Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category
As I have mentioned, a time or two before, we are moving.
In this process, Old Mother Hubbard’s cupboard becomes rather bare. We are currently being sustained by super easy meals, string cheese and more take out than I will ever admit to.
Oh yes, and eggs from my friend Angie’s organic goat farm.
Related: Brown Town LOVES brinner.
My favorite brinner addition is a concoction of simple little egg bites that we affectionately refer to as Nelly Frittatas. Add the fact that they are cheap, easy and can be whipped up in less than 15 minutes and they magically seem to taste even better.
You literally need a mini muffin pan and three things as your base: Eggs, milk (or water) and cheese.
From there, you can get creative.
When I had no kids, and threw exceptional brunch style gatherings, I would sprinkle in all kinds of spendy sharp white cheddar cheeses and fresh chopped veggies. Now I feel fancy if I throw in some rinsed black beans, corn and top with a tablespoon of salsa.
Seriously. These bad boys are delicious. Make them in the morning and reheat them at dinner. Or snack on them cold.
To make 24(ish) Nelly Frittatas you will need:
1/2 Cup of milk
1-2 Cups of shredded cheese
Meat – I had some turkey ham on hand that was begging to be put to good use. I coarsely chop it and drop a piece, or two, into each mini muffin tin.
Veggies – Corn, spinach, peppers, onions…There is no wrong here!
Herbs – Chopped chives add a pop of freshness and tons of flavor.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Generously grease mini muffin tin with butter or cooking spray. Be very, very generous. I put my mini muffin pans directly on a cookie sheet. The wire racks in my oven beg for disaster when it comes to raw eggs and my clutzy nature.
Sprinkle cheese and desired veggies into each opening of your pan. Beat eggs with milk, mixing well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Carefully pour the egg mixture into each tin, careful not to overfill. It’s OK if you do. These don’t have to be pretty to taste good.
Place in your preheated oven and bake for 8-14 minutes, yes that is a wide range. Better overdone than underdone. Cooking time depends on the size of your muffin pan and the amount of egg in each opening. You will easily see when they are done.
When cooked through, use a small spatula or spoon to gently pull the frittata edges from the sides of each opening. Carefully remove and place on serving tray.
Whip up some buttered toast and serve with fresh fruit or cold applesauce for a well balanced (and uber quick) meal.
Ease factor: Nearly impossible to screw up
And the jury says: Can I have more?
Grief, for me, is a funny little process. Complicated, painful and quirky.
I have only cooked one meal since my Dad left us. Hot tea and string cheese can sustain me for longer than you may realize, but the rest of my poor family needs to eat.
Thankfully, our (amazing) support system of friends set up a Care Calendar and we have delicious meals delivered to our doorstep every couple of days.
It has been a surprise, each day, how much these gestures have meant to us. I’ve always appreciated the kindness and thought of a meal, but this go round it has meant a little more.
There are days when it is tough to just be. Knowing that your family is going to eat a delicious, nutritious meal, that you don’t have to prepare, is among the best gifts. It makes the day more bearable. It frees up little pockets of energy to smile and play with your kids. It eases a burden.
We are utterly grateful.
But at some point, I need to start to cook again too.
So, last night, in a explosion(ish) of energy and an effort to regain some semblance of normalcy, I made dinner. It was a recipe that had been in the back of my head for awhile: Cheeseburger Soup. It sounded delicious, easy and my kids would love it.
Well, in theory they would love it.
This is a weeknight recipe. It was done, start to finish, in 25 minutes and I thought it was positively the bee’s knees. Comforting, warm and a smidgen silly. We all need a little silly in our lives. Even if it’s your choice of serving spoon.
SuperHub thought that chopped up pickles would add a little something to the soup. Of course, I think that is a splendid idea, pickles make everything better.
My kids, well they hated it. They ate 5 and 3 bites, respectively, but only because there was homemade pineapple upside down cake with their names on it.
Then they asked if someone else could bring us dinner tomorrow night.
I smiled as I said, YES.
You will need:
1 lb lean ground beef
1 Onion, chopped
Potatoes, peeled and chopped (amount to your liking)
Carrots, chopped (amount to your liking)
Celery, chopped (amount to your liking)
4 T butter, divided
3 Cups Chicken or beef stock (I prefer to use low sodium)
1 Cup Milk (2% adds a little more creamy finish)
1/2 Cup flour
1/2 to 3/4 Cup Sour cream
3-4 Cups Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
Brown your beef, drain. Melt 2 T of butter in your pan and add carrots, celery and onion. Cook over medium high heat until tender. Add the browned ground beef and pour in your beef or chicken stock. Add the chopped potatoes. Bring to a boil and allow the mixture to simmer for about 10 minutes. Once potatoes are fork tender, heat the milk with the remaining 2 T of butter. Whisk in the flour and then slowly whisk the milk mixture into your soup. At this point, I used a potato masher to gently smash down the potatoes, giving the soup a hearty consistency. Reduce heat to low and stir in sour cream and cheddar cheese until well combined. Add dried parsley to your liking. Grab a happy little spoon and divide into bowls. Serve with a crusty piece of bread and a smile.
