Pioneer Woman Meatloaf

I adore meatloaf. It’s easy. It’s filling. Prep time is practically zero. You can sneak in as many veggies as you want. Plonk (wow, spellcheck didn’t even ding me on that) it in the oven and let her go. I’ve made meatloaf before on this blog, but there are so many variations that I thought it was time to do it again. If you have never visited the Pioneer Woman’s blog before, you should. She has everything from recipes to homeschooling to photography tips. And apparently she is getting her own Food Network show too!

Ree Drummond’s, aka the Pioneer Woman, meatloaf.

Ingredients: (I halved this recipe)

  • 1 cup Whole Milk
  • 6 slices White Bread  Note: will omit next time
  • 2 pounds Ground Beef
  • 1 cup (heaping) Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • ¼ teaspoons Seasoned Salt
  • ¾ teaspoons Salt
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • ⅓ cups Minced Flat-leaf Parsley
  • 4 whole Eggs Beaten
  • 10 slices Thin/regular Bacon

Sauce:

  • 1-½ cup Ketchup
  • ⅓ cups Brown Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Dry Mustard
  • Tabasco To Taste

toss it in a bowl and mix it up

As with most meatloaves, you just toss everything in a bowl and mix it up. See? Easy!

bacon on top

Now, Ree put her meatloaf on a broiler pan and wrapped the bacon around the loaf. I don’t have a broiler pan so I just stuck it in my meatloaf pan and cut the pieces of bacon to fit.

finished saucy goodness

All done! I didn’t even have to re-sauce halfway through. Now, this meatloaf was delicious, but it wasn’t perfection and that was probably something I did. I will skip the bread next time. Dear husband does not like soggy bread and that’s really all that happened to the bread for us. Secondly, the bacon was a little chewier than I expected. I wasn’t convinced it was done, but I’m suuuper paranoid about my meatloaf being not done for some reason. The parmesan cheese was the real secret ingredient for me. The flavor came through. The meatloaf was really flavorful.

However, my still all-time favorite is easy. Meat, some plain breadcrumbs, barbecue sauce, and shredded cheddar cheese.  Toss it in the bowl and mix everything together but the cheese. Place half the mixture into a meatloaf pan and put the cheese in the middle. Then put the rest of the meat mixture on top. Make your own ketchup, brown sugar, dry mustard sauce for the top. It’s like a bacon cheeseburger and it’s fantastic! :)

DIY Kids Artwork Display

This is going to be quick and easy! If you have kids, they usually come home with artwork at least once or twice a week. I save some things, but if I saved everything, someone would turn me over to that hoarding show on TLC. Abby-bug gets her feelings hurt when she sees stuff in the trash, but I’ve come up with a way to display the new things for a little while before they head to the farm. It might not be for everyone, but I like it :)

Supplies:

Twine or fishing line

Clothespins–glue and craft paper

Artwork

Command hooks

Put the command hooks onto the wall, attach the twine and hang up the artwork! See? Easy peasy :) If you want to decorate your clothespins like mine, go here.

voila

You can dress this up even more if you like; I just happened to have these hooks already :)

these are so cute

Then you can take a picture of the artwork before you throw it away and keep a digital copy :)

Happy Easter! Food edition.

I realize that most serious bloggers have their holiday posts up like a month early. Let’s just say I’m not as serious as I’d like ;) BUT, you can bookmark me if you see something you like for next year, or check out my pin boards at Pinterest, aka something else new and fabulous that keeps me up at night. Think visual bookmarks. It’s grand. But NOT as grand as our Lord and Savior Jesus whose resurrection we celebrate each year some time in March or April :) Here and here  are some things we did last year.

Let’s get to the food shall we?!

Chocolate Peep’s Nests

chocolate birds nest

peeps nests

Just make chocolate krispie treats and put them in a greased muffin tin and then smoosh down the middle with a shot glass or small cup.

peep peep!

I’m not even sure why my Peeps look radioactive, but they surely do. I bought the little robin egg Whoppers and then plopped a Peep on them! :) Cute and easy peasy. Next year I want to make these though: Lemonade Krispie Bird and Nest, cause ya’ll know I love citrus right?

French Vanilla Strawberry-filled Chick Cupcakes

cupcakes with filling

making a hole

I got the original recipe here. I substituted strawberries for raspberries because Abby wanted strawberries ;) I think the raspberries probably break down better though. I ended up with large chunks of strawberries. This probably could have been a non-issue though had I chopped the strawberries up beforehand :)

icing cupcakes

filled and ready for icing

These pictures are turrible. But you know what? It was like 11 o’clock at night so not only was it dark, but I was also too lazy to get the good camera out (not that it would’ve helped much). I really liked this buttercream. Although I did my own thing toward the end up with sugar and heavy cream. I like the idea of adding heavy cream. I don’t really like icing to begin with, but the cream (to me) was a good way to get a good consistency and add creaminess at the same time.

