Menu for the Week of December 9

Monday December 8
Breakfast: Pop Tarts (I give myself grace on some mornings and we just eat from the cupboard)
Lunch: Hot Dogs, Pretzels, Fresh Fruit, Cookies

Hawaiian Meatballs

Dinner: Hawaiian Meatballs, Simple Fried Rice, Salad

Tuesday December 9
Breakfast: Cereal, Banana
Lunch: Spaghettios, Bread, Canned Fruit, Candy

Baked Spaghetti

Dinner: Baked Spaghetti, Cheesy Garlic Bread, Salad
Baking: Easy Microwave Fudge

Wednesday December 10
Breakfast: Cinnamon Raisin Biscuits
Lunch: Pizza, Salad, Pudding
Dinner: Taco Ring, Spanish Rice

Banana Sour Cream Bread

Baking: Banana Sour Cream Bread

Thursday December 11
Breakfast: Cereal, Toast, Banana
Lunch: Chicken Nuggets, Tater Tots, Yogurt, Pudding

Chicken and Rice Pilaf

Dinner: Chicken and Rice Pilaf, Bread Machine Buttery Rolls, Scalloped Potatoes, Buttered Carrots
Baking: Killer Candy Caramel Apples

Friday December 12

Breakfast: Pigs in a Blanket, Eggs
Lunch: Fish Sticks, Soup, Applesauce, Cheese Curls, Brownies/Bars

Extraordinary Homemade Pizza Crust
Extraordinary Homemade Pizza Crust

Dinner: Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza on Homemade Pizza Dough

Saturday December 13

Overnight Coffee Cake

Breakfast: Overnight Coffee Cake
Lunch: Sandwiches, Potato Chips, Fresh Fruit, Snack Cakes
Dinner: Oven Fried Cornflake Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Corn, Noodles in Sauce, Baker’s Dozen Yeast Rolls

Sunday December 14

Basic Biscuits

Breakfast: Eggs, Fried Potatoes, Basic Biscuits, Sausage Links
Lunch: Eat Out/Leftovers
Dinner: Baked Soft Tacos, Spanish Rice, Salad

LINKED UP WITH: I’m An Organizing Junkie

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Easy Homemade Pizza Crust (You Will Never Need Take-Out Again)

Our family spends wastes a lot of money on eating out!

After a LONG day of school, Bible quizzing, cooking, cleaning, and on and on and on, that phone number to the local pizza place is so TEMPTING! I know that with just the push of a few buttons dinner will arrive fast and hot. However, my bank account will take a hit that it was not expecting and I will have to figure out where that money is going to come from.

ENTER Easy Homemade Pizza Crust! With a just a few ingredients and a little bit of time, I can save some DOUGH (you saw that one coming right?) by making DOUGH!

Extraordinary Homemade Pizza Crust
Extraordinary Homemade Pizza Crust

Easy Homemade Pizza Crust (original recipe)

1 cup warm water
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 1/2 cups bread flour
1 tablespoon yeast
1 heaping tablespoon sugar

Pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees.

Add water, salt and vegetable oil to a large bowl.

Add bread flour, sugar and yeast, mix with a spoon until a soft dough forms.

Put dough onto a floured surface and knead for a few minutes. Then roll out dough, on floured surface, until a little larger than your pizza pan (I use a stone from Pampered Chef). Place the dough onto your pan and roll up the edges to create a lip that will keep your sauce on the pizza while it bakes. Using a fork prick holes in the dough.

Pre-bake your crust in your pre-heated oven for 10 minutes. Take out and top however you like.

Return pizza to the oven and bake another 10 minutes. ENJOY!

Forget the Take Out!
Forget the Take Out!

Melt In Your Mouth Buttermilk Biscuits

I have finally found a biscuit recipe that I can make (EVERY TIME) and they always turn out GREAT! I have also learned a few “secrets” to making fluffy, soft, EDIBLE biscuits that I will share in the recipe!

I am not sure if it’s the recipe that is “fool” proof or if the “tricks” are what make this recipe work but either way it has taken me 17 years of marriage to be able to make a Homemade Biscuit that is worth eating.

Extraordinary Buttermilk Biscuits
Extraordinary Buttermilk Biscuits

Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits (original recipe)

2 cups bread flour
8 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 heaping tablespoons sugar
1 stick COLD butter, cut into pieces
1 – 2 cups buttermilk (may need more or less, depending on flour)

Mix flour, baking powder, salt and sugar together in bowl of Kitchen-Aid Mixer. (If you do not have a Kitchen-Aid, or some other type of stand mixer, you can try this recipe using a hand held mixer).

