Monday, November 30, 2009

Creamy Ranch Chicken

My Sister came home from Ohio for Thanksgiving. We are basically the complete opposites when it comes to cooking. I like to try out new things and tweak existing recipes; she can make Raman noodles. That's about all. (I love you Kayla, but you know its true)

Anyway, I offered to help her with a simple recipe that she saw in one of my cookbooks. Here's how it went: I went out and bought all the ingredients, I prepped, she went to visit some family and friends and showed back up when the food was done. C'est la vie.

The food was yummy, simple, and quick, so why not share anyway. This is from the 'Better Homes and Gardens: Quick Fix Family Favorites' book.

Creamy Ranch Chicken

6 slices bacon - I used applewood
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut into bite sized pieces
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons ranch dry salad dressing mix
1 and 1/4 cups milk
3 cups dried egg noodles
1 tablespoon finely shredded Parmesan cheese

Cut bacon into narrow strips. In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Drain bacon on paper towels and discard all but 2 tablespoons drippings.

In the same skillet, cook chicken in reserved drippings until no longer pink, turning to brown evenly. Sprinkle flour and ranch dressing mix over chicken; stir well. Stir in milk. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Stir in bacon and cook 1 minute more.

Meanwhile, cook noodles according to package directions. Serve chicken mixture with noodles; sprinkle with Parmesan.


~Nicole

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Getting back in the swing of things

What a long time its been since I posted last. Here is a brief summary of my absence...

We have moved to NH and are still getting settled in. Madison and Nathan are in school, and Lauren is home during the days with my husband. I am working at a Doctor's office and my husband works 4 ten hour nights as a youth counselor at a detention facility for boys. This works out really well because we don't have to pay for daycare, which is a huge expense.

Currently, we are in major preparation for Christmas. I am nearly finished with the gift purchasing, and now have the dreaded task of wrapping.

I hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving. We were happy to be able to spend the day with family that we hadn't spent the holidays with for several years.

Check Spelling
I will be back to posting on a regular basis tomorrow. My posts will be done at night after work is over and the kids have settled down. Five Ingredient Fridays will be posted late Thursday nights. I will be getting in touch with the last few winners to get their prizes on their way to them. I apologize for the delay. Things are finally getting back to normal and I will get the prizes caught up soon.

Have a great night and I will 'see' you all soon!
~Nicole

Friday, May 29, 2009

Five Ingredient Fridays: Its All About You!!!

Welcome to another week of Five Ingredient Fridays!!! We have safely arrived in New Hampshire, but haven't quite settled in yet, so I have to use my Sister's laptop. I also haven't had time to think about what to share so this weeks' submissions will be all yours.

ALSO, I haven't had a chance to pick a winner from last week, so I will announce last weeks' winner and this weeks' winner next Friday. They will get a little something special from me for being so patient.

Please post your submissions in the comments section along with your link.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Five Ingredient Fridays: Fruit Pizza


Congratulations to Holly @ A Mommy's Blessings who was last weeks' FIF winner. Due to a big move and a minor lapse in memory, her gift card is a bit late, but on its way. Sorry Holly!!!
We will be on the road for a few days and then will take a few more settling in, so there will only be one post next week and that will be the Five Ingredient Friday post, so please come back. And, tell your friends, bring em along. On to the fun...
This is the easiest dessert I have ever made. It is also the dessert that I am always asked to bring to pot lucks.


Fruit Pizza

1 tube refrigerated sugar cookie dough
1-8 ounce package cream cheese (low fat and fat free work just fine)
1 cup sugar or Splenda
strawberries, blueberries, kiwis, peaches, etc.


Roll out sugar cookie dough onto a cookie sheet and bake according to package directions. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

Mix cream cheese and sugar/Splenda together well. Spread evenly over cookie pizza. Top with whatever fruits you like. We like to use sliced strawberries and blueberries, but you can choose whatever your family likes.
Your turn...
Leave your link in the comments as Mister Linky is still being a bit unpredictable. Thanks!

~Nicole

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Big News!!

As you may have noticed, there haven't been any posts yet this week. This is due to the fact that we have a big event coming up this weekend...WE ARE MOVING!!!!

We are packing up our house in Louisiana and moving to New Hampshire. Quite a change huh?? I was born and raised in New Hampshire and have been living in Louisiana (my Husband's birthplace) for the past 9 years. We spent a short while in NH after Hurricane Katrina came along and relocated us temporarily, and have been wanting to go back eventually.

Our perfect opportunity came along when my Husband's company decided to go out of business and we were faced with the fact that there are not many jobs available in our area at the moment. The move was actually his idea. We figured why not seize the moment and make the change.

I will be going back to work after being home with the children for almost 5 years. This makes me both sad and excited, but it is very necessary as we will be paying rent plus keeping the mortgage going on our Louisiana home - just in case.

So, this weeks' Five Ingredient Friday will go on as usual, as will next weeks' but there may not be many other posts in between.

Please bear with us during this drastic change and we will be back to normal soon. Wish us luck!!

~Nicole

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Five Ingredient Fridays: Slow Cooker Beef Sandwiches


Its Friday!!! (Well, actually, its Thursday night, but anyhow...) I have tried some really fantastic five ingredient recipes thanks to all of you. Congratulations to last weeks' winner, Holly at A Mommy's Blessings. Email me at 5paiges@bellsouth(dot)net with your email address and I will send out your $5 Walmart gift card ASAP. On to the fun...


Slow Cooker Beef Sandwiches

2-3 pound chuck roast - cubed

1 package dry onion soup mix

12 ounce can of cola

Place meat in slow cooker. Sprinkle soup mix over top. Pour cola over all.

Cover, cook on low for 8-10 hours.

Serve as a roast, or shred the beef and serve on buns.




Your turn:
~All recipes must include 5 ingredients, or less. But, you do not have to count water, salt and pepper, or other common seasonings in your 5.
~Please be sure to link to your post in Mister Linky and not the main page of your blog.
~Please mention and link back to this blog in your post.
~Please visit other posters' blogs and leave lots of comment love. We all love comments, don't we?


*****Mister Linky hasn't been behaving well lately, so if there isn't a place to link up, just place your link in the comments section.********



~Nicole

Monday, May 11, 2009

Strawberry Banana Smoothies

This is another quick and easy breakfast item. The kids love it right along with the Breakfast Cookies.



Strawberry Banana Smoothies

2 packages (10 ounces each) frozen sliced strawberries in syrup
2 containers (8 ounces each) strawberry yogurt
1 ripe banana - peeled
1 cup milk

Blend all ingredients for 1-2 minutes, or until smooth and creamy.

Pour into glasses and serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.


LIKE BLOG CARNIVALS???? Be sure to come back Friday for Five Ingredient Fridays. Last weeks' winner won a Walmart Gift Card.

~Nicole



This post is being linked to:

Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays at Blessed With Grace
Tasty Tuesdays at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam

Breakfast Cookies

In our house, breakfast is definitely the most hectic meal of the day. We are almost always running late. But, I realize the importance of breakfast for my children, and I can tell a difference when they haven't eaten in the morning.

