Tip Tuesday: Peruse the Cooking Magazines for Inspiration

Tip Tuesday

We now interrupt the Kitchen Essentials miniseries to bring you a much-needed update and confession.  I am MASSIVELY obsessed with the seasonal cooking magazines (or the specialty ones) that Land O’Lakes, Betty Crocker, Taste of Home, and Better Homes and Gardens publish.

Recently, at our new Kroger (which is going to have a post of its own soon, I promise), I spied these two gems:



The soup idea intrigued me.  I’ve seen the same approach with layering salads in containers, but the soup idea was just making me NEED to see it (and share with you).

It’s the concept of Cuppa Noodles.  You know, the disgusting things that attempt to upscale ramen and make you only miss the straight-up ramen-ny goodness boiled on the stove?

The execution seems simple and makes three pint-sized microwaveable jars.  I’m hoping to make up some of these for Josh (as he seems to be in cold season’s nasty clutches) for his cookstove in his work van.

The basic formula is as follows:

3 tsp. bouillon (that will be 3 bouillon cubes crushed) (see below for more details)

flavorings (see below for more details)

9 ounces protein (see below for more details)

1 1/2 cups cooked grains (see below for more details)

1 1/2 cups vegetables (see below for more details)

Divide stock base and flavor boost evenly among the containers.  Layer with protein, noodles, and vegetables.  Place lids on jars.  Store in the fridge 3-5 days.  Before heating, let stand at room temp for 10 minutes.  Fill the jar nearly to the top with water (1 1/4 cups).  Microwave (or heat in a cook stove), uncovered, 2 minutes.  Let stand five minutes.  Stir to combine.

Bouillon:  beef, chicken, or vegetable

Flavorings:  (one or more)

1 1/2 tsp. citrus zest

1/4 tsp. chili powder

3/4 tsp. Tony’s

3/4 tsp. Old Bay seasoning

1 T soy sauce

2 T rice vinegar

3 T teriyaki sauce

2 T white miso paste

2 T grated fresh ginger

2 cloves minced garlic

1 T snipped fresh herbs or 2 tsp. dried herbs

Protein:  (only one)

cooked sausage (smoked, artisan links, breakfast, Italian)

cooked shredded (or diced) chicken

cooked shredded leftover roast (beef or pork) (or finely diced)

leftover hamburger meat

cooked peeled shrimp (even tails removed) (maybe finely diced or smaller shrimp)

diced ham

cooked meatballs

3/4 cup canned beans or thawed (from frozen) beans (They recommend edamame)

2 ounces smoked salmon (or a cooked whitefish…make almost a bouillabaisse if you add in some shrimp)

3 diced (or smushed) hard-cooked eggs (I think this would be best to add as a topping, though)

Cooked Grains:

They recommend any type of cooked noodle (cooked one minute less than package directions, drained, shocked in cold water to stop cooking, drained, and tossed in cooking oil to coat), snipped into shorter lengths if a long noodle.  I think rice and funky pasta shapes (tiny stars, etc) would work, as well as orzo.  I also think mostly-cooked barley would be a bulk-adding ingredient to it.

Vegetables:  (choose two or three)

They don’t recommend par-cooking, but I would par cook some of the more crisp veggies here.

thinly sliced carrots (if you par-cook, you could do diced here)

sliced snow or sugar snap pea pods

frozen peas

frozen corn

sliced green onion (or diced regular onion)

grated broccoli or broccoli slaw

fresh baby spinach, baby kale, or chopped bok choy

sliced mushrooms

finely chopped squash (zukes, summer squash, maybe even butternut)

finely chopped and drained peeled tomato (or sun-dried tomato)

They make a few flavor suggestions:

  1.  Edamame-Mushroom:  chicken bouillon, soy sauce, rice vinegar, miso paste, ginger, garlic, edamame, rise noodles, snow peas, and mushrooms
  2. Teriyaki Chicken:  beef bouillon, teriyaki sauce, ginger, garlic, chicken, ramen, carrots, bok choy
  3. Cajun Sausage:  chicken, Tony’s, smoked sausage (or andouille), farfalle, corn, green onions, and broccoli slaw (I would probably use onion, bell pepper, and celery to include the trinity)
  4. Lemon Chicken:  chicken bouillon, lemon zest, dill weed, chicken, linguine, spinach, and zucchini
  5. Shrimp Bowl:  vegetable bouillon, Old Bay, shrimp, angel hair pasta, broccoli slaw, and mushrooms
  6. Meatball Mac:  beef bouillon, chili powder, meatballs, shell pasta, frozen peas

One that I’m looking forward to trying is a take-off on Chicken Tortilla Soup:  chicken bouillon, chicken, lime zest, cilantro, chili powder, cumin, corinander, rice, corn, bell peppers, and tomato.  I would serve it with tortilla chips.

