Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Things will be changing around here

There was a time when I cooked somewhat healthy but especially this past year I've been tired and unfocused which has led to me cooking way too many splurge meals and way too few healthy recipes. It's time to buckle down again which shouldn't be too much of a problem - I have plenty of health-conscious cookbooks and recipes to choose from in my collection.

But first, before I can make anything new and exciting, we are finishing up the leftovers from the cookout this past weekend. Tonight I am taking some of the leftover tortilla chips and salsa, onions (that were sliced and diced for burger and hot dogs), cheese (from the cheese tray) and browned ground beef (from the leftover burgers that weren't grilled) and making a variation of Jamie’s Mexican Chicken and Tortilla Casserole. In the comments, Noel mentioned she used ground beef and that sounded really good to me. It will be decidedly unhealthy but unfortunately after spending a small fortune on the cookout I am forced to stretch out the leftovers as long as I can. I'm balancing it out by eating the healthier leftovers for the rest of my meals.

Question of the Day: How has your eating been lately?

Monday, June 29, 2009

The party's over - now what?

Red Potato and Green Bean Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette
from epicurious.com

8 ounces green beans, trimmed, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
3 pounds small red-skinned potatoes, unpeeled, halved
2 tablespoons dry vermouth I used more white wine vinegar in place of the vermouth
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 large shallot, chopped
1 tablespoon coarse-grained Dijon mustard
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil I used canola oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Cook beans in large saucepan of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, 4 minutes. Drain. Transfer to bowl of ice water. Drain; pat dry with paper towels.
Cook potatoes in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, about 12 minutes. Drain; transfer to large bowl. Sprinkle vermouth over hot potatoes; toss gently and let stand 5 minutes. Whisk vinegar, shallot, and mustard in small bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Pour over potatoes and toss to coat. Cool completely. Mix in green beans and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.) Serve cold or at room temperature.

I've started to shy away from making new recipes for my big cookout (too many dissapointments over the years) but I did sneak in a couple of them. This potato and green bean salad wasn't bad. I'm not a huge fan of crisp tender green beans but they were okay - it was the potatoes that I really liked. It was mild tasting yet flavorful. I used canola oil because I forgot to buy olive oil so I lost some flavor there. I thought for sure I would have to add more dressing but I didn't. I didn't get any feedback on it but that happens when you have a table loaded full of food.

The final menu was:

Garlic ring bologna and Sweet and Tangy Mustard (I had half a can of sweetened condensed milk from making the peppermint patties last week so I made half a batch of mustard)

Cheese and crackers

tortilla chips and salsa

Good Health Natural Foods garlic olive-oil potato chips (these are so good and the customer service is excellent on their website.)

regular chips

chili-cheese dip with tortilla chips (DH's aunt brought that - very good, very spicy)

black bean corn salsa with chips (a guest brought this)

burgers (made my own this year and they didn't fall apart - scored $1.69/lb ground beef too)

hot dogs (Hebrew National)

chicken sausages with jalapenos and pepper jack (from Costco)

pulled pork - I made this ahead of time and reheated it in the oven. It went over very, very well.

Bar-B-Q Baked Beans - since I had the oven going I baked these in the oven as the recipe directs even though I usually throw them in the crockpot.

pasta salad (two - I made one and a friend brought one)

Aunt Nancy's coleslaw

Red Potato and Green Bean Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette

Deviled Eggs - I forgot to put these out so I walked around and served them after the cake, when I finally remembered them.

Toppings for the burgers and hot dogs including Easy Dill Pickles which got several compliments (I sliced them into rounds for the burgers).

Fruit salad

Sugar cookies

Oat-Fashioned Strawberry Dessert - this was one of the hits of the day

Chocolate Fudge Cake with Easy Buttercream - This cake is always great. I will probably never make another chocolate cake recipe. The decorating was very sloppy though. I was rushed.

Yellow Cream Cupcakes - I thought these were dry but the baby ate an entire cupcake and my older son has eaten more of these than I care to admit (I've been too tired to stop him).

Plus drinks.

The weather was gorgeous and everyone seemed to have a lot of fun. It's a lot of work but I love doing it. I don't know what to do with myself now.

