Roasted Cornish Game Hens

Thaw 3 Cornish Game Hens.  Mine were still a little frozen the morning I wanted to get them started, so I submerged them in cold water for one hour, dumped the water and refilled pot to submerge them again in cold water for one additional hour.  They were completely thawed after that, but you can continue to dump and refill the cold water every hour until yours are thawed. 

Remove hens from packaging and rinse well, inside and out.  Pat dry with paper towels, inside and out. 

In a small dish, mix:
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 1/4 to 1 tablespoon white or black pepper (depending on how much you like pepper)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 2 to 3 tablespoons dry parsley

Rub skin of hens with olive oil, just enough to lightly coat.  Sprinkle spice mixture into the cavity and rub into the outside of the hens.  Set the hens aside.  You can let them marinate in the refrigerator for 3 hours to intensify the flavors.  I only had mine in the refrigerator for about 2 hours. 

Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray and preheat oven to 450 degrees. 

In baking dish spread:
- 5 to 6 carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
- 1 onion, peeled and cut into large slices
- 5 to 6 celery stalks, including leaves and cut into large chunks
- 5 or more stalks of fresh rosemary (I used all that was in the small box I got at the store and I think it was more like 7 or 8)

Place the hens on top of the veggies and tie the legs together with kitchen string or tin foil.  Cut small cubes of butter and stick four (or more depending on your preference) under the skin in various places of each hen. 


All ready for the oven
Place prepared baking dish into oven for 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, melt some butter (stir in a little garlic powder  and seasoning salt if so desired).  After the hens have cooked for 15 minutes, baste with the butter.  Cook for a total of 60 minutes, basting with butter or olive oil (or pan drippings if there are enough) every 15 minutes. 

The skin was so crispy and the meat was very flavorful

After 60 minutes, check to make sure hens are thoroughly cooked and let them rest for 15 minutes before serving. 

I cut each hen in half, so this recipe served 6.  I did not serve the veggies except I gave some of the carrots to the baby, who enjoyed them!  A few of the remaining veggies went into omelets for my husband's weekday breakfasts and the rest (minus the sprigs of rosemary) of the veggies and pan drippings got mixed into the dog bowl for a tasty treat (the dog was very happy!). 


Basic Biscuits and Gravy

I've never really been a fan of biscuits and gravy - a combination of a texture thing and my dislike of sausage.  When I discovered the men in my family LOVE biscuits and gravy, I set out to find a recipe that I liked too.  The biscuit part was easy because I have a great recipe already.  I found a gravy recipe that looked easy and after a few trials, I have tweaked it to where I love it almost as much as the boys do!

Basic Biscuits
Preheat oven to 425.

In a bowl add:
-2 cups flour
-3 teaspoons baking powder
-1/2 teaspoon salt

The original recipe says (that my mom always used when I was young) calls for sifting the dry ingredients.  After seeing a recommendation in a cookie recipe, I have started using a whisk to mix the dry ingredients rather than sifting them. 

Using a pastry cutter (or a fork in a pinch), cut in 1/4 cup shortening to dry ingredients.  Make sure the shortening is thoroughly incorporated into the dry ingredients.  You shouldn't see any big clumps of shortening. 

TIP: to make measuring easier, fill a 2 cup liquid measuring cup with  water and spoon in shortening.  Once the water level rises to 2 1/4 cups, carefully pour out the water and dump the shortening into the dry ingredients.

All at once, add 3/4 cup milk.  I stir with a wooden spoon and turn the dough out onto a floured pastry sheet before all of the flour mixture is fully incorporated.  Dust your hands with a little flour and gently kneed the dough 20 to 25 times (this will get the rest of the flour mixture combined).  Roll or pat dough to desired thickness (I usually aim for about 1/2 inch or a little thicker).  Use a biscuit cutter or fun cookie cutter (or a drinking glass in a pinch) and place biscuits on ungreased baking sheet.  Bake for 10 to 12 minutes (times vary depending on ovens and altitude...they are done when the bottoms are a light golden color).  Serve! 

