Tuesday, December 30, 2008

White Chicken Chili Spaghetti with Cheese

My kids made this dish up and gave it a name!

It started out as warmed-up leftovers dressed up with a bit of shredded cheese. I guess if you put shredded cheese on pretty much anything they'll love it.

It was actually parts of two dishes -- white chicken chili and chicken noodle soup with the noodles separated from the broth. I served the chili and the noodles in two parts on their plates, sprinkled all of it with cheese, and was very doubtful that they would eat any of it when I served it. They mixed it all up together, loved it, and dubbed it White Chicken Chili Spaghetti with Cheese.

Here's how you make this interesting dish.

White Chicken Chili Spaghetti with Cheese

4-6 chicken thighs (or whatever kind of chicken you like)
1 can white beans
1 can diced tomatoes
1 pkg. spaghetti noodles
Salt and pepper to taste
Shredded cheese

Put the chicken in a pan with water and set it to boiling. After it gets about three-fourths done, get another pan and start the spaghetti to cooking. I used regular spaghetti and broke the sticks into thirds.

When it's all almost done, get another pan and mix the beans and tomatoes (I didn't drain anything) and start them cooking.

When the chicken gets done mix it up in the beans and tomatoes.

Put the spaghetti on a plate and top it with the chili. Sprinkle with cheese.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Shrimp and Veggie Pasta

My husband has been planning this special shrimp dish for me for a few weeks now and he finally got a chance to make it for me today. It was absolutely delicious!

I hope I got all the ingredients right so I can make it again!

Shrimp and Veggie Pasta

1 pkg. shrimp
1 pkg. stir fry vegetables
1 pkg. farfalle (bow tie) pasta
1 jar alfredo sauce
Onions and garlic to taste
Olive or safflower oil

Put the onions and garlic in a skillet with a little bit of oil to brown. Cook the pasta until it is halfway done. When it is halfway done and the onions and garlic have cooked a little, put everything in the skillet with the onions and garlic and cook until done.

You can change this recipe up by using sausage or beef instead of shrimp and marinara sauce instead of alfredo sauce, my husband says. I'd love to try it with turkey link sausage and marinara sauce!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Shrimp Linguine

Oh how I love shrimp and pasta! From All Recipes:

Shrimp Linguine
  • 1 (12 ounce) package linguine pasta
  • 1/4 pound bacon
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 3 roma (plum) tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 cup half-and-half cream
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1 pound cooked shrimp
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (optional)
  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook pasta in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes, or until al dente; drain.
  2. Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium-high heat until evenly brown. Drain, crumble, and set aside.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute garlic, basil, and oregano in oil for 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes and green onions, and saute for 3 minutes. Add bacon, half and half, Parmesan cheese, and Monterey Jack cheese. Cook until cheese is just melted. Stir in shrimp, and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes.
  4. Serve sauce over pasta, and sprinkle with pine nuts.

Here's an easier version:

Fettucine Carbonara
  • 1 pound dry fettuccini noodles
  • 8 slices bacon
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • ground black pepper to taste
  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add fettuccini and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.
  2. Fry bacon in skillet over medium heat until crispy, remove and drain on paper towel. Chop with knife into bits.
  3. Beat the eggs, cheese and cream in a bowl, then add the bacon. Pour over the pasta in the pan and toss gently using tongs.
  4. Return the pan to a very low heat and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Don't overheat or the eggs will scramble. Season well with black pepper and serve.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Famous Pork Chops

That last pork I cooked would have tasted a lot better had I cooked it like this!

Famous Pork Chops
  • 1 cup crushed butter crackers
  • garlic salt to taste
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 4 pork chops
  • 1/2 cup butter
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  2. In a shallow bowl combine crushed crackers, garlic salt and pepper; mix well. In a separate bowl beat eggs.
  3. Dip your pork chops in the egg batter and then in the cracker mixture. Place the pork chops in a casserole dish. Place chunks of the butter around the pork chops. Cover and bake for 45 minutes.
The recipe comes from All Recipes. I get a daily recipe from them via email!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Forkworthy Chicken Noodle Soup

It's unbelievable how easy it is to make chicken noodle soup and how delicious it is. I suddenly decided last night around 10 p.m. that I wanted some so I used my super easy Chicken Noodle Soup recipe. It was delicious last night and even better today.

It turned out to be Forkworthy Chicken Noodle Soup because I only broke the angel hair pasta in half and you had to eat it like spaghetti!

Here's my son and I finishing up the pot today. He and I were the only ones impressed with the soup, as usual. More for me!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Taco Pie

This taco pie sounds yummy! A friend of ours makes something similar (without the crust) and the kids just love it.

Taco Pie
  • 1 (8 ounce) package refrigerated crescent rolls
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 (1 ounce) package taco seasoning mix
  • 1 (16 ounce) container sour cream
  • 8 ounces shredded Mexican-style cheese blend
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) package crushed tortilla chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Lay crescent dough flat on the bottom of a square cake pan and bake according to package directions.
  3. Meanwhile, brown the ground beef in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the taco seasoning and stir together well. When dough is done, remove from oven and place meat mixture on top, then layer with sour cream and cheese, and then top off with the crushed nacho chips.
  4. Return to oven and bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 10 minutes, or until cheese has melted.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Turkey Pot Pie

This looks like a pretty simple recipe for turkey pot pie from All Recipes. I haven't ever made a pot pie, but I sure do love to eat them. I'll have to give this one a try!

Turkey Pot Pie
  • 1 recipe pastry for a (10 inch) double crust pie
  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 3 tablespoons dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cubes chicken bouillon
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 1/2 cups cubed cooked turkey
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup milk
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Roll out bottom pie crust, press into a 10 inch pie pan, and set aside.
  2. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat; add the onion, celery, carrots, parsley, oregano, and salt and pepper. Cook and stir until the vegetables are soft. Stir in the bouillon and water. Bring mixture to a boil. Stir in the potatoes, and cook until tender but still firm.
  3. In a medium saucepan, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Stir in the turkey and flour. Add the milk, and heat through. Stir the turkey mixture into the vegetable mixture, and cook until thickened. Cool slightly, then pour mixture into the unbaked pie shell. Roll out the top crust, and place on top of filling. Flute edges, and make 4 slits in the top crust to let out steam.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C), and continue baking for 20 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Anniversary Chicken

This sounds like an easy and delicious way to prepare chicken, one of our favorites! It's called Anniversary Chicken because the submitter on All Recipes served it at her in-law's 50th wedding anniversary, and everyone loved it.

Anniversary Chicken
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1/2 cup teriyaki basting sauce
  • 1/2 cup Ranch-style salad dressing
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 (3 ounce) can bacon bits
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken breasts, and saute 4 to 5 minutes each side, until lightly browned.
  3. Place browned chicken breasts in a 9x13 inch baking dish. Brush with teriyaki sauce, then spoon on salad dressing. Sprinkle with cheese, green onions and bacon bits.
  4. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear. Garnish with parsley and serve.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Crockpot yogurt

Well I'll be. I just ran across a recipe for making yogurt in the crockpot. It's from the blog A Year of Crockpotting.

My mom always made yogurt when we were growing up and she recently loaned me her yogurt maker.

This recipe for making it in the slow cooker seems very easy although you do need to be around to monitor it. The only ingredients you need are milk and some plain yogurt from the store, and some fruit if you want to add that.

Yogurt can be substituted for a lot of things in recipes, so before I make a bunch I need to find out some of its different uses!

Friday, December 19, 2008


Merely a coincidence in light of yesterday's "Adventures in Oatmeal" but I just ran across a recipe for homemade granola from the blog Eat from Your Pantry!

I keep thinking of the yummy granola my mother made when I was a child. I loved it. I'd put it in a bowl with some milk and let it set for a few minutes while I got ready for school or work. I liked it a little softer than normal for some reason.

