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Makes My Monday: Synchronized Cooking – Virtually

My friend Lori created a Recipes group on FB for those of us who have come to a stalemate with what to make for dinner. She figured we’d all just post recipes to share and have some more cool ideas to run with.

What we didn’t anticipate was the brilliant idea of another member: a Group Cooking Party. Or, Synchronized Cooking. What a cool idea! Everyone does the same recipe on the same night (or weekend, as the case was this time around). Then we all post pictures and describe how it went…and if we changed stuff around and all that.

Even better? Having a neighbor who is doing the same thing and then heading to her house to swap the final results. Especially since she used a different sauce on top than I did. 🙂 (Although, that was also a bit intimidating – she’s a much better cook than I am! LOL!)

The kids didn’t love it. Maggie – my spicy girl – ate a bit…and then turned to the pizza. Burke and Logan ate a bite and turned their noses up at it. All of the adults LOVED it though.

What’d we cook? Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Shells with Creamy Ranch Sauce. I got the ranch sauce from Astrid’s blog except, her’s is a much healthier version ;). (Mel made Blue Cheese Sauce instead). Both were *so good* – but I think I liked the Blue Cheese sauce one a bit better. Although, if I were to do the ranch one again, I’d add more milk or double the recipe or something so that there would be more to put over the top.

Here’s the recipe if you’re interested.

Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Shells with Creamy Ranch Sauce

  • 1 package jumbo shells
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into very small pieces (bite size)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2/3 c hot sauce (I used Frank’s)
  • 1/3 c blue cheese crumbles
  • 1/3 c shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/3 c shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2 c ricotta cheese

For Creamy Ranch Sauce

  • 3 oz cream cheese
  • 1/2 c milk
  • 1/3 c shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 packet ranch dressing seasoning

Preheat oven to 400 F.

  1. Boil a big pot full of water and cook pasta shells according to directions.  Drain and set aside. (You’ll probably end up with a lot more shells than filling, just FYI)
  2. Heat a saute pan over medium heat and add olive oil.  Put the bite sized chicken pieces into the pan and cook until no longer pink in the center.
  3. In a bowl, mix together the hot sauce and cheeses.
  4. Stir cooked chicken into the cheese and hot sauce mixture.
  5. Stuff the shells with the mixture and fill a 9×13″ baking pan with them.
  6. In a small skillet, melt the cream cheese.  Stir in the milk and the shredded Parmesan cheese into the melted cheese, and then stir in the ranch seasoning packet.
  7. Spoon this sauce over the stuffed shells.
  8. Bake the stuffed shells for 20-30 minutes.

Synchronized cooking and sharing the results with a good friend totally Makes My Monday!

Cheryl over at Twinfatuation hosts this one. Head on over to see what else makes people’s Mondays (there are always some really good ones!)

Recipe: Chicken Broccoli Braid

This is one of my most favorite Pampered Chef recipes (this, and the Touch Down Taco Dip…yum!)

It’s also the first meal I made for Mike…and look how that turned out! *grin*

It looks really fancy, but it’s super easy…and really tasty.
(But probably not all that good for you, so don’t make it TOO often!)


  • 2 cups cooked chicken, chopped
  • 1 cup broccoli, chopped
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • 4 oz. (1cup) sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp. dill
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 pkgs. (8oz. each) refrigerated crescent rolls
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten
  • (optional) 2 tbls. slivered almonds (I don’t use this)


  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Mix all ingredients together except the rolls, egg white, and almonds.
  3. Unroll 1 package of crescent dough; do not separate. Arrange longest sides of dough across width of 12″ x 15″ rectangle baking stone. Repeat with remaining package of dough.
  4. Roll dough to seal perforations.
  5. Spread filling evenly over middle of dough.
  6. On longest sides of baking stone, cut dough into strips 1 1/2 inches apart, starting from the filling.
  7. To braid, lift strips of dough across mixture to meet in center, twisting each strip on turn. Continue twisting strips to form a braid. Tuck ends under to seal at end of braid. 

