Friday, May 22, 2015

Broccoli, Wraps, Soups, and Pasta (New Recipes of the Week ~5)

Here's what's been cookin' at our house lately...

Broccoli Oriental
The directions call for steaming the broccoli and pouring a warm orange sauce over it, but knowing half of my family's aversion to cooked broccoli, I opted to to serve the sauce as a dip. I would not recommend that. That little silver container is still sitting in the fridge half-eaten 2 weeks later!

Wraps a la Mexicana

1/3 c. cream cheese
1/2 an avocado, mashed
2 Tbsp. sour cream
4 8 inch flour tortillas
4 pieces leaf lettuce
1/2 lb cooked/grilled chicken

Combine cream cheese, avocado, and sour cream in a small bowl. Spread onto each tortilla. Place a piece of lettuce over the bottom half of the tortillas. Top with 1/4 of the chicken strips or slices. Drizzle with salsa. Fold edges inward, roll up, and cut in half diagonally. We are loving the $.29 avocado sales in wraps such as these!

The little spirals are leftover hummus, cheese, and lettuce spread onto the last tortilla in the package.

Slow-Cooked Vegetable Soup

Though this is a Taste of Home recipe, it was a bit on the healthy-tasting side for us. Garbanzo beans are not a family favorite along with cooked broccoli, but oh so good for you!

Sausage Mushroom Manicotti

1 lb bulk Italian sausage, cooked (I seasoned my own ground venison.)
1/2 c diced onion
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tbsp. butter
9 oz. sliced mushrooms
1 can cream of mushroom soup (I cooked a white sauce instead.)
1/2 c. sour cream
1/4 tsp pepper
8 oz. manicotti shells, cooked
5 oz. milk
1 Tbsp minced fresh or 1 tsp. dried parsley
1 1/2 c. mozzarella cheese

Saute onions and garlic in butter until tender. Add mushrooms; heat through. Stir in soup, sour cream, pepper, milk, and parsley. Mix in cooked meat and pasta and cheese, reserving some to sprinkle on top. Heat through. (Or you can transfer to a baking dish, cover and bake 350* for 25 minutes.)

By the photos, I obviously did not use manicotti. I've never even made manicotti and have only eaten it once. That was at 11 o'clock at night and I was terribly hungry. Of course my hosts hadn't even gotten home from the grocery until 9pm and started dinner after that, hence I am convinced that stuffed manicotti can never be a fast family meal. However, pasta shells may be substituted for a quick version. We all heartily approved of this recipe, though I would call it stroganoff. 

Hamburger Vegetable Crock

Baking Day
Date Crumb Cake, Cinnamon Rolls, and little Sandwich Buns cut with a biscuit cutter.

A heavy sweet breakfast cake with dates and nuts. We replaced the dates with raisins and skipped the nuts. It is still tasty, especially with milk on top!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Pasta, Quesadillas, Steaks, and Carrots (New Recipes of the Week ~4)

The recipes from this week were mostly keepers for us. Below you will find the recipes for the ones we like!

Cheddar Chicken Spirals
3 c. uncooked spiral pasta
1 c. mayonnaise
2/3 c. milk
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dried basil
2 c. mixed vegetables
2 c. cooked chicken
2 c. shredded cheddar cheese

Cook noodles according to package directions. In a bowl, combine mayonnaise, milk, salt, and basil. Stir in vegetables, chicken, and 1 c. cheese. Drain pasta. Stir in veggie mixture. Cover pan and cook on medium until hot, 10-15 minutes. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top. (Or you can microwave on high 5-6 minutes.)
Everyone approved of this simple recipe. I would rate it well mostly because it is fast and filling.

Egg Scramble

Potatoes, eggs, sour cream, cheese, and seasonings make for a hearty breakfast, but the children prefer their scrambled eggs and fried taters separate.

Molasses Cookie Dough Balls

For the freezer. This way we can have fresh baked cookies in a snap if we have last minute company or need a finger food for a gathering.

