Week of Oct 1

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I'm in St. George this week with the hubby for a business trip. I'm most likely NOT going to be checking up on the blog; but I'm sure I will since this is not a trip simply for pleasure...Since the hubby's working, I could too a bit I guess. I have a great trip planned for me and Eliza, can't wait to check in and report. Oh, ya. I moved too. Pics of the new place to come very soon!


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Peach Cobbler

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This has seriously become our new favorite cobbler recipe. It's hard to mess up and it tastes soo good. I'm sure you've seen it on pinterest...

Peach or Berry Cobbler--via Living a Changed Life


Ingredients
Two 12-oz bags frozen mixed berries or 3-4 cups fresh fruit
1 box white cake mix (no pudding)
1 can of  7-up 

Instructions:
Place frozen fruit in a 9x13 baking dish. Add dry cake mix over the top. Pour soda slowly over cake mix. DO NOT stir the cake mix and the pop. If you stir the two, you will have a cake like topping.
Bake 350 for 45-50 min.


You may use fresh fruit like peaches or apples and they all are tasty! We made this for dessert and than ate it for breakfast with some milk. It had peaches, it was healthy:)

Pasta w/ Pesto Basil Cream Sauce

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Photobucket
Another feature at My Favorite Finds!

We closed on the house yesterday so today is crunch time to clean my house and move. Wish me luck.

Like I've said before, I love love basil pesto. This is such a quick and easy pasta that is delicious. I buy pre-made pesto in bulk, but nothing beats making your own!

Pasta with Pesto Basil Cream Sauce--via Pioneer Woman



Ingredients:


For Pesto--
3/4 cups Fresh Basil Leaves
1/2 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
3 Tablespoons Pine Nuts
2 cloves Garlic, Peeled
Salt And Pepper, to taste
1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

For Cream Sauce--
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
2 Tablespoons Butter
1/4 cup Grated Parmesan (additional)

12 ounces, weight Pasta (cavitappi, Fusili, Etc.)
2 whole Tomatoes, Diced

Preparation Instructions:
1)Cook pasta until al dente.

2) Prepare pesto: Add basil leaves, 1/2 cup Parmesan, pine nuts, and salt and pepper to a food processor or blender. Turn machine on, then drizzle in olive oil while it mixes. Continue blending until combined, adding additional olive oil if needed. Set aside.

3) Heat cream and butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add pesto and stir.

4) Drain pasta and place in a serving bowl. Pour pesto cream over the top. Toss to combine. Add diced tomatoes and toss quickly. Serve immediately.

I like to add some shredded chicken or some olives or some fresh peppers--you can really do whatever to make this delicious pasta dish

Tomato Tortellini Soup

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You are going to love how Fall tasting this soup is! It's so satisfying and delicious. I love the sun-dried tomatoes and the creaminess...you would never guess it uses condensed soup! It's great to throw together right before it's time to eat. Enjoy!

Tomato Tortellini Soup--via Taste of HomeYield: 10 servings (2-1/2 quarts)

Ingredients
1 package (9 ounces) refrigerated cheese tortellini
2 cans (10-3/4 ounces each) reduced-sodium condensed tomato soup, undiluted
2 cups vegetable broth
2 cups 2% milk
2 cups half-and-half cream
1/2 cup chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Additional shredded Parmesan cheese, optional


Directions
1)Cook tortellini according to package directions.


2)Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven, combine the soup, broth, milk, cream, tomatoes and seasonings. Heat through, stirring frequently. 

3)Drain tortellini; carefully add to soup. Stir in cheese. Sprinkle each serving with additional cheese if desired. 

Chicken Fried Pork Chops

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I'm late posting this because we had our walk-through on our house to sign off it passed our inspection so we can close tomorrow. I'm packing up the rest of my kitchen today so we might have to live off leftovers until Friday. I won't make you suffer that though so here's a nice and easy pork chop recipe to tie you over!


Chicken Fried Pork Chops--via Rock Recipes
Yield 4-6 servings From Start to Finish: 30mins

Ingredients:
6 center loin pork chops, well trimmed 
1 cup flour
2 tsp salt
2 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 tbsp ground ginger
1 tbsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground thyme
1 tsp ground sage
1 tbsp paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper 
2 eggs
4 tbsp water


Honey Garlic Sauce:
In a medium saucepan add
2 tbsp olive oil

3 – 4 cloves minced garlic
Cook over medium heat to soften the garlic but do not let it brown. Add:

1 cup honey
¼ cup soy sauce
1 tsp ground black pepper
Simmer together for 5-10 minutes, remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes. Watch this carefully as it simmers because it can foam up over the pot very easily.


