Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Hard to believe that it's been a month since i've posted!

I am so sorry it's been so long since i've posted. I've had my in-laws visiting and so we've been out to eat a TON, and I need to get on it quick... I am headed  to Phoenix, AZ this weekend, for my Associates Degree Graduation. So, hopefully when I get back I can focus on more baking and posting. I'm in my bachelor program right now, so I'm still busy. But I still make dinners for my family. Last night we had chicken fried steak. MMM they were tasty. But I already have that recipe on here. I need to start shaking things up! New christmas cookie recipes, and dessert options to come! I LOVE the holdiays! :)

Here's hoping for a quick return and more recipes to come :) Have a GREAT FALL/Holiday Season! :)

Shae

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Creamy Pumpkin soup


Today it's cold outside. I have the day off, and I wanted to make some kind of soup with pumpkin. It just sounded so good. Something rich and creamy. Doesn't that just sound so yummy? Well, first I posted in FB that I wanted to make a pumpkin soup and asked if anyone of my friends had a reliable soup recipe using canned pumpkin that was good. I got suggestions to look at a few websites for pumpkin soup recipes. So I looked around and found a few. Most of the recipes had mixed reviews to being too bland, yucky, good, and GREAT all on the same soup recipe. So, I decided to go to the expert pumpkin source lily pumpkin's website. They had a recipe for pumpkin soup. I read it and it sounded good. So, I started making it... then I realized I wasn't following the recipe the way they wrote it, so here's my version of their pumpkin soup. I think it's got a great flavor, but not overpowering the pumpkin flavor. Let me know what you think... :)

Ingredients:

1- large can of puree'd pumpkin
1 can evaporated milk
2 tbsp Pampered chef Thai Peanut sauce
3 packed tbsp brown sugar
1 medium onion chopped
1/2 stick of butter
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cans chicken broth
1/2 can water
salt and pepper to taste
2 dashes pumpkin pie spice

Directions:

In a medium sauce pan add the butter, onions, garlic and brown sugar. cook until the onions become translucent. Add the chicken broth, water, and pumpkin. Cook 15 minutes until boiling. Add the salt, pepper, pumpkin pie spice, evaporated milk and Thai Peanut sauce. Stir to incorporate. Let cook another 5 min. Stirring occasionally.  With a submersible mixer or blender blend until smooth or desired consistency. let simmer 5-10 min. and Enjoy!

This has a nice flavor and very tasty. I made this and then set it in my slow cooker on warm, to keep it heated all day. Dinner was done quickly and easily this morning.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Carmel Cinnamon Bread Pudding

Carmel Cinnamon Bread Pudding
This was going to be an afternoon snack for my kids, but I'm thinking of making it dessert instead. I had made some homemade bread last week, and the boys haven't been eating it as fast as they used to. So the bread was a little stale. Which is perfect for bread pudding. I should have done two loaves for a fuller bread pudding, but this works. This bread pudding mix was also originally supposed to be placed in the slow cooker, but I want to use that for the lasagna tonight. So adjusted the recipe for baking. 

Ingredients:

1-2 loaves of bread, stale, and cubed
5 eggs
3/4 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup cinnamon chips
1 bag caramel chips (melted) or caramel sauce - to drizzle on top of finished bread pudding.

Directions:

Preheat oven 350F.

Place the cubed bread in a large bowl. In a separate bowl mix the eggs, milk, vanilla, brown sugar, sweetened condensed milk and cinnamon chips. Pour on top of the cubed bread, toss to coat the bread. Let sit for 1-2 min, then toss again and let sit for another 1-2 minutes, so that the bread soaks up the egg mixture. *The cinnamon chips will not melt completely, but are so yummy.  While the bread is soaking, spray a 13X9 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Once the bread has soaked up the majority of the egg mixture, pour into the prepared 13X9 baking dish. Place in a water bath and bake for 1 hour. Then remove and drizzle caramel on top of the baked bread pudding. Enjoy with whipped topping or plain. 

***If you want to prepare in a slow cooker follow the directions above, except cook on high heat setting for 2 1/2 - 3 hours, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. ***


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Orange Beef and Fried Rice

Tonights dinner started this morning before I left for work. It felt good to come home and be half way done with dinner. It was so easy. You can do this even if your not an experienced chef/cook. Just make sure you have a skillet, a wooden spoon, a slow cooker and the ingredients. That simple, that easy. The best thing about this dinner is most of the ingredients can be kept in the freezer and pulled out when ready to use it. you can even freeze your leftover rice in a ziploc bag for later use if you don't want to use it right away. This is great for those "gotta get dinner quick" nights. In the time it would take to order takeout and have it delivered you could have this done. Easy. Peasy :)

Orange Beef
Ingredients:
1 flank/skirt steak semi-frozen cut in to 4 strips across the grain
1 1/2 cup of Panda Express Orange chicken sauce

Directions:
Add ingredients to the slow cooker on low 6-8 hours. Then shred with forks. Should be fork tender. Then add back into the orange sauce. keep warm til ready to serve.

Fried Rice
Ingredients:
2-3 cups leftover white or brown pre cooked rice
1 bag frozen mixed veggies (mine had corn, peas, carrots, and green beans)
1/4 cup frozen green bell peppers
1/2 cup frozen diced onions
2 eggs
1/4 cup fresh bacon bits
sesame oil
soy sauce
oyster sauce

Directions:
Open frozen veggie bags, measure out the bell peppers, and onions. set aside. In a small bowl whisk the eggs (just like for scrambled eggs) set aside. If using raw bacon for bacon bits, brown the bacon in the bottom of the skillet, once the bacon is cooked, remove cool and crush bacon. In the hot bacon grease with the skillet still on scramble the eggs. remove from pan and set aside. In the same pan add all the frozen veggies with about 2 tbsp sesame oil. toss to coat and cook. about 3-4 min (the onions will start turning translucent). Remember you want crisp veggies so don't over cook.  Once the veggies are cooked if any residual liquid is in the pan, remove with paper towel. Then add the rice, eggs and bacon to the veggie mixture. gently toss. drizzle in about 2 tbsp sesame oil, soy sauce and 1 -2 tsp of oyster sauce and toss to coat. Keep tossing until the rice and eggs are heated through then serve approx 1-3 minutes. (depending on pan). All of this is done in a HOT pan. I used my WOK. you can use that too but a 10' skillet is perfect too.

