Dec 31, 2012

2012 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here's an excerpt:
600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 7,400 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 12 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Dec 30, 2012

Dec 27, 2012

Best Main Dishes

20121016-214037.jpgItalian Chicken

20120413-205004.jpgGreen Beans and Ham

002Paprika Chicken

SONY DSCBaked Spaghetti

This has been linked to Finding Joy in My Kitchen's countdown to 2013 - Best Main Dishes of 2012.

Best of Bread and Soup and a new soup recipe - Veggie Potato Soup


7 up biscuits


Resurrection Rolls


Cheddar Bay Biscuits



Bacon Cheeseburger

For Christmas Eve, I made potato vegetable soup for dinner. It was so delicious and I liked it had some healthy veggies in it also.

Veggie Potato Soup


Stars of the Recipe:

  • 4 potatoes, cut into small pieces (I left peels on. You can take the peels off.)

  • 1 sm. onion diced

  • 2 celery stalks, diced

  • 2 small carrots or 1 large carrot, diced

  • 1 c. spinach cut into smallish pieces

  • 1 chicken bullion

  • 1 1/2 to 2 c. milk

  • water

  • 2 heaping teaspoons of Greek yogurt


  1. Place potatoes, onion, celery, and carrots into a stock pot.

  2. Place water in the stock pot until it's about an inch to 2 inches above the veggies.

  3. Place bullion cube on top of the veggies.

  4. Heat to boiling and then turn down to medium heat.

  5. Let simmer for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are done cooking.

  6. Add milk and spinach to the broth. Let simmer for 10 more minutes.

  7. Mash up some of the potatoes using a masher or remove about 1 c. of the broth and potatoes and blend it. (If you have an immersion blender, you can certainly use that.)

  8. Add the Greek yogurt. Stir until it's incorporated.

  9. Serve with shredded cheese and bacon.

This post has been linked to Finding Joy in My Kitchen's countdown to 2013 - Best bread and soup of 2012.


Dec 24, 2012

Vegan Brownies

My husband has a cousin, J., who is a vegan.  We went to his hand fasting (another new experience for us) a year and a half ago.  The reception afterwards featured Indian food (another new experience for us) and vegan cupcakes.  We were pleasantly surprised on how yummy they were.

J. and wife had their first baby in September.  Since they live in Canada and we live in Ohio, we had not met baby S until last night.  He is totally cute and very long for his age.  J. is a tall man so it's not too surprising. 

Since we were going to meet up with J., wife, and baby S., I knew there was going to be Christmas goodies there.  J. wouldn't be able to enjoy the goodies so I decided to make him a batch of vegan brownies so he could enjoy some Christmas goodies. 

These are very rich so a tall glass of water, milk, tea, or coffee is in order when you eat a piece!

1 (108)

Vegan Brownies

Hevil's Special Delights

Stars of the recipe:

  • 1 1/3 c. whole wheat flour

  • 1 c. cocoa powder

  • 1 3/4 c. sugar (This may be reduced to 1 1/2 c. sugar or if you use Truvia baking mix, use 3/4 c.)

  • 1 c. applesauce

  • 1 banana mashed (I used my mashed potato masher.)

  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

  • 2 tsp. baking powder


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

  2. In a large size bowl, mix together the apple sauce, banana, and vanilla extract.

  3. In a medium size bowl, mix together the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.  Warning:  the batter is going to be thick.

  4. Pour into a greased 8 by 8 pan or 9 by 9 pan.

  5. Bake for 35 minutes and then check to see if the brownies are done baking.  (Mine took longer when I checked.)

  6. Cool and then cut into pieces.

  7. Enjoy with milk, water, coffee, or hot tea.

Dec 23, 2012

Swedish Oatmeal Cookies

I've previously mentioned how I like Joanna Fluke's Hannah Swenson books.  I'm rereading some of the books in the series.  As I was reading Key Lime Murder, she included this recipe.  I was instantly intrigued.  I've made other oatmeal cookies that included chocolate chips and M&M's.  This year I wanted something simple.  This cookie fit the bill!!!


Stars of the recipe:

  • 1 c. butter (2 sticks)

  • 3/4 c. white sugar (granulated)

  • 1 tsp. baking soda

  • 1 c. unsifted flour (all-purpose or white whole wheat)

  • 2 c. oatmeal (I used old-fashioned oatmeal.  I love that texture.)

