Friday, February 26, 2010

Tuna Delicious

Another new recipe, another with no photo. We ate it up too quickly!

Again I used the homemade mushroom soup. Again, it was a bit too runny. Now that I’ve used one entire bag of soup, I’ve decided I’ll thicken it with cornstarch when I use it in a recipe, for a creamier texture.

I had a few problems with the rest of this recipe, in that I had very little sour cream. I blame that on Jessi and Greg using it up the night before as dipping sauce for taquitos. Not on my lack of checking what I needed for the recipe before it was time to cook…

Since I fell woefully short on sour cream (and I did call Nanny to see if I could borrow some, but she was out, too), I added about 1/2 cup of shredded cheese at the end. That was fine, but I think the flavor would have been much better with the 8 ounces of sour cream. I’ll make this again with the correct amount of ingredients.

Even with the changes, Greg and Jessi gobbled this up. I don’t make tuna casserole very often (another instance of “I ate it so often when I was a kid, I don’t want it now”), but they really love it. When I do make it, I always use Kluski noodles. They’re firmer and we like the texture better in this dish. kluski

This is another recipe. (When I was menu planning for this week, I went to Allrecipes and typed in mushroom soup under ingredients. I didn’t have any potatoes, so I typed that under the “don’t want” category, then clicked on ‘search’.)
      Tuna Delicious
            Prep Time: 20 Minutes
            Cook Time: 15 Minutes   Ready In: 35 Minutes
            Servings: 4
      1 (8 ounce) package egg noodles
      1 tablespoon vegetable oil
      1 onion, chopped

1 (6 ounce) can tuna, drained (I used a 12 oz. can)

      1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream
      of mushroom soup
      1 (8 ounce) container sour cream
      1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add egg
noodles and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.
      2. In a large skillet over medium heat, fry onion in oil until
browned. Mix in tuna and mushroom soup. Stir in sour cream and heat through.
Mix together the cooked egg noodles and sauce and serve.

I served this casserole with steamed frozen peas.


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Creamy Mustard Pork Chops

"Seasoned, browned pork chops simmer in a creamy mustard-laced mushroom sauce."

This is one of the new recipes I’m trying this week. I used some of the homemade cream of mushroom soup, which tastes pretty good, but isn’t very appetizing-looking (so I didn’t take a photo). It’s also much runnier than canned soup, so it needs some extra simmering time to reduce and thicken. Otherwise, the sauce is quite flavorful.

This recipe is from

      Creamy Mustard Pork Chops
      Submitted By: Campbell's Kitchen
      Cook Time: 25 Minutes Ready In: 25 Minutes
      Servings: 4
      4 boneless pork chops, 3/4-inch thick
      1 1/2 teaspoons lemon pepper seasoning
      1 tablespoon butter or margarine
      1 (10.75 ounce) can Campbell's®
      Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup or Campbell's® Condensed 98% Fat Free
      Cream of Mushroom Soup
      1/2 cup milk
      1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
      1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
      1. Sprinkle chops with lemon pepper seasoning. Heat butter in skillet.
Cook chops 10 minutes or until browned.
      2. Add soup, milk and mustard. Heat to a boil. Cover and cook over low
heat 10 minutes or until chops are done. Sprinkle with parsley.

I served these with brown & wild rice and green beans.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Freezing Soupy Stuff

A couple of weeks ago I made some homemade cream of mushroom soup and put it in the freezer. My container of choice was zipper bags. With bags, the food freezes flat, so it doesn’t take up as much room, and is easily stacked in the freezer.

One of the handy tips I share with people when they attend my freezer cooking class is how to fill those zipper bags with “soupy stuff” without making a huge mess.

1.  You need freezer grade zipper bags and a deep container.

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2.  Tuck the open bag down into the container.

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3. Choose a container that allows the top of the zipper bag to be folded down over the top edge. If the opening is too wide, the bag won’t fit. Fold the top of the bag over the edge of the container by about 1/2”.

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Fill the bag using a ladle or small measuring cup. Stop filling at least 1/2” from the container top.

4. Pull the top of the bag up and seal the zipper. Then pull the bag out of the container. Remove the air from the bags (I open the bag a little bit and carefully push the air out.) Seal the zipper again.

