Saturday, December 26, 2009

Weekly menu: December 27-January 2

Sunday, December 27
Oatmeal & raisins
Turkey enchiladas

Monday, December 28
Leftover enchiladas
Pork fajitas

Tuesday, December 29
Cheese quesadillas
Chili & cinnamon rolls

Wednesday, December 30
Cinnamon rolls
Frito pie

Thursday, December 31
Scrambled eggs & bacon
Appetizers and party!

Friday, January 1, 2011 HAPPY NEW YEAR
Leftovers, or frozen pizza

Saturday, January 2
Chocolate pancakes
Ham sandwiches and chips
Pork roast and potatoes

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Easy desserts

My mom loves holiday baking. Growing up, Christmas memories always include heaping stacks of goodies filling the countertop. Cookies, divinity, peanut brittle, peanut clusters, 7-layer bars, melted circle candies, hard candy, oyster crackers, chocolate covered everything...Yum! And that's just the desserts! Even for someone who doesn't like chocolate or peanut butter, my mom's kitchen was and still is the place to be for Christmas.

Well, now I have my own kitchen and my own brood to pass on the Christmas baking traditions. I prefer to make things that the girls can help me make, and it's a little more challenging, what with Maggie's sucrose and lactose intolerance. But, my countertop is getting more and more loaded. Here are two of the favorites from tonight:

Thin Mints

1 cup Nestle dark chocolate and mint chips
1 sleeve Ritz crackers

  1. Melt the mint chocolate chips in the microwave, following the directions on the bag.
  2. Drop a cracker into the melted chocolate, completely coating the cracker.
  3. Place the coated cracker on a sheet of waxed paper. Let cool and set up completely.

Forgotten Cookies (Thanks, Alison, for the recipe)

1 egg white
1 pinch of salt
1/3 cup Splenda or sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
  1. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large glass or metal mixing bowl, beat egg whites and salt until foamy.
  3. Gradually add sugar, continuing to beat until whites form stiff peaks.
  4. Fold in the vanilla and chocolate chips.
  5. Spoon onto the prepared cookie sheets.
  6. Place the cookies into the preheated oven, shut the door and turn off the oven immediately.
  7. Let cookies sit in the turned off oven for 5 to 6 hours or overnight.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Weekly menu: December 20-26

Sunday, December 20
Pancakes and eggs
Pizza rolls

Monday, December 21
Breakfast burritos
Cranberry salad
Sweet and sour meatballs

Tuesday, December 22

Wednesday, December 23
Oven puff pancakes with apple pie jam
Leftovers aka clear out the fridge
Fast food

Thursday, December 24 CHRISTMAS EVE
Broccoli cheese soup and chili

Friday, December 25 CHRISTMAS DAY
Happy Face Pancakes
Potluck lunch
Leftover supper

Saturday, December 26 JAY'S BIRTHDAY
whatever Jay wants to eat :)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Apple Pie Oatmeal Bars

One word: delicious! Jay found this recipe on one of his garden forums and adapted it to use his own jam.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups quick cooking oatmeal
3/4 cup butter
2 cups Jay's Apple Pie Jam

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Mix together flour, baking powder, brown sugar, and quick cooking oatmeal in a medium bowl. Cut in 3/4 cup butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  3. Pat two-thirds into a greased 13 x 9-inch baking pan.
  4. Spoon apple pie jam evenly on top.
  5. Sprinkle the top with the remaining crumb mixture.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes, or until crispy brown on top. Cool before cutting into bars.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Homemade Chinese Food: Jay's Broccoli and Beef

I give up. Round steak and I don't get along. No matter how I make it, it chews like beef jerky. Then, Jay decided to try a new recipe, just for kicks. And, WOWZA. Yum. Tender, and fast.

Beef and Broccoli

3 Tablespoons corn starch, divided
1/2 cup water
2 Tablespoons water
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 pound boneless round steak, cut into 3-inch strips
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
4 cups broccoli florets
1 small onion, cut into wedges
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
hot cooked rice

  1. In a bowl, combine 2 Tablespoons cornstarch, 2 Tablespoons water, and garlic powder until smooth.
  2. Add beef and toss.
  3. In a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat, stir-fry beef in 1 Tablespoon oil until beef reaches desired doneness. Remove and keep warm.
  4. Add remaining Tablespoon of oil to the skillet or wok. Stir-fry broccoli and onion in oil for 4-5 minutes.
  5. Return beef to pan.
  6. Combine soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger, and remaining cornstarch and water until smooth. Add to the pan.
  7. Cook and stir for 2 minutes.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Weekly menu: December 13-19

Sunday, December 13
Ham & sweet potatoes
Ham fried rice

Monday, December 14
Scrambled eggs
Leftover rice
Ham pockets

Tuesday, December 15
Apple-Almond Salad

Wednesday, December 16
Toast & fruit
Leftover spaghetti
Pork Stir Fry & rice

Thursday, December 17
Leftover stir fry
Pizza Roll

Friday, December 18
Pizza rolls
Beef enchiladas

Saturday, December 19
Pork burgers & chips & salad

Breakfast with some love

I love this recipe. It's easy, it gets oohs and aahs from the girls, and it gives them protein. This recipe can be down-sized, or up-sized, for any family. For us, it means 6 servings.

6 pieces of sandwich bread
6 eggs
Aluminum foil
Cooking spray
Shredded cheese, optional

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Line a baking sheet with foil.
  3. Using a cookie cutter, cut a shape out of each slice of bread. We use hearts, but then again, we are a house full of little girls.
  4. Spray the aluminum foil with cooking spray.
  5. Place the bread on the foil and spray lightly with cooking spray.
  6. Crack an egg into each slice of bread.
  7. Bake at 350 for 12 minutes, or until egg is set.
  8. If desired, sprinkle cheese on hot egg-in-toast and let melt.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Weekly menu: December 6-12

Sunday, December 6
Sausage gravy & biscuits
Leftover soup
Homemade pizza & salad

Monday, December 7
Leftover pizza

Tuesday, December 8
Cheese quesadillas
Broccoli Cheese Soup

Wednesday, December 9
Breakfast burritos
Leftover soup

Thursday, December 10
Tuna casserole

Friday, December 11
Tortilla roll-ups

Saturday, December 12
Donuts from Tasty Pastry
Hot dogs and Mac-N-cheese
Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Chocolate popcorn, mixed reviews

I came up with a new snack; the girls love it, but Jay says eh. :) Since Maggie can't handle table sugar but still has a sweet tooth, this is way to let her have chocolate flavor with very little sugar. Let me know what you think of it, or ways to improve it:

Chocolate popcorn

1 bag microwave popcorn
1 individual packet instant hot cocoa mix

Pop one bag of microwave popcorn. Carefully open it at one end. While it's still hot, pour one packet of hot cocoa mix. Shake well for about a minute, to make sure the chocolate mix is evenly distributed. Enjoy!

