Monday, December 25, 2006

It's Not Really "Monday, December 25, 2006"

But it is indeed 10:30 PM as I write this! Just wanted to let you all know that I have completed my task that I set out to do! I have every single recipe up for this month! So that's why the dates are so off. You'll just have to refer to the Archives (over there, on the left) and my Meals for the Month post-which is now fully linked to all of the recipes- as quick reference guides.

It might be a while before I post a new one on here... I'd like to talk a bit about my family's Christmas traditions, but that's for another day, not this one! And make sure to stay tuned, because if anything I will comment on certain posts. It'll just depend. I hope this month of meals has been a fun one for you! Good luck with your second shopping trip and above all, Merry Christmas and happy eating!

Love, Beth

Hot Minty Malts

Another new and exciting recipe! I cannot wait for the holiday meals I have planned! Yummy! And they're so fun, it's sure to make the holidays special! Yay for holidays and all that they embody!

  • 6 chocolate-covered, cream-filled mint patties
  • 5 c. milk
  • 1/2 c. chocolate malted milk powder
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • whipped cream

1. In crock-pot, combine mint patties with milk, malt powder and vanilla.
2. Heat on low for 2 hours.
3. Beat with mixer until frothy.
4. Pour into cups and top with whipped cream (preferably fresh).
5. Serve with Pumpkin Spiced Pancakes for breakfast. What a treat, eh?!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Hot Caramel Apples

This just sounded too good and festive to pass up! I haven't tried it yet either, but I am dang excited! This would be real good served with some vanilla ice cream (Breyer's) or egg nog, or both! Yay for Christmas and the absence of scales and inhibitions!

  • 4 large tart apples, cored
  • 8 T. brown sugar
  • 4 T. butter
  • 1/4 t. cinnamon
  • 1/2 c. apple juice
  • 12 red-hot candies
  • 8 caramels

1. Peel about 3/4 inches off the top of each apple; place in crock-pot.
2. Pour juice over apples.
3. Fill the center of each apple with 2 T. sugar, three red-hots, 1 T. butter and two caramels.
4. Sprinkle with cinnamon; cover.
5. Cook on low 4-6 hours or until the apples are tender.
6. Eat your dinner! Now you may proceed to the next step.
7. Serve cooked the bound-to-be-delish apples with toasted nuts/oatmeal.

Tortilla Soup

I've had many different variations of this soup, but this is my favorite. I guess I'm a little partial to my cooking! Who knew?! But honestly, the flavor is so good, and I love all the stuff in it!

  • Olive oil
  • 8 corn tortillas, coarsely chopped OR 2 handfuls of tortilla chips (stale works fine)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced OR 4 t. garlic powder
  • 1/2 c. fresh cilantro (opt)
  • 1 onion, chopped OR 1-2 T. dried onion
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 2 T. ground cumin
  • 1 T. chili powder
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 6 c. chicken broth
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. ground cayenne pepper (opt)
  • 2-3 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped/shredded OR 1-2 cans of chicken, drained
  • 1 can olives, drained
  • 1 can's worth of corn (frozen/dehydrated)
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1. In a large stock pot heat oil. Add tortillas, garlic, cilantro and onion; saute till soft (aka sweat it out).
2. Stir in tomatoes and bring to a boil. Add cumin, chili powder, bay leaves and broth; return to boil.
3. Reduce heat to medium and add salt, cayenne, corn, olives, and black beans. Simmer for 30 minutes.
4. Remove bay leaves and stir in chicken; heat through.
5. Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream, tortilla chips/strips, salsa, etc.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Salad: Blue Cheese, Toasted Walnuts and Sweetness

Ok, you can choose to either buy the pre-made salad mix, which is found next to the cesare salad mix, or you can buy everything and make this. I may end up opting for the other, because it's so easy and cost might be irrelevant in all reality. I'm not even sure if they have this eact mix, but you'll find something similar to this. But here's the recipe anyway, for your grandkids...

  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Dried Cranberries
  • Blue Cheese, crumbled
  • Walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1 T. butter, melted
  • 1 T. brown sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • Raspberry Vinegarette

1. Dry roast walnuts in pan until you can smell their loveliness; remove and let cool.
2. Toss greens with cheese and dried fruit, and a little dressing (or you can let everyone add the dressing themselves).
3. Toss nuts with melted butter, sugar and salt.
4. Top salad with nuts and eat it, pinky up! Serve with a sliced baguette and Bree cheese (heck, if we're going all out, go all out!). Any crusty bread will do...

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Chicken Crock Pie

This is one of my very favorite slow cooker recipes. You can complete this meal one of three ways. A) with a pie shell: after filling is cooked, top with frozen pie shell (can be homemade, but needs to be frozen or at least severely chilled, and bake in oven- after removing the pot from the heating element of course, or; B) serve with biscuits on top, or; C) serve with mashed potatoes. I've done all the above and they're equally great! Like I said, a favorite, a real hum-dinger!

