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27 January 2010

Beef & Mac Throw Down

I, for whatever reason, have not made this a house tradition.  I have no clue what reason that could be or is...but it is in the process of being remedied.  To be honest, we used organic BISON in our last throw down...

1 pkg (16oz) noodles...typically elbows, but we used shells, wagon wheel, etc & kids loved any
1 lb browned beef (or Bison...I would imagine you could also use ground turkey, or bite size pieces of turkey or chicken, anything really should work great in this "setting")
1 onion, diced
2 jars favorite spaghetti sauce (we like the spicy kind w/garlic & "goodies"  Don't do the onion above if your sauce already has chunks of onion & such in it)

Cook & drain noodles of choice (remember, after draining rinse in COLD water to stop cooking)
In a large skillet, add all ingredients (saute your onion first if you are adding it & its not part of the sauce), heat through.  Serve w/some cheese sprinkled on top.

Yup...its that easy...again I wonder WHY this is not a staple in the house...

Chicken Corn Noodle Soup

"I feel sick" at our house is immediately followed with "can you make some of your noodle soup??"
You can use any noodles, put the corn in, leave the corn out, add carrots, forgo...it really is up to you & your house full of "sickies" as to what they can handle...if they are sick or getting sick, I highly recommend trying to slip the garlic in there, even if they/you are not huge garlic fans...it helps.

6 cups chicken broth
1 lb (or so) of already cooked bite size chicken (or turkey, we don't discriminate around here)
1 T tarragon
3-4 cloves minced garlic (did I mention we happen to LIKE garlic?)
1 T ground pepper
16 oz frozen corn (or canned, no preference on how the goodies are stored)
16 oz frozen carrots (do preferred frozen or canned, fresh need to be steamed before using or they won't be very soft...so if you LIKE crunchy carrots in your soup...pls do add fresh!)
1 lb wide egg noodles, cooked & drained

In a large stockpan, add all ingred to the frozen corn (but not including)...bring to a boil, turn down the heat to med, simmer for about 15 min.  Add in corn, carrots & noodles (rinse in COLD water after draining, this stops them from continuing to cook & getting mushy in your soup as well as soaking up all your broth).  Bring back to a good simmer, give it about 3-5 min. there, then serve.  Saltines are a favorite w/this soup.

Potato Corn Chowder

Winter has brought on a whole new excitement in our house...its called "no work, no money, eat what we can for CHEAP!"  you are super excited now aren't ya?!  Ha...actually, this has become such a favorite around here, it is requested, even when there is work...guess that says something for it.

3 lbs potatoes, chopped into bite size pieces
1/2 onion, diced
4 T butter
2 T flour
4 cups chicken broth
1 bag (16oz or so) frozen corn
3 cups milk
2 cups shredded cheese
1 T cayenne (if you like a little depth but not too much "hot")
1 T ground pepper

melt butter then saute onion till soft.  Add in flour, stir to coat well, then add in chicken broth & potatoes.  Bring to boil & cook about 25 min till potatoes are soft & easily pierced w/a fork.  Add in corn, milk & 1 cup cheese...cook about another 5 min.  Serve w/a dollop of shredded cheese on top.

Mint Mocha latte

Coffee lovers unite...couldn't help myself.  If you are like me, some good coffee can go a long way to making life bareable!  I get tired of spending my lifes savings on a cup of starbucks...so i figured out how to make some at home.  If you like the mix of peppermint, coffee, & mocha...you are in luck!

You can pick up the peppermint syrup at the grocery store, or at starbucks...they sell those big ole bottles.  You can also pick up a canister of their "mocha powder"...its worth it.

if you have an espresso machine that can foam your milk, you are all set...do your double shot espresso, stir in 1 heaping T mocha powder till dissolved, then add 1 T peppermint syrup...steam your milk, put it all together & you're done!

if you don't have an espresso machine...

brew your choice of coffee...put about an ounce in the cup, add in a heaping tablespoon of mocha powder, stir well to make a lovely mocha syrup.  add in 1 T peppermint syrup.  In a small saucepan, add in 1 cup milk of choice, heat stirring w/small whisk till hot & foamy, pour into cup...finish off w/remainder of coffee.

you can adjust the peppermint if you need more or less to your taste.

yes, it really is that simple.  saves spending 5.00 on one cup too!  Lovely way to start or end a day.

