Thursday, December 31, 2009

Day 31, Ham Dinner

Today I went over to my Mom's house for the day and we had dinner there. I know this is ham for the second time, but it is different sides and a different cooking method. Love the microwave! Thanks for cooking Mom!

Ham Dinner

1 pound spiral cut ham cut from the bone
5 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1 inch pieces
enough milk to make potatoes smooth, about 1/4 cup
1 can large black olives
1 can green beans
1 can sweet corn

Place ham into a microwave safe dish and cook according to your microwave directions, about 3-5 minutes.
Place cut potatoes into a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Boil until soft. Drain and return to pot along with milk; mash with a potato masher or a hand mixer until desired smoothness.
Heat veggies according to directions on can.

Serves 4

I didn't have to cook so it was all good. My mom prefers to make canned veggies rather than the frozen veggies that I like, but to each their own. Everyone has different tastes. The black olives are a favorite in our house. Thanks for cooking Mom!

Flavor Rating: Good, there wasn't any glaze on this ham, but glaze isn't always necessary.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, most of it is microwave work.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Day 30, Steak Salad

I had to finish up the rest of the roast from yesterday. I had a 2 pound roast I had cut up for yesterdays dinner and had to cook the rest of it today. So it ended up in a salad.

Steak Salad

1 tbsp olive oil
1 red pepper, cut into strips
1 pound steak, cut into strips
1 tbsp garlic powder
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 bag salad mix or 1 head lettuce
1/2 English cucumber, cut into slices
1 tbsp Balsamic Vinaigrette salad dressing

Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add pepper strips; cook for 4-6 minutes, until blackened. Remove into a bowl. In a small bowl, mix Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder and lemon juice. Pour over meat in a bowl. Add seasoned meat into hot frying pan; you don't need to add extra oil unless the oil from cooking the peppers has been removed completely. Cook for 4-6 minutes, until browned.
On a serving plate, arrange lettuce, cucumbers and peppers. Add warm beef to top of salad. Add dressing. Enjoy!

Serves 4

I thought it was a good way to make the beef, but the dressing I chose didn't mesh as well as I would have liked. A lemon vinaigrette may have been a better choice. Even a ranch would have worked with it. This would work well with breadsticks too.

Flavor Rating: Good, although I think a different dressing would have worked better.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, you don't have to cook the peppers if you don't want to, but watch them so they don't burn if you do.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Day 29, Beef Stroganoff

I was never big on stroganoff when I had the "helper" kind. One day I had from scratch stroganoff and I was hooked. The fresh sour cream is a big help.

Beef Stroganoff

1 tbsp olive oil
1 pound beef roast, cut into cubes
1 small onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 can (10-12 oz) condensed cream of mushroom soup
1/2 soup can of milk
3-4 cups egg noodles
1 cup sour cream

Heat olive oil in a large frying pan to medium heat. Add onions and beef and cook 5-7 minutes, until beef is cooked thoroughly. Stir in soup and milk, continue cooking until hot.
Cook noodles as directed on packaging. Drain and cover to keep hot.
Stir in sour cream to meat mixture just before serving.
Serve meat mixture over noodles.

Serves 4

I forgot to dry my meat, so it didn't brown as nicely as it could have. I used whole wheat noodles instead of regular egg noodles; it is a healthier noodle and, in my opinion, tastes better too. Once a noodle is covered in sauce, you can hardly taste the difference between the whole wheat and the white kind. This is a good under 30 minutes meal.

Flavor Rating: Good, I like the fresh ingredients.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, the hardest part was cutting the onions without crying.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Day 28, Greek Pork Pita Pockets

Although this takes some prep time, the actual cooking is minimal. I like a good sandwich and this is a good sandwich. It is a healthy but tasteful meal.

Greek Pork Pita Pockets

1 pound boneless pork loin, cut into thin strips
4 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp prepared mustard, I used brown mustard
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried oregano

1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 English cucumber, peeled and chopped
1/2 tsp garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp dill weed

1 package pita bread
1 medium red onion, sliced thinly
1 medium tomato, sliced
1 leaf lettuce per sandwich

Cut pork into thin strips. In a small bowl combine olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, garlic and oregano. Place pork and marinade mixture into a sealable bag; press out air and refrigerate for 1-8 hours, turning bag at least once.
Mix yogurt, cucumber, garlic and dill weed in a sealable container and refrigerate.

Remove pork from marinade and fry for 4-6 minutes over medium heat in a large frying pan.
Warm pita pockets according to package to allow better handling of bread. Halve pita bread to form pockets if they aren't already cut in half. Open pita bread to form pocket; fill with pork. Top with cucumber sauce. Garnish with tomatoes, onions and lettuce as desired.

