Friday, July 30, 2010

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

For some reason A has been begging for 3 days to make cupcakes...I think he saw the toy story sprinkles his grandma brought him and the liners. So I finally broke down and made them even though I know he only really cares about the frosting.

I decided to go with chocolate cupcakes so I went with a tried and true recipe, Hershey's Best Chocolate cake. I will warn you this recipe IS NOT good for cupcakes. It is very thin and is very hard to pour into cupcake tins...if I didn't have a little one begging specifically for cupcakes I would have gone the cake route! I made quite the mess even after moving the batter into a measuring cup with a spout!

Hershey's Chocolate Cake-adapted from Hershey
1 3/4 cups flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk(I did use almond milk)
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup boiling water
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup applesauce
1 batch of peanut butter frosting

Preheat oven to 350. Mix together dry ingredients. Add in milk, oil, applesauce, eggs, and vanilla. Beat on medium speed for 2 mins. Stir in boiling water. Pour into floured and greased cake pans or muffin tins.(NOT recommended for muffin tins though) Bake for 30-35 mins for cake or 22-25 mins for cupcakes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

*I got one dozen mini cupcakes, 16 regular size, and 4 ice cream cone made quite a lot! These were quite tasty, super moist, perfectly chocolatey and even had a bit of crunch around the edges. YUM!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Beef Empanadas

I first ran across this recipe on Jenn's Food Journey, at least the idea. But I knew I didn't want to use store bought dough so I went to my trusty friend Hallee's site and she also has a empanada recipe on her blog, so I used her dough recipe which is quick and simple!

Just in case you haven't seen yet, you should head over to Hallee the Homemaker and see her WONDERFUL blogiversary prize she is awarding to one lucky winner! It is something all cooks/bakers need...and I love mine, but love this one more!!

Beef Empinadas-adapted from Jenn's Food Journey and Hallee the Homemaker
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp kosher salt
10 tbsp cold butter, cut up
4-6 tbsp COLD water

Mix flour and salt together. Cut in butter using a pastry cutter, fork, or fingers until dough looks like peas. Slowly add in 4 tbsp water and mix gently with fork, keep adding water 1 tbsp at a time until a soft dough forms. Divide dough in half, kneed a couple times(not too much as it makes it tough), flatten, and roll out. Using a circle cutter cut out circles, place on cookie sheet. Continue until all dough has been cut. *Becareful not to re roll the dough to many times as you want a flaky crust.

1 lb ground meat(I used beef)
2 tsp taco seasoning
4 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup(or so) shredded sharp cheese
hand of of grape tomatoes, diced

Brown meat in pan and season with spices. Drain. Add in tomatoes and stir. Add in cheese and stir until melted and well combined. Cool.

Once slightly cooled, place 1-2 tsp of filling in the middle of each circle. Dampen edges with water, fold over, and press. Seal with a fork. Place on cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 mins until golden brown. *I did have some filling leftover that I will use in a quesidilla or something.

**These came out excellent! K said they tasted like a taco...while I didn't "use" my recipe for taco seasoning I did use the same spices, but it was eye balled. So for recipe sake I just said to use that. You can add whatever spices you would like. K really enjoyed them as did I. A even ate one and Q ate a bit of one. So while they were a bit labor intensive they were still worth it! They were small and a picture is coming once I can use the laptop again, I just don't know where the supply is for the camera!

Creamy Vegetable Pasta Toss

Again this is another recipe not intentionally made for this week....but I had all these veggies I needed to use asap so I went with it! This was also in an effort to go meatless at least once a week.

You may have to bare with I might not get many recipes posted until my laptop is fixed, well the cord anyway. It had a little run in with a certain 3.5 yr old and he won, so I am currently on my husband's desktop and I only last so long with it because of my carpal tunnel, plus its not very convenient!

Creamy Vegetable Pasta Toss-shared by Taste of Home
1 lb pasta(I used penne)
1 sweet pepper, sliced
1 onion, sliced
4 summer/zucchini squash
1/2 cup ranch dressing
1/2 cup sour cream
2/3 cup broth
1/2 cup parm cheese

Cook pasta until al dente. Meanwhile saute veggies for 5 mins and add in broth. Cover and cook until veggies are tender. Add in ranch and sour cream heat until warm. Drain pasta and add to veggie mix. Stir throughly and serve.

