Sunday, November 20, 2011

Porkloin

Often No Frills has porkloin on sale.  It is a big piece of meat for about 10 dollars.  Tonight I BBQed pork kabobs for supper.  It was so nice to have something a little out of the ordinary.  It tasted like summer when the weather is getting colder and colder.

I cut this meat into thirds when I bring it home from the store.  I cut the first chunk in a roast which I often will have for supper that night.  The second chunk is for pork chops.  I put them in a ziplock bag and freeze.  The last chunk I cut into one inch cubes and put in a large ziplock bag with 2 tbsp of oil and 3 tbsp of soya sauce and I like to add a spicy marinade.  I will use instead of marinade brown sugar and a couple drops of hot sauce in a pinch. Freeze
Last night I pulled out my pork kabob meat and tonight I was ready to make them for supper. I started my rice first then I soaked my wooden skewers ( from the dollar store) for about 20 mins in water while I prepped my veggies.  I peeled and cut and onion in half then quartered it. The fresh mushrooms I cut in half and the pepper I cut into 1  1\2 inch chunks.  You can use pineapple or anything really....  I layered pork then veg, pork then veg on my skewer til the end.  I BBQ for 10 to 15 mins.  They really cook fast and you have to watch them.
SO GOOD.  Even a little fancy.  I find this a great meal for company and best of all it is a cheap meal for a  family of four.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Smoothies

Last night after a supper of frozen pizza, I was feeling guilty about my kiddos maybe not getting enough fresh veggies that day.  So I remembered I had bought frozen fruit to make smoothies (an attempt to keep myself out of the chocolate caramel cup ice cream my husband had bought).  It was so easy and a huge hit with the kids.  You can put almost any fruit in it but you need a banana to thicken it a bit, and yogurt to make it creamy.

1/4 cup of frozen raspberries
1 cup of frozen strawberries
1 cup of apple juice
handful of fresh or frozen blueberries
1 banana
1 cup of yogurt
puree til smooth (ie)

Healthy and surprisingly filling too!

Monday, October 24, 2011

This a recipe for roasted garlic.  I do about 4 heads at one time and freeze them for later use.
http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/roasted_garlic/

Cream of roasted garlic and potato bacon soup
There are many variations of this recipe.  Feel free to try your own.

2 large cloves of roasted garlic
1 small onion
6 large potatoes
1/3 package of bacon
2 cups of chicken stock

Chop bacon thinly and fry in a non-stick fry pan
Add diced onion. Cook until onion is becoming translucent.
Peel and dice potatoes.  Add to fry pan and cook everything until it is all getting caramelized.  It takes at least 10 mins on medium heat.  Add heaping tbsp of flour and stir well so it mixes with fat from bacon.
At this point I put mine In a crockpot.
Add 2 cups of chicken stock and 2 cups of water. Add 2 roasted garlic cloves or more if you LOVE garlic.
cook on high for 4 hours or low for 7 hours.
In a pot simmer for 1 hour.
I scoop out the chucks and puree in blender, making sure I got the roasted garlic chucks.  Then I put back in pot.  I like to do this to keep some of the soup chunky. If you want real creamy and you have a hand blender it works really well for this.
From here you can change the spices.  I use parsley and salt and pepper.  Also 1/2 tsp of italian seasoning.  Today for cream I will use a sour cream and milk mix but you can use evaporated milk or real cream, and even top with cheese!
This is the basic recipe.  You can try adding cayenne pepper for a kick, or hiding more veggies in it like celery, cauliflower or even carrot.  Since it is pureed no one will even know.  This soup is freezes well but i would try to freeze it with out the cream and added that part once it is thawed and reheated.

