Monday, January 31, 2011

The Perfect Time for Meat and Potatoes! Pot Roast Two Ways.

A few weeks ago I purchased a 4.5lb pot roast and got some veggies to go with it. I divided it into three sections and first dish I made was crock pot pot roast with my home made French onion soup I also make in batches and freeze
Crock Pot Pot Roast

1 frozen bag of onion soup
1-2lbs pot roast
5 or 6 potatoes quartered
2 carrots cut in 2 inch pieces
2 stalks celery roughly chopped
2 TBSP flour
2 TBSP butter

The rest is a easy as pie. Defrost the frozen soup in a microwave safe bowl. Add to the bottom of the crock pot. Place veggies in bottom of the crock pot Season meat with salt and pepper and add to the pot. Top with the meat and cook on high 4 hours or 8 hours on low. Before serving brown 2 TBSP butter in a sauce pan. Add 2TBSP flour and brown for 1-2 minutes. Add broth from crock pot and stir til bubbly to make a gravy. Serve over the pot roast and potatoes.

Meal number two is also very easy. It's for Chunky Beef Crock pot Tacos.

Chunky Beef Crock pot Tacos
1-2 lbs pot roast meat
1 onion diced
2 potatoes chunked
1 pkg taco seasoning
1 can tomato sauce
1/4 c water
12 flour tortillas
lettuce, tomato, and cheese for garnish

Cut the beef into chunks. On the stove top heat a pan coated with some oil. Dip the chunks into some flour and brown on all sides. Add the browned meat into the crockpot with the taco seasoning, the onion, and water.Cook on high for 5 hours or low for 8. Serve with tortillas and rice.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sunday Soup Day

My oldest daughter has decided she doesn't want to eat red meat anymore and become a vegetarian. Today I made something for her. Easy Pleasy Lentil Soup. I did use beef soup base and she is OK with that.  It did taste just as good omitting the broth and beef soup base.

I don't know when I will be getting to the grocery store this week so once again I am relying on my pantry and freezer. I did not have celery for this recipe but I thought the taste was good.

Easy Pleasy Lentil Soup

1 onion diced
2 TBSP canola oil
2 carrots chopped
2 stalks of celery diced
1 tsp dried oregano (I used Italian seasoning)
1 tsp salt
1 bay leaf
2 diced potatoes(optional)
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes (I used a Mexican blend)
1 package of dried lentils (1lb)
1 can of chopped spinach drained (If using frozen squeeze out liquid)
2 TBSP beef soup base or bullion
2 TBSP vinegar
2 tsp chopped garlic (I use a prepared garlic)
pepper to taste
6 cups chicken broth or water or beef stock if you have on hand

In a large stock pot heat the oil over medium heat adding the onion and stirring for 3 minutes. Add carrots and celery. Continue to brown for an additional 2 minutes. Stir in garlic, bay leaf, and Italian seasoning. Add dried lentils. Add chicken broth or water and diced tomatoes. Stir soup and bring to a boil. Once boiling reduce heat to low and cover for an hour. Season with the tsp of salt.  At the 30 minute mark I also added diced potatoes. About 10 minutes before serving I added the drained spinach, vinegar and  the soup base. Taste for seasoning and lentil doneness. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Saturday Chinese Eat In Instead of Take Out!

I have been back and forth to work this week and haven't been able to blog. We are still on a dinner budget. My bill at the grocery store was $88.11 with $34.83 in coupon savings. Finally I should be back to a normal check. Our budget was stretched due to Xmas holiday and school days off. (My paycheck was cut in half) I am glad though because it gave me a chance to clean out my freezer and pantry.

Some good news this week though. I may be a donor again for someone who needs a stem cell transplant. It will be two years since my last donation in April. If all goes well I will be donating around the same time. So that's even more incentive for me loose some pounds!

I am happy to report we are down to 18lbs of rice lol! I have been trying to make something with rice at least 2-3 times a week.

Today it was Chicken, Broccoli and Sugar Snap Peas in Hosin sauce. Dessert is a new recipe I saw on a new series on the Cooking Channel named "Hungry Girl." It's for Yum Yum Brownie Muffins. They were awesome!

