Turkey Chili in Tortilla Bowls…

Today is my baby brother’s birthday. He is 33 years old today and I can’t believe it. What happened to that little boy who used to leave his legos all over the stairs? The boy who insisted on watching the Transformers cartoon for hours on end? He has grown into a man that I am very proud to call my brother. A loving father, husband, son, brother and provider.

Happy Birthday, Jon Jon, from T.T. I love you!

Speaking of birthdays, Brittany turned 11 years old earlier this month and she asked for a very unusual item – a Tortilla Bowl maker. She had seen a commerical on TV earlier this summer while visiting her Grandma and she really wanted it for her birthday. Well, it showed up at our house about a week ago and Brittany couldn’t wait to use it. When I saw that I had Chili on the menu for tonight, I told her that we would serve it in the tortilla bowls and she was so super excited. She even offered to make the bowls for all of us and they were very simple and very tasty. I also have Brittany to thank for today’s photo. Often in the rush to get dinner on the table, I forget to take a picture until we are picking up our forks. I am thankful to Brittany for trying to remember to get the shot.

The chili recipe is one that I tweaked to our taste. I had gotten free Progresso Recipe Starter in Fire Roasted Tomato and I knew I wanted to use that in making the chili. You can adjust this recipe to your tastes including adding onion and increasing or decreasing the spices. I add leftover rice from the day before and I put a small scoop of that in the bottom of each tortilla bowl before ladling the chili over it. The rest of the family also opted to sprinkle shredded colby-jack cheese on top of their chili bowls but you could also add sour cream or salsa. I ate the leftovers over Fritos for lunch the next day. Use your imagination and have fun!

Turkey Chili 

  • INGREDIENTS

    • 1 lb ground turkey
    • 1/4 cup green peppers
    • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
    • 1 can (15 oz each) great northern beans, (drained and rinsed)
    • 1 can (18 oz) Progresso™ Recipe Starters™ fire roasted tomato cooking sauce
  • DIRECTIONS

    1. In 4-quart saucepan, cook ground turkey and green pepper over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until turkey is brown and the green pepper is soft; drain.
    2. Stir in chili powder and cumin. Stir in beans and cooking sauce. Heat to simmering, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low; cook about 15 minutes or until thickened.

Chicken and Dressing…

I know that is a Turkey not a chicken but he was just too cute...

I think this is a Paula Dean recipe just by looking at the name but I am not sure of that. I am really bad about copying down recipes but forgetting where I got them from. I intentionally waited to have this recipe until after I made cornbread for something so that I would have leftover to use. Yummy! Although in our house, John and I will just eat leftover cornbread for breakfast or a snack with some honey or jam on it. No need to worry about it going to waste. I made this in two pans and froze one of them for a future dinner.

Grandma Dean’s Chicken and Dressing

Yield: Makes 2 casseroles

  • Cook time: 1 hour
  • Prep time: 29 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 (2 1/2-pound) rotisserie chicken, skinned, boned, and shredded (about 4 cups)
  • 6 cups coarsely crumbled cornbread
  • 7 (1-ounce) firm white bread slices, torn into pieces
  • 2 (14-ounce) cans chicken broth
  • 2 (10 3/4-ounce) cans cream of chicken soup
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 celery ribs, chopped
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons ground sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened

Preparation

Combine first 11 ingredients in a large bowl. Transfer mixture to two lightly greased casserole dishes. Cover one, label and place in freezer. Dot the other evenly with butter and cover.

Bake at 350 degrees covered for 45 mins and then remove cover and bake until brown (approx. 15 mins).

 

Tiffany’s Notes: This is so delicious, especially with the cold weather outside. John suggested serving this with a side of sweet potatoes because it reminded us so much of the flavors of Thanksgiving. I subbed 1 can of cream of mushroom soup for the cream of chicken because that is what I had. I left out the celery and cut down the onion (just our preference). I also used a butter substitute instead of the real thing since I don’t do dairy. Next time I think I will bake it without and see how that turns out.

Menu Plan Monday 11/26/2012

Thanksgiving has come and gone and Christmas is less than a month away! Where does the time go? I feel like it was just Christmas. We normally decorate for Christmas the weekend after Thanksgiving but didn’t get a chance to put up the Christmas decorations yet. The plan is to get them up on December 1st which is also the day Brittany marches with the Girl Scouts in her first Christmas parade. They requested that she dress as a Girl Scout cookie. Say what? Yes, a cookie. I am not sure that we will go for that, we just might “forget” that was suppose to happen.

Dinner Menu Plan

Sunday: Turkey Chili served in Tortilla Bowls (shout out to Mom who sent these for Brittany’s birthday, they are very fun!)

