"It's the company, not the cooking, that makes the meal!" ~Perilee 
(Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Hamburger Vegetable Soup W/ Corn Bread

Our community recreation department had a listing for Free Cooking Classes. So I organized a few women that I knew liked to cook, exchange and visit about recipes to come to my home for the classes. The teacher comes from the UW Cooperative Extension--She's the Cent$ible Nutrition Project Coordinator. It is a program that has several classes teaching you how to feed your families better for less money. We held our first class and got their cookbook (free!) Then they asked us to try recipes out of it over the next week so we could ask question or share with others what we did to modify it. I have had good luck with the few I have tried with a few if any changes of my own.

This soup was a last minute meal I decided to do because I had everything on hand and need something quick! I hadn't planned very well this day--happening more and more often as the weather gets better! :-) Both the Soup and the cornbread were done in 30 minutes or less. I also used the Variation suggestions with some changes.

Hamburger Vegetable Soup (p.328)
12 oz. Lean ground beef
1 (16 oz) can kidney beans (I rinsed and drained)
1 (20 oz) bag frozen vegetables or 3 cups of any combination of vegetables
3 Beef Bouillon cubes (I used 5! and I think it was just right)
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
6 cups water (This is why I added more bouillon you could add up to 6 cubes)

Brown ground beef in large pan. Drain.
Add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil and cook 15 to 20 minutes, until vegetables are tender. You may need to add more water.

Serves 8

Variation: Add 1 to 2 tablespoons dried minced onion (I added a fresh small sweet onion)
and 2 unpeeled, diced potatoes (my russell potatoes were really small so I used 3 potatoes).

This wasn't my favorite corn bread. It doesn't even come close to my mother-in-laws corn bread which I call "corn bread cake!" This one is dry and crumbly and not very sweet like Ruth's, but in a hurry it was a good side and my kids loved it regardless. Cameron liked it plain, Quin liked it with our honey, Hugh just ate it no comment, and Jack though it need more sweetness. I was just grateful that it was ready from start to finish in under 30 minutes. Ruth's takes almost an hour.

Corn Bread (p. 133)
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup yellow cornmeal
2 eggs
1 cup lowfat milk
1/4 cup canola oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees, grease an 8 x 8 pan. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt; stir in cornmeal. Add eggs, milk, and oil. Stir until mixed. (Do not over beat.) Pour into greased pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Cut into nine pieces.

Fry Bread

Jack had been requesting Fry Bread for a while now. So one night I was thinking we'd do taco's for a quick meal (I had meat in the freezer ready to go.) So I pulled out the new cookbook that I got at my class a few days before and gave this a shot. I love that it is all pantry items that I have to toss it together from scratch quickly and it made more than enough for my little family.

Quin's proud display of his Fry Bread Taco

Fry Bread (p. 141)
2 cups all-purpose flour or (1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour and 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour)
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup nonfat dry milk powder
3/4-1 cup warm water
Canola Oil (for frying)

Mix flours, baking powder, and salt together. Combine nonfat dry milk with warm water. (Mixing milk with water prevents white particles in the oil wen frying). Add enough milk to dry ingredients to form a ball of dough. Form into 12 balls and roll or pat each ball into a 5-inch circle. Fry in hot (350-375 degree) canola oil until puffy and golden, turning once. Stand upright in pan lined with paper towels or unused brown paper bags to drain fat.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Strawberry Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

This little recipe is one I clipped a couple of years ago from our little grocery stores ad. I was glad to find a poppy seed dressing that was homemade. It is nice not to have a million different bottles of condiments in the fridge all the time. We also use candied almonds--making them as instructed in Jack's Favorite Salad. When Jack eats this salad he says, "That could be dessert!"

Strawberry Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

3 Tablespoons sugar

3 Tablespoons light Mayonnaise

2 Tablespoons milk

1 Tablespoon White Wine Vinegar

1 Tablespoon poppy seeds (I think 2 teaspoons would be ample)

10 oz Romaine Lettuce torn

1 cup Strawberries

2 Tablespoons toasted slivered almonds

Combine the sugar, mayonnaise, milk, poppy seeds and vinegar in a small bowl and whisk well.

