Food Meme – Just For Fun

I feel like I did this meme about a year or so ago on my old blog, and since I cannot seem to find the post anywhere (and I refuse to visit the old site), I figure I will just post a brand new one here. Plus, I’m sure some of my answers have changed anyway. If you do (or did) this meme, please leave your link in the comments so I can come read your answers. :) You can also just answer this in the comments if you wish.

1. What’s your #1 comfort food?
It’s probably a toss-up between coffee which I tend to drink a lot or chocolate which I tend to crave a lot.
2. If you were on a deserted island, what one food would you want to have with you? I would want a fishing pole – I know it’s not food, but I would catch my food and eat it.
3. What is/are your signature dishes? (What dishes are you ‘known’ for?)Every time we have a family gathering or dinner party of some kind, someone asks me to bring my Hash Brown casserole. I also get compliments on my deviled eggs – I almost never make them the same way twice either. But they are a huge hit and I hardly ever have leftovers. Most of my friends and neighbors know my Texas Sheet Cake which is made a little differently than the hundreds of recipes you see all the time. I’m asked for these three things ALL the time.
4. It’s Friday night, you don’t know what to cook. You opt for… Usually something easy – spaghetti or chicken and rice. We sometimes order in pizza, but we are cutting back on that.
5. What’s your biggest weakness when it comes to food? Baked goods.  Meaning anything in the bakery department. Period. I love them all. I do everything I can to eat very little of them. They are packing on the pounds. haha
6. What food can you absolutely not eat? Brussels Sprouts. The thought of them makes me gag. I’ve tried them every single possible way and I just can’t do it.
7. You need a drink. You grab a…Diet Coke or Iced Tea. Depends though, I also drink a lot of water – so depending on how much I have had that day, it might be ice water.
8. What’s the most decadent dish you’ve had?My mother took me out for lunch one year on my birthday. I ordered the Lobster Ravioli and it was honestly the most heavenly dish I have ever eaten. I could eat that everyday for the rest of my life. (I’m sure I’d also put on 100lbs too!)
9. What’s your favorite type of food? Well, my answer used to be Italian. But lately I am more drawn to Chinese food.
10. Favorite dish?It says dish, so I can’t pick Texas Sheet Cake which is a dessert. I’ll have to go with a beef and rice dish I make.
11. If your partner could take you to any restaurant you wanted, which one would it be? The one that has the Lobster Ravioli. Except I think it went out of business. *gasp*
12. Are you a soup or salad person? Soup all the way!
13. Buffet, take-out or sit-down restaurant?Buffet. Especially with my big family. I have a broad appetite and will eat many different things – my kids are much pickier – actually so is the hubby.
14. What’s the most impressive dinner you’ve ever made? Thanksgiving dinner about four years ago. No particular reason except it was my first time doing it for a crowd (besides my family) and I made so much food. It was awesome and I got a lot of compliments.
15. Do you consider yourself a good cook? I do.
16. Do you know what vichyssoise is?I do. Yes I will eat it. Completely fattening!
17. Who’s your favorite TV cook? I absolutely adore Jamie Oliver. He is my hero and we think the same way. I also like Rocco DiSpirito but rarely see him around these days.
18. Can you name at least three TV cooking personalities? Rachel Ray, Jamie Oliver (The Naked Chef) and Paula Deen.
19. Homemade or homemade from a box? Always homemade. From Scratch. The old-fashioned way.
20. Name 3 or more other foodies you are going to tag. Not tagging anyone because this has been around awhile. But please, if you do it – let me know!

Sweet 16 Cheap Party Ideas

It has only been a little over a month since I celebrated my son’s 16th birthday and today we are celebrating my step-daughter’s 16th birthday. It is such a bittersweet day, because gone are the days of dress-up and playing house, Barbie and Dolls, replaced now with music and cd’s, hair and make-up, cool clothes and shoes, hanging out at the mall or a movie with friends. I love seeing her grow into herself, into the young woman she is turning into, but I can’t help but be a little wistful for the playful, innocence of ‘yesterday’. In honor of her 16th birthday I am doing a week of posts on cheap 16th birthday party ideas. Not every Sweet 16 has to be $1000’s of dollars like the media would like you to believe.

Here are a few ideas to get you started, but be sure to check back all week for some creative themed 16th party ideas.

