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Archive for July, 2009

Menu Planning???

When I started this blog, it was with the intention of planning a menu for my family and sticking with it.  As many of us across this great country are experiencing, money is tight right now and what better way to be sure that we are using the food that we buy.  Plan a menu, based on the local grocery flier if it helps, and stick to it.  Lot less waste…lot more yummy meals that you may not have made otherwise right?

That being said, we found ourselves in a rut with the menu planning and I found myself making the same meals over and over and over again.  Then I grabbed out an old cookbook…you know, the ones that you get from church groups, day cares, etc.  The ones with REAL recipes that someone has actually made.  The ones with ingredients that you actually can find in a small town grocery store.  Oh, and better yet, you can pronounce the ingredients!  So we are adding some of these recipes to our menu over the next several weeks.

And the best part…found some handwritten ones from my Grandma!!!

How about you?  Do you menu plan?  A week at a time?  The whole month?

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So…I know…you are probably thinking I’ve lost my mind!!!!  I was at work today and was trying very, very hard to think of what in the world I could make for supper.  Pancakes…yes, pancakes…quick, easy, and cheap (and who doesn’t like cheap right now!!!!)  Then I got to feeling a little guilty, cause I knew I had some leftover burger in the refrigerator that I had fried up the night before.  And not wanting to be wasteful, I thought I would try to make Cheeseburger Pancakes!  I’ve seen them before in a cooking magazine years ago….but not having enough time to dig for the recipe, I thought…how hard could they be!  So I grabbed the pancake mix (never have made them from scratch…silly I know…and I promise I’ll try it this weekend), the burger and some cheddar cheese and went to town!

Approx 1/2 – 3/4 lbs ground beef, brownedwith onions and green peppers (or whatever your family likes!) – slightly cooled

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese – again you could use whatever you like on your burger

Pancake batter prepared – enough for 12 – 15 pancakes

Stir slightly cooled meat mixture and half of the shredded cheese into your prepared pancake batter.  Pour mixture just like you would any other pancake until your skillet.  Cook asusually.  For those of you tempted to turn and turn and turn…DON”T.  Pancakes should be turned only once!!!!!  Flip pancake when edges begin to dry and bubbles stop.  Cook on opposite side until desired doneness.  Serve with additional shredded cheese onto!  Boy were they yummy!!!!

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OK…So I have to admit, I took a little help with this one!  You have to try the seasoning packet from McCormick – McCormick Slow Cookers BBQ Pulled Pork Seasoning.  It has to be the easiest pulled pork ever!  Here goes:

3 Lbs Boneless Pork Roast

2 packets McCormick Slow Cookers BBQ Pulled Pork Seasoning

2/3 C Red Wine Vinegar – divided

2 C Ketchup – divided

2 C Brown Sugar – divided

A pack or 2 of your favorite buns or rolls (We used a wonderful roll with onions cooked in)

Mix 1/3 C Red Wine Vinegar, 1 C Ketchup, 1 C Brown Sugar and 1 packet of seasoning.  Place Roast in Slow Cooker and pour the sauce over top of the meat.  Cook until meat is tender and falling apart.  This is typically 4 hours or so on high.  Once meat is cooked, remove meat from slow cooker.  Discard the sauce that you cooked the meat in.  (Yes, I know, this seems like such a waste.  If you are not planning to serve the meat right away, you could ladle the sauce into a container and chill in the refrigerator.  Then, once chilled, remove the layer of fat from the top.  Then you would be fine to reuse…otherwise, I find it to be way too fatty!)  Prepare the 2nd seasoning packet the same way you did the 1st.  Place this in the crock pot.  Shred the pork roast with using 2 forks.  (I like to give this job to my hubby).  Place the shredded pork back into the crock pot with the new sauce.  Heat until bubbly!

Caution…do not serve to guest unless you want to have it requested every time they visit!!!

Now for the Potatoes!  A yummy blend of garlic and rosemary.  And a simple dish to make!

1 – 2 lbs potatoes – scrubbed clean – unpeeled – chopped into bite size pieces  (I find these to be best with red potatoes, but anything will do.  I used a regular russet this time)

2 – 3 T extra virgin olive oil

2 – 3 clove garlic – pressed or finely chopped

2 T Rosemary

Black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Place olive oil, garlic, rosemary and cracked black pepper into a small dish.  Microwave on medium 30 seconds or so…just to heat the oil slightly.  Spray a baking sheet (love a jelly roll pan for this) with cooking spray.  Spread potatoes on the baking sheet and pour the olive oil mixture over the potatoes.  Stir it all to coat – then spread back out into 1 layer.  Bke for 15 – 25 minutes until the potatoes start to brown and develop a slight crust.

