Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Contest Follow-up

Yes, I was supposed to announce the "guess the ingredients" contest on Friday, but life happened. I had a birthday party for 7-year old boy, a toddler battling a six day case of hives, grocery shopping, lost car keys, a sleepover, and other everyday stuff that all conspired against me.

In short, no one guessed all 13 ingredients correctly! Here's the list: onion, garlic, zucchini, carrots, salt, pepper, olive oil, oregano, rosemary, red peppers (pureed),  green pepper, celery, crushed red pepper flakes.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Fun Contest

So I was making spaghetti sauce this afternoon, and I thought, "Man, there are a lot of ingredients in there!" Which led me to wonder if anyone could guess what was in the pot ... which led me to a contest!

The first person to guess correctly the BAKER'S DOZEN ingredients in the pot, wins a copy of the Barefoot In The Kitchen Cookbook! You must list all THIRTEEN ingredients, with nothing missing or added.

Here's a picture of the pot:

And a close-up: (You can also click on the picture to enlarge it.)

I leave you with one hint: There are NO tomatoes in the sauce yet!

The contest will end in 24 hours (deadline: 4 pm Friday!) - but only ONE guess per person. Have fun!

Apple-Carrot Muffins

Apple-Carrot Muffins

1 cup all-purpose flour
1-1/3 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup quick-cooking oats
1 cup old-fashioned oats
2 Tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup unsweetened apple juice
2 eggs
2/3 cup melted butter
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups finely shredded carrots
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and shredded.

In a large bowl, stir together the dry ingredients until well blended. In a separate bowl, combine the wet ingredients, including carrots and apple. Add the wet to the dry, stirring just until everything comes together. (If you overstir, your muffins will be tough.) Fill greased or lined muffins cups 3/4 full. Bake at 375 for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the muffins to cool slightly before removing to a wire rack. Yield: 2 dozen muffins

Monday, August 22, 2011

Sunday Night Review 8/21

Every once in a while, I love to make breakfast for supper. It's my favorite meal, mainly because it doesn't generally include any vegetables! It tends to be my go-to meal when the cupboards are otherwise bare. Of course, I much prefer to plan ahead and actually make a really good breakfast menu! That's what I did for this past Sunday night. I never know ahead of time how many "college people" are going to show up from week to week, and breakfast usually stretches pretty easily. We had the most people I think we've ever had this time, with 20! Add our kids into the mix, and you know we had a packed house.

Here's the menu:

Hashbrown Casserole
*Brown Sugar Bacon (one of the college guys has dubbed it THE Bacon and that name has stuck!)
*Scrambled Eggs
Cinnamon Rolls (2 pans, 32 rolls. Half with pecans, half without.)
**Apple-Carrot Muffins (These were just leftover from a Saturday baking session.)

I figure everyone has a recipe for Hashbrown Casserole, but I'll share mine with you here, anyway! It's really simple, and one of my favorite dishes.

Hashbrown Casserole
1 package frozen Southern-style hashbrowns
1 can (10-3/4 oz.) cream of chicken soup
8 ounces sour cream
8 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese
4 tablespoons butter, melted
Salt and pepper to taste

Stir all ingredients together in a large bowl. Pour into a greased 9 x 13 baking dish. Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes, until bubbly and cheese is completely melted.

* These recipes are in my cookbook, but I haven't shared them on the blog yet.
** I'll share this recipe soon, in another post.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Delicious Lunch - Tomato Soup

I had a very tasty, surprisingly filling lunch yesterday! I had taken a chance at Kroger the other day and bought a carton of tomato soup from the organic section, and it seriously paid off. I spent about $3 on the carton of Imagine Garden Tomato Soup, compared to about $1 on the standard Campbell's Condensed Tomato Soup. Keep in mind, though, that I'll get 3-4 servings from the carton, and the can would only be 1 serving. Continuing the comparison:

80 calories
300mg sodium
16g carbs
2g sugar
2g fiber
2g protein
15% vitamin A
30% vitamin C
2% calcium
4% iron

90 calories
480g sodium
20g carbs
12g sugar
1g fiber
2g protein
8% vitamin A
10% vitamin C
0% calcium
4% iron

