Tastes Like Home

You know how there’s some recipes that no matter how many times you make them, they NEVER taste as good as the first person who made it for you?  This is why I don’t try to make my mom’s chicken stew or meatloaf.  This is why I’ve never even tried to make roasted red potatoes like my Aunt Chelle.  And even though I’ve tried to make pasta salad like my Aunt Alice, it just never tastes as good.

Well, friends this recipe I’m about to share isn’t quite like mom would make, but it reminded me a lot of mom’s scalloped potatoes!

Except it was a breakfast casserole.  But just go with it, m’kay?

This casserole, which came together in a snap was not only easy, but filling, satisfying and quite inexpensive to make.  It served as a teamwork dinner, and provided leftovers for one night for both Elizabeth and I, as well as dinner for me tonight.  Hooray for leftovers! 🙂

So why did this remind me of mom’s scalloped potatoes and ham?  I think it must have been the combo of ham and onions, whose smell wafted from the oven, torturing us until the blessed timer went off signaling time to dish up!  But I literally opened the oven and was taken back to Christmas break when mom and I made those deeeeelightful scalloped ‘taters!  Sigggghhhh……..anyways…

 

Farmer’s Casserole

Adapted from “The New Better Homes and Garden’s Cook Book”

 

The Goods

Nonstick cooking spray

Frozen roasted baby red potatoes, or other frozen potato (enough to cover the bottom of the pan)

A couple handfuls of shredded (cheddar) cheese

1 small package of Canadian bacon, diced

1/2 small onion, chopped

4 eggs

1 1/2 cups milk

salt and pepper to taste

 

The Method

 

 

 

1. Lightly coat pan with non stick spray; pour in enough potatoes to cover the bottom of the pan

2. Layer Canadian bacon and onions and one handful of cheese on top of potatoes

3. Beat eggs with milk, salt and pepper, then pour over potatoes

4. Bake, uncovered at 350* for 40-45 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.

5. Let stand 5 tortuous minutes before serving

 

And voila!  A tasty, inexpensive, healthy CUSTOMIZABLE dinner!  Use whatever kind of potatoes you like.  Use whatever kind of cheese you like!  Don’t like Canadian bacon?  Use ham or regular bacon.  Or skip the meat and add veggies.  It’s a blank canvas 🙂

A lovely dinner, especially when accompanied by toast and broccoli (and the obligatory squirt of ketchup).  This would obviously be excellent for a breakfast/brunch also.  Or lunch.  So basically, you can eat it any time of the day 🙂

Well, this weekend went by in a hurry!  From Elizabeth’s senior recital, to shoe shopping to homework, it’s been full.  But I’m looking forward to my mom’s visit tomorrow!  It’s going to be short and sweet, but I’ll take it!  I wish my dad could come too, but it’s only a few more weeks until summer break.

I’m sure I’ll properly document my mom’s visit, which will include an inexpensive dinner and ice cream.  Perhaps some more cookies and cream?  And guess what?  ED isn’t invited.

Blessings!

Beth

 

Pizza Pizza!

Who likes pizza?  This girl!  And probably most of you, too 🙂  I made this pizza a couple of weeks ago, and just had to share.

In the past, a meal like this may or may not certainly would have struck fear in my heart.  “Carbs and cheese and FAT, oh my!”  While I still struggle with allowing myself to eat enough, I’m not nearly as scared of that pizza anymore.  Guess what!  Carbs = energy.  Cheese = calcium.  Fat = healthy in proper quantities.  Take that, ED! 😛

The other day, when this pizza craving struck, I took stock of my groceries: I had some leftover sauce and cooked ground turkey to use up before heading out on Spring Break, and what better way to use it than this?  Not only did it fulfill my pizza craving, but it kept me from wasting food, AND it fed me dinner for a couple of nights!  Oh, and did I mention how easy it was to throw together?  ‘Cause it was a piece of cake…er, pie.  😉

First, I mixed up a quick Bisquick crust – and I do mean quick.  Bisquick + water, people.  That’s it!  I tossed that in the oven for a little pre-bake while I rounded up the rest of my toppings.

