pot pie

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Definitely a top comfort food, this is my favorite way to use leftover chicken or roast beef. I am pretty easy going with the ingredients I use for the sauce. Depending on my mood, I may add a little bit of chopped garlic, some lemon pepper, or some paprika, which is always great with chicken. Think of this as the base and then expound on it.

potpie2

ingredients:

~2 cups chicken or roast beef, chopped

~4 1/2 cups vegetables, chopped. Such as: potatoes. carrots, corn, peas, green beans, mushrooms

1 can cream of chicken soup

1/4 c. sour cream

milk, as needed

1/2 tsp. Herbs de Provence

2-3 good sized sprigs of lemon thyme (slide leaves off and discard stem)

salt and pepper to taste

prepared pie crust (or make your own, you crazy ambitious person. I’m not intimidated by you.)*

*I only use a crust on the top of the pie to cut back on calories.

potpie1

directions:

1. Chop carrots and cover with water in a microwave safe bowl. Cook until barely tender, about 6 minutes.

2. Chop remaining veggies and add to a baking dish with the meat.

3. Mix soup, sour cream, herbs, add milk until mix is the consistency of cake batter and stir into vegetables.

4. Cover with pie crust and cut slits to vent steam. If desired, brush with egg or butter.

5. Bake at 375 (or the temp. recommended for pie) for 40 minutes or until crust is golden.

tea party fun

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One thing little girls love (and actually big girls too) is a tea party. We have gotten the opportunity to do quite a few in the last several months and I think I am honing my girl-pleasing menu. Here are a few favorites:

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The number one item needed for a tea party (aside from a tea set of course) is the frilly toothpick. You stack anything onto a frilly toothpick and it is FANCY NANCY. (ie. really good.) Pickles, fruit, veggies, cheese, whatever. They’ll love it!

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The girls love thickly sliced banana with peanut butter and sprinkles on top.

Also impressive to little party goers is the cracker topped with peanut butter and banana or a slice of apple or some cheese.

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Almost as vital to the tea party as the frilly toothpick, is the cookie cutter. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich is transformed when shaped like a butterfly.  Don’t feel like you have to stop at sandwiches though. Cut out a few fun shaped quesadillas, we like to add peperoni to the top and make a “pizzadilla.”  Another option is to cut cheese and lunch meat as well as bread or tortillas into fun shapes and let the kids layer their own little sandwiches.

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Finish off with cookies, cupcakes or any little treat and you have a memorable afternoon girl-fest. You can pick up a mini muffin tin (or two) at the grocery store. One cake mix will yield about a million mini cupcakes; which can be frozen. Then just pull out what you need and let the girls frost and sprinkle them. They get all the fun without loading up on sugar. Really, it is all about the extra little touches that make it more than an ordinary lunch. It is a little bit of extra work, but the girls just get so excited about doing it. You can’t beat a tea party!

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sweet and sour meatballs

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Every once in a while I just get a craving for something like this. If you like to make fresh meatballs, go for it. I like to make this because it is seriously easy and quick so I use frozen.

ssmeatballs

ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1 1/2 Tbs cornstarch
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbs soy sauce
  • Frozen meatballs (However many it takes for your fam. For us, it is about 15 balls.)
  • 1 can pineapple chunks, drained
  • Rice
  • Broccoli or peas (or whatever)

directions:

1. Prepare rice as directed.

2. Add first 5 ingredients to skillet and stir until combined. Then add meatballs  and pineapple and allow to bubble until rice is done.

3. Cook vegetables. I like something green to balance the sweetness of the meatballs, but do what works for you.

4. Serve meatballs over rice. Pretty simple, very easy. Some people feel that green pepper and onion are vital to a sweet and sour dish. I don’t, but if you do–add them! If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m an easy-going cook. You don’t have to do it just like I do. I rarely measure, so I guess I don’t even always do it like I say to. :D Oh boy, time for bed…

chicken salad sandwiches

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This is Mary Winter’s recipe (as I remember it–so it’s not perfect.) When I was pregnant with Emily, I craved this so much that I finally called and begged for the recipe. If you know Mary, you know you want anything she makes. (She is so wonderful!) This will generously fill 5 or 6 large croissants or about 10 small ones. It is ideal for showers and parties, but Mike doesn’t complain about one for dinner either.

chickensalad

ingredients:

croissants or rolls (see above)

2 large chicken breasts

1 apple (you could substitute grapes)

3/4 cups grated cheese

~3 Tbs. mayonaise

~2 Tbs. miricle whip

~1/4 tsp. black pepper

scant 1/4 tsp. garlic powder

directions:

1. Boil chicken in salted water and allow to cool.

2. Chop apple into bite-sized pieces.

3. Chop or shred chicken, according to your taste. (I like to shred it, that’s what Mary does.)

4. Place the apples and chicken into a mixing bowl, add remaining ingredients and mix gently.

5. Slice rolls if necessary, and stuff with the mixture.

6. I serve this with salad and fruit.

Here is an easy pleaser for salad; you can use mandarin oranges if strawberries aren’t in season. Also, feta works if you don’t do bleu cheese. (But, I like the bleu.)

