Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Fantastic Christmas Ideas from Shutterfly

For anyone who hasn't used Shutterfly, it is time to check it out! Shutterfly is a fantastic website where you can Create photo books, make personalized calendars and gifts or just share photos with family and friends.

For the last few years I have made our Christmas cards with Shutterfly. I love their card designs and there website is very easy to use. This year they have a ton of new card designs- everything from sentimental, to religious to just plain holiday fun!! Check out their fun designs here. Christmas Photo Cards

Every year on my parents and in-laws Christmas list is a photo calendar of their grand kids. And ever year I find great deals an great calendars at Shutterfly. This year their calendars have a new feature, where you can add tiny pictures directly on to the days of the calendar. I love this feature, as I put a picture of each kid and grand kid on their birth date. I even added wedding pictures on anniversary dates. There are hundreds of backgrounds and layouts to choose from and Shutterfly even has an auto fill option where you choose the pictures you want and they fill in the calendar for you. This makes it Super easy to make a Christmas present that your kids grandparents are guaranteed to love!

Finally, check out Shutterfly's photo books, personalized gifts like mugs, mouse pads and even puzzles, and their great print options where your prints can be sent directly to your house or to a local Target.
Canvas Wall Art
Cards and Stationary

Monday, November 22, 2010

I'm back...

Sorry for the major delay in posts.... I think I got a little busy with college finals, two kids in school and a new baby. But I'm back!

To start things off.... it is almost Thanksgiving and I am making these fun little pumpkin pies for Allie's Kindergarten class.

Pumpkin Pie Minis

Crust: 1 C graham crackers, crushed
2 T granulated sugar
3 T melted butter

1 Can pumpkin
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin spice
1/2 C sugar
1/3 C brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 T cornstarch
2 eggs
1 C evaporated milk
1/2 C water

1-Mix ingredients for crust in a small bowl until well mixed. Set aside.

2-Mix together pumpkin spice, sugars, salt and cornstarch. Stir well into pumpkin. Add eggs, milk and water. Mix well.

3-Grease a mini-muffin pan. In each spot place 1 tsp of graham cracker crust. Fill remaining cup with pumpkin mixture. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 40 minutes.

4-Remove from oven and allow to cool before removing from pan. Top with cool whip or cream cheese frosting and a candy corn.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Spinach & Cheese Manicotti

This is one of my favorite meals.... it hits my Italian sweet spot just perfectly! Although I have to make half of it without the spinach or my hubby won't eat it.

The other reason this meal is fantastic is because it makes a great freezer meal. When you are making this, double the recipe, and throw one pan in the freezer for a day you don't want to cook.

1 8oz. package manicotti
1 1/2 C ricotta cheese
2 C cottage cheese
4 ounces cream cheese
1/2 C Parmesan cheese
2 C shredded mozzarella, divided
1 C chopped spinach, fresh or thawed from frozen
1 T dried parsley
1 tsp salt
3-4 C spaghetti sauce

Do NOT cook manicotti if you are going to freeze. Follow remaining recipe omitting the noodles cooking. Fill dry noodles.

1- Cook manicotti al dente according to package- you don't want them too soggy. Remove from water and place back in the trays included with the packaging. This will help the noodles keep their shape.

2- Combine all remaining ingredients (use only 1 C mozzarella!) except the spaghetti sauce.
3- Grease 9x13 baking dish. Cover bottom of pan with 1-2 C spaghetti sauce.

4- Place cheese mixture in a plastic Ziploc bag. Cut a very small!!! opening in one corner of the bag. Squeeze filling into each noodle. Arrange manicotti on spaghetti sauce in pan.

5- Pour remaining sauce on top. If you are going to freeze: Cover with heavy foil, label and freeze. I like to write the cooking directions on a paper and tape on top for convenience!

6- Cover with tin foil and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Remove foil. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake an additional 10 minutes.

Freezer cooking directions: Thaw overnight in fridge. Bake covered for 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Uncover, top with more mozzarella cheese and bake an additional 10 minutes or until cheese melts.

Original recipe by Deanna Buxton

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Loaded Pita Sandwich

I found a great deal on Kraft Salad Dressing at Miejer this week- with coupons and a catalina you end up MAKING .10 on the deal!!! Check out this Bargins to Bounty post for more details!

I decided to try Kraft's Parmesan Asiago Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing and loved it! Try this delicious lunch idea using this dressing.