Directions: 
1) Sift flour, salt, pepper, ginger, nutmeg, thyme, sage, paprika, and cayenne.

2) Make an egg wash by whisking together eggs and water.

3) Season the pork chops with salt and pepper, then dip the chops in the flour and spice mixture. Dip the chop into the eggwash and then a final time into the flour and spice mix, pressing the mix into the chop to get good contact.

4) Heat a skillet on the stove with about a half inch of canola oil covering the bottom. You will want to carefully regulate the temperature here so that the chops do not brown too quickly on the outside before they are fully cooked on the inside. I find just below medium heat works well. I use a burner setting of about 4 1/2 out of 10 on the dial and fry them gently for about 4 or 5 minutes per side until golden brown and crispy.

5) Drain on a wire rack for a couple of minutes before dipping the cooked chops into the Honey Garlic Sauce. 

Serve with noodles, rice or mashed potatoes.

Chicken and Pineapple Quesadillas

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Another Feature:

I was thinking last night as I lay in bed trying to fall asleep about all the projects I can't wait to start in our new house. I mean, it's going to be a brand new house so there's not that much to be done. I can't wait to start making it mine though. I realized that creating something or re-creating something to make it mine is something I LOVE. I love re-upholstering and taking an old piece of furniture and making it look new and cute again. I was talking with hubby about how much I love doing it and how I would spend time doing it no matter if no one saw or knew about my creation. I think this is something we all have to find--something we love to do no matter who knows about it!

Getting on to food, something else I love to talk about and spend time with no matter if anyone even reads this blog! 

How many times can we combine chicken and pineapple? Well I don't care because every way is DELICIOUS. PW does it again with her flair on these quesadillas. I love the extra kick she adds with the jalepeno. Seriously, delicious. Don't believe me? Try them yourself:

Chicken and Pineapple Quesadillas--via Pioneer Woman

Ingredients:
8 whole Flour Tortillas

Butter Or Margarine
2 cups Grilled Pineapple, Sliced

3 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
Salt And Pepper, to taste
3 cups Monterey Jack Cheese, Grated

1 whole Jalapeno, Sliced
Cilantro
3 Tablespoons Barbecue Sauce


Preparation Instructions
1)To grill pineapple: cut wedges, stick on skewers, and grill over low heat. Cut into slices.

2)To pound chicken, place inside a Ziploc bag and pound with a mallet or large can to flatten to uniform thickness. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and Cajun spice (or cumin/cayenne, etc.) Drizzle olive oil on a grill pan and grill on both sides until done, brushing with barbecue sauce. Set aside and slice into very thin slices.

3)Warm griddle over medium heat and put sizzling butter or margarine in the pan. Slightly warm and toast tortillas on both sides, then remove from griddle and set aside.

4)To assemble, sprinkle four browned tortillas with grated Monterey Jack. Arrange chicken slices evenly over the surface. Add pineapple slices and jalapeno slices. Sprinkle on cilantro. If desired, drizzle extra barbecue sauce over the top. Add second browned tortilla on top of each one. (You'll have four complete quesadillas at this point.)Add to oven to warm, or back to skillet to warm, until cheese is melted. Cut each quesadilla into six wedges. Serve with sour cream, pico de gallo, and lime wedges.

Tater-Tot Casserole

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I'm not a big fan of casseroles...but this is one exception. Partly because it's so easy, partly because my 2 year old loves it and it has everything she normally doesn't like, and partly because I'm a closet tater-tot obsessor. Okay, maybe just anything that is grated potato and fried like hashbrowns. I mean I love the greasy ones from McDonald's breakfast menu? don't say it. no judgments.

Here's the recipe before I reveal more about myself
Tater-Tot Casserole (a great alternative for those who don't like Shephard's Pie...aka every kid I know)
Yields 6 servings Prep Time: 20mins Cook Time 30mins plus 5mins

Ingredients:
1 lb ground beef
10-12 baby carrots, diced
1-2 Tbs minced onion
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 can milk (just over one cup, use cream of chicken soup can)
1 can green beans, drained
1 bag 32 oz frozen tater-tots
grated cheddar cheese

Directions:
Brown beef and add carrots and onions. Once browned, add soup and milk, then pour into 9x13 casserole dish. Pour green beans on top and tater-tots to cover. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees F for 30 mins. Once tater-tots are browned, add cheese and return to oven until cheese melts.


