“Yankee Pot Roast” Meatloaf with Brown Gravy, a Quick Family Meal

On August 13, 2013, by Glenda Embree- BusyAtHome

.When I need a fast and easy solution for a delicious sit-down dinner, I don’t always have time to run to the store for a long list of specialty herbs and spices to create that “something special” dish.  Tuesday was one of those nights where I wanted to make something wonderful for my family, but [...]

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.When I need a fast and easy solution for a delicious sit-down dinner, I don’t always have time to run to the store for a long list of specialty herbs and spices to create that “something special” dish.  Tuesday was one of those nights where I wanted to make something wonderful for my family, but the time I had to complete it was very limited. I also wanted the flavors to be exciting and different from the ordinary.  Do you get bored, cooking the same things, week after week?  Me, too.  I like to mix things up sometimes and make something to really “wake up” our taste buds.  I’m the first to admit that unique and flavorful doesn’t usually happen in the time-crunch of preparing quick family meals, but that WAS what I wanted.   That’s when I remembered the Kraft Recipe Makers in the pantry.  I was fortunate enough to be selected to try them out at home, so I decided that this would definitely be the night.  The only real problem was that I had purchased the Yankee Pot Roast Variety.  Not only did I not have a pot roast, I had hamburger thawed for dinner.  Hmmm…..A little creative license and voila!  Something delicious, something simple, something different from the ordinary, Tuesday night fare –I decided to incorporate all those special seasonings and brown gravy in a meatloaf.  Let’s just say, I MIGHT be a genius!  :)  Seriously, it was wonderful!

Yankee Pot Roast Meatloaf made with Kraft Recipe Makers #shop

The menu? Yankee Pot Roast Meatloaf with brown gravy, baked potatoes with butter and sour cream and sliced heirloom tomatoes from the garden. YUM!

You get me, right?  You’ve all felt the same as me, haven’t you?  Wanting to create something new and different, without blowing the budget and in a limited amount of time, can’t be unique to me, alone.  :)  I think we all want to create meals that are nutritious, delicious and filled with the home-cooked love that creates warm and fun-filled memories around the dinner table.  Some days, that’s an overwhelming task, with all the other jobs we have to juggle.  Some days, we just need a little help.  Wouldn’t it be nice to have everything you needed, just waiting on the shelf in the pantry, so you could create an appealing family meal, quickly, and with ease?

Herbs, spices and seasonings are the secret to elevating an easy meal into something special. Those ingredients can be costly, however, and they lose their potency if not used within 6 months to a year.  I typically keep quite a few on hand and use them, often, but if you don’t use them regularly and understand all the ways they can be used, it might not make sense to purchase them individually.  For instance, a small jar of cardamom or saffron, if you would only use it once, is incredibly expensive; and what a shame to have to throw out such gorgeous spices if they weren’t used up before they lost their “flavor power”.  And even for me, it isn’t uncommon to start a recipe and find that I’m out of something.  Kraft has a solution for those who want a well-seasoned dish, without the expense of individual seasonings and the time investment to run to the store for the ones that aren’t in your pantry collection.  Kraft Recipe Makers, added to your choice of protein, will produce a deliciously-seasoned and satisfying main dish that has the traditional flavor of slow-simmered, love- and herb-infused recipes. You supply the love and let Recipe Makers develop the flavor, either in your crock pot, on your stove top or in the oven.

Kraft Recipe Makers: Yankee Pot Roast #shop

This was the only thing I needed to create our fabulously, flavorful main dish. And while it wasn’t the traditional Yankee Pot Roast, that most would expect, the flavors, aromas and home-cooked “feel” that it created made us feel like we were sharing something that special. :)

Kraft Recipe Makers come in a variety of flavors:  New England Pot Roast, Chicken Cacciatore, Chicken Bruschetta Tacos, Asian Fish Tacos, Hickory BBQ-Beef, Tex-Mex Chicken Fajita, Three Cheese Chicken Florentine, Sweet and Sour Chicken and Verde Chicken Enchiladas. Each variety contains a simmer sauce and a finishing sauce which busy cooks looking to create flavorful, appealing meals for their families, can use to “dress up” their own fresh meat and produce.  Recipe Makers reduce prep time and help to get dinner on the table quickly, whether you’ve allowed it to cook in the crock pot all day, while you were working; or decide to whip it up quickly on the stove top or in the oven.  There is a flavor profile to manage any craving and I’m delighted to say after using the New England Pot Roast variety, in a rather unconventional way, on Tuesday night, that we enjoyed something new and delicious thanks to Kraft Recipe Makers AND I will definitely be trying some of their other varieties.

