Sunday, August 29, 2010

Roasted Veggies and Grains

Summer Veggies are the very best and I love to roast them gently with perfect seasonings. Here is my way - with mostly pictures and little text.
Green Tomatoes - they fell from the vine in a storm and I couldn't let them go to waste! Zucchini, Yellow Squash, Onion, Carrots, Eggplant, and Patti Pan Squash
In order to maintain the flavor of the veggies, I only added Olive Oil, Sun Dried Tomatoes, Chopped Garlic, and Tastefully Simple Pesto Seasoning. You can just use jarred Pesto or Italian Seasoning if you prefer.

Place on a greased cookie sheet or jelly roll pan and roast in a preheated oven for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

Top with shredded cheese and - voila!


I made this a couple of months ago - honestly, life has gotten in the way of this blog. I wanted to post it before the last tomatoes fall off the vine. This no-cook-no-heat-up-the-kitchen dish is a must have on hand for summer. Note that you do need to make it the day before so the flavors marry. I took this recipe from Simply Recipes and recommend that blog to anyone anywhere. I LOVE IT!

•6 ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
•1 purple onion, finely chopped
•1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, chopped
•1 sweet red bell pepper (or green) seeded and chopped
•2 stalks celery, chopped
•1-2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
•2 Tbsp chopped fresh chives
•1 clove garlic, minced
•1/4 cup red wine vinegar
•1/4 cup olive oil
•2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
•2 teaspoons sugar
•Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
•6 or more drops of Tabasco sauce to taste
•1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (omit for vegetarian option)
•4 cups tomato juice

To easily remove skin from tomatoes, slice the tomatoes under the skin from the top to the bottom and around again on two sides so you make an X on the bottom. Place them on a baking sheet and broil on low for about 5 minutes. You will see the skin start to pull away. Let them cool a bit and then peel them.
Combine all ingredients. Blend slightly, to desired consistency.
Place in non-metal, non-reactive storage container, cover tightly and refrigerate overnight, allowing flavors to blend.

Serves 8.

Crab Boil

In South Carolina - my home State - it was born as Frogmore Stew and referred to as Low country Boil. In Maryland, it is the same thing but with CRAB! Of course, with crab - what else?!

When my younger sister and her family came to visit, we made some delicious Crab Boil and added shrimp because; as my friend Shani would say: "And is better than or."

The ingredients: Kielbasa Sausage, Small Potatoes or Potatoes cut into large chunks, corn on the cob, shrimp, and crab.

The basic rule is to cook the items that take longest first and finish up with the shrimp. We had the crabs steamed in advance and heated them separately in the oven (sort of cheating) because I don't have a pot big enough for all of that goodness! You can find crab boil or low country boil seasoning in the store but if you want to "wing it" you can always use old bay, garlic, and onions. You can also mix paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and black pepper together - yum!

Make sure you have some sour cream, melted butter, cocktail sauce, cider vinegar, mallets, brown paper, and beer!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Mexican Concoction

Tonight I made chicken quesadillas and topped them with black beans, sour cream, and salsa. They were delicious.

Pepper Jack Cheese
Grilled Chicken Breast
Sour Cream
Seasoned Black Beans

Here is the play by play.

Spread margarine on one side of 4 flour tortillas. Place two, margarine side down, onto a medium-high griddle and top with cheese and chicken.

Top with the other tortillas, margarine-side up, and flip (carefully) over.

While the tortillas are browning, heat the black beans. Once the quesadillas are done, serve topped with the beans, sour cream, and your favorite salsa!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A tale of two meatloaves

I bought ground beef in bulk and decided to make up two meatloaves and freeze one. I made them at the same time so I used the same base ingredients for the meat and then changed up the seasoning for each. The base recipe included ground beef, 2 shredded zucchini, 2 shredded carrots, and 1/2 C breadcrumbs.

For the BBQ Meatloaf, I added 2T BBQ Seasoning* and 1/3 C BBQ Sauce. For the Italian Meatloaf, I added 2 T Italian Seasoning* and 1/3 C Marinara Sauce.

Mold into a loaf shape and freeze one for later. When ready to cook, preheat oven to 375 F. Top the Italian Meatloaf with 2/3 C Marinara Sauce and top the BBQ Meatloaf with 2/3 C BBQ Sauce. Cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Serve with Garlic Mashed potatoes and peas and carrots.

