Sour Cream Noodle Bake

Hey everyone,

Hope you all had a great weekend! We sure did here.

My piano recital on Saturday went really well. I was really proud of all the kids who worked so hard! It’s so fun to see them succeed. Then Hubby and I had a date night! We ate at Chili’s and went to see the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie. I actually really liked it, though I’ve heard mixed reviews about it.

This recipe I made on Friday night. I modified it from The Pioneer Woman’s original recipe. Not that I’m saying her recipes aren’t great the way they are! But I changed it to fit more for 2 people, as well as what ingredients I have in the pantry.

So, here we go! And again, my picture taking didn’t work out. I’ll try to do better this week, I promise.

Cast of Ingredients:
1 pound ground beef
1/2 chopped onion
1 eight oz can of tomato sauce
8 ounces of egg noodles
1/2 sour cream
2 tablespoons Philadelphia cooking creme
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Brown the ground beef and onion until cooked through, and drain the grease.
Add the tomato sauce to the meat and let simmer on low.
Meanwhile, cook the egg noodles until al dente. Drain, and set aside.
In a separate bowl, combine the sour cream and cooking creme. (If you don’t have cooking creme, just use cottage cheese or ricotta cheese, as the Pioneer Woman suggests)
Mix the cooked egg noodles with the sour cream mixture, and place in an 8×8 casserole dish.
Dump the ground beef mixture on the noodles, and mix everything together.
Top with the cheddar cheese.
Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes.

Yum! We love simple, comfort foods, and this is definitely one of them. Enjoy!


Sunday Suppers

Another week, another meal plan!

Here you go:

Monday- Meatball Stroganoff, served with roasted broccoli

Tuesday- BBQ Pork sandwiches (in the crock pot)

Wednesday- Dinner with Hubby’s parents

Thursday- Meatball subs

Friday- Ham and cheddar noodle bake (modified from The Pioneer Woman)

Saturday- BBQ Pork with corn on the cob

Creamy Penne with Squash

Here’s  a quick run-down of this recipe I made last night. And yes, I failed at taking pictures. I was in a hurry, but I’m sorry!

I’ll try to do better next time. Without further ado, here’s the recipe!

Creamy Penne with Squash:

Cast of Ingredients:
2 squash or zucchini
8 oz of penne pasta (or other noodles)
5 oz feta cheese
1/2 cup of half-and-half
1 diced tomato

Boil water and begin cooking penne noodles.
While the noodles are cooking, grate the 2 squash or zucchini. I used squash. Here is my one successful picture for this recipe! If you’ve never grated squash before, it’s pretty easy. Cut off the ends of the squash. Push the cut end onto the grater, and rub back and forth over a bowl. See? Easy, just like I promised.


When the penne is almost done cooking, add the grated squash/zucchini into the pot for about 3 minutes.
Drain the pasta and squash/zucchini.
Add diced tomato and half-and-half to the pot, and heat through.
Before serving, dump in the feta cheese, and mix it in well.

This was SO good! Hubby had no idea there was even squash in it, so it was a good way to sneak in a vegetable. Creamy, cheesy, and delicious!


Friday List, Plus Muffins

As I’ve said before, I am a piano teacher. I actually started teaching piano in high school, but I just had a few students. We had a couple of tiny little recitals. Tomorrow is my first recital as a “grown-up teacher.” I’m so excited! It’s still going to be fairly small, as quite a few students are already out of town for summer, but I’m looking forward to it.

In honor of the recital, here are some of my favorite things about teaching piano:

1. Unexpected hugs. And cards, and pictures.

2. When they finally remember a new concept that’s been really difficult.

3. Seeing how excited they are to play actual “songs” they recognize.

4. When they brag about what they can do.

5. Being a positive influence.

6. Laughing at the funny things they say.

7. Feeling like I’m making a difference.

8. Planting a love for music in their hearts.

9. Playing musical games so they don’t realize they’re learning.

10. Hearing them improve week after week.

Also in honor of Friday, here’s a recipe for you. Chocolate chip muffins! The other day, Hubby was lying on the couch and suddenly said, “Are you baking?” “Umm, no,” I answered, confused, as I was sitting and reading a book, and definitely not cooking. “Well,” he said, “it smells like chocolate chip muffins. I would really like some chocolate chip muffins right now.”

He had to wait until the next day, since 10:00 pm is not my favorite time to start baking. But, I made them! And they are delicious and already almost gone.

Hubby’s Chocolate Chip Muffins:

Cast of Ingredients:
2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 Cup Milk
1 Egg
1/3 Cup Vegetable oil
3/4 Cup Chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 400.
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl, then set aside.

In another bowl, mix egg, milk, and oil.

Then add the egg mix into the dry ingredients until moistened, but still lumpy.

Then add chocolate chips and fold in.

Spoon the batter into greased muffin pan, filling each cup about 2/3 full.

Bake for 18-20 minutes. Makes about 15 muffins.

These were a tasty treat! My personal favorite is to add some mashed banana to the mix, but hubby likes it simple. Whatever way you choose, I hope you enjoy!

Crock Pot Pork Chops

AKA Easiest Pork Chop Recipe in the World.

No really, I mean it.

Cast of Ingredients:

4 pork chops
1 can cream of mushroom soup (mine is homemade, so that’s what is in the ziploc bag)
1/4 cup of ketchup
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce

Defrost your pork chops over night.

In the morning, take your crock pot out.

In the crock pot, combine cream of mushroom soup, ketcup, and worcetershire sauce.

Place pork chops in crock pot.

