Archive for October, 2011

October 31st, 2011

Chicken Taco Chili


Looking for an easy dinner for tonight  {I am most nights.}  Look no further.  Throw this in your crockpot and forget about until dinner time.  It seems that we usually have multiple nights every week with activities that coincide with dinner time.  So I love things that can be done in the morning and are ready to eat when we are.

Chicken Taco Chili


2 large chicken breasts
1 onion, chopped
1 can black beans
1 can kidney beans
1 8-oz can tomato sauce
2 10-oz cans diced tomatoes w/chilies
1 1/2 cups frozen corn
1 packet taco seasoning
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp cumin


Combine everything except chicken in a crockpot and mix well.  Place chicken in and push down into the bean mixture . Cook on low for 10 hours or on high for 6 hours.  Just before serving shred the chicken and mix in. Serve.

*This is great just how it is, but my family likes to eat it on rice or cornbread.  And don’t forget toppings…cheese, cilantro and sour cream are just a few.

Recipe slightly adapted from

October 28th, 2011

5 Fast ways to say HAPPY HALLOWEEN! (and Printable Gift Tag)

Are you ready for Halloween?  Here’s some fun ideas in case you need some last-minute inspiration!  Have a fun and safe Halloween!

Orange Soda – Halloween Style

Remove the labels with hot water and goof-off.  Cut pumpkin face with black electrical tape and adhere.  Add a ribbon and this will put a smile on anyone’s face!



Halloween Peeps Smore Kits

Such a cute idea from Southern Vogue!  Just add 1 graham cracker broken in two, 2 fun-size Hershey bars and one ghost peep!



Hot Chocolate that will warm your heart!

Use edible markers to make ghost faces – won’t your kids just love it! (Markers available at Wal Mart or Craft Stores with the Wilton Cake Decorating Supplies).



Glowing Ghosts (from Martha Stewart)

These apparitions may seem friendly at first, but in the darkness their scary side comes out. To summon a ghost, snap one or two green eight-hour light sticks so they glow, and insert them into a white balloon. Inflate the balloon and tie it closed. Use a black marker to draw a wide-eyed visage. Repeat to make more, then affix ghosts to a wall with transparent tape and lower the lights. – I love this : )



Monster Madness for Breakfast

Give your kid’s their own monster box of cereal – these old-time favorites are perfect!   (available at Target)  We’ve included this adorable gift tag!


Download the gift tag here!  {graphics at Summertime Designs}








Bonus:  Small gift tag works for individual size handouts!








HaPpY HaLloWeeN from Caramel Potatoes!



October 27th, 2011

Ravioli with Toasted Walnuts and Spinach


Stop before you put that marinara sauce over your ravioli – there are other options!  Here’s a truly delicious alternative and very simple.  The toasted walnuts are an unexpected, but wonderful compliment to the cheese ravioli.  Serve it up with some good bread for a Meatless Meal; or use it as a side to grilled meat.


Ravioli with Toasted Walnuts and Spinach


1 16 oz package cheese ravioli (fresh or frozen)

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

4 cups fresh spinach

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped large

2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese


Cook the ravioli according to package instructions and drain.

While the pasta cooks, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the garlic and walnuts and cook until the nuts are lightly toasted and fragrant and the garlic is golden brown- about 4 minutes.

Add the ravioli to the skillet and toss until coated with oil.

Toss the spinach into the skillet and cook just until the spinach wilts.

Remove from heat and serve immediately with  parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.

Serves 4 for dinner, 6-8 as side dish.


October 26th, 2011

Simple Apple Dumplings

So, doesn’t this look delicious?  My 5-year-old is sitting behind me trying to see what I am doing and as soon as this picture comes up on the screen he is excited.  “Are we going to have those apple things again today?”  Unfortunately, we are not.  If only we had crescent rolls in the fridge.  And too bad it is snowing or I might go to the store to get some.  Yes, it is snowing here right now.  I really wish it wasn’t, because snow and I really are not friends.  We have tried to get along, but we just don’t.  But, what can I do about it so we are going to once again survive the winter.  I know, I know I will stop complaining about the snow {next summer when it has all melted and the threat of snow again is months away :) }.  Moving on….

If you happen to find  yourself somewhere cold, and want a warm dessert tonight-this is the one!!  Even if you are not somewhere cold and want dessert tonight-this is the one!  They are really so simple to make.  My first grader can do most of it on her own.  Really, just about the only thing she doesn’t do is melt the butter.  I still have not let her do things on the stove.  {I can be a paranoid and over protective mom sometimes.}  So I really suggest letting the kids get their hands dirty on this one {but have clean hands before they start :) }.

I am giving a full disclosure here {pay attention}–These are SINFUL!!!  Do not even try to count calories on these…it is probably some absurdly high number that would put us all in shock.  But I promise they are so GOOD!!!  This recipe makes 16 dumplings, so make sure you have others around.  You need to share these.  If there are not many people around just hoping to get a good dessert tonight, cut it in half.  Make only 8 dumplings instead.  My little family of 5 only needs half of the recipe.  So, I cut everything in half and use an 8×8 pan.

My only other piece of advice for this one is to have vanilla ice cream.  It really is not optional here.

Simple Apple Dumplings


2 Granny Smith Apples

2 cans (8 count) Crescent Rolls

2 sticks Butter

1-1/2 cup Sugar

1 teaspoon Vanilla

Cinnamon, To Taste

1 can (12 Oz.) 7up


Preheat oven to 350.  Peel and core apples.  Cut each apple into 8 slices each.  Roll each apple slice in a crescent roll.  Place in a 9 x 13 pan.

Melt butter, then add sugar and barely stir.  (It will still be lumpy.)   Add vanilla, stir, and pour entire mixture over apples.  Pour 7up around the edges of the pan.  (It should look mildly unappetizing at this point.)  sprinkle across the top with cinnamon and bake for 40 minutes.  Serve with ice cream, and spoon some of the sweet sauces from the pan over the top.

**Remember it is good to share, even after you have had your first bite and tasted the goodness here. ;)

*Recipe slightly adapted from The Pioneer Woman.


Posted under Desserts, Fruit | 2 Comments
October 25th, 2011

Pepper Steak

My family loves pepper steak – especially Jocelyn {I probably should have let her post this recipe, but since I made it for dinner I decided to go ahead and take the pictures}.

Jocelyn and I do have one small difference of opinion about this recipe – We both love this tender beef in a light tomato sauce with fresh bell peppers; however, I like the bell peppers, but Jocelyn loves the bell peppers!   So, I will tell you to add 2 peppers to the recipe , but Jocelyn would tell you to add 4 peppers!    You choose, either way it’s going to be delicious!

I cooked this in my electric skillet – but you can make it ahead in the crockpot also!

Pepper Steak


2 pounds round steak, tenderized and cut into small pieces

1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes

2-4 bell peppers, sliced

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 cup sliced onions

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon ginger

2 tablespoons oil

1/2 cup flour


Dredge meat in flour and brown in 2 tablespoons hot oil along with onions.









Add remaining ingredients except peppers and simmer about 2 hours or until meat is very tender.  Add peppers and continue to cook for 15-20 minutes (until tender).









Serve over rice or noodles.  Simple and classic – we love it!

Note:  If put this in your crockpot, brown meat first with onions (be sure to deglaze your pan – add a few tablespoons of water and get all the flavor off the pan).   Add the peppers at the end – you’ll need to crack the lid a little after you add the peppers in order to allow the sauce to reduce.

Posted under Beef, Crockpot | 1 Comment


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Caramel Potatoes

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