Macaroni & Cheese

22 Jan

I tried this recipe for the first time over this past Christmas Eve. In just a few short weeks, it’s become a staple side dish in our family. It’s easy and tastes wonderful!

Delicious Mac & Cheese

8 oz elbow macaroni

15 oz small curd cottage cheese

8 oz sour cream

2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

2-3 toasted slices of bread for the crumb topping or the equivalent plain bread crumbs

1. Cook the elbow macaroni, drain. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Mix together the cottage cheese, sour cream, and cheddar cheese in a bowl. Add the cooked macaroni and mix well. Place into greased casserole dish (I use Pam).

3. Crumble the toasted bread for the topping, sprinkle on top of the macaroni and cheese, and cook in the oven for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown.

While unconventional, the mixture of the sour cream, cottage cheese, and sharp cheddar make for an amazing alternative to traditional macaroni and cheese!

Apple Pork Chops

22 Jan

One of my favorite meals growing up was my mother’s apple pork chops. It was my grandmother’s recipe originally, adapted by my mother.  It takes time, but turns out delicious!

 

Apple Pork Chops with Rice

bone-in pork chops (center cut)

olive oil (about 2 Tbs.)

season salt (I use Lawry’s)

pepper

apple juice

rice, cooked

 

1. Season the pork chops with season salt and pepper. Preheat an electric skillet to 350 degrees. When hot, drizzle olive oil into the skillet. I use about 2-3 tablespoons.

2. Brown on both sides. The chops do not have to be cooked thoroughly. They will continue cooking during the simmer.

3. Add enough apple juice to coat the chops. It should look about like this:

4. Set the skillet to 250 degrees, cover and let simmer for about an hour or more. The apple juice will reduce over time.  This is a good time to start your rice.

5. When the juice has reduced, the pork chops will be very tender. Remove to a plate. Reserve sauce.

6. Pour the reserved sauce over your rice and mix well. Season with salt and pepper. It makes for a great dish!

Day 5: Sliders!

26 Mar

Friday! I wanted to eat out so badly for lunch. I was only working in the afternoon today and it would have been extremely easy to make a quick trip to Jason’s Deli. I was dreaming of a California Club. I made it! In a very smart move on the last trip to the grocery store, I picked up a frozen meal. I opened the freezer, saw it, and it looked good. Most of the time they don’t look appetizing once I pick them up and bring them home. It was a successful lunch for me today.🙂

Dinner tonight was divine. Why?

Sopapilla cheesecake, baby! It’s love at first bite. Delicious. Here’s the recipe:

Sopapilla Cheesecake

Cheesecake:

2 – 8 oz pkgs. softened cream cheese

2 – 8 oz pkgs. refrigerated crescent rolls

1 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

Topping:

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Blend the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until smooth and creamy. Unroll one can of crescent rolls and place in the bottom of a 13 x 9 pan, spreading out the dough evenly. Place the cheesecake mixture on top of the layer of rolls. Unroll and place the next can of crescents on top of the cheesecake mixture, spreading the dough as evenly as possible (not easy on top of the cheesecake mixture!)

For the topping, melt the butter and sugar in a small sauce pan. Once melted, mix in the cinnamon. Spread the topping evenly over the crescent layers. Bake until golden brown and puffy. Cool in the refrigerator and cut into bite size squares before serving.

Enjoy!

Day 2: Not a Pizza Night!

23 Mar

It’s a miracle! Andy cooked dinner tonight. Tuesday nights are the hardest when it comes to cooking dinner. Both girls have activities that keep us out and about until 7 pm so we take the easy route and buy a pizza on the way home. We may have eaten at home once or twice since the school year started on Tuesdays.

While it’s exciting to eat pizza once a week, it starts a never ending cycle where we eat out for any meal when we don’t have time to cook. We should be able to find the time to eat a decent, even if quick, meal.

Andy was  a little nervous being in charge of dinner last night, but he did an amazing job. With a little help of Allrecipes.com, he fixed Cajun Dirty Rice, a great recipe to satisfy his love of Cajun food. Maddie hates foods mixed together (casseroles, etc.) so this was going to be a tough meal. We blind folded her for the first bite. She liked it, despite having sausage, beans, rice, and everything else delicious about dirty rice all mixed together. Win for the night!

Day 3 brings Laura to the chef table. It’s her night to make her famous lasagna.

 

Day 1: Survived without temptation

22 Mar

Day One is always easy. You make a vow, a promise, a lifestyle change… you make it through Day One full of wonderful intentions. Our family survived our first day of our 30 day vow to avoid eating out unscathed. I will admit that this 30 jaunt into eating only at home will probably be the hardest on me. At the end of the day, the easiest way to end an evening is to grab food to go. The kitchen stays relatively clean (In my house, the kitchen is never completely clean!), I get a nice post-bedtime evening to rest and relax, and we still eat dinner together.

Yesterday afternoon we made a decision as a family to change our eating habits for the better by eating foods prepared at home.  This means no after school trips to Yum Me, our favorite frozen yogurt store, no Sonic Happy Hours (sigh. Cherry Limeades.), no pizza night. This is also a way to see the effects on our checking account from avoiding eating out. Does it pay to eat at home?

Breakfast is easy. We always eat cereal, oatmeal, or toast and yogurt for breakfast while we get ready for the day. Andy, my husband, on the other hand, grabs a coffee and often stops for gas station food. Breakfast might be the most tempting cheat for him. Weekends might be tough. It’s fun to get up late on Saturday morning and head to Waffle House. I will have to make sure to have ample breakfast making goods on hands for the weekend.

The girls, Laura and Maddie, have been taking their lunches to school for the majority of this year so this won’t be much of an adjustment for them. I don’t trust Maddie to make smart decisions in the lunch line at her school. School lunches are not healthy if you avoid vegetables at all costs. When I’m not working at Maddie’s school, lunch is my greatest weakness. I always manage to leave the house right at 11 am to run errands, the right time to grab a bite to eat. The Taco Bueno bean burrito makes any day perfect. When I’m working I eat the school lunch. Ugh. Andy does an amazing job at taking his lunch to work, mostly leftovers from dinner the night before.

Dinner… We’ve already talked a little about dinner. I have no problem with cooking on Mondays, Wednesdays, or Sundays. Any other week day, we have drum lessons, guitar lessons, ballet, or Girl Scouts. The weekend is just time to enjoy the finish to the week. We eat out a lot on Fridays and Saturdays. It’s really bad.

We’re starting out fresh! Today, no one wanted to eat out. We had a great grilled chicken dinner and I survived running errands without grabbing something quick while I was out. Let’s see what tomorrow holds.