Monday, September 19, 2011

summer days 'fall'ing away

Yesterday was a beautiful day and  I don't think I used it to it's best potential.  If I hadn't had a neighbour visit I would have worked my day away.  There was a mental list of things I felt I had to do.  Unfortunately now that I am awake this morning I can see that all the work I ran hard to finish yesterday is back and needs to be done.  Dishes, floors, toys to pick up, meals to make, kids to dress and clean, clothes from yesterdays laundry to fold and put away, groceries to get.  Today is suppose to be another nice day.  I think I will take the kids to the park this morning with a fancy coffee and BBQ supper tonight so we can eat outside.  The days to enjoy the nice weather are coming to an end. We have already woken up to a frosty morning a few days ago.  Time does fly.

Monday, August 8, 2011

greek pasta salad

One of my kiddos favorite meals is greek pasta salad with BBQ chicken breast.  It is a wonderful meal for this time of year because we have fresh tomatoes, cucumber, onions, green peppers and basil.  I made speggeti two nights ago and cooked about 2 cups of extra maccaroni noodles. I tossed them in 1/4 cup of greek with feta salad dressing from Kraft and put it in the fridge.  This morning I added the fresh veggies I meantioned above.  Also crumbled feta.  So delisious.  Tonight I BBQ chicken breast and Voila! Supper was ready. It is a great meal to eat outside or take cold on a picnic.  I just wished I had some corn on the cob too...mmmmmmm

http://www.cookingwithcandra.com/blog/2010/12/06/mediterranean-greek-pasta-salad/
Here is a link to a similar recipe.  I just use Tomatoes instead of olives so my kids will like it. Then it is also ingredients I have on hand and from the garden.

Monday, August 1, 2011

chicken soup

So here is a funny story.... I made this draft blog in june and I never posted it.  BECAUSE this soup was gross.  In theory it should have been good, but it wasn't.  So the lesson here is - no body is perfect, AND don't be afraid to make mistakes.  I'm going to try this again another time.  If at first you don't succeed....  Stay tuned for my cream of roasted garlic and potato soup recipe.  It is a no fail.


June 6th
I have been talking to a few friends about having meals planned for the days when they come home late and need to eat right away to keep their families on scheduale.  I use my crockpot at least one day a week.  Last night I was home so I baked a chicken in a roasting pan in the oven with potatoes and big carrot chunks.  I find that meal has very little prep and is the least amount of work for a really filling meal that everyone in my family will eat.  I know that tonight I won't be home to make supper til after 5pm so for an easy meal that everyone can eat on the run I made a chicken soup.  I took left over meat off the bones of the chicken and the leftover veggies out of the roasting pan.  I set them aside.  Then I filled the roasting pan with water (with the chicken bones in it) and boiled it for 1 hour.  i added 1tsp of italian spices and 1 tbsp of parsley flakes and some pepper.
While that was boiling I chopped the chicken and veggies.  I diced 2 stalks of celery and 1/4 of a sweet onion. This could all be dumped in a tupperware with the chicken stock and froze.  This makes a great meal to pull out and dump in the crockpot for a supper before you leave for work.  You can make this while you clean up from supper that night and have a meal ready for another day.  This supports my 2 meals in one plan.
I put my food in my crockpot and set the strainer over the top of it.  i slowly poured the roasting pan through the strainer.  I dumped the bones from the roasting pan (now strainer) back into the roasting pan and threw it out.  i added 1/3 cup of uncooked basmati rice into the crockpot.  That is today's chicken soup.  we will see how it turns out.  what we don't eat today I am going to freeze for a quick lunch another day.  What a great idea for lunch at work.

another hot week

Today is going to be a hot one.  Gary got air conditioner in each of the girls bedrooms.  It is a bit of a redneck/duct tape affair and has run into the carpet many times.  He set up a "system" now that will collect the water but the airconditioners shut off when they are full.  They get full after about 3 hours which I feel does not really solve the problem at all but since I don't want to deal with it I keep my mouth shut.
Tonight we are having left overs. Yesterday I put a cheaper cut roast in the crock pot, I think it was called a Blade roast.  I had thawed it in the fridge over night.  I put in in at 9am. I added  dried onion flakes, 1 can of mushroom soup and 1/2 cup of water. I let it cook for 8 hours on low. About 1pm (after my nap) I added small new potatoes that I quartered.  The liquid in the crock pot was suppose to cook into a gravy but I had to pour it into a pot and add cornstarch to thicken.  The meal was great.  I cooked carrots, green beans and beets from my parents garden. Everyone ate lots and we finished the day with a bath in the kids wading pool and a chocolate popsicle.  Tonight is leftovers and hopefully the air-conditioners will last the night.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Salsa

