Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sunday Dinner

When I grew up, Sunday was family day.  We usually went to visit my grandparents in the afternoon and came home and ate a big meal together as a family.  I really miss those days and the time spent with my grandparents.  I had the greatest grandparents in the world.  I always said they trained the best grandparents how to be grandparents.  I don't have my grandparents anymore, but they left me with so many fabulous memories and a supply of endless love.

Sunday dinner was the biggest meal of the week.  Now that I'm the one cooking dinner, I may not always prepare a big meal, but I prepare one that usually takes a little longer since I have more time to work on it.  Tonight I made chicken patties, black eye peas, rice, and chocolate chip cookies.  I'm posting the recipe for the chicken patties for you to enjoy.  Sometimes ground chicken can be hard to find, but you can usually find it at Ingles.

Chicken Patties

 1 lb. ground chicken
1 cup of plain flour
salt and pepper to taste
½ - ¾  cup of milk
1 egg

In a small bowl, combine the egg and milk.  Beat together with a fork.  In a plastic bag, mix the flour, salt, and pepper.  Divide ground chicken into 4 portions and roll into a ball.  Dip chicken into milk and egg mixture and then place in bag with flour and shake to coat.  Repeat this step again.  If you have a George Foreman, dip the chicken balls in the milk mixture one more time and then place on the George Foreman until golden brown (about 8 minutes).  If you don’t have a George Foreman, put a little oil in a frying pan and heat up.  DO NOT roll the chicken balls in the milk mixture again.  Place flour coated chicken in the frying pan and flatten with a spatula.   Brown on each side.  Remove from pan and place chicken on paper towels to help absorb the oil off the meat. 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Mini Cook-A-Thon

I  got up this morning and started thinking about eating breakfast before school.  I like something I can fix that is quick and doesn't take too much thought since I have to get up at 5:40 to start getting ready.  I found this recipe for breakfast burritos on another person's blog.   I cut it in half because I really didn't want to make 20 burritos.  If you have kids, 20 burritos probably won't last that long and it would be beneficial to you not to cut the recipe in half.   Then I decided to make a couple of spinach quiches and put them in the freezer.  While I was at it, I decided to make a Three Cheese Penne Pasta dish.  I didn't have any penne pasta, but I did have the tri-color bow-tie pasta.  It works!  I ended up with 22 breakfasts and 2 more dinners for the freezer.


One other thing I thought of while I was cooking was to tell you about a little  something I stumbled upon.  I was at Publix one day and they had cut up a pork roast that was on sale for $2.99 a pound.   They had cut it up into cube steaks, boneless pork chops, a pork roast, and another cut of meat.  Another day they had done the same thing with a beef roast.  It was cut into stew meat, cube steaks, steaks, and a beef roast.  I learned they will do this for you any time!  I ended up with 9 meals (not including leftovers) from each of these roasts.  Kroger is going to put pork loins on sale next week for $1.98 a pound.  They will cut their pork loins into boneless pork chops at no additional costs.  This is just another way to save money at the grocery store.


Below are the recipes I made today.  Happy cooking!


Breakfast Burrito

1 Tb. butter
2 Tb. chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped green, yellow, orange, or red pepper
9 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup chopped ham
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cups shredded cheddar cheese
10 flour or wheat tortillas

Saute onions and green pepper in butter. Beat eggs and milk together and pour into the skillet with the onions and peppers.
Add the ham, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until eggs are set. Mix in cheese and let melt.
Scoop 1/3 cup egg mixture onto tortillas. Fold ends under and roll up. Freeze (see instructions below) or put all burritos in a baking dish, top with extra cheese (if you’d like) and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until heated through. Serve with salsa.

Freezer Instructions:
Wrap burrito in a paper towel and then in a sheet of foil. Seal tightly and place in freezer bags. When bag is full, remove all air and seal. Freeze.

To serve: Remove foil and put paper-towel-wrapped burrito in microwave. Reheat for around one minute. Serve with salsa, if desired.

Spinach Quiche

1 10 - 12 oz. box or bag of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
6 eggs
1 ½ cups of skim milk
1 small package of shredded Parmesan cheese
6 – 8 oz. of shredded Swiss cheese
2 uncooked pie shells (not deep shell)

Mix all ingredients together and pour into 2 uncooked pies shells.  Bake at 375 degrees for 30 min.  Let cool before cutting.

