ProgressOh! Soup and a Giveaway…

ProgressOh_Makeover_Image_-_sans_legal

It’s going to be getting a lot colder and when it gets cold, I want soup. I want Chicken and Dumplings or Beef Stew or Chili for dinner and something lighter and easier for lunch. Nothing tastes as good as a hot bowl of tomato soup that you dip a grilled cheese into. I really miss having grilled cheese. I have been thinking of trying dairy free cheese to make a sandwich but I haven’t gotten up the nerve yet.

Recently, the very nice people at BlogSpark sent me some Progresso Light Soup to try and I was excited to get it in the mail. They have over 40 flavors that are 100 calories or less. They sent me two flavors – Chicken Pot Pie and Potato, Bacon and Cheese – and while they both have dairy in them, I am going to try the Chicken Pot Pie soup for lunch today. I am just getting over a cold and a bowl of hot soup is too tempting to resist. Especially since I have leftover homemade bread to eat with it. Yum.  I think I will invite a friend over for a soup and sandwich lunch and some girly chat time with the other can of soup. Both flavors look delicious and I can’t wait to enjoy them.

chicken pot pie
Progresso Chicken Pot Pie Soup

 

Giveaway: BlogSpark and Progresso also want to bless one of my readers with some soup to help warm up on a cold day. Leave me a comment on this post telling me your favorite flavor of soup and I will draw a name to be sent a prize pack from Progresso.

Disclosure: The information, products and ProgressOh! gift packs were provided by Progresso through MyBlogSpark but the opinions are my own.

Fresh Homemade Pumpkin Pie…

pumpkin pie

It was cold last week and I was determined to stay inside. I didn’t even go out with the dog, he had to go by himself. When I am cold and refuse to go anywhere, I bake and bake and bake – which serves a few purposes. The first being that it heats the house up and helps me to stay toasty warm. It also gives us good stuff to eat. And it makes me feel good to create yummy stuff for my family to eat.

I baked a fresh loaf of Rosemary Olive Oil bread that I served with lunch along with soup and again with dinner to make grilled chicken sandwiches. I also made a batch of strawberry jam, although not baked, it does use the stovetop. But the final item I made was the crown jewel. A fresh homemade Pumpkin Pie. I can’t believe that out of all the pumpkin stuff that I have made, I have never baked a pumpkin pie. I used the pie dough that Brittany made 2 weeks ago that I had tossed into the freezer. It worked beautifully and took almost no time to whip up. I imagine it would take a lot longer if I had not already had the pie dough made and the pumpkin roasted. It tasted great, much more flavorful than a commercially made frozen pumpkin pie although I did need to add about 15 minutes to the cooking time.

Now that I know how easy and super delicious a fresh pumpkin pie is, I will be sure to make more of them. I still have a freezer full of pumpkin to use!

Here is the recipe:

Mrs. Sigg’s Fresh Pumpkin Pie
From: Beth Sigworth via Allrecipes.com

INGREDIENTS:

1 sugar pumpkin
1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch single crust pie
2 eggs
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 Tablespoon flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk

DIRECTIONS:

1. Cut pumpkin in half and remove seeds. Place cut side down on a cookie sheet lined with lightly oiled aluminum foil. Bake at 324 degrees F for 30-40 minutes or until the flesh is tender when poked with a fork. Cool until just warm. Scrape the pumpkin flesh from the peel. Either mash or puree in small batches in a blender. Increase oven temperature to 450 degrees F.

2. In a large bowl, slightly beat eggs. Add brown sugar, flour, salt, 2 cups of pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, and evaporated milk. Stir well after each addition.

3. Pour mixture into the unbaked pastry shell. Place a strip of aluminum foil around the edge of the crust to prevent over browning.

4. Bake 10 minutes at 450 degrees F, then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Bake an additional 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Remove the strip of foil about 20 minutes before the pie is done so that the edge of the crust will be a light golden brown. Cool pie, and refrigerate overnight for best flavor.

Homemade Dog Biscuits…

Barkley Backyard

This is Barkley, he is a 2 1/2 year old Lhasa Apso, and he spends most of his day sleeping. Don’t you wish we were more like dogs? So easy to please – just a warm place to sleep, food to eat and a little attention. Maybe we are more like that than we know since that all sounds really good to me right now.

If so motivated, Barkley can do several tricks including sit, roll over and jumping through a hoop. His motivation comes in the form of treats. He gets lots and lots of treats. He pretty much gets a treat for doing anything since most of my family are dog lovers and they can’t resist those big brown eyes. We are doing the pantry challenge right now and this week we ran out of dog treats so I decided to try making him some. I figured if I can make food for the people in my family, why can’t I make food for the dog in my family?

