Thursday, April 29, 2010

Taco Rice



My friend and neighbor, Teri, sent some of this over for us to try, and my kids ate three bowls each! It is so, so good, and so, so easy!! It's not the typical kind of recipe that I share, but I know that there are some nights where a)we've run out of fresh veggies, b)we have whiny, hungry kids, and c)we just want to throw something on and sit down for a minute. I have those nights anyway...am I alone in that?

Ingredients:
2 boxes Spanish rice-a-roni
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can rotel tomatoes
1 package hamburger meat (cooked and drained)
1 package taco seasoning

Directions:
After cooking and draining your hamburger meat, add the taco seasoning and stir well.

Cook the rice according to the package directions. Add both cans of tomatoes and the seasoned meat. Mix well and allow it to warm thoroughly over low heat.


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Garden Update

This was the first time I had used a drill. Lame, I know, but I was excited!


The kids loved planting their seeds!
Our garden

Remember how I told you that I was going to build my own raised beds? Well, I did it! It was so much easier than I even dreamed, too. We pretty much just made it up as we went. I was going to do it like the Pioneer Woman did, but decided that I would make one to better fit my needs. The whole family is thrilled with it! We all worked on it together, and it looks so cute. Now for the crops to grow!

How did we do it? Well, I'll tell you! We went to Lowe's and purchased four pieces of wood measuring 8 feet long x 5.5 inches wide for $2.97 each. Along with that, we bought four wood corner brackets (@2.88 each) and a package of wood screws ($3.97). The whole bed cost us less than $30! We didn't do any cutting of the wood. We simply drilled the corner brackets to make a perfect square. We set it up where we wanted and put cardboard boxes down to keep the weeds out (but the cardboard allows drainage). We also bought 20 bags of top soil ($1.29 each) and two bags of compost ($4.97 each). The dirt cost about $35, so for around $65 we were ready to plant! The kids and I made several rows. They planted their seeds while wearing their pajamas. Ha!

What are we growing? Let me think...tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, bell peppers, cantaloupe, summer squash, cucumbers, lettuce, sunflowers (Josie is excited about those!), basil, cilantro, and strawberries. The strawberries are in their own pots. I transplanted them from our old garden to the pots up front so I could keep up with them better. I tried transplanting my onions, but they didn't make it. I'll have to go get some more onion plants later this week. We also have our pumpkins growing.

I am now in the middle of researching how to grow my own potatoes. I am really excited about those! One of my fondest and earliest childhood memories is digging potatoes with my Paw-Paw. I loved it, and am looking forward to digging for them with my children. I love a good treasure hunt!

So there you have it. Our garden is now up. We are anxiously awaiting the fruits (or veggies) of our labor. I'll update you when we have our first harvest.


Monday, April 26, 2010

Lime and Cilantro Rice (for burritos)

This Meatless Monday recipe can be eaten as a side-dish to your favorite Mexican meal, or wrapped up in a tortilla for a burrito. A reader sent me a link to this recipe early in my blogging adventure. Thanks so much! Burritos are so versatile. You can make them with or without meat, beans, rice, veggies only, and mix and match everything. Use this tortilla recipe or use your favorite store-bought tortillas.

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon oil
1/2 onion (chopped)
1 clove garlic (chopped)
1 cup long grained rice
2 cups water
1 handful cilantro (chopped)
1 lime (juice and zest)

Directions:
Heat the oil in a pan. Add the onion and saute until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Throw in the garlic and saute until fragrant. Pour in the rice and toast in the oil for a few minutes.
Add the water and let it come to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes for white rice or 40-50 minutes for brown. Remove from the heat and mix in the cilantro, lime juice and zest.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sunday Pot Roast

Do you all have memories of Sunday lunches at your home or your grandparents' home? I do! My Maw-Maw Morgan could fry some chicken and make some rice and gravy like no other. She still can, by-the-way. We moved away from her when I was ten, but I can still recall the smell of her house after mass on Sundays. I try to make a big Sunday lunch as often as I can. My parents and my brother and his family often join us, and I love having my house smell so "homey" while everyone is chatting. I even fry chicken that is *almost* as good as Maw-Maw's!

My husband is at the station today, so I didn't make a large lunch, but I did make a pot roast last night and wanted to share how I make it. I did eat the leftovers for lunch, so it still counts as my Sunday lunch, right? It's really easy (I mean REALLY!), and is the most delicious way that I've found. I've experimented with different roast recipes since I was first married, but this one hasn't let me down yet. How do you prepare your roast?

I didn't take pictures today.

