Friday, March 30, 2012

Bistro Chicken

Bistro Chicken with Oriental Cabbage Salad and Oven Fried Potato Wedges
I'm almost through the 40 pounds of chicken I bought in Januray, and I hate to admit that I had gotten into a bit of the "boneless skinless breast" rut. I was lookin' for some variety!

This had some new flavors my family isn't used to, so I was bit nervous about it - the French Onion soup was issue #1, but after it was served, no one protested!

I'd like to try this as a freezer meal the next time I make it - by freezing the whole pan before baking with the swiss cheese slices on top, this might make the dinnertime prep a little easier on me!

The grown-ups really enjoyed this recipe. I think my sons enjoyed the slices of swiss cheese snuck before dinner from the chef better, but each ate a few bites of the chicken without complaining.

Bistro Chicken
recipe adapted from This Week for Dinner

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I did two, but the amount of sauce could handle probably four)
1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onions

14-oz can diced tomatoes (I get petite diced)

1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 can French Onion soup

Swiss cheese, sliced

Cut chicken breasts into thirds and pound them thin before browning. Brown the chicken breasts in a medium-high skillet in oil or butter. Remove and place in casserole dish.

Cook onions in skillet for 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, Italian seasoning, french onion soup and cook together to reduce liquid for 5 minutes. Pour sauce over chicken in the casserole dish, top with Swiss cheese.

Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Homesteader Cornbread

Homesteader Cornbread with Slow Cooker Baked Beans and Sauteed Cabbage
The original recipe of this was found in the Cookbook, which I found at my library. When I looked the recipe up online, the only difference I could see between them was the change from an 8 x 8 inch pan to a 9 x 13 inch pan. That's a big difference!

I decided to use the recipe from the coobkook, and used a 8 x 8 inch pan. It made some mile-high cornbread! The pieces were so huge, my family only ate about half of the 8 x 8 pan. The leftovers got turned into Cornbread Dressing for another meal later in the week.

But the cornbread itself was moist, just enough "corny" without being gritty, and my new favorite cornbread recipe! My husband isn't a huge fan of cornbread, but he really enjoyed this recipe. I think one piece of this cornbread constituted as my four year old's whole dinner.

Next time I will probably use the 9 x 13 inch pan for the regular recipe or make a half recipe for a 8 x 8 pan.

Homesteader Cornbread
recipe adapted from

1 1/2 cups cornmeal
2 1/2 cups milk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). In a small bowl, combine cornmeal and milk; let stand for 5 minutes. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Mix in the cornmeal mixture, eggs and oil until smooth. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of the cornbread comes out clean.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Wacky Cake (Dairy & Egg free!)

This dessert is mixed in the same pan that it's baked in. Do you know what that means? Minimal dishes.  Yeah for the Chief Dishwasher in our house (ahem...ME!)

Sometimes desserts in our house take over the kitchen...making cookies with a four year old cover almost every available counter, so this was a welcome change!  Because the prep is mostly stirring, it's an easy cake for kiddos to help whip up.

My husband was out of town on business for a few days, so my son and I made this together in the afternoon as an activity. And we both had two big pieces after dinner...and then maybe I snuck another after both boys were in bed. The cake is very dense and moist, and it was a fun distraction to keep everyone occupied when Daddy was gone. (Plus there was no one there to see how much cake I actually ate...if no one sees it, it didn't really happen, right?)

There are no eggs or dairy in this cake, so if that is an issue in your house, this might be worth a try. In my house, this is a pantry-raid dessert for when I don't want to run to the grocery store!

Wacky Cake
recipe adapted from
Serves 6 to 8

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup natural cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup water
Powdered sugar, for dusting

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat 8-inch-square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Whisk flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt together in pan. Make 1 large and 2 small craters in dry ingredients. Add oil to large crater and vinegar and vanilla separately to remaining small craters. Pour water into pan and mix until just a few streaks of flour remain. Use a rubber spatula to spread the batter evenly in the pan if it isn't level after mixing. Immediately put pan in oven.

Bake until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 23-25 minutes. Don't overbake or the cake will be dry! Cool the cake in pan, then dust with confectioners’ sugar. The cooled cake can be stored tightly covered in plastic wrap for 2-3 days.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Have you ever had one of those days?

When you turn on the wrong burner and start your Tupperware on FIRE!?!?

Thankfully, the bowl holding my Corn and Black Eye Pea Salsa never melted and a part of our lunch was saved...but the melting plastic smell stuck around for a few hours. And now I'm down one of my favorite Tupperware bowls! Oh well!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Pizza Casserole (Freezer Friendly)

Pizza Casserole with Roasted Green Beans
What could be more kid (and honestly, adult) friendly than Pizza? Put it in a casserole, and now we're appealing to the masses.

My husband commented three times about how great it smelled while it was baking. The kiddos were ambivalent about this, which is a good thing, because while they were deciding if they liked it, they just kept eating. Both the grownups ate well, and there wasn't much leftover!

Reminded me of my childhood Pizza Casserole, but a ton easier to make and a lot easier to eat!

I made two 8x8 inch pans, and froze one for another night. The frozen pan turned out just as well, so I feel comfortable making this into a freezer meal!