Tomato Season is starting.  I have pepper and tomato plants ready to make a couple batches of this recipe.  We love to use it as a fresh tasty treat all winter.  This is the salsa recipe I got from my mom.   It is turns out sometimes sweet but has never has been too hot for me.  Always tasty in chili, soups, eggs and dips or by itself.  Also nice as a gift.  good luck.

8 halpeno peppers or 4 banana pepper  (omit and increase green peppers for no spice if you wanted)
7 peeled chopped tomatoes
2 cups of chopped onion
4 large garlic cloves
1 large green pepper (chopped)
1/4 cup of pasley chopped (dried is fine)
2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp cumin
3/4 cup of white vinegar
2 cans of tomato paste (5 1/2 oz)
1/4 cup of sugar
1 tsp salt

Simmer for 30 mins
Seal in hot jars
makes 6 - 500ml jars
also freezes well.

Summer Meals

The summer is unbelieveablely busy.  I'm so surprised by the fact tomorrow is Aug 1st.  I have been planning to sit down and record my amazing discoveries in the kitchen so often but another swim invite or playdate takes me away.  Even getting up early there is so many little things to do.  As I sit here and write this I can see the sun coming up in the backyard and I would love to get the coffee on and enjoy the view from my back deck.
However, I want to tell you about my brilliant summer meals.  A couple weekends ago Gary, the girls and I headed to the cottage for the day.  I got up early and made mini muffins in my new mini muffin pan.  The muffins were pumpkin cranberry (pumpkin frozen from my cow field organic pumpkins:).  They turned out great. While I had the oven on I whipped up a quiche. It was so good. I thought to myself why do we not make more quiches?  They are good hot or cold and you could easily take it to a potluck. You can throw whatever ingredients you have in it, but unfortunately no one else in my family likes it - so i guess that is why they are not often seen.  The week before we had unrelenting heat.  Gary had seen on the weather network that it was coming so on the Tuesday before it got to bad I cooked a big ham dinner.  We had scalloped potatoes and veggies in a cheese sauce and a big salad.  Gary and My dad were doing hay so they needed to eat big meals but I was just trying not to melt so I didn't want to cook.  We ate microwaved ham dinner for 2 nights and ham sandwiches for lunch.  It was awesome, everyone was happy.  Then Friday I cooked a whole chicken on the BBQ.  We had potato salad and cold veggies with that.  Saturday we had leftovers and Sunday morning I cooked the quiche with left over ham in it and we had our big breakfsat cooked at the cottage on the BBQ of egger sandwiches.  For supper I had quiche and Gary wanted a big meal so I BBQ some porkchops and new potatoes I had gotten from the market. Since no one wanted quiche the kids ate that too.
Today is sunday again and this week I didn't cook to much that was exciting.  We were invited out a couple nights and we had our usual speghetti night and fish and chips night.  The girls and I even had sandwiches one night when Gary was at the fair.  I taught my niece Kloe how to make chili and we sent it in the crockpot for the gang working with the cows at the fair.  I also showed her how to make bread in the bread maker.  She entered it in the fair and got 2nd.
OH ya another recipe I tried while the days were so hot was a chicken and dumplings.  It turned out great.  Gary even liked it and I didn't have to turn on the oven.

