Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Motivational Monday: Make room for those winter clothes

Well it is official; North Dakota has had its first frost of the season. While we in Fargo skipped the big chill for now, we all know that the winter winds and snow and those pesky cold temperatures are right around the corner. SO what to do with all of those summer clothes that are now squeezed in between your down parka? I got this idea from DeAnna S. and Beth P., they pack up their summer clothes in their luggage. Talk about positive thinking! When they are ready to go on a trip, they don’t have to pull down boxes of clothes and sort through what they want to take. They just grab the suitcases and run screaming out the door!

So plan a little ahead now, as you put the clothes in the suitcase take the time to look at the clothes and give them the old “love, love” test. Do you really love, love these clothes? Would you wear them next season? Really, would you want to be seen on vacation in those jean short-shorts that loved the ‘80’s decade more than this one? The clothes that you want to donate, just box those up for now. Why you may ask….because the thrift and second hand stores are not accepting those clothes right now. If you have the room, store them for a couple of months. This is especially true for kids clothes, most kids’ consignment clothes only accept seasonal clothing right before the season starts, not after.
SO get packing and while you’re at it, dream of where you want to travel to as you pack away those summer clothes!

To Simplified, Joyful Living,

Melissa Schmalenberger

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Food Friday: What's for Dinner? A Hotdish, Sweet and Sour Chicken and a Casserole

Here are three family friendly recipes that I received from my friend Carol B. Carol is a busy full time working mom with two kids of her own plus two step kids.....she know what busy is!

Grandma D's Hotdish
1 lb ground beef
1/4 cup chopped onion
8 oz can stewed tomatoes
One can tomato soup
2 tsp salt or clove (I use salt)
One cup sour cream
3 oz cream cheese
5 oz cooked egg noodles

Brown the ground beef with the chopped onion. Stir in the stewed tomatoes, tomato soup and salt (or clove). Blend in sour cream, cream cheese and cooked noodles. Turn into a two quart casserole dish. Bake covered at 350 for 45 minutes.

Sweet-n-Sour BBQ Chicken

3 to 4 lbs chicken breasts
Plain cooked rice

1 cup Russian Dressing
1 cup apricot preserves
6 Tbsp onion soup mix

Lay chicken breasts in an ungreased 9x13 pan. Mix the sauce ingredients and spoon over all pieces of chicken. Bake, uncovered at 325 for 1 ½ hours. Serve over plain cooked rice.

Be sure the oven temperature isn't too hot as this will burn easily. You can also use this sauce with steak or pork chops; add just before meat is finished baking.

Wild Rice and Chicken Casserole
1 package Uncle Ben's wild rice mix
1 cup celery, diced
½ cup chopped onions
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can water chestnuts, sliced and drained
1 cup sour cream
½ cup grated Cheddar cheese
2 cups chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
½ cup slivered almonds

Cook rice mix as package directs with celery and onions. Add the remaining ingredients. Mix well and pour into a baking dish. Bake at 350 for one hour.

Image courtesy Google Images

Wednesday Wisdom: Apple Time

Please welcome my guest blogger Deb Jenkins. Deb is one talented lady who is an inspiration to many. You can find her weekly articles in The High Plains Reader in its All About Food Section.
I wonder how many of you think like I do about apples. I mean the ones we have in our yard. I think of them like zucchini when they produce there are a million of them. And believe me I have no idea what kind I have in my back yard only that this year I want to make something with them before the squirrels get the best of them. This is our second home and the second apple tree. I have yet to walk out and even just pick one and eat it.

Maybe I’ll be adventurous and try making something with apples that is a little out of my comfort zone, which means I need to search for that on the food network site. I already know that I want to make a pie, apple crisp and maybe even try apple butter (I am sure there’s lots of sugar in that, hmm). But an adventure down the path of apple world sounds inviting. So that is what I did and came up with the two recipes I am sharing with you here. What I found was that there was a recipe from Guy Fieri. Ok not to get way off the subject, but have any of you ever seen his shows on the food channel? This is a person that I actually watched compete for a position on the food network. I have to agree that they made the right choice. He now has something like four different cooking shows on the food network, each completely different than the other. OK, enough on the plugging. But he had the most unusual apple meal and also one of my favorite items to eat in the recipe, Yukon Potatoes, YUM! So I have that to share with you and then as I read over my article I realized that I had a comment about sugar. Something we should all look at I think, it just creeps up on you in many foods, and it is in EVERYTHING!! But I thought I should have a recipe that was fun and low or no sugar for those of you that want to try something different with apples. Hey I found a good one too. It comes from the ACTOS Type 2 diabetes site. By the way I LOVE sugar, don't get me wrong , just ask my friend Mary C.