First the Chicken Broccoli and Sugar Snap Peas

3 heads of broccoli cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 package sugar snap peas frozen
1 cup chicken broth
2 TBSP cornstarch dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts chopped into 1 in pieces
1/2 onion diced
1/4 c Hosin Sauce
2 TBSP soy sauce
2 TBSP canola oil

Brown chicken over medium heat in the oil until no longer pink. Add onion and saute with the chicken for 2 minutes or so. Add chicken broth and soy sauce. Place broccoli over the chicken and cover with lid for 3-5 minutes until broccoli becomes tender. Stir in frozen snap peas. Take Hosin sauce and combine with dissolved cornstarch and warm water mixture. Add slowly to chicken broth in pan. Let come to a boil and remove from heat. Serve over white rice and top with chow mein noodles.

This is a easy very tasty and low cal idea I saw on TV last weekend.

Yum Yum Brownies from Hungry Girl on the Cooking Channel
1 box Devils food cake mix
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin pie puree'

Set oven to 400 degrees. Pour cake mix into a bowl and add pumpkin puree. DO NOT add eggs nor oil. I used a electric mixer and the batter came together quickly. I also used a ice cream scoop to divide the mixture into 12 muffin tins. Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out dry. Allow to cool and serve with berries. I had mine with a dollop of fat free cool whip.
1 muffin is 181 calories, 3.5g fat 37g carbs, and 2g fiber.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Who Ya Calling Chicken?

We are crazy about chicken here! Not only is it economical, it's tasty and versatile. I have made crock pot meals three times this week. We usually go through a 3lb bag of boneless skinless chicken breasts a week. Last night I made this recipe I got off one of those Catalina coupons that you get at the register. It's for Pace orange picante chicken.

1 Tbsp veggie oil (omit if using crock pot)
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (or one per person)
2 cloves garlic
3/4 c Pace Picante sauce
2/4 c OJ
1 TBSP brown sugar
1 cup regular long grain rice prepared to package directions (makes about 3 cups)

Stove top directions
Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add chicken and cook 10 minutes or until well browned on both sides. Remove chicken from the skillet and reduce heat to medium. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Stir the picante sauce, OJ, and brown sugar and heat to a boil. Return the chicken to the skillet . Reduce heat to  low and cover an cook for 5 minutes. Or until the chicken is cooked through. Serve the chicken with the sauce over rice.

I placed everything in the crock pot and let it go on high for 4 hours. It was finished when I got home. My only disappointment is I didn't prepare more chicken breasts. The brand we got really shrunk up.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Here's the Plan for This Week

I went shopping today and got a whole bunch of stuff for free! When you bought the pot roast which was a 4 pounder, you got potatoes, celery, and carrots for free. I cut the roast up and now I have enough for three different meals. I also got free orange juice when I bought 5 Quaker cereal items at $2/each. I ended up spending about $85 and saving $35 in coupons.

Here's some of what I will be making this week. I have been doing Weight Watchers on my own. I have done it a few times so I have all the info.

Last night I made a Mediterranean Chickpea stew with Chicken tonight Pot Roast with my homemade French Onion soup I freeze
salsa chicken quesidillas with homemade Spanish rice
Greek style Nachos (from my Weight Watchers cook book)
Progresso soups for lunch
Imitation crab salads stuffed in Pitas for lunch
Pita pizzas for lunch
home made mac and cheese
turkey burgers with homemade fries
blue cheese stuffed chicken breast with potato

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Trying Bitchin Kitchen Recipe Tonight

I love the new show "Bitchin Kitchen" on the Cooking Channel. It reminds me a bit of "Pee-wee's Playhouse"  meets the "Sopranos." One of the recipes the other day caught my eye. My daughter wants to become a vegetarian but I am not giving up meat so we made a compromise. She will eat chicken and fish just no beef. I am making a Mediterranean Chick Pea Stew with Chicken.

