Posted in Dumping Dinner, Easy Cooking, Slow Cooking

Dumping Dinner: Beef Stroganoff 

Thepartysinthekitchen.me

This week, I’m back in Oklahoma for spring break to watch over five-year-old Hero while her parents work. This morning, I dumped one of my daughter’s frozen dinners into the crock pot. While the stroganoff cooked away, we had time to play cards, watch Magic School Bus, and paint our nails. It was a very fun day, and at the end we had something pretty delicious to eat. We added broccoli and chopped salad to make it a meal.

Beef Stroganoff

Ingredients

  • 1 ½-2 pounds stew meat 
  • ½ cup chopped onion 
  • 2 cans golden mushroom soup 
  • ½ cup water 
  • 1 cup sour cream 
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic 
  • 1 package onion soup mix 
  • 1 pound sliced mushrooms, optional 

     For serving:

  • 16 oz egg noodles 

Instructions

  1.  Dump all ingredients except noodles into crock pot.  
  2. Cook on low 6-8. 
  3. Cook noodles according to package directions. Add to meat mixture and serve. 

Note: Instead of adding the mushrooms at the beginning, I sautéed them and added with the noodles at the time of serving. You could also use canned mushrooms in place of the fresh.

Thepartysinthekitchen.me
To freeze
: dump ingredients except noodles into 1 gallon freezer bag, seal and freeze.  

Never, ever underestimate the importance of having fun.

Posted in Dumping Dinner, Uncategorized

Dumping Dinner: Beef & Broccoli

broccoli-1974764_1920

As promised. . .

Here is another Dump Dinner that will make those busy days just a little bit easier. I like that I can just get dinner going in the morning when my energy is high and my resolve to eat well is still intact. After my visit in Oklahoma, my daughter Genny was inspired to make some more dinners for her freezer after the ones I made ran out. She and her husband packaged up seventeen in just an hour and a half. Here is one they tried this week. She reported that the Beef and Broccoli was their favorite so far.

Beef and Broccoli

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds beef, sliced
  • 1 can beef and mushroom soup
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, minced or grated
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 3 cups fresh or 10 ounce bag frozen broccoli cuts, steamed

Directions

To cook now:

  1. Dump meat into crockpot.
  2. Mix remaining ingredients together.
  3. Pour over beef.
  4. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.
  5. Before eating stir in broccoli.

To freeze for later:

  1. Dump beef into one gallon freezer bag. Can be split into two bags.
  2. Mix remaining ingredients except broccoli together and dump on top of meat.
  3. Seal and freeze.

Follow To cook now directions on cooking day.

Freezing tip: Place freezer bag into 64-96 ounce plastic bowl to load. This will give you stability and free up your hands. Then, freeze, bowl and all. I know you have seen freezer meals all flat and stacked on the freezer shelves. It’s a thing of beauty, but the shape simply does not fit into a crock pot without defrosting. The bowl also prevents the meal from freezing around the wire on the shelves. Remove bowls when frozen to use for more dinners.

dump-dinner-bowls

 

 

 

 

Posted in Involving the Heart

Making Memories

memories-are-made

This week has been full of making memories with my girls in Oklahoma.

We have made good use of our short time. There has been some sightseeing, a little shopping, cooking of good food, and talking, talking, talking. It has been so much fun.

Up until just a couple of years ago, my daughters all lived near us. We did a lot of life together. But the need to find work relocated two of them, along with their husbands and our grandchildren. I miss the days when we could just drop by and spend time together. Now we must be intentional with the time we set aside for visiting and make the most of each occasion.

I often wonder why we are not more like this in all our relationships.

I suppose it is because we think we’ll have time to get together as soon as things calm down. Most of us know that a slower life is a joke. The truth is, we will be waiting for a long time for that to happen. And when things actually do get slower, our neglected friendships will be long dead and buried.

So, I propose we take this matter to heart. Let us not allow our friendships grow cold. Let’s be intention with gathering together and making memories. In years to come, it will be good to have a treasure trove of stories that always begin with “Remember when. . .”

“We do not remember days, we remember moments.”

Cesare Pavese

us-at-the-mercantile


Are you wondering what good things we cooked while we were visiting?

Lots of great stuff, but one thing that usually shows up on the table when we get together is Beef Enchiladas. I learned this easy recipe when the church we attended would sell these enchiladas to raise funds for an outreach to Mexico. We liked them so much we have continued to enjoy them all these years later. They also bring back the memory of doing something pretty special with a group of people who wanted to do good in the world by serving others. Ever since then, I have had an ongoing love affair with serving the people of Mexico. See Hope Under Construction and For Goodness Sake to find out more of what I’m up to and the ministry I serve with there.

