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Monday, February 27, 2012

Tasty Marinade

This is a great recipe for marinade.  It is wonderful on all meat and poultry.  A friend I used to work with gave me this recipe that has gotten so much use.  Thanks Chuck! 

Tasty Marinade
1 1/2 C. oil (canola or vegetable)
1/4 C. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 C. soy sauce
1/3 C. fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 C. wine vinegar
2 1/2 tsp. salt
2 garlic cloves crushed/minced
2 Tbsp. dry mustard
1 Tbsp. black pepper
1 1/2 tsp. parsley flakes

Combine all ingredients.  This makes quite a bit of marinade so you can use half and freeze half or just make a half recipe.  I like to use 1/2 recipe in a ziploc bag with my chicken breasts and let them marinade over night for the most flavor.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Crouton Chicken Parmesan

So I've decided that I'm not going to win any food photography awards from this blog!  But I'm o.k. with that.  If it tastes good that's what is important.  I need to also remember to take pictures before everyone digs in and half the pan is gone.  I'm learning as I go.  This was a dish that I found on Pinterest.  If you aren't on Pinterest you should be!  It's a great way to keep recipes, ideas, and everything organized.  I have about 40 food blogs I regularly follow and this works great to keep recipes that I want to try in a folder (or pin board) and also my favorite recipes I have in a folder.  This recipe came from Food Wishes.  It is a fun blog I just recently found and I enjoy the videos.  I changed up the recipe a bit and you can do it either way.

Use some good seasonings from Penzey's Spices in this recipe for great flavor.  If you haven't tried Penzey's yet you need to you won't be disappointed.  They have the best spices EVER!  I just got my new magazine yesterday and there is a $5 off $10 purchase if you use the coupon code 00002C that expires May 28, 2012

So recommendations for today: try Penzeys and Pinterest :)

Crouton Chicken Parmesan
recipe adapted from Food Wishes
2 split chicken breast (bone-in split chicken breast is what I used)
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 onion
Italian herb mix
garlic salt
olive oil
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 jar (about 23 oz) of your favorite marinara or spaghetti sauce
1 package of garlic flavored croutons (I used Texas Toast Garlic Butter)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
about 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

You will want to start this cooking in the morning in the crock pot.  My favorite grocery store, Martin's, had their bone-in split chicken breast on sale for 87 cents/lb.  That's a great deal so I stocked up.  Cut up the onion and throw it in the crock pot with your chicken broth.  You can use a can, box, or do what I do and use chicken soup base and water.  I put about a teaspoon of the Italian herb mix in.  Put whatever you want in there and let the chicken cook on low for about 6 hours or until finished. 

Preheat oven to 350.  Let the chicken cool and save your juice from the crock pot.  Drizzle olive oil in a casserole dish (mine was a little smaller than 13x9").  Add minced garlic to the bottom of the pan.  When the chicken is cool enough to handle, discard the skin, take the meat off, and place in the bottom of the casserole dish.  Pour about 1/2-1 cup of the remaining juice over the chicken.  Sprinkle garlic salt over the chicken and then pour the jar of marinara or sauce over the chicken.  Next, sprinkle about 1 cup of mozzarella and half of the parmesan cheese over the sauce.  Spread bag of croutons over this cheese mix.  I added a little more Italian herb mix too and then top with remaining cheese.  Bake for about 25 minutes or until browned.

While my chicken was baking, I poured my chicken stock from the crock pot through a strainer into a pot to boil my pasta that I was serving along with this.  I use a low carb pasta called Dreamfields Pasta that is delicious. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Liz's Scrumptious Pancakes and Mrs. Momsworth Syrup

Happy National Pancake Week!  To celebrate this special week I am posting the best tasting pancake recipe that I have ever made.  My friend, Liz, shared this recipe with me.  She made them when we were vacationing together and this is a family favorite of theirs and now ours.  They were so delicate and flavorful.  Give them a try with some easy homemade syrup and you will be hooked.

