Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Ah, burritos. So good in so many ways!

Our family's version of it is pretty simple. You can spice it up or down to your tastes.

1 pound ground beef
1 can refried beans
about 2 cups cheddar cheese
about 12 large to medium flour tortillas
1 cup of your favorite salsa

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Ground beef in a large skillet. Drain.
  3. Stir salsa and refried beans into beef. Stir and cook on medium-low until combined.
  4. Place a spoonful of the meat/bean mixture on each tortilla, evenly distributing among them all.
  5. Sprinkle cheese on top of meat/bean mixture.
  6. Add anything else you want in the burritos. (Onions, peppers, cumin, cilantro, lettuce, tomato)
  7. Roll tortilla and put seam-side down in a 13x9 casserole.
  8. Bake 15 minutes or until cheese is melted completely.
  9. Serve with sour cream.

Chicken quesadillas

The Menu says chinese food tonight. Translation: I'm making the fried rice posted last week.

But if that doesn't suit your tastebuds, try this.

  1. Preheat the oven to broil.
  2. Dice up some of that leftover chicken from the beer-butt chicken.
  3. Saute some diced onions in butter, then add the chicken until warm.
  4. Place flour tortillas on a baking sheet.
  5. Spoon the chicken and onion mixture on the tortillas and spread evenly.
  6. Top with cheddar cheese or colby-jack.
  7. Place a second tortilla on top.
  8. Broil on low until cheese is just melted or until tortillas start to turn golden brown.
  9. Put a dollop of sour cream on each quesadilla and enjoy!

Tip: use a pizza cutter to cut the quesadillas into wedges, to make it easier for the kiddos to eat.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Beer Butt Chicken

I love making beer-butt chicken. Not only does it make delicious meat and enough for multiple meals, it also does all the cooking outside. It does use a significant amount of propane (yes, we'd make Mr. Hill proud!) but it is SO worth it.

I am a cheater. I bought the can holder to make it easier to grill the chicken, and I just use the instructions that came with it. If you don't have any beer available or don't want to use it, I've heard you can substitute a can of soda.

Me? I like it the original way. And so, here is the original beer-butt chicken recipe, thanks to This Site:


Beer Butt Chicken Recipe courtesy of Grilling America, by Rick Brown (2003 ReganBooks).
(Rick Browne is also host of public television’s “Barbecue America”)

DRY RUB 1 tsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. savory or oregano
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. paprika
1 TBS. sea salt –ground
1 tsp. dry yellow mustard

1 cup apple cider
2 TBS. olive oil
2 TBS. balsamic vinegar
6 oz. warm beer

To cook a large 4-5 pound chicken with indirect heat on a charcoal or gas grill.
Cooking time 1 1/4 – 2 hours.
Use a grill with lid large enough to cook a chicken standing upright.

Mix the rub in a small bowl until it’s well incorporated. Wash, dry and season the chicken generously inside and out with the rub. Work the mixture well into the skin and under the skin wherever possible. Place in medium bowl, cover and set aside at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes.

Using a 12-oz. an of your favorite beer, pour out half the contents into a spray bottle, add the cider, olive oil, vinegar and set aside. Take the beer can in one hand and insert it into the ChickCAN

(The beverage can may be used alone, with the bird’s legs creating a pedestal)

OPTIONAL: You may add Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, minced garlic, onions, etc. to liquid. You can also use fruit juices, colas, or wine instead of beer.

Place the chicken over the ChickCANTM rack and beer can and place on the grill over indirect heat. To prevent flare ups on the grill place the rack into a disposable aluminum pie pan and add 1/4 cup of water

CAUTION: “Cook with indirect heat”! This method of cooking chicken does two things: first, it helps drain off the fat as the chicken cooks, second, the beverage steams the inside of the chicken, while the outside is cooked by the BBQ heat, making it the most moist bird you’ve ever laid yer eyes, or gums, on. Some people put a small potato or carrot in the neck opening of the chicken to keep the steam inside.

