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