Thursday, January 10, 2013

Pepperoni Lasagna Roll-Ups

When you feel up to letting the kids help prepare dinner, then this is a good recipe to do! The girls have so much fun putting this together and love eating it just as much. I had some leftover lasagna noodles one time and tried this recipe from Taste of Home. I'm glad that I did!

  • 6 lasagna noodles
  • 1-1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 tsp. teaspoon minced chives
  • 1 tsp. teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. teaspoon dried basil
  • 48 slices pepperoni
  • 4 slices Swiss cheese, cut into thirds
  • 2 cups meatless spaghetti sauce
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

  • Cook noodles according to package directions; drain. Combine the ricotta cheese, chives, oregano and basil; spread 1/2 cup over each noodle to within 1/2 in. of edges. Top with pepperoni and Swiss cheese; carefully roll up.
  • Place seam side down in a greased shallow 1-qt. baking dish; top with spaghetti sauce. Cover and bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly.
  • Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Yield: 6 servings.

Chicken Potpie

There are a couple different reasons why I like this recipe:
- it is budget friendly
- it freezes well, so I can make two and save one for the next month
- I can make just this for dinner with maybe some bread and it is a well balanced meal
- Nathan and the girls (for the most part) like it.


  • 3 medium carrots, sliced
  • 2 medium red potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 medium turnip, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup butter, cubed
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups cubed cooked chicken
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 jar (4-1/2 ounces) sliced mushrooms, drained
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • Pastry for single-crust pie (9 inches)

  • Place the carrots, potatoes and turnip in a large saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and cook for 10-15 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
  • Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in flour until smooth. Gradually add the broth, thyme, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until slightly thickened.
  • Drain vegetables and place in a large bowl; stir in the white sauce, chicken, peas, mushrooms and onions. Transfer to a greased 2-qt. round baking dish.
  • Place pastry over filling; trim, seal and flute edges. Cut slits in top. Cover and freeze for up to 3 months or bake at 375° for 25-30 minutes or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly.
  • To use frozen potpie: Remove from the freezer 30 minutes before baking. Cover edges of crust loosely with foil; place on a baking sheet.
  • Bake at 425° for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 375°; remove foil. Bake 55-60 minutes longer or until golden brown. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting. Yield: 4 servings.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

I got this recipe from my mother-in-law. She loves to make soups during the winter and this is one of my favorites that she makes. I like to make it and eat the leftovers. Nathan likes to take it to work during the winter. You can make it more spicy by adding jalapenos or more rotel chilis. You can add black beans, etc. The next time I make it, I may try adding some additional ingredients but it is still good as is!

  • 2 cans cream of celery
  • 2 can enchillada sauce (mild)
  • 2 can refried beans
  • 2 cans rotel chils (small ones)
  • 1 fat can diced tomatoes 
  • 1 big can of corn
  • Montary Jack cheese
  • cut chicken pieces (white and dark meat) big pack
  • tortilla chips
  1. Boil chicken until cooked all the way through and cut up into small pieces.
  2. Pour out about half of the chicken water into another pot. (in case you need to add some if the soup is too thick)
  3. Dump all the ingredients into the pot of water with half the water and let simmer about 20-30 minutes.
  4. Add cheese on top to serve and serve with tortilla chips 

Banana Nut Bread

I got this recipe from my mom. It turns out yummy and moist every time! Nathan and Lydia prefer it without nuts, but the rest of us like it with the nuts. We like it served warm for breakfast. It is a great way to make use of those browned bananas.

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1-1/2 cups of flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup nuts (optional)
  • 3 mashed bananas
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs.
  2. In a bowl, mix together baking powder, baking soda, flour and salt. Add dry ingredients to the creamed mixture and blend.
  3. Add bananas and nuts and stir.
  4. Pour into greased loaf pan.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, then put foil on top for at least ten more minutes. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Herb & Cheese Stuffed Burgers

We love to grill out and Nathan especially likes a good burger. I usually make a simple homemade burger, but he also loves it when I make these burgers for something different. I got the recipe from Taste of Home and adapted it a little bit. The girls will eat this too!

