Thursday, July 29, 2010

Banana Chocolate Chip Pecan Pancakes

I know - it's a long name. But I wanted to make sure to mention all three key players because they are all noticed and they are all the stars of the show - a great ensemble, if you will!

Have you ever made pancakes from scratch? It's completely worth the extra steps! The just-add-water stuff definitely has its place in our kitchen, but when I'm feeling like giving it a little more love, scratch is the way I go!


I didn't take a picture of all the ingredients because... well, maybe it's because I'm lazy. I think it's probably more that I'm so anal about not having a cluttered work space that the thought of pulling everything out for a pic, putting it all away & then pulling each thing out one at a time as I use it/put it away - the extra work just didn't appeal to me! LOL So - ya. I guess we'll call it lazy.

In a medium bowl mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder & salt. Set it aside.

In another bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, vanilla, butter & sugar.

Now grab the dry ingredients, make a well & slowly pour in the liquid you just whisked up.

It'll be way more than your well can hold, but just go with it. Don't over mix this - just get it all combined & smooth out most of the chunks of powder.

Now add in your diced banana, mini chocolate chips & diced pecans. Please note that I said MINI chocolate chips. You might think that there's really no difference between the minis & the regular ones so you'll just use the full-sized ones in your cupboard. Don't do it! Go buy the minis! The difference is that with big chips you'll get bites of chocolate. That's what you'll taste - is a big, melted chip. But if you get the minis, you get a hint of the chocolate flavor to compliment the bananas & pecans. Just do it. Trust me.

All right - batter's done! now let's get these babies cookin'!

Heat a skillet over medium heat & hit it with a shot of PAM. Use 1/4 cup of batter for each cake. Once it begins to get bubbles around the edges you know it's time to turn it.

FLIP! Mmm.... I'm getting excited!

Serve them up with some bananas, pecans or mini chips over the top, a drizzle of syrup or sprinkle of powdered sugar. You've got a cavity - I mean Heaven - on a plate!

Hellllloooooooo gorgeous!

Banana Chocolate Chip Pecan Pancakes

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup milk
3 Tbsp butter, melted
2 eggs
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 large banana, diced
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped pecans (I buy pecan chips)

Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder & salt in a big bowl. Set aside. In another bowl whisk together milk, eggs, melted butter, sugar & vanilla.

Make a well in your dry ingredients & slowly stir in the liquid. Don't over stir - just get it all combined. Fold in bananas, chips & pecans.

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Spray it with some Pam & drop on pancakes by the 1/4 cup full. Cook until bubbles show up around the edges & flip. Whenthe second side is done serve 'em up! Enjoy!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Cranberry Pineapple Jello Stuff

Can anyone help me think of a better name for this stuff? It's got marshmallows in it but they're melted down to sugar - so it's a side dish, not a dessert. It's made with Jello, but it's not really Jello-y. It's like chunky cranberry sauce. And it's awesome. Thank you to my sister-in-law, Sara, for sharing this recipe with me several years ago. It's a definite favorite!

Here is our cast of characters for this one:

Whole berry cranberry sauce, any RED Jello - I usually use black cherry, water, mini marshmallows & a can of crushed pineapple.

Start off putting your water, the jello & the marshmallow into a sauce pan. Heat over medium, stirring occasionally, until the marshmallows are melted/dissolved. Keep an eye on it, though, because it has a tendency to suddenly boil up/over & I'd hate for you to have a hot, sticky mess all over your stove top! Add cranberry sauce & melt it down, too. Sometimes the cranberry doesn't break up very well so i use a potato masher to help it along!

Now pour that into a 9x13 glass dish. Open up the pineapple - do NOT drain it - just pour it all into the jello mixture.

Give it all a good stir & then pop it into the fridge - for at least a few hours - I did it overnight.

Here it is when it's all good & done! It doesn't look like much but it sure is gooooood! Like I said above, it's not a dessert Jello thing - it's like a chunky pineapple/cranberry sauce.

Mmmmmm... Try it! You'll love it!

