Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Beef Stew

I love me some easy crock pot meals.  I keep saying I'm going to read the blog I have heard so much about, where the lady cooked a meal a day for a whole year in her crock pot.  Some day. Soon. Hopefully, I will get around to it.

On Tuesdays, we have Blane's football games, and we don't get home until around 7:00 p.m.  I try to plan something that is either really quick, like sandwiches, or something that can be prepared ahead of time.  This morning, I had the ingredients in the crock pot by 7:30 a.m.  I just let it cook on the "auto" setting 'til around lunch time and then turned it to "low" for another couple of hours.  After the first few hours, the whole house smelled so good!  And, it was super easy.  Here's what I did...

1.5-2 lbs stew meat, depending on how many you are serving
2 lbs of potatoes, washed, peeled and cut into med. sized pieces
1 lb carrot, washed, peeled and cut into med. szed pieces
1 Vidalia onion, peeled and cut into small pieces
1 pkg of "beef stew" seasoning
S & P to taste
4 cups water

Combine all ingredients in crock pot.  Cook for about 6 hours.
Serve with fresh cornbread.

6-8 servings

Monday, September 21, 2009

Pan Fried Chicken

I had never cut up a chicken before tonight.  I had never made "REAL" fried chicken (I'm not counting frying up some chicken fingers).  When I was making out our dinner menu for this 2 week period, I came across this recipe and thought it would be good.  So I bought a whole chicken and decided to do it.  I googled "How to cut up a chicken" and found numerous instruction videos that made it look fairly easy.  They all lasted from 3-8 minutes.  WHATEVER!  It took me 20+ minutes and in the end my chicken did not look anything like theirs.   :(   I have since been informed that WalMart sell whole chickens already cut up (Thanks Mary Frances!)  Next time, I will be buying that. :)

Apart from the "cut up" hassle, this recipe is easy and turned out really good.  Skylar was helping me in the kitchen and we fixed potato salad and baked beans to go with it.

2 1/2 - 3 pound frying chicken , cut up (or use chicken pieces)
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
oil for frying
1 cup flour
2 tsp. garlic salt
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp black pepper

- Blend milk and egg
- Combine flour and seasonings in a plastic bag
- Shake chicken in seasoned flour
- Dip chicken in milk/egg mixture
- Shake chicken in seasoned flour again to coat thoroughly and evenly
- Place oil in a large skillet, about 1" deep and heat to 350 degrees
- Brown chicken on all sides
- Reduce heat to 275 degrees and continue cooking until chicken is tender, about 30-40 min.  DO NOT COVER.
- Turn chicken several times during cooking
- Drain on a paper towel

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Broccoli & Rice Casserole

I got a recipe from Reese's aunt last year for a broccoli and rice casserole that is a staple at Thanksgiving dinner every year.  We always enjoyed it and when I started cooking it was one of the recipes that Reese wanted me to get.  It didn't quite turn out like Aunt Joy's the first time I made it (it was actually quite crunchy) but I have refined the cooking times and tweaked the actual recipe a bit to where now it is actually quite good.  We had it tonight as the side dish to the meatloaf I fixed.  It is, like most of the recipes I fix, quite easy.

Broccoli Casserole
2 pkg frozen chopped broccoli
1 smal finely chopped onion
1 (10.5 oz) can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup water
1 cup grated cheese
1 cup raw rice (I just use a 5 oz. pk of Mahatma Saffron Yellow rice)
1/2 stick of butter
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees
- Melt the 1/2 stick of butter in a 9x13 casserole dish
- Mix remaining ingredients in a large bowl & pour in casserole dish
- COVER WITH FOIL  (**I forgot to do this the first time I made it, therefor the rice was undercooked)
- Bake for 1 hr 15-25 min, depending on your oven

Banana-Raisin-Pecan Bread

The weather has had me in a funk the last few days.  Flash flooding and random tornado warnings are getting old.  I thought that banana bread would be a nice treat for Skylar when he got home from school and the rest of us could have it for dessert tonight.  Of course, the schools decided to let out early today, so Sky got home while I was still mixing the batter, but it's the thought that counts, right?

 I have several bananas stored in the freezer because no one in the family will eat the bananas once they start to get really ripe.  Frozen bananas make this really easy.  I just set them out on the counter to thaw for about an hour and then they just fall out of the peel.  They look yucky (the peels are really brown), but they are super easy to smash.   Maybe it wasn't ready for Sky as a snack, but we will all get to enjoy it after supper in a little bit.  Anyway, I thought I'd share my recipe here.