Recipe makes 10 to 20 biscuits depending on how thin you roll your dough and how big your cutter is.  I like leftovers so when it's just the four of us I usually make a double batch.  A triple batch is enough when it's the 6 of us.  When it's the 9 of us, I make biscuits till I'm blue in the face ;-)


What's better than biscuits?  Star-shaped biscuits!

Gravy
Brown one pound of your favorite sausage.  I don't like most sausages because they are too spicy for me (yes I'm a wimp!), but I discovered that the maple flavored sausage is very mild and the maple flavor adds a wonderful element to the gravy. 

Once the sausage is completely browned (no more pink), stir in 1/3 cup flour.  Stir until all of the flour is completely absorbed by the sausage grease (you're making a roux, which will be the thickening agent for your gravy).  I let the sausage/flour mixture cook for a minute or two after the grease is absorbed so that it browns the flour just a little (a little cooking tip I learned back in high school from a wonderful chef).  Slowly stir in 3 to 4 cups of milk using a whisk.  I usually add about 1/4 to 1/3 cup at a time and thoroughly whisk it in so that it doesn't clump.  The sausage will get a little caught in the whisk, but don't worry, it will come back out!  The amount of milk you use depends on how far you want to stretch the gravy.  More milk means more gravy but less meat in each serving. 

After all of the milk is mixed in, add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of seasoning salt (to taste) and 1/2 to 2 teaspoons of white or black pepper.  I am not a fan of pepper so I use a small amount of white pepper, which is milder than black pepper.  But if you love pepper, add until the gravy is delicious to you!

Serve and enjoy!!

This recipe serves 4.  I double it for 6. 
YUM!

Easy Glazed Boneless Pork Chops


Jumping into the week right after a trip is CRAZY.  I managed to have clothes clean, but no menu or grocery shopping was done!  My husband graciously offered to pick up some protein to go with potatoes and veggies I already had in the house, and I went in search of an easy, yummy recipe to use with the boneless pork chops he brought home.  Modified the one I found and it was a HIT!

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 to 1 tsp cayenne powder (depending on how spicy you like things...I used 1/4 and it was JUST right for me and the babies)
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp of salt (or less if you're watching your salt intake)
1/4 tsp white pepper (or more if you like pepper more than I do)
6 boneless pork chops

- Preheat oven to 350.

- In a shallow bowl or pan combine brown sugar, cayenne, garlic powder, paprika, salt, and pepper.

- Dredge pork in seasoning mixture (patting it in for good measure).  Don't dry the pork before doing this, the moisture from the meat helps the seasoning stick.

- Heat approximately 3T olive oil in a large skillet and add the pork when the oil is heated.  Brown the pork on each side (approximately 5 minutes per side).

- If you have an oven-safe skillet you can just stick it in the oven after the pork is brown on both sides.  If you don't, lightly spray a cookie sheet and transfer the pork to the sheet after they are brown.  (I did this and poured some of the yummy oil/sugary juice from the skillet over the pork before I stuck it in the oven)

- Bake for 5-10 minutes (depending on the thickness of your chops).  If you have a meat thermometer the pork should be at 145F (or you can just wing it like I did).

-Serve!

I cut the leftovers up and used it in a stir fry the next night - YUM!

Crock Pot Moroccan Chicken

Tried out a new crock pot recipe last week and OH MY YUM!  And easy!  Win Win!

I like to have dinner ready on football game nights, which is sometimes three nights a week!  In the rush of getting home post-game, getting showers done, homework checked, and boys headed to bed, I forgot to take a picture...but I got one of my yummy leftovers!


