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Saturday, July 16, 2016

Ham and Bean Soup

    Today I made Ham & Bean Soup for the first time. I used all leftovers for this, other than a bag of dried navy beans. I had all the vegetables in the house, and leftovers from a spiral ham. I started with a receipe from Taste of Home magazine special, Make & Take (pg 84). I didn't have the ham hocks that recipe called for, nor did I remember ahead of time to soak the beans overnight.
     I got a special deal the other day on a pressure cooker. Mine is an InstaPot 7 in 1 Multi-Functional Cooker. It's a pressure cooker, rice cooker, slow cooker, yogurt maker, steamer, sauté and warmer. I used the pressure cooker to cook the beans. Once it got ready and heated up, it only needed 4 minutes cook time, then it cooled off.
     The Taste of Home recipe called for draining the beans, then adding 8 cups water to make the soup. I wanted a base with more flavor so googled a recipe, and sure enough, others used chicken broth. This recipe was also from Taste of Home. You can find it here:
     There were a few noticeable differences. Both called for a mirepoix of celery, onions and carrots. The online recipe sauted the vegetables in butter. That sounded better, so I did that. I should have done it a little longer than I did. The onions were translucent when I stopped, but the celery and carrots still had a bite to them and needed longer to soften. I did not add the chili powder, garlic or bay leaf that the online recipe called for. I stuck with the Campfire Bean & Ham Soup recipe that was just dried navy beans, onions, water, cooked ham, (the ham hocks I didn't have), celery, onions, basil and pepper. It called for 2 cups celery which when eaten, seemed a bit much, so would reduce the amount next time.
     Once the vegetables were done sautéing, you just add the liquid, the ham and the cooked beans. Mix and simmer for 15 minutes. Serve with fresh bread.
     In the end, this is what I came up with, modified for what changes I'd make for next time:

Ham & Bean Soup

1 lb dried navy beans
1 small onion, chopped
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups water (more to soak/cook beans)
4 cups cubed fully cooked ham
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tub Knorr vegetable homemade stock concentrate
1 packet Swanson Garlic & Herb Flavor Boost

Place the beans in an ovenproof dutch oven; add enough water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat; cover and let stand for 1-4 hours or until the beans are softened. Alternately, you can cook them quickly in a pressure cooker. (If you don't want to use dried navy beans, you can use 4 cans great northern or navy beans, rinsed and drained.) Once beans are cooked, drain and rinse. Do not save water.

In a large saucepan, sauté the carrots and celery in butter. After a few minutes, add onions. Saute until all vegetables are tender. Stir in the remaining ingredients, if you want you can reserve the 2 cups fresh cold water depending on how thick you'd like your soup. I found the 6 cups liquid (4 cups chicken broth and 2 cups water was perfect. Original recipe called for 8 cups and I never used the reserved water.) Mix well and simmer all soup for 15-20 minutes.

Serve hot with fresh bread.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Corn Bread Bun Chili Dog

This recipe I found on Facebook from BuzzFeed Food. Here is a link to a video of the recipe being made:

I love the idea of baking the hotdogs into corn bread buns. I'm not as thrilled with the chili. I'm not a fan of beans, although they are good protein and cheap. But for a budget dish, having more hotdogs and especially all that ground beef doesn't make this budget friendly. I think you could easily get away with an inexpensive brand of canned chili, like Hormel. EDIT: After a trip into town today, a can of Hormel chili (beans or no beans) was $1.99. I ended up buying a can of Best Choice (store brand) 10.5 oz Hot Dog Chili Sauce for 79¢.

Corn Bread Bun Chili Dog
Serving Size: 6

Boxed corn bread batter
6 Tyson Ball Park Bun Size Franks

Hot Dog Chili
1 pound ground beef
½ white onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon red chili flake
1 Tyson Ball Park Bun Size Frank, cut into chunks
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

1. Preheat grill or grill pan to medium/high heat. Cook Ball Park Angus Beef Franks just until they show grill marks. Set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 400˚F/200˚C.
3. Pour cornbread batter into a greased and parchment lined 9x13 baking dish. Place 6 hot dogs evenly over batter, only gently pushing them into the batter.
4. Bake for 17-20 minutes until bread is set and lightly browned.
5. Heat a saucepan over medium high and sauté onions and garlic until turning translucent, 2-3 minutes.
Add ground beef to pan and break up with spoon to crumble. Cook until meat is no longer pink and cooked through. Season with salt and pepper and all of the dried seasonings.
6. Drain the beans and add them to the seasoned meat along with the diced tomatoes and hot dog.
7. Simmer for 20-30 minutes.
8. Cut the cornbread along the side of each hot dog, leaving a bit of space on both sides to form a bun.
9. Spoon a hearty scoop of the Hot Dog Chili over and sprinkle with cheese.
10. Enjoy!

