Monday, February 28, 2011

Balance? Mexican Lasagna Casserole

Oh, I have many, many thoughts today.

Bear with me, because I have many questions, I have many things chasing me, and I am out of balance.

A friend of mine brought to my attention the Book of Job. If you want to see what I'm talking about, just click on "A friend of mine".

She enticed my attention so much that I went to my Book and began reading.

Being a victim of unemployment, a full-time college student, and volunteering at the church,
How do I find balance?

My wonderful minister preached to me last Sunday.

Yes, he preached directly to me.

His words, "Don't worry, be happy".

I have a hard time laying my worries aside.
Does my worry about a test score do any good?
Does my worry about what my family is going to eat do any good?
Does my worry about how I am going to fulfill my spiritual needs for the day going to help?

The test score does not change through worry
The food that my family eats does not change through worry.
My spiritual needs do not change through worry.

My balance.....
Will come with my own determination.
I have to clear my path of worry before I can become balanced.

All of my studies, the food we sometimes have to eat (did you notice the Pizza Hut box mixed in there?), the appointments, and the quiet time will become balanced when worry is out of the way.

My worry sometimes leads me to see red. I don't like it when I can't see past the red.

What puts the red in my vision?


As I was reviewing the Book of Job, I came across this:

"Job continued to speak. He said, "How I long for the good old days! That's when God watched over me. The light of His lamp shone on me. I walked through darkness by His light. Those were the best days of my life. That's when God's friendship blessed my house. The Mighty One was still with me. My children were all around me. The path in front of me was like sweet cream. It was as if the rock poured out olive oil for me." Job 29: 1-6

When I was working, not attending school, and was right with God in my own way,
I had no worries.

Why do I worry now? Nothing is going to fall apart unless I let it.

I will continue going to school, I will continue working in the church, and my family is eating plenty.

No reason for worry....


This casserole was thrown together with what I had available in the kitchen. And the good thing about a casserole, it can be eaten for days. I don't have to worry about what my family is eating when I can't be at home.

See??? No worries...

This casserole is layers of sauce, cheese, and noodles (the good stuff, right?).

Sauce on the bottom, noodles, cheese, more sauce, cheese, noodles, and more sauce and cheese...

Did you keep up with that order?

I used one package of noodles and layered it twice.

This recipe is linked to Eat At Home ingredient spotlight.

Cheese is good....

This is what it looked like when it came out of the oven.

Mexican Lasagna Casserole

1 1/2 lb. ground beef
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 TBS chili powder
2 tsp. ground cumin
a couple shakes of ground cayenne pepper
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 - 15 oz. tomato sauce
1 (14.5 can) diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 (15 oz. can) black beans, rinsed and drained
2 TBS green olives, chopped
3 c. mozzarella cheese
1 pkg. whole wheat noodles, cooked al dente
Sour cream for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 baking pan, set aside.
In a dutch oven, brown the beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat. Stir until meat is no longer pink. Drain if there is a lot of grease. Stir in the chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, oregano, and salt and pepper. Add the diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. Add the black beans and olives. Mix well and heat through.
Cook noodles according to package directions for al-dente.
For layers:
Sauce on the bottom of pan
Half of the noodles
Last half of noodles
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 35 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting. Plate, and top with a dollop of sour cream.

Good Luck~Happy Eating~Enjoy

"Lord my God, I go to you for safety. Help me. Save me from all those who are chasing me. If You don't, they will tear me apart as if they were lions. They will rip me to pieces so that no one can save me." Psalm 7:1-2

Friday, February 25, 2011

Two, Two Meals In One: Macaroni and Cheese Soup

Macaroni and cheese soup???

Just the title tells me that I have to try this.

As I am scooping the soup into soup bowls for my daughter and I's lunch, I am quick to judge the thickness of this soup. Just look at that picture. That is some rib-sticking, filling soup right there.
My daughter and I had a hard time finishing our lunch.

