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Lentil Tacos

Posted on 2006.04.26 at 12:30
I'm blatantly copying a recipe posted on another website by an anonymous user. If I knew the person's name I'd give them credit. I really would like to try this sometime!

I boil down my lentils in water with a bay leaf and spices (often oregano). Sometimes I use a beef bouillon cube rather than spices. Add water if they cook down but are not yet soft enough. If you do just add oregano and spices, then be sure to salt to taste when done. You won't need to if you use the bouillon.

I tried it once with a little tomatoe sauce and taco spices but found I really preferred just the lentils. Dh was shocked at how much he likes this wierd vegetarian variation--he actually prefers it because it tastes lovely and is not greasy.

Sorry I don't have exact amounts--I cook many things by feel--this is one I just throw together without really checking. It's easy to do--the lentils take 30-40 minutes to simmer to softness.

Looks good! 


Haven't posted lately...

Posted on 2006.04.26 at 12:28
It was just survival while I was sick, and now I'm back to doing a little cooking again. I'm a lot busier now that the kids are being homeschooled, so my posts will probably consist more of new tiny ideas I want to remember, and a recipe list of things that look good to me. At least for a while.


Can't wait to try this!

Posted on 2006.01.25 at 16:05

I found this recipe for Gyrolls at allrecipes.com by accident.  I already made one dish with Lamb, so I think I'll use ground beef instead.  Here's another recipe for Beef Gyrolls.  Looks good to me!  Jason makes a great original Gyro with flat-bread and Cucumber Sauce...  I'll have to post about it someday soon...  but this looks like a simple alternative that we'll like!



More Chicken!

Posted on 2006.01.25 at 12:07
Chicken, chicken... here's a few more favorite Chicken recipes!

This first recipe was given to me on one of my favorite Web-boards. I call it Churchlady Chicken because the gal who gave it to me went by that name. Another name for it is Middle Eastern Chicken & Tomatoes. Now... I have been a tomato-hater for most of my life. I don't like chunks, but sauce is just fine. This is the first recipe that I've actually taken a bowl and eaten JUST the TOMATOES with a spoon after the chicken was gone. My kids like it too... and they are STILL tomato haters!

Ferakh bel Tamatem
sauteed chicken breasts with tomatoes
Serves 4

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
4 boned chicken breast halves, with or without skin (I use skinless boneless breasts successfully)
salt and pepper
4 cloves garlic, crushed (add more if you like lots of garlic)
1 pound tomatoes, peeled and cut into small pieces (I use 2 small cans of diced tomatoes just fine)
1-2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 to 2 teaspoons cinnamon (to taste)

Heat the butter with the oil in a skillet. Put in the chicken breasts, season with salt and pepper, and brown them lightly on both sides. Add the garlic, tomatoes, sugar, and cinnamon. Cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the chicken is done but still juicy.

This dish tastes best when using the skillet, but I LOVE cooking in the Crock-pot. Just dump everything in, no pre-browning necessary and cook High 3-4 hours.

Traditionally this is served over Couscous (which I love) but if you don't have any, Rice works great!

Here is another family favorite!

Santa Fe Chicken & Rice

2 TBSP Butter
4 Chicken Breasts
1 medium onion
1 cup Salsa
1 1/2 cans Chicken Broth (or 3 cups water and Chicken boullion)
3 cups White Rice
1/2 cup Corn (I don't add this because my husband doesn't like corn.. strange guy!)
1 cup grated Cheddar Cheese (or more...to taste)

In a large skillet, sautee Onions in Butter until soft and slightly browned. If using *regular* rice, add at this point and sautee until just beginning to brown. Add Salsa, Chicken Broth and corn, mix well. Add Chicken breasts and simmer 15-20 minutes or until chicken is tender. If using Minute Rice, add rice and simmer 5 minutes longer. Remove from heat, top with cheddar cheese and serve!

Sometimes when I make this dish, I cut up the chicken and serve it as a *one dish meal*. It also tastes delicious if you overfry it, stirring constantly after the normal cooking time until the moisture is gone and the rice is slightly brown/blackened.


