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Saturday, December 28, 2013

Korv - Swedish Potato Sausage

As a child I always looked forward to our Swedish Smorgasbord served at Christmas with my cousins.  So many dishes to choose from, and only served once a year.  As the family has grown and changed, it is now up to my generation to carry on or not.  For a while it seemed to have died away, but we resurrected the menu a few Christmases ago and now look forward once again to the 15 items Nana said we had to have on the table.

meatballs and gravy (we now buy at Ikea)
potato sausage (Korv)
brown beans
creamed potatoes or potato salad
rice pudding
jello salad(s)
veal loaf
tray of cheeses
Rye Krisp crackers
relish tray - carrots, celery, pickles, olives, cucumbers, herring
Swedish Rye bread, also called Limpa
apple crisp
coffee (Swedes drink coffee practically from birth!)

W have made a few changes to update the flavors/tastes/textures according to the group who is now sitting at our table.

Korv in 2013 is made more like a meatloaf since the  maker of it is not into stuffing casings.

3 lbs.  ground turkey or ground beef
2 lbs.  Jimmy Dean pork sausage
2 - 4.2 oz. boxes of dehydrated potatoes, reconstituted
1 - 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. onion powder

Mix all the ingredients together very well.  If you have a tube shaped pan (mine is a French bread pan) you can make a round loaf.  Otherwise, divide it into bread pans.  Bake until center reaches 165 degrees F.  Cool slightly before slicing.  Can be served with Ikea's meatball gravy.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Unexpected Sabbatical

I have written the best blogs this week and several over the weeks before.  However, they are locked in my head and have obviously not made it to my blog.  I am anxiously awaiting the day when I can think something and it will appear in written form wherever I say.  Do you find that you do your best writing on the freeway or while running errands?  I sure do.  Unfortunately, that's where they stay. 

While my time has been eaten up with family needs, I have been so very grateful for the freezer full of meals that I prepared in late November.

We are now down to the last few meals, but with Christmas around the corner and leftovers ahead, I chose not to prepare more meals yet.  Sometime between Christmas Day  and New Year's Day I will prepare another month of meals.  Until then, I purchased a few entrees from Costco that we've been wanting to try, and we are eating lots of leftovers and holding regular cafeteria nights where everyone eats something different.  So far, so good.  I think we'll make it!

One night this week we were blessed by a friend who'd received a large meal as a gift and chose to come share it with us.  Tonight, it will be Costco's Macaroni and Cheese which has come highly recommended.  We are looking forward to the family taste test!

Tangy Pineapple Chicken

I found this recipe from Jean Ecos in Taste of Home Magazine.  Where else?  My family is split on it.  The mustard lovers love it and the mustard haters just do not.  It's a bit more work than I like in a recipe, but one that is worth the effort in my book.

To prepare ahead, simply freeze the portion of chicken in a labeled Ziploc-style bag.

To prepare the dish, defrost the chicken.

4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Sprinkle the chicken breasts with about:
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. or a good shake or two of pepper

You may need more depending on the size of the chicken breasts.

Lightly brown the chicken in a skillet with 1-2 T vegetable oil.

Drain 1 20-ounce can of pineapple slices, saving the juice.
In a small bowl, mix 2 T of juice with 1 T cornstarch and set aside.

In another bowl mix the following:
1/4 C Dijon mustard
1/4 C honey
1 tsp. minced garlic
remaining juice

Add this mixture to the pan with the chicken.  Simmer for 15-20 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked.  Remove the chicken and add the cornstarch mixture to the juices.  Bring to a boil and stir for 2 minutes.  Return the chicken.  Top with the sliced pineapple.  Serve over rice.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

A Twist on Quiche

This last summer my Australian Sister-in-law made a delicious appetizer for a family get-together.  I must admit that when I saw the name, Zucchini Slice, I thought it would be sliced zucchini.  Was I wrong!  It's not for the faint of heart, truly, as it's full of delicious cholesterol.  Enjoy once in a while or bake it and take it to a party so you can enjoy the flavor without all the leftovers.

4-6 zucchini, grated
1 large onion, finely diced
1 C crumbled bacon
2 C cheddar cheese, shredded

10 eggs, lightly beaten
2 C flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 C oil (I may try 1/2 C oil and 1/2 C applesauce next time)
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

Mix the veggies, cheese and bacon together in a large bowl.
In another bowl mix the eggs, flour and other ingredients together.
Pour the egg mixture over the veggies and combine completely.

Pour this into a well-greased 9x13" pan.  Bake at 350 degrees F for 30-40 minutes or until lightly browned.

Serves 12-15 or cut into smaller pieces for an appetizer.  Makes a great next-day lunch entrée also.

So far, I've only made this one fresh.  I am curious to try preparing and freezing it but an concerned about the oil.  I may try baking it before freezing, but our family usually gobbles it up so quickly there is none left to freeze.  :)

Friday, November 22, 2013

Peanut Butter Chicken on the Grill

The recipe title Peanut Butter Chicken intrigued me as did the list of ingredients.  What a unique combination of flavors and one I'd certainly never put together, really quite delicious.
I've tried it all sorts of ways, but my favorite is grilled on the bar-b-que.
In a small saucepan combine the following ingredients:
1/2 C creamy peanut butter
1/2 C water
1/4 C soy sauce
2 tsp. minced garlic
3 T lemon juice
2 T brown sugar
3/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
Cook and stir over medium to high heat for 5 minutes or until smooth.  Set half of the sauce aside.
4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Option #1:
Slice chicken into strips about 1" wide and as long as the breast.  Place onto skewers which have been soaked in water for at least 20 minutes.
Option #2:
Leave breasts whole.
Brush chicken with sauce often while grilling.  Skewers will take 4-6 minutes to cook.  Whole breasts, of course, will take longer.
Serve chicken with reserved sauce and sprinkled with sliced green onion tops (optional).  However, no onions in my family.  :(
Something to consider:  This is one recipe I wish I'd never had my kids help me prepare.  The ingredients have scared a few away from eating it. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Cold and Rainy Calls for Crock-Pot Creamy Chicken

There is nothing like coming home to warm meal ready to serve or to smelling it cook all day at home either.  Today I went out-of-order on my menu calendar to choose a dish that would slow-cook all day warming the kitchen and my senses.  The choice was Crock-Pot Creamy Chicken.

