Monday, April 27, 2009

Cheesy Ranch Chicken Casserole

For this recipe, I started out by collecting the ingredients for this recipe at Lynn's Kitchen Adventures. However, as I started to assemble the casserole, I looked in my refrigerator and made some substitutions and omitted a lot as well. It was pretty tasty- we just needed to add some salt and pepper to it in order to bring out some of the taste of the casserole (probably because I made white sauce instead of using canned soups). Next time, I'll probably double the ranch (mostly because you couldn't taste it at all, and it'll add a little more salt to the dish to help with the flavor) and double the cheese I sprinkled on the top (my husband is a cheese fanatic, and while he was glad it made it into the dish, he was disappointed there wasn't more), as well as add some more salt and pepper.
Cheesy Ranch Chicken Casserole

1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup diced carrots, cooked until fork tender
1-1/2 to 2 cups diced cooked chicken
2 cups dried macaroni noodles (or any other pasta you want)
2 batches of white sauce (or 2 cans of your favorite cream soup)
1/2 cup ranch dressing
1/2 cup cheese (I like cheddar)
1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs (or you can use crushed crackers or even just regular bread crumbs- you'll just want to add some spices/herbs to help with the flavor)

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Combine everything except cheese and bread crumbs, then place in a greased 9"x13" casserole dish. Bake at 350 F for about 40 minutes, or until bubbly. Sprinkle cheese on top of casserole and bread crumbs on top of cheese. Bake for another 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.

Chilean Pevre

This makes A TON! My mum, who still has five kids at home, cuts it in half when she makes it for our family, so you can adjust it accordingly. This is really a party-sized amount, but it's the recipe Vero gave us.

NOTE: Pevre is kind of like a salsa, which means you can chop the ingredients as big or as small as you want. Vero keeps them fairly small, but they're still definitely chunks.

2 white onions, chopped
10 tomatoes, peeled and chopped (again, adjust according to your family)
fresh cilantro - rinse in cold water; twist off stems; twist to tear in half; chop
2 lemons, juiced
1/4 c. olive oil
1/2 c. salt - I know it's a lot. You'll really use it to taste
Mexican style tomato sauce, to taste (typically between 1/4 and 1/2 cup

1. Combine onions with salt (to taste). Mix and let set for 10 minutes.
2. Peel tomatoes, chop cilantro, mix together.
3. Squeeze out excess moisture in onions. Mix with tomatoes and cilantro.
4. Add rest of ingredients and mix together.

It's really good on chips, french bread, or you could even toast the bread a little to make a sort of bruschetta. Tasty!

Great-Grammie Boone's Date Squares

My mum's family has always been known for being great cooks - especially bakers - and this recipe proves it! Baking wise, it really doesn't use a lot of anything, so it's not too pricey, although it's also not too healthy. (At least not physically. I think it's very emotionally and mentally healthy!)

1 c. brown sugar
1 3/4 c. quick oats
1 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 c. melted butter

1. Mix all together really well and press half into a lightly greased 9 by 13 pan. (You may need to use a little more than half. The crust is the best part, so if you taste the uncooked thing and decide you want LOTS of topping, just add another 1/2 of everything.)

1 1/2 c. chopped dates (this is done easiest by just snipping the dates with scissors if you haven't bought them chopped already, but DO buy them pitted! It's so much easier!)
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 c. hot water from the tap

1. Put all ingredients in saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook until nice and thick, stirring occasionally. This will take a few minutes, and it may still look a little watery, but it'll be good.
2. Pour over crust. Crumble the rest of the crust mixture on top of it.
3. Sprinkly with a bit of water. (This isn't really necessary. I forgot to do it last night. My mum and I can't figure out why Grammie did it.)
4. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Let cool some before cutting.

My husband and I think they would taste great with vanilla ice cream while they're still a little warm!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Oat Bread

This is another recipe my mom has shared with me. It is by far one of my favorite breads to eat. Not to mention all of the good-for-you fiber it packs!