Monday, November 30, 2009


My lasagne is also not anything fancy. It's based on the recipe on any lasagne pasta box, but I embellish it here and there.

Linda's Lasagne

1 pound ground beef
1 jar Best Choice spaghetti sauce, any flavor
1 large container of cottage cheese, small curd, low fat
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 teaspoon parsley
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon garlic
1 box lasagne noodles

  • Brown the ground beef until cooked through. Drain.
  • Stir spaghetti sauce into ground beef. Let simmer for a few minutes.
  • Meanwhile, cook the lasagne noodles as directed on the box.
  • In a separate bowl, mix together the cottage cheese, mozzarella, and spices.
  • Spray a 13x9 casserole dish.
  • Scoop 2-3 large spoonfuls of the meat mixture into the casserole dish. Spread evenly.
  • Scoop 2-3 large spoonfuls of the cheese mixture onto the meat mixture in the dish. Spread evenly.
  • Lay lasagne noodles over the cheese mixture.
  • Repeat layers two more times.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Lasagne hints I've recently learned:
Let the lasagne set a few minutes before serving.
Substitute Italian sausage for the beef, for extra flavor
Skip boiling the noodles and put the casserole in the fridge for at least 8 hours before baking.

How do you spice up your lasagne?

Mom's Meatloaf

A high school classmate of mine just posted that she made her first meatloaf. I was amazed; we eat it probably twice a month. The comments that followed were mostly listing how gross meatloaf is...I was stunned. Apparently, the rest of the world was not as fortunate as my family is, growing up with my mom's amazing meatloaf. Not only does it taste awesome, it's so very fool-proof to make. I've tried to list quantities for the ketchup, mustard, cheese, and sauce, but it is truly an estimation. A couple squirts of this, a dash or two of that, and a handful of this...ta da!

Mom's Meatloaf
1 pound ground beef
1 pound pork sausage
1/3 cup crushed saltine crackers
1 egg
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup chopped onion
3-4 tablespoons of mustard (or 3 big squirts)
2/3 cup ketchup, divided
2 tablespoons A1 sauce (or two big dollups)

  • With cooking spray, spray either 2 loaf pans or 1 9X9 pan.
  • In a large bowl, mix together the meat, egg, saltines, cheese, mustard, A1 sauce, salt, pepper, and about 4-5 big squirts of ketchup.
  • Roll up your sleeves, and mix it all together with your hands.
  • Form two equal-sized loaves with the meat mixture, either one in each loaf pan or two side-by-side in the 9x9 dish. *Hint from Alton Brown: don't pound down the meat to make evenly shaped loaves. By just plopping the meat into the pan, the meatloaf will be juicier and less dense.
  • Cover both loaves with ketchup, about 3 squirts per loaf. Again, use your hands to smear it so that the loaves are completely covered.
  • Cover with foil.
  • Bake at 375 for 1 hour 25 minutes, removing the foil for the last 20 minutes.
  • Let the meatloaf set for 5 minutes before cutting into it.

And, to make it an extra-easy meal, throw a few baked potatoes in with the meat loaf. They'll be ready about the same time.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Weekly menu: November 29 - December 5

Sunday, November 29
Waffles (make extra and freeze)
BLTs and broccoli salad
Omelets & toast with apple pie jam

Monday, November 30
Waffles in the toaster
Ham sandwiches and chips
Meatloaf and baked potatoes

Tuesday, December 1
Grilled cheese & ham
Turkey casserole

Wednesday, December 2
Leftover casserole
BBQ Roast Beef

Thursday, December 3
Oatmeal & raisins
BBQ Beef Sandwiches
Leftovers (clear the fridge)

Friday, December 4
Baked corn dogs & french fries

Saturday, December 5
Pancakes & bacon
Leftovers, or sandwiches
Vegetable soup and french bread

Plans, schplans

Oh, I had big plans for last week. I had a list of 12 recipes to post, great uses for leftover turkey and my mom's best thanksgiving dishes. And then, well, life got in the way.

But, I made up for that today. I have a menu planned out for December, the grocery list for making all the meals, and recipes on how to make them ahead of time and put in the freezer. In fact, I spent 45 minutes shopping and 3 hours preparing food today, and now have 6 meals in the freezer.

I'll split the meals by weeks, but for now, here's the meal list:
  • Sandwiches
  • Tuna salad
  • Tuna casserole
  • Pizza roll
  • Pork stir fry
  • Meatballs
  • Meatloaf
  • Pizza
  • Omelets
  • Tacos
  • Turkey casserole
  • Turkey enchiladas
  • Beef enchiladas
  • Fajitas
  • Tomato soup
  • Broccoli cheese soup
  • Chili
  • Potato soup
  • BBQ beef
  • Baked corn dogs
  • Ham and beans

And here's the shopping list for the month:
  • Milk
  • Cereal
  • Bread
  • Tuna (3 cans)
  • Beans
  • Enchilada sauce
  • Frozen bread dough
  • Pepperoni, 4 oz
  • Deli ham, 1 pound
  • Saltines
  • Egg noodles
  • Lasagne noodles
  • Mozzarella (2)
  • Cottage cheese
  • Cheddar (6)
  • Corn tortillas (2)
  • Flour tortillas (4)
  • Hot dogs (2)
  • Eggs
  • Olive oil
  • Foil containers (6 square)
  • Fritos
  • Spaghetti sauce
  • ground beef (2)
  • ground sausage (1)
  • pork steak (pkg of 3)
  • ham hocks (1 or 2)
  • Bell peppers (3-4)
  • Frozen broccoli
  • Carrots
I know it seems like a lot, but this will feed your family of 5 for a month! Hopefully, life will allow me to post recipes and weekly menus tonight or tomorrow. Until then, I'm off to help wrap presents!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Weekly menu for November 15

Sunday, November 15
Pancakes and bacon
Church potluck

Monday, November 16
Breakfast pizza
Ham & Swiss Pita
Hot dogs & MacNCheese

Tuesday, November 17
Blueberry muffins
Leftover pizza
Smothered steak & mashed potatoes

Wednesday, November 18
Crock pot roast pork

Thursday, November 19
Pork sandwiches
Chicken-spinach casserole

Friday, November 20
Leftovers, or frozen pizza

Saturday, November 21
Breakfast burritos
Cheese quesadillas and chips
Broccoli, pasta & white sauce

Monday, November 9, 2009

TV Dinner

Sometimes my cooking is Chopped meets Macgyver. "Your ingredients are: ground beef or pork, tortilla chips, fresh tomatoes, and eggs, and maybe some old Velveeta cheese. Invent something that five will eat." In fact, I'd like Dinner: Impossible to try to succeed at this challenge: "You have 30 minutes to prepare a meal for six while simultaneously caring for a 3-year-old and 8-month-old, finishing homework with an 6-year-old and 8-year-old, setting the table, and make it nutrition, delicious, and safe. GO!"

