The Great 2012 Cooking Extravaganza day 348-365 (week 51 & 52)

December 30, 2012 at 11:51 pm (Food, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Hello again friends, and welcome back!!

Well, we made it through the year, made some new friends along the way, and had some fun!  I’ve really enjoyed trying out new recipes, sharing them with you, and sharing the little ordinary goings-on of our family with you.  I hope you’ve enjoyed the tidbits as well as the food, and found some cool new things to try!!  I know I’ve tried things I never thought I would, and found out I actually LIKE curry!

So here’s our final entry for this blog for this year.  I’ve got a BUNCH of recipes for you, some simple, some not-so-much, but all well worth the effort.  I hope to continue this food blog in 2013, but I don’t think I’m going to focus as much on doing something new every day like this on started out, I think I’m going to try new things every weekend and share those adventures.  Gives me more time to work on my two new blog ideas….

Here are my two new blog ideas for 2013, I’m going to give them a shot and see where they take me.  I’m going to start a new blog doing some product reviews, starting with some of the things I got for Christmas, and then I’m going to have a second blog about jewelry making, share some things I’ve tried, maybe try my hand at doing a tutorial or two on some basic techniques.  Could be fun!  Hope you’ll join me!!

Working names, please let me know what you think!:

Ramblings Meets Reviews!

Nirvana Bay Designs Presents:

So, on to the food….

Chicken Everglades

2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts (or however many you need to feed your crew)

Everglades original seasoning (green)

Fresh ground pepper

Trim any excess skin or fat from the chicken breasts, cut into small bite sized pieces.  Spray a large skillet with olive oil cooking spray, heat over medium heat, add in chicken.  Sprinkle liberally with Everglades seasoning and pepper, I think I use about 2 Tbsp for 2-3 chicken breasts.  More than that is way too salty, but less is sort of bland!  Cook chicken, stirring frequently, until done through.  Serve with sides of your choice!  I usually go for some steamed veggies and maybe some biscuits.

Pork Chops Everglades

4-5 boneless thick cut pork chops

Everglades original seasoning (green)

Fresh ground pepper

Trim any excess fat from the chops, and cut into small bite sized pieces.  Spray a large skillet with olive oil cooking spray, heat over medium heat, add in pork.  Sprinkle liberally with Everglades seasoning and pepper, I think I use about 2 Tbsp for 4-5 chops.  More than that is way too salty, but less is sort of bland!  Cook pork, stirring frequently, until done through.  Serve with sides of your choice!  I went for some rice this time, and some steamed veggies.

Nachos

1 pound ground beef

2/3 cup water

1/4 cup taco seasoning mix

Tortilla chips

1 cup shredded taco blend cheese

1/2 cup salsa (I use mild)

Chopped black olives (optional)

Chopped green pepper (optional)

Brown ground beef in a large skillet, drain excess fat.  Add in water and taco seasoning, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer about 10 minutes.

Arrange tortilla chips on a plate, top with seasoned beef, shredded cheese, and any other toppings you like, everything except the salsa at this point!   Microwave about 1 minute, maybe just a little more or less depending on your microwave, just until cheese melts.  Top with salsa, sour cream, or ranch dressing and serve!

Cheddar Sausage Biscuits

P1060031

3 cups Bisquick

1 pound bulk pork sausage (I used mild, and wish I had used medium!)

4 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup milk

1/2 tsp dried Rosemary leaves

1 1/2 tsp chopped fresh parsley or 1/2 tsp dried parsley flakes

BBQ sauce or Ranch dressing or chili sauce, whatever you like for dipping!

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray bottom and sides of jelly roll pan with olive oil cooking spray.

Stir together all ingredients, mix VERY well.  I had to get in there with my hands to get it mixed right.  Shape into 1 inch balls, a cookie scoop works really well for this, wish I had had one when I was doing this!  Place in pan, right up against each other, but don’t squish them together.