Ham & Cheese Frittata

    Everyone is tired this morning, after staying up late for Independence Day fireworks, so I decided to make them all a breakfast frittata. I quickly googled a recipe. I found Alton Brown's recipe on Food I will let you look there for the basic recipe and I'll just tell you what changes I made.
     I had green onions, or scallions in the fridge, so I cut them up. I had slow roasted a spiral ham the day before for the holiday, so I diced some of that up. I got the 6 beaten eggs ready. As this cooks rather fast, so it helps to have all your ingredients prepped before cooking.
     Now I don't have asparagus in the house (and I live 16 miles from the nearest grocery store, so I try to cook with pantry/fridge/freezer staples that I have lying around, with special emphasis on using up leftovers. Instead of regular parmesan cheese, I used Sun Dried Tomato & Basil grated parmesan cheese. I added the parmesan cheese to the beaten eggs, along with salt & pepper.
     I melted butter in an oven safe sauté pan while starting the broiler on the oven. I added the scallions to the butter to sauté, then added the ham. After they'd sauted for a couple minutes, I added the beaten egg mixture. You only need to move it around the pan enough so that the entire bottom of the pan is covered with the eggs, and move the ham and scallions around evenly so they won't all end up on one side of the frittata. Otherwise, don't touch it and let the bottom of the egg mixture set and start to cook and form a crust. This won't be very thick, under half an inch. At this point, I added what leftover real bacon bits I had, and sprinkled the top with grated Colby jack shreaded cheese. Once the bottom half of the frittata is cooked, remove from the stove and put it under the broiler. It only needs a couple minutes under the broiler until the top is lightly browned and bubbly.
     Prep time for this was about 5 minutes, and total cooking time was maybe 8 minutes. The family ate is up while still warm, with no leftovers. If you don't have green onions/scallions around (as I usually don't), I'd add chives at the same time you add the shredded cheese (instead of the chopped parsley Alton Brown's recipe called for). This recipe is a great way to use up leftovers, both meat and veggies. You could always add a few extra eggs to make it a bit thicker. You could also add a splash of milk to thin the beaten eggs a bit like you do when making scrambled eggs.
      This could easily be for brunch, lunch, or dinner as well as breakfast.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Hearty Lunch - Meatball Sandwiches

     Today I thought I'd share with you my inspired idea. While at Menards (large chain hardware store) recently, in their small food section, I ran into their bake and serve breads. I bought two bags of Cabatta rolls (small rectangular). You bake these for 6-8 minutes at 400ºF, for fresh rolls.
     Not long ago, I had a meatball sub sandwich from Subway. It wasn't as good as I thought it should be. I happen, as a staple, have a bag of small Italian meatballs in my freezer. I also had a jar of Marinara sauce in my pantry. All I had to do was buy slices of mozzarella cheese.
     I heated up the rolls as per package directions. I then sliced them in half and toasted them under the broiler briefly. This is so the bread is a bit toasty on the inside so it won't be soggy and mush under your meatballs. Doesn't have to be light brown, just need to dry the bread out a bit. I halved the meatballs and heated them up in a small pot. I halved the meatballs to they'd lay flat in the sandwich and would be less likely to fall out and down the front of your shirt while you're eating. I heated the meatballs halves first, seasoning just a touch with Nature's Seasoning (salt, pepper and a few extra spices.) Once they were heated through, I added the jar of marinara sauce. I added some freshly grated Italian seasoning and heated this all up.
    Time to assemble the sandwiches. Put both halves of each roll on a sheet pan. Add meatballs and sauce carefully to one half of a sub, without spilling on the sheet pan. Top with a slice of mozzarella cheese. Broil all the rolls (both the empty half which will toast and brown nicely) just until the cheese is melted. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the tops with ground oregano. Top meatball bottom with toasted top roll. Eat while still warm. :)

Thursday, June 23, 2016

My son loved tonight's dinner so much, I thought I'd share. In the Midwest, we have a recipe for something called porcupine meatballs. It's a meatball with rice in it, that's cooked in a tomato based sauce. What I did tonight, was make a pan of basically deconstructed porcupine meatballs. I had a lot of leftover meatloaf. I made plain white rice. I reheated and browned the meatloaf while breaking it up into bites. I added a can of petite diced tomatoes with green chiles, and heated them together. I then added a jar of spaghetti sauce. I then added scoops of white rice, mixing in as I went, until most of the liquid was absorbed. Didn't want it runny. I added a couple packets of parmesan cheese leftover from the last time I ordered takeout pizza. My son dearly loved it and had second helpings. I used up a leftover (meatloaf) and added pantry items on hand. Rice really stretched the meal, is cheap, and very filling. Tasted great.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Money Saving Pasta dish at $1.20 a serving

It doesn't cost a lot to feed a large family. This is my own recipe and doesn't really have a name yet. In fact, I've never even written the recipe down.

I start with a package of Armour Italian Style Meatballs, 14oz bag. It says it contains over 26 fully cooked meatballs. On sale, I can get these for $3.99/bag. I slightly thaw the bag just to the point where I can cut up the meatballs. Cut each in half. Cut your half in half, then slice 3 or 4 times. I end up with 16 tiny pieces from each meatball. It's up to you but many times I only use half a bag of meatballs to feed my family of 5 when cut up this way.

Cook a 16oz package of pasta according to package directions. I choose a small shell pasta. Use up anything you have in the house. You can even mix pasta. You could use macaroni but that pasta is thicker. If you wanted to use spaghetti, I would break it up 3 times so that you have 3-4 inch pieces before you boil them. The idea is that this is a premixed casserole type dinner to dish up, not to assemble on each plate separately.

In another large pot (or same one, once you drain pasta and set it aside), put a little oil (I used olive oil) in the bottom of the pot. Add your meatball pieces. Saute slightly so they are browned. Season with salt and pepper. (I used Nature's Seasoning). Open three 24oz cans of spaghetti sauce. I get these on sale for 99¢ each. Use whatever you have. Tonight we had Garlic & Herb, Meat flavored, and 4 cheese. Mix together with the meatballs.

Now it's time to add seasonings. Although you're using cans of pre-made spaghetti sauce, I still like to add additional seasoning. I added about a tablespoon of dehydrated chopped/minced onion flakes, Italian seasoning (both a tablespoon or two from a large jar and some freshly ground Italian seasoning that gives off a good aroma), some garlic powder with parsley. I added some Badia brand Complete Seasoning (it's found in the Mexican aisle of one of my local grocery stores). It's a combination of garlic, onions, salt, spices and herbs. And because I had it (and it's frightfully expensive at nearly $9 a jar, bought from a table at a trunk show/fair), some Tastefully Simple brand Mama Mia Marinara Sauce Mix (which I'd never used before). Basically a better, chunkier version of the complete seasoning. Oh, and a dash of red pepper flakes. Stir all that together. Once you have all the seasoning mixed into the spaghetti sauce and meatballs, then add the pasta and simmer all together. I like to stir in about 1/4 to 1/2 a cup of Parmesan and/or Romano shredded cheese at this point to melt in. Let it simmer until heated through, stirring occasionally.

Since I've never written this recipe down, it comes out a little different each time depending on what's in the pantry, how many I'm feeding, etc.

Serve warm with some Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top. You could get fancy and garnish with parsley or other fresh herbs. I served it with half slices of my homemade herbed French bread to dip into the sauce. The photo above unfortunately was of what was leftover, as I didn't think to take a photo until after we'd already eaten. This meal fills half of my 8 quart dutch oven when I whip up a batch. It feeds 5, even with some eaten seconds, and still provides enough leftovers for a few lunches.

Let's see... taking my sale prices and the amount used into question, I spent...