Our strategy is to make easy, make-ahead breakfast items that can be grabbed while running out the door. This one is a winner in our home because what kid doesn't love cookies?


Breakfast Cookies

4 and 1/2 cups granola cereal - divided
1 stick margarine - softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 envelope vanilla instant breakfast drink mix
1 egg
3/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon


Place 1 and 1/2 cups cereal in shallow bowl. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter, brown sugar, instant breakfast mix, and egg until smooth. Add flour, baking powder, and cinnamon. Beat until thoroughly combined. Add the remaining 3 cups of cereal. Beat until well mixed.

Form into 1 inch balls and coat in the reserved cereal. Place on cookie sheets 2 inches apart.

Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until firm and lightly golden. Store in an airtight container.



LIKE BLOG CARNIVALS???? Be sure to come back Friday for Five Ingredient Fridays. Last weeks' winner won a Walmart Gift Card.

~Nicole











For more domestic bliss, be sure to visit Blissfully Domestic

Friday, May 8, 2009

Five Ingredient Fridays: Peanut Butter Fudge


Welcome everyone!!! I have tried some really wonderful 5 ingredient menus thanks to all of you. Let's keep them coming.
~
Congratulations to last weeks winner, whose number was randomly chosen, Jessica at The Doctor's Frugal Wife. You are the proud owner of a $5 Walmart Gift card. Please email me your
mailing address at 5paiges@bellsouth(dot)net and I will get it on its way to you.
~
On to the fun...
~
Peanut Butter Fudge
2 sticks margarine
1 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 (1 pound) box of confectioners sugar
~
Melt margarine and peanut butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring constantly. Mix in vanilla. Gently stir in confectioners sugar and remove from heat. Pour into a greased 8x8 pan and allow to cool.
~
I make this for neighbors as part of their Christmas goody bags that I give out and they always love it. My Mom got this recipe from my Nana and passed it along to me, so it is tried and true.
~
~
Your turn:
~All recipes must include 5 ingredients, or less. But, you do not have to count water, salt and pepper, or other common seasonings in your 5.
~Please be sure to link to your post in Mister Linky and not the main page of your blog.
~Please mention and link back to this blog in your post.~Please visit other posters' blogs and leave lots of comment love. We all love comments, don't we?
~
~
*****Mister Linky hasn't been behaving well lately, so if there isn't a place to link up, just place your link in the comments section.********
~
~Nicole

Monday, May 4, 2009

Mexican Tortilla Soup

Happy Cinco de Mayo!!! I will be trying out this recipe tomorrow along with my Beef Enchilada Casserole. It looks very easy and I might also make some pepperjack quesadillas for dipping.


Mexican Tortilla Soup

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound boneless/skinless chicken breasts - cubed
1 red bell pepper - chopped
4 garlic cloves - minced
3 cans reduced sodium chicken broth
1 package (10 ounces) frozen corn
1/2 cup salsa
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
broken baked tortilla chips
sour cream (optional)

In a large dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add chicken, bell pepper, and garlic and cook for 3 minutes, or until the chicken is browned. Stir frequently.


Stir in chicken broth, corn and salsa and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.


Stir in the cilantro and serve immediately. Serve topped with tortilla chips and sour cream.



*Be sure to come back Friday for Five Ingredient Fridays. Last weeks winner won a $10 Walmart Gift card.*



~Nicole





This post is being linked to:

Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays at Blessed With Grace
Kitchen Tip Tuesdays at Tammy's Recipes
Tasty Tuesdays at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam

Rotel Chicken

The kids call this Cheesy Chicken Spaghetti. I call it an easy dinner that everyone seems to love.


Rotel Chicken

3 boneless/skinless chicken breasts
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 pound 2 % Velveeta
1 can Rotel tomatoes with chiles (I buy the mild version) - undrained
1/2 stick butter/margarine
8 ounces thin spaghetti


Boil the chicken breasts for 15 minutes. Remove from water and set aside to cool. Add the spaghetti noodles to the boiling water and cook according to package directions.

Meanwhile, in a large frying pan, melt margarine over medium-low heat. Mix in cream of mushroom soup, Velveeta and Rotel tomatoes. Cube up cooled chicken breasts and add to frying pan. Drain noodles and mix together with cheese mixture.

Pour into a greased 8x11 casserole and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.


*Be sure to come back Friday for Five Ingredient Fridays. Last weeks winner won a $10 Walmart gift card!*

~Nicole







For more domestic bliss, be sure to visit Blissfully Domestic.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Five Ingredient Fridays: Easy Shepherd's Pie


First of all, thank you to all who participated in last weeks Five Ingredient Fridays. I haven't had the chance to try all of the recipes yet, but they have been added to my list of future menus. Congratulations to Liz at Hoosier Homemade who was the first winner of our little blog carnival. Using random.org, Liz's number was selected and she wins a $10 Walmart gift card. Email me your mailing address and I will get it right out on its way to you.
~
Will you be this weeks winner? On to the fun...
~
This week, I wanted to share my recipe for shepherd's pie. I have seen so many complicated, lengthy recipes over the years, that I have come to realize that mine is not a true shepherd's pie. But, we love it, people always ask me how to make it, and its less than five ingredients, so I think its a winner.
~
~
Easy Shepherd's Pie
~
1 and 1/2 pounds ground beef
2 cans cream style corn
mashed potatoes - leftovers, freshly made, or from a box (I won't tell)
~
Brown ground beef. Spray a 8x11 baking dish. Drain the ground beef and layer into the bottom of the pan. Pour both cans of corn over top, spreading evenly. Top with mashed potatoes.
~
*Even if you make fresh mashed potatoes, I only use butter and milk, so it still brings it to only 5 ingredients. But, why not use leftovers from the night before OR make up a box of flakes. I won't judge - I do it all the time.*
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Place baking dish in a 350 degree oven until the potatoes are browned slightly on top, about 30-45 minutes.
~
~
~
Your turn:
~All recipes must include 5 ingredients, or less. But, you do not have to count water, salt and pepper, or other common seasonings in your 5.
~Please be sure to link to your post in Mister Linky and not the main page of your blog.
~Please mention and link back to this blog in your post.~Please visit other posters' blogs and leave lots of comment love. We all love comments, don't we?
~
~
~
~Nicole

Forgive Me

I have been a bit absent this week. I have been distracted with work searches and rental listings.

We will most likely be moving in the next couple of months and I am doing major research.

But, I will still be hosting Five Ingredient Fridays tomorrow. The post will go up late tonight and I will also be announcing last weeks winner.

Can't wait to see what you all have to share this week.

~Nicole

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Five Ingredient Fridays: Oven Roasted...fill in the blank


Welcome to the first edition of Five Ingredient Fridays!!! I hope we have lots of contributors and yummy recipes to share. Here are some reminders:

~All recipes must include 5 ingredients, or less. But, you do not have to count water, salt and pepper, or other common seasonings in your 5.
~Please be sure to link to your post in Mister Linky and not the main page of your blog.
~Please mention and link back to this blog in your post.
~Please visit other posters' blogs and leave lots of comment love. We all love comments, don't we?

