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The Castle Kids, Cooking, and Creations

Welcome to my little blogging corner of the world. I started this blog in 2009 after a request for cooking help from some of my real-life friends. I am revamping a little to better fit my lifestyle, and I hope to share some of the good times and crazines

Updated: 2018-03-21T23:16:45.363-05:00


Crockpot Yogurt


I don't know how much yogurt you eat at your house, but I can tell you that all five of my kids {yes, even the baby} devour yogurt.  I spend several dollars every week buying all of the little plastic tubs or colorful squeeze yogurts to pack in their school lunches or to use as snacks.  I use a lot of coupons during my shopping trips (one day maybe I'll blog about that), and I always use yogurt coupons to get the very best price.  Even my coupons couldn't get yogurt as cheap as making it from scratch, though!  The process is a long one, but it is super easy.

You'll need a large crockpot.  Set it on low.  Take 1/2 a gallon of milk and pour it into the crockpot.  Let it warm for 2.5 hours.  It should reach 180 degrees, but I didn't actually take its temp, and mine worked out fine.  Just saying.  ;)  After the 2.5 hours, turn the crockpot off and let the milk cool for three hours (again, it's "supposed" to reach 115 degrees, but if you don't know for certain it's really okay).  When it has cooled, remove two cups of the milk and add it to 1/2 cup of plain yogurt with active cultures.  I used a store brand plain yogurt...nothing fancy.  Stir this together then pour it back into the crockpot with the rest of the milk.  Wrap a bath towel around the whole crockpot and leave it for 8-12 hours. 

Here's some trivia about myself.  I don't like yogurt.  Never have.  When I was two I had spinal meningitis.  The doctor suggested giving the antibiotics to me with yogurt.  I STILL remember the taste of that and associate it with the medicine and being sick.  I did try a bite of this.  It tastes like yogurt. ;)  I served it to my children right out of the crockpot for breakfast.  I added frozen strawberries to give it some sweetness.  You can add whatever toppings or flavors you like.  I've heard of people putting in vanilla one teaspoon at a time until they got the desired flavor.  You can also drizzle honey on top for added sweetness. 

Keep in mind that this yogurt will be fairly watery.  That's the whey.  You can strain it off with a thin wired strainer and cheese cloth.  Just let it strain for 8ish hours AFTER it sits for the 8-12 hours in the crockpot.  It should produce about two cups of whey.  You can throw that out, or I have heard that there are bread recipes that turn out really well.  As you can see, I am storing mine in Mason jars.  Mostly because they look cute.  You could use plastic containers with lids.  The yogurt will stay good for up to two weeks in the fridge.  Don't forget to save 1/2 cup of your yogurt to use as a starter in your next batch! 

Finally a New Recipe...Mini Pecan Pie Muffins


I whipped these up this morning for a breakfast treat.  I made them two days ago, as well, but didn't get a chance to take a picture.  You see, when you're feeding seven people, food goes fast.  REALLY fast.  I honestly put them on my pretty serving tray so I could get this great shot, but when I came back with my phone, they were gone.  I am not kidding.  I am terrified of their teenage years.  So anyway...I decided to give it another go this morning.  I was able to hold them off of the muffins long enough to get a photo by feeding them yogurt while I was getting the shot.  Had to pull out my bag of Mama tricks, y'all.

This recipe was a Pinterest find, and I can promise you that it is a keeper.  You make them in a mini-muffin pan, so they're just the perfect size to pop in your mouth!  Make sure you have a cold glass of milk handy.  Or coffee.  Or in my case both. 

Here's the Pinterest recipe where I found them.  Happy eating!

Oh Two-dles! A Topiary DIY


As I mentioned in my last post, our sweet Nella Caroline will be two on February 5.  To celebrate, we decided to throw her a small family party that was centered around her love for Minnie Mouse.  Are these invitations not the cutest?!  My friend Sarah made them.  The "party" ended up just being our family of seven plus my parents, which was perfect for our reserved Nella.  She had a great time with all of her new "Nin-Nay" (as she pronounces it) stuff.  She even got a Minnie potty so that we can try to get that girl out of diapers! We'll see how that goes...