Cranberry Pineapple Jello:

1 6-oz box of red jello (black cherry, raspberry or cherry are great!)
1 cup mini marshmallows
2 cups water
1 16-oz can whole berry cranberry sauce
1 20-oz can of crushed pineapple

Mix Jello, water & marshmallows in a sauce pan over medium heat. Cook until it is all melted together. Add cranberry sauce & mix until it melts. Sometimes I use a potato masher to help break it up. Pour into a 9x13 dish & add in pineapple, undrained. Stir to combine & refrugerate a few hours, until set.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Weekly Menu, 7/26 - 8/01

Monday: Kielbasa coins, Jello dish, French bread, Caesar salad

Tuesday: Soft tacos, carrot sticks, cantaloupe

Wednesday: (Zac @ work) Banana chocolate chip pancakes, applesauce

Thursday: (Zac @ work) Chicken quesadillas, peaches

Friday: Sloppy Joes, corn, oven fries

Saturday: Zac's in charge tonight! No clue what it'll be, but I know it'll be good.

Sunday: Beef stroganoff over noodles, broccoli

Lemonade Pork Chops

I love pork chops. It's a good, lean, non-gristley meat that cooks easy & the kids love it. Win-win-win in this house. But! Unlike it's white-meat cousin, chicken, there seems to be a very short list of things people do with a pork chop. Leave it whole & then just grill it. Or bake it. Or coat it in breading & cook it. This is a great option for chop lovers looking for a new spin on this chunk of meat.

Here are our ingredients:

Frozen lemonade concentrate (thawed), soy sauce, garlic powder, season salt and, of course, chops!

Start out THE NIGHT BEFORE by putting the chops in a dish & poking them full of holes so they'll soak up the marinade you're about to make.

Now mix up the soy sauce, lemonade & seasonings in a bowl. Whisk them together & then pour it over the chops.

Cover it with some plastic wrap & throw them in the fridge over night. Flip them over in the morning.

Normally, I would cook these under the broiler but in the 10 minutes I was getting the baby down for his nap this afternoon my hubby lent our broiler pan to our neighbor! So we tried these out on our grill pan. Worked just as well!

It was about 6 minutes per side. I don't think I could recommend doing these in a flat-bottom pan - I would worry about the sugar in the lemonade burning the whole bottom of the chop before the chop ever cooked. So either a grill pan or a broiler pan set about 4 inches from the heat, for 5-7 minutes per side.

Yum, yum, YUM!!

How easy was that!!!???

Lemonade Pork Chops:

1/2 a can of frozen lemonade concentrate (6 ounces)
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 tsp season salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
4 pork chops

Place chops in a shallow dish & poke several times with a fork. In a small bowl, stir together remaining ingredients.

Pour mixture over chops, cover and place in fridge overnight. Turn chops over in the marinade in the morning.

Preheat broiler. Remove chops from marinade & place on a broiling pan. Broil about 4 inches from heat source for 5-7 minutes per side.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Peach Ice Cream

Happy Summer! Nothing says summer like ice cream... and peaches. So let's put them together & sit back in the shade while we indulge on this sweet, creamy, naturally delicious treat! You'll be glad you did. I promise.

Here are your ingredients:

Fresh peaches, heavy cream, half & half, sugar, vanilla, salt & eggs - but because I'm a mom of all these little ones & I'm kinda funny about raw eggs & the koodies they may-or-may-not have I use a pasteurized egg substitute. Also, you don't actually use the ice cream salt IN the recipe - you use it outside of the canister when you're freezing it up - but it needs to make it on your grocery list so I wanted to get it in the picture!

First step it to peel, pit & slice your peaches. Then get them into a bowl & mash the heck out of them with a potato masher. Or, if you're anti-chunks you can run them through a food processor or blender. Ideally, we're looking for mushy & liquidy with a few small chunks in it. Sorry - that would have been a perfect time for a picture, wouldn't it!!?? Fail.

Now mix all your ingredients in the canister portion of your ice cream maker & give it all a good stir.

There!!! There!!! Can you see the mushy, runny, but still chunky peaches? That's ideal.

Now just hook up your ice cream maker, according to the manufacturer's instructions. Mine has you fill it with layer after layer of ice & rock salt, all the way to the top of the canister.

Now go find something to do for the next half hour or so. But be sure to check on your sweet bit of Heaven every once in a while because the ice will melt down & you'll need to add some more to keep it full.

Waiting, waiting, waiting....... waiting a few more minutes. Ready? Are you sure you're ready? Because you're about to drool. I know you are. I'll give you a second to prepare.




Introducing: PEACH ICE CREAM! It's so smooth, creamy, perfectly sweet & just *Ahhhhhhhh*. Good.

The responsible thing would be to go get a bowl & serve yourself a reasonable amount... but if you just wanna grab the spoon & jump in I won't judge you for it.

