Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cheddar Beer Soup

4 c. chicken broth
1/4 c. butter
1/2 c. flour
salt and pepper to taste
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 c. milk
3 c. shredded cheddar
12 oz. flat beer
corn starch

Melt butter in dutch oven. Add salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce. Gradually add flour, stirring constantly. Add broth and whisk until smooth. Stir in milk and cheese, stirring constantly until cheese melts. Pour in beer, heat through. Thicken with corn starch mixed with water, if desired. Serve piping hot. Serves 6-8.

Cinnamon Toasted Almonds

I first had these in Germany. They were being sold from a kiosk in a train station, and you could smell them all over the station. Then I ran across this recipe at tasteofhome.com and decided to try them as Christmas gifts. They are so easy, and make your house smell equally as wonderful! The only change I would make is add maybe 1/2 cup more almonds, as there was too much sauce.

Prep: 15 min. Bake: 25 min. + cooling

2 egg whites
2 Tbsp. vanilla extract
4 cups unblanched almonds
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a large bowl, beat egg whites until frothy; beat in vanilla. Add almonds; stir gently to coat. Combine the sugars, salt and cinnamon; add to nut mixture and stir gently to coat.

Spread evenly into two well-greased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pans. Bake at 300° for 35-45 minutes or until almonds are crisp, stirring once. Cool. Store in an airtight container. Yield: about 4 cups.

Cran-Yam Crumble

My sister gave me this yummy twist on traditionally unpopular sweet potatoes! You can mash the sweet potatoes or leave them whole, depending on your texture preference.

2 17oz. cans of yams, drained (I could not find this size, so I used 29 oz and added a little pureed pumpkin)
1 cup flour
1 cup oats
1 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup butter
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 bag of cranberries
handful or so of mini marshmallows

Mix together the flour, oats, brown sugar, and cinnamon and then cut into it the butter. Mix in the cranberries. Reserve about half of the mixture to use for a topping. Mix all together with the yams and place into a 9x13 glass baking dish. Then put the reserved mix on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 min. adding the marshmallow to the top during the last 10 min. of baking.

Slow Cooker Orange Chicken

As a mom of young children, I LOVE using my slow cooker, but sometimes the recipes all start tasting the same! I found this refreshingly different one on kraft.com. Of course it doesn't have the breading of traditional orange chicken but it does come out with a nice caramelized finish. My two daughters even liked it!

Prep: 10 min. Total: 8 hours 10 min.

8 small boneless skinless chicken thighs (1 lb)
3 Tbsp. flour
1/3 cup orange marmalade
1/3 cup barbecue sauce
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. grated fresh gingerroot (I used 1 tsp. ground ginger)

Toss chicken with flour in slow cooker.

Stir in all remaining ingredients; cover with lid.

Cook on low 6-8 hours or high 3-4 hours. Serve over rice. Makes 4 servings.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Laundry Soap

Okay, another recipe that's not a meal idea but one that I want to make sure to save. I made one batch of laundry soap about 8-10 months ago. The ingredients for 1 recipe probably cost me less than $1.50. (I had to purchase 2 boxes that I only used 1/2 cup and 1 cup worth of ingredients so it's hard to know the exact cost). This recipe makes quite a bit, which is why it lasted so long. Definitely a great way to save money! Although I coupon, I no longer look at purchasing laundry detergents of any kind. I use dryer balls so I don't need fabric softener either.

Here's the recipe for the soap:

Grate 1/3 to ½ bar of Fels Naptha. (can use other bar soap such as Ivory as well)
Cook over heat in 4 cups of water until dissolved.
Fill a 5 gallon bucket half-way with hot tap water.
To this hot water add the pot of melted soap and water from the stove. (I just use a really huge pot that I bought for laundry soap making  at the thrift store to cook the soap and then I fill it up to the five gallon mark with water.)
Next add 1 cup of the Super Washing Soda and a 1/2 cup of the Borax Laundry Booster.

Allow to cool and then mix well and pour into your containers. I have two big containers that hold most of my laundry soap (one is a plastic, washed out kitty litter container). I then just pour some into two smaller, regular sized laundry containers that I continue to refill as they run out. I do have to shake my bottles each time I use them as it tends to separate. I used a full-bar of Fels Naptha the first time and think it was too much which is why I cut the recipe back to 1/3-1/2 bar. Two different recipes said two different things. I tried it one way and now I’m trying it the other.

I don't really like smelly stuff and when you cook the laundry soap on the stove, it WILL make your house smell like a Fels Naptha bar which is pretty strong. This was the only part of making the laundry soap that I didn't like. Thankfully, the smell disappeared within a few hours.

Pot Roast Pie

Here's another one of my favorite meals that was brought to me after I had my son. What a blessing these meals were! If you like pot roast, you will like this recipe. Honestly, my husband was a little skeptical before it arrived and it wouldn't be something I would THINK that I would like but I LOVED it and my family enjoyed it as well and Phil said I could add it to our meal idea list.

If you have a smaller family, like me, you might find it hard to make a yummy pot roast and actually eat all of it before you either get sick of it or it goes bad in the fridge. I often have these roasts that sit in my freezer for awhile because I keep waiting to make them when we have friends over and then, when we do have friends over, it's usually spontaneous and we don't have time to cook a big roast in the crock pot for 6 hours. So, here's what you do...

Cook your pot roast how you normally would. A little seasoning, possibly sear it on both sides before sticking it in your crock pot with an onion or two, carrots, potatoes and anything else you like. It doesn't really matter what recipe you follow. However you normally do it will work fine. I just looked up a pot roast recipe in a cookbook I had and basically followed that.

After you eat your meal, take the remaining pot roast, drippings/gravy left in the crock pot, and any remaining veggies and smush everything up. I just used a fork to break apart the pot roast and cut the potatoes and carrots I had into smaller pieces. I then mixed it all together along with the drippings in the crock pot. My friend, Tracey, who made this meal for us, added a bag of frozen mixed veggies to the mixture and a few more spices. I don't know exactly what spices she used so just use a little of what sounds good to you. :)

Depending on how much you have, you can make either one or two pies. I have some small pie pans so I made two smaller pies with the leftovers which are easier for our family to eat. Make your own pie crust or use a store bought one if you'd like. Put the pie crust in your pan and then pour the pot pie mixture on top. Make a batch of mashed potatoes (which you can make with butter and cream/milk or healthy and plain). Put about a 1 inch layer of the mashed potatoes on top and freeze until later.

These pies are great reheated and taken to a family who needs a meal or for your family to eat later. A family in our church gave us the arm roast that we used so I basically used a half bag of carrots, 4 potatoes and a few misc. ingredients and made 3 tasty meals for my family!!! This is such a great way to use the leftovers for another meal. Hope you try it sometime!

Chocolate Peanut Buddy Bars

This dessert was brought to me by my friend, Aubrey, after I had Brecken. I must admit I ate almost the whole pan by myself since my husband doesn't like peanut buttery foods. Since it was a whole pan and I didn't want to eat it in 2 days, I cut the bars into single servings, wrapped them in plastic and froze them. Then, when I wanted a treat, I would take one out and eat it frozen or slightly thawed. They were DELICIOUS! Thanks Aubrey!

(These are way less time consuming to make than cookies.)
1 cup creamy or chunky peanut butter
6 Tbsp. butter or margarine softened
1 1/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
chocolate chips as many or few as you want!
Bake at 350 degrees until brown around the edges, use 13 X 9 pan