Serves 4

I like this combination of tastes. Olive oil is healthier than the other oils and since the pork has been marinaded in it, you don't need to add more oil when you cook it. Make sure to add the vegetables to your sandwich for your 5 a day. I used whole grain pitas which makes the bread a healthier choice.

Flavor Rating: Excellent, the lemon makes the other flavors pop.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, as long as you think ahead. It needs to be marinaded and you need to know how to slice things thinly.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Day 27, Christmas at my house

Today was my turn to host Christmas. There was very little that came out of the oven. It was a pick what you like kind of day.

We had shrimp and fruit.

There was crackers, meat and cheeses.

Plenty of candy was there.

The only things I had to heat were the take and bake cookies and the Pillsbury Savorings.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Day 26, Sloppy Joe Under a Bun

I'm not partial to Sloppy Joes, but making it this way is tasty to me. It takes a little longer to make, but is well worth it. You do need to eat it with a fork though.

Sloppy Joe Under a Bun

1 pound hamburger
1 can sloppy joe mix
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup biscuit mix
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a skillet, cook ground beef until browned. Drain and rinse hamburger. Return to skillet and add sloppy joe mix. Place mixture into a greased 8x8 inch baking pan. Sprinkle with cheese. In a small bowl, combine biscuit mix, egg and milk until blended. Pour evenly over cheese; sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake, uncovered for 25 minutes until golden brown.

Serves 4-6

I never really liked Sloppy Joes on buns, but baking it under the bun makes it tastier in my mind. Maybe it's the eating it with a fork that makes it better, or the cheese that melts in between the bread and the hamburger, but I prefer to have it like this. I like to make green beans with it this way; when making it to go on top of a bun, chips are the preferred side. My kids even get less messy when they have to eat it with a fork.

Flavor Rating: Great, it could be the biscuit mix, but it's my preferred method.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, it's a little tricky to get the biscuit mix even if you mix it too soon; mix the biscuit mix directly before pouring.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Day 25, Christmas Dinner

Thanks to my Sister, we had an awesome dinner for Christmas. I don't have the recipes for all the dishes right now, but I will share them later as I get them.

The main meat was Ham, traditional for our family to have on Christmas. Just heat for about a half hour, make glaze according to packaging, and pour over ham and heat for an additional 5 minutes. Read the instructions on your ham for directions as different cuts require different heating.

The vegetable dish had the cutest penguin black olives. Cut carrots into circles, then cut triangles out of the circles for the beaks, you have the feet and the beaks from the carrot circles. Slice one large black olive on one side. Fill that olive and a full olive with vegetable cream cheese. Place unsliced olive on top of sliced olive and secure with a round toothpick. Place circle carrots under sliced olive with the cut side facing the cut side of olive. Put the triangle in top olive, using a knife to make a hole, if necessary.
The dip was a sun dried tomato and cream cheese dip.

Twice Baked Potatoes
When I have the actual recipe, I will share, but I haven't gotten the recipe from my sis yet.

Garlic Herb Cauliflower
I don't have the recipe for this either. I will share once I have this recipe too.

Flavor Rating: Great, I didn't have to make a thing. Thanks Sis!

Ease of Preparation: Moderate, Some skill is needed to make those penguins. Don't leave the ham in too long or it will burn.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Day 24, Tuna Melts

With Christmas coming up tomorrow, I had some stuff to bake. I didn't have tons of time to make dinner, so sandwiches it was. This is a fairly easy way to make a tuna melt.

Tuna Melt Sandwiches

2 cans (5-6 oz) tuna canned in water, drained
4 tbsp pickle, chopped
4-6 tbsp mayonnaise
1 cup shredded cheese
8 slices bread

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, except bread; mix well. Spread 1/4 of the mixture on top of each of 4 pieces of bread. Place a second slice of bread on top of each sandwich. Wrap each sandwich in foil. Bake for 15 minutes. Serve warm.

Serves 4

I used baby dills in my sandwich mixture. I think I would have liked celery or even apples in the mixture in place of the pickles. My daughter even ate her sandwich! I didn't think she liked tuna, but I guess I'm wrong. This would be good with some chips on the side and maybe even another pickle. Maybe I'll do apples in the mixture for a tuna wrap.

Flavor Rating: Good, When my daughter eats something, it must be good.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, wrapping the sandwich was the hardest part. Even the kids can help by mixing the tuna mixture.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Day 23, Tater Tot Hot Dish

Today I wasn't feeling well, so my husband was nice enough to make dinner. I usually put more tater tots on the top so it's really full, but it's still made pretty well today.

Tater Tot Hot Dish

1 pound hamburger
1 can cream of onion soup
about 1/2 can milk
about 1/2 bag of Tater Tots, enough to cover top of dish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brown hamburger, drain and rinse. Add cream of onion soup and milk. Stir until soup mix is consistently creamy and covers the hamburger. Put hamburger mixture in a 8x8 square pan. Add tater tots on top of hamburger mixture in a single layer. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until tater tots are browned and hot.

