Friday, November 22, 2013

Roasted Red Pepper Pasta

I apologize for this picture. I really, really struggle with the lighting in our new house. It is the main reason most meals never get shared here anymore. It's just so tough to take a decent picture!

Anyway, I decided to give this Pioneer Woman recipe a shot after I saw it on Food Network. I was impressed by how quick and easy it was, but I was really NOT convinced that I would like it. It turned out that my entire crew loved it. It is GREAT.

Here is the recipe,

1 lb box of Rigatoni (I actually used about 20 oz, so we'd have leftovers.)
4 tbs butter
1/2 white onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 jar of roasted red peppers
1 cup chicken broth (I used water and buillion)
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/2 cup of milk or cream
1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese
Fresh basil, oregano, parsley (whatever you have)

Cook pasta as directed and strain.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat in a skillet. Add the onions and garlic until the onion is transparent. Then, add peppers until they are warmed through.

Carefully transfer the pepper mixture to the blender and blend (leaving some chunks.)

Add the other 2 tablespoons of butter to the skillet. Pour in the pepper puree and stir in the broth, salt and pepper and cream (or milk.) Once the sauce is incorporated, drain the pasta and toss it with the sauce. Top with Parmesan and fresh herbs. YUM!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Sweet Potato Casserole

We recently had my parents over for a steak cookout lunch, and I decided sweet potato casserole sounded like the perfect side! My mom has always made Boston Market's version, but I am really not a fan. It's SO bad for you, and I always think it's a little watery. (Maybe because she boils the potatoes?) I tried this version from The Pioneer Woman, and we absolutely thought it was great!

4 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 3/4 pounds)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup milk
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
Bake sweet potatoes for 45 minutes at 375 until potatoes are fork tender. Once the potatoes have cooled enough to handle, scrape the flesh in to a mixing bowl. Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees F.

Add the granulated sugar, milk, eggs, vanilla and salt to the bowl with the sweet potatoes. Mash ingredients together until they are incorporated but the potatoes are still lumpy.

Now, in a separate bowl, mash the brown sugar, pecans, flour and butter with a pastry cutter or fork until thoroughly combined. The mixture should resemble a crumble.(I actually melted the butter and mixed. I do my crisps the same way, and I actually prefer it that way. I think it gives the butter more even distribution.)

Spread the sweet potato mixture in a 14-cup oval-shaped baking dish and sprinkle the crumb mixture all over the top. Bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Angel Icing

When I was a kid, my mom used to always make angel food cake with this fluffy whipped frosting. It has been YEARS since she made it, but she needed to whip up a cake quickly for my daughter's fifth birthday. For some reason angel food with this easy frosting came to mind.

It's so easy! It's just a 12 oz (the big one) tub of Cool Whip with a small box of Jello Pudding mixed in! 

And it even looks pretty!

As we were discussing how good this frosting STILL is, we were talking about how many different Jello Pudding mixes there are from the "dark ages" (ie the 80s) when she used to make it. One of these days I'm going to test out some of the other flavors -- Pistachio? Pumpkin? Oreo Cream? Can you even go wrong???

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Lemon Meringue S'mores

We had a little a little back to school party tonight, and it was super fun! I "borrowed" an idea from Pinterest to make Lemon Meringue S'Mores by subbing lemon curd for the usual chocolate. OMG. So good! I'm usually not a fan of S'mores because, even as much as I like sweets, they are too sweet! But...I can get in to Lemon Meringue S'mores. Delicious!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Lemon and Basil Ricotta Stuffed Shells

I've been really bored by the stuff that we "usually"eat lately, so I've been trying some new variations of old favorites. My husband LOVES stuffed shells, but my kids tend to resist marinara sauce. (I know, weird kids!) I saw a recipe for lemon and ricotta stuffed shells on Pinterest, so I decided to give it a try using my own favorite recipes. My husband and kids really liked it. We thought it was a nice, fresh switch for summer! This is how I made it,

Ingredients for Filling -

1 big tub of cottage cheese (I used cottage cheese for affordability purposes!)
1 8 oz bag Italian blend cheese
About a half cup of Parmesan cheese (grated or shredded)
Zest of one lemon
Fresh basil to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

Sauce Ingredients -

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk (I used 2%.)
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese (grated or shredded)
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
Zest of one lemon (Plus juice if desired. We thought it was a little too lemony with the juice!)
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions -

Mix all of your filling ingredients together in a big bowl. (Reserve a little Italian and/or Parmesan for the top!) Set filling aside while shell noodles boil to "al dente" as directed. While your noodles boil, add 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of flour to a sauce pan. Stir together as the butter melts. Then, stir in milk and warm through. Next, melt in cream cheese and Parmesan. (If your sauce is not think enough, you can stir a little sauce and flour together in a separate cup and add back to the sauce pan for thickening.) Once the sauce is smooth, stir in garlic powder, zest and lemon juice (if desired) and stir. Then, ladle a thin layer of sauce over the bottom of a 9x13 pan. Now that the noodles have cooled slightly, gentle spoon in the filling and place each shell in the pan so they are touching. Once the pan is full, ladle the remaining sauce over the noodles. Top with additional grated Parmesan and/or shredded Italian cheese and bake covered at 350 for about 40 minutes or until bubbly. Remove the foil and bake for another 5 or 10 minutes until browned on top. Cool for 15 minutes and sprinkle with fresh basil. Voila!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Oven Baked Tacos

I've seen this baked taco thing several times on Pinterest. The thing that I like about tacos is that they are fast and easy. The thing I DON'T like about tacos is frantically stuffing them while little people eat them faster than I can get them on the table. For both reasons, I thought I should give the baked tacos a shot!

Overall, we really liked them! My oldest daughter and I stuffed and baked them together. While the tacos were in the oven, we got the veggies ready and cleaned up the kitchen. Then, we took them out of the oven to let them cool while we waited for Daddy to get home from work. No more frantic taco making! Instead, we were all about to sit together at the table, and the big girls were able to stuff their tacos on their own. I also really enjoyed the semi-crunchy shell, and the leftovers held up well! Hurray!

Here is how we made them!

Ingredients -

14 fajita sized tortillas
1 lb of ground beef
1 can of refried beans
1/2 cup enchilada sauce
2 cups cheddar cheese

Directions -

Brown and strain grease off of ground beef. Then, add refried beans and enchilada sauce. Stir until combined and warmed through. Next, carefully place the tacos in a 9x13 pan, so they are pressed against each other but still slightly open. Sprinkle with cheese (generously if you live at our house!) and bake at 375 for 10 minutes. Perfection!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Skinny Cake Batter Dip

Variations of this recipe have definitely made the Pinterest rounds! We really like it, and it is worth sharing, for sure!

I made cake batter dip for the first time quite awhile ago. My kids REALLY like Cool Whip and whipped cream, so I knew it would be a hit with them. Last time I made it, I made it with regular vanilla yogurt, and it was definitely not as impressive. This time, I made it with plain Greek yogurt, and it was awesome. The Greek yogurt gives it more of a cheesecake/cream cheese type flavor and texture. I definitely recommend sticking with the plain Greek yogurt. It is still plenty sweet!

For the 4th, I had planned on making it with red, white and blue funfetti mix, but I had a hard time finding it! I ended up finding it at Aldi at the last minute. I'm definitely going to try to remember that for the future! I know they always have red and green for Christmas too and probably other variations for other holidays too! Wouldn't they be fun for a Halloween or Valentine's Day cake batter dip for a school party???

Here is how I made it...

1 box funfetti cake mix
2 cups fat free, plain Greek yogurt
1 cup Cool Whip
Sprinkles, for garnish (optional)


First, with a whisk, whip Cool Whip and Greek yogurt together until smooth. Then, gently stir in cake mix.


I served mine with animal crackers, but it is awesome with grahams, Nilla wafers, a get it!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Cowboy Caviar

I had Cowboy Caviar for the first time at a wedding a number of years ago. One of my mom's good friends is "famous" for this recipe, actually. When I loved it at the wedding, my mom proudly informed me that she already had her friend's recipe. I've made it for a few things since. It's nice because it makes A LOT. It's perfect for a crowd at a shower, potluck, picnic, whatever. Today I'm taking it to our neighborhood block party and serving it with tortilla chips. You can also serve it as a salad. Actually, I like it wrapped up in a tortilla for a quick lunch too.

Here is the recipe,

Two cans of white shoepeg corn, drained
Two cans of black eyed peas, drained
Two cans of tomatoes with green chiles (I drained, but you probably don't have to.)

Very finely chop and stir in,

1 green bell pepper
1 jalapeno (or more or less for heat)
1/2 yellow onion
2 cloves of garlic
4 green onions (I omitted.)

Then, stir in 1 cup of fat free Italian dresses and 1/4 cup of dried parsley flakes.


