Monday, December 30, 2013

Simple Shepherd's Pie

I've been trying to come up with a clever name for my Shepherd's Pie, but I'm drawing a blank... I am currently suffering from a holiday induced brain cloud.  I've also been trying for months to get an appetizing picture of it... That's never gonna happen for two reasons:  1. We usually devour it before I remember to take said picture, and 2: Even if I do remember, it's just not the prettiest food.  In fact, it's quite possibly the ugliest food on the planet.  Once, I made this for dinner on St. Patty's Day & used green mashed potatoes. Don't ever do that.  It wasn't gross tasting, just psychologically scarring.  It looked so nasty. So yeah... Even though my Shepherd's Pie lacks a clever name, and a drool inducing picture, I feel I must share the recipe with you anyway... it's just too good to keep to myself any longer :)  Just remember that it tastes better than it looks.  Waaaaaay better.

Simple Shepherd's Pie

1 lb lean ground beef
1 Tbsp dried minced onion
Salt & pepper to taste
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1 14.5 oz can corn drained (or french cut green beans)
4-5 cups instant mashed potatoes (prepared as directed)
Shredded cheddar cheese (As much as you like.  'Round these parts that means TONS)

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray 9x13 casserole dish with cooking spray.  In a large frying pan, cook lean ground beef, dried minced onion, salt, and pepper until meat is browned.  Drain.  Return to pan & add tomato sauce.  Simmer for 5 minutes.  Layer the ingredients in the casserole dish in this order:  Meat, corn, mashed potatoes, shredded cheddar cheese.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  Serve with Rhodes rolls if you're as lazy (or busy) as I am most days.

Like the completely boring and not at all clever name of this recipe suggests, this is a really simple dinner... I think that's why it's such a big hit around here.  It's one of our favorite Sunday meals because it's so yummy & so easy to make.  I'm thinking since we start early church this Sunday, I'll make the pie the night before... That way I can take a nap while it's cooking!!  I'm going to be sooooooo tired.  I've been sleeping in till 10:30 every morning this entire Christmas break.  Hence the brain cloud.  I hope you enjoy this recipe... let me know what you think!  Happy Holidays!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Go Ahead, Play With Your Food!

I've suddenly found myself with a tiny bit of spare time on my hands... what?!  Weird.  So today I've decided to take a minute & share some of my favorite Bento Box creations from the last few months with you! It's been almost two years since I discovered this fun little trend, and I still love it!!  That's saying A LOT for my usually short attention span!!  My Bento Boxes are really simple... I don't use sticky rice & sushi, or cut designs out of seaweed... they're just cute, and my two littles request them everyday :)  Feel free to follow my Bento board on Pinterest, and please don't hesitate to message me with questions! Now go ahead, play with your food!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Twinner Winner Baked Mac & Cheese

Heaven help my waistline, it's comfort food season.  There's nothing like coming home on a cold day to the smell of soup simmering on the stove, or a casserole baking in the oven.  Don't even get me started on homemade bread!  I'm putting on pounds just thinking about it.

To my prideful delight there has been over the last few days a huge surge of re-pins for my Easy Peasy Chicken Noodle Soup on Pinterest... It makes my heart happy that random people all over the world are making MY soup for dinner.  So I've felt a sudden urge (even though I'm ridiculously busy) to appease the mass demand for comfort food recipes that is currently trending on the nom-nom boards.

Without further ado, I now bestow upon you, my loyal friends & Pinterest followers: Twinner Winner Baked Mac & Cheese. THE best baked mac & cheese recipe, EVER.  Named after my twinner winners Spencer and Erik because they swoon & get cartoon hearts in their eyes every time I make it, and I always have to double the recipe 'cause they eat so much.  
Double the recipe. Twins. Get it? Food humor. 

You just drooled on your keyboard.