Put 4-6 large boneless, skinless chicken breast in the crock pot.

Mix together and pour over the chicken:
1 package of dry onion soup mix
2 C sour cream
1 can of Cream of Mushroom Soup

Set to cook for 8 hours.

Serving options: over rice, noodles or mashed potatoes.  This will be determined by my time at the end of the day.  :)

To prepare ahead, simply freeze the portion of chicken in a Ziploc-style bag and label.  Save the soup and soup mix in your pantry or cupboards with the word "save" written on the outside so it doesn't get used before you cook this meal.  You can do the same with the sour cream in the fridge.

This is one cook looking forward to a warm, comforting meal at the day's end. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Maple-Dijon Salmon

Combine the following in a small bowl.  Cover and let set for several hours.
1/4 C maple syrup
2 T Dijon mustard
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

Preheat grill.  Brush salmon with oil.  Grill 4 minutes on each side, basting with the sauce.
1 lb. salmon fillets

This time I broiled the salmon two ways.  One on a foil-lined pan for easy clean-up.  The second on a cedar board which was soaked in water before baking.  Both were delicious.

The salmon can be purchased ahead and frozen, or bought fresh close to the day you choose to cook it.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Beef Broccoli

Beef Broccoli is one of my favorite Asian dishes, and one that most of my family will eat.  I remember finding this version among my mother-in-law's recipes, a remnant from her days learning to cook.  She truly could not boil water when she married, but attended class after class until she was quite adept in the kitchen.  I learned a lot from her and spent many hours trying to write a "recipe" for her "a little bit of this" and "a pinch of that" style cooking.

I haven't made Beef Broccoli in a long while, but did so recently and once again fell in deep-like with this recipe.  I left out the onions for my family, and we still enjoyed the flavor of the meat served over rice.

Slice the meat thinly across the grain.  Add baking soda and water and let stand for several hours or overnight.
1 lb. beef flank or other thin cut
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 C water

Combine the following ingredients and mix well.  Set aside. 
1/4 C soy sauce, reduced sodium
2 T oyster sauce
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. salt

Heat a wok or heavy frying pan.  Add the oil and stir fry the meat until no longer pink.  Remove the meat.  Add the broccoli and green onions.  Toss for a few minutes and return the meat.  Add the sauce and stir until it thickens.  Serve at once.
2 T oil
2 C broccoli florets blanched for 1 minute
3 green onions, cut into 2-inch lengths

This meal is best prepared fresh, however, you can purchase the meat and freeze it, along with a bag of frozen broccoli.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

French Bread Pizza

Need a quick after school snack?  How about an easy weekend dinner?  Have a small army of friends to feed?  Here's a great option.

Slice a loaf of French Bread lengthwise.  Spread pizza sauce over each half.  Generously sprinkle mozzarella cheese over the sauce.  Lay pepperoni or other meat over cheese.

Broil until cheese is melted.  Cool slightly before slicing and serving.
Do not expect leftovers.

One Happy Kid!
What can you do ahead?
Keep pizza sauce in your pantry.  Freeze a pint-sized baggie of pepperoni or salami.  Freeze the cheese.  If it's shredded it will thaw quickly and can be crumbled pretty easily.  Run to the store to buy fresh bread for a tastier pizza!

Planning to be a Short-order Cook, Almost

It's only 8am, but dinner is ready to go!  Every morning I take a look at my dinner calendar and take out the listed food from my freezer.  Today it's Joes to Go (sloppy Joes) and Meatball Sandwiches so that all of my family members will eat dinner.'

Do two meals count as being a short-order cook?  I guess not really when you think of going to a restaurant and ordering a different meal for each family member.  However, if I can meet the taste buds of six people with only two flavors, I count myself blessed!

Some of us will be eating Joes to Go.  This is my FAVORITE recipe for sloppy Joes originally posted Sept-21-2012.  This sauce will be served on small dinner rolls in an attempt to use up the extra bread from another meal.  Topped with a sprinkle of cheese they are a good portion, although my taste buds always want more.

The others will be eating Meatball Sandwiches.

  • French rolls
  • Purchased Italian-style meatballs
  • red sauce - spaghetti or pizza
  • mozzarella cheese, shredded

Warm meatballs according to package directions (about 6 per French roll).  Spoon onto French rolls.  Drizzle or cover with sauce to taste.  Sprinkle generously with cheese.  Serve warm.

Add a tossed salad or fresh fruit and you have a quick and easy meal!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Soft Spice Bars are a Perfect Fall Treat

It's always fun to have someone ask for a recipe isn't it?  I am especially inspired by these requests lately as I have ideas for two cookbooks that I'd love to write and publish.  Well, honestly, not write, but certainly publish.  I've often wished that I had a ticker-tape feature in my head such that all those great letters, emails, thank you notes, blogs and such would just be spit out in written form without my having to type a single thing.  Perhaps someday as I hear there are programs getting very close to that kind of technology.  But back to the recipe at hand, Soft Spice Bars.

I discovered the original recipe in the Taste of Home Cookbook in 2000 and have found it to be a surefire treat in the fall.  (I have tweaked it to fill a half-sheet baking pan.) In fact, I incorporated it into our menu for the Honduran Women's Bible Conference with great success.  It has just the right amount of spice and really does stay soft, but is not gooey.  We served it this weekend at a church event promoting the conference and once again were asked, "Can I have the recipe?" 