Think this recipe couldn't be any easier? Well, it can. I usually buy ground beef in 2lb packages and then I immediately cook 1 lb and freeze it and freeze the other lb uncooked. Then, when I need a quick recipe that calls for cooked ground beef I can whip it out and bam, instant dinner. I like keeping some uncooked to have on hand for meatloaf or meatballs or whatever. Since I cook my beef with onions, I just shaved off 10 mins of this recipe. Also, I wanted to use up my frozen food since, you know, we are moving, so I threw in the rest of my carrots and green beans, about a half a bag each. Then I poured the soup and milk mixture over and voila. From start to oven about 2 mins! 

Week of Sep 24

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My Kind of S'mores Cookie

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These have been all over Pinterestland along with everything Oreo.  I saw some pretty convincing pictures, but upon further discovery I read that most people had a hard time recreating the "look". I decided to put them to the test and try my own.
The secret isn't in the cookie recipe or how you stack them, it's in the PAN. I thought that a muffin tin would solve the problems people were facing of the cookie flattening and the marshmallow being exposed. It didn't hurt that my cookie recipe is almost FAILPROOF. But seriously, you can't go wrong with a muffin tin, chocolate chip cookie dough, marshmallows, Hershey's and graham cracker.

Oh, maybe the secret is in the cinnamon graham crackers I used. Nope. Don't think so. They sure don't hurt though. 

Ready to divide and conquer? Wait no longer.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
almost 2 cups flour
semi-sweet chocolate chips
graham crackers, broken into small pieces
6 large marshmallows
Hershey's bar (at least 12 mini) 

Directions:
1) Cream butter and sugars. Add egg and mix. Add soda, vanilla and salt. 
2) Add flour until firm. Not too sticky, not too stiff. I usually start with about 1 1/2 cups flour and then add it bit by bit until I'm satisfied.
3) Mix in the chocolate chips.

Now for the fun part--
4) Grease your muffin tin and spoon a dollup of cookie dough in the bottom of each cup. Just enough to cover the bottom; you don't want too much since you still have the s'more to add.
5) layer your s'more on top of the dough: small cracker, marshmallow, Hershey's, cracker.
6) Cover the s'mores with another small mound of cookie dough. Don't worry if it sloshes around or doesn't end up perfectly because that's the beauty of a muffin tin. Everything stays C.O.N.T.A.I.N.E.D.
7) Bake at 375 degrees F for 10 mins more or less depending on oven and muffin tin. Mine are dark so I watch really carefully so they don't over brown.


Did I mention that these are literally melt in your mouth delicious? They taste exactly like they sound: a S'more in a chocolate chip cookie. I have to caution you that they only make 12 large cookies and we easily went through 3 in one sitting. Don't count on these lasting...
Well that's it. ENJOY!

Meatloaf--Oh Yes

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Last night we had guests over to watch the BYU football game. We all are alumni (save my sis who is in her last semester) and it was riveting. I hate when we lose. We got Eliza dressed up in her little cheerleading outfit and enjoyed a delicious meal and treats. Isn't football season the best? Even though we don't go to the games often, (since finding a babysitter on a school night until after midnight is difficult) we still try to enjoy the season to the fullest.  Tonight though I want you guys to test out this meatloaf and then tell me meatloaf isn't one of your new favorite dishes! This is a long ways from that hardened brick they served with who-knows-what at school lunches. Yes, this is melt-in-your-mouth...I mean it has BACON on it for goodness sake.

Glazed Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf Oh Yes--glaze adapted from America’s Test Kitchen

Ingredients:
1 lb ground beef
1/4 cup breadcrumbs/oats
1 Tbs chopped oinion
1 egg, beaten
1/4 tsp salt
dash of pepper
1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbs mustard
1/4 cup ketchup

Glaze
1/2 cup chili sauce (or substitute ketchup, but I liked chili sauce)
4 tablespoons brown sugar
4 teaspoons cider vinegar (or white vinegar in a pinch)

6 – 8 ounces bacon , thin sliced (8 to 12 slices, depending on loaf shape)

Directions:
1. For the glaze: Mix all ingredients in small saucepan and bring to a simmer.  Simmer for 2-3 minutes or until slightly thickened and set aside.
2. For the meat loaf: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine beef with all other ingredients except bacon. Turn meat mixture onto work surface. With wet hands, pat mixture into approximately 9-by-5-inch loaf shape. Place on foil-lined (for easy cleanup) shallow baking pan. Brush with half the glaze, then arrange bacon slices, crosswise, over loaf, overlapping slightly and tucking only bacon tip ends under loaf.
5. Bake loaf until bacon is crisp and loaf registers 160 degrees, about 1 hour. Cool 10-15 minutes. While meat loaf is cooling, re-heat remaining sauce and brush some over meat loaf if desired.  Slice meat loaf and serve with extra glaze.