For decoration, I decided to try to make one of these Minnie topiaries on my own. Here's how I did it.
I used:
~a large styrofoam ball
~two small styrofoam balls
~a piece of styrofoam for the bottom of the clay pot (I used a cone that I had leftover from a previous project.  I cut the tip off s it sat flat.)
~hot glue
~two toothpicks
~tissue paper
~fake flowers that I pulled off of a Hawaiian lei
~a 3/16x 36" dow rod that I cut down to 3/16x12'
~a small clay pot
~Krylon "watermelon" hot pink spray paint
~black spray paint
~a large permanent marker

I started by spray painting the clay pot a hot pink.  It took several coats, and was covered with dead grass at the end, but I got it done!  Between coats of hot pink, I spray painted all of the styrofoam balls, and the dow rod, black.  After all of the paint was dry, I drew black polkadots onto the pot with a permanent marker.  Then I began the assembly.  I placed my extra piece of styrofoam at the bottom of the pot, and hot glued it in place a little. 

I used toothpicks to hold the smaller balls onto the larger one as Minnie's ears.  I then stuck one end of the dow rod into Minnie's "head," and the other end into the secured piece at the bottom of the pot.  I needed a filler, so I used old tissue paper to stuff down into the clay pot.  This is really the trick to hold the extra piece in well!  I then hot glued the fake flowers onto the tissue paper & made Minnie a quick bow to give her a finished look.  That was a quick & simple project to liven up the party table.  The best part was that it was WAY cheaper than the $20 that the etsy shop has them for! For those of you who know me in real life, you know I'm way too cheap for that price!

Trying to Start Back Up...and Making Changes


(image) Hello BlogWorld!  It's been many {MANY} months since I've typed anything on here.  There have been a lot of changes in our world, so blogging and recipe-testing took a back seat.  Let me fill you in a little...

I had just had a baby girl when I stopped blogging before.  She will be TWO on Tuesday.  Unreal.  When she was four months old we decided that we had outgrown our (very small) home, so we put it on the market and started building a new (much bigger) home on a couple of acres in a small town.  We were so excited that all four children would have their own bedroom!  Three months into the building process (when Nella was only six months old!), we found out Baby#5 was on the way!!  We moved into our new home in November, and welcomed Hattie Scarlett on May 11, 2012.  In August, three days before school was to start, the principal from the elementary school in our new town called me in to talk to me about a second grade position that had just opened up.  He offered me the job, and I took it.  I had missed teaching, and of course we could always use the extra money, so it seemed like a great idea!  Talk about a crazy couple of days preparing for a teaching job while searching for someone willing to keep the babies and our four-year-old on the eight days/month we needed a sitter.  Hattie wouldn't (and still won't) take a bottle, so the sitter needed to be able to bring the baby to me each day at lunch to nurse.  Luckily my mother-in-law volunteered to take off from her job to help us out until we could find such a person, and we have since found someone who has been working out!  So yeah...things have been INSANE as of late, but life is good.  We have already told my principal that I won't be returning next year, as we quickly realized that juggling five small children (and all of their activities/homework/parties/etc), running a household, and working is not right for our family.  The job has been a great learning experience for all of us, and we are thankful to have tried it out!

I still try to cook as often as I can, and I still love trying new recipes.  Pinterest has become my favorite website.  There are so many great recipes to try out from that site!  I have also become obsessed with crafting.  I have NEVER been a crafty person, but Pinterest brings it out in me.  That being said, I have decided to start back up on this blog, but it won't be just recipes anymore.  I am going to show off my family, crafts & DIYs, recipes, gardening, and anything else that I feel like sharing.  I am super-excited about this new blogging adventure, and I certainly hope that at least some of you will read!

Semi-spicy Chicken Legs


I have to admit that I have jumped on board the coupon train. I have been loving the savings, and being a long-time stay-at-home-mom, it just gives me something to do that challenges me a little. Extreme Couponing on TLC is NOT how I got involved in this, however. As a matter of fact, we don't have cable or satellite, so I don't even get to watch it! I got interested when several other moms I know where posting their cheap grocery purchases on Facebook. I had to figure out how they were doing these amazing transactions. Turns out, a mom I used to attend church with had started doing free coupon classes and had started a blog. I got on her blog and taught myself a few of her tricks. Since then, I've been hooked! If you're interested in learning about couponing, I highly suggest you check out Carrie's blog. She also has a Facebook page called "Coupon Closet."

