A Break and Easy Chili

I took a break. I had intended for it to be a short break that only lasted a few days. A few days turned into a few weeks.

Homeschooling is no joke.

Actually, let me backtrack. My children are in a blended program which means they attend school two days a week and their curriculum follows the local schools, but the other five days a week they are home and I am in charge of making sure all their schoolwork/testing is completed and answering any questions that may arise. Even though I’m not making up the entire lessons, it is still a chore. It’s a learning process for sure.

Also, I became really focused on monetizing the blog. I started this little blog/journey years ago as I love to write and I like to pretend to know how to cook. I’m not sure I do either particularly well, but they are a great way for me to unwind and let go of stress. When I rebooted my blog, I joined a few Facebook groups and the members were very focused on numbers, traffic, monetizing, etc. I got a little too wrapped up in that mindset and got burned out extremely quickly. I needed to take a step back and remember this blog is about my kitchen experiences. It is for me and my friends that choose to follow. Anyone else that wants to stop by, read about the craziness, and use the recipes are welcome and I enjoy having the guests, but if this blog only has ten readers per post, that is okay as well.

So now that all of that is out of the way, let’s get to the food!

My husband and I are HUGE NCAA football fans (ROLL TIDE!) and one of our “traditions” is to make a big pot of soup, stew, or chili on game nights. Unfortunately, we were camping when Alabama played their first game, so we settled for making our regular pot of chili when Tennessee played this past Monday. (On a side note, GO VOLS!- I grew up in a family of TN fans)

The beauty of this chili is that it is SUPER versatile! You can add or subtract anything and it still works! I’ve made it with and without beans. I’ve made it without the tomato sauce. I’ve made it with a lot more chili powder. I’ve made it with and without cheese. It is just so. incredibly. simple.

I’m including the recipe I used Monday. If you change it up, post below and let me know how you made it! I’m always up for trying new things! ūüėČ

To begin, I diced a medium sized onion and a medium sized green bell pepper. I threw them into a large pan with a pound of ground beef and let it brown.

I drained the fat and then added the following into the meat mixture:

  • one can of tomato sauce
  • one can of petite diced tomatoes
  • two cans of chili beans (pintos) *I like to add one medium and one mild can*

I mixed the canned products in thoroughly and then added in the chili powder and garlic powder.

 

I made sure the spices were also mixed in well and added the lid to the pan, turned to simmer, set the timer to twenty minutes, and relaxed. An occasional stir here and there and we had a fantastic dinner.

Easy. Fast. Yummy.

Does it get any better?

Print Recipe
Easy Chili
This simple recipe is great for those cold fall nights. It's very easy to change up and make it fit your diet and/or personal taste. Hope you enjoy! *This is not a spicy recipe at all as my children do not like spicy foods. I just want to make sure that if you are wanting a "kick", you know to add some spice! ūüėČ
Course Main Dish
Prep Time 15 Minutes
Cook Time 10 Minutes
Passive Time 20 Minutes
Servings
People
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Prep Time 15 Minutes
Cook Time 10 Minutes
Passive Time 20 Minutes
Servings
People
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Brown ground beef, onion, and bell pepper in a large pan. (Drain fat)
  2. Once browned and drained, add in tomato sauce, tomatoes, and beans.
  3. Add chili powder and garlic powder and stir well.
  4. Place lid on the pan and turn the stove eye (or burner... whatever you prefer to call it) down to simmer.
  5. Let simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. After 20 minutes, remove lid and serve topped with cheese. Enjoy!
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Cumin, Where Art Thou?

It’s taco night! Nope, just kidding.

This was the quote that sent rage through my house. My kids went straight from pleasant to demonic and it just so happens my husband was out of town. They don’t handle change very well anyhow, but when you take away their taco dreams and they are already hangry. No, just no.

Obviously, my minions are taco FANATICS. I make my tacos with a homemade seasoning mix to go into the ground beef. I also add in refried beans and my kids love it. They don’t even realize they are eating the beans, but it’s my secret way of stretching the taco filling and getting some sort of extra protein into their tummies.

The reason my dinner plans changed? As soon as I started rummaging through my spice cabinet, I realized I was missing cumin. At this moment, cumin and I are NOT on good terms.

I had to figure out something to feed the kids so I made Cheeseburger Macaroni. I don’t know if it’s an actual recipe I got somewhere or not, so I’ll improvise and type something up below. I usually make this when I have no plans and need something quick.

Here are the necessary ingredients:

I started by boiling the macaroni noodles. I didn’t/don’t have a measurement for this. I have always cooked the entire box and my husband takes any leftovers to work for lunch for a few days.