This should remind me to get her recipe and I'll try this one out in the meantime.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Adventures in oatmeal

Our road to eating oatmeal was long and rough this morning, but we got our oatmeal after all.

I got the wrong kind at the store the other day, for starters. I got the regular old-fashioned kind with the big oats instead of the quick-cooking old-fashioned kind with the smaller oats. I like the smaller oats better.

This morning I put a half a cup of oats and a cup of water in a bowl and put it in the microwave. My son was already crying for it even though I'd given him a handful of frosted flakes to keep him busy while his oatmeal cooked.

Finally it was done (it takes a few minutes with the regular kind) but when it finished I needed to cool it off for him quickly. I put it in the freezer and of course by now he was really upset and still crying.

I left it in there for about a minute and when I reached in there to pull it out I grabbed it wrong somehow because it landed on the FLOOR, BOTTOM SIDE UP.

Now I'm practically crying.

Thankfully there was a few bites left in the bowl (kind of sticky and mushy after being cooked in the microwave). I cleaned the mush up out of the floor and finally sat down with my son.

He was so thrilled to get it and practically inhaled it. Yay!

Of course he wanted some more. So I grabbed the oatmeal container, put a quarter of a cup of oats and a half a cup of water in the bowl. When I was putting the container up it slipped and dropped on the counter and dry oats went everywhere.

Good grief. One of THOSE days.

I somehow managed to get the oatmeal fixed quickly, cooled off and fed to the baby without any more mishaps and crying.

He's finally full and happy!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Great Aunt Nina's Noodles and Chicken

It's not from MY Great Aunt Nina (don't have one) but it's Great Aunt Nina's Noodles and Chicken recipe anyway. It comes from All Recipes this morning and I really have to try this.

Dana Smith, who submitted it, had this to say: "To a slow cooker chicken, I added an old family noodle recipe. If you want it to be more like a soup, add another quart of broth. This was a fixture at family reunions when I was a child, and the slow cooker makes it even easier."

Great Aunt Nina's Noodles and Chicken
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 (4 pound) whole chicken
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoons shortening
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, or as needed
  • 2 quarts low salt chicken broth
  1. Place the carrots, onions and celery in the bottom of a slow cooker. Place the whole chicken on top of the vegetables and season with salt and pepper. Pour in the white wine and sprinkle basil over the top. Cover and cook on Low setting for 8 to 10 hours.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the eggs, water, salt, shortening and flour to form a stiff dough. After I've mixed in as much flour as possible using a fork, I knead the dough with my hand in the bowl to incorporate as much flour as possible. Let the dough rest for a few minutes.
  3. Roll the dough out on a well-greased board to 1/8 inch thickness. Use a pizza cutter or pie crust cutter to cut into strips about 1/2 inch wide and 3 inches long. Dust lightly with flour, and leave to dry for a few hours while the chicken cooks.
  4. When the chicken is done, remove the meat and vegetables to a platter. Transfer the juices to a large pot and stir in 2 quarts of chicken broth. Bring to a boil and add the noodles. Cook for about 10 minutes, until tender. Meanwhile, remove the meat from the chicken and shred. Discard bones and skin. When the noodles are done, return the vegetables to the pot and add shredded chicken meat. Serve.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Rice with Goodies

This one from All Recipes sounds delicious! I might eliminate some of the ingredients just for the sake of ease, though.

Rice with Goodies
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked white rice
  • 3 slices bacon
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1/2 cup peas
  • 1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 Granny Smith apple - peeled, cored and diced
  • 1 cup cooked, chopped turkey meat
  • 1 teaspoon chicken soup base
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • ground black pepper to taste
  1. In a medium saucepan bring water to a boil. Add rice and stir. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
  2. Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown.
  3. Mix the onion, celery, carrot, peas, mushrooms, almonds, raisins and apple into the skillet. Slowly cook and stir over medium heat until tender.
  4. Mix in the turkey, chicken soup base, soy sauce, parsley and pepper. Mix in the rice. Serve hot.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Chicken Tacos

This recipe comes from All Recipes today, and sounds like something we've just got to try! It's got more ingredients than we would normally use but everything is pretty much already in the pantry anyway.

Chicken Tacos
  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 cup lemonade
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 (12 ounce) package corn tortillas
  • 1 head lettuce, shredded
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 (8 ounce) package shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1 (8 ounce) jar salsa
  • 1 (8 ounce) container sour cream
In a large skillet over medium heat, combine chicken, lemonade, olive oil, lime juice, and Worcestershire sauce. Season with garlic powder, onion powder, and bay leaf. Simmer until chicken is no longer pink, and juices run clear, 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, warm the tortillas in the oven or microwave until soft. When chicken is fully cooked, transfer to serving bowl. Place lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, salsa, and sour cream in serving dishes. Each person can create their own wrap, using their preferred ingredients.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Cheesy Pasta Casserole

Mmm, we're having Cheesy Pasta Casserole tonight! I got it from the Kraft Food and Family magazine that I subscribe to, free of charge of course!

The directions call for putting everything in the dish together and baking it, but I don't seem to have much success doing that. I'll cook everything on the stove top. When it's almost done I'll mix together with cheese in a baking dish and pop it in the oven for a few minutes.

Cheesy Pasta Casserole

1-1/2 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
4 cups cooked rotini pasta
1 pkg. (1 lb.) frozen Italian-style vegetable combination, thawed
1 can (10 oz.) RO*TEL Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies, undrained
3/4 lb. (12 oz.) VELVEETA Pasteurized Prepared Cheese Product, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

HEAT oven to 400ºF. Combine ingredients in 13x9-inch baking dish; cover with foil.
BAKE 40 min. Let stand 5 min.; stir.

Monday, November 3, 2008

What I want tonight!

I've had a taste for my turkey and potato casserole for the last few days for some reason. I haven't wanted to turn the oven on, though, and I'm out of that basic staple that you should always have in your kitchen, cream of mushroom soup.

I am going out later and can stop by the store for a can of cream of mushroom soup. This can actually be cooked entirely on the stove top so that I don't have to heat the house up with the oven. It's warmed up here lately and the oven is still off limits.

Mmm, I'm looking forward to this!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Minestrone Soup

(Ssh, I had a little help with this Minestrone Soup! Do you like my fancy dinnerware?)

I was looking for something quick I could feed my son for lunch and that I could turn into supper tonight for the girls when I came upon a bag of minestrone soup mix my husband got from the store. This isn't something I normally use (I just make soup from scratch, usually chicken noodle soup) but I figured I could add some ground turkey and bowtie pasta to make it *almost* homemade.

I cooked the ground turkey with onions and then set it on a plate to drain. Of course my son in his quest for lunch grabbed the plate and dropped all the meat onto the floor. I salvaged what didn't hit the floor, which wasn't much, and put it in the soup.

It turned out pretty good and I *think* the girls will eat it. I'm headed out to grab some crackers to go with it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What's for supper?


The never-ending question: What's for supper?

It's getting colder and I can finally turn the stove and oven on, and I'm in the mood for soup.

So tonight it's Chicken Noodle Soup for us! I'm using egg noodles instead of angel hair pasta tonight. It's got a bit of chicken noodle soup mix in it that my husband bought. I just threw it in the pot with the homemade.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Potato salmon patties

This sounds yummy and like something that everyone would eat!

This one comes from AllRecipes.com.

Potato Salmon Patties

  • 1 (14.75 ounce) can salmon, drained and flaked
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup garlic and herb seasoned dry bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup dry potato flakes
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried dill weed
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery salt
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  1. In a medium bowl, mix salmon, eggs, garlic and herb seasoned dry bread crumbs, dry potato flakes, onion, garlic, dill weed, celery salt, salt, and pepper. Form the mixture into 2 inch balls, and flatten into patties about 1/2 inch thick.
  2. Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. In batches, cook patties about 5 minutes on each side, until lightly browned.
The recipe says it's good served with rice and a veggie on the side!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Broccoli lasagna!

