Please Note

No new blog posts, with the exception of additions to my recipe collection.  I’m done with all that. God Bless.

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Homemade Tomato Soup

4 C total of any combination of fresh or canned – whole or diced, I like fresh Roma + 1 can diced to equal about 4 or more cups
2 C V8 juice, low sodium
1 small to medium onion, diced
3 T butter
2 T flour
1/2-1t garlic powder
couple dashes of celery seed
1/2-1 t salt
1/2 t freshly ground pepper
2 T sugar, or less
1 C cream or half & half, preferably cream

You will need a blender, regular or immersion and a good size heavy pot.

Saute onion in the butter until soft on a medium low to medium heat. Add flour to make roux. Stir frequently at least 5 minutes to cook the flour. Don’t let it stick or brown too much.
Add tomatoes, V8, and herbs/spices. Simmer about 1/2 hr until the fresh tomatoes are cooked.
Puree using your blender.
Add sugar, stir well.
Add cream and bring soup back to a simmer, but do not allow it to boil. Taste and adjust spices if needed.

Add’l spices or flavors to add: finely chopped red bell pepper, pinch or two of any red pepper for some heat, 1/2 t basil or thyme. Can also garnish with fresh basil, shaved parmesan cheese, or chives.

Enjoy with your favorite grilled cheese, of course.
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Apples & Cranberries All Crumbled Up

So very good! Had this at Wildflower B&B in Mtn View, Arkansas and I have to say this was my favorite during our stay.

Gala Apples & Fresh Cranberries in a Crumble

4 C of apples, chopped, no need to peel (I used 4 medium size Gala)

2 C cranberries – fresh or frozen

1/2 C white sugar

*****

1/2 C regular oats

1/2 C brown sugar

1/3 flour

1/2 C pecans, rough chopped

1 stick butter – softened

couple pinches of kosher or pink salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 350º.

Spray a 9-10″ casserole dish.

Mix oats, brown sugar, flour and nuts. Mix in the softened butter with your hands, a pastry blender, fork, etc. Set aside.

Place apples & cranberries in the dish and sprinkle with the white sugar.

Crumble the oats mix over the fruit mix. Sprinkle with the salt.

Bake 45 minutes, uncovered.

Notes

Serve over ice cream for dessert or yogurt for breakfast. Also serves as a sweet side dish for a ham or poultry meal.

A hint about the cranberries…I have a terrible time finding cranberries from about mid January to mid November, so I recommend stocking up fresh cranberries in the freezer.

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Paprika Pork & Mushrooms

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How To Dress Up Convenience Foods

Let’s face it…we live a convenience-filled life. We are busy and as much as we’d love to sit and have a from-scratch meal with our beloveds, the time just isn’t there. Besides, save the “from scratch” for biscuits, pie crusts, and most proteins. (say no to chicken nuggies!) That doesn’t mean we have to eat plain ole food though. So plan to make the most out of canned & boxed foods…it is OK. Now grab those onions & bell peppers.

Baked Beans

2 cans of Bush’s Baked Beans (any flavor)

1/2 C each chopped green or any color pepper, onion

Add one or more of the following:

1/2 T molasses

1/4 – 1/3 C bbq sauce … just not ketchup! 

2 or more T salsa

1 t garlic powder

splash of apple cider vinegar or a bit of mustard

Bake awhile…350º x 30 minutes

Black Beans

2 cans of Black Beans – any kind

1/2 C each finely chopped green pepper, onion

1 t garlic powder

1/2 – 1 t cumin (1/2 t is enough for me)

couple dashes of thyme – optional

ONE dash of ground cloves – this is a must add

Serve w/ a small side of squash pickles (homemade or boughten)

Refried Beans – any kind will do

Add: salsa and cheese, the end.

Green Beans

1 slice bacon, uncooked

some onion (onion powder, dehydrated onion, fresh finely chopped onion)

black pepper, no salt

Cook until the bacon is done & the onions soft.

Spaghetti Sauce – Paul Newman’s Sockarooni or Marina. Yes, only that brand!

Add garlic and a wee bit more basil. Cook ground beef separately and mix it all together and simmer awhile. Highly recommend a small amount of ground Italian sausage…say half a package, at most.

Chili – Use the Magic.

Mac N Cheese – Homemade baked mac n cheese is in a class by itself and the Pioneer Woman’s is sublime. But we’re not home on the range, so buy that blue box on sale.

boxed Mac n Cheese – make with full fat milk and butter, don’t be skimpin’ just ‘cuz it comes from a box

add cheese, any cheese, but mostly cheddar and a slice or two of American

dry mustard – even the slightest bit helps

slightest dash of nutmeg

Ranch Dressing – Still have to mix up the dressing ‘cuz that bottled stuff is nasty.