Here's the original recipe along with my modifications

Ingredients:
2 (15 ounce) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 (28 ounce) can whole tomatoes drained and cut into 1-inch cubes (I used a can of chopped tomatoes, juice and all)
2 large bell peppers, chopped (I used green because they were cheapest)
1 red onion, chopped
1/3 cup golden raisins (the bites with raisins were VERY yummy, but there weren't many, so I think I will increase this a lot the next time I make this recipe)
2 T tomato paste (I just used the whole little can)
2 T water
1 T ground cumin
2 t ground cinnamon
2 t paprika
1/2 t salt
1.25 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 inch cubes (I used a whole family package of thighs and put them in whole and shredded them with my handy shredder scissors after it was cooked)
3 T creamy peanut butter or other nut butter of your choice (I used peanut butter...forgot to put in until after I had served first helpings...everyone agreed that it was way yummier with the peanut butter)


Directions:
In your crock pot, stir together all ingredients.  Cover and cook on low 8 hours or 3 to 4 hours on high.

Stir in nut butter of your choice and serve over rice, quinoa, or couscous.  (I think this would be amazing with couscous, but the ease of the rice cooker won this week)

Tropical Slaw



Tropical Slaw          

          
I had some cabbage to use up, and was tired of regular slaw. I found a recipe similar to this, left out what I didn’t like, and voilà! Both Larry and I loved this!

3 cups shredded cabbage (1/3 – ½ a head)
1 can (20 oz) pineapple tidbits
1 can (11 oz) mandarin oranges
½ - 1 cup flaked coconut
1 6-8 oz carton piña colada or pineapple yogurt
½ cup chopped walnuts

Drain pineapple and oranges. (Won’t use the liquid, so feel free to use in other dishes if you care to.)  In medium bowl combine cabbage, pineapple, oranges, and coconut. Add yogurt and toss to coat. Top with walnuts. Refrigerate until serving.

Bacon topped Roasted Pumpkin and Cauliflower Soup

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This soup was so easy and delicious I have to write down how I made it so that I can make it again next winter! It all started because I didn't cook a meal I had planned which left me with half of a pumpkin and a head of cauliflower that really needed to be used.  I didn't really have a piece of meat or any potatoes to go with them so a roast was not on the table.  I didn't want to go to the shops ... you know, it was one of those days!  We all have them, right?! So, I scrounged around and this is what I came up with.

1/2 of a Kent pumpkin
1 head of cauliflower 
1 head of garlic
A couple of onions

I chopped the pumpkin and cauliflower, peeled and quartered the onions, and just peeled the garlic.  I put all of that in a large baking dish (lined with baking paper of course) and coasted with olive oil.  I roasted them in the oven on like 180C (350F) until the pumpkin was soft and the cauliflower was starting to brown. 

I put all of that into my blender, added a bit of chicken stock and blended it to a thick soup consistency. 

We love toppings on our soups too so while the veggies were roasting, I chopped up the following.

1 small onion
A couple cloves of garlic
A few rashers of bacon

I fried them all together ... starting with the bacon because it takes a bit longer ... then adding the garlic and onion and cooking til garlic is not longer bitter and onions are soft.

I served the soup in a bowl, sprinkled with the topping. 

I had intended to grab a few chives out of the garden as well to sprinkle on the top, but I forgot!  Oh well ... next time!

Garlic Prawns and Scallops - In the Thermomix

I had been craving prawns and decided to try Tenina's Garlic Prawn Recipe. I made that decision while I was at the shops but wasn't exactly sure what ingredients I had at home. I ended up having most of what I needed but had to improvise a little bit when I didn't have everything.  Also, Rory and I love scallops so I added those!  Here is my modified version.  PS ... this is done entirely in the Thermomix.


 


6 largish cloves of garlic
25g extra virgin olive oil
10 green prawns, shelled and deveined (I can buy them this way at my fish shop!
35g dry sherry
a pinch of pepper
35g cream
lemon juice, to garnish
a few branches of parsley, to garnish
 

Put garlic and olive oil into Thermomix bowl and chop 4 sec/speed 5. Scrape down sides of bowl and saute 5 min/Varoma/speed 1.  Add prawns and cook 5 min/Varoma/Reverse/speed 1 with MC off. Add scallops, sherry, pepper and cream and cook 2 min/Varoma/Reverse/speed 1 with MC off.  While this is happening, chop your parsley.  Stir through when cooking is finished.  I served this over a bed of rice, with a squeeze of lemon.


