I am excited to write about all things I am passionate about...and some, well, that I may not be passionate about. But all things are happening in this LIFE. And, I want to document and have accountablity to living life with intention. And so it goes...

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Because my day is so unbelievably busy and I didn't get home until 4:30 pm. Because I am on call right now at the hospital until 3:00 am tomorrow morning. Because we are busy planting trees this evening. Because it is 78 degrees and beautiful outside and I can't bear to turn on my stove or oven for that matter. Because we finally got our swingset up. Because we are in the process of putting up our basketball goal. Because I bought the kids a whole new box of sidewalk chalk. And some new sandbox goodies. Because Natalie has a basketball pizza party tonight. Because I am planning a big birthday party for Kassidy tomorrow evening. Because I just got done filling 300 Easter eggs for the big hunt for Kassidy's birthday party.
Those are the reasons we are each eating our favorite cereal for dinner this evening.

***If you can believe it, I got "thank you's" and a big hug from one critic for my choice in fine dining this evening... ***

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Another Recipe Found...

One of our favorite steak restaurants serves an amazing Grilled Steak Salad that I get every time I go there. I love it---just as its name implies, it is a fresh salad topped with grilled steak, grilled mushrooms, and mozzarella cheese. It has a unique flavor--mainly with the mushrooms.

Tonight I made Steak with Burgundy Mushroom Sauce and found the flavor I was looking for in the mushrooms! The mushrooms simmer with garlic, green onion, butter, and red wine to reduce to a rich, flavorful topping for your steak. I just pan fried the steak tonight, but it would have been even better had we grilled the steak.

Love is an understatement for the feelings my critics have for steak. Another summertime staple for us is grilled steak salads. Not all of them have that same love for mushrooms. So therefore, some smiled at the steak and frowned at the mushrooms. Steak with Burgundy Mushroom Sauce is especially good if you like mushrooms. How is that for stating the obvious here?

It's the flavor I've been searching for in my steak salad, and once again PW came through for me. I love that gal.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The BEST Chicken Salad Ever.

YUM!!!!!!!!!!! And that is about all I can say about this. This recipe for chicken salad is somewhat similar to my "used to be favorite" chicken salad recipe that I loved. Little did I know that I could love another one even more. And Steve agrees fully. He even commented "this sandwich is like what you get at those specialty deli's". We love sandwiches here and eat them frequently especially during the summertime--so I am SO glad to add this to the list!

There was one and only one critic who dismantled his sandwich and left the dinner table only eating a half of an orange and a couple of strawberries. Landon didn't like it at all--and I was surprised by how much the girls liked them.

I used fresh rosemary and cilantro in the dressing which gave it a really fresh taste. I also only used chicken breasts instead of a whole chicken. To all of you who want something somewhat healthy out of PW--- This is it. Toast whole wheat bread, spread with Grey Poupon Mustard, and add fresh spinach and you've got a very yummy, fresh tasting, filling sandwich. I served it with fresh fruit tonight. And even without chips, the kiddos were full.

Well, maybe except for Landon...

Friday, March 26, 2010

Pucker Up!

How many lemons do you have to squeeze to make 1/2 cup? Anyone? Anyone? It takes 3 lemons to equal 1/2 cup of squeezed lemon juice in this recipe.

Now that I have my microplane zester, I am thinking I should probably get a juicer. Would make my life easier, especially when squeezing 3 lemons. Creamy Lemon Crumb Squares are just the right amount of tart and just the right amount of sweet.

Not everyone likes lemon, but if you do, these will make you smile...I mean, pucker! And besides that, they are a breeze to make. Lemon just kind of sings Spring and Summer, don't you think? Brings in some sunshine!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Yee Haw!

