Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Ranch Salad Dressing Mix

My Southwestern Chili Mac recipe calls for a teaspoon of ranch salad dressing mix. That's not the kind of thing I keep in the house, but I didn't have to run to the store to make that dinner! It's really easy to make this mix and keep it at home.

In an 8-ounce or larger jar (I used an old bottle from parsley flakes), combine:

1/2 cup dry buttermilk powder
1 TBL dried parsley flakes
1 tsp dill weed
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried chopped onion
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp pepper

Put the lid on and shake well to mix. Store in the refrigerator.

1 tablespoon = 1 packet of mix.

I love to keep seasoning mixes around, and this way I can control the seasonings. I used extra garlic powder and pepper since that's the way we like it. It's much more frugal to mix up a seasoning blend than to keep buying a new one, especially when I have many spices around to play with!

Recipe source

Southwestern Chili Mac

This recipe was inspired by Picky Palate's Southwestern Chicken Chili Mac. It looked so delicious, I knew we had to try it.

I changed a few ingredients based on my family's preferences and what we had on hand. I had Pork Carnitas in the freezer and used that for the meat.

Print this recipe!

1/2 lb. small pasta, cooked al dente, drained and rinsed (shells, wagon wheels, elbows or spirals)
2 cups pork carnitas (or other shredded, cooked chicken or pork)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 small bell pepper, finely chopped (any color)
1 TBL minced garlic
1 10-ounce can Ro-Tel diced tomatoes with chilies, mild
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup corn (canned, frozen or fresh)
1/2 can red beans, drained and rinsed
1 TBL chili powder
1 TBL cumin
1 tsp dry Ranch salad-dressing mix
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar-Jack cheese
oil for the pan

In a deep skillet, cook onions and peppers until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and cook 1 minute more.  Add remaining ingredients except cheese.  Stir until well combined and simmer until heated thoroughly.

In the future I will season this differently.
Ro-Tel adds enough spice that I could have done without the chili and cumin. Also, I'd rather use a can of tomato sauce and half a can of water for the liquid rather than chicken broth.

Remember to choose the right pan for the job. It's always better to have a pan that's a little bigger than you need--the pan on the right is the one I used for this recipe and I barely squeezed it all in. Stirring without spilling was a tough job.

This is a great way to use leftover cooked chicken or pork--or pasta that was leftover from another meal. I used half a can each of corn and beans, and froze the rest for next time. (Yes, canned vegetables can be frozen in appropriate containers). We really liked this easy, pantry-friendly dish.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

How Hot is Hot?

If you've ever found a recipe on a European, Canadian or Australian website, or in a very old cookbook, you'll notice some differences in temperature notation.  So how hot IS a hot oven, anyway--and what's "gas mark 3?"

Thanks to Online Conversion for this very useful info!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Chili Honey Chicken

Get the recipe and nutrition facts at Cook and Count!

Frugal Hydration at College or Anywhere

Big Brother went back to college yesterday. Last week, when he was making his grocery list, he observed that even though there's a supermarket down the block from school, everything is twice the price that it is at home. I do what I can to keep him in Dr. Pepper and a few other things that are impossibly priced in his school's Philadelphia neighborhood. (He took 4 cases of soda to school with him yesterday).

He's also a water drinker, and last year he'd hike the block to buy a case of water bottles and then lug that back to his dorm. This time, he mentioned that he'd do that when he got to school. Then he had another idea. "Maybe I'll just get a Brita pitcher and use that. I've got a sink in my room."

A water pitcher plus one extra filter will be enough to get him through the semester, and it weighs a whole lot less--and takes up much less space--than a case of water bottles that lasts 3 weeks at most.  He's got a reusable bottle if he wants to carry water to class; otherwise, there are plenty of cups and mugs in his box of stuff.

Friday, August 19, 2011

I Confess

This afternoon I did something that I have never done. I drove to the liquor store and bought two bottles of wine.

You see, we don't drink alcohol. It's our choice, and we're not going to judge others who choose differently, but this choice works for us. I keep a bottle of Jack Daniels around for Christmas cookies...and that's pretty much it.

You may have noticed that I have several recipes that call for wine. And here comes the confession part: all this time, I've been using cooking wine. (All together now: ewwwwwwwwww!)

Yeah. I make my own chicken stock, freeze lemon and lime juice and like to make things from scratch. And then I go to ShopRite and buy cooking wine.

Last Thanksgiving, we were given a bottle of white wine as a gift. I've been using it, 1/4 cup at a time, in Chicken Piccata and Shrimp Scampi. Last week we used the last of it. And I needed more for tonight.

Next time I go to the liquor store, I'll invest in some sherry and Marsala. Then my days of cooking with cooking wine will really be over.

Let's hear it for the Real Thing.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The big reveal

The results are in from yesterday's big reveal in the secret recipe club. Want to know which of my recipes was chosen? It was my Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies. Over at Sweet as Sugar Cookies, the cookie expert took my recipe in a new direction and made them into bars. Must try!

