The Great 2012 Cooking Extravaganza day 313-319 (week 46)

November 18, 2012 at 10:02 pm (Food, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Hello again friends, and welcome back!  It’s been an interesting week…  nothing Earth-shattering, just interesting.

Work has been really busy, which I can only think is NOT a good thing considering what I do, that means the foreclosure business is booming, or maybe things are just moving better through the courts, but whatever is going on, it can’t be a good sign for the economy.

And of course, there was all the post-election stuff going on, the stock market dropping, businesses laying people off, Hostess closing, just kind of a depressing week all the way around.

BUT, William had a really good week at school, things are going very well for him, he’s enjoying his classes, and getting good grades.  Absolutely cannot complain!

Mike had a good week at work, things are picking up, they are finally keeping him almost busy, and he spent all day yesterday working on his guitar.  Took his birthday money and bought some new pick-ups, a new pick guard, and he’s really happy with the results.

I’ve been fairly busy working on jewelry, too, but I need to get better at getting OFF the computer at night and doing things I LIKE instead of wasting so much time on Facebook.  I mostly work on new pieces on my lunch hour at work, but I spent about 3 hours last night making clay beads, which was more fun than I remember, and then a few hours today making jewelry from some of those beads, so I feel like I had an extra special day!  And, I still got the laundry done, cleaned up the kitchen, and did my nails.  GOOD DAY!

So, on to the food….

Monday

Baked BBQ Pork Chops

4 boneless pork chops

About 3 cups BBQ sauce of your choice

1 Tsp garlic powder

Put the pork chops in a roasting pan, sprinkle with garlic powder, pour over BBQ sauce, cover and bake at 350 degrees for at least an hour, or until chops are done through and sauce is bubbly.  Serve!

Ratatouille (this was fun!)

1 smallish yellow squash

1 smallish zucchini

1 Chinese eggplant

2 Tbsp dried onion flakes

1 Tbsp garlic powder

1 cup tomato sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

2 Tbsp olive oil, divided

1/4 cup Parmesan

Italian seasoning blend

Using a mandolin slicer, slice the squash and eggplant very thin.  Spray a 13″ x 9″ casserole dish with olive oil flavor cooking spray.  Pour the tomato sauce in the bottom of the pan, sprinkle with the onion flakes and garlic powder.  Liberally salt and pepper.  Lay the slices of squash and eggplant on the sauce, alternating each type of veggie, overlapping each, all the way around and in the center. (sort of like in the movie, looks a little like a fan)  Salt and pepper, sprinkle with a few Tbsp Parmesan.  Layer more veggies, salt and pepper, Parmesan.  Repeat until you have about 3 to 4 layers, or you run out of veggies.  Sprinkle with remaining olive oil and any remaining Parmesan, and sprinkle with Italian seasoning blend.  Cover with aluminum foil, cook at 375 degrees for 45 to 55 minutes, or until tomato sauce is bubbling up around the edges of the veggies.  Serve!!

Fried Potatoes

2 leftover Perfect Baked Potatoes

Sour cream, about 1/2 cup

Parmesan, about 1/2 cup

2 Tbsp butter

Salt and pepper

Chop potatoes into bite-sized pieces.  Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add potatoes and fry until they start to brown a little.  Skin on or off is entirely up to you!  Once the potatoes are heated through and just a very little browned, remove from heat, stir in sour cream and Parmesan.  Serve!

Chocolate Chip Cake with Chocolate Pudding Pokes

Basic Yellow Cake recipe

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

1/2 c chocolate chips

Allow butter and eggs to sit at room temp for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, grease and flour 9″ x 13″ baking pan.

In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder and salt, set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter on medium for 30 seconds.  Gradually add in sugar, beating on medium, until well combined.  Scrape sides of bowl, beat two minutes more.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in vanilla.  Alternately add flour mixture and milk, beating on low after each addition, just until combined.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Spread batter into prepared pan.

Bake 25-30 minutes for 9″x13″ pan (I actualy had to put this back in for an extra 20 minutes before it was done, so I cooked 50 minutes)

Cakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool completely in pan before frosting.

When cooled, poke holes in the cake with the handle of a wooden spoon.

Prepare instant chocolate pudding to package directions, family size package.  Pour over cake, making sure it gets into those holes and leaks down the sides a little.  Allow to cool in the fridge for about 30 minutes before serving.  YUM!

