Monday, August 10

Changing my blog site

I realized last Thursday that my site name for FoodieCrystal was not really what I wanted my blog to portray. I am not a "Foodie" in the strict sense of the word as it is used today. I do love good food, but not all the recipes I'm going to post will be Foodie type recipes. I also want my site to feel like coming home and having a cup of hot chocolate on a cold day. I want it to be more of a discussion between you and me. So I decided to make my site a little more cozy. Please join me at
I have imported all recipes that have pictures with them to that site as well (and will add the rest when I have pictures of them). I am also making a few changes that you'll have to head over there to discover! Thank you for reading this blog thus far, I hope that you will join me in my cozy kitchen.

Friday, August 7

May Be Foodless Friday: Happy Birthday Val!

Welcome to May Be Foodless Friday. Today's post is Foodless since today is my younger sister's birthday, this post goes out to her.

This is Valerie on her birthday in 2007. Just before we moved to the midwest so my husband could attend grad school.
Valerie loves playing boardgames, getting her nails done,
she loves horses (she calls them cows), she also likes cows,
and she really loves her nephews (my sister has 4 boys).
This is my little sister with my baby when she came to visit (with my parents and brother). I have to tell you the story of my family come to see me and my baby. The first time they tried the freeway was closed in Wyoming (and Colorado) because of a HUGE snowstorm so they were unable to come that time and turned back. The second time they started out on Thursday, that night Valerie had a seizure and was put in the hospital. They kept her there and on Saturday the doctor came in to release her, my mom asked, "Valerie, do you want to go home" thinking that she would perk up to be leaving. She didn't perk up or even smile. They kept her in until later that afternoon when it hit my mom and she asked, "Valerie, Do you want to go see Crystal and the Baby?" She smiled and they soon started on their way to see us.

I love my sister, she is an amazing person! She came to see me even after being in the hospital (ok so it was really to see her nephew, but I'm okay with that!) I also think my mom is a saint! It took them 5 days to get from their house to mine - Thursday to Monday (they have to drive because of all the medical stuff they bring with them - not to mention wheelchairs and airplanes don't always get along.) Yet they came because to my mom family is that important and Valerie would have been mad at her if they hadn't. Hopefully when my husband finishes his degree and gets a full time job, we will be able to move closer to family. Valerie would love that (so would my mom).
Isn't this just so sweet?!?

I won't be seeing her this year for her birthday since she is 1311 miles or 19 hours and 53 minutes (that is time driving, going speed limit - no stops) away and life isn't permitting trips like that currently (which after what she went through to see me does make me feel like a horrible sister). I love you Val and we'll see you as soon as we can!

Happy Birthday Valerie!

Wednesday, August 5

Fettuccine Alfredo

I love really good alfredo sauce... I tolerate average and I gag down anything else. I have been experimenting with the basic Alfredo sauce for a while now. This time I made it I used evaporated milk, mainly because we had some that needed to be used and I wanted to see how it would turn out. So how did it turn out? It tasted sweeter than normal alfredo. It did not work for me. Cheese sauces should not be sweet (at least according to me), unless it is a cream cheese sauce - but that is a different subject all together.
So from my experiments with cream, half & half, and evaporated milk; go with cream. Heavy cream is best, half and half is okay, evaporated milk - just say no! As far as parmesan goes, freshly grated produces an alfredo sauce that is much more superior to store bought grated parmesan. The first time I made it with freshly grated my husband noticed, and he noticed the difference when I used pre-shredded cheese again. I now only make alfredo with freshly shredded parmesan. Yes it makes that much of a difference! There you have it, my two secrets for alfredo - fresh parmesan and cream.