I found this recipe at Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker.

And I am going to lead you to the original recipe, because I made some changes to mine, and the changes caused it to be different.

I used Velveeta cheese, and you know how Velveeta works, right?

It gets really, really thick....

And while you are trying to eat it, it sticks to the roof of your mouth. But it is oh, so good.

Creamy, cheesy, fattening, gooey, and thick....

The thick Velveeta allowed me to plan dinner also, because once the cheese thickened,
I had macaroni and cheese....

Soup by lunch, casserole by evening.

Two, two meals in one.

I guess I can't complain. It made my dinner plans pretty easy.

I had to stick this photo in. The soup on the spoon proves how thick it was.

I think if I were you, I would use the original recipe. Go see Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker.

Oh, I also added a couple tsp. of Worcestershire sauce to mine.

Good Luck~Happy Eating~Enjoy

"Understanding is a wellspring of life to him who has it. But the correction of fools is folly."
Proverbs 16:22

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Keeping It Simple: Lime Jell-O With Pears

Keeping it simple today.

Lime Jell-O with mandarin orange juice and pears.

When I was a kid my mom used Jell-O a lot, as a filler I do believe. A kid's fun food...

She made Jell-O so many different ways: Lime Jell-O with pears, Strawberry Jell-O with strawberries, Orange Jell-O with mandarin oranges, Strawberry Jell-O with bananas.....

The list is endless....

And when your a kid, the reaction is always....Jell-O again??

But as an adult, yes, sometimes I crave that over-used childhood Jell-O substance.

If you're going to be able to look back on something and laugh about it, you might as well laugh about it now.~Marie Osmond

Jell-O is a laughter/fun type of food...

Good Luck~Happy Eating~Enjoy

"We do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:18

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I Have Been Bitten: Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

I love the look and taste of these cookies. I am a huge fan of mint chocolate chip.

I am the one in the ice cream shop that is eating the green ice cream with chocolate chips in it.

You know, the tub that looks like no one ever eats it (orders it). I am the one that has made the scoop marks in that untouched tub of ice cream.

These mint chocolate chip cookies did not face the untouched syndrome.

Believe me, these went over really well.

I have been attacked by the "you are falling behind monster".

Have you ever been attacked by this monster?

Once you have been attacked, it takes forever to get rid of the virus.

And the monster just continues to giggle.

I'm serious!! I can hear him/her.

Last week there was a bake sale at the college. I spent one whole entire day baking cookies (like you can't tell).

I am also dealing with midterm time. Oh, the agony of studying and test taking.....

In the picture above are sugar cookie cut-outs. The boxes that they are in, those are card boxes. Card boxes make the perfect cookie gift-giving boxes. Line them with printed cello paper and they are gorgeous.
My decked out gift-giving boxes of cookies went to the bake sale.
I was told that they didn't last long.
And if you visit the sugar cookie cut-out link; keep in mind that that was one of my very first blog posts. If you get bored with it, just skip to the recipe.

These are mint chocolate chip cookies that also went to the bake sale. They went over really good too.

Don't you just love Andes mints.

My grandma always, alway, always had these in her candy dish.

Pop one in your mouth and just let it melt slowly.

Andes mints in chocolate cookies?

It doesn't get any better.

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 c. all-purpose flour
2/3 c. unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
10 TBS butter, soft
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 c. Andes baking chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar together on high speed for 2 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla, and beat until blended.
Add the flour mixture slowly, and mix until combined. Fold in the Andes mints.
Drop dough by teaspoon-fulls onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (I used my baking stones and didn't have to line them).
Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until no longer doughy. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Good Luck~Happy Eating~Enjoy

"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye."
Psalm 119:165

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I Love Games: Untitled

We are going to play a game today.

I love games!!

Especially the ones where you have to guess what is in the picture.

Can you guess what I'm making?

What about now?

What are those dough balls going to become?