Cream together
1 1/2 C melted butter
2 C sugar
1/2 C molasses, I prefer Grandma's brand

Beat in 2 eggs

Mix in:
4 C flour
4 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. salt

Spread this into a greased half-sheet baking pan or jelly roll pan.  Sprinkle with 4 T sugar.  Bake at 350 degrees F for about 25 minutes.  Do not over bake.  Cool before cutting.

Yield:  In Honduras I cut this into 24 bars (cut 4 by 6).  You can also get 32 nice sized portions (cutting 4 by 8) or 48 mini-bars cutting 6 by 8.  These are not inches, but the number of cuts made into the pan.  I try to avoid odd numbers, but even the 6 rows can lead to some unevenness unless you use a ruler and run your knife along the ruler's edge as with a rotary cutter in crafting.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

End-of-the-Month Redo

It's hard to believe that another month of menus has gone by!  Also, a little sad to think that the food is nearly gone, and I'll have to cook again.  I have done a lot of skipping around on this month of meals to accommodate changes in schedules and such.  I also found some meat on a great sale, and then the Orange Chicken was on sale at Costco.   I started to write them in at the end of the calendar.  However,  I am finding the menu calendar very cluttered.  In fact, before grocery shopping this week, I had to order the meals so I'd know when to cook what, but it was still hard to read.  Now that I've written this list, I'll simply print it out and put it on the cupboard door.  Do you get the picture that a menu is fluid?  This half hour of researching the freezer and typing has just bought me three more weeks of meals!  Hurrah!

1-W      Italian Sausage Pizza and spinach salad
2-Th     Overnight Salad, cornbread muffins
3-F       Tortellini with white sauce, garlic bread
4-Sa      Family Party - bring Hawaiian Pork Roast 
5-S        Baked Potato Bar (Potluck gathering)
6-M      Joe's to Go, steamed veggies  AND Meatball Sandwiches  
7-T       Chicken Divan (make fresh), biscuits and broccoli 
8-W      Peanut Butter Chicken, rice, creamed corn
9-Th     Porkchops (need to choose a recipe)
10-F     Rigatoni with Spinach sauce
11-Sa   Broccoli Soup and fresh baked bread
12-S     Lasagna, garlic bread, salad (Potluck gathering) 
14-T     Orange Chicken and Rice
15-W    Porkchops -
16-Th   Halloween! Spaghetti (just like my mom used to serve on Halloween)
17-F     Birthday dinner - Tri Tip roast
18-Sa   Backribs
19-S     Potluck - Choose theme

Monday, October 14, 2013

Baked Potato Leftovers Become Twice-Baked Potatoes

We have been hosting a series of themed potlucks with a group of friends as we prepare to launch a church.  Each week we gather with foods that reflect the theme and have enjoyed South of the Border, Breakfast for Dinner, International Foods, and Southern Comfort Food.  Included on the table last night were BBQ pork, Fried chicken, baked potatoes, Macaroni and Cheese and lots of pie.  Fattening and yummy, the meal was a delight to our taste buds!

Nine small/medium baked potatoes ended up in my fridge.  What to do?  Twice-Baked Potatoes, of course!  The time-consuming part of this recipe is the pre-baking which had already been done.  I had removed them from the foil and put them in the fridge all night.  Today, I cut them in half, longwise and scooped out the potato leaving just a bit along the skin.  I used an ice cream scoop to carefully capture the potato.

Next, warm the potato with butter and milk.  For these nine potatoes I used about 1/4 C butter and a scant 1/2 C milk/cream.   Beat until mostly smooth and add a good handful of shredded cheese and a good handful of crumbled bacon.  You may also add sliced green onions, garlic or any other baked potato toppings that you enjoy.  Mix well.

Place potato shells on a cookie sheet or 9x13" pan.  Spoon the filling back into each shell.  Sprinkle with cheese and bake at 350 degrees F for 15-20 minutes or until warm all the way through.  Let set for a few minutes before serving.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Slow-Cooked Lemon Chicken

In a hurry both in the morning and evening?  This is a great dinner solution.

Place a whole chicken in the crock pot and add the sauce below.

1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 C water
3 T lemon juice
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. Better than Bouillon, Chicken flavor

Cook for several hours on low.  Serve with rice and steamed broccoli.

I usually clean and freeze the chicken in a Ziploc-style bag until I am ready to cook it.  Just remember to defrost it the night before, or add several hours to the cooking time if it is partially frozen.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

It's Not the Way I Planned It!

Ah yes, fall has come and with it the freedom to bake away and heat up the house.  I came home from running errands highly motivated to begin baking.  There was already a roast in the crock-pot.  I made mashed potatoes, a pumpkin cake, and assembled a bread pudding to bake for breakfast before I finally set my sights back on the to-do list for the day.  None of this items had been on it.  Oh well. 

But back to the roast.  I had intended to serve this Hawaiian style pork roast with a sweet and sour sauce I found in the pantry and a can of pineapple (which I'd stopped to buy) over a fresh pot of rice.  On the side would be a Sumi salad with mandarin oranges and colorful cabbage.  All this to be followed with the pumpkin cake for dessert.  Well...

daughter number 2 came home with boyfriend in tow and they needed a snack, so some pork was donated, and they ate it on French rolls before running out the door...
son  number 2 came along and ate the pork plain with a heap of mashed potatoes...
hubby came home and made himself a pork sandwich with a side of salad...
son number 1 came home and ate something because there was less in each of the dishes this morning...(I checked the fridge)
and daughter number 1 never did eat this meal.
The pineapple is still in the can.  The rice never got cooked. The sauce was opened and drizzled on the meat on the French rolls.
And tonight, I do not have to cook!

