Menu Monday

Today's menu is "breakfast for dinner." For some reason it sounded good today and so I made this for dinner tonight. It's really just something I concocted in my head and if anything, it will just give you an idea to get you out of your dinner rut.

It makes a lot of food, but I think we'll eat the leftovers for breakfast throughout the week.

I served this tonight with warm blueberry muffins and orange juice.

Breakfast Skillet Burritos

1lb sausage (your favorite)
1lb frozen country hashbrown potatoes
8 - 10 eggs
Shredded cheese

I do the prep in stages, to avoid messing more than one skillet. So, I start by browning the sausage. Once browned, move it to another plate. I left the fat drippings from the sausage and added 2-3 Tbls butter and 2-3 Tbls olive oil (I like the flavor of both, so I use them together a lot) to the skillet.

Once the butter melts, add the hashbrowns in a single layer. Cover and let cook for about 7 minutes. Stir and cook for another minute or so and then remove them from the skillet to another plate.

Finally, beat the eggs in a bowl and spray the skillet with cooking spray. Scramble the eggs and when they're finished, add the meat and potatoes back in. Saute until heated through.

Warm your tortillas in the microwave and then fill them with the skillet mix and top with shredded cheese.

Serve with sour cream and salsa or your favorite eggy condiments - tabasco or ketchup?

Another suggestion - I also thought this might taste better if it had a more creamy texture. I think maybe melting some cubes of Velveeta in the skillet at the end would have accomplished that nicely. Let me know if you try it this way!

Snack time

We've tried out some new snacks recently and it's always fun to watch what they do with something new.

Here are some pics after they enjoyed some cheese sandwich crackers (do you think Jillian enjoyed them?) and a few from when they learned the art of dipping - by dipping graham crackers into strawberry yogurt. Yum. Life is good.


Keepin it PINK!

She has an adorable profile - I remember how cute the girls noses were in their ultrasound profile shots. I wonder if this baby will look more like Lauren or Jillian?

We had our ultrasound this morning and discovered that we'll be keeping things pink around the Keller house... we're expecting Baby Girl #3!

We are shocked and excited.

Here is a picture we got at the ultrasound today and a picture of me and my prego bump. I'm 19 weeks today and baby girl is due on July 15.

Menu Monday (on Tuesday)(again)

I figured I'd post another easy and yummy stand-by meal at the Keller house, seeing as how life is still a bit unsettled and busy since the move.

This is one of my personal favorites.

Cheese Ravioli Bake

3 Tbl unsalted butter
2 Garlic cloves, minced
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
2 Tbl coarsely chopped fresh basil
1/3 c Heavy cream
2 (8 oz) packages fresh cheese ravioli
1 (6 oz) bag baby spinach
1 c Shredded mozzarella cheese

Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot for cooking pasta. Meanwhile, heat oven to 450 degrees. Grease shallow 2 quart baking dish with 1 Tbl butter (or I just use cooking spray).

Melt remaining 2 Tbls butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant but not brown, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, increaswe heat to high, an cook until thickened and almost dry, about 10 minutes. Stir in basil and cream and simmer until sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Season with salt.

Add 1 Tbl sale and ravioli to boiling water and cook until al dente (typically about 4-7 minutes). Add spinach to pot with pasta and stir until wilted, about 30 seconds. Drain pasta and spinach, return to pot, and stir in tomato sauce. Transfer mixture to baking dish, sprinkle with cheese and bake until top is golden, about 1o minutes. Cool 5 minutes before serving.

OK - that's what the recipe says and it's mighty tastey when you follow it, but I've also made this a much faster way and it's just as good.

Basically, follow the directions, with the following exceptions:
  1. Grease your pan with cooking spray, instead of butter

  2. I really like the flavor of melting the butter with the garlic and tomatoes, but a canned tomato sauce in place of these three ingredients works fine.

  3. I think the spinach is optional, but the basil is not! But, I LOVE basil - so when I don't have fresh basil on hand, I use a spoonful purchased basil pesto or I've found frozen fresh basil at Trader Joe's, frozen into 1 tsp squares - SO convenient!

  4. I also think the cream is optional. Who buys cream on a regular basis anyway? I think it adds flavor, but mostly adds fat and calories. It tastes great without it. You could probably try a couple ounces of reduced fat cream cheese if you like the creamy texture better (I've not tried it this way, but I'm sure it would be great).


New developments

It's been amazing, just in the last week, how much the girls are developing. I remember my favorite stage with my nephew, Jake, was when he was around 18 months and now I remember why. The girls are now starting to say more words and communicate better.

For example, for the first time the other day, Lauren was eating and wanted me. So, rather than simply whining in my direction, she actually said "Momma." Music to my ears!

Jillian has also developed a new interest in her building blocks. I found her a couple days ago playing, and she had stacked blocks together on her own for the first time. I was amazed. And last night, Andy's parents babysat and said she built until all the blocks were used and the structure was as tall as she was.

Lauren loves to play with her baby dolls. She shows such a nurturing spirit. She holds them and gives them kisses. She rubs their heads and gives them bottles. She even puts them night-night and will say "shh" with her finger to her mouth.

They can actually understand when you're being silly with them. Tonight I was playing ball with Lauren and she understood when I was teasing - by not giving her the ball until she gave me a kiss. She thought it was hilarious.

They're singing songs and you can actually make out the song they're singing. They're dancing whenever they hear music. They're "working" puzzles (they can't quite get the pieces in the slots, but they know where the pieces go - so they're matching really well).

