Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sopapilla Cheesecake Bars


-3 cans pillsbury butter crescent rolls

-2 (8oz) packages cream cheese (softened)

-1 cup sugar

-1 teaspoon vanilla

-1/4 cup butter (melted)

-Cinnamon & sugar


Unrolled and spread 1 & 1/2 can crescent rolls on bottom of un-greased pan. Combine softened cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla. Spread mixture over crescent rolls. Unroll and spread remaining crescent rolls over mixture. Spread melted butter over the top and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes.

**Edit 8.20.11: to save some calories (and in mulah! oh, the puns are endless...), I have found that I can actually cut the recipe down to 2 cans of crescent roll dough. Just spread the dough a bit thinner and you can still cover a 9x13 pan. I also use Neufch√Ętel in place of cream cheese (they're right next to each other on your grocer's shelf). It's 1/3 less fat (and a higher protein content) and you can't tell the difference one bit! There's no way you can pass this recipe as healthy, but this at least helps. :)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Sinful Cinnamon Muffins

You can make these big (using a regular sized cupcake pan), however you would have less cinnamon/sugar to muffin ratio. And I like crunch of the sugar on my muffin. Plus, you don't feel as bad eating 3 little ones instead of 1 big one! Trust me on this.

Cinnamon Breakfast Muffin Recipe:
(recipe adapted slightly from Pioneer Woman)

3 cup flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup butter flavored Crisco
2 eggs
1 cup milk
2 1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp cinnamon
2 sticks butter, melted

Mix one cup sugar with shortening until well blended. Add eggs.

In seperate bowl, mix flour, baking powder, salt, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and nutmeg. Add flour mixture alternately with milk to the creamed mixture. Beat well after each addition.

Lightly grease 18 muffin cups (or 48 mini muffins). Fill muffin cups half full. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes (minis for about 13-15 minutes).

While baking, melt 2 sticks of butter. In seperate bowl, mix sugar with cinnamon. Dip baked muffins in butter, coating thoroughly, then coat with cinnamon-sugar mixture. Eat, enjoy, and eat some more!

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars
(adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything
who adapted it from Paula Deen)
Ingredients: Crust:
2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup firmly packed Brown Sugar
1 cup Unsalted Butter, softened

Cheesecake Filling:
3 (8oz) packages Cream Cheese, softened
3/4 cup Sugar, plus 2 Tablespoons, divided
3 Large Eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract

Apple Layer:
3 Granny Smith Apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon Ground Saigon Cinnamon (regular ground cinnamon can be substituted)
1/4 teaspoon Ground Nutmeg

Streusel Topping:
1 cup firmly packed Brown Sugar
1 cup All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup Quick Cooking Oats
1/2 cup Unsalted Butter, softened
Caramel Ice Cream Topping

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

CRUST: In a medium bowl, combine flour, and brown sugar. Cut in butter with a knife and stir as you go so that the butter doesn't all stick together. Press evenly into a 9x13 inch baking pan lined with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Bake 15 minutes or until lightly browned.
CHEESECAKE FILLING: In a large bowl, beat cream cheese with 3/4 cup sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, stirring after each addition. Add vanilla and blend until combined. Pour over warm crust.
APPLE LAYER: In a small bowl, stir together chopped apples, remaining 2 Tablespoons sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Spoon evenly over cream cheese mixture.
STREUSEL TOPPING: In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, flour, oats, and butter. Stir until butter is evenly distributed. Sprinkle evenly over apple layer.
Bake 40-45 minutes, or until filling is set and streusel topping is lightly browned. Let cool on counter for 1 hour. Move to refrigerator and cool for at least 3 more hours. Drizzle with caramel ice cream topping and serve chilled.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Fall Decorating

Fall is one of my favorite times of year and I love decorating for Halloween and that Fall Season. I found some great pictures of inspiration and ideas for me I just wanted to share.