Some mushroom pasta sauce

…precooked ground turkey

…shredded cojack cheeeeeeese

…and some chopped up roma tomatoes, and we were in business!

A quick 12 minutes in the oven gave me enough time to throw together a quick salad, and then *ding-ding-ding*…it was dinner time!

Ohhhhhhh yeah!  Look at that lightly browned crust, the melty cheese, the CHEESE!  The crust definitely didn’t taste like a traditional yeast crust, more resembling a biscuit (huh, imagine that!), but it still tasted great.  The sauce soaked into the crust just a bit, and the toppings worked together quite well.  Can’t beat oven-roasted tomatoes!  Or homemade pizza, for that matter.

Serve it up with a green salad and a tall glass of water, and you’ve got it made.  College-kid dinner, for the win.

Extra Easy Pizza

Adapted from Betty Crocker

The Goods

1 1/2 cups Bisquick mix (I used the “heartsmart” variety)

1/3 cup very hot water

Your favorite pizza/marinara sauce

toppings of choice

CHEESE

 

The Method

1. Heat the oven to 450* and grease the pizza pan.

2. Stir together the bisquick and hot water (beat about 20 strokes) until a soft dough forms.

3. Press dough into the pan, then bake for about 2 minutes.

4. Carefully remove the pan from the oven.  Cover with sauce, then arrange toppings as desired.

5. Bake 12-15 minutes more, until cheese is melted and bubbly and crust is lightly browned.

 

This pizza couldn’t be easier!  And as far as creativity in toppings goes…you’re limited only by your imagination.

Go forth and make pizza!

Blessings,

Beth

P.S. Don’t forget, you can now keep up to date via Facebook!  Just click here to “like” Make Food Not Body War 😀

 

 

The Joy of Spring Break

No joke, Spring Break is one of the fastest weeks of your life.  It felt like it was time to pack up and get back on that airplane just after I landed!  But there’s no sense in fussing over the speed at which break flew – that certainly won’t bring it back!  Instead, I’ll remember how much fun I had and remind myself that there are less than 8 weeks left in the semester…thank the Lord.

Break was filled with family time, cooking, bowling, double dates, church, nice meals out, scenic drives, shopping, a lovely lunch date, homework and…*drum-roll*…relaxing.  It’s been awhile since I’ve gone so days without a tummy ache!  I think that’s a sign of chillaxin’ 🙂  Also found in my break were excellent conversations – all uplifting, but some very challenging.  More on those in another post…I’ve written several serious posts lately, so it’s time for something more lighthearted! 🙂

I didn’t take pictures of everything, but I did capture a few moments!  First up, the scenic drive.  Flathead Lake is gorgeous, no matter the season or the weather.  Sunny?  The water is blue and clean, framed by snowy mountains and outlined in pine trees and rocky beaches.  Stormy?  The water’s white-capped fury is breathtaking yet frightening, the gray clouds reflected in the dark water.  We got a mixture – sunny but windy.  Have a look!

Here’s the cloudy look, minus the whitecaps.  But would you look at those mountains?!

And true to Montana weather, the sun came out a few moments later.  It amazes me that looking a different direction will provide an entirely different looking mountain range.  And people say there is no God?  Crazy.

And then there was cooking.  Hooray!

First, I made some biscuits.  They’re just a simple buttermilk biscuit, using this recipe.  The only change I made was that I used all purpose flour rather than white whole-wheat.

Super easy recipe – mix dry ingredients, cut in butter, add buttermilk, knead, then roll out and cut!

I baked just a few of them, then froze the rest in a ready-to-bake form.  Easy peasy!

One evening, I went over to my bestie’s house to make some festive shamrock cookies.  And chat, but that’s a given.

Chelsey had everything out and ready to go when I got there.