I haven't ever made lasagna but I love a good pan of it. I just ran across this recipe for Broccoli Lasagna from All Recipes. I think I can do this!

Broccoli Lasagna

  • 9 lasagna noodles
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 (15 ounce) container ricotta cheese
  • 1 (10 ounce) package chopped frozen broccoli, thawed and drained
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.
  3. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Cook onion and garlic in butter until tender. Stir in flour, pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt and nutmeg. Stirring continuously, pour in milk, a little at a time, allowing mixture to thicken. Bring to a boil for 1 minute, then remove from heat and stir in parsley. Set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, broccoli, Parmesan, 1 cup of mozzarella and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir until well blended.
  5. In a 7x11 inch baking dish layer: 1/4 cup white sauce; 3 noodles; one-third of remaining white sauce; half the broccoli mixture; 3 more noodles; half remaining white sauce; remaining broccoli mixture; 3 noodles; remaining white sauce. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella. Cover with foil coated with cooking spray.
  6. Bake in preheated oven 30 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Time for the slow cooker!

It's cooling off outside and that means it's time to plug up the slow cooker!

About.com's Busy Cooks has a great list of Favorite Crockpot Recipes.

My husband prepared some pork ribs in the slow cooker yesterday after marinating them for 24 hours and then roasting them on the grill for two hours. He told me what he did but it sort of went over my head. I'll have to ask him again.

Happy slow cooker-ing!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Five ingredient meals

What's not to love about five-ingredient meals? Nothing, that's what, especially if the kids love them.

Busy Cooks at About.com has a great collection of five-ingredient meals.

I have lots of great few-ingredient, one-pot meals that I've come up with in the past few months. Here are some of them!

Chicken Noodle Soup (this one is my favorite)

One Pot Chicken with Potatoes and Veggies

Beefy Potatoes and Peas

Chicken Pot Surprise

Chicken and Veggie Pasta

Parmesan Pasta with Turkey Sausage

Those recipes are all kid-friendly and hurried-mom-who-hates-the-kitchen-friendly. They are all meals I put together myself with little time and few ingredients available. It seems that preparing hot, nutritious meals for five hungry children can inspire even the worst of cooks.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Comfort foods

Here are quite a few recipes for some five-ingredient comfort foods from Busy Cooks at About.com.

After batting a stomach virus for the past 24 hours I think I'm on the rebound and could use some comfort food myself!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

"Real" chicken noodle soup

Last night I made what amounted to Chicken Noodle Soup, but I kept the ingredients separate and served it to the kids as a wet dish rather than full-blown soup. I slurped it up as a soup myself. So good.

This time I used chicken legs, egg noodles, and a big can of mixed vegetables. I cooked the chicken in a pot on the stove, poured some of the juice off into a pan and cooked the noodles in it. When the noodles were almost done I tossed the vegetables in with them. I served the girls the noodles with veggies and a chicken leg to the side, with just a bit of chicken broth.

Tonight I intended on serving it to them as soup, and I cooked up some more noodles (angel hair pasta since I used all the egg noodles last night) and warmed up some frozen chicken stock. I put that together with what was left over from last night.

My 10-year-old niece asked me what we were having, and so I told her it was what we had last night, chicken noodle soup. She thought for a moment (trying to recall what we ate for supper last night, I guess) and then said, "I want some REAL chicken noodle soup."

I knew what she meant but I asked her anyway. She said, "You know, REAL chicken noodle soup. The kind in a can."

ACK. There's no comparison. I feigned hurt feelings and said, "What do you mean, REAL chicken noodle soup? THIS is REAL chicken noodle soup ... chicken, noodles, and vegetables!"

She still wasn't convinced and furthermore, decided to pass on my chicken noodle soup. All the kids decided to pass. Good, more REAL chicken noodle soup for me!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore

This easy recipe came to me via email this morning from All Recipes and is probably going to be the answer to my "What are we going to have for dinner tonight?" question. That is, if I can get to the grocery store in time to start the chicken.

Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore

6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1 (28 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce
2 green bell pepper, seeded and cubed
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 onion, finely diced
2 tablespoons minced garlic

Put the chicken in the slow cooker. Top with the spaghetti sauce, green bell peppers, mushrooms, onion, and garlic.
Cover, and cook on low for 7 to 9 hours. Serve over angel hair pasta.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Chicken Noodle Soup

This is very similar to the chicken with potatoes and veggies dish I last posted about.

Chicken Noodle Soup

6 chicken thighs (or whatever you like)
1/2 package angel hair pasta (or whatever kind you like)
Medium onion, diced
1 cup frozen mixed vegetables
Salt and pepper to taste

Place the chicken in a stock pot with water and onions, salt and pepper. Boil until it's done. In a separate pan, place the noodles and vegetables in boiling water and cook until it's almost done. Drain and return to pan. Serve together with the chicken and broth. When I cook chicken noodle soup, I usually keep the noodles separate from the broth because the noodles seem to want to soak up all the broth.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Deboning/cutting up chicken

We eat a lot of chicken so I was glad to find some great tips on deboning chicken thighs, deboning chicken breasts and cutting up a whole chicken at AllRecipes.com.

We buy a lot of bone-in chicken thighs since I prefer dark meat, thighs are easy to cook and eat, and of course, bone-in meat is cheaper. I normally don't take the bone out until it's completely cooked, but these tips say removing the bone reduces cooking time.

This summer I've been cooking our chicken either in the crock pot out on the back porch or on the stove in a pan of water. This winter I'll be able to turn the oven on and bake some chicken!

Friday, September 19, 2008

One Pot Chicken with Potatoes and Veggies

This can be served either as a wet dish or a soup. I gave it to the kids as a wet dish and ate it myself as a soup. Either way, it's delicious.

One Pot Chicken with Potatoes and Veggies

6 chicken thighs (or whatever you like)
12 small potatoes
Medium onion, diced
1 1/2 cups frozen mixed vegetables
Salt and pepper to taste

Place the chicken in a stock pot with water and onions and salt and pepper. Start it to boiling while you peel and chop the potatoes. I used the veggie chopper my grandma gave me for the potatoes and onions but of course a knife works just fine too. Put the potatoes in the pot and after a few minutes, add the vegetables. Cook until everything is done. Dish out with a spoon with holes in it for just a wet dish or use a ladle to eat it as soup.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Pasta with meat and veggie sauce

Here's something I threw together the other night with what I had on hand that could be cooked quickly. I had no idea how this would turn out but the kids devoured it and there wasn't anything left over. My 10-year-old niece, who is a very picky eater, seems to love all my one-dish meals made with whatever I have available. Hmmm.

Pasta with Meat and Veggie Sauce

Package of egg noodles

1 lb. ground turkey
1/2 medium onion, diced
Salt and pepper to taste
Can diced tomatoes, with juice
1 cup frozen mixed vegetables
Salt and pepper to taste

Put the noodles on to cook and then start the sauce. Brown the meat with the onions, and then add other ingredients. Cook until vegetables are tender. Serve the meat and veggie sauce over the noodles.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Turkey patties (with oatmeal, shhh!)

I had heard of using oatmeal to stretch ground meat but hadn't ever tried it. I had a pound of ground turkey thawed with five kids to feed the other night, so I figured if there was any time to experiment with stretching meat, that would be the time to do it. I used both oatmeal and eggs in the ground meat and nobody knew! Everybody ate like they hadn't eaten a thing all day long so I figure that was a success!