Leftover meatloaf makes delicious sandwiches!

*I use Tastefully Simple Seasonings

Monday, May 24, 2010

Chicken Tortilla Soup

There are plenty of delicious recipes for Chicken Tortilla Soup online and in my friends' recipe books but I opted to use a mix because I had one.
I added some Simply Salsa Seasoning, a can of seasoned black beans, and some of the Grilled Chicken. I fried up my own tortilla strips (whole wheat, of course) in light vegetable oil over medium high heat in a skillet.
Top the soup with the tortilla strips and serve the soup with a dollop of sour cream.

I made quesadillas for the boys.

Either way, it was delicious!

Grilled Whole Chicken and Grilled Beef Roast

Low and Slow is the name of the game here. For 2 hours, I let the chicken and beef hang out in the middle of a grill with the far left and far right burners on medium low. Indirect heat means no turning required.

The Chicken was seasoned with Garlic Pepper seasoning and the Beef Roast was seasoned with Everyday Grilling Seasoning. I use Tastefully Simple spices and mixes but you can use any seasoning you like.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Vanilla Cinnamon Fried French Toast Sticks

No diet would allow this treat but I couldn't resist trying this out. I don't like soggy french toast but I do like crispy french toast and without day old bread, it is hard to make a good piece of crispy french toast. UNLESS, you fry it!

Here is how I made it happen.

Serves 4:

3 Eggs
1 t vanilla extract
1/4 C Milk (I used Soy)
8 Slices of Bread with crusts removed and cut into three strips each.
1/4 C Vegetable or Canola Oil (enough to cover the bottom of the pan about 1/4 inch)
Cinnamon Sugar
Maple Syrup

Beat the eggs, milk, and vanilla extract in a bowl and transfer this mixture to a pie pan or shallow bowl. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.

Dredge the bread in the egg mixture - very briefly (do not let it soak) and immediately transfer the bread to the oil. Allow the bread sticks to fry for about 30 to 45 seconds and then turn them over to finish.
This process is quick so make sure you don't walk away. Once they are done, remove them to a cloth to drain and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Serve with a slice of bacon, fruit, yogurt, and a dipping bowl of pure maple syrup. YUM!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Grilled Chicken Pesto Pasta with Peas

I made this double for a friend who broke her arm. It was a good dish to double since it was as easy as making one. I would double it again and freeze the second for a future meal. This is also good cold as a pasta salad - I can attest to this since mom and I had the leftovers pool-side on Friday!

Here is the recipe including the amounts to make two casserole dishes full:

4 Large Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
2 T Garlic Seasoning (I use Tastefully Simple Garlic Garlic but you can also use fresh or canned chopped garlic, along with Italian Seasoning)
1 Box of Pasta (I used a new shape but you can use any shape that will hold up against the chicken chunks)

4 T Pesto (I used my Tastefully Simple Garlic Pesto mix which made it super simple but you can buy pesto or make some from scratch with pine nuts, salt and pepper, basil, parmesan cheese, garlic, and olive oil)
3 C Frozen Peas
1 C Grated Parmesan Cheese (optional)

So, here is a tip for when you buy bulk chicken (or any meat for that matter). When I come home with an Extreme Value Pack of Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts, I separate them, leave some naked, and season separate packets of 3 breasts with different seasoning combos. Some of our favorites are Salsa, Lemon Pepper, Garlic, and BBQ. Be careful not to use too much citrus because the acid breaks the chicken down too much if it is left to marinate. When you are ready for a quick meal, thaw it out and throw it on the grill, in the skillet, or under the broiler. Nuke some sides (Green Giant even does one with rice and another with potatoes) and call it dinner!

I am telling you all of this because I had some Garlic Garlic chicken in the freezer and used it for this. If you don't have such a thing in your freezer, just season your chicken before you put it on the grill.

The Play by Play:
Preheat Grill to medium high, preheat oven to 350 degrees F, and prepare a large pot of salted water for pasta boiling.
Grill chicken breasts until done. While the chicken is grilling; boil the pasta and make the pesto, if necessary.

Once the chicken is cooked through, cut into bite-sized pieces. In a large bowl gently fold together the chicken, pasta and pesto until everything is coated well. Add the peas and stir carefully so as not to end up with mushy peas.

