Monday Menu ~ Crock Pot Jambayala with Mrs. B!!

Today is pretty awesome! Yea… yea… I know it’s Monday and that aside it’s a good day. Why you ask? Because today I have the talented Jen Bardall here visiting  from The Misadventures of Mrs. B and if you’ve ever been to her blog you know that she makes some pretty amazing dishes like this peanut butter cup cheesecake or her double chocolate brownies! So, let’s give her a magical welcome as she shares one of her amazing dishes with all of us.

Hi, everyone! It’s great to be here with Jackie and with you all, sharing a recipe which I am so glad my husband found and tweaked over time because it has become a huge favorite of ours.

I mean, what’s not to love about the flavor you get from chorizo, shrimp, chicken and veggies left to simmer for hours? Not to mention the fact that it feeds an army. When it comes to the three of us, we normally get two dinners and a few lunches worth of jambalaya out of this recipe. It’s saved our hungry hides many a weeknight.

And – hello! – it’s a crock pot creation. Set it and forget it, as they say.

You can always adjust heat level as you like. The original recipe called for only one teaspoon of hot sauce, but it was virtually undetectable to me and I have low heat tolerance. I bet you could use chicken or vegetable stock in place of water, too.

I hope you take the time to chop all those veggies and make a pot of jambalaya for your family. Be warned, though: The smell will darn near kill you as this cooks. You might want to leave the house for a while so as to avoid temptation, unless you’re a much stronger person than I.



Crock Pot Jambalaya


  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 sweet red peppers, diced
  • 2 carrots, shredded
  • 1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup long grain brown rice
  • 12 oz chorizo or preferred sausage, cut into ½ inch thick rounds
  • 3 chicken breasts, cubed
  • 1 lb raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 tsp hot sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tbs fresh thyme
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 tbs fresh parsley, minced


  1. In a slow cooker, layer the ingredients in this order: Onions, garlic, celery, carrots, peppers, tomatoes, rice, chicken and sausage. Add hot sauce, salt, pepper and thyme. Pour water over all. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.
  2. In the last hour, add the shrimp and parsley, then stir to combine all ingredients. Add more water if jambalaya is dry.

Want to hear a funny story? I bought this delicious chicken andouille sausage with making jambalaya in mind. I usually wing it when making jambalaya and just toss this and that into the pot. For the most part it turns out but is always a little different each time. I think that it’s time for a change… if I used a recipe like this one I’d have more consistant results and it’d always be awesome!

Thank you Jen for sharing your recipe with all of us!

You can find Jen on her blog,  Twitter, Facebook, and of course Pinterest.

Monday Menu ~ Homemade Marshmallows

Welcome to Monday!!

Okay, I know that Monday’s aren’t all that exciting but this recipe is AND the new recipe plugin that I installed. Now you’ll be able to easily print the recipes that I share with you. The little plugin will also help with the SEO on my recipes which we all know is pretty darn important, right?

It’s the middle of winter here in Michigan and all this cold weather (and now lack of snow) has left me and probably many others longing for warmer weather. Sunny days with a nice breeze at the beach and starry nights sitting around a campfire. Sounds nice, huh?

So, what goes perfectly with a campfire? S’mores!

Homemade Marshmallows

I figured that instead of the regular boring s’mores that I’d jazz things up this week and try my hand at making homemade marshmallows! At first I was a bit intimidated because while I can bake up a storm candy making isn’t my thing. Candy, you ask? Yes, homemade marshmallows are considered candy making because of the boiling sugar.


After a lot of reading and research I was ready to give it a shot. Besides the worst that could happen is that they turned out to be a big sticky mess….

prepping marshmallows

Homemade Marshmallows


  • 3 1/2 envelopes unflavored gelatin (I used Knox)
  • 1 cup cold water, divided
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • Powdered sugar


  1. Spray a 13x9 cake pan with cooking spray or line with parchment paper and then coat with powdered sugar.
  2. In a bowl sprinkle the gelatin over 1/2 cup of the water.
  3. In a mixer beat the egg whites and vanilla until there are stiff peaks.
  4. While the eggs are beating stir the remaining 1/2 cup of water, corn syrup, and sugar until the sugar has dissolved and then boil until it reaches 230 degrees on a candy thermometer. Once this reaches temperature remove it from the heat and stir it into the gelatin until dissolved.
  5. With the mixer going pour the hot sugar/gelatin mixture in slowly and beat for 5 - 7 minutes. The marshmallow fluff with triple in volume and have stiff peaks when it's done and look like really thick cake batter.
  6. Pour the marshmallow fluff into the prepared pan and smooth the top as best as you can. Dust the top with a powdered sugar.
  7. Chill, uncovered, for at least 3 hours or until set. I left mine in the fridge overnight.