I am simply fascinated to watch their little minds at work. What a miracle. They're both so unique and I'm so proud of the little girls they are becoming. And what amazes me most, is that they're mine!

I want to help

Today, Andy's parents brought over their old dining room table for us to use in our new house. It was really cute watching the girls want to help Duane and Andy put it together.

Jillian is so curious and fearless. She wanted to be close to the action and wasn't afraid of the noisy drill. Lauren was also curious and like putting the screws in the holes, but the noise from the drill scared her a little.

It's times like these you can really see their differences. The noise made Jillian laugh and Lauren run. My girls are as different as night and day.


We moved!

We are getting settled in our new house. The move went great! From the closings Friday morning to cleaning up Sunday evening, it couldn't have gone any smoother.

Here are a few pics from the move and the girls of their last days at the old house.

Lauren loves to stand on the couch and fall over onto the pillows.

Lauren loves cereal bars for a snack. If you give her the whole thing, she thinks she has to eat it fast. Here's a picture of her loaded chipmunk cheeks.

Now that we've moved, we have room for all the toys the girls got for Christmas, but had to leave at the grandparents house until we had more room. This is their new wagon, which they LOVE. The like to get in and out and occasionally will attempt to pull each other around.

Here's the new kitchen, before the unpacking began on Saturday morning.

Shannon and Sophie did a great job organizing the pantry.

Reagan and Caleb were our littlest helpers - they belong to Melissa and Tish (my good friends from Life Group). They are too cute!

Menu Monday (on Tuesday)

It's only week two, and I already missed my deadline for Menu Monday. But, with the move, my timing for starting this new menu venture probably wasn't the best.

So, in honor of all you blog readers who share my great intentions, but are just a tad short on time, this recipe is for you.

It's like a taco in a skillet... tortillas and all. I actually made it for dinner tonight and it was pretty tasty.

I got this recipe from Kraft Foods. I get their free quarterly magazine "food & family" and I highly recommend it. You can sign up to receive it on their website. Just choose "Sign-in" and create an account, then while filling out your profile, you have the option to sign up for "food & family."

Quick-Fix Beef Burrito Skillet

1 lb. Lean Ground Beef
Jenni's tip: I get extra lean ground beef and add a little extra virgin olive oil while browning, it's a much healthier fat and adds a little bit more flavor to the meat
1 pkg taco seasoning packet
1 can (19 oz) kidney beans (I used pinto), drained, rinshed
1 cup salsa
1 cup water
4 flour torillas, cut into 1" squares
1 cup shredded cheese (your pick, I used cheddar)

Garnish (optional):
Sour cream
Green onion
Avocado (my fave!)

Brown meat in large skillet on medium-high heat; drain.

Add seasoning, beans, salsa and water; stir. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 5 min.

Stir in tortillas; top with cheese. Cover; let stand 5 min. or until cheese is melted. Top with your choice of garnish(es).


Sisterly love

Menu Monday - The Debut!

Inspired by my friend Emily, who does awesome contests, and my friend Christina, who is posting weekly craft ideas for mommies with toddlers, I've decided to launch my own helpful/fun posting every Monday, called "Menu Monday."

I love to cook (I especially realized this while packing all my kitchen gadgets, cookbooks, etc. for our move) and I love to share recipes and food prep shortcuts and ideas.

I'm by no means a "chef" or a "professional," but I figure - it's a passion and I can at least share what I've learned along the way from culinary classes, years of Food Network watching and my momma!

This first recipe has become my favorite cookie recipe (aside from my Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, which I'm NOT sharing :)) I discovered it last Christmas (06), in the "12 Days of Cookies" newsletter Food Network sends around the holidays.

It's a pretty involved recipe, I'll admit. But, boy is it worth it. It's a super rich, dense cookie (very little flour - as far as cookies are concerned), that will make your hair curl. The richness of the chocolate is balanced by the tartness of the cherries. A perfect flavor combo.

This is probably a recipe you'll want to tackle on the weekends, when your spouse is home to wrangle the kids. But, wait until the kids are in bed to enjoy them :) I prefer them served warm with a cup of coffee or a tall glass of milk.

Super Gooey Chocolate Drops
from Food Network Kitchens

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons buttermilk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup natural cocoa powder, such as Hershey's or Scharffen Berger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
11 ounces (1 bag) semisweet chocolate chunks
1 cup dried cherries (optional - but, NOT an option, in my opinion)

Position racks in the lower and upper third of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats. (If you don't have 3 pans, simply cool the pan between batches.)

Put the butter and the unsweetened and semisweet chocolates in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Heat at 75 percent power in the microwave until soft, about 2 minutes. Stir and heat again until melted, up to 2 minutes more. (Alternatively, put the chocolates and butter in a heatproof bowl. Bring a saucepan filled with an inch or so of water to a very slow simmer; set the bowl over, but not touching the water, and stir occasionally until melted and smooth.)

Stir the light brown and granulated sugars and vanilla into the chocolate mixture with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs and buttermilk and beat vigorously until thick and glossy.

In another bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa, cinnamon and salt together. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until just mixed. Stir in chocolate chunks and dried cherries, if using.

Drop the batter in heaping tablespoons onto baking sheets--a small ice cream scoop is ideal for this. Space the cookies about 2-inches apart. Bake until the cookies set but are soft and fudgy on the inside, 12 to 15 minutes.

Cool cookies on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely. Serve.

Store cookies in a tightly sealed container at room temperature for up to a week.

Get printable versions of this recipe from Food Network.