cooking

Ok, Ok.  I know.  Here is another one of those recipes that came out of the what’s in the pantry moment, but surprisingly it is really warm and comfy and the kids could not get enough of it, so I thought I would share.

I promise I cook more than these wacky on a whim recipes, but they seem fun to share and I’m not going to share all my best stuff, gotta come to dinner for the really good stuff.  Who knows, someday I may want to write a cookbook.

Ooey Gooey Mexi Casserole

6 servings

  • 2 c.  cooked brown rice
  • 2 T   light ranch dressing
  • 1/4 c   fat free sour cream
  • 1 can   fat free refried beans
  • 1 can  diced green chilies
  • 1/2 lb pork loin roast
  • 3 T   taco seasoning
  • 2/3   cup enchilada sauce
  • 3/4   cup cheddar cheese, shredded

While the rice is cooking, prepare taco meat.   See my taco seasoning recipe for guidance if you need it.

Spread the rice on the bottom of a baking dish.

Mix the ranch dressing and sour cream together and then spread over the rice.   It will be a very thin layer.

The Big Book of Casseroles

This recipe will repeat the spread this out over…  routine several times and sometimes it is easier said than done.  I find that if I spoon out small spoonfuls out across the pan and then squish down or spread as best I can that it works out just fine.  With this dish it simply just doesn’t make much difference how pretty it looks because it isn’t really going to hold its form very well out of the pan anyway.

Spread the refried beans over the rice and sour cream mix.

Sprinkle/spread the green chilies

Spread out the taco meat

Pour the enchilada sauce over the top and sprinkle with cheese.

Bake at 375F for 30 minutes or so until heated through. It may bubble around the edges, but also may not, depending on what size of pan you use and how the sauce gets distributed.

Nutritional Information

The  December issue of Cooking Light
this very cool new product was highlighted.

Now, I haven’t tried it, but since I am such an advocate of making your own baby food and I thought this was something I would have loved to have, I just had to mention it. It is simply a very innovative and mention worthy new product. I love it when people think outside the box.

The Beaba Babycook Baby Food Maker is the latest in baby food mills.

What’s different about this one is that you can put the food in and steam it and then when it is finished cooking, turn the blender on and blend it to the desired consistency right in the same container. You can also use it to defrost or warm the baby food when your done.

The one thing that stands out as a flaw in this product is the small bowl size (2.5 cups) If you wanted to make big batches to freeze, this could be a hinderance. But, if Super Baby Food or The Sneaky Chef is your thing, then this just may be the perfect new gadget for you.

More Baby Puree Recipe Books


Every mom is constantly trying to sneak more veggies into the kid’s diet, right? Well,  my mother in law inspired me last time we visited her and the outcome was this delicious mini meatball recipe that my kids love and is full of veggie goodness.  I think they are great too and usually make myself an extra one to snack on when I cook them for the kids.  They would even make a great burger.

I don’t worry terribly about the amount of fat my kids intake in a meal like this, because they are light eaters and  eat a pretty healthy, well balanced diet so a little fat is still good for them and these meatballs are very tasty the way they are.  But, if it looks a little fatty for you or your kids, then I would suggest  cutting the sausage in half and upping the amount of lean meat.  I wouldn’t suggest cutting the sausage all together though as it is integral to the flavor and really what makes them so palatable for the kids.

This is a good sized recipe and will make 20-40 meatballs, depending on size.  This is the best part though.  After cooking them, lay them out on a cookie sheet in a single layer and put them in the freezer for an hour to overnight and then put all the little meatballs in a gallon freezer bag.  You can then take out the desired amount and heat them in the microwave.  30 seconds on high, turn, then another 30 seconds on high.

This is best made using a food processor. If you don’t own one, look to the bottom of this article for notes on making them by hand.

