Thursday, July 28, 2016

No Pictures, Just Some Cooking

Getting back into non vacation mode, though I have a month before works starts back up. When we returned from our vacation I brought back the food we did not use.  Then I created a freezer inventory, so I could try to use things well.  I like having the inventory on the side of the fridge, so as we use stuff I cross it off.  My freezer is pretty well stuffed right now, and I am getting more meat soon so I need to make room.

I took no pictures, but here a few things I made this week. On Sunday I made steak fajitas. This included marinading the steak in a soy sauce, red wine and garlic combination. I grilled it with some vegetables and served it with toppings. Quick, easy and well received enough. The kids don't love steak, but they love tortillas and toppings so it works.  I would like to try making homemade tortillas sometime, but I have yet to attempt them.

Tuesday I made sausage macaroni and cheese. I use an adapted version of a recipe in a cookbook I love.  My version usually includes cut up chicken sausage. Everyone loves it, and we had left overs (some of us did) on Tuesday. Last night I was going to make a stir fry (with the veggies and meat separate, but when we got home from the pool I really wanted grilled pizza. I defrosted my homemade dough and grilled pizza we had. I meant to take a picture of it, however, it never happened.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Enchilada Whatever Casserole

Appetizing title? Well it fits this soon to be casserole that will be in my oven in about 30 minutes. It will include ground beef, seasoning, some salsa and pureed tomatoes. Of course it will also include tortillas. Flour tortillas because they are the most popular in this house.

So, no this is not a gourmet enchilada recipe with homemade enchilada sauce. It is a throw together casserole that helps to use leftover produce in my fridge. I don't even have any  fresh onion or garlic left, so I need to use dried seasoning.  I actually ssshhhh have some taco seasoning in my pantry. Shame on me for not making it. I am a proponent of making many things, but I bought it on a whim for a taco dip I made the other day. These things happen. I may even throw that it.

Enchilada Whatever Casserole is great because it can be whatever you want it to be. Have any type of meat, tortillas, some sort of sauce and cheese? Great, get going. This can also be customized to include veggies like corn or black beans. No corn in the house and there will be protests if beans are in there, so I will stick to meat only.

I am back. Just took a quick bread to get this casserole going.  You will learn a lot about me when you read my recipe below. I did not use the taco seasoning today, but I won't judge you if you do. See notes below.*

 Enchilada Whatever Casserole

1 pound ground beef or any meat you have available
1 teaspoon garlic
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon oregano
salt and pepper to taste
about 1 pint grape tomatoes
1 cup salsa
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons tomato paste
four large tortillas
2 cups shredded cheese ( I used a Mexican blend)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brown ground beef add seasonings and salt and pepper to taste. Drain beef if needed. Puree grape tomatoes and add to ground beef. Stir and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add salsa, water and tomato paste. Bring to a boil and turn down and simmer for ten minutes. Place two tortillas in a 13 x 9 pan and pour 1/2 of the meat mixture on top. Sprinkle with almost half the cheese and add two more tortillas. Top with the rest of the meat and cover with cheese. Bake in oven for 25 minutes.

*This recipe is designed to be tweaked, adjusted and played with to your hearts content. I pureed grape tomatoes to get rid of them. You may use two cups of salsa instead or canned tomatoes. You want your final mixture to be wet so that the tortillas soak it up. Think lasagna. If you don't have enough sauce your lasagna will be dry. The concept here is the same. If you have more tortillas you can make an additional layer. It is a pretty forgiving dish, so just get cooking.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Vacation Cooking Prep

I have googled and searched tons of sites for the best way to deal with dinner when we take our vacation. I have created a menu plan and think I have it all set.  I have planned for two nights out and one breakfast out. Some great ideas I found included making pancakes ahead of time and bringing them with us.  I do love to cook, but it is my vacation too. Reading novels is important, so I can't take too much time cooking.

Currently I am getting my meat through Walden Meat. It is local and comes frozen, so there is no freezing it with marinade. I do plan to bring some of this meat with us and marinate it when we are on vacation.

Breakfast includes cereal, pancakes (made in advance), muffins made in advance and maybe some eggs.

Lunch will include cold cuts, left overs and peanut butter and jelly.

Dinner will include buffalo chicken pasta salad  on the first night. This will be made at home and allow us to unpack, unwind and eat a delicious dinner. The rest of the week will include a burger and hot dog night, a steak and chicken night, a fajita night with the left overs from steak and chicken and a grilled pizza night. Any other dinner will a repeat of burgers or dinner out.

It feels good to have dinner all planned so we can have fun in the sun.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Thrifty French Toast Casserole

There are plenty of recipes all over cyber space for a delicious french toast casserole. Some have many eggs, some have more milk than eggs, some soak overnight and some go right in the oven.

French toast casserole doesn't really fit into a healthy weight loss plan, because it is french toast, but it does fit into a delicious breakfast category. Also, my kids love it and it saves me on cereal that disappears quickly.

My favorite part about french toast is the way it utilizes left overs. I am a person who loves to cook, however I also hate to waste food. Like many people out there I save my bread ends. Yes, I save them. I told someone close to me this fact recently. She cutely responded, "but they're gross." Bread ends can be many things like bread crumbs or toast, but the best recipe is french toast casserole. So I dutifully freeze all the bread ends I don't use. Every so often my freezer is so full of old bread that I freak out and just have to make this recipe. This can be made with any bread you have on hand. It does not have to be old bread from the freezer.

1/2 stick of butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 t cinnamon
1 t vanilla
2 1/2 cups milk
5 eggs
1/4 t nutmeg

Melt butter, add brown sugar and cinnamon and on the bottom of a 13 x 9 pan, Mix milk, eggs, vanilla and nutmeg and set aside. Shred enough old bread ends to fill your 13 x 9 pan (about a loaf). You can throw in an old biscuit or hot dog roll. Poor milk mixture over bread. I like to make sure it is wet enough to help break down the crust. Wrap and allow it sit overnight in the fridge. Remove from fridge and preheat the oven to 375. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 45 minutes and watch the smell of cinnamon lure those sleepy heads out of bed.  Make one every few weeks to help use up left over bread  ends or milk that doesn't have much time left.