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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Weekly Menu 5/28+

Hobo packs on the grill
Brats & Buns
Smoked Chicken
Grilled Corn
Cousin Eleanor's
Chicken Parmesan
Angel Hair Pasta
Blueberries & Yogurt
Aunt Gladys'
King Ranch Chicken
Grandma's favorite:
Sea Island Shrimp Salad
Grandma's Buttered Noodles
Green Beans

  1. If you are using a grill in South Texas, please be careful not to start a wildfire; it's a tinder box out there.
  2. These are great to take along camping because you can customize them to each person's tastes AND you can make them before you leave the comfort of home. Of course you could camp the weekend in your air-conditioned house. If you want you can sleep on the floor and turn off the air to make it more authentic, but I'll rough it and keep the air going. I might as well sleep in my bed too.
Hobo Packs
  • ¼+ lb ground beef, per pack
  • sliced potatoes, carrots, onions, etc
  • corn, green beans, okra, tomatoes, mushrooms, etc
  • seasonings: salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, etc
  • optional items: cream of mushroom soup, butter, bbq sauce, etc
Spread out a large piece of foil for each pack you need. Throw down some seasonings, place meat on the bottom. Season the meat on top side. Top with the more tender veggies like okra, green beans etc, add in your sauce option if you want one, and then finish off with root veggies since these will take the longest to cook. Fold up sides, rolling edges together so they don’t leak everywhere.

If you are truly cooking these in an open fire, begin your initial layer with an outer leaf of cabbage and then top the final layer with another leaf of cabbage, write the names on the foil now. Then cover with another layer of foil so that when you pull them out of the ashes you can take off the outer layer of foil and discover whose food is partially ready, burned, raw, and filled with ash all on the same plate. Or you can cook them on the gas grill; at home. :)
  • Graham crackers
  • Marshmallows; Smarshmallows, if your name starts with J
  • chocolate bar; hershey's dark is a great idea.
1. Use the very basic Betty Crocker brownie mix and add ½ c chocolate chips. It will be the best brownies ever.
Brats & Buns
Smoked Chicken
Grilled Corn
  1. I realize the purpose of Memorial Day is to remember those who fell in battle defending our country, and I don’t want to minimize that at all. Although none of these ladies died while cooking I thought we could have our own 'Memorial' of them since they are all gone now.
  2. Cousin Eleanor was my dad's cousin on his mother's side. Cousin Eleanor was married to Bill, and after serving in the Navy during WW2 he helped erect the tv antenna on top of the Empire State Building. She's with Jesus now and we make this recipe in memory of some fabulous meals that came out of her tiny Queen's kitchen. The meals lasted for two hours and had 5-6 courses. This one will be a might shorter, but it is just like something she cooked for me once. :)
Chicken Parmesan
  • Boneless chicken breasts
  • Egg
  • Equal parts: Italian seasoned breadcrumbs/Parmesan
Place beaten egg in shallow dish and throw in a little milk if you think you need it. Dip chicken in egg mixture and dredge through breadcrumbs/parm mixture that is in another shallow bowl. Place on foil lined pan and bake 20-25 min.
Angel Hair Pasta with Spaghetti sauce
Blueberries & Vanilla Yogurt

  1. Aunt Gladys was married to Uncle Jim (L's mother's brother), they lived in Buckholts, but now they live in heaven. This is one of the first things I learned to cook when I got married.
  2. Green onions don’t last too long in the fridge, however you can chop them up and put them in a ziploc bag in the freezer. They'll keep for several months and you can just pour out the ones you need next time you need them.
  3. You can cook the King Ranch in a crockpot all day or in the oven once you get home.

King Ranch Chicken
  • 2 c cooked chicken or turkey
  • 1 can Rotel
  • 1 can cream of mushroom
  • 1 can mushrooms
  • 8 corn tortillas, cut in 6 triangles
  • 2 c grated cheddar cheese
  • ¼ c chopped green onion
Combine first four ingredients and place in crock pot to cook all day. When you get home add corn tortillas, cheese and green onion. Stir to combine and serve.

Alternately, you can combine first four ingredients and put half in a 9x13 pan. Add a layer of tortillas and half of cheese, top with remaining chicken mixture and other half of cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until heated through and bubbly.


  1. My grandmother was not much of a cook, but she loved to eat out and she loved Sea Island. Thursday this week, and Monday's for the rest of the summer, is our new salad for supper day so it's only appropriate that we have this one to remember her.
Shrimp Salad
  • ¾ c mayo
  • 2oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tsp cider vinegar
  • 1T sugar
  • 1T dried dill weed
  • 1lb frozen baby boiled peeled shrimp; thawed
  • 1/3 c finely chopped celery
  • ¼ c finely chopped onion
  • tomato cut in wedges, per person
  • boiled egg
  • carrot sticks
Combine the first five ingredients and then fold in shrimp and veggies. Chill all day. Then chill after an easy night in the kitchen.

