Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Pizza Grilled Cheese

I saw a recipe on Pinterest the other day that just sounded really good to me. So over the weekend, I knew I had all of the necessary ingredients...I also knew I just had to try it. And I did. I loved it. In fact, I had another one for lunch today. The only problem is that I would really rather eat like two or three, not one. But for calorie sake, I have to stick with one.

Pizza Grilled Cheese.

It sounds so simple. In fact, I keep thinking, "Why didn't I think of that?"

I mean, I like grilled cheese. I like pizza. Why wouldn't it occur to me to combine the two?

Anywho, here is the recipe (link above to the original). As usual, I made some adjustments, mainly due to the whole counting calories thing which is not nearly as fun as not counting calories...

Pizza Grilled Cheese

bread (I just use 2...only one sandwich for me. :()

Italian seasoning or basil

Mozzarella cheese or Provolone

Parmesan cheese (optional)



Pizza sauce for dipping

Butter one side of each piece of bread (like you would for grilled cheese). I have been using the Brummel and Brown Yogurt Spread and LOVE it; it is lower cal than regular butter.

Layer Mozzarella cheese or Provolone which may actually melt better (I had to limit this for calorie sake...I would have preferred to use more), a sprinkle of Italian seasoning, pepperoni (however many you want), the Parmesan, and additional Mozzarella or Provolone if desired. Top with second piece of bread (butter side up). Cook in a skillet over medium heat, flipping partway through until both sides are brown.

Use pizza sauce for dipping.

I can just imagine how yummy the original recipe is since I was pretty excited about the lower calorie version I used.

Hmmm, suddenly I have a pepperoni craving.


Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Menu in the Making

Here is the proposed menu for the week. Always subject to change...

Saturday (yes, as in yesterday): Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken and Fried Rice I even made extra chicken this time and it was gone. All gone. So glad it was my "no counting calories" day. I ate plenty. :)

Sunday: Pumpkin Muffins (breakfast), Pizza Grilled Cheese (lunch)- recipe coming, a Pinterest recipe, On Your Own (dinner)- the boys were gone...I made spaghetti squash for me for the first time ever. Will share that soon.

Monday: Easy Cheesy Beefy Crescent Squares, carrots and Ranch

Tuesday: Chicken Spaghetti, garlic bread, chocolate lava molten cakes for dessert (This is Child 4's recipe of choice to help me cook :)

Wednesday: On Your Own Night

Thursday: Baked Potato Soup

Friday: Sloppy Joes, Sweet Potato Fries (I totally cheat on this: ground beef and Manwich, the fries are frozen. I have made real sweet potato fries before but the frozen ones are just as good and much faster!)

That is as far ahead as I can think right now.


What is for dinner at your house?


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Chocolate Pie

I really need to make a new one, minus the burned meringue, just to take a picture. I learned a valuable lesson with this recipe...don't blink when you are "cooking" the pie or your meringue will burn.

That being said, this is yummy.

It is my mother-in-law's recipe. (And she reassured me that yes, the meringue does burn easily :).

In fact, every time we go to their house (which isn't too often due to the miles between us), she makes at least one for us. And my family can sure chow down on it!

This past year I asked my firstborn what kind of cake he wanted. I have ALWAYS decorated their cakes. Always.

Except this year he didn't want cake. He wanted pie. Chocolate pie.

The typed recipe I have actually says "Chocolate Pie to Die For".

I was a little nervous. Cakes I know. Pies I am not as sure about.

But I gave it a try.

And it turned out fine. At least until I burned the meringue. (If you just lifted that part off, the rest was scrumptious.)

Pie crust (I just bought a package of two pie crusts in the freezer section...I was worried about the rest of the pie and didn't want to worry about making the crust too)

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup all-purpose flour or 3 tablespoons cornstarch

6 tbsps cocoa

2 cups milk

3 slightly beaten egg yolks (save whites for meringue)

4 tbsps margarine

1 tsp vanilla


Crimp edges of pie crust and prick bottom with a fork. Bake at 450 for 10-12 minutes or until golden.

