Two pound bars

I take a lot of meals to banquets and potlucks. I think because I have high school age kids that have a sports banquet or team dinner every other week. Because of this I am always trying to think of something new and exciting to take. Who wants the same old brownies and store-bought cookies every time?

This was a recipe I got from a friend after she made it at a birthday party I went to. It was delicious! I made it for my son’s wrestling team and got requests from the majority of the moms for the recipe because their kids liked it so much. Score! So I will share it on my blog hoping it will make your kids as happy as it has made mine.  🙂

 

Start by mixing the dry ingredients with the melted margarine (or butter- you choose). This would be the first 6 ingredients in the recipe. It will come together in a crumbly texture, see below….

 

Once it looks like this you can press half of this into a 9×13″ pan and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. This brings the bar portion of the bars together so you can top and bake with toppings. When I make this for the football/wrestling teams I usually make 2 pans at a time or I get complaints that they were gone so fast my kids did not get any at home. So I make one for home and one for school.

Press and bake the crusts. After 10 minutes it comes out looking like this and  you an add the toppings. Top with chocolate chips, pour caramel over the top and sprinkle remainder of the oatmeal mix over chocolate and caramel. Put it back in the oven and bake an additional 20 minutes. Take out, let cool and VOILA’! The perfect bar! (My kids actually love to eat these warm and ooey gooey out of the oven)…

I am kicking myself because I did not get an “after” picture of what these look like when they are done but if you can imagine a crumble bar of chocolate, oatmeal and caramel that would be about spot on. They are awesome.

We are on ice and snow day #2 this week in Iowa and have been cooped up avoiding the cold. This would be the prefect treat that is quick to make while stuck at home. Here is the recipe to print and save. Enjoy!

Two Pound Bars

  • Servings: Twelve Bars
  • Time: One Hour
  • Difficulty: Easy
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3 sticks margarine or butter melted

2 cups oatmeal

2 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

tsp salt

1 and 1/2 cups brown sugar

12 oz package chocolate chips

12.5 oz jar smuckers caramel topping

Mix first 6 ingredients above and pat half of mixture in 9×13″ pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Sprinkle chocolate chips on and pour caramel over the top of the chips. Sprinkle rest of oatmeal mix on the top and bake another 20 minutes.

Hope you all are staying warm!

~Laura

 

Mozzarella Bake

It is a crazy week!! I am so happy to be reaching the end of my work week, and since we have had one of those weeks where we are not home, it seems extra special to be able to stay home and cook dinner tonight. Clint has been out of town at an ag conference, Nate was wrapping up his wrestling season late last night and I have been playing single parent which means much easier dinners and an occasional (ahem) dinner out.

So tonight I was super happy to be able to bring back an old favorite and am making Mozzarella bake. This is my absolute favorite baked spaghetti casserole. It is easy to throw together in advance, can be modified for your families taste and likes, and can be refrigerated for a couple days before actually baking. I have taken this to multiple sports banquets, potlucks and etc. Always a hit with the teens!

So if you decide to try this for your family as well- I would love to get some feedback!

Start by gathering your ingredients!

 

Whisk one egg before adding cheeses

 

Tonight I chose to brown 1 lb. hamburger with 1 lb. mild Italian sausage

 

Mix cheeses with egg

 

Ready for the oven!

This is easy to modify- my family likes mushrooms so we used a mushroom based spaghetti sauce, but you can use whatever sauce you prefer. You can also modify and use turkey instead of hamburger, or all hamburger, or like in this case I used Italian sausage and hamburger. Mix it up to your liking!

 


Done! I had a glass of Iowa blush wine with mine… Perfect!

(Side note… This was the first time I had tried sausage instead of all hamburger in mine which my family did not care for as much. Even though I used mild… They thought the sausage flavor was too strong…) Next time I will go back to just beef.

Good luck and stay warm!