I found a recipe on Pinterest that seemed easy and I had all the ingredients for it. They turned out great! I even had a cookie cutter that looked like a dog bone! It was a bonus that these used up a few ingredients that had been hanging out in the pantry – some peanut butter the kids wouldn’t eat and a little bit of oatmeal that wasn’t enough to do anything else with. Barkley gobbled one down in a hurry so be warned that this recipe does not make many – I only got 6 treats from the batch.

dog treats

Peanut Butter and Oats Dog Bone Biscuitsadapted from Dog Treat Kitchen
makes 15

Ingredients

3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup soy milk (I used 2% milk)
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter (Try to use salt free and sugar free peanut butter but I just used regular)
1/2 Tbsp honey

Method

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Whisk together flour, oats, and baking powder in a medium bowl.

3.  Add milk, peanut butter, and honey.  Stir until combined.

4. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead until a soft dough forms.

5.  Roll out to 1/3” thick and cut out with a floured dog bone cookie cutter, or desired shape.

6.  Transfer to parchment lined baking sheets.  Bake for 15-20 minutes until cookie is firm to touch.  Let cool slightly on baking sheet before letting cool completely on wire rack.

*Notes:   These treats last for 2 weeks in airtight container or up to 4 weeks if refrigerated.  Treats can also be frozen for up to 6 months. 

Menu Plan Monday and Pantry Challenge Update 1/28/2013…

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We are still working on getting through the Pantry Challenge. I am processing through the leftovers and the pantry got down to a very sad state. I think John and the kids thought I was on strike or something. So, I went off to the grocery store on Thursday and brought everything back up to a reasonable level. There are only so many creative ways you can find to to use pancake syrup before you have to buy real food. I did use up some ingredients to make homemade dog biscuits since we ran out of dog treats (the kids have been giving him Pringles instead). I will post the recipe for those this week. And I used some of the frozen pumpkin to make a homemade pumpkin pie (that recipe is coming too).

This is a quiet week around the Rodi homestead. We have almost no evening activities (just a HOA meeting) so it will be good to slow down and be at home.

Take a look over at GoodCheapEats.com to see how Jessica is doing with her pantry challenge.

Here is the menu for this week:

Sunday: Dinner at a friend’s house
We brought homemade rolls, freshly canned strawberry jam and homemade Ginger cookies. Fun was had by all!

Monday: Chicken and Dumplings, leftover green beans
I roasted a chicken in the crockpot on Saturday and will be using the leftover chicken for tonight’s dinner. I also used the chicken carcass to make chicken broth that will be the base for this recipe. 

Tuesday: Frozen Pizza, Mandarin oranges, Salad
I got a deal on frozen pizza and this is the night of the HOA meeting so I need something easy. John won’t be home for dinner so I wanted something kid friendly too. Only have 3 mandarin oranges left to eat – yeah!

Wednesday: Mustard-Maple Baked Chicken, Steamed Broccoli, Salad and Rosemary Bread
This was moved again from last week to this week. I really want to make this but it seems to keep getting bumped. The Rosemary Bread has become so popular around our house that it is being requested almost every night and John wants it for lunch sandwiches too. 

Thursday: Freezer Chicken and Dressing, Salad, Honey Carrots
The last freezer chicken and dressing casserole. If there is enough leftover, we will have it again over the weekend. 

Friday: Chicken Hard Tacos, Rice, Salad
I will put the chicken in the crockpot Friday at lunch with some salsa and it will be ready to shred by dinnertime. I love an easy dinner, especially on a Friday night.

Saturday: Beef Stew, Cornbread
I love soups and stews in the winter time. It just makes you feel all warm and cozy inside.

Monkey Bread…

monkey bread

Expecting that there would atleast be snow flurries this past week, I bought a four pack of biscuits. Just the plain “whop biscuit” dough. That is what we called them when I was younger because you had to “whop” them on the couter to open them up. Yes, I am proud to be a redneck.

Well, we didn’t get any snow at all. Not one single flurry. When you saw the meteorological map, it showed snow all around us but nothing where we are. My kids were happy to have a 2 hour delay for school on Friday that they had issued as a precaution but disappointed to not have any snow and to not have Monkey Bread. For those of you who don’t know, I have a standing commitment with my kids that if it snows, we will have Monkey Bread. And they LOVE it.

