Breakfast anyone?

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Today is the first day of our spring break and I’m happy to report that it actually feels like spring!  Now tomorrow is another story but at least we have today.

This morning I made a recipe that I recently found on pinterest.  It seemed easy enough for a mindless-morning recipe.  I hate breakfast recipes that make you think too much or that you have to cook for an hour or so (meaning you have to wake up way before your family to get breakfast ready).

This one was quick and easy and it is totally gone after my family had breakfast.  We served it along with a bowl of fruit.

Crescent Roll Breakfast Ring

Preheat oven to 375°

Scramble on the stove top

  • 5 eggs (I tried to do 6 as that is what I had left in the carton and honestly….it was one egg too many!)

Lay out on a parchment lined pizza pan or  cookie sheet

  • crescent rolls in a circle that looks much like sun rays!

Add to the crescent rolls:

  • 8 slices of fully cooked bacon (I purchased a box of fully cooked bacon to make this an easy prep breakfast)

 

Yum...Bacon!

Yum…Bacon!

Add to the ring in the following order:

  • 1/3 cup of shredded cheddar cheese (or colby-jack)
  • cooked eggs
  • 1/3 cup of shredded cheese

Fold the crescents over and tuck in or pinch the point to the long side of the roll

Add to the top of the ring

  • 1/3 cup of shredded cheese
Ready for the oven!

Ready for the oven!

Bake for 17 minutes or until the crescents are done and golden brown.

Enjoy!

Breakfast Ring_slice

Change of Seasons

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Saying that this has been a hard winter is quite the understatement. Heck, it is technically spring yet the winter weather still is hanging around.  We moved into our current home just a few days after Christmas. The week after we moved in the snow came and it didn’t leave our yard until well into March. I have never in my life lived with so much snow for so many days. I didn’t like it. I didn’t want it….but I survived. On one of the not-so-bleak days this winter, my handsome fella and I went for a walk. We noted that the evergreen trees were a nice addition to the landscape in the neighborhood as winter would be so VERY bland without them.

I am so ready for the next season. I am ready for flip-flops and Capri pants. I’m ready for sitting in the backyard and soaking up the sun. I’m ready for a little color and vibrancy in life! The flowers of spring are always energizing and almost intoxicating as they change the landscape around us. Did you know to enjoy the tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths that I love so much…they actually must be planted in the fall before the first hard frost? They require the cold of winter to become what they are meant to be.

I wonder how that plays into my life? I feel like I have been in a hard winter for a while.   Even in the hard winter there have been those pops of green from the “evergreen trees” to keep life from being bland and too depressing.  I am so thankful for the “evergreen trees” in my life.  I am ready though for the next season; I’m ready for the vibrant colors and shapes of the spring flowers.  Just as God has designed and shaped the flowers that will soon be coming, I know he has a plan for me. I can’t wait to see the design.

Did you know that in the basal center portion of the bulb for all of those wonderful flowers are the leaves cradling a baby bud that is just waiting for spring?  In many of the species, this bud already has the appearance of a flower while still in the bulb!  Just like God has that plan already laid out for me.  The basic framework for the next season in my life is all there.  The winter was necessary to shape me into the woman he wants me to be.  He has had the plan all along and has just been waiting to reveal it to me when the time was right.

So until then, I keep trusting him and walking forward knowing that a change of seasons is near.

As for a taste of spring now, I made this pound cake when my younger daughter had a friend over that was staying for dinner.  The friend doesn’t drink milk so my original plan for the evening dessert, ice cream, was out.  I looked around my pantry and then found this recipe on the Duncan Hines website.  It was so yummy and moist.

 

Pineapple Orange Pound Cake

Preheat oven to 350°

Grease and flour a 10″ Bundt pan.

Combine together in a mixing bowl:

  • 1 package of Duncan Hines Signature Pineapple Cake Mix
  • 1 small package of vanilla instant pudding
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 grated orange peel (about 1 Tablespoon)

Beat at medium speed with electric mixer for two minutes.

Pour into the prepared pan

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted inot the center comes out clean.

Cool for 25 minutes in pan and then invert onto a serving plate.

Make the glaze:

Combine in a small saucepan and then simmer for 3 minutes:

  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/3 cup sugar

Brush the warm glaze on the cake.

Enjoy!  The cake didn’t last 24 hours at my house.

 

Spring is Coming!

Lesson From a Fruit Salad

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Tonight we had a leftover fruit salad with our dinner.  The salad had pineapple, strawberries and raspberries in it.  I think I cut up the pineapple on Friday night to go with our pizza so the fruits have been hanging out together now for about 3 days.  When my younger daughter served her plate I said “not a fan of pineapple ehh?” to which she replied, “not when it has red on it”.

It was a good time to grab the moment and remind my girls that who we hang around with rubs off on us.  The raspberries and strawberries were making our yellow pineapple red.  Just like the friends we make and even the acquaintances we choose to spend time with will rub off on us.  Make sure you hang around those you wish to become more like.