Some Great Favorite Recipes

Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Bars
Recipe adapted from Annie's Eats

Crust:1 1/2 cups graham crackers (about 1 package in the Honeymaid box)
3 T sugar
5 T unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9x13 pan with aluminum foil, making sure there is at least an inch overhang on all sides, preferably a couple on both ends. In a food processor, process graham crackers to fine crumbs, add sugar and pulse several times to combine. With processor running, add melted butter and process for about 15-30 seconds more. Press crumbs onto the pan in an even layer. Bake for about 10 minutes and cool in pan on a wire rack.

1/3 cup whole milk (I used skim milk and just replaced a little bit with heavy cream)
12 oz cream cheese, softened
3 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1 can dulce de leche

Beat softened cream cheese with mixer on medium-high speed for 2-3 minutes until smooth. Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating and scraping the bowl after each egg. Add the milk and salt and beat on low until smooth. Add the dulce de leche and beat on low speed until smooth. Pour over the crust and smooth with a rubber spatula. Set pan inside a larger pan and add hot water to the larger pan until water is about half way up the sides of the cheesecake pan.

Bake for about 35-40 minutes until filling is just set. Cool on wire rack for about 2 hours and then cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours more.

Chocolate Glaze:
3 oz bittersweet chocolate
4 T unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
2 tsp light corn syrup

In a large measuring cup, add chocolate pieces, butter and corn syrup. Microwave on low powder for about 1 1/2 minutes, stirring every 20-30 seconds until almost melted. Stir until smooth. Pour glaze over chilled cheesecake, tilt the pan or use an offset spatula to smooth the chocolate up to all the edges. Chill at least 30 minutes more.

Use excess foil to remove the bars from the pan, peel foil off the back, and transfer to a cutting board. Using a large sharp knife, cut into squares and serve.

Orange Creamsicle Cookies
Recipe from The Magnolia Bakery Cookbook
Makes about 3 dozen cookies

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, slightly softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 egg
Zest of 1 orange
1 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with Silpats or parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine flour, soda, and salt. Stir together and set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg and beat until combined. Add flour mixture and beat on low speed until well incorporated. Add orange zest and beat to distribute. Stir in chips.

Use a cookie scoop or tablespoon to drop in rounded spoonfuls on cookie sheets, leaving plenty of room between cookies to allow for some spreading. Bake for about 10 minutes until light golden brown. Cool about 1 minute on cookie sheets and then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Pecan Pie Bars
Recipe from Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9x13 jellyroll pan with aluminum foil. Combine flour, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl. Cut the cold butter into cubes and add to flour mixture. Toss and use a pastry blender to cut butter into flour mixture until mixture resembles crumbs the size of peas. Pour mixture into prepared pan and press into a smooth crust. Poke several holes in the crust with tines of a fork. Bake about 18-20 minutes until light golden brown.

2 eggs
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup light corn syrup
2 T unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla

In a large bowl, beat eggs and add sugar, corn syrup, butter, and vanilla. Whisk together until smooth. Stir in pecans. Pour filling into pre-baked crust. Return to oven to bake for about 20 minutes until filling is set. Cool on a wire rack until completely cool. Use foil to lift bars out of pan and cut into squares.

The recipe is a combination of a few different sources - I adapted the recipe on I Heart Cuppycakes who adapted the recipe from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes and Dulcedo.  The cake is really moist and don't skip the orange zest because it adds so much flavor and I love seeing the little bits of zest in the cake.  The marshmallow cream is a great addition to these cupcakes, it really gives it the creamsicle flavor instead of just an orange cupcake. 

Orange Creamsicle Cupcakes
Recipe adapted from I Heart Cuppycakes
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 T citrus olive oil
1 cup sugar
2 T vanilla
2 eggs
Zest of 1 orange
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup orange juice, freshly squeezed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line muffin pans with paper liners.  (This made 16 cupcakes for me.)

Combine butter, olive oil and sugar and mix on medium high speed about three minutes until light and fluffy.  Add vanilla and eggs and mix about one more minute until well incorporated.  Stir in orange zest.  In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Separately combine heavy cream and orange juice.  Add 1/3 of the flour mixture, followed by 1/2 of the cream mixture and repeat, finishing with the flour.  Mix until just incorporated after each addition. 

