Monday, December 24, 2012

Menu Monday #32

Are you ready for Christmas tomorrow?!? I think we are finally ready after a bit more shopping this weekend, and some wrapping that went on during naptime today. We still have some cookies to bake tonight and then we will be all set!

On Wednesday, the boys and I made Rudolph ornaments. You can check those out on the elf on the shelf page. So sweet.

On Thursday, we had Ethan's preschool Christmas program. They had learned several songs with motions to perform for the parents on stage. Sadly, once Ethan saw us when he entered the room with his class, he didn't want to go on stage, and wanted to come sit with us instead. So, no pics or videos of that. :( Maybe next year! We did enjoy some muffins and juice with him after the program. I put together Rudolph bags for Ethan's teachers and little Rudolph candy canes for his classmates. I traced his hands to make the ears, and he stuck the wiggly eyes and pom-pom noses on the bags. Super cute. The candy canes have pipe cleaners for antlers, then wiggly eyes and pom-pom noses. I added little tags that wished each child a merry and bright Christmas. :)

We enjoyed the first day of winter on Friday by waking up to SNOW!! Very fitting. I was still laying in bed when two excited little feet came running into our room. Ethan happily informed me that, "Mommy! There's snow on the ground!!" It was almost as exciting as Christmas morning for him! :) Once Daddy arrived home from work, we ate lunch and headed outside to play in the snow. It was still coming down, but the ground was warm, so there wasn't as much of it as we would have liked. We did manage to build a small snowman - the boys' first! They loved it. :) After playing outside in the cold, we headed in to warm up with some hot cocoa. I was never a fan of it growing up, but tried out a recipe for a homemade version from Hershey's that I loved! I added the extras. :)

Peppermint Hot Cocoa
(single serving)

  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • Dash of salt
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 to 3 tsp cocoa
  • 1 cup milk
  • Whipped cream
  • Peppermints, crushed
Mix the sugar, cocoa and salt in a large mug. Add the milk and stir well. Microwave on high for 1 1/2 minutes, or until hot. Stir in the vanilla. Top with some whipped cream and some crushed peppermints. Delish!

That evening, we indulged in a Cracker Barrel dinner. Josh loves their country breakfast and I have a soft spot for their dumplings. It appears little Noah has inherited this love, too. :)

On Saturday morning, we enjoyed some of my whole wheat banana bread pancakes. This time, I also added some chopped walnuts. It was a great addition. The cinnamon vanilla maple syrup came out wonderfully this time, too. Maybe because I didn't measure anything? I tend to cook better that way for some reason. We spent a lazy day around the house, but managed to get a few things done. I decided it was time to tackle my laundry room/entryway from the garage. I'll post pics of that project soon! On Saturday evening, we were in the mood for pizza, so we visited our new favorite, Scratch, for dinner. We loved the pizza that we ordered last time so much that we got it again. Andouille sausage, pepperone, onions and fresh spinach. Yum. We also had more of the pesto cheesesticks, with the red sauce this time. The boys can pound those pretty hard!

On Sunday morning, Ethan helped Daddy make scrambled eggs and Cream of Wheat for breakfast, as that has become our normal Sunday brunch. I decided I wanted some steel cut oats instead, so I made some Apple Cinnamon Oats for myself. For dinner, we decided to go out, and enjoyed some international cuisine at Yong Asian House, before hitting up the grocery store. Their chicken and steak teriyaki with fried rice was pretty tasty. Definitely satisfied the lack of hibachi I have had in my life lately. Then, we loaded up with sugar, milk and butter at the store and began baking our Christmas cookies when we got home. On our list this year: pecan butterballs (aka, Russian tea cakes, or Mexican wedding cakes), peanut butter fudge, peanut butter blossoms, snickerdoodles, sour cream cookies, and of course, the obligatory cutout Christmas cookies with frosting. We managed to finish the first three last night, and will be tackling the rest tonight/tomorrow! We may all be bouncing off the walls by the end of it, but we're all enjoying it. :)

Last week's new recipes, Taco cupcakes and Mexican rice, turned out great. The taco cupcakes were really awesome and I'll definitely make those again. I loved the addition of the beans with the meat. They were very hearty and the recipe yielded 16 cupcakes, so I had lots of leftovers! The rice was on the hot side, probably due to the chili powder. I'll make it again, but definitely reduce that amount. Hubby and I love spicy food, but it was hotter than I prefer and way too hot for the boys. Here's what's on the menu this week...