Freezer tip:  Cut into pieces and wrap up individually.  Put slices in a Ziploc bag and freeze.  Pull slices out as needed, thaw, and microwave.

Three Cheese Chicken Penne Pasta Bake

1 box penne pasta, uncooked
1 9 oz. package of fresh spinach leaves
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into bite size pieces
1 tsp. dried basil
3/4  jar of spaghetti sauce
1  14.5 oz. can of dices tomatoes, drained
2 oz. cream cheese, cubed
1 cup Mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 Tb. grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Cook pasta.  Add spinach leaves for last 1 minute.  Cook and stir chicken and basil in large pan over medium-high heat for 3 minutes.  Add sauce and tomatoes to chicken; bring to a boil.  Simmer for 3 minutes.  Stir in cream cheese.  Drain pasta and spinach.  Add chicken mixture and ½ cup of Mozzarella cheese.  Pour into a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.  Bake for 20 min.  Sprinkle remaining Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese on top and bake for 3 – 5 more minutes.

Hint:  You can use reduced fat cheeses to cut bake on calories.  I also use tri-color, wheat, or multi-grain pasta.
          You can divide the dish into 2 aluminum pans before baking and freeze if you choose.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Menu Planning

School starts back Monday and I will have to return to the reality of working again.  There goes sleeping late, playing on the computer for long periods of time, trips to the beach, no schedule, and going to the bathroom whenever I want to.  Yes, I said it.  Those who don't work in schools don't realize that teachers can't go to the bathroom whenever they want because the students have to be supervised at all times.  Once school starts back, I also have to come home and fix dinner after an exhausting day.  One trick that I find helpful is to make a menu out ahead of time.  Sometimes I use foods from the cook-a-thons I have, other foods I have in the freezer, or foods that are on sale in the grocery stores that week.  Sometimes I make a menu out for a week or two and sometimes I plan it for the month.  This keeps me from having to think about what to cook when I come home and I can take the meat out of the freezer before I leave for work.  If something comes up, like deciding to go out to dinner one night or eating leftovers, I will use the pre-decided meal the next night and move another night's meal to the next week.  Using the menu planning method also saves me time because I can plan ahead of time what I need to buy at the store.  I usually don't plan for Saturday or Sunday because those days are more laid back and we are out and about quite frequently.  I typically use a free calendar I receive in the mail or from the bank to list my meals.  Last year I received a free calendar from Betty Crocker; today I received a 2012 calendar from the Humane Society.  If you don't have a calendar, you can go online at and print them off by the month.  I usually just write down the main item for dinner because I can come up with the other stuff fairly quickly.  Some people choose to write down the entire menu.  It's whatever works best for you.  Today I made a calendar of menus out for two weeks and have listed them below.  Two of the items are recipes that I have posted today.

Leave a comment after you try a recipe and let me know how you like it.

      Week 1
Monday  -  Crunchy Onion Pork Chops
Tuesday  -  Hamburgers*
Wednesday  -  Meatloaf
Thursday  -  Tomato Bisque & grilled cheese sandwich
Friday  -  Italian Sausage Casserole

      Week 2
Monday  -  Swiss Steak
Tuesday  - Spaghetti*
Wednesday  -  Chicken Pot Pie Filling
Thursday  - Loaded Potato Soup and Salad
Friday  -  Chicken Crecents

*These items are basic and I have not posted a recipe for them.

Crunchy Onion Pork Chops (or Chicken)

1 small can of French’s Fried Onions
4 pork chops or boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 egg, beaten

Crush the onion rings in a plastic bag.  Dip pork chops or chicken breasts in the egg.  Place the meat in the plastic bag with the crushed onions and coat.  Place on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees.  Meat should not be pink in the center.

You can also use boneless pork chops.
Swiss Steak

4 pieces of cube steak
plain flour
salt and pepper to taste
1 can of tomato soup
1 small onion, chopped
2 ribs of celery, chopped

Combine flour, salt, and pepper in a plastic bag and mix.  Place the cube steak in the bag and shake to coat.  Put a little oil in a frying pan and brown each side of the cube steak.  Cover the steak with onions, celery, and tomato soup.  Make sure some of the soup gets under the meat.  If too thick, add a little water.  Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes until done.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

When Life Give You Lemons

When life gives you lemons, make something yummy!  Here are some of my favorite lemon flavored treats.

