Thursday, May 27, 2010


It's that time of year! Time to brainstorm something to give to the various wonderful teachers who have given me 6 hours a week of free time. I mean, who have been teaching and caring for our children all year! First I grabbed some gift cards from Target, but then decided it would be way more cost effective as well as meaningful to try and put a little something together.

I had recently given herb pots to some close girlfriends of mine for their birthday. I just went off that idea and made these little herb pots for my older son's preschool teachers.

All you need is:

A flower pot (got these for $5 each at Target)
Dirt (not sure how much but pretty dirt cheap at Target. get it, dirt cheap.)
Herbs from Home Depot ($3 each)
A Sharpie!

You might be much more crafty than I, and find more ways to spruce this up. I can conceptualize crafts, but I'm not much at execution. But still, I thought these turned out pretty cute!

The pot says "Every day you plant a seed that encourages me to know, the things that I will need to learn to live my life and grow!"

I also thought this might be a cute idea to attach with a Starbucks gift card. My neighbor made me this very tasty granola, and sent me the recipe!
Homemade Granola

Over medium low heat, stir the following ingredients until the sugar dissolves:
  • 1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of honey
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar

Turn off heat and set aside. Then in a large bowl combine:

  • 3 to 4 cups of granola (start with three and gauge how texture is once you add the wet ingredients)
  • 1 to 2 cups chopped pecans
  • 1 to 2 cups chopped almonds
  • about a 1/2 cup sesame seeds

Pour in the wet ingredients and mix well. It should be slightly wet but not gooey. If it seems too gooey, add more granola. Put into a large cake pan or cookie sheet with sides. Place in the oven for 40 minutes and stir every 10 minutes.

In the used bowl add some chopped assorted dried fruit. Once the granola mix is done, dump it in the bowl and mix to combine it. Make a well in the middle, pushing granola to the sides of the bowl so it can cool evenly.

When its completely cool, serve in airtight jars or bags! This recipe makes 4-5 12 oz Mason Jars!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Crockpot Sausage Tortellini Soup

Doesn't that just sound awesome? Well, it is. Some people might think the crockpot is perfect for cold weather... having something simmering and filling the house with yummy smells all day. I personally love my crockpot in the summer. I can throw dinner together real quick and then head outside to catch the end of the day with the kids outside. You can never have too many crock pot recipes in your arsenal if you ask me.

Another one of my wonderful neighbors brought this over last week (Thanks Tawnya and Eric!!!) Here is how they made it:

Crockpot Sausage Tortellini Soup

6 oz cooked Italian sausage (sweet or spicy, but they used sweet! Take the sausage out of the casings and brown it on the stove top crumbled up, place on a paper towel to drain extra fat.)
1 bag preshredded coleslaw mix (its about 2 cups, maybe a little more)
2 cups frozen green beans
2 - 14 1/2 oz cans Italian style stewed tomatoes
1 - 10 1/2 oz can condensed french onion soup
3 cups water
1 9 oz package refrigerated fresh cheese filled tortellini
freshly grated parm

In a crock pot add the sausage, coleslaw mix, green beans, undrained tomatoes, soup and water. Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours. 20 minutes prior to serving, turn to high setting and add tortellini. Serve with parm sprinkled on top.

Easy and delicious!! (No picture... it went too fast to photograph)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Guest Blog! Strawberry Trifle Heaven...

Well you may have guessed from my lack of posts, or the fact that I said I was having a baby any day about three weeks ago, that there IS finally a new member of the family in our house! She is so sweet, and girly, and constantly adorned in PINK and I love every second of it. Newborns are so nice, and its refreshing to be able to love and cuddle and snuggle without even having to think about schedule, routine or discipline.

Juggling three is definitely a whole new ballgame though and I'm still trying to figure out the logistics of it all. I can't even begin to explain how grateful I am for the many many meals so many kind neighbors and friends have spoiled us with. Its pretty amazing to hear the doorbell ring, and there stands someone with a hot plate of food all ready to go. And at the end of the day when the sleep deprivation kicks in, my patience has worn thin, and the normal craziness of bath/bed ensues, its a LIFESAVER to not even have to think about what we are making for dinner.

So since I haven't been and won't be cooking for a little while, I thought it would be fun to share some of these great meals we've been getting. I'm so excited to add these to my "recipe file" since they are things I would probably never think of on my own to make, but have LOVED!

My girlfriend Meredith brought over this Strawberry Trifle earlier in the week. YUM. This would work for not only for breakfast but as a dessert too! This was such a great idea... we had it for breakfast 2 mornings in a row! And I snacked on it throughout the day! Breakfast time can be JUST as crazy as dinner time... trying to get everyone fed, dressed, lunches packed and out the door for school or wherever. So it was so helpful to have something prepared already in the fridge I could pull out. My friend actually picked these strawberries with her kids! So take advantage of the strawberry season and make this delicious treat!