“Yankee Pot Roast” Meatloaf with Brown Gravy

“Yankee Pot Roast” Meatloaf with Brown Gravy

Ingredients

  • 1 box Kraft Recipe Makers, Yankee Pot Roast variety
  • 2 lbs. ground beef

Instructions

  1. Remove the sauce and gravy packets from the Kraft Recipe Makers box. Set aside the gravy, for now.
  2. Add the bottle of sauce to the hamburger, in a large bowl and mix to be sure it is thoroughly combined.
  3. Divide your seasoned meat into six equal portions and shape them into elongated ovals - little, mini meatloaves. (You could just as easily make one large meatloaf, but there's something "elegant" about individual entrees. Plus, the small ones cook a little faster.)
  4. Place the mini meatloaves in a cast iron skillet and sear them on all sides, using your stove top.
  5. Once they are browned on all sides, pop them in a 350 degree oven.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until meatloaf is done all the way through.
  7. Divide the contents of the gravy packet, evenly, over the tops of the six meatloaves and return to the oven for 5 minutes to heat the gravy. (This is the only part of my recipe that I think I will be changing up. Next time, I will heat the gravy in a sauce pan on the stove and spoon it over the meatloaves as they are served, as it got just a little too thick, heating in the oven. Plus, the wonderful dripping and pooling of gravy around the meatloaf on the plate is a better presentation.)
  8. Serve with your favorite side dishes and veggies.
  9. Enjoy!
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So, what’s for dinner?  Is it flavor-packed and “calling” out to your family with its delicious aroma, to come gather around the dinner table and make some memories?  It doesn’t take much time and it doesn’t have to cost a lot to do it.  For more information and tasty recipe ideas, check out Kraft’s Facebook page or their Recipe Makers page.

Crunchy, Delicious and Simple Refrigerator Dill Pickles

On August 12, 2013, by Glenda Embree- BusyAtHome

What are the snacks you most enjoy giving your kids?  We all love it when they’ll eat a piece of fruit or some raw veggies, but when they’re wanting something that doesn’t “seem” healthy to them, do you have an arsenal of snack ideas that they love and you are comfortable will still offer at [...]

What are the snacks you most enjoy giving your kids?  We all love it when they’ll eat a piece of fruit or some raw veggies, but when they’re wanting something that doesn’t “seem” healthy to them, do you have an arsenal of snack ideas that they love and you are comfortable will still offer at least a modicum of nutrition?  One on the list at our house is pickles.  My kids (and my husband) never met a pickle they didn’t like.  :)  I’m a dill girl, all the way, but the rest of the family are hardcore pickle aficionados, looking forward to any and all varieties — bread and butter pickles, sweet pickles, dill pickles, pickled peppers, pickle relish and on,  and on ……  When I was unable to supply any other variety, from our pantry, I have one child who actually filled a cereal bowl with hamburger dill chips to go down and watch a movie!  lol  I told you… they love pickles.  With such a huge fan following, you would think that pickles would be something I have made often, but I have to confess, I haven’t.  My first attempts at canning pickles, yielded mushy, definitely un-crisp disappointment and I haven’t braved it again, in awhile.

homemade pickles

Crunchy, delicious homemade pickles.

However, I’m finally getting such a good yield from the garden and I had an opportunity to test out Heinz’s new Raw Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar, so I’m cinching up my apron and diving in one more time.  The difference this time is that I’m trying a refrigerator pickle, instead of canning them.  I’m hopeful, and to tell the truth, more than just a little excited about making a good pickle, at home, with my own fresh ingredients.  My inspiration came from a blog called At Home My Way.  I loved the idea of a cooled brine being poured over the pickles and it makes sense to me that this will help them maintain their crispness, as opposed to covering them in boiling brine and then dropping the jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Heinz Vinegar

Heinz Apple Cider Vinegars- regular and raw unfiltered

Heinz is a brand that I have known since childhood, and when it comes to vinegar, it’s the brand you’ll find in my pantry.  Whether it’s for making my own cleaning supplies or cooking, Heinz Vinegar has always proven to be a quality product.  I love their White Cleaning Strength Vinegar and always have Apple Cider vinegar on hand for marinades, dressings and cooking.  I was really excited when I heard that they now make Raw Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar, which is great for cooking, but may also have health benefits.  Raw Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar is made from pulverized apples, just like plain Apple Cider Vinegar, but it has not been strained and filtered or pasteurized.  It still contains the “mother” which grows during the fermentation process and makes it the most natural and wholesome form of vinegar.  Prior to this, we had to order Raw Unfiltered Vinegar online, or drive into the city, to purchase it at a health food store.  It’s great news to know that most Walmart stores will now carry this healthy product and I can buy it right in town, at an affordable price.

For my foray into making refrigerator pickles, I used Heinz Raw Unfiltered Vinegar, to flavor and preserve my cucumbers.  I hope you’ll enjoy this recipe as much as we do! It makes a full gallon of pickles and I packed them into a gallon jar, but you could just as easily divide them into 4 quart jars.  I would recommend using the wide-mouthed jars to make them easier to get in and out of the jars.

Refrigerator Dill Pickles

Refrigerator Dill Pickles

Ingredients

  • 1 gallon pickling cucumbers (That was about 2 dozen cucumbers, for me.)
  • 1 large onion, diced or sliced, as you prefer
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons mustard seed
  • 12-14 heads fresh dill (I love dill and lean more toward the "more is better" side.)
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 cups Heinz Apple Cider Vinegar or Raw Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/3 cup canning salt (Regular salt will not work for this.)

Instructions

  1. Wash and slice the cucumbers in half, lengthwise. I think it would work fine to leave them whole, if you prefer or to slice them into chips. Slicing them was just my personal preference.
  2. Place the dill in the bottom of the jar.
  3. Alternate adding cucumbers and onion to the jar until it is full.
  4. Add the vinegar and water to a medium saucepan.
  5. Add the sugar and salt to the pan.
  6. Mix the mustard seed and garlic into the vinegar mixture and bring it all to a boil.
  7. Heat the brine until the sugar and salt are completely dissolved.
  8. Remove from heat and let brine cool. It's important for the crispness of your pickles, for the brine to be completely cool.
  9. Pour cooled brine over the cucumbers and put the lid on the jar, tightly.
  10. Let the jar set on the counter for three days, turning the jar upside down, back and forth or giving it a gentle shake, occasionally. After three days put the jar in the fridge overnight and the next day, you can begin enjoying your pickles. Yum!
  11. Store pickles in the refrigerator.
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You can learn even more about Heinz Apple Cider Vinegar and Raw Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar on the Heinz website, and you can get some fantastic recipes and ideas for using vinegar in your own kitchen by checking out their Recipe Page and Pinterest boards.

