Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tamale Pie...Tasty Tuesday

This is another of those things I make without a REAL recipe.

2lbs ground beef
2 packets taco seasoning
small can chopped olives
small can chopped Ortega chilies
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
2 small boxes of cornbread muffin mix

Fry the ground beef, drain & add taco seasoning according to package directions
After the water has cooked out, add olives & chilies

Pour meat into a large casserole dish

Add cheese over meat if desired (my family likes cheese on EVERYTHING)

Prepare cornbread mix and pour over top to form a crust. ( Homemade cornbread can be substituted, you need enough for a standard 8x8 pan of cornbread)

Bake at 400 until cornbread top is golden brown. Allow to cool for a few minutes then slice into squares to serve. (pictures coming soon)
Visit Balancing Beauty & Bedlam to see more Tasty Tuesday...she's got Mexican Freezer meals this week, YUM!!!

Monday, April 27, 2009

I received a Splash Award!!!

I'm so excited, this is my first Blog Award on this blog!!!! Annette at Fairy Blog Mother gave me the Splash Award. Which means she finds my blog alluring, amusing, bewitching, impressive, and inspiring!
I need to pass this along to 9 others...which is so incredibly hard to choose because there are SO many great blogs out there. Here are a few of my favorite blogs in no particular order:

Tammy's Recipes - Everyday Cooking Inspiration
Joy The Baker
The Money Jar
Moms By Heart
The A to Z Twins
Christie's Thoughts
Molly's Country Memories Home Place
Crazy Adventures in Parenting

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Braided Pizza Bread--Calzones

I saw this recipe the other day and had several ideas!! My youngest son wanted calzones this week, so I decided to start with a pizza like version.

2 loaves frozen bread dough (thawed) or you can make your own from this crust recipe
1 can spaghetti sauce
1 can tomato paste
1 stick butter (softened)
shredded mozzarella cheese

Heat spaghetti sauce in a saucepan, add tomato paste, 2 T garlic, 1 T oregano & 1 T basil, stir until well combined.

Roll bread dough out into a rectangular shape so its approx. 1/2 inch thick. Combine butter with 2 Tablespoons garlic. Spread thin layer on the rectangle.

Spread 1/3 cup sauce down the center of rectangle.
Add layer of pepperoni down center
Cover pepperoni with a layer of shredded mozzarella cheese

Use a pizza cutter to cut strips along each side of the dough (even numbers on each side). Starting at the bottom, take each piece, cross and twist.
Continue cris-crossing until your pizza is braided.
Brush remaining butter/garlic mixture over top.

Cover with foil to prevent burning crust
Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes
Remove foil after 15 minutes of cooking

Allow to cool 10 minutes before slicing to serve.
One loaf feeds 4 adults easily.

The original recipe gives instructions for preparing this as a freezer meal.

Meat Pies...Tasty Tuesday

My Hubby has been talking about meat pies for YEARS. The idea has always appealed to him & he has wanted me to make them. The problem has always been that I wasn't really sure what to put in them. Last Fall, I finally got around to trying it and they are now a family favorite. My first attempts were made with left over beef stew. The stew gravy made them too wet and they were hard to pick up. Next we came up with a stew like filling, but with almost no gravy.....it worked GREAT!

I'm making these this week because my youngest son requested them for his Birthday week menu. At his request I will be leaving out the peas & the green beans, he is not much of a vegetable fan.

Filling (enough for at least 12 pies, freeze leftover filling)
1 lb stew meat (or left over roast beef)
4 peeled and diced potatoes
1 cup frozen carrots (chopped into small pieces)
1 cup frozen peas
1 can green beans (drained)
1 cup cheap red wine
1 bay leaf
1 t salt
2 t pepper
1 T oil
1 T minced garlic (I like the kind in the jar)
1 stalk celery chopped
1 cup water

This can be made in the crockpot or any large pot on the stove. Chop the meat into small pieces (1 inch by 1 inch or less), season with salt & pepper. If the meat is uncooked, brown in a skillet before adding to pot. Add the meat, vegetables, bay leaf and wine to pot. In a skillet, cook the garlic and celery in oil until tender. When garlic and celery are tender, add water to skillet and then pour mixture into pot. Cover with tight fitting lid and cook on low heat until potatoes are fork tender.

