Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Dry beans are a super economical way to stretch your food budget. For years, i did not know how to make beans from scratch and just always bought them canned. I thought I would pass on the info for those who may be like me!

The night before you want to serve the beans, put your dried beans into a big bowl(or into your empty crock pot) and cover with water. Make sure there is about 3 inches of water above the beans.. maybe a bit more. Leave them soaking on the counter over night. The soaking helps break down enzymes in the beans that are hard for us to digest. I have left my beans soaking up to 2 days.

In the morning, drain the bowl of beans, and rinse a couple times. Throw the beans into your crock pot, and cover with water. At this point you will also want to season your beans. If your beans are for a Mexican dish (refried?) You would add cumin, garlic, red pepper, adobo, salt etc. I don't measure.. just dump! If you were cooking beans for an Italian dish, you might add basil, oregano, pepper, salt. Season to your tastes and preferences.

Put your crock pot on low and cook allllll day. At dinner time, you will have a nice steamy bunch o cooked beans.

I cook up a crock of beans each week and we eat them all week. At breakfast with eggs and tortillas, in soups at lunch, with cornbread, with chicken, refried... the possibilities are endless!

We also refry the beans.. Just dump some in a frying pan with some of the cooking liquid from the crock pot. turn on the heat, and mash with a potato masher. Season to taste. SOOO MUCH better than canned.

If you have leftover beans you can can them with a pressure canner. I process mine for 90 minutes at 15psi but you should check for your elevation. :) Enjoy!

Corn Bread

This corn bread is so good, we fight over who gets the last piece. It is light and fluffy and super yummy.

2 cups Bisquick baking mix
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Stir together dry ingredients. Add the remaining ingredients. Blend until the mixture is smooth. Pour into a greased 8-inch square baking pan and bake for 30 minutes.

VOILA! You can make mix up ahead of time and store in an airtight container. Use 3 cups of mix with 2 eggs, 1 c. milk and 1/2 c. melted butter..

Monday, March 16, 2009

Sausage Vegetable Soup

Another family favorite, we just serve it to the kids with almost no broth, and cut the sausage slices into quarters. The turkey sausage looks like kielbasa, but it's turkey!

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 5 minutes

1 14 1/2-ounce can beef broth
1 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes with Italian herbs
1 1/2 cups water
2 cups frozen loose-pack diced hash brown potatoes
1 10-ounce package frozen mixed vegetables
1/2 pound smoked turkey sausage, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2 inch thick pieces
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

1. In a large saucepan combine beef broth, undrained tomatoes and water. Bring to boiling. Stir in hash brown potatoes, mixed vegetables, sausage and pepper. Return to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

2. Ladle into soup bowls. If desired, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Makes 4 servings. (6 weight watchers points)

Greek Pasta Skillet

Now that I'm a stay at home to my two crazy kids, any dinner I make has to be quick (less than half an hour), healthy (or healthy-ish) and be kid friendly. This is one of our family favorites!

Only 8 points if you're doing weight watchers.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes

3/4 pound ground lamb or ground beef (we use ground turkey)
1 medium onion chopped (1/2 cup)
1 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 5 1/2-ounce can tomato juice
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon instant beef bouillon granules
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup packaged dried medium shell or elbow macaroni
1 cup frozen loose-pack cut green beans
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (2 ounces)

1. In a large skillet cook ground lamb or beef and onion until meat is no longer pink. Drain off fat. Stir in undrained tomatoes, tomato juice, water, bouillon granules, cinnamon, and garlic powder. Bring to boiling.

2. Stir uncooked macaroni and green beans into meat mixture. Return to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer about 15 minutes or until macaroni and green beans are tender. Sprinkle with feta cheese. Makes four servings.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Chicken Enchiladas

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 50 minutes


4 portions chicken breast (about 1 lb.)
4 green onions, sliced
2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
1 Jalapeno, seeded & minced
3 cans (10 oz each) green enchilada sauce
8 corn tortillas
1 cup cheese, shredded
2 cups lettuce, shredded
1/2 cup salsa
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tomato, diced
1 can (2 oz) ripe olives, sliced


1. Preheat oven to 350. Lightly coat a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray.

2. Place chicken breasts in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until no longer pink in the center, about 15 minutes. Drain and let cool slightly. Shred cooked chicken by pulling apart with 2 forks; set aside.