While the noodles were boiling, I browned the ground beef and onion together in a skillet on medium/high heat. 

Once the noodles were soft and the meat properly browned, I drained both and combined them in a large pot. On a side note, make sure the pot is LARGE. If not, this happens:

I could barely move the spoon. I ended up needing to move the mixture to a large skillet, but that was almost too small as well. ¬†Next time I prepare Cheeseburger Macaroni, I will make sure my big pots are clean….

The cheese mixture needed to be watched and stirred constantly. For this reason alone, I always do the sauce last. First, I warmed up a 1/2 cup of milk on the stove until it was right at boiling (I also threw in a big pinch of salt and pepper).

Next, I mixed in a (generous) cup of shredded sharp cheddar cheese. It is very important that the cup of cheese is put into the milk in 3 or 4 handfuls. After throwing in a “handful”, ¬†I whisked the cheese until it was completely melted before adding the next handful.

If you throw all the cheese in at once, it tends to clump (I know this from experience!) Also, it’s gross to get a big clump of cheese in your meal!

Once the cheese sauce was fully melted, I poured it over the noodle and meat mixture and stirred until combined.

I mixed it on the stove top eye that I was using to cook the food. It was turned off at that point, but it was still warm so it helped the sauce mix in better and kept everything hot. If you do the same, just be careful that it doesn’t burn!

Here it is! My two big kids ate it and my youngest complained. She’s a threenager so her judgement is skewed.

Print Recipe
Cheeseburger Macaroni
Course Main Dish
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
people
Course Main Dish
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
people
Recipe Notes
  1. Bring LARGE pot of water to a boil and add macaroni noodles.
  2. While water is boiling, brown ground beef and onion in a separate skillet.
  3. Drain water and meat/onion mixture and combine in large pot.
  4. Bring milk to a boil and turn heat down to medium.
  5. Add in cheese one handful at a time and stir until melted before adding next handful.
  6. Once cheese sauce is melted completely, pour over meat and noodle mixture and mix well.
  7. Serve and enjoy.
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Archives- It’s Not Pretty, but it’s Edible

Original post- June 22, 2013

Yesterday was just one of those days. I managed to remember to pull out food the night before to thaw for dinner last night and tonight, but that was the extent of what went right. My day started off bad as I woke up late and I ran out of muffins for the kids (hence yesterday’s muffin post). Then my daughter started complaining she felt sick and then I fell asleep due to some new medicine I have been taking. This does relate…I promise.

The recipe we used last night was called Sloppy Tamale Pie. I was really excited about this one for some reason so I had plans for a great dinner last night. This recipe said the Tamale Pie¬†had to sit on the stove and simmer for 3-4 hours. When I woke up from my impromptu nap, it was 5:30. Um…crap! I sent the kids outside to play while I figured out how to fix the situation. I figured that I could just dump the sloppy joe style meat into a skillet on med-high and it would warm up faster. Okay, saying medium-high is a little generous, I put it on high for a little while, but it got the job done. Five minutes after I sent my children outside they come in screaming. An overzealous wasp attacked them both and I was tending to a throbbing leg and a puffy eye (yes, the wasp got my son’s eyelid). I spent the next 30 minutes wrestling him and holding ice on his eye while my daughter whined that her leg was cold. Needless to say, I forgot all about my skillet and the food. I went back to check and of course the food was boiling like crazy and splattering everywhere. It was also burned to the edges of the skillet. I shrugged and figured it was at least warm enough to eat.

I failed to remember that the Tamale Pie is to be served over cornbread during the wasp drama and didn’t realize it until suppertime. At this point, I was as grouchy as my kids were. I put toast in the toaster and made a quick box of mac and cheese. I put the meat creation on the top of the toast and served it. It definitely wasn’t pretty to look at.¬†My daughter decided a sandwich was “cooler” and begged for another piece of bread. I complied hoping she would eat her food. She did, thank goodness,¬†but my son scraped all the meat off his toast and ate the toast alone. He did however inform¬†me the toast was good. My husband and I very much enjoyed this meal. It was very tasty! I hope that the¬†next time I can¬†actually make it correctly, but at least nothing went to waste.

I’m including the recipe and website below. I decided to go ahead and include the cornbread recipe I use as well. I haven’t¬†had complaints on it yet so I refer to it as my idiot-proof recipe.

Happy Cooking!

