Sunday, October 31, 2010

Pumpkin Pancakes

I should've thought to post this last night as this is the perfect Halloween breakfast treat.  Maybe you can treat your family to Breakfast for Dinner instead.  Leave off the jack-o-lantern faces and these are great for Thanksgiving morning too.

Jack-o-Lantern Pumpkin Pancakes

I halved the basic pancake recipe I have (because the regular makes like 20-24 pancakes).  Then I just added some pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar to it. 

What You Will Need:
1 1/8 cups Flour
1 1/2 teasp Baking Powder
1/4 teasp Salt
2 Tblsp Sugar
1 Tblsp Brown Sugar
1/8 teasp Nutmeg
1/4 teasp Cinnamon
1 cups Milk
1 eggs
2 Tblsp butter, melted
1/4 cup pumpkin
Chocolate chips and whipped cream for faces-optional

Step 1: Make the Batter-
Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, brown sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl.  Mix well.
In another bowl combine milk, egg, butter and pumpkin.  Mix well.
Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until all lumps are gone and batter is smooth.  I like to use a whisk to mix pancake batter.  It does a great job of smoothing out the lumps and the pancakes cook nice and fluffy.

Step 2: Cook the Pancakes-
I use a griddle pan but you can use a flat pan on the stove as well.  I set the griddle pan to 300, if cooking on the stove use medium/high heat.
Using a 1/4 measuring cup spoon pancake batter onto griddle.  To make them appear as pumpkins use a spoon to add a dab of the batter to the top of each pancake to appear as a "stem"
Cook for 1-2 minutes, or until bubbles form and pop. 
Flip and cook an additional 1-2 minutes.

Step 3: Garnish and Serve the Pancakes-
Once pancakes are done you can use the chocolate chips (or peanut butter or even dried cranberries) as the "eyes and nose" for a jack-o-lantern face.  Use the whipped cream  (or maybe chocolate syrup) to form a "mouth".
Serve with additional whipped cream, butter, syrup and/or any other toppings your family enjoys with their pancakes.
If you have older kiddos let them make thier own jack-o-lantern faces.

The Kiddos ate their with whipped cream and chocolate chips.  I rather enjoyed them plain but did try one with whipped cream.  The Hubs ate his the "traditional" way with just butter an syrup.  Everyone loved them, I hope your family will too.


Saturday, October 30, 2010


Its early on a Saturday morning, I should probably be cleaning but I decided to blog instead.  I thought I would share this recipe as it is a great one to use on such a morning as this.  Although 9 times out of 10 my family enjoys Biscuits and Gravy as a "Breakfast for Dinner" type of meal.

Once you try these biscuits you will never again spend the outrageous prices for those canned and refrigerated ones.  This is one recipe that is truly MINE too.  Most recipes I have I have messed around with and tweaked some to suit our families tastes and preferences but most are similar to the originals.  This recipe is a combo of at least 4 different recipes I previously tried out and is 1 and a half times bigger than those.  Doubling the recipes made too much for our family, using the called for amounts was never enough.

What You Will Need:
3 cups Flour
4 teasp baking powder
3 teasp sugar
1 teasp salt
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup milk

Step 1: Make the Dough-
In a large mixing bowl combine flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.
Cut in shortening using a pastry cutter, 2 knives or a fork-Honestly I do not have a pastry cutter and the knives/fork are too tedious for me so I just use my hands for this step.  I am a very "hands on" cook.  Its easiest to just use my hands.  Dough will resemble coarse crumbs when this step is done correctly.
Add milk and stir to mix.  Do not over mix, dough will be slightly loose still.

Step 2: Form the Biscuits-
Dump dough out onto lightly floured surface.
With you hands gently knead and press dough until it forms into a ball.  Do not over work the dough as this will make the biscuits tough and hard.  You want them to be light and flaky.
Lightly flour rolling pin and roll out dough into a circle about 1/2"-3/4" thick.
Using a biscuit cutter cut out biscuits-I don't have one of these either, I find a sippy cup makes the perfect size biscuit.
Place biscuits on an ungreased baking sheet.
Gather up regaining dough, form into a ball, roll out and cut again.  Repeat this until all the dough has been used.

Step 3: Bake the Biscuits-
Once biscuits have been cut out and placed on the pan bake them in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until tops appear golden brown.  I usually bake ours for 10 minutes exactly, your oven may need more or less time.
Enjoy with regular or sausage gravy or as is.

I like to take the leftover biscuits, when we have leftovers that is, and heat them up in the microwave for maybe 5-10 seconds with butter and honey on top.  So good!  They are also great with jelly and I have made them before to use with bacon and egg mini sandwiches.


Friday, October 29, 2010

Chocolate Chip Muffins

I am posting this for you Jess as I have replaced the chocolate chips with 1 cup of frozen (thawed out hehe) blueberries and they were amazing!!

These are a family favorite and I make them at least once a week for breakfast.  As I mentioned above I have used the base recipe and replaced the chocolate chips with blueberries.  I have also used peanut butter chips and peaches.  When I made the peaches I used some of the juice from the can-I get peaches in 100% fruit juice.  I did about 1/2 cup of the juice and 1/4 cup of milk.  They were so yum yum.  I am thinking about trying either frozen strawberries or a frozen triple berry mix in the batter next.  Play around with it and see what you and your family enjoy as the "star" of the muffin.