ALSO, this weeks winner will be announced in next weeks post, so be sure to come back. Winner will be randomly selected.

I have been scouring my recipe folders to see what I wanted to contribute first. I wanted something that was very easy, flexible and yummy. This recipe is for oven roasted asparagus, but can easily be adapted for brussel sprouts or broccoli. We love all three, and covering them with cheese is an easy way to get the kiddos to eat their veggies.

Parmesan Roasted Asparagus

1 pound asparagus - stems trimmed
drizzle olive oil
salt and pepper
1/8 cup parmesan cheese

Spray cookie sheet with nonstick spray. Trim woody stems off asparagus and spread on cookie sheet in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of black pepper and salt. Toss to coat evenly and bake in a 375 degree oven for 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Put back in oven an continue roasting about 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted.


TIP: If using brussel sprouts, cut in half before roasting. Brussel sprouts and broccoli will take and additional 5-10 minutes of roasting.


~Nicole





Wednesday, April 22, 2009

'Popeye's' Dinner...cheap

We don't eat out very often. We save fast food outings for times when we are on the road and there is no other option. But, we do love Popeye's chicken. I have made fried chicken a time or two and it was ok, but it was no Popeye's. We are also on a budget, so eating out doesn't normally fit into our financial outlook. So, imagine my delight when I saw a commercial last week about a special that Popeye's was having TODAY. The deal is you get 8 pieces of mixed chicken for $4.99. (The price is normally closer to $11.) I actually marked it on my menu planner. The girl on the commercial told me to, so I did. I'm very good at following directions...well, not really, but this was different.

Here's the game plan: Their sides and biscuits must be purchased separately and they will still be astronomically priced. Why not make your own?

I will be serving up Popeye's Biscuits, a copycat recipe, Easy Rice Dressing (Dirty Rice), Mashed Potatoes with homemade gravy and corn on the cob. Works for me!!!



Check out We Are THAT Family for more Works For Me Wednesdays.

Like blog carnivals? Be sure to come back Friday for the very first week Five Ingredient Fridays. Click here for all the info.


~Nicole

Monday, April 20, 2009

Pecan Pie Muffins

Muffins are a big breakfast favorite around our house. I am always in search for new ones to try. These are one of our favorites. And, they are super easy!

Pecan Pie Muffins

1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2/3 cup melted butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix butter, eggs and vanilla. Pour into dry ingredients and mix well. Fill each muffing cup 2/3 full and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.


This post is being linked to:

~Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays at Blessed With Grace
~Kitchen Tip Tuesdays at Tammy's Recipes
~Tasty Tuesdays at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam


Like blog carnivals? Be sure to come back Friday for the very first week Five Ingredient Fridays. Click here for all the info.


~Nicole

Slow Cooker Chop Suey

I love, love, love my slow cooker. It makes me happy to be able to throw everything in and not worry about it for several hours. By the time dinner rolls around, the house smells yummy and I have done very little work. This recipe was a big hit with the kids.

Slow Cooker Chop Suey

1 & 1/2 pounds ground chuck
1 medium onion - chopped
1 bell pepper - chopped
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
salt & pepper to taste
1 cup shredded cheddar
1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
1 can (15 ounces) diced tomatoes - undrained
2 cups cooked macaroni (about 1 cup uncooked)


Brown ground meat with onion and pepper - drain. Transfer to slow cooker. Add seasonings and tomatoes. Stir to combine. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Stir in hot cooked macaroni about 15 minutes before serving.


Like blog carnivals? Be sure to come back Friday for the very first week Five Ingredient Fridays. Click here for all the info.







For more domestic bliss, be sure to visit Blissfully Domestic.

~Nicole

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Five Ingredient Fridays...Come Join The Fun!!!!

I am very excited to announce that starting Friday, Paiges' Place will be hosting a new blog carnival, 'Five Ingredient Fridays.'

Here's the story:
When my Husband and I first got married, I ran out and bought a ton of cookbooks. Some of my favorites were: Make It In the Microwave, 5 Ingredients or Less, One Pot Wonders, and of course, anything having to do with 30 Minutes or Less. Ralph used to tell everyone that I never made anything that took more than 5 ingredients and 30 seconds to make. They all laughed, but really, I did enjoy simple and quick dinners. With children, pets, work, Husbands, community service, etc., we can all use a little help in the kitchen.

So, starting Friday, please come visit and share your favorite 5 ingredient or less recipes. I will be choosing a 'winner' every week that will be announced the following Friday and the winner will receive a small prize from me. The 'winner' will be randomly selected from all participants for that week.

THE RULES:
  • ~All recipes must include 5 ingredients, or less. But, you do not have to count water, salt and pepper, or other common seasonings in your 5.
  • ~Please be sure to link to your post in Mister Linky and not the main page of your blog.
  • ~Please mention and link back to this blog in your post.
  • ~Please visit other posters' blogs and leave lots of comment love. We all love comments, don't we?

I hope to have lots of participants. Let's all share our easy, quick and simple favorites.

See you Friday!!!

~Nicole

Friday, April 17, 2009

When You're Feeling Down

I have been feeling a little down lately. I'll be talking about some of it another day, but I just watched the following video and it gave me chills. This woman is definitely a ray of sunshine.

Her name is Susan Boyle. I have heard about her for a few days now, but just got the opportunity to see her video. She is AMAZING! The part that moves me the most is that she goes out there and people are rolling their eyes at her and she, unphased, opens her mouth and sings the most beautiful song I have ever heard and wins everyone over. She definitely shocked them all and I hope she wins the whole competition.




via videosift.com




There has been some talk over the past few days about giving her a makeover to make her more aesthetically pleasing, but I hope she turns them all down. She is beautiful just the way she is and shouldn't let anyone tell her any different. There are many types of beauty, not just what we see on the cover of magazines.

GO SUSAN BOYLE!!!!!! You've got my vote!

Monday, April 13, 2009

New Orleans Bananas

If you've ever been to Foster's restaurant in New Orleans, you know how popular their Bananas Foster dessert is. You may have even heard of it without ever visiting here. This is a copycat version of the classic.


New Orleans Bananas

2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 bananas
ice cream

Melt butter in a medium skillet. Stir in brown sugar, orange juice and cinnamon. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring often, over medium high heat until the mixture reduces by about 1/4. The sauce will be slightly syrupy.

Peel bananas and cut into 2 inch slices. Place carefully into the sauce. Cook just long enough to heat through. Baste the bananas with the sauce instead of stirring. Be careful not to overcook or they will become mushy.

Spoon finished product over ice cream and serve immediately. Enjoy!





~Nicole




This post is being linked to:




~

Easy Chicken Gumbo

Easy Chicken Gumbo
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup flour
3 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 lbs boneless/skinless chicken breasts - cubed
1 cup potatoes (1/2 lb) - cubed
1 cup onions - chopped
1 cup carrots - coarsely chopped
1/4 cup celery - chopped
4 cloves garlic - minced
2 scallions - chopped
1 whole bay leaf
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons jalapeno pepper
1 cup frozen okra - thawed and drained


Add oil to a large dutch oven and heat over medium-high heat. Stir in flour and cook, stirring constantly, until flour begins to turn a golden brown. This is your roux. DO NOT LEAVE UNATTENDED OR THE ROUX WILL BURN VERY QUICKLY!!!

