Category Archives: Casseroles

Strawberries in February

Happy February!

What do you have planned for this month? For me, February always seems to involve a lot of cooking. The weather in Texas can most accurately be described as “BLAH”  so that means a lot of indoor activities which for me means trying new recipes.

Last month I received the cookbook, Magnolia Table: A Collection of Recipes for Gathering, for my birthday.  This is what we’ve tried so far, and we’ve enjoyed allllll of them:

*Garlic Cheese Grits

*White Cheddar Bisque

*Roasted Elephant Garlic Bread

*Baked Chicken with Bacon Bottom & Wild Rice

 


Magnolia Table: A Collection of Recipes for Gathering

This is just a lovely cookbook. A joy to look at, read, and cook from. If you’ve ever watched “Fixer Upper” or read anything by Joanna Gaines, I think you’d enjoy this book.

I think I’ll try one of her dessert recipes next, probably her Strawberry Shortcake, since I’ve never made that before.


Speaking of Strawberries

Speaking of strawberries, I’ve been seeing a LOT of strawberries in the stores lately. As a matter of fact, when we stopped by Kroger’s yesterday, they had a booth set up with employees making chocolate covered strawberries right in the entrance! I could have stayed there and watched them forever (it’s so much fun to watch OTHER people work 😉  ) but I needed to get the girls to softball practice and then start supper.

A couple of weeks ago, knowing the strawberry craze was coming, I started thinking about my favorite berry recipes, and wondering if I could make a whole meal centered around strawberries. Guess what, I did! Below are some pictures and recipes  that I hope you’ll enjoy — my family certainly liked them.

Strawberry Oatmeal Bars

This is a recipe that my daughter, Kate, found last summer while searching for granola bar recipes. We loved it the first time and have been making it ever since!

https://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/2018/04/19/strawberry-oatmeal-bars/

This blogger is Chocolate Covered Katie and she writes about her search for and discovery of healthy desserts. We’ve tried several of her recipes and she’s never steered us wrong.

Bread

For starters, I made this wonderfully moist Strawberry Bread.

This is a recipe I found in the Kay’s Kitchen cookbook — a local restaurant that was once very popular in Lake Jackson. Everytime I make this bread, someone asks for the recipe. It’s so easy, and it makes a great gift!

Strawberry Bread

3 c flour

1 t baking soda

1 t salt

1 T cinnamon

2 c sugar

3 eggs

1 1/4 c vegetable oil

2-10 oz boxes of frozen strawberries — thawed and drained

1 c chopped nuts (optional) (of course you know I leave out the nuts)

Preheat oven to 350. Combine first 4 ingredients. In another bowl, cream sugar, eggs and oil. Combine both mixtures. Mix well. Stir in strawberries and nuts (if you use nuts). Pour into two greased and floured loaf pans. Bake 1 hour or until toothpick comes out clean. YUM!

Strawberry Salad

The most difficult task came next, finding a recipe that my family would eat, that included strawberries in the main course. I ended up using this recipe for Strawberry Salad, https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/14276/strawberry-spinach-salad-i/

then added some grilled, marinated chicken.

The salad turned out so, so, so, sooooooo good! My family had mixed reviews on the dressing, but I liked it. What really “made” the recipe though, was the grilled chicken.

It’s simple to make, just put chicken breasts in a baggy with about half a bottle of Italian Dressing and 1/3 cup of Soy Sauce, then marinate it OVER NIGHT. That part’s really important (thus the capital letters). Chicken doesn’t soak up flavor as quickly as fish does, so planning ahead and giving it longer to marinate makes a huge difference.

This is actually one of my go to meal preps. I’ll marinate and grill an entire family pack of chicken breasts, then use it throughout the week for salad, pasta, fajitas….and still have some leftover to freeze.

Desserts

Now comes the fun part, and of course the part with the most recipes — dessert!

This first recipe is one that my mom makes quite often. It involves making a homemade pie crust and individual Strawberry Turnovers — perfect for breakfast or dessert.

I’m not gonna lie, this one can be a bit labor intensive, but it’s still an easy recipe; it just takes a bit more time. And oh, what a treat you have when they’re done!

Strawberry Turnovers

Pastry:

1 1/4 C flour

1/4 C cornmeal

3/4 t salt

1/2 C Crisco (or other shortening)

3 T water

1 C powdered sugar

Mix flour, cornmeal, and salt; then cut in the shortening. Sprinkle in water and mix well. Roll pastry into 6: circles, fill, fold over and crimp edges, then slash the tops. Place on foil or parchment paper and bake at 425 for 20-30 minutes. When done, frost tops with 1 C powdered sugar mixed with 1-2 Tablespoons of water.

Filling:

1/4 C sugar

3T cornstarch

2 C fresh or frozen strawberries

Cook over medium heat until thick. Allow to cool before using.

After you’re done,  you’ll have a pretty and flavorful treat:

Doesn’t that look delicious?

The last strawberry recipe isn’t really much of a recipe. Chocolate Covered Strawberries are easy to make, and there are many different ways to personalize them. Simply wash and DRY strawberries, melt chocolate and almond bark, then dip the strawberries and add decorations.