For Charcoal Grills: Place coals on one side of barbecue grill, cook chicken over the other side. Add 6-8 coals every 30 min.

For Multiple Burner Gas Grills: Turn gas to medium on one burner, place chicken over an unheated burner.

For oven use: Place in a disposable pie pan and add 1/4 cup of water. Cook at 350°.

Cook for 1 1/4- to 2 hours. During the cooking time spray the chicken all around with the basting spray several times. The chicken is done when it is dark golden brown and the internal temperature reaches 180o in the thigh. Carefully remove the bird on the ChickCAN rack, and place it on heatproof counter top to rest for 5-10 minutes. Remove the chicken from the beer can with tongs while holding the rack with an oven mitt.

WARNING That aluminum can, and the liquid in it, is very hot and can burn you.

Give the chicken one more spritz of the basting spray and then carve. Serve and enjoy!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Grilled steak

I wasn't going to post this as a recipe, because I assume everyone knows how to grill a steak. But then again, does everyone know how to grill a good steak?

  • First step: get a good steak. The more marbling (white specks of fat throughout the meat) the steak has, the more tender it will be.
  • Here's a great publication on meat quality and preparation.
  • Don't get in a hurry. I tend to screw up steaks by essential flash-burning them. I love the crunch of the fat (I know; that's just gross) but it's not the correct way to cook the steak.
  • Make sure you get the safe internal temperature for the meat: minimum of 145 degrees F.
  • Add whatever spices or seasonings you want. If I'm eating it as a grilled steak, I'll just add a little worchestershire sauce to it. If I'm going to use the steak in fajitas, I'll just add some southwest seasoning as a rub. A tender, top quality steak won't need anything at all. For the more tough the meat (usually also the cheaper cuts), a marinade can help break down the "tough" part of it and improve the flavor and tenderness.
  • Consider adding an extra steak or two to the grill, while you've got it fired up. Leftover steak makes excellent fajitas!

When in doubt, go to the NCBA or your state beef organization. They KNOW beef like no others. Another great source: the K-State meat science department. Dr. Hunter KNOWS his stuff.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Weekly Recipe, July 26-August 1

Sunday, July 26
Grilled steak
Beer-butt chicken

Monday, July 27
Chicken quesadillas

Tuesday, July 28
Chinese food

Wednesday, July 29
Scrambled Eggs
Burritos, pico de gallo

Thursday, July 30
Oatmeal and fresh fruit
Out for lunch
Taco salad

Friday, July 31
Doughnut Day
Appetizers only: stuffed jalapenos, stacked Ritz

Saturday, August 1
Bacon quiche

BBQ Pork

You know that pork roast you made last night? Time to repackage it. After all, it IS the weekend and time to relax!

Shred the pork into chunks with a fork.
Pour your favorite barbeque sauce over it.
Either microwave for 2-3 minutes until warmed through, or put in a crock pot for about 4 hours on high or until warmed through. The meat is already cooked, so I don't worry as much about 160 degrees. (Feel free to correct me, food safety experts!)
Put on your favorite hamburger bun and serve with salad and/or chips.

Enjoy your Saturday!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Pork Roast

Pork Roast

I am spoiled; this I know. I have a side of beef and entire pork in my deep freeze. Not only does this save my grocery bills, it also allows me to test out more recipes with beef and pork in them.

Pork roast is by far my favorite cut of pork. No matter how you make it, I think it’ll taste delicious. Of the methods I’ve tried, this is my favorite.