It seems that  many of our meals are now being served at various "seatings" similar to a cruise ship but minus the fancy table settings.  First round is about 4:30/5:00 and it continues throughout the evening until about 10pm when the last child arrives home from school.  While it is a delight to have college kids living at home, it does wreak havoc on any sense of a family meal time.  If I'm lucky though, I get a meal with each kid nearly every day.

Hawaiian Pork Roast
(Yet another favorite from a Taste of Home Magazine, tweaked for size.)

5 lb. pork roast, rinsed
5 tsp. liquid smoke
5 tsp. soy sauce
2 unpeeled, ripe bananas

My crock-pot version...Create an "addition sign" with foil and lay it in the crock pot.  Place the meat on the foil.  Douse with liquid smoke and soy sauce.  Lay the two bananas along the two long sides of the crock-pot.  Fold the foil over the meat and bananas.  Pour 1/2 Cup of water in the bottom of the pot.  Cook on low for 8-10 hours.  Remove bananas and throw away. Lift out pork and place on a platter.  Serve as is or add Sweet and Sour sauce.  Couldn't be easier to put dinner on the table. 

When I buy my roast for OAM Cooking I simply freeze it and then defrost it the night before I plan to cook it.

Friday, October 4, 2013


I LOVE this dish!  Perhaps it is because it closely resembles Alice Springs Chicken at The Outback restaurant.   I never order anything else because I love it so much. 

The original recipe is called "Smothered Chicken" and was submitted to Taste of Home magazine by Penny Walton.  Pair this with a fabulous Honey Mustard and you have a delight for the taste buds - no sides needed, or maybe wanted!

1 chicken breast per person
garlic powder
seasoned salt
vegetable oil
2 cups sliced, fresh mushrooms
finely shredded cheese
8 green onions, sliced
1 C bacon bits

Penny flattens the chicken to 1/4" which is a good idea.  I've made it with un-flattened chicken breasts, but the toppings fall off more easily.  Next time, I may slice my chicken breasts horizontally so that they are flatter.  This is just one solution to my aversion of tenderizing chicken because of all the splattering of chicken juices.

Now that your chicken is ready, season it with the garlic powder and seasoned salt. I use Lawry's.  Heat a frying pan on medium and pour about 2T of oil into the pan.  Place the chicken in the pan and cover with a lid.  Cook for about 4-5 minutes.  Turn the chicken.  Cover and cook until the juices run clear, about 4 more minutes.

In a separate pan, melt about 2 T of butter.  Add the sliced mushrooms and cook until lightly browned.

Cover each piece of chicken with: mushrooms, bacon bits and cheese, topping them off with onions.  Of course, you can individualize each serving as well.

Serve with Honey Mustard.  Here's a favorite recipe of mine (tweaked of course!)

1/2 C Dijon mustard
1/2 C honey
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. white vinegar

For this recipe, I simply freeze the chicken in a Ziploc bag and prepare it fresh the night we will be eating it.  The four toppings are staples in my fridge, but if they are not, you can buy them ahead and freeze (bacon, cheese) or used canned mushrooms.  I recommend fresh green onions no matter what.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Braiding Bread Dough

This is a great fall or spring meal and could be served as an appetizer, at a tea or on a picnic.

Chicken Braid is an old recipe of mine and I wondered where I had originally gotten it.  Well, I had only to read through the instructions which were peppered with Pampered Chef tools to be reminded that it came from one of their pamphlets.  Again, I've tweaked it to our tastes.

2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1 C broccoli, chopped
1 C shredded cheese
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 C mayonnaise
2 tsp. dill mix (I do still use the Pampered Chef product)

2 packages refrigerated crescent rolls

Just for fun, I tried making this in my Vita-mix blender, partly because my broccoli was still frozen.  It was mostly successful, but did turn it into a spread rather than a chunky filling. I guess it can be your choice, because a spread is easier to cut!

Mix the first 6 ingredients together and set aside.
Roll out the crescent rolls into a giant rectangle on a greased jelly roll pan.

Cover the center of the rectangle with the filling.
Cut the two long sides from the edge to the filling about every inch or so.
Then braid them over the filling.
Bake at 375 degrees F for about 25 minutes.
This is one meal that I usually make fresh, although I will have cooked the chicken ahead of time and frozen it until the day it appears on my monthly  menu.  Even that step saves time!


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Meat and Potatoes in a Shell

Otherwise known as Italian Shepherd Pie, this meat and potatoes entrée is a favorite of my "carnivores."  You'll love how simple it is!  Additionally, it can be a great way to use your leftover mashed potatoes.

The original recipe came from Taste of Home Magazine, but of course, I've tweaked it to our tastes.  My recipe reflects mashed potatoes prepared as a side dish with milk and butter.  However, the original recipe uses mashed potatoes without added ingredients and then mixes them with cottage cheese, sour cream and salt plus the spices below.

1 unbaked pie shell (I prefer the deep dish)
3/4 pound mild Italian sausage, browned
2 1/2 C mashed potatoes
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 C shredded cheese

To enjoy later:  Cover the bottom of the pie shell with sausage.  Mix potatoes and spices and spread over the sausage.  Put cheese in a Ziploc-style baggie.  Cover the potatoes with foil.  Tape the cheese to the top.  Freeze.  When you are ready to enjoy this meal, defrost and then bake it uncovered at 350 degrees F for 50-60 minutes.  Cover with cheese and return to the oven for a few minutes until cheese melts.

To enjoy tonight:  Bake the pie shell for 7 minutes at 450 degrees F.  Then fill with sausage and potatoes.  Bake as directed above.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Protein Rich Once-a-Month Cooking Plan

For this round of cooking I focused on protein rich entrees and less sauces.  Below is the month-at-a-glance.  You could substitute your own recipes.  I hope this will help you see how to "attack" the food once you are home from shopping.

While the preparation is much easier (simply freezing some items), it will require more work on a daily basis.  Consider that when you choose your recipes.  You may want to sketch out what a week is like at dinner.  Here are some questions to ask yourself.

