Amazing Pesto-Stuffed Pork Chops

It has been a crazy week. TGIF! It's also Eliza's 2nd birthday! wow. Today I will finish all the preparations for her party tomorrow; including baking this cake. I'm not a huge baker so we'll see if it turns out. I finished the pinata, dollhouse, and I've purchased all the foods. Phew. My family flew into town last night; add that to the craziness.

On the bright side, I've been nominated for a Versatile Blogger Award. I know it's a great way for us to spread the love amongst bloggers. So, here are the rules of accepting the award: 
1. Add the award to your blog.
2. Thank the person who presented it to you.
3. List seven random facts about yourself.
4. List the rules.
5. Pass the award onto seven other bloggers.
6. Inform each blogger they have won by posting a comment on their blog.

Helen from And Who Says You Can't nominated me and I can't thank her enough. It's amazing the friends you make and the people you meet while blogging. She lives in the UK and is Buddhist. I don't know if we ever would have met in real life, but here we are chatting it up and learning about each other through the internet.
Seven random facts about myself, hmmm. 
1. I love reading any kind of book
2. I'm a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Read more about what we believe here.
3. I love living in Utah
4. Growing up I detested domestication; Now I EMBRACE IT
5. I was a ballerina 
6. I got my bachelor's of science in Organizational Development; that's where you study how people perform in the work place and why and how to make them efficient.
7. My biggest pet peeve-people who make opinions without knowing facts

Enough about me though, let's get to know some other bloggers! I nominate
2. Athena from The Stuff of Success
3. Danielle from Blissful and Domestic
4. Daniela from Aesthetic Oiseau
5. Autumn from It's Always Autumn
7. Ali from AliPyper

Now on to the food part:)
Since we made something last night with Pesto, lets use up the rest of what we bought in this amazing pork chop recipe! With Pesto, you can go heavy or light depending on how strong you want the flavor to be. The first time I made these pork chops, I used more pesto than we liked, the second time not enough, and then the third just right! Don't be afraid to experiment!

Pesto-Stuffed Pork Chops--via Better Homes and Garden New Cookbook pg 403
Prep Time:20mins Cook Time: 35mins

3 Tbs crumbled feta cheese I don't like feta, so I use whatever cheese I have on hand at the time
2 Tbs basil pesto
1 Tbs pine nuts I didn't add these since my pesto has lots of pine nuts already
4 pork loin chops cut 1 1/4" thick
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp dried oregano, crushed
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp dried thyme, crushed
2 cloves garlic, inced
1 Tbs balsamic vinegar

1. Preheat oven to 365 degrees F. For filling, in a small bowl stir together cheese, pesto and pine nuts; set aside.
2. Trim fat from meat. Make a pocket in each chop by cutting horizontall from fat side almost to bone or opposite side. Spoon filling into pockets. Secure the openings with wooden toothpicks.
3. For rub, in a small bowl combine black pepper, oregano, crushed red pepper, thyme, and garlic. Rub evenly onto all sides of meat. place chops on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Bake for 35 to 45 mins or until chops are 160 degrees F and juices run clear. Brush vinegar onto chops the last 5 mins of baking. discard toothpicks before serving.

This recipe is linked up: check it out here

Easiest Pesto Penne with Roasted Chicken

Pesto Penne with Roasted Chicken--via Better Homes and Garden New Cookbook pg 251
Start to Finish: 25mins

8oz packaged dried penne, mostaccioli, or bow tie pasta
2 cups fresh broccoli florets
1 7oz container purchased basil pesto about 3/4 cup
2 1/2 cups bite-size slices of roasted chicken I just either grill the chicken or bake it
1 cup bottled roasted red sweet peppers, drained and cut into strips
1/4 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp black pepper

1. In a 4qt Dutch oven cook pasta according to package directions, adding broccoli the last 2 mins of cooking. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Return drained pasta and broccoli to Dutch oven.
2. In a small bowl combine reserved pasta water and pesto. Add pesto mixture, chicken, and sweet peppers to Dutch oven; toss to combine. Heat through. Remove Dutch oven from heat; add the Parmesan cheese and black pepper; toss to combine. If desired, serve with additional cheese.

Note on Dutch oven cooking. I substitute a big cook-pot:)

Crunchy Chicken Strips Made Simple

Crunchy Chicken Strips--via Better Homes and Garden New Cookbook pg 250
Prep Time: 25mins. Cook Time: 10mins

7 cups goldfish crackers or 14 cups pretzels
1 1/2 cups buttermilk ranch salad dressing
2 lbs chicken breast tenderloins

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line two 15x10x1" baking pans with foil. Lightly coat foil with cooking spray; set aside.
2. Crush crackers about 5 cups, transfer to a shallow dish. In another shallow dish place the 1 1/2 cups ranch. dip chicken tenderloins into dressing, allowing excess to drip off; dip into cracker crumbs to coat. Arrange chicken in prepared pans. Lightly coat chicken with cooking spray.
3. Bake, uncovered, for 10 to 15 mins or until chicken is no longer pink, rotating pans halfway through baking. If desired, serve with additional ranch dressing.
4. Cool remaining chicken strips for 20 mins. Place in an airtight container; cover and chill for up to 3 days or freeze up to 1 month. To reheat, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Arrange chilled or frozen strips in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake, uncovered, until heated through.