Peach Ice Cream:

3 eggs, beaten - or 3/4 cup egg beaters
1 1/4 cup white sugar
5-6 fresh peaches, pitted, peeled & chopped
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups half & ha;f
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt

In a large bowl mix together eggs and sugar until smooth. Mash or puree your peaches & to yield about 2 1/2 - 3 cups. Add to mixture. Add cream, half & half, vanilla & salt. Mix well. Add it all to the canister of an ice cream maker & freeze according to manufacturer's instructions.

Weekly Menu, 7/19 - 7/25

This is kinda recover-from-vacation-week.... except that my hubby is still off on yet another adventure! Poor guy has only slept in his own bed 3 of the last 12 nights!

Monday: (drive home from California) Fried ham, pasta & green bean fries

Tuesday: Chicken enchiladas, corn & peaches

Wednesday: (Zac gone) Spaghetti, green beans & garlic bread

Thursday: (Zac gone) Chicken, corn & black bean tacos, tomalito

Friday: (Zac gone) Tuna Helper & crescent rolls

Saturday: Brown sugar meatloaf, silver dollars & peas

Sunday: Lemonade pork chops, carrot chips & parmesan pasta

Weekly Menu, 7/12 - 7/18

This was that crazy week we were either camping or out of town for just about every day... bit here's what we had in case you're looking for meal ideas! LOL

Monday: (camping) Hot dogs on skewers over the fire, cantaloupe

Tuesday: (camping) Tin foil dinners - Teriyaki chicken w/ veggies

Wednesday: (got home from camping at dinner time) Pizza, courtesy of Costco!

Thursday: (California) Spaghetti, salad, french bread

Friday: (California) Blueberry waffles, watermelon & bacon

Saturday: (California) ate at the wedding we went to

Sunday: (California) Tri-tip, corn on the cob, melon salad, pasta salad & garlic bread

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Chicken Enchiladas - the white girl way!

I'm not sure if there is anything even remotely authentic about these. But I can assure you - they are fantastic! Not your typical red sauce enchiladas - these are sauced up with a creamy sour cream/cream of chicken mixture. Oh - and lots of cheese!

Here's what we're using for this one:

Large tortillas, shredded cheddar/jack, diced green chilies, sour cream, cream of chicken & cooked, diced chicken.

First thing? Mix everything together, but reserve about 1/2 the can of soup & 1/2 a cup of cheese.

Then stir, stir, stir it all together. But don't let anybody stand behind you while you stir - they'll stare at your butt & tease you about it swaying side to side while you mix it all up!

Drop a blop of it onto a tortilla. I don't really know what a blop is - but it measures about 1/8 of the amount that is sitting in your bowl. How do you like that math!?

Spray a 9x13 pan with PAM Then roll the tortilla up & set it seam side down. Roll all 8 up & get them all lined up in your pan.

Then spread the rest of the soup over the top & sprinkle with the rest of the cheese.

Now throw it all in the oven - at 350 degrees - for about 25-30 minutes. You're melting the cheese & blending all the flavors together inside the tortillas.

Now go pull them out & dig in! Actually - you should let them sit for about 10 minutes before you dig in or you'll hurt yourself. And I would hate to feel responsible for that. Muy caliente! (I think that's the most authentic Mexican thing on this whole post!! LOL)

MMmm...... DO YOU SMELL THAT!!?? Good stuff.

Ready for the most YELLOW dinner you have ever seen? Like when your preschooler comes home & says it's yellow day at school you should do this dinner in celebration. Ready? ..... READY!??? It's almost comical how monochromatic this all is. So unpleasing to the eye... but delicious so I'm comfortable with it!

Chicken Enchiladas:

3 Chicken breasts, cooked & shredded or diced
8oz Sour cream
3 Tbsp diced green chili (from a can)
1 can Cream of chicken soup
2 1/2 cup Cheddar Jack cheese, shredded
8 large flour tortillas

Mix everything except about 1/2 the can of soup & 1/2 cup of the cheese. Spoon the mixture into tortillas, roll & lay seam-side down in a greased 9x13 dish. Spread extra soup over the top of enchiladas & sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Sorry for the drought!

Sorry for the lack of posting - we went camping for a few days, got home, unpacked, repacked & left the next morning for a trip out to California! And that's where we are right now..... I promise when we get home (Monday night) I'll get back in the kitchen & whip up some awesome goodies for you to drool over! Hope you're all staying cool in this blazing summer heat!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Happy Birthday, Nolan!