Fish Tacos - The Low Sodium Way

My cousin Liz (Jill, at the time) posted her fish taco recipe a few (like six!!) years ago.  It has been a favorite in our house ever since.  Rory wanted to have them the other night so I set about making them low sodium.  It wasn't difficult.  The high sodium portions are the tortillas and the mayo but I made both of those from scratch so no problem!

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I'll list the ingredients in bold in the actual recipe ... There's a few steps but they are easy and I'll put them in the order I recommend ...

Put rice in rice cooker (or cook on stovetop)  I do two cups of rice

In a bowl, mix ¼ cup lime juice, 1 TBLS water, 1 tsp sugar and 1 tsp chili powder.  This is your marinade.  Cut flakey white fish (I do two fillets for our family of four) (and I use Snapper) into into taco-sized pieces, about 1 ½” x 2 ½” (thin pieces work best).  Add to marinade and let stand.

Mix ½ cup homemade mayo,  ¼ cup cream, 1 clove garlic, and pepper to taste. You can add 1-2 Serrano chilies, seeded too if you want, but I don't.  Liz blends all this in her blender but I don't mind it chunky so I just mix it with a spoon.  Pop it in the fridge until you are ready to serve. 

I made the dough for the tortillas in the Thermomix but you could mix it by hand.  370g flour, 180ml lukewarm water, 40g olive oil, 1 tsp sodium free baking powder.  Add to TM bowl, blitz speed 5 for 10 seconds.  Knead setting for 2 minutes.  Tip dough out, roll into big ball then divide into 8 equal portions.  Roll with rolling pin and set aside.  Fry in hot, dry (no oil) flying pan for 1-2 minutes or until it bubbles, then flip.  The second side never takes as long.  AND the first tortilla never works!  (Roll out a tiny one to be 'first one' that goes in the trash!)

In shallow bowl, mix 1/2 cup flour, 1 tsp sodium free baking powder and 1 tsp chili powder. Add water until a thick batter forms.

When your rice is finished cooking, mix in the juice of one lime and a handful of fresh coriander.

You can decide whether to cook the fish or tortillas first.  I had help ... Rory cooked the fish while I cooked the tortillas.  If I had to do it on my own, I would have cooked the tortillas first.

Fry tortillas in a preheated (on medium low heat), dry (no oil) flying pan for 1-2 minutes or until it forms bubbles, then flip.  The second side never takes as long.  AND the first tortilla never works!  I always make a tiny one to be 'first one' that goes in the trash.  Place tortilla's in a stack under a clean tea towel until ready to serve.

Grab your marinated fish.  Dredge each pieces in flour then coat liberally with batter and shallow fry (you can deep fry but I never do!) until golden. (It is okay if your fish does not get completely opaque, if your pieces are thin enough, the lime juice will have already cooked them) Drain on a paper towel.

To serve ... top tortilla with rice, fish and sauce.  I often sprinkle with extra coriander.  And Rory adds Sriracha to his.


Breakfast Burritos ~ The Low Sodium Way

One wouldn't think that it was very difficult to eliminate the majority of sodium from a diet, but I'm here to tell you that it's harder than it sounds!  My biggest difficulty has been bready things ... you just can't find them on the shelves without high levels of sodium.  That's no bueno for this girl!  I've been a bit slack what with Christmas and New Years and the kids being on holidays.  But now that those are all but finished, I'm getting back on track.  I'm going to be revamping our favorite recipes into Low Sodium versions.  Tonight's breakfast burritos were a perfect start!  I loved having a big win!  And though there was no bacon involved, the homemade 'sausage' was a very tasty and quite acceptable substitute. 

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I used a few kitchen gadgets to accomplish this but you could totally make these without those gadgets ... it just might take you a bit longer than it took me.  There are lots of components, none of them complicated ... and no real measurements, it depends on how many you are cooking for ... you'll work it out !

Potatoes:  Spiralize potatoes.  (You could also chop or chip or whatever!) Shallow fry in hot olive oil til crispy.  Set aside.