Are there days when you have little time to prepare a meal?  Plan something simple.
Are there days when you have along stretch of time before meal time and could bake something that takes 1-2 hours (lasagna, meatloaf, quiche, chicken bake, chicken cordon bleu for example)? 
How much do you enjoy the preparation of a meal? perhaps you only want to buy in bulk and separate the items for freezing and completely assemble a meal on the day you will eat it.
Plan a "leftovers" day.
Do you have a family member who needs a certain kind of meal before an event?
When do you need to be on the run after a meal?
When are you most likely to be tempted to go out?

Freeze fresh salmon.
Freeze prepared salmon and Tilapia.
Freeze beef roast.
Freeze pork roasts.
Cut steaks into smaller portions and freeze.

Make Spaghetti Sauce and let simmer.

Brown all of the ground turkey and place into separate containers: one for taco salad, two for Lasagna (one will be given away), 1 for turkey chili, 4 to freeze for Friday night pasta.

To the meat for taco salad add 1/3 C taco Seasoning and 3/4 C water.
To the meat for Lasagna I add an Italian Sausage Seasoning (about 4 tsp per pound).
Finish the turkey chili recipe.
Cool and freeze plain turkey meat.
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Birthday Party
Huli Chicken with pineapple and rice Pork Roast with steamed veggies Mini-steaks with potatoes, veggies Chicken and broccoli Pasta with Red Sauce and ground turkey Maple Dijon Salmon
Caribbean Chicken and veggies Beef Broccoli Tilapia BBQue Pork Roast leftovers Pasta with Red Sauce and ground turkey Chicken Tacos
Turkey Chili, corn casserole Salmon Mini-Steaks taco salad bean burritos Pasta with Red Sauce and ground turkey mushroom orange pork roast
Lasagna, garlic bread, salad chicken fajita style, beans, veggies veggie omelettes Tilapia cranberry chicken Pasta with Red Sauce and ground turkey leftovers
beef roast, carrots French Dip sandwiches Chicken of some kind   Salmon Pasta with Red Sauce and ground turkey Chicken Cordon Bleu Pizza
Freeze chicken in portions for each meal.  Cook 6 chicken breasts and season for chicken tacos and fajitas.
Huli chicken is on my blog.  Cranberry and Caribbean chicken can be adapted your family tastes.
Make omelettes fresh with veggies from the fridge that day.
Freeze Chicken Cordon Bleu (buy pre-made).

Friday, September 20, 2013

Cold Entree, Hot Side

Today marks one year of writing this blog about once a month cooking.  It's been an adventure, a challenge, and a lot of fun to do.  How appropriate that tomorrow I will prepare a month's worth of meals.  I got an early start tonight by making one of the "make fresh" meals for our dinner - Club Quesadillas.  They are super easy to make, unless you have to watch dietary concerns as I did tonight.  In that case, I had five plates laid out and a sticky note attached to each plate with the person's initial for whom I was making it.  I forgot to put a second tortilla on my hubby's!  Oops!  I covered the completed "sandwich" with a second plate and set them at the table.

Gather the following:
flour tortillas
provolone cheese, sliced
ham and turkey lunch meat
crumbled bacon
tomatoes, sliced
red onion, thinly sliced (optional)

Lightly spread mayo on several tortillas, unless you have someone who doesn't care for mayo.  Sprinkle with crumbled bacon.  Place four slices of turkey lunchmeat over the bacon.  Then four slices of ham over the turkey.  Top this with 2 slices of cheeses cut in half and arranged to cover most of the meat.  Add the sliced tomatoes and lettuce and cover with a second tortilla.  Cut with a pizza cutter into 4 pieces.  I served mine with guacamole.

For a hot side, I sautéed green and
yellow squash with mushrooms.
Slice the squash and mushrooms. Put about 1 tsp. butter in a frying pan or you can use a spray such as Pam.  Add the veggies.  Sprinkle with Molly McButter and Mrs. Dash.  Stir frequently until squash slices are nearly translucent.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Fall I Cooking Day

Fall is in the air.  I wake up each morning and the patio furniture is wet, but most of all cool evenings are back and so I can cook and bake warm meals once again.  Some of our favorite meals are in this rotation and I can hardly wait to begin cooking.  However, I "inherited" several pails of ice cream from a recent event and will have to adjust my menu with all that ice cream in the freezer!

Here's what I'll be making and freezing:
Swedish Meatballs
Chicken Pattie Burgers
Ginger-lime chicken
Honey Baked Chicken
Zucchini Slice
Smothered Chicken
Italian Shepherd Pie
Beef Stew
Corn Casserole
Slow-cooked Lemon Chicken
Widow-maker Pie
Chicken Parmesan
Hawaiian Pot Roast
Beef Broccoli
Italian Style Sausage with Rigatoni

Making Fresh:
Chicken Sumi Salad
Club Quesadillas
Broccoli Soup
Peanut Butter Chicken
Taco Salad
Overnight Salad
Chicken Divan
Rigatoni with Spinach sauce
Spaghetti with Red Sauce

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Super Quick Potluck Salad aka Chinese Chicken Salad

Last night we hosted 32 people for a potluck dinner and quickly ran short on salad.  So I whipped up a semi-Sumi Salad with ingredients in the fridge, and it was a hit.  Here's my quick version of a favorite salad.

Toss the following together in a large bowl:
  • Large bad of coleslaw cabbage (colorful is good)
  • Feast from the East Sesame Dressing (about 1 C or to taste)
  • sliced almonds (a good handful)
  • sesame seeds (about 1/8 C)

For a more authentic Chinese Chicken Salad:
1 large bag of pre-cut salad or cabbage
1/2 C sliced almonds
1/4 C sesame seeds
chopped cilantro to taste
2 cans of cooked chicken breast (or 1 large chicken breast boiled and shredded)
Chinese noodles
Feast from the East Sesame Dressing

A Twist on Taco-Filled Pasta Shells or Creamy Taco Pasta

Recently I posted a blog about mixing cuisines with Taco-Filled Pasta Shells.  Tonight, I gave that recipe a twist. 