An bhfuil spúnóg agat?

Posted on 2006.01.22 at 15:05

We took a trip to Ireland without ever leaving our home.  Imagination is a wonderful thing.  We started with a traditional Irish breakfast.  Nice and hearty... the Irish breakfast like kings!  Or... rather...  I thought we could start with a traditional Irish breakfast until I started reading more about it.  The eggs, sausages (bangers), Irish bacon (rashers) fried tomatoes and Irish soda bread would have been a flavorful morning meal for sure, if it weren't for the necessity of including Black and White breakfast puddings to the pan for authenticity's sake.   After reading more about Black Pudding (a sausage-shaped mixture of pigs blood, oats and various spices) and White Pudding (a variation of black pudding, substituting liver for the pig's blood)~ much like liverwurst I'd imagine [which I wouldn't really mind.]  I decided to spare my family the breakfast portion of the day and focus solely on the evening meal.

I skipped ahead through the hours in my mind, imagining the Irish landscape as the air began to chill and the fog rolled in.  Walking along the cobbled path, or dirt lane with my rough knotted walking stick in hand, feeling the dampness as it soaks through my coat and chills my skin.  I can see my breath as I stamp my feet before heading finally into the cottage after checking the livestock and final chores for the evening. 

The warmth of the fire and the aroma of Lamb Stew creates an inviting atmosphere as my mouth begins to water in anticipation.  A good hearty meal to warm weary bones from the inside out.

At which point my imagination fades and I settled upon making an Authentic Irish Lamb Stew and Home-baked Beer Bread to serve for my family's dinner.  It turned out well, although I personally will omit the bay leaf next time.  There was a certain taste to it that I didn't like, and my husband had to pinpoint it for me.  Every time I've cooked something with a bay leaf I didn't like it.  I did like the flavor of the Lamb and Vegetables, and it was a great experience.  We even invited a red-haired guest for good measure! Here's a recipe I got from an Irish friend. 

Authentic Irish Lamb Stew

1 1/2 lbs thickly sliced bacon, diced
6 lbs boneless lamb shoulder, cut in 2" cubes (I used 3 lb bone-in lamb and it was excellent!)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 c flour
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
1/2 c water
4 c beef broth
2 tsp sugar
4 c carrots, diced
2 onions cut into bite sized chunks
3 potatoes, cubed
1 tsp thyme
2 bay leaves (which I will omit next time)
1 c beer (you can use O'Douls non-alcholic)

Saute bacon in large frying pan; remove bacon and save drippings in the pan to fry the lamb in.

In a very large bowl, mix flour, salt and pepper. Add the lamb and toss it to coat it evenly. Brown the lamb in the bacon drippings. Remove the meat and set aside.

Add garlic and the 1 chopped onion to the frying pan and saute until onion is golden. Add 1/2 cup water and mix well with everything scraping the side of the pan.

If you choose, place all ingredients in Crock-pot on High for 4-6 hours or Low 8-10 hours

Put the cooked lamb into a large stockpot. Add the garlic & onion, bacon, beef broth and sugar.
Cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours or until the lamb is very tender. Add carrots and remaining ingredients and simmer for another 20-30 mintues until the carrots and potatoes are tender. 

Discard bay leaves before serving.  Makes about 10 bowls of stew. Tastes even better the next day.

This beer bread was my favorite part of the meal.  It was absolutely delicious!  I'd had some beer bread at a very trendy Irish (family)pub that has been a favorite place for our family.  The restaurant uses a real wood-fire for much of their cooking/baking.  I honestly liked this recipe, cooked in my oven, as well as the specialty beer bread from this restaurant!  Mmmm.... tasty!

Homemade Beer Bread

  • 1 Tbsp Baking Soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/3 cup Sugar
  • 12 oz (1 can) Beer
  • 3 Tbsp of melted butter (for use after baking)

Mix dry ingredients in large bowl, add beer and mix with wooden spoon.  Batter will be sticky.  Pour into greased loaf pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes.  After baking, drizzle immediately with 3 TBSP of melted butter.  Bread will be crusty on the outside and soft on the inside.