Another of our favorite recipes using Apple Cider Vinegar is Chicken Teriyaki.  What are some of your favorite recipes using vinegar?  What other uses do you love it for?

Homemade Chicken Teriyaki

Homemade Chicken Teriyaki, made with Heinz Apple Cider Vinegar. Click the link above, or this picture, to get the recipe.

Chicken Pot Pie Muffins

On August 6, 2013, by Glenda Embree- BusyAtHome

.Whether you create them as a breakfast-on-the-go or serve them with a perfect salad for dinner, these simple, delicious and easy little muffins are loaded with nutrition and flavor.  They pack a great protein punch and they are incredibly versatile, adapting easily to what you have in the freezer or pantry. The baking mix is [...]

.Whether you create them as a breakfast-on-the-go or serve them with a perfect salad for dinner, these simple, delicious and easy little muffins are loaded with nutrition and flavor.  They pack a great protein punch and they are incredibly versatile, adapting easily to what you have in the freezer or pantry. The baking mix is made with whole grain flour and laced with organic coconut oil.  The filling is roasted white meat chicken and all the veggies you can gather in the kitchen. Not only are they easy and loved by the entire family, these will freeze like a dream!  So, I can make them ahead and just pull out what we need.  I’m going to have to make several different varieties, I think.  DELISH!

Chicken Pot Pie Muffins

Chicken Pot Pie in a muffin! Well, almost. :) There’s no gravy, but lots of tender delicious chicken and veggies with cheese. I served them with a fresh zucchini “pasta” salad!  Yum!

 

Chicken Pot Pie Muffins

Chicken Pot Pie Muffins

Ingredients

    For Batter:
  • 1 cup Healthy Homemade Baking Mix
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 eggs
  • For Filling:
  • 1 cup cooked boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced small
  • 1 cup raw russet potatoes, peeled and diced small
  • 1 cup veggies of choice (I used celery, red bell pepper, and red onion.)
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar or Colby cheese
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Mix together baking mix, milk and eggs for batter and set aside.
  2. Cut chicken and vegetables and mix together in mixing bowl with grated cheese. Add a little salt and pepper, to taste.
  3. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin.
  4. Spoon 1 1/2 Tablespoons of batter into the bottom of each muffin cup.
  5. Add about 1/4 cup filling on top of the batter in each cup.
  6. Then add an additional 1 1/2 Tablespoons of batter on top of each muffin cup of filling.
  7. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven and cool in the tins for about five minutes.
  9. Serve with a fresh salad, fruit or veggies. I served ours with a zucchini "pasta" salad, which I'm hoping to share the recipe for, in a day or two.
  10. To freeze, cool completely on a wire rack.
  11. Then set each muffin on a cookie sheet, (don't let the sides touch.) and flash-freeze for a couple of hours. Toss the frozen muffins in a ziptop bag and keep in the freezer. Because you flash-froze them, they won't stick together in the bag. Pull out just the number you need and heat them quickly in the microwave, for a tasty meal-on-the-go!
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Healthy Homemade Baking Mix (Bisquick Alternative)

On August 6, 2013, by Glenda Embree- BusyAtHome

Sometimes, the quick convenience of baking mix is SOOOO hard to pass up, even though I know that what is commercially available is loaded with hydrogenated fat, artificial colors and preservatives and, most likely, some GMO ingredients.  In the past, I have made a scratch version, to save money, but it called for unbleached white [...]

Sometimes, the quick convenience of baking mix is SOOOO hard to pass up, even though I know that what is commercially available is loaded with hydrogenated fat, artificial colors and preservatives and, most likely, some GMO ingredients.  In the past, I have made a scratch version, to save money, but it called for unbleached white flour and shortening.  I would always want to substitute butter, but then it would have to be refrigerated….and yada, yada, yada.  I eventually quit using baking mix.  Now, that we have easier access to much more healthful ingredients, I threw together this easy baking mix and it has worked out fantastically!  It’s a quick fix for whole grain pancakes or biscuits, in the morning, and wait until you see the yummy Pot Pie Muffins I made with it!

First here’s the simple recipe for the baking mix.  No refrigeration needed and NO hydrogenated fat!  Just keep it in the pantry in a tightly sealed container and you’ll be just minutes away from your favorite baked goods!

Healthy Homemade Baking Mix (Bisquick Alternative)

Ingredients

  • 15 cups whole wheat flour (I prefer hard white wheat.)
  • 1 1/4 cups baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk powder
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons salt
  • 2 cups coconut oil

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients.
  2. Cut the coconut oil into the dry ingredients, with a fork or pastry blender, until it resembles coarse meal.
  3. Seal in an airtight container and store in the pantry.
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Tonight, the first thing I made with this simple baking mix was delicious Chicken Pot Pie Muffins for our dinner.  Be sure to check out the recipe.

Chicken Pot Pie Muffins from Busy-at-Home

Chicken Pot Pie Muffins. DELISH!

 

In the morning, I’ll test it out on some fresh, homemade biscuits.  I’ll let you know how they come out!  In the meantime, here are a couple of the staple recipes that you can use the baking mix in, and I promise, there will be more coming in the days, ahead.  Enjoy!

