Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Beef Stew

2 lbs beef stew meat
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon paprika
4 carrots (I add more)
3 potatoes (I add more)
1 1/2 cup beef broth

Mix meat, flour, salt and pepper in crockpot. Add remaining ingredients and stir. Cover.

Cook on low for 10-12 hours or on high 4-6 hours.

Grandpop's Chili (Wayne Kuhner)

Brown 1 lb ground beef.
Put cooked ground beef in crock pot with 1 can kidney beans (undrained), 1 16 oz can tomato sauce, 2 small cans tomato paste and 2-3 cups of water. Add 2-4 teaspoons of chili powder.

Optional- add 2 cups of uncooked macaroni

Cook on high for 4-6 hours.

*Double recipe for lots of servings. Freezes well.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Crepes & Manicotti

My husband's favorite food is manicotti. I used to buy the shells at the store and cook them and try to stuff them with the cheese filling. It takes forever, makes a mess and is a LOT of work. Once, when we ordered manicotti at Buca de' Bepos it seemed like their shells were very similar to crepes. I went home and tried my crepe recipe and they turned out delicious. My husband requested that I always make the crepe version from then on.

This recipe is a regular crepe recipe so if you like crepes, try making them and filling with fruit or more savory fillings. Look ideas up for fillings online. If you want to make the manicotti, just go to allrecipes.com and look for a good manicotti filling recipe and use these as the shells.

This recipe originates from my Vita-Mix cookbook so I always make it in my blender.

1 cup skim evaporated milk
4 eggs or egg substitute
1 tablespoon sugar or other sweetener, to taste
1 cup all-purpose flour

Pour approx. 3 tablespoons of batter onto hot, lightly buttered crepe pan or 8 inch fry pan. Tilt to spread batter. Crepe is done when set on top and lightly browned on bottom.

I always use a regular frying pan. One with rounded edges works best. Try to make these as thinly as possible and they'll work better. I usually flip my crepe just briefly. Don't overcook or they'll be brown and crispy.

Manicotti Filling Recipe

2 eggs
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 container ricotta cheese
½ cup parmesan cheese
½ cup Monterey Jack cheese
1 tablespoon minced garlic
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
2 tablespoons sour cream
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

Make sure to use less parsley/basil if using dried.

Bon Appetit

Homemade Pancakes

This recipe comes from my Vita-Mix cookbook and I make it for my daughter and I all the time. I do mine in my blender but it can also be made in a regular bowl as well. Save money by not having to buy bisquick or pancake mixes. This is cheap and very quick to throw together.

1 1/4 cups milk
1 egg or egg substitute
2 tablespoons light olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
2 tablespoons sugar or other sweetener to taste
1 cup flour, all-purpose or whole wheat or a combination of both
2 teaspoons baking powder

Hint: when using whole wheat flour, substitute brown sugar for sugar or other sweeteners.

I usually use 1/4 cup whole wheat flour and 3/4 cup all-purpose flour. They're a little healthier but still taste good. When I tried 1/2 and 1/2 it didn't taste nearly as good. I usually go a little light on the olive oil as well. Other than that, I make the recipe as is. Enjoy

Monday, December 22, 2008

Dad's Rolled Biscuits

My mom did most of the cooking when I was growing up but whenever we needed some delicious biscuits my dad was the one who made them. (My mom would have make then just fine...it just became my dad's recipe because he perfected them so well). These are easy to make and so delicious spread with homemade jam!

Preheat oven to 450 degrees
Sift Together into a large bowl:
3 ½ cups flour
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp baking powder

Cut in with knives or a pastry cutter:
¼ or ½ cup chilled butter or margarine

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and Add all at once:
1 ½ cup milk

Stir until the dough is fairly free from the sides of the bowl. Don't overmix.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured board. Knead gently and quickly, making about eight to ten folds. Roll with a lightly floured rolling pin, until the dough has the desired thickness. (About ½ inch thick works great). Cut with a biscuit cutter dipped in a little flour. Brush the tops with:
Milk or melted butter. (optional)

Place on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake until lightly browned-12-15 minutes.

Honey Chicken

This recipe makes great glazed chicken wings. Sticky and sweet and definitely a finger food. It takes 2 minutes to prepare but plan ahead because it needs 1-1 1/2 hours to cook.

Turn oven to 375.

1 cup honey
½ cup soy sauce
½ clove chopped garlic
2 tablespoons catsup

Sprinkle 2 tablespoons vegetable oil over 4 lbs frozen chicken wings.

Pour mixture over the top and bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour or until caramelized. Turn approximately every 15 minutes.

I find that it takes longer than 1 hour for the caramelization to occur. Also, make sure the chicken is lying in a single layer on the bottom of the pan. If it’s stacked up, it won’t caramelize. My husband likes this with chicken breasts as well but it doesn’t caramelize without the wings.

Serves great with rice, biscuits and veggies.

Javanese Dinner

This meal is one I grew up with and it's easy to make and flexible for those eating it. This easily serves a large group but can be adjusted to feed two as well. I like to make it when I have guests over as it's fast to prepare and everyone usually likes it.

(Quantities can be adjusted for how many are eating)

10 cups cooked rice
3 cans(bags) Chinese noodles
2 cooked chickens-cut up
2 cans crushed, drained Pineapple
1 cup chopped celery
2 cups slivered almonds (or walnuts)
1 lb. package coconut
1 ½ cup grated cheddar cheese
2 cups grated onions

Chicken broth thickened with corn starch. Mix the cornstarch with a little water first so you don't end up with cornstarch lumps. Seems like a bland gravy but it actually tastes delicious mixed with the other flavors.

Just cook your rice and chicken and put all other ingredients in individual serving bowls on the table. The chicken takes the longest to cook and cut up. Everything else is super easy. You basically just start with the rice and put the ingredients you want on top. I never eat the celery or onions because I don't prefer them but I put them out for those that like them. This makes great left-overs as well. Just put everything in baggies and pull out the next day and reheat. Yum!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Potato Cheese Soup

This is one of those soups that is hard to mess up. The ingredients don't have to be measured exactly and it cooks up fairly quickly.

3 cups chopped potatoes (think bite-sized pieces)
1 can chicken broth
1/2 c chopped celery
1/2 c chopped carrots
1/4 c chopped onions
1 T parsley
1/2 t salt
pepper, to taste

Cook the above until tender. Add:

1 1/2 c milk
2 T flour

Cook until thick. Add:

1/2 Velveeta, cubed

Cook on medium-low heat until melted.

I didn't follow the recipe exactly, so here's what I did:
Sauteed onions and carrots with celery flakes until onions were cooked.
Cut up some fingerling potatoes.
Put a chicken bullion cube in the pot and put enough water in to cover the veggies and potatoes.
Added some celery salt and black pepper.
Boiled for a few minutes until the potatoes were tender, then lowered the heat.
Mixed some milk and flour, stirred that into the soup and then put in a little bit more milk.
Added some Mexican flavor Velveeta.
I measured everything by the trusty eyeball method (I wasn't making as much as the recipe calls for, so I used it as a guide only).
I think everything took me around 30 minutes or so.