Pork Roast
3-4 pound pork roast, thawed
Seasoning salt (I use about 3 tablespoons)
Pepper (about a teaspoon)
Olive oil
1 cup water
Aluminum foil

  1. Line a roasting pan with aluminum foil, making the strips of foil about 3 times longer than the pan is wide.
  2. Set the roast on a plate and pour about a tablespoon of olive oil over it. Use your hands to rub the olive oil all over the roast.
  3. Sprinkle seasoning salt and pepper on the roast and use your hands to rub it into the meat.
  4. Place the roast in the pan on the foil.
  5. Pour the water around the roast.
  6. Tent the foil over the roast.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for (here’s the tricky part) 18-20 minutes per pound of roast. So, a 3 pound roast would be 54-60 minutes; a 4 pound roast would be 72-80 minutes. I always use my meat thermometer and cook to an internal temperature of 160 degrees, so I know exactly when it’s done.
  8. When the time is up, take the roast out of the oven and let it rest at least 10 minutes before cutting it.

Add baked potatoes at the same time you put the roast in, and your meal can be done at the same time. The rule on baked potatoes: 45 minutes at 400 degrees F.; 60 minutes at 350 degrees F.; or 90 minutes at 325 degrees F.

Heard in our house this week

Me: Maggie, how long have you been eating Nesquik from the container?
Maggie: A year or two.

Jay: What kind of vegetables do you want to take to speech?
Lainie: Pepper jelly

Katie: I think this outfit makes me look kind of hip hop. Do you think it makes me look hip-hop, Mommy? Do I look rock star-ish?
Me: yes, yes you do.

Maggie: Why are the shoes "freaking"?
Me: What?
Maggie: Why are the shoes "freaking"?
Me: What are you talking about?
Maggie: You said to get your freakin' shoes on and get in the car. Why are the shoes freaking?
Me: Because it was the tenth time I told you to do that, because Mommy had a bad morning, and because Mommy was wrong in sayong that.

Maggie: Daddy, Jackson is on the 20 dollar bill. That's Andrew Jackson, isn't it? He was our 7th president. He made a lot of people mad.

Me: Why did we schedule the garage sale during fair week?
Jay: Because we're idiots.

Katie, after seeing her reserve and grand champion awards for 4-H horticulture, junir division: I feel like a champion. It's a nice feeling.

Maggie, at getting reserve champion for her last-minute black-eyed susan entry: I got a ribbon -- AND IT'S PINK!

Natalie, mid-babble (but not yet duplicated): mommmmmm

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Fried Rice Recipe

In case you didn’t get a chance to make the pizza rolls on Tuesday and are wondering what to eat tonight, here’s another “ol’ reliable” that we use. The peanut oil gives it an authentic, restaurant flavor, and the flexibility of the recipe means I usually have the ingredients on hand.

Fried Rice for 6
3 cups minute rice, cooked
2 eggs, beaten
1 small onion, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 carrot (or 3 baby carrots), diced
1-2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon peanut oil (can substitute vegetable oil)
1 chicken breast OR 1 cup diced ham, optional

  1. Prepare the minute rice as instructed on the box. Set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet to medium-high heat.
  3. If you are using meat, add the chicken or ham to the skillet and saute until cooked through. Remove from skillet and set aside
  4. Add the onions, celery, and carrots to the skillet. Stir fry until just tender.
  5. Add the meat and cooked rice to the skillet. Stir and let cook for 1-2 minutes over medium-high heat.
  6. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, beat the eggs.
  7. Pour the eggs over the rice mixture and stir until cooked through.

Bonus the meal by stopping by your local Chinese food restaurant or grocery store for a few egg rolls. Or, if you are really ambitious, you can make your own.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Tacos as backup

Tacos are a constant back-up meal in our house. Not only is it quick and a hit with everyone, but it usually turns into two meals. Tacos can be made in so many ways; you just need to play around with it to find what fits for your household.

Tacos, Our Style

1 pound ground beef
1 Taco Bell taco seasoning
Soft tortillas for the girls and taco shells for adults
Shredded cheddar
Sour cream
Additional optional toppings, including wedged tomatoes, diced bell pepper, jalapenos, bread-and-butter jalapenos, salsa, lettuce, onion, carrots and any other veggie that sounds good

  1. Cook the ground beef and prepare according to the directions on the Taco Bell seasoning packet.
  2. Spread sour cream on a tortilla or taco shell.
  3. Spoon beef on top of that, then cheddar cheese and any other toppings you want to add.

