Thursday, December 17, 2009

Coupon Brag

Today was a banner day in my Coupon World.

First I stopped at Walgreens to pick up photos for our Christmas cards (yeah, I'm THAT behind.) I had ordered them online using a sweet 25%-off deal.

The photos weren't ready yet, but there were a few other things I needed at the store. So I picked up the Dr. Pepper (on sale, pretty good price) and found some candy bars that I had BOGO coupons for. I told the photo clerk that I'd be back for the pictures after I ran some other errands. When I paid for my other stuff, I got a "save $2 on your next purchase" coupon at the register.

Next stop, Shop Rite, where they had some great sales this week. Plus they'd sent me a "save $10 on a $100 purchase" coupon that was only good through Saturday. Post cereals were on sale 2/$3 AND I had a few coupons for "save $4 on 4." I bought 8 boxes of cereal and paid $4--then got back $4 in catalina coupons. 8 boxes of good cereal--FREE! (For the record, that was 4 Honey Bunches of Oats, 3 Grape Nuts Flakes and 1 Shredded Wheat.) All in all, I had 10 bags of groceries including 12 boxes of cereal, 1 roasting chicken, 12 chicken legs, 3 pounds of chicken breasts, juice, milk, bread, cheese, ice cream, peanut butter and more. After store sales and coupons I paid $65 for all that. My coupon and sale savings totaled $70!

Cha-Ching! I'm stocking the freezer and the pantry--and it was ALL ON SALE.

Then I went back to Walgreens, got my pictures, and used that $2 off coupon on top of the 25% off I'd already saved!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sesame Chicken Bites

Sesame Chicken Bites (prep /total time 30 min)

1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup sesame seeds
2tsp minced fresh parsley
1/2 cup mayo
1tsp onion powder
1tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp pepper
1 lb boneless chicken breast, cut into 1 inch cubes
3/4 cup mayo
4 1/2 tsp Honey (or honey flavored syrup)
1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
In large resealable plastic bag combine,crumbs ,sesame seed and parsley, set aside.
In small bowl combine, mayo,onion powder,pepper,and mustard.
Coat chicken in mayonaisse mixture,then add to crumb mix a few pieces at a time, and shake the pieces in the bag.
In large skillet, saute the chicken in oil, in batches, until the juices run clear.
In small bowl combine the sauce ingredients for dipping.
8 to 10 servings

Source: sandieluvsbears at Family Corner

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Menu Plan December 2009

TUES 1: Pork roast with rosemary roasted potatoes

WED 2: Scarborough Fair Chicken Soup, Outback Steakhouse bread

THURS 3: Spaghetti and meatballs

FRI 4: takeout

SAT 5: Hawaiian Chicken

SUN 6: Big Brother's Eagle Scout Ceremony and Philly-Food Extravaganza, featuring cheesesteaks, hoagies, Philly pretzels and Boost (actually a Riverside, NJ beverage, and you don't get any more local than that)

MON 7: Cheesesteaks (leftovers)

TUES 8: Balsamic Chicken with Thyme

WED 9: Cheesesteaks (leftovers)

THURS 10: Spaghetti & meatballs

FRI 11: Pizza

SAT 12: Cheesy Garlic Chicken

SUN 13: Diner

MON 14: Pork Chops in Lemon-Garlic Marinade

TUES 15: Sesame Chicken Bites

WED 16: Beef enchiladas

THURS 17: Spaghetti

FRI 18: Waffles

SAT 19: Roast chicken, baked potatoes, Stove Top stuffing, green beans, cranberry sauce

SUN 20: Baked 20 dozen Christmas cookies! For dinner, Italian Veal Stew over linguine.

TO TRY: Sesame Chicken Bites

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Monster Cookies

In Big Brother's Scout troop, a summer-camp tradition is a big tin of Monster Cookies, baked by the Assistant Scoutmaster's wife.

Since we're preparing for Big Brother's Eagle Scout Court of Honor on Sunday, I thought I'd make a batch of these cookies to bring along as part of the dessert. First I checked with the usual baker of the cookies, just to make sure she wouldn't be upset if someone else made her signature dish. I think she thought I was silly for asking, but I've seen that kind of thing backfire before, so I just wanted to be sure.

This batch makes 100 or so cookies if you use the same size scoop I have. It does NOT fit in a stand mixer--you need a Really Big Bowl for these. And a really big cookie jar.

I am not responsible for any wooden spoons broken during the process of stirring these cookies. You have been warned. Use a really sturdy spoon to stir the batter!

1 cup (2 sticks) margarine, softened
2 cups sugar
2 cups brown sugar
3 cups peanut butter
6 eggs
1 1/2 tsp corn syrup
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
4 tsp baking soda
9 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 bag (12 oz) semisweet chocolate chips
2 cups M&Ms (I think I used 3 cups--didn't measure these!)

I used a stand mixer to help the beginning of this process along. Cover baking sheets with silicone liners or parchment paper.

Cream margarine, sugars, peanut butter together. Beat in eggs, then add corn syrup and vanilla.

At this point, transfer the batter to your super-huge bowl (Mrs. Assistant Scoutmaster recommends "sink-size").

Add baking soda and oats and mix.

Mix in chocolate chips and M&Ms.

Using an ice cream scoop (I used the Pampered Chef model), scoop balls of dough onto your baking sheet. Leave plenty of room between cookies. I only put 8 balls of dough on each full-size baking sheet.

You can flatten the cookies slightly if you want. You probably should. I didn't, but I think it would have been a good idea.

Bake at 350 for about 12 minutes. I switched the pans from bottom rack to top midway through baking.

Cool completely before serving/storing.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Maple-Hoisin Salmon

This recipe is a super-easy and delicious way to make salmon. The whole thing including preheating the oven takes 25 minutes!

I tripled the recipe and changed the directions a little bit from the original.

3 tablespoon maple syrup
3 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
6 6-oz salmon fillets

Preheat oven to 400. Brush Pyrex pan with olive oil.

Combine first 4 ingredients in a small bowl.

Place salmon skin-side down in prepared pan. Brush with sauce.

Bake 15 minutes.

Serves 6.


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Secrets of a Lazy Dishwasher

I'd label this "secrets of a lazy cook" but my laziness really comes in when it comes to cleanup, not to cooking itself.

I'm all about the shortcuts.

But I have some very nice pots and pans that are not dishwasher safe. Sometimes that's a real pain in the neck. It's so much nicer at the end of a meal to just toss everything in the dishwasher and be done with it.

It took me long enough, but I finally remembered that I have Corning Ware. I can cook on the stovetop with it. I can use it in the oven, or even the microwave. Best of all, it's dishwasher safe!

I'll definitely be using the Corning Ware for more than au gratin potatoes and baked beans.

Chicken Caroline

An original recipe by my friend Caroline! We loved it.

Get the recipe with photo and nutrition facts at Cook and Count!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Apple Pie

This recipe has been in my family a long time. We got it from the lady who used to live in the apartment downstairs from my grandmother. Mrs. Heerschap was famous for her apple pie.

Get this recipe along with a photo and nutrition information at CookAndCount.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Honey Pork Chops

Here is my version of Honey Pork Chops, inspired by the recipe at Alicia's Recipes. I make this in a foil packet for easy cleanup. This can even be done in individual foil packets if you prefer.

1 Vidalia onion, thinly sliced
2 apples, peeled & thinly sliced (tart, firm apples like Granny Smith work best)
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons caraway seeds, divided
6 boneless pork chops, (1/2" thick)*
1 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 TBL Dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 350. Line a 9X13 baking dish with enough foil that it can be used as a cover. Spray with nonstick baking spray. Layer onions and apples in the bottom of the dish. Drizzle honey on top and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon caraway seeds. Sprinkle pork chops with garlic salt and pepper and spread mustard on them. Place chops on apples (mustard side up) and sprinkle with remaining 1 teaspoon caraway seeds. Cover and bake 45 minutes.