  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese, softened
  • 2 Tbsp. cream cheese, softened
  • 2 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley 
  • 3 tsp. Dijon mustard, divided
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 Tbsp. dry bread crumbs
  • 2 Tbsp. ketchup
  • 1/2 salt
  • 1/2 tsp. dried rosemary, crushed
  • 1/4 tsp. dried sage leaves
  • 1 lb ground beef 
  • 4 hamburger buns, lettuce leaves and tomato slices are optional
  1. In a small bowl, combine cheddar cheese, cream cheese, parsley and 1 tsp. mustard; set aside.
  2. In another bowl, combine the onions, bread crumbs, ketchup, salt, rosemary, sage and remaining mustard. 
  3. Crumble beef over mixture and mix well. Shape into eight thin patties.
  4. Spoon cheese mixture onto center of four patties; top with remaining patties and press edges firmly to seal.
  5. Grill burgers, covered, over medium heat or broil 4 in. from heat for 5-7 minutes on each side or until a meat thermometer reads 160 degrees and juices run clear. Serve burgers on rolls with lettuce and tomato if desired. Yield: 4 servings.

Strawberry-Bacon Spinach Salad

My mom made this salad one time when our family got together and it was a big hit. She got it from a Taste of Home magazine. I had to get the recipe! The homemade dressing is what makes it so good!


  • 1 package (6 oz.) fresh baby spinach
  • 1 pint fresh strawberries, sliced
  • 8 bacon strips, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup raspberry vinegar

In a salad bowl, combine the spinach, strawberries, bacon, onion and walnuts. In a small bowl or pitcher, combine the mayonnaise, sugar and vinegar. Serve with salad. Yield: 6-8 servings

Tuna Stroganoff

This is a simple, low-budget, kid-pleasing dish. It is not the healthiest meal in the world but we like to fix it every once in awhile mainly because all the girls like it and it is good too! The girls don't really eat tuna fish by itself or on a sandwich but they don't mind it in this recipe. Two of the girls will eat the mushrooms in it and two won't, along with Nathan. I think it's better with the mushrooms so I still put them in there. I usually double this recipe. You can also substitute the tuna for ground beef. They love it whenever I make it!

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • dash of pepper
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 can (7 oz ) tuna, drained and flaked
  • 1 can  ( 4 oz. ) mushrooms, drained
  • hot cooked noodles or rice
  • fresh parsley (optional)

Melt butter in skillet; saute onion until tender. Combine soup, sour cream, garlic powder and pepper; add to onion. Add tuna and mushrooms; heat through. Serve tuna stroganoff over hot cooked noodles or rice. Add fresh snipped parsley if you want. Our favorite way to eat this is to mix egg noodles in with the tuna yummy! I got this recipe form the book,  "Beyond Mac and Cheese."

Baked Ziti with Sausage

This baked ziti is a great recipe for parties, potlucks and holidays, because it feeds a crowd. If you are looking for something that is kid-friendly, then this is a great recipe for that too. When I make this, I don't have to worry about any wining girls and most of the time, Natalee and Lydia are asking for seconds!  Although, this recipe  calls for mild Italian sausage, feel free to use hot sausage if you like spicy food. This recipe was taken from


  • 16 oz. ziti pasta
  • 8 oz. mild Italian sausage, casing removed, choppped
  • 4 cups spaghetti sauce, divided
  • 1-1/2 cups cottage cheese
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions for "al dente." Drain.
  3. Brown sausage. Drain. Mix with 3 cups of the spaghetti sauce, the cottage cheese, mozzarella cheese and italian seasoning.
  4. Spread the remaining 1 cup f the spaghetti sauce in a 9 x 13 pan. Top with half of the ziti. Top with half of the sausage mixture. Top with remaining ziti and remaining sausage mixture. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese over top.
  5. Cover and bake 20 minutes. Remove cover, and bake another 20-35 minutes until golden brown and bubbly.
  6. Let baked ziti rest 10 minutes before serving. 

**Make ahead directions: Follow recipe through step 4. Cover tightly with foil, and freeze. A day before you're ready to serve, thaw completely in the fridge overnight. Bake according to recipe directions. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Baked Parmesan Tilapia

This is a dish that I especially like to make during the spring/summer. However, lately I have been making it during the winter also because the kids love it! This is one of Lydia's favorite meals! She does dip the fish in ketchup, but at least she eats the fish!

