Sunday, December 23, 2007

Simple Supper

Once in a while, you just want a tasty dinner but don't want to have to spend all evening in the kitchen. Or, maybe that is just me! Tonight, I went all out with making dessert, so I made a simple supper. I had purchased a small container of premade pesto at the grocery store, so voila! Instant dinner. I sauteed some chicken breasts, which my husband seasoned quite nicely. While the chicken was cooking, I boiled water for pasta. Once the pasta was done, I mixed in pesto while it was still hot. Then, I added the chicken I had cooked (after I cut it into chunks). It was very satisfying and tasty! You don't even need a recipe for this, but I will post one anyways:

Chicken and Pesto Pasta
from Pachey

2 chicken breasts, cooked, seasoned how you wish (we used salt, pepper, fresh garlic, and dried basil)
cooked pasta - whatever kind you prefer and however much you want!
pemade pesto - 1/2 - 3/4 cup

1. Saute the chicken breasts until cooked. When cool, cut into bite sized chunks.
2. Cook the pasta to the desired firmness. Drain, but don't rinse!
3. Mix the pasta together with pesto. Stir together while hot.
4. Add the chicken and stir again.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Is this Asian Cooking?

One of my favorite family recipes is American Chop Suey. I believe my mom came up with this recipe about 40 years ago when she was in school. In the cafeteria at her school, they served this. She made note of the ingredients and recreated it for our family.

It isn't Asian cooking. I have no idea why it's named Chop Suey. There isn't any Chop or Suey. Instead, it's a mixture of ground beef, elbow macaroni, onion and green pepper with some tomatoes. I believe some people call this Ghoulash. But, it isn't very Hungarian either. Don't panic about the bacon fat. I realize that most people don't keep it on hand. If you don't have any, which we rarely do, you can use canola oil or vegetable oil. Also don't panic that you don't drain the ground beef or rinse the pasta. Just try and trust me here!

This is a favorite of our family. It's quick, easy, inexpensive and filling. When I was growing up, my whole family loved it. Now, my husband, who isn't all that impressed with some of my cooking, loves it too. What is not to love about beef and tomatoes (my favorite food)? Enjoy this hearty dish with a bread of some sort. French, Italian, Sourdough. It doesn't really matter.

American Chop Suey

3-4 teaspoons bacon fat
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small green pepper, chopped
1 pound extra lean ground beef
1 small can tomato paste
1 large can tomatoes, diced
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 pound elbow macaroni

1. Boil water and cook macaroni according to package directions. While macaroni is cooking, saute the bacon fat, onion, and green pepper on medium heat. Onions and green pepper should be soft when thoroughly cooked.

2. Add ground beef, cooking until grey.

3. Add tomato paste, tomatoes, and spices. Simmer for about 15 minutes.

4. When macaroni is cooked, drain it and add it to the meat mixture.

That Doesn't Look Anything Like the Picture

Sometimes, cooking can be a disaster. I love making new recipes. Look forward to it actually. You can find your new favorite by trying new recipes. So, a few weeks ago, I found a really good chili cornbread recipe. You put beans, ground beef, spices and all kinds of yummy bits in your Crock Pot. Then, you topped it with a mix of cornmeal, creamed corn, milk and salt. This was supposed to turn out looking like thick chili with a cornbread topping. What it ended up looking like was this:

Keep in mind, this was well after the cooking time was up. I cooked it for three hours, then four, then FIVE and the cornbread never set up. Granted, it wasn't that much of a waste of money, but you know what? That is not the point! The point is that I was seriously looking forward to the recipe. IT DIDN'T LOOK LIKE THE PICTURE. It ended up being a congealed mass of goop. The chili didn't taste good either. Sigh.

What did we even end up eating for dinner that night? I don't even remember. Probably soup and sandwiches. Thank God those don't need a recipe.

Needless to say, I won't be trying that recipe again. Boooooo!

Saturday, December 15, 2007


Because it's the holidays, I tend to bake more than normal. I blame my husband for this. Every year, around Thanksgiving, he has to have his Spicy Chex Mix. He begs me to make it for him. I usually make a double or even a triple batch because, I admit it, the stuff is good. Very good. It's like crack. My prefered way to eat Spicy Chex Mix is with a spoon. Yes, a spoon. I don't subject myself to greasy, orange fingers this way. My husband finds this bizarre, and I am sure many of you out there probably will too.

Now, Chex Mix is not the only treat I bake around the holidays. Typically, I like to make Christmas cookies. I really don't feel up to baking cookies this year. For a reason why, read The Ancient Mixer and you will understand. So, instead, I will settle for some nice banana bread. What's not to love about fresh, warm from the oven banana bread? If you are feeling sassy, you can add some blueberries or even chocolate chips to the batter. One time, I even added shredded coconut. Good times. I can always count on Mrs. Betty Crocker to provide a yummy banana bread.

Curl up on the couch with a bowl of Spicy Chex Mix and watch the Saturday Night Live Christmas Special. By the time the Schweddy Balls skit rolls around, your tummy will be full and you will be laughing so hard your eyes will water. There is hardly anything better than that!
Spicy Chex Mix
from General Mills

6 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 and 1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt
3/4 teaspoons garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1-2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce (add more if you want it really spicy)
3 cups Corn Chex
3 cups Rice Chex
3 cups Wheat Chex
1 cup nuts (peanuts are best!)
1 cup pretzels
1 cup cheese crackers (such as Cheez Its)

1. Heat oven to 250 degrees.
2. Melt butter in a large roasting pan in the oven. Stir in seasonings. Gradually stir in remaining ingredients until evenly coated.
3. Bake 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

Banana Bread
from Betty Crocker

2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons oil
3/4 cups milk
1 egg
2 to 3 medium ripened bananas, mashed

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 9x5x3 inch pan or two 8.5x4.5x3.5 inch loaf pans.
2. Measure all ingredients into large mixing bowl; beat on medium speed 1/2 minute, scraping side and bottom of bowl constantly.
3. Pour into pans. Bake 55 to 65 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.