One of my lucky readers needs a Zak happy spoon of their own, don’t you think? Leave a comment below to enter. I will draw a winner at random (at noon CST on Wednesday February 2, 2011) and you too can have “Happy Meals” every night of the week.
The more you do, the more you can do.
While recently preparing my family for a 15 hour (each way) road trip South of the Mason Dixon line, I found myself with an entire day home alone. A friend hosted my kids (mwah mwah mwah) and SuperHub scurried off to watch football. It was just me and the dust bunnies that float to the corners when the furnace kicks on.
What I should have done with this time was sort, fold and put away Mount Laundry so we could pack our suitcases. What I chose to do was clean out and organize our hall closet, make a double batch of banana bread and roast pumpkins.
We are pumpkin eaters at our house: Pumpkin pie, bread, lattes, pacos, ravioli. If it has pumpkin in it, we are happy to gobble it up.
So while Pandora played my favorite Christmas carols, I studied Google for the best way to put our post-Halloween decor to good use. We had 4 pie pumpkins adoring our front stairs and I had no arguments to mediate, no sippy cups to fill and no one to ask me anything about anything.
I was surprised at how easy the process was and how excited I was to puree and put the pumpkin to good use.
Because really, who wants to climb Mount Laundry when there is no one around to help spot me in case I fall in?
You will need:
A pie pumpkin (usually 6 to 8 inches in diameter, sold in grocery stores this time of year)
Ice cream scooper or spoon
A baking dish or cookie sheet
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Wash the outside of the pumpkin well, with just water. Using a sharp knife, carefully cut the pumpkin in half. I found a serrated bread knife worked best. Using an ice cream scooper, remove the seeds and insides of the pumpkin.
Note to You: You can rinse and toast the seeds for a delicious snack. A friend of mine recently brought me cumin cinnamon pumpkin seeds that her parents toasted. Holy maker of all things delicious, they were tasty.
Back to the pumpkin.
Spray your cookie sheet with cooking spray and lay the pumpkin open sides down. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour (or longer, don’t stress) or until fork tender. Remove from the oven and let cool. Using a spoon, carefully remove all the fruit from the skin, scooping it into a bowl.
Using a masher, mixer or hand blender (my favorite) gently mash the pumpkin until it is smooth and velvety.
My mixture was not watery as I didn’t opt to add water to the baking dish. If your pumpkin is watery, strain or place over coffee filters and drain overnight.
Each one of my pumpkins yielded about 3 cups of puree. Add to any recipe that calls for pumpkin, squash or sweet potatoes.
Our favorite pumpkin bread recipe:
15 oz pumpkin puree
1 Cup canola oil
2/3 Cup sugar
3 1/2 Cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon ginger
Mix the first 4 ingredients well, set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet mixture, whisking well. Pour into loaf pans (I use 8 mini pans) that have been sprayed with cooking spray.
Mini loaf pans bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Larger loaf pans will make 2-3 loaves and bake for 50 minutes.
When a butter knife, inserted into the center of a loaf, comes out clean, your bread is done. Remove from the oven and cool well before popping out of the pans. Wrap up to store or place in an airtight container.
This recipe is best on day two, but it rarely lasts that long at our house.
The planets aligned last week because I had a fridge full of ground turkey and mushrooms were on sale. Oh, and I finally remembered that I’ve been craving stroganoff since the fourth month of my pregnancy, with Maddy.
She is almost 5 year old.
The reason I haven’t given in to preparing foods (I love) with mushrooms before? SuperHub detests them. “They are a fungus.” And everyone who knows what a great plate of beef (or turkey) stronganoff is, knows that it can’t be made without mushrooms.
And suddenly, after 13 years together and nearly 8 years of marriage, I decided to make SuperHub pick them out of his food. Because mama wants some properly made stroganoff. Giddy up.
This time of year, when the weather cools and it gets dark before Oprah is over, I slip into comfort food mode.
And this is among the most comforting of foods. Warm, creamy and rich in flavor. And thanks to a few tricks, it’s a little easier on the old ticker.
