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Saturday
Feb012014

Buttery ranch mushroom bites

Hello February! I'm not sure I've ever been happier to begin a new month. The sun is shining and my head feels clear at the moment. I have hopes that this month will bring answers for our oldest boy. He has endured an endless string of challenges, and his list grew way more in the past month than we ever could have anticipated. Come on, second month of 2014, bring favor! Some warmer weather would be nice, too.

With February comes the Super Bowl! I am NOT a football fan. Not even a little bit. But I do enjoy sitting next to my gorgeous husband on the couch on Super Bowl Sunday, nibbling on a spread of food (we tend to go a little overboard) and watching fun commercials. Our menu for tomorrow includes the Club Sandwich Dip I recently made, chicken wings, a giant bowl of seasoned sour cream, fried pickles and these tasty little mushrooms. I first encountered these back in October at a potluck work party and frantically searched for the person who had made them. I didn't find him or her, but talked to someone who had. So I don't even know who to thank for this recipe. Thank you, mysterious potluck person with the delicious mushrooms!

These are a wonderful toothpick or fork appetizer, but I use them in other things, as well. This past week they became part of a salad, an omelet and they also made a great side dish. They are so ridiculously yummy. Dan thinks my intense love for mushrooms indicates a possible mental disorder, but I just know a tasty little snack when I meet one!

Add the following ingredients to a slow cooker:

Two 8-oz. packages fresh whole mushrooms, rinsed

1 stick butter

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

1-oz. package dry Ranch dressing mix

Cook on Low setting for 2 hours (stir occasionally). Serve warm with toothpicks! 

Happy delicious-mushroom-eating and Super-Bowl-watching!

Printable recipe: Buttery ranch mushroom bites

Tuesday
Jan282014

Gooey cinnamon bars

I will not complain about the weather, I will not complain about the weather, I will not complain about the weather. Instead I will talk about things that make me happy, like the fact that we have over NINETY Pillow Pets in our house for the kids at Children's Hospital. NINETY! All thanks to the generosity of friends, family and people I have never met! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! (There is still time to help!) Apparently repeating everything three times is my thing today. today. today.

So much has happened in the past month, so time seems insanely skewed. It seems impossible that it was only one month ago we were in Indiana celebrating Christmas with my family. While we were staying in that cozy little Indiana rental house, we did a lot of sleeping, relaxing and EATING. One of the many things I stuffed into my hungry body was about a half of a pan of these gooey cinnamon bars. Mmm mmm mmm! You just have to add these to your winter baking list.

 

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9x13 pan with cooking spray and set aside. 

In a medium bowl, combine:

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

Mix well and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine:

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

Beat until combined. Add:

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

Am I the only one who makes faces in mixing bowls? Isn't this guy cute?

Stir until combined. Gradually add the flour mixture and stir until combined. Press half of the dough into the prepared pan and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine:

1/2 cup cinnamon-flavored chips

1/2 cup vanilla-flavored chips (if you can't find vanilla, use white chocolate chips)

14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk

Microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring after each, until creamy and smooth. Pour the mixture into the pan, over the bottom layer of dough.

Top with the remaining dough. Don't worry about covering all of the goo.

Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Let the bars cool and cut them into delicious, gooey squares that taste like they came straight from heaven.

Enjoy enjoy enjoy!

Gooey Cinnamon Bars

Don't make these bars unless you are ready to devour an entire pan alone. They are so addicting and delicious!

Serves: 12

Total time: 45 min

Gooey Cinnamon Bars



Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup cinnamon-flavored chips
  • 1/2 cup vanilla-flavored white chips
  • 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9x13 pan with cooking spray and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the butter and sugars and beat until combined. Add the eggs and vanilla and stir until combined. Gradually add the flour mixture and stir until combined. Press half of the dough into the prepared pan and set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon chips, vanilla chips and condensed milk. Microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring after each, until creamy and smooth. Pour the mixture over the bottom dough layer. Top with remaining dough crumbles. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes. Let cool completely and cut into squares.

