Friday, May 29, 2009

Budget Pot Roast

1 2 1/2 to 3-lb boneless beef chuck pot roast
1/4 cup cooking oil
2 large onions, cut into 3/4-inch slices
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp dried thyme, crushed
1 lb potatoes, sliced
1 lb carrots, sliced
2 stalks celery, sliced
1/2 cup cold water
1/4 cup all purpose flour
salt and pepper

Trim fat from meat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. In a Dutch oven over medium heat brown roast on all sides in hot oil. Remove meat.

In same pan, cook onions until browned. Remove onions. Wipe excess oil from pan.

Return meat and onions to pan. Combine the 3/4 cup water, the vinegar, thyme, and salt. Pour over roast and onions. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 1 hour.

Add potatoes, carrots, and celery to meat. Return to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 45-55 minutes more or until meat and vegetable are tender.

Transfer meat and vegetables to a serving platter, reserving juices in Dutch oven. Keep warm.

For gravy, measure juices; skim off fat. If necessary add enough water to juices to equal 1 1/2 cups. Return to Dutch oven.

In a small bowl whisk together the 1/2 cup cold water and flour until smooth. Stir into juices in pan. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir for 1 more minute.

What I did differently from the recipe:
First of all, I used white wine vinegar because it's what I had in the pantry. I doubt it made a big difference. During all the time that this was simmering, I continued adding water. The recipe never stated to do that but otherwise I figured it would burn. I didn't use celery and I didn't make the gravy, so I can't vouch for that. I also threw in one beef bouillon cube at the very end just to give a little more flavor.

What I'll do differently next time:
Probably next time I'll add something like a "cream of" soup. Everything had great flavor except the potatoes, which for some reason were bland. So I'd like to have something a little more flavorful. Otherwise this was REALLY easy to make and very good!

Verdict: Thumbs up!

Monday, May 25, 2009

1 box Devils Food Cake Mix
1/3 stick all-vegetable shortening sticks or 1/3 cup all-vegetable shortening
1/3 cup cold water
1 large egg
1 container chocolate fudge frosting

Heat oven to 375. Combine cake mix and shortening in medium bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until a coarse meal forms.

Add water and egg, mixing on low, until a smooth dough forms.

Shape dough into balls. Place on a cookie sheet. Flatten balls of dough with spatula or cup.

Bake 5-7 minutes or until center is firm. Cool and them remove to a cooling rack. Spread frosting over cookies. Use sprinkles, if you like!

What I did differently from the recipe:
I know I used more shortening than it called for. Not much, but just enough to make the consistency that I thought was right. I also didn't flatten the first batch of cookies, and I don't recommend that. Flattening them definitely made them cook faster and more thoroughly. I left some cookies plain, some have chocolate frosting, some have frosting and sprinkles, and some have chocolate chips in them. Play with them as desired!

What I'll do differently next time: Nothing at all.

Verdict: Thumbs up!! This recipe took less than 15 minutes to make, and was so easy. They are also great for a snack when one is up nursing every few hours...

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Beef Noodle Bowl

8 oz linguine
3 cups broccoli florets
3 carrots
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 lb beef sirloin steak, cut into strips
1/4 cup Italian dressing
1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
1 tsp ground ginger

Cook pasta according to package.

While pasta cooks, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet. Add meat; cook until browned on all sides, stirring occasionally.

Add broccoli and carrots to the pasta for just the last couple of minutes of cooking time. Drain.

Stir dressing, teriyaki sauce and ginger into beef; cook until sauce thickens, stirring occasionally.

Mix pasta and beef mixture in a large serving bowl.