3. Lightly coat a large skillet with cooking spray and place over medium high heat. Add green onion, cilantro & jalapeno; saute for 2 minutes. Add shredded chicken & 1 can of enchilada sauce. Cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 5 minutes.

4. Pour the 2 remaining cans of enchilada sauce in a medium bowl and microwave until warm, about 2 minutes. Dip each tortilla in the heated sauce and fill with about 1/8 of the chicken mixture. Roll up and place, seam side down, in prepared baking dish.

5. Pour remaining heated sauce over enchiladas and sprinkle with cheese. Bake until enchiladas are heated through and the cheese is melted, about 15 minutes.

6. Top with desired toppings lettuce, tomato, olives, salsa, & sour cream. Serve & enjoy!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Mexican Lasagna

Being a half mexican family, we love to eat mexican food. We are also in love with Italian food after our stay there, so what could be better than noodles and mexican flavor??

12 uncooked lasagna noodles
2 cans condensed cream of chicken soup
8 oz. sour cream
1/4 c milk
1 1/4 t cumin
1/2 t garlic powder
3 c cubed cooked chicken
1 can (4.5 oz.) chopped green chilies, undrained
1/2 c sliced green onions (approx. 9)
1.2 c fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped
3 c shredded mexican style cheese blend (I use whatever cheese i have on hand... cheddar, jack, pepper jack etc. I am too cheap to buy preshredded), 12 oz.
1 large red bell pepper
1 small can sliced black olives

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray bottom and sides of 13 x 9 inch glass baking dish with cookin spray. Cook and drain noodles according to package directions.

In a large bowl, mix soup, sour cream, milk, cumin, garlic powder, chicken, chilies.

Spread about 1 1/4 c of chicken mixture in baking dish. Top with 4 noodles. Spread 1 1/4 c chicken mixture over noodles. Sprinkle with onions, cilantro and 1 c. of cheese.

Top with 4 noodles. Spread 1 1/4 c chicken mixture over noodles. Sprinkle bell peppers and olives. Sprinkle with 1 c. cheese. Top with 4 noodles. Spread with remaining chicken mixture.

Bake uncovered for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake 15 to 30 minutes longer or until bubbly and hot in center. Sprinkle with additional cilantro. Let stand for 15 min. before cutting.

Serves 8

Friday, March 6, 2009

Harvest Vegetable and Rice Soup

  • 2 cans vegetable broth
  • 1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 3 med. carrots, chopped
  • 3 small zucchini, chopped
  • 1 med. yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 8 med. green onions, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 c. shredded cabbage
  • 2 t dried marjoram leaves
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/4 t pepper
  • 1 c. uncooked instant rice
  • 1/4 c chopped fresh basil leaves

Mix all ingredients except rice and basil in slow cooker. Cover and cook on low heat setting for 6 to 8 hours or vegetables are tender. Stir in rice. Cover and cook on low heat setting about 15 minutes or until rice is tender. Stir in basil.

Serves 7

Susie's Zucchini Bread

Fantastic bread.. kids eat it till it is gone! They don't even realize there is *shudder* squash *shudder* in it!

  • 3 c. flour
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t bakin soda
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 3 t cinnamon
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 c. applesauce
  • 2 1/4 c. white sugar
  • 3 t vanilla extract
  • 2 c. grated zucchini
  • optional: 1 c. walnuts, 1 c. chocolate chips

Grease and flour 2 8x4 inch pans. Preaheat oven to 325 degrees F. Stir together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Beat eggs, applesauce, vanilla and sugar together in a large bowl. Add dry ingredients to the creamed mixture and beat well. Stir in zucchini and any optional ingredients until will combined. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 40 to 60 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes. Remove bread from pan and completely cool before cutting.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Egg Casserole

We make this for breakfast OR for dinner, depending on the ingredients.

Basic Ingredients:

* 1 dozen eggs

* 1 cup milk

* 1 cup cheese (colby jack works well, but you can use just about ANY choice - we have used Swiss, cheddar, and many others)

Optional ingredients: chopped onion, chopped green pepper, chopped spinach, cubed ham, hash brown potatoes, crumbled bacon, sausage crumbles.