I had a nice "Wind on the Moors" CD, but forgot to put it on during the meal, and I also forgot my little list of Irish sayings we were going to learn... to make it seem even more authentic.  After our meal Allison tried to learn how to dance a nice little Irish jig. 

I can't wait until our next THEME dinner!

As the Irish would say...

May your glass be ever full
  May the roof over your head be always strong,
    And may you be in heaven
      Half an hour before the devil knows you're dead.
      - Irish drinking toast



Don't forget the fruit!

Posted on 2006.01.19 at 19:40

Don't laugh at how simple this entry is. Most of us have to be reminded to add fruits to our diet on a regular basis. We have a lot of different eating styles at our house.  It definitely makes things interesting, and helps me balance the types of food we serve.  This little entry is for my little boy who would live solely on fruits and vegetables if I would allow it.

We serve this particular mix of fruit regularly (year-round), as dessert. It goes faster than cake or cookies!

Matthew's Favorite Fresh Fruit Salad Mix:

1 Small Pineapple (We like the Hawaiian Gold because they're sweeter...)
2 Ripe Mangoes
2 large bunches of seedless red grapes
1 peach
1 Nectarine
1 Firm, crisp apple (I always buy Galas... everybody's got a favorite)

Dice, mix, chill... serve!

Silly as it may sound, slicing a whole pineapple took me a while to figure out.  There's a million ways to do it.  The way we do it at our house is... 

Twist the top off the pineapple and slice lengthwise into quarters. 
Cut off the core of the pineapple

You should have something that looks similar to this:

Before I use my knife to cut off the rind, I score the pineapple lengthwise into thirds, being careful not to cut through the rind. Then I score the pineapple into slices, so when I cut the pineapple from the rind (as the picture shows) it falls into the bowl already diced just right for fruit salad!

Cutting a Mango is also tricky if you've never done it before.  Click on the link and it will show you just how I do it. 




Garlic Meatballs and Sauce

Posted on 2006.01.18 at 18:52
About every other week we take a trip to Costco. With a bigger family, we actually USE the larger quantities before they spoil. But with ground beef that takes a little planning. It's not uncommon find me on a Sunday night sitting on the couch mixing and shaping meatballs, or pre-cooking meat for the coming week's meals.

One time I decided to make meatballs from an entire 8 LB package of ground beef. After we'd eaten our share for dinner (maybe 1/3?) I had planned on splitting the rest in half and freezing for two upcoming meals. I had the rest simmering in the crock-pot and when I finally had time to put them away I discovered an EMPTY pot! Someone... NOT ME... had eaten 6 LBS of meatballs in one evening!

Here's a recipe SO adaptable it's silly. I've substituted different types of cereal, dried bread, unflavored oats, crackers or whatever I have on hand, but I usually use Corn Flakes. Sometimes I don't have carrots, but you can use any vegetable in it's place, like potato, turnip, zucchini (if my husband ever CAUGHT me at that one he'd be upset but he hasn't noticed yet)

This recipe takes a little time, but the results are delicious!

Meatballs and Sauce

3 lbs of ground beef
2 eggs
1 cup crushed Corn Flakes
4-5 large leaves fresh basil, chopped
6-8 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 carrot, grated
1 tsp pepper

Mix together all ingredients thoroughly and shape into 1-2" balls. Brown meatballs in large skillet turning constantly until all raw edges are "sealed" (brown). (you can add a little olive oil to the pan to keep it from sticking to the pan) The center of the meatballs will still be very pink at this point.

Add Sauce (recipe below) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for a minimum of 1 hour, or longer if you have time...

Serve over noodles, in Sub Sandwiches, or simply as-is in bowls.


