Thursday, September 22, 2011

Meat and Taters


My man is like most men. He prefers a "meat and taters" kind of dinner and I made him a terrific meal the other night. My only problem in cooking meals like that is that we don't walk in the door until after 5:35 every weeknight. But I figured a way to make a great meal and I probably had this terrific "home cooking" type meal (known by lots of different names, "chicken fried steak", "breaded cube steak") within about 30 minutes.

How did I do it?

Well.. one of the best things I have discovered is that baking potatoes in the crockpot is the ONLY WAY TO GO! So easy. So, I had potatoes in the crockpot, breaded the meat and fried it in a skillet with a teensy bit of bacon grease (shhhh!), opened a can of vegetables and dinner was served. With this particular meal, I used the leftover flour and milk from breading the meat to make gravy (very frugal) and it was just A FEAST. Even though I'm not a "meat and potatoes man" (woman), I have to agree that this was a very satisfying meal!

My mom shared with me her tips for making "breaded cube steak" (that's what we call it) (because hers is THE BEST as far as I'm concerned) and I had great success with her method. I call it the, "double dip" method.

Here's how I made "meat and taters" AT HOME MY WAY:


Before I left for work:

I washed my potatoes (I actually did this the night before to save the morning rush from becoming too crazy). Before I left for work that morning, I tossed them in the crockpot (peeling on - no foil... just drop them in the crockpot), placed on the lid, switched the crockpot to low and headed out the door. They need to cook 8 hours, but that is no problem for me ha-ha.

Once I got home - potatoes were READY!

To make the breaded cube steak (chicken fried steak):

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup flour (or more, depending on how much meat you are cooking)
salt & pepper
1 1/2 cup milk
3-4 cube steaks
5 Tablespoons oil or bacon grease (being frugal, I save bacon grease and use that) you want enough to cover the bottom of a skillet, but not a deep puddle or anything ;)

Place flour, salt & pepper in a shallow bowl or pie pan. Stir throughout.

Place milk in a separate shallow bowl or pie pan.

First, open the meat, rinse if you wish to do that. Dredge the meat FIRST in flour. Then dip in milk (flip so both sides go in the milk), and AGAIN dredge in the flour (both sides). This double dipping is the key to my mother's delicious breaded cube steak.

Heat your skillet to medium. Once hot, place meat in the skillet. Let it cook a couple of minutes until brown on the underneath. Once brown, flip over to cook the other side. I continued cooking mine and flipping until the meat was done. You can see the juices running out if its not done yet. But, don't flip too early. You want that breading fully cooked to hold its shape and stay on the meat.


I made gravy. This is how I did it.

After all the meat was cooked, I turned up the skillet to heat the oil to hot. I stirred all the "drippings" to spread it all around good. Then, I dumped in the flour I used from breading the meat (approximately 1/2 cup). I stirred all around to absorb the flour in the grease (sorry... sounds gross, but its REALLY GOOD lol). Then I added the remaining milk that I had used from breading the meat (approximately 1/2 to 1 cup). Stir again to fully incorporate the flour into the liquid. Being the cheapo that I am, I did not want to add more milk and mine was pretty thick - too thick, so I added about 1/4 cup of water to this and kept stirring. I let it cook on medium and it became smooth and thick - GRAVY! YUM!


I remember eating this all the time when I was little. If we didn't have much meat, my mom cut the cube steaks into "steak fingers" and we were satisfied with a strip of meat, some gravy, and the potatoes, or we even sometimes just ate the gravy ladled over a slice of bread. This kind of meal really takes me back!


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Nachos for a Crowd - Family Nacho's



It seems we are all looking for new ideas for supper. One of my favorite blogs is called "Homemaking on the Homestead" and I found this recipe for "Nachos for a Crowd" on Crystal's blog. My pickier daughter decided this SOUNDED GOOD to her so I added it to my meal plan for this week and made it last night. IT WAS WONDERFUL!

