Ally's Sweet & Savory Eats: February 2010

Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Backlog of Meals....

So today is pretty busy....
  • Church
  • In-laws coming to visit
  • Dinner later with family at a restaurant yet TBD
  • Oh, and watch the Olympic ice hockey game - go U.S.A.! (My good friend's husband plays for the U.S. - can't believe he's going to have an actual olympic medal around his neck!)
Since, I've got a busy day and time is limited, I thought I'd give you an inside scoop of what is to come later this week and beyond, via meals and recipes.
  • Flourless Peanut Butter Coconut Cookies
  • Homemade Chicken Stock (and maybe some chicken noodle soup)
  • Chicken Pot Pie (with homemade pie crust!)
  • Yeast Free Pizza Dough
  • Crock Pot Honey Mustard Chicken with Rice
  • Barbecue Chicken with Roasted Garlic Broccoli
Is that enough for you? I've got a backlog of recipes and pictures! And to leave you with a smile, a few pics of little man.

Yep, feel asleep sideways:)

Working on sitting up!

Our golden retriever eyeing Mr. Rubber Ducky, she wants it BAD.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Ultimate Slow Cooker Egg Casserole

So the weekend is here, but it doesn't really feel like a weekend in our house, as my husband is working. So to me, it is just another weekday. And everything is just blah right now....ever get that way? Not sure if it is this ongoing-winter-that-never-ends, or what.

The only thing that can cure these winter blues is good food right? I came upon this recipe a few weeks ago from A Year of Slow Cooking, and knew I had to try it. I make this dish often, but in the oven, not the slow cooker, so I was intrigued as to how it would turn out.

Of course, I changed things up a bit from the original recipe, and cut it in half as we are just a two adult eating household. This dish is the perfect for a weeknight dinner, or for those non-breakfast-eating-dinner types, great for a Sunday morning!

Ultimate Slow Cooker Egg Casserole
2 c. toasted or day old bread
1 c. cheddar cheese
4 eggs
1 c. skim milk
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
2 T. horseradish mustard (or any mustard of your liking)
cubed or sliced ham

Spray inside of 4 quart slow cooker (medium sized). Place bread cubes in bottom. Mix together eggs, milk, mustard and seasonings and pour over bread. Place cubed ham on top. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 5-6 hours. When the eggs start to pull away from the sides and top starts to brown it is done. Take lid off last 15 minutes of cooking to let the steam and moisture evaporate before serving.

We really liked this dish, even though the picture doesn't do it justice. It slid right out of the slow cooker and looked like a little pizza pie! Next time I might add shredded hash browns to the mix, as I love potatoes in my eggs. I just love throwing things in a pot, walking away and having a meal appear hours later!

Now, off to my boring Saturday...hope yours is much more exciting. Any big plans?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Beautiful Blogger Award

Laura, from Hey, What's For Dinner Mom, sent me this Beautiful Blogger Award. How sweet of her! It is my FIRST award, so I'm like a proud mama today.

So, it is now my job to list seven interesting facts about me, and then pass it on to 7 more beautiful bloggers. Here we go...

1. I grew up in a small Iowa town (no, it wasn't on a FARM) with my parents, one sister and one brother. My sister is 12 years older than me and my brother is 10 years older than you smell "accident?"

2. I received my B.A. in Electronic Media and Journalism and to this day have not really used it.

3. I have an undenialable fear of walking outside in the dark and not knowing where my feet are landing. Trust me, if you are walking next to me, I will be holding on to you.

4. I started this blog for something to do since I am currently staying at home with our son, how did I not realize it would turn into so much fun?

5. I have recently turned into quite the penny pincher. Not by choice, but by necessity. Cutting out one income sure takes the fun out of some things! But, I will admit I do enjoy coupon cutting, it is my new obsession.

6. My favorite alcoholic drink is an ice cold beer, on tap or in a bottle. None of that fru-fru fruity, mixed drink stuff.

7. Our son, Drake, is turning into quite the little man. This morning he woke up with a mohawk.

Now, I am passing this on to 7 more beautiful bloggers. These are blogs I visit everyday and truly enjoy!

Sara's Sweets - I just came upon this blog recently, as she commented on mine. I think we'd be great friends in real life! Hello - sweets!

Slim Shoppin' - Jenn has great ideas and I love her meals!

Carrots 'N' Cake - Tina doesn't even know I exist, as she has about 7 million followers, but her blog is pretty much the first one I read every morning. She has a crazy busy life!

How Sweet It Is - Jessica's love for bacon and sweets is hilarious!