Loaded Pita Sandwich

2 pieces Greek Flat Bread (pita bread will also work, but it isn't nearly as good)
4 slices of your favorite deli meat (I used Ham)
1/4 Cucumber, sliced
1 tomato, sliced
Shredded Lettuce
1/2 avocado sliced
1/2 C shredded mozzarella cheese
1-2 T Mayo
1-2 T Light Parmesan Asiago Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing

1- Warm your flat bread in the microwave for 30 seconds.
2- Spread 1 T mayo on top of each
3- Top with meat, cucumber, tomato, lettuce, avocado and mozzarella.
4- Drizzle with dressing and fold in half to eat.
5- Share with a friend and enjoy!!!
p.s. if you want to take this sandwich with you do all the prep work except adding the dressing and lettuce. Take dressing and lettuce on the side and add right before eating!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Margarita chicken stirfry and salad

This is what I had my husband cook me for Mothers Day- he did a great job and we both loved it!
These recipes are both adapted from Betty Crocker... if you want the original check it out here.

We loved the margarita flavors in this meal, especially because the salad and the stir-fry were slightly similar, but enough different that you weren't over whelmed by the margarita flavor. We also served this with Mango Margaritas. Mix margarita mix, mango nectar (we like the Jumex brand at Walmart for 1.00 for a 33.8 oz container!), and ice in a blender at about a 1:2:1 ratio.

Grilled Margarita Chicken Salad

1/2 C non-alcoholic margarita mix (frozen or liquid)
1/4 C olive oil
2 T white vinegar
4 boneless chicken breasts
6 cups assorted salad greens
1 C sliced strawberries
1 medium avocado, peeled and sliced
1 medium mango, peeled and sliced
1/4 C fresh cilantro

1. Mix margarita mix, olive oil and vinegar in a bowl. Whisk until combined. Reserve half. Pour the remaining dressing over chicken breasts and allow to marinate overnight in the fridge.
2. Grill chicken for 15-20 minutes over medium heat or until no longer pink inside.
3. Cut the chicken into slices. On 4 plates, arrange lettuce. Top with sliced chicken, strawberries, mango and avocado. Drizzle remaining dressing over salad and sprinkle with chopped cilantro.

Margarita Chicken Stir-fry

1/2 C non-alcoholic margarita mix
1/4 C olive oil
2 T white vinegar
4 boneless, chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
1 T butter
1/2 green pepper cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 yellow pepper cut into bite-size pieces
1 T finely chopped cilantro
2 C cooked jasmine rice

1. Mix margarita mix, olive oil and vinegar. Reserve half. Allow chicken to marinate in remaining dressing overnight. (I marinated both this and the chicken for the salad at the same time.)
2. In an nonstick pan melt butter. Add chicken and stir fry until juices run clear. Remove from pan.
3. In same pan stir fry green peppers 2-4 minutes until they are tender but still have a bite to them. Add chicken, cilantro and remaining dressing. Cook until heated through.
4. Serve over warm jasmine rice

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Chewy Almond Joy Cookies

I had a coupon for these new Almond Joy Pieces so I thought I would check them out... Big Fan! (As is my husband and kids). I wanted to try making cookies with them, so if you happen to see them at your local grocer, grab a bag and try this recipe. Just be sure to use them Before you stick the bag in the pantry... they won't last long!

Chewy Almond Joy Cookies

1 C White sugar

1 C Brown Sugar

1 C butter (2 sticks)

2 eggs

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

2 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp salt

2 C flour

2 C Whole oats

1 C shredded coconut

2 C Almond Joy Pieces

1- Preheat oven to 400.

2- Beat together sugars, butter and vanilla until well mixed. Add in eggs one at a time.

3- In a separate bowl stir together flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Add to butter mixture.

4- Stir in oats, coconut and Almond Joy Pieces

5- Bake at 400 for 8-10 minutes. Remove from pan and allow to cool on wire rack.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Ginger Stir-fry

I have to apologize for the lack of recipes as of late... you see, my diet has consisted of Saltines and Ginger ale. And I just can't bring myself to cook much more than that. Unfortunately, that means my poor family has been stuck eating cold cereal and grilled cheese.

That's right, you guessed it... I am pregnant :) We are all really excited about it, but along with the excitement comes the blah!

The other night I was able to cook an actual meal (although eating it was another story). We make stir fry a lot in our family, but my husband said that was by far his favorite. Hope you like it!

