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Pumpkin Palooza Recipe of the Day: MaryLou’s Sweet Potato Casserole

19 Nov

This is MaryLou. She makes a kickin’ Sweet Potato Casserole!

ORIGINALLY POSTED NOVEMBER 22, 2011:

Who is MaryLou, you ask? She’s my mother-in-law and she makes the best sweet potato casserole EVER!!  She knows how much I love it, and even if it’s NOT Thanksgiving, she’s often made it when we visit. I am always sure to sit myself next to the Sweet Potato Casserole at the table, whenever she makes it.

Since 450 miles is a LONG way to go for a bite of her casserole, she let me have the recipe in November 2004. I am now sharing it with you. You are very lucky. :)

INGREDIENTS:

3 cups sweet potatoes boiled and mashed

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla

1/2 cup margarine

Mix thoroughly and pour into buttered casserole dish.

TOPPING INGREDIENTS:

1 cup light brown sugar packed

1/2 cup flour

1 cup chopped pecans (this is a 6oz. pkg. halved pecans or so my notes say)

1/2 cup margarine melted

Mix with fork and sprinkle on top

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes

“Sit down and enjoy!”

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Two weeks of meals

12 Nov
Ready for another two weeks of dinners?

Ready for another two weeks of dinners?

It’s been a little while since I’ve posted our two weeks of meals menu, and I always get great feedback from readers when I do. Therefore, I’m sharing our current menu plan with you today. Hopefully it will provide you with some dinner ideas and inspiration.

If you’re a new reader, this is how we generally try to plan out our grocery shopping every two weeks on pay day. We create a two week menu and try to stick as closely as we can to it. It almost never stays 100% on track, so we almost always have some carryover for the next two weeks of meals.

We have found that this is the best way for us to stick to a budget and to always have a (relatively) healthy, homemade meal for our family to eat together every night. It doesn’t always work out perfectly, but it’s better for us than not planning at all.

Week 1:

Sunday: Corned beef, cabbage, potatoes, carrots

Monday: Tacos  *This lends itself well to taco salad or seven layer dip with chips for lunches the next day. This time around it was the dip, last time we had them, I did taco salads.

Tuesday: Lasagna

Wednesday: Pork chops and applesauce (homemade)

Thursday: Choice of hot dogs, hamburgers or chicken burgers

Friday: Pot luck dinner at Girl Scouts

Saturday: BBQ Ribs

Week 2:

Sunday: Dinner at friends’

Monday: Shepherd’s Pie (this was a ‘cook once, eat twice’ extra Shepherd’s Pie frozen from a previous month)

Tuesday: American Chopped Suey pasta bake

Wednesday: Lemon Basil Meatballs and egg noodles (this is from the make ahead meals Pampered Chef party that I attended in September)

Thursday: Dinner out, Girl Scouts are touring a local eatery, so we’ll be eating there afterwards

Friday: Pizza

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Soup for everyone

5 Nov
Three soups that are quick, easy and can all be done simultaneously.

Three soups that are quick, easy and can all be done simultaneously.

Earlier in the school year I did quite a bit of food preparation ahead of time, making and freezing foods for future use. One thing I’d wanted to do but hadn’t had time to do, was make and freeze some soup.

Recently when I had one child home sick for an extended amount of time, I had an afternoon where I’d have a couple of hours to make some soup. The only question was, what kind of soup? Everyone has a favorite. I love cream of broccoli and creamy cauliflower soup, as does my oldest daughter, who happened to be the one home sick. But, my other daughters and my husband, they love the cream of tomato soup that I’ve been making lately and my middle daughter in particular had been asking for it quite often.

When I thought about the recipes though, they were all pretty similar. Other than the actual vegetable for each soup, namely broccoli, cauliflower and tomato, the base ingredients and instructions were all pretty similar: onion and chicken broth. The tomato soup had a few extra spices thrown in, and the broccoli soup had celery added in and some milk and flour at the end, but ultimately I realized that I could actually make all three at the same time, almost like an assembly line: cut up all the onion, divide it into the soup pots, cut up each veggie and add them in, and then simmer. If any additional steps or ingredients were needed, it wasn’t all that hard to do. Nothing was complicated, expensive or time-consuming. In an hour I’d be done. The tomato soup has an option to put in tortellini and shrimp at the end, but this time around I was doing it without those last two ingredients mostly because that is what had been requested.

Just like that...three soups, done and everyone's taste buds were happy!!

Just like that…three soups, done and everyone’s taste buds were happy!!

Although I cried a lot of tears cutting up all those onions, overall it was a great experiment and all went off as planned. I had enough soup for whoever wanted whatever kind they wanted over the next couple of days, and then using quart-sized bags, I froze the rest. We already had a cold, rainy Sunday afternoon where a few of us had soup for lunch from the freezer, and there’s still more for whenever we need it, whether it’s for an after school snack, a lunch or a dinner where someone doesn’t like what’s on the regular night’s menu.

