Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Taco salad

Couldn't decide what to have for dinner tonight.  I wanted soup, perfect day for it, but didn't have the chance to look up a recipe before we went out to run errands and buy a few groceries.  Ended up deciding on taco salad.  One fatal flaw in my plan is that Target doesn't sell tomatoes (at least I didn't see any) which I figured was ok since I had salsa at home, except that I didn't.  The taco salad really could have used some tomatoes or salsa on it but it was still good.  This is also the recipe I use for taco meat when we have tacos.

Taco Salad
serves 4

For the meat:
 modified from Joy of Cooking
2 Tbsp. veg. oil
1/2 medium red onion, minced (I usually leave this out since I don't have them on hand)
1 lb ground beef
1-3 cloves garlic, minced (I use 3)
1 Tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. ground coriander
dash of salt
1 c tomato sauce

Heat the oil in a medium skillet until hot and add the onion.  Cook stirring often until softened.  Add the meat and cook until no longer pink.  Stir in the garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander, and salt.  Cook and stir for 30 seconds then add the tomato sauce.  Cook, stirring occasionally over low heat for 10 minutes.

Rest of the salad:
chopped/shredded lettuce
sliced green onion
1 tomato, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
shredded cheese, cheddar or Monterey Jack
tortilla chips (we used the Tostitos Crispy Rounds)

Layer in a bowl, starting with the chips on the bottom, then lettuce, meat, cheese and the rest of the toppings.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


If pumpkin is my love in the fall, cranberries are my favorite in winter.  I love cranberries in just about any form, except it's "natural state" as my husband calls it...that would be in a cylindrical form with ridges on the side.  Don't really care for cranberries that way, but any other way I love them.  I LOVE the Ocean Spray commercials on tv, they're quite funny.  I was pretty excited to see their cranberry bog in Epcot when we were at Disney earlier this month.

So tonight after I got the stew going for dinner I made a couple of cranberry dishes to take with us for Thanksgiving dinner, first was cranberry-orange relish then a cranberry pie dessert.  I'll have more cranberry recipes to share in coming weeks.

Cranberry-Orange Relish

1 bag of fresh cranberries (can be frozen)
1 seedless navel orange
1/4-1/2 c walnut pieces

Using a food processor, chop the cranberries.  Cut the orange into quarters then chop it and the walnuts.  Mix together in a bowl.  Add sugar to taste.  This is pretty subjective but you want a nice blend of sweet and tart.  Start with about 1/4 c of sugar, mix and let it sit for a few minutes.  Taste and add more sugar if needed.

Cranberry Pie Dessert
In family history, this recipe came to us from my brother's second grade class.  I think they must have made it for their Thanksgiving "dinner" at school.

2 c raw cranberries
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c chopped nuts
2 eggs, beaeten well
1 c sugar
1 c flour
1/2 c butter, melted

Grease a 10" pie pan.  Mix cranberries, 1/2 c sugar, and nuts.  Press into bottom of pan.  Beat eggs with 1 c sugar; add flour and butter.  Beat well and pour over cranberry mix in pan.  Spread it to cover.

Bake at 325* for 60 minutes until golden brown.

The recipe I copied this from says that it freezes well, but I only make one when I need one and there's never any to freeze.  Maybe I should try making two and freezing one?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Chili and Beer Bread

I was on the phone catching up with my mom when I realized that I'd better get busy with something for dinner.  Found some ground turkey in the freezer, knew I had beans and diced tomatoes in the pantry, and I had some beer bread mix (Tastefully Simple), sounds like chili with beer bread.  I also found some leftover rice in the fridge so that's going into the mix as well.


1 lb. ground beef or turkey
1 onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 small green pepper, diced
1 small can tomato sauce
salt & pepper
1 Tbsp. chili powder

Brown the ground beef, onion, and garlic. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 10-15 minutes.  Add more or less chili powder to taste.

Beer Bread

The easy way - use a package of Tastefully Simple beer bread; mix and bake according to package directions.

The not quite as easy, but still pretty easy, way (from Joy of Cooking) -

1 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. old fashioned rolled oats
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. light or dark beer (not stout), cold or at room temperature, but not flat

Preheat oven to 400*. Grease loaf pan.  Whisk together in a large bowl all ingredients except the beer.  Add the beer and fold just until the dry ingredients are moistened.  Scrape the batter into the pan and spread evenly.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center and all the way to the bottom of the pan comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes.  Let cool in the pan on a rack for 5-10 minutes before unmolding to cool completely on the rack.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Chicken with cheesy rice and broccoli

Tonight I had to help at church with the senior high youth so I needed a quick dinner.  This meal is a good example of how just a little bit of meat can stretch to feed a family.

