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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.

Crock-Pot #3 and Quick Shredded Chicken

I think I've written about some of my escapades with crock-pots, and so it continues today with the opening of yet one more box with a brand new appliance.  The first crock cracked, the second was returned when the lid shattered over a whole chicken roasting in the pot, and now a third graces the shelf in my pantry.

My sister asked if I'd considered another brand after all those stories, but it's so easy to return items at Costco that I just keep buying what they carry in store.  I have a revolving $42 on my credit card.  All that it's cost me is a bit of time, but I usually make the returns during a regular shopping trip.  So here I go, with #3 and hope that it will last through several seasons of cooking in my kitchen.

So I put it to work with a super easy chicken recipe.  Put 4-6 frozen chicken breasts into the crock and generously sprinkle with Taco Seasoning.  Turn the pot on low for about 7-8 hours.  Shred the chicken using two forks.  You should find that the juices and water from freezing will make just the right amount of sauce/juice.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

New Life for Spotted Bananas

I love August.  I love a good banana, but it must be slightly green and definitely firm.  That is a very small window in the life of a banana, and so we end up with lots of brown-spotted fruit that needs a new mission in life, especially in August when the days are so warm.  Fruit ripens much faster at this time of year.  Banana Bread has always been the way out for these "over-ripe" in my opinion pieces of fruit.  However, my sister-in-law made a banana cake for a party that I have found to be a delicious alternative to the bread.  Here is Lyla's Banana Cake recipe.

Set out cream cheese and butter to soften (see frosting recipe below)

Combine in a bowl and set aside:
2 C flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda

Prepare eggs and set aside:
2 eggs, beaten

Cream together in a large bowl:
1 and 1/2 C sugar
1/2 C shortening

Add the following:
1/2 C buttermilk
1 C bananas mashed (I usually use 2-3 bananas, unmeasured)
1 tsp. vanilla

Now add the eggs.  Then the dry ingredients, mixing well.
Pour into a greased 9"x13" pan and bake for 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees F.

2 - 3oz. packages cream cheese softened
1 T butter, softened

1 tsp. vanilla
1 3/4 C powdered sugar

Beat cream cheese and butter until smooth.  Add powdered sugar and vanilla.  Mix well and spread over a cooled cake.

This recipe is well worth the purchase of buttermilk and the effort to make the cake.  Enjoy!

Freezer idea:  Make the cake, but do not frost it.  Cover tightly and freeze for another day.

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Chef is Taking a Vacation from Cooking

This morning my hubby left on a week long business trip.  This afternoon I realized that I could turn this week into a cooking vacation which is just one more way to extend meals over the next two weeks until I can prepare another once-a-month cooking.  So, here's the plan:

Monday:  bar-b-qued hot dogs
Tuesday: Pupusas and beans
Wednesday: hamburgers, also bar-b-qued
Thursday: hmm...maybe breakfast for dinner
Friday: pizza for sure!  And, I will buy it, not make it!

The added bonus is a week of easy meals during a week of great work preparing for a large celebration.   Normally, we'd have something with bell peppers, but not this time!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Hmm...Just One Tub of Frozen Spaghetti Sauce and 10 People for Dinner

We are still in our "eat the freezer week," but I'd invited some friends for dinner.  One tub of frozen red sauce is about three cups.  This is just enough for one pound of spaghetti, but I would prepare two pounds for this larger gathering which would ensure some leftovers for my pasta-for-breakfast-loving child.

I warmed up the red sauce in a small pot, while setting a larger pot 2/3 full of water to boil (for 2 lbs. of penne pasta).  Simultaneously, I began to make a double batch of cheese sauce (see blog).  Instead of covering the pasta in one sauce, I served it plain with a choice of sauces.  This also meets the need my family has of a non-red sauce pasta person. 

Sides are simple.  Always make a big salad.  Here, too, I kept it simple with just romaine lettuce and a grated carrot, Italian and Ranch dressings to choose from.  Second side, garlic bread, of course!  A family favorite to eat and cook's favorite to make is with Johnny's Garlic Spread and Seasoning.  Simply mix 3T of the seasoning with 1/2 cup melted or very softened butter and spread it over a loaf of French bread which has been sliced down the middle long-wise.  I prefer to broil it for 2-3 minutes.  Cool slightly before continuing to slice into serving pieces or slice it all up front of broiling.

My New Favorite Marinade

I first saw this marinade in the grocery store earlier this summer and my family loved it!  Today I was shopping at Sam's Club and happened to see this 6-pack.  What a yummy way to extend summer into the fall.  It's delicious on chicken, whether pieces or a whole chicken in the crock pot.  Find some and try it!