This rice is SO yummy! My family just loved it with the orange beef. It was a fun "chinese eat in" night instead of takeout/delivery. All were fed before they had to rush off to their many activities tonight. They all ate all of the veggies and that is an accomplishment! I hope you enjoy this as much as we did. :)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Layered Dip

This dish is similar to a 7 layer dip. It has a few extra layers. But should be delicious. I am bringing it for a Relief Society PotLuck.


Layered Dip

1 -16-ounce can of refried beans
1 - envelope of taco seasoning
1 – 16 oz can of black beans drained
2 c. shredded cheese, like cheddar or Monterey Jack
2 c. guacamole
1 - 16-ounce container of sour cream
1 - 16-ounce jar of chunky salsa
2 cups shredded cheese, like cheddar or Monterey jack
1/3 c. green chili’s
1/2 head of shredded iceberg lettuce
Optional: olives and jalapeno’s
Tortilla chips
         A 13- x 9-inch microwave-safe glass baking dish or deep pie pan

Directions:
In a microwave safe 13X9 baking dish, mix together the refried beans, and taco seasoning mix. Then sprinkle with the rinsed black beans. Heat in the microwave 2-3 minutes stirring every 45 seconds. Then top with cheese. Spread the guacamole on top, then the sour cream on top of the guacamole. Once that is spread spoon the chunky salsa on top and lightly spread around. Then sprinkle with more cheese. Lightly spread the green chili’s on top of the cheese layer, then sprinkle the lettuce on top. The lettuce should be cut small enough to be on a chip. Then sprinkle with additional cheese. Top as desired with olives and jalapeno’s if desired. Serve with Tortilla chips or corn chips.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Banana Chocolate Chip Bars


I have started a part-time job, so I haven't had much time for cooking from scratch lately, trying to juggle work, school, kids, family you know all the stuff that makes us busy, busy, busy! I have taken advantage of a few extra hours today, since it's stake conference at church. I have made some yumminess to add to my boys lunches this week. I doubled the original recipe, so we could have a few as a snack today and still have some for lunches. I also had 6 bananas that I needed to use.

These bars are moist and delicious. My kids have been begging for more. I guess that's a sign of success! :)

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
2 cups mashed ripe bananas (4-6 medium)
2 tsp vanilla
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 pkg (2 cups) chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate)
1 1/2 cup walnuts (optional - I didn't use any nuts)

Directions:

1. Grease 2 large jelly roll pans 15X10X1 baking pans. set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add the grandulated sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt, beat til combined. Beat in the eggs, bananas, and vanilla til combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in the chocolate pieces and if desired nuts.
2. Spread the prepared baking pan with the mixture. Bake in a 350F oven about 25 minutes or til golden brown. Cool on wire rack. Cut into bars. Makes a bunch, depending on how big you cut the bars.

This recipe comes from my 1930-2000 Limited Edition Better Homes and Gardens New CookBook. This recipe is already doubled. If you want to make a smaller batch, just cut the ingredient amount in half. This is great for those bruised/ultra soft bananas.

These are nice and moist, so tasty! :)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Zucchini Spinach Lasagna (gluten-free)

Gluten-Free Zucchini Spinach Lasagna

The picture may not look very appetizing but it is so delicious! Tonights dinner was a throw together. I had gotten a LARGE zucchini from a neighbor and I had a bag of spinach I got discounted from the grocery store last week that needed to be used up. I didn't want to worry about boiling noodles and I wanted to get dinner on the table quickly. This is a great recipe for quick, easy and delicious. This recipe was so easy. I didn't have ricotta cheese or cottage cheese for a typical lasagna dish. So I didn't worry about it. It was a little piece of inspiration. I thought as I was making it that I should take pictures along the way, but since I didn't know if it would be any good, I decided against it. I totally should have taken pictures! I will be making this again.

Ingredients:

1 lb bulk sausage (I used a homemade Tuscan sausage)
1 LARGE zucchini (sliced thin on a mandolin)
1 bag spinach (fresh)
1 26oz spaghetti sauce (prepackaged - I used Hunts 4 cheese)
2.5 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup parmesan cheese
4 Tbsp Italian seasoning

Directions:

Preheat oven 350F

Brown the bulk sausage in a pan. While it's browning slice the zucchini into thin slices.  Once the sausage is browned, drain fat, then add the spaghetti sauce. Stir to combine. In a 13X9X2 baking dish, layer first the sausage mixture, about 1/2 of the mixture. Evenly distribute on the bottom. then add a layer of zucchini sliced just like you would pasta. Next add a layer of spinach about 1/2 the bag (remember this will shrink as it cooks). Then sprinkle 1/2 a cup of parmesan cheese, 1 cup cheddar cheese and 2 Tbsp italian seasoning on top. Then repeat. The final layer will be the cheese on top of the spinach. Cover with foil, and bake for 30 min. Then remove foil and bake another 6 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool about 5 minutes before slicing.

***Verdict - I LOVED IT! This was so delicious. I can hardly believe I've never tried this kind of thing before. My oldest loved it, the other younger two were a little put off with the spinach/zucchini, but not for taste, just for looks. They said it tasted good. My husband ate his all gone and said he liked it. I only have two pieces left. I had two helpings! (I didn't even feel guilty eating two helpings!) This was an easy delicious, gluten free meal.