My little Nolan turned FIVE back on the 1st of July & we finally had his big friend-party this afternoon. His request? Perry the Platypus! He's a character on the cartoon Phineas & Ferb. He's an unassuming pet platypus that doubles as a secret agent - Agent P!

Here's the cake - in Agent P mode:

Not perfect but enough to put a smile on my BIG BOY's face!

I love you, NOlan! YOu are such a happy ray of sunshine. You have a smile & a personality that makes everyone want to hug you! You have such an expressive face & make some of the most adorable furled brow / wide eyed / confused / mischievous / excited / joyful faces. I love you so so so much, Noley!! Hope you enjoyed your party.

Tortellini Veggie Toss

Zac's at work so I went easy tonight. Tortellini Veggie Toss!

Here's what we're using for this:

A jar of spaghetti sauce, frozen broccoli/cauliflower/carrots, cheese tortellini & shredded Parmesan cheese.

First you pour the sauce in a sauce pan & bring it to a boil over medium heat. Once it's bubbling (& spattering a mess all over your stove top!) pour in the bag of frozen veggies.

Give it a good stir & then cover it. Let it go for 10 minutes, stirring a time or two.

While that is simmering get the tortellini cooked - according to package directions. Mine was boiled in water with some olive oil poured in - 7 to 9 minutes.

Once the pasta is cooked & the sauce is all simmered up drain the tortellini & then toss it all together.

Serve it up with some Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top. Because it was a lazy no-Daddy dinner we just had a Caesar salad with it - nothing too fancy!


Tortellini Veggie Toss

1 jar spaghetti sauce (gor for a move savory one - not the sweeter one)
1 16-oz bag frozen broccoli, cauliflower/carrots
1 package cheese tortellini
shredded Parmesan cheese

Cook the pasta & drain. While it's going bring the sauce to a boil over medium heat. Pour the veggies into the boiling sauce & cover. Let it simmer for 10 minutes, stirring a time or two. Once it's all cooked toss it together. Top with some Parmesan & dig in!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Weekly Menu, 7/5 - 7/11

Monday: (Zac @ work) Cold cereal

Tuesday: Grilled chicken, Parmesan pasta, corn

Wednesday: (Aces' game until 5 & Zac @ scouts) Steaks, garlic green beans, french bread

Thursday: (Feeding missionaries from church) Pulled pork, watermelon, broccoli

Friday: (Zac @ work) Tortellini/veggie toss, Caesar salad

Saturday: (Zac @ work) English muffin pizzas, carrot sticks w/ Ranch

Sunday: (Zac @ work) Parmesan crusted chicken, cranberry jello salad, sweet potato fries

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Caramel Corn

For my family, it's just not the 4th of July without CARAMEL CORN!! So, of course that's what I made this afternoon! There are lots of different ways to make caramel corn - some people (Hubby & his family) like the sticky, gooey stuff that sticks to your teeth - I'm more of a Cracker Jack crunchy caramel corn sort of a girl! That's what this one is - sweet, crunchy deliciousness!!

I didn't get a pic of my ingredients so I'll just list them out:

Popcorn, brown sugar, Karo, salt, margarine, baking soda & vanilla.

First step is to pop your popcorn! Leave it plain - just air pop it. Then split it into 2 pans that have been sprayed with PAM. Set it aside while you make the caramel mixture.

In a medium sauce pan combine the sugar, Karo, margarine & salt. Bring it to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Once it boils stir it continually for 5 minutes.

After the 5 minutes are up add baking soda & vanilla. Then immediately pour it over the popcorn. Just eyeball it - half & half between your 2 pans.

Give it all a good stir to spread the caramel around. Don't worry too much about getting it even - you'll be stirring it a few times & the caramel will get spread around pretty well.

Now pop those babies into an oven, set to 250. Let them go for 45 minutes, stirring at 15-minute intervals.

(Notice there's a lot of white popcorn in there - not overly stirred - no biggie!)

Once the 45 minutes are up (& you've stirred it at minute 15, 30 & 45) spread it onto a wax paper-covered counter top & break the chunks up with a wooden spoon. Let it cool completely. Notice how the caramel is now spread over it all!? Perfect!

Then load it all up into your ziplock bags or whatever air-tight container you have laying around. Mmmmmm.......

This recipe fills up 2 gallon-sized ziplock bags. Who's ready for some fireworks!!!??

