Do One Thing Every Day That Centers You

I received this journal from my mother-in-law last Christmas. I’ve looked at a few pages here and there, but decided it would be fun to do a blog post about my journey through this journal! It’s very fitting at this time, as I feel that my life was completely overtaken and consumed by motherhood, so I’ve been doing more soul searching recently. I hope you enjoy this blog post, and maybe do some soul searching and self discovery of yourself. 🖤

Day 1:

It starts today. Rediscovering who I am on many different levels, after motherhood completely took over my life, and I lost track of myself, who I am as a person, and what makes myself “tick” so to speak. When will you start?

Day 2:

How many of us use these words on an almost daily basis, but at the end of the day, they are just words?

I can think of many situations where I was asked to do something, and I remember thinking “I would, if..” or “Well, I could, but…”

I could usually come up with an excuse quickly as to why I couldn’t or wouldn’t. So today, instead of saying “I might”, I said “I will”.

DAY 3:

If only I could keep this mindset everyday! 😂 I have had a bad habit of letting my kids’ actions and behaviors dictate my day. I’m working toward changing that. I am the dictator of my own feelings and actions, and whether or not I choose to let my little monsters dictate how I feel.

Let’s be honest. Our days end up as better stories if we choose to make the most of a situation. Whether it’s a flat tire on the way to run errands or a toddler tantrum in the middle of the store, not letting our emotions effect our actions and ruin our day makes for better memories later. 🖤

Today I couldn’t get my computer software to load for work, and after fighting with it for an hour, I decided it wasn’t worth any more of my time. I went outside to play with my kids. We had a great day. Later, after my kids went to bed, I was able to get the software to load without a single problem in minutes.

DAY 4:

Sometimes, we have to learn things the hard way, and sometimes it is by doing it over and over again. I’d love to say I have learned everything by doing it the first time, but that would be a lie.

There are many tasks or virtues I swear I have to relearn on an almost daily basis – patience being one of them. If it’s one thing that will be pounded into me through parenthood, it’s patience! We all have our breaking points, but looking back on my last 5.5 years of being a parent, my breaking points take longer and longer to get to. It’s not by much, but I’m learning through trials everyday.

DAY 5:

Whether I’m on a walk, bike, or jog by myself, with the dog, or the family, I love to take time to stop and smell the flowers.

Literally, there are patches of wildflowers on our lake that smell so good! 😁🌻🌺 I love nature and I’m a big nature girl, but I also see this quote now in a different meaning. Instead of literal flowers, I have stopped during my busy day to day schedule, to take time to appreciate what I have, and where my kids are right now. My babies are growing up so fast, and I can’t take enough time to stop and see them where they are right now. ❤️

DAY 6:

It’s true. As humans, we can be naturally selfish. It takes effort to go the extra mile, but in doing so, you’ve made a difference. You’ve made a difference to someone, whether it be another person or yourself!

It could be going to the gym when you’re just not feeling it, and powering though a workout to get to your goal, taking a meal to a family who just had a baby, or volunteering to be that big brother/sister at your local YMCA, making a huge difference in the life of child.

How did you go that extra mile today?

DAY 7:

Servanthood. Some of the greatest people that walked this Earth, lived a life of serving others. I believe these people, at the end of their lives, were most satisfied with the time they spent in this life.

As a nurse, serving is part of my job. I see some people at their absolute worst, experiencing some of the hardest times in their lives, and if I can be a light for them, that is time and life well spent. ❤️

DAY 8:

DAY 9:

DAY 10:

The Quotes Collection: Volume 1

I may be alone here, but there are times when I like to sit and read through quotes -quotes about all areas of life, quotes about places, events, comparisons, everything. Some of my favorites are listed below. Consider this the first collection -as I will continue to post more that I find and love!

Character:

“The true test of character is not how much we know hot to do, but how we behave when we don’t know what to do.” -John Holt

“The soul would have no rainbow had the eyes no tears.”

“I am always willing to learn; but I do not always like being taught.” -Winston Churchill

“If you treat an individual as he is, he will remain as he is. But if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become what he ought to be and could be.” -Goethe

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” -Helen Keller

“It’s important to be involved and stand up for what you believe in.”

“Strength lies in differences, not in similarities.”

“Without struggle, there can be no progress.” -Fredrick Douglass

“You have to be yourself. Be very honest about who and what you are. And if people still like you, that’s fine. If they don’t, that’s their problem.” -Sting

“I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, it diminishes fear.” -Rosa Parks

“A strong woman loves, forgives, walks away, lets go, tries again, perseveres…no matter what life throws at her.”

“Sometimes you have to sink down further than you’ve ever been to rise up higher than you’ve ever gone.”

Lived Life:

“You will find as you look back upon your life, that the moments when you have truly lived, are the moments when you have done things in the spirit of love.” -Henry Drummond

“You can complain because roses have thorns, or you can rejoice because thorns have roses.” -Ziggy

“I never think of the future. It comes soon enough.” -Albert Einstein

“Your future depends on many things, mostly yourself.” -Frank Tyger

“In three words, I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: It Goes On.” -Robert Frost

“I’m not afraid of storms; I’m learning how to sail my ship.” -Helen Keller

“Your temper is the only thing you can’t get rid of by losing it.” -unknown

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely, and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your own nonsense.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

“No man knows how bad he really is until he tries to be good.” -CS Lewis

Life Lessons:

“Love can sometimes be magic. But magic can sometimes be..just an illusion.” -Javan

“I wish they would only take me as I am.” -Vincent van Gogh

“Wisdom is nothing more than healed pain.”

“Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them at least don’t hurt them.” -Dalai Llama

“Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something.” -Plato

“Life consists not in holding good cards, but in playing those you hold well.” -Josh Billings

“Maturity begins to grow when you can sense your concern for others outweighing your concern for yourself.”

“I shall pass through this life but once. Any good therefore, that I can do, or any kindness I can show, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it. For I shall never pass this way again.” -Etienne de Grellet

“Make yourself a blessing to someone. Your kind smile or pat on the back just might pull someone back from the edge.” -Carmelia Elliot

“One kind word can warm 3 winter months.” -Japanese Proverb

“Other people may be there to help us, teach us, guide us along our path. But the lesson to be learned is always ours.” -Melody Beattie

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” -Mahatma Gandhi

“When we worry, we are taking God’s promises in vein.”

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” -Elenor Roosevelt

“Some people believe that holding on and hanging in there are signs of strength. However, there are times in life in which it takes much more strength to just let go.”

“Life is mostly froth and bubble; two things stand like stone. Kindness in another trouble. Courage in your own.” -Adam Lindsay Gordon

“Every experience, no matter how bad it seems, holds within it a blessing of some kind. The goal is to find it.” -Buddha

Legacy/Do for Others:

“What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal.” -Albert Pine

“The great use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.” -William James

“Live your life from your heart. Share from your heart, and your story will touch and heal people’s souls.” -Melody Beattie

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” -Mahatma Gandhi

“One kind word can warm 3 winter months.” -Japanese Proverb

Women: Hear Us Roar

“There is no force more powerful than a woman determined to rise.”