Bake 25 minutes or until brown and slightly crispy.  Remove from pan to paper towel lined platter.  Serve warm with dipping sauce.

Makes about 8 dozen balls.

Corn Pudding

1 can creamed corn

1 cup milk

2 tbsp flour

2 tbsp butter, melted

1/4 cup sugar

3 eggs

Dash of salt

Heat oven to 325 degrees.

Beat eggs, sugar and flour together.  Add corn, butter, salt and milk.  Pour into buttered (or in my case, butter flavor cooking sprayed) 13″ x 9″ dish.  Bake at 325 degrees approximately 50 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

NOTE: if you double this recipe, you will have to cook it about an extra 20-30 minutes for the center to set right.

Oatmeal Scotchies

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1 stick plus 6 tbsp butter, softened

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

3 cups oats (Quick cooking or not, doesn’t really matter, but the consistency of the cookie IS different.  I prefer regular over quick oats)

1 cup butterscotch chips

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream butter, add in sugars and mix well.  Add in eggs and vanilla, mix well.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt.  Slowly add to butter mixture, mix well.

Add in oats and chips, you will have to switch to a spoon rather than a mixer at this point, it gets really thick! (at least I do…  my little hand mixer won’t handle it…)

Dropped by tablespoons onto ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake 8-10 minutes.

OR, spread into a buttered (or sprayed) 13″ x 9″ pan, bake 30 – 35 minutes, cool and cut into bars.

Bulgar Breakfast Squares

2 cups cooked Bulgar wheat (1 cup uncooked = 2 cups cooked)

2/3 cup milk (or fat free half and half!)

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 Tbsp melted butter

1 Tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup dried bananas

1/2 cup dried blueberries

1/2 cup dried cherries

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

First tip, put the dried fruit in with the Bulgar when you cook it, just add about 1/4 cup extra water, softens them up nicely.

Combine everything, spread into a greased (sprayed) 8″ x 8″ baking pan, cover with tin foil, bake 30 minutes.  Allow to cool slightly before trying to cut, serve warm.

You can also prepare this in advance, cool completely, cut into squares and reheat in a microwave.

Snowballs

P1060103

1 cup butter, softened but not melted

1/4 cup sugar

2 cups ground pecans

2 cups sifted flour

1 box confectioners sugar

Heat oven to 300 degrees.

Cream butter.  Add sugar, pecans and flour.  Mix well.  Dough will be VERY stiff.

Shape into tablespoon size balls, again a cookie scoop would have come in very handy here, but I didn’t have one yet.

Place on UNGREASED cookie sheet, bake 45 minutes at 300 degrees.

Remove from oven and immediately roll in confectioners sugar.  Set out to cool on waxed paper over newspaper (to protect your surface!).  Roll again in confectioners sugar when cooled.    Store in a sealed container.

Tollhouse Cookies

P1060102

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2 large eggs

1 10 ounce package chocolate chips

1 cup chopped pecans

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

In one bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt.

In another bowl, cream butter, add sugars, vanilla and eggs, mix well.

Gradually add in flour mixture.

Gently stir in chocolate chips and nuts.

Drop by rounded tablespoons (cookie scoop!) onto ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake 9 – 11 minutes.

OR, do like I did and spread it all into a greased pizza pan, bake 20 – 25 minutes, cool in pan, cut into wedges with a pizza cutter.

Ham and Cheese Quiche

1 frozen pie crust

3 large eggs

1 cup half and half (fat free, of course)

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1 cup diced ham

Heat oven to 425 degrees.

Place pie crust in glass pie plate.  Prick bottom and sides, bake 10 minutes to set.  Remove from oven and cool.

