Friday, December 9, 2011

Pop Art Pixies

For a portion of this week my 3 oldest girls are visiting friends in Knoxville. For 4 days there will be lots of chatting, laughter, crafting, cooking and even a little schooling taking place in the Rivera home. Yesterday the girls worked on projects available from Pop Art Pixies. You can see pictures of the completed projects and all the girls at Raising Olives.

(I'm writing this post to enter a give away offered by Pop Art Pixies, however I have a feeling that even if I don't win, I may be buying some anyway. :-) )

Monday, November 28, 2011

Photo Card

Picture Tree Christmas
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Friday, November 4, 2011

Lilla Rose

With 4 girls, we go through a lot of hair accessories. Our new favorites are products from Lilla Rose. You can read more about their beautiful products at Raising Olives and enter to win 2 pieces.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Frog Eye Salad

Today Kimberly at Raising Olives and the other 3 moms are sharing picnic recipes. The timing is perfect as we will be attending our FAVORITE annual picnic on Monday. It just so happens to be hosted by Kimberly's parents.

This recipe for Frog Eye Salad was given to me by a friend at church. It used to be her signature dish. She and her family have since moved away and it is now one of my signature dishes. I never bring any home (and it makes A LOT)

Frog Eye Salad

1. Pound package of acini de pepe pasta, cooked and drained

2. In a medium saucepan mix the following into a smooth paste.
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 t salt
2 T flour

3. Add juice reserved from 2 cans of pineapple. Cook until thick.

4. Pour mixture over pasta and add 1 bag mini marshmallows. Stir until marshmallows melt. Refrigerate overnight. Mixture will be soupy when you put it in the frig. It will be a solid mass the next day.

5. Stir in 1 x-large container of Cool Whip breaking up the solid mass. Add the following drained fruits.
1 can crushed pineapple
2 cans pineapple tidbits
2 cans madarin oranges

6. Add a variety of soft fresh fruits. I always add halved grapes and kiwi. I also use berries in season.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Just grilling...

Grilling season has returned!!!! I love food cooked on the grill. I also love the fact that I don't have to do all the cooking (since my husband is our grill chef). I have been known to have my dear husband grilling in the rain and even when our deck was covered with snow! A couple of years ago he finally said no more grilling from November through February. Well now it is March, today's weather is beautiful and our previous dinner plans with another family just fell through. (***Note**** This post was written last Friday when it was nice and sunny. We've had rain almost every day since AND it could snow tonight!)What better time to pull out my family's favorite grill recipe... especially one that is super easy to make and clean up?

I've written before about the "joys" of finding food all 10 people in my family enjoy. Most of us enjoy Tex-Mex and other highly seasoned foods. A few of my children do not. They probably wish they had been born into a different family on some occasions. They do eat whatever is served, but it makes me much happier to see them all eating and actually enjoying their food.

Fajitas made with grilled chicken is tops on the list of everyone in our family. Some of the children even request it for their birthday meal. Today I'm sharing my recipe for the fajita marinade as well as the Black Bean Salsa we usually serve with it.

Fajita Marinade
1/2 c olive oil
1/3 c lime juice
1/4c red wine vinegar
1 t sugar
1 t oregano
1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper
1/4 t cumin
1/3c chopped onion

Combine all ingredients and place in a zip top bag. Add chicken or beef and seal bag. Marinate for several hours. (the longer the better) Grill meat and slice. Serve with flour tortillas, sour cream, cheese, salsa, lettuce, sauteed onions and peppers, etc.
I have children who won't touch a pepper with a 10 foot pole but who devour this salsa.

Black Bean Salsa

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can corn, drained
2c. finely chopped sweet pepper (I usually use a cup each of red and orange to give more color)
1/2 c finely chopped red onion (I omit)

Combine the above in a bowl.
Stir together the following:

1/2 c sour cream
1/4 c mayo
2 T red wine vinegar
1 t ground cumin
1t chili powder
1/2 t salt
1/4 t garlic powder
1/8 t pepper

Pour over vegetables and toss gently to coat. Refrigerate until ready to serve. The longer it sits, the better it gets. Serve with "scoop" style tortilla chips. (This is a heavy salsa. The regular chips will break.)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Bubble pizza

This is my kids new favorite lunch. I know it's not healthy, but finding something all eight of them love is difficult.