In a saucepan, mix sugar, flour, and cocoa. Add milk and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until begins to thicken.

Add egg yolks and cook until thick.

Note: Getting it to thicken took a while. I was really worried it wasn't going to thicken at all and thought I had done something wrong. Just when I was about to give up, it started to thicken. So be patient on this part. :)

Remove from heat and add margarine and vanilla.

Let cool some.

Put in baked pie shell.

To make meringue, beat egg whites on high speed, slowly adding six tablespoons of sugar plus one more for good measure. When stiff, spread on top of pie and place under broiler until top is brown. Not blackened. :)

I HIGHLY recommend using a mixer for the egg whites and sugar. Mark had told me all about how his grandfather used to sit on the front porch with a fork or a spoon, whipping the mixture until it was stiff. We have tried it before. It didn't work. His grandfather must have had magic hands. MUCH faster with a mixer.

Also, I read on-line somewhere that you should add the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time. I believe I also read to use superfine sugar which I did.

When you spread it on top of the pie, you want to spread it all over or it will "shrink" on you pretty quick.

And last but not least, don't forget to watch it when it is under the broiler. :) It cooks much faster than you would think. It can go from white to very dark brown (almost black) in a matter of seconds.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Chicken Noodle Soup

So sorry to be missing in action. We have been having some "tried and true" recipes. That and I started dieting. :( Or at least watching my calories. So I haven't really had much to share though I think I am behind with some recipes.

But I do have one recipe to share for the week. Chicken Noodle Soup.
I think I mentioned that once a week, the "child of the week" gets to plan and help me cook a meal. So far every child has chosen "new" recipe.

This week was Child 3's week. She got a cookbook called Picture Me Cooking for Christmas. The book has recipes and a place to put a picture of your child cooking that food. So last week, in anticipation of cooking this week, Child 3 pulled out her cookbook and immediately found a recipe for Noodle Soup.

I try to be really careful with copyright material, but honestly, this is a pretty generic recipe, so I am going to share it.

Oh, we (or rather I) decided it would be chicken noodle soup, not just noodle soup.

By the way, this was a first for me. I had never made chicken noodle soup.

6 chicken tenderloins

2 quarts chicken stock (I used fat free)

3 cups vegetable stock (which is REALLY hard to find around here and is a bit pricey)

1 tsp chicken bouillon (I just used a bouillon cube)

1/2 cup chopped carrot (I just chopped up some "baby" carrots)

celery (optional...we opted out :)

1 to 1 1/2 cups noodles of your choice. We just used a whole bag of some kind of egg noodle.

Boil chicken tenderloins, then cut into small pieces/shred.

Put vegetable stock, chicken stock, bouillon, and vegetables in a large pot.

Bring to a boil.

Add noodles.

Cook for 10-15 minutes or until noodles are tender.

Add chicken and simmer until ready to eat.


It was really good.

The only change I would make would be to get lower sodium stock. It was too salty for me.

This was a very kid friendly recipe. I chopped carrots but for the most part, dear daughter added everything to the pot.

Oh, we had grilled cheese rolls with it.

We will have it again. :)


Saturday, January 21, 2012

This Week's Menu (possibly)...

Here is our menu for the week.

What is cooking at your house?

Saturday: Braided Spaghetti bread, carrots and Ranch (This meal was carried over from last night since we went to a sporting event instead)
Sunday: Pizza (out)
Monday: Grilled Hamburgers and fries (We call this Marky Rockets night in honor of the restaurant Johnny Rockets)
Tuesday: Chicken Noodle Soup (Maria's request for her cooking with Mom time), Grilled Cheese Rolls, smores for dessert
Wednesday: On Your Own Night
Thursday: crockpot chicken dip over Fritos
Friday: garlicky baked shrimp over angel hair pasta, rolls, salad
Saturday: some kind of pork and potatoes I would guess. I haven't thought that far ahead...

More soon...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Planning Meals

The other day I mentioned a meal we were having later this week. A friend joked, "You know what you are having later this week? I don't know what I am having tonight!"

The truth is I have to.

I have to plan.

Otherwise we would be eating out a lot.