Crust (make 2 batches for 12 pies)
2 cups Flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup Crisco butter flavored shortening
5 to 10 tablespoons ice cold water

Remove the filling from the stove & refrigerate for at least an hour. Divide the crust into 6 sections. Roll out each section individually into a saucer size circle. Rolling on a piece of wax paper or a silicone mat is highly recommended. Add about two tablespoons of filling to the center of the crust, fold over and crimp the edge along the open portion.

Poke a few vent holes in the top with a fork to let out steam. Place on a cookie sheet then do the next one. When the cookie sheet is full put it in the oven at 400 for about 30 minutes or until the crust is golden.
They heat up well for a quick snack or lunch, they can also be eaten cold. If making more than your family will eat in 2 to 3 days, freeze before baking, then bake from frozen, allowing 10 to 15 extra minutes for cooking. These freeze best if you put them on a cookie sheet until hard, then put in freezer bags or wrap tightly in freezer paper.

To see more Tasty Tuesday visit Balancing Beauty and Bedlam

Homemade Chicken Strips...Tempt my Tummy Tuesday

My son Morgan will be 11 on Wednesday. Chicken strips have been one of his absolute favorite foods since he was a toddler. Anytime we take him out to dinner, we don't even have to ask what he would like....he always orders chicken strips, everywhere we go. We don't eat out very often anymore, so I've started making our own chicken strips at home. This is another of those no real recipe foods, but here goes.

2 lbs boneless chicken (breast or thigh both work fine)
2 cups toasted bread crumbs
1 cup flour
2 eggs
lemon pepper
oil for frying

Slice the chicken into strips. Cut into smaller pieces if your family prefers nuggets
Dredge the chicken in beaten egg
Mix the bread crumbs, flour & seasonings together in a pie pan, then dredge the chicken in the flour mixture. I like to put a LOT of seasoning in the flour. Being able to see the pepper is a good sign that you've got enough in there.
Heat oil in a large skillet. The oil should be at least 2 inches deep. Drop a small piece of bread into the oil, if it immediately starts to sizzle & fry, the oil is hot enough. Add the coated chicken pieces being careful not to let them touch in the pan.

When the first side is golden brown, flip them over to cook on the other side. Usually takes about 5 to 7 minutes on each side.

When they are golden on both sides remove from pan & place on a dish with paper towels or coffee filters to allow the grease to drain. Serve with your favorite dips & sides.

Visit Blessed with Grace to see more Tempt my Tummy Tuesday

Monday, April 20, 2009

Land O'Lakes chocolate chip cookies

I saw this recipe on Frugal Girls. She is also currently hosting a giveaway to win 2 lbs of Land O'Lakes butter.

Chewy Jumbo Chocolate Chip Cookies

4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups Land O Lakes Butter, softened
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 Land O Lakes All-Natural Farm-Fresh Eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla1
(12-ounce) package(2 cups), semi-sweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 375 F. Combine flour, baking powder and baking soda in medium bowl; set aside. Combine butter, sugar and brown sugar in large bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla. Continue beating, scraping bowl often, until well mixed. Reduce speed to low. Beat, gradually adding flour mixture, until well mixed. Stir in chocolate chunks. Drop dough by 1/4 cupfuls, 2 inches apart, onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 10 to 14 minutes or until light golden brown. (Do not over bake.) Let stand 1 minute on cookie sheet; remove to cooling rack.

The kids & I had planned to make Toll House Chocolate Chip cookies together on Friday afternoon for Family Fun Friday. Instead we made these. I like to use real butter (generic, unless Land O'Lakes is on major sale). I bought the store brand of genuine chocolate chips (imitation aren't good). These were the best chocolate chip cookies we've had in a very long time.