Turkey Patties with Oatmeal

1 lb. ground turkey
1 cup oatmeal (old fashioned)
2 small eggs (or one medium egg)
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 tbsp. olive or safflower oil
Salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients well and shape into patties. Place in a heated skilled oiled with olive or safflower oil. Cook until middle is done.

While the meat was cooking, I cooked some egg noodles in some leftover chicken stock. When the noodles were done, I poured some of the stock over the done meat patties and tossed in a little flour in an attempt to make gravy. It didn't look all that great to me (lumpy gravy) but it tasted fine. There wasn't anything left.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Beefy Potatoes and Peas

Here's another hearty, one-pan comfort food dish!

Beefy Potatoes and Peas

1 lb. hamburger meat
1 pkg. frozen purple hull peas
3 medium potatoes
Small onion, diced
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the hamburger meat with the onion. Take the meat out and place it on a paper towel and wipe out the skillet. Put the meat back in and add the frozen peas and salt and pepper. Cover the peas with water and start them to boiling. While the peas start cooking, peel the potatoes and chop into medium-sized chunks. Add the potatoes and cook until everything is done. It tastes better if it can simmer together for a while.

Serve with crackers. In the winter serve it over rice or with some fresh baked bread.

There are several variations for this recipe. If you use ground turkey, which is what I normally use, you can skip the draining step. You could also use any kind of frozen peas or beans. I thought the purple hull peas looked nice along with the potatoes, and they tasted really good together too.

I also thought this was delicious but the kids weren't so enthusiastic about it. (That's when they get the reminder about how fortunate they are that they have parents who feed them every day and that care if they eat or not, etc.!)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Beefy Beans

This is one of the many variations possible with my husband's family meal staple, Beefy Beans!

Beefy Beans

1 lb. ground beef
1 can pork and beans
1 can pinto beans
1 can stewed or diced tomatoes, with juice
1 cup vegetable juice (V-8)
2 tablespoons mild salsa
Small onion, diced
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the hamburger meat with the onion. Take the meat out and place it on a paper towel and wipe out the skillet. Put the meat back in and add the cans of beans and tomatoes, vegetable juice, salsa, and salt and pepper. Cook until thoroughly warm. Tastes better if it can simmer together for a while.

Serve with crackers. In the winter serve it over rice or with some fresh baked bread. All the kids loved it and there weren't any leftovers. (Rats.)

That was my quick version. You can use ground turkey (which is what I normally use; with that you can skip the draining step) and dried beans that you have cooked beforehand. You can use fresh tomatoes and green peppers or a whole jar of salsa, depending on which you have on hand or which you prefer. You can also use two cans of pork and beans instead of a can of that and a can of pinto beans. It doesn't really matter which way you decide to fix it, it's delicious!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Wonderful Meatloaf

Here is a recipe I simply must try! It's meatloaf with rice in it!

I have to wait until it cools off enough for me to turn the oven on to make this, though.

Wonderful Meatloaf

1 pound ground beef
3/4 cup cooked rice
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3/4 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon ketchup
1/2 cup ketchup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

In a large bowl, combine the beef, rice, brown sugar, onion and 1 tablespoon ketchup. Mix well and place in a 5x9 inch loaf pan.

Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 minutes. Spread remaining 1/2 cup ketchup over the top of the loaf. Bake for 15 more minutes.

This recipe comes from All Recipes. You can sign up for the daily recipe newsletter.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Slow Cooker Turkey Breast

With all the back porch slow cooker cooking I've been doing this summer, I was thrilled to get this recipe from All Recipes in my inbox this morning!

Slow Cooker Turkey Breast

1 (6 pound) bone-in turkey breast
1 (1 ounce) envelope dry onion soup mix

Rinse the turkey breast and pat dry. Cut off any excess skin, but leave the skin covering the breast. Rub onion soup mix all over outside of the turkey and under the skin. Place in a slow cooker. Cover, and cook on high for one hour, then set to low, and cook for seven hours.

I believe that's simple enough!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Crockpot potato soup

This recipe comes from About.com's Busy Cooks. I'm going to try it soon, using chicken stock I've frozen in place of the ready-to-serve chicken broth the recipe calls for.

Crockpot Potato Soup

* 5 russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
* 2 onions, chopped
* 4 cloves garlic, minced
* 3 (14-ounce) cans ready to serve chicken or vegetable broth
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 teaspoon pepper
* 1 (13-ounce) can evaporated milk
* 3 tablespoons flour
* 1 cup sour cream
* 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
* 2 Tbsp. dried snipped chives
* 1/8 teaspoon celery salt

Combine prepared potatoes with onions, garlic, broth, salt, and pepper in 4-5 quart crockpot. Cover and cook on low heat until potatoes are tender, 6-8 hours.

When potatoes are tender, coarsely mash with large spoon or potato masher.

Meanwhile, in medium bowl combine evaporated milk and 2 Tbsp. flour and mix well. Add to crockpot, stir well, and cook on high for 20-30 minutes to thicken.

Place sour cream in small bowl and mix with 1 Tbsp. flour; add some of the hot soup liquid; stir well with wire whisk to blend. Gently stir into crockpot along with remaining ingredients and cook on high for 20 minutes longer. Serves 8-10.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Applesauce update

We tried the applesauce recipes I posted yesterday and here are the results:

My son really liked the applesauce oatmeal (my version) but I didn't. But I was making it for him, after all. I made it without cinnamon since I don't like cinnamon and I wanted to try it. I'll just make it for him next time with cinnamon, since he does like it.

The strawberry applesauce recipe seemed rather complicated, what with boiling water and all that, so I just skipped that step. I just made individual servings of applesauce and then sprinkled a little gelatin powder in it and mixed it up. Delicious! A big hit with three applesauce eaters, and I loved it too.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Abundance of applesauce!

We had two coupons to buy two jars of applesauce and get one free at Kroger. One was mailed to us and another was generated by the computer at checkout. (I love how they track your purchases with your store card and get you coupons accordingly!) My husband tried to redeem both coupons the other night with six big jars of applesauce, but they only let him use one. He came home with the six jars anyway, and gave me the unused coupon. That means we have six jars of applesauce to eat with three more on the way. Two of our kids love applesauce but nine jars seems a bit much even for them to eat!

I looked online at All Recipes and Recipes 4 Living for recipes with applesauce as an ingredient and found tons. I was particularly looking for something I could make right now without heating up the house. My two favorites were applesauce oatmeal and strawberry applesauce.

Super Duper Oatmeal

1 cup milk
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup oats
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup applesauce
2 tablespoons wheat germ
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons sugar

Bring the milk and water to a boil in a pot. Mix in the oats, and reduce heat to medium. Stir in blueberries, applesauce, wheat germ, cinnamon, and sugar. Cook 8 to 10 minutes, or until oats are tender.

I am going to make this for my son for lunch but with some changes:

Applesauce Oatmeal

1 cup water
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup applesauce
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons milk

Cook the oatmeal according to package directions. When it's almost done, remove from heat and stir in milk, applesauce, sugar, and cinnamon.

This is how I already make it for him with just applesauce added.


Here's another one that is similar to how the girls' school fixes applesauce. My applesauce eaters LOVE this dish. They call it Rosy Applesauce at school.

Strawberry Applesauce

1 (3oz.) box strawberry gelatin
1 can applesauce
1 cup boiling water

Mix gelatin and boiling water, stir to dissolve. Add applesauce and stir. Chill, but do not allow to set. You can double or triple this recipe with ease.

I have a box of mixed fruit gelatin that I'll use to try this with later on today. The kids can have it for dessert after supper.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Chicken Pot Surprise #2

This recipe is somewhat similar to yesterday's Chicken Pot Surprise. I made it almost exactly the same, with only a few very minor modifications. The result was a completely different dish with a different appearance and a different flavor. The kids seemed to like the #2 recipe better.

