Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Dump Soup

My mom, Amanda's "memaw" discovered this recipe years ago. I'm not sure where she found it, some church covered dish dinner most likely. She raved about how easy it was and how dad was actually willing to eat it. I fell in love with it because it is so easy and it is made with ingredients I almost always have on hand. Mom insist it must be made with Campbell's minestrone and no other brand will do.

Last week, our first cold snap caught me by surprise. September? When did that happen? Well, fall had arrived and I found myself scrounging through the pantry looking for warming comfort food. Dump Soup it was. Today, we finished it off. The cold spell didn't even last as long as the leftovers did. Tomorrow is October? You've got to be kidding me.

Dump Soup


1 lb ground meat
1 large onion chopped
3 cloves of garlic minced
4 or 5 stems of celery diced
2 cans Campbell's minestrone soup
2 cans pinto beans
1 can ranch style beans
1 can Rotel tomatoes
1 can diced tomatoes (I used fire roasted!)
salt and pepper to taste


Brown ground meat with onion, garlic and celery. Dump in other ingredients. Add salt and pepper.

Add 2 soup cans of water. Simmer for 30 minutes or so to let the flavors have time to meld. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve with crusty garlic bread. (Although it is great with corn bread too.)

Even better the next day.

Additional Notes:

For a richer flavor, use beef broth instead of water. The leftovers will thicken; just add water to desired consistency.

If you want to extend it - dump in more cans. Sometimes I add a can of whole kernal corn or a can of green beans. (In the above photo I had added half a can of corn and half a can of black beans left over from a taco salad the previous day.)

My Mom likes it with 2 cans of ranch style beans and some people prefer the spicy Rotel.

You can add tobasco at the table or stir in some red pepper flakes.

Chris adds japalenos. Modifications are limitless.

As written above it is approximately 130 calories per one cup serving. Change things and you'd have to recalculate.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Beef Stuffed Cabbage

Most of the time when I go to the grocery store I just put ingredients in my cart that speak to me in the moment. I rarely have a PLAN. I always admire the women who have a menu plan and know exactly what they are going to buy when they go to the store. I guess it's good that I am good at creating dishes from the ingredients on hand. So tonight when I was trying to decide what to make for dinner, I remembered I had a head of cabbage and some ground beef in the fridge. Which lead to...

Beef Stuffed Cabbage

8 cabbage leaves (savoy would be better, but I just had regular cabbage)
1/2 lb lean ground beef
1/2 cup uncooked white rice
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup of wheat germ (hidden nutrition!)
1 carrot, grated
1/2 onion finely chopped
2-3 cloves of finely chopped garlic
1 egg white
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
2 cans of diced tomatoes
salt and pepper

Place cabbage in a large bowl, add some water to the bottom and loosely cover with plastic wrap. Microwave for 2 minutes to soften the cabbage leaves, making them pliable and easier to roll.

In a large bowl combine beef, rice, water, wheat germ, carrot, onion, garlic, egg white and seasoning. Mix well.

Spoon 1/4 cup of beef mixture into each cabbage leaf, rolling like you would an eggroll.

Spray a large skillet with cooking spray and brown the cabbage leaves. Add water and tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for about an hour. Turn cabbage rolls so that they cook evenly. Check and add water if it reduces to far. 2 rolls per serving, serves 4.

Weight Watchers Points: 6 per serving.


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Potato Leek Soup

Since I moved to Turkey, I find myself making soup much more often. This is because in Turkey food is taken more seriously. One reason for this is that there is very little prepared food here. Everything is made from scratch, it is much healthier, much less processed and much more time consuming. A typical dinner includes a soup course, as well as the entree , starch, vegetable and various sides. Dessert is always served, even if it is just a piece of fruit. So--my more casual American meals--entree plus veggie are not really considered "complete." I have had add more soups to my cooking repertoire.

