Saturday, March 31, 2012

King Ranch Chicken Casserole

The other night Andy and I had our evening planned to work in the garden, so Blair was head chef for the night. She decided on King Ranch Chicken Casserole with a salad on the side. It was quick, easy and very delicious. She used her recipe which included (small flour) tortilla shells. The version I've used for over 20 years calls for tortilla chips. Either way, you can't go wrong.

  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 can Rotel tomatoes
  • 1 can green chilies, chopped
  • 1 pack tortilla shells (or tortilla chips)
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese
  • 1 pack boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs stewed and shredded

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix soups, broth, tomatoes and chilies until well blended. (I like to add a pack of taco seasoning to this mixture for even more flavor!) Stir in chopped onion and shredded chicken.

Spray the bottom and sides of a large casserole dish. Layer half of: the tortillas, chicken and soup mixture and cheese. Repeat a second layer.

Bake in oven for 45 minutes.

Easy Biscuits

I like to fix these homemade mini biscuits from scratch to eat along with fried tenderloin, country ham end slices or sausage. They're the perfect size

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Crock Pot French Dip Sandwiches

When the weather is like it has been the past few weeks, I'm literally pulled to the outdoors. Working in an office with no windows to the outside world makes for a long day. The minute I walk out the front door, I can't wait to get home and have some time outside with Andy. Whether it's fooling with the garden or trimming shrubs...I don't care...I'm loving some fresh air!

As the days get nicer, I like fixing food that is quick, easy or can be working for me while I'm working. Between browsing Pinterest, emails and general comments between friends about food, Crock Pot French dip Philly cheese steak sandwiches have been the rave. A couple of weeks ago, I zero'd in on one emailed from the Just A Pinch Recipe Club and I thought I'd give it a try when Momma came over last night. I was a little disappointed that the recipe had absolutely no measurements for the spices. It would have helped to have a starting point so I could decide which way to go. I also don't keep Emeril's Essentials on hand and since there wasn't a measurement, I let it go. I thought it turned out very well. Momma loved it. Andy loved it. They both literally ate twice what they normally would there you go!

Before I left for work, I started a nice beef roast in the crock pot. 
I added: 
  • 1-16 oz. beer
  • 96 oz. beef broth 
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. garlic salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 package Lipton Onion Soup
This cooked on low from 6 am until 5 pm when I came home.

Remove the beef from the stock (au jus) and let it cool off.

Slice 1-2 sweet onions. In a medium skillet, at 1 tbsp. olive oil, 1 pat of butter and onions. Season with a little salt, pepper and sugar. Cook until they just start to soften a little.

Add one sliced colored pepper to the onions and saute until they slightly carmelize. 

Shred beef with a fork.

WMart has these light as air 6 count packs of wheat bolillios that are perfect to build your sandwich with. Since the bread isn't super dense, you actually get to enjoy tasting what you eat instead of just bread.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Split the rolls. Layer beef on one side and onions and peppers on the other. Top the meat with Swiss cheese. Place in oven until cheese is melted and bread is slightly toasted.

Serve up au jus in individual dipping bowls to soak your sandwich with.

Source: Just A Pinch Recipe Club

Monday, March 26, 2012

First Signs of Life

But if each man could have his own house, a large garden to cultivate and healthy surroundings - then, I thought, there will be for them a better opportunity of a happy family life.

George Cadbury

First asparagus!  Last year we watched it grow, fern out and seed. This year we may have enough to eat.

Planting potatoes. Can't wait until summer arrives and we have our first shrimp boil!

The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just on the body, but the soul.
Alfred Austin

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Baked Onion

Last night we decided on eating hamburger steaks, baked potatoes and a salad on the side. When I was getting my potatoes out, I noticed the onions, so I swapped the salad for a baked onion.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Spaghetti Meat Sauce

Sometimes we're in the mood for spaghetti and meatballs but I don't have time to fix the meatballs homemade. When that happens, I just put together a simple meat sauce that takes a fraction of the time and tastes just as good. I can only imagine you're sitting there thinking..."why not frozen meatballs and a can of already made sauce?" Well, once you find the right combination of spices you'll swear it's just as easy to fix homemade plus it tastes better! There is a bottle of pasta and pizza Sicilian style seasoning in my cabinet that is my go-to Italian blend. It's in a grinder bottle, so it smells heavenly when I'm seasoning my sauce. Every bite gives you a hint of multiple spices you just can't get out of a can of store-bought sauce.