  • Frozen veggies classic mix, 12 oz (redhydrated in chicken broth)
  • 2-3 chicken breasts -or- 1 can chicken, drained
  • 12 oz. chicken/turkey gravy (you can make your own from a roux + broth, or; find a jar of it, or; prepare a gravy mix from an envelope)
  • 1 t. dried thyme, crushed
  • salt to taste
1. Place vegetables in slow cooker and top with chicken.
2. Stir together gravy and thyme and pour over turkey.
3. Cover and cook on low 6-7 hours.
4. Serve according to your fancy, as listed in the introduction.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


Seriously, I am all about these easy meals! Well, mostly, as I do have my share of the more involved type... Put together whatever you like to eat with chips. And you can melt some cheese on top of your chips in the micro or in the oven if you'd like. As for me, I think I'll go with naked chips and play dress up with all the fixins!

  • 1 can refried beans (Taco Bell's brand, the fat-free no lard kind. Don't worry, we'll doctor it up, it tastes just fine! Trust me).
  • 1 can olives, sliced, drained
  • Sour cream (light or reduced fat, in case I haven't mentioned it before)
  • Guacamole (aka: avocados smashed w/ lime juice and salt-pepper and a bit of salsa)
  • Salsa
  • Shredded Cheese
  • Tomatoes, chopped
  • Green onions, sliced
  • Tortilla chips (you can fry/bake up your own if you wish)

1. Heat up refried beans and mix with a splash of salsa and some cheese.
2. Set everything up buffet style. Or you can go through the hassle of layering it.
3. Eat up!

PS- You also have the option of cooking some ground beef and when you add some lettuce, voila, a taco salad!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Spicy-Chic Buffalo Sandwiches

Don't worry, these aren't that hot really. Especially if you use Frank's, since it's more vinegary than cayenne. If you haven't tried it yet, you'll soon know what you've been missing! This simple Buffalo sauce is great for wings, obviously! Enjoy it while it's hot (I'm referring to the double meanings here... I'm such a hoot!)!

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 t. sweet paprika
  • 1 t. chili powder
  • Olive oil
  • 2 T. butter
  • 1/2 c. Frank's Red Hot (cayenne pepper sauce)
  • Hamburger buns
  • lettuce
  • blue cheese dressing (Ranch is ok to use)

1. Heat large skillet over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt, pepper, paprika, and chili powder (drizzle some olive oil to help coat); cook.
2. In a separate skillet (or a large microwave safe bowl) melt butter, add hot sauce and combine.
3. When chicken is cooked, remove from pan and add to sauce and coat evenly.
4. Serve on buns and top with lettuce and blue cheese dressing.
5. Serve with celery, carrots and extra dressing for dipping for some cool relief.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Meat Loaf

Another one I've yet to try but I am dying to! How easy is this, in the crockpot?! Words are not enough to describe my budding feelings and rekindled relationship with this wonder machine! And what a great way to sneak in some vegetables!

  • 1 1/2 lb. ground turkey
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/3 c. ketchup
  • 1 T. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 t. dried basil (always use dried herbs in the slowcooker)
  • 1/2 t. pepper
  • 1 large onion, chopped/diced
  • 2 potatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper, finely chopped

1. Combine all ingredients in large bowl.
2. Shape into loaf to fit in crock and place it inside.
3. Cover and cook on low 6-8 hours.
4. Serve with some steamed veggies or salad. And of course, extra ketchup, and mustard, is a must!

Friday, December 15, 2006

13 Bean Soup

This is perfect for a cold and dreary day. You may want to take some beano, or some probiotics to help you digest the beans. We want to be nice to our tummies so that they'll be nice to us and actually lose weight when we tell them to (that's right, I said tell them. Forget working out! One of these days my stomach will listen and respond as it should, resulting in a womanly six pack!)! You can probably cook this in the crock, too. I remember reading something about a slow cooker and beans... and I just might try to make this with canned beans instead of dry beans. But for now, this recipe calls for the dried kind.

  • 2 c. of 13 bean mix
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tomato, puree (you can probably sub with some tomato sauce)
  • 1 T. chili powder
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced OR 2 t. of garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • mustard to taste (Dijon is fine. Nay, it's grrrrreat!)
  • ham/ham hock/bacon or just beef bouillon, to taste

1. Wash and soak beans overnight.
2. Rinse in the morning and boil with 10 c. water.
3. Reduce and simmer with 2-3 pieces of choice meat or bouillon until beans are tender. I don't know how much bouillon I end up using. I just keep testing it until it's just right...
4. Add onion, puree tomato, 1 T. chili powder, garlic, salt/pepper and mustard to taste (start with a squirt, then another, etc.).
5. Simmer until everything is cooked to perfection and then blend until smooth (I use a hand blender).
6. Serve with cornbread muffin mix and honey butter (equal parts butter and honey), or make some muffins from scratch you over achiever! You may also top with cheese if you'd like, the soup that is, although I'm not sure if I have.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Chicken Taco Filling

Yet another easy peesey (does anyone know how to spell that?!) crock recipe! I love it! Actually, I have yet to try it, but how could it go wrong? Three ingredients?! I mean, c'mon people! It's time to start cooking again- if that's what we're calling it!

  • 3-5 chicken breasts
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes with green chiles, undrained
  • 1 packet of taco seasoning mix (1.25 oz)

1. Place chicken in cooker (can be frozen. In fact, mine most certainly will be!).
2. Mix tomatoes and taco seasoning; pour over chicken.
3. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
4. Serve with corn tortillas with every sort of topping you choose (cheese, sour cream, salsa, guacamole, etc.). It would probably taste great with some rice, too. And I will probably shred my chicken.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Sloppy Joe-Schmoes

These are pretty standard, I think. But just in case, here you go:


  • ground meat, beef/turkey (little more than 1 lb)
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 2 t. steak seasoning blend
  • 1/2 to whole onion, chopped
  • 1 small red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 T. vinegar (red wine)
  • 1 T. Worchestershire sauce
  • 2 c. tomato sauce
  • 2 T. tomato paste
  • olive oil

1. Heat large skillet over medium-high heat.
2. Add oil to pan (about 1 T.) and beef, spreading it out and breaking it up as it cooks.
3. Combine sugar and steak seasoning and add to skillet to combine.
4. When meat has browned, add onion and pepper. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes.
5. Add vinegar, stirring briefly to reduce, then add Worchestershire, tomato sauce and paste, and sit to combine. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for another 5 minutes.
6. Spoon onto hamburger buns.
7. Serve with Spiced Fries.

Feeling adventurous?  Try some different variations of this otherwise classic sandwich.  Meal tinkering is fun!  *B

Spiced Fries

I don't really have any exact measurements on this one. I eyeball it, and add the spices as looks fair... so try your best! But these are so great, and good for you too! We used to make these all the time, when we had an oven. Heck, I'm going to start back up with them now that we have a larger toaster oven. Have at them!

  • 4 medium potatoes (about 1-2 per person)
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • chili powder to taste/look
  • cayenne to taste
  • paprika to taste/look (just because it makes it look hotter than it is because of its beautiful color. In all honesty, paprika is a safe flavor and only the true food snobs and connoisseurs can tell if it's there or not)
  • garlic & herb seasoning, to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil

1. Heat oven to 450. Spray a lipped cookie/baking sheet with olive oil (you can brush it on, or use a cooking spray. As for me, I LOVE my Pampered Chef non-aerosal pump!).
2. Cut potatoes into fries, depending on your thickness preferences, place in a mixing-sized bowl. I said nothing about peeling them! But if you must... you're just missing out on all of the nutrition and goodness!
3. Toss potatoes in olive oil (just drizzle it in there, enough to coat) and add the seasonings; mix altogether, with your beautiful hands (I'd take on any jewlery beforehand if I were you).
4. Place on baking sheet in a single layer. Bake uncovered 20-25 minutes, turning occasionally, until done (poke them and you'll know!)

PS- I have this seasoning blend called Cajun Seasoning. You could just use that and forego all the others listed here. It might be a bit spicy though! And if you're sensitive to hot food, then make an herb version of this. I also make these as roasted rosemary and Italian seasoned potatoes. But to go with the sloppy joes, just use salt, pepper and paprika. Those are pretty safe for the sensitive ones out there!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Thai-Vietnamese Salad

This is just a classic salad, with your choice of fixins. Some suggested: bean sprouts, radishes, carrots, scallions, cucumber, tomatoes, red onion, mint, basil and nuts. But we'll be doing it cheap and basically dress our salad with whatever we have on hand! The real star player here is the dressing. Yes, it's another peanut butter-based sauce. The other option was to make a chili garlic sweet-hot dressing, which called for a little more pricy and "exotic" ingredients that I would never use again. So, being the p.b. lover and newfound penny-pincher, I opted for the satay dressing.

  • 1/4 c. soy sauce
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 chicken breasts (enough for leftovers)
Peanut Dressing:
  • 3 T. vinegar (white/rice)
  • 1/2 c. apple juice concentrate
  • 3 T. peanut butter
  • 1/4 t. to 1/2 t. ginger powder
  • 1/2 t. cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 c. olive oil

1. Combine soy sauce and oil; add chicken, turn to coat and season; cook (grilling is preferred. Go GF!)
2. Prepare salad and dressing while chicken rests.
3. For peanut dressing, combine all ingredients but the oil in a blender; blend for 30 seconds, then stream in oil (keep the blender on!).
4. Cut chicken into diagonal strips and serve it all together.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Finally Caught Up

All right, so I've got the recipes from last week that were MIA up and ready to read and make, and I've even got tomorrow's up, too! So, make sure to go back and check, since I've dated the posts to fit with the meal plan's dates. And from here on out, as I try to get the rest of the recipes up for the month, they'll be posted under their respective dates as well. So if you're reading a post for this Friday, and it's not Friday, then that's your explanation!

Wish me luck and enjoy; this is all for you loveys!

Italian Stew

First off, sorry that I didn't get this out sooner... how many times will I be apologizing, you may ask. As many as it takes to right the wrong I guess, so get used to it! Anyway, this is a slow cooker recipe, which is why I should have had this written earlier. But oh well, and perhaps you can switch it with another day. This will end up working quite well for us, because we had a large can of tomato sauce, which some of it went to the enchiladas and the rest I will dump in here. And I call this a stew, because that's how it turns out, before you doctor it up. So, it can be more soup based if you'd like, but I'm going to make mine more of a sauce. And this tastes best when served with tortellini (but since we're poor, we're just serving it with plain pasta). Oh, and one last note, I use an Italian seasoning mix from *Crockery Gourmet (they were on sale and I highly recommend them). So basically, just follow the recipe on the back. And if you don't have a packet, you'll just have to season it with some chicken bouillon and spices and it should be similar enough. Speaking of enough, here goes nothing!