Question of the Day: Do you like to cook for crowds? I actually prefer it to cooking for a small group.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Bake sale follow-up

I wanted to let you know that the peppermint patties were one of the first things to go. Word must have gotten around too since when I worked my shift a woman came asking for two big peppermint patties but they were long gone by then. I also made Raspberry Kisses since I thought the table needed something besides chocolate. They sold early as well.

It was probably mainly a presentation thing. I used cellophane bags and silver bag ties which only cost less than 10 cents each for me (hey, it's a donation). Much prettier than a ziploc. Also, my items stood out among the many, many, MANY, brownies on the table. Some were square, some were in muffin cups, some were in mini muffin cups, some had peanut butter, some had walnuts, but most of the other offerings were some type of brownie. There were also chocolate cupcakes, chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal scotchies, revel bars and peanut butter no-bakes but besides those and what I made I think everything else was a brownie of some sort. Yes, brownies are popular but more variety would have been nice. The only non-chocolate items were the oatmeal scotchies and the raspberry kisses. We did okay but we had plenty of leftovers.

Funny thing - we were set up right outside a meeting room and there was a Weight Watchers meeting in that room. We got some dirty looks.

Monday, June 22, 2009

For the bake sale

Peppermint Patties
The Ugly Binder

Mix together:
1 1/2 lbs confectioners' sugar
1 stick (4 oz) butter melted
1/2 can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk
2 Tbsps corn syrup
1 Tbsp peppermint extract

Shape into balls and flatten onto wax paper. Refrigerate until firm.

12 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 ounce paraffin

Dip patties into chocolate and chill until coating is firm.

***Edited 11/16/2011
I've made these many times since the first time and I switched to using Candiquick or melts, not because I'm afraid of eating wax but because it's just easier and the results are better (those products set up quicker and more reliably).

I made 14 very large patties.

I said I wasn't going to make a new recipe for the bake sale but I got it in my head that I wanted to make peppermint patties. When I was in the hospital after having Dan someone brought me a handmade peppermint patty from the gift shop and it was so good, I've been wanting to try my hand at making them ever since.

I had copied an Easter egg recipe from somewhere and modified it to make the peppermint patties.

I made them rather large and although my chocolate dipping skills are lacking, they didn't look too bad (on the topsides at least) and they were definitely what I was looking for as far as taste goes.

We'll see how they sell. The bake sale is tomorrow. I think I'm going to add these to my Christmas goodie list.

This might be it for the week. I have so much to do by Saturday.

Question of the Day: Do you like Peppermint Patties?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Very much in love with ground chicken

Chicken-Cheese Burgers
From myrecipes.com

1 pound skinned and boned chicken breasts, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 pound skinned and boned chicken thighs, cut into 2-inch pieces
I used ground chicken
1 large egg, lightly beaten
10 saltine crackers, finely crushed
3 to 4 green onions, sliced (about 1/2 cup)
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon fresh or dried rosemary
3/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
8 mozzarella cheese slices
8 onion buns, split I used plain buns
Tomato slices I didn't have these
Lemon Mayonnaise
Lettuce leaves I didn't have these

Process chicken in a food processor until consistency of ground beef; spoon into a large bowl.

Add egg and next 6 ingredients to ground chicken in bowl; stir until blended. Shape chicken mixture into 8 patties (about 6 ounces each). Chill 30 minutes or until firm. I made them in the morning and chilled them all day.

Cook chicken patties, in batches, in a lightly greased nonstick skillet over medium-high heat 5 to 7 minutes on each side or until done. I used my Griddler. Top each patty with 1 cheese slice. Cover and cook 1 minute or until cheese melts.

Top bottom halves of buns with tomato slices. Spread Lemon Mayonnaise evenly on tomato slices. Top with chicken patties and lettuce, and cover with tops of buns.

Lemon Mayonnaise

1 cup light mayonnaise I used real mayo
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Stir together all ingredients. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

What is it about ground chicken? It never fails me. These burgers were so good. They had a mild sausage-like flavor. The lemon mayonnaise was very nice but these were versatile enough that you could use whatever condiment you like on these. My husband chose steak sauce which wouldn't be on my list but whatever floats your boat.

I will add this recipe to my list of ground chicken recipes. There's not a bad recipe in the bunch.