Technically I should call this a meat and veggie sauce. Ya'll know how I go on about vacuum sealing veggies and meats. Well, remember those beautiful red and yellow peppers we bought a bunch of? You know they're getting chopped up and thrown in the sauce! 
  • 1 lb. hamburger meat
  • 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 8 oz. can tomato sauce (use tomato paste if you want a thick sauce!)
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 1 can mushrooms
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • Italian seasoning, salt and pepper to taste.
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Brown hamburger meat and onions together in a large, deep skillet. Season with salt and pepper. After draining excess grease, add garlic, bell pepper and mushrooms. Stir in crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes and sauce and allow to simmer for 20-30 minutes. Before serving, add grated Parmesan cheese and stir in well. 

Serve over cooked pasta of your choice with garlic bread.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Cowboy Beans

  • 2 big cans of pork and beans
  • 1 lb. hamburger meat
  • 1 small onion, finely, diced
  • 1 can of Manwich Sloppy Joe mix.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large skillet, add hamburger meat and diced onions. Cook until the meat is browned. Drain any excess grease. 

In a 9x13 casserole dish (aluminum pan if you don't want to have to scrub this off anything you keep!) mix beans and sloppy joe mix. 

Bake until bubbly. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Beer Bread

It doesn't get any easier than this! Well, with the exception of greasing up your bread pan. Put down the spray can and break out the Crisco and flour and do this pan up right so your bread pops out nicely.

  • 3 c self rising flour
  • 4 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 – 12 oz. can of beer

Mix flour and sugar. Add beer and stir well. Pour into a greased and floured pan (loaf). Melt about ½ stick butter. Pour over loaf before baking. 

Bake in oven 375 degrees for one hour.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Pistachio Nut Cake

St. Patrick's Day was this past Saturday and I was feeling something different and green for dessert to celebrate. Andy and I both love to munch on pistachios and I thought a Pistachio Nut Cake would be perfect! I tried to use "light" or sugar free when available and it still turned out really good. Andy told me next to a Pina Colada cake, this was his favorite. It's not rich, but it is moist and since you keep it refrigerated; it's perfect after a hot day.
  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 2 small boxes pistachio instant pudding
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup club soda
  • 1/2 cup chopped pistachios
  • 8 oz. whipped topping (use the 12 oz. container if you like a thick layer of icing)

Shell 1/2 cup pistachios.

Chop pistachios. 

In a large mixing bowl, blend cake mix and 1 box of the instant pudding.

Stir in eggs, vegetable oil and club soda (which will foam up). Mix in chopped pistachios. Grease and flour a bundt pan. Evenly pour batter in pan.

In a 350 degree preheated oven, bake the cake until it springs back when you touch it. (My oven took 50 minutes.) Let the cake cool for 10 minutes in the pan before you remove it!

Move cake to wire rack to cool.

Let it cool completely. 

The cake needs to be sliced in 2 layers. I placed toothpicks every 3 or so inches, as evenly as possible, for a guide to cut by.

With a long serrated knife, I cut the cake in half, turning the rack as needed until I cut it completely through.
What better way to serve a St. Patrick's Day cake than on a pretty green cake plate?

I placed the bottom on the cake plate and the top on the wire rack. It was still slightly warm in the center, so I let it cool a little more.

In a medium bowl, fold the second box of pistachio pudding mix into the whipped topping. Spread a layer of icing on the bottom half of the cake.

Place the top layer of the cake on top of the icing. If your cake was cut slightly uneven, be sure to reline it up as close as possible.

Cover the rest of the cake with the whipped topping icing. Keep refrigerated.

Hush puppies

If you fix catfish, hush puppies, and slaw are a must! When my boys were younger, Dale would eat us out of house and home when it came to fish and shrimp. Andrew hated all things seafood. If you asked him what his favorite seafood was, he'd say hush puppies.

Fried Catfish

Well, plans got changed Saturday and it ended up being just me and Andy hanging out at the house. What to fix for supper?? We thought catfish, hush puppies, and slaw would be the perfect menu after a beautiful, sunny 80 degree day in March.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

What to do with leftover cornbread and rolls

Andy and I hate to throw food away. With all  the people starving in in the world, it drives us crazy. If I ever have any meat left over, I try to incorporate it into another dish so we don't feel like we're eating the same thing again. Sometimes it doesn't work out. If we have a lot of meat, soup or veggies left over we will immediately freeze them. One investment we made in years ago was a food vacuum sealer. That item is worth every penny you spend on it. The bags may not be cheap; but they're priceless when you consider how good your food tastes when you get it out to eat. Another benefit is buying meats in bulk/on sale and then repackaging them based on how your family eats. How to properly vacuum seal different kinds of food will be another post for another day.