Ingredients:
1 beef roast (You could probably use a pork roast, but I don't like pork.)
1 potato for each person you're serving (peeled and cut into large cubes)
2 carrots for each person you're serving (peeled and cut into large pieces)
1/2 bottle ranch dressing
1 package dry onion soup mix

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325. If you want to cook it faster, you can up it to 350.

Place your roast in the center of a large baking dish. Surround the roast with your carrots and potato pieces. Pour 1/2 bottle of ranch dressing all over the roast and the veggies. You don't want it soaking, but make sure each piece has some on it. Pour the package of onion soup mix over the top of everything. Place foil over the dish. Bake for 3 hours (the longer and slower it cooks, the more tender the roast). It makes a fantastic gravy-like sauce. Yummy!


Friday, April 23, 2010

Kinder Gardens


Inadvertent Farmer


This just makes me all kinds of happy! I ran across this contest (but really it's a lifestyle!) on Kim's blog, and just had to start participating. You see, we are *very* amateur gardeners, but we absolutely love the idea of growing our own food. We especially love the lessons that it teaches our very urban children.

If we had our way, we would be raising them in a small town on 20 acres with trees to climb, ponds to swim, farm animals to care for, and a large garden to tend. In reality, we live in a large town on a small lot with one small Bradford pear tree, a kiddie pool in the summer, two dogs and a cat, and an itty-bitty garden. *Sigh* One of these days, right?

Two days ago, we took a trip to the farmer's market, where the two older ones helped pick out pepper plants and they each picked their own flowers to plant. They have asked me for the last two days to plant them, but I'm waiting to build (yes, I'm going to build something...eek!) raised beds. I'll get pictures up of those when they are completed. We may also try straw bale gardens if we can find a few straw bales for sale.

The planters are going to hold a "salsa garden" full of delicious veggies like jalapenos, bell peppers, cucumbers, peas, onions, tomatoes, basil, cilantro (I had to get herb-growing lessons from one of the farmers at the market since I am always killing herbs.). My husband is a phenomenal salsa-maker, so I'm hoping to load him up on all of the necessary vegetables so that we always have fresh salsa on hand this summer. We will also have some strawberries. Strawberries are hearty little boogers! They were planted last year, and survived one of the harshest winters Oklahoma has known. My kids snack on those like popcorn!

Last year, our then three-year-old son insisted that we purchase pumpkin seeds. They were less than a dollar, so I bought them, thinking that they would never grow in the small space that we had for them. Well, I was wrong! Those pumpkins grew and produced, and I used them in several recipes, and it was one of the most satisfying things I have ever experienced. Really. And guess what...there are three little pumpkin plants sprouting right now! Looks like we will have pumpkin bread again all fall, Amanda. I know that makes you happy!

So there's a little preview to what we are planning on growing this year. We are super-excited about our garden, and about linking up to Kim for this contest. Why don't you all join in? I'd love to see your gardens, as well as get recipes that you use with your fresh produce!

Go out and get dirty...Happy Gardening!


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

POM Wonderful Winner

Just a quick note to let you all know that Amy H. was the winner of the POM Wonderful coupon. This means that I will be making this recipe in the near future.I have already been in contact with Amy, and Kristen should be sending her the coupon any day now. Thank you all for participating...there will be another giveaway very soon.


Monday, April 19, 2010

Vegetable Broth

Good Meatless Monday morning to you all! I'm on my way to take my newly-turned two-year-old to his well-child check, but upon return I am planning to make a big batch of vegetable broth. This broth is great to use in any recipe that calls for broth, and is so much healthier than the canned stuff! You can freeze it in 1.5 cup batches to use in your future recipes.

It's also a great way to use up veggies in your fridge before they go bad. That's what I'm doing. I've mentioned before that my brother is a chef. He's also my neighbor, which comes in quite handy at times! Last week he attended a food show, where they loaded him up with cheesecake and vegetables. Then he gave all of it to me! I now have carrots, turnips, bok choy, fennel, sunbursts (baby squash), and green beans to use up. However, the cheesecake won't go into the broth! Ha!

Ingredients:
any clean, whole, unpeeled vegetable you want
Most veggie broths have celery, mushrooms, and onion...the rest is up to you. I'm putting mushrooms, onion, turnips, green beans, bok choy, and squash into mine.
3 cloves of garlic (peeled and smashed slightly to bring out the flavor)
1 gallon water
salt and pepper to taste
fresh herbs if you have them

Directions:
In a large stock pot, throw in your veggies. There is no need to peel (I am taking the papery skin off of the onion first) or chop them. The skin is full of rich vitamins and flavors. Cover with one gallon of water. Toss in the garlic. Season to taste, and throw in whole, fresh herbs like parsley if you have it. If not, it's fine. Allow it to come to a boil, then lower the heat and allow it to simmer for at least an hour. Strain the vegetables out with a colander. Most of their nutritional value will have boiled out into the water, but they still contain some fiber, so munch on them if you want. Freeze the broth in 1.5 cup batches for later use.


