30 March 2010

Spaghetti Sauce

Growing up my dad's mom lived with us. She raised my dad in Atlanta where she worked as a beautician. In fact, my parents met (41 years ago) when my grandma was doing my mom's hair and my dad came into the salon to see his mom. How cute is that? She gave us home perms, frosted my mom's hair, cooked, cleaned, and took care of us. She would make buttermilk biscuits any time of day, whenever we asked. To this day they are the best biscuits I've ever had and I have never been able to make them properly. She never used a recipe and always used her hands to mix them. Maybe that was the secret. She also made this spaghetti sauce recipe. The only thing I have changed is that I don't add celery. Even though I don't need my recipe card to make this sauce anymore I always get it out because my grandmother wrote it down for me and seeing her handwriting makes me smile.

(I double this recipe for two nights worth of meals. It freezes beautifully--just pour the leftovers into a freezer bag, pat it flat, and freeze for up to 6 months.)

You will need:

2 lbs extra lean ground beef
1 large green pepper
1 large onion
2 cloves or 1T crushed garlic
2 beef bullion cubes
2 small cans tomato sauce
2 small cans tomato paste (I love the roasted garlic flavor)
2 cans tomato soup

I use a 96% lean ground beef, so I like to add a tablespoon of oil to the pan before browning the meat. I use a mini food processor to chop the onion and green pepper until they are in super tiny pieces--to hide them from the Goose. Feel free to have adult size pieces in your sauce. :) Put the ground beef, onion, green pepper, garlic, and bullion cubes in a large pot and brown until the beef is done.

Then add the 2 cans of sauce, paste, and soup. I really, really recommend the tomato paste with the roasted garlic flavor added.

Stir. (Did I mention that this sauce is super simple?)

Bring the sauce to a boil and then reduce to the heat to barely a simmer. Cook for at least an hour, but the longer the better. I usually give it at least four hours, stirring often. If you don't want to wait on the sauce, make it the night before, and then stick it in the fridge. You will actually get a better, more fully developed flavor this way. This sauce is always better the next day!

I use Ronzoni Smart Taste pasta, angel hair. They add fiber, calcium, and Vitamin D to it, which makes it a bit healthier than regular white pasta. I don't like to eat whole wheat pasta with this sauce, too grainy.

I was really busy one day and had not planned dinner, so I stopped at the grocery store and got a jar of sauce and some noodles. My family was not having it! Now every time I say we're having spaghetti for dinner I get these panicked looks from Bubba and the girls. This last time Tink asked, "you're not using that store bought junk are you?" I guess I'll never live that down. :) This is the only sauce for my family.


The past week I also made Burgers and Shredded Beef Tacos.

Spaghetti Sauce

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23 March 2010

Italian Chicken

I have been making my mom's recipe for Italian Chicken since I was first married (coming up on 17 years), but I've been eating it since I can remember. The first time I made it I didn't have the recipe and was trying to make it from memory. Not smart considering I had never made it before and had yet to pull off a successful dinner. I didn't know what liquid my mom used (wine), so I used water. The result? The toughest, most inedible chicken ever made. Bubba could not even get his knife through it. Poor guy! :) My mom sent me the recipe and it's been one of my family's favorite ever since. Thanks, Mom!

(*note: I am detailing the recipe in its original quantities, but I doubled the recipe when I took the pictures. I wanted to have enough for the next night.)

You will need:

4 boneless, skinless chicken breats
1 package Italian bread crumbs (I used Panko)
1 egg
1T lemon juice (fresh)
1 tsp lemon zest (optional)
1/2 cup white cooking wine
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp parsley flakes (fresh or dried)
1 tsp chicken bullion or one cube
2T oil for frying pan

Heat an electric skillet to 325 degrees.

Mix the lemon juice, zest, wine, water, garlic salt, parsley flakes, and chicken bullion in a measuring cup.

Mix the egg and 1T of water and put in a bowl or pie pan. Add the Italian bread crumbs to another bowl or pie pan. (I really recommend the pie pans. They make everything so much easier!)

I cut up my chicken breasts into thirds (per usual) and dip in the egg mixture.

Then roll them in the bread crumbs.

Add the 2T of oil to the hot pan and then add the chicken. Brown on each side.

Then pour the lemon, wine, seasoning mixture on top of the browned chicken.

Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to 200 degrees, cover, and cook for 25 minutes.

The chicken is incredibly flavorful with a bit of tang from the wine and lemon. And incredibly tender! Bubba doesn't even need a knife to cut through this chicken now. :)

This chicken is great the next day, too. You can reheat it for a second night of dinner or chop it up and put it on a salad for lunch. Any way you eat it this chicken is scrumptious!


(Another recipe I am making this week, but have already posted is my Chicken Fried Rice made with my brown rice.)

