Saturday, April 14, 2012

Simple Soup Idea: Chicken Bits, Sausage, Noodles

On a cold day, soup is wonderful, and this was a sudden inspiration using little scraps from the freezer. 

When we grill chicken, hubby like the bits of fat to be cut away from chicken breasts.  We usually slice the breasts into tenderloins, but some pieces end up being too small for the grill.  Those go into the freezer for soups, fried rice, etc.

Saute a chopped onion in a little olive oil.  Get the chicken bits in there and cook them up.  Add water, get the mixture boiling.  A smidge of celery seed and white pepper, along with enough chicken bouillon to give your mix a good flavor (to your taste).  Once the water is boiling well, add egg 12 qt. stockpot took nearly 2 full pounds of wide egg noodles.  Meanwhile, cook up a pound of ground sausage, drain, then add to your pot. 


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Do You Need a Simple, Hot Side to Fill The Kiddos Up? Tortillas!

Tear or cut  your stale tortillas into bite size pieces, or just a bit smaller.  Melt one or two sticks of butter or margarine in the skillet, on medium.  Add the tortilla pieces, all at once, and turn to coat thoroughly.  Raise the temp to high, and continue stirring periodically, until pieces are coated with butter, and slightly browned, to your satisfaction. 

Serve on the side, along with refried beans, and red rice, for a low key dinner, or with scrambled eggs on the side, for a breakfast, or breakfast for dinner solution.  Use this recipe for a tortilla skillet dish which incorporates the eggs.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Breakfast for Dinner

If you need inspiration for dinner, and the supplies on hand are limited, I can honestly say that a hearty breakfast for dinner is a great choice.  My children seem to think it's a treat to be served their favorites in the evening, and for me, the prep is much easier at the end of the day, than first thing in the morning!

Some favorites:
French Toast
Bacon and Eggs
Egg Sandwiches
Tortilla Egg Skillet Dishes
Breakfast Burritos
Eggs and Potatoes

I'm sure there are many other such breakfasts that you can brainstorm, but the nice thing is that, along with being hearty, these are all pretty cost effective (excluding the bacon, of course...I can't believe the prices these days!).

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Top Ramen Creativity

Top Ramen isn't known for any great nutritional value.  However, as a time saver, it's one of the tops.  I have a couple of slick tricks for making a Top Ramen meal a little more satisfying, and for cutting some of the sodium in the process.

Tip #1:  Poach Eggs in Your Ramen

I know it sounds a little weird.  I actually discovered this trick when I was in the home of an Asian friend.  Not only were eggs included in the soup, but interesting vegetables, as well.  The broth was prepared, with vegetables.  Eggs were slipped into the pot, where they poached.  Noodles were added last, to keep them from getting too mushy.

I don't worry as much about the noodles.  The kids (except for my most picky eater) love the eggs in the soup.  My challenge is keeping them whole, and not putting in too many.  I boil my water, add the seasoning packets and noodles, and get the pot back to a boil.  Then, I shut the burner off, and work quickly to break the eggs, and get them into the soup.  Cover tightly, and leave it for a few minutes.  If any of the eggs hasn't poached well, I spoon hot broth over, to finish up. 

***Note on the seasoning packets that come with your Top Ramen...I use a ratio of 1 packet seasoning to 2 packages of Ramen Noodles...there's still plenty of flavor, not as much of the sodium.

Tip #2:  Ramen in a Stir Fry

I enjoy stir-fried veggies, and Ramen Noodles can be a nice companion to a stir fry.  Boil the water, lightly cook the noodles, until just tender.  Don't over cook.  Drain the noodles.  Transfer to a skillet or wok, in which olive oil has been heated, preferably with a little crushed garlic, and diced onion.  Lightly fry the noodles, add a few dashes of soy sauce, toss well, and remove from heat.  Serve as is, or serve stir-fried veggies over your noodles.

You can also incorporate the DRY Ramen Noodles into your stir fry, adding a little liquid, if needed, for the noodles to cook in. 

Many people use Top Ramen as a budget stretching food, and others keep this item on hand just for the sake of convenience.  These are just a couple of ways to put the noodles to work for you. 

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Flop: Hamburger Helper is Meant for Hamburger!

DD discovered that Hamburger Helper is not a glorified Mac and Cheese dish, unless there is hamburger.  There is a taste of a strong seasoning, probably similar to Accent, which is meant to bring out flavor in the meat.  Not so good, in a non-meat attempt.

For the teen who wants a quick pasta dish, the best recommendation I can make is (drumroll)...plain pasta.  You can cook your pasta, and season it as simply, or as eloquently, as you like.  Some pasta-bilities?

Butter and cheese, tossed in with the drained pasta...any shredded cheese, or Parmesan, will do.  No cheese?  Use some crushed garlic, or even a hint of garlic salt.  MMM!!

Ketchup!  Really!  My aunt would occasionally put ketchup on plain macaroni, and it wasn't terrible.  Yes, it's different.  But if your cupboard is really, really bare, might be worth a shot.

Soy sauce...heat a little olive oil in a fry pan, and stir fry your cooked spaghetti, with just a hint of soy sauce.  Almost as good as chow mein!  Toss in some veggies, for good measure.  My teen loves stir-fried veggies, so this would be well received!

Tomato soup...sounds almost as weird as the ketchup, right?  Not really.  Spaghetti O's remind me more of tomato soup, than of spaghetti.

Chicken stock...a basic chicken noodle, or a hearty version of Top Ramen.

Get creative!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Quick Stir Fry

Stir Fry is delicious, but the really nice thing is that it doesn't really require a recipe.  Chop up some veggies, an onion, heat a little oil, add a bit of soy sauce and seasonings (I like white pepper, black pepper, and ground ginger), and you can have a quick, delicious vegetarian dish.  If you have older children, who are capable of cooking, they can learn to do this, as well. 

Try shredding some cabbage, thinly slicing some carrots and celery, and fixing this easy stir fry, next time you are at a loss for something simple.  Make plain white rice (minute rice, if you are pressed for time, but if not, basic white rice is cheaper), and serve your veggies over the rice.

On my busier  days, I often leave the older kids to fix their own quick dinners.  Ages 12 and up are fairly capable in the kitchen in my home.  The younger set, I handle.  Equip your kids in the kitchen, so that they don't grow up as fast food junkies, but rather, as capable cooks, who can whip up something out of seemingly nothing, at a moment's notice. 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Quick Deals on The Go

Besides the value menu of the drive through, there's one other handy helper in my small town, when it comes to needing an inexpensive, fast meal while out and about. 

Try Sonic's SMS messaging.  Next time you drive through at your local Sonic, look for, or ask for, the location specific number to text, and enroll in their deal updates.  Many times, my Sonic has sent out a daily deal, perfect for the time of day when I'm shuttling kids to and from sports. 

An alternative to the typical dollar burger, there have been chili-cheese burrito deals, cheap junior sundaes, corn dogs...all kinds of menu options.  Additionally, our Sonic has a weekly Wednesday kids' deal, with Wacky Pack meals at $1.50...that's a sandwich, tots or fries, a snack, and a drink! 

A recent monthly deal also included 50 cent junior cheeseburgers on Thursdays.  Make sure you check with your specific store for special deals, and verify start times...many dinner deals begin at 5 PM.  Don't miss happy hour at Sonic, either!