Speedy Beef Stir Fry

I love how easy it is to throw some meat and veggies in some oil and after a couple of minutes you have a great dish! This stir fry is so yummy.

Beef Stir-Fry--via Better Homes and Garden New Cookbook pg 242
Start to Finish: 30mins

1 8.8oz pouch cooked long grain rice. I usually cook about 1 cup per 2 adults
1 lb boneless beef top loin steak
2 Tbs vegetable oil
1 16oz frozen broccoli stir-fry veggie blend The one with pea pods and little corn and maybe water chestnuts. Yum
1/2 cup orange juice
1 Tbs soy sauce
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp salt

Cook rice; set aside. In a large skillet cook beef strips in 1 Tbs hot oil over medium-high heat until brown; remove from skillet. Add stir-fry vegetables and remaining oil to skillet. Cook until tender. Drain any excess liquid; discard. In a small bowl combine orange juice, soy sauce, cornstarch, ginger, crushed pepper, and salt. Return meat to skillet; cook and stir until thick and bubbly. Serve over rice. If desired, sprinkle with almonds.

Romantic and Easy: Vermicelli with Sausage and Spinach

I spent this morning making the final preparations for Eliza's 2nd birthday, which is Saturday. I found the cutest tutorial for how to make your own number pinata and I got the structure done, but I still have all the crepe paper gluing to do. I plan to catch up on Project Runway...I'm also hoping to get her dollhouse done since it's our anniversary this week too. We are all done painting, it just needs the design touches, like wallpaper, etc:)
For tonight, I wanted something quick and easy, and this dish is an easy and fast favorite. It has a lot of flavor and looks divine. Like my picture of a picture?

Vermicelli with Sausage and Spinach--via Better Homes and Garden New Cookbook pg 248
Prep Time: 25 mins

1 lb cooked smoked sausage, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2" slices
3/4 cup chopped onion about 1 large
2 large cloves garlic
2 tsp olive oil
2 14oz cans reduced-sodium chicken broth or about 3 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup water
8oz packaged vermicelli or angel hair pasta
1 9oz package fresh baby spinach
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/3 cup whipping cream

In a 4-qt dutch oven cook sausage, onion, and garlic in hot oil over medium-high heat until sausage is lightly browned and onion is tender. Add broth and water to dutch oven; bring to boiling. Add pasta; cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add spinach and pepper; cook about 1 minute more or until spinach wilts. Stir in cream and serve immediately.

I've linked up with Yvonne at Stonegable for On the Menu Monday. Check out what everyone else is serving up tonight! I'll let you know if I survive today


Chicken Scratch NY

Week of Aug 27

This week is BHG week. And by BHG I mean Better Homes and Garden! We are going to be cooking up recipes just from their New Cookbook 15th edition. I have loved almost every recipe I've tried in this book and we'll go through some of my favorites this week!

Monday: Vermicelli with Sausage and Spinach
Tuesday: Speedy Beef Stir-Fry
Wednesday:Crunchy Chicken Strips
Thursday: Pesto Penne with Roasted Chicken
Friday: Pesto-Stuffed Pork Chops

Meat: 1 lb boneless beef top loin steak, 1 lb cooked smoked sausage, 4 pork loin chops, 2 lbs chicken breast tenderloins, 2 1/2 cups bite-size slices of roasted chicken
Starches: 1 8.8oz pouch cooked long grain rice or 1 cup rice, 7 cups goldfish crackers or 14 cups pretzels, 8oz packaged vermicelli or angel hair pasta, 8oz packaged dried penne pasta
Seasonings: vegetable oil, 1/2 cup orange juice, soy sauce, cornstarch, ground ginger, crushed red pepper, salt, 4 large cloves garlic, olive oil, 2 14oz cans reduced-sodium chicken broth or about 3 cups chicken broth, 1 1/2 cups buttermilk ranch salad dressing, dried oregano, dried thyme, 1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
Veggies: 1 16oz frozen broccoli stir-fry veggie blend, one large onion, 1 9oz package fresh baby spinach, 2 cups fresh broccoli florets, basil pesto about 1 cup, 1 cup bottled roasted red sweet peppers, 
Dairy:1/3 cup whipping cream, 1/4 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese, 3 Tbs crumbled feta cheese I don't like feta, so I use whatever cheese I have on hand at the time

Coupons and price matching DOWNLOAD AND PRINT HEREI've only generated a list for Utah, but if you need help in another state using Grocery Smarts, contact me please!

Fruit Pizza

As summer is slowly winding down, we have tried to eat and eat and eat fruit to our hearts content. One great way to use up some fruit and have a fabulous dessert is a fruit pizza. This is the simplest recipe, but I think I ate at least half of it by myself.

Fruit Pizza--via Betty Crocker

pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker® sugar cookie mix
cup butter or margarine, melted
cup whipping cream
cup Betty Crocker® Rich & Creamy cream cheese frosting (from 1-lb container)
3 1/2
cups assorted fresh fruit
I dare you to eat only one slice...


