Monday, June 30, 2008

Leftovers! (No cooking today!)

We've had company all weekend and now that they've gone, we've got loads of leftovers in the refrigerator! Yipee!

I just took inventory and we have spaghetti sauce and noodles, stuff for burritos and nachos, and all manner of fresh produce including a salad already made.

So it looks like I won't have to do any cooking today, or maybe just a bit of eggs and oatmeal for breakfast. I'm thinking egg and cheese burritos for breakfast for the girls and oatmeal for the baby.

I do like this!

There is ONE thing I like to do in the kitchen ... make coffee! Here's me drinking coffee from one of my favorite mugs. My daughter took this picture a couple of years ago.

My most recent coffee purchase was a one-cup coffee maker I got for two bucks at a yard sale about a month ago. I thought I might take it to my sister's house and leave it there for when I go visit her, but I have been using it a lot at night. I like to have a cup at night sometimes when I need to stay up and work.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Slow Cooker Italian Beef and Potato Casserole

Who doesn't love slow cooker meals? It's wonderful to be able to load up the cooker with goodies in the morning and then come supper time, dinner's ready! My husband is great about piling the slow cooker up and turning supper on and all I have to do is smell it cooking all day and dip it out when it's time to eat.

You can substitute ground turkey for the ground beef in this recipe but then that would change the name of the recipe. Hmmm ...

Slow Cooker Italian Beef and Potato Casserole

1 lb lean ground beef
5 1/2 oz scalloped potatoes mix
16 oz can tomatoes
1 can pizza sauce
1/2 c water
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp basil
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 c cubed mozzarella cheese

Brown ground beef, drain well. Put in slow cooker (Crock Pot) with dried potatoes from scalloped potato mix and sauce mix. Add tomatoes, pizza sauce, water, oregano, basil and garlic. Stir to mix. Cover and cook on low for 4 to 5 hours. Turn to high, stir in cubed cheese. Cover and cook for 10 to 15 minutes longer.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Cheesy Chicken Dress-Up

Here's my Cheesy Chicken Dress-Up, so called because of the bow tie pasta. (Get it, you are dressed up when you have a bow tie on! LOL)

I made this recipe up. I call it “dress-up” because of the bow-tie pasta! ;-)

Cheesy Chicken Dress-Up

Chicken (I used one leg quarter)

Cream of mushroom soup (about a half a can or so)

Bow-tie pasta (I used half a one-pound box)

Shredded cheese (about one cup in total, I used Colby Jack)

Put the chicken in a pan of water on the stove with onions, salt, and pepper, and boil until tender. When the chicken is finished, take it out and save the water you cooked it in for the noodles. When it cools, pull the meat off the bone. Cook the bow-tie pasta according to package directions in the chicken broth. When the pasta is done, drain it and add the soup, cut up chicken, and most of the cheese. Stir it all up with a bit of salt and pepper and sprinkle some more cheese on the top.

I served it with steamed yellow and zucchini squash, microwaved in a steam bag for about three minutes. Delicious!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Easy alfredo dishes!

Here's a super easy recipe for an alfredo dish that you can actually make three ways -- chicken, grilled chicken, or shrimp!

Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo

1/2 of a 16 oz. pkg. linguine
1 cup fresh or frozen broccoli flowerets
2 tbsp. butter
1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1 1/2" pieces
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

Prepare linguine according to package directions in 3-qt. saucepan. Add broccoli during last 4 minutes of cooking time. Drain linguine and broccoli well in colander.

Heat butter in 10" skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook until well browned, stirring often.

Stir soup, milk, cheese, black pepper, and linguine mixture into skillet. Cook until mixture is hot and bubbling. Serve with additional Parmesan cheese.

Make this Grilled Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo by using grilled chicken breasts.

Make it Shrimp and Broccoli Alfredo by using 1 lb. fresh extra large shrimp, shelled and deveined, for the chicken. Cook until shrimp turn pink.

I love both chicken and shrimp alfredo! Yum, yum!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Tuna gravy

This sounds really weird but it's so good!

1 can tuna, drained
1 can cream of mushroom soup

Put a can of cream of mushroom soup in a pan on the stove and enough water to make it gravy consistency. Add the can of tuna and heat until thoroughly warm.

This tastes wonderful over white rice or biscuits. I also like to put it over eggs.

