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Monday, March 30, 2015

Honey Mustard Glazed Chicken

I seem to have trouble keeping chicken from going all dry and overcooked on me. I always seem to worry that the chicken won't be done enough and wind up cooking it far too long. I have tried using a meat thermometer and it helps to know the temperature of the meat, but I'm still left wondering if the reading was accurate and if I placed the probe in the correct area of the chicken.

The solution seems to be a rather unhealthy one, but it works well nonetheless. This chicken is basted in a mixture of melted butter, honey, and mustard. The butter keeps the chicken from losing all of its moisture as it cooks as well as adding flavor. This chicken was the most delicious, juicy chicken I've ever cooked. I guess Julia was right about that butter!

Honey Mustard Glazed Chicken

Source: Worlds Best Recipes

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup honey
2 Tbsp yellow mustard
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a baking dish with vegetable oil spray.

Place the chicken in the prepared baking dish and sprinkle with pepper. Set aside. (Yes, this is only two chicken breasts. I cut the recipe in half when I made it because Aaron and I can't eat 4 whole chicken breasts. Usually I split one with Bailey and he eats half of another, then I have half of one leftover for lunch the next day.)

In a small bowl combine the melted butter, honey, mustard, and salt.

Stir until well combined.

Drizzle the chicken with about 1/4-1/3 of the honey mixture, enough to coat the entire surface of the chicken breasts.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour, adding more of the honey mixture every 15-20 minutes.

Serve warm, preferably with mashed potatoes or rice and veggies.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Menu for 3/27/15-4/2/15

I'm so excited about next week! I'm actually going to get an evening off to go see Insurgent with my brother's girlfriend! It has been forever since I've seen a movie in theaters and especially one that I really wanted to see. I'm actually debating reading the book again before we go.

I'm also excited because next week is Good Friday which means I get to spend a day with my bestest friend! A whole day! Just my sissy, Bailey, and me! We'll have lunch together and go shopping and Bailey will get a big Easter basket full of gifts from her Aunt Anna! What an exciting week!

But first I have to get through this week. The good news is that I get to make some of my favorite meals this week. Actually, family favorites. Bailey is really into soups lately, anything that lets her practice using a spoon it seems. She's been begging for cereal every morning for breakfast which is just fine with me because it means very little work/mess for me.

Bailey is also loving this spring weather. She's been running wild on Nana's property since it's a long way off the road. Pretty soon we're going to have to get her a swimsuit and a kiddie pool and some sunscreen. Last week she managed to run straight into the creek in Nana's back yard, slid feet first off the edge, and landed flat on her bottom in the mud. She was completely soaked and muddy and had to have a bath while I was cooking dinner. It would definitely be better if I could keep her in some clean, hose water in proper water clothes.

So, okay, here's the menu.

Breakfast- cereal and milk
Lunch- peanut butter sandwiches and chips
Dinner- bacon cheeseburgers and french fries

Breakfast- chicken biscuits and hash browns
Lunch- leftover cheeseburgers
Dinner- Zuppa Toscana and garlic bread sticks

Breakfast- pancakes and sausage
Lunch- leftovers
Dinner- Admiral will provide dinner

Breakfast- cereal and milk
Lunch- spicy sausage pasta skillet
Dinner- chicken Caesar pasta salad and bread sticks

Breakfast- yogurt and cereal
Lunch- leftover salad
Dinner- chicken enchilada pasta

Breakfast- scrambled eggs and toast
Lunch- leftover enchilada pasta
Dinner- maple Dijon glazed pork roast, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and green beans

Breakfast- ham, spinach, and cheese omelets
Lunch- leftover pork roast
Dinner- Cajun grilled chicken and lazy Alfredo pasta

Monday, March 23, 2015

Pizza Baked Spaghetti (Updated)

I'm back with another update of an old, well-used recipe, one more on the list of recipes I "stole" from work way back in high school. Last time I posted this recipe I was unable to include photographs and since it's been quite awhile (over two years) since I first posted the recipe I thought it could use an update.

Probably one of Fazoli's most popular dishes is the baked spaghetti. It's a simple spaghetti marinara topped with mozzarella and then run through the conveyor oven until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Every so often they would have a special item on the menu, pizza baked spaghetti, which had added sausage crumbles and pepperoni.

