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Monday, January 31, 2011

Hamburger Vegetable Soup

Source- Money Saving Mom

This recipe is from a new blog that I follow.  It is actually a blog about saving money, and I imagine that with the amount of food that this recipe makes you can save money since it makes enough for a meals for a few days. ;)

This is a hearty soup that is full of vegetables and flavor.  H actually said after tasting it that it was a perfect cold weather meal.  And with our weather dipping into singles digits with the wind chill, we certainly qualify for that cold weather! 

I'd advise having some sort of hearty, crusty bread to serve with this.  We didn't have any, and had to settle for cornbread muffins, which were still really good. 

I've changed the directions below since I made this in my slow cooker.  The big pot I have for the stove just wasn't big enough for all this food.  Heck, my slow cooker was filled to the brim as it was.  So be advised to have a BIG stockpot to make this soup!!

  • 2 lbs. ground beef
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 2 cups peeled and diced potatoes
  • 2 cups sliced carrots
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 4 (14.5-oz) cans diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup brown rice, uncooked
  • 6 to 10 cups water (only used 4 cups)
  • 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 Tablespoons salt  (didn't  use nearly this much)
  • pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Brown ground beef and onion together until meat is lightly browned. Drain off excess fat. 
  • Transfer to slow cooker.
  • Add all remaining ingredients and stir.
  • Cover and cook on high for at least 4 hours.
  • Makes 18 to 20 cups of soup. Can be stored in the refrigerator for up to four days.

Next Time- I was happy with this cooking in my slow cooker.  The potatoes and carrots still had a bit of bite to them, but everything had blended together nicely.  Leftover heat up nicely, and there are plenty of them!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Cheddar & Cracker Chicken

Source-Joelen's Culinary Adventures

I've done coated chicken before and I like trying different varieties.  This recipe didn't disappoint.

If you click the link for Joelen's blog you'll see that she called for dipping the chicken in melted butter before the cheese/cracker mixture.  I tried that with the first piece, and it just didn't stick.  So I scraped that and went to the egg, and that worked much better.  The recipe below reflects this change. 

Oopsy, forgot to take a picture.  :(

  • 16 buttery crackers (such as Ritz), crushed (about 3⁄4 cup)
  • 6 ounces sharp Cheddar, grated
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1-2 stalks scallions, thinly sliced
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 4 6-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Heat oven to 350° F. 
  • In a bowl, combine the crackers, cheese, garlic, scallions and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper.
  • Pound the chicken to about 1/4 - 1/2 inch thickeness with a meat mallet. 
  • Pour the beaten egg on a plate.
  • Dip the pounded chicken in the egg, then in the cracker mixture, pressing gently to help it adhere, and place on a foil-lined baking sheet.
  • Sprinkle any leftover cheese/cracker mixture over chicken.
  • Bake until the chicken is golden brown and cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes.
Next Time- With the change I made when making the recipe I'm happy with the way it turned out.  No further changes need to be made.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Spinach Dip Chicken

Stephanie has put out some awesome recipes.  I love when something pops up in my Google Reader from her.  This recipe didn't disappoint.  

  • 2 thin chicken breasts
  • 1/3 cup panko (or bread crumbs)
  • 1/8 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 egg
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup spinach dip (or any variety you have)
  • Heat the oven to 350.
  • In a bowl, beat the egg.
  • On a separate plate combine the panko (or bread crumbs) and garlic powder.
  • Dip the chicken in the egg, then in the breading.
  • Place in a dish that's been sprayed with cooking spray. 
  • Lightly cover coated chicken with cooking spray.
  • Bake for 10 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven, top with the spinach dip. 
  • Return to the oven- bake until chicken is cooked through and the dip is hot. 
Next Time- While this recipe turned out really good, and had good flavor, next time I think I'd like to try it with the Spinach Dip I made at Thanksgiving.  I used store bought this time, but home made would be better.  Or else I would add some mozzarella on top of the spinach and melt that. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Beef & Noodles

Another meal from my grocery store's meal planning tool.  I love meals that get to simmer on the stove or slow cooker so you have time to anticipate the meal!  This meal definitely gives off a great scent, and has awesome flavor. 