Ginger Stir-fry
-Fresh ginger, 1 in. piece
- 1/4 onion, finely chopped
- 1-2 large chicken breasts, cut in bite size pieces
- 2 large carrots, chopped
- 1/2 cucumber, chopped
- 3 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
- 1/2 can pineapple tidbits
- 1/4 C Kraft Asian Toasted Sesame Dressing

1- Heat 1 T extra virgin olive oil, or sesame oil in a pan. Satay grated ginger and onion in pan until onions are clear and ginger is fragrant.
2- Add chicken and cook until tender and juices run clear.
3- Meanwhile, steam carrots in a small pot with 1/2 C water.
4- When carrots are done toss together carrots, chicken and dressing in chicken pan. Stir fry for 1-2 minutes until everything is covered. Stir in tomatoes, cucumbers, and pineapple. Add more sauce if you like. Remove from heat and serve immediately over warm Jasmine Rice.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

I wanted to share this amazing story with you- I just read it and bawled. I hope you get the chance to read it and have your own faith renewed. Faith in a God who loves His children. Faith in a God who has not ceased to perform miracles. Faith in a God who knows each of us and our individual trials.

Reading this story reminded me of our own miracle baby- our daughter, who probably shouldn't have lived when she was born 6 weeks early. And yet she is here and blesses our lives each day. Again, I know that God is a God of miracles.

The Bronson Staker Miracle

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Easter Brunch

Happy Easter everyone....

At our house the Easter Bunny comes on Saturday, so after letting the kids find all the Easter eggs, we had a delicious brunch with some friends. Enjoy!

Breakfast Bake by Kraft

1 can (8oz) refidgerated crescent dinner rolls
2 C ham, chopped (a great use of your leftover Easter ham!!!)
6 eggs
1/2 C cold milk
1/2 tsp pepper
1 C Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 C mozarella cheese, shredded

1- Preheat oven to 350.
2- Unroll dough in a 9x13 baking dish. Press to cover the bottom of the dish and fill in any holes.
3- Sprinkle ham over the crust. Beat eggs, milk and pepper with a whisk until bleneded; pour over the ham. Top with cheeses.
4- Bake 25-30 minutes or until center is set (closer the 30 minutes)

Gooey Buns
20 frozen rolls
1 pkg. regular vanilla pudding
1 C brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 C chopped nuts
1/2 C melted butter
1- Place rolls in a greased 9x13 pan.
2- Mix pudding, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nuts together. Sprinkle over frozen rolls. Drizzle with melted butter.
3- Cover with a towel or greased plastic wrap and allow to rise overnight.
4- In the morning bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes. Let sit for 5-10 minutes, then turn over pan onto serving dish.

Orange Julius
6 oz frozen orange juice concentrate
1 C milk
1 C water
1/4 C sugar
3 tsp vanilla
8-10 ice cubes

1- Mix all ingredients in a blender except the ice.
2- Add ice cubes a few at a time and blend until smooth.
Variation: For those of you who may be lactose intolerant, try this with soy milk (my favorite is Silk plain) just use a little less sugar.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Vacation Recovery

Whew... I just returned home from a fantastic vacation to Utah to visit family. Since I haven't been shopping yet, dinner is going to be an easy one. Most of the ingredients for this delicious taco soup, should be in your pantry. (I hope they are in mine!!) Enjoy!

Emily's Corner Taco Soup

4 C water
4 chicken bouillon cubes (or 4 tsp bouillon granules)
1 can Black Beans, drained
1 can Corn, drained
1 can Cream of Chicken soup
2 C cooked and shredded chicken (you can use canned chicken if you are really in a hurry)
2 T dried onion (or fresh if you prefer)
1/2 packet taco seasoning
1 cooked rice *hint: When you cook rice for a meal make 1-2 cups extra. Place 1 cup of cooked rice in a Ziploc bag and place in the freezer. When you need rice quickly, grab the bag out of the freezer, pop it in the microwave for a few minutes and Wallah, you have rice fit for a meal.

1 C cheddar cheese, grated

1. Boil water, add bouillon and allow to dissolve.
2. Turn to Med. low heat and add all remaining ingredients except the cheese. Simmer on low for 30 minutes.
3. Add cheese, stir until melted.
4. Serve with sour cream and corn bread.

Corn Bread

1 C flour
1 C cornmeal
1 T baking powder
1/4 C sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/8 C milk
1 egg
1/4 C vegetable oil

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. Mix dry ingredients together. Combine milk, egg and oil in a separate bowl.
3. Add milk mixture to dry mixture and stir just until moist.
4. Pour in a 8x8 glass baking dish that has been well greased.
5. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Do not over bake!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

She Wears Flowers

My friend just started selling her adorable girls clothing on Etsy. I absolutaly LOVE everything on her site and wish I could buy it all!!
Check her stuff out at She Wears Flowers.
While you are at it, check out Brittni Schroder Photography- she took the beautiful pictures of the clothing.