Yes, I Want Cake - one of the healthiest eaters I know, despite her love of cake:)

Be Fit, Be Full - Meg's love of exercise can get even me motivated!

Iowa Girl Eats - another fellow Iowa blogger, who is much better at it than I!

So, want to see my latest failure in the kitchen? Yesterday, I set aside some time to make bread in my bread machine. This usually isn't a problem for me.....but, well, just look at how it turned out.

Yeah, when the beeping went off for me to remove the kneading paddle (or at least I thought), I went ahead and did it only to realize later, that I pulled it out on the WRONG beep. The beep I pulled it out for was the "mix-ins" beep. Therefore, I let out all the hot air/steam and what to do you know, I made the flattest loaf of bread ever.

And this was going to be a good one - Spinach Herb! Ugh, I am disgusted with myself.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Stuffed Shells...and thanks to my readers!

It's amazing that you can dream up this idea of a little food blog and pretty soon people from all over the country are following it. Crazy, huh?

Thanks for all the responses yesterday telling me "where you are from". If you didn't respond yesterday, do today, as I'd love to see where your computer sits. Gosh, we had everything from California, Arizona, South Carolina, Virginia, Alaska, and even Canada. And that is only to name a few! You know, it's funny that probably half of my reader base is in the state I live in - Iowa, but no one responded with that state! You stinkers.

Thanks for reading my blog and stay tuned, I only have more delicious recipes to come:)

So...this recipe below is one of our favorites. Not only because it is GOOD, but because it makes two servings. Yep, one for that night and another one I throw in the freezer for next time. I love that feeling, don't you? When you have one of those days, where dinner is the last thing on your mind, but then you suddenly remember....fresh, frozen meal in freezer where the prep is simply setting on the counter to thaw? Love it.

Stuffed Shells
1 box jumbo pasta shells
1 lb. lean ground beef or turkey
1 can diced tomatoes with garlic, basil and oregano
1 pint part skim ricotta cheese
1/4 c. parmesan cheese
1 t. garlic salt
1 t. parsley
1 jar spaghetti sauce, or homemade
1 box thawed, drained spinach (optional)
slices of mozzarella cheese

Boil shells until al dente. Rinse and let cool in strainer. Meanwhile, spray two 8x8 baking dishes with non-stick spray. Pour just enough spaghetti sauce in bottom of pans to cover. Cook hamburger/turkey and drain. Mix meat with ricotta cheese, tomatoes, spinach, parmesan cheese, garlic salt and parsley. Take spoonfuls of meat mixture and stuff shells. Place upright in pan. One box of pasta should fill both pans. Pour remaining spaghetti sauce over shells. Top with sliced mozzarella cheese and bake at 350 degrees for 20 min. Turn oven to broil the last few minutes to get cheese browned and bubbly.

*For freezer dish, do not cover shells with cheese, wait to do that the night you eat it. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, and then foil. Label, date and freeze!

In other news...

Here are a couple of giveaways going on:
  1. Jenn over at Slim Shoppin' is giving away a new sugar substitute, Nevella.
  2. Mara over at What's for Dinner? is giving away SkinMD Natural Shielding Lotion.
  3. Kristen over at Change of Pace is giving away a box of goodies from Newman's Own Organics.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Muffins & More

Wow. A lot of people like mac-n-cheese. Thanks for all your comments yesterday. I only had one person (I won't name names because she knows who she is) that didn't like mac-n-cheese. The horror...

Let me know if you try that mac-n-cheese version, and give me your honest opinion!

So, the muffins that I baked for What Kate Ate a couple of weeks ago are LONG gone, and well that means we needed more! But this time I had a carton of blueberries in the fridge, and well we all know that blueberries go perfect in a muffin.

What is your favorite kind of muffin? Mine, personally is probably banana nut. But, I had no bananas or nuts on hand, so you're getting blueberry.

For the recipe, click here. Remember this muffin can be made various ways. To make them blueberry, I simply omitted the pumpkin, banana and pumpkin pie spice and dropped in a handful of blueberries. Simple!

To change the subject...

On another food blog I read yesterday they were asking "Where are my readers from?" Great idea! I'd love to see where are my readers are essentially "reading from".

Please leave a comment and tell me what city, state, or country your little behind is sitting in right now. I'd love to break my comment record, so start typing!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Ranch Mac

I personally have never met someone who doesn't like some version of macaroni and cheese. I guess if you are out there, let me know.

It's a comfort food. A bad food. An I-can't-stop-eating-this-food. We all know it's calorie ridden, but we love it anyway. And in my opinion you can indulge every once in awhile.