  • 1 1/2 cups baby carrots, halved crosswise
  • 1 pkg. extra-wide noodles
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme, crushed
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 lb. boneless beef chuck roast
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • Trim fat from meat.
  • Cut meat into 3/4-inch cubes. 
  • In 5-quart Dutch oven, brown half of meat in hot oil. Remove.
  • Brown remaining meat with onion and garlic.
  • Add more oil, if necessary. Drain fat.
  • Return all meat to pan.
  • Stir in broth, bay leaf, thyme and pepper.
  • Bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat and simmer, covered, 1 to 1 1/4 hours or until meat is tender.
  • Stir in carrots and noodles.
  • Bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat and cook, covered, about 10 minutes or until noodles are tender.
  • Remove and discard bay leaf.
Next Time- This has good flavor.  H thought that it could use more vegetables.  I could add celery, and cut the onion into slices instead of small chunks.  I'm not really sure what other vegetables would be good in this.  But something worth exploring and experimenting with.  

Monday, January 17, 2011

New Additions to Blog

Just a quick note- I've made a couple changes to my blog.  Since I have no idea who follows my blog through Google Reader I wanted to make sure everyone knew about my additions. 

A bit ago I signed up for Twitter.  I've added the application to show my most recent updates in the right column.  Just in case any of you were interested in following me there, my SN is MommyRebel.

I've also added a page detailing the books that I've read for the year.  We're 17 days into the year and I've finished 9 books, and I'm about halfway through #10.  Not a bad start for me. 

Friday, January 14, 2011

11 Things in 2011

Saw this on an author blog I follow.  This is a different concept.  Instead of making a resolution of what I want to change, I'd rather set myself some goals for what I would like to accomplish this year.  

~ Finish my pharmacy technician class with at least a 95% average.  I only need an 80% to pass, but I want to do better than that.

~Save money for Christmas presents by October.  I want to be able to buy for more people this year, so H and I are planning on making a joint effort to save better and be prepared for gift buying ahead of time.

~Be pregnant by the end of the year.  This one may be a long shot though.  We'd like our kids about 2 years apart.  I just have no idea when we feasibly can start TTC for Baby Rebel #2 because of my job situation.  Plus it took us just over a year to conceive Baby Rebel #1, and I'm not going to get my hopes that #2 will be easier.  So we'll play this one by ear.

~Have a job shortly after getting my certification.  I'm very hopeful that with the internship I'll do and the bonus of being a Certified Pharmacy Technician that gaining employment won't be hard. 

~Lose weight by my class reunion.  I lost about 30lbs after having Baby Rebel, but I have gained quite a bit since high school.  So while I'm realistic that I won't be able to reach my high school weight by August, I would like to lose some more and feel better about myself.

~For Baby Rebel to have an awesome checkup with his specialist on February 10th.  He'll have another u/s on his liver to make sure the hemangioma on it is still gone.  I'm very hopeful that that appointment will be the last time we have to visit!

~To help my H find a better job.  He graduated from college in May 2007 and still doesn't have a "career".  He has jobs that pay our bills.  I would really like to help him get into a job that is long term and he loves.

~Get the sisters tattoo with my 2 little sisters.  We've been planning this for awhile, and my littlest sister finally turned 18 this past December!  This is the Celtic symbol for sisterhood that the 3 of us will be getting on our lower ankle area.  Not definitive on the location.

~Do something girly for myself.  Be it getting a mani/pedi, or something else.  Do something without Baby Rebel and H that is just for me. 

~Update my 101 in 1001, and see what I stand with accomplishing that.  My finish date is March 14, 2012, so I still have some time to work on the list. 

~Just enjoy everyday with H and Baby Rebel.  Time is flying and I can't believe that in 8 days I'll have a 7 month old.  So I want to cherish every moment with my 2 guys and make the most of our time as a family of 3.  

Baked Chicken Rigatoni

Source- Meijer Mealbox


  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1/2-inch strips
  • 1 (8-oz.) pkg. sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1 each medium onion, red bell pepper, and green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 (1-lb.) rigatoni pasta
  • 2 cups  milk
  • 2 (8-oz.) tubs light chive-and-onion-flavored cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 (14 1/2-oz.)  can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. 
  • In large skillet cook and stir chicken, mushrooms, onion and bell peppers in hot oil over medium-high heat about 5 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink.
  • Meanwhile, cook rigatoni according to package directions; drain. 
  • In large bowl combine cooked rigatoni and chicken mixture. 
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • In saucepan combine milk, cream cheese and butter. 
  • Cook and stir over medium heat until smooth. 
  • Stir in undrained tomatoes and Parmesan cheese. 
  • Stir into chicken mixture.
  • Transfer to 3-quart rectangular baking dish. 
  • Bake, covered, about 30 minutes or until bubbly. 
  • Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
Next Time- Change nothing.  This has great flavor and leftovers are great. 

Baked Potato Soup

Source- Meijer Mealbox

I don't often make soup, so when I came across this recipe I decided to give it a try.  Am I ever glad I did, this is amazing.


