Lasagna Soup

This is one of the absolute best things I make! It isn't very soupy, it is very good leftover and when you add a nice salad and some crusty bread....yum! Speaking of crusty bread, have you tried the new Simply bread by Pillsbury? So good!!
The Ingredients--quantities are for a single recipe, pictures show a doubled recipe.

1 lb ground beef (or ground turkey or ground venison)
1/4 tsp garlic powder (I use minced garlic instead of powder)
2 cans Swanson Seasoned Beef Broth with Onion (I can never find the beef broth with onions so I use beef bouillon cubes and add about half a large onion, diced, in with the meat. I have also used one can of regular beef broth and one can of French Onion Soup. I have also used beef broth I saved from a Shredded Beef Au Jus)
1 can diced tomatoes
1/4 tsp Italian Seasoning (I use Cavender’s Greek Seasoning instead of Italian seasoning and I don't measure it, I just sprinkle it in until I think there's enough)
1 1/2 cups uncooked corkscrew or elbow macaroni
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
Yikes! That picture didn't show the best part:

Cook beef with garlic and onion in skillet until browned.

Pour off fat.  Add broth, tomatoes, and Italian/Greek seasoning.

Heat to a boil. Stir in pasta.

Cook over medium heat 10 minutes or until pasta is done. Stir in cheese.

Serve with additional cheese, if desired. Who am I kidding? Of course it's desired!!
Pattie liked hers so much she couldn't make herself leave the table, even when she couldn't keep her eyes open any longer.....


Flatbread Tacos

Every week when I plan out the menu I ask the guys if there is anything specific they are hungry for. I can almost guarantee that the first one to answer will say, "TACOS!!" For this reason we have several different taco varieties in our rotation. We have regular tacos, soft tacos, chicken tacos, deer meat tacos, double decker tacos and now we have this new recipe, Flatbread Tacos. What you need is a can of large biscuits such as these:
And it always helps to have someone supervise you while you work:

So anyway, you take the biscuits out of the tube and lay one between two sheets of wax paper like so:

Then you roll it out until it is about 6 inches across:

Lay the biscuit round on a griddle or small skillet (no oil needed) over medium heat and cook for 30-60 seconds on each side until golden brown:

Then you pile on all the taco toppings you love and chow down. It was very easy and really good. A nice change from plain tortillas. It was a lot like a gordita actually.

Menu 3/26 - 4/1--2010

We are having an "Eat Cheap Week" here in Chaosville. Here's what on the menu for this week:

Friday--Frozen pizzas in the living room for Family Night!!
Saturday--Grilled Cheese and soup
Monday--Chicken Alfredo
Thursday--Hot Dogs (Raley's music program is this night and we need fast and easy)


A Side of Deliciousness

Looking for a nice little addition to your steak/meatloaf/almost-any-other-thing-you-may-be-making-for- dinner? Try some sauteed onions. They are easy and oh-so-good! First melt some butter in a skillet. Yes, you can use olive oil or any other kind of oil you like to saute in but I prefer butter!

Slice up an onion or two depending on how many people will be eating. I use sweet onions, but you can use white onions or even red onions.
Just before you put the onions in the melted butter, add a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce. You could also use Liquid Smoke or even soy sauce. Tailor it to your dish and your own taste. If you aren't using sweet onions but you want a sweet taste, add a teaspoon or two of sugar. Then throw your onions in.

Keep an eye on the pan and don't let it get too hot but you want the onions to cook. Stir them every couple minutes until they start to look like this:

From this point you can turn the heat down and let them sweat in the skillet until your meat dish is ready. Just before you serve your meat dish, throw a pile of these tender, sweet onions on top and you are guaranteed rave reviews!!