Twinner Winner Baked Mac & Cheese 
(Original recipe from my friend, Sariah Fuller...Thank you dear, my twins are forever in your debt)

1 1/2 cups elbow macaroni
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
2-3 cups shredded cheddar cheese (who am I kidding, I always use 3)
2 cups crushed corn flakes
2 tablespoons melted butter

Cook elbow macaroni until just done (don't let it get too soft!!). Rinse. Combine soup, sour cream, milk & cheese. Add the cooked macaroni.  Spoon evenly into a square casserole dish coated with cooking spray. Top with crushed cornflakes coated in melted butter.  Bake for 35 minutes at 350. If you double the recipe, increase baking time to 50 minutes.

My Twinner Winners Erik & Spencer... Oh how I love these two!!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Putting Myself & My 10K Playlist Out There. Yikes.

It's no secret that I love to run... the secret is that lately I prefer to run on my treadmill in the basement while watching Doctor Who.  Ok, that's not really a secret either.  The Doctor Who part.

I used to run outdoors all the time, but after I had my 5th baby, I preferred cave running for numerous reasons.  First, I didn't have the energy to wake up at 5:00 in the morning.  Second, I began having crippling self esteem issues about my body. Running in front of people?  No thanks.  Being in front of people period?  Ugggh.  I did a half marathon in July 2011, and that was my last outdoor run until just a few weeks ago.  

When I was an outdoor runner, I would put together fantastic playlists for my iPod to get me through the hour run... warm up songs, fast/upbeat songs in the middle, motivational "you can do this" songs at the end.  Sometimes it was all just random songs that I loved at the time.  They were a big part of my training, and I loved searching for the perfect songs to keep me going!  

Back in April, I took a huge step towards repairing my self esteem issues... I had full abdominoplasty surgery.  It's a bloggie post for another day, but for my purposes here: The recovery was (and still is sometimes) the WORST pain I've ever experienced in my life. No joke.  Soooooo glad I did it, unbelievably glad, but DANG.  A couple weeks into recovery I signed up for the Provo Freedom Festival 10K... being high on pain meds may have had something to do with that decision.  

I'd been running with The Doctor in the basement for too long, so I had to put together a new playlist for the race.  I think it's one of my best yet.  I'm happy to report that I ran the 10K on the Fourth of July, and for the first time in my history of running this race, I didn't die at mile five!  Cloud cover, my playlist, and sheer determination not to let this bugger of a course get the best of me again, all combined to help me run the entire race without stopping.  I'm pretty dang proud of myself given what I've been through the last three months. 

Most of you aren't surprised about my surgery... I either told you about it,  or you've heard me daydreaming about it since my twinners stretched out my tummy beyond hope eleven years ago.  I really don't look all that different...  Most of you probably haven't even noticed. That's ok, because I did it for myself and no one else!  You may or may not approve of plastic surgery, but for me it was simply a case of having my doctor put the finishing touch on what I've worked years & years for with good diet and exercise. Again, despite the pain, I'm so unbelievably glad I did it.

So here's my super fantabulous 10K playlist for 2013... I'm honestly more worried about everyone judging my taste in music than I am about the whole tummy tuck thing, so absolutely no snickering! It's VERY random as you will soon discover... and yes, it's quite long.  I never said I was a fast runner ;)

2013 Provo Freedom Festival 10k Playlist

Sunrise - Simply Red (Always the first song on my playlists. Every time.)
Count on Me - Bruno Mars
Tragedy - Bee Gees
Gone, Gone, Gone - Phillip Phillips
Peponi - Alex Boye & The Piano Guys
Radioactive - Imagine Dragons
Defying Gravity - Wicked Original Broadway Cast
One Thing - One Direction (I told you, no snickering!)
There is a Light That Never Goes Out - The Smiths
Tonight Tonight - Hot Chelle Rae
Doctor Who Theme - Murray Gold (Daleks!!!  Run!!!)
Feel This Moment - Pitbull/Christina Aguilera 
Inside Out - The Mighty Lemon Drops
Michael Meets Mozart - The Piano Guys
Modern Love - David Bowie
What Makes You Beautiful - One Direction (Stop it!)
Home - Phillip Phillips
Don't Stop the Party - Pitbull/TJR
Try to Believe - Oingo Boingo
Without You - The Piano Guys
Then She Appeared - XTC (Finished the race on this song ironically)
I Won't Back Down - Tom Petty (Was supposed to finish on this song)
Island in the Sun - Weezer (Best cool down song ever.)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Tuesday Tea Parties

Once upon a time there was a little girl.  She was a girly girl... she loved dolls, dress-up, painted nails, and pink, pink, pink! One of the little girl's favorite things in the whole wide world was tea sets... she loved to collect & play with them!  The little girl dreamed & dreamed of the day when she would have a little girl of her own to share the tea sets with.