Biscuits

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups Healthy Homemade Baking Mix
  • 2/3 cup milk or water
  • melted butter, optional

Instructions

  1. Stir together the mix and liquid to form a soft dough. If you need more moisture, add it just a teaspoon at a time, to get the dough consistency you want.
  2. Roll the dough out on a floured surface to about 1/2 inch thickness.
  3. Cut biscuits and place on an ungreased baking sheet.
  4. Bake at 425 degrees for 8 - 10 minutes, until the biscuits are golden brown.
  5. Remove from the oven and brush the tops with melted butter, if desired.
  6. Serve with butter, honey, jelly or sausage gravy.
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Quick and Tasty Whole Grain Pancakes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Healthy Homemade Baking Mix
  • 1 - 1 1/2 cup milk or water
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together to form a smooth batter. (If you like thicker pancakes, use the lesser amount of liquid. For thinner pancakes add the greater amount.)
  2. Ladle batter, 1/4 cup at a time, onto a hot, greased griddle or skillet.
  3. Cook until edges begin to dry and bubbles, in the center of the pancake, pop. Pancake will be golden brown on cooked side.
  4. Flip pancakes and cook on the other side until pancake is cooked through and golden brown on the bottom.
  5. Serve immediately with fresh fruit and berries, honey, maple syrup and butter or any of your favorite toppings.
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Savory, Delicious Monterey Chicken with Home Fries

On August 4, 2013, by Glenda Embree- BusyAtHome

Thursday was one of those days where I had actually thawed chicken for dinner, but been so busy with other things, that I hadn’t given much thought to what I would do with it.  When I did get around to making supper, my crew was already near to expiring from hunger.  :)  ”When is supper?” [...]

Thursday was one of those days where I had actually thawed chicken for dinner, but been so busy with other things, that I hadn’t given much thought to what I would do with it.  When I did get around to making supper, my crew was already near to expiring from hunger.  :)  ”When is supper?”  ”What is supper?”  ”How long before supper?” “Is it supper, yet?”  Not wanting to risk an uprising, I calmly stated, “About half an hour.”   What?  Am I nuts!??!!  Clearly, I should have thought that statement through!  Oh well, now I was committed. Here we go!  (It’s actually took me about 45 minutes, but that’s because I took pictures.  You can just cook.  It’s gonna be fine.)

Monterey Chicken from Busy-at-Home

Moist, savory and delicious and topped with fresh garden produce. Yum!!

You’re only going to need a few items from the pantry and garden and you’ll be able to set this delicious, and really quite beautiful meal on the table.  It’s simple and everyone will be looking for the restaurant chef you have hidden in the broom closet!  :)  Enjoy!

Monterey Chicken and Home Fries

Monterey Chicken and Home Fries

Ingredients

    For Chicken:
  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup barbecue sauce, use your family's favorite
  • 1 1/2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup bacon, fried and coarsely chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, minced (Remove seeds and veins.)
  • 2 large tomatoes, diced
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • For Home Fries:
  • 6-8 russet potatoes
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • salt, to taste

Instructions

  1. Melt butter in heavy skillet over medium high heat.
  2. Carefully add the chicken pieces to the hot butter and salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Allow chicken to brown on that side and then turn to brown the other side.
  4. Put a lid on the skillet, reduce heat to medium and let chicken finish cooking while you prep the rest of the meal. (20 - 25 minutes)
  5. Peel potatoes. Slice into eighths, lengthwise.
  6. Toss the potato wedges in olive oil, coating each slice. Salt, to taste and then bake in a 425 degree oven for 15 - 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender and golden brown.
  7. While chicken and potatoes finish cooking, gather the chicken topping ingredients. Dice tomatoes and bacon. Mince jalapeno and slice green onions. Shred the cheese.
  8. When chicken is done cooking, shut the heat off on the burner and brush on a thin layer of barbecue sauce.
  9. Cover each chicken breast with a layer of shredded Monterey Jack cheese. Then sprinkle with bacon and minced jalapeno. Replace the lid and allow the heat from the food to melt the cheese. (1 or 2 minutes)
  10. Pull the golden home fries from the oven and get ready to serve your delicious meal.
  11. To serve the chicken, top each piece with fresh, diced tomatoes and sliced green onion. Add a side of the freshly baked and golden brown home fries. We also ate raw cauliflower with ranch dip. DELISH!
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And there you go!  A fabulously, flavorful and gorgeous dinner in just about 30 minutes!  Hope you love it as much as we did!

Deliciously Simple Chicken Teriyaki Recipe

On July 30, 2013, by Glenda Embree- BusyAtHome

Chicken Teriyaki is a dish I have never made, before.  Silly me!  At one point, way back a zillion or so years ago, David and I went out to eat and he ordered chicken teriyaki.  He HATED it!  I mean like really truly disliked it.  And this is the guy I can cook just about [...]

Chicken Teriyaki is a dish I have never made, before.  Silly me!  At one point, way back a zillion or so years ago, David and I went out to eat and he ordered chicken teriyaki.  He HATED it!  I mean like really truly disliked it.  And this is the guy I can cook just about anything for and he’ll eat it.  Nothin’ doin’.  He was pretty decisive on the issue.  Needless to say, I’ve never bothered to try and make him any at home.