As I said, this is hard soup to mess up - it can be adjusted to taste. I might recommend using two or three bullion cubes, but that is up to your taste completely. The Mexican Velveeta is a tip someone gave my mom. She prefers the taste of 1/2 regular Velveeta and 1/2 Mexican Velveeta. I used the celery flakes and celery salt because I can never find small quantities of celery at a reasonable price and have trouble using it up before it goes bad. Cooking the celery flakes in the soup reconstitutes them a little bit. I omitted the parsley because I just didn't have any on hand.

I love fingerling potatoes. They are generally comparable in price to other varieties of potatoes and their size and shape make them easy to cut up. They have good flavor in soups and roasts and cook nicely. They get soft but don't fall apart too much. If you can find a fingerling or baby potato assortment with multiple varieties of potatoes, go for it. The different flavors will blend nicely and give your soup a fuller flavor (also recommended in stews and mashed potatoes). They have thin enough skin that you can use them in most recipes without peeling them.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread

Recipe from allrecipes.com

I made some of this bread last night to take to Bible Study this evening, and it is fantastic! The directions say that it gets better over time, so try to make it a day ahead if you can.

1 (15 ounce) can pumkin puree
4 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup water
3 cups white sugar
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour three 7x3 inch loaf pans.

In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, water and sugar until well blended. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just blended. Pour into prepared pans.

Bake for about 50 minutes in the preheated oven. Loaves are done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

I used 1 cup brown sugar and 2 cups white sugar. Many of the reviewers on allrecipes.com reduced the sugar and/or substituted 1/2 cup apple sauce for half of the oil. The texture was absolutely perfect as I made it, so I would not be inclined to modify the wet ingredients, although I did look at the amount of oil and cringe! Other possible modifications are adding nuts or dried cranberries.

This really is an amazingly moist and flavorful bread, perfect for a special treat or to share with friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, or anybody else who likes autumn goodies.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Peanut Clusters

Peanut clusters hold a special place in my heart. My grandma made them every year for the holidays and gave them out to family and friends. They are simple but tasty and keep well, so they make excellent gifts!

16 oz Chocolate CandiQuik
24 oz Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
20 oz Dry Roasted Peanuts

Melt the CandiQuik and chocolate chips together, stirring frequently. Combine peanuts and melted chocolate and spoon onto waxed paper. Let cool completely.

It took me less than an hour to make them today. I opted to melt the chocolate in a saucepan, although microwaving would have been quicker. Cooling time is going to depend on your cooling method and the weather. They can be cooled on a counter top or on trays in the refrigerator or freezer.

Here they are cooling on my counter:

I ended up with 54 clusters. If you need to increase or decrease the recipe at all, the chocolate to peanut ratio is 2 to 1. The exact CandiQuik/chocolate chip ratio is based on package sizes more than anything else and can certainly be adjusted. We don't actually know what proportions my grandma used, but my mom is pretty certain that she used more chocolate chips than CandiQuik.

My grandma used to buy jars of peanuts and then use the jars (washed, label removed) as gift containers. It's a good idea, but you can store them and give them away in any sort of packaging. Festive paper plates and plastic wrap work just as well!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Funnel Cakes

This is a true carnival funnel cake. Light and fluffy. After cooking, dust with powdered sugar and serve hot for a fun and tasty treat. Funnel cake doesn't have to be a once a year event...make it any ight right at home. Make them when you're camping or don't have time to bake. You can pre-mix the dry ingredients and then it is super fast to add the egg and milk for a yummy treat.
1 egg
2/3 cup milk
2 tbsp. sugar
1 1/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1. Beat egg and milk. Mix all other ingredients and slowly add to the egg mixture, beating until smooth. (I used my blender and it worked great)
2. Using a funnel (a refillable mustard/ketchup bottle from Wal-Mart works great. Just snip the tip to widen it), squirt batter into hot oil working from center outwards. When the bottom looks golden, use a fork to turn it. Remove from the oil when golden brown and crispy. Drain on plates covered with paper towels.
3. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and eat up!

*This recipe made about 3 good sized funnel cakes. It's very easy to double, triple etc.

*Tip: I made a huge amount of the dry ingredients and just added milk and eggs to it. When I first guessed how much powder ingredients to add, the batter was too liquidy so it broke into lots of pieces in the pan. If it's not thick enough, it won't all stay together in the oil. Just add a bit more of the powder ingredients and it'll work great.
* Note in the picture the bottle of batter. It works GREAT! I'd highly recommend using something like this for pouring the batter.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


This is the cornbread my mom always made when I was growing up. I love it. It's moist and delicious. We usually top it with butter and honey. I pretty-much follow the recipe but to make it a little healthier, I substitute wheat germ for half of the flour. Can't taste a difference although it might be a little more crumbly.

Aka: Krusty Korn Kob

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

1 cup cornmeal
1 cup white flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons sugar
1 ¼ cups milk
1 beaten egg
2 tablespoons oil

Mix cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar together. In a separate bowl mix together egg, milk, and shortening. Add and stir just enough to moisten. Bake in well oiled pan. ( I use a cassarole dish but my mom always used about a 9x9" pan.) Cook at 425 degrees for 20 minutes. I usually have to give it another five minutes or so before the center is fully done. The top should crack if it's done.

Parmesan Corn Chowder

Ready in 45 min or less

2 cups water
2 cups diced peeled potatoes
½ cup sliced carrots
¼ cup chopped onion
¼ cup butter or margarine
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
2 cups milk
1 can (14 ¾ ounce) cream style corn
1 ½ cups (6 ounces) shredded Parmesan cheese

In a large saucepan, combine the first four ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 12-15 minutes or until vegetables are tender (do not drain).

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt butter. Stir in flour, salt and pepper until smooth; gradually stir in milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Stir into the vegetable mixture. Add corn and Parmesan cheese. Cook 10 minutes longer or until heated through.

Yield: 7 servings

A great side dish is corn bread. Look for a great cornbread recipe in the sidebar under "bread."

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sweet 'n' Spicy Chicken

From Taste of Home Winning Recipes

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
3 tablespoons taco seasoning
1 to 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 jar (11 ounces) chunky salsa
1/2 cup peach preserves
Hot cooked rice

Place the chicken in a large resealable plastic bag; add taco seasoning and toss to coat. IN a skillet, brown chicken in oil. Combine salsa and preserves; stir into skillet. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 2-3 minutes or until meat juices run clear. Serve over rice. Serves 4.

I actually served over bow tie pasta since that's what I had on hand and it was quicker than making rice. The amount of taco seasoning and kind of salsa can be varied according to how spicy you want it to be.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Lobster & Corn Chowder

Okay, I know this blog is designed for everyday cooking, but there are times when we want to make something really special. This is a fabulous soup and it comes together easily when you follow the directions. It's a special occasion dish, however, as lobster is not cheap and this isn't the healthiest soup in the world! The recipe serves 2.

From The Pampered Chef's Cooking for Two and More

Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: About 45 minutes

1 8 ounce uncooked lobster tail (about 10 ounces in shell)
2 tablespoons butter, divided
2 tablespoons brandy, divided (optional)
1 small leek (white and light green parts only), thinly sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 bottles (8 ounces each) clam juice
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large red potato, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup fresh corn kernels
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
Thyme sprigs (optional)

1. Remove lobster meat from shell (see notes below); cut into 1-inch pieces. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a 1.5 quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add lobster; cook 5-7 minutes or until edges of lobster begin to brown, stirring occasionally. Remove lobster from pan; set aside. If desired, add 1 tablespoon of the brandy to pan (if not using brandy, use water); stir to loosen browned bits from bottom of pan using a whisk.

2. Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in same saucepan over medium heat. Add leek and thyme; cook and stir 1 minute or until slightly softened. Whisk in flour; cook 1 minute. Slowly whisk in clam juice, tomato paste and salt; bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium-low. Add potato; simmer, covered, 5 minutes. Stir in corn; cover and cook 10 minutes or until potato is tender.

3. Stir in cream; simmer gently just until heated through. Remove from heat; add lobster and remaining 1 tablespoon brandy, if desired. Ladle soup into bowls; garnish with thyme sprigs, if desired.

Notes from recipe:
Browning the lobster meat in butter not only gives it an appetizing color but intensifies the flavor and adds depth to the soup.

For best browning, allow the butter to foam up before adding the lobster and cook undisturbed for the first few minutes. Deglazing with brandy highlights the sweetness and releases all of the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

To remove lobster meat from the shell, cut down center of top and bottom of lobster shell with kitchen shears; pull shell apart.

My notes:
I did not use brandy, and the taste of the soup was wonderful, so don't go out and buy brandy just for this recipe!

I made this during winter (March 1 - I remember because it was the day that my grandmother died, sadly), so fresh corn wasn't the best choice. I used frozen corn and it turned out just fine. The local grocery store also does not carry leeks, so I used a small white onion instead.

I found clam juice in the seafood section of the grocery store. It happened to be in the first store I went to (I had chosen the store because I knew for sure they sold lobster tails), so I don't know how easy it might be to find. The lobster tail I purchased was frozen, so you may want to make sure you pick up the lobster with enough time to safely thaw it out. I saw that they had thawed lobster on display and assumed that mine would be thawed already. After a few hours in the refrigerator, they were still mostly frozen!

If you are buying fresh thyme to put in the soup, definitely use it as garnish as well. Special occasion soup deserves that extra touch! I also served this in my "fancy" dishes and made the table (which was actually 4 TV trays put together!) look nice with a tablecloth, place mats, cloth napkins and candles. The effect was very nice and made an ordinary, poorly furnished dining room into something special!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Rice Hot Dish

This recipe is a family favorite, and it comes with a story. It is a recipe passed through my mom's family by her aunt, so it has been around for a long time. I had no idea what it was actually called, however, as the Pooles have their own name for it. When I was a kid, it was tradition to bring the dog(s) to family meals. Each dog would have a plate of leftovers made up for them after dinner with everything mixed together. Someone made the observation that this dish resembles the concoction fed to the dogs, so we always call it "dog food"! It has a somewhat lengthy cook time, but I think it tastes great reheated the next day, so if you have time today but know that you won't have much time tomorrow, this might be a nice option. As with another recipe, this one isn't the prettiest looking food, as the family name for it implies, so it may not be the first thing you feed guests, but I think it's delicious!

1 lb ground beef
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 cans water
3 T soy or Worcestershire sauce
1/2-3/4 cup rice, uncooked

Brown the ground beef and cook the celery and onion. This can be done all together or separately. I find that it's easier to cook them all together. Mix the ingredients together and pour into a 2 quart or larger casserole dish. Bake, uncovered, at 325 for 1 1/2-2 hours. Stir before serving.

This is what it looks like just out of the oven. The 2 quart dish I use is quite full, but it has never bubbled over on me.

And once it is stirred and served:

Beef Stew with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

I thought for my first post that I would share a fall/winter classic. This is a pretty basic and very tasty beef stew recipe. It comes from Betty Crocker's Slow Cooker Cookbook. I don't have a picture to offer, unfortunately.

1 cup sun-dried tomatoes (not oil-packed)
1 1/2 pounds beef stew meat
12 medium new potatoes (1 1/2 pounds), cut in half
1 medium onion, cut into 8 wedges
1 bag (8 ounces) baby-cut carrots (about 30)
2 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup cold water
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1. Soak tomatoes in water as directed on package; drain and coarsly chop.
2. Mix tomatoes and remaining ingredients except 1/4 cup water and the flour in 3 1/2- to 6-quart slow cooker.
3. Cover and cook on low heat setting 8 to 9 hours (of high heat setting 3 to 5 hours) or until beef and vegetables are tender.
4. Mix 1/4 cup water and the flour; gradually stir into beef mixture.
5. Cover and cook on high heat setting 10 to 15 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove bay leaf.

I've made the stew using both the high and low heat settings and really recommend using the low heat setting. The meat and vegetables are all more tender and the flavors all blend together better. The directions do not tell you to brown the meat before you add it to the crock pot, but it will have better flavor if you do. I have also used meat tenderizer (unflavored) and added dried celery flakes. The celery flakes rehydrate nicely and add an nice complimentary flavor. Any kind of potatoes will work, but I found that using a few different varieties together gives the stew additional character.

It took me around 30 minutes to get the stew started, and the time required for soaking the tomatoes is adequate for chopping, measuring or browning the rest of the ingredients.

The recipe says that it serves 6, but I find that it really serves 4 adults.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Whole Wheat Chicken Pot Pie

EDIT: Amanda made this for me when I was visiting and I loved it so much I was literally dreaming about it that night. It was just as good when I made it at home. Here are a few pictures I took of it. The only change I made was that I used mostly fat-free sour cream and couldn't taste a difference.

So I haven't posted anything on here in a while, but since Megan asked for this recipe (I just made this for her when she was in Denver this weekend), I thought this would be the easiest way to get it to her. And, perhaps, some of you will enjoy the recipe too! :)

I can't take all credit for this...its basically two recipes I mixed from "Crisco American Pie Celebration", with a few tweaks to make it faster.

Whole Wheat Chicken Pot Pie

Pie Crust

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup fine whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp baking powder
2/3 cup Crisco
5-10 Tbsp cold water (when making a pie crust, you just have to eye-ball how much water to use)

1. Combine flour, whole wheat flour, salt, and baking powder in bowl. Cut in Crisco using pastry blender (or two knives) until flour is blended in to form pea-sized chunks.
2. Sprinkle with water one Tbsp at a time. Toss lightly with fork until dough will form a ball. Divide dough into two parts. Press between hands to form two 5-6 inch "pancakes".
3. Flour rolling surface and pin lightly. Roll dough for bottom crust into circle and trim one inch larger than upside down 9in pie plate. Loosen dough carefully, and slide into pie plate. Trim edge even with pie plate.
4. Roll out second crust, and let sit while you make filling.