You will need:
1 lb. Ground turkey
1 Can Cream of mushroom soup
1/3 Cup Milk
1/2 Cup Light sour cream
Fresh mushrooms (large enough to be picked out)
Garlic, chopped (I didn’t have enough so I used garlic powder also, which would be fine on it’s own)
1 Small onion, chopped
Ground pepper, to taste
Beef broth (optional, I used it to boil the egg noodles in to give UMPH to the flavor of the dish. For the record: It UMPH’d it.)
Brown the turkey, when cooked thoroughly, add pepper to taste. Set aside. Add 2 Tablespoons of olive oil to the pan and sautee the chopped onions, garlic and mushrooms. Add the meat back to the pan. In a seperate bowl, whisk together the soup, milk and sour cream. Pour over vegetable and meat mixture, stirring well to combine.
Bring the beef broth, mixed with water, to a boil and add your egg noodles. Cook until done. Drain, mix with the sauce and serve!
Note to You: You can add peas, carrots or any veggie that tickles your fancy. I served carrot sticks on the side.
Four out of five of the Browns gobbled up their dinner plate. And there was even enough leftover for me to have it for lunch the next day. And lucky for me, SuperHub gave me all of his mushrooms.
Yesterday, I made up a new recipe. It wasn’t on purpose, it was out of desperation. A napping kid and a busy afternoon schedule meant that I needed dinner to cook itself in the slow cooker.
I warned SuperHub, it was either going to be gooooood or we were going to feed it to the dog and order pizza.
When we walked back into the kitchen, just before dinner time, I was pleasantly surprised by the aroma that filled the air. I knew, based on the sweet and savory hints, it was going to mimic Brown Sugar Chicken. And it did. But in a cousin, once removed, kind of way.
And it was easier than Brown Sugar Chicken. I know, right?
Note to You: This recipe is for a single batch; of course, I make a double batch. I have a kid (growing boy) with a hollow leg and we like leftovers for easy lunches the rest of the week. Double batches also make it easy to surprise a friend with dinner!
You will need:
1 lb Boneless skinless chicken (I used frozen chicken tenders) Frozen or thawed, mine were frozen
1/3 Cup Soy sauce (low sodium is always a good option but not necessary)
1/2 Cup Brown sugar
1 Can Crushed pineapple
1/4 Cup Apple juice (to add moisture), optional
Put your chicken boobies in the slow cooker. Whisk the soy sauce and brown sugar together then add the can of crushed pineapple, with the juice! Stir to combine and pour over the chicken. Add the apple juice if you need more liquid. Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours. Mine took 5ish but were in there for 6 hours and were fine. If you are using frozen meat, it will take longer. If you are using thawed chicken tenders, it will be done in 4 hours.
If I would have had some on hand, I would have thrown in sliced green peppers. It would have added a green veggie and lessened my guilt level on the inadequate number of healthy items my kids have consumed this post-Halloween week. What, don’t Almond Joys count as a serving of fruit?
Serve over rice.
Hint: I know I say this all the time, but when preparing your rice, use Reduced Sodium Chicken Broth instead of water. It adds OODLES of flavor to the rice! A $2 box of broth will prepare 1 to 2 batches of rice and take your meal to a whole new level.
And the Survey Says…
SuperHub: “Yeah, it’s good. I put some hot sauce on top to add heat, but it’s good.”
Me: “YUM. That pineapple is like CANDY.”
Maddy: “If I eat it, can I have some Halloween candy?”
Cooper: “Can I have more chicken, please?”
Sam: “I WANT A ‘POON.”
Happy Hallows’ Eve! Almost…It’s close enough to Halloween now that I have fully stocked my candy bowl. Ahem…For the kids, OF COURSE.
I love this time of year.
The sounds of feet stomping on crispy fallen leaves. Aromas of apple cider and hot cocoa warming to greet chilled trick or treaters. Pillaging through the kids’ candy stash, with SuperHub, after our boy and ghouls are slipping into their sugar coma induced sleeps.
Plus, it’s another chance to get together with friends and celebrate. And nibble brain cupcakes, bloody fingers and eye balls.
Personally, I am a huge fan of eye balls. They are crunchy, sweet and a little gooey on the inside.
And they are easy to make…Just keep your eye on the recipe!
You will need:
3 Large egg whites, room temperature
1/4 Teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 Cup sugar
1/4 Teaspoon vanilla extract
Put the egg whites into a bowl and let stand for 30 minutes. Cold eggs will not whip up as beautifully as room temperature eggs.
Prepare two baking sheets by lining them with tin foil.
