Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Meatball Sliders, Bagel Pizzas, and Homemade Trail Mix

Meatball Sliders

1 package frozen homestyle meatballs
1 small jar grape jelly
1 package Sara Lee dinner rolls

Place the meatballs in a medium-large saucepan.  Dump the grape jelly on top; stir until all meatballs are coated; cover.  Heat on medium-low heat for about an hour.  I've seen some recipes that add chili sauce (or something similar) to this meatball recipe, but I've never tried that.  Heat the rolls in the microwave (or oven is fine).  Open up the rolls, place about 4 meatballs on the bottom half, place the top half of the roll on the meatballs. 

I found these awesome fries at Kroger called Crispy Stix.  They cook at 425 for about 15 minutes (package says 13 minutes, but I add some time).  When they come out of the oven, I sprinkle them with seasoning salt.  Yummy!

Bagel Pizzas

6 plain bagels (everything bagels would be yummy)
1 small jar pizza sauce
12 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
Topping ideas:
mini pepperonis
sausage crumbles (near the pepperoni)
canadian bacon, chopped
green olives, sliced
black olives, sliced
mushrooms, sliced

Open bagels.  Place face up on a baking sheet (I was only able to fit 6 halves on a baking sheet).  Turn oven to broil.  Place baking sheet with bagels under broiler until lightly browned; remove from the oven and reduce heat to 400 degrees.  Top with a couple of tablespoons of pizza sauce (not too much or the bagel will get soggy).  Top with about 1 ounce of shredded cheese (not too much or you won't have room for other toppings).  Place desired toppings on top of the mozzarella cheese.  Put baking sheet on the second rack in the oven for about 10 to 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.  These are good with a small salad.  They are very filling!

Homemade Trail Mix

The boys 4th grade class filled up their marble jar, so they voted on how to celebrate.  They chose D.E.A.R. (drop everything and read) and puzzle competitions.  They got to bring a pillow or pillow pet, a snack and drink to school today.  We decided to make a homemade trail mix for their snack, which included the following:
colorful goldfish crackers
mini m&m's
white chocolate chips
semi-sweet chocolate chips
cookie crisp cereal

Happy Eating!

Collette :)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Homemade Chicken and Dumplings

After collecting the boys from school on Thursday, I was going to stop by the store and grab something for dinner.  It surprises some people that I don't have all of my recipes memorized, but I don't, so I took a quick look at Pinterest before leaving the school.  I had just pinned a new recipe for chicken and dumplings the day before, so it was right at the top of my Soup, Salad, Sandwich, and Bread board.  I realized I had everything at home to make the recipe work, so I didn't have to stop by the store...yay!

Traditionally, a whole chicken is boiled for "real" chicken and dumplings, but I decided to go the healthier route and use the skinless, boneless chicken breasts I already had.  When I boil chicken, I add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of a variety of herbs and spices from my cabinet...garlic salt and/or garlic powder, onion powder, celery salt, seasoned salt, lemon pepper, dried marjoram, dried thyme, ground mustard, crushed rosemary, chipotle chile pepper powder (just a smidge of this), parsley flakes, ground red pepper (just a smidge), cajun seasoning, Emeril's Original Essence, and ground black pepper.  I know this probably sounds like a horrible hodge podge of ingredients, but it makes a very yummy chicken broth after the chicken boils.

Chicken and Dumplings

2 cups flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 pinch salt
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup milk, a bit less than 1 cup
10 chicken bouillon cubes
5 - 6 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
Lots of herbs and spices

Preparation Instructions
Add the chicken and spices and herbs to a large stock pot.  Cover with plenty of water.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and let semi-boil for about 30 minutes.  Remove the chicken from the broth and set aside.  Add the 10 bouillon cubes to the chicken broth.
In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients with a fork or pastry blender. Stir in the milk, mixing with a fork until the dough forms a ball.
Heavily flour a work surface. You’ll need a rolling pin and something to cut the dumplings with. I like to use a pizza cutter. I also like to use a small spatula to lift the dumplings off the cutting surface.
Roll the dough out thin with a heavily floured rolling pin. Dip your cutter in flour and cut the dumplings in squares about 2″x2″. It’s okay for them not to be exact. Just eye ball it. Some will be bigger, some smaller, some shaped funny.
Use the floured spatula to put them on a heavily floured plate. Just keep flouring between the layers of dumplings.
To cook them, bring the broth to a boil.    Drop the dumplings in one at a time, stirring while you add them. The extra flour on them will help thicken the broth. Cook them for about 15-20 minutes or until they're not doughy tasting. Cut up the chicken while the dumplings are boiling.  Add the cooked chicken to the pot and you’re done!  You might need to add a little salt to taste.