I had already cooked some pinto beans (we love those with everything from taco's to rice & cornbread) and put some in the freezer in med-size containers, so I had them ready to go. I imagine you could use canned pinto beans and even a combination of one can of pinto beans and one can of refried beans would be good, because the recipes calls for you to mash half of your cooked pinto beans as you add it to the cooked hamburger. Anything like that would work.

We both LOVED this recipe! We decided it would be great to take for potlucks, to have for a dip when you have friends or family over, and also to freeze ahead for later. My daughter ate her Family Nachos on a warmed tortilla. I had mine over a bed of tortilla chips, and sprinkled with lettuce and fresh tomatoes.

This was REALLY, REALLY good! If you have ever eaten Nachos Belle Grande at Taco Bell, this was a similar dish!

I don't have a crowd at my house very often, so I'm calling them "Family Nachos" Here's how I made Family Nacho's AT HOME MY WAY:

Family Nachos (originally "Nachos for a Crowd" by Crystal Miller at the Homemaking on the Homestead)
  • Cooked Pinto Beans: 3 cups dry pinto beans (soaked overnight) + 12 cups water+1 T salt - OR 3 cups cooked beans in juice (not drained) (OR 2 cans of pinto / refried beans)
  • 1 - 2 lbs. hamburger (I used 2 pounds because we really enjoy the meat.)
  • 1 ½ cups salsa
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 1 packet taco seasoning (I only used half a packet and it was great.)
  • cheese, as desired (I used cheddar, and grated it myself, about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 can olives. sliced (I did not use) (optional)
  • lettuce and fresh tomatoes, as desired, chopped ,green onions, sliced (optional)
To cook the beans: Rinse, removing any stones from the beans, soak in a big bowl of water overnight (covered by at least 3 inches). Drain the beans, dump into a big pot, and refill with water (Crystal says to use 12 cups - I just make sure there is about 3 inches of water on top of the beans.) Add the salt. Start the beans in the afternoon or the day before.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 2 ½ to 3 hours or until beans are soft and cooked. Stir occasionally as they cook to loosen them up and keep them from sticking. Set pot of beans aside.

To make the dish: cook up hamburger in a large frying pan until done, drain any grease if necessary. Add salsa and mix. Now take a slotted spoon and begin scooping out the beans and adding them to the hamburger (I used approximately 3 cups of beans - with some juice). You want to have the beans a little bit soupy when you add them (but not too much). As you add the beans, mix and smash some of them. Dump this bean/hamburger/salsa mixture into an 9 x 13 pan.

In a small bowl mix the sour cream and taco seasoning together. Spread this over the top of the bean/hamburger mixture. I dropped it around and then spread like a frosting.

Sprinkle as much (or as little) grated cheese as you desire over the top of the sour cream.

Now sprinkle the olives, tomatoes and green onions on top of the cheese (I omitted this step as my daughter doesn't like the olives, tomatoes, or green onions. I saved the tomatoes, olives, and green onions to sprinkle on the top of the nachos at serving time.) Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes or things are melted and bubbly.

Serve this with or over tortilla chips, on warmed tortillas, taco shells or over a big green salad, topped with the lettuce and tomatoes!

I think this would be a great dish to take to a friend. Most kids would love this!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Menu Plan for the week of 9/19 -

Monday:

Breakfast - Leftover HM pancakes with HM apple butter (will post soon)
Lunch - PB&J & fruit

To Do: Mix up dumplings before bed and freeze for dinner Tuesday.

