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 258 – 263 (Week 38)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday

Chicken and Sausage

3 Boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 rope smoked sausage

1 Jar tomato basil spaghetti sauce

1 Tbsp garlic powder

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

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

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

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

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

We had some steamed broccoli on the side…

Microwave Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 Tbsp melted butter

1 Tbsp white sugar

1 Tbsp brown sugar

3 drops vanilla

1 egg yolk

1/4 cup flour

2 Tbsp chocolate chips

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

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

Bacon Egg and Cheese casserole

12 eggs

1/2 cup Parmesan

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella

1/2 cup shredded cheddar

1/2 cup half and half (fat free)

1 pound bacon, cut into small pieces and cooked crisp

Salt and pepper to taste

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

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

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

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

Tuesday

Curry Chicken

5 boneless skinless chicken thighs

1/2 package Golden Curry seasoning mix

1 cup water

Salt and pepper to taste

Left over rice

1 cup frozen peas

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

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

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

Wednesday

Mexican night!!

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

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

Quesadilla

Flour tortillas

Ground beef

Taco seasoning

Water

Shredded cheese

Butter flavor cooking spray

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

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

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

Thursday

Left Overs

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

Friday

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

Saturday

Pepperoni Pizza Muffins

Mini Pineapple Pizzas

These sort of go together…

2 cans refrigerated biscuits, flattened

1 jar pizza sauce

1 bag pepperoni

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

1 bag shredded Italian blend cheese

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Spray a muffin pan with butter flavor cooking spray.

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

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

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

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

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

Bake at 450 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

Serve!

Mini Apple Pies

2 cans crescent roll dough

1 can apple pie filling

1/8 cup sugar

2 Tbsp cinnamon

1/2 Tsp vanilla

Butter flavor cooking spray

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

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

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

Sunday

Chicken and Dumplings…  sort of

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

So here’s what I cooked:

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts

2 packets chicken Flavor Boost

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

1 1/2 quarts water

1 cup frozen peas

1 pkg frozen dumplings

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

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

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

And now, some random photos for you…

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

Here’s William.

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

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

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

 

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The Great 2012 Cooking Extravaganza! Day 237 – 243 (week 35)

September 2, 2012 at 8:19 pm (Food) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

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

William was sick all week so he didn’t go to school at all.  On the one hand, he really wanted to go because he really likes the new school, but there was no way he would have made it through even one day.  He slept a LOT, started on one antibiotic but got switched to a stronger one when he was getting worse instead of better.

We almost had a hurricane, Isaac sort of skirted the coast, schools were cancelled on Monday just in case.  We certainly got a lot of rain, got some wind, but nothing major.  Kind of glad it missed us, but I feel bad for the folks who got the worst of it.

The RNC was in town so traffic was a nightmare, but my mom also came to stay with us for a few days since she was volunteering there, and I love it when she’s here!

Work was nuts, they rearranged again, and I’m trying to figure out what the person I took over from was doing, trying to hunt down notes and e-mails, still feel like I’m behind, but not so far behind that I’ll never catch up.

And Mike had a colonoscopy, so he spent almost three days on a liquid diet, which is always fun (NOT!).  Everything came out just fine, but it was a struggle.  And we get to do it again in a year, oh joy.  Of course, I’m due for one next year, too, so that ought to be interesting.

And James, well, he’s James.  Was supposed to cut the grass two weeks ago, finally cut part of the yard last week, ran out of gas and is waiting for me to go get some.  So much for being independent with that new car of his!  Not like it’s going to cost him $40 or something, we only have a one gallon gas can!  He worked a couple of days, still not getting as many hours as he would like, but he’s getting more than he was a month ago, so I guess he’s doing OK.  Don’t see much of him, between my work, his work, and him spending time with his girlfriend, but I guess he’s got to grow up sometime.