*At first I thought this was water...aka too much broth. Or it could have been that I used ranch dressing and not dip, which may have been thicker. K ate it....and really liked it. I had a run in with chocolate cupcakes and peanut butter frosting so I wasn't hungry at dinner time. I did try some as I put away the leftovers and the sauce thickened nicely around the noodles and gave a great flavor. It was also pretty easy and used up the tasty summer veggies. I did mean to put some grape tomatoes in the mix as well. You can also add in carrots but I didn't have any. *Picture coming soon...

Monday, July 26, 2010

Homemade Rice Pilaf

I decided to give my mom back her FOUR Taste of Home cookbooks I had since oh I think Christmas...but before I did I went through and wrote down all the recipes I wanted to try as I knew I could get them online. I am already off the menu for the week, but it was stuff I had on hand so it still worked well. I have also been looking to find a good pilaf recipe as I love the "boxed" stuff.

This was served with grilled chicken and grilled rainbow carrots. If you haven't tried them and you see them, give them a try! They are delicious! Ok now on to the recipe....

Homemade Rice Pilaf-shared from Taste of Home
1 cup brown rice
1/2 cup thin egg noodles or broken vermicelli
1/4 cup butter
2 tsp minced garlic
2 bouillon cubes
2 3/4 cup water

Melt butter in large sauce pan. Add in rice and broken noodles, saute and stir until golden brown. Add in water, garlic, and bouillon cubes. Bring to a boil and stir. Cover and let simmer for 30 minutes until rice is cooked and broth is absorbed. Stir in parsley and serve.

**I know this might not be a low sodium side dish...I am not even sure if the seasoning was low sodium but it did not taste salty at all. I think this needed a bit more liquid as I used the brown rice, so if anyone knows how much I should use for next time let me know. It still tasted great, there was a bit of a bit still with the rice but you really couldn't tell. K really liked this and said it was better than "the box", so it will be made again! I will also probably cut the butter down next time...I even think that it called for 1/2 cup butter and that is a lot of butter!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

So seen as last week I forgot we had dinner plans with a friend, plus a party to attend on saturday my menu got a little skewed so I apologize for repeats!

-Baked Blueberry Oatmeal
-Double Oat Breakfast Cookies
-Pumpkin Apple Streusal Cake

-Beef Empanadas
-Mu Shu Chicken Wraps
-Cheese Steaks
-Creamy Veggie Bow Tie Toss
-Beer Braised Beef

This was a tough menu to make as I have very little food in the house...although it should be easy as I should be starting from scratch. I just can't seem to make up my mind! I'm still working on August's menu...and its just not happening! I have a very long list of recipes to try though....

I also may make some simple blueberry muffins...even though we *tried* to go picking today the prices were just outrageous($3.29/lb)!! So we passed, I know I can get them at the store or a local stand for $2.50. I have one more place to check so I may head out there this week! Are pick your own berries that pricey anywhere else?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Pineapple Salsa Chicken

This was another easy to make meal perfect for a hot summer day...except today was rainy and cooler than it has been in weeks! I was originally going to make beef empanadas but realized I was missing an ingredient so this came into play!

Pineapple Salsa Chicken-shared from What a Crock!
1 lb chicken breast
1 jar salsa
1 20 oz can pineapple tidbits(although I did used crushed)
2-3 cups black beans

Place chicken in crock pot. Cover with black beans, salsa, and pineapple. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, or high for 4 hours. Once chicken is done, you can shred or chop and add it back to the sauce. Serve over rice.

**This was just ok...the pineapple didn't seem to stand out as much, it could have been because it was crushed and not the tidbits.(I just used what I had on hand). The original recipe says to drain the pineapple, but leave the liquid in the canned beans. I decided I didn't need the extra salt(plus my beans were cooked by me) so I left the juice in the pineapple. We have enough for leftovers for at least 2 meals, plus I froze some to make burritos, tacos, or whatever with it! I think the addition of corn work work very well at the end.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Double Oat Breakfast Cookies

Well seen as it is raining today...which I was NOT aware of, so much for passing showers! A and I decided to try these breakfast cookies that have been on our menu for 2 weeks now and have been neglected do to the extreme heat and humidity! A is my helper when it comes to baking...he runs the kitchen-aid mixer. Hopefully both boys will love them seen as they involve one of their favorite breakfast cereals!