Years passed, and the little girl grew up.  She got married & became a little Mommy!  To FOUR boys!  The optimistic little Mommy started day-dreaming instead of the day she would have little granddaughters to share the tea sets with. 

Then a miracle occurred!  The little Mommy found out that she was going to have another baby...  "Surely it will be boy!" she thought to herself.  But the little Mommy was wrong!  The baby was a girl!  Can you imagine her joy??!  A perfectly perfect girly girl that she could have tea parties with!  The little Mommy bought two more tea sets before her baby girl could even walk!

Now the little Mommy and her little girl have tea parties every Tuesday, and they enjoy every little minute.  Sometimes they even let the big brothers join in, but only if they remember the pinky out rule ;)

When in doubt, pinky out!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Andrew Stew

I'm getting Spring fever, so this will be my last soup recipe till Fall... Lucky for you I saved the best for last!  This is hands down my favorite soup. Ever. This is also Andrew's favorite.  We named it "Andrew Stew" after he ate 3 bowls the first time I ever made it.  He was 5 years old at the time... I'm gonna have to triple the recipe when he's a teenager.  Next to Cafe Rio, this is Andrew's most requested meal.  I hope you'll try it before it gets too warm outside... if you don't, a little part of Andrew's soul will die.  You don't want that on your conscience, do you?

I always double this one... don't worry if it looks like too much, the next day reheat is AMAZING.  Oh, and don't be a wuss with the red pepper... 1/4 teaspoon is perfect!  Yes it's spicy, but my 3 year old eats it without complaining... trust me & don't leave it out :)

Andrew wants you to make this soup.

Andrew Stew (adapted from this recipe)

4 cups chicken broth
5 cups peeled cubed potatoes
2 cooked/shredded chicken breasts
2 cups frozen corn
1/4 cup minced onion
1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt (I use Johnny's)
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
8 oz cream cheese cubed

Combine broth, potatoes, chicken, corn, onion & spices.  Boil on medium heat until potatoes are tender.  Add cream cheese.  Heat, stirring frequently, until cream cheese melts.  Serve with homemade bread.

Yes, there's a lazy version... this is me we're talking about!  Throw everything (including uncooked chicken breasts... frozen work great!) except cream cheese in the crockpot… cook all day on low.  Last hour of cooking, shred chicken, add softened cream cheese, and heat through.  I use this cheat when I know I've got a busy day... works like a charm!  Just make sure you use a large crock pot if you're doubling it!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Taco Soup aka: Monkey Brains

Hey there!  I don't have time for a really clever blog post today (boldly assuming you find my blog posts really clever).  My house is buried in dust from a weekend of remodeling, and I've gotta clean it... but I do have time to share a quick soup recipe with ya!  This is my quickest, easiest soup recipe.  It's from my good friend Karen Haskell, and yes, it's in the amazing ward cookbook that I've mentioned numerous times... the best cookbook in the world, the one you wish you had, the one that I will probably wind up selling on ebay for thousands of dollars.  That cookbook.

Taco Soup

15 oz can petite diced tomatoes
15 oz can pinto beans
15 oz can kidney beans
15 oz can corn
8 oz can tomato sauce
1 taco seasoning packet
1 cup water
1/2 pound ground beef cooked/drained or 2 chicken breasts cooked/cubed (we prefer chicken)

Combine all ingredients in a crockpot (do NOT drain liquid from cans!) Cook for 4-6 hours on low.  Just recently I got REALLY lazy & threw in two frozen chicken breasts at the beginning... it worked BEAUTIFULLY!!!  I just removed the chicken right before serving, shredded it up & threw it back in.  I will be doing this EVERY time from now on!  Top each serving with sour cream, cheese, and crushed tortilla chips. Serve with cornbread muffins. 

