Menu Plan Monday 12/29/14

Hi everybody! Welcome to the last Menu Plan Monday of 2014! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. After all that cooking, and eating treats like Creamy Cookie Fudge and Peppermint Bark, I want to go easy and light on the cooking this week. Here’s what’s for dinner at my house:

Monday: Chicken Caprese

Tuesday: Pork Verde

Wednesday: Chicken Caesar Salad

Thursday: Mexican Stuffed Shells

Friday: Make-your-own Flatbread Pizza night!

Thanks for stopping by. Make sure to come back next week. Have a Happy New Year! I will see you in 2015!

Creamy Cookie Fudge

Baking!! It’s one of my favorite things to do and part of the reason I love the holidays! This is a holiday dessert I make that everyone loves! It’s a great dish for parties too!

Ingredients:
1 Pack Biscoff European cookies
1 cup Biscoff cookie spread (find it in the aisle with the Nutella)
3 cups sugar
1 1/2 sticks of butter
5 oz. evaporated milk
1 jar marshmallow creme
1 tsp. vanilla

Directions:
1. Mix sugar, butter, and evaporated milk in medium saucepan. Bring to a boil.
2. Reduce heat to medium and cook for four minutes, stirring constantly to prevent scorching.

3. Remove the pan from the heat and add the marshmallow creme, cookie spread, and vanilla. Stir until it starts to melt, then whisk together until smooth.
4. Spray 9×9 pan with cooking spray and cover the bottom with crushed cookies (I used about 10).

5. Pour the mixture over the crushed cookies.
6. Allow the fudge to stand for 5 minutes to cool, then cover with foil and place in refrigerator to chill for one hour or until set.

There you go, loads and loads of yummy deliciousness! If you have any favorite Christmas desserts, let me know in the comments. Check out more recipes here:

Tis the Season

Ah, Christmas. I love this season. Seriously, I love everything about Christmas. The lights, the carols, the ribbons, the wrapping paper, the crowds..everything. But, at the same time, the holidays can also create unheard of levels of anxiety in my life. There is just SO MUCH to do, and there never seems to be enough time (or a big enough budget) to accomplish it all. Parties to go to, presents to buy and wrap, people to entertain…UGH. Sometimes I get so overwhelmed I just want to hide under the covers. And then I get on Facebook and see all the posts about the picture perfect holidays everyone else seems to be having, and it sends me right over the edge. Sigh….

So, this holiday season, I decided to take a different approach in an effort to minimize holiday stress. I want more joy, peace, and hope this holiday season, and this is how I plan to get it:

1. JOY

Do you remember the childlike joy you had for the holidays when you were younger? Every single thing just brought so much excitement!! I want to recapture that joy, and to do so, I’ve decided to let go of some things in favor of others. I have decided to cut down on a lot of my social obligations to focus on more family and personal time. I committed to spending the month after Thanksgiving in a morning Bible study using a book my mother in law had given me for Mother’s Day. This means getting up earlier, which means going to bed earlier. As a night owl, I have found this pattern somewhat difficult, but I have been getting used to it.

Instead of attending every party/gathering/event my hubby and I sat down and narrowed our Christmas outings to two. We choose one work-related party and one party offered by our friends. While I do miss some of the interaction (especially as a homeschool mom who looks forward to these gatherings as a time to talk to other adults!) it has opened the schedule to more spontaneous fun with the family. My youngest son and I sat down after Thanksgiving and decided which holiday specials we wanted to watch, and made a calendar for the whole family. I have spent a lot more time on the couch this holiday season, but I feel so much more relaxed!

2. Peace
Normally, I jump into the holiday hustle and bustle of shopping just before Christmas, which is the only time we seem to be able to scrape money together. This season, I planned ahead. I had my kids write a list of 5-6 things they wanted and needed. My boys do understand our budget, and so they don’t ask for anything expensive, but I did tell them to focus on a couple of things they wanted just for fun, and the things they need (like shoes, jackets etc.). Also, while I did not go out shopping on Black Friday, I did spend a portion of the day using different websites to scout out upcoming internet sales. I was able to find some really good deals on things my boys wanted and with a point and a click, I got half of my shopping done in no time! With less pressure about the presents, I feel more peaceful in general.

A second thing we did as a couple is rearrange our family celebrations. This year my hubby’s only day off is literally Christmas. He works the day before and both days after. Normally we would try to squeeze in our family celebration, and add in time with his family to the mix. By the end of the day, I always ended up stressed out. This year, we celebrated with his mom and dad over a weekend the week before. It was much more laid back and relaxed, and I can wake up Christmas morning knowing I can stay in my pajamas all day if I want! My mom lives three hours away, and while we normally try to work out some kind of a visit, we talked this year and both agreed there was just too much going on (and not enough gas money in the bank) to make the trip. So, we decided to send gifts and make plans to see each other next month instead.

