living life, choosing joy

Category Archives: Cooking

Hello Friends.

This past week was a little off for me. My kiddos were sick/recovering from a nasty fever/cough that they kindly decided to share with me and Nathan. Yuck.

Here are my two kiddos being silly this past week…gotta love the no pants 😉

My two little rodeo clowns :)

Rodeo Clown 2

Despite being under the weather, I was pretty on it about eating leftovers and eating up stuff before it went bad (not so on it about posting early in the week as promised), and I tried really hard to follow my own advice that I shared in my last post.

But first, a sad thing happened to our fridge last week. I opened it on Thursday morning and it was warm.

Say what?!

The freezer was defrosting too.

Oh Lord have mercy. Not today!

I was able to salvage the freezer stuff (mostly) and take it to the deep freeze we have in the garage. And since the freezer was cooling like a fridge, I moved all the food from the fridge to the freezer. But alas, there were still some casualties. I failed to get any pictures (there was A LOT going on and I was in no mood to take photos at 7 am!!).

So food lost from a failing fridge isn’t really MY FAULT, right?? I don’t think so, but I will report the loss anyway, even though it was definitely out of my control.

The casualty list is as follows:
• 2 Gallons of Milk, each about half full. (We have two different types of milk)
• Most of the quart of Half & Half
• A bag of chopped celery from the freezer
• All of the lemon juice ice cubes from the freezer (they were stored on the door and were leaking out on to the floor. Yuck.)

All in all, it wasn’t so much to lose, but it was frustrating. Thankfully the fridge was repaired later that day and is currently back to normal working order. Apparently it was a broken thermostat.( If only it was the compressor…we could have a new fridge by now!! 😉 )

Food to eat up right away!

Food to eat up right away!

On Monday morning (trash day), I dutifully pulled out the food that needed to be eaten. I changed my meal plan for the evening to include the foods that we needed to eat up. And it was a good move on my part because dinner was delicious! I modified this recipe and I think I will be making it again soon. Nothing like bacon to make cauliflower amazing!

dead salad. boo.

                       dead salad. boo.

The only thing that hit the trash can on my (intentional) watch was a bag of salad and 1 lb of some very gross mushy raw carrots (not pictured). (Didn’t know they got mushy? Funny, neither did I!). Two things that were on the list of waste last week too. Fail. The salad is just not the same the next day. Making too much? I don’t know. We have some more salad in the fridge as we speak. I will have to make sure I eat it TODAY so I don’t have to take another photo of dead salad in a few days.

So there you have it. Less waste than last week, but still room for improvement.

How did you do last week? Are you having trouble getting certain foods eaten before they go bad?


msm cleaning

So I am now on Day 8 of the 30-Day House Cleaning Challenge. If you aren’t following along , it’s not too late to jump in! {Check it out over at Money Saving Mom}. 

So on to today’s challenge: sweep and vacuum all the floors in your house

Not too difficult of a task to start off the week! Especially since this is already on my weekly list for Monday 🙂


I still have a few things left to do!

And since my house is pretty small (approx 750 sq ft), I can get it vacuumed and swept in no time! I didn’t take any photos because, well, they would be pretty boring…and the LAST thing I would want to do on here is bore you! So instead I will just say that I did the challenge, it was quick, and I am happy with the results!

I also decluttered some stuff from my son’s room today


It really does feel good to get rid of stuff! { of the books was mine 🙂 }

And now I will share with you a very delicious cookie recipe 🙂

But first, I will set it up. I was a girl scout way back in my youth (any of my peeps out there??!!), and so I remember the cookie season fondly {and by fondly I mean harassing people at grocery stores, being signed up for every spare cookie booth post by my leader mom, and going door to door and selling to strangers…my peeps know what I’m talking ’bout 😉 }.  But really, the best part of the whole process was access to all of the cookies! It really was a wonderful memory from my childhood (thanks mom!).

However, I recently purchased a few boxes of Tagalongs (aka Peanut Butter Patties, aka a million other names that are specific to county and/or region) from a girl scout I know.  And while they brought back good memories of sugary goodness, as a cookie they were rather…disappointing (and at $4.00 per box, I really think they should be awesome — anyone else with me??).

So, I decided to create my own Tagalongs using peanut butter, powdered sugar, chocolate chips, and Ritz Crackers. And! My husband took some to work and they were enjoyed very quickly with requests for more! I have seen a lot of different recipes that have you make your own cookie portion, but using the Ritz is SO much easier (although not very healthy, I know :)).

So here goes, my super awesome recipe 🙂 .

