Everyday Mom's Meals: January 2014

Friday, January 31, 2014

Fan Request #2

So, back at the beginning of the month I asked all of you what you wanted to see me blog the most of this year. Wednesday I revealed the #1 answer to be casseroles. And coming in a very close second was without a doubt, Crock Pot meals. Great choices!!

I'm telling you what, I have the smartest fans in the world, because no joke, when I posed that question, a little voice inside my head said "I hope they pick either casseroles or slow cooker stuff." Why? Simple. It's what I like to cook. And I find my most popular recipes are the ones I truly look forward to cooking because I know if they are enjoyed in my kitchen, and are a hit with me and my family, then they are sure to please the rest of you! So, you kind of read my mind!!

This recipe is actually something I "learned" to make back during my waitressing days. One of the most popular dishes we served was Sirloin Tips and Gravy. Everyone went crazy for it, but especially the over 55 crowd. I'm sure it reminded them of Sunday suppers gone by. Well, of course we didn't have a slow cooker in the restaurant, and I can't even tell you for sure how they were made (After all, I was busy serving the food. It was someone else's job to cook it.) But I knew what was in the dish, for the most part, and I knew how my grandma used to prepare her slow cooked beef dishes, so I just combined parts of both, and this is what I came up with.

Now, I know many of you are going to say you like the Crock Pot meals that require no prep work. The ones that can be thrown together in the morning and by supper time, you're work is done. Me too. But I'm going to be honest with you. I've learned through trial and error, most beef dishes are going to turn out better if you take the time to brown them on the stove top first. This goes for slow cooking in the oven too. Any time I make a beef roast, it doesn't go in the oven without sitting in the skillet first. It totally changes the texture, tenderness and flavor of the meat. It locks in all the juices and results in fork tender beef. So, take the extra time and the extra 15 minutes in the morning, and I promise you won't be sorry!

I'm so happy to have a foodie goal in 2014 that is not only going to be fun for me to achieve, but is something my readers have flat out asked for. Your wish is my command, and you'll be seeing many more of what you requested in the coming weeks and months. I promise!

Crock Pot Steak Tips n Gravy
2 lb. beef sirloin, cut into 1 inch cubes, and patted dry
1 1/2 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp. onion powder
1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
3 TBS vegetable oil
1 (10 3/4 oz.) can cream of mushroom soup
1 (15 oz.) can beef broth
1 envelope onion soup mix
1 c. water
1 beef bouillon cube
1 TBS Worcestershire sauce
Salt and Pepper to taste
Dried Parsley for garnish

In a large bowl combine flour, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Dredge sirloin pieces lightly in flour mixture. In a large skillet heat oil over medium-high heat. Brown beef in batches, until browned on all sides. Remove to a paper towel lined plate. When all beef is browned, add to Crock Pot. In a small bowl combine soup, onion soup mix, beef broth and Worcestershire. Mix well. Pour over beef. Add water, bouillon cube, salt and pepper to taste. Stir well. Cook on LOW 6-8 hours until gravy has thickened a bit and beef is cooked through. Serve over cooked egg noodles, rice or mashed potatoes. Garnish with parsley if desired.

Shared on The Country Cook Jan. 31, 2014

Beef at Very Good Recipes

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Fan Request #1

Back at the beginning of the year, I posed a question on my Facebook page. I simply asked what kind of recipes ya'll want to see more of on EMM in 2014. Hands down, the most popular answer was casseroles. (Be sure to come back on Wednesday to see what the #2 response was.) So many of you said you wanted me to come up with even more family friendly, budget friendly, and time friendly casseroles to put on your table.

I can't blame you. I have said it a hundred times, but it is worth repeating. Casseroles are a busy mom's (and dad's) best friend. A one dish meal that feeds everyone, on a budget, and is simple to prepare after a long day. And I have to admit, when I first started blogging (Can you believe it's been almost 4 years ago now?) whenever I would mention casseroles they really wouldn't get much love. But I have noticed over the past couple years they really have been making a comeback if you will. I remember growing up, casseroles were the go-to for every mom I knew, but somewhere along the way, people started to shy away from them. So, I'm happy to see them being brought back into the kitchen, and updated for today's family

If you love chicken enchiladas, you're going to be so excited for this recipe. Especially if you've made my green chile version before. I basically took 90% of the ingredients and turned them into a layered casserole. All the great flavors of the original dish, without the time consuming filling and rolling. In fact, if you make the chicken ahead of time, you can have this on the table in about 30 minutes. But I guarantee your family will think you slaved away all day with the depth of flavor this has, and how absolutely delicious it is.

Besides my family, my fans are the #1 reason I do what I do. So, if you want to see more casseroles blogged this year, I'm happy to oblige. And coming up next I have a recipe for the other category you asked for more of. Believe me, you don't want to miss that one either!

Chicken and Green Chile Enchilada Casserole
1 (1.5 lb) package chicken tenders
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
8 large flour tortillas 
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
2 (4 oz.) cans green chilies, drained
1 (7 oz.) can green enchilada sauce
8 oz. fiesta blend cheese
2 green onions, chopped on a bias, for garnish
Sour cream for garnish

Preheat oven to 400. Place chicken tenders on baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Roast 25-30 minutes until juices run clear and cooked through. Allow to cool 5 minutes and shred. Reduce heat to 375. Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray. Lay 2 tortillas in bottom, overlapping. In a large bowl combine chicken, cream cheese, chilies, and 3 TBS enchilada sauce. Mix well to combine. Spoon some of the chicken mixture over tortillas. Sprinkle with a little cheese. Drizzle with a little enchilada sauce. Repeat layers, ending with topping with rest of cheese. Bake for 30-45 minutes until bubbly and cheese is melted. Cut into individual portions and garnish with green onions and sour cream.