  • 1 packet of Italian Seasoning Mix*
  • 1 large can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 c. water (or chicken broth if you don't have the mix)
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 zucchini, chopped
  • 1/2 yellow squash, chopped
  • 1 small can olives, drained
  • 1/2 pack of fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 2-3 chicken breasts (you can add more chicken, and less veggies; all to taste/sight)

1. Mix seasoning packet with can of tomatoes and water. Add tomato sauce to thicken as desired (you may have to add brown sugar, salt, pepper, seasoning, etc. to make sure it tastes ok).
2. Add veggies and chicken.
3. Cover and cook on low, 6-8 hours.
4. Serve with pasta or serve plain as a stew. Garnish with grated Parm.

PS- You can add packaged tortellini for about the last 10-20 minutes of cooking... oh, and serve with crusty bread, which goes well with any version you choose!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Coming Soon to a Kitchen Near You

Ok, I'm going to try to delay post one more time. I think what will happen is that the posts will come out the very day I publish them, but they will be time stamped in order to correspond with the Meals for the Month list. Hopefully, since these next few weeks are bound to be busy for us all, this will help to have everything already laid out. Then I don't have to scramble to make sure a recipe is up it will just already be there, and you won't have to stress about what to make (if you are following the guide... I honestly don't know who out there is even trying this!). And another thing, this way you can go ahead and create your own shopping list for the second trip this month, since all of the recipes should be posted. That way you can give my shopping tips a whirl and see what works best for you. I will try my best to get the rest of this month's recipes all out in the next few days, by the end of this week at least. And remember, if you have decided to use my shopping list for the first half of this month, you should have everything you need to get through the 18th or so.

All right, that's enough of a long-winded explanation! Please give me some feedback on all of this: on recipes, on tips, on shopping lists or plans, etc. I like feeling like I'm not the only one here! Thanks everyone and happy cooking!

PS- I'll start tomorrow (Monday)... first, because I'm a classic procrastinator and secondly, we've got to get to bed at a decent time (for once this week) so that we can get up nice and early, to help Brad study for his third final tomorrow. Ah, good times.

Fancy Schmancy Rice

This is basically my take on Rice-a-Roni, minus the MSG, of course! I think it could be referred to as pilaf, but fancy schmancy rice is much more fun to say! Anyway, it's a great way to jazz up your rice a bit for a nice homecooked meal. Goes great with grilled chicken and a salad and/or veggies alongside it. Hope you fall in love with this one!

  • 2 T. butter
  • half an onion, diced
  • 1 c. uncooked regular long-grain rice (which is fancy talk for white rice... obviously you can use minute rice or brown rice! Just be aware of the cooking and flavor/texture difference between them).
  • angel hair pasta, broken up (maybe about a 1/4 c. to a half c. I don't know! Eyeball it.)
  • 2 c. chicken broth
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • Seasonings to taste (I use Italian, but you could use Cajun for a spicy rice, etc. Whichever way your taste buds guide you!)

1. Melt butter in a deep skillet (olive oil can be used as well) and add onion; cook.
2. Stir in broken pasta and rice and cook until brown, stirring frequently (about 5 minutes).
3. Stir in broth and seasoning.
4. Heat to boiling, stirring once or twice, then reduce heat. Cover and simmer about 16 minutes (adjust time to fit the rice you're using. Brown rice takes a long time, and minute rice doesn't).
5. Remove from heat, and let stand for 5 minutes, covered.

* You can also add mushrooms, tomatoes, zucchini, etc. and it tastes great!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Recipe for an Apology

Sorry gals! It's been a little hectic here, and I've got to be somewhere in an hour! And I'll be gone all day (mostly). So, hopefully you are all able to find a recipe for enchiladas... they're pretty basic and similar wherever you look. Oh, and I hope you were all ok with the pizza last night, too... To tell you the truth, the past two nights we've used our cop-out meal replacements, so I haven't even made what I posted! Hopefully you've resorted to your substitute meals, too. Anyway, sorry to do this to y'all. But I'll post the recipes as soon as I can, maybe later tonight or tomorrow.

If you're freaking out or panicking, then write me a frantic comment or something and I'll do my best to get the respective recipes posted today! Take courage dears and I'll be back!

Chicken Enchiladas

Well, there's nothing really to say about this, except that I've been on a Mexican food-trip lately... I sure hope I'm not pregnant. I shouldn't be!!! Mmm, mexican pizza, or in this case, enchiladas!