Anyway, I’m still sticking to posting at least once a week, so I’ll have a bunch of stuff for you all at once, rather than just one or two things every day.  I know it’s easier on me, not sure how you guys feel about it.  Would love some feedback!!

Monday

Left over night!!

We had left over meatloaf, mashed potatoes, broccoli, peas, Spasagna, corn muffins, spinach hummus and chips, and chocolate cake with home made chocolate butter cream frosting.  Everyone got something they liked, and we cleaned out some of the containers from the fridge!

Tuesday

Chicken Bacon Alfredo Pasta

5 boneless skinless chicken thighs

1 pound bacon

1 jar Alfredo sauce

1 box Dream Fields penne pasta

Cut the bacon into about 1″ pieces, fry until crisp, remove from pan to dish lined with paper towels.

Trim as much excess skin and fat as you can from the chicken, and cut it into bite sized pieces.  Fry in the bacon grease until done through.  Remove from pan.

Meanwhile, cook pasta per package directions, drain, do not rinse.  Put back in pot.  Add in chicken and alfredo sauce, heat over low about 5 minutes or just until sauce is warm.  Sprinkle over bacon pieces and serve!

Wednesday

Spaghetti with Smoked Sausage

1 rope chicken smoked sausage

1 package Dream Fields angel hair pasta

1 jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce

Cut sausage into rings and then into quarters.  Cook in a skillet over medium heat until cooked through and some pieces are slightly caramelized.  Add in sauce and heat over LOW while you cook the pasta to package directions.  Serve about 1 cup cooked pasta with about 1/2 cup sauce with sausage, sprinkle over Parmesan cheese if you want and serve!

Thursday

Chicken Noodle Soup with Biscuits

William was still feeling rough, and Mike was prepping for his test, so I took the easy road…  Canned chicken noodle soup and canned biscuits!!

Friday

Pay day, and our usual routine is to go out to eat then hit the comic shop.  Well, since Mike had his test and William was still out of school sick, when we got home from the hospital, Mike took a nap, and William and I ran errands.  Dropped of checks at a couple of places, including the rent, then we went to the comic shop early.  And instead of our usual Sonny’s or Jimmy John’s, we actually we to a restaurant, The Oaks, where William had a bacon cheeseburger (imagine that!) and Mike and I both had Grouper Reubens, kind of their specialty, and OH so yummy!  Onion straws on the side, didn’t stand a chance!

Saturday

More left overs, believe it or not, we still have some meatloaf left, some of the minis, plus a couple corn muffins, and I went grocery shopping so we had whatever we wanted as sides.  Just sort of a free-for-all!  But then I made dessert…

Fruit Pizza

1 Sugar cookie roll dough

1 box cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup sugar

2 Tsp vanilla

Fruit of your choice, sliced very thin (I used kiwi and peaches this time)

Spray a pizza pan with butter flavor cooking spray.  Spread cookie dough into pan all the way to the edge.  I pushed and pulled, but I think maybe cutting it into slices, putting them in the pan and THEN spreading them to fill the gaps might have been easier.  I’ll have to try that next time.  Bake at 350 degrees about 15-18 minutes or until lightly browned.  Remove from oven and allow to cool almost completely.

Mix cream cheese, sugar and vanilla in a small bowl, spread over cooled cookie.

Top with fruit slices in an appealing pattern, whatever you like.  Slice into eight pieces like a pizza and serve!

Sunday

Bacon Cheeseburger Casserole

1 bag frozen tater tots

1 pound ground beef

1 pound bacon

1 bag shredded cheddar cheese, or whatever kind of cheese you like, 2 cup size

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Spread frozen tots in a 13″ x 9″ casserole dish.

Cut bacon into about 1″ pieces, cook over medium heat in a skillet until crispy.  Remove from pan, spread over tots.

Cook ground beef in the bacon grease, crumbling as much as possible, cook until no longer pink.  Remove from pan and spread over tots.