Chicken and Dumplings in the Crock pot
3 very large chicken breast
1/2 a large onion
1 stalk of celery
6 fresh mushrooms
1 cup of frozen carrots, cauliflower and broccoli mix
1 can of chicken broth
tea bisquit receipe
Put chicken breast in the crock pot with enough water to cover them(about 2 cups) . Cook for 1 1/2 hours or 2.  Remove chicken, set aside and leave water in crock pot.  saute onions, mushrooms and celery til onions are starting to get clear. Throw chopped up frozen vegetables and sauteed veggies into crock pot. Add 1/2 tsp of pepper. Chop up cooked chicken and put back in crock pot. Add 1 can of chicken broth. Bring back to a boil on high and turn down low for 1 hour.
Mix up tea bisquit reciepe and drop from tea spoon about eight clumps in to crock pot. put lid on and let cook for 20 mins.  I tried gently turning them over and leaving it on low again til we ate it.  It would be ready to eat in another 20 mins but I left it for 2 hours and it was still good.  The broth thickened up and it was like a stew, very tasty.

Tea Bisquits 
(this receipe was from a friend to make chicken pot pie but it worked for this too.)
2/3 cup of all purpose flour
1/2 cup of whole wheat flour
1 tbsp of baking powder
1/4 tsp of salt
 2 1/2 tbsp of olive oil or canola oil
1/2 cup of skim milk
Enough of the water from chicken in crock pot to make it wet and sticky
Combine dry ingredients. Stir in oil, milk and chicken water. Mix well and drop from teaspoon into crock pot.

Seriously - try it. eat it for a couple nights, it goes a long way.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Another day with casseroles

With the summer coming I like to have crockpot meals ready,  Nothing is worst than having to turn on the oven in the heat. Also there is so many fun things to do outside that you don't want to be tied down to the kichen.  I bake lots of cookies and muffins and freeze them in small ziplock bags so there is just enough snack for one day.  That way we can grab and go and it keeps other things cool in the snack bag.  With all the rain this week it is a good time to bake and plan ahead for warmer days.
 I started stocking my freezer yesterday.  I pulled out a package of venision sausage (not that great to BBQ), 1 lb of ground beef, and 1 package of good BBQing sausages.  In the afternoon, (after I had a nap and the kids were still asleep) I fried up the ground beef and baked the venision sausages in the oven with some cookies to have for dessert later.  The cookies were from store bought cookie dough so I really didn't work hard but I got all the credit.
My plan was to have BBQ sausages for supper with salad.  I cooked Venison sausages to make a sausage stew and sausage chili.  With the ground beef I made 2 lazagnas.  This morning I took the leftover sausage from our BBQ and made a variation on the Minestrone Soup.  I haven't tried it yet but it smells good.
The nice thing about how I did this cooking marathon is that it was all cold and from cans. It had similar ingredients, for example I used 3/4 can of kidney beans in the chili and the rest in the minestrone soup this morning.
Ingredients:
2 cans of diced tomatoes
4 cans of spegetti sauce
1 can of kidney beans
1 can of baked beans
1 box of oven lazagna noodles
2 onions
2 cloves of garlic
2 cups of frozen broccoli, carrots and cauliflower mix
salsa
celery
1 big block of mozzarella cheese
chili powder
1 container of chicken stock

  While the kids played, I assembled my meals in tupperwares like ice cream tubs and stacked them in the freezer.  I mixed 2 cans of speghetti sauce in a big bowl with 1 can of water, 1/2 can of diced tomatoes, all the cooked ground beef,  1 cup of frozen veggies diced and 1/3 cup of salsa. I grated all the cheese and layered two casserole dishes 8x11 with sauce, then noodles, then cheese, then sauce. cover and freeze.
For the venision sausage I chop up and split into two tupperware containers.  One gets 500ml of kidney beans, 1 can of speghetti sauce, 1 cup of salsa, 1 tbsp of chili powder, the other 1/2 of the diced tomatoes, 1 chopped clove of garlic, 1 small onion chopped up, 1/2 cup of chopped frozen veggies.  - this will go in the freezer.  Then I will take it out the night before and dump it in the crockpot in the morning.  Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 5 or 6.