Hide-a-Veggie Meatball Recipe

1 lb. Very lean ground beef or ground turkey (both are equally good)
1 lb. ground pork sausage
1 medium zucchini, cut into chunks
2 medium carrots or 2 handfuls of baby carrots, cut into chunks
1 small onion, cut into chunks (about 1/2 cup or so)
2 cloves of garlic
2 slices of whole wheat bread (or any other kind of bread), regular sized slices not large – adjust for larger slices.
1 egg
1 t dry Italian seasoning (or a smidge each of oregan0, basil, thyme and/or rosemary, whatever you have is totally fine)
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper

Put everything but the meat into the food processor and blend until very small bits, but not too much. Add the meat and mix until everything is well incorporated.

Pinch off small balls, roll them a little in your palm and place them in a large frying pan (oven safe only) in a single layer. Depending on how big of pan you have, you may have to do two batches.

Preheat the oven to 400F

Place the pan over medium heat and cook the meatballs until they are nicely browned on one side. Turn each meatball over using a pair of
tongs
and brown on the other side.

Take the pan and place it in the oven. Bake the meatballs until they are cooked through, about 10 minutes.

Remove and serve.

Remember to freeze any leftovers for an easy quick meal at a later time.

cuisinart_food_processor

If you don’t have a food processor, you can easily make these by hand in a large mixing bowl, it will just be a little more work.

The carrots, onions, garlic and zucchini need to be shredded and then use a knife to cut those shreds as small as you can. Use dried bread crumbs instead of the bread slices, about 1 cup.

Add all the ingredients in the bowl and then mix well with your hands.

Proceed as stated above.

Nutritional Information –  Full Version
Nutritional Information – Light Version

Note:  Although the total fat and saturated fat is significantly lower in the light version, the grade didn’t change.  hmmm.

This is one of those dishes that I just made up out of the sky one day. Hmmm, what to eat for lunch, combine a bunch of random stuff and poof, great dish. Well, some of the time it works out that way. As is also the way with these types of dishes, the ingredient list may seem a little eccentric, but it is a clean out the randoms in your kitchen kind of dish and boy is it good.

As with all my recipes, I recommend that you try it and customize it to your own liking. That is what cooking is all about. If there is an ingredient that you don’t like, or don’t have, omit it or substitute for it.

Since this is a kitchen cabinet meal, use what you have. No chicken? No problem, this would be good with any meat, no meat or tofu. Perfect use for leftover meat from last night’s dinner. Pretty much any vegetable would be great in this and any kind of rice will do just fine. The green olives and peperccinis are pretty integral to the flavor of the dish, but if you are strongly averted to one or the other, this dish will stand up just fine with just one of those. Don’t be afraid to get creative and make this dish your own.

Funky Chicken and Mediterranean Rice Salad

1 c. cooked cubed or shredded chicken
2 c. cooked brown rice
1/2 c. chopped red pepper
1/2 c. roughly chopped mushrooms (I like cremini, but any kind will do)
1/2 c. finely chopped or shredded carrots
1/4 c. finely chopped red onion
1/4 c. chopped green olives (my favorite are the garlic stuffed ones, but any will do)
1/4 c. chopped peppercini peppers (you can find these by the olives)
1/4 c. Italian Salad Dressing (this is My FavoriteNewman's own parmesan and roasted garlic salad dressing, use yours)

Putting this together is pretty simple.  Mix it all together and serve. The chicken and rice should be pretty warm when added.

mmmmm, tasty!

For X-mas my mom got me a subscription to Cooking Light Magazine. A couple of years back she bought me the The Best Of Cooking Light cook book and it is absolutely one of my favorites. I cook out of it more than any other cook book I own. The recipes are yummy and healthy and easy to tweak (that’s a big one for me).

Anyway, I was very excited when my first issue of Cooking Light arrived in Late December. As I started to look through it, I realized that this was not just a cooking magazine but a living better magazine. Right across the top of the cover it says “Eat Smart Be Fit Live Well”.

Well, this is a big part of this whole journey for me so I decided the each month’s magazine could be an inspiration for the health part of my quest. Let the fitness articles bring new workouts and exercises, the recipes bring new and healthier foods and the living articles bring inspiration for new projects and goals.

They also have a website expanding on some of the things in the magazine. This should be interesting to check out as well.

I am excited about this and looking forward to learning and sharing new things.