Pampered Chef Mexican Chicken Lasagna

Here are all the ingredients you will need for this lovely, delicious dish.
1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese
¼ cup lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
2 cups (8 oz) shredded Monterey jack cheese, divided
1 can (28 oz) enchilada sauce
12 (6”) corn tortillas
3 cups diced or shredded cooked chicken (I have also used canned chicken, about 3 large cans)
2/3 cup chopped onion
Additional chopped fresh cilantro leaves (optional)
But the one thing you MUST have is this little beauty: The Pampered Chef's Deep Covered Baker (well, not really. See the update at the end for the regular oven version) 
Into the baker you will place *frozen* boneless skinless chicken breasts (I use about 4 depending on their size) and the diced onion. The actual recipe does not call for the onions to be cooked with the chicken (but then again the actual recipe just says cooked chicken and doesn't say anything about how to cook it. I guess you could even use a rotisserie chicken if you wanted to) but I prefer it this way. Otherwise the onions are still crunchy and my kids pick them out which infuriates me. I also think they taste better cooked. Then you sprinkle some taco seasoning/chili seasoning/chili powder/whatevs to spice it Mexican style. I use the Pampered Chef Chipotle Rub. It will look like this next: 
Put the lid on the baker and stick the whole thing in your microwave (you heard me!!) for 15 minutes. While that is working it's magic, shred yourself a whole mess of monterey jack cheese and chop up your fresh cilantro like so:
Mix 1 1/2 cups of the shredded cheese with the cilantro and softened cream cheese.
When the microwave is done, the chicken and onions will be swimming in juices, so moist it will make you want to cry and it will smell so good you may want to stop there and just eat the chicken and onions by themselves. RESTRAIN YOURSELF!! It will all be worth it in the end, I promise! Pour all the juicy chicken and onions into a bowl (actually, though it pains me to do it, you really don't need the juices so you can drain them in a colander. All you need are the chicken and onions.)
You don't need to clean the baker for the next part. Pour some enchilada sauce in the bottom of the baker and the rest of it in a shallow bowl. Dip four tortillas into the enchilada sauce

and layer them in the baker. On top of this, spread (it's really hard to do but it doesn't have to be perfect either) half the cheese mixture and put about a cup's worth of the chicken and onions on top of that.
Repeat the layers two more times. Your top layer won't have the cheese blend, only monterey jack (I use a lot more than the recipe calls for because I love cheese.)
Lid back on and back into the microwave she goes for another 15 minutes. I have no picture of the finished product because the frenzied clamoring to eat it overwhelmed me. If you are a stickler for the "real" recipe, here it is:

Mexican Chicken Lasagna

1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese
¼ cup lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
2 cups (8 oz) shredded Monterey jack cheese, divided
1 can (28 oz) enchilada sauce
12 (6”) corn tortillas
3 cups diced or shredded cooked chicken
2/3 cup chopped onion
Additional chopped fresh cilantro leaves (optional)

1 - Place cream cheese in Classic Batter Bowl. Microwave on HIGH 30-45 seconds or until very soft. Add cilantro and 1 ½ cups of the Monterey jack cheese; mix well. Spread 2/3 cup of the enchilada sauce over bottom of Deep Covered Baker. Pour remaining enchilada sauce into large bowl; set aside.
2 - To assemble lasagna, dip four tortillas into enchilada sauce in large bowl and arrange over sauce in baker using Sauté Tongs, overlapping as necessary. Scoop half of the cream cheese mixture over tortillas using Small Scoop; spread evenly. Top with 1 cup of the chicken and one-third of the onion. Repeat layers one time. Dip remaining four tortillas into sauce and arrange over second layer. Top with remaining chicken and onion. Pour remaining enchilada sauce over lasagna and sprinkle with remaining ½ cup Monterey jack cheese.
3 - Microwave, covered on HIGH 12-15 minutes or until center is hot. Let stand 10 minutes. Sprinkle with additional chopped cilantro.

Last night we had company over and I needed to make a little more than the usual recipe amount. I used a 9 x 13 dish and incresed all the ingredients by half and used a rotisserie chicken which I shredded. Each tortilla layer had 6 overlapping tortillas instead of 4. I baked it in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes until the sauce was bubbly and the cheese was melted. Perfect!


Menu 3/19 - 3/25--2010

I am trying 3 new recipes this week! I will let you know as always how we liked them and if they are super good, I will post them for you too.
Friday--Deer Steaks (that we never had last week)
Saturday--Pioneer Woman's Chicken Spaghetti (my first PW dish to make)
Sunday--Oven Fried Tilapia
Monday--Mexican Chicken Lasagna
Tuesday--Shredded Beef sandwiches
Thursday--Flatbread Tacos


