Crockpot Potato Chowder

It's Crockpot Wednesday over at Dining With Debbie! I am going to be using my Crockpot all this week to test out some new recipes. School starts back again in a few weeks and I'll have night class 3 nights in a row - so my crockpot is going to be working hard!! Very thankful for the recipes I know I can find over on Debbie's website!

The weather has finally turned cold around here and I was in the mood for something to warm us up, and what better than a steaming hot, creamy bowl of potato chowder?? I don’t know why this popped into my head, I’ve never made it before and I thought the recipe looked a little boring… so I decided to make a few changes!! And now we have a new meal in the regular rotation (well, at least the winter rotation)!

Here is what you need:


Bean and Sausage Soup

It's Crockpot Wednesday again over at Dining with Debbie!!

I wasn't planning on posting this one, but after my boys ate it on day 2, I changed my mind. You see I really wasn't very impressed with it at all the night we had it, this is largely due to a few mishaps of my own. But, the leftovers, according to both boys, were absolutely delicious. So, it's on the keeper list, but we'll definitely be changing it up a bit!!

Here is what I used:


Back to Planning Menus!

I'm back to normal life now that finals are over!! I've missed my blog and it is in some serious need of attention so I should have some great new recipes up this week, here's a peek at our menu for the week:


Mexican Penne

You know what works for me? Making meals ahead when I know life will be crazy!

For those of you who read my blog on a semi-regular basis, you may have noticed I've been MIA for awhile now... I'm in the midst of finals (law school) and haven't found much time to sleep let alone blog, but I am taking a break tonight from the insanity to introduce you all to my favorite make-ahead (or make right now!) meal!

I made this about a week and a half ago, I knew I'd be too busy to cook (I haven't cooked since last Wednesday!) and I knew my boys would be hungry, so I made a few easy to throw together meals and threw them in the freezer, this is their second favorite - Shepherd's Pie being their first!

This recipe is for one casserole, but I made it into two because otherwise there are too many leftovers.

So here is what you need:


Shepherd's Pie

I first started making this about 4 months ago and it quickly became a regular! This is easily my stepson's favorite meal that I cook! The great thing about it is I can make it earlier in the morning and stick it in the fridge for later, or in this case, double it and freeze one for next week (finals are looming, I will not be cooking!)

So here is what you need, keep in mind I doubled this, so if you are only making one - cut it in half:


Cream Cheese Ranch Chicken

Ranch is a big hit around here, so anything with a ranch packet added in automatically makes the try list! This is the second time I've made this meal, and the second time I've said, why oh why didn't I buy low sodium broth/cream of chicken!??! Be warned, you should definitely go low sodium on this, but we got past the saltiness because this is really yummy!

Here is what you need:


This Week's Menu

It's time to plan out the weekly menu again and you can check out a bunch more ideas over at OrgJunkie!
Here's our menu this week:


Alfredo Sauce with Penne & Chicken

This meal makes me think of my best friend because it was something we often cooked together whenever we wanted to stay in and hang out instead of dress up and go out, it was simple, delicious, and fun to make together.

Of course, we always used jarred Alfredo sauce, back when I didn't care about calories (oh how I miss those days).

But then I stumbled across a fellow blogger after seeing one of her comments on a post of mine, I was browsing through her recipes and found a recipe for Weight Watchers Alfredo Sauce - I nearly jumped off my seat! I decided to make it as soon as I could to see if it was really as good as she said it was!

It was delicious!! In case you are wondering, the recipe comes from Arlene at The Food of Love, go check her blog out, she has tons of amazing recipes!

I doubled Arlene's recipe so here is what I used:


Curry From a Packet

The first meal hubby ever cooked for me was a curry stew, I had never had curry before and it was so wonderful that it became a regular meal on the menu plan! I normally use a packet called Vermont Curry- Mild... I actually have 3 of them in my pantry, but I've had a Hawaiian Curry packet in my pantry for a long time and I figured it was time to try it.

Here it is:
 Can you tell by how wrinkly it is that it's been rolling around in my packet bag for quite some time?


