The Week in Cooking

Welcome to Sunday! I know it has been a week or so since my last recipe post, but as I promised, I have collected up gift-giving recipes for the month of December.

I will start this week out on Monday with a great recipe for Granola Cereal. My kids just go gaga over this stuff & one recipe doesn't even last for two days!

Tuesday finds us preparing a delicious beer bread. You can mix up all of the dry ingredients, & attach a tag describing how to finish it. It's best made with regular, not light beer, but I make it with what I have on hand, as usual.

On Wednesday we prepare homemade pasta. It's not as hard as you think! Once you master the basic idea, you can mix this stuff up without a recipe at all.

Thursday we prepare frozen wheat bread for gift giving. If you've never been sure about how to freeze bread dough to be cooked later, today's the day you'll learn how. I was a bit skeptical myself, but it turns out really well!

We finish up the week on Friday by making a delicious, fine textured poundcake. I have adapted the recipe so that you can use regular flour instead of the cake flour that is usually called for. This one can get a bit involved, but it turns out great & it just super for giving fresh. I make it as a "dessert" and the whole loaf disappears in no time!

I look forward to hearing what you think about these recipes. I plan on handing this stuff out as gifts this year rather than trying to purchase something special for everyone.

Next week I think I will focus on spice mixes. I might even do two weeks of that since I have so many recipes!

Chili Cheese Sauce

I just put this on store bought tamales from Sam's club. Yum!

1/2 c heavy cream
1/2 c water ( you can substitute 1 cup of half & half for the water & cream)
4 oz cheddar cheese, shredded
1/8 c flour
1/8 t garlic granules
1/8 c chili powder

  1. Mix the cream & water together in a small saucepan & cook just until the edges begin to bubble.
  2. Add the cheese & stir until melted.
  3. Whisk in the flour & cook until thickened, then remove from heat.
  4. Add the garlic granules & chili powder. Mix

Slacking Off

I know, I know. I haven't posted a new dinner in about a week. Does that mean I haven't been cooking dinner? Well, pretty much. Its cold here & I really have been slacking off. I think that one night I simply fed the fresh bread. Even today's post isn't really a dinner as much as it is a condiment. It happens.

In December, I hope to post some foodie gift ideas. I plan on making some spice mixes & baking mixes for Christmas rather than purchasing stuff that will never get used for everyone. In the past, I have baked sweets for my in-laws & they seem to have really liked it. Of course, they may simply be being polite, but I have heard that I'm a good cook. So at least you have that to look forward to. And the people on my gift list will get a sneak peek at their gift possibilities.

In the meantime, try out some of my old recipes or checkout my links list for more ideas.

Treva's Terrific Chicken Bake

My sister, Treva, works about 40 minutes from where she lives, so she is great at coming up with quick, easy, and yummy dishes!

1 onion, chopped
1 poblano pepper, chopped (You could substitute a green pepper if you can't find poblanos)
2 cans cream of chicken condensed soup
2 chicken breasts, cooked & shredded (or 2-14 oz cans boneless chicken)
1 bag corn chips
8 oz cheese, shredded (I used cheddar, but, as always, use what you have)

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Mix chopped veggies, soup, & chicken together
  3. In a 9x11 pan, spread half of the chips.
  4. Top with half of the chicken mixture
  5. Sprinkle with half of the cheese
  6. Repeat the layers with the other half of the ingredients
  7. Bake for 30 minutes. Serve hot!

Stuffed Pepper Cups

6 medium peppers
1 lb. ground beef
1/3 c chopped onion
1/2 t salt
16 oz petite dices tomatoes
1/2 c water
1/2 c uncooked rice
1 t Worcestershire sauce
4 oz Sharp cheddar, shredded

  1. Cut tops off peppers removing seeds & membranes
  2. Brown beef with the onion & salt
  3. add tomatoes, water, rice, & Worcestershire sauce to the beef mix
  4. Simmer until rice is tender (15 min)
  5. Stir in the cheese the stuff each pepper with the mixture
  6. Stand peppers in baking dish
  7. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees 20-25 min

Braised Pork Chops

In this recipe, pork chops are interchangeable with just about any other light meat - chicken breast, turkey breast, etc...

4 boneless pork chops, trimmed of the fat
2/3 c water
2 t Dijon Mustard
2 T Brown Sugar
2 T Worcestershire sauce
2 t garlic salt

  1. Sear meat quickly in a large, oiled pan so that both sides are nicely browned.
  2. Mix the rest of the ingredients together & pour over pork
  3. Cover & simmer until meat is done (45-60 min)
  4. Remove meat from pan
  5. Raise heat & cook sauce until thick
  6. Serve sauce over meat

Oven Option - follow steps 1 & 2. After pork is coated with sauce, remove to a baking pan, cover, & bake at 400 degrees until done (45-60 min). Add baking juices to pan & thicken sauce as above.

Chicken Pot Pie

This is so easy, you won't believe that you've never made it before! You can make this same thing look more elegant by cooking it in a double pie crust instead of just topping it with biscuits.

