I know you want to know what I have learned after all those hours of Food Network

Friday, April 29, 2011


Tonight I made the most beautiful lasagna. It was so delicious. I don't do anything special when I make lasagna..Sorry I didn't take the step by step pictures again...but here is how I do it:

Layer ingredients:
Layer 1) 2 lbs hamburger, browned and drained, then mixed with 2 cans Hunts spaghetti sauce
Layer 2) Mozzarella cheese
Layer 3) Parmesan
Layer 4) 3 lasagna noodles, cooked according to package directions
Layer 5) cottage cheese

Repeat the layers 4 times, then pour remaining meat and sauce over the top, then top with one more layer of the cheeses. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour, or until the cheese is melted through. Allow to sit for 10 minutes after baking for the layers to set up...and Voila! amazing

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Birthday Cupcakes

Today was Caity's birthday and I thought it would be fun to make cupcakes with her. I have been watching a little bit of Food Network's show Challenge, and there was a cupcake challenge a few weeks ago that made me want to make some cupcakes with the icing piped on. Well, as you can see, I have done it.

I just went to Walmart and bought some frosting along with a cupcake decorating kit (disposable piping bags and 3 decorating tips and 1 filling tip) I used 2 of my new tips today on these cupcakes, just going around the cupcake in circles from the outside in. After this, I let Caity put on the sprinkles.

These cupcakes were just what I needed to get my creative cooking flowing again. I have so much to share, and I just know that I can do it. Look forward to more upcoming posts!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Mexican Chicken and Rice

Last night's dinner was surprisingly AMAZING! I made one of the recipes on the back of my Minute Rice box, with a slight modification.

These are the ingredients:
1 TBLS oil
2 medium bell peppers, any color
1 lb chicken breast halves (I cut mine up into bite size pieces even though the recipe didn't)
1 pkg frozen corn, thawed (I only used half a package, and I didn't thaw it out)
1 cup chunky salsa
2 cups water
2 cups Minute Rice
Shredded cheese to taste

Here is what I did (you can thank Katie Meidell for additional pictures showing some steps)-

Cut up the bell peppers into a small dice. This is also when I cut up the chicken into bite size dices. Add your oil to a hot skillet, then add peppers and chicken. Cook until chicken is cooked through, stirring occasionally (the box said to cover it and if you are leaving the chicken whole, you should cook it for 4 minutes on 1 side, then 4 minutes on the other, also stirring the peppers occasionally). Also, the box calls for no seasoning, but I used seasoned salt, pepper, and garlic powder on my chicken, then salt and pepper with each step :)

After the chicken is cooked through, and the peppers are tender, add the salsa, water, and corn and bring to a simmer.

Add the rice to the simmering mixture, stir, then top with cheese and cover. Bring heat down to low and let cook for 5 minutes.

I chose to serve this with sour cream since the salsa that I used was "medium heat" and my kids don't like spice at all really. Here is the finished product:

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Chicken Roll ups

One of Trevor's favorite meals, I try to duplicate what his mom can do. This is a simple, yet delish creation.

4 chicken breasts
1 box chicken flavored stuffing, made according to package directions
1 can Golden Mushroom soup mixed with 1 can full of water

Usually I stuff the breasts by rolling them around the stuffing, but today I was using half breasts to save money, so I cut them in half and put the stuffing inside. Place the chicken and stuffing into a baking dish. When you have stuffed all of the breasts, you just dump the left over stuffing into the baking dish around the chicken. Take the Golden Mushroom soup mixture and poor over chicken and stuffing. Bake at 350 degrees until the chicken is cooked through (usually 30 to 50 minutes)

To make this a meal, try baked potatoes and cream corn. Sooo perfect. (No we didn't have the corn today)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Grocery Shopping day

So, I was really sad when I realized that there just weren't enough coupons in my not-yet-built-up supply to save me killer amounts on food. I resigned myself to the fact that I would probably spend $100 on food yet again (which isn't too bad considering it includes 3 balanced meals a day for my family and breakfast and lunch is also provided to 4 other kids) but still, I was sad.

Price matching is great, but I just really wanted to try other stores besides Walmart. Macey's is having it's Grand Opening in my town, so that is where I chose to do most of my shopping this week, just to try it out. It is a block from Walmart, so convenience wasn't an issue. But before Macey's we went to Smith's to get a couple things that were just cheaper than we could find any where else, eggs, butter, and bone in chicken. I spent $10.