Separate into two casserole dishes and top with the parmesan cheese. If you are cooking one ahead of time, you can go ahead and wrap that up now and put it in the freezer. When you are ready to serve this meal, place the casserole dish in the oven until the cheese is melted. Serve with a side salad.

Since my little one can't do the cheese, we just added the cheese to our individual servings and left it off his. I did melt the cheese for my friend's family, though.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Yet another update and a teaser

We have been working through a rotation of dinners that have already been well documented on this blog. I may have fallen into a rut but it became obvious to me that I cook in patterns and this is how it is. I know a lot of recipes and I try a lot of recipes but I tend to do them all at once and then start over again. So, we have been eating Chicken Pot Pie, Spaghetti with meatballs, Quiche, Breakfast for Dinner, Roast Chicken, Beef Roast, Pork Chops, etc. etc. etc.

My mom was in town last week and I recently hosted a Tastefully Simple party and have new seasoning mixes to use. I made a delicious Pesto Chicken Pasta which I will post in the coming days. I also made Pan Fried Vanilla Cinnamon French Toast Sticks which will be making its debut as well. Finally, I did a two-for by seasoning a whole Chicken and a Beef Roast and cooking them low and slow on the grill in the misty rain yesterday. We already made use of the leftover chicken by having Chicken Tortilla Soup tonight for supper.

I clicked away with the camera and will post recipes complete with pictures in the very near future!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Still going STRONG!

We are still eating in our house and I am still cooking...I am just doing some repeats that don't require posting. Last week we had our usual spaghetti night and I made a roast chicken. With the leftover chicken, I added some cooked rice, the cheese sauce, and some mixed frozen veggies. We are staying busy with life and I am going to start a part-time job in the next couple of months which will make once a fortnight shopping even more important for my precious time with my family. I also will be planning easy meals, crock pot meals, and make-ahead meals for the days that I am commuting to an office and walking in the door with hungry children.

Stay tuned for new recipes in the coming weeks...until then; you can do some repeats too!

Saturday, April 24, 2010


This week, I made Biscuits with Easter Ham for a potluck and we had chicken pot pie again, leftovers and spaghetti with meatballs. Again, it was a light week of cooking...sort of.

I decided that since we have pasta with sauce once a week, I should probably make enough of this sauce for at least 2 meals for us. So, the recipe makes PLENTY

Here is the breakdown for these meatballs and sauce:

As you may have already read in this blog, I try to load up store-bought sauce with more veggies and this time was the same. Carrots and onions were added along with some Italian Seasoning. Cook until the carrots are soft and then use an immersion blender to puree it all together. To the sauce, I added raw meatballs *it is important to note that I use REALLY lean beef so I don't have a lot of grease floating on top of my sauce after the meatballs cook in the sauce. If you would rather drain the fat, you can cook the meatballs in a pan but that makes them lose their shape so I prefer this way.

1lb of ground beef.
2 T Garlic Bread Seasoning* you can use fresh garlic or garlic seasoning
1/2 C breadcrumbs - you can use seasoned breadcrumbs if you want.

Combine together and form into balls - I like making lots of small ones so mine are no larger than quarters. Drop each ball into the pot of sauce and allow to cook for about 20 minutes.
I actually did this process around 3pm and let it cook for about 2 hours on medium-low heat. At 5 o'clock, I took it off the heat completely and let it sit - without stirring. When the grease did pool on the top, I skimmed it off and then stirred it all up when we were ready to serve.

Another tip is: if you boil your noodles and need to reheat them and get them unstuck from each other, you can place your metal colander in a pot with about 2 inches of water. Bring the water to a boil and steam the noodles back to life.

I found a really great mixed lettuce item at BJs Wholesale and have enjoyed using these Artisan Lettuces throughout the last couple of weeks.

My kids aren't into salads yet so I made them veggies with dip as a side to this already veggie-rich meal.

*This is a Tastefully Simple Item and can be purchased from a friend of mine - a link to her web page is on in the Resources section of this blog. I don't receive compensation from Tastefully Simple or Kira Reeves for purchases made as a result of this blog.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Crockpot Pork Sandwiches

I have already posted this recipe here but I switched it up a bit. I learned how good onions are for your general health - including lowering cholesterol and reducing muscle and arthritis inflammation so I decided to add them when I can in everything I make. So, I sliced an onion and put it in the Crock Pot along with 6 pork loin chops and the BBQ Sauce.

