Thursday, February 07, 2008

Adventures in Cooking

So I may or may not have mentioned here that I am trying (mildly) to come up with more Very Well Loved Recipes in order to revolutionize my outlook on cooking. I would like to have a trusty supply of recipes that my family enjoys so much that I don't even mind making it. Up until now my children have sometimes been so picky and unhappy at meals that I have considered the virtues of tossing each one a sleeve of Saltines and sending them out into the backyard to munch as they play. (and drop crumbs)

But, you know, man does not live on Saltines alone, and neither should small, growing children.

My Tomato Bisque Soup is already on our Very Well Loved list, and lately I've turned to The Pioneer Woman to help me find some new favorites.

Last Saturday night I had the Olive-Cheese Bread for a ladies' craft night that I was going to. It was very easy to make, especially since I chopped things up using my food processor. Everyone liked the bread very much, but personally, next time I will make it with mozzarella cheese instead of Monterey Jack. To me, the jack just didn't have the pizazz that I like in cheese. The nice thing about making this is that when you cut your big loaf of bread in half, for a lot of situations you will only need one half for what you're doing right now, and the other half canjust slide right back into the plastic bag it came from, and go live in the freezer for sometime in the future. I love having stuff ready in the freezer, so every time I see that Olive Cheese Bread in there I feel a happy little glow. :)

Recently I used leftover spaghetti to make PW's Chicken Spaghetti. It was also quite easy to make (way easier the way I do it, as compared to the way PW does it) and everyone (except my ultra-picky eater daughter) really liked it. Some things that I did differently:

-I always buy boneless, skinless chicken breasts and cook a whole bunch of 'em at once in my crock pot. Then I freeze the pieces of chicken and just grab what I need when I want to make something using it. So, for this recipe I just thawed out approximately 2 cups worth of pre-cooked chicken.

-I used one can cream of chicken, and one can cream of broccoli instead of the cream of mushroom that she recommends.

-I left out the pimientos and peppers.

-The spaghetti was plain old leftovers, not cooked in chicken broth

-I was too lazy to chop up an onion

Otherwise, it's the very same idea. Mix all the stuff together. Put it in a 9x13 pan. Throw some more cheese on top. Bake. Enjoy!

Next time I make this I plan to tweak it a little more. I really prefer to make my own cream soups, because then I can have stuff without MSG and all that garbage. Also, this casserole would be great, and a more complete meal, if you had chopped broccoli or some peas thrown into it.

My teenage son said that the cheese on top was overkill (but hey--I kinda like cheese overkill) so his suggestion was to top this casserole with french fried onions, or chinese noodles. I think the onions would be very good. Add some cheese on there and it would be even better!

In short, the chicken spaghetti recipe is a keeper.

Last night I made Twice Baked Potatoes, which I have done many times in the past, though not recently. I like the way TBP look, and I guess that makes them nice for a meal where you are trying to be impressive. Personally, though, I was reminded that it would be a lot more expedient to just make mashed potatoes and put lots of good stuff in there, like the sour cream, etc. (which is always do anyhow) My kids had a bit of a hard time with the TBP, but can always chow down mashed potatoes like nobody's business.

If you have any family-pleasin' recipes, do tell! I would like to have 14 dinner recipes that everybody flips over, by the end of this year. Think I can do it??

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