Preheat oven to 350. Whisk together eggs and milk, and then stir in additional ingredients. Pour entire mixture into a 9 x 13 sprayed pan and bake. Casserole is ready when it puffs in the center and is golden brown. You can top with a bit of cheese when you take it out of the oven - the cheese will melt on top of the casserole. Don't be alarmed if the casserole falls a bit as it cools, this is normal.
My kids LOVE this casserole. I change it up almost every time I make it, using different meat - or cheese, or a different veggie. Serve with muffins and a fruit salad.

3 Cheese Rigatoni

This quick and easy meal is loved by all of the kids! Last night, the kids wanted me to make another "batch" so they could have thirds!

  • 1 lb rigatoni noodles, uncooked
  • 8 oz. sour cream
  • 8 ounces mexican blend shredded cheese
  • 1/4 c. parmesan cheese (I use real must-shred parmesan, not the kind that comes in a can, however, that would do in a pinch.)
  • 1/4 c. milk
  • 1 T chopped fresh basil leaves or 1 t dried basil leaves
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/2 t pepper
  • 1/4 c. seasoned dry bread crumbs
  • 1 T butter or margarine, melted

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Cook and drain pasta as directed on package. Mix pasta and remaining ingredients except bread crumbs and butter. Place pasta mixture in ungreased 2 quart casserole. Mix bread crumbs and butter; sprinkle around edges of casserole. Bake uncovered for 25 to 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

Serves 6 (but leaves you wanting more!)

Pair with brown sugar carrots and a salad for a full meal!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Tuna Noodle Casserole

Another husband approved meal this one never makes it to the fridge as leftovers.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Butter a large rectangular glass baking dish

Cook one package of egg noodles, and while they're cooking....

Melt 4 Tbsp. butter (real butter) in a medium saucepan until bubbly but not browned.

1/2 package sliced mushrooms
one onion, finely chopped
1/3 package of frozen bell pepper strips, chopped and thawed

Cook until veggies are tender, about five minutes

Stir in 1/4 cup flour
cook for one minute. Remove from heat and whisk in 2.5 cups of milk

return to heat and cook whisking until sauce returns to a boil and thickens, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat again and add about 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, whisk together until the cheese melts into the sauce.

Add two drained cans of water packed white tuna to a large mixing bowl, break apart but don't mince.
Add the hot cheese sauce to the tuna.
Add in the noodles, two Tbsp. dried parsley flakes, salt and black pepper to taste.
mix together and pour into baking dish.

Combine and sprinkle over the top
1 cup dried plain bread crumbs and 4 Tbsp. melted butter.

Bake until browned and bubbling, about 30 minutes.

Poor Man's Cookies

These may not be healthy but they sure are great once in awhile. It's an old recipe from my grand mother.

Let boil - 1 cup of raisins, 2 cups of water until 1 cup of liquid is left.

Melt 1/2 cup of shortening in the above mixture, then stir in 1 tsp. of baking soda until it foams.

Cream 1 cup of sugar and 1 egg and add raisin mixture.

2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt

Combine two mixtures and spread on cookie sheet. Bake at 300-325 for 20 minutes. Frost (if desired) and cut. 1/2 or cup chopped nuts may be added, if desired.

Crunchy Taco Salad

This is easy & yummy & healthy...a great combination!

Servings: 4

Prep Time: 20 minutes


4 portions of lean ground turkey (about 1 lb)

1 can (15 oz) chili beans in chili sauce

5 cups romaine lettuce, chopped

1 cup of salsa

1/2 cup of reduced fat cheddar cheese, shredded

1 tomato, diced

4 green onions, sliced

1/2 cup light sour cream

4 oz baked tortilla chips


1. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add ground turkey & cook until no longer pink, about 5 minutes.

2. Stir in chili beans and simmer until heated through and slightly thickened, about 10 more minutes.

3. Evenly divide lettuce onto 4 plates. Spoon a portion of turkey mixture over lettuce. Then top with salsa, cheddar cheese, tomato, green onion and sour cream.

4. Crumble about a fourth of the tortilla chips over each salad. Serve & Enjoy!

Lemon Puff Custard

This has been my favorite dessert of all time, since I was a little kid. The crazy thing about these is that the bottom half stays custard and the top half turns into cake. It is very unusual and delicious!