1 can Diced Tomatoes
2 cans stewed, italian style tomatoes

Optional to taste:
Fresh garlic ~2-3 cloves, minced~ (sometimes I add it, sometimes I don't...)
Fresh Basil 1 TBSP, chopped

Place all desired ingredients in blender and pulse until desired consistency. If you blend it too long it will be runny... We like ours well blended, as I have a couple tomato-phobic children, but there are still small chunks of tomato in ours. I've never had a single complaint from the tomato-haters about this sauce, they LOVE it! (this is NOT a typical spaghetti sauce and should not be thickened or sweetened).


Tastes Like Chicken!

Posted on 2006.01.17 at 10:53
Dinnertime with a lot of little ones underfoot can be a busy time. Especially if Dad's getting home at the same time. Their hungry tummies smell food while you're cooking it and just can't understand why they can't eat NOW! Or, if they do... they want a snack because 15 minutes seems like a lifetime when you're smelling all these good foods and you're told you have to wait! I have begun making a meal plan for the week so I don't have that last-minute "what should I make?" or "We're out of ONE ingredient to make THAT, now what?" Next, I use my crock pot. MOST of my recipes are adaptable to the crock-pot, so I can cook dinner during that lull time in the morning after breakfast and before lunch.

My first set of recipes can be cooked in the oven, as stated... or plopped into the crockpot as long as you have at least 3-4 hours before dinner. Today let's talk about Easy Chicken Recipes!

Is there a wrong way to cook chicken? I don't think so! It's so easy... TOO easy. It's a staple dish in our diet. Today I'm going to post my favorite EASY chicken recipes that take NO thought whatsoever. The funny part about that is... People keep calling and asking me for the recipes! You'll laugh when you see how SIMPLE these are. (I have to say that I like complex too... I have some favorite recipes that require more effort than these, but let's stick with simple today.)

Easy Crockpot BBQ Chicken

Chicken Breasts or tenderloins
(as much or as little as you want, I use 6 frozen breasts)
BBQ sauce (bottled or homemade) It takes me 1 bottle of premade sauce, or 2 if I want leftover sauce.

Put the chicken in the crock-pot and cover with BBQ sauce. (you can use ANY type, even a whole chicken) Cook on high for 3-4 hours, or low 6-8 hours. Serve as-is or over rice.

(Sometimes I'll add two cans of Texas Ranch-Style Beans to the pot for a little different flavor (a brand name, NOT Cool-ranch flavored...)

Ranch Chicken

2-3 TBSP Butter chopped into small cubes OR melted.
6 Skinless Boneless Chicken Breasts or Tenderloins

Best~ 8 oz (1 cup) Sour Cream and 1/2 pkg Ranch dressing mix
Easy~ 1 cup Premade Ranch dressing

Oven directions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place butter in the bottom of a casserole dish. Evenly place Chicken in a single layer and top with Sour Cream. Sprinkle dressing mix evenly over chicken and sour cream. Cover casserole dish with foil and bake for 40 minutes or until center is done.

Crockpot: Layer everything in the crockpot as you would for oven baking. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low 6-8 hours.

Breaded Parmesan Chicken

6 Chicken breasts or 10-12 Tenderloins (thawed or fresh)
1/3 cup Italian Seasoned Bread Crumbs
1/3 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 tsp garlic powder
1-2 eggs
3 TBSP melted Butter

Mix Bread Crumbs, Parmesan Cheese and garlic powder in shallow bowl. Pour melted butter in the bottom of a casserole dish. Dip chicken in lightly beaten egg, then coat with Bread Crumb mixture. Place breaded chicken in a single layer in casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes (15 minutes for tenderloins). Turn chicken and bake for another 20 minutes (10-15 minutes for tenderloins). Serve as is, or drizzle with hot marinara sauce.

Note: I haven't made this in a long time. I really liked it, but it was very heavy compared to our other chicken dishes. I'll have to make it again soon and see if I can tweak it.

I have a lot more chicken recipes... one of which I've shared on my other blog which has become an absolute favorite. I call it "Churchlady Chicken" or "Middle Eastern Chicken and Tomatoes" I'll post the recipe here another day, as it doesn't really fit with these recipes.


