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Monday, April 30, 2012

Chicken Noodle, Cream of Chicken and Chicken Chili...3 soups...1 chicken!

This just might be my favorite blog yet!  I love to multi task, but I have found lately with our crazy schedules it helps to multi cook, too.  I started making 2 soups a few months ago, today I decided to try 3 and it worked brilliantly.  Now I shouldn't have to cook all week!  Here is what I did: 

 Begin by baking a whole chicken during breakfast.  (I baked mine for 2 hours on 350 degrees) 
Remove from oven and set out to cool. 

After I placed the chicken in the oven I set the vegetable steamer to steam my rice, it takes 50 minutes for 2 cups.  You can prepare your rice however you usually do it.

I enlisted a teenager to cut up my veggies and we organized them with their soup ingredients.

We sauteed the first two soups veggies side by side and added the rest of the ingredients as we cooked them, focusing on one soup then the other step by step.

I poured all of the Chicken Chili's ingredients into a large storage bowl with lid and placed it into the fridge.  This one will be ready to go when we are ready for a new soup option.  All I will have to do is dump it into a pot and cook for 1 hour.

1 cup sliced/chopped onion
1 cup of sliced/chopped carrot
1/4 baked chicken (mostly white meat due to the higher fat content of this soup)
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
3 TBSP butter
2 TBSP flour
2 cups whole milk
2 cups steamed rice

Saute onions, carrots and chicken in a little olive oil for about 5 minutes.  Add broth and water and bring to a boil.  In a separate small pan melt butter.  Add flour and stir for 3 minutes.  Slowly add milk and stir until thickened.  Add slowly to soup pot and simmer for 5 minutes.  Add rice and simmer additional 5 minutes.  Turn off heat and allow to thicken as it cools slightly.  It is ready to enjoy!


1/2 baked chicken- shredded
1 cup onion chopped
1 cup carrot chopped
1 cup celery chopped
6 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
1 bag noodles

Saute the veggies and chicken in a little oil and garlic salt.  Add broth and water, bring to a boil.  Continue to cook for 30 minutes.  I add the noodles right into the pot and cook an additional 15 minutes.  Turn off heat and serve!


1/4 baked chicken
1 cup chopped green pepper
1 cup chopped onion
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can fire roasted tomatoes
1 can mild chili beans
1 can black beans
1 can corn

I put all the ingredients into a storage container.  When we are ready for this soup in a few days I will pour into a pot and cook for 1 hour.  Remove from heat and enjoy!!!

So, there it is, 3 soups from one chicken.  Everyone's taste buds have been appeased and now I shouldn't have to cook dinner all week!

Chocolate covered Cherry Banana Bread (Dairy free)

Who doesn't love banana nut bread?  How about chocolate?  I added my favorite two foods together one day and now I wonder what took me so long to figure this out!!!  I just use my Grandma Seyer's recipe for banana bread, left out the nuts, added dried cherries and 2 Tbsp. of Cocoa and poof....chocolate covered cherry banana bread is the BOMB!  (This is what I like to make now when taking a meal to someone instead of brownies, because it is so much healthier.)


1 stick of softened butter
 (or 1/2 cup shortening for dairy free version)
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
4-5 ripe bananas
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 TBSP cocoa powder
handful of cherries, cranberries, or nuts (optional)

Mix butter (or shortening) and sugar until fluffy.  Add bananas one at a time, mixing well after each.  Add eggs  and vanilla, blend.  Combine the dry ingredients into a bowl, slowly add them to the banana batter.  Fold in your berries or nuts.  Spoon into 2 greased loaf pans and bake at a 375 degree oven for 45 minutes.  (Prepare honey butter while you wait.)
 Remove from oven to cool.  Cut and enjoy!

*HONEY BUTTER, I usually serve this with honey butter when I want to really WOW my guests.  Just soften some butter and mix in honey in a small dish.  Put back into fridge to firm up.  It tastes so good on banana bread, muffins, and cornbread :)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Breakfast Burritos: HOT Breakfast is back for less than $.20 per meal!

