Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New cookbook....

Guess who got a new cookbook for Christmas! It's nice and thick and full of words I actually recognize--both positive signs.

In keeping with tradition, I want to try them out before I post them here, so it'll be at least another week. Still, keep your eyes open for new stuff, and in the meantime, feel free to email me with your favorite recipes! I know you all have at least one "fall back" recipe...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Who likes Eggnog???

So, I'm married to the unofficial Eggnog King of the Universe. Since we're cutting costs this year, we haven't bought eggnog (or eggnog ice cream...), but I knew he couldn't make it through finals week with his head on straight without it.

Here's what we came up with, and it's expert approved.

Homemade Eggnog

6 eggs
3 cups milk
8 tablespoons sugar
3 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, ground

In a large bowl, beat the eggs using an electric beater. Alternate adding milk & sugar,
Continue beating until mixture thickens slightly.
Add in the vanilla essence & ground nutmeg.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled (at least 3 hours).

I actually whipped it up in a plastic pitcher using our handheld mixer with the wisk attachment.

Serves: 8 (or one Eggnog-loving husband)

Amazing Crockpotter!

As I wandering around the internet this weekend, I stumbled upon a wonderful lady who made a 2008 New Year's Resolution to cook something different in her crockpot every day for an entire year. Luckily for the rest of us, she decided to blog the whole thing!

With her permission, I plan to post some of these recipes here, but for now, please check it out! There is a handy alphabetical list of all the recipes she's made so far, as well as a search by category feature. There's something for everyone here--she even makes holiday soaps with her kids in her crockpot!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

More guest recipes! Homemade perogies

Pagachi (like homemade perogies)

1 pkg instant potatoes (the cheesy kind is best!)
1 pkg biscuits

Prepared potatoes, let them cool to room temp. Roll biscuits out flat on a floured surface until they about 6 inches in diameter. Add 2-3 spoonfuls of potatoes into each of the big flat biscuits and fold them closed. (they'll be a half moon shape.. like a perogie)
pinch edges closed and brush with butter, back at 375 for ~ 20 min.
Great with stew or chilli, also you can add chicken or cheese or whatever and make them a total meal on the go type of food. They even refrigerate--just wait to brush the butter on until right before baking.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

More guest recipes--Nebraska Steak and BBQ Sauce

Nebraska Style Steak

Use tenderized round steak, big round steak, or cube steaks (enough for your family)
Brown Steak after flouring
add 1 can of cream of celery soup
1/2 can of water
1 small onion diced
Let simmer for about an hour or until tender.

Make mashed potatoes to use with the gravy that the soup makes.

This is very good and you can make a lot and then freeze for later. Its
always good even after frozen.

Homemade BBQ Sauce

2 tsp salt 1/2 c water
1/2 c chopped onion 1 garlic (optional)
18 oz tomato paste 1 c ketchup
3/4 c brown sugar 1/2 c vinegar (+ or-)
2 T prepared mustard

Great to pour over any meat in a crockpot all day or season veggies!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Guest Recipes!

This week I'm featuring recipes submitted by the rest of you :o) Thanks for the help!

Sun-dried Tomato Chicken

1/3-1/2 bottle Kraft's Sun-dried Tomato salad dressing
2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts

Marinate the chicken in the dressing for 2-3 hours. Bake at 425 for 15-17 minutes.

Great with baked potatoes and salad!

Crockpot Dip Chicken

4-6 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
8 oz cream cheese, soft
1 can cream of chicken or mushroom soup
one packet zesty italian salad dressing mix.

put chicken in crockpot, cover with cream cheese mixture
cover and let cook 6-8 hours.
serve over rice or noodles.

you can use almost any dip mix! (use about 1 1/2-4 Tbsp)

Friday, December 5, 2008

World's Best Peanut Butter Fingers.

Another violation of the 5 things rule, but it's junk food so it's TOTALLY worth it. I'm participating in the Virtual Cookie exchange, so feel free to browse for other great recipes!

Word of warning, this is my grandma's recipe, so without scaling it down it makes 2 full pans--better get them out of the house quick!

Peanut Butter Fingers

2 squares butter
1/2 c. sugar
3/4 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 c. peanut butter
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 c. flour
1 1/2 c. oatmeal

Mix all ingredients and press into two 9 x 13 pans. Bake at 350 for 13 minutes. Cool 5-12 minutes and frost with peanut butter and chocolate frosting. Best with the fudge frosting below!

Chocolate Fudge Frosting

1/3 c. evap. milk
1 c. sugar
5 large marshmallows
1/2 c. chocolate chips
1 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. vanilla

Cook milk, sugar, and marshmallows until melted on medium heat. Remove from heat, add remaining ingredients. When chocolate chips melt pout immediately (great on cake as well!)