16oz bag Pasta $1.29
3 - 24oz cans spaghetti sauce $2.97
1/2 bag of frozen meatballs $1.99
Parmesan cheese and spices $1

Total = $7.25. Since we have leftovers after feeding a family of 5, I'll say this recipe easily feeds at least 6, maybe more. So $7.25 divided by 6 works out to $1.20 a serving. If you feed 7 (with no leftovers) it works out to $1.03 a serving. Note: This does not count the homemade bread I served with the pasta dish as I had that leftover from another meal.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

2012 Holiday Recipe Contest Entries

     Now that I've caught you up on my past winning entries, I thought I'd share with you this years entries. Deadline to enter is Oct 19th, so I've been busy typing them up to send in all week. The entries will be separated into the categories they were submitted under. I entered at least one in each category. I'll list the source, of the recipe, if known, in (brackets) at the end the recipe along with notes.

Appetizers, Snacks and Beverages

Whiskey Creek Potato Wedges

20oz bag Ore-Ida Grillers (Seasoned thick-cut potatoes)Colby Jack Shredded Cheese
(Oscar Meyer Real) Bacon Bits (sold in 3oz bag)
Chives (Use freeze dried if you don’t have fresh. Chopped green onions work in a pinch.)

Bake potatoes a single layer deep on a baking sheet according to package directions. When done, season with salt. Sprinkle lightly with shredded Colby jack cheese, bacon bits, and chives. Bake another 5 minutes. Serve hot.

(Recreated from the appetizer we were served at Whiskey Creek Steakhouse.)

Soups, Salads and Side Dishes


Roasted Tatties

6 to 9 medium russet potatoes, allowing 3 halves each
Sea salt
Bacon grease (original recipe called for goose fat)
¼ to ½ cup of flour seasoned with salt and pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Peel the potatoes and half lengthwise. If very large, cut into quarters. Place in a pot and cover with cold salted water. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 to 6 minutes. Drain in a colander and leave to stand in the colander for 2 to 3 minutes before shaking the colander gently to rough them up a bit. This action begins to break down the edges of the potato and will give you a tasty crunch later on. Heat the skillet with about a ¼ of an inch of melted bacon grease in it. Once the fat is hot, roll the potatoes in the seasoned flour and then place them into the hot fat. Fry, turning them occasionally, until completely golden brown. Fry in two batches if necessary. In the meantime, melt some bacon grease in a large roasting pan large enough to fit the potatoes, ¼ inch in depth. Add the browned potatoes and roll them in the fat. Bake in the pre-heated oven for a further 40-45 minutes, turning them about halfway through the baking time. You can add a knob of butter over the potatoes for a rich crispy roast taste. Sprinkle with sea salt and serve warm.

(Found online from OakCottageRecipes. I was looking for authentic British roasted tatties. Original recipe is titled Classic Roast Potatoes.)

Chorizo and Cornbread Stuffing


1 lb fresh Mexican chorizo
1 med white onion, finely chopped
1 med carrot, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 cups coarsely crumbled cornbread
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
½ cup chicken stock
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and cook the chorizo, breaking it up and stirring occasionally as it cooks, until it begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic to the chorizo and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have browned, about 10 minutes. Add the crumbled cornbread and cilantro and gradually pour in enough of the stock so the stuffing is not too dry but at the same time not too wet. Stir gently and well. Butter a small casserole dish. Spread the stuffing in an even layer. Bake until its heated through and lightly browned on top, about 20 minutes.
(From Food Netwok Magazine and Chef Aarón Sanchez.  Chorizo is very spicy.)


Main Dishes

Texas Oven-Roasted Beef Brisket

2 Tablespoons chili powder
2 Tablespoons salt
1 Tablespoon garlic powder
1 Tablespoon onion powder
1 Tablespoon ground black pepper
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 bay leaf, crushed
4 pounds beef brisket, trimmed
1 ½ cups beef stock

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Make a dry rub by combining chili powder, salt, garlic and onion powders, black pepper, sugar, dry mustard, and bay leaf. Season the raw brisket on both sides with the rub. Place in a roasting pan and roast, uncovered, for 1 hour. Add beef stock and enough water to yield about ½ inch of liquid in the roasting pan. Lower oven to 300 degrees F, cover pan tightly and continue cooking for 3 hours, or until fork-tender. Trim the fat and slice meat thinly across the grain. Top with juice from the pan.
(From Food Network website. I don't really care for their roasting directions, but I use the spice rub on all different kinds of roasts. I brown my roast on all sides in a dutch oven, then add 1 can each of beef broth and chicken broth to it, then put the lid on the dutch oven and transfer to the oven for 90 mins to 2 hours. It's done when a meat thermometer inserted comes to the correct temperature of 160 degrees F.)