Need a quick and easy dessert tonight? how about breakfast, or lunch, or snack? After reading this post, I knew I had to make up a batch.
Go whip some up! Here's my recipe:

4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
Combine the eggs and milk in a blender. Add the flour and salt and mix on high speed until smooth. Let sit for about 30 mins before cooking and ENJOY! You can freeze them in an air-tight container and then just warm them up for more crepe deliciousness.

Saucy Asian Meatballs

You know I have to give my two cents before you get this recipe. Well, these were an immediate hit for everyone...except me. I didn't love them. Maybe I was just imagining more of a sweet and sour taste, but these were not. They were kind of nutty and definitely ASIAN. My hubby and sis and bro in law all RAVED, but they just didn't do it for me. The only reason I'm including them on the menu is because even though I do all the cooking, I'm not doing all the eating and my hubby insisted we REPEAT these at a later time and date. All the recipes I'm putting on here are hubby/family/me requested repeat meals, so here they are:

Saucy Asian Meatballs Recipe--via Gimme Some Oven

Meatball Ingredients:
  • 2 lbs. ground pork or ground beef
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 cup Panko or breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup thinly-sliced green onions
  • optional garnish: toasted sesame seeds, sliced scallions

Asian Sauce Ingredients:
  • 2/3 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger

Preheat oven to 400.
In a large bowl, mix together meatball ingredients until well-combined.  Shape into balls (I made mine about 1.5 inches, which yielded about 35 meatballs, but 1 inch is probably standard), and place on a greased baking sheet or in a 9×13 baking dish.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until meatballs are golden on the outside and no longer pink on the inside.
While the meatballs are baking, whisk together all of the sauce ingredients until blended.  Once meatballs have finished cooking, you can either dip each meatball individually (using a toothpick) in the sauce mixture.  Or you can pour the sauce over the meatballs and gently stir them until covered.
Serve warm, and sprinkle with additional garnish if desired.

Chocolate Zuccihini Bread BUST!

Update: OurBestBites' recipe has been recommended by multiple people. Can't wait to try it! Thanks!

Have any of you seen the website pintrosity? It's basically where people post Pinterst projects gone wrong. Well, one of the risks of trying new recipes is that they can definitely go wrong. Usually I can sense when there's something amiss and salvage the dish; sadly, however, this was not one of them.

Doesn't that look scrumptious? Pictures can lie. I should've sensed something when it called for 1 cup of oil? Seriously? Even the batter didn't taste like chocolatey goodness. Plus, I had to cook it for almost 2 HOURS to get it not gooey in the middle, and when I took it out to slice after cooling, it was a crumbly disaster. You know what I mean.

So, moral of the story, PLEASE send me a WORKING, TRIED and TESTED, CHOCOLATEY GOODNESS, Zucchini Bread recipe. I'm dying here.

Over and Out

Mushroom-Dill Chicken Rolls

Mushroom-Dill Chicken Rolls--via Back of a Stuffing Mix? This is one of those handed down recipes I have no idea who the orignal source was!

Prep Time--25mins Cook Time: 30-35mins

2 Tbs margarine, cut into pieces
1 cup hot water
2 cups Stove TOp chicken flavor stuffing mix
1 small red pepper, chopped
1 egg, beaten
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, pounded 1/4" thick
2 Tbs melted margarine
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp dill weed

Stir cut margarine into hot water in bowl until melted. Add stuffing crumbs, red pepper and egg; stir until moistened. Spoon stuffing evenly onto chicken; roll tightly. Secure with toothpicks. Place in greased 9" square baking dish. Brush with melted margarine and sprinkle with pepper. Bake at 400 degrees F for 30-35 mins or until cooked through. Heat soup, water, and dill in saucepan. Serve over chicken.
Makes 4 servings

Week of Aug 20

Have you all been enjoying your weekend? We had a great time working on a birthday project for little Eliza, who turns two in just a couple weeks. We are building her a dollhouse using Young House Love's version they built for their little 2 year old. Eliza is going to absolutely love it! It's pretty awesome to build something with your hands for less than buying it and have it look professional. (It's no secret I love John and Sherry and think their ideas are so fun so of course I would praise their dollhouse).

I know you are all tingling with expectations of what the menu will be for this week, (if you haven't already peeked at the calendar), so here it is:

MONDAY: Tiny Ham and Pineapple Pot Pies
TUESDAY: Mushroom-Dill Chicken Rolls
WEDNESDAY: Chicken and Spinach Stuffed Shells
THURSDAY: Shrimp Tacos
FRIDAY: Saucy Asian Meatballs

