Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Garlic Pork Tenderloin with Barbecue Sauce

What an amazing success with dinner tonight!!!! I wasn't sure how the girls were going to like pork tenderloin because it is hit or miss (usually a miss) with meat, but I wanted to make it. I looked easy to make and something quick I could put together without much prep. When the tenderloin was in the oven I let the girls try a little bit of the rub that was on the tenderloin and they liked it. I made some peas (which I know they love) and gave them a little bit of the pork. They could stop eating it! I had to make them eat their peas just to slow them down. We could have easily eaten the full pound of tenderloin just the four girls and myself. So if you are looking for something that has a lot of flavor and picky eaters might like, I recommend this recipe!!

Grade: A+

What You Need:
1 lb. pork tenderloin

1 Tbsp. GOOD SEASONS Garlic & Herb Dressing Mix
1/2 tsp. each paprika, dried thyme leaves and dried sage leaves
1/2 cup BULL'S-EYE Original Barbecue Sauce

Make It:
HEAT oven to 425°F.
PLACE meat in foil-lined shallow baking pan. Mix dressing mix and seasonings until blended; rub evenly over meat.
BAKE 20 to 25 min. or until done (160°F).
CUT into slices. Serve with barbecue sauce.

Sarah likes big bites!!!
Anna ate her first portion before I
could get the camera!

Lucy with her first of many bites!
Emily mid-bite.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Tuna & Pasta Cheddar Melt

This was a good, fast, an hearty meal. The best part may be that there was very little dishes to clean up. If I made this again, I would mix the peas and carrots into the tuna/pasta dish instead of having it on the side. The girls all ate it, except for Anna. She thought it tasted bad (I don't think she actually tried it).

Grade: B+

1 can (10 1/2 ounces) Campbell's® Condensed Chicken Broth
1 soup can water
3 cups uncooked corkscrew-shaped pasta (rotini)
1 can (10 3/4 ounces) Campbell's® Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup (Regular or 98% Fat Free)
1 cup milk
1 can (about 6 ounces) tuna, drained and flaked
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (about 4 ounces)
2 tablespoons Italian-seasoned dry bread crumbs
2 teaspoons butter, melted

1. Heat the broth and water in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat to a boil.  Stir in the pasta.  Reduce the heat to medium.  Cook until the pasta is tender, stirring often.  Do not drain.
2. Stir the soup, milk and tuna in the skillet.  Top with the cheese. Stir the bread crumbs and butter in a small bowl.  Sprinkle over the tuna mixture.  Cook until the cheese is melted.

Lucyliked her tuna pasta.

Emily ate all of hers.

Like pulling teeth with Anna!

Sarah doing her best "Emily" face.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Beef and Chipotle Burrito

This slow cooker meal was great for the adults, not so much for the girls however. It was a little spicy for the girls under six needed a lot of sour cream to dip their burritos in order to eat it. Anna and Emily did their best to finish it. The adults enjoyed it greatly. Hindsight, I would have only put half of the chipotle peppers in. Jen did teach me how to properly fold a burritos so the insides, remain inside.

Adults: A-
Kids: D

1 ½ pounds boneless beef round steak, cut ¾ inch thick
1/3 cup chopped onion (1 small)
1 14 ½ ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 to 2 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped
1 tsp dried oregano, crushed
¼ tsp ground cumin
1 clove garlic, minced
6 9-10 inch tortillas, warmed
¾ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1.       Trim fat from meat. Cut meat into 6 pieces. In a 3 ½ or 4-quart crockery cooker place meat, undrained tomatoes, onion, chipotle peppers, oregano, cumin, and garlic.
2.       Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 8-10 hours or on high for 4-5 hours. Remove meat from cooker. Using 2 forks, pull meat apart into shreds. Place meat in a large bowl. Stir in cooking liquid to reach desired consistency. Divide meat among warm tortilla, spooning it just below the center. Top with cheese.

Anna ate all of the spicy burrito!

Emily gave it a good try.

You can tell by the look on Lucy's face, she's not liking it.

Sarah started out on "fire" by did not finish.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Chili Rice with Chicken

No pictures. Worst meal I have ever cooked! I don't know if the tomatoes were rancid or maybe the chicken, but it was horrible. I ate a few bites and then threw out the rest. I strongly do not recommend cooking this, or maybe it was just a bad batch.

