My Latest Culinary Endeavor

I know at least one person who’s happy about my sudden interest in Pinterest. It ‘d be the one who benefits from all the recipes I’ve tried since becoming hooked.

I’m always nervous when I ask McDaddy his opinion on my latest culinary endeavor.

Last week, I tried a new pork chop recipe. I typically use Shake & Bake (And I helped!) on pork chops, and since we all like it, you’d think that maybe I should just stick with what we all like. But then what kind of fun would that be?

For this recipe, you’ll need these ingredients:

  • 4-6 Large Loin Pork Chops
  • 3 cups dry Italian bread crumbs
  • 1 tbsp. Garlic Powder
  • 2 tbsp. Parmesan Cheese (can use real or canned)
  • Envelope of Italian salad dressing
  • Ranch dressing in a bottle

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Line a metal pan with tinfoil and spray with cooking spray.

Mix bread crumbs, garlic powder, parmesan cheese and Italian salad dressing in a bowl. Pour into a large Ziploc bag.

Pour a layer of ranch dressing on a plate.

Coat a pork chop with the ranch dressing (shake off excess) and then drop it into the bag of powder ingredients. Shake until well coated on both sides. (Add more ranch dressing to the plate as needed.)

Place coated pork chops onto the tinfoil covered pan. Once all pork chops are coated, place the pan into the oven and bake for 45 minutes or until the thick part of the pork chops reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees. Remove the pork chops from the oven as soon as they are finished, and serve as soon as possible.

Enjoy!

This post is linked to works for me!

That Works For Me!

My mother-in-law, Jean has been a loyal blog fan from the very beginning of this blogging gig. She often reads several posts at a time and comments on every. single. one. Aside from McDaddy, Jean may be my MOST loyal blog fan. On more than one occasion (several, actually), she has suggested that I write a book.

The idea that I write a book cracks me up because, well, because what in the heck could I possibly say that would compel people to BUY a book? Plus, if you spend any amount of time around here, you know that I overuse the comma and write way too many run-on sentences to be taken seriously. If I did write a book though, you can bet the farm that it would be chock full of crazy.

Until I write that book though, I’ll continue to dish out a daily dose of crazy here on the blog and I’ll attempt to put cohesive, grammatically correct sentences together for your reading pleasure.

And, it is my pleasure to make an announcement here on the blog today. A few months back, I received an e-mail from Kristen over at We Are THAT Family.

Congratulations! One or more of your tips from posts you submitted to a Works For Me Wednesday blog carnival (hosted at www.wearethatfamily.com) has been selected for a new e-book, called That Works for Me: 1001 Greatest Tips, which will release in Spring of 2012.

Oh Snap! (Did you hear read that, Jean?)

Who would have ever thought in all these weeks (years, even) of participating in Works For Me Wednesday, that it would result in one of my tips being chosen to be featured in an e-book of 800 great useful tips.

Here’s what the writers say about That Works For Me!

For more than five years, the blog carnival, Works For Me Wednesday has been a hub of helpful tips for every area of a busy woman’s life. Hundreds of bloggers link up every week and thousands of tips have been shared over the past years.

This e-book offers a categorized, organized place for more than 800 practical, “aha!” tips to make your life run smoother. That Works For Me! is a celebration of the WFMW community, with tips from hundreds of different blogs.

It won’t organize your linen closets or remove stains, but this e-book will offer you a good place to start. We’ve searched and compiled and created an organized e-book with 24 popular categories, featuring the best of tips in each group.

Upon receiving my copy of the book, I clicked through several of the posts right away. Y’all. There are some really great tips included in the book. It will take me quite some time to get through each post, but I plan to stay on it until I do. I was excited and honored to be featured not once, but TWO TIMES in the new e-book, This Works For Me! which is also available on the Kindle.

The first tip featured (#596 in the book) from my blog falls under Organization (My OCD is smiling!). You might remember my tip for making Lego cleanup quick and easy by using a fitted sheet. (And if you remember the tip, you probably also remember the sub par photography included in the post.) That sheet has more miles on it than my van. (Well, maybe not THAT many!)

The second tip featured from my blog (tip number 627 in the book) suggests a great way to count down days of deployment. In our case, we used M&Ms. We made a bowl for Stevie, a bowl for Alex, and a bowl for daddy, and they ate one single M&M everyday to signify one day down, another day closer. That was the most difficult time in my life. I’m so glad that something good, that other people can use, has come out of it after all this time.