Well, they didn’t turn out to be a big sticky mess. As a matter of fact they were really easy to make and turned out great! I will say that I didn’t use parchment paper and wish that I would have because the combination of the cooking spray & powdered sugar left a funny film on the bottom of them.

Soft, spongy, and perfect! I really think that it was the egg whites that made a huge difference. There were so many recipes out there that didn’t call for egg whites and only a handful that did so I gave it a go with the egg whites.

So what can you do with a homemade marshmallow to make it even better? Put it on a graham cracker and top it of with some dark chocolate ganache and now you have a phenomenal dessert. It’s like a grown up s’more minus the charred marshmallow.

I know that I can just run out and get some marshmallows from the store but they’re not the same. Trust me! They’re is a huge difference and best of all you control the ingredients.

Have you ever tried homemade marshmallows?

What do you think of the new recipe plugin?

Playdough at Moonfrye

Ever since my girls were little they would sit at the table and play with playdough for hours and you know what? They still do.

I believe that it is the one activity that they will sit down and take part in with their little brother. Do you know what’s better than just plain old playdough from the store? Making some from scratch! It’s super simple, lots of fun, and the kids can help out with it too.

dough making

Today you can check out my post at Moonfrye and get the recipe for making your own playdough.

It’s perfect fun for cold, winter days!

Monday Menu ~ 30 minute chili mac soup

Okay… first things first! I am beyond excited to tell you all that I have been featured on BlogHer! I was shocked when I got the email on Sunday afternoon… at first I thought that it was wrong or something but as I read more and then clicked over, there is was… my post about a soldiers homecoming. I don’t know how the process work… how they select someone’s post to be featured… but all I do know is that if you keep writing your best and from the heart it pays off.

So, now on to the regularly scheduled post. Today on the Monday Menu I have yet another soup… one of these days I’ll make something different. I promise! But for now I have a really easy dinner for you, 30 minute chili mac soup.

30 minute chili-mac

My family isn’t big fans Hamburger Helper and I hide the box for this recipe when I bought and then made sure that they never saw it while I was cooking. They never knew what it was and even commented how much they liked it and then I told them what was in it and they were pretty surprised. Of course they sighed and went on about how they don’t like Hamburger Helper and blah…blah…blah… Regardless of the complaining they still liked it and ate it.



1 lb ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 32oz carton of beef broth
1 cup of water
1 box Hamburger Helper® chili macaroni
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1 28-oz can of diced or crushed tomatoes
1 can corn with red and green peppers – drained
1 can of black beans – drained & rinsed



In 4-quart Dutch oven, cook beef, onion and green pepper over medium-high heat 5 to 7 minutes, until the beef is thoroughly cooked; drain.

burger & onions

Stir in the broth and water water, sauce mix (from Hamburger Helper box), chili powder, garlic salt and tomatoes.


Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally.Reduce heat; cover and simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in uncooked pasta (from Hamburger Helper box), corn and beans. Cover and cook 10 minutes longer.

After a day this thickened up pretty good and it tasted even better! Now, that I have this recipe I’m going to try using Hamburger Helper for other quick soups!

What’s your go to 30 minute or less dinner?

Monday Menu ~ Whole wheat sugar cookies

It’s been a while since I’ve shared a recipe with you but since baking is my favorite thing ever and I’ve been really trying hard to lose weight I’ve set aside baking.

Well I couldn’t do it. I just had to bake something! It wasn’t that I really wanted to eat something sweet but more that I missed baking and trying to find a recipe that is great. I was given the chance to try out Melt again and knew that I wanted to use it for a cookie and with that my journey began!

First of all, I want to let you know what Melt Buttery Spread really is. It’s an organic butter alternative that is made from virgin coconut oil, flax seed oil, palm fruit oil, and canola oil with no artificial colors or additives. It is the perfect blend of healthy fats that can be used just the same as regular butter, whether you bake or cook with it or even spread it on your toast it really is one of the more healthy oils that you can use. Best of all…. it’s delicious! I love it!

My first thought was chocolate chip cookies because those are just about everyone’s favorite, but I really wanted something that was lower in calories. What I came up with was whole wheat sugar cookies and the recipe needs some improving.