  • 1 egg yolk


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

  2. Melt the butter in a microwave safe bowl on high for 1 1/2 minutes.

  3. Let  the butter cool to room temperature.

  4. Mix in the white sugar.

  5. Add the baking soda, flour, and oatmeal.  Stir thoroughly.

  6. In a small bowl, beat the egg yolk with a fork until it's thoroughly mixed.

  7. Add the yolk to the bowl and stir until it's incorporated.

  8. Grease or spray with cooking spray cookie sheet.

  9. Make small balls of dough and place them on the cookie sheet, 12 to a sheet.

  10. Press them down with a fork in a crisscross pattern.

  11. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.

  12. Let cool for 1 or 2 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack.

  13. Enjoy!!!

Dec 22, 2012

Homemade Baking mix and pancakes

I've seen recipes for homemade baking mixes but never made any. Today I took the leap and made homemade baking mix with white whole wheat flour instead of all purpose flour.

Then I used the homemade baking mix for pancakes. The Imaginative One aka the hollow leg ate 4 of the pancakes for breakfast. I guess they were a hit.

The reason I'm posting this recipe is it can be used as a homemade gift. You can put 2 cups of the mix in a container and then include directions on what to add to the mix in order for them to make their own pancakes.

Homemade baking mix
Fake it Frugal

Stars of the recipe:

  • 9 and 1/3 c. of all purpose or white whole wheat flour

  • 2.5 tsp. salt

  • 10 tsp. sugar

  • 1/3 c. baking powder

  • 1 c. shortening not butter or margarine


  1. Get a big bowl out.

  2. Place all of the dry ingredients in the bowl.

  3. Whisk together.

  4. Place shortening on top. (If using the sticks, cut into smaller pieces.)

  5. Using 2 forks, pastry blender, or food processor, mix the shortening into the dry ingredients.

  6. Keep mixing until there is no visible shortening left. Don't forget the flour at the bottom of the bowl.

  7. Place in a container with an air tight lid and keep in a dry cool place.


Homemade baking mix pancakes

Stars of the recipe:

  • 2 c. homemade baking mix

  • 1 c. milk

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 tsp. vanilla

  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon


  1. Place ingredients in a bowl.

  2. Poke the yolks so you can stir better.

  3. Mix the ingredients until well combined.

  4. Drop 1/4 c. of batter in a skillet or griddle that has been warmed up and sprayed with cooking spray.

  5. Cook until bubbles begin to appear. Flip to the other side. Continue cooking for 1 or 2 minutes.

  6. Enjoy with your favorite toppings.

Dec 19, 2012

Christmas Baking

IMG_0260Every year I bake and create Christmas goodies.  My grandma used to do the same thing and then share with family and friends.  I have her bench she used to pile the containers onto and the Kitchen aid mixer she used to whip up the batches of delicious cookies.  Once I was an adult living in a place where I could bake, I started the tradition.  I have my tied and true cookies I bake every year and then I try new recipes.

Four years ago, I lost my grandma on Christmas Eve.  For five days before her death, my family sat by her bedside.  When I couldn't be there, I baked and created in my kitchen as a way to keep my mind off of losing her.  I then brought the goodies with me when I was at the nursing home.  The family shared the treats.  It was a wonderful way to honor her.

On Christmas Eve of 2008, after everyone had left the nursing home when God welcomed her home.  I was at the Christmas Eve service when I got the call that she had died.  I remember breaking down into tears.  Grandma so loved Christmas that she took her last breath the night before Jesus' birth.

Another tradition we hold dear is baking a cake, cupcakes, or brownies to celebrate Jesus' birth.  We sing "Happy Birthday" to him as a way to remember him.  The tradition started when the Imaginative One was a baby and has continued ever since.  However I was introduced to the concept almost 20 years ago.  I had worked at McDonald's as a college student and was trained to host birthday parties.  One party I hosted was a birthday party for Jesus.  It was held during the holiday season and stuck with me.

The Wee One and I were baking snickerdoodles right before Thanksgiving.  His words were that it smelled like Christmas.  His memories of Christmas are going to include the smell of cinnamon.

