Saturday, March 30, 2013

Bunny Cakes with Buttercream Icing (cake recipe from:; icing recipe:

Here's a re-posting of one of my old posts... but it's just too cute not to share again!  If you need a quick and easy Easter recipe that will still have that "wow" factor.  The best part is that it makes two of these little bunnies, so there's one to share!  Here's how Mama makes it:

Bunny Cakes with Buttercream Icing

-1 boxed cake mix (I used lemon-flavored)
-Water, vegetable oil and eggs called for on cake mix box
-Buttercream icing, double the recipe (see recipe below)
-food coloring
-Construction paper (inedible)
-2 small marshmallows, cut in half, flattened
-2 small jelly beans, cut in half
-2 (5-inch) strips rainbow-colored sour candy, separated into strips (I used construction paper)
-2 large jelly beans or candy-coated chocolate-covered peanut candies
-2 large marshmallows

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Spicy Basil Chicken with Sauteed Snap Peas, Peppers, & Carrots

Here's an amazing meal inspired by two recipes from Cooking Light Magazine April 2012.  It's light, but filling, and has amazing flavor.  The basil just makes the dish for me, and the crisp sauteed veggies are perfect.  Even Annalyn was in love with them (the peas were her favorite and the carrots a close second).  If you plan on needing more than 3-4 servings, I would recommend doubling it.  Maybe we were just extra hungry, but for us, it served 2 adults, 1 toddler, and 1 lunch the next day.

Spicy Basil Chicken with Sauteed Snap Peas, Peppers, & Carrots

- 1 T. olive oil
- 1/4 c. diced green onions
- 1 T. minced garlic
- 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 t. sugar
- 2 T. reduced sodium soy sauce
- 1 T. chile paste with garlic
- 1 t. water
- 1/2 t. cornstarch
- 1/4 t. salt
- 1/3 c. sliced basil leaves
serving suggestion:  rice and snow peas/peppers/carrots
- 1 bag steam-in-the-bag frozen rice
- 2 t. toasted sesame oil, divided
- 1 (16 oz.) bag snow peas
- 1 medium red bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
- 1/4 t. salt
- 1/8 t. freshly ground black pepper

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Sausage Pinwheels with White Pepper Gravy

This Mama's original creation is a combination of two of my favorite breakfast foods - biscuits and sausage gravy and cinnamon rolls (don't worry, I'm not making cinnamon flavored sausage gravy... think the flavor of biscuits and gravy meets the methodology of cinnamon rolls).  Inspired by this beef pinwheel recipe, I decided to try to make a unique version of this breakfast food classic.  I think the result screams breakfast for dinner (a favorite in our household), but obviously you could make it for actual breakfast or brunch, too.  Not only does it taste delicious, but the presentation is pretty and sure to impress any guest!  Here's how Mama makes it:

Sausage Pinwheels with White Pepper Gravy

for the pinwheels:
- 3 c. Bisquick mix
- 1 c. milk
- 1/2 t. hot sauce
- 1 lb. italian sausage
- 1 c. shredded pepperjack cheese
- 1/4 c. cornflake crumbs
- 1 egg
- 2 t. salt
- 1/2 t. black pepper
for the gravy:
- 4 t. butter
- 1/4 c. flour
- 2 c. whole milk
- 1/4 t. cayenne pepper (optional)
- salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste


1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Place 3 c. Bisquick into a medium bowl.  In a measuring cup, combine milk and hot sauce, then pour into Bisquick and stir until just combined (it will be lumpy)I actually used 1 c. Bisquick and 2 c. of this multigrain baking mix from Trader Joes.  Honestly, I couldn't tell the difference.

2.  Roll dough into a 15 x 10" rectangle.  (lightly flour the surface you are rolling it out on)

3.  Combine remaining pinwheel ingredients and stir to combine (then, let's be honest, use your hands to really get it mixed well!).

4.  Spread meat mixture evenly over the biscuit dough, then roll as if you were making cinnamon rolls (The Pioneer Woman refers to this as "type writer style", going back and forth as you roll).  Pinch seems to seal, then turn so seem is facing down.