Rice & Beef Casserole

So, this is one I def. made up when I looked in the cupboards & panicked!  Turns out, its a pretty good "comfort food" for those times when a tummy could use some settling & everyone is in need of something warm & "cozy".  I like to serve it with some canned cranberry sauce that has been good & chilled.

4 cups (or more) of cooked rice
1 lb of browned ground beef
1 pkg frozen broccoli
1 2c pkg of shredded cheese
1 lg can cream of mushroom soup
1 t tarragon
1 t cayenne

mix everthing except 1c cheese together in a big bowl (or pan) then pour into a greased 13x9 (if it feels too thick, add some milk) & top w/the rest of the cheese.  Cover, toss into the oven at 375 for about 30 min, uncover & finish baking till its hot through (about 15 more minutes.

Smoked Turkey Panini

We used left over turkey my hubby smoked (if you don't have a smoker, get one, they are awesome. Meat is cooked in less time, has fantastic flavor, & is healthier for you!), however, you can certainly use lunch meat if that is what you have. You can also use any cheese you like, or turkey bacon in place of reg. Its all up to you!!

Thick sliced bread (we actually purchased a loaf of the cheesy bread from Panera)
Sliced Smoked Turkey
Sliced Cheese of Choice (we used sharp)
Cooked Bacon (we used ave. of 3 slices per sandwich)
1/4 cup mayo
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 T honey
1 t tarragon (use any herb you like, we are particular to tarragon)

Mix mayo, mustard, honey & tarragon together in a small bowl. Spread a nice amount on one slice of bread, top w/cheese, bacon, turkey & the top bread of your sandwich.
Spray your panini grill w/pam, place in sandwiches (we fit two at a time), press & let cook. I'm not sure how long it took, no more then 5 min, just take a peek after 3 & cook till bread is grilled to your preferred color.
No Panini grill? No problem...place sandwiches on sprayed cookie sheet, top w/another heavy duty sheet & press down before tossing into the oven at 375. This will take longer & may not press the sandwiches as much, but the idea is there & it will be just as yummy!

Serve alone w/chips or pair w/your favorite soup. We used betty crocker's cream of broccoli soup to round out our dinner...great way to get kids to eat broccoli even when they are not fans!!

"2nd Snow" Ice Cream

My grandmother used to tell me when I was a little girl, that we had to wait for the "second snow" of the winter before we could make this special ice cream because "the clouds were dirty & the first snow gets them clean, so the second snow is perfect". We all know this to not be true, but after raising 7 kids of her own, I think its fair to say she was entitled to spin any story she wanted just for the fun of it! :)

one REALLY BIG bowl of snow (remember now, the top & bottom layers are "dirty" & pls, none that is yellow already!)
1/2 - 1 cup sugar
1/4 cup evaporated milk
1 t vanilla extract
1-2 T cocoa if you want chocolate instead of just vanilla

mix all ingredients in a really big bowl, take pictures, then hand out spoons...so easy...THE KIDS CAN DO IT! :)

Southwest Shrimp Corn Chowder

this has become a tried & true in our house. We have adapted it to accommodate both shrimp or turkey/chicken. Great for any time of year, and super quick to toss together.

1 bag diced potatoes (or 3 lg skin ON diced up)
2 T butter
2 T flour
1 bag corn/black bean mix frozen (or 2 cans)
1 1/2 cups half-half or milk
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 lb shrimp (small, thawed) or diced chicken/turkey (cooked)
1 t cayenne pepper

melt butter in large pan, saute potatoes. Add flour, stir to coat. Add corn/black bean/pepper/onion mix and all liquids. Let simmer 5-10 min. stirring. Add in shrimp/chicken/turkey & pepper. Stir & let cook another 5-8 min. We top w/a little shredded cheese once in bowls & eat w/biscuits or quesadillas. Made as above, this serves 4. I double for our 6 and am lucky to have one serving left over!

It all begins w/what is left in the cabinets...

My adventures in being cre8tive in the kitchen came from little money & a hungry, hard working husband I didn't want to disappoint. We had just gotten married and as most 21 yr olds, I didn't have a whole lot of experience "concocting"...but desperate times call for desperate measures...so the adventure began. I hope you enjoy the crazy ideas & I apologize ahead for the lack of measurements...sometimes the best recipes come from "a pinch of this" & a "splash of that"....no matter what you do, ENJOY the experimenting, you never know what kind of cook you are till you have to look at practically empty cupboards & come up with something decent to eat!