Serves 4-5

Most people make this dish with cream of mushroom soup. I do not like the mushroom taste so I have discovered cream of onion soup. Sometimes cream of celery soup is substituted, but since onions are sometimes cooked along with the hamburger, cream of onion makes more sense. This may be a hard soup to find, but I'm seeing it more on the shelves. I saw it at my local Target the other day. Some people like to add corn to the mix and that's a great way to hide the veggies from the kids that don't like to eat veggies.

Flavor Rating: Good, I like it, but my daughter doesn't really like onions.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, my husband was able to make it nicely.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Day 22, Cinnamon Pork Chops

Today I made my husbands favorite pork chops. It is made in the slow cooker, so you do have to think ahead, but with few ingredients it's easy to throw into the slow cooker and set it until you get home from work.

Cinnamon Apple Pork Chops
a Crock Pot Recipe

1 1/2 pounds boneless pork chops (6 chops)
4 medium apples, sliced; I used Gala today, the original recipe calls for Golden Delicious
3 tbsp packed brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Place pork chops into a slow cooker; cover with apples. Combine brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl; sprinkle over apples. Cover and cook on low 6 to 8 hours.

Makes 6 servings

I served it with green beans and Au Gratin potatoes. The potatoes were from a box, just follow the directions on the box. I made the recipe once for my husband and he keeps asking for me to make it. I like anything I don't have to do too much work over. Apples compliment the pork chops just right. It's good for a cold day.

Flavor Rating: Excellent, I love anything sweet.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, just toss in and go.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Day 21, Chicken Alfredo

So here we are at the recipe that my husband was getting tired of. I just discovered Alfredo sauce last year and found it to be really yummy. It makes for an easy dish with just 4 ingredients.

Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 box whole wheat rotini noodles
2 cups broccoli
1 jar Alfredo sauce

Cut chicken into bite sized pieces and cook over medium heat for 10-15 minutes, until cooked thoroughly. You don't need to add oil because the breasts tend to be wet enough to cook in their own juices. Meanwhile, steam broccoli until tender, about 8-10 minutes. Meanwhile, cook noodles according to package. Drain noodles and chicken. Add all ingredients to same frying pan and stir until all ingredients are coated. Serve warm.

Serves 8 - 10

I love broccoli. It's my favorite vegetable. That makes it hard to want to serve other vegetables. My husband can only handle broccoli once a week or so. The kids aren't huge fans of broccoli, but handle it well. I like the taste of Alfredo sauce, especially the Classico Creamy Alfredo. This is a dish I could make all the time, if it weren't for having to feed everyone else too. When I find something I like I go overboard with it. That's probably why my husband got sick of it, from eating it too often. Now he won't have to worry about having it for another whole year.

Flavor Rating: Great, Broccoli and Alfredo, how can I go wrong?

Ease of Preparation: Easy, if only I could figure out how to use fewer pots to make it.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Day 20, Mini Quiches

I looked for 2 inch tart shells, but could only find 1 inch mini fillo shells. This would be a good appetizer. I suggest spraying the baking sheet with cooking spray before putting the shells on the tray or you may end up having the shells stick like I did.

Mini Spinach Quiches

30 mini fillo shells (2 boxes)
6 eggs
1/2 cup half and half
1 (9 oz) box cooked frozen spinach
1/2 cup bacon pieces
2 cups cheddar cheese

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Place fillo shells on baking pan that has been sprayed with non stick spray. Heat spinach according to directions on package. Drain spinach and finely chop. In a large bowl combine eggs and half and half. Mix thoroughly. Add cheese, bacon pieces and cooled, chopped spinach. Mix together until everything is combined equally. Place mixture in heaping tablespoons into shells. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes until cheese is melted and eggs are cooked thoroughly. Test doneness with a toothpick; place toothpick in centers and if it comes out cleanly they are done. Serve warm.

Serves approximately 7

I tried to make a full sized quiche once and the center never cooked all the way through. I ended up microwaving it after an hour and 20 minutes. The recipe I has said to check it at an hour, but it still had to finish cooking. If anyone knows how to get the center of a quiche to cook, let me know. I like the cooked spinach in this recipe, it hardly had any taste at all. The bacon and cheddar cheese were the main flavor ingredients in this dish. I think I will end up freezing them so I can serve them on Christmas eve to my parents when they come over. They are a good little appetizer at this size. I don't have to wait forever for them to finish cooking.

Flavor Rating: Good, I'm not sure what to add to make the flavor pop, but I think it could have used something.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, remember to let the spinach cool before trying to squeeze out the remaining liquid, I almost burned my fingers.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Day 19, Turkey Sandwich

With having to run errands and do last minute shopping for Christmas, I didn't get around to making dinner until later this evening. I was the only one eating at this time tonight. The rest of the family had KFC, but I still ate at home tonight. Oddly enough, one sandwich was enough for me.