Monday: Grandma Deen’s Chicken and Dressing Casserole

Tuesday: Beef Stew with cornbread muffins

Wednesday: Herb Crusted Pork Chops, Stove Top Stuffing, Cinnamon Apples

Thursday: Chicken Quesadillas, Rice

Friday: Linguini w/Clam Sauce and Garlic Bread (we didn’t have this last week so we are going to try for this week)

Saturday: Easy Marsala Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Broccoli

 

Pumpkin Ginger Cupcakes…

Happy Thanksgiving from my family to yours!

Thanksgiving is today and I wanted to make a dessert that would have the traditional flavors of the holiday but would also travel well since we are making a 6 hour trip to be with family.  My friend, Erika, sent me a recipe about a month ago from Allrecipes.com for a pumpkin ginger cupcake and it seemed like a perfect dessert to take.  The best part is that in the notes, it says you can reduce down the amount of butter and replace it with applesauce. Winner!

These are easy to make and baked up beautifully. I had some spray vanilla icing that I got on clearance at Target after Halloween that I decorated them with. I only decorated a few sample cupcakes today (some for Erika, of course!) and the rest I will leave undecorated until we get to my Grandma’s house. I have to say that without icing these seem just like pumpkin muffins but I figured that the difference between a cupcake and a muffin is really just the icing on top.

Like my Thanksgiving placemat? That too was an Erika find. She found 8 of them at a yard sale and we each got 4. What a great friend to have!

 

Pumpkin Ginger Cupcakes

 

Rated:
Prep Time: 20 Minutes Ready In: 1 Hour 30 Minutes
Submitted By:OVIEDOGIRL Cook Time: 20 Minutes Servings: 24

“Delicious, light and fluffy! These taste of Fall, and the crystallized ginger gives then a lovely little zing. Even people who don’t like pumpkin love these cupcakes. These disappear as fast as I can set them out!”

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups all-purpose flour1 (3.4 ounce) package instantbutterscotch pudding mix2 teaspoons baking soda1/4 teaspoon salt1 tablespoon ground cinnamon1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/3 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger1 cup butter, room temperature1 cup white sugar1 cup packed brown sugar4 eggs1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease 24 muffin cups, or line with paper muffin liners. Whisk together the flour, pudding mix, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ground ginger, allspice, cloves, and crystallized ginger in a bowl; set aside.
2. Beat the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar with an electric mixer in a large bowl until light and fluffy. The mixture should be noticeably lighter in color. Add the room-temperature eggs one at a time, allowing each egg to blend into the butter mixture before adding the next. Beat in the vanilla and pumpkin puree with the last egg. Stir in the flour mixture, mixing until just incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared muffin cups.
3. Bake in the preheated oven until golden and the tops spring back when lightly pressed, about 20 minutes. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes before removing to cool completely on a wire rack.

Grouponiversary…

This is our 17th anniversary last year. We do the same goofy pose every year - it's a tradition!

John and I will celebrate our 18th wedding anniversary this month and we are doing it in high style but without a high price tag. According to Google, porcelain is the contemporary gift for the 18th anniversary but I disagree. I believe the Groupon is the new contemporary gift for any anniversary, especially when you have been married as long as we have. There are three elements to our anniversary celebration – where to sleep, where to eat and what to do. Groupon to the rescue!

Where to stay:

We try to go somewhere overnight every year for our anniversary. It just gives us a little time to connect and remember that we are people first, not just parents. The past 2 years, we have gone to Gatlinburg, TN. When deciding where to go this year, we thought about returning to Gatlinburg or maybe Asheville or even Nashville. We set a certain budget and our trip has to fit inside the budget and within a certain drive time. Our budget does not allow for airline tickets and John doesn’t feel comfortable with us being that far from the kids when they are still young. Because we have been saving for a car, we decided to keep this years trip simple and close to home. So, we are headed to beautiful downtown Atlanta!

Once we had decided on a location, I began to search for a hotel and things to do. It was shortly after that when I began to notice the Groupon deals. The first deal was for a downtown Atlanta hotel for $85/night. That fit nicely in our limited budget. It is a beautiful hotel with breathtaking views of the downtown skyline. We have never stayed here before but we have been in the hotel a few times and have been impressed so I am excited to try it out.

What to do:

Next I began looking for things to do using Groupons. I found several cool things to do – a segway tour of Atlanta (too expensive!) and a tour of a local brewery (not open on Mondays!) were at the top of my list. But then I saw a Groupon that hit all my buttons – Under the lights at the Atlanta Botanical Garden! One of John’s favorite painting is Van Gogh’s Starry Night and the Atlanta Botanical Garden was recreating that night scene in their Christmas lights display this year – perfect!