And now, for the fun part.

As a contributor, I get to give away a copy of the e-book. Simply leave a comment on this post, telling me your BEST TIP. Or, if you absolutely have to have the book TODAY, you can go here to purchase That Works For Me! for $8.00. And just for being a loyal FROM INMATES TO PLAYDATES reader, you can use the code: SAVE1 to save $1.00 on the book. 

[In the interest of full disclosure: THAT link (the one just above in blue) is an affiliate link, which means I will earn money if you click there and buy there.]

For you social media junkies, you have lots of options. [Liking, Joining, Following or submitting any / all of the That Works For Me! pages will also earn you an extra entry in the giveaway, just be sure to leave a separate comment telling me which ones you joined, liked, followed, etc.]

For starters, the That Works For Me! e-Book has its very own, brand spankin’ new website.

To kick off the release of the book, the writers are running a contest on the website thru the month of April for a gift card for house cleaning ($150 value). All you have to do to enter is submit a tip that works for you! (And since we’re talking about things that WORK FOR US! I can tell you a gift card for house cleaning would work out well for me!)

You can follow That Works For Me on Twitter and Pinterest.

And, on Facebook at the That Works For Me! Tried and True Tips from WFMW.

Lastly, a portion of the profit from your purchase, will benefit The Mercy House, a maternity home in Kenya, Africa started by TWFM author and We Are THAT Family blogger, Kristen Welch.

Phew. I think that’s it.

Cool Cherry Vanilla Cake

On Tuesdays, I drop the kids off at school and drive to my church to help out in the Easter Egg Factory. Only it isn’t really a factory. It’s more like a system. Or a process. A complex time-consuming process. There are approximately 23 people who work in ten different departments. I have been booted off of the molding line because my eggs did not pass the quality control test. Apparently a peanut butter egg isn’t supposed to be shaped like a turd.

I was also kicked out of the packaging department because my clumsy self dropped one too many eggs. I have forever, found a happy home in the decorating department. In fact, I decorated approximately 620 eggs in four hours today.

About half-way through our Easter Egg making, we stop for lunch. A lunch prepared by those of us who work. Last week, one of the ladies brought a cake for the lunch that was absolutely divine. I immediately went to her to get the recipe. Because it fit my criteria (EASY!) for a great recipe, I thought I’d share it here.

Here’s what you’ll need for the Cool Cherry Vanilla Cake. (I have no idea what this cake is really called, I actually named the cake based on the ingredients I used.)

  • Yellow or white cake mix. (I would pick yellow over white every time!)
  • Cherry or any other pie filling. (I plan to try pineapple next time!)
  • 1 small box of french vanilla pudding
  • 1 small bowl of cool whip

1. Prepare the cake as directed on the back of the box and let cool completely.

2. Pour pie-filling on top of cake.

3. Mix the french vanilla pudding powder into the cool whip and mix well. Spread cool whip/pudding mixture on top of cake.

4. Optional – sprinkle with walnut or pecan slivers.

5. Take picture of yummy cake before it is gone. (OOPS!)

This is one really good cake!

(This post is linked to Works For Me Wednesday).

Crescent Roll Chicken Casserole

McDaddy probably has no idea what Pinterest is. And if he does, it’s only because he heard me explaining the concept to his brother, who by the way, was NOT the least bit impressed with the pinning of stuff.

One thing I can tell you for sure, though? McDaddy is enjoying the recipes I’ve been trying. I tried a really good one tonight.

I made a few changes to the actual recipe that I saw on Pinterest.

And I took a horrible picture. (In fact, you can’t even see the sour cream. But, it’s there, hiding behind the whipping cream.)

Here’s what you’ll need:

FILLING:

2 (8 ounce) cans Pillsbury Refrigerated Crescent Dinner Rolls

1 can cream of chicken soup, undiluted

3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese

½ cup whipping cream

——-

TOPPING:

4 ounces very soft cream cheese (1/2 the package)

4 tablespoons soft butter

½ teaspoon garlic powder (optional)

1/3 cup onion, finely chopped (can use green onions)

2 large cooked chicken breasts, finely chopped

½ cup finely grated cheddar cheese

½ teaspoon seasoning salt

1 cup grated cheddar cheese (for topping)

——–

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Lightly grease a 9×13 casserole dish.