Italian sausage stew.  This recipe does have veggies to saute, same as minestrone recipe.  Cook twice as much split it for the minestrone soup in the next receipe.
Saute 1 small onion diced, celery, frozen veggies. I cook this with 2 tbsp of italian dressing (not necessary, just if you have it).   In the other tupperware container I have the sausage and I add - 1 can of baked beans, 1/2 can of diced tomtoes, 2 cups of chicken broth. 1/3 cup of salsa  - this will go in the freezer. then I will take it out the night before and dump it inthe crockpot in the morning. Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 5 or 6.  I add egg noodles 20 minutes before finished cooking then eat with some cheese on top.  The taste is a little different from all the speghetti sauce casseroles but I find it a nice change.


This morning I made minestrone soup with the BBQ sausage from the night before, I had the veggies sauteed in the fridge from the italian stew.  I also had the remaining kidney beans from my 750 ml can. I used the rest of the box of chicken stock and the rest of the diced tomatoes.

So there is 6 meals - very good use of your time and money.  good luck.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Summer Harvest

I love the "Bounty of the Land" and I get this from doing a little gardening.  I do not enjoy doing a lot of gardening.  My lovely farmhouse yard is feeling more and more like my oasis as I look around at the spring plants growing. Every year I have added things that I love that will grow on there own with very little tending to. I have added easy perennials this year (peonies, mini iris and regular iris, tulips, daffodils, bleeding hearts and clematis around the seedums) and I already see my rhubarb coming on.  Pumpkins grow on their own in the field beside our house where the cows graze.  This fall I promise myself  I am going to start the long process of getting wild asparagus to grow in behind the garage in between the crab-apple tree and rhubarb.  We will again plant tomatoes in our 4 foot garden which I will weed occasionally.  This alone provides salsa and delicious pies all winter.  Plus the squash, cucumber, peppers, carrots and potatoes I get each year from my parents and my husband's parents.  I always feel so blessed to know how to provide for ourselves and also share with our community our "bounty".  Too bad I am not brave enough to eat dandelion leaves or experiment with the mushrooms that come up in our yard each year.


my daughter Emily getting her first taste of rhubarb.

my happy helper gardener Ashley

Donny and the perennials


Rhubarb Cream Pie
1 pie crust
fill with chopped rhubarb

in a bowl:
1 1/2 cup of sugar
3 tbsp of flour
1/2 tsp of nutmeg
1 tbsp of butter
2 eggs
Beat together and pour into shell over rhubarb.
Bake at 400 for 15 mins, then turn down to 350 til done.  i forget how long.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

stew

The easy stew recipe I use is
1 lb of stewing beef
1 cup of carrots
1 large onion
3 large potatoes
2 stalks of celery
1 can of mushroom soup
750ml of garden cocktail or tomato juice
(I have also just used 900ml can of diced tomatoes but you do need to add a little more seasoning like italian spice and garlic)


Put raw stewing beef in the bottom of a very big roasting pan or glass dish. Add all clean and chopped veggies on top.  Mix your 2 remaining ingredients together and pour over veggies.  add 1 tsp of pepper and cover with aluminum foil.  Bake at 275 for 4 hours.  It always turns out good.  I make this after we have a roast beef meal.  And put all the leftover meat, gravy and veggies in it. This meal can be froze after it is made to pull out for a quick lunch to take to work.  I have also pureed it for baby food and froze in ice cube trays for easy meals.   So another idea I had would be if you cooked your beef in a frying pan and let it cool you could mix this meal up and freeze it uncooked.  Then you could take it out of the freezer the night before you wanted to eat it and put it in a crock pot in the morning. cook on low for 8 hours.  I haven't tried it, but I bet it would work.  Have a nice loaf of bread ready.  Eat and Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Minestrone soup