Vacation eats

Well, we are back from our Spring Break in Houston/Crosby and we have all gained a pound or two after being fed all sorts of wonderful things. Our first stop was Nana and Papa's house. They are both PHENOMENAL cooks and they made us some of their yummiest. We had pot roast, homemade chicken fried steak, and chicken spaghetti with them as well as homemade waffles for breakfast one morning. We also ate dinner at Jayme's brother's house. Erika (my bestie SIL) made us vegetarian enchiladas that were very, very, very good. Raley said, "Mommy, you should ask Aunt Erika for the recipe so you can make them at home." To which I replied, "Well, I watched her make them and I just don't think I want to work that hard!"
At my folks' house we had roast pork, tacos and shredded pork sandwiches (made from the leftover roast... heavenly!). We ate out one night at Baytown Seafood and I had coconut shrimp and fried scallops. Makes me drool just thinking about it. We also managed a lunch at China Ko which is the best place for Chinese food I have ever been to (and I have tried a lot of Chinese places).
We spent an afternoon at Mimi's house and Jayme's brother Jef made his famous ribs. We went out to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and ate some vendor food. I had my favorite brisket sandwich from Goode Company BBQ. Raley and Jayme had tamales and Clay had chicken strips. We also tracked down some chicken fried bacon but it was kind of a let down. Way too salty for me and no gravy!
If food is love then we feel very loved by all the special times we had sharing wonderful meals with our families on our trip. I am getting back into my swing of things. It's hard to come home from vacation and start thinking about feeding my crew again...that's why this week's menu is a little sad. I am going to try better next week, I promise. Until then!


Menu 3/15 - 3/18--2010

So we ended up staying an extra day with my parents in Houston and we had whatever-you-can-find-in-the-empty-cupboards last night. Here is the rest of our menu for the week though:

Monday--Jayme has a meeting so the kids and I will probably eat noodles
Tuesday--Meatloaf and mashed potatoes
Wednesday--Chicken Alphabet Soup with Irish Soda Bread (in honor of St Patrick's Day)
Thursday--Deer Steaks and ???


Breakfast Casseroles

Y'all must have been good because today you get a two-for-one post!! Actually I am just out of town so I pre-wrote a few things to post while I am away. These have proven popular when I posted them on Facebook so I though I would put them on here too. Don't let the fact that they are breakfast casseroles prevent you from making them for dinner sometime!!

Crescent Roll Casserole

1 pound sausage
2 cans crescent rolls (I use the Recipe Creations ones)
Grated cheese-any kind, as much as you like
3 eggs
3/4 cup milk

1. Brown sausage, drain fat and cool slightly.
2. In a 13 x 9 dish, lay out crescent rolls flat on the bottom. Add the sausage and sprinkle with grated cheese.

3. Mix together egg and milk and pour over cheese.

4. Roll other can of crescents on top.

Bake at 350 until top is browned and eggs are set. ( I usually check it at about 15 minutes, then every 5 or so afterwards.)
This one can be cooked the night before, then warmed up in the morning according to my cousin who gave me the recipe. I have never done that myself though.

Hashbrown Breakfast Casserole

6 eggs
1 cup milk
6 oz shredded cheese
1 lb bacon or sausage ( I use 1/2 pound of each), cooked
frozen hashbrown patties

1. Spray an 8 x 8 pan with cooking spray. Line the bottom with frozen hashbrown patties.
2. Sprinkle meat on top.
3. Mix eggs and milk and pour over meat layer.
4. Top with cheese (optional--I leave the cheese off and just put it on when serving)
5. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until eggs are set.

If you double this it makes a 13 x 9 size casserole. I also cook the meat the day before or the night before, otherwise it takes FOREVER to cook this breakfast. In fact the whole thing can be assembled the night before and put in the fridge. In the morning you take it out and let it come to room temp a bit then just cook it a little longer.


Surprise Cookies

These absolutely delicious cookies are a huge hit with just about everyone. I usually make them for gift baskets at Christmas but they are wonderful any time of year. The original recipe I used was called "Santa's Snickers Brand Surprises" but I found you can use just about any bite size chocolate in them. My personal favorite is Dove Dark Chocolate Promises so I stick to those for the most part. Here's what you start with:

2 sticks butter, softened
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3 1/2 cups flour, sifted
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 pkg chocolate bite size candies (Dove Promises, Snickers, Milky Way, whatever you like)

1. Combine the butter, peanut butter and sugars using a mixer on a medium to low setting until light and fluffy.
2. Slowly add eggs and vanilla until thoroughly combined. Then mix in flour, salt, and baking soda.
3. Cover and chill dough for 2-3 hours.
4. Unwrap candies.
5. Remove dough from refrigerator. Divide into 1 Tbsp pieces and flatten.
6. Place a candy in the center of each piece of dough.
7. Form the dough into a ball around the candy.
8. Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 300 degrees for 10-12 minutes.
9. Let cookies cool on a baking rack or wax paper. (Holiday hint: Spruce up these cookies by rolling in powdered sugar and/or drizzling with melted chocolate)
Makes about 2 dozen cookies that look like this:

They are ridiculously good! A baking tip I used for the first time last Christmas was lining all my cookie sheets with parchment paper. Then you simply slide the whole sheet off to the baking rack for the cookies to cool and slap a new one on for the next batch of cookies. No mess, very little fuss!