I was flipping through my latest Taste of Home magazine and they had an article on various mac-n-cheese recipes. This one jumped out at me. It was different, but most importantly it looked heavenly. I knew we wouldn't (well, shouldn't) eat this whole dish in one sitting, so I purposely, made it in individual ramekins. Therefore our portions were smaller and I automatically had my side dish for the next day's meal (love that!).

Here is my variation of Taste of Home's recipe. I cut out some of the butter, seasonings, and crackers that they used, and opted for whole wheat pasta for a tad healthier version.

Ranch Mac
1 pkg. whole wheat elbow macaroni
1 1/2 c. skim milk
1/8 c. butter
1/2 envelope ranch salad dressing mix
1 t. garlic salt
1 t. lemon pepper seasoning
1 c. shredded colby cheese
1 c. shredded monterey jack cheese
1 c. sour cream
panko breadcrumbs
sliced tomatoes

Cook macaroni until al dente. Meanwhile, in a large sauce pan, combine butter, milk, dressing mix and seasonings, heat through. Stir in cheeses and when melted, add in sour cream. Drain macaroni and stir into cheese sauce. Pour into ramekins and sprinkle with panko breadcrumbs.

Bake at 375 degrees for 25 min. or just until bubbly and breadcrumbs start to brown.

*To have some leftovers for the next day's meal (and you will!), simply follow all steps but do not bake. Cover the ramekins with plastic wrap and place in fridge. Pull out of fridge 30 min. before baking the next night.
See? All wrapped up and ready to go.

My husband LOVED this dish. But I think that is because he is a ranchalcoholic. He'd eat it on anything. I very much liked it and have tucked it away into our "love" pile.

Do you let yourself indulge in mac-n-cheese every once in awhile?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Panini Press Palooza's Sunday. I love Sundays, do you?

A recap of this weekend's events - some shopping at the local food co-op, lunch with family, time with friends. And today? Nothing. I am going to try my best to do nothing but laundry, watch the Olympics, and of course spend some time in the kitchen probably making Lori's homemade granola.

Oh, before I forget. If you didn't get to read my guest post on What Kate Ate, you can still check it out - yummy muffins people! Also, I'm featured on The Naptime Chef, for my red velvet heart shaped cake I baked last week. Check it out!

Friday's lunch was had at Wig & Pen. My first time there and it was delicious! They are known for their pizza, and it was worth it. More specifically, their Flying Tomato pizza. We had that one filled with pepperoni, sausage, sweet green peppers, mushrooms, onions and tomato, of course! Sorry, no pic (totally forgot), but I guess that means if you're ever in Iowa you'll just have to check it out yourself.

Yesterday, before we left to visit some friends, I pulled out the panini press for some sammies! I had gotten this wonderful parmesan cracked black pepper bread at the co-op. Yum!

And lately, I want mustard on I had to pick up a bottle of Annie's Naturals Horseradish Mustard. I think I could eat this on anything.

So, all together now. Parmesan black pepper bread, smoked chicken breast, tomato, monterrey jack cheese, and horseradish mustard.

It was splendid. Plus a side of buffalo bleu kettle chips. The perfect lunch in my opinion!

Is anyone else in love with their panini press as much as me?

Friday, February 19, 2010

I'm a Guest Blogger Today

Good mornin!

Today Drake and I have a busy day (for once). We are headed to meet my sister, niece and nephew for lunch and do a little shopping. I love staying at home with him, but gosh, it is SO good to get out of the house!

We're doing lunch at Wig & Pen. Sadly, over the years I've heard people talk about how good this place is, and I've never been! So when my sister suggested lunch today I knew exactly where I wanted to go. There are known for their pizza, so obviously you know what I'm going to get. Pizza is only my most favorite item in the world. Not healthy, but hey it's Friday.

As for today's other news, I'm the guest post on What Kate Ate! Be sure to head on over to her website to check out a little about me and my recipe of the day (yogurt pumpkin and banana muffins). I'm not sure when my link will officially go up, so please keep checking back!

Have a great Friday!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Taco Salad, Guest Blogger & Giveaway!

First off, thanks for all your great comments yesterday about eating dinner around your kitchen or dining room table. There are some strong opinions out there! But, for very good reason.

Studies have shown that children who eat dinner on a regular basis (at the table) with their family, do better in school, are less likely to get into trouble, and have a general overall healthier attitude!

