Friday, January 2, 2015

Sloppy Joes II Recipe

Transparency Alert: I LOVE sloppy joes. The sloppier, the better. Yes, I did enjoy the school cafeteria. Don't judge me.

But it's time to grow up a bit! Here's an excellent recipe for Sloppy Joes from All Recipes without the canned sloppiness. You could call these gourmet, if you like. I do.


  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard
  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 3 teaspoons brown sugar
  • salt to taste
  • ground black pepper to taste

  1. In a medium skillet over medium heat, brown the ground beef, onion, and green pepper; drain off liquids.
  2. Stir in the garlic powder, mustard, ketchup, and brown sugar; mix thoroughly. Reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
When green peppers go on sale, I buy several, chop them, and then store them in snack size bags in the freezer. It's helpful to have those already on hand when dinner calls and you're in a pinch for some added flavor.

Darn* Delicious's One Pot Pasta Recipe

Photo Courtesy of Damn Delicious
There are a lot of recipes on Pinterest. A. LOT. And most of them that I've tried are pretty disappointing. It should be a rule that if you're going to "pin" a high class food photo to your recipe, that it should TASTE like something at a high class restaurant. But there are no rules on Pinterest, so the false advertising continues.

The photo for this one-pot wonder by Darn* Delicious was decent, so I figured it MIGHT be flavorful.

....and it was! So if you're looking for a FAST, pantry-friendly main course, look no further. This recipe also has the added bonus of less dishes to wash.

  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1 (12.8-ounce) package smoked andouille sausage, thinly sliced
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 cups halved grape tomatoes
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves, loosely packed
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan
  1. In a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium high heat, combine spaghetti, sausage, onion, tomatoes, basil, garlic and 4 1/2 cups water; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  2. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until pasta is cooked through and liquid has reduced, about 8-10 minutes. Stir in Parmesan.
  3. Serve immediately.

Ian Knauer's Meatloaf Recipe

Who is Ian Knauer? I haven't the slightest idea, but he's put together a fabulous meatloaf recipe that is truly delicious! Most folks balk at the thought of meatloaf. They shun the jolting memories of a hunk of meat covered in sugary ketchup. No longer, my friends, no longer must you run. This recipe is fit for a crowd, considering it calls for just over two pounds of meat! However, if you end up with leftovers, they won't last long. I made a few adjustments (as noted below by asterisks), but otherwise, this has all the makings of perfection.

  • 1c fine breadcrumbs, seasoned*
  • 1/3c milk
  • 1 medium onion OR small shallot*
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium celery rib, finely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • 2Tbs unsalted butter
  • 2Tbs Worcestershire sauce
  • 1Tbs apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4tsp allspice, ground
  • 1tsp salt*
  • 1/2tsp pepper*
  • 1/4lb bacon (about 4 slices), chopped
  • 1/2c pitted prunes
  • 1 1/2lb ground beef chuck
  • 1/2lb ground pork (not lean)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3c fresh parsley, finely chopped

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F with rack set in the middle of oven.
  2. Soak bread crumbs in bowl of milk.
  3. Meanwhile, cook onion, garlic, celery, and carrot in butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Cover skillet and reduce heat to low, then cook until carrot is tender, about 5 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, allspice, salt, and pepper.
  5. Add to bread-crumb mixture.
  6. Finely chop bacon and prunes in a food processor, then add to onion mixture.
  7. Add beef, pork, eggs, and parsley and mix together with your hands.  
  8. Shape mixture into "loaf" (9"x5" oval) onto broiler pan*. (The broiler pan will allow grease to escape from your meatloaf so that you don't end up with the soggy, greasy mess that we think of when making traditional meatloaf.)
  9. Bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into center of meatloaf registers 155°F, 1 to 1 1/4 hours.
  10. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
Since this is a pretty labor intensive recipe, I found it helpful to chop and cook the onion mixture (later adding the Worcestershire mixture to it) and chopping up the prunes and bacon the NIGHT BEFORE. The day of, I combined all of the ingredients, including my milk-soaked breadcrumbs, by hand. (....also, in an effort of full disclosure, I did not use my food processor because I didn't want to clean it up afterwards......I used kitchen scissors instead.)