Note: Thicker or bone-in pork chops will need a longer cook time.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

NOVEMBER 2009 Menu Plan

Updated as I go.

SUN. Nov. 1: Ham and cabbage at Mom & Dad's.

MON. Nov. 2: Easy Chicken Enchiladas

TUES. Nov. 3: Dr. Pepper Pork Roast (this was a "technology fail" since we got home from a basketball game almost an hour late. It was, shall we say, quite overcooked.)

WED. Nov. 4: Garlic & cheddar chicken, yellow rice, mixed vegetables

THURS. Nov. 5: Spaghetti

FRI. Nov. 6: Chinese take-out

SAT. Nov. 7: Attended a wedding

SUN. Nov. 8: Nacho night!

MON. Nov. 9: Honey-barbecue chicken wings

TUES. Nov. 10: Beef paysanne

WED. Nov. 11: Teriyaki Pork

THURS. Nov. 12: Spaghetti

FRI. Nov. 13: Sandwiches

SAT. Nov. 14: Boy Scout spaghetti dinner

SUN. Nov. 15: Burgers with pepper-jack cheese & caramelized onions

MON. Nov. 16: Cousin Sharon's Chicken & Biscuit Casserole

TUES. Nov. 17: Honey Pork Chops, au gratin potatoes, green beans with almonds

WED. Nov. 18: Chili

THURS. Nov. 19: Spaghetti

FRI. Nov. 20: Pizza

SAT. Nov. 21: Spanish Garlic Shrimp, rice

SUN. Nov. 22: Garlic & Cheddar Chicken, yellow rice, mixed vegetables

MON. Nov. 23: Chef Mark's Pot Roast, noodles, gravy, fresh green beans

TUES. Nov. 24: Spaghetti

WED. Nov. 25: Taco Skillet

THURS. Nov. 26: Thanksgiving dinner

FRI. Nov. 27: Mini penne with shrimp marinara

SAT. Nov. 28: Chicken Caroline, rice, green beans amandine

SUN. Nov. 29: Tandoori Chicken, au gratin potatoes, broccoli

MON. Nov. 30: Maple-Hoisin Salmon

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Easy Enchiladas

I was in the mood for some enchiladas yesterday, and I remembered that Amanda had posted a recipe for Enchilada Sauce that I wanted to try. I changed the recipe a bit to reflect what I had in the house, and we really liked the result. (Also, I skipped the part about using a blender.) This is a great way to use leftover chicken (or turkey, or pot roast).

2 8-oz cans tomato sauce
1/4 cup chopped green chilies and 1 tbl juice (I buy the chilies in a jar)
2/3 cup water
1 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 heaping TBL garlic, minced
2 TBL minced onion, mixed with 2 TBL water and allowed to sit 15 minutes

Place all ingredients into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered for 5-7 minutes.

ENCHILADAS (makes 8)

2 cups cooked, shredded chicken, beef or pork mixed with 1/2 cup enchilada sauce
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 1/2 cups cheddar-jack cheese, shredded (reserve a little for topping)
8 flour tortillas (8-inch size)
1 cup enchilada sauce

Cover the bottom of a casserole dish with a little enchilada sauce.
Add a scoop of the chicken-and-sauce mix to each tortilla. Top with a handful of cheese and some onion and roll like a burrito. Place in the casserole dish.
When all enchiladas are in the dish, pour the rest of the 1 cup of sauce over the top. Sprinkle a little cheese over the top of the enchiladas as well.
Bake, covered, at 400 for 15 minutes.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Meal Plan October 2009

Keeping up as I go:

1 THURS: Spaghetti & meatballs

2 FRI: baked flounder, brown rice, vegetables

3 SAT: Mustard Pork Chops, Salt potatoes, green beans

4 SUN: Chili

5 MON: Cheese ravioli with marinara sauce

6 TUES: Chicken piccata, rice, mixed vegetables

7 WED: Homemade hamburger helper (noodles, cooked ground beef, can of brown gravy with onions), broccoli

8 THURS: Spaghetti & meatballs

9 FRI: Chinese takeout

10 SAT: not home

11 SUN: Barbecued chicken, broccoli, mac & cheese

12 MON: Flips (quesadillas filled with refried beans, taco meat, and cheese)

13 TUES: Tami's Chicken Enchilada Soup, Portuguese Easter Bread

14 WED: Chick-Fil-A (school fundraiser)

15 THURS: Spaghetti & meatballs

16 FRI: Garlic & Cheddar Chicken

17 SAT: Chinese

18 SUN: Pork roast with hoisin-molasses sauce, rice, broccoli

19 MON: Italian chicken stew

20 TUES: Beef stew

21 WED: Hawaiian chicken, rice, green beans

22 THURS: spaghetti

23 FRI: Shrimp quiche

24 SAT: leftovers

25 SUN: eat out

26 MON: Beef Paysanne

27 TUES: Roast Chicken

28 WED:

29 THURS: Pork chops

30 FRI: pizza roll-ups

31 SAT: make big batch of spaghetti

Monday, August 31, 2009


I'll complete this as I go through the month.

TUES. 1: Hawaiian Chicken, rice, green beans

WED. 2: Tacos, corn muffins, mac & cheese

THURS. 3: Spaghetti & meatballs

FRI. 4: not home

SAT. 5: not home

SUN. 6: not home

MON. 7: Mexican steak, noodles & gravy, corn on the cob

TUES. 8: Garlic & Cheddar Chicken, rice, green beans

WED. 9: spaghetti

THURS. 10: chili

FRI. 11: pizza

SAT. 12: not home

SUN. 13: Tandoori Chicken

MON. 14: Pork Chops in Lemon Juice & Herb Marinade

TUES. 15: Lemon Mushroom Herb Chicken

WED. 16: Beef Paysanne

THURS. 17: Spaghetti

FRI. 18: Ate out

SAT. 19: Barbecued chicken, 4-cheese noodles (from a Knorr mix) & corn

SUN. 20: leftovers

MON. 21: Hawaiian Chicken, rice, pineapple, green beans

TUES. 22: Balsamic roast pork with potatoes & vegetables

WED. 23: Garlic & Cheddar Chicken

THURS. 24: Spaghetti

FRI. 25: Pizza

SAT. 26: Janelle's Chicken Tacos, Fifteen-Minute Macaroni and Cheese from Scratch

SUN. 27: Steak on the grill (London broil marinated in soy sauce, garlic powder and black pepper), salt potatoes, green beans

MON. 28: Chicken francese, rice, corn

TUES. 29: Chef Mark's Pot Roast with potatoes and carrots

WED. 30: possibly Chicken & Dumplings


Slow Cooker Orange Chicken
St. Anthony's Italian Dinner Rolls (adapted for the bread machine, of course!)
Cinnamon Sugar Donut Muffins
Jack's Ranch Chicken
Leasmom's Southern Biscuits

Friday, August 14, 2009


I'm just going to fill this in as I go.

Sat. 1: pizza

Sun. 2: sloppy joes, corn on the cob

Mon. 3: Hawaiian Chicken, rice

Tues. 4: ravioli with meatballs

Wed. 5: pot roast

Thurs. 6: takeout

Fri. 7: Tilapia with tomatoes and wine

Sat. 8: diner

Sun. 9: picnic with friends.