Shopping List:
Meat: 2 lbs. ground pork or ground beef, 1/2 cup finely chopped cooked ham, 2 cups chopped cooked chicken, 1-1/2 pound Shrimp, 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
Seasonings: 3 tsp. sesame oil, 1 cup Panko or breadcrumbs, ground ginger, toasted sesame seeds optional, sliced scallions optional, 2/3 cup hoisin sauce, 1/4 cup rice vinegar, 6 garlic cloves, minced, soy sauce, ground mustard, 1 Tbs dried parsley flakes, 1 tsp Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, canola oil, cumin, mayonnnaise, white vinegar, sugar, cayenne pepper, 1/2 tsp dill weed
Dairy: 5 eggs,  1/2 cup finely shredded Swiss cheese (about 2 oz), 1 (15oz) container ricotta cheese
2 (8oz) packages cream cheese, softened (I think you could get away with one package)
1 (5oz) package shredded Parmesan cheese (about 1 2/3 cups), 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cup Whole Milk, 4 Tbs margarine, 
Produce: 1 bunch green onions, 2 cups fresh chopped spinach, 1 onion, 1/2 head Cabbage, 1/2 head Purple Cabbage, 1 jalapeno, 1/2 bunch cilantro, Pico De Gallo optional, avocado slices optional, lime wedges optional, 1 small red pepper
Canned Goods: 1/2 cup well drained canned crushed pineapple, 1 (26oz) jar prepared spaghetti sauce (this was just enough. If you like it saucier use more), 1 can (6 oz) Mexican Tomato Sauce Or Enchilada Sauce, 1 can cream of mushroom soup
Starches: 1 box 15oz refrigerated pie crust, softened as directed on box, 1 (12-ounce) box uncooked jumbo pasta shells (if all of yours survive the boil this is enough, to be safe you may want 1 1/2 boxes, 16 whole corn tortillas, 2 cups Stove Top chicken flavor stuffing mix

Coupons and price matching 
DOWNLOAD AND PRINT HEREI've only generated a list for Utah, but if you need help in another state using Grocery Smarts, contact me please!

Raspberry Pie

Here's an idea for your Sunday Dinner dessert!

The picture on Pinterest is really what caught my eye. I LOVE RASPBERRIES. I also loved the sound of a crumble because I also love crumbles, crisps, and all things cobbler. It was a little time consuming to prepare, mostly because of the handmade crust; but you could easily buy a refrigerated pie crust and substitute. And it takes an hour to cook and cool. I used my own recipe for the crust simply because I love it and I know exactly how it turns out. Other than that I followed the directions.
Here's how mine turned out:
Click on the link to see her step-by-step picture instructions as well as a not so browned crust. Depending on your oven, you might not need to bake as long as the directions state. 
The smell wafted heavenly through the house all during dinner and we sat anticipating with our mouths watering. It tasted a lot more like a raspberry custard pie--which was AWESOME. Top with some vanilla ice cream and that completes it. 

Raspberry Crumb Pie--via Gingerbread Bagels

(makes two single pie crusts)
4 cups all purpose flour
3 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 3/4 cup cold shortening, diced
1/2 cup cold water
1 large egg
1 large egg mixed with 1 Tablespoon water (for the egg wash)
4 1/2 cups raspberries
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/2 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Crumb Topping
2 1/2 Tablespoons packed light brown sugar
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch ground nutmeg
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup plus 2 1/2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar and kosher salt. Put the bowl in the freezer for 5 minutes. It’s important that the ingredients for the pie crust are very cold. Dice the shortening and also place it in the freezer for 5 minutes.
Take the bowl out of the freezer and add in the shortening. Using a fork, cut the shortening into the flour. The mixture should resemble small peas. Mix together 1/2 cup very cold water (I put the water in the freezer) and 1 large cold egg. Add it to the bowl and mix the ingredients together with a fork.
Put the dough onto a floured counter and form it into a large circle. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Take the dough out of the refrigerator and take off 3/4 of the dough. I always use a little more so it’s easier to roll out. You can reserve the extra dough you don’t use for another pie.
Flour the counter, rolling pin and the dough. Roll it out into a large circle. Then roll the dough onto your rolling pin. Roll the dough over the pie plate (a 9 inch pie plate) and press it into the insides of the pie plate.
Crimp the edges of the pie or if you can just take a fork and crimp the edges.
Place the pie in the refrigerator while you work on the filling. In a bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix together the sugar and flour. Add in the sour cream, eggs and vanilla extract and mix on medium speed until combined.
Take the pie crust out of the refrigerator and put the raspberries on the bottom of the crust. Pour the filling over the raspberries and spread it out.
Now make the crumb topping. Mix together the sugar, brown sugar, ground cinnamon and ground nutmeg. Pour the melted unsalted butter into the bowl and mix everything together.
Add in the flour and mix until the ingredients form a crumble topping.
Crumble the crumb topping over the pie.
Mix together 1 large egg and 1 Tablespoon of water and brush over the edge of the crust. You won’t use all of the egg wash.
Bake the pie at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 10-15 minutes. (the pie is done when the filling is somewhat firm) Let the pie cool for at least 1 hour on a cooling rack before cutting into slices. The filling will set when the pie cools. Then enjoy!

Honey Sesame Chicken

These sisters know where it's at when it comes to convenience cooking. This recipe is delicious and tasty and easy.