Tuesday

Ranch Fried Chicken, Bacon and Tomato sandwich

2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts

2 pkgs ranch dressing mix

2 cups flour, divided

3 eggs, lightly beaten

1 pound bacon

1 large tomato, sliced

Cut the bacon into about 1/2″ wide pieces, cook until crispy, remove to paper towel lined plate to drain, set aside.

Trim any excess skin or fat from the chicken, cut into chunks, then pound those to about 1/4″ thickness between two sheets of plastic wrap.

Put 1 cup plain flour in one wide shallow bowl.

Put the eggs, beaten, into another wide shallow bowl.

Mix the other cup of flour, ranch dressing mix, and a little salt and pepper, in a third wide shallow bowl.

Dip each piece of chicken first in the plain flour, then in the egg, then in the seasoned flour.  Fry in shallow oil over medium heat until golden brown and crisp.  Remove to paper towels to drain excess oil while cooking remaining chicken.  I can usually do 3-4 pieces at a time.

Serve on bread, toasted or not is up to you, with bacon, tomato and your choice of sauces.  YUM!

Wednesday

Jet’s Pizza

Thursday

Chicken and Sausage with Tomato Sauce

3 large boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 rope Kielbasa

1 Jar spaghetti sauce

1 Tbsp garlic powder

1 Tbsp Italian seasoning blend

1/8 Tsp red pepper flakes

1 Tsp orange Everglades seasoning

1 Jar (that sauce jar!) water

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

Cut the sausage into roughly 2″ pieces.  Don’t cut the chicken, in fact, frozen works really well for this.

Put everything in a crock pot, mix a little, cook on LOW 8-10 hours.  Using a slotted spoon, fish out the chicken, which should be falling apart at this point, the sausage and beans, put on a serving platter.

Serve with rice or pasta, your choice, and a little of the sauce from the pot poured over each serving.

Parmesan Orzo

1/2 box Orzo style pasta

1 stick butter

1 c Parmesan

Cook pasta to package directions.  Drain.  Melt butter in the hot pan, add back in pasta, and add Parmesan.  Mix well and serve!

Steamed Veggies

Friday

Burritos and Taquitos

Frozen ones, sorry, no recipe this time!

Saturday

Taco Bell

Yes, we ate out.  I just didn’t feel like cooking after working half the day, then housework, just didn’t have it in me!  But, once I ate dinner, I made…

Chicken soup

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

4 pkts chicken flavor Flavor boost

2 pkts vegetable flavor Flavor boost

4 quarts water

2 Tbsp green Everglades seasoning

1 Tsp garlic powder

1/2 bag frozen green beans

1/2 bag frozen sliced carrots

1/2 c frozen peas

1/2 box Orzo style pasta

In a LARGE stock pot, pour in water, add flavor packets and spices, mix well.  Add in chicken.  Cook over LOW heat about 2 hours.  Increase heat so that water boils, add in pasta, cook about 15-20 minutes, or until pasta is well done.  Reduce heat again, add in veggies, cook another 30 minutes.  Remove from heat, serve, or allow to cool and put into serving size containers.  Freezable!!  This made about a dozen large servings, about the same size as Chunky soup cans, but a lot better for you.

Sunday

Breakfast for Dinner

Bacon, cooks crispy

Scrambled eggs with cheese

Crescent Rolls

Simple, quick meal that everyone loves.  I added a sliced tomato to my plate, but I’m the only one that likes them…

Apple Banana Dessert

1 small apple

1/4 cup dried banana slices

2 Tbsp brown sugar

1 Tbsp butter

1/4 C old fashioned oats

Core apple, cut into wedges, then slice the wedges into very small slices.  Put into a microwave safe bowl.  Add in the dried banana slices.  Top with the butter and brown sugar.  Microwave 1 minute, mix well, microwave another 4 minutes.  Allow to cool at least 5 minutes before serving!  Top with a little ice cream, YUM!!!

Anyway, that’s it for this week.  Hope you found something you want to try!!

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

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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 147

May 28, 2012 at 9:06 pm (Food) (, , , , , , , , , )

Hello again friends, and welcome back!  Hope you’ve all had a wonderful LONG weekend, did everything you wanted to do, ate everything you wanted to eat, and spent time with those most important to you.  We actually had a really nice time!

James had to work part of the weekend, but ended up spending today with us, so that was nice.  He spent a lot of time playing Magic with William, and then I think they played video games together for a while, too, which is kind of unusual!  I know William enjoyed it…

We all made a trip to a comic book store today, found some older issues I had been looking for, William got one new one to go with the two he bought himself yesterday, and Mike picked out a few for himself.  He’s been spending some time reading some online, and of course all the comic heroes turned into movies over the past few years has peaked interest in comics again, to the point that DC has actually ended all their story lines from years past, and is restarting 52 of their best at number one again, with new story lines, new origins, new characters, looks promising!