Here is the recipe via the


  • 1 whole head garlic, unpeeled
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Pinch freshly ground black pepper and sea salt
  • 2 sweet red bell peppers, seeded and julienned
  • 1 red finger hot chile pepper, seeded and minced*  I used half of a jalapeno julienned and diced thinly
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 2 (28-ounce or 796 ml) cans whole, peeled, organic tomatoes, hand crushed
  • Pinch brown sugar
  • 3 cups canned chick peas, rinsed and drained
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 10 large fresh mint leaves, stacked, rolled up and sliced into ribbons (chiffonade) (I omitted this)
  • Handful fresh parsley, leaves picked and minced
  • *Cook's Note: Hot chile, omit if sensitive or prefer less heat.
  • Whole-wheat pitas, cut into wedges and toasted, for serving
I roasted the garlic as noted the night before and squeezed it out today. I should smell wonderful for my co-workers! I julienned the red pepper and scallions and browned them in the oven. I added the tomatoes first to the crock pot, the seasonings, and garlic. On top of that I added the frozen chicken breasts. I have to go to work for 4 hours. When I come home I plan on adding the chick peas and making some couscous. It takes only a few minutes. I will post pictures on how it comes out! I omitted the mint because I could not find fresh mint.

Here's how mine looked and it was pretty filling!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sunday Soup Day

I work in a school and we have off Monday for MLK day (yippee!)  I started following Weight Watchers this week. I have done it so many times in the past I pretty much have points memorized. Today I am making a huge batch of Weight Watchers veggie soup. It can be used to stave hunger. I had a pretty good breakfast this morning biscuits and sausage gravy so I am going to try to stick to a low point lunch and moderate dinner.  Here's what my soup looks like.

Weight Watcher Veggie Soup from a Veggie Venture


Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Time to table: 1 1/4 hour
Makes 9 cups

6 cups broth (today I used Light Vegetable Stock) note: I used chicken stock

Cooking spray
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 large onion, diced
4 teaspoons garlic (from a jar or substitute four cloves minced garlic)
1/2 cabbage, chopped (or use a bag of slaw, the biggest chunks you can find vs the fine, don't skip the cabbage for it somehow makes the soup)
1/2 pound frozen green beans
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 large zucchini, diced

(I also added a squash, 1 small can of diced tomatoes, and some chicken soup base)

Bring the broth to a boil in the microwave. (This is a time-saving tip that can be skipped if there's no hurry.)

Spray a Dutch oven with cooking spray and heat on MEDIUM HIGH. Add the carrots, onion and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes. Add all the remaining ingredients EXCEPT the zucchini and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to MEDIUM and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the beans are tender. Add the zucchini and cook until the zucchini are tender. Serve and enjoy!

I also bought some Slimfast Shakes and bars. There was a special for buy 2 get one free at the grocery store. The bars are much improved over what they used to taste like. Also I had some WW ice cream bars but once the family found them they were gone. However they didn't find my stash of Nabisco 100 calorie snacks!

For dinner tonight I am going to grill some chicken and make tortilla bowl salads. I might forgo the tortilla bowls if they are too high in points.

Each person puts on their own salad dressing. I am going for a lite version.

Here's what I put in my salad
1 can rinsed black beans
1 tomato chopped
1/2 cup frozen corn thawed
1 avocado chopped
1 chicken breast per person

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Lite and Easy Shrimp with Sugar Snap Peas

I started dieting on Wednesday. I had intended going to Weight Watchers but I mixed up the meeting days and missed it completely. That didn't detour me from starting my diet however. I will weigh myself next week and post the results if any. I am working on portion control. I have been eating off a smaller plate for a few years now but went to fill it up twice. Now I am trying measuring out portions and nixing the seconds.

This week I made buffalo chicken sloppy joes and tonight it was shrimp and snap peas over rice.

                                          Shrimp with Sugar Snap Peas
1/2 onion diced
2 carrots cut into circles
1/4 cup white wine
1 c chicken stock
1 bag frozen shrimp thawed (I am using precooked and removed the tails)
1/2 bag frozen sugar snap peas
2 tsp cornstarch
4 TBSP soy sauce (more to taste) reserve 2 TBSP
1 tsp grated ginger
2 tsp oil
1/4 cup warm water

prepared white rice (I use Riceland long grain rice)

serves 4.