To start, cook 2-3 oz fettuccine noodles according to package directions. I try to buy only whole grain or whole wheat noodles. I think they taste better and I feel they are healthier. I have not quite gotten ambitious enough to make my own pasta, I will probably do that someday.
While waiting for the water to boil, get the alfredo ingredients ready. You will need:
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
4 cloves garlic, sliced (or minced)
1-1/2 tsp olive oil or butter
1 Tbsp butter
I try to reduce the amount of dishes, so once the fettuccine is finished cooking, I drain it and keep it in the colander, rinse the pasta starch out of the pan and use the same pan to make the alfredo. It is important to rinse out the starches, or everything will stick to the pan.
Saute the garlic in oil until browned over medium heat. Turn burner off, but keep the pan on the burner.
Add cream and butter. Stir until butter is melted. Add cheese and fettuccine.
Stir to coat the noodles. TIP: If the cheese clumps together, turn the burner onto low and stir until the clumps go away. It usually only takes about 3-4 minutes.
Stir in about 1/8 tsp pepper and a pinch of nutmeg. It tastes better if it is stirred into the alfredo sauce than if it is sprinkled over the pasta.

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Lemon Pepper Chicken

Lemon-pepper is one of my favorite pairings for chicken as well as salmon. I really love the flavor that it gives the meat. It works best when you have fresh lemons and just ground peppercorn, but it still tastes good when using bottled lemon juice and regular black pepper. This time I used bottled lemon juice and fresh ground peppercorn.
The best way to cook chicken besides on open flame, is using a double broiler. Unfortunately I currently do not have access to one. I made it using a George Foreman Grill. This is NOT my preferred method as it usually tends to produce drier meat. However, an alternative method to a double broiler is to place the two racks in the oven at the top (one in the top position and the other just below it) and place a pan of water on the lower rack, then cook the chicken on the top rack, directly on the rack. I have done it, and it works, not as well, but good enough. This time I did not want my kitchen to be that warm, so I went with drier.

Lemon Pepper Chicken

Marinate the chicken in lemon juice (preferably overnight, not just 45 minutes before you are going to make it.)
Before cooking, sprinkle with pepper.
Cook until a meat thermometer inserted in thickest part of chicken reaches 160 degrees. Pictured below with Fettuccine Alfredo.


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Vegetarian Minestrone

I was trying to use up some celery and carrots and I ran across a Vegetable Minestrone recipe here. I only have a 3.5 qt crock pot so I tweaked the recipe a bit (as is normal). I really liked the way it turned out. I made it on Saturday because the weather was suppose to be cooler, but it didn't turn out to be cooler :(. We tried this soup with Parmesan, but the mozzarella really does make this soup (plus your wallet/bank account will like you more).

In your crock pot container, place 1 cup celery, sliced; one cup carrots, sliced; 1 medium onion chopped (about 1 cup); and 4 cloves garlic, minced.
Add 1 can vegetable broth (about 1-3/4 cups).
Then add 2 cups tomato juice (you could also add crushed tomatoes, or watered down tomato sauce, whatever you have on hand.)
Add the spices next: 1 Tbsp dried basil, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp dried oregano, and 1/4 tsp pepper.
Next add 1-14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained. Mix it all together.
Cook on low for 8 hours (give or take depending on your slow-cooker). Add 1 cup rotini pasta and cook for 20 minutes longer.
Top 2 cups soup with 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese. (Please excuse the blurry photo.)

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Stuffed Pork Loin

My husband and I bought an eight pound pork loin on sale about 2 months ago. That's right, 8 lbs (almost weighed as much as my baby when he was born, almost...) I cut it into more manageable portions. This is the last large chunk (I also cut two smaller pieces that I am going to be using this week to make a pork-chop recipe - but with pork loin cuts not pork chops.)

I really wanted to try cooking a stuffed pork loin in the Crock-Pot, why? I couldn't tell you, other than it is summer and the thought of cooking it in the oven sounded WAY too hot! So I tried it, and it didn't turn out too bad (stuffing was a little moist, but that was to be expected.)

Stuffed Pork Loin

To make the stuffing:
Follow directions on the package (I did use a bit more celery and onion than it called for.) DO NOT use as much liquid as it calls for, DO NOT DO IT! I would use at least 1 cup less, I only used 1/2 cup less, what was I thinking?!?
Saute onion and celery
Mix together stuffing (I have not tried home made stuffing yet, maybe I will this fall... we'll see.)
Place pork loin on cutting board, cut off excess fat (I omitted this step because I was in a hurry, and wished I had not. Well unless you like eating cooked fat, then you can leave it on.)