Strawberry Trifle

a 4 serving size package of instant vanilla pudding mix
2 cups of milk
1 8 oz package of cream cheese, softened (Meredith says to make sure you let this soften up)
1 6 oz container of vanilla yogurt
1 10 oz loaf of frozen pound cake, thawed and cubed into about 3/4 inch cubes
6 cups of quartered strawberries
2 cups of blueberries and/or raspberries
1 Recipe Berry Sauce (optional)

Make the pudding mix according the the package directions, using the milk.

Set aside, and in a large mixing bowl beat the cream cheese and yogurt on about medium speed until smooth. Then stir in the pudding.

Then assemble the trifle in a glass bowl...simply layer a third of the pound cake cubes, a third of the pudding mixture and then a third of the berry mix. Repeat layers twice and then cover and chill for 4 to 24 hours. If you made it, top with the berry sauce and serve!

For the berry sauce - simply blend about 2 cups strawberries or raspberries, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and 1 tablespoon raspberry liquor, rum or orange juice. Cover and chill until ready to serve!

Yes, it tastes as good as it looks!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Take Them a Meal

I think everyone should have one good go-to casserole or make-ahead dish in their recipe file. I don't. I know whenever I want to bring another family a meal I always ALWAYS struggle with what to bring. What do they like to eat? What do they NOT like to eat? What will be easiest for them to save or freeze? I've done a bunch of random things... baked ziti, grilled chicken, ready made salads for quick lunches, strata for breakfast. But I don't feel like I really have that one go-to casserole dish that I know is delicious and mostly everyone will eat. What do YOU bring??

My friend sent out a link to this website to organize dinners for a grieving friend. I had never heard of this and I thought it was such a fantastic idea!! It is called Take Them a Meal. Its really easy for others to sign up and see what others are bringing. I think I might bring this casserole. Here's what I liked about it... it was *fairly* easy. The ingredients were straightforward. The flavors are good but mild, so anyone would like it. You can freeze it. The ingredients are cheap. Super Healthy? Well, no.. but its not terrible either. Plus who cares if its healthy if someone else buys it, makes it and brings it over to you. But the greatest thing about this casserole was... my son ate it!! The one who eats NOTHING. He ate it!! I was doing cartwheels in the kitchen. 9 months pregnant. Seriously... if he ate it, anyone will.

PS If you don't read Pioneer Woman's blog, you should!

Pioneer Woman's Chicken Spaghetti Casserole
(I changed a few small things, but mostly stuck to her recipe)

1 can cream of mushroom
cheddar cheese
1/2 a green pepper, finely diced
1/2 an onion, finely diced
1 4 oz jar of chopped pimentos
2 cups (when broken up) of thin spaghetti
Lawry's Seasoned Salt
Cayenne Pepper (just a touch)
2 chicken breasts

Bring some water in a pan to a rolling boil and poach the two chicken breasts. I added salt, garlic powder and bay leaves to the water to add a little flavor.

Then in a bowl mix the can of cream of mushroom, the finely diced green peppers and onions, and the pimentos (drained).

Then, while your chicken is still cookin', break the spaghetti into small pieces and measure out about 2 cups.

Chicken's ready! Take it out and shred/chop it up. DONT DRAIN THE WATER YOU BOILED THE CHICKEN IN!!

Because its already boiling, and this makes your life so much easier. Just throw the pasta in.

AND reserve about 1 cup of the chicken broth-ish liquid. I saved 2 cups, but really only used 1 cup.

Now in that bowl with the cream of mushroom stuff, add the chicken...

When the pasta is ready, add that in...

About 2 cups of cheese... and 1-2 tsp of Lawry's Seasoned Salt and just a dash, small small dash of cayenne pepper for a little kick. Oh, and some black pepper.
OH and, add the 1 cup of reserved chicken stock liquid.

Then stir it all together and put it in a casserole dish!

Top it with some MORE cheese. Just do it. And if you're bringing it to someone else, bring it this way. They can either freeze it like this, or bake it when they're ready.

When its time to bake it, do so at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes. Til it looks all hot and bubbly like this...

Proof that even the pickiest of the picky will eat it...
You might even break into a silly face like this if you really like it. :)

Monday, May 3, 2010

I Don't Have a Plan

I'm due this Saturday. Even though theres a good chance I make it til then, I'm still hesitant to plan much of anything this week. I'll plan a few pantry meals, but I think I'll soak up any night I'm not having a baby by ordering Thai food, having straight ice cream for dinner, or indulging in another one of my very favorite foods for the last totally guilt-free time!

I will try and keep up with posts though. Who knows, if I'm in the hospital I'll have all the time in the world to update my blog!