1.16.2012

Overnight Breakfast Casserole

Sunday is a day of worship, family, and rest in our family. Which means more times than not, we would sleep until the last possible moment we could, and then rush around getting ready for church. We would be forced to listen to our stomachs grumble throughout church, and then bolt for the door as soon as service was done so that we could get something to eat. By getting up an extra 15 minutes earlier than I normally would, I can pop this in the oven, shower, get dressed, and eat before it's time to get Peanut up and ready. We enjoy fellowship after church, and we're no longer in such a stinkin' rush! The original recipe can be found here.

Ingredients
1 pound sausage
1/2 bell pepper, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
6 large eggs
2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Dash cayenne pepper
6 slices bread , cubed, and then dried or toasted
1 1/2 cups sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded

Directions
HEAT a large skillet over medium heat. Crumble in the sausage; brown over medium heat until no longer pink. Add the bell pepper and onions, and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Drain sausage mixture well on paper towels to absorb excess grease.

BEAT eggs, milk, and seasonings in a large mixing bowl until smooth and well blended. Stir in the drained sausage mixture and remaining ingredients (bread cubes and shredded cheese). Pour the mixture into a lightly buttered 9x13-inch square baking dish; cover and refrigerate overnight.

REMOVE from the refrigerator. (I place mine on top of the stove while the oven preheats.) Bake in preheated 350 degree F oven for 40-50 minutes, until eggs are set and lightly browned. A knife inserted near center should come out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Roasted Chicken and Root Veggies

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Ina Garten's recipes! While some of them can be a little difficult to prepare, or require some fancy ingredients, they are easily adaptable for my family, and are for the most part, simple and elegant. This recipe is one of those. Every time I've prepared a chicken this way, it's come out perfectly roasted and oh so tasty! Plus, the leftover chicken is great for other meals, as the seasonings are very minimal! Enjoy!

Ingredients
1 (5 to 6-pound) roasting chicken
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 heads garlic, cut in 1/2 crosswise
1 lemon, halved
1/2 large Spanish onion, thickly sliced
4 carrots cut diagonally into 2-inch chunks
2 large Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 6 pieces
4 tablespoons butter, melted

Directions

PREHEAT the oven to 425 degrees F.

PAT the outside of the chicken dry with paper towels. Liberally salt the inside of the chicken, and stuff the cavity with the all the garlic and lemon. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Place it in a roasting pan just large enough to hold it and the vegetables. Scatter the onion slices, carrots and potatoes around the chicken. Brush the outside of the chicken with the butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

ROAST the chicken for 1 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh. Remove the chicken to a platter and cover with aluminum foil. Place the vegetables back in the oven and continue cooking for an additional 15 minutes.

CARVE the chicken and serve with the vegetables when they are done roasting. Drizzle some pan juices over the chicken and vegetables.

*Save the carcass for making chicken stock!

Slow-cooker Oatmeal

I have fond memories of eating oatmeal as a child. My mother would make quick-cooking oats in a coffee cup in the microwave for me to eat as she drove me to school in the morning. I don't know if it was the novelty of eating oatmeal from a coffee cup, or the oatmeal itself with it's melted brown sugar and shot of milk that made me enjoy it as much as I did. I still love eating oatmeal today as much as I did back then (out of a coffee cup, of course), especially when it's this easy to cook! Original recipe found here. Please note, even though it doesn't say, Alton's recipe is for a 2-quart slow cooker. I have adapted mine for a 4-quart. Please take that into consideration when making yours.

Ingredients
2 cup steel cut oats
3 cup dried fruit of your choice (I prefer raisins, although I will sometimes use a fresh chopped apple or two. It's usually whatever I have on hand.)
1 Tbsp vanilla
2 tsp cinnamon
8 cups water
1 cup half-and-half

Directions

GREASE crock of slow-cooker before adding ingredients. This will help the oatmeal from sticking to the sides.
ADD all ingredients to the greased crock, and stir to combine. Set heat to LOW. Cover and let cook for 8 to 9 hours. (I prefer to do this right before going to bed. That way I can wake up to mug of warm oatmeal first thing in the morning!)

STIR before serving.

*Cooked oatmeal freezes surprisingly well! Just divide remaining cooled oatmeal into individual serving sizes (this recipe makes 8 servings) and freeze. When ready to eat, I just pop one in the microwave for about 2 1/2 to 3 minutes, or until heated through.

BBQ Turkey Chili

I had to think long and hard as to whether or not I wanted to post this recipe. It's one that I always get good reviews on, and so it's always the one that I take when someone needs a meal. It also freezes so well, and is good to have on hand for those days when you don't want to cook. But then the Husband pointed out that I "borrowed" the original recipe from Rachel Ray in the first place, and so it wasn't really a secret. Hopefully you'll enjoy it as much as we do. Enjoy!