What You Will Need:
2 cups Flour
1/2 cup sugar
3 teasp baking powder
1/2 teasp salt
1 cup chocolate chips
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup oil
A couple of Tblsp each of granulated and brown sugar mixed together for the topping-optional

Step 1: Prepare the batter-
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
In a large mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt.  Mix well
Add milk and eggs and combine until batter is just moist.
Add chocolate chips (or whatever you choose to use) and lightly mix in.

Step 2: Bake Muffins-
Lightly grease 12 muffin cups.
Spoon batter into muffin cups about 3/4 full per cup.
Bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes

Optional Topping:
This is completely optional but makes the muffins so yummy.
Combine about 2 tblsp each-I don't measure this-of granulated and brown sugar.
After batter is spooned into muffin tin sprinkle the tops with the sugar mixture and bake as normal
My oldest likes to call this topping "sprinkles" and he always reminds me to put the "sprinkles" on when I make them-I skipped this step 1 time and he was so disappointed so he always reminds me now.

I hope you enjoy these yummy muffins, great way to have "cake" for breakfast.


Thursday, October 28, 2010


I was so excited when I was given this recipe, I couldn't wait to try it out and I am happy to report I was not disappointed.  These are so good and so easy to make its really a dangerous recipe to try out so learn how to make them at your own risk.

dough will resemble this when mixed and ready to use
What you will need:
1 1/4 c Flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/4 c sugar
1 teasp basking soda
1/4 teasp baking powder
1/4 teasp salt
1/2 c + 2 Tblsp butter
1 egg
Icing (see recipe below in step 3)
Food coloring-optional if you want colored icing
Wax paper

Step One: The Batter-
The original recipe said to prepare this in an eclectic mixer, I do not have one of these (on my Christmas wish list though!) so I just used a bowl and a hand held mixer and everything came out fine.
In a bowl (or electric mixer) combine flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Mix on low speed until well combined.-Since I do not have an eclectic mixer I actually just used a spoon to mix with this step.
While still on low speed add in butter. 
Once butter is well combined add egg.
Continue mixing until dough forms together in a large bowl.--At this step the hand held was keeping everything like a coarse crumb mixture so I turned it off and combined everything with my hands.  Dough will feel kinda mealy/squishy and will stick together easily when it is ready.

smushing the cookies out
Step 2: Bake the Cookies-
Preheat oven to 375
Line cookie sheet with wax paper.
Using a 1 teaspoon measuring spoon scoop out tiny balls of the batter and place onto cookie sheet lined with wax paper.
Using your hand slightly mash down and flatten cookies.  Do not be concerned about their size, I thought they looked WAY too small at first but they basically double in size once they are baked.
Bake at 375 for 8-9 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to completely cool before icing.

Step 3: The Icing-
You can make your own icing with the following easy recipe or you can cheat and just buy plain white vanilla cake icing.

1/2 cup butter
2 cups powdered sugar
2 teasp Vanilla

Mix all ingredients together with hand held mixer until everything is well combined.

Once you have your icing done you can add food coloring to make the Oreos festive for any Holiday or special occasion.  I tried to make mine orange for Halloween but I couldn't find any orange food coloring so I tried mixing some yellow and red I already had at home.  It ended up being more of a pastel orange though. 
adding the icing
I think I would like to make some red and green ones to give away as Christmas gifts!

Step 4: Assemble the Cookies:
If you have cake decorating supplies use an icing bag to pipe the icing onto the center of 1 Cookie.  Take a second cookie and lightly press it on top so that the icing squishes out towards the edges.
I do not have any cake decorating supplies so I used a ziploc baggie for this.  Fill it with the icing, squeeze all the extra air out and zip shut.  Cut a tiny hole in 1 corner and use to squeeze the icing out.  Make sure you squeeze out ALL of the air in the bag!  I learned the hard way if there is any air left in it the pressure from you squeezing on the baggie will cause the side to burst open and you will end up with icing all over the place WHOOPS.  At least it was a tasty mess to clean up.

Over all these cookies were very easy to make, much easier than I thought and they taste "AH-MAZ-ING!" to quote my 4 yr old.  I am going to make some more tonight for him to take to his preschool class Halloween party tomorrow.
They are not identical to store bought Oreos, I personally think they are better though. They are bigger, at least mine were hehe, and are more of a cross between the traditional crunchy Oreos and the soft larger Oreo Caksters.  They were slightly crunchy but had a texture/consistency closer to a crunchy chocolate chip cookie than an Oreo.  They still tasted yummy and melted in your mouth when dunked in milk.  Best of all, since you made them yourself you know exactly whats in them!




Friday, October 22, 2010

Grandma's Meatloaf, a Comfort Food

For years this is one of the only things I knew how to really cook that was not from a box or package. I remembered watching my Grandma make it so many times as a child and it was so simple that it stuck with me.  I know its good because Ted has told me more than once that its better than his moms meatloaf.  The biggest compliment, in my book, that a man can give you about your cooking is that its better than his moms.  Especially since Ted's mom is an AWESOME cook!  Ted has told me that he actually hated meatloaf growing up and this is one of his favorite meals that I make now.  This kiddos love it too.  Everyone practically licks their plates clean.  I hope your family will enjoy it as much as ours!

