Taco Bake

July 4, 2013 at 9:13 pm (Food) (, , , , , )

Well hello again!

I know it’s been a while, but I have to say, I’ve been completely, totally bored with food lately, so there hasn’t been a whole lot of creativity going on in my kitchen.  HOWEVER, I saw a recipe for something called baked tacos, looked interesting, but each one was a single serving, and I thought, well, I can do something a little different, a little better maybe, and feed the whole family instead of one person. And THIS is what I came up with!

TACO BAKE

2 1/2 pounds ground chuck

1/2 cup taco seasoning mix

1 1/3 cups water

3 cups shredded taco or fiesta blend cheese

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8 flour tortillas, soft taco size

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1 1/2 – 2 cups mild picante sauce

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Brown and drain ground chuck.  Put back into frying pan, add in water and taco seasoning, stir and simmer about 10 minutes.

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Spray bottom of a 13″ x 9″ baking dish with cooking spray of your choice.  Place 2 tortillas side by side in the bottom of baking dish.

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Spoon on about 1/3 to 1/2 cup picante sauce onto tortillas and spread all around, out to the edges of the tortillas.

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Spoon on about 1/3 of the taco meat,

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and sprinkle over about 1/2 – 2/3 cups shredded cheese.

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Repeat these layers ending with tortillas topped with the last of the sauce and cheese.  Should sort of be like a lasagne!

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Cover very loosely with foil, in fact you want to tent the foil up so it doesn’t steal your cheese.

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Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

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Cut into 8 equal servings.

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I hope you enjoy this as much as we did!  Of course, my picky eater William wouldn’t eat this because there were “chunks” in the sauce, but Mike and I ate it for several days as lunches, and it was awesome!!

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The Great 2012 Cooking Extravaganza day 327-333 (week 48)

December 2, 2012 at 9:52 pm (Food, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

Hello again friends, and welcome back!

It doesn’t seem like last week was Thanksgiving, but it was.  Full work week this week, and a crazy one at that!  Got a little OT, which will help pay for all the Christmas shopping I did, and the little bit I have left to do, so it’s all good!  Everything is wrapped already and under the tree.  William doesn’t believe in Santa any more, so now I get to torture him with wrapped boxes under the tree for weeks!  But we’re doing an Advent calendar this year, for the second year, so he gets a little something every day.  I don’t have an actual Advent calendar, so I’m improvising…  Chinese take out style boxes with numbers on them, got 8 filled so far, gotta get the rest done this weekend when we get paid again.  They’re reusable, so I think this will be our new tradition, but Mike says we need to do this for everyone, not just William, could get expensive!!!  Dollar store, here we come!!

Anyway, on to the food….

Monday

Left overs on the run – we had a school meeting to go to!

Tuesday

Clean out the fridge night!  We still had some Thanksgiving leftovers, lots of veggies, and we made fresh biscuits to go with it all.

Wednesday

Pesto Chicken with Pasta and Veggies

2-3 large boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 C frozen peas

1 C frozen cut green beans

Pesto flavor Philadelphia cooking cream

1 box Dream Fields pasta of your choice

Trim any excess skin or fat from the chicken and cut into small bite sized pieces.  Cook in a couple tablespoons of olive oil until no longer pink.  Add in vegetables, cover and steam 5 minutes.

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Meanwhile, cook the pasta to package directions.

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Add cooking cream to chicken and veggies, you can add a little milk if you need to so it thins out nicely.

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Drain pasta, add in to chicken and veggies.  Mix well and serve.

Nice one dish meal, too bad it’s not one pot, too!!

Thursday

Pork Chops and Eggs

I worked a little late, so Mike started dinner.  He fried up the chops with a little butter and salt.  Then made scrambled eggs with cheese, and some biscuits.  Quick and easy, and tasty!

Friday

Chicken Bacon Ranch Wraps

3 large boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 pound bacon

Ranch dressing mix

Prepared ranch dressing

Salsa

Tortillas

Cut bacon into small pieces, fry until crispy, remove to paper towel lined bowl and set aside.  DO NOT pour off grease.

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Trim excess skin and fat from chicken, cut into very small pieces.  Fry in the bacon grease with about 2 Tbsp dry ranch dressing mix.