Slowly stir in all the broth using a wire whisk and cook for 2 minutes. The mixture should not be lumpy.

Add all ingredients except okra. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer for 20 to 30 minutes.
Add okra and let cook for 15 to 20 more minutes.
Remove bay leaf. Serve hot in a bowl or over rice.





For more domestic bliss, please visit Blissfully Domestic.





~Nicole

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter Everyone!!!

My family lives over 1800 miles away. Unfortunately, we don't get to see them very often. I get requests all the time for pictures of the kids, and I would love to provide them with some. But, when I try, this is the result...



Can you feel the excitement?
~

Its really overwhelming, isn't it?

~



They can hardly contain themselves.



~


I finally got 2 of them to cooperate, but Lauren wasn't having any of it.
~




We tried to hold her down...

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but...
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she got away.
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We're getting there...
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GOT IT!!!! They are all smiling and looking at the camera.
Its an Easter miracle!
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This photo shoot took 20 minutes. I needed a nap afterward.
~
Mom, please forgive my lack of current pictures. I just don't have the energy.
~
Happy Easter Everyone!
~Nicole
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Friday, April 10, 2009

Cajun Food - Take 2

I will be 'tweaking' my gumbo recipe this weekend, so look for that one and the New Orleans Bananas on Monday. But, I have two more of our Cajun favorites to share with you today.


Cajun Baked Catfish

2 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 catfish fillets *I normally use tilapia instead*

Combine first 8 ingredients. Brush over both sides of the fish.

Spray a 9x13 baking dish and place fish inside. Bake at 450 degrees for 10-13 minutes, fish will flake easily when done.



Shrimp Creole

2 pounds shrimp
1/8 cup olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 large bell pepper - chopped
1 cup green onion - chopped
6 cloves garlic - minced
6 oz. tomato paste
6 oz. tomato sauce
1 and 1/2 teaspoons sugar
chopped parsley - for garnish

Season shrimp with salt and pepper and set aside. Heat olive oil in dutch oven over medium heat. Saute onions, celery, bell pepper and garlic in olive oil. Add tomato paste, sauce and 4 cups water. Cover and cook 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Add more water, if needed. Don't let the sauce get too thick.

Add shrimp, green onions and sugar. Cook over low heat for 30 minutes. Serve over hot rice and garnish with chopped parsley.


Have a great Easter Weekend!!!

~Nicole


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Thursday, April 9, 2009

New Orleans Food

My family came to visit me last year and it was their first real experience with the great food of New Orleans. We walked around the French Quarter and stopped at a little cafe where my Dad tried out Gumbo. It was a little spicy, but he liked it. I believe my Sister had a turkey sandwich. She is much less adventurous.

Last night, my Dad asked me for some of the recipes, so I am going to post them here and share them with all of you as well.


Jambalaya

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 large onion - chopped
4 garlic cloves - chopped
1 bell pepper - seeded and chopped
1 cup rice
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 can Mexican style stewed tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast - diced
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 pound medium shrimp - peeled & deveined

Heat dutch oven over medium heat and add oil. Saute onion and garlic for 5 minutes. Add bell peppers and rice and saute until lightly browned, about 3-4 minutes. Add broth, tomatoes and bay leaves and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until rice is almost tender, about 35 minutes.

Add chicken and thyme. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Add shrimp and simmer, covered, until the shrimp are just opaque, the chicken is cooked through and the rice is tender, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and keep covered to allow the rice to steam for 10 minutes. Remove bay leaves and fluff mixture with fork.



Fried Shrimp Poboys

2 pounds large, fresh shrimp - peeled and deveined
1 cup AP flour
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
pinch of sugar
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 loaf French Bread
mayonnaise, lettuce, sliced tomato, pickles
vegetable oil

Cover the bottom of a large frying pan with about an inch of vegetable oil. Heat over medium heat for 15 minutes. Also, preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Meanwhile, beat egg. Mix with flour, salt, pepper, sugar and garlic powder. Mix in just enough cold water to make a mixture like pancake batter.

Peel and devein shrimp. Place in colander and run cold water over. Drain, then pour cold milk over them. Let drain. Dump shrimp into batter. When oil is warmed, use a fork to remove the shrimp from the batter and place into the hot oil. Cook about 4 minutes, then flip and cook for another 4 minutes.

While the shrimp are cooking, cut french bread in half and toast in the oven. Watch carefully - you only want to toast the bread so it has a little crunch. This takes about 5-10 minutes.

Drain the cooked shrimp on a paper towel and 'dress' your bread with mayonnaise, lettuce, tomatoes and pickles (or any combo that you like). Add cooked shrimp and enjoy!


Coming soon: Gumbo and New Orleans Bananas


~Nicole

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Mmmmmmm.....Meatballs!

Let me start off by saying that I am normally the girl who buys the frozen meatballs from the store and tosses them in the crock pot with the spaghetti sauce. I don't feel badly about it either. Not even when my husband's co-workers marveled over how I am always able to make perfectly uniform meatballs. They even called me 'Martha.' Who was I to turn down a compliment?

But, there are times when I just feel like making the real thing. Again, these are a recipe I have tweaked over the years and never wrote down until this weekend. They include a secret ingredient that my Dad taught me about years ago.


Homemade Meatballs

3-4 pounds ground chuck
2 eggs
1/2 tablespoon Worcester sauce
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/4 tablespoon ground black pepper
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 tablespoon onion powder
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
and the secret ingredient:

1/2 cup grated Parmesan (OK, not a huge secret, but I was trying to be mysterious)

If I wasn't the mother of a 7 year old who suddenly decided that she hates ALL vegetables, I would absolutely replace the onion powder with a large sweet onion minced. I would also throw in a minced bell pepper for good measure.

Throw all ingredients into a large bowl and mix well. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Pour just enough water in the pan to cover the bottom. When heated, begin rolling meatballs and placing into the pan. I try to make mine walnut sized. Fill the pan and cover. Cook about 4 minutes, flip and cook another 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, spoon the meatballs out and into your hot sauce. Repeat with any remaining meat. Simmer in the crock pot with the sauce for at least 2 hours. This makes about 4 dozen walnut sized meatballs.

If you have any left, refrigerate and enjoy the next night as meatball subs. They are wonderful after they have really soaked in the sauce.

~Nicole

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Crockpot Spaghetti Sauce

Growing up, I remember my Mom making spaghetti sauce in the crockpot. It would cook for hours and the whole house would smell delicious. Nowadays, she doctors up some Prego and calls it a day. She's a busy woman with a house full of people to feed so I can't say that I blame her, but there is just no substitute from the real thing. This recipe is one that I have adapted to my liking over the years. It is usually just me standing over my crock pot throwing stuff in, tasting, adding more, etc. until I like it, but yesterday I scribbled it all down to be able to share.