“Little girls with dreams become women with vision.”

“Wild women are an unexplainable spark in life. They ooze freedom and seek awareness, they belong to nobody but themselves yet give a piece of who they are to everyone they meet. If you have met one, hold on to her, she will allow you into her chaos but she will also show you her magic.” Nikki Rowe

“There’s something about a woman with a loud mind that sits in silence, smiling knowing she can crush you with the truth.” -r.g.moon

“It is hard to be a woman. You must thinking a man, act like a lady, look like a young girl, and work like a horse.”

Goals:

“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.” Hannah Moore

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you too can become great.” -Mark Twain

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined.” -Thoreau

“Some days, she has no idea how she’ll do it. But every single day, it still gets done.”

Love:

“Darkness cannot drive our darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” -MLK Jr.

“Love is a fruit in season at all times, and within reach of every hand.” -Mother Theresa

“Hugs can do a great amount of good- especially for children.” -Princess Di

Friendship:

“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it’s only by this meeting that a new world is born.” -Anais Nin

“True friendship multiplies the good in life and divides its evils. Strive to have friends for life without friends is like life on a desert island…to find one real friend in a lifetime is good fortune; to keep him is a blessing.” -Baltasar Gracian

Encouragement

“These people will try to manipulate you, try to bring you down, but remember baby girl, you are a queen. Own you crown.”

“It’s ok to reinvent yourself as many times as it takes to live out your most authentic self.” -Nikki Rowe

Recipes for the Family: Week 45

Fall Inspired Recipes- The kids loved all of these fun recipes!

Caramel Apple Cinnamon Roll Cake

Apple Filling:

  • 2 large baking apples, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. cinnamon

Dough

  • 2 and 1/2 cups self-rising flour
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 5 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted, divided
  • 1 cup cultured whole milk buttermilk

Cinnamon-Sugar Filling

  • 1/3 cup sugar and 2 Tbsp. cinnamon, mixed

Vanilla Glaze

  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

>Preheat oven to 350°F; grease a pie dish or 9-inch round cake pan. Set aside. 

>For the apple filling, cook apple slices, butter, sugar and cinnamon in a large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until for-tender. Set aside.

>To make the dough, in a large bowl whisk together self-rising flour and sugar. In a separate bowl, mix 2 tablespoons melted butter and buttermilk together. With a rubber spatula, stir the milk mixture into the flour mixture until dough forms. Transfer dough to a clean, well-floured work surface. Knead until smooth, sprinkling on more flour as needed. Do not over knead or the cake will be tough. Use a floured rolling pin to roll the dough into a 12 X 16-inch rectangle, about 1/4 inch thick. Brush on 2 tablespoons melted butter, followed by cinnamon-sugar filling. 

>With the long side facing you, cut 1 and 1/2 inch strips of dough. Loosely roll up one strip and place it in the center of the prepared pan (like a standard cinnamon roll). Line the apples around the edges of the dough, then coil another dough strip around the apples. Continue the pattern of dough, then apple slices, until pan is filled. 

>Pour the leftover liquid from cooking the apples over the formed cake. Pour remaining tablespoon of melted butter over the cake. Bake 40-45 minutes, or until evenly browned and toothpick comes out clean. To make glaze, in a medium mixing bowl, whisk together confectioners’ sugar, milk and vanilla. Drizzle with glaze, slice and serve immediately, refrigerating any leftovers- but I bet you won’t have any! Takes about 1.5 hours to make, serves 8. 

 

Stuffed Jack-Ó-Lantern Peppers

These peppers were so fun to make! Hands on time about 10 minutes, cook time 45 minutes. This recipe makes 4 stuffed peppers, so double the recipe for bigger families!

  • 4 orange bell peppers
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper, for seasoning
  • 2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken (safe internal temp of 165°F)
  • 1 pkg. (8.5 oz.) cooked white or brown rice
  • 1 and 1/2 cups prepared mild or medium salsa
  • 6 oz. smoked mozzarella cheese, diced
  • 1/4 cup planko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

>Preheat oven to 425°F. Cut tops off bell peppers; remove seeds. Use a small paring knife to cut a jack-ó-lantern face in peppers. Rub insides with olive oil; season well with salt and pepper. In a bowl, combine chicken, rice, salsa and mozzarella cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon filling into prepared peppers. Top with breadcrumbs and Parmesan. Place a baking dish; add water to cover the bottom of the dish by about a 1/2 inch. Cover with foil sprayed with cooking spray. Bake about 40 minutes, until peppers are tender and filling is hot. Serve, refrigerating any leftovers.

 

Apple and Cheddar Kale Salad

  • 5 cups (loosely packed) baby kale
  • 2 small Honeycrisp apples, cored and thinly sliced
  • 2 oz. sharp Cheddar, diced into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1/3 cup toasted pecans

Dressing

  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

>Combine baby kale, apple slices, Cheddar cheese and pecans in a large bowl. For dressing, combine shallot, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, honey and olive oil in a small bowl; whisk until well combined. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Pour dressing over salad and toss gently to combine. Serve immediately, refrigerating any leftovers. Takes about 15 minutes to make.

 

Pumpkin Pie Pancakes

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 + 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 Tbsp. melted butter, plus more for greasing griddle
  • 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • Butter, maple syrup and chopped pecans, for serving

>In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, allspice, cinnamon, ginger and salt. In another mixing bowl, whisk together milk, pumpkin puree, egg, butter and apple cider vinegar. Pour wet mixture into dry ingredients and stir until just combined. 

>Preheat griddle to medium-high and grease with butter. Scoop batter onto riddle, and cook until tops of pancakes begin to bubble and underside is golden brown, 3-5 minutes. Flip, and cook until brown on the other side, another 3 minutes. Serve immediately with butter, syrup and pecans, refrigerating any leftovers. Makes 6 servings. 

 

Sweet Potato and Pecan Casserole

  • 3 Tbsp. canola oil, divided, plus more for greasing the baking dish
  • 3 cups mashed sweet potatoes
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup (packed) brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

>Preheat oven to 350°F. Brush 8-inch square baking dish with canola oil. In mixing bowl, combine sweet potatoes, eggs, sugar, half-and-half, vanilla, salt and 1 tablespoon oil. Mix well and spoon into the prepared baking dish.

>To make the topping, mix flour, brown sugar, pecans and 2 tablespoons oil in bowl until well combined. Sprinkle evenly over the sweet potato mixture. Bake until hot and topping begins to brown, 30-40 minutes. Serve, refrigerating any leftovers. Total time 55 minutes, makes 6 servings. 

 

Creamy Corn and Cheddar Bake

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 8 ox. (1 cup) grated Sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1 can (15.25 oz.) yellow corn, drained
  • 1 can (14.75 oz.) creamed corn
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. chopped, fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 Tbsp. thinly sliced, fresh chives

>Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 2-quart baking dish with cooking spray. In a large bowl, beat eggs to break them up. Beat in sour cream until smooth, then add cheese, corn, salt, black pepper, thyme and chives, and fold until combined. Scrape into prepared baking dish and bake until edges are browned and center is set but still slightly jiggly, 45-60 minutes. Cool on rack 5 minutes before serving. Refrigerate any leftovers. Makes about 8 servings. 