After mixing up a quick dough and letting it chill for a bit, we got to cuttin’ cookies.  We had two different shamrock styles and…an elephant.  I found the elephant in mom’s bag o’ cookie cutters at home and thought “eh, what the heck!?”  And Chelsey said “bring it!”  So we made shamrock cookies AND elephant cookies.  Then, with the leftover dough, we made little twisted circles.  After baking them, it was decided that they looked like poo…so it must have been from the elephants!  I swear, we ARE adults…

These chocolate mint cookies, finished with a chocolate coating, were tasty!  You can find the recipe here at the Taste of Home website…although it looks like you have to be a member of their website to see the recipe.  Or you could pick up the February/March copy of the magazine 🙂

Who likes brownies?  How about if I add peanut butter?  Yeah?  I thought so 🙂

Basically, I took those ingredients….

…and turned them into this!  I followed this recipe, except instead of using the frosting in the recipe, I just made a simple “drizzle” with powdered sugar, peanut butter and margarine.  SO tasty!!

I kept myself busy in the kitchen.  After these brownies, I made some Irish Soda bread.  It came out a little tough, but I may or may not have used a little too much buttermilk….oh well…live and learn, right?

Instead of making one big loaf, I made two little ones.  Ain’t they cute?!

They sure did come out nice and golden!  I followed this recipe, except I omitted the raisins, and cut the baking time to 30 minutes.

Sadly, I failed to take pictures of my final kitchen project.  Blame it on fatigue and hurry…both are accurate!  Good thing Dana over at My Little Celebration (where I found this recipe) takes LOVELY photos!

These Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins were divine!  Moist, dense, sweet (but not too sweet)…so tasty.  I want to make them again.  Right now.

Well, this pretty much covers the things I photographed over break.  Coming to you soon shall be a simple pizza recipe and reflections on some of the conversations that took place over break.  Such good conversations.

Take care, friends!

Blessings,

Beth

 

Recipe and Resolutions

Hello, and happy New Year!  I’m still quite enjoying myself here at home…and I’m still geeking out over the full kitchen with all the  “staples” I need to delve into whatever baking/cooking project my heart desires.  Oh, and I’m diggin’ the home-cooked deliciousness (we’ll just pretend like I don’t cook most of it 😉 )  But being able to cook things in normal quantities without having leftovers for years is lovely.  For example, I’d probably never cook my mom’s scalloped potatoes for less than four people.

Enough rambling…what I’m saying, is we made scalloped potatoes and they were amazing!  Soft, warm, slightly creamy, cheesy (CHEESY), lightly peppered…and the ham!  The best part is…this is basically the easiest recipe ever.  Watch and learn, my dears!

Quit drooling.  Just read the post, then go cook! 🙂

This is one of those recipes that we loosely follow…as in we put the ingredients in, but don’t measure much.  So peel, slice, and rinse an amount of potatoes that seems right.  For two dishes, we used maybe…ten small ‘taters.

Next, lightly spray a baking pan with olive oil or some other type of non-stick spray.  Then, cover the bottom with a single layer of potato slices.

To complete the first layer, sprinkle finely chopped onion (about 1 tbsp), flour (about 1 tbsp), shredded cheddar cheese (to your liking), cubed ham (to your liking), then lightly sprinkle salt and pepper, and dot with butter/margarine.  Repeat this layer about 3 times, depending on the size of your casserole dish and how many potatoes you sliced.

Hi mom! 😀

When you finish the last layer of potatoes, go ahead and put all the layer ingredients on the potatoes, except for the ham.  And maybe add a bit of extra cheese.  Just for good measure.

Now, this is the only slightly tricky part.  The cook book says to heat milk, almost to scalding, to pour over the layered potatoes.  How on earth do you heat something almost to scalding?  So we just stick to our true form of improvisation!  For the two pans of potatoes, mom heated about 4 cups of milk in the microwave, until it just started to bubble a bit.  Then simply pour it over the potatoes!

Now, cover the pan(s) with foil, and place in a 350* oven for 30 minutes.  Then, take the foil off and continue cooking for about 1 more hour, or until the potatoes are soft and smooth and delicious and you can’t wait any longer because the DELICIOUS smell is driving you crazy.

