Meet the Sullivans: October 2011

October 31, 2011

Menu Monday 10/31

Happy Halloween!

I have been so busy since last weekend that I have completely neglected to make any blog posts! I'm so sorry. Last weekend my mom and sister threw me a lovely baby shower, Keith and I started to do some car shopping (his Jeep has entered into retirement, so we're in the market) and I worked on report cards. The week literally flew right by and ended on Friday with my 30th birthday. We celebrated at school with a little party thrown by my class (with help from our wonderful room moms of course), Saturday night we celebrated with friends and last night we went to dinner with my family. What fun! And now I am exhausted!

With that being said, I am happy to get back to the kitchen this week! 

Here is what we have planned in the kitchen this week:

Prosciutto and Fontina-Stuffed Chicken Breasts (Cooking Light) -  We've made lots of stuffed chicken breasts before, but I haven't posted many here. I'm looking forward to trying this recipe in hopes of sharing it on the blog.

Loaded Baked Potato Casserole (Paula Deen) - I made this Sunday night to go with the pot roast. It was very easy and very good! I can't wait to share it with you later this week.

English Cottage Pie (Cooking Light via Me) - I'm making this tonight for Halloween. I made it last year on Halloween for the first time. It is so cozy and delicious!

Autumn Chopped Salad (Espresso and Cream) - A great Autumn alternative to one of my favorite salads. I'm going to add chicken for extra protein.

Peasant Stew (Cooking Light) - I'm still on the hunt for great slow cooker recipes. I've been lucky lately and I'm hoping our luck continues when I make this!

October 30, 2011

My Baby Shower

Last weekend my mom and sister threw me a beautiful baby shower. They put a lot of energy into planning the shower and invited all my close friends and family. Tiny Baby was showered with tons of love and lots of gifts!

 My sister planned some fun games. For this one you had to guess how many jelly beans there are in the baby bottle.

 For this game people had to guess the flavor of baby food--just by looking at it. No tasting!

 My friends Rosanna, Amanda and Jen.

 Jackie (due in early February) and Hilary.

 My mom's cousins Jackie, Carol, Kim and Sue.

 My Aunt Lesley, Annette, Pat and my Aunt Kathy.

 The Sullivan side of my family: SIL Kelly, MIL Barbara, nieces Amanda, Jessica, Natalie and Megan and SIL's Christina and Teri.

 The gracious hostesses Kathee and mom.

 Cynthia and I teach kindergarten together.

 This is Delilah (my friend Tera's adorable and sweet daughter) playing in the backyard.

 It was so much fun opening all those gifts! This baby now has pretty much everything he/she needs!

Delicious cake from The Cakery. 

 My mom and a bunch of her friends, sisters and cousins.

I can't wait to introduce this little baby to all our wonderful friends and family. We're ready for you Baby Sullivan!

October 20, 2011

Smoked Turkey Club Panini

We made these paninis last week for dinner. We don't own a panini maker (yet!), so I decided to try using our George Foreman grill (a staple for all college students in our day), which served its purpose nicely. I would definitely make these again--they were simple to put together and had great flavors!
Smoked Turkey Club Panini
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8-12 slices bacon
1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil, rinsed, patted dry and minced
1/3 cup light mayonnaise
8 slices thick-cut crusty bread
1/2 pound thinly sliced deli Swiss cheese
1/2 pound thinly sliced deli smoked turkey
3 cups baby spinach

Cook bacon until crisp. You can use a skillet or use the microwave (like I did!), placing the bacon in a single layer on a paper-towel lined plate, cover with paper towels and microwave for about 5 minutes (repeating the process if all the bacon doesn’t fit the first round). In a small bowl, combine the sun-dried tomatoes and mayonnaise.

Lightly spread butter over one side of each bread. Lay the butter-sides down on a cutting board or work area. Spread each slice with the sun-dried tomato mayonnaise. Layer half of the cheese on 4 slices of bread then top with turkey, bacon, spinach (or arugula) and remaining cheese. Top with remaining bread, butter side up.

Cook the sandwiches on a panini press, skillet or grill pan heated on medium heat for one minute prior to cooking. I use an indoor grill pan for my paninis but a skillet would work just as well. I used a George Foreman grill, which is essentially the same as a panini maker. Cook the sandwiches for about 4-5 minutes per side, until they are golden brown and the cheese is melted. Repeat with remaining sandwiches. Serve immediately.