2 pkg of canned biscuits (10 in each can)
pizza sauce
your favorite pizza toppings
mozzarella and/or cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Cut each biscuit into 4 pieces. Place all biscuit pieces in a greased 9 x 13 dish. Brown lb of ground beef or sausage. Mix with one jar of pizza sauce. Spread over biscuits. Top with pepperoni, mushrooms, etc. Cover with cheese to your liking. Bake covered for 1 hour.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Crock pot favorites

This post is for my friend Michelle. She said she was in need of some new ways to use her crock pot, so I decided I would help her out. I would love to know your favorite recipe.

Country Style Steak
This is our all time favorite crock pot recipe. There are 10 people in my family and EVERYONE likes this dish. Ten out of 10 positive votes is a rarity around here. My father-in-law also requests this recipe every time he comes to visit.

4-6 pieces of cube steak (I have to adjust up. :-) )
3 cups water
large onion, sliced
1 package each of mushroom, brown and onion gravy mix

Dredge steaks in flour. Season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a frying pan and brown steaks on each side. Place steaks in crock pot. Add 2 cups of the water and the sliced onion. Cook on low for 8 hours. One hour before serving mix the remaining cup of water with the 3 packages of gravy mix. The original recipe didn't change the temperature, but I switch mine to high to get a thicker gravy. Serve over rice or mashed potatoes.

Pepperoncini Roast

This is a very popular dish in our church family. To the best of my knowledge, it originated with our pastor's wife.

3lb chuck roast (or whatever size/cut you have)
envelope Good Seasons Italian dressing mix
1/2 jar sliced pepperoncinis with juice (located with the jalepenos, pickles, etc. in the grocery store)

Place all ingredients in your crock pot. Cook on low 8+ hours. I turn mine on around 10:00 Saturday night. When I get up on Sunday, I break it apart and let it continue cooking until we return home from church. Depending on the size of your roast, a whole package of the dressing mix may be too much.

Sunday Roast

We eat lunch at home every other Sunday. We rotate among the roast above, this one and one other dish.

3 lb chuck roast (my favorite cut)
1 pkg Lipton Onion soup mix
1 can cream of mushroom soup
potatoes, carrots and onions, chunked.

Place roast and veggies in your crock pot. Cover with mushroom soup and sprinkle on soup mix. Depending on the size of your roast and number of veggies, you can use 2 cans. Do NOT add water. The soup and beef juices will make a nice gravy. Cook on low 8+ hours. I do the same thing with this roast I do with the one above.

Crock Pot Stroganoff
This is what we are having for dinner tomorrow night.

2lb round steak
1/4c flour
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1tsp garlic bits
3 Tbsp butter
1 small onion
1 Tbsp soy sauce
2 beef bullion cubes
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1c. water
8oz pkg cream cheese

Cut steak into 1 x 1/2 inch strips. Mix with flour, pepper, salt and garlic. Add to crock pot with rest of ingredients,except cream cheese. Cook on low for 5-7 hours. Stir occasionally. Last 1/2 hour add an 8oz package of cream cheese, cubed. Serve over cooked noodles. I like to serve this with a spinach salad and breadsticks.

Hot Pepper Casserole
This is a unique dish that is a signature item of a dear lady in my church. Her dish is empty after ever fellowship meal.

Combine until well blended:
4-5 eggs
1 large can evaporated fat-free milk
1 small can evaporated fat-free milk
2/3c. whole wheat flour

24 oz (3 c.) jalapenos, hot banana peppers or chopped green chilies (depends on your heat tolerance)

Reserve 1/2 c. from:
32 oz bag shredded Mexican blend cheese

Layer cheese and jalapenos. Pour milk mixture over.

Top with:
8oz can tomato sauce

Cook on high for about 2 hours, until firm. Refrigerate overnight for church. Sprinkle with reserved cheese and heat on low during the service.