Crockpot Beef Stew

It's Crock Pot Wednesday over at Dining with Debbie, and Slow Cooking Thursday over at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom!
I didn't have any crockpot meals planned, but I did have beef stew on the menu... I've never made it in the crockpot, but I figured why not give it a try?

It turned out great, better than usual!! Click here for the printable version.

Here is what I used:



If you went ahead and made your homemade cheese, you should definitely treat yourself by using it to top a homemade pizza! And if you have store bought cheese, that's okay too!

I've experimented with many different crusts, and I still do, but this has been the favorite that I make when I'm not in the mood for experiments. I found it here. There is also a good recipe for a chunky sauce on that page so take a look! Basically, I follow the directions, but I don't use semolina flour, I add molasses, and I use more yeast.

So, here is what you need:


Homemade Cheese!!!

Making my own cheese Works For Me!!

Have you ever made your own cheese? I bet you would if you knew how easy it was and I bet you’d jump for joy if you knew it only took 30 minutes!

Over a year ago hubby urged me to find the perfect pizza crust. Many, many attempts later, I’ve found one that we deem perfect, and we eat pizza pretty much weekly now. But about a month ago, he said, “hey honey, since we make our own dough and our own sauce, I think we should make our own cheese too.” I just laughed, and said, “okay honey, you get right on that.”

And he did.

A week later, he had this shipped to the house:


Menu Plan Monday

This morning I did my menu plan for the next 3 weeks and went and did the grocery shopping for all of it, hubby and I make a day out of it, always stopping at our favorite lunch spot and splitting a yummy sandwich before we head into the commissary (so our bellies are full and we can avoid temptation!). For the next 3 weeks I'll send him to the store about 2 times to pick up some veggies and milk, but I won't have to go back for 3 more weeks - this makes me very happy!! Anyway, here is this weeks menu:


Fiesta Salad

This is such an easy, cheap, and fun meal I always end up asking myself why I don't make it more often. Probably because I try to wait until I have some leftover tortilla chips instead of buying a whole bag of them, we never seem to eat them when I do it that way and then they go stale!!

Here is what you need to get started:


Kung Pau Chicken

I've blogged before about my boys obsession with Asian food, but this recipe just drives them wild. If you think the singing and dancing at the mention of Cashew Chicken was a little wacky, you'd love to see them go nuts when I mention Kung Pau!

And the best part? It keeps me from going nuts, because it takes all of 10 minutes to make. You know why. Say it with me: PACKET!!!! 

Here is your very best friend in the whole wide world, the packet: 

Shoyu Chicken

I found this recipe about a year and a half ago and I make it at the very least monthly in our house. We were living in my apartment at the time and Hubby asked me if I had ever had Shoyu Chicken... I didn't even know what it was. He said it was something he had pretty frequently when he lived in Hawaii (12 years!! no fair!)

So I looked up a recipe online, mainly I was looking for something very simple and a recipe where I wouldn't have to run to the store, it was 10 in the morning and we were going to be looking at houses all day!

I found this recipe on RecipeZaar, and I had everything we needed to make it, so I threw it in the Crockpot and we went on our merry way to go find our dream house. (Nope, we didn't find it that day, but we eventually did).

I really haven't changed much of anything from the original recipe! It is good as is, but read on to see how I make it and how it turns out.

Here is what you need:


Menu Plan Monday

This week the weather has finally cooled down!!! Very exciting news around here, it was in the 80's all last week!! So beef stew from last week was moved to this weekend. I have links for two of these recipes, so check them out, they are all favorites here!!


Wanchai Orange Chicken... boo!

I suppose everyone has an off night when it comes to cooking - a night where just nothing comes out the way you wanted or expected it to, whether it be a new recipe that didn't turn out right, or a quick and easy meal you thought you'd try to save some time. I've fallen into the latter category this week! 


Cream Cheese Party Dip

This has been around in my family for quite some time. I can't tell you how many times my mom and I have been asked to write out the recipe on the spot after someone tried it!

I made this for my best friend's baby shower (doubled it even) and it disappeared, I did the same thing for a casual potluck wedding party and even though I ran out of crackers, people were scooping it up on to veggies, chips, and whatever else they could find. And just recently I made it for Girls Night In with the neighbors! 

