Monday Menu ~ Meatballs with Mac & Cheese

 

Welcome back to Monday!! Now, don’t get me wrong I still feel that Monday should be part of the weekend, but since I can’t change the way the world seems to run the next best thing would be to fake being be happy about it.

Lately, I’ve been on a hamburger kick for some reason… mostly in search of the best hamburger that a restaurant has to offer. I try to make burger but it seems that everyone can make a burger better than me so this week I made meatballs instead. I know… I know… they’re almost the same as a burger, but it’s just not the same.

These meatballs are based on the recipe for meatloaf that I made a couple of weeks ago from the Pioneer Woman but with a few changes to make it even better after a phone call I had with my sister. We call each other to plot out what we can make for dinner or what kind of unique recipe we can create. It’s a fun game really… that and pondering all the great meals we’d make if we were closer that our families won’t eat.

Method

Follow the directions that the Pioneer Woman has for meatloaf in her recipe, leaving out the parmesan cheese. But before mixing it all together there are a few special ingredients that you need to add in…..

baconBacon! why… everything is better with bacon!

cheeseShredded cheddar cheese!

Add these two amazing items in and you have bacon cheeseburger meatballs! Now roll it into a meatball shape, get your hands a bit wet with cold water to help keep the meat from sticking to your hands helps.

Meatballs

In a large skillet brown the meatballs in batches so you don’t over crowd them.

Browning Meatballs

When you have all of the meatballs browned finish them off in the oven for about 20 – 30 minutes depending on how big they are.

While the meatballs are in the oven start the mac & cheese. Now you can use your favorite recipe or you can check out mine… Okay… it’s not really mine. But it is my go to recipe  and I’m always adding this or that, changing it up for something different. For this meal I left out the broccoli and chicken and used 3 different kinds of cheddar cheese. YUM! Creamy…. smooth… perfect… that is how I would describe this mac & cheese.

mac & cheese

Now the meatballs I served with the sauce that the Pioneer’s Woman recipe uses to top the meatloaf, veggies, and of course the mac & cheese. And the best part…. the family loved it all!

Do you take a recipe and change it up? What is one of your favorite go to recipes?

Monday Menu ~ Cupcakes

Who doesn’t love cupcakes? I know that I do… little bites of delicate cake that you can make miniature, big, or just regular sized. Filled or frosted or even both are absolutely delicious and who can resist one of those tasty treats. And with that thought I decided to try and come up with some unique and delicious cupcakes that I can share with all of you.

This could be a lot of fun because one of my passions is baking and coming up with tasty treats to share with friends and family. Although a new flavor of cupcakes every week could lead me shopping at the local tent & awning store for my clothing… chances are many of them will end up at the office!

This week my inspiration is coconut and chocolate… two of my favorite things and similar to a Mounds Bar I suppose. Really, it started with a quick bread mix that I found at Target and using the alternate directions on the back of the box and and the thought that I could make them better than just plain cupcakes.

Target coconut quick bread

Ingredients

  • Coconut quick bread mix
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1 stick of butter melted
  • 1 egg
  • 12 dark chocolate Hershey Kisses

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place 12 cupcake papers in a cupcake pan.

Mix all of the ingredients together except for the kisses.

batter in bowl

Using a small scoop – I used my Pampered Chef scoop – and put one level scoop into each cupcake paper. Now here comes the fun part… in the middle of each place one Hershey Kiss and then top with another level scoop of batter.

Hershey Special Dark Kisses

kiss in the middle

Bake for about 25 minutes. When they’re done resist the temptation to eat one and let them cool on a rack until they’re completely cooled and then frost.

Cooling cupcakes

Frosting

1/2 cup shortening – I used Crisco

1/2 cup butter

1 tsp vanilla

3/4 cocoa powder – I used Hershey’s Special Dark

4 cups of powdered sugar

3 – 4 tbsp milk – you can use more or less depending on the consistency you want.

Whip the butter & shortening together and then add in the cocoa powder and vanilla and mix till combined. Add in the powdered sugar one cup at a time and mix well then add in the milk until it’s the consistency you want.