  1. Remember when I said my Grandma didnt like to cook? Well she made some mean noodles; smothered in browned butter and sprinkled with breadcrumbs. She didn't waste time with oleo, she went straight for the real mccoy. I could eat mounds of the stuff.
Browned Butter Noodles
  • 8oz cooked egg noodles, medium if you can find them, well drained
  • ¼ c butter
  • salt to taste
  • white breadcrumbs from canister
Make sure your noodles are well drained, you don’t want any water getting in the way of the browned buttery goodness. Melt the butter in a small pan allowing it to foam up and get slightly brown on the bottom. Use 'The Google' if you want some pictures to go along with my extensive directions. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs.
Green Beans

Grocery Deals 5/25

Sprouts onions .49/lb, cluster tomatoes .99, lettuce .99, avocado .99, cantaloupe .99, blackberries .77 (6oz) (vs .98 Sun Harvest)

Sun Harvest blueberries 1.99, strawberries 1.99 (vs 2.50 Randalls), cantaloupe .99, seedless watermelon $3, tomatoes .99/lb, onions .49/lb, spinach .99

Randalls legs/thighs .88/lb,
with coupon (but no minimum): ribeye steak 4.99, oscar mayer hotdogs .99 (limit 5), or you could buy the 3lb pack for $5, but you can only pay more like that on Friday, it's their 'special'.

HEB corn 6/$1 (vs 4/$1 Randalls, .49 Sprouts/Sun Harvest), yellow squash .88 (vs .99 Sun Harvest), peaches .97, noodles $1, cream cheese $1, brats 1.97 (vs Randalls 2.66/lb), boneless chicken 1.97/lb, fajita chicken/pork 1.97/lb

Friday, May 20, 2011

Your Future Self

Helping out your future self. I've read a number of articles over at The Simple Dollar about controlling your spending so that your future self doesn't have to pay the bill. That wasn't really sinking in because I was already on a very aggressive debt repayment plan and not continuing to dig the debt hole any deeper.  Honestly I just wasn't getting it.  

Then this morning as I was getting ready for work this idea of 'helping' your future self really hit home in a very practical and physical sense. Two instances came in quick succession. The first, when I reached for my last pair of contacts in my drawer where I keep a 'row' of contacts as they come out of the bigger box.

I thought, you know I could help myself out by getting the next set and putting them out now instead of waiting until Wednesday morning when I got to reach for them and realize I need to go to my back up source. So I did.  This morning when I reached in for a new set of 'eyes' it didn't even cross my mind what I had done for myself Monday morning.  

Next it was time for drying out my ears with a Q-tip (yes, I know you are only supposed to put your elbow in your ear) and I reached over to the little juice glass where we keep them and it was full. It was full because the night before I had noticed that the glass was empty (not half-empty, but fully empty) and decided I could fill that right then.

Finally, I started to really get the whole idea of helping out your future self. What else could I do this morning to help out the future me; unload the dishwasher? Chop an onion? Pack your lunch the night before?  Get your gym bag ready so you wont have the excuse of not having it the next day.  

If I hadn't already, I could have planned supper and gotten some meat out of the freezer. Remember in Bill and Ted's Great Adventure how they started leaving things like keys and notes for themselves? Ok, I digress, but it's the same concept.

Of course now I am finally starting to see the application for your money. Don't buy that shiny new thing today and make your future self pay for it by putting in on a credit card. Instead pay cash, or consider not even buying it at all.

So what can you do for your future self?

I'd like to point out that I found a few things that my previous self didn't help me with, like taking the dry cleaning out to the car the night before.  I didn't chop that onion, nor did I unload the dishwasher.  I also didn't get my gym bag into the car, nor did I make lunch for J the night before.

I guess you can say I ain't perfect.   Just thought you ought to know.  :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Weekly Menu 5/21+

Tater Tots
Chicken Fried Steak
Mashed Potatoes
Green Beans
Cajun Chicken Pasta
Santa Fe Wraps
Baked Potato Salad
Saucy Chopped Steak
Energy Pancakes
Berry Smoothies
Cowboy Pie
Quick Baked Beans
Lemon Blueberry Crumb Bars

Tater tots

Chicken Fried Steak
  • 2lb round steak or tenderized cube steak; cut into serving sized pieces about 5” square
  • flour
  • crushed cracker crumbs (I prefer Zesta)
  • salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder
  • 1 egg
  • ½ c milk
  • oil for frying
Combine flour, cracker crumbs and seasonings (it's hard to over-season the flour at this point) in a shallow bowl. In a separate bowl combine egg and milk. Dredge meat through egg/milk mixture and then into flour/cracker mixture. Fry in hot oil until cooked through. When edges begin to turn brown, that's how you know when it is time to turn the meat over and cook the other side.