Shared on The Country Cook


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

31 Days of Dark Chocolate Dreams {A Review & Giveaway}

Do you love peanut butter? Do you love trying new flavors of peanut butter? Do you love making yummy snacks for your kids to enjoy after school or maybe packed in their lunch? If you answered "Yes" to any of those, then boy have I got a treat for you!

My good friends over at Peanut Butter & Co. are so excited to announce the release of a new cookbook, 31 Days of Dark Chocolate Dreams, featuring  a month's worth of recipes using their Dark Chocolate Dreams all natural peanut butter, written by Founder and President, Lee Zalben.

This cookbook is page after page of delicious treats, the one only more exciting than the last. Containing recipes for everything from breakfast to snacks, to desserts and candy...it has a little something for everyone.

When I received my advanced copy and started flipping through the pages, I only made it to #15 before I found the first thing I wanted to try. Reading the description of "These bears are a marriage of differences-sweet and salty, chewy and crispy, and smooth and crunchy" had my mouth watering! I love all of those combinations, and in one tasty snack I could make for my son, how exciting!

These would be perfect for after school, packed lunches, or an on-the-go treat. Heck, throw a couple in your gym bag for a pick me up after a long workout. However or whenever you make them, they are sure to please everyone in your house young to old.

Now, here is the greatest part! The kind folks at Peanut Butter & Co. also want to send one lucky EMM reader a copy 31 Days of Dark Chocolate Dreams and a jar to play around with in your kitchen too. Just keep reading after the recipe for all the details and follow the instructions to enter!

Dark Chocolate Dreams Trail Mix Bars
1 c. firmly packed brown sugar
2/3 c. Dark Chocolate Dreams peanut butter
1 large egg
5 TBS unsalted butter, melted
1 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
2 1/4 c. rolled oats
3/4 c. roasted peanuts
3/4 c. chopped pretzels

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with nonstick spray. In a large bowl, whisk together brown sugar, peanut butter, egg and butter until smooth and creamy. Whisk in flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt until well combined. Fold in oats, peanuts and pretzels. Turn out into baking dish. Cover the mixture with plastic wrap and press down, packing the bars into the dish and removing air pockets. Discard plastic wrap and bake for 20 minutes, just until they begin to turn a slightly darker color. Let cool 2 hours before cutting. Store in airtight container for up to 10 days.

Disclaimer: I received (1) cookbook and (1) sample for this review. Plus an additional set to giveaway. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Dinner Time with Home Run Inn Pizza #HomeRunINN AD

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of the Home Run Inn pizza.
We have all been there before. You come home after a long day. You are dog tired, and absolutely dreading the one question you are going to be bombarded with the minute your feet hit the front door. "What's for dinner?" Ugh! Your family is starving. They are all looking to you, and all you want to do is crawl into your pajamas and not think about cooking. 

Well, now you can have the answer with something convenient, but still made with all-natural ingredients, leading to an easy, quick and enjoyable family meal. The solution? Home Run Inn Pizza.

Available at your local Kroger, Meijer and Marsh stores, Home Run Inn Pizza is all natural, made with real cheese, and no preservatives. 

Now in their 4th generation, the Home Run Inn tradition all started by in 1923 when Mary and Vincent Grittani named their tavern Home Run Inn after a winning run from a neighborhood baseball game shattered the front window of the newly purchased building. In 1947, their son-in-law and Mary developed the recipe for Home Run Inn Pizza, as it is known today. 

Today Home Run Inn continues as a family owned and operated business staying true to that original recipe, and using only the best quality of ingredients. They take great pride in what they do, and it can be seen and tasted with every single bite! 

When compared to other frozen pizzas out there, and even delivered ones too, Home Run Inn is consistently rated #1 according to Consumer Reports. Plus, it is hands-down Chicago's #1 selling frozen pizza brand. And we all know Chi-town knows it's pizza!

How nice would it be to come home after a long day and know dinner is waiting for you in the freezer, can be ready in almost no time, your family will love it, and you will love knowing you've given them something tasty that you can also feel good about? Pretty much sounds like every wife/mother's dream to me!

Fast food that doesn't taste like it, or make you regret it later on! A delicious pizza supper made in the convenience of your own kitchen that gives you plenty of time leftover to enjoy the rest of your evening!

Have you tried Home Run Inn Pizza before? If so, what is your favorite kind? If not, be sure to look for it in your freezer section today!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of the Home Run Inn pizza.
Tracking Pixel

Monday, January 27, 2014

So Glad I Saved It

I am so excited to share today's recipe with you. And I really think you're going to be just as happy after you read it. And even happier when you eventually try it, because I'm telling you, it's out of this world! Seriously, this is probably one of the best pasta dishes I've ever made. Oh, and did I mention you get to use your Crock Pot too? If I didn't have your attention before, I do now! But first, let me back up a little...

Over a year ago a friend was telling me about this amazing spaghetti she had the recipe for. It reminded her of a restaurant quality dish, easily made at home, and in the slow cooker none the less. Well, I was instantly intrigued. There was only one problem. At this time, I still had my old Crock Pot. The one I had gotten right after we were married, at a garage sale for $.25! It was the green, upright kind your mom probably used to have. And while it worked perfectly find, and I could make tons of dishes in it, when my friend told me about this, I was kind of doubtful it would turn out the same as it would cooked in the newer oval style. I'm not saying it wouldn't have, but I was just skeptical enough not to try it. So, she jotted down the recipe and I put it in the back of my recipe box, where is stayed until just recently.