In case your wondering, it's 2 nights in a row now for us:)

A few nights ago it was taco salad night at our house. On my last grocery store adventure they had bagged iceberg lettuce on sale for 99 cents! Can't beat that. Although, I prefer buying lettuce in head form or in bundles, I just couldn't pass up this deal.

The first thought that came to mind was taco salad. I hadn't made it in ages, and it's such a simple and easy meal to throw together. The recipe I use (below) says to mix it all together and serve family style....but in our house we each have a different idea of how much "dressing" needs to go on the salad. So, I made it into a taco salad bar. That way we both were happy.

Taco Salad
1 lb. lean ground beef, browned/drained
1 bag iceberg lettuce
1 chopped tomato
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1 c. snob salsa, 1/2 c. also set aside
1/2 c. light Western dressing
sour cream
crushed baked tortilla chips

Cook ground beef and drain. Mix 1/2 c. snob salsa into meat. Place lettuce into large bowl, add ground beef mixture, cheese, tomato and Western dressing. Toss to coat. Upon plating, add additional salsa, sour cream, or crushed tortilla chips.

In other news....

1. Don't forget I'm the guest food blogger on What Kate Ate tomorrow, be sure to check in! If you like pumpkin, bananas, or muffins, you'll definitely enjoy this post - and maybe learn a little more about me!

2. Check out this giveaway! Who doesn't like waffles? If you don't, you're not my friend. Meal Makeover Moms are giving away a Cuisinart Waffle Maker!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Our Kitchen Table is Back

As many of you know, we moved into our current house this past August. I was 8 months pregnant. time for moving, don't you think? Ladies out there, never let your husband move you during your 3rd trimester. It was awful.

Thankfully, we had TONS of help from family and friends, otherwise I think our child would be sleeping in a box instead of a crib.

One of the things that literally got pushed to the side during the move was our kitchen table. Our house is small, cozy if you will. So at the time, my main concern was getting the baby's room done and getting everything put away so I wasn't tripping over things in the middle of the night. Hense, why our kitchen table was shoved up against the wall and never put to use.

Well, now it's February, and I obviously forgot about our table because as of yesterday it was still shoved up against the wall.....and we've been eating on table trays ever since. So, yesterday I pulled this sucker out, cleaned it top to bottom, pulled out the leafs, rearranged a little and what do you know, our kitchen table is back.

Of course when my husband came home from work, he walked by it and didn't even notice.

I am now happy to announce we had our first meal there last night. It feels so good to actually SIT at a table. Now, I know some of our meals will still be had in the family room, on the couch, with tray in tough, but this is a start!

A little background about this is a true hand-me-down. My parents ordered it from the JC Penney's catalog back in the 70's. It has been moved more times that I can count and recovered almost just as much (thanks Mom!). I think there is something to be said for furniture made "back in the day". It has held up well.

I've almost forgot this is a food blog. Sorry.

A couple of weeks ago, I made my first batch of scones. Ever had one? Now, this was from a box mix that I've had in my cupboard for longer than I probably want to admit....but looking at recipes online it seems that these would be easy to make on your own as well. I added some mini chocolate chips (for good measure).

This recipe is adapted from

Mini Chocolate Chip Scones
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar (I'd use agave nectar instead)
5 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter
1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in butter. Mix the egg and milk in a small bowl, and stir into flour mixture until moistened. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead briefly. Roll dough out into a 1/2 inch thick round. Cut into 8 wedges, and place on the prepared baking sheet. Bake 15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden brown.

These were delicious, melt in your mouth good. After mine were done baking, I kept a few out (for our eating pleasure) and then individually wrapped the rest in plastic wrap and stuck them in the freezer. Very easy to enjoy at a later date!

Do you eat at our dining room/kitchen table every night?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Ah...What to do with Leftovers

I was never a huge leftover fan. Unless it was pizza or chili. I think most people's fridges have at least one tupperware container shoved in the back that is unrecognizable.

Since there are just two adults in our house, I often only make enough for two adults to eat. Or three adults, as my husband has been know to eat for TWO. Regardless, I try to not "over make", because often the rest will not get eaten.

But, a few nights ago it was spaghetti night. Nothing fancy, just noodles, meat and sauce. I threw in the whole box of spaghetti noodles to boil, knowing very well that not all would get eaten that night. But, I had a plan.

I'm not sure why I haven't thought of it before, because who doesn't like eating pasta two nights in a row? Half of you reading this won't admit to it, but deep down I know everyone could eat pasta daily. Except for my good friend Jana, who doesn't like pasta. What? The horror.

