Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Rainbow Salad, as known as Seven Layer Salad, is a very simple dish, but makes a great presentation, especially when put in a glass bowl so that all the layers are visible.

I made this one for the Ronald McDonald House, which our ladies group at church donates meals to once a month.   As I was making it, the colors were so bright and pretty, I thought that "Rainbow Salad" was a more appropriate name, plus it just sounds more interesting.

I started by chopping my lettuce in small bite-sized pieces and laying it on the bottom or the pan.  Then I chopped up some carrot, celery, red onion,and cherry tomatoes.  I used Lite Miracle Whip and spread a thin layer over the top.  I sprinkled with just a touch of sugar, then to make it really healthy, I sprinkled bacon and cheddar cheese over it all.  Yummy. 

  Anything can be added to this - peppers, cooked peas, etc.

I love making this when I have people over because it can be made up to a day in advance, then just tossed before serving.  The only draw back is that if there are left overs, they tend to get soggy after a few hours.

Friday, February 19, 2010


I never realized how much I enjoy cooking until I started doing this blog.  I look forward to making a good dish that I can share on here - whether you all are interested or not - it makes me happy.   I get bored easily with meals, so I like to make different things all the time.

My good friend, Shari, makes an ethnic dish that she shared with me many, many moons ago - haloopkis (hal-oop-keys), which is basically ground beef "meatballs" with cabbage leaves wrapped around them and baked in tomato sauce.  Now, I know I did not spell this correctly and probably am not even saying it correctly, but even my spell check could not help me here, so please forgive!  Shari and her family made these on Christmas Eve because I saw her pictures on face book, and it reminded me of the day that she gave me and some of our other wonderful friends a lesson on the way to properly make these.  Oh I miss those days!  ~sigh~

This is kind of my own rendition of this dish made simple for a mother of toddlers and a woman with a short attention span :-).

Here's what I did:

Cook 1/2 head of cabbage (chopped up in bite sized pieces) until tender.
1 lb. extra lean ground beef
1 cup dry brown rice (cooked in 2 cups water)
      cook until water is just absorbed
1 small onion
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
1 cup beef broth - maybe more
2 bay leaves
2 cloves garlic
1 T. Italian seasonings
1 tsp. garlic powder
salt and pepper
I also chopped up in small pieces some carrots for color and added veggies.

I cooked the beef, garlic,and onion together, then added the tomato sauce and diced tomatoes and beef broth with all the spices.  After the cabbage was tender, I added it all together with the "al dente" rice in a 9x13 pan with the beef mixture. (If you have extra water left with the cabbage, add it in the dish - it gives you the extra nutrients from the cabbage).  If it is a bit dry, add some more beef broth. Give it a good stir and bake for about 45 minutes at 350.  You want it kind of "soupy" because the rice will continue to absorb the liquid.

I added all this into my WW online calculator and listed it as 8 servings.  It came up as only 4 points per serving!!!!  Wow-it was so satisfying that I actually feel guilty only counting 4 points!  

I served this with some homemade bread and some cooked carrots.

If you know how to correctly spell "haloopkis", please let me know

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


"Fish are our friends, not food."  Every time I eat fish, I think of that scene from Finding Nemo when the sharks are trying to stop eating fish.  That movie cracks me up!   But here in my world, fish are food!  I found this great recipe on Recipezaar, and as usual, I made changes to "lighten" it up.  It was very good my way, so I can only imagine how good it would have been with drizzled butter and extra Parmesan cheese.  If you want the original recipe, it is #32478 on Recipezaar.  I will give you my version!

1 cup dry breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp. sage
3/4 tsp. oregano
3/4 tsp. basil
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder (of course)
black pepper
3/4 tsp. lemon pepper
1/2 cup lemon juice
parmesan cheese
cooking spray
fish fillets (I used Tilapia)

I poured some lemon juice in a bowl and dipped my fish in it.  Then in another bowl, I combined all the spices and the bread crumbs.  Coat the fish and place it in a 9x13 pan sprayed with cooking spray.  I lightly sprinkled some parmesan cheese on top, then sprayed the fish with the cooking spray.

