I have a yummy treat for you!

Fried Green Tomatoes (ever watched the movie?)

1 cup flour
2 eggs beaten
1 cup dry bread crumbs (or even corn flakes)
1/2 cup shortening
2 to 3 green tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick

Optional: ranch salad dressing

Place flour, eggs and bread crumbs each in separate small bowls. Heat shortening in a large skillet over medium heat. Dip each tomato slice in the flour, eggs, and then bread crumbs. Place dipped tomato slices in skillet and cook until golden brown which should take about 2 minutes on each side. Reduce heat to low and cook an additional 3 minutes or until tender.

Serve with dressing for dipping. Your kids will beg for their new treat!

I am sad July is almost over

We are so close to the end of July...I am sad :( The summer has just flown by and next week it is time to start school. (Does anyone else remember when school started after Labor Day?) But it has been fun to post summer recipes and ideas, and I am really looking forward to August.

August--school time, school lunches, after school snacks. I hope you will joing me during the month of August when we explore ideas for easy on the budget and easy on time lunches--for both our kids and ourselves.

Come back and visit often.

Great tips for a little extra zing in your cooking

Today's Tips:
• If you have leftover chili or leftover beans from a bean dish, use them to replace the hamburger for nachos the next day.
• Applesauce can be a life saver for a quick and easy side dish. You can jazz it up by adding red cinnamon candies, or a touch of vanilla or apple pie spice in place of the usual cinnamon.
• Keep packages of French onion dip in your pantry. For a great flavor enhancement, add a tablespoon to homemade macaroni and cheese, sprinkle on cooked veggies, mix into meatloaf or hamburger patties or just sprinkle on different meats. Be daring and try some sprinkled on homemade (or canned) dinner rolls or in your favorite potato recipe.
• When making boxed macaroni and cheese, add 2 slices of American cheese to enhance the flavor.
• To save yourself from having to peel so many mashed potatoes for a lot of people or if you are short of regular potatoes, peel 2-3 regular potatoes. Cook and mash them as usual and then add them to a prepared batch of instant potatoes. Your friends and family won't be able to tell they are instant because the real potatoes give them the real potato texture, lumps and all.


Have you ever wondered?

Have you ever wondered how they make that wonderful Pico de Gallo that is served with all the good Spanish food that we love? I think that cilantro is absolutely one of my favorite food additions this year. If you have cilantro you can make anything taste good!

Try this recipe and you will be hooked forever! It seems like I just can't make enough. So, pardon me while I grab my chips and Pico de Gallo and go watch a chick flick!

1 large tomato, finely chopped (1 cup)
1 small green bell pepper, finely chopped (3/4 cup)
1/2 cup finely chopped unpeeled cucumber
1/4 cup finely chopped radishes or red onion
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 jalapeƱo chili, seeded and finely chopped (but watch out to wash your hands when you are finished chopping the jalapeno...or use gloves!)

1. Mix all ingredients in glass or plastic bowl. Cover and refrigerate until serving.

Chicken Alfredo Pasta Salad (on the run)

1 box (7.75 oz) Betty Crocker® Suddenly Salad Classic pasta salad mix
1/2 cup refrigerated Alfredo sauce
1 1/2 cups shredded deli rotisserie chicken (without skin)
1 cup halved grape or cherry tomatoes
1 cup halved sliced cucumber
2 tablespoons sliced fresh basil leaves

1. In 3-quart saucepan, cook pasta as directed on box. Drain; rinse with cold water to cool.
2. In small bowl mix seasoning mix from packet and Alfredo sauce. Place cooked pasta, chicken, tomatoes, cucumber and basil in serving bowl. Add Alfredo mixture; toss to evenly coat. Sprinkle with topping from packet and basil sprig, if desired. Serve immediately or refrigerate until serving time.

This recipe allows you to use all the short cuts you need in the summer heat. It wouldn't take much to do this from scratch--and the Alfredo sauce with the fresh basil makes it a yummy meal. Enjoy!

By the way, this recipe is compliments of my good friend Betty Crocker's personal website :)

Strawberry Cream Freeze

Doesn't the name just sound wonderful in this Arizona heat? I didn't even care what the recipe said, the name won me over! But on second thought, the recipe is a winner. From our friends at imponline.com, we have a wonderful recipe of homemade ice cream without the fuss of an ice cream maker.

6 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
2 pints strawberries, washed and hulled
2 teaspoons lemon juice
red food coloring

1. Beat the egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl until thick and creamy. Pour the cream into a small saucepan and heat until barely simmering. Add the egg mixture, whisking constantly.

2. Pour the cream mixture into a clean saucepan. Heat over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. (Do not overheat or the mixture will become lumpy.) Let cool.

3. Process the strawberries and lemon juice in a food processor or blender until smooth. Stir into the cream mixture. Stir in 3 or 4 drops of food coloring. Pour into a rigid, freezer-proof container. Cover and freeze until mushy, about 2 hours.