We typically have 10-12 people at our home for Sunday dinner.  I love the noise, the chaos, the three conversations going at once and all the laughing around the table.  I love hearing, “Grandma, sit by me.”  ”Uncle Michael, come down here.”  ”Here’s your chair, Grandpa.”  (Picture chubby fingers patting the seat beside them.  :) )  When feeding a crowd, that will be starving before church service has even dismissed, I usually have something in the crock pot or set the delayed start on my oven and have a wonderful big casserole piping hot and bubbly, when we walk in the door, after church.  Last week, I still needed to feed the whole tribe, but I was in the mood for something different.  I wonder what would happen if I made Chicken Teriyaki?  :)

Chicken Teriyki

One thing I WILL say about getting older, that seems to be working in my favor, is that David doesn’t always remember that he was emotionally scarred by a particular dish.  :)  Maybe it’s just a maturing palate?  Anyway, I went out on a limb, Sunday and made my version of a Chicken Teriyaki dish.  I knew I would only get one shot at changing his mind.  But, before you get your mouths all set, and hankering for teriyaki, let me say, again, I have never made this before and it is, likely, NOTHING like a traditional teriyaki.  It IS however one of my husband’s favorite new dishes.  lol  Go figure.

After reading through several different teriyaki recipes, I started pulling ingredients from the pantry and fridge.  This is what I started with.  It was not the final roster of ingredients, however.  As you know, when you embark on a grand experiment like this, in the kitchen, it requires starting with what you think you will use, tasting and adding a little somethin’ somethin’ that the dish still needs, simmering a bit and then tasting, again, – adding, adjusting and finally — nirvana!  Yup, I have to say, it’s pretty darn good!  And the beautiful thing is…I remembered to write everything down.  Now, you can make it, too!  It’s actually incredibly easy!

Teriyaki Ingredients

Dark brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (You could substitute soy sauce), black pepper, ginger, fresh garlic, arrowroot powder and chicken I had roasted the day before.

 

What is written, below, is the true recipe for the finished product, with no trial and error and tasting and adjusting necessary on your part.  It also includes all the ingredients I added AFTER the above picture was taken.  :)  Enjoy!

Deliciously Simple Chicken Teriyaki

Rating: 51

15 - 18 servings

Deliciously Simple Chicken Teriyaki

This made a huge batch! There were ten of us for lunch and we still had leftovers for supper.

Ingredients

  • 6 - 8 chicken breasts, roasted and torn into large chunks
  • 3 cups dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups liquid aminos (or soy sauce)
  • 1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon ground ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced fine
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1/3 cup arrowroot powder
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/2 cup red onion, minced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 - 3 green onions, thinly sliced

Instructions

  1. Whisk together brown sugar, liquid aminos, vinegar, ginger, garlic, pepper and chicken stock in a large stock pot or dutch oven.
  2. Bring them to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, to make sure sugar is dissolving.
  3. Whisk together arrowroot powder and water until the arrowroot is completely dissolved. The liquid will look like milk and shouldn't have any lumps floating in it.
  4. Whisk the arrowroot liquid into the boiling sauce.
  5. Stir continuously, as sauce thickens.
  6. Reduce the heat to low and add red onion, bell pepper and sesame oil.
  7. Stir in the chunks of chicken and turn gently to be sure each piece is coated with the thickened sauce. Leave over low heat to allow everything to heat through and the flavors to meld (20 - 30 minutes).
  8. Stir occasionally, to make sure it isn't sticking to the bottom of your pot. Stir gently so you don't break up those gorgeous big chunks of chicken too much. Some of your chicken will, naturally, shred as you're stirring, but you want a few of the larger chunks left, too, as it makes your finished dishes so much more beautiful.
  9. Arrange chicken over brown rice and drizzle extra sauce over the chicken and rice. Garnish with thinly sliced green onion. We paired it with roasted asparagus and added wedges of heirloom tomatoes from the garden. It's fantastic!
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Moist, Decadent Chocolate Swirl Banana Bread

On July 19, 2013, by Glenda Embree- BusyAtHome

Do you have a recipe book that is well “loved” and often used?  Is it that one you stick in a drawer when someone drops in unexpectedly?  You’re hiding secret family recipes, right?  What?  OOOOHHHH!  Me, too.  :)  This cookbook is one of my treasures.  I’m not a “stuff” person, so even for sentimental reasons, [...]

Do you have a recipe book that is well “loved” and often used?  Is it that one you stick in a drawer when someone drops in unexpectedly?  You’re hiding secret family recipes, right?  What?  OOOOHHHH!  Me, too.  :)  This cookbook is one of my treasures.  I’m not a “stuff” person, so even for sentimental reasons, there are only certain things that I hang on to for like, forever and ever. This is one.

cookbook

A treasured cookbook.  I love every splattered, stained and dog-eared page of it.  It’s filled with the kind of love that fills a house with wonderful aromas and memories of the best things that “Mom” made.

It was my mother-in-law’s and before her, it belonged to Auntie, who raised her.  When she gave it to me, it had already been well loved, but I have definitely put some miles on it and I’m guessing MY girls will, too.  It’s not that there are tons and tons of recipes that I get from its pages, but there are a couple of tried-and-trues that I always go back to.  Banana Bread is one of them.  And if you need the gory evidence….

recipe page

I’m so sorry, but in my defense, I DID warn you!  It’s okay. You can look away, if you need to.  So, yeah.  This one is usually “put away” when company’s coming.  :)  But, it IS my favorite!