Mozzarella Bake

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Time: 20 minute prep, 30 min. bake time
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients:

1 and 1/2 pounds lean ground beef (I use 2 pounds)

12 oz. cottage cheese

16 oz. spaghetti sauce of your choice (we like mushroom)

8 oz. mozzarella cheese

1/2 tsp. minced onion

1/8 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. garlic salt

3 oz. parmesean cheese

1/8 tsp. pepper

1 egg beaten

8 oz. sour cream

5 oz. thin spaghetti cooked and drained

Brown ground beef and drain. Add spaghetti sauce and seasonings. Simmer over low heat for 15-20 minutes. Beat egg in large bowl. Add sour cream, cottage cheese, mozzarella cheese, and salt. Blend well. Stir in noodles. Place half of the noodle mixture in 9×13″ pan sprayed with cooking spray. Top with 1/2 of the ground beef mixture. Repeat layers. Sprinkle parmesean cheese lightly over the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until bubbly.

Serves 6-8

Source: Webster County Catholic Churches cookbook “Catholic Team Parishes of Webster County 150 years of faith and food”

Check out this post at the March Country Fair blog party! Click here: March Country Fair Blog Party

 

 

 

Easy Hamballs… A Family Favorite!

It’s a snow day!! a perfect day to cook a family favorite in our house. Pair this with a pan of cheesy potatoes and a veggie and you are set. My kids LOVE this recipe and it has become a fall favorite at our house. The basis of it is simple. You can make your own basic ham loaf mixture (or…. if you are like me, you drive to your local grocery store and buy theirs from the meat counter. HA!)

I have made this for my family literally a THOUSAND times. In Iowa we have a chain of grocery stores called Fareway. This is where I buy my ham loaf already made. Then I doctor it up. I have to give credit to the recipe for ham balls to Fareway though the butcher gave me the recipe on a recipe card one night when I was stewing over what to make for dinner. He simply said to modify their ham loaf recipe and make ham balls and “Voila!” here is the recipe all typed up on a card already. 🙂

So here you go! Enjoy!

Easy Ham Balls

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 1 hrs 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
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3 pounds premade Hamloaf

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

1 cup milk

2 eggs

1 can tomato soup

1/2 cup vinegar

1 TSP DRY mustard

1 and 1/2 cups brown sugar

Mix meat, milk, eggs and crackers together and form 18-20 small ham balls (or I make 12 large ham balls)

Place in large flat baking dish

Mix soup, sugar, vinegar and mustard together, Pour over hamballs

Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees uncovered

Serve and enjoy!

Recipe credit to Fareway Food stores meat counter

Find this at the February Country LINKed blog party at this link!

 February Country Fair blog party!

Chicken Sour Cream Enchiladas

It has been SUCH a busy week! It’s the week after homecoming so a recovery week for sure. We had meetings all day Monday, then back to school Tuesday and church Wednesday, football Thursday and Friday. On top of that my middle child turned 14! I cannot believe how time has flown. We worked in birthday cake and presents on Thursday after football and we acquired another 4 teenage boys last night overnight to celebrate after the football game. We also had to work in the driver’s permit test and getting a permit. Meanwhile my daughter headed to another overnight for her friend. All in all, as my husband says… this hen will be happy once all of her chicks are back in their own nest and we get back to some semblance of routine.

did manage to get dinner made nightly, and I brought back this old favorite from my childhood! Its easy, and soooo good. I need to note that I collect and love cookbooks, especially those compiled from small town celebrations, family reunions and church fundraisers. I think this is because the people who contribute like to throw in their favorites! This one came from my stepmom and she made it at Christmas at our family get togethers as I was growing up. I also think it is even better reheated so that is a bonus for parents like me who are on the go and seldom have a meal at home together.

I made this Monday night because we were home and together. It takes a little while to roll all the enchiladas up before baking but it is worth it and is so filling when served with rice or chips and salsa. It is a favorite at our house, enjoy!

