The Great 2012 Cooking Extravaganza day 299-305 (week 44)

November 4, 2012 at 10:02 pm (Food, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Hello again friends, and welcome back!  Hope you all had an amazing week, and were inspired by something, anything at all, to do something new or interesting.  I’ve been trying all kinds of new things lately, and it’s been awesome!

For starters, technically, on paper at least, I’m still the scout-master of the cub scout pack William was in last school year.  So, I get things in the mail, like the ID cards for the new scouts this year, so I had to trek out to the scout meeting Monday night, kind of got sucked into a conversation with some of the current scout moms, was there a LITTLE longer than the 5 minutes I had planned on.

Halloween was Tuesday, and that always makes things interesting.  Got home from work, with William, at about 5:30.  Not even close to dark yet, but kids being kids, he was a little anxious to get out there and start collecting candy.  So, quick dinner of a sandwich and chips for him, and off we went to his friend’s house so they could go together.  We get there, his dad had made chili, and since I didn’t actually get to eat, I had some.   Ummm…  I’m not much for spicy food, but I was SO hungry, I ate more than I probably should have, even though my mouth was burning from the first bite.  I didn’t want to be rude, but it really wasn’t my thing!  I think I need to find a chili recipe I like, and play with it until it’s the way I like chili!!  Anyway, we had to wait around a little for a couple other boys to show up, but not long, they were all excited!  And for the first time I can remember, I didn’t take the boys out!!  William’s friend Noah’s dad took them all, they were gone for over an hour, and they came back very happy with their haul!  Then all the adults got to sit around and talk while the boys played video games for about an hour, very nice!  We don’t have many friends outside of work and family, so this was really a nice change for us.

Before I forget, here’s the pumpkin I made for the office:

I did decoupage with construction paper leaves, sprinkled on a little glitter, painted some veins on the leaves, added some cute wire spirals on top and hung paper bats from them.

So, the rest of the week was relatively quiet on the home front.  Mike had a good week at work, including working Saturday at the travelling Vietnam wall, (did I mention he works for the VA?) met some nice folks, made some good contacts for work.

End of the month for me is always a little hectic, but was relatively calm this time around.  My vendors did mostly what they were supposed to do, I found out some new computer tricks for them for using the company website, so it was actually a good week!  While Mike was working Saturday, I spent the day doing little chores around the house, cleaned the cat box, kept laundry going, did dishes, cleaned up the kitchen, got ready for cooking today.  Got blood work done, VOTED, picked up prescriptions, did my nails, too!  But I didn’t try to do it all one right after the other like I usually do, I took little breaks between chores, so I didn’t feel like I had been running all day, felt good to have things done!  Didn’t make the curtains I was supposed to make for my friend, but I got so much cooking done today, I should be able to knock them out tomorrow after work.

Oh, and since I finished that blue cuff bracelet last weekend, I started a new one in golds and browns, looks very classy so far.  I’m really liking it!!  Part of yesterday, though, was sorting out some beads, taking some of the cuff bases I made last weekend and putting together beads with the cuffs in bags, so I’m ready to start the next one as soon as this one is done.  I am SO loving this bead embroidery!  I conquered my fear of it, and it’s AWESOME!

So, I know you’re here for the food, not the gossip, so I guess I should get to it!  Here we go…

Monday

Parmesan Orzo

1/2 box Orzo pasta, cooked to package directions

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 stick butter, melted

Melt butter in the hot pan from the pasta, add back the pasta and the cheese, mix well.  Serve!

Chicken Sausage

1 package chicken sausage, cut into rounds, then the rounds cut into quarters

Pan fry until browned and almost crispy.  Serve over your favorite pasta!

Steamed veggies

No broccoli at the store when I went shopping, so we had peas, green beans and carrots.  Nothing fancy, just cooked in the microwave. Fill a microwave safe dish with veggie of choice, add a little butter, salt and pepper, microwave on HIGH 5 minutes for a small bowl, about 1/2 a bag, or 7 minutes for a large bowl, or a whole bag.  Comes out perfect every time!

Tuesday

I will be totally honest, I forgot to write it down, and whatever it was, it was so BLAH, I don’t remember what it was!

Wednesday

Sandwiches and candy!  Hope you all had a HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!

Thursday

Chicken Fillet Sandwiches

2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 cup flour

1/8 cup Everglades seasoning (orange one this time, could have used a little more!)

3 eggs

Oil for frying

Bread or tortillas, your choice!

