Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Adventure Mondays

This was a summer of "Monday Adventures" for Ed and the kids (mostly Ed and the boys).  In order to spend more time with the kiddos, he planned something for them each Monday...his day off.  Some of the adventures happened to land on other days, but you get the idea.  Lindsay would have gone on more outings with them, but she was busy working much of the time.

Monday, June 3
Six Flags

Monday, June 10
New Bicycles & Off To Ride Them
Nothing fantabulous, but they had outgrown their other bicycles and were really wanting to start riding more often this summer.

I'm sure they're thrilled that dad took the picture with their helmets! :/

Tuesday, June 11
Bonus adventure to the Texas Rangers game!
A friend of Ed's happens to know a Texas Ranger, so he got them tickets to the game.  Cool, huh?

They got to meet Craig Gentry!

Monday, June 17
Bowling at Bowl A Rama in Rowlett



Monday, June 24
Monsters University at Mesquite AMC 30
When the boys were young, Monster's Inc. (Mommers) was their FAVORITE movie in the entire world.  They were pretty excited when Monsters University finally hit the theaters...I thought they were going to pop waiting on it!  All 5 of us went on today's adventure!

Monday, July 1
Go Kart Racing at Celebration Station in Mesquite
The boys had been dying to race go karts and I just happened to find an awesome deal at Celebration Station!  Unfortunately, I believe this is the only picture Ed took that day.  I think they were there racing for over 8 hours!!!  Definitely worth every penny!

Monday, July 8
Junior Camp at Forest Glen Christian Camp in Huntsville, TX
They didn't actually go on an adventure, but they were all at Junior Camp together.  Since Ed was their counselor, I'm sure they spent some time with him on Monday.

I happened to find a camp picture with all 3 of them in it!

Monday, July 15
Olympus Has Fallen at Mesquite Cinemas 10
Lindsay, my mom, and I took the boys to our local dollar movie.  Ed was working at a youth camp called Youth Alive, so it was my turn to take the boys out.  I'm not great at pictures...oops!

Wednesday, July 17
Epic at Mesquite Cinemas 10
We had so much fun on Monday, we decided to go back to the movies on Wednesday.

Monday, July 22
Red 2 at Mesquite AMC 30
And they're back at the movies...yet again.

Monday, July 29
Laser Tag at Celebration Station in Mesquite

Monday, August 5
Jack in the Box
I know this sounds ridiculous for a Monday adventure, so I will explain.  The boys were at school all day helping out with Varsity football, and Ed had an event.  When I picked them up around 3:30, they were pretty and hot tired, but asked what we were doing for the Monday adventure.  I was at a loss, because I really thought they would be too tired to do anything.  We don't eat out much, so I told them they could pick whatever fast food restaurant they wanted and get whatever they wanted (yes, I gave them a monetary limit).  I told them they didn't even have to pick the same restaurant.  I honestly thought Benjamin would pick McDonald's and Jonathan would pick Whataburger (their favorites), but they both decided on Jack in the Box.  So I have to admit, today's adventure was pretty lame, but oh well.  We still did something. :)

Sunday, August 12
FC Dallas MLS Game....and a free t-shirt
Ed wanted to end the summer Monday Adventures with something big for the boys, so he took them to their first MLS game (it was on Sunday, but we can't control the game schedule...obviously).  They loved it! 

Monday, August 19
No adventure today...Ed took Lindsay back to college and the boys stayed home with their momma.  Their adventure was to keep mom from having a breakdown after Lindsay drove away.  And they did their job!  I know some of you moms out there understand me!

Collette :)

Friday, August 16, 2013

Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Bites

These are the BBQ Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Bites I attempted to make.  Think I left them in the oven a little too long?  Yep.  I get nervous about potentially undercooked meat, soooo this is what happens.  They were not a complete fail, though.  While extremely crispy, they were still pretty good.  Lindsay and I completely demolished the batch of them.

This is the look I was going for!!
Since mine were pretty much a fail, I'm not going to include my instructions on how to make them.  I am including a link for the pretty ones above.

Bacon Wrapped Chicken Recipe

I'm actually going to try this recipe soon.  It sounds delicious!!


Collette :)

Ham and Turkey Melts

Have I mentioned that I love sandwiches?  Can you believe you did not know that about me?  Ed had a late site visit last night, and I napped right through the dinner hour, so we all ended up eating when he got home.  Summers are a time of pot luck for us, so we just dig around in the fridge, pantry or freezer until we find something that sounds good and go for it.