Frosted cupcakes

These cupcakes are incredible for something that came from a box mix! The cupcake itself was moist and full of coconut flakes while the frosting…. oh the dark chocolate frosting is… mmmmm…. delicious!

Now, if you can’t find this mix at your Target you can use a white cake mix and add some coconut flakes and coconut extract and get the same results.

Tasty cupcakes

OH… and here’s the biggest surprise of them all! I used my DSLR for all the pictures this time instead of my iPhone!

So back to cupcakes… what flavor would you like to see me create? Do you have a favorite flavor?

Monday Menu ~ Fail or not?

I don’t know what happened this week but I guess I didn’t make anything that was really worth writing about and of course that leaves me without something awesome to share with you. Don’t get me wrong… I did feed my family but it was all pretty lame stuff… taco salad, leftovers, and stuff like that. We may have even gone out once too.

So, I failed. But I didn’t want to not post something because there are a few things that I made this week I can share with you that were tasty but they were from a mix or a recipe from someone else.

banana chocolate chip monkey bread

This tasty thing you see above is a banana chocolate chip monkey bread! It’s a mix that I picked up at Target while there a couple weeks ago and let me tell ya… totally worth it! It was warm, gooey, sweet, and perfect for a weekend breakfast with a large glass of milk (because without it you can’t get through a couple bites).

Is your mouth watering yet?

Andrew & his quiche

The one thing that I did make this week that was mostly homemade was a spinach and Gruyere cheese quiche. I have to say that it was pretty amazing, but then again how can you mess up a quiche? I mean it’s eggs in a pie crust and if you’re lazy like I am you buy the crusts pre-made and egg beaters to make it simple.

Andrew really loved it… can you tell? He helped me make it by pouring the eggs and stirring it again and again once it was in the pan. I only wish that he would have actually eaten some for dinner… he didn’t even touch it.

Eggless brownies

Brownies! I love chocolate (who doesn’t?) and brownies, but because I hadn’t gone shopping last week I didn’t have eggs which we all know are key to making just about anything. Well, I found an incredible brownie recipe that doesn’t require eggs.

These brownies are fudgy and are just like something that you can make from one of those box mixes. The only changes that I made were that I left out the honey, used all white sugar, and threw in some chocolate chips for good measure. Oh! And if it weren’t for my brownie craving I wouldn’t have found the chocolate cake recipe to end all other recipes! Seriously… check out the Chocolate Wasted Cake!

Pioneer Woman Meatloaf

What you see above is the most wonderful meatloaf ever and a huge thanks goes out to the Pioneer Woman for creating this. What is better than meatloaf that is totally wrapped in bacon and then smothered in a sauce that is better than plain ketchup any day of the week? Nothing. The only thing I did different was add onion and garlic because they need to be in just about everything that I make but other than that I did nothing else… I even bought plain old white bread because that’s what the Pioneer Woman said to use! Try it and you’ll love it too!

Did you make anything this week that was awesome?

What do you think… was my week a recipe fail or not?

Monday Menu ~ Easy Chicken & Rice

Every once in a while a meal pops into my head and sounds so good that I just have to make it as soon as possible. Not that long ago in the middle of a work week I decided that I wanted chicken and rice with broccoli. Go ahead and laugh… I know it takes time to prepare that and after a busy day at work how was I going to get it done?

Well, I waved my magic wand and…. TADA… dinner!

Okay, so maybe it wasn’t that easy but I was able to get it to the oven in about 30 minutes and then to the table in another 30 – 45 minutes. I call that a win for a homemade dinner.

The ingredients are super simple.

2 boxes of Uncle Ben’s Broccoli Rice au Gratin

1 can of cream soup – any kind you like. I used cream of celery because it’s what I had and I hate cream of mushrooms or mushrooms of any kind.

10 oz bag of frozen broccoli & cheese. The one you see in the picture I got at Kroger and it is incredible!

