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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Hi tech... Maybe not...

It's that time of year.... I'm making my annual foray into my families tradition of making easter bread. I'm not a novice at bread making but during cooler weather it can be a challenge in my house. We keep things on the cooler side which is not conducive to bread dough rising, especially this easter bread which has a relatively low amount of yeast relative to flour. Over the course of this VERY cold winter I have discovered a very hi tech way to help my  dough rise...


Here I have 8 loaves all rising at once :)    Stackable cooling racks are the BEST!


I have my Crockpot on the lowest setting and I moved the racks around every 15 minutes or so. You need to be careful as if it gets too hot your dough can actually cook and that is not the result we are looking for...

I love finding solutions... especially relatively low tech ones.

Here is my girl working hard to help knead the dough...





this is what the loaves look like after rising and being brushed with an egg wash...





I forgot to take a picture of the finished loaves but here is a picture of last years crop... 


I will share the recipe for this bread another day :) 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Meal plan 4/13 - 4/19/2014

    Often when I talk with people about meal planning their first reaction is "oh I could never do that!" Or "What if something comes up?" I say Sure you can and if something comes up roll with it. Last week was a perfect example for me. Sunday I was just plain wiped out so we ordered pizza and another night I had run out of an ingredient I needed so I swapped a recipe from another night. If I remember right I swapped dinner on Tuesday and Thursday. It was an easy fix and no stress. Meal planning does take a bit of forethought but in the end it has reduced my daily stress level. I started by planning out a few weeks at a time and now I try to sit down at least once a week and plan for about 2 weeks out. As we come into warmer weather I try to always have burgers, hot dogs or brats (paired with a nice salad of course) on hand for a quick grill option if we feel like being outside or I just want a quick easy dinner.

Here is my list for this week...
Sunday - Cheesy Potato soup W / ham
Monday - Kielbasa W / onions and bell peppers
Tuesday - Chili W/ Cornbread (Chili is from the Freezer)

Wednesday -  Roasted Chicken (in the Crockpot)
Thursday -  Mexican Chicken Salad Inspired buy this recipe
Friday - Crockpot steak fajitas
Saturday -  Pizza, We will be eating out since we will be at a family outing.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Steel cut oats... AKA my favorite breakfast at the moment :)

If you like oatmeal at all I think you will like steel cut oats. They are really good for you and I like the bit of "chew" in the texture.

Honestly I had not even heard of "steel cut oats"until about a year ago. Luckily they are easy to find in most grocery stores in the same area of the store where you find your regular oatmeal.

There are a few different ways to cook them (none quick) but its worth it since its mostly waiting time no real "work" is involved.

I made this yesterday morning...


I know it's hard to see the oats since I covered it with fruit but it's under there :)

I made a single serving by following the directions on the package. It took about 45minutes to cook.

I added
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon of vanilla
1/4 cup of raisins (toward the end of cooking)

Toppings can be anything you like.Think dried fruit of your favorite nuts. Bananas and blackberries are my current favorite :)

If you want to make this for a crowd there are 2 options that I have found that work well with little effort... either cook overnight in a Crockpot or prepare the and let the oats soak in the cooking liquid over night then cook in the morning for 5-10 minutes.

Here are 2 recipes I have tried:  crockpot overnight steel cut oats

When I made this I had no apples or flax seed. It was still fine. Next time I will add an exrtra 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and at least 2 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla. ( if you are using a really good quality vanilla I would use a bit less)   *TIP* I am not a huge fan of Crock pot liners but for this it would be worth it! Mine was slightly overcooked and not the most fun to clean. Oh... it might not have been so bad if I had remembered to oil my crock :)

Recipe 2... overnight steel cut oats  It's Crazy good! Not to mention simple!


Monday, April 7, 2014

Quesadillas

One night 2 weeks ago Quesadillas were on our meal plan. I had not made them in a while so I was really happy to run across this recipe hearty black bean quesadillas

Many thanks to Beth over at budget bytes for the inspiration!

I changed it up just a bit but my version was definitely inspired by this recipe. My changes are in Bold Italics


This was before I added the cheese and cilantro. I was lucky to remember to take a photo at all :)


Ingredients
  •  1/2 pound of cooked ground beef (crumbled) Because if I do not add a bit of meat my hubby will give me a funny look :)
  • 1 (15 oz.) can black beans
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels (1 can of Corn Kernels. I use the Aldi Brand)
  • ½ small red onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ¼ bunch fresh cilantro (I only had dried)
  • 2 cups shredded cheese
  • 1 batch taco seasoning
  • 10 taco sized tortilla  (I used yellow corn tortillas)
  • Optional toppings... JalapeƱos, sour cream, tomatoes, lettuce, guacamole, avocado
The original authors Instructions:
  1. Drain the can of beans and rinse lightly. Place the beans in a large bowl along with the corn (no need to thaw).
  2. Rinse the cilantro, remove the leaves, and chop roughly. Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Add the cilantro, onion, garlic, and shredded cheese to the bowl with the beans and corn. Lastly, mix up a batch of taco seasoning and add to the bowl. Stir everything until evenly mixed.
  3. Place a half cup of the filling on one side of each tortilla and fold over. Cook in a skillet on both sides over medium heat until brown and crispy and the cheesy filling has melted.
  4. To freeze the quesadillas, simply fill each one and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place in the freezer for one hour to solidify the quesadillas and then transfer to a freezer bag. To reheat either microwave (for a soft quesadilla) or cook in a skillet on low heat (make sure to use low heat so that the filling has time to thaw and melt before the outside burns).
What I did:
    I cooked the ground beef in a medium fry pan. Turned off the heat then added the rest of the ingredients (except the tortillas and toppings).
    Heat a large skillet (I used my double burner griddle) lightly coat the pan with oil (I used my sprayer but a pastry brush would also work to get a light coating). Place tortilla on pan place 1/3 cup of filling off to one side of the tortilla. Add a bit of extra cheese if you like. Fold over tortilla. Hold in place for a minute until tortilla has set. Cook until crisp on each side and filling is warmed through.
 
This fed all 4 of us VERY well!  I had a good amount of filling leftover so I made up burritos for my hubby for work lunches.

My whole family Loved these and were happy campers!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Meal Plan 4/6 - 4/12 2014

Generally I only post dinners but I am making breakfast on Sunday as well.
We are having cinnamon rolls sausage and fresh fruit.  More on this Cinnamon roll recipe another day but know that it is FANTASTIC!



For general breakfasts this week I made 2 loaves of cinnamon raisin oatmeal bread

Sunday -    taco pasta bake
Monday - Chicken cordon-bleu casserole see my post Here   
Tuesday -  barbecue beef and cheesy potato casserole   New!
Wednesday -  Oven Fried Chicken   (family favorite)
Thursday - Tortellini Bites
Friday - Grilled Steak
Saturday - Frozen Pizza  (hubby is in charge as I will be gone scrapbooking)