Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Very simple recipe. Easy weekday dinner option.

1 lb of hamburger
1 large can of Tomato Soup
1 lb of pasta (any kind - elbow is what I normally use)
1 tsp Onion powder
1 tsp Chili powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
(all spices can be tweaked to taste)

1. Brown hamburger in a medium sauce pan. If necessary drain fat off of hamburger.
2. Add Soup and spices. Stir and simmer over low-medium heat.
3. Prepare pasta according to directions on package.
4. Add pasta to soup mixture and simmer for 30 minutes.
5. Serve and enjoy!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Chicken a-la King

My husbands favorite comfort food, my mother-in-laws recipe!

A great use for leftover chicken.

My husbands favorite comfort food, my mother-in-laws recipe!

A great use for leftover chicken.

3 cups of cooked diced chicken
1 family size can of Cream of Mushroom Soup
3 Tablespoons of butter
1/2 cup of onions
1/4 cup of green peppers
4 tablespoons pimentos
1 cup of milk

1. Melt butter over medium heat. Add onions and green peppers to the pan. Sweat the onions and green peppers (click here for instructions on how to sweat onions).

2. Add Soup and milk to onion and green peppers once they are translucent. Mix well.
3. Add chicken and pimentos and season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. Simmer over low heat for at least 30 minutes (the longer it cooks the better it tastes).
5. Serve over toast.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Pineapple Cupcakes

This is a funny "lite" summer dessert! I made this for Father's Day. The only thing that would be a nice alternative would be Coconut Jello (but they don't make that).

1 box of Pineapple cake mix
1 tube of Cool Whip
3 tablespoons of crushed pineapple
1 regular size package of pineapple Jell-o
1 cup boiling water

1. Prepare the pineapple cake mix as directed on the box. I made a combination of mini and regular size cupcakes.
2. Allow cupcakes to cool for approximately 15 minutes. Prepare Jell-o - mix 1 cup of boiling water with pineapple Jell-o.
3. Using a straw, chopstick, skewer or other similar item and poke 3 holes (or more if you want) in each cupcake. Use a spoon to drizzle Jell-o over the cupcakes. (this can get a bit messy so make sure you do this over a plate or cookie sheet or something).
4. In a medium bowl, mix Cool Whip and crushed pineapple. Apply to tops of cupcakes.
5. Serve and enjoy.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Roasted Red Pepper Pasta Salad

I made this recipe several weeks ago for a family reunion and it was great! Jason (who never eats pasta salad actually liked it). The only modification I would make is more dressing for the pasta (so I will provide instructions for more dressing here).

Erica - I originally found this on Smitten Kitchen - didn't even realize what the site was.

1 pound of pasta (any kind you want - I used elbow macaroni cause that's what I had)
1 cup of frozen peas
2 large red peppers or 2 jars of roasted red peppers
5 Tablespoons of Red Wine Vinegar
1/2 cup of olive oil
1 small shallot diced

1.If you are using fresh red peppers you will need to first roast them. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the peppers on a cookie sheet. Cook for 25 minutes then turn the peppers and cook for another 20 minutes. Peppers should turn black on the outside. Remove the peppers from the oven and place them in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap (this makes it easier to remove the skin later).
2. Once the peppers have cooled completely, remove the skin and the sides from the inside. Place pepper in blender or food processor.
3. Add Vinegar, olive oil, shallot, salt and pepper. Blend until smooth. Add more vinegar or seasoning if desired.
4. Prepare pasta according to directions on the box.
5. Blanch asparagus (Boil a large pot of water. Now, place your asparagus into the boiling water. Cook until the asparagus turns a bright green. The time this will take will depend on how thick your asparagus stalks are. Count on between 2-5 minutes or so.)
6. Once pasta is completed, mix frozen peas, asparagus and dressing together (warm pasta will thaw the peas).
7. Chill, Serve and Enjoy.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Baby Food - Peas

I have 2 batches of Baby Food completed - I will post both recipes individually.


1 bag of frozen baby peas

1. Put approximately one inch of water in the bottom of a pot with a steamer. Put frozen peas in the steamer.
2. Bring the water to a boil and place a lid on the pot.
3. Steam peas for 8 minutes.
4. Place steamed peas in blender. Puree to desired consistency. (For 1st foods you will want this to be very thin)
5. Put puree in ice cube trays, freeze. Once frozen remove from ice cube trays and place in freezer bags labeled with the type of food and date.

Chicken Pot Pie

Recipe from Ashley Webber.

Jason loves Chicken Pot Pie and it's a great comfort food, but frozen chicken pot pies just aren't very good. Ashley posted this recipe and I decided to try it, my past experiences with Chicken Pot Pies did not turn out well (usually the "soup" base is my problem). Jason loved this recipe and it was super simple.

2 cups of Chicken (pre-cooked)
1 29oz can of Cream of Chicken Soup
16 oz of frozen vegetables
1/2 cup of milk
1 cup of Bisquick
1/2 cup of milk
1 egg

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
In a mixing bowl combine chicken, soup, frozen vegetables and milk (if you are using the chicken that you prepared making chicken broth you will not need to salt and pepper - other wise salt and pepper to taste). Pour mixture into medium size baking dish.
Mix Bisquick, milk and egg. Pour over chicken mixture.