Thursday, August 25, 2011

Red Beans and Rice

Tonights dinner comes mostly from a Rachel Ray magazine that I get. I was looking through my latest copy and saw this recipe. It said that it was a quick and easy version of the Creole version. I had most of the ingredients. I have started working a part time job. It is while the boys are at school. I get home in time to work on homework with the boys, and try to get dinner made for the family, amongst other things I'm sure all of you hard working mothers know. I am still trying to cook dinners from scratch, while working, going to school myself, being a mom, wife, and everything, to everyone.

This recipe is quite easy. No soaking beans. I think the hardest part was smashing the kidney beans with a fork. I can see ways in which this recipe can be made even simpler, with precut onions and celery, even bulk sausage.

I used my rice maker to make the rice. It's just regular white rice. Nothing was done special with it.

Red beans
Ingredients:


3 cans kidney beans (rinsed)
1 tsp dry thyme
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 tsp cajun seasoning
6-8 dashes of tabasco sauce or hot sauce of choice
1 lb sausage link, sliced
1 16oz can chicken broth
1 onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1/2 tsp garlic, minced/diced
3 tbsp olive oil

Directions:

Add the olive oil to the bottom of a hot dutch oven.  Add the onions, celery, bay leaf, thyme, tabasco, and sausage. Cook until the onions are translucent and yellow. Stirring occasionally. Next, add the garlic. Stir and cook about 1 minute. Then add the chicken broth and the cajun seasoning. Let that cook until bubbly. Stirring. smash 1/2 of the red beans with a fork, then add the smashed red beans and the regular red beans to the pot. Let simmer 10 minutes, stir occasionally.  after 10 minutes check the beans to make sure they are heated through and softened, liquid should thicken the longer it cooks.  Serve warm.

Serve over warm rice. sprinkle celery leaves on top, or cheese.

This is a delicious dinner. My kids each had a big bowl of this. I think I have enough for my lunch tomorrow. My husband said it was really tasty and delicious. I hope you enjoy this too. :)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Green chili, black bean, bacon cheese burger

Tonights dinner was hamburgers. I didn't want just regular hamburgers, I didn't have many vegetables since I we are running a little low until pay day. I read a stuffed burger recipe that used green chili's and onions. I thought this was a great idea.  Hidden veggies! I'm all about that! Again using what I have on hand to create a dinner that is healthy and that my kids will eat. Tricky, tricky, tricky. Next to the whole wheat homemade buns, I thought this would be a delicious addition.

Ingredients
1 1/2 lb ground beef 85/15
1-4oz can of green chili's drained
1 pkg beefy onion lipton soup
1/2 a can of black bean refried beans
4-5 dashes of Frank's Red Hot pepper sauce
salt and pepper to taste
cheese slices
 bacon slices - browned

Directions
Mix the ground beef, green chili's, lipton soup, refried beans and Red hot pepper sauce. Don't over mix as it can make the the burgers tough. Heat a non stick skillet on med-high heat.

Form into meat patties. Once formed, place burgers in hot skillet, browning on each side approx. 3 minutes each side.


Should not move until ready to flip to create a nice crust. After flipped add cheese slices to melt while the other side cooks. 

Once the burgers are browned with cheese on top. Place bacon on burger and on bun of choice. Top with lettuce, tomato, onion and any other toppings desired.
This is a pretty yummy burger. All of my children ate their burger without complaint. It was full of nutrients and very tasty. As far as I'm concerned is that it's pretty healthy.

Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns



Whole Wheat Buns
This recipe is terrific without adding the salt, it rises perfectly. This recipe is designed for 1.5 lb size, most machines can easily accommodate this amount of flour.
1 cupwater
1egg
2 cupsall-purpose flour
1 cupwhole wheat flour
3/4 tspsalt
1/4 cupshortening
1/4 cupsugar
3 tspdry yeast
1Place all ingredients into your bread maker as manufacture directs.
2Set machine to dough, press start.
 my finished dough from my bread maker
3When dough is finished in the machine, gently roll out dough on a floured surface into a 12-inch rope.
4Divide the dough into 8 pieces for hamburger buns, or 12 pieces for hot dog buns with a sharp knife.
5Grease a baking sheet, or use parchment paper. Roll pieces of dough into balls for hamburger buns or 6 inch rolls for hot dog buns. Place them on your prepared baking sheet.
 My dough ready for rising
6Let rise in a warm oven for 10-15 minutes until almost doubled. (hint: To warm oven slightly, set oven to lowest setting for 2 minutes, then turn off.)
 my hamburger buns risen waiting for preheated oven
7Remove the buns for the oven and pre-heat your oven to 400*. Bake your buns for 12-15 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven, and cool on racks.
 my fresh baked hamburger buns
8These freeze very well. Make a double batch!
Servings: 12
Yield: 12 Hot Dog buns or 8 Hamburger buns


I got this recipe from THIS site.


I added the listed salt amount. I followed this recipe by the book. Nothing changing.

Strawberry syrup




I found some frozen strawberries in my freezer. I had purchased on discount some yellow pound cake, and I had a thought... strawberry short cake. But I didn't have enough strawberries to go around to the whole family. It was only like a cup of strawberries. So I had this great idea. "Make a syrup/jelly for and it should be yummy!" So that's what I did.

Ingredients

1-2 cups of strawberries rough chop
4 cups water
2 cups sugar
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp corn starch and cold water

add the water, and sugar to the strawberries in the small sauce pan. bring to a boil. add the balsamic vinegar and corn starch/cold water mixture. stir until thickened about 10 minutes. Serve on short cakes, pancakes, pound cake or whatever.

This was heavenly. I have never used balsamic vinegar in my strawberry dishes, but from now on, it's a must!

I served this on sliced pound cake with whipped cream.

