Monday, September 27, 2010

Shepherd's Pie

This is one of the great dinners that you can make from leftovers in your fridge. In our family, we usually end  up making this dish after a holiday when we have tons of mashed potatoes, relish trays, and vegetables leftover from our big meal. Or, I just get a craving for it and it's still easy to make even when there are no leftovers to use in making it.

It starts by browning one pound of hamburger in a skillet. When that is cooked and crumbled, add one chopped carrot and one chopped onion. When those are cooked add one cup of frozen peas.

Then stir in a can of cream of celery and transfer to a deep round casserole dish or pie plate.

Then top with prepared mashed potatoes. The mashed potatoes can be freshly made, instant potaotes, already prepared out of a package, or leftover.

Then top with shredded cheddar cheese.....

....and bake until bubbly, brown and delicious!

Then serve it up and eat! We enjoyed ours with some buttered cresent rolls.

Hope you enjoy this as much as we do! And if you do make this using holiday leftovers such as the mashed potatoes, carrots, peas, etc., no one would ever guess!

Shepherd's Pie

1 lb ground beef
1 carrot, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 cup peas, frozen or thawed
1- 10 3/4 ounce can cream of celery
2 to 3 cups mashed potatoes
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
salt and pepper
olive oil

Brown and crumble ground beef in skillet with sprinkle of salt and pepper. Drain beef and add carrot and onion with drizzle of olive oil, spinkle with salt pepper. When carrot and onion have softened, add in peas and cream of celery. Transfer to a deep casserole dish or pie plate. Top with mashed potatoes and spread them around till top is covered. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese and place in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Baptism Cake

A month ago, my best friend Kelli and her husband Dan had a baby boy named David. Kelli and I have been friends since 7th grade and its so great our children are so close in age. This past Sunday, Kelli and Dan had David baptized and I offered to make a cake for their family dinner after the church service. I took a cake decorating class in high school and really enjoyed it. During college I had a hard time finding time to pursue this hobby and once I met my husband-to-be and had no extra time to play around with cake decorating. I finally got back into cake decorating this past summer when I made a cake for my husband's 30th birthday and realized how much I missed it! When Kelli told me they were having David baptized, I jumped at the opportunity to make another cake.

I don't think I do too bad for an amateur cake decorator, what do you think? I saw the idea for this cake on Wilton's website when looking through their religious section. Here is the original cake: Wilton- Blessed Little One. I just love Wilton's website. I'm always looking through the pages and just marveling at all the beautiful desserts they come up with.

In all, we had a good dinner, good dessert and good company joining Kelli and Dan and their family for David's Baptism. And my daughter Samantha got to spend some time getting to know her new little friend.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Baked Pork Chops with Apple and Onion Stuffing

With it being September, I have been on an apple kick! About this time every year I try to work apples into my cooking at least once during the week. This is one of the easiest, no fuss recipes I think I have come up with. It is so easy to change up depending on your mood or what you have in your pantry. I started this version with four boneless pork chops that I seasoned with salt and pepper.

Then in the bottom of an oven safe dish I spread around a regular size can of cream of celery soup.

I placed the pork chops on top of the soup.....

....and topped them with some shredded monterey jack cheese.

Then in a separate bowl, I mixed one box of whole wheat chicken flavored Stove Top stuffing mix with a regular can of chicken broth, no heating required. While the stuffing absorbed the broth, I chopped up one half of an onion and one granny smith apple.

When the onion and apple were chopped, I added them to the stuffing, gave it a stir and spread it on top of the pork chops.

I covered the dish with a lid and placed it in a 350 degree oven. An hour later, it was all bubbly and brown and smelled sooo good.

I even used the other half of the onion. I chopped it up and sauteed it in a small frying pan with a tbsp of butter and seasoned it with salt, pepper and a sprinkle of curry powder. When the onion was soft, I added a regular size can of cut green beans that I drained. Then I made myself a plate to eat.

Pork chops and stuffing with creamy gravy and green beans, Mmmmmm!

As I mentioned earlier, there are so many different variations that can be done with this concept. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are also a great option. Instead of cream of celery, you could use cream of mushroom or cream of chicken and I often use swiss cheese instead of the monterey jack. Countless vegetables could be chopped up and added to the stuffing and there are so many types of Stove Top stuffing, I don't think I could name them all! This meal is so adaptable to whatever your family's favorites are!

Pork Chops with Apple and Onion Stuffing

4 boneless pork chops
1- 10 3/4 ounce can cream of celery soup
1/2 onion, chopped
1 granny smith apple, peeled and chopped
shredded monterey jack cheese, 1 to 2 cups
1- 6 ounce box whole wheat chicken flavored Stove Top Brand stuffing mix
1- 14 ounce can chicken broth
salt and pepper

Season pork chops with salt and pepper. In bottom of oven safe casserole dish with lid, spread cream of celery soup. Place in pork chops in single layer and sprinkle with shredded cheese until covered. In separate bowl, mix stuffing mix with chicken broth then add in onion and apple. Spread over the pork chops and cover with lid. Place in a preheated 350 degree oven for 1 hour or until meat is thoroughly cooked.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Chicken Curry

This is one of my favorite dinners to make and one of my husband's favorite to eat! This is such a great dinner for a cool, fall night and it warms you up inside. It also has apples in it, making it even more perfect for fall. It starts with some chopping, but that is as hard as it gets. I start off by chopping carrots, bell pepper, celery, onion and granny smith apples.