I'm tired and overwhelmed getting ready for our cookout next week. The weather forecast is scattered thunderstorms so far. I know that means nothing right now - they can't get the weather forecast right on the daily forecast here nevermind the 10day - but I worry. All I want is a nice day, mostly for my son who doesn't know it but some of his school friends are coming.

Question of the Day: What is your favorite cookout food?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Still on recipe hiatus

I just had to tell everyone how excited my husband was to see Zesty Fish Stick Tacos on the menu for dinner last night. Who knew something like this would be such a big hit around here? My picky son even ate a fish stick. He's getting so ridiculously picky about some things. He used to scarf down green beans and corn and lately you'd swear I was asking him to eat boiled spinach if I ask him to eat either of those things. What's that all about? From love to hate?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Following in Mommy's footsteps?

No recipe today.

This is the baby playing with the toy kitchen. It's one of his favorite things to play with. He likes to throw everything off of it and then tear off the refrigerator door. I bought this for my older son a couple of years ago. It's rather sturdy for a $39.99 supermarket toy. I used to clean it up every night but lately I just let it go since he will only start the next day by messing it all up. Luckily he can't get the lid off of that tub of play foods.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Squeezing in a batch of cookies

Chocolate Chunk-Mocha Cookies
Southern Living Annual Recipes 2007 Copyright 2007

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 (11.5-oz.) package semisweet chocolate chunks I used chocolate chips
Mocha Frosting
Powdered sugar (optional)

1. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients in a bowl.

2. Beat butter and next 3 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Gradually add flour mixture, beating at low speed until blended. Stir in chocolate chunks.

3. Drop dough by heaping tablespoonfuls onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets.

4. Bake at 350° for 10 to 12 minutes or until puffy. Cool on baking sheets 2 minutes; remove to wire racks, and let cool 30 minutes or until completely cool. Spread cookies with Mocha Frosting. Dust evenly with powdered sugar, if desired.

Note: Dough may be frozen up to 1 month or refrigerated up to 2 days. Let stand at room temperature before baking as directed.

Mocha Frosting

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 cup hot strong brewed coffee
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
I would add a pinch of salt next time

1. Stir together first 4 ingredients until smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar, stirring until creamy.

It's crunch time. We're having a cookout/1st birthday party for the baby in less than 2 weeks and there is much work to be done. What the hell was I doing making cookies?

These were noted as having the highest rating by the Southern Living testers which is usually a good indication of a great recipe. While I did enjoy these a lot, I'm not sure that they were worthy of the highest ratings. I did have to use chocolate chips which may have made a difference but I don't see why it would. I thought the frosting could have used a touch of salt. That might have made a big difference because I thought they were too sweet the way they were. You don't need the frosting though - they would be fine without it.

To be clear - they were really good, just not 'oh my God' good.

So the next two weeks may be spotty. This week I'm mainly relying on easy reruns such as Zesty Fish Stick Tacos, simple non-recipe meals like pork and sauerkraut, and stuff pulled out of the freezer like Italian Jambalaya (I just have to cook and add the orzo).

Question of the Day: Do you prefer cookies frosted or unfrosted?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Taking liberties

Garden Chicken Sauté
Pillsbury: The Best of Classic Cookbooks Copyright 1998

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 whole chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes I used 2
2 garlic cloves, minced I was lazy and used a sprinkle of garlic powder
2 cups water I used 2 1/2 cups water, about 1/2 cup teriyaki sauce
2 (3-oz) packages chicken-flavor ramen noodle soup mix I used 3
2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning I omitted this
1 cup baby carrots, cut lengthwise
2 cups sliced zucchini

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat and add chicken and garlic; cook and stir 4 to 5 minutes or until browned.

Stir in 2 cups water, seasoning packets from soup mixes, Italian seasoning and carrots. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and cook 6-7 minutes or until carrots are crisp-tender. I added the zucchini with the carrots - probably should have waited.

Gently break each block of noodles in half; add noodles and zucchini to skillet. Bring to a boil and boil uncovered, 5 to 6 minutes or until zucchini is tender and noodles are cooked. Stir occasionally to make sure noodles absorb liquid, separating them as they soften.