Menu Plan Monday...a loose plan for this week

My youngest son is turning 11 this week, he is very excited. I am wondering where those years went.
He is helping me plan this week's menu. He chose his favorite foods. I am going to make them and write down the recipes. Like his older brothers, he LOVES to cook, so he'll probably be helping me in the kitchen too.

Monday...homemade chicken strips w/roasted red potatoes
Wednesday...meat pies
Thursday... Breakfast for Dinner, pancakes & sausage
Friday...homemade corned beef hash

We plan to bake a chocolate cake for his birthday and a few other treats this week. Wish me luck getting all these recipes written & the pictures taken. I'll add in the links as I get them completed.

Visit I'm an Organizing Junkie to see more Menu Plan Monday.

Friday, April 17, 2009

What we actually ate this week

On Monday, I wrote a Menu Plan, this is a big improvement over last week, just because I had a plan. My intent in writing the plan was to try to figure out what we were likely to eat...not necessarily to lock us into eating those things, but to have my ideas written down somewhere so that when it got to be 5:30 & I hadn't started dinner yet I could look at the plan & make the choice to either go with the plan or if something else really sounded appealing & we had all the ingredients make that. I realize that this is probably not how most people use a menu plan, but I've learned over the years that what works for most people usually doesn't work for my family.

Here is what I planned:
Monday....Chicken, white rice & asparagus
Tuesday...Baked Ham, mashed potatoes
Wednesday...Hamburger & Rice
Thursday...Red Beans & Rice w/ smoked sausage

Here is what we actually ate:
Monday...Chicken, white rice & asparagus (just as planned)
Tuesday...Baked Ham, green beans & salad (a little different, but still the same main course)
Wednesday...Hamburger & Rice (just as planned)
Thursday...Pork Chops, hominy & salad (we ended up having the red beans & rice for lunch)
Friday... Chicken & Rice Stir Fry (ran out of tortillas for burritos...made a double batch of stir fry & took one to Maggie's teacher who is home on disability)

I think I did pretty good. My ultimate goal is to NOT run to the store for ingredients on a daily basis & to resist ordering take out or running through the drive thru....I was totally successful there this week. Now to figure out what we are going to eat Saturday & Sunday. My goal for next weeks menu (in addition to the ultimate goal) is to try not to repeat anything that we ate this week....we tend to get a bit monotonous at times.

Saturday...Spaghetti (wanted to add a no meat night as recommended by my friend Janet in one of her posts this week)
Sunday...Tacos or burritos (I need to do a bit of grocery shopping for next week so I'll pick up more tortillas)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Artichokes--Tempt my Tummy Tuesday

Artichokes are one of the very best foods I have ever eaten. If I could afford to eat them everyday I definitely would. When we lived in California, they were very cheap from about mid-March through mid-May. Here in Tennessee, they are available most of the year, but the quality is not as good & the price is staggering.

We prepare artichokes to eat by immersing them in boiling water & letting them cook until the stem is fork tender. We eat them by pulling off the individual leaves one at a time & dipping them. I dip mine in mayonnaise. Hubby dips his in melted butter seasoned with garlic & a bit of pepper. Once the end of the leaf has been dipped, you put it into your mouth & scrape the dip & artichoke meat off with your teeth. Eating an artichoke is a time consuming process, but well worth the effort. After all the leaves have been eaten, you scrape the choke (fibery thistle type stuff) out of the heart, cut the heart into chunks and eat it with your preferred dip.

Head over to Blessed with Grace for more Tempt my Tummy Tuesday

Tasty Tuesday...Fried Potatoes & Sausage

This is something that I have eaten all my life....one of those things that you "just make". There really isn't a recipe, but I'll try to create one as I go.