Trim any excess skin or fat from chicken, cut into strips about 1/2″ wide, the full thickness of the breast.

Place the pieces between two layers of plastic wrap, and pound them to about 1/4 in thick or less with a meat hammer.

Beat the eggs and put them in a wide shallow dish.

Mix the flour and seasoning in another wide shallow bowl.

Dip the chicken pieces first in the egg, then in the flour.

Fry in a skillet over medium heat, about 3-4 minutes per side, or until golden brown.

Serve on bread or wrapped in a tortilla, with your favorite sauce and toppings!  YUM!

Steamed Veggies

Once again, green beans, peas and carrots.

Friday

Braised Pork Chops

4 boneless pork chops

1 can diced tomatoes

1 packet Flavor Boost veggie flavor

1 Tsp garlic powder

Preheat a deep pan over medium heat.  Sear pork chops without any added fat until browned on both sides.  The fat on the chops is enough!  Add in tomatoes with all their liquid, flavor packet, garlic, and salt and pepper to your taste.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer about 15 minutes or until chops are done through.  Serve with a little of the tomato sauce and some Parmesan cheese, YUM!!

Biscuits

Sorry, not homemade, canned, but still yummy!

Steamed Veggies

The usual, green beans, peas and carrots, but I glazed the carrots with a little brown sugar this time.

Here’s my plate:

Saturday

Bacon Cheeseburger Roll

Got this idea from a post I saw on Facebook, but theirs was for a taco roll…

1 pound ground beef

2 cans crescent rolls

1 pound bacon

About 1 cup shredded cheese

Corn meal to sprinkle on pizza stone

Cut bacon into bite sized pieces, cook until crispy, set aside.

Cook ground beef until no longer pink, drain, mix in bacon.

While those are cooking, sprinkle a pizza stone with a little cornmeal to keep the roll dough from sticking.  Separate the crescent rolls into triangles.  Lay them on the pizza stone, overlapping towards the center, so that the sort of look like a flower, skinny ends out towards the edges.  Press the overlapping pieces together, and flatten them as much as you can towards the center, fill the hole if you can!

Sprinkle on about 1/3 of the cheese, then spoon in the meat mixture.  You MIGHT have a little leftover, depends on how much you want to pile up the meat.

Fold the outer “petals” of dough into the center, pressing them into the middle.  Top with remaining cheese.

Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes, cover with foil for the first half, remove for the second half.

Microwave Chocolate Chip Cookies (for the boys)

1 egg yolk

1 Tbsp butter, melted

1 Tbsp sugar

1 Tbsp brown sugar

3 drops vanilla

1/4 cup flour

2 Tbsp chocolate chips

Mix egg yolk, sugars, vanilla and butter together until smooth.  Add in flour, working into a soft dough.  Work in chips.  Microwave on HIGH 50 seconds.  Allow to cook at least 2 minutes before serving!

Apple Cherry Microwave Dessert

1 small apple

1/4 cup dried cherries

1/8 cup brown sugar

1/8 cup oats

1 Tbsp melted butter

Core apple, cut into small slices, place in microwave safe dish.  Add in butter, brown sugar, oats.  Microwave on HIGH 1 minute.  Add in cherries, stir well, microwave on HIGH another 1-3 minutes, depending on your microwave.  Cook until cherries are plump, and apples are soft.  Mine took 1 minute, but some microwaves might take more.  Allow to cool at least 3 minutes!  Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, it’s AWESOME!

Sunday

Or should I say COOKING DAY!  Wow, I feel like I accomplished so much today!

Sausage Egg and Cheese Casserole

12 eggs

1 cup half and half

3 Tbsp flour

4 sausage patties

1 cup shredded cheese

Spray a 13″ x 9″ casserole dish with butter flavor cooking spray.

Thaw sausage patties, cut into VERY small pieces.  Put in the prepared dish.

Mix eggs, half and half, flour and shredded cheese together.  Pour over sausage in prepared dish.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, or until golden brown and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

For us, I let this cool completely, cut it into 8 pieces, and put them in containers for quick breakfasts on the run during the week.

Bread Machine Focaccia

1 Cup warm water

3 cups flour (I did 2 cups white bread flour and 1 cup wheat flour)

1 Tsp salt

1 1/2 Tsp olive oil

2 Tsp dried oregano (or in my case, I didn’t have oregano, so I used Italian seasoning mix)

1 1/2 Tsp bread machine yeast

Put all this in the bread machine, in the order listed, set machine to DOUGH and turn it on.