Chicken Fried Chicken with chicken gravy and Country Green Beans with Bacon




I have been on vacation for quite a while. My kids started school yesterday and I wanted to treat them to a nice home cooked dinner. That being said. I have only been home a week, and I'm trying to clean up the house from traveling, and my wonderful husband didn't even do dishes while I was away for two weeks. So, I've been trying to dig out of the mess that was and is my house. I don't like having a messy kitchen, it just makes it so hard to get anything done. Especially in my small kitchen. My counter tops have been taken up with mail, dishes, trash, and just stuff... It's been fend for yourself for a few days, while I have been trying to motivate myself to get it cleaned up so I can cook again. I'm back to using plastic and paper for eating off of while I'm trying to dig my way back to normal. I think it also doesn't help that since I sold my kitchen table, I haven't replaced it yet. While I have more room, I have no space. Does that make sense? It does to me. Well. I finally broke down and made a home cooked meal. It was so tasty! I made chicken fried chicken (using chicken breast cutlets) and country green beans with bacon. mmmmm I made extra so I could have seconds and leftovers for lunch today. My husband had two pieces of the chicken. One son had two pieces too... I had one and a half. I made a total of 9 chicken fried chicken's and can I just say, some of the best yet! I think part of what helps them be so tasty is that I brined them for 1 hour before I breaded and fried/baked them. I have a recipe for brining here.

Ingredients for Chicken Fried Chicken
9 chicken breast cutlets
1 brine (can be found here)
2 1/2 cups self rising flour
1 cup corn meal
4 Tbsp seasoning of choice 
1 1/2 cup buttermilk
1 egg
10 shakes of tabasco sauce
3 tbsp salt (kosher)
3 tbsp black pepper
5 shakes of the cayenne pepper
oil for frying

Directions for Chicken Fried Chicken

Brine chicken cutlets in brine in refrigerator for 1 hour. Remove chicken from brine. Set aside. 

Heat oil in skillet, while dredging chicken cutlets:
Flour Dredge: combine corn meal, self rising flour, seasoning of choice, salt, cayenne, and black pepper. 

Buttermilk dredge: combing buttermilk, egg and tabasco sauce, mix well.

After chicken has been removed from brine, dredge in flour, then buttermilk, then flour again. Set aside. 
repeat until all the chicken cutlets have been dredged. 

check oil to see if it's hot enough by sprinkling a little water in the pan to see if it dances. if it dances then it's hot enough.

*My pan holds three chicken cutlets at a time. 
Preheat oven to 400F. 

While the chicken cutlets are frying about 3 minutes on each side. Until browned. Place foil on a cookie sheet and set aside. After removing browned chicken cutlets from oil. Place on prepared cookie sheet. Once all chicken cutlets are browned from frying. Place cookie sheet with cutlets in the oven to finish cooking for 23 minutes (depending on oven). My cutlets were moist and crispy. 

In a different skillet combine 4 tbsp butter (melt) and 4 Tbsp flour, whisk and then add milk consistently mixing with a whisk until boiling and desired thickness. Add salt, pepper and seasoning to taste. Set aside until chicken cutlets are cooked through. 

Remove cutlets from oven. Serve Warm/Hot. Top with gravy. Enjoy! :)
Country Green Beans with Bacon

Ingredients:
3 cans cut green beans (do not drain)
5-6 pieces cut cooked bacon
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
4 tbsp butter

Combine all ingredients and simmer 10 minutes. (the longer the simmer, the better the flavor)

This is so tasty, I love the slight tang and flavor of bacon that are present in this dish. 




Thursday, July 21, 2011

Hawaiian Hay Stacks

Tonights dinner comes from my food storage. As I'm getting ready to head on another road trip, I don't want to waste money shopping. I'd rather use it on my trip. Tonight is a use what's in the house kind of dinner. The great thing about Hawaiian Hay Stacks is that you can top it with whatever your family likes. For instance, my kids don't like tomatoes, or much in the way of toppings. It can have peas, fresh celery, tropical fruit, tomatoes, or whatever they want. I've even seen people add olives. not my cup of tea, but as long as you like it, it can go on top. In my opinion, it only requires a few "main" ingredients and then the topping is what ever you want. Here are my main ingredients and my toppings.

Main Ingredients: (Chicken sauce)

2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 1/2 handful of freeze dried celery
1/4 tsp cumin
a dash of salt
1 can chicken broth
1 can chunk chicken (drained)

Main Ingredient: (Cooked rice)
3-5 cups of cooked rice

After that it's add what toppings you like and enjoy!

Toppings of choice at my house:

mandarine oranges
sweetened coconut flakes
corn
cheese
crushed pineapple
chow mein noodles (kind of a main ingredient - but a topping)

Do you see a theme with it... it's all either yellow or orange. but it's tasty :) My kids love the chicken sauce I made, and can not wait to dish up their own dinner with their toppings. It's summery, beachy and tasty! I hope you enjoy it as much as we do. :)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Sweet Pork - Costa Vida, with cilantro ranch dressing

Have you ever eaten at Costa Vida and wondered what they do to their pork to make it so delicious? Or wondered how you can make it at home. I know I have. I LOVE Costa Vida's sweet pork salad. It is my favorite. I get the small it's a TON of food. I wanted one for my birthday but I decided that it was wiser not to spend $7.00 on one small salad. So tonight, I'm making it at home. I had a 6 lb pork shoulder in the freezer and since i'm having company over this weekend, I thought I could make it tonight and serve it again later this weekend. Is that cheating? Well, anyways... i'm thinking tonight will be sweet pork pizza, tomorrow I will have sweet pork salad for lunch and then not sure what to have the other days, but really looking forward to some delicious dinners/lunches with this pork. I have been told that it makes a TON so make sure you freeze some for another day. I haven't tried this recipe before but I'm hopeful!

Ingredients:

6 lb pork roast (pork shoulder or rump works)
water
24 oz coke (I'm using generic cola and added extra to cover meat)
14 oz salsa
3 cups brown sugar

Directions:

Place pork in crock pot and cover 1/2 way with water. cook on high for 6 hours, then remove water, shred pork and place back in the slow cooker, mix together rest of the ingredients, pour over meat and cook another 2-3 hours.