Mon. 10: Lemon Mushroom Herb Chicken

Tues. 11: Pork paprikas

Wed. 12: Tandoori Chicken, hash-brown casserole

Thurs. 13: spaghetti

Fri. 14: Rainbow Stir-fry

Sat. 15: Sausage & Pepper sandwiches

Sun. 16: leftovers

Mon. 17: spaghetti

Tues. 18: Beef Paysanne with noodles

Wed. 19: Leftovers

Thurs. 20: Chicken Swiss melt with rice

Fri. 21: lobster rolls

Sat. 22: family party (I don't have to cook!)

Sun. 23: Barb's Italian Chicken with pasta, green salad

Mon. 24: Sandwiches at BIL's

Tues. 25: Chicken Parmesan

Wed. 26: Sandwiches at MIL's

Thurs. 27: Sandwiches at BIL's

Fri. 28: Roast chicken, spinach, baked potatoes

Sat. 29: Barbecued chicken, Crab fries, broccoli

Sun. 30: Chicken Fajita Soup

Mon. 31: Pork chops in lemon juice and herb marinade, salt potatoes, vegetables

Friday, August 07, 2009

Tilapia with White Wine and Tomatoes

If you have an abundance of tomatoes, try them in this tilapia dish! You can substitute chopped grape tomatoes, cherry tomatoes or plum tomatoes as long as you have about a cup of chopped tomato.


olive oil for the pan
6 tilapia fillets
1 Jersey tomato, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 small Vidalia onion, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 basil leaves, sliced in thin strips
3 sprigs fresh oregano
1/2 cup white wine
6 sprigs fresh Italian parsley

Preheat oven to 400. Brush the bottom of a casserole dish with olive oil. Place fish into the casserole dish. Season with salt and pepper. Add tomato and onion, then season with basil and oregano. Dot with butter. Pour wine over all. Cover and bake 20 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley before serving.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

A Contest!

If you'd like a chance to win the church cookbook I picked up on vacation, just pop over to my SFO Mom blog and find out how to enter. Bonus entries are also available! Contest ends Friday, August 7 at NOON Eastern.

(I disabled comments on this post. If you want to enter the contest, you have to follow the link above. Thanks!)


It's been so long since I've posted here, it looks like my vacation was a lot longer. I have no idea what we ate for dinner in July. From the looks of things, nothing exciting!

We took a cruise to eastern Canada last week. So I didn't have to cook on vacation, but I sure did get to eat. Here are some of the fabulous meals I enjoyed.

MONDAY: shrimp cocktail, pan-seared tilapia with green pea fondue, vichy carrots, mac & cheese, creme brulee for dessert

TUESDAY: shrimp cocktail, lobster tail and broiled shrimp, mashed Yukon Gold potatoes, roasted broccoli

WEDNESDAY LUNCH: grilled mahi mahi with pico de gallo, cornbread, shredded carrots with raspberry vinaigrette

WEDNESDAY: shrimp cocktail, rack of lamb, carrot and turnip puree, lime sherbet for dessert

THURSDAY: chicken noodle soup, vegetarian lasagna, apple pie for dessert

FRIDAY: crab cake, fried jumbo shrimp with panko crust, curly fries, cappuccino pie for dessert

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Rainbow Stir Fry

From a Michele Urvater cookbook, The Monday to Friday Cookbook. This is one of the first cookbooks we had when we got married and the recipes give a lot of variations--kind of like what Rachael Ray does. Using this cookbook gave me confidence in the kitchen. This dish is really delicious and very fresh-tasting.

I don't make this recipe exactly as the author wrote it, so here is what I did:

RAINBOW STIR FRY (4 servings)
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 bell peppers, cut in chunks (get different colors if possible, it makes the dish look prettier!)
1/2 cup frozen peas (don't need to thaw)
1 small-to-medium onion, chopped
1 tbl minced garlic
2 tbl lemon juice
olive oil for the pan

Heat the oil in the pan and stir-fry the peppers, peas and onion for about 4 minutes. Add garlic and lemon juice and cook 2 more minutes. Add shrimp, stir-frying until the shrimp is cooked. Salt to taste and serve over rice.

This recipe cooks quickly, so start the rice before you put anything in the pan! If you have it all chopped ahead of time, you're probably looking at about 10 minutes total cook time.

Next time I make this I will need to enlarge the recipe: 1 1/2 lb. shrimp, 3 peppers and 1 medium onion. A little more garlic and lemon as well.

NOTE: Instead of frozen peas, snow pea pods are great in this recipe. About a cup of washed, trimmed fresh snow pea pods are all you need.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Leftover Magic!

I'm not "anti-leftovers" but I do think that disguising them is the way to go. When we eat leftovers, they are rarely in the same form as the original meal.

Here are some recipes I use when I have leftovers.

Mashed potato cakes
Fried rice and Frugal Leftover Fried Rice

Beef paysanne
Enchiladas. This is a great way to use up leftover pot roast or roast beef--pour some canned enchilada sauce into a casserole dish, mix some sauce with shredded cooked beef, chopped onions and cheese, roll up enchiladas, and top with more sauce and cheese. Cover and bake at 350 for 20 minutes.
Beef Burgundy Stroganoff
Chili (great way to use up cooked hamburgers!)

Turkey stock
Turkey or chicken paprikas
Cousin Sharon's Chicken & Biscuit Stew
Chicken & Dumplings
Chicken Fajita Soup
Grandpa's Dark Meat Chicken
Pot Pie
Chicken Chili Blanco
Chicken & Noodle Casserole
Chicken Divan
Scarborough Fair Chicken Soup (I made stock with the turkey carcass, so this would be a great way to use it!)
Crescent Casserole
Lo Mein (also works with pork, and--BONUS--uses up the leftover spaghetti!)

Pulled pork sandwiches (also works with chicken)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Breezie's Legendary Clam Chowder

This is some good soup! Great meatless meal, if you leave out the bacon, but it might just be too indulgent for Lent. The original recipe is from a church cookbook from the St. Francis Chapel & City Ministry in Providence, RI. My brother (Breezie) gave me a few hints on tweaking the recipe and I added a touch of my own as well. So this is how I made it. Next time, I'll probably leave out the bacon.

1/4 lb. bacon (4 or 5 slices), diced
6 ribs celery, cut thin
2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
2 TBL butter
1 qt chicken stock
black pepper to taste
1/2 tsp thyme
5 or 6 potatoes, diced (I didn't peel them before dicing, just washed them well)
3 cans (6.5 oz each) minced clams, drained, juice reserved
1 package Louis Kemp "crab," sliced
1 stick butter
6 TBL flour
1 qt milk
3 TBL cornstarch
1/4 cup ice water

Dice and blanch bacon in 2 cups boiling water for about 2 minutes.

Saute celery & onions in 2 TBL butter for 10 minutes over medium heat. Don't allow to brown.

In large soup pot, add bacon, celery & onions to chicken stock. Add clam juice, pepper and thyme. Bring to a heavy simmer. Add potatoes and simmer until the potatoes are cooked but still firm.

Melt the stick of butter and blend with flour. Add this roux to 1 qt. hot milk, off the heat. Stir and return to the burner, stirring until thickened to make a bechamel sauce. Add drained clams and the bechamel to the soup. Stir and simmer 10 minutes.

Make a slurry with the cornstarch and ice water and add to the soup. Bring to a boil and stir until soup thickens. Lower the heat and simmer until ready to serve.

Yield: 4 1/2 quarts of soup.

Thrifty Thursday: Fajitas

This is my husband's favorite "planned-leftover" meal. Next time you grill steak or chicken, make extra and save it for this easy weekday dinner.

Thrifty is planning leftovers AND using a single skillet to cook everything!