Place lettuce in a large bowl. Add the strawberries and almonds and toss lightly. Divide among individual serving plates and drizzle each with about 1 Tablespoon dressing.

Makes six servings.

**We like this dressing, just as well as the store bought poppy seed.

Jack's Favorite Salad

Jack's Favorite Salad

1/2 cups sliced almonds

3 Tablespoons Sugar

1/2 head Iceberg lettuce

1/2 head Romaine lettuce

1 cup chopped celery

2 green onions

1 (11 oz) can mandarin oranges


1/2 teaspoon salt

dash pepper

1/2 cup vegetable oil (we always use canola)

1 Tablespoon Fresh Chopped parsley (can be made without if you don't happen to have it).

2 Tablespoons sugar

2 Tablespoons Vinegar

Dash Tabasco sauce (to taste) {I put 4 shakes/drops in the last time I made it and it gave the salad a bite. I recommend 1 -2 drops for the best results).

For the Nuts:

In a small sauce pan over medium heat cook almonds with sugar stirring constantly (5-8 minutes.) Cool and store in airtight container. *Don't put them in plastic containers it will melt because the nuts are so hot!

Mixing the Salad:

Wash and tear the lettuces, mix them together in a nice size bowl. Mix salad dressing and chill until ready to serve. Add almonds, oranges, and salad dressing just before serving.

Sesame Chicken

This is a recipe from Emily S. (reliefsocietycookers.blogspot.com). It takes at least an hour of planning time because it has to marinate. My kids and husbands really enjoyed this recipe. We will have this again.

3 or 4 chicken breasts

2 Tablespoons oil

1/4 cup sesame seeds

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 Tablespoons brown sugar

3/4 teaspoon ground ginger

2 cloves chopped garlic

Cut chicken into cubes or sometimes I do strips. In a large frying pan, combine sesame seeds and oil. Cook over medium low heat, stirring occasionally, just until seeds are golden (about 2 minutes). Let cool. In another bowl, combine soy sauce, sugar, ginger and garlic. When sesame seeds have cooled, add them to the bowl. Mix in chicken. Cover and chill for 1-4 hours.

Arrange meat with all of the marinade in a single layer in a 9 x 13 pan. Broil about 6 inches from the heat, until golden, about 10 minutes. Turn pieces over and continue cooking until chicken is no longer pink, about 5 minutes longer. Serve over rice!

Lemongrass Chicken and Asparagus

This recipe comes out of my William-Sonoma Weeknight cookbook (p. 26-27). It is a 20 minutes start to finish recipe which is great for those time crunched nights. I didn't have lemongrass as called for, not carried at our little store either. I was so glad that the book gave me and alternative for it (see the **).

Lemongrass Chicken & Asparagus

1 1/2 lbs. Skinless, boneless Chicken cut into thin strips
Salt and Pepper
2 Tablespoons Peanut or Canola Oil
3/4 cup, thinly sliced Green (spring) Onions
2 Tablespoons Fresh Ginger, minced
1 Stalk Lemongrass, bulb part only, trimmed and finely chopped **
3 Cloves Garlic, minced
1/2 lb. Slender Asparagus trimmed and sliced diagonally (I used the whole bundle so about 1 lb.)
3/4 cup Chicken Broth
2 Tablespoon Asian fish sauce (I left this out. It is all I taste when I am pregnant)
1/4 cup Peanuts, chopped

Serve steamed white rice

Season the chicken lightly with salt and pepper. In a Wok or frying pan over high heat, warm the oil. Add the chicken and stir-fry until golden on the outside and opaque throughout, 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Add the green onions and stir-fry until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Add the ginger, lemongrass, and garlic and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add the asparagus and stir-fry just until tender-crisp, 2-3 minutes.

Finish the dish by adding the broth and fish sauce to the pan and bring to a simmer. Return the chicken and any juices from the plate to the pan, reduce the hear to medium-low, and simmer for 1 minute to heat through. Sprinkle with the peanuts. Spoon the rice onto individual plates, top with the chicken and asparagus, and serve.