Curried Chicken Fingers


Cooking spray
1 ½ teaspoon curry powder
2 large eggs
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Kosher salt
2 cups panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (1 ½ to 1 ¾ pounds) cut into 1 inch strips (or use boneless, skinless chicken tenders)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Set a rack on a baking sheet and mist with cooking spray. Whisk the eggs, mustard, 1 tsp curry powder, the cumin and 1 tsp salt in a shallow bowl. Mix the panko with ½ tsp curry powder in another bowl. Dip the chicken strips in the egg mixture, letting the excess drip off, then coat with the panko. Place the chicken on the rack and mist with cooking spray all over. Bake until golden brown and cooked through, about 20 minutes.
(From Food Network Magazine. I took out the part to make Curried Ketchup to go with it. If you can find the chicken tenders it's quicker and faster than cutting your own.)

Easy Chicken Pot Pie

1 can cooked, cubed chicken
1 15oz can Veg-All, drained
1 10 ¾ oz can cream of chicken soup
2 pre-made piecrusts (one for the top, and one for the bottom)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients except the pie crusts. Place the bottom crust in a deep-dish pie pan, smoothing it to fit. Pour the mixture into the piecrust. Place the second pie crust on top. Crimp the edges to seal. Cut slits in top crust to vent. Bake approximately 20 minutes, until filling is hot and crust is golden brown. Serves 4 to 6.
(From the book, The Duggars: 20 and Counting. I'll admit I havn't made this one yet and I don't expect to win with this recipe. They have in the past said to please enter alot of recipes, wether they are potential winners or not as they need to have enough to fill the cookbook. Since this is easy and cheap to make, I included it.)

Desserts and Baked Goods


Cinnamon Roll Cupcakes

1 box yellow cake mix
3 eggs
1 cup water
1 stick butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar plus 1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon, combined

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 24 muffin tins with liners.
In a bowl of a mixer, combine cake mix, eggs, water, and butter and beat on low speed until combined. Increase speed to high and beat for one minute. Fill muffin tins about ¼ of the way full. Sprinkle a heaping teaspoon of cinnamon/brown sugar mixture over batter and cover with another spoonful of batter. Sprinkle another teaspoon of cinnamon/brown sugar over the top. Cups should be about 2/3 full (try not to fill them more than that.) Bake for about 15 minutes or until tops spring back when lightly touched. Cool on a cooling rack.

FROSTING:  (If you want to pipe it on high, double this)
8oz block of cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar
In the bowl of a mixer, beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla on medium-low speed until smooth. Add powdered sugar and beat on low until just combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl and increase speed to high and beat for 2 minutes. Pipe or frost on cupcakes and place in the refrigerator until ready to glaze.

GLAZE:1 stick (8 Tbsp) butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter with brown sugar and cinnamon until combined and pourable but not boiling. Spoon over frosted cupcakes and immediately place in refrigerator to set.
(I found this recipe onlin from CookbookQueensRecipes.)

Banana Crumb Muffins

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
3 bananas, mashed
¾ cup white sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 Tablespoon butter
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease 10 muffin cups, or line with muffin papers. In a large bowl, mix together 1 ½ cups flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, beat together bananas, sugar, egg, and melted butter. Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture just until moistened. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. In a small, mix together brown sugar, 2 Tablespoons flour and cinnamon. Cut in 1 Tablespoon butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle topping over muffins. Bake in preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean.
(A basic banana muffin is made extraordinary with a cinnamon-and-brown-sugar streusel topping. Found online from

Chocolate Truffle Cake

16 ounces semisweet chocolate
1 stick unsalted butter
1 ½ teaspoon flour
1 ½ teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon hot water
4 eggs, separated
1 cup whipping cream
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Grease bottom of 8 inch spring form pan. Melt chocolate and butter in the top of a double boiler. Remove from heat. Add flour, sugar, and water and blend well. Add egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff, but not dry, and fold into the chocolate mixture. Turn into pan and bake for 15 minutes only. Let cool completely, then chill in the refrigerator. Whip cream and spread over cake. Cut cake while cold, but let stand at room temperature for about 15 minutes before serving. Serves 8 - 10.
(Recipe from Eat This...You'll Feel Better cookbook by Dom DeLuise.)