Saturday, February 20, 2010

Bonus Post:: Kid Friendly Corn Dogs

My husband created this concoction, and at first I didn't think it sounded too great... but I was wrong. My kids loved it! It really is an easy way for toddlers to enjoy a "corn dog" without the hassle of having to cut up a steaming hot corn dog on a stick.

Here is what you need: 1 box corn bread, 6 hot dogs, ketchup

Step 1: Mix corn bread as directed on package

Step 2: Cut up hot dogs

Step 3: Add hot dogs to corn bread

Step 4: Cook as directed on corn bread package.

Step 5: Serve with ketchup icing!


Serves: 4

Cost of Meal: $2.00
Cost per person: $.50

What is a quick "go to" kid friendly meal in your house?

Leave a comment and impress us all with your ideas!

Friday, February 19, 2010

How to: Roast Coffee Beans

If you're a coffee fan, you've probably already heard that there are people out there who don't always drink Starbucks. Who don't even drink Folger's. Nothing against these fine established roasted coffee providers, but there are benefits to roasting your own green coffee beans. Of course, there's the obvious - “It's freshly roasted!”, but there's so much more. Here are just a few:

- Roast variability within one bean. Don't like a dark roasted Ethiopian bean? Roast it lighter yourself. Want your Timor bean just a bit darker? Take it there yourself. Like Sumatra, but want to taste more bean than roast? Try it lightly roasted.

- Green beans have a much longer shelf life. Coffee experts can't taste the difference, even after being stored over a year. Beyond that, green beans only lose acidity and increase in body. Some coffees are aged on purpose for that reason!!

- Green beans are CHEAPER! Generally you'll save between 15-20% on your coffee costs.

So now you're thinking, “I don't have a coffee roaster, or a popcorn popper converted into one.” No problem. Grab your frying pan or wok. Ready? This method works best over a gas stove, but you electric users may find it do-able also. Use a wooden spoon that you're not worried about scorching.

Depending on your pan size, pour some beans in so that they're about 3 levels of beans thick. Because of roasting in less than controlled conditions, you'll want to roast slow on medium to give time for the air in and around the beans to heat. Some actually cover the pan, and shake while roasting for more a more controlled/even roast. I choose to stir the beans constantly throughout the roasting process.

As you're stirring, you'll notice the green beans begin to expand. They'll begin emitting an aroma that you probably won't appreciate your first time, but will grow to love. Not stinky-town, but not coffee-shop either. It takes a while, but once the beans “crack” audibly the first time, the color begins to change faster. By the second “crack”, you're usually at a very dark roast, and smokin' up the room a bit.

Here's a great chart of bean coloring. You can roast to your desired color, but remember that roasting continues even after you've taken them off the heat, from the inside of each bean. Kinda like bacon, you have to remove them before they look finished. This may take practice, but you'll get it.

You may notice the beans are a bit more colorful than the ones you buy in the store. This is okay! I've found that a slightly uneven roast allows you to taste more of the actual bean flavor, along with the selected level of roast.

Immediately after roasting, transfer your beans to a colander, and head outside. You'll want to gently shake the beans in the wind, or while softly blowing on them, as this will remove the chaff leftover after the beans have expanded. By this time, they've cooled a bit and are just about finished roasting. But they're still letting a bit of Carbon Dioxide out. Go ahead and put them in a jar of some sort, but don't close the lid for at least 10 hours. You could use the beans immediately, but best results will be at least 4 hours after roasting.

Store the beans in a sealed container, out of sunlight. Do NOT put coffee beans in the fridge or freezer, I don't care whose Grandma told you to. Enjoy your freshly roasted coffee, and don't be discouraged if you ruin some beans along the way. Just try again!!!

For more from Wick, check out Words from the Wick today!

Thanks to my husband, Chadwick for teaching us all how to roast beans!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Friday: Make Ahead Beef Chimicangas & Fresh Pico de Gallo

I LOVE mexican food, all the cheese, fresh veggies, beans, and pico! Yum! I found this recipe about 6 months ago and have used it several times in my freezer meal co-op group. So far, everyone has loved the chimis!

