Thursday, July 30, 2009

Chicken Stew

This recipe is from the lovely cooking/food blog of Snow White's.....with a couple of modifications, of course. I decided to use the crockpot instead of her stovetop directions and ended up changing a few things around...but it's mainly her recipe. Even though I'm primarily a "chicken" person, I love beef stew, so I wasn't sure how I would like a chicken stew in comparison. It turned out really delicious...and while I won't make this exclusively, you know it's a winner when all the kids eat it without complaints and everyone earns dessert! And it makes great leftovers, too. You could easily add other veggies as desired, such as mushrooms, green beans, peas, or whatever you like.


2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts (mine were frozen)
1 onion, chopped
4-5 carrots, chopped
3-4 potatoes, chopped
1 (14 oz) can stewed tomatoes, undrained
1 (14 oz) can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (14 oz) can chicken broth (or water with bouillon equivalent)
1 T. Italian seasoning
2 t. salt
2 T. sugar
freshly ground pepper, to taste
1-2 zucchini (depending on size), chopped

Put all ingredients except zucchini in a large crockpot, stir around a bit, and cook on low for 8-10 hours, or on high for 4-6. I know all crockpots are different, mine just has hour settings; 4 and 6 hours being "High" and 8 and 10 hours being "Low". About half way through your cooking time, add in the zucchini. Before serving, remove chicken breasts and shred or dice as desired (I shredded) and return to stew.
Serve with Parmesan cheese. Delish!

I thought the zucchini would have been a little better if it wasn't as mushy.....however, Marissa (3.5) gobbled it up even to her surprise, since she never likes zucchini. She openly stated that she likes it better all soft. If you don't prefer it very soft, decrease the cooking time of the zucchini.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Blueberry Citrus Tartlets

I just created this recipe for the Bloggers Blueberry Recipe Contest sponsered by the US Highbush Blueberry Council. It's easy, elegant, quick, and so delicious! I hope I win!

2 packages phyllo tartlet shells (15 each)
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
4 oz. whipped topping, thawed
juice of half a lemon

1 cup blueberries (frozen or fresh, I used frozen)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
2 t. cornstarch
lemon zest, optional

Begin with topping. In a saucepan, combine the orange juice, cornstarch, and sugar. Whisk together, then add blueberries. Bring to a boil over medium heat and boil for 1-2 minutes, or until thickened, stirring constantly. Set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 350. Remove phyllo tartlet shells from packaging and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 3-4 minutes. Set on a wire rack to cool completely.

In a mixing bowl, mix cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add lemon juice and beat well. Stir in whipped topping until completely combined. Spoon into cooled tartlet shells. Top with blueberries and garnish with lemon zest, if desired.

Serve immediately - or within a few hours.

Linked to Finding Joy in My Kitchen

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Camille over at Herding Ducks has tagged me with this lovely award - The Queen of Awesome!
In order to accept the award:

1. List Seven Things That Make You Awe-Summm!
2. Pass the award on to seven bloggers you read religiously.
3. Tag those seven bloggers things that make me awesome:
  1. I can read really fast. Compared to the average person, that is....not compared to my brother Jeremy. But nobody compares to him, so that doesn't count.
  2. Out of college, I worked at an alternative school for two years....when my coworkers pegged me as someone who wouldn't last there a month (being young, white, and female). Ha. I still have a scar on my arm from a student there.....and I also still have an African violet (over 9 years old) given to me by another student.
  3. I can belch super loud. I normally save this for solitary times and occasionally one will slip when I'm around my family... but recently I accidentally did it around a 4 year old I was babysitting. I immediately realized my mistake and as I was saying "Oh, excuse me!" he giggled and said, "Wow! You burp just like my dad!" Oh mercy.
  4. People swoon over my cheesecakes. I know I only have a couple of recipes on here, but I have many more in my arsenal....cheesecakes are my FAVORITE! I just don't make them often anymore since we're trying to be healthier and I won't post recipes without photos.
  5. I'm 31 years old and I've never had a cavity.
  6. I love maps and have a general very good sense of direction.
  7. I have a very impressive collection of Taste of Home magazines (every issue from 2000 - present) and have no intention of ever giving any of them up. So there.