In a small bowl mix cornstarch and warm water until dissolved. Add 2TBSP soy sauce.
In a frying pan add onions and carrots to heated oil. Stir until onions are translucent. Add wine and cook down for about 2-3 minutes. Add chicken stock and snap peas and warm through about 2 minutes. Add grated ginger and shrimp. Add remaining soy sauce.  Heat through another 2-3 minutes and serve over white  rice.

For my diet I had 1 c. rice and 1/2 c veggies and shrimp.

Monday, January 10, 2011

One of our Crockpot Favorite Soups

I adapted this recipe I found in my new "American Test Kitchen" cook book. I use a crock pot. It is a very easy soup to make and hot and waiting when you get home from work or play.

2 bone in chicken breasts (I like how it adds flavor to the soup)
2 chilies in adobo sauce (I take the can and separate out the chilies into bags of two)
1 can diced tomatoes
1 onion (I like it whole)
2 TBSP chicken soup base (found in the soup section of the grocery)
3 cups chicken broth
cilantro for garnish
avocado for garnish
tortilla chips for garnish

Add all ingredients except for chicken soup base. Cover with lid. Cook for 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high. Remove chicken. Discard skin and shred with two forks. Put back in soup. Add soup base and add water to bring the level of the soup to almost the top of the crock pot.

 I serve my family of 4 and then add a few more cups of water keeping the crock pot on so it warms up. Garnish with cilantro, avocado, sour cream (this brings down the hotness,) and tortilla chips crunched on top.

Tip: You may reduce the amount of chilies in adobo to your liking. Be sure to wash your hands before touching your eyes or face.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

"Easy Breakfast or Maybe Not!"

The plan this A.M. was to attempt poached eggs. Sandra Lee on "Semi-Homemade" made it look so easy. I dumped the eggs in the water and they separated all over. I was able to save one of them. The other too looked like yolks with a little white hanging on for life. We still ate them and they were good just not pretty.

At the same time I wanted to make something I am good at,  "Dirty Sausage gravy over biscuits."I fell in love with biscuits and gravy down at Disney. Sometimes I make this a breakfast for dinner meal. It's very filling and is served over store bought biscuits.(to save time)

1/2 Jimmy Dean sausage in the tube with Sage
1/4 flour
2 TBSP butter
1 tube biscuits (I prefer Grands)
2 c. Milk
Monterrey Steak seasoning (1tsp) (optional)
or Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 or as to your package directions.
Brown 1/2 of the sausage in a frying pan. If not using a non stick pan add 2TBSP olive oil. Remove to a plate. Place biscuits in the oven and set timer to take them out.  In the same pan add butter and flour and scrape off the brown bits stuck to the pan. Brown flour about 2 minutes. Add milk whisking it in with the flour. Add the sausage back in. Continue to stir the gravy for about 3 minutes until thickened. Serve over browned biscuits.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Couldn't Decide What I Wanted Tonight...

I was originally going to make burritos tonight but ended up making beef enchiladas instead with unfried black beans. On Saturday's I usually loose my tween daughter to her friend. More often than not I find myself cooking for the three of us than four. (I took one out before I snapped the picture)

Here's how I made the enchiladas.

1 can of tomato sauce
2 tsp chili powder (I prefer the Mexican hotter kind)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 c. water
a few dashes hot sauce

1-2 lbs ground beef  browned and fat drained off
1 packet of  taco seasoning (reserving two teaspoons for the black bean recipe below)
1/4 c water
sliced black olives (optional)

9 flour tortillas (you may use corn for a different flavor)
1 cup taco cheese (reserve 1/2 for topping)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Start sauce in the sauce pan adding all the above ingredients from the tomato sauce through the hot sauce. Heat on medium heat until ingredients are blended together. Taste to see if you need more of the spices.

Take browned meat and add 1/4 cup of the enchilada sauce to it and black olives. Ladle 1/2 c. of the sauce onto the bottom of a baking dish. Take each tortilla and lay in the sauce in dish add 2TBSPS of the meat and a pinch of cheese to each enchilada. Roll and put seam side down in the dish one after the other to keep them from unrolling.