Scoop batter into prepared liners, filling about 2/3 of the way full.  Bake about twenty minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool in pans about five minutes and then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Marshmallow Cream Filling:
7 oz marshmallow fluff
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

Cut butter into small pieces and add to fluff in a mixing bowl.  Beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy.  Cut a small cone shape into the top of each cupcake and spoon marshmallow cream into wells allowing the cream to puddle on top of the cupcake slightly.  (Don't add too much, when you add the buttercream, it will cause the cream to move out toward the edges of the cupcakes.)

Orange Buttercream:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/8 - 1/4 cup orange juice, freshly squeezed
Zest of 1 orange
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar

Beat butter on medium speed until light and fluffy, about three minutes.  Add orange juice, zest, and vanilla and mix until well combined.  Add powdered sugar, one cup at a time, mixing until incorporated to reach desired consistency.  Whip on medium high speed about two minutes until smooth and creamy.  Transfer to a piping bag fitted with desired tip and pipe onto cupcakes. 

I love sliders -- they are the perfect size for a party so you don't have to commit to just eating a burger.  I quickly made these sliders because I had an open can of chipotles in adobo from my chipotle chicken pasta that I wanted to use some more of rather than freezing.  I used a nice sharp cheddar cheese to top these but I think a monterey jack or pepper jack cheese would also be delicious.  Get some nice fresh rolls from a bakery for these - I used some sourdough rolls that were great.  A little red onion and a cilantro lime mayo are the finishing touches for a great little sandwich.

Chipotle Chicken Sliders

2 T olive oil
1 pound ground chicken
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, finely chopped + 1 T of the sauce
1/4 cup finely diced red onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T lime juice
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unseasoned breadcrumbs
1 egg
8 rolls
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese
8 thin slices of red onion


1/2 cup mayo
1 T lime juice
1/4 cup cilantro
Chop cilantro finely and stir into mayo with lime juice and set aside. 

Preheat a grill pan or skillet over medium high heat and add oil.  Combine all remaining ingredients except rolls, cheese, and onion slices in a large bowl, gently mix until just combined.  Divide mix into eight equal portions and form into small patties, thinning just slightly in the center.  Transfer patties to hot pan, cooking about 2-3 minutes per side until cooked through. 

Meanwhile preheat broiler on low.  On a large sheet pan, cut rolls in half and lay out evenly.  Add burgers and cheese to bottom of rolls.  Broil until cheese is melted and rolls are golden brown.  Spread tops of rolls with mayo and top burgers with onion slices and serve.

If candy-making intimidates you, this is the perfect recipe for you to try.  You don't even need your stove, no thermometers are involved, you barely need a pan.  This fudge can be made completely in the microwave and only takes about five minutes.  It's a perfect recipe to round out your holiday baking when you are short on time. 

Peanut Butter Fudge
Recipe via Erin's Food Files from Alton Brown

1 cup of butter
1 cup peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 lb powdered sugar

Prepare a pan by covering it in wax paper and spraying with nonstick cooking spray, leaving at least one inch overhang of wax paper around all edges.  You can use an 8x11" baking sheet with a one inch rim or an 8x8" square pan if you want thicker fudge. 

In a microwave safe bowl, combine butter and peanut butter.  Microwave on high two minutes, stir and microwave two additional minutes.  Stir in vanilla and powdered sugar.  Mix with a wooden spoon until well combined and smooth.  Pour into prepared pan, smooth, and cover with another sheet of wax paper pressed directly against the surface of the fudge.  Refrigerate at least two hours and cut into one inch squares.
Chocolate Oatmeal Almost-Candy Bars, from Baking: From My Home to Yours

For the oatmeal layer:
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups (packed) brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups old-fashioned (rolled) oats
1 cup salted peanuts, coarsely chopped

For the chocolate layer:

14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups (12 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup moist, plump raisins (dark or golden)
¾ cup coarsely chopped peanuts, preferably salted

Getting ready:

Center a rack in the oven, and preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan, and place the pan on a baking sheet.