Cajun corn-crusted Mahi Mahi

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Only 7 more days until I'm in my house. Reason #40648 I can't wait--lawn mowing company mowing the lawn for 2 hours this morning starting at 7am. I mean, seriously? Can't you wait until 8am? Some of us get to sleep in just ONCE and it was today. ugh. Oh ya, and the power randomly went out last night around 2am which woke everybody up because all our white noise turned off. Took me laying on the floor in Eliza's room to get her to go back to sleep. Then I'm wide awake and take forever falling back asleep; hence the sleeping in part.

Oh, well. We can laugh about it later? Tonight is another big BYU game and my sis and bro in law are coming for dinner. I hope they don't get tired of me trying my new recipes on them....like this one:

Cajun corn-crusted Mahi Mahi--via Food Network

Ingredients:
Fish
4 fillets
2 cups buttermilk
1 tsp salt
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup flour
2 Tbs Cajun seasoning
oil
2 ripe tomatoes
2-3 cups mixed salad greens optional
pepper

Remoulade
3/4 cup mayonnaise
3 Tbs celery
2 Tbs mustard
1 Tbs fresh parsley or 1/2 tsp dried
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp lemon juice

Directions:
1) Soak fish in buttermilk with 1 tsp salt; cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Whisk cornmeal, flour, and Cajun seasoning together in a shallow bowl.
2) Heat skillet over medium heat with about 1/2" oil. Remove fish from buttermilk, shaking so excess buttermilk drains from fish. Dredge the fillets in the cornmeal mixture. Lay the fish in the pans and cook until golden brown, about 5 mins. Flip and cook until the fish feels firm to the touch.
3) Serve fish on top of tomatoes and salad greens with a spoonful of remoulade on top.

optional cajun seasoning recipe if you don't have any on hand:
1 Tbs dried oregano
1 Tbs dried thyme
1 Tbs paprika
1 Tbs salt
2 tsp garlic pwd
1 tsp onion pwd
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp black pepper

Twice Baked Potatoes PW Style

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I can't move. Ugh I'm so sore. The second day is always the worst they say and they are right. (the proverbial "they" of course) If you saw my facebook post I mentioned I ran and went hiking on the same day. Not the kind of day that is restful. Of course I also ran with the 30 lbs of child+stroller and hiked with the 24 lb child on my back. How did I ever carry a backpack with me everyday with a laptop and books in it for 4 years? I slept horribly.

The brightside is my hubby let me sleep in:) He is so sweet to go sleep on the couch while Mickey Mouse keeps Eliza occupied until we are ready to wake up. Why is it so early?

Well, today is going to be a take it easy day. We might watch 2 or 3 movies at least. Tonight, thankfully the easiest, tastiest PW potatoes are on the menu. Enjoy. Hope you all have a restful day!

Twice Baked Potatoes PW Style--via Pioneer Woman

Ingredients:
8 potatoes scrubbed clean
canola oil
8 slices bacon, fried and diced into bits
1/2 lb butter, cut into slices
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
1/4-1/2 tsp seasoned salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
2 green onions, sliced.

Directions:
1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
2) With a paper towel, rub the outside of the potatoes with canola oil. Place the potatoes on a baking sheet and bake for 45 mins.
3) Combine butter, sour cream, bacon, milk, seasoned salt, and pepper into a bowl.
4) While the potatoes are still hot, hold each potato in a towel and cut in half lengthwise. With a large spoon, scrape out the insides into the bowl with the other ingredients. Repeat with all the potatoes. Reserve the shells on a large baking sheet.
5) Mash those yummy ingredients in the bowl together and stir in 1 cup of the cheese. Add green onions and season additionally to taste.
6) Fill each potato with the mixture and top with remaining cheddar cheese.
7) Bake 10-15 mins until cheese is melted and hot.

These are great by themselves or with some brisket or whatever else you want. Usually one of PW's potatoes prepared like this is enough for me!

Chinese Peppered Pork Chops

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I know I've said before I'm not a big fan of Pork Chops, yet here I am with another pork chop recipe since I'm not the only one who eats in this house and supposedly pork chops are yummy...This is the best marinade for pork chops and if I am going to make them, however reluctantly, this is what I use.

Chinese Peppered Pork Chops--via Food Network
Yield 4 servings
Prep Time: 30 mins Cook Time: 10 mins


Ingredients:
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 tsp sugar
2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
6 1/4" pork chops
2 Tbs oil

Directions:
1) Put the soy sauce, garlic, sugar, pepper, and salt in plastic bag and shake. Add the pork chops and rub them to work the sauce into the meat. Marinate at room temperature for 30 mins. (or overnight if you are extra ambitious, or you forget that you started them for dinner and make something completely different at dinner time.)
2) Heat 1 Tbs of oil in large skilled over med-high heat until shimmering. Add half the chops, shaking off excess marinade and cook until just cooked through. Repeat with remaining oil and chops until all the chops are cooked.