Grade: F

1 Tbs olive oil
12 oz boneless skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 2-inch long by ¼ inch wide strips
½ green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
½ red bell pepper, coarsely chopped (I used 1 green instead of ½ red)
½ cup minced onion
1 tsp minced jalapeno pepper (I omitted this)
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp chili powder
2 tsp minced fresh oregano (or ½ tsp dried oregano)
½ tsp ground cumin
3 cups cooked rice (long-grain white or brown)
1 (14oz) can diced tomatoes, with juice
½ tsp pepper

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken; cook, stirring occasionally, for about 2 to 3 minutes or until it is no longer pink on the outside. Stir in the bell peppers, onion, jalapeño pepper, garlic, chili powder, dried oregano (if using), and cumin. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and the chicken is cooked through.

Reduce the heat to medium. Stir in the rice, tomatoes with juice, fresh oregano (if using), and pepper. Heat through, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes. Adjust the seasoning to taste.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Chicken Fried Steak

Chicken Fried Steak and frozen peas and carrots (like Forest and Jenny)

This was a good Wednesday night meal. The girls, even Anna, ate a minimum of two pieces of the steak. Lucy and Sarah kept asking for more and more meat. I over cooked it a little bit, as I should have reduced the time I left it on Medium-Low. This was the first time I have ever made gravy and it wasn't too bad.

Grade: B+

1 lb boneless beef top round steak, cut ½ inch thick
¾ cup fine dry bread crumbs
1 ½ tsp snipped fresh basil or oregano
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
1 beaten egg
1 Tbs milk
2 Tbs cooking oil
1 small onion, sliced and separated into rings
2 Tbs all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups milk

1.       Trim fat from meat. Cut meat into 4 serving-size pieces. Place each piece of meat between 2 pieces of plastic wrap. Working from center to edges, pound meat lightly with the flat side of a meat mallet to ¼ inch  thickness. Remove plastic wrap.
2.       In a shallow dish or on waxed paper combine bread crumbs, basil, the ½ tsp salt, and the ¼ tsp pepper. In another shallow dish combine egg and the 1 Tbs milk. Dip meat pieces into egg mixture, then coat with the bread crumb mixture.
3.       In a 12-inch skillet cook meat, half at time, in hot oil over medium heat about 6 minutes or until brown, turning once. (Add more oil, if necessary.) Return all meat to skillet. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and cook for 45 to 60 minutes more or until meat is tender. Transfer meat to a serving platter, reserving drippings in skillet. Keep warm.
   For gravy, cook onion in reserved drippings until tender but not brown. (Add more oil, if necessary.) Stir in  flour. Gradually stir in the 1 1/3 cups milk. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir for 1 minute more. If desired, season to taste with additional salt and pepper. Serve gravy with meat.
Sarah eating her first of many pieces.

Anna actually eating steak!

Emily, mid-bite

Lucy chewing away. 

Sweet ‘n Sour Chicken Over Potatoes

This slow cooker meal was made on our “Slow Cooker Monday.”
I don't have any pictures for this meal because I was not "at" dinner during the time the girls were eating this. Actually, I am not sure if they ate this or not. Jen might have taken the path to least resistance and took the pizza route. I had it on Tuesday for lunch and it was moist and the potatoes had a pineapplely taste (yes, I am aware that pineapplely is not a word).

Grade: B-

3 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and sliced thin
4 whole chicken breasts, skinned and halved
1 cup orange juice
2 Tbs brown sugar
1 tsp dried basil
¼ tsp. nutmeg
2 Tbs cider vinegar
Dried parsley flakes
17-oz can pineapple chunks in water, drained

1.       Place sliced potatoes in slow cooker. Arrange chicken breasts over potatoes.
2.       Combine orange juice, brown sugar, basil, nutmeg, and vinegar. Pour over chicken.
3.       Sprinkle dried parsley flakes over chicken.
4.       Cover and cook on low 8-10 hours.
5.       Remove chicken breasts and potatoes from sauce and arrange on a warm platter.
6.       Add pineapple chunks to sauce remaining in slow cooker. Cook on high until they are at serving temperature.
7.       Pour sauce over chicken and potatoes. 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Homemade cheese sticks and Creamy Corn and Garlic Risotto

Tonight’s dinner is a mixture of a cheese stick and a corn risotto. Jen and the girls were out of town, and I had some time to plan the meals for the week, so I will be posting all four meals that are prepared during the week. The Sunday night meal is vegetarian, the Monday/Tuesday is a slow cooker meal, Wednesday is steak, and Thursday/Friday is chicken with rice.