Have you placed your guess yet?

I am so thankful for Mommy's Kitchen.

I have finally crossed off an item on my bucket list.

Thank you so much Mommy's Kitchen.

I spent a lot of time running through the house screaming,

"I have finally done it!! I have mastered the recipe for....."

And you thought I was going to give it away.

Nope, you have to wait until the next picture, or the picture after that.

Are you still guessing?

Can you tell what it is now?

Yup, flour tortillas.

Did you guess that in the very first picture?

These are so good, and I have been given orders to never buy pre-packaged tortillas again.

My request: Don't ever ask me to do a taco party.

Rolling out each tortilla was a lot of work.

I can't imagine a woman or man making these regularly for their family.

Just making 12 was time consuming,

But the rewards: AMAZING!!

Flour Tortillas

2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
5-6 TBS vegetable shortening or lard
3/4 c. hot water

In a large bowl add the flour, salt, baking powder and shortening. Using your fingers cut in the shortening (I used a pastry blender) until the mixture resembles pea size pieces. Add the hot water and mix together using your hands or a wooden spoon until the mixture starts to form. Knead on a floured surface for 5 - 10 minutes or until the mixture is smooth and elastic. Form the dough into a ball. Place the dough into a covered bowl and let the dough rest for 10 minutes.

Pinch off the dough into 12 equal pieces and roll each piece into golf ball size balls. Place the balls back into the bowl and cover and let the dough balls rest for 20 minutes. Preheat your griddle or cast iron pan on med - high heat. Flatten each dough ball a bit and then roll out on a floured surface forming a circle (and you can tell that mine were not perfectly round).

Your tortillas should be thin rather than thick. Place into the hot skillet, and cook until bubbly. Flip and continue cooking the other side. Each side should cook about 30 seconds. Keep the cooked tortillas warm while you continue rolling and cooking the remaining tortillas.

Good Luck~Happy Eating~Enjoy

"My soul, wait silently for God alone,
For my expectation is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation;
He is my defense;
I shall not be moved."
Psalm 62:5-6

Monday, February 21, 2011

Just Letting You Know: Porkettes in Tomato Sauce

As I am sitting here preparing this post, I have been giving a lot of thought to "why I blog".

Wait a minute...

*Knock, Knock*

Are you there?

Of course you are.

I blog to give you readers ideas on food preparation. Not necessarily making the exact same food I do, but to give you direction, a way to create your own.

I am not here to be surrounded by the spotlight.
(Okay, maybe just a little)
I like to add humor to my posts so they are not all serious and stuff.
(I think it's funny.....sometimes)

When I blog and share my everyday foods, I am actually inviting you into my kitchen. I am making this personal. My relationship with each and every one of you will remain comfortable.

There is nothing better than a comfortable blogger/reader relationship.

So, come on in, pull up a chair, and make yourself at home.

Welcome! This is my kitchen, and this is how I cook.

I love this rice!!

I bought this at Trader Joe's when I was visiting in Arizona last summer. The closest Trader Joe's for me is 4 hours away (Darn!!).

I really wished I lived somewhere where a Trader Joe's was right out my back door.

Today I am making porkettes in tomato sauce. The porkettes are made just like the chopped beef patties. But instead of beef, they are pork. And you knew that, right?

Just checking....

I dredge the porkettes in flour seasoned with season salt and pepper.

Then I brown them (both sides) in olive oil in a 300 degree electric skillet.

I had on hand a can of Progresso Tomato/Basil soup. After the porkettes are browned I pour the tomato soup over them, cover, and simmer on 250 degrees for 25 - 30 minutes (stirring occasionally).

No recipe required here. Pretty easy.

This is the way I cook....

Good Luck~Happy Eating~Enjoy

"So the people asked him, saying, "What shall we do then?"
He answered and said to them, "He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.""
Luke 3:10,11

Friday, February 18, 2011

Let's Be Creative: Spinach Salad

Do you ever create something in your mind and expect it to work?