What You Will Need-
1-2 lbs (depending upon your family size/appetite) of ground beef
2 slices of bread-heels work best
1 egg
3-4 potatoes peeled and cut into 4-6 slices (depending upon size of potato)
3-4 carrots peeled and cut into medallions
Salt, Pepper, Onion Powder and Garlic Powder to taste
1 jar Spaghetti Sauce-any variety you like

Step 1: Prepare the Bread Crumbs-
In a food processor tear up bread slices into chunks.  I like to use the heels because those usually do not get eaten for anything else.  GREAT TIP: I put them in a ziplock baggie and keep them in the freezer to pull out when I need to make bread crumbs.
Bread Crumbs
Add seasoning to taste.  Once again, like most of my recipes I am sure you have noticed, I do not measure this.  Experiment with it and see what your family likes.  You can even try other seasonings if you like.
To guesstimate the best I can I imagine I put like maybe 1/8 of a teasp salt and pepper and about 1 teasp onion and garlic powder.
Pulse food processor until everything is mixed and are coarse crumbs.

Mixing the Meatloaf
Step: 2: The Meatloaf Itself-
In a large bowl add meat, bread crumbs and eggs and mix until well combined.
I use my hands for this.  God gave you hands, don't be afraid to get them dirty, they do wash.  I wash my hands first (obviously, we would hope I do!) and take my rings off then I get in there and mash away.  Its a great stress reliever for me.
Once everything is good and mixed for meat into a "loaf" and place into a deep casserole dish that preferably has a lid to go with it.

Step 3: Add Veggies, Sauce and Cook-
Add Sauce
Recycled Foil is also a great "Green" buy

Layer potatoes and carrots around the meat.  I like to buy Organic Carrots because they are a cheap way to get some organic veggies to your family.  I would LOVE to be able to buy everything Organic but our budget does not allow for this.  However, Organic Carrots are barely more than the regular carrots.  A regular bag of carrots is a around $1 at our local stores, the Organic are like $1.28 or something like that.  Its just pennies more.  Frozen Organic Broccoli is also a great buy, especially from Costco.
Dump about 1/2 of the jar of sauce on top of the meat and veggies.
Cover everything with foil and bake in the oven at 350 for 2.5-3 hrs.
Dish up and enjoy!

Organic Carrots-A great buy for your family

Meatloaf all ready to enjoy
SIDES: Home made rolls and a garden salad are GREAT side dishes with this meal.

*Sometimes I only bake carrots with the meatloaf and make mashed potatoes to go with it instead of the baked potatoes.

This is a very special recipe to me, one that's close to my heart so please let me know if you enjoy it as much as we do.  Its my comfort food of choice.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Gravy, its not as scary as you think

I originally posted this on my own personal blog, Adventures In Mommyhood but always meant the post to go here.  So some of you may have seen this but for most of you this is a new post.

I love gravy!  Honestly, who doesn't ?  If you say you don't you are living in denial.  Growing up my grandma made some of the best gravy I have ever had.  Its one of  MANY things I wish I had been smart enough to ask her to show me how to make before she passed away, but I didn't  When I moved out on my own I quickly realized I had ZERO cooking skills and no clue how to make gravy myself.  I didn't even know where to begin.  Gravy can be intimidating like that.  I would occasionally buy the prepackaged mixes in the store but they were never the same.  They often turned out lumpy and had some pretty questionable ingredients in them.

If the above sounds like you, I dedicate this blog to you.  It can be done, gravy does not have to be scary or intimidating.  It can be fun to make. 
WARNING: Once you learn you may find yourself making gravy with EVERYTHING.  This is a typical side effect of gravy makin skills and may fade over time as you realize you will have this power forever.  Use your powers for good only please.

After a few years of trying I just gave up on gravy, it was a dreary future of dry bland mashed potatoes for us.  Finally a good friend gave me a very simple recipe to follow.  This gave me the base line to learn from.  I am not going to type out an actual recipe here as gravy is more of a science experiment.  You have to play with it, mess with it a bit, change things around.  Depending on your tastes and preferences you may need way more fat, flour, or liquid to make the gravy the way you like it.  I will give you a basic idea to run with.

The basics you will need to get started are:

1. Some sort of fat: I personally save my bacon grease for such things as this.  I have an airtight container I keep in the fridge with bacon grease in it.  Bacon grease is great for flavor, I often add a little to oil for frying and such.  Think this is weird, people used to do this all the time, that's why home cooking tastes so good.  Fat is flavor people!  My grandma used to keep her grease out on the counter, not even in the fridge.  She had matching containers purchased from a store that were labeled "Flour" "Sugar" "Coffee" AND "Grease". 
Other alternatives you can use in place of bacon grease: butter, shortening or even vegetable oil.
You will want about 1/4 of a cup to start.  This may seem like a lot, you can use less at first if you like, but this seems to be the magic number for our families needs.

2. Flour:  Start out with 1/4 of a cup or so, this is a good starting amount.  You may have to add more later so have some extra on the counter within easy reach. 