See, only about 3 months after this conversation, Christmas 2013, I got a brand new Crock Pot, in the new updated oval style! I was so excited, and happy to retire my old one to the Goodwill so someone else could get some use out of it. Well, that was now over a year ago, and I am just now making this recipe! Why? Because that's what happens when you put something in the back of your recipe box and totally forget about it.

Boy oh boy was I thrilled when I stumbled upon it; and after making it our stomachs were even happier. This spaghetti is so creamy, cooked to perfection (As long as you read the note below!) and is full of delicious flavors. Now, I know when some of you read it, you're going to ask me, "Why so much sauce?" The answer is easy, as the noodles cook, they absorb it, soaking in all its goodness. Instead of boiling in water, soaking it up, it is essentially doing the same thing in all that sauce, resulting in an absolutely amazing meal.

If you haven't went back through some of your old recipes lately, you should! Especially if you are like me and have ones on little pieces of scrap paper, shoved to the back of a recipe box, that you haven't thought about in months, or even years. Sometimes, they are the ones that will lead to the yummiest results.

Crock Pot Creamy Spaghetti
1 lb. spaghetti noodles, broke in half
1 lb. ground beef
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
4 oz. cream cheese
3 (24 oz.) jars traditional spaghetti sauce
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese
1 c. chicken broth
Salt and Pepper to taste
Dried Parsley for garnish

Preheat Crock Pot to HIGH. In a large skillet brown beef. Season with garlic powder, onion powder, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. When beef is no longer pink, drain if necessary. In bottom of Crock Pot, pour 1 jar of sauce. Lay spaghetti noodles on top of sauce. Add beef and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. With fingers, break up cream cheese over meat. Pour 1 jar sauce over top. Cook on HIGH for 2.5-3 hours. Stir. Add chicken broth and last jar of sauce. It will be very thick. If you like a thinner consistency, add more chicken broth. If pasta isn't tender, cook 1 additional hour. Stir well before serving. Garnish with parsley if desired. *NOTE* My pasta was perfectly cooked after 2.5 hours. I turned the heat down to Keep Warm until serving. If it dries out, you can always add more broth and stir.

Shared on The Country Cook Jan. 31, 2014

Supper Made Easy with Dollar General

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Dollar General for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Do you live near a Dollar General Store? If so, you are so incredibly lucky. Like me, you have the chance to shop their wide selection of products, including those we use in our every day lives, saving money with each one. And dinner time is no exception to this rule! Did you know they have many of the staples you use in your kitchen, in their Clover Valley product line, that are much cheaper than national brands, and just as tasty? Not to mention, even if an ingredient isn't available in the Clover Valley line, they more than likely still have it, and at a lower price than other supermarkets and grocery stores.

If you don't think you can make a delicious, easy meal from ingredients you find on Dollar Genera's shelves, this recipe will change your mind! Oh, and did I mention it's a Crock Pot recipe too? Yeah, we can always use another one of those!

This is actually a recipe a friend shared with me over a year ago, and it's perfect for a busy day when there is just too much going on to worry about dinner. A little prep work, and this one basically makes itself! 

To break it down for you, this recipe requires six main ingredients. (I'm not counting those most already have in their pantry like salt, pepper and other seasonings.) I was able to purchase 4 out of the 6 at my neighborhood Dollar General, most of them in the Clover Valley product line! Plus, it was very easy on my budget. I walked out of the store with money in my wallet!

Do I have you totally intrigued now? Well then, let's get to the food!

Crock Pot Creamy Spaghetti
Prep Time: 15 minutes. Cook Time: 4 hours Total Time: 4 hours 15 minutes
4-6 Servings 
1 lb. Clover Valley spaghetti noodles, broke in half
3 (24 oz.) jars Clover Valley traditional  spaghetti sauce
1 lb. ground beef
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
4 oz. cream cheese
1/2 c. Clover Valley Parmesan cheese
1 c. Clover Valley chicken broth
Salt and Pepper to taste
Dried Parsley for garnish

Preheat Crock Pot on HIGH. In a large skillet over medium heat, brown beef, seasoned with garlic powder, onion powder, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Drain if necessary. In bottom of warm Crock Pot, pour one jar sauce. Add spaghetti noodles. Add ground beef. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, Using fingers, break apart cream cheese into small pieces, and add. Pour 1 jar sauce on top. Cook on HIGH for 2.5- 3 hours. Stir and add chicken broth. Add last jar of sauce. Stir again. Cook for 1 additional hour, if needed. Remove and garnish individual portions with parsley. *NOTE* Due to different slow cookers' cooking times, I encourage you to check this after 2.5 hours. My pasta was fully cooked. Therefore, I added the broth and sauce. Then I reduced the heat the warm setting until ready to serve. 

For more Dollar General easy meals be sure to follow on Facebook and on Twitter. And stop by your local DG today to create a yummy meal tonight!

Visit Sponsor's Site

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Soul Food Saturday #40

Well, we spent another week in a total deep freeze. I don't remember a winter recently when we have had so much snow, and such bitterly cold temperatures. I'll tell you what, I'm going to appreciate spring even more than I normally do when it finally makes an appearance!

If you are frozen to the bone too, Bekki has something that is sure to thaw you out, while filling you up. Comfort in a bowl to warm from the inside out!