Around my house, this was classic Christmas Eve fare. I grew up having a love hate/relationship with it because while it tastes unbelievable, I have a strong aversion to crunching into onions. So, I used to sit there and pick all the onions out of it and then spread it on my crackers. Now, I just throw my onion in the food processor and turn it super mushy, problem solved!! 
So here is what you need:


Menu Plan Monday

This week isn't going to be very interesting in the cooking department. Hubby is headed off for a conference on the other side of the continent and with him gone, frozen pizzas/meals will come into play! Especially with my night classes, it is just a bit easier to throw on a pizza instead of expecting the 13 year old of the house to operate the crockpot and remember to turn it off, and so on and so on... Excuses, excuses. Frozen pizzas were on sale this week anyway, and there were tons of coupons, so without further ado, my menu for the week:



You can't go wrong with these nachos!! My family and I used to eat at this tiny little Mexican restaurant on the corner, we started going right when they opened, they served everything on paper plates and had plastic silverware, but the food.... oh my! I've never been able to find anything like it again.

Before they closed down, my mom begged the owner to tell her how to make the shredded beef he used in his Nachos, Chimichangas, and Burritos. He laughed and told her, "just throw it in a slow cooker with some salsa and jalapeƱos all day, it'll fall apart!"

And so she did. And now I do too! And soon, I bet you will as well.

So here is what you need:



I'd really like to enjoy meatloaf. Really, I would. I just don't. When my mom used to make meatloaf as a child, I would have hot dogs or a frozen dinner instead, I hated it and refused to eat it. (And I was an incredibly spoiled only child).

So, I haven't tried a bite of meatloaf since I was probably 8 or 9 years old. My old college roommates loved it, and on nights when they cooked it, they reinforced my spoiled nature by making me a chicken breast instead. But, I ate meatloaf last night.


Cashew Chicken

So, have I mentioned we love Asian food at our house?? Funny thing is, I used to hate trying new things, the only thing I would get from a chinese take out was those fried up little chicken pieces with sweet n sour. And now I eat something different every week - heck I even MAKE it!

With a little help though! Thanks to the packets I've found (and will be telling you more about soon) I'm able to cook up some seriously delicious food that gets raved about. Last night my boys (hubby and stepson) were actually dancing around the house singing "we're having cashew chicken!!" (over and over and over again). The dog joined in on the singing. It was insane. It was hilarious. It is definitely a good life!

This is the third Wanchai Ferry kit we've tried, and while all of them have been good, this one takes the cake, not only for taste but because it is seriously easy and gets to the table faster than I can load a dishwasher (maybe I'm a little slow in that area..)


Crockpot Chicken and Dumplins

I just recently discovered Crockpot Wednesday's over at Dining with Debbie! I love to use my Crock Pot and since I have class at night on Mon and Wed it is pretty much the only way my family gets a home cooked dinner. Yesterday I made this delicious meal and you can read how to make it for yourself below or you can click here to skip my rambling and go to the printable version.

This meal does not use a packet, but it does use cans! Cans are kind of similar to packets right? Just open them, dump them in, and toss them (into your recycling bin - unless you are trying to hide the cream of mushroom evidence from a very picky 13 year old who HATES mushrooms, in which case you wrap it in dirty paper towels and put it at the bottom of the trash can - the Earth will forgive me).

So here's what you need for this meal...


My First Menu Plan Monday!

I read so many great recipes and menu plans from the links I find on the Menu Plan Monday blog!! I have been lurking for the past few months, but I'm ready to join in the fun, finally. I normally plan my menus out for a month, some people call me crazy but it takes less work to sit down for an hour once a month and hash it all out then to stress about it every week. But for this blog I'll tone it down and just go week by week.

I'll be the first to admit that I don't always stick to this plan, but I do try!


What To Do With Your Leftover Chili

Two options are at the top of my head for the leftover chili...


Chili Appetizer Dip

I'm not taking pictures of this one because, well I'm not making it. If I make it, I'll eat it, and I don't have any parties to take it to, so for this you will have to use your imagination!


Chili Made EASY!

For the first recipe, one of my favorite meals... Chili!!!

This is so easy and so good you will smack yourself for not making it sooner. You can print this out minus my comments and pictures here.

Here is our friend the packet: