Baked Sloppy Joes

Mmmmm. This was yummy. We love sloppy joes which pretty much is just another nod to my midwest upbringing. Ground beef was waaay on sale and I decided to try something a little different and it turned out well. All four of us liked this and I served it with peas on the side.

Baked Sloppy Joes

2 lbs ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
lots of pepper
salt to taste
15 0z can tomato sauce
2 Tb ketchup
2 Tb brown sugar
1 1/2 Tb worcestershire sauce
1 tsp mustard
tabasco to taste
1-2 c. cheddar cheese, shredded
1 can Grands! biscuits (I used the reduced-fat biscuits and no one noticed.)

Brown the ground beef in a large skillet with the onions and green pepper. Drain well. Toss in the garlic and cook a minute longer. Add in the salt, pepper, tomato sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, worcestershire, mustard and tobasco. Stir to combine and cook the sauce a few minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. Pour the beef mixture in a 9x13 pan, sprinkle on the cheese, and top with the biscuits. Bake at 375 20-25 minutes.

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Ham Rolls

I recently had a little birthday party for my son. It really was little, which I didn't think I was capable of but I had three friends and their little boys over for lunch on his actual birthday. I was looking around for recipes and this one looked good so I went for it. These little sammies are so yummy and SUPER easy too. I threw them together in just a couple minutes.

This would be a great recipe to try for Super Bowl. Or for a poker party. Or...obviously a birthday party. Or even a good recipe for dinner. As an appetizer, main course--Whatever.

Ham Rolls
1 package Hawaiian rolls
3/4 lb thinly sliced deli ham
8 slices swiss cheese
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 tsp dried mustard
1 tsp dried onion flakes
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. poppy seeds

Preheat the oven to 350. Melt the butter in the microwave and add to it the dried mustard, onion, worcestershire and poppy seeds, set aside. Slice the hawaiian rolls across the middle keeping it all one piece. Layer the ham and swiss cheese on the bottom half of the rolls and top with the top half. Pour the butter mixture over the top of the sandwiches and let sit at least one hour. Bake for 15 minutes. Enjoy!

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Game Day Queso & a Velveeta Cheese Tribute

Sooo...have I ever mentioned I'm from the midwest? Yah, I am from the midwest. I grew up on my mom's homemade food with ingredients picked from her garden (truly) and velveeta cheese. Yep. I love Velveeta cheese. Now, if you're following this blog because you want a culinary genious who is using expensive gourmet ingredients...keep looking. That is not what this blog is or what this blog is for. I just make food that taste good and may or may not have quality ingredients...but usually never expensive ingredients because if I break my budget my husband may ground me and take my van keys away. (YES that's right I eat Velveeta cheese AND drive a van...yikes. What have I come to?)

SO today as I was running down the aisles of Super WalMart to try to get just what I needed to make lasagna for tomorrow night, a sign caught my eye. This sign would change my mood. A sign that changed my day. It was a little white rollback sign....on the Velveeta Cheese. Rolledback to....$1.50 per 2 lb block!! Seriously I looked twice, rubbed my eyes and read it again and quickly grabbed two blocks of 2% milk Velveeta and ran off before someone tried to fight me for it. As I was dashing off I heard a woman say, "Whoah! Velveeta is only $1.50!" That's right lady, and don't even try to touch mine!!

All that to explain...yes, here's another queso recipe. But, why is that bad? I had some leftover chili just on the verge of seeing the inside of the garbage disposal. It turned out great. This entire crockpot full of queso cost $2.50 or less. So add this recipe to your "Leftover List" and make it for the next football/baseball/basketball game. Or really any weekend that you think your jeans are just fitting too well.

I don't have a photo up yet, but use your imagination. Or look here. It looks like that. Only different.

Game Day Queso AKA Chili Cheese Dip
3 cups leftover chili (any chili will do)

1 4 oz can chopped jalapenos, drained well

1 14.5 oz can pintos, drained well

1 32 oz block velveeta, diced

Put the first three ingredients into the crockpot on high until hot. Toss in the velveeta, give it a stir and wait for the melting to begin. Keep on warm up to 3 hours for a party.

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Oven Fried Chicken Fingers

On my four-year olds birthday I asked him what he wanted for dinner. Then I made a couple suggestions: pizza, McDonalds...the easy kid stuff. He wanted chicken nuggets and fries at home. Well, I asked. Now I needed to deliver. I could've just bought a bag of frozen mechanically separated chicken nuggets...but of course I needed to be a culinary genious while my husband was out of town and I was alone with two whiny hungry kids. But, in the end it was worth it because these chicken fingers turned out really yummy and low fat with actual protein and nutritional value. I'll make these again for sure. My sister came over for dinner and she loved them too.

