Monthly Archives: March 2015

A Celebration!!

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Twenty-four years ago today I was blessed with this wonderful little blonde person who came into my life.  If you haven’t already figured this out, I love love love my family!  Mike, Brandi and her husband Hyatt, Brice and Kristy — they are all the total bomb and my world revolves around them.  They are IT.  So, I’m going to share a favorite food of Mr. Birthday Boy Brice today, and also some pics and memories of the journey.  This guy:
Brice

He lives in Oklahoma now, for the most part, but on his rodeo and roping journeys, and holidays, comes home to give Mom a hug(s).  He probably hasn’t gotten off a horse to read my blog yet, but maybe this will entice him.  Whenever the munchkins are coming home, I always ask for requests for food.  Next month I’ll feature another favorite of not only Brice, but his sister Brandi, whose birthday is in April.   Everyone at my house loves vegetable beef (hamburger) soup and it freezes so well, that throughout college, I sent it home in small containers to be heated up at a later date.

The whole rodeo thing kinda began like this:
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and progressed to this:

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Go Round and Fast Time winner at the NHSRA Finals

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Many, many great memories with my kids on the rodeo trail.  Cooking in a horse trailer is somewhat similar to cooking on a boat I’ve found.  Simple, easy dishes are the best.  This recipe is one that could go from the freezer to any means that you have to heat it up:  microwave, stove, campfire.

So here’s the recipe.  I’ve actually never written this down and measured anything, so bear with me.  You will notice that I use frozen veggies – I personally don’t like green beans in my soup, and if Mom isn’t a fan, it’s probably not showing up in my recipes.  However, I do fresh carrots if I have them on hand.  You can pick what fits your cooking style and time frame best.  My friend Kristi used to throw in cauliflower and some other stuff, and man was it amazing.  Remember how your version is never as good as your Mom’s, well, same case with Kristi’s soup – I cannot really replicate her version.  So, enjoy some soup, and hug your kids today. They grow up WAY too quickly, and then don’t fit on your lap anymore.  ~Connie

Hamburger Vegetable Soup

  • Servings: a hungry crowd
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Ingredients:
1 lb. ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove minced garlic
1 can petite diced tomatoes
1 can beef broth
1 cup diced potatoes
1/2 bag frozen peas and carrots
1/3 bag frozen corn
1/3 cup red wine
1 bay leaf
Dried basil, salt, pepper and parsley to taste

Brown ground beef well, breaking apart.  Drain drippings and discard.  In large soup pot, saute onions and garlic in butter until onions are tender.  Add ground beef and remaining ingredients, stir well.  Bring to a boil, then reduce temperature.  Simmer until veggies are tender.  You may need to adjust liquids (beef broth).  Remove bay leaf before consuming, or watch someone find it.  Your choice..

Not really soup, but REALLY good!

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We had to be gone for awhile yesterday, and since I’m planning to take advantage of the nice weather and grill all week, I thought I’d throw this easy dish into one of my favorite cooking devices, Mr. Crockpot. A.K.A. I’ll have your food ready when you return!

Before I share this yummilicious recipe, I want to let you know to keep your eyes open in the coming weeks for several guest bloggers.  Kristal is a graduate of a culinary school, and anything she makes tastes amazing, and looks even better. Not sure what she has in store for us, but I know it will be easy and delish.  Heather is a busy working mom with 2 kids who keep her running like crazy.  She is going to feature some great ways to make your mornings easier.  I’ve been treated to breakfast at her casa, so trust me on this one – it’ll be good.  And last but certainly not least is Erin who will share some fancy twists on simple dishes that are, of course, easy to make at home.