MEAL TWO: Mexi-cornbread
  1. Save any leftover taco meat and toppings.
  2. Prepare a boxed cornbread mix and add a can of cream corn.
  3. Stir taco leftovers into cornbread mixture.
  4. Pour into an 8x8 casserole.
  5. Combine 1 cup sour cream and 1 cup cheddar cheese, and drop the sour cream/cheese mix onto the cornbread mix.
  6. Bake according to the cornbread mix directions.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Fair Week: Pizza Roll

This week is our county fair, so I needed to make something that 1) would last for a couple meals and 2) reheated well and 3) packed easily. So, pizza rolls it is! I'm not talking about the frozen little saucers you can get at the grocery store (although some days, those can suffice.) I'm talking about a bread loaf stuffed with pizza flavor. It's easy to make and a hit with everyone I know who has tried it.

Save money tip: price check the mozzarella. I might be cheaper to buy a chunk of cheese and shred it at home. Also, you can buy shredded mozzarella when it's on super-sale and freeze it until you need it.

3 loaves frozen bread dough, thawed
2 eggs
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp parsley
1/2 cup EVOO aka olive oil
4 oz pepperoni
1/2 pound ham, shredded
1 pound sausage, browned and drained
1/2 pound mozzarella cheese, shredded

  1. Combine the meats and cheese in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, beat olive oil and spices into the eggs. Pour 3/4 of the egg mixture into the meats and cheese.
  2. On parchment paper or a floured surface, roll out the bread dough into rectangles. Spread the meat/cheese mixture onto the bread dough.
  3. Roll the dough into a jelly roll, pinching the edges and ends to seal.
  4. Place on a cookie or baking sheet. Brush the remaining egg mixture on top. (I like to let my girls smear it on, being sure their hands are washed thoroughly before and after.)
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

You can freeze one or two of the loaves for later use. Just be sure to let it cool completely before you freeze it, to minimize ice crystals and maximize taste.

Menu for the week: July 19-25

Sunday, July 19
Breakfast: Pancakes
Lunch: hamburgers and chips
Supper: Chef salad and yogurt smoothies

Monday, July 20
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Hot dogs, Mac-n-cheese
Supper: Meatballs and spaghetti

Tuesday, July 21
Breakfast: Blueberry muffins
Lunch: Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
Supper: Pizza Roll

Wednesday, July 22
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Leftover pizza roll
Supper: Leftover pizza roll with tomatoes and cucumbers

Thursday, July 23
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: OUT (every Thursday lunch is OUT.)
Supper: Leftover pizza roll (really. you'll have that much left and it's THAT good.)

Friday, July 24
Breakfast: Doughnut Day
Lunch: Ham sandwiches
Supper: Pork roast, microwave potatoes

Saturday, July 25 (My dad's birthday!)
Breakfast: Waffles
Lunch: Cheesy tacos
Supper: BBQ pork, corn on the cob

Monday, July 20, 2009

365 recipes in 365 days

I hereby promise to post menus for you to use for the next 365 days!

If you're wondering if my recipes will be something you can use, let me tell you about myself. I'm a mother to four girls, ages 7, 5, 3, and 4 months. My second daughter can't handle a lot of sugar, dairy, or cinnamon; my third daughter can't handle a lot of citrus. I love to use lots of spices and herbs, especially garlic, parsley, basil, cumin, thyme, mustard seed, and much much more. I don't like to salt food while I'm preparing it; I think that's why the salt shaker is on the table, so you can add salt to your liking then. It's very important to me that our meals are balanced, meaning they have some sort of meat, fruit, vegetable, dairy, and grain.

I work outside the home MWF, 8-5. I love to cook, but I usually have multiple "helpers" and limited time. I try often to make meals that create leftovers that can be easily recreated into a second or third meal.