Lemon Meringue Pie

1 graham cracker pie shell
3 eggs, separated
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup of lemon juice from concentrate
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1/3 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.   in a medium bowl, beat egg yolks.  Stir in sweetened condensed milk and lemon juice.  Pour into crust.  In a small bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form.  Gradually add sugar.  Beat until stiff.  Spread meringue on top of the pie.  Spread to seal edges.  Bake for 12 - 15 minutes until meringue is golden brown.  Cool and chill before serving.
Lemon Ice Box Pie

1 graham cracker pie crust
1 small frozen lemonade
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
1 8 oz. Cool Whip

Thaw lemonade.  Mix lemonade, sweetened condensed milk and Cool Whip.  Pour into pie shell and chill.
Lemon-Blueberry Pie Cups

6 vanilla wafers
1 cup of boiling water
3/4 cup of cold water
3/4 cup blueberry pie filling
1 package (4 serving size) Lemon jello
1 tub 8 oz. Cool Whip

Place 1 vanilla wafer in the bottom of 6 dessert cups.  Top each wafer with 2 Tb. of pie filling.  In a separate bowl mix boiling water with jello.  Stir until dissolved.  Stir in cold water.  Refrigerate for 15 minutes until mixture is slightly thickened.  Stir in 1/2 of the Cool Whip until well blended.  Spoon over the pie filling in the cups.  Refrigerate for 2 hours until firm.  Top with Cool Whip and 3 blueberries, if desired.
Lemon Cheese Bars

1 yellow cake mix
1 8 oz. softened cream cheese
1/3 cup of sugar
1 tsp. lemon juice
2 eggs
1/3 cup of oil

Mix cake mix, 1 egg, 1/3 cup of oil until crumbly.  Reserve 1 cup of mixture.  Pat into an ungreased 9 x 13 inch pan.  Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.  Beat cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice, and 1 egg until light and smooth. Spread over baked layer.  Sprinkle with reserved mixture.  Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.  Cool completely.
Lemon Cream Delight

1 cup of self rising flour
1 stick of butter, softened
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Mix together and press into the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch pan.  Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

1 cup Cool Whip
1 cup of powdered sugar
1 8 oz. cream cheese, softened

Mix together and spread on top of cooled crust.

2 packages of instant Lemon pudding
3 cups of milk

Mix together until thickened.  Spread on top of last layer.  Top with Cool Whip.  Sprinkle chopped nuts, coconut, or both on top, if desired.  Chill.
Lemon-Grape Party Punch

1 24 oz. bottle of chilled grape juice
1 28 oz. chilled lemon-lime soda
2 Tb. lemon juice
Lemon slices for garnish, if desired

Mix all ingredients together and stir.

Chex Lemon Buddies

9 cups Rice Chex cereal
1 ¼ cups white baking chips
¼ cup butter
4 tsp. grated lemon peel (1 large lemon)
2 Tb. fresh lemon juice (1 large lemon)
2 cups powdered sugar

Put the cereal in a large bowl and set aside.  In a 1 quart microwaveable bowl, mix chips, butter, lemon peel and juice.  Microwave on high for 1 minute and stir.  Microwave about 30 more seconds or until the mixture can be stirred smoothly.  Pour mixture over the cereal and stir until evenly coated.  Pour into a 2 gallon Ziploc bag.  Add powdered sugar.  Seal bag and gently shake until well coated.  Spread on wax paper to cool.  Store in an airtight container.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Sometimes I want a change from the regular, everyday food I prepare.  When I start feeling this way, it usually means we are going to have something for dinner that falls in the category of Mexican or Italian.  Tonight I chose Mexican!  Yum-O!  I could eat Mexican food several times a week if it were up to me.  Unfortunately, there are others in my home that like Mexican, but not as much as I do so I have to mix it up.  As they say, "Variety is the spice of life."  Here are a few Mexican dishes to add to your recipe box!