Or bake half a recipe in a 2 qt baking dish at 350 for 20 minutes. Add cheese and bake 25-30 minutes more.

Taco Soup
We have this soup a lot in the fall and winter. I even made it ahead, froze it and took it to the beach with us last year.

In a crock pot place the following:
pound of ground beef. browned and drained
1 medium onion, chopped (I use dried flakes)
15 1/4 oz can whole kernel corn, undrained
10 oz can Ro-tel, undrained
150z chili beans, undrained
10 3/4 oz tomato soup, undiluted
1 1/4 oz envelope taco seasoning
1c water

Heat in crock pot 4 hours on low. Serve with tortilla chips and Monterey Jack (or other favorite) cheese.

Chicken in a Pot
I haven't made this in a really long time. Actually I think I forgot about it until going through my recipe box. I'm moving it to the front. It will be on the table again soon.

chicken pieces (whatever you like) or cut up boneless breasts
2 carrots
2 onions
2 potatoes
2 celery stalks
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 can water

Chunk all vegetables. Place all the ingredients in your crock pot. Cook on low 7-8 hours.

Tortilla Soup
I have 2 Fix-It and Forget-It cookbooks. When our stove was out for 3 weeks, I relied on them heavily. This is a recipe we first tried during that time and really enjoyed.

4 chicken breast halves
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tbsp margarine
2 14 1/2 ox cans chicken broth
2 14 1/2 oz cans stewed tomatoes (I use home canned and run them through the blender.)
1 c salsa
1/2 c chopped cilantro ( I omit)
1 Tbsp or more cumin
8 oz Monterey Jack
sour cream
tortilla chips

1. Cook, debone and shred chicken
2. Add chicken and remaining ingredients to the crock pot, except cheese, sour cream and chips.
3. Cook on low 8-10 hours
Garnish as desired

This is the original recipe. I made a note that I thought it could use some kind of beans. I'll probably use black or pinto next time I make it.

You can find a couple of crock pot breakfast items here.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Soup's On!

I love soup! I love the warmth of it, the variety and I love that I can make a huge batch and freeze the leftovers. We eat a lot of soup. Three of our favorites are copycat recipes from chain restaurants. I'm sharing those recipes today along my favorite Weight Watchers soup as part of Raising Olives and the 4 Moms.

Carabas Sausage and Lentil Soup

Tbsp oil
2 stalks celery, diced
large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
lb hot Italian sausage* (bulk or links with casing removed)
8c. chicken broth
28 oz whole tomatoes
2c dried lentils
tsp salt
3/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2tsp thyme
1/2 tsp fennel seeds (I omit)
bay leaf

In a large saucepan, heat oil. Add carrot, celery, onion and garlic. Saute until tender. Remove vegetables from the pan and add sausage. Brown and drain off the fat. In a large stock pot, place chicken broth, vegetables and meat. Add tomatoes breaking them up with your hands. (My husband hates chunks of tomatoes so I run them through the blender.)

Add dried lentils which have been washed according to the package directions. Add seasonings. Simmer until the lentils are tender, about 30-45 minutes. Remove 1/3 of the soup, run it through the blender and return it to the pot. Check seasoning and remove bay leaf.

*I think this soup is very spicy if you use hot sausage and the red pepper flakes. The last time I made it I didn't use the hot and like it much better.

Chili's Chicken Enchilada Soup

This is one soup everyone in my family is happy to see on the table. I've had kids ask for it for their birthday meal! I personally think this recipe is MUCH better than the soup served in the restaurant.

tbsp oil
lb chicken breasts (approx. 3 fillets)
1/2c diced onion
garlic clove, pressed
4c chicken broth
1c masa harina (corn flour available in the Mexican food section of the grocery store)
3c water
1c enchilada sauce (I use a 10oz can)
16 oz Velveeta
tsp salt
tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin

shredded cheddar cheese
crumbled corn tortilla chips
pico de gallo

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add chicken breasts and brown for 4-5 minutes per side. Set chicken aside.