Top the whole thing with the 2 cups of shredded cheese, season with salt and pepper if desired, and bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and serve!

You could serve this with the usual burger toppings if you wanted, ketchup, mustard, relish, onions, pickles, ranch, mayo, whatever your family likes, you could even put them out in little dishes and everyone could just get what they wanted on their serving!

So that’s our week in food!  Oh, and I also did my nails tonight, wanna see?

Yup, that’s my chubby thumb, but isn’t this color pretty?!  And I love the new stickers I got this week!!

Anyway, that’s it.  Until next time, eat well, love well, live well!!  And have a safe holiday tomorrow!!

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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 224

August 14, 2012 at 7:54 pm (Food) (, , , , , , , )

Hello again friends, and welcome back.  Hope you are all having a great week!

I’m in a mood tonight, so this will be a short post I’m afraid.  Just not into it tonight, but I wanted to try to keep up with this better than I have been of late.

Tonight’s dinner was SUPER easy, but yummy, so I can share…

2 pounds ground beef chuck

1/2 large jar great value spaghetti sauce

1 box Dreamfields penne pasta

1 Tbsp Italian seasoning mix

1 Tsp garlic powder

Brown ground beef, drain if needed, add in spices and garlic, then add in sauce, simmer while you cook the pasta to package directions.  Drain the pasta.  Put about 1 cup pasta and 1 cup sauce in a bowl, top with Parmesan cheese, and serve.

The meat sauce is more like a ragu than spaghetti sauce, because it’s more meat than sauce, so it needs the extra spices.  A little salt and pepper helps, too.

Really tasty!!

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

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The Great 2012 Cooking Extravaganza! Day 167

June 18, 2012 at 7:36 pm (Food) (, , , )

Well hello again friends, and welcome back!  Hope your week is starting out on a positive note.  Mine certainly has!

Except for the fact that everyone around here seems tired today, it wasn’t a bad day at all.  William didn’t call me once today to tell me he was bored.  James isn’t working today, so he joined us for dinner.  Mike came home early just because he could.  And I had a productive day at work and still felt like making dinner when I got home, and James helped.  So, all in all, a pretty good day!

Going to be a short post tonight, nothing overly exciting going on around here, and dinner was beyond simple, so here goes:

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Frozen Great Value Italian style meatballs, cooked per package directions, 6 per person

Great Value angel hair pasta, cooked to package directions

About 1/2 a jar of Great Value spaghetti sauce, flavor of your choice

Put the sauce in the pot you used to cook the spaghetti, after you’ve poured out the spaghetti to drain it.  Add the pasta back in, put it back on the still warm but turned off burner just for a minute or two.  Serve about 1 cup spaghetti with sauce and 6 meatballs per person, top with shredded or grated cheese of your choice.

Before you serve the spaghetti, if you like, you can add some freshly ground sea salt, fresh ground pepper, garlic powder, or herbs of your liking.  I can’t do the herbs, because then I have to listen to William complain about the “speckles” in his sauce, heaven forbid!

So, that’s it!  I’m an add for Walmart, yes I am.  Great Value everything on the menu tonight!!

Oh, and James chopped up a fresh cantaloupe and a fresh honey dew melon, so we had some of that as well.  YUM!

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

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The Great 2012 Cooking Extravaganza! Day 137

May 18, 2012 at 8:15 pm (Food) (, , , , , , , , )

Hello again friends, and welcome back!  Hope you all had a great week, maybe even a Funky Friday, and are looking forward to a fabulous weekend!

This past week was awesome at work, got my own area, learning more from doing than sitting in any class.  I really feel like I’m fitting in, getting into the swing of things.

William had a pretty good week at school, no major issues, not a ton of homework, rode his bike home two days without incidents, spent the other three with a friend.  Thank goodness his mom only works part time and can handle William!  Gotta remember to pay her next week, I’m a little behind.