Strawberry Bleu Salad

ingredients:

3-4 cups mixed greens (I recommend Dole spring mix or 7 lettuces or a head of butter lettuce and some spinach.)

1 pint strawberries, washed and sliced

8 oz. bleu cheese

1/2 c. slivered almonds

1 bottle of poppy seed dressing

directions:

1. Roast almonds on a cookie sheet at 300 degrees for about 10 minutes. (Keep an eye on them, they can burn quickly.) Let cool.

2. Toss all ingredients and serve. Doesn’t get easier than that.

brats (oh, baby)

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It may not be lady-like, but I really love Brats. Of course, Michael is always thrilled when we have them for dinner. As far as I am concerned, there is really only one way to make them. This is it:

brats2

ingredients:

bratwurst (Don’t be scared, they won’t bite you. They’re usually in the meat department. I recommend Hillshire Farms Stadium Brats.)

buns

onions, chopped

1 T. butter

sauerkraut*

mayonnaise

mustard

salad (You fix it how you like it.)

we did tots (alphabet tots–the girls loved them!) I would probably make wedges like these if I wasn’t pleasing the tinies.

directions:

1. Get your potatoes in the oven.

2. Melt butter in a medium skillet. Chop onions (or, if you are a cheater like me, dump the bag of frozen chopped onions in a skillet.)

3. Light the grill. When warm, slap those babies on. (I eat one, Michael, two.) Turn heat down to low. Keep an eye on these, you’ll want to turn them every few minutes and cook them about 7-9 minutes total.

4. Set out salad and condiments.

5. Spread mayo on the bun and add mustard. Nestle the brat in there and top with onions and a little kraut. You are going to love it.

*I know that sauerkraut sounds a little gross and wrong. But it is the necessary zing for the savory goodness of the brat. It took a little while for me to try it, but once I did, it really worked. Just try it!!! TRY IT!!! That is all.

brats

steak, so easy, so good

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I’ve noticed that steak has been on sale a lot lately. mmmm…I guess I should say that I have enjoyed that steak has been on sale. Anyhow, I thought I’d share my favorite marinade for your culinary pleasure. As well as my favorite accessories.

steak

traditional steak dinner

ingredients:

steak (You know what you need. I like tri-tip for affordable tenderness, but they do tend to be kind of weird sizes.)

~1/2 c. Worcestershire sauce

Montreal steak seasoning

Vegetable (I usually do frozen broccoli, but today I used asparagus, whatever you like.)

butter (or equivalent)

lemon juice

potatoes (1 per person, I like reds and yukon golds, they are creamier in texture so you don’t need to add much butter.)

toppings (I’ll elaborate below.)

directions:

1. Cover the bottom of a container big enough to hold the steak with Worcestershire sauce and sprinkle with Montreal steak seasoning. Lay steaks on top and then sprinkle with more seasoning and then pour more sauce over the top. Let marinade in the fridge for about an hour.

2. Wash potatoes and bake at 475 for 45 min.

3. Cook steaks on a medium low grill for 5-8 minutes on each side.

4. Cook broccoli (or whatever) in steamer basket.

5. Prepare baked potatoes. Here’s what I like: Open the potato and mash it up. Add about a teaspoon of butter and top with shredded cheese.  I like to top it with a ~70/30 mix of cottage cheese and sour cream and a little salt and pepper.

mmmm…

dinner: fondue

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Fondue is kind of a special occasion thing at our house, though it really doesn’t have to be. The prep work isn’t too extreme, it is just takes a little finesse to get everything taken care of in the last few minutes. My awesome big sis gave me an electric fondue pot (Cuisinart) for Christmas a couple of years ago. I highly recommend it; it is so much easier to be able to make the cheese right in the pot, (not to mention not having to deal with a gel burner.)

fondue1

ingredients:

(pick your veggies, I like:)

potatoes

carrots

broccoli

cauliflower

asparagus

artisan bread, cubed

chicken

beef (I use stir-fry or stew meat to save time.)

Kid-friendly Fondue:

~6 cups grated cheese (Jarlsburg, Emmentel, Guyere, etc. Mixing these together is great!)

1 tsp. corn starch

1 tsp. flour

dash of garlic salt

~1 cup sparkling apple cider (Martinelli’s)

1 clove garlic

fondue2

directions:

1. Cut desired vegetables into bite sized pieces. I like to layer all of them in a steaming basket to cook. Put the carrots and potatoes in first, then add broccoli, cauliflower, etc. a few minutes later to prevent over cooking.

2. Cut chicken into bite sized chunks. (Or beef, whatever…)

3. Heat a large skillet and saute meat, sprinkling with garlic salt to taste.

4. Cut garlic clove in half and rub it around the inside of the fondue pot.

5. Bring apple cider to a boil in your fondue pot or a medium sauce pan.

6. Toss the grated cheese with flour and cornstarch.

7. Add the cheese in small batches, stirring vigorously. If the mix is too thin, add more cheese; too thick, add more cider.