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Breakfast "Sausage": 
To 500g pork mince add 1&1/2 tsp pepper, 1 tsp crushed sage (I would have used fresh if I had it), 2 tsp fresh thyme, 1 tsp fresh rosemary (chopped), 1 TBLS brown sugar, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp cayenne, 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes.  Mix.  You could make these into patties but I just tipped the meat as it was into the hot pan that I had just cooked the potatoes in.

Eggs:
Scrambled. Do these at the end so that they are hot when you serve

Tomato Salsa: For this one I diced two tomatoes, 1/4 of a red onion (finely diced), 1 clove of freshly minced garlic, 2 handfuls of fresh coriander,  pepper and the juice of one lime. Mix.

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Flour Tortillas
: I made the dough in the Thermomix but you could mix it by hand.  370g flour, 180ml lukewarm water, 40g olive oil, 1 tsp sodium free baking powder.  Add to TM bowl, blitz speed 5 for 10 seconds.  Knead setting for 2 minutes.  Tip dough out, roll into big ball then divide into 8 equal portions.  Roll with rolling pin.  Fry in hot, dry (no oil) flying pan for 1-2 minutes or until it bubbles, then flip.  The second side never takes as long.  AND the first tortilla never works!  Note to self: make a small one to be 'first one' that goes in the trash!

Top the tortillas with whatever combo of the above ingredients you want ... we add Avocado and Sour Cream too. Fold it up and eat it ! So good !!




Pecan Pie Energy Balls

I got a Thermomix for Christmas. Having been diagnosed with high blood pressure last year, I have had to make a lot of dietary changes ... basically needing to make EVERYTHING (processed) from scratch. I kept thinking that a Thermomix would really help me do that! I was given the opportunity to borrow one from a friend for a few weeks to see they are really all that they are touted to be. They are ... and more! And now, one lives in my kitchen. I'm still learning how to use it to it's full capacity but I use it A LOT!

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One thing I've been wanting to make is energy balls and when I saw a few recipes for Pecan Pie flavoured ones, I HAD to try them.  (I didn't use any one recipe but a  combination of a few.) I've made these a few times since!!  They are amazing.  Or should I say amazeballs? You know, since they are balls ... No?  Ok ... forget I said that.

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Now ... you don't need a Thermomix to make these.  You could totally make them in a food processor. (You might want to do the nuts and dates separately and then add everything else?)

Thermomix measures in grams (right in the machine!!) so I'll put the measurements in grams ... sorry, you'll just have to grab out your kitchen scales!

350g pitted dates
65g rolled oats
30g pure maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract (I use my homemade vanilla)
1 tsp cinnamon
180g pecans

Chuck them all in the Thermomix together ... 12 seconds on speed 7. 
Roll them into balls.  
And that's it!!

Keep in fridge.  Not that they keep very long ... they get gobbled up pretty quick in this house!


Double Choc Chip Cream Cheese Cookies

Seriously? Cream Cheese in a cookie? When I saw this recipe, I knew it would be good!  I was so confident of it's potential goodness that I doubled the recipe!  I'm glad I did!  We now have 60 of these little beauties in our freezer ... ok, maybe not quite 60 as we ate a number of them straight out of the oven ... but many many delicious cookies are packed in little ziplock bags ready for our lunches!
 
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One of my pet peeves with baking cookies is that they always flatten.  These, they didn't budge, not even a little bit!  AND I LOVE THAT! 

Here's how I made mine ... 

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
115g cream cheese, softened
1&1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup organic (if you like) raw sugar
2 eggs
4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 &1/2 cups bakers flour (any flour will do) 
4 teaspoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons baking soda
a couple pinches of salt
250g white choc chips
250g milk choc chips

Preheat oven to 180C/350F.  

In your mixer, beat butter and cream cheese together.  Add sugars and beat some more.  Add eggs and vanilla.  Mix well.  Make sure everything is well combined.