Honey Sesame Chicken--via Six Sister's Stuff

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (thighs would be fine too)
Salt and pepper
1 cup honey
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup diced onion
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (could also use olive oil or canola oil)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional - doesn't really add heat, just adds more flavor)
4 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 6 Tablespoons water
Sesame seeds

Season both sides of chicken with lightly with salt and pepper, put into crock pot. In a small bowl, combine honey, soy sauce, onion, ketchup, oil, garlic and pepper flakes. Pour over chicken. Cook on low for 3-4 hours or on high 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 hours, or just until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken from crock pot, leave sauce. Dissolve 4 teaspoons of cornstarch in 6 tablespoons of water and pour into crock pot. Stir to combine with sauce. Replace lid and cook sauce on high for ten more minutes or until slightly thickened. Cut chicken into bite size pieces, then return to pot and toss with sauce before serving. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve over rice or noodles.

French Bread Strogonoff

Don't run away because it has the word "strogonoff". I promise this will meet approval. Hubby of mine HATES strogonoffs of all sorts, but this has his SOA (stamp of approval).  I only call it strogonoff because I can't think of a better name. Someone make this and give me a better name. We used to eat this growing up and I have kept the recipe about the same as I remembered eating.

French Bread Strogonoff--courtesy of Kate Ashby
estimated prep time--20mins
1/2 lb sausage
1 can cream of mushroom + a little milk
1/2 cup cottage cheese
a dash of garlic salt, paprika, cajun seasoning and pepper

Cook sausage. While sausage is cooking combine rest of the ingredients. Add the sausage. Cut french bread into open faced slices and spoon sauce on top. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and put in broiler for 5 mins or until the cheese is all melted.


Whenever I see "Best Ever Recipe" on Pinterest, I immediately think NOT POSSIBLE. Probably because that really is an opinion. I didn't think it really was possible to have Red Robin approved burgers at home without a lot of work and access to special ingredients, Red Robin burgers for me rank as "best ever", but this recipe PROVED ME WRONG. I don't think I can buy flattened, frozen patties again! I made these in the afternoon so at dinner all I had to do was pop them on the grill. I was also skeptical that they would hold their shape since there isn't egg in the recipe, but they did just fine!

Burgers--via Little Miss Momma

  • Burger Ingredients
  • 2 lbs ground beef 85/15
  • sesame seed buns
  • 1/2 cup of grated Monterrey jack cheese
  • 1/4 cup BBQ sauce
  • season salt to taste
  • cracked black pepper
  • onion powder
  • Secret Sauce Ingredients
  • 3/4 cup of mayo
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup relish
  • 2 tablespoons worcestershire
  • seasoned sal
    1. Combine the ground beef, grated cheese, bbq sauce, and seasonings. Shape patties that are about 1 inch thick.
    2. Then it is very important to push a 1/2 inch indent into the center of the patty–this is what prevents the patty from becoming a dome. These burgers stay extra moist because the bbq sauce and cheese are mixed in with the meat.
    3. Wait for the skillet to get super hot and then apply a very thin layer of butter to the pan. Place the patties on the pan, indent side up.
    4. Reduce heat to medium and allow this side of the patty to cook for about 4-6 minutes, but make sure it doesn’t burn. Then flip the burger over and cook until done.
    5. For the sauce: Combine all ingredients and whisk until well mixed. Taste and adjust ingredients to your liking.
    6. Assemble the burgers and serve with avocado, lettuce or your choice of toppings!

NotesI also butter and toast the buns on a skillet Pioneer Woman style. Something about a sesame seed bun makes the burger seem more legit.

Southwest Chicken Salad

This is seriously one of the easiest, yummiest, quick summer dinners. We have already eaten this twice since I made up the recipe! The key is in the salad dressing and the chicken marinade. I use this marinade as a staple for all my chicken now

Chicken Marinade--via Amee's Savory Dish

1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup soy sauce
freshly squeezed juice of two limes (about 1/3-1/2 cup) or refrigerated lime juice
3 cloves of garlic, pressed or minced
1/2 tsp sea salt use less if you use regular table salt
1/2 tsp fresh black pepper
1/2-1 tsp Tabasco sauce omit if you can't take the heat
2-3 tbsp natural brown sugar
1 tsp Mrs. Dash table blend seasoning or Accent or whatever meat enhancer you have

Whisk all ingredients together and add your meat.  Cover and soak overnight. I usually prepare 1 breast per 2 adults and this recipe easily makes enough for 2-4 chicken breasts.

Southwest Salad--via Dole at the Grocery Store yes, go buy a Southwest Salad Kit at the grocery store
This salad kit comes with sour cream, tortilla strips, Parmesan cheese, and the yummy Southwest dressing. 

Directions: Cook chicken and slice. Serve with, (or on top, or however you like),the salad you threw together by opening the bag and pouring all the contents in. Delicousness
Here's mine just before I mixed it all together and served. Salad kit serves 2 adults and maybe 1 child size portion as well. We usually don't have leftovers. You might want to get two salad kits for a larger group or children that eat more than bird size portions. 

Homemade Hot Fudge Sauce

Hot Fudge Sauce--courtesy of Carolyn Rasmussen
If that doesn't make you want to jump up and make some right away, I don't know what else will. and yes, I made that sundae just to take this picture and then promptly ate it right away!