Planning ahead is the only way I can survive.

I typically plan a week at a time. I used to plan for two weeks (mainly to avoid trips to the grocery store) but that was difficult. Plus I usually ended up with two carts of groceries which was really hard to navigate. I have also found that shopping for a week at a time reduces a lot of wasted food. I used to buy foods thinking I might cook something in the future. Then I would forget it was in the freezer. Now I only buy essentials ahead of time (ground beef is a good bet, especially if I can buy a big package and split it into 1.5 pound portions).

Anyway, I usually plan on Saturday or Sunday. I really prefer Saturday because I am much more likely to get to the grocery store on Saturday. On Sunday, with church and the mandatory nap (that gives me energy for the upcoming week), getting to the store is near impossible unless my dear husband volunteers to go. (And thanks to the iPhone app Grocery IQ, that is much easier these days to do :)

To actually plan the menu, I first look at our family schedule. When will we be home? When won't we? How much time will I have to cook? Those answers determine a lot.

Right now Mark and the big kids are attending church on Wednesday nights, so that is an automatic "On Your Own" night. It is really hard to cook for just me and the little people. Plus we need an "On Your Own" night once a week. It gives us a chance to use up on leftovers. The kids love it because they get to choose what they want (Ramen noodles a lot of times). And as much as I really do enjoy cooking, it is nice to have a night of just relaxing.

Thursdays (currently) are practice nights. The girls both have sports practices. So that is a crockpot night. That way, the food is warm whenever we have a chance to eat. We tend to eat in "waves" on those nights.

The weekends are reserved for the more complicated meals since I know we will have time. During the summer, that is the ideal "grill" time. I have also recently started having one child a week help me plan a meal to actually cook with me some time that week. The weekend is a good time for that too.

Typically in a week we have (at least one) chicken meal, a meal with beef, and a meal with pork. We are obviously not vegetarians. In fact, a couple people in our house don't consider it a meal without meat. Anyway, another night is normally either breakfast for dinner (like eggs and cheese or pancakes with a side of bacon) or sandwiches of some kind. In the winter, soup is a weekly event, grilling during the summer. We still do eat out on occasion, so if I know that is going to happen, I take that into account with the menu. And when Daddy is going to be out of town, a night with popcorn and Shakes or smoothies is a strong possibility. It is just kind of our special thing to do.

I try to vary the cuisines. Mexican typically in a week. Some kind of Italian. A little Chinese on a really good week.

And I typically do a mixture of the "tried and true" recipes and at least one new recipe (typically from Pinterest or food magazines).

I try to make meals that most of the kids will eat. I cannot please them all every single day. I have one who won't eat potatoes or veggies or even fruit. Another one doesn't really care for eggs. The youngest used to not eat much meat but that has changed a lot in the past year. And yet another is very picky and likely to turn her nose up at most things I make. I just try to make side dishes that will feed those tummies. I refuse to make separate meals. If I know it is something they absolutely won't eat, I will allow them to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. But really, that is rare. Usually SOMETHING offered on the table works for them. If anything, I figure they will be really hungry for breakfast the next day. (The one exception is when we make bacon wrapped grilled shrimp, we will throw some chicken on the grill because that is more a mom and dad favorite than a kid favorite, though in recent months, they have been eating it too)

Oh, and we do almost always have some kind of bread. And I do make an effort to offer veggies or fruit which is a challenge since most of the kids are not big veggie eaters. Sometimes carrots and Ranch is the best I can do.

It all sounds like a lot of work, but really, the actual menu part comes together in moments. (By the way, I usually post the menu on the fridge and point children to read it when the questions start coming..."What's for dinner?") The grocery list and the actual shopping is my time consuming project.

I will say though that once I started doing this, our eating out (especially fast food runs) dropped. Even on nights I am really tempted, I remember that we have a meal planned with all of the ingredients, and MOST of the time, I go ahead with my plan to cook. Most of the time. :)

I am not sure we save tons of money not eating out as much because our grocery bill is not exactly cheap. Ever try buying for a family of six? I am still working on being a more frugal shopper. (Not that I am really extravagant, though we do have one "splurge" meal a week typically)

But for those precious family moments around the table, eating a homemade meal, talking about our day, it is worth it.