The first time my husband made this for me I thought it was going to be just awful. I was quite surprised to discover how delicious it really was. Now I love to make it for company and watch them have the very same reaction I had!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Country pie (or a dish with meat, rice, and sauce)

I found this recipe and it sounds really good and of course, super easy and cheap to make.

It's called "Country Pie" but I'm not sure why. I think while I'm making it I'll come up with another name.

Country Pie

1 lb. ground beef
1 jar (14oz) spaghetti sauce
3-4 cups uncooked white minute rice
Mozzarella cheese to cover top

Brown and drain ground beef. Combine meat and 1/2 cup spaghetti sauce. Spread evenly into bottom of 13x9 dish.(will be spread thin). Mix remaining sauce with rice. You can add 1/4 cup water to sauce jar and shake. Use up the last of the sauce in rice. Mix well. Spread evenly over meat. Sprinkle with cheese. Cover with foil. Bake 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove foil. Bake uncovered 15 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Serve with garlic bread or bread and butter.

Of course I can't just follow a recipe. I always have regular rice on hand so I'll use that instead of minute rice. I'll cook the rice first and then mix it in with the recipe and adjust the cooking times. I'll also substitute ground turkey for the ground beef. I'm looking forward to making this and I hope the kids will like it!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

More kid-friendly food

I ran across these kid-friendly recipes (as in the kids will probably eat this and can probably help make it too) this morning and am planning to fix them soon.

Potato Croquets

Cold mashed potatoes
Crumbs (regular or Italian)

Shape some mashed potatoes into your favorite shape and roll it into the crumbs.

Pop in the oven until hot.

Serve with a little bit of butter on top.

Mini Pigs in a Blanket

Mini sausage links (like Lil Smokies)
Crescent rolls

Cut each crescent roll square into 4 pieces, wrap around sausage, and cook according to crescent roll package directions. Serve with dipping sauces such as mustard, ketchup, sweet and sour sauce or whatever you like.

Box dinners

Yes, we eat box dinners from time to time! ;-) By "box dinner" I mean the kind generally referred to as "hamburger helper" with the noodles/rice and seasonings included in the box and you add your own meat.

I usually don't prepare them exactly according to package directions, though. The seasoning is usually a bit stronger than what the kids would prefer, so I add extra noodles or rice to tone it down some. Plus when you are cooking for 3 to 5 kids you need to stretch it out!

Depending on the meal I'll add extra cheese, tomatoes, mixed vegetables, etc. I almost always add extra cheese no matter what the dinner is.

I just bought some tuna box dinners at the grocery store since they were on sale, and I'll cook those for the kids this week with extra noodles and cheese. Yummy!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Skillet Meatloaf

Here's another meatloaf recipe, another new twist on an old favorite. I haven't ever seen a recipe for meatloaf you make in the skillet, so I'm anxious to try this one! Of course you can use ground turkey instead of ground beef to cut down on a lot of fat!

Skillet Meatloaf

1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed tomato soup, divided
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

In a large bowl, mix together 1/4 cup of the tomato soup, ground beef, bread crumbs, egg, onion, salt and pepper using your hands. Shape firmly into two loaves.

Heat a large deep skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the meatloaves in the hot skillet, then reduce heat to medium and cover with a lid. Simmer for about 25 minutes, or until meat is cooked through.

Spoon the fat from the skillet, and stir in the remaining soup, water, and mustard. Top with mozzarella cheese, and let simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, stirring sauce occasionally.

Chicken Meatloaf

This calls for ground chicken but you could use ground turkey and call it Turkey Meatloaf!

Chicken Meatloaf

1 1/2 pounds uncooked ground chicken
1/2 cup cracker crumbs
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. dried thyme, crushed
1 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. vegetable oil, divided (Could use olive oil)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix all ingredients except 1 tablespoon oil in large bowl until evenly combined.

Shape into loaf. Place in loaf pan and pour remaining tablespoon oil over loaf. Bake for 40-45 minutes until top is lightly browned and juices run clear when poked.

You could sneak in some healthy stuff like fiber powder into this. My mom used to make meatloaf with ground beef and sneak in some of her healthy powders! She made us promise not to tell our dad what she was putting in there, so we never did tell him what was in it. We just watched and smirked while he ate it and smacked his lips!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Keep the staples handy!

