Saturday, February 13, 2010

Bonus Recipe: Sausage Dip

This is a fantastic dip recipe I got from my friend, Jen Tolbert. I use it all the time and people rave over it! I like it because it is a change from the typical: velveeta and rotel (which I like too!).

Try this on your family one night, for your next potluck or for a big game!

You won't be disappointed!

Here is what you need:

2 packs cream cheese, 1 can Rotel, 1lb browned sausage and tortilla chips

Step 1: Add cream cheese and Rotel to Crock Pot

Step 2: Add browned Sausage, stir.

Step 3: Cook on low until melted and warm

Step 4: Serve with Tortilla chips and enjoy!!!!

Do you have a favorite "go to" dip?

Leave a comment and share your recipe with all of us!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Friday: Quinoa and Black Beans

What is quinoa? Up until last week I had no idea. Our family is on a grain adventure and one of the grains we tried this week was none other than red quinoa. This grain is a power packed amino acid. It has a large amount of magnesium and riboflavin. It apparently was the "gold of the Incas" giving warriors more stamina. It gave us a good laugh as we all looked at it with concern and considered ordering pizza. I am proud of us, however, we went through with cooking quinoa and the result~ we absolutely loved it!

Please, trust me, this is a grain to bring into your kitchen.

What you will need for Quinoa and Black Beans:

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

What to do:

Step one~
Chop your onion and place it into some olive oil in a pan. Add a bit of garlic.

Step two~
Add 3/4 cup of the quinoia. Admire it as you toss it in! Those tiny grains are going to do good things!

Step three~ Add 1 1/2 cups of vegetable stock/broth.

Step four~ Add your cumin and cayenne pepper. I love the smell of cumin! It makes me happy. LET THE QUINOA cook for TWENTY MINUTES. Those little grains will actually pop open a bit. Cute little guys....

Step five~
Drain and rinse your black beans. Set aside one cup of corn. Chop your cilantro. Add them to the quinoia and stir.

Step six~
Be proud of yourself for cooking something new!

We ate the Quinoa with a little bit of salsa. We also filled a whole wheat tortilla with avocado. This was a vegetarian meal, super healthy and oh oh oh so good!

I got this recipe off of I modified it by only adding in one can of black beans. The original recipe called for two. We did not find the necessary at all.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Thursday: Chicken and Dumplings

Olive Oil
1/2 cup flour seasoned with salt and pepper
3 large chicken breasts
Onion, chopped
2 Carrots, chopped
2 Celery, chopped
3 Cups Chicken Broth
Bay Leaf

2 cups flour
2 Tsp baking powder
1/2 cups cornmeal
1 Tbs Sugar
1 3/4 cup half and half

What to do:

1. Season 1/2 cup of flour with salt and pepper.

2. Dredge chicken breasts through the flour.

3. Place chicken into a large pan with some olive oil. Brown on both sides, 3-5 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, chop the onion and saute it.

5. Add the chopped carrots and chopped celery into the onions. Stir and keep saute for a good two minutes.

6. Now, add the veggies to the chicken. I went ahead and cut up the chicken a little bit in the pan. This is optional.

7. Add the three cups of chicken broth. Throw in the spices too!

8. Set the oven timer for twenty minutes and simmer. As the chicken simmers go ahead and make the dumplings. Add all of the dumplings ingredients together in a bowl.

9. After twenty minutes plop those dumplings onto the chicken soupy mixture. Remember to cover the pan or else the top of your dumplings won't get done!

10. Serve warm.

This was my first time making chicken and dumplings. I thought that this recipe was really delicious, however the chicken could have been a little more tender. I will work on this and post again when I find an answer for that.

A Spoonfull of Desert!

It is fun to create deserts, elaborate and simple alike. We usually save deserts for big deal days and weekends. On the average weekday night for us desert is something like apple sauce, orange slices, or mango. The other night though I just HAD TO HAVE SOMETHING CHOCOLATE!
My eldest son and I created this little desert and I thought it was worth sharing. It is easy and fun. Our family really enjoyed this and it hit the spot without being a totally terrible treat.

What you need:
A spoonful of peanut butter and some M&M's!

What to do:
Scoop up some peanut butter and place those M&M's on top.
Sarah, from The Frugal Table, puts chocolate chips on hers.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tuesday: Drip Beef Sandwiches

Today we had a delicious and very easy meal. I will say that it was not the most frugal with the cost of the meat and the long cook time in the oven....

What you will need:

Chuck Roast (if you are unsure, ask the butcher at your grocery store)
Can of Jalapeno Peppers
Can of Beef Broth
Hoagie rolls

What to do:

1. Take your chuck roast and place it into a big oven safe pot. I felt intimidated by this big slab of meat, but this is so easy to do!

2. Open your can of beef broth and simply pour it in!

3. Open your can of jalapenos. I used whole ones. This amazingly enough does not make the meat incredibly spicy, just nice and tasteful. Dump in the peppers and the juice.

4. Sprinkle with oregano.

5. Place in the oven at 275 for five hours. When it is finished you should be able to pull it apart with barely a touch.

6. When the meat is finished set is aside.

7. Butter your hoagie roll and place it into the oven with a nice slice of your favorite cheese. When it is warm and melted, slap that meat onto it and eat it up!

Save the drippings in the pan. They are delicious for dipping your sandwich into!

Tuesday: Red Beans and Rice

* I am switching Tuesday and Thursday on my meal plan this week. It just works out better for our family.

Dur, forgot the pepper in this picture. Don't forget your green pepper!

