Tuesday, December 30, 2008

North Woods Bean Soup

I apologize for slacking on this blog...but the Holiday season just got really busy and two blogs can be challenging.

I made this soup the other night and we thought it was really yummy. There is nothing better than a warm bowl of soup with crusty yummy bread on a lazy winter weeknight. The best part is...it is light. I got the original recipe here.

I kept the recipe pretty true with a few changes. So here is what I did.
Cooking spray
2 cup reg. carrots cut into rounds(I doubled the carrots)
1 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
7 ounces turkey kielbasa, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 (15.8-ounce) cans Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed (i actually used dried bean and just soaked them overnight...not as convenient but cheaper)
1 (12-ounce) bag fresh baby spinach leaves (i doubled the spinach)
Heat a large saucepan coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add carrots, onion, garlic, and kielbasa; sauté 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium; cook 5 minutes. Add the broth, Italian seasoning, pepper, and beans. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes.
Add the spinach, stirring until spinach wilts.
The original recipe does call for throwing some in the blender to make a smoother soup. I find this to be messy as I don't own an immersion blender so I skipped that.
The leftovers of this were good the next day, so all in all a great family recipe. JT enjoyed it and Kennedy pretty much picked at it...she did eat the carrots and kielbasa...but not the spinach!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Paula Dean Cheeseburger Meat Loaf

I am always on the search for that signature super amazing meatloaf recipe, ya know cause meatloaf has a stigma...so I found this one by none other than Paula Dean. I thought to myself-she has her own show, this can't be bad, and it wasn't. My husband totally loved it. My daughter actually ate some of it too. I cooked up my new favorite carrot recipe, mashed potatoes and milk grave with it and it was so yummy. So anyway here is the recipe.
Cheeseburger Meatloaf
1 pound ground chuck
10 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 (8-ounce) package sharp Cheddar, grated
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup bread crumbs, toasted
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/3 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons prepared mustard
1 (3-ounce) can French fried onions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, combine the ground chuck and next 8 ingredients, mixing well.
In a small bowl, combine the ketchup and mustard. Stir 1/4 cup ketchup mixture into meat mixture, reserving remaining ketchup mixture.
Press meat mixture into a 9 by 5 by 3-inch loaf pan, or shape into a loaf and place on a rack in a broiler pan. Spread remaining ketchup mixture over loaf. Bake 40 minutes. Top with French fried onions; bake another 10 to 15 minutes, or until meat is no longer pink
***instead of making one big loaf I made mini loaves and froze some after cooking. If you chose to do this use high quality tin foil and wrap each meat loaf individually and then store in a labeled plastic freezer bag.
As a little bonus here is the carrot recipe..it really is yummy
Carrots with Dried Cherries
5 carrots, sliced
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup dried cherries

Bring one inch of water in a medium saucepan to a boil. Add carrots and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
In the same pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the honey until dissolved. Add the cherries and simmer over low heat for one minute. Remove from heat and stir in carrots until completely coated.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Yummy Tortellini Salad
So last week I get a note home from Kennedy's teacher that there will be a PASTA PARTY in her class. She is bringing spaghetti and the teachers aide is bringing Alfredo, so I get stressed...what kind of pasta can I make...I have to make something good...then I remembered this little number. Kennedy loves tortellinni, and this will be a new and friendly taste for the kids.

This is really not a make ahead meal but it was yummy and a lot of people asked me for the recipe..so I am posting it.
Tortellini Salad
16 ounces cheese-filled tortellini
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup black olives, pitted and sliced
1/4 cup vinegar
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling water until al dente. In a jar, combine vinegar, olive oil, fresh herbs, lemon juice. Seal, and shake until well mixed. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. In a large bowl combine, tortellini, peppers, onion, and olives. Pour lemon dressing over salad, and toss to coat pasta. Cover, and chill for at least four hours. Before serving, toss in feta and Parmesan.
The Verdict:
It was very well received with most of the kids. Although they did pick out the veggies. All her teachers asked for the recipe and raved. We also had the remainder of it for dinner and it was all eaten. We all loved it..so go run! make this. IT is YUMMY!