Crockpot Spaghetti Sauce

2- 28 oz. cans of crushed tomatoes
1 large bell pepper - diced
1 large sweet onion - diced
8 oz. sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound browned ground chuck
3 tablespoons Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 cup sugar

Heat large frying pan over medium heat. Drizzle in olive oil and add all vegetables. Cook 8-10 minutes, until all vegetables are tender.
Meanwhile, add 2 cans crushed tomatoes to a cold crockpot. Stir in seasonings and sugar. When veggies are cooked, stir into the sauce and turn on the crockpot.
Brown ground beef and add to the sauce.
Cook on high for 1-3 hours, or low 4-6 hours.

TIPS:
-If you have time, cook on low to allow all the flavors to mingle and also your house will smell terrific.
-I have also tried Splenda in this sauce and it works just fine.
-I usually double this recipe. Before I am ready to cook that nights spaghetti, I scoop out half of the sauce and cool and freeze it for the next Italian night.


We use a whole wheat pasta with this. It makes us feel a little better about eating spaghetti in the first place and we can't taste a difference. If you have never tried whole wheat pasta before, give it a try. We like Ronzoni Healthy Harvest.

Tomorrow...meatballs!!!


~Nicole

Monday, April 6, 2009

Mom's Apple Crisp

We are supposed to have a light freeze for the next 2 nights, so I may have to break out some more of my soup recipes soon. I will never get used to Louisiana weather.

But, for tonight, I am making my family spaghetti and meatballs. I love to make a huge batch of sauce and freeze some for later. I will TRY to share my sauce recipe tomorrow. I never really measure the ingredients as I throw them into the crock pot, so I will work on that today.

I am also making an apple crisp using my Mom's recipe. I hope she doesn't mind that I am sharing it with you.


Mom's Apple Crisp

6-8 medium Granny Smith apples
1-2 cup water
1 teaspoon cinnamon
7 tablespoons margarine
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup flour

Butter casserole dish. Peel, core and slice apples. Place in casserole dish and pour water over them.
Work sugar, flour, margarine and cinnamon together with fingers to make a crumbly mixture. Spread over apples. Bake uncovered at 375 degrees for 50 minutes. Serve warm topped with vanilla ice cream. I also love to drizzle some caramel ice cream topping over the ice cream. Enjoy!!!


~Nicole



This post is being linked to:
Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays at Blessed With Grace
Kitchen Tip Tuesdays at Tammy's Recipes
Tasty Tuesdays at Forever...Wherever

Friday, March 27, 2009

Do you ever find yourself with an extra 4 dozen eggs in your fridge? No? Anyone? Well, I did. And, my fridge was seeming to be on the fritz, so yesterday was an Egg Bonanza around here.

For starters, I boiled 18 eggs. The plan was to make both egg salad and tuna salad (with eggs, of course) sandwiches for dinner and still have a few left over to use in salads the next day. I made the mistake of letting my husband help me make the tuna salad and there were no eggs left over. Don't get me wrong, I'm really glad he helped me. Usually the cooking is my thing, but he jumped right in last night, so who was I to turn down the help.

Then, I made Fudge Brownies. They are GREAT. Try them if you haven't already. And, they call for 4 eggs, so that is an added bonus.

Finally, I had already planned to make my husband one of his favorite desserts. But, since he helped me with dinner, he really deserved it.


Egg Custard Pie

3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups milk
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon butter
pinch of salt & nutmeg

Beat eggs. Add sugar and butter - cream well. Add other ingredients and beat. Pour into unbaked pie shell and bake 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Lower the temperature to 300 degrees and bake 25-35 minutes longer, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.


Now, I'm down to just over a dozen eggs. I am much more comfortable with that. If my fridge does go out, that is much less to be using all at once.

What do you do when you find yourself with extra eggs that need to be used quickly?


~Nicole

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Finally, A Diagnosis

I began to suspect something was not exactly on par with Nathan's development at about 2 and 1/2. Unfortunately, I listened to a family member who assured me that he would 'grow out of it.' We used all the excuses in the book. No, he doesn't talk, but that's because his sister talks for him. No, he's not delayed, his older sister was just really advanced. They told me that my husband was the same way when he was younger and he 'came around.' Looking back, I wish I would have followed my instincts, but hindsight is always 20/20 isn't it?

Hurricane Katrina came when Nathan was 2 and 1/2 and we ended up relocating to New Hampshire for awhile. That winter, Nathan had 5 ear infections. We all, including the doctor, chalked it up to the antibiotics not fully getting rid of it. They bumped him up to the strongest they could prescribe and it finally went away.

At his 3 year check up, I was determined not to 'wait and see' anymore when it came to my son. I asked the pediatrician about his development. I told her he wasn't talking and that I was concerned. He was also making strange fidgeting movements with his hands and wouldn't make much eye contact. He seemed to be more interested in the flashing lights and colors of the TV than in any person. He didn't drive toy cars, he lined them up and spinned the wheels. He lined everything up, in fact, and if you messed up the order, he would have a complete meltdown. This was about the time that it seemed like there was an explosion of autism diagnosis. It seemed everywhere you turned, the statistics were getting more and more grim. She told me about Early Intervention. She explained to me that someone would come to my home and place a poster board with pictures on it on our fridge and that Nathan would then be able to communicate with us by pointing to the pictures. I explained to her that he could already point to what he wanted, that wasn't the problem. We wanted him to SPEAK. Early Intervention just didn't work out.

We moved back to Louisiana and went back to our regular pediatrician. I brought my concerns to her at his 4 year check up. At that time, I had heard about the school board doing free speech screenings and they were in the process of evaluating him. I had also told them about my concerns about autism and they went ahead and gave him a full screening with OT, a nurse, a resource teacher, the speech therapist and the school psychologist. They were unable to give me a technical diagnosis, but they did recommend I bring their report to our doctor. Our pediatrician read over their report and agreed that we needed to look further into this. We were given a referral and put on a waiting list. We were told the waiting list was over a year. It just seemed like one roadblock after another at this point.

Luckily, this year Nathan got accepted into a private Head Start/Pre-K and they have given him all the resources he can get without the full diagnosis. He meets with OT once a week, Speech twice a week, Resource twice a week and he also receives Adaptive PE. They are the most amazing people. Nathan is a completely different child than he was when he started school. He speaks now, in full sentences, and he interacts with other children. He is so incredibly smart and now he is able to shine because now we can communicate with him.

We finally got an appointment for his evaluation on March 13th. It was an all day event but there was a sense of relief when it was over. I felt like we were making progress. The doctor called me on March 18th (only 5 days later!!!) and gave me her results over the phone.

I have known there was 'something' for over 2 years now, but hearing a doctor tell you that your child is autistic still feels like a kick in the stomach. I held it together for the hour I was on the phone with her, taking notes, asking questions, etc. But, when I hung up the phone, it was another story. I swore I wouldn't let the diagnosis devastate me, and it didn't, but I definitely shed some tears. It was a mixture of relief and 'what do I do now?' In one way, we had got the information we had been waiting so long for, but now we have to begin our new road. And, its a daunting one.