At least, that's how tomorrow's challenge feels. We used up (nearly) all our cheddar cheese tonight, and just about all the taco meat. What can I say? The tacos were delicious! So, now I'm improvising. I have two bags of tortilla chips and if I serve chips with dinner, the battle-of-clean-plates is non-existent, so I really want to use chips. I have lots of ground beef, pork, and sausage. So, I think I'll make a sausage con queso with velveeta and serve it with fresh chopped tomatoes, bell peppers, lettuce, sour cream, the remaining fresh cheddar, and (for the adults) jalapenos.

Take THAT, Chef Robert!

p.s. Gotta give credit where credit is due. Jay the Man made tacos tonight, serving the chopped vegetables he's growing in his high tunnels. He's a good man. He even threw together an apple dessert...mostly because he wanted to use his new apple peeler.

Bierocks Casserole

Growing up, I had the best lunch ladies EVER. They were four seemingly-old German ladies in our very German community. VERY German. In the middle of Kansas, probably 90 percent of my community was German and many had grandparents who still spoke German in the home. My high school offered Spanish and German as your language choices, and I'm just now realizing how odd that was. Anyway, back to lunch ladies. These fabulous women would make homemade bierocks for my school of 100 or so students. We are talking about fresh, made-from-scratch dough with beef, cabbage and cheese inside. YUM!

This is no where near as good, but is also thousands of times faster.

2 cans crescent roll dough
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
1 bag cole slaw mix
2 cups shredded cheese, cheddar or mozzarella

  1. Brown the beef and pork in a large skillet. Drain.
  2. Stir in the cole slaw mix. Cover and let steam until cabbage is softened.
  3. Line a 13x9 dish with one of the crescent roll dough, pinching the seams to make a crust.
  4. Spoon in the cabbage and meat mixture.
  5. Sprinkle the cheese on top of the meat.
  6. Top with the second crescent roll dough, again pinching the seams to make one big rectangle.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until dough turns golden brown.

Other variations of this recipe include adding a cream-of soup, but I stick to the basics, in honor of those great St. Mark's lunch ladies.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Tuna cakes

... YUM!

Once each week, I try out a new recipe. It keeps me from being bored in the kitchen and, hopefully, exposes my kids to new tastes. This week's new recipe was a hit:

Tuna Cakes
Even if you don't like tuna, it tastes good. At least, that's what my husband claims.

2 cans (6 oz. each) light tuna in water, drained, flaked
1 pkg. (6 oz.) STOVE TOP Stuffing Mix for Chicken
1 cup KRAFT Shredded Mild Cheddar Cheese
3/4 cup water
1 carrot, shredded
1/3 cup KRAFT Real Mayo Mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. CLAUSSEN Sweet Pickle Relish

  1. Mix all the ingredients.
  2. Put in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.
  3. Heat a skillet to medium.
  4. Put a 1/3 cup ball of the mixture on the skillet. Flatten with a spatula.
  5. Heat the tuna cake for 3 minutes. Flip them over, and cook for an additional 3 minutes.

Super easy. super yummy.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Favorite appetizers

Nothing is better than appetizers and football. Our three favorites are:

Cheesy Triscuits
2 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 cup cheddar cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup chopped onion

Mix bacon, cheese, mayo, and onion together. Top each triscuit with about a teaspoon of the mixture. Broil on low for about 5-10 minutes, until cheese is melted and triscuits start to turn golden brown.

Little Smokies

1 package little smokies (we prefer Farmland brand)
1 jar Heinz chili sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar

Mix chili sauce and brown sugar. Pour over little smokies and either warm in a crock pot for 3-4 hours, or warm in a microwave about 3-4 minutes on medium heat.

Cream-cheese and jelly

1 8-oz package cream cheese, softened
1 jar jalapeno jelly, any flavor

Place the cream cheese block on a plate. Pour the jalapeno jelly over the cream cheese. Serve with Triscuits.

Weekly menu: Nov 8-14

Scrambled eggs and toast
Tuna cakes and Mac-n-cheese
Reuben casserole

Breakfast burrito
Leftover casserole
Tacos (make extra taco meat)


PB Toast, banana
Clam chowder (yes, from a can!)
Ravioli and Salad

Toast with Apple Pie Jam
Leftover ravioli and salad
Beef Enchiladas

Leftover enchiladas
Empty-the-fridge OR, if you don't have many leftovers, frozen pizza
(Come on! It's Friday! Take the night off!)

Pancakes and fruit
Apple Walnut Salad
Pork ribs & baked sweet potatoes

In case there was every any doubt about my spoiled-ness, to cook all the food on this menu, here are the ingredients I need to buy from the store:
enchilada sauce
sour cream
canned soup
crescent rolls
cole slaw mix

Everything else we have stocked, in our deep freeze, or still growing in the high tunnels. Not bad, eh?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Loaded Rice

My menu called for spanish rice, but I ended up improvising and created a pretty tasty meal.

3 cups cooked rice (I used the bag rice; it's much cheaper!)
1 small onion, diced
4 tomatoes, diced (keep the juices) or 1 can Ro-Tel
2 bell peppers, diced
1 pound ground sausage
3-4 tablespoons taco seasoning
salt and pepper, to taste

Combine the sausage, onion, and pepper in a large skillet. Cook until the sausage in browned and the onion is translucent. Add the tomatoes and seasonings. Stir, and cook until warmed through. Add the rice. Stir, and let simmer for 5-10 minutes.

My husband and I added Tabasco sauce to our servings, but kept the dish mild so the kids would eat it.

Beef Pot Pie

I love it when I come across a recipe that uses all my leftovers and allows me to create a completely different meal. This week's find is pot pie. I will modify it, though, because the crust is the best part. I plan on making a crust for the bottom and top of the pie. Enjoy!

Beef Pot Pie
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 3 cups cubed leftover beef
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen green peas and carrots, cooked and drained
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
  • pie pastry for 1-crust pie
  • evaporated milk or regular milk
  1. In a medium saucepan, cook onion in butter until onion is tender.
  2. Stir in flour and salt until smooth and bubbly.
  3. Stir in beef broth. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until thick and bubbly.
  4. Add leftover beef, peas and carrots, and parsley; heat through.
  5. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more salt if necessary.
  6. Pour beef mixture into a 2-quart casserole.
  7. Prepare pastry; roll out to about 1/2-inch larger than casserole top.
  8. Place over hot beef mixture. Cut several slits in the top for steam escape, turn edge under and crimp all around.
  9. Brush lightly with milk.
  10. Bake beef pot pie at 450° for 20 to 25 minutes.
This beef pot pie with leftover beef serves 6.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Pikes Peak Roast

Pikes Peak Roast is not a very tender cut of meat, unless you cook it long and low. It's perfect for a crock-pot meal, especially if you are like me and are gone from the house for 10 hours on workdays.