Sprinkle ham and cheese in cooled crust.  Mix eggs, milk and spices in mixing bowl.  Pour over ham and cheese.  Bake 10 minutes at 425 degrees.  Reduce heat to 350 degrees, bake another 30 – 40 minutes, depending on your oven, or until puffy and lightly browned.  Cool about 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Chicken and Pasta

3 large boneless skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces

Olive oil cooking spray

1 Tbsp garlic powder

2 Tsp Italian seasoning blend

Salt and pepper to taste

Spaghetti sauce

Dreamfields Penne pasta, cooked to package directions

Grated Parmesan cheese

Spray skillet with cooking spray, heat over medium heat.  Add in chicken and spices, cover, stir frequently to cook through.  Drain off excess liquid.

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Add sauce and chicken to pasta, serve topped with a little Parmesan!

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Crockpot Chili

2 pounds ground beef, browned and drained

3 cans red kidney beans

1 large can diced tomatoes

1 can tomato sauce

1 diced green pepper

2 Tbsp onion flakes

2 pkgs chili seasoning

Salt and pepper to taste

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Top with a little shredded cheese, sour cream, whatever YOU like on your chili!!

So I think that’s enough for now…

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

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The Great 2012 Cooking Extravaganza! Day 258 – 263 (Week 38)

September 23, 2012 at 10:01 pm (Food) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Hello again friends, and welcome back!  What a week….

William was home sick from school two more days, so he’s now missed 6 days in the first month of school!  I sure hope whatever the heck is going around out there stays the heck away from us!!!  He’s on another round of antibiotics, hopefully this will be the end for a while.

Mike is still fighting off the first bug, using his inhaler a lot, sleeping more than not when he’s not at work.  I feel bad for him, but I’m still fighting it, too.  My chest is still a little tight, but the stuffy nose is all gone and the sore throat with it, so I guess I’m getting better.  Out of antibiotics, so I certainly hope so!!

Work is going better, I’m actually helping to train a new person, so maybe all my uncertainties are all in my own head!  That would be business as usual for me, I’m always my own worst enemy.  I’m still learning new things, so that’s good, and keeps things interesting.

And last but not least, it’s been a busy weekend.  We were supposed to go visit my folks, dad’s birthday today, but since William was sick again, and Mike and I weren’t quite over what we had, we didn’t think it would be the smartest thing we’ve ever done to go over there.  But, we did get laundry done, the kitchen is cleaned up, got the yard cleaned up so maybe the HOA will leave us alone for a while, even got James to come home and help for a bit.  And got what I hope is a nice surprise…  the neighbors pulled up with a trailer, so maybe they are moving out!  That would be the highlight of my year!!!  They never cut their grass, the HOA ends up doing it about once every three months, so the weeds are literally 4-5 feet high before they get cut back, so guess what our yard is full of!  Keep your collective fingers crossed…

So, on to the week in food.  It was a very chickeny week around here, but we tend to eat a lot of chicken, so that’s not really unusual.  Maybe you’ll see something you want to try!

Monday

Chicken and Sausage

3 Boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 rope smoked sausage

1 Jar tomato basil spaghetti sauce

1 Tbsp garlic powder

Cut the sausage into chunks, put it in the crock pot.  Put the chicken in whole.  Add the sauce and garlic.  Set on low, and cook 8-10 hours.

During the last hour, prepare some rice in your rice cooker to manufacturer’s directions, adding a little garlic and chicken flavor boost to the water before you add the rice.  Stir it up before you turn on the cooker.

Remove the chicken and sausage from the crock pot, shred the chicken, cut the sausage into smaller chunks, add it back into the sauce to keep it warm.

Put about 1 cup cooked rice in each bowl, top with chicken, sausage and sauce, and serve!  You can add a little shredded cheese if you want.

This was OK, but it needed something, and I couldn’t figure out what…

We had some steamed broccoli on the side…

Microwave Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 Tbsp melted butter

1 Tbsp white sugar

1 Tbsp brown sugar

3 drops vanilla

1 egg yolk

1/4 cup flour

2 Tbsp chocolate chips

Mix the sugars, egg yolk, butter and vanilla together in a small bowl.  Add in the flour and mix until a thick dough has formed.  Fold in the chocolate chips.

