Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pirate Pumpkins

How cute is that?  They have the same expression on their face.
Ewww...pumpkin guts.
Noah singing.  He's so theatrical.

Meatloaf Minis & Fries

My family and I love meatloaf.  But as much as I love meatloaf, I hate the hour of so that it takes to cook.  With these minis though, the time's cut in half.  Grab you cupcake pan and get to cooking.
1 lb ground turkey
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp seasoning salt
1 tsp bay leaves
1 clove minced garlic
1 tbsp caraway
2 tbsp cocktail sauce
1 egg
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Mix all ingredient's together in a bowl.  Generously spray your cupcake pan with Pam.  Fill pan to the top with meat.  If using ground beef do not fill to the top with the meat mixture.  The grease from the beef spills over the side if you overfill.  If using ground turkey, it is very lean and can be filled to the top with the mixture.  Place in oven for 25 minutes.  Brush tops with barbecue sauce the last 5 minutes of cooking.
I have never cooked with Caraway before.  I have actually never even heard of it.  Have you?  This is an amazing spice. It's a very smokey taste, and smells very woodsy.
For Fries
8 potatoes cut length wise
1 tbsp bay leaves
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp steak seasoning
1 tbsp ground cumin
Place all ingredients in large bag with potatoes.  Shake to evenly coat.  Spray cookie sheet with Pam before placing potatoes on sheet.  Cook at 400 degrees for 40 minutes.  If you like more crispy fries, like I do,  place the broiler on for the last 5 minutes of cooking.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Loaded Burgers

So a few nights ago I found this great picture of burgers wrapped in bacon and pineapple on pintrest.  I thought this was a perfect opportunity to include my amazing homemade burgers.
1 lb 93/7 ground beef
1 egg
2 tbsp tarter sauce
1 tsp dill
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
4 slices pineapple
8 strips turkey bacon
Mix all ingredients together in beef with your hands.  Patty up into four burgers.  Place a slice of pineapple in the middle of a patty. 
Wrap two slices of bacon around the patty.  Gently press into beef on underside.  Cook burgers on a medium heat.  Place burgers on grill with the pineapple up first for ten minutes.  Flip after ten minutes and cook an additional ten minutes.
These turned out really wonderful!  These will defiently become a favorite in our home.

A Kitchen Makeover

Today Shawn and I painted the kitchen.  I love painting.  Well, I should say, I love what a difference paint makes.  Do you have a ReStore in your area?  They're awesome.  It's run by Habitat for Humanity.  People take all kinds of building supplies, paints, tiles, shutter etc. and donate leftover supplies.  Then the restore sells it for a fraction of what it would cost.  You name it, they probably have it.  Anyways, today we went looking for some paint for the kitchen and came home with this amazing mocha/gray color.  I love it.  It's such a calming color.  And with the white cabinets it makes it that much brighter.  I also got these great valances from the thrift store today.  It was actually one long valance and I cut it and made two.

Didn't these pictures turn out so cute.  I bought frame from the dollar store.  And the paper is scrap booking paper I already had.  So today's makeover on the kitchen cost $24.38.  Here's the break down:
1 gallon paint $8-
1 valance (cut into two) $2.38
6 black frames $6-
2 candles $2-
2 hurricane glasses $2-
2 bags of split peas $2-
2 bags black beans $2-
I'll get some picture up of the valances in the day light.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Shower Curtain Obsession

I love shopping at thrift stores.  I always find really great deals.  I thought I'd share this weeks great finds. 
First I must admit my obsession....SHOWER CURTAINS.  Yea, I know that sounds really odd.  If I had enough shower curtains I'd change it once a week.  When I saw this shower curtain on Friday I got so excited because I don't have anything in blue.  Isn't it great!  And I got the candle holder below.  Doesn't it compliment the shower curtain nicely?  I think so.  So would you like to know the grand total?  Wanna take a guess?  Okay, I'll wait......
The shower curtain was $2.38.
And the candle holder was $1.38.
Grand total $3.76.
Amazing!!!  Can't beat that.  My bathroom looks like a totally different room.  I love it! 
What do you think?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Fall Festivities

