Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Stay Soft Caramel Corn

I love this recipe because it stays pull apart soft and just a touch chewy...*sigh*

Caramel Corn

1 c. Karo syrup
2 c. brown sugar
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 stick butter
2 batches of popcorn

Boil Karo syrup and sugar for 2 min. Add sweetened condensed milk and butter. Stir until melted. Pour over popcorn!

Best if you let it set up for about an hour before trying to eat it...

Monday, January 26, 2009

Menu-planning Monday! (+ Cacciatore recipe)

Ok, I've been menu-planning off and on for a year, and I've decided to get back into it. In fact, I found a great site that has an official "Menu Plan Monday" and links to everyone's menu's for the week, so if you don't find something interesting here, go to the Organizing Junkie and check out more links.

I try to plan my weekly menu with some variety, but using similar ingredients and incorporating leftovers into new dishes. I cook with my crock-pot at least once a week because it's so easy and makes my house smell great!

Week Menu

Monday - Chicken Salsa Fajitas served in tortillas with cheese and lettuce. YUM!

Tuesday - busy day, so I'm sticking with a simple veggie stir fry served over rice (make extra to use later in the week)

Wednesday - Mexican leftovers. We call these "burrangos" in our house. Essentially, any of the leftover fajitas in addition to some extra corn, spanish rice, and green peppers, or whatever we have handy! You can crisp them in a frying pan, similar to a chimichanga. The perfect sauce for these is a half and half mix of salsa and ranch dressing--trust me!

Thursday - Take a break from ethnic and make a simple pasta dish, such as spaghetti, or this amazing Fettucine Cacciatore (see recipe below!)

Friday - go for something easy, like crockpot chili--and throw in any mexican leftovers from earlier in the week! or, try this crockpot chicken teriyaki and serve it over leftover rice.

Saturday - BBQ honey mustard chicken with stuffing and baked potatoes. I use the easy box stuffing :o) Mix sauces with a few tablespoons of margarine, whisk together, and pour over chicken. Bake at 325, basting every 15 minutes until cooked through. Also works great in the crockpot, but I like to cook my potatoes in the crockpot and I only have one... You can also try this homemade BBQ sauce!

Sunday - homemade meatloaf! and of course, no-bake cookies for dessert.

Fettuccine Cacciatore

1/2 lb fettuccine, uncooked
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
1/4 c. Zesty Italian dressing
1/2 c. shredded Italian cheese (mozzarella, parmesan, etc.)
1 c. green pepper strips
1 c. sliced mushrooms
1/2 c. chopped fresh basil

Cook pasta as directed. Saute peppers and mushrooms in oil for 3 min, stirring occasionally. Stir in tomatoes and dressing. Reduce heat to med, simmer 5 minutes. Drain pasta, toss with veggies and dressing. Sprinkle with cheese and basil.

If you like a LOT of cheese, it's easiest to dish each serving first and then top with cheese and basil. Makes four 2 c. servings.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

No Bake Cookies

There are lots of no-bake recipes out there, but this is my personal favorite. Despite my addiction to peanut butter, I prefer the plain "fudge" variety. This recipe only calls for things I usually have handy and always sets up.

No Bake Cookies

2 c. sugar
1/2 c. evaporated milk
1 stick butter/margarine
3 Tbs. cocoa
1/2 tsp. salt
3 c. oatmeal (not instant kind!)

Heat everything except the oatmeal on medium, stirring regularly to avoid burning the sugar. Boil one minute. Remove from heat, add oatmeal. Drop by spoonful on wax paper.

Makes 2-3 dozen.

Some of my favorite recipes call for evaporated milk (see: Meatloaf, fudge frosting) so I try to make these in the same week.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Crockpot Teriyaki Chicken

Tried and tested!

Crockpot Teriyaki Chicken

4 lb. chicken
1/2 c. soy sauce
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 tsp. ginger
1 1/2 Tbsp. red vinegar
2 Tbsp. olive oil

Mix sauce, pour over chicken in crockpot. Cook on LOW for 4-6 hours. Serves 6.

I halved this for my smaller family. Can be shredded as it cooks. Best served over rice with steamed veggies. Add pineapple for extra zest!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

One Easy, One Gourmet

Apologies for being so slow to update--I just got a new cookbook and I was waiting to test these out before I posted them!

Crock Pot Italian Chicken

3-4 chicken breasts
1 pkg. Italian dressing seasoning mix
1/2 c. water
1 (8 oz) block cream chese

Place the chicken, italian seasoning, and water in the crock pot, cook on LOW for ~3 hours (longer if using frozen chicken). When chicken is fully cooked, use a fork to shred it, add the cream cheese and mix thoroughly. This makes a creamy chicken topping that is great over rice or noodles. Serves 6-8.

Wedding Chicken - a la Chicken Cordon Bleu

6 chicken breasts
6 slices of ham
6 slices of Swiss cheese
6 slices of bacon
1 can cream of mushroom soup
2 c. sour cream

Lay chicken breasts flat in a large pan. Place one slice of ham and one slice of cheese on each, wrap with bacon and tuck the ends under. Mix together mushroom soup and sour cream, pour over the chicken. Let set overnight. Sprinkle with paprika before baking at 250 for four hours.

Actually a faster recipe than it seems, because you can make them in the evening, make room in the fridge, and then let your house smell wonderful while they bake the next day!

On a side note, I made a two-pan batch of Peanut Butter Fingers last night and they are WONDERFUL, as always. If you haven't tried this yet you're missing out!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Breakfast favorites: french toast and banana pancakes

So it's kind of a tradition in our house to make breakfast for dinner on Sundays when we're feeling lazy, as they take little time, satisfy my sweet tooth, and can be thrown together when there's practically nothing left in the house.

Classic French Toast

1 cup milk
4 lg. eggs (use 5 med.)
10 slices of bread

Whisk the milk and eggs together, add as much vanilla and cinnamon as you want (I've never overseasoned and I tend to add a LOT). Dip bread, cook on griddle or frying pan. Great with syrup, peanut butter, honey, powdered sugar...whatever is left lying around.

Banana Pancakes

2 c. flour
2 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 3/4 c. milk
2 eggs
1/4 c. oil

Mix all ingredients except bananas. Pour on griddle or frying pan, and add a few banana slices to each pancake. Cook on medium heat. Best served with peanut butter and syrup, but jam, butter, or just plain syrup also work well.

Even faster: simply use a baking mix like bisquick or generic. Follow instructions on the package, and add bananas as they cook.