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

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ground Beef Roast

This recipe comes out of a cookbook my mother-in-law gave me for Christmas two years ago. She made this dish for dinner. I honestly don't care for meat loaf that much so I wasn't that excited about it, but I was SO HAPPY that someone else was the brainpower behind dinner (always a nice break ;-}). I was so surprise that I loved this dish! I don't know if it was because I was pregnant (no knowing it yet) and just need the extra protein, but I am banking on it just being a taste that suites me. I made it the other night when Cameron requested noodles and meatballs. I didn't feel like rolling individual meatballs, nor did I have the time, so this recipe came to mind. It was as good on my taste buds as it was two years ago. My kids LOVED it and requested seconds then expressing how many stars they thought it deserved. It was a hit for all of us. I was especially excited because of all the green bell peppers I have been getting in my basket and needed to use. This was a quick pull together meal, but it does need 1 hour to bake.

We like mashed potatoes or buttered noodle as or choice of side, as well as a salad or other vegetable. This is a family favorite and will make its appearance more in the rotation of favorites.

Ground Beef Roast (Big Flat Meat Loaf in a Baking Dish)
Original recipe from Nancy Schiffer, Kaycee, WY out of Eatin' with Sal cookbook p.11

2 pounds ground beef
1 pound ground sausage meat
1/2 cup milk
4 slices bread, torn in pieces, or 1 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup dry parsley or 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoons pepper
1 Tablespoon soy sauce

For the topping:
1 cup chopped green pepper
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup catsup mixed with 1.2 cup water

Place the bread and milk in a bowl, add the parsley, eggs, salt and pepper and soy sauce; mix well. Add the meats and blend all together lightly.I usually use my hands.
Pat the meat mixture into a 9 x 13-inch baking pan, or something sort of that size; sprinkle the onion and pepper over the top and drizzle with the catsup mixture over the top. Bake for an hour at 350.

**3 lbs of meat is a lot of meat for our little family so I halved the recipe:

Ground Beef Roast (1/2 recipe-my amounts and alterations)
1.5 lbs lean ground beef
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup Panko crumbs
1/8 cup (2 T.) Dried Parsley
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoons Pepper
1 Tablespoon soy sauce

1/2-1 cup chopped Green Pepper **
1/2-1 cup chopped Onion (I use sweet onions 99.9% of the time) **
1/2 cup catsup mixed with 1/4 cup water.

**I mixed some of the peppers and onions in with the meat mixture thought my kids would like it better that way. Then I sprinkled the remaining pepper and onion pieces over the top of the catsup layer.

Place the bread and milk in a bowl, add the parsley, eggs, salt and pepper and soy sauce; mix well. Add the meats and blend all together lightly.I usually use my hands.
Pat the meat mixture into a 9 x 13-inch baking pan, or something sort of that size; sprinkle the onion and pepper over the top and drizzle with the catsup mixture over the top. Bake for an hour at 350.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Chicken Marinara

This is a nice dish that comes together in roughly 30 minutes. There are steps you can do ahead of time if you know that the dinner hour time is going to be hectic or crunched. Seems to be the story of everyday living for most families now days.

Chicken Marinara

1 Green Bell Pepper
1 Large Carrot
1 Medium Zucchini
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
4 Skinless, Boneless Chicken Breast, Pounded to 1/4-inch Thickness
1/2 teaspoon Dried Oregano
Salt and Pepper
1 (14 oz) can Stewed Italian Tomatoes
1/2 cup sliced black olives
5 medium mushrooms sliced (about 3 oz. I have even used a 4 oz can of Mushrooms)

Cut bell pepper, carrots, and zucchini into thin sticks about 3 inches long; set aside.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add oil; cook chicken until lightly browned, about 3 minutes per side. Sprinkle with oregano, salt, and pepper. Remove chicken from skillet. Add tomatoes, olives, mushrooms, bell pepper, carrot and zucchini to skillet. Cook covered, for 3 minutes. Return chicken to skillet; increase heat to medium-high. Cook, uncovered, for about 5 minutes or until sauce is slightly thickened and chicken and vegetables are tender.

* We like to serve this with Angel Hair or Linguine pastas or it's good over rice too.

**Make Ahead steps: Slice bell pepper, zucchini, and carrots 1 day ahead. To store wrap in damp paper towels, place in plastic bags and refrigerate.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Coconut Syrup

My kids love coconut syrup (The IHOP copycat recipe we have) and are always requesting it. I have tried to make it without buttermilk and butter using milk, lemon juice, and margarine. It is good but just not the same. So today I made a different version after looking at some recipes that said theirs tasted like what is served in Hawaii. Seeing that I have never been to Hawaii I wouldn't know but we liked this new recipe too. I personally could do without the shredded coconut in it but Cameron really liked it. The plus side to this recipe for me is that it is a pantry recipe. I can store all the needed items or have them already in my food storage items, so it can be made at anytime.