1 lb or so of boneless, skinless chicken. Get the tenders if you want… they’re faster to cut up.

1 cup of shredded cheese

Easy chicken and rice ingredients

The Ingredients

Now here is the method to the madness.

Cook the rice and while that is cooking cut up the chicken into bite size pieces and and brown them. The chicken doesn’t have to be fully cooked, just get it started.

Toss the bag of broccoli in the microwave for a couple minutes to soften it up a bit, again it doesn’t have to be done.

Alright, here comes the dump and mix part….. mix the rice (this doesn’t have to be all the way done), chicken, broccoli, and soup together. Don’t worry if it looks all soupy… it should look that way. Pour all of this into a 13×9 pan and top with the shredded cheese, cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 – 45 minutes. Take the foil off for the last 15 minutes or so.

Easy chicken and rice ready for the oven

There you have it… easy peasy right!

Easy chicken and rice

Now if you want to really make it an amazing meal you need to make the Beer Bread recipe from Kludgy Mom! The bread is really good and ever since I haven’t been able to find the Paula Deen beer bread mix in the stores for a while I was excited to find this recipe. Try it and you’ll love it too.

What is your go to quick meal for a work night? 

Are you looking for more great recipes? Check out the Monday Menu page!

Monday Menu ~ Arborio Rice Pudding

One of my favorite desserts or breakfasts is rice pudding… baked or not… I  just love it. But I got to thinking that I could make it better…. you know creamier & richer. How you ask? Well, by using my favorite rice…. arborio. Risotto is also another favorite dish of mine, creamy rice with onions, garlic, cheese, and white wine. What could be better?

I remember eating this when I was little with my mom or grandma and it was so rich and creamy that I didn’t think that there was anything better… other than the rice pudding without the raisins because I don’t like them.

Rice pudding is one of those timeless dishes that fills us up heart, soul, and stomach.

Last weekend I went to work and created my own recipe for a creamy, rich rice pudding. The recipe is versatile, easy and can adapted in many ways. Once you try rice pudding this way you will never go back to making it any other way.

Ingredients

1/2 cup arborio (I added a bit more)
3 Tbsp butter
4 cups milk – whole, 2%, or skim will work
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

ingredients

Method

In a heavy bottom pan place the butter and let it melt and then add in the rice and sugar and stir for a couple minutes. Slowly pour in the milk and bring it to a gentle boil, then simmer 30 minutes or so stirring frequently.

Stir in the milk

Boiling Rice

Check to make sure that it’s done (taste it!); it should be soft and plump. When it’s done remove it from the heat, and stir in the extract. You may serve at room temperature or warmed.

Add in vanilla

Optional Ingredients

Raisins
Dried cranberries
Almond extract instead of vanilla
Vanilla bean
Chopped nuts

When it’s done you can let it sit to thicken up a little and then serve it warm with a little extra cream or even better whipped topping. Me? I topped mine with a bit of homemade strawberry jam.

Topped with jam

YUM!

Okay… are going to make it tonight for your family?

Are you looking for more great recipes? Check out the Monday Menu page!

Monday Menu – Crab Stuffed Fried Jalapenos

A few weeks ago when I heard that Julie from MamaMash was taking a little break from blogging I was sad! I loved reading her posts and especially her Monday Meals… she had so many wonderful recipes to try. When she sent out the tweet that she’d be around and would guest post if asked I immediately jumped at that and asked if she would share one of her recipes with me here on the Monday Menu.

Please give Julie a warm & magical welcome!

Thanks to Jackie for pulling me back to the blog world for a bit to share a recipe. I miss my online community and hope to return to you soon!

I married a sports guy. I swear I didn’t know he was a sports guy when I accepted his proposal – I thought he was a musician.

Turns out the two aren’t mutually exclusive (who knew) and not only are my weekends filled with the otherworldly noises emanating from his synth rig upstairs, I can also count on a dull roar of fandom as heard through surround sound downstairs.

Lucky me.