Double Decker Quesadillas
1 package corn tortillas
white cheese
yellow cheese
4 oz. diced green chilies
1 bell pepper, cut in strips
1/2 c. black olives, sliced
1/2 c. onion, chopped
sour cream

Place the first tortilla on buttered griddle or skillet and sprinkle some bell pepper, onion, and yellow cheese on top. Place 2nd tortilla on top and sprinkle some olives, chilies, and white cheese on that. Place 3rd tortilla on top. Brown over medium heat until tortilla is golden brown and cheese is melted. Flip once. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Serve with sour cream and salsa. We used part flour tortillas as well.

Mm Mm Mexican. It's so yummy and so pretty! These quesadillas were a fun variation of the normal two tortilla griddle sandwich.

Pepper Steaks with Balsamic Onions
1 Tbsp. oil
2 Tbsp. butter
1 1/2 lbs. onion, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sugar (optional)
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
freshly cracked peppercorns
4 boned steaks

Melt oil and butter over medium heat. Add onions and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. Add sugar, vinegar, and thyme. Cook until liquid has evaporated, 2 minutes longer. Serve over grilled meat with plenty of black pepper.

The sweet, crispy onion topping add delicious flavor to these pan fried/broiled steaks. I tried half venison and half beef...we liked the deer better! Next time we will grill the meat for extra yumminess.

Flavorful Carrots

If you like cooked carrots, you will love this side dish. My hubs even approved and he does not care for carrots -unless they're dunked in peanut butter. I have never considered a warm creamy mixture for carrots, but it's kind of like a dip, only hot. I suppose if you have a hankering for a cold veggie tray on a winter night but don't want to be chilled, these would be great!

5 c. sliced carrots
3 Tbsp. chopped green pepper
2 Tbsp. chopped onion
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
8 oz. sour cream
1/2 tsp.salt
1/2 tsp grated lemon peel
1/8 tsp. pepper

Simmer carrots in 1 in. of water for 9 minutes until tender. Drain water. Stir in remaining ingredients. Warm through. We used canned carrots, which made it very fast.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

What's Growing in the Kansas Garden in March and April


We originally planned to layer newspaper, and manure over the garden soil in the fall, but it is so hard for me to pull out any plant that's still producing just to work the ground. Unfortunately then cold weather set in and the garden lay bare until now.

We shoveled out several pick-up loads of cow manure from a neighbor. It was quite old and clumpy and I eventually had to garden rake out a lot of the chunks to actually plant seeds. Live and learn, but the soil is improved!

Also in March my sweet C helped me plant lettuce, cabbage, and tomatoes indoors...and some flowers for her. Our makeshift grow-light is perched on the hearth, which is no longer active this time of year, with potting soil filled strawberry boxes to put seeds in.  


Here are the lettuce containers almost ready to go in the garden! I set them outside in the shade of our front porch for a couple hours for a couple days to get used to the realities of outdoor life.

Poking up through the soil is mint, buried in a bucket to keep from spreading...

and strawberries. 
I received a few plants free with our tree row order last year and also dug some from a friend's patch that was getting crowded.

I saved seeds from heirloom tomatoes last year that were given to us by a friend. There were 10 or so different varieties, but I mixed them together in a my paper packet. This year's tomatoes will be a mystery! They sprouted well (ahem, 65 plants) under the flourescent light!

Near the end of April, we planted the baby tomato plants in the garden and put milk jugs over them like a mini greenhouse instead of hardening them off. A new experiment.

I didn't have quite enough jugs so used a gallon tin can to protect a couple plants.

The peas are beginning to sprout and grow. It seems like it took them an extra long time, however they are in a quite a bit of shade throughout the day. Dear S fastened an old gate in the garden for the peas to climb on.

The cool season seeds I planted are coming up too...
Turnips. Kale. Red Beets.

Sweet C and I planted 160 red onions from sets, plus a few Candy that didn't grow well last summer that over-wintered and were just a bit larger than the store-bought sets. We decided not to plant onions since I can buy them for $.33 a pound, but that sale is usually just for yellow onions, so hopefully we can enjoy some garden-fresh red slices on grilled burgers too.