3. Liquid: I use milk for a basic gravy, start with 1 cup.  You can also use water (I would do at least 1/2 water 1/2 milk though) and drippings from meat to make a meat based gravy.

4. Cooking Tools:  You will need a deep pan and wire whisk.  I have found the wire whisk is the best utensil in the kitchen for gravy makin.  It keeps things moving and keeps the gravy nice and smooth, lump free.  If you are one of the few who like lumps-I know there are some- use a fork.

You will want to have all of these ingredients and tools on the counter nearby, within arms reach as you NEVER want to walk away from the gravy once you start.  Gravy should always be the last thing you make, after everything else is done and ready to go.  The trick is to just keep it moving, keep that whisk dancing.

Place the pan on the stove top, medium-high heat.  Place the fat of your choice into the pan and let it melt.  You want it to get good and hot.  A nice way to check if its ready is to sprinkle a pinch of flour in, if the flour bubbles and sizzles its ready to add the rest.

When the fat is ready, add the flour.  At this point you, the pan and the whisk are one, you cannot walk away unless one of your kids is killing another, then you can let the gravy go, you can always make more.  Once the flour is in the pan WHISK WHISK WHISK.  Keep it moving.  The flour within seconds will absorb the fat and turn into a white pasty looking substance.

Once the flour has absorbed the fat (this will take about 30 seconds) add the liquid.  Start with 1 cup, you can add more later if needed.  Again WHISK WHISK WHISK.  Keep it moving.  The liquid will combine with the fat/flour mixture.  At this point you can add some seasonings if you like.  The only thing I ever add is pepper and that's only to the basic or breakfast gravy.  You can add salt, pepper, whatever you like though.

Keep on whisking, you will see it start to thicken up.  This is where the science experimentation and personal tastes come in.  As it thickens you will have to decide many things.
 Does this look like enough gravy for my family?
 If not you will want to add more flour followed by more liquid. 
Is it getting too thick?
If its too thick for your tastes add more liquid
Is it too thin?
If its too thin add more flour, this is what thickens the gravy.
As you make these changes don't forget to WHISK WHISK WHISK.  Keep it moving.
Once it is the amount and consistency that you like it is ready to eat and enjoy.

Gravy, YUM!
The biggest rule of gravy-other than WHISK WHISK WHISK  Keep it moving-is Don't set your heart on it.  At least not the first few times you make it.  Like any other experiment it will take time.  It will not be perfect the first time you make it, or maybe it will, who  knows.  Just keep trying, you will get it I promise.

We now enjoy gravy with an average of 2 meals a week.  OK, so maybe that's not real healthy but it just tastes SO DARN GOOD.  Once I got the basic gravy down, using fat flour and milk, I began to experiment with making meat gravies.  These are very simple too, you just replace the milk with the drippings of the meat..  They make great accompaniments to the meal.  If you made a pot roast, use the drippings for a gravy and pour it over the meat.  Make some potatoes or rolls to go with the gravy.  The possibilities are endless.  With meat gravies I often use butter in the place of bacon grease, not always though.  Your family, and their tummies, will thank you for  your new skills.

 Now go make some gravy!

Apples and Pork Chops, the perfect Fall Dinner

Normally I would never post a blog without taste testing the food first but I ma 100% convinced this is going to be yummy.  Maybe its just my apple obsession talking here.  The recipe was given to me and I was told it is good and several wanted me to post it soon so I am taking a leap here.

The original recipe called for only 4 pork chops, we are having company tonight so I used 6.  It also only called for 1 apple and some nutmeg, I expanded upon this based on the reviews Heather gave me when she gave me the recipe.  I am using Honey Crisp Apples with this recipe, of course, you can use whatever kind of apples you like. 

What You Will Need:
4-6 Pork Chops, whatever cut you would like
4-5 good size Apples
2 Tblsp Brown Sugar
1 Tblsp Granulated (white) Sugar
1 Teasp Cinnamon
1/2 Teasp Nutmeg
3-4 Tblsp Butter
Salt and Pepper to taste

Pork Chops-fresh from the pig
Step 1: Prep The Pork-
In a medium frying pan coat bottom with oil.  Allow oil to become nice and hot over medium/high heat.  Lightly Salt and Pepper the pork on each side.  Once oil is hot brown chops on each side.  You are not trying to cook the meat here, just brown and bit and seal in the juices.  You want to cook about 1 minute per side.

Step 2: The Apples-
Peel and core apples.  When I am planning on cooking apples I like to peel them with a potato peeler.  It takes pretty much just the peel and saves all the yummy goodness inside for you to use, no apple is wasted. 
Once apples are peeled and cored chop them into slices as if you were making an apple pie.  Each apple will make about 10-12 slices.
apple slices nicely coated
In a large bowl combine Brown and Granulated Sugar, Cinnamon and Nutmeg.  Add in apple slices and toss with your hand until they are evenly coated.

Step 3: Add Everything To The Crockpot-
Layer 3 pork chops on the bottom of the crockpot, top with half of the apples.  Dot with butter.  I did not measure this part but I imagine I used 1-2 Tblsp of butter per layer.
Layer remaining chops, the rest of the apples and dot with butter again.
In order to get all of the seasoning out I added about 2 Tblsp of warm water to the bowl and splashed it around a bit so that it got almost all the seasoning left in the bowl and then poured this into the crockpot too.  Thats totally optional though, I am a cheapskate like that and want to make sure everything gets used.