A bowl of warmth to chase away winter's chill

Posted on 2006.01.15 at 15:27

“Good soup is one of the prime ingredients of good living. For soup can do more to lift the spirits and stimulate the appetite than any other one dish.” ~ Louis P. De Gouy

One thing I love is soup. All kinds. Thick and hearty, rich and creamy, or even just a rich flavorful broth.  I love it because it's so adaptable.  Soup can be made from a proven recipe, or from the contents of your freezer. 

The weather has been so cool, damp and rainy lately that I've made several new soups.  There's nothing like the tantalizing aroma of hot steaming soup when you walk through the door from the cool night air.

Here is a new favorite:

French Onion Soup

I made this soup two nights ago (after looking at multiple recipes and making my own from their combined wisdom), expecting small children to turn up their noses at their most notorious of  hated foods... ONIONS!  What I got were children asking for THIRD helpings!  The bread and cheese are *not* optional ingredients. 

  • 1 Extra Large Walla Walla Sweet Onion, sliced and separated into rings (mine was the equivalent of about 3 medium onions)
  • 1 Medium Yellow Onion, sliced into rings.
  • 3 Tbsp Butter
  • 4 cans Beef Broth (I haven't graduated to making my own stock, plus... who has time?)
  • 1-2 Tbsp. Worchestershire Sauce (to taste... I think I used 2 Tbsp)
  • 1 loaf of French bread sliced
  • 1 lb. Sliced Mozzarella cheese, (authentic recipes call for Swiss, or Parmesan) enough to cover each slice of bread. 

Sautee Onions with butter until soft.  Add beef broth and Worchestershire sauce and simmer 20 minutes or until flavors are blended.   Ladle hot soup into oven safe bowls, and place a slice of bread, topped with a generous slice of cheese, and place in oven, on broil, until cheese is bubbly. (Or simply place the bread and cheese on a cookie sheet and transfer to bowls when cheese is bubbly.)

Serve immediately.  Serves 6 


Breakfast for Dinner

Posted on 2006.01.14 at 23:18
This is probably one of my kids' favorite Saturday night treats. We normally have a very busy day on Saturday, either out of the house having fun, or spending the day in our pj's (figuratively). Either way, it's so out of the norm that Breakfast for Dinner is an easy, quick dinner that doesn't involve much planning.

Tonight we had my signature "We're Out of Buttermilk" Pancakes and my husband's Mexican Pizza Omelettes. We also had the traditional milk, juice, cold cereal, toast and oatmeal available, but everybody went straight for the stacks hot steaming pancakes, made in 3 different flavors: traditional, raspberry, and cinnamon.

I created this recipe because we love buttermilk pancakes, but nobody in my house is about to go buy a quart of real buttermilk just for pancakes... and it's not something we ever have on hand. These can be made with what's in your cupboard, and are VERY easy. I kept changing the recipe until I've made it just the way we like them. These take the "pan"cake.

Shynie's "Out of Buttermilk" Pancakes:

2 1/4 cups milk
3 Tablespoons white vinegar
2 eggs
4 Tablespoons melted butter

2 cups flour
2 Tablespoons BROWN sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl, set aside. Beat together milk, vinegar, eggs and melted butter. Heat griddle or frying pan to medium-high heat. When griddle is ready, blend wet and dry ingredients until JUST blended. (it will be slightly lumpy) Depending on what size pancakes you like, scoop 1/4 - 1/2 cup batter on heated griddle and brown on both sides. Serve hot.

Variations: Naturally all the typical variations can be made, but we like substituting 1/3 cup raspberry juice concentrate for 1/3 cup of the milk.

I like to make cinnamon pancakes by adding a simple Tablespoon or two of cinnamon to the plain batter. You can also make apple cinnamon pancakes by using 1-2 Tablespoons ground cinnamon, 1/2 cup applesauce, reducing the milk to 2 cups and eliminating the butter.

Sometime, just for fun, try adding M&M's to your batter, chocolate chips or berries. Use your imagination, and share your favorite "additions"!

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