Mashed Potatoes
Boil peeled and cubed potatoes ~20 minutes until tender. Drain. Add ½ c milk and ¼ c butter. Use hand mixer to whip potatoes. Add extra butter and milk as needed to make creamy.
  • ¼ c butter
  • ¼ flour
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 c milk
Melt butter in saucepan. Add flour and salt & pepper until slightly brown. Add in milk all at once, and stir to remove lumps which will happen as milk begins to warm up.
Green Beans

Cajun Chicken Pasta (Pioneer Woman)
  • 3 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, Cut Into Cubes
  • 3 teaspoons Cajun Spice Mix, More To Taste
  • 1 pound Fettuccine
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1 whole Green Bell Pepper, Seeded And Sliced
  • 1 whole Red Bell Pepper, Seeded And Sliced
  • ½ whole Large Red Onion, Sliced
  • 3 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 4 whole Roma Tomatoes, Diced
  • 2 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
  • ½ cups White Wine
  • 1 cup Heavy Cream
  • Cayenne Pepper To Taste
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper, To Taste
  • Salt To Taste
  • Chopped Fresh Parsley, To Taste
Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain when pasta is still al dente; do not overcook!
Sprinkle 1 1/2 teaspoons Cajun spice over chicken pieces. Toss around to coat. Heat 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a heavy skillet over high heat. Add half the chicken in a single layer; do not stir. Allow chicken to brown on one side, about 1 minute. Flip to the other side and cook an additional minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a clean plate. Repeat with remaining chicken. Remove chicken, leaving pan on high heat. Add remaining olive oil and butter. When heated, add peppers, onions, and garlic. Sprinkle on remaining Cajun spice, and add salt if needed. Cook over very high heat for 1 minute, stirring gently and trying to get the vegetables as dark/black as possible. Add tomatoes and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Remove all vegetables from the pan. With the pan over high heat, pour in the wine and chicken broth. Cook on high for 3 to 5 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Reduce heat to medium-low and pour in cream, stirring/whisking constantly. Cook sauce over medium-low heat for a few minutes, until cream starts to thicken the mixture. Taste and add freshly ground black pepper, cayenne pepper, and/or salt to taste. Sauce should be spicy! Finally, add chicken and vegetables to sauce, making sure to include all the juices that have drained onto the plate. Stir and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until mixture is bubbly and hot. Add drained fettuccine and toss to combine. Top with chopped fresh parsley and chow down!

Santa Fe Wraps
  • Flour tortillas
  • mayo
  • 2 c cooked chicken or turkey
  • thinly sliced avocado
  • thinly sliced purple onion
  • Colby jack cheese slices
spread tortillas with mayo, top with cheese slice, chicken, avocado, onion
Baked Potato Salad
  • 2lb red potatoes; quartered
  • ½ c mayo
  • ¼ c buttermilk
  • 2T chopped green onions
  • ½ c grated cheddar cheese
  • 4T bacon bits (no bacos, please)
Boil potatoes until tender ~20 minutes; drain and cool. Mix mayo,buttermilk and green onions. Add potatoes, cheese and bacon bits.

  1. Mix up tomorrow nights pancakes, they need to sit at least overnight, so if you cant get to it tonight, then you can still mix it up in the morning, but the oats need a chance to soften before cooking the pancakes.
  2. Another step for tomorrow night is to freeze the bananas. Slice them in 1” pieces or less, place on a plate or in a resealable container and then freeze. You can buy yellow bananas on the weekend and take care of this step on Sunday night. They certainly wont go bad a few extra days in the freezer.
Saucy Chopped Steak (Kraft Food & Family)
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 T butter
  • 8 oz sliced mushrooms
  • ½ c chopped onions
  • 1T worcestershire sauce
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 2T parsley
Combine beef, salt and pepper; shape into 1/2” thick patties. Melt butter in large skillet and cook 5 min per side until done. Transfer to platter to keep warm. I like to use my skillet lid to cover the meat to keep it warm while I prepare the sauce. Melt additional butter if needed in skillet and add onions, mushrooms; cook and stir ~3 minutes. Stir in Worcestershire sauce; and stir 2 minutes or until onions are crsip-tender. Add cream cheese; cook 2-3 minutes or until heated through. Spoon over patties and top with parsley.

  1. The pancake batter needs time to sit in the fridge and the smoothies need to have their bananas frozen ahead of time too.

Energy Pancakes (Texas Co-op Power)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 ½ c milk
  • 2T honey
  • 1 ¼ whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 2T oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ¾ c rolled oats
  • ¾ c raisins
  • ¼ c sunflower seeds (hulled :))
  • ¼ c wheat germ
  • ¼ c bran
  • 1 apple, cored and shredded
In large bowl combine egg, milk and honey. Sift flour with baking powder and add to egg mixture with oil and vanilla. Blend well. Mix in remaining ingredients. Store in fridge overnight. Spoon batter onto hot griddle when ready to cook.

