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 229-235

August 25, 2012 at 10:13 pm (Food) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Hello again friends, and welcome back!  Hope you’ve all had a wonderful, positive week!  It’s certainly been interesting around here…

Last Sunday we went to my parent’s house, so no, I did not cook. We went swimming and caught up on what’s going on.  Mom made burgers, the boys helped cook them on the grill.  She also made her amazing potato salad, baked beans, deviled eggs, and Tres Leche cake.  I have recipes for some of those things, maybe I’ll even share one day, but not today!  We picked up James’ car and brought it home.  Somehow, I can’t believe I’m saying those words, my child is not supposed to be old enough to have his own car, I’m not that old!

The work week was relatively calm, except that we’re loosing some team members to other teams, loosing one team member who’s just leaving the company, getting some new team members, and reorganizing coverage areas again, but not so much that it will be completely crazy, and I’m comfortable enough now that I think I can handle it.  I’m just glad that the boss thinks I can handle it, too, means I am doing OK even though sometimes I still have doubts.

Mike is still feeling pretty rough, but he saw a new specialist this week that we think is on the right track, more tests, but he has some good ideas and isn’t just blowing smoke, and not immediately blaming all Mike’s health issues on his weight like so many others, including me sometimes.  I know, I have no room to talk, but I just think we would both feel so much better if we lost some weight.  Of course, I’m not helping, doing all this cooking all the time, but I’ve got it in the back of my head all the time that I need to find healthier ways to make the foods we like rather than just trying to redo our whole diet.  We’ll get there!

William started school this week, new school, new kids, new teachers, new schedule, first week of Middle School.  Again, I’m not old enough for my younger child to be in MIDDLE school!!  But he absolutely loves it!  His homeroom/math teacher seems fun.  Didn’t get to meet the PE coach, but William seems to like him, too.  Language arts/Social studies teacher seems really nice, and she seems to understand my thoughts on teaching to more than just the FCAT, I like a teacher that thinks I’m right LOL!  The music teacher is just too cool, and William has two classes with him, regular music, and guitar class.  William and Mike went out last weekend and rented William a guitar, think it might be a rent-to-own type of thing, not entirely sure, but he really seems to be enjoying the class.  Didn’t get to meet the science teacher yet either, but William likes her, so she must be OK.  He can usually smell bullshit faster than we can, and he’s really happy so far, so I think this might be one of our better moves, this Charter school.  And, of course, I’m going to get to put some of my fundraising experience to work for them and be involved without being in charge, so I’M happy, too!!

And James is, well, James.  Working, playing video games, out for the weekend as usual.  I’m a little frustrated with him right now, his “rent” is chores, and they aren’t getting done unless we bug him, and I just feel like he’s 19, I shouldn’t HAVE to remind him any more, but I do.  I think we’re going to sit down one night soon and have a chat.  Need to talk about what we’re going to do when it’s time for new phones at Christmas, what we’re going to do about chores and rent and school, just all those fun little subjects we all love talking about so much…  NOT!  Hopefully it will be a grown-up discussion instead of the usual talking-to-a-wall discussion…

Anyway, you aren’t here for the gossip, you’re here for the food!  I decided to take it a little easy on myself this week, I kept track of what I made each night, but I didn’t pressure myself to WRITE each night, and I actually feel better about this little project than I have since I went back to work.  I was putting a lot of pressure on myself, and getting on my own case when I didn’t write every night, but I’m realizing that that’s just not fair to me.  I have to have time to unwind, relax, be part of the family, and quit trying to be Super-Mom.  So I think I’m going to stick to writing on weekends, maybe a night or two during the week if it’s not too much pressure, but not every night, it’s just too much with the job and the kids right now.

So, here we go…

Monday

Pot Roast and Potatoes

1 rump roast, approx 2-3 pounds

1 packet beef Flavor Boost

4 Tbsp dried onion flakes

1 Tsp garlic powder

4 potatoes, washed and cut into bite sized pieces

Water

Put the roast, the cut up potatoes, Flavor Boost, onion flakes, garlic and potatoes into the crock pot.  Add enough water just to cover everything in the pot.  Stir it up a little, set to LOW, and cook 8-10 hours, stirring a couple of times throughout the day if you can.  It’s OK if you can’t, but it’s better if you can, or if you can find someone like my son to do it for you!