Lemon Puff Custard

3 1/2 T Flour
2/3 C Sugar
2 T Sweet (unsalted) butter
2 eggs, separated
3 T Fresh lemon juice
2/3 C Milk

Combine flour and sugar; add to creamed butter. Stir in beaten egg yolks, lemon juice, and milk. Beat egg whites until stiff. Fold egg yolk mixture lightly but thoroughly into egg whites. Fill glass custard cups 2/3 full and set in shallow pan filled with enough hot water to come almost to the tops of the cups. Bake for 35 minutes at 325 or until custard tests done. Serves 4.

Honey Muffins

These muffins freeze well!


  • 2 c. flour
  • 2 c. rolled oats
  • 2 c. orange juice
  • 1 c. honey
  • 2 large eggs
  • 6 T applesauce
  • 6 t baking powder
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/2 t vanilla extract


  1. Prepare 12 regulare muffin cups with muffin paper or a light coating of cooking spray.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. In a small bowl, beat the egg slightly. Add juice, honey, applesauce and vanilla. Mix well.
  5. Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined and moistened.
  6. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each about 2/3 full.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. If toothpick inserted into center of muffin comes out dry, muffins are done.

Makes 24 muffins.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Chicken Enchilada Casserole

This is my go-to, gotta make something the whole family will eat meal. It's easy and the prep time isn't too bad considering it cooks inself in the crockpot after that.
Bob requests this for his birthday and Father's Day and any other day he thinks he should get a special meal.

You need:
3-4 lb chicken, I use a whole cut up chicken, you can also use half breasts with the bones still in.
1 medium onion, chopped
1 Tbsp. oil
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
1 can of cream of chicken soup
(I use the reduced fat, sodium kind, no taste difference)
1 cup sour cream
1 - 28 oz can green enchilada sauce
1 - 4.5 oz can peeled diced green chiles
20 corn tortillas
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Boil chicken. Shred meat and discard bones and skin. (I freeze the broth from this in ice cube trays for use later as chicken stock) You can do this step a day ahead and keep the chicken in the fridge until you're ready to whip up the sauce and assemble.

Saute onion in oil in saucepan until translucent. Add can of green chiles cook one more minute. Stir in soups, sour cream and enchilada sauce. Warm through.

Cut the tortillas into four wedges. I do this in a big stack rather than one at a time!

In your crock pot, layer sauce, chicken, tortillas and cheese, it's usually three or four layers, end with cheese then pour the remaining sauce all over the top.

Cover. Cook on low 5-6 hours or high 2-3 hours (I recommend slow!)

Speedy Tamale Pie

This dish is full of fiber and high quality protein.

Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 40 min

2 cans (15 oz each) salt-free pinto beans, rinsed and drained
2 medium zucchini, cut into 3/4" chunks
1 can (14.5 oz) Mexican styled stewed tomatoes
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1 cup frozen lima beans
1 cup medium-spicy chunky salsa
2 tsp chili powder
1 cup shredded Cheddar
4-5 large potatoes

Preheat oven to 400*F. Coat a shallow 2.5 quart baking dish with cooking spray

Wash, peel and boil potatoes in a large pot of water. While you are waiting for them to be done:

In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, combine the beans, zucchini, stewed tomatoes, corn, lima beans, salsa, and chili powder. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered for 10 minutes. Turn into the prepared baking dish.

Mash your potatoes (using milk and butter if needed) and spread on top of the baking dish. (kind of like icing a cake!)

Bake for 25 minutes, or until bubbly at the edges. Sprinkle with cheese and bake for 3 minutes, or until melted. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving

Makes 6 servings
408 calories
19 g. protein
77 g. carbs
4 g fat
475 mg sodium

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Cowboy Chicken

My kids love this quick and easy dinner!

  • 2 c. shredded chicken in BBQ sauce. You can buy this already in a can or you can be like me and throw some chicken and the contents of a bottle of BBQ sauce in the slow cooker the day you want to make this for dinner.
  • 1 can garbanzo beans
  • 1 can lima beans or pinto beans
  • 1 can kidney beans (I use 3 cans of random beans, whatever I have on hand.)
  • 1 c. shredded cheddar cheese

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 2 quart casserole with cooking spray (or olive oil in your Pampered Chef oil spritzer thing). Mix chicken and beans in casserole.
  2. Bake uncovered for 30 to 35 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake 5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.

6 servings

Serve over rice or with tortillas or tortilla chips. Serve with corn and a salad and you have a complete meal!!