What I did differently from the recipe:
I doubt I used 8 oz of linguine, although I didn't measure, and it was still probably just a tad too much. I added more carrots because we really love veggies. I only used an 1/8 cup teriyaki sauce because Stephen doesn't like the taste and I know it can be an overwhelming flavor. He still thought it was a strong taste, even though I added a couple of extra squirts of Italian at the end of cooking just to finish it off.
What I'll do differently next time:
I'd use less pasta and more vegetables and beef. I'd also probably use even less teriyaki sauce if I made this again.
Verdict: Neutral. It was okay, but I have much better stir-fry recipes that I make that we both prefer. I won't be making this one again, but it was good for a one-time attempt. The Italian dressing definitely added a little zest that I liked, but the recipe overall just didn't impress us.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Fried Squash

This is a "mom" recipe, which means all ingredients portions are estimates. But it's really hard to screw this one up! So simple, and can be used for squash, zucchini, okra... probably several other veggies. Hey, you can't go wrong with frying.

vegetable oil

Wash and cut up squash. Cover the bottom of a skillet with oil. In a small bowl, mix cornmeal, salt and pepper. Dip pieces of squash in the cornmeal mixture and place in the skillet.

Cook a couple of minutes on each side or until brown and tender.

Easy peasy! And delicious!

Verdict: Thumbs up!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Maple-Barbecued Chicken

2 (2 1/2 to 3 lb.) broiler-fryers, cut up
1/2 cup melted butter
2 small cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup wine vinegar
2 Tbsp maple syrup
2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp marjoram leaves

Place chicken skin side down in a large shallow baking pan. Combine butter, garlic, vinegar, maple syrup, salt, pepper, mustard and marjoram.

Pour over chicken. Bake in 425 oven 30 minutes. Turn chicken pieces. Baste with sauce and bake 30 more minutes or until chicken is tender.


What I did differently from the recipe:
I used chicken tenderloin instead of broiler-fryers, partly because I had some in the freezer and partly because I have no clue what a broiler-fryer is. I used white wine vinegar because the recipe didn't specify red or white but I thought white would taste better. I didn't use maple syrup, I used pancake syrup. Store brand. And I only had ground marjoram, not the leaves, so I used 1/4 tsp dry marjoram instead. I only had to cook the chicken 15 minutes on one side and 10 on the other.

What I'll do differently next time:
No changes to this recipe!

Verdict: Thumbs up!

Rolled Biscuits

I failed at this "simple" recipe. Maybe you'll have better luck!

2 cups Bisquick
2/3 cup milk
Heat oven to 450. Mix 2 cups Bisquick baking mix and 2/3 cup milk until soft dough forms; beat vigorously 30 seconds. If dough is too sticky, gradually mix in enough baking mix to make dough easy to handle.

Turn onto board well floured with baking mix. Gently roll in baking mix to coat.

Shape into a ball.

Knead 10 times. Roll 1/2 inch thick.

Cut with 2-inch cutter floured with baking mix.

Bake on cookie sheet until golden brown, 8-10 minutes.

What I did differently from the recipe:

What I'll do differently next time:
Won't be making this again! A 2" cutter made TINY biscuits and they turned out not so great. I choose Grands Flaky Biscuits over these any day! They weren't hard or anything but they just didn't have a great flavor, and certainly didn't look like the picture!! (My fault!)

Verdict: Thumbs down.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Creamy Stove-Top Macaroni and Cheese

4 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 1/4 cups milk
1/4 cup (2 oz) cream cheese, softened
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp bottled minced garlic
1 1/4 cups (5 oz) shredded cheddar cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
While pasta cooks, place flour, salt, and pepper in a large saucepan. Add milk, stirring with a whisk until well blended.

Drop cream cheese by teaspoonfuls into milk mixture; bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat; simmer 2 minutes or until thick and cream cheese melts, stirring occasionally.

Stir in mustard, Worcestershire, and garlic; simmer 1 minute. Remove from heat.

Add cheddar cheese, stirring until cheese melts.

Combine pasta and cheese sauce in a large bowl; toss well.