Bake at 500 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until the fish is flaky. 

It is only 3 points for a 3 oz. piece of fish.

*Just a note - I never measure my spices out - I just the palm of my hand, so I'm sure I put in more spices than called for.

This fish was excellent!  I had some left overs for lunch today and it was still really good. 


I wish I would have been able to drive somewhere quickly that would have had a nice foreground to do this sunset justice, but by the time I would have gotten my coat and boats on and drove somewhere, I would have missed it altogether.   I did not do any post work in Photoshop Elements at all - this is exactly the way I took the picture.  It is one of the most beautiful skies I have ever seen!


A couple of years ago, I decided to redo our laundry/bathroom.  This room is right inside our door that leads to the garage.  It is so convenient having this bathroom right inside the door.  This room holds my washer and dryer, a few overhead cabinets, a utility sink, a toilet and a sink/cabinet combo.  It is where we feed our dog, do our laundry, and keep all the cleaning supplies.  Such a small room for so many functions!  I had no idea how I wanted to decorate this room.  95% of my home has a decor of some kind of deer, foliage, or wildlife, yet  I wanted something different for this room.  I found this adorable wall paper border at Fleet Farm, and everything just kind of fell into place.

Because all of our upstairs walls have plaster, I have a hard time hanging wall paper borders, "wallies", or even the vinyl words that are so popular right now.   I had a terrible time getting this wall paper border up, and I was worried the edges would not stick, yet my friend Kim suggested I have my carpenter husband cut me thin boards to "trim" out the border.  It worked perfectly!

The same week I painted the walls (using left over paint from a downstairs room), I went to a garage sale where they were selling a lot of Americana-type knick knacks and wall hangings.  For about $10, I purchased an American flag valance and several Americana wall pieces.
  I had a heart shaped wreath and decided to copy an idea I saw at the Michael's store.  The little clothing pieces are actually stickers for scrapbooking and I "hung" them using the tiny clothes pins.  I thought the football jersey represented my older two boys, and the baby outfit represented my little ones.
  I found the cute little soap dispenser on clearance at Kohl's.

I hate doing laundry, but having a cute little bathroom like this somehow makes it bearable!

A friend of mine, Jeri, just moved into a new home.  Her walls are all painted dark, rich colors.  I have found that I like the rooms in my home best that have the darker colors - I don't know why, but the dark, rich colors "feel" better to me.  I have decided that I will paint the other rooms in my home darker colors over the next year too - probably with Jeri's help picking the colors :-).

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Alfredo has to be an all-time favorite for many people, whether it is just plain alfredo with noodles, or if you throw in some chicken or shrimp.  We usually do chicken, but Tanner requested shrimp.  He is on a shrimp kick lately - ever since Christmas when I bought one of those frozen shrimp cocktail rings at Aldi's.  We sure do live large here in Wisconsin - he he he.

There are many ways to make alfredo sauce.  I try to lighten mine up a bit, even though it is not WW friendly.  It makes me feel a little better about enjoying it on occasion.

I use canned milk and 1% milk in place of the heavy cream, and I use more olive oil for the fat than butter. First I saute some fresh mushrooms - oh, how I love mushrooms -in some butter and oil in the pan, then I add some minced garlic.  Oh, the smell is wonderful!  After the mushrooms have cooked a bit,  I throw in some flour to thicken and make a rue.  I'm sorry, but this is one of those recipes that I never measure.  Then I add a can of canned milk and about the same amount of low fat milk.  I cook it until it gets nice and thick.  I throw in some low fat cream cheese (just a tad), and then a handful of freshly grated Parmesan, salt and pepper and a pinch of nutmeg.   I use whole wheat fettuccine and toss it all together in a 9x13 pan.  Cover it and bake it for about 20 minutes.  I think it helps to blend the flavors, plus thicken the sauce even more. 