Pie Filling
3 Tbsp butter
1 small onion, diced
3-4 cups mixed frozen vegetables (usually carrots, green beans, corn and lima beans...I just eyeball how much to use)
2 green onion tops, chopped
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1 can (10 1/2 oz.) condensed cream of chicken soup
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
3/4 cup chopped cooked chicken

1. Heat oven to 425degrees
2. Melt butter in saucepan. Add onion. Cook until tender. Add the frozen veggies. Cook until soft and no longer frozen.
3. Combine sour cream and chicken soup in a bowl.
4. Take veggies off heat and mix in green onion tops, sour cream/soup mixture, cheese, salt & pepper, and chicken.
5. Spoon into unbaked pie shell.
6. Cover with top crust. Fold top edge under bottom crust. Flute with fingers or fork. Cut slits or design in top crust or prick with fork for escape of steam.
7. Bake for 20-25minutes or until crust is golden brown.
8. After baking, let sit for 5 minutes, then cut into large wedges and serve warm. Won't necessarily hold its pie shape, but as my hubby always reminds me, it doesn't have to look good if it tastes good.


Saturday, August 23, 2008

Plan Your Meals and Save Money, Time & Frustration

When my sister was visiting me in CO, she told me how she plans all her meals for the entire month and then does all the shopping at once. She only goes back to the store during the month for little things she might need...milk, fresh fruit/veggies etc. She kept talking about it but in my mind I was always finding reasons why it would be too hard for me to do.

When I went to California, I saw her meal plan in action and decided I NEEDED to try it. I am one of those shoppers who typically goes to the store with a small list of things I'm running out of and then just buys anything that suits my fancy thinking I'll use it at some point. I end up throwing a lot of fresh food away because it spoils and I buy canned food that sits in my cupboard for months and months often until things expire and also need to be thrown away.

Here's how Sarah does her planning.

1. Get a calendar and just write down meals for each day (she and I both skip Saturday as it's a more get-what-you-can-find-day). She writes a main dish item and usually a veggie and sometimes a side-dish like biscuits. This doesn't actually take that much time and if you plan ahead, when a new dish pops into your mind, you can add it to the next month so you have less to think about when the time comes. It's very helpful as well if you plan meals for items you need to use up in your cupboard. IE. I have two cans of beans I bought planning on doing something with them. They've been in my cupboard for awhile so I decided to use them to make chili. This uses up those "I'll use it someday" items that sit around forever. If you have guests, you can always shuffle meals around if needed because you have all the ingredients. Also, if you save your lists, you can use them in subsequent years.

2. Make a list of everything you'll need for the month. This also doesn't take too long because your recipes are right at your fingertips and you can easily check your cupboards/fridge/freezer to see what you have/don't have.

3. Go shopping. Sarah and I made it to 5 stores in 2 1/2 hours! (Not all of them grocery stores...we ran some errands while we were out). We went to Costco and Foodmax for all our shopping needs and spent WAY less than I normally would because we stuck to the list and only bought one or two items that weren't actually on the list. You don't see something and think "Oh, I could use this sometime" because you already know what you NEED for an entire month! It makes shopping MUCH quicker and saves a LOT of money.

4. Go home and prep and label. If you puchase steaks or meats that have a specific purpose, it's a good idea to wash them and freeze them in the portion size you'll need for that dish and label it so it's easy to find what you need when the day comes.

I immediately came home from CA and started doing the monthly meal planning and I am proud to say that I cooked dinner every night this week and didn't dread it. I always hate trying to think of something at the last minute that I have all of the ingredients for. My meals were also healthier as I actually planned veggies into the meal instead of forgetting to make them until it's too late. My husband is one who always asks "What's for dinner?" before he gets off work and often wants to change my mind if he has something else he'd prefer. With this method, it eliminates that because he can SEE what's for dinner ahead of time. I hope you'll at least try this for a month or two and see what you think. I never want to go back and I'm excited to see how much money I'll save on my grocery bill each month.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Italian Chicken Noodle Skillet

Fast and easy, this recipe is wonderful for a quick dinner - especially if you happen to already have all the ingredients on hand!

Italian Chicken Noodle Skillet

1-3/4 cups egg noodles (or other pasta)
1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes in sauce
1 10.75oz can cream of chicken soup, undiluted
2 cups cubed cooked chicken breast
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Cook noodles according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet stir in tomatoes and soup until blended. Stir in the chicken, Parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning.

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered for 5-8 minutes or until heated through. Drain noodles; stir into skillet. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese; cover until cheese is melted.

Makes: 4 servings
Time: 20 minutes

Spaghetti & Meatballs

Spaghetti & Meatballs

1 12oz pkg spaghetti or angel hair
1 28oz jar spaghetti sauce
1 batch of 30 meatballs (frozen or thawed)
Grated Parmesan cheese, optional

Cook spaghetti according to package directions. (I usually only make enough pasta for one meal - since the sauce & meatballs lasts my husband and I two meals, I cook up fresh pasta each night and just re-heat the sauce)

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, combine spaghetti sauce and meatballs; cover and simmer for 10-20 minutes or until the meatballs are heated through, depending on if they're frozen or thawed.

Serve over spaghetti; top with Parmesan cheese if desired.

Yield: 4 servings.
Time: 20 min.

Make-Ahead Meatballs

Here's my first post on here! Sorry it's taken so long. :) These meatballs are yummy and this recipe makes 5 batches, so you can use one right away and freeze the other 4 to use later. Very "busy-mom" friendly! You'll need to devote a chunk of time to making them the first time, but once they're made, you can make any meatball recipe using homemade (and less expensive than store-bought) meatballs. A couple of our favorite meatball recipes are tried-and-true Spaghetti & Meatballs and Sweet & Sour Meatballs.
Make-Ahead Meatballs

4 eggs
2 cups dry bread crumbs
½ cup finely chopped onion
1 tbsp salt
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp white pepper
4 lbs lean ground beef

In a large bowl, beat eggs. Add the next five ingredients. Add beef; mix well (using your hands is easiest!). Shape into 1-in. balls, about 12 dozen.

(Alternate method for preparing the balls: Lightly pat meat mixture into a 1-in.-thick rectangle. Cut the rectangle into the same number of squares as meatballs in the recipe. Gently roll each square into a ball.)

Option #1 for cooking balls (my favorite since it's easier to turn them and it doesn't heat up the kitchen as much): Place one batch of meatballs (about 30) in a non-stick skillet. Turn occasionally until brown on all sides. Remove to a plate with paper towels to cool & repeat with the next batch.

Option #2 for cooking balls: Place in single layers in ungreased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pans. Bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until no longer pink, turning often; drain. Cool on plates covered in paper towels.

Place about 30 meatballs each into freezer containers. May be frozen for up to 3 months.

Yield: 5 batches (about 30 meatballs per batch).
Time: 1 hour.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Bran Flax Muffins

Okay, so I'm on a bit of a health kick right now. I try to find recipes that are yummy but also healthy. When I was at the grocery store, I purchased flaxseed meal and wheat germ not really knowing how I would use them. I found this recipe on the back of the flaxseed meal and it turned out great!

Recipe from the bag of Bob’s Red Mill Whole Ground Flaxseed Meal

1 ½ cups unbleached white flour
¾ cup flaxseed meal
¾ cup oat bran (I substituted wheat germ)
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 ½ cups carrots, shredded
2 apples, shredded (I left the peel on)
½ cup raisins (optional)
1 cup nuts (I used pecans)
¾ cup milk
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix together flour, flaxseed meal, bran, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl. Stir in carrots, apples, raisins and nuts. Combine milk, beaten eggs and vanilla. Pour liquid ingredients into dry ingredients. Stir until ingredients are moistened. Do not over mix. Fill muffin cups ¾ full. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15-20 minutes. Yields 15 medium muffins.