 

Pumpkin Dessert Hummus

  • 1 can (15 oz.) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (15 oz.) 100% pure pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup sunflower butter
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tsp. EACH of cinnamon and nutmeg, plus more cinnamon for garnish
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Raw pumpkin seeds, toasted
  • Cinnamon-sugar pita chips

>In food processor or blender, combine chickpeas, pumpkin and sunflower butter. Slowly add in maple syrup followed by cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla; blend until smooth. Transfer to bowl and garnish with a sprinkle of cinnamon and pumpkin seeds. Serve alongside cinnamon-sugar pita chips, refrigerating any leftovers. Serves 8. 

 

Caramel Thumbprint Cookies

  • 1/2 cup butter or 1 stick, softened
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • granulated sugar
  • 10 caramel candies, unwrapped
  • 2 Tbsp. milk
  • powdered sugar

>Preheat oven to 350°F. Line cookie sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Cut butter into small pieces. Combine butter and brown sugar in a food processor; process until creamy. Add egg yolk and vanilla; process until combined. Add salt and flour to processor; process until soft dough forms. (The dough will be crumbly and will resemble shortbread dough. If necessary, scrape down the flour from the sides of the processor bowl.) 

>Place a small amount of granulated sugar in a bowl. Using a scoop, drop 18 level scoops of dough onto the baking sheet. Press back of scoop into center of dough to make wells, dipping back of scoop in sugar to prevent sticking. Bake 9-11 minutes or until edges begin to brown. Meanwhile, combine caramels and milk in a small bowl. Microwave, uncovered, on high 60-90 seconds or until caramel is melted and smooth, stirring every 30 seconds. Remove cookie sheet from oven. Transfer cookies to a cooling rack. Spoon caramel into wells of cookies; let stand 3 minutes. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Makes about 18 cookies. 

 

 

Recipes For The Family: Week 44

CRANBERRY PORK CHOPS

  • 1 can (14 oz.) jellied cranberry sauce
  • 1/2 cup cranberry or apple juice
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. spicy brown mustard
  • 6 bone-in pork loin chops (8 oz. each)
  • 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Dash of pepper

>Whisk first four ingredients. Place chops in a 3-qt. slow cooker; top with cranberry mixture. Cook, covered, on low until meat is tender, 7-8 hours. Remove chops; keep warm. Transfer cooking juices to a small saucepan. Mix cornstarch and water until smooth; stir into cooking juices. Bring to a boil; cook and stir until thickened, 1-2 minutes. Stir in salt and pepper. Serve with chops. Makes 6 servings.

 

WHITE BEAN CHICKEN CHILI

Tip: when cutting and chopping jalapeno peppers, wear gloves to avoid burning your skin.

  • ¾ lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • ¼ tsp. each salt and pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 cans (15 oz. each) white kidney or cannellini beans, rinsed and drained, divided
  • 2½ cups chicken broth, divided
  • 1½ cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • Avocado, cherry tomatoes, and cilantro as optional toppings

>Toss chicken with salt and pepper. In a skillet, saute chicken in 1 Tbsp. oil until browned. Transfer to a 3-qt. slow cooker. In the same skillet, saute onion in remaining oil. Add jalapeno, garlic, oregano and cumin; cook and stir 2 minutes. Add to slow cooker.

>In a bowl, mash 1 cup of the beans; stir in 1/2 cup broth. Stir bean mixture and the remaining whole beans and broth into chicken mixture. Cook, covered, on low until chicken is tender, 3-3½ hours. Stir before serving. Serve with cheese and, if desired, additional toppings. Makes 6 servings.

>FREEZE OPTION: Freeze cooled chili in freezer containers. To eat, thaw in fridge overnight. Heat in a saucepan; add a little broth or water if needed.

 

SLOW COOKER TURKEY BREAST WITH GRAVY

  • 2 tsp. dried parsley flakes
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. poultry seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp. each paprika and pepper
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 3 celery ribs, coarsely chopped
  • 1 bone-in turkey breast (6-7lbs.), skin removed
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup water

>Mix first five ingredients in a small bowl. Place vegetables in a 6- or 7-qt. slow cooker; top with turkey. Rub turkey with seasoning mixture. Cook, covered, on low until turkey is at least 170°F, 5-6 hours. Remove; let stand, covered, 15 minutes.

>Strain cooking juices into a small saucepan. Mix flour and water until smooth; stir into cooking juices. Bring to a boil; cook and stir until thickened, 1-2 minutes. Serve with sliced turkey. Makes 12 servings.

 

SPICE-BRAISED POT ROAST

  • 1 boneless beef chuck roast (2½ lbs.)
  • 1 can (14½ oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp. tomato puree
  • 1 Tbsp. poppy seeds
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2¼ tsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. each salt, ground ginger, lemon juice, and dried rosemary, crushed
  • 1/4 tsp. each ground cumin, turmeric, and crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
  • Hot cooked egg noodles

>Place the roast in a 5-qt. slow cooker. Mix all remaining ingredients except noodles; add to roast. Cook, covered, on low until tender, 7-9 hours. Discard bay leaf. Skim fat; thicken juices. Serve roast with noodles and gravy. Makes 8 servings.

 

ITALIAN SPAGHETTI SQUASH

  • 1- 3lb. Spaghetti Squash
  • 1 can (15 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

>Halve the spaghetti squash lengthwise; discard seeds. Fill halves with diced tomatoes and mushrooms; sprinkle with salt, oregano, and pepper. Place in a oval 6- or 7- qt. slow cooker, tilting one slightly. Cook, covered, on low until tender, 6-8 hours. Top with mozzarella cheese. Cook, covered on low until cheese is melted, 10-15 minutes. To serve, halve each half. Serves 4.

 

SLOW COOKER CHEDDAR SPIRALS

  • 1 pkg. (16oz.) spiral pasta
  • 2 cups half & half cream
  • 1 can (10 oz.) condensed cheddar cheese soup, undiluted
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 4 cups (16 oz.) shredded cheddar cheese

>Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. In a 5-qt slow cooker, combine the cream, soup, and butter until smooth; stir in the cheese and pasta. Cover and cook on low for 2 and 1/2 hours or until cheese is melted. Makes 12-15 servings. Total time 20 minutes.

 

SLOW COOKER BACON-MUSHROOM DRESSING

This is a great improvement to the normal chicken or turkey stuffing for Thanksgiving!

  • 4 bacon strips, chopped
  • 4 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 celery ribs, chopped
  • 1 pkg. (14 oz.) seasoned stuffing cubes
  • 1 pkg. (6 oz.) corn bread stuffing mix
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1½ to 2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth, divided

>Crisp bacon in a skillet over medium heat, stirring often. Remove with a slotted spoon to paper towels, reserving 1 Tbsp. pan drippings. Add mushrooms, onion, and celery to the pan; cook and stir over medium-high heat 5-6 minutes or until tender.

