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What’s cooking Wednesday~ Fruit Salad

A little side note: Yes I know it is Thursday and this segment is called what’s cooking Wednesday. But yesterday I kept forgetting it was Wednesday. And then when I went to write this post I thought I lost my pictures. I looked through all of the SD cards and convinced myself that I had gone crazy and lost them. Then this morning, I was browsing through my pictures I have saved online and VOILA! They appeared here waiting for me to write this post the whole time! I blame this on the time change and Mommy brain.

Here it is! The long awaited Fruit Salad recipe to go with my quiches. My hubby and kids love this super simple recipe.

 

 

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1 20oz can pineapple; crushed

2 small cans mandarin oranges or 1 large can

1 pkg. strawberry jello

1 tub cool whip or homemade whipped cream

2 cups cottage cheese

Combine the cottage cheese, jello and fruit. Mix together.

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I usually make homemade whipped cream by beating 1 1/2 cups heavy cream with a tbs of sugar and 2 tsp vanilla. This is why my fruit salad takes a little longer.

Add either cool whip or homemade whipped cream to cottage cheese mix and fold in gently. Refrigerate for a couple of hours and then serve chilled.

You can add a little bit of nuts. I used to do this but got away from it when my son started eating it because he hates nuts. But honestly, nobody notices  complains about them not being in there.

There you have it folks, simple, easy and yummy! This would make a great side dish to that ham you are planning on fixing for Easter.

 

What’s Cookin’ Wednesday~ Quiche

Quick! You have a last-minute guest who is coming at a meal time. What do you fix?

This has happened to me. A family member of mine (*cough Aunt Jo, LOL) likes to wait until the last-minute to make plans. A couple years ago, we had talked about getting together on a certain day, but no solid plans were made. Luckily, I had done a massive stock up shopping so I was prepared when I got the text confirming that our get together was on.

Yes, you can always go out and pick something up. Or order pizza or sandwich trays from your local grocer. But nothing says welcome like a simple home cooked meal. My aunt offered to just pick something up, but why waste the money when I have everything here.

That day we were meeting around lunchtime, so I decided to do a brunch theme. I whipped up 2 quiches, a broccoli and cheddar and a bacon and swiss, and my famous (at least to my hubby) 15 minute fruit salad.

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Quiche is one of those dishes that looks complicated but really isn’t. And you can make it using whatever you have around the house. It is so versatile. Pick out your fillings and go.

Start with the crust. Now you can either make your own pie crust or just buy the refrigerated or frozen ones from the store. I actually used the refrigerated Pillsbury Pie crust this time. You just unroll it and place it in the pie pan. But I have been known to go all fancy and make the pie crust from scratch.

Once that is in the dish, move on to the filling. Cook, chop or whatever you need to do to the fillings now. In my case, I fried up some bacon, chopped some broccoli and grated cheddar and swiss cheese. Then I put a nice thick layer on the bottom of the crust.

Some more filling ideas~Caramelized Onion, mushroom and bacon (amazing!), Veggie (any and all kinds), Southwestern ( chicken, peppers and cheddar)

 

Next, mix up 3 eggs, 1 1/2 cups half & half, 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp nutmeg. You can just use a fork to do this. No fancy mixers, it’s just a light mixing. Pour into crust.

Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Then turn down oven to 325 degrees and bake until set. You don’t want jiggle quiches. You want springy, so if you touch the middle it is firm but soft, like a sponge. I will say quiche baking time will vary based on the amount of fillings and how deep of a pie pan you have. I have some that have baked in 25 minutes and others that took 30-40 minutes. Just keep checking on it. And if the edge your crust starts getting too dark, put a little aluminum foil around it. Just make sure not to cover the egg filling.

The basis of this recipe came from Cooks.com and makes 1 9 inch quiche. For 2, like in my picture, double the recipe.

 

 

 

 

My Favorite Childhood Holiday Cookie: Pecan Balls

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Growing up my mom wasn’t around a lot, so my memories of traditions are very few. But one thing I do remember is these amazing little bite size cookies. I couldn’t get enough of them. Well one year my mom decided that I was too old and stopped making all the cookies and holiday feast. It all fell on me. I searched every cookbook looking for a pecan ball recipe. What I didn’t know until I got this beautiful thing called internet is that they are actually called Mexican Wedding Cakes.

