Saturday, February 28, 2009

Roasted Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons

I found this spectacular recipe the other day, and I just HAD to try it. Most of the soups I make have a decidedly fall or winter seasonal flair...but tomato soup is good in any season. The roasted tomatoes added a delicious rustic flavor, and I thought making the grilled cheese sandwiches that almost ALWAYS go with tomato soup into croutons was genius.

This recipe makes 10 cups, so there is no need to double.

Roasted Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons


6 cups (3 pints) cherry tomatoes
3 TBS olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 TBS unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup chopped onion
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes (I substituted this with two 14.5-ounce cans of Fire-Roasted Diced Tomatoes...which are a new product by Hunt's foods that I discovered while shopping for ingredients for this recipe.)
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 tsp thyme
1 cup heavy whipping cream


6 slices bread
6 slices American cheese
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
about 1/2 tsp thyme

To Make Soup:

1. Heat oven to 400. On a baking sheet, combine cherry tomatoes, 2 TBS olive oil, and the salt and pepper. Toss the ingredients to coat evenly and spread them in a single layer.

Roast the tomatoes until they are shriveled with brown spots, about 35-45 minutes.

2. In a large pot, heat the butter and the remaining tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and saute until softened, about 6 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes with their juice (here's where I added those fabulous canned roasted tomatoes...),

the broth, the thyme, and the roasted tomatoes, including any liquid on the baking sheet. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer, partially covered, for 40 minutes.

3. Using a food processor or blender, puree the soup until it's smooth. Return it to the pot and stir in the cream. Without letting it boil, warm it over medium heat, stirring often, until steaming. Add salt and pepper, if necessary.

4. Ladle into bowls and garnish with grilled cheese croutons.

To Make Croutons:

1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. In a small bowl, combine butter and thyme. Spread one side of each slice of bread with butter mixture.. Place 3 slices of bread in the pan, buttered side down. Top each with 2 slices of cheese, and then with the reamining 3 bread slices, buttered side up. Cook, turning once, until toasted on both sides, 3 to 5 minutes per side.

2.Remove the sandwiches from the pan. Let them cool slightly, then cut them into 1-inch squares. makes about 60 croutons.

courtesy Family Fun magazine, who adapted it from "300 Sensational Soups" by Carla Snyder and Meredith Deeds.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Edible Eagles

Joseph had to make a dessert for the Cub Scout Blue and Gold Banquet Dessert Competition. The theme was "Americana", and the dessert had to be totally made by the scout. We searched on-line, and found this super cute recipe on It turned out I thought I'd share.

We tripled this recipe to make enough for the entire Cub Scout Pack and their families.

Edible Eagles

1/4 cup of white chocolate chips
6 large marshmallows
Finely shredded coconut
Chocolate sandwich cookies (the recipe used chocolate-covered Oreos, but we used Chips Ahoy chocolate chip cookies)
6 Cashews
Decorator gel (the recipe called for black, but I could only find blue and green)

1. Melt chocolate in a double boiler until creamy.

2. For each bird, drop a large marshmallow into the melted chocolate, using a spatula to coat it well. (We used a fork pierced in one end of the mallow. It was easier for Joseph to maneuver in the chocolate and roll in coconut {next step}).

(See...Joseph can dip the mallows with the fork while Nicolette looks on. The bowl next to him is filled with shredded coconut for the next step).

3. Remove the marshmallow from the chocolate and roll it in finely shredded coconut, leaving one end uncovered. (This is where the fork came in handy, too. It kept hands clean and one end free from coconut).
4. Immediately set the marshmallow, coconut free end down, atop a cookie.
5. Let the chocolate set a bit, then use a toothpick to make a whole in the side of the marshmallow and insert a cashew for a beak.
6. Finally, add the decorator gel eyes.

And the finished project is.... cute little Bald Eagle cookies!!!

They even won Joseph an award for "Best Use of Theme"...and a new Yo-yo for a prize!!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Chicken Florentine

Did I ever tell you how I love easy knock-offs? You feel like you're fixing something fancy all while cutting down on your time in the kitchen.
Don't get me wrong - there are times that I love slaving over a supreme culinary work of art. But with my family and the amount of distraction I face, it is usually not possible. So - I opt for the knock-off.

