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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Delightfully sinful snack, well... maybee not so sinful :)

So most of my friends know that I am a big time Aldi shopper. Over the past few weeks they have had great strawberries at a great price ($1.19 per Pound). Now, strawberries are not my favorite to just eat by themselves due to their slightly tart nature but I found a solution! I made a few variations on a cream cheese dip for them.

Version 1 (not the healthiest)
2 ounces of 1/3 lees fat creme cheesed
2-3 Tablespoons of powdered sugar or to taste
1/4 Teaspoon vanilla

Warm Cream cheese for 10-20 seconds in Microwave or until spreadable but not hot. Mix in powdered sugar and vanilla.

Wash 5-6 strawberries, cut off tops and cube or slice berries.

Layer berries and cream cheese mixture into a bowl. Enjoy!

Version 2 (slightly healthier version)
1 ounce cream cheese
1/3 cup vanilla yogurt

Warm Cream cheese slightly and whisk with yogurt. Layer with washed berries.

Version 3 The healthiest way to go...
Layer washed berries with vanilla yogurt :)

want to make it even better?

Add some sliced banana and drizzle some warmed Nutella on top MMM....

I was amazed how full I was after eating this.
If you really love a cheesecake type flavor version 1 is for you. I like that and version 2 VERY much!

Considering I have a serious sweet tooth I was really happy with this snack. I tried not to "drown" the berries in the creme so I would not counteract all the strawberry goodness.

How will you treat yourself this week?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Orange Chicken

Do you love Chinese food? My family does but between the expense and the MSG it is not something we indulge in very often. So I was super excited to make this Orange Chicken this week. It hit the spot and I was in heaven while eating this! If you like oriental food this is definitely for you. I must say this rivaled any Oriental restaurant food I have ever had! My one Best part was everyone LOVED it :)

Sorry I do not have a Picture to share. It was a super busy night and I just needed to get everyone fed.

Here is the Printable: Asian Orange Chicken

1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons orange juice (I had Cuties on hand. I zested 1 used 3 for the juice)
1/4 cup lemon or lime juice (I used lime)
2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger root
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons chopped green onion
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional) I left it out
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons water


2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3 tablespoons olive oil
   If you want to bread the chicken you will also need
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper


  This is how I made it...
If you do not want to bread the chicken do it this way:

  1. Pour 1 1/2 cups water, orange juice, lemon juice, rice vinegar, and soy sauce into a saucepan and set over medium-high heat. Stir in the orange zest, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, chopped onion, and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil until thickened, about 10 minutes. 
  2. While the sauce boils dice your chicken and heat oil in a pan, add chicken to the pan and cook until chicken is browned on all sides. 
  3. Add sauce to chicken
  4. Add corn starch to water to make a slurry, add cornstarch slurry to chicken and sauce. Cook until sauce thickens about, about 10 minutes
  5. Serve over fried or white rice.

If you want the chicken breaded do it this way...

  1. Pour 1 1/2 cups water, orange juice, lemon juice, rice vinegar, and soy sauce into a saucepan and set over medium-high heat. Stir in the orange zest, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, chopped onion, and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat, and cool 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Place the chicken pieces into a resealable plastic bag. When contents of saucepan have cooled, pour 1 cup of sauce into bag. Reserve the remaining sauce. Seal the bag, and refrigerate at least 2 hours.
  3. In another resealable plastic bag, mix the flour, salt, and pepper. Add the marinated chicken pieces, seal the bag, and shake to coat.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Place chicken into the skillet, and brown on both sides. Drain on a plate lined with paper towels, and cover with aluminum foil.
  5. Wipe out the skillet, and add the sauce. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Mix together the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons water; stir into the sauce. Reduce heat to medium low, add the chicken pieces, and simmer, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
This recipe is very adaptable to your personal preferences.
For the rice you can use any combination of whatever rice you like. Cooked cooled rice works best for fried rice. I either cook mine the night before or in the morning and let it cool in the fridge.  Our favorite is a blend of basmati and brown rice. You can add cooked diced chicken or beef as well as any other vegetables you like.
3 cups of cooked rice
3 slices of bacon (diced)
1 medium onion diced
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
2-3 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 Tbsp oyster sauce
1 carrot, finely diced or Julienned
1/2 cup peas
1 egg (optional)

Cook Bacon in pan you will cook rice in.
When the bacon is just about done add diced onion and cook until it is translucent.
Add sesame oil, push onion and bacon to the side. Add egg and scramble.
When egg is cooked mix together with bacon and onion,
Add rice, oyster and soy sauce. Stir rice continually until all ingredients are mixed well.
Add Peas, stir to mix well. Add carrots, continue to stir/toss rice.