Then it took quite a few years to perfect the recipe to how I remember them tasting. Now it has become a tradition with my kids and they know it is not Christmas without this cookie! I even got my picky lil man to try them this year and it was instant love.

I really hope you enjoy this cookie as much as my family does.

Mexican Wedding Cakes

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 8 tbs confectioner sugar, plus more for rolling in
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups chopped pecans
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients except pecans with a mixer until well blended. Add pecans and mix.

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I used my smaller cookie scooper on these because I like them to be 1-2 bite size. Scoop and roll dough into round small balls. Place on lightly greased baking sheet.

Pecan Balls

As you can see I put a lot on one sheet because these cookies don’t spread, they hold their form. I managed to get on batch on one sheet. They do puff up a little so you may have a few that are touching but nothing you can easily pull apart.

Bake for 11-12 minutes.

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As you can see they look almost the same after baked. So you have to do a touch test. You want them a little firm and a very light coloring.

Cool completely then roll in additional confectioner’s sugar. Now if you are like me who absolutely does not wait until they are cool completely; then you will have to roll them again in a day or so. If they last that long!

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Enjoy!

 

Turkey Casserole

Turkey Casserole

So the holiday is over and your all turkey sandwiched out. But you still have turkey leftover. Well this recipe is the perfect use for it. It has all the flavors of Thanksgiving in one dish. (Well maybe not the pumpkin pie, because that’s taking it too far! Just put that one on the side.) And it is so adaptable to what you have in the house so don’t worry about running out and buying ingredients.

I found this recipe many years ago on Food.com, but you know how I like to change things up. So here is our version of it.

Turkey Casserole

2 tsp Grapeseed oil or coconut oil

1/3 cup minced onions

2 Tbs white wine

1/4 cup flour

1 2/3 cups heavy cream, 1/2 and 1/2 or milk

2 cups chicken broth

1/2 tsp thyme dried or fresh (chopped)

1/2 tsp sage dried or fresh (chopped)

1/4 cup cream cheese

10 oz bag of egg noodles

1/3 cup shredded mozzarella

3 cups chopped turkey or chicken

1/3 cup seasoned breadcrumbs (or use leftover stuffing or a mix of both)

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1) Start cooking your noodles as package says. Keep an eye on them and drain when their done.

2) In a sauce pan, cook saute onions in oil over medium high heat for 1 minute. Add wine and let it cook out for 1 minute.

3) Add flour (use a little at a time; if you don’t need the full 1/4 cup don’t worry about it.) and stir for 2 minutes.

4) Slowly add milk, broth, thyme, sage, a sprinkling salt and pepper and cream cheese; stir and cook until creamy and combined.

5) In a large bowl, combine turkey, noodles, mozzarella and sauce.

6) Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

7) Spoon into greased casserole dish.

8) Time for the topping. This is totally up to you. Do you have a lot of left over stuffing? Then use that. Do you have a little bit but not enough? Combine with seasoned breadcrumbs. No stuffing at all? Use the seasoned breadcrumbs only, but I like to add a little dried marjoram, sage and thyme to add more of the stuffing taste to it.

9) Add topping, and sprinkle with some salt and pepper.

10) Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly.

Now this is exactly how I serve it because sometimes I think I am living with a house full of toddlers. No one wants their veggies. Including my hubby! (SSHHH but he is the worse.)

So if it was just me and my girls. I would at the beginning saute some chopped mushrooms with the onions and switch my oil to butter. Also cut my turkey back to maybe 2-2 1/2 cups, since we added mushrooms.

And I would also add peas in before you mix everything up. Or you could even use green beans. Maybe leftovers depending on how they were made. We had green bean casserole so that won’t work this year. But if you got regular cooked green beans; drain and add them in.

Honestly, the plain ol’ version my family likes is okay by me too. It has a home cooked feel. Something about the flavors just scream warm and fuzzy. Try it! You will understand what I am talking about.

Cinnamon Chip Scones

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This is one of my son’s favorite breakfast. They are light and flaky; perfect for summer. But also warm and gooey and cinnamony (yup just made that word up); perfect for winter. Pair these with cup of coffee, tea or cocoa and you have a yummy breakfast.

I found this recipe in 2008 Taste of Homes Quick Cooking cookbook.  I actually didn’t have to “fix” this recipe. The only thing I did was cut down the amount of cinnamon chips, but that was a personal preference. Something about me won’t let me use a whole bag of chips; so I used 3/4 of the bag.