* I have had mine on warm overnight. I had used a frozen pork so it cooked on high for 10 hours. Then I just put it on low for 10 hours with the sauce and it has been in the slow cooker on warm all day. This flavor is so tasty! I'm waiting until the dough is done for the pizza before I turn it off. This is very sweet and so delicious!

Ingredients for cilantro ranch dressing:

1 buttermilk ranch mix packet (dry)
2 cups mayo
2 cups buttermilk or 1 cup sour cream and 1 cup milk (I used buttermilk)
2 tomatillo's (optional)
1 jalapeno, seeded or equivalent slices diced
1/2 - 1 bunch of cilantro (optional you can substitute parsley for cilantro)
1 tbs lime juice (I used lemon juice as I didn't have lime)
1 clove garlic, crushed (I'm using garlic paste as I don't have any fresh garlic or minced garlic)

Directions:
Blend all ingredients with a mixer or food processor. Makes a lot so store in an air tight container.

Verdict: SO YUMMY... it tastes so close to the Costa Vida dish that I don't think I'll ever pay for another salad there again. Well, unless I get lazy and don't have any of this ready. With the dressing and stuff this makes for a perfect duplicate. plus... I think it actually tastes better than the original. If that is possible. Enjoy! I know I am especially with a whole 6 Qt. slow cooker full of yummy sweet pork! MMMMM

Monday, June 27, 2011

Baked Macaroni Casserole with Smoked Turkey Sausage


Tonights dinner was inspired by a dear friend's macaroni casserole. I was going to make it the way she does, but I had to use of some of the stuff in my refrigerator since we are leaving for vacation in a couple of days. So I wanted to use what I had on hand.

I used similar measurements except doubled them since I have 5 people to feed. And they love mac and cheese things. This smells heavenly, and alas, I have yet to try it. It is sitting on my stove, waiting for my dear husband to come home so we can dig in to dinner. I know I'm such a good wife I'm waiting for him. I cooked it in my pampered chef 13X9 stoneware dish. So it will stay warm for 30 minutes. He should be home shortly.

This dish has my kids swarming in the kitchen. Their cheese and noodle detectors must have gone off and are now impatiently waiting for their cheesy noodle dinner.

Ingredients:
Preheat oven 350F

4 cups dried pasta (macaroni, medium shells, penne)
1 pkg smoked sausage (I used turkey)
2 cups shredded cheese
4 cups milk (I used prepared non fat dry milk)
1 can cream of mushroom soup with roasted garlic
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 vidalia onion
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together, dump in a greased (non-stick cooking spray) 13X9 baking dish, Place in 350F oven bake for 40 minutes.

*Optional - place extra cheese on top 5-10 min before finished baking.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Homemade Fried Rice with Mixed Vegetables


I made orange chicken in my slow cooker tonight. I wanted it to feel like real chinese food... so I made some fried rice. I had never made it before, so like always I searched the web for basic recipes. I found several and read comments on changes other's had made, and then felt confident enough to to make my own. I think this is pretty much my favorite fried rice. It is so tasty, and low sodium as I didn't add any salt to this recipe except for when making the scrambled eggs. I think it also helped that I had plenty of sauce for my orange chicken if I needed any extra flavor. My kids don't usually eat fried rice from the chinese places, even though they order it. Tonight they ate it all up and went back for seconds. They said that it was better because it had corn and green beans in it. I think they are pulling my legs. It's just so good... I hope you like it just as much as I do.

Ingredients

1 bag thawed, mixed vegetables (the one with corn, peas, carrots, and green beans)
3 eggs
salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp olive oil (or vegetable oil)
1 cup white onion (I had some frozen diced) green onions would be fine too
2 tsp or so of oyster sauce (drizzled on top then tossed for a light coating)
3 Tbsp sesame oil
3-4 cups of cooked rice

Directions:

Scramble in a bowl the eggs, with the salt and pepper. In a Wok or large skillet, heat on high and add the olive oil or vegetable oil. Once the oil is hot, scrabble the eggs in the oil, remove and set aside. Wipe out the wok and add in the sesame oil let it get hot. Toss in the rice and stir to evenly spread the oil over the rice. Once the rice has been coated and "fried" with the oil, add in the egg, mixed vegetables and onion. Stirring to incorporate all ingredients. Still over high heat. Then drizzle in the oyster sauce once the vegetables are cook/heated. Evenly distribute by stirring in the oyster sauce to coat the ingredients. Drizzle again with sesame oil for added flavor, toss again. Remove from heat and serve warm.

Verdict...

We all loved it! This is so tasty and looks just like restaurant fried rice. This is an easy dish to prepare. I used my rice cooker to prepare the rice for this dish. It was perfectly cooked. So delicious. If you like take-out chinese. then this is for you. You can add just about anything you like to this dish, shrimp, ham, leftover chicken or beef. Just more vegetables, such as sprouts and cabbage.

Orange Chicken Slow Cooker

Orange Chicken Slow Cooker with Homemade Fried Rice

I don't know if you remember but I love to use my slow cooker. Especially when it's hot outside, or I've got a busy day, or even when it's cold outside. So pretty much anytime. Today is no exception. I have finals this week and so I'm trying to make my life pretty simple. That includes making things in the slow cooker for dinner. I have a hankerin'  (yes - I am Texan) for some orange chicken. Since we are saving every last penny for our trip to the beach next week, I can't very well go out and get some chinese take-out. So, my lucky stand by... check my favorite slow cooker websites such as crockpot365 to see if they've made any chinese food in their crock pots that will help me with my craving... She didn't let me down... She had made orange chicken in the slow cooker... Her's is gluten-free... mine can be made gluten-free. I followed her recipe pretty much to the "T" but I was making for three growing boys who are constantly hungry, so I doubled her recipe, then accidentally added some extra stuff... partly by accident. I was reading the wrong line, but I like it so it works. :) Here's my mishap delicious orange chicken. :)

Ingredients:
3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into pieces/chunks (bite size)
1 cup Bisquick mix (can use gluten-free Bisquick mix)
2 Tbsp olive oil (for browning chicken)
1 tsp kosher salt (course ground)
16 oz orange juice concentrate, thawed (I prefer no pulp, but I didn't have any)
6 Tbsp brown sugar
3 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar
3 Tbsp ketchup
1 Tbsp chili sauce

Directions:
Use 4 qt slow cooker for best results -

Dredge chicken pieces in baking mix - shake off excess. Throw away remaining flour. Heat olive oil in a large skillet on stove & brown chicken on all sides (you may need to do this in batches to evenly brown).  No need to fully cook, just enough to sear the flour and make it stick to the chicken for a nice coating.