Friday, October 10, 2008

This weeks meal is from Rachel Ray. My darling daughter always tells me I look like her, which I will take as a compliment, Rachel is a cute gal! Lets just hope Kennedy thinks I cook like her.
I tried her Apple-Fennel Stuffed Tenderloin

1 package pork tenderloins (2 tenderloins)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), plus extra for drizzling
1 small fennel bulb, cored and chopped, plus a handful of the fronds, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped or grated
1 firm apple, such as Gala or Honey Crisp varieties, peeled, cored and sliced ( I used what I had in this case and it was golden delicious, also she recomends sliced I, after making it would much have preferred chopped)
4-5 sprigs thyme, leaves removed and chopped
1/2 cup apple juice or cider (i used apple juice)
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
Pre-heat the oven to 400°F.
Trim the tenderloins of silver skin and butterfly them by cutting in and across – but not all the way through – the loins. Cover them with plastic and pound them out to 1/4-inch thick. ( this is a very fun task after a long day...) Season with salt and pepper.
Place a skillet over medium-high heat with two turns of the pan of EVOO, about 2 tablespoons. Add the fennel, onion, garlic and apple, season with salt, pepper and thyme and sauté until soft, 7-8 minutes. Add the apple juice to the pan along with the breadcrumbs and mix thoroughly to form a stuffing
Divide the fennel-apple stuffing between the two tenderloins and spread into an even layer, leaving about an inch of the meat uncovered on either side. Roll the tenderloins up like a jelly roll and place them seam side down on a sheet tray. Lightly drizzle some EVOO down over the tenderloins and season them with salt and pepper.9*****(I got creative here and added some additional spices___I mixed 1/4 cup brown sugar and 2 tablespoons chili powder and also sprinkled that on top along with the salt and pepper) Transfer to the oven and roast for 30 minutes, until the meat has browned.
When the meat comes out of the oven, cover it with a piece of foil and let it rest for 10 minutes to allow the juices to settle.

I made Parmesan Potatoes to go along with this dish. This is a recipe I learned when I was about twelve. It is not very good for you...but it is yummy and pretty economical (aren't we all thinking about that a bit more these days)
This is a very easy dish to make...
Parmesan Potatoes
3-5 baking(russet or Yukon gold) potatoes sliced_ I use russet
1 cup butter
1.5 cups Parmesan cheese grated
1.5 cups flour
1 tbs pepper (i use more cause I am a pepper lover)
milk (enough to cover you potatoes)

Wash and slice your potatoes (not to thin not to thick) and soak in milk
slice your butter and place a portion in the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish.
Mix flour, Parmesan cheese, and pepper in small bowl. Dip potatoes in mixture and shake off excess. Layer in dish. Add another layer of butter. Repeat until all ingredients are used.
Bake at 400 for about 45 minutes or until golden brown and yummy!
The verdict:
I especially enjoyed the potatoes..they have always been a fav of mine. My hubby really loved the pork. I thought it was pretty good. It had a nice sweet and savory combination with a little hint of heat. I really thought it would have been even better with a an apple wine reduction gravy of some sort so I may just have to experiment with that. Kennedy would eat the pork but not the dressing inside. However the leftovers of this were not so yummy the next day. They were edible but I would say this dish is best eaten the day it is made.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

So the other night we were all running in different directions and I needed to serve something fast and yummy. We had just been to the apple orchard and I had a lot of apples that needed to be used, so I made fried apples, twice baked potatoes and pecan crusted chicken. The great thing about this whole meal is it can all be made ahead and stored in your freezer. The chicken was pre-preped and frozen so I just defrosted and put it together. So then I had time to make a giant batch of twice baked potoates and freeze them in family size portions, for the next night I need a go to meal. I don't know about you, but in my book that ROCKS!!!!!
Pecan Crusted Chicken
(I made strips for this because they are more kid friendly, however you could do the full breast or nuggets)
**** Three separate meals to be frozen in gallon size bags
6 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast
1 cup Dijon mustard or spicy mustard
2 cups clover honey
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
3 cups crushed rice checks (i used my food processor to make a fine crush for a very crunchy coating)
2 cups crushed pecans (use your food processor for a quick crush)
3 gallon freezer bags
3 snack or quart size freezer bags
1. Prepare your chicken how ever you please (full breast, nuggets, or strips) Divide evenly among your 3 gallon sized freezer bags.
2. Combine honey, mustard (just use what you have..but NOT yellow mustard) oil. salt, garlic, and pepper in a large bowl. Divide evenly over the chicken. PRESS AIR OUT OF BAGS AND SEAL.
3.Mix your Rice chex and pecans mix together. Divide evenly between three of the small bags. PRESS AIR OUT OF BAGS AND SEAL.
4. Freeze (if you are serving one that night for dinner throw it in the fridge and let in marinate for at least 2 hours)
To Cook:
1. Thaw in fridge.
2. Preheat oven @ 350.
3. Line a baking sheet with tin foil and spray with cooking spray.
4.Put breadcrumbs in a pie plate or large bowl.
5. Take chicken from bag and roll each piece and roll in crumb mixture.
6. Bake for 3o min. or until NO LONGER PINK.
***IF you have extra chicken leftover, it is very very yummy in salad!!!!!!!
Twice Baked Potatoes
8 large baking potatoes or 16 small
8 slices bacon
2 cups sour cream
1 cup skim milk
1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
8 green onions, sliced, divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Bake potatoes in preheated oven for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain, crumble and set aside.
When potatoes are done allow them to cool for 10 minutes or until you can easily handle them. Slice potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop the flesh into a large bowl; save skins. To the potato flesh add sour cream, milk, butter, salt, pepper, 1/2 cup cheese and 1/2 the green onions. Mix with a hand mixer until well blended and creamy. Spoon the mixture into the potato skins. Top each with remaining cheese, green onions and bacon.
Bake for another 15 minutes.
Allow to cool (if not serving right away) Put in freezer bags in family sized portions. Freeze. To prepare from thawed just reheat in a 350 oven until warm.
Fried Apples (my hubby's favorite)
2 tablespoon butter
1/8 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 medium tart apple, cored and peeled
1/2 cup apple juice or cider