My children are going to remember peanut butter blossoms, snickerdoodles, and Rolo turtles as being part of their holiday season. 

For more Christmas or holiday baking ideas, please visit my Christmas/holiday page or click on the link. 

Have a great holiday season from my house to yours!


Dec 16, 2012

What's for dinner? Week of Dec. 17

B: power up smoothie, fruit
L: almond butter sandwich, granola with Greek yogurt, fruit, veggie
D: beef tacos, chips and salsa
S: Larabar, fruit or veggie

B: oatmeal, cheese stick, fruit
L: minestrone soup, granola with Greek yogurt, fruit, veggie
D: teriyaki chicken, brown rice, broccoli
S: almonds, fruit or veggie

B: power up smoothie, fruit
L: almond butter sandwich, granola with Greek yogurt, fruit, veggie
D: eat whatever you want night
S: Larabar, fruit or veggie

B: smoothie, fruit
L: ???
D: ham sandwiches with veggie soup
S: ???

B: oatmeal or breakfast at school
L: minestrone soup , granola with Greek yogurt, fruit, veggie
D: chicken and broccoli ranch casserole
S: Larabar, fruit or veggie

B: smoothie, fruit
L: ???
D: spaghetti, salad, garlic bread
S: ???

Molasses Spice Cookies

Every year I try to find new cookie, candy, or treat recipe to add to my Christmas baking.  This year I made molasses spice cookies which has a similiar taste to gingerbread. 


Chewy Molasses Spice Cookies

Once a Month Mom

Stars of the recipe:

  • 3/4 c. butter, softened (1.5 sticks)

  • 1 c. granulated sugar

  • 1 egg

  • 1/4 c.molasses (original)

  • 2 c. flour (all purpose or white whole wheat)

  • 2 tsp. baking soda

  • 1/2 tsp. salt

  • 2 tsp. Chinese five spice or 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. ground ginger, 1/2 tsp. ground cloves

  • granulated sugar for rolling cookies - I also used colored sugar.


  1. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar.

  2. Add egg and beat well.

  3. Add molasses, mix well.

  4. Combine flour, baking soda, salt, and spices.  Add to creamed mixture and mix well.

  5. Chill dough overnight.

  6. Shape into 1-inch balls; roll in sugar.

  7. Place two inches apart on ungreased baking sheets.

  8. Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes or until edges begin to brown.

  9. Allow cookies to cool for 2 minuts before removing to a wire rack.


Dec 13, 2012

Elf for Health

I signed up for Elf for Health.  Every two weeks, we are paired up with an elf to encourage you, share tips, and recipes.  I've been lucky with my two elves - Lyndi and Gretchen. 

There are also daily challenges.  This week's challenges have been to drink enough water, clean your pantry or fridge or both, eat at least 3 servings of veggies before 2 pm, pay it forward, workout with a friend, and donate to a local charity.

I will be the first to admit that I don't drink enough water.  When I was pregnant with the Wee One, I had a lot of problems because I was not hydrated.
A few years ago, I gave up pop (soda) for over a year.  I then started to drink pop again.  So a lot of my drinks were pop instead of water.
On Monday when I drink the water challenge, I was up for the challenge.  I ended up drinking around 80 ounces of water or black coffee!  I've continued to drink at least 64 ounces of water.  Today I drank 84 ounces of water or coffee.  I had a Cub Scouts' Christmas party.  I brought a glass of water with strawberries in it.  The strawberries were to flavor the water. 

Tuesday's challenge was to clean out my pantry or fridge.  I have one shelf in the pantry that was just awful.  I cleaned that up.  I'm planning to clean up the rest of the shelves in the pantry but I'm doing it in stages.

Wednesday's challenge was to eat as many veggies as possible.  I cooked an egg scramble with wilted spinach, mushrooms, and onions.  I had it on 10 grain bread with 5g of fiber per slice of bread.  (I had 2 slices.)  I also topped it with a slice of thin cut Swiss cheese.  It was delicious.
For lunch, I had cream of broccoli soup and celery sticks.
We ate out for dinner.  Even though I had turkey and dressing with the option of mashed potatoes, I opted for green beans instead of the potatoes.  I also had a salad with my dinner.  I think I did pretty well with the challenge.

