Monday, May 27, 2013

Week 76: School is OUT!

School is OUT for the summer!  I'm so excited to be able to let my kids sleep in!  I'm amazed at how quickly they adjust to this whole 'sleeping in' thing!  We've gone from waking up around 6:15am to sleeping until 8am or later (for my oldest as least).  I love the quiet time in the morning when everyone is sleeping.  Hey, maybe I can actually start blogging again with this wonderful time?

Well, I am looking forward to this summer!  I am in the process of having a screened in porch finally put on the back of my house, so this is a fantastic start to our summer!  It's so much nicer to have a protected place from the mosquitos during a Georgia summer.  We used to have a screened in porch, but knocked it down a few years ago because it was structurally unsound.  This one is going to be awesome!

Here's a picture of my husband and his dad hard after the first day of work on the porch! Tomorrow we get a roof!  It's off to a great start!

Week 76 Menu

Sunday - Salmon with mixed roasted veggies
Monday - Thai basil shrimp, cabbage, red peppers, white rice
Tuesday - Sirloin pork roast with roasted carrots, potatoes, and sweet potatoes
Wednesday - Spaghetti with meatballs, zucchini noodles, angel hair
Thursday - Mahi Mahi, rice, black beans, mango salsa
Friday - Out to dinner?
Saturday - Grilled chicken, baked sweet potatoes, green beans

Happy cooking to you all and don't forget to honor our Veteran's this Memorial Day!  We are so grateful for the sacrifice that all of you make to keep our country safe!


Monday, April 15, 2013

Week 75: Time to Blog!

Hey there friends!  It's been tough to get anything written lately, but I really need to get some menu planning done for the next few weeks, so I'm on a mission to get back to blogging!  This month, I've planned lots of swimming lessons for all three of my kids, so that means we'll be making a 30-minute drive after school three nights a week and that doesn't leave me much time for 'real' cooking over the next two weeks.  I'm hoping to find some good crock pot recipes. . . I'd love to hear your ideas!

I made some biscuits a few days ago for a meeting at church (and I honestly made them to try some of this awesome jam we received from a recent wedding we attended).  The bride made jam for all of the 150 guests!  She is a total rock star in my book and it is delicious!  She made a few different flavors, but we took home pear/apple with cardamom and also mixed berry with port!  That's the pear/apple in the photo above and I'm totally addicted.  I will have to try my hand at jam making. . .

So, now for the menu this week:

Week 75 Menu

Sunday - Spaghetti with meat sauce, green peas
Monday - Ginger chicken soup, spinach salad
Tuesday - Roasted marinated salmon (from Costco) with mixed veggies
Wednesday - Chicken tacos in the slow cooker, black beans, zucchini, rice (FYI - I also use a whole chicken for this recipe if it's all I have)
Thursday - Braised short ribs, roasted potatoes & sweet potatoes (I've got to use these things soon, so I hope I can get to them this week)
Friday - Leftovers
Saturday - Out to dinner (or breakfast for dinner?)

I hope you all have a great week and as always, I'd love to see what you weekly menu looks like!

Take care,

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Week 74

I'm finding that I still love to cook and bake, but I stink at taking pictures of the process.  I so wish that I had a buddy to just hang out and take photos all of the time so that I could easily post recipes every week!  However, I do not have a 'buddy' that just hangs at my house, ready to try all new recipes and creations at any minute because all of my friends are moms like me.  Our lives generally require quick, immediate responses rather than calm, patient planning.  All that to say, that I'm still cooking, but forgetting to take pictures almost every time.  Working on this. . .

This is Annabelle modeling their dessert creation: strawberries, coconut whipped cream and chocolate sauce!  

Also, I've turned on verification if you want to post your menus because I've been getting lots of spam, so you'll just have to prove you are a 'human' by entering the secret code when you post!  I would be so very happy to see some of your weekly menus!

Week 74 Menu

Sunday - Leftovers (What a great way to start this week!)
Monday - Shredded chicken tacos, white rice, black beans
Tuesday - Roasted marinated salmon (from Costco) with mixed veggies
Wednesday - Chicken Teriyaki stir fry, broccoli, red peppers, carrots and white rice (I made this teriyaki sauce and just add it to my stir fry and dinner's done.  It lasts for a few weeks in the fridge!)
Thursday - Spaghetti with ground beef, zucchini pasta, whole wheat pasta (for kiddos), green beans
Friday - Out to dinner
Saturday - Shrimp something. . .