**Lemongrass is available in many markets, but if you can't find it, substitute 1 Tablespoon lemon juice and 2 teaspoon grated lemon zest. Add the juice and zest to the pan along with the garlic and ginger.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

French Dip Sandwiches (Crock-pot)

This recipe was so easy. I found the recipe on ourbestbites.com. I took out a roast Saturday afternoon and put it in the fridge. It was still frozen solid when I had the idea of putting the roast in at 10-pm Saturday night so we could have lunch but 1-pm Sunday afternoon. Worked like a charm! I think I will try this method again with a frozen roast and just add my vegetables to the crockpot later the next day!

I think if you enjoy a French Dip sandwich now and then you will like this. I will say that my kids were not so excited about the soggy bread deal(so they didn't dip), but they at it well the first night just not as left overs. I was pleasantly surprised with the results and very pleased with the simplicity of the meal all together.

French Dip Sandwiches

1 (2.5-3lb) Beef Roast (I used a chuck roast)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
2 (1 oz each) packages of dry onion soup mix. (I used 1-onion and 1-onion and mushroom flavored packets)
2 cups water
2 cans beef broth
6-8 Large buns (or more! 6 is a VERY generous serving we got nearly 12 servings total)
Swiss, provolone, or mozzarella cheese, shredded or sliced.

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat and run roast with salt and pepper.

When very hot, carefully place roast in pan and sear on all sides. You're not cooking the meat you're just browning it quickly on all sides to add flavor and seal in the juices.

Place in crockpot and sprinkle with onion soup mixes. Pour water and beef broth over roast.

Cook 8-10 hours on low or cook 4-5 hours on high and another 3-4 hours on low. It's hard to screw this part up; basically, the longer it cooks, the more tender it will be. It is done when you can insert a fork and the meat just falls apart. When meat is ready, remove from crockpot and shred with a fork. (I then placed it in a bowl and added a ladle or two of the Au jus over it while it rested so it could soak up more juices.)

Place meat in crusty rolls. Top with cheese and broil open-faced in the oven or taster oven for a few minutes, until bread is golden and cheese is melted.

Ladle juices into small cups for dipping and enjoy.

Our Quick Fruit Salad

Growing up I loved when my mom would make her fresh fruit salad with whipping cream. It seemed like we had it mostly at large family gatherings. It was always a huge hit and everyone wanted to lick the bowl clean. I guess I wasn't the only one who loved mom's salad! Because I don't recall there being a set ingredients list to mom's salad all I do remember is the banana's, apples, pears, peaches, pineapple chunks and cream. I have just started adding all kinds of fresh fruits to ours.

Quick Fruit Salad
2-4 Banana's
2 Golden Delicious Apples
1 Red Delicious Apple
Canned Peaches, Pears, and Pineapple (I use a homemade quart of fruit cocktail)
2 cups sliced Strawberries
1 8 oz container Cool Whip Free

Gently mix together in a large bowl, chill if necessary. If chilling is required I would recommend not slicing the banana's or strawberries into the mix until right before you serve the dish, so that they don't discolor or go soggy.

Mint-Chocolate Ice Cream Cake

This easy and economically friendly--make at home ice cream cake, was a huge hit! I got the recipe from my Betty Crocker email. I will make it again for sure, but I can't wait to try different flavor combinations like chocolate cake or vanilla cake with strawberry ice cream or chocolate cake and a turtle tracks style ice cream. I think the sky is the limit! If you feel like we do that Cake and Ice Cream are MADE FOR EACH OTHER than you are going to love this cake!

1 Box Chocolate Cake Mix, made according to box instructions.
6 cups Green-mint flavored ice cream, slightly softened

1 1/2 cups whipping cream (I used 2 cups Cool Whip Free--lactose intolerances at our place)
2 Tablespoons powdered sugar
4 drops green food coloring (This will change according to what color of ice cream you use each time.)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 2 (9-inch) round cake pans; line bottoms with waxed paper. Make cake as directed on box. Spoon evenly into pans.

