Thursday, March 29, 2012

Shepherd's Pie

I hesitated to do this post.  It is not a fancy exciting recipe that you see on most food blogs.  But then I realized that is not what I am about. Like it or not we are a family that eats simple meals.  Delicious, simple food that does not cost a fortune to make.  Then I thought -- well everyone knows how to make Shepherd's Pie.  It was then I remembered a double date I had several years ago with my husband and another couple.  They had a teenage daughter and we had young children.  They offered to bring their daughter over to babysit while we went out together.  I offered to cook dinner for all the kids and I made Shepherd's Pie.  My friend, whom I consider an amazing cook, had never heard of or eaten Shepherd's Pie.  I encouraged her to try a bite before we left for our date.  Her husband tried more than just a fact we had to pull him away from the table!  So I guess not everyone makes Shepherd's Pie and certainly not everyone makes it like I do ... so here it is ... a simple, delicious, cost effective Shepherd's Pie.

Shepherd's Pie
1 lb. Ground Beef
2 T. Minced Garlic
1 small Chopped Onion
(or 1/4 C. Dehydrated Onion)
1 (1 lb) bag mixed vegetables - any variety
2 (8 oz) Cans Tomato Sauce
Mashed Potatoes

Brown your Ground Beef, Garlic, and Onion in a sauce pan.
You can add salt and pepper to taste if you want. 
Drain off the fat and add the frozen mixed vegetables.
Add the tomato sauce and spread into a 9x13 pan.
Now lets talk a minute about the mashed potatoes.  I will go on record by saying that as a rule I don't really eat instant mashed potatoes.  Homemade ones are so much better.  However, that being said, in this recipe I don't mind them so much.  I guess it is because there are so many other flavors going on that I am not eating the instant potatoes by themselves.  Lets combine that with the fact that we are in the middle of moving 5 hours south of where we currently live and the fact that my family is lucky to get any meal prepared at dinner time these days and the instant mashed potatoes don't sound so bad any more. 
 Let's face it...they really are a lot easier to make.
Top the meat and veggie mixture with
whatever mashed potatoes you are using.
Next top that with 8 oz shredded Cheddar Jack Cheese.
Take a look at that side view...yum!
Bake uncovered at 350* for 30-40 minutes until the dish is hot and bubbling.
There you have it. Fast, simple, delicious.

Let me know what you think...I love feedback!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Cookies Three Ways

Or Cookies 4 ways if you count the chocolate chip cookie dough I put in the freezer for my girls and I to snack on later!  Erick told me on Sunday that we were responsible for some refreshments for a church event tonight. And then on Monday we found out that we were moving.  This has been one crazy week! So between trying to figure out the move, work my job, doctor appointments, migraine headaches, and pure exhaustion the blog has been a little forgotten.  I figured that since I was making some refreshments I would do an extra big post today to make up for the lost week.  If there is one thing I can do well it is to bake cookies.  I think I am a pretty good cook.  I have other people tell me I am a good cook.  But if there is one thing I know how to do, this is it!  Today I made Peanut Butter Cookies, Sinckerdoodles, and Chocolate Chip Cookies. The Peanut Butter and Snickerdoodle cookie recipes came from my trusty Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book.  The Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe was given to me from a friend.  I did tweak it a little to my taste. I made a 1/2 batch today, because it is a huge recipe, but I will give you the full recipe below.
Well, lets get started!

Peanut Butter Cookies
1/2 C. Margarine
1/2 C. Peanut Butter (I used Creamy)
1/2 C. Sugar
1/2 C. Brown Sugar
1 Egg
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Vanilla
1 1/4 C. Flour

Mix Margarine, Peanut Butter, Sugar, Brown Sugar, and Egg in a mixing bowl.  When measuring your Peanut Butter put a plastic bag over your measuring cup before filling it with peanut butter.  Then the peanut butter will fall right our and the cup will stay clean. 
 SUPER EASY clean up!
Add the Baking Soda, Baking Powder, and Vanilla and mix.
Add the Flour and mix. Drop by rounded teaspoon
- or with a cookie scoop like I did -
 onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
To make the markings on the peanut butter cookies I like to use a potato masher.  You can do the traditional method with a fork if you would like.  I think the cookies are sweet enough, so I use flour on the potato masher instead of sugar to keep the masher from sticking to the cookie dough.
Bake at 375* for 7-10 minutes


1/2 C. Margarine
1 C. Sugar
1 Egg
1/2 tsp. Vanilla
1/4 tsp. Baking Soda
1/4 tsp. Cream of Tarter
1 1/2 C. Flour

Mix together Margarine, Sugar, Egg, Vanilla, Baking Soda,
 and Cream of Tarter
Add Flour. When you  first mix it the batter will appear crumbly. 
 Just get your clean hands into the bowl and press it together!
Mix together cinnamon and sugar in a bowl.  I believe cinnamon sugar is a subjective thing.  Some people like a lot of cinnamon and some like a little.  I just look for the color to be about right. 
If you are a person that simply must have measurements then do a 6 to 1 ratio --- 6 T. sugar to 1 T. cinnamon.
Drop spoonfuls or cookie scoops of batter into the cinnamon sugar, roll it around and put the cookies on an ungreased cookies sheet.