And if you're not a fajita fan, skip the vegetables, cook the meat with the sauce and then use some tortillas and cheese to make some delicious quesadillas.

1 large sweet onion, sliced
2 bell peppers (any color you like), sliced
2 TBL olive oil
1 1/2 cups very thinly sliced leftover grilled steak or chicken
1 TBL black pepper
3 TBL soy sauce
1 TBL minced garlic
1/3 cup salsa

Saute the onion and peppers in a heavy skillet until they are still crispy, but beginning to soften. Remove to a plate. In the same skillet, add the remaining ingredients. Cook until everything is hot and the meat is coated with the sauce. Return vegetables to the skillet and cook 2 minutes more. Serve with warm tortillas.

Visit Thrifty Thursdays for more thrifty tips!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Menu Plan: June 7-27

Oh my goodness, has it been this long?

SUN 7: Grilled London broil, roasted potatoes with Old Bay seasoning, green beans

MON 8: Homemade pizza

TUES 9: Lemon & Garlic chicken drumsticks, broccoli, Stove Top stuffing

WED 10: Tacos. I saw a hint on Family Corner to use tomato juice in place of water when making tacos. Not having any tomato juice on hand, I used a can of tomato sauce and it worked great.

THURS 11: Spaghetti with sausage

FRI 12: Cub Scout picnic

SAT 13: The Big Kids both had parties to attend so we took Little Brother to Chili's

SUN 14: Steak on the grill, orzo with garlic and onions, mixed vegetables

MON 15: Balsamic chicken with onions, linguine aglio olio

TUES 16: takeout

WED 17: Chili

THURS 18: Spaghetti & meatballs

FRI 19: Went to a diner

SAT 20: Spaghetti at Mom & Dad's

SUN 21: Chicken parm at Mom & Pop's

MON 22: Chicken Swiss Melt, rice, mixed vegetables

TUES 23: Breezie's Legendary Clam Chowder, crusty bread, salad

WED 24: Fajitas/quesadillas with leftover steak

THURS 25: Ravioli with meatballs

FRI 26: Flounder

SAT 27: hot dogs, beans

Friday, June 05, 2009

Cooking with Alicia & Annie: Light & Fluffy Waffles

These waffles are definitely light and fluffy. They were easy to make, too, and very tasty. We're having these again.

The recipe came from Alicia's Recipes.

2 c. flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. sugar
3 eggs, separated
1 3/4 c. milk
1/3 c. oil

Mix dry ingredients. Combine egg yolks, milk and oil. Add to dry ingredients. Beat egg whites to stiff peaks; fold in. Cook on preheated iron.

On my waffle iron, they took 4 minutes. This recipe made 18 waffles.

This post is an entry in the Cooking with Alicia & Annie blog event.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Lunchtime Tuna Mac

Finding packable lunch dishes that Middle Sister is willing to eat has become a real challenge. I hope I've found a winner with this one.

This was a truly frugal dish--all the vegetables were already in the fridge, left over from other meals. We used up the last of the mayo in the jar, and the pasta was left over from dinner. This way, nothing got wasted.


1 can chunk light tuna, mixed with 1 TBL mayonnaise
1 1/2 cups cooked pasta (I used mini fusilli)
2 or 3 TBL mayonnaise
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 TBL milk
1 baby carrot, minced
3 bell pepper strips, minced
1 tbl onion, minced (NOT dry minced onion)

Mix it all together and refrigerate overnight. I divided it into 2 lunch portions immediately, so the morning lunchbag packing will be really easy.

Crab Fries

Last night at a minor-league baseball game, I tried Chickie & Pete's Crab Fries for the first time. We ALL liked them (spicy but addictive!) so I knew I needed to figure out a way to do them at home. I found a few recipes on various websites and cobbled together the best ideas from this one and that one. Here's what we'll be trying on Tuesday.

Fast-Food style fries
1 TBL Light Olive Oil
1 tsp Paprika
1/2 tsp Oregano, ground
1/2 tsp Basil
1 tsp Salt
1 TBL Old Bay Seasoning
1/4 tsp Pepper, black

Preheat oven to 450. Cover baking sheet with foil and brush with olive oil.
Mix all dry ingredients.
Drizzle potatoes with olive oil, sprinkle seasoning over potatoes and mix to coat. (This is going to be messy, I can tell!)
Cook as directed on package.

UPDATE: These were great! I changed up the directions a little and omitted an ingredient. What you see above is what I did and we were all happy with the result.

Menu Plan week of May 31, 2009

HA! I'm back on track and getting this done on SUNDAY!

SUNDAY: Grilled chicken drumsticks, baked potatoes (yam for me) and green salad

MONDAY: Hawaiian Chicken with pineapple, jasmine rice, green beans

TUESDAY: Honey Pork Chops (I'm trying this recipe) with Crab Fries.

WEDNESDAY: Spaghetti. I know, not our usual day. But we need a fast "before the baseball game" dinner.

THURSDAY: Chicken & dumplings, Cracker-Barrel style.

FRIDAY: Baked flounder

SATURDAY: We'll be celebrating our niece's graduation, so no cooking will be done here.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Menu Plan Week of May 24, 2009

SUNDAY: Steak fajitas, macaroni salad, vegetable platter

MONDAY: Pork souvlaki, roasted potatoes & carrots

TUESDAY: Cajun Chicken Strips, tater tots, green beans

WEDNESDAY: Pizza (1 Barbecue Chicken, 1 regular) and salad

THURSDAY: Spaghetti and salad

FRIDAY: Salmon

SATURDAY: Something on the grill, I think....

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Menu Plan Week of May 17, 2009

Once again, I'm way behind. I have been writing my plan in my fabulous planner, so I do know what we're eating...

SUNDAY: Mexican steak, rice pilaf, mixed vegetables

MONDAY: Beef paysanne, noodles

TUESDAY: Chicken piccata, red potatoes with butter and parsley


THURSDAY: Spaghetti


SATURDAY: burgers, hot dogs, sausage & peppers, macaroni salad, Dr. Pepper Baked Beans, vegetable platter

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Home Cookin' MY mom and grandmoms never used to make. You see, we're Yankees.

If you're a Yankee like me who is smitten with the Mitford series by Jan Karon, you might enjoy the Mitford Cookbook, which my mom found today at Borders bookstore, marked down to $3.99! This is a $30 cookbook, folks!

The actual title is Jan Karon's Mitford Cookbook & Kitchen Reader. It's got recipes (4 for cornbread alone!) and little excerpts from books. The recipes are organized by which Mitford novel mentions them, and there's a handy index in the back if you want to find your recipes some other way.

This is a reader's cookbook, not just a book of formulas. There are tips, stories of Karon's own family traditions, and more.

I'll be savoring this one.

Honey Mustard Chicken

Get the recipe with nutrition information at Cook and Count!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

German Style Chicken

This German Style Chicken recipe was a lot like a pot pie. My big kids liked it a lot.

The recipe calls for a 2-qt dish but it was REALLY full and hard to serve without making a big mess. I will use a 9X13 next time I make this.

I added 2 cups of frozen mixed vegetables so I could have a one-pot meal. I also left off the Parmesan cheese topping, though next time I might add the cheese in with the sauce.