Homemade Tagalongs


  • 64 Ritz Crackers (about half a regular box)
  • 2 – 12oz Bags Chocolate Chips. (I used semi-sweet chocolate chips, but I have read other recipes that have tried milk chocolate chips or white chocolate chips. I suppose you could do either, but I really like semi-sweet).
  • 1 cup Peanut Butter (give or take)
  • Powdered Sugar – to taste (about 1/2 -1 cup, depending on how sweet you want it)

This is what it looks like to make them 🙂


  1. Mix Peanut Butter and Powdered Sugar. At first it will seem too dry, but keep mixing and it gets better. (You want it kinda stiff, rather than gooey).
  2. Make 32 peanut butter sandwiches with Ritz Crackers and PB mix.
  3. Place 1 – 12 oz bag of chocolate chips in a microwave safe glass bowl. Heat in microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring after each time (takes about 2 min total).
  4. Put sandwich flat in chocolate. Use fork to “spoon” chocolate on top of it so it is completely covered. Lift out with fork and tap just the fork on the side of the glass bowl to shake off excess chocolate. You want to dip them quickly, before the chocolate has time to harden. Don’t try to re-heat the chocolate to make it soft, because it just makes it dry, and then you will be sad :(. I suggest doing one 12oz bag at a time. That’s what I did.
  5. Place dipped cookie on cookie sheet covered with wax paper, repeat until done.
  6. You can leave cookies out to “dry”, or speed up the process by freezing them (while still on the cookie sheet).
  7. Try to only eat one at a time. Enjoy!

Each 12oz bag of chocolate chips is enough for about 16 cookies (depending on how chocolate-y you like your cookies). So this recipe is enough to make about 32 cookies total.


Homemade Tagalongs – SO GOOD!

Give ’em a whirl — you won’t be sorry! {And, by the way, I will still support Girl Scouts through cookie sales, because I know they are a great organization — I was one once too, remember? 🙂 .}

Happy Monday!

Has anyone else cooked up something fun lately?? How are you doing on the cleaning challenges?

So I found a GREAT deal at the grocery store the other day – reduced to sell, Jeannie-O Spicy Italian Turkey Sausage – 99  cents for 1.22 lbs.

Now, discount meat speaks a special language to me — I LOVE finding deals like these! Especially when it’s Jeannie-O Turkey 🙂  So I set to work making good use of the four packs I purchased (there were more, but to be honest, I did not actually have a plan for it…so I didn’t want to get too greedy ;)).

Now I had to find a use for a meat that I did not typically buy. Hmmm. I could just use it in spaghetti sauce. But there was a lot of it and my husband is not in love with spaghetti (unlike me, who could eat it 3 times a week and pine for leftovers). <insert wistful, longing-for-spaghetti type sigh here>.

No, I could be more creative. So instead I turned to the ubiquitous casserole.

So without further ado, here is my recipe for how to use {some} spicy Italian sausage when you have A LOT of it 🙂

Creamy Sausage Casserole


~1 lb or so of Spicy Italian Sausage (I really DO love Jeannie-O brand!)

1/2 cup chopped spinach – Fresh or Frozen

1 lb pasta, cooked (I used rotelle, but you could use elbow or penne too)

1/2 cup Sour Cream (or cream of chicken soup, alfredo sauce – any white sauce will do)

1 cup Shredded Cheese, or to taste

{You could also try some spices if you like that kind of thing. Maybe Italian Seasoning or something. You could also substitute just about any of the ingredients to what you have on hand. That really is the beauty of the casserole, after all :).}


  1. Cook Pasta, drain, etc. (you know, how you normally would :))
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  3. Mix pasta, sour cream (or other white sauce), sausage, and spinach together in a bowl until everything is mixed well and evenly “coated”.
  4. Pour everything into a glass 9×13 pan
  5. Sprinkle cheese over the top
  6. Bake uncovered for 30-35 minutes.

And that’s it!

This works really well to make earlier in the day (like during certain little peoples’ nap times) and put in the fridge until dinner time rolls around. Then all you have to do is pop it in the oven. Because, is it just me or do other people’s kids get KA-RAZY right around 4:30 when you start trying to prep something for dinner??? Even just making a quick pot of pasta can become a disaster!!

Prep early, prep often. That’s my motto — at least when it comes to casseroles 🙂

I forgot to get a photo before some of it got hijacked! But it was delicious!!

I forgot to get a photo before some of it got hijacked! But it was delicious!!

What about you? Do you like to experiment with creating new casseroles??

P.S. The remaining 4 lbs of sausage went cooked and into the freezer…for a future casserole…maybe 😉