Double Oat Breakfast Cookies-adapted from What a Crock!
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup applesauce
1 banana*
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup raisins or chocolate chips
3 rounded cups cheerios

Preheat oven to 375. Cream together butter and peanut butter. Add in banana, applesauce, sugar, salt, and baking soda. Mix until combined. Add in water and mix again. Combine flour and oats and add it to the mix. Fold in cheerios and raisins/choc. chips. Place by 1/4 cup spoonfuls onto baking sheet and slightly flatten. Bake for 12-14 mins until golden brown.(The original says 10-12 mins but mine took longer to cook!)

*you can use 1 egg in place of the banana, I just had a very ripe one needing to be used!

**These were a very chewy cookie with a crunch from the cherrios. The boys loved it...perhaps next time I may leave the banana out. It was ok but it seemed to overpower it. Still good and filling though!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Coconut Rice and Beans

In an effort to attempt to eat at least ONE meatless meal a week I stumbled upon this one. We LOVE coconut here so I immediately put it on my list. It's cheap and easy!

So we had quite the ordeal making this tonight...I was planning on using my rice cooker. But after 15 mins of nothing happening in it, I took a closer look and realized that the button wasn't staying down on the cook option. So I put the rice/milk into a pot to start cooking it on the stove...and don't you know I turned the wrong burner on and MELTED the feet off the rice cooker. So in case it wasn't done already that did it in...I wondered why A kept asking me what that smell was...and this time there was actually a smell to smell!(He had been asking me all day when there was no smell!) So needless to say I had to say goodbye to the rice cooker...may it rest in peace...

Onto the recipe!

Coconut Rice and Beans-shared from $5 Dollar Dinners
1 15 oz can of lite coconut milk
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup pineapple juice
1 cup brown rice
2-3 cups cooked beans(I used red beans)

*In the event that something tragic happens to your rice cooker...
Place water, pineapple juice, and milk into a pan and bring it to a rolling boil. Add in rice, cover and simmer for 15 mins or until rice is cooked. DO NOT TAKE LID OFF! Let stand for 5 mins and fluff rice with fork. Stir in beans.

**I found that this did not have much flavor at all...I was a bit stumped. I think it may have been the milk I used. I did double the recipe as I wanted extras. Once I added some shredded sweetened coconut and a touch of salt it satisfied my taste buds better. K really enjoyed it and the boys devoured the beans. I will try it again with a different brand of milk!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

I had some pretty sad looking zucchini that was not going to make it much longer so I knew I needed to use it as soon as possible. I decided I wanted to make some chocolate muffins or cookies with it so I began my search! After some adaptations and doubling the recipe this is what we got!* I have no picture because well they look just like my Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins and didn't want to bore you...

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins-adapted from Recipezaar
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup oil
3/4 cup applesauce
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups shredded zucchini
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Mix together dry ingredients. Add in eggs, milk, vanilla, applesauce, and oil. Mix throughly. Add in zucchini and fold in chocolate chips. Place in prepared muffin tins(either greased or paper cups). Cook at 350 for 20 mins or until cooked thorugh. *If doing mini muffins they take about 10 mins.

I ended up with 2 dozen mini muffins and 21 regular sized muffins.

**These came out very moist and chocolaty.

Monday, July 19, 2010

3 Cheese Garlic Chicken Pasta

I stumbled upon this recipe while reading menu plans a couple weeks ago. It sounds delicous and something I know K and I will enjoy...A might like it because it is similar to mac and cheese and Q well for some reason doesn't like pasta, so I'll leave some chicken and cheese aside for him.

3 Cheese Garlic Chicken Pasta- from Heavenly Homemakers
2 cups cooked chicken, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tbsp olive oil
3 oz cream cheese
3 cups milk
3 tbsp butter(omitted)
1/4-1/2 grated parmesan cheese
1/2-1 cup shredded cheese
2 1/2 cups whole wheat pasta

Saute chicken and garlic in olive oil. Reduce heat to keep warm. Add milk and pasta to pot and bring to a boil, stir constantly while pasta is tender and milk is thickened. Add in cream cheese, cheddar, and parm cheese. Stir until melted. Add in chicken and garlic, stir to combine.