Chicken with cheesy rice and broccoli

1 chicken breast (mine was pretty darn big)
1 box of Rice a Roni Broccoli au Gratin
1 cup-ish of broccoli flourets

Cut the chicken into bit sized pieces.  Heat some oil or butter in a skillet and add the chicken.  Cook until browned; add the rice and brown a bit.  Following the directions on the rice box, add water and the seasonings, stir and cook following the directions.  Cook the broccoli in either the microwave or in a pot just until tender.  When the chicken/rice is done, stir in the broccoli and serve.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pot Roast

It's been a busy week, but I've been able to get the dinner on the table in good time most nights since I had a plan.  I had to shift things around a bit because I forgot to get the pot roast out of the freezer in time to make it but it worked just as well the night I did make it.  I had the plan, just forgot the details like taking the meat out of the freezer.  I have two different ways that I make it and I'll post both here.

Pot Roast #1

3-4 lb pot roast
2 medium onions, sliced
1 28-oz can of crushed tomatoes
salt & pepper

Put the sliced onions on the bottom of the crockpot and place the meat on top.  Season with salt and pepper.  Pour the crushed tomatoes over top.  Cook on low 8 hours.  Serve with noodles on the side and put the tomato/onion on top of everything.

Pot Roast #2

3-4 lb pot roast
4 potatoes, peeled and cut in chunks
2 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
1 onion, sliced
1 package of onion soup mix

Put the vegetables on the bottom of the crockpot and put the meat on top.  Dump the soup mix on top and add 1-2 cups of water.  Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Stuffed Acorn Squash

I haven't made stuffed acorn squash in a long time.  I used to just make it up as I went along - some sausage, maybe chopped apples, onion, bread crumbs.  Always turned out well.  Not sure why I haven't made it since it's something I really like and it really has the feeling of fall to it.  I found this recipe in the same Family Circle where I got the Korean Rice Bowl.  They had 10 recipes for ground beef beyond the burger and so far the ones we've tried have been a hit.

Stuffed Acorn Squash

2 medium acorn squash, halved and seeds removed
4 slices of bacon, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 Granny Smith Apple, peeled, cored and diced
1 lb ground beef
1/4 c dark brown sugar
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp dried sage
1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
2 Tbsp dry bread crumbs

Heat oven to 350*.  Place squash halves cut-side down on a rimmed dish.  Add 2 cups water to dish and bake for 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat for 4 minutes.  Add onion and aple.  Cook an additional 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir in ground beef.  Cook, breaking meat apart with a wooden spoon, 5 minutes.  Add brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, sage, salt and pepper.  Cook 1 minute.  Remove from heat and stir in bread crumbs.

Drain water from baking dish and flip over squash.  Spoon meat mixture into squash halves.  Return to oven and bake at 350* for 20 minutes.  Serve warm.

I made the meat filling ahead of time, except for adding the bread crumbs.  When I was ready to fix dinner, I cooked the squash as directed, added the bread crumbs to the meat mixture, and continued on.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Grilled Lamb Chops with Shiraz Reduction

I'm going to post this recipe while I can still find it.  While at Disney last week, we were there during the Epcot Food & Wine Fest.  One night we snacked our way around the world, with stops in Singapore, South Africa, Mexico, and Australia.  Probably the best thing we had was the lamb chops from Australia.  The chops were so yummy, seasoned really nicely, grilled to perfection and the sauce was very tasty.  Epcot has a handful of the recipes from the Festival online and that's where I found this one.  So before the paper I printed it out on gets lost, here it is.  It's already been requested for Easter dinner!

Grilled Lamb Chops with Shiraz Reduction

For the Lamb Chops:
3/4 c olive oil
1 Tbsp. lime zest
2 Tbsp. lime juice
1 Tbsp. finely chopped garlic
1/4 c finely chopped mint
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp salt
8 Australian lamb chops

For the Shiraz reduction:
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 c thinly sliced onions
1 Tbsp. finely chopped garlic
Coarse salt, freshly ground pepper, to taste
3 c Shiraz wine

Combine olive oil, lime zest, lime juice, garlic, mint, pepper, and salt in a shallow dish large enough to place the lamb chops in one layer.  Coat both sides of the chops in the marinade and leave for 2 hours at room temperature, or up to 24 hours refrigerated.

For the sauce, melt butter in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add onions and garlic and saute for 8 to 10 minutes, or until golden.  Season with salt and pepper.  Stir in wine and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for at least 1 hour, or until mixture thickens and reduces to approximately 1 cup.  The glaze should be the consistency of syrup.