1 can evaporated milk
1 stick butter
4 Tbs cocoa
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups powdered sugar or more depending on the sauce thickness you want

Melt butter on stovetop and add cocoa. While whisking, add evaporated milk and salt. Then slowly add powdered sugar. Continue whisking until completely incorporated. Keep on heat until sauce thickens. Reduce and serve!

Cheesy Chicken Penne Pasta

Cheesy Chicken Penne Pasta--via Our Best Bites
This is a great recipe to halve for one meal, or make the full recipe and freeze some for a second meal later! We LOVED this recipe and will definitely make it again. 
estimated prep time: 30 mins. cook time: 25 mins


  • 6 tablespoons butter, plus more for baking dishes
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 pound penne rigate
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 8 ounces each), halved horizontally
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 6 cups whole milk
  • 10 ounces white or cremini mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced or use 1 can sliced mushrooms
  • 1 cup sliced oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded provolone* (6 ounces) you could also use mozzarella
  • 1 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan (about 6 ounces)


  1. Preheat oven to 400. Butter two shallow 2-quart baking dishes. If you’re going to freeze one, use a disposable foil pan.  In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta 3 minutes short of al dente; drain pasta and set aside.
  2. While pasta is boiling, heat oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Season chicken with salt and pepper; cook until opaque throughout, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Halve each piece lengthwise, then thinly slice crosswise.  While chicken pan is still hot, toss the mushrooms in and saute until golden brown (3-4 minutes).  Use a little extra olive oil if needed.
  3. In a 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy pot (I just use the pot I cooked my pasta in), melt butter over medium. Add flour and garlic; cook, whisking, 1 minute. While whisking constantly, gradually add milk; bring to a simmer.  Keep whisking frequently as sauce thickens, about 1 minute more. Add mushrooms and tomatoes; cook 1 minute. take the pan off the heat and and gradually stir in provolone and 1/2 cup Parmesan.
  4. Add chicken and pasta to pot; season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide pasta mixture between baking dishes.  If freezing, place remaining parmesan cheese in a zip-top baggie.  If cooking, sprinkle on top.
  5. Bake, uncovered, until top is golden and bubbling, about 25 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
Freezer instructions:
To freeze, prepare through step 4 and then let pasta cool.  Cover pan well with plastic wrap.  Place extra cheese in baggie (for topping) on top and then cover entire pan well with foil.  Freeze for up to 3 months.  To bake, preheat oven to 400.  Remove foil and plastic from pan and set cheese baggie aside.  Place foil back on pan and bake for about 1 1/2 hours.  Remove foil, stir pasta, and top with cheese.  Return pan to oven and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until mixture is hot and bubbly throughout.

Week of Aug 13

We are already half way done with August, well, almost. I can't believe how fast the summer has gone. Here is a fun menu for the week-

Monday-Cheesy Penne Pasta
Tuesday-Southwest Chicken Salad
Thursday-French Bread Strogonoff
Friday-Honey Sesame Chicken

Here's the shopping list:
Starches: 1 pound penne rigate, Hamburger Buns, 1 French Bread loaf, 1-2 cups rice
Meat: 6 chicken breasts, 2lbs ground beef, 1/2 lb sausage
Veggies:10 ounces mushrooms, 1/2 medium onion, 1 bag Southwest Salad Mix
Canned Goods:1 cup sliced oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, 1 can cream of mushroom soup,
Dairy: at least 2 sticks butter, 6 cups whole milk, 1/4 cup milk, 1 1/2 cups shredded provolone* (6 ounces) you could also use mozzarella, 1 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan (about 6 ounces), 1/2 cup monterrey jack cheese, 1/2 cup cottage cheese
Seasonings: extra virgin olive oil, 1/2 cup soy sauce, 1/3-1/2 cup lime juice, 11 cloves of garlic, salt, black pepper, 1/2-1 tsp Tabasco sauce optional, 2-3 tbsp natural brown sugar, flour
1 tsp Mrs. Dash table blend seasoning, 1/4 cup bbq sauce, onion pwd, mayo, ketchup, relish, worstershire sauce, garlic salt, paprika, cajun spice, pepper, 1 cup honey, 1/2 cup soy sauce, 4 tsp cornstarch

Coupons and price matching DOWNLOAD AND PRINT HEREI've only generated a list for Utah, but if you need help in another state using Grocery Smarts, contact me please!

Hershey's Fudge Brownies

If you make these, you will never be satisfied with a brownie in a box again. Didn't I say that about the butterscotch ones? Oh, I must be on a brownie kick. Well, if you need another reason to make brownies, here it is:)

Hershey's melt in your mouth yummy Fudge Brownies--via Hershey's Vol. 1, No. 5, Feb 2, 2010

2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup Cocoa
1 tsp baking pwd
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
2 1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs
1 3/4 cups mini kisses (or choco chips)

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F (325 for glass). Grease 13x9x2" baking pan.
2. Stir together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. With spoon or whisk, stir together butter, sugar and vanilla in large bowl. Add eggs; stir until well blended. Stir in flour mixture, blending well. Stir in chocolate pieces, spread in prepared pan.
3. Bak 30-35 mins or until brownies begin to pull away from sides of pan.