Turkey Sandwich

2 slices of bread
3 oz leftover turkey
tomato slices
baby Swiss cheese

other good toppings you may add:

mustard, any type

Place turkey on one half of bread, add tomato slices, lettuce then cheese on top of bread. Cover with other half of bread. If you want to add mayonnaise, spread on slice of bread before placing turkey. Do not put tomato or lettuce next to bread unless you like soggy bread. Cheese should always be a barrier between vegetables and bread to prevent sogginess.

Serves 1

I, like Sheldon of The Big Bang Theory, do not like soggy bread on a sandwich. I will never place my tomato or lettuce next to my bread. Please do not put your vegetables next to your bread on a sandwich if you will be bringing it to work with you.

Flavor Rating: Good, but it would have been better if I had decided to put the mayonnaise on the sandwich instead of dropping it on the floor.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, just toss it on the bread and go.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Day 18, Individual Turkey Pot Pies

I looked for this as an individual recipe, but could only find full sized pies. I improvised and made them individual sized in soup tureens.

Individual Turkey Pot Pie

1 unbaked pie crust cut into circles that will cover top of pies - size depends on size of your tureens.
1 (10.75 oz) can golden mushroom soup
2 cups cooked, chopped turkey meat
2 heaping cups frozen mixed vegetables
1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a medium pot, heat vegetables in water, drain and place vegetables back in pot. Add chopped turkey, soup mix and milk. Heat until hot, but not boiling. Add mixture to 4 tureens. Place pie crusts on top of mixture. Place ceramic tureens on a lipped baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes, until crust is browned. Let cool for 10 minutes until tureens are cool enough to handle.

Serves 4

Making these individual and only putting the crust on the top cuts the calories that would have been in them if it were made in a double crust. You still get the taste of crust, but don't have to cut out your snack later. This is a great way to use up leftover turkey after a holiday. You also are able to sneak in lots of veggies. I can't stand the taste of canned peas, but using the frozen mixed veggies I couldn't taste anything but sweet veggies. If you don't like mushrooms, feel free to use any other cream of soup, Chicken, Onion, or Celery would be good substitutes. I think that I will use cream of chicken next time I make it.

Flavor Rating: Great, I finished my sons who decided he didn't like it which is odd for someone who eats nearly everything.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, if you forget to heat the veggies, they'll heat up in the oven.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Day 17, Ate out

Sorry everyone, but my Mom took the kids and me out to eat today. Anytime I don't have to cook is a good day, especially when we go someplace we can let the kids run and play. I have the next 2 days planned, so look forward to things I have never attempted before

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Day 16, Spaghetti and Meatballs

I was in the mood for spaghetti today. I tried a new sauce on the noodles today: Ragu Marghereta sauce. It's definitely one of my favorites now.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

1 pound hamburger
1/2 tbsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp oregano
1/2 box spaghetti noodles
1 jar tomato sauce

Place hamburger in a bowl. Add seasonings on top of hamburger. Knead hamburger until seasonings are spread thoroughly. Roll out hamburger meat into 2 inch balls. Place half the meatballs into a large pan that is heated to medium. Cook 3-4 minutes on one side, then flip to opposite side and cook for 3-4 minutes more, until cooked thoroughly. Cook remaining meatballs the same.
Meanwhile, in a large pot, heat 5-6 cups water to boil. Add spaghetti noodles and cook as directe on packaging. Drain, place noodle back in pot, or in a serving bowl. Add enough sauce to coat. Some sauce may be saved to serve over meatballs. Serve and sprinkle parmesean cheese on each serving, if desired.

Serves 4-6, 10-12 meatballs are created with one pound of meat

I liked the meatballs, but think I used too much garlic powder in them. I enjoy garlic, but thought it might have been a little too much. It might have been better if I just used 1 tbsp of the Italian seasoning instead of adding extra garlic powder.

Flavor Rating: Good, It could have used a little less garlic, but I really enjoyed the sauce.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, you get a little messy, be sure to wash your hands before you touch anything else after handling the raw meat.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Day 15, Breakfast for Dinner

My daughter asked for eggs for dinner last night, so she got them today instead.

Bacon, Eggs and Pancakes

1 package bacon
2 eggs per person
2 frozen prepared pancakes per person
2 tbsp maple syrup

Heat large frying pan to medium. Place bacon in pan, one strip at a time until pan is full. Cook bacon 3-4 minutes per side until desired crispiness. Remove bacon from pan and place on paper towels and pat to remove fat.
Cook eggs to order. Spray medium frying pan with non stick spray. Heat to medium and add eggs 2 at a time. Fry for 3-4 minutes per side to desired doneness. To scramble, add eggs to a bowl and beat with a fork. Pour eggs into heated pan. Mix eggs gently as they cook until cooked to desired doneness.
Heat 2 pancakes as stated on box. Pour syrup on pancakes and enjoy.