Recipe courtesy of Cook's Country via Mel's Kitchen Cafe.

October 18, 2011

Caramelized Garlic Cheese Spread

I made this last year a few times and couldn't wait to make it again this year. I brought it to school to share with my co-workers and they loved it. Seriously, you have got to try it for yourself!
Caramelized Garlic Cheese Spread
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2 teaspoons butter
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 teaspoon sugar
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 cup sliced green onion
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup finely crushed Cheez-Its
1 green bell pepper
crackers for serving

  1. In a skillet put in the 2 tsp butter, sugar and all that garlic. Heat, stirring, over medium heat, until the garlic starts the brown. Set aside.
  2. In a bowl, add the cream cheese, 2 cups of cheese, butter, salt, green onions, and garlic. Mix with a hand-mixer. 
  3. Shape mixture into a ball. Cover and put in the fridge for at least an hour. In the meantime, crush the Cheez-its with a rolling pin. 
  4. Put the crushed Cheez-its in a shallow dish and roll ball in the mixture. Carefully remove the stem from a green bell pepper and insert in center of ball.
Recipe courtesy of Land 'O Lakes via Keeping Up With the Joneses

October 14, 2011

Chicken Broccoli Ring

How pretty is this?
We really liked this recipe. Keith even said, as I was snapping pictures of the braid, that it looked great. This would be a nice dish for a little luncheon. We served it with a small green salad on the side, but a fruit salad would go nicely too.

Chicken Broccoli Ring
For a printer-friendly version click here. 

2 packages (8 ounces ea.) refrigerated crescent rolls
1 cup cooked chicken
3/4 cup coarsely chopped broccoli (I steamed mine for just a bit before chopping)
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
2 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tsp dill
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 egg white, lightly beaten
2 tbsp slivered almonds 

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Unroll crescent rolls; separate into 8 triangles.  Arrange triangles, slightly overlapping, in a circle on a baking stone (you could also use a cookie sheet) with a 3-inch opening in the center.  If you would like to see a nice step by step please click here.

2. In a medium bowl, combine chicken, broccoli, cheese, bell pepper, mayo, dill, garlic, salt, and pepper and mix well.

3. Using a ice cream scoop, scoop filling evenly over dough in a continuous circle. Bring points of triangles up over filling and tuck under dough at center to form a ring. The filling will show through the gaps in the points.  Lightly brush dough with egg white; sprinkle with almonds.  Bake 25-30 minutes or until deep golden brown.

I know there is noting new or interesting about using crescent rolls in recipes, but I'm still so in love with them.  I'm on the hunt for more crescent rolls ideas, so if you have them please send them my way!
Recipe courtesy of The Pampered Chef via The Chic Life 

October 12, 2011

2011-12 Life Planner!

On Friday I came home to find this on the doorstep...It's my Erin Condren life planner! The packaging is so special--I wish all companies would make their packages so eye catching.

I ordered this Life Planner after seeing so many people with Erin's life planners, notepads (I have these owl ones at school on my desk), teacher plan books, calling cards, etc. The designs are really cute, but I'd been holding out on making a commitment to specific product until I could figure out what exactly it was that I would love the most.

I knew I would get a lot of use out of the teacher plan book, but I'll be leaving school in December to stay home with Tiny Baby (aka Baby Sullivan), so buying a new plan book for 2 months didn't make sense.

So, because I am always looking for new ways to stay organized and on top of my semi-busy schedule, I decided to buy the life planner. I'm so glad I did cause I already feel a little more in control of my life and that is always a good feeling :)

I also ordered the matching notebooks that coordinate with the planner and slip nicely into the pocket in the back. They included a sample of gift labels too (above)!

Even though I will be the main only person using this planner, I will be keeping track of my schedule, Keith's and in a short while Tiny Baby's schedule too, SO I went with our family name on the cover instead of just mine--since we don't know yet if the baby will be a boy or girl, and subsequently don't know the name.

I like the quotes that pop up every month. The fonts and colors are so fun.

The planner is great for weekly planning, but also has sections for long term planning.

In the weekly planning section there is a space for weekly goals and to do's as well as sections that allow for morning, day and evening scheduling.

Here is that handy pocket for I was telling you about. There is also another pocket on the other side where I'm keeping coupons ( for groceries, baby stuff and the one Erin sent for $10 off my next order) and things. Behind the pocket fold there is a plastic insert zip lock thingy for keeping other items you want to keep handy.

