Thursday, October 29, 2009

It's My Recipe Blogaversary!

I have now been recipe blogging for 1 year! It has been a fun year and all my children expect the picture taking at the dinner table now. I love being a part of the food blogging community and thanks to everyone who tries my recipes! It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside when I find out that someone has enjoyed a recipe from my blog. For the record I made Lentil Stew, Quick Bread Sticks, and Sugar Cookies to celebrate my little anniversary - all 3 are favorite recipes from this last year.

Quick Bread Sticks

These are fast and yummy breadsticks! We had them with Lentil Stew tonight and everyone loved them. I think I had to stop the kids after they had 3. My youngest thought they tasted like Wetzel's Pretzels. Yummy.

Quick Bread Sticks

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon instant yeast (SAF)
2 tablespoons sugar
3 1/2 cups flour (+ 1/4 cup for high altitude)
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, melted (3 tablespoons for each cookie sheet)
about 2 tablespoons melted butter (for brushing tops)
garlic salt
parmesan cheese

Mix water, yeast, sugar, flour, and salt in the bowl of a mixer with a dough hook. Mix for 3 minutes. Let dough rest for 10 minutes. Spread melted butter onto 2 11x17 inch baking sheets. Roll breadstick dough to about 1/4 - 1/2 inch thickness and cut into strips with a cookie cutter (10 strips and slice all the strips in half). Twist slightly if desired and place about 1/2 inch apart on baking sheets. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with garlic salt and parmesan. You can sprinkle with Italian seasonings too if desired. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes. While bread sticks are rising preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Macaroni and Cheese (Freezer Meal)

This is a family favorite and definite kid pleaser! This recipe is for 2, 9x13 pans of macaroni and cheese or 4, 8x8 pans, so it's great for a crowd.

Macaroni and Cheese (Freezer Meal)
2 sticks butter (1 cup)
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons salt
8 cups or 1/2 gallon milk (2% or whole is the best)
3 tablespoons grated onion
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder (optional)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
2 pounds sharp cheddar cheese, grated
2 pounds elbow macaroni, cooked, drained and rinsed with cold water

In a big stock pot melt butter and add onion. Stir till onion is cooked but not browned. Remove from heat and add flour and salt and stir until smooth. Over medium heat add milk in a steady stream, stirring constantly until thickened. It will talk a while for it to come to a slow boil and thicken, but keep stirring. Add cheese and blend well. Pour cooked and drained macaroni into pot and mix it all together. Remove from heat. This makes 4, 8x8 inch foil pans or 2, 9x13 inch pans. Pour into foil pans. Cover with plastic wrap, then foil (at least 2 layers), and label with cooking instructions. Freeze.

Cooking Instructions:
Thaw for 24 hours in refrigerator. Bake uncovered at 375 for 30-40 minutes or until its hot and bubbly and cheese on edge is browned. If it is partially frozen it will take longer to bake through.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

I'm reposting this from last year because I actually got a picture this year, but funny enough these comments I made last year still works for this year: We made these last night with the pumpkin seeds we saved from carving our jack-o-lanterns on Monday. I just loved the smell that radiated through out the house as they roasted away. Such a yummy snack! Nina would eat them all if we left them in her reach!!

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

2 cups raw pumpkins seeds
2 tablespoons butter, melted (or you could use olive oil for a healthier version)
seasoned salt, probably 2 teaspoons (I have McCormick's Season All)

To prepare seeds you can either rinse them a lot and pick off all the pumpkin goo or boil them in salted water for 20 minutes (cleans them right up). After you prepare the seeds spread them out on a cookie sheet to dry overnight. When seeds are dry combine with butter and seasoned salt to taste. Toss to coat well. Spread the coated seeds on a cookie sheet , sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake at 300 for 30 minutes, stirring seeds around at least once while roasting. When they come out of the oven sprinkle them with some Kosher salt and there you go. I love munching on them when they are still hot. Mmmmm!!!!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Biscuit Topped Chicken Pot Pie

I really love my chicken pot pie recipe, but as luck would have it I had Pillsbury biscuits in my fridge and an idea. I thought I'd double the filling recipe for my pot pie, make half of it into a casserole type pot pie with biscuits on top, and take the other half and make it into a freezer meal casserole. I haven't tried the one that I froze yet, so I hope it will work out, but I did try the one I made the night of and it was great! I think my kids even liked it better than my usual pot pie.