Helpful equipment: Wok, Stir Fry pan or Large Skillet

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Meal plan 4/22 - 4/28

Sunday - Glazed meatloaf
Monday - Orange chicken w/ fried rice NEW
Tuesday - Grilled Burgers w/grilled potatoes
Wednesday - Kielbasa w/ peppers & onions
Thursday - Tater tot hot dish
Friday - Chicken enchiladas (filling for this is leftover from last weeks grilled chicken tacos. I will just add some cooked rice to the filling)
Saturday - Grilled steak... I need something no fuss and easy since I will be busy hosting my Pampered Chef show :) I am sooo excited!

On my list to try this week... Home Made yogurt... I have been doing lots of reading so we will see what happens :)

Best Glazed Meatloaf I Have Ever Eaten

I love meatloaf, always have, but I struggle with making meatloaf with good full flavor. I never make it the same way twice so  I have been searching for recipes. While I love Ree the PW I do not like her meatloaf recipe. So sorry Ree! I have found a Crock pot recipe that is pretty good and have made multiple times Here is that recipe Mary's Meatloaf .  While watching my much loved PBS cooking shows last weekend Bridget made a glazed meatloaf that looked good and not to putzy. I normally do not like glazed meatloaf because in my experience the top it just slimy and mushy. I must say that this recipe is really good! It did take a bit of time to assemble but I made enough for 2 dinners :) The glaze tasted great and was caramelized beautifully! Here is the recipe Glazed Meatloaf from Cooks Country

*UPDATE *  I have changed the basic recipe just a bit to reflect how I make it.  here is my printable...

To make cleanup easier I lined a large sheet pan with foil and placed an oven safe cooling rack on top. I then put a smaller piece of foil on top of the rack and poked a bunch of holes in the foil so grease could run off. (I hate grease soaked meatloaf!) It worked well. They still needed to be washed but it was not too bad considering

If you do not like Thyme you may need to decrease the amount of that herb. It was a tiny bit too much for me. I did not use all the glaze on the loaf. Next time I will either use it all or cook what is left in a pot on the stove to serve with the meatloaf. We all really liked the taste of this.It is a keeper in my book and I will make it this way again.

I hope you like it too!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Guess what I made today?

I almost cannot believe I actually made it and guess what? It was not very hard!

I made…. Mozzarella cheese! Even better it was ready to eat in about 30 minutes! 

Best part… it only cost me about 3$ to make what would equal 3-4 balls of fresh mozzarella from the grocery store.

Here is what mine looked like just before I started to strain it

Here is the finished product :)

it is YUMMY too!

So I made myself a pizza for lunch :)

Is it OK if I admit I feel like a "Homemade superstar" today?  

What will you try next?

I am going to try to make Ricotta out of the leftover Whey (which there is a TON of!)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

What we ate last week and this weeks plan

Time got away from me last week so I never posted last week’s dinner plan. Here is what we ate last week.
Sunday …  Easter ham I saved .50 a LB and got the same cut as the Spiral Ham I normally get from Aldi and looked up a glaze recipe. Basic Ham glaze
Monday…  I was under the weather so I caved and we had frozen Pizza from Aldi
Tuesday…Scalloped Potatoes and Ham A-la The Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond
Wednesday… Rush hour Chicken Fajitas One of my favorite recipes from my time as a Pampered Chef consultant. Every Busy mom needs this recipe!
Thursday… Sloppy Joe’s
Friday… Pork Chops w/roasted sweet potato wedges
Saturday… Burgers on the grill w/ Loaded baked potato Salad

And here is the plan for this week…4/15/12 - 4/21/12
Sunday …  Whole Chicken roasted in the Crockpot
Monday…  Cheeseburger Macaroni
Tuesday… Shredded Chicken Hard Tacos courtesy of Nick at Macheesmo
Wednesday… Pulled Pork (not totally sure of how I will prepare this yet except it will be in the Crockpot
Thursday…  Tortellini bites (basically served with a Parmesan and butter sauce)
Friday… Pizza
Saturday… Meatloaf, I saw a great episode of Cooks country this weekend and I want to try out their recipe.


So sorry I have not had a chance to type up my Easter bread recipe's I will get to it I promise!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Our Mostly Homemade Easter…

This was one of the most fun and rewarding Easter's I have prepared for my family! Yes it was some extra work but so worth it and well received. I can not tell you how empowering it was last week to walk out of Target only having purchased Starburst jellybeans (with a coupon of course!) and 1 small toy for each child. (the books were purchased from the school book fair) As I looked at the people around me with carts full of pre-packaged treats I just smiled to myself and had faith that my plans would workout.

** Disclaimer... I have nothing against prepackaged treats! I believe in choice. I wanted to try something new. My kids are already hoping the "Easter bunny" will make/bring these awesome treats for them again next year :) What can I say... I'm a lucky wife and mom!

I Love Easter!