Start with the filling ingredients, mix with cooked chicken

Mix filling well. Add green chilis to your liking, I used 2 cans chopped green chilis since they are not too hot

Ready to go in the oven….mine fit in a 13×9 in pan plus a 9×9 inch pan

Sour Cream Enchiladas

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Time: 2 hrs
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients:

2 8 oz. cartons sour cream

8 oz. shredded mozerella

8 oz. shredded Monterey Jack cheese

2 cans green chilies

1 lg onion chopped

4 cooked, shredded chicken breasts

24 corn tortillas (or I used flour and omitted the use of oil to soften)

Combine all ingredients, except tortillas. Spread several tablespoons of mixture into the bottom of a 9×13 in. baking dish, Soften tortillas in oil and drain on paper towel. Tope each tortilla with a heaping tablespoon of mixture, roll up and place seam side down in baking dish. Pour remaining mixture on top, add water to spread if needed. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Source: Nancy Shirbroun, Bayard Cookbook

I hope you have a great rest of your weekend! Tomorrow we go help my brother move after hosting a church breakfast and teaching Sunday school in the morning. Football wraps up this week too and then on to basketball, traveling basketball and wrestling. I think I have a hard time saying no…. 🙂

Find this at the February CountryLINKed blog party at this link!

February Country Fair Blog party!

 

All day meatball stew

Disclosure: 🙂 Since I am new to this whole blogging thing and since I am NOT a professional photographer… I will simply do my best to share my favorite recipes with as appealing of photos as I can accomplish. I am not a professional, I do this for a hobby so please bear with me.

We are entering the season of colder weather, and my default for this kind of hectic night is an easy recipe that can be accomplished with minimal effort on my part, is wonderful left over, and is easy to make and throw together in the morning. The result? All day meatball stew. I LOVE this stew! In may families 1-10 rating scale this routinely gets a “10”. I have made it for holidays, on weekends, taken it to tailgates, you name it. It is a regular in my homes rotation and paired with french or chewy bread and crackers and topped with italian cheese is delicious.

I really don’t remember where I got this recipe so I cannot give specific credit to anyone. It is one of those recipes that has been passed on from party to party and through the years at get togethers when someone says “can I have that recipe” and I can rattle it off by heart. To me, it is that good.

The ingredients are simple. I hear it is wonderful paired with a red wine or Chianti. But to me, watching football on the couch with my family on a cool fall winter night it is perfect paired with just your favorite bread.

So enjoy! I would love to hear your feedback.

All day Meatball Stew

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Time: Minimum 5 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients:

3 cans Italian style diced tomatoes (with basil, garlic and oregano)

1 small bag frozen mixed vegetables

1 package southern style cubed hash browns

3-4 cups beef broth

1 bag frozen meatballs, whichever style you prefer (smaller work best)

Shredded italian cheese as a topper

Mix the above ingredients in your crock pot on low and let cook all day. The longer it cooks, the better the flavor from the meatballs. Serve with bread and topped with shredded italian cheese

Find this at the CountryLINKed February blog party here….

February Country Fair blog party!

Happy weekend! It’s basically Thanksgiving at my house…..

I think it the closest thing to a perfect weekend at my house this weekend. After a rough night of football last night I got to sleep in this morning followed by an appointment to have my nails done…. wait for it…. wait for it….. ALONE. Just me. Me and no one else. Me sipping iced tea while I talked about pointless things with my manicurist while I had my nails painted in festive black and gold for our upcoming Homecoming week. It was heaven.

When I got home we had agreed to clean out the freezer in preparation for our next beef that is due to arrive in November. Since we had a larger frozen turkey in there from last year, we decided to make it this weekend to make space in the deep freeze. So…. the turkey was thawed this week, cleaned and put in the roaster for a Thanksgiving dinner on a weekend in early October. It smells so good…..

This brings me to why this is the perfect weekend reason #2, we are planning a family dinner all of us at home tonight. Mashed red potatoes, turkey, dressing, green beans… the works. I look forward to eating together and having time as a family since most days we are all going in different directions. Even tonight- after our dinner… we will part ways. One son off to a party, another off to help with harvest, my daughter and I off to the movies with a friend of hers. My husband off to watch football. The time together at dinner is so special and precious to me. There is something about bonding over food with family.