I have a daughter whom doesn't like ground beef so I  make her a cheese one and put it laying the opposite way. Take the remaining sauce and ladle it over the enchiladas. Use the reserved cheese to top the enchiladas. Bake for 25 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve with sour cream and avocado.

Unfried Black Beans

1/2 onion diced
1 can of black beans drained
1/2 c chicken stock
2 tsp of taco seasoning
salt and pepper to taste

This recipe is very easy!  Sautee' the onion in 2 TBS olive oil until translucent. Add the drained beans and chicken stock. Mix in the taco seasoning. Bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and use a old fashioned potato masher or a pastry cutter to squash some of the black beans. Leave some of them whole. If the mixture is too thick you may add more chicken stock. Check for salt and pepper. The beans will thicken up upon standing.

Friday, January 7, 2011

"Thank God It's Friday!"

I have been living off my freezer this week partly out of necessity and partly because I could not get in my freezer. Every time I opened it I would have a bag of frozen broth (which is like a brick of ice) fall onto my foot.

I scavenged my freezer and pantry for the week. These are some of the meals we ate:
shrimp and chicken etouffee with Andoulle sausage
pork chops and mashed potatoes
cumin chicken breasts and Birdseye rice
pork chopsuey in the crock pot

 Today was my shopping day. Our budget was $100.00 and I ended up spending $108.00. It kills me that we didn't go on double coupon day but I still saved $24.00 in manufacturer coupons.

This is the plan for the week:
crock pot BBQ spareribs and potato
steak, mushroom, and cheese french dip subs
arroz con polo (Sunday meal)
black bean and beef burritos with Spanish rice
Shlamfooey..(recipe to follow)

The name Shlamfooey my Mom made up. I am not sure why lol! But it's a easy recipe to put together when you are in a hurry.

1 small can Campbell's tomato soup
1/2 bag cooked wide egg noodles
1 can corn drained
1 lb ground beef browned
salt and pepper to taste

Brown the ground beef. Salt and drain fat off along the way. When browned add to cooked egg noodles and can of corn. Stir in the can of tomato soup. Add salt and pepper. And that's it. It's very easy.

Sunday Dinner Arroz con Polo with gandules

I purchased a fryer chicken that has already been taken apart. I freeze the breasts and will be using them for chicken chipotle soup. The rest I use in the Arroz con Polo. I do not use the breasts because they also take longer to cook.  Both the achote seeds and Adobo can be found in the Mexican section of your supermarket.
4 chicken thighs
2 chicken drumsticks
2 chicken wings
2 cups long grain rice         
4 cups chicken stock
2 TBSP tomato paste
1 TBSP capers
2 turns of olive oil
1/4 c olives chopped
Adobo seasoning
flour for dredging
1 tsp achote seeds (may be omitted)
1 large onion diced

In a separate pan take achote seeds and brown them in olive oil for about 2 minutes. The seeds should not burn or it will leave a burnt flavor to your oil. Remove seeds with a spoon.  Add oil to the stock pot.

Coat a large stock pot with the olive oil and bring the heat up until the oil is shimmering. Dredge the chicken in flour.  Season with Adobo seasoning or salt and pepper. Place chicken in pot skin side down. Brown on both sides about 4 minutes each. Remove from pot. Brown onion until translucent scraping the bits of chicken off the bottom of the pot. Add 2 cups of long grain rice and stir til golden brown.  Add chicken stock, tomato paste, and capers. Bring to a boil. When to a boil add chicken back into the pot reduce heat and cover with lid. Do not peek. Simmer on low for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes take off lid and add drained gandules. Serve and enjoy!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Frugal With a Capital "F" French Onion Soup

In these tough economic times who isn't trying to make their dollar stretch?  I am trying this week to live off my pantry and freezer. We will not be going hungry by any means. Some staples I always keep on hand are beans (canned black beans, lentils,) chicken stock, rice, potatoes, pasta like spaghetti noodles and wide egg noodles. In my freezer I always have a bag of boneless skinless chicken breast, (we use one at least a week) frozen hamburger I've divided into one pound bags, bread which I buy and freeze.

If I don't use chicken stock in the fridge within a week I measure it out into one cup servings and freeze it in a Ziploc bag. Then I just pull it out when I need it. I also freeze spaghetti sauces the same way. Couscous is also something I like to keep on hand. A little goes a long way.