Berry Smoothies (per smoothie)
  • 1 c plain yogurt
  • 4-5 frozen banana pieces
  • 3-4 berries
  • ½ c orange juice
Combine all ingredients in blender and process until well combined. You can skip adding in extra ice when you use the frozen bananas and it will keep your smoothie from being watered down.

  1. Last day of school!!!! well it is at our house anyway. Hopefully it is at your house too.

Cowboy Pie
  • 1lb bulk breakfast sausage, cooked
  • 1 c grated cheddar cheese
  • 2 packaged jiffy corn muffin mix
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 c milk
Cook breakfast sausage in cast iron skillet, drain. Sprinkle cheese over meat and add a few small pats of butter. While meat is cooking combine corn muffin mix with sugar, eggs and milk. Allow to sit for 5 minutes. Pour cornbread mix over meat mixture. Bake in a hot 400 degree oven for 20 min, or until cooked through.

Quick Baked Beans
Combine cooked pinto beans with BBQ sauce, minced onion and simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Lemon Blueberry Crumb Bars (Kraft Food & Family)
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 1 package yellow cake mix
  • 2 eggs, divided
  • 2 tsp zest and 3T lemon juice, divided
  • 16 oz cream cheese
  • ½ c sugar
  • 2 ½ c blueberries
Line 9x13 pan with foil or parchment paper, extending over sides. In large bowl combine melted butter, cake mix, 1 egg and 1 T lemon juice. Beat with mixer until well blended. Press 2/3 of mixture onto the bottom of prepared pan. Set aside remaining 'crust/crumb' mixture in small bowl. In same large bowl combine cream cheese and sugar with mixer until well blended. Add remaining egg, lemon juice and zest; mix well. Pour over crust; top with berries. Pinch small pieces of remaining crumb mixture and drop into cream cheese layer. Bake 48-50 minutes until center is almost set. Cool completely. Refrigerate 1 hour. Use foil handles to lift dessert from pan before cutting into bars. Keep refrigerated.  

Grocery Deals 5/18

Sun Harvest strawberries 1.50, blackberries 1.50, seedless watermelon $3, cluster tomatoes .99/lb, bell pepper .49, red bells .99, broccoli .99/lb, green beans .99/lb, leg quarters .69/lb

Sprouts blueberries 1.99, blackberries 1.99 (vs 2.48 HEB), cantaloupe .99 (vs 1.50 Sun Harvest), seedless watermelon $3, roma tomatoes .88/lb, cukes .49, bell peppers .49, red bell .88, yellow squash .99/lb (vs 1.37/lb HEB)

Randalls pork chops .99/lb (vs 1.97/lb HEB), 93% lean ground beef 2.99/lb, brisket 1.79/lb, beef roast 50% off, oranges .50/lb, squash yellow or zucchini $1/lb (vs 1.37/lb HEB)
Friday-Monday only: 3lb thick sliced bacon $3, avocado $1, frozen pizza $3

HEB Tx Beef ribs 1.97/lb, legs/thighs $1/lb (vs 1.49 Randalls), breakfast sausage $2, cantaloupe .99, pineapple 1.97, red potatoes .88/lb

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Weekly Menu 5/14+

Cheesy Spirals
Green Beans
Arroz Con Pollo
Strawberry Cake
Sausage Wraps
Mixed Veggies
Ranch Style Beans
Summer Stir-Fry
Crockpot Enchiladas
Refried Beans
Strawberry French Toast
Patty Sausage
Creamy Chicken Taquitos
Tomatillo Guacamole

  1. This is a great item to make tonight and then stash away the extra in your freezer for a night when you'll need to feed the family a month from now, but won't have time to cook because you are in meetings all day. You know who you are... :)
  2. This recipe came from Menus4Moms, but she took down all of the free menu archives at her site, so I have nothing to link to anymore, but know that's where it came from.
Cheesy Spirals
  • 16 oz pasta spirals
  • 4 c cooked ground beef
  • 2-28 oz jar spaghetti sauce
  • 2 can condensed cheddar cheese soup, undiluted
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 3 tsp Italian seasoning (basil, oregano)
  • 4 c shredded mozzarella cheese
Cook pasta spirals according to package instructions. Drain and rinse; return to pan. Add 4 c ground beef, spaghetti sauce, cheddar cheese soup, pepper and Italian seasoning. Stir over low heat until well mixed and mixture is of uniform consistency. Remove from heat and stir in mozzarella. Spray 1 9x13 pan and 1 8x8 pan with non-stick spray and pour mixture into pans. Bake one pan tonight at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes, or until bubbly. Wrap the smaller pan for the freezer (plastic wrap first, then foil) and label as Cheesy Spirals: Thaw. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes or until heated through.

