Easy Egg Casserole

 

Egg casseroleGreat food, not-so-great pic. My apologies! I blame the paint fumes. :)

I don’t know about you all, but I have had a very busy two weeks. The main reason? I have decided to paint my kitchen. It was green, probably what you would call a light forest green, and I needed a change. The green had to go! I liked it when we first moved in nine years ago but probably for the past couple years or so I was just kind of over it. I had been putting it off because…painting. Ugh!

Anyway, I’m not completely done yet, just part of a wall left! But I have to sand some patched cracks and it’s just not a whole lot of fun. You might just say I have a crack problem. ;)

In the midst of all the painting craziness, my mom and two of my sisters came for a visit (missed you, Amber!) to celebrate my birthday. It’s become a yearly tradition that I really love and look forward to. Mom usually buys everybody lunch while she’s here, but this year I decided to do something a little different. Brunch is my very favorite meal to fix so I decided to do a nice brunch for us. It’s cheaper than a restaurant and very tasty! Ideally, I was going to make it much fancier than it was, but in the midst of my painting frenzy, I decided to keep things relatively simple. We had Easy Egg Casserole, Cheesy Potato Casserole, bagels with cream cheese, fresh fruit, coffee, and juice.

If you need a quick and delicious breakfast/brunch/dinner/whatever, then I highly recommend this Easy Egg Casserole. I have made it many, many times over the years and it is always well received. I hope you enjoy this as much as we do!

Easy Egg Casserole*
1 can crescent rolls (pretend it’s a superfood, okay?)
4-5 eggs
3/4 to 1 cup milk
2 cups of your favorite cheese
1 pound of bacon or sausage, cooked
salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
2.Grease a 9×13-inch pan.
3. Spread out and flatten the crescent rolls onto the bottom the pan.
4. Whisk the eggs and milk together in a bowl.
5. Add the cheese, meat, salt, and pepper to your egg mixture and pour over the crescent rolls.
6. Bake for 20-30 minutes until it’s golden brown on top.

*I have done lots of variations with this as well to include different kinds of meat like ham and even ground beef. I’ve also made a vegetarian version when my garden produce was in season. I added spinach, mushrooms, onions, and tomatoes in place of the meat. Yum!

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Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole (low carb!)

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Last month, I catered and directed a dinner theater. Yes really! It was complete with fancy decorations, red carpet ropes, and lots and lots of glitter! I will have more on that later, but it was SO. MUCH. FUN!! The pics and details will be coming soon, at least that’s my plan anyway. It was the biggest project I have ever done. Lots of good food, good acting, and wonderful guests!

Anyway, one of the dishes I prepared that night was chicken cordon bleu casserole. When I was a kid, I remember my mom making chicken cordon bleu and I really liked it. I don’t remember all the steps she went through, but I do know that this particular dish is fairly time consuming. You have to pound the chicken breasts out flat, add some ham and Swiss cheese, fold the flattened chicken breast over the ham and cheese, secure it with a toothpick, and then dip it in melted butter and bread crumbs, and then bake. Definitely good but not exactly a quick meal.

I knew that on dinner theater night, I wanted something fancy but easy at the same time. Preparing 40 chicken breasts for chicken cordon bleu would most certainly NOT be easy. I found a solution to my problem over on Low Carb Yum in this casserole version of the fancy dish! The best part? Everyone loved it!

Instead of the traditional bread crumb topping, this recipe uses pork rinds to keep it low carb, though if you don’t particularly care about that, you can definitely use bread crumbs or you could just go without altogether. It will still be amazing.

Sadly, in all the hustle and bustle of getting everything ready, I forgot to take pictures of the meal! Sniff, sniff. I guess I’ll just have to make it again. :) Without further ado, here’s the recipe!

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole
Adapted from Low Carb Yum

1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup heavy cream
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
8 ounces Swiss cheese, chopped
16 ounces ham (You can use lunch meat if you want, but since fully cooked shank hams were on sale at Aldi, I just bought one of those because it was a bit cheaper and cut it up.)
3 cups cooked, chopped chicken
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup crushed pork rinds, optional

1. Mix the mayonnaise, heavy cream, and cream cheese together.

2. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and garlic powder.

