Menu 4/30 - 5/6--2010

Friday--Grabbing something along the way out of town
Staurday--Hamburgers (we will be camping)
Sunday--Whatever we scrounge at home when we get there
Monday--Chicken Alfredo
Tuesday--Pork and Rice
Wednesday--Chicken Enchiladas (Happy Cinco De Mayo)
Thursday--Sloppy Joe Casserole


Raley Goulash

Here's another dish my father-in-law taught me to make. I have no idea what he calls it. We used to call it "That stuff Papa makes" until we named it Raley Goulash (Raley being his name). I'm not sure if it is actually a goulash or not. Goulash is defined as "A stew of beef or veal and vegetables, seasoned mainly with paprika. A mixture of many different elements; a hodgepodge". I don't use paprika in it but it most definitely a hodge-podge. It's an involved process, but not really difficult to make and it freezes well which is good because it makes a lot and my kids don't like it. They tried again last night, but they are turned off by the veggies in it.
The Ingredients:

2 large potatoes
1 pound ground meat (I am using turkey)
1 can corn
1 can green beans
1 can diced tomatoes
2 small or 1 large box macaroni & cheese dinner

I like to cook the potatoes first. Peel and then dice the potatoes into bite size pieces. Add enough water to cover and bring to a boil. When it boils, reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook for 20-25 minutes. Test for doneness by piercing with a fork. Drain potatoes.
Next I brown the meat while I cook the macaroni & cheese. Once the meat is browned and drained, add the potatoes and tomatoes (do not drain the tomatoes). Drain the green beans and corn and add them as well.

Once the mac & cheese is done (you simply prepare it per the instructions on the box) add it to the mix and heat through. This is very good with Tabasco sauce (I am told) and stands as a meal by itself. As I mentioned, it freezes well and my husband likes to take frozen servings when he goes camping.


Menu 4/23 - 4/29--2010

I'm in a little bit of a slump this week and having trouble with my menu so this may not be what actually gets eaten around here. Hopefully next week will bring a flood of ideas and with them some great new recipe posts! Until then:

Friday--Chicken Quesadillas (family night while we eat in the living room and watch Avatar)
Saturday--Raley Goulash (I may post this one, it's a family recipe; not sure it's actually a goulash)
Sunday--Birthday Party
Monday--Chicken and parmesan pasta
Wednesday--Some type of deer meat, not sure yet
Thursday--not a clue, maybe someone will take pity on me and take me out!!


Raley Gravy

My husband has a wonderful step-dad. Papa has been around since Jayme was very little and he and Jayme's mom were married when Jayme was 6 (I am pretty sure). Before we were even engaged Jayme had said that someday he wanted to name a child after him. When we were expecting our first baby, we decided to name him or her Raley in honor of Papa (it's his last name and as the last male in his family, the name goes with him). When we found out we were having a boy we tacked on the middle name of Michael (after my dad) and the rest is history.
Papa is fantabulous cook!! His specialty is ribeye steak but I have never eaten anything he cooks that I would change one bit. Perfection on a plate no matter what. One of the first things I ever ate at their house that I wanted to know how to make was this breakfast gravy. He finally showed me how to make it and I have been making it ever since when I want to slip into a food coma and dream happy dreams. In honor of the man who taught me to make it, I call it "Raley Gravy"

The Bisquick is for the biscuits, but the rest is for the gravy.
Sausage (you can also use cubed ham* but I have never done that)
hard boiled eggs (I use about 6)
flour (I use Kentucky Kernel)

I like to make Bisquick bicuits for this dish but Papa prefers toast. Either way, it's good, just depends on what you prefer.
Combine 2 1/4 cups Bisquick with 2/3 cup of milk and mix together.

You can make pretty bicuits but I like to just plop a spoonful down on the sheet (note the parchment paper, you won't be sorry!).

 Bake for 8-10 minutes or until they look like this:

Now for the gravy! Brown your sausage in a skillet. DO NOT DRAIN!!!! After it's browned, start adding flour, a little at a time and mixing. This is one of the few recipes I make where I don't measure. It makes me nervous because I am freaky like that but you can't really mess up with gravy, so it's okay. When all the meat has a nice flour coat and you can't see any grease** left in the pan, you are ready for the milk.

Just like the flour, you add the milk slowly, a little at a time. Stir until it starts to thicken, then add more. When there is enough liquid to call this "gravy" stop adding milk and let it simmer a minute or two. Gravy thickness is a personal preference thing, you be the judge.

Add in your chopped up boiled eggs. If it's too thick, add a little more milk. If it's too thin, turn up the heat a little and let it cook down some. If you use plain flour, now is a good time to season with salt, pepper, or whatever you like to use. Then go get your plates!!