**Yes I added broccoli...and green beans. I added more milk and more macaroni, but the measurements had to have been off because it was still very saucy so in went the veggies. K really liked it...It was probably the best mac and cheese I've ever been able to make and no roux was needed! For some reason with 2 cloves of garlic we had NO garlic I will definitely bump up the amount next time. It could have been the garlic I had....

More Blog Awards

I received 2 blog awards from my dear friend Amy over at A Foodie Fairytale. Thank you Amy for the awards! Please make sure to check out her blog for more tasty treats both savory and sweet!

First up is...this one! The Sweet Blog Award

The guidelines for this award is:
- Give this award to 10 sweet bloggers.
- Make a post about the award including the picture and mention the person who gave it to you.
- Put the award on your blog.
- Let your nominated 10 know you’ve awarded them by leaving a comment.

and the other award is: The Sunshine Award...although I have already received this I still thank Amy for it!

So now onto the nominations...I will only include what I can think of who hasn't already gotten this award and perhaps some new faces will show up! Of course if you haven't received both awards, now you have!

1. Laura at Heavenly Homemakers... because I am trying one of her recipes for dinner this week! She also has some wonderful ideas on her site!
2. What A Crock...not only do I love the name of her blog, but I love that most of the recipes are for the crockpot! I also loved her Banana Coconut Pancakes!
3. Bee at Simply Bee Happy...I just love her blog and the goals she hopes to attain each day! She has a beautiful 3 yr old and I also love to see her recipes and menu plans!
4. Sweet and Savory...she is a new blog I read! I love reading about her adventures at the Farmer's Market
5. Recipes from the Cookie Jar...I found this blog through the Food Revolution she was hosting each week. I love the concept of the Food Revolution show and what is not sweet about a cookie?
6.Meal Planning with Connie...I've used a few of her recipes, especially the sweet ones!
7.Hallee The Homemaker...she is my go to gal when I'm looking for something or need a cooking/baking/gardening question answered! She is one wise woman!
8.Heather at Acting Balanced...she just had a very tasty giveaway of Canadian products...only wish I had entered!
9.Debbi Does Dinner...Healthy another new favorite of mine! Can't wait to try her Lentil Sloppy Joes!
10.Terra at Barefood ConTerra...we frequently swap recipes either on the blog or via fb!

Menu Plan Monday

So let's see this past week we didn't get to some meals that I had planned so you will see some repeats! It was hot that we ate leftovers for 2 dinners and just had sandwiches for lunch. That seemed to work out very well!

-coconut beans and rice
-3 cheese garlic chicken pasta
-Pineapple Salsa Chicken
-Beef Empanadas

-Carrot Cake for a cookout
-Double Oat Breakfast Cookies

We also have a retirement party to attend on saturday so I don't plan on cooking dinner that day. There could be more recipes to come...but it's still pretty warm her!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Margarita Chicken Salad

Here is another favorite chicken salad of ours! I found it a few years ago in a magazine and its become quite popular in our house! It is very refreshing and tasty! I generally always have the ingredients on hand!

Margarita Chicken Salad
1 lb chicken
margarita mix(without alcohol)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp lime zest
1/2 cup mayo(or miracle whip)
juice of 1 lime
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

Place chicken, margarita mix(enough to cover chicken), lime zest, and cumin in container or zip top bag. Seal and let marinate for at least 4 hours. Grill chicken. Discard marinade. Chop or shred chicken. Mix with juice, mayo, and pepper. Serve on rolls.

