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Friday, July 25, 2014

The Lazy Days of Summer

Are there any lazy days of summer?  Sometimes it seems that the pace of life picks up during the summer months.  Kids may not be in school but they get involved in all kinds of activities, probably have more play dates than usual, and parents spend more time as taxi than relaxing.  Having meals in the freezer makes meal time even better in the summer.  Need some easy things?

Pick up a few of your favorite cuts of meat.  Rinse and place in a gallon-sized Ziploc-style storage bag.  Pour a bottle of your favorite marinade over the meat and freeze.  The meat will marinate while freezing and defrosting.  Perfect for a summer bbq!

It's also the perfect time to try your hand at Once-a-month-Cooking. Use that time waiting for your child's practice-lesson-event to finish perusing cooking magazines and create a simple 1-2 week menu.  Next stop, write the grocery list.  Then, plan a play-date so you can cook!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Taco Filled Pasta Shells

Taco-filled Pasta Shells are a family favorite for dinner and as leftovers.  I love the combination of two yummy cuisines - Mexican and Italian.

Set out 12oz. cream cheese to soften.

Prepare one box of jumbo pasta shells according to directions, but shorten the cooking time by 2 minutes.  Rinse in cold water and set aside.

Brown 1 1/2 lbs. of ground turkey or beef.  Drain the fat.
Add 1/2 C taco seasoning. Mix well.
Add 12 oz. cream cheese, mixing well after the addition.

Pour 1 C of salsa (Picante, mild) into the bottom of a 9x13" pan.
Spoon meat mixture into 25 shells and place them in the pan.
Pour 1 bottle of red taco sauce over the shells.
Sprinkle generously with shredded cheese.
Cover and freeze.

On eating day, defrost.  Bake at 350 degrees F for about 30-40 minutes until salsa is bubbly and cheese melts.  Sprinkle with crushed tortilla chips and serve.
Add your favorite optional toppings: avocado, sour cream, green onions and more cheese.

A New-to-me Freshly Made Dish

On my most recent cooking day, I actually ran out of room in my freezer.  I made the quick decision to simply separate the boneless chicken breasts into gallon-sized freezer bags knowing I'd need to allow more time to prepare those meals on the eating day.  Today was one of those days, and so I began to follow a newly found recipe for Chicken Marsala.  It was actually quite easy. 

I followed the recipe, a few of the written tips and of course, my family's tastes.

Thaw four large chicken breasts, cut in half and pound to about 1/4" thick.  Truthfully, mine are 3/4" thick.

In a medium sized bowl, mix the following in which to dredge the chicken.
1/2 C flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. black pepper

In a deep frying pan, melt 1/4 C butter with 1/4 C olive oil.
After dredging the chicken, place it in the pan to lightly brown.  Turn over.

Cover the chicken with 1-2 C of mushrooms.  I used 3 - 8oz. cans of sliced mushrooms.
Pour the following over the chicken:
1 C chicken broth
1/2 C Marsala wine
Cover the pan and reduce heat to simmer.  Cook chicken until the juices run clear.

Our meal is simmering on the stove as I write, but it looked delicious when I snapped this photo.  Can't wait to try it with a side of rice and steamed veggies!

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