Thursday, June 30, 2011

Where have I been?

I just realized I haven't posted since Sunday! Oops!

So what have I been doing?

Reading....resting.....enjoying time with my husband. See, my kids are on vacation. Without us. And I've realized just how very much I need their chatter and noise to make my day complete.

Oh, I've enjoyed the time to myself. When they return, I'll be ready and recharged!

While I'm missing them, they are hanging out by the pool and eating Cheetos.

And hiking through the West Virginia wilderness.

Not to mention eating some good food!

I'm glad they're having so much fun and making some great memories. Now I'm just counting down the days until they get home!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Menu Plan June 26 - July 2

Do you hear that? The quiet?

It's the sound of my house without children. Mr. Lego and the Princess have gone to West Virginia to spend two weeks with my parents. It's a necessary part of summer for them, my folks included! So they're getting spoiled and having fun and Charles and I get some wonderful alone time.

This week's menu is going to include some dishes the kids don't particularly like. They'll eat almost anything, but Indian butter chicken isn't a favorite of theirs, though it is one of ours. What better time to fix it than when they're enjoying Grandma's home cooking?

Here's the plan:

Leftovers from last week's grill night

Ladies Night Out at church, pizza for the menfolk


Indian butter chicken over rice

Green chile enchiladas

Lentil sausage soup

Out to eat

For more meal planning inspiration, visit Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Southwestern Bean Salad

If you need a fabulous summer dish to take to a cookout or potluck, this yummy bean salad is for you! Plan ahead because it needs to chill. The longer it sits, the better the flavors blend together, so make this the night before if you can. This tasty dish also doubles as a dip for tortilla chips - my favorite way to eat it!

Feel free to adjust the spices to your family's tastes!

Here's what you'll need:
1 can black beans
1 can cannellini beans
1 can dark red kidney beans
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
1/2 cup chopped green or red pepper
1/2 cup chopped onion (red onions are really pretty in this dish)
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 TBSP sugar
1 TBSP lemon juice
1 TBSP lime juice
2 teas cumin
2 teas dried parsley
1 teas garlic powder
1 teas chili powder
1 teas sea salt
1/2 teas black pepper

Drain and rinse all the beans.

Mix the remaining ingredients in a measuring cup.

In a large bowl, combine the beans, corn, pepper and onion. Pour the dressing over the bowl and stir gently to mix.

Aren't all those colors lovely?

Cover and refrigerate until time to serve.

For more yummy recipes, head over to Miz Helen's Full Plate Thursday.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Homemade Barbecue Sauce

I'm trying to make more convenience items from scratch, and I've played with some BBQ sauce recipes. It's been really hard for me, because I love Sweet Baby Ray's. But this recipe tastes very similar and I'm satisfied with it!

It couldn't be simpler. Just stir the ingredients together and simmer!

Here's what you need:

2 cans (15 oz each) tomato sauce
1/3 cup molasses
1/3 cup white vinegar
2 TBSP brown sugar
1 TBSP mustard
1 1/2 teas garlic powder
1 1/2 teas onion powder
1 teas sea salt
1/2 teas chili powder
liquid smoke, adjusted to taste

Whisk all the ingredients together in a saucepan. Cover and simmer for an hour or more, stirring occasionally. Adjust seasonings to taste. Cool and store in the fridge.

I put my sauce in squeeze bottles for ease of use. Mr. Lego loves BBQ with fries or chicken nuggets and on sandwiches. This sauce wins his stamp of approval!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summer Time Treats that won't heat up your kitchen!

With temps staying in the 90's most days, I dread turning on the oven to make treats for the kids. So I turn to no bake or frozen desserts to keep things cool around here. Here are a few of them:

No Bake Granola Bars - great for a summer trip or picnic!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Treats - chocolate and peanut butter. Need I say more?

No Bake Cookies
- an old favorite that can't be beat!

Chocolate Banana Pops - so good and refreshing! Healthy, too.

White Chocolate Berry Pie - take advantage of fresh berries for this yummy dessert!

Chocolate Mint Freeze - saving the best for last! Like a fudgesicle on a plate with a minty twist.

Keeping my kitchen cool in the summer works for me. For more helpful tips, visit We are THAT Family's Works for Me Wednesday.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Menu Plan June 19-25

This week my niece and her husband are coming to visit. They'll be here tomorrow, then we're all going to Six Flags on Tuesday. I'm not sure what their plans are for the rest of the time they're here, but I've got a good, easy menu planned.

Here's what I've got:

BBQ chicken in the crockpot, Cajun potato salad, apple coffee cake (requested by my husband)

Sandwich night - a variety of meats and cheeses with different types of bread

Six Flags and leftover sandwiches

Spaghetti and meatballs, garlic bread

Grilled chicken and brats, potatoes, sweet cornbread

Pizza night - BBQ chicken pizza, meat pizza, cheese pizza

Wedding reception for friends

For more great meal planning ideas, head over to Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.

Happy Father's Day to my Dad!

I'm so thankful for the father the Lord gave me. He's not perfect, but he has been a great example of godliness and generosity. He loved me enough to say no when it was necessary but tried to give me and my brothers a good life. He made sure we were in church and doing right. He taught us the value of hard work by working hard himself. He rose early to read his Bible and spend time in prayer. I know that a lot of that prayer time was for his children and now his grandchildren. I really can't put into words how much he means to me.

I love you, Dad!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Crockpot Hot Fudge Cake

When I was growing up, my mom made a wonderful hot fudge cake for special occasions. Click here to see the recipe. But in the summer heat, I try to avoid turning the oven on as much as possible. So no delicious hot fudge cake.

Until.....I discovered a similar recipe for the crockpot! Oh, yes! You can make this gooey chocolate delight without heating up the kitchen. It doesn't make as much as my mom's recipe, but it does serve 6-8 people.