Eggs and pancakes aren't always for breakfast. Sometimes it is good to have it for dinner. The kids really enjoy having anything sweet for any meal.

Flavor Rating: Great, Breakfast is always a good meal, no matter what time of day it is.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, just be careful of the bacon splattering. If you get splattered, rinse the affected area in cool water to stop the burning.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Day 14, Nachos

I like to make my nachos like I make my tacos, with plenty of toppings.


1 pound hamburger
taco seasoning mix
tortilla chips (since it's near Christmas, I was able to find green and red chips)
toppings of your choice including:
shredded cheese
finely chopped lettuce
chopped tomatoes
olives (I prefer black, but use whichever you like)
sour cream

Brown hamburger. Drain and rinse. Add seasoning and water, according to directions on seasoning packet. Place chips on plate or bowl. Add taco mix on top of chips. Add toppings, starting with cheese to allow it to melt.

This is a good recipe to allow people to put the toppings they like on their nachos. You'll probably still need a fork, but most of it is finger food. I would have put sour cream on my nachos, but I forgot to pick some up last night. If the lettuce is chopped finely enough, it's easier to eat on nachos. I used romaine lettuce today. The darker the green the healthier for you.

Flavor Rating: Great, it can be made differently for each persons taste.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, just brown and serve. There is minimal cutting.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Day 13, Marinaded Pork Chops

I had some salad mix to use up today before it started to spoil and just picked up pork chops last night. This might look hard, but is well worth the time it takes.

Marinaded Pork Chops

4 pork chops, cut 1 inch thick
Lawry's Steak and Chop Marinade
1 cup Brown Rice
2 cups water
Sweet Butter salad mix
8 tbsp Almond Slices
24 croutons
Any salad dressing you like

Put pork chops into a resealable bag or container. Pour enough marinade over pork chops to cover. Marinade for at least 30 minutes in refrigerator, turning once if in resealable baggie.
Add water and rice to small pan and heat to boiling. Reduce heat to simmer, medium-low, and simmer for 45 minutes until water is absorbed and rice is tender. Meanwhile, heat a large frying pan to medium and add pork chops and marinade to pan. Cook pork chops for about 5-7 minutes a side, until pork chop is no longer pink in the middle.
Serve pork chops and rice with salad mix and 2 tbsp almonds and 6 croutons per plate. Drizzle dressing on salad.

Serves 4

I like to sometimes have no dressing on my salads. Having a good tasting lettuce is enough. Sometimes I like to put cheese on my salads instead of dressing. Cooking the pork chops in the marinade allows the marinade to make the pork chop more flavorful and you don't have to add oil either. I hardly use oil when cooking my meats in a frying pan. Having a salad allows you to not have to cook a vegetable. Brown rice may take a little longer to cook than a quick white rice, but is healthier and more flavorful. Brown rice has a nutty flavor and is good as a stand alone rice.

Flavor Rating: Excellent, My husband really likes the taste of the marinade.

Ease of Preparation: Average, Remember to marinade the chops and cook until still moist, but not pink.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Day 12, Loaded Potato

It's the weekend again, so I didn't want to work too hard at dinner. I love microwaving. I find it simpler to microwave a potato than to bake it in the oven.

Loaded Potato

1 medium potato per person
1/2 cup broccoli per potato
2 tbsp bacon pieces per potato
2 tbsp finely shredded cheese per potato

Chop up bacon and cook in frying pan until crispy, approx 15 minutes. Stir occasionally. Wash potatoes, poke holes in skin with fork several times, and cook according to your microwave directions, approx. 5 minutes for one potato and up to 10 minutes for more. Steam broccoli until tender, 5 minutes for frozen and 8-10 for fresh. Place potato on plate and cut in half. Add cheese, bacon, and broccoli on top of potato. Serve while still hot.

Other toppings may be sour cream, cauliflower, leftover taco meat, cooked chicken cut into bite sized pieces or shredded. You can omit all meat ingredients and make it vegetarian. I just happen to love broccoli so that's what I topped it with. Freshly cooked bacon makes a difference in taste, but pre-made bacon pieces may be used or microwavable bacon strips can be cooked and crumbled.

Flavor Rating: Great, use Red or Yukon potatoes for more flavor.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, don't forget to poke the potato skins or it will explode in the microwave, use pre-made bacon pieces for easier preparation.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Day 11, White Chicken Chili

I have never had White Chicken Chili before and there has been a lot of chatter about it on my local Mom's Like Me site. I had the spice pack for it, so it was time to try it out.