I make up the roast recipes every time, changing it up a little bit here and there based on what I have on hand. This week's roast turned out yummy, so if you'd like to replicate it, here's the info:

1 pike's peak roast (3-4 pounds), thawed
1 can golden mushroom soup
1 can mushroom stems and pieces
1 cup beef broth (or boiling water and beef bouillon cube)
about 2 tablespoons salt
about 2 teaspoons dry mustard
about 2 teaspoons dried sage
1 garlic clove

  1. Mix the salt, mustard, and sage together. Rub it over the roast.
  2. Place the roast in the crock pot.
  3. Mix in a separate bowl the beef broth, mushroom soup, mushrooms, and garlic. Beat until smooth.
  4. Pour soup mixture over roast.
  5. Cover and cook on low for 10 hours.
  6. Remove from the crock pot and let set for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Weekly menu

What did we eat this past week?

Chef Salad
Waffles and Bacon (make a double-batch of waffles and freeze leftovers)

Waffles (leftovers, in the toaster)

Crock pot beef roast

Roast beef sandwiches, new potatoes, salad

Waffles (from frozen leftovers)
Beef pot pie (using leftover beef and potatoes, and frozen veggie mix)

Spanish rice and quesadillas

Sausage gravy & biscuits (brown extra sausage and set aside)
Appetizer lunch (K-State vs KU football!)
Homemade pizza

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Roasted pumpkin seeds

A traditional favorite, and great low-sugar Halloween snack

  1. Scoop the seeds and pulp out of a pumpkin.
  2. Separate the seeds from the pulp.
  3. Rinse out the seeds at least twice.
  4. Put the seeds in a large bowl and add enough water to make the seeds float.
  5. Add 2-3 tablespoons of salt.
  6. Let soak overnight or longer.
  7. Drain the water from the seeds.
  8. Line a baking sheet with foil.
  9. Pour the drained seeds on the baking sheet.
  10. Thoroughly sprinkle with salt.
  11. Bake at 350 degrees, checking every 10 minutes for doneness.
  12. Seeds are done when they just start to turn golden brown and are crisp when you bite into them.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Happy Halloween! Popcorn Balls with a twist

Best popcorn balls I've had

12 cups popped popcorn
1 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup sugar
1 pkg. (4 serving size) JELL-O Brand Gelatin, any flavor
1 1/2 cups PLANTERS COCKTAIL Peanuts, coarsely chopped

  1. Place popcorn in large bowl.
  2. Mix syrup and sugar in saucepan; bring to boil.
  3. Remove from heat. Add gelatin; stir until dissolved.
  4. Add peanuts.
  5. Pour over popcorn; mix well.
  6. Cool about 5 minutes.
  7. Shape into 18 balls, each about 3 inches in diameter.

Happy Halloween! Witches Hats

This is my girls' favorite treat for school parties this time of year.

Witches Hat

Self-sealing plastic bag
1 can chocolate frosting
20 chocolate ice cream cones
Candy corn or assorted small candies
20 2- to 3-inch chocolate cookies

  1. Fill plastic bag with some chocolate frosting. Seal bag and cut a very small end off one corner of the bag and set aside.
  2. For each hat, invert one ice cream cone and fill with about 2 tablespoons candy corn or small candies.
  3. Pipe some frosting from bag along bottom edge of cone.
  4. Press a cookie against frosting. Carefully invert right side up onto waxed paper-lined cookie sheet. Decorate outside of cone with small candies, using additional frosting as necessary.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Sad sad recipe

I have a fridge full of fresh, home-grown peppers, spinach, and lettuce. I have a shelf full of fresh, home-grown tomatoes.

And tonight we're eating frozen pizza and breadsticks.

Next week will be better.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Cherry ham and butternut squash

That whole menu thing? Totally out the window this week. I'm trying to make due with ingredients in our house and avoid going to the grocery store. So, tonight's supper is cherry ham and butternut squash.

For the cherry ham, just pour a can of cherry pie filling on top of a 1-2 pound cured ham. Bake at 325 until ham reaches 140 degrees, about an hour for a 2 pound ham, 90 minutes for a 3-4 pound ham.

For the butternut squash, wash the outside of the squash and cut it in half, lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and fibers from the middle of the squash. Place the halves, cut sides up, in a baking dish. Salt and pepper, if desired. Dot with margarine or butter; I use about 3 tablespoons for each half. Pour 1/4 inch of water into the baking dish. Cover and bake for about 45 minutes at 325 degrees.

So, if I manage to get the squash in the oven 45 minutes after the ham goes in, it should all be ready at about the same time. Here's hoping!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Taco Soup, improvised and improved

There are thousands of variations of taco soup out there, but the one we made tonight was fantabulous. It's a thicker soup, with a chili consistency but without the spice.

1 pound ground beef, browned and drained
2 cups (or 1 can) cooked beans (We used a combination of pinto and black beans. Kidney beans would work too.)
1 can kernel corn, UNdrained
1 can crushed tomatoes
2 bell peppers, diced
1 packet ranch dressing mix
1 packet Taco Bell taco seasoning
2 tomatoes, diced

sour cream
cheddar cheese, shredded
tortilla chips

Cook the ground beef in a large skillet or saucepan. Drain. Add corn, canned tomatoes, peppers, dressing mix, taco seasoning, and diced tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low to medium-low (4 on a scale to 9). Let simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Ladle soup into bowls and top with cheese, a dollop of sour cream, and tortilla chips. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

That was GREAT!

I think I underestimated the yumminess of tonight's menu.

Acorn squash

Bacon-spinach quiche, made with our own eggs, bacon, and spinach

Fresh spinach salad with boiled egg, cheese, and bacon bits


What to cook...

I've been so busy keeping my head above water that I haven't had a chance to sit down and post anything. It's been difficult enough just to make and keep the weekly menu with our family, much less take the 5 minutes to share it with cyberspace.

I was proud last night. Wendy's called with a vengeance, but instead I made mashed potatoes, corn, and chicken nuggets at home.

Tonight I think I'm going to make a bacon-spinach quiche, with fresh spinach from our garden and bacon from my in-laws. Jay also picked up an acorn squash from Wednesday's market, so I'm going to make that. I found an easy Paula Deen recipe and since she and I share a passion for butter, her recipes always suit our family.

Friday breakfast, banana muffins or breakfast burrito
Friday lunch, hopefully leftovers from Thursday's supper
Friday night, I'm going to reheat a pizza roll from the freezer. After working all day, I doubt I'll have the gumption or desire to cook.

Saturday morning, oatmeal. That will warm us up before we head out to watch my nephew's football game.
Saturday lunch, tomato-basil soup and homemade french bread.
Saturday night, bruschetta and something else. I've never made bruschetta, so I'm on a recipe hunt between now and then.

Sunday morning, waffles
Sunday lunch, leftovers or chili.

and Sunday morning, reset the menu for the coming week.