**sorry no picture...we actually haven't had this all summer, but I think it needs to make an appearance very soon!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Oriental Broccoli Salad

I seem to really have a lack of new recipes this week...we have been eating from the pantry or freezer and sometimes they are already prepared. So with that said, I'm going to share a favorite salad of ours that I make for even gets requested now! I can't remember where I got the recipe from, but its delicious! I also scored a great deal on the broccoli slaw today and picked up a roasted chicken at the store and lunch was served! You can also use shredded cabbage, but I'm not a cabbage fan so I use the broccoli slaw/rainbow salad

Oriental Broccoli Slaw
2 bags broccoli slaw
2 pkg ramen noodles, crushed(toss seasoning)
4 tbsp sunflower seeds
4 oz toasted almonds,chopped/slivered(omitted)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1-2 cooked, chopped chicken breast
1/2 cup olive oil
4 tbsp sugar
6 tbsp rice vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
1/2 tsp each:salt, black pepper, garlic powder

Mix together salad ingredients. Combine dressing ingredients and stir to combine. Pour over salad ingredients and mix well! YUM

**When I made it today it was just broccoli slaw and chicken...I didn't think about getting the noodles when i was at the store as it was a last minute decision. I did add some blueberries to it and it was tasty! I have also made it numerous times without the chicken!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Creamy Chicken Ranch Enchiladas

I recently found a new blog to follow...and found quite a few new tasty recipes to try! This one I found on Jenn's Food Journey and because I am cooking from the pantry this week I had everything on hand! I did add in some broccoli as I only had 2 chicken breast and wanted to bump up the nutrition....and K will like it better because its IN something!

Creamy Chicken Ranch Enchiladas-adapted from Jenn's Food Journey
2-4 chicken breast, cooked, sliced or shredded
1 cup ranch dressing
1 cup plain yogurt
1 head broccoli, finely chopped
1-2 jalepeno peppers, deseeded, finely chopped
1/2 cup shredded cheese
6-8 tortillas
1 roma tomato, chopped

Mix together ranch and yogurt. Divide in half and mix with chicken, broccoli, and jalepeno. Place mixture down the center of tortillas and roll. Place seam side down in 9X11 baking dish. Continue until all filling is used. Place remaining dressing mix over the tortillas and sprinkle with cheese and tomatoes. Bake at 375 for 25 mins.

*I choose to use the yogurt because as I was reading Jenn's review she said it was very rich, plus this is what I had on hand. The filling was delicious and it worked out perfectly! I used 2 small peppers fresh from the garden. This was excellent and not too rich either. K loved it and A even tried a few bites... after all it had his favorite veggie in it!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Creamy Sausage Rigatoni and first garden harvest!

I originally saw this recipe in the Taste of Home Cooking School book. K LOVES this combination of food and I thought this was an interesting twist...I do have to say that we will probably never make it another way again!*Picture coming soon!

Creamy Sausage Rigatoni
1 lb rigatoni(or any pasta)
1 lb sausage(sweet or hot),sliced
1 onion, sliced
1 sweet pepper, sliced
1/2 pkg chopped baby carrots
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 26 oz jar spaghetti sauce

Bring water to a boil and add in rigatoni. Brown sausage, drain. Remove from pan, add in carrots, onions, and peppers. Cook for 5-10 mins until soft. Add sausage back in along with sauce and cheese. Stir and cook to combine sauce until heated through. Drain pasta, mix in with sauce and enjoy!

*The cream cheese adds a delicious creaminess and take on this dish! Next time I'll remember to add in more garlic. I added in the carrots to help boost the veggies as we did not have any peppers. I loved the sweetness they added!

First Garden Harvest
I was able to have my first good size garden harvest after coming back from vacation. The loot included:
-2 jalapeno peppers that for some reason turned red....not sure why, anyone know?
-4 of the funniest shaped cucumbers
-1 zucchini
-4 grape tomatoes that never even saw the inside of the house
-lettuce...that was very bitter. I wasn't expecting it to grow as much as it did while I was gone and should have told K to harvest is HUGE probably 2-3 ft tall now. I have a feeling it may be gone by b/c of how bitter it was, but it is still out there.
-I sadly pulled all my broccoli plants and my cauliflower...well 1 of those only to discover that 2 now have something going on in them so we will see if i actually get cauliflower!

This post has been linked to Finding Joy in my Kitchen

Monday, July 12, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

It seems I don't have much in the house in the way of it may be quite an interesting week. We just got back from 5 days of camping and there doesn't seem to be a trip to the grocery store soon. So I am going to attempt to cook from the pantry...the fridge is practically bare except for some cheese, eggs, and milk. The freezer has some meat in it...chicken, sausage, stew meat. Things to supplement with those things....pasta, rice, and the few veggies ready for picking in the garden. I have 2-3 cukes, 1 zucchini, and 3 cherry tomatoes. So the menu I have planned may not happen...but here it is anyway! It will also be in the 90's all week!