Bake as directed on the box for 9-inch pans or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes. Remove from pans to cooling racks. Remove waxed paper. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.

Line 9-inch round cake pan with foil. Spoon and spread ice cream evenly in pan. Cover with foil, freeze until completely frozen, about 2 hours.

On serving plate, place 1 cake layer with rounded side down. Remove ice cream from pan; peel off foil. Place on top of cake. Top with remaining cake layer, rounded side up.

In medium bowl, beat whipping cream, powdered sugar and food coloring on high speed until stiff peak forms. (If using cool whip gently fold until color is evenly disbursed. If you beat it, it will turn runny!) Frost sides and top of cakes with whipped cream. Freeze about 2 hours or until firm. Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving.

Note: This dessert, wrapped in foil will keep up to a month in the freezer. You can also make the ice cream layer ahead of time and freeze it.

For a restaurant-fancy finish, heat hot fudge topping as directed on the label and pipe onto individual serving plates.

Jill Breakfast Casserole

My mom has some great egg casserole dishes. This is a combination of my mom's and her friend Kay Johnson's breakfast casseroles and downsized, because of what I had on hand and how big I personally needed it to feed my family. My family usually makes these for brunches on special occasions like baby blessings and holiday's. (I will have to make my mom's version one of these days and post it!)

Jill's Breakfast Casserole

In a prepared 8 x 8 baking dish, covered with bread pieces.
4 slices of bread, crust cut off and cut into large cubes

Mix together well then pour over the layer of prepared bread:
6 eggs whipped
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
Smidgen Paprika
1/8 teaspoon Dried Mustard
Pinch Black Pepper

Next layer the following ingredients on top of bread and eggs:
3/4 cup Browned Hamburger
(Seasoned to taste and cooked with onions, garlic salt, Salt and Pepper)
1/2 cup shredded Colby Jack Cheese
1 can drained mushrooms (optional)
2 Thinly sliced Green onions

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until eggs are no longer runny. ( We like ours to look a little moist when we take it out.)

Lion House Cinnamon Rolls

This was my first attempt at making cinnamon rolls and I was pleased with the outcome on the taste. I have some learning to do on how to roll them out and roll them up so that they look pretty when all is said and done! We were invited to a friends house for dinner so we took half of the for dessert and saved the other half for our Sunday Conference Brunch. They are definitely best hot from the oven. But the boys loved them either way--No Complaints here!

Cinnamon Rolls

2 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup nonfat dry milk
2 Tablespoons active dry yeast
1 cup granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon salt
7 cups all-purpose flour (All the Lion House recipes I've tried have always taken more flour than called for, to make it work)
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 Recipe of Powdered Sugar Icing (see below)

Place water, oil, eggs, vanilla, and dry powdered milk in a large bowl of an electric stand mixer and stir vigorously until milk is dissolved. Sprinkle yeast over liquid mixture, then add the 1 cup sugar, salt, and flour.

Put dough hood on mixer and ix for 10 to 15 minutes at low speed. The dough will be very sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours. Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface and roll out into a rectangle shape (I think I rolled mine to big). Brush with melted butter. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Roll up rectangle lengthwise and cut into 1-inch slices. Grease a cookie sheet or line with parchment paper. Place rolls on cookie sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise until doubled in size 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Bake at 375 degrees for 12 to 14 minutes. After baking, let rolls cool slightly before frosting. Frost with Powdered Sugar Icing or Buttercream frosting. Makes about 18 rolls. (I got two jelly-roll pans full around 24+Rolls)

**Note: If you want to make the dough a day ahead, mix dough according to directions. Instead of allowing dough to rise, place it in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight. When ready to use, remove dough from refrigerator and follow directions for rolling out, rising, and baking. It will take longer for the shaped rolls to rise because dough will be cold.
{Lion House Bakery cookbook, P 9}

Powdered Sugar Icing

2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup half and half or evaporated milk (I used regular 1% milk)

Mix all ingredients together in a small mixing bowl and beat until light and well mixed.

{Lion House Bakery cookbook, P 9}