Spray a small ramekin or coffee mug with butter flavor cooking spray, scoop in the prepared dough, microwave 45-60 seconds, and serve!  (Mine cooked for 50 seconds and were perfect)  You can top off with a scoop of ice cream if you like, would be good!!

Bacon Egg and Cheese casserole

12 eggs

1/2 cup Parmesan

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella

1/2 cup shredded cheddar

1/2 cup half and half (fat free)

1 pound bacon, cut into small pieces and cooked crisp

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 13″ x 9″ casserole dish with butter flavor cooking spray.

Mix all the eggs and cheeses together, add the salt and pepper.  Pour into prepared pan.  Sprinkle in cooked bacon, and make sure it sinks in to the eggs.  Cook for 1 hour, testing at 45 minutes to see if done in the center (poke it with a knife, clean = done!).  If you can get it done in 45, then do, but my oven always takes a full hour.

Sorry I didn’t get a “done” shot!  It looked really good.

Allow to cool about half an hour, cut into 8 pieces, package them into individual servings, and you have breakfast for a few days!  Reheat 1 minute in the microwave, loosely covered, salt and pepper if you want, YUM!!!

Tuesday

Curry Chicken

5 boneless skinless chicken thighs

1/2 package Golden Curry seasoning mix

1 cup water

Salt and pepper to taste

Left over rice

1 cup frozen peas

Trim chicken thighs of any large pieces of skin or fat, but leave the little stuff, it’ll cook off.  Cut into bite sized pieces.  Cook in a large skillet over medium heat just until no longer pink.  Add in water, simmer for 10 minutes.  Add in curry seasoning, stir until mixed well, simmer another 10 minutes.  Add in left over rice and frozen peas, cook another 5 minutes, serve!

I had some left over broccoli from the night before, so I reheated that and topped off the bowls with it, except for William’s.

This was really yummy, but then we’re all getting hooked on curry since we first tried it earlier this year.  I’m going to have to find my own mix of spices to make my own curry!!

Wednesday

Mexican night!!

Can you believe, I told William it was Mexican night, and he actually says YEAH!  So here we go…

Frozen burritos topped with enchilada sauce and cheese, baked per package directions, but with my own little twists.

Quesadilla

Flour tortillas

Ground beef

Taco seasoning

Water

Shredded cheese

Butter flavor cooking spray

Cook ground beef until no longer pink, crumbling as you cook.  Drain off excess fat.  Add in about 3/4 cup water and 1/4 cup taco seasoning, stir well, cook until sauce thickens.  Remove from heat.

Preheat large skillet over medium heat, or just a touch lower.  I use the “4” setting on my stove.  Spray pay with cooking spray.  Put in 1 tortilla, spoon in about 3-4 Tbsp prepared beef, top with shredded cheese, top with another tortilla.  Use enough cheese so that the tortillas will stick together!  Cook about 1 minute per side, be careful when you flip it, it can be messy but after a few tries, you learn the tricks to keep them together.  I use two spatulas!

Remove from pan, cut into triangles with a pizza wheel, and serve with sour cream, ranch dressing, salsa, whatever you like!

Thursday

Left Overs

We had some baked potatoes left over from the week before, I had frozen them after I cooked them, they keep pretty well.  We also had curry, chicken and sausage, and some school sandwiches, so everyone got something they liked.

Friday

McDonald’s – yeah, I know, junk food, but I was in the mood!!

Saturday

Pepperoni Pizza Muffins

Mini Pineapple Pizzas

These sort of go together…

2 cans refrigerated biscuits, flattened

1 jar pizza sauce

1 bag pepperoni

1 cup pineapple tidbits (I mean one of those single serve cups, not a whole cup!)

1 bag shredded Italian blend cheese

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Spray a muffin pan with butter flavor cooking spray.

Sprinkle corn meal on a pizza stone or pizza pan, whichever you have.