-Sausage, onions in creamy tomato sauce
-3(or perhaps 2) cheese garlic chicken pasta
-coconut beans and rice, with grilled pineapple

-Double oat breakfast cookies

could be more, could be less! we shall see what the week will bring!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

How does your garden grow?

I am proud to say that I have YET to kill my garden. It does need some help in the weeding department, but as soon as I find some newspaper without color ink that will be taken care of. See I thought of putting down a weed barrier, but because we were trying to save money I decided against it. We didn't think it would be too bad because it is a raised bed and all new dirt....well we were wrong! I've pulled at least 2 dandelions out and numerous oak trees...yes trees, well more like saplings. So I tend to pull the big weeds when my dear Q allows. I read a blog entry one day about organic weed of them was newspaper(along with vinegar and cornmeal), as previously mentioned I'm going with the newspaper! Once I find some...(I don't subscribe to a paper, I get our local paper free, but EVERY PAGE HAD COLOR ON that won't work)

Anyway this is what we are growing...or attempting to grow. I've already had a fail, which you will see.

First up, my herbs...haven't really cooked with them much. But I hope I will at some point. I have 2 different kinds of basil (because I wanted basil and didn't realize I already purchased one kind!), Oregano, Rosemary, and Basil..they are thriving in my herb box.

Next to my herb box which rests on a concrete wall are my strawberry plants. I didn't take a picture of them because they are long past their prime, but I did get some strawberries this year that the boys all gobbled right up! Hopefully we get more next year and perhaps they will grow bigger!

Then we move on to our makeshift garden..the BIG one! Okay so its only 3 ft by 20 ft, but its working. This was not the original idea, where I really wanted it it didn't get much sun. I didn't want it behind our house as I couldn't take the boys out there without them wandering and we had to buy dirt anyway as our soil...if you can call it that is all rock and sand.

The first thing you see when you walk out our gate is my lettuce....its of the romaine family. Can't remember what its called really, but it has been quite tasty. I have been harvesting the leaves when I notice they are starting to get big and falling can harvest the whole head, but this will allow it to last longer considering I had 6 heads growing.

Next is my um...broccoli and cauliflower. As you can see from the picture, I have broccoli flowers now. I had 3 plants and all 3 had cute little heads and then BOOM they grew taller and flowered. So I did something wrong, so if anyone has any suggestions let me know. I am going to let them seed and then sprout them for broccoli sprouts, they sound tasty. And I also need to add that A was one excited 3 year old about the broccoli, after all it is his favorite!

Beside that we have some zuchhini and summer squash growing...I think I have 2 mounds of each. But I'm not sure which is which as a little boy ran off with my makers...I have one tiny squash growing so far and a BUNCH of flowers. I've grown these in the past and I have yet to kill them.

Next are my cucumbers...and I actually have 2 pretty good size ones already! I wasn't sure they were going to survive as we had a little accident when it got really cold one night, but I went ahead and planted them and they are also thriving. This is a good thing as A LOVES them! He got quite excited to see I bought some the other day!

After the cukes, there are my peppers...I have jalepenos which have 3 good size ones ready to pick. I do not even know why I decided to grow them as we don't use them that often in cooking, but I guess this will force us too!

Then I have yellow and red peppers...I have one red pepper growing and perhaps a few flowers still, but not much is happening on the yellow plant yet! I choose to plant these varieties because these are the ones that are the most expensive in the store and I love the color and the taste!

After these I have 3 varieties of tomatoes! I HAD TO HAVE heirloom tomatoes. I'm a tomato girl and wanted something different, I've never actually had them before because they are usually quite expensive, but the plants were a little easier on my budget. Of course I couldn't just drive to Lowes/Home Depot, nope I drove 20 mins out of my way to get them so I hope they are good! The first picture is of a Moonglow, orange tomato. I also have purple tomatoes. I even chose some grape tomatoes as well. I was thinking that I may have one more type of tomato, but again someone "borrowed" the markers so check back in August! I was very excited to see these growing. A was too and the I reminded him he didn't like them(even though he attempts to still eat them) he wanted on RIGHT NOW but I told him it wasn't ready yet!
And finally our late arrivals...we went to the farmer's market one day and they were doing a special kids program where they read a book and could plant 4 plants. So we ended up...who am I kidding, I ended up planting...eggplant(because I may actually get adventurous and try it), green pepper, and some variety of onion...and the garden is full so they sit happily in their pots!
Hopefully, against my husband's better wishes we will have PLENTY of veggies soon!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Need a gift idea?