Here's what you need:

1 3/4 cup brown sugar, divided
1 cup flour
5 TBSP cocoa, divided
2 teas baking powder
1/2 teas salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teas vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1 3/4 cup boiling water

In a large bowl, combine 1 cup of the brown sugar, flour, 3 TBSP of the cocoa, baking powder and salt.

Stir in the milk and vanilla until moistened.

Transfer to a greased crockpot - I use a small one. I think it's 3-quarts. Sprinkle with the chocolate chips and nuts.

Spread the remaining brown sugar and cocoa over the top.

Pour the boiling water over all. Do not stir. The nuts will float to the top. That's okay.

Cover and cook on low for 3-4 hours. The cake will pull away from the sides when it is done.

Scoop out of the crockpot and serve with ice cream.

The pudding that develops as the cake cooks is amazingly delicious! It's thick and gooey and wonderful. I love how easy this is and how it keeps my kitchen cool.

For more yummy recipes, visit Miz Helen's Full Plate Thursday.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Chicken on a Stick

I was watching an old Barefoot Contessa episode and watched Ina Garten fry up some chicken then skewer it. I thought it was a neat idea, even though I'm not much of a fryer myself. But it would be an interesting way to serve chicken and I figured the kids would like it.

I figured right! I changed the recipe a little and made my chicken skewers smaller than Ina's. But I give her credit for the inspiration to create these crispy chicken strips.

Here's what you'll need:

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup flour
2 teas sea salt
1 teas garlic powder
1/2 teas pepper
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs (I used panko crumbs and added Italian seasoning)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
wooden skewers

Slice the chicken breasts into strips. I got 4 strips out of two, 3 strips out of the other which was smaller.

Combine the flour, salt, garlic powder and pepper in a paper plate. Place the beaten eggs into another paper plate. Mix the bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese in another.

Coat each chicken strip first in flour.

Then dip into the egg.

And finally coat in the bread crumbs.

Heat some oil in a skillet. Fry the chicken strips until golden, turning once. You might need to do this in batches. Add more oil to the skillet as needed.

To keep the chicken strips warm until all of them are cooked, place on a baking sheet in a 200 degree oven.

Carefully thread the skewers through the fried strips.

Enjoy! Mr. Lego certainly did!

We used barbecue sauce, honey mustard dressing and ranch dressing as dipping sauces. Yum!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Menu Plan June 12-18

I didn't post much of anything last week. Our upstairs AC unit wasn't working properly, causing the temp upstairs to remain around 80 degrees. I don't sleep well when it's hot, so needless to say, last week was far from restful. But thank the Lord, the repair guys came on Saturday and fixed the problem with no trouble. And last night I slept like a log. Or so Charles told me. I don't remember because I was too busy catching up on lost sleep!

Another added blessing this weekend - it rained! Friday, Saturday and Sunday! I think the total amount was less than 1/2 inch, but it cooled things down a bit. After two straight weeks of near-100 degrees, I'm thankful for any bit of cool we can get!

Now on to this week's menu:

Balsamic Garlic Chicken, brown rice, bean salad

Coriander salmon, sesame broccoli

Southwestern steak salad, cheese bread

Skinny Chicken Tikka Masala, rice

Dinner at friends

Chicken stuffed shells, mashed potatoes

Philly cheesesteak sandwiches, fries

For more yummy menu plan ideas, head over to Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Mondays.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

No Bake Cookies

It's been too hot to turn on the oven but we were craving some homemade sweets. I turned to an old favorite recipe - No Bake Cookies!

I've eaten these things for as long as I can remember. My elementary school even served them for lunch in the cafeteria. They showed up regularly in our house while I was growing up, too.

And best of all, they're no bake! No turning the oven on! Perfect for this heat wave we've been enduring.

Here's what you need:

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 1/2 cups quick oats
2 teas vanilla

In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Stir in the sugar, milk and cocoa. Whisk until smooth.

Bring to a boil. Get a timer ready because it's very important to cook this for exactly 1 and a half minutes.

It's starting to bubble nicely. But not boiling. We want a full rolling boil before we start the timer.

Now we're talking!

Start timing at this point.

When the time is up, remove from the heat and add the peanut butter and vanilla. I just love this Pampered Chef measuring cup for peanut butter. It shoves it all right out into the pan! Keep stirring until the peanut butter has melted into the chocolate mixture.

Stir in the oats. Drop by spoonfuls onto waxed paper and allow to harden. It is so hard to leave them alone while they're cooling!

Store in an airtight container. You don't want them to dry out!

I simply adore eating these! They bring back so many good memories! How about you? Do you have a special treat that takes you back to your childhood?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Menu Plan June 5-11

Dear heavens, last week was a scorcher here in the Deep South! For four days straight we endured record-breaking high temps. It's about 10-15 degrees warmer than average for this time of year! We're getting August temps in early June.

To beat the heat, I try to keep the oven off as much as possible or do my baking early in the day. I have also positioned a little fan on the counter by the stove so as I'm cooking, I've got a nice breeze. That tiny little fan has been a lifesaver for me!

Now on to this week's menu:

Chicken tostadas (chicken done in the crockpot)

Beef and broccoli stir fry, rice

Tuna melts on the stove, green beans

Turkey kabobs on the George Foreman, pan roasted veggies

Grilled chicken, smashed potatoes on the grill

Quesadillas, Mexican rice

Grilled hot dogs, corn on the cob

For more yummy menu plan ideas, check out Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Happy Birthday, Honey!

Today is my husband's 40th birthday. No one believes he's actually 40, though. He looks (and acts) much younger!

He doesn't care to be reminded about his age - which is why I'm blogging about it! But I'm thankful for each year the Lord has given him, especially the last 13.

Love you, babe!