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Archive for the ‘Food for a Family’ Category

cranberry-applesauce

Isn’t it a pretty color?

I don’t remember when I first made this pretty side dish, but it became an instant hit. Sweet and tart, and it makes the kitchen smell so good while it is cooking. It wasn’t long before I was bringing it to Thanksgiving every year, and I make it occasionally in the off-season and have more than once made a huge batch and canned it.

It is a bit labor intensive; there’s lots of standing over the stove and stirring. I tried roasting it in the oven once (which is how I make my regular applesauce when I’m making a big batch for canning) and the results were not nearly as good.

I almost always double, and sometimes triple or quadruple this batch. Because fresh cranberries are often only available in October and/or November, I grab several bags and throw them in the freezer to have on hand all year.

Some people prefer this warm; I will eat it warm, but prefer it cold from the frig.

Cranberry Applesauce

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsps. water
  • 4 cups chopped apples
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp grated lemon peel (I rarely have this, and often just dash in some lemon juice)

In a large saucepan, heat sugar and water over medium heat until sugar is dissolved, stirring occasionally. Stir in apples, cover and cook for 5 minutes, stirring several times. Stir in cranberries; cook and stir for about 8 minutes or until cranberries begin to pop. Cover and cook 5 minutes more or until apples are tender, stirring several times.

Add cinnamon, ginger and lemon peel. Cook and stir about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat; mash until texture reaches desired consistency.

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Meal Plan #1

Now that I have enough recipes posted to the blog, I intend to try to post my meal plans as I finish them up. This is for those of you who just need something to give you ideas. I will try to connect my recipes as I get them posted.

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Turkey Apple Cheddar Salad

Simple and tasty – Turkey Apple Cheddar Salad

You can’t get much simpler than this. A few years ago, I was scouring cookbooks for new recipes when I found Turkey Apple Cheddar Salad. It was a hot summer, and we were often going to picnics in the park to enjoy the Thursday Night music.

This salad is like a salad you’d get from your local deli. Chunks of fruit, meat and cheese are also kid-pleasers. My youngest loves it. She’s adorable when she eats it. She takes a bite of turkey. “Turkey.” She takes a bite of apple. “Apple.” She takes a bite of cheddar. “Cheddar.” Pause. “Salad!” ¬†She chants this the whole time, eating it in pattern. I better have about the same amount of everything on her plate!

My oldest prefers it without the dressing, and sometimes we just cut up the ingredients into slices and eat them on crackers. ūüôā

The original called for green onions and some cooked pasta, but I found the pasta didn’t add anything and the onions tended to fall to the bottom of the salad and not get eaten at all, so I started leaving them out.

I’ve learned to keep the apples out of it until the last minute so they stay crisp. I suggest not making ahead more than one day, or the apples will get soggy. It doesn’t keep particularly well, so plan to eat it within a day or two. I like to cut up the turkey and cheddar, and then cut apples into it as needed.

Turkey Apple Cheddar Salad

  • Oven roasted or smoked turkey breast (not sliced)
  • Block of cheddar cheese (we prefer sharp)
  • Medium, crisp apple(s) (like gala)
  • Poppyseed dressing

I don’t have a very scientific way of making this salad. I cut the turkey, cheddar, and apple into 1/2 inch cubes, and toss them into a bowl until the proportions look right. (A little more turkey than cheese, a little more cheese than apple.) Then I stir in enough dressing to coat it.

That’s the beauty of this meal; you can make only what you need! It’s great for just one person, or make a big batch to take to a potluck. Round it out by putting it on a bed of salad greens and adding a piece of crusty bread, if you like.

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I never ate spinach as a kid. Never! When I got to college, I started eating it in fresh salads, as I didn’t mind it raw, and I’m sure I started getting it cooked in certain dishes once in a while.