What ideas do you have?


Meal Plan Monday: The Many Uses of Slow Cooker Refried Beans

Meal Plan Monday

Muffin is a bean-eating boy.  He loves baked beans (that he calls “sweet beans”).  He loves red beans and rice.  He loves refried beans.  He loves refried beans so much that often he will eat refried beans on a taco with “cream” (sour cream), cheese, and nothing else.

I’m okay with that.

By the end of this week, we will have eaten beans (of the refried variety) TWICE!  And Muffin will be as happy as a jumping bean!

If you are familiar with savings blogs and publications like The Tightwad Gazette, you have heard of the beans and rice way of life.  I’m a big believer that such a diet could exist and consumers could still have a wide variety of meals.

There is, of course, the big bean burrito.  This is Muffin’s pick of choice if we ever visit Taco Bell.

I have seen casseroles containing refried beans; after all, isn’t seven-layer dip, in effect, a casserole?  Even though I rarely have them, I like beans on my nachos.

One “recipe” that I’ve wanted to try from my favorite money-saving cookbook Dining on a Dime is to spread refried beans on a slice of bread, sprinkle it with cheese, and broil the “toast” until the cheese melts and all is hot.

So…on to the bean-laden menu:

Saturday:  Margarita Grilled Chicken from The Slow Roasted Italian, beans, salad

Sunday:  Mississippi Roast from Southern Bite, mashed potatoes, peas

Monday:  tacos (with refried beans)

Tuesday:  We will be using our Chick-Fil-A calendar card.  Grilled chicken sandwich and a drink for Josh and me, and nugget meal for Muffin.

Wednesday:  leftover roast, grilled chicken, and taco stuff on a baked potato (Baked Potato Bar)

Thursday:  Josh is off but on-call, so he is going to be deciding and prepping.

Friday:  Josh is off but on-call, so he is going to be deciding and prepping (but probably something pizza-related).

Saturday:  I am tentatively saying soup of some kind, but I’ve been pinning like crazy lately, so I might try something completely new.

Sunday:  A slow cooker roast, veg, and potato of some kind (but, again, I’ve been pinning like crazy, so I might try something completely new.)

I am planning on making a version of Mounds/Bounty bars as the treat of the week.

As usual, I will be posting this entry to OrgJunkie’s Menu Plan Monday:

Meal Plan Monday: Week of January 4

Meal Plan Monday

This week is going to be a hodge podge.  Josh is on call, but off Monday and Tuesday.  We still have plenty of leftovers from the party as well as a few other goodies that I have planned.  Josh will probably bring home a pizza on Friday.

Saturday:  leftover fajita stuff

Sunday:  Crock Pot Dr. Pepper pork chops, mashed potatoes and gravy, canned veg

Monday:  Josh prep–breakfast for supper?

Tuesday:  Josh prep–spaghetti with Italian sausage?

Wednesday:  leftover Bacon Double Cheeseburger Beer Cheese Soup, crackers (Josh may take some in his thermos to reheat in his new travel oven)

Thursday:  leftover fajita stuff or leftover pork chops

Friday:  Little Caesar’s $5 pepperoni special

Saturday:  Spasagna, green veg, artisan bread

Sunday:  Chicken and Dumplins, salad or veg sticks and dip, artisan bread

My goal is also to make more of the refried beans for use the next week on Saturday or Sunday.  I’m lovin’ that recipe.

And now…Bacon Double Cheeseburger Beer Cheese Soup, courtesy of The Slow Roasted Italian:

Bacon Double Cheeseburger Beer Cheese Soup

Source:  The Slow Roasted Italian


First, I made my own Montreal Steak Seasoning:

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon crushed black pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon dill weed

3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Mix together and use 5 teaspoons of the mixture below.