If you're out there listening and know any good bruschetta recipes, please post them!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Weekly menu

This week I'm trying out a few money-savers but not necessarily time-savers. I'm going to see how hard it is to make rice that isn't minute rice, and baked beans that aren't from a can. Beans and rice in a bag are really cheap, so if we can substitute some of the canned stuff with the bagged stuff, that should save some moola. I'll let you know how it goes.


Ham and cheesy potatoes
Fried rice

Monday (Labor Day)
Scrambled eggs
Ham sandwiches, chips
Grilled steaks, potatoes, corn on the cob

Blueberry muffins
Beef stroganoff

Grilled cheese with ham

Cheesy quesadillas
Baked corndogs

Breakfast burritos
Out (I'm required; it's a work lunch!)
Hamburgers and fries

PBJ toast

Friday, September 4, 2009

No fork allowed

Ah, my secret tool, the trick to get kids to eat anything you want...make it crazy. For us, "crazy" can be as easy as no forks allowed. They get a kick out of it when I tell them, "whatever you do, do NOT use a fork. NO, NO FORKS! You MUST eat with your hands! You MUST, I say!"

Our No-Fork-Fridays usually consist of cherry tomatoes, cut up broccoli and cauliflower, sliced apples or peaches, grapes, crackers, cubed cheese, homemade fries and oven-baked chicken nuggets. I put it all on fancy serving trays in the middle of the table and let the kids make their own plates, with the requirement that they take at least one of each item. Then add salad dressing, ketchup, and barbecue sauce for dipping.

The other part of this secret: I like it as much as they do!

Beef Stew

I feel like a slacker, or out of the loop, either one. This week was the first time I made beef stew that wasn't in a crockpot...and it was delicious! Give it a try; it's perfect for a cool fall day. I think mine was even better because I used our home-raised beef, our homegrown potatoes, carrots, and onions, and Jay's mom's homemade ketchup.

1-2 tablespoon oil
1 pound beef stew meat, chopped (or get a cheap cut of beef and cut into pieces)
3/4 cup flour
salt, pepper to taste
2 cups water
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tsp minced garlic
2 beef bouillon cubes
5 medium potatoes, diced
3 carrots, chopped
1 tablespoon A1 sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup water

Heat the oil in a large pot. Meanwhile, mix flour, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Roll the beef in the flour mixture. Add the onions, garlic, and beef to the pot and cook until the beef is just browned, stirring often. Add the water, bouillon cubes, A1 sauce, and ketchup. Bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, then reduce heat to simmer.

Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 1/2 hours. Add the potatoes and carrots. Simmer for another 30 minutes, or until potatoes and carrots are tender.

Increase heat to boiling. Mix 2 tablespoons flour in cold water. Stir flour mixture into the boiling stew, and boil for 2 minutes.

Serve and enjoy. (Makes FABULOUS leftovers!)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Taco potatoes

It's starting to look like we eat a lot of mexican-style dishes around here. It's gotten to the point that, when I make taco meat, I make a double-batch to carry over a few meals. Here's one of my 2nd-meal uses.

Bake 4-5 potatoes. (I just use the microwave setting, but make sure you stab the potatoes first.)
Warm up the taco meat.
Split the baked potatoes, spoon taco meat over it, then sprinkle cheddar cheese, tomatoes, olives, sour cream, and whatever other toppings your family enjoys.

Easy, huh? Because some nights, who has time for complicated?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Tamale casserole

Sometimes it's fun to just throw things together and see what you come up with. Last night's invention was tamale casserole

5 sweet banana peppers (or hot, if you like things spicy)
1 pound sausage
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 can cream-style corn
salt and pepper, to taste
1 box Jiffy mix cornbread (and the stuff to mix it)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

  1. Cut tops off of peppers and remove seeds. Cut in half lengthwise and boil in water for 5 minutes. Drain.
  2. Meanwhile, brown sausage and onions together, until cooked through. Drain off any grease.
  3. Add cream-style corn, salt, pepper, and stir. Pour into a casserole dish.
  4. Sprinkle with half of the cheese.
  5. Place banana peppers on top of sausage mixture.
  6. Sprinkle remaining cheese.
  7. Prepare cornbread mix according the instructions on the box. Spoon over the peppers.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until cornbread is baked through.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Weekly menu: August 23-29

Sorry about last week -- I needed a week off to handle the rest of my world. First day of school, kindergarten started, DH's is at work day and night now, soccer was whatever we scraped together. And it showed...hotdogs, cheesy tacos, Wendy's, more hotdogs, sandwiches. Ick. Time to get back to real meals.

Sunday, August 23
Stuffed bell peppers

Monday, August 24 – Katie b-Day

Tuesday, August 25
Grilled cheese
@ Lincoln back-to-school BBQ

Wednesday, August 26
Frozen meal
Taco potatoes

Thursday, August 27
Breakfast burrito
No Forks Allowed

Friday, August 28 – Katie Party
Doughnut Day
Homemade Pizzas

Saturday, August 29
Baked corndogs

Monday, August 10, 2009

Cream of Tomato-Basil Soup

Soup in August? Absolutely! This soup is even better when you use fresh tomatoes.

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • EVOO
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon flour
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 4 cups finely chopped tomatoes*
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon chopped fresh basil

  1. In a large stock pot, saute onion over medium heat in oil until soft and translucent.
  2. Add salt, pepper, dried basil, and flour. Cook for a few minutes.
  3. Whisk in chicken broth to flour mixture until mixed thoroughly.
  4. Add tomatoes and stir. Cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. (The kids LOVE watching this part, and it's a great opportunity for an impromptu science lesson.) Stir in baking soda and sugar.
  6. Reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  7. Add half-and-half and fresh basil.
  8. Stir and simmer for at least 5 minutes. Turn heat to low until ready to serve.

My family likes to add Goldfish crackers for the kids, or shredded mozerella for the adults.

*If you don't have access to fresh tomatoes, substitute 14 oz can diced tomatoes and 14 oz canned crushed tomatoes

Sloppy Joes, Crock-Pot style

From a dear friend, Sue...

Roberta's Sloppy Joes

1 to 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1/2-3/4 cup ketchup
4 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/8 to 1/4 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup water
4 tsp sugar
2 tsp yellow dry mustard
1/2 cup chopped onions
1 green pepper, chopped
1 can whole corn*
salt and papper, to taste

In a skillet, brown the meat and drain. Add all other ingredients and pour into a crock pot. Heat on low for 3-4 hours, or until heated through. Serve on hamburger buns for sloppy joes.

*The corn is definitely optional. Sloppy joes must have corn in them, in my mind, but not in everyone's. Think of it as a way to sneak more veggies in your family.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Weely Menu, August 9-15

Sunday, August 9

French Toast


Tomato soup

Monday, August 10


PBJ sandwiches

Grilled chops

Tuesday, August 11


Mac-N-Cheese, hot dogs

Pork Stir Fry

Wednesday, August 12



Crock-pot pizza

Thursday, August 13

Scrambled eggs

Lunch out

Veggie pasta

Friday, August 14

Doughnut Day


Smothered steak

Saturday, August 15


Sandwiches, chips


Friday, August 7, 2009

National Sneak Squash Night

August 8 is National Sneak Zucchini on your Neighbor's Porch Day. Truly.