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Put a little cheese of your choice on a tortilla, add in some chicken and bacon, top with some ranch dressing and salsa, and wrap it up.  Serve!

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YUM!!!

Saturday

Taco Salad

1 head Iceburg lettuce

1 pound ground beef or chuck

2/3 cup water

1/4 cup taco seasoning mix

Salsa

Ranch dressing

Shredded cheese

Crushed tortilla chips

Cook ground beef until no longer pink.  Drain any excess fat, add in water and taco seasoning, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer about 10 minutes.

While that’s simmering, chop the lettuce whatever way you like it, I went for almost a fine shredded look.

Put some lettuce in a bowl, top with about 1/3 of the prepared meat, 1/3 cup shredded cheese, 1/4 cup salsa, few Tbsp ranch dressing, and a handful of crushed chips.  Mix well, and serve!

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Sunday

Coconut Curry Chicken

3-4 large boneless skinless chicken breasts

2 cans coconut milk

1 Pkg golden curry mix

Rice

Knorr chicken flavor concentrated stock

Trim chicken of excess skin or fat.  Put into crock pot.  Add in coconut milk and curry spices (the brand I buy comes in a block), set to LOW and cook 8-10 hours or HIGH for 4-5 hours.  Stir occasionally to mix the curry with the coconut milk, makes a very nice sauce.

About 30-45 minutes before the chicken is supposed to be done, make rice in the rice cooker per directions, but add in the Knorr chicken stock to the water before you start the cooker.

While the rice is cooking, you can steam some veggies as a side dish, I did broccoli and peas tonight.

When the chicken is done, remove from pot and shred.  Serve by putting rice on the plate, top with some shredded chicken and some sauce.  Serve with your veggies, YUM!!!

So that’s it for this week.  Couple of repeats I know, but I’ve been a little busy this week.  I’ll try harder next week!!

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

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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 306-312 (week 45)

November 11, 2012 at 9:24 pm (Food, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Welcome back friends!  Hope you all had a glorious week!  It was certainly an interesting one for us.

Mike’s birthday was yesterday, Happy Birthday Baby!  Balloons, candy, ice cream cake, pizza, movies.  Nice evening!!

William got his first middle school report card, 7 A’s, 1 B, WAY TO GO William!

Work was work, James was James, no idea what’s going on with him, but he’s a teenager, I don’t think I’m SUPPOSED to know what’s going on any more.

Working on a new bracelet, here’s where I’m at as of today:

And of course, new nail design for the week:

So, kind of a quiet week, but that’s OK!  Oh, almost forgot, my office is putting together a cook book for charity, so I put in about 10 recipes.  Would have done more, but they set a limit…  That’s OK, now I know where to go when I’m ready to do mine in print!!

On to the food…

Monday

Free for all!

We had all that cool stuff left over from all that cooking I did last Sunday, so everyone got what they wanted, and I cleaned out the fridge.  Nice, easy Monday night!

Tuesday

Goulash (formerly “Hot Brown and Lumpy”)

1 pound ground beef

2 cups water

1 cup frozen peas

1 box Dream Fields penne pasta

6 Tbsp brown gravy mix

Prepare pasta to package directions, drain.

While cooking the pasta, brown the ground beef, drain.  Add in the water and gravy mix, bring to a boil.  Add in peas, boil 2 minutes, reduce heat, simmer about 10 minutes, just about the time it takes the pasta to cook.  Add in the drained pasta, mix well.  Salt and pepper to taste, and serve in a bowl!

I made some canned biscuits to go with dinner, it was a nice meal.

Wednesday

Five Guys burgers

Yeah, we had some money left over as we got closer to pay day, so we splurged just a little.

Thursday

Santa Fe Chicken

2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of any excess fat or skin, cut into small bite sized pieces

1/2 box Orzo style pasta

1 can Black beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup frozen peas

1 cup frozen green beans

1 Pkg Sante Fe flavor cooking cream

Cook chicken in a large skillet until no longer pink.  Add in cooking cream, black beans, peas and green beans.  Mix well, simmer on low while you cook your pasta to package directions.  Drain pasta, add in to skillet and mix again.  Serve!