You can add mint to part if you want to make double layered mint/chocolate frosting (i.e. brownies).

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Sweet tooth

Ok, anyone who knows me understands that I am a complete dessert I have MILLIONS of recipes (though some violate the 5 ingredient rule...)

I don't make a lot of "basic" cookies, and I usually use cake and brownie mixes. So, here are some of my favorite unique desserts...

Mint Meringue Cookies
2 egg whites (post a comment if you're not sure how to separate eggs)
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp peppermint flavoring (i've also used mint, orange, and almond!)
1/8 tsp food coloring (totally optional, but i like green so people expect mint!)
3/4 c. sugar
1 c. chocolate chips

Beat egg whites w/ cream of tartar until it forms soft peaks (i.e. when you poke it it lifts up and the tip folds over into a peak that's till fairly soft). Gradually add sugar, beat until the meringue holds shape. Fold in color, flavor, and chocolate chips.

Drop spoonfuls onto wax paper covered cookie sheet. Bake at 250 for 15 min, let cookies cook in oven (i.e. turn it off but don't take the cookies out). These are best warm and melt in your mouth....makes 24 small.

Easy Pie Crust--making homemade pies is actually really easy!
1 c. shortening
2 c. flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 c. cold water

Blend shortening, flour, and salt with fingers. Should be moist but crumbly. Add water and mix. Roll out, place in pie tin, prick with fork, and bake at 400 for 15 minutes. Fill with chocolate pudding, banana pudding and sliced bananas....whatever sounds good! Makes 2 bottom pie crusts.

For a great fruit pie, put the bottom crust in the pie tin, prick with fork, and add a can of pie filling (i prefer apple or peach). Roll out the second crust and use cookie cutters to make a decorative top (small stars or hearts typically work best). Make it extra creative by attaching the cut out portions to another part of the crust with a drop of water. Cover the pie, pinch edges together to seal, and bake at 400 for 15 minutes.

Yes, it's probably best to make apple pie with real apples, but the cost and time of growing, slicing, and cooking them doesn't always seem worth it...and most store bought fillings are actually pretty good.

A misunderstood dish.

So, growing up there were two foods my mom made that I love: meatloaf and fruit cake. It wasn't until I got older that I began to realize that most people crack jokes about these two and avoid them at all costs. CLEARLY they're not eating the same things I am!

I quickly converted my husband to this meatloaf recipe when we got married, and I still use it for a few reasons: 1) it cooks quickly 2) it's always a warm, homemade kind of meal 3) having evaporated milk open in the fridge means i make no-bake cookies!

So here it is, my mom's meatloaf:

1 lb ground beef
1/2 onion, diced
~1/3 cup ketchup or BBQ sauce
1/3 cup evaporated milk
1 pkg saltine crackers, crushed
1-2 lrg. eggs
salt and pepper as desired

Mash it all together (easiest to just get your hands dirty)
Bake at 350 until cooked through.

the best tip to this recipe is to make it in a greased cupcake pan. Makes individual servings, no cutting required, and cooks faster! Takes 20-30 minutes and makes 12.

Crock-pot feasting

My sister in law made a fabulous dinner on Saturday for the whole family, and still had lots left over. Haven't quite decided what to call it, but it's a slow-cooked, super tender, chicken fajita type mix :o)

Chicken Salsa Fajitas

24 oz. salsa
1 can black beans
1 can corn
1 packet taco seasoning
4-5 boneless skinless chicken breasts

Put in crock-pot on low for 4-5 hours. Shred chicken, serve in tortillas with cheese and sour cream and anything else you have laying around!

Stir-fry in seconds...

So I'm a huge fan of variety and for that reason I LOVE "ethnic" food. I think by ethnic I mean something other than pasta, because that seems to be the cheapest and easiest for college student budgets.

There are tons of ways to make good stir fry and chinese food, but here are my quick suggestions.

1. Good sauce
2. Chinese veggies
3. Meat optional
4. Rice

Again, I love my rice cooker so I can't imagine living without it, but instant rice is not too bad either and takes about the same amount of time to stir fry.

There are lots of different kinds of veggies that work great for stir fry, I usually buy what is cheapest. In the frozen food section there is usually a bag of "chinese starters" or something like that that includes basics like mini-corn and water chestnuts. The type in a can tends to include more sprouts and such but they both work well.

If I have chicken or pork I add that, but if I don't have it or only have a little, I make up the difference with vegetables and it's still great.

There are lots of different sauces. If you have to pick simply one, I recommend a teriyaki merinade or sauce--it's a common flavor that everyone likes but it's not just salt like soy sauce. I also favor Hoison sauce if you're looking for a little more authentic.