I chopped up the shrimp that Tanner had pulled the tails off and I had just thawed out over a low flame in my iron skillet.  It turned out really yummy!  Unfortunately, with this dish, there are never any leftovers.

Monday, February 15, 2010


How was your Valentine's Day?   Ours was busy!  On Saturday, Levi and Noah helped me decorate cupcakes to donate to the Ronald McDonald House.

Well, they sort of helped.

Then, I made a special dinner for my guys on Saturday night.  I finished it off with a cute dessert:
  It is just a brownie cut out with a heart cookie cutter, then I sprinkled powdered sugar and drizzled chocolate over the plate.   I finished it off with a side of cool whip and cherry.  All the fancy desserts I ever ordered have chocolate sauce drizzled all over the plate - try it - it just says "fancy".

Dan got me some gorgeous flowers: 

And we ate at Applebee's later last night after Levi and Noah went to bed.  I was not feeling so hot, so now I wished I would have taken a rain check from my Valentine until a time I felt better.  I actually only took about 6 bites of my meal and I was really not very good company.  I'm still not feeling all that great today, but all you mothers out there know, there is no such thing as a sick day for moms. 

Share with us what you did for Valentine's Day!

Saturday, February 13, 2010


I love. . . .  all my valentines!

 Blessings, each and every one!

Friday, February 12, 2010


I am happy to announce that Dan's new website is complete.  There will be more changes as time goes by, but for now, it is up and running.

Please check it out.  Dan did 95% of the work, but I had a little hand in doing some of the photoshop stuff.  We hope to get some pictures of his new items in the spring.



A couple of weeks ago, I made a cake for my friend, Steve, who was home from Afghanistan.  As many of you know, I used to make and sell cakes many years ago, and although I do enjoy making and decorating the occasional cake for friends and family, I have no desire to get back into the cake selling business. 

At the Welcome Home Steve potluck, some of the ladies asked me about my icing recipe.  I was going to type it and send it to all of them through the email, but since I had nothing to blog about today, I just thought I'd make this my entry for today.  Exciting stuff, right?

There are a couple of different recipes Wilton has and both are very tasty and I've done different variations with success, so just use your imagination - after all, how bad can icing and cake be - it is ALWAYS awesome as long as there's lots of it!  (Any wonder why I can't lose weight?)

Here is the snow-white buttercream icing recipe.  If you plan to decorate and color a lot of the icing, it is good to have the snow white version just so the slight yellowing does not alter your look. 

1 cup white crisco shortening
1 tsp. pure white vanilla
1 tsp. butter flavoring
1 tsp. salt
1 lb. powdered sugar
3-9 Tablespoons water (the less water, the more stiff your icing will be)

Mix thoroughly.

Now, if you don't know what butter flavoring is or where to find pure white vanilla, just check out the Wilton aisle in any Walmart or Michaels, or for a bigger bottle of both at a better price, try a cake supply store.

This will give you a pristine white icing.
I like to frost my cake as smooth as possible, then let it "air dry" for 10-15 minutes.  Take a paper towel that has a quilted pattern to it and carefully and lightly press the paper towel flat across the cake.  It will put the quilted pattern into your icing and also smooth out the knife marks you get when you frost.  If the paper towel sticks, wait another 5 minutes and try again.
See the pattern from the paper towel?

For those who don't care about a slight yellow tint to the icing, use this recipe:

1/2 cup Crisco
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1 lb. powdered sugar
3-4 T. water
Hint #2:  Always at least double this recipe.  It is easier because 1)it is not enough to properly frost the cake (unless you are an Anderson and take off the extra icing before you eat it) and 2) powdered sugar usually comes in 2 lb. bags and it is easier to just dump in the entire bag :-)

Variations to this:
Chocolate Buttercream:  Just add 3 oz. melted unsweetened chocolate squares, or 3/4 cup cocoa to the above recipes.
Chocolate mocha:  make the chocolate buttercream but substitute strong coffee in place of the water.