I never ate the pizza baked spaghetti when I worked there, but I did borrow the idea when I moved out on my own and started making it in a large batches as a family meal using Yaya's spaghetti sauce which already contains sausage. One of the cool things about this recipe is that it's so easy to make it your own. You can add whatever pizza toppings you like on your pizza. I have made this with green peppers, mushrooms, and black olives, my favorite pizza toppings, but most of the time I stick with Aaron's favorite, plain pepperoni.

This spaghetti is a crowd pleaser. It's loaded with bubbly, brown cheese and delicious homemade sauce and of course, crispy pepperoni. It's the perfect alternative to your regular spaghetti night.

Pizza Baked Spaghetti

Source: Adapted from Fazoli's recipe

1 recipe Yaya's spaghetti sauce (or 1 jar of your favorite sauce)
16 oz spaghetti
2-3 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 Tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated
30-40 slices pepperoni
other pizza toppings (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and spray a 9x13 baking dish (I made 1/2 the recipe so mine is in an 8x8 dish this time) with vegetable oil spray. Cook your sauce according to the recipe and the spaghetti according to the package directions.

Drain the pasta and transfer it in an even layer to the bottom of the baking dish.

Spoon the sauce evenly over the spaghetti. You may not use all of your sauce, especially if you're using the homemade sauce. The recipe seems to make slightly more than needed for 1 lb of spaghetti.

Sprinkle about 1 1/2-2 cups of the mozzarella over the sauce.

Add your toppings in an even layer. We just had pepperoni this time. Add the remaining mozzarella to partially cover the toppings and sprinkle with the Parmesan.

Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, until the cheese is browned to your liking.

Serve warm with salad and garlic bread if desired.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Menu for 3/20/15-3/26/15

It's been a week of lying on the couch together watching television and listening to music. I've enjoyed it but I'm hoping next week I can get off my rear end and get some spring cleaning done. Heaven knows my house could use a good, deep cleaning.

With not much going on this week I'll get right to the menu. It should be a yummy week!

Here it is!

Breakfast- peanut butter on toast
Lunch- leftover lasagna
Dinner- hamburgers and french fries

Breakfast- chicken biscuits and hash browns
Lunch- leftover lasagna
Dinner- Yaya's crock pot roast beef, mashed potatoes, peas, macaroni and cheese, and yeast rolls

Breakfast- pancakes and bacon
Lunch- leftovers
Dinner- Admiral will provide dinner

Breakfast- cereal and fruit
Lunch- string cheese, black olives, nuts, and grapes
Dinner- chicken cordon bleu casserole

Breakfast- watermelon
Lunch- ham, string cheese, and Hawaiian rolls
Dinner- pizza baked spaghetti and garlic toast

Breakfast- scrambled eggs and toast
Lunch- leftover spaghetti
Dinner- chicken taco casserole

Breakfast- French toast and bacon
Lunch- leftover spaghetti
Dinner- honey mustard baked chicken, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and green beans

Monday, March 16, 2015

Chicken Noodle Casserole

Are you ready for an unbelievably simple yet satisfyingly delicious weeknight meal? Because this certainly fits the bill!

Tender egg noodles, juicy chicken and vegetables, and creamy sauce create an old fashioned casserole that the whole family will love. This meal can be made ahead of time and uses pre-cooked chicken, cream of chicken soup, and frozen vegetables, all combined to form a creamy masterpiece. But you don't have to trust me, just try it yourself!

Chicken Noodle Casserole

Source: The Taylor House

2 cups cooked chicken breast, cubed, diced, or shredded
8 oz egg noodles
12-16 oz package frozen mixed vegetables
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1-2 cups cheddar or mozzarella cheese, shredded
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9x13 baking dish with vegetable oil spray.

Cook the egg noodles according to the package directions.

Place the chicken in a large mixing bowl.

Add the cream of chicken and mixed vegetables and stir to combine.

When the noodles are cooked (just slightly short of al dente) drain them and add them to the mixing bowl. Stir again. Season with salt and pepper and stir once more.

Transfer the entire mixture to the prepared baking dish.

Sprinkle the cheese on top and cover with foil.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, remove the foil, and bake for another 10-15 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and beginning to brown.

