46 / 52 : “Balloons”

What is it about those colorful, drifting ovals? Light as air, tied to a string, static electricity, happy decor, joyful atmosphere – it just isn’t a birthday around here without a flock of floating fun. This year my little boy is a big man…sigh… We celebrated with just the four of us and went out to dinner, per the birthday boy’s request, to Chick-fil-A. I made him a chocolate chip cookie cake. YUM. It was nice.

46 / 52 : “Balloons”

Balloons

I love a birthday. I love planning them, I love photographing, participating, celebrating, eating, gift-giving…it is a beautiful thing. Last night I decorated the house a bit so the birthday kid would wake up to find streamers, balloons, signs, etc… It was precious to hear little feet trot down the hall, then little voices say, “Mommy! There is a birthday out there!” Makes staying up late WORTH. IT.

Birthday boy

Here is the most handsome child I have ever seen with his cookie cake. I found the recipe here, via Pinterest, then embellished it with a little icing and sprinkles. It is reaaaaaally good. I had always wanted to make a giant chocolate chip cookie!

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For Dinner

Thought I would share a bit of yummy. A sort of unspoken “new year’s resolution” of mine was to be more creative in the kitchen. I didn’t really plan on it, but it has happened and I am having a lot of fun drowning in all kinds of recipes. I find them in magazines, pinterest, email, blogs, websites, word of mouth, etc… love all kinds of recipes! Usually, I make at least one or two new meals a week. It has made dinners fun, well, maybe not for my picky children…haha…

My favorite type of recipe is one that does not have a lot of rare/uncommon ingredients, simple directions, fresh ingredients and one that offers substitutions and options. I found my dinner recipe off of the Kraft Foods website. Their recipes rarely fail me and they usually uphold all of my qualifications for a “good recipe.”

I provided the link to the recipe above, but I tweaked it a tiny bit, so here is what I made for dinner tonight:

Broccoli & Cheddar Quiche

  • 1 1/2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped fresh broccoli
  • 1 1/4 cups chopped vidalia onion
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/3 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup skim milk
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 frozen deep-dish pie crust (9-in)

Heat oven to 375.

Cook vegetables in skillet sprayed with cooking spray on medium heat for 5 minutes or until crisp-tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

Beat eggs, mayonnaise, and milk in a medium bowl with a whisk until well blended. Stir in vegetable mixture and cheese; pour into pie crust. Place on a baking sheet.

Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until center of quiche is set and top is golden brown. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing to serve.

Hello YUM! I was so excited because it actually cooked properly and tasted fantastic! Things I make for the first time don’t always come out cooked the way they should…but this did! I love finding and making really good meatless meals. This is only a semi-healthy meal, but it was tasty! Try and enjoy if you’d like 🙂

 

Crock Pot Recipe

Here is the recipe I tried out last night, if anyone is interested. I originally found it on Pinterest through another blogger (www.skinnytaste.com). Now, I don’t know if I have some sort of super crock pot, but most recipes I try out in it usually take about half the time they are supposed to. So for me, the recipe took about 3 1/2 hours, but I was able to use the “keep warm” function to not let it overcook until dinner time. I served it over brown rice and it was really good!

Crock Pot Santa Fe Chicken

  • 24 oz (1 1/2) lbs chicken breast
  • 14.4 oz can diced tomatoes with mild green chilies
  • 15 oz can black beans
  • 8 oz frozen corn
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 14.4 oz can fat free chicken broth
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (to taste)
  • salt to taste

Combine tomatoes, beans, corn, cilantro, chicken broth, scallions, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, cayenne pepper and salt in the crock pot.
Season chicken breast with salt and lay on top.
Cook on low for 10 hours or on high for 6 hours. Half hour before serving, remove chicken and shred.
Return chicken to slow cooker and stir in.
Adjust
 salt and seasoning.
Serve over rice.

Follow-up: Recipes Tried

In case you are hungry for a very Mexican dish or a vegetarian pasta dish, the two I tried last week were a pretty good success!

