Monday, August 30, 2010

Weekly Menu: 8/29 - 9/3

Lots of yummy stuff planned this week...

Sunday: Balsamic Glazed Short Ribs, Mashed Potatoes and Creamed Cabbage

Monday: Chicken Cacciatore and Salad

Tuesday: Creamy Chicken and Corn Chowder, Biscuits and Scallded Lettuce

Wednesday: Out to celebrate my Brother-in-law's birthday...

Thursday: Fish Fillets, Rice and Brocolli

Friday: Tacos, Mexicorn and Mexirice

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Balsamic Glazed Shortribs

Okay so I know that this isn't the most beautiful picture in the world, but I had to post these because they were too yummy not to. I have wanted to make short ribs for awhile now and I found some at my local store on sale and then the fun began. Short ribs have to be one of the most tender pieces of meat that I have ever eaten.

These shortribs were cooked in the crockpot so I didn't have to heat up my house with the oven. You sear them on the stove first and then make a sauce with the drippings, balsamic vinegar and a saute of garlic and onions that you pour over them in the crockpot. The balsamic vinegar gives the meat a nice sweet flavor as it cooks in the crockpot.

After you pull the shortribs out of the crockpot you take the sauce and skim the fat off of it and reduce the sauce on the stove. I added a couple of tablespoons of heavy cream to it to pull the sauce together at the end. You can serve these over mashed potatoes (what I did), polenta or rice and drizzed with some of the sauce. Yummy! My family is already asking when we are going to have these again!

Balsamic Glazed Shortribs
(I started out with a recipe from I believe Woman's Day and made it my own)

4-5 pounds of shortribs (if they are boneless you will need less)
3 TBL olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 medium onion, diced very finely
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup chicken or beef stock (the recipe called for red wine but I didn't have it)
Salt and Pepper
2 TBL heavy cream

- Heat oil over medium high heat.
- Sear the shortribs on each side
- Add shortribs to your crockpot, season with salt and pepper and turn on low
- Remove all but 1 TBL of oil out of the pan. Cook the garlic and onion for about 2 minutes
- Add the balsamic vinegar and broth and scrape any bits of flavor that are on the bottom of the pan. Allow to reduce for 1-2 minutes and pour over the shortribs in the crockpot
- Allow to cook on low for 8 hours. I had boneless shortribs so mine took less...more like 5 1/2 to 6.
- Remove the meat from the crockpot and place on a plate. Skim the fat off of the sauce and put the sauce in a small saucepan on the stove.
- Allow the sauce to reduce on the stove over medium high heat until reduced by over half.
- At the end add 2 TBL heavy cream (optional) and pour over the shortribs when you serve them.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Happy 6th Birthday Madelyn!!

Today is a special day for my amazing niece Madelyn! She not only started the 1st grade, but it is her 6th birthday! Mady is so special to me and I love her so so so so much. Mady is a smart little girl that loves to be a big helper and she absolutely loves to play and be crazy. She is a shy and sensitive child and her heart breaks if you look at her the wrong way.

I am so thankful for all of the time that I get to spend with her (as crazy as she can be). One of her favorite things to do is spend the night at Yaya's (me) house. She is obsessed with helping me cook and wants me to play with her the entire time that I am with her. My sister and brother in law are currently building 800 feet back in the woods from where my house is. I am so looking forward to having Mady and Savannah close to me now so that I can see them even more.

I pray for Mady every day that God will protect her not only physically, but spiritually and emotionally as well. The world is a tough place to grow up in now days and kids tend to grow up a little faster. I don't think that family can do enough to make kids know that they are their number 1 fans and that they are loved.

I included a picture below from Mady's first birthday party. It's crazy how much that she has grown up and how much has happened since she was born. I see my Memaw's arm in the picture beside her and I know that she would be so in love with Mady and Savannah if she was still living.

Happy Birthday Madelyn!!! I love you!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Friday Favorites - 8/21

Another week has come and gone and I can't say that this one went too fast. I thought that it would never end!! I know, I know, my grandmother would have chewed me out for trying to rush time. But man, I am so happy for a couple of days of freedom! They are going to be a busy couple of days though!!!

The picture that I posted this week is another that my sister took of my nieces. I love all sorts of things about it. She is definitely improving in her photography!