Oven Fried Chicken Strips

1 1/2 lbs chicken breast
3 eggs, beaten
1 c. plain breadcrumbs
2 T. grated parmesan cheese
salt, pepper to taste
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp granulated garlic
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Rinse and cut the chicken into thin strips. Beat the eggs in a shallow bowl and set aside. In a separate shallow bowl or dish combine breadcrumbs, cheee, salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic. Dip the chicken strips in the egg and then coat well in the bread crumb mixture. Put a wire rack on a baking sheet and arrange the breaded chicken on the sheet. Bake at 400 12-15 minutes, turning carefully once. Yumm.

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Cheddar Corn Muffins

Mmm I love these corn muffins. Kind of remind me of the corn casserole I posted around Thanksgiving...which is a serious crowd pleaser. These muffins are yummmy and pretty basic. In fact so basic that once again, this is a somewhat embarrassing recipe to post because it is a no--brainer and kind of not even a "recipe". I made these to go with the Black Eyed Pea Soup but it would be a great mix with any soup or even a crockpot of pintos.

Cheddar Corn Muffins
1 box Jiffy corn muffin mix
1 egg, beaten
1 15 oz can creamed corn
cooking spray
1 c. cheddar cheese, divided
Preheat the oven to 425. Mix together the muffin mix, corn, and egg and 1/4 cup shredded cheddar. Fill a muffin tin or mini muffin tin 2/3 full with mix. Bake for 9-11 minutes. Sprinkle with cheddar and bake an additional minute.

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Black Eyed Pea Soup

Did you know you're supposed to eat black eyed peas on New Year's Day for good luck? Well I don't really believe in luck but I thought it would be fun to come up with a New Year's tradition (that I ended up cooking/eating January 11th so hopefully that's good luck too!) Anyway, this soup was sooo good. Everyone ate it which is a great record for soup with toddlers. I used the crockpot but I'm sure you could make it on the stovetop too.

I got some of these chorizo sausage links on a special event day at Costco so I used that, but I'm sure that spicy italian sausage links or some fully-cooked spicy chicken sausages would work too. BUT I will say that those stinkin chorizo links were deeee-lish so try to find some!

Black Eyed Pea Soup
1 lb dried black eyed peas
1 lb spicy sausages
1 medium onion, chopped
1 c chopped carrot
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 bunch greens, collared or mustard, rough chopped
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups water & 6 tsp chicken base (or just use chicken broth if you're not cheap)
1 tsp salt-based cajun seasoning (I use Tony Chachere's Original Creole Seasoning, it's the best)
2 bay leaves
lots of pepper

The night before: cook your sausages and slice. Soak the black eyed peas. The next morning: rinse the peas and toss them in the crockpot with everything else. Cook on high 6 hours, or low all day. (Note: if you can't find collared or mustard greens (P.S. I prefer mustard) you can buy a can of greens, drain them well and stir them in at the last minute) Serve with some good ole southern corn bread.

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Money Saving Monday--Make your own Birthday Cake

One way to save loads of cash is to make your own birthday cakes. Now, as previously stated (numerous times) I don't bake. But--guess what? It turns out toddlers don't care if you bake cake from scratch of use a box! So what I have done the last few years for my son's birthday isfind the cake that he wants on the internet and follow someone else's guidelines. It works. Really. I dare you--google any cake you can think (dragon cake is definitely a strange one) you'll find something.

At 2 he was obsessed (truly obsessed) with the movie Cars, so I found a racetrack cake. At 3 he insisted on a Spiderman cake. This year my son has been asking for a dragon cake for months. I do not know where he got that idea...but he did so what do you do? I went here and found amazing instructions and my dragon cake actually turned out cute. I think I spent $5-$7 total on the cake...which is much less than ordering a cake from a store. So happy baking! Try it out!

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Oven Fries

So, this is kind of another embarrassing recipe, because it is so simple it isn't even really a recipe...but it's so simple i wanted to tell you just in case you didn't know how to make these. Every once in a while you can find a 5-10 lb bag of potatoes for LESS THAN A DOLLAR!! That is super cheap. So make up some baked potato soup or some hashbrowns, or baked potato scramble and then make a batch of oven fries as a side for your rueben sandwiches, sloppy joes, or burgers. You can use any seasoning to go along with what you're having. If you're making a meatball sub or sausage and pepper wrap--use some parmesan cheese and italian seasoning on your fries to go along. For a bbq chicken sandwich sprinkle on some paprika. This recipe is just a basis for endless possibilities. (It also works with sweet potatoes!) If you're feeling naughty sprinkle on some freshly shredded cheddar cheese, crumbled bacon and green onions at the end.