You can make this meal ahead of time, freeze them and pull them out for a last minute lunch or dinner- or you can just make them, eat them and then freeze the leftovers. Either way, you need to try them!

Here is what you need to make 16 chimichangas (trust me, you will want extras!):

1 lb browned ground beef, chicken or pork, 16 oz jar of salsa, 16 oz can refried beans, 1 1/2 oz taco seasoning, 16- 8 inch flour tortillas, 1 lb Sharp cheddar cheese, oil for frying

Step 1: Add meat, salsa, taco seasoning and beans in a skillet.

Step 2: Mix and cook over medium heat until warmed through.

Step 3: Place 1/3-1/2 cup meat mixture in an 8 inch flour tortilla

Step 4: Top with cheese

Step 5: Begin rolling your tortilla by folding it length wise

Step 6: Now begin tucking the ends in

Step 7: Pinch the top part down

Step 8: Fold the bottom part up (Don't be frustrated if it doesn't look perfect! By the time you get to your 4th or 5th one, they will start looking better!)

Step 9: Place seam side down on a cookie sheet

Step 10: Heat up your oil (about 1/2 inch) over medium heat. Kitchen tip * To check to see if the oil is hot enough, put the end of a wooden spoon in the oil. If lots of bubbles form around the base of the spoon, it's ready!

Step 11: Place your chimichangas (seam side down) in your pan.

Step 12: Turn them over when they begin to brown (it won't take long!) If you are planning on eating these for a meal the same day you make them: you need to bake them at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until heated through. If you freeze these, and then take them out to bake- you need to bake them for 30-40 minutes.

Step 13: Keep repeating this until all of your chimichangas are browned!

Step 14: Place all your yummy condiments on the table! We use: sour cream, avocado, cheese, pico de gallo, salsa and chips.

Step 15: Serve with rice and chips!

Cost per meal: $9.00 (does not include toppings)

Cost per person (meal makes 16, serving size is 2 chimi's per person or 8 people): $1.13 per person

Share your family loved mexican style recipes with us!

What does your family enjoy?

Thursday: Salmon Patties and Couscous

So once a week my husband has a chance to show off his culinary skills in the kitchen. Who doesn't love a man who can and WILL cook for you? Usually we have something fish related. This week we are having his salmon patties. He grew up eating these and has tweaked his mom's recipe to his taste.

Here is what you need:

Milk, dill weed, saltine crackers, 2 cans of pink salmon (boneless and skinless) 1 egg

First you need to mix up your 2 cans of salmon (drained), 1 egg, 3/4 cups of milk, 1 tablespoon of dill weed. Then add crushed saltine crackers until desired consistency (we usually use about 1 pack of saltine crackers give or take).

You then need to let the mixture sit in the refrigerator for about 2-3 hours for the crackers to soak in the flavors.
After 2-3 hours has passed and you are ready for dinner. Now, heat up a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in your pan.

Shape the salmon mixture into patties. However many patties you make and how big you make them depends on how many people you are serving. We can make 3 big patties or 4 medium sized. These would also be great as tiny appetizers.

Cook them on medium low until golden brown on both sides.

Serve with Couscous (if you have never had couscous, it is found by the rice in a store) or side of your choice.

Meal cost (included couscous, excluding milk, eggs, dill and crackers): $5.00
Serves 4- cost per serving: $1.25

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Wednesday: Cranberry Walnut and Chicken Salad

I love, love LOVE this salad! I have made it for several people as a salad before a meal, but this time I made it my meal by adding chicken and bread.

If you haven't tried this salad before, it's a must!

Here is what you need:

Dried Cranberries, Feta Cheese, 2 cups baked chicken, Raspberry Vinagerette Dressing, Spinach leaves (or your choice of greens- Spring Mix is also great!), walnuts and mandarin oranges. I know it is a lot of ingredients, but you will have many of these ingredients (dressing, cranberries, feta, walnuts) on hand for future salads! What you buy should make 2 meals.