I really like this soup, it is from Robert Irvine (Food Network). It is an amazing soup in its original form (using butter) but I use olive oil instead. When I make it with butter my taste buds are delighted, but I can feel my behind expanding. However, it tastes great, even without the butter. One thing I want to stress---USE FRESH THYME--it is SO worth it. Also if you make soups or sauces often--get an immersion blender. I LOVE mine. It has made soups incredibly easy to make, which means I do it more often and I burn myself less (the process of transferring hot liquids into a food processor can be tricky.)

Potato Leek Soup

6 potatoes, peeled and quartered
8 leeks, wash well
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped roughly
1 bay leaf
2 quarts chicken broth (or bouillon)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup of olive oil
1 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
Salt and pepper

In a soup pot, put the potatoes and four of the leeks, onion, bay leaf and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Boil until the potatoes are soft. Chop up the remaining four leeks. Mix flour and olive oil and milk in a bowl bowl to make a roux to thicken the soup. Add the leeks, olive oil mixture, fresh thyme, and salt and pepper. Remove bay leaf. Blend the soup using an immersion blender or in batches in the food processor. Once it is smooth pour back into the pot and simmer for 20 more minutes until soup has thickened. Serve with a little thyme on top as a garnish.

Go with your feelings...

If you are feeling lazy and just want to scrub the potatoes well instead of peeling them--no one will notice after you blend it.

If you are feeling naughty use 1 stick of butter instead of olive oil and cream instead of milk.
*Warning: You many not be able to stop eating this soup. You also may need new pants in a bigger size.


Friday, September 25, 2009

Chicken Spinach Pasta

Lately it seems like I am on a kick of fast and easy dinners, which isn't bad since I know a lot of people are always looking for quick and easy meals to fix in the supper time rush. This was a brainstorm that I had NO idea if it would turn out. It actually was really good and it was so simple! Even Maddie and Izzie scarfed down this meal, spinach and all!

Chicken Spinach Pasta

1/4 onion diced really small
8-10 button mushrooms, sliced
1 1/2- 2 cups loosely packed fresh baby spinach (sub frozen if you like, but use less)
12 oz chicken, cut in small pieces
1 cup of cottage cheese
3 tbsp plain yogurt
2 tbsp Parmesan cheese
6 oz pasta
1 tsp of italian seasoning
pinch of grated nutmeg
pinch of hot pepper flakes

Boil pasta according to package directions.
In a large skillet saute onions and mushrooms, using cooking spray so they don't stick. When the mushrooms and onions are soft, add spinach and wilt it down. Remove from skillet. Spray with cooking spray and cook chicken until almost cooked through. Remove and add to the spinach mixture. Drain noodles and return to their pot. Add spinach & chicken mixture to the noodles. In a blender, or small food processor (or magic bullet!) put the cottage cheese, yogurt, parmesan and seasonings. Blend until smooth. Add to noodles, add a bit of water if it needs to be thinned out. Serves 4.

Weight Watchers:
6pts per serving. I forgot the breakdown of the points. But I did use 2% cottage cheese and enriched whole grain pasta.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Easy Peezy Cheezy Beany Burritos

These easy cheese and bean burritos are for one of those nights when you want something quick and easy for dinner. It also only requires one small pot so it won't get the kitchen messy.

Easy Peezy Cheezy Beany Burritos

1 can of fat-free refried beans
1 cup of shredded reduced fat cheese
1/2 can of fire roasted tomatoes, drained, reserving 1-2 tbsp of liquid
1/4 onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves minced
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp cumin
8 small flour or corn tortillas

Spray a small pot with cooking spray, add the onions and garlic and cook on medium until they are softened and starting to caramelize (turn brown.) Add can of beans, the tomatoes with 1-2 tbsp of liquid, and spices. Stir. Add cheese and stir until melted and mixed in. Serve on flour or corn tortillas. Serves 4.

Weight Watchers:
Tortillas- 1 pt per tortilla
cheese- 2 pts per serving
beans- 1 pt per serving


Monday, September 21, 2009

Shrimp Couscous

I love couscous and other small pastas and grains. My husband doesn't so I often take the opportunity to cook them for lunch just for myself. They cook very quickly and you can do a small amount without leftovers. This dish is so easy to throw together, takes at most 10 minutes and that includes defrosting the shrimp!