Using your Kitchen-Aid mixer cut the butter into the flour mixture. Mix just until the butter becomes “pea” size.

Add just enough buttermilk to make a heavy, workable dough. I have found the drier the dough the more stable the biscuit.

Knead the dough lightly (still using your Kitchen-Aid), only enough for everything to stick together. DO NOT OVERKNEAD!

Pat dough out onto a well floured surface to around 3/4-inches thick. Fold dough over so that it makes a “double” biscuit.

Buttermilk Biscuits with dough folded over.
Buttermilk Biscuits with dough folded over.

Use a floured glass or mason jar ring to cut dough into circles.

Place on an un-greased baking sheet (I use one of my Pampered Chef Stones). If you leave the edges touching it will make for a softer biscuit. If you want your biscuits to have a crunch, space them out a bit more.

Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for between 10 and 12 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack (we actually eat them straight from the oven)!

Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits
Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits

MAKE SURE YOUR BUTTER IS COLD!
HANDLE THE DOUGH AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE, LET YOUR MIXER DO THE WORK!
DO NOT OVER-BAKE, SET YOUR OVEN TIMER AND KEEP CHECKING THEM!

Extraordinary Chicken Pasta Salad

My children are Bible Quizzers and that means that once a month during the quizzing season we head out of town for a tournament. We normally will go to wherever the tournament is the night before so that our children are assured of getting plenty of rest. Nothing like trying to remember 300 scriptures while dozing off at the quiz table!

As we are a one income family, week-end getaways once a month do not really fit in with our budget. So I cut the costs as much as possible. We ALWAYS stay in a hotel that offers free breakfast. This enables us to sleep-in a little longer and also saves us money. And we ALWAYS stay at a hotel that offers Government Employee discounts (Thank You USPS).

I also pack our lunch to eat during the quizzing tournament. I do this for two reasons. One, to save money. And two, because sometimes we have 20 minutes in-between quizzes in which to eat our lunch. Not very conducive to getting in the car, driving somewhere, ordering, eating, getting back in the car, and making it back to the church before the next quiz.

And so I pack sandwiches, potato chips, snack cakes, grapes, and I ALWAYS take Chicken Pasta Salad! WHY? Because it is AMAZING, that’s why! And I’m going to share the recipe with you! WHY? Because I like you, that’s why!

Extraordinary Chicken Pasta Salad

 

Amazing Chicken Pasta Salad

2 to 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (cooked and cut into bite size pieces)
1 box corkscrew pasta
6 green onions, thinly sliced (the original recipe calls for only 3 but I like them so I add more)
1 medium green pepper, diced

Mix in a large bowl.

 

Dressing

1 1/2 cups Miracle Whip Salad Dressing
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice

Toss with chicken mixture.
Refrigerate overnight. (The original recipe says 2 hours but I like it better the next day). Also, if you are like me you will think that 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt is just too much but trust me and go ahead and follow the recipe exactly. When I tried to cut back the flavor was just not as great.

 

Extraordinary Chicken Pasta Salad
Extraordinary Chicken Pasta Salad

No Bake Cookies (A Family Tradition)

Christmas Eve growing up was ALWAYS my favorite night of the year. We would head over to my Grandparent’s (Ma-Maw and Pa-Paw) house and meet up with my mother’s other 5 siblings and their kids for a family meal and presents!

I can still to this day recall that excited feeling that I would have ALL DAY long! The clock seemed to move so slow and the day felt like it was never going to end. And then somehow, almost magically, Mom would call for me to get my coat and we would head out the door. The best times were when it was snowing and the houses in the neighborhood were lit up with multicolored lights. In my mind’s eye everything was beautiful and perfect. We would pull up to the house and the drive-way would be filled with cars, the windows would be steamed up from all the cooking and baking that went on in the house ALL DAY long! Their would be lights and laughter and presents and JUNK FOOD!

We ate buffet style and so once I was old enough to fix my own plate I bypassed the ham, noodles, and deviled eggs for BUCKEYES, FUDGE, AND NO BAKE COOKIES! My Aunt Shali makes the best No Bakes in the world. And still to this day it would not be Christmas Eve without an Aunt Shali No Bake.

I have to make them myself now that we have moved to Florida. The North Family Christmas parties have been over for a long time now. Siblings moved away, kids grew up, there were divorces, and deaths, and LIFE just changes. Of course, we still try and get together on Christmas Eve (from our own little corners of the world) but it will NEVER be like it was. Those perfect (if only in my mind) nights of gently falling snow, laughter, lights, Christmas trees, presents, and FAMILY!