Cut the pork loin open (about 1/2 inch thick).

place stuffing in pork loin and pull the two ends together. Stuff as much stuffing inside as you can (Cram it all in!)

Place it in the slow cooker. No need to add any liquid. Cook on low for about 7-8 hours or until done. Using a slow cooker larger than 3.5 quart might be a good thing... or using a smaller pork loin.

Pull out of slow cooker. The meat falls apart so it isn't as pretty as when it is made in the oven, but my apartment was a lot cooler!

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Monday, August 3

Meals this past week 7/27-8/2

This past week we had:

Monday: Stuffed Pork Loin
Tuesday: Stuffed Pork Loin
Wednesday: Stuffed Pork Loin (Would have had Fettuccine this night, but I didn't go grocery shopping until after dinner)
Thursday: Grilled Ham & Cheese Sandwiches*, Strawberry & Blackberry Smoothie
Friday: Lemon Pepper Chicken and Fettuccine Alfredo
Saturday: Vegetable Minestrone
Sunday: Grilled Ham & Cheese Sandwiches*, salad, Strawberry & Blackberry Smoothie

I'll only have two recipes to post on Wednesday, but I have pictures of both of them and I'll be adding pictures to the smoothie recipe as well.

So I'm now able to post pictures of recipes on our blog... before I do so, I want to post pictures of my kitchen so you see what I have to work with.
As you can see I have hardly any counter space... so do not be surprised when I have a cutting board on the stove, etc as it is my largest workspace. (Note: I was going to wait until my kitchen was completely spotless and everything was put away, and then I decided to stop kidding myself, that will NEVER happen, there is just no room and I still have a whole box that is not going to be unpacked. It is not a small box - our son's carseat came in that box. The next place I live WILL have a larger kitchen! Would it be possible to have a smaller kitchen? I sure hope not!)

*No recipe for this one, as it was just a simple grilled ham and cheese sandwich... However, I must say that in order to make a good one, do the following:
Slice of bread
Cheese slices (cover bread)
Slices of Deli Ham
Cheese slices (cover ham)
Slice of bread
Another trick is cooking them on medium-low so the cheese gets all melted and gooey before the bread turns black. I really like these, they are a great comfort food.

Friday, July 31

May Be Foodless Friday: Baked Potatoes

Welcome to May Be Foodless Friday. Today we'll be discussing Baked Potatoes, which are easy, but time consuming - after all you have to let them cook in the oven for about an hour because we all know that microwaved potatoes are not that great, or do we? Time to rethink the microwaved potato.

For Christmas 2 years ago, my mother-in-law gave us a baked potato bag for the microwave. This wonderful home-made potato bag has made baked potatoes one of our 'quick' meals.

So how to get one of these wonderful potato bags? You can buy one (search for baked potato bag or sack), or make it yourself (or ask someone you know who loves to sew to make one for you). I have made a few and find that they are quite easy once you get going. When we get into a larger place and I get my sewing desk and machine back I will post pictures of how to make them. Until then if you have questions please feel free to contact me, there are also many places to find instructions online, each varies - just search for baked potato bag or baked potato sack.

How to make a Baked Potato Bag
Note: I am a beginner with a sewing machine so these won't be the most technical directions. I purposefully do not give dimensions as you can make them as large or small as you want to. I would hesitate to make it to too large (more than four potatoes at a time) though because I'm not sure how the potatoes would cook.

What you need

Sewing Machine
100% cotton Thread
100% Cotton fabric

*A couple of notes on batting, it would be best to get 100% cotton batting, however it is not necessary.
Also when buying the batting, if you buy low or medium loft you will need twice the amount. You will need to stitch the batting together to make it thicker.