3. Add in the Swiss cheese, ham, chicken, and chicken broth.

4. Stir everything together and spread it in a 9×13-inch baking dish. Top with crushed pork rinds if you want.

5. Bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes or until top begins to brown.

 Enjoy! This dish is amazing!

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In Which the Author Discusses the Egregious Nature of Exercise and the Delights of Wine

So it’s 9:45 p.m. I am sitting here in my yoga pants and a t-shirt, thinking that maybe I should work out. But then again, my bathrobe, my Boba Fett slippers, a glass of wine, and an old movie are calling my name. The kids will be going to bed soon and David is working late. And it will be just me. Really I should exercise. Really, really. But man, I just don’t wanna. While I work up some much-needed motivation, I figured I would talk about some of the exercises I do most often, those that I dislike the least anyway. :)

For starters, if you don’t have a kettle bell, you need to get yo’self one! There are few things that I can think of that will trim your waistline like a kettle bell. Well, not the thing itself. I mean you still have to use it. But wouldn’t it be so nice if just owning a kettle bell was enough? Sigh.

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I usually do some kettle bell workouts on YouTube. There are lots and lots of YouTube workouts, you guys! My favorite is Bodyfit by Amy. I want to be like her when I grow up. She has excellent videos that are challenging but doable and she explains each move and shows how to do a proper kettle bell swing (a move that will help your love handles!).

Moving on to the next workout, an old but trusty DVD I have done (and did a review of on here before) is Jillian Michaels’ 30-Day Shred. That will definitely help you lose inches if you are consistent. There are 3 levels that gradually increase in intensity. After you master one level, you move to the next. There is a lady who does the hard stuff (psh!) and another lady that shows some modified moves.

Also, one thing I really enjoy doing is just plain old walking. I grab my iPhone and my headphones and escape for about 30 minutes of ME TIME! Ahhh…it’s so refreshing, especially if the weather is mild. I love my sweet babes, but I know all you moms can relate to some alone time. And my calves are definitely more toned since I have been walking more. A great side effect!

hiker-1984421_1920See how happy this guy is? It must be because he’s out on a walk!

Anyway people, it’s now 10:05 and not getting any earlier. There are only two things left on my very long to-do list today and do you know what they are? Working out and showering. I think my OCD is too strong to actually NOT let me workout, so off I go! Good night, my friends.

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My Favorite Bread

 

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Ah, bread. There’s nothing quite like the smell of homemade bread wafting through your house. I used to be very intimidated with the idea of making my own bread. I was sure I was going to mess it up somehow, and admittedly I have had some bread-making blunders over the years, but once you get the hang of it, it’s really not a big deal. And even seasoned cooks have had blunders, so put your worries aside and know that you’re not alone!

David really likes the European-style bread, the kind that’s crusty on the outside and chewy and soft on the inside. Yum! I really like all kinds of bread. When I used to work at a bakery in my hometown, they made the most amazing bread ever with sunflower seeds. Major yum. I haven’t experimented much with that yet, but it’s on my to-do list!

I have settled on a very easy, artisan-style loaf that we just really love around here. The best part is that no kneading is required! This seems like a lot of work but it’s really not. Don’t let the long list of steps scare you. It really comes together easily. Here’s the recipe:

Artisan Bread:
3 cups lukewarm water (slightly warmer than body temperature)
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast or 2 (7 1/4 g) packets granulated yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
6 1/2 cups unsifted unbleached, all-purpose flour

1. Mix the yeast with the water in a 5-quart mixing bowl or other bowl of your choosing. The yeast doesn’t have to be completely dissolved.

2. In another bowl, mix together the salt and the flour. When you measure your flour, make sure you don’t pack it down as that can result in too much flour. Just scoop your flour and then level it off with a knife or something.

3. Now add your flour/salt mixture to your water/yeast mixture and stir until it’s uniformly moist. Remember, you don’t have to knead it.

4. And now the dough is ready to rise. Put a lid or piece of plastic wrap over the top and let it hang out on your counter for a couple of hours. Depending on the temperature in your kitchen, it may need to rise for a longer time, and that’s okay. Just let it rise until it’s flattened on top.

Your dough is now ready for baking! However, you can just stick it in the fridge now if you want. This dough will keep in your fridge for two weeks! Just hack off what you want when you’re ready to bake.