Chicken Pot Surprise #2

3-4 chicken leg quarters
Medium onion, chopped
Several small potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1-2 cups frozen purple hull peas
1-2 cups frozen butter beans
1/2 cup frozen okra
Salt and pepper to taste

Place the chicken leg quarters and chopped onions in a stock pot and cover with water. Add salt and pepper and turn on medium-high heat. While the chicken is boiling, peel and chop the potatoes. I used my handy-dandy veggie chopper that my grandma gave me! Add the potatoes and vegetables when the chicken is about half to three-quarters done.

This time I stirred the chicken up with the rest of it instead of keeping it separate like I did with the other recipe. That gave it an entirely different appearance, as did chopping the potatoes with the vegetable cutter as opposed to just cutting them up into chunks with a knife the way I did yesterday's recipe.

The small amount of okra gave this recipe some flavor. Since I put it in so early, the okra itself just kind of melted into the dish and gave it the flavor without the pieces sitting there staring at you. (I don't really care for okra!) I was really surprised at the difference in flavor and I think the kids were too.

We got two meals from this dish as with the other one. That's always a good thing.

I served them both as kind of a wet, one-dish meal with crackers but in the winter the very same recipe could be served as soup with some bread. Yummy!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Chicken Pot Surprise

We had this dish a few nights ago and it was surprisingly good! It was even better the second night.

It came about pretty much by accident and in stages of mistakes and misfortunes: 1. I didn't load the slow cooker in time; 2. I didn't know how many people I was going to end up feeding; and 3. I didn't have many groceries in the house.

It was basically an experiment or really just a fluke. I put some chicken in the slow cooker with the intention of putting a few potatoes in with it and steaming some veggies when it was time to eat. But I didn't start the chicken in time and then I realized that my nieces were most likely going to eat supper with us. I dumped the chicken in a stock pot, peeled more potatoes, and grabbed some frozen peas and beans to throw in there, and turned that fire up!

It's easy because it cooks all in one pot, as it turns out.

Chicken Pot Surprise

6-8 chicken legs or thighs
Several potatoes
Medium onion
1 cup frozen field peas with snaps
1 lb. frozen speckled butter beans
Salt and pepper to taste

Put the chicken, onion (cut up), and salt and pepper in a large pot and cover with water. Cover and boil. While the chicken is cooking, peel several potatoes and cut them up in chunks. When the chicken gets about halfway done, put in the potatoes, peas, and beans. You will probably need to add a bit more water.

When everything gets done, it's ready to serve a couple of different ways. Either serve the chicken intact with the potatoes and peas on the side or tear the chicken up and mix it up with the potatoes and peas. I served the chicken intact.

This looked pretty good in the bowl actually, rather like good comfort food! I liked the way the peas and beans looked with the potato chunks for some reason. My husband actually liked it and said so. My girls ate the chicken and picked over the rest. My nieces ended up not eating with us that first night.

We ate all the chicken the first night but had a good bit of potatoes and peas left. I browned a half a pound of ground turkey and put it in the pot and warmed it all up. It tasted better that night, and the kids ate it better. My nieces loved it and ate three servings each.

I pondered over what to call it and ended up deciding on "Chicken Pot Surprise" since I was just adding stuff as I went, and because you can make it so many different ways.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

These blasted dishes!

My new dishwasher, purchased this summer with some of our "economic stimulus" money. It's been getting a good workout lately since I haven't been buying paper products for serving meals.

The dishes are piling up in the sink AGAIN, this time because I haven't been buying paper products for serving our meals lately. A budget crackdown of late has kept me out of the store except only when absolutely necessary, and then only to buy what is absolutely necessary, so I just haven't bought any of the plates, cups and bowls that I like to have around.

I started buying paper plates, etc. last summer when the kids had a lot of their friends over. I was driving myself nuts trying to keep all the dishes washed, so I gave up and gave in to buying paper. I always feel bad about making so much trash but my sanity is also very important.

The bowls seem to be the main problem. We eat a lot of cereal and ice cream, and sometimes I serve the kids their meals in bowls. Now without the paper bowls the sink fills quickly with plastic bowls. To top it off, no one rinses their bowls out (the kids do from time to time) so I'm left with a sinkful of sticky, crusty bowls. GROSS.

It doesn't take long for the sink to get full of all these bowls.

As far as cost goes, I wonder if it's not cheaper for me to buy paper instead of using a lot of water and soap to wash all the regular dishes, or at least the same price. Hmmm ...

Friday, August 29, 2008

Roast Beef with ... Coffee?

Yes, you read that right! That does say Roast Beef with Coffee!

The recipe from All Recipes says not to pass this up just because it sounds strange. No joke! I do love roast beef cooked in the slow cooker and I do love coffee; I'm just not sure about the combination. I have to try it!

Roast Beef with Coffee

4 pounds chuck roast
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups prepared strong coffee
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup water

Preheat slow cooker to low setting OR preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Using a sharp knife, make 5 or 6 deep slits around the top and side of the roast. Push the whole cloves of garlic down into the slits. Place the meat in a slow cooker OR a 10x15 inch roasting pan and pour the coffee over the meat.

Cook in slow cooker on low setting for 6 to 8 hours OR bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 2 to 3 hours.

When roast is done, remove from slow cooker OR oven, and pour the drippings into a small saucepan over medium low heat. In a separate small bowl, combine the cornstarch and water. Mix well and add slowly to the drippings, stirring constantly. Simmer until thickened.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Use your leftover coffee grounds!

This coffee tip came from a frugal blog a few years ago. I mentioned it a few days ago in my Kitchen/Food Tips post but it bears singling out, if you ask me.

It seems a bit weird, maybe even gross, at first but I guarantee if you try it you will be impressed.

Use your leftover coffee grounds to make the next pot of coffee! When you make a pot of coffee, save the grounds until the next time you make coffee. Put half the amount of fresh coffee grounds that you normally use in with the leftover grounds. For instance, if you use two scoops of fresh grounds, place one scoop of fresh grounds on top of the leftover grounds. Brew the coffee with the same amount of water you normally use.

You can't taste the difference, or at least I can't!

You can do this at least once and I've even used the leftover grounds twice.

(Now if I could just cut back on the amount of sugar and creamer I use I'd really be getting somewhere.)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

School lunches

My kids usually eat lunch in the cafeteria at school, but some days the lunch is just icky and I let them take their lunch to school.

At night I prepare the dry part of the lunch (chips, cookies, etc.) by placing small amounts in snack size plastic baggies (I have to buy name brand plastic baggies for food because the store brand ones make your food stink, or to me they do.) I put that and a piece of fruit in their lunch bags (got some nice basic ones at Target for $3.99 each) at night before I go to bed. In the morning they usually like to make their own PB&J sandwiches, and then I cut them up into halves or fourths and put them in sandwich size plastic baggies. The last thing that goes in is a juice box or water bottle. (I haven't had either this week so they've gotten milk from school.)

The hardest thing with school lunches is getting the girls to remember to bring their lunch containers home!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Good ole PB&J

Thank goodness for good ole PB&J! My kids love it and eat it for snacks and quick suppers. They take their lunch to school sometimes and they usually rather have that than a sandwich with meat and cheese.

My six-year-old literally ate PB&J for every meal a couple of days ago. She wanted to make her own lunch for school, but the sandwich turned out a bit messy so she decided to eat it right then instead of trying to put it in a bag. She still wanted PB&J for lunch, so I made her another one and put it in her lunch bag. She picked at her supper that night and ate three -- count 'em, three! -- PB&Js afterward.

Needless to say we are running through about a loaf of bread a day and a lot of peanut butter and jelly.

Our favorite kind of peanut butter is the Kroger brand roasted peanut butter with honey, followed closely by the Kroger creamy peanut butter. We aren't picky on brands/varieties of jelly so we just usually grab whatever. I like the kinds that smear easily, and I'm partial to blackberry. For bread we love Nature's Own wheat bread and we've just tried the Market Pantry brand of wheat bread at Target and we just love it. It's so wheat-y! We also buy the Kroger brand wheat bread a lot.