Green Beans:

Simple – We picked our fresh from the garden, washed them, let the kiddos snap them…Then boiled till they were done.  Seasoned with salt & pepper and we were done.

Let me know if you try the pulled pork or the potatoes!

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Does this look good or what?  For those of us that have a garden..this is the perfect way to use those veggies that are ready now!  A twist on a great sandwich.  Has even made me rethink my next BLT!  May on garlic toast after having this!

Ingredients:

6 strips thick cut bacon – chopped

1 small onion – chopped (plucked one from the garden)

1 pint grape tomatoes – quartered

1 1/2 tsp sugar

1 1/4 C chicken broth – divided

2 1/2 tsp red wine vinegar

1/2 tsp cracked black pepper

2 C. fresh spinach leaves or mixed baby greens

10 oz penne – cooked to package directions

Day old french bread – processed to crumbs

2 cloves garlic – pressed

1 T olive oil

Directions:

Begin by toasting bread crumbs.  Place olive oil in small skillet and heat to medium.  Add processed bread crumbs and pressed garlic.  Toast.  Turn off pan and reserve bread crumbs for garnish.

Bring large pot of salted water to boil.  While you wait for the water to boil, preheat a large skillet over medium high heat.  Cook bacon until crisp.  Drain bacon on paper towel, leaving approx 2 T of bacon grease in skillet.  Add chopped onion.  Cook 3 mins.  Add grape tomatoes and sugar.  Cook, stirring occasionally until tomatoes begin to caramelize.  De-glaze pan with 1/4 C chicken stock.  Simmer 3 minutes.  Add remaining chicken stock, red wine vinegar, and cracked black pepper.  Simmer 5-7 minutes. While sauce simmers, begin to cook the pasta.  Add the spinach to the simmering sauce and allow to wilt for 1 – 2 minutes.  Add cooked bacon (reserving 1 T for topping plated pasta).  When pasta is cooked, add drained pasta to sauce.  Toss to coat.  Plate pasta and garnish with remaining crumbled bacon and garlic bread crumbs.

Hope you enjoy this as much as we did.  We have made this a couple of times already.  The 1st was with the baby greens which add a peppery bite!  But very good!

What are you doing with the summer produce?

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Wow…was having a craving…and remembered that we actually had EVERYTHING in the house to make my all time favorite Cheesecake.  Now, I can’t take credit for this one…I started with the base recipe from the back of a bag of Andes Candies baking chips (also found at http://www.tootsie.com/rec_cheesecake.php).  But as you have learned by now…I never follow any recipe to a T…and have often had to substitute for the baking chips as my local market only carries them during the holidays!  So here goes!

Oh…wait…let me temp you with a picture 1st…

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Ingredients:

1 C. chocolate cookie crumbs (I love oreos for this)

3 T. sugar

3 T. melted butter

4 pkg (8 oz each) cream cheese (yes…you can use reduced fat)

1 C. sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

4 eggs – room temp

1 pkg (28 candies) Andes Candies – chopped – or 1 C Andes Candies Baking chips

1 jar hot fudge ice cream topping

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Mix crumbs with 3 T sugar in small bowl.  Add melted butter and mix.  Press onto bottom of a 9″ springform pan.  Bake at 325 degrees for 10 mins.  While crust bakes, beat cream cheese and 1 cup sugar in large bowl (I love my Kitchen Aid mixer for making this cheesecake).  Once well blended, add eggs and vanilla.  Mix on low just until blended.  Stir in baking chips.  Pour into baked crust and return to 325 degree oven for 65 minutes or until center is almost set.  Turn off oven and open door.  Allow cheesecake to sit in oven 1/2 hour.  Remove.  Run knife between pan and cheesecake.  Cool at room temp.  Refrigerate overnight.  When ready to serve, heat hot fudge sauce in microwave till able to pour.  Garnish each slice with hot fudge sauce!

This is soooooo yummy.  The original recipe uses more Andes Candies melted to top the cheesecake.  While this is very good as well, it is too rich for most of my family and friends, but the cheesecake is perfect with the hot fudge sauce!

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