Chicken Ravioli with Ancho Cream Sauce

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Have you ever read a book that you can't stop thinking about, or a movie that you keep playing in your mind? That's how this weekend has been. I finished the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy and we watched What to Expect When Expecting. I loved both of them. I couldn't put the books down and so I ended up reading the second two in just two days. Yikes. I really should've been packing...If you haven't read them and you like a good mystery drama, these books are really good.
This week is crunch time--we finally got our closing date set and the moving van secured--I probably won't be able to read, or blog, that much. You can look forward to a very straightforward menu this week. What's up first? Ravioli:)

Chicken Ravioli with Ancho Cream sauce--via Sandra Lee

Ingredients:
2 pkg (9oz) frozen ravioli
1 cup shredded chicken I seasoned mine with some extra cajun spice
1 jar Alfredo sauce
1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes,
1 1/2 tsp ancho chili powder you COULD use regular chile pwd and it would still taste good
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning like Accent or another non MSG seasoning
Shredded Parmesan cheese

Directions:
1) In a large pot of boiling water, cook ravioli according to package directions. Drain well; return to pot. Cover.
2) Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine Alfredo sauce, tomatoes, chile powder, and poultry seasoning. Bring to a simmer over medium heat; reduce to low.
3) Toss warm ravioli with sauce and chicken. Remove from heat. Serve hot with Parmesan cheese.


http://orgjunkie.com/2012/09/menu-plan-monday-sept-1712.html

Streusel Topped Blueberry Muffins

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Warning: there may or may not be very much nutritional value to these muffins--I think they should more accurately be called Streusel Topped Blueberry Dessert! In fact, I bet it would bake a great dessert. I'm going to still eat it for breakfast though. Nothing beats eating such a delicious treat to start your day. Except maybe eating two. 
My only complaint is that they take longer to make than I usually like for muffins; but, if I stick with the dessert plan, then it's not bad at all. 

Streusel Topped Blueberry Muffins--via Just Another Day in Paradise--via a Cook's Quest
Yield: 1 dozen muffins


Ingredients:
Streusel Topping
3 Tablespoons white sugar
3 Tablespoons brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
4 Tablespoons melted butter
Muffins
2 cups fresh blueberries
1 1/8 cups sugar, plus 1 teaspoon sugar
1 Tablespoon water
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla


Directions:
1)Preheat oven to 425 with rack in the middle.

2)First make the streusel topping. Combine sugars and flour. Then slowly pour in the butter. You may or may not need all of it. Slowly combine with a fork until it comes together in a crumb mixture.Set the topping aside.


3)Place 1 cup of the blueberries into a small sauce pan. Add 1 teaspoon of sugar and the water. Heat over med high heat and mash potato masher (or a fork). Stir and cook for until mixture reduces and thickens. About 6 minutes. Set aside. 


4)Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Set aside. Whisk sugar and eggs together in mixer. Combine until thick completely mixed. Slowly mix in butter and oil until combined. Mix in buttermilk and vanilla. Using a spatula, carefully fold egg mixture and remaining cup of blueberries into the flour mixture until the batter is just moistened. The batter will be lumpy and there will be some flour spots in there. AND it is okay, that is how it supposed to look. 

5)Take your muffin pan filled with paper liners and get ready to load up that sucker. No 3/4 full here. Nope. Fill up each muffin cup. Fill it up so much it mounds ups. Like a blueberry mountain if you will. Next, grab the blueberry sauce made earlier. Dollup about a teaspoon in the middle of every muffin. Then swirl it through. Generously top each muffin with the streusel topping. 

6)Bake muffins at 425 degrees for 17-19 minutes until tops are golden brown. Cool muffins for about 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack and let them cool slightly longer before serving.

Cream Cheese Chicken w/Broccoli

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I finally got around to uploading my little girl for her 2nd bday photos. There were only a couple that she would even look at me




She weighed in at 24 lbs and 33.5" tall. My little petite.
I love that cheese face. Speaking of cheese, it's on the menu tonight!