Some of the cheapest things I consistently purchase are chicken legs. I can get a package for under $1, so I have a freezer full. I was trying to figure out what to do with all of them when I came across a recipe that sounded interesting. I tweaked it and came up with something that was perfect for my family. The meat was so moist and tender, and they were just slightly spicy. My kids and my niece gobbled them up!


12 chicken legs
1/4 cup butter (cubed)
5 ounces hot sauce (Tabasco or Louisiana Hot Sauce)
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste


Place the chicken legs in the bottom of your crockpot. Mine had to sit on top of each other, but they cooked fine! Toss in the cubed butter pieces, and pour in the hot sauce, trying to evenly cover each leg. This sounds like a lot of hot sauce, but there is really very little spice after it cooks. Sprinkle with all of the seasonings, and cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for three (this is what I did).

Santa Fe Chicken


Wow! It has been so long since I have posted a recipe. I promise that I have been feeding my family, but we've been going the simple route lately (lots of sandwiches and frozen foods). With a new baby in the house and three other small children needing attention, cooking has been the last thing on my mind. I'm so thankful for amazing friends who have helped keep us well-fed over the last month. We had several nights of delicious homecooking thanks to them! One of the meals that was brought was this Santa Fe Chicken. My friend Jordana made it for us, and we all just loved it! It is super-easy and extremely kid-friendly since it involves chicken and chips. I'm making two batches of it tonight to "pay it forward" to a friend of mine who is having health issues and who also has four small children. Hopefully they enjoy it as much as we did!

Here's a treat for you all for being so patient with me. Our sweet Nella had a photoshoot with Randy Coleman Photography when she was eleven days old...isn't she gorgeous? Of course I think so!
1 package boneless/skinless chicken breasts (I used tenders.)
1/2 bag Chili Cheese Fritos (crushed)
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 425.

Coat both sides of the chicken with mayonnaise. Dip the coated chicken into the crushed Fritos. Make sure to get chips on both sides. Place the chicken pieces in a 9x13 casserole dish. Spray the tops of the chicken pieces with cooking spray. Bake uncovered for 25 minutes, or until chicken is done.

Thanks for your recipe, Jordana!




Nella Caroline

Born: February 5, 2011 @3:32 a. m.

7 pounds 6 ounces
20 inches long

My very precious reason for not blogging or cooking much these last nine months!

Weekly Meal Plan


What's the weather like where you live? Here in Oklahoma City, we are having the first snow fall of the season. So far, it's light and not sticking around, but another storm is supposed to bring more in tomorrow.

Cold and snow make me want to cook lots of calorie-filled, delicious, comfort foods. Are you like that? I also LOVE using my crockpot when we are "hibernating" during the winter. Smelling our dinner cooking all day just makes our home seem even cozier!

Here's what's on our plan for this week...a lot of these are repeats from last week because I ended up doing very little cooking again.

Monday--Buffalo chicken chili (I didn't get to make it last week.)

Tuesday--Chicken and cheese quesadillas, avocado slices

Wednesday--Our big baby girl turns seven, so we'll take her out for her birthday dinner!

Thursday--These ham and cheese pinwheels, salad

Friday--Homemade pizza night, broccoli and cauliflower salad

Saturday--Taco soup with tortilla chips and avocado, cornbread

Sunday--Breakfast for dinner

I'm going to be baking this easy pumpkin bread and these M&M cookies this week, too.

Overnight French Toast


I mixed this up last night after I put the kids to bed and then baked it this morning. I thought it would be good, but I had no idea that my family would eat every.last.bite. Oh my! I can already see the day when I'll be making two casserole dishes to feed these hungry mouths. Heaven help our grocery bill!!

I wasn't even able to get a picture of it because it was gone that fast! This recipe was adapted from Mommy's Kitchen.

1/2 cup butter (melted)
12 slices bread (I used wheat, but any kind will do.)
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
5 eggs
1.5 cups milk

Pour the melted butter into the bottom of a 9x13 casserole dish. Place six slices of bread over the butter.

In a small bowl, mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle half of it over the bread slices. Place the remaining slices on top of the first six slices.