Serve hot with bread to mop up the sauce.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Menu for 3/13/15-3/19/15

Wow! This week's mystery knit along clue is a very complicated, very long piece of cable work. It's difficult but it's so beautiful. I'm still not sure how all of the pieces are going to fit together but it's looking like it'll be something like a quilt.

I've been reading a lot the past couple of weeks too. I finished two books in "The Seeds Trilogy" by K. Makansi, The Sowing and The Reaping. They were both page turners. The last book in the trilogy, The Harvest, doesn't come out until next spring and I'm kind of wishing I'd waited to start until all of the books had been released. I'm on a book hangover just like when I finished Catching Fire and had to read the first chapter of Mockingjay before I could relax a little.

I also finished another trilogy last month that my brother's girlfriend recommended. Legend, Prodigy, and Champion. The whole series was amazing and I've heard rumors of a movie version coming soon. I'm loving these books written in alternating chapters from the perspective of both main characters. Both series are written this way and I enjoy knowing the thoughts of both characters in shared situations, especially romantic ones.

Potty training is going exceptionally well. We haven't had any accidents since Monday and Bailey has already earned two rewards, a pair of Daniel Tiger plush toys. We've gone completely diaper free. She's wearing big girl underpants even at night! I'm incredibly proud of her.

And on that note I think I'll get to the menu.

Breakfast- sausage links, cheese grits, and scrambled eggs
Lunch- cheesy smoked sausage and potatoes
Dinner- honey mustard baked chicken, mashed potatoes, broccoli, and macaroni and cheese

Breakfast- chicken biscuits
Lunch- leftover chicken and mashed potatoes
Dinner- four bean turkey chili and yeast rolls

Breakfast- pancakes, bacon, and scrambled eggs
Lunch- leftovers
Dinner- Admiral will provide dinner

Breakfast- yogurt and apple slices
Lunch- Italian pasta salad and grilled chicken
Dinner- Zuppa Toscana and garlic breadsticks

Breakfast- Almond Joy oatmeal
Lunch- Italian pasta salad and grilled chicken
Dinner- chicken noodle casserole and yeast rolls

Breakfast- strawberries, apples, and grapes with honey cinnamon yogurt dip
Lunch- leftover chicken noodle casserole
Dinner- roasted turkey breast, mashed potatoes, green beans, macaroni and cheese, and yeast rolls

Breakfast- cereal and milk
Lunch- leftover turkey, bacon, and cheddar melts
Dinner- turkey lasagna, salad, and garlic toast

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Wishlist Wednesday March 2015

This month's wishlist is completely devoted to Easter which, just so everyone knows (since the date changes every year) is April 5th! I've got some tasty goodies, crafts, and decorations.

First up!

A Wish for Adorable Easter Yummies:

Nutter Butter Chicks from Sweet Simple Stuff

I know that the Easter Bunny is not the real reason for the season. I get that, but some of the Easter Bunny stuff is just too cute to pass up. These chicks are made mostly from Nutter Butter cookies, yellow candy melts, and Reese's Pieces candies. They're so simple and yet so creative and Bailey loves Nutter Butter cookies so these are sure to be a hit with her. I'm thinking I might set these up so Nana and Bailey can make them together.

Flower Pretzel Bites from Two Sisters Crafting

Another simple treat that kids can help make. Again, these are only three ingredients. The flowers are spring colored M&M's and they're glued onto the square pretzels using white candy melts that I'm sure could be swapped for a Hershey's Kiss or even Rolo candies. You could switch the M&M's for peanuts or almonds. They're pretty and impressive but easy to make. And, BONUS! They're that wonderful salty/sweet combination I love so much. I'm excited to try them out!

Bird's Nest No Bakes from Root and Blossom

This one's not quite as easy to make, but is still in the easy-intermediate range. If you've never had chocolate peanut butter no-bake cookies you should know that they're not at all difficult to make. Actually, the most difficult part for me is waiting for them to set up because they're one of my favorite cookies. They're made with cocoa powder, peanut butter, and rolled oats and have a similar consistency to fudge. In fact, you can find them in the bakery or deli section of most grocery stores although they may be called "novaks" if you buy them pre-made. These little nests are easy to assemble as all you need to do is place some sort of egg shaped chocolate candies in the cookies before they are set. I would suggest using a mini muffin pan to get the proper shape because these cookies tend to spread randomly around the waxed paper as they set up.

