Monday, March 30, 2015

Creamed Tuna on Toast

Oh, Monday, Monday, how do you come around again so quickly? Yes, today is Monday, and that means it’s Gourmet…Way Before Payday day! Well that sounded weird. At any rate, this is a dish my mom prepared whilst I was growing up, and I really have no clue how she made it, but this is how I make it, haha!

It’s inexpensive, and if you have a few boiled eggs in the fridge, that saves a step. I frequently make up a big pot of boiled eggs because my kids, my sons especially, like to have 2 or 3 for a snack, sometimes twice in one day. Yes, they do eat like that. My sister always told me how her teen boys ate her out of house and home, but until mine were older, I didn’t realize how true it could be!

Anyhoo, I frequently have some boiled eggs around, but if I don’t, it’s not the end of the world to make some. And I have to tell you, my kids love this recipe. They love it. L-O-V-E love it. When I say this serves 6 people, I’m kind of thinking of six regular eating people. Which kind of rules out my sons at this moment in time. I have to make a little extra to satisfy them. The rest of us will have 2 slices of toast with the Creamed Tuna, but they kind of, sort of, okay yes they do have FOUR. Where do they put it all??

So, let’s get cooking!

Set the peas to cook with water in a small saucepan, and drain when done. If you don’t already have some boiled eggs, get ‘em done now! ;)

Drain the tuna and *save the juice!

Dice the celery and onion. If you don’t happen to have onion and/or celery, this will still taste yummy, but with the onion and celery, it’s like Deluxe Yummy.

In a large saucepan, sauté the onion and celery with the butter until translucent.

Stir in the flour and cook a minute to make the roux.

Slowly add the milk and tuna juice, whisking the entire time, scraping the edges of the pan with a rubber spatula as needed, until mixture is thickened. Add the salt and pepper.

Chop up the boiled eggs.

With a wooden spoon, stir in the tuna, drained peas, and chopped eggs.

Place two slices of toast on the plate and top with a generous serving of the Creamed Tuna.

Enjoy! ~TMMF

Creamed Tuna on Toast
   (serves 6)

4 Tbl butter                
¼  c plus 2 Tbl flour    
½ small Vidalia onion
1 stalk celery                
3 ½ c milk                                    
½ tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 ½ c frozen peas           .
12 oz tuna, drained      
   *save the juice!
6 hard boiled eggs        
12 slices bread, toasted

It cost me $5.32 to make this delicious old fashioned meal.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Crock Pot Chicken Parmesan Soup

Chicken Parm, and Soup, and done in a Crock Pot? Oh my! This one came from, who got it from Naturebox blog. I didn’t change much with this; I did add in diced carrots and some tomato paste, but other than that, I substituted dried herbs for fresh because I didn’t have any fresh. I’m hoping to grow my own this year.

Anyhoo, this soup was delicious and so easy to get it all set up and let the crock pot work its magic while I did other things. One reason I love crock pot meals!

So, let’s get cooking!

Dice the onion and pepper, and mince the garlic.

For the carrots, dice them by cutting into slices about ¼” thick the long way, then cut those into strips, then the cubes.

Now time to assemble it in the Crockus Poticus. That’s the Latin name I’ve given it. ;) Place in the chicken breasts (whole), diced onion, pepper, and carrots, the minced garlic, the tomatoes, and spices.

Add the chicken broth, tomato paste (mix in), and Parmesan cheese. Cook on low for 6-7 hours.

About half an hour before serving, pull out the chicken breasts and set aside to cool on a plate. Shred using two forks.

When you take out the chicken to cool on a plate, turn up the heat to high and add in the uncooked pasta (I used rotini) to cook, stirring a few times during the half hour. Add back in the shredded chicken whenever you’d like.

Serve with a garnish of more parmesan cheese if you’d like. I put a little mozzarella on top, which the kids loved. Enjoy! ~TMMF

                                                                                  Crock Pot Chicken Parmesan Soup

½ Vidalia onion
½ green bell pepper
3 cloves garlic
2 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)
1 14.5 oz can crushes tomatoes
   (I used diced)
½ 6 oz can tomato paste
4 c chicken broth
½ c grated parmesan cheese
½ tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
4 oz uncooked pasta

Monday, March 23, 2015

Hot Dog Creole

It’s Monday, and another installment of Gourmet…Way Before Payday! This recipe is one my mom, Deborah MacDonald, made up when I was growing up. She was always creative, even with cooking, and with five kids, she had to stretch a buck. So this is one of her recipes.