>Combine stuffing cubes, stuffing mix, bacon, and mushroom mixture in a bowl. In another bowl, whisk eggs and 1½ cups broth; stir into stuffing mixture, adding extra broth to reach desired moistness. Transfer to a greased 6-qt. slow cooker. Cook, covered, on low 3-3½ hours or until heated through, stirring once. Makes 16 servings.

 

SLOW COOKER CHICKEN STUFFING

  • 1 whole chicken, cooked, boned, and chopped
  • 1 (6 oz.) pkg. corn bread stuffing mix
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 (10 oz.) can cream of chicken soup
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. poultry seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. butter, cut into small pieces

>Combine chicken, stuffing mix, onion, celery, eggs, soup, broth and seasonings gently together in a large bowl. Grease 4 qt. slow cooker. Transfer mixture into slow cooker. Top with butter bits. Cook, covered, on high for 3 hours. Do not remove lid during cooking time. Makes 10 servings.

 

CROCKPOT 3-CHEESE BROCCOLI SOUP

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 12 oz. evaporated milk
  • 32 oz. chicken broth
  • 10-16 oz. frozen chopped broccoli, thawed
  • 8-16 oz. Velveeta, cubed
  • 1½ cup shredded sharp cheddar
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

>In saucepan, melt butter and cook onions. Add salt, pepper. Stir in flour and cook 1 minute. Add evaporated milk. Pour into greased crock pot. Stir in broth and broccoli. Cover and cook 4-4½ hours. Add Velveeta cheese, stir until melted. Add cheddar and Parmesan, stir until melted.

 

SALTED CARAMEL APPLE CAKE

APPLES

  • 3 apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 8 wedges
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt

CAKE

  • 8 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup half-and-half

>Preheat oven to 350°F. Line bottom of 10-inch round cake pan with parchment paper and coat with nonstick cooking spray. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook apples, 4  tbsp. butter, brown sugar and salt until apples begin to soften, about 10 minutes. Transfer apples and sauce to cake pan, arranging apple slices in desired pattern.

>In a bowl of stand mixer, mix 8 tbsp. butter and sugar until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla; mix until smooth. Add flour, baking powder, salt and half-and-half; mix until combined. Spread batter evenly over apples and bake 40-45 minutes. Cool slightly before inverting onto serving dish. Refrigerate any leftovers. Total cook time: an hour and 10 minutes. Serves 8.

 

Halloween Fun Crafts 2018

Goulish Glasses -Three Ways

-Empty glass jars of all shapes and sizes can make some of the best materials for fun Halloween crafts! Make jack-ó-lanterns, bandage-wrapped mummies, and candy-corn -all with jars and a few other materials.

Jack-Ó-Lantern Jars

Supplies:

  • Orange and green craft paint
  • Assorted clean glass jars and lids
  • Scissors
  • Black electrical or duct tape, or black constructions paper and adhesive of choice
  • Hammer and nail (optional, for stem)*
  • Paintbrush
  • Green pipe cleaner (optional, for stem)
  • Pencil

>Pour a generous amount of orange paint inside the jar and twist and turn until well coated. Pour out excess pain and place upside down on a well-protected surface to dry.

>Cut pumpkin face shapes out of the black tape or paper and adhere to the outside of the jar.

>For the stem, use a hammer and nail to make a hole int he top of the lid (make sure to work over a safe surface, like a piece of scrap wood). Cover the lid with green craft paint and allow to dry. Wrap a green pipe cleaner around a pencil several times to crate a spiral’ remove and carefully thread the end through the hole in the lid. Attach lid to jar.

Mummy Jars

Supplies:

  • White gauze bandages or white medical tape
  • Assorted clean glass jars and lids
  • Tape or glue
  • Scissors
  • Googly eyes
  • Flameless LED tea lights

>Attach the end of a roll of bandage to the jar with glue or tape, then wind it around the glass in a random pattern, cutting the gauze and attaching the end once the jar is completely covered. Glue on googly eyes and display in groups lit up with flameless LED tea lights.

Candy Corn Jars

Supplies:

  • Epsom salt
  • Medium to large plastic zip-top bags
  • Orange and yellow food coloring
  • Assorted clean glass jars and lids

>Add the desired amount of salt to a plastic zip-top bag, using one bag for orange and one for yellow.

>Add several drops of food coloring to each bag and seal well. Squish the bags to mix the color into the salt. When the color is fully incorporated, open the bags and allow the salt to dry.

>Pour alternating layers of salt- yellow, orange, and white- into the jar until full and close with lid.

 

Halloween Decor with Recyclables!

These crafts are fun decor to make from items out of your recycling bin!

Egg Carton Bats

Supplies:

  • Scissors, utility knife, or paring knife
  • Cardboard or styrofoam egg carton
  • Black craft paint and paintbrush
  • Pen or pencil
  • Black construction paper
  • Glue or tape (black electrical tape worked really well)
  • Googly eyes
  • White paper
  • String

>Carefully cut apart the egg carton to separate individual “cups.” Working on a covered surface, paint the inside and outside of the cup with black craft paint (you may need 2 coats). Allow to dry completely. In the meantime, use template to trace a bat wing onto black construction paper with a point at one end and a slightly wider area on the other end that can be folded back about 1/4 inch to adhere to the body. Then, stack 2 pieces and cut out identical wings. Attach wings to the egg carton body (black electrical tape works especially well). Attach 2 eyes to the front, and cut small triangles of white paper to attach as fangs inside the cup. To hang, poke a small hole in the top of the bat and cut string to desired length.

 

Milk Jug Luminaries

Supplies:

  • Plastic gallon milk jug
  • Scissors, utility knife or paring knife
  • Black permanent marker or black craft paint and paintbrush
  • Sand (optional)
  • Small, flameless LED candles, large glow sticks, or battery-operated string lights for light source options

>If possible, remove any labels and rinse your milk jug well and allow to dry. On the least desirable side of the container, cut an opening large enough to place your hand and light source inside. On the opposite side, use a marker or paint to create a spooky or silly face. If the luminary will be used outside, add some sand to the bottom of the jug for stability. Finally, place your chosen light source inside and enjoy the glow. The luminaries are especially fun when displayed in multiples or lining a walkway or steps.

 

Recipes for the Family: Week 42

Fun Halloween and Fall Treats!!!

 

Acorn Treats

  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 48 milk chocolate kisses
  • 48 Nutter Butter Bites

> In a microwave, melt chocolate chips; stir until smooth. Spread the flat side of each kiss with a small amount of melted chocolate; immediately attach each to a cookie. Cut a small hole in the corner of a pastry or plastic bag; insert a small round tip. Fill with remaining melted chocolate. Pipe a stem onto each acorn. Place on waxed paper-lined baking sheets; refrigerate until set. Store in an airtight container.