Italian Chicken

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17 March 2010

Chocolate Fudge Pie

Picture it: you are all ready to start making dinner when your husband calls and says that he is craving pizza and is going to pick up some on the way home. You could argue, but you love pizza and embrace the idea. But now you aren't making dinner and have all this pent-up cooking/baking energy. You'll need a dessert to go with that pizza and this chocolate fudge pie is just the ticket! It's easy to make, quick, and you don't have to let it cool completely before eating--in fact, it's best if you don't since ice cream doesn't melt on cool pie. :)

You will need:

1 baked pie crust
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup flour (white whole wheat)
3T cocoa powder
1/2 cup (one stick) Smart Balance, softened
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

(for some reason the eggs didn't make it into the picture)

(To bake a pie crust, put it into the pie tin and poke it with holes. I use a fork. Make sure you really cover it with holes so that it doesn't puff up on you. If it does puff up, don't panic, just push it back down while it's still hot--it will crack up a little, but that's not a big deal. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes or until lightly browned.)

Put all the ingredients into a mixer bowl...

and beat until thoroughly combined.

Pour into the baked pie crust and bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes.

That's it! I told you it was easy. By the time hubby gets home with the pizza the pie will be coming out of the oven. Top it with ice cream, fresh whipped cream (no chemical whip), or just eat it plain (my favorite). Tink loved this pie. Adored it, wants to learn how to make it so that she can "make it every day" for the rest of her life. And she has a small sweet tooth! That's how good this pie tastes.

The top gets a great crust just like a brownie and the filling is thick, rich, and fudgy. It tastes like you put a lot of work into it, so make sure everyone knows that you slaved all day over it. :)


Chocolate Fudge Pie

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10 March 2010


One of the drawbacks of having posted over 100 recipes is that I've shared with you most of the stuff I make on a regular basis. Last week I made nothing new. Not one thing. So I thought I would share what I made and maybe you will find a recipe you never read about before or one that you forgot about. I remembered to take new pictures of some of them.

Every two weeks I make my granola bars. They are healthy, delicious, and great treats in my kids' (and hubby's) lunch sacks. Sometimes the girls will even have a second one as an after school snack. I love that I know every ingredient that does into these bars.

One of my all-time favorite dinners is Lemon Chicken. I love it so much that we ate it all before I could take a picture. If you haven't tried it yet, give it a shot!

For dinner one night we had Meatloaf and Roasted Green Beans. Both sooooo good. Sometimes I like to change it up and use orange, yellow, or red peppers instead of green in the meatloaf. I didn't put any of it into muffin cups this time, though.

Friday night I made Whole Wheat Pizza. Except this time I used all white whole wheat and I think it's even better than my original recipe! We decorated the pizzas with pepperoni, red peppers, and lots of mozzarella. Bubba added banana peppers to his. The posted recipe makes four individual pizza crusts. Try it this weekend!

I also made my Healthier Banana Bread and Zucchini Muffins. Again I used all white whole wheat. I almost never use even the smallest amount of white flour anymore. The girls have state-wide standardized testing this week. Banana bread and zucchini muffins made with whole wheat, low fat, healthy ingredients are the perfect breakfast food to keep them full until lunch. Have you ever tried to take a test while your stomach is rumbling? It's so hard to concentrate! I load them up with bread and a glass of sugar-free Carnation Instant Breakfast for the protein.

March is strawberry season in Florida and last Saturday we made our annual trek to the Plant City Strawberry Festival.

From 11am to 5pm on Sunday Tink and I washed, hulled, sliced, and mashed three full flats of strawberries!

Yep, three of those. We made enough low-sugar jam to last until next year.

We also put away in the freezer a few containers of strawberries ready for shortcake. And we ate A LOT of strawberries. Tink was such a huge help!! But the best thing about making jam with her was the talking. She talked about school, politics, religion, boys *shudder*, her friends, you name it we talked about it. It was, in every sense of the word, awesome.

Of course for dessert that night we had to have Strawberry Shortcake with real whipped cream. No chemical whip will ever sully my shortcake! It was also awesome. :) (Oh, and I used all white whole wheat in the shortcakes.)

But first, for dinner Sunday we had Sunday Roast.

Give one of these recipes a try!


03 March 2010

Slow Cooker Applesauce

I got this recipe for slow cooker applesauce from Tasty Kitchen. I changed up the recipe just a bit and am head-over-heels in love with the result!! I will definitely be making this again and again and again.... We ate the applesauce as a dessert after dinner, but then ate it again for breakfast and I put little tubs of it in our lunches. It is also fabulous in pancakes and bread!

You will need:

8 whole apples, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup water
2 tsp cinnamon
slow cooker

The original recipe calls for 8 Golden Delicious, but I used a combination of Fuji (4), Granny Smith (2), and Golden Delicious (2). I would recommend using at least 2 Granny Smith apples no matter what other apples you choose. Also, stay away from the Red Delicious--they tend to be mealy.

Peel your apples. I used an apple peeler/corer, but didn't core them because it slices the apples when it pulls out the core. I don't like that.

Chop the apples into cubes, medium size and toss them into your slow cooker. No need to worry about the apples turning brown since you will be cooking them.

Add the water, sugar, and cinnamon and toss until combined.

Set your slow cooker on high for 3-4 hours (which is what I did) or on low for 8-10. I stirred the applesauce about once an hour.

After three hours smash the apples with a potato masher, but leave some chunks.
Chunky applesauce is AWESOME.

You'll never go back to the jarred stuff after tasting this applesauce. Absolutely amazing. One of my all-time favorite recipe finds!!

Try not to burn your mouth as your scarf down a huge bowl. :)


Slow Cooker Applesauce

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