One of my favorite websites is It has TONS of knock-offs, and I am always delighted to find something that I can make that requires what I already have stapled in my fridge or pantry. I also love their "Recipe Box", where I can not only copy my favorite recipes from Kraft, but also input any I find in magazines or cookbooks. I have almost completed transferring 3 of my most beloved cookbooks into my personal Recipe Box. I only wish they had a better way of categorizing them so they were easier to pull up, and I don't have to go through thousands of recipes to find the one I want.

Maybe I can invent something some day that does just that...

Until then - a knock-off PERFECT for those Sunday Dinners...

This goes great with a veggie side (we're using the rest of my red potatoes to make crispy wedges drizzled in olive oil and sprinkled with thyme and pepper). You don't really need a salad because you have the spinach...but if you can't imagine a dinner without salad, buy some extra spinach and make a traditional spinach salad with crumbled bacon, blue cheese, and hard-boiled egg and balsamic vinaigrette dressing (preferably warm).

Double if you're me.

Chicken Florentine

3 TBS Zesty Italian dressing
4 cups lightly packed baby spinach leaves 9essentially one salad bag of spinach)
4 small boneless skinless chicken breast halves
8 slices thinly shaved deli smoked ham
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese

1. Heat 1 TBS of the dressing in a large skillet on medium heat. Add spinach, cook and stir 1 minute until spinach is wilted. Remove from skillet; cover to keep warm.

2. Add remaining 2 TBS dressing and the chicken to skillet; turn chicken over to evenly coat both sides with dressing. Cook 5 to 6 minutes on each side until chicken is cooked through.

3. Transfer to a cookie sheet, and top evenly with ham and cheese. Place under broiler to brown. Spoon spinach mixture evenly onto four plates; top each with a chicken breast.

- a great substitution for the spinach is asparagus. The chicken looks elegant a decidedly
"spring-y" on top of several trimmed asparagus spears.
courtesy Kraft foods

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Hawaiian Haystacks

This isn't so much a recipe, as instructions for assembly.

My mom used to make these on busy nights...well...she didn't actually make them, as they are a "prepare-it-yourself" kind of dinner, but she prepared all the ingredients. I have no idea where she got the recipe, if it was something she found or invented, but it is awesome to use on a night when you're too tired to do anything much.

It's like Taco cook the meat, and slice the tomatoes and grate the cheese and shred the lettuce...and then you put everything in bowls and let everybody make their own dang taco the way they want it. So if you're like me, and have one kid who will only eat meat and olives in his taco and another who doesn't want the tortilla and wants a taco salad, it's no big deal, as they can assemble their taco as they please.

Hawaiian Haystacks is the same basic principle. You prepare a bunch of ingredients and let everyone make it the way they want. And although traditional Haystacks have a base of Chow Mien Noodles, white rice, and cream of chicken soup, and are then accented with various toppings, even THAT rule is hardly set in stone, as I have some children who just want the base ingredients, and one who will only put Chow Mien noodles and pineapple on their plate.


Here is the basic assembly instructions and list of ingredients for Hawaiian Haystacks. Keep in mind that this is truly a "what-do-I-need-to-use-up-in-my-fridge-or-pantry" kind of recipe...anything goes. This is only a basic list...feel free to embellish or delete any ingredients you wish.

You don't need any sides with this is totally "all-inclusive".

And remember to double if you're feeding an army, missionaries, or my kids.

Hawaiian Haystacks

1 can Chow Mien noodles
2 cups white rice, cooked
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can condensed milk
1-2 cans canned chicken
2 tomatoes, diced
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup diced celery
1 can olives, halved
1 can pineapple chunks

1. Mix your cream of chicken soup, canned chicken, and condensed milk in a saucepan thoroughly. Heat until warm. Keep warm on stove.