You can put them on lollipop sticks or skewers as we did here:

Or put them in pretty cupcake liners:

Whether you decide to eat them all yourself, or gift them to someone special, these are always well received!

If you try any of these recipes, please let me know what you think. And feel free to share any of YOUR favorite strawberry recipes in the comments. I love to try new things.

Food for a Crowd

Foodie Friday!

It’s Foodie Friday, the day where I will share what we’ve been cooking this week, what’s worked for us, and what definitely has NOT. Trust me, there’s always plenty that has NOT worked 😉

While I’m not really one to enjoy entertaining every weekend, I find once the weather cools I love to become a hostess….at least occasionally. My kids are at the age where they want to hang out with their friends, and I want to be the house where the kids hang out, so that means coming up with food for a crowd! Actually, the way our family is growing, when all of our kids and their sidekicks are here, we number 11, so we are starting off with a small crowd of our own.

However I do NOT enjoy stressing, and I’m down to cooking on one burner (more on that in a later post) so how to get things done? The first and main step of course, is to come up with a plan. I like lists and I like plans. There’s nothing like scratching things out and watching the list shrink, task by task! Fortunately, over the years we’ve got the list simplified:

*Invite friends
*Choose meal
*Order groceries through Walmart pick up (life changing,  y’all)
*Clean house
*Pick up Ingredients
*Cook
*Set out paper goods (soooooo much easier on the cleanup)
*Enjoy company
*Enjoy company going home (I had to add this. One of the best parts of a good party is seeing everyone depart…and knowing your house is still mostly clean!)
*Relax

I’m sure y’all can handle all of that on your own, but I thought I’d share a few of our favorite company recipes that don’t involve slaving in the kitchen all day.


When our girls want to have a small group of their closest friends over, the first recipe they think of  is always pizza. Everyone likes it, it’s easy, and making our own is much more economical than ordering out! A friend shared this recipe a few years ago https://www.pinterest.com/pin/37788084359908797/from Crystal at Money Saving Mom, and we’ve been enjoying it ever since. You can even freeze it if you make enough…although ours has never made it to the freezer 🙂

 


October means…….TACOS!

October in our church youth group means that their will be theme nights planned once a week. This week was food week, and since it was the day before National Taco Day, we decided to host a Taco Bar. Ours wasn’t that cute (do a search on Pinterest for some fancy ideas) but it went over with a bang! Different parents brought taco meat, tortillas, veggies, cheese, salsa, and of course…….dessert! Since I knew there would be plenty of ground beef, we decided to try a chicken recipe

and I have to say, it was pretty amazing. I actually came up with this recipe myself, after experimenting with several other chicken recipes.

Slow Cooker Chicken Enchiladas (this was a hit)

4 lbs chicken breasts
1 – 2 chopped onions
4-5 garlic cloves
2-3 chopped jalapeños (with seeds)
2 T cumin
2 T Adobo seasoning
1 T chili powder
1 can green chili sauce
1 c water
Salt and pepper
Add all of this to a crockpot and cook on low for 6-8 hours or longer.

Shred chicken and add
2 pkgs cream cheese (8 oz each)

Allow to melt then stir in and serve with tortillas.
SOOOOOOO GOOD!


The next recipe is one we just tried last night. Honestly, it makes enough to feed a crowd but our family of 4 (at home) consumed a ridiculous amount. It was just. that. good. As the recipe’s creator says: We may be dying young, my fellow Americans, but we will die happy. Fat and so, so happy. 😀 You can find the link to “Literally the Best Mac and Cheese Ever” right here:

https://thefoodcharlatan.com/literally-the-best-mac-and-cheese-ive-ever-had/

The only variation we used was to cut up a ham steak and add it to the bottom of the pan. Honestly, the mac and cheese is enough to make a meal on its own; just throw a happy green salad on the side to appease your conscience. However, my husband thinks that a meal without meat is……..not a meal, so that’s why the ham was added. Definitely a comfort food meal!


Unfortunately I don’t have a picture to go with last crowd pleaser recipe recommendation, but I’ll work on adding that, soon. Most of you have probably already heard of Taco Soup, but in case you haven’t you really need to check this out:

Taco Soup
1-2 lbs ground beef
1 diced onion
1 can pinto beans
1 can light red kidney beans
1 can dark red kidney beans
2 cans corn
1 can diced tomatoes and chilis
1 pkg dry ranch seasoning
1 pkg taco seasoning
3 c water

Directions are simple: Brown the beef and onions. Drain. Add this along with the rest of the ingredients to a slow cooker and cook at least 4 hours.

This recipe is sooooooooooo easy and can simmer all day in the slow cooker. Serve it with corn bread or Fritos, shredded cheese, and sour cream and everyone will be coming back for seconds!

You can also easily adjust this recipe to your taste: more or less water, black beans instead of pinto beans, etc. Experiment with whatever you like best!

What are your recipes to feed a crowd? I’d love to find some new ones to share with our family and friends! Let me know what you think if you try any of the recipes I’ve mentioned. Have a great weekend and happy eating!

 

Happy Fall, Y’all

It’s here, it’s here!