Tonight's meal was a huge success! The cheesesticks came out great, just like the picture in the cookbook (which never happens!). The risotto was creamy and cheesey and tasted amazing. I would make both items again.
Grade: A
String Cheese Sticks with Dipping Sauce
2 ¼ cups Bisquick
2/3 cup milk
1 package of plain string cheese
1 Tbs butter (melted)
¼ tsp garlic powder
1 can pizza sauce
1.       Heat oven to 450. Stir Bisquick and milk until soft dough forms; beat 30 seconds with spoon. Place dough on surface sprinkled with Bisquick; gently roll in Bisquick to coat. Shape into a ball; knead 10 times.
2.       Roll dough ¼ inch thick. Cut into eight 6x2-inch rectangles. Roll each rectangle around 1 piece of cheese. Pinch edge into each roll to seal; seal ends. Roll on surface to completely enclose cheese sticks. Place seam sides down on ungreased cookie sheet.
3.       Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Mix butter and garlic powder; brush over warm cheese sticks before removing from cookie sheet. Serve warm with pizza sauce for dipping (or ranch like my girls).

Creamy Corn and Garlic Risotto
3 ¾ cups vegetable or chicken broth
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup uncooked Arborio or white rice
3 cups frozen whole kernel corn
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1.       Heat 1/3 cup of the broth to boiling in 10-inch skillet. Cook garlic in broth 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Stir in rice and frozen corn. Cook 1 minute, stirring occasionally.
2.       Stir in remaining broth. Heat to boiling; reduce heat to medium. Cook uncovered 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until rice is tener and creamy; remove from heat.
3.       Stir in cheese.

 Lucy trying to see how far she could stretch her cheese.
 Emily with another, "Emily" face.
 Anna loved the cheesestick more than her risotto.
Sarah with a mouth full of cheese!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Bunny Puffs

This recipe is from the Pillsbury Crescents small recipe book that you can buy in the check out line in the super market. Jen bought this a while ago because I looked at the coupons at the back of the book and the expire in 2008, so it is pretty old. These bunnies were not in the dessert category of the book, but I think they are a great dessert. There is one piece of candy and the rest, besides the tiny marshmallow and the M&M for the eyes.

Grade: B+

Bunny Puffs
1 can (8 oz) Pillsbury refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
8 miniature chocolate covered peanut butter cup candies, unwrapped
8 white miniature marshmallows, cut in half
4 pink miniature marshmallows, cut in half
16 blue miniature candy-coated semi-sweet chocolate baking bits (I used M&ms)

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line large cookie sheet with cooking parchment paper; spray paper with cooking spray.
2. Unroll dough and separate into 8 triangles. Place 1 peanut butter cup in center of 1 triangle. Gently stretch corners closest to and farthest from cup together at top of cup, pinching edges together to seal around cup. Pull up third corner; firmly pinch edges to seal. Place on cookie sheet; twist 2 longest tips of dough o make ears. If desired, bend down longer ear. Repeat with remaining dough triangles and peanut butter cups, shaping and trimming dough as needed for desired shape.
3. Bake 8 to 9 minutes or until puffs begin to brown. Place 2 white miniature marshmallow halves and 1 pink marshmallow half on center of each for bunny eyes and nose. Bake 1 to 2 minutes longer or until puffs are golden brown and marshmallows are slightly puffed.
4. For eyes, immediately place 2 blue baking bits on white miniature marshmallows for pupil; remove puffs to cooling rack.

Anna enjoying the peanut butter cup.

Emily thinks it is so funny to eat the bunny.

Sarah attempting to show you her bunny.

Lucy loving the ears!