Tuesday:

Breakfast - HM Apple/Oatmeal muffins using Plain Muffin recipe, (use 1/2 cup sugar, sub in 1 cup oatmeal for flour + 1 grated apple)
Lunch - Leftovers from Nachos (as taco salad)
Supper - Chicken & Dumplings (chicken in the crockpot, add dumplings once home)

Wednesday:

Breakfast - Leftover muffins
Lunch - PB&J, fruit
Supper - Leftovers

To do: Bake bread

Thursday:

Breakfast - Smoothies or oatmeal
Lunch - PB&J, fruit
Supper - Baked potatoes in crockpot, cube steak, green beans/corn

To Do: Bake chocolate chip cookies, assemble ingredients for soup


Friday:

Breakfast - Cinnamon toast / chocolate milk using HM chocolate syrup
Lunch - PB&J or steak sandwich from leftovers
Supper - Hamburger soup

Saturday:

Breakfast - Surprise muffins or blueberry muffins
Lunch - Hu Hot with fam!
Supper - Snacks - having a big lunch

Sunday:

Breakfast - Bacon or sausage, biscuits, hashbrowns
Lunch - Making early dinner - spaghetti - so college girl can leave in good time, french bread, make some pocket sandwiches or roll ups with one loaf of dough
Supper - Snacks - late lunch / early dinner

To Do: Mix up muffins or get smoothie ingredients ready for morning.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Best Brownies Ever!

I have a friend whose daughter recently was diagnosed with Celiac, which requires her to eat only a gluten free diet. This means she has to avoid all things made of flour! That encompasses quite a large variety of things. In all of my blog reading, I have been noting any GF (gluten free) recipes so that I can share them with my friend. Sometimes I try the recipe out and sometimes I don't, but I knew my friend would NEVER try this recipe unless I could vouch for it being a good one LOL!

I had long read of Black Bean Brownies and Pinto Bean Fudge, but really couldn't see why anyone would want to purposefully eat such a thing! That is... until I realized they were made without any flour. Ah-ha! Gluten free!

I made a recipe that I found at one of my very favorite blogs (Finding Joy in My Kitchen). She posts delicious recipes and she sure cooks up a great variety of stuff! I got the recipe for these cookies (Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies) on her blog and my younger daughter makes these for us ALL THE TIME!

But when I tried the BLACK BEAN BROWNIES? OH MY HEAVENLY DAYS! These brownies are so rich and silky. They have the consistency of Little Debbie brownies (eek - from the box), but they have only great, healthy ingredients. Lots of protein in these little babies. Being the lover of SECRET ingredients (remember my zucchini cobbler ahem'' (apple)?") I left these brownies on my kitchen counter and my daughter, who is 18, gobbled these down! When I had my mom try a bite, my daughter yelled out, "What is in those? What have I been eating?" She had no idea and let me tell you, they are so DELICIOUS that once she knew, that didn't stop her from finishing them off!

I realize that not everyone wants to be so adventurous in the kitchen, but make these black bean brownies. You will be so glad you did! They are dark, rich, and chocolate-y! Yum! And how can you go wrong when they are loaded with good protein and are GF.

Here's how I make Black Bean Brownies AT HOME MY WAY:

(Note that you will need a blender or food processor to make these brownies.)

Black Bean Brownie Recipe (I'll post a picture the next time I make them.)

1 can (15.5) black beans, DRAINED and RINSED (use a collander) (GENERIC IS FINE!)
2 eggs
3 Tablespoons oil (olive oil would be a healthy choice)
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder (not baking soda)
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8 x 8 inch pan well with cooking spray.

In a blender, combine beans,eggs and oil. Puree (my blender setting was "liquify") til smooth. Then add the cocoa, sugar, baking powder, pinch of salt and vanilla to the ingredients already in the blender and blend again until smooth. I used my highest setting so that they were be really smooth.

Pour the batter into the sprayed pan.

Sprinkle with chocolate chips over the top of the brownies.

Bake 30 minutes or until they spring back a little bit to the touch. You can slide in a knife or toothpick to see if it comes out clean. If it does, they are done. Cool. Then slice. Refrigerate if leftover beyond two days.

NOTE: If they are for a gluten free friend, be sure to check the ingredients on your beans, cocoa powder, and chocolate chips. Somtimes they sneak flour into these ingredients. My generic ingredients, however, did not have any gluten so they were good to go.


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Friday, September 2, 2011

3 Ingredients - Super Easy Chili (can be Crockpot)

One of our daughters is Super Picky! But, I have to compliment her and say that at age 23, she is working hard to increase the variety of foods she likes. She doesn't like that she's so picky.