I ended up baking the muffins for around 20-25 minutes. When I made the recipe, I ended up with 24 regular sized muffins.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Cinnamon Pecans

I made these for Christmas presents last year and everyone loved them. They're easy to make and taste delicious!! For a nice gift idea, decorate a pretty jar or tin and add the nuts when they're cool.

• 1 egg white
• 1 tablespoon water
• 1 pound pecans
• 3/4 cup white sugar
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon *
• 1 teaspoon salt
1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F (120 degrees C).
2. In a large bowl, beat egg white with water until frothy. Stir in pecans and mix to coat. Combine sugar, cinnamon and salt and stir into pecan mixture. Spread on a baking sheet.
3. Bake in preheated oven 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Cool on wax paper. Store in an airtight container.
*I tend to put double or triple the amount of cinnamon in. Just add as much as you’d like. I also found that it’s best to bake it in a glass baking dish because it makes it easier to stir without shoving pecans off into the stove.

I originally found this recipe on allrecipes.com. It’s easy and delicious!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Kabob Marinade

Yesterday I was looking for a good marinade to use on some beef and vegetable kabobs. When I was on allrecipes.com I found two recipes that sounded good. I liked the liquids in one of them and the seasonings in the other so I combined the two added an ingredient of my own and ended up with a DELICIOUS marinade! Definitely worth making again.

Megan's Kabob Marinade

¼ olive oil
½ cup Yoshida’s Original Gourmet Sweet and Savory Sauce (I found mine at Costco)
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
2 teaspoons prepared mustard
2 teaspoons McCormick® Grill Mates® Montreal Chicken Seasoning
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
¼ teaspoon meat tenderizer (optional)

Before you put the kabobs on the grill I would recommend sprinkling them with a bit more seasoning...montreal chicken, italian or just a little salt and garlic. Whatever you like best.

This recipe can be used with beef, chicken or other preferred meats. I made the above recipe without the meat tenderizer but I think next time I would use it if I wasn't marinading overnight. If you don't have the Yoshida's sauce (which is great to have around) you can probably make something similar using Teriyaki and soy sauce.

I cubed just over 1 lb of steak and used half of the marinade on the steak. The other half I used to marinade the veggies with. Here are some ideas of good grilling veggies:
Peppers, mushrooms, baby corn, yellow squash, cherry tomatoes, pineapple, small pieces of corn on the cob, asparagus, artichokes, eggplant, zucchini, scallions, and onions.

Depending on the veggies you choose to use, you may not want to marinade them as long as you do the meat. Some of them also need to be grilled longer or pre-cooked before being skewered or they'll be too raw. Ie. my squash was too hard to eat.

Enjoy! It's quick to throw together...you just have to plan ahead as it needs a few hours minimum to marinade.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Strawberry Whipped Sensation

Source: The Good Housekeeping Magazine

4 cup fresh strawberries, divided
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tub (8 oz) cool whip, divided
8 OREO cookies, finely chopped
1 Tbsp butter, melted

Line 8x4 inch loaf pan with foil. Mash 2 cups of strawberries in large bowl. Stir in condensed milk, juice, and 2 cups of cool whip. Pour into pan.
Combine chopped cookies and butter. Press into top of strawberry mixture in the pan. Cover.

Freeze at least 6 hrs. To serve, invert onto plate. Remove foil. Frost with remaining cool whip. Top with remaining sliced strawberries.

Makes 12 servings.
We made this at my sister's house. It was really easy to make (just remember to plan ahead, because it should be put in the freezer over night). A perfect dessert for a hot day.

Chicken Roche

Source: All Recipes.com (http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Chicken-Roche/Detail.aspx?src=etaf)

I have a tendency to not follow recipes to the "T" because I usually don't have all of the ingredients that are needed and don't like to go to the store just for a recipe. The way I made it (as pictured above) is: no vegetable oil, added mushrooms, used 1/2 can of tomato paste (diluted with water) instead of the canned tomatoes, used frozen green beans, and used Cookies dry rub instead of Creole seasoning (if you've never heard of Cookies, then you MUST make a trip to Iowa and buy some - or have a friend buy you some, because it's the BEST seasoning in the entire world - Thanks to Lindsey B. for introducing me to it!)

I thought it would be too spicy with 1 1/2 Tbsp of Chili powdered, but it wasn't (though, with Creole seasoning it might have been spicier). We really enjoyed this recipe.

Chicken Roche

Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 25 Minutes
Ready In: 40 Minutes
Yields: 4 servings


1 cup uncooked long grain white rice
2 cups water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut into strips
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (14.5 ounce) can green beans, drained
1 tablespoon Creole seasoning
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder


1. In a pot, bring the rice and water to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 20 minutes.
2. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat, and cook the chicken strips 10 minutes, or until browned and juices run clear.
3. In a saucepan over medium-low heat, mix the black beans, diced tomatoes, green beans, Creole seasoning, and chili powder. Cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through.
4. Mix the chicken into the bean and tomato mixture, and continue cooking 5 minutes. Serve over the rice.

Turkey A La Matt

Source: All Recipes.com (http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Turkey-a-la-Matt/Detail.aspx?src=etaf)

What I love about this recipe is that it tastes like a pot pie without doing all of the work for a crust. I substitute chicken for the turkey, regular onion for the pearl onions, and Ritz crackers for the saltines.

Turkey A La Matt

Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 55 Minutes
Ready In: 1 Hour 10 Minutes
Yields: 6 servings

1 1/2 pounds turkey breast, cooked and cubed
2 carrots, diced
2 potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 cup frozen green peas
1 (4.5 ounce) can mushrooms, drained
1/2 cup pearl onions
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 cup crushed saltine crackers

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. Place the turkey breasts in a medium pot of boiling water over high heat. After about 5 minutes add the diced carrots and cubed potatoes to the pot and boil all for about 5 more minutes. Drain the water and transfer the vegetables to a medium bowl.
3. To the bowl add the peas, mushrooms, onions, chicken soup and mushroom soup. Cube the cooked turkey breasts and stir into the mixture. Mix together well and spread the mixture into a 2-quart casserole dish. Top with the coarsely crushed saltine crackers.
4. Cover and bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 to 40 minutes.

Russian Cucumber/Tomato Salad

6 Tomatoes
2 Cucumbers
1/2 C Sour cream
3 Green onions, finely chopped
Salt & black pepper (to taste)
1 sprig fresh Dill, finely chopped

Cut tomatoes and cucumbers into large bite-sized pieces. Mix in remaining ingredients. (If preparing in advance, don't mix in the sour cream until ready to serve.)

Source: Kate & Elena

This is a great dish for a hot summer day.

Crock-pot Split Pea Soup

Serves: 8

1 (16 oz.) pkg. dried green split peas, rinsed
1-2 cups diced ham
1/2 chopped onion
2 tsp. salt (or to taste)
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
6 cups water

Combine all ingredients in the crock-pot. Cook on High 4-6 hours, or Low 8-10 hours.

Source: Melody G.