Monday, August 8, 2011

English Muffin Pizza

This was a make your own “pizza” night at the Hall household. We let the girls make their own pizza on the toasted English muffin as you will see in the video.  The choices for the girls were pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese, pepperoni, and sliced mushrooms. The videos are all under 30 seconds, but be sure to watch Emily take a bite out of her pizza before cooking it.

Taste Grade: B-

Fun for the girls grade: A+


Sarah digging in.

Lucy took forever to finish her pizza!

Emily finding out that cooked pizza is better than raw pizza.

Anna loves her pizza and she now likes mushrooms!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Breakfast for Dinner

Pink Waffles, Hush Puppies, Banana/Grape fruit salad 

Who doesn’t like breakfast for dinner? Not us, our girls would eat breakfast for every meal if they could. The truth about why we ended up having this for dinner is I promised the girls pink waffles for breakfast and was too lazy to make it in the morning. I saw the hush puppies on the next page from the waffles in the BHG cookbook and I thought, why not. I had never made hush puppies before, but like eating them whenever I had been somewhere that served them. I am not sure if they go with the breakfast for dinner, but who cares? Anna and Lucy did not care too much for the hush puppies (even though they love them at restaurants) but Sarah kept on eating the puppies throughout dinner. In fact, for dessert we had Popsicles and Sarah had a Popsicle in one hand and a hush puppy on the end of a fork in the other.
Grade: B

1 ¾ cups all purpose flour
2 TBS sugar
1 TBS baking powder
2 eggs
1 ¾ cups milk
½ cup cooking oil or butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla

1.       In a medium bowl stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, and ¼ tsp salt. Make a well in center of flour mixture; set aside.
2.       In another medium bowl beat eggs slightly; stir in milk, oil, and vanilla. Add egg mixture all at once to the flour mixture. Stir just until moistened (batter should be slightly lumpy.)
3.       Pour 1 to 1 ¼ cups of batter onto grids of a preheated, lightly greased waffle baker. Close lid quickly; do not open until done. Bake according to manufacturer’s directions. When done, use a fork to lift waffle off grid. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve warm.

Hush Puppies
1 cup cornmeal
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp sugar
¾ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 beaten egg
½ cup buttermilk or sour milk
¼ cup sliced green onions (I omitted these)
Shortening or cooking oil for deep-fat frying

1.       In a medium bowl combine cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Make a well in center of flour mixture; set aside.
2.       In another bowl combine egg, buttermilk, and green onions. Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened (batter should be lumpy)
3.       Drop batter by tablespoons into deep, hot fat (375) Fry about 3 minutes or until golden, turning once. Drain on paper towels. Serve warm.

Sarah eating her first hush puppy

Emily giving you a typical Emily face!

Anna opening her mouth double the amount that she needs for the tiny piece of food.

Lucy telling me to take a picture of Sarah.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Belgium and Butter Night

I am calling this meal a “Belgium and Butter” meal because of the Brussel sprouts, but I understand that is a stretch to say the least. Anyways, you might be saying, “Your girls ate Brussel sprouts!?” And the answer to that would be, yes we made them try at least one bite. For the most part they like them, but that was because of the excitement that I created before presenting them at the table.

When I came back from the store with my fresh Brussel sprouts, I called the girls together and I showed the sprouts to them and how they looked like little lettuce heads. They thought they looked so cute. This was around 3:00 and they kept coming downstairs hoping that it was dinnertime so they could have the Brussel sprouts. You have to do what you have to do to get your kids to eat healthy, right.

This meal looks/sounds healthy from the listing of food that is included, but it has a decent amount of butter when you combine all three. Maybe that is why it is so good! For the chicken, I took wheat-chex cereal, fresh basil, and oregano and put it into a food processor. I used this instead of breadcrumbs for the coating. I made an egg wash to dip the chicken in before rolling it around in the chex mixture. I set the oven at 350 degrees and put one stick of butter in an 9x12 inch pan and put it in the oven. Once the butter was melted, I put the chicken in a single layer and cooked it for 30 minutes. (Depending on the size of the chicken times will vary.)
The chicken was extremely moist, as it should be considering it was baked in a layer of melted butter.

I did not do anything special for the baby Yukon potatoes. Just boiled and salted and of course stirred around some butter!