You will need one piece of cotton fabric that is twice as tall as the piece of batting. Place the batting on the wrong side of the cotton fabric, line up the edges on three sides. Fold down the top of the fabric to cover the batting (you should only see the design on the fabric now.) Sew the three edges . Fold in half so the sewn edges are together. Sew the two edges that have been sewn together and surge(I just use the zig-zag stitch). Turn bag so stitching is on the inside and you have a potato bag.
View of inside the bags. FYI I made green one and my mother-in-law made the red one.
I've seen some where they actually quilt the whole thing, which may not be a bad idea to keep the batting in place, because after quite a few uses it starts to slip down in the bag. Another way to counter this would be to use two pieces of fabric and stitch the batting to all the edges.

Another thing I have seen is having a lip to close the potatoes in the bag. I don't think it is necessary, as our potatoes cook just fine without it, but it does look nicer.

To use:
Wash & Dry Potato, DO NOT PRICK (you can wrap the potato in a paper towel if desired),
Place in Bag, Microwave using your microwave’s potato setting (if you don’t have one, start with 4 minutes). You want to squeeze the potato while still in the sack, if it is soft then it is done. Some potatoes may need additional time. If more time is needed continue using 1 minute increments until done.
Tip: to get your potatoes nice and fluffy, take your potato when it is still nice and hot. Bang* it on a clean surface (counter, cutting board, etc) a couple of times, it will split open after the second or third time. Place on a plate, open split more and fluff with a fork.

Caution: You may need to use a hot-pad to hold the hot potato while banging it.

*Seriously Bang it on the counter! Take out your frustrations on the potato, it works great! Doesn't that potato look nice and fluffy?

Additional Uses: Day old rolls, Acorn Squash, Carrots, String Beans

Wrap the following in a paper towel
Sweet Corn; Remove Husk
Sweet Potatoes

100% Cotton – Machine Washable – Cold
****** Microwaves ovens may vary do not leave bags unattended when using – you should not leave the potatoes in the bag as they will steam and get it wet. Not recommended for use in microwaves without a working turntable.

Wednesday, July 29

Layered Beef and Bean Dip

So I was about to make nachos for dinner one night, but decided to do a layered dip instead. It worked well (I suggest if you want to use it more than once to layer the beans, hamburger and cheese separately so you can heat it up later (because cold hamburger - ew!)

Layered Beef and Bean Dip

1 can (15 oz) pinto beans
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp oil (I used olive oil, but it would be more flavorful if you used bacon drippings, or if you had a layer of fat from drippings after cooking a ham/chicken, etc)

0.5 lb Hamburger
1/2 cup onion
Taco seasoning

2 Cups Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup salsa
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup sliced olives
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup green onion, sliced
Tortilla chips/strips

In saucepan, place beans, garlic powder and oil. Mash the beans with a potato masher or fork. Cook on medium-low until heated through, stirring occasionally.
While beans are cooking, cook hamburger and onion until hamburger is browned. Add taco seasoning to hamburger.

In a 8-in square glass pan (or other dish - it could be fun to do individual dishes as well) arrange in the following layer:
1 cup cheese*
Sour Cream
1 cup cheese*
Green onion

Serve with tortilla chips or strips. Enjoy

*I separate the cheese because I really like the gooey cheese (the hot hamburger melts it). I also like the not melted cheese so this gives me the best of both worlds. You can put all of it on the hamburger to melt it, or all on top of the sour cream.

Fried Rice

This recipe is adapted from about 3 other recipes. I take what I like from them and add it together. One recipe called for green beans (green beans in Fried Rice?), another called for peas (I only like fresh peas straight from the garden, so that was a no go), mushrooms (hubby says no to), and bamboo shoots (I never have those), and another said to beat the eggs and soy sauce together (huh?). I actually tried the eggs and soy sauce thing, not so great. I never felt like the eggs got cooked enough (I am really don't deal well with eating raw eggs - yeah, no homemade eggnog for me!) I usually try to just use one pan for this so I cook the eggs before I saute the other ingredients. The ham I usually have left over from cooking a half-ham, which I usually buy when it goes on sale for $0.99 per pound. Tip: When buying ham, buy the butt portion not the shank (butt portion usually has smaller bones and more meat).