3. In a saucepan, mix half and half cream, 3/4 cup grated cheese (or more if you really love cheese) and chicken soup. 

4. Heat just until the cheese melts (do not boil).

5. For the filling — (make certain that the cream cheese and butter are very soft) in a bowl, mix the soft cream cheese with butter until very smooth, then add garlic powder.

6. Add in the chopped chicken, onion and cheddar cheese; mix well until combined.

7. Season with seasoned salt or white and black pepper to taste.

8. Unroll the crescent rolls.

9. Place 1 heaping tablespoon chicken mixture (or a little more) on top of each crescent triangle, then roll up starting at the thicker end.

10. Drizzle a small amount of soup mixture on the bottom of the dish.

12. Then place the crescent rolls seam-side down on top of the creamed mixture in the casserole.

13. Drizzle the remaining (or as much as you want) sauce on top and sprinkle with 1 cup (or more) grated cheese, or amount desired.

14. Bake for about 30 minutes.

This recipe worked for us! Even the kids liked it!

Bag Lady

I went on a cleaning binge last night.

I don’t function well when things are cluttered and messy. That doesn’t mean I don’t have clutter and messes in my house. It simply means I function better when things are as they should be.

I found about 30 grocery bags under my sink. I hate to throw away grocery bags because you just never know when you might need one, but I hate that they were scattered about. And then it dawned on me that I learned a grocery bag trick some time ago. And then I found the cardboard paper towel roll that I stored under the sink a few weeks ago.

I retrieved approximately 712 bags from under the sink and wondered why in the heck I would have kept so many of them.

I started folding them in a back and forth manner until they were this big.

And then I began stuffing them into the tube. I think I got about eight in there.

And I placed that little tube under the sink.

Use this under the seat of your car, your desk drawer, or in a classroom.

This tip works for me.

Really Cute Homemade Valentines

Last year, I created some great Valentine cards for the boys. I have never been a huge fan of the little character Valentines because the boys end up ripping half of them just trying to get them separated. So when I saw several versions of these cute homemade Valentines in Blogville, I decided to give it a shot even though I don’t consider myself to be an artsy type.

They were such a huge hit with children and parents alike, I am planning to do a similar one this year, but will use pencils or mini-snickers in place of the suckers. I’ll have to get approval from Stevie before I decide because at nine years old, things need to be cool, and not cute.

These Valentines are super easy. If they weren’t, I wouldn’t have done them.

Step 1:

Take a picture of your child against a solid background holding their hand out in front of them (for depth) or above their head [in a fist] depending on where you want the sucker to be. I wanted mine to hang off of the picture, so my boys held their hands up above their head.

It is purely by accident that they are wearing matching shirts. A fact that would probably bother Stevie this year.

Step 2:

Upload the pictures to Photobucket (or Photoshop if you’re lucky enough to have it) and use the edit feature to add a custom message on them.

In this case, I wrote “Happy Valentine’s Day! From: Stevie (or) Alex” in red.

I could have gotten all fancy and taken screen shots of this step, but instead, I didn’t.

Step 3:

This step is VERY important.

Upload the pictures to A REPUTABLE PLACE that you trust.

I first sent the order to Rite Aid because there is a Rite Aid at the end of our street that offers one-hour processing service. When I arrived at the store to pick up, I was told that the order was never received because they were having trouble with their web-site, AND the in-store printer.

SO. I went back home and then sent the order to Walgreens because it happens to be the next closest place to my house that has in-store picture printing. When I arrived to pick up, I was thrilled to find out that they were ready. I pulled the stack of prints out of the envelope to discover that half of the top line of writing was cut off.

I might have rolled my eyes as I mustered up the strength to keep from losing my witness right in the middle of The Walgreens. I gathered my composure before I very politely asked (in a roundabout way of course) what normal person would pull these beautiful, creative Valentines off of the processing machine and think to themselves that they would be acceptable seeing as how the top half of the text missing from Stevie’s set?

Hallelujah and Amen. 

I just don’t get it.

The young gal behind the counter told me that the uploader on the web-site always trims a small border from the print and that there was nothing she could do about it, now would this be cash or charge?

UMM. That would be a big  fat you’re out of your mind, may I speak with a manager, please?

Upon seeing the jacked-up prints the manager agreed that the technician should have noticed that something was awry and adjusted the print accordingly on her machine. He then asked her to reprint the set.

Young technician girl (bless her heart) looked at me dumbfounded as if he had asked her to re-tar the roof.