  • 2 tbsp. butter or margarine
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 4  green onions, chopped, divided
  • 4 cups milk
  • 2 cups peeled, diced baking potato
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
  • 4 slices cooked bacon, crumbled

  • Melt butter in Dutch oven over low heat; add flour, stirring until smooth.
  • Cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute until thickened and bubbly. Gradually stir in milk. 
  • Stir in potato, half of green onions, salt and pepper. 
  • Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, 30 minutes or until thickened and potato is done.
  • Stir in 1 cup cheese; cook 5 minutes more. 
  • Serve with remaining cheese, green onions and bacon sprinkled on top of soup.
Next Time-  I wouldn't change anything.  Or perhaps just doubling the recipe so that we have more for leftovers.  This is really good, and goes quick!

Cheeseburger Pasta

Source- Campbell's Kitchen

I'll admit, I make hamburger helper.  When I don't feel like thinking about dinner, they are pretty mindless and easy to throw together.  This meal is so similar to them, and so much better for you.  Awesomeness!! 

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 can (10 3/4 ounces) Condensed Cheddar Cheese Soup
  • 1 can (10 3/4 ounces) Condensed Tomato Soup
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 cups uncooked medium shell-shaped pasta 
  • Cook the beef in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until well browned, stirring often to separate meat. Pour off any fat.
  • Stir the soups, water and pasta in the skillet and heat to a boil. 
  • Reduce the heat to medium. Cook for 10 minutes or until the pasta is tender, stirring often.
Next Time- This meal comes together in a snap and has great flavor.  I'd add onions when I cook the hamburger.

Egg Scramble

Source- My original concoction!

Breakfast for dinner, who doesn't love that?!  H and I don't get to eat breakfast together with his schedule, so big meals like this have to go on our dinner rotation if we ever want to have them.  A nice mixture of great stuff you'd have in an omelet without the added work of making the omelet!  I'll leave the omelets to my mom. 

This makes quite a bit for 2 people, but heating up leftovers isn't a bad thing.  

  • 1/2 pkg sausage links
  • 6 slices bacon
  • 1/2 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 small can mushrooms, chopped
  • 7 eggs, scrambled
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • shredded cheese

  • Heat oven to 375.
  • Place bacon on cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil.  Bake about 5 minutes, or until crispy.  Place on paper towel to absorb excess fat.
  • Cook sausage links in skillet until cooked through.  Drain on paper towel if needed. 
  • Add mushrooms, peppers and onions to a skillet with small amount of butter.
  • Cook until softened.
  • Spray skillet with cooking spray.  Pour eggs into skillet.  Add salt and pepper.
  • Scramble eggs until almost completely cooked.  
  • Cut sausage links into small pieces, and break bacon into small pieces.
  • Add sausage, bacon, mushrooms, peppers and onions to eggs.  
  • Sprinkle shredded cheese, turn heat off, and cover until cheese is melted.
  • Serve!

Next Time- I love making this.  So easy to throw everything together.  I think I'd like to try some tomatoes some time. 

Mexican Layer Dip

I wanted something to have for our company we had after Christmas.  I made this dip for them.  I added a step of heating in the oven.  

  • 1 can of refried beans
  • 1 jar of chunky salsa
  • 2 packs of cream cheese
  • 1 tub of sour cream
  • 1 package of taco seasoning
  • 1 block of sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 block of monterey jack
  • tortilla chips for dipping
  • Spread the refried beans along the bottom of a pan. I use 9x13, but you can use whatever you've got on hand. Spread to the thickness you desire. If you don't like beans, you can always skip them too.
  • Pour salsa over the beans and spread evenly.
  • In separate bowl, mix together the sour cream and cream cheese and taco seasoning. You can add vary the sour cream and cream cheese to get the thickness you desire, and also vary how much taco seasoning you use to vary the spiciness.
  • Spread the mixture on top of the salsa.
  • Shred the cheeses and put on top.
  • Place in 300 degree oven until cheese is melted and bubbly. 
Next Time- I don't think I'll be making this again.  Didn't turn out like I expected and I've had better dips. 

Restaurant-Style Smashed Potatoes

Source- Pioneer Woman

The past few years H and I spend Christmas Day just the 2 of us, so I plan a special meal for just us.  Plans gotten shaken up a bit this year, so we had our special meal on Christmas Eve.  We had sirloin steak with these potatoes.  Amazing!!!