Friday

Cheesecake Factory

Well, we’re big fans of The Big Bang Theory, so we decided that since we couldn’t get in to Red Robin in less than an hour, we would give this place a try.  Well, let me tell you, the food was good, but WAY over priced.  $11.95 for a burger and fries!  Don’t get me wrong, it was good, but not THAT good!  And I LOVE cheesecake, but not for $6.95 a SLICE!  The waiter was slow, even once we got seated, we were there for about an hour and a half, and I was seriously disappointed that he brought us the dessert menu then disappeared for 15 minutes so that we didn’t actually order dessert, we went somewhere else.  I would NOT recommend going unless you have that kind of cash to blow.  I guess we’re more the Five Guys kind of folks, and even that I think is overpriced, but at least I don’t have to wait an hour for it!

Saturday

Frozen pizza, Ice cream cake

Yeah, it was pay week, and I went grocery shopping so we had all kinds of food I could have made, but it seemed like a pizza kind of night, Mike’s birthday and all.  Let him pick the movies, had pizza and bread sticks, then we went and got an ice cream cake and balloons.

Sunday

Crock Pot Enchiladas

4 large boneless skinless chicken breasts (approx 1 lb each), trimmed of any leftover skin or fat

1/2 cup taco seasoning mix

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 jar chunky salsa, mild (or your preference)

2 cups shredded cheese, Mexican blend or chedda

Tortilla chips

Cook chicken breasts in water with taco seasoning on the stove, covered, for about 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours, or until done through and falling apart when you try to take them out.  Shred chicken.

Mix soup, salsa and shredded chicken in a bowl, place about 1/4 of the mixture in the bottom of the crock pot.  Layer shredded chicken mixture, cheese, tortilla chips, until you have 3 to 4 layers.  Finish off with a layer of tortilla chips and cheese. Cover and cook on LOW for 3-4 hours or until bubbly and cheese is melted well.  Serve!

And since I went shopping, including a side trip to the Oriental market and the fruit stand, I made a KILLER fruit salad for this week…

Pineapple

Dragon fruit

Pomegranate

Red grapes

Green grapes

Strawberries

And we’re off tomorrow, for Veteran’s day, so I think I’ll do a little cooking tomorrow with all the cool stuff I got this weekend.  I even got stuff to try my hand at Ratatouille!

So until next time, eat well, love well, live well!!

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The Great 2012 Cooking Extravaganza! Day 271 – 277 (Week 40)

October 8, 2012 at 10:25 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Hello again friends, and welcome back!  Hope you’ve all had a perfectly wonderful week, and a glorious weekend!  Here we are at Monday again, I know, I’m behind, but I think you’ll forgive me…

Last week was interesting.  Work was crazy, end of the month always is, but this one was crazier than the last few.  Half our group is new people, less than 3 months in, and the senior coordinator was out for the week, so I became the go-to person.  I know I am approachable, I try very hard to be that way, but I felt like there were whole days where I didn’t get any of my own work done because I was so busy answering everyone else’s questions!  It’s nice to be needed again, but come on…

Anyway, all the family were relatively healthy for a change, knock on wood!  William didn’t miss any school.  Mike missed one day of work, but I think it was more of a mental health kind of day.  James got called in for extra hours at his job, makes for a nice pay check.  I think I need to plan a day off, just for me…

So I did a little cooking during the week, nothing Earth shattering, but some fun new dishes.  Of course, I pretty much HAD to cook considering I spent almost $500 in groceries last weekend.  But it all came in handy, and I got to try out the new recipes!  YEAH!  Looking forward to trying even more new stuff this weekend, trying to put together a plan for what I want to cook, make sure I have everything I need on hand.  Working on trimming down the shopping list, trimming down the grocery budget, and maybe trimming down the family a little!

Anyway, here we go…

Monday

Mongolian Beef

1/2 lb beef tenderloin, thinly sliced against the grain

1 Tbsp corn starch

2 cloves minced garlic

1/4 tsp ground ginger

3 Tbsp soy sauce

1 1/2 Tbsp honey or agave nectar or sugar

1 tsp rice wine or dry sherry

2 Tbsp water

3 green onions, cut into 1″ pieces, green part only

1-2 Tbsp vegetable oil or canola oil

Stir together soy sauce, honey, water and wine.  Set aside.