Budget stretchers like soup are also a staple in my house. With the Christmas ham I made split pea soup and scalloped potatoes. I try to make soup at least once a week.

Staying within our budget takes a small bit of planning. I sit down every Sunday and make out my list. I ask the family if they want anything special. Then I look at the store coupons and flyers and make my list. I am a Food TV junkie so I may find a a recipe or two I want to make throughout the week.

This is another soup that has become our family favorite.

Chicken Chipotle Soup (adapted from an Americas Test Kitchen Recipe) I  make it from memory now.

2 bone in chicken breasts
2  Chipotle chilies in adobo sauce chopped (these can be HOT so you can use more or less if you like)
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup water
1 can of diced tomatoes drained
1 whole onion
bunch of cilantro chopped for topping
2 avocados chopped for topping
tortilla chips for topping
2-3 Tbsp Soup base
sour cream for topping

I make this in the crock pot because I work late and have to get a dinner out in 30 minutes or less.
In a crock pot add water, chicken, diced tomatoes, onion and put on low for 8 hrs or 4 hrs. on high. When chicken is falling off the bone take out and shred with two forks. Add soup base and chicken back to crock pot. Taste for seasoning. Serve with crumpled tortilla chips, avocado and sour cream.  The sour cream takes down the heat of the chipotles.

You can also make your own tortilla chips by heating the oven to 425. Cut about 10 corn tortillas into strips with a knife. Spray a cookie sheet with Pam and spread out tortillas making sure they are seperated. Spray with Pam and season with salt or Adobo seasoning. Bake for 8-10 minutes turning once until crispy.

This French Onion Soup is something I freeze and use in recipes like crock pot pot roast, french dip steak sandwiches, or eat it as a soup again.

French Onion Soup

6-8 onions chopped
1/2 cup white wine
4 cups water
2 cups beef stock
2-3 TBSP beef soup base or bullion
2 TBSP flour
2 TBSP butter
2 TBSP olive oil
Salt and pepper 1 tsp.
Slices of Havarti or provolone cheese
crusty french bread

In a stock pot sautee' onions until they become translucent in the olive oil and butter. Add salt and pepper. Sprinkle the flour over the onions and stir browning for about 2-3 minutes. Add white wine and simmer another 2-3 minutes. Add water and stock and beef soup base or bullion. Cook over medium heat for approx. 30 minutes. Serve with a piece of provolone on top. You can stick it in the broiler but we like how the cheese melts in the soup.

We really like this with steak subs. We use chopped sandwich steak, chopped mushrooms, onions, and green peppers. Brown the steak and put into sliced french bread top with cheese and put under the broiler. They are perfect for dipping into the soup.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Miracle of Self-Rising Flour

For pancakes and dumplings I used Bisquick for the longest time. Until I discovered self-rising flour. I bought some to make some cheddar drop biscuits like you get at Red Lobster. Then I had this huge bag of flour to use.

Cheddar Biscuits
1 c. self-rising flour
1/2 c cheddar
1/2 cup milk (you may need to add more depending on consistency)
2 Tbsp Mayo

Mix batter until combined. Add cheese and mayo and incorporate mixing a few times. Place tablespoon sized biscuits on a greased cookie sheet. (or in a muffin tin)
bake at 425 for 17-20 minutes.

Since it's cold here in Wisconsin there is nothing better than coming home to some good old fashioned Chicken Dumpling soup. My Grandmother was such a good cook. She would let me be in the kitchen with her but never passed on her recipes to me. Over the years through trial and error I developed my own soup recipes. One ingredient I use a lot is this soup base pictured below. I use it in soups and sometimes even rice, also to make quick chicken gravies.