Oat Bread

1 cup oats
2 cups boiling water
1/3 cup warm water (to activate yeast)
2 Tbl yeast (preferably rapid rise yeast)
1/2 cup honey
1 Tbl salt
2 Tbl melted butter (I always substitute vegetable oil and it works the same)
1-1/2 cups wheat flour
3 cups white flour (preferably bread flour)

In mixing bowl, add oats and boiling water to soak and soften. Meanwhile, place yeast and 1/3 cup water in a small bowl/mug to allow yeast to activate. Once the oats have softened a cooled a little, but are still warm, add the honey***, salt, butter and yeast mixture. Mix together, then add flours. Continue mixing until dough pulls away from the side of the bowl. Let rise, covered, until doubled^^^. Spray 2 loaf pans with cooking spray and dust with oatmeal. Shape dough and place in pans. Lightly drizzle loaves with honey and then sprinkle with oats. Let rise again until the dough reaches the top of the pan. Bake in a preheated 350 F oven for 30-40 minutes (This crust stays soft, so just make sure that when you tap the top it doesn't sink and that the loaf is golden brown.).

*** To easily measure honey, spray the measuring cup with cooking spray.

^^^ This dough is sticky, so I like to place a tablespoon or two of vegetable oil in the bottom of the bowl I let the dough rise in. Not only does this keep the dough from sticking to the bowl, but it helps keep it moist.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

How to Reconstitute and Use Powdered Milk

Powdered milk is an amazing thing to have in your food storage, especially if you bake and/or cook a lot. While I have never had a glass of reconstituted powdered milk to drink, I have used it several times as a substitute for store-bought milk products I thought I had on hand. (Does this happen to anyone else?) This information comes from a food storage book my mom gave me called Simple Recipes Using Basic Food Storage by Karen Keenan and a ward cookbook from a couple of years ago.

Here are a couple of bonuses for using powdered milk in your recipes:
  1. Fewer calories and less cholesterol than if you were to use the store-bought alternative
  2. You can add more nutritional value to foods by adding powdered milk (be creative!)
  3. It's easy and doesn't spoil as fast as a gallon of milk or pint of cream. To use powdered milk in your recipes calling for milk, just include the powdered milk with the dry ingredients and then add the water with the wet ingredients (of course leaving out the real milk).
Recipes for Reconstituted Powdered Milk Products:

2% milk***
1/4 cup powdered milk
1 cup water

Mix well.

Whole Milk***
1/3 cup powdered milk
1 cup water

Mix well.

Buttermilk or Sour Milk
1/3 cup powdered milk
1 cup water
1 Tbl vinegar or lemon juice

Mix and let stand 10-15 minutes, or until milk is soured.

Evaporated Milk
2/3 cup powdered milk
1 cup water

Mix well.

Whipped Evaporated Milk
2/3 cup powdered milk
1 cup water
2 Tbl lemon juice

Cill evaporated milk completely. Add lemon juice and whip until stiff. Sweeten and flavor as desired.

Sweetened Condensed Milk
1/2 cup hot water
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup powdered milk
1 cup water

Blend completely in a blender. Can be stored in refrigerator or freezer.

*** To make powdered milk more palatable as a drink, you can mix it half and half with store bought whole or 2% milk. Or you can add a little sugar or vanilla, or even thoroughly chilling the combined milk improves the flavor.***

Friday, April 24, 2009

Fast Food Storage Fudge

I got this recipe from a church blog my mom has put together. Not only is it really fast (it only takes 2 minutes to cook without the use of a candy thermometer) but I had everything in my pantry that I needed to whip up a little chocolate craving cure. I also want to apologize for another treat recipe post. However, while making desserts less frequently is one way to master your budget, I think it's still important to indulge every now and then. Besides, this is pretty cheap, but yummy!

