Sunday, July 8, 2012

Pancake mix

I do not like making pancakes from the pancake mix box. Jen likes it because it's quick and easy but I am not big fan because making pancakes from scratch there so much more flavor than from the box. I was making a breakfast dinner for the girls tonight and I would not in the mood to make pancakes and scratch so I decided to pull the good old box of pancake mix out. Instead of just using the 2 cups mix and 1 1/3 cups water I also added a teaspoon coconut extract and a tablespoon of sugar into the mix. I did not have vanilla or almond extract so the closest extract I had was coconut and it turned out not to be that bad at all. So the next time you do not feel like making pancakes from scratch and you have the box of Mrs. Butterworth's pancake mix Sitting on the shelf I would recommend adding a little sugar and your favorite kind of extract to the mix and your pancakes will turn out better than you expect.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Record Breaking Heat=Grilling

The Hall's Grilling Meal

Today's high is 107 degrees in Lafayette, so the last thing I am thinking about doing is heating up the house by turning on the oven or even the stove top. Yesterday's high was about the same, so I picked up pizza, again to ward off turning on the oven. Unlike some of my friends and their family, my family cannot eat consecutive nights of pizza anymore. I wish it would be that easy, but my girls enjoy whining and more pizza would give them an excuse to whine. So grilling it is!
I bought some sweet corn from a local farmer and had half of the cobs a couple of nights earlier. I do not like wasting anything, but especially not fresh sweet corn. so I knew I would be grilling the sweet corn to go along with the meal. I was looking for some ideas and did a google search for some grilling ideas and grilled asparagus came up. My wife and I both love asparagus so I figure, why not and added that to the meal. Jen mentioned grilled chicken as she was thinking about things to eat so I clicked on the grilled chicken breast link and it brought me to a recipe through it is titled Jenny's Grilled Chicken Breasts. I quickly read through the ingredients and directions and the only thing I needed to buy was the chicken, so I added this chicken dish to the meal and the main course was complete. Now what about dessert???? Grilled peaches will go great with the main dish, so the grilling meal was set and now it is time to brave the heat and start up the grill!

That was the best meal I have made/ate in quite a while! The chicken was most and the lemon flavor did not overpower the chicken. I was a little apprehensive about making the lemon chicken because I find the lemon takes over the dish, but the lemon was a nice backdrop to the chicken. I am assuming because you just dip the chicken in the lemon juice and you do not let it soak causes the lemon not to take over. The sweet corn was as good as it always is fresh out of the field. Also, I forgot how much I like grilled asparagus over the standard boil. The sea salt I used really brought out the flavoring of the asparagus.

The topper to the meal was the grilled peaches. I have made grilled peaches before, but I usually just split them in half and put it on the grill. The way I did it tonight, with adding the brown sugar and Cinnamon, made it that much better.

Grades are an A+ all around
(sorry that the pictures do not look that great because our camera is out of town.)

Jenny's Grilled Chicken Breasts

  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • seasoning salt to taste
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  1. Preheat an outdoor grill for medium-high heat, and lightly oil grate.
  2. Dip chicken in lemon juice, and sprinkle with the onion powder, ground black pepper, seasoning salt and parsley. Discard any remaining lemon juice.
  3. Cook on the prepared grill 10 to 15 minutes per side, or until no longer pink and juices run clear.

Grilled Corn-on-the-Cob

  • corn still in the husk
  1. Soak the corn in water for about 30 minutes before placing on the grill.
  2. Preheat the grill to high, then turn down to medium. Place the corn over the preheated grill.
  3. The amount of time will very, but I turn it ever 10 minutes to make sure it is heating evenly on all sides. I open one husk up to test for doneness. If it still needs more time, simply place the husk back up and continue grilling. Do not worry if the outside looks chard, the corn will still taste great.
  4. After the corn is done, take it off of the grill. When you take the husk off of the corn, you will notice everything comes off much easier then when you take the husk off before it is cooked.

Grilled Asparagus

  • 1 pound asparagus (estimate 1/4 pound per person), thick spears
  • 1-2 Tbsp Olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  1. Preheat your grill for high, direct heat.

  2. Prepare the asparagus by breaking or cutting off any tough bottom ends (can save for stock, or discard). Place the asparagus in a pan (to contain the spears while you put them on and take them off the grill). Coat them with olive oil and sprinkle salt over them.

  3. Grill the asparagus spears for 5-10 minutes, until nicely charred and just fork tender, turning them every few minutes so that they brown relatively evenly.

    Remove from grill and serve.

Grilled Peaches


  • 2 Tbsp Sucanat or Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 4 Fresh Peaches, washed
  • Grapeseed oil or vegetable oil
  1. Slice peaches in half and remove the pit.
  2. Brush all sides of the peaches with the oil and place in a large bowl.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon.
  4. Add the sugar mixture to the peaches and gently toss until peaches are coated.
  5. Let sit at room temperature for 20-60 minutes.
  6. Cook cut side down on a hot grill for 5 minutes or until the peach has pretty grill marks.
  7. Turn the peaches over and grill on medium high for 10-15 minutes or until the fruit is tender. Top with more sugar and cinnamon if desired.

Anna ate and ate..... her chicken!

Emily looked a little surprised with having her picture taken

I think Lucy looks a little like Lucifer in this picture.

Sarah trying to cram the entire piece of chicken into her mouth at once.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Red/White/Blue rice krispy treats

I got this idea from Pinterest and decided to try it out this fourth of July. It was relatively easy.

