What do I do with all these apples?

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Ok, it’s fall and that means lots and lots of pumpkins and apples. With the pumpkins, I cook them and freeze them but what do you do with the apples??

Make applesauce, of course!

And this isn’t your typical jarred store bought applesauce. If you have never had homemade applesauce, you haven’t had applesauce. Forget bland baby food smushieness. This is a rich, delicious, cinnamony delight!

So, here is the recipe:

Applesauce

8 large apples (whatever you have that you need to move out!), peeled, cored and quartered
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup apple juice
2 Tablespoons butter (optional, I leave it out since I am dairy free)

Mix all into a 6-8qt crockpot on low for 4 hours or high for 2 hours. Stir and break apart apples as much as you desire the chunkiness (I used a potato masher). It can be served warm or chilled. Yumtastic!

Menu Plan Monday 4/7/2014…

menu

This weekend finished up our Spring Break and it was nice to be back home. We went camping at Skidaway Island, GA for 2 days and then went to Hilton Head Island, SC for 2 days. It was a nice vacation but nothing beats being at home. The kids agree too. They both asked the last day of vacation when we were going to be back home.

Sunday: Grilled Chicken Panini, Roasted Rosemary Potatoes, Sautéed Zucchini
This is one of the kid’s favorite meals and the last time I made it, Josh missed dinner that night. He was so upset at missing these sandwiches that he asked to have them ASAP so he would get his. 

Monday:  Sloppy Joe Casserole, Leftover vegs from the fridge

Tuesday:
 (Crockpot) Salsa Chicken Tacos, Steamed Rice, Greenbeans
We have roller skating for Josh and swimming for Brittany on Tuesday and Thursday nights right now so it will have to be easy dinner for a while.

Wednesday: Chicken and Dumplings (for most of the family) and Matzoh Ball Soup (for me)
I have found that Dumplings upset my stomach but Matzoh Balls don’t – not sure why but I’m glad to figure that out

Thursday: Lasagna, Salad, Garlic Bread
I can make this early in the day and have it ready before we head out for sports. And it should provide enough leftovers for Josh to have before Airsoft on Friday night.

Friday: Chicken Gyros, Greek Roasted Potatoes
I’ll post this recipe soon, it is super yummy!

Saturday: Grilled Porkchops, Grilled Zucchini, Mac & Cheese
My mom and Mike are coming to visit us this weekend so we will be having a grilled meal that is easy and delicious. 

I am linking up with OrgJunkie.com, so be sure to check out that site for more Menu Plans to help you with getting dinner on the table!

Menu Plan Monday 3/25/2013…

menu

This was a quiet weekend for us. John and Josh were supposed to go camping but John came down with a mild flu on Friday and it had him down for the count. In 18 years of marriage, I bet John has only gotten sick (including a cold) only 2-3 times. It seemed weird to see him so taken down by something. He spent almost all day Friday and Saturday resting and trying to get his strength back. But luckily he was feeling better on Sunday when the next thing happened…

We added a new member to our family – a cute 3 year old Guinea Pig named Gloria. Brittany has been asking us for a Guinea Pig for months now (even leaving little brochures and notes in all kinds of places around the house), so we got her one. Gloria came from a free ad posting on Craigslist (which I think I am addicted to). We had to drive about an hour away to get her but she did come with everything she needs including food to last a month or so. Here she is…

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We are also began the process of looking for another car for me. We are almost to our savings goal for the car which means that it is time to begin the process. I have mixed feelings about this. I am very attached to my car since she has been with me for 11 years (and about 185,000 miles – she has 205k but we got her at 20k). She does have a few problems that it would be nice to be rid of (doors that don’t always open, windows that roll down and then get stuck,etc) but it is almost like she is part of our family. I have a feeling that it is going to be a lengthy process for me to find just the right ride for me, especially since I don’t really want to give up Betsy.

What do you drive? Do you love it? Does it have a name?

So, here is what we are eating this week…

Sunday: Papa Johns Pizza
I was planning on having Lasagna but getting the Guinea Pig took us past dinner time and the kiddies were hungry. Guess the free Guinea Pig really cost us $20 worth of pizza!

Monday:  Chicken and Rice, Broccoli
We have Cub Scouts tonight so this will be good to pop into the oven before then.

Tuesday: Spaghetti & Meatballs, Garlic Bread, Salad

Wednesday: Ritz Baked Chicken Nuggets, Honey Rosemary Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Garlic Sauteed Spinach

Thursday: Sesame Chicken, Steamed Rice, Broccoli
I’ll pick up some frozen potstickers and fortune cookies to round out this meal. Brittany has been asking for Egg Drop Soup, so I might make that too.