Nathan will turn 5 in the end of May. He will start Kindergarten next year. Now that we have this diagnosis, I can be sure the resources he receives will continue in the public school. We have seen such great improvements in him during this past year and look forward to the future and helping him in any way we can.

If you, or someone you know, has a child that has been recently diagnosed, I recommend going to Autism Speaks. I filled out their questionnaire and received my 100 Days Kit. It is full of great information. Every page I turn helps me understand what is going on more and more.

Tomorrow, I promise a more light-hearted, recipe filled post. Thanks for bearing with me!

~Nicole

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Creamy Blueberry Pie

This is a recipe my neighbor shared with me. It never lasts long in my house. The good news is that it makes 2 pies, so if you sneak one into the freezer before everyone discovers it, you might get to eat some yourself!

Creamy Blueberry Pie

2 cups blueberries - thaw and drain, if frozen
1 large tub of Cool Whip (FF, Lite or Regular all work well here)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
juice of half of a lemon
2 graham cracker pie crusts

Don't have any sweetened condensed milk on hand? Try this.

Mix together sweetened condensed milk, lemon juice and Cool Whip in a large bowl. Fold in blueberries. Split filling between the graham cracker crusts. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour to set. Enjoy!


~Nicole

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Lovely Weekend

A free weekend is hard to come by around here. Usually there is a ton of stuff to do and very little time to relax and enjoy family time. So, this weekend when we had nothing pressing to do, we made the most of it.

We had only one obligation: pick up our cow. Well, the beef anyway. We bought a cow from a local farmer and had to go and pick up the meat on Saturday morning. The pickup hours were between 7-10, so we still had plenty of day left for whatever else we wanted to do.

After bringing home the beef and unloading it, we took the kids out to lunch. They were very well behaved. During lunch, some friends of ours who we hadn't seen in a long time, called and invited us to dinner. They live in the country and have chickens, guinea hens, a cow and an adorable little dog. Of course, we said yes.

Before heading out to their house we stopped at a little antiques store that I had been wanting to check out. I went in looking for vintage Pyrex (which is a new obsession of mine) and found mountains of it. I left with 6 bowls and a lighter wallet, that's for sure.

The dinner was amazing. It was a beautiful day and they made a great fish fry. Thank you Bennetts. We had a great time.

Sunday, was a little more mellow. Ralph got up and mowed the yard and we had a barbecue with some of our new beef. It was great! We were happy about the purchase, even though it was a large one. The beef should last us over a year and it is good quality.

~Nicole

Friday, March 6, 2009

Cookies, Cookies, Everywhere

This is what happens to your laundry room when you are a Girl Scout leader and 'Cookie Time' rolls around.







I sure hope I don't need anything out of those freezers they are sitting on for a couple of weeks or so.


Want some???

~Nicole

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Blueberry Pound Cake

Due to the abundance of blueberries left in my freezer from last years pickings, I am gonna try to use some up today. I am going to make a delicious Blueberry Pie that my neighbor gave me the recipe for (will share tomorrow) and also a Blueberry Pound Cake.

Blueberry Pound Cake

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter, divided
2 1/4 cups sugar, divided
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups all purpose flour, divided
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups blueberries - well drained

Grease a 10 inch bread pan with 2 tablespoons butter. Sprinkle pan with 1/4 cup sugar and set aside. Cream remaining 1 cup butter gradually adding remaining 3 cups of sugar, beating well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla. Mix well.
Combine 2 3/4 cups flour, baking powder and salt. Gradually add to creamed mixture, beating well until blended. Dredge blueberries with remaining 1/4 cup of flour. Stir to coat well. Fold blueberries into batter. Pour into prepared pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

IMPORTANT: Cook cake in pan for AT LEAST 10 minutes before taking out so that the sugar has time to crystallize.

TIP: Dredging the blueberries with the flour before adding them to the batter keeps them from sinking to the bottom during baking.


~Nicole

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

An Explanation for My Long Absence

The past several weeks have been very crazy for my family.

As I had mentioned before, my Mother in Law had been living with us since Thanksgiving. She went into the hospital about a month ago and has been there ever since. Its just one thing after another and so I have been fighting with her insurance the entire time. That, in itself, turned into a full time job for me.

In addition to this, I have had doctors appointments, dental visits, Girl Scout meetings, Cookie Sale and all the paperwork that goes along with it, and now a potential business opportunity for my husband that have been taking up the remainder of my waking hours. Let's not even discuss the current state of my house. Let's just say I cringe whenever someone comes over.

But, my main focus has been trying to be an advocate for my son. I have not previously discussed this here, but my son, Nathan, is going to be screened/evaluated for Autism on March 12th. We have been on a waiting list for almost a year for this appointment and were not expected to be seen until the end of the summer. Apparently I bugged them enough by calling every other week to check on our wait, and they moved us up. (They called me with the appointment the very same day my Mother in Law's insurance went through. It was one of my happiest days EVER!) I will talk more about Nathan later, but just knowing that he is FINALLY going to be seen is such a relief.

For now, you should know that I have missed posting and will be back to blogging on a regular, every day basis with lots of yummy recipes, green living trials and frugal tips beginning TOMORROW!!!!!

Have a GREAT day!

~Nicole

Monday, March 2, 2009

Just for Fun

Ok, tomorrow came and went, huh?? I've been a bit busy lately, which I PROMISE to post about in the morning. In the meantime, I've been catching up with some of my favorite bloggers and Bethany had this fun little activity on her site, so I thought I would join in.

The Rules:

Copy the questions below. Simply use the first letter of your name/nickname as your answer for each questions. You can’t use any answer twice and don’t use your own name for questions # 3 & 4. After you’re done, tag 10 people.


1. What is your name? Nicole
2. A four letter word: Nice
3. A boy’s name : Nathan
4. A girl’s name : Natalie
5. An occupation : Nurse
6. A color : Navy
7. Something you wear : Neck Tie
8. A type of food : Noodles
9. Something found in the bathroom : Neosporin
10. A place : Nashville
11. A reason for being late : Nail in your tire
12. Something you shout : No
13. A movie title : Notebook
14. Something you drink : Nectar Soda
15. A musical group : No Doubt
16. A street name : New Hampshire St
17. A type of car : Nova
18. A song title: Never Again
19. A verb : nearing

I'm going to skip tagging 10 people though. I'm just going to leave this open- if anyone else wants to participate, feel free!


~Nicole

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

An Update

Good Morning!!!

I hope everyone is doing well. We have had a VERY busy couple of weeks here that has kept me away from blogging. We did enjoy a Family Superbowl party and had a great time. I have also been busy trying to get our Girl Scout troop organized and prepared for our annual cookie sale.

We spent a lot of time on the road, thanks in large part to our new mini van. The new van is the biggest reason I have been away. We did a lot of research before making a purchase, which I will be blogging about tomorrow. Plus, I will try to sneak in a recipe or two. So, please check back tomorrow.

Have a GREAT day!!!

~Nicole

Monday, January 26, 2009

Football Food

We love football. Well, maybe not the girls, but the other 3 of us do. We watch on a regular basis and ALWAYS watch the Super Bowl. Even on years when we don't really care who wins, like this year. This year, we are neither cheering for a team to win or for a team to lose. (Honestly, we only cheer for a team to lose when it is the Patriots - sorry, Kayla, just keeping it real) But, I digress.