 

Where to eat: 

There are a total of 2 lunches, 1 breakfast and 1 dinner during our one night anniversary celebration. We had already decided to eat dinner at Hard Rock Cafe since that is where we met almost 20 years ago. But that left 3 meals unaccounted for – Groupon to the rescue! I began to scour the daily deals that flooded my inbox and weed through all the restaurants. I think that most of the daily deals that come through are for some kind of eating establishment or another. I had certain criteria that I wanted met – it had to taste good, be inexpensive and sound somewhat interesting (Chick-fil-A has it’s place but not during our adventure, thank you!) The first one I grabbed was for breakfast at a little place about a mile from our hotel. The menu showed lots of different choices and none of them were more than $6. It even had one of John’s favorite, Chicken and Waffles, which I took as a sign that it was the one. The next one was a lunch place called Smashburger. This is a limited franchise operation that I have been to once before and had some really interesting burgers on the menu. I got a $12 Groupon for $6 which should cover most of our lunch (plus I snagged a $2 coupon off their website that I plan on using too). That only leaves 1 lunch that I am still looking for. All total our meals should ring in less than $75 total and I even have a free Starbucks beverage on my giftcard waiting to be used. Score!

This sounds like a great Grouponiversary and I am very excited to be off on our journey. Who knows? I might even be brave enough to do the Groupon Roulette wheel for our next date night – this is where you go on a date to whatever Groupon comes up next – who knows what you will get?. Happy Grouponiversary to us!

Menu Plan Monday 11/12/12…

Happy Veterans Day to everyone who served in the military (and their families)! Thank you for the sacrifice you made for our freedom. This morning we attended a Veteran’s Day ceremony at my daughter’s school. She sang several patriotic melodies and even got a speaking part! We were very proud of her and proud of all the Veterans who attended. Here she is during her speaking part (she is in red), excuse the bad picture, it wasn’t the best angle…

Now, here is the menu plan for this week. We have a few nights that we will be out of the house with Cub Scouts but I tried to plan around that.

Dinner Menu Plan

Sunday: Chicken Quesadillas, Rice, Apple slices

Monday: Sesame Chicken, Rice, Greenbeans

Tuesday: Meatloaf, Roasted Rosemary Sweet Potatoes, Fried Okra

Wednesday: Chicken and Rice casserole, salad

Thursday: Chicken and Dumplings

Friday: Linguine w/Clam Sauce (new recipe, let’s see if the kids will eat it)

Saturday: Easy Marsala Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Broccoli

Family Game Night…

We love to play board games as a family. It is an inexpensive way for us to do something together and just spend time with one another. With homework, friends and sports practices, we have not had a lot of free time to spend together.

But even our favorite board games can become “bored” games when you have played them over and over again. I have been looking for new board games at the various yard sales that I have been at lately. This past weekend I scored with two new games – Wits & Wagers and Junior Edition Trivial Pursuit. Wits & Wagers is a new game for us but I am a big fan of Trivial Pursuit. One of my best memories from my childhood is sitting next to my dad watching Jeopardy. This game takes me back to that time and a love of useless knowledge that I shared with my dad.

We sat down and played Wits and Wagers with the kids last week. It was so much fun! The premise of the game is guessing the answer to a question and betting who has the closest answer without going over. All the answers are numerical and the questions are trivial (ie. How many steps does the Empire State building have?). The best part about this is that you don’t have to be a genius to hazard a guess at the right number. And you can get the answer wrong every time and as long as you are good at betting, you can still win. It was a great teaching tool for helping the kids learn that you have a take a chance in life and sometimes it pays off and sometimes it doesn’t.

I also just purchased the kids edition of Apples 2 Apples for $1 at a yard sale. This is such a fun and easy game to play. The kids, John and I had such a great time playing it and Brittany even got it out to play with her friends at her birthday party. It spurs lots of conversation and plenty of laughter.

So, turn off the TV and go find a board game. Or even just a deck of cards. Teach the kids a new game that you played as a kid or learn one together. It will be sure to add a deeper closeness to your family.

Menu Plan Monday 11/5/2012…

My sweet amazingly creative daughter turns 11 today! I can’t believe that she is already that old. Where do the years go? I swear just yesterday we were bringing her home from the hospital. And now she is going to be going to middle school next year! Geez!

Britt and John at school eating lunch for her 11th birthday. She is growing out her 'stache for Movember.

In our house, the birthday person gets to choose the restaurant they want to eat at for their birthday. For as long as I can remember, Brittany has chosen a local chinese restaurant. Well, this year she has decided she wants to change it up to…Golden Corral. I am not sure if it is the cotton candy or chocolate fountain or all you can eat buffet but she has set her mind on there.