Plop chicken pieces into slow cooker.

In a small mixing bowl, combine orange juice concentrate, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, salt,  chili sauce and ketchup. mix well, taste, if you need it a little sweeter add an extra Tbsp of brown sugar. For added heat add some extra chili sauce to taste.

Pour sauce over chicken and generously toss coat chicken with the orange mixture. Cook on high 3-4 hours 6-8 hours on low.

Serve with homemade fried rice, white rice, or brown rice.

Verdict:
I had Bryen (my eldest) try the sauce and he says it's better than take-out! Not a bad compliment if I do say so my self. It tastes pretty good. Waiting will be the hard part. But I'm excited about the prospects of chinese at home.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Chicken and Wild Rice with Mushrooms

Tonights dinner is a take on a different crock-pot meal I made a few weeks ago. This one I am adding a can of mushrooms and cream of onion soup instead of the other, to see if it will be even tastier. This was delicious last time I made it. I'm hoping for another good meal. As it's almost 3pm and I'm finally putting it in the crock-pot. It's been a slow summer day, and with it being summer, I don't want to heat the house with the oven and stove. The slow cooker is my friend in the summer more I think than any other time of year. Do you ever feel that way? What is your favorite time of year to use the slow cooker?

Ingredients:
1 can cream of onion soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can sweet corn (drained)
1 6.5 oz can of mushrooms (drained)
1 14oz can of chicken broth
6 oz while rice mix (I used the organic Harvest Medley from Costco)
1 italian dressing dry mix
1 -12 oz bag of frozen crinkle cut carrots
8 chicken tenders (boneless, skinless)

Directions:
Add everything to the slow cooker - cook on high 3-4 hours or low 6-8 hours until rice is tender and chicken is cooked.

It's just dump and stir, set and forget it.

Easy dinner and delicious.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Veggie Beef Stew (slow cooker)


Tonight's dinner is a throw it in and forget it kind of day. I'm making some fresh bread to go with it. I was just going to make some beef stew, but realized I wanted more veggie content. Then it turned into more of a veggie stew with a few chunks of beef. I think this will be a good dinner full of vitamins. It should have a great beefy flavor. A nice and hearty dinner.

Ingredients:
1 fajita dry mix
1 cup beef gravy dry mix
1 can beef stock
1 cup diced onions
1 lb beef stew chunks
1 bag frozen mixed veggies
2 cups dried potato slices
4 -6 cups water
10 shakes of Worcestershire sauce
1 regular bag of carrots 8 or 9 regular, thick sliced
4 stalks of celery, large slices

Directions:
dump the fajita and beef gravy mix in the bottom of the slow cooker. Then add the beef stock and 4 cups water. Stir to dissolve the fajita and beef gravy mixture. Then add the potatoes, carrots, celery, and mixed veggies. Stirring to mix it all together. Then add the beef chunks and Worcestershire sauce. Stir to incorporate it all. Add more water to cover if not enough liquid to cover.

Set on low for 6 hours. High for 3-4.

Serve with warm rolls, and a salad.

Verdict:
My kids ate it all up and then even finished the broth. That's a win in my book. My husband said it was good too... I really liked it. Not bad for throwing things I had on hand in a slow cooker to eat for dinner. Yeah Me! I hope you enjoy it too :)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Five Cheese Baked Mac N Cheese


After the last baked mac n cheese, my husband has been craving baked mac n cheese. He used to never ask for it. But he has lately. So when I went grocery shopping with him I asked him if he wanted it on the menu this week. He said "Sure! What do you need?" So, needlessly to say, we picked cheeses we thought would be tasty in a baked mac n cheese. A small block of white sharp cheddar, and some gruyere. I already had at the house some Asiago, and Romano. It was originally going to be just the four cheeses. Then I decided at the last minute that it would be a nice touch to add some mozzarella cheese on top of the dish. So that is how we got the 5 cheese mac n cheese. This is a pretty typical (at least I think so) baked mac n cheese recipe.  I did not look at any recipe for this. I just kept thinking... what would taste good and then I just went with the flow. I know it's kind of dangerous to do that, but I like living on the edge. Can you tell?

This dish I think would have to be my favorite Baked Mac N Cheese I've ever had. And that's saying something. It is flavorful without being too salty or too bland. This is the perfect Baked Mac N Cheese.

Ingredients:
4 cups shredded extra sharp cheddar (white)
2 cups shredded gruyere
1 cup asiago shredded
1 cup romano shredded
1 Tbsp pesto
1/2 tsp white pepper
8-9 cups of milk
3 cups half n half
1 box elbow macaroni (I used quick cook)
1 cup diced onion
1 tsp garlic paste
4 Tbsp butter
4-5 heaping tsp flour
2 eggs
1/2 cup italian bread crumbs (to sprinkle on top)
1 cup mozzarella cheese (to sprinkle on top)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare 13X9 baking dish by spraying all sides and bottom generously with non stick cooking spray, or lining with foil sprayed with non stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl shred all cheeses and set aside.

In a large pot place water on to boil to prepare pasta according to package directions (cook to al dente).