Jill's Pantry Coconut Syrup

1 (13.5 oz) can Coconut Milk, unsweetened
2 Tablespoons Corn Starch
2 1/2 cups White Sugar (Now you know why the kids love it!)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut

Whisk together the coconut milk and cornstarch in a saucepan until the cornstarch is dissolved. Pour in the sugar, water, and coconut; bring to boil, stirring continually. As soon as the mixture comes to a roiling boil, remove from heat. Allow to cool before serving.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Beef Fajitas

This recipe came to me by way of the butcher at Roger Meats. I really enjoyed the flavor as did our company. My kids aren't crazy about the stripes of meat, so next time I will have to mince or cube their pieces to make it easier for them to eat. I am excited to have this recipe to use up some more of our fajita meats in the freezer.

For: 1 lb. Skirt or flank steak

Juice of 1 lime
2 Tablespoons Oil
2 Gloves of garlic (I pressed mine)
1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Blend marinade ingredient in a food processor or blender. Marinade meat for 30 minutes. (I did mine longer-for a few hours, and it turn out fine.

Grill or pan fry the steak over high heat for 3 minutes per side or to desired doneness. (I did mine closer to 5 minutes on first side and 3 on the other. The meat was cooked to a medium doneness.)

Slice the meat across the grain into thin pieces. Serve with cheese, tomatoes, grilled onions (I made our favorite grilled onions and mushrooms), avocado, sour cream, and cilantro

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Fruit-Topped Triple Chocolate Tarts

I made these little treats for our women's organization's annual celebration last week. I got the recipe from my Pampered Chef "All The Best" cookbook. They make it into one large pizza, but I choose to make it into individual tarts for ease of serving on the planned buffet. My taste testers (a.k.a Jack and the kids) loved the strawberry on top but were not all together loving the mandarin orange. So next time I think I will just add a half of a strawberry and call it good.

Fruit-Topped Triple Chocolate Pizza

Make your favorite chocolate chip cookie dough (Or the original recipe calls for 1 package (18 oz) refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough)
2 squares (1 oz each) white chocolate for baking (I used white chocolate chips)
2 Tablespoons milk
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 cup thawed, frozen whipped topping
12-16 strawberries, cut in half
1 can (11 oz) mandarin orange segments, well drained
1 teaspoon vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. If you desire to make it the large pizza version place your dough on a large round stone and roll it out into 12-inch circle, about 1/4 inch thick. Bake 12-15 minutes until edges are set. (Cookie will be soft. Don't over bake) Remove from oven and cool about 10 minutes. Loosen from baking sheet and let it cool completely still resting on the sheet.

For the individual tarts. I used a muffin tin and my smallest ice cream scoop so that they would be equal in size. I baked the dough for about 8-9 minutes; let them cool lightly then removed them from the pan to a wire rack to cool. (You could use a cupcake liner too, if it meets your fancy.)

For the topping mix white chocolate and milk in a mixing bowl. Microwave on high 1 minute; stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Microwave an additional 10-20 seconds if necessary. Cool slightly. In a separate bowl combine cream cheese and powdered sugar; beat until mixed well and the mixture is smooth. Fold in whipped topping. Spread cream cheese mixture evenly over cookie/cookies.

Arrange the fruit on top of the cream cheese mixture. Place chocolate morsels and vegetable oil in a microwave safe bowl and melt until smooth. Drizzle over fruit. (I think this is easiest out of a baggie). Refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

Cornmeal Flatbread

I wanted to try this bread because I have lots of cornmeal in bulk that I am not using. I wanted to find some more recipes to help me use it up. So I share a bread that I found on familyfun.com. It worked out perfect that I had this in my "to try file" because I also got fresh rosemary in one of my baskets so I could give this recipe a try.

I only put 6 slices of tomatoes on mine and let the other half with only the herbs and cheese sprinkled on it. It was a nice side dish. My kids enjoyed it. The only draw back is if you don't eat all the pieces with the tomatoes it doesn't keep well.

Cornmeal Flatbread

Cooked on a baking sheet and sliced into squares, flatbread makes a versatile alternative to your standard dinner rolls. And your kids can lend a hand by pressing the dough into the pan and drizzling it with olive oil. In this version, cornmeal gives the bread a crispy crust, the perfect base for layering on fresh tomato, rosemary, and Parmesan.