This recipe just came about when I was noticing what I had in the fridge and what I had a desire for. Chicken and dumplings and Zuppa Tuscana. Yes both, at the same time. I had just poached some chicken, so I had a pot with just cooked broth and chicken ready to be de-boned. I looked in the fridge to figure out what to do next and had the idea. Why not make chicken and dumplings with kale? I love to add carrots and celery anyway so why not beef up the veggies, Right? I also love using canned biscuits cut up for the dumplings. But alas I only had crescent roll dough. No worries, I used it anyway. Loved the butteriness, definitely one to keep close, it really is that good!

Loaded Chicken and Dumplings
For the chicken and broth
4 leg thigh quarters
8 c. Water
1 Tbs. granulated garlic
2 tbs. creole seasoning
1 tbs. salt

To a large stock pot add chicken with spices and water. Cover, then bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer until chicken is cooked through. Skim broth if needed, then remove chicken from pot to remove bones/skin. Taste broth for seasoning, and adjust if needed.

3 c.  Celery, chopped
4 c.  Carrots, chopped
2 bunches kale, stemmed and chopped (yielded approx. 8 c. Before cooking)
1 can crescent dough, cut to approx 2 inch pieces

Add celery and carrots to pot. Stir to combine. Cover and cook until carrots have softened slightly. Add kale and stir to combine. Bring stock back up to a boil then add crescent pieces one at a time. Cover and cook until dough is firm and carrots are tender. Stirring occasionally.  Serve hot in your favorite bowl. This will warm your belly and your soul. Enjoy!

Meal Plan Jan. 26-31

*New Recipe
Links to Recipes on Blog

Barbecued Brisket
Amish Potato Salad
Marinated Cucumbers

Easy Fish Sandwiches with Homemade Tartar Sauce
Baked Velveeta Mac n Cheese*


Baked Veggie Omelet*
Sausage Links

We have P/T Conferences
Frozen Pizza

Garlic Lime Chicken
Wild Rice

Friday, January 24, 2014

His Face Said It All

I've got a question for all you wives out there. Has your husband ever asked what's for dinner, and when you answer him, no matter how much he tries to hide his disgust or disappointment, his face says how he really feels? If you answered yes, please, join me in my boat! Now, I will admit most of the time my "boys" are up for just about anything I want to experiment with in the kitchen; but every once in a while even I get the feeling that something I'm about to make is not a good idea.

This is how it happened. We were driving to the grocery store, and I asked my husband if we had any more pork sausage in the freezer, before I bought any. He answered me, and then asked what I was using it for. I replied, "A new recipe", and began describing it to him...and that's when it happened. The look on his face was priceless, and there was no doubt I would not be making that. Now, I'm not willing to share with you what it was, because my hope is to convince him he needs to try it, and I don't want any preconceived notions about it before I do.

So, the next step was to figure out what I would make instead, but by this time I was standing in the grocery store, trying to adapt my list, create a recipe in my head, and fight all the pre-snow storm shoppers. Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention that. This happened the weekend before the big snow fall, so of course, the grocery store shelves were bare! No kidding, the first two recipes I came up I couldn't do because 90% of the ingredients were not to be found any where in this city.

This is what I finally came up with, and I have to admit I am so happy I did. My boys love a little spice in their food, and they could not get enough of this. They gobbled it up and told me over and over how yummy it was. But don't worry if you aren't into too much heat, because either am I, and I could enjoy this too without my tongue crying out for help.

Don't be intimated by the list of ingredients. I'm guessing you probably have a good majority of it in your pantry. And if you prefer to slow cook your sauce in the Crock Pot, I'm sure it would work perfectly as well.

That moment when you realize a recipe is simply not going to be received well is something every home cook dreads. But at least this time it happened before it was even cooked, and not as the first bite is being chewed!

Shells with Zesty Tomato Sauce
1 lb. bulk Italian sausage
2 TBS olive oil
1 lb. medium shell pasta
8 oz. white button mushrooms, sliced
1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
3 (8 oz.) cans tomato sauce
1 (12 oz.) can tomato paste
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp. dried basil
1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried parsley, extra for garnish
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. white vinegar
1 c. water
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste
Shaved Parmesan for garnish, optional

In Dutch oven, or large skillet, brown sausage until no longer pink, about 10 minutes. Drain well. Wipe out any dark bits from pan. Add oil and heat over medium. Add onions and mushrooms. Saute' until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Using a mortar and pestal (or small bowl) combine basil, oregano, thyme and parsley. Crush and mix well. When onion mixture is tender, add all other ingredients except Parmesan cheese. Stir well to combine. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 1 1/2-2 hours, stirring occasionally. Cook pasta according to package directions and drain VERY well. Add grated Parmesan cheese to sauce and mix well. Add shells to sauce and toss to combine. Serve with shaved Parmesan  and extra parsley sprinkled on top.

Shared on The Country Cook Jan. 24, 2014

Pasta at Very Good Recipes

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Snowmageddon 2014

Yes, that's what we called the huge snow storm that hit Indiana (and many other places too) a couple weeks ago. If you weren't part of the country that got hit with multiple feet of snow, I will give you a little glimpse into what it meant to us. Over 14 inches of snow, sub zero temps (-45 with the windchill), blizzard like conditions, schools closed for a week straight (Yay for extra Christmas vacation!) and many businesses closed for 1-2 days. The state was literally closed for about 48 hours. I was not around for the Blizzard of '78, but everyone who was said this was the worst snowstorm since then.