 

From the pages of this treasured tome, comes the recipe that makes our family the most moist, delicious banana bread you have ever dreamed about!  It’s good.  REALLY good.  Typically, I bake it up as muffins, so we have fast, easy and portable breakfasts and snacks.  It freezes beautifully!  And, in my opinion, the flavor is even more exquisite after it has been frozen or at least refrigerated, overnight.  And the same is true for the loaves that come from my new twist on our old and favored recipe. Refrigerating or freezing it only enhances and intensifies the flavors of this already incredibly moist bread.  It will be your go-to recipe for home-baked gifts or a treat at a potluck.  However you use it, it will be gobbled up in minutes, so be sure to make the whole batch, even if it seems like a lot, right now.  You want a loaf or two for the freezer. Remember?  Enjoy!

Chocolate Swirl Banana Bread

It’s going to be hard to eat any other banana bread, after this. Just sayin’. :) Isn’t it gorgeous?

 

Chocolate Swirl Banana Bread

Chocolate Swirl Banana Bread

Ingredients

  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups butter (no substitutes, here)
  • 9 ripe bananas
  • 6 eggs
  • 6 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 Tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 cups semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Peel and mash bananas. I toss mine in my stand mixer and mash them up.
  2. Add the butter and sugar and beat well.
  3. Beat in the eggs.
  4. Mix in the dry ingredients.
  5. The batter will be thick when it is finished.
  6. Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave.
  7. Take 4 cups of the banana bread batter and put it into another mixing bowl. Add the melted chocolate and stir to completely incorporate it.
  8. Grease four loaf pans.
  9. Divide the plain batter, evenly, between the four pans.
  10. Next, add one fourth of the chocolate batter in a strip down the center of each loaf pan.
  11. Using a butter knife or a fork, swirl the chocolate into the plain batter.
  12. Bake the loaves for 65-75 minutes at 350 degrees.
  13. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for at least ten minutes, before removing the loaves. If they set longer, it's fine. They will still come out, if you greased the pans, well.
  14. Now, in all honesty, there is no way you are going to be able to stop yourself from slicing into one of these loaves, while they are still warm. :) It just has to happen. I like to turn it on its side and use a serrated knife to keep from squishing the warm bread. Cover a slice in butter and enjoy, while the other three loaves cool.
  15. Once the loaves have cooled, seal them tightly in ziptop bags or wrap with plastic wrap and then foil. At that point they can be placed in the freezer or in the refrigerator, overnight, to allow the flavors to develop.
  16. We love this bread best, served cold, from the fridge. The moist, dense texture is deliciously satisfying and the flavor is unmatched. You'll love this twist on a family recipe and I'll bet it becomes a favorite treat at your house, too! Enjoy!
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The BEST Baked Spaghetti: It’s NOT Your Grandma’s Pasta!

On July 11, 2013, by Glenda Embree- BusyAtHome

I’m definitely a Grandma, but I’m not Italian.  So, I’ll never pass for a little Italian Grandma with all the cooking skill and wisdom of the ages.  However, I have stumbled onto a happy, not-so-traditional spin on a classic Italian dish and it’s started making a regular appearance on our dinner table.  This simple, delicious [...]

I’m definitely a Grandma, but I’m not Italian.  So, I’ll never pass for a little Italian Grandma with all the cooking skill and wisdom of the ages.  However, I have stumbled onto a happy, not-so-traditional spin on a classic Italian dish and it’s started making a regular appearance on our dinner table.  This simple, delicious casserole is a family favorite that beats out even a traditional spaghetti supper.  If you’re fortunate enough to have leftovers, they reheat easily; and Baked Spaghetti freezes well, so the recipe can be doubled to have one for the freezer and one for dinner.   It would be perfect to take along to a potluck or as a dish for a family with a new baby.  This recipe makes a 9 x 13 pan and generously feeds 10  - 12.  A fresh green salad and some cheesy garlic bread and you’ll think you’re eating out!  Enjoy!

Baked Spaghetti Recipe from Busy-at-Home

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Best Baked Spaghetti

Best Baked Spaghetti

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs. ground beef, browned and drained
  • 1 lb. spaghetti
  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 4 teaspoons Italian Seasoning, divided
  • 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 4 cups spaghetti sauce
  • 1 red bell pepper, fine diced
  • 1/2 cup diced green onion
  • 2-3 cups Mozzarrella or Monterey Jack Cheese

Instructions

  1. Grease a 9 x 13 baking dish and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.brown and drain ground beef. Set aside.
  3. Boil spaghetti according to package directions. Drain it, but DO NOT rinse.
  4. Add the cream cheese. heavy cream and sour cream to the pan with the hot noodles.
  5. Mix in 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and 2 teaspoons of Italian Seasoning.
  6. Toss to combine and to thoroughly coat the noodles as the cream cheese melts.
  7. Pour the coated noodles into the greased baking dish and spread in an even layer.
  8. Dice the pepper and onions.
  9. In a mixing bowl (or the now empty spaghetti pan), mix together the spaghetti sauce, browned ground beef, 2 teaspoons of Italian Seasoning, bell pepper and green onion.
  10. Spread the meat sauce over the noodle layer in the 9 x 13 baking dish.
  11. Spread shredded cheese over the meat sauce layer. (I normally use Mozzarella, but was out and Monterey Jack worked perfectly. So use what you have.)
  12. Sprinkle the last 1/4 cup of Parmesan over the top of the casserole.
  13. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes, or until bubbly and hot.
  14. Serve with garlic bread and a green salad for a meal your family and friends will rave over!
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This recipe is linked to Weekend Potluck.

Blueberry Lemon Cheesecake Trifle – an Easy, No-Bake Dessert for Summer, PLUS a Delicious Give Away!

