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...

Thursday, April 29, 2010


Need a very simple supper? Are shrimp on sale at your food market? Then this is the recipe for you!
I have now actually made these quesadillas twice--once with shrimp, and then last night with chicken. Both of them were knock your socks off delicious!! All you are going to do is dump a can of enchilada sauce on your meat and let it soak in the flavor while you cut up onions and peppers. That's it!! And if you're like me, you are going to grate your monterey jack and sharp cheddar cheese also. To make it really easy, grab yourself a bag of shredded mexican cheese. But there really is a HUGE difference in flavor and how your cheese cooks if you grate it yourself. Try it you'll see! PW almost always grates her own cheese and now I am a firm believer in it also. Plus, it's cheaper--woo hoo!!
You could add any other toppings inside your tortillas that you'd like. I added mushrooms last night. And for the grown-ups who tolerate green leaves on top of their food, a bunch of fresh cilantro went smack dab in the middle of the gooey cheese....oh yummy. I am thinking I should make these again very soon!
Move on over Taco Tico!!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Method.

Let me tell you this. Steve JUST called me from work and asked me:

"What in the world did you put on that toast?

Gotta say, I wasn't quite sure where he was going with this. Other than the fact that my sweet oldest girl had commented minutes prior:

"THAT was the best toast I have ever eaten in my life."

So, the odds were pretty darn good that Steve thought highly of the toast/breakfast that I prepared for him. Something about me preparing breakfast for him I think was really the exciting part---then add to it a really good piece of toast?! Yeah, he's loving me right now.

This toast is nothing special really. It is all in the method in how you make it. And if you check here, PW has a very in-depth, explicit post on how to make cinnamon toast. It is quite entertaining and never did I think it would matter so greatly how you make your cinnamon toast.

But oh it does people. I think some of the added shabang is the vanilla. And the gobs of butter may have something to do with it too...

And if you use 100% Double Fiber Whole Wheat bread, you won't feel so bad eating half a loaf. At least that's what I'm telling myself.

Breakfast doesn't get much easier. Put your toaster away.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Potato Leek Pizza

First of all, I am wondering how many people have ever cooked with leeks, let alone eat them? Or have known that you are eating them?

I seriously do not think I have ever knowingly eaten leeks before. Crazy! But I have to say, I really like them. Aside from the fact I had know idea what I was looking for in the grocery store. Really leeks are like a huge green onion. Like gigantic. But with a very mild almost "onion" type flavor but not. It is hard to describe. Nevertheless, they are tasty in a dish---and especially in this pizza we made last night.

I will tell you, I can not find the recipe on PW's website--but it's in her cookbook. Get one today if you don't already have one!!!

Potatoes on pizza? Hmmm. It worked! The recipe called for 3 potatoes, but I used only one small potato sliced super thin. Not huge potato eaters here, but they added some interest and texture and you wouldn't want to leave them out. Pair that with fresh mozzarella, goat cheese, leeks, and bacon...and there you have it. A pizza like no other pizza you've ever had. Flavorful and fun! And it looks like a gourmet pizza!!

My kiddos are not super picky, but I did bake a cheese pizza along side of this one. The leftovers of the pizza does not include one slice of cheese pizza if that tells you anything. But for adult food lovers, this pizza was a hit! If you want the recipe--get HER cookbook! Or give me a call.

****For the health concious of the group. I made this pizza crust using half wheat flour. Also substituted turkey bacon for the real bacon. And it was good! The pizza crust seemed to bake up much crispier---which I liked. And ate to my heart's desire...*****

Monday, April 26, 2010

Thinking Fish for supper...

There is nothing quite as sweet as a little boy with his Daddy and their fishing poles. And the excitement said little boy feels when he reels in his very first fish all by himself!

Gotta love those pics off the cameras, huh? Landon and Steve had a fun evening out last night and Landon was all smiles and giddy when he got home. All because of that fish. Which by the way, will not be eaten for supper. That fish is back in his natural habitat. You know, growing a little bit bigger so it can feed a family of six...