Fried Rice

3 cups Rice
2 Carrots, cubed or shredded (these should be as thick as matchstick carrots or they will turn mushy)
3 Eggs, scrambled and crumbled, unseasoned
1/2 cup Green Onions, sliced
1 clove Garlic, minced
2 cups Ham, cubed
1 tsp Sesame Oil (if you do not have this you can omit)
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Tbsp Soy Sauce (I use reduced sodium)

Using the Sesame and Olive oils, saute the carrots, green onions, ham and garlic in large frying pan or wok until carrots are crisp tender. Stir in rice and eggs. Add soy sauce. Serve while hot.

Strawberry and Blackberry Smoothie

This is a great refresher in the summer. I love smoothies and have tried a bunch of recipes (with yogurt, frozen yogurt, sorbet, sherbet, etc.) but I find this basic recipe works with most types of fruit to create a delicious smoothie. The amount of sugar needs to be adjusted with different types of fruit and according to individual preference. Honestly my weakness is using blueberries, it makes the most delicious smoothie ever!

Strawberry and Blackberry Smoothie
We got a bunch of bags of Strawberry and Blackberry frozen mix when they were on sale for $0.98 per bag. I also find that if I freeze strawberries that are too ripe to eat but not rotten that they add great flavor to smoothies.

2-3 Cups Milk*
2-4 Tbsp Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla*
1/4 - 1/3 Cup Wheat Germ, optional
1 pkg (12 oz) Strawberry and Blackberry frozen mix**

Mix milk, sugar, vanilla and wheat germ in blender, add fruit a few pieces at a time. Blend until there are no more fruit chunks.

* 1 Cup Vanilla Ice Cream can be used in place of 1 cup milk and the vanilla, you will also want to use less sugar.

**You can substitute 2-3 cups of any frozen fruit in place of the strawberries/blackberries. Some of the fruits we us a lot are blueberries, strawberries, and peaches. Blueberries are my ultimate favorite though.

Monday, July 27

Meals - July 20-26

This past week we had:

Monday: Fried Rice, cantelope
Tuesday: Chicken Taco Salad with tortilla bowl
Wednesday: Chicken Taco Salad
Thursday: Baked Potatoes with broccoli, Strawberry and Blackberry Smoothie
Friday: This day we ate out for our weekly date
Saturday: Tortilla chips with Layered Hamburger and Bean Dip, cantelope
Sunday: Tortilla chips with Layered Hamburger and Bean Dip, cantelope

We had so much cantelope because we got it on sale two weeks in a row. I won't be able to post pictures of the recipes that I made this past week, but should in the future as my kitchen is mostly put together (we recently moved into a smaller apartment for a few months and the kitchen is WAY too small for my liking. I will have to post a picture of it so you can see what I have to work with...) The recipes will be posted on Wednesday.

Friday, July 24

My Most Recent Success

So I have been trying to be more frugal in my food spending. We've basically stopped eating out and
I've been cooking more (I hadn't been cooking as much due to a new baby - I did make some freezer meals before he was born though). So what have I done that is so great? Well, I'll tell you. The other week Hubby and I bought a 5 lb chicken (on sale for $0.99 per pound). I cooked it in our crock pot and we had Lime & Herb Chicken and salad for dinner two nights in a row. I chopped up the left over chicken to use in Pineapple Chicken Quesadillas. We had those for two nights as well. There was still some left over chicken, so I put it in the freezer to use later. This week I decided to use the chicken to make Chicken Taco salad and we had that for two nights. Then we ran out of lettuce and knowing I still needed to use the chicken (because I dared not refreze it), I made Chicken Taco Soup which we had for lunch yesterday and there is enough for either Hubby or I today for lunch. So out of one chicken (that fit in a 3.5 qt crock pot) we had a total of 7.5 meals for two people. Recipes follow. However if you use the recipes you will need more chicken as I used the chicken mixture from the chicken taco salad to make the chicken taco soup (I only used 1-15 oz can of tomatoes for the soup).