4. Beat the ice cream with an electric mixer on low speed until smooth. Freeze until frozen through, 3 to 4 hours. Before serving, place in the refrigerator for 20 minutes to soften slightly.

Choose ripe strawberries for the best color and flavor. As an alternative, try adding fresh blackberries and raspberries.

Summertime Salads

I love to go visit someone who is creative with salads! Don't you just envy when they take odds and ends out of the fridge and come up with a "WOW" salad? I have a friend Kathy who has her "basic salad fixings" and then just keeps throwing something new in each time. I never even knew that she started with the same stuff :) So here we go, salads, salads and more salads. I'll add some each day--maybe you can take an idea and come up with something even better.

Three Bean and Cheddar Salad
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas
1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans
1 (15-ounce) can black beans 1 large tomato
4 ounces Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup ranch salad dressing
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Boston or Bibb lettuce leaves
1/2 cup garlic croutons

Combine all cans of beans in colander, rinse, drain and put in large bowl. Chop tomato. Slice Cheddar into 1/4 inch cubes. Add Cheddar cubes, chopped tomato and ranch salad dressing to bean mixture, toss well. Stir in black pepper. Cover and refrigerate for about 15 minutes. Arrange lettuce leaves on individual salad places, top with bean mixture and sprinkle evenly with garlic croutons.

Something fast, easy and different!

Are you looking for something (1) fast, (2) easy, and (3) different? Well, here it is. It is a takeoff of an old favorite--but with a twist. While you are getting the meat portion ready, your family can step in and cut up the veggies and toppings. Its a win-win!

Barbecue Taco Platter

Bring to a boil and simmer 15 minutes:
1 lb ground beef, cooked and drained
1/2 pkg taco seasoning
1/4 cup water

Mix the following and spread on a plate. Top with ground beef mixture from above and also any of the toppings listed below. Drizzle with barbecue sauce and serve with chips.
1-8 oz cream cheese softened
1/2 envelope ranch salad dressing mix
1/4 cup milk

Additional toppings:
Chopped green chilies
Green onions, chopped

As a variation, cook up a plain pizza crust or Pillsberry Crescent roll dough (as a flat rectangle). Spread it all on the cooked crust and have a yummy dinner--your family is sure to ask for more!!!

Don't you just love a great drink?

I love smoothies--I really, really love smoothies. They are so easy and so good! The hardest part is deciding what I want to put in them. Let me give you a couple of ideas, then you can take it from there!

Some smoothies are called a meal in a glass. When the smoothie has berries and juice, they become healthy sources of carbohydrate and antioxidants. Foods that are rich in antioxidants give us an edge on our desires to become more healthy. So, here's to your health!

Place your choice of ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. If you want to "cool it down" throw in some ice cubes to make it a great slush.

Idea #1
1 1/4 cup fresh berries (or frozen)
3/4 cup plain yogurt (or vanilla yogurt is nice)
1/2 cup orange juice
2 Tbls. nonfat dry milk
1 Tbls. toasted wheat germ (if you happen to have it on hand)
1 Tbls. honey
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Idea #2
fresh or frozen berries
plain or vanilla yogurt (if you use vanilla, you don't have to use a sweetener)
orange juice (so that it isn't too thick)
banana (and a frozen banana is great too)

You can tell everyone that you are drinking this for health reasons--but let's admit it, it is just a wonderful treat to lighten your day!

Summer Squash Casserole

For those of who who have been abundantly blessed with squash, I offer this recipe. It is really tasty--and you can mix and match to whatever you have on hand.

1/2 cup oil
4 eggs, well beaten
1 cup Bisquick
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small can diced green chili
2 cups mild cheddar cheese, shredded
4 cups summer squash, coarsely chopped

Combine oil, eggs and Bisquick, then add onion, garlic, chili and cheese. Gently stir in squash and pour into well-greased 9x13 baking dish. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes or until done. Serves approximately 8 people.

Now, how easy is that to get your veggies for the day?

The Secret Family Recipe!

Now I don't share this secret family recipe with just anyone (only my closest 100 friends or so). But I have to tell you, my mother in law was the best cook in the world. She always had good food at her house--and let me assure you that when I was dating Stanley I always tried to find a way to go to his house so I could eat some of it (hmmm, should I be embarrassed at my confession?)! I loved the way that she served sandwiches. She made THE BEST pimento and cheese mix (my husband agrees with that), and she also had the best ground roast sandwiches that you have ever tasted. But, even with these great recipes, I think that she just had a flare for making a pretty sandwich. She always used Miracle Whip (which I must admit I do like better than mayo), but when she put it on the bread, she went from corner to corner--not just a lump spread in the middle of the bread. Then she would take tomato and lettuce to top it off--but always remembered to put some salt and pepper, oh my mouth is watering! So enjoy some down-home, back-in-time recipes.