Grandma's Chicken Dumpling Soup

2 carrots chopped into circles
2 celery stalks sliced down the middle and chopped
1 whole onion (I love onions but my family hates them so it's cooks treat)
2 Quarts water
1 large container of Swanson's chicken broth
1 tsp salt
2 bone in chicken breasts or two boneless ones if you have them
2 TBSP chicken soup base
1 tsp dried thyme and oregano

2 cups self-rising flour
1 cup milk
3 TBSP chicken fat (if you ever fry off chicken in a pan save some of the fat and freeze it in a Ziploc)
(note: I have made them without the chicken fat and they taste yummy too)

In a large stock pot boil water, thyme, oregano, chicken stock, onion, celery, and bone in chicken breasts for 1/2 or 1 hour til chicken is falling off the bone and no longer pink. Remove chicken and bones and separate. Add carrots and soup base and salt.  You can add more of the soup base to taste. Continue simmering on medium heat until carrots are fork tender (approx. 10-15 minutes) You may also add diced potatoes at this time if you wish.  If you are using bone in chicken you may have to skim fat off the top of your soup several times. If using boneless chicken breasts dice into large cubes and add back to pot.

Prepare dumplings by adding the self-rising flour, milk, and chicken fat if you have it. Mix til combined. Drop tablespoon sized spoonfuls of the dumplings on top of the soup. It should make around 20 dumplings. Cover pot with a lid. (No peeking) Let dumplings cook for 15 minutes.

Note: I have also made this in a crock pot. You just combine all the ingredients except for the soup base. May be cooked on low for 8 hours or high for 4. Remove the chicken and dice and add the chicken soup base. You have to make the dumplings in this case on the stovetop removing some of the stock from the soup following the same method as the normal soup but you can eat in 15 minutes. Serve.

Uncover soup and test one of the dumplings to make sure they are light and fluffy on the inside. Fight with your family over the dumplings like we do and enjoy!

Also on the agenda today is something my Diser friends will like. I know Christmas is over but my hubby found me some Mickey Gingerbread Snowmen cookie cutouts on clearnace at Walgreens. I am going to make them with a Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade recipe for gingerbread. I will post how they turn out.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

"Hey Good Lookin', Whatcha Got Cookin?"

Just like cleaning off my desk, I've been meaning to create a food blog for some time. I am obsessed with the Food Network and the Cooking Channel. I love shows like "Bitchin' Kitchen: and "Aarti Party."

My food magazines fall all over the floor when you open my cabinet. I am always searching for economical family friendly foods but I have taught both my girls to try new foods at least once before deciding not to like them.

I am one of those Disney obsessed people as well. I am able to combine my love of food with travel when I go on a Disney Cruise. I will be posting some of my pictures of those later.

Each Sunday I sit down with the newspaper coupon section and decide what my menu is going to be. I am not shopping this week instead of living off of what is in my freezer and in the pantry. My food budget for a typical week is about $100-130 tops for the week for a family of 4. I try to use as many coupons as the store will alow and am not brand loyal. (Although there are a few things I will not eat generic.) Here is one of my budget finds. Here is enough rice to feed a small village. I imagine this lasting me for a whole year! Still about 19 1/2 lbs left to use lol!

My husband is a new lifelong diabetic so the search is also on for hubby friendly meals. We don't eat a lot of processed foods so the transition wasn't that hard. I have also made the resolution to start Weight Watchers because I need some help sheding a few pounds before our next vacation.
So, you are welcome to join me on my journey...

This is what I made tonight:  Chicken and Shirmp Etouffee with Andoullie Sausage over rice.

I originally got the recipe from one of my magazines and have been making it ever since.
Here is the recipe:
1/4 c flour
1/4 c oil
2 stalks celery diced
1 onion diced
1 green pepper diced
2 TBSPS  tomato paste
3 andoullie sausages sliced
2 boneless chicken breasts cubed
2 cups chicken stock
Franks Red hot Sauce to taste
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper 1/4 tsp.

Put oil in a pan and heat on medium heat til shimmering. Add flour and wisk until a light brown color. Add celery, onion and green pepper cooking for 4-5 minutes stiring as to not burn the mixture. Season with 1/4 tsp salt and pepper.  Add tomato paste and sausages browning for 2 minutes. Add chicken broth and bay leaf and simmer mixture for 5-6 minutes stiring to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan. Add boneless chicken breast. Cook for 5-6 minutes until cooked though and no longer pink. Lastly add shrimp and cook for another 2-3 minutes until shrimp are pink and cooked through. Serve over white rice.