Sloppy Tamale Pie
from the website- http://www.allergyfreecooking.net/sloppy-tamale-pie/

1.5 lbs Ground beef
1 carrot, shredded
1 zucchini, shredded or finely diced
1 onion chopped
1 bell pepper finely chopped
2 cups frozen corn
1 can whole olives (sliced ‚Äď buy them whole then slice them yourself)
1 packet taco seasoning
2- 15 oz cans tomato sauce

Brown ground beef, carrot, zucchini, onion and bell pepper until done. Drain and cool. Add to a gallon zip lock bag with remaining ingredients. Freeze. Thaw and cook in crock pot on low for 5-6 hours or high 3-4 hours. Serve ‚Äúsloppy joe style‚ÄĚ over cornbread.

**Note: We did not use olives in ours and we split this into two separate Zip lock bags!**

Idiot-Proof Cornbread (a.k.a. Southern Cornbread)
from the backside of Martha White Cornmeal bags

Cooking spray
1 1/3 cups milk (or 1 3/4 cups buttermilk)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cups self-rising enriched white corn meal mix

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Coat 8 or 9 inch pan skillet or baking pan with no-stick cooking spray. Place skillet or pan in oven 7-8 minutes or until hot. Beat egg in medium bowl. Stir in milk, oil and corn meal mix until smooth. Batter should be creamy and pourable. If too thick, add 1 to 2 tablespoons more milk. Pour into prepared skillet or pan. Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Makes 8 servings.
**Note: I use the 9 inch round pan. The 8 X 8- inch pan¬†makes cornbread that’s a little thicker than we like. **

Archives- Bell Pepper DISASTER

Original post- June 20, 2013

Last night we tried stuffed bell peppers for dinner. It was not good.¬†Actually, that is an understatement. It¬†was horrible.¬†I had picked through several recipes on the Internet and never found one that I really liked. The¬†one that I¬†used was a combination of ingredients I pulled from different recipes. As an inexperienced cook, this was probably¬†a huge¬†misstep on my part. I was a little ahead of myself in thinking I could handle making up a recipe on my own. It didn’t really seem that complicated, but I guess I should have paid more attention to the ingredients list and I would have seen that the seasoning just was not there.¬†Here’s a little description of how the night went and I’ll post the horrid recipe if anyone wants to eat the most bland food they have ever tasted. We will be trying again in the future because I still have¬†three stuffed peppers¬†in the freezer¬†and I refuse to waste food. Next time, I will be pulling the stuffing out of the¬†peppers¬†and remixing it with a lot of spices¬†before re-stuffing the peppers and cooking them.

It all started yesterday morning when I realized I forgot to pull out a freezer meal to thaw overnight. All of the meals are pretty much hands free, but you have to let them thaw overnight before putting them into the crock-pot or before cooking them in casserole dishes. Because of my forgetfulness, I had to cook whichever one I thought could withstand being thawed out the day of cooking. I knew I could bake the stuffed bell peppers rather than¬†using the crock-pot,¬†so I pulled them out of the freezer¬†and¬†threw them into the fridge before running out the door. I got back home several hours later and at 6PM I decided to put the peppers in the oven. I baked the peppers at¬†350 degrees¬†and tested them after 30 minutes. They were warm, but I felt they could probably use a little more cook time. I shoved them back into the oven and baked them for another 20 minutes while I made mashed potatoes per the kids’ requests.

The second time I checked them, they seemed done. The pepper “shell” seemed soft enough to cut and when I tried to test the stuffing with my finger it was too hot to touch. We cut the peppers up and got started. I ate the potatoes first so the look on my kids’ faces was the first clue that something was wrong. They don’t like a lot of the things I cook though so I wasn’t very concerned with the fact that they both had their tongues stuck out and were whining. My husband, the man that¬†ate those military issued bag meals for 13 months overseas and will eat anything, took a few bites and kind of made a face. He smiled politely and I knew he didn’t care much for it either.¬†I was curious now so I took a bite. I think I spit it out. It was AWFUL! There was no taste. It was like eating cardboard. To make it worse, the texture was horrible.

I gave it a few seconds and pushed my plate away. I declared a fast food night and the entire room breathed a¬†very audible¬†sigh of relief. My two year old¬†popped up and said, “That food is nasssssy (nasty) Mommy!” Unfortunately, he spoke the truth! My six year old patted my shoulder and said, “It’s okay Mommy, we still think you cook other stuff good.” Sheesh…

Tomorrow I will be posting on breakfast food instead of dinner, but I’ll be back to¬†freezer dinners¬†by Friday! ūüôā

Stay tuned and Happy Cooking!