Next was Macey's. I had a list for all the things that I needed this week and I was ready to go. I think that the most notable deals were Grandma Sycamore's bread 4 for $5 (savings of over $8 when you buy 4 loafs!!) and broccoli and cauliflower were $0.25 a pound. Another deal, but one that I didn't take advantage of this week, was turkey steaks for $7.99. This is about half price, but since this sale was carried over from last week, I have enough in my freezer! The only things that I didn't buy at Macey's because I KNEW that Walmart had much better prices, so I couldn't do it was Stove Top stuffing, sour cream, and Hidden Valley Ranch. I came out of Macey's at just around $46. Short stint to Walmart to pick up the missing items was $8 (milk was also missing). So even though I only used 1 coupon, $0.50 in value, I only spent $66!!! YAY for me! Here is our menu for the week:

Tonight: Leftovers!
Sunday: Chicken Roll ups
Monday: Mexican Chicken and Rice (found on the back of the Minute Rice box)
Tuesday: Spaghetti
Wednesday: Chicken Noodle Soup
Thursday: Stroganoff
Friday: Leftovers!

Taco Soup

This isn't really an adventure for me. It is something that I eat all the time, something that I make all the time. There are several ways to make it, and I will link in a few later on, but here is my recipe:

1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)
1 can red beans (drained and rinsed)
1 can pinto beans (drained and rinsed)
1 can dark kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
1 can light kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
1 can diced tomatoes
1 large can V8
1 packet Taco Seasoning
1 lb hamburger browned

Put all ingredients in the crock pot and cook on high for 2 hours or low for 4.

This is what it looks like:

Here are some of the links I said I would provide:
Betty Crocker
Paula Deen
Kraft Foods

Left over Chicken

Remember the chicken from the other day? Well, it took center stage in this salad that I had for lunch on Thursday. It was really tasty, warm, chopped up and served over a tossed salad with a BBQ Ranch dressing and a little cheese. Here is what you need to know about the ranch:

1 TBLS Ranch Dressing
1 tsp BBQ Sauce

MMM, it was certainly worth eating again.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Potato Salad

Today I decided to try to kick up some potato salad. Let's say that it wasn't exactly a success in my book. Before I decided what I was going to do, I browsed several recipes and took from all of them what I thought may be good, then made my own:

1 lb potatoes
1/4 c sour cream
1/2 c mayonnaise
2 tsp yellow mustard
3 TBLS pickle juice
1/4 c chopped celery
1/8 c chopped onion
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp seasoned salt

Boil potatoes whole with skin on until fork tender. Drain off hot water, then cover with cold water and let cool. while they are cooling, mix together all other ingredients in a bowl. Dice the potatoes to your desired size, then add them to the dressing by folding in gently. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

It just needed more seasoning (salt and pepper both) and a little more mustard for my taste. The sour cream leaves a different tang, but it is good. I will probably make it again, but be more diligent to taste the dressing before adding the potatoes!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Kicking up grilled chicken

Tonight the menu called for grilled chicken. I usually just use some Seasoned Salt or something to season it, but I wanted something a little more... fancy.

I made a marinade with the following:

1/4 c. BBQ sauce (I will use 1/3 c next time!)
1/4 c. zesty Italian dressing
The zest and juice of one lime
the zest and juice of one orange (I will use half an orange next time!)
2 TBLS chopped dehydrated onions
1 clove chopped garlic

I let it marinade in the fridge for about 2 hours, then cooked it up on my griddle. It would have probably been better on the grill, but it is only 45 degrees here, so I am NOT down with that today.

It was really good served with a fresh tossed salad on the side (chopped romaine, carrots, and celery)

Banana Cake

It happens all the time, at my house at least! Bananas getting too ripe for consumption. So what do we do? Throw them away, freeze them, maybe even make banana bread. Well, I decided that I wanted to make a cake. All the recipes that I found (using SwagBucks to search of course) used an ingredient or 2 that I don't have in my house. I knew though, that I had everything for banana bread. That is what we did! I found this recipe:
1 c. sugar
1 c. butter
2 eggs
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 tsp. baking soda
2 c. flour
1/2 c. walnuts (optional)
Mix in order given. Put in greased loaf pans.

Bake at 350° for about 1 hour. Allow 24 hours before cutting.

Then I needed a simple icing..... I used this Vanilla Buttercream Frosting recipe. Yes, you will see in my picture that mine is a bit lumpy. I was too lazy to bust out my Bosch and I don't have a hand mixer yet. I think that this will be my next purchase :)

I know you want to know what I have learned after all those hours of Food Network

I have decided that I am going to find ways to kick up normal food to a new level with inexpensive ingredients that we all usually have around the house. I will share this with you with (approximate at least) recipes and pictures.

I know you are just dying with anticipation!! :)