Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Maple Apple Turkey Meatballs

In my last post I mentioned Food Network's Robin Miller's Quick Fix Meals program. My Maple Apple Turkey Meatball recipe is adapted from one of her shows and has been a HUGE hit with my family. For this recipe you will need:
1/2 c. apple sauce
1/4 c. maple syrup
1 tsp. Simply Organic all purpose seasoning
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
3 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled into bits
1 1/2 lb. ground turkey
Sauce -
1 c. mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
1/4 tsp. prepared horseradish (add a little more if you prefer a little more "kick")
Combine apple sauce, maple syrup, all purpose seasoning, salt, pepper and bacon bits. Mix apple sauce mixture into the ground turkey well (I use my food processor). Using wet hands form turkey mixture into large meatballs. Spray crock pot with non-stick cooking spray. Place meatballs in crock pot and cook on low 4-6 hours or on high 2-4 hours.
Before serving combine sauce ingredients, mix well. Heat sauce in microwave for 1 minute, stir; repeat. Plate meatballs on serving platter and spoon sauce over each meatball. Serve extra sauce with meal.
Makes about 15 large meatballs.
NOTE: These meatballs can also be cooked uncovered in a 350 degree oven for 30-45 minutes, until center reads 180 degrees with a meat thermometer.
For an appetizer, form turkey mixture into 45 small meatballs and reduce cooking time by about one third. Serve with toothpicks.

Monday, February 22, 2010

MenuDay ...

Wow! It's certainly been a while since entering a MenuDay post. Our life was literally a little crazy for several months. My crock pot was, without any doubts, a life saver during all the home remodeling and repairs. I am rejoicing that I can actually see some resemblance of routine returning to our lives.
Baseball and softball season are starting up down here in S. Texas. So, like last year, that means I'll be planning to prepare simple, easy and quick meals. Of course our meals will continue to be prepared from scratch. Not only are homemade meals generally healthier and more flavorful, they are also more economical.
I often meet family's who think they simply don't have time to prepare wholesome homemade meals. It is my hope that as others peek into our busy life, they will realize that homemade, form scratch, doesn't always mean long labor intensive hours slaving away in one's kitchen. In my home, the key to "homemade" is making a plan and working that plan.
I recently discovered Robin Miller's Quick Fix Meals on Food Network. Her prep-ahead tips and suggestions are the same concepts passed down within my own family. The concepts of "making a plan and working that plan" are presented in a manner that will give the most novice of home cooks confidence to serve hearty and nutritious homemade meals. I encourage anyone who longs for evenings spent around the dinner table, but has trouble actually finding the time to partake, to tune in or record a few of Food Networks Robin Miller's Quick Fix Meals. Before long, you, too, will have the mastered the concepts that allow busy families the gift of enjoying meals around their own dining table.

Mornings are always a busy time for us, therefore most of our breakfast meals are ready to eat within 15 - 20 minutes.
Monday - spinach, bacon and cream cheese omelets, toast (20 minutes)
Tuesday - fried grits, elk sausage patties, canned peaches (20 minutes)
Wednesday - banana nut oatmeal, toast (20 minutes)
Thursday - birds on nest (poached eggs on toast), fruit salad (15 minutes)
Friday - sliced friendship bread, elk sausage patties, apple wedges (15 minutes)
Saturday - quiche Loraine, tangerine wedges (baking time increases this to 1 hour)
Sunday - sliced friendship bread, assorted fruit (5 minutes)

various leftovers, peanut butter & jelly or toasted cheese sandwiches w/ fruit

Supper time doesn't have to equal 1-1 1/2 hours in the kitchen. With a little planning, advanced preparation and even one's crock pot or slow cooker, you can have many homemade, from scratch meals, on the table in under 30 minutes.
Monday - lemony talapia fillets, polenta w/ besicamella sauce, steamed broccoli (on the table in under 40 minutes)
Tuesday - apple, maple turkey meatballs (cooked in my crock pot), carrots, salad (on the table in under 30 minutes)
Wednesday - glazed beets, sauteed beet greens, zucchini w/ onions (on the table in under 30 minutes)
Thursday - pinto beans (cooked in my crock pot), Mexican rice, homemade flour tortillas (if you make the tortillas ahead of time on baking day, this meal will be on the table in about 30 minutes)
Friday - chicken nachos (prepare chicken topping in a crock pot and have this fun and easy dish served within 30 minutes)
Saturday - chili (cooked in the crock pot), cornbread, salad (again, a crock pot works wonders for marrying all those delicious flavors in the chili and the entire meal will be served within 30 minutes)
Sunday - leftover buffet

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Only 8 ...

... and already having hair removal issues ...
Only joking, but, man O man!, you all should have seen the looks and expressions EJ received while we were out and about ... our family spent the entire day laughing and chuckling everytime someone noticed and thier head would, literally, "pop" for a second look!
Thank you, Grandpa, for the 50 cent self adhesive mustache!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Shrimp, Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

Living only 1 1/2 hours from Louisiana lends itself to occasionally partaking in Cajun cuisine. Cajun cuisine evolved from the cooking influences of the French and Mexican cultures. So far, I've never met anyone who didn't ask for seconds when sampling this delicious combination.