Over the last few years, I’ve developed a bit of Stockholm Syndrome and I’m often found flopped on the couch riveted to the game along with my husband. We live in Kansas City, so it’s usually a depressing experience.

I’m not about to make a sad situation worse by tossing out some Fritos and bean dip, so I insist we eat good food on game day.

So, one week we watched the Chiefs lose and ate some pretty serious 5 alarm chili.

The next week we watched the Chiefs lose and had grilled Gruyere sandwiches and tomato basil soup.

This coming Sunday, even though the Chiefs aren’t in the Superbowl (I know, I’m shocked) we’ll still be sprawled out in front of the flat screen anyway. We’re going to see large, overpaid men compete for bragging rights and a sparkly piece of jewelry, and I’m gonna make my mama’s fried stuffed peppers.

(Technically, these aren’t my mama’s. A lovely former co-worker of ours used to bring these peppers to the teacher’s lounge on special days. If we knew in advance she was coming, we’d lurk around the corner so as to pile our share of peppers on a plate and sneak them into our classrooms for later. If you waited til lunch for a pepper, well, you’d be licking the crumbs off the paper towels is all I’m sayin’.)

Crab-stuffed Fried Jalapenos

1 box Stovetop Stuffing

1 can crab meat

1 large can whole jalapeno peppers

1 cup flour

1 cup buttermilk

1 cup breadcrumbs

vegetable oil for frying

Slice the jalapenos in half lengthwise, rinse and dry well with paper towels. If you’re a sensitive-skinned type, wear gloves. Better yet, make someone else do this part.

Prepare the stuffing as directed and set aside.

Open and drain the crabmeat well. Combine with the stuffing then stuff each pepper, leaving a nice rounded mound.

Refrigerate the stuffed peppers anywhere from two hours to overnight. You’ll probably want to cover them tightly as milk tends to taste funny when it absorbs a pepper/shellfish smell.

When you’re ready to serve them, set out a plate of flour, a bowl of buttermilk and a plate of breadcrumbs.

Heat the oil to between 350 to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Roll each pepper through the flour, dip in the buttermilk and roll through the bread crumbs, then slide into the oil.

Cook the peppers until they’re slightly browned and transfer to a wire rack with paper towels underneath.

Hide two or three for yourself, then plate and send out to the crowd.

 

You can also check Julie out on her blog, Facebook, and of course Twitter!

 

Are you looking for more great recipes? Check out the Monday Menu page!

Monday Menu ~ Stuffed Cabbage Casserole

One of my dishes is stuffed cabbage rolls, but they are a lot of work and take so much time that I rarely make them. Instead of the traditional cabbage rolls I’ve been making stuffed cabbage casserole! It’s just as delicious and it takes half the time which means that I can still make it after work during the week. I won’t say that this is one of those 30 minute meals though… it does take a little time.

Ingredients

1 -2 lbs of hamburger or ground turkey if you prefer

1 large onion – chopped

1 bay leaf

1 tbsp or more chopped garlic

1 -2 cups of uncooked instant rice – white or brown

2 14oz cans of beef broth

1 head of cabbage chopped

28oz can of stewed diced tomatoes or sauce, whichever you prefer (I used tomatoes that I cooked & froze over the summer)

Salt & pepper to taste

Spices – Now you can use just about any spice that you want I think. Thyme, oregano, basil, savory, or rosemary are all fine it all depends on the flavor that you want.

spices

Method

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Brown the meat and when it’s almost done add in the onion, garlic, and bay leaf.

browning the meat

Once the onion is cooked, it’ll look translucent, add in the rice, broth, and seasonings and stir until it is combined and then add in the cabbage. You will need to make sure that you have a large pan to fit everything in!

add in the cabage

Stir this up and then add in the tomatoes.  It will seem a little soupy but don’t worry because it will all be soaked into the rice and cabbage.

Once you have everything combined pour it into a 13×9 pan and cover tightly with foil.

ready for the oven

Bake for about an hour, uncover and stir, and then bake for another 15 – 30 minutes. When it’s done remove it from the oven and enjoy with fresh bread and a salad!

cabbage roll casserole

 What are some of your favorite go to casseroles for dinner?