I like to make chicken and dressing every so often. If I have left over chicken, all I have to do is look for broth and cornbread/rolls I have in the deep freezer and it's a done deal.

When you have left over cornbread or yeast rolls, refrigerate them. After they've been in there a couple of days, they are easy to crumble into a fine consistency which is perfect for dressing or chicken and dressing.

The above picture is of a quart size vacuum seal bag. It typically contains 4-5 cups or so. That bag will be enough to make a 9"x9" casserole dish of dressing. 7-8 cups is what you use for a 9x13 pan and that amount gets stored in the gallon size bags. Always write what your food item is, date it and rotate it! You will be surprised at how hard it is to figure out what something is once it's vacuum sealed.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Corned Beef and Cabbage

Meme' fixed up a good ol' Irish dinner with a crockpot full of corned beef, cabbage, carrots and potatoes. Our family heritage on both sides is French-Canadian as far back you can see, but this is one of our favorites and what a perfect dish to celebrate St. Patrick's Day.

Last year she tried to rush it along. Lesson number one: corned beef brisket demands plenty of low and slow cooking time. The directions I'm supplying are for cooking while you're at work.


  • 1 3-4 lb. corned beef brisket
  • 3 tablespoons pickling spice (or packet of spices supplied with meat)
  • 1 pound carrots, chopped
  • 1 1/4 pounds red potatoes, quartered
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 head cabbage, cut into large chunks
  • 3 boxes low sodium chicken broth

    • Directions 
    Place the corned beef into the bottom of a large slow cooker. Pour chicken stock over meat and add the pickling spice. Cook on high for one hour. Turn down on low and let it cook for 10-12 hours.
    When you come home, cook cabbage, carrots, potatoes, and onion until slightly tender in a large pot of water. Drain well and add vegetables to crock pot. Let them cook for at least one hour in the crock pot to absorb the flavor.
    Slice the brisket across the grain for serving. Be sure to ladle some of the liquid on top of the meat and veggies.

    Wednesday, March 14, 2012

    Coconut Macaroons

     My daughter-in-law Amanda baked up this coconut goodness last night.
    What a perfect dessert to nibble on after enjoying dinner with an Asian flair!
    Coconut is one ingredient people love or hate. I love, love, love it. Just thinking about biting into a Mounds bar makes my mouth water.

    Potato Chip Cookies

    Potato Chip Cookies is a recipe from my Grandmother Gaudette's recipe box. She told me on my last trip to see her she liked to eat ice cream with bites of dark chocolate and potato chips. We laughed and then I thought about how yummy that bite of cold vanilla ice cream would be mingled with the sweetness and salty "sides" and was determined to give it a try. When I received her recipe file after her passing, this one was on top. Seeing it brought me back a year in time and that conversation and I knew why this recipe had the most important position in the box.

    To prepare: Bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.
    • 1 c margarine
    • ½ c sugar
    • 1-3/4 c flour
    • ½ c crushed potato chips
    • ½ c chopped nuts
    • 1 tsp. vanilla
    • 1 c chocolate chips
    Cream butter and sugar. Add next five ingredients, blend well. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes. Dust with confectioners sugar.
    Yields 4 dozen.

    Rolo Cookies

    Now that all the Girl Scout Cookies are gone, it's time to roll out a good cookie recipe. You can't go wrong with one calling for cocoa, brown sugar, pecans and Rolo candies. If you feel the need to pace yourself; it will be comforting to know the dough keeps for a few days in the fridge. 

    • 2-1/4 cups flour
    • ¾ cup cocoa powder
    • 1 tsp. baking soda
    • 1 cup softened butter
    • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
    • 1 cup white sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 2 tsp. vanilla
    • 1 cup pecans
    • 48 Rolo candies, unwrapped

    Mix flour, cocoa and soda with wire whisk and set aside. Cream butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla with mixer. Slowly add dry ingredients to creamed mixture until smooth. Add ¾ cup of the pecans and then refrigerate dough for at least 1 hour.

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    Mix remaining pecans with a half-cup of sugar in a small bowl. Form balls of the dough mixture around each Rolo and then roll each ball into the sugar/pecan mixture.

    Bake on parchment paper for 12-15 minutes. Dough will keep in fridge for a couple of days.