1lb smoked sausage or kielbasa (I like the all beef)
2 lbs potatoes (frozen cubed potatoes are my new favorite)
oil for frying the potatoes
salt & pepper

I use two frying pans. Slice the sausage into rounds about 1/2 inch thick & brown in first frying pan on medium heat.

If using fresh potatoes, wash thoroughly & cut into 1 inch cubes, peels can be left on or removed depending on how you like your fried potatoes. Lately, I've been using frozen cubed potatoes to save time. Heat about 2 Tablespoons of oil in another frying pan. When it is HOT, add potatoes, season with salt & pepper. Cover with a lid. Cook on medium heat, turning with a spatula every 3 to 5 minutes until the potatoes are starting to brown.

Add cooked sausage to potatoes, stir together & cook uncovered for an additional 5 to 10 minutes allowing the potatoes & sausage to finish browning.

I have served this for breakfast, lunch or dinner....we like it any time of the day!! I usually eat mine with catsup.
Tasty Tuesday has a new host at Balancing Beauty & Bedlam....hop over to see more Tasty Tuesday.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Menu Plan Monday...what I THINK we are going to eat this week

I haven't been doing really well sticking to my menu lately. Last week I never got around to even doing one. However, I really enjoyed doing a recap of what we had actually eaten on Friday. This week I'm going to write out what I THINK we are going to eat, then on Friday I will take a look back & talk about what we actually ate & why. I think doing this for a couple weeks will help me to better plan what really works for us in a menu

Monday....Chicken, white rice & asparagus
Tuesday...Baked Ham, mashed potatoes
Wednesday...Hamburger & Rice
Thursday...Red Beans & Rice w/ smoked sausage

I'm not going to plan the weekend right now, I'll figure that out on Friday when I look back at how the week has gone.

Friday, April 10, 2009

What we ate this week

I didn't do Menu Plan Monday this week....just didn't get to it. Because of that, I thought it would be nice to write down what we DID eat this week.

Monday...Baked Chicken

Tuesday...Kielbasa & Fried Potatoes (Hubby had a steamed Artichoke too)

Wednesday...Shredded Beef Enchilada Pie

Thursday...Chili Verde

Friday...Pork Chops w/rice & gravy

I went grocery shopping on Tuesday & bought a chuck roast and a pork picnic roast. The chuck roast immediately went in the oven with salt & pepper for seasoning. The pork picnic roast went in the crockpot with a can of green enchilada sauce. A few hours later, I took the chuck roast out of the oven & let it cool in the pan for an hour before putting it in the fridge overnight. I let the pork roast cook all night in the crockpot, then let it cool for two hours in the morning before putting it in the fridge.

Wednesday afternoon, I took the chuck roast out & pulled all the bones and fat out of it, then shredded it into a sauce pan. I added two packets of taco seasoning & 2 cups of water, then brought it to a boil. Once it was boiling, I stirred it to shred the meat even more then let it simmer for about 20 minutes to cook out some of the water. I used this shredded beef as the center layer of my enchilada pie.

Wednesday night after everyone was asleep, I couldn't get to sleep. I got the crockpot out of the fridge, removed the congealed fat with a spoon and then pulled all the bones out of the meat. I removed the rest of the meat and the congealed broth from the crockpot, pouring the broth into a container & putting it back in the fridge. I shredded the pork and put it back into the crockpot. Once all the meat was shredded, I poured a bottle of green salsa over the meat & put it back in the fridge for the night.

Thursday afternoon, I brought the crockpot out of the fridge and turned it back on low. I took the container of pork broth out, scraped the small amount of congealed fat off the top and then added it back into the crockpot. I let this cook for a couple hours, then removed 2 cups of broth. I put the broth into a saucepan on the stove & brought it to a boil. I mixed 1/4 cup of flour with 1 cup water and slowly stirred it into the boiling broth to thicken. After I added the thickened broth back to the Chili Verde in the crockpot it was ready to serve for dinner with grated cheese and flour tortillas.