My roommate, Melody, made this for me once. I think she basically made it up. It was so yummy and easy that it's my "Go To" recipe when we're having company.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Cornish Hens with Raisen Rice Stuffing

Cornish Hens A’La Orange
(Use Raisin Rice Stuffing)

2 Cornish hens

In roasting pans:
Melt ¼ cup butter
Add salt, pepper, garlic to taste
1/8 cup lemon juice
3/8 cup orange juice

Stuff hens with rice stuffing.
Roast hens 20 mins. Turn over; baste with O.J. Roast until done. (Approx. 20-60 min)
Remove from pan. Add remainder fruit juices to pan juices. Boil and strain to make gravy. Thicken.

Raisin Rice Stuffing
Makes 9 servings

1 cup cooked raw rice (½ white, ½ wild rice)
¾ cup raisin’s (soak 10 mins in wine)
1/2 cup white wine

Sauté shallots, add raisins & wine:
1/2 cup chopped shallots
¼ cup margarine
½ teaspoon salt

1/2 cup sliced almonds

Cook a few minutes then fill Cornish hens.

I often make the stuffing by itself and just add lemon and orange juice to it for flavor. This dish also works with chicken breasts instead of cornish hens. It's a nice "fancy" meal for company. It's also easy to adjust for few or many people.

Pineapple Chicken

1 ½ cup catsup
1 can pineapple chunks (drained)
½ cup brown sugar
1/3 cup white wine

Mix above ingredients together and pour mixture over chicken in a 9x13 pan. My mom always served this with thighs and legs but my husband prefers breasts as he hates chicken on the bone. I think the thighs and legs turn out moister but either works. Use about 5-8 pieces of chicken whatever fits in the pan.
Bake chicken pieces 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Salt and pepper if desired. Serve over white or brown rice.

Side dish suggestions: green salad, rolls

This dish is really fast to make and tastes delicious.

Asian Chicken Salad

When I was pregnant, we had a Christmas party and one of the women brought this dish. I know I had seconds, maybe even thirds...it was SOOO YUMMY! It didn't have chicken in it but I added the chicken and changed the name. (It makes a lot so I would recommend halving it unless you're feeding a lot of people).

Chinese Salad

From the kitchen of Becca Reeder

2 heads chinese (napa) cabbage (bite size pieces)
6 green onions, sliced
2 packages roman noodles ( broken and w/out seasoning)
4-6 oz. sliced almonds
1 stick butter


1 cup oil
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup cider vinegar
2 Tbls soy sauce
1/4 tsp.cayenne pepper

Brown noodles & almonds in butter, drain well in paper towels.
Slice onions, mix with cold cabbage
Mix all and pour dressing over all.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Bengali Coconut Chicken Curry

2 lbs chicken
½ cup finely chopped onions
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground garlic
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
¾-1 ½ cup plain yogurt
¼- ¾ cup cooking oil
½ cup thick coconut milk

Cut chicken into either bite sized pieces or larger pieces. Except coconut milk, combine all ingredients in a saucepan, mix well. Cover and cook over a medium heat for about 25 minutes.

Add coconut milk. Cover and keep over a low heat, stir from time to time. When meat is tender, gravy is thick and oil surfaces, remove from heat. (If curry is too thin, mix cornstarch with water and add slowly a little at a time.)

Serve with porotas or nan and salad. Makes 8 servings.

I often change this recipe to my own tastes. Keep similar proportions but you can use more yogurt and less oil for a healthier recipe. Depending on what you want, add more spices, coconut milk, chicken, etc.

I used to make this for my girl-friends in high school. Many of them are now making it themselves because they liked it so much.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Pumpkin Pie Pudding

2 individual pudding cups of vanilla pudding

1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
dash of nutmeg
dash of ginger
whisk it all together and top with whipped cream....YUMMY!
It really tastes exactly like pumpkin pie!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Strawberry Salad

This simple summer salad is perfect when you're in the mood for a light meal and you can't bear the thought of turning on the oven.
The orginal recipe calls for raspberries, but since my husband greatly prefers strawberries, I modified it. If you like raspberries, feel free to substitute! I also use sugar-free jam (made with Splenda), but any variety will work.
original recipe by Dr. Arthur Agatston
Serves: 4 (or 2 with lunch-sized leftovers)
1/4 cup strawberry jam
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3/4 pound boneless smoked chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces (Tyson's honey roasted or grilled chicken strips are fantastic)
6 cups mesclun mix
2 cups fresh sliced strawberries
1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds (try Sunkist's Almond Accents if you don't have time to toast your own)
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together jam, oil, and vinegar until combined.
2. Gently toss the chicken with the dressing.
3. Divide greens among 4 plates and top with chicken mixture, strawberries, and almonds.
4. Enjoy!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Chicken a la King

So, I haven't made this one yet, but I'm planning to make it this weekend. If it do, I'll upload photos. It's one of the featured "5 in 30" recipes in my Giant Supermarket mailer this week (5 ingredients - not counting the oil - with 30 minute prep time).

Chicken a la King
serves: 4

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 tube refrigerated biscuits (4.5 oz)
2 cups frozen peas and carrots
1 can (10.75 oz) cream of celery soup
1/4 C + 2Tbsp half-and-half
1 Tbsp oil

Preheat oven according to directions on biscuits. Cut chicken into small chunks. Brown in large skillet in 1 Tbsp oil, stirring frequently (about 5-6 minutes). Bake biscuits in oven as directed on package. Meanwhile, add frozen peas and carrots to skillet with chicken. Mix in soup and half-and-half. Simmer 5-10 minutes on medium-low heat, while biscuits bake. Serve chicken a la king over biscuit halves.

Nutrition Information Per Serving (with one whole biscuit) is:
350 calories, 15 g total fat, 4 g saturated fat, 80 mg cholesterol, 25 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 29 g protein, 980 mg sodium

I'll let you know if I actually make it or not :)

Friday, April 18, 2008

Cottage Cheese Pancakes


Make small pancakes for them to turn out right

They should be slightly brown when fully done

Easy, fast, high-protein breakfast, lunch or dinner. This is one of my all-time favorite fast meals. My husband doesn't like "breakfast for dinner" which is when I prefer it so I often make it for just myself. The recipe is a sinch to modify for 1 person or many people. It's really all about finding the right consistency. I'll include the "original" recipe and then tell you some changes that can be made to it if you want it healthier.

From the kitchen of: Rhonda Trevethick.
Prepare time: a few minutes

Mix together:
3 eggs
1 cup cottage cheese
¼ cup flour (ww or white)
2 tablespoons melted butter
Dash of salt

Cook large dollar size cakes in frying pan with butter. Eat! (Make sure you let them cook long enough to cook the egg).

It's really just that simple. 1 bowl, 1 pan makes for EASY cleanup.

Here's what I usually do when I make this for myself.
ONE person recipe:
1 or 2 eggs (depends on how hungry I am...I usually can't eat an entire recipe if I use 2 eggs but they heat up well the next day.)
about 3/4-1 cup cottage cheese (I never actually measure, just eyeball it)
1/4 cup flour (whole wheat or regular works well. Sometimes I use 1/2 and 1/2)
I skip the butter and just add a dash or two of seasoned salt
The consistency should be similar to cooked oatmeal before you cook it.
In the pan, I fry in a small amount of either olive oil or butter.
I always eat it with cold applesauce. Syrup works too but I love the applesauce with this recipe.

