Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Halloween Fun From Years Past

I've posted some traditional Halloween goodies in years past and thought that I'd remind you of them. Enjoy this fun week with your kids. Even my middle-schoolers are excited for the events of the week and my first grader can't stop jumping around he's so full of excitement! It's a busy week for moms, but they are memories I will hold onto forever.

Breadstick Bones are a fun "healthy" Halloween snack for school parties or dinners this time of year. We always serve them with "vampire blood" (a.k.a. pizza sauce) for dipping.

Halloween Ghosts are another easy-to-make treat that even my preschoolers love to help with.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Candy Corn Cookie Bites

Remember my All Purpose Christmas Cookie Dough recipe? It's great at other times of year as well. I had a roll of it frozen in the freezer from a previous cooking session. I pulled it out the other day and put these together. The kids loved them! 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Faux Strawberry Jam

This jam is tasty and delicious! No one ever guesses that the main ingredient is green tomatoes! (They all just think it is strawberry jam.) We'll let them go right on thinking that way. It's bright red color makes it a wonderful choice for holiday gifts.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Salsa Verde - a.k.a. Green Tomato Salsa

Salsa Verde from my own garden! This is a mild salsa that is wonderful with chips and also great to flavor meats in the crockpot. I like to add it to chicken or pork roast and then use the meat in burritos or enchiladas. It is also good added to white chicken chili in place of the peppers or green chilies called for in the recipe. It is so simple now that I have jars waiting on my pantry shelves. Plus, wouldn't they make festive holiday gifts? (And to think that the main ingredient is something that most people would just throw away.)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Saying Good-bye to the Garden

I always have mixed feelings when the first hard frost hits - I know I will miss the fresh produce growing right outside my door, but I also know that without yard work, I can put my time to good use doing other projects that have been put on hold.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Creamy Garden Tomato Pasta

I was in the mood for a new recipe today. I was trying to come up with something that was similar to the creamy pasta you can get at restaurants with sun-dried tomatoes only I wanted to use some of the last of our garden tomatoes. I came up with a winner - everyone wanted seconds!

Begin by cooking the chicken in a little oil. Do this while you have your pasta cooking.

Add spices.

Pour in your diced garden tomatoes (or use a can of diced tomatoes if you aren't lucky enough to have garden ones - just drain off about half of the juice.)

Add the cream or reconstituted powdered milk.

Stir and simmer for about 5 minutes.

Mix in pasta and enjoy! The leftovers taste great as well.

Creamy Garden Tomato Pasta

1 lb pasta cooked (Use penne or bowtie or a mix)
2 chicken breasts, cubed
2 Tbsp oil
1/3 cup bacon bits, precooked
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups diced garden tomatoes (juice included)
1/2 tsp dry basil
1/2 tsp dry oregano
1 tsp minced garlic
1 cup heavy whipping cream
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the chicken in the oil. Add the remaining ingredients. Simmer on low for about 5 minutes to let the flavors combine. Stir in the cooked pasta and enjoy.

Note: If you don't have whipping cream, you can mix 6 Tbsp milk powder with 1 cup warm water and use this instead.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Apple Orchard Pancake Mix

I just developed a new mix to store in my pantry that allows us to enjoy the tastes of Fall. If you are lucky enough to have fresh apples on hand, you can leave the dry apples out of the mix and just add 1 large chopped apple to your pancake batter. 

Pantry mixes add convenience to my life, but they also work great as gifts. Add a cute tag and enjoy sharing the healthy goodness!

Apple Orchard Pancake Mix

For the mix, place the following dry ingredients in a ziplock bag or layer in a quart jar.

1 cup whole wheat flour (I used white wheat flour)
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup milk powder
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup chopped dried apples

2 eggs
1 3/4 cups water
1/4 cup vegetable oil

To make: Pour your mix into a bowl and add the wet ingredients. Mix well. Allow to sit about 5 minuets to allow the apples to re-hydrate a little. Add some more water if batter appears too thick. Cook on a hot griddle just as you do regular pancakes.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Honey Roasted Pretzels

I went in search of a recipe to use up a large bag of pretzels the other day. I had all my cub scouts coming over after school and they always hit the house hungry! My older daughter is my big pretzel eater so I have learned to keep some on hand as part of my short-term storage. The problem is she just got braces and pretzels are now on the "no-no" list - she can only have the sticks. That meant I had a very large bag of pretzels that was in need of being eaten. This recipe was great!

I often change up a recipe just a bit, but this one I did as is and we loved it. You could add some nuts if you wanted a sweet-salty mix. The cub scouts ate a lot of them and then the boy scouts finished them off over their weekend camp out. They would work great for teacher or friend gifts for any occasion or be a quick treat for any pot-luck or party. The topping just adds a hint of sweetness to the salty pretzels.

Start with a few basic ingredients - 

Mix the sauce ingredients after microwaving them.

Pour over the pretzels - notice how the sauce changes color after adding the baking soda. (You could turn making it into a science lesson for your kids.)

Microwave again - 

Stir to break them up.

I used my hand to separate some as well. From start to finish in less than 10 minutes - perfect for my needs!

Honey Roasted Pretzels 
(Makes 9 cups)

9 cups mini pretzels (10 ounces)
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon baking soda

1. Place pretzels in 2 or 3 quart microwave-safe casserole or measurer. Set aside.

2. Combine brown sugar, butter, honey, and corn syrup in 4-cup microwave-safe measurer.

3. Microwave mixture on Full Power 45-60 seconds or until mixture boils hard, stirring once.

4. Continue to microwave mixture on Full Power 60 more seconds.

5. Stir in soda mixture.

6. Pour syrup over pretzels. Stir to lightly coat pretzels with syrup.

7. Microwave coated pretzels on 50 % power, uncovered,, 3-4 minutes or until lightly toasted, stirring twice. (If you don’t have 50% power, try using the defrost setting for 4-5 minutes).

8. Turn onto lightly vegetable-sprayed waxed paper or foil

9. As mixture cools, break into pieces.

10. Store in tightly covered container or resealable plastic bag.

Source: http://deannahouse.com/pages/recipes/snacks_honeyroastedpretzels.html

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Freezer to Crockpot Honey Mustard Pork Roast

Now that school is in full swing and the kids keep me busy between the hours of 4-6:00 pm, I am back to loving my freezer to crock pot meals! I purchased a package of pork roasts a few weeks back. The total package weighed just over 5 lbs and there were two pieces in it. I made this recipe and I also packaged up a Cranberry Lemon Pork Roast to use another time.

I let the meal thaw and then placed it in the crockpot at about 3:00 on high. I did cut the roast in half knowing that I was getting a bit of a late start. (I knew two smaller pieces of meat would cook faster than one larger piece.) I basted the roast a couple of times during the cooking process, but otherwise I was free to help kids with homework, piano practice, etc.

Just before serving, I sliced it up and drizzled a little of the thickened sauce over the top. Simple and delicious. I served mashed potatoes and green salad on the side.

Freezer to Crockpot Honey Mustard Pork Roast
2-3 lb pork roast 
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 small clove garlic, minced
4 tablespoons Dijon or regular mustard
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Add just before cooking:
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon cold water

Combine all the sauce ingredients in a gallon ziplock bag. Knead until well mixed. Add the pork roast. Label bag with instructions to add 1 Tbsp cornstarch just before cooking. Freeze. Thaw before cooking. Dump everything into the crockpot. Mix cornstarch with a little cold water and add to crockpot. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-8 hours.