Shrimp Couscous

2/3 cup of chicken broth
1/3 cup of couscous
4 oz shrimp
5-6 button mushrooms
1 tablespoon of Italian dressing
pinch of oregano

Defrost shrimp in a small bowl under running water. Bring chicken broth and oregano to boil in a small pot. Watch closely because this little amount will boil quickly. As soon as it comes to a boil add couscous. Cover and remove from heat.

Dry off shrimp and saute in a cast iron skillet that has been sprayed with cooking spray. While shrimp is cooking slice mushrooms. Remove shrimp from heat and saute mushrooms. Add salt and pepper.

Uncover couscous and fluff with a fork, stir in shrimp, mushrooms and Italian dressing. Serves 1.

Weight Watchers:
couscous: 4 pts
shrimp: 1 pt
1 tbsp dressing: 1pt


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Yayla Çorba

Merhabalar! That means "Hello Ya'll!" in Turkish. I have been invited by Amanda to join the Frickin Chicken. I apparently wooed her with my food pornography and anecdotes of being anAmerican Ex-Pat in Turkey. I have been in Turkey for about six months and have made it my job to try as many new dishes as possible. Translation: I eat my own weight in food on a regular basis. I love food and cooking, and immersing myself in a new cuisine has been a blast.

Turkish food is extremely varied by region, but a commonality in most cuisines is yogurt. Many Turkish foods use yogurt either as an ingredient or a condiment. What is great about using yogurt in a soup means you get a rich creamy soup without having to use a butter based roux. Yayla Çorba (pronounced chorba and means soup) is an amazing comfort food. This soup is especially wonderful when you are sick. The yogurt in the soup is good for stomach or digestive ailments. It is also very easy--which is helpful because when you are sick the last thing you want to do is stand in the kitchen and chop and measure. I know this soup looks different but it has become one of my favorites since I came here. Don't be skeptical of the mint, it is really fantastic with the savory creaminess of the soup.

Yayla Çorba

6 cups water
1 cube beef bouillon (omit for vegetarian soup)
1/2 cup rice, washed and drained
2 cups yogurt
1 egg
2 tbsp of flour
2 tbsp butter
2 tsp dry mint

*1-2 tsp of red pepper flakes


In a large pot boil the water, rice, salt and bouillon. Cook on medium high, until the rice is done.

While the rice is cooking, in a bowl, mix yogurt, egg and flour well. After the rice is cooked, take a few spoons of liquid from the pot and mix into the bowl to temper the yogurt and egg. Add the yogurt and egg mixture into the pot slowly, so the egg and yogurt does not curdle. Stir very slowly. Cook for 10 more minutes.

In a frying pan, heat the butter until it starts to spit, then add the mint, and let sit for 20-30 seconds. Do not let the mint burn. Pour the butter and mint into the soup and stir.

This soup is very quick, very easy and very tasty. Other herbs that are sometimes used in addition to, or in place of, the mint are tarragon and dill. To make the soup lighter you could use less butter or substitute olive oil for the butter.

Serves: 4-6


Friday, September 18, 2009

Chicken Broccoli with Lemon Garlic Sauce

Not much to say about this meal except that I was looking for another filling/low point dinner to make. I wish I had a real lemon, but I used what I had in the fridge which was bottled lemon juice. If I had a real lemon, I would definitely have used the zest to bring out the lemon flavor. Still, even using the bottled lemon juice, this was a good dinner.

Chicken Broccoli with Lemon Garlic Sauce

2 tsp olive oil
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into thin slices
4-5 garlic cloves
1 tsp ground thyme
3 cups broccoli florets
1 cup diced mushrooms
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
4-5 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp splenda
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
2 cups cooked brown rice

Season chicken with salt and thyme. In a large skillet heat olive oil. Add chicken. Cook on high until chicken is almost cooked through and then remove it from skillet. Add broccoli, mushrooms and garlic. Mix chicken broth, cornstarch, lemon juice, soy sauce and splenda in a small bowl. Pour over broccoli and mushrooms. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until broccoli is tender. Add back chicken, toss in sauce and gently cook until chicken is all the way done, but not overcooked.