1/2 c. butter
1/4 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp. gumbo file` seasoning
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (more if your palette can take it)
1 bay leaf
1 med. onion, chopped
1 med. green bell pepper, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
3 c. chicken stock
1 (28 oz.) can tomatoes, chopped w/ juice
1 c. cooked de-boned chicken, (yes, this was from James)
1/2 lb. smoked sausage, sliced
1 lb. peeled, de-vained shrimp
1 (12 oz. ) pkg. frozen sliced okra
4 c. hot cooked rice

In a Dutch oven or large soup pot melt butter over low heat. Stirring constantly, add flour, gumbo file`, garlic, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and bay leaf. Cook and stir over low heat until mixture turns from dark green to brown (this mixture is called roux / pronounced rue),approximately 10-15 min. Add onion, green bell pepper and celery. Continue cooking over low heat, stirring occasionally, until onions are transparent. Add chicken stock and tomatoes with juice. Increase heat to medium, and bring mixture up to a simmer. Add chicken, sausage, shrimp and okra. Return to a simmer and cook for an additional 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve over hot cooked rice.
Make sure you always place a bottle of Louisiana hot sauce (we use Tabasco brand, it's made in Louisiana) on the table next to the salt and pepper when serving Cajun or Creole cuisine.
Serves 8

Note: You may omit the shrimp and add additional chicken and sausage, OR you may substitute diced ham for the sausage, OR you may substitute crayfish tails for the shrimp, OR you may substitute any combination of meat your heart desires - it all tastes good in gumbo.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

House Hunting

We found this home. Although it needs some updating and remodeling, we love the floor plan, secluded location and the view of more than 100 acres of ranch land from the back porch.
The home was being sold through a short sale, and from all indications, it looked as if the sale would go through. Last month we received a call from our realtor who informed us that the owner's mortgage company is now strongly considering foreclosure and there is only a 10 - 15% chance they will proceed with the sale.

We've been house hunting in this area for more than 15 months. In all that time we've looked at only 5 possibilities. This home was #4. Mr. B has looked at a 5th home since receiving the bad news on house #4 - but like the first 3 homes, he doesn't think it will fit our needs/desires.

Sometimes, I think that when others peek into my world through this blog, they walk away with the image that our life is stress-free or that we appear to really "have it all together" - especially since I am not one who likes to bemoan or dwell upon every problem or challenge that arises in our family's life. In all reality, our lives aren't any easier than anyone else's. Mr. B has worked in another state, more than 1,500 miles away from us, for more than 13 months. Although he has had some occasional 3-4 day visits home during the past year, a separation of this magnitude presents all sorts of challenges for one's marriage and family. When he accepted his job transfer, we never dreamed finding another home would be so incredibly challenging.

In today's economic climate, with hundred's of thousands of job losses every month, including lay-offs within Mr.B's own company, I am very grateful that Mr.B continues to be employed. I do not desire his return home if that includes a job loss. Actually, we don't want Mr.B to come home at all. We want to join Mr.B. That's the reason he took this job transfer. Our family wants to live in an agricultural and rural area. We want to live in a cooler climate where summertime air conditioning is not a necessity. We want to have enough land to grow a larger garden and raise more than just chickens and/or rabbits.

I don't know why our move is being hindered, but I continue to trust in the Lord's timing and in His plans and desires for our family. I continue to praise Him for the provision He provides our family.

Psalms 37:3-5, "Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the Lord; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass."

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Wages of Sin is Death

Even after numerous warnings, James continued to "attack" and spur, even drawing blood on several occasions, Mr. B, all our children, several friends and our neighbors. As time passed James became more and more aggressive. Leading me to suggest that Mr. B needed to "pass judgement" upon him. Yesterday evening, James attempted to "attack" me when I entered the coop at feeding time. Consequently, I took it upon myself to "pass judgment".

Since Mr. B was not home, Dad was gracious enough to clean James up and get him ready for the crock pot.
I added a few seasonings, some onion, carrot and celery, and a good amount of water. Set the temperature to high and before bed turned it down to low.

This morning, James had yielded 5 c. deboned chicken and 2 qt. broth.

I was concerned that the girls had been traumatized by witnessing the public execution of James. However, judging from today's egg production, they are in agreement with the sentencing.

So Angry I Could Eat Nails ...

My day began very well. Everything that I had control over was right in my world, until .... I read the following article, "Obama Responds to Ire Over 2nd Anti-Vegas Remark", ( http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_obama_las_vegas ).

Personally, my "issues" do not lie with President Obama's remarks regarding Las Vegas, my "issues" are that he'd have the audacity give financial advise to ANYONE!