I used one yellow and one green bell pepper but it doesn't really matter what varieties you use just as long as they make it in. I peeled the carrots and the apples and chopped everything up to about the same size. I like this curry better when the veggies are chopped to a smaller size but its really up to your preference. If you like bigger chunks of peppers but a fine dice of onion, go ahead. There is really no wrong way to do this. Here is a picture with a parring knife for comparison of my veggies all chopped up.

I like to get all my veggies chopped up and ready to go first. Then I cut up a package of boneless skinless chicken breasts (There were 3 big chicken breasts in my pack and this was plenty). I browned the cut up chicken on medium high heat in a large pan with olive oil on the stove and added salt and pepper. When the chicken was browned, I added in all of the veggies and more salt and pepper.

When everything is in the pan, give it a good stir. Turn the heat down to medium and pop the lid on. Give it a stir every so often to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pan. While this is cooking away, it is a good time to get the spices around. Curry powder is readily available at the local grocery store and there are usually several varities. There are even hot and spicy curry powders for those who like a kick to their supper! This recipe takes curry powder, cumin, cinnamon and flour.

After about 10-15 minutes when the veggies and nice and tender and the chicken is throughly cooked, add all the spices and flour. Give it a good stir then add two cans of chicken broth. Each can is just shy of 2 cups. Give it another good stir to incorporate everything and add in 2 cups of perpared rice. I use a frozen brown rice that is all cooked and ready to use. There are two cups in the bag and I just dump it in frozen. Once the curry starts to bubble turn the heat way down and it is all ready to go!

I sprinkled mine with some dried parsley for a little color and garnish but it is also really good with a handful of chopped peanuts on top.

While walkng around the bakery section of the grocery store, I found this bread that advertised it goes well with chili and curry. It is called naan bread. It was a flat bread similar to pitas and it came two in a pack.

There was an original variety but I bought the garlic variety. It was VERY good and worked wonderful with the curry. I warmed it in a low oven for a few minutes and tore it into big pieces once I took it out. It was soft and tender but firm enough to be able to have spoonfuls of the curry piled on top of it. It also worked very well for wiping all of the extra sauce out of my bowl too! 

Chicken Curry

2 carrots
2 granny smith apples
2 bell peppers
3 stalks celery
1 onion
3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 Tbsp curry powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cinnamon
4 Tbsp flour
2 14oz cans chicken broth
2 cups prepared rice
         (I use a prepared frozen brown rice but it is also a good opportunity to use a pint of cooked white rice leftover from chinese carryout)
salt and pepper
olive oil

Peel the carrots and apples and chop all the veggies and apples. Cut up the chicken into bite size pieces and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Brown chicken in olive oil over medium high heat. Once browned, add all the veggies and apples. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and add more olive oil if needed. Stir and turn heat down to medium. Cover the pot and cook for 10-15 minutes until veggies are tender, stirring every few minutes. When veggies are tender, add all the spices and flour, stir to incorporate. Add chicken broth and prepared rice. Stir together and bring to a bubble. When curry bubbles, turn heat down to low and serve.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Starting Out on a Sweet Note, Oatmeal Cookies


I decided to start this blog after many requests over the years from my family and friends to make certain dishes or for my recipes. I thought it would be nice to start out on a sweet note and make one of my favorite recipes ever. This is my Grandma's recipe for Oatmeal Cookies and its fabulous. Our family has always enjoyed it and it makes a TON! So, here we go!

You are going to want a big mixer. I wasn't kidding when I said this recipe makes a ton of cookies. Using a one-inch cookie scoop, I was able to scoop out 88 cookies. That's over 7 dozen! So if you have a big Kitchen Aid Mixer, this is the time to get it out.

Like most cookie recipes, it starts off by creaming the sugars with butter and then adding the eggs. I like to use butter-flavored shortening while making this recipe. Shortening gives you a softer cookie when baked where as butter gives you a crisp cookie. I perfer a soft cookie but want the taste of butter so by using the butter-flavored shortening I feel I get the best of both worlds!

After this, the rest of the ingredients are added including the oats. If you want just a plain oatmeal cookie, stop after the addition of the oats. But, if you want to go a little further..........

You can add 12oz of anything you would like! I usually add a 12oz bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips and it makes a wonderful oatmeal chocolate chip cookie. However, this time I just so happened to have some M&M's and pecans around. So I added about 9oz of M&M's and about 3oz of chopped pecans.

When you get all this throughly mixed, you can start scooping them out on a cookie sheet. I used a one-inch cookie scoop and placed them on a lightly greased cookie sheet.

Mine went into a 350 degree oven for 9 minutes. When they were done, I took them immediatly off the cookie sheet and onto a cooling rack and let the cookie sheet cool  before placing more dough on it.

As I mentioned earlier, I scooped 88 cookies out of this one batch of dough. But I only baked 32 cookies. The rest of the dough I scooped onto cookie sheets and put into the freezer for a while. Once my scooped dough was frozen, I dropped them into labled freezer bags and marked down the type of cookie and how many were in each bag. Now I can bake some fresh cookies whenever we get a craving for them!

Oatmeal Cookies

1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups shortening
3 eggs
3 Tbsp water
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
4 1/2 cups quick oats
12 oz chocolate chips, candy or nuts (optional)

Cream the sugars and the shortening together till light and fluffy and add eggs. Mix well and add water and vanilla. Mix the flour with the salt and baking soda and gradually add to wet mixture. Add the oats one cup at a time. Mix in chocolate, candy or nuts. It will be neccasary to scrape down the sides of the bowl several times with a rubber scraper to make sure dough is throughly mixed. Using a one-inch cookie scoop, scoop dough onto lightly greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.