Biscuit Topped Chicken Pot Pie

2/3 cup butter
2/3 cup chopped onion
2/3 cup flour
2 cans, 14 oz each, low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup half and half or milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon pepper
about 1/4 teaspoon Mrs. Dash
4 cups cooked chicken, cubed
4 cups frozen mixed vegetables (I use 2, 12 oz each, bags Green Giant Fresh Steamers mixed veg.)
2, 12 oz each, tubes Pillsbury Grands Jr. Golden Layers Buttermilk biscuits (10 count packages)

Melt butter in a dutch oven or pot. Add onion and cook until translucent. Do not allow to brown. Add flour and whisk well. Pour in broth and half and half or milk and whisk well. Cook stirring until thickened. Add salt, bouillon, onion powder, pepper, and Mrs. Dash. Heat through and add vegetables. Heat through.

Grease a 9x13 baking dish (or 2, 9x9 pans if you are freezing one). Pour chicken mixture into baking dish and top with biscuits (9 biscuits for 9x9 pans and 15-18 for 9x13 pans). Bake at 375 for 15 minutes. Cover with foil and cook for an additional 15 minutes.

**Freezer Meal Instructions will be added soon.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Egg and Sausage Breakfast Sandwiches (Freezer Meal)

My family loves sausage and egg McMuffins, so when I saw this freezer recipe on Real Mom Kitchen I was wondering why I hadn't made these before. These sandwiches are great for quick breakfasts and my husband likes taking them to work with him. If you have a little microwave egg poacher like I have they are so fast to whip up.

Egg and Sausage Breakfast Sandwiches (Freezer Meal)

English muffins, toasted
eggs (number of eggs depends on number of finished sandwiches desired)
water (1/2 tablespoon per egg)
cheese slices (American singles, cheddar, colby jack etc.)
frozen breakfast sausage patties (or sliced ham or cooked slices of bacon)

Decide on the number of sandwiches you'd like; you'll need one egg mixed with 1/2 tablespoon of water for each sandwich. I put all the eggs and water I need into a bowl and whisk them up to make scrambled eggs. You can either cook the eggs omelet style and then cut them into squares for each sandwich, cook scrambled eggs in a skillet and then pile them up on each sandwich, or if you have a microwave egg poacher you can pour a small amount of egg mixture into the egg poacher and microwave for 1 minute and 40 seconds.

To assemble place 1 slice of cheese on half of an English muffin, then egg, sausage patty (or other meat), and top off with other half of English muffin. Wrap each sandwich tightly in plastic wrap and label with heating instructions. Place all your wrapped sandwiches in an extra large ziplock bag and freeze.

Heating Instructions:
Remove plastic wrap. Wrap sandwich in a paper towel. Microwave for 1 minute and 30 seconds on 30% power to defrost. Microwave on high for 1 minute or until hot.

Nordstrom Cafe Tomato Basil Soup (Freezer Meal)

This was a freezer meal from my friend K. It was delicious with grilled cheese sandwiches. Is there anything better than a new yummy soup recipe??

Nordstrom Cafe Tomato Basil Soup (Freezer Meal)

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 large carrots, diced
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 tablespoon dried basil
2 large cans whole tomatoes with juices
2 large cans tomato puree
4-5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1-2 cups heavy cream
kosher salt (to taste)
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh basil, cut into fine ribbons (optional)

In a large stockpot over medium heat saute the carrots, onion, and dried basil in olive oil until softened, about 12-15 minutes. Do not allow to brown. Add the broth, tomatoes, and tomato puree. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes.

Remove from heat. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup in the pot. (Or you can blend small amounts of the soup in a blender or food processor and return blended soup to the pot.) Simmer over low heat. Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper. Add the cream. Taste again and adjust seasonings if needed. Garnish individual serving with fresh basil if desired.

For Freezer Meal:
Prepare soup as directed above. Let soup cool. Put into a ziplock bag and label with heating instructions. Freeze.

Heating Instructions:
Allow bag of soup to thaw somewhat or completely in the fridge (you could double bag the soup or put the bag in a pan in case it leaks). Empty the soup into a pot and heat until soup is hot and steamy. Don't allow the soup to boil (cream in it can separate if boiled).

Monday, October 19, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Here's what we're having this week:

Monday - Nordstrom Tomato Basil Soup (freezer meal) and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Tuesday - BBQ Meatballs, Individual Potato Gratins, and Green Beans
Wednesday - Chicken Lo Mein (freezer meal) and Carrots
Thursday - Chicken Pot Pie and Spinach Salad
Friday - Pizza
Saturday - Eating Out
Sunday - BBQ Shredded Pork Sandwiches, Homemade Hamburger Buns or Wheat Rolls, Salad or Pasta Salad and Peaches

I didn't realize when I was making my menu that we are having BBQ stuff twice. Oh well. The meals are different enough that it won't matter. Stay tuned for those freezer meals recipes from my freezer meal swap - I know I can't wait to try them.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Easy Shepherd's Pie

I adapted this recipe from the "Cottage Pie" recipe at Eat at Home. It's a great easy shepherd's pie that you can have on the table in under 30 minutes. My kids all loved it (putting cheese on top helped out with that).