For someone like me who hates the kitchen and everything you have to do in there, keeping the staples handy makes mealtime a bit less torturous. Of course every family has a different list of staples, but here are a few things we like to keep in our freezer, fridge and cupboard:

Peanut butter
Noodles of some type
Macaroni and cheese
Wheat bread
Flour and other pancake/bread/biscuit fixings
Mushroom soup

Some type of salad/veggie
COFFEE!!! (Nobody wants me to be without this!)

Chicken (We like thighs and buy the skinless, boneless variety as well as skin/bone there)
Ground meat (I always buy ground turkey)
Frozen veggies
Ice cream (Yes in our house that IS a staple)

We also try to keep fruit handy for the kids and I like to have yogurt available for whenever I want a snack.

My son has also started eating oatmeal just about every morning so we have started keeping oatmeal (the regular old-fashioned kind you cook on the stove) and raisins to put in it.

Now I need to go grocery shopping!

The baby's favorite meal

My son, who is now 14 months old, has quite an appetite. He's also impatient, so I have to feed him often, and QUICK! He likes to eat meat and other cooked foods to top it off. His favorite is chicken, so I had been cooking him chicken in the slow cooker, which of course required thinking ahead, not one of my strong points.

My husband gave me this really easy idea that is so simple you'd think I could have come up with it on my own. But then again, I hate cooking and the kitchen.

You just take a couple of pieces of chicken (we have come to prefer thighs and buy the boneless skinless variety when we can) and a potato or two cut in half, put them in a pan with enough water to cover them, and BOIL!

Boy how easy is that? It's super quick too.

Sometimes I throw a little bit of diced onion in there for flavor, since he likes his food to be tasty and since I eat with him on occasion. If I feel like it I put some carrots in there too but you have to be careful about cooking carrots with potatoes, as the carrots take a lot longer to get done than the potatoes.

After we eat the food I put the chicken stock in a bowl and freeze it for the next time I make noodles, rice, or mashed potatoes.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Just so you know

This blog is green because my kitchen is green. It had just been painted when we bought the house in April 2006 so we just left it. Here's a picture I took of the kitchen just before we moved in. That's why there's no junk anywhere!

A great recipe blog

One of my online friends actually likes the kitchen and spending time in there cooking! *gasp*

She's a self-proclaimed picky eater and quite inventive in her cooking. I frequently check her blog, Picky Tiffany, for meal ideas. Take a look!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Broccoli Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo

I love Alfredo pasta! There are a lot of different ways you can vary this recipe. I made it the other day with a different type of pasta (which I guess would negate the name "fettuccine" and put the vegetables on the side.

Broccoli Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo

1/2 pound dry fettuccine pasta (I used thin spaghetti)
1 cup fresh chopped broccoli
2 tablespoons butter
1 skinless, boneless chicken breast (I used thighs)
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add fettuccini pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente, adding broccoli for the last 4 minutes of cooking. Drain.

Cut chicken breast meat into bite size pieces, trimming any fat off in the process. In a large skillet melt butter or margarine over medium heat. Add chicken and saute until well browned. Add soup, milk and cheese and stir all together. Add pasta/broccoli mixture and heat through. Serve hot.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Seafood (or Chicken) Pasta

I love seafood pasta and chicken pasta, and this recipe lets you choose which meat you'd like to use!

Seafood or Chicken Pasta

8 oz. angel hair pasta, cooked according to package directions
1/2 pound seafood (I prefer shrimp!) or chicken, cooked
1 tbsp. olive oil
3 ripe tomatoes, seeded and chopped (could also use canned diced tomatoes, drained)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
2 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Heat oil in a skillet over low heat; add next 8 ingredients (tomatoes through pepper). Cook, stirring constantly, until heated. Add cooked seafood or chicken. Spoon mixture over hot pasta and sprinkle with cheese.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Supper from a gift card and an organic garden!

Here's the fresh picked, organic yellow and zucchini squash and cucumbers we're having for supper!

Supper tonight is coming from a gift card and an organic garden! Yummy!

We went down to a farm today to do a story about worm farming. Kind of yucky to think about, but those worms help that man raise some really gorgeous day lilies and a wonderful garden full of organic vegetables. He picked some yellow and zucchini squash and gave it to us for supper, and his wife gave us a big bag of cucumbers she had just picked the day before. All the veggies are organic and guess what they fertilize the garden with?