  • 2 cups warm water (105ºF to 115ºF)
  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 4 1/2 to 5 cups unbleached flour, plus more for kneading
  • 1/3 cup finely ground yellow cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon table salt
  • 20 or so Kalamata olives, pitted and halved or quartered (optional)
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tomato, cored and thinly sliced vertically
  • 1/2 red onion, very thinly sliced (I used sweet onions)
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Leaves from 5 to 6 small sprigs rosemary
  • 1/4 cup shaved fresh Parmesan
  1. Measure the water into a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over the water and stir it with a wooden spoon. Let the mixture stand until the yeast dissolves and small bubbles form, about 5 to 7 minutes.

  2. Add 4 cups of the flour, the cornmeal, and the table salt and stir the mixture until the ingredients are uniformly combined. Stir in the olives, if you're using them. Add another 1/2 to 1 cup of flour and knead the dough in the bowl until it holds together.

  3. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead it until smooth and elastic, 5 to 7 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball.

  4. Measure 1 tablespoon of the olive oil into a large bowl. Add the dough, then turn it to coat all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm area until it has doubled, generally 1 to 1-1/2 hours.

  5. Heat the oven to 475ºF. Coat a rimmed baking sheet (ours was 17 by 12 inches) with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Punch down the dough and transfer it to the prepared sheet, using your fingertips to press it out to fit the pan.

  6. Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil over the dough. Again, let the dough rise in a warm area, uncovered this time, until it's puffy, about 30 minutes.

  7. Press your fingertips into the dough to form small indentations across the entire surface. Then top it with the sliced tomatoes and red onion, and season it with the coarse salt and freshly ground pepper. Distribute the rosemary leaves across the surface, lightly pressing them into the dough.

  8. Bake the bread until it's brown and crusty, 20 to 25 minutes, then top it with Parmesan. Enjoy it warm or at room temperature. Serves 8 to 10.

Cream of Asparagus Soup (Lion House)

So yet another recipe for Asparagus, still using up the 1/2 case of asparagus that I bought. (I really need to buy a pressure cooker so I can can vegetables is I ever do something crazy like that again. :-)) This recipe was good and a nice way to use up some of my asparagus.
Cream of Asparagus Soup (Lion House Christmas p.29)
1 (15 oz) can asparagus, undrained*
3 Tablespoons margarine
1/4 cup minced onions
3 Tablespoons flour
1 (15 oz) can chicken broth
1 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt

Pour asparagus and its liquid into a blender and process until pureed, set aside. In a heavy soup pot, melt margarine over medium-high heat; add onions, and saute until soft. Stir in flour. Add pureed asparagus, chicken broth, milk, paprika, and salt. Cook and stir until slightly thickened.

Make 6 servings.

*If using fresh asparagus, simmer 3/4-pound fresh, cleaned asparagus in 2 cups salted water until tender. Remove asparagus from water. Cool slightly and puree in blender. Follow recipe as above.

Spinach and Bacon Pasta Toss

This is a recipe I got from kraft foods magazine 4 plus years ago. When I got tomatoes and spinach in my Bountiful Basket several weeks ago this was what I served up for dinner with a side of bread.

Spinach and Bacon Pasta Toss

1 lb. Any Variety of pasta, uncooked
3/4 cup Italian Dressing
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast, chopped
1 pt cherry tomatoes, halved (or 1-2 cups diced fresh tomatoes, drain of juices)
1 bag (6 oz) baby spinach leaves (4 cups)
1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese, divided
8 slices bacon, crispy cooked and crumbled

Cook noodles as directed on package. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.

Meanwhile, heat dressing in large skillet on medium heat. Add chicken; cook and stir 5 to 7 minutes. or until cooked through. Add tomatoes; cook 1 minute, stirring occasionally.
Add spinach, 1/2 cup of the cheese and the bacon; toss lightly to combine. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese.

Makes 8 servings; 1 1/2 cups each

Sand-Dollar Cookies

These tender and chewy cookies are requested by my Quin frequently. Maybe its because he dreams of going to the beach one day, and these cute little cookies are about as close as he is going to get to his beaching anytime soon. These would be a great cookie to serve at a beach themed gathering. We have the Friend magazine (July 2009) to thank for this cookie recipe.

Sand-Dollar Cookies
1 cup margarine or butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup milk
3 3/4 cup flour (I use 4 cups plus some. I think the dough is to runny without it)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
Slivered almonds
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, mixed with 3 Tablespoons

Mix the margarine and sugar together in a mixing bowl until creamy. Add the eggs, vanilla, and milk, and mix until smooth.
In another bowl, mix the flour, salt, baking soda, and cream of tartar. Add the flour mixture to the margarine mixture. Mix well.
Roll dough into small balls and place them on a cookie sheet. Dip the bottom of a drinking glass in four, and use it to press the balls of dough into circles about 1/4 inch think. Press 5 slivered almonds on each cookie so the look like sand dollars. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.
Bake the cookies at 375 degrees for 7-10 minutes.