Green Beans

  1. Save any extra chicken you have leftover for the taquitos on Friday.
Arroz Con Pollo (365 Ways to Cook Chicken)
  • 3lb chicken pieces
  • salt and pepper
  • 2T olive oil
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, cut in strips
  • 1 c rice
  • ½ lb cooked smoked sausage, cut into 1/2” pieces
  • ¼ tsp ground saffron
  • 16 oz can whole tomatoes, drained and cut up or two fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • ½ c dry white wine
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • ¼ tsp cayenne
  • 1 ½ c chicken broth
  • ½ c frozen peas, thawed
  • ½ c pitted black olives, sliced
Season chicken with salt and pepper. In a large frying pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add chicken and cook, turning until brown all over, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a large flameproof casserole. Add onion and peppers to skillet and cook until veggies are soft. Transfer to casserole; add rice and sausage. Add saffron, tomatoes, wine, oregano, cayenne and chicken broth to skillet. Bring to a boil, scraping up brown bits from bottom of pan. Pour into casserole. Stir to distribute rice evenly. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 25 min, until chicken is tender. Stir in peas and olives; heat through.

Strawberry Buttermilk Cake (ForkSpoonKnife)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 4.5 T butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar + 2 T sugar for the meringue
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • chopped fresh strawberries, handful or as you like
Preheat oven to 400°F. Butter and flour a 8 inch round cake pan. Mix the dry ingredients together. Cream together butter and 1/2 cup of sugar until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes, then beat in vanilla. Add the egg yolks and beat well. At low speed, mix in flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with buttermilk, mixing until just combined. Set aside and whip the egg whites till frothy. Gently drizzle in the sugar and continue whipping until the meringue holds stiff peaks. Fold about a 1/3 of the meringue into the batter to loosen it. Gently fold the remaining whites just until you no longer see any white streaks, about 25 strokes. Spoon batter into cake pan, smoothing top. Scatter strawberry pieces over the top. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until cake is golden and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack and cool to warm, 10 to 15 minutes more.

Serve with fresh sweetened yogurt for dessert or mint tea.

Sausage Wraps
Grill or otherwise heat up fully-cooked link sausages and wrap in a flour tortilla. These are best served with mustard or picante sauce

Ranch Style Beans
Mixed Veggies
  1. Yes, it's cliché to have a recipe with summer in the title AND to serve watermelon at the same meal, but I'm ready for summer to come on. Yes, you can remind me of this statement in August.

Summer Stir-Fry (Pioneer Woman)
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 4 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 12 whole Jumbo Shrimp, Peeled, Deveined, Tails Left On
  • 2 whole Zucchini, Sliced On A Slight Diagonal
  • 2 ears Corn, Kernels Sliced Off
  • ½ cups Grape Tomatoes, Sliced In Half Lengthwise
  • Salt And Freshly Ground Pepper, To Taste
  • Chopped Fresh Herbs, If Desired
Heat 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add minced garlic. When oil/butter is hot, add shrimp and cook for 3 minutes. Remove to a plate. Do not clean skillet.
Add the rest of the butter and oil and heat over medium heat. Add zucchini slices in a single layer and cook for one minute, tossing once. Scoot the zucchini to the edges of the pan, then add corn kernels to the middle of the pan. Cook for one minute. Add grape tomatoes, salt, and pepper, and toss around, then add shrimp. Cook for an additional 30 seconds, then remove from heat. Serve on a big platter.


  1. This recipe calls for cooking only 5-6 hours, but if you are working and are away from home, well sometimes you just have to let this stuff go longer. You could switch to corn tortillas and you'd have less of a gluten glob to serve to the family. Of course since corn tortillas are smaller, you might need to use a few more than just four. Besides, anyone who wants to be feed more than two people and have them be full will need more than just four tortillas anyway.
CrockPot Enchiladas (Menus4Moms)
  • 1 lb cooked ground beef (~2c)
  • 1 medium onion sauteed
  • ½ tsp Adobo seasoning
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 4 whole wheat flour tortillas (honestly I'll be using white ones)
  • 1 can corn, drained
  • 10oz can enchilada sauce
  • 1 can Rotel, undrained
  • 2 c shredded cheese
  • Sour cream
In a bowl, combine meat, onion, seasonings. In another bowl mix rotel and enchilada sauce. Place ¼ c of the sauce mix on the bottom of the crockpot, then add in tortillas to cover the bottom. Place half of the meat, corn, remaining sauce and cheese. Repeat the layers. Cook on low 5-6 hours.