We don't throw a big Super Bowl party - only because none of my Husband's friends watch football. But, if they did, I would go all out. I would make a football shaped cheese ball and some football player shaped sugar cookies. If they did watch football, and I did throw a party, here are some things I might cook up.



Stuffed Mushrooms

16 oz. ground sausage
8 oz. cream cheese
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 teaspoon cajun seasoning
1 teaspoon pepper
1 stalk green onion - chopped
parmesan cheese
1 large container mushrooms

Brown sausage and drain. Melt cream cheese in sausage. Add green onions and all seasonings. Mix well. Add bread crumbs to tighten mixture. Remove from heat. Wipe mushrooms with damp paper towel and remove stems. Fill with stuffing and top with cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes.



Spinach Artichoke Dip

20 oz. frozen spinach
1 stick butter
1 (14 oz) can artichoke hearts
6 oz. cream cheese
1/2 cup onion flakes
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon bread crumbs

Thaw and drain spinach - set aside. Melt butter in saucepan. Add the artichoke hearts, onion flakes and garlic. Saute 5-10 minutes. Add lemon juice, pepper and spinach. Heat thoroughly. Stir in cream cheese until melted. Pour into greased casserole dish. Top with parmesan cheese and bread crumbs. Bake at 325 degrees, or until browned on top.


And, who am I kidding? I'm totally going to make all these things anyway and have a Family Super Bowl party.


~Nicole






For more domestic bliss, be sure to visit Blissfully Domestic.






For more tummy temptations, check out Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays.



For more Kitchen Tips, please visit Tammy's Recipes.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Easy Pepper Steak

My Husband loves his Mom's pepper steak. So, I always just let her make it for him. That was until she started to become ill and I realized I'd better come up with something or he might not ever experience pepper steak again. This recipe is very simple and easily adapted to work in a crock pot and he likes it, he really likes it.

Easy Pepper Steak

1 round steak - tenderized
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup flour
1/3 cup vegetable oil
4 cloves of minced garlic
1 can diced tomatoes - undrained
1 medium onion - cut into strips
2 bell peppers - cut into strips

Cut steak into serving size pieces. (I try to make them into strips about the same size as the peppers and onions) Season with garlic, salt and pepper. Dust meat with flour.

In heavy skillet, over medium-high heat, brown meat in vegetable oil. Transfer to a dutch oven.

Combine garlic, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers and 1 can of water (use the empty tomato can to measure) and pour over steak. Bring to a bubble. Reduce heat and simmer until meat is tender, about an hour. Serve over rice.



TIP: If I have a busy day ahead of me, I will put the browned meat and the rest of the ingredients into my crock pot and cook on High for 3-4 hours, or Low for 6-7.



~Nicole

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Nathan, and his neverending love of Ice Age

Ok, yesterday I promised I would tell you about Nathan and his 'Ice Age' infatuation. If you have seen the movie, you will understand the scene I am speaking of.

In the beginning of the movie, the main characters, along with the baby, find a melon. Unfortunately, they come upon a group of Dodo birds. (a gaggle, a flock, i don't know, just a group) The Dodo birds are busy stocking up food for the ice age and take the melon. Thus begins and epic battle over said melon leading to the eventual distinction of the Dodos. Ok, that was a bit dramatic, but you get the picture. This is Nathan's favorite scene in the movie. And, Nathan discovered scene selection on the dvd remote, so it is also the ONLY scene he watches.

He marches around the living room with the Dodos chanting, 'Doom on you! Doom on you!'

He warns the characters, 'There's more Dodo birds behind you!!! Look out for the Dodo birds!'

He tells us how the characters are feeling. 'Look Mom, the baby is hungry.'

In fact, he can re-enact the entire scene, playing all parts, providing narration, and deleted scenes.

His sisters eventually give up, knowing they will not get to see the whole movie, and disperse to play elsewhere. But, not Nathan. He will watch that scene over and over and over again for hours. (Yesterday, for 3 hours, in fact.)

Thank you, 20th Century Fox.

~Nicole

Baked Catfish Parmesan

Note: You could use tilapia instead of catfish, if you'd like.


Baked Catfish Parmesan

6 catfish filets
1 cup bread crumbs
3/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon basil
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/3 cup melted butter/margarine

Rinse fish and pat dry. Mix all other ingredients, except butter. Dip catfish in butter and roll in crumb mixture. Place in a well greased 9x13 casserole. Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Not on her watch

Nathan loves the movie 'Ice Age.' Watching him watch the movie is more entertaining than almost anything I can think of. More on that tomorrow...

In a nutshell, he talks to the characters on the screen. Much like you or I might yell, 'The answer is C!!!!!' at the TV when 'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire' is on, he yells, 'Oh no!!! There's more Dodo birds behind you' when they are fighting over the melon. (If you have small children and haven't seen this movie, please rent it. It is adorable.)

Anyway, during today's airing of the movie, Nate was once again warning the characters about the Dodo birds. Lauren, hearing him yell Dodo bird while she was passing, thought that he was referring to her. What 3 year old would let that slide? Not her. She promptly marched back into the living room, hand on hip, ponytail cocked over to one side of her head from her nap and asked, 'HEY! Why you call me a Dodo bird? My name is Lauren and I'm watching TV.'

Gotta love a girl who stands up for herself!

~Nicole

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk

I don't usually have condensed milk on hand as I rarely ever use it. But, every now and then, I will come across a recipe that calls for it. In a pinch, here's a recipe for homemade condensed milk. I always have the ingredients needed available.



Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk

1 cup powdered milk
2/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons melted butter
1/3 cup boiling water


In a bowl, put milk, sugar and melted butter. Add boiling water and mix well with a mixer. Use as you would canned condensed milk. This recipe equals one can.


~Nicole





For more kitchen tips, be sure to check out Tammy's Recipes.




Monday, January 19, 2009

Let's Talk Biscuits

Growing up, in the North East, we were more likely to find a dinner roll on our plate. But here in the South, its all about the biscuits.

Here are two copycat recipes of restaurant biscuits that I hope you enjoy.



Popeye's Biscuits

2 cups biscuit mix (Bisquick)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup Sprite OR club soda
1/2 stick melted butter/margarine

Mix together the first 3 ingredients. Roll out dough and cut biscuits. Pour half of the melted butter/margarine into bottom of the pan. Place biscuits on top and pour the rest of the butter over them. Bake at 400 degrees until brown.

TIP: If you don't have a biscuit cutter or round cookie cutter, you can dip the top of a glass cup into flour and use that for cutting your biscuits.




Red Lobster Style Cheese Biscuits

2 cups biscuit mix (Bisquick)
2/3 cup water
1/2 cup melted butter/margarine
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup shredded cheddar

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Combine biscuit mix, milk and cheese. Stir until a soft dough forms. Beat, by hand, vigorously for 30 seconds. Drop dough by spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown.







For more domestic bliss, be sure to visit Blissfully Domestic.




