Wednesday, May 16, 2012

My Lap is Big Enough

My lap is big enough to hold my oldest granddaughter, Ashtyn Claire, and my youngest son, Caedmon, while grandsons Chase and Eli and my other son Jackson snuggle close by to listen as I read them a book.  You can see the little boys each take turns counting the pirates as I turn the pages.

 Another day the little boys enjoyed homemade lemonade popsicles on the swing.  Poor little Ashtyn Claire wanted one, too!

Chase is at that age where he likes to be a clown.  He'll soon be five years old.  Every time they come the first thing they ask me is if we can "play school"!!  They are coming tomorrow to spend a couple of days with us while their mommy, daddy and little sisters go to the homeschool conference.  And yes, we will be "playing school"!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Freezer Cooking with Italian Sausage and Ground Beef

The other day I came across this post with this recipe.

I thought it sounded pretty good and, as we love Mexican food around here, I thought I would try it out.  And in true ME fashion I changed it much so that it might not be recognized as the original any more!!  I used mild Italian sausage instead of the spicy (I bought 10 pounds at Sam's and divided it up between this recipe and the spaghetti sauce)  And I made it in the crock pot.  I added some Mexican spices, 2 cups of chopped tri-colored peppers and some minced garlic.  I also made this recipe times 5.  And I divided the resulting dish into three quart sized baggies without adding cheese.  So, maybe I didn't really follow this recipe at all!!  Do you do that?  We will try this dish out Thursday evening as a quick meal before heading off to Aaron and Kaelan's piano recital.

I also made up a big batch of spaghetti sauce.  I wound up with 7 bags holding about four cups of sauce each.  I usually triple this batch cooking recipe, but this time I used 5 pounds of sausage.  This recipe is from Once-A-Month Cooking by Mimi Wilson and Mary Beth Lagerborg.

 Spaghetti Sauce

1 pound bulk Italian sausage   
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion
1 12-can tomato paste
3 28-ounce cans Italian-style or plain crushed tomatoes in puree (I buy the big cans at Sam's)
2 cups water
4 teaspoons minced garlic
4 bay leaves
2 tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoon dried oregano
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley ( I use dried)
2 teaspoons salt

In a large pot, cook and stir the bulk Italian sausage with onions until the meat is brown;  drain fat.  Add remaining ingredients.  Bring sauce to a boil;  reduce heat.  Partly cover, and simmer for 2  hours, stirring occasionally.  Makes 12 cups of sauce.  I then freeze 4 cups of sauce in gallon bags and lie flat on a cookie sheet placed in the freezer.  When frozen I can stack them on top of each other and use my cookie sheet for cookies!!

Devin made up three pans of lasagna plus two mini pans for my mom.  Here is our favorite family recipe from our childhood.  We have since made adaptions as we are trying to stay away from canned soups with their added corn syrup.


1 lb. ground chuck 
1 cup chopped onion
2 large gloves garlic, minced 
2 tsp. oregano, crushed
2 cans tomato soup
 ½ cup water
2 tsp vinegar
 ½ lb lasagne noodles (cooked & drained)
1 pint cottage cheese
 ½ lb mozzarella cheese, grated
grated Parmesan cheese

In saucepan, brown meat, cook onion, garlic, oregano. Add soup, water and vinegar. Simmer 30 minutes, stirring frequently. In baking dish, arrange 3 alternate layers of noodles, cottage cheese, meat sauce, mozzarella. Top with Parmesan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Let stand for 15 minutes. I usually double or triple as it freezes well.

Mini Meat Loaves

Years ago, I came across these Little Cheddar Meatloaves.  We loved this recipe...except I put the shredded cheese IN the meatloaf, not on top of it.  And now, when I make this, I totally leave out the eggs and cheese so all of us can eat it.  I top a few of the little loaves with ketchup that is mixed with a little brown sugar and cayenne powder to give it a little sweet and spicy kick.  And of course, you know I make a huge batch of these!  I made one pan with a dozen little loaves and two pans with nine loaves.  I also made up a mini-pan for my mom.