Monday Menu ~ Edible Cookie Dough

It’s Monday! And if you hadn’t caught on yet (I’m sure you have though) it’s another post featuring a tasty recipe! And this one… is great and it’s from my sister, as a matter of fact she’s back again guest posting this week! So please give her a warm welcome and enjoy the recipe.

So this is not an original recipe of mine. I was on a quest (and still am) to eat healthier and provide something a little better for the family. I know what you are thinking, Cookie Dough Balls, healthy?? Not really, but everyone needs a treat now and then.

So, I was searching and came across the Peas and Thank You website. MaMa Pea, the curator and mastermind behind it had the cookie dough ball recipe right there in shining lights, screaming, make me, make me, make me. So, weak as I am for peanut butter and chocolate, I did it…. I made them. And let me tell you, they are goooooooooooood. In fact, to me, they were close my eyes, smile, and tune out, “Mommy, Mommy, Mom”. I couldn’t quite tune out the, THWACK sound and the crying that followed though. My youngest hit the oldest. Boys… oy vay.

Anywho, my kids love cookie dough (psst.. me too), but I am always leery to give it to them because of the eggs and possibility of salmonella (I’m still trying to get nominated for mom of the year award here). This is a great alternative and my boys don’t know any different. They are always asking to make, “cookie balls”. Yes, I let them help even with craziness.

edible cookie dough

Edible Cookie Dough Balls

Makes 12-18 dough balls
• 1/2 c. non-dairy margarine (i.e. Earth Balance) ( I did use butter once and they turned out delectable)
• 3/4 c. natural peanut butter (I use smooth, but the crunchy variety is fine too)
• 1/2 c. organic brown sugar
• 3/4 c. organic powdered sugar ( I cut the sugar down to ½ c.)
• 1/2 t. vanilla extract
• 1 t. baking powder
• 1/2 t. baking soda
• 3/4 t. salt
• 1 c. whole wheat pastry flour
• 1/2 c. unbleached organic flour
• 1/2 c. natural peanut butter chips
• 1/2 c. non-dairy chocolate chips ( I used reg choc chips )

Using a stand mixer, beat margarine, peanut butter, sugars and vanilla until fully incorporated.

In a separate bowl, combine baking powder, baking soda, salt and flours.Add dry mixture to the mixer bowl a little at a time. Add dry mixture to the mixer bowl a little at a time. Add your chips. There’s no need for exact measurements here. I won’t tell. Combine and chill dough for 30 minutes.

Andrew eating edible cookie dough

Andrew loved it!

Did you see??? With Just a Bit of Magic is the blog of the week over at Social Moms!! How great is that? Social Moms is a great community so check it out if you haven’t been over there yet.

Are you looking for more great recipes? Check out the Monday Menu page!

Monday Menu ~ My Favorites

I have a recipe for you and as a matter of fact it’s a really good one too, but because I didn’t make it this weekend to take pictures it’ll have to wait until next Monday. But, what I do have for you is a list of some of my favorite recipes that I’ve made lately.

Over the holidays I wanted to make a cheesecake to bring to our Christmas at my in-laws house. But it couldn’t be just any old cheesecake, it had to be thick, smooth, and very creamy. Also, I wanted a smooth top that wasn’t brown or cracked and I knew that I could do it.

Perfect Cheesecake

Perfect Cheesecake

It turned out perfect! And the recipe is really simple and versatile, by adding different flavorings or even an instant pudding packet you can make this your own special recipe.

Another favorite of mine was dinner last week, breaded pork cutlet with cheesy hash brown casserole, and green beans cooked with bacon and onions. I posted this on Instagram and was asked by Christina from A Closet Writer asked me for the recipe and here it is.

Delicious Dinner

Pork Cutlets – I bought cubed pork chops that were already breaded with some sort of plain bread crumbs. I seasoned them with garlic, salt, and pepper before cooking them with some vegetable oil and bacon grease.