Friday: Chicken Parmesan, Spaghetti Noodles, Salad
John and I are taking the kids to a Good Friday Concert at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater thanks to our good friends the Ralphs! I am very excited!

Saturday: Cheeseburgers, Chips, Fruit
We are camping for Easter this year so this is something we will throw on the camping grill. I love the way food tastes outdoors!

I am linking up with OrgJunkie.com, so be sure to check out that site for more Menu Plans to help you with getting dinner on the table!

 

Monday Menu Plan on Tuesday 3/12/13…

menu

Yesterday got away from me and I didn’t take the time to post my Monday menu plan. So, here it is, only it is on Tuesday. Well, better late than never…

Our weekend was wonderfully warm and beautiful! John and I got in a long run on Saturday and then proceeded to accidentally sleep through church get up time on Sunday. We had forgotten to reset the bedroom clocks before bed on Saturday night, so when the alarm went off on Sunday morning, it was really an hour behind. The good thing about our church is that it is broadcast online so we didn’t miss out on the sermon but it still wasn’t the same as being there. I especially like to make sure the kids get into their small groups on Sunday and they can’t do that if we are at home in our pjs. But things like that happen and at least we have a backup plan.

What did you do this weekend? Did you remember to set your clocks?

Here is what we are eating this week…

Sunday: Chicken & Dressing Casserole, Steamed Broccoli, Mashed Potatoes
I made an extra one of these and took it to a friend who has a busy week this week. Friendships that include food are always the best kind!

Monday: Frozen Pizza, Salad, Apple Slices
I have a dinner with my ladies bible study group so John and kids ate a quick frozen pizza before Cub Scouts.  

Tuesday: (Crockpot) Salsa Chicken Hard Tacos, Rice, Greenbeans
This is a quick and easy meal for a busy night. We have to go out tonight and find both kids new running shoes. Not fun.

Wednesday: Chicken Penne Bake, Salad, Garlic Bread

Thursday: Sesame Chicken, Steamed Rice, Broccoli
I’ll pick up some frozen potstickers and fortune cookies to round out this meal. Brittany has been asking for Egg Drop Soup, so I might make that too.

Friday: Fried Catfish, Roasted Potatoes, Fried Okra
I didn’t get to buying fish last week so I will try again this week. I’ll buy whatever fish is on sale this week, so it may not be catfish.

Saturday: Unbelievable Grilled Chicken, Roasted Honey Rosemary Sweet Potatoes, Asparagus
We will also grill enough chicken to have it for lunch on salad for the next few days.

 

I am linking up with OrgJunkie.com, so be sure to check out that site for more Menu Plans to help you with getting dinner on the table!

 

Funnel Cakes…

funnel cake

Funnel cakes are not just for the county fair! When I was younger, I remember my mom making us funnel cakes at home. I didn’t realize until I got much older that other families didn’t crank out funnel cakes at home. Really? We were always cooking up creative unusual items at our house. Egg Rolls. Egg Foo Yung. Homemade Corn dogs  The list goes on and on. My mom might not have been a trained chef but she sure had a sense of adventure and wasn’t afraid to try anything in the kitchen. That is probably where I get my culinary adventuresome attitude from! Thanks, Mom!

So, when the kids thought they saw funnel cakes for sell at the circus a few weeks ago, I told them that we could make them at home. Their eyes lit up with excitement. Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

Here is the recipe and it is super simple.

Funnel Cakes (makes 4)

Ingredients
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour (divided)
1 egg
1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon sugar
2/3 cup milk
1 1/3 cups vegetable oil for frying (or as needed)
Confectioners sugar as needed

Directions
Mix salt, baking powder, and half the flour in a bowl. Set aside.

Mix egg, sugar and milk in a large bowl. Add flour mixture and beat until smooth. Continue to add remaining flour but use only enough to achieve desired consistency. Batter will be thin enough to run through a funner.

Heat oil to 375 degrees in an 8″ skillet.

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Put your finer over the bottom opening of the funnel, and fill the funnel with a generous 1/2 cup of batter. Hold the funnel close to the surface of the oil, and release the batter into the oil while making a circular motion. Fry until golden brown. Use tongs and a wide spatula to turn the cake over carefully. Fry the second side one minute. Drain on paper towels, and sprinkle with sifted powdered sugar.