Easter chick cupcakes

cute and delicious

Finite! (that’s finished in some other language, not fie-night, as it appears) I like them a lot. Dye coconut with some food coloring. The eyes are mini M&Ms and the mouths are Starbursts. They’re not as orange as I would’ve hoped. The original poster used “fruit chews” of some kind that seem more orange-y.

Anywho. That’s my Easter food. Actually, I lie. We’ll also be making Resurrection Rolls and Resurrection Cookies. There are many different versions of both of these all over the internet. Some of the rolls are made with biscuits, some with crescent rolls. I’m going to use whatever is cheapest. I lie again, I already bought crescent rolls, whoops! We had them at MOPS and they’re delicious. I’ll update and do pictures after we make them! :)
Speaking of MOPS, if you are a mommy with young children check them out here to find a group near you :))

And once we get the crafting part done, I’ll post that too. If you check my pin boards you can find the future crafts there!

Giada’s Baked Omelet

Boy  I sure hope I haven’t posted this before. And if I have, it just shows you how much I love this recipe. It’s my go-to, easy peasy, whip-it-together, weeknight dinner. Do you have eggs? Milk? Onions? Cheese? Some meat? Then you have dinner.

Delish.

Ingredients:

  • Butter, for greasing baking dish
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1/2 pound mild turkey sausage, casings removed
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups (4 ounces) grated Gruyere cheese
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Actually, don’t even look at the ingredients. Think of whatever you’d like in omelet, or better yet, whatever happens to be in the fridge. Mix it with milk and cheese, toss in an 8×8 casserole dish, and bake! SO EASY. We had one tonight with a yellow pepper, turkey sausage (I bought on sale as ‘just-in-case’ item; handy dandy), onion, and cheddar cheese. I never use Gruyere because a) it’s probably expensive and more importantly b) I can’t ne’er find it ’round heah.

So make this. Seriously, it’s as good as you want it to be! Or as good as what you have on hand. When you’re busy and mouths need fed, feed them with lots of yummy protein! And veggies if you’ve got ’em :)

Sites that Keep me up at Night

It’s been awhile. I’m so sporadic these days, about everything. It’s a bit ridiculous. I know that my life will once again settle down eventually some day upon a time when my little almost four-month-old (what’s the rule about hyphens? I <3 grammar) is not a wee one anymore. I am trying to enjoy both the fairies together and individually because time is precious and life is short and I’m pretty sure we’re done in the baby-making (I <3 hyphens, only when used correctly and I never know when that is) department. Unless of course, God does something radical. So that means less baking (I miss it SO. And coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.) and less fun cooking adventures. For now. BUT, I do have time to spark my inspiration during those late nights when I can’t sleep because I just got off work or I’m going to work or I’m waiting to feed the tiny one (she ain’t tiny. she should be nicknamed Bruiser. Or Hoss.) and I wanted to share with you the current sites I’m crushing on and some of my favorite posts.

Bakerella I’ve mentioned her before. She is the cake pop queen. All of her posts on cake pops are great and these are what I’ve currently got my on specifically.

Spring pops

Easter pop heaven

Easter dos

i am baker This woman’s cakes are UH-mazing. I mean, that’s all there is to say about them. I have my eye on several, but they would be very time-consuming (hyphenage! made-up-word alert). For me anyway :) I’m obsessed with her cakes. And she also has some beautiful cookies. I have lots o’ bookmarks with her name on them.

Faith Cake I think she is kind of ‘known’ for having surprises in her cakes. I’m in love. And awe. I think this would be a neat baby shower cake if you made the inside pink or blue. Also a neat way to announce the sex?

Christmas Cake

Shamrock Cake

Halloween Cake

4th of July Cake

Chocolate Covered Cherry Cake This, to me, is like the Mt. Everest of cakes. Oh my.

Vertical Layer Cake I will make this. When I have a dozen or so free hours.

Baby Shower Cookies

Courier Cookies

Ok, that’s enough. I’m truly obsessed. Two more.

Sugar Cookies #1

Sugar Cookies #2

This website really does keep me up at night. Truly.

Baked With Love and Butter A great site with sweet and savory recipes. Two that I’m going to be giving a whirl:

Cheddar Jalapeno Cornbread Muffins Perfect for MOPS.

Poprocks Cake Pops As stated, previously these will be fun for the 4th!

Cheeky Kitchen Perfect website for easy desserts and dinners.