I would love to see what you all are cooking!  Post your menus!!!  :)


Thursday, February 7, 2013

Coconut Milk Whipped Cream

For those of you who cannot tolerate milk products (or just enjoy the taste of coconut), you have to try this stuff!  Coconut whipped cream is made from canned (full-fat) coconut milk, sugar and whatever other flavorings you prefer!  I've never been able to get this stuff as thick and creamy as milk-based whipped cream, but I promise you that it tastes amazing and you won't miss a thing!

There's quite a few different ways to whip up this stuff online.  I found the initial recipe at a blog called, but there are a bunch of sites that I researched before trying it out on my own.

Coconut Milk Whipped Cream

1 can of full-fat coconut milk (Thai Kitchen regular or organic works really well)
3 tbls to 1/4 cup of powdered sugar (you have to judge this on your own, but I prefer 1/4 cup)
1 tsp vanilla extract (or any kind of extract)

When using the coconut milk, do not shake the can before opening.  You want the fat to remain separated from that milk in the can.  So, open the can and use a spoon to gently take out the solid fat coconut and leave the thin milk in the can.  If a little bit makes it in with your solid stuff, that's fine.

Next, add your desired amount of sugar.  Remember that you should start small because you can always add more, but can't really take it away later.  You can also use other sources of sugar for this recipe.  You could use maple syrup, honey, granulated sugar and probably even sugar-substitutes.

The last step is to add the extract.  For this step, you could use any extract you like.  I really enjoy 1 tsp of vanilla and 1/2 tsp of almond extract.

Yield: 1 cup of whipped cream

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Week 73: Rest?

I was thrilled  to attend a women's retreat this past weekend with a ton of other moms at Winshape Retreat in Rome, GA!  It's such a beautiful place nestled up in the foothills of Northern Georgia!  They make amazing food and the rooms are really peaceful!  It was a great weekend away, but I was very happy to return to my sweet family!

Chicken Ginger Soup

A few weeks ago we started our Paleo challenge, but I've been sick and that's really putting a damper on my ability to work out.  I got a double ear infection and it's giving me a feeling of vertigo when I over-exert myself.  I just went back to the doctor and I'm now on a second round of antibiotics and I'll be going to an allergist soon to see what is going on with me.

Week 73 Menu

Sunday - Chicken ginger soup
Monday - Leftovers
Tuesday - Rotisserie chicken, roasted cauliflower, green beans
Wednesday - Tomato basil soup, mixed green salad with leftover rotisserie chicken
Thursday - Pan seared salmon, mango salsa, broccoli
Friday - Ground beef tacos, black beans, seared zucchini
Saturday - Out to dinner

I would love to see what you all are cooking!  Post your menus!!!  :)


Sunday, January 27, 2013

Chocolate Trifle

Last month I was asked to make one of my favorite desserts for a friend's birthday party, so I attempted to really focus on taking lots of pictures of the whole process of making this amazing trifle.  This recipe can be as easy or as difficult as you want it to be.  I'll share with you the 'cheat method' and the 'from scratch' method!  Both are delicious!

Chocolate Trifle (adapted from Paula Deen's Chocolate Toffee Trifle)

1 box chocolate cake mix or one batch Mocha Chocolate Cake
1/2 cup dulce de leche, heated (or, mix 1/4 cup carmel topping with 1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk)
2 cups fudge sauce (jarred or recipe follows), warmed
2 cups heavy cream whipped and sweetened with 1/2 cup powdered sugar and 1 tsp. vanilla (you can substitute this with store bought cool whip, but there's nothing better than homemade whipped cream and it really is easy to make)
1/2 - 1 cup mini chocolate chips

Prepare the cake according to package instructions or follow the link to the recipe for Mocha Chocolate Cake for a 9 x 12-inch pan.  Allow the cake to rest for 5 minutes.  While cake is resting, heat the dulce de leche mixture on the stove or in the microwave.  You want the mixture to be smooth and runny, so it usually take about 5 minutes on the stove.