With a little work, I’m sure this recipe would be delicious. The following should only be considered a “base” recipe. Fix it as you see fit!
Stuffed Bell Peppers
6 bell peppers (cut off the tops and remove the seeds)
1 lb hamburger meat
2 cups of rice
1 small onion
2 tsp oregano (I used dried)
2 tsp thyme (I used dried)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
small can of tomato paste (8 oz)

Cook the rice and meat. Dice the onion. Dice the tops of the peppers (cut around the stem). Mix all of the ingredients together and stuff the peppers. From here, you can wrap in aluminum foil and freeze in a Ziploc bag or you can cook them. For cooking- Cook the peppers on 350 degrees for 50 minutes. Check to see if they peppers are soft. If so, serve. If not, try cooking a little longer until the peppers are soft. If you freeze them, let them thaw overnight, and cook on low for 6 hours in a crock-pot OR try the oven option above.

Archives- It’s Beef…I Promise!

Original post- June 19, 2013

Last night we had our first freezer meal from the shopping trip and the weekend from Hades that it took to prepare it all. It was so nice to let something thaw overnight and the next morning just throw it into the crock-pot and let it cook all day. The hardest thing I did was prepare rice and steam a few cups of sweet green peas for a side. I also made drop biscuits on the side. Actually, I just measured the ingredients and my six year old made drop biscuits. Not surprisingly, her biscuits were much prettier than mine and she managed to make 12 large biscuits from a recipe that claimed to only make nine. My child obviously has cooking skills! (She DID NOT get that from me!)

This recipe was called Pork & Veggies and I got it from a website for freezer cooking. I included the link with the recipe below.¬†This is one of the several websites I used and I LOVE some of the website owner’s recipes. I altered this one a bit to match our tastes, but I can’t go without giving credit where it is due!

I honestly was expecting this one to turn out with a soup type consistency. I’m not sure why I assumed this as there is not much liquid in it to begin with. The consistency reminded me of a stir-fry once it was finished. When paired with the rice, it pretty much resembles a stir-fry in consistency. The taste is not like a stir-fry, but it¬†is¬†very good.

I thought this was going to be an absolute “Family Favorite”, but my kids proved me wrong. Here is a sample of last night’s dinner conversation:

Andrea: Mommy, was is this?
Me: It’s beef.
Andrea: It doesn’t look like beef! (frowns disapprovingly and pokes her food with a fork)
Jake: It’s CHICKEN! (He’s two so everything is chicken for him!)
Andrea: It’s not good. I’m not hungry. It’s something nasty.
Me: It’s beef! I promise!

Andrea finally tried her food about thirty minutes later and said it was okay. The kids did, however, eat their rice. I guess starch rules supreme in our house! Even though the kids disapproved, Russ and I really enjoyed the meal and he took leftovers today for work. I even split this recipe¬†into two separate freezer bags and had leftovers from just one bag¬†so I was pleasantly surprised. I’m very happy we get to try this¬†recipe again over the next month. I’m sure my kids will be¬†thrilled¬†as well!

In the recipe below, I will write the original recipe ingredients I left out in parentheses. That way, if you want the stuff we took out included, you will have the instructions for it! Also, I’m fully aware the recipe says pork roast below. I accidently grabbed a¬†rump¬†roast at the store so that’s the reason for the mix-up!

Happy cooking!

Pork & Veggies
(from http://www.lovingmynest.com/learning-activities/cooking/freezer-crock-pot-recipes/)
1 lb Pork Roast, cut into 1/2 inch strips
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, slicked
4 carrots, sliced
(1/2 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced)
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1.5 T apple cider vinegar
1 t salt
2 t Worcestershire Sauce

Combine ingredients in a large zip top bag, freeze. Thaw contents of bag and place in a slow cooker. Cook on low 6-8 hours. Serve over hot rice. Serves approximately 5-6 people.

Archives- Spaghetti and Roast

Original post- June 12, 2013

Don’t be scared of the title. I didn’t have Spaghetti and Roast together. I just couldn’t think of a catchy title so I was straightforward! I’m going to start up on recipes again and a review of all of the freezer meals. We have yet to begin the freezer meals so I’m just going to talk about my nightly¬†cooking right now.