Red Beans and Rice. Take a moment to groan please. Either groan because you hate them or groan because you dream about them. Some of my most cherished food memories have been over a hot spicy plate of red beans and rice. As a disaster responder for the American Red Cross I spent three weeks in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi doing disaster work with Hurricane Katrina victims. For three weeks my meals consisted of granola bars eaten on the run from my backpack and blessed red beans and rice cooked by locals. When I came home, I made my husband drive me three hours north to the only Cajun restaurant around for you guessed it~ red beans and rice.

One of the beautiful things about this meal, aside from the hearty healthy taste, is that is cheap. We had family in town and I served TEN people this meal and spent less than seven dollars TOTAL. I repeat, I spent SEVEN DOLLARS and served TEN PEOPLE dinner. There was even a little leftover for seconds.

Grocery List

Two Large Cans of Red Beans (Kidney Beans)
Green Bell Pepper
Bay Leaves
Cayenne Pepper
Brown Rice

What to do:

This particular recipe was done in a crock pot and is not at all my favorite red beans and rice recipe. However, it is good and is easy. This was what I needed while my house was ransacked by ten other people!

1. Chop one onion and one green pepper. Put them into a crock pot.
2. Add both cans of red beans, not drained.
3. Season with several bay leaves (remove before serving).
4. Season with cayenne pepper. Add as much as you can handle, but be careful. A little goes a long way. Put in a hint of garlic.
5. Cook on low, stirring occasionally to mix all the juices together. I let mine simmer for several hours to really soften those peppers and onions into oblivion.
6. Cook your rice according to the cook time. For brown rice it is usually about 40 minutes. I use chicken broth rather than water to boil my rice.
7. Serve up that rice slathered with the red beans and extra sauce. Add a slice of corn bread on the side. I also fried up a sliced kielbasa sausage nice and brown to serve with this.

That is it! Sorry, no picture.....forget to take them amid the chaos!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Monday: Vegetable Barley Soup

My hubby and I took our boys to Sweet Tomatoes the other day. Can I just give a big Whoop Whoop to Sweet Tomatoes?! I could eat there every single day. I could pack up and move in right by the salad bar...or the soup bar. And, if I wanted to see my husband I would simply walk over to the pizza and potatoes, grabbing a green tea and a corn bread muffin on the way. Anyway~ being that we don't live in Sweet Tomatoes and never will I found myself dissecting this amazing soup that I was slurping.
Long story short, I can't remember what was in the soup and NO my version taste nothing like theirs, but it was good and here it is!

What you will need:
Vegetable Stock (See our HOW TO SERIES!)
Chick Peas
Cayenne Pepper
Red Onion

What to do:

1. Soak your chick peas in a pot of water. The quick method is to boil them for one minute and then to let them sit for two hours. Drain the water and they are ready to use. (This helps reduce the fart factor....)

OR just used canned chickpeas...

2. Mean while chop up your carrots, celery, red onion, and cilantro and set aside.

3. In a big pot of Vegetable Stock add your red onion, cilantro, barely and chick peas.

4. Now, add the celery and carrots.

5. It is starting to look and smell pretty darn good. Keep simmering this soup on low for a nice long time, until the barley is cooked. I would give it a couple of hours.
Add cumin and Cayenne pepper to taste (careful with that pepper now!)

6. Towards the end of the simmering soup add a nice handful of spinach leaves. Seriously, they are amazing in this soup.

7. Enjoy!

ps....we are looking for ways to use barley in our kitchen. If you have ideas pass them on please!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sweet Potato and Apple Cake

In the pursuit of new and delicious healthy recipes I took a trip to the Whole Foods Market. You will be hearing more about my adventure there in the coming days as I go through cooking with whole grains. In the meantime, please let me share this recipe with you. I came across it while searching the Whole Foods Market website. It is a cake, people, a real cake made with apples and sweet potatoes. Sweet, sweet potatoes.
I loved it! I had to share it!

What you will need:

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 large apple, peeled, cored and grated
1 (3/4-pound) sweet potato, peeled and grated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

What to do:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly oil an (8-inch) baking pan with cooking spray; set aside.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg; set aside. .In a second large bowl, whisk together sugar and egg until well combined.

3. Peel your sweet potato, peel and core your apple!

4. Grate them up!

5. Stir in apple, sweet potato, vanilla and walnuts and then add apple mixture to flour mixture and stir to combine.

6. Transfer batter to prepared pan and bake until cake pulls away from the edges and is deep golden brown, 40 to 50 minutes. Set aside to let cool and then cut into squares and serve.

7. Eat it up! Delicious with coffee! Delicious with Milk! Delicious just anyway, like eating small bites of it as you pass through the kitchen and just happen to see it on the counter...........

Thanks, Whole Foods Market!

Meal Plan: February 8-12

This week I am not falling back on anything. This week everything coming out of my kitchen is a meal that I have never prepared before. The reason for this~ I really truly want to learn more about cooking and baking. I want to be a good cook. And, I want to teach my kiddos about simple good food.
Hopefully, at the end of this week I will not have too many flops. Fingers crossed, aprons tied!

Here is the experimental meal plan. This introduces two new types of whole grains to our family. We took a trip to the Whole Foods Market and came back with bags of bulk grains. Our pantry looks beautiful. It actually looks healthy as red, brown, and cream colored grains sit waiting to boost our families nutrition through the roof. I love it. I keep going and staring into my pantry. Grains. Grains. Grains. Oreos. Grains. did that get in there?

Monday: Vegetable Barley Soup
Tuesday: Drip Beef Sandwiches
Wednesday: Quisidellas, Quinoa and Blackbeans
Thursday: Red Beans and Rice
Friday: Chicken and Dumplings

Bonus just because I had to: Sweet Potato and Apple Cake!