I cooked it for 8 hours and pulled the meat apart before serving it on buns. The kids had hot dogs before tee-ball practice so we scoffed these down when we got home at 8.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tortelloni with Veggies

Before you ask why I made Tortelloni instead of Tortellini - it is what I bought and had in the pantry. Before you ask, "What is the difference between Tortelloni and Tortellini?" Tortelloni is bigger.

I boiled the Spinach and Ricotta filled Tortelloni according to the package directions and heated a Family Size Package of Green Giant Broccoli, Carrots and Garlic Sauce in a sauce pan.
After the Tortelloni boiled for 10 minutes, I added them to the broccoli and tossed it all together.
Served in a bowl topped with shredded Parmesan Cheese - it is really an easy and delicious meal!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Shepherd's Pie

I am making ahead today and spending the same amount of time on two dishes as I would one.

I made Shepherd's Pie using ground turkey and ground beef. Sadly, I realized half way into it that I didn't have any Worcestershire Sauce so I used Sticky Fingers Sweet Southern BBQ Sauce. Mrs. Beeton is probably rolling over in her grave!

I also put in some carrots and peas - not present in a truly traditional Shepherd's Pie least not in Mrs. Beeton's.

Here is the gist of this dish (mind you, I made two and that is what these measurements will give you too - or you can make ONE BIG ONE!)

You will need 2 Pie Pans or 1 large shallow baking dish (it will all probably fit into a casserole dish too). Spray them with non-stick spray and set them aside.

2 T Olive Oil
2 Medium Onions, Chopped
3/4 C to 1 C Chopped Carrot (about 10-12 baby carrots)
3 T All Purpose Flour
1 C Chicken Stock - or any stock you have on hand
2 Lb Ground Meat (I used ground turkey and 93/7 Ground Beef)
2 T Tangy BBQ Sauce but you SHOULD use Worcestershire Sauce if you have it
1 C Frozen Peas
3 C Chopped Peeled Potatoes (about 5 medium potatoes)
1/4 C Milk (Soy Milk) or you can use stock
dash of nutmeg
Salt and Pepper

Boil the potatoes for 30 minutes or until tender. Meanwhile, heat the Olive Oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add Onions Carrots and cook until the onions are translucent but not browned.

Sprinkle in the Flour and cook, stirring constantly for 2 minutes.
Gradually add the Stock and cook until the sauce thickens. Add the Ground Meat and stir, breaking the meat up in the mixture. Add the BBQ Sauce, Salt and Pepper to taste, and Peas. Stir to combine. Simmer over medium heat for 30 minutes.

Drain the potatoes and mash together until smooth with the Milk or Stock or combination of the two, Nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste.

If you find the sauce in the meat mixture to be too thin, add more flour and stir until it thickens up.

Divide the meat mixture between the pie dishes or the casserole dish.
Spread the mashed potato mixture over the top of the meat and veggies. Use a fork to make peaks in the potato.
If you are cooking ahead, go ahead and cover the dish and let it cool before putting it into the freezer.

When you are ready to finish it off, cook it in a 425 degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until the top browns.


Monday, April 12, 2010

Chopped Chicken Salad

Last summer, I got into making chopped salads and with the recent warm weather and a refrigerator that includes some baby spinach that needs to be used, I decided to whip one up tonight. As a note, when I make salads, I deconstruct them for the boys and make a plate of cut veggies, cheese, and protein - tonight, the protein was the rest of the salsa chicken from Friday night.

Here is the basic idea along with the ingredients for this Mexican flavored chopped salad.

Serves 2 with components for 2 child plates

1 Grilled Salsa Chicken Breast, chopped
1/3 C Corn
1/2 C Chopped Carrots (about 5 baby carrots)
4 Grape Tomatoes, quartered
2 Celery Stalks, chopped
1/4 C Chopped Colby Jack Cheese
2 C Chopped Baby Spinach

Toss all of the above ingredients together in a bowl.

In a separate small bowl, combine 2 T Light Ranch Dressing with 3 T Salsa Verde or your favorite tomato salsa.

Add dressing to the salad and toss to cover completely. Serve alone or with bread, chips, or crackers.

Other components that would do well would be black beans, avocado, cilantro, lime juice, and tortilla strips.