5.  Cut into about 12 slices and arrange evenly spaced on a shallow baking sheet.  Sprinkle with a few shreds of cheese.  Bake 30 minutes at 375 degrees until slightly browned and cooked through. 

what smells so yummy?

I just love how the cheese browns up

6.  Meanwhile, make the gravy!  Oftentimes, white gravy starts with some sort of sausage/bacon fat or lard, but since the sausage gets cooked inside the pinwheels, I'm going to use butter.  Start by melting the butter over medium high heat.

7.  Sprinkle in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for about 1 minute until slightly browned.

8.  Slowly add the milk, about 1/4 c. at a time and cook for 5-10 minutes.  Gravy will thicken as it cooks.

9.  Add cayenne (if you need an extra kick!), salt, and pepper.  Pour gravy over pinwheels and smile as you savor every last crumb of the best biscuits and gravy you've ever made.

add just a touch of cayenne for a little kick

starting to thicken...

there we go, that's how white gravy should look!

this is the sign for "food" or "bite"
she's letting us know she's hungry for more!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Friday, March 22, 2013

S'mores Popcorn Balls

Here's a Mama's Kitchen original that everyone will love!  As a kid, one of our favorite treats was Mom's marshmallow popcorn (melted butter and marshmallows poured over popcorn, then devoured).  After making a batch last week for Michael & me, I was inspired to jazz it up a little with some chocolate chips and graham crackers.  The result is this amazingly ooey, gooey, chocolately goodness!  Here's how Mama makes it:

S'mores Popcorn Balls

- 2 bags plain popcorn (unpopped kernels removed)
- 1 lb. bag marshmallows
- 3 T. butter
- 1/3 c. mini chocolate chips
- 1/2 package graham crackers, crushed

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Peanut Post: This is the Life!

This little lady is such a ham these days!  I just can't get enough of her silly antics.  These may not be the best photos, but they definitely capture the awesomeness of my little Peanut, blurriness and yucky bathroom lighting aside!  If only I could kick back and enjoy the little things as easily as she can... this is the life, little lady!

this just makes me smile!
(she's actually chewing on the bottom lip of the cup)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Fresh Mexican Chicken Salad Wraps

Here's a fresh, healthy, Mexican-inspired take on chicken salad.  Simple, fresh ingredients wrapped in a tortilla.  It just tastes like spring and has me longing for a garden fresh tomato.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.  Here's how Mama makes it:

Fresh Mexican Chicken Salad Wraps

- 2 c. shredded rotisserie chicken, without the skin
- 3 T. olive oil
- 2 T. fresh lime juice
- 1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
- 1 t. salt
- 1/2 t. cumin
- 1/4 c. fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1 medium tomato, diced
- 1 small onion, diced (about 1/2 c.)
- 1/2 jalapeno, seeded and diced
- 1 avocado, diced
- soft tortilla shells (makes about 10-12 wraps depending on how full you fill them)

Monday, March 18, 2013

Beef Pinwheels with Mushroom Sauce

This recipe is one that my mom made pretty often when we were kids.  I'm not sure why, but she and I got to talking about it awhile back and ever since, I've been dying to make it.  It was one of many delicious recipes she made from her 1974 Robert's Dairy cookbook.  What I wouldn't give to get my hands on one of these!  Just for fun, I typed it in a search engine and discovered that the cookbook is actually available online.  AWESOME!  Hope you enjoy this classic comfort food as much as my family has over the years.

Beef Pinwheels with Mushroom Sauce

Ingredients: (the Roberts brand comes from the original recipe; obviously it doesn't matter)

- 3 cups buttermilk baking mix
- 1 c. Roberts milk
- 1 1/2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce
- 1 1/2 pounds ground beef chuck
- 1/4 cup cornflake crumbs
- 1 Roberts Egg, slightly beaten
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon minced parsley

mushroom sauce: (I'm pretty sure my mom served it with gravy b/c she's not a fan of mushrooms)
- 1 can (10 3/4 ounce) cream of mushroom soup
- 1/2 cup Roberts Milk
- 1 beef bouillon cube
- 1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Butler's Mascot, America's Dog

Like any good Butler alumnus, I just adore Blue II.  I still cannot believe that he is 9 years old!  It really makes us feel old since he started his days as the official mascot the same year we came to Butler as freshman.  Wow, times flies. 

