Monthly Archives: March 2011

Black Bean and Beef Tostadas

Day 86: “Betty Crocker’s Cook It Quick!”

March 27, 2011

Needing a fast meal that anyone in my family can cook with simple instructions is something that is important in our family. The tostada recipe was handed off to my husband to make while I drove a child around. Love the fact that I can leave and come home less than 30 minutes later and dinner is on the table. No magic here, just good planning on my part so I got out of cooking dinner!

Cookbooks that have quick in the title act like a magnet and I am attracted to them! Many quick recipes tend to lean on the not so healthy side and if they are healthy my fussy eaters want nothing to do with them! I quickly found something that everyone (almost everyone) would eat. Most of the recipes found within this cookbook are easy with common ingredients that you can find in your local grocery store. The cookbook is divided into many sections like “10 Quick Recipes You Can’t Live Without” or “Lighter Fare” and the section I found my recipe in, “Easy Pasta, Grains and Beans”.  You will find 100 quick recipes within the pages of this cookbook. I think Betty Crocker knows what she is talking about! There are even tips so that you can cook meals even faster. How about this one, “To save time, freeze cooked pasta, grains and cooked beans. Thaw and add to the recipes calling for cooked pasta, grains and beans.”  Love it!

The Ruling: Well almost everyone ate it. Youngest still thinks it is cruel to eat ground anything so he passed and melted cheese on his tostada shell instead. I did make him eat an apple and a peanut butter sandwich to balance it all out! What I loved about this is the black beans. I always forget to add them and I don’t keep them stocked in my house. I need to start buying more of them and remember to through them in more dishes. Middle child eats black beans so this is a great way to help him get some fiber in his otherwise fiber less diet.

Black Bean and Beef Tostadas, page 146

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 1 can (10 ounces) chopped tomatoes and green chilies, undrained
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 6 tostada shells
  • 1 cup shredded lettuce
  • 2/3 cup chopped tomato
  • 3/4 cup shredded Colby-Monterey Jack Cheese

Directions:

  1. Cook beef and onion in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until beef is brown; drain.
  2. Stir in tomatoes. Heat to boiling; reduce heat to low. Simmer uncovered about 10 minutes or until liquid has evaporated. Stir in beans.
  3. Heat tostada shells as directed on package. Top tostada shells with bean mixture, lettuce, tomato and cheese.

To Joyful, Simplified Living,

MS. Simplicity

MS. Simplicity, also known as Melissa Schmalenberger  operates her business as I Did it with MS. Simplicity.  She is a Professional Organizer based out of Fargo, ND and her website can be found at www.ididit-fargo.com .  Need to contact MS. Simplicity privately, you can email her at melissa@ididit-fargo.com.  For daily organizing tips find the MS. Simplicity fan page  here.

If you try any of my suggestions, I would love to hear from you.  It helps me to understand what my readers want me to write about and what they think is a waste of their time….thanks for taking the time to help me out.

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Filed under Fast Meals, Main Dishes

Malt Brownies

Day 85: “The Ultimate Brownie Book

March 26,2011

I think this is the week that I am making a lot of sweets. Maybe it is because I am so sick of winter or maybe it is because I am so sick of winter…..did I already say that? Yes it is true…..I am so sick of winter. So the comfort food dishes continue! I hope you find these dishes better than sun light and warm temperatures! Who am I kidding? I have been eying the grilling cookbooks. I even had my husband and son bring out the grill from winter storage this week….yes they had to climb through snow to do it. But they love me almost as much as they love food on the grill!

So how hard do you think it was to find a brownie recipe in this cookbook that my family would eat? You guessed it….not hard at all. Maybe they would have found the Cola Brownies interesting, or the Sweet Potato Brownies, or maybe the Marshmallow Blondies…..my husband would have hated those. He hates marshmallows….must be some tragic event in his life that is centered around marshmallows. Well I happened to have malted milk powder in my cabinet and I had all the other ingredients so I had my winner!

The Ruling: Very rich brownie and of course everyone loved it. What is not to love about a brownie? They cookbook said that they would be even better the second day……really? We never made it there! Nice fudgy brownie and if you don’t mind a few calories, this one gets a gold star.