Flour tortillas at room temperature
1 onion chopped
Monterrey Jack Cheese slices

Place a chopped onion in a bowl and place a tsp. of butter in the bowl.  Cover with a piece of wax paper and microwave for 3 minutes.  Melt some butter in a pan.  Lay a tortilla in the pan for a moment.  Take tortilla out and flip it to the other side.  Lay Monterrey Jack cheese on 1/2 of the tortilla.  Sprinkle onions on top.  Fold the tortilla and brown on each side.

You can add a variety of other ingredients to individualize your quesadilla. You might enjoy adding:
shredded chicken
mushrooms (cook first)
chopped tomatoes
sour cream
Mexican Casserole

1 chicken, cooked and shredded


4 Tb. of dried onions
1 can of cream of chicken
1 can of cream of mushrooms
1 can of RoTel
1 pack of taco seasoning: hot or mild

Mix the ingredients for the sauce together in a pot and simmer until warm.

Nacho chips
Shredded cheddar cheese

In a 9x13 dish layer with nacho chips, shredded chicken, sauce, nacho chips.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 - 25 minutes.  Top with cheddar cheese and bake for 5 more minutes.  Serve with sour cream.
A former neighbor and friend shared this recipe with me. She is an AWESOME cook!  You will LOVE this!

Corn Dip

1 can of Mexicorn, drained
1 cup of light mayonnaise
1 cup of shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
sliced jalapenos, optional

Mix together.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 min.  Serve with tortilla chips.
Rotel Dip

1 lb. of Velveeta Cheese
1 can of RoTel
Tortilla Chips

Cube cheese and put in a microwaveable bowl.  Pour the can of RoTel on top of the cheese.  Microwave for 2 minutes.  Stir and microwave for 2 more minutes.  Stir and continue microwaving in 1 minute increments until cheese is melted and dip is smooth.  Serve with tortilla chips.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Let Them Eat Cake!

I love cake.  I think dinner should start with dessert so you can make sure you have room for it.  Actually, I love all kinds of dessert, but that's another topic for another day.  When you make baked goods, make sure you are using regular butter or margarine.  If not, the cake will be drier and crack.  I learned this the hard way.  Something else I started doing is to make the cake in 2 layers and freeze one layer for later use.  If you make a bundt cake, cut it in half and freeze it.  This gives you a quick dessert for another time and it also keeps you from having sweets sitting around the house  too long.  Wrap the cake in plastic wrap while it's still warm and put it directly into the freezer.  This causes the moisture to be frozen into the cake so it will be moist when it thaws.  If the cake needs to be frosted, frost it while it's still frozen.  This keeps crumbs from getting into your icing and traps the moisture in the cake as it thaws.  With that being said, here are some good cake recipes. 

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cake

1 pkg. (2-layer size) devil's food cake mix
1 pkg.  (8 oz.) Cream Cheese, softened
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup  creamy peanut butter
1 pkg. (8 oz.) Cool Whip , thawed, divided
6 squares  Semi-Sweet Chocolate

Prepare cake batter and bake in 13x9-inch pan as directed on package; cool completely. Beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl with mixer until well blended. Add peanut butter; mix well. Blend in 1 cup Cool Whip; spread onto cake. Melt chocolate as directed on package. Mix with remaining Cool Whip; spread over cake. Refrigerate 1 hour.

Peanut Butter Cake

A friend made this cake for my daughter's family It's SO good!

Prepare 1 butter yellow cake mix in a 9x13 pan.  Cool completely.  
If the cake is not completely cool, the icing will not stay on top of the cake.


2 cups sugar
1 stick butter
1 5oz. can evaporated milk
2 Tb. creamy peanut butter
½ tsp. vanilla

Cook sugar, butter, and evaporated milk on medium heat stirring constantly.  Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes.  Add peanut butter and vanilla.  Stir until melted.  Pour mixture into a bowl and, with a mixer, beat on medium-high speed for 5 minutes until glossy.  Pour the icing over the cake and allow time to cool.