In the future I will try to post pictures of all my recipes, but these were done while I was still trying to organize my kitchen after a move.

Lime & Herb Slow Cooker Chicken

This recipe was adapted from a recipe in Grandma's Best Loved Recipes. I was trying to make a cooked chicken and I wanted to try a new flavor. I had limes (not lemons like the recipe called for) and only dried herbs (not fresh like the recipe called for) and I did not have a few of the other spices, but I think it turned out great - there was just enough flavor, but not overpowering. Which was good because I made other recipes with the chicken.

Lime & Herb Slow Cooker Chicken

1 whole chicken (up to 5 lbs)

1 lime, cut into eights
2 tbsp parsley, dried
1 tbsp rosemary, dried
1 tsp thyme, dried
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 can (14 oz) chicken broth
1 small onion, cut into eights

4-8 cloves garlic

Rinse chicken, fill cavity with lime and herbs and about half of the onion and garlic. Close cavity with toothpicks or tie the chicken legs together. Place chicken in slow cooker, place garlic and onion around chicken. Pour chicken broth over chicken.
Cook chicken on low setting for 8 hours, or 4 hours on high setting or until done (meat thermometer reading 180 degrees Farenheit).

Pineapple Chicken Quesadillas

So I got this idea from a recipe card in a grocery store (it called for deli turkey, canned pineapple, and their store brand of some type of hot pineapple grilling sauce that I could never find - maybe they discontinued it?) Real chicken/turkey and fresh pineapple work best. As far as the sauce I've tried it with jalapenos and chipolte sauce, but the green chilies really make it (hence you don't see it calling for jalapenos and chipolte sauce).

Pineapple Chicken Quesadillas

I usually vary the amount of chicken and pineapple I use each time I make these, but I tried to give approximate amounts as a guide.

Chicken, precooked and cut or shredded - can also use turkey (about 1/4 cup per quesadilla)
Cheese, I use mozzarella (about 1/2 cup per quesadilla)
Pineapple, fresh is best - thinly sliced, but you can use canned (If using canned, you will want to either use crushed or cut the chunks or slices into smaller pieces. You will also want to drain the pineapple.)

8-in flour tortillas (2 per quesadilla)

Pineapple Sauce for Quesadillas (about 1 Tbsp per quesadilla) - recipe below

Spread pineapple sauce on tortilla, place in large nonstick skillet sauce side up. Layer with chicken, cheese and pineapple. Top with remaining tortilla. Heat over medium heat until hot. Cook each quesadilla 4 minutes or until light golden brown and cheese is melted; turning once.

Pineapple sauce for Quesadillas

Numbers are ratio - so I put twice as much pineapple as I do bell pepper and I put as much bell pepper as I do red onion - I don't actually measure ingredients for this, I may one day so I can make it more consistent.

2 Pineapple

1 Green Bell Pepper
1 Red Onion

2 Green Chilies

Chili Garlic Sauce (add to taste - I'm a wimp with hot stuff so I don't add more than 1/8 tsp)

Blend ingredients for Pineapple Sauce in blender or food processor until there are no chunks left.

Chicken Taco Salad

Summertime and salads just go together. I really love salads. I really do not eat them enough considering how happy they make me when I do. I thought I'd try a little different spin on a taco salad (I really love the taco salads at Mexican places where they use chopped chicken). The dressing for this salad is simply a 1:1 mixture of salsa and sour cream, it works wonderfully well!

Chicken Taco Salad

2 Cups chicken, shredded

1 (15 oz) can kidney beans
1 (15 oz) can corn
Taco seasoning to taste
water (1/2 - 1 cup)
9 cups Lettuce

2 tomatoes, chopped

1 can olives, sliced

salsa (your choice, I use mild)
sour cream

3 cups cheddar cheese, shredded

Tortilla chips or Tortilla bowl

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine chicken, beans, corn taco seasoning and water. Cook until heated through stirring occasionally (you may need to add more water as it cooks to keep it from becoming dry). While chicken is heating, rinse and tear lettuce for the salad (I use baby spinach, romaine or red leaf lettuce). Mix the salsa and sour cream at a 1:1 ratio, this will be the salad dressing.