 

So Easy It’s Spooky Bat Cake

  • 1 regular size devil’s food cake mix

Frosting

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup baking cocoa, sifted
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 6 to 7 Tbsp. 2% milk
  • 10 peanut butter cups, finely chopped
  • Dutch-processed cocoa or confectioners’ sugar

>Prepare and bake cake mix according to package directions, using two 9-inch round baking pans. Cool as package directs. For bat stencil, cut a bat shape from card stock. Wrap it with foil. For frosting, in a large bowl, beat butter, baking cocoa and vanilla until blended. Gradually beat in confectioners; sugar and enough milk to reach desired consistency.

>Using a long serrated knife, trim tops of cakes if domed. Place one cake layer on a serving plate. Spread with 1 cup frosting; sprinkle with chopped candies. Top with other cake layer, bottom side up. Frost with remaining frosting. Refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes. Lay stencil on top of cake. Using a fine-mesh strainer, sift Dutch-processed cocoa over frosting. Life=t stencil carefully to remove.

 

Magic Potion Punch

  • 2 packages (3 ounces each) lime gelatin
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 3 cups cold water
  • 1 quart non-carbonated lemon-lime drink, chilled
  • 1-1/2 quarts lemon-lime soda, chilled

> Dissolve gelatin and sugar in boiling water; add cold water. Transfer to a punch bowl. Stir in lemon-lime drink and soda. Makes about 4 quarts.

 

Ultimate Oreo Caramel Apples

  • 6 wooden popsicle sticks
  • 6 small Gala apples
  • 1 pkg. (14 oz.) caramels
  • 2 Tbsp. 2% milk
  • 20 Oreo cookies, coarsely crushed
  • 1 pkg. (10 oz.) dark chocolate chips
  • 2 Tbsp. shortening

>Insert popsicle sticks into tops of apples. Place caramels and milk in a small saucepan; heat and stir over medium-low heat 3-5 minutes or until smooth, stirring frequently. Dip apples in caramel mixture, coating completely. Place on a waxed paper-lined baking sheet; let stand until set, about 10 minutes. Place crushed cookies in a shallow bowl. In top of a double boiler or a metal bowl over hot water, melt chocolate chips and shortening; stir until smooth. Dip apples in chocolate mixture; let excess drip of. Roll apples through cookie crumbs. Return to baking sheet; refrigerate until set, about 15 minutes. Cut into wedges; serve.

 

Spiced Chocolate Truffles

  • 12 oz. milk chocolate baking bars, divided
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 Tbsp. canned pumpkin
  • 1/4 tsp. each ground cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg
  • Ground cloves
  • Baking cocoa
  • Candy eyeballs, optional

>Finely chop 10 oz. chocolate; place in a small bowl. In a small heavy saucepan, combine cream, pumpkin and spices; heat just to a boil. Pour over chocolate; let stand 5 minutes. Whisk until smooth; cool slightly. Refrigerate, covered, at least 4 hours.

>Finely grate remaining chocolate; place in a microwave-safe bowl. With hands dusted lightly with baking cocoa, shape chocolate mixture into 1 inch balls; roll in grated chocolate. (Mixture will be soft.) For eyeballs, if desired, melt unused grated chocolate in a microwave. Use melted chocolate to attach eyeballs to truffles. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  Makes about 2 dozen.

 

Dark Chocolate Pudding

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 dark chocolate candy bar (6.8 oz.), melted
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Optional toppings: Peeps ghosts and candy pumpkins

>In a large saucepan, mix sugar, cornstarch and salt. Whisk in milk until smooth. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Reduce heat to low; cook and stir 2 minutes more. Remove from heat. In a small bowl, whisk a small amount of hot mixture into egg yolks; return all to pan, whisking constantly. Bring to a gentle boil; cook and stir 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Slowly stir in melted chocolate and vanilla until blended. Cool 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a bowl; press plastic wrap onto surface of pudding. Refrigerate until cold. Serve with toppings as desired. Makes 6.

 

Spiced Chai Buttercream Sandwich Cookies

Spice Cookies

  • 1 spice or pumpkin cake mix
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup water

Chai Buttercream

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1-2 Tbsp. milk
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

Chai Spice Blend

  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. each cinnamon and cardamom
  • pinch each of clove, nutmeg, and white pepper (omit pepper for less spicy flavor)

>Preheat oven to 350°F; line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the cookie ingredients until the dough comes together. Using a cookie scoop or two spoons, drop 26-28 cookies, 2 inches apart. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until cookies are set and bottoms are slightly golden. Allow to cool.

>To make the buttercream, beat the butter with an electric hand or stand mixer until fluffy. Add the confectioner; sugar, milk and vanilla. Beat until smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. In a small bowl, blend Chai spices. Beat into buttercream until incorporated. Pair up the cookies, sandwiching buttercream between them. Store leftovers in an airtight container.

 

The Boo Beverage

  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 pints orange sherbet
  • 4 medium ripe bananas
  • 2 cups whipped topping
  • 18 miniature semisweet chocolate chips

>In four batches, process the orange juice, milk, sherbet and bananas in a blender until smooth. Pour into glasses. Cut a hole in the corner of a pastry or plastic bag; fill with whipped topping. Pipe a ghost shape on top of each beverage. Position chocolate chips for eyes. Makes about 9 servings.

 

Recipes for the Family: Week 40

PUMPKIN!!!! Who loves pumpkin everything?!?!? We love pumpkin in this house! Here are some recipes that we have made from different cookbooks that are very delicious!

Pumpkin Seed Baked Chicken

  • 1/2 cup finely crushed cheese crackers (about 1 cup whole)
  • 2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 2/3 cup salted pumpkin seeds or pepitas, divided
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 Tbsp. honey
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (6 oz. each)

>Preheat oven to 350°F. Place first five ingredients and 3 Tbsp. of the pumpkin seeds in a shallow bowl. Finely chop remaining pumpkin seeds; stir into cracker mixture. In another shallow bowl, whisk together egg, honey and lemon juice. Dip both sides of chicken in egg mixture, then in crumb mixture, patting to adhere. Bake on a greased baking sheet until a thermometer reads 165°F, 30-35 minutes. Makes 4 servings.

Sausage Mac and Cheese in a Pumpkin

PUMPKIN:

  • 1 large pie pumpkin (5-6 lbs.)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper

MAC & CHEESE

  • 8 ox. uncooked cavatappi or fusilli pasta (about 3 cups)
  • 1/2 lb. bulk mild or hot Italian sausage
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 and 1/2 cups half-and-half cream
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 6 slices process American cheese (about 4 oz.), quartered
  • 3/4 cup shredded Manchego cheese
  • 3/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 3 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup chopped roasted sweet red pepper

> For pumpkin: preheat oven to 350°F. Wash pumpkin. Cut a 5 inch circle around the stem; remove top and set aside. Remove pumpkin seeds and strings; discard seeds or save for roasting (we love roasted pumpkin seeds!). Sprinkle inside of pumpkin with salt and pepper; replace top. Place on a wire rack in a baking pan. Bake for 1 hour or until tender. Remove top; let pumpkin stand on wire rack until ready to serve.

