Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Everyday Bailey Turkey Day

My family is flying in on Thanksgiving so we are all celebrating a day late. The menu? I am so glad you asked! If you are still mulling over what to make or take to your own Thanksgiving celebrations, maybe some of these will help give you some ideas.

Gravy
Cranberry Sauce

What's Cooking Wednesday - Mexican Lasagna Showdown

E and I have very different taste palates. He is "less flavor, more meat, more beans, more cheese, more fried foods" kind of guy. I am "more flavor, take or leave the meat, more greens, less beans, less fried, sauce on everything."

So I tried 2 different mexican lasagnas and, of course, we both liked different ones. So I have decided to merge my recipes and take the great things from both and make one awesome dish that we both like. But for you...I will let you choose. Here is the pictures and recipes for both lasagnas.

Both easy, both cheap, both awesome! So now the only question is...Which one will you make?

HERS:


1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

4 chicken cutlets (about 1 pound)

Salt and pepper

1 1/2 cups store-bought salsa verde

3/4 cup ricotta cheese

4 large flour tortillas, cut into

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

3 cups baby spinach (about 1/4 pound)

2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese


Preheat the oven to 450°. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, add to the pan and cook, turning once, until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Let cool, then shred the meat.


Whisk together the salsa verde and ricotta; season with salt and pepper. In a greased 9-inch square baking dish, layer one-third of the salsa mixture, tortillas, chicken, onion, spinach and pepper jack; repeat twice. Bake until golden-brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.



HIS:

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

3/4 cup chopped onion

One 29-ounce can black beans, drained, 1/2 cup liquid reserved

1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed

1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

Five 10-inch flour tortillas

8 ounces monterey jack cheese, shredded

1 cup store-bought green enchilada sauce


Preheat the oven to 400°. In a skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups black beans and mash into a chunky paste. Stir in the reserved liquid.

Grease a heavy, ovenproof skillet. In a bowl, combine the corn, parsley and remaining black beans. Place a tortilla in the skillet and spread with 1/3 cup mashed black bean mixture. Top with 2/3 cup corn-bean mixture and 1/2 cup cheese. Press to compress the layers. Repeat with the remaining tortillas, mashed black beans, corn-bean mixture and cheese. Bake until the cheese is melted and the casserole is heated through, about 30 minutes. Transfer to the broiler and cook for 1 minute. Serve with the enchilada sauce.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Gift Ideas - Part II

Do you know how versatile a muffin tin is? Do you? Yes, you can make muffins all day long but there are so many other things you can do with it...cupcakes, mini quiche, individual meat loaf, mac and cheese, cheesecake, and for thanksgiving, you can make individual servings of stuffing, potatoes au gratin...the possibilities are endless. The muffin tin is a staple in most houses but I ABSOLUTELY HATE cleaning and scrubbing all of the burnt little bits off the sides so that the nonstick status of my tin will continue to stay "nonstick."


This relatively new product is a cooks best friend. No more soaking overnight and scrubbing the sides for hours at a time. Just pop the muffins right out! Make sure you get a rack (sled) to go underneath it though...I ended up getting one without a rack to hold the pan straight and the pan flops over so I have to use 2 hands to pull it out of the oven everytime.

At Bed, Bath and Beyond they are $10-$13 depending on what size you get. And since those are so cheap, don't stop there, loaf pans, cake pans, baking sheets, utensils (Amazing!), bundt pans. There are so many silicone products out there. And don't forget to use that $5 off coupon that you always get in the mail but forget to use. Target also has several different sets in several different colors as well.

Also, check Amazon. They have lots of interesting products I haven't seen anywhere else.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Playing Catchup

It's official! I now have a crawler. She's been scooting backwards for the longest time but last week she got excited about Maggie's tail and was determined to touch it. And forward motion began...

While the babygates are up and she is thrilled she can move about now, there is still lots of whining because she's stuck under the coffee table, lots of whining because wants to play in Maggie's food and water bowl, lots of whining because she can't reach the Christmas tree...Oh my! But it sure is fun to watch!
We are now eating solid foods. Mom is breathing a sigh of relief. It's SO NICE not to have to sit there with her and feed her every bite of food that goes in her mouth. So far she hasn't found anything she WOULDN'T put in her mouth.

Last update...we finally have enough hair for a tiny hair bow. While it doesn't stay in very long, I am still thankful for hair on this Thanksgiving week.

Friday, November 20, 2009

More to Come

Sorry for the lack of posting this week. We have have four sets of dinner guests, 2 work functions, and symptoms of a new tooth (meaning a massive lack of sleep). But come back next week and I will make up for it with two new awesome recipes, more gift ideas for the aspiring cook, pics of Rach, and some other tips and projects. Have a great weekend.