You-Crack-Me-Up Cookies

I love chocolate! My husband knows that if he is ever in the dog-house, he only needs to bribe me with Lindor Truffles, or Ferrero Roche, or even just Peanut butter M&M's and he's off the hook.

Today I thought I'd try these chocolate cookies. They are chocolaty and sugary and just small enough that you need at least 3! (Although I would probably need 3 no matter how big they were...)

You-Crack-Me-Up Cookies

1/3 C vegetable oil
1 1/2 C sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 egg + 1 egg white
1 2/3 C flour
1/2 C unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 C powdered sugar

1- Preheat oven to 350.
2- Combine oil, sugar and vanilla in a bowl. Beat until well blended. Add egg and egg white. Beat again until well blended. Stir in flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt with a spoon. The mixture will be pretty thick.
3- Place the powdered sugar in a shallow bowl or a plastic bad.
4- Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in the powdered sugar until covered. Place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
5- Bake at 350 for 7-8 minutes or until almost no indentation remains when lightly touched. Be sure to not overcook. Cool on baking sheet 2 minutes then transfer to cookie racks to cool completely.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day

This week my kids and I have had a great time making lots of Valentines Treats. Here are a few that we tried...
- Cupids Cups from Kraft Foods
- Heart Shaped Pretzels (We added red food coloring to ours to make them look pink)
- Glazed Brownie Hearts

To celebrate Valentine's Day I made my husband a candlelight dinner complete with romantic music & sparkling cider. We had a great time enjoying a quiet dinner, just the two of us (a rarity around our place!)

Our Menu:
Wedge Salad with Strawberry Vinaigrette Dressing
French Bread with Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar
Chicken Amore
Chocolate Raspberry Parfait
Sparkling Cider

Chicken Amore

6-8 Chicken tenders
1/4 lb angel hair pasta, cooked al dente
1 packet dry Alfredo Sauce Mix
1 T Olive oil
1 T butter
1 C milk
1/2 C water
1 C tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/2 C roasted red peppers (found in a jar marinated in olive oil)
1 T capers, drained
1 T onion salt,
1 T Italian Seasoning
1/2 T garlic powder (or chopped garlic if you like a stronger garlic flavor)
Lawry's Herb & Garlic Marinade
Mozzarella cheese, grated

1- Marinate chicken for at least 4 hours in Herb & Garlic Marinade
2- Heat olive oil in skillet on Medium heat. Add chicken. Cook 5 minutes on each side or until the juices run clear. Transfer from pan to plate tented with tinfoil to keep chicken warm.
3- Add 1 T butter to chicken drippings in skillet. Allow to melt. Meanwhile, whisk together Alfredo mix, milk and water until there are no lumps in it. Add to butter in skillet and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat.
4- Add tomatoes, pepper, capers and spices. Simmer on low 5 minutes to allow sauce to thicken up a bit. Add cooked pasta and stir to coat.
5- Serve by plating pasta, top with chicken and a generous serving of grated mozzarella.

Wedge Salad with Strawberry Vinaigrette Dressing

1 head Iceberg lettuce
Purple grapes ,halved
Dried Cranberries
Cucumber ,thinly sliced
Tomato, thinly sliced

Cut two wedge shapes out of the iceberg lettuce. Place on a plate already drizzled with dressing. Surround with halved grapes, dried cranberries, cucumbers and tomatoes. Drizzle with additional dressing and sprinkle with your favorite cheese.


In a blender mix:
1/2 C red wine vinegar
3/4 C sugar
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1 T minced onion
2 tsp poppy seeds
1/2 C vegetable oil
1 C strawberries, fresh or frozen ( I have also been known to substitue strawberry jam in a pinch!)

Monday, February 1, 2010

Crockpot Chicken Cordon Bleu

Have you ever put together the perfect meal in a crock pot, complete with an expensive roast and equally expensive vegetables, then gone to work. You come home expecting a delicious, ready-to-eat meal, and instead you smell..... nothing. You forgot to PLUG IN the crock pot. So instead of savoring a tender roast and sweet vegetables, you feed them to the garbage disposal and eat Cheerios and Moose Tracks Ice cream. How depressing!