Weight Watchers:
Points: 5 per serving
Serves: 4


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Shrimp and Vegetable Lo Mein

I had my doubts about this recipe but I'm so glad I tried it out. It is so tasty! Before Weight Watchers, I would have probably added about double or triple the amount of shrimp, but even with the scant amount it was filling because of all the veggies. I think the leftovers will be great cold tomorrow for lunch.

Shrimp and Vegetable Lo Mein

8 oz shrimp, sliced in half
6 oz spaghetti noodles
4 garlic cloves
1 tsp grated ginger
1 cup of julienned carrots
6 oz of snow peas (I didn't have this so I used frozen sweet peas)
1/2 cup bamboo shoots
1 small sweet red bell pepper
4 medium scallions thinly cut
1 1/2 tsp arrowroot powder
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tsp of sesame oil (divided in half)
1 tsp oyster sauce
1/2 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp of sugar or honey
1/4 cup chopped parsley

Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Two minutes before it's finished, add the shrimp. Drain the spaghetti and place in a large bowl that has the scallions in it (to wilt them with the heat.) Toss the noodles with 1/2 tsp of sesame oil.

While the pasta is cooking chop your veggies: Garlic, carrots & sweet red pepper. Drain and rinse your bamboo. Set veggies aside. Mix the ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl: Soy sauce, oyster sauce, rice wine vinegar, 1/2 tsp sesame oil, water and cornstarch.

After your pasta is drained and placed in a large bowl, spray the pot with cooking spray and cook your vegetables just slightly, you still want them to be crsip, about 6-8 min. Pour over sauce and continue cooking until it thickens. Toss vegetables with pasta and chopped parsley and serve. Makes about 1 3/4 cups per serving.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Spanish Chicken and Rice

John and I have joined Weight Watchers again. I'm in denial. Yes, I've agreed to the plan, and I will cook and eat and do it, but in a robot/automatic-I've-done-this-so-many-times-I-know-the- points - of- everything- by-heart, mode right now. Perhaps after I've lost 10 or so pounds I'll muster up some enthusiasm. In the meantime I don't want words of encouragement or support. That would counteract my denial. If you are a friend or family member of mine, know that I know you support me, end of story. That's the last I'll talk about that for a while. This is a Spanish Chicken and Rice recipe pulled straight from weight watchers website. I'll give it 4 stars. It was filling for the amount of points, it was easy and it tasted pretty good, although calling it Spanish requires a bit of imagination.

Spanish Chicken and Rice

1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 anonion (it called for 2 whole, but 1/2 was plenty even for someone who likes onions)
1 lb uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced
2 cups of water (next time I'll do chicken broth)
1 14.5oz can of diced tomatoes
5.5oz of rice
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/8 tsp chili powser
1/2 medium red pepper
1/2 medium green pepper (I didn't have the red, so I used 1 green*)
1/2 cup chopped celery
2/3 cup frozen green peas

Spray a large non-stick skillet with cooking spray, brown garlic, onions and chicken.

Add water, tomatoes, rice, turmeric, chili powder, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer 10 minutes. Do not bring to a boil or you chicken will be dry. Just a gentle simmer.

Add peppers and celery and simmer for 10 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Add peas and simmer until rice is tender, adjusting liquid if necessary.

*I also chopped up a zucchini because I had one on hand and my bell pepper was puny and I omitted a lot of the onion.)

Weight Watchers:
Points Value: 6 pts
Serves 4


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Amanda's Easy Chicken "Curry"

While probably not anywhere near authentic to a real Indian curry dish, this one is easy and tasty. That is if you like the flavor of curry. There are probably 1000's of different curry blends so if you had it once and didn't like it, well, try a different one! Going to a good spice store like Penzey's is always a good way to try new curries, they will have more varieties than the grocery store and you can ask the sales people for advice. This dish was made with a super mild curry, hardly any heat at all. To top it off, Maddie (20 months) practically licked her plate. Izzie (also 20 months) liked it but I think she filled up on snack and wasn't that hungry at dinner! (Oh and one more thing... this will smell up your house for a day or so, curry is strong, but not unpleasant!)