Check out Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Lauren is 3!!!!!



It rained on Lauren's Birthday. Her party was originally supposed to be at 2 that day. The rain had held off all morning until about 1 and then it started pouring. Raining buckets. Cats and dogs, even. This might have been ok, except that we were barbecuing. And we use charcoal. So, lighting up the grill under the car port was OUT of the question.





We called my Sister in Law and told her not to come until about 5. Luckily, the rain stopped at about 3:45 and the sun came out. It was really beautiful that afternoon.




The only pictures I got were taken outside. What do you think the kids are doing in the pictures?














splashing in the puddles, of course...













The girls started first







but Nate was quick to jump in too






Lauren stayed out there so long her toes got wrinkly and pruney








And, in a Birthday miracle, they all got along.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Madison's Book

Madison decided the other day that she wants to write a book. I think, so far, that she has written exactly one paragraph. Tonight, she fell asleep on the couch while she was writing.

The title of this book? 'The Girl Who Couldn't Sleep.'

Oh, the irony...

Getting Older

The other day, I told my Husband that I felt like I was getting old. (I'm only 27, but I was feeling particularly worn out that day.)

Today, I took the test on Real Age and found out that I am 30.4 years old.

Tonight, I received an email inviting me to join AARP.

I think I will just call it a day.

Chicken Chili - 3 ways

I'm trying to get my husband to eat boneless/skinless chicken breasts instead of the greasy, fried, skin-on dark meat chicken that he loves. I try to explain how they are healthier, but he counters that it is like chewing on Styrofoam with no flavor. So, I try to find recipes that add lots of flavor to the chicken without adding a lot of extra calories and fat, thus negating the health benefits completely. I found a recipe for chicken chili in our local paper and, with some tweaking, came up with something that he loves.

Chicken Chili

4 boneless/skinless chicken breast halves
1 medium onion - chopped
1 medium bell pepper - chopped
2 cloves garlic - minced
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 (14 1/2) oz. cans diced tomatoes -undrained (Mexican flavor, if you can find them)
15 oz. can pinto beans - drained
2/3 cup picante sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups Minute Rice - brown or white
shredded cheddar cheese
sour cream sliced green onions

Cut chicken into 1 inch cubes. Cook onion, bell pepper, chicken and garlic in hot oil over medium high heat until chicken is browned. Add tomatoes, beans, picante sauce and spices - bring to a bubble. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in 2 cups of Minute Rice. Re-cover and remove from heat. Let stand for 5-10 minutes and stir to fluff the rice. To serve, top with shredded cheese, sour cream and green onions.


Leftovers of this freeze very well and can be re-heated for a quick lunch.




VARIATION #1:
Cut recipe in half and at the end of the cooking time, stir in cubed Velveeta to make a chicken chili dip. Serve with tortilla chips and sour cream.


VARIATION #2:
Make original recipe as written above and serve in warmed flour tortillas as chicken chili burritos. This is how we eat them most often.

Typical Nate and Lauren

Yesterday, while we were on our way to pick up Madison from school, Nathan and Lauren had a cute little altercation.

The kids who walk home are dismissed before the bus/car riders and always go running down the street past the line of parents who are waiting to pick up their children.

Nate, 'Those kids are funny, Mom.'
Lauren, 'No, they're not.' (always the little antagonist)
Nate, (said very angrily) 'Take me a break, Lauren.'

After laughing for a good couple of minutes, I explained the expression is supposed to be 'Give me a break.'

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Business as Usual

The other day my lovely Sister pointed out to me that it had been a while since my last post. Aside from our local internet issues, my computer crashed. My wonderful Sister in Law came and reloaded it for me, but unfortunately, it only lasted 2 days before crashing again. So, she gave us a tower that she wasn't using and it is working GREAT. Now, I can get back to daily posting. I really have missed it and I do have a lot to share.

But, I also have a LOT of cleaning to do. Today I am going to take care of that and tomorrow will be blogging business as usual.

Here's what you have to look forward to if you come back tomorrow:

-->Pictures from Lauren's 3rd birthday party
-->Chicken Chili 3 ways

and coming soon:

-->We're going green - read all about our trials and tribulations
-->Product reviews of earth/family friendly products


Now, I'm going to eat my yogurt and get to cleaning. Does anyone know what 'sell by 03 MSA 47-190' means?

Have a GREAT day!!!!

~Nicole

Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy Friday!!

Isn't it funny how when you're a kid school vacation seems to fly by, but when you're the parent, it seems like eternity has passed. Madison and Nathan go back to school on Monday and my routine will be back to near normal.

My Mother in Law is still living with us. There has been no discussion on when she will go home, but I hope that one day she will. I am trying to be patient and have a cheerful heart about taking care of her, but I am finding it increasingly difficult. If you pray, please send out an extra one for me.

Lauren will turn 3 tomorrow and we have a small party planned for her in the afternoon. I keep asking her what she wants for her birthday, because I still have to pick up a few presents, and she tells me, 'I don't want to go to my birfday.' When I ask her why, she says, 'I don't wanna be 3.' I laugh, but I don't really want her to be 3 either. They grow up much too fast. Madison and I were looking at her baby pictures the other day and it seems like it was just yesterday.

I will definitely be posting some pictures of the Little Peanut tomorrow.

~Nicole

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Nana's Chocolate Chip Cookies

Happy New Year!!!!!

It was my intention to share this recipe with you several days ago, but for some reason the phone company has been working on our internet lines and they have been up and down for a few days now...mostly down. This is not only aggravating to me, but also to my 4 year old whose favorite joy in life is to play on PBSKids.org. There is no explaining to that boy that the computer isn't working right now without a COMPLETE meltdown.

Anyway, this recipe is the one I used to make all of the cookies for the Habitat volunteers. In fact, this is the only recipe I ever use to make chocolate chip cookies. I think this recipe may be one of the main reasons my husband asked me to marry him. Ok, that may be a stretch, but he sure does love these cookies. After work...warm...with milk. Yummy!

Nana's Chocolate Chip Cookies

2/3 cup shortening
2/3 cup margarine
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
12 oz. chocolate chips

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Mix thoroughly shortening, margarine, sugars, eggs and vanilla. Blend in baking soda, salt and 1 cup flour. Blend in the remaining 2 cups of flour, one at a time.

Drop by rounded teaspoonfulls 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 8-10 minutes until light brown. Cool slightly before removing from pan.



Tips!

1) My Mom always stores them in an airtight container with a slice of bread to keep them moist. I like to keep the dough in my fridge and bake up only about a dozen at a time, so there are never any left to store. This way I can TRY and regulate how much sugar my children are eating at one time.

2) Refrigerate the dough after mixing it up for at least 30 minutes and roll the dough into teaspoon sized balls and place on the cookie sheets - this keep them from spreading out too thin and becoming crunchy. We like chewy cookies in my house.

3) My Mom says you can add an extra 1/2 cup flour for an even softer cookie. I have never needed the extra 1/2 cup and I don't know if it has anything to do with our geographic differences or not (she is in New England, I am in the Deep South) but keep that in mind, in case you need it.