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Monday, September 30, 2013

Soups & Stews #2

Real Simple Black Bean Soup (from Real Simple magazine)

1 to 1 1/2 cups                 fresh salsa
1 Tbsp                            olive oil

Sauté salsa in oil until crisp

1 can                     black beans
1 can                     refried beans
1 can                     chicken stock

Boil 3-4 minutes

Stir in
Salt, cilantro, lime juice, garlic and pepper if desired

Top w/ sour cream and taco strips or chips if desired

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Soups & Stews #1

There are many variations to Dumpling Stew. This one is vegetarian, but you could add diced chicken with the onion in step one to add protein. Enjoy!

Vegetable Stew with Herb Dumplings
medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
tablespoon vegetable oil
 cup uncooked orzo or other pasta
carton (32 ounces) chicken broth (4 cups) or vegetable broth
teaspoon ground mustard, opt
bag (16 ounces) frozen sweet peas, potatoes and carrots, thawed
can (15 to 16 ounces) great northern beans, rinsed and drained
cup biscuit mix
cup cornmeal
teaspoon dried oregano leaves
teaspoon dried basil leaves
cup fat-free (skim) milk
Total Time: 4 hours 30 min
Cook onion in oil in Dutch oven over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp-tender.
Stir in pasta, broth, mustard, vegetables and beans. Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally.
Stir together Bisquick mix, cornmeal, oregano and basil. Stir in milk just until dry ingredients are moistened.
Drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto boiling stew; reduce heat to low. Cook uncovered 10 minutes. Cover and cook 10 minutes longer.
High Altitude (3500-6500 ft) Cook dumplings uncovered over low heat 12 minutes. Cover and cook 12 minutes.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Prepared Pantry

The cooler weather means one thing to me--besides football, easy, delicious comfort meals! I remember the delicious smells coming out of my mom and grandma's kitchens on Sundays and I remember a lot of good times. I wonder how many memories are tied to smells --and food, of course!?

I do not proclaim to be a great chef--although I am getting better--for a good story ask me about the first meal I ever made for my husband. I do proclaim to have a good handle on being organized, and that includes in the kitchen. So what do I have on hand, and how can that help you to "whip up a meal out of thin air" at a moments notice? Thanks for asking, I am all too happy to share.

Salt & Pepper
Garlic (salt or powder)
Onion (flake is my favorite)
Fennel (cuz it's awesome)
Chili powder
All of these can be found in fresh or dried form--or frozen if you grow you own.

In the Pantry
Beans --I keep black, Great Northern, kidney and garbanzo on hand
Chicken, Beef and/or Vegetable stock
Jiffy Baking mix (or whatever brand you like)
Potatoes--or instant potatoes
Tomato sauce and paste

In the Fridge
Carrots **
Celery **

Ground Turkey or Beef
Mayo-I like the Olive Oil Best Foods
Soy Sauce
** Both can be chopped and frozen for future use

These ingredients can be combined to make hundreds of meals. I will share some of our favorites in an upcoming Soup & Stew series. These items are all relatively inexpensive--with maybe the exception of the meat, which is optional in many recipes, and most of us have it on our grocery lists. It has been 15 --yes 15--days IN A ROW that I have made dinner this month! That hasn't happened since 2010, or so. My all time high (keep in mind I've been married for 15 years) was 17 back in 2007. So here's to turning over a new leaf--a healthier lifestyle--cuz apparently I can't do it just for me, but I can to keep my kids healthy.

Tune in for tantalizing, easy meals that please even the pickiest of eaters.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Fun Fall Festivities

It flew by so fast, I almost didn't realize that my Summer is almost over! Here's to cooler weather, football, Halloween, soups & stews, cool nights and lots of fun! I am always trying to keep our weekends fun, but they are not often relaxing. Even though our lazy summer days are dwindling, some relaxation is necessary no matter what it looks like outside.

Here are a few ideas to keep you happy and having fun this Fall!

Visit a Farm--locally you can visit the Peterson Pumpkin Patch (click here) or Wheeler Farm (click here). These events are free to check out, of course if you buy something that's a different story.

Farmers Markets-- Here's the link to great, fresh food. Also free to wander and "people watch" if you'd like.

Gardner Village-- link here. We love to see the displays and witches for Halloween here. It's one of our favorite family events. Checking out the witches--free!

Conservation Garden Park-- I could go on and on about how awesome this place is, but you have to check it out yourself. Here is the info link. Free to walk around and some free classes.

Thanksgiving Point--Click Here for Details
Take a drive to see the trees changing colors- If you live close click here for some great ideas!

On those days you don't feel like going out--or Heaven forbid, the snow flies early, check out these indoor ideas.

Halloween Bingo--download free Bingo Cards here

Leaf Rubbings- get out the old crayons and rub leaves onto paper. Use butcher or craft paper (from Hardware stores) to make awesome wrapping paper.  Details Here.

"Scary" Kids Movies- I made the mistake (yes, I am admitting I make parenting mistakes) of showing our kids Frankenweenie--and we had nightmares for a week. Here's a list, to use at your own parental discretion, of some suggested "not too scary," kid friendly movies. Click here.

Halloween Cookies--these are so cute and EASY!  
  Straight Pretzel sticks in mini Reese's cups or (below) Fudge Striped cookies, turned upside down and topped with frosting and a Hershey's kiss.


 Last but not least you can always get those Christmas Ideas going. (I realize Thanksgiving is between all of this, but if I posted everything at once, you wouldn't come back and check the Blog.) So just to get a head start on Christmas check out these ideas!

Happy Fall!