So, there I was at home with the whole family, snowed in. And that isn't an exaggeration. The snow drifts were high; and our vehicles would not start in the frigid temps. After the Christmas decorations were put away, the laundry was done, the house was cleaned, the child was entertained...what else could I do to pass the time? Bake, of course! But I needed to work with what I had, because remember, I couldn't get to the store no matter what.

Now here is where the story takes a funny turn. I'm in the middle of gathering ingredients and realize I'm completely out of brown sugar. Great. Just great. But then my brain took over and I decided to make my own. You know brown sugar is simply white mixed with molasses, right??!! (Don't feel bad if you didn't. I didn't until a few years ago.) So, I turned to my trusty friend Google to find an idea of the ratio I would need, played around with the amounts and finally had something I could work with. I was feeling quite pioneer like making my own, and so proud it worked! (If you want to try to make your own, see note below.)

These make a great breakfast for a busy weekday morning, brunch item on the weekends, dinner time dessert or even after school snack. Oh, and the house will smell fantastic when they are baking too! Maybe the next time a big snowstorm hits, you can make these while you're stuck inside. Or, simply make them anytime, and wish for spring!

Apple Pecan Muffins
2 c. flour
1/4 c. brown sugar, packed*
1/2 c. white sugar, divided
1 egg
1/2 c. vegetable oil
2/3 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 TBS baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. chopped pecans
1 apple, peeled and finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400. In a large bowl whisk together egg, oil, vanilla and milk. Stir in flours, brown sugar, 1/4 c. white sugar, baking powder and salt, just until flour is wet. Add in pecans and apples. Mix well. Either grease a muffin tin, or use paper cups. Fill each about 2/3 full. In a small bowl combine 1/4 c. white sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle tops of muffins with cinnamon sugar. Bake for 20 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. *NOTE* If you need to make your own brown sugar like I did, simply add 1 1/2 TBS molasses to 1 c. white sugar. Mix well. Store in an airtight container.

Shared on The Country Cook Jan. 24, 2014

Muffins at Very Good Recipes

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Heat Up Your Winter with Texas Pete® {A Review}

Do you love a good hot sauce? Are you always on the look-out for a new one to try? Have you jumped on the sriracha bandwagon? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you are going to be so happy you logged on today!

It seems like sriracha is the new "it" thing in the foodie world. Now, I realize it's been around forever, and many have used it for as long as they can remember. But for whatever reason, I seem to be hearing more and more about it. All my favorite television cooks are working it into endless recipes and I see my friends using it in their home recipes too.

And now, there is a new sauce on the block!  TW Garner Food Company, the maker of Texas Pete®sauces and Green Mountain Gringo® salsas and tortilla strips has announced the launch of its newest addition, CHA! by Texas Pete® sriracha sauce.

The sauce, with a fiery blend of heat and sweet, was in development for more than a year! The flavor profile is the natural next step for the #3 brand of hot sauce in America.

“CHA! by Texas Pete®  was designed specifically for enthusiasts who are always chasing the next great taste,” says Steve DeCorte, general manager of sales at TW Garner Food Company. “The growth of sriracha sauce over the past few years has been fast-paced and we anticipate that CHA! by Texas Pete®will deliver the bold, balanced flavors we’re known for to a whole new audience.”
Named for a coastal city in Thailand, sriaracha's early appearance as an Asian sauce has evolved over time into a condiment that seems to be in almost every home's pantry and really adds unique flavor to all cuisines. 

I can tell you the hot sauce expert in this house (aka my husband) gave this one 2 thumbs up! He loved the flavor, the level of heat, and the way it enhanced the foods he tried it on, without covering up the flavor of the food itself.

If you too love all things hot, and are dying to get your hands on CHA! by Texas Pete, I've got great news for you! It will be sold at many of the national and regional stores that already carry the brand, now 85 years strong! Be sure to look for it on your grocery store shelf today!

Disclaimer: I received a free sample in exchange for this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Another Re-Do

Today's recipe is another that I first posted almost 3 years ago! It's funny when I find these previous posts because I can't believe it's been that long since I first shared it. But too, for some of them, I haven't made them since, and I can't imagine we've went that long without enjoying the dish. I mean, the reason I'm going back and "re-blogging" most of them is because 1. only a handful of people would have seen them back then and 2. the photos are...how shall I say....less than up to my current standards, so I want to reintroduce them looking pretty! But that neither of those have anything to do with how great the recipes were, or how much we liked them, so it amazes me that I haven't went back and found them before now. 

I came across this recipe when I was first discovering a food blogger my friends were raving about...Ree Drummond. Yep, ya'll know I'm talking about the Pioneer Woman. So many of my fellow moms/home cooks were making her recipes and loving them; and I have to admit I had never heard of her. Well, that quickly changed! In fact, not long after I "found" her, she became a big star on the Food Network. (I don't think one had any influence on the other though.)

We are olive fiends, so I knew we would love this. It reminded me of a cross between a good olive tapenade and garlic bread. That first time I served it, I was actually entertaining my in-laws, and had it with a baked pasta dish. But we all agreed, it was so filling by itself, it could really stand alone as a pizza like meal. So, this time, when my son requested it, I did exactly that. I served it with my Easy Caesar Salad and it made the perfect meal. It really was like a French bread pizza, or loaded open faced sandwich and with the salad, was just the right amount for an easy weeknight meal.

If you love olives on your pizza, I really recommend making this and using it as a main dish like I did. Or, if you are looking for something new for your next party (the Super Bowl is just around the corner!) you could easily slice this into small pieces for a great appetizer. Either way, it's a re-do I think everyone will enjoy!