  • make your own invitations and envelopes
  • make your own decorations, depending on your theme you can probably find a lot of stuff at the dollar store.
  • Either make your own cake, or have a plain cake made at the bakery and decorate it yourself. See this picture? You can do something really similar for under $30 or more elaborate for around $50-75. This cake is roughly about $150.
  • Plan age appropriate games that center around the theme of the party.
  • Host the party somewhere inexpensive. If you are excepting a lot of people, look into renting out a church basement or community center – your cheapest options. If you aren’t having a lot of people, consider hosting it at someones house, backyard, the park or somewhere else outside.
  • Have a slumber party instead of a daytime party. Have the party goers arrive around 8pm (after dinner) and provide homemade snacks, cake and ice cream, beverages and then you can do a cheap breakfast like donuts, or pancakes. (make your pancakes from scratch to save some money). Play games (board games or Wii), play hide and seek in the dark in your yard, you’d be amazed at the fun this age group can have.
  • Don’t go overboard on matching plates, napkins, etc. Just use your own dishes and pop them in the dishwasher to get them clean. Or buy a bulk package of paper plates to keep clean up to a minimum.

Do you have any cheap ideas for 16th birthday parties? Please share with us.

Happy 16th Birthday Vanessa! I hope it’s as special as you are. We love you!

Cheesy Pork Chops Recipe

I avoid pork products as much as possible since they are so bad for you. Our bodies do not digest pork easily. However, my children and husband love it, so sometimes I cave and this is one of their favorites.

Cheesy Pork Chops
Serves: 6

6 Pork chops
Butter to fry in
1/4 cup Flour
3/4 cup milk
Salt
8 ounces Package of cream cheese — cubed
Paprika
1/2 tablespoon Garlic salt
Pepper
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Coat the chops with the seasoned flour, and brown in margarine or butter. Heat milk and add cream cheese, garlic salt and 1/4 C Parmesan cheese, mixing well until blended. Place chops in baking dish ( 12×8). Cover with sauce, and 1/4 Parmesan cheese, bake at 325, 50 minutes, or until chops are tender.

Lemon Pepper Deviled Eggs

Are you as nuts over deviled eggs as I am? My family is so crazy for deviled eggs that we make them just because all the time. We serve them with dinner, as a snack and sometimes I even enjoy them for breakfast. Hey, they’re eggs. Right?

It’s time for another fantastic deviled egg recipe this week and this one is a little bit unique. No, that’s  not true – it’s a lot unique.

This deviled egg is so full of great lemony pepper flavor and is perfect for an Easter brunch. Or if you’re like us, just because.

All of these recipes have been tried by my family and are only posted if they are delicious! Just so there is no mistake, alongside the recipes for deviled eggs this week will also be the normal Daily Recipe which usually goes up at 6am OR the normal daily article which usually shows up around noon. These are CST.

Lemon Pepper Deviled Eggs
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 6 hard-boiled eggs
  • 2½ Tbs. prepared mayonnaise
  • juice of a half a lemon
  • ⅛ tsp. lemon zest, minced
  • ½ tsp. lemon pepper
  • lemon pepper for garnish
Instructions
  1. Slice eggs in half lengthwise.
  2. Remove the yolks into a small bowl.
  3. Mash the yolks with a fork until they are crumbly.
  4. Add the mayo, lemon juice, lemon zest and a ½ teaspoon of lemon pepper, and combine well.
  5. Spoon filling into egg halves.
  6. Chill and Serve.

 

 

 

Do you love Deviled Eggs?

Find more deviled egg recipes:

Twisted Deviled Eggs

Olive Deviled Eggs

Curry Deviled Eggs

Asparagus Deviled Eggs

Lemon Pepper Deviled Eggs

Chocolate Cake Balls Recipe

Not only are these a favorite with my kids, I love them too. Yummy! Plus, they are SO easy to make.

Chocolate Cake Balls Recipe

You will need:
1 package of chocolate cake mix
1 container of chocolate frosting
1 (3 oz) bar of chocolate flavored confectioners coating

Using any type or shape of pan that you would like, prepare the cake mix by following the package directions. When the cake has finished cooking, crumble it while it is still warm into a bowl. Stir in the frosting until it is well blended. Now, melt the chocolate coating into a microwave safe bowl, stirring occasionally until it is smooth. (sometimes I do this on the stove top.)

Use a melon baller if you have one, otherwise a small scoop will do. Using the melon baller, scoop up the chocolate cake mixture to form balls.

You can now place a toothpick into each one to make this easier. Dip the balls into the chocolate coating using a fork or a toothpick. Place on a piece of waxed paper and allow to set. It shouldn’t take too long for the chocolate to set. You can eat them as soon as they are ready.

They are SOOOOOO good.

Meal Planning 101

Meal planning is such a simple thing, it is hard for me to understand why more people don’t do it. It really does not only help you save money, but it saves time and there is less of a chance of wasted food when you plan out your meals in advance. So what are the basics of meal planning?

1. Begin by finding recipes of the meals that you think your family will love. Try introducing one new meal a week, it allows for more choices when preparing meals and allows your family to be exposed to foods that might not have otherwise tried. Collect the recipes you plan to make and keep them in once location. Having a recipe journal or notebook is a good idea. You can write out the recipes and then there are all in one place. If you are planning to freezer cook, be sure that you keep in mind what aspects of the meal can be prepared and frozen ahead of time. This will also be important for figuring out how many recipes you need to find. If you are meal planning for just a week, then seven recipes are all you need, if you are planning for two weeks, three weeks or more, you might wish to find at least ten more recipes so that you aren’t consistantly eating the same thing.

2. Take inventory. Check and see what ingredients you have for those meals. You might have a pantry full of ingredients that would make several meals. As you are taking inventory be sure and record what you have and what you need on a piece of paper. You will never remember it all alter.

3. Create a shopping list. If you are familiar with your grocery store layout you can create the list in order of where you would find the items in the grocery store. If you are not as familiar with your grocery store, you might wish to make that be one of your goals. In addition, if you do your shopping at more than one store, you might wish to create more than one list so that you can be sure you get everything.

4. Go shopping. Bring all grocery lists with you in case you find a bargain somewhere you didn’t know about. Cross off the items as you get them. This way you can clearly see what you still need to purchase. Be sure to bring along any coupons and stick to your list.

5a. For Freezer Cookers: When you arrive home, leave everything out so it is all available to you as you begin to cook. You might wish to sort the items by the meal you plan to use them to make. Having everything handy is the key to managing your time.

5b. For Meal Planners Only: If you are not interested in freezer cooking, and only want to be able to meal plan, then at this point it is time to put the groceries away. It is recommended that you place items you plan to use together, near each other. This makes finding everything the night you plan to make the meals much easier and frees up time that would have been spent running all over the kitchen looking for this and that.

Do you have any basic meal planning tips that might help? Please feel free to share.

5 Obscure Grocery Shopping Tips to Save Money

Sometimes I am surprised at how many people shop the way they do. There are so many quick and easy ways to save money at the grocery store. I’m happy to tell you some of the easiest ways, or the most well-known ways, and I will … eventually. For now, I thought it might be important to help you save money in ways you might not know yet.

1. Always watch the cashier. Watch as items scan. If you do decide to use self-checkout at a grocery store, watch your purchases carefully. Be sure you are correctly entering in quantities, fruit or vegetable items, etc. When watching the cashier, watch for double charging, price differences and make sure that anything that was on sale was rung up correctly.

2. Check your receipt on the way out the door. Actually if you are following #1 you might not need to, but just to be sure, check it out.

3. When planning out your meals for the week, utitlize sales at the grocery store to create meals. For instance, if ground beef is on sale for .99/lb, it should be easy to realize that now would be a good time to make meals that needed it. Watch in store sales, flyers, and other methods.

4. If you do find a good deal on something, stock up. Purchase a separate freezer to freeze anything or make room in a special area to store non perishable stock. We once found a deal on .79/lb ground turkey. We bought probably $40.00 worth because we substitute ground turkey for ground beef most of the time. We used it all, and another sale (not as good) came not too long after we ran out.

5. Avoid end displays or end caps on an aisle. Most people think that is where the sales are. Not always. In fact, often you could get a better deal at a different time, or you could go purchase a different size and get a better deal. End displays lure people into spending more because they think they need it.

I will have more tips coming really soon.

Cheesy Cheese Chicken Casserole Recipe

My daughter took a family and consumer science class and received a recipe book at the end of the year. This recipe sounded good, and she was dying to try her hand at something other than mac and cheese (and quite frankly if a kid wants to cook and I can skip one meal, I’m okay with that!). This turned out SO good and it was so super easy to make with a little parental help. (oh and FYI she involved ALL of the other four kids and gave them each a task – it was cool to have the whole family prepare a meal together and everyone loved it!) (Oh and I prepared the whole chicken a day in advance and removed the chicken from the bone for her so she was ready to go but you could do it just before)

Cheesy Cheese Chicken Casserole

1 large whole chicken, boiled or baked
3 c. chicken broth
1 pkg. egg noodles
1 large block Velveeta cheese, cut into small pieces
2 cans cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup
1 c. bread crumbs (we wound up using home-made seasoned croutons instead and it turned out AWESOME!)

In a large pot, put the chicken broth. Place the egg noodles into the broth and boil as directed on package. If you didn’t do it before, remove the chicken from the bone and chop. DO NOT DRAIN the noodles. Add the chicken, small pieces of cheese and cream of mushroom or chicken soup to the noodles and broth and stir. Pour all of it carefully into a 9X13 inch casserole dish. Top with bread crumbs (or croutons) and cover the top with aluminum foil. (might need some parental help because the dish is hot from the ingredients at this point). Place the entire dish into the oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes at 350 degrees. While her casserole was cooking, she prepared a salad and buttered some bread that we popped into the oven after we finished cooking the casserole. The whole meal was so good and I’m always okay with those kid-friendly recipes!