Excuse me now, I think I need to go make some cupcakes!

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Well, experiment #2 with the Fiber One turned out okay - not as good as the chicken, but definitely a keeper in my recipe book. 

This is another Hungry Girl recipe you can find here.  The only thing different that I did was to add some seasoning salt to the ground up fiber one - oh and also some garlic powder.  (I add garlic powder to almost everything). 

I ate the entire onion (my onion was about a medium size), and I figure it to be 2 points, but I added 3 just to be safe.

I ate them straight out of the oven with some Heinz ketchup (Heinz is the only ketchup as far as I'm concerned) and they were a great snack.  Very filling and I got to check off a vegetable from my list!  (I love to check things off - Type A personality trait).

The only drawback to these are 1) they are kind of messy on the fingers - too much goo on my fingers makes me queasy, and 2) it would take a long time to make enough for my family, so I reserve these as a snack.

I do love getting all that fiber though - without actually having to eat the cereal in a bowl with milk - boring!

There are a lot of recipes with the Fiber One - I've been searching around the Hungry Girl website and just googling "Fiber One".  There are even a couple of desserts that I found interesting - I'll let you know!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


I had to share this recipe with you.  It is one of those "I can't believe that's what in this. . ." moments.  The "mystery" ingredient. . . . . Fiber One cereal - the stuff that looks like pieces of twigs and is really not very tasty as a cereal, in my opinion.

I subscribe to Hungry Girl emails.  They have great tips, recipes, and showcase new products for those health-conscience, trying-to-lose weight gals.  I have the Hungry Girl cookbooks on my wish list too, but they give out so many great recipes via their emails, I just keep them all together and try the ones I really like.  They use the Fiber One cereal in a lot of their recipes.  I was skeptical at first, but since I've tried it and had success, I am a believer.  Even my boys could not tell I used fiber cereal instead of bread crumbs and flour.  The great bonus - practically no calories (points) and extra fiber!  1/2 cup of this cereal is barely 1 point.

So, I took a WW recipe for chicken tenders and instead of using the crushed up low fat cheese crackers, I used the Fiber One.

Here is the altered recipe:

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut up into tenders
 (or just buy the tenders)
3/4 cup buttermilk (or use 3/4 cup low fat milk and add 1 T. vinegar)
1 cup ground up (use a food processor) Fiber One cereal twigs
Seasonings:  thyme, seasoning salt, garlic powder, salt and peppers
Olive oil (preferably in a spritzer bottle)

I cut up the chicken and soaked it in my "buttermilk" mixture for about 1/2 hour.
  I pureed up the cereal and added it with the spices into a ziploc bag.  Drain off the buttermilk and toss your chicken around in the crumbs until it is coated.  Then I placed it in one layer in a pan, then using my Pampered Chef spritz bottle of olive oil, I lightly misted all the pieces. 
  Bake at 400 for 10 minutes, turn and bake 10-15 more or until done.

I served this with the rest of my pre-baked potatoes from last week with some cooked broccoli and some cheese sauce. 

Saturday, February 6, 2010


What a fun day in the snow - even if the hill was not that big!  Hills are a rare commodity in central Wisconsin, but when you're only 3 and 2 years old, you don't need a big hill to have fun.
Wheeeeeeee. . . . .

Noah needed some help getting back up the hill after awhile - 
2 year olds have a lot of energy, but they do wear out eventually.

He told me he saw a shark in the stump.
"I don't think that's possible, Noah."

Levi can have fun doing just about anything.

I just thought this was interesting. . . 
Well, I hope all my loved ones back east are digging out of the white stuff  . . . . . . and I am SO VERY HAPPY that we did not get any of the snow!!!!!!!!!!