Here's the recipe with my changes:

1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 cup chicken broth
1-1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
8 oz egg noodles, cooked & drained (I used mini bow ties)
3 cup chicken; cooked & diced
2 cups frozen mixed vegetables

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Melt butter in large saucepan over medium low heat. Whisk in flour and cook, stirring constantly stir 3 minutes. Gradually whisk in broth and milk. Reduce heat, simmering until thick, about 10 minutes. Blend in lemon juice and seasonings. Combine cooked noodles, vegetables and half the sauce, tossing gently to blend. Place in the bottom of a buttered 9X13 casserole. Top with chicken and remaining sauce. Bake until bubbling and golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Menu Plan Week of May 10, 2009

SUNDAY: burgers and hot dogs at my in-laws'

MONDAY: Dr. Pepper Roast Pork, alfredo noodles, vegetables

TUESDAY: German Style Chicken

WEDNESDAY: Pulled pork sandwiches (using the leftovers from Monday)

THURSDAY: Pot roast, noodles, gravy, vegetables

FRIDAY: Spaghetti

SATURDAY: Honey Mustard Chicken, roasted potatoes & sweet potatoes, vegetables

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Buttermilk Baked Chicken and Baked Potato Wedges

Two great tastes that go great together! And they bake at the same temperature (for the same time, if you use BIG pieces of chicken) so it makes dinner prep really easy.

Both these recipes came from Alicia's Recipes. I'm copying them below and in the case of the chicken, including the changes I made.

Buttermilk Baked Chicken
vegetable oil for baking sheet
1 1/2 cups seasoned bread crumbs
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
salt and pepper
4 pounds chicken parts, rinsed and patted dry

Preheat oven to 400F. Generously rub a baking sheet with oil. In a large bowl, stir together the buttermilk, hot pepper sauce, salt and pepper. Place the chicken in the buttermilk mixture, turning to coat evenly. Working with one piece at a time, remove chicken from liquid, letting excess drip back into bowl; dredge in the bread crumb mixture, turning to coat evenly. Place coated chicken pieces on prepared baking sheet. Bake until chicken is golden brown, about 35 to 50 minutes (depending on the size of the pieces). Leave enough space between the chicken pieces so that they crisp evenly all the way around. Serves 8.

Baked Potato Wedges
3-4 med. potatoes
2-3 tbsp. melted butter
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
4 dashes parsley
Salt and pepper

Scrub potatoes. Do not peel. Cut each potato lengthwise in quarters. Stir together melted butter, garlic powder and parsley. Arrange potatoes skin side down on a shallow baking pan. Brush seasoned butter over cut surfaces of potatoes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake, uncovered, at 400 degrees for about 1 hour or until golden brown and tender when pierced.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Menu Plan for May 3 through 9, 2009


MONDAY: Chicken Parmesan Bake and Italian Bread

TUESDAY: Buttermilk Baked Chicken and Baked Potato Wedges with mixed vegetables (entering the Alicia and Annie recipe contest!)

WEDNESDAY: "Homemade hamburger helper" with corn

THURSDAY: Spaghetti and meatballs

FRIDAY: Um, something meatless!

SATURDAY: Another First Communion party

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Menu Plan for Last Week, April 26 - May 2

SUNDAY: Barbecued chicken on the grill, pasta salad

MONDAY: tacos (used canned tomato sauce instead of water in the tacos. It really tasted good!)

TUESDAY: Hawaiian chicken, rice, vegetables

WEDNESDAY: spaghetti

THURSDAY: Chicken Enchilada Soup

FRIDAY: Sports banquet at the kids' school

SATURDAY: we attended a First Communion party

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Pushing It?

This afternoon I stopped at Dunkin' Donuts for the 50-cent iced coffee they were offering today (one per customer, please.)

While I was waiting for my coffee and the "new" Cinnamon Twist pastry I couldn't resist (it was REALLY GOOD too) a young man came in and asked the other server for two fifty-cent iced coffees. He was kind of bouncing up and down while he asked, which I thought was a little odd.

The server informed him politely that the offer was one per customer, and then it got a little nasty. The young man rudely told the server that he had been in several other Dunkin' Donuts today and ordered two coffees in each place with no problem. Then he said, "Fine. I'll just get one, go outside, come back in and get the other one."

I think the guy needs to switch to decaf. Clearly he has had at least 4 iced coffees already today if he's been in more than one other store today. He was bouncing up and down and getting a little aggressive.

And I think it's kind of unfair of him to expect more than one of the deal. If my daughter had wanted a coffee too, I'd have made her come into the store and get her own. But maybe that's just me. So what do you think? Is it rude to ask for more than one of a "one per customer" deal when there's only one customer? I think there's frugal, and then there's crossing a line.

Breakfast Strata

10 slices stale bread, cubed
10 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese
1 cup cooked ham, cubed
8 eggs
2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon minced onion

Grease 9X13X2 glass baking dish. Cube half the cheese and shred the rest. Place bread, cubed cheese, meat and any vegetables into dish. Beat eggs, milk, seasoning. Pour over top of bread mixture.
Top with shredded cheese. Sprinkle with paprika. Refrigerate overnight.
Remove one hour before baking, and allow to come to room temperature.
Bake 45 minutes at 375. It will puff up! Allow to stand 8 to 10 minutes before serving.
Makes 8 to 10 servings.
**ANY COMBINATION of meats and vegetables may be used. However, if you use sausage in the strata, it tends to turn out greasy.

Recipe source: My friend Kathy

Menu Plan for Easter week and April 19-25

Yeah, I'm super late, so this will contain 2 weeks at a time.

EASTER SUNDAY: ham dinner at my brother-in-law's

EASTER MONDAY: Chicken parmesan bake (I made this one up as I went along and we really liked it. Except for Little Brother, who is in an anti-casserole phase. It had BETTER be a phase.)

TUESDAY: Boiled ham, cabbage, and homemade mac & cheese

WEDNESDAY: Dinner at my parents' house (pork roast, turkey london broil, noodles & gravy, vegetables)


FRIDAY: Spaghetti

SATURDAY: we were invited to our friends' house for grilled roast beef, sour cream & onion mashed potatoes, broccoli with homemade cheese sauce and caramelized carrots

SUNDAY: we went to Chili's

MONDAY: Ham & cheese strata

TUESDAY: Chicken piccata, rice, mixed vegetables

WEDNESDAY: I'm leaning toward Taco Skillet but that could's Prom night for Big Brother so he won't be eating, and we're all running in different directions.

THURSDAY: spaghetti

FRIDAY: homemade calzones with marinara sauce for dipping

SATURDAY: Mexican steak

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Chicken Parmesan Bake

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in 1-inch chunks
1 TBL olive oil
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/2 LB pasta, cooked and drained
2 cups marinara sauce (reserve 1/2 cup)
1 cup mozzarella, shredded (reserve 1/2 cup)
2 tsp Italian seasoning (or 1 tsp each basil and oregano)

Season chicken chunks with onion and garlic powder and saute in olive oil until brown on both sides.
Mix cooked pasta with chicken, 1 1/2 cups sauce, and 1/2 cup cheese in greased casserole dish.
Top with remaining sauce, then cheese and Italian seasoning.
Bake, covered, at 350 for 20 minutes, removing the lid for the last 5 minutes.
MAKE-AHEAD: Stop at the baking step. Bake 45 minutes from refrigerated.

Macaroni and Cheese

1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup flour
2 1/2 cups milk
3 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan
2 Tsp Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
1 lb pasta, cooked

In a sauce pan, melt butter and fry onion until soft. Add in flour and whisk until throughly blended. Add in the milk slowly, whisking as it is added. When the mixture bubbles and thickens slightly, remove from heat. Stir in 2 cups Cheddar, the Parmesan, mustard, and salt and pepper. Add Tabasco if desired. Stir until cheese is melted and then fold into the drained pasta. Top with remaining 1 cup Cheddar. Pour into a greased 9X13 pan. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

CMP Brownies!

These are absolutely awesome. A CMP is a chocolate-marshmallow-peanut ice cream sundae that was a local favorite in Scranton, where I went to college.