When Fast Food Won’t Do

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No, I haven’t gone all healthy on you…”when fast-food won’t do” doesn’t mean I’ve given up eating at all my favorite drive-thrus.  Rather my eating out budget has been drastically reduced as we have shifted priorities in our family budget.  Now I want to save that money for just the right night.  But what is a girl to do when she gets home from work and is exhausted and hasn’t a clue what to do for dinner?

Here are some quick and easy fall-backs.  Plan your grocery list each month to include these items and you won’t find yourself in need of running through the drive-thru as often as before.

Mindless

  1. Tortellini.  Open a bag and boil it–it takes about 10 minutes.  Slice up an apple, throw some little carrots and maybe cut up some other veggies and D-O-N-E.  We server our tortellini with cheese and some Italian seasonings.
  2. Quesadillas (The Mexican version of Grilled Cheese).  Always have flour tortillas on hand and a big bag of mexican blend cheese.   I often have some frozen grilled chicken strips that we can heat and add to quesadillas too.  My girls like just cheese and maybe a bit of chicken.  I also like to put onions on mine.  Simply heat a nonstick skillet and place one tortilla down in the skillet.  Sprinkle the tortilla with cheese and other desired items then top with another tortilla.  Flip the tortilla when it is browned and before it chars!  Open a can of refried beans or some Ranch Style Beans (K-Mart sells then in PA) serve with some little carrots.
  3. Burritos.  This is a favorite at our house.  Open up cans of refried beans (it takes two cans for my family) and heat on the stove.  I sprinkle some fajita seasoning into the beans and stir it in while they heat up.  Then pull out those flour tortillas again.  Zap the tortillas for a few seconds in the microwave to warm them up.  I put mine between two damp paper towels and warm for a few seconds.  Then load them up with beans, cheese, and onions…even lettuce if you want.  I like to serve with Taco Bell Hot Sauce and Sour Cream and then of course some chopped apples or other easy fruit to cut and serve.  (Sometimes I just set the clementine bowl on the table and that serves as our fruit selection for the evening)
  4. Fish Sticks/Portions.  Keep in the freezer you favorite battered fish.  Prepare this along with some frozen broccoli and some fresh fruit (or my throw-down fruit of canned mandarin oranges when the fruit basket is empty)

Tiny Bit of Thinking

  1. Pancakes.  I keep a box of Aunt Jemima’s Original in my pantry at all times (along with syrup of course too!).  I mix in an individual serving pack of applesauce and sprinkle in some cinnamon into the batter before firing up the griddle for dinner on the table in less than 20 minutes.  Sometimes we have sausage and/or eggs too but often it is pancakes and fruit.  (Then a bag of popcorn later when we are a teeny bit hungry before bedtime.)
  2. Tacos.  Brown some ground meat and empty the taco seasoning and water (per package instructions) into the browned meat.  Serve on warmed hard shells, tortillas, or tortilla chips.  You can load the tacos with as much or as little as you can stand to prepare (shredded cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, sour cream, salsa)  Refried beans, black beans, or corn on the side are a nice addition too.
  3. Spaghetti.  I have a child that does not care for spaghetti (I guess she takes after her Grandaddy).  However, it is a perfect “tiny bit of thinking” meal.  One pot of water to boil the noodles and one skillet to brown the ground meat  (maybe some onions and peppers too) and then add a jar of your favorite sauce.  Pull green beans out of the freezer and pop open a can of crescent rolls or french bread and you are on your way to dinner on the table in no time.

Sides

  • Salad bags are good to have for throw down meals…that is if your family eats salad.  Most of mine doesn’t.
  • Fresh Veggies…call it Crudite and it sounds more fancy …like you spent some time on it!
  • Slice up Fruit- apples and pears are quick favorites for our mindless and tiny bit of thinking meals
  • Frozen vegetables are quick and easy to prepare.  I like to have broccoli and green beans all the time in my freezer.

So the next time you are on your way home from a long day of work and feel your car pulling towards Chick-fil-a or Burger King, resist!  You can still have an easy meal at home with your family for a lot less cost and a lot less salt!

 

Enjoy!

Mindless meals give you more time to snuggle with the ones you love.

Mindless meals give you more time to snuggle with the ones you love.

When a Tex-Mex Restaurant is Nowhere Nearby :(

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Living in Pennsylvania allows us the opportunity to eat at a different pizza place or hamburger joint every night of the week but the Mexican food restaurants are few and far between and then to find a good Tex-Mex restaurant is impossible.  So I’ve had to learn to make some of my favorite dishes in my very own kitchen.  Tonight is Tex-Mex night at the Smith Casa!  We will be having cheese enchiladas, mexican rice, refried beans (courtesy of Trader Joe’s), and then some Mexican Brownies to top it all off.

The dinner is fairly simple to make but this particular enchilada recipe does get your hands a bit messy.

The brownies are to die for when they are warm out of the oven so I will probably whip those up right after putting the enchiladas in the oven.  Here is the recipe if you too would like to enjoy Aaron Sanchez’s recipe.  It takes about 20 minutes to prepare and then bakes for 20 to 25 minutes.  So you can be done within an hour!