If you want to bake it now:
1. Sprinkle some flour on your dough.

2. Hack off a grapefruit-sized portion of dough and add flour as needed so it’s not sticky.

3. Form it into a round loaf (though if you don’t want round, whatever shape is good – you do you, girl!). Pull it and stretch it as you’re forming until it’s nice and smooth.

4. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees (seems pretty high, huh? No worries!) Put an empty broiler pan in your oven on a different shelf than what your bread will be on. This will be for water.

5. Dust your loaf with flour and use a knife to make some artsy kind of slashes.

6. Put your loaf into the oven and add about a cup of water to your empty broiler pan. The steam from the water is what gives this bread a nice, crusty exterior.

7. Let it bake for about 30 minutes or so or until the loaf is nice and brown and firm to the touch.

Here is what the finished product looks like!

Artisan breadI used an air-bake pan and then cooked the dough on parchment paper.

You can get fancy with different kinds of slashes on your loaf. It’s kind of fun to experiment. And now you can impress your friends and family with your new bread-making skilz! :) If you try it, let me know!

 

Posted in Breads, Recipes | 1 Comment

Exercise Myths Debunked, Lisa Style!

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Exercise is hard, you know? So I thought for a little fun, I’d post my take on some of the exercise “myths” of our day. Because I know that so many people are being misled,  I feel it is my civic duty to set you all straight. You’re welcome. ;) With it being the start of the new year and all, a lot of people are beginning to exercise more, getting gym memberships and the like. Let me tell you, people are just being misled!*

Myth #1: Exercise will give you more energy. *snoooore*. Oh, I’m sorry, what were we talking about? I’m so tiiiirrrred. :) I guess that’s not always the case, but srsly, sometimes I am just downright tired after I work out. Maybe I need to eat more… nom, nom, nom!

koala-1651052_1920(I hear you, cute, little, sleepy koala. I hear you.)

Myth #2: You’ll like to exercise if you just find something you like to do. Hmmm…will you please find me an exercise activity that does not involve sweating? Because I really don’t like to sweat. It makes for more laundry, more showers, etc. Although I will say Pilates does come awfully close. I just don’t have a lot of patience for it. But really, what other exercise routines have you laying down the whole time?!

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Myth #3: Exercise is a hunger suppressant.  *crunch, crunch* *gulp* *burp* Uh, hi! Next myth please…

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Myth #4: Exercise will increase your self-confidence: You guys, I don’t know about you all, but I jiggle and it just ain’t pretty. And why does everyone look so happy and amazing on these workout videos anyway while I am dripping with sweat and hating the world and feeling very incompetent? I rest my case. And don’t get me started on those ladies at the gym. I used to hang out in the back for  a reason.

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Myth #5: Exercise will develop more muscle: It’s there. It’s gotta be there somewhere. Maybe underneath all that flab…

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Now hopefully I have set you straight on all those misconceptions that you might have had about exercise. It’s about time someone cleared things up a bit. From one struggling mom to another who is about to pop in another workout DVD or perhaps do a workout on YouTube (there are so many!), you are not alone!

*All of this was said tongue in cheek. Just in case you were concerned, I don’t really consider the above to be myths at all. I think we can all relate to feeling this way about exercise at one time or another. And man, sometimes exercise just sucks. :)

Posted in Exercise, Health/Wellness | 1 Comment

Tips for Easy Meals

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When David and I were first married, I had very little experience with cooking. I mean very, very little. When I still lived at home with my parents, I cooked some but definitely not very much. After we were married, my go-to recipe was spaghetti because it was easy and we both liked it. Tired and needed an easy meal? Spaghetti. Company coming over? Spaghetti. A romantic meal for two? Yeah. Spaghetti again. :) I did expand my menu repertoire over the years (thankfully!) and as you might imagine, we really don’t eat spaghetti that often anymore. David has been a very willing guinea pig too, which I really appreciate. I have had a few flops but most things have actually turned out well!

If you need some help in planning meals for your family either due to lack of experience or feel like you just don’t have time, here are some things that have helped me quite a bit over the years.