Now, using a fork or straw, poke holes throughout the cake, but be careful not to puncture all the way to the bottom of the pan.  After poking your holes, pour the dulce de leche mixture evenly all over the cake and watch it get absorbed by the chocolate!  Allow the cake to cool completely on the counter and then cover with saran wrap and cool in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

Cake after the dulce de leche has cooled on the top.  You can barely see the holes in the cake.
Next, remove the cake from the refrigerator and slice it into 1 inch thick pieces (I think mine are bigger than this, then I cut them smaller at the end).  Remember, this is a dump cake, you can't mess it up and it always makes a great impression!  You will need a trifle bowl or large bowl to assemble this cake.  Now you have all of your ingredients: cooled cake cut into small pieces, heated fudge sauce and whipped cream.  The layers begin as follows: cake pieces to fill in bottom layer, 1/4 of fudge sauce, 1/3 of the whipped cream.  Continue that pattern until you run out of items or you reach the top of the trifle bowl.  Sprinkle chocolate chips on top for a beautiful presentation.  Sometimes I have leftovers so I make a mini one in a regular bowl for me and my helpers to share. . .  ;)

These are all of the ingredients ready to be assembled. 

This is the homemade whipped cream.  It's so easy to make!  Seriously.  
Hot Fudge Sauce (this stuff is crazy addictive)

1 4-oz bar bittersweet chocolate (I use any dark chocolate for this)
1/2 oz unsweetened chocolate (baking bars)
8 tbls butter (1 stick)
3 cups powdered sugar
1 2/3 cup evaporated milk (basically one small can)
1 1/4 tsp vanilla

Melt the chocolate and the butter over low heat in a medium saucepan.  Turn the heat up to medium once melted.  Stir in the powdered sugar, alternating with the evaporated milk and mixing well after each addition.  Stirring constantly, bring the mixture to a simmer.  Continue cooking for 8 minutes while simmering, then remove from heat and add vanilla.  

Note: This fudge sauce is a labor or love.  It takes a long time for me to make it and I usually bump up the temperature just to a 6 on my stove just to get things moving.  So, if you're new to baking, I might just buy the fudge sauce from the store.  I promise it will still be 'to die for.'  

You see how it sticks to the spoon when the fudge sauce is done?  That's the consistency you want. It also thickens a bit upon cooling.
Yield: 10-12 servings

Week 72: Sleepovers. . .

As a parent, I must admit that I have a love/hate relationship with sleepovers.  I love them in the beginning when the kids are happily eating, playing and watching movies together.  However, the next afternoon is always challenging as they get older.  My 6-year-old, Emilie, still feels like it's SO late when she goes to bed at 9:30pm-10pm.  I enjoy sleepovers at her age.  Now, my 9-year-old stays up really late now and it makes the next day torture.  Girls are so sensitive, so she cries at the smallest annoyance or inconvenience and she's just so overtired that she can't seem to take a nap.  So, today is a sleepy day and basically a family snuggle day in order to recover from their sleepovers last night.  Praying for a very early bedtime for everyone tonight!

Here's Emilie and my sweet little niece, Josephine!  
I've been having some issues at the gym over the last week or so with dizziness and nausa, so I finally went to the doctor last week to discover the crazy stuff going on with me is the result of a double ear infection and sinus infection.  I don't think I've had an ear infection since elementary school, so I'm amazed at how much it really has messed with my equilibrium.  Bending down to get the laundry or put dishes away makes my head throb and it feels like the world is spinning.  So, I'm on antibiotics and taking a respite from the gym until I feel better doing daily chores.  The timing sucks because we were supposed to start our CrossFit challenge last week, but I couldn't complete the 'starting' workout, so I won't be able to participate in the challenge.  Maybe next year?

So, back to meal planning. . . How's the going for all of you?  It's been a struggle in my house and so has baking since we are limiting our sugar intake.  Poor me, right?

Here's the weekly menu:

Week 72 Menu

Tuesday - Leftovers
Wednesday - Roasted salmon with normandy vegetables
Thursday - Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic, roasted veggies
Friday - Grilled chicken legs, roasted sweet potatoes, broccoli
Saturday - Out to dinner

Well, have a great week everyone!