To make the oatmeal layer:

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until it is soft and creamy. Add the brown sugar and beat for 2 minutes, then add the eggs, one at a time, beating for a minute after each egg goes in. Beat in the vanilla. The mixture should be light and fluffy. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing just until they disappear. Still on low speed, or working by hand with a rubber spatula, stir in the oats and chopped peanuts.

Set aside 1½ to 2 cups of the mixture, then turn the remaining dough into the buttered pan. Gently and evenly press the dough over the bottom of the pan. Set aside while you prepare the next layer.

To make the chocolate layer:

Set a heat-proof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Put the condensed milk, chocolate chips, butter, and salt in the bowl and stir occasionally until the milk is warm and the chocolate and butter are melted. Remove the bowl from the pan of water and stir in the vanilla, raisins (if using), and peanuts.

Pour the warm chocolate over the oatmeal crust, then scatter the remaining oatmeal mixture over the top. Don’t try to spread the oatmeal, and don’t worry about getting the topping even — this is fun, remember?

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the topping is golden brown and the chocolate layer is dull and starting to come away from the sides of the pan. Transfer the baking pan to a rack and cool for about 2 hours.

Run a blunt knife between the edges of the cake and the pan, and carefully turn the cake out onto a rack. Turn right side up, then refrigerate for at least 1 hour before cutting.

Cut into 32 rectangles, each roughly 2¼ by 1½ inches. Makes 32 bars.
Serving: I think these are best served cold from the fridge, although my husband likes them straight from the freezer, cut into slivers. Before you chill the bars, though, have one — you might find you like them best at room temperature, in which case you’re lucky: You can start enjoying them sooner.

Storing: Wrapped well, these will keep for about four days at room temperature, 1 week in the refrigerator, or up to two months in the freezer

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Decorating Boys Rooms

3-d letter wall art for your kiddos that love cars
Use an IKEA
magnetic knife rack as a garage for your cars! Smart idea for those with boys :)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Laundry Dresser Project

Brian's next project - This awesome laundry dresser I absolutely love it. If you haven't ever checked out Ana White's site, it's a must for do it yourself projects.She has  very simple and easy to follow great projects.

I promise to post our finished one probably in a couple of weeks. I think this would be perfect to put each person's clean folded laundry in for my family instead of in piles on the LR couch.

Emergency Binder

 It is so important to remember when working on emergency preparedness to have an emergency binder. There are so many different things you can do with it. Most importantly is having documents. These may include your childrens immunization records, copies of birth certificates, mortgage and car loan documents. Bank account information, etc. There is a link below that is free to download and customize your own emergency binder. Be sure to keep things in plastic sleeves for protection from water damage and also be sure to keep in safe place and able to access quickly.

Go to this web site and download the zip file to create your own emergency binder. It's great for your emergency preparedness. Keeps all those important papers together in case of emergencies- what ever they may be.

Cheesecake Cake Pops

We’ve decided to experiment and make chocolate cake pops with cheesecake center.

1. Preheat oven to 350. You can bake the cheesecake and the chocolate cake at the same time.

2. For a cheesecake (you can also purchase one at the store):

a. Mix sugar with softened cream cheese (to soften a cream cheese just put it in a microwave for a minute).

b. Mix in milk, then eggs (one at a time), then add sour cream, vanilla extract and flour; blend until smooth.

c. Bake in an oven for an hour. Chill in a refrigerator

3. For a chocolate cake:

a. Pour boiling water over cocoa and blend until smooth

b. Mix in a separate bowl flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt

c. Mix butter and sugar in a bowl; blend in eggs (one at a time), vanilla extract; add the flour blend with a cocoa mixture

d. Bake for 30-35 minutes

4. Once the cheesacake is chilled, make small (1/2 inch diameter) balls

5. Crumble the chocolate cake and pour the condensed milk in a bowl, mix it

6. Separate chocolate cake mixture into even parts. Make a flat rounds, place a cheesecake ball in the middle and wrap the chocolate cake around it and roll them into cake balls.

7. Dip a stick into condensed milk, put it inside the cake pop

8. Place into refrigerator to chill for 30 min

9. Melt chocolate and dip cake pops in it. Put back into refrigerator for 15-30 minn

Your cake pops are now ready

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cake Pops

This recipe and images are courtesy of ChefPriyanka, she is an amazing cook, you can view more of her creations at her blog.