Adams' Apple Mashed PotatoesIngredients
3 1/2 pounds baby Yukon gold potatoes, halved
Kosher salt
8 to 10 garlic cloves
Freshly cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
3 tablespoons butter
2 Granny Smith apples, cored and diced

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Put the potatoes in a large pot and cover by 1-inch with cold water. Bring the water to a boil over high heat, add salt, to taste, and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, create a boat shape out of aluminum foil and add the garlic cloves. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and drizzle with oil. Seal the foil and roast until the garlic is nicely caramelized, about 30 minutes. Heat the half-and-half in a small saucepan over low heat until hot.

3. Drain the potatoes and put them back into the pot. The heat from the pot will continue to dry out the potatoes. Add the half-and-half, butter and roasted garlic and mash. Fold in the apples and season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve.

Cranberry Apple StrudelIngredients:
Butter-flavored nonstick cooking spray
1 tablespoon margarine
1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
2 medium Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, and diced
1/4 cup raisins
1 can (16 ounces) whole-berry cranberry sauce
6 sheets phyllo dough
3 tablespoons graham cracker crumbs, divided
1/4 cup almonds, toasted and chopped

Yield: 8 servingsServing size: 1 slice

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray cookie sheet with cooking spray. Set aside. Melt margarine in large saucepan over medium heat. Add brown sugar; bring to a boil. Add apples and raisins; cook 10 minutes or until apples can be easily pierced with fork. Remove from heat. Add cranberry sauce; mix well. Set aside.

2. Place 1 sheet of phyllo on a piece of parchment paper with narrow side farthest away. Spray phyllo with cooking spray; sprinkle 1-1/2 teaspoons graham cracker crumbs on phyllo. Overlap second sheet of phyllo over first sheet about 1 inch down from top. Spray with cooking spray; sprinkle with 1-1/2 teaspoons crumbs. Continue overlapping remaining phyllo sheets and crumbs, spraying with cooking spray between each layer.

3. Spoon cooled cranberry mixture into center of phyllo. Sprinkle chopped almonds over mixture. Fold bottom and sides of phyllo to cover mixture, forming an envelope. With floured hands, roll filled phyllo, jelly-roll fashion, to form strudel. Place strudel on prepared cookie sheet. Spray top with cooking spray. Make 8 diagonal cuts across top of strudel. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

4. Cool on wire rack 30 minutes. Cut crosswise into 8 pieces
Saturated fat 1 gCholesterol 0 mgCarbohydrates 43 gFiber 62 gProtein 2 gSodium 118 mgSO both of these recipes call for apples that I would have to go and purchase. I am really going to be adventurous and use my own off my tree. I could be in for a very big awaking I am sure. But the point was to use MY apples.

Well, until next week. Eat well and stay safe. Any questions or comments email deb@hpr1.com

Monday, September 21, 2009

Motivational Monday: Flip Flop Flip

Here in North Dakota the leaves are starting to change colors and the temperature is getting cooler. So now is the time to think about putting away those summer items and get ready for Fall. What I need to work on this week is taking all of the flip flops and summer sandals and figure out which ones have another season in them and which ones have met their purpose and now it is time to go to the flip flop heaven in the sky. Why must I do this soon….because I bought some super cute shoes for the Fall and I follow the one in one out rule….so something needs to go. I also bought new shoes for the boys so their older pairs need to be retired as well. This is how we figure out how many shoes to keep for the boys.

· They each get one pair of good athletic shoes that they typically wear every day
· Then they get a pair of yard shoes. These are the shoes that they do the hypothetical yard work in, or if they have an outdoor activity they wear this pair as I don’t care if they get full of mud and muck. When they get a new pair of athletic shoes, the old pair gets retired as yard shoes.
· Of course they have a summer pair of flip flops (unless you are my middle child who hates to wear any shoe but an athletic shoe….something about him having really long toes….yeah they are like the length of my fingers, no lie)
· One pair of shoes for each of the sports they are in, be it football, basketball, track, etc.
· Now if you have girls….good luck as all of the above rules will be thrown out the window, but if you can practice the one in one out rule, you will be far ahead in the game.

