Sunday, April 7, 2013

Meatballs And Mashed Potatoes

Meal #6: Meatballs And Mashed Potatoes

2 cups water
1 container (8 oz.) au jus concentrate
3 Tbls cornstarch
24 frozen cooked meatballs (about 1 1/2 inches in diameter)
1 small onion, sliced and separated into rings
1 small green bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch strips
2 cups hot mashed potatoes

1.  Mix water, au jus concentrate and cornstarch in 3-quart saucepan.  Stir in meatballs, onion and bell pepper.  Heat to boiling.
2.  Reduce heat to medium.  Cover and cook about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender.
3.  Serve meatballs over mashed potatoes.

My Review

I've made this recipe before, but I thought it was time to make it again and give it a review.  I love this recipe and not only is it delicious, but it's super easy.  I haven't been able to find a container of au jus concentrate the last few times I've made this meal, but the au jus gravy mix works just as well!!  Love it!

        5 Stars 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Sweet Pulled Pork

Meal #5: Sweet Pulled Pork

3-5 lb. Sirloin or Boneless Pork Loin Roast
1 cup Salsa, any kind
1 cup Packed Brown Sugar

1. Place ingredients in a greased or coated slow cooker.  Cover and cook on low heat 8-10 hours.  Shred pork with a fork or potato masher before serving.  Use meal in burritos, tacos, or salads.

My Review

This was the easiest meal yet.  Just a matter of combining 3 ingredients and letting the crock pot do the rest.  This was totally my kind of meal; simple and yummy!  We ate ours in tacos with some green bell peppers, shredded cheese, and the delicious sour cream.  I'll definitely make this meal again, and it's going to be a keeper for the rest of my days on this earth.  My only recommendation would be to serve this recipe with bigger parties.  With just my parents and me eating this, we had left-overs for weeks and eventually ended up throwing the rest away.  It's amazing how much a 3 lb. pork roast can feed.  

4 1/2 Stars

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Sloppy Joe Rotini

Meal #4: Sloppy Joe Rotini

1 lb. ground beef
2 cups uncooked rotini pasta (6 oz.)
2 cups frozen whole kernel corn
1 cup water
1 small zucchini, sliced (1 cup)
1 jar (15 1/2 oz.) extra-thick-and-chunky sloppy joe sauce

1. Cook beef in 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until brown; drain.  Stir in remaining ingredients.
2. Heat to boiling; reduce heat to medium.  Cover and simmer about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until pasta is tender.

My Review

This was an easy meal to make with few ingredients and even fewer steps.  However, I wasn't particularly fond of how the meal turned out.  My biggest complaint is that it was so dry.  I don't know if the recipe needs more water or more sauce, but it was too dry for my taste.  I was making this meal to feed the missionaries and they arrived about 15-20 late, so I'm wondering if the dryness is because it was "simmering" longer than expected.  Regardless, it wasn't my favorite and I'm not sure if I'll try it again.  I'm torn because it wasn't gross, but it wasn't delicious either.  It just needs more sauce, I think, and eat promtly.  

3 Stars

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

In Remembrance

2 weeks ago today we made the decision to put our baby, Foof, to sleep.  It's been a rough and pretty emotional few weeks for me, but I finally feel well enough to post about her passing.  I miss her terribly but I know she is in a better place and that she is no longer feeling pain.  We don't know for sure what was ailing Foof, but the vet was almost positive that she had cancer in her ear.  Sometime either late summer or early fall 2012, the inside of Foof's left ear started to smell really bad.  We also noticed that the inside of that ear had several black scab looking stuff.  My mom literally refused to take Foof to the vet to find out what was causing the smell and scabs.  About once a month Foof would be more antisocial than usual, and she'd scratch at her ear mercilessly.  We just figured that she was experiencing some sort of ear infection.  She would snap out of her indisposition and act her normal loving self after a few days.  Every time she got sick, my mom would tell me that Foof was just getting old, after all she was almost 13 years old.  
I took some vacation time in mid January, and sadly near the end of my vacation she started to decline.  A few days before I went back to work, Foof really started to act funny.  She couldn't seem to sit still anymore.  It appeared that something was scaring her and we didn't know what.  She stopped eating and drinking COMPLETELY, which resulted in no messes to clean in the liter boxes.  Normally Foof would sleep on my bed with me all night, but one day she kept leaving my room and she couldn't seem to get comfortable. Eventually see started hiding under the couch, which she had NEVER EVER done before.  Nothing brought her comfort anymore, not even her most favorite thing in the whole wide world.....ME!!  We were all extremely worried about her and she slowing became a bag of bones.  After a week had gone by and she hadn't consumed any food or drink, we took her to the vet.  After spending over $300 in tests at the vet, they couldn't find anything wrong with her.  The vet told us that the smell was dead tissue in her ear, but we had no cause of it after several tests.  The doctor told us that cats have really good immune systems and they usually can fight illnesses alone and bounce right back, which is what Foof was doing all along.  He also said that cats are bad at letting their owners know they are sick until it's too late.  Mom refused to spend more money to find out what was ailing baby Foof, so the vet gave us 2 antibiotics for her ear to see if she improved.  I bought Foof some cat treats and some canned cat food to see if she would eat something other than her dry cat food.  Fortunately she loved both and she started eating and pooping again.  However, she wouldn't leave from under the couch and we ended up putting her food under the couch so she would eat.  The antibiotics helped, but her behavior never improved.  She wasn't my same baby that followed me around the house 24/7.  She wasn't my same baby that wanted to be with me all the time.  Nothing brought her comfort anymore.  Near the end she would let us hold her in our arms for long periods of time, which she NEVER allowed when she was healthy since she hated being held like a baby.  I would sing and hum church hymns when I held her, and I actually believe that my singing brought her comfort.  She would let me hold her longer when I sang to her.  She would even rest her head against my chest and wrap her arm and paw around my stomach.  I like to believe that she loved my singing and that I comforted her, even if it was just a little.  Even though she was eating a little more, she still became very weak and I actually witnessed her fall down the stairs from feebleness.  It broke my heart to see my precious baby so ill and I know that we made the right decision in having her put down.  I miss her everyday, and I cry almost everyday when I realize that she isn't at home anymore.  My mom gave me a stuffed siamese cat 2 days ago, and I hate to admit it, but I sleep with it under my arm every night (I never slept with a stuffed animal even as a kid).  Ridiculous as it may sound, that stuffed animal brings me comfort and I promise that I won't sleep with it forever.  
Today we got a sweet card in the mail from the vet and I was deeply touched by it.  