Monday, November 16, 2009

More Baby Winter Shoes

We talked about winter shoes/socks in one for babies for this winter. While I had a hard time at first, I got lots of comments regarding Etsy's choices. I don't know why I didn't think of that. am a huge etsy fan and have bought LOTS of stuff there. So here are a few favorites along with some others I found for cheap this week!

Baby MukLuk - on sale for $9.99 right now...I want to talk about these. So cheap and my baby loves these. We received some of these in a lot of hand-me-downs, but these are AWESOME and super cheap right now. They are basically socks with a leather sole and leather sides. So cute and so comfortable.

I featured Bebabean's sweater socx a few weeks ago, but I thought I would mention that they have free shipping all month long and they seem to be all restocked now. If you have a chunky monkey baby, order a larger size. My daughter has some serious calves and I can barely get them around her chunky legs.

The Upcoming Projects

I saw this on Homemade by Jill and Martha Stewart and completely melted. My sweet baby needs one of these. She has a little baby she plays with that E calls "her Mama Doll" because he thinks the doll looks like me. But I don't care, she loves that doll and she loves her mama.
Looks at these? Aren't they precious?? I have lots of clothes in my yard sale pile to make lots of little accessories for the doll I make for her. Oh...how cute these are. I am so excited?

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Friday Wrap-Up

-We had an awesome week. E was off of work and we played and walked and cooked and enjoyed having him home for a few days before the nightmare at work starts again next week.

-The Christmas Tree is officially up but I refuse to decorate it until December. However, lights don't count as decoration. Decorations are meant to go on the tree with ambiance...Some eggnog or apple cider, and a christmas movie playing in the background with the whole family helping.**Rach was able to reach the tree topper and pulled it into her playpen...She was so excited that she had her very own Christmas tree inside her crib.

-Rach is standing and pulling up on anything and everything. This makes nap time a pain since she pulls up in the crib and tries to suck on the babycam. Or she drops her paci over the side and can't reach it to put it back in her mouth so she cries FOREVER. This is the blurry picture we got this afternoon and it's something we are starting to see alot more of...

-I heard "MaMa" come out of Rachel's mouth this week. However, I say "MaMa" and she looks me in the eye and says "BaBa." She makes the M sound all of the time but just won't say it 2 times in a row. It's still beyond cute! We also started solid foods almost exclusively. Here is Rach eating some black beans and Maggie, assuming her usual position, standing by waiting for some chicken to fall her way.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

What's Cooking Wednesday - Taco Melts

Whoops! I forgot about posting What's Cooking Wednesday ...on Wednesday. Better late than never. But I had another project I was working on that I can't wait to tell you about in due time. But first, a little Tex Mex meal you can make ahead the night before and throw in the oven when you get home from work the next day. **As a side note, ... this is not one of my healthier meals, however, it is one of my tastier meals. Biscuit dough is a rarity at the Bailey house.

Tonight we are having Taco Melts for dinner. I am "not so much" about the ground beef, so whenever I can, I always substitute ground chicken/turkey or shredded rotisserie chicken for a leaner option. So take artistic/nutritional liberties with this recipe and make it your own. I also like to throw a mixture of corn, black beans and rotel tomatoes into the mix. What do you like? How about a little more heat? Pepper Jack cheese? Some veggies?

Taco Melts


1 pk. Taco seasoning mix

2/3 cup water

1 1/2 cup salsa

1 lb. Ground beef, cooked, drained (or shredded chicken)

1 can Grands biscuits

1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1 cup sour cream


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium saucepan, cook the ground beef on medium heat until browned. Then, add taco seasoning mix, water, 1/2 cup of the salsa to the beef until mixture begins to thicken. Remove from heat.


Mix the remaining salsa and sour cream together in a separate bowl.


Press each biscuit into 6-inch round. On half of the biscuit, leaving 1/4 inch room on the edges to seal, top with 2-3 T. taco beef mixture, then 1 T. cheese, then 1 T. of sour cream-salsa mixture. Fold dough over filling and press to seal. Place on greased cookie sheet.


Bake 9 to 14 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with remaining salsa and sour cream mixed together.