Grade: A

Brussels Sprouts Recipe
·         1 lb fresh brussels sprouts
·         4-6 Tbsp butter
·         1/2 onion, chopped
·         Salt and Pepper
·         1 teaspoon lemon juice or 1 Tbsp Meyer lemon juice, fresh squeezed
·         1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds
1 Remove any ragged or old-looking outer leaves on the brussels sprouts and discard. Parboil the brussels sprouts (or steam them) for 3 minutes or until just tender. They should be almost cooked all the way through (split one in half to test). Strain the hot water and place the sprouts in a bowl of ice water, this will keep their color bright green. Cut the sprouts into halves.
2 Heat 2-3 Tbsp of butter in a large sauté pan on medium heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Add 2-3 Tbsp more of butter and the brussels sprouts halves. Increase the heat to medium high and cook for several more minutes. Salt and pepper to taste, while the brussels sprouts are cooking. Do not overcook! Overcooked brussels sprouts are bitter and are the main reason why some people don't like them.
3 Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the lemon juice and half of the toasted almonds. Add salt and pepper to taste. Place in serving dish and garnish with the rest of the toasted almonds.

Sarah making sure her chicken is not too hot!

Emily sticking as much of the chicken into her mouth as she can.

Anna pouting because she wanted to eat a whole Brussel sprout and I cut it!

Lucy just put something in her mouth, but I have no idea what it is.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

French Night :-)

French night was a success. The chicken was extremely juicy and the asparagus and cream sauce was perfect. I messed up the sauce that goes with the chicken, but the chicken didn’t need the sauce anyways. Lucy did not eat the asparagus, no surprise there, but all the other girls ate more than one piece.

I personally am enjoying doing the different themes of food from around the world. We talk about where the country is that the meals are originally from. Fortunately because of the Wonder Pets, Dora, Diego, and other shows they are kind of aware of the countries. For this dinner we told the girls how to say hello, goodbye, and beached whale in French.

Grade: A-

French Chicken Breast with Orange Tarragon Sauce

·         8 chicken breasts, skin on and wing bone attached
·         4 tablespoons butter
·         4 tablespoons olive oil
·         Salt and pepper
·         1/2 cup orange juice
·         2 cups chicken broth
·         2 sprigs tarragon
·         4 TBS unsalted butter, cut into bits
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Put 2 tablespoons of the butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a large skillet and place it over high heat for 2 minutes. Season the chicken breasts with a sprinkling of salt and pepper and place 4 of the breasts in the pan skin side down. Sear for 1 minute or until the skin is crispy and a golden brown. Turn the breasts and sear 1 more minute. Remove to a baking dish and repeat the process with the rest of the butter, oil and breasts. Place the baking dish into the oven for 10 to 15 minutes.
Add orange juice, chicken broth, and tarragon to the hot skillet. Cook until reduced by about 3/4 (sauce should coat the back of a spoon). Right before serving, whisk in the butter. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Serve the chicken with the sauce spooned over the top.

Asparagus in Tarragon Cream Sauce Recipe


·         2 tablespoons butter
·         3 ounces mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
·         1 shallot, finely chopped
·         1 teaspoon lemon juice
·         2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
·         2/3 cup vegetable stock
·         1/3 cup heavy cream
·         1 tablespoon chopped, fresh tarragon (1 teaspoon dried tarragon)
·         1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
·         1/2 teaspoon salt
·         1 1/2 pounds green asparagus, trimmed


In a medium size saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and sauté the mushrooms for 5 minutes. Add the shallot and lemon juice to the pan and cook the mixture for an additional 3 minutes.
Stir the flour into the mushrooms until completely incorporated, and then add the vegetable stock, stirring until the sauce becomes smooth and thicken slightly. Stir in the heavy cream, tarragon, and nutmeg, and then heat through. (Do not allow the sauce to simmer) Once the sauce is heated, remove it from the heat and cover with a lid to keep warm.

Bring a large shallow pan of water to a boil and salt it. Gently place the asparagus into the water, reduce heat, and cover with a lid. Cook the asparagus for 5-7 minutes, until it’s tender. Drain and serve immediately with the hot tarragon cream sauce.

Sarah digging into the asparagus.

Lucy giving me the evil eye as I take her picture.

Anna very tired during her trip to France.

Emily, in Jen's dress, enjoying her chicken.