On June 21, 2013, by Glenda Embree- BusyAtHome

  It’s funny how we associate different foods or flavors with a season or event.  For me, summer is a uniquely “lemon” season.  It isn’t that I don’t love lemons all the other times of the year.   It’s just that the fresh, bright flavor of citrus, and specifically lemons, tastes like summer to me. [...]

 

It’s funny how we associate different foods or flavors with a season or event.  For me, summer is a uniquely “lemon” season.  It isn’t that I don’t love lemons all the other times of the year.   It’s just that the fresh, bright flavor of citrus, and specifically lemons, tastes like summer to me.  :)   Lemons are perfectly paired with blueberries in a myriad of summertime recipes and my most favorite are usually ones that don’t require heating up the kitchen to prepare them.

Blueberry Lemon Cheesecake Trifle

Blueberry Lemon Cheesecake Trifle in a Mason Jar. These individual servings would be so fun at a backyard barbecue or a picnic, but you can create something more elegant by simply layering the ingredients into a beautiful trifle bowl.

This recipe is an ever-so-slight variation of a recipe sent to me, on a gorgeous recipe card, by the good people at Lucky Leaf.  Lucky Leaf makes pie fillings, apple juice, apple sauce and canned apple slices. They are part of the same parent company as Musselman’s and I was introduced to them almost exactly one year ago.  Delicious Lucky Leaf pie fillings have become a staple in my pantry, because of the quality.  They’re loaded with fruit, unlike other brands who are heavy on the syrup, but stingy with the main ingredient.  We have many fruit pie filling favorites from Lucky Leaf, but until this recipe, I had never tried their cream pie fillings.  I won’t be making THAT oversight, again.  We found it to be as flavorful and rich as the fruit fillings we already love.  In my area, I find Lucky Leaf products at Hy-Vee. You can visit the Lucky Leaf website and use the store locator to find a market that carries them, near you.

You won’t need to heat up the house to make this tasty dessert, and all who taste your handiwork will sing your praises.  Be humble and use your power for good!  :)  I think this recipe could easily be dressed up for your Fourth of July celebration, too, by simply adding layers of raspberries with the blueberries.  Lemon is a great complement to both types of berries and the colors would be gorgeous on your holiday serving table!  Enjoy!

 

Blueberry Lemon Cheesecake Trifle

Blueberry Lemon Cheesecake Trifle

Ingredients

  • 1 (10-12 oz) pound cake, cut into bite-sized cubes
  • 4 cups fresh blueberries, washed and stemmed
  • for the Streusel Layer
  • 1 pkg graham crackers (9 crackers)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • for the Lemon Cheesecake Filling
  • 3 (8 oz) blocks cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups Cool Whip or homemade whipped cream
  • 1 (21 oz) can Lucky Leaf Lemon Pie Filling

Instructions

  1. Cut the pound cake into bite-sized cubes and set aside. (You can certainly bake your own pound cake, but the appeal of this recipe, for me is how quick it is to put together and the fact that I don't heat up my kitchen making it. So, I purchased a fresh pound cake from the Walmart Bakery. You could certainly purchase a frozen pound cake, as well.)
  2. Melt the butter in a microwave safe dish.
  3. Place the graham crackers, almonds, and brown sugar in a gallon zip-top bag. Remove as much air as possible from the bag and zip it shut. With a rolling pin or mallet, crush the crackers and almonds, until the crackers have become fine crumbs.
  4. Give the bag a couple of shakes to make sure all the ingredients are incorporated.
  5. Pour the melted butter into the bag, and again, zip it shut. Shake the bag to be sure all the crumbs are evenly coated and incorporated with the butter.
  6. When your streusel topping is well mixed, set it aside.
  7. Use an electric mixer to whip the softened cream cheese and sugar, until they are light and fluffy.
  8. By hand, gently fold the whipped cream and pie filling into the cream cheese mixture.
  9. When the lemon cheesecake filling is thoroughly combined, set it aside.
  10. It's time to assemble your trifle. Whether you make individual servings or layer it into a trifle bowl, the layers will be the same.
  11. Begin by covering the bottom of your container with a thin layer of streusel topping.
  12. Next add a layer of blueberries.
  13. Cover the berries with a thick layer of the lemon cheesecake filling.
  14. Add a layer of pound cake cubes.
  15. Repeat all the layers, again. I actually repeated twice and then finished off with another dollop of the lemon cheesecake filling. I filled four pint-sized mason jars and had enough ingredients to also layer a one quart mixing bowl, too.
  16. Garnish with slices of lemon and fresh berries.
  17. Chill until ready to serve.
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 GIVEAWAY:  Lucky Leaf is sponsoring a DELISH giveaway for a lucky Busy-at-Home reader.  The winner of the drawing will receive a can of Lucky Leaf Lemon Pie Filling, a one pint canning jar with lid and ribbon, plus a gorgeous recipe card with the Lucky Leaf version of the recipe I shared, above.

 

giveaway prize

The giveaway prize from Lucky Leaf!

 

Mandatory Entry:  Leave a comment, below, telling me your favorite summertime flavors.  What are the foods that tantalize your taste buds and just scream warm weather to you?  Do you make lots of cold main dishes and desserts or do you fire up the grill to keep the heat outside?  When you’ve completed your comment, be sure to register it on the Rafflecopter form, below.  Good luck!

 


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Avocado Salsa: Simple, Quick, Delicious AND Healthy!