In a skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in sugar and lemon juice. Cut the apple into four rings; or whatever shape you like. add to skillet. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until apple rings are tender, turning frequently. Serve warm.
The verdict?
Kennedy loved this, she actually ate most of it and asked to have it again the next day. Jeremy could not stop saying how good it was...this meal was a winner!!!!! I loved the taste of the chicken and it was perfectly crunchy. YUMMY!!!!!!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Hello All!

This has been a long time coming for me, as I love to cook, I love to write, I love to tell people my opinions, and I love my blog.

In case you have not figured it out yet, this will be my food blog. I strive to do many of my recipes virtually from scratch, sometimes I use a little help, but I like to keep chemicals out of my family's food, not to mention the fact that if I cook it ALL I know what is in it. Recently my dear friend, Narah (HI! if you're reading this) have been really interested in is freezer cooking...also known as OMAC (once a month cooking), make ahead meals, dinners in the freezer, so many of the recipes I post will be able to made in this way. ***Many of the recipes I post will not be my own the will just be recipes I have tried and I plan on telling you adjustments I made and what my family and friends thought of the food...

So that's that! Lets get started! :)

Okay, so I am a avid Rachel Ray watcher. The other day I was watching her show (one I had recorded...so I don't know the original air date) and there was this adorable gal on there who had pledged to use her crock pot everyday for a year...and blog about it!!!! Well of course I ran over to my laptop (that's always fired up) and checked out her blog....AMAZING. Here is a link to Stephanie's blog A Year of Crockpotting. Well I have been checking it out once a week since then and she posted a very cool recipe for Turkey Apple Cheddar Meatballs that can be made in the crockpot. While I do love using my crock pot I had my freezer cooking in mind so I decided to use the recipe but go the more traditional route, and use my oven not my crock.

Here is the Recipe as posted on Stephanie's Blog

--1 1/2 pound extra lean ground turkey--1 egg--1 tsp kosher salt--1 tsp ground black pepper--1 tsp onion powder--1 green apple, peeled and shredded--1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar--1/2 cup dried unsweetened cranberries

Here is how I made the recipe (I doubled it)

3 pounds ground turkey

2 eggs

2 tsp kosher salt

2 tsp ground black pepper

1 tsp poultry seasoning

2 tsp onion powder

2 green apples peeled and shredded

1 cup cheddar cheese

1 cup dried cranberries

(as you can see I only added poultry seasoning to the original recipe, because I wanted to add a "thanksgiving flavor")

First off I peeled and shredded my apples. I used my mandolin to make a thick shred so you get that good apple taste. The just get everything in a bowl and mix with your hands. (that is the only way to mix meatballs or meatloaf...just be sure to remove your jewelry) Mix well. Form into balls. I made mine golf ball sized, as suggested on Stephanie's blog. Line a baking sheet with tin foil. Bake @ 350 for 20-25 minutes. ****If you make a double batch and want to freeze some....cool and then separate into freezer bags. Freeze. When ready to serve thaw in fridge or microwave and reheat.

So how did it taste?

I really enjoyed them. Kennedy and I some for lunch and they were yummy. I also served them (after freezing) last night at my church fellowship meal and everyone raved about them. This is a mild and very family friendly recipe. What I love most about the whole meatball thing is if you want to freeze them you can take out what you need for lunches, and if you are a mom like me
you know that many times you don't need a giant serving for a little eater :) !
Other notes about this recipe: This is a great recipe to make with your kids because of its ease and gooey factor when mixing. Kids love playdough so the will love forming meatballs. I know my daughter did. Then she wanted to eat what she made.