Add remaining ingredients, minus the choc chips.  Mix until just combined.  Don't mix too hard or your cookies will be tough.  Now stir in the choc chips. 

Grab your baking sheets and line with baking paper.  I used a small ice cream scoop and was able to fit 15 cooking on each long rectangular tray.  Next time I think I'll fit more as they don't spread AT ALL! 

Bake for 8-10 minutes.  You want them to start to brown but just a little bit.  Remove to a wire rack.  Make sure you eat a few straight out of the oven ... but not all of them, remember, this makes 60!!

Save some to get you through the week, and freeze the rest, ready for school/work lunches!!


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Blueberry Surprise (Banana Bread with Blueberries)

Blueberry Surprise (Banana Bread with Blueberries)


I found this recipe in a book a friend gave me that had short stories followed by recipes. (Yes, she knows me well!) We almost finished the loaf before I remembered to take a picture. I did not do the step of lining the pan with waxed paper, but the bread stuck to a greased loaf pan. So next time I will do it.



          Recipe in story of the same name by Wanda E. Brunstetter

1/3 c butter, softened
2/3 c honey (I substituted Karo syrup)
2 eggs
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 ¼ c flour
2 t baking powder
½ t salt
¼ t baking soda
1 c blueberries

Cream butter and honey until fluffy. Add eggs, beating well. Add bananas and mix well. Combine dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture, mixing thoroughly. Fold in blueberries.

Line 9x5-inch loaf pan with waxed paper. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake at  350˚ for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool, remove from pan, and gently pull away the waxed paper.

 

Mediterranean Tuna Antipasto Salad - original plus my version

I've been working on using up some free food we were gifted and have stumbled across a few ingredients I don't normally use.  One such ingredient was canned black eyed peas.  Scoured the internet for easy and yummy sounding recipes (cause I don't have time for anything besides easy...and yummy is a must!).  I found this great looking recipe for Mediterranean Tuna Antipasto Salad and decided to try it.  I think the original recipe would be tasty...but there were a few ingredients I didn't want to purchase on this weeks grocery budget - so I modified it...a lot!

If you want to try the original:

- 1 15-19 ounce can beans such as chickpeas, black eyed peas, or kidney beans, rinsed
- 2 5 to 6 ounce cans chunk tuna, drained and flaked
- 1 large red bell pepper, finally diced
- 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
-1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, divided
- 4 teaspoons capers, rinsed
- 1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 1/2 cup lemon juice, divided
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- ground pepper to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 8 cups mixed salad greens

Combine beans, tuna, bell pepper, onion, parsley, capers, rosemary, 1/4 cup lemon juice and 2 tablespoons oil in a medium bowl. Season with pepper. Combine the remaining 1/4 cup lemon juice, 2 tablespoons oil and salt in a large bowl. Add salad greens; toss to coat. Divide the greens among 4 plates. Top each with the tuna salad.

If you want to try my version:

My version - seems to be a hit!
In one bowl: 
Make tuna salad from 4 cans chunk tuna, drained.   I used mayo, mustard, and dill pickle relish (when I make it again I'll probably do more tuna cause it went quick! and none for seconds)

In another bowl combine: 
- 1 can chickpeas, rinsed
- 1 can of  black eyed peas, rinsed
- 1 large red bell pepper, finally diced
- 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
- 2 tomatoes finely diced
- 1/2 cucumber, finely diced
- a couple shakes of dried parsley
-  a couple shakes of dried rosemary
- juice of one lemon
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste

I thought it was a little bland, so added a little bit of green olives diced with some of their juice, a little sprinkle of sugar, and a couple splashes of apple cider vinegar, and the last little splash of balsamic dressing from the fridge...when I make it again I think I'll just go with the balsamic dressing and make it easier!

On each plate, layer mixed salad greens, a generous helping of the veggies (with some of the juice), and top with a scoop of tuna.  

I served garlic/cheese toast beside.

Happy Pantry Cooking!

Easy Baked Custard

If you like creamy, custardy desserts - this is a MUST try.