Malt Brownies, page 70

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus additional for the pan
  • 1 cup malted milk powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus additional for the pan, at room temperature
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 3 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped, or semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Position the rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9 x 13 inch baking pan; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, malted milk powder, baking powder, and salt until well combined, Set aside.
  3. Place the butter and both kinds of chocolate in the top of a double boiler set over simmering water. If you don’t have a double boiler, place the butter and both kinds of chocolate in a heat safe bowl that fits snugly over a small pot of simmering water. Stir constantly until half the butter and chocolate is melted. Remove the top of the double boiler or the bowl from the pot; then continue stirring, away from the heat, until the butter and chocolate are completely melted. Transfer the mixture toa large bowl and allow it to cool slightly about 5 minutes.
  4. Beat the sugar into the chocolate mixture with a whisk or with an electric mixer at medium speed. Continue beating until the mixture is smooth and uniform, about 6 minutes by hand or 3 minutes with a mixer. Beat in the eggs one at a time, allowing each to be thoroughly incorporated before adding the next. After beating in the third egg for 1 minutes, beat int he vanilla.
  5. With a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula. stir in the flour mixture just until incorporated. Do not beat. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, spreading it gently to the corners.
  6. Bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick or cake tester comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Set the pan on a wire rack to cool for at least 30 minutes.

To Joyful, Simplified Living,

MS. Simplicity

MS. Simplicity, also known as Melissa Schmalenberger  operates her business as I Did it with MS. Simplicity.  She is a Professional Organizer based out of Fargo, ND and her website can be found at www.ididit-fargo.com .  Need to contact MS. Simplicity privately, you can email her at melissa@ididit-fargo.com.  For daily organizing tips find the MS. Simplicity fan page  here.

If you try any of my suggestions, I would love to hear from you.  It helps me to understand what my readers want me to write about and what they think is a waste of their time….thanks for taking the time to help me out.

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Filed under Sweets, Uncategorized

Week In Review: March 19

I love doing these reviews as it gives you links to all of the recipes I made for the week in one spot. So did you miss any of my family meal posts from the last week?  Once again, never fear, as I will give you quick links to them and you too can make some fun family meals this week.  My top two would be the Mini Black and White Cookies  and the Spinach Artichoke Cheesy Tortellini, because it reminds me of spinach artichoke dip minus the chips!

Saturday: Pistachio-Dusted Pork Chops

Sunday: Spinach Artichoke Cheesy Tortellini

Monday: Grilled Cheese with a Grown-up Twist

Tuesday: Indonesian Peanut Chicken

Wednesday: Winter Pudding Cake

Thursday: Texas BBQ chicken in the Slow Cooker

Friday: Mini Black and White Cookies

To Joyful, Simplified Living,

MS. Simplicity

MS. Simplicity, also known as Melissa Schmalenberger  operates her business as I Did it with MS. Simplicity.  She is a Professional Organizer based out of Fargo, ND and her website can be found at www.ididit-fargo.com .  Need to contact MS. Simplicity privately, you can email her at melissa@ididit-fargo.com.  For daily organizing tips find the MS. Simplicity fan page  here.

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Mini Black and White Cookies

Day 84: “The Gourmet Cookie Book”

March 25, 2011

If you have ever been to New York City, chances are that you have tried the famous Black and White cookie. I was in New York in October of 2009 and I am going back in October 2011.  I will have a Black and White cookie again. There are certain things that you have to eat while in New York, one is the pizza, obvious. But the second is the Black and White cookie, not so obvious. The cookie is not your particular cookie consistency, more cake-like than cookie.

A cookbook that highlights the best cookies from each year in “Gourmet” magazines history. From 1941-2009….that is a lot of cookies! The 1940’s start with a Cajun macaroon and 2009 ends with Grand Marnier Glazed Pain D’Epice Cookies. Many of these cookies Santa would be happy to find under the tree. Most if not all of these cookies my kids would be thrilled to find on a plate after school! My only complaint about the cookbook is that the font is too small!  I must be getting….sob…..old!

The Ruling: Is there any doubt that we all loved it?! Just like I remembered in New York. I was a little scared of the frosting of the cookie. I don’t have a good record of frosting cookies…..it has to do with me not wanting to take my time or something like that! So glad I decided to take the plunge and make them. The only downside is I wish I would have doubled the batch as these only made 2 dozen!

Mini Black and White Cookies, page 142

Ingredients:

For cookies:

  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup well shaken buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg

For the Icing:

  • 2 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 to 6 tablespoon water
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

Directions:

  1. Make cookies: Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat over to 350 degrees F. Butter 2 large baking sheets.
  2. Whisk together four, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Stir together buttermilk and vanilla in a cup. Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes, then add egg, beating until combined well. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture and buttermilk mixture alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture, and mixing just until smooth. Drop rounded teaspoons of batter 1 inch apart onto baking sheets. Bake, switching positions of sheets halfway through baking, until tops are puffed, edges are pale and golden, and cookies spring back when touched, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool.
  3. Make icing while cookies cool: Stir together confectioners’ sugar, corn syrup, lemon juice, vanilla, and 2 tablespoons water in a small bowl until smooth. If icing is not easily spreadable, add more water, 1/2 teaspoon at a time. Transfer half of icing to another bowl and stir in cocoa, adding more water, 1/2 teaspoon at a time, to thin to same consistency as vanilla icing. Cover surface with a dampened paper towel, then cover bowl with plastic wrap.
  4. Ice cookies: With offset spatula, spread white icing over half of flat side, the bottom, of each cookie. Starting with cookies you iced first, spread chocolate icing over other half.