>For macaroni and cheese: In a large saucepan, cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook sausage and onion over medium heat 4-6 minutes or until sausage is no longer pink, crumbling sausage; drain. Drain pasta, reserving 1/3 cup pasta water. In same saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in flour until smooth; gradually whisk in cream and stock. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly; cook and stir 2-3 minutes or until thickened. Stir in cheeses until blended.

>Add spinach, roasted pepper, pasta and sausage mixture; toss to combine, adding reserved pasta water to moisten if desired. Spoon macaroni and cheese mixture into prepared pumpkin. Serve immediately. Total time is about 1.5 hours and makes 8 servings.

 

Gingerbread and Pumpkin Cream Trifle

  • 1 pkg. (14 1/2 oz.) gingerbread cake/cookie mix
  • 1 pkg. (3 oz.) cook-and-serve vanilla pudding mix
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 and 2/3 cups canned pumpkin pie mix
  • 1 carton (8 oz.) frozen whipped topping; thawed
  • caramel sundae syrup and toasted pecan halves, optional

>Bake gingerbread cake according to package directions; cool on a wire rack. Cut cake into 3/4-in. pieces. Prepare pudding mix according to package directions; stir in brown sugar and pumpkin pie mix. Transfer to a bowl; refrigerate 30 minutes.

>Layer half the cake, half the pumpkin mixture and half the whipped topping into ten 12-oz. glasses or a 3-qt. trifle bowl. Repeat layers. Refrigerate, covered, 4 hours or overnight. Serve with toppings as desired. Makes 10 servings.

 

Pumpkin Delight Magic Bars

  • 1 pkg. (11 oz.) vanilla wafers
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 3 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 can (15 oz.) solid-pack pumpkin
  • 1 and 1/2 cups flaked coconut
  • 1 cup white baking chips
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

>Preheat oven to 350°F. Place wafers in a food processor; pulse until coarse crumbs form. Drizzle with melted butter; pulse until blended. Press into bottom of a greased 13X9-in. baking pan. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, milk and pie spice until smooth; beat in pumpkin. Pour over crust. Layer with coconut, baking chips, cranberries and pecans.

>Bake 45-55 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 minutes. Loosen sides from pan with a knife; cool completely. Cut into bars. Refrigerate leftovers. Makes 2 dozen bars.

 

Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes with Whipped Cream

  • 1 sheet refrigerated pie pastry
  • 1 can (15 oz.) solid-pack pumpkin
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • ground cinnamon

>Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 24 muffin cups with foil liners. Unroll pastry sheet. Cut 24 circles with a floured 2¼-in. round cookie cutter, re-rolling scraps as necessary; press into liners. Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden. Cool on wire racks.

>In a bowl, beat pumpkin, eggs, oil, water and vanilla. In another bowl, whisk flour, sugar, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, pie spice and salt; gradually beat into pumpkin mixture. Pour 1/4 cup batter into each prepared cup. Bake 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, rotating pans halfway. Cool for 10 minutes, remove to wire racks.

>In a bowl, beat cream until it begins to thicken. Add confectioners’ sugar; beat until soft peaks form. Dollop over cupcakes; sprinkle with cinnamon. Makes 2 dozen cupcakes.

 

Pumpkin Dump Cake

  • 1 can (29 oz.) pumpkin
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 can (13-oz.) evaporated milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 tsp. pumpkin pie spices
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped
  • 3/4 cup butter, melted

>Combine pumpkin, sugar, evaporated milk, eggs, pumpkin pie spices and salt in mixing bowl. Beat well. Pour into greased and floured 9 X 13 inch glass pan. Sprinkle cake mix over pumpkin mixture, then sprinkle on the pecans. Pour melted butter over all. Bake at 350°F for 50-60 minutes until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Watch closely towards the end because it can burn easily. Serves 12-15 people.

 

Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake

  • 2 cups vanilla wafer crumbs
  • 2 pkg. (8 oz.) light Philadelphia Brand Neufchatel Cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup Parkay margarine, melted
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup canned pupkin
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

>Combine vanilla wafer crumbs and margarine. Press into the bottom and sides of a 9 inch springform pan. Combine Neufchatel cheese, 1/2 cup sugar and vanilla, mixing at medium speed on the electric mixer until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Reserve 1 cup Neufchatel cheese mixture; add pumpkin, remaining sugar and spices to remaining Neufchatel cheese mixture. Mix well and then layer half of the pumpkin mixture over crust. Repeat layers. Cut through batter with knife several times for marble effect. Bake at 350°F for 35 minutes. Loosen cake from rim of pan. Cool before removing rim of pan. Chill. Makes 10-12 servings.

 

Double-Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake

  • 1½ cups crushed gingersnap cookies
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted

Cheesecake Layer

  • 1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Pumpkin Layer

  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 and 1/3 cups canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • whipped cream and pecans, optional

>Preheat oven to 325°F. Grind first four ingredients in a food processor. Add butter; blend. Press onto bottom and sides of an ungreased 9-inch deep dish pie plate. Chill. Beat all cheesecake ingredients. For pumpkin layer, whisk eggs, pumpkin, sugar, pumpkin pie spice and salt; gradually whisk in cream. Spread cheesecake mixture onto bottom of crust; top with pumpkin mixture. Bake on a lower oven rack until filling is set, 55-65 minutes. Cool at least 1 hour on a wire rack serve or refrigerate withing 2 hours. Top as desired.  **For squares instead of pie, press crumb mixture onto bottom of an ungreased 8-inch square baking pan. Then follow remaining steps. Cut into squares.** Serves 10.

 

Recipes for the Family: Week 38

Apple inspired recipes this week! Who has been apple picking this year? We went this weekend and now have lots of apples to make yummy dishes with! What are some of your favorite apples and apple recipes? I hope you enjoy these! We love the spiced apple cider! We also enjoy using apple wine from The Round Barn winery with spices to make a yummy adult beverage!

Autumn Apple Chicken

  • 1 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 4 bone-in chicken thighs (about 1 and 1/2 lbs.), skin removed
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 2 medium Gala apples, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/3 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1/4 cup apple cider or juice
  • 1 Tbsp. honey

>In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Brown chicken thighs on both sides; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Transfer to a 3-qt. slow cooker; top with apples. Add onion to same skillet; cook and stir over medium heat 2-3 minutes or until tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Stir in barbecue sauce, apple cider and honey; increase heat to medium-high. Cook 1 minute, stirring to loosen browned bits from pan. Pour over chicken and apples. Cook, covered, on low 3.5-4.5 hours or until chicken is tender. Makes 4 servings.

 

Applesauce-Glazed Pork Chops

  • 4 bone-in pork loin chops (1/2 in. thick/7 oz. each)
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. barbecue sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper

>Preheat oven to 350°F. Place pork chops in a 13 X 9 baking dish coated with cooking spray. Mix remaining ingredients; spoon over chops. Bake, uncovered, 20-25 minutes or until a thermometer reads 145°F. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Makes 4 servings and it’s less than 300 calories!