Ingredients
2 pounds ground turkey
4 Tbsp dark chili powder
2 Tbsp grill seasoning blend, any brand (I prefer Mrs. Dash Chicken Grilling Blend)
1 Tbsp cumin
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 large onion, roughly chopped
2 large bell peppers, any color combination, roughly chopped
1/2 bottle beer (the alcohol cooks out), about 1 cup (I substitute chicken broth)
1 (14-ounce) can tomato sauce
1/2 cup of your favorite barbecue sauce
2 cups corn kernels
1 (15-ounce) can dark kidney beans (if you're like me, and cook your own from dried, add 1 1/2 cups cooked beans)
1 to 3 Tbsp hot sauce, depending on taste

Directions
HEAT a large pot over medium to medium high heat. Add the turkey meat, and season with the chili powder, grill seasoning, cumin, and Worcestershire sauce. Break up the meat with the back of the spoon into small crumbles. Brown meat for about 5 minutes, then add onions and bell peppers, and cook 10 minutes more.

ADD beer (or chicken broth) and deglaze the pan, scraping up the drippings. Add tomato sauce, barbecue sauce, corn kernels, and beans, and bring to a bubble. Let chili simmer for at least 10 minutes (this is one of those recipes were it gets better and better the longer it cooks). Add hot sauce (I recommend tasting and adjusting seasonings and heat level before adding it; some barbecue sauces are spicier than others!).

REMOVE from heat and serve. The Husband and I prefer to eat ours over corn muffins, topped with some shredded Cheddar cheese and a dollop of sour cream. The website for the original recipe gives all sort of suggestions for dippers, scoopers, and toppers.

*To cook in a slow cooker, complete step one, and then transfer meat mixture to the cooker. Add remaining ingredients. Cook on LOW for at least 2 hours.

**To make a double batch, use two pots, rather than one massive pot that is hard to control.

Dump Coke/BBQ Chicken

The name of this recipe does not make it sound appealing, but trust me, it is! This is another recipe that freezes beautifully, both before and after cooking.The original recipe calls for chicken pieces. I suppose that this could be made with boneless, skinless tenders or thighs and then served over rice. I had chicken breasts and buns on hand, and made the executive decision to serve it as a sammich... I also served this with potato salad, and the Husband did nothing but rave about it afterwards!


Ingredients 
4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup of your favorite barbecue sauce 
1 tsp garlic powder 
1 tsp onion powder 
12 ounces Coke  
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions
MIX barbecue sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, Coke, salt and pepper in large freezer bag. Add chicken. Massage chicken through bag to ensure that chicken is coated. Freeze. (I froze half of the recipe immediately, and used the other half that night. 4 pounds of chicken is quite a lot for two adults!)

THAW overnight in the refrigerator when ready to serve.

EMPTY contents of freezer bag into slow cooker.* Cook on LOW for 8 hours, or on HIGH for 4. (I prefer low and slow, as I think it makes for juicier meat, but that's just my preference). About a half hour before serving, remove chicken to a large bowl and shred it using two forks. Return meat to sauce, and stir to combine. If it isn't already, turn slow cooker to HIGH, and cook for another 30 minutes, uncovered. This will allow the sauce to thicken.

SERVE on buns with toppings such as sliced cheese, lettuce, mayo.

*To cook in the oven, preheat it to 350 degrees F. Dump contents of freezer bag into a greased pan. Cook for about 30 minutes, basting with marinade during cooking. Remove chicken from oven and shred it using two forks. Return meat to sauce, and stir to combine. Return meat to oven and allow to heat through, about another 5 minutes.

1.12.2012

Sweet Potato - Chicken Bake

I wanted a dish that I could make for the Husband and myself that was tasty, but also one that I could process a little for the Peanut. This seemed to be a good balance between the two. Not only did it come out of the oven nice and tasty, but it processed fine for Peanut, AND it froze wonderfully! The original recipe calls for half-and-half or cream and wine. I didn't do either, as the bebe was going to be eating some as well. The original recipe can be found here.

Ingredients
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic,chopped
2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
2 carrots diced
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, diced
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 cup chicken stoc

Directions
PREHEAT the oven to 400 degrees F.

HEAT the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook until just starting to turn golden. Mix in the sweet potatoes and carrot; cook and stir for a few minutes, until lightly browned.