To Joyful, Simplified Living,

MS. Simplicity

MS. Simplicity, also known as Melissa Schmalenberger  operates her business as I Did it with MS. Simplicity.  She is a Professional Organizer based out of Fargo, ND and her website can be found at www.ididit-fargo.com .  Need to contact MS. Simplicity privately, you can email her at melissa@ididit-fargo.com.  For daily organizing tips find the MS. Simplicity fan page  here.

If you try any of my suggestions, I would love to hear from you.  It helps me to understand what my readers want me to write about and what they think is a waste of their time….thanks for taking the time to help me out.

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Texas BBQ Chicken in the Slow Cooker

Day 83: “The Potluck Club Cookbook

March 24, 2011

Making your own BBQ sauce is always a good idea as it allows you to control the sugar that goes into it. While my kids have their favorite BBQ sauce, I thought I would check out the ingredient list on said sauce.  Number two on the list was sugar.  No surprise here! So I then looked at the ketchup bottle to see what the sugar content in that was. Well what do I find but high Fructose Corn Syrup. So when looking to make your own BBQ it is a good idea to check out that label before you buy. I think tomato sauce would work in place of the ketchup. Possibly honey or agave to sweeten the sauce instead of the brown sugar?  I think I need to experiment on this one a little more. If anyone has a good BBQ sauce recipe without sugar or high fructose corn syrup, be sure to pass it on to us. I wonder if there is a no sugar added ketchup that also does not have artificial sweetener in it?

The Potluck Club Cookbook” describes potlucks as eating in as the new eating out.  I describe this as want to be cool, gather your friends together and have a potluck. I say, I have been doing this for years….who knew I was so cool! But what if you are looking for those tried and true recipes to share with a group, this is your one stop cookbook.  Need an appetizer….how about Sausage-Stuffed Mushrooms?  Need a casserole…..how about Taco Casserole? Every food category is covered in this cookbook!

The Ruling: Everyone ate it….even the picky youngest one! The chicken was tender and juicy and full of flavor. Best part was I put everything in the slow cooker at 10:00am and didn’t think about it until we were just about to eat. I decided to throw some biscuits in the oven and we had our chicken on a biscuit, very yummy! I cooked ours on low instead of high so I could forget about it all day.

Texas Barbecued Chicken in a Crock-Pot, page 52

Ingredients:

  • 3-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 cups tomato ketchup
  • 3 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp. pepper, or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients except chicken in the Crock-Pot. Next add chicken, coating all sides with the sauce. Cover and cook chicken on high for 3-4 hours. When chicken is thoroughly cooked, remove from pot and cut in bite-sized chunks or shred. Put chicken back into pot and stir into sauce. Keep Crock-Pot on low until ready to serve. This is good over rolls or cooked rice.

To Joyful, Simplified Living,

MS. Simplicity

MS. Simplicity, also known as Melissa Schmalenberger  operates her business as I Did it with MS. Simplicity.  She is a Professional Organizer based out of Fargo, ND and her website can be found at www.ididit-fargo.com .  Need to contact MS. Simplicity privately, you can email her at melissa@ididit-fargo.com.  For daily organizing tips find the MS. Simplicity fan page  here.

If you try any of my suggestions, I would love to hear from you.  It helps me to understand what my readers want me to write about and what they think is a waste of their time….thanks for taking the time to help me out.

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Filed under Main Dishes, Slow Cooker, Uncategorized

Winter Pudding Cake, Don’t Let The Name Fool You

Day 82: “Icebox Cakes

March 23, 2011

Icebox Cakes are those that don’t need to be baked in an oven. They are great to make on those hot summer days when you don’t want to turn on the oven and heat up the house. But even in winter I like to skip turning on the oven as well. Making a dessert with a store-bought pound cake couldn’t be easier.

The Icebox Cakes cookbook is full of some great ideas for those nobake cakes and desserts. I have found that icebox cakes take just a little time to create and very little skill to create. Many pictures to go along with this cookbook and I love those pictures.

The Ruling: Everyone loved it….of course. Even my non-fruit eating middle child ate it. Simple to make. The only hard part was to make the pound cake cover the bottom of the pan, like a jigsaw puzzle with cake. Similar challenge to the Zuccoto that I made that made my eyes cross. This time I took a deep breath and worked with some patience.  Turned out great….funny what happens when I take my time!