James had a good week at work, got cleared to go back to regular duty, feeling all better.  Getting a lot of hours, so he’s getting a decent paycheck.  He’s taking my car for the weekend after he gets home tonight, guess I’ll just have to borrow Mike’s if I need to go anywhere!

Mike is feeling much better today.  Think the worst of that stomach bug is over with.  Feel kind of bad that he had to do the liquid diet thing one day, then the “white” diet the next day, but he’s feeling better, so it was worth it.

So tonight, I started the first cooking for the weekend.  Made a big meal that had plenty of leftovers, which is what I plan on doing all weekend so we can get through until payday on Wednesday!  Here’s the first big recipe:

Chicken Spaghetti

3 large boneless skinless chicken breasts

2 cans tomato paste

1 packet chicken Flavor Boost

1 quart water

1 Tsp garlic powder

1 Bay leaf

Mix everything except the chicken in the crock pot until you have something that looks more like tomato juice.  Add the chicken, and cook on LOW 8-10 hours.

When you get home in the evening, put on a pot of spaghetti, and while it’s cooking, remove the chicken from the crock pot, shred it, then put it in a sauce pan with a large jar of spaghetti sauce.  Heat just until heated through, since the chicken is already cooked.  Drain the spaghetti, mix the spaghetti and chicken sauce all in the larger pot, and serve by the bowl!  Top with shredded cheese or Parmesan cheese, it’s up to you!!

Three of us ate very well, and I had almost half of it leftover, two meals in one!

Tomorrow, I start on the homemade breads…

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

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The Great 2012 Cooking Extravaganza! Day 104

April 14, 2012 at 11:21 pm (Food) (, , , , )

Hello again friends, and welcome back!!  Hope you all are having a stunning Saturday!!

It’s been a little weird around here today…

I slept in a little, since I didn’t HAVE to get up to take anyone anywhere, but Mike was heading out to the doctor this morning and shocked me awake with the news that our “new” TV died.  It was free, from a friend, so I’m not complaining, but dang it was nice having a huge TV instead of what we can actually afford to buy!  I’m going to miss it…  I can’t read the cable program guide on the smaller TV, so I have to get someone else to read it to me, or get up off my big lazy butt and get close enough to read it!!  LOL!

So I got up, played on my computer for a little bit, asked William if we could borrow his TV until we can figure out a way to get a new one, and he agreed without TOO much whining.  He’s not happy about using the 15″ (I think!) TV again, but you know what, he’ll live!  We got things all moved around, including bringing his XBox into the living room so he can still play games with Mike, which is actually kind of cool.

I got a whopper of a headache, sort of snuck up on me, but I still managed to fold the last load of laundry, made a few new sets of jewelry (sold one already, to my mother of course, my best customer!), I’ll share some pics here in just a bit, took a nap thinking that might help with the headache (not), cleaned up the kitchen, made a nice dinner.

Here’s the jewelry:

And here’s the recipe for dinner:

Sausage Pasta

1 pkg egg noodles, cooked to package directions

1 pkg mild Italian sausage

1 small jar pasta sauce of choice

Shredded mozzarella cheese

Great Value garlic bread, cooked to package directions

Boil sausages about 10 minutes, or until ALMOST done.  Remove from water, and slice into rounds.  Cook in a large skillet until done through, and well browned (I like mine more crispy, but that’s just my taste!).  Reduce heat to low, add in pasta sauce and simmer while pasta is cooking.  Drain pasta, serve in a bowl topped with sausage and sauce, plus a little shredded cheese on top.  We also had garlic bread on the side!

Wishing for something ooey-gooey for dessert, but not up to making anything, so maybe I can talk Mike into making a run to the store…  Hmmmm…  I’ll let you know how that goes!

Anyway, hope you all have a great weekend, and until tomorrow, eat well, love well, live well!

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The Great 2012 Cooking Extravaganza! Day 100

April 10, 2012 at 11:18 pm (Food) (, , , , )

Hello again friends, and welcome back!  WOO HOO!!  100 Days of posts!  Wow, wasn’t sure I would make it this far, but here we are.