3 chicken breasts (skinless, boneless, etc.)
1 small/medium onion
1/2 c. sour cream
1 c. shredded cheese
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 T. fresh parsley (optional)
1 can of sliced olives, drained (opt)
2/3 c. water
1 T. chili powder
1/2 t. dried oregano leaves (optional)
1/4 t. cumin
1 can green chilies, drained (and chopped if needed)
1 clove garlic, diced finely
1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
8 corn tortillas

1. Heat oven to 350.
2. Cut up chicken and cook; add onion, cook.
3. Mix the cheese, sour cream, parsley and pepper; set aside.
4. Heat remaining ingredients except tortillas to boiling, stirring occasionally; reduce heat. (If you don't care for crunchy bell peppers, go ahead and add them with the onion, in step 2 and they'll be nice and soft). Simmer uncovered, about 5 minutes.
5. Dip each torilla into the sauce, making sure to coat both sides.
6. Mix the chicken and cheese mixture for filling. Spoon about 1/4 c. onto each tortilla and roll it up. Place seam side down in baking dish.
7. Pour remaining sauce over enchiladas and top with more shredded cheese; bake uncovered for 20 minutes or until bubbly.
8. Let it sit a bit to "solidify" and then serve with a green salad.

Friday, December 08, 2006


This is an easy one. We'll be cooking this in our electric skillet. So some of you out there may have our exact pan (aka Summers family) so this recipe is for you! If you don't have one, then just bake it like a normal pizza.

  • 1 package of pizza dough
  • My Marinara or pizza sauce
  • Mozzarella, shredded
  • Toppings galore (mushrooms, onions, olives, etc.)
  • Olive oil
  • Italian Seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 425.
2. Spread out dough to fit pan (cool) or sheet.
3. Spoon sauce on and pile on the toppings! I put a little cheese on before toppings and then top with more cheese to "seal" it all in, like a cheese envelope! Yay for the mail!
4. Sprinkle olive oil and seasoning over pizza (you'll be surprised by how much flavor and difference this makes).
5. Cover and cook for 10 minutes at 325, or 18 minutes in the oven.
6. Let stand, covered for 10-15 minutes (you can wrap foil around the oven version to keep it hot).
7. Cut and serve; top with the Parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes! Mmm, mama mia!

Note: for pan users, do not lift cover during cooking or standing time!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Broccoli Soup

I have yet to make this. I already have another fabulous broccoli soup recipe, but it's not for the crockpot. And since this very recipe is for the slow cooker, we have to use processed cheese (which is unusual for me. But since my family left their Velveeta cheese in my fridge, I'm going to use it gosh dang it!). It should taste good enough though, and at least it's easy!

2-3 lbs. fresh broccoli, chopped
1 T. butter
2 c. milk
1/2 c. cheese, cut into small cubes

1. Place broccoli (no yucky tough stalks) and butter in slow cooker; cover with water.
2. Cover and cook on high 1-2 hours.*
3. Add milk and cook an additional 15 minutes.
4. Stir in cheese and continue cooking until melted into soup.
5. Serve with bread, like your Grandpa's sour-dough biscuits, mmmm.

* Since we're not cooking meat, which is better cooked on low for long hours, it's ok to cook on high. We're basically just cooking the broccoli. I hope our places don't stink...

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Onion Rings

We'll be serving these with burgers, from Costco (what a deal!). Of course you can make homemade burgers, which I usually don't because I hate handling raw meat. But it is rather easy if you have a GF... anyway, this is a recipe from Rachel Ray and she says to "refrigerate your onions and canned evaporated milk when you unpack from the grocery store. The colder the better for making onion rings!" This makes enough for two people, because frankly, cold onion rings for leftovers are not my style. Also not me: lots of fried food. So I'm limiting our portion sizes here. And there you have it. Feel free to double the recipe for more people or with seconds in mind.

  • Olive oil, for frying
  • 1 large sweet Vidalia onion, sliced into rings to your thickness preference
  • 1 can (5 oz) evaporated milk
  • 1 c. flour
  • 1/2 t. dry mustard
  • 1/2 t. cayenne pepper
  • 1 t. sweet paprika
  • salt to taste

1. Heat oil, enough to cover bottom of pan, over medium heat.
2.. Pour evaporated milk into a bowl, set aside.
3. Mix flour with seasonings in a separate dish.
4. Dip each ring first into milk, then coat in flour.
5. Fry in a single layer until golden brown (you may have to flip them once).
6. Remove to paper towels to drain and salt while still hot, to taste.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Forced Shopping List, Part I

I had this brilliant idea that I would just delay-post every meal and recipe that I had for this month, but it's not working. So I've decided to post my shopping list for those few of you who are interested. This is just the first trip, so I'll be posting another one when we go shopping again. But this should get you through the 18th (hopefully). Sorry it's a little late as it should have been posted with my Meals for the Month post.

Disclaimer: some items that may be required in the recipes may be missing from this list. But you will most likely have it on hand already. And I will have the posts up the very morning they're due, in case you need to make a quick grocery run. Hopefully I'll get the bugs worked out of this "system" and it will get better each and every time! Thanks for your patience! And don't forget to add to it for your own family needs (like cereal, milk, etc.) and refer to my shopping tips- then add/subtract whatever you do/don't need on this list.

-onions (W- if you use them all the time like we do)
-potatoes; 1 small bag
-lettuce (W)
-sweet onion
-broccoli; 2-3 lbs
-bell peppers - red & green
-mushrooms; 3 packs, but be careful, they don't keep very well. Buy them a day or two before the recipe that calls for them. Or you can get canned mushrooms to save you the trouble. They just won't taste as good, but they are cheaper...

