Weekend Links

Last weekend I was in Disney World with Jim and my parents.  No kids.  We had a blast!  The Free Dining promotion was going on, so we ate in some great restaurants.  And we got to see the Osborne Family Lights at Hollywood Studios.

It even snowed on us there!

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That’s the best kind of snow.  Disney magic! 70 degrees outside with a light flurry :)

Here’s a video of the Osborne Dancing Lights.  So cool!

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Amy from Mom Advice shows how to make a DIY No Sew Blanket Scarf.  These could come in handy for the Style Me Pretty Winter Challenge (more info below).

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I loved this post on why kids love being homeschooled.  My own kids confirmed a lot of these.  50 Reasons Kids Love Being Homeschooled

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My friend, Lynn has been on a roll with creating allergy friendly recipes lately.  Last week I shared her Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls.  And now she’s created Dairy Free Sweetened Condensed Milk!

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A new Style Me Pretty Challenge for winter is about to start!  Registration is open now and the shopping list comes out just in time for all those Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.

This is the fifth Style Me Pretty Challenge I’ve done and they are all so much fun.  And so helpful to have the shopping list and outfit ideas.  I purchased that blue sweater above as soon as I saw it!

This winter challenge will have pieces from both the Basic Challenge and the Fall Challenge, so I’ll already own many of the items.  I bet you have a lot of the items in your closet too.  But just in case you don’t, some of the participants have started a Challenger’s Closet Facebook group where they trade with each other.

I really can’t say enough good things about the Style Challenges.  They’re a fun, confidence boost.  And the women in the private Facebook group are amazing!

 

This post contains affiliate links.

 

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Easy Chicken and Tortellini Soup with Kale

Easy Chicken Tortellini Soup

 

Cheese tortellini, chicken, kale, tomatoes, garlic, onion – this soup is full of good stuff!

And it couldn’t be easier to make.  Especially if you’ve got cooked chicken in the freezer ready to go.

I almost always have chicken frozen, that I’ve either cooked myself or used Costco rotisserie chicken.  It’s such a time saver to have the meat ready to use.  A quick minute or two in the microwave is all it takes to thaw it enough so it can be added to a soup or casserole.

Next week, I’ll have another post on using meat from a Costco rotisserie chicken (or your leftover turkey).  There are so many ways to use chicken and turkey like this.

But for today, let’s talk about this soup.  Here’s what you’ll need:   [Read more…]

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Apricot Soy Ginger Chicken – in the oven or slow cooker

Apricot Soy Ginger Chicken

 

This recipe for Apricot Soy Ginger Chicken is so easy.  There are just 4 ingredients (plus salt and pepper).

You can fix it in the slow cooker or oven.

It’s great with sweet potatoes or butternut squash.  Or Hawaiian Cole Slaw.  Or Asian Broccoli Salad.  Or any salad with a poppy seed or honey mustard or berry vinaigrette dressing.

Use any cut of chicken you like.  Bone-in or boneless will work, just be sure to adjust the cook time for boneless.

Here’s what you’ll need:   [Read more…]

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No Bake Pumpkin Spice Caramel Cheesecake Dessert

No Bake Pumpkin Spice Caramel Cheesecake Dessert

A few years ago, I learned that pumpkin cheesecake is a very common dessert to serve for Thanksgiving.  Cheesecake isn’t hard to make, but this no-bake version is even easier.

You can even make it a day or two ahead of time, which is perfect if you’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner!

This Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Dessert is lighter tasting than a regular baked cheesecake.  The filling is fluffy and creamy, swirled with caramel sauce.  I used McCormick Pumpkin Pie Spice to give it a great flavor.

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You’ll want to have your cream cheese at room temperature before starting this recipe.  It only takes a few minutes to stir the crust together and press it into the dish.  And the filling whips together quickly too.

I’ve been loving McCormick Pumpkin Pie Spice.  I’ve added it to Homemade Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream and other recipes.

But I’ve also used it sprinkled on bananas with a little honey and pecans for a morning snack.

I’ve made Pumpkin Pie Spice and Sugar Toast, by using it in place of cinnamon.  That really pumps up the flavor of plain old cinnamon sugar toast.

I’ve added it to oatmeal in place of cinnamon.  Pumpkin Pie Spice is versatile stuff!

Check out McCormick FlavorPrint for more ideas on combining and using spices and discover your own FlavorPrint Profile.

