Friday, February 27, 2009

English Muffin Egg Strata

We have a love/hate relationship with Egg Bakes in our house. My husband doesn't usually like them, but I can say I've also made some doosies of disaster of egg bakes in my day, so I'm sure that doesn't help. I vividly remember a Tator Tot Egg Bake that turned out wiggly and mushy (and I'm the one that LOVES egg bakes!) So I saw this recipe on Everyday Food on PBS years ago and thought it looked different enough but still pretty easy.

I had english muffins in the freezer (leftover from Ham & Cheese Toasters) and couldn't believe that 4 muffins would make a whole pan! I toasted all the muffins on a cookie sheet on broil in the oven. Here are my sliced up fixin's:Then after I had them all in the pan, I thought they just looked too cool not to take a photo!

After I baked it, I think it got a little too brown on top to be a "pretty" dish, so I would have kept foil on it at the beginning, then removed it at the end to brown it. We had it for dinner with broccoli and a salad, and also ate the leftovers for breakfast for the next few days. My husband enjoyed the dish, and said that he would eat it again! (Pleasant surprise!)

If you're really feeling in the mood, here's my recipe for Homemade Whole Wheat English Muffins.

English Muffin Egg Strata
Makes 6 servings

4 english muffins spilt, toasted and cut in half
1/2 pound sliced canadian bacon about 10 slices, halved (I used ham slices)
1 1/4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/3 finely shredded parmesan cheese
8 large eggs
3 cups milk
1 1/2 tablespoons dijon style mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce such as Tabasco

This savory breakfast pudding can be prepared the night before through step 2 and baked the next morning. Let the strata chill 2 hours, and it will be nice and moist. If you leave it overnight in the refrigerator, it will be even more custardy.

1. Butter a 2-quart shallow baking dish (oval or square); set aside. In dish, alternately arrange, cut side down, muffin halves and Canadian bacon. Sprinkle with cheddar and Parmesan cheeses. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, mustard, salt, a pinch of pepper, and hot sauce until combined. Pour over muffins and bacon; cover tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

3.Preheat oven to 350°. Place baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet; remove plastic wrap. Bake until puffed and set in the center, about 1 hour and 30 minutes. Tent loosely with foil if strata starts to brown too quickly. With a paring knife, pierce the center of the cooked strata. If it feels firm and the knife comes out clean, the eggs have set and the strata is done. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

I also shared this recipe at The Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap, and Eat at Home's Ingredient Spotlight.

Easy Cooking | Simple Cooking 

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Porcupine Meatballs

My grandma would invite me over for dinner when I was in high school as a way to stay close to her grandkids. She asked for requests, and I always wanted these meatballs. She always served it with mashed potatoes and peas, and I would go ga-ga over them. Now that I know how easy they are to make, I still go ga-ga when I make them.

Here are the meatballs before the sauce'n....See the "porcupine" rice flecks? Genius recipe namers, these people.

I always think of my Grandma when I make these and the nice visits we had during those dinners. Hope you enjoy!

Porcupine Meatballs
Makes 4 servings

2 pounds ground beef
1/2 cup minced really fine onions
1/2 cup uncooked rice
1/2 cup cracker crumbs
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt

10 3/4 ounces tomato soup
1 can water

Mince onion and mix everything except soup and water. Shape in balls and place in a lightly greased pan. Mix together tomato soup and water, and pour over meatballs. Bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour.

Easy Cooking | Simple Cooking 

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Bang Bang Shrimp

This was such a great change of pace for us. It was something new, and a fun dinner where we had "night out" food. We very rarely eat at Bonefish Grill anymore - but I'm sure we have about the same eat-out ratio as most parents with young children! Here is the originial copycat recipe from Recipezaar.

I served the shrimp with roasted zucchini and a wild rice mix. I also loved this recipe because I finally sprang for a bottle of hot chili sauce. Hello new best friend! I've been putting this on everything!

