Monday, March 30, 2009

Sous Chef Mo's Fantastic Meal

I am SO excited to write and share this post with you, my fellow foodies!! Why, you ask? Well, because it gives me the opportunity to brag just a wee little bit about one of my kiddos. For those that know me personally, you know that I am not one to boast about myself (not much to boast about anyway, hee hee) and that Marty and I are passionate about teaching humbleness and graciousness to our children. God, in all His goodness, gives us all special gifts and talents, but to boast about those talents and gifts can be a huge stumbling block, not to mention how rude it comes across to others! Do you know what I'm talking about? Do you ever run into someone and think to yourself.."Oh, why did I stop to talk to her/him? All they ever do is talk about me, me me! They won the ballgame, their kids are the smartest, their family is traveling to Barbados for the holidays..blah blah blah!" I don't ever want to be thought of that way, and I CERTAINLY don't want my kids to be THAT person either!! :) Sorry about that tangent....anyway, I'm not sharing this post with you to pat myself on the back for being the "perfect" Mom who has taught her children many of life's skills and we're certainly not on our way to Barbados for Spring Break, I'm posting this because I am incredibly proud of my precious daughter for showing initiative, responsibility and helpfulness in preparing a wonderful meal for dinner while Sarah and I wrapped up our Spring cupcakes. After all, this blog IS about being a fellow foodie and I DID begin my blog to share recipes and fun experiences and we're all sort of an extended family and you deeply wish to share in the fun too-right? Right! So, bear with me as I step aside as the cook and narrate for you an incredible recipe prepared by Megan (a.k.a. Sous Chef Mo-her friends call her Mo and she's been our helper with the bakery so Sous Chef Mo has stuck as her nick name.) I promise to keep myself in "check" and not become too obnoxious bragging about Megan or become one of THOSE people that you won't want to come back and visit me here in my kitchen. K? K!

Here it goes;
Last week Sarah and I had already set aside Friday for baking with the kids and then late Thursday we found out that our husbands had both been offered (and accepted) tickets to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen Tournament held downtown, so it was a no brainer to turn our baking day into a full festival and share dinner together as well. We became so consumed with the cupcakes that we didn't realize that dinner time was upon us and we were nowhere near ready to quit working with our flowered cupcakes. Sarah had brought all the ingredients to prepare her Mom's yummy meatloaf, but after checking out Pioneer Woman's website earlier in the day we decided to change plans and fix the yummy meatballs we saw on her site. Megan overheard us discussing the lateness of the day and our dinner plans and before we knew it, she had pulled up Pioneer Woman's website, began setting out all the ingredients called for and started mixing things up. I casually grabbed the camera to start documenting her first attempt at preparing a meal on her own and tried really hard not to tear up while taking these shots. AWWW-I'm such a blubbering idiot when it comes to my kids!

Here's our chef with Pioneer Woman's recipe pulled up on Sarah's laptop ready to follow the detailed instructions. Pioneer Woman also had fantastic photos (of course) that really helped her understand what she was to do.
After mixing all the ingredients together Mo used a cookie dough scoop to assure similar sized meatballs and placed them on a cookie sheet ready to go into the freezer for a few minutes to firm up a little. Again, she kept a close eye on the pictures from Pioneer Woman's post. Side note...Don't you just LOVE Pioneer Woman?! I'm telling ya, I think she's Superwoman! She cooks, writes, blogs, is an amazing photographer and still has time to home school her four adorable kids. UGH-I'm a Pioneer Woman wanna be, but too much of a slacker to even be considered in the same category! :) The only thing we have in common is that we both have four adorable kids, but I'm not bragging or anything...
The meatballs have firmed up nicely and Sous Chef Mo is ready to brown those little babies up. I was a little nervous allowing her to work with hot oil, but she proved to be very careful and competent at being aware of the danger. Look, even the pan handle is turned in so that it doesn't accidentally get knocked and cause possible injury. (I hope Sarah's husband doesn't notice all the flour on and around their laptop-and we certainly weren't allowing her to fry food that near the computer either! Come to think of it he may never let her come and cook again if he does see this! Sorry Mike-we promise to be more careful next time.)
After lightly browning the meatballs, but not cooking all the way through, she placed them into a baking dish ready for the oven. She actually doubled the recipe and filled two 13X9 dishes. She was quite busy with meatballs for some time.