This is going to be kind of a bummer for those of you who do not have this. Mostly because I can not find anywhere on PW's site that she has the recipe for the Cowboy Calzones that I made tonight for dinner. In her cookbook is this fantastic recipe, right next to her pizza crust recipe--well, because the Cowboy Calzones are made out of her pizza crust dough. Have you ever heard me talk about that crust before? Like telling you to have your freezer stocked full of it, I believe I have said a couple of times or so...
My critics hands down L.O.V.E.D. the Cowboy Calzones. I had a meeting I had to go to during the dinner hour, so I wasn't here to experience it first-hand, but when I walked in the door I was praised, bowed before, and hailed "Queen of the Kitchen". Well, maybe that is a little extreme. But it was close.
The really exciting aspect to the Cowboy Calzones for me is the fact that they freeze well and you can pop them in to the oven on those nights that you have meetings scheduled during the dinner hour. However, I did make them fresh tonight, but plan to lasso up a whole bunch more tomorrow. I had enough of the filling to fill two pizza crusts.
Ride 'em cowboy!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Spicy Shrimp

Feeling hot and spicy? Then you need to make these! I opted to not do the "fun" way of eating these shrimp as she describes, but the more practical put them on your plate, use your fingers, lift them to your mouth, and eat kind of way. Works better for us--ha!
Spicy Shrimp can be as hot and spicy as you would like them to be. I did use all of the ingredients she listed, but maybe went a little bit lighter on the tobasco sauce to keep it at a level that my kids could handle. I used shrimp that were already cooked also. When doing this, make sure they are not under the broiler for long. I think mine got to be a bit tough. But there's something about those greyish looking shrimp that kind of freak me out. And deveining? Ewww. But one of these days I may grow up and give it a try. We'll see.
The sauce the Spicy Shrimp are swimming in is tangy (lemon), spicy, and peppery. PW uses a crusty french bread to dip into the sauce which we did also. The kids absolutely loved that! No need to butter your bread, just dip. Flavorful and buttery, we had NO crumb left by the time the meal was over. Perhaps it was because Landon could not handle the way the shrimp tasted and ate half of the loaf himself. Just speculating...
A great way to eat shrimp, Spicy Shrimp will surely be made again when I can afford another bag of shrimp. We may be waiting awhile...

Monday, March 22, 2010

CPK's BBQ ChickenHAWK!

Ok, so maybe I am a bit emotional about the whole KU loss on Saturday. Yep, it's my team, my alma mater, my #1 NCAA Bracket Championship winner...

And they lost. They lost and we were eating CPK's BBQ Chicken Pizza. So needless to say, I could NOT give this pizza a 5 star!

Just kidding, the reason it did not get a 5 star was due to my littlest critics. There is something about a handful of cilantro adorning a pizza that does not entice them in the least. Steve and I happen to love the taste of cilantro and therefore loved the flavor of this pizza. It is very easy to get the pizza too dry though, so make sure you put enough of your favorite BBQ sauce over the top. Once again, fresh mozzarella is where it's at. It almost makes its own sauce over the crust.

And have I told you how much I love having this pizza crust in my freezer? Well if not, I do. You need to load your freezers up!

I still love ya and you're still my #1, KU. But it looks like I'm gonna be rooting for the Powercats to get 'er done this year. And maybe I will find a different dish to make for their next game...

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Baked Lemon Pasta

I don't know about you, but trying to get away without ANY meat for a main course is very difficult at my house. With that being said, the Baked Lemon Pasta would never go over just on its own here with these critics. Ever.

I made Baked Lemon Pasta in addition to our leftover Spaghetti and Meatballs from the other night. I also included some more of that yummy garlic cheese bread, and a big salad. No, it did not go together well, but we had company here to help get rid of the leftovers, and I thought I needed to try something new in addition.

As its name implies, this dish is very "lemony". And that is the whole point of Baked LEMON Pasta. So if lemon does not get you going, I would highly suggest skipping over this dish. If you are a lemon fan, I am guessing you will really like it. Do you feel like I am stating the obvious here?