Benjamin had some leftover ravioli that I had made him for lunch and Jonathan had 6 fried eggs.  Yes, these are our weird summer meals.  Please do not panic about Jonathan eating that many eggs in one sitting...we do not eat a lot of eggs around here (less than 1 per week per person), so I'm okay with him doing that every now and then.  And then I made ham and turkey melt sandwiches for me and Ed.

What you will need:

Onion Poppy Ciabatta Sandwich Rolls (I purchase these from the Wal-Mart bakery)
Mustard and/or Mayonnaise
Oscar Mayer Deli Fresh Mesquite Turkey Breast
Land O' Frost Premium Old Fashioned Cooked Ham
Provolone cheese slices (I buy the Great Value Provolone slices)
Leaf lettuce
Sliced tomatoes (seasoned with salt and pepper)
Hamburger dill slices

How to prepare:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Split apart the sandwich rolls.  Lay them cut-side up on a foil-lined or parchment-lined baking sheet.  Add mustard, mayo, or both to the bread.  I used regular yellow mustard on Ed's sandwiches, and regular mayonnaise on mine; however, you could also use Dijon or brown mustard or herbed mayonnaise.  You can make your own herbed mayonnaise by adding fresh or dried herbs to regular mayonnaise.  Place 4 slices of turkey on one side of the bread and 4 slices of ham on the other.  I do not lay them flat on the bread...I sort of fold each piece of meat in half or bunch it up on the bread.  Lay one slice of Provolone cheese on top of the turkey and one slice on top of the ham.  Leave the sandwiches open.  Place the sandwiches in the oven on the middle rack for about 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.  I didn't leave mine in as long as I normally do.  Remove them from the oven when they are ready.  Move them from the baking sheet to a cooling rack.  Let them cool for a few minutes.  I like to slice my tomatoes and season them with salt and pepper.  Add pickles, tomatoes, and lettuce leaf to one side of the sandwich.  Top with the other half.

Out of the oven and on to the cooling rack for a few minutes before assembling

Click Here to Print Recipe for Ham and Turkey Melts


Collette :)

Saturday, August 3, 2013

French Bread Pizza

A few days ago, someone asked me if I ever made any of the Pioneer Woman's recipes.  I believe I have only made three, but I watch her show on Food Network every Saturday, I own her original cookbook, I read her daily blog, and I love her recipes.  Some of my recipes are very similar...such as these French bread pizzas.  I opened an email with her daily blog not long ago to find pictures of very similar pizzas we make in our home.  We made these for dinner tonight, because they are very easy and they're not really in the oven long enough to heat up the house.  I definitely plan my menus around the Texas summers, y'all!  Was that too Paula Deen?

The variety of pizzas we had this evening were cheese, pepperoni and mushroom, tomato, and sausage and green olive.  Because Wal-Mart no longer carries pre-packaged sausage crumbles, I purchased a one-pound package of Jimmy Dean breakfast sausage.  I tore the sausage into pieces as I was putting it in the skillet, then broke it up with my spoon as I was stirring it around.  To make ground meat smaller, I mash it with a potato masher.

sausage crumbles
I couldn't find pre-sliced green olives, so I purchased the smallest jar I could find and sliced them myself.  I actually sliced all of the olives from the jar and placed them back in the original container to store them.

I like to use these French steak rolls from the Wal-Mart bakery when I can find them.  I cut them in half lengthwise (horizontally) before assembling.

I use Hunt's Garlic & Herb spaghetti sauce for the pizza sauce.  It's cheaper than pizza sauce in the jar and we prefer the taste.  Believe me, we make these enough that we have tried almost everything.  You will see the tomato pizza has a pesto sauce instead of the tomato sauce.  Yummy!  So, the basic assembling process is 1) cut the rolls in half and place them cut-side up on a baking sheet; 2) spread your preferred sauce on each bread half; 3) top with shredded mozzarella cheese; 4) add your favorite toppings.

Your oven should be preheating at 400 degrees during this process.  Place the pizzas on the top rack in the oven.  It should take about 10 minutes to get all the cheese melted nicely on top.

Print French Bread Pizza Recipe

Hope you enjoy these as much as we do!!

