Monday, October 31, 2011

Bread Machine Fluffy Breadsticks

Serving soup as a main dish is a very inexpensive way to stretch the grocery budget, although most times it doesn't get everyone in the family excited to dig in.

One way I like to make "Soup Night" a little more appealing is to serve Biscuits, Pumpkin Cornbread Muffins, Cornbread, or some sort of homemade baked good to draw them to the table. Plus, soup is usually easy to whip up and let simmer on the back of the stove while I turn my attention to bake up something.

This recipe called for bread flour, but I used all purpose flour and they seemed to turn out just fine. I mean by just fine, the family inhaled the WHOLE pan and fought over the last breadsticks.

I didn't have any parmesan cheese, but instead topped them with butter, garlic powder and kosher salt. We dipped them in marinara, and these reminded me of Olive Garden

Bread Machine Fluffy Breadsticks
recipe from Clover Lane
Makes 24 breadsticks

1 cup warm water
1/4 cup oil
3 cups of bread flour
1 tsp. salt
3 TBS brown sugar
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast

Topping ingredients:
4 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
Parmesan cheese (to taste)
Pizza sauce for dipping

Combine the water, oil, flour, salt, brown sugar and yeast in the order recommended by your manufacturer and set it to the "Dough" cycle. Once the dough cycle is finished, (mine took 90 minutes) roll the dough onto a 10 x 12 lightly buttered cookie sheet. Using a pizza cutter, cut the bread sticks into 24 pieces.

Let rise for about an hour.

Bake at 375 for 10-15 minutes.

When breadsticks come out of oven, drizzle melted butter and garlic salt on top. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese to taste and serve with  pizza sauce for dipping. Most of the pieces will pull apart easily.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Ham Fontinella

This is the first post for this site that sat in the "Draft" box for a good 10 months. Not because the recipe isn't good, it's that these photos are dated 12 days after my son was born....what was I doing whipping up casseroles in the baby fog? Hence, the paper plate backdrop for this recipe! Doesn't surprise me it took almost 10 months for me to get around to posting it!

I totally changed this from the original recipe. This version seemed a little easier to whip up in my world. Mozzarella was already in my frig, so that got used instead of the fontinella cheese. I'm sure the special cheese would have amped up flavor, so I'm not against giving this recipe another try using the correct cheese!

As for dinner time, this casserole went over well. Wasn't a huge success, but no one revolted.

In my internet wanderings for this post, I found a great article for 25 ways to use frozen spinach. I know I seem to have many boxes of this in my freezer after the holiday sales.

Ham Fontinella
recipe adapted from Strawberry Cake

1 boxes long grain and wild rice mix (not the fast cook)
2 cups cubed ham
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup grated fontinella cheese (I used mozzarella)
1/2 cup grated mozzarella
1/4 parmesan cheese
1/4 cup milk
10 oz box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

Preheat oven 350 degrees. Prepare rice according to package directions. In a large mixing bowl, combine cooked rice, ham, garlic powder, cheeses, milk and spinach. Stir to combine well. Spread in an 8 x 8 inch greased baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until bubbly.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Classic Baked Ziti

I'm always looking for the next great rendition of recipes. Especially ones that I can freeze half for another night! So when I saw a recipe for "Classic Baked Ziti" on the back of the Mueller ziti box, I thought I'd give it a try, as my on-the-fly Basic Baked Ziti is adequate, but not fantastic.

My husband's only requirement of Baked Ziti is for it to include hot sausage, so he is pretty easy to please. I thought this was more "saucey" so I was happy.

Classic Baked Ziti
recipe from Mueller's 
makes 6 to 8 servings

16 oz dried ziti noodles
1 lb ground beef or hot sausage
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced or 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
6 cups meatless spaghetti sauce, divided
1 cup pasta water, reserved from draining ziti
2 cups (8 oz) shredded Mozzarella cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Slightly undercook ziti, about 8 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta water, cover and set aside.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
In large skillet over medium heat, cook beef, onion and garlic; stirring frequently 6 to 8 minutes or until beef is browned. Drain fat.
Stir in 5 cups spaghetti sauce and reserved pasta water. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Mix the meat/sauce mixture with ziti. Spoon 1/2 of ziti mixture into 13x9x2" baking dish. Sprinkle with Mozzarella and 1/2 of Parmesan cheese. Top with remaining ziti mixture and remaining 1 cup spaghetti sauce. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese. Bake 25 - 30 minutes or until heated through.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Freezer Chicken Curry

Well, my phone is not my preferred blog food camera, but when the main camera's battery is dead, this worked well in a pinch. (And PW's Photoshop Actions saved the photo, too!)