In a medium sauce pan, place the onions, butter, and garlic paste. Cook until the onions are translucent, stirring occasionally to incorporate all ingredients. Then add the flour and stir until slightly golden color, the flour and butter will combine to make a think paste like consistency. Gradually whisk in the milk, and half n half. This will be a thin consistency until the milk heats enough to thicken the mixture. Add the pepper and pesto. Stir/whisk constantly until thicken. Add pasta to boiling pot of water (Do not add any salt to the water) and cook to al dente.

In a small bowl beat the eggs and gradually add some of the milk mixture to the eggs while consistently beating them together. This will temper the eggs so they won't cook separately in the sauce. Once they are tempered, pour the egg mixture into the rest of the milk mixture, stirring to incorporate. Then while still on the heat, add the cheese and stir until all the cheese is melted.

By now the noodles should have been completely cooked (leave slightly al dente) and drained. (DO NOT RINSE PASTA) Turn the heat off under the cheese sauce. Add cheese sauce to the pasta. Pour pasta/cheese sauce mixture into a prepared (Sprayed with non-stick cooking spray) 13X9 baking dish.

Place baking dish in a 350F oven for 25 minutes, then turn heat up to 425F. Sprinkle the pasta dish with the italian bread crumbs and mozzarella cheese. Bake an additional 5-10 minutes until sides are browned and cheese is bubbly.

Serve hot/warm.

Verdict:
my leftovers :) lunch tomorrow

My favorite dish! My husband agrees that this is the best baked mac n cheese. He had two helpings, I had two helpings, even two of my kids had seconds. I have enough for a little leftover but not much. It will feed a ton. This is good as a dish for a potluck, dinner by its self or served as a side dish. If you use this mixture of cheeses this will be a small slice of heaven.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Fruit Salad


Today I had a baby blessing to attend, and then a pot luck meal afterwards. I was asked to bring a fruit salad. I for some reason am a little intimidated by fruit salad. I worry about allergies, and putting the right combination of fruit together, so that everyone will like it. I am a people pleaser... or at least I try to be. I don't recall ever putting together my very own fruit salad, unless it was from the store and or a frozen fruit mixture thing. This today was done all by myself. I cut all the fruit that needed cutting or at least picked it all up from my local grocery store fresh the day before. I had my husband come with me to help me pick out yummy fruit. That was also one way that I could make sure he liked what was in it. Sometimes I do have ulterior motives for why I do things the way I do. With that being said. This was fairly easy to put together, I don't think I will ever use a store prepared one again. It was so fresh and delicious. I would have eaten the whole thing but I decided I would be patient incase there were any leftovers I could bring some home. I was glad I didn't eat it all there, I still had about half of the salad left and brought some home. Now mind you, this makes a TON of fruit salad. It might be good for freezing half of it for when you have several gatherings to go to, or just a HUGE neighborhood get together or family reunion to attend. Even a church pot luck this would be great, because it makes so much.

Ingredients:

2 clam shells black berries
2 clam shells blue berries
2 clam shells strawberries
1 cantaloupe
1/2 a seedless watermelon
7 nectarines
1 big bag of red or green grapes

Directions:

rinse all the black berries and blue berries, place in large bowl, then rinse and drain the strawberries cutting the green stems off and slicing, then adding to the bowl. Cut the cantaloupe and add to the big bowl, then cut the nectarines up and add to the bowl. Cut half of the watermelon up and add to the bowl. Rinse and remove stems from the grapes and add whole or cut to the salad. Toss with two spoons gently, but allow fruit to mix completely. Serve chilled or right away.

Verdict:
This makes a great summer snack for the kids, or even for a pot luck. The fruit was in season and so flavorful. I highly recommend using any fruit that is in season. It cuts the cost down and the flavors will be so tasty. After I was on my way to the pot luck, i realized that kiwi's would have been a yummy addition to this recipe as well. There is no added sugar or flavorings.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Homemade Wheat Bread


My husband is a bread fanatic... if you haven't figured that out by now. My other bread recipes that are not from scratch, kneaded by hand and all that, he does eat but doesn't LOVE it! This bread recipe is pretty much the same as the one he LOVES except I substituted about 6 cups of whole wheat flour for part of the unbleached flour. I am really trying to add whole grains where ever possible. Here's hoping he loves it just as much. If not, I'll be making more tomorrow.

Ingredients:

6 cups hot water
2 Tbsp yeast
1/2 cup LDS church dry milk or 1 cup regular dry milk
1 cup sugar
6-8 cups of unbleached flour - plus extra for kneading
2 Tbsp salt
3/4 cup oil
6 cups whole wheat flour

Directions:

Mix the first 4 ingredients together with a wire whisk. Then add 6 cups of unbleached flour and whisk until a paper mache' consistency. Then whip for another 100 strokes. Let set for approx. 1 hour

then add the salt and oil, stir with a fat plastic spatula (I got mine at IKEA). Then add the 6 cups of whole wheat flour. mixing as best you can, then turn onto a floured surface (use unbleached flour). Then start kneading the rest of the flour in to it. Once it isn't too sticky, then let set for 5 minutes.
Place dough into a large metal bowl (also from IKEA) let rise til double in size three times. Each time punching it down and turning it over. Then form into loaves, pizza dough, or rolls.  Let rise until double in size.

Bake 350F for 26 minutes for bread and 18 minutes for rolls. Pizza dough is 10 minutes to pre-bake, then another 10 minutes with toppings at 450F.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Ooey Gooey Cake


The name of this cake may seem quite in appropriate... but it so is. This cake is so delicious! It is heaven in cake form. At least in my opinion. If you like chocolate, caramel, and more chocolate... then this is your kind of cake. This is a very rich cake. So a glass of milk is totally needed. And if your on a "diet" you will have to make believe that your no longer on a "diet", because your going to die and go to heaven, and forget about what ever it was you were trying to avoid... It's all here! This cake is what I'm going to eat for breakfast, I made it last night and because it's so rich I only can eat one piece a day. However, my children can eat it non stop... so I have to put limits on this cake. I think if I had made a jello cake instead I could eat the whole thing in one night, but this takes time to savor and enjoy! You'll see what I mean when I tell you how to make it. Oh, and it's so easy it's a semi-from scratch. I made it at home but with items that can be purchased from the store. Be fore warned.. this may cause sever drooling, chocolate fit attacks, and a sweet tooth...

