Maple Wheat Bread

Used this in the Baked French Toast Casserole but it'd be good for other things.  I will say though...I used a little more maple syrup than it called for (6Tb) and only about 1 cup of water, just a splash more than a cup.  And I took it out of the bread machine probably 12 mintues early because it was done.  Next time I would take it out even earlier so that it wasn't so crunchy on the outside.  I also split the flour a little bit and did 1 1/2 cups of whole wheat and 1 1/2 cups of bread flour because I read that it wasn't rising right for other people and someone mentioned that you needed more bread flour.  I'm not sure about that and next time would follow the recipe exactly to see what happened.

Maple Whole Wheat Bread

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup bread flour
1/3 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups water
4 Tb maple syrup
2 Tb olive oil
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast

Place ingredients in pan of bread machine in order recommended by manufacturer.  Select Wheat Bread cycle and press start.

Found this recipe on AllRecipes.

Baked French Toast Casserole

Thanks to my friend Kara for the fabulous recipe, even when I messed it up it was still good!  I used too much bread.  Wasn't doing my math right but it still turned out good and I will make it again.

Baked French Toast Casserole

3/4 stick butter, melted
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
12 slices bread (crusts cut off) (I used a bread machine recipe for this Maple Wheat Bread)
7 eggs
3/4 cup milk
1 tsp cinnamon
cinnamon/sugar for topping

Mix melted butter, brown sugar, and vanilla together and spread in 9x13 baking dish.  Top with 6 pieces of crustless bread.

Mix eggs, milk and cinnamon together and pour 1/2 over bread.  Layer remaining 6 pieces of bread on top and cover with remaining egg mixture.

Sprinkle top with cinnamon and sugar and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

Since I'm counting calories I'll let you know that this was appoximately 322 calories per serving with 8 servings.

**Since ours was a little dry (due to my mistake) we used a little maple syrup for this.

This post is linked to:
Seasonal Sundays at Real Sustenance
Meatless Mondays at My Sweet and Savory
Your Recipe, My Kitchen at Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker
Mouthwatering Monday at A Southern Fairytale
Homemaker Monday at 11th Heaven's Homemaking Haven
Delicious Dishes at It's a Blog Party
Slightly Indulgent Tuesday at Simply Sugar and Gluten Free
Show Us What You're Working With at Me and My Bucket
What's Cooking Wednesday at Turning the Clock Back
Tuesday Night Supper Club at Fudge Ripple
Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed with Grace
Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam
Tuesdays at the Table at All the Small Stuff


Menu Plan

~Burritos w/ Cilantro Lime Rice, fruit
~Potato Soup, corn, garlic bread
~Lil' Cheddar Meatloaves, green beans, bread, fruit
~French Toast Casserole (hopefully I make this one this week since it's been on my  menu for a few weeks now and keeps getting pushed back), sausages
~Hub's Bday:  KFC chicken strips, bacon cheese potatoes, red lobster biscuits, chocolate pie
~Chocolate Butterhorns
~Pumpkin Muffins


I Won an Award!

I'm excited to have my first blogger award!  And the ability to pass it on.  I'm not sure how much it counts since it comes from my good friend Sarah over at Sweet Pea and JoJo.  But I'll take it!

The way it works is I have to tell you seven things about myself and then pass on this award to 15 other bloggers. So here goes...