Today's challenge was to pay it forward.  Last week when I had my chiropractor appointment, I took my chiropractor a coffee.  Everytime I come in, he says something about my coffee I bring or the fact I don't have a coffee with me.  So I stopped at Starbuck's and got him a coffee.  It was a super busy day in his office so it was a nice treat for him.
Today I also got my elf from round 1 and my current elf e-cards to Starbucks so they can treat themselves.

Some positives about this whole process:

  1. I have lost a least a couple of pounds.

  2. It was easy for me to get my wedding ring off so my husband can get it cleaned.  (I usually struggle to get it off.)

  3. I'm trying new foods.  :)


Dec 8, 2012

What's for dinner? - week of Dec. 9

B: power up smoothie, mandarin orange
L: salad, popped tortilla chips
D: at in laws
S: fruit, chocolate almonds

B: baked oatmeal, kiwi, cheese stick
L: almond butter sandwich, Greek yogurt w/ granola, fruit, veggie
D: sweet and sour turkey meatballs, brown rice, salad
S: Larabar, pistachios

B: power up smoothie, mandarin orange
L: corn chowder, Greek yogurt w/ granola, fruit, veggie
D: pork chops, sweet potato fries, veggie
S: KIND bar, chocolate almonds

B: baked oatmeal, kiwi, cheese stick
L: almond butter sandwich, Greek yogurt w/ granola, fruit, veggie
D: chicken pot pie soup
S: popcorn, pistachios

B: power up smoothie, mandarin orange
L: corn chowder, Greek yogurt w/ granola, fruit, veggie
D: eat whatever you want night
S: chocolate almonds, Christmas party goodies

B: baked oatmeal, kiwi, cheese stick
L: almond butter sandwich, Greek yogurt w/ granola, fruit, veggie
D: sausage and red potatoes, veggie
S: popcorn, pistachios

B: power up smoothie, mandarin orange
L: ????
D: grilled roast beef sandwiches, fruit, veggie
S: ???

Dec 2, 2012

What's for dinner? - Week of Dec. 3

I've been flying by the seat of my pants for dinners during the last couple of weeks.  This week I have a plan.  Yeah, me!

Monday - roasted chicken thighs in crockpot, quinoa with broccoli, mac and cheese, and veggies

Tuesday - sausage and red potatoes, veggies

Wednesday - roast, mashed potatoes, green beans

Thursday - chicken pot pie soup, biscuits

Friday - eat at church

Saturday - potato soup, grilled cheese sandwiches

Nov 29, 2012

Foodie Pen Pal Reveal - November

This is my second month participating in the Foodie Pen Pal.  This time I was bought for Johanne.  If you visit her blog, you can see what I sent her.  Kristen sent me my package.  When she asked me what I liked, I told her that I liked cinnamon and mint.  She went to a local spice store and got me some interesting spices, flavored sugar, and honey powder. 

I've always been a little nervous with trying Chinese Five Spice.  Kristen sent me a bottle and advised me to use in the place of pumpkin pie spice in baked goods. 

I used it in my crockpot cranberry sauce.  So yummy!  I also made some baked oatmeal and put it in.  It was so delicious.

It was also used as a topper for popcorn.  My sons love popcorn so I air popped some and the boys ate some with butter and salt.  My portion had EVOO and Chinese Five Spice. 

Thanks Kristen, I think Chinese Five Spice is my new favorite spice blend.  :)

She also sent me a bottle of of honey powder.  Hubby loves honey so he was intrigued with this.  He was pleasantly surprised by the taste. 

The night I got it, I used it in a mug of hot tea.  It added a certain depth of flavor to the tea.  It was delicious! 

The next two items are my favorite!  I love mint.  In fact, I order lattes with peppermint when I go to coffee shops.  My favorite tea is Tazo's refresh tea which has different types of mint in it.

I had some on air popped popcorn.  It was so good.

  The last item was Ceylon "True" Cinnamon.  I love the smell and taste of cinnamon.  I make Snickerdoodles every Christmas as part of my holiday baking.  The Wee One needed cookies for a Thanksgiving feast at school.  He asked me for Snickerdoodles.  As we were making the dough and then baking them, he told me it smelled like Christmas.  He identifies the smell of cinnamon as a Christmas smell.

