Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sunday Meal Planning!!!

It's been a busy weekend here! Hilary and I spent 3 days in Lancaster County, PA sightseeing and attending the Creating Keepsakes Convention.  Hopefully, Hilary and I will be able to put together a blog post on our cropping and shopping adventures really soon! 

We had a great time but for me it's back to reality! LOL Since I had some time last week before heading out for the weekend I pre-planned and shopped as much as I could for this week.  That's the point of "meal planning", right?

So, for this week this is what I have planned:

Sunday - Enchilada Lasagna with Crockpot Refried Beans and Saffron Rice
Monday - Baked Mac and Cheese with Tomato Soup
Tuesday - Italian Crockpot Chicken over Rotini Pasta
Wednesday - Cheesy Rigatoni Bake with Ground Beef
Thursday - leftover night!
Friday - Zesty Crockpot Chicken with Ciabata Rolls and Mayoless Slaw
Saturday - dinner out! :-)

I've made the Enchilada Lasagna a bunch of times but was never happy with how the layers came together.  This time I think I finally perfected how to layer it so it comes out of the pan and doesn't run all over the plate.  The original recipe is from Taste of Home.  Here is my modified recipe! 

Enchilada Lasgana (adapted from Taste of Home)

1 ½ lbs. ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 can (14 ½ oz.) stewed tomatoes, undrained
1 can (10 oz.) enchilada sauce
1 teaspoon (to 2 teaspoons) ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried cilantro
1 egg, beaten
1 ½ cups (12 oz.) 4% cottage cheese
4 cups (16 oz.) shredded Mexican cheese blend, reserve 1 cup for topping
9 flour tortillas (8 inches), cut in half

In a large skillet, cook the beef, onion and garlic over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain.  Stir in the tomatoes, enchilada sauce, cumin and cilantro.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
In a small bowl, combine egg and cottage cheese; set aside.  Grease a 13x9 baking dish. Layer 6 tortilla halves on the bottom of the baking dish. Spread a third of the meat sauce over tortillas. Add 1 ½ cups of the cheese blend over the meat sauce. Layer with 6 more tortilla halves, the cottage cheese mixture, another 1/3 of the meat sauce and 1 ½ cups cheese blend.  Finish layering with the last 6 tortilla halves and remaining meat sauce.  Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup of cheese blend.
Cover and bake at 350° for 20 minutes.  Uncover; bake 10 minutes longer or until bubbly.  Let stand for 15 minutes before cutting.  Yields 12 servings.

My family really enjoyed this dish.  The key to preventing it from running out all over your plate is really to let it sit for 15 minutes before cutting so don't skip that step!

Hope you have a great week! 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Slow Cooker Baby Back Ribs

I had originally planned to make Frito pie on Monday and ribs on Wednesday, but I was so excited about this new rib recipe that I found, that I decided to make them last night. It was a little bit more work than your average crock pot recipe, but SOOOO worth it!!  The hubby raved about them and the little one couldn't get enough.  The big one wouldn't even try them, but that's a discussion for another post!  The thing that made them so good was you would never know they were cooked in the slow cooker!  They had a wonderful crispy "crust" from the caramelized rub and sauce.  They will 100% be made again in this house!!  So I had to share it with you.  I found this recipe on Pinterest.  It comes from the blog Mmm is for Mommy.

Easy Barbecued Ribs

3 tbsp paprika 
2 tbsp light brown sugar, lightly packed 
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper 
S&P to taste (about 1 tsp each is what I used)
3 lbs pork baby back ribs  - leave the membrane on the ribs to help hold them together
3 cup barbecue sauce 
Vegetable oil spray.  

In a small bowl, mix together paprika, brown sugar, cayenne and S&P.  Rub this mixture all over both sides of your ribs well.  Arrange ribs in the slow cooker by standing them up against the wall of the stoneware pot, thicker side down and meaty side against the pot.  Pour barbecue sauce over the ribs, cover and cook for 6-8 hours on low (I did 7 hours and they were perfect).  

Now comes the only stove/oven work involved, we need to reduce the sauce and then brown the ribs under the broiler.  These steps are what turn the ordinary into the extraordinary, so don't you dare skip them even if your ribs already look pretty good.  Once the initial slow cooking is done, very carefully remove the ribs to a baking pan which you have lined with foil and put a rack on, bone side up. 

Strain all of the remaining juices from the slow cooker through a mesh strainer into a small saucepan and skim any fat that has risen to the top.  Bring to boil and allow to simmer and reduce by about a third, approximately 15 minutes.  Put your oven's broiler on to heat up and make sure that there is an oven rack about 10 inches below the broiler element.  When the broiler is preheated, brush the ribs with sauce and broil for 3 or 4 minutes.  Take them out and very carefully flip them over, brush with sauce and broil again, meat side up, for approximately 7 minutes, taking them out once or twice to baste with more sauce.  Serve any remaining sauce on the side with the ribs. 

I can't say enough about how yummy these were served with steamed broccoli and smashed red potatoes!


Sunday, July 8, 2012

Meal Plan Sunday 7/8 - a million bags of chips!

My 6 year old became OBSESSED with the Nintendo Wii this past March.  This is his first real obsession.  He was never a paci/blankie/lovie baby and has never really been into any toys (despite having a room full of them) and never even really played with the kids electronic devices we had given him (like the Leapster) so I never imagined that introducing him to video games would end up having such an impact on my life.  Suddenly, he loved something SO much that I had a bargaining chip!  He knew he had to follow the rules or his beloved wii would get taken away from him.  Before, he cared so little about the consequences of actions because the punishment didn't mean enough to him.