Add onions and garlic to pot and saute over medium heat for about 2 minutes or until onions become translucent. Add chicken broth. Combine masa harina with 2 cups of water in a medium bowl and whisk until blended. Add masa mixture to pot with onions, garlic and broth. Add remaining water, enchilada sauce, cheese and spices to pot and bring mixture to a boil. Shred chicken into small, bite-sized pieces and add it to the pot. Reduce heat and simmer soup for 30-40 minutes or until thick. Serve soup in bowls and garnish as desired. (We use Fritos.)

Tony Roma's Baked Potato Soup

I've never been to this restaurant, but I LOVE this soup.

2 medium potatoes (about 2 cups chopped)
3 Tbsp butter
1 cup diced onion
2 Tbsp flour
4c chicken stock
2c water
1/4c cornstarch
1 1/2c instant mashed potatoes
tsp salt
3/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp basil
1/8 tsp thyme
cup half and half

shredded cheddar cheese
green onions

Bake potatoes, peel and chop. Melt butter in a large saucepan and saute onion until light brown. Add the flour to the onions and stir to make a roux. Add stock, water cornstarch, mashed potatoes and spices to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add chopped potato and half and half, bring soup back to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer the soup for another 15 minutes or until it is thick. Garnish individual bowls as desired.

Cuban Black Bean Soup (3 pts)

I found this recipe in a Weight Watcher's magazine. The kids and I thought it was pretty yummy. I served it with Rosemary Flatbread that came from the same magazine.

1c refrigerated prechopped celery, onion and bell pepper mix (I just chopped fresh)
15oz can reduced-sodium black beans
14.5 oz can fire-roasted tomatoes, undrained
2c vegetable broth
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1/8 tsp ground allspice
1/4c reduced-fat sour cream
1/4c chopped green onions

Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat; coat pan with cooking spray. Add vegetable mix to pan; saute 2 minutes. Stir in beans and next 5 ingredients. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Mash beans slightly with a potato masher. Stir until coup is slightly thickened. Top each serving with sour cream and onions. Makes 4 (1 1/2 cup) servings.


Thursday, January 6, 2011

A Snowy Day

Wednesday night we received about 2 inches of fluffy wet snow. This was one of the prettiest snows we've had this winter because it clung to everything. After breakfast and Bible time we took a "recess" from school and went out to play. I grabbed my camera and tried to capture some of the beauty around us.

I can see this farm from my backyard. I often admire it whenever I am outside. Today it was especially beautiful.

These trees are on a property across the road from me. I just wanted lots of trees, but when I uploaded the picture I discovered a surprise. Can you spot it?

The kids had fun sledding, using the saucer and building a snowman.

We always finish off our snow time with a mug of hot chocolate. While we were at my parents' home after Christmas I gave Andrew a mug to drink water from. He quickly pointed out, "That is for hot chocolate!" Here is the recipe I always have on hand during the winter. Some of the kids like to add marshmallows while others top theirs with Cool Whip. We also add a splash of creme de menthe.

Hot Chocolate Mix
Pound box of Nestle Quik
8qt. box instant milk
6oz jar coffee creamer
1/2 pound powdered sugar

Mix the ingredients in a large bowl and store in an air tight container. To make hot chocolate measure 1/3 c of the mixture into a mug and fill with boiling water. Stir.

While the kids were having "recess", I had time to do some extra cooking. I love having homemade soup for lunch when it's cold outside. Today I made chicken noodle soup and homemade French bread. I LOVE this bread recipe. It's the second time I've made it this week.

French Bread (from my friend Sarah)
Dissolve 2 1/2 tsp yeast in 1 1/2 c warm water. Combine 5c bread flour, 2 tsp salt, 1 Tbsp sugar. Add 1c flour mixture at a time. (I usually have to add an extra 1/4c of water) Knead 4 minutes. Place in an oiled bowl and cover. Let rise 45-60 minutes.* Divide in 1/2. Roll on surface sprinkled with cornmeal. Tightly roll to form a loaf. Place seam side down in a French bread pan. Let rise until double. Bake 20 minutes at 400 degrees. (I cover with foil after 10 minutes.)

* I heat my oven to 200 degrees and then turn it off. I place my dough inside covered with plastic wrap to rise.

PS It's snowing again! :-)