Bake for 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown. (Half way through I spread butter on top to better brown the biscuit topping.)

Chicken Dishes and Broth

Next on my list for the freezer are several chicken dishes. To prepare for the chicken dishes I cooked chicken/made broth today. I purchased 2 cut up fryer chickens (approximately 8 lbs total). This morning I took the chicken and put it in my large stock pot with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Then I covered the chicken with water. I boiled the chicken on medium high heat for approximatively 4 hours - until the chicken falls off the bone.
Once the chicken has cooked for a while I use a strainer and get all the chicken and bones separated from the broth. Store the broth for later use. Remove all chicken from bones, store for use in recipes.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Grandpa's Vegetable Beef Soup

Grandpa's Vegetable Beef Soup Recipe

20 quart pot (this is a large batch of soup)
4lb Chuck Roast
5 large Potatoes - chopped
6 Stalks of Celery - chopped
1 bag of baby carrots - chopped
1/2 head of cabbage - chopped
2 cans of tomato juice
4 cans of green beans
4 cans of corn
1 can of peas
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
Sage, Oregano, Salt, Pepper, Cayenne Pepper, Chili Powder, Garlic Powder to taste

1. Salt, pepper and garlic powder the chuck roast on both sides. Place Chuck Roast in the pot with enough water to cover the roast. Boil until meat is falling apart (usually about 2 hours).
2. Remove chuck roast from pot and add raw veggies. Add cans of tomato juice and any water need to cover the veggies.
3. Cook on medium- high heat until raw veggies are soft. Once raw veggies are done add canned veggies and spices.
4. Cook on low heat for 1 hour.

(This soup gets better the longer it sits) Enjoy!

Pasta Sauce

Traditional Pasta Sauce

1lb of hamburger
3 - 29oz cans of tomato sauce
1 - 29oz can of water
1 - 15 oz can of tomato paste
2 small cans of mushrooms (optional)
(Spice measurements are a guideline - spice to desired taste)
1 Tablespoon Garlic Powder
1 Tablespoon Oregano
1 Tablespoon Basil
1 Tablespoon Parsley
1 Tablespoon Sugar

1. Brown hamburger and drain excess fat.
2. Combine remaining ingredients, cook over low to low-medium heat with a tight lid. Stir occasionally. Cook for several hours (ready to eat in 30 minutes but the taste is better if you let it cook awhile.
3. Prepare desired pasta and cover with desired amount of sauce.

Made 7 - 2 cup meals.

Re-Stocking the Freezer

Right after Lucas was born my Mom came and stayed with us for a week. While she was here she helped me (mostly did it for me) cook and freeze soup for easy meals. Well after 4 months Jason and I have cleared out the freezer, so yesterday was the trip to the grocery store to prepare. Today I fixed Pasta Sauce and Grandpa's Vegetable Beef Soup. In total I made 7 dinners of Pasta Sauce and 9 dinners of Grandpa's Vegetable Beef Soup.
These meals offer an easy option for dinner, the just have to be put in a pot, thawed and warmed up.
I will be posting the recipes to follow.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Jason's Mac and Cheese

Tonight after going to the grocery store, Jason and I looked at each other wondering what we would have for dinner. We got tons of groceries, and I planned meals for the rest of the week but had not thought about tonight. We were so hungry it was hindering our ability to decide on dinner, then Jason suggested a good comfort meal - Mac and Cheese.

Jason does not like Boxed Mac and Cheese (I'll admit it's not the best but in a hurry it works). However tonight I told him I would make his favorite Mac and Cheese - a very simple recipe.

In a sauce pot of medium heat mix 1/2 cup of milk and 2 tablespoons of butter. As you heat the milk and butter begin adding American Cheese slices. Depending on how thick you want the sauce you will add between 10-20 slices, I also something add 1/4 cup of shredded cheddar cheese. Continue to stir until the cheese is completely melted. Remove from heat when cheese is completely melted and combined.
In another pot fix 4 cups of pasta, this can be any kind of pasta - whatever you have extra in the cabinet (we had shells and elbow noodles because we didn't have enough of either one so we had to combine). Cook pasta in boiling water to desired tenderness (usually about 10-12 minutes).
Drain noodles and mix cheese sauce in. Salt and Pepper to desire. Allow noodles and cheese to stand for about 5 minutes to thicken the cheese sauce.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Baby Food

When Jason and I started talking about having children, there were a couple of things

that we knew for sure we wanted to do. One thing we both agreed on from the beginning was homemade baby food. For the last year I have been doing a lot of research on homemade baby food, what equipment I would need, recipes, when to start making it, etc. I have acquired several different baby food cookbooks and found lots of websites. Since Lucas is now 4 months old and we are getting close to introducing baby food, I have started the cooking process.