Lemon Blueberry Bundt Cake

 3  cups  all-purpose flour
2  teaspoons  baking powder
1/2  teaspoon  salt
1/2  cup  lemon juice
1  teaspoon  vanilla extract
1/2  cup  buttermilk
2 sticks of softened butter
2  cups  sugar
2  teaspoons  grated lemon zest
4  eggs
2  cups  blueberries 


2  cups  confectioners' sugar
1  tablespoon  buttermilk
2  to 4 Tbsp. lemon juice

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 12-cup Bundt pan with melted butter, add a few tablespoons of flour and rotate pan to evenly coat, tapping out excess OR using baking spray.
2. Sift 3 cups flour with baking powder and salt into a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine lemon juice, vanilla and buttermilk.
3. In a second large bowl, beat butter, sugar and lemon zest until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Add about 1/4 of flour mixture, followed by 1/4 of buttermilk mixture, mixing just until incorporated. Repeat, alternating dry and liquid ingredients, until batter is thoroughly combined. Gently fold in blueberries. Transfer batter to pan, spreading evenly.
4. Bake until a tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 1 hour. Let cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove the cake from the pan.
5. Make glaze: Mix confectioners' sugar, buttermilk and 2 Tbsp. lemon juice in a bowl, stirring until smooth. Glaze should be pourable; if it's too thick, add lemon juice, 1 tsp. at a time, until it reaches desired consistency. Pour half of glaze over warm cake. Let cool for 1 hour, then pour remaining glaze over cake and serve.

HINT:   If you plan to freeze half of the cake, don't pour the glaze over the half you are freezing.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Summer Cooking

Boy, is it ever hot this summer!  Of course, every summer in Georgia is hot.  It wouldn't be summer without numerous days in the upper 90's / low 100's and huge power bills to show for it.  You just can't stand to heat up the kitchen when it gets this hot!  So, what's the solution?  I mean, besides eating out.  You could use the microwave, cook in the mornings when it's cooler, or make recipes that don't require cooking.  Some recipes need to be made in advance for the flavors to blend.  One of the recipes I'm sharing with you today is from my friend Debbie.  She shared this with me a few years ago after I made a pig of myself eating it at a grade level gathering.  This recipe is SO yummy!  Thank you Debbie for giving me this recipe.  I know all of you will enjoy it too!  I'm also including a few other recipes you will like.

Fruit Salad

1 can pineapple tidbits - drain & save juice
1 large can of mandarin oranges - drain & save juice
2 medium Granny Smith apples - peeled and cubed                      
2 Tb. lemon juice
2 Tb. cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar

Other fruits you can add:
sliced strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, grapes, bananas

Combine pineapple, oranges, and apples in a bowl (or any other fruit you want to add, except bananas and strawberries).  You can use any kind of apple you like.  I prefer Granny Smith for this recipe.

 In a small pot mix pineapple, orange, and lemon juice. Add sugar and cornstarch. Stir and heat until the mixture thickens. Set it aside to cool.  You can put it in the refrigerator to speed up the process.  Once it cools, pour it over the fruit and chill. 

If you choose to add bananas or strawberries, wait to add until it's time to serve.
Baked Potatoes in the Microwave

This is an updated version of the old way.  They potatoes don't come out all wrinkled up.

Wash potatoes thoroughly. 
Prick your potato with a knife, rub with oil, lightly salt.
Wrap in 2 paper towels, diagonally, tuck ends under.
Put in a ziploc bag and seal all but one inch.
Turn over half way through process, careful not to burn yourself. Usually about 7 or 8 min works well.
Mash sides to test for doneness.
Loaded Potato Soup

You won't believe how good this is!

2 baking potatoes, cubed with skins
1 14 ½ oz. can of chicken broth
1 cup of milk
1/3 cup cooked crumbled bacon
3 Tb. cooked crumbled bacon (reserve for topping)
1 ¼ cups shredded cheddar (reserve ¼ cup for topping)
1 bunch of green onions – chop green tops and reserve ¼ for topping
¼ cup of sour cream

Microwave potatoes in a large microwaveable bowl for 4 minutes. Stir. Microwave for 4 more minutes. Stir in broth and milk. Microwave for 11 minutes, stirring after 5 ½ minutes. Crush potatoes with a potato masher. Add in 1/3 cup of bacon, 1 cup of cheese, and green onion tops. Stir. Once the soup is in the bowl, top each bowl with 1 Tb. cheese, 1 Tb. onion tops, 1 Tb. of bacon, and 1 Tb. of sour cream.

Chicken Veggie Wraps

This is a great one to use if you have some leftover chicken.