Heat oil in pan over medium heat.  Dredge the beef in corn starch, shake off the excess.  Add the beef to the hot pan and quickly saute until lightly browned.

Add in garlic and ginger, saute for a few seconds.  Add the sauce you set aside earlier.  The sauce should quickly come to a boil.  Lower heat and simmer, stirring constantly.  Continue to cook until the sauce thickens and glazes the beef.

Toss in the green onions at the last minute, mix, and serve!

Adapted from a recipe I found on cHow Divine http://www.chowdivine.com

Sorry, I didn’t get photos, but then mine didn’t look anywhere near as pretty as hers did!  But it was yummy…

Orange Chicken

4 boneless skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess skin and fat (as much as you can without being too anal) and cut into bite sized pieces

1 Tbsp orange flavoring

1 Tbsp garlic, minced

1 Tsp ground ginger

2 Tbsp honey

1 Tsp corn starch

2 Tbsp vegetable oil plus 1 Tsp sesame oil for frying

Put the oils in a large skillet, heat on medium.  Add in chicken, saute until no longer pink.  Add in orange, garlic, ginger, honey and corn starch, mixing well to coat chicken, sauce will thicken quickly.  When chicken is done through, remove from heat and serve!  Really good with fresh steamed rice…

Vegetable Egg Rolls

1 head cabbage, shredded very fine

12 baby carrots, shredded very fine

2 Tbsp Hoisin sauce

1 Tbsp teriyaki sauce

1 Pkg egg roll wrappers

Oil for frying

Mix cabbage, carrots and sauces together.  Spoon about 2 Tbsp of the mixture into an egg roll wrapper, fold up bottom and tuck in filling.  Fold in two side corners, dampen final corner and roll closed.

Fry about 2 minutes per side in hot oil until golden brown.  Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.

Left over rolls (those supper yummy half whole wheat Virginia light rolls I made last weekend…)

Tuesday

SW Egg rolls with cheese

I had made about 3 dozen of those south west style egg rolls with the taco seasoned beef and black beans inside, we had 17 left after our little munch fest.  Well, I put those in a big deep pan, covered them with shredded cheese and baked them at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.  They crisped up a little on the exposed edges, but sort of tasted like mini burritos with the melted cheese, and made for a nice meal!

Wednesday

Pork Chops Everglades

6 boneless skinless porkchops

Everglades original seasoning (the green kind)

Heat a large skillet over medium, add in the chops.  Sprinkle over Everglades seasoning instead of salt and pepper, make sure you sprinkle both sides (when you turn them).  I have no idea how much we used, but it sort of looked like we had used it in place of salt and pepper, so liberally sprinkled, but not coated with seasoning.  Saute until done through and browned on the outside.

Sauteed green beans with garlic

About 1/2 lb fresh green beans, ends removed, cut into 1″ pieces

1 Tbsp minced garlic

3 Tbsp butter

Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat, add in garlic, mix a little, add in green beans and saute about 10 minutes or until beans are bright green and crisp tender.  Serve!

Fruit Salad

This was a fun fruit salad for me, because William helped me cut up everything!

1 medium Gala apple

1 medium Bartlett pear

1 medium Dragon fruit

About 30 large red grapes

Cut the apple and the pear into 8th wedges, remove seed cores, slice into thin bite sized pieces.

Cut dragon fruit in half.  Spoon white seeded core out of pink skin, making sure to remove all the skin pieces, it’s not edible.  Cut white fruit into small bite sized pieces.

Cut grapes into quarters.

Toss all this together, and serve!

Thursday

Jet’s Pizza

Yeah, we had take out…  we needed a night off!

Friday

Bacon Cheeseburgers

1 lb ground beef

1/2 lb bacon (about 8 pieces)

1 egg

Salt and pepper to taste

Sliced cheese of your choice

Burger buns

Mix ground beef, egg, salt and pepper together, mix VERY well, until beef is really smooth rather than crumbly.  Form into 4 patties.  Fry in a large pan over medium heat, flipping as needed to keep from burning.  Cook until medium well, or however YOU like your burgers.  We like ours ever so slightly pink at the very center and slightly crispy on the outside.

