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Monday, May 31, 2010

Sloppy Joe Slop-Sloppy Joe

Ok, bad title, I know. I know you are now belting out the Lunch Lady song. Admit it. You know you are, even if it's just in your head.

Have I mentioned I am not good at coming up with titles for things. I'm just not "name" creative. :) It's true. Maybe I'll get better as the blog goes on, maybe not. Hang around and find out. LOL

Ok, time to reign in the ADD-ness and focus. Focus. FOCUS...Alrighty, here we go. Oh, I feel another song coming on...FOCUS...

Who doesn't like Sloppy Joes?? Well, I am sure some people don't (Let's pray for them, shall we?) , but I am sure they are in the minority. Right??? Well, we like Sloppy Joes around here. The medium & small boys like them with ketchup and cheese. I like mine off the bun, in a bowl, with cheese. The large boy & the hubby just like them. Here's the recipe I use.

Sloppy Joes

Here is a super easy, not from the can version that our whole family loves. It makes a lot, and we usually have leftovers. You can freezer the leftovers or use them in another meal. I'm working on a recipe for the leftovers. I'll post it when I've got it perfected.

2lbs ground beef

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped green pepper (You can leave this out with no taste issues.)

1 can condensed tomato soup

1- 8oz can tomato sauce

2 tbsp ketchup

1 1/2 tbsp worcestershire sauce

1 tbsp mustard (I use course ground, but you can use whatever you have on hand)

1/4 tsp chili powder

1/4 tsp garlic powder

Hamburger buns

In a large pan, brown ground beef and onion. Add green peppers, if using. Cook an additional 5 minutes or so until beef is cooked through and onions and peppers are soft. While the meat mixture is cooking. Put the tomato soup, tomato sauce, ketchup, worcestershire sauce, mustard, chili powder and garlic powder in a crockpot. Drain meat mixture and add it to the crockpot. Cook on low 3-4 hours. Serve over buns.

I have let this cook much longer with no problems. You could shift it to the "keep warm" setting on your crockpot, if you have one, at the 3-4 hour mark if you like.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Pasta Salad

It's Summer in Texas. That means it's hot. H-O-T. HOT!!! I try to do as much grill and crockpot cooking as possible during the summer. It saves on our utility bill and it doesn't heat the house up. Our house isn't exactly the most energy efficient home, so every little bit helps. I figured I'd share my basic pasta salad recipe. It goes great with any grilled meat. It's perfect to bring to picnics. We make this a lot during the summer months and it's always a hit.

Pasta Salad
1-16oz box of Tri-Color Rotini
1/2-1c Mayo (This really depends on your taste
and how "wet" you like your pasta salad)
1 TBSP Stone Ground Mustard
1/4tsp Garlic Powder
1/4 tsp Onion Powder
2 Hard Boiled Eggs, chopped
1 TBSP Dried Chives
1 TBSP Dried Parsley
1/4tsp Cayenne Pepper (optional)
1/2c Frozen Peas
Salt & pepper to taste (Sometimes I use Bacon Salt.)
Boil pasta just until tender. While pasta is boiling mix everything except the peas in a large bowl. Put frozen peas in the colander you are going to drain your pasta in. Pour pasta in the colander and drain it well. This will thaw the peas enough to mix into the pasta salad. Pour pasta/pea mixture into the bowl with the sauce. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate until chilled.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Ice Cream Cake

So, my "baby" turned 19 on May 21st. I always make the kids their birthday cakes. Nothing fancy. Usually just a box cake with their choice of frosting. Most of the time they pick buttercream frosting (which is my favorite frosting of all time). I asked the Large Boy what kind of cake he wanted and he replied..."an ice cream cake". A "vanilla with mint chocolate chip" ice cream cake. Great. I have made an ice cream cake before. It was about 7-8 years ago for the Medium Boy's birthday. When I made that one, I had a glass 9x13 baking pan explode. Not fun.

So, I went out and purchased my ingredients, returned home, and gave it my best shot.

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Cake

1 box of vanilla cake mix

1/2 gallon of Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

1 container of hot fudge sauce or chocolate syrup

1 bag of Andes mint candy pieces

Buttercream frosting-enough to cover a 9x13 cake

Mix and bake the cake according to the package directions, but divide the batter between two 9x13 pans. ( I made 2 boxes of cake mix and 2 cakes, and it was way too much). Remove cakes from oven and let cool. Place ice cream in the fridge to soften.

Once cakes have cooled, place one of them on a serving platter. I used one of these. Hollow out the center of the cake (or not, it's your cake. It really depends on how much cake you want). Fill the hollowed out section with the ice cream. (If you didn't hollow out your cake, spread the softened ice cream over the cooled cake.) Sprinkle 1/2 of the Andes candy pieces over the ice cream. Drizzle hot fudge sauce or chocolate sauce over the ice cream. Carefully place the second cake on top of the ice cream. Put the whole thing in the freezer for a couple of hours. I left mine in there for about 2 hours. Just long enough for the ice cream to firm back up and the top layer of cake to freeze slightly.

After the cake has been in the freezer for a couple of hours, you get to frost it. :) Now, let me just say I am not a "for pretty" type of cook. What I make tastes good and looks alright, but it is nothing fancy. So, no pressure to make it look professional quality here, just frost it. Put a thin layer of frosting on the cake and return it to the freezer. If you keep it out too long the ice cream starts to melt and get oozy and it just makes a mess. Trust me on this one. After about an hour take the cake out of the freezer and put the final coat of frosting on it. Return to the freezer until ready to serve.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Simple Pasta Sauce

We have pretty simple taste as far as food (and life) goes. As much as I enjoy the entire cooking process, I do occassionally want simple & quick. This sauce fits that. It's easy to put together. It's made of stuff you probably have on hand (or stuff you should have on hand). It is just a bit more complicated than opening a jar of sauce, but it is so worth the little extra work. And really, it is just a little extra work. Honest.

Simple Pasta Sauce

This is an easy pasta sauce that when tossed with your favorite pasta, makes a quick and wonderful weeknight dinner.

Here's what you'll need:

1lb ground beef (More if you like your sauce super meaty. I live in a house full of boys. We prefer meaty sauce. I use more, closer to 2lbs)
1- 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
1-14.5 oz can of petite diced tomates (You can use regular diced tomatoes. At least one of my boys has an aversion to "chunks". I can usually get the petite diced past them without much fuss.)
1 small onion, diced (You pick the size of the chunks. I dice mine pretty small due to the chunk aversion boy mentioned above.)
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced, depending on how much your people like garlic.
1 tbsp dried italian seasoning

Place onion, ground beef, and garlic in a medium sauce pan. Cook over medium high heat until beef is cooked through and onion is soft. Drain if needed, and return beef mixture to sauce pan.
Add crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, and italian seasoning to pan. Stir until well mixed. Heat to boiling, stirring often. Reduce heat to a low simmer. Simmer covered for 20-30 minutes, stirring occassionally. Serve over your favorite pasta.
You don't have to let it simmer this long, but I think it helps the flavors blend better. If you start your pasta water boiling when you set the sauce to simmer, both the sauce and the pasta will be ready at the same time. :)
This makes a fairly chunky sauce. If you prefer a more saucy sauce, add an 8oz can of tomato sauce(or two) and increase the italian seasoning to taste.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Hello Everyone

Well, after much prompting and suggestions by many of my friends, I've decided to start a blog. I figure that while I am on Summer break from school, I might as well give it a go. :) That should give me plenty of time to sort everything out before school starts back up for me in the fall.

I suppose I should tell you a bit about myself and what my plans are for this blog. I'm a SAHM, student, & military wife. I've been married for almost 19 yrs. My hubby & I were high school sweethearts. We have 3 handsome boys ages 19,11, & 9. We are currently calling Texas our home & we'll be here until the Air Force says otherwise.

I love to cook. Really really love it. It's almost an obsession, really. It's what I do in my free time, when I have it. Cooking is how I relax. It's how I help take care of my family. It's I'm what you might call a tweaker...a recipe tweaker...not that other kind of tweaker. :) I don't often follow a recipe exactly. Actually, I'm pretty sure I haven't followed a recipe exactly in years. Drives my dear sweet hubby nuts. But, he deals. :) I use recipes as guidelines and then I add a bit of this, and a bit of that until I think it's good. Usually it turns out well...usually.

This blog is going to chronicle my cooking adventures. I'll post my family's favorites, new recipe adventures, meal plans, and other kitchen adventures. I'll also share some of our day to day life stuff. Some of it. As much as I think you can handle. 'Cause we're a bit crazy. I'll try to ease you into the crazy slowly.

I hope you like it enough to come back and visit. :)