Friday, April 23, 2010

What? MExican Lasagna?

"What is Mexican lasagna?" "That does not sound good at all!" "I'm not gonna like it"
Now as a mom, don't you just love hearing those words out of your children when trying something new? Yeah, right! I know how it makes me feel when I have worked on dinner for at least an hour out of my day and to get that from my precious, albeit mouthy children. Thankfully Steve had a meeting last night so I didn't get it from him too! HA!
Well, first impressions are not always accurate, as in the case of Mexican Lasagna. The thought of, sound of, and looks of Mexican Lasagna did not appeal to my 4 baby critics, but the taste of? Can you say "give me seconds, this is awesome!?"
They absolutely loved the Mexican Lasagna! I tried to pack a nutrient punch so did end up altering the recipe just a tad. I used Ezekiel tortillas and long grain brown rice which added lots of fiber. I also mixed lean ground turkey with lean ground beef for half of the dish. The other half I left without meat. The result was a very yummy, somewhat spicy dish that left the kiddos feeling full AND happy! I have never eaten or used Salsa Verde in a recipe and it provided a certain tanginess to the dish. Of course in the enchilada sauce, I added about a Tbsp. of sugar.
My kids are not huge fans of cilantro, so I did not top theirs off with it. But you better believe I loaded it up on my dish and it makes all the difference in the flavor---that is if you like it.
The recipe makes a huge portion and I took a gamble we would like it and made one for the freezer also. I am glad I did!!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Petite Vanilla Bean Uh-Oh's!

UH-OH!!!!!! Ok, so this kitchen disaster is totally my fault--and I own it, I really do. But you've got to know that despite the mishap, the "no way in the world can these be called scones" were very, very tasty!!

This is what happens when I try to change a recipe to make it somewhat more healthy. I would like nothing more than to sit down with a Petite Vanilla Bean Scone every afternoon with a cup of coffee. But, if I don't want to run miles upon miles, elliptical for hours upon hours, or eat nothing else the rest of the day, I can not do that.

How did I attempt a healthier scone? I did not take out the butter or cream. When I say healthier, I should say I mean more whole food-ish. Does that make sense? Anyway, I used 2 cups of almond flour and 1 cup of whole wheat flour, threw in a couple of Tbsp. of ground flax seed, and also used natural cane sugar crystals. The result was the above pictures, which look absolutely nothing like PW's pictures. But as I said before, they taste awesome. Just a hint of sweet to curb the sweet tooth in you--and packed with fiber! Love that. The only thing is they do not look like a scone. In fact, they look like granola in a dish as evidenced by Steve asking me if that dish of scone sitting there was in fact homemade granola. I just said "Yes, Steve. That is homemade granola!!!! "

And you know what? He absolutely loved it. I can not even imagine how good the real scones would be...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Chicken with Tomatoes and Garlic

First of all, I think this is one of the easiest recipes with the most flavor that I have ever made. Seriously, it took me all of 12 minutes until this dude was in the oven baking. I did not have to chop one thing either. And to top it all off, the critics loved it! I WILL be making this recipe again and again.

Chicken with Tomatoes and Garlic can actually be made even healthier than as she states in the recipe. I used a few drumsticks in mine but opted to put a couple of chicken breasts in there also. The chicken breasts were delicious! Moist and all white meat--you can't go wrong with the chicken breasts! I also used whole wheat pasta to beef up the fiber and nutrient value. Steve and one of the critics thought it was "too grainy" and love the good 'ole traditional white pasta. But it did not stop them from chowing down. Therefore, the whole grain gets the win!

I did also add a bit of sugar to the tomato mixture as I always do. A lovely dish when served with a green salad. So easy people! Give it a try!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Gotta Love the Weekends...

Sometimes, it is just really nice NOT to cook. Our week and weekend has been so busy that I barely had any time in our kitchen. Which was nice for a change, I've gotta admit. On Friday night we took my parents to the Mennonite Relief Sale and ate some really yummy ethnic food including zwiebach, verenika, sausage, bohne beroggi, and pie. As you can see by the pictures, my critics do love their ethnic food. And every once in a while, my mom and I will get adventurous and see how much damage we can do preparing it. But, it's really nice to go to the MCC sale and just eat to our heart's content.
On Saturday we celebrated at a wedding of two very special people and once again had a yummy meal.