2. Layer Chow Mien noodles, white rice, and cream of chicken mixture on each plate.

3. Top with shredded cheese.

4. Top with any other toppings you like. Besides those listed above, try diced bell peppers, diced cucumbers, shredded carrots, green chilies, etc. Use your imagination. What makes this "Hawaiian" is the pineapple. Although it seems weird to mix all these things is SERIOUSLY yummy. Hence one of my mottoes: "Ugly food tastes best".
courtesy Fraley Family Archives

Friday, February 20, 2009

BBQ Chicken and Fruit Salad

Some day, I might actually put up a recipe that's hard...
Get your carbs by rounding this out with a fancy roll. And double if you're feeding a bigger family.

BBQ Chicken and Fruit Salad

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup BBQ sauce (we LOVE Cattlemans Gold)
4 canned or fresh pineapple rings (if you're like me, and forgot to get pineapple rings at the store, rest assured that regular pineapple chunks substitute just fine)
1 bag mixed salad greens
2 cups strawberries, cut in half
1/2 cup Catalina dressing, or (my favorite) Creamy Poppyseed dressing

1. Place chicken on rack in a broiler pan.

2. Broil 4-6 inches from heat 20-25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through, turning and brushing frequently with BBQ sauce during last 15 minutes. Add pineapple on top of chicken during last 5 minutes.

3. Cut chicken (and rings, if you have 'em) into strips...or just cut chicken and arrange pineapple chunks as artistically as possible.

4. Arrange greens and strawberries on serving plate. Top with chicken and dressing. Serve with dressing.

courtesy Kraft foods

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Raspberry-Glazed Pork Chops

(oh my golly' you know what I did? I accidentally erased all the pictures of me making this item off my camera...I can't believe I did that!!!! So now you have this recipe...but no pictures!! I am SO SORRY! Please try it is REALLY good!!!)

This is a Sunday dinner...but only because of it's looks. It LOOKS beautiful...and maybe even fancy. But just like never judge a recipe by it's photo. This is SUPER EASY.

I'm obviously NOT making this on a Sunday because my whole menu is all screwed up thanks to the Valentines Day Stomach Flu. I'm still categorizing it under Sunday dinners, though...

because I'm slightly obstinate.

This serves four, which means I double. My pork chops are also from CostCo, which means that they are about 1-1/2 inch thick instead of the required 3/4 inch thickness. You can deal with this in one of two can slice the pork chops in half to make them thinner (easier if the chops are still SLIGHTLY frozen and you use a VERY sharp knife), which will help them cook faster; OR you can cook them longer at a lower heat. You can add a little broth or water to help stave off dryness.

Served great with a wild greens salad and a balsamic or raspberry vinaigrette dressing. Creamy Poppyseed is also really good...just don't look at the fat content. The recipe calls for grated orange peel...rather than waste the orange for a little peel, I'd peel it and serve a few wedges as garnish around the salads edge. Super creamy mashed potatoes (use Yukon Golds for best results) or crispy red potato wedges drizzled in olive oil with some thyme and rosemary will round it all out.

Raspberry-Glazed Pork Chops

1 tsp. butter
4 boneless pork chops, about 3/4 inch thick
1/2 cups seedless raspberry jam
1/3 cup raspberry or balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 tsp grated orange peel
1-1/2 tsp chopped fresh thyme

1. Melt butter in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add chops, cook 5 to 7 minutes on each side or until browned on both sides.

2. Mix remaining ingredients, spoon evenly over chops in skillet.

3. Simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes or until sauce is reduced to glaze consistency and chops are cooked through, turning chops occasionally.

(You can serve these as whole chops, or slice and arrange in fan shapes with extra sauce drizzled over the top. With kids - we do the "fans", and the adults get whole chops and a steak knife)

courtesy Kraft foods

Monday, February 16, 2009

California Stir-Fry and Chocolate Molten Cake

Oh-me, Oh-my...what a Valentines Day.
For those of you clicking over from my main blog (, you've already heard the story of the Valentines Day Stomach Flu. It's not pretty or pleasant, and if you missed it, I don't encourage you to go check it out. The rest of my blog...yes. But if you wish to skip the sordid stomach flu tale, I completely understand.