Olive Cheese Bread From The Pioneer Woman
1 loaf French bread, cut lengthwise into 2 halves
1 (6 oz.) can black olives, drained
1 (6 oz.) jar stuffed green olives, drained
2 green onions, chopped
1 stick butter, room temperature
1/2 c. mayo
8 oz. shredded Monterrey Jack cheese

Preheat oven to 325. In a food processor, add green and black olives. Pulse until chopped very fine. In a medium bowl combine chopped olives, green onions, butter, mayo and cheese. Stir very well to combine. Spread evenly onto bread. Using hands, press gently to adhere to bread. Bake for 25-30 minutes until cheese is bubbly. Slice into large pieces to serve. 

Shared on The Country Cook January 24, 2014

Olives at Very Good Recipes

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Soul Food Saturday #39

Welcome to another winter weekend. Hopefully it's not too cold where you are, or if it is, maybe you can take some time this weekend and snuggle up under a blanket with a good book, or favorite movie and watch the world go by!

Bekki has a great sweet treat for us today. Everyone young and old will get a real kick out of these!

With the ideas of dessert dancing through my head all I can seem to think about these days are apples. Crisps, and pies! And no matter where I looked I didn't find a recipe I was in LOVE with. So I set off to make one that sang, with the flavor I craved! Not only is this better for you than McDonald's but it can be gluten free too! Just substitute gluten free crescent dough and voila your set. Grab your kids because fried pies just turned good for you!

Fried Apple Pies with Maple Glaze
8 medium apples ( Fuji was my choice) peeled, cored and diced
1 tbs. lemon juice
3 tsp. Brown sugar
1 tbs. cinnamon
2 tbs. butter
1 can grands butter crescents
Oil for frying

Maple  Glaze
4 tbs powdered sugar
4 tbs. maple syrup
1 tsp. Half and half

In a medium sized heat safe bowl add apples and lemon juice. Toss to coat thoroughly.   Add cinnamon and sugar. Toss to coat. In a medium skillet add butter and allow to melt. Add apples and stir to coat with butter. Cook until apples are just tender, about 5-7 minutes. Stirring often. Transfer apples back to heatproof bowl to cool. Open crescent dough and unroll one section at a time. (2triangles) Pinch perforated seems together, then press to seal them together. On both side. With a rolling pin or round glass roll dough to ensure pastry is one piece. Try not to stretch dough. Place the cooled apples along the length of the dough. Will take about 4 tbs. Then fold dough over and seal by pushing down seams. Crimp with fork if desired.

In a large skillet, add oil and heat to 375*

For the glaze :
In a small bowl add powdered sugar. Whisk slightly to break up any lumps. Add maple syrup and half and half. Whisk until smooth, then set aside.

With oil at 375* add one pie at a time. Cook until golden on each side.
Drain on paper towel and drizzle with glaze.

Meal Plan Jan. 19-24

*New Recipe
Links to Recipes on Blog

Grilled Steak
Baked Sweet Potatoes
Wedge Salads

Lemon Chicken Noodle Soup

Crock Pot Creamy Spaghetti*
Garlic Bread

Tuna Salad on Bagels
Asian Crunchy Slaw
Tater Tots

Corn Dog Casserole*
Cottage Cheese
Mandarin Oranges

Tomato Soup
Grilled Cheese
Fruit Cocktail

Friday, January 17, 2014

Parties Yet To Come

This is about the time of year when I usually have something to share with you that we actually enjoyed a few weeks ago, ringing in the New Year with our annual appetizer buffet, that I save to share a little closer to the middle of January, or even closer to February. Why? Because one of the biggest parties of the year is quickly approaching, and we can always use new ideas.

If you haven't figured it out yet, I am of course, talking about the Super Bowl! I truly believe even if you aren't a football fan, Super Bowl Sunday can be a really fun day shared with family and friends. Normally, we are at my in-laws for a day of football and food; and while we are avid football fans, there are those who really don't care about the game at all, but between the commercials, delicious food, board games, and watching the rest of us scream at the television, they too have a great time.

When I was planning our NYE buffet this year, I wanted something besides the normal cheese ball and crackers. I've done those quite a few times, and I just in the mood for something new. I really liked the idea of this because it had just a little kick to it. The green chilies give it just a touch of heat, and great flavor. Plus, while a cheese ball is pretty much for crackers only, this makes a great spread for cocktail bread too, which I love.

If you are planning your Super Bowl party, I guarantee this would be a hit. And if the whole football scene isn't really for you, then jot it down for any other party you might be having. Or heck, simply make it for a snack. Right now...

Zesty Pimento Cheese Spread From Taste of Home
2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
3 TBS salad dressing (Miracle Whip)
1 (4 oz.) can diced green chilies, drained
1 (2 oz.) jar diced pimentos, undrained
1/8 tsp. garlic powder

In a medium bowl combine all ingredients. Mix very well. Chill at least 2 hours before serving. Serve with crackers, chips or cocktail bread.

Shared on The Country Cook Jan. 17, 2014

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Eggplant, Yay or Nay?

When I knew I was going to be making this dish, I posed a question to my Facebook fans. (There are over 18,000 of you, so that's a lot of feedback!) I asked "Eggplant, Yay or Nay?" And most of you, I would say over 75% agreed with my family and said "Yay"!!

Now yes, many of you said you love it fried, as an appetizer or a whole meal, and I can't argue with you. That's one of our favorite ways to eat it too. But I am on a mission to find even more ways for us to eat it. It's kind of something I don't think of a whole lot, and I need to change that. We love the flavor, and so I was really excited when I came across this in All You magazine back before the holidays.