1.  I am a mom to two awesome kids and currently trying for a third. Call me insane.
2.  I LOVE to read!  My husband asked me last month how many books I had read last year and I had no idea.  So I'm now keeping a list to satisfy my curiosity.  Currently reading Kristin Hannah and would highly recommend any book by her.  I think I've read all of them except for a couple and then I'm moving onto Debbie Macomber since I have an entire bag of her books waiting for me.
3.  I love to cook.  Obviously.  Which leads to...
4.  I am always trying to lose weight.  I am a yo-yo dieter.  I lose a bunch then gain it all back plus more.  Lose some, gain it back, lose some, gain it back, etc.  Might help if I didn't cook so much.  Then I wouldn't eat so much.  Doesn't help having kids around either since I tend to clean up after them. But regardless of what excuses I make, it's because my will power sucks.  One of these days maybe it'll happen.
5.  I'm from a small town, married to a guy from an even smaller town, who ended up by the big city of St Louis.  Hubs dreams of moving back some day but after living up here for 6 1/2 years I'm not sure I could go back.
6. I enjoy quilting, even though I haven't done it since I had kids.  My Grandma Jo, who was like a second mother to me and passed away this past summer, taught me what I know and instilled in me my love for it.  I'm looking forward to the days when the kids are older and our basement is finished so I can drag out all my quilting stuff again and do something I enjoy.
7.  I  have a BS in Elementary Ed, an MBA in Accounting, and yet I work from home doing web design.  Guess I'm not sure what I want to do but I do love what I'm currently doing.  It's only me and my boss, the owner of a small company in St Louis and the most awesome boss ever.  I can work when I want, as much as I want, and still be home for my kids.  I'm hoping this is something I can keep doing indefinitely so that as the kids get older I can still volunteer at school and go on field trips, take care of them if they're sick, etc.  So if you have any web design needs or SEO needs check out www.highlevelstudios.com! 

That's it.  Now to pass it along:

1.  Finding Joy in My Kitchen - I enjoy the Friday Favorites, the healthy recipes, and get great recipe ideas of things to try from this site.
2.  An Oregon Cottage - This site not only has great recipes but I learned a lot about gardening this summer as we ventured through our first garden.  It also talks about decorating and crafty things, like these Flax Seed Pillows I'd like to make some day.
3. A Year of Slow Cooking - Who doesn't love the crockpot?!
4. This Week for Dinner - I love the weekly menus to pull ideas from, and she has awesome give-aways.
5. Lynn's Kitchen Adventures - Great recipes and ideas, plus vlogs teaching me new ways of doing things.
6. Crafts N Things for Children - My friend Sarah, who I mentioned above, makes awesome crafts.  But I don't have my sewing machine out and am not as crafty as her.  But this site provides some great ideas for some fast and easy crafts for kids, and I especially love the learning ones.
7. Hon, What's for Dinner? - I like how she makes her own twist of recipes.
8. Loving My Domestic Life - Since I myself have a domestic life I enjoy the ideas she comes up with.
9. Mom!  What's for Dinner? - Yummy recipes that are quick and easy.
10.  A Bountiful Kitchen - Lovely recipes and great photos.

Okay, well, I can only think of 10 right now but if I come across anymore deserving I'll add to my list.


Ham & Cheese Puff Pastry - Redo

 Who knew puff pastry is SO good!  Remember when I tried this before with phyllo dough?  I didn't think it was all that bad but compared to this...I'll never do it the wrong way again!  These were so very good.  Definitely a keeper.

Thaw a box of puff pastry.  You'll need two sheets.  And just so you're aware, it takes longer than 40 minutes to thaw, like the box says.

Roll one sheet of puff pastry out to whatever size pan you'll be using to put it on.  Top with ham and cheese.  I used leftover ham from Christmas but deli ham would be fine too.  Swiss cheese was our choice but you could use whatever you like.  Roll out other sheet of puff pastry and place on top.  Seal sides with egg wash and also coat top with egg wash.

Bake at 450 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes, until brown and puffed up.

**You could spread the pastry with mustard before you put the ham and cheese on but we chose to leave it off and just dip ours in the mustard as we ate it.  We used honey mustard and it was delicious!