The REAL downer of missing the Day of Love, though, wasn't that we were's that the aforementioned sickness meant that I couldn't cook a nice Valentines Day dinner for my family. So, on Valentines Day - we had Saltine crackers and Gatorade. And I don't need to put a recipe up for that.

Today is a glorious Tuesday...and we are flu-free. So I am making our yummy V-Day dinner TONIGHT.

I am sorry you missed this on the 14th...not that the dinner itself is terribly note-worthy...but the DESSERT is...yummy, sinfully delicious Chocolate Molten Cake. I have two straight from my husbands award-winning restaurant, The Grand Lux Cafe, and another that I personally prefer because I am a BIG fan of DARK CHOCOLATE. However, as I was about to put The Grand Lux recipe on my husband informed me that to post recipes from his restaurant would expose carefully guarded TRADE SECRETS...and he could lose his job.


Not really the right economic climate to take that kind of risk.

So, if I promised you the Grand Lux recipe...sorry. You'll have to come over, and we'll turn off all the lights and cover all the windows and doors, and invent a super-secret encrypted code to communicate with (complete with hand-signs and facial expressions), and I'll share the recipe after swearing you to secrecy by some ancient and binding sacrificial rite. Okay?

Until then, you'll have to make MY version of Chocolate Molten Cake...but I promise you won't mind.



(just a moment...I need to find a napkin to wipe my mouth is watering. After a weekend of the BRAT diet, I can hardly wait to eat REAL FOOD.)

But first...we need dinner...

This is great served with rice (duh) and chow mien noodles.

California Stir-Fry

2 TBS Catalina dressing
2 TBS soy sauce, divided
2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, cut into thin slices
1/2 cup Catalina dressing
1 tsp minced fresh ginger root
1 clove minced garlic
1 cup broccoli florets
1 small carrot, cut into thin slices
1/2 cup each: medium red and yellow pepper, cut into thin strips
1 cup snow peas
1 cup bean sprouts
( can do what I do, and just use an awesome frozen oriental veggie the one from CostCo)

1. Heat 2 TBS dressing and 1 of the TBS soy sauce in large nonstick skillet or wok on medium heat. Add chicken; stir-fry 3 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from skillet.

2. Add all remaining ingredients except the bean sprouts to skillet; mix well. Stir-fry 5 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender. (If using a frozen veggie mix - you can proceed in two ways...thaw veggies and cook only a couple minutes to heat through, or stir-fry from a frozen state. There is really no set time...just watch carefully...or you will end up with veggies that are soggy.)

3. Stir in chicken and bean sprouts; stir-fry until heated through.

4. Serve over rice.

Ahhh...and now, dessert...

Dark Molten Chocolate Cake
1 pkg. (6 squares) Bakers Bittersweet Chocolate
10 TBS butter
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup flour
3 whole eggs
3 egg yolks

1. Preheat oven to 425. Grease 6 6-oz. custard cups or souffle dishes. Place on baking sheet. (My mini souffle cups are still packed in my I use a giant muffin pan that makes six giant muffins. It works great!!)

2. Melt chocolate and butter in a double boiler until butter and chocolate is completely melted (or microwave in a microwaveable bowl on 50% power 2 minutes or until butter is melted. Then stir with a wire whisk until chocolate is melted, too). Add sugar and flour, mix well. Add whole eggs and egg yolks; beat until well blended. Divide batter evenly into custard cups (or muffin tins!!).

3. Bake 14 to 15 minutes or until cakes are firm around the edges, but still soft in the centers. Let stand 1 minute. Run small knife around cakes to loosen. Carefully invert cakes onto dessert dishes. Sprinkle lightly with additional powdered sugar and garnish with raspberries, strawberries, candied lemon or orange peel, or mint leaves (or a combination of all the above!!) Tonight, I'm using a triple berry dessert sauce from Smuckers to drizzle around the edges.