I did make this yummy chocolate cake to celebrate my father-in-law's birthday on Sunday. You can find all the details of the chocolate cake here.
I am so excited to make my next recipe but am looking for a real vanilla bean pod. I have had no luck in finding it. Argh!!!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Oh Murphy!

Here is a fun recipe idea for you and it's yummy too! Murphy's Hot Hamburger is a yummy variation on hamburger steak and homemade fries. Seriously, this gravy I think is what makes the whole dish---wow, it is yummy.
I don't think in all of my years of cooking that I have ever made a brown gravy. Sure, I know the basics behind gravy making. But it never occurred to me to use beef broth. Why? I don't know. But this was really good!
Apparently there is a famous restaurant in Oklahoma that serves this hamburger. And this hamburger is very well known to anyone who goes to this restaurant. One of my friends even said he has been there when he was a child, but I don't think he knows this burger. He probably got the kids meal or something! :)
Takes a little bit of prep with the homemade fries...and if you look at PW's step by step blog in making Murphy's Hot Hamburger, you will see her contraption that makes fries. It is really cool looking, but I don't think I want anything in my house that makes life easier for making fries. In fact, this dish is probably a once a year dish at our house. But even at that, it was really, really yummy! And I think if you run a half marathon or more, you will not feel too guilty about eating it. (That was for all of my friends who just ran Half Marathon---congrats--that's awesome!) Now go make yourself a Murphy's Hot Hamburger...

Monday, April 12, 2010

Coq Au Vin--Excuse me?

I mean really. What an odd name? I am sure it means something in like French perhaps? I'm gonna have to google that...

Ok, got it. It's a dish of chicken cooked in red wine. And that's right. It's exactly what it is. Coq au vin is a flavorful French dish---wow a French dish---never cooked a French dish!?!
Well judging from my critics from the oldest to the very youngest, we should maybe live in France. HA!
To begin with, I am not a huge fan of bacon (or pork, for that matter). But I really believe you would not attain the rich flavor of this dish without the peppered bacon. You render the fat basically and cook everything else with it. Then for the finale, you bake it all together for an hour and a half. What you are left with is flavor. Plain and simple, flavor. Red wine which has simmered with all of the bits left in your pan is poured over everything to even further enhance the pepper, garlic, onion, bacon, and chicken. I used only chicken breasts, although the recipe calls for a whole chicken. I also cooked penne pasta instead of linguine. You can adapt to what you have in your kitchen. And of course the fresh parsley was a very nice added touch.
This recipe is a keeper. Try it. You won't believe how easy it is to make a French dish!

A Berry is a Berry

Mondays always come too quickly after the weekend, but for some reason I welcome back the routine of the week. We are completely out of cereal and I was in no mood to make eggs (surprise!), and everyone ate toast yesterday (on the WAY to church, mind you), so...

Muffins it was! I must say, that these muffins were good, but probably much better if you would have used the blueberries as the recipe states. Since I have no fresh blueberries and I had strawberries that were on the verge of rotting, I decided to interchange my berries. It worked and the girls thought they were about the best darn muffins they have ever eaten. However, Kassidy left her warm strawberries on her plate. I would have to admit, that warm strawberries were a bit hard for me to take also---therefore, my toaster did not go unused this morning. The recipe states to let the muffins cool completely. Well, if we were to have done that, Natalie would have for sure gone off the deep end and been almost tardy. So, the warm muffins we did eat.

I am definitely wanting to try this muffin recipe again using blueberries. Although if you're a strawberry fan, it will work. Just let them cool off please.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

An Herbal Hooray!!!