Crock pot Minestrone Soup
Dice these veggies and saute in a pan with 1 tbsp of oil.
1 onion
2 celery stalks
1 cup of peeled potatoes
1 large carrot
Put in crock pot with
1 can of diced or stewed tomatoes
4 cups of chicken stock
1/2 cup of salsa
1 1/2 cup of tomato vegetable juice
1/2 can of kidney beans
Season with 1 tsp of pepper
1 tbsp of dried parsley
1/2 tbsp of Italian seasoning
cook on high for 4-5 hours
3/4 cup of noodles - boil  1/2 cooked and drain
add to soup - leave for 20 minutes -EAT

This is a very tasty soup and it makes a lot.
While this soup was in the crock pot I put a batch of bread in the bread maker.  They take about the same amount of time. A really lovely meal on a winter day with leftover meat for sandwiches.
We grow tomatoes in Sept and make our own salsa.  We use it in everything.  If you don't have salsa or some other ingredient listed here in the soup try substituting,  See how it turns out.  Make it spicy or cook sausage first with the veggies. If you add sausage then you probably don't need chicken stock.  (I haven't tried that yet.)  Also with our  tomatoes I cut the stem out and freeze them whole.  Then I can add them to soups and stews by running them under hot water and then the peel just falls off.  I put 4 frozen tomatoes in the Crock pot instead of the diced tomatoes. It turned out really good.
I froze the other half of kidney beans.  So the next time I made chili I just took out the kidney beans and 1/2 lb of cooked gr. beef  I had also froze and made a chili in the crock pot.  I halved this recipe. This is how I make it but you can try it with mild store bought salsa.

Chili
1 lb of ground beef,
2 cans of spaghetti sauce,
1 can of mushrooms,
1 can of kidney beans 
2 cups of our home made salsa.
2 tbsp of chili powder.
  Cook ground beef (sometimes with a chopped onion). drain, add spaghetti sauce to fry pan to heat up.
Throw all ingredients in crock pot and leave on high 5 hours or low 8 hours. The salsa is the secret. It makes the chili sweet and it adds lots of veggies but hides them cuz they are all cooked down.  I also sometimes chop up frozen carrot/broccoli/cauliflower mix real small and add it.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Turkey

Today I am recreating the Christmas dinner. I bought a couple turkeys at Thanksgiving.  They were .77 cents a pound.  I pulled it out of the freezer on Sunday so today I am cooking it for my parents that are coming for dinner.  I also won't have to make supper the next few nights.  So the turkey went in at 1pm for I'm guessing 3 hours.  At 4pm I will take it out and check it, then pour the juices off to make the gravy.
-here is a side note- it was ready at 4pm which was too early and I hadn't cooked my potatoes yet.  So.... maybe wait til 2pm for a 8lb turkey .
This gives me time to put it back in to cook for another hour if needed.  I will cook baked potatoes.  They take the least amount of work.  If I was planning ahead I would have make mashed potatoes earlier when the kids were asleep or even last night and baked them with cheese on it at 4pm when there is room in oven with the Turkey out.  This is a great idea because if I make enough mashed then they are ready for a quick Sheppard's pie or with a can of salmon make fish cakes.  Another way to make potatoes is to wash and cut them up and put them around the Turkey with carrots 1hour before they will be done cooking, as I mentioned in my post about Roasts.
So here is my speech about Turkey dinners. The Turkey cost me $7.44 and the bag of baby carrots to throw around the turkey $1.  (or better yet buy a 5lb bag for a little more and do more work yourself.) This week was dollar days at No Frills.  Frozen peas and frozen corn were $1.  A 10 lb bag of potatoes is about $3.
so for under 15$ you have a big supper with Turkey sandwiches for lunches and leftovers to eat the next day.  Buy 1 lb of ground beef  ($4) and a pkg of noodles (for $1) and 2 cans of spaghetti  sauce (each $1) and you have Sheppard's pie and spaghetti for supper the rest of the week.  That is about $21.  You still need bread, eggs and milk and essentials but I am just pointing out that is can be done.  Also what is wrong with box cake mixes? I buy them on sale for (you guessed it) $1! It makes a nice easy dessert when you really don't want to do extra work and with a Turkey dinner you have the oven on anyway.