3. Hope
I mentioned earlier that I committed to spending more focused time in the word this season. While I do read my Bible regularly, sometimes I feel so distracted I wonder if I am getting anything from it. While reconfiguring my schedule was a little difficult at first, it has been worth it to get me refocused on the real reason for the season. I feel like this improves my outlook in general. While I can easily get discouraged while scrolling Facebook and wondering why I don’t have it together like everyone else, if I remind myself of the true purpose, it makes me a little less self-critical.

So, this season has been a simpler and quieter one this year. While our tree has never overflowed with gifts, this year the number has gone down even more, but each gift has meaning, and I didn’t go crazy trying to get them. My social schedule took a hit, but my level of personal satisfaction went way up. I am looking forward to a quiet holiday with my family this week, and it’s the most joyful, peaceful, and hopeful that I have felt in a long time.

Whatever your celebration looks like this year, I hope you find joy, peace, and hope too! Merry Christmas from my family to yours!

Menu Plan Monday 12/15/14

 

Oh my goodness! I am feeling the Christmas crunch now! I still have a bit of shopping to do, not to mention all of my wrapping, and shopping for Christmas dinner! Since it is going to be such a busy week, I went with super easy dinners:

 

Monday: Cheesy Tortellini (Crock Pot)

Tuesday: Tacos

Wednesday: Chili

Thursday: Grilled pork chops and pasta salady

Friday: Garlic and Basil Chicken

How is your holiday planning going? Thanks for stopping by for Menu Plan Monday! See you next week 🙂

Easy Cheesy Tortellini (Crock Pot Recipe)

Cheesy goodness.

If you visit here regularly, you know about my love affair with my crock pot. Seriously, I think it is just one of the best kitchen tools ever! So this recipe combines my love of my crock pot with easy, low ingredient dishes. The blend of the flavors and cheese makes this a great comfort food recipe!

Ingredients:
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 lb. ground Italian sausage
1 bag frozen cheese tortellini
1 jar spaghetti sauce
1 can sliced mushrooms
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar
1 1/2 cups shredded Italian cheese
Salt/pepper/garlic powder to taste

Directions:
1. Cook the ground beef in and pork in a skillet until browned.
2. Drain and rinse, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

3. Combine the meat, spaghetti sauce, mushrooms, and tomatoes in a crock pot. Season with more salt/pepper/garlic powder as desired.
4. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours.
5. Stir in the tortellini and continue to cook for 30 minutes.

6. Sprinkle the cheese over the top, cover and cook for 10-15 minutes more until melted.
7. Serve!

We had this with some garlic knots and a side salad and it was fantastic!! Give it a try at your house and let me know what you think! Have a great week. For more recipes, check out:

Menu Plan Monday 12/8/14

 

Wow! Welcome to the first Menu Plan Monday of December! I cannot believe how fast the year is flying by! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We had a great dinner with my hubby at the fire station. They fried up three turkeys and we had a ham and everyone brought sides. I guess it is almost time to start planning my Christmas menu! For now, this is what we are having this week:

Monday: Chicken and Bean Enchiladas

Tuesday: Chili Soup and Sandwiches

Wednesday: Pork and Black Bean Soup

Thursday: Taco Stuffed Shells

Friday: Christmas Party! (I’m making Sopapilla Cheescake)

Thanks for stopping by! See you next week.

 

Chicken and Black Bean Enchiladas

This quick and easy recipe is makes a great weeknight dinner!

Ingredients:

1 1/2  lb. cubed chicken

1 jar salsa verde

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 red bell pepper

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. chili powder

1 tsp. adobo seasoning

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. basil

1 tsp. lime juice

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

Spinach tortillas

Toppings:

Chopped green onion

sour cream

shredded cheese

sliced avocado

 

Directions:

1. Combine the spices in a small bowl and add the chicken. Toss to coat.

2. Heat some olive oil in a large skillet and add the chicken.

3. Cook for about four minutes on each side, until chicken is cooked through.

4. Remove chicken from the pan and allow to cool.

5. Add pepper, cilantro, and beans to skillet and cook on medium for one-two minutes.

6. While vegetables cook, dice the chicken.

7. Return the diced chicken to the pan, add the salsa verde, and cook for another three minutes until vegetables are soft.

8. Stir in lime juice.

9. Spread mixture on tortillas and chop with cheese and other toppings.

That’s it! I serve this with my black bean and corn salsa.  This recipe made about  8 enchiladas, which was plenty for dinner and lunch the next day! Thanks for stopping by! Come back next Tuesday. To see other great recipes, click here: