Sunday, September 27, 2009

Just In Case We Get Sick

There is no denying that the flu is a very real threat. Not necessarily life threatening, but it would be incapacitating if the adults in our family all caught it at once. That being said, we have done a little preparing in our home. First of all, we bought a $10 box of masks...just in case. I no longer think it's way out there to have them on hand, especially when some of my sons have a hard time remembering to cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze. We also have some huge containers of hand sanitizer and lysol spray. One last thing we have bought is a large amount of 7-up and gingerale. It's for sick tummies, not parties.

We have done one other major thing to prepare. We have filled a full size upright freezer with meals. We now have two freezers and two frige/freezer combos. The other freezer is filled with meats, fruits and vegetables. The inside frige/freezer is filled with regular foodstuffs while the outside frige/freezer combo is filled with eggs, cheeses, extra pancake mixes, chocolates, condiments, syrups and space for more leftovers or premade foods. The freezer of that appliance has fish and more cheese.

So, back to the meals in the freezer. We have bags of gravy, soups and spaghetti sauce. We have 9 X 13 pans of macaroni and cheese, lasagne, goulash, tetrazini, and other pasta dishes. We have loaves of bread, bags of muffins and cupcakes. We also have some convenience foods like pizza rolls and egg rolls. All of it is ready to be thrown in the oven but any of the family age 10 and older (which pretty much includes everyone but Princess Pat).

I am not saying that everyone needs to go on a baking/cooking spree and load up every nook and cranny of freezer space with food, however, I'd like you to think about what you'd do if you and your family all got sick at once. Do you have a network of friends/family that would help? Would you survive by crawling to the kitchen and opening a can of soup? Do you have enough food to last you a week or two if you were too sick to shop? The latest CDC recommendations are to stay home at least a week after the flu fever has abated. That is a long time in quarantine.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Donna's Chocolate Mousse Pie

I the neighborhood that I just left, there was an older woman reknown for her pies. Everyone raved over them. She kindly shared it with me before I moved.

Donna's Chocolate Mousse Pie:

Baked single crust (or store bought graham crust)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 squares of unsweetend chocolate, melted
2 eggs
12 oz Cool Whip
In her words: "The key to this pie is thoroughly mixing each item as it is added. Soften the butter and combine it with the sugar. Mix until the mixture is creamy and all the sugar is thoroughly blended with the butter. Add the melted chocolate and mix completely until the mixture becomes light in color. Add one egg and mix thoroughly. Add the other egg and mix until it becomes very thick and creamy. Turn the mixer to low and slowly add the defrosted Cool Whip. Fill you pie crust and refrigerate immediately."
This is really good with toasted coconut or chocolate curls on top.

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Home Canned Pizza Sauce

My husband's first cousin plants 100 tomato plants each year in her amazing garden. She makes all her own tomato products and more for her married kids and some more for her brothers and sisters. She does marathon sessions using her stove and all of her camp stoves. I cannot imagine the work she does. I had 12 plants last year and was dying! Here is a recipe for pizza sauce that I make that is really, really
tasty. It is adapted from Ponderings From Picket Fence Cottage

Pizza Sauce:
25-28 good sized tomatoes (tennis ball size)
2 large onions, minced pretty fine
3 Tbls olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbls lemon juice
2 tsp black pepper
2 Tbls sugar (amount really depends on how sweet your tomatoes are)
2 tsp dried parsley
1 1/2 Tbls dried oregano
1 Tbls dried basil
1 tsp celery seed
1 Tbls salt
Peel and puree tomatoes (I use my spaghetti pan with the metal insert with the holes in it to dip the tomatoes in boiling water ~ for 30 seconds). In a large deep stockpot, saute the onions and garlic until tender. Add the tomato puree and the rest of the ingredients. Simmer, stirring occasionally this on low for HOURS until it is reduced significantly. Be careful not to leave it too watery or it will make your pizza crust soggy. Ladle into pint jars and process in a boiling bath 25-30 minutes (be sure to see if your altitude demands a longer processing time).

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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Pancake Muffins: The Results (+ menu)

There were so many of you that were interested in the results of my experiments that I got right to it and made these for Monday's breakfast. I made a control batch and then I made some varieties. I am so pleased with the results.

Note: Each of the following recipes make 6 muffins

Control: (Plain) Pancake Sausage Muffins:
2 cups complete pancake mix (the just add water kind)
1 cup water
1/3 cup sausage links, cut into small pieces
Brown sausage, drain and pat with paper towel to remove all excess grease. (I cooked up an entire pound to make all three of these varieties.)Mix water and pancake mix. Fold in sausage. Spoon into a greased muffin tin. Bake 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes.