Yes, this is what all of my excitement is all about. My new venture, my attempt at fresh herbal cooking, and my attempt to be just like The Pioneer Woman. I have been amazed and completely hooked on cooking with fresh herbs since digging in to PW's recipes. And I have waited in anticipation of spring when I could get these potted and begin cooking with my own fresh herbs! Because buying them at the store has been adding up the last few months.
I know it may be a bit early, but I've already taken my scissors out there and cooked with them. I needed some cilantro the other night for my citrus dressing so I just grabbed a sprig and chopped it up. And last night, the herbed whole roasted chicken thing---so fun! I'm loving it and just hope that I can keep them alive and well so I can attempt to bring them in before the first frost next fall. We shall see...
But for now, I am going to have fun with what I've got. I hope to get some parsley yet. And I'm also praying that my sweet basil starts to look a bit more alive. The wind yesterday seems to have done it over. Either that or it is drowning from overwatering from my sweet boy.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Oh Herb, how I love thee...

I have got to take pictures to show my new obsession and renewed reason for cooking! But, Steve has my camera at work, and it will just have to wait...

But, I will give you a hint:

I could not have made this without them. And this chicken will be our new way of eating a roast chicken from now on. Truly, I have never had such moist white meat before! It was grand.

And because I made two chickens, I will be making Chicken Spaghetti for my freezer tomorrow. And maybe, just maybe I will even have enough left over for Chicken Salad Sandwiches.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Citrus Dressing and Bierocks

Just thought I'd give you another use for your cinnamon roll dough. The possibilities are endless! Tonight I made bierocks and used the dough I had made on Saturday. They turned out great. If you haven't tried this dough yet, you've got to. You can find a post on it here. I use this dough for so many things and it's great to have in the fridge. My kids absolutely love bierocks and they are wonderful to have in the freezer for evenings when you need something quick.
Brown 1 pound hamburger and onion
Add drained Bavarian sauerkraut
Add as much Monterey Jack cheese that you like
Simmer all of this in a pan until cheese is melted
Make sure it has enough salt and pepper
Add a bit of mustard
Use your dough to make "palm-sized" balls, flatten and fill with meat mixture
Bake at 350 degrees for about 20-22 minutes

Also, tonight I was really craving a citrus dressing to eat on my salad. So I popped on over to PW's Tasty Kitchen and found this. I made my own salad, but used this citrus dressing. I thought it was great for something different and to my surprise, each of the kiddos ate it. Granted, they did not have seconds on salad, but hey!

Monday, April 5, 2010

An Easter Bunny Tribute

If you were to have the Easter Bunny over for cake, what kind would you make? None of my kids guessed Carrot Cake when asked this question. Perhaps it is because I have never made a carrot cake before and they have never tasted a Carrot Cake before--I'm not sure. Something about carrots and cake together--they just weren't having it.

I would have to agree with PW that Carrot Cake seems like a very appropriate dessert during the Easter season. We celebrated Kassidy's 10th birthday the other night--although today is her actual birthday--Happy Birthday Kassidy! As I said in the previous post, I made lemon and strawberry cupcakes and decided to make a Carrot Cake as well. Neither Steve or I would ever opt to eat Carrot Cake but it was kind of fun to do something different, and the cake turned out good. For those of you Carrot Cake lovers, you will be impressed. I used a large sheet cake pan and I think I would use a slightly smaller one so the cake would be a little bit thicker. It was moist and had a nice mild spicy flavor. And an added bonus: 2 cups of veggies in the cake batter!

I think my children would rather eat their carrots raw like the Easter bunny though...

Thursday, April 1, 2010

You won't Believe it!

I've been really excited to try this frosting that PW has raved about. Looking at the instructions, it looks like it would not turn out at all like it does. PW described it like the filling of a twinkie or a ding dong. That's where she had me! I love twinkies and ding dongs...
And this frosting is not far from it! Light and creamy and perfect on cupcakes! You begin this recipe by thickening milk with flour. ODD!! But it turns out terrific! Try it next time you need some frosting for some cupcakes. I put this frosting on lemon and strawberry cupcakes. I can only imagine how yummy it would be on chocolate, and better yet--yellow cake! Can you say twinkies?!!!