This spinach casserole was my sister-in-law’s regular recipe that she brought to dinner. And surprisingly, I like it! Now that I have kids of my own, we eat it regularly. Why?¬†Because my kids will eat it!¬†They don’t care for it fresh from the oven, but cool it off a bit, and they will eat it as a dip on crackers. (It is admittedly very tasty on crackers.)

So feel free to dig in with your favorite party crackers, pretzels, celery/carrots, or just with your fork!

spinach casserole

Amy’s Spinach Casserole

  • 2 (10 ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach
  • 1 (8 ounce) container sour cream (or 1 cup sour cream)
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 package of onion soup mix

Thaw the spinach. (I often follow the cooking directions and cook it in the microwave with a little water for about 5-8 minutes). Squeeze it dry. Squeezing it dry is essential to getting a good final product that isn’t runny.¬†How to do this:¬†Especially if it is hot out of the microwave, the spinach is a bit hot to handle. I line my colander with paper towels, dump the spinach in, and then take a clean drinking glass and press down on the spinach all around in the colander until very little liquid comes out.

In an oven-save bowl or casserole dish, mix spinach, sour cream, soup, and soup mix together until well blended. Level the top of the mixture in the bowl. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 30 minutes.

Enjoy!

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Now that you know how and why I make a meal plan from Part 1 and Part 2, it might be helpful to know how my meal plan actually works in action. Here is a real-life example of what happens in my house.

Week One

My shopping was on Tuesday, so my meal plan began Tuesday evening. Here is what we actually made. (Not entirely sure what the original was, but it is important to see what we made so you know how this week played out.)

Tuesday: Fish with cornbread

stuffing for pineapple chicken fajitas

Pineapple chicken fajitas

Wednesday:¬†Crockpot Cheater’s Chili
Thursday: Pineapple Chicken Fajitas
Friday: Spaghetti
Saturday: Tacos
Sunday: Vanilla Pork Chops with Spinach Casserole
Monday: Crockpot Pulled Pork

After this, we had a fair amount of cornbread, chili, fajitas, pork chops, spinach casserole, and pulled pork left in our refrigerator, along with some meatballs and sausage from the previous week.

Week Two

Here was what my original meal plan said:

Tuesday: Chicken Breasts with Marinated Broccoli

Crunchy Chicken Salad

Crunchy Chicken Salad

Wednesday:¬†At a friend’s house – Take Broccoli Tortellini Salad and Raspberry Fool
Thursday: Pork Burgers with Sweet Potato Fries
Friday: Leftover Pizza (in the freezer) or Margarita Steak
Saturday:¬†Camper’s Breakfast Hash
Sunday: Turkey Apple Cheddar Salad
Monday: Crunchy Chicken Salad

This week was¬†a pretty set schedule for a summer week, and I chose items based on what we had going on. The chicken breasts had to be cooked, as they’d been sitting in the frig. (I’d gotten them at a great price the week before and the intention was for hubby to smoke them in his smoker Sunday with the Pulled Pork, but it rained, so he did the pork in the crockpot.) ¬†Wednesday’s dinner date with friends was set. Saturday and Sunday I had an event out of town for most of the afternoon and wouldn’t be able to cook.

What actually happened:

Tuesday: Had leftover pork chops & spinach casserole for lunch. Made the chicken breasts in the oven, but ended up having raw veggies, cottage cheese and corn from the freezer as side dishes.

Wednesday:  Ate leftover spaghetti for lunch, while the girls ate spinach casserole and meatballs that were also leftover. Made the Tortellini Broccoli Salad in the morning, and prepped the puree for the fool. Made the fool in the afternoon.

Thursday: Made macaroni and cheese for lunch and ate it with applesauce, sausage, and carrots. Made pork burgers for supper, but did not make sweet potato fries. Instead had cottage cheese, cheesy green beans, and fresh fruit.

Friday: Ate fish and spinach casserole (leftover) for lunch. Had so many leftovers in the frig that we had chili, pineapple chicken fajitas and meatballs for supper.