Happy Winter.


Oh how I love casseroles (or hot dishes, as they are called here).  They are so easy to make and usually clean up is easy too.

1 lb. lean ground beef
1 small onion
canned green beans
1 can low fat cream of mushroom soup
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup cheddar cheese (optional)
tator tots

Brown your beef and cook in onion with it.  Season it up.  Add it to a 8" square pan and mix in the beans, mushroom soup/milk mixture.  Mix it all together, if you want to add cheese, sprinkle it on top, then top the entire dish with frozen tator tots.  Bake for 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees.


I am sure that somewhere, sometime, somebody made these and perhaps there is even a different name for them; however, I was "goofing" in my kitchen and kinda came up with these.  I really wanted to use white chocolate chips in these, but I was all out, so I used semi-sweet chocolate chips.  When added with the maraschino cherries, it is kind of reminiscent of a chocolate covered cherry.

Cream together:
1 cup butter flavored Crisco
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg 
Add in 1 tsp. almond extract
1 Tablespoon maraschino cherry juice

Mix together, then add to creamed mixture:
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt

Add 1 cup chocolate chips
and 1/4 cup chopped maraschino cherries

Drop onto cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes at 350.
Cool, then melt about 1/4 cup chocolate chips in a ziplock baggie.  Cut the tip and drizzle the chocolate over the top of the cooled cookies.

They were good and look festive for Valentine's Day, although we will be enjoying these at Tanner's Superbowl party.

Friday, February 5, 2010


A few days ago, I mentioned that when I bake potatoes, I always do some extra potatoes for a future side dish, lunch, or for Dan's breakfast.  Tonight I used up some of my "stash" and it felt so good just to pull them out of the refrigerator and have a good side dish in no amount of time!

I also used up some onion, red and green bell pepper, and mushrooms that I had left in the fridge too - hey, it's almost time to grocery shop again, and if you waste food, it does not save you money!  I love the feeling you get when you use up all your groceries w/o any waste!

I sauteed the onion, pepper and mushrooms in some olive oil until it was slightly tender, then I added the cooked, cut up potatoes, some seasoning salt, garlic powder, and thyme.  I made sure some of the potatoes were slightly browned because they are soooooo good when they are crispy!

Voila` - a great, easy side dish!

Haddock with bacon

This is one of those rare fish recipes that I like.  I got this from a Rachael Ray long long ago and as usual, I've adapted it to my tastes.

First, I put the haddock (or any white fish) in a pan/dish that has a bit of olive oil spread on it.

Then, I sprinkle some salt and pepper and some lemon juice.  Put it in a 400 degree oven.

Then, I cut up about 4 pcs. of bacon - I use thick cut bacon - for about 2 lbs. of fish.  I cook it up until it is nice and crispy.  Then I drain the fat and put the bacon on a napkin to soak up the extra grease.  Grease is bad!  Sautee up a small onion in the pan until translucent.  

Flip your fish over - it should be about done.

Once you're fish is almost done, I top it off with the onion and bacon, and finish baking it.

It is so good, I don't use any tartar sauce/mayo/ketchup!  Of course, the guys do, but what do they know? :-)

I figure one fillet w/ bacon is about 6 points.

Thursday, February 4, 2010


I have a hard time getting 5 servings of fruit and vegetables into my diet.  If I eat a salad, I usually make a pretty big one so I can count it as 2 servings, but even I get tired of salads everyday!  Vegetables are good when they are fresh from the garden, but in the winter, I rely on canned or frozen mostly and those are hard to dress up w/o adding a lot of calories.   I found this recipe in the WW book and it is quite tasty!  It is only 1 point per serving, which is about cup.

Frozen (or fresh) broccoli florets
 8 oz. fresh mushrooms sliced
1/2 cup drained sliced water chestnuts
3 T. sweet and sour sauce
2 T. water
1/4 tsp. salt

Saute your veggies in a bit of olive oil/cooking spray until crisp-tender.  Add the sweet and sour sauce and toss to coat all and heat through.  Serve.

