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Posts tagged ‘Food’

2 Pot Roast Recipes. Fast,Easy Delicious!!!

Any meal cooked in a crock pot is my kind of meal. Even better is a recipe where the prep time is just minutes and you literally just throw it all in, close the lid and let it cook. Here are two of my favorite go-to pot roast recipes that really do only take minutes to prepare. The aroma when cooking is to die for and you will love the variety in flavor between the two recipes but both are amazingly sumptuous! You can also toss in some peeled potatoes, carrots or onions if you want or serve with mashed potatoes and steamed veggies. Of course some hot fresh bread or rolls is a must too!

Campbell’s Soup Pot Roast

Brown the roast on all sides and put in the crock pot. In mixing bowl mix cans of soup with the dry soup mix until well blended. Pour over the roast and close the lid to the crock pot. Cook on high for 5 hours or low for 8 hours. The sauce  will be thick enough to use as gravy over the roast and potatoes.

Ranch Dressing Pot Roast:

Brown the roast on all sides and put in the crock pot. In large cup or bowl add all dry mixes with one cup of water and whisk until well blended. Pour over roast and close the lid to the crock pot. Set on high for 5 hours or low for 8 hours. The sauce will be thin so if you desire a thicker gravy pour the sauce into a sauce pan and then take either 2 tbsp of flour or corn starch mixed in 1/2 cup of water and slowly add to the sauce until it thickens.

Do you have a good pot roast recipe to share?

Valentines Day Red Velvet Cake!!!!

Photo Credit: grouprecipes.com

My husband’s family grew up loving Red Velvet Cake which quickly became a favorite of theirs for birthdays or special occasions. I had never tried one until I had married my husband. The recipe is said to be the actual Waldorf Astoria Red Velvet Cake served at their hotel and after trying it you could certainly see why. Although if you search it online as Waldorf Astoria Red Velvet Cake you will find a few variations of the recipe.

I have tried to make cakes from scratch before and they have never turned out as tasty or easy as this one. I have to admit that if I am short on time I have cheated and made a store-bought red velvet cake however I will not cheat on the icing. This icing is to die for! It is not like a traditional cream cheese frosting you will find on many Red Velvet Cakes. This one is almost like whipped cream but is very rich. It also is fairly simple to make as long as you follow the instructions and make sure the flour mixture is completely cooled before preparing the remainder of the icing.

This still is the cake my husband loves for his birthday and of course being red it is perfect for Valentines too. I am never so fancy as to do multiple layers as shown but I have cut the cake in half and put a layer of icing in the center. Although I have never done it before these would make really fun cupcakes for Valentines parties too. If you have never had red velvet cake, or never had this recipe you HAVE to try it! Click HERE for the recipe:

What is your favorite cake or frosting?

Alternate Cooking Methods

Are you prepared to cook food when your power is out? If you do not have a gas stove or an outdoor grill with plenty of propane you could be really in trouble. We were without power during Hurricane Ike for 17 days. Thankfully we did have a gas stove and were able to still cook.  This did however make the  rest of the house which was already hot from no air conditioning even hotter. Having alternate methods for cooking can ensure you are still able to prepare meals when there is no power or usual method of cooking. Listed below are several devices you can make at home with little or no expense. Although there are commercial products that are available these can work just as well and save you the cost of an expensive investment. I would prefer to invest in other emergency supplies and even a generator before buying a solar oven. These are simple enough to make and can make a great activity for a church group or scouting event.

Picture Credit: robnoxious.wordpress.com

1.  Rocket Stove:  This video demonstration shows step by step the cutting and assembly of a cans rocket stove. This is mostly consists of just different sized cans cut to make this stove. You can then use it to cook anything in a pot or pan like you would a regular stove top. The fuel is simple twigs and sticks you could easily find lying around however if it is wet it may be more difficult to get them lit. A suggestion given is to have twigs and small sticks already gathered and store them in a sealed bucket. You could also just purchase a packages of shims at a lumber or home repair store that will work just as well.

Photo Credit: odcooking.pragerfamily.net

2. Box Oven: You basically only need a heavy-duty box that can either has folding side flaps or a lid to close it (you can get a heavy-duty box at any liquor store for free). You will line the inside of the box with heavy-duty aluminum foil.  To secure the foil in all the corners and around the edges you can use a aluminum foil tape found at most hardware stores. This type tape is usually near the insulation section of the stores. Once assembled you can put either rocks or even a piece of tile on the bottom to prevent the coals burning through the bottom. You certainly can put skewers or wire hanger cut into strips to make a rack or another option is what you see with using full size or even half-size soda cans to elevate a metal rack. You can find metal racks like this in the kitchen section of  Wal-Mart, Target or other kitchen supply stores. The main thing is to make sure the rack is raised above the coals. You use regular charcoal briquettes and get them started outside the box. Once they are hot but no longer burning you place them in a pie tin below the rack. Use 1 charcoal briquettes for every 40-50 degrees you need to cook. So for 350 degrees you would need 7-8. Close lid and let it cook. You can even take a cooking thermometer and stick it into an opening to monitor the temperature in the oven.