So I challenge you to go through that pile of shoes and start to sort….you would be surprised how many shoes you can get rid of in order to make less clutter (or room for another pair).

To Joyful, Simplified Living,

Melissa Schmalenberger
Image courtesy of Bing Images

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Food Friday: What's for Dinner? Broccoli Soup and Pasta

These next two recipes come from a entrepreneurial working mom of four children who with her husband started Mosaic Foods in Fargo.

Creamy Broccoli Soup
(*serve this with crusty bread...great meal!)
Serves 4
Prep time 15 minutes

In a large saucepan, heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add 1 medium onion, sliced and cook until soft. Add 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg. Stir in 4 cups chicken broth, 1 1/2 cups water, 1/3 cup rolled oats, and 1 1/2 pounds of broccoli. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until broccoli is tender. Puree the soup in batches, return to pot and season one more time with salt and pepper. Serve!"

Pasta with Onions, Smoked Bacon & ParmesanServes 6
Prep time 10 minutes (or so)

Cook 1 pound of pasta. Drain, reserve 2 cups of hot pasta water, and return pasta to pot. While you are doing this, cook your bacon, remove but do not discard the bacon fat. Add onions, garlic and a little thyme to the bacon fat in the skillet. Cook slightly, careful not to burn the garlic. Pour onion mixture and 1 cup of pasta water over the pasta. Sprinkle with cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Toss; add more water if it seems dry. Serve immediately with the bacon crumbled over the top.

Frozen peas are a great addition to this!

Image courtesy of Google Images

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wednesday Wisdom: Organizing Your Digital Photos

Today's Wisdom is written by Kathi Salvevold who will help us get a handle on that digital photo (dis)organization. Bonus, if you look really closely on her website you may find a really cool picture she took of me and my boys last fall.....kinda like Where's Waldo!

How many of you can relate to one or more of the following:
o I have uploaded 983 photos of my daughter blowing out the candles on her birthday cake. Hmm…just a thought, but I don’t think I need THAT many candle pictures.

o I know I have this really cool picture on my computer from the family reunion…just need to find it here. Is it IMG00879.jpg? No. Okay, maybe it’s IMG00880.jpg? Nope. Who named these, anyway?

o I haven’t printed a picture since February...February of 2007 that is!

o My computer just crashed…I can still get my photos off there, right?

Okay, so you know why it needs to be done, but the question really is how do you start the daunting task of organizing the photos on your computer? There are so many programs you can use to organize and edit your photos, and I have used many: iPhoto, Picasa, Bridge, Lightroom and more. Whether you use software designated for photos or not, I have found myself using a few universal steps to help de-clutter, organize and back-up the photos on my computer.

Tip 1: Organize pictures right away after uploading them.This may seem like an obvious tip, but how many of you actually do this? The key to staying organized is to do the work up-front. You will find it really pays off in the end! If you absolutely do not have time to rename and organize your pictures after uploading them, I suggest creating a folder (aka album) titled “unsorted” to TEMPORARILY store your uploaded photos. Don’t import your next batch of photos until your “unsorted” folder is empty from your previous upload.

Tip 2: Use logical names and be consistent.Naming your photos is essential to staying organized. With the hundred of photos we take of events, there is no way you will be efficient sorting through photos that have the default name assigned by your camera. Here are some suggestions for logically naming your files:
· Use event names with a sequential number. For example: anderson_wedding_01, anderson_wedding_02, etc.
· Include the date with your names. For example: 2009-06-17_florida01, 2009-06-17_florida02, etc.
· If you have multiple children, use their names. For example: 2009-09-01_adam_football01, 2009-09-01_adam_football02, etc.
*Note: no two files can have the same name; therefore, using a sequential numbering system (01, 02, etc.) will eliminate that problem.
The naming scheme that you use for your pictures really is a personal choice. Once you decide how you are going to name your photos, be consistent. Consistency helps make the search for past photos a quick one.
One step further: If you are using a photo program and want to rename a bunch of photos you’ve already uploaded, many of the programs will have a “batch” feature. This is very convenient. You simply select all of your photos you want renamed, type in your naming scheme, and with a click of a button, all of your photos will be automatically renamed.