Cream Cheese Chicken with Broccoli
Prep-Time: 20mins Cook Time: 3hrs
Yield 10-12 servings

Ingredients:
4 chicken breasts
1 Tbs olive oil
1 pkg Italian Salad Dressing Mix
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 cup chopped onion
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 bag frozen broccoli florets
1 pkg 8oz cream cheese
hot cooked pasta

Directions:
Toss chicken with olive oil and sprinkle with Italian Salad dressing mix. Place in crock pot. Cover; cook on LOW 3 hours.
Coat large skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Add mushrooms and onion; cook 5 minutes over medium heat or until onions are tender. Add soup, broccoli, cream cheese to skillet; cook until hot. Shred cooked chicken and add to skillet. Simmer until hot and bubbly. Serve over pasta

Hawaiian Chicken and Grilled Pineapple

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Before I get to today's recipe, I wanted to talk about something that's been on my mind a lot lately; and that's women. Yes, us. Just hear me out okay? 

My visiting teachers came over yesterday morning and since they were new to me, I asked them about themselves, you know, like what their hobbies were. 

"We take care of our kids." 

Let me rephrase my question then, when you have spare time, if you do, what do you like to do? How do you spend it?

No response.

I was at a loss so I started filling in the silence. I like to run, a lot. I ran 3 half marathons this summer. When I was in college I danced ballet. I majored in business organizational development, etc., etc. you get the picture:)

They got to know me a lot this morning. But I know nothing about them other than what their husbands do for work and how many kids they have. And even that I felt like I had to pry out of them. I take that back. I do know that they are awesome mothers who care about their kids and they have great husbands who support them so they can stay at home and work as the primary nurturer of their kids. I would definitely place myself in this category. It's just that there's more to me than that. I know there is more to each of these women than that. Why is it that we feel like society expects us to lose our own identities when we take on the role of mother?

I want to keep my hobbies. Maybe that makes me selfish, but I don't think being a mother and having my own hobbies are mutually exclusive. Most of my hobbies I can either do with my kids or I sacrifice other things, like a career, or sleep, to maintain them.

Like running. I don't have a lot of extra time to devote to training for my races so my daughter comes with me most of the time. That sometimes means I don't shower until the afternoon because I wait until it's her naptime so she sleeps in the stroller so I can get a longer run in. (I don't know about you, buy my two year old doesn't handle much more than 20mins in the stroller so I'm confined to pretty much 3 miles unless she's asleep.)

Or, sometimes I have to put down projects before I'm finished, or books right in the middle of a crucial scene, so I can attend to my child's needs, but I always pick it back up. I think that's the hard part is picking it back up. At the end of a long day of working hard to attend to your children's needs, it takes a lot of effort to finish that crafting project or finish that chapter before your head crashes on the pillow. I'm passionate about what I love and I don't want to lose that.

I love seeing moms picking up new skills and continuing their educations. That to me exemplifies hard work and dedication. When you have that you can accomplish anything. Being a mom is the hardest job in the world and you need all the skills you can get! If we don't take care of ourselves first, can we really be the most effective caretakers of our children? What we need to teach them is balance, moderation, hard work, among many other things. What better way to teach than by being examples of those very things we try to teach them. We participate in service organizations so they learn how to serve. We sew and craft so they learn to love to create. We run and dance so that they learn exercise and nutrition are vital to our health. We stimulate our intellect by reading and writing and showing them at an early age that those are important skills.

If you halt your education, your interests, your hobbies, to follow your children's, where does that leave you when the children are gone? Because as we all know, they do leave eventually. You have nothing left to call your own. Not the vision I see for myself.

I see myself pushing a double stroller around the track during the winter when there's nothing else to do. I see myself as a grandma teaching my grandkids how to crochet. I see myself living in another country speaking Portuguese with my husband doing a service mission. I see myself continuing to pursue life long learning and following my passions.


SOoooooo, awkward transition here, 

dinner. 

Hawaiian Chicken and Grilled Pineapple--via GroceryBudget101


Ingredients:
 3 tablespoons soy sauce
 3 tablespoons brown sugar

 2 tablespoons Rice Vinegar
 1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut into 2 inch pieces
Fresh Pineapple cut into slices
skewers

Basting Sauce
1 T. Cornstarch
1/4 c. cold water
Leftover Marinade 


1. In a small bowl mix the soy sauce, brown sugar, rice vinegar, sesame oil, ginger, and garlic powder for marinade. In a separate dish place the chicken pieces and several pineapple slices that have been chopped into small pieces into the dish, Pour the marinade and stir until well coated. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 2 hours. I don't recommend marinating overnight if you're using fresh pineapple as the enzymes in the pineapple will break down the chicken and change its texture.

3. Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Soak 10-12 Wooden Skewers in a tall glass of water. This prevents the skewers from burning during cooking.Thread the chicken pieces onto the skewers. 


