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Tag Archives: quick meals

Crockpot Macaroni and Cheese

When I saw that there was no pre-cooking for this recipe, I literally “squee’d” out loud.  I pinned this from Keri Challen’s board, which she found on Tip Garden.  There were warnings posted on the site explaining the Southern-style of macaroni and cheese and how it should be cut like a brownie (which I was all for because that’s the best kind), but what I wasn’t expecting was the over-bearing sour-taste from, what I believe to be, the condensed milk.  Hopefully someone can give me some insight.

Recipe:
Ingredients:

Cooking oil spray
2 cups skim milk
1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk
1 egg
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 1/2 cups preshredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
I used exactly the ingredients the recipe called for and I followed the recipe exactly:
Once everything was mixed together, I dropped it into the pot and let it go for 4 hours.  It looked like mac and cheese, and it smelled like mac and cheese, so I was very excited to try it out.
 
When served, it had the exact consistency of the custard mac and cheese and it smelled absolutely delicious!  However, upon the first taste, I found it had a very strange taste that I cannot pinpoint.  It was almost sour-tasting.  I thought maybe it was the evaporated milk, but upon further reading in the comments on Tip Gard, I thought it might be the egg?  I’m not sure, but I couldn’t eat more than 6 or 7 bites before the aftertaste completely overwhelmed me.  Mike ate the entire pot over a 3-span day, and he said he didn’t have the same taste experience I did.  I’m at a loss for words to explain the way I felt about this recipe.
Verdict:
Mike’s opinion:
Taste: 4/5
Presentation: 5/5
Jen’s Opinion:
Taste: 2/5
Presentation: 5/5
Ease of preparation: 5/5
Ease of cleanup: 5/5
Availability of ingredients: 5/5
Next time, I’ll omit one of the ingredients (either the egg or the evaporated milk) and see which ingredient is the “offending” ingredient.
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Posted by on September 2, 2012 in Crockpot

 

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Crockpot Loaded Potato Soup

With a hurricane looming in the Caribbean, it felt like a good night for some comfort food.  Potato soup is one of my favorite heavy soups, but I wanted something without the heavy whipping cream (a slightly lactose intolerant person lives here, and I didn’t want to overload the soup with cream cheese AND dynamite).  I was greatly pleased with this find on Hannah Holzmann’s board, which she originally pinned from her own blog, It’s What’s For Dinner.

Recipe:
Ingredients:

5 lbs russet potatoes, diced, NOT peeled
5 tablespoons TS garlic garlic1 large yellow onion, chopped
64 ounces chicken broth or stock
16 ounces cream cheese
bacon, sour cream, chives or shredded cheese for garnish

I used 3lbs (even though we were expecting 2 more for dinner, 5 just seemed like an overhaul of potatoes), 3 tablespoons of minced garlic, 32 ounces chicken broth (Great Value, sodium free), 8 ounces of cream cheese, 5 strips of bacon and the leftover Monterrey jack cheese from the Alice Springs chicken.  For the most part, I cut the recipe in half and added my own flare of onion flakes, ground pepper, and a pinch of Lowry’s seasoning salt.

I got up early this morning, chopped the potatoes into dice-sized bits, and combined with the chicken broth and seasonings in the crockpot on low.  I left it on low all day while we were at work (Murphy kept an eye on it all day, I’m sure). When we got home, I pulled out my blender.  It says to use a food processor, but all I have is a Magic Bullet, and that just wasn’t happening.  I chopped the cream cheese block in half, threw it in the blender with half of the soup:

(Yes, it’s supposed to look that yucky.  It gets better).  Once I’d blended half, I added the other half of the block and the rest of the soup, then poured it back into the crockpot for easy serving purposes.

Mike offered to fry up the bacon (thanks hubby) so I could get the table set and the fixin’s ready.
  

Verdict:
Mike’s Opinion:
Taste: 5/5
Presentation: 5/5

Jen’s Opinion:
Taste: 5/5 (needed a little extra pepper)
Presentation: 5/5
Ease of preparation: 4/5
Ease of cleanup: 2/5 (that crockpot took forever to get clean again)
Availability of ingredients: 5/5

This is definitely an easy, and if you’re a smart shopper, healthy recipe for a delicious pot of potato soup.

 

 
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Posted by on August 23, 2012 in Soup

 

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Unknown Awesome Chicken

Mike had a training tonight until 7:30pm (ugh!), so I needed something I could whip together without having to do too much prep; that way, I could throw it together and wait for his go-ahead to pop it in the oven.  This was one of the first recipes I ever pinned on Pinterest; I found it on the “popular” search by Carrin Bachowski.    Imagine my utter surprise to discover it was actually HER recipe!  Bravo, Ms. Bachowski!  The recipe is written directly on the pin, so you’ll have to check the pin to get the recipe.