Pizza dough Quick and homemade. I made the veggie calzones once, but no one liked them :( They just don’t dig veggies. Also, I add about a half less olive oil than the recipe calls for and less salt too. I add oregano and basil.

Chinese Chicken paired with Chinese Noodles One of my favorite dinners. A bit involved on the chicken part, but its certainly a crowd pleaser. You just can’t go wrong with Ramen.

Cookie Log I was really obsessed with these for a while last year and even made an Easter version.

The Pioneer Woman This website has recipes, confessions, homeschooling, photography, and even home and garden. It’s my one stop shop. I haven’t gotten too into any of her recipes yet, but there are a lot of things on my list :) I did make this:

Meatloaf I love meatloaf. It’s super easy (throw some meat & junk in a bowl and stick it in the oven) and filling and can be as healthy as you like; I’ve been known to put carrots in celery in mine. It was divine. I won’t add the bread next time though. Just not my thing.

The Coffeeshop Blog This is a fantastic resource for all your Photoshop or Photoshop Elements needs. She has a ton of free actions to help make your pictures the very best they can be. She accepts donations :)

lookie what I learned

before

after

before
after #1
after #2

Actions and Pre-sets

Tutorials

Clipping Masks (for storyboards)

That’s all she wrote. I gotta go to work mayne! Let me know what y’all think!

Cake Pops

They’re here, they’re fantastic, and I’m obsessed with them. You see all of cute little variations and think, “Hey! You make cake, roll it, dip it, and voila”! Kind of like patty cake. Roll it and pat it, etc. But no, no, NO. It is NOT that easy. At least for me it wasn’t. It all started with Abby’s fourth birthday. The bumble bees (photo credit Bakerella). Mine did not turn out like Bakerella’s bumble bees. In fact, mine were grounded. Yes, they had wings, but they were stuck in a sad little pan.

what mine looked like

The smiles on their faces were literally painted on. They were sad, trust me. However, cake pops are everywhere and my new goal in life was to make them. So I did my research. I scoured the internet. Food blogs. Dessert blogs. Google. The science of melted chocolate. And finally there was a good reason to make them. I was making dinner for a friend and all good dinners for friends need dessert. Here is what she got :)

meet the gang

There are  few secrets to success. Master these and you’ll go far. Now I realize these are plain jane cake pops, but let me celebrate my small step for mommy-kind, ok? Making buses, basketballs, and bumble bees will no doubt take more practice and a fine tuning of skills, but a good foundation is always crucial.

Make your cake. Let it cool. I made this a two day job. There’s a lot of steps and with two small kids that means a lot of steps spread over a few days. OK, back to the steps. Make the cake. Let it cool. Enlist the help of your four year old to crumble up the cake. Take a deep breath, walk away if you must, but let the kid(s) play in the cake. Give them a big bowl and room to make a mess. Nice, small crumbled cake. Now most how-tos I’ve read say to add a half can of frosting–I’ve found this to be way too much. You don’t want a sticky mixture and most box cakes nowadays are super moist, so I added two heaping spoonfuls of icing and that’s all I needed. The mixture should be moldable, but not sticky. Get rolling! Roll the cake mixture into any shape you’re needing. You can even use small cookie cutters and smush the mix into them to get your desired shape. It gets tedious. Press on. Now, let them cool. I cover mine with plastic wrap and let them hang out overnight. I have a big mess to clean up from kiddo helping and need lots of time to regroup for the next phase.

*overnight chill period*

I half my cake balls so I can work in batches. Start melting your candy melts (ps, I did NOT like the Wilton brand). I do mine on the stove with a pot of simmering water and a glass bowl. I just dont trust the microwave and the stovetop method keeps it nice and melty the whole time. Here is the super secret step that made the world of difference for me: add solid shortening to the chocolate. I was scared. I didn’t want it to taste like shortening, but don’t be scared. I started with a Tbsp and then one more. Your chocolate needs to be fairly runny.  Ok, chocolate melted. Get your sticks ready! Dip the tip of the stick into the chocolate (still in a bowl on the stove) and then into the cake ball. Don’t get crazy, just dip it enough to secure the cake ball (soon becoming a cake POP!) onto the stick. It should look like this afterward.

dipped cake pops

pretty maids all in a row?