This is a recipe that I modified from a Taste of Home magazine.

2lb (6-8) tilapia fillets
1/2 cup breadcrumbs or crushed Ritz crackers
1/2 cup grated or shredded parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons of italian seasoning
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
garlic powder
olive oil

Thaw the fish and pat dry on paper towels. Combine the breadcrumbs, cheese, italian seasoning and garlic powder onto one plate.

On another plate, pour 1 tbsp of lemon juice.

Doing one at a time, place a fillet in the lemon juice, sprinkle with desired amount of kosher salt, black pepper, and garlic powder.

Dredge the fillet in the crumbs mixture patting it all over to coat all sides.
Put the olive oil in the baking dish and place the filets on top.
Sprinkle a little lemon juice over the fillets and drizzle or spray them lightly with olive oil.

Bake at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes. When the filets easily flake with a fork and the edges are browning then they are done.

We like to eat this dish with some french fries and green beans.

New Year's Eve and New Years Day

We tried to keep activities "low key" on New Year's Ever since we had been so busy over
Christmas break. Usually we go to a party or have someone over but it
just sounded like to much work this year so we decided to hang out
at home, which was nice:) We did go to the Y in the morning then 
came home and played. Luke came and picked up Natalee and Lydia to
go with him to get his haircut while Juls, Alyssia and daddy took a nap:)

Then we had tacos and ice-cream/oreos with the girls.  

Julianna practiced her ABC tracing and was so proud:)

After dinner it was a short movie and bed.

Nathan and I stayed up and went over some goals for this year.
We looked at our calendar and talked about what was happening
during the next couple months. It was really good to spend that time 
together! We stayed up until midnight, drank some sparkling juice
then went to bed!

New Years Day we spent some time at both of our parents house.
Then, prepared for the rest of the week with school starting back. 

Sunday, December 30th

We stayed home from church and let the girls sleep in, which was much needed. We read a story from their new Children's Bible.  The girls made a fort and played "puppies" while Nathan and I tried cleaning up the house....ha ha:)

* Nathan went and had lunch with Grant Mora, since he was in town cleaning up their house. He had fun catching up with him and the other guys there. He was sad though to say good bye to Grant for the final time.

* We spent the afternoon doing some reading and some review papers to get ready for school. Nathan came home and played on the trampoline with the girls!

* Kimmy and Sergio came over and hung out for a little while then said good bye to the the girls and us. They were heading back to Florida the next morning. It's always sad to say good bye:(

* It was cold outside so we stayed in and watched a movie with the girls until bedtime!

Saturday, December 29th

 We got the two little girls ready and woke the two big girls up at 10:00 to leave for Maryland. We were traveling to celebrate Grandaddy's 80th birthday. Bekah rode with us and helped entertain the girls:) It was a long ride but we made it!

* At the party we ate, watched a slideshow of his life, gave him a scrapbook that was filled with pages from all of us and hung out with family. It was good to see Grandaddy so happy!
The girls adore him and I am so thankful that we were able to be there with him to celebrate his special birthday.

                                  Bekah likes to get a picture of the 8 kids anytime we are all together!

* The ride home was even longer with the girls since the two little ones were tired but weren't going to sleep. We stopped at Dunkin Donuts and that helped for a little while:) We made it home though, did baths and put the girls to bed....then we went to bed!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Friday, December 28th

* Me and the girls went to the Y. I ran the trail and had a good run! Nathan went hunting for the day at a hunt club with a guy from work/church.

* Kimmy and Sergio came to pick up Natalee and Lydia and take them to Christmas Town with my mom and dad, Luke, Tori, Liz and Bekah. They felt special being able to go by themselves and had so much fun!

* I made a meal for Laura Poole. Me, Juls and Alyssia went to deliver the meal ( and saw sweet baby Olivia) , did a quick Coscto run then stopped by Chic-fil-a. Julianna had been promised to go to Chic-fil-a to play on the playground and get ice-cream (her favorite thing in the world to do:)

* The girls didn't get home until 10:30 and couldn't stop talking about all of the fun they had! Natalee rode her first roller coaster and Lydia went on DiVinchi's cradle! So they didn't get to sleep til after 11:00.