This post is linked to:

It's a Keeper Thursday 
It's a Keeper Thursdays
Full Plate Thursday at Miz Helen's Country Cottage
Miz Helen’s Country Cottage

Tip Day Thursday
Around My Family Table

Spaghetti and Meatballs


1 lb ground beef
seasonings:  I use garlic powder, basil, oregano, salt and pepper, and some Tastefully Simple garlic garlic

Mix ground beef and seasonings well.  Roll in little balls and bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix four regular size cans of tomato sauce and a packet of spaghetti seasoning, I use the Thick and Zesty...I think it's McCormick.  I also added a little extra seasoning, some basil, oregano, and garlic powder.  I let this simmer for a half hour or so, while the meatballs are cooking.

When everything else is about 10 minutes from being done, cook the spaghetti.  Drain and toss with butter.

Red Lobster Style Biscuits

Of course you can't replicate Red Lobster's amazing biscuits exactly but these are pretty darn good.

I don't have measurements but all you do is take some biscuit mix (I used Bisquick).  Mix in some milk just until moist.  Add in some shredded cheese and garlic powder if desired.  Bake until done...350 degrees for 12-15
minutes.  Brush with butter and sprinkle top with garlic salt, or powder.


Soy Glazed Salmon

I haven't been a big fan of fish as of late but I try to make it once a week for the rest of the family.  My son loves salmon (which is interesting since he's only four and the pickiest eater in the world!) so that was my choice this week.  I've made this once before and tasted it last night as I pulled it out of the oven and I must say, it was tasty!

Soy Glazed Salmon

1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1/2 tsp garlic, minced
1/2 to 1 lb filet salmon

450 degrees.  Line bottom of roasting pan with foil.  Coat rack with oil.  (I just used a baking dish, sprayed with cooking spray and rubbed the bottom with oil.)  Combine soy sauce, syrup, ginger and garlic in saucepan.  Boil over moderate heat until reduced to 1/3 cup.  Brush salmon with sauce; let stand 5 minutes.  Brush with more sauce.  Roast salmon for 10 minutes.  Add remaining glaze.  Broil 3 to 5 minutes 4 to 5 inches from heat.

This post is linked to:
Slightly Indulgent Tuesday at Simply Sugar & Gluten Free
What's Cooking Wednesday at Turning Back the Clock
Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam


Basic Chili:

2 lbs ground beef
1 to 2 onions, depending on how big they are
2 cans chili beans
1 can white bean (I usually use Great Northern)
1 can red bean (dark red, light red, whatever you like)
1 packet chili seasoning (I used Williams brand, nothing else!)
Large can (I think it was something like 47 oz) tomato juice
Secret ingredient my grandpa used:  sugar, a few tablespoons, or as much to your liking.  I'm learning that a little sugar on meat make a huge difference in taste.  When I did those Double Decker Tacos it called for brown sugar, which I thought was a little strange, but it was the best tasting taco meat I've ever had.

Cook beef until almost done, drain if needed.  Add onion and 3/4 of the chili seasoning and cook until slightly soft.  Meanwhile, in crockpot add beans, NOT DRAINED, rest of seasoning, sugar and tomato juice.  Once meat is done add to crockpot.  My crockpot gets really, really hot so I do 2 to 3 hours on high or 4 or 5 hours on low.


Menu Plan

So I don't really do my menu on Mondays necessarily so I'll just call it Menu Plan and post whenever my new week starts, which for us is today!

We're headed out of town tonight so I'll be eating out with my sisters while the hubby and kids go to the in-laws.  Tomorrow we're headed home so depending on what time it is we'll be eating out again or eating leftovers or something quick.

The rest of the week looks like this:

~Chili, fruit
~Spaghetti & Meatballs, biscuits, calico beans
~Soy Glazed Salmon, garlic noodles, fruit
~French Toast Casserole, sausages, fruit (didn't get to last week)
~Ham & Cheese Puff Pastry, green beans (didn't get to last week)
~Eat Out next Friday since we have a birthday party until 6pm


PB Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

 We have about 9 inches of snow on the ground and didn't go anywhere today so I decided to bake cookies with the kids (as well as vacuuming, dusting, picking up, couple loads of laundry, and oatmeal fruit bars...all before noon!).  Found this one at Brown Eyed Baker and they turned out really good.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temp (I used margarine)
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (I used crunchy)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.