So lets say you want to have the stuffing and cranberries and the rest of the traditional supper.  You may have your own recipes for sweet potato pie but I don't so I will tell you what I make.
Stuffing
  I save my ends of the loaf.  My family doesn't eat the two ends of the loaf so i keep them in a bag in the door of the fridge.  I cut them up for my stuffing. You need 1 loafs worth of bread.  Also I do make Chicken stock with the last turkey we ate. however Chicken Stock was also $1 at No Frills this week.  You will also need
2 stalks of celery
1 small onion
1 clove of garlic. (press with garlic press)
Saute in large pot with 1 cup of chicken stock on high heat until onions are translucent.
Turn off heat and add 1/2 the bread.  Stir and add 1 tbsp of celery salt, 1 tsp of pepper, 1/2 tbsp of thyme and 1 tsp of Italian seasoning. (like basil and oregano)
Add 1 cup of chicken stock.  Stir
Add 1/4 of remaining Bread. 
Add 1 cup of stock. Stir
Throw in remaining bread and stir until all bread is moist.
Bake in casserole dish or stuff the turkey.  In Casserole dish it is 40 mins or to your desired crispness.
Check internal temperature with a meat thermometer to 165.

Broccoli casserole
 This is not my recipe but I use it a lot.  Especially when I am out of fresh veg for a supper meal.
I buy mixed Frozen carrots, broccoli and cauliflower.  You can also buy fresh veg and blanch or steam it, but why do the work.
Place frozen veg in a casserole dish.  Top with 1 can of celery soup, then 2/3 cup of grated cheddar cheese.
Cut 2 slices of bread into squares and stir quickly in 2 tbsp of melted butter.  Sprinkle bread on top of casserole.  Bake at 350 for 30 mins uncovered.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

tip for the day

Here is a time saving tip. When you thaw one pkg of ground beef - thaw two and cook it all.  Then freeze what you don't use in a Tupperware. Cooked ground beef is so handy when you forgot to plan a supper.  You can add it to a can of spaghetti sauce for a quick meal, like your own hamburger helper but without the additives. Also Sloppy Joes, on nachos or mini pizzas.  Most things you can just add the ground beef from frozen but not when it is raw.

Today I made Spaghetti Bake.  it is not my recipe.  I am paraphrasing how I made it.  It makes a lot so use a big lasagna or casserole dish.
1 onion
1 green pepper
Chop and Saute
1 can of diced mushrooms
28 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
1 - 2 cans of spaghetti sauce, depending on what you are using
Cook spaghetti noodles about 1/3 of a pkg
Grate one brick of medium or old cheddar cheese
this is where I add ground beef already cooked.  However the recipe calls for cooking 1 - 2 lbs of ground beef first and draining it.  Set meat aside and start to saute your veggies and make sauce.
Layer sauce, noodles, meat, cheese till your dish is full.  Cover with Aluminum foil and remove after 30 mins. of  baking
Bake 350 for 40mins til it gets all bubbly.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Roast

My favorite meal right now is any kind of roast.  I love throwing a chicken, turkey, pork or beef into the old roasting pan with 1 to 2 cups of water, 1 chopped onion and bake. The times of cooking change depending on what you are cooking but from my experience more time is better.  1 hour before you expect your meat to be done I put in large chopped pieces of carrot and potato. I like to wash and cut these veggies at the kids nap time so it only takes seconds to put them in the oven when the kids are up and always playing at my feet. At supper time when I made the gravy i put my kids in their high chairs with a little meat and veggies to eat while I finish making supper.  I take the juice from the meat off and make a gravy. This does take a little more work and isn't necessary to make a delicious meal but my family appreciates it.  Also I usually cook in the microwave some frozen corn or peas since my rule at supper is 2 veggies for a meal.
The things that make this an easy meal is that there is always lots and often enough to reheat the next day.  At least one night a week we have other people stay for supper so this is enough for everyone.  Also I can put the meat in the roasting pan in the fridge the night before and then it is ready to cook the next day when I get home if I have a busy day planned.   Once the meat is in the oven I have supper done and can have a nap when my kids nap.
Two things I have learned from cooking meat is that it does turn out better if it is totally thawed and poultry will dry out if it is over cooked. Beef needs 20 mins to rest once it is out of the oven.  Both meats if done too early taste great if you slice it and put into the gravy to keep moist and reheated in oven later if needed.