Sunday night I was busy with prepping the freezer meals. I was on day two and a prisoner in my own kitchen. I felt like I was trying to claw my way out of a hole. I severely underestimated how disorganized I was with the freezer meals. I’m usually a stickler for being organized! Either way, I had to try and get all of the meat into the freezer, but I just couldn’t seem to be gaining any ground. Around 6 PM or so I got frustrated and needed a break from cooking and freezing. I decided cooking and eating would be a good idea. My family thought so too since they had been smelling random food I was cooking all day and then getting their hands slapped when they tried to eat any of it. I grabbed a little of the raw ground beef from my “going to the freezer” stash and boiled some noodles. I had grabbed¬†two baguettes at Sam’s Club because they were pretty cheap and bread is a staple in this house. (Also, I use it as bribery for my kids. If they¬†eat their food, they get bread.¬†I’m not afraid to admit that one bit!) I took one of the baguettes out of the bag, sliced it vertically and then again horizontally so that I had four (very large) pieces of bread. I lightly buttered them and threw them in the oven. I was too exhausted to bother with making a salad. I used the Baine sauce (I posted the recipe in a “spaghetti”¬†blog earlier this year) and it was a hit. I’m not really surprised that the spaghetti nights go over so well. They usually do anyway.¬†Normally I¬†make a ton of food¬†and we have leftovers, but I realized the leftovers were regularly¬†going to waste so I have drastically cut down on how much I cook each night.

Yesterday, around noon, I remembered I had a roast in the fridge to cook. I was in a much better mood because I didn’t have any freezer¬†cooking left. I still need to do all the baking, but I figure that will be my goal for this weekend. I wouldn’t mind having my husband here to keep the kids occupied while I’m trying to measure, sift, bake, etc. Anyhow, I got the crock-pot prepped and pulled out my trusty Better Homes & Gardens cookbook and got started. I decided while shopping Sunday evening that I was not going to purchase any pre-cut vegetables because I was trying to cut cost as much as possible. This was going to severely alter my prep time,¬†but I wasn’t too worried as I had plenty of time before the roast¬†absolutely¬†had to be started. If you’ve read this blog in the past, you realize that I have a hatred for prep times. They’re¬†completely¬†unreasonable! Anyway, I got to work washing the potatoes, celery, and carrots and peeling the top few layers off the onion. I went to dry off my celery because chopping a wet vegetable with a very sharp object with wet hands is just¬†asking for trouble.

Problem number 1: I have no paper towels left after my freezer frenzy on Sunday. Crap! Then I remember I just restocked the drawer in the kitchen with hand towels. Crisis diverted! I dried everything off and reached for the cutting board, my knife and my peeler.

Problems number 2, 3, and 4: They were all in the sink or dishwasher and were also victims to my freezer frenzy. Oh and who forgot to start the dishwasher the day before? This girl… Figures. I decide to search for my paring knife that disappeared over a year ago. I’ve looked for this thing countless times and blamed my husband every time for losing it. By the grace of God, that sucker popped up in the same place I always look.¬†I grabbed it and started peeling.¬†(Which by the way, the only thing I could think the whole time was how I was going to explain to Russ how I found the knife and tell him he was right…)

It took forever to peel and chop all the veggies, but I eventually got all of them and the roast and the “sauce” recipe started. For some reason I decided to put an extra 1/4 cup of water into the crock pot. I have never done this before, but I’ve thought about it many times in the past.¬†¬†After last night, I will forever use that extra water. The roast was the most tender it has ever been. Russ and the kids raved about it and gobbled it up. I also made enough vegetables that I didn’t need a side dish. Russ baked the second baguette the same way as I did Sunday night and we all had plenty to eat.

Tonight we are having BBQ stuffed baked potatoes. I will post more about it tomorrow.

Happy Cooking!

I want to stress that the following recipe¬†came from the 14th Edition of the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. I don’t know how all the copyright type stuff works with recipes, but I’m going to be careful about it either way.

Beef Pot Roast
1-2 1/2  to 3 lb boneless beef chuck pot roast
4 medium baking potatoes (or sweet potatoes) OR 1 lb tiny new potatoes
1 lb carrots or 6 mdm parsnips, peeled and cut into 2 in pieces
2 small onions, cut into wedges (I just always use one medium to large sized one)
2 stalks celery, bias-sliced into 1 inch pieces
3/4 cup of water (I personally used 1 Cup and noticed a big difference in the tenderness of the roast)
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 t instant beef bouillon granules
1 t dried, crushed basil
1/2 t salt

Trim fat from meat.  Place vegetables in a 4 1/2 or 5-quart slow cooker. Cut meat to fit, if necessary; place on top of vegetables. Combine the water, Worcestershire sauce, bouillon granules, basil and salt. Add to cooker. Cover and cook on low-heat setting 9-11 hours or on high-heat setting for 4.5-5.5 hours. Serve. (There are also oven directions and a gravy, but the recipe above is the way my family likes it.)