Cook the bacon crispy, break each piece in half, give each burger four half strips of bacon, cheese and toppings of your choice, serve on fresh burger buns, YUM!

Tots – yeah, frozen tots, cooked to package directions, whichever way you like to cook them.  I prefer them fried, but that’s not very healthy, so I usually bake them…  boring, but OK.

Saturday

Fried Chicken Nuggets

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into small tenders or large nuggets, your choice

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/4 cup Everglades seasoning (the orange version this time)

1 Tbsp fresh ground black pepper

Heat 3-4 Tbsp vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

Mix the flour and seasonings together in a large shallow bowl.  Add the chicken a few pieces at a time to this mix, let it sit for a minute or two on each side.  Shake off any excess and add to hot pan.  Cook about 4-5 minutes per side, or until done through.  Remove to paper towel lined serving dish.  Cook in batches until all chicken is done.  Serve!

Chicken gravy – made from a mix, yes I cheated a little, but it wasn’t thickening the way I wanted, so I added some of the flour mixture from coating the chicken, made it really tasty!

steamed veggies – broccoli, peas, green beans

Microwave Brownies

4 Tbsp flour

4 Tbsp sugar

2 Tbsp cocoa powder

2 Tbsp oil

2 Tbsp water

Pinch salt

Mix everything together in a coffee mug or shallow bowl.  You can add in a few chocolate chips or some nuts if you want, just don’t go overboard on the chocolate chips, it doesn’t cook as well.  We’ve been adding about 2 Tbsp chocolate chips and about a dozen nuts.  I like pecans, Mike likes almonds, they both work well!

Microwave 1 minute plus 10-15 seconds, allow to cook 5 minutes before serving.

Really good with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top!

Sunday

We went to Mom’s to celebrate Dad’s birthday, a couple weeks late, but at least we didn’t take all those colds and infections over there with us!  Burgers, baked beans, potato salad, chips…  LOVE picnic food!!

Oh, and I did my nails Saturday, between loads of laundry, tell me what you think!

Had fun with this one!

Anyway, that’s it for last week…  Already working on this week, probably not a lot new, but some good stuff nonetheless…

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

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The Great 2012 Cooking Extravaganza! Day 217

August 7, 2012 at 7:50 pm (Food, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

Hello again friends, and welcome back!!  Hope your week is going well.

Busy, busy, busy, but that’s a good thing!  I hate being bored, and I’m finally hitting my stride, I think.

James is still MIA, no idea when he’ll be home, but that’s not unusual.

William wasn’t too bored today, but he did nap a bit off and on.  Unloaded the dishwasher for me, read some of his second book for school, played some games, and watched some TV.  I feel bad that his summer hasn’t been overly exciting, but it is what it is.  I was sort of hoping he would get a week with his grandparents, but we never talked about it, so it didn’t happen.  Oh well…

Mike had a good day at work, got a new client today, someone interesting, he needs that challenge.

Anyway, quick and easy dinner tonight. here’s what we had:

Quinoa – about 1 cup

Water – 2 cups

1 packet beef flavor Flavor Boost

Put these in the rice cooker, mix them up until the beef flavor stuff is mixed in well, set to cook and wait until the button pops.  Just like making rice!

Turkey smoked sausage, cut into small bite sized wedges, heat in a skillet over medium heat until heated through and slightly browned.

Frozen broccoli, put in a large glass bowl with about 2 Tbsp butter, covered, cooked on high in the microwave 7 minutes.

Frozen peas, put in a small glass bowl with about 1 Tsp butter, covered, cooked on high in the microwave 3 minutes.

Everyone got something they liked, tried something they had only had once before, and everyone walked away from the table full!  Plus a little leftover Quinoa and broccoli for lunch tomorrow!

So that’s it, nothing tough, but really tasty!!