Before I can go forward with this little tale you need a little background.  You see the wii was not actually purchased for my son but for my husband.  He has always been into video games - since the days of Pong.  He was thrilled about his son's obsession because now he had a video game play mate.

Several weeks ago we purchased the Game Skylanders for him.  Have you heard of it?  It's kind of similar to Pokemon in that there are a bunch of these creatures that have different powers and can evolve to have more powers as you move through the world of the game doing puzzles and quests. But what makes this game unique is the have a little figure for each of these creatures and the figures interact with the game itself by placing them on a portal.  So, in addition to the game itself, you need to track down all these various figures so you have enough power and abilities to finish the game.  And as with any collectible, some are mass market and easy to find, while others are rare and you could purchase them for $300 on ebay if you were so inclined (I am not!!).

Bottom line is that as much as my son is obsessed with playing the game is how obsessed my husband is with collecting all the figures.

The only saving grace is that my scrapbook nook is in the same den as the wii so we can all be up there pretending that we are having quality together time as the older boys play wii, I scrap, and the little one plays with whatever toy is striking his fancy at the moment.

So what does all this have to do with my meal plan, you ask?  This week Frito-Lay came out with a promotion where you purchased the large variety pack of 20 chip bags and you could send away for one of 4 exclusive Skylander figures.  Yesterday my husband came home from the market with 80 bags of chips!!!!!  Chips we really don't even eat!  Bags too big for me to feel comfortable even putting them in the kids lunch bags for camp.

I decided to find some creative ways to use the chips in our family dinners.  So this week's very unhealthy meal plan is brought to you by Frito-Lay (Ha!)

Monday we will be having Frito Pie.  This is apparently a southern dish that is similar to nacho's but with fritos. Tuesday will be kabobs on the grill. Wednesday I will be making baby back ribs n the crock pot with corn and smashed potatoes. Thursday will be potato chip encrusted chicken with a side dish to be named later (probably something off of Pinterest).  Friday will be baked ziti.

What's your meal plan this week, folks?


Friday, July 6, 2012

Love in a Scrapbook Page

A few days ago I posted a picture that I had taken with my iPhone.  You can see that post here - iPhone Photos.....To Scrap or Not to Scrap?

I used this photo as part of a scrapbook layout that I did for the Sketch Class that is currently going on over at Inspired to Scrap. I used that iPhone picture for Sketch #3 that was posted yesterday.

I promised to post the layout when the new sketch was posted for class and here it is!

Even though the quality of the picture is not the best, I am so glad I chose this photo to work with.  The journaling describes the "back story" of the picture. In case you can't read the journaling this is what it says:

"Some times a picture says it all.  Other times there is a bit of a story behind it. After several weeks of not seeing her brother, Jeremy, Hailey woke up on the morning of March 4, 2012 to find that her beloved brother had come home.  They held each other for what seemed like an eternity. It was almost as if Hailey was telling Jeremy to never leave again. They are brother and sister separated by 8 years but connected by love."
The story behind this picture is worth more to me than the quality of the picture itself.  Actually, now that it is on the page it doesn't look that bad to me.


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Happy Fourth of July!

Wow, it seems like the summer is flying by! How can it be time for 4th of July festivities already??? We are into our second week of camp here and have spent endless hours soaking in the pool.  I've fired up the grill more times that I can count and we've already run out of ice pops.  It's been a hot couple of days here on the east coast!

What have you been up to? 

I have also been working on a bunch of scrapbook layouts for a sketch class over at Inspired to Scrap. Today, the second sketch was posted and and one of my layouts is one the featured examples.  Here is my 3 month old Red, White and Blue Cutie! Okay, so she is two this year but I finally got those pictures scrapped!!! Yay!

It's not too late to join in on the sketch class if you are looking for some scrappy inspiration.  Check out Stacey's website at - hope to see you there!

Have a happy and a safe 4th of July!!!


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Sunday Meal Planning!

Sunday is my typical day to plan out what my family is going to eat for the week.  I've been winging it a lot lately by just throwing some burgers, hot dogs or chicken on the grill.  Like I said in a previous post my meal plan for this summer is to keep the fridge and freezer stocked with plenty of stuff to grill and lots of fresh veggies on hand to whip up a salad or two each week.

This week is a challenge with the holiday smack dab in the middle of the week.  One of the three kids is in camp this week and we are in the middle of a heat wave baby!  I really don't feel like grilling but I don't feel like heating up my kitchen either.

Last night we decided to go out to dinner to avoid throwing food on the grill but tonight I must cook those burgers before they spoil. I prepped a yummy corn salad yesterday so that is ready to go for tonight.

Here is my plan for this week:

Sunday - Burgers and Hot Dogs with Baked Beans and Corn Salad (recipe below)
Monday - Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches in Crockpot with French Fries
Tuesday - Tamale Casserole with Cilantro Lime Rice
Wednesday - ???, maybe get some steaks to grill
Thursday - Chicken Parmesan with Spaghetti
Friday - Breakfast for Dinner Nite! - Pancakes and Hashbrown Quiche with Turkey Sausage
Saturday - ???

And as promised, I am sharing another summer salad recipe! Here is the Corn Salad that I made. Doesn't it look yummy?

Confetti Corn Salad

6 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed and drained
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 orange bell pepper, diced
1 small red onion, diced
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ teaspoon oregano
¼ teaspoon salt
ground black pepper to taste

In a large bowl, combine corn, bell peppers and onion.  In a small bowl, mix vinegar, brown sugar, oil, oregano, salt and pepper together with whisk.  Pour vinaigrette over corn mixture and toss gently to mix well.  Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Hope you have a great week and happy meal planning!