It doesn't get easier than this, and it's super yummy!  We have it on Halloween every year & call it monkey brains.  If that doesn't convince you to try it, I don't know what will.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Cheesy Broccoli Soup & Rolls

Did I promise to post soup recipes once in a while on Mondays?  Looks like once in a while means once a month ;)  In my defense: I was wretchedly ill for most of December.  I was also crazy busy getting everything ready for another awesome year of Primary!  I'm all better now (no longer "sickie" as Mel calls it) and Primary yesterday?  Well, it was awesome!  Mission accomplished!

So, funny story about our cheesy broccoli soup.  It's my teenage Trev's favorite.  It's his requested birthday dinner every year. One year he almost didn't get it.  A huge snowstorm hit our valley.  HUGE.  It was Trev's birthday that day... I had just picked him up from school when the storm started going from bad to worse.  It would've been a good idea just to come home & stay home at that point, but Trev was turning 8, and he didn't want to miss his first day of Cub Scouts.  He was also at this time in his little life TERRIFIED of storms, but he insisted on going.  In one of my less than brilliant parenting moments, I drove through white-out conditions to the church.  Couldn't  see a foot in front of the car... I kept thinking to myself, "This is ridiculous... I should just go back home."  Well... we made it to the church, barely getting into the parking lot because the snow was so deep.  I walked him through the blizzard to the front doors & handed him off to his den leader.  "See you in an hour buddy!"

Nope.  Try three hours :(  When scouts was over, both of the den leader's minivans got stuck in the afore mentioned snowy parking lot.  Really stuck.  They herded all the boys back into the church, and had to wait hours to get rescued!  Finally a couple Dads from the neighborhood were able to get their trucks over to the church.  They picked up the boys one by one & carried them to the trucks (so heroic!).  They drove them home & again carried each boy to their front doors.  I admit to crying when they "delivered" my poor little birthday boy!  Here's where the soup comes in:  Trevor walked through the door, smelled the soup & rolls, smiled, and didn't utter one word of complaint about his harrowing ordeal :)  I'll never forget that day.  By the time Trev finally got home, the wind had stopped, and the snow was falling in huge flakes to the ground. It was a beautiful night, and we were warm inside. 

This amazing recipe is from my friend Kristin Barlow... I've tweaked it a little for my fam & for my lazy self.  What?  I like shortcuts!  Kristin's original recipe in is the ward cookbook.  You know, the best cookbook in the world?  The one you wish you had?  I'd be willing to lend mine to you, or make copies if you so desire.  Holler.

Cheesy Broccoli Soup

1/4 cup butter or margarine (melted)
2 Tbsp dried minced onion
2/3 cup flour
3 (14.5 oz) cans chicken broth
3/4 tsp salt
4-5 cups peeled cubed potatoes
1 (16 oz) bag frozen chopped broccoli
1 lb Velveeta cheese (cubed)
2 cups half & half

Melt butter completely in microwave.  Transfer to a large crock pot.  Add onions, flour & salt.  Stir together until combined.  It will be a little crumbly, that's ok... it all dissolves.  Toss potatoes & broccoli in the pot, and pour chicken broth over everything. Cook all day (6-8 hours on low or 3-4 hours on high).  One hour before serving add the chopped Velveeta.  Stir until it's completely melted, then add the half & half.  Serve with homemade rolls.  Or Trevor will have a fit.  These rolls to be precise:

Dinner Rolls For Bread Machine
1 egg slightly beaten + enough warm water to make 1 1/2 Cups
1/4 Cup oil
1/2 Cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 1/4 Cups flour
3 1/2 teaspoons yeast

Add all ingredients to bread machine and choose dough cycle. When cycle is finished, shape dough into balls, and place on a cookie sheet lined with kitchen parchment.  Let rise until double.  Bake at 350° for 11 minutes.  This recipe is our family favorite!!  Makes about 2 dozen rolls.