Here we go!

Don’t need much of an introduction for these yummy pops, besides mentioning that they’re CRAZY easy to make and I used a slightly different cake-pop method.

Anyways, I used Betty Crocker chocolate Chip Cookie mix and instead of using regular butter, I used Land-O-Lakes 50% less fat butter spread. The result was fluffy cake-like chocolate-chip goodness. Why you may ask did I use buttery spread? Well, since I’m just a little obsessed with being healthy, I decided to cut the fat and calories a bit by using the 50% less fat spread! It was amazing!

Chocolate-Chip Cookie Dough Cake Pops:

1 package Betty Crocker Chocolate-Chip Cookie Mix

1/2 cup 50% less fat butter spread/margarine- at room temperature (I used Land-o-Lakes)

1 egg- at room temperature

PAM Baking Flavor

1 cup homemade vanilla frosting

2-3 cups melted dark chocolate (I used Ghiradelli 70% Cacao)

Vanilla Frosting:

2-3 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar

3-4 tbsp milk (I used Skim Plus)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2-1 tbsp unsalted butter- at room temperature (Yes, I used real butter for this)

1. Preheat the oven 350 degrees. Spray a large cookie sheet with PAM. In a large bowl add cookie mix, egg and butter. Mix all together until incorporated well and forms into cookie-dough texture. Drop about 2 tbsp rounds onto the cookie sheet. Bake for about 12-15 minutes, until soft, and medium-brown on the bottom. Remove and cool.

2. To make the frosting, in a large bowl add the butter and beat with a hand mixer until creamy. With the mixer on low add in the sifted confectioner’s sugar, increasing the speed as you add more sugar. After you’ve added all the sugar, beat in about 2-3 tbsp milk and vanilla extract. Frosting should be thick and cream (as if you were to frost a cupcake). Pour more/less milk to achieve that consistency.

3. In a large bowl crumble about 3/4 of the batch of cookies. Add the frosting and mix until you’ve reached a crumbly, dough-like consistency. Roll into balls and place on the baking sheet to freeze for about 30 minutes. Before freezing, place a lollipop stick into the balls, so the stick hardens with the cake and stays put. Remove and dip one-by-one into the melted, cooled chocolate. stand up-right in a glass or stick into a styrofoam slab to dry. Eat! I liked mine with a glass of cold fat-free milk

Great Deals this Week Go To  Great Savings for the Olathe area -
There’s another FREE item available this week at Hen House! You should have a clipless coupon on your card for Pillsbury Coookie Dough for only $0.99. Combine that with a $0.50/1 coupon, which doubles, and you can get this item for FREE!

Pillsbury Cookie Dough, 16.5 oz, $0.99 (with clipless coupon)

Use $0.50/1 Pillsbury Refrigerated Cookie Dough

or use $0.50/1 Pillsbury Refrigerated Cookie Dough

or use $0.50/1 Pillsbury Refrigerated Cookie Dough

Final Price: FREE

Strawberry Lemonade Scones

The scones turned out flaky around the edges and tender throughout, with just the right touch of sweetness. The strawberry and lemon paired so well together.  No wonder I love strawberry lemonade! Enjoy this scone version:)

Strawberry Lemonade Scones


2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour* 

2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter (chilled, not softened), cut into cubes
1 cup diced fresh strawberries
1/2 cup freeze-dried strawberries
1 generous tablespoon lemon zest
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup heavy cream
Sanding sugar
Prepared lemon curd

1.       Preheat oven to 400 degrees  F.  In large bowl mix together flour,  sugar, baking powder, and salt.  With pastry blender, cut in butter cubes until mixture has coarse crumbs.  Gently add both kinds of strawberries and the lemon zest. Make a well in the center of the mixture and set aside.
2.       In a medium bowl, mix together eggs and cream.  Add egg mixture to flour mixture. Gently stir until moistened.
3.       Place dough onto a well floured surface.  Gently knead the dough by folding and pressing it about 7 times, turning the dough a quarter turn after each fold. Move dough to a lightly floured parchment-lined baking sheet (or stoneware baking sheet without parchment). Pat dough into a ¾ inch-thick circle. Cut circle into wedges and separate each slightly.
4.       Brush wedges with cream and sprinkle with sugar. Bake 16-20 minutes until golden brown.   Drizzle scones with lemon curd and top with sanding sugar.  Makes 8-12 scones.