Step 4: Cook and Enjoy-
in the crockpot and all ready too cook
Cook on low setting for 6-8 hrs and enjoy.  I will come add more once we have actually eaten this and will post a picture of the finished product.

Just realized I never came back to post the final results.  Sorry, there is no picture, we were all starving and just starting eating it.
I checked everything at the 6 hr mark and decided it needed more sugar.  I am going to leave the amounts above as a starting point and you can decide for yourself if you want more.  I added another Tblsp of granulated sugar and I am not sure how much more brown sugar.  When I make this again I will most likely use 1/4 of a cup of brown sugar and 2 Tblsp of granulated sugar.

I do plan to make this again, it was very yummy although I wouldn't recommend using more than 4 pork chops.  I used 6 because we had company coming and it just seemed to be too much for the recipe.  I think it would've tasted much better with just 4.  I also plan to layer all of the apples in the middle next time as the apples on top did not cook as well as the ones in the middle did.

So there you have it, the final verdict: Good but needed much more sugar and less meat so as not to overwhelm the overall taste of the dish. 

This is a keeper though and I will be making it again.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Chinese Easy Breezy Style

This is one of the first recipes my friend Sheena shared with me.  One of the things that really inspired the journey I have been on the last 2 yrs with my love/hate relationship with cooking.  I say Love AND Hate because most of the time I really do love to cook, but everyone once in a while its nothing more than another chore to check off the to do list for the day. 

I went through a very long "hate" episode while pregnant with Sariah, the entire pregnancy to be exact.  Being pregnant and keeping up with 3 kiddos was too much for me most days and the last thing I wanted was to cook something, especially when most foods grossed me out. We lapsed back into our old ways of take out, easy cook, processed and prepackaged foods.  That was also the bleak few months when Ted was not working and we were barely scraping by so there really wasn't much take out, maybe once a month, and the prepackaged processed stuff was often cheaper and easier to buy.

Since Sariah was born I have started to really enjoy cooking again.  This was the first time I had made this dish in over a year and as soon as I tasted it I realized how much I had missed it. 

This is an easy and fun dish to make.  One our whole family loves to eat, although I do have to make egg rolls with just sausage in them for Teddy, he is totally anti-veggies lately.  I am thinking about trying some of those recipes where they hide the veggies in other things.  I will be sure to post and review them if I do.

Do not be intimidated by the ingredients or length of this recipe, it is really so simple I promise.  It looks like a lot written out but its not. After you make it once or twice you won't even need the directions anymore.

What you will need:
1 roll Jimmy Dean All Natural Sausage (or any mild breakfast sausage)
1 pkg Broccoli Cole Slaw(or regular Cole slaw mix if you prefer)
1 pkg egg roll wraps
1 cup uncooked Jasmine rice. (or any rice you prefer)
1 egg
Soy Sauce to taste

Step One: Cooking the plain Rice-

Prepare rice according to package directions.  I have read for fried rice it is ideal to cook the rice 1-2 hours ahead of time and allow it to sit so that dries out some and it's not real moist. However I almost always forget this and the fried rice still tastes yummy and cooks perfectly fine.
I think Jasmine rice is the best for dishes like this but I am stuck with plain long grain white rice until I have used up the huge bag I bought at Costco haha.

Step 2: The Basic Sausage and Cole Slaw Mixture (will be used in rice and egg rolls)-

In a large and deep pan brown sausage.  I learned a great tip for this while watching Rachael Ray, use a potato masher while cooking.  It easily separates the sausage so you don't have to fight with it.
I like to use the All Natural sausage because I try to steer clear of any unnecessary chemicals or preservatives in the food I serve my family.
Pork sausage is surprisingly low when it comes to grease so there is no need to drain the meat.  Trust me, you want the flavor that the little grease that's there will give.
Once sausage is done add 1/2 the package of broccoli Cole slaw- you can add the entire package if you like. We, as in Ted and Teddy, like less veggies. Plus I am a cheapskate and this allows for the package to make 2 meals instead of 1 because the egg roll wraps have enough for 2 meals as well.  This helps stretch the food dollars which is always a plus in my book.  Buy 2 packages of sausage plus 1 package of cole slaw and wraps and you have 2 meals.
Put a couple of shakes of Soy Sauce in the pan and mix around. I don't measure this. Maybe 1-2 tblsp?
Cook sausage and cole slaw until veggies start to become tender (about 5 minutes)
Once veggies are tender dump the mixture into a large bowl and place the now empty pan back on the stove.