Baked Lemon Pasta is in one word: tangy. You pair the fresh squeezed lemon with sour cream and parmesan cheese and it's going to be. I thought the dish could have been a bit creamier. Seemed kind of dry to me. But overall, I think it would be a great side to a nice piece of grilled white fish of any kind. Even maybe next to a chicken breast and salad. And of course your garlic cheese bread!

We did like the dish. Just not out there on its own. It is just kind of the epitomy of summer. Maybe I'm not ready for that yet...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Spaghetti and Meatballs

To me there is nothing quite as fun as cooking with friends in the kitchen. Especially friends who know what they are doing and can teach you something in the meantime. Although I was really wanting to try the Burgundy Steak with Mushrooms, we decided that for our kids ranging from age 11 down to 20 months, that Spaghetti and Meatballs would be more of a crowd pleaser.

We did make a change in the meatball mixture from PW's original meatball mixture. Instead of using half ground beef and half ground pork, we opted for only beef. Which the ground beef was extremely lean also. All of that resulted in dry meatballs! We also all agreed that the parmesan cheese mixed into the meatballs did not deliver a real "wow!" factor.

The sauce was easy to make, although a bit watery. And perhaps there was not enough there for the pound and a half of spaghetti we needed to cover with it. Obviously, the Spaghetti and Meatballs were not out of this world, but with a few modifications, I think they could be.

Personally, I think the Spaghetti and Meatballs were just a really good excuse for making and chowing down the Garlic Cheese Bread!

Of course I have no pictures of creating this event, but if I had, you would be entertained by the male counterpart of our friends sporting the ruffled, polk-a-dotted, girlie apron. Which did rate 5 smiley stars...

I did get a picture of this little cutie (who belongs to the "Man in the Ruffled Polk-A-Dot Apron". He could have cared less for the Spaghetti and Meatballs OR the Garlic Cheese Bread. But when you're this cute, you can just about get away with anything...

Cheesy or Cheesey Bread? That is the question...

Regardless of how you spell "cheesy" (which is the correct spelling, by the way), Garlic Cheese Bread is soooo good!

We had our very good friends come to visit us from out East and decided to try out a couple of recipes from the infamous PW for our evening meal. Doubtful that Garlic Cheese Bread could be anything but glorious, I and my other fellow cooks were somewhat skeptical of the key odd ingredient in this recipe. That being...mayonnaise.

What the mayonnaise did, in fact, was to provide a "tang", a "bite", an overall bit of interest which also allowed for a very creamy melted cheese heaven on top of the french bread.

Garlic Cheese Bread is definitely where it's at when it comes to cheesy bread. This bread will work well along side your pasta dishes and basically anytime you need some type of bread.

Don't be afraid of the mayonnaise! You need to make Garlic Cheese Bread. I think I will make it again tonight!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Finally...the Rosemary Potatoes

I have been putting off making the Creamy Rosemary Potatoes now for the last couple of months. Something about slicing potatoes really thin that was really getting to me. Yes, I am lazy, remember?

The sauce that you cook to pour over your raw potatoes is OUT OF THIS WORLD good. I could have eaten that with a spoon and been fatter and happier than I've ever been. But, I needed the sauce for the massive amount of sliced potatoes I had. I will tell you why we did not like this recipe that much. I think I had too many potatoes for the amount of sauce. Maybe it had something to do with me taste-testing too much of the sauce????

Seriously, the sauce is wonderful. The potatoes turned sort of a grayish/pinkish looking color which was unappetizing to both me and the critics. I did not bake them in a 9x 13, it was a little deeper dish and they seemed to have a hard time getting done completely. Overall the flavor was good. But I think you could almost make another half recipe of sauce to adequately cook that flavor throughout all of the potatoes.

I would make it again. Especially for company when in need of potatoes. But it still doesn't compare to our "wedding potato" recipe. Which always turns out, is just as fattening, and is much, much easier!