I'm back to whipping up more freezer meals. This time last year, I was 7 months pregnant and freezing as many meals as I could whip up and squeeze into any space in my freezers. This year I don't have the same sense of urgency, (or crazy urgings for pickled jalapenos!) but having meals on hand for busy nights make me feel all sorts of organized and prepared.

So after my last "big" shopping run to Sams Club, I set two whole chickens cooking in my slow cooker (after I removed the breasts and drumsticks and froze them separately), then removed all the cooked meat off. After I returned all the bones and leftover "stuff" (I think the correct term is carcass, but that word freaks me a little) to the slow cooker, I set it to cook away on some chicken broth....that sounds like a lot of work, doesn't it? I didn't feel like it that day, since the slow cooker did the majority of the heavy lifting.

So by the end of the day, I had already prepped the cooked chicken and chicken broth for this recipe, so it was an easy transition to whip up a meal with it!

Overall, this was a great meal, and made 6 BIG servings. We had more than enough for lunches for the rest of the week. As far as freezer meals go, this was one of the lightest prep work I've done in a long time. I also liked it can be frozen in a freezer bag, as it took up a lot less room than a casserole dish.

I steamed some stir fry veggies as our accompaniment, but the original recipe recommends mandarin oranges, banana slices, raisins, dry roasted peanuts, steamed snow peas, pineapple chunks or flaked coconut for topping. I had some leftovers later in the week topped with chopped almonds, and it was a great texture addition. I would highly recommend it!

Since I left out the cayenne pepper to appeal to the masses (i.e. the kiddos, which this dish didn't interest them anyway, who was I kidding?) the grown-ups added Sriracha to our individual plates, and it was a nice kick.

Freezer Bombay Chicken Curry
recipe adapted from the Don't Panic - More Dinner's in the Freezer
Makes 6 servings

1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup flour
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I left out)
3 cups water (I used chicken broth)
2 cup cooked chicken, chopped

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter, then add the onion and garlic. Saute onion and garlic until translucent but not browned. Add flour, curry powder, salt, pepper, ginger and cayenne pepper. Stir to thoroughly combine all the spices. Add the water or broth; simmer for 2 to 3 minutes until sauce is bubbly and slightly thickened. Add the cooked chicken, stir to completely distribute and heat thoroughly. Cool completely. Freezer in a labeled gallon size freezer bag.

To serve, thaw bag completely. (Easiest way is by a 24 hour thaw in the frig) Pour bag contents into a medium saucepan, and heat over medium heat until heated through and bubbly. Serve over rice

Monday, October 17, 2011

Slow Cooker Mexican Beer Chicken

Slow Cooker Mexican Beer Chicken with Mexican Rice

Monday nights are soccer practice, so it has also become our slow cooker night. So far this soccer season I've done spaghetti sauce with chicken sausage warming in the slow cooker and Slow Cooker Sticky Chicken Drumsticks. I'm hoping to re-try some family favorites but try some new slow cooker recipes, too.

I found this recipe lurking in the depth of my "To Try" folder, and I had some random beers hiding in my frig needing to be used. (Let's just say we're not huge drinkers in this house. ) I posted on Creatively Domestic's Facebook page that it felt weird to be cracking open a beer at 10 am.

Once time for dinner came, the chicken shredded up nicely, and the flavor of the chicken in the beer/taco seasoning mix was really good! I was very surprised and pleased.

The original recipe had a can of corn and black beans, but I like to keep things separate. My four year old will eat more if I do it that way, although I served corn on the side. We skipped the tortillas and ate it as taco salads.

Slow Cooker Mexican Beer Chicken
recipe adapted from Baking Serendipity

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts (chicken thighs would work well, too)
1 cup salsa
1 12 oz bottle beer
1 packet taco seasoning (or 3 tablespoons homemade)

Place chicken breasts in the slow cooker. Top with salsa.

Pour beer into a tall glass, and dissolve taco seasoning in beer. (Make sure you use a container that gives you a lot of head room - mine foamed over once I added the taco seasoning!) Pour into slow cooker and cook on low for 8-10 hours. Remove chicken from slow cooker and shred chicken with two forks. Drizzle with a little of the cooking liquid and serve.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Vodka Cream Shrimp with Sweet Red Onion Pasta

I love trying new ingredients, and because she knows that about me, (and doesn't think that it's weird), my mother-in-law bought me some fun pasta from Dakota Earth's line of Artisan Italian pasta.

I wanted to really showcase the pasta, so I made Shrimp with Vodka Cream Pasta and added a can of crushed tomatoes instead of the tomato sauce. What a great dinner with some great pasta!


Monday, October 10, 2011

Make Ahead Weekday Breakfasts

We eat breakfast as a family every morning. It's not usually a long stretched out meal, but we all get to look at each others bright and shining faces (ha!) before my husband skedadles to work. When we decided I would stay home with the kiddos, this was one of the things we agreed to: the start of my "work" day and more family time together.