Another good day around here.  William had a birthday lunch at school, they do it once a month and everyone with a birthday in that month gets a special lunch, gets to invite a guest (parent, grandparent, friend, etc.), and gets cake.  I got to go, which was so cool, since this will be his last one in elementary school.  He’ll be in middle school next year (can’t believe that!), and they don’t do birthday lunches.

William got accepted at a charter school for next year (yeah!), had to stop by there and put in a small supply deposit for next year, and to hold his spot.  He’s kind of excited about going there, as one of their science classes uses Legos to teach the kids engineering.  Plus, the lunch room has TV’s and they run movies during lunch, so the kids are a little calmer, and entertained at the same time.

And of course, there was the usual shuttling kids here and there, but that’s nothing new, kind of getting used to it!

Anyway, James was home for dinner for the first time in a week, so I made a nice meal.  Here’s what we had:

Smoked Sausage Spaghetti

1 pkg turkey smoked sausage, cut into rings, then the rings cut into quarters

1 pkg spaghetti, linguine or angel hair pasta (I used angel hair this time)

1 jar non-chunky spaghetti sauce (non-chunky for William, specifically)

Shredded mozzarella cheese

Cook sausage pieces in a large skillet until slightly carmellized, add spaghetti sauce and simmer while pasta cooks.

Cook pasta according to package directions, drain.

Serve about 1 to 1 1/2 cups pasta with 1/4 of the meat and sauce mixture, top with a small sprinkling of shredded cheese.

We also had Great Value garlic bread sticks with this meal, cooked per their package directions.

They were a little bland for garlic bread sticks, but they were OK.

A nice meal, relatively easy to fix, and everyone enjoyed it.

That’s it for tonight!  Until tomorrow, eat well, love well, live well!

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The Great 2012 Cooking Extravaganza! Day 71

March 12, 2012 at 11:56 pm (Food) (, , , , , , )

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

Well, here we are, spring break for William, so no scouts tonight.  James took the day off from work just because he could, spent the day playing video games (big surprise).  Mike had to work, but seems like he had a good day.

I, on the other hand, had a weird day.  I had every intention of working on a new necklace, and finishing a chain for the pin bottle pendant I finished last week, but it just didn’t work out that way.  Spent over an hour clipping coupons, got James to help for a little just because I could.  Put more than 75% of them in the big envelope I keep for my mom, who’s church collects them for service members.  I just don’t buy that much name brand any more, it’s just cheaper to buy generic, and for the most part, I’ve never had any issues with generic stuff.  Went shopping, William helped.  William decided to have a couple of friends over for a while, things went well.  Then all of a sudden, William is saying he doesn’t feel well, and he’s running 101 fever.  No other symptoms to speak of, just a fever, and he just wants to lay down.  So I gave him Advil, made him start drinking Gatorade, and took the friends home.

Anyway, I ended up going back to a family favorite for dinner, just because I didn’t really have a plan, and it was easy enough that I could have it on the table quickly, and still keep an eye on William.

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

1 pound ground beef (I used ground round because it’s a little lower in fat, but still has good flavor)

1 bottle Great Value meat flavored spaghetti sauce

1 can Hunts tomato paste

1 Tsp garlic powder

1 pound pasta of choice (I used angel hair this time)

Salt and pepper to taste

Brown and drain the ground beef, then put it back in the pan.  Add in the tomato sauce, tomato paste and garlic powder.  Season with salt and pepper to your taste.  Mix well, and simmer over low while cooking the pasta to package directions.   Drain pasta, and serve with the meat sauce.

So, a quick and easy family favorite, which you can dress up with some veggies (assuming YOUR family will eat them, mine won’t!), serve with garlic bread or salad, and makes great leftovers.

And that’s it for today!  Until tomorrow, eat well, love well, live well!

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