Today we went in search of a pumpkin patch.  Although we found several, we opted to stop at a little one  on the side of the road out in farm country.  
After pumpkins were picked and paid for it was time to leave.  Noah had his mind set on getting a large bucket in which he could fill with lots of candy on Halloween night.
The picture above is of "ugly fruit" as Shawn described it.  The man at the patch said they sell off his shelves like crazy.  People put them in their basements and they ward off spiders.  He said they release a terrible odor that spiders tend to not be very fond of.  With my disgust for spiders, I told the man that I would take the whole crate.  No..not really.  But I don't care much for spiders.  Or any or sort of insect for that matter.

This was the original pumpkin that Noah wanted, but we talked him into getting a smaller one. 
You know who would be scooping all the guts out.  Noah took our advise and chose a smaller pumpkin.

We also were able to get one dozen farm fresh eggs.  Yummy!!
Happy Fall!!

My Crazy Boys

I had to share this goofy and crazy picture.  Shawn took this picture a few weeks ago of Noah.  The boys were blowing the leaves in the yard to get ready for the removal the following day.  Noah wanted Shawn to point the blower in his face.  This is the image of my sweet child that he got.  I love it!  These two are crazy and share a pretty special relationship. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Hearty Beef Stew

1 lb lean ground beef
1/2 purple onion
1 can corn, drained
1 can black beans, undrained
2 small cans tomato sauce
1 can diced tomatoes
3 cups kale
3 cups uncooked whole wheat rotini pasta
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp garlic salt
t tsp thyme
1 tsp oregano
3 tbsp ketchup
3 tbsp mustard
2 packages onion soup dry mix
8 cups water

This was a very delicious and filling stew.  Hubby said it was my best stew yet. 
I hope it turns out great for you.
First, get your 8 cups of water on the stove.  Once your water is boiling add your two packages of onion soup mix.
Chop half of a purple onion. 
 I heard once that onions will only make you cry if you're cutting with a dull knife.
Have you ever heard that? 
Wash your kale in cool water.  Next pull the stem out of the center and then chop the kale in larger chunks.
Brown your hamburger and add your onions.  Cook for about 5 minutes to soften the onions.
Next add the hamburger to your water with the onion mix. 
 Add all ingredients to boiling water except pasta. 
Boil on medium for about 20 minutes.  
Add the pasta and cook for an additional 20 minutes.
Let me know what you think.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Thanksgiving Dinner In About An Hour

I have to be honest, I'm not a huge fan of turkey.  Gasp...What?  I know.  Someone who doesn't like turkey?  So in my Thanksgiving dinner I'm making chicken.  The real white meat!  In my kitchen tonight I made this delicious and fairly healthy meal.
Yams are usually made with loads of butter, brown sugar and calories.  While they do taste amazing, my hips don't appreciate the extra calories.  So I tried to come up with an idea to substitute the butter and sugar.  I've got it...PEARS.  These were fantastic.  Here's what I did.  You'll need:
1 29 oz can unsweetened yams
1 16 oz can pears
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup small marshmallows
Preheat oven to 375.  Open and drain the pears and yams.  In oven safe dish spray pam.  Add yams.  Run a knife through the pears until they are finely diced.  Add the pears to the yams and stir.  Place in oven and cook for 35 minutes.  Pull out and add the marshmallows.  Put back in over for an additional 10 minutes.  Once you pull of out the oven add the cinnamon to the top of the marshmallows.
For the chicken you'll need:
8 chicken drum sticks
2 tsp poppy seeds
2 tsp crushed mint
1 tbsp paprika
2 tsp chili powder
1 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
Before I rubbed the seasoning mixture on the chicken drum sticks I removed the skin.  Heat the grill to medium and add the chicken.  Cook about 15 minutes and flip on four sides.
The chicken was great.  The mint with the taste of smokey barbecue flavor was very unique.
The stuffing was a mix from a box but instead of the butter I added apple sauce in place of the butter. 
The green beans were just frozen and I steamed them.
 And there you have it.  Thanksgiving dinner in about an hour!!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Ready....Set....Start Your Grills for Pork Loin