Rice substitute 1 c picante sauce for one cup of the water when you cook your rice, and you'll have lazy man's Spanish Rice.
Refried Beans (mix with cream cheese)

  1. This is best assembled the night before, or early in the morning on the day when you will cook it. The last time I made this was for girls club. It was fabulous.
  2. I think we used a baguette instead of the pan frances of HEB's bakery, just in case anyone was curious so each sandwich was a bit smaller, and I think we each ate two.
Strawberry Stuffed French Toast (Quick Cooking)
  • 6 oz cream cheese
  • ¾ c sliced strawberries
  • 1/3 c powdered sugar
  • 1 loaf French bread (day old or older is best), cut in 1” slices
  • 10 eggs
  • 2/3 c half and half
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 c sliced fresh strawberries
  • ½ c sugar
  • 2T water
Beat cream cheese, strawberries and powdered sugar until combined. Spread about 2T on one side of half the bread slices; top with remaining bread. Place sandwiches in an ungreased 9x13 pan. In a bowl, beat the eggs, cream and vanilla. Pour over the bread. Turn each sandwich. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight. With a slited spatula, transfer sandwiches to a greased 15x10x1” baking pan. Discard any remaining egg mixture. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes. Turn and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until golden-brown. For the sauce, combine the strawberries, sugar and water in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Makes 10 servings

Patty Sausage

  1. Girls, I think I've decided what we'll be eating Friday when we all get to Bobbie's.

Chicken Taquitos (Pink Parsley via Pioneer Woman)
  • 3 oz cream cheese, softened (reduced fat is fine)
  • 1/3 cup salsa verde
  • juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 1 tsp chile powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 Tbs chopped scallions
  • 2 cups cooked and shredded chicken
  • 1/2 cup shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded Pepperjack cheese
  • 8-12 (6-inch) corn tortillas
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • cooking spray
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese with the salsa, lime juice, cumin, chile powder, cayenne, onion powder, garlic, cilantro, scallions, and 1/4 tsp kosher salt. Fold in the chicken and cheeses. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if necessary.

Working 3 tortillas at a time, stack them on a microwave-safe plate and cover with plastic wrap. Cook 30 seconds, or until tortillas are soft and pliable.

Spoon 2-3 tablespoons of filling onto the lower third of each tortilla, and roll tightly. Place seam side-down on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining tortillas and filling.

Spray the taquitos lightly with cooking spray, sprinkle with salt. Bake 15-20 minutes, or until the tortillas are crisp and golden-brown. Serve with salsa, sour cream, and/or guacamole.

Tomatillo Guacamole
Mashed avocado mixed with green salsa

Grocery Deals 5/11

Sprouts gluten free sale 25% off (for those of you who need it), seedless watermelon $3, cantaloupe 1.50, strawberries 1.50, pinapple 1.50, cluster tomatoes .77/lb ( vs 1.48 Randalls, .99 Sun Harvest), cukes .49, bell peppers .49, red bell .77, squash .77/lb (vs .88 Sun Harvest 1.27 HEB), green beans .99/lb (vs 1.27 HEB), broccoli .99/lb, organic gala apples .99/lb

Sun Harvest seedless watermelon 2.50, bell peppers .49, kiwi .20, broccoli .99/lb, lettuc e.99, onions .49/lb, boneless chicken breasts 1.99/lb
Friday/Saturday/Sunday only: ozarka $3 (24 count), Bluebell $4, corn .19, sausage 1.99/lb (vs $4.99/lb HEB)

Randalls broccoli .99/lb, mushrooms 1.50 (bella and crimini), round steak 1.99/lb
Friday-Monday only: boneless chicken breast 1.99/lb

HEB organic apples .97/lb, boneless breasts 1.99/lb, cold water shrimp 3.48/lb (wild, cooked, USA waters), chicken breasts $1/lb, corn 4/$1.   

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Weekly Menu 5/7+

Knock You Neked Brownies
Grilled Fish
Rice Pilaf
Fruit Salad
Shake and Bake Pork Chops
Sweet Potato Fries
Green Beans
Chicken with Peppers
Spicy Cajun Gumbo
Hot Dogs
Pork n Beans
Carrot Sticks

Coming in a few weeks for the summer... Thursday night salad suppers. Just because Thursday is a fun day of the week and we should all have a little break in heavy eating every now and then. If you have a real trusted favorite to share, please send it to me and I'll try it out ahead of time.

The idea is that the salad will be the main course and in my family it is a requirement that there is meat. I'm sure there are plenty of delicious salads without meat, but my family won't count them as supper, so I can't include them in my menu, but I will consider yours!

1. I wasn’t going to include this recipe, but after looking at these a second time, well I just had to. If you're in a Get Fit Challenge at work like I am, you should probably avoid these. I'm not saying that I will be avoiding them, you just probably should.