In preparation for a Once-a-month cooking day on Saturday, I am trying to clean out all those leftovers that accumulate in the refrigerator.  Things like dilled-cream cheese from the ADX Tea, pasta from a pasta party, pizza from the potluck, and my experiment with a homemade taco seasoning.  I didn't want to start a fresh big meal tonight.  So many boundaries I set!  Here's what I came up with.

I warmed the bag of cooked pasta (Ziti).  You can do this by microwave or by dropping the Ziploc-style in a pot of boiling water, bag included.  You don't want to cook it, just warm it.

In a saucepan, I warmed the taco meat (ground turkey cooked with taco seasoning) and then added 8 oz. cream cheese (cold) and stirred until the mixture was smooth.  To this I added about 2/3 C taco sauce (happened to be Taco Bell Brand in a bottle).

When the pasta was warm, I mixed it with the meat sauce for a yummy, flavorful entrée.  Yahoo!  Two leftovers used up, and I know my family will devour this tonight.  Serve it with a salad or fresh fruit.

Follow this meal with desserts from the freezer.  :)

Monday, September 16, 2013

Mixing Cuisines in Taco Filled Pasta Shells

When I first saw this recipe (I believe in Taste of Home Magazine) I was intrigued and a little curious about mixing taco flavors with pasta, but it quickly became a family favorite.  It's best served early in a monthly rotation, or even first or second.  You could also use it as an appetizer as each jumbo shell is an appropriate size for hors'd'oeuvres. 

2 lbs. of ground beef (I use ground turkey)
2 envelopes or 1/2 C taco seasoning
1- 8oz. package cream cheese, cubed
1 box jumbo pasta shells
1/4 C butter, melted

1 C salsa
1 C taco sauce
2 C shredded cheese (cheddar and Jack)
1 1/2 C crushed tortilla chips
sour cream, optional
3-4 green onions, sliced, optional

Cook meat until no longer pink; drain the fat.  Add taco seasoning. To this, add the cream cheese and simmer until melted.  Transfer to a bowl and chill (I did not do this!) 

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain the water.  Gently toss with the melted butter.  Fill each shell with about 3 T meat mixture.

Place shells in a greased 9x12" pan. 

To enjoy later:  Cover a freeze for up to three months.

To enjoy tonight:  Spoon 1 C salsa into a 9x12" baking dish.  Top with stuffed shells and drizzle with 1 C taco sauce.  Cover and bake for 30 minutes.  Uncover.  Sprinkle with 2 C shredded cheese and crushed chips.  Bake 15 minutes more.  Serve with sour cream and green onions.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Memories of Meatloaf

As a young child I fell in love with meatloaf.  Not just for dinner either!  It was my favorite sandwich sliced thin with ketchup on sliced bread.  As an adult, I indulge a few times a year with this easy-make-ahead meal served with mashed potatoes and veggies, and yes, still with ketchup.  My family likes it best with Bab-b-que sauce, but it is so moist it really does not require additional sauces.

My current favorite recipe is that on the box of Lipton Onion Soup Mix - Souperior Meatloaf.  I make it with ground turkey and love the results.

1 1/2 lbs. (ish) ground turkey or up to 2 lbs.
1 envelope Lipton Onion Soup Mix, dry (I've used store brands with success, too)
1 1/2 C bread crumbs (I buy Wal-Mart or Target brand and store them in the freezer)
2 eggs
3/4 C water
1/3 C ketchup

Mix everything in a large bowl.  Shape into a loaf and place in a loaf pan (5x7"). 

To enjoy tonight: Bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour or until meat thermometer reaches 165 degrees F.

To enjoy later:  Cover with heavy duty foil and freeze.  Defrost a bit, and bake at 350 degrees F for up to 2 hours, covered.  Let set for 5-10 minutes before removing from pan and slicing.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Chicken Tacos - A Quick Summer Fix

On my most recent once-a-month cooking day I prepared the chicken filling for these chicken tacos.  Here's what I did:

Place 4-5 large, frozen chicken breasts in a crock-pot. Generously sprinkle with taco seasoning and let simmer for about 6 hours.  Shred with two forks.  Stir well and serve as the filling for tacos, burritos or even make into enchiladas.

I froze the meat and pulled it out during a recent heat wave to serve for dinner because I could use the microwave to warm the meat.  It could even be warmed over a low heat in a saucepan on the stove.  Top the chicken with your favorite condiments: lettuce, tomatoes, onion, sour cream, salsa or taco sauce and enjoy a cool, easy dinner that can almost stand on it's own with all the food groups represented.  Or serve refried beans, Spanish rice or tortilla chips on the side.

Monday, September 9, 2013

O Where, O Where did that Recipe Go?

Last fall I decided to update my Once-a-month cooking collection.  After all the notebook was falling apart and had become much too small for my 8 rotations.  I separated the rotations into 1/2 inch notebooks, made cute covers, and was quite pleased with the results.  But then I needed a recipe and I could not find it.  Which month was it in?  You see, I had not yet made a table of contents that cross-referenced the recipes with the rotations.

Come spring, I invested in a heavy duty 3-ring binder and put them back together in one notebook.  And, I typed up a new table of contents.  I put my recipes in page protectors and so I used my P-Touch label maker to make page numbers.  I have found that Sharpie pen does wear off, and I am enjoying the bright white behind the page number.  It's very easy to get around in my notebook.

One separate notebook that I did keep is that of my favorite side dishes.