Get the recipe, photos and nutrition facts at Cook and Count!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Taste Test! Aunt Trudy's Fillo Pocket Sandwiches

I received an invitation to sample Aunt Trudy's Fillo Pocket Sandwiches, which are kind of like an upscale, organic, vegan Hot Pocket.

I tasted the Organic Mexicali Vegetable and 3-Bean Veggie Chili flavors. The pockets could be microwaved in the special packaging OR oven-baked. I chose to bake them rather than microwave. After baking according to directions (about 30 minutes), the pockets were still a little mushy in the middle but the filling was hot throughout.

I liked the fillo crust, and the vegetables inside tasted fresh. I preferred the Mexicali Vegetable to the 3-Bean Veggie Chili.

Here's their press release:
Aunt Trudy's Fillo Pocket Sandwiches Chosen by Good Housekeeping
Wins Two Spots on "100 Healthiest Convenience Foods" List for 2009

Dumont, NJ , March 24, 2009 - After 9 months of taste-testing and analyzing over 1,000 products, Good Housekeeping uncovered the top "100 Healthiest Convenience Foods", helping its 26 million readers live better lifestyles. Taking not one, but TWO of the coveted spots on the list is Aunt Trudy's, by The Fillo Factory, with a pair of their most popular Fillo Pocket Sandwich selections.

Aunt Trudy's Roasted Vegetable Fillo Pocket Sandwich, 240 calories, offers an array of organic veggies delicately wrapped in a light, flaky crust. The 3 Bean Veggie Chili Fillo Pocket Sandwich, 260 calories, is full of zest and a vegan favorite.

Made in the U.S. from premium organic ingredients, the gourmet meals are
microwavable and ready to eat in under ten minutes. Loaded with flavor, it's easy to
forget these tasty treats are so healthy; trans fat free and containing no preservatives. The suggested retail price is $2.89. Visit Aunt Trudy's for retail store availability.

The intense process of narrowing down the top choices started with Good Housekeeping
Research Institute nutritionists searching supermarket shelves and food trade shows for potential candidates. Next, ingredients were analyzed and labels inspected for vitamins, minerals, and proteins. Finally, dozens of volunteers, ages 5 to 85, taste tested each product.

"It's an honor to be selected by such a well respected publication," stated Ron Rexroth, CEO of The Fillo Factory. "Aunt Trudy's will continue to create products that Good Housekeeping's readers will enjoy for years to come."

I saw these mentioned in a back issue of Good Housekeeping. Some of the available flavors intrigued me, like the spinach and feta one. I love spanakopita and think that with the fresh ingredients used in these sandwiches, it would have to be good. If I happen to find this product in my local supermarket, I will try the spinach and feta flavor.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Granma's Rolls

2 ¼ cup milk
2 tbl sugar
1 tbl vegetable shortening (Crisco) NOT butter flavor
2 tsp salt
5 to 6 cups flour
1 tbl yeast (if you get it in packets, 1 packet)

Heat first 4 ingredients until melted. Allow to cool until it is "baby-bottle warm." Stir in yeast and flour. Rise dough until double. Shape into rolls. Place on heavy floured pan. Rise until double. Bake 12 to 15 min at 350.

Rising hint: Put the dough in the microwave. DO NOT TURN IT ON. Leave it 1 hour or so. No drafts! It works great.

Menu Plan April 5 - April 11

SUNDAY: Turkey Gyros

MONDAY: Barb's Italian Chicken over mini penne

TUESDAY: Pork roast with honey-mustard glaze, roasted potatoes

WEDNESDAY: Tilapia, rice, vegetables (we never ate that tilapia last week!)

THURSDAY: Spaghetti (what else?)

FRIDAY: Our church hosts a "soup and bread dinner" after Good Friday liturgy.

SATURDAY: Undecided on that one just now!

Barb's Italian Chicken

This is a great busy-day dinner. You can start it ahead of time and turn it off if you have to do a Mom's Taxi run in the middle of dinner prep. Just leave the lid on, and turn it back on to simmer when you return. (I wouldn't leave this or anything with meat in it for more than 15 minutes, in the interest of food safety.)

Barb's Italian Chicken

3/4 pound boneless-skinless chicken breast, in 1-inch chunks
1 TBL olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 TBL minced garlic
1/4 cup red wine
1 28-oz can plum tomatoes (or diced if you prefer), with the juice
1 tsp EACH basil and oregano
1/2 tsp salt
pinch of crushed red pepper
1 cup sliced mushrooms

Saute the onion and garlic in olive oil for a couple of minutes. Add chicken and cook 2 minutes per side. Pour in wine and allow to cook down. Add remaining ingredients, turn down to simmer, and cover. Cook 30 to 45 minutes to let the flavors mingle. Serve over your favorite pasta.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Three for Three!

I don't usually put my family through 3 new recipes in a row like this, but I was just in the mood to try some new things this weekend.

On Friday, I veered off last week's menu plan and made Tami's Pizza Rollups, using my homemade sauce and Barbara's pizza crust recipe.

Saturday, we tried 20-Clove-of-Garlic Chicken. It smelled delicious and tasted good too.

And tonight I made Turkey Gyros. Fabulous!

Turkey Gyros

This is my take on a Rachael Ray recipe. That link is to the original. My recipe is below. With enough pitas, this would have been enough to feed 8 people. I wound up freezing the extra meat.

For the meat:
* 1 (10-ounce) package frozen spinach, thawed
* 1 pound ground turkey
* 1 tablespoon grill seasoning
* 2 teaspoons ground cumin
* 1 tablespoon chili powder
* 1 tablespoon coriander
* 1 teaspoon dried oregano
* 2 pinches ground cinnamon
* 1/2 cup feta crumbles
* 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

For the sauce:
* 1 cup Greek yogurt
* 1 small clove garlic, grated
* 1/2 tsp cumin
* 1/4 cucumber, peeled and grated
* 1 lemon, juiced (1 to 2 tbl lemon juice)

And the rest:
* a handful of grape tomatoes, halved
* 1/2 cucumber, thinly sliced
* 8 pita breads

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Place turkey in a bowl. Add grill seasoning, cumin, chili powder, coriander, oregano, cinnamon and feta crumbles. Wring the spinach dry in a paper towel and add to meat. Mix the meat and form a long 3-inch roll on a baking sheet. Coat with extra-virgin olive oil and bake 30 minutes. Use a meat thermometer to verify doneness.

Mix yogurt, a grated clove of garlic, cucumber, the juice of 1 lemon and 1/2 teaspoon cumin. Slice and reserve the tomatoes and cucumbers.

Soften pita (wrap in foil and place in oven for a few minutes).

Slice meat loaf into 1/4-inch slices. Spread sauce on pitas and top with 2 slices of meat, tomatoes, and cucumbers.

This tastes JUST like the gyros I used to get at the mall during college. Delicious and filling.

I think that the meat can be mixed ahead and just ready to bake, or even baked ahead and warmed later. The yogurt sauce is best chilled, so definitely make that ahead if possible. If I had the meat baked ahead, this would be a great "Saturday night after church" meal, or a good go-to meal during the week when I need dinner to be quick and easy.

Middle Sister didn't like it but otherwise it got good reviews. Little Brother just ate the meat and had his vegetables on the side. No sauce. That was fine with me.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Menu Plan March 29-April 4

As usual these days, I am oh so late!

SUNDAY: Roast chicken, boiled red potatoes, broccoli


TUESDAY: Beef Paysanne, noodles, fresh cucumbers

WEDNESDAY: I have the flu. TheDad was out of town. The kids made boxed mac & cheese, stuffed their faces and cleaned up after. Thanks, kids!