I recently attended my cousin's finance's bridal shower. I really had NO clue what to get her because as wonderful as she is I had only met her once! So I looked over her registry and came up with a very creative, thoughtful, practical gift all on my own!

It did take a little extra time, but I think her reaction to it was completely worth it! She loved it and I was already asked for more "jars of awesomeness". I only wished they lived closer so I could easily get them to her!

Some of these I will give the links for and others I will post the recipes if you wish, but you will get the idea and there will be TONS of recipes found online!

Her gift included:
-2 qt batter bowl w/ cover with pb chocolate popcorn
-measuring cups and spoons
-cooking utensils
-potholders/mitts in her kitchen theme
-8x8 pyrex baking dish w/lid
-measuring shot glass(tbsp and tsp)
-bamboo towels(and I LOVED these and wanted to keep them!)
-Homemade Granola
-Homemade vanilla
-Cappuchino Waffle Mix
-Bean and Pasta Soup Mix
-Oatmeal Choc. Chip cookie mix
-Cranberry Almond Muffin Mix
-Dog Biscuit Mix 
-Pizza Dough Mix
-Rocky Road Brownie Mix

Each mix was in a mason jar or a recycled is not always easy to find a mason/canning jar. I found I started buying pasta sauce just for the jars! I then covered them in tissue paper and pretty ribbon. You can also use fabric, but the paper worked very well!  Some of the jars I used were not a wide mouth so I fashioned a piece of paper into a funnel. I then attached a recipe card onto the jar so all they have to do is dump the contents into a bowl and add the remaining ingredients.

and it all conveniently fit into a wonderful basket! It was quite heavy so it had to be carried from the bottom!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Beef "Bucchini" aka Cheeseburger Zucchini Boats

I made these for lunch today and apparently K had some tongue tie issues when trying to say what they were so, they have a new name now! I decided to spice them up a little and used my cheeseburger rice recipe I had to fill the boats. You can of course keep it simple and do it Laura's way!

Beef Bucchini-adapted from Heavenly Homemakers
1 lb ground beef
1 onion, diced small
1/2 cup ketchup(approx)
1/4 cup mustard(approx)
1 cup cooked rice
1/2 cup shredded cheese
4 zucchini

Brown beef and onion until no longer pink, drain. Add in mustard, ketchup, rice, and cheese. Stir until combined and cheese melts. Cut zucchini in half and scoop out insides of squash. Fill with meat mixture. Place on grill and cook on low for 10-15 mins until zucchini is cooked through. Sprinkle with additional cheese if desired. **Next time I will put the zucchini on first and then fill it. The filling got a little browner...

**These were very tasty and easy on a very hot day! I did measure the ketchup/mustard by taste so feel free to adjust to you liking! The bottom of the zucchini did get a little crispy, but that was more my fault for doing more than one thing at a time! Once I peeled the skin off they were delicious!! You can also parboil them and broil them instead of grilling them...but in 90+ weather I wasn't turning the oven on!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Meal Plan Monday

This is my meal plan for the week...we leave on Wednesday to go camping and we will be back sunday. We do have internet access, but I can't guarantee if I'll actually be on! We have a zoo trip planned and a wonderful wedding to attend on Saturday, kidless! (thanks to the inlaws!) K is on his own wed/thurs, but there are plenty of leftovers for him to eat and he will join us on Friday.

Hopefully we have packed enough food to keep the bottomless pit that we call my brother, filled! Never mind my 2 boys who don't always eat a traditional meal and my mom and sister will also be joining us.