Cut in half and serve warm...

recipes courtesy Kraft foods and myself, respectively

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Corn and Frank Chowder

Sometimes dinner is about what's fast, easy, or readily available.

Sometimes dinner is about what time of year it is, or reflects the weather outside.

Sometimes dinner is about the company you keep.

Sometimes dinner is about the event or holiday you're celebrating.

Sometimes dinner is about how you feel (can anyone say "comfort food?").

And sometimes, dinner is about peace. Having everyone eat the same thing at the same time.

This is especially true with kids. My kids are pretty good about the whole "I-made-it-and-you're-gonna-eat-it" rule in our house. And so, because of this, and because they are subjected to my kitchen experiments, I think it's only fair to include things I know they love on the menu.

When I make up my menu for two weeks, I always include things that I know EVERYBODY likes...things like Macaroni n' Cheese Casserole, Grilled Cheese and Soup, Breakfast for Dinner, or Spaghetti and Meatballs. These things are easy, timeless, and universally appealing to kids of all ages. And, they carry the bonus of being the least expensive things on my grocery list.

One of those kid-friendly, amazing recipes I got from my sister-in-law, Tara. She got it from her mother-in-law, Kay. Kay raised 10 children on a military wife's budget in the 60's and 70's. That's right...TEN.

This is a recipe she used to satisfy all those hungry little mouths on a military base while her hubby fought in Vietnam and Korea for our country. It is wholly American...even in spirit. This, like all chowders and stews, goes great with biscuits. And if you need to add the color green, think veggie platter with dip...just to keep with the whole kid-friendly theme (I've found kids will eat most any vegetable as long as Ranch dressing is involved).


Corn and Frank Chowder

1 cup celery slices
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup ground oatmeal flour (put oatmeal in blender and grind to make flour)
2 cups milk
3 to 4 Frankfurters, sliced (don't you love the old-time word for "hot dogs"?)
1 can whole kernel corn
2 tsp prepared mustard
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

- Saute celery in butter in medium saucepan. Blend in oat flour.

-Gradually add milk; continue cooking over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened.

-Reduce heat; add meat, corn, and mustard.

-Continue cooking over low heat about 5 minutes.

-Remove from heat; add cheese, mixing well until well blended.

courtesy Kay Bennett

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Cheesy Ham & Broccoli Bake

Ever had those nights when you had to feed five kids before 5:30pm because you had stuff to do?

And you're trying to cook, and prepare your activity that is taking up your night (in my case, Girl Scouts), and help with homework, and answer the phone, and fold the laundry all at the same time?
And four of those kids are saying (in between asking what fractions are, and fighting over whose turn it is to use the computer, and begging if they can puh-lease stop doing spelling definitions and play Wii): "I'm hungry...what's for dinner?", all while one kid is peeking over the stove at what you're making and saying in a worried, whiny kind of voice: "Uhh..I don't think I like that..."

Have you ever had one of those nights?

Have you ever had one of those nights when two of those kids are sick with the stomach flu?
That is tonight.

I spent all last night and all day today cleaning sheets, and Febreez-ing pillows, and Lysol-ing every surface in the house, on top of all the things I normally do during the day.

I'm tired.

I'm cranky.

And I have to go to Girl Scouts and play with 8 hyper-active 3rd grade girls.

Welcome to my life.

And since you're here...why don't you stay for dinner?

Cheesy Ham & Broccoli Bake

1-2/3 cups hot water
1 pkg. Stove Top Cornbread Stuffing Mix
3 cups chopped ham
1 pkg. (10 oz.) frozen broccoli florets, thawed, drained
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
3/4 cup Cheez Whiz

- Heat oven to 375 F. Add water to stuffing mix; stir until just moistened. Set aside.

- Combine ham and broccoli in 2 qt. casserole. Mix soup and Cheez Whiz; pour over ham mixture. Top with stuffing

-Bake 30 minutes or until heated through.