On the way back I stopped at Wal-Mart to get some chicken and pasta to go with the fresh veggies. I stopped there because I had a $15 gift card I earned on one of my points sites. I got a bag of chicken quarters for $5 and some different kinds of pasta and cheese. I used all the money on the card except for about 80 cents!

I'm cooking a couple of leg quarters in a pot of water on the stove with onions, salt, and pepper, and am going to steam a little squash for the baby and me. (The girls won't eat it, more for me!) I'm going to cook the noodles and add some Velveeta cheese to them when they get done and that'll be macaroni and cheese.

I'm looking forward to my gift card/organic garden supper and will let you know how it turned out!

Easy and Healthy "Fried" Fish

This is so easy to make and is delicious and healthy!

Easy and Healthy "Fried" Fish

Fish fillets (any kind)
Salt and/or other seasonings
Olive oil

Heat a small amount of olive oil in a pan on the stove or electric skillet. Place fish fillets, onions, and seasonings in the pan and cover. Cook until done.

You can also bake this and/or toss in other things like tomatoes or peppers.

It tastes great with the Super Easy Mash Potatoes I last posted about!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Super Easy Mashed Potatoes

These are so easy to make and are so delicious! I use my fabulous veggie chopper I was just telling you about to make these!

Super Easy Mashed Potatoes

Chicken broth
Sour cream
Salt, pepper

Peel and cut up the potatoes and boil them in a pan with the onions, chicken broth, and seasonings. (I use chicken stock I have frozen from a previous meal. If you don't have enough broth just add water until it covers the potatoes.)

After the potatoes are done, drain the water off and put the potatoes back in the pan or in a bowl. Add a generous tablespoon or so of sour cream, a tablespoon or so of butter/margarine, and a tablespoon or so of milk. Be careful not to put too much milk. Mix (with mixer) until the potatoes are all creamed.

Veggie chopper!

I must tell you about my veggie chopper my grandma gave me. I may hate the kitchen but spending time there is slightly less pleasant with a veggie chopper. It's a "Vidalia Chop Wizard" and is so easy to use.

I use it mostly with potatoes and onions but you can use it with pretty much anything firm enough to pass through the blades on the cutting tray.

You just peel your vegetables (or not), cut them up in smaller chunks, place them on the cutting tray and smash the lid down. There is a tray for dicing and a tray for chopping, which leaves your vegetables in larger pieces.

I love it!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Easy Southern Banana Pudding

This banana pudding recipe is on the inside of the vanilla wafer box and is so easy, even for me. It's good when you first make it, much better the next day, and to die for the day after, if any of it is still around.

I have used regular box pudding instead of instant to make this since that is what I had. It worked out just fine.

Easy Southern Banana Pudding

3 cups cold milk (any kind works fine, I usually use skim or 1 percent)
2 pkg. vanilla pudding
Vanilla wafers (about 30)
3 bananas, sliced in round pieces
1 tub whipped topping, thawed

Pour milk in a large bowl. Add dry pudding mixes. Beat with wire whisk 2 minutes or until well blended. Let stand 5 minutes. (If you are using the kind you cook, just prepare it according to package directions and you are good to go!)

Arrange half the wafers on bottom and up side of 2-qt serving bowl. Add layers of half of each the banana slices and pudding. Repeat all layers. Spread whipped topping over pudding.

Refrigerate 3 hours or until ready to serve. Store leftover pudding in refrigerator.

Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings

Here's another chicken and dumplings recipe. I haven't tried it yet but it looks easy and sounds delicious. My husband sounded rather skeptical about it when I told him about it but admitted he had never tried making them quite this way, with refrigerated biscuit dough. So we'll see!

Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (I'll most likely use thighs, love them!!)
2 tablespoons butter
2 (10.75 ounce) cans condensed cream of chicken soup
1 onion, finely diced
2 (10 ounce) packages refrigerated biscuit dough, torn into pieces

Place the chicken, butter, soup, and onion in a slow cooker, and fill with enough water to cover.