Hands down the sauce over the these potatoes is a 5 smiley star, but for some reason when cooked in the potatoes, it doesn't deliver the same...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

By request...Grandma's Mac and Cheese

A sweet request from a friend prompted this post of Grandma's Mac and Cheese recipe.

Warning: This recipe is so fattening, I am gaining weight while sitting here thinking about it.

Also, there is no real recipe for her macaroni and cheese. Likewise with many of her other recipes. Which can be really annoying to those of us who want explicit directions and pay attention to every detail. I will do my best to tell you how to make the 'roni's that are out of this world, ok?

*Boil your macaroni---about 4 cups or so. Give or take. Adjust other ingredients to match macaroni amount. Boil al dente--not quite done. How's that for a PW term?

*Next drain your macaroni and put back in your pot and cover with half and half and a stick of butter, salt, and pepper. You should have enough half and half that it covers the macaroni but does not drown them, if that makes sense. You do not want them to be too dry, but neither do you want them to be too juicy. It is VERY important to get enough salt in there. You want the mixture to taste salty when you try it. Believe me, this is the key to making this dish good. It has to have adequate enough salt before it is baked.

*Next, to that same pot, add about a 1/2 of a large rectangle of velveeta cheese. (I know, these directions are ridiculous, but you'll love the end result--hang with me here!)

*Keep that cooking on the stove until most of it is melted. Once melted, pour into a buttered 9x13 baking dish.

*Bake at 350 degrees for a good 45 minutes. You want your macaroni to be brown and crusty on the top, but creamy and gooey on the inside.

This macaroni and cheese is delicious! But then again, it's what we're used to and have grown up with for the last 3o years or so...
Thanks Mom for the yummy, tried and true recipe!!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Mac and Cheese

Remember I talked about making sides to go along with the not so highly revered sloppy joes? It came to an amazing surprise that the critics loved the sloppy joes, but questioned the new Macaroni and Cheese recipe that I made last night. Mac and cheese is always a hit at our house. Always a hit when I make my good old stand-by recipe, that is...

I think the reason they did not appreciate this recipe as much is because they have grown up since they were itty bitty with Grandma's mac and cheese which is now my mac and cheese. And let's face it folks...it is definitely hard to beat creamy velveeta, butter, and half and half. If that tells you anything.

This recipe uses real ingredients, however. I have always questioned how real velveeta cheese could actually be. In PW's recipe, you can use whatever cheese you would like---which could definitely change the way it tastes. It's a baked macaroni and uses a tempered egg. I've never done that before in mac and cheese of all things. All in all, the recipe is fine--a bit grainy.

And maybe that is why we want to keep our good old stand-by of velveeta filled loveliness...

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

To Manwich or not to Manwich...

Gotta admit that we are not huge fans of sloppy joes over here. However, sloppy joes are so easy--especially when you have ground beef on hand. The key to making sloppy joes really good, is what you serve with them. So when I opt for the joe, I generally have some sides that they really love. One of which I will be blogging about soon.

The sloppy joes I generally make are that of the Manwich variety. Now you can call me thrifty--which would absolutely thrill both my husband and I, but unfortunately for both Steve and I, we know the truth. And that is...I am l.a.z.y. today. And did not want to venture out to the food market because I did not want to take a shower, put on makeup, etc, etc. All I wanted to do today was my laundry, clean my house, and have a reasonably healthy dinner ready for supper. The only meat I had thawed was some browned hamburger. Sloppy joes came to mind and I decided I would face the critics straight on and hopefully get at least a couple of happy stars out of the deal. PW's Tasty Kitchen has about 3 pages worth of different sloppy joe recipes that I searched through. I came up with this one.

To my delight, the critics loved them! I guess it has been long enough since our last sloppy joe meal that maybe they actually missed them?

This recipe was a simple, easy way to make sloppy joes. I just simmered them all day in a crockpot. Had some roll dough in the fridge and made some buns. And they were a hit!