I wouldn't trade those moments for anything.

Even the long trips to the grocery store.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Parmesan Pull-Aparts

Yes, another Pinterest recipe. Of course, I saw the word "Parmesan" (probably my favorite kind of cheese) and I just had to try this. Had I known how easy it was, I would have made these a long time ago.

Oh, the original recipe can be found here.

I did modify this recipe some (mainly measurements) and probably would a bit more even next time.

That being said, I loved these. I liked using just regular biscuits and adding a little flavor. Hubby actually compared it to the bread at a favorite restaurant which I took as quite a compliment.

1 can Grands Homestyle biscuits (I used the wheat/low fat)

3 tbsp melted butter

1 tsp garlic powder (I do love garlic but that was a LOT of garlic. I did maybe half of it? And honestly don't know that I would do that much even next time)

1/2 tsp parsley

1 tsp dried minced onion

1 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese (I didn't measure...I just used my rotary cheese shredder and shredded Parmesan to my heart's content. :)

1/3 cup Mozzarella Cheese (I actually did NOT use this. I didn't have any grated/shredded and I thought there was plenty to add already)

Preheat oven to 425.

In a small bowl, mix the onion, Parmesan, melted butter, garlic, and parsley.

Spread the mixture into the bottom of a 9 inch pie pan (I used glass).

Okay, I confess. I didn't do it exactly like that. I poured the melted butter into the pie dish. Then I just sprinkled the other ingredients around in it. I was in a hurry. It probably would have been more evenly spread had I actually followed directions. :)

If you are using the Mozzarella, sprinkle on top of butter mixture. Like I said, I didn't even bother with that. And I don't think I was missing anything.

Place the biscuits close together on top of the butter/cheese mixture. I had one biscuit left over. I felt bad throwing it out but I didn't feel like making a whole other pie plate with butter/cheese either.

Bake for 12 minutes or until golden brown.

Let stand for 3 minutes.

Turn pie dish "upside" down onto a serving plate.


I sure did. :)


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Fried Pork Bites

Just a reminder: I never claimed to be a food photographer.

Anyway, I decided that I wanted to spend more quality time with the kids. One on one. That is not easy in this house. One way I decided to make this effort was with food. After all, isn't food the universal language? Plus, as an added bonus, maybe my kids will pick up on some important cooking skills that will help them when they move out of the house one day. :)

I started last week with the firstborn (still need to share that recipe). This week was Child 2's turn. She had it all planned out last week I think. That is what she does. Poor Child 4. He doesn't think he will ever get his turn.

Sidenote: These are "guaranteed" cook with mom times. That doesn't mean we won't take advantage of the spontaneous moments, like when child 3 helped me make Pizza Snowballs the other day.

Anyway, Child 2 had this at school once for a family tree recipe activity. This recipe came from her friend whose mom R also happens to work at our school. It is a German recipe or at least comes from the German side of the family. It probably has a better name; I need to ask her. It wasn't on the recipe. So until then, I have made up my own. :)

Unfortunately, Child 2 poured so much of her energy into her dessert (she has a HUGE sweet tooth) that hubby and I ended up doing most of the work for this. But if she hadn't been busy baking, she would have been able to help with this. I would consider it kid-friendly. And it is easy and quick.

Enough of the chatter. Here is the recipe:
Fried Pork Bites

1 lb pork tenderloin (we used a 2 lb pork tenderloin...I am wondering if the the breakfast thin pork tenders wouldn't work too; they would probably be cheaper)

1 sleeve crackers (I used Ritz. I doubled just to make sure we had enough but one would have been fine)

1 egg

1 tbsp parsley

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

2 cups vegetable oil (I used my normal blend just to feel healthier :)

Crush the crackers. We put them in a gallon size ziplock and pounded away :). Add the parsley, salt, and pepper. Set aside.

Cut the pork into bite size chunks (like nugget size). Pound with a meat tenderizer to flatten.

Dip the pork pieces into one beaten egg.

