Menu? What's a menu?

Hey there! It's Tuesday but I only know that because I had to drop my middle one off early at school today, just like every Tuesday. My youngest has been sick with one thing or another since the middle of Thursday night. Time since then has frozen. Last week's menu went out the window along with the challenge recipe ingredients I had thawed for use. Oh, well! She is on the mend now and will hopefully go to school tomorrow. We have been eating bland starchy foods for 5 days now and I am planning more for the rest of the week. But my hubby will be home on Friday and I plan to make last week's challenge then along with another for this week before the weekend is over. I just don't know what that is yet. I promise to come back and let you all know in the next couple days, please bear with me?


Hamburger Noodle Casserole

Challenge recipe #4! We liked this one okay. I have another similar recipe called Hamburger Noodle Bake that we like a little better. I think I will try to meld the two together. This one needed more garlic for sure, maybe some onion. The cheese mixture was very good in my opinion, but Jayme liked the other one better. This one comes from my Taste of Home Most Requested Recipes cookbook.

The Ingredients

5 cups uncooked egg noodles
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
2 garlic cloves
3 (8 oz) cans tomato sauce
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup sour cream
3 green onions, thinly sliced, divided (I skipped these)**
2/3 cup shredded cheese (I skipped)

Cook the noodles according to their directions while you brown the ground beef and garlic.

When meat is no longer pink, add the tomato sauce, salt, sugar and pepper. Heat through and add the cooked noodles. Stir to combine.

In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese, ricotta and sour cream together until smooth. Using whipped cream cheese really helps with this step, and you can't beat a pastry blender for this job! (If using the green onion, add half of them to this mix)

Spread half the noodle mixture in a 13 x 9 casserole dish. Cover with half the cheese mixture.

Add the remaining noodles to the top.

Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Tell your assistant to take a break.

After the initial time period is up, sprinkle on the shredded cheese (if using) and bake uncovered for 5 to 10 more minutes to melt cheese. (Top with remaining green onions, if using)

Serve and enjoy! We sprinkled our with Parmesan cheese and everyone liked it, but as I said, it needed something. **I know I said it could use some onion and then I didn't use the ones called for but I do not like the taste of green onions (we called them "scallions" growing up) too strong for me, and bitter. Adding some diced yellow onions with the meat and garlic is what I think would help.


Ree's Knock You Naked Brownies

This might be the most important blog post you read in your life so turn off your phone, don't stop to go to the bathroom or finish the dishes or the laundry. In fact, if you aren't prepared to go right to the grocery store to buy the ingredients, you may want to go do that really quickly. I'll wait.......
In all seriousness, these are amazing. I printed the recipe quite a while ago when it was first published on the Pioneer Woman blog. It has taken me almost two years to make them and I don't know why! I thought they would be a fun treat to make for Valentine's Day for Jayme (not that he needs an excuse to be naked LOL) and I was so right! My father-in-law has proclaimed them, "The best brownies he ever had" and I have the text message to prove it. My only change to Ree's recipe was I left out the pecans. Next time I think I will make two pans, one with and one without. Here you go:

The Ingredients

1 box German Chocolate cake mix
1 cup chopped pecans (if using)
1/3 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup evaporated milk (additional)
1/2 cup butter, melted
60 whole caramels, unwrapped
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix the dry cake mix, pecans (if using), melted butter and 1/3 cup evaporated milk until fully combined. It will be very thick!

Divide the batter in half and spread one half in the bottom of a well greased square cake pan. I think next time I will line it with parchment paper or foil as my corners were hard to get out.

Bake this portion for 8 to minutes, then set aside. While that is baking, get to work on the caramels. In a double boiler, or glass bowl method, melt the caramels with the additional evaporated milk until smooth. This took quite a bit longer than I expected it to but I was worried about messing it up so I used pretty low heat. It was my first time!
**I made them again today and looked on the bag of caramels to see what the recommended melting method was. Two minutes in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds. Much faster!!

When it's ready, pour the caramel over the baked brownie bottom.

Evenly sprinkle the chocolate chips on top of the caramel.

Now get the remaining dough and spread it out to approximately the size of your pan.

Then lay it on top of the caramel/chocolate chip layer.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool down to room temperature.

Then put them in the fridge for a couple hours to really set up. Before serving them, dust with the powdered sugar...

...and cut into squares. I ended up with 12 squares and I think next time I will make them smaller. They are so decadent that it is actually hard to finish a whole one if you are having it for dessert. Or you can just eat it first!

So very, very good!!!

I did not put them back in the fridge afterwards and the next day they were so much better! Softer and more flavorful to me without the cold. YUM!

Crescent Cheese Danish

My fabulous mother-in-law is to thank for this one. I have eaten it many times but never tried to make it before. I made it over the weekend for a large group to snack on while breakfast was cooking. Then I ate some more for elevensies and after lunch and before I left to go back home and then it was mysteriously all gone! I wonder where it went?

The Ingredients

2 cans crescent rolls (I was so happy to find the sheet style cans again!)
2 8 oz packages cream cheese (as always, if the recipe calls for softened, I use whipped instead of softening a brick)
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp lemon juice

Lay one sheet of rolls in the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan that you have lightly sprayed with cooking spray.