Bloggers I'm tagging:

  1. Bethany at Happy to be Called Mommy
  2. Snow White at Joy in my Kitchen
  3. Carie at All that Wonder Are Not Lost
  4. Laura at Heavenly Homemakers
  5. Amanda at Geidlbots: Tales of German Robots Living In America
  6. Katharine at Raising Five
  7. Kelly at Generation Cedar

Monday, July 27, 2009

Cinnamon Rolls

This gem of a recipe is courtesy of the Pioneer Woman. After reading all the rave reviews on her site about them, I just HAD to give them a try. I made them for a bake sale for my MOPS group
and kept a pan at home for my crew. I have to say, they were a big hit. Everyone that I saw eat one at the sale said they were amazing....and my family certainly enjoyed them a lot. I did alter her recipe a bit.....I can't figure out if it was a typo or she really meant it....but for the filling of the dough, she called for 3-4 CUPS of butter. Do you realize that's 6-8 sticks??? Geez Louise, that just can't be right! I actually used slightly less than 2 sticks, or 1 cup of butter total in the filling. It was plenty, I assure you. So if you want to follow her recipe exactly, go ahead, but I just can't imagine that quantity of butter being a good thing.
The frosting is just fantastic...I really love cinnamon rolls with a cream cheese frosting, but this was a really nice change and so delicious.


1 quart whole milk (4 cups)
1 cup canola oil
1 cup sugar
2 pkgs. Active Dry Yeast (or about 2 T. bulk yeast)
8 + 1 cups all purpose flour
1 heaping t. baking powder
1 scant t. baking soda
1 heaping T. salt
1 cup melted butter
2 cups sugar
generous sprinkling of cinnamon

Maple Frosting:
1 (2 lb) bag powdered sugar
2 t. maple flavoring
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup brewed coffee
1/8 t. salt

Mix the milk, oil, and sugar in a pan. Scald (heat until just below boiling point) the mixture, then turn off the heat and let it cool for 45 min.-an hour. When the mixture is lukewarm-warm but NOT hot, add the yeast and stir around. Let sit a couple of minutes, then add 8 cups of flour. Stir in and then cover and let rise for at least an hour.

Add one more cup flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir mixture together. At this point, you could cover the dough and refrigerate for several hours or even a day or two if necessary. That's what I did. Just check the dough and punch down if it's rising out of the bowl.

Sprinkle surface generously with flour. VERY generously. This dough is seriously sticky and loose....the extra flour won't hurt it. Divide the dough in half and roll out 1 portion of it into a large rectangle. Drizzle 1/2 cup melted butter over the top, followed by 1 cup of sugar and a generous sprinkling of cinnamon. Starting at the opposite long end, start rolling it neatly and tightly toward yourself. Pinch the seam to seal.

Spread a tablespoon of butter (total) in 7 round foil cake or pie pans. Cut the rolls about 1 inch thick and place in buttered pans. I put about 7-8 rolls in each pan. Repeat this process with the other half of the dough. Let the rolls rise for 20-30 minutes, then bake at 400 ° for 15-18 minutes, or until light golden brown.

For the frosting, stir together all ingredients well. It should be thick but pourable. Generously drizzle over the warm rolls! Don't skimp.....get all those edges! You won't think you'll use it all, but you really will, I promise.

It makes a LOT of give a few pans away!

Before frosting.....

After frosting!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Chicken Marinade

This recipe came from Amy over at The Finer Things. I first made it on July 4th and have made it again since then. We absolutely love was fantastic as is, as leftovers, and cut up and put on a pizza. And it couldn't be that makes it a double winner.

