn you need to put it in a big roasting pan.  I used this one and it was perfect!  It's so big which made stirring it all up so much easier.

You'll put the popcorn in the oven while you make the caramel sauce.

Here's the caramel bubbling away.  By the way, as tempting as it may be do not stick your finger in the caramel to taste it.  It is hot and you will regret it. 

Once the sauce is ready you pour it over the popcorn and stir until it is evenly coated.  I used a spatula/spoon thingy from Pampered Chef that is great for this because the caramel didn't stick to it.

Next you'll put the pan in the oven for 45 minutes.  Take it out and give it a stir every 10 minutes.  Don't skip this step or it will burn and you will be very sad.

When it is done you need to spread it out on some foil sprayed with cooking spray to cool.  Luckily it doesn't take long because you won't be able to wait.

Once it's cooled just put it into an airtight container.

Warning:  This stuff is VERY addicting so be careful!

Classic Caramel Corn


Cooking Spray
4 quarts popped popcorn
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup Karo® Light OR Dark Corn Syrup
1/2 cup butter OR margarine
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Pure Vanilla Extract


Spray large shallow roasting pan with cooking spray. Add popcorn and place in preheated 250 degree oven while preparing caramel. 

Mix brown sugar, corn syrup, butter and salt in a heavy 2-quart saucepan. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil over medium heat.  Boil 5 minutes without stirring. Remove from heat. Stir in baking soda and vanilla; mix well.  Pour syrup over warm popcorn, stirring to coat evenly. 

Bake for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from oven and spread on foil that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Cool; break apart. Store in tightly covered container.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Classic Macaroni and Cheese

I have many hobbies. I love to cook. I love to knit. I love to crochet. I love to read. And I believe I am pretty good at all of those things.

At this point in my life, photography is not a hobby of mine. Which explains why the pictures on this blog are not the greatest. I'm not a food stylist, nor do I try or aspire to be. And to be honest, when dinner is ready and my family is hungry I'm lucky to be able to get any pictures of the food at all!

I read a LOT of food blogs and admire the beautiful photos but in reality that is not my forte. And I need to be ok with that.

My goal with this blog is to share recipes that I like with my friends and family (and anyone else who chooses to read).

This blog also sort of serves as my own personal cookbook. I frequently go to it and cook straight from it. I love to try new recipes and this blog helps me to keep track of all my favorites.

Ok, rant over. On to recipe.

I love homemade mac and cheese. I think my current favorite is Pioneer Woman's,
which I thought I had posted here but I guess not.

Her mac and cheese (like many others) gets baked in the oven. And while super delicious indeed, I was looking for something different. Something a little quicker and maybe a little saucier since baked mac and cheese can get a little dried out.

I found this recipe online and it's definitely a keeper. Since it's made on the stove top, it's really fast and easy and it comes out with a nice cheesy sauce.

This recipe makes a lot. Probably about 8 servings if you are using this as a side dish. Maybe less for a main dish. I made it as a side dish and next time I think I will halve the recipe.

Classic Macaroni and Cheese
via Sing For Your Supper

1 pound elbow macaroni pasta
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
salt and pepper
1 12-ounce can evaporated milk (feel free to use reduced fat milk)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
8 ounces Velveeta cheese, cubed

Boil the pasta until al dente then drain and set aside.

While pasta is boiling, make the sauce. Melt the butter in a large pan over medium heat. Stir in the flour, ground mustard, salt and pepper and whisk for 1 minute. Slowly pour in the milk and whisk constantly until it thickens. Add the cheeses and stir until melted.

Pour the sauce over the macaroni and stir to coat. Serve immediately.

Linking this post to: Foodie Friday at The Country Cook

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Sausage with Peppers and Potatoes

This recipe was a hit!  It was quick and easy to make and it tasted delicious!  You can vary the seasonings to suit your taste but I have listed the ones I used.  Also, I didn't measure them I just sprinkled it on.  I served it with homemade bread and butter.

Sausage with Peppers and Potatoes

1 lb. Italian Sausage - I used mild but you can also use hot
4 red potatoes, cubed
1 red or yellow pepper
1 small onion
2 tbs. olive oil
Kosher salt, pepper, oregano, garlic powder, rosemary

Slice the pepper and onion and put on a rimmed baking sheet with the potatoes.  Drizzle the olive oil over all the vegetables and sprinkle with seasonings.  Cut the sausage into bite size pieces and scatter on top of the vegetables.  Roast at 450F for about 20-30 minutes until potatoes are tender and sausage is cooked through.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

I have been wanting to try making potato soup for a long time. I found and pinned this recipe a while back from Mommy's Kitchen. This was a great recipe! We had it with homemade bread and it was perfect winter comfort food!

This recipe probably makes enough for 4-6 servings. My hubby and I were the only ones who ate it and we had a lot left over so next time I will probably halve the recipe.

This is a pretty easy recipe but I made it even easier by using a couple of my favorite supermarket shortcuts.

I used these Steam n' Mash potatoes, which are basically peeled and cubed frozen potatoes that you just pop in the microwave. I love them. I also used pre-cooked bacon. These were both huge time savers!

Loaded Baked Potato Soup
via Mommy's Kitchen

4 - baking potatoes - I used Steam n' Mash instead
2/3 cup butter
2/3 cup all purpose flour
4 - cups milk
2 - cups chicken broth
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
12 - slices bacon, cooked & crumbled - I used Oscar Meyer Fully Cooked Bacon
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 - cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1 - 8oz container sour cream

Bake potatoes in the oven or microwave. Scoop out the inside of the potato and set aside. Cook bacon in the oven while the potatoes bake at 350 degrees until crispy. Crumble and set aside. Melt butter in a large pot over medium low heat. Stir in flour to make a roux. Cook about one minute stirring constantly.

Gradually pour in the chicken broth and milk while stirring. Turn the heat to medium and cook the soup until it starts to thicken.

Add the potatoes, salt, pepper, bacon and cheese. Stir well and continue to heat for about 15 minutes allowing the flavors to blend. Mix in sour cream until well blended. Serve immediately. Garnish with green onions, additional bacon and shredded cheese.

Meal Plan Monday ~ Jan. 1-6

Happy New Year everyone!  Wow, it's really hard to believe that it is 2012 already!  I swear, it seems like only yesterday that everyone was panicking about Y2K! 

2011 was not the best year for me.  Of course it could have been much worse, but it did bring some stressful times with a layoff and job change for my husband.  It brought some sad changes with my sister and her family moving across the country.  My little muffin also started kindergarten this year which means my babay is growing up!  But above all my family has remained healthy and happy and THAT is what's most important.  So here's hoping for a wonderful 2012 for all!

This is my second glorious week of winter break.  As slowly as I wish it would go, I know it will speed by.  The week will include a few doctor's appointments for the stinks and gulp, a birthday for me.  Anyway, here is what we are eating this week.

Sunday- Ultimate Chicken Fingers, macaroni and cheese (recipe coming soon), carrots and snap peas

Monday- Loaded Baked Potato Soup (new recipe), homemade bread

Tuesday- Sausage with roasted potatoes and peppers (recipe coming soon), rolls

Wednesday- Dinner out for my birthday

Thursday- Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, veggies

For more meal plan ideas check out orgjunkie.com