Easy Shepherd's Pie

1 lb ground beef
1 cup chopped onions (I used frozen chopped onions)
1 jar Heinz Home Style Savory Beef Gravy
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
dash of dried sage
salt and pepper
1/2 - 1
2 cups instant mashed potato flakes
1/2 - 1 cup shredded cheese, optional*

Prepare instant mashed potato flakes according to package directions with the right amount of water, butter, milk, etc. (I used the Hungry Jack mashed potato flakes directions for 6 servings: 2 cups potato flakes, 1 3/4 cups water, 3 tablespoons butter, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1 cup milk.) Set aside.

Brown ground beef with onion. Add gravy, thyme, sage, salt and pepper, and frozen peas to the meat. Heat through and pour into a casserole or 8x11 baking dish. Top with prepared mashed potatoes using a butter knife to spread potatoes over the meat and evenly as possible. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Sprinkle with shredded cheese and allow to cook another couple minutes to melt cheese.

*If you leave out the cheese just dot the top of the mashed potatoes with butter and sprinkle with paprika before baking.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Crockpot Navy Bean and Ham Soup

Recently we ate at Marie Callender's and I had their super yummy navy bean soup (it's the Saturday soup of the day) and cornbread. I've been wanting to recreate that meal ever since I had it. SO. I looked at a bunch of different recipes on the internet and combined the ingredients I thought would make it taste most like Marie Callender's and also I wanted it to work in the crockpot. So here's what I came up with and guess what?? It totally tasted like the Marie Callendar navy bean soup. Awesome result. And it's a great healthy meal that my family enjoyed.

Crockpot Navy Bean and Ham Soup

1 lb. navy beans
3 cans low sodium chicken broth
1, 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, with juices
4 tablespoons dried chopped onion
2 large carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1/2 teaspoon crushed bay leaves
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
2 ham hocks/slices of ham shanks
1 1/2 cups diced ham (I used a 12 oz package Hormel diced ham)
3 tablespoons Carnet Foods Ultra Gel (optional)

In a large pot soak beans overnight in water making sure that beans are covered by at least 3 inches of water.

Drain and rinse beans. Put in rinsed beans in crockpot. Add chicken broth, diced tomatoes with juices, dried onion, carrots, celery, bay leaves, garlic powder and cider vinegar. Stir. Add ham hocks and ham and stir. Cook on high for 7-8 hours. Remove ham hocks and discard. Whisk in Ultra Gel if desired. Remove about 1 1/2 cups of the soup and blend in a blender. Add back to the soup in crockpot to thicken. Salt and pepper to taste. It may not need any salt at all. Serve with corn bread.

Italian Chicken Crockpot Kit (Freezer Meal)

This is the freezer meal that I contributed last month at my freezer meal swap. My family really loves the Italian chicken and it worked out great as a freezer meal. Yay!

Italian Chicken Crockpot Kit (Freezer Meal)

5 frozen chicken breasts
1 can cream of chicken soup
1, 8 oz package of cream cheese
1 envelope Italian dressing mix

Assembly Instructions
Place chicken breasts into a gallon size bag. Heat block of cream cheese in a large microwave safe bowl for 30 seconds in microwave. Combine cream cheese, cream of chicken soup, and Italian dressing mix with an electric hand beater until smoth. Scoop cream cheese mixture into a quart size bag. Put chicken bag and cream cheese mixture bag into a larger ziplock and label with cooking instructions. Freeze.

Heating Instructions
Place chicken (thawed or frozen) into crockpot. Run cream cheese bag under warm water until it loosens up a little and then pour over chicken. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4-6 hours. Break up chicken with a spatula and thin out sauce if needed with milk or chicken broth. Heat through and serve over vermicelli pasta, other noodles, or rice. (I always serve it over vermicelli.)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Chicken Fajitas (Freezer Meal)

First off, I am sorry for the lack of picture!! What a horrible food blogger I am!! I will be sure to get a picture of these the next time I make them. Second, this is a meal from my freezer meal swap and it was super good. Thanks R.!! My kids ate it up and didn't even seem to notice the peppers and onions lurking on the inside of their "chicken tacos".