This is one of the six potato rows planted with sprouted Russets from the store @ $.20 a pound. We weren't going to plant any of these as well, because of the sale price, but they were quite squishy and useless anyway. 5 pounds planted is supposed to yield 50-75 pounds. We shall see at harvest time!

The transplanted lettuce. 
It took a little while to get established. I have never started lettuce inside, but this year I tried it with seeds I saved from last year's bolted crop.

The strawberries are blooming and growing!

How does your garden grow?

Thursday, April 30, 2015

New Recipes of the Week ~3

Vegetable Barley Salad
The vinaigrette dressing gave this salad good flavor, but the chewy texture (not to mention gray color) vetoed this recipe. Unfortunately, we are not a pasta salad, bean salad, grain salad eating family.

Taco Bake

Super easy and tasty. 
When I was a child, my mom fixed a similar dish called Chili Mac. This was rated 8 on a scale of 1-10, so it stays in the recipe book. However it is nothing gourmet.

1 lb. ground meat
1 onion, chopped
3/4 c. water
1 package taco seasoning
15 oz. tomato sauce
8 oz. macaroni, cooked & drained
4 oz. green chilies, chopped
2 c. shredded cheese

Brown meat and onion. Add water, seasoning, and tomato sauce. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in the macaroni, chilies, and half of the cheese. Bake at 350* for 30 minutes. Top with remaining cheese. I used 13 oz. macaroni and 1/2 c. more tomato sauce, then skipped the baking and warmed it in the pan.

Banana Muesli 

3 c. oats
3 c. yogurt
3 bananas
1/2 c. raisins or 4 dates
3/4 tsp. vanilla

Soak oats in yogurt overnight. Add the rest in the morning. Stir. Or stir all together just before ready to eat. I used more oats and added a couple cups of water to make a larger amount.

I love muesli recipes because they are so forgiving. You can stir them up to set overnight or mix in the morning for an extremely fast, filling breakfast. This recipe came from the THM ladies before they became Trim Healthy Mamas! 

Southwestern Chicken Barley Soup

1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Tbsp. oil
1 can whole kernel corn
1 can black beans
15 oz. tomato sauce
15 oz. diced tomatoes
14 oz. chicken broth
1/2 c. pearl barley
4 oz. chopped green chilies
1/2 Tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
2-3 c. cooked, shredded chicken

Saute onion & garlic in oil. Add the next 9 ingredients. Bring to a boil. Simmer for 45 minutes. Stir in chicken. Heat through. I used home canned tomato juice in place of the sauce and diced tomatoes. 

Great spicy flavor!

Make Ahead Meatball Subs 

We made meatballs from 4 pounds of deerburger, put some on trays to freeze and bag, and the rest were baked on baking day. Once that part is done making these subs is a snap. I prefer a different meatball recipe than this that has more garlic and onion.  


Fun to try once! These took more time than they're worth with a whole wheat crust. Hot from the oven they were crisp, but after cooling, they turned chewy and bland.

Baked Oatmeal
A friend passed this recipe on for me to try. It was sweet and filling, but we prefer the crunchier baked oatmeal that bakes up much quicker than an hour. 

Individual Pizzas

No recipe, just assorted goodies to top your own homemade crust. I put 2 layers of cheese on mine... Mmm.

Buffalo Ranch Popcorn

1 Tbsp. Ranch Dry Mix
1 Tbsp. celery salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. cayenne 
1/4 tsp. vegetable oil
6 quarts popped pocorn

In a small bowl stir ranch mix, celery salt, garlic, sugar, and cayenne. Drizzle oil over popcorn, sprinkle seasoning on, and toss.

I clipped this from our local electric co-op magazine. We have a spice container we keep filled with homemade Ranch Mix, so this recipe is quite quick and very musty (must have more)!

A couple more dishes we tried this week were Mock Pasta Alfredo and Beefy Taco Joes. I didn't get snapshots of these, but they're not keepers anyway. I am filing my rejected recipes together if you'd like to try them. I can get you the directions.