No Bake Pumpkin Spice Caramel Cheesecake Dessert

Ingredients

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 Tbs. sugar
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 2 packages (8oz each) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 can (15 oz) pumpkin
  • 1 1/2 tsp. McCormick Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 12 oz frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • 1/2 cup caramel sauce

Instructions

  1. Stir the sugar and graham cracker crumbs together.
  2. Add the butter and mix well. Reserve 1/2 cup for the topping.
  3. Press the rest into a 9×13 pan.
  4. Combine the cream cheese, sugar in a mixer bowl. Beat until well combined.
  5. Add pumpkin and Pumpkin Pie Spice to the mixer bowl and beat until combined.
  6. Fold in whipped topping.
  7. Spread pumpkin mixture onto graham cracker crust.
  8. Drizzle caramel sauce over the top of the pumpkin.
  9. Use a knife to swirl caramel into pumpkin fluff.
  10. Sprinkle remaining crumbs over top of dessert.
  11. Refrigerate 4 hours or over night.
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No Bake Pumpkin Caramel Cheesecake Dessert

For more Thanksgiving recipe ideas, see American Homemade.  There are lots of ideas here to put a flavorful spin on traditional dishes.

Disclosure: I have partnered with McCormick and have been compensated for my time.  However, all opinions are my own.

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3 Things That Work in the Kitchen This Week – November 17

3 Things that work in the kitchen

1.  New Apricot Soy Ginger Chicken Recipe

On Sunday I decided to try a new recipe for our lunch after church.  I had a chopped salad in the fridge (more on that below) and wanted to build the meal around that.

I decided to grab the apricot jam that I was planning to use for Apricot Oat Bars (like these Cherry Oat Bars, only apricot instead) and use it for the chicken instead.  It turned out great and I’ll share the recipe with you on Wednesday.  It works equally well in the oven or slow cooker, so you can match it to your day.

2.  Adapting a recipe for slow cooker so that it’s ready after church.

I really wanted Butternut Squash Skillet with that chicken recipe, but I didn’t want to have to fix it after we got home from church.

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So I started it in the skillet, but instead of finishing it in the oven like the recipe calls for, I transferred it to the slow cooker.  I do prefer the oven version better, but the slow cooker worked fine.  Having the food ready to eat when we came in from church was wonderful.

If you’re looking for more ideas for after church, here’s a list of easy meals that work especially well for Sundays.

3.  Chopped Salad Mixes

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Recently I’ve been buying chopped salad mixes.  The one above is from Costco.  It has brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, cranberries and more.  We’ve also tried an Asian Chopped Salad and a Southwestern mix from Kroger.

The chopped salads seem to hold up better than bagged lettuce salads.  And we like them better too.  Even the boys have been known to eat them.  They don’t go for lettuce salads so much.

The other thing I like about them is I don’t have to make it.  For some reason, I hate making salad.  It’s not hard, of course, but I don’t like doing it.  This way we can get a big serving of raw veggies that we wouldn’t normally eat.  I mean, I’m probably not going to chop brussels sprouts or broccoli stems up for a salad.  But we’ll eat them if I buy the mix.

Am I lazy?  Probably so, but these salad mixes are working for us right now!

What’s working in your kitchen this week?

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Weekend Links

Here are a few things that caught my attention this week.

My youngest daughter loves to sew.  This week she made a new bag for me, complete with a zipper closing at the top.  I love it!

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She learned to use a pattern for this bag last year, but she’s made a lot of improvements to the pattern.  She added interior pockets in the lining.  She made the straps wider and padded them.  And now she’s added a zipper at the top.  Pretty good for a 12 year old!  I can’t even sew on a button, so I’m super impressed with her!

I’ve been working my way through The Gilmore Girls on Netflix and loving every minute of it.  Here’s a fun drinking game to play while watching.  Of course, the drink of choice is coffee.  If you’re a Gilmore Girls fan, you know why.

And that reminds me that I’ve picked up an afternoon coffee habit in the last few weeks.  I’m not sure that’s a good thing, but I don’t think it’s a terrible thing either.  So I’ll probably stick with it.

A 6 foot 4 inch cow!  Wow!  Blosom is huge.  So huge, she’s now listed as the Guinness World Record holder for largest cow.

Mia and I were excited to hear a shout out to homeschoolers on Wednesday’s CNN Student News during the roll call!  We love watching the student news everyday during lunch.

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Gluten Free Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls – My friend, Lynn at Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures has developed a gluten free cinnamon roll recipe.  She’s been working on this for a while, and has had success!  Happy day for gluten free people!

Do you ever feel liked you’ve been smacked by Daylight Savings Time?  This video is hilarious!