Menu 3/5 - 3/13--2010

We are heading out of town for Spring Break (even though it isn't Spring yet) so our menu will be whatever we eat at whoever's house! When we get home I will write a post about some of the yummy foods we had on our trip and I promise some good menu posts to come!


Pumpkin Cookies

This is part of a post I had hoped to post on my family blog back around Christmastime but we had some setbacks with our daughter being in the hospital and blogging took a back seat! Anyhoo, it's always cookie season as far as I am concerned so here you go: some highly delicious cookies that are favorites in Chaosville.

Pumpkin Cookies by Mommy Daisy
I found these on one of the blogs I read and have made them several times. Here is how it looks before you start:

1 cup sugar
1 cup pumpkin
½ cup shortening
1 Tbs. grated orange peel (optional)
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. salt
½ cup nuts (opt) &/or ½ cup milk chocolate chips or ½ cup raisins (I always use Milk Chocolate chips & sometimes nuts)

Mix in order & bake at 375 8-10 minutes. Glaze. Yep, it really is that simple

¼ cup butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1-2 Tbs. milk
Melt butter till brown. Add other ingredients. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.
"Now that is my mom's recipe. Here's what I do differently. #1 I always double the recipe. Then it uses the whole can of pumpkin instead of half (a small can). #2 And I like it better with 1/2 cup of extra flour. My mom's tend to stay rounder, but mine flatten out a bit so they're more like cookies. #3 Forget the nuts and raisins, go with my mom's suggestion and always use milk chocolate chips. Yum! #4 Also don't bother with the orange zest, unless you already have some on hand. #5 These are still good without the glaze, but the glaze makes them lots better. #6 Also my mom always puts the sprinkles on top, and they are lots better with those too." (Mommy Daisy's note from her post)
I have never made the glaze for them and I have always used the milk chocolate chips and no nuts or raisins ( I LOATHE raisins). The pumpkin makes them moist and almost cakelike. The kids inhale them and because they are made of pumpkin they aren't too terribly bad for you! Also since they are made from pumpkin they are great cookies for the holidays. When they are done they look like this:


Chicken Ranch Tacos

One of our meals from last week was Chicken Ranch Tacos. This was a new recipe for us but since starting this blog I am trying more new stuff. So much so that Raley asked me the other day, "So, Mommy, how come you're so interested in cooking all of a sudden?" After suppressing the urge to smack his bottom laughing for a minute, I said, "I have always been interested in cooking sweetie...have you seen all my cookbooks??" The little smart ass darling has a point though. I have had all these cookbooks for a long time but I tend to stick with our favorite stuff. Starting this blog has helped me branch out some. I still try to stick with things I am pretty sure will go over well here in Chaosville, but once in a while I will throw something new at them and keep the PB&J at the ready.
I changed a few things about this recipe to make it more friendly for our house. What follows is the recipe I made. You can see the original recipe by clicking the link in the first sentence.

Chicken Ranch Tacos (Chaos friendly)

1 pkg flour tortillas
Boneless skinless thigh strips
1 pkg Taco Seasoning mix
Ranch dressing
Shredded lettuce
Shredded cheese
Chopped tomatoes
Picante sauce
Sour cream

1. Cut thigh strips into bite size pieces and cook in skillet until done. Add seasoning packet and however much water the packet calls for. Cook for another minute or two to reduce the sauce.
2. Heat tortillas in microwave and assemble toppings.
3.Put about 2 heaping tablespoons of chicken on a tortilla and top with your choice of veggies/cheese. Top it off with Ranch dressing.

I used the Ranch as a topping instead of putting it in the sauce because Jayme  is crazy and doesn't like Ranch. I also cooked the chicken I had on hand instead of buying a rotisserie chicken because...well, I had it on hand so it didn't cost me anything extra! After dinner Jayme came over to me and said, "Whatever you did tonight, next time I want you to fix twice as much and invite someone over because that should be shared!" In Jayme-speak that was high praise meaning not only did he like it, he liked it enough to put it on our "company" list.