 

Apple Cider Pulled Pork- SLOWCOOKER

  • 2 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 celery rib, chopped
  • 1 and 1/2 cups apple cider
  • 1 boneless pork shoulder butt roast (3 lbs.)
  • 2 tsp. seasoned salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • 24 mini buns, warmed
  • Additional apple slices, optional

>Place apples, onion, celery and cider in a 5-qt. slow cooker; top with roast. Sprinkle roast with seasonings. Cook, covered, on a low until tender, 8-10 hours. Remove roast; shred with two forks. Skim fat from cooking juices. Mix cornstarch and water; stir into cooking juices. Cook, covered, on high until thickened, 10-15 minutes. Stir in pork; serve on buns. If desired, top with apple slices.

>Freeze Option- Freeze cooled meat mixture in freezer containers. To use, partially thaw in fridge overnight. Heat through in a saucepan, stirring occasionally and adding a little broth or water if necessary. Makes 12 servings.

 

Chicken Alfredo with Grilled Apples

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (6 oz. each)
  • 4 tsp. chicken seasoning (we used McCormick’s Montreal Chicken Seasoning)
  • 1 large Braeburn or Gala apple, cut into 1/2-in. wedges
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 4 slices provolone cheese
  • 1/2 cup Alfredo sauce, warmed
  • 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese

>Sprinkle both sides of chicken with chicken seasoning. In a small bowl, toss apple wedges with lemon juice. Moisten a paper towel with cooking oil; using long-handled tongs, rub on grill rack to coat lightly. Grill chicken, covered, over medium heat 5-8 minutes on each side or until a thermometer reads 165°F. Grill apple, covered, over medium heat for 2-3 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Top chicken with provolone; cook, covered, 1-2 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Serve chicken with Alfredo sauce and apple. Sprinkle with blue cheese. Takes about 25 minutes and makes 4 servings.

 

Apple Bars

Apple Base:

  • 3 cups slice apples
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon

Topping:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. brown sugar
  • 1 cup quick oats
  • 1/2 cup butter or shortening

>Mix the flour, salt and soda together. Add sugar and oats; stir all together and cut in butter until crumbly. Spread 1/2 of mixture on greased 7 X 11 baking dish. Arrange apples over mixture; dot with butter and sprinkle sugar and cinnamon over apples. Add remaining crumby mixture over apples and bake at 350°F for 40-50 minutes. Serve with whipped cream or sprinkle with powdered sugar.

 

Apple Cake

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 and 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 3 cups peeled, chopped apples
  • 1 cup chopped nuts

Icing

  • 1 stick (1/4 lb.) butter
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

>Beat eggs well; add oil, beat again. Mix in sifted dry ingredients, then apples and nuts. Makes a very stiff batter. Pour into 9 X 13 greased pan. Bake at 325°F for 45 minutes. For icing: mix butter, milk, and brown sugar in heavy stove-top pan; bring to a rolling boil. Cook for 5 minutes. Add vanilla. Let set one hour before icing cake. Stir occasionally while cooling.

 

Applesauce Cake

  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp. cocoa
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp. double-acting baking powder
  • 1/2 cup soft shortening
  • 1 and 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 and 1/2 cups canned applesauce
  • 1 and 1/2 cups raisins, cut up or 1 cup snipped dates
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts, optional

>Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease two 9-inch layer pans or a 13 X 9 pan and line with waxed paper or dust with flour. Sift together the flour, cocoa, salt, spices, baking soda and baking powder. In large bowl, cream shortening and sugar at medium speed for 2 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating 2 minutes longer. Add flour mixture alternately with applesauce while beating on low. Scrape bowl as necessary, beat only until blended, about 4 minutes. Fold in walnuts. Pour into pan. Bake about 50 minutes or until done. Cool. Frost with caramel or coffee frosting.

 

Quick Apple Cream Cake

  • 4 medium Gala apples
  • 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 and 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
  • 1 pkg. (10.75 oz.) frozen pound cake, thawed
  • 1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 and 1/2 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 egg yolk

>Core apples. Cut apples in half lengthwise. Slice apples. Stack slices and cut in half; place into batter bowl. Juice lemon to measure 2 Tbsp (30 ml). Add lemon juice, flour, 1 cup of brown sugar, cinnamon and butter to batter bowl (do not mix). Microwave, uncovered, on high 3-4 minutes or until butter is melted. Remove batter bowl from microwave; mix until combined. Microwave, uncovered, on high for 2-3 minutes or until sauce is thickened.

>Meanwhile, cut pound cake into sixteen even slices. In small bowl, whisk together cream cheese, sour cream, cornstarch, remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar and egg yolk until smooth. To assemble cake, arrange eight of the pound cake slices to fit evenly in bottom of baking dish. Using a scoop, place six scoops of the cream cheese mixture over pound cake; spread evenly. Pour half of the apple mixture (being sure to incorporate sauce) over cream cheese layer; spread to cover evenly. Repeat layers with remaining pound cake, cream cheese mixture and apple mixture. Microwave, uncovered, on high 4-5 minutes or until mixture is heated through. Remove from microwave; let stand 2-3 minutes. Serves 12.

 

Spiced Hot Apple Cider- SLOWCOOKER

  • 2 cinnamon sticks (3 in.)
  • 1 piece fresh gingerroot, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp. whole allspice
  • 1 tsp. whole cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. cardamom pods, crushed
  • 2 qt. apple cider or juice
  • Rum, optional

>Place first five ingredients on a double thickness of cheesecloth. Gather corners of cheesecloth to enclose spice mixture; tie securely with string. Place apple cider and spice bag in a 3-qt. slow cooker. Cook, covered, to allow flavors to blend, 2-3 hours. Discard spice bag. If desired, stir in rum before serving. Makes ten 3/4 cup servings.

 

7 Physical Health Benefits Of Laughter

  1. Blood Pressure  -Laughter has a positive effect on BP. When you laugh, your blood pressure initially increases, then lowers pas what is normal for you. This generates deeper breathing, sending more oxygenated blood to the body.

  2. Immune System   -Laughter reduces the stress hormones that zap our bodies of the antibodies we need in fighting infection.

  3. Heart Benefits   -Laughing may offer protection against heart attacks and stroke by expanding the inner lining of the walls of the arteries. When expanded, this inner lining increases blood flow. 

  4. Brain Benefits   -Both sides of the brain are stimulated during laughing. This brain stimulation reduces stress and muscle tension, enhancing attentiveness and brain function.

  5. Digestion   -Laughter’s positive effects on the intestinal tract aides in the absorption and digestion process. 

  6. It’s Exercise   -Laughter exercises the diaphragm, midsection, face, muscles in the back, abdominal organs, and intestinal tract.

  7. Mood Elevator   -Laughter instantly elevates mood and acts as a form of therapy as stored feelings of anger and frustration are released. The ability to laugh at ourselves creates healthy self esteem. 

Recipes for the Family: Week 34

Salads!!! I am trying to be better about eating my leafy greens, but let’s be honest- sometimes I get tired of the same salad over and over. This week I got some recipes for a few different salads and dressings that make eating salads not so terrible! Hahaha!