Creole cooking is a style of Louisiana cuisine that combines  French, West African, Amerindian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian influences, according to Wikipedia. A specific dish named Shrimp Creole typically has in it tomatoes, onions, green peppers, celery, and shrimp, and is served over rice. Mom’s Hot Dog Creole is her version with meat that didn’t cost an arm and a leg. ;)

So, let’s get cooking!

Set the rice to cooking according to the directions on the package.

While that’s being done, dice the onion and green pepper.

Cut the hot dogs into slices about 1 inch. This is a great job for younger children.

In a skillet, sauté the diced onion and peppers with a little oil, until tender.

Add the tomato paste, water, ketchup, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. Mix together well with a whisk.

Stir in the hot dogs and simmer until thoroughly heated, about 10 minutes.

Serve over rice. Enjoy! ~TMMF

My Megan helping cook. 

Hot Dog Creole
  (feeds 6)

2 12 oz packages hot dogs  
½ green bell pepper            
½ Vidalia onion                  
1 6 oz can tomato paste      
9 oz water (1 ½ cans)
1 c ketchup                        
1 Tbl mustard                  
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 ½  c uncooked rice  

This recipe cost $3.94 to make it the way I did.                          

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Broccoli Quinoa Casserole

Oh my, this is a wonderful recipe I found online on a site named I’ve used quinoa flour in baked products, but this was the first time I used it whole in a recipe. It was so delicious! I love the taste and the texture, and it doesn’t hurt to have broccoli and cheese in the recipe. ;) 

Anyhoo, the only things I changed were using a Tbl of butter instead of 2 Tbl oil to brown the bread crumbs, and I didn’t have any Greek yogurt so I replaced it with sour cream. We loved this casserole and will definitely make it again.

So, let’s get cooking!

Set the chicken breast to cooking in a skillet with a little oil. And set the quinoa to cooking in a saucepan, according to the directions. Very similar to cooking rice. When the chicken is cooked and cooled a little, dice.

Cut up the broccoli and cook with about 1 c water in a saucepan, covered, about 7 minutes or so. While the broccoli is cooking, grate the cheddar cheese.

In a large skillet, melt 1 Tbl butter and brown the panko breadcrumbs, stirring continually. It takes about 3-4 minutes on medium high. Set aside. 

In the same pan, melt the other 2 Tbl butter. With a whisk, stir in the flour and cook until bubbly. Slowly add the milk, whisking the entire time, until thickened. Turn off the heat.

Stir in the cooked, drained broccoli, diced chicken, cooked quinoa, cheese, and yogurt. Add salt and pepper. Pour into greased 9 X 13” baking dish. Sprinkle on the browned panko bread crumbs. Bake at 350° for 15-20 minutes. Enjoy! ~TMMF

Broccoli Quinoa Casserole

1 c quinoa
1 head broccoli
2 huge chicken breasts
1/3 c Panko bread crumbs
3 Tbl butter, divided
2 Tbl flour
2 c milk
1 ½ c shredded cheddar cheese
1/3 c Greek yogurt
   (or sour cream)
Salt and pepper to taste

Monday, March 16, 2015

Kraft Tuna Casserole

Is it Monday again? Why yes it is, and that means another recipe for the Gourmet…Way Before Payday series. This is a recipe I threw together one night and it turned out so good, I could eat it right now for breakfast if I had some. I hope you’ll like it too. You’re using boxed macaroni and cheese, but the amount of ingredients is changed a little, plus you’ll make it a little differently.

So, let’s get cooking!

First, set a pot of water on to boil for the pasta, and after cooking the macaroni from the 2 boxes for about 7 minutes, drain and set aside. While that’s heating and all, dice the onion, celery, and carrots. Set the frozen peas and the diced carrots on to cook until both are just tender, then drain.