Turkey Tetrazzini

And, because I had a good bit of turkey meat and turkey broth leftover, I mixed up a huge batch of what I call turkey tetrazzini.  I cooked up about a pound and a half of spaghetti and added about 4 cups of chopped turkey, a couple of diced onions, a large package of mushrooms chopped up, some salt, pepper, dried chives and then made a sauce with the broth and flour.  All this was mixed up in a huge bowl and then I added in about 3-4 cups of parmesan cheese.  I'll add in a little cream or sour cream before cooking as I forgot all about it putting the dish together.  I packaged this into 3 gallon sized bags.  The last time I made it, my oldest son commented that it really wasn't all that bad.  Which translates into "It's really good and a very tasty way to use up some leftovers!

Menu Plan May 14-20

This week we did a lot of freezer cooking and I will share recipes later.

b-blueberry muffins, ham, eggs, grits
l-pasta salad, cheese, crackers, popcorn, olives, apples
d-turkey/barley soup or white beans w/ham, corn bread and salad

b-granola with yogurt, English muffins
d-baked chicken, broccoli, lentil rice casserole

b-applesauce muffins, ham, eggs, grits
d-hamburgers, roasted potatoes, raw veggies

b-baked oatmeal
l-grilled turkey/cheese sandwiches, apples
d-queso fundido, black bean salsa

b-pancakes and eggs
l-pasta salad, cheese, crackers, popcorn, olives
d-homemade pizzas, apple dessert pizza

b-biscuits, bacon, eggs, and grits
l-leftovers or sandwich
d-chicken alfredo, spaghetti with Italian sausage, salad and garlic bread

b-cinnamon rolls
l-finger foods at church
d-turkey tetrazzinni, green beans, corn, cookies and cobbler

Sunday, May 6, 2012

This Week's Menu and Kitchen To Do List

We had an unexpectedly busy week and some of the planned menu items just didn't happen, so they are being moved over to this week.  I also didn't get any apples dehydrated nor did the grape jelly get made.  I'll try them this week.  I did get ALL the beef broth canned and got all the onions I needed to dry this week done.   So, this is what's going on in the Busy Hands Busy Minds kitchen this week.

b-blueberry muffins, eggs, bacon or sausage
d-French onion soup, sandwiches

b-yogurt and granola and/or leftover muffins
l-leftovers, popcorn, cheese cubes, fruit
d-baked turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, fried squash and zucchini

b-baked apple oatmeal
l-pasta salad and green salad
d-bbq pork sandwiches, cole slaw and roasted potatoes

b-applesauce muffins, sausage and eggs
d-lasagna, salad and rolls

l-sandwiches, popcorn, fruit
d-flatbread pizzas, salad, cookies

b-biscuits, bacon, eggs and grits
d-pinto beans with chopped onions and shredded cheese, cornbread and raw veggies

b-cinnamon rolls
l-roast beef with potatoes, carrots, onions and peas
d-sandwiches, fruit, ice cream

Kitchen To Do List

Monday-dehydrate apples, clean out small freezer

Tuesday-Town/Errand Day, make butter

Wednesday-make up several pans of lasagna, organize staples cabinet, dehydrate more apples

Thursday-organize pot/pans cabinet, make meatloaves and meatballs for freezer, dehydrate more apples

Friday-organize canned goods cabinet, make grape jelly

Saturday-make granola in the dehydrator, can sloppy joe mix with ground beef

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Repost: Creamy Green Chili Chicken Enchiladas

This is another extremely frugal recipe that we have loved for years.  I believe I have combined two seperate recipes to come up with this one and even made some adaptations last night to replace the cream of chicken soup called for in the original.  If I were getting fresh milk I would have used homemade sour cream and I also could have used a homemade enchilada sauce and home grown chilies.

Wednesday I skinned six chicken breasts and put them in a large stockpot with two gallons of water.  I added a chopped carrot or two, a sliced onion and several minced cloves of garlic.  I let this simmer for several hours and then drained all the stock.  I then deboned the chicken and added the meat from one chicken breast to about half of the remaining stock, some sliced carrots, dehydrated onions, more garlic, brown rice and some seasonings to make chicken and rice soup for our evening meal.  The remaining chicken I put in the refrigerator to use for the enchiladas the next day.