Put the flattened biscuits in the muffin cups, my pan holds 12.  Put the rest on your pizza pan or stone.

Mix about 1/2 jar sauce with finely chopped pepperoni.  Spoon mixture into muffin cup biscuits.

Spread about 1/2 tsp sauce on each flattened biscuit on the pizza pan/stone.  Top with 1 slice pepperoni and 4-5 pineapple tidbits.

Top each muffin and each mini pizza with shredded cheese, as much as you can get on there without overflowing!!  (we like lots of cheese)

Bake at 450 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

Serve!

Mini Apple Pies

2 cans crescent roll dough

1 can apple pie filling

1/8 cup sugar

2 Tbsp cinnamon

1/2 Tsp vanilla

Butter flavor cooking spray

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray Texas muffin pan with cooking spray.

Separate dough into 8 sections, two triangles each.  Roll up the dough into a ball, flatten it out really flat, put one circle into each muffin cup.  You will have two triangles left, roll them together, then roll them out into a rectangle, or as close as you can get to a rectangle.  Use a pizza cutter and cut the dough into 6 skinny strips, then cut those in half so you have two shorter skinny strips.  Set aside.

Mix the apple pie filling with the sugar, vanilla and cinnamon.  Spoon into biscuit cups.  Top with crossed dough strips, sprinkle with a little sugar.  Bake about 10-12 minutes.  Allow to cool about 10 minutes, serve with a scoop of ice cream.

Sunday

Chicken and Dumplings…  sort of

OK, so this was not my best experiment.  I bought a package of frozen dumplings, and tried to follow the package directions, but all I got was thicker broth instead of good dumplings.  The dumplings were just lumps of dough in the bottom of the pan, they were NOT good.  So, I ended up with chicken, rice and peas in a nice creamy sauce.  It tasted really good, but I was SO disappointed in the dumplings, I was really looking forward to them!

So here’s what I cooked:

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts

2 packets chicken Flavor Boost

1 Tbsp Everglades original seasoning (the green one, not the red one)

1 1/2 quarts water

1 cup frozen peas

1 pkg frozen dumplings

Put all this in the crock pot, cook on low 6-8 hours.  Remove chicken, shred, set aside.

Pour juices into stove top pot, bring to a boil, add dumplings.  The package says to break them into pieces, but they were frozen together, so I couldn’t!  This is probably the problem….  boil 3 minutes, reduce heat and simmer 45 minutes.  I did that, I still had lumpy doughy things in my pot, but my juices had become a sauce, so that was good.

I removed the dumplings, added in some leftover rice and the frozen peas, added in the shredded chicken, cooked it all over low for about 15 minutes to heat up the peas and rice, and served!  It tasted good, but it wasn’t what I had planned, so I was disappointed.  Oh well, guess I need to learn how to make flat dumplings!  Got a pasta machine on my Christmas list…

And now, some random photos for you…

I did my nails yesterday, I’m not sure I like them, but they’re OK.

Here’s William.

Here’s Duke the girl cat named by a four year old…

So, that’s it for this week.  It’s been a good food week, or at least a good food weekend.

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

 

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The Great 2012 Cooking Extravaganza! Day 17

January 18, 2012 at 11:13 pm (Food) (, , , , )

Hello friends, and welcome back!!

Tonight’s dinner was a big success!  Even William liked it, and he’s the picky one!

Here’s what we had…  Cheese souffle, leftover BBQ beef, leftover potatoes and carrots, salad…  well, that’s what was on the table anyway!  The souffle was a lot more filling than I expected, so we still have leftovers!

