Sunday, September 4, 2016

When the 11 year old makes dinner....

....we have pancakes!  He made them about 90% by himself.  Happy son, happy Mama.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Mixed Berry Salad

Summer is here, and that means more salad for dinner!

Here is a new one to me that is super easy and super delicious.


5 ozs baby spinach leaves
1 cup strawberries, sliced
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced 
1 sweet apple, cored, halved, and thinly sliced
1 cup candied walnuts, chopped

Mix ingredients together and toss lightly with a strawberry dressing.  Garnish with feta cheese, and voila!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Vinegar Braised Chicken and Mushrooms

I am always searching for new ways to prepare chicken, so when I saw this recipe I decided to give it a try.  It looked really good and not too complicated to make.  It turned out to be more labor intensive than it sounded, mostly because the chicken and vegetables are cooked separately before combining, and I cooked two pan fulls of chicken one after the other so that took double the cook time.  If I had used two pans at once it would have solved that particular problem.


4 pounds chicken pieces - the original recipe called for bone in pieces, but I used boneless.
2 pounds mushrooms (I did not use this many)
2 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 pkg baby carrots ~ I sliced the fatter ones down the middle for faster cooking
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
3 T olive oil
2 T flour
salt and pepper to taste


Heat olive oil in a large pan.  Generously season chicken pieces with salt and pepper and start them browning.  While chicken cooks, chop the veggies.

Be sure to season the other side of chicken pieces with salt and pepper after flipping over.

When cooked through, remove the chicken from the pan and place on a separate plate. Add the carrots and onions to the pan and saute them until soft, about 10 minutes.

Add mushrooms and cook until tender, about 6-8 minutes.  Add crushed garlic and cook a couple more minutes.

Transfer vegetables to the plate with the chicken and add the flour to the empty pan.  There should be a bit of liquid in the bottom of the pan that mixes with the flour.  Cook for 1-2 minutes, whisking continuously, until pasty and smooth.  Add the three vinegars and whisk until smooth.  Cook for about 3-5 minutes, or until thickened and reduced.  Then slowly add the chicken broth.  Add the chicken back into the pot and bring to a boil.  At this point it is just a matter of making sure the chicken is cooked through.  If your pieces were thoroughly cooked previously, this step will be short.  If your pieces were simply browned earlier and need to continue to cook for a bit, cover the pot, turn heat down, and let cook until chicken is done.  When chicken is done, add the vegetables back in, let simmer and heat through for a few minutes and then serve.

I got a mixed reaction from my family over this recipe.  My husband and two of the children really liked it.  The boys were not fans of the mushrooms, though.  I thought the vinegar taste was a little too strong.  As I mentioned earlier, it was a bit more labor intensive than I was anticipating, so if I make it again I will have two pans going for the first step of cooking the chicken, and will probably reduce the vinegar and increase the chicken broth.  Otherwise, pretty good!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Lasagna Soup

This was AMAZING!  Just soooo delicious, and loved by each member of my family, even the one who doesn't like tomatoes.  I saw it floating around facebook and decided to give it a try.  It was a hit!


1.5 pounds Italian sausage
one large onion, chopped
2T tomato paste
2 bay leaves
3 cloves garlic
2-3 cans diced tomatoes
6 cups chicken broth
1 pound rotini noodles

8 oz ricotta cheese
1 cup parmesan cheese
small amount of mozzarella cheese (just to sprinkle on top of each serving)
fresh basil

How to Make:

Brown the sausage in the bottom of a stock pot.
Add the chopped onion, tomato paste, bay leaves, and garlic.  Let cook for a few minutes til onion is slightly softened.

Add the diced tomatoes and chicken broth.  Let simmer for 30 minutes.
Pour in the rotini noodles and bring to boil.  Let boil for 8-10 minutes til noodles are cooked.

Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, combine the ricotta and parmesan cheeses with a bit of pepper.

To serve:  spoon soup into a bowl.  Top with a spoonful of the ricotta/parmesan cheese mixture, then sprinkle some mozzarella cheese over all, and place bits of fresh basil on the very top.  Voila!

This was scrumptious.  My family (currently 7) scraped the stock pot clean, so when I make this again I will double the recipe.  Definitely a winner!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Meatball Sandwich Casserole

You will need:

1 bag of frozen meatballs (or make your own from scratch)
1 jar of marinara sauce
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 cup Italian blend cheese, shredded
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
1 loaf of fresh Italian bread, sliced

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 400. Place entire bag of meatballs in pot with sauce (I also add garlic, onion powder, salt and pepper to taste) and cook over medium heat until warmed completely through, about 10 minutes. Stir as needed to keep meatballs from sticking to pot.  When we made these for New Year's Eve I gave this job to my very capable nephew!

Once heated through remove from heat. Place meatballs in the center of a 9x13 baking dish, layer mozzarella and Italian blend cheeses over meatballs topping off with the Parmesan. Take the slices of Italian bread and line the pan all the way around with them so that they are kind of keeping the meatballs toward the center of the pan. The bread slices will be standing up in the pan as shown below. You have creative freedom here with the can lightly butter and garlic the bread prior to placing it in the pan if you prefer or even brush lightly with olive oil and garlic (this is what I do). 

Place in oven and bake for approximately 25 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly. I forgot to take an "after" picture, but here it was in the oven, baking. 

Soooo good!  Assembly is so fast and easy, this is *almost* a meal in 30 minutes entry.

Loved by all.  I will definitely make again!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Crescent Roll Stuffed Sandwich

 This recipe was floating around facebook this past year and I decided to try it for our Super Bowl party last February.  It was delish!  I made two for our family of 8, and had lots of other food also.  We had no leftovers. :)

Start by opening two cans of crescent roll dough and arranging them in a rough circle like so on an UNGREASED cookie sheet or pizza circle:

 If you like peppers, drain some pre-cooked ones (you don't want any extra liquid inside the sandwich, so pat dry with paper towels to be sure and get all the liquid out) and arrange in a circle on top of the dough.

Layer with meat, such as ham and salami.

Then add cheese.  I used provolone.

Add a second layer of meat and then cheese again.

Fold the flaps over the meat and cheese pile toward the center of the ring, and tuck underneath.  Lightly sprinkle surface of dough with pepper.

Bake in a 375 oven for 18-22 minutes or until golden brown.

Here was the rest of our Super Bowl party spread.  As you can see, we were cheering for the Seahawks!!

This was a hit and super easy.  I will definitely make again.

Sugar Fast - Final Update

I completed my 8 week sugar fast some time ago.  I lost a total of 13 pounds JUST from cutting out sugar.  I added no exercise or any other dietary restrictions.  I felt much better mentally and did not have my usual intense afternoon slumps.  During those 8 weeks I intentionally "cheated" 6 times, to demonstrate to myself that I was master of the diet rather than the diet being master of me.

My breakfast was almost always 2 eggs scrambled with mushrooms (and/or any other leftover veggies such as potatoes), cheese, and fresh basil.

Lunch was often something like this:

Since fruit was banned for those 8 weeks (except for blueberries, which are super low in fructose and high in other good things) I ate lots and lots of raw veggies.  So by default I ended up consuming fewer calories, probably heavily contributing to my weight loss.

Since my fast ended I have tried to be "low sugar" but feel the need to do another fast pretty soon.  The main thing the fast did for me was help me to be aware of all the hidden sugar I was consuming, and I see it creeping back into my diet.

The permanent changes have been:

I quit Snapple.

I quit buying sugary cereals for the kids.

Much greater awareness.

So, fast #2 coming soon!