I planned to make this recipe as written and I'm sure it would have been very good that way. However, I messed up and made the garlic breadsticks I was supposed to make with this earlier in the week and I couldn't think of anything to serve with this. I thought egg rolls but even though it had ramen noodles, this wasn't very 'Asian'. I decided I would make it Asian. I just left out the Italian seasoning and used teriyaki sauce in place of some of the water. I also added another chicken breast and another packet of noodles, along with another cup of liquid (I only added two seasoning packets and I probably could have only used one.)

This was a nice simple, not very expensive meal. It calls for very little chicken (I did add more). I offered my son SpaghettiOs since this only had two chicken breasts and sometimes he will only end up eating the chicken in something like this. When I went to put away the small bit of leftovers, he asked for them and he ate the chicken and most of the noodles. Then he asked me to make it again tomorrow!

I will make it again (not right away but at some point in the future). I might vary the vegetables. I can think of lots of other vegetables that would work here - mushrooms, broccoli, green onion, celery, baby corn.

Question of the Day: Do you like ramen noodles?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Poor planning this week

Things are pretty busy around here which must be the reason why I didn't plan many new recipes this week and I didn't even realize it. I do have one more recipe I'll probably post Friday but that's probably it for this week. Last night we had Venison in Sauce for about the fourth time (it's my go-to venison recipe now - we all love it and I really need to get a better picture of it). Tonight I'm making grilled Reubens - I picked up a corned beef marked down and I have a bottle of sauerkraut in the pantry that I bought at a farmer's market back in April. I love Reubens - I can't wait.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

He liked it! He liked it!

Skillet Sausage 'n' Rice
Southern Living Annual Recipes 2006 Copyright 2006

1 (16-oz.) package smoked sausage
1 medium-size green bell pepper, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup chicken broth I used 2.5 cups
2 (3.5-oz.) bags quick-cooking brown rice I used Success Rice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Garnish: chopped fresh parsley (optional)

1. Cut sausage into 1/2-inch slices. Sauté in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove sausage slices, and drain on paper towels, reserving 1 Tbsp. drippings in skillet.
2. Add bell pepper, onion, and garlic to skillet, and sauté over medium-high heat 4 minutes or until tender. Add chicken broth, stirring to loosen particles from bottom of skillet, and bring to a boil. Remove rice from cooking bag; add rice, sausage, salt, and pepper to skillet. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook 5 minutes or until rice is tender. Garnish, if desired.

I think I used the wrong rice for this recipe. I used Success brown rice. The recipe doesn't mention precooking the rice but 1 cup of broth wasn't going to cook 2 bags of brown rice! I added about another 1 1/2 cups and it was fine.

I was very surprised that my son scarfed this down. He used to love rice, mainly with tomato sauce, but lately he hasn't been that into rice, even with tomato sauce. This was brown rice so maybe that made a difference. I have no idea but I was shocked to see him empty his plate, especially with all of those peppers and onions mixed in there (I always chop my vegetables very finely for recipes like this).

I still haven't decided to make for the bake sale. I'd like it to be something I've made before and something that doesn't need refrigeration. People have already signed up for brownies and chocolate chip cookies.

Question of the Day: Have you made anything from my blog that I could sell at the bake sale? What was it?

Monday, June 08, 2009

A life lesson

Bert's Best Blueberry Bars
C is for Cooking Copyright 2007

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 stick of butter or margarine softened
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 pint (2 cups) blueberries.

Preheat the oven to 350. Line a 13 x 9 baking pan with aluminum foil. Spray the foil with nonstick spray.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.In a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat together the brown sugar, granulated sugar, and butter. Beat in the oil, eggs, and vanilla. With a wooden spoon, mix in the flour mixture until blended. Stir in the oats and blueberries. Use a rubber spatula to spread the batter evenly in the pan.

Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. I baked them about 10 minutes longer. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Cut into 24 bar cookies.

There are some tough life lessons that children eventually learn. Adults can be mean. Santa Claus isn't real. Pets die. People die.

But perhaps the harshest lesson of all is one that my son learned this weekend - sometimes the finished product doesn't look anything like the picture in the cookbook.

My son was so excited when this cookbook arrived. While he grew out of Sesame Street a while ago, he has been reintroduced to it due to his little brother's arrival. Which is perfect - he is getting much more out of it educationally now than he was before.