2 cups cooked, diced chicken
½ cup matchstick (shredded) carrots
½ diced celery
½ cup broccoli florets
chopped green onion tops
1 diced tomato
½ cup light ranch dressing
½ cup or so of shredded lettuce
6 tortillas (7 - 8 inch diameter)

In a bowl, combine chicken, carrots, celery, onion tops, tomato, lettuce and dressing. Chop broccoli and add to mixture. Stir until the dressing evenly coats the mixture. Put about ½ cup of mixture in a line down the middle of the tortilla. Roll tortillas around the filling. I wrap each one individually with plastic wrap or wax paper to make them easier to store. It also makes them easier to eat when you peel back the plastic wrap. This is great for the lunchbox too!

I have also added in sliced olives, spinach leaves, or a number of other sliced raw veggies. You can pick and choose the veggies you like.

*Party idea
Cut each wrap into thirds and secure with a party toothpick.
Marinated Broccoli-Tomato Salad

6 cups broccoli florets, coarsely chopped
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1 cup KRAFT 2% Milk Colby & Monterey Jack Cheese Crumbles
1 Tb. minced onions
2 Tbsp.  Sunflower Kernels
1 Tbsp. poppy seed
1/2 cup Light Raspberry Vinaigrette Dressing
2 tsp. Dijon Mustard
1 Tbsp. sugar
COMBINE first 6 ingredients in large bowl.

MIX remaining ingredients in a bowl.  Add to broccoli mixture; toss to coat.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Do you ever make a beef roast or pork roast and have a hunk of meat leftover that you hate to throw away, but don't feel like eating anymore of it?  What do you do with it?  Let me share with you what I do.  If I have a hunk of beef or pork or a chicken breast, I label it in a freezer bag and put it in the freezer.  I know, it's not enough for a meal.  Or is it?  I save it and use it to make Brunswick stew.  The first time I had this recipe I was at a church function.  I made a few little changes to the recipe and came up with my own version.  I made a crock pot full of this and took it to a Sunday School social after Christmas and everybody loved it.  I hope you do too!

Brunswick Stew

1 cup shredded pork
1 cup shredded beef
1 cup shredded chicken
1 can of creamed corn
1 can of whole kernel corn, drained
1 can of English peas, drained
1 can of tomato soup
1 can of tomatoes
1 can chopped potatoes – don’t drain
1 onion chopped
2 Tb. Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 cup BBQ sauce

I use my small food processor to chop up the meat, tomatoes, and potatoes.  I mix everything together and put it in the crock pot.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours.  Leftovers can be frozen.  :)

Hint:  I use the crock pot liners to make clean up quick and easy.  Crock pot liners are one of the BEST inventions EVER!!!!!

Dough Does Not Like Me

When it comes to making biscuits, I missed the boat.  My grandmother could make biscuits, my mom can make biscuits, and my son can make some of the best homemade biscuits you've ever tasted.  Mine come out like hockey pucks.  If I made them smaller and added color, you could use them as checkers.  Somehow, the biscuit making gene skipped me.  I guess it's for the best.  If I could make biscuits, I would eat them often and would end up looking like a biscuit.  That would not be pretty.  My son can also make the best pizza dough from scratch.  He tried to teach me once.  Mine came out sticky while his was beautiful.  I guess the pizza dough gene skipped me too.  Thank goodness for frozen and canned biscuits and pizza dough.  This brings me to my next recipe.  A few weeks ago I was craving a veggie pizza and didn't want to drive to Decatur to eat at a place that makes a wonderful veggie pizza.  So I created my own with the advice from friends of mine who are vegetarians.  I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did.

Veggie Pizza

1 can of refrigerated pizza dough
1/2 jar pizza sauce
2 cups of finely shredded Mozzarella cheese
Veggies of your choice.  I used:
black olives
peppers (any color)

Spray your pizza pan or 9x13 pan with cooking spray OR line your pan with non-stick tin foil  (This makes clean up easier).  Press your dough into the pan and top with the pizza sauce.  Sprinkle half of the cheese on top of the sauce.  Here is the most important step.  If you use olives, drain them and then lay them on a paper towel to absorb the extra moisture.  Thinly slice your tomatoes and lay them on a paper towel to absorb the moisture.  Slice your mushrooms very thinly because they release moisture as they cook and they will make your dough soggy.  Any veggie you use should be sliced thinly and laid on a paper towel to absorb any moisture.  I cut the broccoli tops into tiny broccoli tops.  Spread your veggies on top of the cheese and top with remaining cheese.  Bake at 450 degrees for 15 - 20 min. until the crust is golden.