Whole Wheat Sugar Cookies – Round 1

  • 1 cup white sugar – I used Stevia
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup butter flavored shortening – I used Melt!
  • 2 tablespoons milk – skim
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg – I used egg beaters 1/4 cup
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In large bowl, combine first 10 ingredients and blend well. Stir in whole wheat flour. (I chilled the dough while the oven was pre-heating but I don’t think it was really necessary)
Shape into 1 inch balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet, 2 inches apart. Flatten each cookie slightly with a fork or your hand.


Bake in pre-heated oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until light golden brown


I did succeed in making them healthier and lower calorie than your typical cookie! I mean take a look at those nutrition facts! 50 calories per cookie!
Alright here’s the final results…. one kid took a bit, handed me the cookie, and then asked what it was, the 2nd barely took a bite and said she didn’t like it oh… and that they smelled like bread, and my oldest daughter said that they weren’t to bad & agreed with me that they were missing something.
I have to agree… something is missing. I think that they need maybe 1/2 to 1 cup more sugar and 1 1/2 tsp vanilla instead of 1. Another idea is to roll the cookies in sugar before baking.
Alright all of you foodies out there…. what are your thoughts?

Monday Menu ~ Stuffed Cabbage Casserole

One of my dishes is stuffed cabbage rolls, but they are a lot of work and take so much time that I rarely make them. Instead of the traditional cabbage rolls I’ve been making stuffed cabbage casserole! It’s just as delicious and it takes half the time which means that I can still make it after work during the week. I won’t say that this is one of those 30 minute meals though… it does take a little time.


1 -2 lbs of hamburger or ground turkey if you prefer

1 large onion – chopped

1 bay leaf

1 tbsp or more chopped garlic

1 -2 cups of uncooked instant rice – white or brown

2 14oz cans of beef broth

1 head of cabbage chopped

28oz can of stewed diced tomatoes or sauce, whichever you prefer (I used tomatoes that I cooked & froze over the summer)

Salt & pepper to taste

Spices – Now you can use just about any spice that you want I think. Thyme, oregano, basil, savory, or rosemary are all fine it all depends on the flavor that you want.



Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Brown the meat and when it’s almost done add in the onion, garlic, and bay leaf.

browning the meat

Once the onion is cooked, it’ll look translucent, add in the rice, broth, and seasonings and stir until it is combined and then add in the cabbage. You will need to make sure that you have a large pan to fit everything in!

add in the cabage

Stir this up and then add in the tomatoes.  It will seem a little soupy but don’t worry because it will all be soaked into the rice and cabbage.

Once you have everything combined pour it into a 13×9 pan and cover tightly with foil.

ready for the oven

Bake for about an hour, uncover and stir, and then bake for another 15 – 30 minutes. When it’s done remove it from the oven and enjoy with fresh bread and a salad!

cabbage roll casserole

 What are some of your favorite go to casseroles for dinner?

Monday Menu ~ Red Gold review, giveaway, & recipe!

When I was contacted to try out a couple of the new culinary classics from Red Gold tomatoes one of the things that surprised me most was that they’re grown right here in Michigan, as well as in Ohio and Indiana. All this time I’ve been buying locally grown product and I never knew it. What makes it even better is that this new line is being sold locally at Meijer stores in the Detroit area!

red gold culinary classicsWhen I first received the tomatoes I couldn’t decide what to do with them… there were so many choices! It was the diced tomatoes with chipotle that stood out though and I finally decided to make a Spanish rice casserole with them. Now, I’ll be the first to tell you that this recipe is more of the fly by the seat of your pants type thing and you can change it up anyway you want.


1 – 1 lbs of hamburger (you could also use ground turkey, ground chicken, cut up chicken, or leave the meat out)

1 medium onion diced

1 tsp garlic (add more or leave it out)

1 carton of broth (chicken, beef, or vegetable)

Rice (white or brown – I used brown Minute Rice)

1 28 oz can of Red Gold diced tomatoes with chipotle

2 cups of Shredded cheese (you can add more if you’d like or leave it out)

Optional seasoning




Note: I left out the amounts of rice & broth on purpose. You can make as much or as little as you like for this casserole depending on how many you need to feed or how much meat to rice ratio you like. I made about 3 cups of cooked rice.


Brown the meat in a pan and once it’s almost done add in the onions and garlic. Cook until the onions are almost translucent and then add the tomatoes and spices. While the meat is browning cook the rice until it is partially done and set aside.

saute meat

Once the meat is done mix the rice into and let it simmer for 5 – 10  minutes.

mixing in the rice

Stir in about half of the cheese and pour into a baking dish and top with the rest of the cheese.

topped with cheese

Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 15 – 20 minutes. Really all you want is for the cheese to get all melty & bubbly.

Spanish Rice - ready to eat

And you’re ready for dinner! Serve with tortillas or alone. You can add pretty much any kind of toppings that you can think of with this. For me avocado’s and black beans would be perfect!

Just a note…. this is a bit on the spicy side but with sour cream or guacamole you can cool it off if you don’t like the heat.

Are you interested in trying out the new Culinary Classics from Red Gold?

You can win a prize pack from them and all you have to do is leave a comment telling me how you would use one of the two varieties of Red Gold tomatoes I have pictured above. That’s it!

Now, if you would like extra entries you can do any of the following but be sure to leave a comment for each

1. “Like” With Just a Bit of Magic on Facebook

2. “Like” Red Gold on Facebook

3. Add With Just a Bit of Magic to your circle on Google Plus

4. Follow me on Twitter & Tweet about the giveaway (leave the link to your tweet)

The giveaway ends on Friday, January 20th at midnight. A winner will be selected via random. org and notified via email (make sure your email is visible so I can contact you) and the  winner will have 24 hours to respond before another will be selected.

I received Red Gold tomatoes to review, but all thoughts and opinions are mine.

And because the DSLR wasn’t handy I used my favorite piece of technology ever to the awesome pics for this post… my iPhone! Because of that I’m linking up with the incredible Liz & KLZ for #iPPP!

iPhone Photo Phun

Monday Menu ~ Collard Greens from a girl north of the Mason-Dixon

I am so happy today because I have a special guest post for you! Today my sister has joined the ranks of blogging and this is her first ever post anywhere in the blogosphere! How exciting is that!! 

My sister, like myself, loves to cook and find all sorts of new recipes and then sometimes make them her ownjust like the one she is sharing with everyone today.

So please give her a warm welcome an enjoy the recipe!

Well, I was born in raised in the beautiful state of Michigan so needless to say, collards did not make an appearance on the family table at holidays, nor any other day of the year.

I went 35 long years without collard greens and even had the audacity to scrunch my nose up when offered ( I was a picky eater as a child and only have come to like green leafy things later in life a.k.a  “late foodie bloomer”).

Young collard plants growing in a container

Image via Wikipedia

I tried collard greens for the first time last year and was head over heels for them.  I inquired as to how to make these things and was advised to use certain things.  Well, being headstrong amongst other adjectives to describe myself, I made a few adaptations.   Here is what I make.  Just a note, my even pickier husband loves these.  He DOES NOT do green and leafy and is my work in progress, folks.

These measurements are approximate as I really don’t feel it necessary to measure because it is not baking (YEAH).  My beautiful sister measures because she is an awesome baker, I am not….

One package of cut and cleaned collard greens (What, you thought I cut them up??? NOPE).  Feel free to give them a good rinse in a colander ….  (I do that at minimum).

1-2 cartons of Kitchen Basics Chicken Stock (Make sure it is not the Unsalted version).  One carton is generally enough, unless you like a lot of juice.

7-10 cloves of garlic, minced (approximately) (Did I mention how much I love, love, love garlic?)  Please feel free to adjust to your taste.  NOTE: I have never had an encounter with a vampire, he he he

1 large onion, chopped

1 large can (28 oz) diced tomatoes

1 pkg of smoked turkey wings (Yes, they have to be smoked)

2 Trappeys hot peppers (minced), plus a few shakes of the vinegar from the bottle (For the love of all that is holy, do not add more unless you like HOT stuff),.

Salt and Pepper to taste.

Ok. This is a layered event.  Here is the order in which it goes:

Pour some chicken stock in HUGH-ASS stock pot.


Salt and Pepper




1 Trappeys pepper, plus 1-2 shakes of the vinegar in the bottle of Trappeys

Cut off some meat of the turkey wing and throw on top of all that.  And then add the smoked turkey wing with the bone in.

REPEAT until everything is gone.  Cook on low for about 3 hours with the lid on. The greens will cook down and the meat will fall off the bones, but make sure you remove the bones before serving (unless you don’t like the person… KIDDING… Remove the bones, seriously).

I serve this with cornbread.  Now don’t get all excited, I use Jiffy.  I suck at making homemade cornbread and I’ve made several attempts.  Jiffy turns out so much better… But I do add a tablespoon of sugar to the cornbread mix.  See… its homemade!!!!

Do you eat collards? How do you prepare them?

Monday Menu ~ Roasted Chicken with Pinot Noir Sauce and Rosemary Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

Welcome back to another episode of the Monday Menu! One of these days I will get to making a cute button for this feature and make it all official like.

Today I have a special guest for you and I was so happy when she agreed to guest post for me! Please give a warm & magical welcome to Gigi from Kludgy Mom! She has a great recipe that I know you’ll all want to make for dinner this week.

Thank God for Jackie Cross, because she asked me to guest post for her Menu Mondays eons ago and the guilt of not doing that in a timely fashion inspired me to head back into the kitchen after a long hiatus!

As one of the founders of #winebuzz, I find myself with a lot of wine around my house all the time. If I drank every last drop of every last bottle we sample, I’d be on Intervention, so I started looking around for some great recipes that use wine as an ingredient.

This recipe is from Cooking Light. I like cooking chicken breasts because they’re easy and fast, and this recipe delivered both. The Pinot Noir sauce is super flavorful, but not overly heavy like most red wine reductions. You can prep the potatoes and pop them in the oven while you cook the chicken and the sauce, and be done in less than 45 minutes. I don’t eat a ton of fingerling potatoes (they are a little pricey) but these were delicious. And the biggest bonus? One breast with sauce + some potatoes is a measly 500 calories. More room for fudge!!
Roasted Breast of Chicken with Pinot Noir Sauce (recipe courtesy Cooking Light Magazine, Oct 2010 issue)

• 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
• 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
• 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
• 8 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
• 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
• 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
• Cooking spray
• 3 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
• 2 cups pinot noir
• 1 1/2 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
• 3/4 teaspoon sugar
• 3 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces

1. Preheat oven to 425°.
2. Sprinkle thyme, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and rosemary evenly over chicken. Dredge chicken in flour; shake off excess flour. Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 4 chicken breast halves to pan; cook 2 minutes or until browned. Turn chicken over; cook 1 minute. Remove chicken from pan. Repeat procedure with remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil and remaining chicken. Arrange chicken in a single layer on the rack of a roasting pan coated with cooking spray; place rack in pan. Bake at 425° for 12 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into thickest part of chicken registers 160°. Remove from oven. Cover and let stand 10 minutes.
3. Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add shallots to saucepan; sauté 30 seconds, stirring frequently. Stir in wine, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Increase heat to high; bring to a boil. Cook 10 minutes or until wine is reduced to 1 cup. Add broth; cook 16 minutes or until broth mixture is reduced to 1/3 cup. Remove from heat; stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and sugar. Gradually add butter, stirring constantly with a whisk until smooth. Serve sauce with chicken.

Rosemary Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

• 2 1/2 pounds fingerling potatoes, halved
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 375°.
2. Place potatoes on a jelly-roll pan. Drizzle potatoes with oil; sprinkle with salt, rosemary, and pepper. Toss to combine; spread into a single layer on pan. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes or until lightly browned and tender.

Chicken with Pinot Noir Sauce

Monday Menu ~ Chocolate Chip Cookies

I had this great plan for today’s post but it didn’t work out at all. This weekend was my daughter’s 16th birthday and we went to Detroit for the day and ate dinner in Greektown at the Pegasus Tavernas and I was going to write about how great our meal was and write an incredible review full of beautiful pictures. But I can’t…. our meal wasn’t all that great, the service was less than stellar, and half way home we started to not feel so well.

Because of that I didn’t have anything for today. So I started thinking and with the holidays coming up and all the baking everyone will be doing I thought that I would bring back one of my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipes. This recipe is based on the cookies made at Levian Bakery in NYC and if you’ve ever had one of their cookies you’ll know how amazing they are and that the recipe isn’t readily available.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1 cup cold butter – cubed *
  • 2 1/2 – 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup light brown sugar **
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, cold
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips – I used Ghiradelli Semi-Sweet

* I used salted butter. You can also use unsalted just add 1/4 tsp of salt.
** I was out of light brown sugar too. I used 1 cup white & 1 cup dark sugar.

Preheat oven to 350 and make sure the rack is in the middle. If it’s to close to the bottom of the oven the cookies will be way to dark on the bottom.

  • Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy and then add eggs one at a time, then vanilla and mix until well incorporated.
  •  Add dry ingredients and mix till combined. Add chocolate chips.
  • I used the medium scoop from Pampered Chef which is about 2oz twice to make about a 4oz cookie.
  • Bake 10 – 15 min (up to 20 depending on how big your cookies are) and are lightly brown on the bottom.

Place on a rack to cool.

Mock Levain Chocolate Chip Cookies

This picture doesn’t do the cookies justice… they’re thick, crisp on the outside, and warm & gooey on the inside. You can change these up by adding in walnuts, pecan, peanut butter chips, or any other combination you can come up with.

Do you have a favorite mock recipe?