Print Chicken and Dumplings Recipe

Happy country cooking!

Collette :)

Happy Belated Valentine's Day!!

This year, the boys didn't take the traditional Valentines to school.  They had to bear the brunt of my relationship with Pinterest.  :)  I didn't borrow ideas from Pinterest...the ideas just motivated me to try something of my own.

I was in the pantry one day and noticed the box of hundreds of popcorn bags I've had forever.  I don't even remember why I bought them in the first place, but I use them every now and then for little projects.  We've been going through a stage looking for our favorite buttery popcorn, so we have several bags of microwave popcorn not being eaten.  I also had an unopened large bag of M&M's.  Light bulb!  I did purchase some clear plastic treat bags and Valentine heart tags with silver twist ties for the M&M's to complete this Valentine "project".

I slipped a bag of microwave popcorn in each popcorn bag, separated the M&M's into the plastic bags, wrote on the tags, twist tied them around the plastic bags, placed the M&M's in the popcorn bag, folded the top, printed some labels that say, Just "popped" in to say, "Hope you have a great Valentine's Day!!!!" and stapled them on with colored staples.

While in the store a few days later, I saw packages of Valentine facial tissue, and thought of a really cute idea to go with them for Jonathan's Valentine's.  I packaged the tissue with some candy, printed out labels that say, "sniff, sniff...won't you be my Valentine?", and stapled them to the top.

For the boys' class party, I decided to make several sweet treats for the class (pictured below).  For the snack at the party, one of the other room moms (thank you, Kathy Pollard!) provided some delicious iced sugar cookies (from a bakery in Sachse or Wylie...I never can remember the name of it), and I brought strawberry Crush in a bottle.  The cookies and Crush were a huge hit with the kids!

Cherry pie heart tarts, Valentine chex mix, milk chocolate/white chocolate covered pretzels, chocolate chip cookie dough truffles dipped in milk chocolate and white chocolate, and milk chocolate and white chocolate dipped strawberries with sugar sprinkles and white nonpareils

Cherry Pie Heart Tarts
(This recipe makes 20)
4" heart-shaped cookie cutter
5 packages refrigerated pie crust (2 - 9" crusts in each package)
2 cans cherry pie filling
3 egg whites whisked with 3 teaspoons water
Frosting and Decorations
2-1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon softened butter
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
red food color
colored sugar

1.  Heat the oven to 400° and cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2.  On a floured surface, roll out the piecrust to a 1/8-inch thickness. Use a large heart-shaped cookie cutter (ours measures 4 inches wide) to make pairs of hearts, gathering the scraps and rerolling the dough as necessary (I didn't do this part...I got 4 hearts from each 9" round and fed the leftover to my junkyard dog outside).
3.  For each tart, spread cherry pie filling in the middle of a heart, leaving a ½-inch margin on all sides. Brush the egg mixture around the edge before placing a second heart on top. Use the tines of a fork to seal the edges, then brush the tops with the egg mixture.
4.  Bake the hearts on the prepared cookie sheet until their edges are just beginning to brown, about 15 minutes. Let them rest on the sheet a few minutes, then move them to a rack and let them cool completely.
5.  Whisk the first four frosting ingredients in a medium bowl, adding more water a teaspoon at a time if needed to make a smooth, creamy frosting. Add a few drops of food coloring and mix until well blended. Spoon the frosting into a ziploc bag, snip off a corner, and squeeze it onto the tarts. Top them with colored sugar.