You can use frozen peas and carrots (the kind sold in one bag); just use 2 cups of it. I didn’t have that on hand. Well, I don’t even buy the peas with carrots in it anyway. ;) If you’d like or need to, a can of each of them will do. I don’t like canned peas or carrots, though I do keep canned peas on hand for a quick stew or whatever. They usually sit in the cupboard for a while. ;)

Also, now would be a good time to drain the tuna, setting the juice aside to use in this recipe.

In a large skillet, sauté the onion and celery in the 6 Tbl of butter until translucent. With a whisk, stir in the flour to make a roux, and let cook, bubbling, for a minute. Slowly add the milk and the juice from the tuna, whisking the whole time, until thickened.

Turn the heat down to low and add the 2 packets of cheese sauce mix. I know, I know, look at the day-glo bright color! I'm pretty sure it's not radioactive. Almost. ;)

Now add the peas and carrots and the drained tuna. Mix in the cooked macaroni, and you’re ready to roll. Enjoy! ~TMMF

Kraft Tuna Casserole

2 boxes mac & cheese
1-2 cans tuna, drained
   *save the juice!
½ small onion
1 stalk celery
2 carrots
1 c frozen peas
3 Tbl butter
2 Tbl flour
1 c milk
3-4 oz cheese

This recipe cost me $5.37 to make it the way I did.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Cheesy Dipping Bread & Pizza Boats

Ahtza lahtza mozzarella! It’s Monday again, and that means another recipe for the series Gourmet…Way Before Payday. This time it’s kinda sorta okay it is two recipes, not just one. ;) The Pizza Boats I’m sure most everyone remembers from their days at school back in the 60s and 70s. Do they still make them in school nowadays? At any rate, they’re a very inexpensive meal to make for the family, and we’ve used any kind of leftover bread product we’ve had, which usually is bought at the thrift bread store and low cost anyway. It’s a good way to use up bread or rolls that are well on the Highway to Stale.

The second recipe is what I always called Cheesy Dipping Bread. Years ago I was thinking of garlic bread and how good it would taste with melted cheese on top, and of course you have to have some sauce to dip it in…and voilà! Cheesy Dipping Bread was born!

So, let’s get cooking!

We’ll start with the Pizza Boats. First pick your bread. Usually they are made with a loaf of French or Italian bread, but I use whatever I happen to have on hand. I buy my bread at a local thrift store or I check out what I call the Dead Food rack in a grocery store, the one with items reduced for quick sale. The night we made this, I had some hamburger buns and wheat sub rolls that were dodging the Grim Reaper.

My beautiful daughter Megan was my number one helper with this. Open everything up and place on a sheet pan. Put a spoonful of spaghetti sauce on each and spread it out.

Sprinkle on a handful of cheese. You can sprinkle on a little bit of parmesan cheese too if you’d like, which is what I did this night.

Now they’re ready for the oven. Megan says, “Get away, Timmy!”

Maybe if I close my eyes, he'll disappear...

Oh forget your photo-bombing brother; smile Megan!

Bake for 15 minutes at 350° and they’re done!

Now for the Cheesy Dipping Bread: You can do this two ways, one being a little more work. I’ll show you both ways:

Mince the garlic and mix into the softened butter. Spread over the quartered loaf of bread. Sprinkle on the mozzarella. You can even use a little parsley on top to make it pretty. ;)

The quicker way is to simply spread butter on top of the bread and sprinkle on garlic powder. You can even toss on some Italian seasoning if you’d like. Then distribute the mozzarella cheese on top.

Both ways of doing it are good, and I’ve done it each way, but using the fresh minced garlic is fantastic. Now bake in a 350° oven for 15 minutes. You can also broil it to make the cheese browned on top. Cut into slices. Serve with spaghetti sauce in a small dish. My kids love dipping it into the sauce!