Recipe:
Ingredients:
4-6 raw chicken breasts
new potatoes
green beans (fresh or canned-really any green veggie would work. Broccoli is good, too).
packet of Italian dressing mix
1 cup of melted butter

I used 4 chicken breasts, 8 red potatoes (washed but not peeled) and 2 cans of cut greenbeans, and 1/2 stick of butter.  (Sorry–no picture).  I didn’t have a packet of Italian dressing mix, so I turned to my trusty Bing to give me a hand.  I found a great substitution tutorial on pPod’s Kitchen (excellent blog, by the way).

I laid the breasts in the middle of a 9×13 glass casserole dish (no Pam or spray), and then placed and built the potatoes and greenbeans around them, not really caring if some of the flavors overlapped.  I poured 1/2 stick of melted butter over the entire platter (1 stick just seemed like too much) and then sprinkled my aromatic Italian dressing substitution over the everything.  As soon as I got the go-ahead from Mike, I popped the entire pan in the over at 350 degrees and tried my best to ignore it for 60 whole minutes.

Within minutes, the entire house smelled divine, making it very difficult to concentrate on anything other than my grumbling, bumbling tummy.  Two minutes in the door, I had served two plates of this unknown awesome chicken dinner.  Devoured.  To give you a hint of how quickly this dinner disappeared, think of the poor cow in the Raptor enclosure in Jurassic Park…

Verdict:
Mike’s Opinion:
Taste: 5/5
Presentation: 5/5

Jen’s Opinion:
Taste: 5/5
Presentation: 5/5 (if I had seen this in a restaurant, I would have ordered it.)
Ease of preparation: 5/5 (SO! easy)
Ease of cleanup: 5/5
Availability of ingredients: 5/5

This is my favorite recipe I’ve found for a quick and delicious chicken dinner.  I will save this on a hard copy just in case 🙂

 
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Posted by on August 21, 2012 in Chicken

 

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Crockpot Beef and Broccoli

Beef and Broccoli is one of our all-time favorite fast-food Chinese dinners.  I’ve followed a recipe before and the sauce just wasn’t right.  So, when I saw my favorite recipe words (crock pot) on Kim McG’s board, I just had to give it a try.  This recipe is originally pinned from the blog, BS Recipes.

Recipe:
Ingredients:
1 pound boneless beef chuck roast, sliced into thin strips
1 cup beef consumme
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons sauce from the crock pot after being cooked
Fresh broccoli florets (as many as desired)
Hot cooked rice

Honestly, I didn’t have sesame oil, and when I saw the price of it at Publix, I thought “what else could I use this for?” and left it behind.  I substituted a little Worcestershire Sauce.

This recipe was perfect for our Sunday.  I popped it all together around 11:00am, and forgot about it while we spent the day relaxing and preparing for our first day of students (officially, with students back).

  We had a Sons of Anarchy mini-marathon while the house slowly started to fill with scents slightly-reminiscent of China Wok.  The broccoli went in around 6:50, and around 7:15, dinner was served.

 

It might have been the sesame oil substitute, but I found a good bit of salt was needed to help flavor the beef.

Verdict:
Mike’s Opinion:
Taste: 4/5
Presentation: 5/5
Notes: The sauce was a little thin, and a kick of salt was beneficial.

Jen’s opinion:
Taste: 3.5/5
Presentation: 5/5 (it LOOKED like Beef and Broccoli….)
Ease of preparation: 5/5
Ease of cleanup: 5/5
Availability of ingredients: 4/5

If I ever procure Sesame Sauce, I might give this recipe another go, but for now, I’m still on a quest for the perfect Beef and Broccoli recipe.

 
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Posted by on August 19, 2012 in Beef

 

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Lasagna Soup

This is the first week for us to be back at school; we spend our days attending meetings, setting up classrooms, sifting through piles of data, and reconnecting with teams and departments.  It’s a good week (or not) to start a new menu routine.  On Sunday, Mike and I planned out our entire week of menus and used my handy-dandy new menu grocery list to shop.  So far, not bad.  This recipe was a fluke pin from Elizabeth Eyler (who found it on Deen Bros), as I never expected to make it; however, it somehow managed to make it on the menu on our rainy Tuesday, leaving me to plan a meal with the most ingredients I’ve ever used.  Surprisingly, it only took a total of 40 minutes…40 well-worth-the-wait minutes.

Recipe:
Ingredients:
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 pound Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (32-ounce) container chicken broth
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
4 ounces broken whole-wheat lasagna noodles (about 4 noodles)
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup reduced-fat shredded mozzarella cheese

My alterations:  Turkey sausage had cheddar cheese in it, onion flakes instead of a chopped onion, no green peppers (we don’t eat them), regular lasagna noodles.

First, I combined the oil, the sausage, the onion flakes, and the garlic in a large nonstick saucepan and cooked over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sausage was slightly browned (12ish minutes).