Being a mom and wife with seven children people ask me often, "How can you afford to feed them all?"  Have you ever heard time is money?  Never is that statement more true than in the kitchen.  If you want to instantly save money on your grocery bill.....start cooking from scratch.  Not only is it healthier for your family to eliminate processed foods from your pantry, it is also kinder to your wallet.

I can't live in the kitchen so I have found that if I cook in bulk and freeze or refrigerate leftovers I don't have to cook as often.  Everyone in our family loves these burritos, I customize them in three different types and even set aside some to go in my husband's lunchbox for a warm breakfast as he sits at his desk after a morning commute.  I only have to prepare them once every week to week and a half, so guess what?  On those other 6 days I don't have to make breakfast.....ahhhhhhh, sit back and enjoy your coffee!
1 lb. breakfast sausage
1 dozen eggs
1 package med. size tortillas (24 ct.)
sliced sweet peppers, grated cheese, ect.

(This makes 24 servings and costs approximately $4.25 for the ingredients = $.17 per burrito)
Which coincidentally is 24 burritos for the price of ONE run through for breakfast at McDonalds! 

STEP #1:  Brown your sausage (or bacon or skip this if you don't eat meat :)

STEP #2: Crack your eggs into a large bowl.  Scramble them in a frying pan.

STEP #3:  slice your veggies and get out your cheese or other garnishes you prefer creating an assembly line of ingredients.

STEP #4:  Microwave 2-3 tortillas at a time for 30 sec. to making them softer and more elastic for rolling without cracking or breaking.

STEP #5:  scoop a spoonful of meat, then eggs into the center of your tortilla, garnish, then roll them. 

STEP #6:  I place 2 per ziplock bag for my husband's breakfast/lunchbox.  For the kids I use one gallon size ziplock bag for storage in the fridge. 

STEP #7:  repeat the process until you run out of ingredients.  Store burritos in the fridge or freezer. 

STEP #8: Just microwave for 30 sec. to reheat when ever you need a quick hot meal.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Homemade Italian beef (Chicago Style :)

I was brought a meal one time by a local friend of mine after a medical thing I was recovering from, and it was good old Chicago Style Italian Beef.  It was glorious and I thought only moms with a dozen kids living on a farm in the NWburbs could possibly know the secrets of making it.  I thought it must have been so second nature to her that she had enough for her brood and mine as well, being the supermom she is.  Well, over the past 3 years we have ordered our free range cow from our darling local cowman and I too have mastered the art of Chicago Style Italian beef.  Come to find out it isn't a secret after all, just smart and easy cooking by those who care to try it.  I will save you the trouble of figuring it out and share the recipe in the spirit of true Southern hospitality (since I am not originally from here, hehe :)........Here it is:

INGREDIENTS for Italian Beef:
(psssssst...just so you know, I always make 2 because I want leftovers)
1 Beef pot roast
 (Arm roast, round roast, bottom roast, etc.  I choose by size not name, it is the one that is round or triangular, not flat and uniform in size like a chuck roast.  Chuck roast are too fatty.)
6-cups of Beef broth
Garlic Salt & Onion Powder to season roast
1 Tbsp. Minced garlic

INGREDIENTS for Garnish:
1 sliced onion
2 sliced carrots
2 sliced jalapenos
1 sliced green pepper
1 tsp. minced garlic
(all sauteed in olive oil for 7 minutes)

How to prepare the roast:
Season your roast with onion powder and garlic salt.  Pour beef broth into roasting pan.  Add roast and cook covered at 400 degrees for 1.5 - 2 hours.  Remove pan from oven and let cool.  When cool enough for the fridge, put in the fridge to rest for 2 or more hours.  At dinner time, I place the roast to a carving board.  Pour your juices into a saucepan straining out the fat (there shouldn't be much :)  Slice the meat as thin as you possibly can.  I use an electric knife.  Put aside in a bowl.  After you have brought your beef juices to a boil add your beef slices to warm them.  Scoop them out onto a bun (recipe follows) drizzle the Au jus onto your bread and top with garnish as desired.  Wondering what to serve with about another sandwich???  Just kidding, sort of, we serve raw veggies and home fries.