In honor of that, here are my top five zucchini recipes. Try one! You might be surprised by how good it will taste and how versatile the little green veggies really are.

Breakfast: Zucchini Quiche

Lunch: Grilled Zucchini Strips
Cut zucchini lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with Italian seasoning, and grill until tender, turning once.

Supper: Zucchini Lasagne
(see below)

Snack: Zucchini Bread

Dessert: Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cookies

Zucchini Lasagne

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Pour the EVOO in the bottom of a 13x9 casserole dish.
  3. Place 3-4 strips of zucchini in the dish, forming a layer.
  4. Sprinkle 1/3 of half-and-half over the zucchini.
  5. Sprinkle 1/3 of the cheese over the zucchini,
  6. Pour 1/3 cup of the bread crumbs over the cheese.
  7. Repeat zucchini, crumbs, cheese, and half-and-half layers twice more.
  8. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  9. Place the casserole dish on the foil, and put in the oven.
  10. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until zucchini is cooked tender and cheese is melted.

Oven Nuggets and Fries

I hate McDonalds.

No, I don't mean in a corporate-you-kill-small-businesses sort of way. I just can't stand their food. And thankfully, neither can my girls.

But, we still love the occasional chicken nuggets and fries meal. This is the easiest and healthiest way I've found to make this kids-favorite. NOTE: If you want the meal to be done at the same time, make the fries first, because they take longer to cook.

Chicken nuggets

  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasted, cut into 3-inch pieces
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2-3 tablespoons of seasoning salt
  • 4 Tablespoons of butter

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Slice the butter into tablespoon sized pieces and place in a 13x9 casserole dish. Place the dish in the oven until the butter melts, about 4 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, mix the flour and seasoning salt (or seasonings of your chosing) in a gallon sized ziploc bag.
  3. Put the chicken in the bag.
  4. Seal it.
  5. Check to make sure it's sealed.
  6. Check again.
  7. Hand the chicken bag to your child and let them shake it until the chicken is thoroughly coated. (Or shake it yourself, but then you lose super-mom points.)
  8. Take the dish out of the oven and place the chicken in the butter. Turn the chicken once, so all pieces are coated.
  9. Put the dish back in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through (165 degrees internal temp).

And, while you're heating the house up for chicken nuggets, why not make some ...

French Fries

  • 5-6 potatoes, washed and cut into strips
  • 2-3 Tablespoons EVOO
  • 1 ranch dressing packet, optional

  1. Pour the EVOO into a gallon-sized ziploc bag.
  2. Add the potatoes.
  3. Seal the bag. Make sure. Check a third time.
  4. Shake the bag until the potatoes are evenly coated with the EVOO.
  5. Open the bag, add the ranch dressing mix.
  6. Seal the bag and shake again, until potatoes are coated.
  7. Spread the potatoes on a baking sheet
  8. Bake for 45 minutes at 400 degrees, turning halfway through.

Not Hansel-and-Gretal-ish

There was/is a cooking show called Kids-a-Cookin' and I always thought it sounded like a tribute to the Hansel and Gretal story. But, I think it's no less harmless than today's recipe, referred to in our house as "Kid Kabobs". *no children were hurt in the making of this meal.

Kid Kabobs

3 cups (more or less) fully cooked ham, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 cups (more or less) cheese*, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 cups (more or less) fresh pineapple**, cut into (you guessed it) 1/2 cubes
a box of toothpicks***

When I serve this, I give each child 5-6 toothpicks, and an equal amount of ham, cheese, and pineapple. The girls love "making" their own supper, and we never have a battle about this meal.

*about the cheese: cheddar, monterrey jack, colby, any kind you like
**about the pineapple: you could use the canned slices of pineapple, but fresh is just SO much better, even in the middle of Kansas
***about the toothpicks: you can use bamboo skewers for older kids or forgo the stabbing utensils all together for toddlers

Ham, Sweet Ham

Growing up, I never liked ham. I thought ham just meant the lunchmeat you put on sandwiches and got in plastic, sealed bags.

Then I married into a pork-raising family.

Now, my favorite ham comes from the meat we have processed in Herrington, KS. Something you may not realize: every meat processor has a different recipe for their ham cure, and it does make a difference. The ham from Herrington doesn't need dressed up.

But, because I can, we dress it up anyway.

My husband makes and sells jams and jellies through Farmers Markets. Two of my favorites are his Peach Jalapeno Jelly and Confetti Jelly. To make ham in our house, I place a strip of aluminum foil in a dutch oven. Then, I place a thawed cured ham on the foil. Pour the peach jalapeno or confetti jelly on top of the ham. Tent the aluminum foil.

Bake the ham at 350 degrees for about 18 minutes per pound of meat, or until the internal temperature reads 160 degrees. If you like the ham edges a little crispy, remove the foil the last 20 minutes or so.

Then, let the ham set at least 10 minutes before carving it. That will allow the juices to soak back into the meat and make for a better tasting ham.


Sunday, August 2, 2009

Weekly menu for August 2- 8

Sunday, August 2
Toast & Jelly
Super Salad
Ham and fried potatoes

Monday, August 3
Breakfast burritos
PBJ Sandwiches
Kid Kabobs

Tuesday, August 4
Leftover ham, fruit
Frozen pizza, salad

Wednesday, August 5
Toast and fruit
Frozen lunch
Chicken nuggets, fries

Thursday, August 6
Scrambled eggs
Lunch OUT
Tortilla pinwheels

Friday, August 7
Fried chicken salad
Sloppy joes

Saturday, August 8
Tater-tot casserole
Tomato soup, rolls

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Ah, burritos. So good in so many ways!

Our family's version of it is pretty simple. You can spice it up or down to your tastes.

1 pound ground beef
1 can refried beans
about 2 cups cheddar cheese
about 12 large to medium flour tortillas
1 cup of your favorite salsa

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Ground beef in a large skillet. Drain.
  3. Stir salsa and refried beans into beef. Stir and cook on medium-low until combined.
  4. Place a spoonful of the meat/bean mixture on each tortilla, evenly distributing among them all.
  5. Sprinkle cheese on top of meat/bean mixture.
  6. Add anything else you want in the burritos. (Onions, peppers, cumin, cilantro, lettuce, tomato)
  7. Roll tortilla and put seam-side down in a 13x9 casserole.
  8. Bake 15 minutes or until cheese is melted completely.
  9. Serve with sour cream.

Chicken quesadillas

The Menu says chinese food tonight. Translation: I'm making the fried rice posted last week.

But if that doesn't suit your tastebuds, try this.