In a larger bowl, whisk the eggs, vanilla, and milk together. Pour this mixture over all of the bread, making sure it is all coated evenly. Sprinkle the remaining cinnamon/sugar mixture over the entire pan. Cover with foil and allow to chill in the refrigerator all night.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350. Take off original foil and replace with a new piece. Bake for 30 minutes. Take out of oven and remove foil. Place back in the oven for 15 minutes uncovered. Remove and pour syrup over the top. Place back in the oven for five minutes to allow the syrup to warm.

Happy New Year!


I am resolving to start posting more this year. For the last six months, we have been in "survival mode," as my husband calls it. I was super sick for the first 23 weeks of this pregnancy, then I was on bedrest for three weeks, then Thanksgiving and Christmas hit, as well as birthday parties for two of my three kids. I just have not been cooking much. We have eaten a lot of sandwiches, frozen pizza *hangs head in shame,* and take-out. No wonder I've gained more weight with this baby than any of my others! ;)

Anyway, I am resolving to get back in the kitchen to share some more great recipes with you. I also intend to start back up with my Meatless Monday posts and Monday Meal Plans, though I actually think I'm going to make them into Sunday Weekly Meal Plans. All of this will start happening this week, but then I will take a few weeks off when our baby arrives (which probably won't be much longer based on my previous births). Please bare with me as we transition into a family of SIX!

So, let's start off with this week's meal plan, shall we?

Monday--Creamy spinach & artichoke pasta, tossed salad, French bread

Tuesday--Buffalo Chicken Chili, cornbread

Wednesday--Pepperoni pizza (using this recipe for crust), Caesar salad, carrot sticks with ranch dressing

Thursday--Split pea soup, crackers, and Chocolate Sheath cake for dessert

Friday--leftovers night

Saturday--Hard tacos, pinto beans, sliced avocados

Sunday--Mexican cornbread, leftover pinto beans, and coleslaw

Red Velvet Cookies (for Santa!)


Merry Christmas Eve! This month has just flown by. We've had stuff going on pretty much every day and night recently, so I apologize for the lack of posts. The kids and I just made these super-easy cookies for Santa. I love that they are red and white like Santa's wardrobe. :)

1 box red velvet cake mix
2 eggs
1/3 cup oil
1 cup white chocolate chips (0ptional)

Frosting Ingredients:

1 package cream cheese (softened)
1/4 cup butter (softened)
2 teaspoons milk (I added a little more than this.)
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350.

In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the cake mix, oil, and eggs. Stir in the white chips. Spoon dough onto cookie sheet and flatten slightly. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until tops are crackly. Let cool completely.

Frosting Directions:
In a mixing bowl, cream the cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Add in the milk and vanilla and mix well. Pour in the sugar and mix until combined. Frost the cooled cookies. Store cookies in the refrigerator.

Teriyaki Drumsticks & Easy Veggie Fried Rice


I made this meal tonight and our six-year-old daughter claims that it was the best dinner she has ever had! We even went out for ice cream afterwards and she said that the dinner was better than her ice cream. Ha!

Teriyaki Chicken Ingredients:
3 tablespoons olive oil
10 drumsticks
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup brown sugar (firmly packed)
1 cup water

In a large saute pan, heat the oil. Place the drumsticks in the hot oil and brown for a few minutes.

While the chicken is browning, combine the remaining ingredients. Pour the sauce over the drumsticks and cook uncovered for about 30 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Spoon the sauce over the chicken when serving.
Easy Veggie Fried Rice Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups water
2 cups Minute Rice
1/2 bag frozen mixed veggies
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 eggs
6 tablespoons olive oil (divided in half)

In a wok or saute pan, heat 3 tablespoons oil. Scramble the eggs until done, but not too dry. Remove them from the pan and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a medium-sized pot, bring the water, veggies, and soy sauce to a boil. Add the rice and cook until tender and liquid has been absorbed.

Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil and transfer the cooked rice to the wok. Add the eggs. Stir fry the mixture for about five minutes.

Double Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake


I made this on Sunday and it was gobbled up so fast! This was actually my first baked cheesecake. I couldn't believe how easy it was. If you need a fast and friendly Thanksgiving dessert recipe for tomorrow, try this one. I found it here and tweaked it to fit the ingredients that I had on hand.