  8. Brush egg white over dough.
  9. Sprinkle with almonds.
  10. Bake 25-28 minutes or until deep golden brown.

Recipe: Crock Pot Corned Beef and Cabbage

With the maiden name O’Daniel, you’d think I’d be head-over-heels for Corned Beef and Cabbage. Not so much. (Unless you count that packaged Buddig Corned Beef…)

Not so much, that is … until we found this recipe last year. I don’t even remember where I found it, but we liked it so much it actually made it into my recipe book.

I figured I’d post this today so that if you’re interested in making it for St. Patrick’s Day, you have enough notice 🙂

Crock Pot Corned Beef and Cabbage


  • 4 1/2 lbs corned beef brisket
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 medium onions, quartered
  • 3 Tbsp vinegar
  • 1 head cabbage, wedged
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 Cups water


  1. Combine ingredients in crock pot with cabbage on top.
  2. Cook on low 10-12 hours or on high 6 -7 hours.

(You can put potatoes and/or carrots on the bottom as well.)

For Gus – Succulent Death, Step-by-Step

Mike has a buddy in the armed forces who is overseas right now. (Hi Gus!) Mike told Gus that he’d document our first attempt at the Succulent Death recipe (inspired by the Bacon Explosion one). Mike also claims that the happiness of many a solder over there relies on this post (*roll eyes here*).


Step 1

Create a 5×5 weave of bacon. It’s best to use the thick cut kind.

We actually created two of these, so you’ll see two 5×5 monstrosities throughout the documenting process.



(For all you boys out there, that’s:
“Over, under, over, under, over.”
And then:
“Under, over, under, over, under.”
Repeat 1.5 more times. 😉 )




100_4016Step 2

Sprinkle BBQ seasoning over the weave.

We used the Pampered Chef BBQ Seasoning.




100_40191Step 3

Spread uncooked meatloaf recipe over the entire weave. Make sure that you spread it all the way to the edges, and that it’s the same thickness the whole way across.

Mike’s mom’s meatloaf recipe is to die for. If you would like it, feel free to email me, but I’m not going to publish it. Sorry! 🙂


100_4024Step 4

Spread mashed potatoes over the meatloaf.

We used Dinner’s Choice Garlic Mashed Potatoes. A huge shortcut for things like this. (Great for Shepherd’s Pie as well…)



100_4026Step 5

Squirt some BBQ sauce over the potatoes.

We used Sweet Baby Ray’s Hickory and Brown Sugar.




100_4030Step 6

Carefully separate the meatloaf layer from the bacon layer.

Roll the meatloaf layer up from one end to the other.



100_4034Step 7

We had 4 pieces of bacon left over after the weave, so Mike stuck them on the ends of the meatloaf roll to keep it all contained.




100_4036Step 8

Roll the meatloaf back toward the opposite end; this time include the bacon layer so you end up with the bacon completely covering the meatloaf.



100_4040Step 9

Sprinkle the entire roll with more BBQ seasoning.





100_40421Step 10

Grill it!

We put it on for about an hour, but it could have used at least another half hour. The bacon was a little undercooked.



100_4069Step 11

Serve it!

As you can see, Mike also grilled up the following: potatoes, green beans, asparagus, hot dogs, zucchini, and peppers.



OH.MY.GOD. this was sooooo good. 🙂


Other than cooking it longer, we may try to alter the meatloaf recipe a bit so that it’s a little firmer. Mike was worried that the roll would fall apart (hence the tinfoil under it on the grill). Being able to put the roll directly on the grill might make the bacon cook a bit more as well.

Recipe: Crock Pot Beef Stew

As you may or may not know, I’ve been using Weight Watchers for the past few weeks to try to get back to a healthier weight. (Click to see today’s Ladies of Loserville post.) I haven’t been going crazy, but I have been counting all of my points (damn those donuts are costly!), and trying to choose healthier alternatives (pay no attention to that donut remark 😉 ).

For the past two weeks, after entering my weight into their system, I get the following message:

Please note: You’re probably excited to be losing weight, but you’re losing faster than is recommended. Although it’s normal to lose over 2 lbs in 1 week, if you lose more than an average of 2 lbs per week over a 4-week period, this could pose health risks, such as heart irregularities, anemia or loss of muscle mass. Please slow your weight loss; your doctor can help you do this if you’re not sure how.