Archives- Baked Spaghetti

Original Post- March 23, 2013

Spaghetti is spaghetti is spaghetti…right? I mean, it’s pretty hard to mess up something as simple as spaghetti. I’ve had my fair share of mishaps, though. My friend Christina lived with me for a¬†couple of¬†months when Russ was overseas. I have no idea what we ate those two months we lived together, but it couldn’t have been decent considering the only meal I remember was spaghetti and when I pulled the spoon out, all the noodles came with it. Reminiscing aside, I’ve learned a little (thank goodness) since that tiny duplex we shared, and now spaghetti is¬†a staple in my house. I think the reason it continues to be¬†so popular is¬†because¬†spaghetti is the only meal that both of my children will eat without complaint. It does not matter which version I make (I like to switch it up occasionally), they still eat it. My regular version just wasn’t doing the job of stretching our money like I was wanting to do, so I started making baked spaghetti.

My family has this certain sauce everyone uses. I’ve never heard anyone say it was a secret so I have no issue giving it out. It’s certainly cheaper than Ragu, Prego, or all those sauces, but you have to work with it to get the taste you really want. Plus, it’s probably really bad for you, but…well…I don’t care. ¬†It is as follows:

  • one can of tomato sauce (14.5 oz)
  • a big dollop of ketchup- probably an 1/8 of a cup…maybe?
  • dried onion flakes, basil, oregano, thyme, whatever you want to add.

Seriously, that is it. It’s pretty good too. If you tend to use more than one pound of meat, I would suggest using one large can of tomato sauce and one small can. Sometimes I do use a ready made sauce, but the homemade is cheaper and everyone just eats it so much better!

Okay, now on to baked spaghetti. We love this meal because it is a 2-nighter. I make this with a salad on the side and occasionally a bread of some sort. We have the exact same thing the next night too and it is enough to feed all of us just fine. It’s a LOT of food, so if you have a small family and do not like leftovers, skip this recipe. I hope that you enjoy it as much as we do!

Baked Spaghetti

  • 5 lb hamburger meat
  • one box of spaghetti noodles (1 lb pkg)
  • 1 can of Ragu, Prego, or the Baine sauce recipe above

Preheat the oven to 350. Cook the noodles and sauce as you normally would for spaghetti. Once the noodles are al-dente, drain and pour back into pan. Mix finished spaghetti meat together with the noodles and spread into a 9 X 13 baking dish. Cover with shredded cheddar cheese and put into the oven for 15 minutes. Serve. Should make 6-8 servings. Serve with salad and bread to pull it to a 2 day meal. (Our salads usually have one chopped bell pepper, one chopped tomato, one or two chopped carrots, and some sort of cheese with very little dressing.)

Happy Cooking! ūüôā

Archives- Barbie Bake… Or Something Like That

Original Post- March 1, 2012

I’m way behind on posting. I made this meal¬†last Friday night. I’ve been busy though. Oh and this time I’m not doing a new meal every night. I’m only doing a new one twice a week or so (if it¬†wasn’t obvious already). I am trying to cook every night though and have messed up one night. We got home that particular night at 7:30 PM so I don’t feel too bad about eating out.

Last week, I decided to look through my mom’s cookbooks. I’ve gotta say, I love technology. With a computer you just type in what you have or what you’re thinking about making and a list of recipes pops up. I sat and looked at those stupid cookbooks for an hour and a half just trying to find something that sounded appetizing. I finally found three that I liked. The first one I wanted to try was called Bar-Be-Bake. After reassuring my child ¬†(and husband for that matter) I wasn’t going to bake one of her poor unsuspecting Barbies, we got started.

When you make this meal, you have to flatten and press biscuit dough in muffin tins. Two things:

  1.  Four year olds are FANTASTIC at this. Andrea loves to squish the bread before we get out of the supermarket (purposely) so squishing this was like a game for her.
  2. Use the jumbo muffin tins. The one that only has six “holes”. Seriously. It looked like a bunch of biscuit explosions in my oven.

After Andrea shoved all the biscuits into the muffin forms, I let her measure, pour and stir all the ingredients. This was quite possibly the easiest dinner I’ve ever made. She did every bit of it except put it into the oven.

When we pulled it out of the oven, it wasn’t pretty. Not even remotely. Russ said it looked like someone threw up on a biscuit if you want me to be completely honest. All of us just kind of looked at these biscuit, meat mountains on our plates and there was a silent dread at having to taste these. Andrea took the first bite. She said the meat was gross, dumped and scraped it off, and ate the biscuits. Figures…. I tried mine and it was surprisingly fantastic. Russ ended up really liking his also. ¬†Jake ate the biscuit part more than the meat too. What in the world is it with my children and bread products? It’s like a moth to a flame.

