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 250

September 9, 2012 at 8:51 pm (Food) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Hello again friends, and welcome back!  Hope you’ve all had a Wonderful Weekend!!

It’s been a busy weekend around here, but it felt so good to have cool stuff to do instead of just chores!  If you read yesterday’s entry, you know I cooked a LOT, well I continued cooking today.  Plus I finished up the laundry, scooped the cat box, emptied the trash, and made some jewelry.  YEAH!

I started off the day by making the frosting for the cinnamon rolls I made yesterday, very easy!

Cinnamon Roll Frosting

1 cup powdered sugar

2 Tbsp milk

1/2 Tsp vanilla

Mix well, spread on the cinnamon rolls and serve!

Then, I got some laundry going, and sat down to play with my beads!!

So here’s the bracelet I did today, lots of aluminum chain, lots of PURPLE, very cool!

And some blue elephant earrings…

And I started another pill/needle bottle necklace…

And now for the food!!

Perfect Baked Potatoes

Large russet potatoes, washed and dried

Sea salt

Olive oil (you can use vegetable oil if you want)

Pierce potatoes once on each side.  Coat lightly with olive oil, and sprinkle with Kosher salt.  Place on baking pan, and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours, or until done through and soft when poked.  Remove from pan and serve.  Top with your choice of toppings, tonight we did just butter, salt and pepper, but they are also good with sour cream, shredded cheese, broccoli, chili, really whatever YOU want to put on them!  I actually cooked a whole bag of potatoes so we’ll have some laying around ready to top.  PLUS, they freeze well, so you don’t have to worry about them going bad!

Pot Roast

About a 4-5 pound roast, use your favorite cut, I prefer the tip roast

2 packets Flavor Boost, beef flavor

About 1/4 cup dried onion flakes

Water

Place roast in crock pot, add in beef Flavor Boost and onion flakes, salt and pepper if you want, and just enough water to almost cover the roast.  Cook on LOW 8-10 hours or HIGH 4-5 hours.  Remove to serving platter and allow to rest while you use some of the juices to make gravy.

I use a packaged gravy mix, 3 cups juice with 9 Tbsp gravy mix, bring to a boil and simmer 1 minute, turns out just about perfect every time!

Garlic Butter Crescents

Crescent roll dough

1/2 stick butter

About 4 Tbsp garlic powder

Unroll dough.

Melt the butter in a cup, add in the garlic powder and mix well.

Brush the garlic butter onto the unrolled dough.

Roll them up from the short side to the tip, and brush again with garlic butter.

Bake per package directions, serve!

And of course we had some veggies, broccoli and peas, kind of our usual.

Then I made a breakfast casserole for during the week.  Sorry, I didn’t take any pictures.  But it smells awesome!

Breakfast Casserole

12 eggs

1/2 cup half and half

Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup shredded cheese

1 chicken smoked sausage rope

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

Beat the eggs, add in the cream.  Pour into prepared dish.  Sprinkle in the cheese.

Chop the sausage into small pieces, cook in a medium skillet until lightly caramelized.  Add into eggs and cheese, make sure it sinks into the eggs.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 – 55 minutes, depending on your oven, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean and top is lightly browned.

I let this cool for about 30 minutes, then cut it into 8 servings and put them in individual containers so everyone can just grab, heat and eat in the morning!

So I think that’s it.  I feel like I’m forgetting something, but I don’t know what.

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

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The Great 2012 Cooking Extravaganza! Day 159

June 10, 2012 at 8:42 pm (Food) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Happy Sunday!  Hope you’ve all had a great weekend, full of fun and family and good food!!  Welcome back!  🙂

Sunday’s around here are usually pretty quiet, and today was no exception.  Thought about going to a movie, slept in until 10:30 instead.  Finished up laundry, cleaned up the kitchen, did a little cooking, read the comics and clipped coupons.  Mike played video games with William for a little while.  William wanted to go visit a friend, but the family is out of town.  Nothing spectacular, nothing exciting, but a nice day around the house.