To boost the flavor and  nutrition, I added 1/2 cup roasted red pepper puree, fresh-ground black pepper and a sprinkling of feta cheese. For the puree, I roasted two peppers in my oven until they were blackened. Immediately after removing from the oven, I covered them tightly with foil and let them steam. Then I removed the skin (it slips off pretty easily!), seeds and stems. The meat of the pepper went straight into the blender along with the juice from the steaming packet and a couple of tablespoons of water. I pureed it, pouring some into the pot with my tomato soup, some into the carton with the rest of the soup, and the remainder went into freezer containers for another time!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sunday Night Review 8/14

This Sunday night was special since it marked The Boy's seventh birthday. I wanted to make something he really likes, but that everyone else could enjoy, too. Almost immediately, I knew: Mexican food is always a sure bet with our crowd! Build-your-own tacos are a great option for a crowd, because everyone can serve themselves just what they like. Vegetarian, lactose-intolerant, low-carb ... there's something for everyone!

The menu is simple, with little actual cooking involved. I sauteed a couple of pounds of ground venison with onion and garlic, and seasoned it with cumin, red pepper flakes, chili powder, salt and pepper. Then I stirred in some salsa, a bit of beef broth, and a can of vegetarian refried beans. I also cooked up a pot of rice, using beef broth instead of water. Everything else just needed to be heated or chopped or diced! To top the flour tortillas, I provided lettuce, tomato, cheddar cheese, black beans, corn, and sour cream.

For dessert, I made a chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream frosting. It was VERY good! And what's birthday cake without ice cream? One of our guys works at Mayfield Dairy and he had given us a coupon for a free "half-gallon" (1.75 quarts these days!) of ice cream. We went with Cookies and Cream.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Venison Pot Roast

I know, it's been a while since I really updated, and I'm sorry! I've had a very busy week, in which The Boy turned 7, Handsome turned, um, another year older, and lots of other stuff happened. At any rate, I'm finally getting around to posting my recipe for venison roast!

Handsome's birthday is just two days apart from our good friend EC's birthday, so we had EC over to celebrate with us. I wanted to make something special and my sweet friend The Crazy Goat Lady had given us a venison roast which I thought would be perfect for the occasion. Except that I couldn't find a good recipe anywhere! I knew venison roasts could be gamey or tough if not cooked properly and I needed pointers. I eventually found inspiration in a couple of places and came up with this delicious recipe. The roast was really perfect. Tender, juicy, flavorful, not gamey at all! I served it with mashed potatoes, gravy, fried squash, carrots, green beans, and Bisclettes. And may I say that it is a such a joy to feed someone who (besides Handsome and me) actually enjoys eating what I cook!

Venison Pot Roast

1 venison roast, bone-in
4 slices bacon, cut into thirds
1/4 cup red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
1 cup beef broth
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, halved

Rinse the roast in cold water and place in a slow cooker, and top with remaining ingredients. Cook on low for 8-9 hours. I turned it over halfway through the time, just to make sure that it stayed in the cooking liquid. At that time, I also added in baby carrots so I'd have one side dish that didn't need tending!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Sunday Night Review - 8/7

Wow, has it been a crazy, busy week! And we haven't even started school yet!

Anyway, Sunday night I kept it simple. We had burgers (I seasoned the meat with lemon-pepper seasoning and a bit of soy sauce) along with chips. I served my Summer Cake for dessert. I'd share the recipe with you, but Jeff wants me to have a "secret recipe", just like any Southern woman worth her salt, I guess!

I do have a couple of new recipes that I CAN share with you, and those will be coming up soon. I hope y'all are having a great week!

Friday, August 5, 2011

My Littlest Chef

The other day when I was cooking, Little One (18 months) wanted nothing more than to sit on my hip! Since I really needed both arms, I decided to pull up our little stool and let her go to town with a bowl and whatever she could find.
As I chopped things, she ended up with the scraps - herbs, zucchini, potato, green onions. It was too sweet the way she would stir them together, pretend to put them in, "taste" everything ... and look up at me to make sure I was watching! She had so much fun that she cried when I had to get her down.

I'm typically impatient in the kitchen, and don't always enjoy having my kids in there "helping" because I'm just anxious to get dinner on the table. I've been making an effort, though, to involve the kids more. Oldest Girl (10) and The Boy (7) have taken on the responsibility (and fun!) of choosing one meal a week each to plan and make. They help me with everything from the grocery list to the clean up! I've had fun with them being a part of the whole process, and they love it, too.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Baked Chicken

Yesterday, I baked a chicken for dinner using a cool baking contraption my mom bought for me.