Reading - I finished "Ten Things I Love About You" by Julia Quinn and I stopped reading "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert. The book just got a little too far fetched for me religion wise and it also spent a chapter in some political stuff that I didn't agree with. No, I am not one of those people that only reads books from my own political opinion...this book was supposed to be a fun read for me and not a learning/controversial read for me. I began looking at it as a not fun read so I stopped. Sometimes I just like to get away from all of the stuff flying around these days. And yes, I know that the author has every right to write about what she wants and I have every right to read what I want. :-)

I also finished Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala. Great read about the power and importance of prayer in our lives.
  • Duchess in Love by Eloisa James
  • Just the Way You Are by Christina Dodd - Another romance...oh well, I love them. This is the first book that I have read of Christina's and I am pleasantly surprised so far. It's really good!
  • Jerry Falwell: His Life and Legacy by Macel Falwell - The book written by the widow of my long time pastor Dr. Falwell. It's very good and funny so far.
Cooking - I tried a couple new things this week for dinners. First off, I made a sweet and spicy apple glaze for some turkey kielbasa kabobs that I made. Then I tried out some grilled barbecue chicken subs with sauteed peppers, mushrooms and onions with provolone cheese. Yummy!! Mady's 6th birthday is this week so I will be making her birthday cupcakes today for her party tomorrow. She wants bright pink icing with stars, hearts and diamonds. I have in my head how I am going to do them and will definitely post them on here. :-) Other than that I am not too sure what I will be making yet. We will see what I come up with next week.

Favorite Thing: My favorite thing this week was my Friday night. I got to go to dinner and hang out with my Mom and then my nieces spent the night with me. We had an absolute blast as always...of course my house that is in shambles now is regretting them ever coming.

Going to: This weekend is a crazy one for me. I have lots of errands to run and then I will be helping to get ready for Mady's birthday party and Chuck E Cheese tomorrow. I can't believe that kid is going to be 6!!!

Praying for: The transition to school for not only my nieces, but all of the other kids out there. I remember how nerve wracking it could be to start a new class and make new friends. This is the first time that Savannah has been to school so it should be interesting. I am also praying for the start of Liberty for the year. We are expecting 10,000 residential students for the fall so I am praying for safe travels for the students coming in, that things will go seamlessly as everyone starts classes and that God will do great things at the school this year.

Quote: "God doesn't promise that there won't be storms, but He promises to walk with you through them."

Have a great week!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Rolo Pretzel Bites

Okay so I know that these don't look like the most appetizing thing in the world but let me tell you, looks can be deceiving! My nieces and I made these on Sunday afternoon and they had so much fun with it! (Yes, these are easy enough for a 3 year old to do.) I have a feeling that these will be added to our repeat list and the fun thing is that you can do several variations on these.

I got the recipe out of a cookbook that the pastors wives and church workers did recently at my church. I thought that they sounded so fun. Basically they are mini pretzels with a Rolo candy on each. You bake them for a few minutes and push something on top or down in the middle of them to spread the ooey gooey caramel and chocolate over the pretzel. I guess it's a dummies (yes I am calling myself a dummy) version of a turtle.

We decided to use the M&M's because my nieces aren't big fans of nuts. The "prettiest" thing to do for these would probably be a pecan or walnut half (which is another suggestion that the recipe makes). Let me tell you, these things disappeared in no time. I know that I didn't eat all of them. I have a feeling little fingers were reaching up on the counter and snagging them.

Rolo Pretzel Bites
Mini Pretzels
Rolo Candies
M&M's or pecan halves

- Preheat oven to 275
- Put a piece of parchment or wax paper on a cookie sheet
- Spread out the pretzels
- Place a Rolo candy on each pretzel
- Bake in the oven for 3 to 3 1/2 minutes
- Remove from oven and immediately top with the candy or nuts
- Place in the fridge to cool completely


MSC Cupcake Club - Triple Citrus Cupcakes

The 15th quickly snuck up on me again this month so it is time again for another post for the Martha Stewart Cupcake Club! Marthe from Culinary Delights chose the yummy Triple Citrus Cupcakes for our August posts. If you like citrus, these are just for you! I especially enjoyed the change from the buttercreams that are typically on our cupcakes to the simple citrus glaze that we used for these. This made them a lot faster to make as well!
The cake resembled a pound cake to me. There was lots of butter and eggs which are some of the main ingredients that go into my pound cakes. They ended up being a lot denser than I am typically used to with a cupcake as well.
I also loved how the recipe called for 3 different types of citrus zest. I quite honestly get tired of just doing lemon or just doing lime, so having the opportunity to do 3 at a time was great!
I halved the recipe as usual and made 18 instead of the 36. My office mates will be happy this morning. I warned some of them though, if you don't like tart and tangy things then avoid them at all costs!
Will I make these again? Probably not, but as always I had a blast trying out something new!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday Favorites

Well it has actually be a fairly uneventful week for me. It is so nice to have those sometimes. I included a picture above that my sister took recently. I think that it is so beautiful and peaceful and oh how I dream of that kind of peace and quiet sometimes. I am actually considering printing it and hanging it at my house...of course she would just love that.
Reading: I am still working on some of the same books, but I finished Savor the Moment by Nora Roberts. It was so good and I can't wait for the fourth and final book in the series to come out. I think that if I didn't have so many books going at once I would actually get some accomplished. Oh well...
  • Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert - still trudging's going to take a lot of restraint for me not to go and see that this weekend.
  • Duchess in Love by Eloisa James
  • Ten Things I Love About You by Julia Quinn - my all time favorite author
  • Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala - I totally forgot to mention this one last week. I hope to finish this up this up today. Very powerful book!