I love PB&J myself but I love PB&B (banana) even better. It's excellent with thick peanut butter and thick bananas on wheat bread and washed down with a vanilla cola.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Chicken and Veggie Pasta

You can have a delicious hot cooked meal in mid-August without heating the house up! All you need is a slow cooker and an electrical outlet outside.

We loved this Chicken and Veggie Pasta, another one of my meals cooked in the slow cooker outside. The variations are countless, so you could basically have this same meal for days on end without any complaints

Chicken and Veggie Pasta

6-8 chicken thighs
1 lb. package angel hair pasta
1 cup frozen veggies (I used corn, peas, carrots, and green beans)
Medium onion
Salt and pepper to taste

Place chicken, cut up onion, and salt and pepper in the slow cooker. Plug up outside and cook for a few hours on high or several hours on low.

When the chicken is done, drain the juice out into a pan and add a little bit of water if necessary. Break the pasta into thirds and place in the pan. After a minute or so, add the vegetables. Cook until the pasta is almost done (Be careful, angel hair pasta cooks very quickly.) Drain the pasta and vegetables over the slow cooker so that the juice goes back to the chicken.

Serve the chicken either beside the pasta or torn over the pasta. Salt and pepper to taste.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Kitchen/cooking tips

A friend emailed me some great kitchen/cooking tips. I added some tips of my own (and some comments). Here they are:

Eat bananas the easy way
Peel a banana from the bottom and you won't have to pick the little strings off of it. That's how the primates do it. (My husband does this sometimes.)

Ripe bananas
Take your bananas apart when you get home from the store. If you leave them connected at the stem, they ripen faster. (I like mine ripe so I won't be pulling mine apart.)

Storing cheese
Store your opened chunks of cheese in aluminum foil. It will stay fresh much longer and not mold!

Peppers with 3 bumps on the bottom are sweeter and better for eating. Peppers with 4 bumps on the bottom are firmer and better for cooking.

Frying ground beef
Add a teaspoon of water when frying ground beef. It will help pull the grease away from the meat while cooking. (We don't even use ground beef but this is a great tip to share!)

Rich eggs
To really make scrambled eggs or omelets rich add a couple of spoonfuls of sour cream, cream cheese, or heavy cream in and then beat them up.

Brownies, only better
For a cool brownie treat, make brownies as directed. Melt Andes mints in double broiler and pour over warm brownies. Let set for a wonderful minty frosting.

Add garlic immediately to a recipe if you want a light taste of garlic and at the end of the recipe if your want a stronger taste of garlic.

Heating leftover pizza
Heat up leftover pizza in a nonstick skillet on top of the stove, set heat to medium-low and heat till warm. This keeps the crust crispy.

Easy deviled eggs
Put cooked egg yolks in a zip-seal plastic bag. Seal, mash till they are all broken up. Add remainder of ingredients, reseal, keep mashing it up, mixing thoroughly. Cut the tip of the baggy, squeeze mixture into egg. Just throw bag away when done easy clean up.

Expand your cake frosting
When you buy a container of cake frosting from the store, whip it with your mixer for a few minutes. You can double it in size. You get to frost more cake/cupcakes with the same amount. You also eat less sugar and calories per serving.

Warming refrigerated bread
To warm biscuits, pancakes, or muffins that were refrigerated, place them in a microwave with a cup of water. The increased moisture will keep the food moist and help it reheat faster. (My husband always does this.)

Sticky stuff in the measuring cups
Before you pour sticky substances into a measuring cup, fill with hot water. Dump out the hot water, but don't dry cup. Next, add your ingredient, such as peanut butter, and watch how easily it comes right out.

Clean stains off the counters
Use baking soda to clean stains (red juice, etc.) off of the kitchen countertops.

Mopping the floor
Use vinegar and water to mop the kitchen floor and you'll find your floor has never been so clean. Just run a sink about half-full of water and add a cup of vinegar or so. It's safe to use on all floor types.

Throw away your disgusting kitchen sponges and scrubbers and recycle instead! Use the mesh bags that produce like onions and apples come in. Place a wash rag inside and scrub your pots, etc. The stiff ones that onions come in work best for tough jobs. After a few uses, discard and get another one.

Stretch your coffee
Keep the leftover coffee grounds from the last time you made a pot of coffee and use them again! Just add half the amount of coffee grounds you normally use to the leftover grounds and brew as normal. (If you use two scoops, just add one scoop of grounds to the leftover grounds. You can use leftover grounds at least once and I've done it twice.) The coffee tastes just fine.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Crockpot Pizza Chicken

About.com's Busy Cooks newsletter sent what I thought was a very interesting recipe this morning: Crockpot Pizza Chicken. Intrigued, I had to see just how to make it. There are just a few staple ingredients involved, and you can start cooking it in the afternoon. I was planning on putting some chicken in the slow cooker (outside on the back porch of course) early this afternoon so the kids can have a good supper after school and a work appointment this afternoon, so I may toss in the extra ingredients to make this pizza chicken. If I don't do it today I'll definitely do it in the next few days.

Crockpot Pizza Chicken

8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 onion, chopped
2 bell peppers, cut into 1" pieces
2 cups pasta sauce
1 cup shredded pizza cheese

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and place in a 3-4 quart crockpot. Top with onions and bell peppers and pour pasta sauce over all. Cover crockpot and cook on low 4-5 hours until chicken is thoroughly cooked. Stir well, then sprinkle with cheese and let stand 5 minutes to melt cheese. Serve over cooked pasta or rice. 8 servings

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Slow Cooker Chicken Stroganoff

It's cooled off a bit thanks to the lovely rain of late but I'm still cooking meals out on the back porch in the slow cooker.

Here's a good recipe for that:

Slow Cooker Chicken Stroganoff

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cubed
1/8 cup margarine
1 (.7 ounce) package dry Italian-style salad dressing mix
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup

Put chicken, margarine and dressing mix in slow cooker; mix together and cook on low for 5 to 6 hours.

Add cream cheese and soup, mix together and cook on high for another 1/2 hour or until heated through and warm.

This can be served on rice but pasta (like egg noodles) cooks faster so I'll probably put it over noodles and serve with steamed veggies.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

One Pot Lunch #2

Here's another recipe for a One Pot Lunch. It's again inspired by not wanting to heat the house and not having tons of groceries in the house but still having several kids to feed! The main ingredients are a couple of kid favorites -- macaroni and cheese and hot dogs!

One Pot Lunch

Two boxes macaroni and cheese
Several hot dogs
1 cup mixed vegetables
Shredded cheese
Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper

Boil the macaroni and cheese from both boxes. When it gets close to being finished, add the vegetables. When it's almost done, drain the pasta and vegetables and mix in the milk and cheese from the packages. Add salt and pepper if you like. Toss in the hot dogs and let it sit for a minute so they get warm. Sprinkle shredded cheese and Parmesan cheese on top.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

One Pot Pasta Lunch

With the temperature only getting up to 79 yesterday, I got bold and decided to use the stove to cook lunch for the kids. The boldness didn't extend to using any more than one eye on the stove so I cooked everything in the same pot together, hence the One Pot Pasta Lunch.

Depending on how many kids you have to feed you should have some left over. I have five and we have plenty of leftover pasta and broccoli that we can put with a different kind of meat today.

Another great thing about this dish is you can completely change up the ingredients for a totally different meal the next time you decide to make this.