 

Copycat PF Chang’s Mongolian Chicken…

chang chix

Most of my family loves Chinese food. If we go out to eat, the first votes are for Chinese. I say most because Josh is the lone dissenter. He does not like Chinese unless I am the one making it. So, since we like it and he will only eat it at home, I try to make it a part of the regular menu. When we go out to eat, we always order the Mongolian Chicken since that is something most of us will eat. We are not big beef eaters but even though the menu states “Mongolian Beef” we have found that if we ask, they will make it with chicken. I saw this recipe floating around on the internet and decided to give it a whirl. It called for beef too but I just switched up to chicken and it was a big hit.

P.F. Chang’s Copycat Mongolian Chicken

Ingredients

2 teaspoons vegetable oil
½ teaspoon ginger, minced
1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
½ cup soy sauce
½ cup water
¾ cup dark brown sugar

vegetable oil , for frying (about 1/2 cup)
3 chicken breasts
¼ cup cornstarch
2 large green onions, chopped

 

Directions

1. Heat 2 tsp. of vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over medium/low heat, without letting it get too hot.

2. Add ginger, garlic, soy sauce and water to the pan, being careful not to scorch the garlic.

3. Dissolve the brown sugar in the sauce, then increase the heat to medium and boil the sauce for 2-3 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Remove it from the heat and set aside.

4. Slice the chicken against the grain at a 45 degree angle into 1/4″ thick bite-size slices. (Note: I sliced them too thin the last time and they were more like chicken jerky, be sure to not do what I did.)

5. Dip each piece into cornstarch and then let sit for 10 minutes.

6. As the chicken sits, heat up one cup of oil in a wok over medium heat. You want it hot enough, but not smoking.

7. Add the chicken to the oil and sauté until brown, cooking evenly on all sides.

8. After a couple of minutes, remove the cooked meat and place on paper towels.

9. Dab excess oil off meat and add to medium saucepan with the sauce in it. Put the pan back over medium/low heat.

10. Add chopped green onions and let sauce simmer until warm. Serve over rice.

Menu Plan Monday 2/25/2013…

menu

Today is my 37th birthday! Yeah to me! You know you are getting older when all you really want for your birthday is to be able to sleep past 6am on a weekday. Ha!

This year I did ask for a new pair of running shoes for my birthday. The ones that I have been running in are 14 months old, which means that I have logged approximately 560 miles on them. Boy, do they sure look like it. I recently went to a running store to try on shoes and when they saw what I had been running in, they almost had a fit. The tread is almost gone on the bottom and you can see where the color is wearing through. I don’t think I will be able to go as long next time of the shoes that I buy, especially since I am trying to up my distance on my runs. I spent the last day of my 36th year running my longest run ever – 8.8 miles. Hoorah!  I feel better and am in better shape at 37 than I was at 17 or 27. I am grateful to God for the strength and stamina to take care of the body that He has given and am excited to see what the next year of my life brings with it.

Here is what we are eating this week:

Sunday: Sloppy Joes, Tater Tots, Apple Slices
Josh and I have Mother/Son bowling in the afternoon so I needed something easy to throw together when we get home.

Monday: My Birthday Dinner
We normally only go out to eat on special occasions (like someone’s birthday) so we will be using a Groupon I picked up a few months ago for a local restaurants. Yum!

Tuesday: Chicken Chicken Quesadillas, Rice, Homemade Guacamole, Lettuce/Tomato Salad
I am making a Mexican meal for teachers appreciation today so I thought I would just make us Mexican too.

Wednesday: Baked Chicken and Rice, Broccoli

Thursday: Sesame Chicken, Rice, Roasted Asparagus
They were out of asparagus at the grocery store last week so we have been without it. The produce guy said there was a shortage so I hope that isn’t going to be ongoing, we don’t have that many green vegs that everyone will eat!

Friday: Frozen Pizza, Tossed Salad, Fruit
Today is Dr. Seuss’ birthday so I will probably make something to go with that. Green eggs and ham? 

Saturday: Mother/Daughter dinner ??
Not sure what we will eat since John and Josh are at a Cub Scout overnight event. The girls are staying home and having a Harry Potter-thon movie fest. Yes, 8 movies in a row. I hope I make it through all of them since Brittany has been so excited to watch them together.

I am linking up with OrgJunkie.com, so be sure to check out that site for more Menu Plans to help you with getting dinner on the table!

Maple Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Parsnips…

parsnips

When I was a kid I only got parsnips at my grandmother’s house. I always thought they were white carrots and I loved them. I am a big vegetable fan and I really don’t have many vegetables that I don’t like. Now, some of them don’t like me (onions are one) but that is a different story. My kids are 8 and 10 years old and as far as I know, they have never had parsnips. We are always looking for new vegetables around here that the kids will like. Currently, we have a rotation between broccoli, green beans (in a can, yuck!), asparagus and spinach. Normally there is a starch paired up with the vegs like white potatoes or rice. I also make sure that they have some fruit during the day and some carrots at lunch. I am sure we don’t hit the recommended daily allowance for fruits and vegs but anytime I can get them to eat something from the garden, it is a win. And like all good mothers know, you have to take your wins when you can get them. So I am going to give this recipe a try and see if I can get a win out of it!