 I Love You Foof

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Cheesy Double-Bean Chili

Meal #3: Cheesy Double-Bean Chili

2 Tbs. margarine or butter
1 medium onion, sliced
1 large glove garlic, finely chopped
1 can (28 oz.) whole tomatoes, undrained
1 can (15-16 oz.) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15-16 oz.) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (4 oz.) chopped green chilies, drained
2-3 tsp. chipotle chili powder or regular chili powder
1/2 cup shredded Chedder cheese (2 oz.)
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese (4 oz.)

1. Melt margarine in 3-quart saucepan over medium heat.  Cook onion and garlic in margarine, stirring occasionally, until onion is tender.
2. Stir in remaining ingredients except cheeses, breaking up tomatoes.  Heat to boiling; reduce heat to low.  Cover and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Stir in Chedder cheese and 1/2 cup of the Monterey Jack cheese.  Heat over low heat, stirring occasionally, just until cheeses are melted. Sprinkle each serving with remaining Monterey Jack Cheese.

Chipotle chili powder adds a complex, deep, smoky flavor to this chili.  Chipotle chili powder comes from ground chipotle chilies, which are dried, smoked jalapeno chilies.  

My Review

So far this has been the easiest recipe, from this cookbook, that I have triedThis chili was also my mom's favorite meal that I've made so far.  I used the regular chili powder since that was what we had on hand, but I would consider trying the chipotle chili powder just to see what tastes better.  I would also recommend using an actual garlic glove because I think it would really add some nice flavor to the chili.  We didn't have any garlic cloves, so I used dried garlic clump things that didn't work as well as I think a fresh garlic clove would.  I don't like whole tomatoes so I used a can of diced tomatoes and that suited my family best.  Since the Three-Alarm Spaghetti and Pinto Bean Chili was soooo spicy, I only used 1 tsp. of chili powder for this recipe.  However, this chili was a little bland, as far a spice goes, because it didn't have all the spicy ingredients that the Three-Alarm recipe had.  Next time I will put 2 tsp. of chili powder and see how the spicy level is.  I also bought a blend of chedder and monterey jack shredded cheese (to save on cost) and put the whole 1 1/2 cups in the chili so we didn't need to sprinkle any on each serving (but we did b/c we like cheese).  I recommend adding a dollop of Daisy to each serving. ;-p

    4 Stars 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Three-Alarm Spaghetti and Pinto Bean Chili

Meal #2: Three-Alarm Spaghetti and Pinto Bean Chili

1 Tbs vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped (1 cup)
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped (1 cup)
3 cups water
1/2 cup taco sauce
2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cans (10 oz. each) diced tomatoes and green chilies, undrained
4 oz. uncooked spaghetti, broken into thirds (1 1/2 cups)
1 can (15 to 16 oz.) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
Sour cream, if desired
Jalapeno chilies, if desired

  1. Heat oil in 4-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cook onion and bell pepper in oil 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until crisp-tender.
  2. Stir in remaining ingredients except spaghetti and beans.  Heat to boiling; reduce heat to medium-low.  Simmer uncovered 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Stir in spaghetti and beans.  Heat to boiling; reduce heat to medium.  Cook uncovered 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until spaghetti is tender.  Garnish each serving with sour cream and Jalapeno chilies.
This chili recipe is based on the well-known Cincinnati chili, which is traditionally chili served over spaghetti.  To save time and energy, the spaghetti is cooked right along with this spicy chili.
My Review
I loved this chili recipe, however, it was a little too spicy for me.  They weren't lying when they called it "Three-Alarm!"  I went ahead and only put 1 tsp of chili powder and it was still too spicy for my liking.  Next time I'm going to reduce the chili powder even more.  There are several other ingredients that add to the spice.  Furthermore, to help with the spice, I added the sour cream and some shredded cheese to the top and stirred it all in to my serving.  I've never had spaghetti noodles in a chili before, but I actually really liked it.  This was a super easy recipe to make and I will definitely make it again.  I thought it would also taste great with tortilla chips on the side.
I gave it 4 1/2 Stars