Split your biscuit and pour on some gravy. This was the first time the boys tried this dish and they INHALED it. Made me very happy, and if you try it and like it I'll be happy too :)

I am writing this post a little later than I wanted to as this is an eggcellent excellent Easter morning dish to use up some of the Bunny's colored eggs. It takes a little while to make so it's good for a later breakfast or brunch and can feed quite a crowd which makes it good for company. It is obviously not a heathy thing to eat, but we don't have it often. It's good Southern comfort food though which is good for the soul and I like to eat it every once in a while to remind me where I come from.
*Like I said, I have never made this with ham but you can. You would start your gravy with either some bacon/sausage grease you saved for this purpose or you could use butter. When using butter, you can measure and for each Tablespoon of butter you will use 1 Tablespoon of flour and 1/2 cup of milk. Add your ham cubes with you eggs and adjust from there.
**If you are using a sausage that seems to have quite a bit of grease, you may want to drain some off. I use Jimmy Dean and there isn't really a lot of grease in the pan when it is done cooking.


Another Must Have

When Jayme and I first got married (almost 13 years ago) we were still in college and so we had NO money. Our school was about an hour from my parents and we saw them every other weekend or so. My mom had a lot of chickens back then and she had more eggs than they could possibly eat so every time we saw them, my parents gave us a flat of 5 dozen eggs. We ate a lot of eggs! We ate them fried or scrambled or in another recipe but mostly, we ate them boiled. We had gotten an egg cooker for a wedding gift and it was the greatest thing ever. We used that one until it died and have had several more in the years since, using each one until it no longer worked then hurriedly looking for another. Our most recent one is an Oster and it's still humming right along. You can poach/scramble up to 4 or boil up to 7 eggs at a time in it. It's very easy to use and clean, here's how it works:

Set up your cooker in a spot where escaping steam won't harm any other surface (trust me on this one...long story!).

Remove the poaching tray.

Fill the reservoir to the appropriate line with water. Filtered water is best for the life of your cooker. (You don't have to use a Snow White cup)

Put the boiling tray back in and place eggs in. Pierce the bottom of each egg with the small pin in the center of the tray, then place egg (bottom side down) in one of the openings.

Put on the lid and press the on button. This cooker takes about 10 minutes to cook. It doesn't have a buzzer but if you are nearby you can hear a loud click when it's done.

If possible, after the cooker finishes, place the eggs in a bowl (I use the lid of the cooker) and run them under cold water to stop the cooking process. This helps them peel easier, without portions of the egg sticking to the shell. Then you have boiled eggs to use for salads, snacks, or other recipes. Come back later this week for a breakfast dish using these eggs!

Have you been over to my family blog lately? Come and see what Chaosville is up to!


Menu 4/16 - 4/22--2010

We are going camping this weekend!!!

Friday--Rotisserie chicken and pasta salad
Saturday--Hot Dogs and chips
Sunday--Whatever we stop for on the way home
Monday--Chicken Ranch Tacos
Tuesday--Italian Crescent Casserole
Wednesday--Homemade Pizza
Thursday--Breakfast (probably one of these casseroles)


Kitchen Must-Haves

A while back on my regular blog I did a post about "new" things I had tried and had become must-haves for me. Since starting this blog I have tried to keep a list of the things I I don't like to run out of so I could post something similar here. Today is the day!! I'm sure I'll think of a million things after I click on Publish Post, but I can always do another one another day. For now I want to introduce you to these lovelies (if you haven't met them already):

Kentucky Kernel Seasoned Flour
You may be lucky enough to find this in your local grocery store but not in this size. My mom buys it at her local HEB store in the Houston area. If you can't find it in your store you can buy it online. I think the price is very good for what you get. I use this in place of regular flour or breadcrumbs when I am baking or frying meat and when I make gravy. You could also use it on fried veggies. Hodgson Mill also carries a full line of gluten-free and whole wheat flour, baking mixes and pastas.

Fresh Express 50/50 Mix Bagged Salad
I usually buy a bag of baby spinach and mix it in with either a bag of spring mix or some red leaf or green leaf lettuce. This makes it easy! The spring mix and the spinach are mixed together for me. Since we really enjoy fresh spinach salads, I will still buy a bag of baby spinach to add in as this mix gets eaten.

Rubbermaid Produce Keepers
The main problem I used to have with bagged salads is that if I bought enough to last us through the week, they would go bad before we could finished them. Problem solved by these beauties! They come in various sizes and so far we haven't had to throw out anything, so they are actually paying for themselves.

Del Monte Citrus Salad
This one was in the other post but it bears repeating. This stuff is like crack! I have to force myself to save the rest for another day. I have also found a great use for the glass bottles once the salad is gone. I have two of them in my freezer right now, filled with a lovely beef broth from a meal I made in my crockpot.

Tony Chachere's Creole seasoning
Available at almost any grocery store I have ever been to and it comes in both a smaller size and a hotter variety called "More Spice" if you like it hot. We have a set of salt shakers that we fill with this to stay out on the table at meal times. To keep the regular and more spice version seperate we put a rooster sticker on the more spice and a hen on the regular. I love to hear the kids ask for the "Chicken Spicy."
Cavender's Greek Seasoning
Available only in Arkansas I believe (we got it in a gift basket from Little Rock) but you can order it in the mail by visiting the website and printing off the order form.
Pampered Chef Chipotle Rub
Avaiable from any Pampered Chef consultant. Don't have one? You can borrow mine, my sister-in-law, Faith Sims.

Parchment Paper
No picture this time, I am sure you know what it is and what it does. I like to open the roll, and cut it into pieces that will fit my cookie sheets to be ready at a moment's notice. The best part about this discovery was when I was baking at Christmas. I was able to slide one set off the cookie sheet onto the cooling rack, slap another sheet on and go!

So, do you have any kitchen must-haves? If so, leave me a comment about them and I will definitely try them out!!


Oven Fried Chicken

I love this recipe because it is highly versatile. You can use bone in* or boneless pieces of chicken, or you can use breast or thigh strips. It can be paired with anything from potatoes and gravy to pasta (which is the way I did it this time). I also use this recipe for homemade chicken nuggets. Here's how I made it:

5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 stick of unsalted butter
Kentucky Kernel Seasoned Flour (you can make your own seasoned flour by combining 1/2 cup flour with 1 teaspoon paprika, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper)

Heat the oven to 425 degrees. While it is heating up, put 1/2 stick butter in a 9 x 13 dish inside the oven until the butter melts. Once the butter is melted, remove the 9 x 13 dish from the oven. Put some breading of your choice (breadcrumbs, flour, cruched cornflakes, panko crumbs, etc...) in a shallow bowl and place meat in dish to dredge.

Make sure both sides are well coated and place in melted butter. Turn meat over so butter coats both sides as well. When all the pieces are in the pan, place back into (by now) preheated oven for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, take them out of the oven and turn each piece over. Then return to oven for 10-15 more minutes or until pieces are cooked through.

Like I said, I use this as a cheap, fast and easy Country Chicken Parmigiana. Just add some spaghetti, parmesan and mozzarella cheeses.

It's even kid approved!!

*This can be made with bone in pieces of chicken as well. For bone in pieces, cook for 30 minutes, then turn and cook 30 more minutes or until done. If using chicken strips, decrease butter to 2 tablespoons.
You can also make a lighter version by omitting the melted butter in the pan and using a nonstick spray instead. After the initital cook time, turn pieces over and drizzle with 2 tablespoons melted butter before returning to oven.


Menu 4/9 - 4/15--2010

Only one meal from last week's menu did not get cooked and eaten. It wasn't due to me being lazy or "not feeling like cooking" but rather a friend of ours came over that night and brought us dinner. Thanks Murad!! So that one meal gets recycled and the rest of the week gets planned. Here's what we're having:

Friday--Oven Fried Chicken Strips with spaghetti and salad
Saturday--Grilled Cheese sandwiches with soup (check out Tasty Kitchen's grilled cheese post this week)
Sunday--Tuna Alfredo (yes, it's Tuna Helper, but it's also VERY GOOD!) with salad
Monday--Deer Tenders with rice and salad
Wednesday--Chicken Ranch Tacos
Thursday--Italian Crescent Casserole


Burrito (Chimichurri) Casserole

Burrito (Chimichurri) Casserole

I originally made this recipe using a test-market product from Lawry's seasonings. They called it Chimichurri Casserole. It was incredibley delicious. Since I wasn't sure if they would ever produce the mix, I recreated it using burrito seasoning. Well, good news!! You can now buy Lawry's Chimichurri Casserole seasoning at your local grocery store. I feel confident that anyone can get it because I can and I live in a tiny little town. Run out and buy some today. If you liked the Burrito Casserole version, you are going to LOVE the Chimichurri!!
The Ingredients

1 pkg burrito/chimichurri seasoning
1 1/2 cups water
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 lb ground beef (I have used ground turkey and ground venison with great results)
1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
8 flour tortillas *sometimes you need a couple more, it just depends on how full you stuff them :)
1 cup shredded cheese * I always use more than this

1.) Mix water, seasoning pack and tomato sauce until blended.

2.) Brown meat and drain the fat. Stir in 1 cup of the sauce and the black beans. ** Before I add the black beans I fill one tortilla with the meat mixture for Clay who doesn't like the beans. Raley, while usually a bean hater, doesn't mind black beans as they have a creamier texture.

3.) Heat the tortillas according to the package directions. Spoon 1/2 cup of the meat mixture into each tortilla.

 Fold over the sides and place seam side down in greased 13 x 9 baking dish. Spoon remaining sauce over burritos and sprinkle with the cheese
4.) Bake in a preheated 350* oven for 15 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted.

Our family gets 2 meals out of this dish, or 1 meal and a couple lunches for myself and Jayme.


Menu 4/2 - 4/8--2010

Our weekend plans got changed around some due to the weather. We will be having our "Easter meal" on Saturday instead of Sunday to compensate. Happy Easter to all!!!!!

Friday--Fried Tilapia and Catfish with fries, hushpuppies and coleslaw
Saturday--Rib Eye Steaks, potatoes, beans and pasta salad
Sunday---Not sure as we will be returning from a day trip to the land
Monday--Burrito Casserole
Wednesday--Oven Fried Chicken Strips with pasta and salad
Thursday--Corn Dogs and chips (in honor of Clay's musical program that night)