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

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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 189-193

July 14, 2012 at 6:29 pm (Food) (, , )

Hello again friends, welcome back!  Sorry for the prolonged absence, but I have an excuse!!  (no, my dog did not eat my log book)

Tuesday afternoon, I got a call from my boys saying they heard a really loud crack followed immediately by thunder, and half the lights in the house went out.  Silly me, I figure lightning hit CLOSE TO the house and just set something off.  So I send James, 19 years old, old enough to handle some instructions, out to the garage to check the breaker box.  He says a couple of them are off or popped, so I tell him to turn them all the way off, then back on, and see if that doesn’t fix things.  Well, they got lights back, but the A/C wasn’t working and the cable/internet/phone weren’t working.  So, first things first, I decide that I can wait until I get home to call the landlord…  first mistake.  No after hours service, no after hours phone number even, and the person I usually deal with never answers his cell phone, and that night was no exception.  Great.  Next call, Verizon, see if they can reset the cable, or whatever it is they do.  They run all sorts of tests while I wait on the phone, in the garage, sweating my butt off (Oh how I wish!!), have me disconnect the battery (which looks like a mini car battery by the way, did NOT need to know that) and reconnect it, plug the unit into a different outlet (had to hunt down some extension cords for that one, sweat some more), still nothing.  So, they decide they have to send out a technician, can’t come out until Thursday, oh joy.  Well, we can live without cable and internet, right?  We aren’t like addicted or anything, right??  Well….  we didn’t kill each other, so I guess we were OK.  We all sat around reading that night.  Needless to say, I did NOT cook!  No A/C, in Florida, in July…  no, I did NOT cook!!!  KFC, here we come.

So Wednesday morning, I finally get hold of the landlord’s office, not my particular agent, but the office.  I tell them what we think happened, lightning really close to the house, think maybe it blew a circuit breaker or something.  Could they send someone out.  They give me the number of an electrician, whom I call three times, no answer, left messages.  After lunch, I call back to the landlord, they have also called and left messages without getting answers, so let’s try someone else.  This time, THEY make the calls, not me.  About an hour later, I get a call from an electrician, or their office at least.  Very nice lady, tell her the story, she sends someone out.  Sometime during the afternoon they show up, no warning call as they said they would, but I guess that’s OK.  They replaced a GFI (surge protected) outlet in the garage that was fried, but they never mention what they think might have done that, they just say, we fixed it, should be all good now.  Well, just so happens that this outlet is where the Verizon box was plugged in, so we think Hey, if the outlet is fixed, maybe the Verizon might work???  No…  that would just be too easy!  So, another night with no A/C, no cable, no internet, no phone, we decide to order pizza and plug in a movie.  Again, no A/C, in Florida, in July, I did NOT cook!

Thursday morning rolls around, I call the landlord again, still have yet to talk to MY agent, but I’m OK with that, I don’t much like him anyway, he’s a bit of an ass.  I do, however, really like his associate/assistant or whatever he is.  Guy named Nate, very helpful, doesn’t talk down to me, doesn’t make me feel like I’ve been slimed, yeah, I can deal with this guy, and he calls me back!  Tell him the electrician was in, replaced an outlet, but something is still not right, we still don’t have A/C.  The unit is working, blowing air, the electrician checked everything and said that electrically it was fine.  Told him about the fried Verizon box, happens to be on the same wall as the air handler in the garage that isn’t doing it’s job, might just be a coincidence, tell him Verizon is coming out in the afternoon, maybe they could send out an A/C person, too?  Yeah, OK, we’ll send someone, they’ll call you to let you know when they will be there. This time they got a really good company first try.  Got a call not even an hour later, they would be there between 4 and 6, check everything out and fix it right up!  I’m thinking YEAH!!  But it just wasn’t meant to be…  Verizon replaced the hub out in the garage that powers the whole internet/cable/phone system, so we had internet and cable again, but still no phone.  Technician says that’s pretty normal, takes a few hours for the system to reset itself, but he’ll ask them to move it along a little.  Um, yeah.  Anyway, the A/C guy is poking around when I get home from work, says everything is working but all the freon is gone.  OK, where did it go???  So, I ask him, did anyone tell you what we think happened here?  Ummm, no…  so I tell him, lightning close to the house, not sure exactly what happened, but they had to replace a GFI outlet and the Verizon hub.  Hmmm…  next thing I know, he’s climbing around on the roof!  OK, no A/C unit up there, buddy, what the heck??  Well, seems that the condenser in outside, and there is a copper pipe which goes from the condenser to the air handler in the garage, UP OVER THE ROOF.  Well, lightning didn’t strike NEAR the house, lightning struck this copper pipe ON THE HOUSE, put a hole in the pipe letting the freon out, conducted the electricity into the garage, and fried both the outlet and the Verizon box, and, we later found out, shorted out the phone lines which still don’t work!  And as it turned out, he did not have the parts he needed to fix this particular issue, so he had to come back Friday.   😦   So, still, no A/C Thursday night.  It was Mike’s late night at work, and he had to stop at Walmart on his way home anyway, so two huge fans, chicken strips and ice cream!!  Once again, no A/C, in Florida, in July, I did NOT cook!!