Bake at 375 * for 9-12 minutes

Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 C. Margarine
2 1/2 C. Brown Sugar
2 1/2 C. Sugar
3 Eggs
2 tsp. Vanilla
1 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
6 1/2 C. Flour
1 (12 oz) bag Mini Chocolate Chips - frozen

Mix Margarine, Brown Sugar, Sugar, Eggs, Vanilla, and Baking Soda.
 Add Flour and Mix well.
The batter will be thick and sticky.  It may not mix completely with your mixer - depending on what type you have - so just wash those hands, and stick them in the bowl and mix it up!
Next I add a full bag of frozen chocolate chips.  I like mini chips - I just prefer them. You use your favorite chocolate chip - but make sure it is frozen.  I have found that those frozen chips tighten up the batter, making the batter less sticky and the frozen chips improves the way the cookie bakes.  I like the look and the texture of the cookie when it has been made with the frozen chocolate chips.
Again, you might need to get those hands in there to mix it up.  Do not use your mixer to blend in the chocolate chips.  Once your batter is mixed drop by rounded teaspoon or with a cookie scoop on to an ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake at 375* for 10-12 minutes.
And there you have it! 
Cookies Three Ways!

Let me know if you try one of my recipes.
I would love to hear what you think!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Chicken Fried Rice

Wow...this was delicious!...I usually make a beef fried rice or a ham fried rice but today I made a Chicken Fried Rice and changed my recipe just a bit.  With the rising cost of ground beef lately I have been looking for alternatives.  This recipe was a keeper - my Husband said it was almost perfect.  What would have made it perfect for him?  More eggs....well that is easy to fix.  Next time I'll put in more eggs.

Remember these?
I used them in my Egg Roll recipe.  Usually I make a homemade sweet and sour sauce as my fried rice sauce.  That recipe is also in my egg roll post.  I just use half of the water to make the fried rice less sticky and I add some garlic and Worcestershire sauce, but today I wanted a little heat. I mixed together 3/4 C. Water, 1/4 C. Sugar, 2 T. Vegetable Oil,
5 T. Soy Sauce and the two seasoning packets. 
Just look at all those flavors!
Today I used my Wok.  I don't usually get it out but my large skillet was dirty and I decided the Wok would be easier.  I cooked 1 lb. Ground Chicken in the Wok.  I did not add other seasoning because I am adding plenty with the mix I have going on already.  The chicken is lean and will tend to stick.  I used 2 T. of Olive Oil in the Wok with the chicken.  I chopped about 2 C. of Carrots.
And Scrambled 4 eggs. 
My husband said I should have scrambled 6.
Once the Chicken was cooked I added the sauce and the carrots.
The carrots cook while the sauce reduces down.  I like the carrots with a little crunch left in them, so I don't cook them all the way.  Once the Sauce is reduced and the carrots are how I like them I add
 3 C. Cooked Rice.
And the Scrambled Eggs.
And I stir it all together.
The rice is done!
The heat in this mix was just right for me.  I don't like a lot of heat so if you really like it hot you can add some crushed red pepper flakes, but this was perfect, with the crunch of the carrot, the lighter chicken instead of beef and the spicy savory sauce.  I will definitely make this one again!

Let me know what you think!  

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


I think that people like their lasagna one way...once they find a recipe they like there is is very little variance in how they make it in the future.  If you are still struggling to find a good recipe maybe this will help....or maybe you will be adventurous enough to try a new one. 
Armed with my supplies I was ready to start. 
First I browned 1 lb ground beef in a pan with onion and garlic to taste.  It's my trio.  I always use garlic and onion in my ground beef.  Once it was done I drained the fat and added a jar of spaghetti sauce...sometimes I will use spaghetti sauce but usually I just use tomato sauce, today I had some olive oil and garlic flavored sauce on hand so I used it.
Now I am about to share a secret with you that I learned from the Pathologist I worked with who was from Italy.  He made the best Lasagna.  This trick really does make a difference.  He puts about 1/2 C. Table Cream into his red sauce.  Since I don't use table cream I freeze 1/2 C. portions when I buy the cream and then I just put the frozen cream into the sauce.  It melts quickly and changes the color and creaminess of the sauce just a little.
Next I place some uncooked Lasagna Noodles in the
 bottom of an ungreased 9x13 pan
I top it with 1/2 of a 24 oz. container of
 Small Curd Cottage Cheese
I top that with half of the meat sauce
And then I sprinkle Parmesan Cheese on top of that
Then I grate half of a 8 oz. package of Mozzarella Cheese on top
Now I repeat the layers
 And cover with foil
Bake at 350* for 1 hour with the foil on
Take the foil off and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes.
This is what you get...
You could serve this with some salad and homemade French Bread
How do you make your Lasagna?