This pizza was SO GOOD!  Even if I do say so myself.  :)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Saving Money

For someone who doesn't like to cook, I sure have a lot of recipes.  I can't wait to share them all with you. Not only do I need to use my time wisely when I cook, I need to use my money wisely.  God only gives me so much to work with.  I look for sales at stores and stock up.  Then when I cook, I have a surplus.  It's even better when I have a coupon to use on these items.  I am an avid coupon user, but not one of those crazy "buy 200 cans of asparagus" type people you see on tv.  I use coupons for everything I can:  dinners out, clothes, food, craft items, housewares, oil changes.  You name it, I'll use a coupon for it.  I decided this year to keep a running total on what I spent for groceries and how much I saved using coupons (I'm such a nerd).  So far, I have spent $1561.43 on groceries and saved $525.66 in coupons.  Keep in mind that the coupon savings isn't just for food.  Even so, I have saved over 1/3 of what I spent on groceries.  My favorite couponing site is  She posts the sales at grocery stores before you can get them online or in the paper and matches coupons to the sale items.  She is a great resource.  Take a look at it.  It's amazing!  I also find it worthwhile to purchase the double newspapers on Sunday so I can double my coupon savings.  If I can answer any of your couponing questions, I would be happy to help.  Just post them in the comments area.  In addition, if there is a cooking topic or a type of recipe you need, post that in the comment area too and I will try my best to answer it or see if I have a recipe for it.  In the meantime, here's a recipe that came from my sister-in-law many years ago.  It's still a favorite!

Gourmet Chicken With Rice

1 cup raw rice
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can of water
6-8 pieces of chicken (bone in)
salt and pepper to taste

Spray the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray.  Place raw rice in the dish.  Pour soups and water over the rice and mix slightly.  Sprinkle salt and pepper over the top.  Lay the chicken on top.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.  Turn chicken over half way through baking.

Note to self:  This one does not freeze well.

Learning As I Go

This blog is a learning process for me.  I have found in order to label each recipe, I have to post them separately.  So I am taking the recipes from the Cook-A-Thon and posting them separately so you will be able to locate  them easily by it's category.

Chicken Pot Pie

2 cups shredded chicken
1 ¼ cup chicken broth
1 16 oz. pkg. frozen mixed vegetables
1 Tb. dry minced onion
1 stick margarine
1 cup of milk
3 heaping Tb. plain flour
pepper to taste
4 – 6 pie crusts

Mix vegetables, margarine, and broth until heated. Stir in flour, milk, butter, pepper, and onion. Stir. Add in chicken. Cook until it thickens. Pour into pie crusts. Cut other pie crusts into strips and use to make a lattice work top. Spray top with butter. Cook at 400 degrees for 25 – 30 minutes until golden brown.

Hint:  If you want to cut calories or don't care for the breading, don't make it into a pie.  You can serve the filling by itself.

Chicken Crescents

Blend together with a fork:

3 oz. softened cream cheese
2 Tb. melted butter


2 cups cooked,diced chicken (I used my handy little chopper for this.)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
2 Tb. milk
1 Tb. minced onion

Mix all of the above together.

1 can of crescent rolls

Separate 1 8oz. can of crescent rolls into 4 rectangles. Pinch together the perforations and roll out with a rolling pin. I put the dough between 2 pieces of wax paper before I roll it out. Spoon 1/4 of mixture into the center of each rectangle. Pull the 4 corners together and overlap over the mixture.
Pinch corners closed. At this point you can wrap individually and freeze.
When cooking, brush tops with melted butter and cook at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes until golden.
Warm 1 can of cream of chicken soup diluted with 1/4 can of water. Spoon over the crescents and serve.

This is the filling.
    Here is dough after I rolled it out.

Place a scoop of filling inside the dough.

Fold the corners of the dough over .
(My mom made this for us when I was growing up.)

