The Best Meal

Tell us about the best meal you ever cooked.

Since one of my journaling prompts last month was cooking, I almost changed today’s prompt because I didn’t think I would have much more to add. Good grief! To think that I actually considered that I wouldn’t have anything to say?

I really had to think hard about the best meal I have ever cooked because nothing specific was coming to my mind. However, my mind kept going back to the biggest meal that I have ever prepared: Christmas Eve 2011. David and I bought our house the week after Christmas in 2010, so we had been in our house for almost a year. We decided to host Christmas Eve dinner for the first Christmas in our new home.

While I didn’t cook everything for the meal that day, I did prepare a good portion of it for the 20 guests that we had that day. And because I am a super planner, I mapped everything out for the day in my Google Calendar to time everything to be cooked in time. I even worked in time to nap, shower and clean my room.

The items that I prepared was ham, turkey, dressing, monkey bread, green beans and snacks. It was stressful to get it all done, but I loved it! I loved preparing everything, planning it all out and hosting 20 of my friends and family in my home. It was perfect!

My parents recently remodeled their house and want to host Christmas Eve at their house this year. I’m looking forward to the holiday again and while I wish I was hosting again this year, I’m glad that my parents have a nice home to share with us. Maybe I’ll see if we can alternate years.

Monkey Bread Recipe


Prep Time: 25 Min
Total Time: 1 Hr 5 Min
Makes: 12 servings

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1teaspoon cinnamon
2 cans (16.3 oz each) Pillsbury Grands Homestyle refrigerated buttermilk biscuits
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, if desired
1/2 cup raisins, if desired
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup butter or margarine, melted


  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease 12-cup fluted tube pan with shortening or cooking spray. In large -storage plastic food bag, mix granulated sugar and cinnamon.
  2. Separate dough into 16 biscuits; cut each into quarters. Shake in bag to coat. Arrange in pan, adding walnuts and raisins among the biscuit pieces.
  3. In small bowl, mix brown sugar and butter; pour over biscuit pieces.
  4. Bake 28 to 32 minutes or until golden brown and no longer doughy in center. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Turn upside down onto serving plate; pull apart to serve. Serve warm.

Do you have an awesome meal that you prepared? What’s your Christmas Eve tradition?

Proof of my insane Christmas Eve planning.

During the month of November, I am participating in the National Blog Posting Month, also known as NaBloPoMo, hosted by BlogHer. Most likely I am following these suggested prompts, but I might just get crazy and change things up every once in a while. I‘m one wild and crazy gal! 

NaBloPoMo November 2012


31 Days of Journaling Prompts: Cooking

Day 20: Cooking

Continuing on yesterday’s Confessions post, I must confess that I enjoy cooking most of the time. The caveat to the “most of the time” reference is that there are those times after a long day where cooking is the last thing that I want to do, but luckily that doesn’t happen on a regular basis. I don’t, however enjoy spending a lot of time preparing a meal. I tend to stick to simple recipes and usually double the recipe (or more) so that we have leftovers for the next night or for the freezer. Since I usually cook just for David and myself, it’s easier for me to cook for 4 or 6 and save the rest.

Earlier this year, David and I had a cooking day where we prepared enough dinners for an entire month. It’s an understatement for me to say that it was a lot of hard work. We spent at least 5 hours in the kitchen that day and were completely exhausted by the end of it. It ended up being worth it, and we’ve talked about doing it again, but so far it hasn’t happened. To prepare for the big cooking day, we invested in a FoodSaver Vacuum Sealer and has turned out to be one of our smartest purchases. While we haven’t had another cooking day to plan an entire month’s worth of meals, I do tend to freeze the extra meals now instead of eating leftovers for days and days because we don’t want to waste food. I can only handle eating the same leftovers once or twice before I am ready to move onto something else. Pulling a meal out of the freezer helps on those days when I don’t want to cook after a long day.

Another long-time favorite of mine is slow cooking, and with the invention of the slow cooker liners that I discovered a few years ago, I’m definitely more likely to use the slow cooker now. There’s a ton of recipes on the internet for slow cooker recipes, and I love discovering new ones. There’s usually not too much prep that goes into a slow cooker meal, because it’s usually as simple as dropping in the ingredients and turning it on. The slow cooker liners are a bit costly but sure beat scrubbing the baked on caked on mess that comes with cooking food in a hot bowl all day long.

My favorite part of cooking is discovering new recipes. I’m a sucker for a cookbook or recipe website. I’m always looking for ways to mix it up and try something different. Plus, I have to admit that it can be fun to see what David’s reaction is to new foods. He’s not one to eat many vegetables, so I have to sneak them in sometimes. It’s pretty awesome when he’s surprised that he likes something that he wasn’t sure he would.

I’m not one to post recipes often, because I usually get my recipes from someone else and either follow them precisely or change them up slightly to fit my own tastes. However, what good is a post about cooking without one of my tried and true favorite recipes? I found this recipe several years ago in the coupon section of the paper. I’ve made this recipe so many times that I don’t even have to look at the recipe anymore but luckily found it online.

Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup


1 pkg Mahatma Red Beans and Rice Mix
1 1/2 lbs cooked chicken, diced
2 tsp chili powder
2 cans (14 1/2 oz. each) diced tomatoes, undrained
3 cups chicken broth
Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
tortilla chips, crushed


Prepare rice mix according to package directions. Meanwhile, toss chicken with chili powder. Combine undrained tomatoes and chicken broth in large saucepan. Bring to a boil; add chicken. Reduce heat and cook 7 minutes. Add prepared rice mix; heat through. Spoon into bowls. Top with cheese and tortilla chips.

Tonya’s Tips

  • I try to always use Mahatma Red Beans and Rice unless I can’t find it in the store. Zatarain’s will work in a pinch.
  • I cook the red beans and rice in the microwave.
  • I have made this recipe in the slow cooker, but be aware that the rice will expand so much that it becomes a bit mushy. It was still delicious that night and the next night for leftovers!
  • I am not a fan of using canned chicken, but it can work in this recipe.
  • I usually use a Mexican blend of shredded cheese.
  • I add garlic, but I add garlic to most non-sweet recipes, as I confessed yesterday.
  • Recipe found at

Do you enjoy cooking? What’s your go-to recipe? 

“I think careful cooking is love, don’t you? The loveliest thing you can cook for someone who’s close to you is about as nice a valentine as you can give.” – Julia Child 

Read more about the 31 Days of Journaling Prompts

Today’s recommended 31 Day Bloggers:
31 Days of Freezer Cooking @ Good (Cheap) Eats  
31 Days of Slow Cooking Deliciousness @ With Elephant Grace