8. Hopefully, your veggies and meat are ready, lay them out on a plate for every 2-3 people and set out with cheese mixture.

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*A friend recommends eating this meal at your coffee table so that everyone can reach easier. She says her kids think it is so fun to eat in a different location.

*If you really want to go all out, finish with fruit and angel food cake or brownie cubes dipped in ganache. Heat 2/3 cup of heavy cream to just boiling and pour over 1 cup chocolate chips and stir vigorously with a wisk. mmm…

enjoy!

Chili and more…

5 Comments »

This is my Mom’s chili (with a few tweaks.) It is so good on a rainy day. (Which we have had a few of lately.) I like to serve it with crusty rolls or cornbread. The best thing about having chili, (feel free to snicker here.) ahem, the best thing about chili is that you can use it the next night or night after to make what we like to call Mexican haystacks. Which is one of my favorite dinners!

Chili

chili

ingredients:

1 lb. hamburger

1 small onion, diced

3 cans of beans (I usually use 2 chili and 1 kidney, but feel free to experiment.)

1 can diced, stewed tomatoes

1 can tomato paste

2 cans diced green chilies

1/2 tsp. Cheyenne pepper (or to taste)

1 tsp. chili powder

1/2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. sugar

1 bay leaf

2 cloves (I actually use ground clove and eyeball it. Mike hates to bite into a clove.)

directions:

1. In a large stock pot, brown hamburger and drain.

2. Add green chilies and onion and saute until onion is translucent.

3. Add remaining ingredients and simmer 45 min- 1 hour.

4. Top with grated cheese and sour cream.

Mexican Haystacks

mexicanhaystacks

Layer:

corn chips (I highly recomend Fritos.) It is easier to eat if you crush them a little.

chili

grated cheese

diced tomatoes

avacado

sliced olives

(This is what I like, but you could also add lettuce, or salsa, or anything else that sounds good.)

top with sour cream

…oh, so good!

dinner: pan fried noodles with orange chicken

2 Comments »

This is a perfect weeknight quick fixin’ dinner. If you are really strapped for time, you can use a bottled sauce. I tried this with a frozen deep fried chicken (that I bought at Costco and didn’t like the sauce that came with it) this time around.


ingredients:

noodles:

1 pkg. of spaghetti

2 Tbs. butter (or margarine)

chicken:

2 chicken breasts, cubed

garlic salt

1 pkg. frozen stir fry vegetables (or whatever you have on hand, tonight it was just broccoli for us.)

sauce:

4 Tbs. orange juice concentrate

2 Tbs. honey

2 Tbs. soy sauce

1 tsp. cornstarch


directions:

1. Set a large pot of water to boil and cook spaghetti as directed. (I actually use a deep skillet for this so that I only have 2 pans to wash. If you don’t have a deep skillet, this can be done in a large pot.) When tender, drain and place on a plate. Melt the butter and return the noodles to the skillet. Cook on medium-high heat, stirring frequently.

2. Thaw vegetables in microwave.

3. Heat another skillet, when hot to the touch, add cubed chicken and sprinkle generously with garlic salt. Stir and scrape the bottom of the pan with a plastic spatula continuously while the chicken cooks, about 3 minutes. Turn down heat and add the vegetables.

4. Mix remaining ingredients in a small bowl and pour over chicken and vegetables. Increase heat and cook until sauce bubbles. Allow to boil for about 1 minute while stirring.

5. Serve over noodles.

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Also, let me share the beautiful flowers that my darling friend Juli sent me. (Mike calls her my spoiler. =D I love it!) Seriously, I have the best friends! My birthday has been so much fun because of you all. Amy even timed a gift to come this week and make the fun last longer. I just feel so blessed and touched by all you guys do. I love you, thanks again!

dinner: russian apricot chicken (or pork)

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This is one of my very favorite chicken dishes. It also works great with pork; which is what is shown here. I like to make a large pork tenderloin for dinner and then cube the leftovers and make this a day or two later. (I love those double duty dinner ideas!)

ingredients:

~1/2 bottle of Russian salad dressing

1 c. apricot jam

1 envelope dry onion soup mix (Lipton)

1 1/2-2 lbs. largely cubed chicken or pork (3 chicken breasts)

rice

(I really like Jasmine rice–which is a variety of rice produced by many brands. It has a delicate flavor and cooks quickly. The nutty flavor of brown rice is great with this as well.)

vegetable of choice, I really like broccoli with this; but anything works.

directions:

1. Cut the chicken into large pieces and place in a baking dish. Mix the dressing, soup mix and jam and over the chicken (mix if necessary). Place in the oven and let bake for 45 min-1 hour, until chicken is cooked through and sauce is bubbly.

2. Meanwhile, cook rice according to direction.

3. Prepare vegetables as needed in the last 15 minutes of the chicken’s bake time. Plate all and enjoy.

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