02-09-10 035

5. The bags should be dated and labeled before filling, but if you forgot (ahem), use a Sharpie now. You can see how the bags are lying flat on a cookie sheet. This is how I transport them to the freezer in the garage, and I leave them on the cookie sheet until they are frozen. There are wire racks in the freezer and the contents of the bag would freeze around the wires if they weren’t on a solid surface. Don’t ask how I know that…

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Sometimes with soupy or liquid contents, I double bag. Just slide the full bag into another freezer bag and seal. You can remove the double bag after freezing if you like. This is a great precaution to take in case the zipper fails on the first bag. Again, let’s not ask…

This method can also be used for less soupy dishes like casseroles or vegetable dishes. Again, make sure to squeeze out the air – frozen air takes up freezer space and compromises the quality of your yummy food!


Monday, February 15, 2010

Menu Monday

I’m actually going to plan this week’s menu as I type…

Monday – Salmon, green pepper couscous (recipe to follow), green salad

Tuesday – Oatmeal pancakes, scrambled eggs, link sausages, fresh fruit cup

Wednesday – Fagioli soup, homemade bread

Thursday – Baked creamy chicken taquitos, black beans w/ cilantro, green salad

Friday – Homemade pizza, green salad

Salmon with couscous is one of my favorite meals. When I can’t grill it, I cook the salmon in the grill pan on the stove. Just dab with a little olive oil and sprinkle with a tiny bit of salt and pepper, then cook 3 to 4 minutes on each side. (I like my salmon cooked all the way through, thank you.)

Usually I just make plain couscous, using chicken broth instead of water. Tonight I wanted to add a little something to it, change up the flavor a bit, and a quick Google search brought me to this:

Green Pepper Couscous
1 Tbsp butter or margarine
1/2 medium onion, sliced (about 1 cup)
2 medium green bell peppers, diced (about 2 cups)
4 medium cloves garlic, crushed through a press
1-1/2 cups water
1 cup precooked couscous
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Melt butter in a nonstick saucepan and add onion. Sauté gently for about 10
minutes, or until onion is golden. Add green peppers and garlic and sauté
for another 5 minutes. Add water and bring to a boil. Stir in couscous,
cover, and remove from the heat. Let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork
and add salt and pepper to taste.

Note: I only used half a bell pepper and two cloves of garlic, because Greg would like that better. Didn’t get a photo, but it was a pretty supper plate!


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Surf, Turf, & Love

We celebrate St. Valentine’s Day, but it’s usually understated and simple. Some flowers and a candlelit steak supper. This year was only a little different.

Yesterday we came across a “surf & turf” special at a big grocery store in Lincoln. This included two 5-ounce filet mignon steaks, and two 5-ounce lobster tails for one very reasonable price. I looked at Greg and said, “I haven’t bought you anything for Valentine’s Day yet, have you bought me anything?” He shook his head “no”, and I said, “So we get this and it’s ‘Happy Valentine’s Day’ to us? He smiled and nodded. 

02-01410 021We’ve eaten lobster many times, but only cooked it once, when Nick was a baby and there was a deal on them at a local grocery. That’s like, twenty-five years ago. Hmmmm…


So we thought we’d grill both the surf and the turf, but awoke this morning to a snowstorm, the wind howling, and freezing cold temperatures. Ack. No grilling outside today. We do have a cast iron grill pan, though, and that worked great for the filets. After doing some research online, we decided to boil the lobster tails. Instructions were for boiling salted water, and cooking for one minute per ounce of weight. Easy enough.

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Greg grilled the steaks, then while they rested, he boiled the lobsters.







Five ounce tail02-01410 029s, so they cooked for five minutes…









Sorry this last photo is a little blurry. By then, I’d had02-01410 030

a little bit of this:

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(Columbia-Crest is one of the wineries we visited when we went to Seattle. This merlot-cabernet blend is perfect with beef.)

It was a lovely meal with twice-baked potatoes, garlic bread, and a fresh Caesar salad. I was too busy feasting to get a photo, though. :o)

I love when we work together and then enjoy the end results together. Happy Valentine’s Day!


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup

We all know that homemade is fresher and more nutritious than processed, and that’s definitely true for canned “cream of …” soups.  The other day I came across a recipe for cream of mushroom soup made in the Crockpot, and stored in the freezer, from A Year of Slow Cooking. This is right up my alley – and I’ll recommend this blog at my next Freezer Cooking class in April.

