The Great 2012 Cooking Extravaganza! Day 213 – 216

August 6, 2012 at 10:19 pm (Food) (, , , , , , , , )

Yeah, yeah, I know, behind again.  And not even a good excuse to offer you!  Not much cooking going on around here either…

So here’s what’s been going on in our little corner of the world…

Friday, Mike got home from his trip to Orlando.  James took off for the weekend.  Mike and William went to the comic store and picked up their regular order.  When I got home from work, we splurged a little and went to Sonny’s for dinner.  Hadn’t been in a while, wasn’t all that impressed.  William’s burger wasn’t cooked, Mike and I got cold corn on the cob (wasn’t supposed to be cold!), just not the best meal we’ve ever had there, but the waitress and manager comped William’s meal, and gave us a discount, so I guess it was OK.  Don’t think we’ll go out of our way to go again any time soon.  So, no cooking!

Saturday, I went to work for a couple of hours, yeah, everyone was a little behind, so they approved some OT for us, I took some!  When I got home, Mike, William and I went back to the comic shop.  They were having an anniversary sale, fill a short box for $50, which for us worked out to about 30 cents per book, because we packed our box!  Not as much as some folks I saw, but we did pretty good!  So, after poking through comics stacks for 3 HOURS, we went and got subs at Jimmy Johns, then William and I went school supply shopping.  He wasn’t thrilled, but he cooperated completely and was good as gold!  $130 later and he’s ready for school, got it all!  Finally got home around 6, got to sit down, look through all our comics, and just sort of nibbled the rest of the evening.  Again, no cooking!

Sunday, we got up, had bacon and eggs, I worked on my grocery list while the bacon cooked, got all my coupons ready.  Then we headed off to see The Dark Knight Rises…  yes, again!  Had to take William to see it!  Splurged on popcorn, but took our own bottled water (that big purse sometimes comes in handy!).  Had to stop back at the comic shop to get bags and boards for all those books we bought (this is turning into a bit of a money sucker…), stopped at McD’s because we all HAD to eat after all that time in the theater, then dropped the boys at home and went to Walmart.  Boy, Walmart on tax-free school shopping weekend is a little crazy!  Almost wished I didn’t need groceries, but I made it.  2 hours after walking in, finally walked out $350 later with groceries and prescriptions.  Needless to say, my plan to cook dinner was out the window.  I was whipped!  So, free for all, everyone got something, but mom didn’t really cook.

And here we are, another Monday, back to work.  Work was busy, feeling just a little overwhelmed with my new area, but starting to get a handle on it.  Got a few things off my desk, got a little more organized, but still didn’t get everything done I wanted to.  Gotta work on that some more!  Poured down rain, lightning and thunder, lights flickered at work a few times, interesting drive home, but no major issues, just slow.  James tried to cut the grass for me, ran out of gas.  Cut up a cantaloupe and honey dew for me during the day, then later a papaya.  LOVE having fresh cut fruit in the house!!  Made fruit bowls with a little of each, plus some grapes, like grabbing one for my lunch, and sometimes have one for dessert, too!  Finally cooked dinner!!  A new twist on our chicken casserole…

Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed if needed and cut into bite sized pieces

2 packages chicken flavor stuffing mix

3 cups water

1 stick butter

16 slices Swiss cheese (more or less, it’s up to you, we like it cheesy!!)

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 can cream of celery soup

1/2 pound bacon, cut into small pieces and cooked until crisp

3 Tbsp dry ranch dressing mix

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

Pour dry stuffing into casserole dish.  Heat water and butter in microwave 5 minutes or until butter is melted and water is hot but not boiling.  Pour water and butter over dry stuffing, mix well until all the dry stuff isn’t dry anymore.

Place cheese slices over stuffing, overlapping, to cover all the stuffing without going over the edges of your dish.

Spread crispy bacon over cheese.

Mix soups, ranch dressing mix and cut up chicken, spread over bacon and all the way to the edges of your dish.

Bake uncovered for 1 hour, serve!!

This went over really well, had good flavor, didn’t need salt or pepper or anything, Mike didn’t even put his Cajun seasoning on it!

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

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The Great 2012 Cooking Extravaganza! Day 152

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

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

It’s been quiet around here today…

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

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

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

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

OK, enough of the soap box rant…  sorry!

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

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

2 boxes Great Value chicken flavor stuffing

3 cups water

1 stick butter, cut into pieces

3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 large can Great Value cream of mushroom soup

8 slices Great Value Swiss cheese

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

2 Tbsp milk

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

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

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

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

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

Top with the Swiss cheese, overlapping as needed.

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

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

Vanilla Pudding Cake with Chocolate Pudding Sauce

Cake:

3/4 c butter

3 eggs

2 1/2 c all purpose flour

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 3/4 c sugar

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

1 1/4 c milk

1 pkg vanilla instant pudding mix

1/4 cup vegetable oil

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

9″ rounds (2)

8″ rounds (2)

8″ squares (2)

Cup cakes (18-24)

Mini Cakes (12)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

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

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

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

Bake as follows:

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

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

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

Chocolate pudding sauce:

1 large pkg chocolate instant pudding mix

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

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

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

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

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