The first time I followed the exact measurements of sauce, but with at least double the chicken breasts. The second time, I used even less sauce (didn't measure, just dumped) and probably 8 smallish chicken breasts, and it still turned out wonderful. Tinker with it as you will.


3-4 chicken breasts
1 cup Italian dressing
1/2 cup barbeque sauce

Put the chicken breasts in a resealable, gallon-size plastic bag. Dump in the salad dressing and barbeque sauce. Shake, flip, and otherwise mix it all together. Let sit in the fridge for several hours or overnight, flipping the bag whenever you think about it. Grill as usual.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Bunch of Random Pictures and Stories

The following are some of the interesting/crazy things that have happened around our house the past couple of weeks. I just clumped them all together for simplicity's sake.

1. One afternoon when Marissa was supposed to be napping in her bedroom, she was found instead in the bonus room, racked out on the couch.

2. Corban (I) was responsible for taking snack to his Royal Rangers Class and I had him help make Rice Crispy Treats. This was his first time stirring something on the stove....he was very excited to be involved.

3. Grant and I celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary (hurray for us!) and had a date to go to the Imax Theater to see the new Transformers movie and then to dinner. We ate at a locally owned seafood restaurant next to a marina and some ridiculously huge boats (we can't figure out how so many people in our modest community can possess such expensive stuff!). We had an hour wait, but it was well worth it. We had fried calamari (the best I've ever had), Grant had steak and shrimp, and I had their crab cake. was just amazing. We managed to stuff in a piece of pie for dessert....oreo crust with coffee ice-cream, fudge, and whipped cream.

Anyways, the next day we discovered that the babysitter (Tori) and the kids had some fun with the camera while we were gone. We got a kick out of some of the photos they took.....these are the tame ones. :)

4. The kids started their first swimming lessons last week, continuing into this week. We go four days a week for 45 min. classes. It's an indoor pool near Grant's he's been able to drop in a couple of times to see their progress. Annika is too young for independent classes and it drives her crazy to have to watch them and not be able to get in the pool herself....poor kiddo.

Corban freestyling to his teacher.

Marissa practicing her rocket float.
5. I took the kids to the beach last week on was due to storm that night and we wouldn't get to go to our usual Friday night pool/beach family night, so I figured it was a good idea. We discovered upon arriving at the beach that the jellyfish have arrived...we spotted at least 10 of them lying dead on the sand. We hadn't been there five minutes before Marissa came out of the water and complained that her ankle itched....which quickly turned into cries of pain as it started really hurting. This was my first experience with a jellyfish sting....all I knew was that you're supposed to rinse it with salt water, not fresh. Apparently vinegar is a great remedy.....note for next time to carry a spray bottle of that with me. Thankfully, her ankle stopped hurting within a few minutes and we didn't spend much time in the water after that.

Annika working to bring water to their hand-dug pool.

No jellyfish here!!!

6. So the storm arrived as expected on Friday afternoon and around 5 pm, I heard a deafening crash of thunder. I mean, it was so crazy loud, I just about jumped out of my skin.
Didn't think much more of it, as the storm moved on soon after that.
Later, when I took the dog out, I noticed our neighbor's tree. Definitely struck by lightning.
This tree is just feet away from our house as well as his.....right next to our fence and the shed Grant just built. There are shards of bark and wood from the tree all down our side yard, even to the end of our driveway. The craziest part is that there was one shard stuck in the siding of our house, shot there like a little missle.
We are so thankful that God protected us in this storm....that we and our home were safe. It was a close call.
We did have a couple of lingering side effects. Our VCR/DVD in the bonus room was ruined....not sure how, but it's certainly dead. Our home phone is also affected....we can make calls but can't receive them. Turns out to be not such a bad thing, as most of the calls we get are from telemarketers anyways. I can't tell you how nice it was to not have it ring at all yesterday! I don't think we're going to pursue getting that fixed right away.
Now I just have to remember to keep my cell phone charged and relatively near me every day so people we know can reach me.