14-16 oz. Chicken Breast, shredded to cubed
3 c frozen mixed veggies (I like the "soup" mix, but use what you have. You can even use fresh veggies.)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of celery or onion soup
1 c Bisquick
1/2 c Milk
1 large egg

  1. Mix the chicken, veggies & soup well.
  2. Pour into a deep dish pie plate or 9x9 pan
  3. Mix Bisquick, milk, & eggs together
  4. Top veggie mix with Bisquick mix.
  5. Cook at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes.

*When it cools, package this in single serve size freezer bags, press out all the air, & freeze for later!*

Quick Chicken Pan Chicken

4 medium chicken breasts
OR 2 very large chicken breast cut in half
1 clove garlic
2 T olive oil
1 can condensed Cream of Chicken soup
1/2 c white wine (you can sub chicken broth, but it won't be as good!)
14 oz frozen veggies (I like Mirepoix blend, but use what you have)
2 c cooked rice

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pan.
  2. Add garlic & chicken.
  3. Sear chicken until brown on both sides (about 3 min per side)
  4. In a separate bowl, combine win & soup.
  5. Add veggies to hot pan.
  6. Stir in soup mixture.
  7. Serve over rice!

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

4 medium potatoes; scrubbed & coarsely chopped
3 c chicken broth (or enough to cover the potatoes)
1 c milk
2 T Bacon pieces
4 oz bar cheddar cheese; shredded
2 T dried chives
1/4 c sour cream

  1. Place potatoes in a large pot, pour in enough broth to cover then add the milk
  2. Bring pot to a boil then reduce to a hard simmer & let cook 10 minutes
  3. Lightly crush boiled potatoes in broth with a potato masher or large wooden spoon
  4. Add half of the bacon, half of the cheese, & half of the chives
  5. Serve in individual bowls topped with the remaining bacon, cheese, chives, & sour cream.
For a meatless meal night, just omit the bacon!

Judy's Pork Chops

6-8 boneless pork chops, trimmed of fat
3 T olive Oil
1 c Flour
1 t Pepper
1 t Salt
12 oz Chicken Gravy ( I like Heinz HomeStyle brand)
12 oz Beef Gravy

  1. Mix Flour, salt, & pepper.
  2. Dredge each pork chop in flour mix, lightly coating each side.
  3. Brown both sides of each pork chop in hot olive oil then place in large (9 x13) baking dish
  4. Pour both jars of gravy over chops.
  5. Cover & bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes until pork is well done.

Family Chicken

6 chicken breasts (or however many you need)
2 T Olive oil
1 clove Garlic, minced
1/2 c White wine
1/2 c Chicken broth
1/2 c Grated Parmesan cheese
1 c Italian croutons, smashed to crumbs

  1. Quickly sear chicken until brown in the hot oil & garlic.
  2. Place chicken in a baking dish.
  3. Pour the wine & chicken broth over the chicken
  4. Sprinkle grated parm over each chicken breast
  5. Cover & bake for 30 minutes or until chicken is almost done.
  6. Uncover & bake for 10-15 minutes longer until chicken in done & cheese is slightly browned.
  7. Remove from oven & sprinkle lightly with croutons
  8. Serve & enjoy!

FLAVOR FAVORITE - for a complete meal in a pinch, serve with rice pilaf & bacon green beans.

Devin's Lemon Herb Chicken

My darling husband made this. Yours can, too!

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (4 oz each)
1T olive oil
2T minced fresh basil (I use one of the tubes that you find near fresh herbs at the grocery)
4 cloves minced garlic
2t lemon juice (really, break out your juicer & juice one of the lemon halves. It will be worth it)
1t minced fresh rosemary (or 1/2 t minced dried rosemary slightly crushed to release flavor)
1/2 t freshly grated lemon peel
Dash Pepper

2 t cornstarch
1/4 c water
  1. Brown both sides of chicken in oil over medium heat.
  2. Add the broth, basil, garlic, lemon juice, rosemary, lemon peel, and pepper.
  3. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, & cook for 10 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink
  4. Remove chicken & keep warm
  5. Stir cornstarch & water until smooth & stir into the pan juices.
  6. Bring to a boil & cook & stir 1-2 minutes or until slightly thickened.
  7. Serve chicken on bed of rice & top with lemon herb sauce.

The BEST Steak Marinade

1/2 c soy sauce
1/3 c vegetable oil
2 T brown sugar
1/4 c Worcestershire Sauce
4 cloves garlic
2 T minced chives
1 1/2 t ground black pepper
2 t balsamic vinegar
  1. Mix it all up everything but the vinegar.
  2. Take out 1/4 cup of the marinade
  3. Stick the steak into the larger portion of marinade & soak for 30 minutes
  4. In a separate bowl, add the vinegar to the 1/4 cup reserved marinade
  5. Cook the steak to medium rare.
  6. When the steak is done, pour the reserved marinade over it & let set 10 minutes

*FLAVOR FAVORITE - mix a whole stick of melted butter & 8 oz of softened cream cheese then stir in herbs (sage, oregano, onion, parsley, whatever you like). Let set then use scoops of the butter mixture to top the steak!*