Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Bacon Jalapeno Popper Mac-n-Cheese

I feel like I have finally perfected my homemade macaroni and cheese recipe.  And now that it is perfected I just keep making different variations of it.
What is great about this recipe is you can eat it straight out of the pot on the stove {my favorite} or it can make a great traveling dish by pouring it into a baking dish and giving it a bit more "crunchy" texture and throwing it in the oven for a few minutes.  I've done it both ways and both ways are delicious.
Please don't be intimidated by making your own macaroni and cheese.  It's easy!  And it takes maybe just a few more minutes than it's neon orange counterparts.
My family does love this boxed version if we are in a pinch.
Last night the kids and I went over to a friend's house and we brought this dish to go along with our dinner.  The kids played outside {and seemingly got bit by a thousand mosquitos} and us moms stayed inside {had a beer, or two} and chatted about life.
Now, even though there are 4 jalapenos in this dish, all of the kids still ate it.  That goes to show it isn't that hot, just a slight smoky, mild heat taste.
The husband who got home for work really late ate the leftovers and then this morning said, "that macaroni was really good....what was in it?"  He knew it was different but couldn't pinpoint it.

Okay, so make this dish pronto.

Then take this base recipe and make your own versions!  I love putting sautéed mushrooms, bacon and swiss cheese.  I'm also thinking some spicy sausage and bleu cheese crumbles would be good.  Call me daring!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Overnight Freezer Waffles

I grew up eating two Eggo waffles pretty much everyday before school.  If it weren't waffles then it was cereal or toaster streudels {remember those?}.  My two siblings are older than me and were already out of the house and in college by the time I was in upper elementary school, so most mornings it was just me!
I think that gave me my love for waffles.  Crispy and crunchy on the outside, yet soft and chewy on the inside.  I rarely went outside the box topping them with anything other than butter and maple syrup.  Today I often do peanut butter, or my homemade jam or even some Greek yogurt.
So really...what kid doesn't like waffles?
This year we have two kids in school, our oldest everyday and our middle one just two days a week.  That means Monday through Friday we need to be leaving the house at 8 a.m.
Some days are easier than others.
Some days it is a complete scramble.  Kids fighting, we can't find school papers to turn in, someone doesn't want to brush their teeth, the baby needs to eat, etc.  You name it, it probably happens in between those crazy morning hours of 7 a.m. to 8 a.m.
With that being said, I tripled my waffle batter yesterday.  I was on a mission to make a TON {21 huge waffles or 84 triangles}.  I wanted to freeze these for our hectic mornings.  Typically my kids will only eat one triangle or two, so these will end up lasting us a long time.
And can I just say this is the best waffle recipe....EVER?  I found it and tweaked it long ago and I've been using it ever since.  I do believe the key is the yeast in the batter.  You also make it the night before and let it sit and ferment overnight in the fridge.
I'm thinking it would be a pretty good doughnut batter too?
I kept a few in the fridge for the coming days ahead, but taking the time to cook up this big batch has also given me four bags like the one shown above in my freezer.
When ready to eat you just pop out a slice, put it in the toaster and eat!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Corn Bread Casserole

So I haven't been doing a good job of saving all that sweet corn I froze this summer for dinner's later this winter.  It is just so good!  I swear we've been eating a package with a dinner at least once a week.
I need to put an end to this.
But until then I will show you this casserole.
I threw it together super last minute one night when we were having ham steaks on the grill.  I figured what goes better with salty ham than some sweet cornbread?  Considering the husband and my two older kids gobbled it up and asked for seconds, I'm claiming it a keeper.
And speaking of cornbread...growing up we always had Jiffy cornbread muffins and my mom served it with butter and maple syrup.  This is still my favorite way to eat cornbread, but I've learned over the years that most people didn't do that.
Most seem to eat it with a simple pad of butter, a drizzle of honey or maybe some jam.  Maybe it is just a Midwest thing to eat it with butter and maple syrup? 
Seriously people.  It's like a cornbread pancake.  You need to try it.

This stuff is great reheated by the way, we had it for lunch the next day and it tasted like it had just come out of the oven.

And on another random thought, I am loving my MOPS group.  In fact I've had many of you ask about it since I mentioned I was starting this month.  Two days out of each month, I get to be kidless for a couple of hours and join in fellowship with other moms, eat some yummy food and just relax.  MOPS chapters are located nationally so if you are interested I would strongly encourage you to find a group in your area.