After I opened the bag with the cinnamon in it, I kept smelling it.  At one point, I let the Wee One smell it.  He then wanted to take it outside for his friend to smell it also. 

Kristen also sent me a card with a cow on it with a wonderful note. 

Thank you again, Kristen!

Nov 5, 2012

What are we having? Week of November 5

As soon as I walk in the door, the boys ask me what's for dinner? This occurs at least 4 dozen times in the short time after I get home and before we sit down for dinner.

They also try to sneak in snacks because they are so hungry!!!! I keep telling them dinner is going to be on the table shortly. Mysteriously they forget.

This week starts a new/old challenge. I requested a transfer at work. I didn't think they would allow it. Lo and behold they did. I'm going back to the elementary school starting Tuesday. I'll be getting off of work at 3:30 instead of 2:25. An hour difference. I've got to be on too of my game.

I'm going to be following one if Eat at Home's menus this week with a few changes.

Monday . Pork carnitas, corn, tortilla chips and salsa (me), Pringles (the rest of the family)

Tuesday brown sugar chicken, stuffing, veggie

Wednesday Chicago style deep dish pizza pot pie, salad

Thursday south of the border skillet, salad

Friday lemon pepper chicken, bowtie pasta with feta, veggies

Saturday all veggie soup, cheddar biscuits

Nov 2, 2012

Crockpot Chicken

I thought I had blogged about this before but when I was looking for it, I couldn't find a blog entry about crockpot chicken.  If there is one, I apologize.

Cooking for a semi-picky eater is a challenge.  The Imaginative One is often fearful about trying new foods especially if he doesn't know what ingredients are in the meal.  This is one of his favorite ways to eat chicken and he has requested it for a birthday dinner before. 

I wanted to post this recipe because I have a few future recipes that are going to use some of the left-over chicken.  Any of the other left-over chicken is put in the meal size portions and then frozen for future meals.

Crockpot chicken

Star of the recipe:

  • 4-5 pound chicken, giblets and neck removed and washed

  • spices


  1. If there is any gibblets and neck, remove those.

  2. Wash the chicken.

  3. Place the chicken in the crockpot.  Breast side up.

  4. Season with salt, pepper, or any other spice - it's your choice.

  5. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.

  6. Once cooked, save the juices for stock.

Two days ago, I posted about the Foodie Pen Pals, I participated in.  Shania who sent my package lives in the area stricken by Superstorm Sandy.  She is a reader of my blog.  I just want to let her know that my thoughts and prayers are with her and her family.

Oct 30, 2012

Foodie Pen Pal Reveal - October

This month I participated in a Foodie Pen Pal through the Lean Green Bean. You are given a name of a person you buy goodies. Then you mail it. Another person gets your name and they buy you goodies and mail it to you. There is a spending limit of $15. Lindsey, the coordinator, is very organized and has specific directions.


-On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal!
-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month.
-Foodie Penplas is open to US & Canadian residents.  Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. We've determined things might get too slow and backed up if we're trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa.

FPP post September Foodie Penpals Reveal Day


I was paired up with Robin and Shania. For information on what I sent Robin, visit her blog at Red Robin's Nest. Shania from Eden Flour Patch sent me my foodie care package.

Here's a picture of all the goodies in the box.

These cookies look delicious for either a work treat or in my camera bag.

When Shania asked me my likes and dislikes, I mentioned coffee - medium or light roast. This coffee is the best of both worlds. - delicious coffee and Entenmann's pastry. I get the flavor of the pastry without all of the extra calories. When I make coffee at home, I will either drink it black or with Natural Bliss vanilla creamer. This will be good with that creamer.

There were 3 different kinds of Entenmann's coffee - Hazelnut, Chocolate doughnut, and cinnamon pastry.  Yum!

At work, I have a whole basket of magnets so I can hang things up on the whiteboard. In years past, it's been a filing system for me. When students need to finish an assignment for their regular class, I will hang it up on the board. It's so we don't lose it and so it's a visual reminder for me. Some of these magnets will go in the magnet basket. Some will go on my fridge.

More coffee. After my dinner the night I got the box, I made myself a cup of the coffee. It was super delicious !

Another box of cookies. This time with chocolate. Yum!

She also sent me some tea bags.  Those will be great on cool fall days.

Thanks for the great package, Shania.