Add to the bag of cracker mix.

Shake away.

Use tongs to remove the pork from the cracker mix and add to oil in the skillet. (I would recommend heating the oil first so it is hot and ready to fry)

Cook about 2 1/2 minutes per side.

I think with our meat (2 lbs), it took about three batches to get it all cooked.


I am beginning to see a pattern here. Out of the two times the kids have picked meals, they both have picked fried foods (which is very rare around here) and not exactly the cheapest meats. The first one chose catfish which costs a lot right now, and then the pork tenderloin was a bit more than we would spend on a typical meal. I think we may need to have a course on eating frugally AND healthy.

Oh, it was recommended to serve this with gravy. I didn't. I was already working on the cheesy hashbrown potatoes, Parmesan Pull-Aparts (bread), and black eye peas while helping my daughter with her dessert; I just couldn't add something else in. But hubby felt like it needed something like that. He ended up using ketchup to dip it. Oh, this tastes a lot like fried chicken even though it really is pork. :)

More later,

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Menu for the Week...

as of right now. :)

Saturday: Dining Out (Hubby's idea...really!)

Sunday: Crusted Pork Tenderloin (new recipe), Cracker Barrel Hashbrown Potatoes, Black Eye Peas, Parmesan Pull Aparts (Pinterest), Chocolate Bar Cake dessert

Monday: Ham/Cheese "Square" Sandwiches, carrots and Ranch, chips

Tuesday: Tostadas, Chips and Salsa

Wednesday: On Your Own night (half of us are at church, so cooking is difficult)

Thursday: Crockpot Cream Cheese Chicken, Wild Rice, Rolls

Friday: Braided Spaghetti Bread, Salad

It really does help if I set out a menu. I try to shop for the week ahead, only stocking up on necessities and things on sale we will use. I tend to waste a lot less food that way.

So, what is for dinner at your house this week?


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Bubble Up Enchiladas

Yes, another Pinterest recipe.

Something that caught my eye.

Last week, I decided to give it a try.

SOOOO glad I did.

It was easy. Fast. And yummy.

Is there a better combination?

One of my children who used to turn his/her nose up at Mexican food of any kind ended up eating half of this meal...himself! (Oops, I guess that gives up the whole his/her comment above)

I will definitely be making this again.

Oh, the original recipe (click on words above) was a very low fat recipe. I made it close to the original recipe, but my family really likes ground beef, so we did that rather than ground turkey. Probably not quite as healthy, but I do use a fairly low fat beef...

1 lb. ground turkey (or in our case, ground beef), browned and drained...of course, as is usual for us, we had more like 1.5 pounds

1 can tomato sauce (called for an 8 oz, I used a slightly larger one because that was what I had plus I had extra ground beef)

1 can mild enchilada sauce (10 oz, the RED sauce)

1 can reduced fat refrigerated biscuits (I used the light Grands)

1 1/4 cups shredded Mexican cheese


Preheat oven to 350.

After browning/draining meat, pour the tomato sauce and enchilada sauce over the meat.

In the original recipe, you cut put the biscuits into fourths and stir into the beef mixture. I just cut the biscuits into several pieces.

I just cut the biscuits apart and spread across the 9 x 13 dish (greased).

Then I poured the enchilada sauce/tomato sauce/ground beef over the top.

Bake for 25 minutes.

Take out and sprinkle Mexican cheese over the top.

Return to oven and bake for 10 minutes more (or until cheese is melted).


Like I said, very easy. Very simple. And very yummy.

My favorite combination.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

A Menu...Just Maybe

Yes, two posts in 24 hours. It is a miracle. :)

Here is our possible menu for the week. Always subject to change. :)

Sunday: grilled Steak, shrimp twice baked potatoes (new recipe), black eye peas, cheese filled breadsticks

Monday: Sour Cream Noodle Bake (new recipe), garlic bread

Tuesday: Fried Catfish, carrots and Ranch, baked oven french fries,

Wednesday: On Your Own

Thursday: Chicken Enchilada Soup

Friday: Pizza Snowballs

Saturday: I haven't thought that far ahead. :) I have to make it through the week first... :)

What is for dinner at your house this week?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Fried Rice

Sorry I have been missing in action.