Lost My Mind

I get MANY comments referencing the fact that I have five kids. On Twitter, on Facebook, on my Blog, at the store, at the school and it just keeps happening. I am NOT a saint. I’m just the mom of five. Three of which I obtained through marriage, but am quite proud to call them my kids. This is really not the point of this post, though.

So with five kids, many wonder how I find time to write, get out, hang with friends, clean my house, and do lots of other things that weird people actually ask about. At any rate, while I do find time management to be somewhat of a problem for me, I spend loads of time with my family and love every second of it. I have to make time for the rest of my life.

So with already a jam packed house that seems to be bursting at the seems with seven people, within the last five years we added four dogs (Shih-tzus), a cat, mice and a tank full of fish. About a week ago, a family friend of ours (teenage boy) found himself looking for a home for his dog. The dog is a Boston Terrier – six months old, so .. rather a puppy. And what do I do? I offer to give it a home. Honestly, my intentions were good. The kids in a bad spot right now. The family is staying with someone to help that family out and that family (one member) is being a pain about the dog and made them get rid of it. So I said I’d keep it until they found a place to live that would accept it. This appeased the teenager, but the dad made it sound a little more permanent when I spoke to him. I’m not sure what’s going on at this point, BUT we have a new puppy. His name is Louie. This seems to fit him for some reason. I have no experience with Boston’s except that I have always found them cute. It’s day five and I’m not sure if we are doing well or not.

  • He follows me everywhere. Okay for now, but will this stop? I would really like to pee in peace again. It would be nice not to have a dog that does not need to accompany me up and down the stairs, in and out of the garage, up and down the halls, in and out of the kitchen, the bedroom…. and maybe, just maybe there will come a day where I can actually take a shower without little beady eyes staring at me through the curtain or lapping up water out of the bathtub or off my leg as I step out of the shower.
  • He snores. Alot. Like –  All.The.Time. Loudly. It’s cute, but there is no way I’m sleeping next to that. He sleeps with the kids!
  • He randomly whines. Sometimes while he is just sitting there. Sometimes he wakes up doing it. I don’t know what’s wrong. He usually comes and attacks my face with kisses at that point. Which brings me to the next point.
  • He is the sweetest thing in the world, but gives so many kisses you can’t breathe. He will literally attack your face with his tongue. And omg, make sure you breathe through your nose and not your mouth, because as soon as you open it… yeah. I feel like I need a bath 80 times a day and I love that he is so sweet but man that’s a lot of kissing. I don’t even kiss my husband that much!
  • Either he doesn’t know his name is Louie or he’s the most stubborn dog I have ever owned. He has the attention span of a flea and doesn’t respond about 50% of the time that you say Louie unless you say it in your sweetest, most preschool-esk sounding voice.
  • He sleeps behind me on the couch. Yes, behind me. If I sit up for even a second, he crawls behind me and tries to get comfy and then lays down and sleeps. He very obviously does not care about my comfort. Possibly not even his either. I like my pillow better.

With all that said, we do adore him. He has only been here a week, and I’ve seen loads of improvement since day one, so I’m giving it time. Thankfully I have loads of patience and he’s a total sweetheart. :)

Easy Homemade Mashed Potato Recipe

Easy Homemade Mashed Potato RecipeI spent years looking for the perfect recipe for home-made mashed potatoes. We simply love potatoes at our house, and it doesn’t matter how they are served. I just wanted an easy recipe for them, that wouldn’t take a load of time, but would taste like it had. So here ya go….

Our Favorite Easy Homemade Mashed Potato Recipe

5 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes, cubed (really the type of potato doesn’t matter too much but we have found these really are the best)
6 oz. of cream cheese
8 oz. of sour cream
1/2 c. milk
2 tsp. garlic salt
pepper, to taste

Place the potatoes in a large pot of water. You can add salt to lightly season the potatoes as they cook. Just drop a few pinches into the water. Bring the potatoes to a boil and cook until they are tender (about 15-20 minutes or so). Drain them and then mash them. In bowl, mix the mashed potatoes, the sour cream, the cream cheese, the milk, the garlic salt and the pepper. Mix thoroughly. Pour into a greased casserole dish. Cover (tinfoil works GREAT!), and bake for 50 minutes at 325 degrees F. You can also prepare these ahead of time, and just put the bowl or even the casserole dish into the fridge and cook them the next day. So delicious!