Photo Credit: thermalcooker.wordpress.com

3.  Wonder Oven or Wonder Box: There are many places to go learn how to make one and they are pretty easy to assemble  Many people will assemble the wonder oven and place it into a rubber tub for ease of storage and transporting. Basically food can be started on the stove-top, oven or even a propane grill or camping stove and then once they reach the temperature they need to cook at you can transfer them to the wonder oven. When sealed off it will then contain the heat and continue to cook it.  It is also good for transporting hot items and keeping them hot.

Photo Credit: williamgbecker.com

4. Home Made Solar Oven: If you cannot afford a manufactured solar oven then this is something to consider if you or your spouse are a little handy. If you do a search on the internet for home-made solar ovens there are a variety you can make from card board boxes all the way to one built with wood.

Photo Credit: energywhiz.com

5.  Pringle’s Can Solar Oven:  Oh Yes. I had to see it for myself and it is really cool. This would be fun to do with the kids but also could come in handy in emergencies. This would mostly be for skewer cooking like hot dogs, or shish-kabob but it would be better than nothing!

What alternate methods for cooking do you have?

What will your Valentine Bring?

Valentines Day costs consumers nearly 16 billion dollars a year. That is almost 1.1 billion boxes of chocolates. Jewelry and dining out average 3.5 billion each in dollars spent and flowers bring in around 1.7 billion. We spend almost a billion dollars on greeting cards alone. The average man will spend around $150 and women around $75 for their significant other. All to show our love for others on this special day.

Remember in elementary school where children exchange Valentines with classmates and how paranoid you were that someone would think you liked them because of what your valentine would say. Inspecting each candy heart to verify what it said before it went into the envelope? Maybe the goal was the opposite and you wanted to profess your love for someone by reserving that special Valentine just for them and maybe giving them a few extra candy hearts too!

I think I am a bit of a strange cookie because I have never been one that was big on a specific day set aside to profess my love for someone or them for me. I think we have that opportunity “every” day and frankly getting flowers, cards or other gestures out of nowhere on a regular day says more to me then a set day on the calendar where you feel the pressured to profess your love. There are some that have expectations on Valentines day. When those expectations are not met they often become angry or hurt because they did not receive what they specifically wanted or feel they deserved. True heart-felt gestures of love should be accepted for what they are, a gesture of love. I think expectations can put pressure and stress on your significant other to “perform” and then it no longer feels like a true gesture of love. That said I understand that it is a fun day to make sure we are letting all those important people in our lives know that they are loved and frankly just having a whole day set aside to focus on love itself.

So what gift ideas are trending for Valentines Day this year?

  1. Chocolates
  2. Lingerie (is that really for her or more for him?)
  3. Aroma Candles (lets set the mood)
  4. Music Players or Equipment
  5. Mood Music
  6. Digital Reading Device
  7. Books on Relationships/Marriage
  8. Romance Gift Basket (PG all the way to X rated!)
  9. Perfume
  10.  Jewelry
  1. Watch
  2. Romance Gift (also PG all the way to X rated)
  3. Handheld Organizer
  4. Accessories (belt, wallet, gloves, etc)
  5. Cologne
  6. Grooming Products
  7. Alcohol & Candy
  8. Bar Set (so they will drink at home I guess?)
  9. DVD’s
  10. Magazines

Gifts are a fun way of celebrating but they really are just material items and it is the time we spend with loved ones that shows our true feelings. Just as the Beatles song says “All you need is love”. Happy Valentines Day!

What are you planning for Valentines Day? What was your best memory?

Love My New George Foreman Grill!

I am all about convenience. Fixing a meal certainly is not the highlight of my day so anything that will make that process faster, easier and healthier is right up my alley. We have used a propane gas grill or a traditional charcoal grill for much of our cooking. I do like that meats cooked on a grill are not sitting in fat like when cooked in a griddle or frying pan. Frankly though I hate starting up the grill to heat or waiting for the charcoal briquettes to be ready. I certainly don’t like cleaning up the gunky messy grill plates later. Also the last thing I want to do in the high temperature and humidity of Houston is be outside cooking in front of a hot grill. So where is the happy medium that balances that out?

For my birthday my sweet husband and kids bought me an indoor grill. This is the George Foreman Grand Champ Family Value Grill. Each time I use it I am more excited about the benefits this indoor grill offers and excited to actually cook a meal. The one thing this does not offer that you get with a traditional grill would be the smokey flavor but other than that it does the job very well. This particular grill is just one of many products offered by the George Foreman Line and is their larger family size grill.

There are so many things to love! First of all it does not require any cooking spray. You simply start it heating and the indicator light lets you know when it is ready, which isn’t very long. Being family sized I easily was able to cook 6 hamburger patties on it. What is fabulous is the lid closes down to allow cooking on both sides at the same time offering evenly cooked food, no need to turn anything over, and the food actually cooks faster. This grill is slanted to allow juices and fat to run off into a drip tray. Clean up is extremely easy too because once it has cooled off you simply wipe it clean with a towel and warm water. Any juice or food debris can be easily scraped off with the special spatula scraper they provide. The grill does not need to be washed other than that and the drip pan and spatula scraper are both dishwasher safe. It is by far the easiest clean up of any cooking methods I have done.