School started back. That means life got crazy. :)

Anyway, here is the fried rice recipe we made to go with the sweet and sour chicken (all found on Pinterest). I have tried different fried rice recipes, but this has been my favorite so far. It does take a little time and a little planning ahead, which thankfully we had time for that day!

3 cups cooked white rice (We cooked it earlier that day and refrigerated it...from what I have read, it actually works better if you start with cold rice)

3 tbsp sesame oil (Okay, I confess...I just couldn't shell out the money for this since it wasn't an ingredient I would use often. I used our typical oil, a canola/vegetable/soy oil mix. New note:  I finally gave in and bought toasted sesame oil. Oh my word. Worth every cent!  It has such a wonderful flavor!)

1 cup frozen peas and carrots thawed (I actually did about half a cup frozen peas...didn't worry about thawing...and diced a few "baby" carrots we had in the fridge)

1 small onion chopped (I just chopped a yellow onion and used part of it)

2 tsp minced garlic (I would normally use fresh but what I had was moldy, so I had to use dried minced garlic)

2 eggs slightly beaten

1/4 cup soy sauce (I think we added more but we also used more rice)

Directions: Saute the onion, garlic, and peas and carrots in the sesame oil over medium heat in a skillet.

Reduce heat to medium low. Push the food over to one side and stir fry/scramble the eggs on the other side until cooked through.

Add the rice and soy sauce. Cook until heated through.

It was very good.

I do think if I had had any bacon, I would have cut it up and added that.

But I didn't.

Otherwise, there wasn't much I would change.

It was good stuff.

I have another recipe to share...maybe tomorrow. :)


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken

Yes, it is another Pinterest recipe. I have been craving PF Changs. And we actually have gift cards to go there. But it is a little bit of a drive, so we haven't gotten that way in a while. So when I saw a recipe for BAKED sweet and sour chicken (with a fried rice recipe on the same page), I was ready to cook.

Except then life got busy, and this kept getting pushed to the side.

Today I had in-service. The kids stayed home with Mark. There was no homework to mess with. The chores had been taken care of throughout the day. So it was a good night to try something new. And I happened to have all of the ingredients for this. Perfect. :)

This was fun to make. Especially when hubby came in and helped. I love cooking together. (Not that this was complicated and needed both of us, but I never turn down a helping hand :)

The chicken itself doesn't take long but it does require attention.

The end result though? Hubby thought it was BETTER than PF Changs. And we ended up with NO chicken leftovers. The kids devoured it. Bummer for me since I usually take leftovers for lunch. There is some rice left anyway...

Anyway, here is the recipe.

3-4 boneless chicken breasts (of course, I rarely use breasts...I used tenderloins)

salt and pepper

1 cup cornstarch

2 eggs beaten

1/4 cup canola oil (I used a "smart balance" blend of canola, soy, and olive oils)

For the sauce:
3/4 cup sugar

4 tbsp ketchup

1/2 cup vinegar

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tsp garlic salt (I didn't have any garlic salt so I used garlic powder)


Preheat the oven to 325.

Rinse the chicken and then cut into cubes. (I can never get cubes, so mine was more like small chunks :)

Season with salt and pepper to taste. I just put the chicken in a gallon size ziplock, then I added a little sea salt and freshly ground peppercorn and shook the bag to distribute it.

Dip the chicken into the cornstarch. I just added the cup of cornstarch to the bag. Then I closed the bag and shook away.

Dip the covered chicken into the eggs.

Heat the oil in a large skillet and cook the chicken until browned...NOT cooked through.

We just had a little assembly line. I had the bag of chicken/cornstarch, the bowl of beaten eggs, the skillet, then the 9 x 13 glass baking dish ("greased" or in my case, sprayed with cooking spray).

We used tongs to remove the chicken from the bag, dipped it into the eggs, put it into the skillet, then moved it to the baking dish once browned.

It worked well.

Next, mix the sweet and sour sauce ingredients together.

Pour over the chicken.