On medium speed, cream together butter, peanut butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla, about 3 minutes.  Add the egg and beat to combine.  On low speed, gradually add flour until just combined.  Stir in oats, then chocolate chips.

Use a large cookie scoop and drop dough onto prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart.  Bake 10 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly golden.  They won't look done but they'll continue cooking on the pan a bit.  Cool completely on baking sheet and then store in airtight container at room temp.

This post is linked to:
Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum
Your Recipe, My Kitchen at Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker
Mouthwatering Monday at A Southern Fairytale
Meatless Mondays at My Sweet and Savory
Homemaker Monday at 11th Heaven's Homemaking Haven
Delicious Dishes at It's a Blog Party
Tuesday Night Supper Club at Fudge Ripple
Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed with Grace
Tuesdays at the Table at All the Small Stuff
Made By You Monday at Skip to my Lou


 I know these aren't hard to make but I'm making a log of all my recipes as I make new ones so I might as well put them all on here.

Cook some chicken until done.  Add fajita seasoning and mix.

Saute a green pepper and an onion.  Then build your fajita:  I used a whole wheat tortilla, sour cream, chicken, veggies, cheese, and salsa.  Roll up and eat!

Shepherd's Pie

I'm better about posting so far this year but I'm worse about taking pictures!  I forget until after we've eaten but then my pretty picture is messed up so I skip it.

Shepherd's Pie

1 lb ground beef
2 cup hot mashed potatoes
4 oz cream cheese, cubed
1 cup shredded cheddar
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cup frozen mixed vegetables
1 cup beef gravy

375 degrees.  Brown meat in skillet.  Drain.

Mix potatoes, cream cheese, 1/2 cup shredded cheddar, and garlic until well blended.

Stir vegetables and gravy into meat.  Spoon in 9 inch baking dish.  Cover with potato mixture.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese.  Bake 20 minutes or until heated through.

6 servings

**I of course don't follow this exactly. We aren't fans of frozen vegetables so I used a can of green beans, a can of peas, a can of carrots, and some frozen lima beans (I was out of corn or we would have used that too.)

I think it would be better with homemade gravy but I have hardly ever made gravy so I wouldn't know where to begin.  Something I guess I should experiment with huh?

I also doubled the meat and veggie mixture and froze that.  When ready, thaw and add fresh mashed potatoes and cheese.


Menu Monday

Even though it's Sunday...

~Fajitas, Corn
~Shepherd's Pie (NEW), biscuits, fruit
~Tortellini Soup, fruit
~French Toast Casserole (NEW), sausage
~Ham & Cheese puff pastry, green beans (Redoing this recipe with puff pastry instead of phyllo)
~Shrimp Scampi, garlic bread, broccoli w/ cheese sauce
~Pizza Night and/or Leftovers


Homemade Vanilla and Oreo Ice Cream

I've been experimenting with ice cream but it's always eaten so fast I don't get a picture!

I started with this base for a Homemade Oreo recipe I found.  The first time I made it I thought maybe I got too much vanilla in it because something just didn't taste right.  The second time I put hardly any vanilla in and still didn't think it tasted right.  After the second batch sat in the freezer overnight however it was pretty darn good.

Homemade Oreo Ice Cream

3 cups half and half
6 egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
12-15 double stuffed oreo cookies, roughly chopped

Heat the half and half in sauce pan, over medium heat, until bubbles form around edges.  Do not boil!  Just until you see tiny bubbles start to gather around the edge of the pan.  Beat the egg yolks and sugar, on medium high speed, until combined and forms yellow ribbons.  Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly add half and half to egg mixture until well combined.  It is important to pour slowly to prevent the eggs from curdling.