MOVE the vegetables to plate; set aside. Add the chicken, adding more olive oil if necessary (it was necessary for me, but I'm sure my veggies were just thirsty...). Cook and stir until seared on all sides. Scatter the flour over the top, and stir it in. Gradually stir in the chicken stock, mixing carefully so that no flour lumps form. Scrape any bits of food from the bottom of the pan while you do this. Add veggies and any juice from plate back into chicken mixture, stirring gently to combine. Transfer to two 8-inch baking dishes and cover with aluminum foil.

BAKE for 1 hour in the preheated oven. Remove from the oven, and let rest before serving.

SERVE over rice or mashed potatoes, with a mixed green, tossed salad.

*To freeze - When sweet potato and chicken mixture is in baking dishes, allow to cool, and cover with aluminum foil; freeze. When ready to serve, thaw overnight in refrigerator. Continue to bake as directed.

Week of January 9, 2012

Well, the holidays are over, the family is all gone, and Old Mother Hubbard’s cupboards are bare! Well, nearly so… After three weeks of planning for holiday meals, luncheons and the like, it’s finally time to get back to cooking for my little family again. Ahhhhh, the relief! This week I’m going to try to be using up (frozen) leftovers from holiday dinners, baptism (!) luncheons, and the like, so I apologize if this week’s menu plan seems a little out of whack. Also, I apologize for the lack of pictures during this week. Man, it doesn't take much to throw me off!

Monday
     Dinner - Sweet Potato - Chicken Bake, tossed salad

Tuesday
     Dinner - Dump Coke/BBQ Chicken, potato Salad

Wednesday
     Dinner - Leftovers

Thursday 
     Dinner - BBQ Turkey Chili, corn muffins

Friday
     Dinner - Out With Friends

Saturday
     Breakfast - Overnight Oatmeal
     Dinner - Roasted Chicken and Root Veggies, tossed salad

Sunday
     Breakfast - Overnight Breakfast Casserole
     Dinner - Beef Fajitas, Nina’s Mexican Rice, corn muffins

Freezer Stock Plan
     Chicken Stock

Baby Food Stock Plan

New Year’s Resolutions (Or, “Hoping on The Bandwagon”…)

I know that this post is coming at almost a week late, but the dust of the past few weeks is just now settling down at our house. For those of you who don’t know, we hosted not one, not two, but THREE Christmas get-togethers at our place. Follow that a week later with New Year celebrations. Follow THAT a week later with a family party and a baptism/Profession of Faith/baptism. This results in the utter and complete breakdown of any semblance of normalcy!

But enough with the excuses; now is not the time for such jibber jabber. All of this dilly-dallying has given me time to mull over the things in my life that I’d like to work on this year. Nothing mind-blowing or earth shattering. Possibly things that I should have had together since welcoming our daughter into our lives over NINE MONTHS AGO! I’ve refined my list down to five essential elements. As I dive deeper into them, I know that they’ll expand into something more. Maybe even something less. Who knows for sure? For now, though, they are:
  1. Cook more. In the past, I’ve tried to get something easy and healthy onto the table for my husband and I. This has become increasingly more difficult since Peanut’s birth. I’ll admit that there have been weeks lately (weeks!) were I haven’t cooked a thing, and have instead sent Husband out for fast food. Hopefully I haven’t gone too far down the rabbit hole to turn this ugly habit around. Promise me you won’t judge! I have fragile feelings.
  2. Clean more. Okay, time to be honest. I’m a lazy housekeeper. When coupled with two pets, a Husband who works in concrete, and an increasing mobile Peanut, this habit makes for one grody house. With the help of several resources, I’m going to work on turning my laziness around. Enough said.
  3. Create more. I used to be creative. Not so much anymore. However. I’m addicted to Pinterest, the crafty person’s crack, and the pins for projects that I’d love to do are slowly overtaking my boards. It’s time to start making time to work on them. Time to reclaim crafty Me!
  4. Spend more time with the family unit. Not too long ago I saw a post on another blog. It was about putting down the phone/computer/tablet/ whatever and being a better parent. Yikes! That hit close to home, as my smartphone and I are fused at the hand. It hurt, and it made me reevaluate my parenting style. And to set some rules around the house. The tv does not come on at home until 7pm. No internet surfing until then. When the Peanut goes to bed, the Husband and I watch at least one show together that we agree on. We eat dinner in the dinning room. Together. All three of us. We'll see if we can stick to this. I think if we can, it'll make us a better familial unit...
  5. Post more. The reasoning behind this blog is the same reasoning that is behind weighing-in at Weight Watchers; it holds you responsible. I blog that I'm going to do something, hopefully I'll do it. I mean, I don't want to be a liar. Heaven forbid!

I've spent my allotted time for the day. It's time to go. But before I do, I've shown mine, snow you have to show me yours. These are my goals for 2012. What are yours?