Amanda's Easy Chicken "Curry"

3 chicken breasts*
1 bell pepper
1 onion
2 carrots
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 16oz container of Greek Plain Yogurt
3 Tablespoons of Curry Powder (I actually measured!)
salt to taste
splash of chicken broth (if you have an open container in the fridge, or a bit of water)

Cube bell pepper into 1 inch pieces. Dice onion into a large dice. Cut carrots into rounds. Mince garlic. In a large skillet saute the veggies on a med-high heat until they start to get tender. Add chicken and season with salt. Cook for a minute or two. Pour in yogurt and add curry. Add just a bit of chicken broth or water to loosen the yogurt, but you want the sauce thick so don't add too much. Cover and simmer on LOW for 20-30 minutes. Pull out a cube of chicken and cut in half to make sure the chicken is done. Check salt and curry by tasting, you may want to add a bit more of either. Serve over white rice. Serves 4.

*I have done this exact same recipe with shrimp and I love it that way too!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Broccoli Cheese Potato Soup

It's been raining here in Dallas for the past few days, so when I thought about what I wanted to make for dinner tonight, a soup came to mind. Thinking about the ingredients I had on hand, I figured a broccoli-cheese and potato soup would be hearty and fit the bill. I did a (very) brief search for a recipe with these ingredients and came up with nill. Most broccoli cheese soups apparently do not have potato in them. So I took a soup recipe from Panera Bread Company and made it my own.

Broccoli Cheese Potato Soup

1/2 onion
2 tablespoons of butter
1 stalk of celery
1/4 cup of flour
2 cups of fat free half and half
2 cups of chicken stock
2 carrots
1 medium to large potato
1 big bunch of broccoli
1 cup of cheddar (I had to use a Mexican blend because it was what I had on hand, but cheddar would have been better.)

Dice onion into small pieces and saute in the butter over medium heat. Add diced celery, salt and pepper. When onion is translucent, add flour and stir/whisk for 3 minutes or so to "cook" the flour. Don't walk away or it will burn! Add all of the half and half while stirring out any lumps. Add chicken stock. Add diced carrots, chopped broccoli and potato. Simmer for 20 minutes or until potato is cooked through. With an immersion blender (or by transfering half of the soup to a blender) puree the soup, leaving it a bit chunky. Add cheese stirring it to melt in. Serves 6-8 portions, I served with a grilled cheese sandwich. Crumbled up bacon would have been delicious too!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

BBQ Chicken Pizza

My Father-in-law very generously gave us an extra chicken that he barbecued on Labor Day. It was very tasty the first day, but BBQ chicken is not one of my favorite dishes, meaning once every once in awhile is awesome, but 3 days in a row, is not ideal for me. I took half of the chicken and put it in one of my Chicken Tortilla Soups that I'm semi-famous for. It really added a tasty flavor dimension. Then the idea of a BBQ Chicken Pizza popped into my head. It's one of John's favorite specialty pizza flavors.

This pizza could be done with a roasted chicken from the oven and still be tasty but to have Tom's BBQ'd chicken it was SO good. Even the twins practically licked their plates. I also tried a new crust tonight because my food processor was dirty. I made it in my Kitchen Aide Mixer. It came out very similiar to the food processor recipe.

Barbecue Chicken Pizza

Crust: (and of course you could sub a pre-made crust)
1 cup of warm water
1 packet of Active Dry Yeast
2 1/4 - 2 1/2 cups of All Purpose Flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp olive oil (I use more)
1 tsp of sugar (I like to use honey)

In the bottom of your mixer, place the active dry yeast. Add the warm water and the honey, stir with a fork to dissolve the yeast. Let stand for about 5 minutes so your yeast "blooms" if it doesn't get bubbly then you know it is bad and will not rise. You can try this recipe if you find you don't have any good yeast on hand. Add the rest of the ingredients and using the dough hook let the machine knead for 5 minutes. Place dough in a large oiled bowl and cover. Let rise for 30-45 minutes, punching out the air at the end. (I think because it's fun.)