I would caution you to add the salt and pepper to TASTE rather than simply going by the ingredient amounts above. Mr. Knauer originally called for 2tsp salt and 1 1/2tsp pepper. That seemed a bit extreme for me personally, so I halved it. In the end, our meatloaf was still a bit too peppery, so I recorded it as a third of the original recipe above. One way to "test" your "to taste" with raw mixtures, is to take a 1" ball of the mixture, flatten it, and pop it in the microwave for thirty seconds to one minute. It won't be EXACTLY like your oven, but it will give you a decent approximation of taste.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Farm Life

I've never lived on a farm. I've never even spent the night on a farm. I've probably spent less than 6 straight hours on ANY given farm. But I'm pretty sure I live the farm life.

How so?

Well, each day I rise to the squawk of a rooster. She's only 7 months old, but she'll let you know it's time to get up. Sometimes the sun isn't even out, but she's busy at her morning duties.

Then my morning is filled with feeding baby pigs. Cute. Adorable. Sloppy. Somehow sweet potato mush ends up all over the wall and cereal bits on the floors. One still requires some bottle feeding while she's busy trying to look all around as her older sister empties the cabinets and decides to play chef while dressed up as a doctor in purple, feathery heels.

There's the spraying down of stalls and shoveling manure. Thank goodness for diapers, wipes, and Spray N' Wash. Potty training is such a thrill.

My barn is stocked with sandbox toys and a red and yellow plastic car. The tractor sits outside in the elements, but it's happy to accommodate even if it does require extra washing.

Of course, these farm chores are interrupted by other household duties that any house momma knows: dishes to put away, laundry to spin, bottles to boil. Somewhere in the middle of all that, I might find a bathroom break for myself, but it would require too much effort to clean the dirt from my basil-plucking hands and shake off the chalk dust, so I just hold it. It's more fun to frollick in the fields to the song-birds (read Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Hot Dog song) and redecorate the front stoop in happy pigments.

There is no break. The farmer never stops. But she is GREATLY blessed. Her heart is full. Sleep is for the ..... hmm, who is sleep for again?

Happy Farming.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Chocolate Chip Cookies {Cake} Recipe

This is the second time I've used Sally's recipe and honestly, the results are so perfect and consistent that I can't help but blast it from the rooftops,


No really. Seriously, why aren't you getting out the ingredients right now?! The first time I used her recipe, I made two 9" round cookie cakes in pie pans. They were dense and delicious. I baked them about 10 minutes more than the suggested time, but every oven is different. I gave it the old jiggle test to see if it was done. (If it looks like jello, it's not done.)

This time, I used the SAME recipe to make just over 3 dozen drop cookies. The recipe probably would have made 4 dozen if I hadn't grazed sampled the dough. (Don't worry, I removed my sampling from the big bowl --- no germs shared, promise!)

These cookies were perfect at 350F for 9 minutes. I used my silpat (honestly, you should put that on your Christmas list because those are a life/pan saver) and then cooled on my stackable cooling racks (collapse nicely for efficient storage). At 9 minutes, the cookies looked puffy, but after cooling, they resembled the most perfect chocolate chip cookies. And after 2 days, they were still just as soft. Yep, soft. SOFT! I hate hard cookies.

So if you're looking for a tried and true cookie recipe to make for your kids' teachers (because they REALLY deserve cookies...every day), this is the one you should make. I will warn you, this recipe will totally NOT WORK if you do not measure your flour correctly. This is THE most crucial ingredient. You have been warned. If you use too much flour, you're going to need to add more of the other ingredients and just make more cookies. That's the only solution.

Happy Baking!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Giving Credit Where Credit is Due

Good game, Satan. You really know how to bring it. Some days I wish I could fight dirty like you, but that's just not how my team plays.

Satan is a formidable opponent. Surprisingly, I didn't realize this until the last month. I've often erred on the side of caution, reserving very little credit for Satan doing much of anything.....because I'm supposed to believe that my God is bigger than Satan, controls him, and only allows what He's approved, so technically, the Devil is weak. The truth is my God IS bigger than Satan; He does control him; and He only allows Satan to do what He has approved. I think about Job. God actually asked Satan if Satan had had a chance to check out Job's love and devotion to God.
Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? 10 Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” 12 And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.
- Job 1:6-12

God brought it up! Why in the world would God do a thing like that?! Is God crazy?! Doesn't God know that Job might be broken by all the terrible things Satan could do?! Yes. He knows. He also knows Job's beginning and end.....and everything in between.

Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.
- Psalm 139:16

God allows Satan to test us because the sifting ultimately is for our good and His glory. You see, Satan is trying his hardest to recruit an army against God on this earth. And I believe the folks he seeks and attacks the most, are those seeking God. Like those individuals searching for His salvation through Christ's substitutionary death, or those babes in Christ who desire to start a habit of digging into God's word, and even those who have been saved for years and are trying to spread the Gospel to the next generation. Satan knows that in order for him to gain a foothold, he's got to put all his weight into turning those who seek God, away from the Lord.
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
- 1 Peter 5:8-10

So Satan deserves some credit. He whispers lies to believers all day long, yearning to turn just one heart away. Passive acceptance of this reality is not an option.

I started two new Bible studies in the last few months. Both have me digging into God's Word,  shoveling fistfuls of rich truth in the garden of my heart. Satan sees that. He sees my desire to grow closer, to know better the God of all grace and comfort, so he's hitting me where it hurts. Lies he's been busily whispering in both my ears are common to every one of us: You're not worth it. You don't matter. You aren't loved. You have no value. No one sees you or hears you. No one cares. You are alone.

Honestly Satan, you've done a great job of convincing my heart momentarily that these lies must be accurate based on circumstances surrounding me. I've shed many tears. What if Satan is right?!

But your hard press has only made me more aware of the truth.

My God IS bigger than you, Satan. The Lord is in complete control. The Lord seeks my best.

It's TRUE that I'm not worth anything, that I don't matter, that I don't deserve an ounce of love, and that I am alone APART FROM CHRIST. Because of His death in my place, I am completely WORTH IT. I am completely LOVED. I am ENOUGH BECAUSE of Christ.

21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him.
- Colossians 1:21-22

Your plan of attack backfired, Satan. God is still winning. You can keep TRYING to turn all these WONDERFUL things like being a stay-at-home-mom of babies who whine, cry, and have leaky poop diapers, into TERRIBLE TRIALS. You can keep trying, but I'll keep fighting because of the One who redeemed me and loves me perfectly.

Resources: IF Equip: Acts & Good Morning Girls: You Are Loved

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Chicken Parmesan Recipe

Found this recipe on! It's rare that a dish gets a solid five stars after so many reviews, so I figured I'd give it a shot. I think the author measures out a bit more ingredients than are required, so I changed it a bit to avoid waste.

Despite being labor intensive, this recipe is a keeper. I made everything during nap time and then refrigerated the dish until dinner. Even though the dish and its contents were cold, I think it was a little overcooked at 15 minutes. All ovens are different, so keep an eye on your chicken parm!

  • 2lb Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2Tbs Flour
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2c Panko, seasoned
  • 1/2c Parmesan Cheese, grated
  • 2Tbs Olive Oil (for frying)
  • 1/2c Tomato Sauce
  • 1/4c Mozarella, cubed
  • 1/4c Fresh Basil, chopped
  • 1/2c Provolone, grated (OR 6 thin slices from deli)
  • 1/4c Parmesan Cheese, grated or shredded (I like it shredded for topping)
  • 1Tbs Olive Oil (for drizzling)
  1. Preheat oven to 450F.
  2. Pound chicken to 1/2" thickness. I like to toss my chicken breasts into a gallon ziplock bag, and pound with the back side of a cooking ladle. Unconventional, but the Calphalon ladle doesn't slice my bag and the bag keeps all of those funky chicken juices contained.
  3. Get out 3 shallow salad bowls. Place flour in the first bowl; beaten eggs in the second; combined panko and parmesan cheese in the third.
  4. Dip each breast into the three bowls: coat with flour, dunk in egg, toss into panko/parm. I personally like to go back and dunk in the egg and panko/parm a second time. I really like carbs.
  5. Lightly fry breasts until golden brown.
  6. Place breasts in 9x13" baking dish. 
  7. Top breasts with tomato sauce, mozzarella, fresh basil, provolone, and parmesan (in that order).
  8. Finally, drizzle some olive oil over the top and pop it in the oven for 15-20min.
  9. Make sure your chicken reaches 165F. We use a digital meat thermometer that keeps track of what kind meat you're cooking and what the suggested internal temp should be. If you don't have one of these, put it on your Christmas list!
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