 

Ingredients:

3 1/4 cup all purpose flour

1/3 cup plus 2 tbs sugar; divided

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) cold butter

1 cup buttermilk

3/4 pkg or 1 pkg (depending on taste) cinnamon flavored baking chips

2 tbs butter; melted

 

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In large bowl, combine the flour, 1/3 cup of sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

DSC_0059 Like this. If you leave large chunks of butter that is going to make it flaky. Which is what you want from a scone.

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Stir in the buttermilk just until moistened. Then fold in chips.

Turn onto a lightly floured surface. When you dump your bowl out, don’t panic because it’s not mixed or it looks dry. The warmth from your hands will bind it together as you knead it. Knead gently 10-12 times or until dough is not sticky.

DSC_0063 Divide in half.

DSC_0064 And pat or roll out into a circle. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle remaining sugar on top.

DSC_0066 Then take a pizza cutter and cut like a pizza. You should be able to get 8 wedges from each circle. Repeat the last 2 steps with the other ball of dough.

Place on an ungreased baking sheet and bake at 425 degrees for 10-13 minutes. I find 11 minutes is good. But remember all ovens are different. They are done when they are lightly brown and firm.

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Cooking with kids~ Chicken Cordon Bleu

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A long time ago, as in a few months ago, I would just buy those frozen Barber Chicken Cordon Bleu. Times has changed, money is tight and since I would have to buy 4 packs for one meal, it had to go. So I was at the store with my kids, wondering what to fix for dinner. I wanted Chicken Cordon Bleu and knew I had already thawed out chicken at home, decided to fight the urge to buy it premade and made my own with the help of Brianna.

My lovely assistant

My lovely assistant

 

This recipe is very easy for kids to make because it’s pretty hard to screw up and really doesn’t involve any measuring. So I knew it would be perfect for my special child to make. Plus there was no recipe to read just listening to Mom.

Ingredients:

chicken breast~ I use thin sliced, but if you prefer the thicker ones just adjust your cooking time.

Dijon mustard or honey mustard

seasoned bread crumbs

oil or cooking spray

deli sliced ham and swiss cheese

This is what I used, but honestly the ingredients can be switched out to fit your families taste. I would have prefered honey mustard, but didn’t have any.

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Coat both sides of the chicken with a thin layer of Dijon Mustard.

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Then coat with breadcrumbs.

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Saute in a pan until lightly brown on both sides. You can use butter, coconut oil or grape seed oil. This will take about 5-7 minutes depending on the temp of your pan.

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Remove from pan and stick on a cookie sheet. Add ham; as much or as little as you like.

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Another thin layer of mustard.

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Then top with the cheese. Then I pop these in the oven for about 10-15 minutes. I want to make sure the chicken is done and the cheese is melted. Now if you are worried about the cheese getting burned, you could always put the chicken in the oven before you add the mustard and cheese. Bake for 5-10 minutes and then add continue with recipe, baking another 5-10 minutes.

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And then VOILA! The finish project! It was delicious! I usually add a cheesy rice as a side (almost like a risotto) and some corn or broccoli.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

Challenge update~Harder than I thought, Not giving up

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When I started out on this challenge I thought I had it all planned out and it was going to be fun and exciting to eat new and healthier foods. But, boy, was I wrong. It has been difficult. I have met resistance from my family. Even my kids are saying it is not worth it. Hubby thinks I am crazy. And Grandma doesn’t care one way or the other as long as she is fed 3 times a day. My son has had plenty of meltdowns because Mommy won’t buy him poptarts anymore. At least once a week, I have wanted to just give up, throw the towel in and let the family have back all their favorite junk. Hubby hasn’t helped by wanting to eat out ALL THE TIME.

I am not giving up! I am just rethinking my plan.

First, I am focusing on one thing at a time. I know I said not to overwhelm yourself and it was a case Do as I say, not as I do.

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Step one: Eliminating as much GMO’s from our diet as I can. 

So there are 4 specific items that I have heard could be GMO.