So … it is Thanksgiving at my house. I am thankful for so much, the food we have, the family I am blessed with, the money we are blessed to have, the jobs we are fortunate to have. I am blessed with an education, and income, health and family. What more could a girl ask for?

Now… on to another thought (off subject of course) … when I was at Wal-Mart picking up a few things in preparation of our Thanksgiving in October, I went to check out the Pioneer Woman line of products I have been anxiously awaiting. The are always sold out! Here is what I had to choose from! Why don’t I just shop online…..

I did manage to pick up a couple of her spatulas and measuring spoons but I was so bummed to not be able to check more out. I love her line! I am keeping my fingers crossed for her cutting board, knives and her beverage tub with 2 beverage holders. ADORABLE!

I hope everyone is having as perfect of a weekend as mine. Tomorrow I am off to mass and teach Sunday school, then home for leftovers and 2 boys are off to football and one off to basketball. I am hoping to get apple crisp made if possible.

(Side note before finishing this post I want to add that my daughter and I saw Hotel Transylvania tonight at the movies. It was so cute! I would have to venture to say better than #1 even. A must see for those with young children and it had some great adult humor as well. It was worth the trip to the theater for sure).

Have a great rest of the weekend.

~Laura

Taiwanese Treats

It’s been a busy summer… to say the least. Between basketball and the day to day rush of herding my own 3 kids, we acquired a Taiwanese foreign exchange student who arrived in the US and had nowhere to stay. This was unplanned. BUT like all things in a busy household even the best laid plans fail. So we go with it. And we expect to roll with the punches.

So Leo, our foreign exchange student arrived at our home at the end of August. One week after the start of school. He is easy to have. appreciative of what we do for him, follows the rules etc. Really I cannot complain.

Since his arrival we have experienced so much!  The biggest and best fair in the whole United States… the Iowa State Fair http://www.iowastatefair.org/, the Iowa vs. Iowa State game (unfortunately Iowa State lost) .. and everything from fireworks on the farm to deer calls, playing football, and a bonfire. We will share more on that later….

So Leo arrived and we started our new “routine” and fortunately the greatest issue we have had thus far is his extreme overeating tendencies. We have since discovered that our diet is so flavorful that he just cannot get enough… and he is not full because our diet is missing the tea and rice he is used to filling up on.

We continue to adjust and we continue to see changes little by little. He has learned he can stop, there will be more food for him later. He has learned he likes EVERYTHING we offer so he has to limit himself. But he is very considerate and makes every attempt to follow the rules.

One of the unexpected surprises of having a foreign exchange student was the arrival of a treat box from his mother in Taiwan. She speaks no English, so our opportunity to visit with him about it came from visiting with Leo. His mother was kind enough to send the expensive pastries and desserts that the Taiwanese enjoy in their country for their celebration. I can briefly describe these, although not a big favorite at our house, my children were kind enough to sample them and give feedback. Let me say though- I can see why our “American food” is so delicious to him, as the Taiwanese desserts are very bland in flavor, and not too exciting. 🙂

The first thing we tried was a expensive white cake with a red dot in the middle. This was a flaky layered type snowball shaped cake and tasted like sugar cookie dough unbaked would taste. It was so-so.

We also tried “moon cake” which was a brown squared shaped heavier cake with a date baked in the middle. This cake is consumed in conjunction with the festival in Taiwan. Interesting, but not very good.

Lastly we tried a “pineapple cake” again a square cake similar to a fig newton in consistancy. The newton part was pineapple flavored and very chewy. I guess if I had to have a favorite this would be it?

Even if the desserts were not our favorite, we loved the opportunity to try something from his culture. He also had a package of what appeared to be ramen type noodles that teenagers eat uncooked with seasoning on them. Similar to chips, they carry the bag and eat the noodles as a snack. The bag has a wizard on the front and is a child favorite.

We continue to learn from this experience and apprecitae the opportunity y to teach about this beautiul country we call home …. will keep updates as I can!

~Laura

Boxed treats from Taiwan, moon cake, pineapple cake and desserts