1. Don’t make it difficult.
Your meals don’t have to be fancy and elaborate to be good and healthy. There is a time and a place for that but if you are tired after a long day of work or homeschooling or you’re just starting out in your cooking adventures, go with an easy recipe. Even now, nearly 17 years after our wedding day, a lot of my recipes don’t have much more than five ingredients or so. And you know what? I have gotten more compliments on those recipes than on more elaborate ones!

(Psst. Here’s an easy recipe for you:)

2. Use your Crock Pot
Several years ago when I first started working from home, my older two kids were pretty young and I was working from 2p.m. until about 8 p.m. every weeknight. I used my Crock Pot ALL the time! It was a lifesaver for me. Now, you do have to do some planning, but dinner cooks all day long and when the busyness of the evening comes around, it’s ready! Some meals are so easy that you don’t even have to defrost the meat. I will be posting some of those recipes soon.

3. Enlist some help!
My older two children (who are now 14 and 15) are a huge help to me in the kitchen. This obviously didn’t happen overnight and took some training, but it definitely pays off. They were able to do some pretty basic things even when they were younger, and I got to spend some quality time with them too. Now that they’re older, they can take over a lot of the meal preparation, and this has saved my sanity on more than one occasion.

4. Find a few meals you and your family like and stick with them.
I have a friend who kind of just rotates through about five or six meals that she makes for her family. She doesn’t have a whole lot of experience and cooking isn’t really her thing, so this works really well for her. It’s easy and economical. Her kids don’t complain and they love those meals. I have seen them chow down! This sounds like a great option. Maybe after awhile your family will get tired of those same meals, so then you can change it up and come up with another five or six meals that they really like. I think planning meals this way is an excellent, easy, and frugal idea. And I’m all about being frugal!

I hope that these tips have been helpful. If anyone has other suggestions, I would love to hear them! If you have some inexpensive and easy recipes to share, please do so! The more, the better! :)

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Easy Roasted Chicken and Vegetables

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There is a time and a place for luxurious, fancy meals. Those can be really fun. Most days, however, I just need easy. Easy and good. This recipe serves both purposes. You just need to remember to pull your chicken out of the freezer ahead of time. Ahem. :)

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating. I don’t often measure anything in my recipes so the following is kind of an estimate. You can vary it depending on the amount of people you are serving.

Easy Roasted Chicken and Vegetables

1 lb. of carrots, cut up (Use baby carrots to make it super easy, and you don’t even have to cut them up!)
3 lbs. (or so) of potatoes, cubed
3-5 lbs. of raw chicken breasts, cut up (or you can use thighs)
1-2 packets of ranch dressing mix OR 2-4 tablespoons of homemade ranch dressing mix
1 stick of butter, cut up

Toss everything together and put it in your Crock Pot on low for 6-8 hours.

Enjoy!

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Pico De Gallo

There are some things that taste like summer to me. Watermelon, lemonade, hamburgers on the grill. And pico de gallo! We love to make this recipe in the summer. It’s easy, healthy, and uses up the abundance of garden tomatoes you hopefully have! 

tomato-721603_1920It is getting to be tomato season. Are you swimming in tomatoes yet? My plants aren’t doing as well as last year, but I hope to at least get enough to make a batch or two of our favorite salsa: pico de gallo, also known as fresh tomato salsa. Now, I will warn you that with so many of my recipes, I rarely measure anything. This recipe is no exception. So much of it is a matter of personal preference. Maybe you don’t like cilantro at all so you can leave that out. Maybe you prefer a milder batch? Go ahead and leave out the jalapeno. It’s kind of trial and error really. Here is the recipe.

Pico de Gallo
Fresh tomatoes, maybe 3 or 4
1/2 to 1 red onion (I’ve used yellow and white before too.)
1/2 to 1 jalapeno, seeded (or omit this altogether)
a bunch of cilantro (This is where your personal preference will come in. Start with a smaller amount and add more if you think it needs it.)
2 teaspoons more or less of fresh minced garlic (I have also used garlic powder to taste.)
salt to taste

Now just chop everything up and mix it together. Add more seasoning if needed. Enjoy with tortilla chips!

Posted in Recipes | 2 Comments

Goal Update and New Weekly Goals

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Time to sit down and give a recap of my goals from last week. I had a fairly productive week, though didn’t get everything done, particularly in our home repair category. So I’ll just tack that on to this week’s list. I really would like to at least get some of that stuff done!