Blueberries for Sal

The entire time I was making blueberry pie I kept thinking about the book Blueberries for Sal. I loved that book. Ever since I was a little elementary school kid, I have wanted to get a big basket and pick blueberries and sit on a hill with purple fingers eating more blueberries than I saved from picking...

No doubt, you will have to like blueberries to fully enjoy a blueberry pie. I have never made a blueberry pie before so this was fun. Plus I had a huge container of blueberries I had gotten from Sam's with the intentions of making a pie. So, after many days of putting off making pie dough, I finally found the motivation to do it. In fact, my pie dough turned out much better than it did the first time mainly because I was unafraid to add enough flour to get the dough really, really thin. I have a new found faith in pie dough.

The Blueberry Pie was a big hit here with the critics. About the easiest pie I have ever made--just toss some sugar, couple of Tbsp. of flour, and a pinch of salt all around with the blueberries and pour into your pie crust. Very easy. If my mom were making this pie, she would also add a splash of lemon juice. Not sure why she always does that, but she does.

I am guessing this pie is extra good because of the pats of butter atop the blueberries before you put the top crust on. But just a guess. Easy and yummy. That's what I'm talking about!

Monday, March 8, 2010

An apple a day

We have done a good job of keeping the doctor away. However, I am not sure it's because of eating an apple a day. Especially in the form of apples we have been eating lately...

Apple Dumplings were the form of apples we endured yesterday evening. In fact, they were even eaten for breakfast this morning! This is a really great recipe for kids to make. I cored and peeled the apples and Kassidy wrapped each apple piece with a crescent roll and placed them in the dish. I made the butter/sugar mixture on the stove, and Kassidy poured in the Mountain Dew. YES, Mountain Dew. I do not remember the last time I've bought Mountain Dew!

We had the grandparents over to enjoy the dessert with us and served the Apple Dumplings piping hot out of the oven with ice cream. They were a very good recipe that tastes like they were a pretty big deal to make when they were actually not a very big deal to make. I love that!

I would say that the Apple Dumplings would definitely be best served straight from the oven and do not make the best leftovers. My opinion. You would not have been able to get me to eat them warmed up for breakfast...

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Second Favorite is our First!

A couple of weeks ago, we made Marlboro Man's Favorite Sandwich and the critics thought they were good, hearty, and decided the recipe was a keeper. Well, last night we had Marlboro Man’s Second Favorite Sandwich and have decided for our family, that his second favorite sandwich is definitely our first! It could be that we are more of a chicken eating family than round steak, or that Marlboro Man’s Second Favorite Sandwich is covered with cheese, or has peppered bacon, or could be that we were simply hungrier last night than we were a couple of weeks ago. Whatever the case may be, we loved Marlboro Man’s Second Favorite Sandwich.

Steve's parents came for supper and we worked together in the kitchen. One thing we realized was that the chicken breast needed to be cut in half and pounded out as hard as you can. That way it would ensure that it gets done and gets done quickly. The peppered bacon was a nice touch and found at Dillon's. We also added grilled onions to ours.

Marlboro Man’s Second Favorite Sandwich has become The Kaufman's Favorite Sandwich. At least so far...

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Waffles Without Syrup?!!

I inadvertently forgot that we have NO SYRUP in this house when I took out the waffles for breakfast this morning. I don't know how I could have forgotten. In fact, as embarassing as it was a couple of weeks ago when we had our friends over for these said waffles, we had to ask them to bring the syrup. Who does that? US, apparently. "Hey, would you like to come over for waffles, and uh, can you bring the syrup?" GAH!

How could I have forgotten? Who knows. All I know is I remember eating a white waffle sauce when I was little that was so yummy. I have also made white waffle sauces before, but never have a recipe right on hand. So who and where did I turn? That's right. PW's Tasty Kitchen website where I searched for white waffle sauce and found Gingerbread Waffles with Vanilla Cream Sauce.