Canned/dried goods:
-peanut butter
-13 bean soup mix
-green chilis
-diced tomatoes with green chilis
-1 large can tomato sauce
-1 large and 1 small can of diced tomatoes
-pizza/spaghetti sauce

Frozen foods:
-veggies, stir fry mix (W) and traditional mix

-vanilla yogurt
-eggs (W)
-chees; mozzarella and/or cheddar (W)
-sour cream
-Velveeta/processed cheese

-Chicken, frozen/skinless/boneless (W)
-ground meat; 3 lbs

-Hamburger buns
-corn tortillas

-Soy sauce and/or teriyaki sauce
-taco seasoning
-bacon/bacon bits (W)
-salsa (W- if you like a lot, like I do)
-corn bread muffin mix
-hot sauce; Red Frank's
-bread crumbs
-olive oil (W)

(W) = Warehouse (Costco) items

Pecan Crusted Chicken (salad)

The first few steps are very similar to the Chicken Parm recipe. But the end results are totally different! And this meal is far less time-consuming than the other. Enjoy!

  • Olive oil, for frying
  • 4-6 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless, etc.)
  • 1 c. flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 T. water (like you don't have it on hand, sheesh. But it's an ingredient nonetheless)
  • 1 c. bread crumbs
  • 1 c. pecans, finely chopped - food processor
  • 1/2 t. nutmeg
  • zest of 1 orange (optional)
  • mandarin oranges/dried cranberries/bacon (also optional; see steps 7-8 below)

1. Set up your dipping work station (3 lipped plates or shallow bowls: (1) flour; (2) egg and water, mixed: (3) bread crumbs, pecans, nutmeg and orange zest, mixed).
2. Cut chicken into strips (or you can butterfly them if wanted as a main dish) and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
3. Heat oil, enough to cover bottom of pan, over medium heat.
4. Dip chicken in each station, sequentially as laid out in step 1.
5. Cook meat in hot oil (place it away from you, being careful about the hotness factor) and brown and crispy, on each side. About 5 minutes total.
6. Place cooked chicken on paper towels to drain while finishing up the other batch(es) if necessary; add more oil when/if needed.
7. Serve with salad (greens and makings of your choice, althoug some mandarin oranges would be a tasty enough addition that I would recommend it).
8. Top with your choice of dressing. We'll be using a BBQ flavored dressing, but blue cheese dressing would work well (omit the mandarin oranges and substitute dried cranberries). And ranch dressing would be just fine, too (omit oranges/cranberries and substitute cooked bacon, chopped).

Monday, December 04, 2006

Yogurt Peanut Sauce

This is a quite a bit different than my other wannabe-satay-sauce recipe (spicy peanut sauce). But it is just as yummy, and very fresh! I'll be serving this with rice (jasmine) and veggies (frozen), like usual. Hopefully in changing the sauce a little, it will make enough of a difference for our poor taste buds.

  • 1/4 c. peanut butter -creamy is good for this one
  • 1/4 c. vanilla yogurt (beware of all that high-fructose corn syrup junk!)
  • 3 T. teriyaki OR soy sauce (depends on how sweet you want this)
  • 1 T. honey
  • Olive oil
  • frozen vegetables
  • chopped cilantro

1. Beat peanut butter, yogurt, teriyaki/soy sauce and honey until smooth.
2. Heat oil in a skillet over medium high heat and cook those chilly veggies.
3. Serve altogether with cooked rice and top with cilantro.
4. Finish and say "Oemmmmmmmmmm." Yin yang y'all!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Chicken Parm... igiana

MMM. Soooo good. We make this if we're having company. I must admit that it was quite the feat in our little kitchen tonight. But well worth everything (even the pile of dishes)! Enjoy and live it up!

  • My Marinara or spaghetti sauce
  • 1 c. flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 T. water
  • 2/3 c. Italian bread crumbs
  • 1/3 c. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, halved
  • Olive oil
  • Shredded Mozzarella cheese
1. Set up your dipping work station (3 lipped plates or shallow bowls: (1) flour; (2) egg and water, mixed: (3) bread crumbs and parmesan, mixed) and heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Butterfly chicken breasts (or hammer them) until 1/4 inch thick.
3. Heat oil, enough to cover bottom of pan, over medium heat.
4. Dip chicken in each station, sequentially as laid out in step 1.
5. Cook meat in hot oil (place it away from you, being careful about the hotness factor) and brown and crispy, on each side. About 5 minutes total. You'll have to do it in batches.
6. Place cooked chicken on paper towels to drain while finishing up the other batch(es); add more oil when/if needed.
7. Place half of chicken in ungreased baking dish, overlapping slightly.
8. Spoon a generous spoonful of sauce on each chicken and sprinkly with cheese. Repeat with remaining chicken and layer accordingly.
9. Bake uncovered until cheese and sauce is bubbly and oh so gorgeously tasty! (about 25 minutes).
10. Serve with angel hair pasta (cooked, drained and tossed in olive oil and 1 c. sauce) and garlic bread (french bread with garlic/herb/butter).
11. Upon finishing your gorging session, sit on the coach and serve up some cotton balls (2 per person) and place inside cheeks. Talk funny and laugh up your inner Italian, Godfather style. Slick hair back if desired (you can use the extra olive oil leftover).