Rainbow Bowl

  • 1 large beet, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 small sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • Olive oil, for drizzling
  • Coarse sea salt and cracked black pepper, for seasoning
  • 5 asparagus spears, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 generous cup baby kale
  • 1/2 cup cooked multi-color quinoa (prepared according to pkg. directions)
  • 1/4 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 2-3 Tbsp. Carrot-Ginger Dressing (see below)
  • 2 Tbsp. roasted cashews, chopped

>Preheat oven to 400°F. On a rimmed baking sheet, place beets on half the sheet and sweet potatoes on the other half. Drizzle with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Roast 20 minutes. Add asparagus to pan, drizzle with olive oil and roast 10 minutes more. Let cool. Place kale in a bowl; drizzle with olive oil and use your fingers to rub the oil into the kale. Arrange quinoa, roasted vegetables and yellow pepper on top of kale. Drizzle with Carrot-Ginger Dressing. Finish with a sprinkle of coarse sea salt, cracked black pepper and chopped cashews. Refrigerate any leftovers. 

 

Carrot-Ginger Dressing

>In a food processor, chop 2 medium, peeled carrots, 1 (1-inch) piece fresh, peeled ginger and 1 small garlic clove. Add 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon white miso (substitute: tahini), 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon mayonnaise, juice of 1/2 lemon and a pinch of sugar; process until smooth. Add 1-2 tablespoons of water and process to blend.

 

Korean-Inspired Carrot Salad

>For this simple marinated salad, julienne 8 medium-size carrots using a knife, julienne slicer or food processor. Then saute 1 finely chopped onion in a small amount of oil until soft. Combine the carrots and onion in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup vegetable oil, 3 tablespoons white vinegar and 1 tablespoon EACH of finely minced garlic, coriander, and honey. Pour over carrot and onions, and mix well. Season with salt and cayenne pepper, to taste, and garnish with cilantro before serving. 

 

Tex-Mex Bowl

  • 1 generous cup baby arugula
  • 3-4 thin slices cooked chicken breast (safe internal temp 165°F)
  • 3 slices avocado
  • 1/3 cup canned black beans, drained
  • 1/3 cup cooked (fresh or frozen) corn kernels
  • 1 oz. shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • Quick Salsa (see below)
  • Lime-Avocado Sauce (see below)
  • Course sea salt and cracked black pepper, for seasoning

>Pile arugula in a bowl; arrange chicken, avocado, beans, corn and cheese on top. Spoon 2-3 tablespoons Quick Salsa in the middle, then drizzle with Lime-Avocado Sauce. Finish with a sprinkle of course sea salt and cracked black pepper. Refrigerate any leftovers. 

 

Quick Salsa

>In a food processor, combine 4 large Roma tomatoes, sliced, 3 green onions, chopped, 1 garlic clove, 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon of cumin and a pinch of salt. Process until chunky. Add salt and pepper, to taste. 

 

Lime-Avocado Sauce

>In a food processor, combine flesh of 1 ripe avocado, 1 garlic clove, 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, 2 tablespoons olive oil, juice of 1 lime and salt and pepper, to taste. Process until smooth. 

 

Greek Green Bowl

  • 1 generous cup baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup cooked bulgur wheat (prepared according to pkg. directions)
  • 1/4 cup canned chickpeas, drained
  • 1/2 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp. jarred roasted red pepper, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. pitted black olives
  • 1 oz. goat cheese or feta
  • 2-3 Tbsp. Tzatziki Sauce (see below)
  • Course sea salt and cracked black pepper, for seasoning

>Pile spinach in a bowl; arrange bulgur, chickpeas, cherry tomatoes, red pepper, black olives and cheese on top. Drizzle with Tzatziki Sauce. Finish with a sprinkle of coarse sea salt and cracked black pepper. Refrigerate any leftovers. 

 

Tzatziki Sauce

>Grate 1/2 English cucumber; mince 1 garlic clove. Mix with 1 cup plain Greek yogurt, 2 tablespoons chopped mint, 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

 

Swedish Nuts

  • 2 egg whites
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 lb. pecan halves
  • 1/2 cup butter

>Preheat oven to 325°F. Beat egg whites until frothy. Add salt, then sugar, one tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Fold nuts into this meringue. Melt butter in a 15 X 10 jelly roll pan. Spread coated nuts over butter. Bake 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until nuts are a light brown and all butter is absorbed. Cool and store in an airtight container. Serves 8-10.

 

Lemon-Sesame Dressing

>Whisk together 3 tablespoons of tahini, 3 tablespoons of water, juice of 1/2 lemon, and salt and pepper to taste.

 

Green Goddess Dressing

>In a food processor, chop 1 cup (packed) mixed fresh herbs, 1 garlic clove and 2 green onions (white and light green parts). Add juice of 1 lemon, 2 Tbsp. olive oil, 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt, and salt and pepper to taste. Process until smooth. 

 

Thai Peanut Dressing

>Whisk together 1/2 cup smooth, natural peanut butter, 2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 1/2 teaspoons Sriracha (or more to taste) and juice of 1 lime. Whisk in 3 or 4 tablespoons warm water to create desired consistency. 

 

Creamy Basil Dressing

>In a food processor, combine 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt, 1/4 cup sliced basil, 1 Tbsp. chives, 1 small garlic clove, 1 Tbsp honey, juice of 1/2 lemon, and salt and pepper to taste. Process until smooth. 

 

Pesto Mayo Dressing

>Whisk together 1/4 cup prepared basil pesto and 1/4 cup olive oil mayonnaise to blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 

 

Creamy Balsamic Dressing

>In a blender, combine 3 tablespoons EACH of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and mayonnaise. Add 1 tsp. Dijon mustard and 1 garlic clove. Blend until smooth, adding 1 or 2 Tbsp. water to thin, as needed. Salt and pepper to taste. 

 

Banana Bars

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 2 bananas, mashed
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1-2 Tbsp. powdered sugar

>Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 15 X 10 inch jelly roll pan, or line with parchment paper. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In a large mixer bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add vanilla, then add egg. Mix well. Beat in mashed bananas. Gradually add sifted flour mixture. Stir in 1/2 cup of the mini chocolate chips. Spread in pan, and sprinkle remaining mini chocolate chips on top. Bake for 20-25 minutes until slightly golden brown. Do not over bake. Cool completely, sprinkle with powdered sugar.

 

Special K Cookie Bars

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup white Karo syrup
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 (7 oz.) box Kellogg Special K cereal
  • 1 (6 oz.) pkg. butterscotch bits
  • 1 (6 oz.) pkg. chocolate chips

>In large, heavy pan, combine sugar, syrup, and peanut butter and bring to a boil; remove from heat and add cereal. Mix well, spread mixture into a greased 9 X 13 pan. In small pan, melt together the butterscotch and chocolate chips and spread over cereal mixture. Refrigerate until topping is firm, then cut into squares. Makes 24 bars.