Since these soups have already been featured on my blog, I’m putting the links below so that you can refer to them if you’d like to make any or all of them for yourself. The weather here is starting to cool down and it will be nice to have some soups for the upcoming chilly days and nights ahead!

Here are the links for you.

If you’d like to make the Cream of Broccoli Soup, click here.

If you’d like to make the Creamy Cauliflower Soup, click here.

If you’d like to make the Creamy Tomato Soup, click here.

Enjoy!

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken from Six Sisters’ Stuff

22 Oct
Definitely, definitely a keeper! Thanks Six Sisters Stuff!

Definitely, definitely a keeper! Thanks Six Sisters’ Stuff!

We eat a lot of chicken. It’s a meat most of the five of us enjoy, most of the time.

I’m being very diplomatic in that statement, because not everyone likes all of it all the time.

That said, I’m constantly on the lookout for some variety in our chicken recipes. We do breaded chicken, we do chicken with mushrooms, we bake it, we saute it, but I’m just always searching.

Recently I found a great one. It looked delicious and it did not disappoint. Almost all five of us loved it.

Almost.

There’s always one….

This recipe is from the blog Six Sisters’ Stuff, and I’m pretty sure I’ve made some of their other “Stuff” before, and shared it here. When I made this recipe, I knew for sure I had to share it here. It was amazing! The recipe is for baked sweet and sour chicken and in the description they said it was just like Chinese take out.

And it was.

I served it with a side of my Light Vegetable Fried Rice, to which I now always add a dash of sesame oil, and it was a perfect combination.

You’ll definitely want to give this recipe a try, and soon! It’s easy, there’s not a ton of ingredients, and it’s delicious.

Here’s the recipe exactly as it appears on Six Sisters’ Stuff, I did not change a thing, other than using chicken tenderloins instead of breasts.

Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken Recipe from Six Sisters’ Stuff
Ingredients:
Chicken:

3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 cup cornstarch
3 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup canola oil

Sweet and Sour Sauce:
1 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons ketchup
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon garlic salt

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Cut chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces and season with salt and pepper.  Place cornstarch and beaten eggs in separate bowls.  Dip chicken into cornstarch then coat in egg mixture.  Heat canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook chicken until browned.  Place the chicken in a 9 x 13 greased baking dish.  In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together sugar, ketchup, vinegars, soy sauce and garlic salt.  Pour over chicken and bake for one hour.

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Healthy Shrimp Scampi

15 Oct
This was a great alternative scampi recipe for our family!

This was a great alternative scampi recipe for our family!

I know I say it all the time, but I just love all the recipes that come across my Facebook page every day. I’ve gotten so many great ideas just by my daily scrolling. Today’s recipe is one such recipe.

The only down side is I can’t remember who shared it! I know it was on Facebook though and it says it was from the Prego & Mommy Facebook Page. That’s not a page I follow, so someone definitely shared it and it appeared in my feed.

The thing that appealed to me about this particular recipe for Shrimp Scampi was that it specifically stated that it did not use any butter. We have issues with butter here, and anything too buttery makes some of us sick. I substitute with “I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter” pretty often, but when I saw that this recipe had no butter at all, I decided to give it a try.

I’m glad I did! It got thumbs up from all who tried it! I’d definitely make it again. The thing I liked about it too, was that you could make it as lemony as you wanted it to be (or not to be) by adding additional lemon at the end.

I followed the recipe just as it read, other than one change to the type of shrimp I used which is noted below, and I served it with wide egg noodles. Anyone who didn’t want the shrimp could have plain pasta if they so desired. There was just enough left at the end of the night that I could have it for lunch the next day, too! I love it when that happens.

Here’s the recipe just as I copied it:

Easy & Healthy Shrimp….No Butter (uses chicken broth, white wine, lemon juice)
Ingredients
4 tsp olive oil
1 1/4 pounds med raw shrimp, peeled and deveined (tails left on)  **I used a bag of frozen shrimp and I removed the tails before cooking.***
6-8 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup + 1 T minced parsley
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
4 lemon wedges
Preparation
In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil. Saute the shrimp until just pink, about 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook stirring constantly, about 30 seconds. With a slotted spoon transfer the shrimp to a platter and keep them warm.
In the skillet, combine the broth, wine, lemon juice, 1/4 cup of the parsley, the salt and pepper; and bring it to a boil. Boil uncovered, until the sauce is reduced by half.
Spoon the sauce over the shrimp. Serve garnished with the lemon wedges and sprinkled with the remaining tablespoon of parsley. Enjoy!

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Smoky BBQ Pork Tenderloin Sliders

8 Oct
This was an excellent Pampered Chef make ahead meal!

This was an excellent Pampered Chef make ahead meal!