I had these flavors all put together in my mind, placed them in a bowl, served it to strangers, and had a fabulous outcome.

I didn't do any searching for spinach salad, so there just might be an identical recipe out there.
But for now, I'm calling this my own.

I sliced green grapes in half, drained a jar of Dole mandarin oranges, sliced purple onion, Hormel real bacon bits (peppered), spinach, and drizzled Kraft Mandarin Orange with Sesame dressing in between the layers and on top.

Now, one complaint I do have (from myself) is, I wish I would have had some walnut halves. Walnuts would have made this salad perfect.

I layered all the ingredients in a trifle bowl and took it to a church lunch. It was wiped out, if that tells you anything.

I am pretty proud of this one.

No recipe included:

Be creative and create your own. Spinach salad is one of my most favorite salads, next to the Cesar, of course.

Good Luck~Happy Eating~Enjoy

"Therefore I rejoice that I have confidence in you in everything." 2 Corinthians 7:16

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Little Monster: Creme Brulee Cheesecake

This recipe jumped right out of the book and slapped me in the face.

"You better make me or I will have to hurt you."

I really dislike food threats. But I obey...

A friend of mine (Marsha Baker) gave me some old issues of Taste of Home magazines to go through and clip recipes if I wanted. And yes, I wanted.

Look at this, I'm asking for Betty's help again. This is the crust to the cheesecake.

I didn't have any toffee bits, so I substituted monster cookie mix for the toffee. It worked great.

I poured it into my little nifty mini chopper and chopped it up fine.

When this cheesecake comes out of the oven, the toffee bits are suppose to be applied right away. I think they are suppose to melt or something.

This is fabulous, and I am so glad I have a whole 13 x 9 inch pan of it to eat. I don't even think I want to share with my's all mine!!

A piece of advice; Make sure you pay attention to the directions closely. Do not add the full 2 1/2 tsp. vanilla to the crust like I did....Over use of vanilla is okay though. I can't even tell the difference.
It's cheesecake for crying out loud, I'm not going to complain about the extra vanilla in the crust...

This recipe is linked to:

Creme Brulee Cheesecake

1 pouch Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix
1 box (4-serving size) French vanilla instant pudding and pie filling mix
2 TBS packed brown sugar
1/2 c. butter, melted
2 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 whole eggs
2 pkg (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. sour cream
1/2 c granulated sugar
3 egg yolks
2/3 c. toffee bits, finely crushed, or monster cookie mix, finely crushed

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray bottom and sides of 13 x 9 inch pan with cooking spray.
In large bowl, stir cookie mix, pudding mix, brown sugar, butter, 1 tsp. of the vanilla and 1 egg until soft dough forms. Press dough in bottom and 1/2 inch up sides of pan.
In small bowl, beat cream cheese, sour cream and granulated sugar with electric mixer until smooth. Add remaining whole egg, 3 egg yolks and remaining 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla; beat until smooth. Spread over crust.
Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until set in center. Immediately sprinkle top with crushed toffee bits. Cool 30 minutes. Refrigerate about 3 hours or until chilled. Cut into squares.

Good Luck~Happy Eating~Enjoy

"Who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's."
Psalm 103:5

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Doing Good: Egg-White Omelet

Valentine's Day is over.

I am seeing green.

The snow is melting and I am ready for the colors and signs of spring.

Fresh mowed grass, the popping heads of spring flowers, and just to be able to get out of this stinking house and walk somewhere.

Okay why would my house stink? I am a cooker, baker, creator of food.... I take that statement back right now!

I have changed my blog background to match my mood. GREEN!! (which is my favorite color, by the way).

Do you ever have days where you feel like you are being pulled in two different directions?

Today I had a day like that.

My dinner consisted of a three egg-white omelet filled with Italian pulled pork and white cheddar cheese.