  • 5 whole Large Red Potatoes
  • 1 stick Butter, Softened And Cut Into Pieces
  • 5 slices Bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 2 whole Green Onions, Sliced
  • ¾ cups Sour Cream
  • Salt To Taste (add Plenty!)
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper To Taste (ditto!)
  • ¾ cups French Fried Onions, More For Topping
  • Nuke potatoes or bake in the oven until fork-tender. 
  • Add to a large bowl and smash with a potato masher. 
  • Immediately add softened butter, green onions, bacon, and sour cream and stir with a rubber spatula. 
  • Add salt and pepper to taste. 
  • Add french fried onions and fold in.
  • Serve hot, sprinkling on extra french fried onions and green onions.
 Next Time- Nothing needs to be changed.  These are so good. 

Crockpot Chicken Taco Chili

Not much to say about this recipe.  A great slow cooker meal.

Guess I forgot to take a picture, I can't seem to find it.  :(

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 16-oz can black beans
  • 1 16-oz can kidney beans
  • 1 8-oz can tomato sauce
  • 10 oz package frozen corn kernels
  • 2 14.5-oz cans diced tomatoes w/chilies
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 24 oz. (3) boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • chili peppers, chopped (optional, I omitted)
  • chopped fresh cilantro  (omitted)
  • Combine beans, onion, chili peppers, corn, tomato sauce, cumin, chili powder and taco seasoning in a slow cooker. 
  • Place chicken on top and cover. 
  • Cook on low for 10 hours or on high for 6 hours. Half hour before serving, remove chicken and shred. 
  • Return chicken to slow cooker and stir in. 
  • Top with fresh cilantro. Also try it with low fat cheese and sour cream. 
Next Time- This recipe was really easy to put together and tasted great too.  I liked the cheese and sour cream as toppings.  Definitely will make again. 

Friday, January 7, 2011

Oreo Truffles

Source- Central Cooking, but you can find the recipe everywhere you turn!

I was surprised at myself to find that I didn't blog about these last year when I made them for my family Christmas.  They were such a huge hit.  My mom is a huge baker, and makes enough treats that no one else needs to bring any desserts.  But after how popular they were last year I knew I needed to make them again.  Of course they were huge again.  

Funny Story- I made these at my house so I didn't have to worry about finding the time when we reached my sister's house.  We get 20 minutes on the road and I realized I had left them in the fridge.  So we had to buy the stuff to make them all over again.  Of course once we got home we had a whole tub of truffles to ourselves.  Not a good thing when they are as good as these are.   Also, after my uncle tasted them for the first time he offered to pay the postage to ship him the tub we had left at home.  

  • 1 pkg Oreos
  • 1 8oz pkg cream cheese, softened
  • 1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips, but you can use any kind of chocolate you'd like
  • Sprinkles for topping
  • Crush all the Oreos.  I use my food processor, but you could do it by hand.
  • Cover a cookie sheet with wax paper
  • Mix Oreos with cream cheese until well blended.  I use my stand mixer to make sure it is well mixed.
  • Form into small balls and place on cookie sheet.
  • Refrigerate for 45 minutes.
  • Melt chocolate.  I use a double boiler, but you could use the microwave.
  • Dip truffles into melted chocolate and cover completely.  Place back on cookie sheet.
  • Sprinkle with sprinkles while still wet.  
  • Put back in fridge for a couple hours, or until firm.  
  • Eat!!
Some Notes
-You can set aside some crushed Oreos before mixing with the cream cheese to use as the topping for the truffles.  
-Two forks work best for working to cover the truffles with the melted chocolate. 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A Year in Review

When I got home from our long weekend I found my Google Reader full of everyone doing a review of 2010.  So I thought I'd join the crowd. 

I've decided to highlight events, food, and books from 2010.

We'll start with the food.

Top 10 recipes I made in 2010 (in no particular order)

What did we do this year?  Oh yeah, we had a baby!!  ;)  Time certainly flies after having a baby.  I can't believe our little man is 6 months old!  

He's celebrated his first Christmas and New Year's. 

Other than having the baby, H and I didn't manage to do much this year.  We went to my family reunion over Labor Day Weekend.  I did start school in October, and will finish the beginning of June.  Hopefully 2011 will bring us more adventures and even more fun with our little man!! 

I'm a huge reader.  I managed to finish reading 168 books this past year.  Not quite as good as 2009 (195), but pretty dang good for having a brand new baby for half the year. 

Choosing just 10 may be hard, but I'll do my best! 

Top 10 Books Read in 2010 (in no particular order)

7. Dark Hunter Series by Sherrilyn Kenyon (I've read 1-15 and gave 5 stars to 6 of the books)

I've set a goal of reading 150 books in 2011.  With school finishing in June, and hopefully getting a new job shortly thereafter I have no idea what my reading time will be like.