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Not a recipe...


This isn't a recipe, but it is something pretty sweet. My little boy is a two-year-old today! He was born at 34 weeks/6 days and spent five days in the NICU. Today he is a walking, talking, adorable boy who lights up our lives. This is the picture we are using on his party table. We're having a Mickey Mouse party (and were supposed to fly kites, but it's raining!). I just had to share!


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Randomness


Random Item #1--Don't forget to enter the POM Wonderful giveaway. It ends tomorrow, and so far only five entries have been made. Some lucky winner is going to get a coupon for a FREE bottle of pomegranate juice, AND I'll make the recipe that you suggest.

Random Item #2--A photographer for the Oklahoma Gazette just left my house. While we were vacationing in Orlando, a reporter emailed me asking to do an interview about my Meatless Mondays. I obliged, and she sent the photographer out to get some shots of me and my family in the kitchen. It was fun and stress-free, which was awesome. The article will be published in the April 21 edition.

Random Item #3
--I'm running out of recipe ideas. I need your help! If you have any tried and true recipes, or one that you don't want to try yourself, email me or leave me a comment. I don't want to stop blogging, but I've pretty much used up my stash!

Random Item #4
--I am making these cupcakes for my son's second birthday (in two days!) I'm doing a Mickey Mouse theme for his party, and I made the cutest cupcake toppers to insert into the cupcakes. I used the picture of Mickey at the top of the post to make them. I'll try to share a picture after his party on Saturday.

Random Item #5
--I'm in the process of hooking you all up with some more awesome giveaways...look for them in the next couple of weeks!!

Random Item #6--You all need to become involved in my community. I would love to see it become an active forum, but I cannot do it alone. Think of some cool topics and post about them. Ask parenting questions, post parenting tips, share recipes, ask for prayer requests.


Monday, April 12, 2010

Curried Broccoli Soup

It's Meatless Monday!! I've shared with you before how much I love curry. I'm making my curry chicken for dinner tomorrow. Why not have curry twice in one week?! This is easy and rich, so make it before it gets too warm out!

Ingredients:
1 bag frozen broccoli
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon curry powder (or less to taste)
dash of tabasco sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 can broth (chicken or veggie)
1 cup half and half

Directions:
In a large pot, cook broccoli in boiling water until barely tender. In a food processor or blender, add the flour, butter, and seasonings. Add half of the broth, broccoli, and the broccoli water to the processor and puree it all. Pour it back into the pot and add the remainder of the broth and the half & half. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently.


POM Wonderful Giveaway


Kristen, over at www.pomwonderful.com contacted me recently about her pomegranate juice. She is sending me a sample to use in one of my recipes...thanks, Kristen! Do you have any recipes that contain pomegranate juice? If so, I'd love to have them!

She has also graciously offered a coupon for a free bottle of POM Wonderful to one of my readers!! All you have to do is go check out her site, browse through the recipes section, then come back here and leave a comment telling me which of the recipes on her site you think I should prepare for my blog. I'll choose the winner from random.org, and will make the dish that the winner suggests. Sound good?

The giveaway will close on Friday morning. I'll post the winner sometime that afternoon. The winner will have 48 hours to email me his/her contact info. Good luck!


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Something Old, Something New

We're baaaaack!! Disney was fabulous; my kids are amazing. It was a great family vacation with great memories made. I do have to admit that I now need a vacation from it, though. Woo...Disneyworld is all about the go, go, go! I'm back in my kitchen, though, so I'm relaxing and making some new things to post about.

Remember me posting the recipe for this quick, sweet bread? I took the old version and made something new out of it!

I simply replaced the pumpkin or banana with 1.5 cups of chunky applesauce. It turned out so moist and delicious that I'm about to sneak back into the kitchen for just one more piece! You could use any applesauce that you wanted, but I had the chunky on hand, so in it went. I also gave it a sprinkle of cinnamon and a handful of chopped pecans for the fun of it.

It's so fun to play around with recipes! Anyone have anything new to share with me? Check back in often, because I plan to be cooking away this week.


Thursday, April 8, 2010

On the Road

Hello all! My family and I are on our way home from Disneyworld. We have had an excellent time and the kids have been amazing during the 22 hour drive.

I just wanted to check in, say hello, and let you know that I'll be back in the kitchen soon. I MUST go grocery shopping when I get home, but then I'll post some new recipes. I'd like to start back up with Meatless Mondays and Frugal Fridays next week, so if you have any ideas for those, let me know!


-- Post From My iPhone