Liz's Pancakes
2 C. flour
2 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp oil (vegetable, canola, etc)
2 C. buttermilk *(see note below how to make your own)
1 C. plain yogurt (I used Greek yogurt)
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla

*if you don't have buttermilk you can simply make your own which is what I always do...just add 1 Tbsp. vinegar or lemon juice per cup of milk in a glass (or non-metal) measuring cup and fill the rest with milk.  Since this recipe calls for 2 cups buttermilk, I added 2 Tbsp. of lemon juice and then enough milk to make 2 cups.  Let this sit for about 5 minutes and then it is ready to use.

Mix all ingredients together.  My batter was quite thin.  I let the batter rest for a bit while I made my syrup.  Grease skillet using a little coconut oil or a non-stick spray.  Pour small amount of batter into pan and flip when you see small bubbles around the edges. 

Mrs. Momsworth buttermilk syrup
1/2 cup (one stick) butter...use real butter...margarine is EVIL not to mention tastes nasty!
1 1/2 Cups sugar
2 Tbsp. corn syrup
3/4 C. buttermilk (see buttermilk note above)
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. vanilla

Use a large saucepan because this mix bubbles up.  Melt all ingredients except vanilla in a large saucepan.  Bring to a boil stirring regularly for 7 minutes.  Remove from heat and add vanilla.  I love to use vanilla bean paste.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Grandma Cookie's Carrot Cake

My mom, a.k.a. Grandma Cookie, is the best cook!  I'm sure I learned my love for cooking from her.  She always made the best  meals for us growing up which is no small task since I have 8 siblings!  I remember her always bringing in the best homemade goodies to elementary school.  I still have former classmates that talk about how they remember her delicious treats too.  When Mom and Dad got married in 1970 they received a cookbook from my great grandma that had this recipe for carrot cake in it.  It is one of Mom's specialties and truly a family favorite.
Grandma Cookie's Carrot Cake
2 C. flour
2 C. sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 Cups oil (Canola, vegetable, etc)
*you could substitute apple sauce for 1/2 of the oil for healthier version 3/4 C oil 3/4 C apple sauce
4 eggs
3-4 C. grated carrots
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350.  Sift the flour, sugar, baking soda and powder, and cinnamon into a mixing bowl.  Add the oil and eggs.  Mix until incorporated.  Fold in the grated carrots.  Grease 2- 9" or 10" pans (could use one 13"x9" as well).  Cut out parchment paper to cover the bottom of the pan and line the bottom with parchment then grease again.  Sprinkle a little flour in the pan and shake pan to cover with flour.  Divide the batter between pans.  Bake for approximately 35 minutes when using 2 round pans, additional time may be necessary for using 13x9" pan.  

Cream cheese frosting
8 oz. cream cheese (at room temp.)
1/2 C. butter (at room temp.)
1 lb. powdered sugar
1 C. chopped nuts (optional)
1 tsp. vanilla

Blend cream cheese with butter until smooth.  Add vanilla and powdered sugar.  Fold in nuts if using. 
Wait until the cake is completely cooled and then frost.  I added coconut (toasted is even better) on the top of this cake.  I also filled it with a coconut cake filling that I got from Martha Stewart (my evil twin).  I made 1/2 of the recipe and it was a lot.
I like to use my good vanilla in my frostings/fillings.  Because when you bake with vanilla it usually cooks off, I use my cheaper vanilla when I bake.  See this article about vanilla from Cooks Illustrated.  My preference is vanilla bean paste.  Usually I use Nielsen-Massey brand but my dear friend, Pam, sent me some from New Zealand where she lives.  Thanks Pam!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Meatloaf and mashed potato cupcakes

Yes...we had cupcakes for dinner! 

I got the idea from Pinterest, so I made our favorite meatloaf recipe and piped some jazzed up instant potatoes on the top and we had a hit.