Pizza Casserole
recipe adapted from For Mamas

16 oz bag egg noodles
45 oz jar (extra large size) spaghetti sauce
3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 pound ground beef
3 oz pepperonis (half a 6 oz package)

Brown the ground beef and drain. Boil the noodles according to package directions and drain.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spray a 9x13 inch pan with nonstick cooking spray. Make a thin layer of spaghetti sauce in the bottom on the pan. Spread half of the noodles, half the beef, half of the sauce, and the remainder of the noodles. Next top with half of the cheese, remainder of the beef, the remainder of the sauce, top it off with the remainder of the cheese. Now arrange the pepperonis on top.

Cover with foil, bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, and bake for another 15 minutes.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Slow Cooker BBQ Coke Pork

Here's another Pinterest recipe that I've seen all over my friend's boards. While I am still on my "one-Coca-cola-a-day" addiction, which I've had a hard time shaking, using Coke as an ingredient as never appealed to me. But this recipe has changed my mind!

The original recipe calls for Sweet Baby Rays barbecue sauce, and while I really like that sauce, I used my CHEAP barbecue sauce that I got for 10 cents or something ridiculous with coupons. Cheap works in this! But use whatever your family prefers.

The proprtions of this are not set in stone, and it's very forgiving. I've made this three times, and one time I skimped on the Coke, because, well, it was my last Coke in the house...and I wanted to drink it! Even with the reduced amount of soda, it still had a sweet undertone that makes this pretty addictive.

We ate this on its own, not on sandwiches, and it was really good...let's just say this: both the grown-ups and kiddos ate this. Shut the door. End of post. And THAT is why you should make this!

Slow Cooker Barbecue Coke Pork
recipe adapted from Ally's Sweet and Savory Eats

Pork butt (Use whatever size needed for your family between 1 to 2.5 lb)
Seasoning Salt (not pictured)
1 can Coke (or Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, Root Bear...pick your pleasure!)
1/2 bottle barbecue sauce

Generally coat pork butt with Lawry's seasoning salt. Place in crock pot and pour in soda and barbecue sauce. Cover and cook on Low for 4-5 hours. After 4 hours or so, take two forks and shred the meat into bite size chunks. Let it sit in the juice to soak up all that flavor. It can stay on Warm in the slow cooker while serving, and can easily be reheated the next day. Serve on sandwich rolls or plain. Can add more barbecue sauce if needed.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Slow Cooker Cheesy Chicken & Yellow Rice

Who hasn't seen this recipe floating around on Pinterest? I feel like at least half the people I follow have pinned the original recipe of this in the past week.

I love my slow cooker. I really do. But I have a love/hate relationship with "Crockpot Food"...The one-pot concoctions where the chicken is so shredded, then combined with corn or black beans, seasoned with an envelope of taco seasoning or dry ranch mix. But it makes a quick, edible meal. This recipe for Cheesy Chicken and Yellow Rice falls onto my list of "Crockpot Food" works, but it ain't pretty.

The original recipe calls for Zatarain's Yellow Rice, but we are big fans of Vigo Yellow rice in our house! My husband eats anything containing that yellow rice like it's going out of style.

This makes a big meal. And I was the only one willing to eat them for leftovers. That means I ate them for lunch for days and days. One of my informal stay-at-home-mom job responsibilities is to make sure all the leftovers get eaten (i.e., no food gets wasted) sometimes I take one for the team and eat the same thing for the majority of the week. Not the end of the world, but I was happy see a PB&J by the end of the week!

Slow Cooker Cheesy Chicken & Yellow Rice
recipe from Southern Plate

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 large onion, chopped
1 - 10.5 ounce can cream of chicken soup
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1 -15 ounce can whole kernel corn, drained
1 - 8 ounce box yellow rice mix, cooked according to directions

Place chicken in bottom of slow cooker. Place chopped onion on top of chicken. Spoon soup over top. Cover and cook on low 7-8 hours or on high 3-4 hours. 10-15 minutes before serving, add in cooked rice, corn, and cheese. Stir to combine. Serve hot.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Slow Cooker Baked Beans

This recipe is half on the stovetop, half in the slow cooker. Is that slow cooker cheating? Hmmm. At least it saves me from having to run my oven for 3 hours at 300 degrees.

The introduction from the original cookbook explains why the beans have to be thoroughly cooked and tender before adding the sauce ingredients because the beans will soften no further after the addition of acidic flavorings (ketchup, coffee). Maybe this is why my previous attempts over the years have all been disappointing. I love it when I learn new things!

These would be really good for a potluck or BBQ, and not sickening sweet with a slight tinny aftertaste that most canned baked beans seem to have. These taste homemade!

As you can see in the photos below, I threw a bay leaf in the first cooking, but the sauce overtook the flavor, so I wouldn't bother with it the next time.

I cut the ground ginger in half from the original recipe, and still felt there was a very strong ginger taste. So if you aren't a fan of ginger, reduce it even more from 1 teaspoon.

Slow Cooker Baked Beans
recipe adapted from Recipes from the Root Cellar
Serves 6

2 cups dried navy or pea beans, soaked overnight and drained (I used pinto because that's what I had!)
8 cups water
1 large onion, diced
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup brewed coffee
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1 teaspoon ground ginger

Combine the beans with water in a large pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, partially covered, until just tender, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Dump the whole pot (beans and water) into slow cooker. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.

Cover and cook on High for 4 hours. Check the beans occasionally and add hot water if necessary or if the beans seem to be too soupy, remove the cover and let them cook for 30 minutes or until sauce is slightly reduced.

Serve hot.