Other than that, it's super easy. If you add a little sauce before adding meat you never have to add oil, which makes it healthier. Saute meat over med-high heat until brown, add veggies and more sauce, cook until medium soft (don't want mushy vegetables!) or until the rice is done. Works great as leftovers as well.

Also, if you check out the foreign food aisle of most grocery stores you will find sauce packets for a variety of chinese food that usually are pretty good. My favorites are sesame, hot & spicy, and honey teriyaki. The sweet and sour are generally NOT good, but I have an awesome quickie recipe for that if you're in the mood!

3 ingredient specials!

Ok, here are two of my favorite recipes, both of which had three ingredients (or less)!

Crock-pot Chicken Salsa
(lemon slice or lemon juice if you REALLY feel domestic)

Spray crock-pot for easy clean up.
Add bite size pieces uncooked chicken
Cover with salsa (about 3/4 a jar for a few pounds of chicken)
Add lemon if you're feeling up to it/have it around
Cook on high 3-4 hours

Best served over rice. Salad is a good side if you have it. Serves groups large or small depending on how much chicken you add.

bonus: Makes the house smell fabulous! Also, very easy to remember by the descriptive title.

The other three ingredient special is also served over rice, so I sometimes make these in the same week and just make lots of rice the first time (I consider a rice-cooker an essential gadget).

Thai Peanut Chicken
chicken, small breasts work best
peanut sauce mix (check the asian section of the grocery store)
1 can coconut milk (also in the asian section)

Preheat to 375
Place chicken in glass casserole dish
Whisk together peanut sauce (usually comes with 2 packets, I use one unless I'm in the mood for serious spice!) and coconut milk. Pour over chicken.
Cover with tin foil, bake for 1-1.5 hours.

Serving depends on amount of chicken, can go farther if you stir-fry or steam vegetables as well. Most gourmet when served with cooked carrots and dished over fresh spinach leaves (found by the salad-in-a-bag in any grocery store). Great for entertaining because it's Thai and different from traditional dinner.

Chicken Lattice Casserole

This is like an upside-down pot pie, super fast and easy to make, while including all food groups at once so there's no need for side dishes! i used to think casserole were "grandma-ish" until i discovered how nice is it to eat something homemade, fast, and healthy without extra work.

Chicken Lattice

2 cans cream soup or chicken gravy (I often use one can chicken gravy and one can cream of celery)
1/2 onion, diced (buy onions when they're on sale and chop them all at once. Store 1/2 onion sections in plastic bags in the freezer--handy and precut whenever you need them, and no need to add any oil to saute!)
1 1 lb. bag assorted frozen vegetables (i.e. California style)
1/2 c. cheese
1 tsp pepper (sometimes I put in a little garlic salt as well)
1 lb. chicken, cooked, chunked
1 package crescent rolls

Preheat oven to 375. Cook vegetables according to package directions (microwave works great). Combine all ingredient except rolls in a large saucepan, heat on medium until warm. Pour into glass baking dish. Unroll package of crescent rolls, press seams together. Cut into 1" strips and weave on top of casserole. Bake for ~15 minutes or until rolls are done.
Serves 6-8, great for leftovers.

Sometimes i make a large amount and put it into two square dishes. I can either cook both and take a meal to someone else or keep the second for the next week--just add the rolls and bake!

5 Buck Chili

I call this "5 buck chili" because it takes 5 cans of food that is easy to store and often on hand (and each one costs ~$1). Perfect for chilly days or whenever you want to feel domestic!

1 can chili w/o beans (get the spicy kind if you want it hot)
1 can dark red kidney beans
1 can baked beans (i like the generic brown sugar kind)
1 can corn
1 can diced or stewed tomatoes (i often get the "mexican" kind with pre-added seasonings)

Combine everything in a crockpot (spray it first for easier cleanup!) and let it simmer anywhere from 2 hours to all day--the longer it cooks the more the flavors mix, but really, as long as it's warm you can eat it anytime).

Top with shredded cheese if you have any on hand :o) Sometimes, I also add a can of black beans. Makes 4-8 servings, depending on how much you like chili!

Welcome to 5 Things Cooking!

You've seen a lot of "cooking blogs" with fabulous pictures and gourmet foods. I am definitely NOT that type of chef. I fit more into the "what can I throw together with what I have in the cupboard" type who figures that if something cook fast on medium it cooks even faster on high. I am into recipes involving 5 ingredients or less--preferably ingredients that I always have laying around somewhere. I get excited about cooking junk food in the microwave--a faster fix for my sweet tooth! This blog is for the "real" SAHM who never makes her own bread and considers mac & cheese with broccoli a respectable meal--with serious props to you classy cooks out there.

If this sounds at all like you, welcome to my cooking :o)

Feel free to share your favorite recipes and quick fixes!