One Pot Pasta Lunch

Chicken stock, packaged broth, or bouillon cubes
1 lb. pkg. farfalle pasta (or any pasta)
1 pkg. turkey sausage link (or hot dogs)
2 cups frozen broccoli (or any frozen veggie)
½ can cream of mushroom soup
Salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese

Prepare pasta in the stock/broth according to package directions. When it's almost done, drop in the meat and frozen veggies. Be careful to not overcook. (I usually remove my pasta and/or veggies off the stove right before they get done since they continue to cook.)

When the pasta is done, drain everything, return to the pan and remove the meat. Stir the pasta and vegetables with the soup, salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle with extra Parmesan cheese and serve with the meat.

If you are out of stock and/or soup or your kids prefer plainer/drier food, you can eliminate either or both.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Favorite kitchen smells

For all my dread of all things involving the kitchen, there is one thing I really enjoy about it ... the smell of freshly brewed coffee emanating from that room!

I have always loved the smell of freshly brewed coffee, even when I was a child and did not like coffee.

(The smell of stale coffee isn't offensive but just not nearly as pleasing.)

My second favorite kitchen aroma would have to be the smell of meat cooking in the crock pot with onions and seasonings.

I do so hate the smell given off by a sinkful of dishes that you keep putting off, and of course the odor in the fridge when something has evidently died in there. Yuck.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Picky Tiffany's Crockpot Gravy and Chicken

With all my slow cooker cooking out on the back porch lately, Picky Tiffany's Crockpot Gravy and Chicken caught my eye!

She made gravy right in the slow cooker with the chicken by adding flour a bit at a time to some ready-made broth in the pot.

I will be trying this within the next few days! I hope mine turns out pretty good.

Thanks Picky Tiffany!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Parmesan Pasta with Turkey Sausage

I mixed up this yummy dish yesterday. I was actually going to put chicken in it (I had some chicken I had cooked the day before in the slow cooker out on the back porch) but as I was looking through the fridge I discovered a package of smoked turkey sausage! So yummy. I used to eat real smoked sausage in my days of super-high metabolism but I can't do that anymore. If you're not in the habit of eating the real thing, turkey sausage is really good!

Preparing the sausage was kind of tedious. I wanted the peeling (I think you actually call it casing) off of the sausage since my one-year-old would be eating it. I ended up slicing the sausage in circles and then peeling the casing off each circle of sausage, kind of like how you peel an apple. I couldn't help but wonder if there is a product out there on the market especially for peeling sausage casings. I'm sure there is.

It was worth it because my son loved the sausage. His six-year-old sister did too!

Parmesan Pasta with Turkey Sausage

Package of elbow macaroni
1/2 smoked sausage turkey link
1/2 can cream of mushroom soup
Salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese

Cook the macaroni according to package directions. While it's cooking, cut up the sausage and remove the casing. Drain macaroni and mix together with sausage, soup, seasonings, and Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle a little extra Parmesan cheese on top.

You can add more sausage and use a whole can of soup, but I was trying to conserve the soup and I was getting tired of peeling sausage!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Quick and Easy Parmesan Pasta with Chicken

Here's a good way to give the kids something hot to eat while your cabinets are pretty bare AND you're trying not to heat up the kitchen.

Quick and Easy Parmesan Pasta with Chicken

Can of chicken
Package of pasta
Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the pasta (half a package to one can of chicken) according to package directions. While it's cooking open the can of chicken and drain. When the pasta is almost done, drain it and mix it with the chicken, butter, salt and pepper, and Parmesan cheese.

Top with extra Parmesan cheese.

This would be better with something to hold it together (preferably cream of mushroom soup or cream of chicken soup) but I didn't have any. It worked fine like this. My husband mixed some vinaigrette dressing up with his.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

She's on to something here

My niece thinks Parmesan cheese is a snack food all to itself. She saves the packages that come from the pizza place to nibble on and enjoy all by themselves.

We never really kept Parmesan cheese in the house until a friend came over and bought groceries to cook spaghetti. He got some Parmesan cheese, and left it for us to use. I've sprinkled it on the kids' food and had it some myself. I decided it was a good thing to have around.

The other night I was going to eat some macaroni and cheese that the kids' didn't like (if you ever think you should see how whipped salad dressing tastes in macaroni and cheese, don't) and I was looking for something to put on it. I was first hunting in the refrigerator for some ketchup and discovered a container of Parmesan cheese. I dumped a good bit of it on my macaroni and believe it or not, it actually made the less-than-pleasing dish quite eatable!

Needless to say I was surprised and decided my niece must be right about the Parmesan cheese.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Back Porch Beans

Here's another take on back porch (or front porch or carport or just anywhere besides in the house) cooking!

Back Porch Beans

Brown beans
Meat (optional)

Rinse beans thoroughly and place in slow cooker with water and seasonings. (I used juice from my Back Porch Pot Roast along with some water in mine.) After a few hours, slice up an onion (and some frozen meat like a turkey leg) and place it in the pot, and plug the pot up outside. Cook on high for a few hours, until done.

Serve with crackers.

Enjoy your hot meal that didn't heat up the kitchen.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Back Porch Pot Roast

The pot roast and potatoes I cooked in the crock pot out on the back porch the other day was great!

We ate on it all weekend, and I kept the leftover juice to use for some beans.

I've given the recipe a name, and here it is!

Back Porch Pot Roast


Load your slow cooker up with the roast, seasonings, and onions. Plug it up out on the porch (rather than in the house) and cook on high for a few hours (or low for several hours). When it's almost done, peel several potatoes and cut them up in chunks. Place them in the slow cooker with the roast.

Enjoy your hot cooked meal and your nice cool kitchen!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Beating the heat!

It's been so hot lately and I haven't cooked (much) all week long. It's made a big difference in keeping the temperature of the house down but I'm ready for some cooked food. I'm sure the kids are too.

This morning I pulled a big roast (my husband got it for less than half price, I think, it was $5) out of the freezer, put it in the crock pot with some onions and seasonings, and plugged the crock pot up out on the back porch!

The pot is actually almost within reaching distance of where I am sitting right now and I can smell it.

After while I'm going to put some potatoes in it. We should be able to eat three meals from it. We had one of these roasts a couple of weeks ago and we ate on it for three meals. Delicious!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Easy Chicken Noodle Casserole

This recipe is very similar to some of the casseroles that I make. I want to try this version as soon as the temperature dips under 100!

Easy Chicken Noodle Casserole

2 chicken breasts, boiled, reserve water
1 1/2 cups spiral pasta
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can of sweet corn
Crushed potato chips

Boil chicken in about 3 cups of water until done, about 20 minutes. Remove chicken, add pasta to water. Cook for 7 minutes. Drain. Preheat oven to 350 degree. Shred the chicken. Add chicken and pasta to 9 x 13 baking dish. Stir in canned soups and drained corn and mix well. Smooth top of casserole and cover with crumbled potato chips. Bake for 30 minutes.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Pasta with Peas and Sausage

This recipe is a bit different that what you would expect from pasta recipe, or at least somewhat different than what I would expect. I really want to try it, but of course with some of my own modifications. I would probably use turkey sausage in place of the Italian sausage (although nothing beats the taste of REAL sausage) and sour cream or plain yogurt in place of the heavy cream.

Pasta with Peas and Sausage

1 pound rigatoni pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
12 ounces frozen green peas
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.

In a skillet heat oil and saute garlic over medium heat. Brown sausage in skillet. Once brown add frozen peas and simmer for 5 minutes. Slowly add heavy cream and butter to skillet; bring to a slight boil. Add more cream if necessary. Cook for 5 minutes. Toss with cooked pasta and top with Parmesan cheese.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

It's too hot to cook!

With temperatures hovering around 100 and the central air unit struggling to keep the house bearable the past few days, it's just been too hot to cook!

I've been making the kids a some oatmeal on the stove in the mornings before it gets hot, but the rest of the day we've been eating fruit, sandwiches (PB&J, PB&banana, tuna, or egg with the egg cooked in the microwave) and a lot of ice cream!