So here are a couple of recipes for you:

Home Made Granola

5 cups oats (I prefer old fashioned, but you can use quick if you want)

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp allspice

1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

3/4 cup sugar free maple syrup sweetened with Splenda

3/4 cup honey

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 tsp vanilla

Mix all dry ingredients in a BIG bowl.  Set aside.  Mix all wet ingredients in a medium bowl, mixing until it looks sort of creamy instead of like syrup.  I used a whisk for just a minute or two.  Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients, mix VERY well.  It gets really hard after a minute or so, take a break, then mix some more.  It’s worth it!

Pour into a baking pan with sides, like a broiler pan or a cake pan, making sure the granola is not more than 1/2″ deep, break up large pieces as much as you can, spread it out.  Dark pans cook faster, try not to use them unless you have to.  I used to keep foil pans around just for this, but storing them got out of hand.  Split the batch over a couple of pans if you have to just to make sure it’s not too deep or squished to tightly in the pans, it won’t cook right.  It needs to be loose and not too deep in the pans.

Bake at 300 degrees for 1 hour total, stirring every 15 minutes, breaking up bigger pieces, and making sure the batch isn’t getting too dark too quickly.  If you do have to use dark pans, cook about 10 minutes less.

Remove from oven and cool.  At this point, you can add raisins or chocolate chips before packing it up, or you can leave it plain.  You can serve in a cup, in a bag, or in a bowl with milk for breakfast.  You can use this granola to top off yogurt or ice cream.  It makes enough so you can do whatever you want with it!

Store in sealed containers up to two weeks.  Does not need to be refrigerated.

Oriental Seasoned Rice

Rice cooker (imperative!)

Rice

Water

Chicken flavor Flavor Boost, 1 packet

2 Tbsp Soy sauce

1 Tsp ground ginger

Fill bowl of rice cooker to the “4” mark.  Add in the chicken flavoring, the soy sauce and the ginger, mix well.  Using the scoop that came with your cooker, measure in 4 scoops of rice.  Turn on the cooker, when it’s done, serve!

We had this tonight with grilled pork chops, steamed broccoli with butter and steamed peas with butter.

So that’s it for tonight!  Gonna go relax with the family for a while…

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

 

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The Great 2012 Cooking Extravaganza! Day 152

June 3, 2012 at 8:14 pm (Food) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Hello again friends, and welcome back!  Hope you’ve all had a wonderful weekend!!

It’s been quiet around here today…

James spent the weekend with the girlfriend, and working, so we haven’t seen him since Friday night, and then only for a few minutes while he loaded up the car.

William has been playing Legos all day, except for the few times he’s come out to show me the “movies” he’s creating by doing stop motion photography with his phone and some Lego creations…  well, his version of stop motion anyway. Don’t think he completely gets that you have to make a TINY adjustment between each photo!  But he’s trying, and it’s adorable!

Mike has been reading comics and helping with laundry and dishes, and of course watching movies.  It is Sunday after all, and SyFy is running all the Alien movies as a teaser to Prometheus as it is coming out next weekend, can’t wait!!!

And I’ve been doing odds and ends…  went grocery shopping, relatively small trip, but we needed a few things.  Had to take my time,  compare prices on things, and dodge all the non-English speaking folks with their food stamps who were out in DROVES today.  Something about that really bothers me…  couldn’t be that when we needed help we couldn’t get any!  We had to depend on friends and family and hope it all worked out.

OK, enough of the soap box rant…  sorry!

Finished up the laundry, did dishes, cleaned up the kitchen, made a nice dinner, and now dessert is in the oven.  I took a couple of familiar recipes and changed them up a little, they turned out really well!  Here are the recipes:

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

2 boxes Great Value chicken flavor stuffing

3 cups water

1 stick butter, cut into pieces

3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 large can Great Value cream of mushroom soup

8 slices Great Value Swiss cheese

8-10 slices lunchmeat ham (or one pkg diced ham)

2 Tbsp milk

Heat water 5 minutes in the microwave while you slice up the butter into pats.  Put the pats in a large casserole dish, pour over the hot water, and stir until the butter is completely melted.  Mix in the two boxes of stuffing, mixing well to make sure all the pieces get moist, and all the liquid gets absorbed.  Set aside.

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Trim any excess fat or leftover skin from the chicken breasts, including removing that tendon that runs through the breast, and cut the meat into bite sized pieces.  Set aside.