A Wish for Kid Friendly Crafts:

Easter Bunny and Chick Fingerprint Craft from The Chickabug Blog

Kids love to put their fingerprints on everything. I remember when I was in Kindergarten half of our day was spent tracing letters in fingerprints if not just finger painting in general. With the exception of Bailey who doesn't like to get her hands dirty with paint or ink, most kids enjoy this kind of art. These don't take much time or energy on either the part of the kids or the parents. They don't require much in the way of supplies either, just some plain paper, pink and yellow ink pads, and a marker for the details. It's a great way to preserve a bit of your child's size as well because as we all know, they grow up way too fast.

Easter Bunny Silhouette from Katie's Crochet Goodies

I saw several versions of this craft when scanning Easter crafts on Pinterest. This one is done with yarn and tape. I saw others done with paper and glue. Obviously this is a bunny but I also saw lots of eggs done the same way. You could even do different holidays or seasons. What about leaves for fall or shamrocks for St. Patrick's Day? However you choose to make yours I'm sure it will be beautiful.

A Wish for Cute Easter Decorations:

Spring Baby Grass Wreath from Capture the Details

Wreaths have become a year round thing rather than just Christmas and I have found the cutest one! This is so cool, partly because the grass itself is one of those yarns that I have no idea how people knit or crochet with. I always see fuzzy yarn at the craft store and wonder how in the world I could make anything with it without it turning out looking like matted fur. I just think this is beautiful and would look lovely on anyone's front door.

Easter Peeps Centerpiece from Taste of Home


Layered Candy Filled Vase with Flowers from Creative Juice

I have no idea why but these layered vases really appeal to me. These are the first layered vases I've seen made with candy and they're perfect for Easter. Jellybeans and Peeps just scream Easter to me. These would make excellent centerpieces for your dinner table or decorations for the buffet table at your Easter dinner.

Jelly Bean Candles from Bossypants via Hub Pages

I've loved candles since long before my parents allowed me to keep my own in my room when I was 14 years old. I've always wanted to make my own (you know, real ones as opposed to melting down my old ones and combining them in a jar) and these are so colorful and playful.

That's all for this month but I'll be back on the first Wednesday of April with a non-seasonal wishlist!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Sunflower Honey Wheat Bread

Baking bread is so relaxing for me. The measuring, mixing, and kneading have a rhythm that eases my stress and I get plenty of time while the dough rises to do other things around the house. I have a few go-to bread recipes for sandwich bread and rolls that I use regularly (regularly being at least once or twice a week), but this new recipe will probably be in my top 3 breads I've ever made.

It's not a heavy wheat bread, even with the sunflower seeds. It's probably not ideal for sandwiches just based on the variation of size and shape of slices, but it's great for toast or smeared with a little butter at dinner. I was also expecting the bread to be a little sweeter due to the honey, but it's not too sweet at all. Really it's just fantastic.

Sunflower Honey Wheat Bread

Source: Budget Bytes

1 1/4 cups warm water (105-115 degrees)
2 Tbsp honey
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup unsalted sunflower seeds (raw or toasted)
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 Tbsp salt
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2-2 cups all purpose flour
1 egg white

In a 2-cup liquid measuring cup combine the water and honey and mix with a fork until the honey dissolves. Sprinkle the yeast over the water/honey mixture and set aside to proof for 5 minutes.

Roughly chop the sunflower seeds, leaving some of them mostly whole.

In the bowl of your stand mixer or a large mixing bowl combine the sunflower seeds, whole wheat flour, and salt. Stir with a wooden or plastic spoon or a silicone spatula to combine.

Once the yeast has dissolved and swelled in the water add the oil and mix with a fork.

Pour the water mixture into the flour/sunflower seed mixture.

Stir until all of the flour is incorporated.

Begin adding the all purpose flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until the dough becomes difficult to stir.

Switch to the dough hook on the mixer or turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface to knead.

Continue adding flour as you knead until you have reached between 1 1/2 and 2 cups of flour and the dough is springy and no longer sticky (smooth and elastic).

Form the dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat, and cover with plastic wrap. Set in a warm, draft-free spot to rise for 1-1 1/2 hours, until about double in size.