(Note: I bake it closer to 45 minutes...but I watch so the top gets crunchy but not burned)
courtesy Kraft foods

Friday, February 6, 2009

Creamy Chicken & Cranberry-Pecan Wild Rice

Ohhh...this is another of those fabulous FALL recipes. It's a little I reserve it for Sundays. Why? Because my mother ALWAYS made a big meal on Sundays...and now I do, too.

This is great served with a salad made of wild greens, roma tomatoes, and maybe some sauteed butternut squash cubes. Add a sprinkling of nuts (hey - use the leftover pecans!!) and a nice vinaigrette, and it's a meal!!

Creamy Chicken & Cranberry-Pecan Wild Rice

2 TBS flour
1/2 tsp each: dried thyme leaves and black pepper
6 small boneless skinless chicken breast halves (about 1-1/2 lb.)
2 TBS oil
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup pecan pieces, toasted
6 green onions, sliced, divided
1 pkg. long grain and wild rice, prepared as directed on package ( I double the rice)
1 cup chicken broth
6 oz. cream cheese, cubed

- Mix flour, thyme and pepper; coat chicken with flour mixture. Heat oil in large skillet on medium heat. Add chicken to skillet; cook 5 to 6 minutes on each side or until cooked through.

- Stir cranberries, pecans, and 1/3 cup of the onions into the cooked rice; spoon onto serving platter. Remove chicken from skillet, reserving drippings in skillet. Place chicken over rice mixture; cover to keep warm.

- Add broth to skillet; stir to break up browned bits from bottom of skillet. Add cream cheese, cook 2 to 3 minutes or until cream cheese is melted and sauce starts to thicken, stirring occasionally with wire whisk.

-Spoon sauce over chicken; sprinkle with remaining onions. Serve remaining sauce on the side.
courtesy of Kraft Foods

Apple-Sausage Rigatoni

I LOVE autumn. It is my FAVORITE time of year. I love the trees turning color, and I love wearing sweaters. But most of all, I love baking and cooking with the marvelous produce available in the fall. The pumpkin, the squash, the nuts...and best of all, THE APPLES.

Here, in South Florida, I am denied my favorite time of year. I have perpetual summer.

Don't get me wrong. I love summer, too. I love the blooming tropical flowers, and the palms heavy with coconuts. I love the hot sand and warm Caribbean waters. I love all the things I get to cook in the salads and light pasta dishes, grilled chicken and Fourth of July Hot Dogs. Ice cream creations galore...

But after 12 months, you start to miss the other things...the warm spicy breads. The creamy soups. The simmering roasts and hearty stews that guide you into winter.

It's hard to cook those foods when it's 80+ degrees outside. They're just too heavy.

But, thankfully, we're having a cold snap. Temperatures are down to a brisk 40 degrees. And that means I can cook my favorite fall February.

Note: This recipe calls for rigatoni, but you can use any thick pasta. I love cavatappi. Penne would also be grand. Just don't run out to the store if you don't have EXACTLY what a pasta recipe calls for...look for something in your pantry that is similar in shape/ thickness/ or texture. It's all good. And in case your knowledge of pasta shapes and what they're suited for is limited to spaghetti, check out the National Pasta Association at

This serves four. Double if you have more to feed.

Apple-Sausage Rigatoni

6 oz. dried rigatoni
8 oz. cooked smoked sausage, halved lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces (use turkey sausage to cut calories...or the real stuff for a delicious treat)
1-1/2 lb. Golden Delicious apples, cored and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola or other blue cheese
Snipped fresh basil

- In a 4-qt. Dutch oven, cook pasta according to package directions, drain. Set aside.

- In same Dutch oven cook sausage until lightly browned.

- Add apples; cook, stirring occasionally, until apples are lightly golden, 5 to 7 minutes.

- Stir in cooked pasta, whipped cream, and cheese. Heat through. Garnish with basil.

courtesy Better Homes and Gardens

Capellini Caprese

My recipes are easy. They are knock-offs. That's the way I like 'em. This one is no exception.

Most people find it challenging to make a meal that is vegetarian. The EASIEST way is to focus on pastas. So here is our dinner for tonight...a vegetarian friendly pasta dish that is fresh and easy.