-Denise's Beans...which I made over the weekend and then never ate! It was our last freezer cooking meal!
-Strip Steak, grilled summer squash, and garlic cheese grilled potatoes(This was my attempt to an anniversary dinner, we celebrate 5 years on the 9th, which I will be going to a girls' dinner that day, sorry honey!)
-Cheeseburger Zucchini Boats

Not much baking this week as its 90+ out...and I don't want to heat our house up. I did get some baking done for the trip so anything else we might need will be bought!

Camping Food:
-Smores of course!!
-1 dozen blueberry crunch muffins
-1 dozen zucchini choc. chip muffins
-Chocolate Chip cinnamon Rolls
-Peanut butter oatmeal choc. chip cookies
-Grilled chicken, pasta salad, corn
-Bacon Cheese Steak burgers, salad, homemade honey wheat rolls, chips
-Pancakes, bacon
-Eggs, Sausage
-Thursday night we are headed to my Aunt's house so she can show me how to make mac and cheese...

we also have various cookies and snacks.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Coconut Banana Pancakes

I am always looking for new pancake recipes to make. I love them, K could take them or leave them...he'd much prefer eggs, but there are only so many ways one can make eggs and it gets old (to me) after a while. So a couple weeks ago, Terra at Barefoot ConTerra, talked about these pancakes and then the recipe was asked for! I am very glad she shared!

Coconut Banana Pancakes-adapted from What a Crock!
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3-4 bananas, mashed
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
3/4 cup buttermilk*
1 tsp vanilla(I actually used 1/2 tsp vanilla,1/2 tsp coconut extract)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup applesauce
1 egg(that I now realized I forgot!)

Whisk together flour, cinnamon, soda, powder, salt, coconut, and sugar. In a separate bowl combine the egg, banana, buttermilk, butter, applesauce, and extract(s). Fold into flour mixture until all flour is incorporated. Drop by spoonful onto greased griddle and flip when bubbles form.

*no buttermilk? take 1 tbsp vinegar or lemon juice into measuring cup. Add enough milk to fill to 1 cup line. Let sit for 5 mins and add to the recipe.(I think I will be doing this for now on instead of buying separate buttermilk.

**These were fabulous! Even the non-pancake fan really liked them. The boys also enjoyed them. K and A had syrup on them, but I ate them plain and they were plenty sweet enough. They were even crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. I love that combination...absolutely delicious! Thanks Terra!! If you look at the original recipe you can also adapt the recipe to make them into muffins or a quick bread.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

We are off to go camping next week for 5 days and 4 nights. Going with us is my 15 year old bottomless pit that I call my brother! For fear he will eat ALL our food, I made some cookies to take with us. I wanted them to be filling and hopefully this will do the trick!

This is also the first time I've use applesauce in place of some of the butter in the recipe. This happened by accident as I needed 1.5 cups of butter...but only had 1 cup out. It seemed to work out very nicely!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies- adapted from Allrecipes
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup applesauce
1 1/2 cups peanut butter(I used chunky and smooth)
2 cups brown sugar(I did NOT pack them)
2 cups whole wheat flour
3 cups quick cook oats
2 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips

Cream together butter and peanut butter. Add in applesauce, sugar, vanilla, and eggs. Mix well. Mix in dry ingredients until throughly combined. Stir in chocolate chips. *This is a wet dough, not like a typical cookie dough, I wasn't sure about it at first, but it does work.

Scoop rounded tbsp onto cookie sheet. Gently press down with fork. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 mins.

**These cookies came out moist and chewy. The boys gobbled them right up!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Grilled Corn

So I have tried to grill corn before and it either burns or doesn't cook all the way. If you look online there are numerous ways to cook it. Some say to husk it, others say don't, then there is husking and wrapping in is a girl to know which is the right way. So tonight I on a whim I decided to grill the corn. I was making Tequila Lime Chicken and didn't feel like heating up the house and it FINALLY WORKED!! It was simple and easy!

Grilled corn
ears of corn
butter, optional
salt, opitional

Turn grill on high and let preheat. In the mean time, rip off corn hair and any strangly pieces of corn husk. Place on grill and turn to low still in the husk. Grill for 15-20 mins with lid closed. Turn corn every few mins to keep from burning. It took the same amount of time that my chicken did.

Serve with butter and salt.

**It was tasty and perfectly cooked. It even made for husking and getting the corn hair off much easier than if I husked it before hand. I may have to also cook my corn this way!