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Sherwin Williams Dragonfruit and Friendly Yellow

We're still having all kinds of fun painting around here! (When I say "we," I mean "my husband," of course!) We just finished up the girl's room last night. The yellow is Sherwin Williams Friendly Yellow and the pink is Sherwin Williams Dragonfruit. Here the lighting is all natural light (because the girl's light in their room broke!)We all really love the hot pink! The pictures just don't do it justice. It is very bright and rich but without being obnoxious. It's just SO pretty, and it makes us so happy!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Preschool Popsicles

Anyone who has read this blog for awhile knows that I despise sugary school snacks. (Oh, the dental bills!) I feel like my kids have sugar coming at them in all directions, so I try really hard to deviate from that. As I've gone about the last few years, I've tried to document what I send for my kids preschool snacks, birthday and otherwise, as an alternative to the store bought cupcakes piled high with frosting.

My middle daughter has a summer birthday. I conveniently scheduled her birthday snacks the day before our sweet baby Iris was due. I was pretty miserable, so I had to come up with something VERY easy...something that someone else could pick up at the store even. It ended up that I had a coupon for Outshine popsicles, and they were on sale at the beginning of May too. Now, I know these aren't sugar free, but they are such a great alternative to the usual birthday snacks! I also ended up being able to provide special snacks for easily under $5 for her class of 16.

We were hoping for a beautiful sunny day where the kids could celebrate Aurelia's birthday outside, which is where she loves to be the most! It didn't happen, but she let me know that the kids all still had a great time and enjoyed their treats!

Happy Early Birthday, Aurelia!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Lemon Poppyseed Noodles

This is a really easy, no brainer of a side dish! My mom used to make poppyseed noodles all the time when I was a kid. Tonight, we had mango barbecue chicken, fresh summer veggies and these noodles, and I discovered that I still love them as much as I always have!

Here is the recipe!

Ingredients -

1 lb of noodles, prepared as directed
3-4 tablespoons of butter
1 tablespoon of poppyseeds (or more or less)
1 teaspoon of lemon zest

Directions -

Prepare noodles as directed. Drain and stir in butter until it is completely melted. Then, stir in poppyseed and lemon zest. Serve warm or room temperature.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Introducing Baby Iris!

It's a little overdue, but I'm happy to report that our sweetest little, Iris Arabella, has arrived! 

In fact, she's 15 days old now! We are absolutely thrilled with our new baby sister, and we feel so blessed to finally have her here and healthy. God is good! 

And now...we tackle life...on a major budget...with four kids seven under! Are we having fun yet???

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Mint Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

A few weeks ago, I ran across this recipe for Mint Chocolate Chip Cupcakes on Pinterest, and I thought it would be perfect for my husband's birthday. I'm normally not a fan of making cupcakes. I think they're a little bit of a pain, but these looked worth it! Oh my gosh, were TOTALLY worth it! My husband's family expects me to go all out dessert-wise when we get together, and everyone loved these! They really were very easy too, especially since I "cheated" and used a boxed cake mix. (Seriously though, is that really cheating??? Why wouldn't you use a boxed cake mix??? Who can really tell the difference???)

Here is the recipe,

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes -

1 box of Dark Chocolate Cake Mix

Mint Chocolate Chip Frosting -

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3-4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons half and half
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure mint extract
  • 2 drops green food coloring
  • a pinch of salt (Don't omit this! It really made a difference in the flavor!)
  • 2/3 cup mini chocolate chips

    Instructions -

    1. Prepare and bake the cake mix as instructed for cupcakes. Cool completely.

    2. Beat softened butter with a hand mixer. Slowly add the powdered sugar and mix in the half and half, mint extract, green food coloring and salt. Beat for 2 or 3 minutes. If the frosting is too thin add more sugar. If the frosting is too thick add, a little more half and half. You can also add more mint extract and/or green coloring to adjust the flavor and color if necessary.

    We really enjoyed this recipe, and I would definitely make it again. I think it would be a fun addition to a bake sale or a kid's party of any kind. It's not that much harder than using a prepared frosting, but it is so much more impressive!

    Saturday, May 11, 2013

    Martha Stewart Aegean Blue

    It's been a long time since I shared a picture of our new house and paint colors! We've been on a REALLY LONG painting hiatus due to my pregnancy, but we're back at it! I'm still a crazy Google Image-r as I've been considering paint colors, so I'm just returning the favor. The blue is Martha Stewart's Aegean Blue from Home Depot in the afternoon natural light of the room. Don't ask me what the paneling is. (Well, it's ugly!) We thought it was white until we painted the blue and realized it's very off white. We have the same color on paneling and molding through our whole first floor, so it will have to do for now!