Print Cherry Pie Heart Tarts Recipe

Valentine Chex Mix
9 cups Rice Chex cereal
1 cup white vanilla baking chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup Valentine M&M's
1/4 cup red and/or pink jimmies sprinkles

1.  In large bowl, place cereal. In small microwavable bowl, microwave baking chips, peanut butter and butter uncovered on High 1 minute to 1 minute 30 seconds, stirring every 30 seconds, until melted and smooth. Pour peanut butter mixture over cereal, stirring until evenly coated.
2.  Place 1/2 of the cereal mixture in 1-gallon food-storage plastic bag. Add powdered sugar. Seal bag; shake until well coated. Spread on waxed paper or foil to cool, about 15 minutes.
3.  Meanwhile, stir candies and sprinkles into remaining cereal mixture. Spread on waxed paper or foil to cool, about 15 minutes.
4.  In serving bowl, mix both cereal mixtures. Store in airtight container.

Print Valentine Chex Mix Recipe

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
Melting/dipping chocolate (NOT candy melts)

In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until fluffy, beat in vanilla. Gradually add the flour; mix well (if you don't add enough flour, the truffles will not hold together when dipped in chocolate; also make sure your chocolate is cool enough before dipping). Add condensed milk; mix well.  Stir in chocolate chips. Using a cookie dough scoop, drop dough onto waxed paper and place in fridge for about 1 hour.
Remove from fridge and roll into balls. Place back into fridge for about 1 hour. Melt Chocolate, dip balls, coating evenly.

Print Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles Recipe

I packaged all the goodies in clear plastic treat bags and put them in really cute Valentine treat boxes I found on sale at Hobby Lobby.

Happy Belated Valentine's Day!

Collette :)

P.S.  The chocolate chip cookie dough truffles are so yummy!!!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Tomato Avocado Mozzarella Salad

I mentioned this salad in yesterday's blog From My Very Heart of Hearts, so I thought I would post the recipe with pictures.  I got the idea from Pinterest, but I tweaked it some.  I'm not actually posting a recipe...I posted the ingredients and instructions under each picture.  Enjoy!  It was delicious!!

1 avocado, peeled and chopped

2 roma tomatoes, chopped
2 mozzarella string cheese sticks

1/2 tsp Italian seasoning, 1/4 tsp garlic salt, 1 tsp olive oil, 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

Mix well...serve with buttered sourdough bread

Print Tomato Avocado Mozzarella Salad Recipe

Happy Eating!

Collette :)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

From My Very Heart of Hearts

I wrote this post on February 5 (I think).  I've been debating on whether or not I was going to post it.  I've read it and re-read it.  It's very personal, but I'm going to go ahead and post it in hopes that it might help others dealing with addictions.  Keep in mind, I was very emotional when I wrote it, so some of it may sound like babbling.  I didn't go back and change anything when I re-read it...I wanted it to stay as is while I was dealing with raw emotion.  I did post an update at the end on how I'm doing 10 days later.

Today is the American Heart Association's Go Red for Women Day.  This is American Heart Month and the #1 killer of women is heart disease.  More women die of heart disease than all other cancers combined.  With this said, I LITERALLY had a "come to Jesus" meeting this morning in my car on the way home from taking the boys to school.  I sobbed all the way home and told God that I cannot make the necessary changes in my life without His strength.

I have almost 150 pounds to lose to be at a healthy goal weight for my body structure, age, and stature (according to my doctor).  That is a whole other person!!!  That number seems absolutely impossible, but I realize I have to take it one day at a time.  Really in my case, it's more like one ounce at a time, one second at a time.  I'm not sure you can even begin to understand my addiction to food.  Of course you can see that I have one by looking at me, but knowing the battle that exists inside me is another story.

I eat when I'm hungry, when I'm not hungry, when I'm bored, when I'm happy, when I'm sad, when...ever!  I've tried Weight Watchers (which has definitely been the most successful for me thus far), but I always, always, always go on a huge binge within the first month or two.  I love Weight Watchers, because I don't have to give up anything I love.  I just have to learn portion control.  That's basically what their system teaches you...portion control!  And if you love food as much as I do then you take the daily points you're given and cram the most food in them as possible...which ends up training you to eat healthier in the long run, anyway.  The healthier foods have the fewest points.