My mom used to make this pretty frequently when I was a child, but I haven't made it in years.  An excessive amount of eggs sent me hunting for things to make using lots of eggs without having to make a run to the grocery story.  Thus, I rediscovered this gem.

If my aunt hadn't needed her other hand to take the picture, I think this would have gotten two thumbs up!
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

Cream together:
- 2 tablespoons soften butter
- pinch of salt
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Add 6 eggs, one at a time, blending well after each egg.

Slowly and briefly stir in:
-2 cups plus 2 tablespoons milk
-1 teaspoon vanilla

I just added all of the milk and vanilla to my two cup wet measuring cup, turned my mixer down to one notch above stir, slowly poured the milk mixture in, and turned the mixer off as soon as I'd finished pouring.

Place one large pan, a couple medium/small pans, or individual custard cups into bigger baking pans (I used my 9x13 pans) and fill with custard mixture.  Add an inch or two of hot water to bigger baking pans.

Bake at 400 for 10 minutes.  Reduce temperature to 325 degrees F (without opening oven) and bake until knife comes out clean - approximately 45 minutes.  I've never tried the individual custard cups, so don't know if that would take less time.

I like to eat it chilled.





Lentil Curry

Lentils. I have to confess that the thought of eating lentils has never filled me with glee. Mostly I find them bland and vaguely repulsive – suitable only for vegans who have already sold their taste buds to the devil in exchange for a sallow, unhealthy appearance. 

But, people argue passionately, they are so high in fiber and protein! And nutrients! 
To which I reply with an emphatic, “whatever.” Because no matter how excruciatingly healthy something is, I’m not going to actually eat it unless it tastes good.

This story has a point (and a recipe) somewhere, I’m pretty sure.

I’ve had a bag of green lentils in my pantry for about six months. My sister gave me a sausage and lentil soup recipe that I’ve been meaning to try but as it is summer here in the US, I’m not in a raging hurry to fix soup for dinner.

Instead, I stumbled upon a lentil curry recipe that I had at least half of the ingredients for. And Oh.My.Gosh you guys. This is amazeballs. You can find the actual recipe here (which I imagine is pretty good). The following recipe is what I actually did.

I guess the moral of this story is, don’t judge a food by its terrible vegans.

And the other moral would be, go easy on the cayenne or you’ll kill your children mouths.

And the final moral goes a little something like: seriously, make this and get it in your face asap!


LENTIL CURRY
Serves 8
1 bag (about 2 ½ cups) lentils, rinsed well
1 medium onion, diced
3 T butter (or oil)
1 ½ T garam masala
2 generous T cumin
A few good shakes of cayenne pepper (next time I will do one gentle shake)
1 T minced garlic
1 t sea salt
1 can tomato sauce
1 can coconut milk
Cilantro/coriander leaves for garnishing
Rice for serving

  1. Cook lentils according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  2. Melt butter in large pan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for a few minutes until fragrant and golden. Add all the spices (garam masala, cumin, cayenne, garlic and salt) and stir fry for 1-2 minutes (add a little vegetable oil if it looks too dry). Add the tomato sauce, stir and simmer until smooth.
  3. Add the lentils and the coconut milk. Stir to combine and simmer for another 15-20 minutes. Serve over rice and garnish with cilantro.
As with all curries, it is even better the next day!






Crock Pot BBQ Chicken

YUM!

In crock pot or ziplock:
- 3lbs boneless skinless chicken
- 1 tablespoon paprika (I just sprinkled in a bit)
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder (I just sprinkled in a bit.  Could use minced cloves)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 bottle favorite BBQ sauce

Day of cooking:
- add 1 cup of beer

Cook time: 6 to 8 hours LOW

Serving suggestion: Shred chicken and serve on kaiser rolls.  Great topped with cole slaw

Optional: If sauce too soupy (mine was), strain sauce into a small pan, add thickener (such as corn starch) and boil till the sauce reaches desired consistency.

Baby approved!