Lay the lunch meat ham (or spread the diced ham) over the stuffing.

Top with the chicken pieces, spreading them out over the whole dish.

Top with the Swiss cheese, overlapping as needed.

Make sure the cheese doesn’t touch the pan, it WILL stick!  Mix the 2 tbsp milk into the cream of mushroom soup, spread over the entire dish, making sure to get this all the way to the edges.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour, or until chicken is cooked through and cheese is melted.  I always cook exactly one hour and it’s perfect.  Serve!

Vanilla Pudding Cake with Chocolate Pudding Sauce

Cake:

3/4 c butter

3 eggs

2 1/2 c all purpose flour

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 3/4 c sugar

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

1 1/4 c milk

1 pkg vanilla instant pudding mix

1/4 cup vegetable oil

Allow butter and eggs to sit 30 minutes at room temp.  Grease and lightly flour cake pans or muffin pans.  Suitable for:

9″ rounds (2)

8″ rounds (2)

8″ squares (2)

Cup cakes (18-24)

Mini Cakes (12)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix together flour, salt and baking powder, set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter, slowly add in sugar until completely blended.  Add eggs one at a time, blending well between each addition.  Beat in vanilla.

Alternately add in flour mixture and milk, blending well, until everything has been added and well blended.  Add in pudding mix and oil, blend well again.  Pour into prepared pans.

Bake as follows:

8″ rounds, 9″ rounds, 8″ squares      25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean

Cup cakes 15-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean

Mini cakes 18-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean

Chocolate pudding sauce:

1 large pkg chocolate instant pudding mix

1 1/2 cups milk (or half whatever the package calls for in the directions!)

Mix together, blend very well, pour over cooled cake and serve!  (Sorry, don’t have a photo of this last part for you…)

So that’s it for tonight!  Hope you enjoy one or both of these recipes.  We sure did!

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

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The Great 2012 Cooking Extravaganza! Day 92

April 3, 2012 at 12:39 am (Food) (, , , , , , )

Hello again friends, and welcome back!  So glad you could join me again on this journey…

Monday…  what can I say!  Busy day, but then Monday always is around here.  Cleaning up from whatever we did over the weekend, not much in this case, but still had a messy kitchen to deal with.  Worked on a new necklace a little, but I’m running out of beading line, and money, so I think I’ll have to take a break, at least until next weekend anyway.  Argued with a bead supplier over a back-order, they just don’t get it!  I don’t understand why when I order 100 of something, and they have 10 packs in stock, but not the 100 pack, why won’t they just send me 10 of the 10 packs!  It’s still 100 either way, but they make more money on the 10 packs…  guess I get to make a side trip to the local bead store for a suitable replacement part tomorrow.  Gotta get going on a custom order!!  Then, of course, it’s scout night, that went well.  The boys are working on a sportsman badge, so they played marbles and ping-pong tonight, that was interesting.  And, to top it all off, I applied for 12 new job postings, and heard back on three from a couple weeks ago, more “thanks but no thanks”, but at least they are getting back to me instead of just ignoring me!  Maybe my mother is right and I should be the one getting the cooking degree, maybe then I could find a job!

Anyway, here are the two recipes for tonight, both very easy and very tasty:

Fried Fish Bites (yeah, this is a repeat, I know)

1 cup flour

1 cup Panko bread crumbs

1/4 cup Everglades seasoning

4 eggs

3 Tilapia filets, cut into bite sized pieces

In one wide shallow bowl, mix flour, bread crumbs and seasoning, set aside.

In one wide shallow bowl, beat eggs, set aside.

Put cut fish pieces into eggs, coat well.  Remove a few pieces at a time and place in flour mixture, coat well.  Once coated, fry in oil heated over medium heat, cooking about 2-3 minutes per side until light brown and crispy.  Remove to paper towel lined serving tray, and serve warm.

Home Made French Fries

4 large russet potatoes, washed, eyes removed, UNPEELED

Cut potatoes into thin french fry slices. Fry in hot oil approx 8-10 minutes, or until deep golden brown.  Remove from oil to paper towel lined serving tray, salt, serve warm!  I think I need to work on this one a little more, these weren’t very crispy, but they did taste good!

Hope you enjoy these as much as we did!  They are ALL gone!