Monthly Meal Planning

Once you get into the habit of meal planning for the week, you may want to get a little more ambitious and plan for a longer length of time, like a fortnight (2 weeks) or a whole month.

How to Plan for a Month

1. Print a calendar – I like to print out a month calendar to fill in my meals. In this way I have right in front of me the placement of weekends, holidays, birthdays, etc.

2. Survey your freezer and pantry – I’ve been keeping a good record of my freezer inventory this month (more on that later this week), so I know what we already have. I plugged those into my calendar.

3. Plan some new meals based on current sales - I don’t know what will be on sale in the coming weeks, but I know what bargains are available now. So, I’m going to stock up on the proteins that I know I’ll want for my September meal plan. I’m also going to make a list of side dishes that I might want to keep my eyes open for in the sales.

4. Cook ahead if possible – One of the reasons that I’m planning the whole month is to save myself some time – planning time, shopping time, cooking time. One way to maximize on time savings is to cook ahead.

Since I’m also going to be doing some freezer cooking this week, I was able to place those meals on my calendar, incorporating the dozen meals I have left in my freezer with the new ones I’ll be adding.

Even if you don’t do a BIG cooking day, having a monthly meal plan will help you think how you can cook once and maybe eat three times from the same amount of work.

Our Monthly Meal Plan

While “the plan” is always subject to change, I have a road map for the week’s ahead. For September, my “plan” is as follows:

1.Southwestern Grilled Chicken, Rice, Salad

2.Pasta & Spaghetti Squash w/ Red Sauce, Foccaccia, Green Salad

3.Touchdown Chili, Cornbread, Veggies and Dip

4.Chili Dogs on Homemade Buns, French Fries, Fruit Salad

5.Beef Enchiladas, Beans, Rice, Green Salad

6.Pizza and Chi-Chi’s Salad

7.BBQ Sandwiches, Potato Salad, Veggies and Dip

8.Grilled Tri-Tip, Baked Potatoes, Green Salad

9. Sauerkraut and SpareRibs, Boiled Potatoes, Bday Cake

10.Baked Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Cranberry Sauce, Steamed Broccoli

11.Carnitas Soft Tacos, Guacamole, Beans and Rice

12.Taco Soup, Indian Shuck Bread, Green Salad

13.Pizza and ChiChi’s Salad

14. Lasagna, Pasta w/ Sausages, Foccaccia, Green Salad

15.Bernie’s Grilled Chicken, Grilled Veggies, Salad, Quick Seasoned Rice

16.Roast Chicken, Garlic Potatoes, Green Beans

17.Summer Rolls – no, it’s not summer – but these are easy and delicious!


19.Beans and Rice

20.Pizza and ChiChi’s Salad

21.Pasta w/ Red Sauce, Green Salad, Garlic Bread

22.Hamburgers on Homemade Buns and French Fries, Veggies and Dip

23.Potstickers w/ Dipping Sauces, Rice, Broccoli

24.BLTs, Potato Salad

25.Pasta w/ Meat Sauce, Corn Muffins, Green Salad

26. the G’parents

28.Taco Salads, Fried Ice Cream

29.Shredded Beef Enchiladas, Beans and Rice, Green Salad

30.Chicken Stir-fry w/ Sauteed Rice Cakes (an experiment w/ Asian ingredients)

Making Your Own Mixes

One of my favorite frugal things to do is make my own mixes. Making your own mixes cuts down on preservatives in convience foods and helps keep your cabinets stocked so that you don't have to run to the store for anything. I have found that if you have stocked cabinets, you rarely have buy things at regular price when you need them. The key to making your own mixes is buying flour and sugar at the lowest price. Recently, I even bought flour in bulk to make several of my mixes. Flour in bulk is about $1.25/ 5 lb.
Most of the time, I buy staples with sales and coupons from the grocery store. If a staple is at a low price, I stock up and make a mix.