The egg-whites - healthy, low calorie
The pulled pork - the serving size makes all the difference
White cheddar cheese - serving size is important here too

I felt really good about taking the time to plan this healthy meal. I patted myself on the back.
I did some jumping-jacks (to say I exercised for the day) to add vibe to the good feeling.

And all the while I am feeling good about myself, I am ignoring the Creme Brulee Cheesecake that is almost ready to come out of the oven....FSSTTT....Where do you think the three egg-whites came from?

Fattening, full calorie, bad for you, delicious, sweet, savory, dessert.

That is my two direction day.

Pretty stressful!!

For the omelet:

I used three egg-whites
A small amount of pulled pork
and a small amount of white cheddar cheese

Just make it like you would make a regular omelet.

This was very good, by the way.

Good Luck~Happy Eating~Enjoy

"Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me;
You will stretch out Your hand
Against the wrath of my enemies,
And Your right hand will save me."
Psalm 138:7

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Hey, Do You Speak Italian? Italian Pulled Pork

I was doing my normal daily blog visits. You know, the ones that instantly take 6 hours out of your day? Can you tell I'm a faithful blog visitor? 6 hours? Really?

I was visiting my friend Joelle, and if you want to find some amazing recipes make sure you visit her here.

Joelle posted a recipe for Italian Beef Sandwiches. This recipe sounded so good, and I wanted to make it NOW.

I kind of felt like a person on that investment commercial. You know, the one where the people are screaming, "IT'S MY MONEY, AND I NEED IT NOW!"
I wanted to scream, "I LOVE FOOD, AND I NEED IT NOW!" when I viewed the ingredients for Joelle's Italian Beef Sandwiches.
The only problem I was facing; I didn't have any beef, but I had just slow roasted a pork roast the day before.
That little light bulb above my head shown brightly. Pork in place of beef.
I can do this.

Then the farther I read into Joelle's recipe, I found out that I didn't have any dry Italian dressing mix.

I am not ready to throw in the towel.

I can still make this work.

I shredded my pork and ended with 4 to 6 cups.

I dug through my frig and found a little bit of onion, and my fresh garlic I always have handy by the stove. I sliced the onion into strips, and finely chopped three cloves of garlic. I love garlic!
The more garlic, the less vampires....

I used 1 cup of my left-over pork broth. Never, never, never throw out broth from a roast. I always keep mine and use it for soup or freeze it.

The pork broth went into a deep skillet along with the garlic, onion, and 1 1/2 TBS Italian seasoning.

When I put in the 1 1/2 TBS Italian seasoning I thought, "Oh my goodness, I really messed this up."
But I continued....
The Italian seasoning was very strong while I was simmering the onion and garlic. I simmered it for about 5 minutes to soften the onion and garlic.

After five minutes I added the 4 to 6 cups of shredded pork. I heated it through and served it opened faced on toast. The Italian seasoning amount was just right.

This is one of those recipes that makes you long for something more....

I wish I would have had some hamburger buns or sub buns....darn!!

But it was very good on toast.

Thank you Joelle for sharing your talent.

This recipe is linked to:

Italian Pulled Pork

4 to 6 cups shredded cooked pork roast
1 c. pork roast broth
1/2 c. sliced onion
3 cloves garlic
1 1/2 TBS Italian seasoning

Shred pork and set aside. Place the broth, garlic, onion, and Italian seasoning in a deep skillet.
Simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the shredded pork and heat through. Serve on buns or toast.

Good Luck~Happy Eating~Enjoy

"Two people are better than one. They can help each other in everything they do. Suppose someone falls down. Then his friend can help him up. But suppose the man who falls down doesn't have anyone to help him up. Then feel sorry for him! Or suppose two people lie down together. Then they'll keep warm. But how can one person keep warm alone? One person could be overpowered. But two people can stand up for themselves. And a rope made out of three cords isn't easily broken." Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12


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