Step 3: Fried Rice-Add some oil to the pan, maybe 1/4 of a cup-again I don't measure this part. Allow the oil to become nice and hot.  Medium-High heat is best for this.
While oil is heating up crack egg into a small bowl and scramble.  You can use more than one egg if you like.  The first time I made this dish I used 2 or 3 eggs, Ted requested less eggs next time so now I just use 1.
Once oil is hot add egg to center of pan. Allow to cook a few seconds and then dump the rice in.
Mix rice and egg around until well combine.
Add a few more shakes of Soy Sauce and half of the sausage/cole slaw mixture. Combine all of these together, allow to cook a few minutes and then move to a back burner and keep on low heat so rice stays warm.  Stir occasionally while cooking egg rolls

Step 4: Egg Rolls-In a new pan add 1/2 cup or so of oil and place over medium high heat.
While you are waiting for the oil to get hot assemble the egg rolls. Place a large spoonful of the mixture in the center of the egg roll wraps and roll up.  I have posted picture to help show you how to roll them.  You can use some water on the edge to help seal rolls shut if you like, I am far too lazy for this and I just make sure I put the rolls folded side down in the pan so they get sealed shut by cooking.
Usually by the time I get 4 rolled up the oil is hot so I place those in the pan and make another 3-4. Watch them though, they need to be flipped about every minute or so. So make 1 or 2 egg rolls, flip the ones cooking, then make the rest.
Cook until egg rolls are nice and crispy and brown on all sides, flipping about every 30-60 seconds so they do not burn.

Step 5: Dish up Meal and enjoy:
Serve egg rolls and rice together, make sure to report back if you like them.

This is not the original recipe that was given to me.  That is one of my favorite things about cooking, making a recipe your own.  So feel free to experiment, change things up a bit if you like.  Cooking is meant to suit the tastes of you and your family.  Our family does not like onions so you will never find onions in my recipes, I omit them when a recipe calls for some.  If there is something you don't like leave it out, or replace it.  The original recipe called for regular cole sale mix, I choose the broccoli because at the time Teddy loved broccoli and would eat that, he wouldn't touch the regular cole slaw mix.  I have also tried chicken and shrimp in place of the sausage.  They were good but the sausage just gives it so much more flavor.

Step 1: add a spoonful of the filling in the center of the wrap

Step 2: Fold bottom corner of wrap up towards top corner

Step 3: Fold 1 side corner in towards the center

Step 4: Fold other side corner of wrap in towards the center

Step 5: Roll up and you are finished


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Chicken Stir Fry... The easy way!

This is the easy version..
get a packet of stir fry seasoning found in the spice section
of your local supermarket. for every lb of chicken you have.

1-2 chicken boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into cubes.
and take your pick or amount of any of these usual stir fry veggies.
baby corn
water chestnuts
bamboo shoots
red (yellow or green) bell pepper
scallions (to taste)
snap peas
soy sauce (I like using liquid aminos better)

The beauty of this dish is you can add or take away any of those or your own ingredients
and still have an impressive dish, if you are a picky eater this is for you! add what you like!

You sautee the chicken in a large skillet or wok with a bit of olive oil some salt and pepper and the chopped scallions.

once it's browned you add the tough veggies first, for example the broccoli, the peppers, the chestnuts and go ahead and add the packet flavoring according to its instructions.

let it simmer for a bit with a lid so the veggies can cook (about 5 mins)
next add the medium veggies, like bamboo shoots, snap peas, carrot etc. simmer a bit more (about 2 mins)

lastly add the cabbage as much as you'd like I like a lot in mine because by the time it's cooked you can hardly see it!
simmer another 2 minutes with the lid..

give it another good toss and serve over white rice!!

and impressive yet easy dish!
Enjoy! <3<3
Tanya E.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

For the love of CROCKPOTS

I am a full time working mom.  I leave my house daily at 7:30am and some days don't get home til 5:30pm.  And you know what I never have ANY desire to do?  Make dinner.  I just want to catch up with my husband, play with Mason, maybe catch a TV show, or read a book.  Whoever said cooking dinner was a relaxing way to start your evening at home, must have been drinking not thinking when they said that.

But duty calls, and my family deserves more then fast food or cereal most nights.  If it was up to my husband our 4 year old would be eating pancakes, ice cream, and sprite often.  So what is a busy mom to do?

Or pull yours out of the cabinet that hold the appliances you never use.

For real.. do it, you won't be sorry.

It is so wondeful to come home at then end of a long day and you unlock your front door, arms laden with kids, school bags, mail, etc.. and you are greeted with the delicious smell of dinner.

Taco Soup is one of my "go to" crockpot recipes.   My husband and I love it, and even though I cannot get our 4 year old to eat it, I do make sure I pull some browned ground beef aside for him before adding it to the pot. And the leftovers are even better for lunch the next day!

Taco Soup
* 1 envelope taco seasoning
 * 1 pound lean ground beef

* 1 can (15 ounces) kidney beans

* 1 can (11 to 15 ounces) whole kernel corn
* 1 10 oz can Rotel tomatoes 
* 1 can diced tomatoes
* 1 sm can chopped chile peppers (4 ounces)
* 1 can (15 ounces) pinto beans 
* 1 envelope Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Powder

Brown the ground beef; drain well. I will usually brown the ground beef the night before so at 630am that is one less step I must do. Add everything to your slow cooker simmer in slow cooker on LOW for 6 to 8 hours. serve with tortilla chips, cheese, sour cream, or salsa.
Try it soon, I promise you won't be sorry.. 
- Jessica

Enfrijoladas a mexican comfort food.