Bang Bang Shrimp

1 lb shrimp, shelled and deveined (smaller shrimp works best)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup Thai sweet chili sauce
3-5 drops hot chili sauce, just a few drops
1/2-3/4 cup cornstarch, to coat the shrimp in

Mix mayo and sauces for coating.Bread shrimp in cornstarch.Deep fat fry the shrimp until lightly brown. Drain on paper towel, put shrimp in a bowl and coat with the sauce. Serve in a lettuce lined bowl, top with chopped scallions.

Easy Cooking | Simple Cooking 

Monday, February 23, 2009

Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Root Beer Sauce

This recipe ROCKS. I've made it a handful of times, because reducing the Root Beer Sauce sometimes takes time that I don't have. But when I have the time, it's totally worth it. The sauce is the shining star of the recipe, and it has encouraged me to go out and find more recipes for reducing sauces! I got the recipe from Better Homes and Garden a few years ago. I served the sandwiches with Coleslaw.

My husband was in love with these. Raving on, and on, and on! My son ate a few pieces of pork, but I count that as a victory!
I am also posting this recipe at $5 Dinner Challenge, although I know it is OVER $5.....This is my first posting there, but I just can't do the crazy breakdown math yet, so I'm posting what all the ingredients cost whole at the store. Also we ate it for 3 meals, so I count that as a VICTORY since it was so yummy!

Cost breakdown:
Pork Roast $5.59
2 Liter Root Beer .78
Chili Sauce - leftover from another recipe
10 pk Buns - $1.50
Huge onion - $1.04
Garlic and Seasonings - pantry

Shredded Cabbage mix - 1.68
Milk, Mayo, Vinegar, seasonings - pantry

$10.59 Total - for 3 meals:$3.53/meal!
OK maybe that's under $5! Enjoy!

Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Root Beer Sauce
Makes 6 servings

3 pounds pork roast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 medium onions
1 cup root beer (do not use diet)
2 tablespoons minced garlic
3 cups root beer (do not use diet)
1 cup bottled chili sauce
Several dash hot pepper sauce
8 hamburger buns spilt and toasted

Trim fat from meat. If necessary, cut roast to fit into a 3 1/2 to 5 quart crockery cooker. Spray cooker with non-stick spray. Place meat in the crockery cooker and sprinkle the roast with salt and pepper. Add onions, the 1 cup root beer, and garlic. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 8 to 10 hours or on high heat setting for 4 to 5 hours.

Meanwhile, for the Root Beer sauce, in a medium saucepan combine the 3 cups of root beer and the chili sauce. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Boil gently, uncovered, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes or until reduced to 2 cups. If desired, stir in bottled hot pepper sauce.

Transfer roast to a cutting board or serving platter. Using a slotted spoon, remove onions from cooking juices and place on serving platter. Discard juices. Using 2 forks, pull meat apart into shreds. Spoon meat onto buns, top with onions if desired. Spoon on sauce and save some for dipping.

Easy Cooking | Simple Cooking 

Menu Plan Monday for Feb 23, 2009

Menu Plan Monday for Feb 22, 2009
Lots of links this week! Please check out Organizing Junkie for lots of great meal plans!

Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Root Beer Sauce, Coleslaw

Panera Broccoli, Ham & Cheese Soup, (OK, Panera's soup doesn't come with Ham, but I'm adding it!) Biscuits

Garlic Spinach Balls, Brown Rice, Corn

English Muffin Egg Strata, (new recipe) Salad

Porcupine Meatballs, Mashed Potatoes, Peas

Homemade Pizza

Granola Bars

Easy Cooking | Simple Cooking 

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Tofu Trial #2: General Tso's Tofu

I have decided my family is trying more tofu! As I mentioned in my first attempt at preparing tofu, we are trying to watch our meat intake as we are fighting my husband's nemesis, Cholesterol and his sidekick, Weight Gain. My husband has been very supportive, accommodating, and surprisingly gung-ho about this whole new thing. I still keep checking with him every week "Are you still on for trying a new tofu recipe?" Sure he says!