Winter Pudding Cake, page 41

Ingredients:

  • Two 12-ounce bags unsweetened frozen mixed berries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • One 10- to 12-ounce store-bought pound cake
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened and cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, chilled

Directions:

  1. Combine the frozen berries and 1/2 cup of the sugar in a medium-size saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the mixture resembles a loose jam, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a bowl to cool completely.
  2. Cut the pound cake into 1/3 inch thick slices. Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with cake slices, cutting them where necessary to cover the bottom of the pan completely. Set aside the remaining slices.
  3. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese, the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, and the vanilla extract until smooth.
  4. In a medium-size bowl, using an electric mixer, whip the heavy cream until it hold stiff peaks. Gently fold into the cream cheese mixture.
  5. Spread half of the cooled fruit mixture over the pound cake. Smooth half of the cream cheese mixture over the fruit. Top with the remaining cake slices, cutting them to fit where necessary. Spread the remaining fruit over the cake. Smooth the remaining cream cheese mixture over the fruit.
  6. Wrap the pan tightly in plastic and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 1 day. Release the sides of the springform pan from the cake and serve.

To Joyful, Simplified Living,

MS. Simplicity

MS. Simplicity, also known as Melissa Schmalenberger  operates her business as I Did it with MS. Simplicity.  She is a Professional Organizer based out of Fargo, ND and her website can be found at www.ididit-fargo.com .  Need to contact MS. Simplicity privately, you can email her at melissa@ididit-fargo.com.  For daily organizing tips find the MS. Simplicity fan page  here.

 If you try any of my suggestions, I would love to hear from you.  It helps me to understand what my readers want me to write about and what they think is a waste of their time….thanks for taking the time to help me out.

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Indonesian Peanut Chicken

Day 81: “Taste of Home Slow Cooker

March 22, 2011

I always like to find unique food items to put in the slow cooker. I had never tried the peanut butter combination in the slow cooker, but thought what the heck. I have been in love with chicken and peanuts ever since my friend Sara made me Ground Nut Stew. Sara’s was filled with a lot more vegetables but this is an easy alternative to it.  But if you have the vegetables, by all means throw them in there! 

As I have blogged before about how I love the “Taste of Home” magazine but it is often so packed full of recipes I have a hard time organizing them. And there is a thing you need to know about me, I like to have my recipes organized. So when “Taste of Home” comes out with a cookbook, I always like to take a long look at it. You know with “Taste of Home” you are going to find recipes that are family tested, not ones that are tested on people in a kitchen lab. This isn’t much different from the other slow cooker cookbooks out there, but this one does have many pictures. So many slow cooker cookbooks out there are simply missing pictures for this visual person. This cookbook also has not one but 2 indexes. One index is an Alphabetical Recipe and index and the other is General index that has the food by category. I want to try the Cherry Cola Chocolate Cake…..looks yummy! Or the Ruben Spread…..I don’t even like sauerkraut but I think I would like this one!

The Ruling: Everyone thought it was pretty good.  It was so simple to make as I had my husband cut the chicken for me the night before so all I had to do was dumpy all the ingredients in the slow cooker, give it a good stir and away I went for the day. I might actually keep this cookbook for a few more days and see what else I decide to make out of it.

Indonesian Peanut Chicken, page 139

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 cup reduced fat creamy peanut butter
  • 3 tablespoons chili sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 cups cooked brown rice
  • 6 tablespoons chopped salted peanuts
  • 6 tablespoons chopped sweet red pepper

Directions:

  1. Place the chicken in a 4 quart, slow cooker. In a small bowl, combine the onion, water, peanut butter, chili sauce, salt, cayenne and pepper; pour over chicken. Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours or until chicken is no longer pink.
  2. Remove chicken; cool slightly. Shred meat with two forks and return to slow cooker; heat through. Serve with rice. Sprinkle with peanuts and red pepper.

To Joyful, Simplified Living,

MS. Simplicity

MS. Simplicity, also known as Melissa Schmalenberger  operates her business as I Did it with MS. Simplicity.  She is a Professional Organizer based out of Fargo, ND and her website can be found at www.ididit-fargo.com .  Need to contact MS. Simplicity privately, you can email her at melissa@ididit-fargo.com.  For daily organizing tips find the MS. Simplicity fan page  here.

If you try any of my suggestions, I would love to hear from you.  It helps me to understand what my readers want me to write about and what they think is a waste of their time….thanks for taking the time to help me out.

4 Comments

Filed under Main Dishes, Slow Cooker