Banana Bread

3-4 ripe bananas, smashed
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 cup of sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
chopped pecans (optional)
*today i randomly decided to add raisins. like the nuts, this is optional

- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- With a wooden spoon, mis butter into smashed bananas in a large mixing bowl
- Mix in sugar, egg, & vanilla
- Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over mixture and mix in
- Add flour last; mix well
- Add any optionals at this point
- Pour batter into a buttered 4x8" loaf pan
- Bake for 1 hour
- Cool on a rack

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sloppy Joe Casserole

In planning our meals for the next 2 weeks, I saw that we hadn't had sloppy joe casserole in a while.  It's a really easy recipe and it tastes great.  This is what we're having for supper tonight.

Here's the recipe...
Easy Sloppy Joe Casserole
1 pound ground beef (or in our case, ground deer)
1 can Manwich or generic sloppy joe mix
1 can cream of potato soup
1 bag frozen tater tots
shredded cheddar cheese
S & P to taste
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees
- Brown ground meat and drain
- Stir in sloppy joe sauce and potato soup
- Spray a 9x13" casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray
- Add entire bag of tater tots
- Top with meat mixture
- Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes
- Remove foil and top with cheese (as you can see from the pic, only 1/2 of us like cheese)
- Return to oven for 5 more minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly
If you try this recipe, be sure and let me know how it turned out.
'til next time, happy cooking!

My First Attempt...

I am NOT a baker. Never have been. I have always envied those who can make those beautiful cakes.  I can sit and watch Ace of Cakes or Ultimate Cake Off  for hours on end in amazement.  I have a (not so) secret desire to go to pastry school (or at least take a few cake design classes) and be able to do that.  Well, I got a wild hair and googled fondant recipes Saturday before we headed to the grocery.  I picked up what I needed and was determined to see what I could do with it based on what I learned from the internet.

So, I don't think Charm City Cakes is gonna come calling, offering me a job as a cake decorator.  While my first attempt at making buttercream icing was a sucess, my first attempt at making fondant was, well, pretty sad.  I found an 'easy' fondant recipe online at http://whatscookingamerica.net/PegW/Fondant.htm and thought.."I can do that".  Well, at least I tried.

I baked a cake this morning.  It turned out just fine. Yes, it was from a mix.  Reese said that since I was making the buttercream and fondant from 'scratch' I should at least do the same with the cake.  My reply was "whatever".  Maybe, in time, if I keep at this, I will attempt to make my cakes from scratch.
Then I made buttercream icing (also from a recipe I found on the above mentioned site).  It would have been much easier to make if I had a stand mixer but, alas, I made do with the hand mixer that I have.  {Said stand mixer is officially on my wish list}  :)  The recipe made a TON of icing, so I now have nough for at least another cake  in the fridge.

Finally came my first attempt at making the fondant.  It was super messy at first, just like Peggy said it would be.  Things were moving right along and it was starting to look like the stuff Duff plays with on Ace of Cakes...that is until I kept following the directions and had added the full TWO pounds of confectioner's powdered sugar.  At this point it became just gross.  Maybe I put too much Crisco on my hands and the counter, because by the time I gave up on kneading it, it was practically oozing grease.  (yuck!)  I had read that the fondant needed about 8 minutes of kneading, but I promise I just kept on kneading for nearly 20 minutes before I gave up.
I had high hopes of a nice cake with a teal fondant covering and pink and purple polka-dots...Well, I got the colors right, but my fondant would not roll out to the smooth stuff I wanted it to be.  I ended up putting some of the teal fondant on top of the cake, then went on to cut my dots out of fondant that I had dyed pink and purple and just randomly placed them around the cake.  Go ahead. Laugh. It's pretty funny looking.
But, it does taste good, so it was not a complete waste.  In my minds eye, it should have come out something like this...
Really, it's OK if you laugh.  I have been.  :)
So, needless to say, my first attempt wasn't a huge success.  But I learned from it.  I'll let you know how things go next time.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Breakfast Casserole

I'm blessed on the weekend not to "have" to cook; Reese and I have made a deal...I do the cooking during the week and he will handle it on the weekends.  That is unless we are taking something 'complicated' to LIFE group on Sunday evenings...and by complicated I mean something he doesn't know how to cook.  There are times when I have issues with giving up control of my kitchen, to anyone, so I do get in there and 'help out'. This afternoon was one of those times.  We had signed up to bring a breakfast casserole to our LIFE group tonight, and Reese was going to do it.  After all, I got the recipe from him in the first place...it's not like he NEEDED my help, you know?  But there are some things I do a little differently when I make breakfast casserole, and I wanted to 'help' him.  We do actually work well in the kitchen together these days, so it all works out in the end...we get to spend "quality" time together, and I don't have to relinquish the control.  :)  Here is the recipe for my Breakfast Casserole, including the 'tweaks' I have added ... 