Caramel Corn:

1 cup of popcorn kernels, air popped
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup light Karo syrup
1 tsp salt
1 cup margarine
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla

Place the popped popcorn into 2 shallow greased baking pans. You can use roasting pans, glass cake pans or even those foil disposable pans.

Preheat the oven to 250. Combine the brown sugar, corn syrup, margarine & salt in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring enough to blend. Once the mixture begins to boil, boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat and stir in the baking soda & vanilla. The mixture will be light & foamy. Immediately pour over the popcorn in the prepared pans & stir to coat. Don't worry too much, at this point, about getting all the popcorn coated.

Bake for 45 minutes, removing the pans & giving them each a good stir every 15 minutes. Line the counter with wax paper. Dump the corn onto the paper & separate the pieces. Allow to cool completely. Store in air-tight containers or resealable plastic bags.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Chicken Alfredo Penne with Broccoli

One of my friends (thank you, Kristi!) posted this on her blog & I thought it sounded good so we tried it out at our house! She's not a measurement sort of a girl so I had to guess on amounts - and I think I was a bit off in some areas. I'll say what I used and then what I think we'll try next time.

Here's our group of ingredients:

Penne, broccoli, Parmesan, Alfredo & some cooked chicken (not pictured).

I grilled the chicken on the stovetop while the pasta boiled & the broccoli steamed. If you have leftover chicken or canned chicken or those pre-cooked strips you could use those, too. Whatever you have, just dice it up into bites.

I cooked up 6-7 of those frozen chicken tenders.

Boil up your pasta & steam your broccoli. I have a nifty pot that is made for boiling pasta - and it has a steaming basket that sits on top, too, so I just did it all together.

Heat up your Alfredo sauce & then just mix it all together!

Top it with some shredded Parmesan & call it done! We put it with Caesar salad & peaches tonight. Who knew my kids would inhale their salads the way they did tonight!!?? I think we found a new 'veggie' to add into the rotation!

I used 1 jar of Alfredo sauce, 1 box of pasta, maybe 4 cups of broccoli & probably 2 cups of cooked chicken. I didn't think it was saucy enough so I think next time I'll either just use 1/2 a box of pasta (which would be plenty for our family) or use more of EVERYTHING else.... which would give tons of leftovers.

Also, the gal at the grocery store check out was saying this is something she likes to make but she uses steamed green beans instead of broccoli. Sounds good to me!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Honey French Toast

It's been far too long since I posted a recipe with pictures! So let's not dilly dally & fill this header with idle chatter - let's just dive right into tonight's dinner - Honey French Toast! (It was Nolan's 5th birthday tonight so I made sure we had a special yummy dinner for him!)

What are we using tonight?

Milk, bread, honey, cinnamon, vanilla, salt, eggs & butter.

Mix up the eggs, milk, honey, vanilla, salt & cinnamon in a shallow dish. I use a pie plate. It just works really well. But you do what you want to do - just make sure you can mix the stuff well & have room to dip your bread.

Whisk, whisk, whisk!

Set your pan on Med-Low & melt some butter onto it. We don't want too much heat on these because the honey will burn before the egg cooks up on the toast. Then dip your bread, one slice at a time & plop it onto your griddle/skillet.

Let it go for a few minutes (like a solid 5) & flip once the bottom side gets a good golden color on it. Cook the second side until it's done.

Let me just jump in here with a kitchen tip for you. If you're making pancakes, waffles, french toast, etc.... and you need to cut them into bites for a bunch of little mouths - use a pizza cutter! Works SO well to make perfect, un-torn bites very quickly. Do it. You'll become a believer.

Now throw it on a plate with some good pan fried sausage & fresh fruit (we had watermelon tonight) and you have yourself a delicious dinner! Make sure to pour yourself a tall glass of milk. Ahhhhhhh......!! Makes my tummy happy.

Honey French Toast

8 slices of bread (I usually just use good old sandwich bread)
4 eggs
1/2 cup milk or cream
4 Tbsp honey
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
4 Tbsp butter

In a shallow dish beat together eggs, milk, honey, salt, cinnamon & vanilla.

In a griddle or frying pan, melt the butter over medium-low heat.

Dip both sides of the bread into the egg mixture & carefully transfer to the hot griddle. Brown on both sides and transfer to a warm plate while you cook the remaining slices. Serve hot with a little butter & some syrup!

**NOTE: the lower the cooking temp the better (just takes a little longer!) so that the honey does not burn!