So, our leftovers from the night before were turned into a Spaghetti Bake. I simply took my leftover pasta, meat sauce and some cheese and made a new meal. Simple as that.

Spaghetti Bake
leftover pasta
tomato meat sauce
cheddar cheese
parmesan cheese

Spray baking dish with non-stick spray. Lay noodles in bottom of dish, top with meat sauce, and sprinkle on parmesan and shredded cheddar cheese. Bake in 350 degree oven until heated through and cheese is melted.

And of course, serve with a side of garlic bread:)

I cannot tell you how good it feels to use up our leftovers and not finding them a week later in the back of the fridge totally inedible.

What sort of concoctions do you make up with your leftovers?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Garlic Roasted Asparagus

Are you seeing a theme around here? Yes, I love garlic and I put it in almost everything I dream up.

Since yesterday was Valentine's Day and we were home all day I figured I better get my hiney in the kitchen and make a nice meal. After all it is Sunday, and a holiday, so there is no excuse.

I had done my annual bi-weekly haul at the grocery store on Friday, so I had plenty of things to pick from. Oh, about that trip - I had a crazy lady run me down in the produce section, yelling, and I mean YELLING, "ma'am I think you dropped your baby's pacifier in the parking lot!". Once I realized she was talking to me, I went over to her, thinking she'd hand it to me, but no, she said "I was in the car right next to you and I saw it drop out of his car seat".

Well....okay. I was thinking why didn't you just tell me right then and there as we are next to each other in the parking lot, instead of making a large scene in the produce aisle to flag me down?

Some people are WEIRD.

Anyway, on to asparagus. I have grown to love this vegetable. I don't remember eating it at all growing up, not sure why, but now I love it. Especially when it sits next to honey mustard panko chicken and mashed potatoes. Yum!

Garlic Roasted Asparagus
handful of asparagus spears (with ends cut off - I used 1/2 of this bundle)
2 T. minced garlic
olive oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line baking sheet with foil. Lay washed and cut asparagus on baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil and throw on the garlic. Take clean hands and toss to coat. Roast for 10 min. or until crisp tender.

In other news....look at my Valentine's Day present! Now, to many of you this would not be a good present, but to me it is. I've been needing a new hair straightener for years. Most girls would like flowers, diamonds, or a romantic dinner. All I wanted was one day of getting ready and not cussing out my old hair straightener.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

Love is in the air....every time you look around....remember that song?

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

Just to recap, I baked my two boys a Valentine's Day/Birthday Cake on Friday. My husband's birthday was on Friday, so I made it then....but trust me, it was huge! So we are still eating off it today, and well probably tomorrow.

I'm entering my creation in The Naptime Chef and Savor the Thyme's Food is Love contest. Not sure if my lop-sided homemade cake has a chance, but heck, I'll give it a shot!

Up for grabs are some fabulous prizes from Scharffen Berger Chocolate. I've never had the pleasure of trying their chocolate, but then again, I've never met a chocolate I didn't like! I'll be sure to let you know if I've won the big prize.

As for today - church is done. Laundry is started (long way to go!). Olympics will be watched. And a nice dinner will be eaten.....I'm thinking baked honey mustard chicken, mashed potatoes and roasted asparagus. Yum! Stay tuned!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Red Velvet Cake Day

Today is my husband's 28th birthday. We are officially the same age again. For half of the year I'm 6 months older, and for the other half were the same age. I prefer this half.

Since his birthday is only two days before Valentine's Day, we usually clump the two together and just do one celebration, if you even call it that. Mostly it involves a cake, dinner, and well that is about it!

Tonight we are having dinner with some friends, kind of a Valentine's Day/Birthday Dinner....again all clumped together.

So, for his birthday cake this year, I decided on red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting. I even found cute heart shaped pans at the Dollar Store! I was going to go all out and even do the cake homemade, but well, as you other mothers out there know, one thing toppled on to the other, and well...boxed cake it is. But I promise you it is still good!

While browsing other food blogs for a good cream cheese frosting recipe, I came upon one of my FAVE blogs, How Sweet Eats. Jessica is hilarious, staying true to her "no veggie intake" and her love for desserts. She was gracious enough to send me her frosting recipe, so that is the one I used.

Whoa - did it make A LOT! Let's just say I have a whole Tupperware container of extra frosting sitting in the fridge. I'm sure I'll find something to use it dipping my fingers in it later.

After this cake baking afternoon, my kitchen was a disaster, I had clogged the sink (still not sure how), and my cake turned out somewhat lop-sided. But, I think we are okay.