What I did differently from the recipe:
The only thing I did differently was added more cheese in the end, trying to take away some of the overwhelming garlic flavor. Oh, and I used plain mustard instead of Dijon, but I doubt that made a big difference.
What I'll do differently next time:
Won't be making this again. But I'd use bigger macaroni noodles (couldn't find any this time), and I'd leave the garlic out completely. Stephen said he'd leave out the Worcestershire too, but I didn't even taste it. I would definitely say use more cheese than the recipe calls for.
Verdict: Thumbs down.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Yummy Honey Chicken

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 tsp black pepper
chicken breast halves
2 cloves garlic

In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, honey, soy sauce and pepper. Before adding chicken, reserve a small amount of marinade to brush onto chicken while cooking. Place chicken and garlic in the bowl and marinade in the fridge at least two hours (the longer the better). Preheat the grill for high heat. Drain the marinade from the chicken and discard. Lightly oil the grill grate. Place the chicken on the grill; cook for 12-15 minutes, or until chicken juices run clear. Turn and brush with reserved marinade frequently.

What I did differently from the recipe:
We added the garlic in the very beginning with everything else. We also only marinated it 15 minutes because we were starving to death. It definitely had an incredible flavor even after only that long.

What I'll do differently next time:
No changes to the recipe, but this would be great as kabobs with some bell peppers and pineapple I think - or whatever you want to add.

Verdict: Thumbs up!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Sauteed Asparagus

This is my own recipe for stir-fry/sauteed asparagus. So feel free to switch things up as you wish!

vegetable oil (or whatever you use)
minced or crushed garlic
soy sauce or stir-fry sauce

Heat oil and garlic in a pan over medium heat for two minutes or so.

Wash the asparagus; break off the ends. I break mine in half because they're easier to eat that way.

Stir asparagus into the garlic and oil mixture in the skillet. Cook for 4-5 minutes. If you like soy sauce or stir-fry sauce, add it and cook another 2 minutes or so. If you like your veggies soggy, keep on cooking until they're as done as you like!

Chow down.

Verdict: Thumbs up!

Stuffed Crust Pizza

1 can Pillsbury refrigerated pizza crust
7 sticks (give or take) string cheese
1/2 cup pizza sauce
pepperoni slices
2 cups (ish) Italian cheese blend

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Grease pizza pan with shortening or cooking spray. Or use parchment paper like I do - cuts down on dishes to wash! Unroll dough; place on pan. Starting at center, press out dough to edge of pan, pressing up and extending over sides by at least one inch.
Place string cheese around inside edge of crust. Fold extended edge of dough over cheese; pinch firmly to seal.

Spoon sauce evenly over dough.

Top with pepperoni and cheese blend.

Bake 12-16 minutes or until crust is golden brown and cheese in center is melted. This is the only picture I could capture because it was snatched up rather quickly!!

What I did differently from the recipe:
Of course, all the "numbers" on ingredients were fudged. I have no clue how many string cheese sticks I used. Same with the sauce, pepperoni, and cheese. I just used my own judgment in how much we would want.
What I'll do differently next time:
For one thing, next time I'll buy pizza sauce instead of pasta sauce. That's right. Stephen never noticed and I think the only reason I could tell it was pasta sauce was because I knew it. Obviously you can use things other than pepperoni and cheese but that's all he'll eat. Other than that, I might sprinkle some garlic salt or Parmesan over it the next time but I won't be changing anything about this recipe drastically!
Verdict: Thumbs up!

Heavenly Chocolate Cake

1 package chocolate cake mix
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
3 eggs
1 1/3 cup water
1 cup Miracle Whip

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Stir cake mix and cocoa.

Add remaining ingredients.

Beat until blended.

Pour into greased and floured 13x9 pan or 2 9-inch pans.
Bake 30-40 minutes or until done.

Frost as desired.

What I did differently from the recipe:
Instead of unsweetened cocoa I used baking cocoa because I already had some in the pantry. I doubt it made a difference. Also, I sprinkled chocolate chips in the batter because Stephen's obsessed with chocolate.
What I'll do differently next time:
There probably won't be a next time. I thought it came out rather dry, although Stephen didn't think so. I feel like it would be just as easy to use a cake mix in a box and it would taste just as good, not that this recipe was any trouble to make. But it definitely wasn't "heavenly" as the recipe title suggests.
Verdict: Neutral.