Tip 3: Use a rating system.Are you a shutter-happy photographer? If so, you need to take the time to dump the 30 extra shots you took of the same thing (like the aforementioned candle blowing). After all, having 25 of your best, most fantastic photos of something is going to be much more memorable than 200 repeat photos of the same event.
My quick fix for dumping the extra photos has been to come up with a rating system. Here’s how it works: My best, absolute favorite photos get a five-star rating. My okay, possible fixer-upper photos get a three-star rating. Finally, any pictures that aren’t good enough to get a three or five star rating are deleted. Most programs have “ratings” that you can apply to your photos either in the form of stars or flags. If you don’t have this feature, many times you can color code your files, so go ahead and use colors instead of stars.
Again, sort and delete your photos right away, and this will pay off big time when you come back a year or two later looking for a quick photo from an event!

Tip 4: Create folders (aka albums).Once you have applied understandable names to your photos, you can organize them even more by sorting them into folders. Again, apply logic when coming up with the names for your folders and the folder structure. Personally, I like to make folders based on events, and I also like the idea of having a folder for each person in my family. For example, I have the following “event” folders: Chicago Vacation 2008, Halloween 2008, Holidays 2008, Summer 2009 and so on.
Once you have your folders created, go ahead and sort your pictures as you like. Most programs that have an album feature will allow you to add a photo to as many albums as you like. If you find this doesn’t work when using folders, just duplicate the photo (or copy and paste) and then add each duplicate to the appropriate folders.
In addition to my event folders, I also have folders titled “Greg”, “Addie”, “Kathi”, “Grandparents”, and folders for other extended family members. Each person can get the photos that apply to them. I like that I can give all of us a copy of the same photo, too, eliminating the fight over who gets what pictures. Once I have the pictures organized into our folders, I can then burn a CD for each of us. Isn’t that great?

Tip 5: Print/make projects from your best photos.Here’s the really cool part about taking the extra time to organize your photos: you may find yourself following through and printing those digital pictures! Just click on one of your folders, pick your best shots (remember, they’ll be the ones with five stars) and print your pictures. Ordering from an online website is convenient because your prints will come right to you in the mail.
Even though people are printing less of their photos and just storing them digitally, I think it’s still so important to print a few of your photos. You just can’t replace the color, dimension and feel of a printed photograph! In addition to prints, you can quickly use your organized folders or five star photos to make books, slideshows, cards, and so on.
One step further: Some programs have a feature called a “smart” album, which is like applying a filter to your regular albums. You can edit the criteria for smart albums to be just about anything you want. Below is one example of how I like to use this feature.
Criteria I choose for my smart album: 1. picture must have a five star rating2. picture must be in the date range of 1-1-2009 to 12-31-2009 3. picture must be from “Addie” folder
I apply my criteria, wait a couple of seconds for the program to create the folder and “wa-lah”…I have a folder that has my favorite pictures of my daughter from 2009 (which took all of 20 seconds to create). Now I can make a quick book or a slideshow for her titled “Addie: 2009”, and she has something to keep, watch, page through, etc. The best part: her photos aren’t just an anonymous file on my computer! Even better, I love that my smart album really is smart! As I upload and add star ratings to new pictures, they will automatically filter into that album.

Tip 6: Backing up your photos. Finally, I don’t know that this is as much of a tip as it is a very important reminder. Anytime you work with digital photos, you need to treat your files as your negatives. While it’s important to organize your photos, backing up your files is a MUST! There are many different ways you can backup photos. The important thing is to ensure that you have multiple copies of your pictures in case your computer crashes. Options for backing up could include burning to a CD or DVD, saving to an external hard drive, or using an online back-up service.

By following these tips, you’ll have your digital photos organized before you know it. Get started today!

BY: Kathi Salvevold

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Food Friday: What's for Dinner? Lasagna and Crock Pot Roast

These next two recipes come for a seasoned working mom of three now grown daughters. Babs gives us some great ideas of easy meals and some shortcuts that she has learned over the years. Thanks Babs!

Here is a recipe I used to make when my night was all drops offs and pickups of kids events. I could come home from work, throw this in a pan, then the oven and each could eat between activities.