I am working without my computer this week and also without much wifi. I am still a newbie on this iPad so please excuse the lack of a link right now. If you check yesterday's secret recipe club post and scroll to the bottom of the link list you will find the recipe for Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Secret Recipe Club: Roasted Garbanzos

My Secret Recipe Club blog for August is A Vegan Obsession. The recipes on this blog are both vegan and gluten-free, which is pretty much the complete opposite of how I cook. Fortunately, there were some side dishes and snacks to choose from, and I found a great 3-ingredient recipe for a delicious, different, healthy snack: Roasted Chickpeas.


1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed
coarse salt
garlic-pepper seasoning

Use a kitchen towel or paper towels to dry the garbanzos.  Spread them on a cookie sheet (I covered it in foil) and season generously.

Here's how they looked before cooking.  You could probably fit 2 cans' worth on a large cookie sheet.  I had lots of room to spread them out.

Bake at 400 for at least 20 minutes, opening the door and shaking the pan 2 or 3 times during baking to move the garbanzos around.

They'll cool off quickly and be ready to eat!  These are crunchy and tasty, and a good lowfat snack.  Or you could smack them once or twice with your meat mallet and sprinkle them over a salad.

I like to call these "garbanzos" because that's just more fun to say. I didn't change much from the original except my use of seasoning; the original recipe called for "herbsalt" and ground black pepper.

This makes about 3/4 cup when cooked, so if you're planning to serve these to a crowd, you'll need to make several cans of beans.

Enjoy this unusual, crunchy, and frugal snack!

Don't forget to "like" my new facebook page: Mom's Fridge: Recipes.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Secret Recipe Club

I don't believe in secret recipes. In my opinion, recipes are meant to be shared. When someone asks me for a recipe for a food I've served them, I take that as a huge compliment.

I remember when I used to help out at Bingo at my older son's school. I worked in the kitchen, cooking hot dogs and making coffee. There was an older lady who would show up at Bingo every Sunday with an amazing-looking chocolate cake. As soon as people saw her, they'd line up at the window, waiting for a slice.

People always wanted her recipe, and she would never share it. She said that she wouldn't even give this recipe to her own kids. What a shame!

The Secret Recipe Club is not about people who keep their recipes secret. Instead, it's a chance for bloggers to SECRETLY visit a food blog, prepare a recipe, and report back. Then, all at the same time, we post about it on our blogs. Only then do we find out who picked a recipe from our blog--and which one!

It's lots of fun. And tomorrow's the first of three Big Reveals for the month of August--this group has gotten so big that it had to be broken into three. Check back tomorrow to see whose recipe I chose. Until then--shhh! It's a secret!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

On the Menu: August 1 - 13, 2011

You can tell it's summer around here when in a 2-week period, we have pizza twice and takeout once! Every so often, the cook (that's me!) needs a day off too.
Asian chicken wraps.  YUM!

Mon 1: pizza

Tues 2: Pie pan enchiladas, salad

Wed 3: Roast chicken, rice, broccoli

Thurs 4: Asian chicken wraps, brown rice

Fri 5: takeout

Sat 6: Steak on the grill, crispy smashed potatoes, corn. The potato dish was a new recipe and received a BIG thumbs-up. You get baked-potato flavor, but they're not all dried out.

Sun 7: Tandoori chicken, Alfredo noodles, mixed vegetables

Mon 8: Gyros, pasta salad, cucumbers

Tues 9: Cheddar garlic chicken (now with pictures!), sweet potato fries, broccoli

Wed 10: Spaghetti with meatballs

Thurs 11: Beef noodle skillet, corn

Fri 12: Pizza

Sat 13: Chicken piccata bites, rice, broccoli

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Waste Not, Want Not: Citrus

Tell me I'm not the only one who buys a bunch of lemons or limes because they are sold in a bag or sold "8 for a low, low price," uses four of them and then lets the rest molder in the fruit drawer of the fridge.

Today I rummaged around in the fruit drawer and found 4 lemons and 4 limes hanging around in there.  The limes were starting to turn yellow, and I knew that brown and icky were just days away, so I decided to head them off at the pass.

I squeezed the limes and then poured the juice into ice-cube trays.  Into the freezer they went, and then I did the same with the lemons.

The juice of one lime made 3 ice cubes; one lemon made 2.  That may be due to differences in the size of my ancient ice-cube trays (I have about 8 of them in random sizes).

When they're completely frozen I'll transfer them to labeled freezer bags.

This would also work with orange juice.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Spicy Asian Chicken Wraps

I saw this recipe at Barbara's cooking blog and thought it would be something my family would enjoy.  On the way to the supermarket today, though, I heard a news story on the radio about salmonella in ground turkey, so I decided to revamp the recipe. Instead, I used slices of boneless, skinless chicken breast. The cooking technique is changed a bit to reflect the change in ingredients. Next time I make this, I won't change a thing: we loved this! (Plus, the chicken was on sale!)

Spicy Asian Chicken Wraps
Get the recipe and nutrition facts at Cook and Count!

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Menu Plan end of July 2011

Just catching up...

Mon 25:  Lemon Mushroom Herb Chicken

Tues 26:  Pot roast

Wed 27:  Spaghetti

Thurs 28:  Shrimp Tacos

Fri 29:  ate out

Sat 30:  family picnic

Sun 31:  neighborhood picnic


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