We are pretty early in this process, so here are the first two recipes in our Tofu Trials:
#1: Tofu Tacos
#2 General Tso's Tofu

This is my husband's favorite takeout Chinese order, and so I thought it was the perfect place to do a little switch-a-roo. Plus, it's fried, then dunked in sauce. Plastic just might taste good in this form. I repeat....might.

This is a combination of my existing General Tso's Chicken recipe, and the instructions on how to prep the tofu from Recipezaar's General Tso's Tofu. I served it with Brown Rice and steamed Broccoli.

The Verdict?
The General Tso's recipe, minus the tofu, is pretty close to takeout. The tofu on the other hand, didn't go over well. It was just a texture issue. Large chunks of tofu are not that great for the novice tofu eater. I have decided that in the next Tofu Trial, the tofu will be HIDDEN in something. Almost undetectable. But, we will keep trying!
General Tso's Tofu
Makes 8 servings
1 (16 ounce) container extra firm tofu
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 egg beaten
1 cup cornstarch
2 cups green onions sliced
8 small dried chilies seeds removed
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/4 water
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic minced
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh ginger minced
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup sherry or white wine
1 14 1/2-ounce can chicken broth
Place sauce ingredients in a quart jar with a lid and shake to mix. Refrigerate until needed shaking it again when you are ready to use it.
Take tofu out of liquid it came in and chop into 1 inch cubes, press these between two towels to take out the moisture and dry them. Here are my tofu "cubes":

Mix soy sauce, egg and cornstarch well and add tofu, tossing to coat. (I had to add a teaspoon or so of water to the mixture before adding the tofu) Deep fry 7 or 8 tofu pieces at a time in hot (350 degree) oil until tofu pieces are crispy. Drain on paper towels. Repeat until all tofu is fried.

Place a small amount of oil in wok or large skillet and heat to 400 degrees. Add green onions and hot peppers and stir fry about 30 seconds. Stir sauce mixture, and then add to pan with onions and peppers, cook until thick. If it gets too thick, add a little water. Add fried tofu to sauce in wok, and cook until all is hot and bubbly. Serve over rice.

Easy Cooking | Simple Cooking

Friday, February 20, 2009

Ham & Cheese Toasters

This recipe came from my childhood friend Emilee. This recipe has been floating around her family for years, and I feel honored that they shared the recipe with me when I was only in 7th grade. Yes, I was saving recipes back then, and I still can pull out the recipe card with Emilee's 7th grade handwriting from my recipe box. I may not scrapbook or get hoardy about family photos, but my first recipe box brings smiles and memories out each time I open it.

This works great for a brunch, but we have it often as a light dinner with a salad. It's fast, easy and yummy.

I am also sharing this recipe at Grocery Cart Challenge's Recipe Swap. Please stop by her site for some great recipes!

Ham and Cheese Toasters
Makes 6 servings

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup chopped ham
2 tablespoons chopped onions or green onions
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon mustard
3 english muffins

Mix everything together except muffins. Spilt muffins in half and top with mixture. Broil until cheese is a little brown.

Easy Cooking | Simple Cooking

Thursday, February 19, 2009

10 Minutes to a New Kitchen

I have been exploring The Nesting Place site this whole week and finding such great ideas. It has really made me think about updating some home decorating projects that have been hanging on for 3+ years. So when I saw her 10 Minutes to a Room You'll Love, I thought I would share!

I used her Tutorial on Tablespaces to redress a catch-all corner in the kitchen. It is the first wall space you see when you enter the kitchen. Here is the cluttered counter before:

I cringe when I see those cords. Yikes. Actually just cleaning of all that countertop made me feel relaxed. I cleaned off the counter, used my favorite granite wipes, then shopped my house.

Wall hanging that I stole off the opposite wall (I have been feeling like taking it down and finding something new anyway!)
Stack of vintage cookbooks
Orange Jar
Candle Tray
And to make my tablespace functional: my cloth napkin basket

and *voila* it makes it feel like a completely different kitchen.