You can absolutely use olive oil for drizzling but I use cooking spray because that way the oven fries are very lean and low-cal. ALSO-- a drizzle of truffle oil on these babies is delish!
Oven Fries

2 lbs baking potatoes, scrubbed
cooking spray
seasoned salt
granulated garlic
pepper to taste
After scrubbing your potatoes pierce them with a fork and stick them in the microwave for 3-5 minutes...just to get them started. Slice the potatoes in half lengthwise and cut into thin wedges. Spray a sheet pan with cooking spray then arrange the wedges on the pan and spray them with cooking spray. Sprinkle liberally with seasoned salt, garlic, and pepper. Bake at 400 for 7-10 minutes, turn the fries and cook another 7-10 minutes.

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Greek Pasta Salad

We had a big meeting at church last week and my husbandd asked if I could make dinner for it. Of course I don't mind because I love to cook, but he gave me a veeeery rough estimate of people, "35-50". Being that budgets are tight I was trying to come up with an inexpensive, but good meal that feeds a lot of people and doesn't require hours and hours of time to assemble. So, I decided to make Meatball Subs, Pasta Salad, and Dessert. Every cost added(including water & ice, plates & napkins, and food) was less than $120 which is great that many people.
I just threw ingredients together to make this pasta salad but people thought it was amazing so I'm posting the recipe. (It really did turn out well).

Greek Pasta Salad

1 lb short cut pasta (bowties, penne...)
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 small can black olives, halved
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
1 small bunch broccoli, but in small spears
1/2 cucumber, peeled & thinly sliced
1 small bunch basil thinly sliced or torn
6-8 oz crumbled feta cheese
10 oz bottled italian dressing
3-5 oz bottled red pepper vinaigrette (any brand)
Cook pasta al dente, drain rinse and cool. Toss in all veggies and toss with dressing. Chill several hours or overnight.

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Reuben Sandwich

I love sandwiches with all sorts of fun toppings. When I was a kid my mom would grill up Reuben's for dinner on occasion and I always loved it! I'm not a huge fan of the typical corned beef so I make them with ham. At Christmas time I needed a pound of ham for a soup and I decided to buy the whole spiral sliced ham because it was only $1.17/lb and I figured I could get creative with the leftovers...and I made Reuben's the other night for a super cheap, but yummy dinner.

The recipe I'm giving is just for an individual sandwich, and I'm kind of embarrassed to call it a recipe...because it's so simple but here's just a clever idea of what to do with that leftover frozen Christmas ham.

Ham Reuben Sandwich
Thinly sliced ham
Rye Bread, 2 slices per sandwich
Softened butter
Sour Kraut (drained well--as much as you like)
Swiss Cheese, 2 thin slices per sandwich
1 T Thousand Island dressing per sandwich
Heat a skillet over medium heat. Butter one side of each piece of bread. Assemble the sandwich: one slice of cheese, ham, sour kraut, thousand island dressing, one slice of cheese and top it off with the other piece of buttered bread. Cook on each side 3-4 minutes, until golden brown and the cheese is melted. (Flip carefully!)

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White Chicken Chili

I saw this recipe on a Rachael Ray episode several months ago and I tried it the other day....mmmmm good. I waited too long to even try it, it's so good. Rob isn't a big fan of having soup for dinner but he said I could make this once a week so that's really saying something. I threw all the ingredients in the crockpot within 5 minutes and everything cooked and was ready within 2 hours.

White Chicken Chili

4-5 cups diced cooked chicken
12-16 ounces salsa
4 cups water plus 4 tsp chicken base (or 4 c. chicken stock)
3 cans white beans (not-drained)
4 garlic cloves
1 Tb cumin
pepper to taste
8 oz block pepper jack cheese, shredded or cubed

Put all ingredients in a crockpot. Cook on high until the cheese is melted. (2 hours is plenty) I topped it with crushed tortilla chips.  OR you can put eveything except the cheese in a stock pot and simmer 20 minutes adding the cheese at the end and stirring until melted.

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Chorizo Queso Dip

Sorry for the delay in recipe posts this week. I caught this cruddy cold/flu that was miserable and I didn't get dressed or leave the house several days this week. I'm feeling better now so I'm posting my favorite recipe so far in 2010...it's so good. Great for a party, Super Bowl, or just to stuff your face with on a Saturday. The dip isn't very good for the typical New Year's weight loss Resolution, but I DID use 2% milk Velveeta and it turned out just as good, with half the fat! I've always been a big queso dip fan, but when my friend Amber made hers with chorizo...it was love. She used half chorizo, half ground beef so of course I had to take it to the next level and this is what I came up with...the whole neighborhood loved it at our bonfire last week!