And now…the recipe:

6 slices thick-cut bacon, cut using kitchen shears into 1/2 inch pieces.

1 pound ground beef

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

5 teaspoons homemade Montreal Steak Seasoning

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

12 ounces beer (I used Coor’s light)

4 cups half-and-half (or cream for thicker or milk for thinner)

16 ounces mild cheddar

salt, to taste

Warm 8 quart pot over high heat.  Add cut bacon to pot stirring often.  Cook until lightly crisp.  Add beef, breaking it up with a wooden spoon into chunks.  Cook until done.  Drain all but 2 tablespoons drippings.  Stir in flour, seasoning, and paprika.  Stir until flour is coated.  Add beer and scrape pot to deglaze.  Cook 3 minutes.  Add half and half.  Stir to combine and bring to a bubble.  Add cheese and stir until cheese is melted.  Taste to add salt, as necessary.  Allow to simmer until ready to serve, stirring occasionally.

Serve with croutons sprinkled over the top.

Muffin loved this soup!

Muffin Approved

What is your favorite cold-weather soup?

As always, I will be linking up here:

Meal Plan Monday: Back to Work Full-Time

Meal Plan Monday

This week brings a return to work full time.  I am planning to make it a fairly low-key foodie week, with a three-in-one meal of chili and prep for the chili and another dish on the weekend.

I hope to compile a list in next week’s Meal Plan Monday post that will detail foods that can be prepped on the weekend and either compiled and cooked quickly on the weekday or cooked completely on the weekend and reheated on the weekday.  This list will help me and others prepare for the busy meals of the week.

But here is the best I could scratch up for the week:

Saturday:  La Madeleine’s Tomato-Basil soup and grilled cheese sandwiches

Sunday:  fried rice

Monday:  Texas Hash (prepped Sunday):  See the recipe below.

Tuesday:  chili (prepped Sunday) and cornbread

Wednesday:  Frito pies with leftover chili

Thursday:  chili cheese dogs with leftover chili with any vegetables ready from the garden

Friday:  Pizza grilled cheese with pasta sauce for dipping (may save some of the pineapple to do a Hawaiian one again)

Saturday:  grilled hot wings and fries (maybe with grilled baked beans)

Sunday:  burgers (I want to do something special with them.  Maybe I will check out some of The Slow Roasted Italian‘s recipes)

Growing up, one of my favorite dinners was my mom’s Texas Hash.  I doubt it will have ground beef this time (I may use ground pork or ground turkey).  I loved the idea of the meat and rice and tomatoey goodness and the bell pepper and onion and the most exotic spice of my early childhood…chili powder!  Chili powder was great for many things when I was young:  Texas Hash, chili, taco seasoning, and sprinkled in my mom’s and grandmother’s variations of beefy vegetable soup.  As I grew older (and we purchased a microwave), the preparation was even faster.  This is a great one-dish meal that is great with the pineapple-cheese salad.

But, here it is:

(Mom’s Texas Hash, that is)

Family Heirloom Recipes

Texas Hash
(Adapted from my mom)

1 pound ground beef (or turkey or pork), browned and crumbled

1 cup rice (before cooking), cooked according to package directions (Mom now uses brown rice, but my favorite method of preparation is white rice.)

one large bell pepper, diced

one large onion, diced (preferably white or yellow)

one 8-ounce can tomato sauce

one can (14-16 ounces) diced tomatoes (I used petite diced)

one tablespoon (or to taste) chili powder (Make sure you use chili with an “i” rather than an “e” and that you use chili powder, not chili seasoning)

Brown and crumble the ground meat.  In a large casserole dish (microwave safe if you are using the microwave, oven-safe if you are using an oven) combine meat, rice (cooked), and chili powder.  Taste and add more chili powder, if desired (but keep in mind if you are preparing this for a spice-phobe that cooking the dish will intensify the heat slightly).  Zap in the microwave (or saute in a pan sprayed with nonstick cooking spray) the onion and bell pepper until softened.  Stir this mixture into the meat and rice.  Stir in the tomato sauce and undrained can of tomatoes.  Either microwave for 6-8 minutes or bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  If you prepare ahead of time, prep it to this point and then bake in a 350 degree oven for 40-50 minutes (or until heated through).