Remove roast and potatoes from the pot, put on serving platter, allow to rest while you strain out about 4 cups of the broth, put it in a sauce pan, add in brown gravy mix per package directions (packets usually call for one packet for each cup of liquid, the large container of mix calls for 3 Tbsp per cup of liquid), stir well with a whisk, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until thickened.  Serve with the roast and potatoes for a good old fashioned family meal!  We also had some steam broccoli and peas with our meal, just to round things out.  A salad also works very well.

Tuesday

Curry Chicken and Rice

Another crock pot meal…

5-6 boneless skinless chicken thighs, thawed or frozen, doesn’t really matter

1 packet chicken Flavor Boost

1/2 box Golden Curry mix, medium heat variety

1 can coconut milk, shaken well

Put all these into the crock pot.  Add just enough water to cover the chicken, I think I might have added 3 cups all together.  Set to LOW and cook 8-10 hours.

When I got home from work, I made a small pot of rice in the rice cooker (water to the “2” mark, two scoops of rice), added 2 packets of chicken flavor Flavor Boost, served the chicken with this rice, and some steamed veggies on the side, it was AWESOME!  Even William went back for seconds on both the rice and chicken.  There was barely enough left for my lunch the next day!

Wednesday

Turkey Sausage with Parmesan Orzo

This is a super easy meal, and William helped me cook it.

Cut up the turkey smoked sausage into bite sized pieces, saute with no added butter or anything, the liquid in the sausage helps it steam/simmer very nicely, just don’t leave it alone, it might burn just a bit.  Voice of experience here!

Along with this, we made Orzo pasta to package directions, drained, added butter and Parmesan cheese, mixed it all up, kind of tastes like mac-n-cheese but better.  Goes great with the sausage, makes for a hearty meal, but not too heavy.

Thursday

Leftovers

We had leftover potatoes and gravy, leftover egg rolls, some leftover veggies, I don’t even remember what all else we had, but we had quite a bit on the table!

Friday

Spasagna

I found this on another blog, it sounded yummy, and OH WOW, it was AWESOME!

So, courtesy of http://www.thecountrycook.net here’s Spasagna…

1 (26 oz) jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce

1 (16 oz) jar of Alfredo or Garlic Alfredo sauce (I didn’t have the garlic kind, so I added a little garlic to the recipe)

1 Lb spaghetti noodles (I used Dreamfields angel hair)

1 lb ground beef

2 cups shredded mozzarella

1/2 cup milk (2% or higher)

1 Tsp dried oregano

1 Tsp dried parsley (I didn’t have the individual spices, so I added 2 Tsp of mixed Italian seasoning)

Cook noodles to package directions, drain very well.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray 9 x 13 baking dish with olive oil nonstick spray.

In a large bowl, combine Alfredo sauce, mozzarella, milk and spices.  Stir well. Add in noodles and stir/toss to coat completely.  Put this mixture into the prepared baking dish.  Cover with aluminum foil, and bake about 30 minutes.

While the noodles are baking, start cooking the ground beef in a large skillet or medium saucepan.  Brown and crumble beef until cooked through.  Drain well, and add back into pan.  Add spaghetti sauce, and leave on LOW heat, cover if you can, and let it simmer until the noodles are ready.

Allow the noodles to sit about 10 minutes before trying to top or cut into servings.  Top with the meat and spaghetti sauce mixture.  (I wasn’t sure what a serving should be, so I just cut the pan into 8 pieces.)  Top with Parmesan cheese if desired and serve!

Saturday

Pork Wontons

4 boneless pork chops, fried and cut into small pieces (about 1/2″ pieces)

Wonton wrappers

Oil for frying

Your favorite sauce for dipping

Place one piece of pork into the center of a wonton wrapper, wet two edges of the wonton wrapper and fold over to make a triangle.  Then dampen two corners and fold in towards each other to make a little hat packet looking shape.  Fry in hot oil about 2-3 minutes per side, remove from oil to paper towel lined serving tray.  Continue with pork and wontons until you run out of one or both.  Somehow, we had just enough of each!

And we had sweet and sour sauce, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, my home made plum-peach sauce from last weekend, lots of sauces to pick from!  Needless to say, they are all gone…

Spinach Hummus

I found this recipe on the internet, but I had to tweak it a bit to make it work in my blender.  One of these days I’ll get an actual food processor…

2 cans chick peas, one drained, one not drained

1/2 cup Tahini, well stirred

4 Tbsp garlic, minced (I buy my garlic pre-minced in a squeeze bottle, so it’s WAY easy!)

Juice of one lemon, or more if you prefer

2 Tsp salt

1/2 cup frozen spinach, thawed

4 Tbsp olive oil

Put chick peas in blender, with the juice from one can, blend until smooth.  Gradually add in Tahini, spices and spinach, blending very well after each addition.  You can add a little more oil if needed to thin it out and make it blend better.  I have to admit, I still have a couple of whole chick peas because I wasn’t overly patient with this, but it still tasted really good, and I’m not a huge fan of hummus!