So, since they did not go to school on Monday, we had a pretend snow day and I made Monkey Bread. They devoured it like piranha. It was kinda frightening to see how fast they could eat something. But it filled their tummies and help to ease the pain of not having any snow.

Here is the recipe that I used on the back of the biscuit dough can. Note that I cut the recipe in half since I didn’t think they needed to eat 4 whole cans of biscuits.

Monkey Bread
Serves 12 (or a really hungry family of 4)

3/4 granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
4 cans Pillsbury refrigerated biscuits
1/2 cup butter or margarine
3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1. Grease or spray 12-cup Bundt cake pan (I use a pie pan for a half recipe)
2. Mix granulated sugar and cinnamon in a gallon sized zipper bag. Cut each biscuit into quarters. Shake quarters in bag to coat; place in pan. Mix butter and brown sugar; pour over biscuit pieces.
3. Bake at 350 degrees F for 40 minutes or until golden brown (a half recipe takes about 18 minutes). Cool 5 minutes. Turn upside down onto a plate and serve warm.

Frozen Assets and a Food Failure…

made brittany
This is the look I got when I tried to serve Chicken Pot Pie last night.

There is something warming to my soul to see a freezer full of cooked food. I spent the entire day a few weeks ago filling the freezer with yummy goodness. We have been eating it off and on this month as the schedule got busy on certain days. Here are some of the highlights:

Baked Spaghetti: I made this with some Italian Sausage that was left in the freezer. It freezes really well. I top half of it with mozzarella for the cheese eaters in the family and then I leave my side plain. It is good enough that they end up eating my side too.

Chicken and Dressing Casserole: This makes enough for 2 casseroles and each casserole is large enough for 2 meals.

Chicken Pot Pie: Epic Fail. Everyone hated this. I used leftover chicken and dumplings (minus the dumplings) for the filling. I added frozen veggies and made my own pie crust. I think if I EVER try to serve this again, there will be mutiny.

Frozen Rolls: This is hit or miss with me. They never rise as high as they would if they had not been frozen but sometimes they do really well. I am not sure if I will continue to freeze rolls in dough ball form.

Biscuits: This does very well unlike the roll dough. I make up a large batch of biscuits and bake them all. I then freeze them after they are baked so they can just be warmed in the microwave for breakfast.

Waffles: You guys know that I make these every week and stock the freezer with them for a quick breakfast. They are always gone by Friday morning. My kids love waffles.

Muffins: I try to keep atleast 1-2 types of muffins in the freezer for a quick snack or breakfast. This week I have pumpkin muffins and Nutella muffins in there. Brittany doesn’t like either one and Josh only likes the Nutella ones. John loved the pumpkin ones and ate 6 of them in one day!

Cookie Dough: This freezes very well. I make a large batch of chocolate chip cookie dough and freeze it in cookie dough balls for freshly baked cookies anytime we want them. I also have Oatmeal cookies in there right now and I have been known to keep Ginger Cookie Dough too. You really can’t have too many varieties of cookie dough.

At any given time, I also have homemade frozen pizza (or atleast the dough), frozen pie dough, marinated chicken breasts (BBQ, Italian, Buffalo and Unbelievable). Make your life easier and use your freezer to it’s fullest. You will really appreciate it only busy days when getting breakfast or dinner to the table is in jeopardy.

 

Chicken ‘n Waffles…

John has a love affair with Chicken and Waffles. Late one night he was hungry and the only things he could find to eat was homemade waffles and frozen chicken fingers. He married the two together with plenty of maple syrup and the rest is history. I even chose one of the eateries for our anniversary based on the fact that they had chicken and waffles on their menu (although their chicken was wings and not tenders). On tonight’s menu was homemade chicken nuggets and we had just made fresh waffles for breakfast (both plain and pumpkin). Being tired from a full day of family fun, I decided to pair the two up for dinner and add some fruit with it to finish it off.

I am still in the midst of the pantry challenge so when I saw an almost empty box of Rice Krispies in the pantry, I decided that would factor into my breading on the nuggets. I also threw some buffalo wing sauce into the mix since I had it sitting in the fridge. Here is the recipe that I used for the nuggets:

Chicken Nuggets

2 Chicken Breasts, cut into cubes
1 egg
1/2 Tablespoon buffalo wing sauce
splash of water
2 cups Rice Krispies, pounded into a fine crumb (this is my favorite part)
1/2 cup flour

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In one bowl, beat egg with buffalo wing sauce and splash of water. In next bowl, place Rice Krispy crumbs. In third bowl, place flour. You can season the flour if you want to but I left it plain in order to not interfere with the waffle flavor. Begin with lightly dusting the nuggets with flour. Then dip in the egg mixture. Finally coat with the Rice Krispy crumbs.