On June 14, 2013, by Glenda Embree- BusyAtHome

Do you love avocados?  I remember, as a kid, I wanted NOTHING to do with them.  As an adult, I still haven’t learned to like them plain.  I think it’s more about the texture than anything else, because they don’t actually have much flavor, on their own.  Why am I bothering to share this childish [...]

Do you love avocados?  I remember, as a kid, I wanted NOTHING to do with them.  As an adult, I still haven’t learned to like them plain.  I think it’s more about the texture than anything else, because they don’t actually have much flavor, on their own.  Why am I bothering to share this childish lack of enthusiasm over a simple fruit, with you, today?  Mainly because I know there are those of you, out there, who feel just like me.  And what I’m about to tell you is going to blow your mind!  (So, put a hat on, or something, to keep the mess to a minimum.  )

I can’t get enough of this recipe.  Really!  It’s loaded with avocados, and the powerhouse of nutrients they provide; plus, the way it tastes makes, me drool just typing about it!  What’s it taste like?  It tastes like more!  Once you start, it will be hard not to keep eating and there are so many ways to enjoy it!  Trust me on this one.  You cannot pre-judge this dish on your preconceived notions about avocados.  This fabulous avocado salsa will change all you believe in the universe – ok – at least all you believe about avocados.  :)

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Avocado Salsa

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It’s fantastic news that my family, and myself, enjoy this recipe so much.  Avocados are one of those superfoods that really NEED to be in our diets.  Here’s why.   Avocados are rich in heart-healthy mono-unsaturated fats.  They are a great source of fiber; and that dark green layer, just below the skin, provides a healthy source of complete protein.  It’s actually the highest protein content of any fruit on earth.  (Yup!  The seed is inside.  That makes them a fruit.)  Avocados help our bodies absorb fat soluble antioxidants, like beta-carotene and lycopene. They are excellent sources of Vitamin C, folate and Vitamin K.  Avocados contain more potassium than bananas, and to top it all off, they are sodium- and cholesterol-free.  It would be silly not to eat them, right?  So finding delicious ways to incorporate them into my family’s diet, just took on a whole new importance and this recipe is one of the simple ways I can make healthy changes without anyone feeling deprived.  It is only slightly altered from the recipe that inspired me, over at Chef-In-Training.  I hope you enjoy it, as much as we do!

Avocado Salsa

Avocado Salsa

Ingredients

  • 3 avocados, small diced
  • 1/3 cup red onion, minced
  • 3 tomatoes, diced (Roma or paste tomatoes work best - any meaty variety without a lot of seeds)
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh cilantro, minced
  • 1 or 2 lemons, use the zest and juice (could substitute limes)
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Slice the avocado in half, lengthwise, around the pit. Once you separate the two halves, the easiest way to remove the pit is to plunge the edge of your knife blade into the pit, give a gentle twist and then lift it straight out. It's the neatest and simplest way I've found to accomplish the task.
  2. Remove the avocado from the shell by inserting a spoon along the side between the shell and the fruit, sliding the spoon around the perimeter and underneath the avocado fruit. The fruit will lift out in one big piece and then you will need to dice it. Repeat this process with all three avocados and place the diced fruit into a medium mixing bowl. (You can throw away the shells, but as you can see from the picture above, I washed them and used them as bowls for the salsa. It's a fun way to present it.)
  3. Add the zest and the lemon juice, to keep the avocado fresh and prevent it from darkening. The original recipe called for lime juice and I have no doubt that would be delicious, but I rarely have limes on hand and almost always have lemons. I also add the zest because I love the brightness and zip it gives to the salsa's flavor. It's so incredibly summery.
  4. How much lemon you use, will be dependent on your own tastes and the juiciness of the lemons you use. I only needed one large lemon for this batch, but when I have had smaller lemons, that didn't have as much juice, I have used 2. The salsa doesn't need to be standing in juice, but you do want it to be flavorful and moist.
  5. Toss the avocado with the zest and lemon juice to make sure each piece is coated. If you don't have a zester, just use the smallest grates on your grater to zest the lemon and be sure to only get the bright yellow zest, none of the bitter white pith, underneath. I don't have a fancy juicer. I use the heel of my hand to roll the lemon back and forth on the counter a few times, which loosens the juice from the membranes. Then, I cut it in half and squeeze the halves into the bowl, using my hand as a "sieve" to catch any seeds.
  6. Dice the tomato and add it to the bowl. I do small dices on these ingredients, especially if using it for chips. Cut the tomato in half lengthwise. Then slice each half in half, again, lengthwise. Turn the slices and cut into long strips. Turn again, and cut across the vertical strips to make a small dice.
  7. Mince the onion and add to the bowl.
  8. Mince the cilantro and add to the bowl.
  9. Add the garlic powder and fresh black pepper. All those ingredients, in the bowl, look gorgeous! You'll want to just take a spoon and dig in!
  10. Mix everything together and serve with your favorite corn chips. I rinsed the hollowed out avocado shells and served the salsa in those, but you could definitely just leave it in the mixing bowl to serve it.
  11. Enjoy!
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We have also eaten this salsa on breakfast pita sandwiches.  We filled whole grain pitas with this salsa, scrambled egg, some crumbled bacon, and grated cheese.  Fabulous!  We’ve also eaten it on burritos or on top of chicken taco salads.  I’m sure there are tons of phenomenal ways to serve it!  What creative ideas do you have for incorporating avocados and all the healthy benefits they provide, into your family’s meal plan?  Do you have a favorite recipe that uses avocados?  I look forward to hearing about it!

 

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This post is linked to Tasty Tuesday.

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