Maple Blueberry Sausage Pancake Muffins:
2 cups complete pancake mix
1 cup water
3/4 cup blueberries
2 tsp maple syrup per muffin
1/3 lb sausage links, cut into small pieces and cooked
Combine water and pancake mix. Fold in sausage. Fold in blueberries. Fill greased muffin cups halfway. Squirt 2 tsp maple syrup on top of batter. Top with remaining muffin batter. Bake 350 degrees for 15-20 mintues (these are bigger, so they needed a little more time than the control batch)

Chili Cheese Sausage Pancake Muffins
2 cups complete pancake mix
1 cup water
2 Tbls canned chopped green chilies
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/3 lb sausage links, cut into small pieces and cooked
Combine water and pancake mix. Fold in sausage, chilies and cheese. Scoop into 6 greased muffin tins. Bake 350 degrees 15-20 minutes.
Pancake Muffins on Foodista
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Other things on our menu this week are:
Chicken Cacciatore
Monte Cristo Sandwiches
Salmon Patties and Oven Fried Potatoes
Beef Stir Fry over Rice
Pork Chops with Buttered Noodles
English Muffin Pizzas
Baked Oatmeal
Egg Stratta Casserole
as well as peanut butter toast and cold cereal

Have a great week!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Cheerio Squares: a five minute dessert

Today was just one of those days where nothing seemed to go right. The biggest chunk of my day was spent in the car because I had to go to the pharmacy 3 times to get only a partial prescription for The Comedian. Moving has really messed up all of his prescriptions. I had refills from our old doc which was, of course, in another state. His new insurance didn't like that, so I have had to have a nurse over-ride all of those prescriptions with his new doc's name. The people in the pharmacy have bent over backwards for me, but because of the long weekend, things had not gone the way I'd hoped. Needless to say, after only 6 weeks of living here, the pharm tech knows me by sight and doesn't even wait for me to give a name before she whips out a little baggie of meds.

Okay, that was more than I meant to say, but the end result of all of my running around is that dessert was on the fly tonight. I came up with a five minute sweet that the kids loved (though one actually said it was too sweet ~ he'd cut himself a 6" X 3" piece, so don't take his word for it...gluttony will make any treat undesirable!).

Cheerio Squares
1 small pkg jell-o, any flavor (3oz)
2 Tbls butter
1/3 cup corn syrup
4 cups cheerios
Melt the butter, corn syrup and jello in a saucepan on medium heat. Stir until mixture boils. Pour over cheerios and mix well. Press into a greased 9 x 9 pan.By the time dinner is over, these have cooled and set. You could use any color or flavor. I used strawberry.

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Sunday, September 6, 2009

King's Ranch Chicken and Adventures in Letting Kids Cook

I always try to put the recipe first in my titles to help with organization, but let me first tell you about yesterday's baking adventure.

The Musician, who is a freshman in high school, fancies himself a chef extrodinaire. He loves to bake goodies for the family, but hates to clean up anything. That is basically the reason why I don't often let him in the kitchen. I hate cleaning up after him because he uses as many measuring cups and dishes as possible. However, yesterday, I gave him a stick of butter and a Better Homes and Gardens Baking Book and let him go wild. He decided to make snickerdoodles. He also decided to let Princess Pat help.

His patience with her and her zeal for cooking were very cute. She stood on a step stool while he measured ingredients. She got to pour some things in the bowl. It was going really well. He realized at the bottom of the recipe (note to Musician: read the entire recipe before you begin!) that the dough had to refrigerate for an hour before he could bake it, so there was a pause in the baking fun. He went off to the family room to watch a movie with his brothers and Princess Pat came to play with me. After the hour, the Musician called his sister back to the kitchen and of course she went running. I heard them banging pans and scooping dough. After about 15 minutes, he came to find me with a funny look on his face. Apparently, he had rolled the dough in cinnamon and sugar and placed it on the pans, but had been so sucked into his movie, that he left for a few minutes. When he came back 10 cookies were missing and Princess Pat was chewing fast. She has now earned the nickname "the Cookie Dough Kid." The rest of the family shared the 16 remaining cookies after dinner and the Musician learned to pay more attention to his cooking than the television.

On to the chicken recipe. Kings Ranch Chicken can be time consuming or easy depending on the ingredients you use. You can make the cream sauce from scratch using butter and flour or you can use cream soups. I opted for the easy version:

Easy King's Ranch Chicken
1 small bag (10oz) torilla chips, crushed
2 cups cooked chicken, cubed
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can Rotel's tomatoes and chilies
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 small onion, chopped
1 green or red pepper, chopped
2 Tbls butter or olive oil
Cook the onion and green pepper in butter until done. Combine all ingredients except tortilla chipsand cheese in a bowl. Put 1/2 cup of mixture in the bottom of a casserole dish. Pour in 1/3 of the chips, top with 1/2 the chicken mixture and then 2/3 cup of shredded cheese. Repeat, ending with chips and cheese. Bake uncovered 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until bubbly all the way through.

You can substitute light soups and/or corn tortillas for the chips to save on calories or fat.

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