Anyhow, they are extremely filling and we had leftovers. I couldn’t bring myself to heat them up again so they went to waste. They’re just so ugly. I’m thinking that the next time we make these,¬†it will be in the big muffin tins so that they will look a little more appetizing…hopefully.

Bar-Be-Bake
Flatten and press canned biscuit dough in muffin tins to outline cups. Brown hamburger lightly. Add 2 T chopped onions, 2 T brown sugar, and 1/2 C barbecue sauce. Salt to taste. Fill cups; sprinkle with grated cheese. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.
Sorry, no nutritional information for this one. It was from a little church fundraiser cookbook. ūüôā

Archives- Losing a Little Wisdom

Original Post- February 24, 2012

When you make a decision to re-do all your eating habits, you should consult your schedule first. I had an appointment to get one of my wisdom teeth pulled yesterday. I’ve never had a problem with having a tooth pulled, but for some reason this one knocked me on my butt. Last night, I could have easily gotten the kids some fast food and all, but Russ volunteered to cook. Here’s a brief run through of what I remember between the fog of a caffeine migraine and a throbbing mouth that would not stop bleeding:

Russ got home at 8:20ish. Um, yeah…my kids eat between 6:30 and 7 (usually) and I think that’s late as it is. But 8:20? Considering they go to bed at 8:30 on a normal night, I wasn’t sure exactly what Russ planned on making. I had some meatballs from my freezer meals that he¬†decided to use. He grabbed the bag and¬†popped some of the meatballs into the microwave. I originally made enough for three meals. He used half the bag last night. So now I have enough for one more meal. Grrr…

I had intended for him to cook the meatballs and make a sauce to put on them and prepare some vegetables as side dishes. I figured that was easy enough and we had recently had spaghetti anyway so I didn’t think they would want it again so soon.

I walked in to find him wiping out a pot.

Me: What are you doing?
R: Go sit down. You are supposed to be resting. You used this pot last night for angel hair, right? (as you can tell I hadn’t done the big dishes yet..)
M: Um..yeah. And?
R: I’m going to make spaghetti tonight with angel hair pasta.
M: (As I show disgust at the idea of not washing the pot) I kinda want them in bed sometime tonight ya know…
R: It will be quick I promise…Go sit down. I got this. Oh and by the way, this reminds me of when we got married. The only thing you cooked was spaghetti and I had to show you how. (laughs hysterically)

The laughing hyena got a VERY dirty look.

5 minutes later
R: (from the kitchen, yelling) What is this?
M: (aggravated at having to yell back) WHAT?
R: This Prego in the fridge…is it old?
M: What Prego?
R: On the door.
M: Again…what Prego?
Russ proceeds to take it out of the door and bring it to me.
R: This Prego. How old is it?
M: Um, well considering I wasn’t aware I had Prego in the fridge door, ¬†I’m gonna have to assume it’s not a good idea to eat it.

Russ gives me a look and walks out.

This goes on for the next 10 minutes. A question here, a question there, a kid screaming for food, another refusing to eat the meatballs… I’ve never been so happy to see bedtime.

Even though I didn’t eat the meatballs, they were evidently a big hit. I would like to try them with something other than spaghetti sauce and noodles, but I’m just glad Russ made the kids food and let me rest- sort of.

Here is the recipe for freezer meatballs:
Tip: I read on a different website that after the meatballs cool completely, put them on a cookie sheet (or whatever will fit in your freezer) but place them so they are¬†not touching. Leave them in at least 30 minutes. Then take them out and put them in the bag. This way, you can thaw out as many as you want and you don’t get them all stuck together like they would be if frozen in the bag all at one time. It worked great for us!

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients except beef.
  2. Mix in beef well, and shape into meatballs.
  3. Place all on single layer in pan.
  4. Bake 20 minutes at 350.
  5. Remove and drain on paper towels, and let cool 15 minutes.
  6. Put in freezer bag or freezer container or use immediately.

Read more: http://www.food.com/recipe/make-ahead-freezer-meatballs-274047#ixzz1nHDk4oWf

 

Archives- Fat Tuesday- A Bag of Stew, Burned Chicken and a Plan

Original post- February 21, 2012

Oh how I’ve missed my blog. I also fell off the cooking wagon. Between Russ’ school, Andrea’s constant dance/gymnastics/soccer practices, and trying to figure out the¬†ins and outs of a colicky baby, I’m not going to be too hard on myself. Fast food is just too readily accessible. The fact that my house is less than, or right at, a mile from at least 10 fast food¬†joints does not help my situation one bit. I have a plan though. I’ll get to that in a minute…

So I decided to be one of those crazy freezer ladies. The one that goes on a crazy shopping and cooking spree and then stocks up like it’s Armageddon. I’m not savvy with coupons so I didn’t save a lick of money, but I made¬†10 freezer meals for right at a $100 so I’m not going to complain. I would be happy to post all the recipes¬†for you if you like. They will¬†appear over time as we try each meal though.