Knock you Neked Brownies (Pioneer Woman)
  • 1 box (18.5 Ounce) German Chocolate Cake Mix
  • 1 cup Finely Chopped Pecans
  • ⅓ cups Evaporated Milk
  • ½ cups Evaporated Milk (additional)
  • ½ cups Butter, Melted
  • 60 whole Caramels, Unwrapped
  • ⅓ cups Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • ¼ cups Powdered Sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, mix together cake mix, chopped pecans, 1/3 cup evaporated milk, and melted butter. Stir together until totally combined. Mixture will be very thick.
Press half the mixture into a well-greased 9 x 9 inch square baking pan. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove pan from oven and set aside.
In a double boiler (or a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of boiling water) melt caramels with additional 1/2 cup evaporated milk. When melted and combined, pour over brownie base. Sprinkle chocolate chips as evenly as you can over the caramel.
Turn out remaining brownie dough on work surface. Use your hands to press it into a large square a little smaller than the pan. Use a spatula to remove it from the surface, then set it on top of the caramel and chocolate chips.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from pan and allow to cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate for several hours. When ready to serve, generously sift powdered sugar over the surface of the brownies. Cut into either nine or twelve helpings, and carefully remove from the pan.
*Adapted from the standard/classic “Knock You N@ked Brownies” recipe. These brownies don’t really knock you naked…but almost.

  1. Since today is Mother's Day, every should have a healthy dinner that would make their mom's proud that means to be sure and eat all of your veggies.
  2. You might as well eat some leftover brownies too, because most moms love chocolate.

Grilled Fish
Rice Pilaf
  • 2 T butter
  • 2 T finely chopped onion
  • ½ tsp minced garlic; jar
  • ¼ c chopped carrots
  • 1 tsp parsley
  • 1 c rice
  • 2 c chicken broth or bullion
Saute onion and garlic in butter until tender. Add in carrots for 1 minute. Then add rice and allow to brown slightly. Add broth or water and parsley. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes until rice is cooked.

Fruit Salad

Shake and Bake Pork Chops
Sweet Potato Fries
Green Beans


1. This recipe was originally made with beef, and it was good. However I'm on a five day streak of eating beef and I need a break. Plus I had this recipe on the menu just over a month ago. HOWEVER, I forgot to buy the rice noodles to put in the version my family ate and well I feel like I was cheated. So, because it's my prerogative to do so I'm swapping chicken for the beef and going to remember the noodles this time.
Chicken with Peppers (Pioneer Woman)
  • 1-½ pound Flank Steak, Sliced Very Thin Against The Grain (I'm using Chicken this time)
  • ½ cups Low Sodium Soy Sauce
  • 3 Tablespoons Sherry
  • 2 Tablespoons Packed Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Cornstarch
  • 1 Tablespoon Minced Fresh Ginger
  • 2 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1 teaspoon Red Chile Paste (or A Few Dashes Red Chile Oil)
  • 2 Tablespoons Canola Oil
  • 1 whole Medium Yellow Onion Sliced
  • 2 whole Red Bell Peppers, Cored And Sliced Into Rings
  • 1 Tablespoon Diced Fresh Jalapeno (or 1 Teaspoon Dice Hot Pepper)
  • Red Pepper Flakes, For Sprinkling
  • Cilantro Leaves
  • Rice Noodles (this wasn't on the original list and why I missed adding them the first time)

Mix together soy sauce, sherry, brown sugar, cornstarch, ginger, garlic, and chili paste (or chili oil.) Place sliced beef in the mixture and toss to coat. Set aside. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high to high heat. When it is very hot, throw in the onions and cook for less than a minute. Remove to a separate plate. Return skillet to flame, allow to reheat, and add bell peppers (and hot pepper/jalapeno if using.) Cook for a minute, tossing, until peppers have brown/black bits but are still firm. Remove to a plate.
Return skillet to heat and allow to get hot. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the skillet. Add 1/3 of the meat mixture, evenly distributing over the surface of the skillet. Allow to sit for 20 to 30 seconds, then turn with tongs. Cook for another 30 seconds, then remove to a separate plate. Repeat with remaining meat until all brown.
Reduce heat to low. Add all meat, onions, and peppers to the skillet and toss to combine. Pour in remaining sauce (the sauce the meat marinated in*) and stir. Allow to simmer on low for a few minutes. Sauce will slowly thicken. Turn off heat.
*Update/Note: you can also whip up an extra batch of liquid if you do not want to use the same liquid you use for the meat.
Turn off boiling water, then throw in noodles. Stir, then allow noodles to sit in hot water for 8 minutes or so (check package directions to be sure.) Drain, then add 1/2 the noodles to stir fry. Toss together, then add more noodles to taste. Add very hot water if needed to thin.
Top with cilantro leaves. Serve immediately.