Over the weekend I spent some quality time with my new life planning buddy inputting all the important dates and to do's. I bought some fancy colorful and important looking pens.

It feels so good to be organized.

Now, what should I order with my $10 off coupon?

I'm linking up with Jaimie today for What I'm Loving Wednesday


October 11, 2011

Taco Pasta

It is amazing how much one can accomplish with just one extra day on the weekend. I was able to make it to my 27 week doctor appointment (our baby is healthy, very busy and I'm gaining right on track), the dentist, Target and Trader Joe's. After all that I came home and made a caramelized garlic cheese spread, pumpkin spice cookies with cream cheese frosting and peanut butter banana bread. Whew, I'm exhausted just thinking about it!

This pasta dish lived up to all its "reviews" on Fake Ginger and The Girl Who Ate Everything, we give it our seal of approval too. Really, I think the secret ingredient that makes this so delish is the cream cheese.
Taco Pasta 
For a printer-friendly version click here.

1 pound ground beef or turkey
8-12 ounces medium pasta shells or other small dry pasta shapes
1 small onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes with mild green chilies, drained
1 packet (4 tablespoons) taco seasoning (I used HOT, but next time I would tone down the spice)
3 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Salt and pepper

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook pasta according to the package directions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water. Set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet or sauté pan, cook the ground meat over medium-high heat until no longer pink. A few minutes before the meat is cooked through, add the chopped onion to the skillet. Once the meat is cooked through, mix in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add in the diced tomatoes and taco seasoning and let simmer over medium heat for about 3-5 minutes.

Stir in the cooked pasta, cream cheese, sour cream and reserved pasta water, and continue stirring until the cream cheese is melted and the sauce is well blended. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer over medium-low heat 3-5 minutes to reduce the sauce a bit if it is still too thin.

Toss in the cilantro right before serving for some fresh color and flavor. Serve with a green salad.

I'm linking up with 33 Shades of Green today for Tasty Tuesdays, so please pop on over there and see what delicious and delectable things everyone else has shared. I'm also linking up with Lady Behind the Curtain for Cast Party Wednesdays, so please make sure to visit that party too!
Cast Party Wednesday

Recipe courtesy of: Fake Ginger via  The Girl Who Ate Everything

October 10, 2011

Menu Monday 10/10

Three day weekends are so nice! I'm off work today, but I still have so much to do between my 6 month visit with our doctor, a visit to my dentist, grocery shopping and class tonight. Even though today will still be a pretty busy day, I'm thankful for the extra day to get everything done before the work week starts tomorrow. Here is what's on our menu this week:
Clockwise from top left:

Chicken Broccoli Ring (Pampered Chef via The Chic Life)- I've made the turkey cranberry braid once before and we really liked it so I'm going to give this filling a try a this week.

Smoked Turkey Club Panini (Mel's Kitchen Cafe)- Don't these look nice? We don't own a panini maker, so I'm going to use the foreman grill...we'll see how it all turns out.  

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Sandwiches (Meet the Sullivans)- I made this two weeks ago and it was so simple and good that I'm going to make it again this week. Can't mess with perfection!

Caramelized Garlic Cheese Spread (Keeping Up with the Joneses)- I made this cheese spread four times last Fall (it was a hit each time!). I'm going to make it today to bring to work tomorrow.

Have a great Monday!

October 9, 2011

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

Honestly, I'm not even sure if I can justifiably call this a "recipe" because it's ingredients list only includes barbecue sauce, chicken and dinner rolls, but we liked it and IT WAS SO EASY, so easy in fact that I am not even going to include a printer-friendly version for you because I know you're all smart enough to remember it on your own. It's making a repeat appearance again this week on our menu, which rarely ever happens --that's how much we liked it.
 Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs
1/2 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 bottle of Jack Daniel's barbecue sauce (or whatever your favorite BBQ sauce is)
Hawaiian sweet rolls or dinner rolls for serving

Place frozen chicken breasts and thighs in the slow cooker. Cover the chicken with barbecue sauce using almost the entire bottle. I left a little in the bottle to mix in with the chicken after it had cooked so it would be really moist. Cook on low for about 8 hours or on high for about 4. When I came home from work it was all done. I transferred the chicken to a bowl, added a little extra barbecue sauce and used two forks to pull the chicken apart. It pulled apart really easily. 

Serve on rolls with a side salad, or carrots or sweet potato fries, or whatever you like! Enjoy :)

October 5, 2011

What I'm Loving Wednesday

Happy Hump Day! Only 3 days until the weekend. Think we can make it?