Monday night rolled around and I came home from work and¬†voila, dinner was ready. I seriously love my¬†crock-pot. It’s my best friend besides Russ (oh and my George Foreman grill). I¬†decided to try out the beef stew from the freezer. I’ve never made it¬†before,¬†but¬†it is definitely going to be a staple. The kids hated it, but Russ and I loved it. I think they were frightened by the fresh colors and the odd shapes of real food.¬†Andrea told me it was yucky, but I was still a good cook. I think she is starting to get the idea that it’s better to not say anything, than to say something that’s not nice. However, she still has that cute four year old innocence that lets her say exactly what’s on her mind. Which will one of these days¬†probably bite¬†me in the butt, but that’s a¬†different blog entirely.

Tonight¬†I¬†was feeling great (and brave) so we went to the grocery store right after our library trip to¬†pick up dinner supplies.¬†Andrea decided on Chicken Parmesan. I got the necessities, sat on the couch to fold clothes, and¬†realized I was exhausted. I think I may have¬†actually fallen asleep briefly while sitting up.¬†Anyhow, I was no longer inspired to cook. I was inspired to waste gas and money and keep filling my sweet kids with toxic goop being passed off as food. Andrea¬†told me I was going to cook. I think I literally stomped into the kitchen (come to think of it….that may be where she learned that trait!).¬†I made chicken Parmesan, sort of. I made a glob of something that looked like angel hair pasta and I burned the chicken terribly. I actually should have butterflied the chicken, but I’m just going to say George and his grill really let me down today. Either way, it turned out edible. Both the kids had a full serving of dinner along with garlic bread sticks and milk and were very pleasant. I even got out sugar cookies and let Andrea go to town cutting the roll of dough with a butter knife and placing them on the baking sheet.

My plan is this: Tomorrow is Lent. I’m not Catholic (my husband is/was), but I have joined my mom and brother for the past couple of¬† years in giving up things. ¬†In the past we gave up:

2010- chocolate… I did pretty well!
2011- Dr.Pepper… I convinced myself drinking Mr.Pibb was not cheating.
2012- fast food completely

To verify (and I’m doing this as a way of holding myself accountable) this means absolutely NO food from fast food chains and no drinks from fast food chains (goodbye Sonic Route 44 Dr.Peppers). I’m hoping this will stop the cycle. I hoping after 40 days of cooking I’m capable of cooking chicken properly and capable of¬†feeding my family (without teaching my children bad habits) in a way that will be healthy and help us all feel better. It’s a lofty goal, but I’m pretty determined when I set my mind to it.

Recipe for Freezer Beef Stew-
Notes: I did not follow this recipe exactly. It was taken from a recipe I found on the internet, but the link is constantly broken so this was the closest I could find. I did not use celery in mine and I used red potatoes to try and be healthier. I used all fresh ingredients, but think the frozen are a good idea and it may be worth it. I also doubled this recipe and made multiple bags. I suggest Ziploc Gallon Freezer bags and DOUBLE bag it. Mine leaked a little once it started freezing. Happy cooking!

Freezer Beef Stew in a Bag

2 small chopped onions
2 cups sliced carrots
2 cups chopped potatoes
1.5 cups chopped green beans (I used frozen in two bags and fresh in another)
1.5 cups diced celery
Whatever other veggies you might like in your stew
2 lbs preferred beef, chopped into large chunks (I had a 7ish lb roast that I split between 3 bags)
3.5 cups beef stock
3 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
¬Ĺ tsp. pepper
¬ľ. tsp. thyme
1 tsp. salt
4 T. flour
1 tsp. garlic
3 tsp. tomato paste

Layer all the meat and veggies into a gallon-size Ziploc freezer bag. The prettier, the better, hehe. Squeeze out as much air as possible. Mix spices, broth, and paste into a bowl and taste test before dumping into the bag as well…adjust according to your tastes. Be sure to label your bags with the date and cooking instructions.

To serve, thaw in the fridge overnight and cook in a crockpot on low for 6-8 hours. You can also do it on the stove on low for about 35-40 minutes, according to Real Mom Kitchen. Just cook until the stew is thick and the veggies are cooked thoroughly. If you like your stew thicker, mix a bit of cornstarch and cold water together, then add to the pot and keep simmering.