Do you try to use more whole what pasta? If not, I would encourage you to try it. I'm not saying totally swap out all the "regular" pasta in your diet, but for certain dishes, the nutty flavor of the whole wheat variety really lends itself well to the flavor of the sauce. And this is the perfect example of that. The richness of the sauce, and eggplant are only highlighted by the whole wheat penne. In fact, I can honestly say I don't think it would taste as delicious with ordinary pasta. Eggplant is such an earthy veggie, and that matches so well with the earthiness of the pasta.

Oh, and did I mention this entire sauce is cooked in the slow cooker? Yep. The only thing you have to do is boil water when supper time rolls around. (Okay, technically, you're supposed to stir it a couple times during cooking, but if you don't, I will never know!)

If you are an eggplant fan, and looking for more ways to enjoy it, this is just the ticket. If you aren't quite sure about eggplant yet, why not give it another try, this time with something you know you like, pasta and tomato sauce??!! Either way, this is definitely a winner that will become an instant favorite.

Whole Wheat Penne with Eggplant Tomato Sauce 
1 lb. whole wheat penne
2 TBS butter, diced
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 rib celery, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/2" cubes
8 oz. button mushrooms, chopped
1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
2 TBS dried basil
1 TBS dried parsley, extra for garnish
Salt and Pepper to taste
Grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish

Spray Crock Pot with cooking spray. Combine butter, onion, celery, carrot, garlic, eggplant and mushrooms in slow cooker. Stir to combine. Add tomatoes. Stir well. Cover and cook on LOW 6 hours, stirring a few times during cooking. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain well. Top with eggplant sauce and garnish with extra parsley and cheese.

Shared on The Country Cook Jan. 17, 2014

Eggplant on Very Good Recipes

Monday, January 13, 2014

Mommy, They Look Like Fingers

That was my son's reaction when he saw these cooking in the pan. Well, to be more specific, my new oven safe Dutch Oven that Mr. Everyday got me for Christmas, that I am totally in love with!

Anyway, little man could see these cooking through the glass lid and asked "Mommy, what are you making? They look like fingers." I laughed and explained that he was right on the money since they were fingerling potatoes! And if you've ever seen them, you know what I'm talking about!

I actually found these in the store when I was on the hunt for some baby red potatoes, but couldn't find any I liked at a price I liked. These appeared to be something the store had gotten in for the holidays and were running on "special" to try to get rid of them since Christmas was over. I bought two packages, not knowing yet what I was going to do with them.

Now, back to this skillet I love so much! See, when I get something new in my kitchen I look for anything and everything I can cook in it. So, the day after Christmas (yeah, I didn't make it more than 24 hours without having to play with it!) I remembered those potatoes sitting in the crisper drawer and knew I could do something magical with them in my new pan. Sure, I could have just simply oven roasted them, but what fun would that have been?

If you're always on the hunt for new potato dishes, be sure to jot this one down, or Pin it. They are crispy on the outside, but tender and butter inside. And if you can't find fingerlings in your store, baby potatoes of any variety would work just as well. You just want something with the skin left on, so they can get browned and crisp.

Did you get any new kitchen "toys" for Christmas? If so, leave a comment telling me what they are! I can always add to my wish list for next year!

Pan Roasted Fingerling Potatoes
1 lb. yellow fingerling potatoes
2 TBS olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried rosemary
1 tsp. dried thyme
2 tsp. dried parsley
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a large dutch oven or high sided skillet, cover potatoes with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook until just fork tender, about 5-7 minutes. Drain well. Wipe out pan. Heat oil over medium high heat. Add potatoes and seasonings. Stir to combine. Saute' until browned on all sides, stirring often, about 10-15 minutes. Garnish with extra parsley if desired.

Shared on The Country Cook Jan. 17, 2014

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Soul Food Saturday #38

Good Morning! Are you starting to thaw out? Here in Indiana, anything above 0 is pretty much a heat wave! We had a few days and nights there when it was close to -45 with the windchill and the state basically shut down because of snow and the frigid cold. To take our minds off just how cold we are, Bekki is sharing something a little tropical, not to mention delicious, that can have us pretending it's summer and we're lying on a beach somewhere.

For some of us it's snowing, and others have sunshine with occasional showers. I say let's forget about that and have a salad that reminds us of warm weather and vacation time. I had this salad the first time when I worked for a local grocery store. It was a salad that was made fresh daily and always seemed to satisfy me. Imitation crab is a big player in this recipe. It's inexpensive and available basically anywhere. With a little celery, and even pineapple for a bit of sweetness. You're sure to please a crowd with this one. Grab some crackers or just a fork this one is perfectly versatile.

Crab and Pineapple Salad
1 lb. imitation crab
1 rib celery, sliced lengthwise and chopped
1 large green onion, chopped (green/white)
1/2 c. Pineapple, chopped
1/2 c. Cheddar jack cheese, shredded
1/2 c. Mayo
1 tsp. Granulated garlic
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl add crab, celery, onion, pineapple and cheese. Toss to combine.  In a small bowl add mayo, garlic, salt and pepper. Mix to combine thoroughly. Taste for seasoning a adjustment. Add mayo to salad and mix to combine.