Cover, and cook for 5 to 6 hours on High. About 30 minutes before serving, place the torn biscuit dough in the slow cooker. Cook until the dough is no longer raw in the center.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Easy Chicken and Dumplings

My husband made some super easy chicken and dumplings for me not long ago. I consider myself a connosseur of chicken and dumplings, having been raised on THE BEST, and I pronounced hubby's chicken and dumplings an overall success. Here's how he did it:

You need:
Chicken breasts
Flour tortillas
Onions and seasonings to taste

Cook some chicken breasts in the slow cooker (Crock pot) with onions and seasonings. When they are done, pour the chicken and the broth in a pan on the stove. Cut up some flour tortillas and put them in the pot with the chicken. Cook until the tortillas are the texture you like. Viola, there you are!

You can also just cook the chicken in a pan on the stove and then add the tortillas when the chicken gets done.

My mom cooks a whole chicken in a stock pot, takes it out, separates it, and puts what she wants to use for the chicken and dumplings back in. For the dumplings she uses her biscuit recipe, which is awesome and a family favorite. She just drops small pieces of dough in there and cooks it. Now THAT'S YUMMY!!!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Beefy Skillet Ravioli

I got this recipe from the back of a Hunt's spaghetti sauce can, made it, and everyone loved it! It's super easy, super cheap, and super yummy! Different ingredients can be added, substituted, etc.

Beefy Skillet Ravioli

1 lb. lean ground beef (I use ground turkey)

1 can spaghetti sauce (I use Hunt's Garlic & Herb)

1 can diced tomatoes with juice

1 9 oz. pkg refrigerated cheese-filled ravioli

2 T shredded Parmesan cheese (I use a lot more than that and sometimes other kinds of cheese

1 T chopped fresh Italian parsley (I skipped this)

Brown ground beef/meat in large skillet; drain. Stir in spaghetti sauce and tomatoes; blend well. Bring to a boil.

Add ravioli to skillet; spoon meat sauce over ravioli until well coated. Reduce heat; cover and simmer on medium heat 15 minutes or until ravioli is tender.

Sprinkle with cheese and parsley.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Homemade Pancakes

My mother made these pancakes for us growing up and I recently started making them for my kids. They are super easy (even for me) and contain things that you normally have around the house. You could easily add other things to make them different.

Homemade Pancakes

2 c flour
2½ t baking powder
1 t salt
¼ c sugar
2 eggs
2 c milk

Mix all this in a bowl and cook in skillet greased with olive oil, butter, etc. You just put enough oil or butter to grease the bottom of the pan. You don't want any standing oil.

If I am making this for just my kids I half the recipe. If I'm making it for all five I use the whole thing, but I make sure I am finished cooking all the batter before I call them to the table! They love it!

Free recipes and cookbooks!

I love free stuff just about as much as I hate the kitchen!

You can get free cookbooks online. Here are a couple of sites with free cookbooks:

Or just type in "free cookbooks"!

I'm also getting recipes in daily email newsletters from There are other sites that offer the daily email recipes but I didn't want my inbox flooded with recipes.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Hearty Chicken and Noodle Casserole

My grandma gave me this recipe today. It isn't her recipe but she makes something similar to this. I love stuff like this so I'm gonna give it a try. I may actually already have all the stuff to make it, too!

Hearty Chicken and Noodle Casserole

1 can (10 3/4 oz.) cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup milk
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 cup frozen mixed vegetables
2 cups cubed cooked chicken
2 cups medium egg noodles, cooked and drained
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Stir soup, milk, black pepper, Parmesan cheese, vegetables, chicken, and noodles in 1 1/2-quart casserole dish. Bake at 400 degrees F for 25 minutes or until hot. Stir. Top with cheddar cheese.

Make it crunchy by omitting the cheese and using French fried onions. Give it a twist by using 2 cups cooked corkscrew shaped pasta instead of egg noodles.

I hate the kitchen

I really hate the kitchen. I hate cooking. I hate cleaning up. I hate the dishes. I hate sticky spills on the counters. *sigh*

But with a husband, three children, one of which has a ravenous appetite, and two nieces, one of which has an excellent appetite, I am forced to spend time in the kitchen.

Now that summer break is upon us and I have a bunch of kids in the house with me all day long, I have to keep them fed. That means I'm cooking at least two, if not three meals a day plus sweeping, mopping, washing dishes, and all that.

So this blog will be about my kitchen gripes but mostly about the super easy meals I have cooked or am planning to cook. The things I cook are super easy and pretty much foolproof, since I can mess up pretty much anything. I've got some great recipes and concoctions my husband whips up too, so I'll post those as well.

Now I have a pile of dirty dishes staring at me that I must tend to ...