Equipment that I decided to use:

They make these very nice (read - expensive) baby food cookers/steamers -

Beaba Babycook Baby Food Maker. However I decided that before we made a purchase like this I would see if I could get the results I was looking for with kitchen equipment that I already have. So I will be using :

- Large Pot and lid

- Steamer Basket

- Blender

- Ice Cube Trays

Foods I plan to start with:

- Peas

- Pears

- Sweet Potatoes

- Carrots

- Apples

Each are easy to make and are recommended 1st foods. I will blog as I make each food.

*http://www.wholesomebabyfood.com - Great Resource!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Mommy's cooking helper!

Tonight's Menu :

Pan Fried Pork Chops

Mashed Potatoes


Green Beans


This is one of Jason's favorite meals and one of my favorite - cause it's simple and yummy.

A couple of weeks ago Pork Chops were on sale at our local grocery store. (I stock up and freeze meat when it's on sale, then menu plan from the freezer.) I pulled 4 pork chops out of the freezer last night and put them in the refrigerator to thaw.

Once the pork chops were thawed I seasoned each one on both sides with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

Next in a shallow dish or contained I mixed 1 cup of flour with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Then I dipped both sides of the pork chop in the flour.
In a pan over medium heat I added 1/2 cup of olive oil. Once it the oil is hot enough (if you drop a little flour in it should bubble), carefully place the pork chops in the pan. After about 4 minutes turn the pork chop and brown the other side.
Once both sides have browned I placed them into the oven that was preheated to 300 degrees. I then let them continue to cook for about 30 minutes.

While the pork chops were cooking I peeled 4 potatoes, made the mashed potatoes, microwaved a can of green beans, corn and using a packet made brown gravy.

I totally I spent 1 hour preparing and cooking the food. Not bad for a well balanced meal!


My inspiration has come from a multitude of avenues. Each providing a different piece in developing my passion for cooking, motherhood and sharing my experiences.
1. My Mom - She has driven my passion for cooking since I was little. She has taught me most of what I know about cooking and techniques. She always insisted that we eat healthy and satisfying meals that were simple to make.
2. My Stepmom, Donna - Our family has had a running joke since Donna joined it - the first meal that she made my sister Brooke and I, she burned (it was a grilled cheese). We have joked since that she burned it so that she wouldn't have to cook for us. However after all these years - she has decided to learn to cook, and it turns out with a little guidance ( a good cookbook) she is a great cook.
3. My Dad - During my childhood my Dad had one rule - you at least have to try the food once. He and my mother opened my eyes to many foods that without this rule, I probably wouldn't have learned to love.
4. My Grandma and Grandpa Shackelford - Both have a signature dishes, but one theme has always been present, a love for a family centered dinner - Grandma's Chicken and Noodles (with homemade noodles), and Grandpa's Vegetable Soup.
5. My sisters - Amanda, Brooke, and April - each provided their own inspiration to my life and cooking aspirations. Amanda - she prepared me for being married to a picky eater (her rules for things she would and wouldn't eat often changed weekly). Brooke has developed her own passion for trying new recipes and entertaining, she is always recommending something new. April is a wonderful mother and has shown me fun kid friendly food and as well as inspired me to think outside the box as she has learned to cook Korean foods.
6. Ey - Lindsey is amazing. Although we have had a rough go from the beginning she has become one of my best friends. She supported me through Weight Watchers, eating lunch with me everyday and attending meetings with me. I was a bridesmaid in her wedding (even though I was second choice j/k Ey). She stayed at the hospital all day waiting for Lucas to be arrive, bringing Jason and I a care/entertainment bag! She inspires me to cook not because she does a lot of cooking - but because she wants to learn. She is my inspiration for sharing my story, recipes and cooking techniques.
7. Lastly my little family, Jason and Lucas - They are my inspiration because I cook for them daily. I strive to be the best wife and mother I can. Jason has provided our family the opportunity for me to be a Stay at Home Mommy. Without his hard work, I don't know that I would have time for my passions - being a wife, Mommy and a cook. Jason as I said is a picky eater - forcing me to be creative (otherwise we would eat Mashed Potatoes every night). Lucas isn't eating solid food yet (other than a little cereal), but I have started making his homemade baby food and will share those experiences as well.
Thanks to everyone for encouraging and feeding my passions!


I decided recently that I wanted to find a way to share my homegrown passion for cooking with the world (which will really probably just extend to my close friends and family). As a new mom I have searched high and low for quick and healthy meals that meet three qualifications : will satisfy my picky eater (my husband, Jason), will make edible leftovers (everything makes leftovers but they aren't necessarily any good), and is simple but satisfying.
With a 4 month old, anything I want to cook has to be simple. Recipes that require a zillion steps or constant attention won't work in this household. Anyone with a baby knows that one minute you can be cooking a perfectly wonderful meal - and the next your baby needs your undivided attention. So my mission is to find stress free simple but healthy meals.
I will be documenting my trials - both success and failures - from menu planning, grocery shopping, cooking (techniques and recipes), and final product (success will be judged by my husband).