Gingerbread Waffles with Vanilla Cream Sauce is so simple and so yummy. My kids just loved it and didn't complain and ask for our traditional syrup even once. I did not make the gingerbread waffles, just the vanilla cream sauce.

So if you find yourself in a bind without any syrup, try Gingerbread Waffles with Vanilla Cream Sauce and see what you think. I'm thinking you may just do away with that traditional syrup when it's all said and done.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Apple Fritter Block Party

Call me impulsive. I checked here and saw the recipe for Apple Fritters and you guessed it, I high-tailed it down to the local food market and got me some Granny Smith apples. So what do you think the kiddos had for a snack on this beautiful 50 degree March afternoon??

Apple Fritters turned out really good. They are similar to New Year's Cookies that Steve's grandma makes, but with apples instead of raisins. My critics much prefer apples to the raisins as was evidenced by an inhalation of their snack today. Granted Apple Fritters have apples in them, I would not necessarily call them healthy, per se. Fried in oil and all, and then smothered in a donut type icing...uh, yeah. Therefore we made it a neighborhood block occasion and took some to our surrounding neighbors. We were NOT eating that whole batch although we could have...easily.

Definitely good. Definitely a keeper. Definitely a 5 smiley star. Definitely need my treadmill...

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Where's the Beef???

Maybe a vegetarian meal two nights in a row was not such a good idea...

Yes, I could have made some type of meat to go along with the Sundried Tomato Risotto , but I decided to give it a try with a nice side of green beans and fruit. Well, let me tell you the conversation I overheard that my youngest two were having prior to going to the basketball game tonight:
Kourtney: "Landon, if you get a dollar and I get a dollar we can share some nachos"
Landon: "Ok, that is going to be my supper 'cause I don't like this stuff"
Me: "But it tastes just like the cheesy rice that you two love, doesn't it?"
Kourtney and Landon: "NO!"
The rest of the critics loved Sundried Tomato Risotto. If you like risotto, I believe you will love this dish. I couldn't believe how creamy it was--and filling. My goodness, as I was making it I kept tasting it to see if it was getting done. By the time it actually was done and I added the parmesan, cream, and fresh basil (when it was REALLY good), I was so full I could not eat any more. THAT was discouraging, because Sundried Tomato Risotto is yummy!
Even with two of the critics getting their dinner fill on green beans and fruit, there was still only one serving of Sundried Tomato Risotto left. Next time, I will make this with a nice green salad. I think that would be even better than the green beans.
And perhaps I will add some type of meat...

Monday, March 1, 2010

Not Your Every Day Grilled Cheese

I can get away with grilled cheese sandwiches every once in awhile. Not my family's favorite unless the alternative is tomato soup---then they eat them like nothing else. Well tonight I did not serve them with tomato soup. So the sandwiches stood alone. To shake it up a bit, I made Pioneer Woman’s Favorite Sandwich. Oh my goodness people. This is NOT an ordinary cheese sandwich. This is a grilled cheese sandwich pumped up! Pumped up so much that PW was right in saying you can only eat about a half a sandwich and you are full.

Pioneer Woman’s Favorite Sandwich has two different kinds of cheese (go ahead and pick your favorites!), onion, tomato, special sauce, green chilis, and uses rye bread. There are no ifs, ands, or buts...Pioneer Woman’s Favorite Sandwich is a great sandwich. If you like cheese, that is.

I have one and only one child critic that liked them. The others opted for good old velveeta filled grilled cheese sandwiches. Steve and I thought they were great. There is something about the onion, tomato, and chilis with all of that melted cheese that is just plain good. And I think the key is to let the sandwich grill very slowly and of course make sure there is plenty of butter on the bread.

Just asked Steve how he'd describe Pioneer Woman’s Favorite Sandwich and he said...

"That sandwich rocked!"

Need I say more?