 1 lb. ground beef or ground turkey
1 small onion
salt and pepper to taste
1 egg
1 ½ Tb. Worcestershire sauce
2 Tb. Mustard
¼ cup of milk
2 slices of bread cut into small cubes

Mix all ingredients together. Press into an 8x8 or 9x9 pan and spread catsup on top. Cut into slices and bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour until done.
Chicken Salad 
For the dressing:

1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 teaspoon mustard
2 1/2 tablespoons white vinegar
3 tablespoons water
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
2/3 cup mayonnaise

To make the dressing: In a bowl, whisk sugar, flour, salt, pepper and mustard. Set aside. In a small saucepan, bring vinegar and water to boil. Add the boiled mixture to the egg yolk, stirring constantly, until it is warm to the touch. Gradually add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients, whisking constantly to combine.
Reduce heat to low and pour the mixture back into the saucepan. Stirring constantly, heat the mixture until thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Do not allow it to boil. Remove from heat, transfer to a bowl and cool thoroughly. Mixed boiled dressing with mayonnaise.

For the chicken salad:

4 1/2 cups diced cooked chicken breast (I used my handy little chopper for this.)
2/3 cup diced celery
dressing mixture
1/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

To make chicken salad: Combine chicken, celery, dressing and sour cream. Add additional dressing, salt and pepper if necessary.

Hint: Make it the night before so the flavors can blend.
Tomato Bisque
(This one came from my daughter who is a fabulous cook!)

1 can condensed tomato soup
2 cans diced tomatoes (with Italian seasonings)
2.5 cups reduced fat buttermilk
About 1/2 Tbsp. dried basil
About 1/4 tsp. pepper
Stir all ingredients together. Stir often in a large pot for 6-8 minutes until heated.
Taco Soup
3 cans of beans (kidney beans, pinto beans, and northern beans)
3 cans of diced tomatoes (or put 3 cans of whole tomatoes in a blender)
1 can of whole kernel corn, drained
1 can of water
1 pkg. taco seasoning
1 pkg. Hidden Valley Ranch dry dressing mix
Meat, if desired (ground beef, turkey, or meat substitute)
Mix all together and cook for 8 hours in a crock pot or 45 minutes on low on the stove.

Monday, July 11, 2011


Do I like to cook? Not particularly. Do I like to eat good food? ABSOLUTELY! Actually, I don't mind cooking when I have time. However, when I am working 40++ hours a week teaching second graders, coming home and having to cook dinner stinks. This is the reason I periodically have Cook-A-Thons. A Cook-A-Thon is when I cook large servings of food that can be frozen and pulled out on nights when I know I don't have time to cook or are just too tired to do much more than turn the oven on. That is what I did a few days ago. I made Italian sausage casserole, tomato bisque soup, chicken crescents, taco soup, meatloaf, chicken pot pie filling, and chicken salad. I didn't freeze the chicken salad, but had to do something with the extra chicken I had left. It turns out that I made enough food for 15 meals and 4 lunch size servings of soup. This how the idea for this blog was born. I had written on Facebook what I was doing and everybody commented that they wanted the recipes and details about the Cook-A-Thon. Hopefully, this blog will help you simplify your life at dinner time. The recipes are actual recipes that you can prepare easily for you and your family. I have been married for over 30 years and have collected recipes during this time from many different places. The recipes are not necessarily fancy, but they are the types of foods your family will eat. Below are the recipes I made during the Cook-A-Thon. I hope this inspires you to have your own Cook-A-Thon!

Italian Sausage Casserole

3 cups uncooked Rigatoni or Penne Pasta
1 pound regular sausage or Italian sausage
1 cup of chopped onion
1 can (14 ½ oz.) Italian diced tomatoes – do not drain
1 pkg (10 oz.) frozen spinach – thawed and well drained (fresh spinach works too!)
1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
2 cups of shredded Mozzarella cheese
Cook the pasta and drain. Brown the sausage and drain. Chop sausage up finely (I used a mini chopper). Add to pasta. Stir in onions, tomatoes, spinach, cream cheese, and 1 cup of mozzarella cheese. Pour into a 9 x 13 baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray. You can freeze it at this point if you wish. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with remaining Mozzarella and bake an additional 10 minutes.