My Marinara

In case some of you don't already know, I'm Italian, as in [i-tal-yuhn] NOT [eye-tal-yuhn] ... Although I may not look it, I sure do eat like it! I love food, mmm. And my comfort food is anything with marinara and pasta. After having moved away from home, and having a mother who doesn't really like to measure ingredients herself, I created my own sauce. Each time it tastes different, because I'm always fiddling with it. But I am going to attempt to write it down with a strong recommendation to taste-test it often and add whatever you think it might need.


  • 1 lb ground beef/turkey
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 pack of fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Italian seasoning to taste
  • Basil to taste
  • 1 large and 1 small can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 large can of plain tomato sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2-3 T. brown sugar
  • 1 T. beef bouillon
  • Olive oil

1. Prep everything before you start cooking. This includes wiping the mushrooms with a damp cloth- never rinse them (they'll be tough and rubbery otherwise).
2. Cook meat in a large pot, breaking it up into as thick/thin of chunks you like. Make sure you don't get cheap meat (my mistake and absolutely not recommended if you want some good sauce). Drain.
3. Add some olive oil, onion, 3 cloves of minced garlic and mushrooms
before the meat is completely cooked. Swau(a combination of sau and sweat*) the veggies before going to next step.
. Note: you want the mushrooms to develop their flavor and cook before you add any salt, which will draw out their liquids prematurely. Now, add the Italian spices, Basil (fresh/dried) and salt/pepper -all to taste- just as meat is finishing up.
5. Add the diced tomatoes and bay leaves to pot and bring to a simmer.
6. Add tomato sauce to pot and bring to simmer.
7. Add bouillon, sugar and remaining clove of garlic (minced). Cover and simmer for a long time (3 hours).
8. Here's an option for y'all. You can transfer everything to a crock pot and simmer all night long, filling your dreams with yummy scents. The point of letting it simmer for so long is to really develop the flavor.
9. Another long-winded option: after you let the sauce cool from all its simmering, place in the fridge for a night/day. You will be amazed by how much better it tastes, because the flavors have now been given a wonderful chance to consolidate.

PS- Of course you don't have to let it simmer for many hours, or even rest in the fridge before you eat it. But it's what I do. Most of my other recipes are short and to the point. But not my sauce. It's an artwork! Make sure to stir and taste often. You'll be able to taste the "marinade" in all of its developing stages, along with "seeing" if it's missing something. I use lots of herbs, and have found that adding a little brown sugar and beef bouillioun really help tame the acidity of the tomatoes. This recipe yields an entire pot full of sauce. So you can use it for the next week, with pasta, pizza, or jar it up as a Christmas present for friends. I just hope you enjoy this as much as Brad and I do. And I promise that it is worth all the waiting!

* sweat: it's a cooking term... it's not quite sau
té; it means to cook the food in question at a lower temp (vs. a higher temp as used in sauté) until translucent. Just cook the dang onions and you'll be fine!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Those Crazy Poultry! Tacos

This is our home-made version of El Pollo Loco tacos from their dollar menu. I must say, we were quite saddened upon moving here and finding no Taco Times! Alack! But we soon discovered the afore mentioned fresh mexican eatery. It is so tasty! I for sure recommend eating there if you have the chance. Even if you don't usually like chicken, you will be surprised by how cooked, yet not dry the meat is (so it's not rubbery, bluk!)! Anyway, here is our own recipe which is great if you're in a pinch. We always have these ingredients on hand (with the exception of cilantro) and it's so easy and satisfying, which makes for a rewarding meal!

  • Chicken (1-2 breast(s) per person)
  • Onion, finely diced (green onions are great, too)
  • Cilantro, chopped
  • Lemon & Pepper Seasoning
  • Hot sauce/cayenne powder, for some kick (optional)
  • Corn tortillas (1-4 per person)
  • Olive oil, for frying

1. Defrost chicken, if need be.
2. Cook chicken (we use our GF* grill). Let it sit upon cookedness- important!
3. Mix the onion and cilantro in a medium sized bowl.
4. Slice/dice rested chicken and add to said bowl.
5. Add spices/seasonings; everything to taste. Cover bowl with foil to keep warm.
6. Heat oil over medium-high heat. Once hot, add tortillas and fry. (Option: you can also steam/microwave them. But everything tastes better fried! Your choice).
7. Spoon chicken mixture inside warm tortillas and serve with your selection of toppings (for a more unadulterated flavor, like that of EPL, serve with lettuce, little cheese, little salsa, and little cesar dressing).
8. Start eating, making sure to tally each taco consumed on a white-board to determine taco-eating-fiend champion!

PS- I can't really tell you how much of each ingredient I use, because it relies so heavily on your own personal taste. I eyeball and taste-test almost everything I make. So it's up to you and your discretion on how much onion, cilantro, and spice you want. Note/option: if you don't have lemon pepper seasoning, then substitute with salt, pepper and 1-2 T. lemon/lime juice. And I'll give you a hint on how this is suppose to taste, in case you're freaking out with the non-existence of exact measurements: fresh, light and savory. Trust your instincts and your senses; you'll be amazed at the great cook that lies within!

pps- if you seriously want to try these and are seriously upset that I haven't given you the info that you need, let me know and I will try my best to quantify the ingredients for you. And give yourself a little encouraging pat on the back ;)

*GF= George Foreman

Friday, December 01, 2006

Hearty Tomato "Stoup"

This soup totally hit the spot. And I luckily had everything already on hand. Disaster and a long trip to the grocery store (as is any trip to anywhere here) was avoided and a pleasant Friday was enjoyed. And Brad thought it was good, but tomato-ee. He doesn't really care for soup, let alone tomato soup. I on the other hand loved it. So my philosophy stands: if there is an ingredient that you know you don't like, or are unwilling to try, then remove it. However, if it's a main taste component, then make it in a smaller quantity if you're dead set against experimenting, or make something else instead. Or serve it with grilled cheese sammies (non-burned ones)!