The poor tree.

Notice the hole in the siding, right beside Annika's upstairs bedroom window. The wood fell out...
Grant isn't looking forward to trying to get up there to replace the siding, but we're just thankful that it didn't go through her window!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Ranch Chicken and Bacon Pasta Salad

I like pasta salads, a lot. Grant....not so much.....he prefers his pasta hot. I made this one for a picnic with the hopes that he would enjoy its flavors, despite his not liking mayo. Well, he did eat it and didn't complain, but it wouldn't be his first choice for a dinner. I, however, thought it was delicious and definitely plan on making it again. I got the recipe from here.

  • 1 cup mayonnaise (lowfat or fat-free are fine)
  • 1 cup Ranch dressing (MSG free)
  • 2 cups veggies of choice (I used sliced grape tomatoes and chopped green peppers; you could also use olives, green onions, cucumbers, peas, whatever suits your fancy)
  • 1/2 lb. shredded or diced fully cooked chicken
  • 1/2 lb. diced and cooked bacon (I used turkey bacon)
  • 1 lb. pasta of your choice, cooked and rinsed with cold water
  • 1 c. shredded cheese
  • salt and pepper, to taste
In a large mixing bowl, stir together the mayonnaise and Ranch dressing. Add the veggies, chicken, and bacon. Stir to combine.
Add the chilled pasta and toss to coat. Stir in the shredded cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
That's it! It does make a lot, so be sure you have a crowd to feed or really enjoy leftovers for days!

This post is linked to Picnic Recipes: a 4 Moms Link Up and Finding Joy in My Kitchen

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Zucchini and Carrots

This isn't a fancy recipe or anything, just something I threw together on a whim a couple of weeks ago. Grant and Corban and I loved it....the girls don't like many veggies, so their opinion doesn't really count. I think it's colorful, nutritious, delicious, and super easy. That works for me!

3-4 carrots, peeled and cut into small sticks
1-2 zucchini, cut into 1" pieces
1 T. olive oil
1T. butter
seasoned salt
fresh ground pepper

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and butter. Saute the carrots for about 5 minutes, or until starting to brown and slightly tender. Add the zucchini, sprinkle everything with some seasoned salt and ground pepper to taste, and continue sauteing until the zucchini is just tender. Serve warm!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Just for Fun

On Friday nights, we go to a pool near Grant's work that is next to a beach and clubhouse for family night. Normally, you have to pay to get in to the pool, which also is the only access to the beach. But on Friday nights in the summer, it's free after 5:00. There is always a live band, fun at the pool, and lots of playing on the beach. We usually pack a picnic dinner and make a night of it. These photos were from last week.

This pirate ship on the beach is the kids' favorite playplace. Annika loves the slide!

This is her reaction after coming off the slide. Priceless!

Corban is King of the World! He had no idea I was taking his picture, which made this even better.

Uh oh. Watch out. Corban's getting ready for something.....

Oh My. Nothing like your 5-year old child leaping off something over 7 feet high to make a mama nervous......but he did it several times and thankfully never got hurt.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Banana Crumb Cake

Got some ripe bananas hanging around? Try this cake. It is just scrumptious! I got the original from allrecipes, where it was a muffin recipe, and by the suggestion of my sister Sarah, I increased the topping ingredients and made it into a cake. I'm sure muffins would be great too...
so either way it suits you, go for it! We eat it as dessert, but it would be lovely as part of a brunch too.


1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I used white whole wheat)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 bananas, mashed
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup butter, melted OR 1/3 cup oil

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour or wheat germ
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 Tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped nuts, optional

Preheat oven to 375°. In a large bowl, mix together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, beat together bananas, sugar, egg and melted butter. Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture just until moistened. Spread half of the mixture in a greased 9 x 9" pan.