Pioneer Woman's meatball recipe called for homemade Bbq sauce to be poured over the browned meatballs, but since it was already well past our dinner time, I handed her a bottle of our favorite sauce (Sweet Baby Ray's) to use. She rather enjoyed free reign pouring the sauce over all those little meatballs, after all, what kid doesn't make silly comments about the noise a squeeze bottle makes when it's almost empty? C'mon, I know you know what I'm talking about! Don't be all prim and proper, you probably think it too!
After baking in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes, we were ready to sit and savor Sous Chef Mo's incredible dinner. And incredible it was!! The meatballs were served alongside a simple salad (because there was absolutely no counter space to fix anything else), and with the lateness of the evening the salad was a perfect addition to the meal.

Well done my precious daughter!! You make me incredibly proud! There-I'll stop there with the accolades so that all our readers won't begin hurling because of my abounding pride and praises to you and will again return to my blog for future food and fun.
After dinner, Meg still had the energy to comfort and love on Sarah's daughter, Hannah. Too precious!! She's going to be one amazing wife and mother some day!! Not too soon though, daughter of mine, let me treasure these quickly passing years as your mom and allow me these fleeting moments to watch you as you grow into the beautiful, talented young woman God wants you to be. I'm loving every second of it!

From the heart of my (and Megan's) kitchen to yours may your experience be fun and the food always flavorful! Enjoy!

Barbeque Meatballs

1 1/2 pounds ground beef
3/4 cup oats
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons very finely minced onion
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
plenty of ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Combine all meatball ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Roll into medium-small balls and place on a cookie sheet. Place sheet in freezer for five minutes.

Remove from freezer and immediately dredge in unseasoned flour.

In a skillet over medium heat, brown the meatballs in canola oil until just brown. Place into a baking dish.

Combine all sauce ingredients and then pour evenly over the top of the meatballs. (OR-grab your favorite, store bought sauce and do the same) Now just pop 'em in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes. You'll know they're done when your house smells so good you want to marry it! They should be sizzling around the edges. Mmmm! (Directly quoted from Pioneer Woman) :)


1 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire
4 to 6 tablespoons onion
Dash of Tabasco

Source: The Amazing Pioneer Woman

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Spring Has Sprung Cupcakes

Yes, Spring has sprung here in the mid-west and the creative minds at Decadent Dreams Bakery have been working over time baking up sugary, yummy goodies to celebrate the newness of the season. Contrary to what you may believe with my lack of posting, we have been extremely busy in the kitchen, however, everything we've created has been sold and shipped immediately out the door. Fantastic for our new business, not so great for food blogging or little ones who have begun begging their Mom to bake treats that actually remain in the house for them to enjoy. :)
Yesterday, the kids were blissfully happy to have begun their spring break and Sarah and I had previously promised my girls that we would spend the day playing in the kitchen and working on some adorable cupcakes. We've been patiently waiting for the perfect opportunity to work with fondant and FINALLY had the entire day to play, play, play! Seriously, we were as giddy as two little girls in a candy shop when we started coloring the fondant. :)
Our little Sous Chef Mo (my 11-year old daughter) also doubled as our photographer capturing our day of fun on "film". Sarah is working with the pink flowers and I was rolling out the pastel blue to begin cutting flowers.
Here are all 90+ flowers cut and waiting to be placed on the tops of the cupcakes. Aren't they absolutely adorable!
This was my favorite part of our day...watching my baby delicately placing her flowers on her cupcake. She was so precise in where her flowers went and I loved watching her little fingers at work. You can see that Sous Chef Mo was not only busy with the camera but she also took time to mentor her baby sister with the art of fondant. An amazing day in the kitchen with my daughters, sharing tons of laughs with my friend/partner, more beautiful baked goods to offer for our bakery and memories that will last a lifetime. All add up to such a successful day!