But every Christmas Eve when I put out the Buckeyes and Aunt Shali No Bakes, my mind races back in time to Christmas Eve’s long gone and I remember faces, and smells, and sounds, and sights that bring a smile to my face and joy to my heart. And as I pick up a No Bake and take that first chocolaty bite for just a second I am 5 years old again and all the world is right and it’s the BEST NIGHT OF THE YEAR!

Aunt Shali No Bake Cookies (a Family Tradition)

Extraordinary No Bake Cookies
Aunt Shali  No Bakes

2 cups sugar
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups quick cooking oats (make sure you use the quick cooking)
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

Bring sugar, cocoa, milk and butter to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.
As soon as it starts to boil, remove from heat and stir in vanilla, peanut butter, and oats. Mix well!
Drop by tablespoons (I use a medium cookie scoop and then flatten with the back of it) onto waxed paper.
Let cool!

Amish Baked Chicken

Extraordinary Amish Baked Chicken
Extraordinary Amish Baked Chicken

This is my NEW “Go To” recipe for chicken. We all love this chicken. It is juicy, flavorful, pretty simple, and Finger-Lickin’ good!

I have made it for company (so you know it’s good) and it never fails to impress.

Now I am going to give a disclaimer on this recipe: I bake it on a stone with sides (Pampered Chef: Bar Pan) so if you do not have a stone I have no idea how this chicken will turn out! For me, the skin is crunchy and flavorful and the chicken meat is juicy and tender. If you bake it in a pan or some other way please leave me a comment and let me know how it turns out.

Amish Baked Chicken (Original Recipe)

1/2 cup flour
1/2 Tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
6 bone-in chicken thighs
3 bone-in chicken breasts

In a shallow pie pan combine flour and spices. Blend well!

Dredge chicken in flour mixture and then place on baking stone skin side down. I use two stones, one for the thighs and one for breasts.

Bake at 375 degrees for 45 to 60 minutes or until chicken is cooked through (mine always takes the whole 60 minutes). Flip chicken once, half way through cooking.

I do not work for nor do I sell Pampered Chef. I just love their stones and use them every single day!

Extraordinary Cherry Chip Cupcakes with Cherry Cream Cheese Frosting

So I made cupcakes!

Extraordinary Cherry Chip Cupcakes with Cherry Cream Cheese Frosting
Extraordinary Cherry Chip Cupcakes with Cherry Cream Cheese Frosting

I love cupcakes! I love to look at them (my kitchen is cupcakes) and I love to eat them!

My daughter and I say that we are “Cupcake Girls”. You know the girls who wear bows as big as their heads and love lace and ruffles.

I decided to not make the entire cupcake + frosting from scratch so I opted to use a box cake mix that I “dressed up” to make it taste homemade.

Perfect Cupcake Using a Mix (original recipe)

1 box Any Flavor Cake Mix (I used Cherry Chip)
3 large eggs
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup water

Melt the butter. Mix cake mix, eggs, water, and melted butter in a large bowl. Mix on low for 1 minute and then mix on high for 1 minute. The batter should be thick and creamy!
Fill cupcake paper (or just spay the muffin tins and bake right in the pan).
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.
Cool before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting (original recipe)

6 tablespoons butter, softened
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
4 cups (1-pound box) confectioners sugar
1 – 2 tablespoons milk (enough to make a spreadable frosting)

Because I made cherry cupcakes I wanted a cherry frosting so I added chopped up bits of Maraschino cherries to the frosting and instead of milk I used the juice from the jar of cherries. OH MY WORD! DELICIOUS!

Beat together the butter and the cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and beat well.
Add the milk a little at a time, until the frosting is spreadable.
Frost cupcakes!

Almost got the decorating down!
Almost got the decorating down!

Extraordinary Slow Cooker Beef (Or in This Case Pork) Stroganoff

Extraordinary Pork Stroganoff
Extraordinary Slow Cooker Pork Stroganoff

I have made this recipe a few times (trying to adjust this and that to make it a great meal) and I think I am finally on the right track! I love Beef Stroganoff and I love my slow cooker, so if I can put the two together then you know I am going to be one HAPPY girl! The problem with the recipe is that no matter what type of beef I used I didn’t like the taste. The meat was either too tough (when I used stew meat) or had a strange aftertaste when I used the cube steak. And I was not about to try an expensive cut of meat in a slow cooker recipe (defeats the purpose of a budget friendly easy meal). So I had some pork steaks in the freezer and I decided to give those a try! AMAZING!