White Chicken Chili

1 pound boneless skinless chicken
McCormick White Chicken Chili spice mix
1 can of White Northern Beans or 1/3 cup dry beans, soaked as directed
1 1/2 to 2 cups corn
enough water to cover, about 2 cups

Cut chicken into bite sized pieces, approximately 1/2 inch cubes. Place in medium sized slow cooker. Add spice mix on top of meat. Add prepared beans and corn. Add enough water to cover mixture. Cook on high 5-7 hours, until beans are tender and chicken is cooked thoroughly.

Serves 4-6

I'm not one for chili normally. I'm put off by the texture of the beans normally. These beans aren't too bad texture wise. White Northern beans have a softer texture than Kidney beans. I will be trying different beans to see if I can handle the textures. This is a nice version of chili and I think I will be making it again in my lifetime.

Flavor Rating: Good, it was a bit spicy for my daughter, but was spicy enough for me.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, the hardest part is cutting up the chicken, you could use leftover rotisserie chicken if desired. Don't forget to soak the beans or it will take a little longer to prepare.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Day 10, Kielbasa and Spanish Rice

I only had to feed the kids and myself today, so I wasn't going to do anything difficult or worthy of many pans. This is a good one-pan dish that doesn't take much prep.

Turkey Kielbasa with Spanish Rice and Corn

1 ring Turkey Kielbasa
1 bag Knorr Spanish Rice
1 can petite cut tomatoes, do not drain
1 1/2 to 2 cups sweet corn (I use Birds-Eye Baby Sweet Corn)
1 cup water

Cut turkey kielbasa into bite size pieces. Cook on medium until heated through. Add corn, tomatoes, rice mixture, and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low to simmer. Simmer for 7-10 minutes until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender.

Serves 6-8

Adding the tomatoes and corn helps to get your vegetables in. The turkey kielbasa is healthier than regular kielbasa and has less fat. I prefer the baby sweet corn from the frozen section because I find it to be more flavorful than regular corn and by getting it from the freezer section, it is healthier, has more vitamins retained vs canned and has no salt. I hate to do dishes, so this is easy clean-up with only one pan.

Flavor Rating: Good, adding the extra tomatoes helps the flavor of the rice.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, minimal prep and all in one pan.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Day 9, Lasagna

Now that many of us a snowed in, it's a good day to have the oven heating for an hour. Lasagna may take a while to cook, but it's well worth it.

No Boil Lasagna

1 box of no boil lasagna noodles, 16 sheets
1 pound hamburger
1 jar of spaghetti sauce, divided
Cottage Cheese, 24 oz package
16 oz finely shredded mozzarella

Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Brown hamburger in a large pan. Drain and rinse browned hamburger. Return hamburger to pan. Add jar of spaghetti sauce, reserving 1/4 cup. Heat meat and sauce mixture. Add cottage cheese and fold in until mixture is consistent color.
In a 13x9x3 inch pan spread reserved sauce on bottom of pan. Layer 4 noodles on sauce, layer 1/3 meat mixture on noodles, add 1/3 mozzarella cheese on meat mixture. Add second layer the same, third layer will be noodles, meat mixture, noodles then remaining mozzarella.
Cover in foil and bake for 50-60 minutes.

Serves 12

I like a crispy layer of noodles on the top, you can take the foil off and bake for an additional 5 minutes to make the top layer crispy. Many recipes call for Ricotta cheese, and I have tried it that way, but I prefer cottage cheese instead. This can be saved and frozen to be reheated later if you find it to be too big of a recipe. We tend to eat it for lunches the rest of the week. It's a favorite at our house. My mom used to make it with the noodles you need to boil, but I find the no-boil noodles easier to make, it saves a step.

Flavor rating: Great, I'll eat it all week.

Ease of preparation: Moderate, it takes a couple of steps, but I think it's easier than having to boil the noodles.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Day 8, Garlic and Herb Steak Frites

I got my Cooking Club of America magazine yesterday and was leafing through the recipes when I came across this recipe and said I know what's for dinner tomorrow! It looked really good and I still had extra meat leftover from yesterday's meal.

Garlic and Herb Steak Frites

14 oz frozen shoestring french fries (I used crinkle cut because I like them better)
1 1/4 pound beef sirloin steak
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup beef broth
1/4 cup half-and-half
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 package (5.2 oz) garlic and herb spreadable cheese, I used Target brand

Make fries according to package directions, until browned.
Meanwhile, sprinkle steak with salt and pepper. Heat large skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add oil; heat until hot. Cook steak 8 to 10 minutes for medium-rare, turning once. Remove steak. Cover loosely with foil; let stand 10 minutes before thinly slicing.
Into same pan, add broth, half-and-half and Worcestershire sauce to skillet. Bring to a boil; boil to reduce slightly. Remove from heat; whisk in cheese.
Serve steak over sauce; accompany with fries.