Uh. LAST week’s result was over 2 pounds, but none of the other weeks have been. This week’s was 1.4.  So why the message this week? I know, I know…it says average. But STILL. And HELL YA I’m excited to lose the weight, but I’m also not crazy 😉

Anyway…on to the good stuff!

Crock Pot Beef Stew

6 points a serving


  • 10 small New Potatoes, halved
  • 12 small white onions, peeled
  • 30 baby carrots (1/2 lb)
  • 1 1/2 lbs beef stew meat
  • 2 C. beef broth plus 1/2 C. water
  • 2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/4 tsp onion salt
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 Tbsp parsley
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 3 Tbsp cold water


  1. Place potatoes, onions, and carrots into crock pot.
  2. Add Beef.
  3. In a small bowl, combine broth with water, 3 salts, parsley, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce.
  4. Pour over meat and veggies.
  5. Cover and cook on low 6 hours.
  6. In small bowl, combine cornstarch and water.
  7. Stir into mixture.
  8. Cover and cook on high 15 -20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Recipe: Crock Pot Pork Chops

It’s hard to top yesterday’s post, but I think the loss of 3 pounds this week deserves at least a Yeah! 🙂 See today’s Ladies of Loserville post for more.

You may have noticed that I have only posted crock pot recipes so far. That’s because I love my crock pot. I love that most recipes are super easy – with very little prep work, and that they are SOOOO tasty! And I’m loving that most of the ones I’ve made all along are point-friendly.

Also, a note about the last crock pot recipe. Do not substitute for the Italian dressing. Man … that was the worst dinner ever.

On to the good stuff. This makes the chops so incredibly tender and oh-so-flavorful! It’s also only 4 points a serving.


  • 6 lean pork chops
  • 1 can condensed cream of <something> soup. I use Cream of Celery.
  • 1/4 C. water
  • 1 large onion – sliced
  • pepper to taste


  1. Place the chops on the bottom of the crock pot.
  2. Add onions, soup, water, and pepper.
  3. Cook on low 8 hours.

Didja Win? (Plus Yummy Recipes!)

Thank you to everyone who participated in my first giveaway! Random.org chose the 3 winners:

  1. Debi B – Comment 6
  2. Lisa – Recipe submission 4
  3. Mary Jenkins – Comment 8

I’ll try to email all of you within the next few hours. Please email me your address so Progresso can send the basket to you.  If I don’t hear from you within 3 days, random.org will pick a new winner.

And now for the recipes!


From the Kitchen of:  Jessica Brown

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. onion salt
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1  stick butter – melted 16 oz
  • sour cream 24 oz chicken broth
  • 1 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 16 oz linguine noodles
  • 5 chicken breasts – boiled and  cubed  or Cube (2 1/2) 6oz.  packages of pre-cooked  chicken slices
  • 1 stick butter melted Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • Approx. 2 cups
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x 13 pan or two smaller pans with cooking spray.
  2. Boil Linguine noodles, drain and mix with chicken.
  3. In a small bowl, melt 1 stick of butter and whisk together with flour, salt, pepper, garlic salt, and onion salt for one minute.
  4. In another bowl, mix together sour cream and chicken broth.  Combine both mixtures and cook on high until it becomes thick.
  5. After mixture is thick, add mozzarella cheese.
  6. In a large bowl, mix cheese sauce with noodles and chicken.  Pour into baking pan(s).
  7. Topping – mix 1 stick of melted butter with enough bread crumbs to make a crumbly topping.  Place on top of linguine and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.



From the Kitchen of:  Nicole

  • 4 egg whites
  • 2 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F (95 degrees C). Butter and flour a baking sheet.
  2. In a glass or metal bowl, whip egg whites until foamy using an electric mixer. Sprinkle in sugar a little at a time, while continuing to whip at medium speed. When the mixture becomes stiff and shiny like satin, stop mixing, and transfer the mixture to a large pastry bag. Pipe the meringue out onto the prepared baking sheet using a large round tip or star tip.
  3. Place the meringues in the oven and place a wooden spoon handle in the door to keep it from closing all the way. Bake for 3 hours, or until the meringues are dry, and can easily be removed from the pan. Allow cookies to cool completely before storing in an airtight container at room temperature.