Just so you know - with a big family and limited income, I can't afford to shop at specialty grocery stores. I LOVE Whole Foods, and Trader Joes, and even Vons and Publix...but they are usually out of budget. I get 50% of my groceries at Wal-Mart (yes - it's true), and another 50% at CostCo. All my meat, most of my produce, bread, frozen stuff, and snacks come from CostCo. Dairy, dry goods, and things I only need a little of (and the not the super-industrial-feed-a-small-country amount), I get at Wal-Mart.

I just didn't want you to think that spend a lot of money. I don't. Not that this recipe would make you think that I do. It's pretty much a, "Hmmmm...what do I have leftover in the pantry?" kinda recipe. When thinking up sides...keep with the light-and-fresh-pasta theme...a fresh spinach salad instead a heavily garnished traditional green salad, breadsticks instead of thickly buttered garlic bread. Or skip the bread all together and whip up some brushetta. Easy-peasey.

I double this recipe, as it serves 4 people with 1-1/2 cup servings...and I am feeding 7 people.

Capellini Caprese

1/2 lb capellini or spaghetti, uncooked
1/2 cup Kraft Tuscan House Italian Dressing and Marinade
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced

(dirty little save time, I buy the big jars of pre-minced garlic. Purists will rage at me - and I understand. I do. I used to be you. And then I had 5 children)

3 cups halved grape or cherry tomatoes
1 cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1/3 cup fresh basil, finely sliced

- Cook pasta according to package directions

- Meanwhile, heat dressing in non-stick skillet on med-high heat. Add onions and garlic, cook and stir 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, cook 5 minutes or until heated through, stirring occasionally

- Drain pasta. Add tomato mixture; mix lightly. Sprinkle with cheese and basil.


Thursday, February 5, 2009

Beef Creole and Rice

Feeding kids is challenging. Especially a lot of kids, all at the same time. See - they all have different tastes and likes, and it is near IMPOSSIBLE to please everyone at the same time. So I started a that I could put recipes on for other moms like me. Moms who are tired. Moms who hate cooking the same things over and over. Moms on a budget. Moms with more kids than hands. Moms that are DESPERATE.
For all those moms out there like me...I understand. I relate. I am here to help...I think.

For my first entry, I thought I'd start with what we're having for dinner tonight...and that is: Beef Creole and Rice.

Don't's not tricky, and doesn't require hard to find ethnic ingredients. It is safe for all white girls out there...well, it's safe for EVERYONE, but I've noticed white girls have a fear of anything that's not distinctly "American", so my disclaimer is really for them. Don't worry, gringas!! I understand!! I, too, used to fear the ethnic aisle at the local grocery store. Stick with me a little while, and I'll help you overcome your fear...but first, we're gonna start out slow, and that is Beef Creole and Rice.

Beef Creole and Rice is easy, cheap, and yummy. It meets all the requirements for your average weekday dinner. It pairs nice with a simple green or (especially) fruit salad. You can spice it up or mellow it is COMPLETELY up to interpretation.

And for those EXTRA picky can serve just the rice. (I have one of those. No Beef Creole...just Rice. With soy sauce. Whatever.)

Beef Creole With Rice
1 lb. ground beef
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/4 tsp. garlic salt (I use real minced garlic and a pinch of salt...about 2 cloves worth)
1 medium bell pepper, cut into thin strips
2 cups diagonally sliced celery
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 tsp chili powder (heres where I up it a bit...I add 1 TBS)
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 TBS flour
3 cups conventional white rice

-Start rice following package directions. While it simmers/steams, prepare Beef Creole as follows:

-Cook ground beef with onion and garlic until brown. Drain off fat.
- Add bell pepper, celery, juice from the can of tomatoes, chili powder, salt, and pepper.
-Heat to boiling, then reduce to low heat and simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.
- In a cup, blend 1/4 cup water with 1 TBS flour
- Gradually stir into the meat mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened.
- Add the tomatoes from the can of tomatoes
- Heat thoroughly
- Serve over the hot rice

courtesy Deseret Recipes