Since this isn't a commercial for Weight Watchers, I'll move on.  I refuse to have surgery to lose weight.  I'm not knocking anyone who has....more power to look great!  I just personally don't want to do it.  I worked for the American Heart Association for almost 10 years...I know WHAT I'm supposed to be doing - I'm just NOT doing it!  Why?  Well, sometimes I just don't care if I'm fat, then when I do start caring, I just....and this is where my thoughts stop.  I don't know what I just do when I start caring.

I can hear some of you now..."Don't you want to be around for Ed and the kids?"  Yes!  I do!  But the addiction outweighs the desire.  I know!  It's sad!  It's horrible!  I'm only human!  Poor Josh Hamilton caved this least I'm not in the public eye of criticism.  People fail!  Romans 3:23 "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God."  I am trying, though.  I have made better decisions today related to my eating habits.  I just ate a tomato, mozzarella, and avocado salad and I'm starving.  But instead of getting up to go to the kitchen, I sat down to get out some of this frustration. <applause>

I know how the addiction was created.  I can't change how things happened in the past.  I can only work on the future and changing me.  Thank you for listening.  I hope this helps any of you that might be struggling with your own demon of any addiction.  If you're sharing my tears right now, I understand.  Stop what you're doing...reach out to God through prayer and scripture.  If someone you know is struggling with an addiction, help them, support them, be there for them, pray for them, love them.  It's okay if you don't understand.  God doesn't ask to us understand everything, but He does ask us to love.

So, first and foremost, I'm working on my eating habits and Lindsay and I are each trying to drink a gallon of water a day.  Secondly, next week I'm starting to walk with a friend 3 days a week.  Prayers are accepted....advice or ideas on how to change are not.  Thank you.

We'll call this a "before" picture...hopefully
Collette :)

P.S.  I've lost a few pounds!!!  Yay!!  Celebrate with me!  I've been working hard to make better choices and not eat as much...I give ALL the credit to God.  He listened and He's giving me the strength I need to do this.  Honestly, it's not as hard as I thought it was going to be.  One morning I was in Walmart and I WAS STARVING!  Normally, I would have just grabbed a soda and candy bar, but 1) I'm trying to be conscious of maintaining a normal blood sugar, and I knew that would shoot it out the roof and 2) I just know better and I very easily talked myself out of it.  Instead, I went to McDonald's and got an Egg McMuffin (they're a fairly low point breakfast on the WW scale) meal with a bottled water.  Now, I'm going to lay it all out here...I did eat the hasbrowns, but I still came out better than if I had chosen a coke and candy bar...cuz we all know I would have gotten the king size.  Also, my friend and I have been walking (picture of my new shoes below...Skechers Tone Ups).  We started last week and walked Monday-Wednesday-Friday.  This week we walked today and are going to attempt to walk tomorrow and Friday to still get in our 3 days.  The first day I didn't even make it 15 minutes.  The second and third days we probably came closer to 25 minutes and today we walked for a full 30 minutes!!  And mind you, this isn't easy for me as overweight as I am.  My legs and feet hurt like crazy the entire time I'm walking, but I push through!!
These are my new walking shoes...I just found them in orange, so I'm a little bummed about that

I saw these while I was looking for a picture of my new Skechers Tone Ups and these are specifically for walking, so I may have to splurge on them in a few weeks!

Thanks for your prayers and support!!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

2012 Milestones #3, 4 and 5...Cheer Competition!!

Milestone #3

Lindsay has been a cheerleader at Garland Christian Academy since she was in 6th grade.  In fact, when tryouts came along at the end of her 5th grade year, she had absolutely no desire to be a cheerleader.  I really wanted her to try out, but I didn't want to push either, so I mentioned it once or twice, then let it go.  One afternoon, a fellow 5th grade mom called to let me know the cheer coach wasn't holding tryouts for the next year's middle school squad....just show up and you're on the team.

I was apprehensive about approaching Lindsay with the idea, because she already told me she wasn't interested and I didn't want to seem forceful.  I told her that she could just try it and if she didn't like, she didn't have to do it.  We were talking about it just now, and she told me the only reason she even agreed to try it was because she knew I wanted her to cheer.  She also said she wasn't interested in the first place, because her expectations were different from reality.  I guess she had never really paid attention to cheerleaders....she didn't realize they would have cute uniforms and go to cheer camp and cheer at all the games.