1 package of Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing prepared as directed

1/2 t black pepper

1/2 t garlic powder, more or less, probably a little less

couple dashes of hot sauce – totally optional

Tuna Salad – Make it as you normally would but add about a tablespoon of frozen OJ.

Chicken Salad – You have to find a good brand, first off! Don’t get one with added grapes or nuts b/c you will add those yourself. It will taste so much fresher.

Add any or all of the following, but don’t get too carried away:

grapes, halved or quartered, or substitute pineapple, dried cranberries

artichokes – marinated or not, chopped into bite sizes

pecans or walnuts – chopped into bits

water chestnuts – chopped

black pepper, freshly ground

Potato Salad & Cole Slaw – Just kidding, there are no acceptable pre-made versions of these. The best you can do is buy the shredded cabbage in a bag for the slaw. Chop it up more and it will give you more flavor. And add garlic to the slaw…always.

Oatmeal – do not, Do NOT use instant. Ever. It is the reason people hate oatmeal. Save the instant oatmeal for No Bake Cookies! And do not, Do NOT cook it in the microwave. Ever. Cook the oatmeal slow and it won’t get that gummy texture. Substitute some milk for the water for a creamier oatmeal. Use water, alone, for a firmer, drier oatmeal.

The combinations are almost endless with cooked oatmeal, but basically you need a fruit, a fat, and maybe a crunch. These are my favorites:

•Blueberry – Add frozen berries at the beginning, when starting the water to boil. Add a bit of cream and lemon zest, if you have it.

•Banana Nut – Mash bananas and add to cooked oatmeal w/chopped pecans, maple syrup, cinnamon, and butter. Consider mini chocolate chips.

•Apple – Add a chopped apple, cinnamon, butter, maple syrup, maybe chopped walnuts

•Cookie Version – Add raisins during cooking, so they soften up a bit. Top with almond slivers and drizzle with honey.

•Candy Version – Add spoonful of peanut butter, mini chocolate chips, coconut

•The Best – butter, salt, lots of pepper. Don’t add another thing, it is already perfect.

Dollop of yogurt or whipped cream is always appropriate. Dollop.

Savory Oatmeal? Nah. Huh-uh.

Blueberry Sauce 

Frozen blueberries- cook down w/a small amount of water.

lemon juice – a tablespoon at most,

nutmeg, just a dash

Blackberries and raspberries, or any combination of, are great, too. Pour this sauce over everything! But mostly waffles. 

Dump Cakes – No list like this is complete without dump cakes and about the time I don’t want to see another one, I’m putting a big ole spoonful of that fruity cakey mess in my mouth. See here.

That’s it for now. My number 1 tip…always use butter. Never margarine. Maybe coconut oil, especially when making brownies.

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Mexican Chicken

Make this up anytime and use for chicken burritos (see below), tacos, a Mexican style lasagna, nachos… Or, leave the chicken pieces whole and just have that as your entree served over a big bed of rice or roasted veggies.

Ingredients

2 lbs chicken boneless, skinless breast &/or thighs

1 T olive oil

1/2 cup salsa (highly recommend Sadie’s hot)

3 T brown sugar – optional

1 – 4 oz can diced green chilies

1 can petite diced tomatoes

1 T chili powder

1 t each of cumin, garlic powder

1/2 t each of paprika, oregano, black pepper, salt

1 t to 1 T crushed red pepper

Additional heat if you like – hot sauce, more red pepper, chipotle, or chili powder

If you opt for a packaged seasoning mix, omit all the spices listed, especially the salt.

***For burritos, you’ll need large burrito size tortillas, shredded cheddar cheese, and a little more olive oil***

Directions

Combine all and cook with your preferred method. About 40 minutes on the stove top, 2-4 hours on high/8-10 hours on low in the crockpot.

When chicken is fully cooked through, shred it and return to cooking pot to absorb more liquid (about 20 minutes on very low heat)

You may drain the liquid and use it for cooking rice or beans, or use in a sauce to pour over your chicken. Consider adding some chicken broth and blenderize it for a simple sauce. Just don’t waste it! Save it for taco soup, later.

Chicken Burritos

Preheat oven to 400º

Line a baking sheet w/foil and place a rack over it.

Place 1/2 cup of chicken and some cheese in a large burrito tortilla. Wrap it up and put a little olive oil over the entire burrito. Place seam side down on the rack. Bake 18-20 minutes.

Serve smothered with a cheesey sauce, a red sauce or green sauce, plus toppings. Lots of toppings! More cheese, sour cream, olives, jalapeños, pineapple tidbits, cilantro…

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