Tuesday, September 2, 2014

My Favorite Spices

Like I have said before I do not like complicated recipes.  Some recipes call for 15 ingredients for a simple meal and first my pocket book and my memory cannot do all that.  I love recipes that are easy and I can remember them without having to look it up for quick dinners.   So when it comes to spices that do all the work in the meal I am sold!!!

This first one I bought for my husband's childhood favorite recipe of Spaghetti Salad but there are times I do not have all the ingredients for it.  So the other day we had left over pasta from dinner and I needed a quick lunch for myself and our 3 and 1 year old.  I heated up the pasta with a little butter and then added a tablespoon of this Salad Supreme seasoning.  It was delicious and my little ones loved it!

Now this next spice is one of my absolute favorites.  We bought it at Costco a while ago and one night we decided on stir fry for dinner and I realized I didn't have any sesame oil or soy sauce (which I usually put in my stir fry) but I had this.  Honestly all I did was cook some chicken, onions, vegetables in a little oil and then topped it with 1/4 cup of this sweet ginger garlic seasoning-- it was amazing!  It makes for a light stir fry that again was eaten by my whole family, and with 5 little kids that is a great accomplishment ;)

This last spice is great for cooking outside on the barbecue or indoors and still have that barbecue taste.  My husband made these delicious grilled chicken and vegetables by rubbing a little oil and seasoning on it.

Spices are wonderful addition to make a simple dish into something AMAZING!!  What are your favorite spices??  
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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Chocolate Cake

Today is my birthday and the best present I can give myself is a Nice Big Chocolate Cake!!  Honestly is there anything better??  My favorite candy bar is Reese's Peanut Butter cup and so I am using that as my inspiration.

I used a box cake mix because that is what I had on hand (most of the time I would make a homemade one like this

After I baked the cake I let it cool slightly and then placed both layers on a cookie sheet and froze them.  I have heard this makes sure the cake stays super moist.  

I made a peanut butter cookie dough using this recipe from Six Sisters' Stuff.  What I love about their recipe is how simple it is.  A lot that I saw online used cream cheese, tons of butter, sweetened condensed milk and honestly it was just too many ingredients and too expensive for me.  This recipe was perfect!!   After I made it I patted it into my 9 in cake pan and placed that into my freezer as well.  

After a few hours I put the layers together on my plastic cake stand with a lid and placed back in the freezer overnight.  (If you do not have a cake stand like this a large bowl with a lid turned upside works great)

In the morning I took the cake out of the freezer and let it come to room temperature.  I then frosted it with chocolate frosting.  

I took 6 peanut butter cups -chopped and 1 cup of peanut butter M&Ms and sprinkled them on top.  
Melt one large chocolate bar in the microwave and drizzle over it all.  

Trust me this is one delicious cake but have a large glass of milk on hand when you enjoy it!

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Crockpot Chicken Enchilada Soup

This is my go to recipe when we need a quick dinner.  It has all the taste of enchilada without all the work.  I based this recipe off of my regular Chicken Enchiladas recipe.  You can serve this over rice, in a tortilla or chips like I did.

Crockpot Chicken Enchilada Soup
4 chicken breasts
2 cans cream of chicken soup -- or homemade which we always do
1 large can green enchilada sauce
16 oz carton of sour cream
1 medium onion diced
1 can black beans, drained
1 can corn, drained or 2 cups frozen corn

and then here are some options to add in:
peppers - I really like adding mini sweet peppers
small jar diced green chilies
green onions
I have even added chopped up spinach

Mix the cream of chicken soup and enchilada sauce together and set aside
Put everything in the crockpot expect the sour cream.  Pour the soup and enchilada on top.  If it does not cover everything you can add a little water until it does.  Cook on low for 4 hours until the chicken is fully cooked.  Take chicken out and shred, add back to the crockpot and add the sour cream.  Cook 30 more minutes and then serve.  You can top it with cheese, additional sour cream, cilantro, olives etc.

My family loves this meal, even my kids which is saying a lot ;)  I hope you enjoy it!!

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Easy Refrigerator Pickles

Tis' the season when home gardens are finally producing, sometimes more than you can easily consume.  So you start looking for ways to preserve it.  Well not my garden, it had a very hard year and we ended up ripping most of it out.... But we have some awesome neighbors that shared their bounty with us.  Refrigerator pickles are a thing you must try if you love pickles, and if you try them you may never go back to the store bought kind.  I remember my roommate in college brought some the first day of Sophomore year and they were amazing and I could not stop eating them.