Have a terrific Thanksgiving holiday!!
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 (9 inch) prepared graham cracker crust

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Blend in eggs one at a time. Remove 1 cup of the batter and spread into bottom of crust; set aside. Add pumpkin, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice to the remaining batter and stir gently until well blended. Carefully spread over the batter in the crust. Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until center is almost set. Allow to cool, then refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight.

Taco Pasta


It's been a while since I have posted an actual meal, hasn't it? It's not that I haven't been cooking's more that I haven't been experimenting too much. I guess I was in a slump, but this is COOKING week, and I am in the mood to try stuff out!

I found this recipe here. She posts a ton of gluten-free recipes, so her blog may interest some of you a lot. This particular recipe caught my eye because it was so simple, yet sounded perfect to make since all of the ingredients were already in my kitchen. The best part was that it took only minutes to prepare. I love meals like that!

We are having this for lunch today, so I can't say if it was a hit or not, but I'm sure it will be!

Pics to come. :)

1 pound ground meat
1 package mini shell pasta noodles
1 can chopped green chilies
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 package taco seasoning
cheddar cheese (grated)

Preheat oven to 350.

Boil the noodles al dente and drain. Brown and drain your ground meat. To the ground meat, add the taco seasoning, chilies, and tomato sauce. Mix well. Pour into a 9x13 baking dish. Top with shredded cheddar. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Fruit and Yogurt Muffins


I got out of bed a few minutes early to bake these muffins this morning. We are out of groceries, and I mean OUT. Tomorrow is grocery day...thank goodness! Thankfully, I had one egg, one container of yogurt, and 1/2 bag of frozen blueberries. This worked out perfectly for a super-delicious breakfast! They only took about five minutes to mix up and then 25 minutes to bake, so by the time the kids were dressed, we had a hot breakfast. These muffins were seriously so moist, and may just be our new favorite!

These could be adapted with any flavor yogurt and any fresh or frozen fruit. I think I'll try strawberry yogurt with frozen strawberries next time.

My husband took a picture of them, but we haven't downloaded it yet, so I'll post it soon.

I found this recipe here. She's always posting great recipes!

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 8-ounce container yogurt, any flavor (I used strawberries and cream.)
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons butter, melted
2 cups fresh or frozen fruit (I used blueberries.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin cups or line with paper muffin liners.

Stir together flour, sugar, baking soda and baking powder. In a separate bowl, combine yogurt, egg, vanilla, butter and fruit. Stir mixtures together just until combined (batter will be very thick). The batter was so thick that I had a hard time stirring it, so I poured in a tiny bit of milk to thin it out. Scoop into prepared muffin cups.

Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes.

Meal Plan Monday


We're taking things down to a very simple level with the cooking that is going on in our kitchen. I've been having some minor pregnancy complications, which put me on modified bedrest for the last two weeks. Ugh! We had an ultrasound two weeks ago, and baby girl looks perfect, so no worries. My pregnancies are just never "typical," which is hard to accept when you're as busy as I am. I am out of bed now, and just taking it easy, which is why our dinners are simple enough for my hubby to whip up for us if he needs!

Monday--Chicken & Biscuits using this filling and canned biscuits, steamed broccoli, S'mores pie for dessert. I really want to try Kate's entire pot pie, but I don't want to make the crust from scratch right now. I can't wait to try it soon, though!

Tuesday--Sandwich night since Jer is at the station

Wednesday--Spaghetti noodles, meatless marinara sauce, frozen garlic bread, carrot sticks with ranch

Thursday--Bacon mac and cheese, salad, orange slices

Friday--Waffles, fruit salad, orange juice

Saturday--Take-out or pizza delivery

Sunday--Sandwiches again since Jer is back to the station

Happy Halloween!


We had our neighborhood trick-or-treat last night, so today we're all coming down from a candy high. :) I hope you had a fun time with your little "treats"...we certainly did. I didn't get to go trick-or-treating (Daddy took all three), but I enjoyed having friends over for a potluck dinner and then passing out candy to the kiddos.

The past week was a busy one! We had the kids' school carnival and their class parties. I had signed up to bring cookies for my daughter's first grade class, with big intentions of baking something fun. Well, pregnancy complications have me off of my feet, so I had to come up with something else. Thankfully, one of my Facebook friends posted a picture of these cute little goodies and I immediately knew that I could easily sit at the table and prepare them. I seriously made them in less than ten minutes! So simple and cute!!