Here’s the pics of the pipe:

That black spot with the hole in the middle is the original strike point, and the smaller holes are where the lightning sort of skittered across the pipe.

Anyway, he came back Friday afternoon, fixed everything up, just in time for James to leave for work and a weekend with the girlfriend.  I feel bad that he and William suffered through that heat all those days, but they were really good sports about the whole thing.  They cleared paths in the garage for the workers, broke down a bunch of empty boxes and put them away or got them ready for trash.  Still managed to do some chores even though it was 90+ in the house.  Good kids!!!

Meanwhile, while I was at work, I got onto the Verizon website and chatted with a technician while I was doing some work, they didn’t have my ticket in their online system, so I actually had to tell this guy what happened, but that was OK.  I’m a fairly quick typist most of the time.  So they ran some more tests, and came back to tell me that there was a short somewhere inside the house keeping the dial tone from reaching the phone, said their system said “hazardous potential” when they tried to send a signal, and they could send someone out for $79.99 plus $39.99 an hour to fix it.  I think not!!  So, I called Nate the landlord guy back, told him what was going on, asked him to send that nice electrician back out.  Some time next week would be fine, it’s not critical, we can live without phone service, after all, we ALL have cell phones!  But it does need to be fixed, if nothing else, for whomever ends up buying this house someday!

Oh, and one bit of good news, on Friday the 13th ironically…  my temp position WILL be turning into a permanent position, just need to hammer out the details with the head of HR this coming week!  YEAH!!!  So, even though we finally had A/C, we had to go out and celebrate!  So, dinner at Golden Corral, yummy!

And here we are, Saturday.  Grocery shopping is done, laundry is about half done, dishes are done, chicken flavored rice is in the cooker, going to fry up some Kielbasa and maybe steam some veggies.  Nothing too complicated, but home made nonetheless. Sorry, no complicated recipes today, I’m just not up to it after this week!  But I’m thinking about doing some prep work for the rest of the week tomorrow, and maybe a little baking, so maybe I’ll have something cool to share tomorrow.  Oh wait, guess I could tell you about the rice…

Chicken Flavored Rice

Rice Cooker!

Fill pot with water to “3” mark

Add in 2 packets of Chicken flavor Flavor Boost, mix well

Add in 3 cups (not actual “cups”, but the “cup” that came with your rice cooker!!) rice, stir until rice settles

Plug in the cooker, set to cook, and wait until it pops!

Serve with whatever you like to have with rice!  It’s sort of like Rice a Roni without the Roni part…

Anyway, that’s it for today.  My fingers and forearms are tired from typing, and I gotta go cook that Kielbasa, it won’t cook itself.

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

 

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The Great 2012 Cooking Extravaganza! Day 187

July 8, 2012 at 7:24 pm (Food) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

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

Mine has been productive, if not overly exciting.  Made a bunch of stuff yesterday, which you’ve already read about if you’re a regular visitor, and cooked some more today, plus got laundry done and the kitchen cleaned up and the grocery shopping done, among other things!

Nothing interesting to report around here today, no big goings-on, just working on a clutch purse for myself, I’ll post a picture when it’s done.  William has a friend over today, same friend he went to Disney with.  Think his parents are out on a date night, so he’s here with us for the evening.  The boys had pizza for dinner, not home made, just Hot N Ready.  They enjoy it, not entirely sure why, but they’re kids!