Once the sausage looks done, add the chicken broth, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, salt, and the crushed red pepper and bring to a boil; once boiling, reduce the heat and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes.  The boiling will look like rings of various colors appearing on the top of the soup:

Add the noodles (the smaller the breaks, the better.  Too big and they will stick together and make a sandwich that refuses to separate) and bring back to a boil until the noodles are done.  Remove from the heat; it says to stir in the mozzarella, Parmesan, and basil until well-blended, but I let those ingredients sit on top for a while and sink naturally–this allowed the cheeses to melt completely without wrapping the strands around the spoon.

Serve alone or with breadsticks.

Verdict:
Mike’s Opinion:
Taste: 5/5
Presentation: 5/5
Notes: Surprisingly filling (I was full on one bowl!).  I’m not a big soup person, but this is a recipe I would actually request.
Reheatability: 5/5

Jen’s Opinion:
Taste: 5/5
Presentation: 5/5
Ease of preparation: 5/5 (just add, stir, and heat)
Ease of cleanup: 5/5 (rinse the pot before washing so it doesn’t harden)
Availability of ingredients: 4/5 (we don’t usually keep turkey sausage and lasagna noodles in the house, but they are easily obtained in any grocery store)

We had enough left-overs to have a meal large enough to share with two of our friends tonight–it tastes even better after being reheated.  This recipe is fantastic, and I highly recommend it to anyone who may or may not like lasagna.  It’s filling, it’s easy, and it’s delicious 🙂

 
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Posted by on August 16, 2012 in Soup

 

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Fluffy French Toast

It’s Mike’s birthday, which in our house means he gets to pick his meals and I get to choose the dessert.  He asked for French Toast for brunch (last day to sleep in before school starts….) and Beef Tips and Noodles for dinner.  I already have a beef tips noodle recipe that I adore, so all I needed was one recipe for the day. I went on an epic search for a French Toast recipe; I found the winner at Allrecipes.com and it is definitely a keeper.

Recipe:
Ingredients:
(modified for a serving of 2–originally designed for 12 servings)
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons milk
1/8 pinch salt1/2 eggs
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon white sugar
2 thick slices bread

Flour?  Oh yes!  It’s key to this recipe’s fluffiness.  Mix all the ingredients in a medium bowl with a whisk, making sure it gets that creamy consistency.

Soak the bread long enough to sop up the mixture, and then cook it on a preheated griddle. I set mine at medium heat to allow for a slower cook.

The recipe doesn’t call for it, but it’s a special occasion: sprinkle a little powdered sugar over the finished product and serve with maple syrup:

If you’ve done everything correctly, the plates should look like this:

Verdict:

Mike’s Opinion:
Taste: 5/5
Presentation: 5/5

Jen’s opinion:
Taste: 5/5 (I, by the way, do not like French Toast)
Presentation: 5/5
Ease of preparation: 5/5
Ease of cleanup: 5/5
Availability of ingredients: 5/5

 
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Posted by on August 12, 2012 in Breakfast

 

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Scalloped Potato and Ground Beef Casserole

I took out ground beef for dinner tonight thinking I might make goulash, then I remembered I didn’t have any salt pork.  With the nearest grocery store 11 miles away, a “quick trip” wasn’t going to happen.  Pinterest to the rescue!  Or, so I hoped.  Alas, nothing really appealed to me.  So I went back to the kitchen to take a quick peek in the pantry.  I found a box of ready-to-cook scalloped potatoes.  Cue the light bulb.  I didn’t find anything on Pinterest, but Bing came through for me again and led me to Food.com where I discovered Kittencal’s Scalloped Potato and Ground Beef Casserole.  It has since been Pinned to my board 🙂

Recipe:

The original recipe called for scalloped potatoes from scratch, but since I already had the box, I just used that.  My ingredients included:
1lb of ground beef
1 box of scalloped potatoes
Worcestershire sauce
flaked onions
garlic salt,
and a dash of soy sauce.

First, I browned the beef in a frying pan, using the worcesterhire sauce, onions, garlic salt, and soy sauce as flavoring.  This is the point where Mike entered the kitchen and asked “How long must I smell this glorious smell before I can eat it?”  He was a little disappointed when I told him he still had 20 minutes, but he stuck it out like a champ.  Next, I prepare the scalloped potatoes as directed.  I drained the beef (no rinsing) and then added it to the potatoes in my trusty Corningware casserole dish.  I let it bake in 350 degrees for 20 minutes, and voila!  Scalloped Potato and Ground Beef Casserole.

Verdict:

Mike’s Opinion:
Taste: 5/5
Presentation: 5/5
Notes: Absolutely fantastic

Jen’s Opinion:
Taste: 5/5
Presentation: 5/5
Ease of preparation: 5/5
Ease of cleanup: 5/5
Availability of ingredients: 5/5
One of the easiest dishes I’ve ever cooked, and in all actuality, quite tasty.  Make sure you drain the ground beef well, as the grease will  prevent the cheese from thickening.

 
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Posted by on August 7, 2012 in Beef

 

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