Ingredients:
1 chocolate cake mix (including ingredients to make cake mix)
1-2 cans of sweetened condensed milk
chocolate syrup
caramel sauce
whipped cream
1 bamboo skewer

Directions:
Make the chocolate cake mix according to package directions in a 13X9 pan. After you pull it out of the oven HOT. (That is key) poke holes in the cake mix with the bamboo skewer (all along the top of the cake). Next, pore sweetened condensed milk on top of the Hot cake, then pore caramel and chocolate sauce on top of the sweetened condensed milk.

Either place in the refrigerator or set out on the counter top to allow the cake to cool and soak up the deliciousness. Before serving. Either spread non-dairy whipped topping, or Whipped Cream (I recommend) on top, then drizzle more chocolate sauce and caramel sauce on top.

Serve with a large glass of milk.

Verdict!
HEAVEN in a pan! That is if your a chocolate fan! if not, try my jello cake if you prefer a fruity flavor or non-chocolate and lower calorie cake.

Jello Cake


This dish is a deliciously sweet EASY cake. I know how easy can it be? you may be asking yourself. But it really is. I like this dish on a hot summer day. It's cold and delicious. It's sweet and light. It is also fruitie (is that really a word, for me it is) without adding any fruit to it. I also like to make jello cakes to go along with some holidays like St. Patricks day, or Easter. Even the 4th of July!  This cake will make you want to add jello to almost every cake you make. At least for me it does. I don't make this very often because I tend to forget about it sometimes, or I don't want to wear it out too much.

Ingredients:
1 cake mix (preferably white, yellow, butter or french vanilla)
1 box jello mix (plus hot water to help dissolve, and cold water - per package instructions)
whipped cream/non-dairy whipped topping
1 bamboo skewer

Directions:
Make cake mix per box instructions in a 13X9. Make jello per package instructions in a medium bowl - set aside (do not refrigerate yet). After cake is removed from the oven-HOT- poke holes all over the top of the cake with the bamboo skewer. Next - Pour the whole bowl of dissolved jello on top of the HOT cake. (Yes, I said pour the whole thing). Then place the pan in the refrigerator for 4-5 hours to let the jello set, and the cake cool. After jello has congealed, and cake is cooled. Spread the whipped cream or non-dairy whipped topping on top. And dig in!

Verdict!
So delicious, and tasty. I have used strawberry jello, lime jello, and even mixed jello flavors (I don't use all of it then. But it tastes delicious. These are light, yet flavorful cakes without adding too much to the waist line. Always a winner in my book.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Dr. Pepper Oriental Shredded Beef (Slow cooker)

Tonights dinner will be Dr. Pepper Oriental Beef. You may be asking your self "What in the HECK?" Yeah, I know I'm strange and sometimes the names sound strange. But this has the potential to be very tasty. I hope you read through the ingredients and think they go well together. I know I think they do.
Part of tonights dinner's inspiration came from the Pioneer Woman's Dr.Pepper Spicy pork. I had a 2-3 lb beef roast in the freezer. Which unless it's pulled would not be enough for my family for dinner. I didn't want to do the regular BBq beef with just adding store bought BBq sauce. So I thought about what made the Pioneer woman's pork so tasty. It was a little heat, and sweet. I had some chili sauce, the beef roast, and Dr. pepper... I keep thinking I'm inspired but this might just be the beginning of the end with my brain. I'll let you know tonight after dinner :)

Ingredients
2-3 lb beef roast
2 cans Dr. Pepper
2 Tbsp chili sauce
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
3 Tbsp Soy sauce
3 dashes of ground ginger

Directions:

Add all ingredients to a slow cooker, turn on high 4-5 hours, low 7-8. cook until fork tender, shred and serve over rice with mixed veggies, or on a hamburger bun.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Cran-raisin, Strawberry, Oat Chocolate Snack Bars



As part of our Cub Scout Pack meeting tonight, we were asked to bring a healthy snack to share with the cub scouts and their families. I know the typical carrots, apples, celery and all that... but I wanted to do something a little different. I wanted a healthy snack bar. I am not purchasing any as I have all the ingredients to make a yummy one at home. I googled a healthy homemade snack bar online and I found this one. It was a great starting point, as I have never made one before in my whole life. I was grateful for the basic needs of a snack bar. This one is packed with loads of stuff, I guess my only hope is that it tastes good and my kids will eat it. I will bring some to the church and some will stay home. This makes a LARGE batch, a jelly roll pan full.  The original batch called for a 13X9 pan.

Ingredients:
Combine...
4 cups of oats
2 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups brown sugar (that’s the only bad part)
1 cup raisins
1 cup craisins (dried cranberries)
1 cup wheat germ or ground flax seed (we did the flax)
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
2 cups freeze dried strawberries
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cup sweetened coconut shredded
2 cups cinnamon almond granola



Stir in...
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 pint apple sauce (homemade, unsweetened)
1 cup honey

3 eggs
6 tsp vanilla




Blend well, incorporating all aspects of the mix. Spray a large jelly roll pan and pat mixture with a spatula. 

Bake for 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees until the edges are golden brown.
Snack bars cut

Pan of 42 snack bars

 close up of the snack bar

Verdict - 
Delicious, filling, and nutritious. Not too sweet, but sweet enough. I am not a big fan of raisins, but this is very delicious. I will be cutting some of the snack bars in half and bringing those to the Cub Scout Pack meeting, the other's are staying here, and if the kids don't eat them, I'm going to, because they are very good! Enjoy