Throughout the next 8 rotations, I'll be tweaking each menu and changing recipes; taking out those that we do not enjoy and replacing them with some new dishes.  I'll also update the shopping lists to reflect those changes.  For all of these tasks, I use Excel.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Indoor Picnic

It is 85 degrees F INSIDE my house!  That is much too hot to cook a meal.  However, the once-a-month chef in me just cannot give in to a meal out so I challenged myself to come up with a cool, easy-to-prepare meal from what was in the fridge/freezer.  Tonight's menu:
  • Hawaiian Sweet Bread Mini Sandwiches
  • Canteloupe
  • Sumi Salad (leftover from a previous dinner)
  • Chips
  • Fresh lemonade

Mini Sandwiches from a package of Hawaiian Sweet Bread Rolls
Remove the whole dozen rolls from the package in one large piece.  Slice horizontally as one piece and carefully lay the top off to the side.  Lay 6 slices of American cheese (or your favorite) over the rolls.  Cover this with sliced lunchmeat (I used deli sliced ham).  Replace the top of the rolls.  Then cut into 12 pieces not too worried about the lines of the rolls.  I serve them "dry" but have condiments available for personal choice.  We like honey mustard.

Sumi Salad
There are many versions of this summer salad.  Here's how I make it.

1 large head of cabbage or 3 bags of shredded cabbage
1-2 packaged of Ramen noodles, kept dry and crushed, without seasoning
1/3 C sliced almonds
1/4 C sesame seeds
1 bunch green onions, sliced

Mix those 5 items together in a large bowl.  Make the dressing by combining all the ingredients below.  Then pour over salad and mix well.  If possible, chill for several hours before serving.  These flavors need to marry.  However, even if you can't chill ahead, this salad makes great leftovers!

1/2 C oil
1/2 C water
1/4 C sugar
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. salt
6 T Rice vinegar

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

No A/C in the OC means BBQ

I've lost track of the number of days in this current heat wave.  Even the ocean breeze has disappeared.  Admittedly, I've been spoiled with having central air and that lovely breeze to the extent that I never worry about "heating up the house" with the ovens as I did when breezes and a/c were not available.  However, all that changed today.

When it's 82 degrees F in the house, the oven just shouldn't be turned on.  So tonight the menu was Huli Chicken on the BBQ, a quick and easy Sumi Salad and Hawaiian Sweet Bread with Root Beer floats for dessert.  Yummy!  Easy!  No heat added to the house!

Huli Chicken:
Put 12 boneless, skinless chicken thighs into each of 2 Ziploc freezer bags.
Cover with half the marinade in each bag and freeze.  When you are ready to  serve this meal, simply defrost and the meat will marinate at the same time.  The meat can be broiled or bar-b-cued.

For the marinade mix together:
3/4 C ketchup
1 C brown sugar, packed
3/4 C soy sauce, reduced sodium
1/ C chicken broth or sherry
1 1/2 tsp. minced garlic
1 - 2 1/2 tsp. ginger, ground

Grill 6-8 minutes on each side or until no longer pink. Discard marinade.

Originally from Sharon Boling in Taste of Home magazine.  She uses fresh ginger, but I substituted ground.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

5 Ingredients and 3 Pans for 1 Dinner

This is one of my favorite go-to meals when I have time to do the extra dishes it requires.  That means we don't eat this one very often which is probably just as well given all the tasty calories that it packs.

  • hamburger patties
  • sliced cheddar cheese
  • 1-2 onions, sliced
  • butter
  • Rye bread

On a griddle, cook the hamburger patties until juices run clear.  I like to use garlic salt and pepper for flavoring.  Place a slice of cheddar cheese on each patty.

On an adjacent burner, sauté sliced onion in butter until translucent. Turn off the burner.

While all that is going on, butter the outsides of an even number of slices of bread, 2 per patty.

Assembly:  On another griddle or shallow frying pan, place one slice of bread butter down.  Put a patty on the bread.  Cover with onions and top with a second slice of bread.  Grill until both sides are lightly browned.
Enjoy with a fresh salad or a bowl of soup.

This is a meal that I prepare fresh, however, I plan for it in my monthly menu and purchase the patties and bread ahead and freeze them until cooking day.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Perfect Place to Start

This last weekend I hosted the first of many training meetings for an upcoming trip to Honduras.  Our team bonding activity was a mini-once-a-month cooking which filled my freezer.

Here is how we accomplished the goal and even ate one of the meals for lunch. 

Honduras OAM Cooking Day Recipes

1.      ____________________:   Corn Casserole

Melt butter or margarine in baking dish.  Add other ingredients and mix well.  Bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour.  Cool.  Serve hot or lukewarm, but not cold. 


1 stick of butter or margarine, melted

1 8 oz. box cornbread mix

1 C sour cream

1 15 oz can corn, undrained

1 15 oz. can creamed corn, undrained


2.      ___________________:     Meatloaf

Using the 4th package of ground turkey (or beef) prepare the following recipe. Souperior Meatloaf

·         1 envelope dry onion soup mix

·         1 packaged ground turkey (1 1/2 - 2 lbs.)

·         1 1/2 C fresh bread crumbs, plain is best

·         2 eggs

·         3/4 C water

·         1/3 C ketchup


Combine all ingredients in an large bowl and mix very well.  Put mixture in a bread pan and shape into a smooth loaf.  Cover with heavy duty foil and freeze.

To serve, defrost and bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour or until done using a meat thermometer. 



3.      ____________________:   ground turkey (or beef)

Brown 3 packages of meat individually, reusing the same frying pan.

Put 1 package of cooked meat into the following containers:

·         14-cup for Taco Soup

·         9-cup for Joe's to Go

·         Large salad bowl for Taco Salad to be served today. If serving at another time, put in a 3 Cup container.

Finish each recipe as directed below.

Taco Soup

Add the following ingredients to the 14-cup container:

·         1/3 C taco seasoning

·         2 cans whole kernel corn, undrained

·         2 cans chili beans or pinto beans, undrained

·         2 cans diced tomatoes, undrained

·         Stir to mix.  Cover and freeze.