Cream Cheese Frosting
3 blocks neufchatel cream cheese
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 T. vanilla
1 bag powdered sugar

With a hand held or stand-up mixer, cream butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add in vanilla. Slowly pour in powdered sugar until you've reached the desired consistency.

P.S. I don't know if cake decorating is for me....I don't have the patience for this stuff!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Giveaways Galore!

This morning, I'm happy to say the house is back on track. Baby is happy again, which in return makes mama happy. We received a package from Grandma in the mail yesterday, and one item was a new stocking cap, which I just had to snap a picture of. I will tell you though, that it's still a little big, so when mom walks away and it slides down, little boys don't like that!

You know he's thinking, "what in the #$!&# is on my head?"

Breakfast this morning was a wonderful batch of baked oatmeal. For some reason this was the best one I've made yet. It was so creamy!

1/2 c. oats
1 c. skim milk
scoopful of almond butter
drizzle of agave nectar
*Bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 min, depending on how creamy/crunchy you like it*

Are you ready for some giveaways?
There are two out there today, hopefully you love tomatoes and love a good cookbook! Have I told you that is the only item I collect? Cookbooks. I'm not sure how many I now have, but I'm sure my collection will continue to grow. I ask for a new one every Christmas (this year I got more than one!)

Here you go....enter away!

1. Dinner at Christinas - a smorgasbord of goodies from Red Gold Tomatoes

2. The Naptime Chef - a wonderful, new cookbook

Good Luck!

Blogger Alert: Stay tuned....tomorrow it's Red Velvet Cake....just in time for my husband's birthday and Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Do you like it?

Do you like my new Sweet & Savory header?

My good friend Pam, who also happens to be a graphic designer, dreamed this up. I think she really brightened my page, don't you? It definitely incorporates my love for sweetness and saltiness, or yin and yang as she calls it. Thanks Pam!

In other news, my morning has been spent trying to get a baby to nap, laundry, and writing a guest post for What Kate Ate. Stay tuned as I will be featured on her site next week as she will be on vacation! (Think....yummy Pumpkin, Banana & Yogurt Muffins).

Does that make you want to tune in?

Honestly, I wish I was going on vacation with her, but I guess a guest food post is just as good.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Garlic Burgers

I think I've said this before, but my absolute favorite summer meal is a juicy burger, baked beans and potato salad. In fact, since my birthday is in August, I usually request this for my "birthday meal".

I know, nothing fancy by any means, but it is just SO good. And very Midwestern if I do say so myself. I'm sure other folks around the country eat this meal as well, but for some reason it seems like a meal from the heartland.....even better when it comes with sweet corn! But that is for another post, as we are no where near sweet corn season. Bummer.

The other night I was craving this meal, but I was being lazy at the same time. I didn't want to "bake" my beans and I didn't want to "make" the potato salad. So, I bought them. But, I do have to give props to our local ma and pa grocery store. They have a great deli, and make a wonderful potato salad. Almost as good as my mom's. Not quite, but almost.

Since our grill is covered in snow, and I'm sure my husband would rather chew off his right arm then stand outside and grill, I did them inside on my stove-top grill pan. Not ideal, but pretty good!

Garlic Burgers

1 1/2 lb. lean ground beef

2 T. minced garlic

1 T. parsley

1 t. garlic salt

*Yes, these are called Garlic Burgers for a reason! If you like garlic, you'll love these.

Take clean hands and gently mix beef and seasonings. Shape into 4 patties. Make a small indent in the center of the patty (this will help to cook more evenly). These were pretty thick burgers, so I grilled for 8-10 min. on each side, so that they were almost well done.

My choice of toppings? Dill pickle relish, ketchup and mustard. If I would have had a sliced tomato on hand, it'd be there too!

We like Bush's Baked Beans, as it has few ingredients and you can actually READ what you are eating. Love that.

So that is how I dream of summer in the middle of winter. On my plate.

What is your favorite summer meal?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Hammy Roll-ups

This post will be short and sweet, as I have a baby sleeping on my chest whose just been diagnosed with an ear infection. Yeah, that cold that he had developed into this....not fun! It was a long day yesterday and an even longer night.

Because little man was under the weather, I wasn't able to go along to the Superbowl party we were invited to. What a bummer. But I did pack some snacks for the hubs to take along (no
sense in having him stay home!)