Cooking: I made a super yummy pasta dish earlier this week that you can see the post of below. I also made homemade chicken pot pie which is always a big hit. I am looking forward to our monthly installment of the MSC Cupcake Club this weekend. I believe that the pick from the group is Triple Citrus Cupcakes or something like that. Sounds delish...

Favorite Thing: Okay this sounds completely stupid, but my one of my favorite things this week has been the sleep that I have been able to catch up on at night. I have taken advantage of some additional sleep time and it has been soooo nice! I also enjoyed some time that I was able to spend with my niece Madelyn over last weekend. I love that kid so much.

Going to: Well my list of things to do at home continues to grow and grow. (Maybe I shouldn't have enjoyed my favorite thing above so much). I plan on tackling a few things this weekend at my house that I have been wanting to get done. I would also like to work on making some cards (hobby of mine) so that I will have a stock of them for later this year. Christmas is coming you know! I plan on baking and cooking some this weekend as well. I already mentioned the MSC Cupcake Club and I have some new recipes cut out as well that I would like to try. Finally, I imagine that a late movie will be thrown in either Friday or Saturday night which is just dandy with me as well.

Praying for: Several families in the TRBC and LU community that are mourning the loss of loved ones. The community has been hit hard recently with deaths and is such a hard time for these families. Also praying for God's strength for myself as I am struggling with some things in my personal life. I need constant reminder that I should trust in Him and not only in trying to make things better by myself.

My Quote for the Week: I have a book that I am constantly writing down my favorite quotes and verses. What an awesome place to share them!

"Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars and to change the world" - Harriett Tubman

I hope that everyone has an awesome and productive week!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Accidental Dinner (and it was delicious too!)

Well, the inevitable has happened as dinner plans fell through. This usually happens at some point during the week no matter how well that I plan. So instead of going out and getting pizza or some other sort of horrible for you fast food, I decided to make an everything but the kitchen sink pasta. And it turned out oh so good. I didn't have any chicken or shrimp in the house so I decided to use up a bunch of vegetables. I will definitely be making this again! I actually can't wait for lunch tomorrow so that I can eat the leftovers. :-)

This is what I did. By no means does it mean that you have to do it that way. Use what you have on hand and be creative with it!

Creamy Veggie Pasta (because I can't think of a better name for it)
3 TBL olive oil
1 TBL butter
1 small onion, diced
6 large mushrooms, sliced (I actually had to slice mine in half first because they were so big)
1/2 zucchini, sliced
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 small tomato, with the guts scraped out (seeds and liquid) and diced
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
3 TBL flour
2 cups chicken stock (1 can)
1 cup water
1 TBL balsamic vinegar
1 tsp sugar
salt to taste
1/2 - 2/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
Pasta of your choice

- Heat a large skillet over med-high heat.
- Add olive oil and butter
- Saute onion, zucchini and mushrooms until softened and onion is translucent.
- Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, basil and pepper. Saute for about 30 seconds.
- Add the flour and stir everything to coat. Just before it begins to burn, slowly add the chicken stock and water in 1/2 cup increments. Stir constantly.
- Once all of the liquid is incorporated, let it cook until the sauce starts to thicken. I let mine simmer for about 10-12 minutes. During this time, add the salt and sugar.
- Start your pasta water and cook your pasta. Make sure that you salt that water!!!
- Add the balsamic vinegar, peas and tomatoes and stir well. Let cook for about 2 minutes.
- Lower the heat to about med-low and add the heavy cream and Parmesan.
- At this point your pasta should be close to done. Drain the pasta and add directly to the sauce and stir to coat. If the sauce is too thick, add some of the pasta water and it will thin right out.

Enjoy!! Other things that you could use in the pasta if you have it on hand are, shallots, broccoli, asparagus, yellow summer squash, bell pepper, etc etc etc.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Weekly Menu: 8/8 - 8/13

It's a boring week in recipe land, but I have a crazy schedule ahead of me...

Sunday: Chicken Pot Pie and Salad. Trying out a new pie crust recipe for it...