Mini Cheesy Meatloaves
1 egg
3/4 C. milk
3/4 C. instant oats (I use regular, not quick cooking sometimes)
1/4 C. finely diced onions
1 C. shredded cheese
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 lb. lean ground beef
2/3 C. ketchup
2 tsp. mustard
2 Tbsp. brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Crack egg into a medium bowl and mix in milk stirring well with a fork.  Add oats, onion, cheese, and salt & pepper.  Mix well then add the ground beef.  Spray cupcake/muffin tin with nonstick spray and press meat down into each cup.  I had exactly enough for 12.  Mix ketchup, mustard, and brown sugar and put a spoonful on each meat cake.  Bake for about 25 minutes or until internal temp. reaches 160 degrees.

You can make substitutions to make these reduced fat by using ground turkey, low or fat free milk and cheese, and 2 egg whites instead of one egg. 

While meat cakes are baking make the potatoes. 

Potato "Frosting"
1 4oz. package Idahoan instant potatoes (I used roasted garlic can use any or any brand)
2 Tbs. butter
2 oz. cream cheese

Prepare your potatoes according to package directions.  Add butter and cream cheese and let the potatoes cool slightly.  Put most of the potatoes into a frosting bag with your favorite decorating tip.  If you don't have these, you can put into a large Ziploc bag and cut off the corner of the bag or just put a scoop on with a spoon. 

Carson decided to top his cupcake with corn! 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Delicioso Mexican Lasagna

That means DELICIOUS Mexican Lasagna for all my non-Spanish speaking friends.  This meal is pretty tasty and easy to throw together.  I am always making different varieties of this dish and love to use fresh sweet corn in the summer. 

Delicioso Mexican Lasagna

1 lb. lean ground beef (could use ground turkey or even shredded chicken)
1/2 small onion diced
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
2 Tblsp. taco seasoning
15 oz. can beans (I used great northern beans, you could use pinto or even refried)
1 cup corn (frozen or drained from a can)
1 5.6 oz package of Spanish rice prepared according to package instructions
couple slices Velveeta (I used pepper could use any cheese)
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (any variety you like...I used a 3 cheese blend)
8" tortillas (I like these low carb ones)

Preheat oven to 350 and then brown beef along with onion and garlic over medium heat then drain.  Decrease heat to medium-low then add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and taco seasonings and stir well.  Put beans in food processor and process until smooth or use refried beans.  You don't even have to process if you want it extra chunky.  Carson has this thing about textures so I trick him into eating his beans!  I'm going to lose my mom of the year award I just know it.  Lightly spray a 9" round pan with non-stick spray.  Line bottom of pan with one tortilla then cover with half of the meat sauce mix.  Layer another tortilla then half of the pureed bean mix (or refried beans) and then cover with a layer of Velveeta or your choice of cheese.  Cover with another tortilla then add about a cup of Spanish rice.  You will have leftover rice or you can make another layer if your pan is deep enough, mine wasn't.  Put another tortilla over the rice and cover with the rest of the beans then sprinkle the corn directly on the bean puree.  Cover with one more tortilla and add remaining meat mix and top with cheese.  Bake at 350 for about 20-30 minutes or until bubbly and cheese is melted.  Let cool and serve with a dollop of sour cream and salsa. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Laundry Detergent

I have been making my own laundry detergent for a couple years and I really love it.  It is simple, cheap, and really gets our clothes clean.  I purchased all the necessary ingredients to make it at WalMart so basically you can just roll out of bed (don't even worry about changing out of your p.j.'s) and get some stuff to make it. 
I put the 3 year old to work so I can catch up on my soaps
Some recipes I've seen call for you to grate the Fels Naptha soap but I use the shredder attachment on my food processor.  This will save lots of time, not to mention, your manicure!

This is what 10 bars of shredded soap looks like!  This soap smells kind of lemony and fresh.  Both of my boys have sensitive skin and they never have any problems with this homemade laundry soap.