Enfrijoladas were always a staple at my mom's house, they're fast easy and cheap!
Well depends..
I like making my pinto beans from scratch but you can make any variation you'd like.
heck you could even use canned beans!
The original recipe calls for Manchego cheese and Mexican cream  but I use what I have so
I used jack cheese and sour cream.
I am not a measuring kind of person so I'll do a "guesstimate"
3-10  "arbol chiles" you can find these peppers in the spice section or the Mexican section of your grocery store..
I use 10 but I like things spicy, so of course for a milder spice add only 2 or 3.
2 cups of Cooked pinto beans
2 cups of bean broth or water
cheese  I prefer Jack cheese, pepperjack or mozzarella
sour cream
iceberg lettuce chopped

and of course tortillas....

Now let me tell you a little bit about tortillas.  Those packaged ones like Mission or guerrero tortillas are "no bueno"
If you have a Mexican store or know where to get the good kind, do so.. Tortillas should not have preservatives and they
should be yellow! Now if you don't have something like that and you must use the packaged kind fine.. just don't get mission!
They fall apart too easily for this dish.

Take a griddle or skillet and roast the peppers
add peppers, beans, bean broth an puree in blender it should be a batter consistency
if it's too watery don't worry it will thicken again when you put the sauce back in the skillet

in a skillet add some oil and fry as many tortillas (on both sides) as you want this is to make them pliable.
you should have a nice stack of fried tortillas.

In the same skillet get rid of any excess oil and pour your bean sauce and heat

Here comes to fun part, traditionally you would take a tortilla and let it dip on one side then flip it to dip the other side
You fold it in half then fold the half in half..  you get little triangles.
add cheese on top sour cream and lettuce and you're done!

However my husband likes them like this you dip tortilla on both sides, add cheese, close tortilla in half serve them
add more cheese on top and your toppings.

 I have also seen people roll them up like enchiladas and stuff them with chicken or cheese and then backed in the oven.
the beauty of this dish is you can make it your own!
work with what you have!
I'm on Weight watchers so a more low/fat calorie way would be to "fake fry": the tortillas
using a lot of cooking spray then using mozzarella cheese instead of jack.
The sky is the limit!
Enjoy! <3
post by Tanya E.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


One thing that has happened since I became a mom, I pay more attention to those nifty little ingredient labels on food packages. This has really opened my eyes.  I cannot believe some of the things they put in commercially processed foods.  I don't feel comfortable feeding a lot of these unknown processed ingredients with names I cannot pronounce to my family.  Therefore I have started on a quest to learn to prepare more and more of my own foods.

Before my quest the idea of something like making my own lasagna or bread seemed so far fetched.  Who actually does that?  Who has time for that?  Why would they want to when they can buy it already made?  The answers are simple, when you make it yourself you can control whats in it and its surprising how easy it really is.

There were still some staples on my shelves that never even occurred to me that I could make.  One of these was Taco Seasoning.  I love taco seasoning.  I use it several times a week, its a great and easy way to season meat.  Then one day the thought just popped into my head, obviously this was an imitation of something much better.  There must be a way to make my own.  I looked at the ingredient list for any recognizable spices and googled away.  From this I came up with a great recipe. 
Even if you are not concerned with commercially processed foods give this a try.  Its a money saver as well as good for you, much cheaper to make your own.

The bowl on the left contains the home made Taco Seasoning:
6 Tblsp Chili Powder
2 Tblsp Cumin
4 Tblsp Paprika
3 Tblsp Onion Powder
1 Tblsp Garlic Powder
1/2 Teasp Cayenne Powder (optional, makes seasoning extra spicy)- I left this out as I didn't have any.
Mix together and store in airtight container. Use 2-4 Tblsp (or whatever desired amount)  and a small amount of water (maybe 1/8 cup) to season meat.
On the right is the pre packaged taco seasoning which, according to the package itself, contains:
Maltodextrin, Salt, Chili Pepper, Onion Powder, Monosodium Glutamate, Corn Starch, Garlic Powder, Spice, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Silicon Dioxide, Natural Flavor, Etgoxyquin.

Which looks better to you?  Which sounds better to you?

I have been using this taco seasoning for a few weeks now and LOVE IT!  Its great to sprinkle on meat to give an extra kick.  I put it in hamburgers sometimes, its a multipurpose spice that you will love to have in your kitchen.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Who was your cooking inspiration, the 1 (or maybe more) person who really inspired your love for cooking?  For me there were 2 such people.

Growing up it was my Grandma.  In my childhood eyes she made it all seem so effortless, magical even.  I cannot ever recall seeing her use or follow a recipe.  It was all in her head.  She could whip up the yummiest meals with ease.  I knew when I grew up I wanted to cook those same meals for my own family.  I envisioned myself cooking beside my grandma for big family events like Thanksgiving and Christmas.  In my naive childish mind I thought she would always be there for me to call to ask questions on how to make this or that.  I still have her phone number memorized to this day.

My Grandma passed away when I was 17.  I never did ask her how to make most of the awesome things she made.  They are all lost to me now.  I wish I had a time machine so I could go back, pick her brain and write it all down.  I know its in my mind somewhere and slowly some things have come back to me.  Just simple things though, like her meatloaf-a recipe I promise I will post soon.