In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, 4 tablespoons flour and cinnamon. Cut in 2 tablespoons butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle half of topping over the cake in pan; gently pour the rest of the cake batter over it and then sprinkle with remaining topping. If desired, add some chopped nuts to the top.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Berry Syrup/Topping

Wow, was this stuff good! It made for a perfect patriotic breakfast, but was such a hit that I'm sure we'll use this recipe a lot. I got the inspiration for it here and went on to change it a bit based on what I had on hand. I think it would be delicious with just about any berry you like. Grant's not a fan of blueberries, so he requested that I make it with blackberries and strawberries next time. I thought the blueberries were fabulous. Either way, this is super easy and would be great on top of ice-cream, plain cheesecake, pancakes, or whatever you fancy.


1/2 cup sugar
2 T. cornstarch
3/4 cup orange juice
2 cups berries , fresh or frozen (I used 1 cup frozen strawberries, 1 cup frozen blueberries)

In a medium saucepan, stir together all ingredients. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, and then boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Serve on whatever your heart desires!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Independence Day!

In honor of the holiday, I made a couple of patriotic-looking foods, both of which turned out delicious. First, I made sugar cookies. Now, I know there are 1001 sugar cookie recipes out there and it can be nearly impossible to figure out which one would be I just used the one my mother-in-law gave me years ago. They really are scrumptious, especially with some frosting and sprinkles. I'll share my other festive red, white, and blue recipe tomorrow.

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 t. vanilla
1 egg
3 cups flour (part whole wheat is fine)
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and egg and beat well. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and salt. Add gradually to creamed mixture, beating until it forms a nice dough. Divide dough in half and wrap in plastic wrap; chill for about an hour.

Preheat oven to 375°. Dust your rolling surface with flour or powdered sugar (which I prefer). Roll out dough to desired thickness, 1/8-1/4" or so. Cut into shapes and place on a greased or parchment paper-covered cookie sheet. Bake for 7-8 minutes, or until lightly browned around the edges. It turned out to be 7 minutes exactly for me....8 minutes yielded a crispy cookie and I prefer them a little softer.

Cool on a wire rack completely before frosting.


1 stick of butter, softened (salted is good)
4 cups powdered sugar
1 t. vanilla
3-4 T. milk

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter well. Add sugar gradually and continue to cream until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and milk slowly, until frosting reaches desired consistency. Spread on cooled cookies and decorate with sprinkles if desired. You can always tint the frosting if you want other colors too, of course.

I had about 1/2 cup leftover frosting, but that's no problem. I'm saving it in the fridge to spread on graham crackers for treats for the kids next week. Yum!

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Beach: Takes 2 and 3

The kids and I are really enjoying the beach this year. This is our 6th summer living here, and already I've been to the beach more than in any other year. Well, it's not like I don't have some good excuses.
During three of those summers, I had a baby who wasn't walking yet, and quite frankly, that makes for a NOT fun beach experience, in my opinion. The baby wants to get down and crawl around, immediately gets covered with sand, starts crying, rubs eyes with sandy hands, sticks hands in mouth, and it's all downhill from there.
And three of those summers, including this one, I've been pregnant. The difference this year is that the baby is due later and I'm not nearly so hot yet. When you're due in August and get smouldering hot when it's 75° out, the beach in the middle of the summer is not an option.
(I just had to interrupt my composition of this post to go confisicate a harmonica from a certain 3-year old who somehow thought that sneaking downstairs to get it and returning to her room to play it during the middle of naptime would be a good idea. Who's child is that, anyways? Oh yeah, Grant's.)
So all that to say, I've been successful at meeting my goal of getting the kids to the beach at least once a week during the summer for three weeks in a row now! Last week we went alone; this week, some friends went with us. The first six pictures are from last week.
This week, Annika decided (I think because of peer pressure) that she wanted to go in the ocean. She kept grabbing my hand and saying, "Come on, Mom!" Once she got there, she didn't want to come out. I didn't get any photos of it this week, I was too busy holding her hand and keeping her from wandering out too far, because apparently her fears are no more. Guess the beach won't be so relaxing for mama anymore.