Homemade Laundry Soap
10 bars Fels Naptha soap (97 cents/bar at WalMart)
1 box 20 Mule Team Borax ($3.38)
1 box Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda ($3.24)

Shred the soap using a food processor or grate by hand.  I add all the shredded soap to a huge bowl and then empty the two boxes and mix by hand.  You can add a little of the powder in your food processor and use the chopping blade if you want the soap to be finer.  I have heard of some people having problems with the soap not dissolving, but I've never had that happen.  I use about 2 tablespoons per load in my top loading washing machine.  You can decrease the amount to 1 tablespoon if you have a HE (front loading) washing machine.

There are other varieties of soaps online similar to this such as liquid soap using the same ingredients.  I have never tried that.  Also, other powder ones that call for one bar of soap and one cup of borax and one cup of washing soda.....I just have been doing it my way because it works for me and fits perfectly into my big jar.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Green goodness smoothie

Don't let these scary looking drinks fool you....they are DELISH and healthy.  There are all sorts of varieties floating around on the web but this is my version. 

Green Goodness Smoothie

6 ice cubes
8 oz unsweetened coconut or almond milk
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 Tbsp. peanut butter
1 Tbsp. coconut oil
1 banana
dash of cinnamon and vanilla
baby spinach

Add ingredients to blender then fill the remaining blender with spinach....approx. 1-2 cups.  Blend well and enjoy!

I left mine alone for a minute this morning while trying to keep Carson focused on getting out the door and onto the bus and Sammy grabbed mine.  He loves them!  Carson won't even try them but they are good.  Sister Sue likes to put a handful of almonds and a touch of honey in hers.  I've even heard of putting a little steel cut oats in them.  Whatever floats your boat.  They are refreshing and a good balance of protein and carbs.  But don't just take my word, give it a try and you will like them.  Have I ever steered you wrong??!

Here's a little tip...if you want your bananas to not brown so fast, separate them from the really works!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Meatballs and sauce

I needed to use up some croutons that I had got free with my crazy coupon skillz, so I decided to process them and make meatballs. They were pretty tasty and the boys scarfed them. Carson said that everything tasted perfect until he saw a can of cream of mushroom soup on the counter and couldn't believe that I might have contaminated his food with that! Remember to hide the can next time. He did finish his dinner after I convinced him that I didn't put any mushrooms in his food. I apologize for the unprofessional looking pictures and lack of fanciness for the blog. This is all new to me and I am using my iPhone to take pics! I'm sure it will look better after I learn more about blogging and food photography :)
Meatballs and Sauce
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 lb. ground turkey
1 C. croutons processed in food processor (can use crackers, bread, Panko, etc.)
1/2 small onion
1/2 C. shredded cheese
1/2 C. milk
2 eggs
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 tsp. garlic salt
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Process croutons in food processor. I processed the onion and cheese also. Put into a large bowl. Process egg and milk and add to the mix with the seasonings. Gently combine ingredients using wooden spoon or get down and dirty with your hands. Spray cookie sheet with non-stick spray. Shape into balls...I used my large Pampered Chef scoop and bake for about 18-20 minutes. While these are baking, make the sauce.
4 Tbsp. butter
1/4 C. flour
1 tsp. beef base (I like Better Than Bouillon)
2 1/4 cups milk
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 tsp. Italian seasoning (try Penzey's...the best!)
This is a white sauce or beschamel with a few extra ingredients. Melt butter over medium heat in skillet then add in flour. Stir in milk until thickened then add beef flavoring, seasoning, and soup. Whisk ingredients until smooth.
When the meatballs are finished add them to the pan with the sauce and serve over noodles or rice. We saved some of the meatballs and Sammy ate a couple of them plain before dinner. The boys (especially the big boy, Shane) like extra sauce so this is a lot. You can freeze extra meatballs or make some subs with them.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Let's get this party started!

I have decided to start my own blog...we'll see how it goes! Might be fun and I love following all my favorite blogs so why not have my own??! Looking forward to posting some fun things and having a little online journal to keep track of all the hullabaloo in our household.