Poor poor Ted, because I lost my grandma so early I never was much of a cook.  My idea of "cooking" involved a lot of frozen and pre-packaged meals.  Our first few years together we had a lot of Hamburger Helper,  frozen dinners, frozen pizzas,  and mysterious looking things that came out of cans.  A splurge for us, what we considered a really "good" meal was something like a Stouffers Lasagna or Banquet Homestyle meal.  Needless to say, we ate out a lot.

After Teddy was born I really wanted to change this.  I was no longer working and wanted to be the traditional stay at home mom who was an amazing cook.  I wanted to have fresh baked cookies on hand all the time.  Isn't that what SAHMs are supposed to do?  Ok, so maybe that really only happens in black and white sitcoms but still, it was the vision I had.  I tried to teach myself but I had zero skill and no idea what I was doing.  The simplest of recipes were so intimidating and if it had more than 5 or 6 ingredients I wouldn't attempt it at all.  It was beginning to look a little hopeless for me, and my family.

The second person who inspired my inner chef is my real life BFF, Sheena.  I met her a little over 2 yrs ago.  I can remember the first time I went to her house for a lunch playdate.  To me lunch was frozen burritos or maybe a box of mac & cheese.  She made a better meal for us to have for lunch than I had ever made in my life.  I remember watching her and having flashbacks of my grandma.  She had the same ease in the kitchen, the same knack for how to put things together and make them taste amazing.  I was embarrassed to ask her at first but over time I started asking her to teach me how to make this or to give me the recipe for that.

Slowly but surely I began to become acquainted with my kitchen, to use the tools I had to make real meals for my family.  Two years later and if you were to come and look in my kitchen you would not be able to find a single box dinner, no frozen meal, no can mystery concoctions.  All that is there now are single ingredients that when put together make healthy delicious meals for my family.

I often tell Sheena I owe it all to her, and really I do.  I hope she will want to do some guest blogs for us because she is an amazing cook!  She said something to me last night that really stuck out in my mind.  She said I always had it in me, I just needed a little push.  That stuck out to me because I think we all have a little inner Rachael Ray/Paula Dean/who ever your favorite chef is in us.  We just need the confidence to let them out.  Did I become this miracle chef over night? NO!  It took a lot of practice, trial and errors.  Are all of the meals I make melt in your mouth make you moan delish?  Not even close!  I still make many mistakes in the kitchen.  The thing is, the bad meals occur less and less between the awesome ones.  Its to the point now that when I do make something bad Ted teases me and asks me what happened that day.

I hope our blog will help inspire many of you to just try.  What the worst that can happen, you mess up and end up with pizza for dinner instead?  Cooking is the same as everything else in life, you will never learn how if you don't try.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Welcome Welcome Everyone.

Welcome to our new blog, we hope you all will enjoy it here and participate in the many activities we have planned. This blog started out of friendship and we want that to be a big part of your experience here. We hope it will feel warm and inviting to you as if we are all together in one big kitchen cooking, laughing and having a good time.

The founders of 3 Moms and a Kitchen have been good friends for almost 5 yrs now. We met while pregnant or shortly after giving birth in March 2006. We all were part of a small, closely knit group of mommies who had babies in March of that year. From that 1 common bond our friendships grew and flourished. As we became closer and closer we began sharing other experience in our daily lives beyond what our then babies/toddlers, and now preschoolers were up to, or into depending on the day. We started a reoccurring "Whats For Dinner Thread" that naturally turned into a recipe swap thread as we read the scrumptious meal ideas from the other mommy's.

Life continued, many of us went on to have second-sometimes 3rd and 4th-babies. Our cooking skills improved and grew from our little recipe swaps and VOILA the blog was born. Tanya had the idea first, Jess and I just jumped on the band wagon, so I guess you could say she is the "brains" of the operation. There are many more March Mommies we will be featuring and highlighting to guest blog and share great recipes and cooking ideas. From there we will branch out with others, maybe you can guest blog for us too. If you have a great idea please feel free to share it.

While our main focus and purpose is food, as with most mommy friendships we will be expanding and writing topics that span the entire journey of mommyhood. We will share great tips we have learned from each other on many other topics such as cleaning, discipline, education, health, safety and over all well being-oh and I am sure a "few" on how to remain SANE as a mommy. Again we will welcome any and all guest bloggers in these areas. We even hope to uncover some of the forgotten mysteries of cooking and cleaning that many of our mothers and grandmothers knew but never shared with us, most likely because we never asked. If its about being a mom, we will cover it at some point I can promise.

We encourage you all to come back and visit often. Life often gets in the way but we are going to try to keep this a fun and active blog. We have so many great ideas planned in the up coming weeks and months. We are going to do some challenges where we will pick one fun recipe and challenge you all to make it that week and review your results. We plan to share these results in blog carnivals(is that right Jess, is that what they are called? haha). We will have some fun contests coming up soon with REAL prizes that you can win. Many of these prizes will be made by our very talented Tanya, she makes great Punk Rock Baby Gear.

Make sure to not only follow us here but on Facebook as well. Most of our contests will be posted on Facebook as well as fun daily topics not posted in the blog. If the link to our FB page is not up on the blog right now, it will be up soon. If its not there and you just can't wait to follow us on FB you can search for the page, its under the same name "3 Moms and a Kitchen"

We hope you are all as excited as we are to start this journey together. Let the cooking and chit chatting begin.

Christy, Jessica, and Tanya
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