Gardening:
Weed, baby, weed (the vegetable garden specifically).
Harvest some kale. (I didn’t get that done but harvested some tomatoes, squash, and jalapenos!)
Water consistently. (The Lord took care of that one for me! We had some rain this past week so I didn’t need to water.)
Weed back flower bed. (Isaiah did this one.)
Weed front flower bed. (He did this one too! :) )

Home Improvement Projects: Well, sadly, I didn’t accomplish anything in this category. Time to move the list to this week’s goals!
Buy peel and stick vinyl for this project. I am so excited to try this! It might actually be something I can do.
Scrape the porch of old stain
Prep the porch to apply new stain
Hopefully apply the stain and be done with this project!

Personal:
Devotions before noon each day
Set aside some time to read. (Didn’t get that one done. Does Pinterest count? ;) )
Work out every day. (I did this everyday but Thursday.)
Write out my to-do list for the next day the night before. (It really seems to work best for me to do this in the morning so that’s what I will stick with.)

Homemaking:
Prep dinner in the morning using the crockpot or plan an easy meal.
Bake some bread to freeze (I baked some bread, just didn’t freeze it!)
Follow the Motivated Moms chore planner at least 80% of the time.
Have the house straightened up before David gets home from work.
Declutter! (I am always on a mission to declutter, though that’s not always a good thing; just ask David!)

Children:
With the older kids, help them with math.
Keep all kids on task with their chores.
Make sure the older kids memorize their catechism.
For the younger kids, help Sam with his reading lesson. (We are slowly making our way through his reading lesson book.)
Help them memorize catechism questions.


And now goals for this week!

Gardening
Weed veggie garden (this will be ongoing).
Harvest veggies (including kale!).

Blogging
Blog everyday!
Post a recipe or two.
Take some business-related classes on Alison.com (they’re free!).
Read posts about blogging (incomeschool.com has some great information).

Home Improvement Projects
See last week’s list. It is exactly the same!

Personal
Continue having devotions before noon each day.
Set aside some time to read everyday.
Work out everyday.
Write my to-do list every morning.

Homemaking
Prep dinner in the morning or around lunch time (or at least have a plan in place to make dinnertime run smoothly).
Follow the Motivated Moms chore planner 80% of the time.
Continue my decluttering mission!
Have the house straightened up before David gets home everyday.

Children
Help the older kids with math.
Go over catechism questions with younger kids.
Help older kids stay on task with memorizing catechism questions.
Continue reading lessons with Sam.

I hope everyone has a productive week!

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Gardening Update

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Note: The following post may contain one or more affiliate links. By purchasing through these links, I receive a small compensation that supports this site. Thank you so much!

I love this time of year! There is so much fresh produce available. The garden is doing well for the most part. I have a TON of kale and basil. Plus my zucchini and summer squash plants are doing great. My tomato plants aren’t looking so hot though. They do have some tomatoes on them, but not as many as I think they should. The plants themselves aren’t getting very big and the leaves are turning yellow toward the bottom. I’m not sure what’s going on there. Hopefully I will get enough to make pico de gallo. We made a ton of that last year. It was so good!

My bell pepper and jalapeno pepper plants are producing nicely too. However, I have so much stuff crammed in my garden that some of these plants aren’t getting enough sun. I think when my squash plants are done producing, they will get more sun and produce better. Lesson learned!

In the spring when everything was still small or hadn’t grown at all yet, I saw all the empty space and wanted to fill it up with as many veggies as I could. Now it is like a jungle out there! My space between rows especially by the squash plants is pretty much nonexistent. It’s exciting to see how much stuff I can grow though. And my garden plot isn’t huge by any stretch of the imagination.

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Some dear friends recently gave me a book called The Backyard Homestead. The author shows you how to grow so much food, even if you don’t live on much space! It gives you the basics on how to grow pretty much anything, even information for raising chickens (something I would love to do one day!) and other livestock. I have been slowly making my way through the book. It has lots of information in there.

If you have a garden, how is it growing this year? Any issues with bugs, weather, or bad soil? I have often remarked that I am so thankful we don’t have to rely solely on our gardens for food. I think we’d go hungry! :)

Posted in Gardening | 4 Comments