This is not as polished or "perfect" as I would have liked it, but it still makes me feel great and it was FREE! And look at the uncluttered, clean counter:

The rest of my kitchen needs a makeover, too, but one chunk at a time! Thanks for letting me share!

Wow! Tip Junkie!

Welcome if you are coming from Tip Junkie! I'm so excited that my DIY Grocery Bag Organizer is being featured today! If you haven't taken a look at this cute project, take a look now!

If you like what you see, please subscribe via email or RSS feed!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Thift Store Notecards

Every time I hit my favorite local thrift store, I always make sure I hit the card section. I have found the majority of my notecards for around $1-$2 per 12 pack. I like to buy the "sealed in plastic" sets to avoid yellowing envelopes and water marks (from who knows what!) I use these as Birthday cards, (huge savings there) Thank You cards, and Thinking of You cards.

There were 4 sets of the Flip Flop cards that are in the photo above at the store on a trip a few months ago. I bought 48 cards for $4! I even re-packaged up a set with ribbon and sent them as a gift to my notecard-loving friend (sorry to reveal the magic, Emilee!)

If I see cute Christmas cards, I also buy those and save them for the season. I have yet to have a big enough stash to send out our "official" Christmas cards on the cheap, but by using them on gifts and the occasional Christmas card, I have saved lots of money.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Sloppy Joes

We haven't had Sloppy Joes in a very long time, and I was excited to try a new recipe for them. I like to call them Sloppy Joseph's sometimes if I'm trying to fancy it up! My family liked this recipe, although it didn't blow me out of the water. But, it is much better tasting (and nice I had everything on hand) than the Manwich cans of scary sauce. Chemical Aftertaste Manwich's anyone? ewwwwwwww! This recipe came from Amy at Mom Advice.

Sloppy Joes

1 lb ground beef (I used ground turkey)
1 cup chopped onions
1 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon mustard
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

In a large skillet, brown beef with onions. Mix the rest of the ingredients together. Add to beef and onions. Cook for 1 hour over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Serve on warm hamburger buns.

Easy Cooking | Simple Cooking

Monday, February 16, 2009

Change your bookmarks, y'all!

I have made the leap from

Please change your bookmarks and
keep coming back for lots of neat stuff!

Menu Plan Monday for Feb 16

Not too many links this week, but by the end of the week I'll have all the recipes and photos posted! Come back and see my new series, Tofu Trials, where I'll see if I can create some keeper of tofu recipes!
Please go check out Organizing Junkie for lots of meal plans!

Menu Plan for February 16

Chicken Breast, Pasta Alfredo Side, Marinated Broccoli Salad

Bang Bang Shrimp
, (new recipe) Wild Rice, Zucchini

Veggie Fatijas, Spanish Rice, Refried Beans

Emilee's Ham & Cheese Spread, Salad

General Tso's Tofu, (new recipe) Broccoli, Brown Rice

Homemade Pizza


Lunches: Leftovers, Mac n Cheese

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Nutella Brownies

Photo courtesy of Bake or Break

I finally caved to my cravings and bought a jar of Nutella. It does wonders for my 9 pm chocolate craving, and saves me from a chocolate milkshake run to Sonic! Now that I own a whole jar of the good stuff, I've been looking for ways to use it.

I found this recipe at Epicurious through Bake or Break and thought it sounded like heaven in a pan. We ate a whole 8 x 8 pan in one night....I know, oink, oink....and at least my husband went to the gym the next day. I loved the hazelnut taste, much better than my normal brownie recipe. This was also a lot more work (who wants to do a double broiler when you're in full on chocolate craving?) but well worth it for a yummy recipe.

Here are blurry photo of the melting chocolate. By this point in the recipe I was thinking there was no way this recipe could turn out bad, because the smells coming from just this bowl were wonderful.

I'm sharing this at Eat at Home Ingredient Spotlight: Nutella.