*  Nathan fell asleep by 9:00 and I finished getting ready for our trip to Maryland the next day.

Thursday, December 27th

* All the girls slept in until 9:00, which was a mericle! Kimmy and Sergio got lucky since they were sleeping downstairs and didn't have to get woken up early. We had a big breakfast and started to get ready for the day. 

* I went on a run while the girls played at the house with everyone. Nathan went in the woods for a couple hours in the afternoon with his brother and dad.

* Then we packed up and headed to Norfolk and Virginia Beach. We had dinner at Grandma Dot's house with our family then headed to Virginia Beach for dessert at Grandma O'Brien's house. We had not been to Grandma O'Brien's new condo so we got the tour of her lovely place and celebrated her engagement to Jerry. A wedding should be soon to come! Here are some pictures from our visit..

Wednesday, December 26th

* Nathan woke up early to go hunting and was back by 10:00. It was a rainy day so it ended up being a good day to stay inside and play with the new gifts.

* I took off with all my sisters, minus Bekah, to the movie theater to go see Les Miserables! Me, Liz and Tori liked it but my mom, Courtney and Kimberly didn't like it as much. Liz and I had read the book and I had seen it on broadway so we had an appreciation for the whole story and got into the movie. However, the other half did not and said they would never see it again. It was an interesting discussion afterwards:) We had fun though!

* We got back and all the guys- Nathan, my dad, Blake, Luke, Landon and all the Pittman's went to play basketball in Poquoson. Thank goodness there were no injuries!

* While the guys were playing basketball, all the girls ( and Will and Reese) came over to our house to hang out. We played games, made cookies, painted nails, and watched the kids do the Wii dance.

Juliet and Alyssia playing together:)

* Kimmy and Sergio spent the night at our house. After the girls had baths they stayed up for a little while spending time with Kimmy and Sergio and doing a puzzle with daddy. The girls went to bed and we stayed up talking with them:)

Christmas Day

* The girls slept until almost 8:00. They were content watching a show on the computer in bed while we took a shower and got dressed. Then we all headed downstairs to open gifts.

This year instead of buying the girls a ton of gifts, we decided to get them each 3 gifts. We explained that we wanted to focus more on the "giving" at Christmas and wanted them to be a part of giving to someone else and use our money towards others instead of on ourselves. Natalee and Lydia understood and were excited about picking out gifts for someone else. We decided that we would buy gifts to give to the inner city kids in New York ( where our youth group was going on a trip).  So the girls made a list of what they wanted to buy. We headed to the store and picked out all the things on their lists plus some practical items:)

We set aside an afternoon and went to pick out the gifts. We bought three backpacks to put all the things inside of and gave away the backpacks. It was amazing to see how well they understood this process and how anxious they were to give the things away. I was so proud of them! I wish I had taken pictures, but next time I will!

Christmas gifts
  •  Natalee and Lydia- cowgirl comforter, gymnastics outfit and a new Bible with cover.
  • Julianna- rapunzel doll with horse, bathing suit (for swim lessons) and a Bible storybook
  • Alyssia- a miniature minnie mouse chair, a new book and some bows                                            In each of their stockings they got some stamp pads, stamps and tootsie rolls

* After we opened the gifts, we sat down to a nice breakfast that I had prepared the night before.(it was not easy staying up the night before to prepare for the morning but it was so worth it the next morning!) We had french toast sticks, turkey bacon, homemade banana bread, cut up fruit and orange juice.

* At breakfast Nathan read the girls the story of Jesus' birth from the Jesus Storybook Bible. They were just as excited about eating a big breakfast together and reading a story as they were about opening presents. Nathan and I both realized that they just want to spend time with us. The presents are nice but they eventually get tired of them or the "newness" wears off. Our family is what really matters to them!
It was so nice to not have to rush on Christmas morning. Alyssia went down for a nap around 11:00 and we finished getting ready.