Yes yummy. In fact I've made a few desserts from this cookbook that are quite delicious. Like the Fluted cups with Peanut Butter Filling...but those will have to be another day.


Another great dinner staple, here is my take on the classic Italian dish.
estimated prep time: 20 mins. cook time: 1 hr

Ingredients: 1 lb uncooked lasagna noodles, 1 can spaghetti sauce, 1 can diced tomatoes, 1/2 lb cooked ground beef, 1/2 cup sour cream, 1/2 cup ricotta (or cottage) cheese, 1 egg, 1-2 cups shredded mozarella cheese, 1 Tbs Italian seasoning, 1 tsp garlic salt.

Directions: Pour spaghetti sauce, tomatoes, and ground beef into a bowl. Add Italian seasonings and garlic salt.

Mix sour cream, egg, ricotta cheese, and 1 cup mozarella cheese in a separate bowl.

Spoon a couple spoonfuls of spaghetti sauce mixture onto a greased 9x13 pan and then we start layering! Use 5-6 uncooked lasagna noodles to cover the sauce.

Pour half the remaining spaghetti sauce mixture on top of the noodles.

Use 5-6 more lasagna noodles on top of the sauce.

Pour entire cheese mixture onto the noodles.

Use 5-6 more noodles on top of cheese mixture.

Pour remaining spaghetti sauce over noodles and sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Cook covered 1 hour at 375 degrees until hot and bubbly.

White Chocolate filled Snickerdoodles

Need a dessert for tonight? Or how about a mid-afternoon snack?

How many of you have seen this picture....
floating around Pinterest and wondered if they really were as yummy as they look? Well, yes they are!
Go to Cookies and Cups and try them.

Chicken Broccoli Casserole

I'm sure everyone has their own version of this dinner staple, but I've put it together in an actual recipe you can follow and your family is sure to enjoy. Hubby is NOT a casserole eater, but this is one he actually enjoys.

Ingredients: 1 1/2 cups uncooked rice, 1 can cream of chicken soup, 1 cup sour cream (or cottage cheese), 1/4 cup milk, 1-2 cups cheddar cheese, 1-2 cups shredded cooked chicken, 1 lb frozen broccoli, 1 tsp garlic salt, pinch of pepper, 1 tsp italian seasoning

Directions: Cook rice according to directions. (I cook with brown rice, which takes longer so I usually stick the rice in the rice cooker at lunch time to cut down on prep time.) Put in a casserole dish.
In a bowl combine 1 can of cream of chicken soup, 1 cup of sour cream, 1/4 cup milk (more or less depending on how soupy you want the sauce to be), 1-2 cups cooked chicken, 1 tsp garlic salt, 1 tsp Italian seasoning, pepper to taste. Pour onto rice and mix.
Prepare broccoli by steaming in microwave. Add to rice mixture in casserole dish.
Sprinkle 1-2 cups cheddar cheese and breadcrumbs if you want.
Cook at 350 degrees until cheese melts and sauce is bubbly.

Blondie or Butterscotch Brownies

You will love these cocoa free, butter free, melt in your mouth brownies! A perfect companion for tonight's dinner. I tried them for the first time out of desperation...I committed to bring a dessert to Sunday dinner and as I was preparing I realized I didn't have any butter. How does one bake without butter? I scoured my go-to cookbooks and tried these brownies, crossing my fingers they would turn out.
Well turn out they did!

Butterscotch Brownies--via Betty Crocker's Cookbook circa 1969
1/4 cup shortening
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped nuts I always omit those:)
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Heat shortening over low heat until melted; remove from heat. Mix in brown sugar, egg and vanilla. Stir in remaining ingredients. Spread in greased square pan, 8"x8"x2". Bake 25 minutes. Cut and Serve.

I melted semi-sweet chocolate chips with some butterscotch chips and spread on top while they were still warm to add a ooey-gooey-melt-in-your-mouth-richness frosting of types. YUM.

Chicken Curry

Get ready for an easy dish that will knock your socks off. You can go heavy on the curry, or light. Whichever you fancy. I LOVE CURRY, so I add more:) The great thing about this recipe is it's a "dump" recipe; chop it up before hand, seal it in a ziplock baggie and stick it in the fridge or freezer and "dump" it in the crockpot the morning you have it for dinner. 

Serve it with rice or noodles or nothing at all. I love using Thai noodles. 

Chicken Curry  via
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons curry powder. my favorite is actually a curry paste called Golden Curry. I add at least 2 Tbs.
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1.5-2 pounds chicken thighs, or breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces.
2 cups chopped peeled sweet potatoes.
2 cups baby carrots.
2 cup coarsely chopped mango.  Or 2 cans of chopped mango. totally optional. I omit this
1 cup chopped onion.
1 zucchini chopped, about one cup.
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 chicken bouillon, one per bag.
.5 cup raisins (for garnish)
.5 cup peanuts or cashews (for garnish)
Divide everything into two, one gallon freezer bags, shake it up, seal, label and put in the freeze. To cook, take out of freezer and set on counter for about 30 minutes, then dump contents of bag into slow cooker. Cook on high for 4 hours, or low for 8 hours.