Other than that, it’s been relatively quiet around here today.  Did a little cleaning, finishes up the last of the laundry, and did a little cooking, which is sort of the point of this blog, so here are some recipes for you!

Marinade Number One

1 Tbsp garlic powder, or 2 Tbsp chopped garlic in oil

1/4 cup vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

I put this one on a sirloin steak, which we then grilled.  Make sure you poke the meat with a fork a few times before pouring on the marinade, and turn it over about half way through however long you intend to let it sit before you cook it.  I did about 4 hours total, and turned it at 2 hours.  It came out REALLY good!

Marinade Number Two

2 Tbsp lemon herb seasoning mix (McCormick)

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

I put this one on pork chops, made sure to flip them half way through, so today that was at about the two hour mark.  Threw them on the grill, they were YUMMY!

To go with the meats, we had:

Packet Peas

About 2 cups frozen peas

About 2 Tbsp butter

Make a packet out of a large sheet of tinfoil, folding in half twice, then crimping the sides to make a sort of envelope.  Put in the peas and butter, seal the top edge.  Poke a couple of holes near the top.  Put this on the grill in a relatively cool spot, allow to cook while cooking whatever meats or other veggies you’re having, about 10-15 minutes total.  You should be able to see steam coming out of the holes when these are done.

Packet Green Beans

See packet peas, but use green beans!

Perfect Baked Potato 

3-4 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.

Microwave on high 7 minutes per potato, turning over half way through cooking.  You can also cook in the oven for about 1 hour at 350 degrees, but I didn’t have time tonight, wasn’t that together!  The texture is definitely different in the microwave versus the oven, but it’s not BAD, just different.

Steamed Broccoli

1 bag frozen broccoli florets

2 Tbsp butter

1 plastic container with lid, large enough to hold all the broccoli

Put the broccoli and butter in the container, DO NOT add any water.  Put lid on container, leaving one corner open.  Cook on HIGH 5 minutes, comes out slightly crisp but definitely cooked, bright green, and super tasty!

And of course, for dessert, we still have leftover cake, so we had a really good meal!

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

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The Great 2012 Cooking Extravaganza! Day 138

May 19, 2012 at 8:44 pm (Food) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Hello again friends, and welcome back!  Hope you’re all having a wonderful weekend!

I feel like I got a lot done today, but I also had some fun, so it’s a good day in my mind.

5 loads of laundry down, 2 more to go.  Of course, how in the world 4 people can make 8+ loads of laundry in one week is beyond me!  (counting the two loads I did earlier in the week…)  Although, if I really think about it…

Mike wears one set of clothes to work, and changes into something comfy when he gets home.

I wear one set of clothes to work, and change into something comfy when I get home.

William wears uniforms to school, and we make him change into casual clothes when he gets home.

So James is the only one around here who doesn’t wear two sets of clothes every day, but only because he isn’t working every single           day!  If he was, it would be a uniform for work, and casual clothes at home for him, too.

Anyway…  cleaned up the kitchen, Mike helped, was getting way out of hand, think we need to have a family meeting about it.  No one wants to unload the dishwasher after work or school, I don’t want James to get stuck doing it every day, but it needs to get done.  Have to admit, I got a little snippy with Mike “discussing” it while we cleaned.  Think that’s why he helped, but I’m not questioning or complaining!

So, started the cooking marathon in between loads of laundry and dishes, here are the first recipes for the weekend:

Dinner Rolls

7 1/2 ounces (3/4 cup + 3 tbsp) 80-90 degree water

3 cups bread flour (can mix white and wheat or rye)

2 Tbsp dry milk

3 1/2 Tbsp sugar

1 Tsp salt

3 Tbsp butter, cut into 4 pieces

1 packet active dry yeast

Add water to pan of bread machine (2nd best investment ever!).  Add flour, dry milk, sugar and salt to pan.  Tap pan to settle dry ingredients, level with a spatula then push a little into the corners of the pan.  Place butter in corners of pan.  Make a small well in the center of the ingredients, add the yeast.  Lock pan into bread maker.  Set machine for dough, press start.  My machine runs for 1 hour 20 minutes on this cycle, doing most of the kneading and such for me, which is WAY cool!