First I sauteed one chopped onion and one clove of minced garlic in olive oil.  

Then I added one can of Rotel to the onions.

Next the shredded chicken was added....approximately 7-8 cups was mixed in with the vegetables.

I spooned about three tablespoons of the meat mixture and one tablespoon of shredded colby/monterrey jack cheese on a flour tortilla.  Continue until all the meat mixture is gone.

Meanwhile, Devin made a sauce using 1 1/2 cups of milk and 1 1/2 cups of chicken stock.  After the liquid was heated she removed about 1/2 cup and mixed it with about 2 T. of corn starch.  This was then added back to the pot and stirred thoroughly.  You can use cream of chicken soup (it would take two cans) but this is a much more healthy and cheaper alternative.

To the milk/stock mixture was added two cans of chopped green chilies, two cans of green enchilada sauce and about 3 1/2 cups of sour cream.

The meat mixture was enough for three 9 x 13 inch pans....21 enchiladas!!  

I evenly divided the sauce over the three pans.  ( and why, yes, there are several loaves of homemade bread sittting there as well...we are in renovation mode and everything is a mess!)

And then I sprinkled with more grated cheese.  I covered two pans with plastic wrap and then with aluminum foil to add to my freezer.   The other pan was baked in the oven at 350 degrees until heated through and the cheese melted.


We generally serve up 1/2 an enchilada at a time and have  Mexican rice, refried beans, chips and salsa on the side.

Now for the recipe!

Chicken Enchiladas with Creamy Green Chili Sauce

one diced onion
1 clove of minced garlic
3 T. olive oil
6-8 cups of shredded chicken
1 can of Rotel
6-8 cups of shredded chicken
1 1/2 cups of milk or cream
1 1/2 cups of chicken stock
2-3 T. corn starch
2 cans chopped green chilies
2 cans green enchilada sauce
3 1/2 cups sour cream
21-25 flour tortillas
2 pounds of shredded cheddar, colby, or monterrey jack cheese

Saute onion and garlic in olive oil in a 4 quart sauce pan.  Add Rotel and stir well.  Add chicken and mix thoroughly.   In a 2 quart sauce pan heat chicken stock and milk.  Remove 1/2 cup of heated liquid and combine with 2 T. corn starch.  Add this mixture to the pan, remove from heat and stir until thickened.  In a large bowl add green chilies, enchilada sauce and sour cream to the cream/stock mixture.

Grease three 9 x 13 inch casserole dishes.  Add 3 T. of meat mixture and 1 T. shredded cheese to each tortilla.  Roll up and place in casserole dish.  Continue until all meat is used.  Evenly divide sauce mixture over the three pans of enchiladas.  Top with a layer of cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees until heated through and cheese is melted...about 20-25 minutes.  This freezes very well and can be kept frozen for about 3 months.

Army Man Rice from Hillbilly Housewife.

2 tablespoons oil or bacon grease
1 cup long grain white rice
1-1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon each oregano & cumin & garlic powder
1 tablespoon dry onion
Dash red pepper (optional)
8 oz can tomato sauce or 1 cup chopped fresh or canned tomatoes
2 cups water

Get out a 2-quart saucepan. Heat the oil or bacon grease in the pan, over medium heat. Add the rice and saute it in the hot fat until it is toasty and slightly opaque. If you are using fresh onion, add it now too. When the rice is toasted, add the seasonings, tomato sauce and water. Stir it up and bring it to a boil. When it starts to boil, cover the pan with a good lid and reduce the heat to very low. Allow the rice to cook on the back of the stove for a good 20 minutes. Serve topped with cheese for a main dish, or just like it is as a side dish. This is Tom’s favorite food in the entire world. Serves 4 as a side dish, or 2 as a main dish. This recipe doubles easily. Cook it in a 3-quart saucepan if you double it.
If you want to a main dish, you can add a 1/2-pound of cooked ground beef. Another option is to add a 15 oz can of kidney or pinto or black beans (1-1/2 cups cooked beans). Add either along with the tomato sauce and water. Cook as directed.

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