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20 Muffin Recipes – Savory and Sweet

20 Muffin Recipes - Savory and Sweet

I love muffins of all kinds. They are such an easy way to have a homemade baked treat. And they work just as well for breakfast and brunch as they do for snacks and even dinner.

This is a list of all the muffins I have on my site, as of this writing. Some of the photos and recipes are old. I’ve learned a lot since I started this food blog.

But even though some of the pictures aren’t very pretty, the recipes work. Many of those first attempts at food photos are the recipes I go to the most often. They’re hard working basics.

One thing you may notice is that I rarely use paper liners when I bake muffins. I prefer to grease the pans instead. It gives the muffins an exterior that contrasts with the fluffy texture of the insides. And you don’t have to mess with with peeling off the papers. [Read more…]

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Slow Cooker Black Bean and Salsa Chicken with Cornbread Dressing

Slow Cooker Black Bean and Corn Salsa Chicken with Cornbread Dressing

4 ingredients.  The slow cooker does the work.  And my kids actually said “Wow!” when they tasted it!

This recipe for Black Bean and Corn Salsa Chicken with Cornbread Dressing is a definite winner!

The base recipes starts with something very familiar to you – chicken in the slow cooker with a jar of salsa.  I used black bean and corn salsa and started with frozen chicken tenders.

It gets interesting when you’re about ready to serve it.  Use the liquid in the slow cooker to add to a box of cornbread dressing mix.  This gives the dressing a big punch of flavor.

Top it all with shredded cheese and you have an easy winner for dinner!

Here’s what you’ll need:   [Read more…]

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Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie with a Ribbon of Salted Caramel and Gingersnap Crust

Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie with a ribbon of salted caramel and gingersnap crust

 

Pumpkin and vanilla ice cream come together in this easy dessert!

It’s no secret that I love ice cream.  So when I saw this recipe for Pumpkin Gingersnap Ice Cream Cake from Shutterbean, I wanted it.  She used pumpkin and vanilla ice creams to make a loaf shaped cake with gingersnap crumbs in between the layers. (I love the buttery way she treated the cookie crumbs!)  She also used pumpkin butter to up the flavor of the ice cream.

My first plan was to go with the Shutterbean recipe.  But I decided to go with a pie shape instead.  And I added salted caramel sauce  too.

This would make a great dessert for Thanksgiving.  Cold desserts don’t seem as heavy as other types of desserts for some reason.  Even when they are decadently sweet and rich, like this one.

The other beauty of this pie is that it can be made ahead of time.  That’s important, especially if you’re juggling a lot of other dishes for a big Thanksgiving dinner.  It also means that leftovers don’t need to go to waste, because it will last a long time in the freezer.

Here’s what you’ll need:    [Read more…]

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3 Things that Work in the Kitchen This Week – November 10

3 Things that work in the kitchen

 

1.  Car picnic

Our youngest is playing volleyball now.  So we finished soccer season and have picked up volleyball.  The season got off to a quick start with two out of town games on Monday and Tuesday.

I hate to admit this – again – but I had no plan for Monday’s dinner.  And we had a soccer banquet that night too and I had no plan for that either.  (As my excuse, we had a lot of family in for the weekend and my focus was entirely on that.)  This lack of plan meant we grabbed fast food Monday night.

And I was determined not to do that again on Tuesday.

So I grilled some chicken in the afternoon, cooled it, sliced it and added it to tossed salad.  Easy. Nutritious.  Packable.  We ate it in the car between volleyball games.  So, so much better than fast food.

2.  Chicken marinating for the lazy and forgetful.

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I really like the way marinated chicken tastes better than plain.  But I don’t always plan ahead for that.  One way to do it is use the lazy freezer method.  That works great!

But I didn’t have any chicken in my freezer this time.  So I grabbed a bottle of Italian dressing and doused the chicken right before grilling.  While it was still in the package.  It worked great!

Don’t be afraid to try shortcuts.

3.  Pancake Supper + Grocery Shopping

Wednesday night Jim was gone.  I still hadn’t been to the grocery other than quick runs for one or two things.  Pancakes and sausage for dinner worked fine.

My go-to pancake recipe is this whole wheat one.  I have it memorized so it’s quick to fix.

On Thursday I made it to the grocery with a printed list from Weekly Meal Plans.  I used one of the Traditional lists for November.  I changed up the soup recipe on the list for a new soup idea (tried it, liked it, sharing it soon).  I also added ingredients for a Thanksgiving dessert recipe idea. Hopefully, it will turn out and I’ll share that one soon too.

The color coding on the grocery lists makes swapping things out so easy!

What’s working in your kitchen this week?

 

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