When the machine is done, turn the dough out onto a floured surface, cover, allow to rest for 15 minutes.

Now, at this point, you can turn this into crescent rolls, cloverleaf rolls, four leaf clover rolls or breadsticks.  I opted for some cloverleaf rolls, and some breadsticks, only because I don’t own two muffin pans of the same size, so I didn’t have enough spots for all of this to be rolls!

So, pull off a small piece of dough, about half the size of a golf ball, roll it into a ball, put it in a greased muffin pan.  Put three dough balls in each muffin spot.  If you have enough muffin spots, you can make 18 rolls.  If not, you can do what I did, and take the rest of the dough, split it into four pieces, roll them into ropes, put them on a greased cookie sheet.  Brush them with melted butter.  If you want, you can sprinkle the breadsticks with garlic, or parmesan, or herbs at this point.  Cover the rolls and breadsticks, let them rise another 45-60 minutes, or until doubled in size.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, serve warm!

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

1 bag frozen meatballs

1 can crushed or chunked pineapple, DO NOT DRAIN (in juice, not sugar or syrup)

2 bottles sweet and sour sauce

1 green pepper, chopped

About 3 cups water

3 Tbsp soy sauce

Mix the water, sweet and sour sauce and soy sauce in a pitcher.  Put the meatballs in a crock pot (best investment for the kitchen ever!).  Add in the pineapple, including the juice and the green pepper.  Cover with the liquid.  Cook on HIGH 3-4 hours.  At this point, you can strain the liquid into a sauce pan, add in a few tablespoons of corn starch, heat over medium high heat until thick.  Add back in the meatballs, green pepper and pineapple, serve over rice!

Now, I also started cooking for tomorrow, here’s what’s cooking:

Potato Soup

4 pounds (more or less) potatoes

1 packet chicken Flavor Boost

1 Tbsp garlic powder

1 Tsp black pepper

1/8 Tsp red pepper

1/8 Tsp chili powder

1 Tbsp kosher salt

1 quart water

Wash and peel potatoes, cut into bite sized pieces, put in the crock pot.  Mix everything else in a pitcher until thoroughly mixed, pour over potatoes.  Cook on HIGH 3-4 hours, or low 7-8 hours.

Add in 1 cup half and half, and 1/2 cup flour mixed with 1/2 cup water (should be a loose paste) and cook another half an hour or until thickened.  Serve with your choice of toppings, such as sour cream, bacon bits, chopped scallions, cheese, etc.

Perfect Baked Potatoes

4 medium russet potatoes, washed and dried

Kosher salt

Olive oil

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.

Still trying to figure out what I’m cooking tomorrow, plus I need to make stuff for lunches for William, but that’s tomorrow.  I think I’m done for today, 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 90

April 1, 2012 at 12:39 am (Food) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Hello again friends, and welcome back!!  Hope you’re all having a great weekend!!

Kind of a laid back day today…  dad went home from the hospital, doing well, mom is there to take excellent care of him.  James is at his girlfriend’s, as usual.  William is at a sleepover at a friend’s house.  So Mike and I have the place all to ourselves, and the best we can come up with is watching TV and eating a nice dinner…  when did we get so old and boring?!

Anyway, here’s what we had:

Braised Pork Shoulder Steak

2 pork shoulder steaks, about 2 pounds total

1 Tbsp garlic powder

1 Tbsp Italian seasoning

1 Tbsp Thyme

1 Tsp salt

1 Tsp pepper

4-5 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp red wine vinegar

1 carton chicken broth

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place about 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet.  Heat over medium high heat.

Mix remaining spices, olive oil and vinegar to form a thick pasty sauce.  Coat one side of steaks with mixture using basting brush.  Place coated side down in skillet, sear for 2-3 minutes.  While searing, brush more of the sauce mixture on the second side of the steaks.  Turn steaks, and sear another 2-3 minutes, or just until browned.

Put any remaining sauce mixture into oven safe covered dish, and add in broth.  Place both steaks in this mixture, cover pan, place in preheated oven and cook 1 to 1 1/2 hours.  Remove meat from liquid to serving dish, and serve with:

Italian Parmesan Herb Pasta

1 pound angel hair pasta, cooked to package directions

1 Tbsp thyme

2 Tbsp melted butter

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Toss all ingredients together in large serving bowl, serve warm!

The steak was an absolute first for me, had to go look online to see how to cook it!  And it came out VERY good, so we’ll have to do this again some time.