I still have a few things I would like to “tweak” (Don’t you just love “You’ve Got Mail”?) such as figuring out how to get the small lumps of cream cheese out of the sauce. My cream cheese is completely softened and I cut it up in small cubes before I add it to the sauce but it still is not breaking down all the way. Any suggestions?

Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff  (original recipe)

2 pounds pork steak, cut into one-inch pieces
2 cans condensed golden mushroom soup (no substitutes)
1 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 (14-ounce) can beef broth
8-ounces fresh button mushrooms (I leave them whole)
salt and pepper to taste
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sour cream
1 bag egg noodles (for serving)

In the slow cooker, combine meat, soup, onion, Worcestershire sauce, beef broth, mushrooms, salt and pepper. Cook on low for 5 to 6 hours.
Stir in cream cheese and sour cream about half an hour before serving, stirring every 10 minutes or so to break up the cream cheese. THE LAST TIME I MADE THIS I CUT THE CREAM CHEESE UP INTO PIECES AND IT SEEMED TO HELP IT BREAK UP MORE.
Serve over cooked egg noodles or rice. The original recipe calls for adding the egg noodles to the crock pot after they have cooked and when I did this we did not like it. The noodles became very mushy so now I just serve the noodles with the Stroganoff over top.
If the sauce is not thick enough for you, you can add some cornstarch and water. I have not done this so I’m not sure how it would work.

Extraordinary Dinner!
Extraordinary Dinner!

Doughnut Muffins With Chocolate Glaze

Extraordinary Doughnut Muffins with Chocolate Glaze
Extraordinary Doughnut Muffins with Chocolate Glaze

These were DELICIOUS! And really they were not all that much effort either! The glaze was made in the microwave (easy peasy) and the muffins came together rather quickly too.

The next time I will double the muffin recipe (but not the glaze as I had plenty leftover) and I will also double dip the muffins. The glaze did take longer to set up than I expected so next time I will need to remember that and start them a little earlier so that the glaze is not quite so runny when we sit down to partake of the GOODNESS!

Doughnut Muffins (original recipe)

3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and grease muffin tins with cooking spray.
In a large bowl beat together sugar and egg until light and fluffy.
In a small bowl mix together flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Pour flour mixture into egg mixture and stir until well combined. (the next time I make this I am going to wait and add the flour mixture until after I have added all the wet ingredients because it was very hard to get the lumps of flour out of the batter).
Add in vegetable oil, milk, and vanilla extract. Mix well!
Pour into greased muffin tins, filling each about 3/4 full (I probably over filled mine).
Bake for about 15 minutes or until tester comes out clean.

Doughnut Muffins before glaze was added
Doughnut Muffins before glaze was added

Doughnut Glaze (original recipe)

6 tablespoons butter, melted
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup hot water
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Combine the butter with the powdered sugar and mix until well blended.
Add the vanilla and the hot water. Mix until smooth.
Melt the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds. Stir, then microwave another 30 seconds and stir again. Continue microwaving for 30 seconds at a time and stirring until chocolate is completely melted. Add the chocolate to the butter mixture. Blend until smooth.
When the doughnuts have cooled, dip each top into the glaze and then flip over and cool on a plate until the glaze firms up, about 15 minutes.

Extraordinary Goodness!
Extraordinary Goodness!

Extraordinarily Easy Taco Salad

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Extraordinarily Easy Taco Salad

 

This recipe should be called VERY EXTRAORDINARILY EASY TACO SALAD! or it could even be called VERY EASY VERY YUMMY EXTRAORDINARY TACO SALAD! But no matter what you call it I am VERY sure that your family will love you for fixing it and you will love how quickly you are in and out of the kitchen! I make this recipe on church nights because it’s quick to the table and clean up is EASY too!

Easy Taco Salad (Original Recipe)

Ingredients:
2 pounds ground beef
1 small onion
1 envelope (or 1 tablespoon) taco seasoning (next time I am probably going to up this to 2 tablespoons)
1 head iceberg lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces (I buy the shredded lettuce that comes in bags)
1 tomato, diced
1 bag Nacho Flavored Doritos
1 1/2 cups Mexican (or taco) cheese, shredded
1 bottle French Dressing

Directions:
Brown ground beef and onion. Drain off fat. Stir in taco seasoning until well blended (DO NOT ADD WATER).
In a large bowl, or individual serving bowls (I use the individual bowls for easier clean-up). Layer the lettuce, meat, tomato, cheese, and Doritos.
Then top with dressing and serve!

Easy Peasy Taco Salad

Notes:
I do not let the hamburger cool down before using it on the salad. I also use individual serving bowls because I have some who do not like tomato.