Chorizo Queso Dip

1 lb fresh pork chorizo (don't buy the stuff in the tube...too greasy)
2 cans pinto beans, drained (or use your own frozen pintos)
2 cups salsa
1 4 oz can chopped green chiles
1 4 oz can chopped jalapenos (drained very well)
1 2 lb block Velveeta cheese, cubed

Tortilla chips for dipping

Brown the chorizo and drain well, then drain again on paper towels. Layer all the ingredients in a medium-large crockpot and cook on high for 35 min-hour stirring occasionally until the cheese is all melted. Turn the heat down to "warm" to keep hot and gooey for as long as you need. Serve with chips and a dollop of sour cream if you like.
PS I'm uploading the pic of caramel rolls now so check it out if you're wondering. (It's the pre-baked picture only so I guess I'll just have to make them again.)

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Money Saving Monday--Wine Cubes

I found this tip in a magazine recently...I just can't remember where. There was lots of magazine reading over Christmas break. BUT I did remember the tip so that's something, right?

Anyway, here's the tip--If you have an opened bottle of wine that you aren't going to finish within a couple days it will go bad, which is a waste! SO pour the wine into ice cube trays and freeze, then keep them in a ziploc bag in the freezer. Next time a recipe calls for wine defrost a few cubes and you're ready to go! (Note: 2 cubes equals about 1/4 cup)
I'm really excited about this tip because I do not like to waste food (or drinks) and there's many times that I find myself throwing out a half glass of wine that's been sitting in the fridge for a while.
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Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting

I don't bake. At least not from scratch. Usually. For Elise's birthday party I made box cupcakes and homemade frosting so they seemed homemade. I mean, I had to have a dessert that would hold up to the goodness of my pulled pork and homemade barbecue sauce and macaroni and cheese with truffle oil. I think this frosting did the trick. (I also added extra oil to the mix to make the cupcakes extra moist.) So anyway, I digress. The frosting turned out really yummy. Even our picky friends liked it. It does need to be refrigerated so I froze the cupcakes and then put them out into the cupcake stand frozen so they would stay cold.

Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting

1 block cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 c whipping cream
1 c powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

In a small bowl cream the cream cheese with a mixer until...creamy. (Lots of cream going on here) Add in sugar and vanilla and combine. In a small bowl beat the whipping cream on high until peaks form. Gently fold in the whipped cream until incorporated. Keep refrigerated. This frosting is great on chocolate or white cake.

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Taco Soup

I love a hearty soup in the winter. (Those of you in the midwest may be laughing at the term "winter" being used so loosely, but it seems really cold here.) The first time I had taco soup was a few years ago--a photographer that brought lots of business to Rob's photo lab brought in this taco soup one day and it was so good. The other day I made up what I remember of it and it turned out yummy. It is really another version of chili, but whatever. Super easy in the crockpot, but if you use a crockpot you'll need a big one because it makes a lot. I made this recipe and we had it for dinner, I had it for lunch the next day and I brought the rest to a friend who just had a baby and it was plenty. I'm sure it would freeze well for reheating later.

Taco Soup
2 lbs ground beef or turkey
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
2 packets taco seasoning
1 packet ranch dressing mix
2 T chili powder
2 14.5 oz cans tomato sauce
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
2 c. salsa
1 can black beans, drained
1 can kidney beans, drained
2 cans pinto beans, drained
2 cans of corn, NOT drained

In a frying pan or the bottom of a soup pot brown the beef or turkey with the onions. Drain well. Add in the garlic and seasonings/spices. Saute a minute or so. If using a crockpot, dump the beef mixture into the crock and add in all other ingredients and cook on high for 4 hours or low 6 hours. OR If using a soup pot add in all other ingredients and simmer on medium/low for an hour. When you check on your soup, if it seems too thick add in a bit of water. Top with shredded cheese and sour cream and crunched tortilla chips.

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Baked Potato Scramble

We've been gone for a week and came home yesterday. This morning I opened up the fridge to make breakfast and it was pretty much empty. I had a ziploc bag of leftover cooked bacon from Christmas morning, a few eggs and a couple wrinkly potatoes. So I decided to get creative and it turned out really well. This is the cheapest way to use up leftovers for a meal. My family scarfed this down like homeless people and I think it would make a great dinner too. Overall it probably cost less than $2 and most of the ingredients would've gone bad if I hadn't used them this morning. (Forgive the pics, my camera battery is dead so the blackberry had to do.)

Loaded Baked Potato Scramble

6-8 eggs

2 T. sour cream

2 green onions sliced thinly

4 strips bacon crisply cooked & crumbled

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 large baked potato, peeled & cubed

Salt, pepper, garlic powder

Cooking spray

While the potato is baking in the microwave crack the eggs into a bowl, add the sour cream and scramble. Cut the green onions and separate the greens and whites. Peel the potato and dice it. Heat a large frying pan over medium-high and spray generously with cooking spray. Toss in the green onion whites, crumbled bacon and the potato and heat through. Pour in the eggs and season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Cook the eggs, stirring constantly until dry to your liking. Turn off heat, sprinkle on cheese and green onions.

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