Nutella Brownies 
recipe from Bake or Break

1 1/4 cups hazelnuts (about 6 1/4 ounces)
4 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened)
3 ounces fine-quality milk chocolate
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1/4 cup Nutella* (chocolate-hazelnut spread)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350° F. and butter and flour a 9-inch square baking pan, knocking out excess flour.
Toast and skin hazelnuts. In a food processor pulse hazelnuts until coarsely ground (bits should be about 1/8 inch).
Chop chocolates into small pieces and in a double boiler or a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water melt chocolates with butter and Nutella, stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove top of double boiler or bowl from heat.
While chocolates are melting, into a bowl sift together flour, baking powder, and a pinch salt. Whisk sugar into chocolate mixture until combined well. Add eggs, whisking until mixture is glossy and smooth. Stir in flour mixture and hazelnuts until just combined.
Pour batter into baking pan and bake in middle of oven 35 to 40 minutes, or until a tester comes out with moist crumbs adhering to it. Cool brownies completely in pan on a rack and cut into 16 squares. Brownies keep, layered between sheets of wax paper in an airtight container at cool room temperature, 5 days.

Easy Cooking | Simple Cooking

Friday, February 13, 2009

Adding a little "pretty" to washing the dishes

Here is one way I like to add a little "pretty" to my chore of washing the dishes. I like to put my dishwashing soap in an olive oil dispenser. I got mine from Pier 1, because I like that it's a smaller bottle and the simplicity of the design of the bottle. My favorite "color" is the cheap grapefruit smell - I swear sometimes it smells like Fruit Loops! yummmmm......sugar! Actually, cheap dishwashing soap works better because it's thinner and runs a little easier out of the bottle.

It's the little things in life, right?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Homemade Enchilada Sauce

HOMEMADE ENCHILADA SAUCESeriously, this girl can't steer me wrong! This recipe came from Amy at Mom Advice, and I think I've made it almost every week for a few months.

I love this recipe because we eat a lot of Mexican food, and I almost always have tomato sauce in the pantry, so I can whip up some enchiladas quick! While enchilada sauce isn't the most expensive thing at the store, it's still cheaper to buy plain tomato sauce, or use up some from your pantry.

I like to make the sauce earlier in the day and let it "rest" for awhile before I pour over the enchiladas. I think the flavor develops a little. I've also made a half recipe for a 8 x 8 pan and that works great.

Fast Enchilada Sauc
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons chili powder
3 garlic cloves,minced
2 teaspoons cumin

2 teaspoons sugar
2 (8-ounce) cans tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
Heat the oil in a 12" skillet over medium heat until shimmering. add the onion and salt and cook until softened, about five minutes. Stir in the chili powder, garlic, cumin, and sugar. Cook until fragrant, about fifteen seconds. Stir in the tomato sauce and water. Bring to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened, about five minutes. Season with salt & pepper to taste.

Easy Cooking | Simple Cooking 

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


This ain't fancy food, people. This is a pretty old-fashioned main dish that my mom made a lot when I was growing up. I have tweaked it a little, and *voila* my variation of Goulash. I made it this week as a way to fulfill a childhood food craving while I was sick, but with my cold, I couldn't taste a thing. So I will just have to make it again soon!

I've also shared this recipe at the Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap, so go check out all the other recipes there!

Serves: 4

1 pound ground turkey or ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onions
2 cloves garlic
Salt and pepper
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 10.75 ounce can tomato soup
8 ounces macaroni cooked
2 teaspoons paprika or to taste

Brown turkey/beef with onions and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Add diced tomatoes, tomato soup, macaroni and paprika. Simmer until flavors combine.

Easy Cooking | Simple Cooking 

Monday, February 9, 2009

Menu Plan Monday for Feb 9, 2009

Our whole family has been sick last week, (and I'm still sick) so our menu plan went out the window as fast as the takeout pizzas came in. I am working in few meals from last week, and hopefully giving myself a break to recover!