 

 

Friday
Jan242014

Spaghetti sauce

What is this, you're asking? Two new posts within a few days? I love this blog and I want to be here more often. Things in other areas of my life have slowed way down and the post-surgery fog is beginning to lift. So prepare yourself for new, mouth-watering material here on Pip and Ebby. I have the next five months mapped out and I cannot WAIT to make, eat and share every single recipe on my agenda! 

Last night Dan and I had a few of our skydiving friends over for dinner. It's January and we are starting to miss our summertime pals! It was so nice to spend time with them. We enjoyed a delicious batch of spaghetti while much laughter bounced off our walls. In preparation for our night with friends, I remembered the spare tomatoes I had thrown into my freezer last August. I threw them into a skillet with a bunch of other tasty morsels to create a delicious and well-rounded spaghetti sauce. This is a HUGE batch, so cut it in half if needed.

 

Cook 2 pounds of lean ground beef (or venison) in an extra-large skillet or saucepan over medium-high heat until it is no longer pink. Transfer the cooked meat to a bowl and drain the excess grease from the skillet. Or just leave it, if you're feeling crazy. Don't clean the skillet. 

Heat 5 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil (in the same skillet) over medium heat.

Add:

8 cloves garlic, minced

2 yellow onions, chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

8-oz. package mushrooms, chopped

1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes.

Add:

6 to 8 cups (approximately 30-40 Roma tomatoes total) frozen (thawed) or canned tomatoes (juices included), chopped (SUBSTITUTION: Two 28-oz. cans crushed tomatoes + one 28-oz. can diced tomatoes)

Two 6-oz. cans tomato paste

14-oz. can beef broth

1/2 cup red wine

Mix well. Please feel free to add a small can of diced tomatoes, if your sauce isn't tomatoey enough.

Add:

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 teaspoons Italian seasoning

1 teaspoon salt

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for a minimum of 1 hour, stirring occasionally. I like to let mine cook for a couple hours at a really low setting, but 1 hour is plenty.

Pour the sauce over cooked spaghetti noodles and top with shaved or grated Parmesan cheese. I hope you love this as much as we did! 

Have a great weekend!

Spaghetti Sauce

Chunky, flavorful, swoonable spaghetti sauce that'll make your noodles sing!

Serves: 12

Total time: 1 hr 30 min

Spaghetti Sauce



Ingredients: 

  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 yellow onions, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 8-oz. package mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 6-8 cups frozen tomatoes, thawed and chopped (juices included) – this equals about 30-40 Roma tomatoes (FROZEN TOMATO SUBSTITUTION: Two 28-oz. cans crushed tomatoes + one 28-oz. can diced tomatoes)
  • Two 6-oz. cans tomato paste
  • 14-oz. can beef broth
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Shaved Parmesan cheese, for topping
Instructions:
  1. Cook the ground beef in an extra-large skillet or saucepan over medium-high heat until no longer pink. Transfer beef to a bowl and drain excess grease from skillet (don’t clean skillet). Heat the olive oil over medium heat in the same skillet and add garlic, onions, green peppers, mushrooms and parsley. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, beef broth, red wine, brown sugar, Italian seasoning and salt to the skillet. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for a minimum of 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Pour over cooked spaghetti noodles and top with shaved Parmesan cheese.

 

 

Monday
Jan202014

Club sandwich dip

My boys and I were a giant tornado of commotion for months and now things have abruptly quieted down for us. It is taking me a while to adjust and truly enjoy this unique quality time that we have together. We are also still adjusting to life after Elijah's recent surgery and his challenging recovery from it and the news that we learned. He is completely deaf in one ear. This has been hard news to swallow and I find myself constantly trying to think of ways we can help to make life easier for our boy. It has kind of consumed me, actually. For the past week or so, I've thought about little else. Well, there is the drive we are raising Pillow Pets for to make hospital-bound children happy (please consider helping, if it is on your heart!) and there's this dip that Dan and I consumed in two or three sittings (shameful). 