If you're wondering...yes, the cute little cupcakes remained at home for my precious little ones to savor and enjoy!

Thanks for allowing me to share with you our latest fun creation! I hope you've enjoyed my recap of our day! Coming up in my next post; I'll be sharing with you the delicious dinner that Sous Chef Mo prepared all on her own as Sarah and I put the final touches on our cupcakes. I'm SO proud!!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Taco Pizza

Mexican food is a favorite in our family, especially tacos. Hard, soft, chicken or beef, it never matters and is always consumed with great fervor and I rarely have to package any leftovers. I was looking for a variation of tacos when I stumbled upon this recipe. I had all the ingredients except for the pizza crust, but quickly remedied that. I was incredibly pleased with how quickly and easily this came together and was ready to eat, especially for a weeknight dinner at our busy home. The reviews from my clan were all "thumbs-up" which was evident by the empty platter! The only change I will make the next time I prepare this is to make TWO pizzas instead of one.
Browned ground-beef, refried beans, salsa and taco seasoning ready to mix together. So, so simple!
My favorite addition to the pizza....crushed Fritos. Yummy. :)
Finally, topped with shredded cheese and ready to go into the oven. Voila-dinner is ready.

Taco Pizza

1 can refried beans
1 package taco seasonings
1 1/2 cup browned ground beef, drained well (I used 1 1b. for lots of meat)
Shredded cheddar cheese
Taco chips (I used my favorite..Fritos)
3/4 cup salsa
1 prepared pizza crust-preferably deep dish

In skillet or saucepan, combine browned ground beef, taco seasoning, refried beans and salsa. Stir until heated through. Spread into pizza crust. Top with crunched taco chips. Top with shredded cheddar cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees until cheese is melted and crust is browned.

Top with favorite taco toppings.

Source: Southern Plate

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Slow-Cooker Chicken Parmigiana

Things are certainly getting busier around our household which always indicates that spring is just around the corner. Baseball practice has begun, soccer is soon to begin, next school year's choices of elective classes have already been selected, piano recital pieces have been chosen and the sun is just starting to grace us with more daylight hours. Yippee!! Added to all that, my friend Sarah and I are marketing our new business, promoting our Easter cookie bouquets and baking and completing incoming orders. Whew, I'm practically worn out just sitting here thinking of all that needs to be accomplished these next few weeks. But, oohhh how I love watching my kids in their extra-curricular activities and the excitement building for our bakery is quite contagious. I believe that with all our busy-ness this season I'm going to be relying a bit more on my faithful slow-cookers to aid me in getting a home cooked meal on the table for our family.

Early this morning I realized that the meal I had planned to serve tonight simply wouldn't work with our evening commitments. I browsed through the pantry, checked what I had in the deep freeze, then grabbed one of my favorite slow-cooker cookbooks and searched for a recipe that called for ingredients that I had available. I chose this particular recipe because of it's simplicity and the fact that it sounded delicious to serve on this cold, sunny day. After picking my little girl up from kindergarten it took me less than 30 minutes to defrost the chicken, saute' it and get it into the crock-pot to cook for the remainder of the day. What a wonderful relief it is for me to know that however hectic our evening becomes, dinner is ready and waiting.

All my family LOVED this chicken! It was moist, cheesy and delicious served with our home grown green beans. Marty enjoyed a second serving and asked that I pack the leftovers up for him to take to work for lunch tomorrow. Ka-ching....another slow-cooker success!!

From the heart of my kitchen to yours, may your experience be fun and the food always flavorful. Enjoy!

Chicken Parmigiana

1 egg
1tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 cup Italian bread crumbs
2-4 Tbsp. butter
14-oz. jar pizza sauce

1. Beat egg, salt and pepper together. Dip chicken into egg and coat with bread crumbs. Saute' chicken in butter in skillet. Arrange chicken in slow cooker.
2. Pour pizza sauce over chicken.
3. Cover. Cook on Low 6-8 hours. (Mine was done in 5 hours)
4. Layer mozzarella cheese over top and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Cook an additional 15 minutes.

Source: Fix-It and Forget-It Big Cookbook