Potatoes – I opened a box of Idahoan potatoes, added cheese, and followed the instructions.

Beans – 10oz or so bag of frozen green beans steamed in the microwave until almost done. While those steam saute a sliced onion in a bit of the bacon grease, throw in the bacon, and green beans and cook until the beans are hot. Season with fresh ground pepper and salt if needed.

This last recipe I take no credit for at all because I happened to find it while wasting great amounts of time on Pinterest. This recipe is so easy! You can whip it up on a busy evening or make a large amount of it and keep it in a crock pot when you have a crowd over. Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes are a new twist on the classic sloppy joe that is so tasty that I can’t imagine anyone not like them! Try them tonight for dinner!

What are some of your new recipe favorites?

Monday Menu ~ Red Gold review, giveaway, & recipe!

When I was contacted to try out a couple of the new culinary classics from Red Gold tomatoes one of the things that surprised me most was that they’re grown right here in Michigan, as well as in Ohio and Indiana. All this time I’ve been buying locally grown product and I never knew it. What makes it even better is that this new line is being sold locally at Meijer stores in the Detroit area!

red gold culinary classicsWhen I first received the tomatoes I couldn’t decide what to do with them… there were so many choices! It was the diced tomatoes with chipotle that stood out though and I finally decided to make a Spanish rice casserole with them. Now, I’ll be the first to tell you that this recipe is more of the fly by the seat of your pants type thing and you can change it up anyway you want.

Ingredients

1 – 1 lbs of hamburger (you could also use ground turkey, ground chicken, cut up chicken, or leave the meat out)

1 medium onion diced

1 tsp garlic (add more or leave it out)

1 carton of broth (chicken, beef, or vegetable)

Rice (white or brown – I used brown Minute Rice)

1 28 oz can of Red Gold diced tomatoes with chipotle

2 cups of Shredded cheese (you can add more if you’d like or leave it out)

Optional seasoning

cumin

salt

pepper

Note: I left out the amounts of rice & broth on purpose. You can make as much or as little as you like for this casserole depending on how many you need to feed or how much meat to rice ratio you like. I made about 3 cups of cooked rice.

Directions

Brown the meat in a pan and once it’s almost done add in the onions and garlic. Cook until the onions are almost translucent and then add the tomatoes and spices. While the meat is browning cook the rice until it is partially done and set aside.

saute meat

Once the meat is done mix the rice into and let it simmer for 5 – 10  minutes.

mixing in the rice

Stir in about half of the cheese and pour into a baking dish and top with the rest of the cheese.

topped with cheese

Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 15 – 20 minutes. Really all you want is for the cheese to get all melty & bubbly.

Spanish Rice - ready to eat

And you’re ready for dinner! Serve with tortillas or alone. You can add pretty much any kind of toppings that you can think of with this. For me avocado’s and black beans would be perfect!

Just a note…. this is a bit on the spicy side but with sour cream or guacamole you can cool it off if you don’t like the heat.

Are you interested in trying out the new Culinary Classics from Red Gold?

You can win a prize pack from them and all you have to do is leave a comment telling me how you would use one of the two varieties of Red Gold tomatoes I have pictured above. That’s it!

Now, if you would like extra entries you can do any of the following but be sure to leave a comment for each

1. “Like” With Just a Bit of Magic on Facebook

2. “Like” Red Gold on Facebook

3. Add With Just a Bit of Magic to your circle on Google Plus

4. Follow me on Twitter & Tweet about the giveaway (leave the link to your tweet)

The giveaway ends on Friday, January 20th at midnight. A winner will be selected via random. org and notified via email (make sure your email is visible so I can contact you) and the  winner will have 24 hours to respond before another will be selected.

I received Red Gold tomatoes to review, but all thoughts and opinions are mine.

And because the DSLR wasn’t handy I used my favorite piece of technology ever to the awesome pics for this post… my iPhone! Because of that I’m linking up with the incredible Liz & KLZ for #iPPP!

iPhone Photo Phun