Pour the combined liquid back into the sauce pan and cook over medium low heat.  Stir constantly for about 5-8 minutes until thickened and coats the back of the spoon.  Pour the liquid through a fine-meshed sieve into a bowl.  Add the vanilla and chill in the refrigerator until completely cooled.

Pour the cream into the ice cream machine and freeze according to the manufacturer's directions.  In the last 15 minutes of the churning process, add the chopped Oreos.  Spoon into a lidded container and freeze until completely hardened.  The freezing should take about 2 hours.  Makes about 1 quart.

As you can see this recipe required a lot of work and took a lot of time before it was ready.  I decided to look for a different recipe, preferably an egg-free one.  This is what I found, which I adjusted to 8 servings:

Vanilla Ice Cream

2 cups half and half
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup plus 2 Tb white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 pinch salt

Combine half and half, cream, sugar, vanilla and salt in freezer container of ice cream maker.  Freeze according to directions.

Some Notes on this one:  Do not mix in the freezer container!  Mix in a seperate bowl and then pour into the container of the ice cream maker.  I put the sugar in a little dish and mixed with some water.  Then I microwaved it until all the sugar was dissolved so that it wouldn't be grainy.  I set that mixture in the fridge for a little while to cool before adding to the cream mixture.  Mix it up and then put in the ice cream maker.

We liked this second recipe MUCH better!  I think I've found my vanilla base.  We've done Oreo and tonight we're doing caramel pecan.  My next ones to try are peanut butter cup and cookie dough.

This post is linked to:
Meatless Mondays at My Sweet and Savory
A Southern Fairytale
11th Heaven's Homemaking Haven
Show Me How at It's a Blog Party
Tuesday Night Supper Club at Fudge Ripple
Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed with Grace
Tuesdays at the Table at All the Small Stuff
Slightly Indulgent Tuesday at Simply Sugar & Gluten Free
What's Cooking Wednesday at Turning the Clock Back
Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty & Bedlam
Recipe Swap Thursday at Prairie Story
Tip Day Thursday at Around My Family Table

Deli Style Pasta Salad

I don't follow the recipe exactly so here's the recipe I adapted:

1 pkg (16 oz) tricolor pasta
2 medium plum tomatoes, seeded and julienned
8 oz sliced salami, julienned
8 oz provolone cheese, julienned
1 small red onion, thinly sliced and seperated
1 small jar olives, drained
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1 bottle (8 oz) Italian dressing

Cook pasta; drain and rinse with cold water.  In large bowl combine pasta, tomatoes, salami, cheese, onion, olives, and parmesan.  Add dressing and toss to coat.  Cover and refrigerate several hours or overnight.

Serves 12

I just used plain pasta, left out the tomatoes, used some cubed mozzarella and swiss cheeses, left out the olives, and only put enough dressing to taste.  I also added in some frozen peas.  This is one of those recipes you just adapt to your liking but I follow this one as a base and adjust from there.

BBQ Chicken Wraps

Thought these sounded good so I gave them a try.  All I did was bake some chicken in the oven with some garlic powder, chili powder, a bit of cumin, salt and pepper.  Then I diced it up and tossed with bbq sauce.  Roll in a whole wheat tortilla with some red onion, swiss cheese, lettuce and ranch dressing.  Yum!


Menu Monday

I'm so bad about posting!  But with the holidays over hopefully life goes back to being less chaotic!

Here's our menu for the week (not in any particular order):

~Enchiritos, corn, fruit
~Lasagna Soup, cheesy garlic biscuits
~Homemade Fish Sticks, Almond Rice Pilaf, broccoli
~BBQ Chicken Wraps (NEW), pasta salad, fruit
~BLTs, fruit, zucchini fritters
~Eat Out
~Pizza Night


Lasagna Soup

 This is from Family Fun magazine February 2009.

I liked it.  There were a few too any noodles so it was "soupy" enough but I would make it again.  I'm also going to try freezing the leftovers.  I know sometimes noodles are hard to freeze but I thought in a soup it might work.