Grill the chops for 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until desired doneness.  Serve 2 chops per person with Shiraz sauce.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Chili-Mac Soup

Just getting back from vacation, I had no plan for dinner, no groceries really either so today I spent a bit of time menu planning for the next few days and getting my grocery list ready.  I also quickly flipped through a few of the blogs that I follow and that's where I found this recipe.  I had been thinking about chili for tonight so this Chili-Mac Soup sounded perfect!

Chili-Mac Soup
modified from Kathie Cooks

1 lb. ground beef
1/4 c. chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can black beans, drained
1 can sweet corn, drained
3 cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can tomato soup (I used Campbell's condensed)
1 can chopped green chili
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 carton beef broth
1/2 box of macaroni, cooked and drained
Toppings:  shredded cheddar cheese, Fritos

Cook the macaroni according to the package and drain.  In a skillet brown the ground beef with the onion and garlic.  When both of these are done, put everything into a large soup pot, stir and cook to boiling.  Top each serving with some shredded cheddar cheese and Fritos.


We just got back last night from an awesome five days in Disney, which means that I haven't cooked in many days and we had lots of eating out.  We stayed at the All Star Sports Resort, a first for us; usually we stay at the Fort Wilderness Campground.  I have to say, we really enjoyed the food at the resort; it was tasty, had enough of a variety to please all of us, and was freshly made.  I had salmon there twice for dinner, really good.  Sweet Pea and Bob both had salads one night; they were individually tossed for them and topped with some really good steak.  For breakfast, Sweet Pea and I both enjoyed the Western Omelet with home fries (twice!) and Rosie Jane had Mickey waffles with strawberry topping.

We also ate a lot in the parks.  I think Bob's favorite was the rib lunch he got in Animal Kingdom.  We also had our share of cheeseburgers which were mostly good.  The best (I think) were the ones in Hollywood Studios with onion straws underneath. One thing I was disappointed about was not getting to the Backlot Express before they closed.  They have a really good Southwest Salad that I wanted to get.  I had it the last time we were there and was disappointed to have missed out this time.  Instead we went to the ABC Commissary and I got the fish and chips there (they were fine, but would have liked the salad better).

We had the quick serve meal plan and made full use of it.  We each had two quick serve meals plus two snacks each day.  We usually ate lunch and dinner in the parks (or dinner a couple of times at the hotel where we had come back to rest before heading out again for the evening).  For snacks, we sometimes got water bottles but we also enjoyed the Mickey ice cream bars, frozen bananas, and lots of popcorn.  A couple of days we used our snack allotment and got bagels or muffins for breakfast. 

Probably the best use of our snacks was at Epcot.  We were there during the Epcot Food and Wine Festival.  Yummy!!  We stopped at several countries booths to taste some different food.  Bob got something at the Singapore booth that sounded good (and smelled good) but was too spicy for him.  I thought it was good.  Then Rosie Jane got some steak over sweet potatoes from South Africa.  Awesome!  The steak was tender on a bed of mashed sweet potatoes.  Wandered some more, smelled awesome things as we walked by South Korea (a long line there), made a quick stop in Mexico to try the shrimp tacos and flan. The taco was great, I wasn't a big fan of the flan but Bob and Rosie Jane liked it. Then we made our way to Australia.  Got some REALLY tasty lamb chops there.  It was on a bed of red potato salad with a shiraz reduction sauce.  I got a glass of Greg Norman's shiraz to go with the lamb.  After that we split up and Sweet Pea decided that she was hungry after all and so I got in line to get her some lamb and I just had to try the shrimp on the barbie (tasty with a spicy berry sauce).  I need to go to the Food and Wine Festival's website to find the recipe for the lamb chops; it's been requested for Easter dinner.

All in all, we had a great time at Disney and had some really good food but I'm glad to be home.  Even using the quick serve dining plan with no sit down meals, I still feel like there was an abundance of food.  I'll be glad to get back to more normal food portions.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Bubble and Squeak

No, I'm not writing about bubble baths or dog toys.  Bubble and squeak is a British dish that I found a while back that uses cabbage and potatoes.  It's a simple, tasty dish.

Bubble and Squeak
serves 4

5-6 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into small chunks
1/2 small head of cabbage, sliced, then cut crossways (you'll end up with squares)

Put the cabbage and potatoes into a pot and cover with water.  Boil until potatoes are tender.  Drain.  Heat a cast iron skillet and melt some butter in it.  Add the potatoes and cabbage.  Lightly mash the mixture and cook until lightly browned.  Season with salt and pepper.