Turn crock pot on low for 6-8 hours.

Walk into a house that smells good and do a happy dance because dinner is already ready!

I served the pork chops with rice and sauteed green beans. I swear hubby would lick the pan to get the last of those beans!

Oh, now you want the green bean recipe? Greedy! That’s okay, this is super easy as well.

Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet.

Add in green beans (I use about 1 cup)

Add in 1 teaspoon of minced garlic and 1/2 tablespoon of soy sauce.

Saute until beans are cooked through.

“What Should I Read Next” Wednesday

What have I been reading this week? I know you’ve been dying to find out!

Miss Delacourt Has Her Day by Heidi Ashworth– This novel was short, light, and easy to read. The plot direction seemed a little silly to me, but overall, it was very enjoyable. The book tells the love story of Ginny Delacourt and Sir Anthony Crenshaw.  Because Anthony is a member of the nobility, and Ginny is a vicar’s daughter, their match is discouraged by Anthony’s family, especially his uncle, the Duke of Marcross. Anthony must fulfill certain tasks in order to receive his uncle’s approval for their marriage. However, the tasks are difficult, and made even harder due to gossip, rumors, and disapproval from every side.  After checking out Heidi Ashworth’s website, I realized that this is actually a sequel to the novel Miss Delacourt Speaks Her Mind. Some of the missing details make more sense now, so I recommend reading the books in the correct order!

The Courage Tree by Diane Chamberlain– I know, I know, more Chamberlain! I just can’t help it. The Courage Tree is about Sophie, an 8 year old girl with end stage renal disease, and her mother, Janine, who would do anything for her daughter.  Sophie’s medical treatments have been hard and painful, until her most recent experimental treatment, Herbalina. Janine’s ex-husband Joe, her parents, and Sophie’s doctors all disapprove of Herbalina, but Janine is determined that it is helping Sophie.  Janine lets Sophie go to Girl Scout Camp with her troop because she appears so much healthier, but Sophie doesn’t return home from the trip.  Sophie must survive in the woods while everyone searches for her.  Eventually, only Janine is convinced that Sophie is still alive, and she does everything possible to find Sophie and bring her home before it’s too late. Sophie finds an unexpected refuge, but it may not be the safe haven she needs.

I enjoyed this novel, as I have all of Chamberlain’s novels so far. There were parts where some relationships felt forced or overly coincidental, but the characters were dynamic and interesting.  Sophie especially was a beautiful picture of a strong little girl. Janine’s determination not to give up on her daughter was very convincing and realistic. I feel that some of the other characters gave up on her too quickly to be believable.

The Matchmaker of Kenmare by Frank Delaney– This novel is told from the point of view of Ben, and it covers the relationship and adventures of Ben and his close friend, Kate Begley.  Kate is an Irish matchmaker, who was trained by her grandmother to bring people together and teach them to be happy. Kate falls in love with an American soldier, Charles, during WWII  and ultimately marries him. When he goes missing, Kate and Ben travel Europe and America trying to find him. Ben struggles to understand the relationship between Kate and Charles, as well as his own relationship with Kate.

It took me a few chapters to get into the story and understand what was going on, but I ended up thoroughly enjoying this book. The characters were engaging and the story unpredictable. It was a story of World War II from a side I would never have thought of. Delaney really brings Ireland to life with quirky yet totally realistic characters.

Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin– I actually bought this book at Barnes and Noble. This is rare for me, as most books I get from the library! However, I’ve been on the waiting list for this book for a long time, and I got tired of waiting. This novel is a fictional account of Alice Liddell, on whom Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) based his Alice books. Written from the perspective of Alice Liddell, she recounts her childhood memories of Dodgson and how their relationship changed her life.  Dodgson’s interactions with Alice would give her immortality which was both a gift and a burden.

I have always been fascinated by Dodgson/Carroll and his Alice books, since I was a little girl. I know there is a good deal of controversy over their relationship, and I am always interested to learn more about the real-life background. This novel really opened up the people for me, and I loved reading from Alice’s point of view. Benjamin delves into Alice’s thoughts and experiences in a way that is totally believable and enchanting. Benjamin blends fact and fiction into a story that is both fascinating and provocative.

How to Make a Smoothie

Hubby and I absolutely love smoothies. We have one almost every night for “dessert.”  They’re delicious, and it feels like you’re having a treat even though they’re very healthy!

Here’s my simple method for making delicious smoothies. Feel free to substitute any fruit you like!

This makes 2 good-sized smoothies.

Cast of Ingredients:

2 bananas
5-8 strawberries

1/2 cup vanilla (or other flavor) yogurt
2 cups ice
Optional: 1/4 cup skim milk or juice

Peel the bananas and break up into small chunks before putting in the blender.

Next, dump in the yogurt.

Add in the strawberries. You don’t even need to cut off the tops! Couldn’t be easier.

Blend for a minute until ingredients start to mix. If you need a little more liquid, add in a splash of skim milk or juice.
Then add in 1 cup of ice, and blend until ice begins to be mixed in.

Add in the rest of the ice, and blend for a few minutes until smooth.

Pour into two glasses, add a straw, and enjoy! A delicious treat, especially in the hot summer.

Sometimes I add in pineapple, mango, or blueberries. You can’t go wrong with any combination! Peanut butter also goes well with banana, and adds in some extra fiber.

I stock up on strawberries when they are on sale, and put them in the freezer to use later. We go through a lot of bananas, but it’s worth it to enjoy the healthy smoothies. Anything that gets hubby and I to eat more healthily, plus tasting good, is worth it in my book!

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