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….


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!


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!


Jet’s Pizza


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


Burritos and Taquitos

Frozen ones, sorry, no recipe this time!


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.


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 208

July 29, 2012 at 8:18 pm (Food) (, , , , , , , , , )

Hello again friends, and welcome back to my little world!  Hope you all had a wonderful weekend, and are ready for all the fun that Monday brings! (yeah, I know, a little sarcasm goes a long way…)

So, laundry is done, kitchen is MOSTLY cleaned up, I’m showered, I’ve packed some snacks for work, although I just realized I forgot to get bottle water, hmmm…  cars are cleaned out, kids helped!  And Mike and I went to the movies this morning!  So, all in all, it’s been a really good day!  Great way to end the weekend.

AND, for a change, Mike helped ME figure out a problem with my meds!  Usually it’s the other way around, but I didn’t recognize my symptoms as “fatigue”, I was thinking I was depressed.  So I stopped my pain pills last night, and today I feel better than I have in months!  Going to call my doctor today and see if I can get something with different side effects that will do the same job without messing up something else!  I’ve been through so many over the years, and they’ve all messed with me in one way or another, I’m almost ready to say I’ll just deal with the pain, but then when things get really bad I just can’t deal with the pain, so I guess I need to call…

Anyway, good day for cooking, and getting things ready for later in the week since Mike won’t be home Tuesday through Friday, and I’ll have no transportation on the night James is working, so I have to be prepared!!  Dinner was AWESOME, and there are left overs, so that’s one lunch taken care of already.  Now I need to think about the rest of the week.  Thinking I might make some bread one night, that’s easy enough to do, and I’m dying to try a fish in the crock pot recipe I found, so now that I have a little more energy, maybe I can actually do these things this week!

Here’s tonight’s entry for you, it was a HUGE hit:

Meatloaf with Sausage

1 1/2 pounds ground chuck

1 package of 5 sausages, Great Value brand, mild Italian flavor

1 cup quick oats

1 small can tomato paste

1 egg

1/4 cup dried onion flakes

salt and pepper to taste

One Perfect Meatloaf Pan!! (got it for my birthday, and am ashamed to admit, this is the first time I’m using it, but I am now HOOKED!)

Squeeze or cut the sausage meat out of the casings.

Mix all your ingredients by hand in a large bowl, squish it all around really good, make sure there aren’t any obvious chunks of sausage anywhere, it should be relatively smooth when you’re done.  Form this mixture into a rough loaf shape, and put it in the Perfect Meatloaf Pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for at least 1 and 1/2 hours.  It should be pulled away from the sides of the pan, and crispy on top.

This was all that was left after we all dug in.  Told you it was a hit!

Along with this, we had steamed broccoli, steamed peas, mashed potatoes and gravy, and fresh cut fruit.

Oh, and I forgot to share my new dip recipe last night, so here’s a little bonus for you:

Bacon Ranch Dip

4 strips bacon, cut into pieces and cooked crispy

1 container sour cream

2 Tbsp ranch dressing mix

Mix everything together in a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to sit in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving.

Serve with chips or veggies or whatever you usually dip! YUM!!!

So that’s it for tonight.  Until tomorrow, eat well, love well, live well!

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The Great 2012 Cooking Extravaganza! Day 110

April 21, 2012 at 11:13 pm (Food) (, , , , , , , )

Hello again friends, and welcome back!!  Hope you all had a Fantastic Friday!

It was relatively quiet around here for a Friday.  William wanted to go shopping after school, you know, had to spend some of that birthday money he got.  He bought a Lego toy and two Mega Blocks sets, Ninjago and Halo, and still has a little money left in his pocket.  I’m kind of proud of him that he still has money left!  Then he wanted to spend the night with a friend, but then they had a fight, so I was out at 10:30 at night picking him up.  Guess I’m glad he didn’t try to stick it out, could have gotten nasty, but then again, I kind of wish he had worked harder at sorting it out.  Oh well, no worries either way, not that big a deal.  Have to keep reminding myself he’s still a kid!

James is spending the weekend with his girlfriend, since it’s so much closer to his job than here, and I don’t have to be out and about at 2:30 in the morning to pick him up.  It will be very cool once he has enough money stashed away to get his car on the road and then we won’t have to worry about trading off times for the car, working around each other’s schedules, and he’ll feel like he has more freedom.

Anyway, Mike and I rented a movie on cable, since we thought we were “kidless”, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, it was pretty good, but we had to keep stopping and starting around other things.  NOT kid friendly, kind of graphic, but good story line, great cast.

Anyway, we also planned a grown up dinner, which was REALLY good!  Mike grilled pork steaks for us, they were awesome, and I made baked potatoes, here’s how:

Quick Baked Potatoes

2 large (about 2 pounds each) russet potatoes

Kosher salt


Sour cream

Bacon bits

Salt and pepper to taste

Wash potatoes, remove any eyes and mushy spots if there are any.  Do NOT dry!  Place on microwave safe plate, sprinkle liberally with Kosher salt, rubbing into the skin a little, making sure to get all sides.  Poke with a fork 4-5 times.  Microwave on high, using baked potato setting if you have one, or 7 minutes at a time.  I ended up cooking a total of 21 minutes, turning after each 7 minute setting so that the skin didn’t get overly hard on any one side.  Remove from microwave.  (and since the inside of your microwave will be soaking wet from the steam, this is a great time to wipe it down!)

Cut into bite sized pieces, top with butter, sour cream, bacon bits, salt and pepper.  Serve!!

Alternate toppings can include things like broccoli and cheese, shredded cheese, cooked hamburger meat, chili, whatever you like!  Baked potatoes are very versatile, and awesome topped with just about anything!!

Hope you enjoy this one, I know we did!

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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The Great 2012 Cooking Extravaganza! Day 7

January 8, 2012 at 11:32 pm (Food) (, , , , , , , , , , )


Hello friends, and welcome back!!

Yesterday’s “big sandwich” was a hit, of course, and there are still a few sections leftover for a lunch for someone.  It was cool letting everyone put their own dressings on their piece, so everyone got what they wanted.

On the menu tonight, mini meatloaves, twice baked potatoes, and a nice fresh salad.  Gotta go make some fresh ranch dressing or William won’t eat the salad, but that’s quick!

Here are the recipes for tonight, William picked them out!

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

Twice baked potatoes

8 large baking potatoes

1/2 pound bulk pork sausage, cooked and drained

1/4 cup butter, softened

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1 1/2 cups diced fully cooked ham

6 bacon slices, cooked, drained, crumbled

1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup Italian dressing

Salt and pepper to taste

Scrub and pierce potatoes, microwave for 14-16 minutes or until tender.  Allow to cool slightly, until you can handle them safely.  When cool enough to handle, cut in half lengthwise, scoop out all but 1/4″ of insides.  Place potato insides in a bowl, add butter and sour cream, mix until smooth.  Add sausage, cheese, bacon, ham, salad dressing and mix well.  Spoon mixture into shells, place in baking pan, bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.

The house smells wonderful, can’t wait to eat!!  Have to admit, we all tasted some of the leftover potato filling, it was AWESOME!!

So, until tomorrow, eat well friends!!

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