Step 1: Add greens to bowl

Step 2: Add the rest of ingredients!

Step 3: Top with dressing (Raspberry Vinagerette is really good, so is red wine vinegar)

I don't have exact measurements on how much of everything to add. I basically just eyeball it based on how much I am making.

My husband actually likes this salad (which says a lot!). He likes all the "extras" that you add that are not veggies!

Meal Serves: 4

Cost of Meal: $6.00
Cost Per Person: $1.50 (not too bad considering you have lots of ingredients left over!)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tuesday: Chicken Tetrazzini and Steamed Broccoli

This recipe is awesome. It is cheap and fairly easy to put together. I hope you enjoy it!

Here is what you need:

7 oz cooked spaghetti, 2 cups sour cream, 2 cans cream of chicken soup, 3 cups cooked chicken (about 1 1/4 lb), parmesan cheese, 1 stick butter

Step 1: Bake your chicken (if not already cooked), 350 for 30 minutes. I would advise doing this before the dinner hour. I always bake double what I need and then I can freeze the rest already baked for another recipe.

Step 2: Cook your pasta (7 oz) according to directions, drain and set aside

Step 3: Once your chicken has cooled, cut up into bite size pieces to equal 3 cups.

Step 4: Make cream sauce- Combine 2 cans Cream of Chicken soup

Step 5: Melt 1 stick of butter and add to bowl

Step 6: Add 2 cups of sour cream and mix together well

Step 7: Add the cream sauce and mix with the chicken and spaghetti

Step 8: Pour into casserole dish and add parmesan cheese on the top before baking

Step 9: Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes

Step 10: Enjoy with steamed veggies!
Here is my daughter LOVING this meal! My one year old also devoured it.

Meal Serves: 6

Cost of Meal: $6.00

Cost per Person: $1.00

Monday, February 15, 2010

Just wanted to share...

Happy Birthday to my little chef!

My daughter, Sophie Grace turns 2 today!

Monday: Maid Rite Loose Meat Sandwiches

Sweet maid-rite loose meat sandwiches are one of my favorite quick fix meals. I had my first maid-rite experience while living in Cedar Rapids, IA. Now that I am in Illinois, many people don't have a clue what a maid-rite is or even what it is supposed to taste like. I explain it like this: it's like a sloppy joe w/ out the mess and strong tomato flavor PLUS the addition of sweet carmelized brown sugar. TRUST ME, YOU WILL LOVE IT!

Here is what you need for a family of 4:

1 lb ground beef or turkey (or 2 lb depending on your family size), 1 med. onion, mustard, ketchup, worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, salt and pepper and buns.

Step 1: Chop up your medium onion. Yes, I have awesome Rachel Ray chopping skills! (okay, not really... but maybe someday!)

Step 2: Brown your hamburger and onion.

Mine looks like it's done! On to the next step...

Step 3: Drain your meat/onion and then place back into your pan

Step 4: Begin measuring out your ingredients: 1/2 cup ketchup, 1 tbs. worcestershire sauce, 1/2 cup water, 1 tb. mustard and 2 tb brown sugar (salt and pepper to taste). I did take a picture of adding all of the ingredients in the pan, but I think I accidentaly deleted it! Sorry!

Okay, I found one other picture... Here is the worcestershire sauce (okay, everytime I type that word I seriously have to look back at my recipe to make sure I don't spell it wrong!)

Step 5: Mix all ingredients together. This is where I let the meat sit and simmer for about 30-45 minutes to let it soak in all the goodness. You could seriously just serve it up as is if you are in a hurry. It's also a good idea to do some taste testing. Some people prefer more brown sugar and less ketchup. It's such an easy recipe to alter to your own tastes!

Step 6: Serve on a bun! You can eat this with a fork or just go for it!

Servings: approx. 4 sandwiches per lb of meat used