This is the recipe he was most fixated on in this cookbook. The picture was beautiful- too beautiful. I knew something was off with the picture - it looks more like slices from a loaf pan rather than bars from a 9x13-inch pan but it was hard to tell due to the angle. The slices showed perfectly round dissected blueberries. Now come on, how did they get the blueberries not to explode when the bars were baked? It didn't help our version that the blueberries I bought were mutants - almost the size of small grapes. The bars weren't pretty. The blueberries were mushy. My son immediately said 'huh? These don't look like the picture.' and he ran over to the cookbook.

Ah, the loss of innocence.

They were pretty good, taste-wise. Butter, oats, and brown sugar make a fine team. These may have been an asthetic failure but they will get eaten.

This is a cute cookbook and there is a lot of emphasis on healthy eating. While there are a lot of good-looking sparkly kids cookbooks on the market, this one has some of the better recipes (even if they don't end up looking like the pictures in the book).

Question of the Day: What is something you made that looked nothing like the picture in the cookbook?

Friday, June 05, 2009

Slacking off again/random thoughts

I had another recipe planned for this week but I ended up going in a different direction with dinner last night and it didn't involve a recipe.

I've been on a good run with cooking and I hope it continues. We've had a lot of hits lately.

My grocery bill has been creeping up again. A large reason for that is that I'm excited about cooking and trying new recipes right now. Blogging and my cookbook addiction has its highs and lows and I'm sort of on a high right now. Probably because I'm stressed out about a lot of things and my cookbooks are an escape.

I'm getting swamped with cookbooks again. I think I need a bigger house.

I need to find some sort of farmer's market I can hit on Saturdays. I just haven't felt like going up to auction on Friday nights. I'm sure there are some farm markets that I don't know about hiding around here somewhere.

I'll be back on Monday.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Good stuff

Jamie’s Mexican Chicken and Tortilla Casserole
Paula Deen’s The Deen Family Cookbook Copyright 2009

One 16-ounce jar salsa (2 cups)
1 cup chicken broth
One 6-to-7-ounce bag tortilla chips
3 cups chopped cooked chicken
1 small onion, thinly sliced
3 cups (3/4 pound) grated Montery Jack, or pepper jack

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Combine the salsa and broth in a blender and process until smooth. In a large bowl, toss the tortilla chips with 2 ½ cups of the salsa mixture. In a separate bowl, toss the chicken with the remaining ½ cup salsa mixture.

2. In a greased 13x9-inch baking dish, layer one third of the chips, followed by half of the chicken, half of the sliced onion, and one third of the cheese. Repeat. Top with the remaining chips and cheese. Cover with foil and bake on the middle rack for 30 minutes or until heated through and the cheese is melting. Serve hot.

We were in kind of a rush last night when I made this. I didn't want to make it ahead of time, even though it was probably safe to do that. If I had topped this with sour cream and green onions it would have looked a lot more enticing but neither of those items was needed. This recipe even elicited a comment from my husband - 'This is good stuff.' I have to wholeheartedly agree. I loved the crunch of the (sweet onions) but if you aren't an onion lover, leave them out.

I used a medium salsa but this was still quite mild. Next time I may try a hot salsa or some jack cheese to up the heat factor a bit.

A lot of people have been talking about migas lately and this sort of reminds me of that, in the way that the tortillas soften up in the salsa mixture. Like my husband said, this is good stuff. This will be making many more appearances on our table.

I have to admit I bought this cookbook specifically for this recipe even though it was simple enough that I could have memorized it in the store (my sister will actually jot down recipes right in the store). I have an illness, remember. I'm sure I will make something else out of this book. I do question whether or not these recipes are all actually from Paula Deen's family but they seem like good recipes so it really doesn't matter. She has very generously spread the wealth and recognition throughout her family. She is either very nice or very smart. You probably won't see her family and old friends blabbing anything to the tabloids about her (not that they'd have anything to say). She even had her ex-husband on her show.

Question of the Day: Do you grate your own cheese or buy the preshredded variety?