This pork tenderloin has quickly become a family favorite.  It's moist, juicy and so low in fat.  And it's surprisingly cheap.  It's only about 3.99/lb.  This was 1.35 lbs and will feed our family of three easily.
Preheat your grill while you get your rub together.  For the rub you'll need:
3 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp basil
1 tbsp cumin
Mix all ingredients together.  Rub directly on your pork loin.  With grill placed at a medium temperature, cook pork on one side for 25 minutes.  Turn pork and cook for an additional 25 minutes.  I typically cook 30 minutes per pound.  Included in that 30 minutes is the resting period of the meat.  The last 5 minutes add barbecue sauce if you like.  Once you remove from grill, let it rest for about 10 minutes before cutting.  This will redistribute the juices.  I never use to let my meats just sit before cutting into them.  What a difference it makes!!

With this pork I also made up a very simple pasta salad with tomatoes.  It was sure delicious.
You'll need:
6 ounces of wheat angel hair pasta
4 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 cups diced tomatoes
2 tsp garlic salt
2 tsp rosemary
1 tsp dill
2 tbsp butter
Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package.  Wait for the pasta to be completely done before starting to cook the tomatoes.  If you cook the tomatoes before the pasta is done, the tomatoes become soggy.  After the pasta is done cooking, just turn off the water and let it set in the hot water to keep it hot.
Melt the butter in a sauce pan.  Once butter is melted add the tomatoes, rosemary and dill.  Cook for about 7 minutes or just until tomatoes are hot.  Drain the pasta and put in bowl.  Toss the pasta with the olive oil, garlic salt and balsamic vinegar.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Breakfast for Dinner

A delicious and very quick meal awaits you...It's breakfast for dinner!!  This literally takes 15 minutes to put together and is so satisifying and filling.
12 eggs
1 chopped zuchini
2 diced tomatoes
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese shredded
1 lb sausage
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp basil
2 tbsp milk

Brown sausage in skillet.  Once sausage is cooked thoroughly add zucchini and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes just to brown the zucchini.  Meanwhile, break all eggs in large bowl and mix milk, garlic, pepper.  Mix well.  Spray a casserole dish with pam.  Add sausage and zucchini, add tomatoes and top with 3/4 cup of cheese.  Next add you egg mixture over the top.  Bake in oven at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.  Take out of oven after 35 minutes and top with the remaining cheese.  Put back in the oven just to melt the cheese.
It's great with a dollop of sour cream.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Monster Cupcakes & Cream Cheese Frosting

I searched the Internet for weeks for the perfect cupcakes for Noah's Birthday.  I knew these cute little monsters would do the trick.  I found this idea from  To make these I just used a store bought cake mix.  I used the confetti one so that the cake would be as colorful as these little guys.
I did use a homemade cream cheese frosting that was amazing.  I found the recipe for the frosting at but was not very pleased with the first time I tried it.  I made 6 dozen of these babies so with the second batch I changed the recipe.  The second time the frosting turned out great!

To make them you'll need:
1 bag large marshmallows
1 bag small marshmallows
1 box food coloring
Sprinkles in the matching frosting colors
Premixed tube of black frosting for the eyes
Colored cupcake liners

Cream Cheese Frosting
4 oz unsalted butter at room temperature
8 oz cream cheese at room temperature
1 tbsp vanilla
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp milk

For the frosting, cream the butter and cream cheese in a bowl until smooth.  Next slowly add the powdered sugar and then the vanilla.  The frosting may seem a bit thin until you put the cupcakes in the fridge.  It actually makes it easier to work with.