  • 1 lb. ground turkey -or- 1/2 c. TVP
  • 1/2 onion, chopped -or- 1 T. dried onions
  • 1/2 bag of frozen veggies (pees/carrots/corn/green beans mix) -or- 1 can mixed veggies, drained
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 oz)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, pureed
  • 1.5 c. beef broth -or- 1.5 c. water w/ 2-3 t. bouillon
  • 5 t. brown sugar
  • 1 t. celery seeds
  • salt and pepper to taste
1. Brown meat in soup pot; drain.
2. Add onions and seasoning (except sugar) right before the meat gets "dry" or too-cooked.
3. Add rest of veggies, including the diced tomatoes; cook for a bit.
4. Add tomato sauce, broth and sugar; stir.
5. Simmer covered for 30 minutes, stirring every now and then.
6. Serve with grilled cheese sandwiches and a good television show (a movie rental will suffice).

PS- I didn't have any tomato sauce, so I used some spaghetti sauce (no, it wasn't homemade... that comes later). And of course you can use fresh/canned vegetables... whatever you have on hand or whatever is easiest is/are my motto(s). Oh, and adjust the veggies/meat/liquid to your desired heartiness/consistency. We like stoups -if stews and soups could reproduce- more than soups, so we put lots of "stuff" in.

Meals for the Month (December)

In all honesty, I only have about 25 meals planned, because we'll be visiting family the rest of the month. Another confession: I do not pretend that I follow through on every meal plan that I have ever made, and being the realist that is me, I don't plan on following through. So, in addition to my shopping tips, feel free to pick up a can of soup, a frozen dinner, or set aside some money to go out to dinner (yay for dollar menus)! Something is always bound to fall through and I can guarantee that there will be days that no one feels like cooking anything! With that said, here's my meal list for this month. If you are interested in what my shopping list looks like, then please let me know and I can get it to you. As of now though, I'll hold off on posting it.

I've also created a meal methodology, because it's how my brain works. This month I kept it relatively simple. But last month I had every day setup as stovetop/crockpot/bake days. But here's this month's key:
Crockpot Meals- gotta love those slow cookers! Brilliant!
TGIF/FunNight Meals- usually soup with grilled cheese (bread and cheese is a luxury in our family, so it makes our nights extra special and fun).
LEFTOVERS- with many people traveling this month, it's important to make sure your fridge is cleaned out, not just thrown out. Especially if you have two small fridges like me... Leftovers come before the next shopping spree (I go 2-3 times a month) and any vacation.
Veggie Nights- to help save money otherwise spent on what I like to call, expensive proteins (aka. meat), and to help save your heart/body and soul :) Let's hear it for vegetables!!!
Also worth mentioning: Sunday Meals- We'd like to grill on Sundays with the rest of the Peppy Gang (or else a dinner invite; please oh please oh please). Most likely, we will be eating those planned-for-failed-planning meals I mentioned.

And without further adieu, here is my beloved list. I'll come back every now and then and link each meal to its respective recipe, m'k?

Friday-1: Hearty Tomato Stoup w/ Grilled Cheese Sammies
Saturday-2: Those Crazy Poultry! Tacos
Sunday-3: Chicken Parm... igiana w/ pasta and My Marinara

Monday-4: Veggies and Rice (yogurt peanut sauce)
Tuesday-5: Pecan Crusted Chicken Salad
Wednesday-6: Hamburgers & Onion Rings
Thursday-7: Broccoli soup
Friday-8: Skillet Pizza
Saturday-9: Chicken Enchiladas
Sunday-10: Grilling w/ Fancy Schmancy Rice and some Vegs.

Monday-11: Italian Stew
Tuesday-12: Thai-Vietnamese Salad
Wednesday-13: Sloppy Joe-Schmoes w/ Spiced Fries
Thursday-14: Chicken Taco Filling
Friday-15: Thirteen Bean Soup w/ Cornbread Muffins and Honey Butter
Saturday-16: LEFTOVERS
Sunday-17: Grilling w/ Fancy Schmancy Rice and some Vegs.

Monday-18: Meat Loaf
Tuesday-19: Spicy Chic- Buffalo Sandwiches
Wednesday-20: Nachos
Thursday-21: Chicken Crock Pie
Friday-22: Salad: Blue Cheese, Toasted Walnuts and Sweetness
Saturday-23: LEFTOVERS w/ a reward (aka dessert: Coconut Balls)
Sunday- 24, Christmas Eve: Tortilla Soup w/ Grilled Cheese Sammies (dessert: Hot Caramel Apples)

Monday-25, Christmas morning: Pumpkin Spiced Pancakes and Hot Minty Malts