4. For the basting sauce, in a small sauce pan add the leftover marinade over medium heat, stirring occasionally. While it is heating in a small bowl mix cornstarch and COLD water. Once the marinade is bubbling hot, add the cornstarch/water mix. Bring to a boil until thickened and no longer cloudy (this means the cornstarch is thoroughly incorporated into your sauce). 


5. Lightly oil the grill grate. Grill the chicken kebabs 8-10 minutes, turning occasionally, or until chicken juices run clear. During the last 5 minutes of cooking, add the pineapple slices, grill lightly on both sides.
Alternatively, you could use canned pineapple chunks and make Hawaiian Chicken Kebabs by alternating pieces of chicken and pieces of pineapple.


Serve with rice or some sesame noodles. Yum.


And if this isn't already the longest, wordiest post ever, I was featured at Slice of Southern!


Sausage Jambalaya; Easy Crock Pot Recipe

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A good sausage jambalaya starts with three ingredients: onion, celery and peppers. I love spicy sausage and shrimp with mine but basically jambalaya is good with everything. This is a jambalaya recipe for all those who haven't tried it or haven't had a good experience to prove that, yes, jambalaya is worth  all the hype. there's this hilarious episode of Hart of Dixie about cooking it that makes it out to be all complicated, but it's really not; oh wait, thats gumbo and George sings about jambalaya.  Ok, so I'm not from the south and I get them mixed up. (I love this show by the way, it is soo sweet and funny, and Rachel Bilson? Love her!) I love that it's relatively quick and makes your house smell ooh so scrumptious.
Here is the recipe and I'll stop my jabbering















Jambalaya
Ingredients:
1/2 cup chopped onion (abt 1 medium)
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped green pepper (1 small)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs oil
2 cups chicken broth
1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
8 oz sausage in 1/2" slices
3/4 c uncooked rice
1 tsp thyme, crushed
1/2 tsp dried basil, crushed
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 bay leaf
optional: 1/2 lb baby shrimp, 1 cup shredded chicken

Skillet Recipe:
In 12" skillet cook onion, celery, pepper and garlic in hot oil until tender. Stir in broth, tomatoes, sausage, rice, thyme, basil, cayenne pepper, 1/4tsp black pepper, and bay leaf. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer covered for 15 mins until rice is tender. Discard bay leaf.
Crock Pot Recipe:
Put all ingredients in crock-pot except rice. Cook on LOW for 6 hrs. Cook rice separately and serve jambalaya over rice.
See, told ya. Easiest dinner ever! I love crock pot recipes!

Chicken Enchiladas

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Chicken Enchiladas

Ingredients:
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup sour cream
1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup mozzarella cheese
1 cup cheddar cheese
1 can green chilies
8-12 med tortillas

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Mix ingredients and stuff tortillas laying them seam side down in a greased 9x13 pan. Save 1 cup mixture for top and add some extra milk and sour cream to make more sauce. Pour over top and sprinkle more cheese. Cover with foil and cook, covered 45 mins.

Crock Pot Recipe: Pork Loin with Couscous

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Another feature, yay!

A great way to wake up this morning since here it's brisk and cloudy. I love the cool temperatures of fall. It's the perfect time to go on long walks and keep the windows open. Today's pork chop recipe is seriously one of our favorite dishes because it is sooo good. I'm not a huge pork lover, but the pork loin in this dish makes such a difference. In fact, this is probably one of my most expensive pork chop recipes I make; but it also is so straight-out-of-a-fancy-restaurant that we don't care.

Crock Pot Recipe: Pork Loin with Couscous and Asparagus
Crock Pot: High 3 hrs or 20mins on stovetop
Yield 3-4 servings


Ingredients:
1 box couscous (2 cups), Parmesan with olive oil and garlic is my favorite
1 Tbs olive oil
2 red bell peppers--cut into strips
1 bunch asparagus--cut off and discard roots, cut spears in half
Pork loin, about 2lbs--marinated and cut into 8 small cutlet sized pieces I buy the yummy pork loin that's already marinated when it's on sale and freeze it until I'm ready to use it. Pork loin is the BEST way to eat pork chops in my opinion.
1/2 tsp dried parsley

Directions:
For easiest preparation: Cook pork loin in crock pot on high for 3 hours. About 10mins before serving, cook couscous. Heat 1 Tbs olive oil over med-high heat. Add bell peppers and asparagus; season with salt and pepper. Cook until crisp-tender, about 8 mins. Cover until ready to serve. Stir parsley into couscous and serve with pork and veggies.

You can also cook the pork in the fry pan with 1 Tbs oil. This takes about 5-10mins.