It works just like the "Soda Can Chicken" concept, only you can use whatever liquid you like in the middle. My favorite thing is fruit juice - orange or apple, or a blend of different citrus juices.

The chicken sits in it, like a special little chair.
I marinated the chicken this time (I don't always), in a blend of onion, garlic, rosemary, thyme, sage, salt, pepper, and apple juice. Then you just bake the little guy (gal) for about an hour at 375°, testing with a meat thermometer to make sure it's done.

The lovely part about this is that you can use the meat for your meal, then make broth with the bones! I have a pot working right now (it smells SO good!) full of my chicken bones, carrots, onion, and S&P. After simmering it for a couple of hours, I'll strain everything out, then let the broth sit in the fridge overnight. In the morning I'll skim off the fat and store the broth in the freezer.

Bonus: I only paid about $3.50 for this chicken and it will provide two meals, plus the broth for another one or two meals.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Smooth Strawberry Soup

If you like strawberries, you will LOVE this soup. It is sweet, cool, creamy, pink, and divine! It's a wonderful special treat for our family. The blend of flavors is perfect.

Smooth Strawberry Soup

1 quart strawberries, halved 
2 cups apple juice (natural, unsweetened)
1 cup (8 ounces) reduced-fat sour cream 
1/4 cup packed brown sugar 
1/2 cup honey 
2 tablespoons lemon juice 
1-1/2 cups half-and-half cream 
3 tablespoons orange juice

In a large bowl, combine the first six ingredients. Place half of the mixture in a blender; cover and process until pureed. Transfer to a large bowl. Repeat with the remaining strawberry mixture. (At this point you can strain the mixture to remove the strawberry seeds, but it's not necessary.) Stir in cream and orange juice. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Bookworm Birthday Party

When our Oldest Girl turned 2, I had a book-themed birthday party for her. She loved (loves) books! I found an old notebook of mine today while cleaning out/organizing a bookshelf and found the notes I had written on that party. Here are the ideas I used for the menu:

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish ... Goldfish! (Dr. Seuss) - a bowl of Goldfish snack crackers.

Click Clack Moo Juice (Cronin/Lewin) - Mocha Punch

Today I Feel Silly Cupcakes (Jamie Lee Curtis) - I used a basic cupcake recipe and frosting. I provided a variety of candy so guests could decorate their own cupcake.

Where The Wild Things Are Monster Mix (Sendak) - homemade caramel corn with peanuts

Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs (Barrett) - my standard meatball recipe - a small jar of grape jelly and a jar of chili sauce mixed with meatballs and heated in a slow cooker.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad ... Vegetables (Viorst/Cruz) - Um, a tray of veggies, of course!

Bread and Butter Battle Book (Dr. Seuss) - homemade rolls with homemade cinnamon-honey butter

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie (Numeroff) - cookies! I don't remember what recipe I used, and my only note on this says, "dipped sandwich cookies".

At each of the dishes, I placed the corresponding children's book. As conversation starters, I printed out the first lines from different children's books so that people could guess the book. The party invitations were apple shapes cut from red construction paper - "It's a birthday party for a bookworm!" I made a brown worm tab that you could pull from the apple. The worm wore glasses and had a message written down his body - "We can't wait to see you!"

This is also a great idea for a back-to-school party, or just a celebration of great children's literature!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Sunday Night Review: 7/31

Our church had a big end-of-summer cookout/picnic party last night, which means I didn't cook dinner. I did make some cookies to share, though! Since Handsome and I are involved in two Sunday School classes - one of other old people like us (ha!) and the one we teach with the college/singles, I made two batches of cookies. I took some of both to each class's cookout. The first batch I made was my Mint Chocolate Softies. Then I changed up the recipe a little and made Strawberry Softies. I just used strawberry cake mix instead of the chocolate, and mini chocolate chips instead of the mint chips. I needed the mini chips for another recipe so that's what I bought, but I really wanted to try white chocolate chips in the strawberry cookies. At any rate, the general consensus was that the Strawberry Softies were even better than the Mint Chocolate!