Chicken Fajitas (Freezer Meal)

1 1/2 lbs chicken, cut into thin strips
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 packet fajita seasoning mix (can make own with recipe below)
14 oz pkg. frozen fajita vegetable blend
1/2 tablespoon freeze-dried chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons
flour tortillas

Toppings for serving:
shredded cheese
sour cream

Homemade Fajita Seasoning:
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Combine chicken, olive oil, and fajita seasoning mix in a bowl and pour into a freezer bag. Put the fajita vegetables into a separate freezer bag and pour in the lime juice and freeze-dried cilantro. Tortillas go into another freezer bag.  (You can also freeze the shredded cheese and guacamole.) Place all of these bags into a large ziplock and freeze with heating instructions.

Heating Instructions:
Thaw chicken bag, tortillas (and shredded cheese and guacamole if you froze these toppings) overnight in refrigerator. Keep the fajita vegetables bag frozen.

Saute thawed chicken in a large skillet over medium-high heat until almost cooked through. Add contents of frozen fajita vegetables bag and cook until vegetables are tender and chicken is cooked through. Serve in heated tortillas with shredded cheese, salsa, sour cream and guacamole or toppings of your choice.

Raised Doughnuts

This was the first time I've made homemade doughnuts. I was worried about the whole hot oil thing, but it turned out fine. (Man those suckers are hot when they come out of that oil though - watch out!) And the doughnuts turned out great!! I got the recipe from Real Mom Kitchen. I think I still have some adjusting to do with the frosting/glaze recipe, I think a chocolate glaze would be wonderful. Will I make these all the time? Probably not. They are a little labor intensive. But they were good and once a year around Halloween time sounds like a fun tradition. Other times when we want doughnuts I think I'll hit Krispie Kreme.:)

Raised Doughnuts

5 cups flour (plus 1/4 cup for high altitude)
1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 1/2 teaspoons yeast (2 packets or SAF)
1 3/4 cups very warm milk (I microwaved cold milk for 1 minute)
1/3 cup shortening (softened a little in microwave)
2 eggs
vegetable oil

In a stand mixer with a dough hook combine flour, sugar, salt, and yeast. Mix a little to combine. Add milk, shortening, and eggs. Beat on low for 1 minute. Scrap down sides of bowl and beat on medium speed for 1 minute, scrap bowl frequently. Grease a large bowl. Turn dough into the greased bowl. Cover with a damp cloth and allow to rise for 1 hour. (Dough will be ready when an indentation remains when touched).

Generously flour a large surface, turn out dough onto floured surface and roll around lightly to coat with flour. Flatten dough with hands or with a rolling pin into a 1/2" thickness. Cut floured dough with a 3" doughnut cutter (I used a glass that was 3" across and cut out holes with an empty and capless salt shaker - you can improvise with anything). Push together scraps and gently knead 2-3 times. Flatten dough again and cut with doughnut cutter. Repeat until all dough is used. Place cut out dough onto greased cookie sheets and cover loosely with non-stick sprayed plastic wrap or a damp cloth. Allow to rise for 30-40 minutes or until doubled.

Heat 1 1/2 - 2 inches of oil in a dutch oven to 350 degrees. Slide doughnuts into hot oil with a wide spatula. Fry about 1 minute on each side until golden brown. Remove carefully from oil; drain on paper towels. Roll dough nuts in sugar, cinnamon sugar, or dip the tops in glaze (recipe below).

White Doughnut Glaze:
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 tablespoons cream (more or less)

Combine all of the ingredients into a bowl with a fork. If the glaze is too thin add more powdered sugar. If the glaze is too thick, stir in a little milk or cream.

Pumpkin Sheet Cake

I just keep on making pumpkin treats! Oh how I love Fall. This one is from Eat at Home and it was so yummy. I took the cheater way out and used a tub of cream cheese frosting, but next time I'll try the homemade frosting suggested.

Pumpkin Sheet Cake

15 oz can pumpkin
2 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups flour (+ 1/4 cup for high altitude)
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a mixing bowl, beat the pumpkin, sugar, and oil. Add eggs and mix well. Combine dry ingredients and add to the pumpkin mixture, beating until well blended. Pour into a greased 10x15 jelly roll pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees.

Cool cake completely and then frost with cream cheese frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting:
5 tablespoons butter, softened
3 oz cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cup powdered sugar
3-4 tablespoons milk

Beat the butter and cream cheese together. Add the vanilla and blend till smooth. Gradually add the powdered sugar and mix well. Add the milk a little bit at a time until you get it to a nice spreadable consistency. Spread on cooled cake.