2 (15 ounce) containers of cottage cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Cooked sausage I usually made on a weekend breakfast and froze for dishes like this
2 (26 ounce) jars Ragu®
1 box of uncooked lasagna noodles

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Spread some sauce in 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Layer some uncooked noodles, then cottage cheese, then the mozzarella cheese. Layer like this until the pan is full or one of my ingredients runs out. I usually eye ball the layers such as if I make 3 layers, I eyeball the each layer into thirds so 1/3 of the sauce on the bottom, then 1/3 of the sauce, then 1/3 of the cottage cheese, then 1/3 of the mozzarella cheese. Sometimes I make the layers really thick so only do two of each layer. That is the beauty of this recipe. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake 1 hour.
Remove foil and sprinkle with extra cheese if you have some. Bake uncovered an additional 20 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
One trick I like to do is add some frozen spinach in with the sauce layer. The kids hardly notice it and it sneaks some veggies in

Crock Pot Roast

This is a favorite of our whole family because it’s so stinkin’ easy and great to come home to a great smelling house and comfort meal.

Before work, I throw a roast cut into halves or thirds in a crock pot with whole peeled potatoes and big carrot chunks and a couple inches of water with a little bullion. We let it cook on med all day and come home to a great dinner that is done. If we have time, we use the liquid to make a really good gravy for the potatoes.
(Image courtesy of Google Images)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Wednesday Wisdom: It's all about Corn

Please welcome my guest blogger Deb Jenkins. Deb is one talented lady who is an inspiration to many. You can find her weekly articles in The High Plains Reader in its All About Food Section.

OK, let’s all just say it at the same time, SUMMER HAS ENDED!! Or Not? Why not. Well apparently the sweet corn has no clue that we will not be at the lake eating four and five cobs at a time on the weekend, maybe I just do that, no I think that I am not alone on this one. I have had such wonderful corn the last two weeks it makes me stupid! I hate to give it up. So my plan is to just eat corn every night until I absolutely cannot stand it, It is going to take a lot for that to happen. Even when I went to work today there was a bag or two of corn just waiting to be eaten. I am also going to admit that I have to have real BUTTAR (I meant to spell it that way) just dripping off the cob too. I don't use those fancy cob holders either. I want it to be messy. See what I mean about it making me STUPID!! I thought it would be great to try some fun recipes. I plan on taking the corn off the cob and making something with fresh corn, what a concept. I have not done this before (off the cob I mean), it is usually frozen. But it is so good that whatever I can make out of it I am going to try. Of course Corn Chowder is the first that came to my mind, then corn salsa and lastly I found a corn custard. Let me know if you try these too.

Ingredients: Corn Custard
1 1/2 teaspoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup honey
6 ears fresh corn, husks and silk removed
6 large eggs
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
1/3 cup grated yellow onion

DirectionsPreheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 2-quart soufflé dish with the butter and set aside.
Bring 3 quarts of water and the honey to a boil over high heat in a large pot. Add the corn, and cook for 3 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat. Use tongs to carefully remove the corn from the water and transfer to a medium bowl. Let rest until cool enough to handle, about 5 minutes.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, milk, pepper, salt, nutmeg and cayenne. One at a time, hold the corn in 1 hand and stand it on end so that it is perpendicular to the cutting board.

Hold a large chef's knife in the other hand and with a downward motion, cut the kernels from the cob. Turn the cob with every cut so that you get all of the kernels. Scrape the corn cobs with the back side of your chef's knife-this will release more of the milk from the cob. Add any accumulated juices to the cut kernels. Discard the cobs.

Add the corn kernels and onions to the egg mixture, stirring well to combine. Pour into the prepared baking dish. Bake until firm in the center and golden brown on top, about 1 hour and 30 to 1 hour and 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes before serving. Serve hot.

Ingredients: Corn Chowder
8 ounces bacon, chopped
1/4 cup good olive oil
6 cups chopped yellow onions (4 large onions)
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
12 cups chicken stock
6 cups medium-diced white boiling potatoes, unpeeled (2 pounds)
10 cups corn kernels, fresh (10 ears) or frozen (3 pounds)
2 cups half-and-half
8 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, grated

DirectionsIn a large stockpot over medium-high heat, cook the bacon and olive oil until the bacon is crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and reserve. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onions and butter to the fat, and cook for 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent.

Stir in the flour, salt, pepper, and turmeric and cook for 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock and potatoes bring to a boil, and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. If using fresh corn, cut the kernels off the cob and blanch them for 3 minutes in boiling salted water. Drain. (If using frozen corn you can skip this step.) Add the corn to the soup, and then add the half-and-half and cheddar. Cook for 5 more minutes, until the cheese is melted. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Serve hot with a garnish of bacon.