We live on a small farm with a big garden, so I love to use fresh produce when I can and preserve it as much as possible. I also am lucky enough to have access to and room for beef and pork, so many of my recipes call for these two meats.

My average weekly grocery bill is $75, to feed our family of 6.

I'm just a cook -- not a chef, not a very good baker, just a cook. But, I like to try lots of different recipes, with lots of taste and variety. I'm determined to expose my kids to many foods, and teach them to enjoy it.

So, I hope to give you cheap, balanced, quick, easy, tasty menus and recipes. And I hope it helps make your mealtime more enjoyable and less stressful.


Friday, July 17, 2009


Natalie is one week shy of being 5 months old. (Wow, that's hard to believe!) And, she's had 3 bottles of formula. All the rest have been mama's milk. But, I'm afraid she's not getting enough. Or, I should say, I cannot pump enough to keep her satisfied at daycare, even with the addition of cereal and baby food. She's a hungry baby when I get there at 5. Ideally, she needs one more bottle per day.

I'm proud of what we've accomplished so far. I wasn't sure if we'd make it a week, when her first 2 days were spent eating every stinkin' hour. Then, again in May, I wasn't pumping enough for her at daycare, but thanks to daily meals of oatmeal and double-side feeding for awhile and pumping each night before I go to bed, we got by.

Time to pull out the big guns. Today, I went to the healthfood store and bought fenugreek and blest thistle. And as a pre-measure, I pumped 17 ounces in 4 sessions today. The immediate goal is 20 ounces per day; ideally, I'd like to send her to daycare with 25 ounces. I'll let you know how it goes.

Add to the challenge, I'm heading to Dallas/Fort Worth on August 3-5 for work. I have ONE bottle in the fridge. I need, oh, 7-10 more. That's just not going to happen between now and then. In the famous words of Ace Ventura, "I just can't do it, capt'n! I don't have the power!" So, she'll get formula those days, and hopefully will handle it fine. And our new goal...keep breastfeeding almost entirely until 6 months of age.


p.s. I know that Ace Ventura was quoting Star Trek, but Ace Ventura is much funnier!

pps I'm not looking forward to the hassle of getting a breastpump and then breastmilk and a breastpump through airport security.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Welcome to my funny farm

Last night we were walking through the grocery store and an older couple, obviously in love and apparently newlyweds, were discussing what to buy. A friend of theirs walked by and said, "I thought you told me last week you never argue with your beautiful bride." The man paused, looked at his wife, and playfully said, "She's not near as beautiful as she was last week."

I thought this was hilarious, as did the couple, but it's just one of many giggles I've had this past week. My girls especially crack me up, each in their own way. Here are my favs from this week.

Maggie is convinced that she's old enough to have a sleepover. (For fairness, Katie had her first sleepover when she was 6 and we're going to follow that through on all the girls.) The problem: Maggie wants to invite Jared and Carson. I may be open-minded about a lot of things, but a co-ed sleepover isn't one of them. She's also determined to pick out her own clothes, so our new rule is she can wear whatever she home. Otherwise, you'd all get to see the orange flowered shirt with the pink and brown plaid skorts and blue and green tinkerbell crocs (Wednesday's outfit).

Lainie works really hard at the words she says. It's the equivalent of me running a mile or two. So, when she says it, you know it's important to her. This week, we heard, "I wanna breed cows" and "Bite me" and "I want to color booty." Okay, so bite me was actually bite for me and color booty was actually Beauty, as in Beauty and the Beast. Still, it's hilarious to me.

Katie's pretty serious and self-aware. She'd be embarrassed if she knew I posted anything. But she was singing "Row Row Row Your Boat" yesterday, for Lainie's sake, and sang, "life is a butter dream." It wouldn't be as funny, except she really thought those were the words. I told her, I think I'm the only one who has butter dreams! :)

And Natalie? Well, I have a couple of hours of videos of her laughing now, and nothing makes you smile more than baby laughs.