SO. As my blood pressure was returning to an acceptable level, I wasted time in the store so that young technician girl could reprint the set.

Moving on.

Step 4:

Use an X-acto knife (or if you are a red-neck crafter like me, a box-cutter) to cut a [very small] triangle (I found that a triangle works better than a hole) at the top and bottom of the fist.

This was one of the very first ones I did (when I cut a small hole in the top and the bottom) only to find out that the sucker stick was too big for the hole that I cut. The good news is that the sucker stick will hide most of the mess that you see here.

Step 5:

Insert the sucker through the top and down through the bottom. Use a piece of tape to secure the sucker so that it won’t fall out.

Step 6:

Prepare to be admired by the other moms who are secretly making a barf face behind your back.

[NOTE: I tried different sizes of suckers. Regardless of the sucker you use, the pictures will bend slightly. I never figured out a way for them to lay straight.]

a href=”http://tipjunkie.com/category/handmade-projects/”>Tip Junkie Handmade Projects

It’s A Birthday Gift, Suckers!

I don’t consider myself a crafty person. Well, that is unless you count the fact that I scrapbook.

But since I haven’t scrapbooked for well over two years, do I really still qualify as a scrapbooker? I’m thinking that maybe I should say I used to be a scrapbooker. A little over a year ago I set up a fancy new scrapbooking work station in one of our spare bedrooms (which is all I whined about since we moved here ten years ago, well maybe not all I whined about, but you get the idea, right?) and I vowed to scrapbook at least one day a week while the boys were at school.

That idea lasted about four minutes.

I recently jumped on the Pinterest bandwagon, and I’m hopeful that one day I’ll have the time to sit and try all of the great craft ideas I’ve seen on the site. 

You know, sometime before I’m 80 and in a nursing home and at the mercy of one of my daughters-in-law to feed me applesauce.

A few weeks ago, I came across a really cute idea for a fun birthday gift, and thought that maybe I’d try that someday. Not more than two days later, my friend Katheryn mentioned that she was turning forty on Monday.

Oh shoot, the BIG 4 – 0!

I knew I had to do something.

The picture that I originally saw used a small decorative box (which thinking back on it would have been much easier just based on the size of the opening), but I decided to use a coffee mug, mostly because I am a rebel.

With a cause.

I started with a mug, a styrofoam ring, and two bags of suckers.

For this project you will need an X-Acto knife (or if you’re a red-neck like me, you can just bust out the box-cutter), some fancy paper or cardstock, a straw, and some glue.

I suppose this is the point in the post where I should be demonstrating how I turned the mug upside down on the styrofoam and used the box-cutter to trace and cut four rings that I then shoved down into the mug, one on top of the other.

But alas, I took no pictures of that step.

Or the next step where I attempted to shove forty suckers into the styrofoam in some sort of organized fashion. 

Nor did I get a picture of pulling all the suckers out of the styrofoam and starting over.

THREE. TIMES.

After (FINALLY!) placing all of the suckers in a nice round circle, I turned the mug upside down just to see if all of the suckers would stay in place. And much to my surprise, they did! I then cut a piece of the cardstock with fancy scrapbook stickers in the shape of a square, mostly because I suck at cutting nice round circles. Then, I cut another square just a tad smaller and glued the smaller piece onto the larger piece.

Next, I used a silver Sharpie to write “40 SUCKS!” on the smaller square, but really you could use any of the following phrases,

  • Enjoy this cheap gift sucker!
  • I’m cheap, sucker! Happy Birthday!
  • It sucks to be you cause you’re 32!
  • Divorce Sucks! (I know, I know, I couldn’t help myself!)

I then glued the squares onto a straw and shoved the straw into the styrofoam.

Thankfully, I remembered to get a picture of the finished product.

 I love it!

And my friend, Katheryn did too!

This post is linked to WFMW.

A great tip with a side of bad photography

I recently told Stevie we would not be buying one more Lego because the Legos are taking over our house. His dresser is covered with Legos. He and Alex both have tables in their rooms that display “their creations.”

And we won’t even talk about the “mini figures” that are all over this house.

When I said, “No more Legos,” I was serious.

On Friday, Stevie and I were sitting on the couch and I was looking at Facebook Yardsale on the laptop. When I scrolled past a post for a TOTE FULL of Legos, they caught Stevie’s attention and he asked how much the seller was asking for them.

$25.00.