You may have read some of my past two- week menu posts, where I mentioned having attended a recent Pampered Chef make ahead freezer meal “party” where we made up four or more meals for our freezer. I chose four meals from a pre-selected menu, but there were others who made ten! Today’s meals is one of the meals from that night. It was very easy to prep ahead, and very easy to cook the day of. It received all thumbs up reviews.

Pampered Chef recipes generally highlight some of their own ingredients, and this recipe is no different. The two needed PC ingredients are their Chef Smoky Barbecue Rub and their Garlic-Infused Canola Oil. When I participated in the freezer meal party, I was given a list of these types of items that would be ordered for me. I paid ahead of time for the items and when I walked in the door that night with the rest of the groceries I needed to prep the meals, I was handed a bag with my needed PC ingredients all ready to go. Any extras were mine to keep at the end.

When we arrived at the party, a station was set up for each of us with the recipes for our freezer meals. We prepped them right in the gallon ziploc bags we brought with us, double bagged them and put them right into our coolers. We came home with four (or ten) bags all labeled and ready to go with a list of cooking instructions, the full recipe and any other important information. It was fantastic.

Here is the recipe for the tenderloin sliders. I will note here that it calls for two pounds of meat but we only ended up needing one pound once it was cooked. We froze the cooked second portion for another night in the future. We’d just need another bag of the Hawaiian sweet rolls, which I found to be a teeny bit addicting! Those weren’t something I normally stock up on, but now I think I want to!

This meal was our dinner, we used it leftover for a few lunches and we froze a whole pound for another night, as I mentioned above. This was definitely a meal I’d prepare and freeze again!

Easy peasy, a meal all set to throw into my crock pot!

Easy peasy, a meal all set to throw into my crock pot!

SMOKY BBQ PORK TENDERLOIN SLIDERS (Pampered Chef, A Taste of Dinners Done freezer meal workshop)

Cook Time: Frozen in the crock pot 4-6 hrs. on low

Thawed in the Deep Covered Baker: Microwave on high 10-15 minutes.

INGREDIENTS

2 lbs. pork tenderloin

4T. Pampered Chef Smoky Barbeque Rub

1/8 cup Pampered Chef Garlic-Infused Canola Oil

1 yellow onion, wedged

Keep separate a 12-pack of Hawaiian Rolls. Freeze and thaw when ready to use.

 

 

 

Monday Musings: Watching it all fall into place

29 Sep
Our goal is always a simple one: to put our family first and have no regrets.

Our goal is always a simple one: to put our family first and have no regrets.

Someone posted this picture on Facebook a few weeks back, and I loved it then, so I saved it. It spoke to me in that it seemed to describe how we as parents try to live our lives. Like most parents, we put our children first and the decisions we make focus strictly on what’s best for them and for the way that we wish to mold them and the foundations we wish to give them.

We know that this time is limited and that it’s important. They’re only “ours” for a short time before we must set them free, off into the world to make their way, making life’s choices using all the tools we’ve given them in their tool-kits. As parents, we’ve taught them the importance of eating together around the table and talking things out. We’ve taught them how to solve problems and come out stronger in the end, how to do more on less, how to be frugal, how to appreciate the little things in life as well as what we believe the big things in life should be. We’ve passed on our strong morals and values and we’ve taught them to think of others before themselves.

And now, as our oldest has transitioned into the next phase of her life: high school, we’re watching it all fall into place. We’re watching all of our hard work, time and effort pay off.  As parents of a high school student, it’s our time now to step back a bit and watch our daughter use the tools in her tool-kit that we’ve helped her to stock over the years while we continue to help her fill it for the future.

It’s an amazing time, and yet it emphasizes the above quote to us even more. Our time with her in this capacity is short and we not only see the “light at the end of the tunnel,” but we actually see the end of the tunnel, we see our window of time together in this way, closing. As much as it saddens us to see her growing up, it thrills us to see her growing, maturing and becoming a confident, kind adult, the type of person we hoped we were raising and setting forth into the world.

It’s fulfilling to watch her make good choices (so far), to appreciate the things we’ve taught her to appreciate, to remember the talks around the dinner table and in the early after school hours as she makes some hard decisions, and to see her make good, solid, split decisions that put the needs of others before her own.

It’s nice to see it all coming together, to see the person we’ve molded, the foundation we’ve built coming into her own. We’re far from finished teaching her and our other children, that we know; our job’s not done, but it’s so nice to see the fruits of our labor coming to be and to see that it’s been worth all of the sacrifice, the time, effort and hard work that we’ve put into being parents, into raising and teaching our kids over anything else.

As the quote above says so well, we’ve found that time to be precious and to be a privilege, and we’re pleased to see that during this time of their lives, it’s precious and a privilege to our children as well, that they still look to us for the consistent advice and encouragement they’ve always relied on us for, and they still want to do the things together that we’ve always done as a family. They need us more now, as they’re getting older, than ever before.

It’ll be over in a blink and our nest will then be empty, but we’ll be able to be proud as we watch the adults we’ve raised from birth go into the world.

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