    We also painted our office and son's bedroom in Aegean Blue. Next, we'll be moving on to our kitchen, family room, entryway, hallway and two little girl's rooms. Stay tuned! You can see Sherwin Williams Baize Green in one of our upstairs bathrooms here.

    Saturday, May 4, 2013

    Updating My Mom's Sloppy Joe Recipe...

    My mom is a really good cook. Like really good. I made her Sloppy Joe recipe for the first time a few months ago, and my peeps really liked it. My middle daughter is the pickiest, and she liked it the most. A winning recipe for sure!

    I realized it would be super easy to sneak some veggies in to it, so the last time I made it I did just that. Here is my updated receipt from my mom's original.

    Ingredients -

    1 cup chopped onion
    4 lbs hamburger

    Brown and drain. Then add,

    14 oz of ketchup
    1 cup water
    1/2 cup finely diced celery
    1/2 cup shredded carrots
    1/2 cup finely diced green pepper
    2T brown sugar
    1T worsteshire sauce
    2 tsp vinegar
    Juice of 1 lemon
    1/2 tsp dry mustard
    salt and pepper to taste

    Simmer for about 30 minutes until the sauce is thick! Serve and enjoy!

    Saturday, March 30, 2013

    He is Risen!

    Happy Easter!

    From My "Peeps" to Yours!!!

    Sunday, March 10, 2013

    Frugal Party Favors -- Strawberry Grow Kits!

    I have to admit, I'm feeling pretty genius about this one! My daughter had her first big friend party for her 7th birthday yesterday, and I really struggled with the idea of party favors. The party was already not budget friendly, and I just did not have the cash to do much of anything -- especially for 15 kids. That, and I especially am not a fan of party favor bags filled with candy and cheap plastic toys. Yuck.

    So the story on these is that Target usually has these "grow kits" (these are strawberries) in their dollar spot from about Valentine's Day through midsummer. There are usually several varieties, which is really fun. For my daughter, I chose strawberries. My daughter's friends and the parents were very excited to go home and plant their new strawberries!

    These actually come in a pretty wide variety. I've also shamrocks, forget me nots and various herbs. The variety makes these really great favors for just about any kind of party. They would even be great for a wedding, and at a $1 a pop, you pretty much can't beat the price. Have fun with this one!

    Saturday, February 9, 2013

    Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells

    I'm taking a hiatus from absence to post a new recipe! Life has just been nuts here, and on top of the normal chaos of having 3 kids six and under, my oven has been broken since early-November! I know!!!!!!!!!!! Anyway, that explains my lack of new recipes!

    Regardless, my new oven was installed yesterday!

    Umm, pretty fabulous right? I'm actually pretty stoked our old one broke. The price of a new double oven is heart attack worthy. I ended up with $1,500 from our home owner's warranty towards the new one, and I'm SO thankful! I would have just diiiiiiiiiiiiiiied if we had to pay 100% out of pocket for a new one here in a few months!

    So anyway, I had to make a new recipe in my new oven today! I've been in a major rut, but I forced myself to branch out. I had butternut squash ravioli on a business trip over the summer, and it was AMAZING! I decided to give these shells a whirl, and they were pretty darn good. Here is my adapted recipe,


    20 jumbo shells

    for filling,

    2 1/2 cups cubed butternut squash (I used the pre-cut steam in bag kind from the produce section)
    1 teaspoon olive oil
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon pepper
    1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
    2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    1 garlic clove, minced
    2 tablespoons cream cheese
    2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

    for bechamel,

    2 tablespoons butter
    2 tablespoons flour
    2 cups milk (I used 2%)
    1 cup of Parmesan (I was winging it here. The original recipe didn't mention how much or what kind!)
    1/4 pinch of nutmeg
    salt & pepper to taste

    for topping,

    1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
    1/3 cup mozzarella cheese

    1. To begin with, steam butternut squash. (I did mine in the microwave. It took forever, and was never as soft as I would have liked!)

    2. While your butternut squash is steaming, prepare your shells as directed on the box.

    3. Once the squash is very soft and while it is still hot, whip with a hand mixer. Then, mix in the butter, cheeses and spices.

    3. Prepare your bechamel by starting with melted butter. You can let it brown a little, then stir in 2 tbs of flour. Once this has warmed through, stir in 2 cups of milk. As soon as the milk is hot, melt in your cheese and stir in the spices. Coat the bottom of your baking dish with a thin layer of sauce.

    4. Once your noodles and squash have cooled a little, fill each shell with the butternut squash mixture and place in your baking dish. Then, you can top with the remaining bechamel and cheese.

    5. Bake at 400 degrees until the cheese is brown and bubbly



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