Homemade Pizza

Ingredients: pizza dough, basil pesto, tomato sauce, ham, pineapple, sausage, pepperoni, bbq sauce, shredded cooked chicken, mozarella cheese.

Directions: for pizza dough I use THEPIONEERWOMAN recipe below. After following her directions I first spread basil pesto on the dough, then some tomato sauce, and then whatever toppings I want the pizza to be and then finish up with the cheese before popping it in the oven.

Pizza Dough:
1tsp dry yeast
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

Pour 1 1/2 cups warm water into a bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over the water. Combine the flour and salt in a mixing bowl. With an electric mixer on low speed, drizzle in the olive oil until just incorporated. In separate bowl, gently stir the water/yeast mixture. Drizzle it onto the flour/oil mixture; mix until the dough forms a ball. (You can also mix by hand.) Drizzle a little olive oil into a clean bowl. Toss the ball of dough in the bowl and turn over to coat in oil.

Cover bowl with a moist kitchen towel and set in a warm place for 1 to 2 hours, or cover with plastic wrap and store in fridge for up to 2 days.

To prepare crust, preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Divide dough in half. Lightly drizzle olive oil on a pizza pan or rimmed baking sheet. Using your hands, stretch the dough to the desired shape, pressing the dough into the pan with your fingers. The thinner the better. Lay the toppings over the dough and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until the edges of the crust are golden brown.

The other half of the dough may be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerated up to 3 days before use, or frozen for up to 6 months.

Week at a Glance

I "shopped" my pantry for all the ingredients I had and came up with this list. Sat and Sun are either leftover nights or go out to eat nights (or Sunday dinner with the fam nights).

Here's this week's menu:

Monday--Parmesan Sub Panini's
Tuesday--Homemade Pizza
Wednesday--Chicken Curry
Thursday--Chicken Broccoli Casserole

Here is the shopping list:
Meat: 2-3 lbs chicken, 1/2 lbs ground beef, Deli Meat, pepperoni or sausage for pizza
Starches: Parmesan Subs, 1 1/2 cups rice, 1 lb lasagna noodles, 1 recipe pizza dough (or 2 refrigerated crusts)
Veggies: 1 green pepper, 1 tomato, 1 bag baby carrots, 1 sweet potato optional, 1 small zucchini optional, 1 lb frozen broccoli
Dairy: 3-6 cups mozzarella cheese, deli cheese, 1/2 c ricotta cheese, 1 cup sour cream, 1-2 cups cheddar cheese, 1 egg, 1/4 cup milk,
Canned Goods: pickles, sandwhich peppers, 2 cans spaghetti sauce, 1 can diced tomatoes, 1 can cream of chicken soup, 1 can pineapple for pizza
Fruit: 1 mango optional
Seasonings: Italian Seasoning, garlic salt, pepper, bbq sauce, mayo, chicken bouillon, basil pesto optional but delish, curry I buy Golden Curry sauce mix. It's a curry paste instead of pwd and it is AWESOME and cheap, cumin, flour, minced garlic at least 1 whole head of fresh garlic or I buy pre-minced and you need about 3-4 tsps for this week.

Coupons and price matching DOWNLOAD AND PRINT HERE: I've only generated a list for Utah, but if you need help in another state using Grocery Smarts, contact me please!

Couponing 101

Ok, who groans at the mere mention of couponing? I know Extreme Couponing may come to mind? Well, I was very skeptical at first because all I knew was these crazy ladies who quit their jobs to coupon and bought stuff they didn't even need! Well thanks to a good friend (or two), I've joined the rat race of couponers. Here's my approach--it's easy, practical, and really saves you money on the things you buy!

The first step in using couponing to save you money is to re-think grocery shopping. Instead of making a menu, going through your cupboards and pantry to see what you have and then making a list of what you need, you do a reverse process: Shop your pantries!
The hardest adjustment is learning what you use, how often you use it, and what a good deal is. All of these things come with time, so you can follow along with me and take baby steps. Be patient, you will save money.

Grocery Smarts is a tool I use that matches weekly sales with coupons to give you the lowest possible price for an item. It also rates the final price on a scale of 1 to 5 of how good of a deal it is. The thing I like about using this tool is there's an app for my phone, and you can use it in many different states for many different stores.

I do all my grocery shopping at Walmart because they price match any competitor and it makes for easy one-stop shopping. With a 2 year old, that's critical:)

Stop by on Mondays where I'll post my shopping list weekly. My list includes the price matching and coupon information. All you have to do is print it and take it with you to Walmart. Their policy is to match any competitor's price so all I do is tell them which items I am price matching, what the sales price is, and where it is on sale! Easy as pie.

Good Luck.

Parmesan Sub Panini's

Ingredients: Parmesan Sub Bread, mayo, mustard, provolone cheese, green pepper, smoked turkey, tomatoes, pickles, sandwhich peppers, whatever else you love on a sub!

Directions: Layer the toppings on the bread as you like and put them on a buttered panini grill.

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