Punch the dough down and divide into two equal pieces.

Form each piece into a ball and place about 4 inches apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Re-cover with plastic wrap and let rise for another 1-1 1/2 hours, until doubled in size again.

Once the bread has doubled again, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine the egg white with 1 Tbsp of water and beat lightly.

Brush the tops of the loaves with the egg white mixture and then use a very sharp knife to slice the X in the top of each loaf. Make sure when you cut the X that the knife is super sharp and that you use no downward pressure on the bread or it will deflate.

Once the oven is preheated, bake the bread at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.

Allow the bread to cool (Beth says completely but I couldn't wait) before slicing.

Serve with butter.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Menu for 3/6/15-3/12/15

I have to apologize, the wishlist will be a week late this month but it's going to include a whole list of fun and cute Easter activities! There will be some adorable crafts for all ages of little ones to do and some special desserts to serve at your family's Easter gathering. So I'm sorry I didn't get it together this week, but I promise it'll be up first thing next Wednesday!

Well, I suppose the most important thing that happened this week is that Bailey had a CT scan and x-rays at the hospital on Saturday and now we're absolutely positive that her shunt is working properly. She woke up at 4:00 in the morning sick as a dog, again. This time I couldn't ignore it or brush it off as some stomach bug so I had to drag her to the hospital to get it checked out. Luckily it turned out to be a minor infection (unrelated to the shunt) and all she needed was some antibiotics, but they had to do the scans to be sure.

She refused to sit still for the scans so they had to sedate her which was about the funniest thing I've ever seen! They gave her some Versed and told us to wait about half an hour for it to kick in. Ten minutes later she had slumped over on Aaron's lap and was giggling like a maniac. We got some cute video of her acting all loopy so we can show her when she grows up. She was laughing at everything and when they got her back in her bed she would knock on her wall and then say, "Who is it?" Aaron and I laughed until we couldn't breathe!

Bailey finally decided yesterday that she's willing to begin potty training. I seriously thought it would never happen. I know every kid does things in his or her own time, but she's 3 years and 3 months old and was rapidly approaching outgrowing the largest size diapers at Target. I didn't want to pressure her so I just made the potty available whenever she decided she wanted to go and she had tried a few times but wasn't willing to try it exclusively until now.

She seems to be doing well, just one accident yesterday. She likes her little underpants. They have Tinkerbell on them. I think we're getting the most success from the promise of treats if she goes. I have no idea how she'll do when we wean her off the treats, but for now she keeps trying to go every hour or so in hopes that she'll get a mini Oreo or a handful of jellybeans. The same thing seems to be working for her medicine. She'll take it no problem as long as I have a Hershey Kiss waiting for her when she swallows.

And now, I know it sounds crazy, but I'm really exhausted so I'm gonna cut to the menu and get some rest.

Breakfast- cereal and milk
Lunch- grilled cheese sandwiches and chips
Dinner- grilled chicken, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and broccoli

Breakfast- chicken biscuits and hash browns
Lunch- leftover grilled chicken and potatoes
Dinner- spaghetti and meatballs and garlic toast

Breakfast- chocolate chip pancakes and bacon
Lunch- leftovers
Dinner- Admiral will provide dinner

Breakfast- yogurt and strawberries
Lunch- confetti macaroni and cheese
Dinner- crock pot creamy Italian chicken and pasta

Breakfast- cereal and milk and watermelon
Lunch- chicken and bacon melts and chips
Dinner- hot dogs and french fries

Breakfast- sausage links and grits
Lunch- leftover hot dogs
Dinner- chicken taco casserole

Breakfast- apple slices and strawberries
Lunch- leftover chicken taco ranch salad with black beans
Dinner- squash and ramen with chicken

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Four Bean Turkey Chili

I've decided that instead of stocking my freezer with raw ingredients this month, I'm going to build up a stash of heat and eat meals. Rather than having leftovers in the fridge for days that I ultimately wind up tossing out, I'll just throw the leftovers in a freezer bag.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Chili Seasoning

I love having my cabinet stocked with a variety of seasoning mixes and rubs that are ready to use. It means that when it's time to cook dinner I don't have to rifle through the cabinet collecting all of the individual spices. I need only open a single container to season dinner.