Once the chicken mixture is finished, assemble salads (in tortilla bowls if using) with 1-1/2 cups lettuce, 3/4 cup chicken mixture, 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, olives and tomatoes to taste. Top with salsa-sour cream mixture. Serve with tortilla chips if not using tortilla bowls. Enjoy!

Chicken Taco Soup

So I really love Taco Soup, I had forgotten this until my baby was born and a friend brought over some so I wouldn't have to make dinner (thanks Lisa). I love soups and I also really love tortilla chips, so this is a great combination. I do not know if I'd ever really done a Chicken Taco Soup though, so I thought I'd try it with some leftover chicken mixture from a Chicken Taco Salad that we'd had (we didn't have any more lettuce...) It worked great!

Chicken Taco Soup

2 Cups chicken, shredded
1 (15 oz) can kidney beans
1 (15 oz) can corn
Taco Seasoning (doubled recipe)
1 can (29 oz) crushed tomatoes
1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes

tortilla chips
shredded cheese
sour cream

In a large saucepan combine chicken, beans, corn, taco seasoning, and tomatoes. Simmer for 30 minutes to allow flavors to blend, stirring occasionally. Serve with tortilla chips, shredded cheese and sour cream.

Taco Seasoning Mix

So I use taco seasoning a lot... and I was sick of buying it at the stores because I knew it is a little overpriced (as all pre-made seasoning mixes are). I toyed around with the amounts of the ingredients, until I found this combination, that works great. I have also found buying Cumin in the ethnic section of the grocery store is another great way to save money!

Taco Seasoning Mix

1 Tbsp milk powder
(can use 1/2 Tbsp corn starch)
1 Tbsp chopped onion
½ Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp paprika
¼ tsp salt (optional – do not use if the chili powder has salt)
¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp cumin powder
¼ tsp oregano
1/8 tsp black pepper

Combine ingredients in a spice grinder*, process until smooth. Add 2/3 cup water and mixture to 1 lb cooked ground beef, drained of fat. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and cook, uncovered 5-10 minutes, until thickened, stirring occasionally.

I also make a lot of this at a time and keep in a bottle in my spice cabinet.

*I use an inexpensive electric coffee grinder (if you do this do not use it to grind coffee as well - I don't have this problem as I do not drink coffee. :)

Monday, July 20

Welcome to my kitchen

About me:
I love to cook and create new things in my kitchen. I enjoy eating good food as well as making it. I try to be frugal, however, I do tend to splurge on some items now and again to try new things. Desserts are my downfall - I love making them. As there are just two of us eating currently, we do eat leftovers (or as we like to call them - planned-overs) quite frequently, or we use them for lunches. I try to be good about not wasting food, but I err on the side of caution when it comes to food I'm not sure about.

Currently I'm living in an apartment with a tiny kitchen, but that does not stop me from making lots of food (I may just have a few more mishaps - like melting a bowl on the stove...) I have been married for 3 and 1/2 years. My husband and I just had a baby boy in March, and he is the joy of our lives.

With the exception of this first week or so, I will try to post with the following schedule:
Monday - Meals for the week past
Each Monday I plan to post the meals we ate during the past week. Why the past week and not for the coming week like most blogs? I don't always stick to my 'planned' menus. Thus if I post what we actually ate, I know that it won't change with my whims (I assume some other people also have those days when they really do not want to eat what is planned for that day).
Wednesday - Recipes for the week, each recipe will be in a separate post so the number of posts each Wednesday will vary.
I will try to post pictures of the recipes, but that will depend on how busy I am with my life in general. The first few recipes will not have pictures until I make them again, mainly because I just started this blog and didn't take pictures of those.
Friday - Random post about cooking, mishaps in the kitchen, other hobbies, Motherhood, etc.
These can include shortcuts, substitutions, my obsession with boardgames or birdwatching, or just random ramblings.