Separate the frosting in four or five different bowls depending on the colors you are going to use on your cupcakes.  Mix a different color in each bowl and frost with the coordinating cupcake liner color.  Next top with the coordinating sprinkles.  Add a black dot on the marshmallows for the eyes.  Put a small amount of frosting on the bottom of the marshmallow to help it stick to the cupcake.

Once all cupcakes are frosted keep in refrigerator until ready to serve.  This were a definite hit!!!  They turned out great.  What a great idea for Halloween cupcakes.  The googly eyes seem to follow you around the room.

Happy Birthday Noah

Happy Birthday my sweet boy. Mommy and daddy are so proud of you.  You are making great strides in life and have made amazing progress at school.  I have never met such an empathic and loving child.  I know the Lord has very special plan for your life.  I hope you have a wonderful and amazing year as an eight year old Noah.  I love you with all my heart.
Mommy & Noah
 Daddy & Noah

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Homemade Tacos

These are amazing, good for you and oh so fast.  Yummy tacos.  My family and I eat tacos about once a week.  We LOVE them!  Here's my easy recipe for tacos.
What you'll need:
1 lb ground turkey or lean beef
1 can diced tomatoes (not drained)
2 bell peppers
1 can black beans (not drained)
1 1/2 tbsp taco seasoning (see recipe here)
9 corn or flour tortillas
Olive oil
1 cup sharp shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 water
Brown the turkey or beef.  When the meat is almost cooked add the bell pepper chunks.  When the meat is fully cooked add the black beans, canned tomatoes, taco seasoning and water.  Simmer mixture over medium heat for about 20 minutes.  Mixture will seem very watery but all liquid should be absorbed in that 20 or 25 minutes.  If using corn tortillas, heat 1 tsp of olive oil and place one tortilla in pan, warm both sides and place on paper towel.  Cook the remainder of the tortillas.  Add some of the meat mixture and top with cheese.
Serve with a fresh salad and top the salad with a sweet salsa.
It's amazing!!!

Mexican Soup

The leaves are turning, the temperature's dropping and soup season is here.  I love soup.  I like making a large pot of soup and then freezing half of it.  It's what I've been eating for the past several week while at school for lunch.  Yum!  Amazing!  This soup is homemade and is absolutely delicious.  The night before I made this soup we had a whole chicken that was cooked in the crock pot.  I saved the juice and used the dark meat from the chicken that was left over.  For this soup you'll need:
10 cups of water
3 cups of chicken broth
   (you can use either premixed broth, bouillon cubes or left over chicken broth from the crock pot)
3 tbsp of DIY taco seasoning (see recipe here)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups chopped, cooked and shredded chicken
1 can diced tomatoes
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced bell pepper
1 cup navy beans
1 cup pinto bean
1 cup black eyed peas
Fresh Romano Cheese for Garnish
Soak the beans over night as directed by the package.  Or if using canned beans drain and rinse the beans.  Get the water boiling on the stove and add all ingredient's.  Turn to a medium heat a boil until beans are tender.  Usually about 45 minutes.  When cooked to your liking remove from heat and serve.  Top with Romano cheese.

DIY Taco Seasoning

Does your family live on tacos and burritos like mine does?  We absolutely love tacos and burritos.  And they're so easy.  But did you know that most taco seasonings contain mono sodium glutamate (MSG)?  And those little packages of taco seasonings are almost a dollar each.  Want to make your own?  This recipe is awesome.  I not only use this seasoning for tacos and burritos but also tried it in a Mexican soup I made last week and it was wonderful.
You'll need:
1/4 cup chili powder
2 tsp garlic salt
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp paprika
1 tbsp diced dried onions
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
Mix all ingredients together and store in air tight container.  I use about 1 1/2 tbsp per 1 lb of meat.
Idea for DIY taco season adopted from several different blogs.
Of course I changed them to my liking.