Fast Food Storage Fudge

1 pound powdered sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup butter (one stick, unmelted)
1/4 cup milk (reconstituted powdered milk is fine)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Sift powdered sugar and cocoa into a bowl. Add butter and milk. Do not stir. Microwave 2 minutes on high. Stir. Add vanilla, stir. Pour into 8" square baking dish (I lined mine with foil and sprayed it with cooking spray). Refrigerate 1 hour before cutting and serving. Serves 16.

I also added chopped almonds to my fudge (It sounded good and I had some I needed to use up!). You could add any other nut as well- just add it into the fudge when you stir in the vanilla.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Pineapple Chicken Kabobs

I bought a fresh pineapple the other day for $.79 a pound (saving over $5.00!) and I couldn't wait to use it. I decided I wanted to pair it with chicken and some sort of Asian sauce, but I couldn't find one that looked appetizing AND called for ingredients I had on hand. So I improvised, and this is what I came up with. I only marinated the chicken for about 20-25 minutes, and it didn't seem to have soaked up too much of the flavors. So I'd suggested maybe marinating for a couple hours, or maybe even overnight.

Pineapple Chicken Kabobs

Cubed fresh pineapple (you could also use canned pinapple chunks- tidbits would be too small)
1" cubes raw chicken
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp garlic powder (or 2 cloves fresh garlic finely minced)
1/4 tsp ground ginger (I used the powdered stuff, if you have fresh use probably about 1/2 to 1 tsp)
1 tsp dried chives (If you have fresh, use 1 Tbl- you could also use green onion)

Combine everything, leaving out the pineapple, and let marinate for several hours. Place chicken and pineapple on wooden skewers, alternating between the two. Grill until chicken is cooked all the way through- I used my George Foreman and it took about 2-3 minutes per kabob. If you are using a BBQ grill, cook for about 2-3 minutes per side (or longer) until done.

***Note: I didn't actually measure the sauce ingredients when I threw this dinner together. Just play with it until it tastes right to you. You could even add in some red pepper flakes for a little spice!***

Creamy Cheescake

Ok, so this isn't a make every single day budget-friendly recipe. However, my mom did mention that it would be a budget friendly recipe as far as entertaining for special occassions go. While this dessert could set you back around 7 or 8 dollars, that's nothing when compared to cheesecake that you can buy already made at the grocery store, bakery, or your favorite restaurant. But even if you don't have a get together to host/go to or an anniversary you are celebrating, this cheesecake can be a great addition to your celebration of daily life... with moderation :) This recipe comes from My Kitchen Cafe and is so delicious! I served it with sliced fresh strawberries and blackberries (sprinkle the berries with sugar and let them sit in the fridge for 10-15 minutes so they can create a "juice").

Creamy Cheesecake

3 cups finely ground graham crackers (about 40 squares)
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted

2 (8-ounce) blocks cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 lemon, zest finely grated
1 pint sour cream

To prepare crumb crust: In a mixing bowl, combine the crust ingredients together with a fork until evenly moistened. Lightly coat the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan (I use a 10-inch springform pan b/c it is all I have and it works great) with non-stick cooking spray. Firmly press the mixture over the bottom and 1-inch up the sides on the pan, use your fingers or the smooth bottom of a glass. Refrigerate the crust while preparing the filling.

To prepare filling: In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese on low speed for 1 minute just until smooth and free of any lumps. Gradually add the sugar and beat until creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Periodically scrape down the sides of the bowl and the beaters. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and continue to slowly beat until combined. Stir in the vanilla and lemon zest. Blend in the sour cream. The batter should be well mixed but not overbeaten. Overbeating incorporates too much air and will cause the cake to puff when baking, then fall and crack when cooling. Pour filling into the crust-lined pan and smooth the top with a spatula.

Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for 50-55 minutes. The cheesecake should still jiggle slightly, it will firm up after chilling. Be careful not to overcook! Do not do a toothpick test in the cake's center, this will make a crack. Loosen the cheesecake from the sides of the pan by running a thin metal spatula around the inside rim. Let cool in the pan for 30 minutes. Chill in the refrigerator, loosely covered, for at least 4 hours to set up. Demold and transfer to a cake plate. Slice the cheesecake with a thin, nonserrated knife that has been dipped in hot water and wiped dry after each cut.

***I've never made cheesecake before this weekend, and it turned out great! Just follow the recipe and make sure you don't over beat the filling!***

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Debbie's Rolls & Cinnamon Rolls

This is by far my favorite roll recipe. I've tried others, but I've never been satisfied with the results.

Debbie's Rolls

3/4 c milk
1/4 c water
2 1/4 tsp rapid rise yeast for bread machines (or 1 package of yeast)
1/4 c vegetable oil
1 egg
2 Tbl sugar
1 tsp salt
3 c bread flour

Warm the milk and water in microwave for about 1 minute (you can do a full cup of milk and omit the water if you want). Add everything to the bread machine, placing liquids at the bottom. When you put the yeast in, dig a little pit in the flour for it. Let the bread machine run on the dough setting until done. Shape the dough into rolls and let rise for 15-20 minutes in a warm place (or until doubled). Bake at 375 for about 17-18 minutes or until the tops are golden brown (my oven cooks them in about 15, so make sure you check on them towards the end). Pull the rolls out of the oven and brush the tops with butter.

Debbie's Rolls Variation: Cinnamon Rolls

Just add a 1/2 of a small package of vanilla pudding (or 1/4 cup if you're using bulk pudding mix) to the ingredients in Debbie's Roll recipe. Make the dough the same way, but when it's done, roll the dough out into a large rectangle. Spread softened butter and sprinkle cinnamon sugar over the top. Roll up lengthwise and cut into 1 or 1 1/2 inch slices. (I used unflavored, waxed floss to do this. It helps to not crush the rolls) Place in a greased baking pan and bake at 375 for about 17-18 minutes or until golden brown. Spread with cream cheese or buttercream frosting as soon as you pull them out of the oven. (I usually use cream cheese, but it's buttercream in the picture. I just had leftovers from a cake I made earlier this week.)

***It is vital to good rolls to use the rapid rise yeast and bread flour. If you don't, your rolls will still taste good, but they won't rise as well and they'll be more dense.

"Chicken Fried" Dinner Patties

This recipe comes from Janet Huff's food storage cookbook titled Basic Essentials Cookbook. She also has a website, which is where I found this recipe, and it's I was skeptical about these, as I am with most substitutes for meat, but these tasted pretty good. They don't have the same texture as meat, and they don't taste like breakfast food either. This recipe makes 4 patties. If you don't want to use as much onion as is called for, you could probably substitute more quick oats- it just won't be as flavorful. Of course, you could add onion powder to help with flavoring the patties. I served ours with mashed potatoes, gravy, and a slice of homemade bread.

"Chicken Fried" Dinner Patties
3/4 c. finely chopped onion
1 small clove garlic, minced (optional)
3/4 c. quick oats
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp. Montreal steak seasoning (I used regular steak seasoning)
1/2 tsp. ground sage (I didn't have this, so I left it out)
3 T. oil

half can cream of mushrooom soup (I used homemade white sauce and it worked fine)
1/4 c. milk or yogurt
1/8 to 1/4 tsp. garlic salt

Mix finely chopped onions, garlic, quick oats, eggs, seasonings. In large frypan, heat oil on medium high. Using an ice cream scoop or large spoon: place one-fourth of mixture at a time into hot oil, smooth mixture with back of scoop/spoon to the size of a medium hamburger patty. Brown well on both sides, turning only once. Patties will be lightweight at this point. Turn heat to lowest simmer. Mix soup, milk or yogurt, garlic salt; spoon over patties, turn to coat both sides. Cover and simmer 30 to 40 minutes until all liquid is absorbed. (Carefully turn patties a time or two while they are simmering/absorbing liquids).