So far I  have enjoyed cooking chicken, hamburgers and shrimp and look forward to many other adventures with my new indoor grill. So a special shout out thank you to my family for the fabulous gift!

What products are your favorites or make cooking more convenient?

Make The Freezer Your Friend!

What is in your freezer? I spent years packing my freezer with prepackaged items or foods that required preparation to make a meal.  I  was completely ignorant of all my freezer could offer me.Your freezer should be your friend and a place where quick meals reside. This doesn’t have to always include the prepackaged “convenience” foods. What do I mean by that? Those are the prepackaged items you just heat and eat that are often high in calories and fat or often contain additives and preservatives we certainly could do without. My husband jokes with me sometimes that I “heated that meal really well”. For example I will do frozen chicken fried steaks that just have to be heated along with making instant potatoes, gravy from a powdered mix where you just add water and stir, and then usually a bag of frozen Steam Fresh Vegetables fixed in the microwave. So nothing is fresh and there was really nothing that I had to “prepare”. Oh it is convenient alright, but what about a real home cooked meal?

Everyone’s time is precious so making a real home-made meal can often be time-consuming and certainly not practical on busy nights. On those busy nights it is too easy to do the prepackaged warm and serve meal or even just stop by McDonald’s or other fast food restaurants. This was when the light-bulb came on that it was time to change how I utilized my freezer so that on those busy nights we can still try to have a good meal. I found that on a day I had time to cook a home-made meal that I can often make a double batch and freeze the other half. Foods like Chili, Soups, Beef Stew and even Spaghetti Sauce. You are already there doing the work so it really isn’t hard to just do a double or even triple recipe.

I found that dinners we normally will have leftover will not get eaten that week but if I freeze them we can make a new meal out of it later. For example we never eat more than half the pan of Lasagna so I freeze the other half. I can take leftover Brisket or barbeque cut into small pieces and use for baked potato toppings another day.

What other conveniences can your freezer offer? If you save leftover vegetables and meats they can be used in casseroles, soups, stews or a stir fry later. When you find chicken on sale buy it!  You can boil the chicken, shred or cube it, and freeze it to use for a variety of meals later. You can also take the broth from the boiled chicken and spoon it into muffin tins and place that into the freezer. When the broth is frozen pop them out and store in a freezer bag and these little broth “cups” give you about 1/2 cup of fresh chicken broth. You certainly can cook other meats to freeze and use later also. If you have left-over pasta store it in the freezer for soups and casseroles later. All of these things will help cut down on food prep time when making those home cooked meals.

Even more ideas?  How about storing butter and cheese? I do. We certainly stock up on meats and other items that can be frozen when on sale. This  makes it easier to cook those larger batches of meals later by already having the ingredients. We also store bottles of frozen water for emergencies. After being in a hurricane and then without power for a few weeks we found the huge need for this. When the power is out that frozen water will keep your freezer/refrigerator colder, longer.

Just make sure food is always stored in freezer safe bags or containers!  For more information about what is safe to freeze check out this awesome website:  http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Factsheets/Focus_On_Freezing/index.asp

What freezer friendly ideas do you have?

BACON!!!!!!

What would get you literally jumping out of bed in the morning more than the smell of bacon? Isn’t the world just a better place when bacon is involved? Chef’s have dedicated entire cookbooks around this one ingredient! Seriously doesn’t everything taste better with bacon?

There is a whole industry that pays tribute to bacon! I got my husband a t-shirt for Christmas that says “You Had Me at Bacon”. There were a dozen other clothing items to choose from all centered around bacon. If you search Amazon you will find all types of gifts that claim to look, smelling or taste like bacon. There is the Bacon Air Freshener, Bacon and Maple Syrup Lollipop, Bacon BandagesBacon Flavored Toothpicks, and Bacon Lip Balm.  How about carrying around your money in a Bacon Wallet? If you just can’t get enough bacon flavor why not try adding a variety of Bacon Salts or Bacon Hot Sauce? You can even give your loved one the gift of Bacon Roses for your next special occasion!

We usually have several packages of bacon in our freezer which has become a staple in our home. During Hurricane Ike our power was out and the very first morning our neighbors were out bright and early cooking bacon in their backyard. Being summertime in Houston with no power meant everyone had their windows open to get some cooler fresh air. Of course that bacon scent just wafted into our home sparking the question from everyone, “do we have any bacon”? Sadly no we did not and that quickly went on our list of supplies we will always keep on hand for any emergency! I really try to stock up when I can find a coupon or can price-match at Wal-Mart the sale price from another store.

I have several recipes that my family loves that include bacon like Baked Potato Soup, Chicken Carbonara, and a Stuffed Chicken Breast. We often do a breakfast style dinner and it always includes bacon! My biggest obstacle though is when I fix bacon for these dishes I find I need to make extra otherwise as I am cooking it starts to disappear when my back is turned and I am left with little to use for the recipe.

Do you have also have an obsession with bacon? Please share your recipe ideas too!

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