1 package fudge stripe cookies (My friend used Keebler mint cookies instead.)
1 package Hershey kisses (unwrapped)
1 tube gel icing (I used green, but any color would work.)


Turn the fudge stripe cookies upside down so that you see the chocolate coating part of the cookie. Use the icing to make a circle around the hole in the cookie. Place a Hershey kiss on top of the icing. Allow a few minutes to set.

A Day Late on My Meal Plan...


I'm just going to get right on it since I'm a day late. Our days go by so quickly that sometimes I lose track of which day is that a sign of old age?? I'm having to keep things pretty simple, as I'm not supposed to be on my feet a ton. With three previous preterm babies, my OB doesn't take any chances.

Monday--Pork Chops with Cinnamon & Brown Sugar Apples, steamed broccoli

Tuesday--Bacon, eggs, and biscuits We have spent all day at our four-year-old's field trip, so we're tired!

Wednesday--Grilled cheese and tomato soup

Thursday--Cheese quesadillas, pinto beans, avocado slices

Friday--Pizza night

Saturday--Mummy dogs, corn on the cob, fruit salad

Sunday--Dinner at my parents' house...yay!

Pork Chops with Cinnamon & Brown Sugar Apples


I recently had my hair cut by a new girl named Michelle. While she was cutting, we were discussing food. She told me about this recipe that she had recently made. I'm normally not a fan of pork, but this sounded too good not to try. Boy, am I glad I tried it...the apples alone are to die for! We never discussed measurements, so I don't have an actual "recipe" today. I eyed everything and it turned out great!

Pictures to come!

4 boneless pork chops (salt and pepper each side well)
3 apples (peeled and thinly sliced) I used Red Delicious apples.
1/2 stick butter
brown sugar

In a large sautee pan, spread the sliced apples in a thin layer. Sprinkle with a generous amount of brown sugar and cinnamon. Top with the butter cut into pieces. Cover the pan and cook over low-medium until a syrup begins to form.

When the syrup forms, move the apples over enough to give each pork chop a place to rest. Replace the lid and allow to cook for about seven minutes. Flip the pork chops/stir the apples and leave the lid off. Cook the chops for another 15 minutes or until done. I served this with a side of steamed broccoli. Simple and delish!

Pumpkin Spice Cake


I know that I've been swamping you guys with lots of baked good and not so many meals. I apologize. I have actually cooked quite a few new meals, but just haven't felt like posting them. Hopefully I'll get around to posting them this week.

With Halloween just six days away, I decided to "treat" you guys with another fantastic pumpkin and cream cheese recipe (this is for you, Amanda!). I was in the mood to bake earlier today, and I mixed this up in about ten minutes. So quick, so easy, and so delicious!

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 3/4 cup brown sugar
4 eggs
1 can pumpkin
1 cup oil
1/2 cup pecans (chopped) *I didn't have any today. :(

1 package cream cheese
1 stick butter (softened)
4 cups powdered sugar
1.5 teaspoons vanilla
1 tablespoon milk (more if needed)

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix together the dry ingredients. Add the eggs, pumpkin, and oil. Blend in the nuts if you have them. Pour into a 9x13 casserole dish or mini loaf pans. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until done. Let cool completely. Frost. Refrigerate to store.

Meal Plan


I'm a day late, but I just didn't have much energy yesterday to even think up my weekly meal plan. I hope this Tuesday finds you all well!

Monday--My brother made us goulash, so I didn't have to cook!

Tuesday--Maple Glazed Meatballs over rice with steamed broccoli (Our friend made us these when I was so sick earlier this summer. I'm just taking them straight from the freezer to the crockpot. They're great freezer-friendly meals!)

Wednesday--Ranch mac & cheese (recipe coming!) with steamed peas

Thursday--Hot dog & marshmallow roast with our friends 3DudesandaDiva after she takes our family Christmas card pics

Friday--Leftover spaghetti sauce from this recipe over pasta (It makes a ton!), with a salad

Saturday--Grilled chicken drumsticks, baked potatoes, green beans

Sunday--Sausage & potatoes and ?? side

Pumpkin Bars


October means pumpkin patches, pumpkin carving, pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin waffles, and pumpkin bars. I'll admit that I probably overuse pumpkin during the fall, but my kids love the taste; it's healthy, and great in so many recipes!