I'm ready for a nice cooked meal myself, and I'm pretty sure the kids are too.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Easy frozen fruit treats!

One thing I haven't made this summer is frozen treats for the kids! Here's a recipe that calls for fruit and either juice or yogurt. Yummy! (This recipe uses "popsicle" as a generic term for a frozen treat though it is actually a name brand.)

Super easy frozen fruit treats

Juice or yogurt
-orange juice
-cranberry raspberry juice
-strawberry yogurt
-blueberry yogurt
-plain yogurt

-mango, in chunks
-strawberries, cut up
-pineapple, in chunks
-kiwi, sliced

Use plastic popsicle makers or plastic cups with popsicle sticks.

Fill your containers with fruit first. Then, pour in juice or yogurt. Insert stick (or lid if using popsicle maker) and put in the freezer. Let freeze overnight.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Cheesy Italian Tortellini

This recipe is one I definitely want to try. How easy could it be to cook up a delicious meal? I think the kids would really like this, too.

Cheesy Italian Tortellini

1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound Italian sausage, casings removed
1 (16 ounce) jar marinara sauce
1 (4.5 ounce) can sliced mushrooms
1 (14.5 ounce) can Italian-style diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (9 ounce) package refrigerated or fresh cheese tortellini
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Crumble the ground beef and Italian sausage into a large skillet. Cook over medium-high heat until browned. Drain.

Combine the ground meats, marinara sauce, mushrooms, and tomatoes in a slow cooker. Cover, and cook on low heat for 7 to 8 hours.

Stir in the tortellini, and sprinkle the mozzarella and cheddar cheese over the top. Cover and cook for 15 more minutes on low, or until the tortellini is tender.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Free recipe books

One of my favorite sites, About.com, has a wonderful listing of free recipe books!

You can get everything from sweet potato or black olive recipe cards to recipe booklets from companies that make spaghetti sauce, salad dressing, jelly,baked beans, raisins and the list just goes on and on!

There is a recipe cookbook for diabetics as well as booklets offered by organizations that promote food products like salmon and catfish.

To get some of the recipe booklets you need to register at a site, which of course is free.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Nacho Bake

This recipe came from a box of shells and cheese. I was whipping some up for the kids and noticed the recipe on the back of the box. I threw in what I had from the recipe and made a few substitutions. I'll post the recipe as it is listed and then note how I really made it.

Nacho Bake

1 pkg. shells and cheese dinner
1 lb. ground beef
1 pkg. taco seasoning mix
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup sour cream
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
3/4 cup salsa
1/2 cup coarsely crushed tortilla chips

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare dinner according to package directions. While pasta is cooking, brown meat, drain. Add taco seasoning mix and water to the meat, simmer 5 minutes.

Stir sour cream into prepared dinner. Spoon half the dinner mixture into 8-inch square baking dish, top with layers of the meat mixture, half of the cheese, and the remaining dinner mixture. Cover.

Bake 15 minutes; top with salsa, remaining cheese and the crushed tortilla chips. Bake, uncovered, for 5 minutes.

Michelle's quick version (not as detailed)

1 pkg. shells and cheese dinner
1 can tuna
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup coarsely crushed nacho chips
1/2 can diced tomatoes with chilis

Prepare dinner according to package directions. Add tuna, sour cream, and diced tomatoes with chilis. Stir well and sprinkle with shredded cheese. Place on top of crushed chips.

I liked it fixed this way but the kids said it was too spicy. Good thing I didn't use the whole can of tomatoes with chilis. Next time I'll try fixing it a little closer to the recipe.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Pasta recipes!

There's a great list of pasta salads at Recipes4Living!

Pretty much everyone loves a good pasta salad. If you don't like one in this list there are several others in the list you're bound to love.

I'm going to try the broccoli and tortellini one first, I think, and then the tuna pasta salad! Yum, yum!

Here's one of them:

Broccoli Tortellini Salad

6 slices bacon
20 oz. fresh cheese-filled tortellini
1/2 C. mayonnaise
1/2 C. white sugar
2 tsp. cider vinegar
3 heads fresh broccoli, cut into florets
1 C. raisins
1 C. sunflower seeds
1 red onion, finely chopped

Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain, crumble and set aside. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook tortellini in boiling water for 8-10 minutes or until al dente. Drain, and rinse under cold water. In a small bowl, mix together mayonnaise, sugar and vinegar to make the dressing. In a large bowl, combine broccoli, tortellini, bacon, raisins, sunflower seeds and red onion. Pour dressing over salad, and toss.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Budget cooking

With five kids to feed all day most days I'm always trying to come up with more food for less money. Two of my favorite recipe sites have entire sections devoted to budget cooking!

All Recipes

Recipes 4 Living

See what you think!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Classic Tuna Noodle Casserole

There are a hundred different ways to make a tuna noodle casserole, and this one calls for chips on top!

Classic Tuna Noodle Casserole

1 (16 ounce) package uncooked pasta shells
2 (6 ounce) cans tuna, drained
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of celery soup
1 1/4 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
4 slices processed American cheese
1 1/2 cups crushed potato chips

Boil pasta in lightly salted water for 10 minutes, or until al dente; drain well. Return the pasta to the pot it was cooked in.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Spray a 2 1/2 quart casserole dish with cooking spray.

Mix tuna with cream of mushroom soup, cream of celery soup, milk, salt, black pepper, and garlic in a medium saucepan. Place pan over medium low heat, and heat through. Alternatively, place these ingredients in a microwave safe dish, and warm in the microwave.

Mix tuna mixture with pasta. Spread 1/2 of the noodles into the prepared dish. Arrange the cheese slices over the noodles, then spread the remaining noodle mixture over the cheese. Top with crushed potato chips.

Bake, uncovered, for 20 to 30 minutes; cook until the casserole is hot, and the chips begin to brown. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Top Ten Kitchen List

Here's my Top Ten Kitchen List, otherwise known as my favorite things in the kitchen. (This could be interesting coming from someone who hates the kitchen.) It's a list of my favorite/most used kitchen items, not including obvious things like the refrigerator, stove, and oven.

Top Ten Kitchen List

1. Coffee maker. Well, duh! This one appliance makes entering an otherwise unbearable room a while lot more pleasant.

2. Vegetable chopper. My grandma gave me this wonderful vegetable chopper that I use to cut up and dice mostly potatoes and onions. I love it.

3. Mixer. I don't use it all that often but it sure comes in handy for mixing up pancakes and mashed potatoes.

4. Strainer. I have this green plastic strainer bowl that I use all the time since I make pasta a lot for the girls. The strainer rarely even gets put up in the cabinet because I use it again before I put it away.

5. Slow cooker. What's not to love about throwing some food in there in the morning, smelling it cook all day, and taking the lid off to supper in the evenings?

6. Can opener. I need it to open all my cans of cream of mushroom soup, tuna, and spaghetti sauce. (Hunt's Garlic and Herb is just as good as mine and only costs $1!)

7. Hmmm, I think that's about it. I can't believe I got this far, actually. How about 7-10, the coffee maker!

Now I'll go back to hating the kitchen!

Monday, July 21, 2008

More free recipes

Another place to get great free recipes is Parent Society!

You can join (for free) to get access to lots of recipes and can even sign up for "Relish," the recipe newsletter.

I like getting the recipe newsletters so I can get a good idea of what recipes a site has to offer. If I really like the selection of recipes and the ease of use of the site I'll just bookmark the site and look there for recipes when I need them.

Free recipes from moms

Message boards for moms are a great place to find free recipes. The Internet has many, many good message boards for mothers, but here are a few that I go to.

Freelance Mom

Mommy Enterprises

Moms Network


You can access the recipes without registering on the sites but while you're there you may as well create a free account and post a few recipes of your own!