Since Annika was still afraid of the water, Corban made it his mission to dig her a swimming pool.

I caught some good photos of Marissa laughing in enjoyment with the waves.

I just really liked this one.

Corban's hole was getting deep but didn't have much space. He sat in there to show me that Annika could indeed "fit inside". the hole has evolved to something much more spacious!

FINALLY....Annika got in the water!

All of the kids (except Annika and Daniel, the 7-month old) were fully engaged in digging holes by the water. For what purpose, I have no idea....but they were having fun!

Marissa just made me laugh here....she was waddling as she carried the bucket full of water.

Oh, and I'm actually getting a tan....which is pretty exciting! Yeah, yeah, you can scoff if you want, I know I'm still as pale as a ghost next to some people I know, but hey, I'm tan for me. You have no idea how long it has been since I've had regular sun exposure.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Shredded Beef Au Jus

This came from Taste of Home magazine, the June/July 2009 issue. We rarely eat beef, but I got a good sale and thought this sounded good. It was. Quite delicious, actually. The beef had a very nice flavor the first day but was even better as leftovers. We ate it on buns, but it would be delicious alone, with a side of mashed potatoes. On a side note, the recipe calls for using the juices for dipping; we didn't do that and I ended up throwing all the extra juice out a few days later. I'm sure it could have been made into a tasty gravy if I had so desired, though.

1 boneless beef chuck roast (3 lb or so)
2 cups water
2 t. beef bouillon granules (or 2 cubes)
1-1/2 t. dried oregano
1 t. garlic salt
1 t. seasoned salt
1/4 t. dried rosemary, crushed (optional)
8 hamburger buns, split

Cut roast in half, trim off all large chunks of fat, and place in a 4 or 5 quart slow cooker. Combine the water, bouillon, and seasonings; pour over the beef.

Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until meat is tender. Remove beef; cool slightly. Meanwhile, skim fat from the cooking liquid. (good luck with that, I wasn't very successful)

Shred meat with 2 forks; return to the cooking liquid and heat through. Using a slotted spoon, place 1/2 cup on eaach bun. Serve with additional cooking liquid on the side.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Reese's Chewy Chocolate Cookies

We used to make these occasionally when I was a kid.....and recently I realized it had been years since I had tasted one, and these are seriously one of my very favorite cookies, EVER.
The recipe is just on the back of the package of peanut butter chips and I don't change it at all, except for replacing some of the white flour with whole wheat and maybe adding some chocolate chips, if I'm feeling naughty.
I made these on a Thursday, with the intention of taking them on a picnic at the beach on Friday night with friends. Well, most of them made it to Friday, were transported in a ziplock bag, and were brought out of our stash of stuff as a grand finale to our picnic.
I failed to realize that these do NOT travel well, they crumble ridiculously, and....well......our friends got to sample handfulls of crumbs instead of nice cookies. That being said, everyone enjoyed the chunky crumbs immensely.....but it just wasn't the same as biting into a full cookie.
Later in the weekend, Grant stirred some of the remaining crumbs into a milkshake and declared that a you really can't go wrong with these cookies, just don't transport them in a ziplock bag in a beach bag with a lot of other junk.


1-1/4 cups (2-1/2 sticks) butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 t. vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour (part whole wheat)
3/4 cup baking cocoa
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
10 oz package Reese's peanut butter chips
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°.

Beat butter and sugar together in a large bowl until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well.

In a separate bowl, mix together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add to butter mixture, combining well. Stir in peanut butter chips and chocolate chips, if desired.

Drop by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8-9 minutes (8 minutes exactly in my oven). Do NOT overbake; cookies will be soft. They will puff while baking and flatten while cooling. Cool slightly; remocve from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. Makes 4-5 dozen cookies.
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