Crock Pot Freezer Meals Part 3

Here are a few more of my favorite crock pot freezer meals (click here for Part 1 and Part 2)

QUINOA CHILI

In crock pot or zip lock:
- 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
- 1 can rotel
- 4 (16 oz) cans black beans
- 16 oz frozen corn
- 1 large bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder (can use fresh minced)
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- OPTIONAL: 2 large chicken breasts

(I eyeball the spices and adjust to the taste buds of my family)

Day of cooking:
- 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
- 2 1/2 to 3 cups chicken broth

Cook time: 6 to 8 hours LOW

(if used chicken, shred it before serving)

Serving suggestion: cheese, sour cream, favorite chili toppings.


BLACK BEAN AND CHICKEN TACOS

In crock pot or zip lock:

-  1 lb skinless chicken tenders or breasts
- 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 can rotel
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano

Cook time: 4 to 8 hours LOW

Serving suggestions: Shred chicken and serve with corn taco shells and favorite taco toppings and/or slaw.

For slaw:
- 1 1/3 cups shredded red cabbage
- OPTIONAL: 1 red onion thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar or lime juice
- salt and pepper to taste


KOREAN BEEF TACOS

In crock pot or zip lock:
- 10 cloves garlic, minced
- OPTIONAL: 3 inches of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
- 1 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1 cup + 6 tablespoons brown sugar
- 3/4 cup rice vinegar (also called rice wine vinegar)
- 4 tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes

Mix well then add:
- 6 pounds beef

Cook time: 6 to 10 hours LOW  (remove sauce and thicken on stove.  Replace sauce to serve)

Serving suggestion: soft corn or flour tortillas, sour cream, and slaw (also good if you fry the soft corn tortillas)

For slaw:
- 4 teaspoons rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoon sugar
- couple pinches of salt
- - pinch red pepper flakes
-2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons lime juice
- OPTIONAL: 1 handful of cilantro, chopped
- OPTIONAL: 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely minced
- 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
- 2 large carrots, peeled and shredded
- 1/2 head cabbage, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds

To toast sesame seeds, heat a small pan over medium heat.  Add the sesame seeds and stir for about 4 minutes, until golden brown and aromatic.  Remove immediately and set aside.  In a small bowl, mix vinegar, sugar, and salt.  Add onions, mix and let stand about 15 minutes.  Combine remaining ingredients, reserving sesame seeds until just before serving.  Can be made a few hours ahead and kept in fridge, sans sesame seeds.




Crock Pot Freezer Meals Part 2

Here are a few more of my favorite crock pot freezer meals (click here for part 1

CHEESY CHICKEN

In crock pot or zip lock add:
- 2lbs boneless skinless chicken (thighs, breasts, or combo)
- 2 (10.5oz) cans condensed cream of chicken soup
- 1 (10.5oz) can condensed cheddar cheese soup
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder


Cook time: 8  to 10 hours LOW

Serving suggestion: over rice or noodles.

Optional variety: add a little spice or frozen broccoli...can garnish with shredded cheese.







SAUSAGE LENTIL SOUP

Brown:
- 12 to 14 oz sliced kielbasa sausage
- 1 onion diced
-  3 garlic cloves minced (can use more or less to taste.  Sometimes when I'm in a hurry I just use garlic powder)

Add browned meat mixture to crock pot or zip lock along with:
- 2 cups lentils
- 2 carrots (peeled and diced)
- 15 oz can diced tomatoes

Season with favorite Italian spices (I use parsley, oregano, and basil)

Day of cooking: add 2 quarts of water to crock pot.  (can use less if you want it less soupy)

Cook time: 4 to 5 hours HIGH or 8 to 10 hours LOW

Serving suggestion: fresh bread or rice

Serves: 6


SAUSAGE AND BEAN SUPPER

Brown:
- 1lb sausage (can use ground turkey and season)
- 1 onion diced

Drain meat and add to crock pot or zip lock along with:
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1.5 teaspoons dry mustard
- 1 can rotel
- 1 can butter beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

Cook time: 4 to 8 hours LOW

Serving suggestion: shredded cheese over rice

Serves: 4 to 6