Here is the list of things we made...
  Family traditions…
  Hopping Bunny rolls
  Easter Bread
  Colored eggs. I tried the bake in the oven method and was not super happy with it.

New to us…
  Homemade “Cadbury” Crème eggs
  Reese’s eggs with milk, semi sweet and white chocolate
  "Solid" milk and white chocolate eggs with the kids initials on them. I poured my leftover dipping chocolate onto Parchment paper and formed an egg shape. Then made their initials with leftover chips. The Kids LOVED them :)

Breakfast menu...
Easter eggs! I tried the bake in the oven method and was not super happy with it.
Easter Bread,
Hopping bunny rolls
Home made pork sausage

The Recipes…
Homemade Cadbury Crème eggs… These are seriously good!
·         1/2 cup light corn syrup
·         1/4 cup butter, room temperature
·         3 cups confectioner’s powdered sugar (I used ½ organic only because I had it)
·         1 teaspoon vanilla (I used a clear variety)
·         1/4 teaspoon salt
·         yellow food coloring (I made mine a bit more orange to look like farm fresh eggs)
·         1 (12 ounce) bag milk chocolate chips

I followed the instructions here. Homemade Cadbury Creme Eggs
These were pretty easy. Here are my tips and things I learned…
When rolling out centers of eggs it was very helpful to keep my hands dusted with powdered sugar. It was still sticky work but it helped. 
              *Side note I Love my Flour sugar shaker(s) yes plural, I have 4 of them and use them all! What do I have in them? Let me tell you…  cinnamon/sugar blend, flour, powdered sugar & one has baking soda (I use this for cleaning sticky pots/and and for stained counter tops).
Definitely use parchment paper.
I thinned my chocolate with a bit of coconut oil.
I had to do the dipping method since I do not have any molds. 
A small 2 Qt Crockpot works great as a double boiler to keep your chocolate warm.
Take your filling/insides out of the freezer in batches of 5-6.  They get soft quick and the harder they are when you dip them the better!
Let them sit on the counter to set up as long as you can. I rushed mine back into the freezer so the kids would not see them. When I took them out later they had a lot of condensation on them and remained a bit sticky.
Here are some of my production pictures...


I followed these instructions here. homemade peeps how to tutorial and recipe
 Homemade Peeps Recipe:
  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
  • 1/3 cups cold water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
MY Tips...
You definitely need a thermometer that goes to 238 degrees. Mine only went to 220 and I think I over cooked my sugar mixture a bit. I also slightly over whipped my sugar mixture. These set up quick and can be a bit tricky. Here is another good tutorial and I may do it this way next time. I also overfilled my small piping bag. Lesson  learned! Here is how mine looked… 
 I decided toward the end when the marshmallow was setting up fast to make "Peep Nuggets" 
As for taste I liked the blue peeps better because I covered these with sugar I dyed. It is much finer than the store bought Pink colored sugar.

side note... if you let these sit out they will dry out and get stale to the point where they taste a bit like "Circus Peanuts" Candy

 Breakfast Sausage , I’m still perfecting my blend of spices but this is a pretty good start… 
1 lb. ground pork
1 Tbs. fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 Tbs. fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1 Tbs. brown sugar *
1 Tbs. dijon mustard
1/2 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 Tbs. kosher salt
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. grated nutmeg

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Form into eight 2" wide, 1/2" thick patties
*Leave out the brown sugar and it will taste a lot like Jimmy Dean Breakfast sausage 

the bread recipes will be posted in a bit... :)

How was your weekend? Did you do or make anything special or new?

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Best laid plans...

So just because you have a meal plan does not mean your week will go according to plan...
I had to change up my plan last week a bit bit you know what... It was totally fine. Life happens...
We did try the Diablo beef, I was not impressed so will not be posting the recipe. I ended up making pasta on Monday because I got busy and forgot to prep my chicken. We were supposed to have the sour cream chicken tonight but Oops, I forgot to get more sour cream so we are having the teriyaki chicken and rice tonight.

I got adventurous this week and decided that all the home made Easter treats I had been seeing on Pinterest looked really good so I have been making special home made versions of some family favorites that are normally store bought. I also made my traditional "bunny rolls: and Easter Bread. The Girl Helped a lot with the bread and I sure was grateful! I will be posting Pics soon along with recipes. in the mean time here is my Easter Bread from last year...

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Meal plan for week of 4/1 - 4/7

Sunday...  Chicken Enchiladas
Monday... Chicken teriyaki with fried rice
Tuesday... Diablo beef (arm roast in Crock pot) New
Wednesday...   Garlic Chicken
Thursday... Pizza (home made) We did not end up having this last week :)
Friday... not sure what is going on yet... I think we are going to a pot luck banquet so I need to figure this out.
Saturday... Sour Cream and Bacon Crockpot Chicken New