The SUPER healthy version:(it's not as tasty but still tastes good)
Use only egg whites, whole wheat flour, fat-free cottage cheese and olive oil in the amounts listed above. Can't get much healthier!

I used whole-wheat in this recipe which makes them browner than if you use regular white flour.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Chili Meatloaf

I know what you're thinking... "meatloaf?! What, are we in the 1950s?!"... that's exactly what I thought when I came across this recipe (plus I've always hated meatloaf!). But I got the "Splenda" cookbook as my hubby has Type 1 Diabetes and I'm always looking for ways to cut out carbs and sugar. (I've done a fair amount of experimenting with Splenda, and I have to say that its not too bad!) What I love best about this meatloaf is that it is a little spicier than traditional meatloaf, which makes it really good! (I grew up on a lot of Mexican food, so I love spicy!) Enjoy!

Chili Meatloaf

Source: Splenda Cook Book

Yield: Serves 4

1 c tomato sauce, divided
3 Tbsp Splenda Granular, divided
2 tsp yellow mustard
1 ½ tsp chili powder, divided
1 Tbsp dried onion flakes
1 Tbsp dried parsley flakes
½ tsp salt
1 lb extra-lean ground turkey or beef (I use turkey, but I’ve also tried it with ground venison!)
¼ c Italian seasoned bread crumbs

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9x5 loaf pan with cooking spray.
2. Mix 1/3 c tomato sauce, 2 Tbs Splenda, mustard, 1 tsp chili powder, onion flakes, parsley, and salt in large bowl.
3. Add ground meat and bread crumbs; stir well.
4. Shape the mixture into the pan.
5. Mix remaining tomato sauce, chili powder, and Splenda together in a small bowl. Spoon mixture over the meat mixture.
6. Bake 55-60 minutes. Remove and cool for 3-5min before slicing.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Chicken Main Dish

This is my favorite dinner that I always request on my birthday or when I'm visiting my mom. It's super fast to make and can be frozen (without the breadcrumbs) and cooked later. I didn't like mushrooms growing up until I realized that my favorite dish had mushrooms in it. They're not overpowering but if you're not a mushroom person, you can leave them out and change the soup to cream of chicken (I don't think it's as tasty but that's how my sister makes it.)

Chicken Main Dish

Preheat oven to 350.

5-6 chicken breasts: Cook in boiling water and de-bone if needed, cut into bite size pieces.

Mix together with:
1 large can mushrooms (8 ounces) or sautéed.
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 pint sour cream (can be fat-free or regular)

Pour mixture into 9x13 baking dish.

Melt 1/2 stick of margarine with 1/2 bag of seasoned Pepperidge Farms Stuffing (crushed) and pour over top of above mixture to make topping. Bake 350 degrees until brown on top and thoroughly heated. The creamy part will be bubbling up around the sides.

Corn Moussaka

Sounds funny...tastes great!

Thank you Rachel, Amanda and Georgia for posting recipes on Everyday Meals! Thank you Sarah for reviewing the Creamy White Chilli after you made it. Comments are always helpful! I want people to feel free to join and post as often as they'd like whether I know you or not. (Hey, I want ideas too!) Remember, if you want to join, just leave a comment with your email address or email me at myswimlessons at yahoo dot com. You do not need to feel like you have to have a photo to post. It's great if you do, but others who make the meal can also log-on and post photos later.

Now for the recipe.

Corn Moussaka

Makes 6 servings.

Preheat oven at 350 degrees.

1 15-17-ounce can whole kernel corn, drained (the large size)
1 ½ pounds ground beef/turkey
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 slightly beaten eggs
1 ½ cups cottage cheese
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 4-ounce package (1 cup) shredded mozzarella cheese
Slivered almonds (optional)

Spread corn in an ungreased shallow 1 ½-quart casserole or a 10x6x2-inch baking dish. In medium skillet brown ground beef or turkey; drain off excess fat and juices. Add flour; cook and stir for 1 minute. Stir in tomato sauce, garlic salt, and cinnamon; pour over corn in dish. Bake in 350 degree oven for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, combine eggs and cottage cheese; spread over meat mixture. Top with Parmesan and mozzarella; sprinkle nuts over, if desired. Bake 10 to 15 minutes more.

Tip: I made this for the first time with ground turkey and it turned out great! You can use any type of cottage cheese as well. Enjoy!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Vegetable Egg Drop Soup

i hope it's okay to post a recipe that i just made up. i'm sure it's a real recipe somewhere though. :)

this is what we're having for lunch today.

do not worry about amounts, just use however much seems right considering the size of your pot and the amount of soup you want to make. i suggest making a lot so you will have something to put in your husbands lunch later on.

use chicken stock or broth (is there a difference?) and boil the following vegetables in it until the carrots are sortof soft.

sliced baby carrots
sliced celery
chopped onion
minced garlic

add frozen peas and corn. return to boil. add elbow macaroni noodles & boil 7 min. add salt.

at some point remove some of the broth and put into another little pot. bring it to a boil and pour a thin stream of beaten eggs while stirring the broth. if you don't want to mess with the egg business, use cooked chicken or ground beef instead. today i didn't feel like thawing & cooking chicken, so i used eggs like an Asian.

when the noodles are cooked, add the egg mixture back to the pot.
i also added chopped green onions toward the end (negi, negi).

dish it up and let it cool off a little before calling your husband to the table so that he doesn't have to sit there and wait. or, if he typically prays long prayers, go ahead and call him right away, so it doesn't get too cold. :)

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Veggie Ice Cubes

This is a healthy tip post.

Because I'm not a big veggie fan but know that I need them, I've taken to pureeing veggies and using them as I cook or make smoothies. I have a vita mix that can puree raw veggies pretty easy. If your blender can't handle this, you may be able to do the same thing in a food processor with some liquid added. One of the recipes I have for a bunch of soups uses veggies as the base and you just change certain ingredients to make different soups. I've just taken to pureeing the base veggies and freezing them into ice cube trays and then using them in sauces (we eat spaghetti sauce a lot), meatloaf etc. I also make a sweet version with veggies that I use in smoothies.

I blend the following until they are smooth and creamy. I usually double or triple the following recipes and it makes about 2-3 ice cube trays. I then use 4-5 cubes each time I make sauces. The more sauce I have, the more cubes I use. I just try to keep the flavor of the sauce without having the veggie taste be noticeable.

Savory Veggies:
1 large carrot
1-2 mushrooms
1-2 inches of yellow squash
1 celery stalk (with leaves)
1 green onion (with entire stalk)
1-2 garlic cloves (optional)
2-4 roma tomatoes

Sweet Veggies:
1 sweet potatoe (with skin...it's more nutritious)
A few roma tomatoes
Spinach (optional)
Yellow Squash

When you puree the sweet veggies and freeze them in ice cube trays, just add a couple to your fruit smoothies and you'll be getting filling veggies without even tasting it. You just have to make sure the fruits you use are sweet enough so you don't taste the veggies. I based this mixture on ingredients I found on the V-8 fruit/veggie smoothie drinks that are really yummy but expensive. It's easier and cheaper to make my own.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Sunday Roast Chicken

I originally posted this recipe on my family blog. Decided it would be nice to add it to Everyday Meals as well.