Enjoy! ~TMMF

Cheesy Dipping Bread 
1 loaf Italian or French bread
1 can spaghetti sauce
6 Tbl butter
4-5 big cloves garlic
   (or garlic powder)
3 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

Pizza Boats

1 loaf Italian or French bread
   or leftover rolls, buns, etc.
1 can spaghetti sauce
3 c shredded mozzarella cheese

Spaghetti sauce: .98, mozzarella cheese: $2.97, bread: .60-1.00. To feed 4-6: $4.55-$4.95. Prices may vary where you are, of course.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Chicken Stew with Easy Dumplings

This is a recipe I found online, and I can’t seem to find where it was or which one (there seem to be several), but at any rate, I want to say it’s not mine. I just adjusted it a wee tiny bit. ;)

I think the original recipe called for just chicken, maybe some celery and onion, but that was it. And you know how I can’t resist adding veggies to something to amp it up! So I did add carrots and peas too and turned it into a chicken stew. I know, I know….I’m just incorrigible! You can blame me if you turn out to be eating healthier because of my always sneaking some veggies into recipes. ;)

The difference in this recipe that made me want to try it was that it uses refrigerated flaky biscuits for the dumplings, and that sounded both interesting and yummy, so I had to try it out. They do turn out very different than regular dumplings; they’re not the light fluffy kind, but rather soft and slightly chewy. This was in no way bad; they reminded me of my homemade Pot Pie Noodles.

So, let’s get cooking!

First, get the chicken cooking in the 6 c of water, in a large pot. When done set aside and when cooled, pick the meat off the bones and cut up.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…oh wait, that’s the western I was reading! Good gravy marie, where is my head today?

As I was saying, while the chicken is cooking, dice the celery, onions, and carrots. When I made this, I used a bunch of baby carrots, as there were no other carrots to be had in the house. You can leave them whole or cut into rounds. Also, cut the uncooked refrigerated flaky biscuits into quarters.

When the chicken has been removed from the water, add the veggies and bullion cubes to the pot. Bring to a boil and then turn down to simmer, covered, until the carrots are al dente.

To thicken, mix the flour and ½ c cold water in a bowl with a whisk. You’ll have some lumps; don’t worry, just keep whisking briskly and they will smooth out.

With the heat on a little more than medium, bring the veggies/broth to a boil. Using the whisk, slowly add the flour/water mixture as you whisk it directly under the thickener you’re adding. Keep mixing it in and it’ll thicken fairly quickly. No need to scrape the bowl clean, just use what you can kind of get out with the whisk at the end.

With the stew at a medium boil, add the quartered biscuits one by one until all are in the pot. Cook for about 5-7 minutes, then stir to sort of mix them up a little and get the other side cooked. Cook for another 5 minutes or so. They do puff up, but then they shrink and make dumplings with a really interesting texture. We all liked them very much.

Serve and Enjoy! ~TMMF

Chicken Stew with Easy Dumplings

2 or 3 chicken leg quarters
   (or chicken pieces of your choice)
6 c water
3-4 chicken bullion cubes
4 carrots
2 stalks celery
½ Vidalia onion
1 ½ c frozen peas
¾ c flour
a little more than ½ c cold water
1 can refrigerated flaky biscuits

Monday, March 2, 2015

Angie's Skillet Baked Beans

Here is the next recipe for my Gourmet…Way Before Payday series. This recipe is from my dear friend Angela Heavener Pike. I added a couple squirts of liquid smoke to this because I love a smoky hickory flavor. The first time I made these, I wasn’t sure my kids would like it, and I was right, they didn’t like it. They LOVED it! I’ve made it several times since, and when my kids hear that I’m making Angie’s Skillet Baked Beans, they get excited and thank me. Yes, they are that good.

This recipe is so easy, quick, and costs under $6.00 to make.

So, let’s get cooking!

                           Dice the onion and green pepper.

In a large skillet, brown the ground turkey and diced veggies.

Add the baked beans and the barbecue sauce, mixing well.

Now add a couple of squirts of the liquid smoke if you’re using it. I really like the flavor it adds.

Heat through over medium heat. I usually like to make some cornbread to go with this dish (recipe here), which my kids also love. Enjoy! ~TMMF

Angie’s Skillet Baked Beans

2  28 oz cans baked beans
1/2 Vidalia onion
1/2 green pepper
12 oz ground turkey
½ c BBQ sauce
1 tsp liquid smoke (optional)

Serves 6-8 and cost me $5.73 to make with ground turkey in it.