Link ups http://orgjunkie.com/2012/09/menu-plan-monday-sept-1012.html

Week of Sep 10

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Yesterday, we spent the day at our new house finishing up some low voltage wiring for our security and audio system. It's been such a great lesson in DIY projects. Even though we haven't even moved I have learned a couple things: 1) A project is never completed with just one trip to the home improvement store. 2) It takes longer than planned. 3) It costs more than planned. Okay, well I know with better planning and experience I'm sure we can budget costs more effectively and have better time management. 

Even though it was a long day, we had a fun night and went and saw Spiderman. It was waay better than the older Tobey Mcguire one. My only complaint was that Spiderman looked too much like an ex...

This week is going to be great though! My schedule includes a trip to Ikea, yay, hopefully grabbing some great goods at Gap during their 40% kids and baby sale, packing the master bedroom, living and dining room, and the rest of Eliza's toys. I'm also planning on running a couple times and doing my 15 ab workout. Here's for a great week!























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Recipe Review: Oreo Truffle Brownies

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Oreo Truffle Brownies--via Chef in Training
Doesn't the pic look incredible? Well, I wasn't too impressed by how they tasted. They were good, but not THE BEST, you know what I mean? I liked the oreo cream cheese layer the best, but the brownie part wasn't awesome. I would take your own favorite brownie recipe and then layer the cream cheese and oreos on top and then this recipe would ROCK.

Well, that's my two sense. What other recipes have you made that looked awesome but didn't taste to expectation?

Cajun Chicken Pasta

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This morning I've decided I'm not going to pack. It's been such a crazy week that I am going to do something fun. I don't know how any one else has packed up their house; but I put together this little schedule:
Sept 4: pack bathrooms
Sept 5: pack Eliza's room
Sept 6: pack books
Sept 7: pack storage
Sept 10: pack Master closet
Sept 11: pack Master
Sept 12: Pack living and dining
Sept 14: Pack toys
Sept 17: Pack kitchen
Sept 18: Pack pantry
Sept 19: Clean kitchen
Sept 20: clean storage and refrigerator
Sept 21: Clean light fixtures and baseboards, doors, windows and bathrooms
Sept 22: move! finish cleaning; vacuum, spot clean carpet

Any tips anyone has for making moving super successful and less stressful? I bought different colored duct tape for each room and all the boxes are marked for which space they are going. I just had to have a reason to buy the colored duct tape. It's so fun. 

Tonight's dinner is yes, another PW recipe. I swear each of you need to buy her cookbooks and then follow her blog because she makes such scrumptious recipes. This pasta has become my fave spicy pasta. Just don't substitute cream for strawberry Greek yogurt...and you should be good.

Cajun Chicken Pasta--via The Pioneer Woman
Prep Time: 10mins Cook Time: 15mins 
Serves 6


Ingredients

  • 3 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, Cut Into Cubes
  • 3 teaspoons Cajun Spice Mix, More To Taste
  • 1 pound Fettuccine
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1 whole Green Bell Pepper, Seeded And Sliced
  • 1 whole Red Bell Pepper, Seeded And Sliced
  • 1/2 whole Large Red Onion, Sliced
  • 3 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 4 whole Roma Tomatoes, Diced
  • 2 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
  • 1/2 cup White Wine I didn't use this and it still is soo yummy
  • 1 cup Heavy Cream
  • Cayenne Pepper To Taste
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper, To Taste
  • Salt To Taste
  • Chopped Fresh Parsley, To Taste

Preparation Instructions

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain when pasta is still al dente; do not overcook!
Sprinkle 1 1/2 teaspoons Cajun spice over chicken pieces. Toss around to coat. Heat 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a heavy skillet over high heat. Add half the chicken in a single layer; do not stir. Allow chicken to brown on one side, about 1 minute. Flip to the other side and cook an additional minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a clean plate.
Repeat with remaining chicken. Remove chicken, leaving pan on high heat.
Add remaining olive oil and butter. When heated, add peppers, onions, and garlic. Sprinkle on remaining Cajun spice, and add salt if needed. Cook over very high heat for 1 minute, stirring gently and trying to get the vegetables as dark/black as possible. Add tomatoes and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Remove all vegetables from the pan.
With the pan over high heat, pour in the wine and chicken broth. Cook on high for 3 to 5 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Reduce heat to medium-low and pour in cream, stirring/whisking constantly. Cook sauce over medium-low heat for a few minutes, until cream starts to thicken the mixture. Taste and add freshly ground black pepper, cayenne pepper, and/or salt to taste. Sauce should be spicy!
Finally, add chicken and vegetables to sauce, making sure to include all the juices that have drained onto the plate. Stir and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until mixture is bubbly and hot. Add drained fettuccine and toss to combine.