Lasagna Soup

2 tsp olive oil
1 1/2 lb Italian sausage
2 onions, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 Tb tomato paste
1 (28 oz can) diced tomatoes
6 cups chicken broth
2 bay leaves
8 oz fusilli pasta
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh basil
8 oz ricotta
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1/4 tsp salt
pinch of pepper
2 cups shredded mozzarella

In  large pot, heat oil over medium heat.  Add sausage and saute, breaking apart, until no longer pink, about 5 to 7 minutes.  Drain any excess fat from pot.  Add onions and saute until soft, about 6 minutes.  Add garlic, oregano, and red pepper; saute 1 minute.  Add tomato paste and saute until it turns a rusty brown, about 5 minutes.  Add tomatoes with their juice, the broth, and bay leaves and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes.

Add pasta, then increase heat to medium high and boil soup until pasta is tender to the bite, following the time recommendations on the pasta package.  Discard bay leaves, then stir in basil.  If desired, season with salt and pepper.

In small bowl, combine ricotta, parmesan, and 1/4 tsp salt, pinch of pepper.  To serve, place about 1 1/2 Tb of ricotta mixture in each bowl, sprinkle with some mozzarella, and ladle soup on top.  

Makes about 13 cups.

**We don't like tomatoes so instead of a can of diced tomatoes I used a can of tomato sauce.  I also didn't have fresh basil but I think that would be very good so next time I will make sure I get that.

This recipe is linked to:
A Southern Fairytale
11th Heaven's Homemaking Haven
Tasty Traditions at Coupon Cookin'


I think these would be better with the sauce I use on my chicken enchiladas:  enchilada sauce, tomato soup, and cream of mushroom soup.  I put a batch in the freezer without sauce so when I make those in a couple weeks I'm going to try them with the enchilada sauce.

1 lb ground beef
1/2 onion, diced
1 pack taco seasoning
1 can enchilada sauce
1 can refried beans
1/4 cup shredded cheddar
12 burrito sized tortillas
extra grated cheese and extra sauce for top

Spicy Beef Directions:
Brown ground beef and diced onions in large skillet.  Drain off excess fat and add taco seasoning.  Stir in 3/4 can of enchilada sauce (around 1 cup) and set pan aside.

Cheesy Beans Directions:
Stir shredded cheese and beans together and warm in the microwave.

Enchirito Directions:
Nuke some tortillas for about a minute or so.  You want them to be soft and pliable.  Spread on some warm cheesy beans and some spicy meat.  Roll it over, fold over the ends, and roll over again.  Place in a baking dish.  Top with extra cheese and sauce.  Bake until warm and cheese is bubbly, about 30 minutes at 350 degrees.


Breakfast Pizza

 I'm glad these reached my expectations because I was looking forward to them all week!  Definitely a hit and something different for breakfast night.

I made this homemade pizza dough in the bread machine.  I prebaked them for 8 minutes.  Then I did these pizzas:

~sausage (used the Jimmy Dean turkey sausage crumbles...already cooked and crumbled, same price as a roll of sausage and very tasty if I do say so.  Worth the money for me to not cook the sausage first.  And no, they didn't give me anything to say that!), egg, shredded pizza blend cheese, with red pepper and onion on half. 

~leftover honey glazed ham from Christmas that we had in the freezer, Tastefully Simple's cheese sauce, egg, red pepper, onion, and half also had the sausage.  I used the Italian blend shredded cheese on this one, and a little cheddar.

After pre-baking the crust I spread a light layer of shredded cheese on the crust, since there isn't much sauce on it I thought this might keep it from drying out too much and help the toppings stick.  Then I added the toppings and another light layer of cheese.

For the ham one, I put some shredded cheddar on the crust in place of sauce, added the toppings, spooned some cheese sauce over the toppings and then added a light layer of Italian cheese blend on top.

I definitely suggest trying these, with your choice of toppings of course but they were very good.