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

On a roll with thighs

Oven-Fried Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Thighs
Southern Living Annual Recipes 2006 Copyright 2006
also on myrecipe.com

8 bacon slices
8 skinned and boned chicken thighs
1 cup cornmeal*
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon black pepper

Arrange bacon slices on paper towels on a microwave-safe plate in microwave oven. Top with paper towel. Microwave at HIGH 30 seconds to 1 minute or just until bacon is limp and heated through. (Do not fully cook bacon.)

Wrap each chicken thigh with a piece of bacon; secure with a wooden pick, if desired.

Combine cornmeal and next 3 ingredients in a bowl. Dredge chicken in cornmeal mixture. Arrange on a wire rack coated with cooking spray in a lightly greased broiler or roasting pan.

Bake at 350º for 50 minutes to 1 hour or until chicken is done.

*Cornmeal mix may be substituted for cornmeal.

Since I stocked up on boneless, skinless chicken thighs at Costco I've been finding chicken thigh recipes left and right. This was a simple but flavorful recipe. I really liked the cornmeal coating.

So, I have another bake sale coming up. What to make? Last time I made (boxed) red velvet cupcakes with canned frosting and Pineapple Gooey Butter Cakes. Both sold well but I'd like to do something different this time. I have great brownie recipes but it seems as if everyone always wants to sign up for brownies. As usual, I'm taking suggestions. So far I am thinking maybe squares of Chocolate Fudge Cake. Cupcakes are cute but I find slices of cake to be so much yummier.

I almost forgot - are any of my readers from Pennsylvania? I started a new blog based on another hobby of mine - family fun accessible from my area of PA. It's called The Central PA Family Fun Report and I'm looking for ideas and readers. If you have any ideas of places we can visit, let me know. If you know of anyone who is looking for family activity information in PA, please pass the link along.

Question of the Day: Is cornmeal a staple in your house?

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Delicious and easy stew

Hobo Meatball Stew
Taste of Home Summer Slow Cooker Meals Copyright 2009 (Magazine)

1 pound ground beef
1-1/2 teaspoons salt or salt-free seasoning blend, divided
1/2 teaspoon pepper, divided
4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks I used Klondike Rose potatoes and did not peel them
4 medium carrots, cut into chunks
1 large onion, cut into chunks
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup ketchup
1-1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dried basil

In a bowl, combine the beef, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Shape into 1-in. balls. In a skillet over medium heat, brown meatballs on all sides; drain.

Place the potatoes, carrots and onion in a 3-qt. slow cooker; top with meatballs. Combine the water, ketchup, vinegar, basil, and remaining salt and pepper; pour over meatballs. Cover and cook on high for 4-5 hours or until the vegetables are tender.

Yield: 4 servings.

I usually try to resist buying these magazine-type cookbooks but I picked this one up at a discount in Costco. I have many slow cooker cookbooks but it's still hard to come by good slow cooker recipes. This magazine looked promising and this first recipe was all that I had hoped it would be and more.

I'm not usually a fan of meat-only meatballs but these turned out fine. I probably would add some bread or breadcrumbs next time I make this. It stretches out the meat a bit but it also just makes a more tender meatball, in my opinion. But like I said, these weren't bad. My son ate them with no prompting and without asking for spaghetti sauce or ketchup or anything!

I loved the vegetables and the sauce this made. The sauce was just right - not too ketchupy if you don't like ketchup. The vegetables came out perfectly. I used Klondike Rose potatoes for the first time and they were sooooooo good. I had never heard of them but my husband's grandmother ended up with them by accident and she only likes white potatoes (pickiest woman ever!) and she gave them to me. Their flavor was great but I especially liked the texture. They were creamy but they didn't fall apart or lose their skins in the stew, even after reheating it (I made this ahead of time, of course).

P.S. I am still finding old posts where Blogger has dropped tags. I'm not sure if these pop up in your readers when I fix and republish them but if they do, that is the reason.

Question of the Day: Have you discovered anything new in food lately?

Monday, June 01, 2009

I didn't bake anything new this weekend

I usually blog about my weekend baking on Mondays but it was a busy weekend so no new recipe today. I did need to bake something for my husband to take somewhere and I picked Glazed Chocolate Chip Brownies. I think this recipe is my son's favorite (especially when I sprinkle Sixlets over the top of them before the glaze sets).

I'll be back tomorrow.