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

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The Great 2012 Cooking Extravaganza! Day 88

March 30, 2012 at 1:21 am (Food) (, , , , , , , , , )

Hello again my friends, and welcome back!!  So glad you could join me again.

Busy day today!  Doctor’s appointment in the morning, quick trip to Walmart for a few odds and ends, shuttling kids around as usual, don’t feel like I actually accomplished much other than making dinner, and that took WAY longer than I expected, but it was SO worth it!

Homemade Taco Pizza

Dough

3/4 cup luke warm water

2 Tbsp vegetable oil

2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 Tsp sugar

1/2 Tsp salt

2 Tsp active dry yeast

Set bread machine to DOUGH.

Add water and oil to pan.

Add flour, sugar and salt to pan.  Tap pan to level ingredients, pushing a little into the corners.

Make a well in the center of the ingredients and add yeast.  Lock pan into bread machine.

Make sure the machine is set for DOUGH, and start the machine.  My machine ran for 1 hour 20 minutes on this setting, which I was NOT expecting, so dinner was REALLY late!

When done, remove pan from machine, turn dough out onto floured surface, knead about 1 minute, then allow to rest for 15 minutes.

Roll dough out to fit a 12 or 14 inch pizza pan.  Place dough on a greased pizza pan that has been sprinkled with corn meal.  Press dough into pan forming an edge.  Let dough rise in warm, dry place for 20-25 minutes.  (I actually used a pizza stone rather than a pan, and I didn’t grease it, but I did use the cornmeal!)

Top with a few tablespoons of salsa, spread VERY thin, and…

Taco Beef

1 pound ground beef

2/3 cup water

1/4 cup taco seasoning mix

Brown ground beef, drain.  Mix in water and seasoning, reduce heat and simmer about 10 minutes.  Spread on pizza crust.

Top with about 1 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese.

Bake 25 minutes at 425 degrees.  Cut into 8 slices and serve!  Will be VERY hot!

We also had salad and fruit with this.  Nice meal!

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

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The Great 2012 Cooking Extravaganza! Day 39

February 10, 2012 at 12:16 am (Food) (, , , , , , , , , )

Hello again friends, and welcome back!

Tonight’s dinner was AWESOME (insert little sing-song high pitched voice here LOL)!  It was quick, easy, and YUMMY! Here’s the Uber-simple recipe…

2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of any excess fat or leftover skin, cut into SMALL bite-sized pieces

Coat chicken pieces with approx 1/2 cup flour, 1 Tbsp salt and 1 Tbsp pepper

Cook in frying pan with just enough oil to coat bottom of pan over MEDIUM heat until golden brown and cooked through.

Add vegetable of your choice, I used about 2 cups of frozen green beans cut into bite-sized pieces, but you could use fresh broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, just about any fresh or frozen veggie you prefer.  Cook until veggies are warmed through and crisp tender.

Add in one full container of Philadelphia cooking cream, tonight’s flavor was pesto, and 1/4 cup milk.  Stir well, cook about 2 minutes.  Add in about 2 cups WARM cooked rice or pasta, we had rice since we had some left from our Asian meal a couple of nights ago.  Top with 1 cup shredded cheese, tonight I used a mixed shredded cheese that was mozzarella, cheddar and colby cheeses.  Serve!

This isn’t the first time I’ve used this cooking cream, but it was a new flavor for us, and I did more than just coat the chicken with it this time, I actually SORT OF followed the recipe on the container.  It was REALLY good!  Can’t wait to try another flavor now!

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

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The Great 2012 Cooking Extravaganza! Day 28

January 29, 2012 at 11:31 pm (Food) (, , , , , )

Hello friends, and welcome back!

After a full weekend of camping with cub scouts, I decided I needed a simple meal tonight, so I made something up…

Denise’s Fish Bites

1/2 cup flour

2 Tbsp Old Bay seasoning

3 tilapia filets

Thaw fillets, rinse, pat dry.  Cut into bite sized pieces.

In a wide shallow bowl, mix flour and Old Bay until well blended.  Place fish pieces in flour mixture, toss with a spoon or tongs until all pieces are well coated.