6 cups of rice krispies
3 Tbs butter
package of marshmellows
red/blue food coloring

Separate your ingredients into three equal groups. I like to microwave my marshmallows because it’s easier. I stick them in for a few minutes or until they start to get big and almost touch the top of the microwave. Take them out, stir well and add the food coloring. Then add the 2 cups of Rice Krispies and stir well. Press into well greased 9×13 or 9×9 depending on the thickness of your treats. I wanted mine more thick so I used a 9×9.
Do this for all 3 layers starting with the blue, then white and then red. Pat down all layers really well using wax paper.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Shells and Gorgonzola

During Anna's school bookfair, I bought a cookbook called Cheesy, Cheesy quick & easy and this is the first recipe I have tried from it. All of the recipes in the book are pretty much a different take on macarroni and cheese, but my kids love mac-n-cheese so I thought it would be worth a shot.
I wasn't sure what to think when I saw the title of this recipe, but decided to try it anyways. The girls were not sure what to think of either because of the orange-looking sauce and the crubles of cheese. To add insult to injury, I sauted SPINACH I had picked from our garden and added it to the pasta. How would they react!?!?
For the most part, the girls liked the dinner. They finished the pasta that was on their plate farely quickly, but did not want any seconds. Not sure if it was the strong taste from the Gorgonzola or not, but I didn't like the dinner enough to have seconds either.

Grade: B-

1 package (16 oz) uncooked medium shell pasta
1 jar (24 oz) vodka sauce
1 package (4 oz) crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
3/4 oz fresh spinach, sauted

1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain well; cover and keep warm.
2. Heat sauce in medium saucepan over medium heat.
3. Toss pasta with sauce until well blended. Stir in cheese and spinach just before serving.

Emily was a little timid at first.

Sarah loved everything (even the brocolli).

Anna, looking like she is singing a song into her shell microphone.

Lucy, surprisingly happy!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Crunchy Party Mix

This is a quick and easy mix to make. The girls, like most kids, love to munch on mixes like these (except for the nuts). I need to remind myself to make a bigger batch and freeze half of it because it can be frozen for up to 4 months.
Grade: B

5 cups pretzel sticks
4 cups round toasted oat cereal (Cheerios)
4 cups wheat chex
4 cups corn chex
3 cups mixed nuts
1 cup butter
3 TBS Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp garlic powder

1. In a roasting pan, combine pretzels, oat cereal, wheat cereal, corn cereal, and mixed nuts; set aside.
2. In a small saucepan heat and stir butter, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic powder until butter melts. Drizzle butter mixture over cereal mixture; stir gently to coat.
3. Bake at 300 degree oven for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Spread on a large piece of foil to cool. Store in an airtight container.

Lucy enjoying the mix.
Emily digging in on the pretzel sticks.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Lemony Fettuccine Alfredo with Asparagus

The picture looks a little dark because somebody did not have the flash up.

This meal was easy to make and extremely delicious. I did not realize how easy it was to make Alfredo sauce. If I had known, I would have never bought the premade Alfredo from a jar. Also, this was under 300 calories per serving, so the sauce was a little healthier than the premade.
We made the girls try a piece of asparagus and they all did. Anna, kept asking for more, Emily and Sarah both ate a couple of pieces, but then there is Lucy. She was refusing to eat her piece,  but when the brownies came out for dessert, and she was not getting hers, she reluctantly ate her piece.
The sauce was a little thick and when I make this again, and reheat it tomorrow, I are going to add some milk to it.

Grade:  A+
1 cup half & half
12 oz fettuccine
1.5 cups grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup fresh asparagus
1 tsp lemon peel

  1.  Allow half-and-half and butter to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

2.   Meanwhile, cook fettuccine according to package directions. Add the asparagus the final five minutes. Drain. Return fettuccine and asparagus to saucepan; add half-and-half, butter, lemon zest, and Parmesan cheese. Stir gently until fettuccine is well coated. Transfer to a warm serving dish. Sprinkle with pepper. Serve immediately. 

Emily loves her Alfredo sauce!
Anna showing you that she can still slurp the Fettuccine
Don't worry, Lucy always has the look on her face lately.
I call it her sourpuss face
Sarah, eating very lady-like!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Lightened Up Beef & Vegetable Stir-Fry

Dinner tonight could have been better if it wasn't for the tough beef. I am not sure if the problem with the beef was that it may have been a lower quality of beef, or that I over cooked it. Whatever the reason it was TOUGH! We made Anna chew it for a good five minutes before she could swallow it. Granted it was Anna and she tends to over exagerate if it is something she doesn't want to do.
Besides the tough beef, this was a good dish. The broccoli, onions, and mushrooms were all very good and the cream of mushroom soup added a lot of flavor and the sauce that was left behind tried to help out the dried out tough meat. Sarah liked the beef and kept on asking for more, but the rest of us had one piece and that was enough!

If the meat would have been tender: B+
As it was: D+
Ingredients: (Recipe from Campbell's)
Vegetable cooking spray
1 boneless beef sirloin steak, 3/4-inch thick (about 1 pound), sliced into very thin strips
2 cups broccoli florets
6 ounces sliced mushrooms (about 2 cups)
2 medium onions, cut into wedges
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder or 2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (10 3/4 ounces) Campbell's® Healthy Request® Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 cup regular long-grain white rice, cooked according to package directions without salt (about 3 cups)

1.Spray a 12-inch skillet with the cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Add the beef and cook until it's well browned, stirring often. Remove the beef from the skillet and set aside.

2.Remove the skillet from the heat and spray with the cooking spray. Add the broccoli, mushrooms, onion and garlic powder and cook until the vegetables are tender-crisp, stirring often.

3.Stir the soup, water and soy sauce in the skillet and heat to a boil. Return the beef to the skillet and cook until it's cooked through. Serve the beef mixture over the rice.

If you can't tell by Sarah's face, TOUGH!

Not sure what Emily is eating, but she didn't eat much.

Anna "forcing" rice into her mouth.

Looks like Lucy's mugshot.