But now - the recipe!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Triple Layered Pumpkin Dessert

So many years ago when the husband and I were still dating we lived in a small one bedroom apartment with two dogs in a small town for about 9 months of our life.  It was that typical transition period after college.  We were in between jobs and trying to figure out our life and were we'd like to be settled.
In that little one bedroom apartment I remember making this dessert for the first time.  We would top it with vanilla ice cream AND caramel topping and proceed to eat the entire pan throughout the week.  Not a good habit!
I don't think I even made it for a special occasion, heck who even knows if it was in the Fall, I just made it.  And we ate the crap out of it.
Skip ahead 10 years and I finally made this again.  Why did I wait so long?  I really have no idea.  I was flipping through my big recipe binder {where I write down my most favorite recipes} and it jumped out at me.
We were headed to a friend's house and I wanted to bring a dessert, so naturally this one became the front runner.
It looks complicated, doesn't it?  Those beautiful three layers, it must have taken me all day, right? 
The key ingredients you need to have on hand are a yellow cake mix, a can of pumpkin and a can of evaporated milk.  Everything else are simple pantry ingredients you most certainly already have on hand.
Break out the pumpkin folks, it's time!
I personally want to go buy out the grocery store with every can on the shelf.  I just really do love it that much.
So, tell me are you a pumpkin lover or hater?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Slow Cooker Vegetable Beef & Noodle Soup

I've said it before but I don't make soup in the summer, nor do I rarely eat it.  Other than the exception of when I'm eating at Panera Bread.  I always get soup there, whether it is June or January.  {Hello, broccoli cheddar!}.
Well, this weekend I made my first pot of soup since probably March or April.  The temps all weekend were in the 60's, so that first "chill" of Fall was sinking in my bones.  I'm not quite ready for summer to leave us, but at the same time I love Fall weather.  It is bittersweet.
Not to mention one day it was raining, like all day, which makes it seem like it is about 10 degrees cooler than it really is.....so we had soup!
Our little man who is probably the pickiest eater in our house claimed to me "I love this soup!".  Ah....what a sigh of relief.
It's chalk full of veggies so as a mom it brings a smile to my face when he asks for a second helping.  His sister gobbles up most anything, so it didn't surprise me when she asked for a second bowl as well.
And this is what I like to call a "dump" soup, as after you cook the meat, you literally dump it all into the crock pot, turn it on and walk away.  It can also be assembled the day prior, stuck in the fridge and then cooked the following day.  Whatever works for you!
In unrelated news....
Have you noticed the changes at the top of my page?  Right below my header I now have a nice, new and neat toolbar featuring ALL of my recipes in their designated category.
It took me the whole summer to get this blog organized behind the scenes, so please do me a favor and check it out.  I find it much easier to search for a recipe, so I hope you do too!
{Hint: this recipe will be found under "slow cooker meals"}
Until then, make this soup!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Simple Oven Roasted Chicken

The past few days have brought us Fall temps, now whether they will stick around or not, I'm not sure, but it sure has me craving comforting foods.
I made my first batch of soup yesterday {I just can't make soup in the summer}, I'm currently wearing a sweatshirt AND socks and we've been watching football non-stop since yesterday morning.  All three of those combined tells me that Fall is just around the corner.
We also celebrated our big guy's 5th birthday {eek!} yesterday and will have his family gathering tomorrow night.  I just can't believe his is five years old already.  I know every parent says that, but it is true.  It seems like yesterday when he came tumbling into this world at 9 lbs. 1 oz.
And not to be left out today our littlest is 4 months old.  FOUR MONTHS!  That means since May 14th I've had little sleep, yet somehow I'm still trucking along.  She is just starting to get to that fun stage of giggling, cooing and smiling at everything that walks by.
Back to this chicken.
Like I was saying, Fall has me craving comforting foods.  Soups, stews, casseroles, foods that taste like they have been simmering away all day even when they haven't.
This dish is one of those.  It tastes like its been slowing roasting in the oven all afternoon when really it takes just under an hour.  It is super flavorful and can turn any old boring chicken breast into something extraordinary.
I served it with some parmesan rice, but any starch would be good.  Mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables, even a simple buttered pasta.
And here is our birthday boy.  Such a happy fella.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Banana Zucchini Cake with Browned Butter Frosting

You know I'm still trying to get the hang of this school thing.  Pick-ups, drop-offs, trying to fit in a walk, household chores and baby feedings and naps in between those pick-ups and drop-offs.  It feels like a rat race most days.  Every minute needs to be calculated and accounted for.
There are two days a week where it is the just the baby, husband and I for a few hours in the morning.  On one of these days recently I made this cake.  I didn't really have a reason to make a cake {do we need a reason?}, but I did have shredded zucchini on hand and a very badly ripe brown banana that needed to be used up.
Plus, I wanted to treat the kids.  They had a great first few days of school and cake excites them.  Another plus, the husband was home for a couple days on his days off, yet more reason to celebrate.
So.....cake it was.
My almost five year old {eek!} helped me make this frosting and he claimed it pretty darn special too.  In fact we all loved it.  It's a nice take on the traditional cream cheese frosting that you usually see with this kind of cake.
It has an almost caramel like taste, yet is still thick and luscious like it's cream cheese counterpart.
And can I say I so badly wanted to double this recipe, but only had enough eggs on hand to make this 8x8 baking dish version.
Very painful.
This recipe will make 9 heavenly, large slices for you to share with your family or friends.  Or to keep all to yourself.  I will not judge.