Bake the chicken for one hour. Turn the chicken every 15 minutes.

I was tempted to skip the "turning" of the chicken but I am glad I did. The sauce would get really thick. I am pretty sure if I hadn't turned the chicken, it would have burned. I just set the timer and turned it in between working on the fried rice (recipe coming soon).


Really, it was.

The sauce was delicious.

And the chicken. Oh yum.

Like I said, there were no leftovers!


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Hopping John

I really thought I had shared this recipe which just shows what a blur December was. :) Because today when I searched for it, it was not there. Oops.

So here is the recipe for Hopping John.

We eat this on New Year's if we are with my parents. You know, supposedly eating black-eye peas on January 1 is good luck. Now I don't really believe in luck, but I never turn down a reason to eat sausage, ham, rice, and beans. :)

If you are a Southerner, you have probably eaten this. If you aren't, you may think it sounds crazy.

But it really is good. I promise.

Even my picky picky eaters will eat this.

In fact, tonight the pickiest ate 5 bowls.

And one of my children who gags at anything the color green will eat this up in a heartbeat, celery and all. In fact, he wanted this for his birthday meal. So that is what we had.

You can either cook this on the stove or in a crock pot. If you know me at all, you know which way I went.

1 cup celery, sliced (I just sliced a couple stalks)

2/3 cup onions, chopped (I used a yellow)

1/8 tsp garlic powder

1 tbsp vegetable oil or bacon drippings

2 (10 3/4 oz) cans chicken broth

1 (16 oz) bag frozen black eye peas or 15 oz can black eye peas (I used the can...I have had trouble getting frozen to cook thoroughly)

1/2 lb ham, cut into cubes (I totally cheated on this...bought a package of already cubed ham :)

4 oz smoked sausage, sliced (I just used the Lil Smokies/cocktail wienies and slice them in half)

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper

1 bay leaf

3 cups cooked long-grain enriched white rice

Saute' celery and onion in vegetable oil or bacon drippings until tender.

For the stovetop:
Add remaining ingredients except rice. Bring to a boil. Cover. Reduce heat and simmer for 40 minutes or until the peas are tender.

Remove and discard bay leaf.

Add rice and heat through.

For the crockpot:
After sauteing the celery and onions, add all ingredients except for the rice to the crockpot.

I think I cooked it about five hours. I started off on high then switched to low.

I am trying to remember exactly.

Anyway, when the beans are cooked thoroughly, remove the bay leaf and add the rice about 30 minutes before serving.

Oh, and I made a double batch since we were having family over for our son's birthday. I think a regular batch would easily feed about 6. :)


The New Year's First Menu

I mean to post sooner than this, not that I think many of you are waiting on pins and needles for the menu for the week. Just so that I would have a plan. I do SO much better with a plan.

But sometimes life doesn't work out like our plans.

Like when you find yourself sitting by the side of the road in Mississippi with a very flat tire.

Or when you get home 2 1/2 hours later than you expected to.

Or (on a positive note) when you open your fridge and find that your mom has left some yummy leftovers that will make a perfect dinner for the next day.

So maybe it was better I didn't have my menu made up.

It would have all changed by now.

Here is my menu (hopefully). I have already been to the store, so we should be set.

Monday: We ended up eating out. Stoby's. Cheese dip and chocolate cheesecake. Not together. Oh how I love that place. And I probably wouldn't have had it if it hadn't been for that dumb flat tire. I enjoyed every bite.
Tuesday: Hopping John (that would be the yummy leftovers I mentioned from my mom), cornbread, Our Christmas Punch Note: I need to add the Hopping John recipe. I made that for my oldest's birthday dinner last month. Good stuff.
Wednesday: Sweet and Sour Chicken, Fried Rice (Pinterest Recipes)
Thursday: Bubble Up Enchiladas (Pinterest Recipes)
Friday: On Your Own night (possibly smoothies and popcorn)
Saturday: Pork Chops or Steaks (not sure which yet), Shrimp Twice Baked Potatoes (a Paula Deen recipe I cannot WAIT to try), rolls

So what is for dinner at your house this week?