To serve: defrost and then bring to a boil in a large saucepan.  Serve with a dollop sour cream, crushed tortilla chips and a sprinkling of cheese.


Joe's to Go


Add the following to the 9-cup container:

3/4 C finely chopped onion or 1 1/2 tsp. onion powder

1 1/2 tsp. garlic salt

1/8 tsp. pepper

1 jar of Homemade Chili Sauce

1/4 C brown sugar

1 T white vinegar

1 T prepared mustard

1 15 oz. can tomato sauce


Stir well. Cover and freeze. 

To serve: defrost and then bring to a boil in a medium sauce pan.  Spoon over open-faced hamburger or hot dog buns.  Sprinkle with cheese if desired.


Taco Salad


Add the following to the large salad bowl:

Dice one onion (optional or serve on the side)

Dice 1-2 tomatoes.

2 C cheese, shredded

3 heads of Romaine lettuce chopped

Drain and rinse one 15 oz. can kidney or black beans


Crush several handfuls of tortilla chips and set aside to serve later.

At serving time, pour most of a bottle of 1,000 Island Dressing over the salad and gently toss.

Ingredients may be served in individual bowls and people make their own combinations.

Other toppings can include guacamole, sour cream and salsa.


To freeze: simply freeze the meat in a 3-cup container.  Cheese can be frozen in a Ziploc-style bag.


4.      _______________________       Gerri Theodore's Spaghetti Sauce



1/4 C olive oil

1 large onion, diced

4 T minced garlic



1- 102 oz. cans tomatoes, pureed in a blender

1 - 106 oz. cans tomato sauce

3 - 6 oz. cans tomato paste


1/3 bunch parsley, chopped or about 1/2 C dried parsley

1/2 C  dried basil

1/2 C sugar

2 tsp. ground cloves


Reserve 4 cups for Lasagna.

Divide the remaining sauce into 3 cup containers to cool.  Cover and freeze.




Brown 1 lb. of Italian sausage and set aside.

Prepare Ricotta filling.

·         2lbs ricotta

·         2 eggs

·         1/8 C parsley

Gather the mozzarella cheese, grate if necessary.

Gather the oven ready noodles.


Place 3 noodles across the bottom of a 9x13" pan.

Cover with 1 3/4C ricotta

Sprinkle with 1 3/4 C sausage-flavored meat.

Cover with 2 C sauce.

Sprinkle with 2 1/2 C grated mozzarella cheese.


Spread 4 noodles with ricotta filling and place on top of cheese.

Use a spatula to spread remaining ricotta over noodles (up to 1 3/4 C). Sprinkle with 1 3/4 C sausage.

Cover with 2 C sauce.

Sprinkle with 2 1/2 C grated mozzarella choose.


Cover with waxed paper and then foil or a blue lid to freeze and bake later. May take up to 1 1/2 hours to fully reheat.  Bake at 350 degrees F.



5.      _____________________  Chicken dishes (3)


Creamy Chicken Bake


Mix the stuffing with 2C very hot water and the seasoning packet.  Let stand.

Place 6 chicken breasts in a 9"x13" pan.

Cover with sliced Swiss cheese.

Spread one can of Cream of Chicken soup over the cheese.

Put the stuffing on top of the soup.

Melt 1 stick of butter and pour over the stuffing.

Cover with a blue lid and freeze.


Bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour.


Chicken Enchiladas


Stir the following in a saucepan over low heat until the cream cheese is melted.


2 C shredded or chopped cooked chicken

1 - 8oz. package cream cheese, cubed

1/2 C salsa


Spoon mixture down the center of  8 flour tortillas.  Roll them up and place seam-side down in a 9"x13" pan.


Using the same saucepan, stir the following until melted and smooth:

            12 ounces Velveeta Cheese, cut up

            1/4 C milk


Pour over enchiladas.  Cover with a blue lid or heavy duty foil.  Freeze.


Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes and drizzle 1/2 C salsa over before serving.


Huli Chicken


Put 12 thighs in each of two Ziploc-style bags.  Prepare the following sauce to pour over the chicken.


1 C packed brown sugar

3/4 C ketchup- sodium soy sauce

1/3 C sherry or chicken broth

2 1/2 tsp. minced fresh gingerroot or about 1 tsp. ground ginger

1 1/2 tsp. minced garlic


Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.  Pour half over each bag.  Close bags and freeze.

To grill: defrost chicken and cook over medium heat for 6-8 minutes on each side.



6.      _____________________  Egg B ake

Rehydrate 1 box of dehydrated hash browns with boiling water.  Set aside for 10 minutes. Make egg mixture and set aside.


Egg mixture:

·         2 c whole milk or cream

·         4 large eggs

·         1 T Dijon mustard

·         1/2 tsp. dry mustard

·         1/2 tsp. salt

·         1/4 tsp. pepper


Place potatoes in an 8-in. square pan:


Add the following:

1 8 oz. can mushrooms, drained

1/4 C bacon, crumbled

Optional ingredients:  onions, bell peppers,


Cover with 1 1/2 C grated cheddar cheese (about 6 oz.)

Pour egg mixture over all.  Cover with a blue lid and freeze.


To Serve:  Defrost and bake at 350 degrees F for about 45 minutes or bake while partially frozen for up to 2 hours.  Cool for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.



Misc. Notes.

Meatballs can be divided into smaller bags or simply frozen and used as needed for Spaghetti and Meatballs and Meatball Sandwiches.  Cook as directed on bag.

Prepare the chicken for the enchiladas ahead of time by either boiling 3-4 breasts in a pot of water with garlic salt until done (about 20 minutes) or cooking them in a crock-pot with garlic salt or taco seasoning.  Cool some and then shred using two forks to pull apart the meat.