Cheese souffle

4 egg yolks

4 egg whites

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup all purpose flour

1/4 tsp dry mustard

Dash cayenne pepper

1 cup milk

2 cups shredded cheese of your choice (they suggested some or any of the following: cheddar, Havarti, colby and/or Swiss…  I used half Havarti and half cheddar)

1. Allow eggs to sit out at room temp for at least 30 minutes.  Separate.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. For cheese sauce, in medium sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat, stir in flour, dry mustard and cayenne pepper.  Add milk all at once.  Cook and stir over medium heat until thick and bubbly.  Remove from heat.  Add cheese a little at a time and stir until melted. (I had to put it back on the warm burner for a couple of minutes to get it to melt right)  In medium bowl, beat egg yolks slightly until blended, and slowly pour in cheese sauce, mix well, cool slightly.

3. In a large mixing bowl, beat egg whites with an electric mixer on medium to high until stiff peaks form.  Gently fold about 1 cup of these egg whites into cheese sauce, then fold the cheese sauce into the remaining egg whites.  Pour into ungreased souffle dish (I used a 2 quart glass baking dish, as I don’t own an actual souffle dish).

4. Bake about 40 minutes (I ended up baking 55 minutes in my oven, but I know it’s off a little) or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.  (I will tell you, the knife was clean at 40 minutes on mine, but the souffle was WET inside when I tried to serve it, so it went back in…  didn’t look as pretty, but it tasted good!)

Serve immediately.

OK, so pics…

First one is the rue of butter flour and spices.

Second one is when it had just gone into the oven.

And third is the finished souffle.

Not a bad night!  Have to tell you, it tastes just like the scrambled eggs with cheese that we make for our weekend breakfasts, but lighter.  I think next time I’ll try adding some bacon and maybe some fresh spinach, that should be good.

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

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The Great 2012 Cooking Extravaganza! Day 6

January 8, 2012 at 4:25 pm (Food) (, , , , , , )

1/7/12

Welcome back friends!!  Hope you’ve all been eating well.

OK, so Bacon, Egg and Cheese pizza was awesome, not a crumb left, and everyone asking for more!!  Gotta say, I’m having way too much fun with this, trying new foods, learning new techniques, it’s very cool!

Today’s experiment is a little tame compared to some we have planned, it’s called “The Big Sandwich”, and it’s really just that, on a really big scale. Here’s the recipe:

1 large round bread loaf (I’m using sourdough, because I LIKE sourdough!), ham, turkey, roast beef, cheddar, American cheese, Swiss, lettuce, tomato, dressing of your choice.  Have to say, we’re skipping the lettuce and tomato because of the pickier eaters around here, but all the rest is there!  Good meal for family movie night, and we’re having a camp-out on the livingroom floor tonight as well, so family FUN night!

Until tomorrow, eat well!!

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The Great 2012 Cooking Extravaganza! Day 5

January 6, 2012 at 10:52 pm (Food) (, , , )

1/6/12

Welcome back friends!!

WOW!  That oven fried fish last night was REALLY good!  Even the picky 10 year old (William) went back for seconds!!  The green beans, I thought were really good, but then I like green beans with almonds.  And of course, there was salad.  Little by little I’m conditioning William to eating salads.  No complaints last night, so I guess I’m making progress!

Tonight, bacon egg and cheese pizza is on the menu.  We should probably have a salad to go with, just to fill everyone up.  Gotta get on that…  It smells fantastic!

Recipe:

Pastry for single crust pie

1/2 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled

2 cups shredded cheese (I used cheddar, but you could use swiss or mozzarella)

4 eggs

1 1/2 cups sour cream

2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley

Spread pastry on pizza pan (or like I did, sprinkle cornmeal on a pizza stone and spread the pastry crust on the pizza stone). Fold up edges slightly, and pinch to create a little bit of an edge to hold in the eggs. Bake at 425 degree for 5 minutes.

Sprinkle bacon pieces and cheese on the crust.  Mix eggs, sour cream and parsley, blend until smooth.  Pour over cheese and bacon on pizza crust.  Bake another 20 minutes at 425 degrees.  You can go as long as 25 minutes, but it doesn’t look as good.

Until tomorrow, eat well my friends!

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