So back to my Crockpot Cheese Tortellini and Sausage (soup?).  Actually not sure if this is a soup or not, but really good.  I served it with fresh salad and french bread.  MB also thought strawberry shortcake sounded good, and the berries are finally starting to be sweet (and it you catch them at the right time, they won’t break the bank.)  I assembled the ingredients and many times I just 1/2 the recipe since it’s just the two of us.  I did it with this one but probably should have gone for the whole shebang as leftovers for lunch are pretty solid too!

soup

I prepped my friend CP (Crock Pot) with a disposable liner, browned my sausage and threw all ingredients in.  Note that I just grabbed some spinach off of the salad bar at the grocery store since I was only making 1/2 a recipe and didn’t want to waste what I wouldn’t use out of a big bag.  It’s a good idea to give it a stir mid way through, but if you are gone, as I was, just stir when you return to melt and redistribute the cream cheese.  I can’t say this LOOKS delish, but it is!  Enjoy!
sausage soup

Crockpot Cheese Tortellini and Sausage

Ingredients:

1 (19 oz.) bag frozen cheese tortellini
1 lb. sausage
1 bag fresh spinach
2 cans Italian style diced tomatoes
2 cans low-fat chicken broth
1 (8 oz.) cream cheese, cut into cubes

Brown the sausage in a skillet on the stove top until cooked and crumbled, drain.
Add the sausage and remaining ingredients to a 6-quart slow cooker.
Stir to combine. Cook on LOW for 5 hours, stirring twice during cooking.

Friday, work? Nope

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MB and I took the day off today, and went to Kansas City to visit the new IKEA store.  Amazing.  Not really overwhelming as there’s kind of a path through the levels of the store.  The first thing you will do, when you enter the store, is find out where the unbelievable aroma of cinnamon rolls is coming from.  Turns out a dollar bill, yes, $1 will get you a delicious homemade cinnamon roll (right out of the oven) and another $1 will add a drink to that.  At this point, I knew our date day was lookin even better!  However, after the cinnamon roll we both needed a bath due to the icing, but heck, it’s all good.  You can even purchase a container of 6 for a whopping $4.  Enough said.

We had a great time perusing the aisles, but really aren’t in need of furniture.  We did decide that if you happen to be adding a little monkey to the family soon, or need furniture or a wide variety of storage stuff, great place to stop.    There’s a kitchen section where i kinda lost it.  In fact, I told MB that I now know why he loves Home Depot and Menards so much.  I could still be there now (and he liked it too).  We left with a random selection of stuff.  Note…tags and labels are not in English, but if you look closely, there will be a translation.  For example, we bought some Sinnlig’s….aka scented candle in a glass.   They also have some very unique and appealing food items, but if it’s something you cook, you’ll be loving the cooking temps.   Like who sets their oven at 292 degrees?  Interesting.

The day continued with a visit to a really good BBQ joint that has been featured at Diners, Drive-In’s and Dives.  Their specialty is homemade smoked jalapeno sausage smoked in a corn husk.  I should just stop there.  Name of this place is RJ’s Bob Be Que, and Bob will be cooking.  Cold beer, BBQ and a day off.  Need I say more????

What a way to spend a Friday.

Meatloaf Thursday (Wait, Give Me a Chance!)

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Don’t panic!  I know there are meatloaf haters out there, and my kids are probably in that category.  However, I’ve tried a lot of different recipes and finally found something DELISH!  I’ve even made meatloaf cupcakes (thanks @Erin) and they were good and fun as well.  My key ingredient is this, and I went with Hy-Vee brand but there are many others available.  The key is BEEFY ONION soup mix.  Just. My. Opinion.

meatloafI’m all about flavor, so I top with a couple different ketchup-based toppings before baking, and wow, yummo.  Tonight I even topped half with a ketchup/brown sugar topping and the other with a chipotle sauce.  Both were really fantastico – just depends on your liking.  If I don’t add something spicy during the cooking process, MB (the hubster) will add it at the end.  I took a pic of our plate but it didn’t look so wonderful, so you won’t see it here.  However, it was one of our best meals.  I will share recipe for the meatloaf below, but i also served fresh steamed broccoli, garlic/parmesan french bread, roasted red potatoes and some delicious salad with romaine and chopped veggies.