  1. Preheat the oven to broil.
  2. Dice up some of that leftover chicken from the beer-butt chicken.
  3. Saute some diced onions in butter, then add the chicken until warm.
  4. Place flour tortillas on a baking sheet.
  5. Spoon the chicken and onion mixture on the tortillas and spread evenly.
  6. Top with cheddar cheese or colby-jack.
  7. Place a second tortilla on top.
  8. Broil on low until cheese is just melted or until tortillas start to turn golden brown.
  9. Put a dollop of sour cream on each quesadilla and enjoy!

Tip: use a pizza cutter to cut the quesadillas into wedges, to make it easier for the kiddos to eat.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Beer Butt Chicken

I love making beer-butt chicken. Not only does it make delicious meat and enough for multiple meals, it also does all the cooking outside. It does use a significant amount of propane (yes, we'd make Mr. Hill proud!) but it is SO worth it.

I am a cheater. I bought the can holder to make it easier to grill the chicken, and I just use the instructions that came with it. If you don't have any beer available or don't want to use it, I've heard you can substitute a can of soda.

Me? I like it the original way. And so, here is the original beer-butt chicken recipe, thanks to This Site:


Beer Butt Chicken Recipe courtesy of Grilling America, by Rick Brown (2003 ReganBooks).
(Rick Browne is also host of public television’s “Barbecue America”)

DRY RUB 1 tsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. savory or oregano
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. paprika
1 TBS. sea salt –ground
1 tsp. dry yellow mustard

1 cup apple cider
2 TBS. olive oil
2 TBS. balsamic vinegar
6 oz. warm beer

To cook a large 4-5 pound chicken with indirect heat on a charcoal or gas grill.
Cooking time 1 1/4 – 2 hours.
Use a grill with lid large enough to cook a chicken standing upright.

Mix the rub in a small bowl until it’s well incorporated. Wash, dry and season the chicken generously inside and out with the rub. Work the mixture well into the skin and under the skin wherever possible. Place in medium bowl, cover and set aside at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes.

Using a 12-oz. an of your favorite beer, pour out half the contents into a spray bottle, add the cider, olive oil, vinegar and set aside. Take the beer can in one hand and insert it into the ChickCAN

(The beverage can may be used alone, with the bird’s legs creating a pedestal)

OPTIONAL: You may add Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, minced garlic, onions, etc. to liquid. You can also use fruit juices, colas, or wine instead of beer.

Place the chicken over the ChickCANTM rack and beer can and place on the grill over indirect heat. To prevent flare ups on the grill place the rack into a disposable aluminum pie pan and add 1/4 cup of water

CAUTION: “Cook with indirect heat”! This method of cooking chicken does two things: first, it helps drain off the fat as the chicken cooks, second, the beverage steams the inside of the chicken, while the outside is cooked by the BBQ heat, making it the most moist bird you’ve ever laid yer eyes, or gums, on. Some people put a small potato or carrot in the neck opening of the chicken to keep the steam inside.

For Charcoal Grills: Place coals on one side of barbecue grill, cook chicken over the other side. Add 6-8 coals every 30 min.

For Multiple Burner Gas Grills: Turn gas to medium on one burner, place chicken over an unheated burner.

For oven use: Place in a disposable pie pan and add 1/4 cup of water. Cook at 350°.

Cook for 1 1/4- to 2 hours. During the cooking time spray the chicken all around with the basting spray several times. The chicken is done when it is dark golden brown and the internal temperature reaches 180o in the thigh. Carefully remove the bird on the ChickCAN rack, and place it on heatproof counter top to rest for 5-10 minutes. Remove the chicken from the beer can with tongs while holding the rack with an oven mitt.

WARNING That aluminum can, and the liquid in it, is very hot and can burn you.

Give the chicken one more spritz of the basting spray and then carve. Serve and enjoy!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Grilled steak

I wasn't going to post this as a recipe, because I assume everyone knows how to grill a steak. But then again, does everyone know how to grill a good steak?

  • First step: get a good steak. The more marbling (white specks of fat throughout the meat) the steak has, the more tender it will be.
  • Here's a great publication on meat quality and preparation.
  • Don't get in a hurry. I tend to screw up steaks by essential flash-burning them. I love the crunch of the fat (I know; that's just gross) but it's not the correct way to cook the steak.
  • Make sure you get the safe internal temperature for the meat: minimum of 145 degrees F.
  • Add whatever spices or seasonings you want. If I'm eating it as a grilled steak, I'll just add a little worchestershire sauce to it. If I'm going to use the steak in fajitas, I'll just add some southwest seasoning as a rub. A tender, top quality steak won't need anything at all. For the more tough the meat (usually also the cheaper cuts), a marinade can help break down the "tough" part of it and improve the flavor and tenderness.
  • Consider adding an extra steak or two to the grill, while you've got it fired up. Leftover steak makes excellent fajitas!

When in doubt, go to the NCBA or your state beef organization. They KNOW beef like no others. Another great source: the K-State meat science department. Dr. Hunter KNOWS his stuff.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Weekly Recipe, July 26-August 1

Sunday, July 26
Grilled steak
Beer-butt chicken

Monday, July 27
Chicken quesadillas

Tuesday, July 28
Chinese food

Wednesday, July 29
Scrambled Eggs
Burritos, pico de gallo

Thursday, July 30
Oatmeal and fresh fruit
Out for lunch
Taco salad

Friday, July 31
Doughnut Day
Appetizers only: stuffed jalapenos, stacked Ritz

Saturday, August 1
Bacon quiche

BBQ Pork

You know that pork roast you made last night? Time to repackage it. After all, it IS the weekend and time to relax!

Shred the pork into chunks with a fork.
Pour your favorite barbeque sauce over it.
Either microwave for 2-3 minutes until warmed through, or put in a crock pot for about 4 hours on high or until warmed through. The meat is already cooked, so I don't worry as much about 160 degrees. (Feel free to correct me, food safety experts!)
Put on your favorite hamburger bun and serve with salad and/or chips.

Enjoy your Saturday!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Pork Roast

Pork Roast

I am spoiled; this I know. I have a side of beef and entire pork in my deep freeze. Not only does this save my grocery bills, it also allows me to test out more recipes with beef and pork in them.

Pork roast is by far my favorite cut of pork. No matter how you make it, I think it’ll taste delicious. Of the methods I’ve tried, this is my favorite.

Pork Roast
3-4 pound pork roast, thawed
Seasoning salt (I use about 3 tablespoons)
Pepper (about a teaspoon)
Olive oil
1 cup water
Aluminum foil

  1. Line a roasting pan with aluminum foil, making the strips of foil about 3 times longer than the pan is wide.
  2. Set the roast on a plate and pour about a tablespoon of olive oil over it. Use your hands to rub the olive oil all over the roast.
  3. Sprinkle seasoning salt and pepper on the roast and use your hands to rub it into the meat.
  4. Place the roast in the pan on the foil.
  5. Pour the water around the roast.
  6. Tent the foil over the roast.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for (here’s the tricky part) 18-20 minutes per pound of roast. So, a 3 pound roast would be 54-60 minutes; a 4 pound roast would be 72-80 minutes. I always use my meat thermometer and cook to an internal temperature of 160 degrees, so I know exactly when it’s done.
  8. When the time is up, take the roast out of the oven and let it rest at least 10 minutes before cutting it.