Using a hand mixer, or standing mixer with whisk attachment, beat the egg whites, on medium speed, until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and blend well. Slowly add the vanilla, then the sugar, beating the mixture the entire time, until stiff peaks begin to form.
Patience darling, patience. Don’t dump all of the sugar in at once. I add a little bit every 45 seconds or so until it’s gone. After 4-7 minutes, stiff peaks should have formed. If the sugar is completely dissolved, spoon the mixture into a plastic bag. Snip the corner.
Carefully, squeeze the meringue mixture onto the foil lined baking sheets. Two circle or ovals touching in the middle for pairs of eyes. Or single circles for single eyes. Leave 1 inch between pairs. My pairs of eyes have a high mortality rate. Thankfully this recipe makes a lot. Rest assured, you will have lots of mistakes to sample.
Push an M & M into each eye, creating different looks with colors and placement.
Place the meringue eyes into an oven preheated to 300 degrees, for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, turn the oven off and leave the meringue cookies in the oven for another 40-45 minutes. DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN DOOR!
When they are done, remove the cookie sheets and allow the meringues to cool completely before removing them from the foil. When they are cooled, carefully lift and peel the eyes off the foil.
If desired, gently push wooden skewers, Popsicle sticks, or lolli-pop sticks into the bottom of each eye or pair of eyes.
Stick in your favorite drinks. Serve in a mason jar. Or pop into the top of a cupcake!
Quick (healthy) snacks are imperative to the survival of kiddos. If tiny humans aren’t properly nourished, they melt into little sobbing piles of people. As we all know, it’s not pretty.
I (heart) apples.
There isn’t anything better than biting into a fresh, crispy apple. Especially this time of year.
But what if you only have 1 apple left in the crsiper and 3 kids to feed?
Or 6 apples and a whole soccer team to provide snacks to post game.
Enter Fuzzy Apples. They are delicious alone or dipped in peanut butter. Paired with a slice of cheddar cheese or drizzled with some caramel ice cream topping.
Bonus: These little gems stay white and crispy for hours and hours and hours!
In the amount of time it took you to read this blog post, you could have had your snack made. Chip chop!
You will need:
A sharp knife
Lemon lime soda
Slice your apples. Place into a bowl and pour over the lemon lime soda until the apples are completely covered. Leave the apples to soak in the liquid for a couple minutes. Drain and serve. Yup, that’s it.
Being a germ freak (it’s flu season!) I like to serve my apples in single serving sized Dixie Cups. And it helps a little go a LONG way.
Note to You: The last photo (bottom right) was taken 4 hours POST slicing and the apple STILL isn’t brown. How ’bout them apples?
Last week I got an email forward from my sister, it was an email recipe swap.
You have been invited to be a part of a recipe exchange. Please send a recipe to the person whose name is in position 1 (even if you don’t know them) and it should be something quick, easy and without rare ingredients. Actually, the best one is the one you know in your head and can type right now. Don’t agonize over it; it is the one that you make when you are short on time.
Follow these instructions:
After you’ve sent your recipe to the person in position 1 below, and only to that person, copy this email into a new email, move my name to the top and put your name in position 2. Only mine and your name should show when you send your email. Send to 20 friends BCC (blind copy) If you cannot do this within 5 days, let me know, so it will be fair to those participating. You should receive 36 recipes. Its fun to see where they come from.
The turnaround is fast, as there are only 2 names on the list, and you only have to do this once!
1. (insert you friend’s email here)
2. (insert your email here)
Since this little note made no mention of bad karma if I didn’t pass it along, had no animated pictures of kittens and most certainly did not promise me that Bill Gates was going to buy me a laptop for forwarding on, I opted in. As email forwards go, it was harmless.
Plus, who doesn’t need a little inspiration in the kitchen? I sent it along, as directed, to 23 friends. (I am an overachiever.)
Theoretically I should have gotten oodles of recipes emailed to me within 5 days.
I got one. ONE.
Luckily, it was a good one. (Thank you Anna D! Whoever you are.)
Upon reading the recipe for Chicken Wild Rice Soup, I was smitten. It was easy, healthier than the traditional method and the perfect slow cooker recipe for these chilly autumn afternoons.