Makes 4 servings

To see nutritional info for this recipe, see and search recipes. I like having recipe magazines because they allow me to try new recipes instead of going back to my standards frequently. The only drawback is that I have to go out and get ingredients I may not normally use. It was snowing today, but I was fortunately out early enough to not have to handle too much traffic. I got the ingredients for the next few days to hold me over until the snowstorm is done. This is one of those recipes that makes you feel like you're eating in a fancy restaurant, but was still easy to make. It still only took about a half hour to make. It would be great with a salad on the side.

Flavor Rating: Excellent, big tip quality, but you have to like garlic to enjoy it.

Ease of preparation: Easy, you just need to know how to multi-task.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Day 7, Beef and Barley Soup

It's getting colder out so I will be making more soups. I just threw a bunch of stuff together today, not knowing what the outcome would ultimately be, and hoped it would turn out ok.

Beef and Barley Soup

1 pound beef, cut into 1/2 inch cubes, I used top round tip roast
small onion, chopped
celery stalk, one, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped
Italian herb seasoning from grinder, approximately 1 tsp
1/8 tsp dried thyme leaves
peas, I used baby sweet frozen
1/2 cup barley, quick cooking
5 cups beef broth

Turn heat to medium and add cubed beef, onions, celery, and carrots. Cook until beef is browned and onions are translucent. Add seasonings to cooking mixture. Add frozen peas. Add broth and bring to a boil. Add barley. Bring soup back to boiling. Reduce heat to simmer, medium low heat. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, until quick cooking barley is done and carrots are tender.

Feeds about 10

It was one of those days that I didn't have a lot of time to make something and this soup only takes about a half hour to put all together. I was able to go out and get fresh ingredients today. I like making my soups from fresh beef. I was hoping it would turn out fine and it did. Everyone had seconds and even thirds. That's saying a lot for my picky eater. I didn't have to use oil to brown the beef. If you throw the meat into a cool pot and heat it as you're throwing ingredients in, you won't need to use as much oil. You won't get a deep brown, but when you're making soups, the meat doesn't need to be darkened. It just needs to be tender.The boiling process cooks the meat through.

Flavor Rating: Great, everyone had more than one bowl full.

Ease of preparation: Easy, there's a lot of chopping to do though.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Day 6, Mini Pizzas

It's a lazy Sunday. The kids needed to eat. So I had them help me make dinner. We made mini pizzas. One is enough for a little one to eat. I tend to eat two.

Mini Pizzas

1 english muffin per adult, 1/2 muffin per child
enough pizza sauce to cover top of split muffin
shredded cheese, usually mozzarella is the cheese of choice
toppings of your choice

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Split english muffins in half and toast. Spread sauce on muffin. Sprinkle with cheese. Place toppings on top of muffin. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes or until cheese is melted.

This is great for those who can't agree on toppings or at parties. The kids love to help make dinner and this is a great way to let them help. Have them put their own toppings on each muffin half. It's also an easy quick dinner.

Flavor Rating: Good, to each pizza topper their own.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, even the kids can do it, with adult supervision and an adult putting the pizzas in the oven.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Day 5, Chicken and Potatoes

Today I was too busy to make a meal. I got a rotisserie chicken from my local grocery store and made a box of potatoes and heated up some green beans. When you have little time, you can still make a healthy meal. This is also a good way to fake out a long prepared meal.

Rotisserie Chicken with Potatoes and Green Beans

Your favorite Rotisserie Chicken from a local store
Box of potatoes, I used Betty Crocker Sour Cream and Chives
Green Beans

Pick up chicken on the way home. Make potatoes as directed on box. Heat beans according to instructions on bag/can.

I was out all day today from a trip to the Mall of America so it was getting late by the time we got home. I still wanted to feed the family a decent meal. Rotisserie chicken is cheaper than bringing the whole family out to dinner. I had plenty of boxed potatoes because of great sales they had the other week at Target. I always have green beans in the freezer, I like to have vegetables on hand, but don't always use them right away if I pick them up fresh. Many times they are actually cheaper when purchased frozen. I haven't eaten vegetables canned in ages, they're just too salty from the preservatives.

Flavor Rating: good, was a decent meal after a long day.

Ease of preparation: Easy, just throw a couple of ingredients together and heat.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Day 4, Stuffed Peppers

Today is a day to take time to make dinner. It takes a couple of hours to make this meal from preparation to eating. It's very filling when you're done and is all you need for the enitre meal. They're good for freezing and reheating later.

Stuffed Sweet Peppers

serves 10-12

6 bell peppers in the color of your choice
1 pound ground beef
1 1/2 cups rice, cooked
1 cup spaghetti sauce, enough to make meat mixture moist
1/2 cup shredded cheese

Wash peppers and slice in half lengthwise. Remove seeds and membranes. Steam peppers over boiling water for about 4 minutes, until the peppers are starting to become tender. Brown ground beef. Drain and rinse hamburger, add rice and spaghetti sauce. Heat until hot.

