Friday, December 31, 2010

January 2010 Menu Plan

Can you believe it's a new year already? Christmas has come and gone so quickly, I'm not even sure it happened. If I didn't have a tiny helicopter buzzing around my head shooting actual missiles at me, I would be inclined to think it hadn't.

I've started thinking about New Year's resolutions. I have never really made any in the past, so this is a new thing this year. I have a couple goals in mind, and while they seem at first glance to be simple, I know it's going to be an uphill battle.

#1 - Get a handle on my housekeeping. Or lack thereof. I am TERRIBLE at it. My house ALWAYS looks like a tornado ripped through it. It has probably been months since I vacuumed the stairs. I have the Fly Lady on tap and I think I am truly ready to let her help me this time.

#2 - Stay the hockey sticks out of Wal-Mart. I can't leave that place without spending two hundred dollars. My goal is one trip per month. Get all household supplies and non-perishable groceries in one trip.

So instead of planning my suppers weekly, I need to plan for the month. Tina does it this way, and I ended up using hers as a template. This turned out to be a little harder than I thought it would, mostly because I kept getting side-tracked. I have a program on my computer that organizes recipes. The problem is that I have recipes scattered over three different computers and/or email accounts.

I will never go paperless. It is beyond my ability. I have to have a hard copy of whatever I am studying in front of me. I simply detest scrolling through computer files. So I bought a photo album (from Wal-Mart) to put a print out of all my favorite recipes. Today, I made sure I had all my recipes in the program and then I printed them on 4 x 6 cards to put in my new cookbook. Even though I have yet to decide on my perfect organizing system, this is so much better. There are recipes I loved that I forgot I had.

Anyway, to make a short story long, I spent about three hours this afternoon making out my January menu plan.

But it is done!

Now I need to make out a grocery list...

January Suppers
Grandma's Goulash & Salad & Fruit
Upside Down Pizza & Salad
PW's Chicken Strips & Potato Salad
Roast Beef & Carrots & Potatoes (SC)
Tuna Salad & Chips
PW's Tomato Cream Pasta & Salad
Beef Stew
Sticky Asian Chicken & Rice & Veggies
Bacon Wrapped Corndogs & Green Beans
Spagetti Tacos & Salad
Pumpkin Soup
Baked Teriyaki Chicken & Rice & Veggies
Chicken Lickin with Noodles (SC)
Ham Salad & Chips
Sloppy Burgers
Sweet and Sour Chicken with Rice (SC)
Chicken and Dumplings (SC)
Meatloaf & Potatoes & Corn
Pizza Burgers
Baked Chicken & Potatoes & Green Beans
Meatball Stone Soup

Snacks and Desserts
Vanilla Pudding
Caramel Chip Bars
Triple Chocolate Mess
Note: SC stands for Slow Cooker. I don't have nearly enough of those.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Chicken Strips

On any given day, ask The Boy what he wants for dinner, supper, lunch, snack, breakfast, and he will say "Chicken with Ranch." At least he is branching out from the ketchup.

We have had the frozen chicken strips and nuggets a few times and I really, really don't care for those. Oddly enough, the day I sat down to search for a recipe, the Pioneer Woman had one waiting in my Reader.

Soak your chicken strips in buttermilk for about 15 minutes.
In another bowl, mix flour and your choice of spices. This is what is known as Montreal Chicken. I have no idea why it is called that.
Add about a third a cup of buttermilk and stir it all up.
Dip your soaked chicken strips in your flour mixture.
So they are nice and coated.
Fry in hot oil for just a minute or two.
Don't forget the Ranch.

Click here for Printable Recipe

Chicken Strips
1 package Chicken Breasts, cut into strips
1-½ cup Flour
2 teaspoons Spices Of Your Choosing
Vegetable Oil
Start by rinsing and drying your chicken strips. Next, in a bowl submerge the chicken strips in buttermilk for 15 to 20 minutes.
In another bowl combine about 1 ½ cups flour and 2 to 3 teaspoons of Lawry’s Seasoning Salt (or other seasonings if you prefer). Mix this together well. Next, add about ¼ to ½ cup of buttermilk into the flour mixture and stir lightly with a fork as you add it.
Heat about 1 inch of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-low to medium heat.
Remove a few of the buttermilk-soaked strips and place them in the flour mixture, turning them over to coat them thoroughly. Place them on a plate. Continue coating chicken strips until they are all ready to cook.
When the oil is sufficiently heated, begin cooking the strips a few at a time. Cook them for about a minute and a half or so on each side. When golden and crispy, remove them to a paper towel-lined plate.
Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Butterscotch Cheesecake

I love cheesecake. And it loves me.

I have been on a cheesecake kick lately, I just can't seem to get enough of it. It's really not difficult to make, it just takes some time. My mom has actually made REAL New York Carnegie Deli Cheesecake before. It apparently IS fairly involved. I might have to get that recipe.

This butterscotch recipe intrigued me when I saw it in Taste of Home and it just kept calling to me. The Girl has not stopped requesting it.

Traditionally, you are supposed to bake your cheesecake in a springform pan. The sides of this pan can be loosened and removed so you have beautifully perfect slices of pie. I used to have one, but it is in the stratosphere with the rest of my house, and I never replaced it. I have been baking in a pie plate or a regular 9 x 13 pan with really good results, so I will probably stick with that for now.

Mix up a graham cracker crust. This recipe calls for brown sugar, but I apparently just started mixing up my old stand-by one :) Which ever kind of sugar you decide to use, add in the crushed graham crackers and melted butter.
Mix that well and press into your pie plate (or springform pan) (or 9 x 13) and set aside.
Whisk together the milks and INSTANT butterscotch pudding mix. We are going to let this sit for a few minutes so it just starts to set up.
Beat in 3 (count them, three) packages of room temperature cream cheese. Let your cream cheese set out for a few hours. This makes it so much easier to whip and you end up with a much creamier pie.
Add in 3 lightly beaten eggs. Mix on low until the eggs are just combined with the cheese mixture. We don't want to lose any of that fluffiness.
Pour into your graham cracker crust and bake at 325 for 60-75 minutes.
Let cool and place in the refrigerator overnight.
This is the hard part. The waiting. Knowing that you cannot have what you most desire...
Knowing that tomorrow, you are going to have to have this for breakfast because you can't stand it anymore...
But trust me on this one. Tomorrow, it will be infinitely better. It NEEDS that night time to blend those flavors.

Click here for Printable Recipe

Butterscotch Cheesecake
1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
3/4 cup cold 2% milk
1 package (3.4 ounces) instant butterscotch pudding mix
3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon Spice Island® Pure Vanilla Extract
3 eggs, lightly beaten
Place a greased 9-in. springform pan on a double thickness of heavy-duty foil (about 18 in. square). Securely wrap foil around pan. In a small bowl, combine cracker crumbs and sugar; stir in butter. Press onto the bottom of prepared pan. Place pan on a baking sheet. Bake at 325° for 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
In a small bowl, whisk the milks and pudding mix for 2 minutes. Let stand for 2 minutes or until soft-set.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Beat in pudding and vanilla. Add eggs; beat on low speed just until combined. Pour over crust. Place springform pan in a large baking pan; add 1 in. of hot water to larger pan.
Bake at 325° for 65-75 minutes or until center is almost set and top appears dull. Remove springform pan from water bath. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
Carefully run a knife around edge of pan to loosen; cool 1 hour longer. Refrigerate overnight. Garnish with whipped cream and butterscotch candies if desired. Yield: 12 servings.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Butterscotch Pudding

This winter, I remembered my childhood in which pudding was made on a stove. Or maybe I just dreamed that, I don't know. But I've made it my mission to discover home made pudding. I am sooooo glad I did that.

What I have found is that pudding is really simple to make, even if it takes a bit longer than instant. And like so many other things, it is infinitely better than instant, plus, you can have some while it is still warm...mmmmmm....