Mix the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and lemon together until smooth. I find a pastry blender does a great job with this task.

Spread cream cheese mixture evenly on top of rolls.

Top with remaining roll of crescents. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until top is golden brown.

Cut into squares or smaller pieces if you like.

DEVOUR! Er, em, I mean ENJOY :)

Menu Monday 2/18 - 2/24/2013

Is it Monday already? I guess it is, but I am not ready for it to be. We had a weekend that was too busy. Saturday we were in a mad dash to finish up some projects around the house and then my wonderful in-laws came over for a little while. Sunday we had to set our alarm clocks for 5:30 am!!! Jayme left for a two week long business trip and we had to drop him at the airport by 6:30. From there we went over to my folks' for breakfast and a day of fun.
I made my challenge recipe last week. It's another good one. I also made two other new recipes that I will be adding to the blog this morning so come back and see what's cooking!

Monday - Frozen pizzas
Tuesday - Cheesy Garlic Chicken and noodles
Wednesday - Pork Roast with rice
Thursday - Chicken Ranch Tacos (also some Shrimp Tacos, this week's challenge recipe)
Friday - Salisbury Steak and mashed potatoes
Saturday - Totally unsure! We may end up at my in-laws or go out
Sunday - Leftovers will abound I am sure :)


Tortellini Soup

For my third week of challenge recipes, I wanted to try out a new soup. I printed the recipe out a very long time ago and the top of the page says Real Simple so you can find it there. I changed it up a little to make it lazier easier for me. It was delicious!!! I almost cried when I had to throw away the last of the leftovers. I don't keep things for more than a couple days. This made a lot of soup; next time I will have to make it for guests!

The Ingredients

1 Rotisserie chicken, shredded/cut into bit-sized chunks
2 "pods" of concentrated chicken stock
7 cups water
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup fresh spinach, julienne sliced
1 bag frozen cheese tortellini
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Bring the water to a boil and add the concentrated stock. Whisk to combine. Add the remaining ingredients, except the chicken and Parmesan, and simmer according to the tortellini directions.

When the tortellini is done, add the chicken and heat for 3 minutes. Serve in bowls with Parmesan cheese.

Heavenly! I only wished I had thought to make some bread to go with it. I imagine the broth would have been very good soaked into fresh French bread :)

Alfredo Sauce Trial 1

For the second week of my new recipe challenge, I looked for a quick and easy Alfredo sauce recipe that used half and half because I had some delicious Promised Land Dairy Half and Half on hand. So I Googled and made the first one that came up. I don't love this one but the rest of the family did. It was surely easy but I think the cream cheese made it too stringy or tangy or something. Also, next time I think I will stick to grated Parmesan. It wasn't what I was looking for in an Alfredo. But that isn't to say it was bad. Objectively it WAS tasty and the fact that the clones ate it up made me very happy indeed. Here you go:

The Ingredients

1/2 cup (one stick) butter
8 oz cream cheese
1 cup half and half
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp garlic powder (to taste, optional)
pepper (to taste)

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. When it is almost melted, add the cream cheese and stir until it is melted and combined.

Add remaining ingredients and stir until combined and saucy.

If it isn't quite thick enough, remove from heat and let sit a few minutes, checking occasionally for thickness. Serve over hot fresh noodles. I don't have a plate picture because everyone was so eager to try it! Again, it was good but I am going to try another recipe next time.


Menu Monday 2/11 - 2/17/2013

Well, I am doing pretty well with sticking to the menu lately! At least with sticking to the meals I have prepped for. I may shift the days around a bit during the week though. Last week's challenge recipe was pretty tasty and I will post it soon. I still haven't posted the one from the week before either-- oops! Here's what we have this week:

Monday-- Kobayashi Maru
Tuesday-- Raley's Open House so something quick, probably hot dogs
Wednesday-- Chicken Strips and mac & cheese
Thursday-- Valentine's Day! I'm making Italian Meatloaf (we went out to eat on Friday to my favorite place as an early Valentine's Day date)
Friday-- Leftovers/order pizza/out somewhere
Saturday-- Hamburger Noodle Casserole *This week's challenge recipe
Sunday-- Jayme will be gone starting today for two weeks so the kids and I will probably grab something fun or hit the store to stock up on things Daddy doesn't like :)


Menu Monday 2/4 - 2/10/2013

A day late again, but this time it was Pattie who was sick. Thankfully not the flu but she does have strep and a mild ear infection. She is back to school today and I am off to the grocery store to supply this week's menu!
Monday - Really simple bow ties with spaghetti sauce and meatballs
Tuesday - Mexican Chicken Lasagna 
Wednesday - Tortellini Soup *challenge recipe this week
Thursday - Breakfast, either French Toast or a Casserole
Friday - Leftovers
Saturday - Out? Maybe? I know I have been putiing this down a lot but we haven't GONE yet so I keep hoping. Since Jayme travles so much for work he has to eat out a lot and when he is home he wants my cooking. Downside is, we don't get to go out as a family much. But this month he is going to be gone A LOT, including Valentine's Day so I may guilt him into a dinner this weekend LOL
Sunday - Pork chops with potatoes