Hammy Roll-ups

1 pkg. flour or whole wheat tortillas
1/2 lb. thinly sliced ham
1 pkg. 1/3 fat neufchatel cream cheese
1 pkg. Hidden Valley dry ranch dressing mix

Mix together cream cheese and ranch mix. Spread evenly on tortillas, lay slices of ham on cheese mixture, roll-up and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least one hour (can be done the day before). Slice into bite size pieces and arrange on platter right before you are ready to eat.

This snack is so easy to assemble, and can even be kept rolled up for lunches on the go. And there are so many varieties you could make! Turkey, roast beef, herbed cream cheese, taco seasoning, or even add chopped veggies to the mix! You can't go wrong.

Yesterday, on our way back from great-grandma's (when everyone was still healthy), we stopped for an ice cream treat. I cream in February? In ice cold, snowy Iowa? Yep. We crave ice cream all year around.

Do you?

Oh, and by the way - I've typed this whole post one-handed. Chicken scratch, if you will. Pretty impressive if I do say so myself.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Holy Moly Guacamole

Yeah, pretty sure that title hasn't been used before, huh?

Oh well, it fits. I love me a batch of homemade guacamole. To be honest, I didn't start making this until a few years ago. Now, my husband loves it and requests it often.

I think we are just a tortilla chip/dip kind of family. We go through probably 2 large bags of tortilla chips in a week and a half. They are always on my grocery list, and regardless of how often I buy them, it still seems like we are usually scrounging the bottoms of the bags at the crumbs. And by this, I mean they hubby more than me. One of his favorite snacks are chips and salsa. But, when I make guacamole, it trumps the salsa.

So easy, so simple and such an easy dip to take to all those Super Bowl parties tomorrow! Unfortunately, I'm not taking guacamole and chips to our friend's Super Bowl party tomorrow (because we ate it all), so I'm taking a different appetizer that only requires 4 ingredients. Stay tuned for that one...

Holy Moly Guacamole
3 avocados
1/2 c. sour cream
1/2 snob salsa (or fresh chopped tomato)
juice of one lime
salt and pepper, to taste
*Make sure the avocados are ripe! They should leave a slight finger indent when you push on them, and the skin should be dark green, almost brown in color.

Cut avocados in half going around the pit. Take knife and slightly STAB the pit and it should pull out easily. Take large spoon and scoop out the avocado. Mash up the avocado and mix with sour cream, salsa, lime juice, salt and pepper. Serve with tortilla chips, veggies, pita chips, etc.

Avocado tip: On Oprah yesterday they had a segment showing some Super Bowl recipes....and the chef's trick (which I've never heard) was to put the avocado's pit in the bottom of the serving bowl, put the guacamole on top of it, and that will prevent the dip from turning brown. Or as my husband says, "The color of our son's *!$#*&". Ha!

We are now off to visit great-grandma. She is taking us out to eat at Happy Joe's. The HOME OF THE TACO PIZZA. Seriously, the home. I'm also looking forward to their BLT pizza. Sounds disgusting, but it's wonderful. Heart attack on a plate, but otherwise wonderful.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Pumpkin Isn't Just for a Giveaway!

I've often wondered why we only buy canned pumpkin during the months of October, November and December. Don't worry, I'm guilty of this too.

I only seem to eat pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving even though I LOVE it. Yummy pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting only seem to show up during the winter months. Why is this?

Sorry, I don't have an answer for you......other than I brought pumpkin back. Yep, it's February and I used a can of pumpkin this week.

We often have breakfast for dinner. It's easy, comforting, and well, frankly I don't understand the people who can ONLY eat breakfast during the hours of 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. One of my favorite things to do is order breakfast for my meal at those few and far between restaurants that serve it all day long. To me there is nothing better than an omelet or waffles during the day.

Here is what I whipped up the other day. Actually, this batter can be made the day ahead if needed and just kept in the fridge. Once less step to do when you get home at night! I know, it's looks like a LOT of ingredients, but trust me, it's just dump and stir. So easy.

Pumpkin Pancakes
1 1/2 c. flour (I used 1 c. whole wheat, 1/2 c. white)
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1 1/2 t. baking soda
2 eggs
1 1/2 c. buttermilk (I used skim milk)
1/2 can pumpkin
2 T. butter, melted
1 t. vanilla
1 T. sugar (I used agave nectar)
1/2 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. pumpkin pie spice
1/4 c. flax seed

Mix all dry ingredients together in a bowl and set aside. Mix all wet ingredients together and combine with the dry ingredients. Batter will be slightly lumpy. Pour onto hot griddle, when bubbles form, flip and continue cooking for a minute on the other side.