I'm linking up today with Little Daisy May for What I'm Loving Wednesday.

I'm loving my friends and their adorable little dudes...

Over the weekend my friend Nicole (on the right) flew out to California with her little almost 5-month-old guy Dean (on the left). Nikki and I have been friends since the fourth grade and this was the first time I was able to meet Dean, so you can imagine how special it was! A bunch of our other friends were there too. Also pictured are my friend Allison (on the left) and her son Noah (being held by Nikki). Noah and Dean were due on the same day, but like most babies, they had plans of their own and were born 3 days apart. I'm happy to say we get to see Allison & Noah often, but I really wish we could see Nikki & Dean just as often. 

I'm loving Mikey Mouse shaped pumpkin waffles...

We picked up some Williams-Sonoma Spiced Pecan Pumpkin waffle mix on Saturday night and whipped up some waffles Sunday morning. This mix is the bomb. I really love the Trader Joe's Pumpkin Pancake mix, which we've had many times before, but I decided to give this one a try and I'm so glad we did. There are candied pecan pieces in the mix---delightful to say the least! I wish I could make them every morning!
I'm loving this Erin Condren Life Planner...

I ordered mine (with the same cover design, but in the pinks--and with family's name of course) last week and I'm just dying to receive it in the mail. I love all things organization and I'm really looking forward to inputting dates and making lists. I use my Google calendar, which is linked to my iPhone and to my friends' calendars (so we coordinate get togethers, etc), but this Life Planner will help me stay on top of daily to do's as well as long term goals.

I'm loving my husband... 

Duh, right? Of course I love him, but for the past two Monday's he's been absolutely amazing. Last Monday I came home from work to find that he had assembled the baby's crib and changing while I was gone (he has Mondays off)! Later in the week I washed the bedding (Pottery Barn's Peter Rabbit Nursery Bedding) and put it in the crib. Then this Monday I came home to find that he had sanded and painted the dresser too! He's on a roll! Isn't he great? Baby Sullivan and I are so lucky to have him as our Dad and hubby. I plan on having the nursery finished sometime in November and I'll show you the rest then.

I hope you're having a wonderful Wednesday!

October 4, 2011

Slow Cooker Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

I'm loving Pinterest. I found this recipe on there last week and thought it looked really great--slow cooker recipes usually taste great, but don't always look too "beautiful". I put it together Sunday morning before I got ready for my friend's bridal shower. I was so thankful to come home after all that fun and have dinner all set and ready to go. I'm really happy with the way it turned out! 
Slow Cooker Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup 
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4 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 package of Rice-a-Roni long grain and wild rice
1/2 tsp salt (plus more to taste)
1/2 tsp pepper
3/4 cup all purpose flour (I used whole wheat)
1/2 cup butter
2 cups half and half (I used fat-free half and half)
1 cup grated carrots (I chopped up some baby carrots)
1 cup diced celery

Combine broth, water, carrots, celery, chicken and rice (along with seasoning packet) in a large slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4 hours. Take out chicken and shred with two forks and then add back into slow cooker. In a small bowl combine salt, pepper, and flour. In medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in flour mixture by tablespoon to form a roux. Whisk in cream, a little at a time, until fully incorporated and smooth. Stir cream mixture into slow cooker and then let cook on low for 15 more minutes.

I served this with sourdough french bread. It was a great thick and creamy stew like soup. If you like your food to have a little "kick" you could add a dash or two of chili powder--even though it has plenty of flavor, a spiciness might be fun!

Recipe courtesy of 365daysofcrockpot via Chef Mommy.

October 2, 2011

Quick Creole Shrimp

Keith loved this Kraft recipe. The spiciness was right up his alley, but it was a little too much for me--I'm kind of wimpy with spicy food. 
Quick Creole Shrimp 
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1 lb. frozen uncooked cleaned large shrimp, thawed (I used fresh pre-cooked shrimp)
1 Tbsp.  Cajun seasoning
1/4 cup KRAFT Zesty Italian Dressing
2 cloves  garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1. TOSS shrimp with seasoning.
2. HEAT medium skillet on medium-high heat. Add dressing and garlic; cook and stir 1 min.
3. STIR in shrimp; cook 2 to 3 min. or until done. Top with parsley

Kraft recommends serving the shrimp with brown rice and peas. I served it with basmati rice and edamame beans and we thought it went together quite nicely!