Yes, I have to admit this has happened to me, on more than one occasion. So before you walk out the door, check to see that your crock pot is securely plugged in and the knob is turned to the 'On" position!

Crockpot Chicken Cordon Bleu
4 small chicken breasts pounded flat (or two large ones -fillet in half and avoid all that pounding)
4 thick slices ham
4 slices Swiss cheese
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 C Sour Cream
1/2 C milk
1/2 C bread crumbs
1 T Italian seasoning

1- Place flattened chicken breasts flat down on a plate. Place 1 slice of ham and 1 slice of cheese on top of each breast. Fold the chicken breast into thirds, rolling the ham and cheese in the middle of the chicken. Secure with two toothpicks. (I find that if I always use two, I always know how many to look for before I eat it)

2- Place chicken toothpick side up in the bottom of a crock pot. Meanwhile mix Cream of chicken soup, sour cream and milk in a bowl. Pour the mixture into the crock pot so the chicken breasts are almost covered. If you have any sauce left save in the fridge for later.

3- Sprinkle with bread crumbs and Italian Seasoning. Cover and cook on High for 4-5 hours.

4- Remove Chicken Cordon Bleu's from crock pot and pour sauce into a gravy dish to serve over the top, or on mashed potatoes. You may want to strain the sauce to remove any bits of chicken that fell off. Also, if you had any sauce left from earlier, warm it in a saucepan before adding to the remaining sauce.


Saturday, January 30, 2010

A few good deals

- Free Pampers Sample

Check out the sample of Pampers new Pampers Dry Max. It looks like the sample includes 3 newly redesigned Pampers Cruisers, and you can pick up some great coupons as well. And as an added bonus if your sample has the Team USA logo on it, you win a year supply of diapers.

- Magic Bullet to Go Giveaway with "Stretching A Buck"

Check out the Stretching a Buck blog for a chance to win a Magic Bullet to Go. My parents have one of the original Magic Bullets and it was a great little blender, perfect for Quesadilla filling, guacamole, salsa, pesto, and even chocolate milk.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Asian Chicken Stir-fry

This is one of my favorite speedy meals! It is perfect for the nights when you aren't sure what to cook. I usually have everything in my pantry and the Kraft Asian Toasted Sesame Dressing has become a staple in my fridge- it is great on everything!

Oh, and I must give credit where credit is due.... I got this recipe from Kraft foods.
8 oz. angel hair pasta, uncooked
2 cups broccoli florets
1 lb. chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
1 C. Kraft Asian Toasted Sesame Dressing (I like the lite)
2 Tbsp. Soy Sauce
1/4 - 1/2 tsp each; ground ginger, garlic powder, crushed red pepper
Sesame Seeds
1- Cook pasta as directed on package, adding broccoli to the boiling water for the last 3 minutes of the pasta cooking time.
2- Coat a skillet with cooking spray. Heat on Medium- high heat. Add chicken, cook 6-8 minutes until cooked through. Stir in dressing, soy sauce, ginger, garlic and crushed red pepper. Cook 1 minute while stirring.
3- Drain pasta and broccoli and place in a large bowl. Add chicken mixture. Toss lightly. Sprinkle with sesame seeds or 1/3 c chopped peanuts.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Gnocchi with Alfredo Sauce and Peas

Aka: Rocket Soup

My son just celebrated his 2nd birthday and since he is very into Little Einsteins at the moment, I created this "Rocket Soup" for him. There is an episode of Little Einsteins where the characters make Rocket Soup... The song to make it says "Mouse has cheese and Knight has peas and Joey has the jumping beans, and that is how you make the Rocket soup." So here is it, Rocket Soup, complete with cheese, peas and jumping beans (also now known in our family as gnocchi potato dumplings.)

1 3/4 C water
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1 pkg. (mine was 17.6 oz) Gnocchi Potato dumplings (you should be able to find these in the pasta section)
1/2 jar of your favorite Alfredo sauce (I like the Walmart brand believe it or not...)
1 C frozen peas
1/2 C Monterrey Jack cheese crumbles

1. Pour water into a large saucepan. Bring to a boil and add chicken bouillon. Stir until dissolved. Add gnocchi and cook in boiling water until they float to the surface (about 2-5 minutes).
2. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
3. Add Alfredo sauce and frozen peas. Continue cooking for another 5 minutes or until the peas are done. Stir occasionally.
4- Remove from pot and place in a serving dish. Sprinkle with cheese crumbles and serve immediately.

Serve with chicken breasts marianated in Italian dressing, and either grilled or pan cooked.