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Place peppers in a baking dish. Stuff peppers with meat mixture until heaping. Place shredded cheese on top of stuffed peppers. Cover and bake for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 5 minutes to brown cheese.

Any spaghetti sauce you enjoy can be used. Suggested cheeses to use are Cheddar, Mozzerella, or Marble Jack. To make the peppers stay flat, cut a sliver off the bottom so it's flat.

Flavor rating: great, My husband said Mmm.

Ease of Preperation: difficult, it takes a couple of hours to make and a lot of pans to wash.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Day 3 Tomato Bisque with Grilled Cheese

My husband came home early today, so I ended up having to feed him. I made for him what I was going to make the kids and myself earlier, tomato soup and grilled cheese.

Tomato Bisque and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Campbell's Zesty Tomato Bisque Soup
2 slices of bread per sandwich- I used plain white bakery bread
2 slices cheese per sandwich- I used Kraft American Singles

Heat soup according to directions on can. Heat a large enough frying pan to medium heat, medium low if using slow melting cheese. Butter outside of bread with softened butter to edges of bread. If desired, butter inside of bread to keep cheese from sliding. Place cheese in center of slices and fry each side of sandwich until browned. Browning can take 30 seconds to a minute per side for medium heat, longer for lower heat. Cut sandwiches into whichever shape desired, I prefer triangles for dipping.

This is a great quick way to make a dinner. Having pre-made soup makes dinner easier when you don't have a lot of time between work or school functions. Grilled cheese can be made, then reheated for lunch when you want a hot meal at work.

Flavor rating: good, I liked this soup better than plain tomato soup. Some people may not like the spices, some people might like the extra zing.

Ease of Preparation: Beginner level, just watch the bread so it doesn't get burned.

Day 3? McDonalds

Today my Mom decided we were going to go out to eat. The kids wanted to play so we had McDonald's for dinner. We can't eat at home every day, so today it was kids choice. Tomorrow should be interesting as I will be doing stuffed peppers for dinner. Had I known farther in advance that dinner would have been out, I would have made a more interesting lunch to share with you, but it was just peanut butter sandwiches.

Flavor rating: ok.

Ease of preperation: Beginner level. If only I didn't have to put the kids in huge jackets today it would have been easier.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Day 2, Chicken Noodle Soup

With the cold weather today, it's a soup kind of a day. I made this from scratch and only used one pot. I love not having too much to clean up afterward.

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

1 tbsp olive oil

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces

1 cup carrots, cut into bite sized pieces

1 medium onion, chopped

fresh ground pepper

tsp garlic

5 cups chicken stock- I used Emeril's Chicken Stock

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1 cup noodles- I used Barilla Whole Grain Shells

Heat oil. Add chicken and brown. Add fresh ground pepper over cooking chicken. Add onions and carrots. Cook until onions are translucent. Add garlic just before adding chicken stock. Bring mixture to a boil. Boil until carrots are starting to become tender. Add noodles and cook until noodles are done.

Serves 8 - 10

You can serve this with saltines or any cracker you like. Add celery for extra flavor. You can use pre-cooked chicken or turkey if you have some left over.

Flavor rating: Great, I really enjoyed it.

Ease of Preparation: Average. I didn't measure exactly, so your soup may come out slightly different from mine.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Day 1, Roast and Potatoes

Day one of my challenge. It's very easy this early in to create new meals. As I go along, it will become more difficult to keep the meals unique.

Chuck Roast with Baby Carrots and Russet Potatoes

2 lbs Chuck Roast

1 small bag baby carrots

4 medium russet potatoes

McCormick Beef Stew Seasoning Mix (comes in a single serve packet)

Place roast in slow cooker. Add seasoning mix on top of meat. Add carrots. Wash then cut potatoes into similar sized cubes, approximately 1 inch each. Add potatoes to slow cooker. Add enough water or beef broth to cover. Cook on high for 6 to 8 hours until meat is tender and falls apart and vegetables are soft.

Serves 5-6

I used Chuck Roast because it is a cheap cut of meat, I happened to catch it on sale for under $2 a pound. It is a fattier type of cut, but when slow cooked the fat is easier to remove from the meat. I also like to use red potatoes for a roast, but didn't have any on hand today. Beef broth adds a little extra flavor to the mix. When doing roasts I like to use the roast seasonings that come in a similar packet, but I didn't have it on hand today which is why I used the beef stew flavoring.

Flavor rating: great, my 3 year old son wanted seconds

Ease of preparation: Beginner level, just toss into slow cooker and forget until dinner time, just remember to start it in the morning before work.