My goal with this dip was to take a bite of it and feel like I was literally eating a club sandwich. I nailed it! It is spot on and so insanely yummy.

 

Add the following ingredients to a slow cooker:

1 lb. sliced deli turkey, chopped

1 lb. sliced deli ham, chopped

8-oz. package cream cheese

12-oz. package American cheese singles, unwrapped and chopped

3/4 cup mayonnaise

1 to 2 teaspoons seasoning salt (I used Lawry's)

Mix together and cook on low heat for 2 hours (stirring occasionally), or until the cheeses are melted and the dip is warmed through.

Add:

Cooked, chopped bacon (I used an entire 16-oz. package, but cater to your liking)

3/4 cup chopped pickles

8-oz. container cherry or grape tomaoes, quartered

Stir and heat for an additional 10 minutes on low heat. Serve warm with pita wedges, crackers or chips for dipping. 

Wishing you a wonderful mid-January week! Thanks for reading!

Club Sandwich Dip

This dip is an all-time favorite. If you love club sandwiches, you will DEVOUR this delicious snack.

Serves: 12-16

Total time: 2 hrs, 20 min

Club Sandwich Dip



Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. sliced deli turkey, chopped
  • 1 lb. sliced deli ham, chopped
  • 8-oz. package cream cheese
  • 12-oz. package American cheese slices, unwrapped and chopped
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1-2 teaspoons seasoning salt (such as Lawry’s)
  • 16-oz. package bacon cooked according to package directions, chopped
  • 8-oz. cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 3/4 cup chopped pickles
  • Pita wedges, crackers or chips, for dipping
Instructions:
  1. Add the turkey, ham, cream cheese, American cheese, mayo and seasoning salt to a slow cooker. Mix together and cook on low heat for 2 hours (stirring occasionally), or until cheese is melted and dip is warmed through.
  2. Add the bacon pieces, tomatoes and pickles. Stir and heat for 10 additional minutes on low heat. Serve warm with pita wedges, crackers or chips for dipping.

 

 

Monday
Jan132014

Project pillow pet

I always experience renewed gratitude after a stint in the hospital with our son. I am grateful for an incredible hospital, smart doctors, compassionate nurses and loving family and friends. Spending time at a children's hospital (or any hospital, for that matter) is not super fun. In fact, it can be downright heart-wrenching at times. But there are so many things that our friends and family members have done for us over the years that have helped to brighten our spirits. And if I'm being honest, the only person's spirits I truly care about while we are in the hospital are Elijah's. After all that he has been through, there is nothing better than seeing him smile through the pain.

I feel it so strongly in my heart right now to give to other children what our loved ones have given to Elijah over the past week -- a smile when smiles aren't easy. Wouldn't it be so much fun to load up a couple of cars FILLED with Pillow Pets and bring them to children in the hospital who are in need of comfort and a smile? Let's do this! Will you help?!

* I am not being compensated in any way by Pillow Pets, nor did they ask me to promote their product. We just LOVE PPs here in our house! If you'd rather contribute a different comfort item, please feel free to do so! 

** A special thanks to our amazing neighbor Jennifer for giving me this idea!

 

Pillow Pets run right around $20. If it is on your heart to contribute, you can do it a couple different ways:

- Purchase a Pillow Pet (or comfort item of choice -- new items only, please) and send it to me at: Megan Porta - P.O. Box 16 - 135 Sommerville St. S. - Shakopee, MN 55379.

- Send a check to the above address.

- Send money through PayPal (mmporta@gmail.com).

 

If you do any of the above, leave a comment on this post. I will randomly select 3 commenters at the end of the month to receive something as a "thank you." It'll be a surprise, but you will get your money back plus a little!

At the end of January, my boys and I will personally deliver ALL of the PPs we receive to our local Children's Hospital!

THANK YOU for your generosity! A little something like this means so much to a sick kid!