Corn Muffins

This recipe is from the package of Dixie Lily corn meal…

1 cup flour

1/4 cup sugar

4 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp salt

1 cup corn meal

1 egg

1 cup milk

1/4 cup melted shortening (butter!) or oil

Grease muffin cups or use paper liners, heat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Beat egg in a separate bowl, add milk and shortening and mix well.  Stir in dry ingredients and mix well.  Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full, bake 25-20 minutes or until golden brown and set.  Serve warm with butter, honey, grape jelly, whatever YOU like on corn bread!

Chocolate Cake with Home Made Chocolate Frosting

I used a chocolate fudge cake box mix, Duncan Hines I think.  Didn’t do the cake from scratch, just followed the box directions.  But then I didn’t want to use store bought frosting, so went hunting for a recipe…  Here’s what I found!

4 cups powdered sugar

1 cup butter, melted

2 tsp vanilla extract

3 tbsp milk

6 tbsp cocoa powder

Blend everything very well in a large bowl, spread onto cooled cake, top with sprinkles if you want and serve!

So now it’s movie night, gonna go eat the cake and watch a movie.  So until next time, eat well, love well, live well!!!

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The Great 2012 Cooking Extravaganza! Day 146

May 27, 2012 at 8:04 pm (Food) (, , , , , , , , , )

Hello again friends, and welcome back!  Hope you’re all having a nice LONG weekend!  We’re certainly making the most of it…

Laundry is almost done, kitchen is almost completely clean, and we’ve been having a good time!  Went to the movies today, saw Men In Black III, and I have to say, I think it may have been the best of the three!  Good story, really good actors, some great twists, people actually clapped when it was over.

Grass hasn’t been cut, but Mike, William and I went for a walk together.  Weeds haven’t been pulled, but we all went to a comic book store together.  Haven’t vacuumed yet, but Mike and William have been playing video games together, having “guy time”, which they don’t do anywhere near often enough!  Sometimes, you just have to put off the work in order to do family things.

Anyway, dinner was relatively easy tonight, Mike cooked hot dogs and brats on the grill, and we had chips to go with that.  But then, after dinner, I made mini-cakes from scratch!  Here’s the recipe I used, and some photos:

Yellow 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

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

Meanwhile, grease and flour baking pans…

2 x 9″ or 8″ round pans

OR

2 x 8″ square pans

OR

1 x 9″x13″

OR

Muffin/cupcake pans (that’s what I used tonight, Texas muffin pan and Mini-bundt 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.  Spread batter into prepared pans.

Bake 20-25 minutes for 9″ pans.

Bake 30-35 minutes for 8″ pans.

Bake 25-30 minutes for 9″x13″ pan.

Bake 18-20 minutes for jumbo cupcakes (like I did!).

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

Cool in pans 10 minutes.  Except for 9″x13″ pan, remove from pans, cool on wire rack completely before frosting.  9″x13″ pan, cool completely in pan.

 

Dark Chocolate Butter Cream Frosting

3/4 c butter, softened

6-7 cups powdered sugar, or more if you want stiffer frosting

1/3 c milk

2 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

In a very large mixing bowl, beat butter on medium until smooth.  Gradually add in 2 cups powdered sugar, beating well.  Slowly beat in milk and vanilla.  Gradually beat in cocoa powder and remaining sugar, about a cup at a time.  You can beat in more sugar or more milk as needed, but in small amounts, until you reach the consistency you want.  The above was absolutely perfect in my opinion!

This frosts 2 8″ or 9″ rounds, tops and sides, or 12 oversized cupcakes, with some leftover.  Cut recipe in half for a 9″x13″ pan cake.

 

Both recipes originally came from the “Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, 15th Edition”.  Want to make sure I give them credit!!  I think I might learn to enjoy baking from scratch…  this was fun!  And I have to say, not as good as the Tres Leche cake recipe I got from Emeril, but not bad at all.  VERY rich though!  Think I need to work on some lighter frosting recipes for this bunch.  And I need to find a way to moisten up the cake batter, it was REALLY dry.  I’m thinking pudding and fruit maybe…

Anyway, that’s it for today!  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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