  1. Corn
  2. Wheat
  3. Sugar
  4. Potatoes

Corn is the number 1 thing I keep hearing warnings about being GMO. Which sucks because it’s the only darn vegetable I can get my son to eat. I have tried finding organic frozen corn and haven’t had very good luck. I emailed Publix and asked about their corn. They said they try to stay away from buying GMO corn. But this isn’t a 100% fix. I have also read you can’t even trust the corn from your farmer’s market or fruit stand. I contacted our local farm stand and sure enough they said yeah it probably is. WHAT!?!  So with that being said, I am just limiting our corn intake. Instead of every week, I am doing once in a while. I was able to find a very small bag of organic corn (frozen) at Publix for an insane amount of money. It would take 2-3 bags to feed my family, but worked out great for my corn casserole which only calls for a small amount.

Wheat is the next on my list. I have been going crazy looking for reasonable organic flour. We go through  A LOT of flour because we make most things from scratch. And $5.99 per 5 lb bag was not going to fit in our budget when I am buying 10-20 lbs a month. But after much research, I found that the King Arthur brand is Non-GMO. I pay $4.99 for a 10lb bag of regular flour and King Arthur is $7.99 for the same size bag. I can live with that. Plus I love that it is unbleached and the texture is light and fluffy.

Sugar was the next thing that perked my ears up. Some sugar is not made from sugar cane, but rather sugar beets which is GMO. So I did buy a few small bags of organic sugar that I found at Walmart on sale and added my coupons to it. Wasn’t too bad, but again I go through 10+ pounds of sugar a month. So not feasible. BUT after more research, Domino states on their facebook page that they do not use GMO sugar and it is from Pure sugar cane. Any sugar stating from Pure Sugar cane is good, anything else stay clear of.

Potatoes haven’t gone GMO yet. But the potato big wigs are petitioning to get GMO potatoes approved. Plus it is on the dirty dozen list so I figured let’s be safe and just go organic. I have found the best place is BJ’s for organic potatoes. They had a much bigger bag for the same price of Publix.

So out of my top 4 (and I am sure as I learn; I will add more) 2 items I can keep buying the brands I love, one item I will cut back on and the other I found a good deal. AWESOME!

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How I did my research.
I realized instead of reading a million books and each one saying something different; I would go straight to the source of all info, the internet.  I would search the name of my favorite brand or food item and add GMO at the end. It was literally that simple and in moments I would have my answer. This all started with my stress over oats. I heard all Quaker and Kelloggs were GMO. I assumed my oats were crap and I was looking for an alternative. I was stressed over the price compared to how much we eat, plus I give them to my chickens. Then I did a simple search; which said several times; there are no GMO oats. Which is why Cheerios can say they are GMO free! From here, I started thinking so what else have I been spending extra money on unnecessarily. Thus, my research began. Another tidbit I just learned is Popcorn is safe. No such thing as GMO popcorn!
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I am never going back
There were a few items that I found I loved and will be keeping in our regular diet. Coconut oil is my new favorite oil. I love the smell and it taste so clean. I did realize that I need to buy the bigger size at Costco compared to the one at BJ’s because we use it for everything. Frying, baking, seasoning my cast iron and most importantly making popcorn. Grass fed hamburger is the other item. For months, I kept complaining that the meat had a raunchy smell to it. And when I would make burgers, my hands had so much grease that I had to use dish soap to get them clean. It was gross. Well grass-fed meat has none of that. Plus I made an amazing steak the other day from grass-fed beef and my hubby loved it so much he ate the leftovers 2 days later and said it tasted even better.  And that is enough to make me a believer. Butter from Grass fed milk is another one. Yes I have to remember to sit it out so it softens but totally worth it. I have never tasted such wonderful butter. And let me tell ya, we love our butter. But now I am in Heaven.
Now the things I can’t make a commitment and change to a healthier item. Mayonnaise~ I bought this non-Gmo, organic, expensive brand and I hate it. The texture is funny and the taste is blah! We don’t use mayo a lot so I am willing to compromise and buy Duke’s olive oil mayo.
Organic dirty dozen fruits and vegetables are a must; along with any other great deal I find on organic produce. I sealed the deal on the decision the day I was driving down my back roads with my family. We drove past a strawberry field being prepped for planting season and we got hit with this awful smell. At first, I thought it was a skunk dead in the area, but then Hubby said that’s the stuff they spray on the fields. Needless to say, I was grossed out! So we are trying to grow a lot of own, but if we can’t then organic is the way we are going as much as possible.