THURSDAY: Spaghetti

FRIDAY: Baked tilapia, rice, vegetable

SATURDAY: My choir has the 5:00 Mass and since this weekend is Palm Sunday, it's sure to be crowded and longer than usual. I'm trying a new recipe for 20-clove-of-garlic chicken since it's quick prep. On the side, Alfredo noodles (thanks, Knorr mix) and green beans.

Thrifty Thursday: Sesame Seed Buns (bread machine)

For today's Thrifty Thursday (hosted at Amanda's Cookin') I'm contributing my own recipe for sesame seed buns. I tweaked a cookbook recipe and came up with a way to make rolls for sandwiches and dinner rolls, all in one. This way, sandwich rolls are always fresh because I'm only making 2 days' worth--at the most--at a time. The rest of the rolls are made into dinner rolls which we eat that day. No more moldy sandwich rolls by Friday!

Barb’s Sesame Seed Buns

1 cup milk
2 tbl softened butter OR olive oil (I've tried this both ways and they both work)
1 tbl sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 cups bread flour
3 tbl vital gluten
1 tbl yeast

For egg wash:
1 egg
1 tbl sesame seeds (or more)

Use dough cycle. At the end of the cycle, remove from the pan and place on floured board and punch down. Cover with a clean dish towel for 20 minutes.
Divide and roll into balls. Place dough balls on oiled cookie sheet. Cover
with the towel and allow to rise about 1 hour. Beat egg and brush over
rolls. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake 15 minutes at 375. Cool on a wire rack.

This recipe makes 6 sandwich rolls or 12 dinner rolls. Bake time is the same either way.

These rolls have been given the "Big Brother thumbs-up" for lunchbox sandwiches. He thinks he's lucky to get homemade rolls for his lunches. I'm happy to be saving money--supermarket rolls are SO pricey!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Mashed Potato Cakes

I cobbled together a few recipes, a little of this and a little of that, and ended up with something pretty good!!


3 cups leftover mashed potatoes
1 egg
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded (I used a Cheddar-Jack mix)
salt and pepper to taste (about a teaspoon of each)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
oil for the griddle

I used a 2-burner griddle to make this go faster. This recipe made about 15 potato cakes.

Mix potatoes, egg, cheese and seasonings (not bread crumbs) in a large bowl. Form into patties and dredge in the bread crumbs. They don't have to be completely coated. Fry on a heated, oiled griddle until brown on both sides. Keep warm in the oven until all the cakes are done.

Note:  these are even better when you use a good sharp Cheddar. They're not the prettiest side dish in the world, but they're very tasty.

Menu Plan for the week of March 22, 2009

SUNDAY: Grilled chicken, mashed potato cakes, mixed vegetables

MONDAY: Ranch-breaded chicken, corn, mac & cheese

TUESDAY: Maple-mustard pork ribs in the slow cooker (a new recipe. Not so great.)

WEDNESDAY: Chicken enchilada soup, salad (that was some REALLY good soup!)

THURSDAY: Chick-Fil-A (yeah, I got lazy)

FRIDAY: baked tilapia, wild rice, salad

SATURDAY: spaghetti

Sunday, March 22, 2009

We have more common sense than magazines think

I was flipping through an old issue of All You magazine and found a recipe for side-dish potatoes that I thought I might try.

I had to love the "kitchen tips" that went along with the recipe, though.
Work in advance. You can make the potatoes through step 2 up to a day ahead (don't preheat the oven). Cover and refrigerate the potatoes. The day of the party, pipe and bake the potatoes, allowing an extra 5 minutes of baking time.

Did they honestly think that they had to warn someone not to preheat the oven if you were preparing this recipe ahead of time? How clueless do they think their readers are?

I can't decide if I should be insulted, or if I should laugh at how clueless the recipe editor was.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Menu Plan: the 2-week-at-a-time version

Here's what we ate for dinner last week.

MON 9: turkey pot pie

TUES 10: tacos

WED 11: turkey chili blanco

THURS 12: spaghetti & meatballs

FRI 13: pizza (takeout)

SAT 14: family reunion at my sister's house; I brought vegetable platters & cole slaw

SUN 15: Spanish Garlic shrimp, rice

MON 16: chicken lo mein (was supposed to be something else, but 2 of Big Brother's friends were still here so I needed something I could expand!)

TUES 17: pot roast, noodles, gravy, vegetables

WED 18: New England Boiled Dinner because I refuse to serve corned beef on St. Patrick's Day just out of spite. It's not an Irish meal!

THURS 19: spaghetti

FRI 20: I want to try this meatless paella

SAT 21: Spaghetti Dinner at our church

Friday, March 13, 2009

"Almost Like Cracker Barrel" Sourdough Bread

My latest effort in sourdough breadmaking is enough like Cracker Barrel's bread that I won't need to buy theirs anymore.

This is a bread machine recipe.

About 8 hours before you want to bake, take your starter out of the refrigerator and toss a pinch of sugar in there, and then stir. Cover loosely. Stir the starter again just before using it.

Put in your bread machine pan:

1/2 cup warm water
1 cup starter
2 1/2 TBL oil (I use light olive oil)
1 tsp salt
2 TBL sugar
3 cups flour

Use the dough cycle. Shape the dough and place in an oiled loaf pan. Allow to rise at least 2 hours.

Bake at 375 for 35 minutes.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Thrifty Thursday: Turkey Stock!

Thrifty Thursday is hosted at Amanda's Cookin' each week!

I made a turkey dinner on Saturday for my younger son's birthday. After I carved the turkey, I let the carcass cool off, then broke it apart. You can do this with your hands once the carcass gets cool. Then I saved it in a covered pot in the refrigerator.

Today I took all of those pieces and put them into the strainer insert for a 12-quart pasta pot (it's like a colander, but cylindrical). I added a bag of "past their prime" baby carrots, a handful of parsley, and some salt and pepper. Then I filled the pot with water and simmered 4 hours.

After that it was easy enough to remove the strainer and I was left with over 8 quarts of fabulous turkey stock. Some of it went into the white chili we had for dinner, and the rest is for the freezer. (We used cubed leftover turkey in that chili instead of chicken. It tasted great.)

So here's my Thrifty Thursday tip: don't waste poultry bones when you can use them for stock!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Pokemon Cake

For Little Brother's birthday I made a Pokeball cake and cupcakes. These were really easy and required a minimum of decorating skill. That's good, because I was not feeling super-well, so I wasn't up to a big challenge.

You need:
3 cans frosting (one chocolate, 2 white)
2 cake mixes, prepared as directed
1 bag Valentine M&Ms (you need red and white M&Ms. Well, actually only white ones, unless you are using red to put numbers on some of the cakes like I did. You get to eat all the pink ones.) If you don't have white M&Ms, get some little gumdrops and use the white ones. Or white chocolate chips, upside-down, would work too.
Icing bag and frosting tip (I used a #3 tip, I think.)
1/2 bottle red food coloring (not those wimpy little vials that come in packs of 4. A BOTTLE.)

I baked 24 cupcakes, 1 9X13 and 1 "dome" in a small Pyrex dish. The batter for that came out of the 9X13 batch. I'm not the biggest fan of baking spray (usually I use solid shortening and flour for cakes) but I had a free can of Bakers Joy and this stuff was fabulous in the Pyrex.

The 9X13 was frosted in chocolate (Middle Sister did that part) and then I put the "dome" on top of that.

Then I mixed up my red frosting. Note: if tinting an entire can of frosting, use a mixing bowl. Don't try to mix it in the can. My table is still a little pink in spots. I did the whole can because there will be another party soon and this way I wouldn't have to mix colors again. I used half a bottle of red coloring for the whole can. The color WILL get more intense over time; when I finished mixing it, it still looked a bit pinkish. So does my thumb, come to think of it.