Now back before there was Pinterst, blogs and Facebook where you have a million recipes at your fingers tips I used Allrecipe.com and Food.com for my cooking needs.  I would bookmark, save, copy and print, you name it I did it.  I could spend hours on those sights and honestly even though we have all the other places I still find myself going to them and I always come away with something new and delicious to try.  This is where I found this recipe and it was so easy and yummy and my kids loved helping make them!  I added some dill weed from our garden (something that actually lasted this year) and some garlic.

Mona's Easy Refrigerator Pickles

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

One of my Favorite Books for Family Fun

As you know I LOVE themed parties, dinners, days... pretty much anything that I can set to a theme and I love doing things for my kids.  Here is one of my favorite books that incorporates both of these.  She has super simple and easy, yet ridiculous fun activities and meals you can do with your family.  I think the title says it all that great kids are homemade and that is exactly what my husband and I are trying to do.  I have said it a million times fun with your family does not have to be expensive, it is the time, love and thought that is put into it.  My kids often talk about things we have done like our Chinese New Year dinner and say "when are we going to do that again!!"  That is what makes me happy and makes me want to continue doing this!!

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Godzilla Cake

My son wanted a Godzilla cake for his 8th birthday and this is what we did.  I bought these Godzilla cake toppers for $11 and what is great about them is after the cake he can play with them.  They are actually really well made and he can play with them for years.  I just made a double layer chocolate cake and crushed up some chocolate teddy grahams and put them on top.  And then just placed the Godzilla and building on it.  Super super simple and he loved it!!

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Camping Birthday Cake

In case you have not noticed I decided to put some of my cakes I have made for my children's birthdays.  I am not a cake decorator ( I think I have said this many times ;) but I love themed cakes and my kids love them even more.  I know my children will remember these cakes and the love and time that was put into it and these are so much less money and taste better than a store bought themed cake!

Last year my son wanted a camping cake and this is what we came up with.  I did one giant cake on the bottom (I am not sure what size it was but it took 3 cakes mixes --we did the homemade cake on the back of the Hershey's chocolate box)  The top is a bunt cake made with the same homemade recipe.

 I covered a wooden board with foil as the base for the cake.  I made homemade white frosting ( a lot of it) and just died it different colors with food coloring.  I bought candy rocks, the trees and camping things on Amazon.  If you search cake toppers they have tons of possibilities.

I used Pirouette cookies for the logs and fallen trees and my son added the army men.  Did you know you can but pirouette cookies at the dollar store-- so much cheaper than the grocery store.

This was my favorite part.  I wanted to put a bear on the cake but I could not find one in time so we made one out of a marshmallow.  I took one marshmallow on its side and then cut another one in half for the feet and a little bit for the tale.  I stuck them together with some melted chocolate and waited for it to harden and really stick together and then dipped the whole thing in chocolate.  We carved out a little cave on the bunt cake and sprinkled crushed chocolate cookies inside and then place the bear in it.  It was totally out of proportion with the whole cake but it was perfect ;)  Please ask me any questions you might have about this cake!!
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Tractor Birthday Cake

This cake was super easy and my son loved it.  Make a double layer chocolate cake and frost it with chocolate frosting.  It would look great with crushed up chocolate cookies on it.  Then I place a toy tractor when lots of different chocolate candies on it.  Super simple but lots of fun.1
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Meal Plan

So when I looked recently at which posts had the most traffic Meal Plans had a lot of views so I decided to start doing them again.  We are trying to tighten our food budget even more so this will help me by planning them and they are going to be simple yet delicious meals!

~ Stir Fry -- I am going to post this recipe tonight, it is super simple and yummy.

~ Hot Dogs --my kids start school today so we thought it would be a great meal to come home to, they all      love it and we seem to always to have a pack in the back of the freezer.  I cook them the way  my Grandpa did (he called them Freedom Dogs) In a skillet a little oil and a little butter with cut up onions.  Cook until onions are tender and starting to caramelize and the hot dogs are done.  Trust me if you can't grill it they are my second favorite.

~ Spaghetti, chicken and cherry tomato in a garlic gravy similar to this recipe but I think I am just going to do simple grilled chicken (budget wise and so we don't have to go shopping)

~ Leftovers-- I love these nights :)

~ Dutch Oven Meals -- now I know I am super lucky because my husband loves to cook dutch oven and Friday is his night to do it.  Check out his blog to find out what he will make this week!!
Kevin's Outdoor Cooking

~ Crockpot Orange Chicken

~ Breakfast - pancakes maybe -- Sunday's are simple meals for us and usually breakfast for dinner.

I hope your week is great!!
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