Spray a baking sheet with Pam (I used butter flavored because that is how I roll). Place all the nuggets on the baking sheet and give the nuggets a light spray with the Pam. Place in oven and bake for 12 minutes. Turn the nuggets over and bake an additional 12 minutes until done.

Serve over warm waffles with a drizzle of syrup.

Here is my Waffle House copycat recipe for the waffles. You have to make the batter the day before for the best result. For pumpkin waffles, I add in 3/4 cup of pumpkin before cooking waffles in the waffle iron.

Almost Waffle House Waffles

3 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 tablespoons butter, softened
4 tablespoons shortening
1 cup half & half
1 cup milk
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Combine flour, salt and baking sosa in a mdeium bowl. Stire to combine.

Lightly beat the eggs in another medium bowl. Add the sugar, butter, and shortening and mix well with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the half & half, milk, buttermilk and vanilla. Mix well.

Add the dry flour mixture to the web mixture while beating. Mix until smooth.

Cover and chill overnight. (You  can use batter right away if you like, but a good 12 hour chill make the batter better)

Spray cooking spray on your waffle iron. Preheat the waffle iron.

Spoon 1/3-1/2 cup of batter into the wafflle ron and cook until the waffles are light brown (approx 2-4 minutes, depending on your waffle iron).

Let cool completely before freezing. They can be reheated in the microwave before eating (or eaten cold, if your kids are like mine).

 

Menu Plan Monday (Pantry Challenge Update) 1/21/2013…

Happy Martin Luther King Day! I am ashamed to say that even though I have lived in Atlanta since I was 5 years old, I have never been to the Martin Luther King Center. I am not sure why. Brittany will be going this year as part of her 5th grade field trip but we have never been as a family and I have never been before that. We do a stay-cation each year either over Spring Break or in the Summer so I am going to see about adding this to our list of place to visit.

We are still working on our pantry challenge. I can say that my pantry/fridge/freezer are not getting empty, if anything they are filling up with some good deal on meat that I have been stocking the freezer with. But I consider this a success since I am using up things that have been sitting in the pantry for awhile and needed to be used. This week we used Rice Krispies in chicken nuggets, granola, leftover buffalo wing sauce and found creative ways to use up leftover chili (over baked potatoes for lunch was one of them!).

Take a look over at GoodCheapEats.com to see how Jessica is doing with her pantry challenge. She is my inspiration!

Here is the menu for this week:

Sunday: Sesame Chicken, Steamed Broccoli, Rice
We have some leftover rice that I will use as a side dish later in the week.

Monday: Cheeseburgers, Oven Fries, Cutie Oranges
I am trying to use up the last 6 cuties so we will be eating them with every meal that I can fit them into. I found the hamburger patties on markdown at Target for $3.50 for 4 patties and they are Laura’s Lean Beef, my favorite! 

Tuesday: Freezer Chicken Pot Pie
I made this a few weeks ago to help with busy nights. 

Wednesday: Roasted Chicken, Greenbeans, Leftover Rice
Here is the rice from earlier in the week. I bought this chicken from Kroger when they had them for $.99/lbs. I will save the leftover chicken for tomorrow night and put the chicken carcass in the crockpot to make chicken broth from.

Thursday: Chicken Quesadillas, Homemade Guacamole, Salad
I am using the leftover chicken from Wednesday for the quesadillas. 

Friday: Mustard-Maple Baked Chicken, Steamed Broccoli, Salad and Rosemary Bread
This was moved from last week when I got a good deal on frozen pizzas and had those instead.

Saturday: Freezer Baked Spaghetti, leftover Rosemary Bread
Today is Pinewood Derby day so I wanted something easy to have for dinner. I am hoping there is leftover Rosemary Bread to go with it.

Bag o’ Pecans…

I am a nut. I know I am a nut because I am the only person around that shells their own nuts. My grandmother has several large black walnut trees on her property and I remember as a kid going to her house and her freezer would be filled with goodies including bags and bags of black walnuts. Shelled. I never really wondered how they got there or how hard it was to get them out of their shell. I just remember the wonderful taste that was unlike anything that I had eaten from the grocery store. Fast forward 30 years and now my grandmother give me bags of black walnuts to shell myself. These suckers are hard to shell. I have a routine that I have developed that involved a towel, a hammer, a concrete floor and lots of time. It is not unusual for me to work for 45 minutes and get barley 1/2 cup of black walnuts. They just don’t give up easily.

Just after Christmas this year I found several bags of pecans still in the shell on markdown at my local grocery store. I had never shelled a pecan and assumed it was just as hard as a walnut. I almost passed up the bargain since I knew how long it tastes to get just a tiny bit of goodness from a nut. Lucky for me, John grew up shelling pecans (his grandmother had several pecan trees in her backyard) and he let me know that it was much easier than walnuts. So, I bought 3 bags that were 2# each and sat down to shell them. Wow. What a difference. I ended up shelling one entire bag in about 2 hours and it yielded 4 cups of pecans. I paid $4.50 per bag of pecans so that came out to be just over $1/cup. That is an awesome price! Now that I know how easy it is to shell pecans, I will probably do that from now on. The good thing about having lots of pecans is that you can put them in everything from oatmeal to salads and make one of my favorite treats – pecan pie!

I made this pecan pie last week and in the process taught Brittany how to make a pie crust. This is a lost art with the ease of buying a pre-made pie crust in the grocery store. There are lots of people my age or older who have never made a pie crust and I wanted her to know that it was very simple. She did a great job and even had some leftover to make herself a tiny pie. It was a great mother/daughter experience.

Classic Pecan Pie

Prep Time:  5 minutes
Chill Time:  2 hours
Yield:  8 servings

  • 1 cup Karo® Light OR Dark Corn Syrup
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) pecans
  • 1 (9-inch) unbaked or frozen** deep-dish pie crust (or make your own)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix corn syrup, eggs, sugar, butter and vanilla using a spoon. Stir in pecans. Pour filling into pie crust. Bake on center rack of oven for 60 to 70 minutes (see tips for doneness, below, DO NOT OVERBAKE). Cool for 2 hours on wire rack before serving.

**To use prepared frozen pie crust: Place cookie sheet in oven and preheat oven as directed. Pour filling into frozen crust and bake on preheated cookie sheet.
RECIPE TIPS: Pie is done when center reaches 200°F. Tap center surface of pie lightly – it should spring back when done. For easy clean up, spray pie pan with cooking spray before placing pie crust in pan. If pie crust is overbrowning, cover edges with foil.

Macaroni Grill Rosemary Bread…

One of our favorite restaurants is Macaroni Grill. We love it because of their family pleasing menu, they let you color on the table and they have an amazing loaf of bread. This recipe copies that loaf of bread almost exactly. It is super simple and quick to make and my family loves it. I also make an herb olive oil dipping sauce to go with it, reminiscent of Carrabas Italian Grill.  Nothing like taking two of our favorite place to eat and combining them together at home to make it affordable.

Macaroni Grill Rosemary Bread
printed from melskitchencafe.com

*Makes 2 loaves or 1 really big one

INGREDIENTS:

1 tablespoon instant yeast or 1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 3/4 – 4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons dried rosemary, chopped and divided
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Coarse salt for sprinkling

 

DIRECTIONS:

In a large bowl (or the bowl of an electric stand mixer if you have one), combine the yeast, sugar and water. If using active dry yeast, let the mixture stand until foaming and bubbly, about 5 minutes. If using instant yeast, proceed with the recipe. Add two cups of the flour, salt and 1 tablespoon of the chopped rosemary. Mix. Continue adding flour, gradually, until a soft dough is formed. Judge the dough based on texture and feel versus how much actual flour you’ve had to add based on the recipe. The dough should be slightly tacky to the touch but should hold it’s shape while still being soft and smooth. Knead the dough by hand or with an electric mixer for 4-5 minutes, adding additional flour only if the dough is overly sticky and not clearing the sides of the bowl.

Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl and cover with greased plastic wrap. Let the dough rise until doubled in size, approximately 1-2 hours, depending on the warmth of your kitchen. Once doubled, gently deflate the dough and divide in half. Prepare a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, a silpat liner or lightly grease with cooking spray. Shape the dough into two smooth, oval shaped loaves and place them on the baking sheet, one on each half of the tray so they have room to rise and bake without touching. Use a brush to slather the melted butter over the top of the loaves. Continue brushing on the butter until it is gone (the loaves will be well-saturated). Sprinkle the remaining chopped rosemary over the top of the loaves, patting down gently to set into the dough, if needed. Cover the loaves with lightly greased plastic wrap and let them rise again until puffy and nearly doubled, about an hour (again, the exact time will depend on temperature so judge the dough by how it looks).

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Lightly sprinkle coarse salt over the top of the loaves. Bake the loaves for 18-20 minutes until browned and baked through. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.