Monday: I won't be home, but the rest of the family will have Barbecue Chicken, Mashed Taters and Green Beans.

Tuesday: Salmon Cakes, Fried Potatoes and Cabbage made some way or another.

Wednesday: Spaghetti Carbonara, Salad and Bread

Friday: Hot Dogs, Baked Beans and Chips

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Friday Favorites

I decided that I would like to start doing a recap of my week every Friday or Saturday on here. I am unashamedly stealing this idea from my food blogging friend Kayte over at Grandma's Kitchen Table. I have enjoyed reading her posts and I hope that I will enjoy revisiting some of the items that have happened in my life over the past week.

This picture is of my niece Savannah. She was at my house yesterday and I became concerned when things were just a little too quiet. This is how I found her...not only was the bathroom soaked, but she had bathed herself and her clothes as well. :-)

Reading: I am currently working on three different books depending on what my mood is at the moment.
  • Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert - Yes, I am reading this because the movie is coming out next week. It's a good book so far even though I don't necessarily agree with everything in it.
  • Savor the Moment by Nora Roberts - This is the third book in her Bride Quartet Series. I am loving it so far. I must also note that I got to meet Nora Roberts at the RWA Literacy Autographing that my sister and I went to last week at Disney World. Nora was soooo nice (for a catrillionaire haha).
  • Duchess In Love by Eloisa James - I have never read anything by Eloisa so I wanted to try her out. It's a historical romance (my fav). I am only about 30 pages in but so far it seems promising.
Listening to: My current favorite is the Glee soundtrack. Yes...I am a Gleek.

Cooking: I didn't get a chance to cook too much new this week. I did try out a Key Lime Cake that turned out great. I actually ate out most of the week because my best friend, Elisabeth was in town and I spent a lot of time with her and her kids. Last night I made potato leek soup and that was yummy as always.

Favorite Thing this Week: Getting to hang out with Elisabeth and her kids Tyson and Jenna. I miss them sooo much and I enjoy getting to see them.

Going to: I don't have too many plans for this weekend. I am taking my niece Mady to see Ramona and Beezus today. I am sure that my Sunday afternoon will be filled with couponing and attempting a new recipe.

Praying for: A family at my church just lost their husband/dad this week to ALS. Praying for peace and comfort for them.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Key Lime Cake

I am famous for cutting out loads and loads of recipes out of magazines so I decided to pick a needle out of a haystack and try one this past weekend. I made a Key Lime Cake out of the April 2010 issue of Redbook Magazine. I believe that it is Tricia Yearwood's recipe but I didn't write it down.

The cake is 3 layers of lime green tangy moistness. It definitely has a tart to it...but totally in a good way. The lime flavoring and coloring comes from a package of lime flavored gelatin and then a syrup of lime juice and powdered sugar that is poured over the top while the cakes are still hot. This extra syrup makes the cake so moist!!

My one complaint about the cake is that the recipe didn't make enough cream cheese icing for a nice thick coating. In the picture from the magazine it is clear that they either 1 1/2 times the recipe or maybe even doubled it. The taste of the icing is great's a traditional cream cheese icing flavor.

One last thing that I thought was interesting about the cake is that it wasn't the typical mix your wet ingredients and then gradually add the dry. It calls for you to mix the dry ingredients and add the wet and combine. So I made the cake in one bowl so it was nice on the clean-up side as well!

Key Lime Cake
from the April 2010 Redbook Magazine

1- 3oz package of lime-flavored gelatin
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
5 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
3/4 cup orange juice
1 TBL lemon juice (I actually just added a little more orange juice)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup key lime juice (or lime juice)
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar

- Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour 3 -inch round cake pans
- In a large mixing bowl, mix the gelatin, sugar, flour, salt, powder and soda. Stir to mix well.
- Add the eggs, oil, orange juice, lemon juice and vanilla. Mix well and divide the batter evenly among the 3 pans and bake for 35 to 40 min. (I don't know if it is my oven or what, but my cakes only took about 30...this may have helped with the moistness)
- Cool the layers in the pans for 5 minutes and turn out onto racks.
- While the layers are still hot, mix the lime juice and confectioners' sugar and pour it over the layers on the racks. You can pierce the layers with a fork to allow the glae to soak in better. Allow the laters to cool completely as you prepare the icing.

Cream Cheese Icing
1/2 cup butter, room temp
1- 8 oz package cream cheese, room temp
1- 1lb box confectioners' sugar

Cream the butter and cream cheese. Beat in the confectioners sugar until the mixture is smooth and easy to spread. Spread the icing between the layers and on the top and sides of the cake.