So potatoes:  I took red new potatoes and placed them in a plastic bag with a little water.  Don’t seal the bag and don’t pierce the potatoes.  I microwaved until about done, then chopped them in halves or so, placed in a pie pan covered in foil and baking spray (I DO NOT want more dishes to wash) and added some slices of butter, then garlic salt and Lawrys seasoning.  Throw those in the oven while the meat loaf is finishing.  I did put them on low broil at the end to get a nice crust and they were, well, solid!

The really great part about this recipe is that it freezes so well.  Nothing better than having to not stress about dinner after a long day. Whip it out of the freezer the night before and in an hour, voila!  I often serve this with my amazing cheesy potatoes which I do the same with ….freeze in smaller amounts.

Meatloaf

  • Servings: depends on the size of your dish
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Ingredients:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray baking pan with non stick spray.

2 lbs. ground beef
1 envelope beefy onion soup mix
3/4 cup “seasoned” bread crumbs  (not Italian, if you can’t buy seasoned, use plain)
2 eggs
3/4 cup water
1/3 cup ketchup
Seasoning salt, garlic salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients well.  Place in baking dish and cover with mix of ketchup and brown sugar, or chiptole sauce for the spicy people in your life.   Let stand before serving

Easy Pizza Casserole

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Yep, Monday happened yesterday, and so did this go to recipe, that my friend Trish shared with me.  Of course I’ve “edited” it a little but it’s so easy and flexible you can adjust to the likings of your famliy very easily.

So here’s a pic of some of the ingredients:

photo 1Start with a casserole dish coated with cooking spray, and cut your biscuits in half with kitchen shears.  YES, kitchen shears.  A wonderful invention.  I ripped mine off from my mom and they cut everything!  Chicken wings when we fire up the smoker and everything else in between.  Highly recommended!!!!  (shhh, she doesn’t know I have them).

biscuits

addl ingredients

Brown a pound of ground beef with chopped onion, add a little minced garlic at the end.  (Garlic needs to be cooked just until fragrant, not browned.  Burnt garlic should be promptly delivered to File 13, aka trash.)  These are 2 ingredients I added cuz we love tasty at our house!   I should have used fresh garlic, but hey, it’s Monday and I’m tired and I LOVE this minced garlic in a squirt bottle.  Once you brown and drain the above ingredients, I add a little cut up turkey (less fat) pepperoni, warm it up and then add your favorite spaghetti sauce.  Place this delicious dish of sauce and meat on your biscuits, and bake for about 20 minutes or so.

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Love those kitchen shears!

Remove from oven and cover with your favorite mix of italian blend, mozzarella, cheddar, and in this case, I topped with a few ropes of provel (mixture of provolone, cheddar and swiss cheese).  Just use your favorite cheeses and it will be delish!  Bake for about 10 min longer to let the cheese melt and ENJOY!  I didn’t get a pretty pic of this plated because we were starving, but here’s an afterthought pic.  Was so easy peasy and a nice end to the first day back in the work week. Definitely worked for really yummy lunch leftovers today.

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Easy Pizza Casserole

  • Servings: depends on the size of your dish
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Ingredients:
The following ingredients make a 8×8 or 9×9 casserole, so adjust for your gang!

1 tube biscuits
1 lb. hamburger
Handful of turkey pepperoni, cut in pieces
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves of minced garlic
Jar of spaghetti sauce
Choice of various shredded cheeses
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray dish with nonstick spray and cut biscuits into rough 1/3 sizes to cover bottom of dish.  Brown ground beef and onions, add garlic and cook until fragrant.  Drain and add cut pepperoni, cooking until warmed through.  Add spaghetti sauce and spread over top of biscuits.  Cook for about 20-25 minutes or so, then remove from oven and top with desired cheeses.  Return to oven for 10 min or until cheese is melted.  ENJOY!