The smell reminded me of a Chinese buffet, but it felt more healthy :-) and no cat on a stick!   I think this would be a great dish if you added some cooked pieces of chicken or some shrimp with some brown rice.  But, it was great having a serving of vegetables for only 1 point!


Just to update you all on my menu-making/grocery-saving strategies - well, it is going well.  I actually look forward to getting the store flyers each week so I can make up my menu according to what's on special.  I see a trend, in that one week, I don't spend as much money on groceries, but seem to make up for it the next week, so I guess it is all balancing out.  However, we are eating very healthy - veggies, more whole-grains, more balanced meals, and I feel more organized because I know ahead of time what I'm making each night and I can enjoy my day (well, as much as can be enjoyed cleaning up after 2 busy toddlers and keeping track of 2 busy teenagers).

This recipe was found in a Taste of  Home magazine a long time ago.  I don't make it a lot, but after the rave reviews I got from the men in my home, I think I'll make it more often.

Here's the recipe:
6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1-8 oz carton of whipped cream cheese with onion and chives
1 T. butter
6 pcs. bacon

The recipe says to flatten out the breasts using a mallot or frying pan to 1/2 inch thick.  I cut mine in 1/2 length-wise, and still flatten a bit so for each full breast, I get 2 portions.  Then put 3 T. of cream cheese over the breasts.  I put about 1 T. - it is messy - I ended up using my fingers and you all know the aversion I have to touching the raw meat and the messy cream cheese. . .   anyway, I omit the butter (I wish all these cut backs could be seen on the scale, but at least I feel better doing it).  I then cut the bacon in 1/2 and after you roll up the breast, wrap the bacon around it.  My bacon only went over the top (again, think WW).  Lay the breast seam-side down, and bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes (now I use a meat thermometer and mine took over an hour).  You can crisp up the bacon with the broiler the last 5 minutes or so.

The bacon keeps the breast meat moist.  Very tasty!
I hope you enjoy.

Another little tip - I made baked potatoes and instead of just cooking 5 potatoes for the 6 of us (Levi and Noah still share), I made double.  I plan to use the rest of the cooked potatoes for lunch or for another side dish later this week and now I won't have to heat the oven up again!

I love using a small baked potato cut up with sauteed mushrooms, onions, and red bell peppers over top with a touch of mozarella melted.  Great lunch!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


BEFORE. . . .

AFTER. . .

Fish fry - I love it and I hate it.  I love it because my wonderful, fantastic, sweet heart of a husband cooks the meal. . . . . 

I hate it because even though it is pretty tasty, I'm not that keen on fried fish, especially when I've seen it swim in our live well. . . and also because it smells up the house. . . . thank heaven for air fresheners and candles.   I much prefer baked or broiled fish from Red Lobster, thank you very much!

Still, there's just something about a guy who can catch the fish, clean the fish and cook the fish.  Love ya, honey.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


If you know anyone who has been in Iraq or Afghanistan, you know the feeling it gives you when they are done serving and get to come home!  One of the church members here, Steve, has served 2 tours and this past week, he came home for good!  He has two little girls (I has posted pics of them in the snow), and a wife, Michelle, who is also a friend of mine.  I know how happy I am to have Steve back with us, so I can only guess the joy that Michelle and the girls feel. 

We had a special potluck on Sunday honoring Steve's return.  I signed up to decorate the cake.  I had our local grocery store make a copy of his photo onto the rice paper, and I decorated the rest (it was a no brainer).  We also all chipped in and had a military throw made at Walmart.  It was very thin, but Michelle plans to hang it on the wall, and really, it was very sharp looking with the black all around.
(The feet belong to Tanner, not Steve :-).

Thanks to all the guys and gals who serve our country here and abroad and blessings to their families who try to cope for so long without them home.