Every year the girls usually have 2 cheer competitions (one in December and one in February) with CCA (Christian Cheerleaders of America).  They've been at different locations, but they're mainly held at Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Waxahachie.  Last Saturday, February 4, the cheerleaders competed in two cheer competitions.  The morning competition was with CCA at SAGU.  This was Lindsay's final competition with CCA as well as her last time to compete or perform at SAGU as a high school student (milestone #3).

She was elbowed during one of the stunts as you can see below....

About 5 minutes after it happened

About 24 hours after it also bruised above her eyebrow

Milestones #4 and #5

The GCA cheer squad competed in the Texas Showdown Championship Cheer Competition for the Fellowship of Christian Cheerleaders.  Not only was this the first time in the history of the GCA cheer program to cheer for any other assocation besides CCA (milestone #4), this was also Lindsay's very last high school cheer competition (milestone #5).   Lindsay was very honored that her coach chose this year's cheer squads to compete in an FCC competition; however, it was very emotional.  At least she has something to show for the day!!

Making wonderful memories with my beautiful daughter....

Collette :)

Friday, February 3, 2012

Yummy to my Tummy....Sour Cream Potato Salad

I know better than to rant and rave about my potato salad, because sure as I do, you will make it and think it's the most disgusting mess on planet earth.  But that's not going to stop me from ranting and raving about it.  I love it so much that I only make it once or twice a year so I don't chance getting burned out on it and when I do make it and there are leftovers....I will eat my potato salad for breakfast!!!

I was going to save some and eat it while I was writing this post, but I couldn't control myself and had the rest of it for lunch yesterday.  The only reason I even made potato salad in February (we all know that this mayonnaise-based delicacy was designed for hot summer picnics) was because Ed was craving it and I absolutely cringe when he buys that junk from the store (sorry if I just offended anyone). 

So I was meandering through Wal-Mart the other afternoon trying to decide what to have for dinner when I remembered that we had some frozen breaded chicken patties at home...lightbulb!....chicken patty sandwiches (small hamburger buns, breaded chicken patties baked in the oven, mustard, hamburger pickle slices), Bush's canned baked beans (because I didn't feel like making my homemade recipe), and my yummy to my tummy dreamy creamy Sour Cream Potato Salad.

I'm showing a picture of it, but it is really hard to make potato salad look good in a picture.

Sour Cream Potato Salad

6 medium potatoes
4 eggs, hard cooked
2/3 cup  mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup zesty Italian salad dressing
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup dill pickle relish
1-1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

1.  Wash potatoes with skins on.
2.  Place potatoes in large stock pot and cover with water a couple of inches above the potatoes; salt the water generously.
3.  Bring water to a boil over medium-high heat and let boil for 30 minutes or until tender; they have probably been in the water too long if they start breaking open.  I don't boil them on high because it's too rough on the potatoes.
4.  After they are finished boiling, drain the potatoes and let them cool completely.  I set mine out on my cookie rack so air circulates around them.
5.  Boil the the eggs in a medium-sized saucepan and cover with water.  Bring to a boil and let boil 5 to 7 minutes.  I don't have any particular tips or tricks on this seems like mine turn out different every time.  I think the fresher the eggs, the easier they are to peel.  But one thing I do is drain them after they are finished boiling, then let them sit in ice water for a few minutes before I try to crack and peel them.
6.  In the meantime, combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, salad dressing, lemon juice, pickle relish, salt and pepper in a medium bowl and mix well; refrigerate while you're working on the potatoes and eggs.
7.  After the potatoes are cooled completely, peel and cube them; place them in a large mixing bowl.  I cube mine different sizes because I like some of the potato to mash up a little, but I still like some chunks.
8.  Chop the eggs, but do not mash them; add them to the potatoes.
9.  Pour the dressing over the potatoes and eggs and mix well.  Try not to mash all the potatoes while mixing...again, I like some chunks remaining after a good stir.
10.  Serve immediately or refrigerate then serve.

Print Sour Cream Potato Salad Recipe

I like to use 7 to 8 medium potatoes, then make a double dose of the dressing mix.  Do this version if you like it extra flavorful.  I wish I could just bring you a bowl of the heaven I made!  Hope you enjoy!

Happy Eating!

Collette :)