One way our family eats a hot breakfast everyday but keeps the morning drama low is to make ahead our weekday breakfasts. On Sunday night, usually while I'm cleaning up dinner, I make a half batch of Baked Oatmeal, and a pan of scrambled eggs. Once they are cool, I cut them into individual servings and top each pan with plastic wrap.

The next morning, all we have to do is remove a portion for each person and reheat it in the microwave and we're done with breakfast. Each pan makes enough for 2 breakfasts for our family, so there are 4 days done. That leaves one day where I can make something new or take a helping hand with cold cereal or frozen waffles.

To keep variety alive, some weeks I make hard boiled eggs instead of scrambled. I've also tried new recipes for Baked Oatmeal, or made a large batch of steel cut oats or traditional oats. The whole point is to make it ahead so all it needs is a quick zap in the 'ol microwave.

Baked Scrambled Eggs
makes 6 servings

6 eggs
1/2 cup milk
salt and pepper

Spray a 8x8 inch cooking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Beat eggs with milk, add salt and pepper to taste. Bake for 20 mins in a 350 degree oven or just until eggs are set.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Homemade Flour Tortillas

I made my own flour tortillas after Stumbling onto Clockwork Lemon's recipe and AMAZING progress photos. I'm not even going to try and waste your time with my sub-par progress photos. Check out her great photos (and work of art rolling pin!)

These are the best fresh off the skillet, so if you have the time to make them right before you serve them, do it! If you are in the mood for homemade tortillas, check out my homemade corn tortillas!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Spicy Roasted Chickpeas

This is what happens when you tag-team bake...things get a little more crispy (i.e. burnt!) when there is some confusion about how long the timer was set and who stirred them last.

But, we just ate around the super-crispy ones and still enjoyed some healthy football munching one Saturday afternoon. I splashed on some Chiptole Tabasco, and it really added some smolder. We should have made a double batch, because these disappeared pretty quickly!

I have another recipe for Roasted Chickpeas on this site if you're looking for a snack without the fire!

Spicy Roasted Chickpeas

1 (12 ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons (or more to taste) taco seasoning mix (I used homemade)
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Blot chickpeas with a paper towel to dry them. Combine the chickpeas, olive oil, and seasonings. Bake for 15 minutes, stir, then continue baking 10-20 minutes or until browned and crunchy. Let them completely cool before moving to an airtight container to store.

I'm sharing this at The Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Announcing Creatively Domestic's Freezer Meals ebook

I know most of you are long time readers of this site, but I am venturing into a new medium! My Freezer Meal ebook is now for sale through Amazon for Kindle for $3.99.

This ebook includes 20 easy ways to stock your freezer with a variety of home cooked dishes. Includes many useful ways to save time and energy by having meals ready when you are! Describes how to easily and frugally pack food for the freezer.

This would also be a great thing to get ideas on how to de-stressify your holiday food, as it includes Stuffing and Cream Cheese Mashed Potatoes, along with how to cook Turkey stock with all your leftovers!

Right now it's just in Kindle format, but you can download a Kindle reader for PC or for Mac  if you would like to read it on your computer.

Content includes:
Why Freezer Meals?
What containers should I use?

Main Dishes
Chicken Parmesan
Pepper Lime Dump Chicken
Freezer Sweet and Sour Chicken
Slow Cooker Chicken & Chicken Stock
Meat Spaghetti Sauce
Make Ahead Meatloaf Mix
Slow Cooker Sloppy Joes
Macaroni & Cheese & Ham Casserole
Ham & Poppy Seed Buns

Side Dishes
Freezer Cream Cheese Mashed Potatoes
Freezer Oven Fried Potato Wedges
Hash Brown Casserole
Mexican Rice
Freezer White Rice
Freezer Garlic Bread
Stuffing for the Freezer

Baked Oatmeal
Freezer Pancakes
Egg Casserole Squares or Muffins

Frozen Cookie Dough Balls

Monday, October 3, 2011

Pickle Dogs

These were one of my favorite foods of my childhood. Anything involving pickles ranked pretty high on my list those days. My mom made these many times for potlucks and parties, and I actually talked her into making a ton of these for my Senior Year Pre-Prom BBQ Potluck my friends and I organized. My Junior year prom my friends and I all went fancy, my senior year we chucked it all, went a little low brow and had so much more fun. Who would have thought a post about Pickle Dogs would get into Prom? There's a surprise around every corner here, folks. :)

Pickle Dogs

8 oz cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 jar whole dill pickles
1 pacakge dried beef (my mom always used Buddig) or thinly sliced deli ham
Toothpicks to serve

Spread cream cheese on slice of dried beef or ham, then roll around a pickle. Slice into 1/2 inch slices and discard the ends. Arrange on a platter with toothpicks stuck in the middle for serving.