Dinner Menu Plan

Sunday: Unbelievable Grilled Chicken, Fried Okra, Rice

Monday: Golden Corral (for Brittany’s birthday)

Tuesday: Sesame Chicken, Steamed Rice, Steamed Broccoli

Wednesday: Baked Spaghetti & Meatballs (Cub Scouts meeting)

Thursday: Grilled Porkchops, Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Fruit

Friday: (Crockpot) Chili served over cornmeal waffles (saw this on Paula Deen so we will see how it is)

Saturday: Fend for yourself (John and Josh are motorcycle racing and Britt has a birthday party)

A Birthday Party Mystery…

My oldest will be 11 tomorrow and we threw her birthday party yesterday. She and her friends had a great time and she said that it was the best birthday party that she has ever had. What we did was ultra fun and cost very little money. We had a Murder Mystery Dinner party! She loves to dress up, act out a part and most of all direct other in their acting so this seemed like a perfect fit for her. We started the planning 6 weeks ago and bought almost everything either on clearance or at a yard sale.

First step, we purchased a box containing all the murder mystery moving parts. It came with a list of characters, dialog for each of them, a tape of narration (we had to burn it to CD) and invitations for 8 people. I found it new at a yard sale and paid $1. It got us started on our adventure.

Next, Brittany chose who she wanted to come to the party and what characters she wanted them to play. She chose her guests according to personality style and tried to match them with the personality or interests of the character they were playing. For example, Brittany chose one girl to play the part of a soccer player since she already plays soccer and we knew she would have a uniform she can wear. Our intent was to go as easy as possible on the guests and their parents for finding costumes for the party. We sent out invitations a month before the party so that everyone had time to find the costumes that they would need. It helped that Brittany’s birthday is less than a week after Halloween so there were plenty of items being marked down on clearance. A lot of our guests also found their costumes at the Goodwill or yard sales. I found the fur that Brittany is wearing for $1 at a local yard sale.

For decorations, we used what we had or could find. The mystery box had ideas for decorating but Brittany decided to use a theme of green, white and red – the colors of the Italian flag. She made a paper chain using those colors and draped it from the ceiling (with her dad’s help). We them gathered up both a white and green tablecloth and put them on the dining room table. I added a red felt scarf down the middle to give us a pop of color. Brittany set the table with our best plates, napkins and silverware. I had found 8 light up plastic wine glasses at the yard sale for $1. The girls loved drinking from those and they each got to take their light up glass home with them as part of the party favor.

For goody bags, I hit the clearance sections of Target. I normally can find Halloween clearance to use for Brittany’s goodies bags but this year the selections seemed slim. Luckily, I found some party favors on clearance in a an end cap a few weeks ago and made most of the goody bags with that. I was able to make 8 goody bags for about $10 total (including the wine glasses mentioned above).

Food is often an expensive part of the party but this year it was easy peasy. There were several menu options available in the booklet that came with the mystery box. Being that the party was set in an Italian restaurant, we just made Brittany’s favorite Italian meal – spaghetti, meatballs and garlic bread. Here is the food breakdown, all bought on sale over the last few weeks:

Box of spaghetti noodles: $.60
Jar of spaghetti sauce: $1.25
Bag of salad: $1.50
2 loaves garlic bread: $2.50
Olives: $2
Frozen Meatballs (1 1/2 bags): $5

Total meal to feed 8 girls (and 4 family members): $12.85

As for the cake, Brittany and I made it ourselves. I had found a picture of a spaghetti and meatballs cake here on Food Network and she loved it. We used donut holes for the meatballs, red glitter icing for the spaghetti sauce, regular icing (tinted yellow) for the noodles and boxed white cake mix (bought on sale, of course!). The entire cake was under $5 to make. What a bargain!

It is more work and stress to throw a birthday party yourself but the results are well worth it. You are able to plan the party to your exact specifications and do it on a budget. The key is the start the planning early and be on the lookout for the parts you need to make it work. And most of all, be flexible, and remember that is really all about celebrating a milestone.

Chicken Pot Pie…

This is an easy go to recipe when you are short on time but need to put a meal on the table. I boil the chicken breast and then shred it for easy use. I also reserve some chicken breast to make a homemade chicken salad for my lunch the next day – kinda like killing two birds (chickens) with one stone. This serves my family of 4 with enough for either an extra helping or a lunch leftover the next day. You can also add some cheese to the chicken mixture if you want to add some extra cheesy gooeyness.

Impossibly Easy Chicken Pot Pie
Bettycrocker.com 

1 cup frozen mixed vegetables
1 cup cut-up cooked chicken
1 can (10 3/4 ounces) condensed cream of chicken soup
1 cup Original Bisquick® mix
½ cup milk
1 egg

1.     Heat oven to 400ºF. Mix vegetables, chicken and soup in ungreased glass pie plate, 9×1 1/4 inches.

2.     Stir together remaining ingredients with fork until blended. Pour into pie plate.

3.     Bake 30 minutes or until golden brown.