- "I was making the simple point that families use vacation dollars, not college tuition money, to have fun," Obama said.
- "When times are tough, you tighten your belts," Obama said, according to a White House transcript of his appearance Tuesday at a high school in North Nashua, N.H.
- "You don't go buying a boat when you can barely pay your mortgage," Obama said. "You don't blow a bunch of cash on Vegas when you're trying to save for college. You prioritize. You make tough choices."

When I look at the economic train wreck our nation is experiencing, I ask, "When is President Obama and his administration going to practice what he's preaching?"

Now, anyone who knows me personally, knows that I am always a supporter of financial responsibility. The difference between myself and Washington is that I do not BORROW money so I can spend more than I will be able to bring in. I preach a debt free lifestyle AND I practice what I preach.

My response to President Obama's remarks on personal financial responsibility, "Don't tell me, or anyone else, how to spend our hard earned incomes until you put into practice on Capital Hill what you preach."

Now that I've vented, I feel better.

A Little Satire, Anyone?

This morning, I popped in on Mary over at Civilla's Cyberquarium Cafe ( http://civillascybercafe.blogspot.com/ ). She's posted a link to a piece of satire entitled, "Temple Prostitution: A Modest Proposal" (http://firstthings.com/blogs/evangel/2009/12/temple-prostitution-a-modest-proposal/ ). Although this article is written in a sarcastic spirit, there is, from my own personal observations, an unfortunate relevance in today's mainstream Christian denominations.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

We Owe A Thank You For...

(photo at right courtesy of www.freephotos.com )
Tuesday evening's supper to Homeschool Mom from Magnify To Make God Bigger, http://magnifykidschurch.blogspot.com/
Her suggestion was a family favorite from her childhood. In my comments section she says, "I don't have an exact recipe,but.. Using a 9 x 13 pan, fill the bottom of the pan with chicken pieces and cubed potatoes. Bake. When it is almost done put a layer of green beans on top. Then coat the entire dish with a cheese sauce (I use queso). Bake about 10 more minutes and then serve. Yum."
This easy to prepare, one dish meal was a GIGANTIC success with my crew! EVERYONE gives it TWO thumbs up and when asked, "Should I prepare this again?" The response was, "Most Definitely." Here's how I prepared Homeschool Mom's suggestion.

Homeschool Mom's Cheesy Roasted Chicken & Potatoes with Green Beans

3-4 lb. fryer, cut up
4 medium potatoes, chunked
1 tsp. Simply Organic's All-Purpose Seasoning
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Qt. green beans
Cheese Sauce:
2 Tbs. butter
1/2 tsp. mustard powder
salt & pepper, to taste
2-3 Tbsp. flour
1 - 1 1/2 c. milk
1 c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Place chicken and chunked potatoes in a 9 x 13 in. baking pan. Sprinkle with all-purpose seasoning, salt and pepper. Cover tightly with foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until potatoes are fork tender and chicken juices run clear.
While chicken and potatoes are baking prepare cheese sauce: In a small sauce pan, melt butter. Whisk in mustard powder, salt, pepper and flour. When mixture comes together as a paste, slowly add milk while constantly whisking. When mixture begins to thicken, vigorously whisk in shredded cheese. Set aside.
When juices from chicken run clear and potatoes are tender, sprinkle green beans over casserole. Drizzle casserole with cheese sauce. Return to a 350 degree oven for approximately 10 minutes, until green beans and cheese sauce are hot.

I am looking forward to tomorrow's suggestion(s). I am having fun "cooking by the seat of my pants". Your participation is greatly appreciated.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Tonight's Supper ...

was courtesy of Mrs. A from Charmin's Thoughts, www.charminsthoughts.blogspot.com She suggested serving her famous King Ranch Chicken.
Since I've been feeling a little "uninspired" in the kitchen lately, I've decided that I will cook whatever meal(s) is/are suggested to me through this "Menu Idea Invitation". I am really hoping that you guys will suggest something for tomorrow evening - otherwise my family may go to bed hungry! ... hee! hee!
I do have Mrs. A's King Ranch Chicken recipe, however, I did not have all the ingredients for her "secret" family recipe on hand. So, I will provide you, my dear readers, with the version I prepared this evening. It was served with a spinach, pineapple and Mandarin orange salad.
King Ranch Chicken
2 c. cooked chicken, shredded
3 Roma tomatoes, cored
1 4oz. can diced green chilies
2 oz. sour cream
1 c. cheddar cheese, shredded
6 corn tortillas, cut into strips
Using a food processor, chop and combine tomatoes and green chilies. Transfer to a medium bowl, add shredded chicken, reconstituted cream soup, sour cream, and 1/2 c. shredded cheese; mix well. In a greased 8 x 8 baking pan spread a small amount of chicken mixture. Top with a layer of corn tortilla pieces. Repeat layers of chicken mixture and corn tortillas ending with chicken mixture. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 - 30 minutes or until hot, bubbly and cheese begins to brown.
Serves 6
Thank you Mrs. A! My family and our home school group enjoyed supper and went to bed with full bellies this evening.