He asked what half of $25.00 would be and then suggested I could pay half and he could pay half. I explained that IF he really wanted them, he would pay for them himself with some of his Christmas money. He agreed, I made the deal, and McDaddy met the seller to pick them up.

Upon seeing the FULL TOTE of Legos, he exclaimed, “We hit the Lego jackpot, baby!”

[NOTE: I’ve never claimed to be a photography blogger, so I do hope you’ll excuse the poor photography. Normally I can count on my iPhone to take great pictures, IF, and that’s a very BIG IF, I am holding the phone perfectly still, and I’m not standing in our greatroom in the middle of the day with bright sunshine pouring in through THREE HUGE WINDOWS.]

But back to the Legos.

The downside to buying a tote full of Legos means that every time you dump that mess out, it takes a sweet forever to pick them all back up again.

A few days ago, I was reading blogs and came across a post chock full of helpful hints. One of the hints suggested putting a fitted sheet on the floor before playing with Legos to make clean-up quicker. After helping Stevie and Alex clean those million Legos up for the 3,712th time, I suggested to Stevie that we try the fitted sheet trick.

So, we placed the sheet inside of the tote and let the fitted part hang off the side. It took us quite some time to gather the Legos and put them into the tote.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture of the sheet in the tote without the Legos, but you get the idea, right?

And cleaning up is SO MUCH EASIER using the sheet. Just ask these two.

The good news is the sheet fits right inside of the tote, even with the lid.

I’m telling you people, this blog is about so much more than just cheap entertainment.

The even better news is that these two can lift the sheet in and out of the tote on their own, which means I have more time to research how to take better pictures with my iPhone.

Which is obviously much needed.

I can guarantee you my DSLR would never do this to me.

—-

This tip works for me!

Proof That I Am A Hot Mess

I attended Becky’s annual cookie exchange this evening.

You know, the cookie exchange with a CROWN at stake.

(My cookies are in the Longaberger basket in the lower left corner).

I started looking for a recipe weeks ago, and I did a trial run of my [THREE STEP] cookie this past weekend. I was sure this was going to be my year because this is ONE GOOD cookie.

I knocked the vanilla over and it ran all over the counter and into the eggs.

I strung confectioner’s sugar for miles.

And I burnt my finger.

I am a hot mess in the kitchen.

Which was evident as I cooked dinner today, and I came *this close* to burning the house down.

Oh yes I did.

In case you’re wondering, this is what happens to an individual serving of instant macaroni and cheese when you forget to add water.

And now, my house smells like a nice shade of burnt.

The only reason I even bought these stupid individual servings of mac & cheese is because the boys asked for them. You can rest assured I won’t buy them ever again.

Anywho.

As the smoke rolled out of the microwave, McDaddy came into the kitchen rambling on with something like, “Hey, something’s on fire over here.” I spun around to see what was going on and I was seriously afraid the microwave might be getting ready to explode or catch fire. The smoke was thick and the stinch was unbearable.

[And I seriously hope our Home Owner’s Insurance agent doesn’t stumble across my blog or else they might charge McDaddy for the major liability he has in the kitchen.]

SO. You can imagine my surprise when this cookie:

was the RUNNER UP cookie in the contest.

Which means I went home with absolutely NOTHING.

Except a stomach ache because I sampled each and every one.

And because I laughed until I cried.

Tanna took home the cookie crown.

And next year, IT. IS. ON.

Christmas Card Addressing Party

There are few things I like better than a get-together with girlfriends.

Especially one that involves laughing and food.

A few weeks ago, my friend Christina sent an e-mail inviting me to a Christmas card addressing party. I have never attended anything like that, but I had hundreds of cards that needed stuffed and addressed, so I was all, sure, where do I sign up?

I dropped the kids off at school.

I loaded up my boxes of cards. My address book. Our Christmas picture. And 200 copies of our annual McFamily Christmas letter.

Yes, I said 200.

Seven of us, armed with sharpies, cards, glue sticks, address books, and hungry bellies showed up.

There were muffins and doughnuts, orange juice, coffee, breakfast casserole, fruit, and of course my beloved Dr. Pepper.

A great time was had by all.

[Note: Please excuse the poor quality of this picture. My iPhone camera did the best it could with the big windows and crazy natural light that was shining through the windows.]

And the 2011 Christmas card extravaganza is officially over for another year.

Well, except for the stamps.

Argh! I always forget something.

Thanks Christina! I had a great time!

The Christmas card signing party works for me!