This was actually my first time to make pumpkin bars, but they are a new favorite! I got this recipe here. She has so many great recipes to try, and she agrees that these pumpkin bars are fabulous!

I do have pictures, but haven't downloaded them quite yet. They should be up later this evening.

Bar Ingredients:
4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup butter, melted
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Frosting Ingredients:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional, but definitely needed, in my opinion!)

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large mixing bowl of an electric mixer, beat the eggs well, add in the sugar and butter and mix well. Add the pumpkin and vanilla and mix. Add the flour and spices and mix well. Spread in a 9 x 13-inch greased pan. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until done. Allow to completely cool.

For the frosting: In a small bowl, beat cream cheese, butter, vanilla and powdered sugar until just mixed. Stir in pecans. When the bars are cool, frost. Cut into squares and serve.

Meal Plan Monday


It's time to plan our meals for the week. Tomorrow is grocery day for us, so I have to put lots of ingredients on my list! I shop once every two weeks, with quick trips in between for milk, bread, and bananas. Some of the links below are to my recipes, and some are recipes that I plan to try for the first time.

I don't usually plan out our breakfasts and lunches, since we usually eat leftovers for lunch (the kids take sandwiches to school) and I make whatever strikes my fancy for breakfast. The meals below are for our dinners.

Monday--Leftover turkey sausage & spinach lasagna (made by a friend) with toast

Tuesday--Spicy cheese soup (recipe to come)

Wednesday--Chicken stuffed shells (This recipe is for chicken lasagna, but I'm using jumbo shells instead.), Caesar salad, French bread

Thursday--Roasted chicken, steamed veggies, Sweetie Pie's mac & cheese

Friday--Use leftover roasted chicken in this white chicken chili

Saturday--Sandwiches & leftovers night

Sunday--I'm making a big batch of Carie's Marinara Sauce, so we'll eat some of it with a pasta.

Granola Bars


My online friend Carie shared this recipe, and I just had to give it a try. I'm always looking for new breakfast ideas for my kids, and these should be great for that. I do have to say that I don't think they have the typical granola bar texture. They're more of a "healthy cookie" texture, but my kids will love that! I'll just wrap them individually in plastic wrap and voila--quick and healthy breakfast!

2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup wheat germ or ground flax seed (I used milled flax seed.)
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup all-purpose flour (or ¾ cup all-purpose flour & ¼ cup soy flour or sorghum flour)
3/4 cup raisins (optional)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup honey
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I forgot to set it out for the picture.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Generously grease a 9x13 inch baking pan.

In a large bowl, mix together the oats, brown sugar, wheat germ, cinnamon, flour, raisins and salt. Make a well in the center, and pour in the honey, egg, oil and vanilla. Mix well using your hands or a spatula. Pat the mixture evenly into the prepared pan.

Bake 25-30 minutes in the preheated oven, until the bars begin to turn golden at the edges. Cool for 5 minutes, then cut into bars while still warm. Do not allow the bars to cool completely before cutting, or they will be too hard to cut.

Menu Planning


I love to menu plan. It makes my grocery shopping *so* much easier, and our evenings run much smoother if I have something in mind before going into the kitchen. It also allows me to set out frozen meat if need be, or put dinner in the crockpot before heading out the door. Life with three kids is crazy enough without flying blind at dinnertime!

Having said all that, I am going to start listing my menu plans for the week each Monday. It'll be great to have it written here for my own use, but it might also give you an idea for dinner if you're in a slump.

I'm still planning to return to Meatless Monday posts as soon as I feel good 100% of the time. I just can't commit to coming up with new meatless recipes at this point in my pregnancy, but it shouldn't be too much longer before I can ditch the meds and get back to normal!

Monday--Pinto beans cooked with ham pieces, cornbread, butter cake for dessert (recipe soon!)

Tuesday--Beef stroganoff, green beans

Wednesday--Soft tacos with all the fixins', leftover pinto beans

Thursday--Date night for Jer and I, so the kids will have leftover soft tacos

Friday--Round steak in tomatoes, mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli

Saturday--Spaghetti, tossed salad, French bread

Sunday--Sunday pot roast