Meal Plan Jan 12- 17

*New Recipe
Links to Recipes on Blog

Slow Cooker Beef Tips n Gravy*
Egg Noodles

Monday (Alex's Pick)
Fish Sticks
Mac n Cheese
Green Beans

White Castle Sliders
Steak Fries
Ranch Bacon Pasta Salad

Pork Chops
French Onion Rice*
Pan Roasted Brussels Sprouts

I'm taking my mom to the airport. We will have leftovers

Tomato, Ham and Bean Soup
Dinner Rolls

Friday, January 10, 2014

Our New Year

January 1, 2014. What was on your table that day? I know many of you are answering with pork, black eyed peas, collard greens...all those things that are supposed to bring you luck in the New Year. And honestly, most years those are the types of things that are on my table too; but not this year. Why? Simple. My hubby made a request for something a little different for our holiday meal; and was so excited when I obliged his request!

As most of you know, we spend the night before at home, as a family, eating from a huge buffet of appetizers all night long, while we wait for the ball to drop. And usually included in that array of yummy things is a shrimp ring. It's a must. Well, this year, Mr. Everyday asked since we were having so many other things, if we could skip the cocktail shrimp and wait until the next day to have shrimp instead....in a cream sauce...over pasta. Yes, he wanted me to take my tried and true Alfredo sauce recipe, add shrimp to it, and recreate one of his favorite pasta dishes of all time.

Now to be honest, if I didn't already have this easy, never fail sauce recipe, I might not have been so inclined. After all, it was a holiday and I deserved some down time, especially after preparing that huge buffet the night before. But I knew I could make him happy, and not have to put forth too much effort.

If you have tried my Alfredo sauce before, you'll be happy to know this is the same base recipe, just with a couple extra steps to add the shrimp. If you never have, and enjoy a good Alfredo sauce at your favorite Italian restaurant, I highly suggest you give this one a try! It's so easy, and tastes just like those you order out. (And if you don't groove on the shrimp, simply leave those out! It doesn't effect the sauce recipe at all!)

I hope you enjoyed something yummy on New Year's Day! If it was something traditional, maybe some good luck is headed your way! But for us, we went in the other direction and enjoyed something new and yummy that can easily be your supper tonight!

Easy Shrimp Fettuccine Alfredo
12 oz. bag frozen, small (60/80) shrimp, peeled, deveined, tail removed, thawed
2 c. heavy cream
1 stick, plus 2 TBS butter, divided
4 cloves garlic, minced, divided
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 c. mozzarella cheese
2 TBS dried parsley, extra for garnish
1 lb. fettuccine
Salt and Pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions. While it's cooking, in a large skillet heat 2 TBS butter over medium heat. Add shrimp and 2 cloves garlic. Cook, 5-7 minutes, stirring often, until shrimp are pink and cooked through. Melt 1 stick butter in medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add 2 cloves garlic, cream and black pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer stirring often. Add Parmesan and stir until well blended. Simmer 8-10 minutes until thickened. Add mozzarella and stir frequently until blended and smooth. Set aside but keep warm. Just before pasta is ready to drain, add shrimp to sauce. Add parsley. Stir to combine. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Drain pasta. Add to a large bowl. Pour sauce over. Mix well with tongs to coat. Garnish with extra parsley if desired. 

Shared on The Country Cook Jan. 10. 2014

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Continued Resolution

Resolutions. Every new year people all over the world make lists of things they want to do in the next 12 months and vow, this time they will do them. Me? Well, I don't really believe in resolutions. Sure, every year I like to reflect. Like to look back on the past year and find things in my life and about myself I can improve on. Ways I can try each day to be just a little bit better than I was before. But I think making a set list of resolutions is just setting oneself up for failure and to feel guilty when they don't happen.

However, since I began blogging, I have tried to come up with a foodie resolution for EMM. Two years ago, it was at least one new recipe every week. And actually, I continued with that this previous year, even though I made a new goal for 2013. Last year, I decided to go back and "re-blog" many of the recipes I posted here when it was just my mom and husband reading. Share them again, take better (or even first time) photos, and have them be brand new again. Well, for this year, I've decided to take both of my previous foodie resolutions, continue them in 2014, and keep both alive. So, this year, I'm going to stick to at least one new recipe per week (some weeks more!) and still go back through the archives and find those sad, forgotten recipes that deserve to be in the spotlight again.

So, to kick things off right, I've chosen one of our all time favorite soups, and something I shared here for the first time January 21, 2011! Hard to believe almost 3 years ago!

It's the perfect feel good, taste good, absolutely delicious meal at the end of a cold, blustery day! If you've ever had the cheesy potato soup at Bob Evans, this will remind you a lot of it! In fact, that's why this recipe came to be. My husband has loved that soup since back in the day when his wife, then girlfriend, was a waitress there and use to sneak him bowls of it when he would come and visit her!

Put this on in the morning before work, come home and finish it off when you're dog tired, and your family will be so happy you did! And if you're someone who makes resolutions every year, and sticks to them, my hat is off to you. For me, I will just stick to making me a better me than before, and sharing yummy new, and somewhat new recipes!

Crock Pot Cheddar Potato Soup
32 oz. bag frozen diced potatoes
1/2 c. chopped onion

1 medium stalk celery, diced
2 (14 oz.)cans chicken broth
1 c. water
3 TBS flour
1 c. milk
3 c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Salt and Pepper to taste
Real bacon bits
Chopped Green Onions

In Crock Pot, mix potatoes, onion, celery, broth, salt, pepper and water. Cover and cook on low 6-8 hours. Lightly mash potatoes with fork or potato masher. In small bowl, mix flour into milk; stir into potato mixture. Increase heat setting to high. Cover, cook 20-30 minutes or until mixture thickens. Stir in cheese until melted. Garnish individual servings with bacon and green onions.

Shared on The Country Cook Jan. 10., 2014