Please Note

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

Posted in Bloggery

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.

Posted in Food, Recipe Box

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…

Posted in Food, Recipe Box

Strawberry Shortcake Cake

imagePreheat oven to 350º

Ingredients

  • 1 box white cake mix – bake as directed in a 9×13 pan
  • 1 – 8 oz package cream cheese, softened to room temp
  • 1/2 C powdered sugar
  • 1 – 8 oz container Cool Whip, thawed
  • 3 Cups strawberries (or more), sliced
  • 1/4 to 1/2 C sugar

Directions

Bake your cake.  Cool at least 1 hour.

Slice strawberries & coat well w/sugar.  Refrigerate until ready to eat.

Beat cream cheese & powdered sugar on medium speed until smooth.  Fold in Cool Whip.  Spread evenly over cake. Refrigerate until ready to eat.

Pour strawberries & the resulting strawberry juice over the entire cake OR serve the strawberries over each slice of cake w/ a wee bit of juice.

Alternates

  • Any berry or combination of berries would work wonderfully.  Add bananas for sheer yumminess or kiwi for eye candy.  A squirt of lime never hurt anything.
  • You can layer the cream cheese/powdered sugar with Cool Whip on the top.
  • If you want add’l topping, buy more Cool Whip.  (cool whip doesn’t pay me, haha)
  • Additional crunch on top would be good, too — crumbled graham crackers or shortbread type cookies, toasted pecans & coconut…
  • If you don’t want to macerate the strawberries in the sugar, a purchased strawberry glaze or some kind of jam could be mixed in with the sliced strawberries.
Posted in Food, Recipe Box | Tagged ,

Sausage & Sweet Potato Casserole

Warm and filling for a simple family meal during the cool nights of autumn.

Ingredients

1 pkg ground pork sausage – cooked and drained
2 medium sweet potatoes – peeled and sliced thin
3 granny smith apples – peeled, cored, and sliced

Assemble these together into a 9×13, lightly greased, baking dish

Sauce:
2 T sugar
1 T flour
1/4 t cinnamon
sprinkle of salt
1/2 C water
Mix together and pour over

Directions

Cover and bake @ 375º for about an hour.

I needed to make this a little larger because I feed teenage boys, so I:
Added another 1/2 pound of any ground meat.
Used large sweet potatoes
Added an extra apple
Doubled the sauce.
Baked for a full hour.

Notes

Serve with something green – steamed broccoli, roasted brussels sprouts, green beens…

Can also be a side dish, albeit a heavy side dish

Posted in Family | Tagged

Chili

So incredibly simple, its almost embarrassing.

Ingredients

1 to 1 1/2 lbs of ground beef

some onion – a tablespoon or a cup, however much you like

1 can petite diced tomatoes, do not drain

1 can red kidney beans, drained

1 can Bush’s Chili Magic, mild or medium – yes, it is MAGIC

*additional optional ingredients if you have them:

  • chopped bell pepper – add when you add the onion
  • freshly ground black pepper – add towards the end of cooking
  • some heat – Tony Chachere’s More Spice works well, but watch the saltiness
  • shredded cheddar cheese
  • Fritos – if you lean that way

Directions

Use a pot big enough for all the ingredients.  Brown the meat & onion and remove most of the fat. Dump in the canned ingredients.  Simmer awhile.

Notes –

-if you use 1 1/2 lbs of ground meat, you may want 2 cans of Chili Magic or at least another can of beans

-Chili Magic is not the same as Bush’s chili beans and sometimes it is hard to find in the grocery store.  I don’t know why its not always with the canned beans.

 

 

 

Posted in Family, Food, Recipe Box | Tagged