Fry in hot oil, approx 2-3 minutes per side, or until light golden brown.  Remove from oil, serve warm!

French fries

Wash and dry 2-3 medium sized potatoes.

Using a mandolin style slicer, cut UNPEELED potatoes into thin slices, I used a slicer with changeable blades and made rippled cut fries, looked sort of like waffle fries.  Place between paper towel sheets to dry.

Cook in hot oil 5-6 minutes or until light golden brown.

Remove from oil, salt lightly. Serve!

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

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The Great 2012 Cooking Extravaganza! Day 18

January 20, 2012 at 3:47 am (Food) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Hello my friends, and welcome back!

Sorry this is so late, it’s been a busy day around here…  been working on rebranding my business on Facebook (feel free to come check out my page, Nirvana Bay Designs!) so I’ve spent the better part of this week photographing all my existing stock of jewelry, Christmas ornaments and Treasure Boxes, pulling out items I made literally years ago but never sold so I can give them to my local Hospice for a fundraiser they are planning for their sister chapter in Italy (I think!) where they want items made in the USA, uploading and pricing all the stuff for my page, getting things together for a yard sale this weekend, and getting ready for a local craft show. And yet, through all this, I’ve still managed to get in some cooking today!!  And it was GOOD!!! So here’s what was on the menu tonight…

 

Beer Battered Fish (and chips, of course, but those were frozen…)

Vegetable oil for cooking

3 thawed frozen Tilapia fillets (roughly 1 pound)

3-4 Tbsp Bisquick

1 cup Bisquick

1/2 cup beer

1 egg, beaten

1/2 tsp salt

1 Tbsp Old Bay seasoning (this is my personal touch, and it was good!!  Could have even used a little more!)

Heat oil, 1 1/2″ deep, in skillet or deep fryer to 350 degrees.

Lightly coat fish in 3-4 tbsp Bisquick

Mix remaining ingredients with hand beater just until smooth.  If batter is too thick, add more beer 1 tbsp at a time until desired consistency.  Dip coated fish in batter.

Fry in oil 2-3 minutes per side or until golden brown (I tend to cook at a little lower temp, right around 3.5-4 setting on my electric stove, so I don’t scorch my pans, so I actually cooked each piece about 5 minutes per side).  Drain and serve with french fries.

Suggestions from the original recipe:

Serve in parchment lined baskets with cole slaw, chips and a pickle, side of tartar sauce

These also work well on a bun with tartar sauce, lettuce and tomato as the ultimate fish sandwich!

These do NOT work well as leftovers, they get a little soggy.

Creamy Rice Pudding

3/4 cup uncooked rice

2 cups milk, divided (1 1/2 cups and 1/2 cup)

1/3 cup sugar (or 1/3 of 1/3 of a cup Splenda, haven’t worked that out yet for a “real” measurement!)

1/4 tsp salt

1 egg, beaten 

2/3 cup raisins (suggested golden raisins, but regular raisins work just fine) 

1 Tbsp butter cut into small pieces

1/2 tsp vanilla

In medium sauce pan, heat 1 1/2 cups water to boiling, cook rice 20 minutes or until water is gone (only took 15 minutes for me on medium low heat, around setting 3.5 on my electric stove)

Combine 1 1/2 cups milk, sugar and salt in a bowl, add to rice when it’s cooked.  Cook and stir over medium low heat (3.5 ish) for 15 – 20 minutes or until thick and creamy (took almost exactly 15 minutes for me!)

In mixing bowl, combine 1/2 cup milk, raisins and beaten egg.  Add to cooked rice mixture when ready.  Cook another 2 minutes.  Remove from heat, add butter and vanilla, stir until butter is melted into pudding.

Allow to cook slightly, about 15 minutes, serve warm.

Serving suggestions:

Add a few tablespoons half and half

Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar

Soak the raisins in rum for a few hours before using in the pudding

Substitute chopped dates for the raisins

Leave out the raisins completely

 

So, busy busy day, but I’m happy, I finally found a rice pudding recipe worth keeping!  I got all my photos uploaded to my new Facebook page for my jewelry business.  I cleaned some more stuff out of my house for a yard sale.  I got invited to a craft show, that’s free!  Yup, busy day, but good day!!

Until tomorrow friends, eat well!

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