See the modifications I made to the recipe above? Adding in some whole wheat flour, flax seed and substituted the sugar for agave nectar. These were delicious! I served it along side some turkey sausage links that were flavored with maple syrup. Does anyone else pour maple syrup over their sausages? I do!

The hubby raved, and claimed "This would be a perfect meal after a day of hunting." Ugh....thought hunting season was over, but suddenly it was brought back into our conversation mix. Moving on....

In other news, head on over to Food, Fit & Fun, as Mary is giving away a Le Creuset 10.5″ x 7″ square baking dish and a Le Creuset 7″ x 5″ baking dish. The winner will have the opportunity to pick the color of their choice!
I want RED.

You have until Wednesday, February 10, 2010 at 12 a.m. to enter. If you win, please invite me over for dinner.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

It's the Little Things...

So, I'm officially out of the running for Mother of the Year.

Our son, who will soon be 5 months, is mastering his rolling over technique. He easily rolls from his stomach to his back often, but as with any baby it's just a little harder to go from the back to the stomach. It's hard to get over that arm!

Well, the last few days he's been working HARD. And what do you know, I lay him down on his back this morning for some "play time", walk away for 2 minutes, come back and his is fully on his stomach, looking up at me. I know he's thinking "Mom, you missed it!"

I did miss it. This was my fear. I just hope I don't miss his first step. Ugh.

Below is what I'm looking forward to later new issue of the Food Network magazine! I received this subscription as a gift for Christmas and my first issue arrived yesterday. Again, it's the little things in life.

Stayed tuned.....upcoming posts include a breakfast fit for a king (think healthy pumpkin pancakes and turkey sausage) and my Holy Moly Guacamole. To. Die. For.

Does anyone else read this magazine??? And thanks to those who are participating in my 5 Foodie Fun Facts from yesterday!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Honey Mustard Chicken & 5 Foodie Fun Facts

I have to give credit, where credit is due. This recipe comes from Christina. She was the first food blogger I found.....and the one who made me decide to also become a food blogger.

I was reading my Taste of Home magazine one day and noticed that she was featured in their Field Editor Spotlight section. She casually mentioned her website Dinner at Christina's, and I casually thought to myself I'll need to check that out. Well, you know how it goes, you never remember to get online and check it, and so a few weeks passed and I still hadn't taken a look! Finally, I do and I think an hour later I'm still scrolling through her posts. Needless to say, she started this hobby of mine, so blame her if you are bored with it! (I'm honestly hoping your not bored).

Thanks Christina!

One of the very first posts I read of hers was her Honey Mustard Chicken. She used panko breadcrumbs (which I've never used before, but have always wanted to)....and well, it looked so easy and yet so simple and delicious. Who doesn't like a chicken tender? Especially one that is healthier and much more satisfying?

Here is the version I put together the other night:
3 boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into strips
equal parts honey and mustard
panko breadcrumbs
garlic salt

Mix together equal parts honey and mustard. I used about 1/2 cup of each. Place chicken strips in honey mustard mixture and coat generously (I even let mine sit in there for about 30 min.) Pour panko breadcrumbs on a plate and season with some garlic salt and parsley. Take strips out of mixture and coat in panko. Place on sprayed baking sheet and place in a 400 degrees oven. Bake 10-12 min and turn chicken. Bake another 8-10 min. until browned and cooked through.

I like mine really crispy, so I think I let them go even a little longer.....and yes, you do see some without the panko. That was my husband's doing. What do I say, he has a fear of breading.
Unless, he's hungover and then it's game on. I served this with steamed green beans and baked mashed potatoes.

And for something fun! I've seen this done on some other food blogs and thought I would join the fun.
Here are 5 Foodie Fun Food Facts about me. Enjoy!

When did you discover your love for cooking/baking? I would always help my mom growing up (you know, just when I was in the MOOD), but I would say in college is when it went into full gear.

Favorite food to make? Anything homemade really - bread, cookies, desserts, you know the things that you could easily pick up at the grocery store, but they don't taste half as good?

Top eat of all time? Bourbon Street's Asiago Artichoke Dip. To. Die. For.

Most disliked food? Water chestnuts. I don't even know what they are...a vegetable maybe? The crunch it makes when you bite into it makes me cringe.

Food you still haven't tried to make but want to? Homemade bread (without the help of my bread machine) and homemade jam. I plan to do this with my mom this summer when strawberries are in season. Mom, if you're reading this, I don't believe I've told you this yet!

Now...I've got to pass this on! I've listed some of my FAVE food bloggers below. If you are reading this, please answer these 5 Foodie Fun Food Facts in your next blog!