When done, turn dough out onto a floured surface.

Oil a jelly roll pan, or like I did a pizza pan.  Stretch and press dough into pan, cover and let rise for 40-45 minutes or until doubled.

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Poke the dough with your finger tips creating small indentations.

Mix 3 Tbsp olive oil, 1 Tbsp minced garlic, sprinkle over dough.  Then spinkle over 1/2 Cup grated Parmesan cheese and 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley.  Bake at 400 degrees 25-30 minutes or until deep golden brown.  Cool completely, cut into wedges and serve.

Potato and Parsnip Gratin

3 large potatoes

4 medium parsnips

Parmesan cheese

1 cup half and half

Salt and pepper to taste

Garlic powder

Wash and peel potatoes.  Slice on a mandolin.  Pour over some salted water to keep from browning.

Wash and peel parsnips and slice on the mandolin.

Spray a 13″ x 9″ casserole dish with butter flavor cooking spray.

Start layering potatoes in the bottom of the dish.  Layer in parsnips. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, Parmesan cheese.  Repeat.  Should have four layers of potatoes and parsnips.  Pour on half and half, press down to work out air bubbles and make sure the cream is saturated into the layers.  Top with a little extra Parmesan.  Cover with tin foil.  Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, remove foil, bake another 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are soft to a fork.  Serve!

I actually let these cool, cut into 8 servings, and put them in containers for later in the week.

Perfect Baked Potatoes

Wash and dry large baking potatoes, however many you want to cook.  Poke holes all the way around the potato.

Coat with a little olive oil, sprinkle with a little salt.  Now, you can put them right on the rack in the oven, or you can put them in a pan.  In the pan takes just a little longer, but I like it better because they are easier to handle as a group rather than one at a time.

Bake at 350 degrees for at least an hour, longer if needed depending on how big your potatoes are.  Mine were so big, I cooked them for an hour and a half, and they could have used a little more time.  They are done when you can cut them open, give them a little squeeze, and they pop open nice and fluffy.

Serve with your favorite toppings!

Potato and Parsnip Chips

So, I had a few slices of potatoes and parsnips leftover from making the gratin, and William has been asking for parsnip chips (hard to believe, but it’s true!), so I made some.

Heat about 1″ deep oil in a small saucepan over medium heat, drop in a handful of EITHER parsnips or potatoes, they do take different amounts of time to cook.  Potatoes take about 3-5 minutes to cook, parsnips take 1-2 minutes to cook.  Remove from heat, sprinkle with a little salt, and serve!

Chicken Fillets

2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 cup flour

1/8 cup Everglades seasoning (green this time)

3 eggs

Oil for frying

Bread or tortillas, your choice!

Trim any excess skin or fat from chicken, cut into strips about 1/2″ wide, the full thickness of the breast.

Place the pieces between two layers of plastic wrap, and pound them to about 1/4 in thick or less with a meat hammer.

Beat the eggs and put them in a wide shallow dish.

Mix the flour and seasoning in another wide shallow bowl.

Dip the chicken pieces first in the egg, then in the flour.

Fry in a skillet over medium heat, about 3-4 minutes per side, or until golden brown.

Serve on bread or wrapped in a tortilla, with your favorite sauce and toppings!  YUM!

Pan Fried Steaks

2 New York strip steaks

2 Tbsp butter

Salt and pepper

Large skillet, over medium heat, melt butter, add steaks, sprinkle with salt and pepper, cook about 7 minutes per side for medium well.  Boy were these good!  Sorry, didn’t get photos, but I was pretty proud of how they came out.  I think it’s probably been 20 years since I’ve done a steak this way!

Steamed Veggies

The usual, green beans, peas, carrots.

So, all in all, a very busy day, but a really good one!  I had FUN!!

And to end the post, here are the nails for this week…

So that’s it for this week!  Hope you all found something inspiring here…

Until next time, eat well, love well, live well!

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The Great 2012 Cooking Extravaganza! Day 271 – 277 (Week 40)

October 8, 2012 at 10:25 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Hello again friends, and welcome back!  Hope you’ve all had a perfectly wonderful week, and a glorious weekend!  Here we are at Monday again, I know, I’m behind, but I think you’ll forgive me…

Last week was interesting.  Work was crazy, end of the month always is, but this one was crazier than the last few.  Half our group is new people, less than 3 months in, and the senior coordinator was out for the week, so I became the go-to person.  I know I am approachable, I try very hard to be that way, but I felt like there were whole days where I didn’t get any of my own work done because I was so busy answering everyone else’s questions!  It’s nice to be needed again, but come on…

Anyway, all the family were relatively healthy for a change, knock on wood!  William didn’t miss any school.  Mike missed one day of work, but I think it was more of a mental health kind of day.  James got called in for extra hours at his job, makes for a nice pay check.  I think I need to plan a day off, just for me…

So I did a little cooking during the week, nothing Earth shattering, but some fun new dishes.  Of course, I pretty much HAD to cook considering I spent almost $500 in groceries last weekend.  But it all came in handy, and I got to try out the new recipes!  YEAH!  Looking forward to trying even more new stuff this weekend, trying to put together a plan for what I want to cook, make sure I have everything I need on hand.  Working on trimming down the shopping list, trimming down the grocery budget, and maybe trimming down the family a little!

Anyway, here we go…

Monday

Mongolian Beef

1/2 lb beef tenderloin, thinly sliced against the grain

1 Tbsp corn starch

2 cloves minced garlic

1/4 tsp ground ginger

3 Tbsp soy sauce

1 1/2 Tbsp honey or agave nectar or sugar

1 tsp rice wine or dry sherry

2 Tbsp water

3 green onions, cut into 1″ pieces, green part only

1-2 Tbsp vegetable oil or canola oil

Stir together soy sauce, honey, water and wine.  Set aside.

Heat oil in pan over medium heat.  Dredge the beef in corn starch, shake off the excess.  Add the beef to the hot pan and quickly saute until lightly browned.

Add in garlic and ginger, saute for a few seconds.  Add the sauce you set aside earlier.  The sauce should quickly come to a boil.  Lower heat and simmer, stirring constantly.  Continue to cook until the sauce thickens and glazes the beef.

Toss in the green onions at the last minute, mix, and serve!

Adapted from a recipe I found on cHow Divine http://www.chowdivine.com

Sorry, I didn’t get photos, but then mine didn’t look anywhere near as pretty as hers did!  But it was yummy…

Orange Chicken

4 boneless skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess skin and fat (as much as you can without being too anal) and cut into bite sized pieces

1 Tbsp orange flavoring

1 Tbsp garlic, minced

1 Tsp ground ginger

2 Tbsp honey

1 Tsp corn starch

2 Tbsp vegetable oil plus 1 Tsp sesame oil for frying

Put the oils in a large skillet, heat on medium.  Add in chicken, saute until no longer pink.  Add in orange, garlic, ginger, honey and corn starch, mixing well to coat chicken, sauce will thicken quickly.  When chicken is done through, remove from heat and serve!  Really good with fresh steamed rice…

Vegetable Egg Rolls

1 head cabbage, shredded very fine

12 baby carrots, shredded very fine

2 Tbsp Hoisin sauce

1 Tbsp teriyaki sauce

1 Pkg egg roll wrappers

Oil for frying

Mix cabbage, carrots and sauces together.  Spoon about 2 Tbsp of the mixture into an egg roll wrapper, fold up bottom and tuck in filling.  Fold in two side corners, dampen final corner and roll closed.

Fry about 2 minutes per side in hot oil until golden brown.  Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.

Left over rolls (those supper yummy half whole wheat Virginia light rolls I made last weekend…)

Tuesday

SW Egg rolls with cheese

I had made about 3 dozen of those south west style egg rolls with the taco seasoned beef and black beans inside, we had 17 left after our little munch fest.  Well, I put those in a big deep pan, covered them with shredded cheese and baked them at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.  They crisped up a little on the exposed edges, but sort of tasted like mini burritos with the melted cheese, and made for a nice meal!

Wednesday

Pork Chops Everglades

6 boneless skinless porkchops

Everglades original seasoning (the green kind)

Heat a large skillet over medium, add in the chops.  Sprinkle over Everglades seasoning instead of salt and pepper, make sure you sprinkle both sides (when you turn them).  I have no idea how much we used, but it sort of looked like we had used it in place of salt and pepper, so liberally sprinkled, but not coated with seasoning.  Saute until done through and browned on the outside.

Sauteed green beans with garlic

About 1/2 lb fresh green beans, ends removed, cut into 1″ pieces

1 Tbsp minced garlic

3 Tbsp butter

Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat, add in garlic, mix a little, add in green beans and saute about 10 minutes or until beans are bright green and crisp tender.  Serve!

Fruit Salad

This was a fun fruit salad for me, because William helped me cut up everything!

1 medium Gala apple

1 medium Bartlett pear

1 medium Dragon fruit

About 30 large red grapes

Cut the apple and the pear into 8th wedges, remove seed cores, slice into thin bite sized pieces.

Cut dragon fruit in half.  Spoon white seeded core out of pink skin, making sure to remove all the skin pieces, it’s not edible.  Cut white fruit into small bite sized pieces.

Cut grapes into quarters.

Toss all this together, and serve!

Thursday

Jet’s Pizza

Yeah, we had take out…  we needed a night off!

Friday

Bacon Cheeseburgers

1 lb ground beef

1/2 lb bacon (about 8 pieces)

1 egg

Salt and pepper to taste

Sliced cheese of your choice

Burger buns

Mix ground beef, egg, salt and pepper together, mix VERY well, until beef is really smooth rather than crumbly.  Form into 4 patties.  Fry in a large pan over medium heat, flipping as needed to keep from burning.  Cook until medium well, or however YOU like your burgers.  We like ours ever so slightly pink at the very center and slightly crispy on the outside.

Cook the bacon crispy, break each piece in half, give each burger four half strips of bacon, cheese and toppings of your choice, serve on fresh burger buns, YUM!

Tots – yeah, frozen tots, cooked to package directions, whichever way you like to cook them.  I prefer them fried, but that’s not very healthy, so I usually bake them…  boring, but OK.

Saturday

Fried Chicken Nuggets

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into small tenders or large nuggets, your choice

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/4 cup Everglades seasoning (the orange version this time)

1 Tbsp fresh ground black pepper

Heat 3-4 Tbsp vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

Mix the flour and seasonings together in a large shallow bowl.  Add the chicken a few pieces at a time to this mix, let it sit for a minute or two on each side.  Shake off any excess and add to hot pan.  Cook about 4-5 minutes per side, or until done through.  Remove to paper towel lined serving dish.  Cook in batches until all chicken is done.  Serve!

Chicken gravy – made from a mix, yes I cheated a little, but it wasn’t thickening the way I wanted, so I added some of the flour mixture from coating the chicken, made it really tasty!

steamed veggies – broccoli, peas, green beans

Microwave Brownies

4 Tbsp flour

4 Tbsp sugar

2 Tbsp cocoa powder

2 Tbsp oil

2 Tbsp water

Pinch salt

Mix everything together in a coffee mug or shallow bowl.  You can add in a few chocolate chips or some nuts if you want, just don’t go overboard on the chocolate chips, it doesn’t cook as well.  We’ve been adding about 2 Tbsp chocolate chips and about a dozen nuts.  I like pecans, Mike likes almonds, they both work well!

Microwave 1 minute plus 10-15 seconds, allow to cook 5 minutes before serving.

Really good with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top!

Sunday

We went to Mom’s to celebrate Dad’s birthday, a couple weeks late, but at least we didn’t take all those colds and infections over there with us!  Burgers, baked beans, potato salad, chips…  LOVE picnic food!!

Oh, and I did my nails Saturday, between loads of laundry, tell me what you think!

Had fun with this one!

Anyway, that’s it for last week…  Already working on this week, probably not a lot new, but some good stuff nonetheless…

Until then, eat well, love well, live well!!

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The Great 2012 Cooking Extravaganza! Day 196

July 17, 2012 at 9:18 pm (Food) (, , , , , )

Hello again friends, and welcome back!!  Hope you had a Terrific Tuesday, I sure did!

Work was work, kind of slow today, but once again I volunteered for something just so I wasn’t sitting at my desk trying to hide the fact that I was watching a movie on my iPod!!  But I would rather be busy any day…

The boys actually did stuff together today, and didn’t kill each other!  WOW!  In fact, they went to Walmart together to fill water jugs, and came home to go back into James’ room to play a video game.  Somehow I think maybe my kids were abducted by aliens and these are their replacements…

Seems like Mike had a good day at work, got home late but I think that was the traffic.  He’s relaxing with a comic book or two right now.

Just finished poking around on Facebook, watching Batman Begins, at the part where Bruce figures out where the bats are coming from, the beginning of the Batcave…

Was thinking about shutting off the computer and working on something crafty when I realized I hadn’t written tonight’s entry here, so here I am!

Dinner tonight was unexpected, and unexpectedly good!  You are going to like this, if you try it…

Everglades Chicken with Apples

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 Granny Smith apple

12 baby carrots

5 green onions

Everglades seasoning for chicken (there are actually different kinds, get the fish/chicken kind for this recipe)

Olive oil cooking spray

Remove excess skin and fat from chicken, cut into small bite sized pieces.  Put into cold skillet, spray with olive oil cooking spray, sprinkle with Everglades seasoning until well coated but not drowning in seasoning.  Mix well.

Cook over medium heat until chicken is about half way done.

While that’s heating up, core the apple, cut into 8 wedges, and cut those into thin small slices.  Set aside.  Cut carrots into thin rounds, set aside.  Remove root ends from onions, cut into rounds from the white end up until the dark green section of the onion.  Disgard any remaining that you don’t have another use for. (I use the greens for flavoring in broth and pot roast)

Once the chicken is about half way done, add this fruit and veggie mixture to the pan, saute chicken and veggies until chicken is done, apple is soft and carrots are crisp-tender.  Because of the juices in the apples, you actually end up steaming the chicken towards the end.

Served this over some reheated left over rice, YUM!!!

That Everglades seasoning has just enough heat that you get a little kick after a few bites, but not so much that you don’t want to eat the meal.  And just enough flavor that you want to keep coming back for more!  Even William liked the chicken, and that’s saying something.  Now if I could just get him interested in the apples and carrots!  Oh well, maybe next time.

Anyway, good meal, just enough left over that I think I have lunch tomorrow, unless Mike eats it for breakfast, LOL!

So until tomorrow, eat well, love well, live well!!

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The Great 2012 Cooking Extravaganza! Day 125

May 6, 2012 at 10:25 pm (Food) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Hello again friends, and welcome back!  Hope you all had a spectacular weekend!

Well, what can I say…  It’s been an interesting weekend!  The craft show yesterday, and then we tried to do something cool today, but it just didn’t work out, so I cooked and chopped and did laundry and puttered around the house…

We got up early, not too early, but early for a Sunday for us, made a nice breakfast of pancakes, scrambled eggs with cheese, and sausage.  Got everyone ready to go, and out we went.  Up to the movie theater we go, thinking we might be able to get tickets to The Avengers…  YEAH RIGHT!  The show we were trying for, and the next two shows, were sold out, and there was a line!  There’s NEVER a line on Sunday mornings!!  ARGHHHHH!!  So we headed back home, I dropped off the boys, and headed off to Walmart to get groceries for the week.  Not what we had planned, but what needed to be done.  Got a trash can for outside, only been here almost six years, no rush right?  Got a new pair of shoes for work, something comfortable but not sloppy.  (had to throw out a couple pairs of “work” shoes recently, they finally wore out)  And then…

I cut up lettuce, tomatoes, green pepper for salads.  Watermelon and cantaloupe for my fruits this week. (last couple of weeks have been pineapple, papaya and mango plus red grapes, but the last pineapple wasn’t that great, so I’m thinking the season is over.)  I shredded cabbage in my handy little chopper I got for Christmas, I can use that in salads, in recipes, or make some cole slaw.  I sliced up some nice young yellow squash, made a couple of steamer bags for a lunch or dinner.  Then put my pork chops in a marinade to soak for a while before dinner.

Next, I made mini meatloaves for later in the week, had everything thawed out, had to cook it, figured it will be a quick dinner later this week, or lunches for someone.  Here’s the recipe in case you missed it the last time:

Mini meatloaves

1 cup ketchup

4 tbsp packed brown sugar

1 tsp ground mustard

2 eggs, beaten

4 tsp Worchestershire sauce

3 cups bread crumbs, cracker crumbs, corn flake crumbs (basically whatever type of filler you like)

3 tsp onion powder or flakes

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 tsp garlic powder

3 pounds lean ground beef, or mixed beef and sausage (mix 2:1 beef and sausage)

In large bowl, combine ketchup, brown sugar and mustard. Remove 1/2 cup to be used on top of cooked loaves. Add eggs, Worchestershire, cereal/bread crumbs, seasonings.  Mix well, let set for 5 mins.  Add meat(s) and mix very well.

Press mixture into 18-24 muffin cups and bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.  Drizzle/top with remaining sauce mixture reserved earlier. Bake 10 minutes longer, or until meat thermometer reads 160 degrees.

Leftover loaves are freezeable!  Thaw frozen loaves and reheat at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Can also be microwaved for 1 minute each.

And here’s what I did for dinner:

Marinated Pork Chops with Fruit

6-8 boneless pork chops

Good Seasons Italian dressing (make with olive oil and apple cider vinegar)

1 Granny Smith apple

1 D’Anjou pear

10-12 baby carrots

2 Tbsp butter

Mix up some Good Seasons Italian dressing (using olive oil and apple cider vinegar) per the package directions.  Place 6-8 boneless pork chops in a 9 x 13 baking dish, pour the entire bottle of dressing over the chops, pick up each chop to make sure some of the dressing gets underneath as well, and put the dish in the fridge for a few hours at least.  Mine set for about 4 hours all together.

Core and 8th both the apple and the pear.  Slice each 8th into small slices.  Slice the baby carrots into rounds.

In one pan, cook the apple, pear, carrots in butter until soft but not mush.

In another pan, cook the pork chops until done through.

Place the chops on a serving platter, top with the fruit mixture, serve!

I kept some of the apples, pears and carrots out of the pan and served them on top of the salad, keeping those flavors going in different dishes.  It actually worked really well!

I also had some baked potatoes around, since I cooked a whole bag of them last weekend and froze most of them so I would have them around.  The recipe for these is REALLY simple, but makes GREAT baked potatoes!

Perfect Baked Potato (I actually found this recipe on the web)

1 bag (5 lbs) baking potatoes (Russets work really well)

Olive oil

Kosher salt

Wash the potatoes well, and remove any eyes.  Dry them!!  Rub the potatoes with olive oil, pierce once on each side (total four sets of fork holes) then sprinkle liberally with Kosher salt.

Now this next part is up to you, but I prefer pans…

Bake either directly on the oven rack, or in a pan.  The only drawback to the pans is you have to cook a few minutes longer.  And if you do like I did and cook a whole bag at one time, it takes a LOT longer! (almost 2 hours total, but SO worth it!)

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour on the rack, or 1 hour 15 minutes in a pan.  Turn once about half way through to ensure even cooking and no hard spots in the skin.

When done (you can tell by poking with a fork, when it’s easy to poke it’s done) serve!  Cut it open, top it with your favorite combination of toppings, or keep it simple with butter and salt.

You can freeze them after they are cooked, and reheat in the microwave using the baked potato setting (about 7 minutes) from frozen, or thaw and reheat about 3 minutes in the microwave.

Anyway, it was a cooking kind of day, and somehow I missed making William’s lunch sandwiches, so I guess I know what I’m doing in the morning!  Had enough today…

Until tomorrow, eat well, love well, live well!

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The Great 2012 Cooking Extravaganza! Day 55

February 26, 2012 at 12:52 am (Food) (, , , , , , , , , )

Hello again friends, and welcome back!

Feeling much better tonight, so I cooked!!!  And it was fun, tasty, and popular!!  WOO HOO!  Everyone got something they liked, which is always a challenge around here…  So here’s the menu:

Taco Muffins

1 Pkg canned biscuits (I used Great Value, of course), 10 biscuits per can

1 pound ground chuck

2/3 cup cold water

1/4 cup taco seasoning

1/4 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese (again, I used Great Value brand)

Butter flavor cooking spray

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray 10 muffin cups with cooking spray.  Flatten the biscuit dough with your fingers, make it as flat as you can, and place it in a muffin cup.  It should cover most of the way up the sides of the cup.

Brown the ground chuck, drain excess fat, add in water and taco seasonings.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer about 10 minutes or until sauce is thickened.  Spoon meat mixture into biscuit lined cups, should use up as much of the meat mixture as possible without overflowing cups, might have a few tablespoons left over.  Top with shredded cheese, using all the cheese across all the muffins.

Bake 8-10 minutes or until cheese is melted and biscuit cup is browned.  Serve!

Sausage Sandwiches

1 roll crescent dough

1/2 pound Italian sausage, skins removed

2 slices Provolone cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line baking pan with parchment paper.  Unroll crescent dough on lined pan.  Break into four rectangles, pinching diagonal seams together.

Brown sausage, separating into small (less than bite sized) pieces, make sure it’s cooked through.

Split cheese slices in half, place one half slice on one end of each dough rectangle.  Top with a couple spoonfuls of cooked sausage.  Fold over dough into shorter rectangles, seal edges by pressing with a fork all the way around.  (You can also add a couple spoonfuls of spaghetti sauce if you want, but I didn’t this time.)

Bake at 400 degrees 15-18 minutes. Serve with dipping sauce!

Apple Pie Bites

1 pkg rolled pie crust

1/2 can apple pie filling

1/2 cup sugar

2 Tsp cinnamon

3 Tbsp melted butter

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Mix sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl, set aside about 2 Tbsp.

Unroll pie crust one at a time, brush with melted butter, sprinkle with half the cinnamon sugar mixture.  Cut with a pizza wheel into 8 pie shaped wedges.  Place a full apple slice with a little of the sauce on the outer edge of each “pie slice”, roll inward towards points.  Place on parchment lined baking sheet.  Repeat with second pie crust.  Brush rolls with melted butter and sprinkle with remaining cinnamon sugar.  Bake 13-15 minutes or until edges of pie crusts are lightly browned. (mine actually took about 17 minutes total)

Serve warm, with or without ice cream or whipped cream.

Hope you all enjoyed one or all of these recipes!  We certainly did!!  🙂

Until tomorrow, eat well, love well, live well!

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The Great 2012 Cooking Extravaganza! Day 41

February 12, 2012 at 12:32 am (Food) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Hello again, and welcome back!

Tonight, we used some leftovers from the past few nights to create some new and delicious dishes, and added a few new things just because we could.  I say “we”, because not everything was my idea, but I did all the cooking!  So, here we go!

Egg Rolls

Egg roll wrappers (found in the fresh food section at Walmart, you know, where the salad stuff is!)

Filling:

Roasted pork cut into very small pieces, about 2 cups (left over from Asian pork roast a couple nights ago)

Cabbage, shredded VERY fine, 2 cups

Carrots, shredded VERY fine, 1/2 cup

1/2 tsp ground ginger

2 Tbsp soy sauce

1/4 cup finely diced green onion

Mix together all the filing ingredients, place about 2 tbsp onto egg roll wrapper diagonally, fold over first corner, fold in two side corners, moisten final corner and fold over to seal.  Fry in hot oil, about 2-3 minutes per side, or until golden brown and crispy.  Remove from oil, place on paper towels to drain, serve.

Home Made Croutons

I had two leftover french bread loaves, they’ve been in the fridge for two weeks, and they were heading for the trash, when I said wait a minute, I saw someone on Food Network make home made croutons with stale bread, so I’m going to give it a try!  So, I cut up both loaves into small cubes, about 1/2″ across, placed them in a pan, sprinkled them with olive oil and spices, then cooked them.  30 minutes at 350 degrees, stirring half way through cooking.  They came out really well!

Fried Rice

About 2 cups cooked rice (also left over from the night we had Asian pork roast)

3-4 Tbsp oil

1 egg, beaten

Finely diced or shredded veggies of your choice (I had cabbage and carrots left over from the egg rolls above), about 1 cup

Finely diced green onion, about 1/4 cup

1 cup frozen peas, thawed

1 Pkg fried rice seasoning

2 Tbsp soy sauce

Place oil in large pan, a wok if you have one!  Heat over medium heat, add rice and cook 2-3 minutes or just until hot.  Push rice to one side of pan, pour in egg and cook/scramble.  Mix into rice.  Add shredded/diced veggies, cook 1-2 minutes.  Add in seasoning and soy sauce, cook another 1-2 minutes.  Add in peas, cook another 1-2 minutes, or until everything is nice and hot.  (I also threw in some broccoli I had left in the fridge, and covered the pan the last few minutes just to steam it a little, it was just barely warmed and bright green, VERY crunchy!)  Serve!

Fruit Wontons

Wonton wrappers

Blueberry pie filling

Apple pie filling

Cherry pie filling

1 egg, beaten

Oil for frying

Powdered sugar

Cinnamon sugar (mixed about 1/3 cinnamon to 2/3 sugar)

Place wonton wrappers on a flat surface.

Place 1 tsp pie filling in center of wrapper.

Brush two sides of wrapper with beaten egg.

Fold over diagonally and seal together edges, forming triangles.

Fry 1 minute per side in hot oil.  Sprinkle blueberry or cherry with powdered sugar.  Sprinkle apple with cinnamon sugar.  Serve!  (these are really good warm or cooled, but not good the next day, so don’t make a ton unless you’re having a party!)

YUMMY!!!

Until tomorrow dear friends, eat well, love well, live well!

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