Blue II as a puppy
this was what he looked like the first time I met him!

and this is what Michael looked like when I first met him!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Baby Product Review: Sili Squeeze Food Pouches

Yet another reusable food pouch review!  What can possibly be different about this one?  Well... it actually has a spill proof spout similar to a sippy cup so baby can't squeeze goo all over the place (trust me, once they figure out they can, they will!).  Annalyn does great with the other pouches, but as of now, it has to be a group effort with Mama holding the pouch or she squeezes it everywhere then smears it all over herself and the highchair.  So, I decided that the Sili Squeeze might be worth a shot (especially in the car or on-the-go when it's harder to hold it the entire time).

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Peanut Post: Another Yummy Smoothie Recipe! (Spinach-Sweet Potato-Green Pea-Pear)

Another of Annalyn's favorite smoothies (purees), this one is sure to be a hit with parents and kiddos alike!  The sweet potato and pear add fiber and sweetness, while the pea and spinach add texture and nutrients.  As you've probably noticed, I'm a big fan of adding green leafy veggies to Annalyn's purees... and why not?!  She loves it and so do I.  The other day I gave her a store bought food pouch that was a mix of spinach, pear, and green pea... sounds great, right?  Well, I have to say, she loved the flavor, but I was a bit disturbed when I saw that it was about the same color as applesauce.  How on earth can that puree contain a significant amount of spinach and peas?  Every time I add anything green, my purees instantly turn this beautiful vibrant green color.  If you ask me, that's pretty misleading.  All the more inspiration to make my own, I suppose!  Anyway, here's how Mama makes it:
Spinach-Sweet Potato-Green Pea-Pear Smoothie

- 1 c. diced sweet potato (I like to buy a few, dice, and freeze)
- 1 c. frozen green peas
- 1/4 to 1/2 c. water
- 1/2 c. packed spinach, frozen or fresh
- 1 pear, peeled and chopped

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Cinnful French Toast

This sinfully delicious treat was inspired by these crazy big cinnamon rolls from the Machine Shed in Davenport, IA.  On our way back from Nebraska on Annalyn's birthday, we were determined to make it a special day, in spite of our day long drive.  For lunch, we decided on The Machine Shed in Davenport, IA.  This self-proclaimed "tribute to the American farmer" opened in Davenport in 1978 and pays homage to good ole home cookin'.  


The food was delicious and the little shop was fun to walk around, but the real treasure for us was the cart full of homemade giant cinnamon rolls.  And I don't just mean oversized, I mean GIANT.  Big, heavy, dense, delicious, and only $1.50 apiece!  Unbelievable.  One of the ladies helping us was kind enough to divulge the fact that they make their french toast out of these rolls.  Genious.  We had to try it!  So we bought 4 rolls, froze them, and made the best french toast ever for Dan & Shawna the next time they stayed over.  I don't know their exact recipe, but here's how Mama made it:

Cinnful French Toast

- 1 giant cinnamon roll (or a few very large ones - alternatively, you could use cinnamon swirl bread)
- 3 large eggs
- 3/4 c. milk
- 2 T. butter, to grease the skillet
we bought 4 total, but only used one for this recipe

Monday, March 11, 2013

Spring Preview

The last few days, we have been thoroughly enjoying this 60 degree weather.  I didn't realize how bad the cabin fever was getting until I enjoyed an afternoon outside (and since my computer died, it was perfect timing!).  Claudia gave Annalyn her first wagon ride, then Michael & I watched proudly/sadly/happily as our little lady toddled around after the neighbor kids, played with and tried to eat sticks/leaves/rocks/flowers, and gave us all a glimpse of what the coming warm weather days will hold.  Yet another "I love our neighborhood" moment.

riding in a wagon while all the other kiddos
rode bikes around her - she was in heaven!

it was crazy how well she did walking
on uneven surfaces... What a big girl!

Happy soon-to-be Spring!!