Put a little of the chocolate frosting into the icing bag for trimming out the Pokeballs.

ALMOST half of each cupcake, and half the dome, should be red. I left a little semicircle uncovered and then did that part in white. Next time I will do the white part and learn.

Trim it with the chocolate and then top with the white M&M.

Fancy birthday cakes on the cheap. My 7-year-old was thrilled.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Menu Plan for Last Week and a hint of what's coming up

Last week I forgot to do the menu plan. Here's what we ate.

SUNDAY: Red Lobster for my father-in-law's birthday

MONDAY: Pork paprikas.

TUESDAY: Taco mac & cheese. The mac part was great & everyone wants it as a standalone dish. I will post that recipe later.

WEDNESDAY: Chicken and dumplings.

THURSDAY: Hawaiian Chicken with pineapple.

FRIDAY: Cheese ravioli with marinara.

SATURDAY: Turkey dinner, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, Granma's rolls.

What's coming up!

SUNDAY it will just be the kids as we are going to a church dinner for the parish volunteers.

I have a good amount of leftover turkey including the carcass, so there will be turkey soup happening sometime this week--or at least turkey stock.

I need to make a big batch of spaghetti sauce this week. We are completely OUT of spaghetti sauce. (The horror!)

I had an unfortunate, inadvertent freezing-of-the-red-bell-peppers that should have been on the vegetable platter for today's dinner. They're sliced but no good for eating raw or stir-frying. They'll be fine for chili or something else like that. So I need to either figure out a way to cook them in something this week, or just freeze them until I think of what to make with them. Maybe they'll be good in the Crockpot Jambalaya recipe I found on Family Corner.

Unfortunately, cucumbers that have been inadvertently frozen are not good for anything, as far as I can tell. Ick. Ever try to peel a partially-frozen cuke? I don't recommend it.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Thrifty Thursday: March 5

Thrifty Thursday is hosted weekly at Amanda's Cookin'

Today's Thrifty Thursday tip is a turkey tip! Yes, I know it's not Thanksgiving, but my kids all love turkey, and I'll be making one this weekend.

You don't have to buy an expensive turkey to get a moist, juicy bird. Here's an easy way to get great results on the cheap. BUT it takes a little planning ahead, because the bird has to be completely thawed a whole day before you want to roast it.

1. Go to your nearest Big Box Home Improvement Store (orange or blue, doesn't matter) and buy a 5-gallon bucket with a lid. Wash it out.

2. Buy a store-brand frozen turkey. Nothing fancy needed.

3. Defrost the turkey.

4. Wash the turkey inside and out and make sure you remove all the giblets and other miscellaneous-in-a-bag that comes with the turkey.

5. Put the turkey in the 5-gallon bucket with the tips of the legs sticking up.

6. Sprinkle a cup of kosher (coarse) salt all over the turkey.

7. Pour water over the whole thing and keep adding water until the cavity is filled and there's plenty of water on the outside of the turkey too. Add lots of ice cubes, and cover.

8. Let this sit at least 8 hours or up to 24.

9. Remove directly to your roasting pan. Don't wash the turkey again. It was clean before you did the brining part.

10. Roast as usual!

Now if you want to get all complicated, Alton Brown does a brined turkey with lots of spices and stuff. But unless you have all of those in your house already, it's not a thrifty turkey. This way works just as well.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Thrifty Thursday: Mix in the Jar!

Here's a tip I learned on the Food Network show Quick Fix Meals.

When you're making a sauce or dressing, and the jar containing one of the ingredients is nearly empty, use that jar instead of a mixing bowl. Just put all the other ingredients into the jar, close the lid tightly and shake.

This also works if you use jarred soup bases to make broth. When the jar is almost empty, pour a cup of boiling water right into the jar. This way you won't waste a bit!

Thrifty Thursdays is featured at Amanda's Cookin' each week.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Menu Plan February 22 - 28, 2009

SUNDAY: Pork with Spanish rice, corn muffins

MONDAY: Beef paysanne with noodles, broccoli

TUESDAY: Honey mustard chicken, orzo with garlic and onions, mixed vegetables

WEDNESDAY: our traditional Ash Wednesday meal: grilled cheese sandwiches and clam chowder. Yikes, I just discovered that someone has been into the American cheese--I'll have to hit the supermarket tomorrow.

THURSDAY: Spaghetti

FRIDAY: Baked flounder, Alfredo noodles, green beans

SATURDAY: Takeout for the kids; TheDad and I are going to a Beef & Beer that supports a local charity. In my case, it will be a Beef & Soda!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Go Meatless!

Next week Lent begins, so it's time to start thinking about meatless meals.

I do try to serve a meatless meal on Fridays anyway, but in Lent it's non-negotiable.

The Faith & Family bloggers are compiling some Lenten menus. This roundup is my contribution. With the exception of ONE recipe that I have not yet tried, all of these are tried and true and a regular part of my family's dinner plan. Yes, my kids eat fish. Actually, they love fish. But not all of these are fish recipes, so if fish is not going to be on your table for whatever reason, you can still find plenty of options here.

Pasta with marinara sauce (add shrimp or scallops if you like)

Cheese ravioli with marinara sauce

Cheese-and-salsa quesadillas

Grilled cheese sandwiches with soup (tomato or clam chowder)

"Vegetarian Flips"--like a quesadilla, but add some refried beans and salsa

Baked fish

Teriyaki salmon (Easiest way EVER to make salmon!)

Spanish Garlic Shrimp


Veggie calzones (this is a recipe I intend to try soon. You can fill these with just about anything! I'm planning on peppers, onions, cheese and marinara.)

Saffron risotto with shrimp

Shrimp fried rice

Potato and cheese pierogi

Salmon burgers

Homemade macaroni and cheese

Arroz con habichuelas (great with quesadillas or tomato soup)

Pasta e fagioli (you can make this with vegetable stock instead of chicken broth!)

And there's always the "breakfast for dinner" option. French toast and fresh fruit make a nice change of pace.

Wishing you a blessed Lent!

Menu Plan week of February 15 - 21

On Valentine's Day we ate Chicken Divan, since we went to 5:00 Mass and there was no way I could make a roast.

SUNDAY: Belated Valentine's Day dinner: filet mignon roast, baked potato/yam, green beans.

MONDAY: Italian Veal Stew with linguine.

TUESDAY: Apricot-Glazed Pork Tenderloin, rice, mixed vegetables

WEDNESDAY: Cajun Chicken Strips, hashbrown casserole

THURSDAY: Spaghetti

FRIDAY: Eat on the road!

SATURDAY: dinner at my uncle's

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Cookbook Contest

The How To Cook Like Your Grandmother blog is hosting a contest! The prize: the ILLUSTRATED edition of the cookbook of the same name.

I have the non-illustrated edition and it's great. Adding pictures is the icing on the cake!

Go here to find out how to enter. Three lucky winners will receive a copy of the cookbook--well worth the purchase price, illustrated or not.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

More on the Sourdough

I made some more sourdough bread today. I did divide it into 2 loaves and after about 45 minutes they were already at the top of the bread pans. BUT then my husband wanted to go out to dinner (surprise!) and to leave NOW. So I put some oiled plastic wrap over the bread and slid the pans (carefully!) into the refrigerator and CROSSED MY FINGERS! 2 1/2 hours later, we came back and I took the pans out to warm up a bit while preheating the oven, and then baked as usual.

Did not get to experiment with any egg wash on the crust this time. The refrigeration does not seem to have done any damage to the finished bread.


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