Serve with taco sauce, extra chili powder, salsa/picante sauce, sour cream (Josh), or ketchup.  I’ve been known to drizzle it with a bit of honey when I was younger (for that sweet heat feel).  This goes well with the pineapple cheese salad and bread and butter.

As usual, I will be linking up with OrgJunkie’s Menu Plan Monday.

What is on your meal plan this week?

Meal Plan Monday: A Return to (Part-Time) Work

Meal Plan Monday

Meal Plan Monday this week is all about survival with a week’s crazy schedule.  I have a 3-day workshop today through Wednesday, and I plan on constructing my classroom on Thursday.  Josh is on call this week, so who knows his dinner status each evening (or if it will mean choke down food and head back out to a call).  Some of the choices are probably going to seem less than super healthy, but I hope it will balance out in coming weeks.

Saturday:  pork chop, grilled baby sweet peppers, quick Asian pickles (I hope to post a recipe soon)

Sunday:  Chick-Fil-A (style) chicken nuggets, fries, tomatoes from the garden (quartered Roma and a grape tomato), cucumber slices and dips

Monday:  hot dogs with whatever veggie or fruit I can find

Tuesday:  pork fried rice

Wednesday:  spaghetti (Josh is making)

Thursday:  tacos (I will try to do most of the prep earlier this week)

Friday:  La Madeleine’s tomato-basil soup, grilled cheese (although this may become pizza grilled cheese again)

Saturday:  Texas Hash, bread with butter, canned or frozen veg

Sunday:  chicken marsala/madeira and mashed potatoes

I’m not attempting anything slow cooker this week (even though the temps are going to be scary), but look for a return to slow cooker madness as I return to work full time.

As usual, I will be linking with OrgJunkie’s Menu Plan Monday:

What are you planning this week?  What are your time-crunch go-to eats?

Meal Plan Monday: Mom’s Hamburger Vegetable Soup

Meal Plan Monday

This week, I am making a recipe of my mom’s that I haven’t made in a while…her hamburger vegetable soup.  It isn’t really a recipe, per se, it’s toss in a pound of ground beef and any canned and fresh vegetables that you have plus some broth or water and canned tomatoes plus some salt and pepper and cook it until done.  We usually serve it topped with chili powder and with cheese and crackers.  This weekend, I will be serving it first with grilled cheese on Saturday and then with a salad (or maybe cheese and crackers if I’m feeling lazy).

There’s another soup recipe in our family, one that I’ve been trying to perfect for nearly five years, that of my grandmother, my mom’s mom.  Hers was pretty much the same, except she used cut up bits of beef roast boiled to make the broth and soup base and with lots of veg added, including potatoes that cooked down until they were very very soft.  She would make it with the veg on hand, and I loved it best when she put in okra because I liked to chomp on the seeds that shook themselves loose from the pods in the soup…kind of like diving for pearls.  I know; I’m weird like that.

But since I can’t help but grind all roasts I buy now…it’s hamburger soup at Casa LFam.  I know it’s getting a bit warm for soup, but I think it will feel good in the tummy (plus it’s definitely Muffin Approved).

Here’s the plan:

*Thursday we plan to take full advantage of 50-cent corn dogs at Sonic.  Ironically, National End of School Day coincides with our last day of school.  Josh and Muffin are picking me up (so that Josh can prep my classroom ‘puters for summer), and we will probably catch Sonic on the way home.

Monday:  Mexican Monday (tacos)–also, I’m going to have 7-layer dip that I picked up on clearance at Kroger for lunch with chips…yum!

Tuesday:  pancakes and sausage (or bacon…or fried ham)

Wednesday:  Josh is grilling ribs that I found at Albertson’s for 1.69/lb.

Thursday:  corn dogs, etc. at Sonic

Friday:  First day of summer vacay!  pizza

Saturday:  hamburger veg soup with grilled cheese

Sunday:  leftover hamburger veg soup and salad (or cheese and crackers…this will be what Muffin has!)

As usual, I will be linking up with OrgJunkie’s Menu Plan Monday!

What’s on your plan for this week?