From the Kitchen of:  Lisa (through allrecipes.com)




From the Kitchen of: Debi B




From the Kitchen of: Nancy Zimmer
(through a magazine from way back when…can’t remember which one!)

  • 1 Box of gingerbread mix + ingredients to make the mix
  • White chocolate chips (The original recipe had an amount, but I just use what looks good)
  • Jar/bottle of caramel topping (The original recipe had an amount, but I just use what looks good)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and place parchment paper in the bottom of a round cake pan. (cut the parchment paper to fit.)
  2. Prepare the gingerbread mix as described on the box.
  3. Pour 1/2 of the mix into the pan and bake for 12 minutes or until firm.
  4. Pour White chocolate chips into pan. Pour caramel topping over the chips. Pour the rest of the mix on top. Bake for another 12 minutes or until firm.
  5. Cool 5 minutes and then remove from pan and place on cooling rack.

Recipe: Crock Pot Chicken

As another companion to my Ladies of Loserville post, I’m sharing my Crock Pot Chicken recipe.

This is another one that I make all the time. It calls for Italian dressing…which, if you use the tasty kind isn’t great for the diet. I made it with the lite Italian dressing last time, which was okay. But that also could have also been due to the fact that I made it with whatever I had laying around the kitchen, so it wasn’t the USUAL stuff. Too many variables to call that one. I think the next time I try, I’m going to eliminate *2* whole points a serving and try it with the fat-free chicken broth that I got from Progresso. (Go see my giveaway!)  Maybe add some Italian seasoning? We’ll see.

If I calculated correctly, one serving using the lite Italian dressing is 5 points. I’m sure depending on the type of veggies you use, this could go up or down in points.

**UPDATE** Do NOT use the broth or the lite dressing…both turn out terrible!


  • 4 Chicken Breast halves. (We’ve been through this. . . I know that it’s 2 chicken breasts…)
  • I can sliced potatoes (you can use real ones diced up, but the canned ones mean that they’ll be super tender)
  • 1 bottle lite Italian dressing
  • 1 pkg. frozen veggies
  • 1/2 pkg. frozen pearl onions
  • 2 cans water chestnuts
  • Garlic powder
  • Seasoned salt (If you haven’t tried Penzey’s Spices yet…whoo boy. Yum-my)
  • Pepper to taste


  1. Place chicken in the bottom of crock pot.
  2. Generously sprinkle chicken with garlic powder and seasoned salt. Use pepper to taste.
  3. Add remaining ingredients.
  4. Cook on Low for 8 hours or High for 4 hours.

Recipe: Crock Pot Burger Soup

Mike picked on me for posting a recipe last week, but I’m going to do it again anyway *grin*

As another companion to my Ladies of Loserville post, I’m sharing my Burger Soup recipe. Like the Chicken Ole’, this one can be done in the crock pot or in a frying pan. I’ll include directions for both.

I have to say that Mike and I *love* this recipe. I make it at least once a week. You can use rice or pasta for either version…but the best way – in my opinion – is to use the rice in the crock pot version and pasta in the frying pan version. If I calculated correctly, one serving is 6 points. If you don’t add the cheese, it’s only 4 points.


  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic
  • 1/4 tsp. basil
  • 1 envelope dry onion soup
  • 3 Cups beef broth + water – boiling. (I use 1 can and then fill the rest with water, then pop into the microwave for 3 minutes)
  • 1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 C. sliced carrots
  • 1 C. cooked rice OR pasta (cooked and drained if in crock pot, dry if in frying pan – I use the curly, hollow pasta, Cellentani)
  • 1/4 C. grated Parmesan cheese

Crock Pot Instructions:

  1. Crumble beef into crock pot.
  2. Add spices.
  3. Mix in water, tomato sauce, and Worcestershire sauce.
  4. Add carrots.
  5. Cover and cook on low 6 – 8 hours.
  6. Turn to high heat and add rice or pasta and Parmesan cheese.
  7. Cover and cook 10 – 15 minutes.

Frying Pan Instructions:

  1. Brown and drain the beef.
  2. Add everything else.
  3. Cover and cook for 20 minutes.