Here are a few of my favorite mixes that I keep on hand:
Hot roll mix for pizza crusts
The Make-A-Mix book is a great guide to making mixes. It's cheap and easy

Yummy Homemade Ice Cream Without a Icecream Machine

Peanut Butter Cup Chocolate Swirl Ice Cream
Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 1 quart
Recipe idea from Kevin and Amanda

2 C heavy whipping cream
1  14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 t vanilla
dash salt
8 regular sized peanut butter cups, chopped
4 T Hershey's syrup

1. Pour the heavy cream into your stand mixer. 2. Whip the cream on medium high speed for about 5 minutes. You want the cream to form a stiff peak. 3. When your cream has been whipped enough, pour your sweetened condensed milk into it. Return the bowl to the mixer and beat until the milk has been incorporated. 4. Add the vanilla, dash of salt, chopped peanut butter cups and Hershey's syrup. Stir it with a wooden spoon, until combined.
5. Pour the heavenly concoction into a freezer safe storage container. Cover the ice cream and freeze for at least 6 hours.

Bubble Gum Ice Cream
Time: 10 minutes hands on + 6 hours freezing time
Yield: 1 quart 
Recipe idea from Kevin and Amanda

2 C heavy cream
1  14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 t vanilla
Americolor Deep Pink Food Coloring Gel
1-3 t bubble gum flavoring

1. Pour the heavy cream into your stand mixer. 

2. Whip the cream on medium high speed for about 5 minutes. 

You want the cream to form a stiff peak. 

3. When your cream has been whipped enough pour your sweetened condensed milk into it. Return the bowl to the mixer and beat until the milk has been incorporated.
You can find both of these lovely treasures at 
Hobby Lobby. 

4. Add the vanilla, dash of salt, food coloring and bubble gum flavoring. 

Stir it with a wooden spoon, until combined.

5. Pour the heavenly concoction into a freezer safe storage container. I like these handy GladWare containers. Cover the ice cream and freeze for at least 6 hours. 


Inside Tents - from Childhood

How many of you remember doing this as a kid. It was the funnest thing to do that I remember. Mom would get so frustrated because all the kitchen chairs would disappear, all the books being used as weights and not being able to sit on the Living Room Furniture. It was so much fun! I saw this picture and it just brought back memories, I had to share.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Great Lunch Ideas - Link

These healthy & fun school lunch ideas are IRRESISTIBLE!
lunch2 lunch6
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 If you have ever eaten lunch with your kids or even gone and helped out at school for anything and see what our kids eat - it's well...AWFUL!! If you have ever watched Jamie Oliver's food revolution  ( get on his sight and sign his petition and also seen I mean really seen the garbage in what they are feeding our kids it is very disturbing. I am on a quest to let others know the filth our kids eat at school and share ideas to liven up our normal sandwich and cookie lunches.  The other disturbing thing is time - most kids in elementary school get only 20 mins to go through their lunch line, sit down and eat their lunch. That is less than most adults get for a lunch break. I mean REALLY?!

I will now have a Label for Lunches We will call it the Lunch Box! Please share any other ideas or comments too!

Family Canvas Rules

This is a fabulous idea.....I'm going to sit down with my kids the next FHE and discuss our family rules and let them help come up with some. What a great way to remind them kindly that they need to follow the family rules. There are so many all over blogland. I found these at Tatertots & Jello.

Family Home Evening Binders

I have been searching high and low for an organized system for my Family Home Evening kits. I found this great idea on The Creative Homemaker. I love her system set up for each month and week. I'm a binder, this might be the perfect system for me. You can check out her themes and binder system at her blog.Family Home Evening Binders

I have been searching high and low for an organized system for my Family Home Evening kits. I found this great idea on The Creative Homemaker. I love her system set up for each month and week. I'm a binder, this might be the perfect system for me. You can check out her themes and binder system at her blog.

(Images via The Creative Homemaker)