This is one of the recipes she found that she loves. I am a chili lover! I love all chili - no matter how bland, spicy, thick, thin, chunky, red, or brown. So it didn't matter to me which kind of chili she found that she liked, it was just nice to find a recipe that she did like because there are days that nothing satisfies like a big pot of chili!

A friend had us out for our now annual Christmas gathering and she made this terrific chili. It doesn't have any fancy ingredients, but its so good! If chili can taste silky - this does! My daughter went gaga over it and gobbled down two bowls. I could not believe it! So, definitely I started making this at home.

I cook hamburger and keep portions of about 1 1/2 pounds in my freezer for quick "meal starters" so dumping this in the crockpot before I left for work at 7:15AM took a total of about 5 minutes. And what a feast when I came home, even though it was 100+ degrees outside!

This is how I make Super Easy Chili (3 ingredients) AT HOME MY WAY:

Super Easy Chili - 3 Ingredients

Ingredients:


  • 1 1/2 pounds browned hamburger (drained)


  • 2 cans "chili beans" (I use generic or name brand. They're all good.) (not drained - dump in the whole can) (not kidney beans or pinto beans but the cans that say "chili beans"- I use ALDI)


  • 2 cans (15 oz each) tomato sauce (generic is fine here as well)


Dump all the ingredients in the pot or crockpot, give it a good stir. (If your meat is precooked and frozen, thaw in the microwave a few minutes so you can stir all the ingredients before it starts cooking.)You can cook this on top of the stove for 30 minutes to an hour, or cook in the crockpot on low however long you want (mine has to cook 8-10 hours) since all of the "ingredients" are already prepared and fully cooked.

*My friend adds a packet of chili mix to hers, but I like my chili a little more tomato-y and it works fine for me without, so I just don't use any. The "chili" beans have plenty of seasoning in them and the chili will still be seasoned and taste strongly of "chili".

**I think you could play with this recipe and add tomatoes, green pepper, salsa, or whatever you like to add to your favorite chili recipe.

(I tried to take a picture last night but had left my SD card at work. I'll get a picture posted once I take one.)


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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Fresh Fruit Cobbler - Peach!






This summer has flown past me this year and I have gotten little out of my garden or the farmer's market.  Thankfully, a good friend stopped by last Sunday on her way home to St. Louis.  She brought me some ripe peaches and they made the BEST peach cobbler!  They smelled SO GOOD!  I found a recipe for Fruit Cobbler in a recipe book created as a fundraiser for our Catholic School and it has some really good recipes in it!  I wanted something yummy but wasn't feeling particularly ambitious so I found a recipe for a cobbler that had a "crumble" crust.  Its really good and the peach cobbler was so delicious I had to share some with both my parents and my husband's mom!  What a treat!  Tasted like summer on a plate!  I will definitely be using this cobbler recipe in the future for whatever kind of fruit I have on hand!

This is how I made Fresh Peach Cobbler AT HOME MY WAY:

Fresh Peach Cobbler

4 cups any fruit or berries (I used sliced and peeled peaches)
1 cup sugar (probably could cut back on this)
1 Tablespoon flour
Topping/crust:
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1/3 cup Margarine/Butter (this is equal to 5 Tablespoons) (cold)
Instructions:

In a mixing bowl place the peeled, sliced fruit and toss with the sugar and 1 Tablespoon of flour.  Pour this fruit into a 10" baking dish/casserole dish.  Using the same bowl that you had the fruit in (no worries about the crumb topping having a little "peach juice" on it - I try to keep my dishes to a minimum when cooking), Mix the flour and sugar.  Cut the margarine into slices and using a pastry blender or fork, blend the butter/margarine until small and crumbly.  Sprinkle over fruit.  Bake at 350 degrees for 35 - 45 minutes or until slightly browned.

NOTE:  Remember that if you have a whole bunch of peaches, you can dip them in boiling water and then ice water similar to how you do tomatoes.



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