Collette :)

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Baked Pork Chops with Herb Gravy

Sorry about the quality of the picture...still using my phone :)

Baked Pork Chops with Herb Gravy

6 center-cut pork chops  (I used a 3.85 pound package of pork shoulder butt blade steak)
seasoned salt
garlic powder
1/4 cup canola oil
1 large onion, sliced in half rings
1 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon dried parsley

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  If using the pork steaks, remove the bone from the pork steaks and cut them into smaller pieces.  Season both sides of the pork with seasoned salt and garlic powder.
3.  Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.  Make sure the oil is very hot.
4.  Brown the chops quickly in the hot oil.  I actually browned them about 2 minutes per side so they wouldn't have to cook as long in the oven.  I had to brown the pork in 2 batches.
5.  Place the cooked pork in a glass 13x9-inch baking dish.
6.  While the oil is still hot, throw the onion in the skillet.  Sauté the onion until it is soft, about 5 minutes.  Once the onion is cooked, pour it on top of the pork in the baking dish.
7.  Return the skillet to the heat.  Melt the butter in the skillet.
8.  Stir the flour into the butter, blending until the flour has soaked up all of the butter.  There will be little lumps of flour all in the skillet.
9.  Slowly pour in the milk, whisking constantly until smooth.  Keep whisking...the mixture will eventually smooth out.
10.  Stir in the salt, oregano, marjoram, thyme, and parsley.  I have all these pre-measured in a small bowl, then just throw them in when it's time.
11.  Whisk until the herbs are blended into the gravy.
12.  Pour the sauce over the pork in the baking dish.
13.  Bake, covered tightly with foil, at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes.  Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees and cook about 30 minutes longer.

Print Baked Pork Chops with Herb Gravy Recipe

I served the pork with Rice-A-Roni Fried Rice and steamed broccoli.


Collette :)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Cheesy Beef Rigatoni

Sorry this isn't a better picture, but we were starving and I was only able to snap a quick picture.  I had a can of Progresso Recipe Starters Creamy Three Cheese in my pantry that I wanted to use, so I searched for a recipe.  The original recipe was called Cheesy BBQ Beef Rigatoni, but it sounded terribly unappealing, so I changed it up a little.  Sometimes these products don't make it, so I was trying to think of a substitute in case I couldn't find this particular item at the store.  I think nacho cheese could probably be substituted....in fact, I think I might try that the next time I make this.  I don't have printable recipes set up yet, but you should be able to highlight the recipe, then click copy and paste it into a Word document and print it (if you would like a copy).

Cheesy Beef Rigatoni

9 ounces rigatoni pasta, uncooked
1 pound lean ground beef, drained
4 ounces sliced fresh mushrooms
1/2 cup sliced green onion (about 8 medium)
1 (18-ounce) can Progresso Recipe Starters Creamy Three Cheese cooking sauce
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced stewed tomatoes
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Cheddar cheese
salt, to taste
ground black pepper, to taste

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2.  Prepare pasta according to package directions.  I undercook the pasta just a tad and leave it in the hot water after turning off the burner.  Let it sit in the hot water until ready to use.  I actually used the entire box of pasta (I think it was 16 ounces) and it was probably just a tad too much.  The recipes calls for 9 ounces uncooked.  And make sure you salt the pasta water some...the pasta will retain a little of the salt and give the dish more flavor.

3.  Cook the ground beef over medium-high heat until browned.  Drain the fat off the beef.  I go ahead and purchase the 73/27 ground beef, but because we are trying to eat healthier, I place the cooked ground beef in a metal strainer (not a colander...beef will fall out the holes) and rinse it thoroughly in hot water.  I also rinse out the skillet.  Return the beef to the skillet.  Return the skillet to the heat.

4.  Add the green onion and mushrooms and stir until the mushrooms begin to soften some.  Keep in mind that if you rinsed the beef, there is no fat in the pan, so you will need to stir the beef, onion, and mushroom continually, about 3 minutes...maybe not even that long.

5.  Add the diced stewed tomatoes to the skillet.  Stir until combined with beef mixture.

6.  Add the cheese sauce to the skillet.  Stir until combined with beef mixture.

7.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  You can also add some herbs during this step, such as basil, oregano, rosemary or thyme.  Don't add too much so the herbs don't overpower the dish.

8.  Drain the pasta.  Pour it into a 13x9-inch glass baking dish.

9.  Pour the sauce over the pasta.  Stir until the sauce and pasta are combined.

10.  Top with the shredded Cheddar cheese.

11.  Bake in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes...just until the cheese melts.

Print Cheesy Beef Rigatoni Recipe


Collette :)