Mike and I, on the other hand, had roast beef, potatoes, carrots and home made bread!  Here are the recipes for you:

Pot Roast

1 rump roast (this really does seem to be the best cut for my crock pot!) about 2-3 pounds

4 medium potatoes, washed and cut into bite sized pieces

10-12 large baby-cut carrots, washed

3 green onions, green part only, cut into large sections

2 packets beef Flavor Boost

1 – 1 1/2 quarts water

Put potatoes and carrots in the crock pot, top with the roast then the onions.  Mix the Flavor Boost packets into the water, and pour over the meat and veggies.  Cook on LOW 6-7 hours, or HIGH 3-4 hours.  Remove the onion pieces, unless you’re really into onions. We’re not, they are just for flavor for us.  Remove the roast to a serving tray and the potatoes and carrots to a serving bowl.  Scoop out 3 cups of the liquid and transfer to a sauce pan.  Mix in 9 Tbsp brown gravy mix, stirring very well, and heat over medium high until thick and bubbly.  Slice the meat, and serve!!

Honey Oat Bread (1 1/2 pound loaf)

7 1/2 ounces water, 80-90 degrees (a little warm)

3 Tbsp honey

1 cup wheat flour

1 cup bread flour

1 cup old fashioned oats

1 1/2 Tbsp dry milk

1 1/4 Tsp salt

1 1/2 Tbsp butter, cut into quarters

1 1/2 tsp bread machine/fast rise yeast

1) Put water and honey into bread machine pan

2) Add in dry ingredients except yeast.  Tap pan to settle, then level with a spatula and push a little into the corners of the pan.  Put the butter in the corners.

3) Make a small well in the center of the ingredients, add in the yeast.  Lock pan into bread machine.

4) Program for basic/specialty bread and whatever crust color you prefer.  I usually go for medium, unless I’m making bread that I know is really dense, which I would set for dark so I get a crustier bread.  Start machine and leave it alone until it’s done!

Let cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then remove from pan and allow to cool another 10 minutes before slicing.  Use a bread knife, or you will have a crumby mess!

Serve warm with lots of butter!!

This is a slightly sweet, dense bread, with a nice crust.  It’s going to make a really good breakfast toast tomorrow morning, and it isn’t so sweet that it wasn’t good with dinner, in fact it was really good dipped in gravy.

So that’s it for tonight.  I was thinking about making fruit wontons, but my feet and hips are still sore from being on them so long yesterday making all those egg rolls, so maybe tomorrow night, we’ll see.  Maybe I can talk James into helping, if he’s not working.

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

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The Great 2012 Cooking Extravaganza! Day 176 & 177

June 28, 2012 at 8:06 pm (Food) (, , , , )

Hello again friends, and welcome back!

It’s been a sort of slow week around here, but that’s OK, I think we need a week like this from time to time.

William is well settled in to his summer routine, gotta go get him those books so he can get busy reading!

James is working, Mike just got home a little while ago, I had a quiet day at work.

Anyway, last night we sort of had a free-for-all dinner.  I made a couple of quick and easy baked potatoes for Mike and I, William had a burrito, James went to a card game, so no idea what he ate before he left.  Nothing special…

Tonight though, I made a good meal, that no one wanted to eat!  I’ll give you the recipe anyway…

Pot Roast and Potatoes

1 chuck roast, you pick the size and how much fat you like on it – I like it a little leaner

3-4 medium potatoes, washed and cut into bite sized pieces

1 packet dry French onion soup mix

2 quarts water (or whatever it takes to fill your crock pot)

Yes, we’re heading for the crock pot again!  I just love that thing.

Put your roast and cut up potatoes in the pot.  Mix the water and onion soup mix in a pitcher, pour over the meat and potatoes.  Cook on LOW 8-10 hours or HIGH 4-5 hours.

Remove the roast and potatoes to a serving tray.  Strain some of the juices from the pot, I did about 4 cups, and add in some brown gravy mix.  Stir well, simmer until thickened, and serve with the meat and potatoes!

Yummy meal, and leftovers too!

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

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