Goulash with Zucchini

Chicken Breasts, Packaged Rice Side, Broccoli

Paula Deen's Chicken and Rice Casserole

Sloppy Joe's, (new recipe) Homemade Buns, Salad

Enchiladas, Crockpot Refried Beans

Frozen Pizza (this is my backup in case we haven't shaken the sickeys)

Check out other great meal plans at Organizing Junkie!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Pizza Crust

My husband loves pizza, and would eat it everyday with almost anything as a topping. It has become my backup meal as I like to have a stash of pre-made pizza crusts waiting for me in the freezer. The recipe below makes 2 pizza crusts, although I have been known to go a little crazy and make up to 6 in a day.

In the summer, I use the grill to make all the crusts and to cook the pizzas, but in the winter, I love to crank up the oven (and use the residual heat as a space heater when it's chilly!)

Here is the pizza dough coming out of the bread machine:

I should actually call my bread machine a "dough machine" instead because I haven't baked a loaf of bread in that machine for about 3 years. But, it cranks out great dough for my pizza crusts, cinnamon rolls and hamburger buns.

Here is my rolled out dough. I don't get too concerned about the crusts being circular, just as big as I can get them!

So here are my two pizza crusts after coming out of the oven. I bake them until they show just a little bit of browning, then I flip the crusts and pop them back in the oven.

I allow the crusts to cool, then carefully place the crusts into a 2.5 gallon ziploc bags. I usually put 2 crusts in each bag.

Pizza Dough
revised from The Betty Crocker Cookbook
1 package regular or quick-acting active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (105 - 115 F)
1 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp salt
2 3/4 to 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
Dissolve yeast in warm water in large bowl. Stir in sugar, oil, salt and 1 cup of the flour. Beat until smooth. Mix in enough remaining flour to make dough easy to handle. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface. Knead about 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Place in greased bowl and turn greased side up. Cover and let rise in warm place about 30 minutes or until almost double.
Punch dough down. Roll on a lightly floured surface. Bake at 450 F.
Bread Machine directions:
Put ingredients into your bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Set for the Dough setting. Once completed, separate into 2 balls, the roll out each to desired size. Bake at 450 until slightly browned.

Easy Cooking | Simple Cooking

Friday, February 6, 2009

Crockpot Lasagna

I very rarely make lasagna - it just never has turned out when I've made it all home so I was very skeptical, but excited to try this! Have you seen how much the grocery store charges for those prepackaged lasagna's? I also shared this recipe at The Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap - go check out her site!

I looked at 3 recipes before attempting it. This one from A Year of Crockpotting, this one from, and this one I found by googling.....It looked like A Year of Crockpotting was going to be the forerunner.

I just couldn't believe that 4 hours on low would get the job done. No way! But that type of thinking got me to having a completed Crockpot Lasagna at 3 pm! I just turned off the crockpot at 3 pm, then turned it back on high at 5 pm to heat it up.

Here is the lasagna right after I turned on the crockpot:

And here is the top of the finished product:

I think I overcooked the lasagna, so it was a little dry and very noodley. I think next time I'll use less noodles and trust the low cooking time! It's just like a GPS device - You've got to have the faith!

Crockpot Lasagna
8 oz box of regular lasagna noodles
26 oz jar of pasta sauce
12 oz container pureed lowfat cottage cheese (you could use ricotta cheese instead)
8 oz package of shredded Italian cheese
9 oz box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/4 cup water

Spray crockpot with non-stick spray. Put 1/3 of spaghetti sauce in bottom of crockpot, then a layer of dried lasagna noodles , smear a layer of a 1/3 of the cottage cheese, sprinkle with 1/3 of shredded cheese, 1/3 of spinach. Repeat layers, ending with a shredded cheese layer on top. Put the 1/4 cup of water in your empty pasta jar and shake - Pour the juice over the whole pile of food. Cover and cook for 4 hours on low.

Easy Cooking | Simple Cooking 

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Tofu Trial #1: Tofu Tacos, yes I said Tofu!