 

Maple ­Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Parsnips

Author: Shaina Olmanson at Simple Bites
Prep time: 15 mins Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 45 mins Yield: 6

Ingredients

3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced into rounds
3­4 parsnips, peeled and thinly sliced
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 leek, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard (like Maille)
2 tablespoons fresh parsley

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 400º F. Place sliced sweet potatoes and parsnips in a medium bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper and toss to evenly coat. Arrange the slices alternating between sweet potatoes and parsnips in the bottom of a small baking dish.

2. In a medium skillet, heat remaining olive oil over medium heat. Saute leeks and garlic for 5 minutes. Pour in maple syrup and stir in the Dijon. Continue cooking for 2 additional minutes until syrup starts to simmer. Pour syrup and leeks over the sweet potatoes and parsnips evenly. Place in the oven for 30­-40 minutes until cooked through.

Remove from oven and allow to stand 5 minutes. Garnish with parsley and serve warm.

 

Menu Plan Monday 2/18/2013…

menu

This is a quiet week around here which is much needed after our crazy busy week last week that culminated in a crazy busy weekend. Like my big word – culminated? I am trying to impress you. Ha. This weekend we went to the Big Apple Circus on Saturday with friends. On Sunday, John spent a few hours splitting and stacking firewood, I priced consignment sale items and then John took Josh to the air-soft field with friends. Fun but busy!

I spent some time lately revamping our menu and I will blog on that at some point. Needless to say, I am working on making it simpler and I think everyone around here is happier.

Here is what we are eating this week:

Sunday: (Crockpot) Salsa Chicken, Hard & Soft taco shells, Homemade Guacamole, Rice, Apple Slices
This is so easy that my 11 year old made dinner – put 2 chicken breasts in the crockpot along with some salsa and cook until done (about 4 hours for me). Shred and serve.

Monday: Mini Meatloaves, Homemade Mac & Cheese, Roasted Asparagus
Everyone gobbles these up in the mini size – just use muffin cups instead of a big meatloaf pan. Easy peasy.

Tuesday: Chicken Parmesan with Penne Pasta, Tossed Salad
Mine will be with the cheese – yum!

Wednesday: Ritz Cracker Baked Chicken Nuggets, Leftover Macaroni & Cheese, Green beans
I love that these are baked and not fried so I can eat them too. The kids don’t know the difference.

Thursday: Copycat PF Changs Mongolian Chicken, Steamed Broccoli, Rice
I also have some fortune cookies that I will serve afterward, the kids love reading their fortunes! I’ll post this recipe on the blog a little later.

Friday: Frozen Pizza, Tossed Salad, Fruit
We made homemade pizzas last week so we might do that instead of frozen pizzas. The kids loved making their own pizzas!

Saturday: Cordon Bleu Stuffed Chicken Breasts (Frozen), Mashed Potatoes, Broccoli
John and Josh are going to the Supercross this night so Brittany and I will be hitting the movies after dinner. A fun girls/guys night outing!

 

I am linking up with OrgJunkie.com, so be sure to check out that site for more Menu Plans to help you with getting dinner on the table!

Balsamic Vinaigrette…

strawberrysalad

Ok, so yesterday we spoke about croutons. Today, we are sticking with the salad but I want to share with you my go to salad dressing recipe. This stuff is so good, you won’t believe it. As you guys know, I am in LOVE with the hydrophonic lettuce from Circle A Farms, a local grower. I buy it every 2 weeks and I eat it almost every day. Until I found this lettuce, I have never been a big salad eater but this lettuce tastes so good, it is unbelievable. My favorite combination is spring mix lettuce, sliced strawberries, walnuts and grilled chicken (and goat cheese back when I ate dairy). The flavors are just yumtastic. I used to eat Ken’s Salad Dressing on my salad – either Light Raspberry Walnut or Asian but I decided to make my own salad dressing the other day and it is wonderful. The flavors are intense in a good way – the balsamic vinegar and the honey come together in a beautiful marriage. I swear I could take a bath in this stuff!

Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette

from: allrecipes.com

INGREDIENTS:

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 Tablespoon soy sauce
2 1/2 Tablespoons honey
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

DIRECTIONS:

Place everything into a sealable container and shake until mixed. Add more honey if needed. Store in the refrigerator and eat with EVERYTHING.