Fall is finally here! At least, that’s what the calendar says. Located in south Texas as we are, you can’t really tell by the weather. However, it makes me happier that there’s at least a hope of cooler days and fewer mosquitos!

That being the case, we like to encourage the temperature drops to arrive as quickly as possible: going through pictures of past fall vacations (that’s my parents with Kate and Jill in Arkansas a couple of years ago), pulling out the plaid flannel shirts, decorating the house with fall colors and pumpkin spice candles, and of course: making PIE!

It’s time for PIE!

My girls and I love to cook together, or at least at the same time since we all have our own ideas about decorating and the amount of time that should be spent thereof, so we set aside last Friday as a pie baking day. Fortunately, we had company coming in for the weekend, so we weren’t being ridiculously extravagant by baking three pies on the same day.

There was a bit of a dispute about who got to make what kind of pie but we finally agreed on a cherry cobbler (Jill), an apple pie (Kate) and a pumpkin pie (me). Actually, I just kind of took what was left in the choosing game but since mine was the easiest one to make, coming out of a can and all — I WIN! 😉

Once we had the ingredients assembled, or at least some of the ingredients, it was time to pull out my old recipe book. You would not believe how long it took me to learn to make pie crust. As a matter of fact, Jill, out youngest daughter, mastered the art long before I did! That humiliation was enough to spur me along to finally nail down the process and recipe.

The only recipe we use is found in my old cookbook that my mom started assembling for me years ago; so please excuse the wear and tear. It’s seen a lot of cooking incidents and accidents along the way. 

Here’s a more legible version for “Mom’s Tarts,” which is what we use for pie crust:

2 C flour & 1 t salt sifted together

2/3 C Crisco (cut in)

5-6 T water

Seems simple, right? Yeah, I thought so too. I have no idea why it took me so long to get this right but hey, mom’s still the undisputed pie crust champion.

We had to make four batches of this recipe, because we wanted to make sure we had plenty of extra crust for decorations.

Jill was finished first, and her cherry cobbler turned out great. She took the easy way out and dumped a couple of cans of cherry pie filling into the dish then covered with a lattice work crust:

It SHOULD have been simple…

My pie should have been just as simple, except that I didn’t read the direction on the back of the pumpkin pie can. I mean, hello, it say right there on on the can, pumpkin pie mix. I assumed (in error as it turned out) that meant that everything was included. But no, no it did not mean that. It meant that everything was included EXCEPT eggs and evaporated milk, which you would think most people would stock in their pantries.

Alas, I am not most people, apparently. I had three cans of sweetened condensed milk in the pantry, but no evaporated milk. So — back to the store I went. I didn’t want to be seen walking into the same store for the third time that day, so I made Jill go with me to buy the milk while Kate stayed and made more pie crust. What are kids for, right? 😀

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, oh I mean house….back at the house, Kate was busy preparing her apples:

placing them in the bottom crust:

and hand cutting designs into the top crust:

I know, the patience of this child is admirable….and slightly insane when compared to that of her mother!

She used the Splenda Apple Pie recipe, which can be found here: https://www.splenda.com/recipes/nostalgic-apple-pie-recipe

Now y’all, I will be the first to say I don’t like sugar free desserts. I mean, what’s the point? And I know that you, like me, have probably been lied to by many, many people about this tasting like that… when this doesn’t taste like that AT ALL. (Cauliflower is NEVER going to taste like mashed potatoes, people, stop saying that it does please and thank you!)

That being said, I am telling you, this is the best apple pie ever, and no one EVER guesses that it is sugar free — and many of them still don’t believe me when I tell them! As a matter of fact, one time I had to pull the Splenda bag out of the trash just to convince my brother in law that we hadn’t used sugar! (We host a lot of skeptics around here, folks).

When I finally returned from the store, Kate had the extra pie crust made and Jill even rolled it out for me (thanks, girls)!

So I was able to mix up the filling and then start the fun part: decorating! Only, I don’t do much of the hand decorating that Kate does. I cheat. That’s right, I cheat. I like to use the pastry/fondant cutters found in this handy-dandy little assortment here:

Make it fancy:

For $12.99, this set has helped us make some pretty impressive pies!

33pcs Pastry Cutters Tools Sugarcraft Cake Decorating Mold Fondant Icing Plunger

When we were all finished, we had some beautiful, and rather tasty desserts to share over the weekend,

that everyone seemed to enjoy. One family brought in some Blue Bell Vanilla Bean ice cream and we were set for the weekend. Of course, the most difficult thing was to make everyone wait from Friday evening until Saturday afternoon to be served, but with threats and bribes, (and locks and hiding spots), we were able to get through. We even had enough pie that there was a bit of the pumpkin left after everyone had returned home Sunday afternoon.

The girls asked if they could have pie for breakfast Monday morning. I agreed but told them to leave some for their dad when he got off work. This is what happens when you say “leave some for dad” but you don’t specify how much to leave for dad:

Ooops! Sorry, babe.

Are you ready for fall? Have you decorated yet? Do you have any recipes to share? We always love to try new recipes, so please feel free to share something special in the comments!

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