Sunday: Yong Asian House
A yummy meal to fill us up before grocery shopping.

Monday: Hearty meatball stew
This is our traditional Christmas Eve dinner. It's one of my dad's favorites, and for some reason, I only seem to make it on Christmas Eve, instead of throughout the entire winter. I'm not sure why, though it is a bit time-consuming. It will be Noah's first year of getting to try it, so I hope he loves it, too!

Hearty Meatball Stew

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 beef bouillon cube
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 1 can (10 3/4 oz) condensed tomato soup
  • 3 carrots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 medium potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 can (7.5 oz) Pillsbury biscuits
  • Paprika
Original family recipe: In a medium bowl, combine the ground beef, egg, onion, salt, pepper and garlic powder; mix well. Shape into 1 1/2-inch balls. In Dutch oven, brown the meatballs; drain. Dissolve the bouillon in boiling water. Add water, soup, vegetables, thyme, and remaining garlic powder to the meatballs; stir gently. Cover and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Separate the dough into 10 biscuits; cut each biscuit in half. Place biscuit halves on hot stew mixture. Sprinkle with paprika. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes; cover and simmer 15 to 20 minutes longer.

My changes: I add more spices to the meatballs, and make them as I normally would for spaghetti and meatballs. I also use an entire pound of carrots (minus a couple that we leave out for Santa's reindeer with the milk and cookies!), 2 large (or 3 medium) potatoes, and 2 cans of biscuits (my favorite part!). This yields a big batch, but allows for leftovers for the week. I would like to try using my own biscuit recipe sometime. Maybe next year?

Tuesday: Manicotti, French bread, applesauce
This has become our traditional Christmas dinner meal. It is probably my favorite meal from my childhood and I love that my boys love it, too! I'll make the bread in the bread machine.


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 jar spaghetti sauce
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup parsley
  • Dash of pepper and salt
  • 10 manicotti shells
Fill dutch oven 3/4 full with water, bring to a boil and add manicotti shells. Let cook according to package directions. Brown the ground beef in a skillet, then drain. Add the spaghetti sauce and let simmer. In a mixing bowl, combine 2 cups of the mozzarella cheese and the Parmesan cheese. Add the eggs, parsley, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly. Stuff the shells with the cheese mixture. Pour half of the meat mixture into the baking dish. Put in the stuffed shells and add the remaining meat sauce over the top. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup of mozzarella cheese. Cover with foil and bake at 400 degrees for 40 to 60 minutes. This would also make a great vegetarian meal by taking out the beef. It will still be delicious!

Wednesday:  TBD
My parents should be here for dinner, but I'm still deciding what I want to make. I am thinking about doing a big turkey dinner. I despise ham, and don't really want to make one of those, but a turkey dinner might be nice?

Thursday: Pizza casserole
Ethan requested this meal! I made this one up a couple years ago, and it's a tasty one. I line a casserole dish with large pepperoni, then top it with a pasta mixture (whole wheat rotini, pizza sauce, diced red, yellow, and green peppers, onions and more pepperoni), then top it with some shredded mozzarella cheese. Cover and bake it until the cheese is melted.

Friday: Out to eat
We want to take my parents to Scratch for some pizza! :)

Saturday: TBD
Not sure what we'll do yet.

We'll also do some bigger breakfasts for the holidays this week. On Christmas morning, I like to make "Santacakes" for the boys. I color pancakes red and green, and add chocolate chips for "reindeer poo". Hehe. With company in town, I'll make breakfast casserole one day and my favorite coffee cake another day. Yum!

Happy meal planning to you this week. Will you be doing a lot of cooking and/or baking, or are you traveling for the holidays? We decided to stay in Tennessee this year, after making 9 trips to Ohio already this year! We needed a break and wanted to spend a relaxing couple of weeks at the house with the boys. We will have both sets of grandparents and Uncle Jared visiting us this year and look forward to entertaining!


  1. Sorry this is so belated, but I hope you guys had a wonderful Christmas! Thanks for taking time in the midst to share some more fantastic recipes. Happy New Year's to you :)

  2. Thank you, Meredith!! We had a wonderful Christmas. I hope that you guys did, too! These are a couple of my favorite comfort meals. Wonderful for this chilly weather! :)


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