Pizza Toppings:
1/4 yellow or red onion, diced
1/4 bell pepper, diced
drizzle of honey
Your favorite BBQ Sauce (I used Jack Daniels Brown Sugar)
diced up left over barbecued chicken or other cooked chicken
cheese (I used what was in the fridge, mozzarella, Colby and Monterrey jack mixed)

In a small skillet saute the diced onion and bell pepper on high heat. Add the honey, this will give it a slightly sweet taste and help it caramelize. Roll out pizza dough, and put BBQ sauce across the top. Layer cheeses, chicken and cooked onions and peppers. Bake at 425 for 18-20 minutes.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Oatmeal Pancakes

These oatmeal hockey pucks (oops, I mean pancakes) are easy to make. Despite the denseness these were tasty! I was out of applesauce so I couldn't make the usual applesauce pancakes that I make the girls for breakfast. I was looking on the internet for other healthy pancake alternatives and I came across this body-builder oatmeal pancake. I tweaked it bit and it is pretty good. I love having healthy pancakes/waffles on hand and I'm not buying Eggos. I can feel good about the pancakes I serve because they aren't empty carbs. They have whole grains, proteins (egg), omega-3's and dairy all in one hearty breakfast!

Oatmeal Pancakes

1 cup of quick cooking oats
3/4 cup quick cooking oats, ground into powder
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup milk
3 eggs
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup honey
1 tbsp flax oil (has omega-3's)

Mix all ingredients dry ingredients. In a separate bowl whisk eggs. Add milk, flax oil and honey to the eggs and whisk together. Add wet to dry, stirring just to incorporate. Cook on a griddle adjusting temperature as you go. The honey will burn quickly so, you don't want to go too hot. Cool on a rack, freeze and toast for breakfast.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Delicious Drop Biscuits -4 Ways

This afternoon the family is getting together for a Labor Day Bar-b-q. I was asked to bring the bread. I immediately thought of these easy to make, simple drop biscuits. I almost always have all of the ingredients on hand. The original recipe is from the Betty Crocker Bridal edition cookbook that my father-in-law gave to me for a wedding present. I've condensed it here.

Drop Biscuits - 4 Ways
2 cups of all purpose flour (I've also used White-Wheat)
1 tablespoon of sugar
3 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1/2 cup lard (non-hydrogenated) or butter, cold (you can also do half and half lard & butter)
1 cup of milk

Pre-heat oven to 450º.
Pulse all dry ingredients in a food processor. Cut the lard or butter into cubes and add to dry ingredients. Pulse a few more times. Turn on processor and add milk. Do not over mix. The dough will be very sticky. With a large spoon drop about 12-14 biscuits on a cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes.

Green Onion & Cheddar Cheese:
Add about 3-4 green onions that have been sliced & about 1/2 cup of grated cheddar cheese when you add the shortening.

Pesto Biscuits:
Decrease lard/butter to 1/3 cup. Decrease salt to 1/2 teaspoon. Add 1/4 cup of pesto when you add the lard/butter. Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top before baking if desired.

Olive Biscuits:
Add 1/2 cup chopped olives to original mix.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Beef & Peppers over Rice

I must have a short attention span (que laughing from my friends and family) because I plated this dish up all pretty, then I turned to give the twins their plates turned back around and started eating. Totally forgetting to take a photo. So, I grabbed my camera and took a picture of the dish all stirred up.

Beef & Peppers over Rice

1 cup of brown rice
1 cup of beef broth
1 cup of water

10 oz London Broil beef
1/2 bell pepper
1/2 large onion
2 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp oil (split)
2 banana peppers (or any other peppers you want to use)
1/2 tsp ground thyme or 1 tsp dried flakes of thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese

Prepare rice according to package. I like to use broth with rice instead of all water, but I think if you use all beef broth it gets too salty, so I do half and half.

Slice your onions, peppers and garlic. In a large wok (or other large skillet) heat 1 tbsp of oil over high heat. Cook the onions and peppers until they start to brown on the edges. Add salt, pepper, thyme and oregano. Remove from skillet. Slice beef into very thin slices going against the grain. Get wok really hot and add second tablespoon of oil. Spread the meat around the wok, and don't mess with it. Let it brown, then flip it around to get the other side. Lower heat, add veggies back and Worcestershire sauce. Serve over rice, putting grated cheddar cheese on top. Serves 4.