Sorry there are no photos, but I completely forgot!

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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The Great 2012 Cooking Extravaganza! Day 22

January 24, 2012 at 3:29 am (Food) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

Hello friends, welcome back!!

today, I had to go for something completely different, foods even I have never tried, and it was work!  I spent an hour this morning chopping up veggies, and chipped my FAVORITE ceramic knife (dang!!), but in the end, it was SO worth it!  Everyone got something they liked, everyone tried something new, and I got another entry for this journal…

Roasted Root Veggies

1-2 pound butternut squash, cleaned, peeled, cut into 1″ cubes (I ended up getting a much larger one and only used half)

4-5 medium turnips, cleaned, ends trimmed, cut into 1″ cubes (I purchased a bag that had 5 small to medium ones, it was perfect)

4-5 parsnips, peeled, ends trimmed, cut into 1/2″ slices (I purchased a bag that sort of looked like a small bag of carrots and used them all)

3 medium baking potatoes, cleaned, cut into 1″ cubes (or small red potatoes cut in half)

1 lb baby carrots, washed

1/2 medium red onion, cut into 1/2″ wedges

2 Tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp each salt and pepper

2 tsp minced garlic

Place all ingredients into a large crock pot, mix well to coat all pieces, cover and cook on low 9-10 hours, or high 4-5 hours.  Serve immediately!

Oven Roasted Pot Roast (I usually do roasts in the crock pot, so I had to look this one up!)

3-4 pound pot roast of your choice (I used one actually called a “pot roast” on the package, but I would think an eye round or some other kind of roast would work as well)

4 Tbsp dried onion flakes

1 box Great Value beef broth

1 Tsp each salt and pepper

Place all ingredients in an oven roasting pan, cover, cook at 325 degrees for 2 hours.  Remove roast from pan, and allow to rest while you make gravy!  Strain juices into sauce pan, add flour or gravy mix to make a nice thick gravy.  Slice roast and serve!

So everyone got something they liked, and everyone tried something new, and it was a good meal!

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

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The Great 2012 Cooking Extravaganza! Day 14

January 16, 2012 at 12:50 am (Food) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Hello friends, and welcome back!

Well, fish tacos…  what can I say…  EWWWWWWWWWWW!!!

We aren’t big fish eaters, and I’m trying to find ways to get more fish into our diet, without eating frozen fish fillets or take out fried fish, but this wasn’t it.  The fish tasted OK, everything else that went into the tacos tasted OK, but together, EWWW!

Just in case I got it wrong, or you actually LIKE fish to begin with, here’s the recipe:

Fish Tacos

Fish fillets, fresh or thawed frozen, approximately 12 ounces, rinsed and patted dry (I used tilapia, since it doesn’t usually taste “fishy”)

2 Tbsp olive oil mixed with 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp ground cumin, 1/4 tsp garlic powder

Shredded lettuce

Diced tomato

Shredded cheese of choice

Sour cream, or ranch dressing, or salsa, or all of the above

Taco shells, or flour tortillas, your choice

Brush fish fillets with oil/spice mixture, grill on George Foreman grill literally 5 minutes, the fish will be cooked perfectly!  Remove from grill, flake into bite sized pieces.

Place a couple tablespoons of fish, shredded lettuce, cheese, and sauce of choice either in a taco shell or on a flour tortilla and serve.

So, here’s the story of our dinner tonight…

William gets his first, sans lettuce of course, sits down, take a couple small, tentative bites, and says “well, it’s not great, but it’s not inedible.” LOL!

Then my husband, Mike, gets his, takes a couple of bites, and gives me a funny look.  I’m thinking, OK, here’s the one person in the house who actually LIKES fish to begin with, and he’s not enthused…  I’m in trouble!

So, I get mine together, take a couple bites, look at both of them, and say “you’re right, it’s not inedible, and that’s the best thing I can say!”

So, we put everything away, and I made a run to Arby’s!  This is officially our first failure in this grand experiment.  Fish tacos just aren’t for us!  I’m thinking I’m going to make something like tuna salad with the leftover fish, maybe throw in a little Old Bay to give it some flavor.  And now I know why I’ve always battered and fried my fish, I have to cover that taste somehow!

Tomorrow, everyone is off, so I’m going to make mini chicken pot pie type things, with phyllo dough, since I’ll have lots of time and help around the house.  Maybe I’ll do some more of those blueberry wontons from last night, those went over well!  And I think we’re going to go try to see the manatees during the day.  I’ll try to get a couple photos!

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

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