To make ahead: Put taco melts on a greased cookie sheet and refrigerate. When you are ready to cook, make sure you let them thaw on the counter for about 20 minutes before cooking according to the directions.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Gift Ideas

Have you drawn a blank trying to figure out what you want for Christmas? Starting in October and November, me and sisters start the phone calls and emails back and forth regarding what we are getting everyone and what we want and what our husbands need. I hate telling people exactly what I want, but none of my family is around me these days to know my taste and needs. So I am here to help you with those awkward conversations and give you a few ideas regarding gifts for the cook (or aspiring cook).
Every Tuesday until Christmas, I will bring you some gift ideas that are cost conscious. I would love to have some wonderful cast iron enameled cookware or Dutch oven, like Le Crueset, but for me, it's just seems impractical to spend $300-400 on ONE pot. Last year, E got me an off-brand one from Sam's. It's the best thing I have ever cooked with. LOVE IT and it was only $30-40. Kohl's has a line of Food Network and Rachael Ray Cookware with good prices and you can always get a good sale at Kohl's. If you haven't signed up for their email service, they will send you a $5 off coupon.

Check Amazon. They had some good prices on cast iron cookware as well. Also, Mario Batali and Paula Deen have their own "celebrity" cookware that is fairly reasonably priced.

Why do you want a cast iron pot? What can you do with it? The question is, what can't you do with it. Soups, Stews, Roasts, Chili, ... You can do anything with it! You can cook with it on a stove, in an oven, over a fire, it's just so versatile and cleans well too. I find myself using this pot at least once a week in the summer and twice a week in the winter time.

Monday, November 9, 2009

In the Spirit

I love Christmas and I am SO ready to let the festivities begin! We have already started the Christmas music, today I rearranged the living room so the Christmas tree would fit, the baking has started, I am preparing my grocery list for my Thanksgiving meal, SO many things to get excited about. And none are more exciting to me than my trip home for Christmas. I am pumped!! I can't wait to see all of our family, for Rach to play with her cousin, to do a a little Christmas shopping. Ahhh...I love the holiday season! Have I mentioned that I am putting up my tree tomorrow? Don't make fun! You could do it too if you wanted! I took Rachel to Target yesterday and we hung out in the decoration department for the longest time because she was squealing at the all of the tree and yard ornaments that were all lit up. I can't wait to celebrate with her.
Here is my baby (who said MaMa to me this morning) practicing opening presents already by unloading the diaper basket 12 times daily. While I like that she moves around the floor these days, I miss the days when I could sit her down, and she would still be in the exact same spot when I checked on her a few minutes later.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

What's Cooking Wednesday - Sausage and Wild Rice One Pot Wonder

Why didn't I ever think of this?

Let me tell you about the love affair I have had with fresh thyme for some "thyme" now! Cheesy, I know. But I am not kidding. That flavor is unbelievable! So I am always looking for a good excuse to use it in anything and everything!

Since I had 1/2 a link of sausage in the fridge that needed to be cooked or thrown out, on a whim, I threw some stuff together, added some fresh herbs, the fastest rice known to man kind and I had one of the best meals that I have had in my mouth in a long while. It was so hearty and familiar and it just screamed "autumn" without having to add pumpkin. So much so, that I may use this same recipe with stuffing instead of rice for my thanksgiving meal! It's Thanksgiving worthy and comes with a turkey shaped stamp of approval from yours truly!


Uncle Ben's Ready Rice rice is like manna from heaven. I always seem to over cook or under cook the rice. This doesn't even begin to touch on the fact that rice takes FOREVER to cook. This rice is flavorful, super fast and comes with an online coupon!! You just tear the top open a bit, throw it in the microwave for 90 seconds and serve. Now I don't have to slave in the kitchen all day but E doesn't have to know that when he bites into his dinner!

Go home and make this tonight. It takes a total of 15 minutes to throw together and it's completely worth it!
Sausage and Wild Rice One Pot Wonder

1/2 package of smoked sausage, sliced into bite size pieces
1 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup onion, diced
4 T fresh thyme, chopped
3 T fresh parsley, chopped
1 bag Uncle Ben's 90 sec Wild Rice
1/4 cup water or chicken broth
Fresh Ground Pepper

In a pot or large saute pan, cook the sausage at medium-high heat until browned. Remove the sausage from the pan and leave the drippings. Meanwhile, put the rice in the microwave and cook according to the directions.

Add the onions and mushrooms to the sausage drippings. Cook until tender, then add the thyme, parsley and garlic. Stir together for 1-2 minutes. Add rice and water to the pan. Season with ground pepper. Cook on medium until all ingredients are well blended and heated through about 3-5 minutes.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Accident

We had our first memorable accident this week. I saw Rach holding on to the coffee table. Her feet kept pushing further and further back meaning she was going to scrape her face all the way down the table when she fell. So I went to fix her legs and didn't make it in time! UGH! The sound of her face hitting the table and then the crying. I felt so bad for her.

Since then, I had E put the playpen in the living room so she could stand in there and fall down till her heart's content. Man, she loves it! She can watch Special Agent Oso and stand up at the same time!