NOTE: would you like gravy? Use the other half can of cream soup, add milk to dilute and some kitchen bouquet; heat all.

Grandmommy's Homemade White Bread

This is a family recipe that has been around for at least 4 generations. We love this bread, especially when it's warm right out of the oven and smothered with butter and homemade jam.

Grandmommy's Bread

6 cup hot water (not too hot or you'll kill the yeast)
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 Tbl salt
6 Tbl sugar
2 Tbl yeast (I used rapid rise yeast)
5 lbs flour (I used bread flour. All purpose will work, your bread will just be more dense than if you used bread flour.)

Place yeast in 1 cup of hot water with 1 Tbl sugar to activate for about 5-10 minutes. Combine wet ingredients, salt and remaining sugar. Gradually add flour until the dough pulls away from the side of bowl. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and knead, adding flour as needed to keep dough from becoming sticky. Place 1-2 Tbl oil in the bottom of a large bowl. Coat dough in oil and cover to let rise until doubled. I like to put my oven on "warm" or the lowest setting to heat up, then turn the heat off and put bowl in oven to help dough rise better and faster. Once doubled, punch dough down to deflate and let rise again until doubled. After it's done rising, split the dough into 4 equal portions and shape to fit bread loaf pans. (You may be able to get 5 loaves out of the recipe, depending on how well your dough rises. I halved it and had a little too much dough- hence the bulging loaf in my picture on the right) Let rise about 20-25 minutes in pans and then bake at 375 for 35-40 minutes. Turn bread out of pans onto wire rack to cool. For a softer and yummier crust, brush the tops of your loaves with butter.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Homemade lunches for work or school

Here's another tip for saving money. Instead of going to fast food restaurants or paying way too much for cafeteria food, pack your own lunch. And I'm not talking peanut butter and jelly or tuna sandwiches everyday indefinitely. Be creative! It's also a great opportunity to get rid of leftovers, especially if you have access to a microwave. If you need some ideas, surf the web. There's quite a few helpful ideas. Here's a few to get you started:

Laptop Lunchbox- I'm not sure where this person got their lunchbox from, but isn't it cool? You can use the tupperware and plastic bags you already have instead of her awesome lunchbox. Oh, guess what I just found! A link to where you can get your own laptop lunchbox and even more ideas! It's here.

Real Clever Moms
- These are just basic ideas, nothing too earth shattering. But it will help get your creative juices going.

If you have any unique lunch ideas, please share!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Ranch Style Biscuits

This recipe comes from I have to admit that I use this site a lot to find a basic recipe outline to follow when I have an idea of what I want to make with the ingredients I have on hand. This works because I usually tweak recipes anyway to fit my family's needs. The alteration I made to this recipe was to "make" my own buttermilk because I never have it on hand. To do it, you put 1 Tbl vinegar or lemon juice in a measuring cup and then add enough milk to make 1 cup and let sit for about 15 minutes before adding it to the recipe. Since this recipe calls for 2 cups buttermilk, double the instructions I just gave you.

Ranch Style Biscuits

4 1/2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup oil
1 package yeast equal to 2 1/2 teaspoons) dissolved in 1/2 cup warm water
2 cups buttermilk

Mix dry ingredients together. Add wet ingredients and stir well. Pour onto floured surface, pat with hands to one inch thick and cut biscuits into desired size. Place in lightly greased iron skillet or cookie sheet and bake at 425F until golden brown.

Makes about 30 at a time.

The recipe on also stated that the dough freezes well. I tried it and it does work, the only drawback is that the biscuits don't get as fluffy or big as when you bake the dough immediately after creating it. I pulled them out of the freezer about 30 minutes before I baked them. Maybe if you pull them out of the freezer the day before and put them in the fridge, I just never really plan that far ahead! If you try a different freezer method that works, leave a comment!

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