I finished a batch and stuck this batch back in the fridge while I worked on the other batch. Switcheroo back to the first batch. Super secret tip number 2: pour the runny chocolate into a deep reservoir (I used a cup)! It makes it tres easy to dip and pull out without incident. Dip the cake pop (good job! its a pop now!) straight down and pull it straight back up. I ended with a little DQ-like swirl on top. If that won’t suit your pop, do a very gentle tap tap tap. I hope you have your styrofoam block ready! Super secret number tip 3: cover your styrofoam with plastic wrap! :) That way you can reuse it if there are any drips! Or jumpers :(

pink cake pops

success! minus the one who just couldn't stand it and threw himself down :(

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat, ad nauseum. Then celebrate. Take pictures. Show your friends. And enjoy :)

pretty inside AND out

ps–flavor wise, go crazy. these were lemon cake and lemon icing. i <3 citrus. so so much.

Here’s a video:

My favorite cake pop links:

Bakerella

Bakerella –Easter bunnies, yes!

Bakerella –pumpkins

Bakerella –baby shower idea

Love and Butter –footballs

Love and Butter –funfetti pop rocks (DEFINITELY making these!)

Love and Butter –apple pops (for your favorite teacher maybe?!)

Three Kids and Us –conversation hearts

I Wear my Heart on my Blog

I totally stole the title from a friend. At least I was honest about stealing it? I don’t suppose it’s too strange that I can be more honest with myself and others in writing than in person. I’m actually a pretty private person for the most part. I don’t like asking for help. I don’t like being ‘that’ girl who is always having a crisis, but it seems like I usually am. I don’t ever really have it ‘together’ for long. I think the past year and a half or two years is the longest I’ve gone without something crazy happening. My streak ended recently. I won’t go into details. I don’t really want to discuss it. I was going to say I don’t want to talk about it, but obviously I want to talk about it, but I don’t want to discuss it. Catch the difference? It’s subtle.

I wouldn’t say it’s a dark time, but it’s certainly cloudy. Big, stormy kind of cloudy. You ever have those days where each breath hurts a little? When your thoughts are a thousand little wrecking balls knocking around inside your head? One of those days where if you take your eyes off God for a second it all just becomes too much? It’s times like this I am keenly aware of why God said we need to renew our mind. To ‘focus on these things.’ To ‘take captive every thought unto the obedience of Christ.’ It’s important. It’s hard. It’s really hard. I wish my brain had an off switch. Like sharks circling for prey, my thoughts circle around the same circumstances. Same conversations. Same unanswered questions. While the Holy Spirit (?) in my mind is running around trying to stamp them out. Take them captive. Replace them with Life.

Replace them with Life. Life. God is sovereign. Replace replace replace. But I want to be mad. I do. I really do. I want to fall apart. I mean honestly, doesn’t it feel good to just give in sometimes?Fighting the devil is hard. That’s why its a fight yo. Replace replace replace. Do not grow weary in doing good. Blessed is the man who endures trials for once he is approved he will receive the crown of life. God really is so wonderful to bring these to my mind. They really do pop in at the right time. And it even says in John that the Holy Spirit will bring these things to remembrance. Another one. Sometimes I feel like if I move…an eyelash away from God’s face I’m going to fall to pieces. That’s why it’s critical to keep the focus on Him. Especially when life gets cloudy. He gives life and brings life and breathes life into my circumstances. He can’t do that if I let the devil set fire to my mind. He just can’t. It’s so crucial to cast down anything that raises itself against the knowledge of God. Critical. It’s not easy. Sometimes it sucks. But you know what? I already feel better. Know what else? I know I’ll go right back to being a hot mess if I don’t continue casting down and fighting the good fight. I don’t think anywhere in the Bible it said that would be easy.

As soon as I go back to life though, Satan slips back in with his matches. His wrecking balls. His lies. His anger. His hurt. His clouds. Oh to live in a God bubble where there is no more fighting. No more casting down. The battle is over and I can rest. Wait, I guess that would be heaven ay?  Reminds me of a Matthew West song. One of my favorites.

There is a longing deep inside my soul.
There is a place my spirit wants to go.
It’s far away from all these chains that bind.
There is a world I long to leave behind.

Just a few more days I’ll be going home.
Just a few more hours and I’ll be flying.
It could be any minute now, that you’ll take me away,
or maybe just a few more days.
A few more days.

To you a day is like a thousand years,
and only You know when the clouds will clear.
So, let me not forget and fall away,
because a thousand years could be today.

I’m trying not to fall away. If I could have my MOG playlist on repeat inside my head I would do better. God gave me a spirit that responds very strongly to music (which is why I must be very careful what I put into my little heart garden) and I’m very thankful for that. When I was a teenager the stuff I listened to was such pure hot garbage. The stuff I was letting into my spirit. Singing and speaking over my life. It’s no wonder my behavior and thought life was pure hot garbage as well. That’s a whole ‘nother blog.

Peace and chicken grease. Don’t grow weary. I won’t if you won’t.