I like these a lot.

Now, ours had extra oven time because we started them early.  So when the hour-and-a-half cook time was through, my dear dad saved dinner (mom and I had to run and errand) and turned the oven off  letting the pans just sit there until dinner time.  Perfection.  Or as close to it as possible 🙂

In the last bit of cook time, add more cheese to the top.  You taste it more on top than in the layers anyways!  And please, PLEASE put cheese on the table so we can add more to our own plates!

This meal is particularly special because we only have it when there’s leftover ham.  We’re a family who’s firm in our traditions, so there’s only leftover ham after Christmas and Easter.  Two times a year, people!  This is a big deal…

…Austin sure thinks so!

 

Now on to the resolutions!

Dana at My Little Celebration posted her resolutions for 2012, and I felt inspired to think of a few of my own.

First, I think I’ll adopt Dana’s “Body Resolutions”:

I want to embrace what I was given.
I want to stretch more.
I want to dress to accentuate my best features.
I want to stay healthy.
I want to relax more often.

And for a few of my own:

I want to focus on the nutritional benefits of the food I eat, rather than worrying about how many calories it might have.

I want to improve my health (weight, etc) in order to better serve – my roommates, friends, loved ones, family.

I want to wear less make-up without worry.

I want to improve my health so I can go to Africa and serve for a few weeks.

 

How about you?  Do you have any resolutions?  Do share.  And go make some potatoes!

Blessings,

Beth

 

 

Comfort Food Heaven

BRRRRRR!!!!  It’s getting quite…er…chilly, as of late.  I know, I know, nothing compared to what it will be like in Montana during Christmas break, but still.  I’m cold!  And it’s just this type of cold weather that sends even the most burly and tough looking man looking for a soft, warm, comforting meal.  Not that I fit that description…but still, this cold weather definitely makes any food below 160* seem fairly unappealing.  So with inspiration from a can of pumpkin in my cupboard, I got to work lookin’ for a recipe.

And here is what I found: Pumpkin Shepherd’s Pie.  Pumpkin infused potatoes rest over a savory pumpkin-chicken-veggie filling to create…comfort food heaven on a plate.  Warm, dense, not to heavy.  Delicious!

Here’s our team!  Ground chicken, S&P, chicken broth, cornstarch, pumpkin, ketchup, onion, potato and carrot (rosemary missed the picture).  Pretty simple, and a lot of these ingredients are probably in your pantry!

The recipe is as simple as the ingredients:

First, peel and chop a potato, then let it boil while you make the filling.

Sauteé carrots and onions in some cooking spray.

Add the ground chicken (or whatever ground meat you prefer), cornstarch, rosemary and S&P, and let it cook for awhile.

Then, toss in some broth, pumpkin, and ketchup and cook a little longer.

Drain the potato, then add pumpkin, cheese and S&P (and a splash of chicken broth if you should desire).  Bust out your trusty hand mixer and…..

…PULVERIZE!!!!!  Ahem.

Now,carefully pour the hot filling into a pan (I used a loaf pan).

Evenly spread the potatoes on top.

Now at this point, I let the shepherd’s pie sit out for a bit, then put it in the fridge to finish later.  So it works great to do that, or you can continue right along with the process.  If you do finish  the cooking later, place it in a 350* oven for 20 minutes before continuing with the next steps.

After assembling the pie, sprinkle with cheese and place under the broiler until the cheese is melty and perfect.

Look at that cheesy crust!

Don’t be bashful about adding more cheese on top… 😉

Chicken and Pumpkin Shepherd’s Pie

Adapted from Very Best Baking / Libby’s

The Goods

1 medium russet potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

1 cup canned pumpkin (not pie filling)

1/4 cup (+/-) shredded cheese

Salt and Pepper, to taste

Cooking spray

1 small onion, chopped

1 large carrot, peeled and chopped

1/2 lb ground chicken (or whatever ground meat you prefer)

1/2 tbsp cornstarch

1/2 tsp rosemary, crushed

1/2 cup + splash reduced-sodium fat-free chicken broth

1/2 tsp ketchup, optional

The Plan

1. Place potato chunks in a medium sauce pan and fill with water until potatoes are covered; bring to a boil.  Cook over med-high heat for about 10 minutes, or until tender; drain.  Return potatoes to saucepan and add 1/2 cup pumpkin, a pinch of cheese, S&P to taste, and a splash of chicken broth.  Beat with a hand mixer until smooth.  Cover.

2. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet, coated in cooking spray, over med-high heat.  Add onion and carrot, cooking and stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until carrot begins to soften.  Add beef, cornstarch, rosemary and some more S&P.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes or until meat is cooked.  Stir in broth, 1/2 cup pumpkin, and ketchup (if using).  Bring to a boil, cooking for 2-3 minutes (stirring occasionally), until mixture has thickened slightly.

3. Preheat the broiler or let cool, and refrigerate**

4. Carefully spoon filling into an ungreased, broiler safe, deep pan (loaf pan, pie pan, etc).  Evenly spoon potato mixture over the filling, then sprinkle with cheese.

5. Broil for 5 minutes, or until cheese is slightly browned.

**If placing in the refrigerator: before broiling, bake in a 350* for 20 minutes, or until hot.

Definitely one of the best dinners I’ve made recently.  And it reheats well to boot!

Well folks, the semester is winding down.  Two projects and two finals, and I’m outta here!  There’s undoubtedly an underlying sense of stress, though, and this is when I fight those nasty eating disorder voices the most.  I keep reminding myself that I won’t be able to finish strong if I’m not fueling my body well.  From a mental/emotional perspective, this isn’t always easy to do.  But  Psalm 139:4 came up in my devotional this morning, and I think it’s a perfectly timed reminder:

I praise you because I’m fearfully and wonderfully made;

Your works are wonderful,

I know that full well.

Blessings, friends!

Beth

 

One Legit Quesadilla

Who likes simple yet tasty eats?  (I do!)  And who views it as a bonus if these simple and tasty eats are inexpensive? (Ooooh pick me!)  If you answered yes to either of these questions, then this post is for you! 🙂  If you remember, I have criteria for recipes (being a poor college kid and all).  Also, I’m a fan of simple comfort food.  One evening, in search of a dinner that would meet these high demands, I felt stuck.  I had tortillas, cheese, and chicken…the makings of a perfect quesadilla.  Except, I didn’t have any salsa.  Neither did the roomies And I didn’t want to go to the store.  So a hemmed and hawed, opened and closed the fridge and freezer too many times…and then it hit me.  I remembered reading a post on one of my favorite blogs, Iowa Girl Eats about BBQ chicken quesadillas, with caramelized onions.  But alas, I didn’t have onions either.  But I did have corn.  Hmm.  Corn, chicken and BBQ sauce filling, sprinkled with cheese, encased in a tortilla.  It might just work!

And work, it certainly did!  The cheese melts and mixes with the BBQ sauce, which lightly coats the sweet, crisp corn, and the chicken just practically melts in with the rest of the filling.  Oooooh, and don’t forget that crispy-on-the-edges but soft-in-the-middle tortilla!  SO TASTY!

And so easy!  Just cook up some chicken (frozen chicken tenders work great for a single serving), shred it, then mix it in with defrosted corn and BBQ sauce.  Here is my sauce of choice (I’ll just pretend it doesn’t have high fructose corn syrup…..).  Any sauce will do!

After mixing the filling, simply place a tortilla in a preheated pan (a little non stick spray might not hurt).  Layer cheese, filling, then more cheese, and fold this doomed deliciousness in half.  Let it cook for a few minutes, then carefully flip it over.  Give it a few minutes, and then dig in!!

Oh, by the way,  I like to keep the burner on low to prevent the tortilla from browning too much.  This can make cooking seem to take AGES, though, so I pop a lid on it for a bit.  Gotta have melty cheese, yo! 🙂

I like to round out this meal with a small salad and a few chips.  Sour cream and more BBQ are great for dipping!