So, now that you have the background, try these recipes.

Pimento and Cheese mix:

Mix grated cheese (either grate your own, or purchase those wonderful bags of already grated mild cheddar cheese) with chopped pimentos. (Do you know what pimentos are? You can find them in the aisle with the condiments. I like the "roasted peppers" and use the whole jar.)

Mix with Miracle Whip. Don't be stingy with the Miracle Whip, but you don't want it to drip either. Now comes the secret family recipe--put a little sugar in it--not much, but it seems to take any bitterness away from the mixture. Ahhh, sooooo delicious! Just don't forget that the key here is "presentation, presentation, presentation". Put a few veggies on the side with a little bit of dip and you've really got a great meal for your family.

Ground Roast mix:

Interesting, both my mother in law and my mom used this recipe. This is a personal favorite from when I was growing up. I'm sure it helped that my dad raised a beef for our use every year, but we had a Sunday roast meal every week. I think that in desperation, my mom decided to serve the roast as sandwich meat. She would take the roast and grind it up (can you remember the old grinders that attach to your kitchen counter and you twirl the handle?). After grinding it up, she would add Miracle Whip and even some finely chopped sweet pickles--you can cheat now and add sweet pickle relish. A dash of salt and pepper and you have another addition to your larder! Lettuce and tomatoes on top of the filling to go on the bread and you have a winner!

It all started out with cleaning the fridge...

So I opened the door of the fridge and everything jumped out at me--it was time to clean it out! Now you know that is the absolute worst thing that I wanted to do today, but it was a job that had to be done :) So, in the midst of my cleaning I found some good stuff (and apparently it is still edible). I found some baked potatoes wrapped in aluminum foil hiding in the back--probably quivering knowing they were next!

I took out the potatoes and got the wonderful inspiration to actually use them instead of throwing them away! (Funny, it's easier to dump stuff into the garbage than to use my brain and actually save money.) That is when I remembered the absolutely most fabulous potato soup that we served at our Young Women's Camp held at Camp LoMIA. Oh my goodness, this stuff just melts in your mouth. When you serve this (just don't make it too oven hot because it is July) your family will put you to the top of their list of Favorite Mothers! So, hang onto your hat and try this recipe out. You'll be trying to figure out how to serve it every season--oh, and just so you know, this freezes well and then you can have it for that last minute, need a fabulous meal! And by the way, this recipe is compliments of Robin Hyde. Thanks Robin!

I double this because they keep coming back for seconds, and thirds, and....

Potato Cream Cheese Soup by Robin

1/2 c finely chopped onions
1/4 c celery chopped
2 Tbsp butter

2 T flour (just thickens the mix)

Now we just start adding the really good stuff! In a 3 quart sauce pan, combine the broth and potatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cook until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally.
3 cups shredded potatoes (you can use left over potatoes cubed, or frozen hash browns are terrific)
3 cups chicken broth (don't have any? No problem--just use chicken bouillion mixed with 3 cups water)

Melt cream cheese with sour cream in microwave. Add to broth along with onions and celery. Add dill weed and ham (if desired) and simmer 5 minutes. Add evaporated milk. Simmer until thick. You can use regular milk to thin if you desire.
1/2 cup sour cream
4 oz cream cheese (now it's getting really good!!!)
2 Tbsp. finely chopped ham
1/2 tsp dill weed (I love this stuff)
pinch of salt/pepper
1 can evaporated milk

If you have left over ham--add chopped up ham (to your taste). Actually, the recipe calls for it--but I only use it some of the time.

Yum, yum--can't wait for supper tonight!!! Serve this with some fresh cornbread and this is a feast for a king (and his queen and family). Fresh french bread is also great to serve--you can use it to sop up the last wonderful morsels in your bowl! If you are by Safeway, they sell Bread Bowls--that is a real treat. You can pretend that you are eating out...! Enjoy!

It's salad tonight at our house!

Crispy Cucumber Salad

4 large cucumbers, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
6 radishes, thinly sliced
1 large tomato, cut into bite size chunks
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
1/3 cup pitted ripe olives
1-2 Tbsp. fresh basil
1/2 cup crumbled Feta cheese
1/3 cup Italian dressing

Toss everything together and serve. This salad can be served alone or with a small protein (like a chicken breast) on the side.

A little french bread (toasted of course) would be great with this recipe. But, I have been know to serve great bread sticks by using left over (that were probably on their way to being stale) hamburger or hotdog buns, buttered and sprinkled with a small amount of dill weed and then broiled until lightly brown. If I want to dress them up, I use my pizza cutter and trimming them up to different shapes.
(Salad recipe compliments of: www.livingonadime.com)

Wherever has the time gone?

Here it is--July 2010. The heat outside is up, so it's time to come up with some wonderful "cool" refreshing summer recipes. I'm for the easy, fast, and tasty foods. So, stick around and we'll get cookin' in the kitchen!