Breakfast Casserole

1 can of crescent rolls (generic brands works fine)
1 pound of sausage (i prefer using mild sausage)
1 dozen large eggs
shredded cheese
S & P to taste

-preheat oven to 375 degrees
-brown sausage in skillet over MED-HI heat
-remove sausage from pan, to a paper plate to drain
-pour off some of the grease, leaving a little to scramble the eggs in
-remove crescent rolls from package and place them in a single layer in the bottom of your casserole dish.  place in the oven for 5 min.
-while crescent rolls are in the oven, scramble dozen eggs in the same pan you cooked the sausage in over MED heat. S & P to taste.  just before the eggs are fully cooked, add the sausage back to the pan. mix well and finish scrambling the eggs to the consistency you prefer
-remove crescent rolls from oven. place egg/sausage concoction on top of rolls.  place back in oven for 8 min.
-carefully take casserole out of oven. top with cheese as desired. return to oven for another 5 min or until cheese is melted

I have made this for the 6th grade Sunday morning class and they devoured the whole thing.  It also went over well at our small group.  If you try this recipe, please feel free to add your comments about how it went over with your fam and any of your personal 'tweaks' to it.

'til next time, happy cooking!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Mmmm, stroganoff

One of the ways we have found to save money is by using venison in the place of beef.  Our boys love to hunt, and Blane was blessed with his first buck this past January.  We've been eating that deer since we got it back from the processor.
Anything that I would make with beef, I have substituted deer.  I use a season salt to help with the "gaminess" and we really have enjoyed it.  
On the menu last evening was "beef" stroganoff, but I used venison backstrap.    It was, once again, a hit with my guys and I thought I would share the recipe here.
1 1/2 pounds cubed round steak (or in my case, 1 1/2 pounds venison backstrap), cut into thin strips
seasoned salt
black pepper
garlic powder
all purpose flour
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp butter
1 medium onion, sliced
1 can of beef broth
1 can of cream of mushroom soup (i use the large, "family size" can)
1 cup sour cream
cooked egg noodles
* season steak strips with salt, pepper, & garlic powder, then dust with flour
* heat olive oil and butter in a large skillet
* quickly brown steak strips on both sides; remove from pan
* add onion slices to the pan and saute until tender; sprinkle with 1 tsp flour
* return steak to pan
* add mushroom soup and beef broth.
* cover and cook over low heat for 30 min.
* stir in sour cream in the last few minutes, just before serving
Serve over cooked egg noodles.  I have served steamed broccoli as a side with this dish.
If you try this recipe, I'd love to hear how it went & what you served with it.
Until next time, happy cookin'!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Just starting out...

Ok. So I'm new to all of this blogging stuff. Please bear with me. You won't find eloquent journaling here. I guess the goal of this blog is to share recipes and tips with others. I have been on facebook about a year and have been sharing recipes with others there. A few have suggested I start a blog, so here goes nothing. :)

I haven't always cooked like I do now. For too many years, I relied on processed, pre-packaged, or boxed meals to feed my guys. We had countless meals consisting of some sort of hamburger helper or hotdogs or those newer complete meals in a box. A little more than a year ago, I had an awakening. What was I doing?!? Moms were supposed to feed their families nutritional, REAL food, with veggies and stuff!! I started out with a few recipes and have been adding to my repertoire. I don't do fancy stuff. Our family consists of Reese, myself, and Blane & Skylar-2 growing boys who can be picky at times. I mainly try recipes that can be catagorized as 'home cookin'.

One new recipe that I have had success with is Chicken Parmesan. This was a big hit at our table this past Wednesday evening. Reese declared the dinner "awesome" and Skylar said it was "definately repeatable". It was also fairly easy.

Chicken Parmesan

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded to about 1/2" thick

1 egg

1/2 cup milk

seasoned bread crumbs

2-3 Tbsp olive oil

Mozzarella cheese (slices or shredded)

1 jar (16 oz) spaghetti or marinara sauce

Parmesan cheese

-Preheat over to 350 degrees

-Whisk together egg & milk

-Dip chicken breasts in mixture, then dredge thru bread crumbs, coating both sides

-Heat olive oil in skillet over MED-HI heat.

-Brown chicken breasts in hot oil on both sides til golden brown, about 3-4 min on each side

-Place breasts in a 9x13" baking dish

-Top chicken with mozzarella cheese

-Pour spaghetti/marinara sauce over chicken

-Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and more mozzarella

-Bake @ 350 degrees for 35 min, or until bubbly

Serve with cooked spaghetti noodles (any variety), garlic bread & a tossed salad.

So, if you try this recipe, I hope that you and your family enjoy it as much as we did. More recipes will be following. I hope to eventually have a fairly decent database posted here. Until next time, happy cooking!