Give it a try – it’s super simple, and CRAZY tasty!  Let me know what ya think!

Enjoy the weekend, folks.

Blessings,

Beth

Obsessed?

Apparently, I like soup.  A lot.  But really, what’s a gal supposed to do in November when she needs a simple, tasty, and cheap meal?  Make soup. 🙂

Oh, and before I get started…you might notice that I’ve slightly changed the picture format, and now you can actually SEE the photos!  It certainly helps to actually read all of my photo posting options…    However, this might expose the sub-par quality of my aging camera.  (Hint-hint, mom and dad!)  Tee hee 🙂  Anyways…..

I made soup!  I used this recipe from recipe.com, which had been featured in the December issue of Better Homes and Gardens.  Now, the beauty of a recipe  like this is that you can make it as-is and be completely satisfied.  Or, you can ramp it up a bit…embellish and augment, substitute or remove.  The choice is yours.  But can you guess which I chose?

The photo in BHG didn’t quite look like this…and I do mean ingredients, not just photo quality 😉

So I started with this little gathering of ingredients:

We have (from left to right) shredded cheese, S&P, margarine, rosemary, broccoli, onion, 1 russet potato and 1 sweet potato (which I traded for a yam before it was all said and done), light sour cream and bacon bits (BACON!).

Here is my lovely yam:

I started by chopping the onion and sauteeing it in the margarine, salt and pepper for a bit.

I hate chopping onions.  Like a lot.  If you don’t believe me, click here.  Not that I’m bitter about that or anything.

Moving on!

After the onions are translucent, add chopped potatoes, water and rosemary.  Let that cook for awhile, until the potatoes are soft.

While the potatoes are cooking,  Chop up the broccoli.  I chopped some of it really small, and left some of it in bigger pieces.  Your choice 🙂

 

After the potatoes are soft, find a way to mash them up a bit…I used a hand mixer.

Now, add some more water, and the broccoli, then bring it back to a simmer.  Oh, and don’t forget the bacon!!!!!

After it simmers for a bit longer, add a dollop of sour cream.  Add more S&P if you’d like…I went lighter on the S and heavier on the P.

Now, dish up and enjoy this multi-potato creation! 🙂

Rosemary Potato Soup

Adapted from Recipe.com

The Goods

1 tbsp butter

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

salt and pepper, to taste

1 large russet potato (or equivalent), peeled and cut in 2-inch chunks

1 medium yam, peeled and cut in 2-inch chunks

4 cups water

1 tsp. dried rosemary, crushed

~1/4 cup bacon bits (or more or less)

small head of broccoli (1-2 cups, depending on preference)

dollop of sour cream, plus more for serving

shredded cheddar cheese for topping

The Plan

1. In a large sauce pan or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the onions, salt and pepper.  Cook until translucent (not brown), stirring occasionally.  Add potatoes and 2 cups of water and the rosemary.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat; simmer, covered, for 20 minutes or until potatoes are soft.  Remove from heat.

2. Mash potatoes (use potato masher, hand mixer, or food processor).  Return to the pot and add remaining 2 cups of water plus bacon bits and broccoli.  Return to boiling, the reduce heat, simmering for 10 minutes uncovered, or until thickened and desired consistency.  Stir often to prevent sticking.

3. Remove from heat and stir in sour cream.  Serve with additional sour cream and shredded cheese, if desired.  Makes about 4 meal servings…ish 🙂

Tada!  It’s quite good served up with some salad and toast…and the obligatory homey magazine 🙂

I’m really enjoying the leftovers of this soup.  It’s hearty, yet not too hearty, and the bacon flavor improves the longer it stays in the fridge.  You can replace some of the water with chicken broth, or use different veggies or potato combos.  The options are endless!  If you try a variation, would you let me know how you change it up?  Thank you!!

Blessings to you this Thanksgiving!  I don’t want to be all cheesy and tell you to go write a list of the things you’re thankful for, but do give it a little thought – ’tis the purpose of the holiday after all.

Have a lovely day!

Beth