On low heat, stirring constantly, (we don't want to burn the milk) bring the milk, cornstarch, salt and dark brown sugar to a boil. You could use light brown sugar here, but don't. The dark brown sugar gives a whole other dimension of flavor.
After the milk reaches boiling, cook for one minute. Add a quarter cup of the hot mixture to two egg yolks. Temper those yolks so they don't turn into scrambled eggs in your pudding. Add this back into the milk mixture and cook for one more minute.
Remove from heat and add in two tablespoons real butter and a teaspoon of vanilla. Stir this until the butter is completely melted.
Pour into your fancy garage sale glasses and cool.
This didn't even get to the refrigerator before The Kids got into it. What a wonderful dessert for a cold winter afternoon. My only regret is that I didn't have any whipped cream to add to the top. How does that even happen?

Click here for Printable Recipe

Butterscotch Pudding
1/2 C Dark Brown Sugar
2 T Cornstarch
1 1/2 C Milk
Pinch of Salt
2 Egg Yolks
2 T Butter
1/2 t Vanilla
In a small saucepan, mix together brown sugar, cornstarch, salt and milk. Over low heat, bring mixture to a boil. Cook and stir 1 minute. Temper yolks by quickly stirring in about 1/4 of the boiling mixture. Pour yolk mixture back into hot milk and return to heat. Cook and stir for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Stir in butter and vanilla until butter is melted. Pour into bowls and let cool.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Homemade Granola

I love Tina's blog. She makes so many things that sound so good to me. I like granola bars, but I have never been tempted to eat granola just as a snack by itself. I can be really dumb sometimes. I have noticed lately I have been drawn to foods that are supposed to be really healthy. This just looked so good that I had to try it.

Melt the butter. I love butter. Butter makes everything better.
Once the butter melts, add in the honey and salt. Heat this until you get a foamy mixture.
In a large mixing bowl, mix together the oats, wheat germ, cinnamon, brown sugar and all the other stuff you want in your granola. This is where it gets fun. Like dried fruit? Add in a half a cup. Nuts? What kind? I like almonds, but you might prefer pecans. The spices can be mixed up, too. I occasionally add in a half a teaspoon of nutmeg.
Add in the butter and honey and mix well.
Spread all of that goodness into a baking pan. And bake for about 10 minutes. Watch this closely. You are going for toasted here, and there is a very fine line between toasted and burned.
Let it cool for about 10 minutes. Stir it up and let it cool completely.

Wow. I love this. I have been eating yogurt for breakfast simply as an excuse to eat granola. I eat this by the spoonful. I think my husband might be worried. If this isn't good for you, for heaven's sake, don't tell me.

Click here for Printable Recipe

Homemade Granola
3 1/2 Cups Uncooked Old Fashioned Oats
1 stick + 1 tablespoon Butter
1/2 Cup Honey
1/4 Cup Light Brown Sugar
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/2 Cup Wheat Germ
1/2 Cup almond pieces
1/2 Cup Almond Slivers
1/2 - 1 Cup Dried Fruit
Melt butter in a 3 - quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the honey and salt and briefly heat with the butter until foamy and bubbly. In a separate bowl mix together the oatmeal, wheat germ, nuts, brown sugar and cinnamon sugar if adding dried fruit add them as well. Turn off the heat and add the oatmeal mixture. Stir until everything is coated. Pour the mixture onto a lightly greased baking sheet. Spread the mixture out evenly and pat down. Bake it at 375° for 10 minutes (watch carefully) It will be a golden brown color. Remove from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes. After 10 minutes using a spatula or flipper slide it under the granola to loosen it a bit so it does not stick. Let cool on the baking sheet about 30 minutes then break into pieces and store in an airtight container

Sunday, December 5, 2010

This Week's Menu

I completely forgot to post my menus for last week. I had them written out, I just never posted them. Not that it mattered, we had so much going on last week that I think I ended up cooking only one night. Oh, well. I tried

Sunday: Chicken and noodles
Monday: Chili, Cinnamon Rolls
Tuesday: Mooshu Sloppy Joes
Wednesday: Dairy Queen
Thursday: Roast Beef, Carrots, Potatoes
Friday: Barbecue Beef Sandwiches

Snacks: Reindeer Brownies

We will also be cooking in the kitchen getting our Holiday Bake Off entries ready. At least The Girl will as part of her 4-H project. If I have time and energy, I will as well. She has her candy and cookie recipes picked out, but I haven't found what I want to try this year. I'm guessing I will be able to find something.