How to make the rolls?  Well you could go to your local grocery store, but why stop wow-ing your dinner guests, I say!  Here is my recipe for the rolls:

1-1/4 cups warm water
1 cup warm milk
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. yeast
2 tsp. salt
6 cups flour

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water, milk, butter and sugar in a large bowl.  (I use my Kitchen Aide.)
Mix in the salt and slowly add the flour 2 cups at a time, being careful not to over mix the dough.
Sprinkle flour on top of your ball of dough to help you divide it into 12 equal pieces. 
Using floured hands pull of the pieces and roll into your hands into a hot dog bun sized piece. 
Once you have shaped your dough on your greased cookie sheet or seasoned baking stone, cover with a clean and damp dish towel for 25 minutes to rise.  Then, bake at an 375 degree oven for 15-20, or until your rolls are golden brown.  Remove them from the oven, let cool and cut down the middle.  Now you are are ready to make a totally homemade Italian Beef Sang'wich that any Chicagoan could be proud of!

Homemade Focaccia Bread

If you like Italian food you will love this recipe for Focaccia Bread to accompany it.  I start the bread while I am simmering sauce and by the time dinner is ready so is the bread.  I have been making it for about 2 years now and have always had it come out great.    I use my Kitchen Aide to do the mixing and I knead the dough right into the bowl saving me a big clean up later.  I always make 2 loaves at a time because it is such a hit.  My family gets very excited when they see me pull out the olive oil!

1 Envelope Yeast
1 cup warm water
1 tsp sugar
3 cups flour
2 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. Olive oil

STEP #1 : Dissolve yeast in warm water and sugar, about 5 minutes.

STEP #2: mix in salt and slowly add flour, then oil.

Step #3: Knead dough for 5-8 minutes, folding in halves.  If you are careful not to 'break' the dough, but fold it over and over it will rise higher and lighter. 

STEP #4: Let dough rest for about 20 minutes.

STEP #5: remove the ball of dough and press into a rectangle on a cookie sheet or baking stone.  Let rise for 20 more minutes.

STEP #6: Press your finger to indent the dough in rows up and down the loaf.  Drizzle olive oil, garlic, onion salt, etc.  across the bread.

STEP #7: Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from oven and let cool.  Slice the loaf in half down the middle and then into 1-2 inch wide sticks. 

* They are great dipped in olive oil and Balsamic Vinegar~!

Homemade Hamburger Buns

Well, I did it! I finally found a recipe for homemade hamburger/hot dog buns that are easy, cheap and we LOVE!!!!  It is pretty much no fail, takes less than an hour from start to finish and takes the fear out of bread baking after your first try!  I won't say I will NEVER buy buns again, but I will say that I will NEVER hesitate to serve these at our dinner table.  ENJOY!!!

Ingredients for buns:
2 cups warmed milk
1 Tbsp Yeast
1/4 cup butter or shortening
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
2 tsp. salt
6 cups flour

STEP #1:  Mix yeast in warm milk, melted butter, warm water and sugar in large bowl. 
(I just use my Kitchen Aide)

STEP #2: Let sit for 5 minutes.  It should start to look foamy.

STEP #3: Mix in salt and flour one cup at a time until well blended.  Be careful not to over mix the batter.  It should be slightly sticky.  I scrape off the mixer beater and sprinkle flour over the top of the batter to make it easier to pull off pieces.

STEP #4: Divide into half, then start pulling off pieces and rolling into balls. 
This batter will make 22-24 buns. 

STEP #5: Place each ball onto a greased cookie sheet or seasoned baking stone.  
You might want to press them down gently to get a hamburger bun shape. 
Let rise in a warm place in your kitchen for 25 minutes.

STEP #6:  Bake at a 375 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.  Remove from oven.  Let cool, then slice them down the middle.  That is it!

***This is such a simple and wonderful roll recipe.  My kids kept eating the leftovers as turkey sandwiches.  My oldest son keeps asking me to make sausage gravy for him to pour over the top.  I have made them bigger and longer for Italian Beef Rolls.....mmmmmmm!!!!  The possibilities are endless~!