Add baked potatoes at the same time you put the roast in, and your meal can be done at the same time. The rule on baked potatoes: 45 minutes at 400 degrees F.; 60 minutes at 350 degrees F.; or 90 minutes at 325 degrees F.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Fried Rice Recipe

In case you didn’t get a chance to make the pizza rolls on Tuesday and are wondering what to eat tonight, here’s another “ol’ reliable” that we use. The peanut oil gives it an authentic, restaurant flavor, and the flexibility of the recipe means I usually have the ingredients on hand.

Fried Rice for 6
3 cups minute rice, cooked
2 eggs, beaten
1 small onion, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 carrot (or 3 baby carrots), diced
1-2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon peanut oil (can substitute vegetable oil)
1 chicken breast OR 1 cup diced ham, optional

  1. Prepare the minute rice as instructed on the box. Set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet to medium-high heat.
  3. If you are using meat, add the chicken or ham to the skillet and saute until cooked through. Remove from skillet and set aside
  4. Add the onions, celery, and carrots to the skillet. Stir fry until just tender.
  5. Add the meat and cooked rice to the skillet. Stir and let cook for 1-2 minutes over medium-high heat.
  6. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, beat the eggs.
  7. Pour the eggs over the rice mixture and stir until cooked through.

Bonus the meal by stopping by your local Chinese food restaurant or grocery store for a few egg rolls. Or, if you are really ambitious, you can make your own.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Tacos as backup

Tacos are a constant back-up meal in our house. Not only is it quick and a hit with everyone, but it usually turns into two meals. Tacos can be made in so many ways; you just need to play around with it to find what fits for your household.

Tacos, Our Style

1 pound ground beef
1 Taco Bell taco seasoning
Soft tortillas for the girls and taco shells for adults
Shredded cheddar
Sour cream
Additional optional toppings, including wedged tomatoes, diced bell pepper, jalapenos, bread-and-butter jalapenos, salsa, lettuce, onion, carrots and any other veggie that sounds good

  1. Cook the ground beef and prepare according to the directions on the Taco Bell seasoning packet.
  2. Spread sour cream on a tortilla or taco shell.
  3. Spoon beef on top of that, then cheddar cheese and any other toppings you want to add.

MEAL TWO: Mexi-cornbread
  1. Save any leftover taco meat and toppings.
  2. Prepare a boxed cornbread mix and add a can of cream corn.
  3. Stir taco leftovers into cornbread mixture.
  4. Pour into an 8x8 casserole.
  5. Combine 1 cup sour cream and 1 cup cheddar cheese, and drop the sour cream/cheese mix onto the cornbread mix.
  6. Bake according to the cornbread mix directions.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Fair Week: Pizza Roll

This week is our county fair, so I needed to make something that 1) would last for a couple meals and 2) reheated well and 3) packed easily. So, pizza rolls it is! I'm not talking about the frozen little saucers you can get at the grocery store (although some days, those can suffice.) I'm talking about a bread loaf stuffed with pizza flavor. It's easy to make and a hit with everyone I know who has tried it.

Save money tip: price check the mozzarella. I might be cheaper to buy a chunk of cheese and shred it at home. Also, you can buy shredded mozzarella when it's on super-sale and freeze it until you need it.

3 loaves frozen bread dough, thawed
2 eggs
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp parsley
1/2 cup EVOO aka olive oil
4 oz pepperoni
1/2 pound ham, shredded
1 pound sausage, browned and drained
1/2 pound mozzarella cheese, shredded

  1. Combine the meats and cheese in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, beat olive oil and spices into the eggs. Pour 3/4 of the egg mixture into the meats and cheese.
  2. On parchment paper or a floured surface, roll out the bread dough into rectangles. Spread the meat/cheese mixture onto the bread dough.
  3. Roll the dough into a jelly roll, pinching the edges and ends to seal.
  4. Place on a cookie or baking sheet. Brush the remaining egg mixture on top. (I like to let my girls smear it on, being sure their hands are washed thoroughly before and after.)
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

You can freeze one or two of the loaves for later use. Just be sure to let it cool completely before you freeze it, to minimize ice crystals and maximize taste.

Menu for the week: July 19-25

Sunday, July 19
Breakfast: Pancakes
Lunch: hamburgers and chips
Supper: Chef salad and yogurt smoothies

Monday, July 20
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Hot dogs, Mac-n-cheese
Supper: Meatballs and spaghetti

Tuesday, July 21
Breakfast: Blueberry muffins
Lunch: Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
Supper: Pizza Roll

Wednesday, July 22
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Leftover pizza roll
Supper: Leftover pizza roll with tomatoes and cucumbers

Thursday, July 23
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: OUT (every Thursday lunch is OUT.)
Supper: Leftover pizza roll (really. you'll have that much left and it's THAT good.)

Friday, July 24
Breakfast: Doughnut Day
Lunch: Ham sandwiches
Supper: Pork roast, microwave potatoes

Saturday, July 25 (My dad's birthday!)
Breakfast: Waffles
Lunch: Cheesy tacos
Supper: BBQ pork, corn on the cob

Monday, July 20, 2009

365 recipes in 365 days

I hereby promise to post menus for you to use for the next 365 days!

If you're wondering if my recipes will be something you can use, let me tell you about myself. I'm a mother to four girls, ages 7, 5, 3, and 4 months. My second daughter can't handle a lot of sugar, dairy, or cinnamon; my third daughter can't handle a lot of citrus. I love to use lots of spices and herbs, especially garlic, parsley, basil, cumin, thyme, mustard seed, and much much more. I don't like to salt food while I'm preparing it; I think that's why the salt shaker is on the table, so you can add salt to your liking then. It's very important to me that our meals are balanced, meaning they have some sort of meat, fruit, vegetable, dairy, and grain.

I work outside the home MWF, 8-5. I love to cook, but I usually have multiple "helpers" and limited time. I try often to make meals that create leftovers that can be easily recreated into a second or third meal.

We live on a small farm with a big garden, so I love to use fresh produce when I can and preserve it as much as possible. I also am lucky enough to have access to and room for beef and pork, so many of my recipes call for these two meats.

My average weekly grocery bill is $75, to feed our family of 6.

I'm just a cook -- not a chef, not a very good baker, just a cook. But, I like to try lots of different recipes, with lots of taste and variety. I'm determined to expose my kids to many foods, and teach them to enjoy it.

So, I hope to give you cheap, balanced, quick, easy, tasty menus and recipes. And I hope it helps make your mealtime more enjoyable and less stressful.