For my toddlers I minced pulled out some of the beef and bell peppers and minced them up really small, and put over the rice and cheese. They seemed to enjoy it!

Saturday, September 5, 2009


Nothing new with this, but it is an idea for those Mom's who are packing lunches. You can make these ahead of time, wrap them in foil* and send them to school. Mini-Pizzas. Traditionally made on English Muffins, I have found a NEW product that I love. Well, okay, actually my Mom found them. Oroweat Sandwich Thins. These make the perfect kid size pizza! Mini Pizzas also are a good way to hide a veggie or two. Also, think of the possibilities with these! You can do something similar to the Cheesy Beany Sticks but make Mexican Pizzas, You can spread some cream cheese and sprinkle with fruit, etc. Use your imagination and if you come up with another great idea, leave a comment!

Oh, and I promise to put some grown-up food on here soon. I've been sort of stuck in a rut, focused on toddler foods. I went to Sprouts (local market) the other day and now I have a fridge full of ideas!


1 Oroweat sandwich half
1 spoolful of spaghetti sauce or pizza sauce
1 minced up mushroom to hide
2 tablespoons or so of grated cheese
a few pieces of ham sandwich meat

Assemble ingredients on sandwich half, starting with sauce, then mushrooms under the cheese followed by the meat. Toast in toaster oven for one cycle. Serve or wrap in foil.

*Foil hint: When I used to pack my own lunches and I took something hot, I would wrap the item in plastic wrap followed by a paper towel or two and then foil. This helped keep it insulated and warm longer. Although these pizzas would be fine room temp!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Cheesy-Beany Sticks (Snack)

Here is a easy, nutritious snack for all the toddlers and little ones out there. (It isn't too bad for an adult either!)

Cheesy-Beany Sticks

1 piece of bread per kid
refried beans (or leftover beans pureed in the Magic Bullet.)
sprinkle of shredded mexican blend of cheese

Spread beans on bread, sprinkle cheese on top and toast. Cut into sticks and serve!

Izzie. Not the best food model, since the cheesy side is pointed away from the camera, but since she's not even two yet, we'll forgive let it slide.

Maddie, dived right in!

Quick Pantry Casserole

Even someone who loves to cook sometimes gets stuck. Last night I defrosted a dinner for ourselves that I cooked months ago and froze. It didn't freeze well. I'm not sure why, it was a chicken/lemon/spinach dish but the chicken was a weird texture. It wasn't dated so perhaps it was just in the freezer too long. Date your freezer food!!!

Anyway, it was "hungry" time and my planned out dinner wasn't working. I was boiling pasta (that I thought I was going to serve with the chicken/lemon/spinach dish); so I came up with a super quick pantry casserole. Sorry, no photo because at the time I was just trying to get dinner on the table as fast as possible!

Quick Pantry Casserole

6-8 oz pasta (I used fettuccine)
1 small can of peas
1 can of canned turkey or chicken meat
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
1/2 tsp thyme
dash of garlic powder
3/4 cup of bread crumbs (I'm in love with Panko Bread Crumbs!)
2 tbsp butter
1/8 cup Parmesan cheese

Boil Pasta. Open can of turkey or chicken meat and drain and rinse thoroughly to get rid of the "canned" taste. Put in a 9x9 casserole dish and break up with a fork. Add condensed soup, and seasonings. Mix together really well. Add about half the can of peas (frozen would work too, but heat them in the microwave.) When pasta is done, drain and mix in with the soup, meat and peas. In a small bowl, melt the butter. Add the bread crumbs and Parmesan. Layer the breadcrumbs on top and broil on high until browned.

Do not add salt to this dish, believe me with all the canned products and the Parmesan cheese it is salty enough! I wouldn't eat this way every night, but it was a quick and easy last minute supper. Serve with a side salad and you are set to go! Serves 4.
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