This is a crockpot dish, healthy and costs very little per person to make. If you like flavorful food you'll love this! You end up with a whole cooked chicken and gravy which tastes great served over rice.
Recipe originates from: Fix it and Forget It Recipes for Entertaining. The recipe is called "Sunday Roast Chicken" and was created by Ruth A Feister.

Sunday Roast Chicken
Makes 4-5 servings

Seasoning Mix:
2 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. pepper
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. onion powder
1 1/2 tsp. garlic
1 1/2 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. savory

2 Tbsp. butter
2 cups chopped onions
1 cup chopped green pepper
1 roasting chicken
1/4 cup flour
1-2 cups chicken stock

1. Combine seasoning mix ingredients in a small bowl.
2. Melt butter over high heat in skillet. When butterstarts to sizzle, add chopped onions and peppers, and 3 Tbsp. seasoning mix. Cook until onions are golden brown. Cool.
3. Stuff cavity of chicken with cooled vegetables.
4. Sprinkle outside of chicken with1 Tbsp. seasoning mix. Rub in well.
5. Place chicken in large slow cooker. (Although it may seem strange, you do NOT need to add any liquids at this point. The chicken and vegetables create the liquid.)
6. Cover. Cook on low 6 hours. (I cooked on Medium/High about 3 hours and it turned out perfect).
7. Remove chicken from slow cooker and debone. (Mine fell apart removing it so I had to debone it. You can serve it whole if you'd prefer).
8. Empty vegetable stuffing into juices at the bottom of the slow cooker (or saucepan). Whisk in flour and 1 cup stock. Cook over high heat until thickened. Add more stock if you prefer a thinner gravy.

I served this over rice with peas and it was delicious! The book suggests mashed potatoes and green beans.

Future Time Savers & Tips: I had 4 cups of stock so I used one and froze the other three individually. You need 1 green pepper and 1 medium/large onion for the amount needed in this recipe. I had two green peppers so I cut up the extra and froze it. When I mixed my spices, I actually measured each spice out three different times so the next two times I make this I won't have to measure the spices, it'll already be done for me. I do hope someone out there tries this recipe out. It's REALLY good!

Edit: I couldn't find savory at the store so I made do without. The original recipe also calls for 1 Tbsp. of salt but it was a tad too salty for me so I lessoned it to 1 1/2 tsp. salt.

Anniversary Chicken

*Photo and original recipe is from allrecipes.com. I've modified it to make it faster to make and I don't think it affects the flavor. You can look up the original recipe on allrecipes.com if you want to see their version. This is a great throw-together dish if you want to get dinner going really quickly with very little work. Best of all, it tastes delicious!


2-6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (can be frozen or fresh)
1/2 cup teriyaki sauce
1/2 cup Ranch-style salad dressing (low or non-fat works fine)
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 (3 ounce) can bacon bits (or 3 or 4 slices of cooked, crumbled bacon
3 green onions, chopped (optional)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Mix teriyaki sauce and ranch dressing in baking dish. Add chicken breasts and cover with sauce. (I don't measure the sauce, just mix it half and half until I have enough for however much chicken I'm using). Sprinkle with cheese and bacon bits. Add green onions if desired.
Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear. The time will vary depending on whether you use fresh or frozen chicken and how thick it is. Garnish with parsley and serve.

Phil and I enjoy eating this dish over rice. The dish makes a nice sauce that you can use on the rice and top with the chicken. Bon Appetit!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Simple Layered Fiesta Salad

This recipe is actually starlight11500's. I am just posting it for her.

Makes 4 servings of 2 cups each

6 cups torn romaine lettuce
1 can (15 oz.) drained black beans
1 cup frozen corn rinsed and thawed
1 1/2 cups chopped cooked chicken
1/2 cup TACO BELL® HOME ORIGINALS® Thick 'N Chunky Salsa
1 cup KRAFT Natural Three Cheese Crumbles
1/2 cup KRAFT Ranch Dressing
1 cup broken tortilla chips

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Creamy White Chili

So glad you came up with this idea of a shared blog on meals! (What a source of stress meal planning gets to be!) Below is one my hubby loves, especially while watching football! Let me know if you have questions! Enjoy

Creamy White Chili
Great with some french bread or in a bread bowl!

Source: Taste of Home Magazine

Yield: Serves 2-4 (depends how hungry you are!)

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into ½ inch cubes
1 med onion, chopped
1 ½ tsp garlic powder or about 5-6 cloves of garlic
1 Tbsp veg oil
2 cans (15 ½oz each) great northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (14 ½oz) chicken broth
2 cans (4oz each) chopped green chilies
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp pepper
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup (8oz) sour cream
½ cup whipping cream (or light cream is fine)

1. In a large saucepan sauté chicken, onion and garlic powder in oil until chicken is no longer pink
2. Add beans, broth, chilies and seasonings. Bring to a boil.
3. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
4. (I like to mash the beans at the end of the 30minutes, to make it thicker and more creamy, but its up to you).
5. Remove from heat; stir in sour cream and cream. Serve immediately.

I have to admit, this isn’t the prettiest looking dinner. I wouldn’t recommend serving it when company comes, because it isn’t incredibly fancy. But it tastes SO GOOD! Like I said, good football-watching food!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Spicy Beef

This is a fairly quick meal to make. It can easily be made in 20-30 minutes and most of that is simmer time. It has flavor but is not "hot" spicy. Stir fried veggies would go great with this dish.

1/4 cup olive or corn oil
Dash of crushed red pepper (I don't use this)
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ginger powder or 6 slices of fresh ginger chopped
1 tsp garlic powder or 2 cloves of fresh crushed garlic
1 lb thinly sliced top chuck steak, flank or sirloin
1/2 cup dry cooking sherry
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar

Get all ingredients ready. Slice steak into 2" x 1" x 1/8" pieces and set aside. Heat sauce pan until hot. Add oil, red pepper, paprika and ginger. Fry until pepper turns slightly brown (do not overcook, it will burn fast). Add the garlic and beef. Stir until all of the beef changes color. Add sherry, soy sauce, salt and sugar. Cover and stir occasionally over a medium-high heat for about 20 minutes or until the sauce is almost gone.

Serve over your favorite type of rice.

The Purpose of "Everyday Meals"

Ever run out of creative ideas for dinner? Do you cook the same four dishes every night of the week and want something different? It is so easy to get stuck in a rut when it comes to dinner. I often have all day to think about dinner and when my husband gets home and asks what I'm making I say, "I don't know, what should I make?" We then have to think of something I can throw together in a few minutes so it usually ends up being our traditional spaghetti, ravioli etc. I would like to open this blog up for ANYONE to post everyday meal ideas. Just leave a comment if you would like me to add you as a user to this blog so you can post your ideas as well. All I need to know is a name and your email address. If you post your email address in the comments, I will delete it as soon as I add you as a team member. You can also email me at: myswimlessons at yahoo dot com.
You're welcome to also post cooking tips or any food related information. Although you don't have to post a picture with your post, it's a great idea to help others get an idea of how the meal supposed to turn out.
Please make sure when you post a meal, that you use the name of the recipe as the title so it can be easily found later.