* We headed to Nana and Papa's after Alyssia's nap. We exchanged gifts and ate a big Christmas lunch together. We had told them also that we didn't want the girls to get a lot of gifts this year. So, they had scaled down on the gifts which was very nice! In years past the girls have gotten overwhelmed with gifts. They still got plenty of gifts this year between all the great grandparents, aunts and uncles, etc. But, it was better then it has been!

* After lunch we all took part in Josh's proposal to Jenna! Long story short, me and Natasha asked Jenna to go for a walk on the trail. When we got to the end of the trail, Josh was there waiting with a lighted path and candles. He proposed, she said yes and we were all so happy for them! Wedding is coming on 5/31/13.

* We headed back to Tim and Karl's for hot chocolate and egg nog and to watch the proposal video.

* Then it was back home to put the girls to bed and put everything away. It was a long day but good!

God is so good!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Monday, December 24th- Christmas Eve

* Nathan went to get the part for the heater and fixed it!

* Then he finished painting the girls room!( for Christmas they are getting cowgirl comforters so we wanted to re-do their rooms.

* Me and the girls spent the morning making Christmas cards and caramel popcorn.

* Our neighbors, Mr. Wilur and Mrs. Iris came over to give the girls each a necklace for Christmas and we gave them a handmade picture frame and some baked goodies. They told us that they see the girls as their own grandkids....we are blessed to have them as our neighbors!

* Kimmy and Sergio picked up Natalee, Lydia and Juls to go to the Christmas Eve service at Liberty. We met them afterwards at my mom and dads for dinner.

* Christmas Eve dinner at mom and dad's with all my brothers and sisters...what a crowd! Andrea was sick so we missed her!

* Person gift exchanging! We had Juliet and gave her playdough with all the tools. The girls had Tori and gave her a nice scarf, earrings and her favorite gum. Luke had the girls and spoiled them....the movie, Brave, playdough, slippers and socks, glow in the dark stars and gum. All the kids gave mom and dad a photo book from our family beach trip. Mom and dad gave all the couples a gift card to the Marriott (with free babysitting) !!!

* Mom and dad converted all our childhood vhs movies into dvd's for us. We watched just one of them and reminisced about growing up and laughed at what we used to wear:)

* It was a late night getting the girls in bed but we were hoping they would sleep in:)

* We set out the gifts under the tree and got everything prepared for going over to Nana and Papa's for the afternoon the next day. Got in bed!

Sunday, December 23rd

Nathan woke up at 3:30 in the morning to find out that the heat had stopped working. He stayed up for a couple hours trying to figure out the problem and heat the house up with the kerosene heater.

7:00-9:30- showered and got ready for church, breakfast, got the girls dressed and hair done and headed out the door for church.

* Pastor Mark reminded us to keep our focus on Jesus as the center of Christmas,  girls had "happy birthday Jesus" parties in their classes. We took some family pictures after church.

* Lunch at Tim and Karla's with all the Jone's side of the family and Mamaw Jones. It was a big crowd but it was good seeing everyone!

Natalee and Lydia with Mamaw Jones

* After the party, we left all 4 girls at their house while Nathan and I went out on a date with Emily and Andrew Johansson. We met at Olive Garden and had so much fun with them! It was some much needed catching up time with them!

* We picked up the girls, came home, put the girls to bed, wrapped our last 2 gifts, cleaned up and went to bed:) ( We had borrowed a portable heater for the upstairs and it wasn't too bad outside so we were able to sleep just fine with the heater. That was a blessing!)

Saturday, December 22nd

* Nathan spent his first morning off getting up at 4:00 in the morning to go hunting. I still don't understand this but I have just decided that I don't need to understand but just let him do it:) So, I slept until 7:30 then took the girls to the Y,  met Courtney and Dad at the trail, and went for a run! We are training for our half marathon in March. It was freezing and cold but we survived and it felt good afterwards. ( I guess Nathan doesn't really understand why I would want to go run in the cold either, but that's beside the point:)
* Kimmy and Sergio had just arrived in town so they came over for lunch and spent the afternoon with us playing games and hanging out. The girls loved spending time with them!

* Nathan got home and the girls played the Wii with him while I prepared for church the next morning. All the girls were wearing their Christmas dresses!
* Bath, Story time, Bed
* laundry.....and more laundry.....and saved some for the next day:)