Gravy
I use a small pot and take a tbsp of fat off the liquid that is with the meat.  I mix with 1 tbsp of flour til flour is dissolved.  Then I pour the meat juice out of roasting pan into the small pot.  Put pot on medium heat and whisk often. Bring gravy to a simmer.  Take 2 tbsp of cornstarch and 3tbsp of cold water.  mix in a glass and pour in to small pot.  this will thicken the gravy more.  if you find you don't have enough or that it tastes weak you can add dry chicken or beef stock powder and more water but you will need to repeat the cornstarch directions.  For seasoning I also add Italian spice and salt and pepper to taste.   Most people take the meat and veggies out of roasting pan and make gravy in it.  that is a great way as well but often I still need to keep the meat warm so by pouring out the juices and leaving the supper in the roasting pan I can put the whole thing back in the oven with the oven shut off to keep it warm while I make my gravy.  Then when supper is ready I just fill everyone plate from the roasting pan and they can serve their own gravy.  Less dishes for me.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

This Weeks Menu

So we were given a lot of cheese for Christmas.  I grated up 2 blocks of mozzarella in the food processor and 1 block of cheddar. Monday One pot of Mac and Cheese (lunch) in the crock pot.  Pork chops on the BBQ with rice and frozen veg in a cheese sauce for supper. Tuesday Lunch was egg, bacon and cheese sandwiches on English muffins with carrot and celery sticks.  I made one very tasty lasagna with Caesar salad(supper).  Wednesday Lunch was tomato soup and grilled cheese. Then for supper was baked chicken legs with roasted potatoes and salad. We needed a break from noodles and cheese. Thursday With left over spaghetti sauce from the lasagna I made mini pizza's on English muffins with cheese and salami sandwich meat for pepperoni topped with green peppers (lunch) and tonight we are having cheese burgers.  Friday Lunch will probably be 'clean out the fridge' meal and I think we will make our own fish and chips.  Fridays I like to do a kind of -eat out but eat in- supper.
My kids haven't pooped since Monday but they are well fed.


Mac and Cheese Crock pot
1 small onion
1 large stalk of celery
puree in food processor.  Saute in fry pan with 1 tbsp of  olive oil.
Boil 2 cups of mac noodles til just half cooked.
In food processor grate 2 cups of cheese. (I grated all of it and kept in the fridge to use as needed)
add 1 tbsp of flour to sauteed onion and celery. stir and add 1 cup of milk.
Simmer until it starts to thicken.
Add 1 can of mushroom soup and 1 can of water. Whisk
Simmer until it bubbles.  Add 1 tsp of mustard and pepper.
Turn off heat and add cheese.
Put noodles in crock pot and stir in sauce.  Top with Parmesan.  the Sauce should be runny. It will thicken as it cooks.  Keep on low for 1 hour.  Ready to serve.
For variation add ham or cooked bacon or salsa.

Baked Chicken legs or thighs
I buy these on sale and they make a quick tasty supper.
Put meat in glass dish flat and pour 3/4 cup Italian dressing on top.  bake at 450 for 30 mins.

I often will try to cook more than one thing at a time to save time.  I put 6 potatoes in the oven around my cookie sheet when I bake my cookies or muffins in the afternoon while the kids are sleeping.  Then for supper I can cut them into wedges and make my own fries.  I also bake them at 450 with Italian dressing on them as well.  Also for 30 mins.  This will work well with left over boiled potatoes too.