First: Chicken Tortilla Bake


1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-in cubes
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp olive oil, divided
1 can (16 oz) refried beans
1 can (14 1/2 oz) diced tomatoes with mild green chilies, drained
8 flour tortillas (8 in), cut into 1-in strips
1 can (11 oz) Mexicorn, drained
2 cups (8 oz) shredded cheddar cheese

In a large skillet, saute the chicken, cumin and salt in 1 tbsp oil until chicken is no longer pink.

Combine the refried beans and tomatoes; spread 1 cup into a greased 11-in x 7-in baking dish. Top with 24 tortilla strips; layer with half of the corn, bean mixture, chicken and cheese. Repeat layers.

Using remaining tortilla strips make a lattice crust over filling; brush with remaining oil. Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted. Yield: 6 servings.

When I made it, my casserole dish was more of a 9-in square and I forgot to drain the tomatoes…but that didn’t seem to make a difference. It was interesting as I fudged around with making a lattice with cut up tortillas; it came out decent. All in all, it was basically a Mexcian lasagna and it was pretty tasty!

 

Second: Cheesy Broccoli Rigatoni

12 oz uncooked rigatoni or large tube pasta
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
2-1/2 cups fat free milk
5 cups fresh broccoli florets
2 cups (8 oz) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided

Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, saute garlic in butter over medium heat for 1 minute. Stir in flour and salt until blended. Gradually add milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat; set aside. Drain pasta and toss with oil; set aside.

In a large saucepan, bring 1 inch of water and broccoli to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 5-8 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain and rinse with cold water.

In a 13-in x 9-in baking dish coated with cooking spray, layer 1 cup white sauce, half of the pasta and broccoli and 1/2 cup cheese. Repeat layers. Top with remaining sauce and cheese.

Cover and bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until heated through. Yield: 10 servings.

With this recipe everything went great until I forgot the cooking spray (it didn’t seem to matter), then I realized that the broccoli needed to have already been cooked or done at the same time as the sauce. The recipe didn’t make that very clear…to me anyway. The sauce sat too long and thickened too much waiting for the broccoli to cook, so the dish was a little sticky in my opinion. Still tasted great though, the fresh broccoli made is soooo great!! The other thing was that the foil cover needed to come off for the last 5-10 minutes of cooking to really heat the dish through.

Neither recipe was hard to do as it is clear I am no chef. Try if you may and I’m sure you will enjoy!

Wednesday’s Word #10

New year, new name…back to the blog after a short break. The lovely Christmas break was not quite refreshing, it was very busy, but it was fun. So, my word for this week is:

“RECIPE”

noun: a set of instructions for making or preparing something, especially a food dish; a medical prescription; a method to attain a desired end, i.e. “a recipe for success” (dictionary.com)

synonyms: ingredients, prescription, method, compound, technique, process, instructions, program (thesaurus.com)

This may seem like a strange word, but all of its descriptions are very appropriate for me this week.

First, I love recipes…I’m obsessed. I love finding good recipes, planning meals, trying new foods and combinations – then following the recipes to a “T”. I am not very good at varying from the “set of instructions” so I just make sure that it is going to taste great by sticking to what has been done before. 95% of the recipes I try come out great. I make sure they come from a reliable source! One of my favorite Christmas gifts I received was from my wonderful brother and sis-in-law: Taste of Home: Casseroles by: Reader’s Digest. Wow…love it. I am trying my first recipe out of the book tomorrow…then another one the next day, not going to lie – I am pretty excited. I will have to post some pictures if they come out good!

Second, the year of 2011 was a pretty rough medical year for my family. There were glasses and eye issues, unexpected surgeries and an incurable disease…in just my immediate family. Unfortunately doctors, hospitals and medical prescriptions  have become the norm for us. We are praying that 2012 is, what I am hoping to call, “a year of healing” for various reasons.

Third, we took a major vacation to visit my family in Florida and my husband attended a required conference for his doctorate degree program while down there. It took a major planning “process” to get us all there starting on Christmas day….we definitely prayed for a “recipe for success.” HA HA It all went as smoothly as it possibly could, even better at some points! Prayer works, especially for two very long car rides with two small children in the back seat to go very well! Now it is just finding a “method” to get back to normal after Christmas and a long vacation…

Food, doctors, travel success…that wraps up this week. Praying for 2012 to be a great one for everyone!