Oh, so very good.

Oh, so very good.

Mexican Brownies

Preheat the oven to 350°

Line a 9 x 13 baking dish with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides.  Press the paper into the corners of the pan and lightly grease the paper with butter.

Melt, in a nonstick saucepan over medium-low heat (do not boil)

  • 2 sticks of butter

Remove the melted butter from the heat and let it cool slightly.

Add to the butter and then stir with a wooden spoon until combined:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

Mix together:

  • 2/3 cup good-quality unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Add the butter mixture to the dry ingredients and mix the batter until it is smooth.

Spread the batter in the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out fudgy (about 20-25 minutes)

Cool in the pan on a rack, then use the parchment paper to lift out the brownies before slicing.

Enjoy!

Quick Breakfast- Egg Cupcakes

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Recently my girls and I were at the library.  One of my favorite things to browse are the cookbooks.  On this trip I found “Everyday Paleo” by Sarah Fragoso.  The Paleo diet is one that is like our ancestors ate (Paleo meaning  ancient and prehistoric).  She says, it is food that is not processed or modified.  It seems to cut out things like rice and flour.  I’m not sold on 100% Paleo-living but I always love to find a new, healthy recipe so I’m trying a few things out of the cookbook.

One recipe I made this last week was the Egg Cupcakes.  I made them one evening and then we have eaten on them for breakfast for the next several days.  I love to have a quick, healthy breakfast choice in the house.  Here is how I made them:

Egg Cupcakes

Preheat your oven to 350º and grease two muffin pans (Ms. Paelo says to use coconut oil…I used PAM on one and did indeed try coconut oil in the other)

Whisk in a large bowl

  • 10-12 eggs

Add to the eggs

  • Black pepper to taste

In a food processor place and then process until finely chopped but not smooth:

  • 1 green onion (cut into thirds)
  • 1 to 2 zucchini squash (cut into large chunks)
  • 5 to 8 slices of cooked bacon  (I actually cooked the bacon when I was making dinner that night and using Ms. Paleo’s brussel sprouts and bacon recipe—will post that one later)
  • 1 cup of roasted red peppers

Add this to the egg mixture.

Add to the processor and finely chop:

  • 4 cups fresh spinach

Add chopped spinach to the egg mixture and mix well.

I then sprinkled a bit of salt into the egg mixture too.  Not much but just a bit.

Using a 1/4 measuring cup, fill the muffin pans.

Bake the egg cupcakes for 20-25 minutes or until the eggs are set in the middle.

Once mine cooled off, I placed them in a rubbermaid container in the refrigerator for my family to grab for breakfast (25 seconds to reheat in our microwave).  Everyone has enjoyed them and I have enjoyed that there are so many vegetables and omega 3s in them (I used the Trader Joe Omega-3 eggs for this recipe).  This is not something that we will have everyday in our breakfast selections, but once a month would be a great addition to our morning diet.

Enjoy!

Cheeseburger Soup

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January is National Soup Month and man has it been cold enough for soup this year or what?!?!

Baby it's cold outside!

Baby it’s cold outside!

Even the south has had to pull out their sweaters and heavy coats this year.  I love soups and could have a different one almost everyday of the week.  My family, on the other hand, prefers to limit the soup meals to about one…maybe two a week.

Last night we tried this one.  It was a cold, rainy Friday night and perfect for it.  Now this isn’t a “fix it and forget it” recipe but it does pull together quickly.  I had dinner done within an hour of starting it. A friend posted the link the recipe on facebook: http://therecipecritic.com/2012/12/cheeseburger-soup/  I’ve tried some other cheesburger soup recipes, but this one wins the taste race.

So enjoy this comfort food soup that my eleven year old said was like “dinner in a cup”

Cheeseburger Soup

Brown in a soup pot (5 quart dutch oven or chili pot)

  • 1 pound of ground beef

Drain the beef and set aside

In the same pot, add and then saute until tender: (you could chop up all of this the night before and have it waiting in the refrigerator for you when ready to make dinner after work which would speed the preparation)

  • 1 T butter
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup shredded carrots
  • 3/4 cup diced celery
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes

Add to the pot and bring to a boil:

  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 4 cups peeled and diced potatoes (dice them nice and small)

Once the soup is boiling, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

In a small skillet melt

  • 3 T of butter

Add to the melted butter and cook and stir for 3-5 minutes or until it starts to get bubbly:

  • 1/4 cup flour

Add the flour mixture to the soup and bring to a boil.

Cook and stir for 2 minutes and then reduce heat to low.

Stir into the soup:

  • 2 cups (16 oz) of Velveeta, cubed…you can use 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese too
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Cook and stir until cheese melts.

Remove from heat and blend in:

  • 1/4 cup of sour cream

Enjoy!

I enjoy my burgers with Worcestershire sauce on them, so I put a few dashes of Lea & Perrins in my soup and mixed it around.  I thought it was great.  Emily wondered about putting ketchup in it, but no one tried it.

Looking for some other soup recipes I’ve tried?  Click here