Saturday:¬†Finished the chili for lunch. Decided it made more sense to make the Turkey Apple Cheddar Salad for supper instead of for Sunday. My family ate that while I ate a packed dinner¬†that I didn’t have to keep cold. (My event was outdoors and it was terribly hot and humid. Peanut Butter and Jelly with carrots, chips and a treat.)

Sunday:¬†I took leftover Turkey Apple Cheddar Salad to my event for lunch. (It was not as hot, and I knew I’d be¬†eating it shortly after I arrived.) Knew we’d be getting home right at about supper time, so we pulled the leftover pizza out of the freezer and heated it up.

Monday:¬†Can’t for the life of me remember what we ate for lunch, but it was likely leftovers. That¬†night I made the Crunchy Chicken Salad to use up some of the leftover chicken.

So as you can see, we still had the Camper’s Breakfast Hash left on the menu, so when meal planning came around, I had one less meal to worry about.

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campers breakfast hash

Potatoes and eggs are super yummy in this skillet meal.

Who doesn’t love breakfast for dinner? I wasn’t sure how this one would go over, as my kids don’t particularly like potatoes, but they loved it!

Full of hashbrowns, sausage, eggs, and peppers, it is a nice all-in-one meal. The original recipe calls for a HUGE amount. I wasn’t sure my skillet would hold it all (nor if my family would like it) so I halved the recipe.

I felt the amount of sausage was skimpy, so I left it at about what the original called for, without halving it, and after making it, I feel it was skimpy on the veggies, too. I will continue to play around with this one. Try it and see what you think! What would you change?

Camper’s Breakfast Hash (Original amounts)

  • 1/4 cup butter, cubed
  • 2 pkgs. (20 ounces each) refrigerated shredded hash brown potatoes
  • 1 pkg. (7 ounces) brown-and-serve sausage links, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 12 eggs, lightly beaten
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

In a large skillet, melt butter. Add the potatoes, sausage, onion and green pepper. Cook, uncovered, over medium heat for 10-15 minutes or until potatoes are lightly browned, turning once.

Push potato mixture to the sides of pan. Pour eggs into center of pan. Cook and stir over medium heat until eggs are completely set. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat; stir eggs into potato mixture. Top with cheese; cover and cook for 1-2 minutes or until cheese is melted.

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Crunchy Chicken Salad

Crunchy chicken salad, baked in a casserole dish, is a tasty main course for lunch.

A friend of mine gave me this recipe after she used it for a lunch gathering. My husband and I enjoy it very much. The kids…well, the oldest pretty much just eats the chicken out of it, while the youngest turns up her nose. They can eat peanut butter sandwiches while hubby and I get a real meal.

(Mom confession time: I LOVE peanut butter. I love peanut butter sandwiches. I would eat peanut butter sandwiches every day if I could. That being said, I recognize the value of a diet rich in foods beyond peanut butter and bread. So I limit myself and my kids. But when I have to take a bag lunch? More often than not, it’s a peanut butter sandwich.)

This baked chicken salad is great on its own, or served in tortillas. I love the crunch of water chestnuts, and the contrast they provide with the chicken. I have reduced the mayonnaise from the original recipe, as I found that it was very runny. It also reheats and freezes well. I often double the recipe and freeze a pan without the topping. If you do that, thaw before baking.

Crunchy Chicken Salad

  • 2 cups cooked chicken breast, chopped
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 cup sliced water chestnuts
  • 1 cup sliced pimentos
  • 1/2 tsp. celery salt
  • 1/8 tsp Accent Spice mix
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 small can French fried onions
  • 1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese

Mix together chicken, almonds, water chestnuts, pimentos, celery salt and Accent. Whip mayo and lemon juice; stir into chicken mixture.

Pour into a greased casserole dish (8×8). Top with onions and cheddar. Bake uncovered, at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

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