As always, I made a double batch. I plan to nibble on the leftovers all week while I wait to hear back from Bill Gates on the free computer he promised me four months ago. Still waiting Billy Boy…
You will need:
1 Lb. Boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced
1/2 Cup Uncooked wild rice
1/2 Cup Chopped onions
2 – 10 oz Cans cream of potato soup
14 oz Low sodium chicken broth
2 Cups Sliced carrots (You can use frozen or fresh!)
12 oz Evaporated milk
3 T. Flour, mixed with a bit of the chicken broth
Fresh cracked pepper, to taste
Salt, to taste
Garlic powder, to taste
Mix 3 T flour with chicken broth and blend until smooth. Add to slow cooker. This will thicken your soup. Then place all your other ingredients, EXCEPT the evaporated milk, in your slow cooker. I made the mistake of throwing it in…If you make the same mistake, stir in whole milk or cream before serving. It fattens up the soup but saves the meal.
Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6-8 hours. Thirty minutes before serving, stir in the evaporated milk.
Because I had a napping kid, yeast, flour, salt and water, I opted to make a quick loaf of homemade bread. Quick dough or a store bought loaf would be wonderful as well.
Me: <Assorted moans and slurping noises> I was the first one done.
SuperHub: “To be honest, I was only excited about the homemade bread but this soup is actually really tasty.”
Cooper: “I am only going to eat the chicken.”
Maddy: “It’s OK, I don’t love it.”
Sammy: “MORE PEEEASE!” (She licked her bowl clean.)
Before I cut an onion, I take off my glasses. The release of sulfur when you cut the onion rises up and can get trapped between your glasses and your eye. Read: OUCH.
Then I place a few wooden matches in my mouth, unlit tips out. This helps neutralize the sulfur coming towards my nose. The trick is keeping your mouth shut.
If it’s an especially pungent onion, I rinse it once I’ve sliced it in half. The excess sulfur gases wash away. Then I continue to chop it with no tears flowing down my cheeks.
Then I chop an entire half onion in 8 cuts.
– Twice, longways along the middle, dividing the onion into thirds.
– Then three cuts from top to bottom.
– When you turn the knife to slice across the onion, it will already be chopped into semi-even pieces.
Confused? Me too. Check out the photo tutorial below.
Less chopping, less crying!
In my humble opinion, granola is among the world’s most perfect foods.
You can nibble it dry, smother it in milk and grab a spoon or sprinkle it on applesauce or yogurt.
It’s super good for your digestive system, as rolled oats provide loads of fiber. The Omega-3 fatty acids in flax seed can help protect you from heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes. Barley and oats contain antioxidants, which can help strengthen your body and prevent disease as well. You can add dried fruits and nuts to boost it’s nutritional properties, or if you are me and want to introduce it to the kids with no hesitation, you can sprinkle in some M & Ms or dark chocolate chips.
I made this batch as a quick energy after school snack. I left out nuts because we were sharing with a friend who has a tree nut allergy. I didn’t add any dried fruits because there were none in my pantry. Plus, I wanted the kiddos to gobble it up.
And my how they did.
What you need:
4 Cups rolled oats
Barley, whole flax seeds or wheat germ (optional)
1/2 Cup honey
1/4 Cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla (or almond!) extract
1/2 Cup walnuts, almonds or any nut that suits your fancy
1/2 teaspoon salt
Other things to add in 1/4 Cup to 1/2 Cup doses:
Sweetened coconut flakes
Dried apricots, cherries, blueberries or cranberries
Food Allergy Note: If you have a honey allergy in your household, you can use 1/2 Cup maple syrup or a thick syrup made with 1/2 cup brown sugar and 2-3 Tablespoons of water instead.
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Mix the oats and salt. Stir well. Add any other dry ingredients at this time, except anything chocolate or dried fruit.
Mix the honey, oil and vanilla in a separate bowl. Whisk to mix. Combine with the oat mixture and stir well to evenly coat your oats. On a boat. With your tote. Until they float. You can vote! Sorry, where was I? Evenly distribute the oats onto two baking sheets.
Bake for 10 minutes, remove from the oven and flip or stir the oats. Move the outsides in. Bake for 10 more minutes. Watch it, it is easy to burn! Remove your pans from the oven and spread the granola onto wax paper (or tin foil) on counter-top to cool.
You can stir in dried fruit while the granola is still hot, save any chocolate ingredients until it has cooled a bit more.
Within 30 seconds of my batch coming out of the oven, I had 2 three-footers on my counter-top noshing on the candy coated oats.
I spooned individual sized portions into snack size plastic bags that I picked up last season at the Target $1 aisle. Not only are these super cute, they are portable for easy on-the-go consumption.
You can store your granola in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks, but I bet you a Coke that it doesn’t last that long.
Frugal Mom Note: I made 25 snack bags (1/4 Cup servings) for roughly $4 for the entire batch. Quick math makes that $.16 per serving. That makes me almost as happy as seeing my kids gobble up a nutrition packed snack. Almost.