I have always been skeptical of tofu. My first experience with tofu was not good, even if it was in a stir fry that could have been yummy. I was on a college campus tour at a dining hall for lunch, and I swear I just didn't see the tofu in there when I was filling up my plate. It literally startled me when I ate it! "So this is what crazy folks are calling tofu!" I didn't end up attending that college anyway, but not because they tried to serve me tofu on the sly.

So here is my first "real" attempt at eating tofu. We have been watching our meat intake as we are fighting my husband's nemesis, Cholesterol and his sidekick, Weight Gain. I have never been a big fish eater (what can I say? I live in Florida, but I'm from the Midwest) but I loves the seafood. So here is my first package of tofu straight off the grocery store shelf:

Now below is after I opened it up, drained off the water, and squeezed out some of the water on a towel. By now I am physically nervous about these tacos. I stop taco prep and remove refried beans from the freezer to act as backup taco filling.

Here is the tofu taco filling finished:

The verdict? It tasted like tacos, but honestly, it just didn't taste like anything in particular. We kept eating and rolling it around in our mouths, trying to pin down the taste. But we kept on saying "It really doesn't taste like anything!" I am planning on putting more tofu into other recipes where it doesn't take such a starring role. My husband said he'd keep eating the tofu, so I'm so proud of him for having an open mind!

Tofu Tacos

1 14 oz package firm tofu
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup onion, minced
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon chili powder (or less to taste)
1 teaspoon cumin (or less to taste)
1 teaspoon garlic powder (or onion powder)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce

Over a medium heat fry the tofu, oil, and onion in a large skillet for 5 minutes. Add the tomato sauce, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, salt, pepper and worcestershire sauce to the skillet and stir. Cook for 3 minutes. Spoon mixture in a serving bowl. Spoon the tofu mixture into taco shells. Top the mixture with your favorite taco fixin's!

Does anyone have any family favorite tofu recipes? Please let me know good, surefire ways to serve tofu!

Easy Cooking | Simple Cooking  

Monday, February 2, 2009

Childrens products are getting a facelift!

How have I not heard about this?

I read this through Baby Cheapskate and it said starting February 10th 2009, you could not buy nor sell your used kids clothing or toys. And no donating them, either.

I freaked.....FREAKED!

I have just made it through all of the clothes handed down to my son, and am now ready to start hitting consignment shops hard to fill in the gaps. The thought that I would have to *gasp* pay for new clothes had me and my budget FREAKING!

I called my favorite local consignment shop. The seemingly vague teenager who answered the phone said that the owner of the store would get a certificate from "the government" and that the new rule only applied to "the main stores, like Walmart" hmmmmmmm....don't get me wrong, but I just didn't have too much confidence in that phone call!

OK so calm down folks, turns out they revised the rules, according to the LA Times.

"sellers of used children's products, such as thrift stores and consignment stores, are not required to certify that those products meet the new lead limits . . . or new toy standards."

But this does apply to all products sold for those age 12 and younger, including handmade clothing and toys. So that really hurts small clothing lines, and any person creating a children's product that can't afford to have it tested for lead content.

So it looks like my consignment shop isn't going anywhere, but the face of children's products is definitely changing!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Menu Plan Monday for Feb 2, 2009

Here is my list of meals for the Week of Feb 2! I don't assign days to these meals, so I can swap and switch according to our schedules. Did everyone enjoy the Super Bowl and eat all their normally off-limits foods? Not surprisingly, antacid purchases increase 20% at 7-11 on Super Bowl Monday. Enjoy your Super Bowl food hangover!

Tofu Tacos with Refried Beans

Chicken Triscuit Hot Dish

Chicken Breasts, Broccoli, Oven Baked Brown Rice

Runza Casserole, Salad

Veggie Chili, Pokey Sticks (also known as Cheesy Garlic Breadsticks - give me a what-what Gumby's Pizza alumni)

Gumbo, Brown Rice

Crockpot Spinach Lasagna (new recipe)

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