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I put this together last night, using ingredients from my pantry. It was very easy and delicious.

6-ingredient Crockpot Stew

2 large pork-chops, cooked and chopped into small pieces

4 potatoes, scrubbed, peeled and chopped

1 pkg. (10 oz)  frozen spinach (you could also used fresh, I just happened to have frozen spinach on hand)

1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes

1 1/2 to 2 cups of beef broth

1 (14 oz) can of chickpeas (or any type of bean will do)

Put the ingredients in the crockpot and stir well to combine. Cook on low for 8 hours. Season to taste with salt and pepper. I didn’t add salt and thought it was just fine. Serve with a crusty bread.

You could also serve this over rice. If you want the soup to have more liquid, simply add more broth. My children really loved it.

If you want to try your hand or spoon at kneadless bread which is seriously so easy that a child could do it, this is the recipe I use.  http://steamykitchen.com/168-no-knead-bread-revisited.html  The column is a little long, but the recipe at the end is more than worth the read. Just remember to plan ahead. You have to start the bread about 24 hours before you want to eat it. Yesterday, after eating dinner with the family, I chopped up the remaining pork chops (minus the bones) and assembled the stew in the crockpot. I put the crockpot in the refrigerator and then mixed up the bread. It took me all of 15 minutes to make the stew and mix up the bread.

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Two new recipes

You are in luck my friends. I created two recipes this weekend that were really great. The first, a cookie recipe, is based off a cookbook recipe, but I have adapted it so much that I consider it my own. It may not be unique, but I think it tastes fabulous. The second recipe, Green Chili Beef Stew, came out of sheer desperation. I had a steak that I needed to use and I needed to make the meal in the crockpot. The chili is very, very mild and I can heartily recommend it. If you try either of these recipes, let me know what you think. I am prone to typos so let  me know if anything seems off.

Chocolate-chip Oatmeal Craisin Cookies

Makes 6 dozen cookies

1 ½ cups white sugar

½ cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 cup butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

3 cups quick-cooking rolled oats

1 cup chocolate chips

1 cup craisins

1 cup flaked coconut

Heat oven to 375 degrees. In large bowl, combine sugar, brown sugar, and butter. Mix well until mixture is light and fluffy. Add vanilla and 2 eggs to mixture. Beat well. Add flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix well. Add oats, chocolate chips, craisins, and flaked coconut and blend well.

Drop cookies by rounded teaspoonfuls on cookie sheet. Bake for 8-12 minutes. Let cool for 1 minute on baking sheet for removing them.

Green Chili Beef Stew

Serves 4-6

1 pound steak, cubed

2 tablespoons flour

Salt

Pepper

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

1 red onion, diced

1 garlic clove

5-6 small red potatoes, cubed

2-3 stalks of celery, chopped

1 can diced green chilies

2 cups beef broth (can use bouillon and 2 cups water)

1 tsp. cumin

In a large Ziploc bag, toss the beef cubes with salt, pepper and flour until cubes are coated. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Brown the beef cubes in the oil. Put the browned beef cubes in a large crock pot. Be sure to scrape up any browned bits on the pan because they add great flavor to the stew. Add the rest of the ingredients, adding salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 6 hours on high.

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And the verdict is. . .

In an effort to work on my cooking goals, I tried something new for me. I  recently subscribed to Everyday Food magazine–a Martha Stewart magazine and found a section that I just love. It has a five day menu complete with a shopping list. I decided to give it a go rating it in three areas: affordability, quality of the recipes, and time-saving.

Affordability

I spent about $70 for five meals that were well-rounded and balanced. I consider that fairly reasonable. I didn’t waste anything and had just what I needed. I had leftovers from each meal, which tells me that I would have had enough for husband, if he were home. Even though each recipe said it served 4, I was able to feed all six of us at home and would have been easily able to feed Brent as well.

Quality of the Recipes

The recipes were interesting in a good way. They were simple to put together, without weird or difficult instructions. My kids enjoyed every meal I made. They disliked the roasted acorn squash, but loved the mustard greens I served the next day. I like learning how to cook a variety of vegetables in different ways. I should have spent more money on a better quality salmon, but still felt satisfied with the meal itself. I also should have added grated ginger to the stir-fry dish. It wasn’t in the recipe, but would have added to the flavor.

I definitely felt like I was expanding my knowledge about cooking methods. I learned a new way to cook fish (steamed with potatoes). I learned how to roast squash and glaze it.

All five recipes were keepers and will be added to my collection of good family meals I can make quickly.

Time-saving

I saved a lot of time doing this. Having a simple checklist at the grocery store made me zip through the store. Shopping is my least favorite part of cooking for my family. This week,  I didn’t feel stressed or concerned about picking up extra items. I just bought what was on my list.

I followed the directions and prepped my meals in about 30 minutes on Monday. It made a big difference in how quickly the meals came together and saved me cleaning time as well.  

So overall, I was very satisfied with the experience. I’m going to the store today with a new list in hand, ready to try out five new recipes. It should be good!

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I outdid myself tonight

So I was feeling uninspired tonight as I faced the prospect of dinner tonight. Usually, I pull food that I have and create something good out of it. I had some good ingredients I wanted to try, but wasn’t sure how to pull them together in a tasty way. Tentatively, I experimented and I am very, very pleased with the results.

Chicken and squash sauce (served over rice)

2 chicken breasts, diced

1/2 red onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1/2 cup to 1 cup frozen chopped butternut squash

1/2 to 1 cup frozen zucchini

basil, oregano, pepper, parsley, salt

1 cube chicken bouillon

milk, water

flour

Saute onion and garlic until tender. Add chicken cubes and cook. When chicken is cooked, add butternut squash and zucchini. Add the bouillon cube and a little water, just enough for the cube to dissolve. Cook for a couple of minutes on medium high. When the squash and zucchini are tender, pour in a large spoonful of flour. Mix the flour into the chicken mixture. Then add enough milk to make a creamy sauce. Add spices to taste.

The result was a creamy sauce with color and flavor that went well with rice. The sweetness and texture of the butternut squash was a real delight to the tastebuds. My kids were totally skeptical when they sat down to dinner and said they would only have rice. To my surprise each of them tried the sauce and ate it all and asked for seconds. This is definitely a mixture I’ll try again. It was economical and fast to fix, taking about as much time as the rice to cook.

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