Ingredients: Roasted Corn Salsa with Tequila-Lime Dressing5 medium ears yellow corn, silk removed, husk intact.
5 teaspoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup mayonnaise, preferably homemade
2 tablespoons tequila
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup diced green onions
1/2 Serrano pepper, finely chopped (seeds included)
1/3 cup diced red bell pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 avocado, sliced, for garnish
Tortilla chips, for garnish

DirectionsPreheat a grill to medium-high. Soak corn in water for 5 minutes, drain and pat dry.

Lightly rub each ear of corn with 1 teaspoon of the oil and place the corn directly on the grill. Grill the corn, turning occasionally, until the kernels are lightly browned on all sides, about 20 minutes. Remove and set aside until cool. When the ears have cooled, cut the kernels from the cobs and transfer to a mixing bowl.

In a separate small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, tequila, lime juice, garlic, salt, and pepper. Pour the mayonnaise-tequila dressing over the cooled corn kernels. Stir in the green onions, diced Serrano pepper, red bell pepper, and cilantro. Adjust seasonings, as needed. Cover and chill for 1 hour.

Place corn salsa in a serving bowl, garnish with avocado slices, and serve with tortilla chips.

Until next week, eat well and stay safe. Any questions or comments email deb@hpr1.com

Monday, September 7, 2009

Motivational Monday: Monster Bars

As the season of summer comes to an end and we celebrate its greatness, make some memories today by calling some friends and family and enjoying a pan of the best bars ever….Monster Bars. My kids love Monster cookies, but if you have ever made them, you know that they make 100 dozen cookies and you spend the whole day in the kitchen. Take a few minutes to mix up these yummy bars and get to spending time with family and friends! Spend your Labor Day making memories!


1/2 C. Butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups peanut butter
3 eggs
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
4 1/2 c. oatmeal
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup M & M's

Cream butter and sugars together.
Add eggs and Peanut butter and mix.
Stir in vanilla, baking soda and oatmeal.
Stir in Choc. chips and M & M's.
Put in a jelly roll pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes. DO NOT OVER BAKE!
(Thanks to Diana W. for sharing this recipe with me!)

To Simplified, Joyful Living

Melissa Schmalenberger

Friday, September 4, 2009

Food Friday: What's for Dinner? Cheese Bake and Spicy Roasted Chicken Legs

So let’s just say I am a huge fan of Real Simple magazine. When the issue hits my mailbox I drop everything and read it cover to cover. I was intrigued with October 2009 cover touting “A Month of easy dinners. Your stress-free plan for delicious weeknight meals” I quickly made my way through that section and found maybe 2 recipes that my family of 5 would all eat. Don’t get me wrong, there were great meals here, but my kids simply are not going to eat “Shrimp Pot Pie with Fennel”, I however would love it. Maybe in my next lifetime I can eat those meals, but not now with 3 busy and fussy kids (only two, one would eat the Shrimp Pot pie but then my husband would pass as shrimp is not his favorite….I just can’t win). So I get to thinking, I bet I could think of 30 meals that kids would enjoy as I have a few great ones and I know my friends have some that they are willing to share. So for the next couple of weeks I am going to be drawing from my mom sources and asking them to share some of their go-to easy family friendly meals to share on my blog. These will not always be the healthiest of meals, but that is what side dishes are for, steam some broccoli and serve a salad!

I will start off with 2 of our favorites:

Cheese Bake (my mom’s recipe, she will note that I took out the black pepper, because that is just wrong to put it in this recipe and doubled the cheese, because that is the right thing to do)

2 cups uncooked macaroni
½ cup butter
2 tbsp. flour
1 ½ cups milk
2 cups grated cheese (pick your favorite)

Prepare macaroni. Drain. Melt butter. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly for 2 minutes. DO not brown. Stir in milk, salt and pepper. Cook until smooth and thickened. Add cheese and stir until melted. Add macaroni with cheese sauce. Pour into a 9 x 13 inch pan and Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.

Spicy Roasted Chicken Legs (I found these on the Pioneer Woman’s blog….she is the best and I will warn you now, you will fall in love with her the minute you start reading her blog. This is my variation of her recipe and my boys just about inhale these)

24 chicken legs
1 stick of butter
Dashes of hot sauce (depending on how hot you like it)
Lemon Juice

Melt butter and add lemon juice and any other seasonings that make you happy….garlic, Lawreys, onion salt, hot sauce . Brush the chicken legs with this mixture and place on a baking sheet at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, you may want to turn them to help them get more color.

To Joyful, Simplified Living,
Melissa Schmalenberger
(Image courtesy of Google Images)

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