Spicy Cajun Gumbo (Crock Pot Recipes)
  • 1lb.boneless, skinless chicken cut into strips
  • 3 c.chicken stock
  • 2 c diced canned tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp Cajun seasoning blend (recipe follows)
  • 1 med onion, chopped
  • 3 med carrots, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 each red & green bell peppers, chopped
  • 1c corn
  • 2 tsp minced or pressed garlic
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb Louisiana Hot Sausage (I'll probably use Kielbasa)
  • 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 8 oz.raw shrimp, peeled and cleaned (optional)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • hot cooked rice (3c rice + 6 c water)
  • 2 c frozen okra or filé to taste
Cajun Seasoning Blend:
  • ¼ c salt
  • 1T cayenne pepper (that's probably WAY too hot to suit me)
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1T parsley

Place chicken, 2 cups stock, tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, and Cajun Seasoning Blend in a Crock Pot on high heat. In a medium skillet, sauté onion, carrots, bell peppers, corn and garlic in olive oil for about 10 minutes or until softened. Add to Crock Pot. In same skillet, brown sausage on all sides over medium-high heat. Reduce heat, cover and cook through (about 10 minutes). Slice sausage into 1 inch pieces and add to crock pot. Pour out all but about 2 tablespoons of the sausage fat. Add flour to fat and stir constantly over medium-high heat to create a dark roux. Slowly add remaining 1 cup of broth to roux and stir until smooth. Mix roux into Crock Pot, lower heat, cover and cook for 6-8 hours. About 15 minutes before serving, stir in the shrimp. Season to taste with salt, pepper and filé.

Hot Dogs
Pork n Beans
Carrot Sticks

Grocery Deals 5/4

Did you know this is Star Wars day?  Yep.
May the Fourth be with you.  Ok, I'll get back to the grocery deals instead of more corny jokes.

Sprouts watermelon 1.99, pineapple 1.99 (vs 2.97 HEB), onions .49/lb, green beans .77/lb, squash .99/lb, broccoli .99/lb, cantaloupes 1.50

Sun Harvest BlueBell 3.99, corn 3/$1, oranges .49/lb (vs .77 Sprouts, Randalls), broccoli .88/lb, potatoes 1.50/5#

HEB whole chicken .87/lb, strawberries .96/lb (vs 1.25 Sun Harvest)

Randalls corn 3/$1, BlueBell 3.99, legs/thighs .99/lb

Sunday, May 1, 2011

'Homemade' Birthday Cake

This week we had a birthday at our house.  So I thought I would share the birthday cake that I made.  It was really easy and I only spent $7.15 on the ingredients and that was after a no holds barred planning session on what it would take to create this ultimate pizza cake.

First I found a friend who had a large deep dish cake pan and borrowed it.  I am also happy to report that it is now washed and returned to my neighbor less than 48 hours after I borrowed it.  I am pretty sure that is a world record for me and will likely not be repeated again.

J couldn't make up his mind about what flavor he wanted and finally decided that he wanted both chocolate and yellow so this is what it looked like before we put it in the oven.

Now I bet you are wondering just how we did that, and amazingly I remembered to take a picture of it as a sort of reenactment.

First we mixed up both flavors of cake mix in separate bowls and then I held the large square platter in the middle and we both started pouring our cake mix out of the bowls.  When we had almost all of it out I removed the summer platter you see.  Of course we had to save some batter to lick after the cake went into the oven.  

Some of us got into a bit more than others.  I managed to get all of mine with the spatula and didn't need to get my fingers covered in cake batter, but I'm just like that sometimes.  

After the cake came out of the oven and the chocolate almost took over the whole top of the cake (sorry no picture to show you that), and I have no explanation as to why that happened either.  

Then I mixed up a batch of frosting with very complicated ingredients, a stick of butter, almost 4 c. powdered sugar, vanilla and then milk until it started to look like the consistency that I wanted.  I set aside 1 c of frosting so that I could color it another color if I needed to.  Then to the main bowl I added red gel food coloring to make the 'pizza sauce'.  I thought I could add black food coloring too to make it a little darker, but that was a bad idea so I just stopped, panicked and started using the frosting from around the sides of the bowl that I hadn't 'ruined' yet.  

Now it was time to start putting on the toppings of the pizza.  First up, 'sausage' which was some leftover brownie pieces that had been in the fridge since Easter last week. You can see the weird black/gray tint to the red frosting.  now you know that it was my bizarre coloring experiment gone wrong.  Then came the 'cheese' which was melted vanilla chips drizzled over the top.  

Then we cut out fruit roll ups into circles for our pepperonis.  The toothpick lid was our template.  The shot glass was just a little too big of a circle for what I thought a pepperoni should be.  

We added crushed up pecan sandies to make our crust.  You can see the extras that fell off the pan and onto the counter top.  

Finally our finished cake.  And just in case you didn't know or notice, he's seven today.  Happy Birthday!

So how did I spend $7.15? 
$2.00  on cake mix.  I got one on sale, the other was regular price.    
$1.00  eggs and oil
$0.65  butter
$1.25  powdered sugar
$0.25  fruit roll ups (3 of 8)
$0.00  leftover brownies
$0.75  vanilla chips (half bag)
$1.25  pecan sandies.

It was a fun weekend, making the cake and then of course eating it.