So yesterday I got the baby down for a nap, and headed to the kitchen. It just takes a few minutes to wipe off two pounds of mushrooms – looks like alot, huh? They filled up the Crockpot, too, after being cut into quarters. Throw in the spices and squeeze in the lemon juice, then add the broth and water, and walk away for eight hours. Can’t get too much easier, I think.

Here’s the recipe as it’s printed on the original blog, with my comments following:

Cream of Mushroom Soup (Crockpot)

“This recipe is for a LARGE Crockpot. Don't attempt these proportions in anything smaller than a 5qt.

--2 lbs mushrooms 02-09-10 019

--2 cups water

--2 cans (4 cups) vegetable broth

--1 qt of milk (to add later)

--juice of 1 lemon

--1/2 t salt

--1/2 t pepper

--1 T dried minced onion

--2 T Italian seasoning

The Directions:

Wash your mushrooms well and cut them into fourths. Put into your stoneware and add the spices and lemon juice. Pour in the vegetable broth and water. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

CAREFULLY use an immersion hand blender and blend until soupy. If you don't have an immersion hand blender, very, very carefully blend in batches in a regular blender.

Stir in an entire quart of milk. I used fat free cow's milk. You can use any percentage you'd like; even cream.02-09-10 025

Let cool on the counter for quite a few hours, then pour into freezer bags to store or plastic containers. I used 2 cups per bag--which is 16 fluid ounces. A can of cream-of-soup is 10 ounces.”

This smelled amazing while it was cooking! After I blended the mushrooms, the crock went into the frig overnight. This morning I added what was left of a pint of fat-free half & half and a little bit of heavy cream, then added skim milk to make the 4 cups. It’s bagged and in the freezer, and I think will add so much flavor to any recipe that calls for canned cream of mushroom soup. Yes, it’s runnier than the canned stuff, but could easily be thickened if desired.

I’m going to leave it in the freezer until next week, then will use it in a recipe. If it’s awesome, like I suspect, I’m going to make another batch just so I have plenty on hand.



Monday, February 8, 2010

Menu Monday

Okay, so I braved the Arctic air (the icy wind just takes my breath away) and did a quick inventory of the freezer so I could plan our meals this week. I didn’t purchase any groceries this weekend except for the few things that Greg and Jess each picked up when they were in town, so we’re working out of the freezer and pantry this week.

Sunday – Super Bowl food included steak quesadillas (thinly sliced a leftover grilled rib-eye from the frig), homemade “refried” beans (cooked in the Crockpot, then blended smooth), homemade salsa from the freezer, and tortilla chips. That one steak made enough quesadillas that we all ate our fill for supper, and there was plenty left for Greg and Jess to take for their lunches today.  Jess whipped up some chocolate banana bread pudding for dessert. She got the recipe from a Williams Sonoma Desserts cookbook I picked up at the library.

Monday – Pork-fried rice (leftover pulled pork, plus a couple of pork chops from the freezer that need to be used) using a bag of frozen Asian veggies. I bet Greg would pick up an order of crab rangoons and eggrolls on his way home…

Tuesday – Turkey mignon, baked sweet potato, steamed broccoli, whole grain rolls

Wednesday – Crockpot Chicken w/ Black beans and cream cheese, green salad (I’ll use corn frozen last summer, and homemade salsa)

Thursday – Spaghetti w/ meat sauce (sauce made using homemade tomato sauce from the freezer), green salad, garlic bread

Friday – Southwest Burgers, chips, fresh veggies w/ dip


Monday, February 1, 2010

Menu Monday

The weather wasn't half bad yesterday, so Greg fired up the grill and I thawed some steaks. Yum!
Sunday - Grilled rib eye w/ Pioneer Woman's bleu cheese and onion sauce (so good!). Greg had a baked potato, I had mashed cauliflower. We finished the leftover creamy mushrooms from last week.

Monday - Beef burritos, "refried" beans (from the crockpot), salsa & chips, green salad

Tuesday - Salmon, Creamy Rice Pilaf w/ peas, green salad, whole grain roll

Wednesday - Pulled pork (shoulder roast in the crockpot) sandwiches, coleslaw, sweet potato oven fries

Thursday - Cheesy chicken vegetable soup, homemade bread

Friday - Turkey/sage sliders, chips, veggies w/ dip