Beef Enchiladas

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 large can of red enchilada sauce or 1 recipe of homemade
  • 10 6-inch flour tortillas
  • 1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • Sliced black olives
  • Toppings—sour cream, sliced green onions, etc.

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 375°F. Spray 13×9-inch (3-quart) baking dish or pan with cooking spray.
  2. In 10-inch nonstick skillet, cook beef and onions over medium-high heat 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thoroughly cooked; drain. Stir in 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce to season meat mixture.
  3. Spread additional 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce evenly in baking dish. Spoon about 1/4 cup beef mixture down center of each tortilla; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon cheese. Wrap tortillas tightly around filling, placing seam side down in baking dish. Top with remaining enchilada sauce. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and sliced olives.
  4. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
  5. ENJOY!

This is an excellent dish to make for a someone who needs a little pick-me-up and a visit from a friend.

enchilada-fixings

Posted in Easy Recipes for Busy Days, Main Dish, Slow Cooking

Dinner’s Ready! Slow Cooking for Busy Days

 

One of my struggles is having something ready to eat at the end of the day. Crazy for a food blogger to admit. Even more so, when you realize my commute from my workplace to my kitchen is literally ten feet. It should be easy for me to just pop in the kitchen and whip something up, but it doesn’t always happen.

This topic came up on a recent trip to visit my daughters in Oklahoma. They told me they were dealing with this problem in their life, too. [Their commute is much longer than mine.] Work zapped all their energy, leaving them uninspired when it came time to cook. Fast food was taking its toll on their bank account and on their health. And eating on the fly was not allowing them to sit down, relax, and reconnect with their families.

I mentioned once-a-month cooking, but they needed something that took less prep and could go directly in the slow cooker from the freezer. With a little research, we found what are called dump dinners. They are just what the name implies. Dump all the ingredients into the crock pot, set the timer, and voila’ dinner is ready when you return home. The beauty of these meals is that with a little time and planning, you can have a few packaged up in the freezer, ready to go.

Before our visit was over, the girls had some in their freezer. All they had to do each morning was put them in the slow cooker, set the time and temperature, and go. They have since reported back saying how much they enjoyed them. One added benefit—they loved walking into the house after a long day to the smell of home-cooked food. They felt spoiled, and hoped more dinners would find their way into the freezer the next time I came to visit. Lol!

Now that I am back home, I have been testing some recipes for myself. This week we enjoyed Pesto Ranch Chicken [See recipe below.] It was delish and oh so easy. I shared on social media what I was doing and it seems there is a lot of interest in having meals with little to no prep and can go from freezer to crockpot. Our fast-paced culture has not diminished our desire to come together and eat something good at the end of the day. This method of cooking makes that easy, and adds an aroma of goodness to welcome you home.

The smells of slow cooking spread around the house and impart a unique warmth matched only by the flavour of the food.

Yotam Ottolenghi


crock-pot

Over the next few weeks, I will be posting some of the Dump Dinner recipes I’m trying. Here is the one I put together today. It reminds me of the flavor of Salisbury Steak.

Savory Steak and Gravy

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ – 2 pounds cube steak
  • 1 cup sliced onion
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 can cream of chicken and mushroom soup
  • 1 can French onion soup
  • 1 package au jus gravy mix
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons water

Directions

  1. Whisk together cream of chicken and mushroom soup, French onion soup, Au jus gravy mix, Worcestershire sauce, and 2/3 water in crock pot.
  2. Add onions, mushrooms, and cube steak.
  3. Cook on low for five hours.
  4. Mix together 2 tablespoons cornstarch with 2 tablespoons water. Add mixture to sauce in crock pot to thicken.
  5. Serve with potatoes, noodles, or rice.
  6. Enjoy!

To freeze ahead: Dump meat, onions, mushrooms, soups, gravy mix, and Worcestershire into a one gallon freezer bag and freeze for up to three months. When it’s time to cook, dump frozen into crock pot along with 2/3 cup water. Cook on low for 6 hours. Thicken and serve.

steak-and-gravy2

Pesto Ranch Chicken

Ingredients

  • 1 ½-2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
  • 1 small jar pesto sauce
  • 1 package or 2 tablespoons dry Ranch dressing mix
  1. Dump all ingredients into crock pot.
  2. Cook on low 5 hours.
  3. Enjoy!

To freeze: Put all ingredients into one gallon freezer bag and freeze up to 3 months.


Here are just a few tips I have found helpful before you get started.

  • Label your freezer bags with a permanent marker and allow it to dry before you get started. Along with the name of the recipe, date packaged and cooking time and heat, include any ingredients such as water or broth that must be added at time of cooking.
  • Place the freezer bag into a 64-96 oz. plastic bowl when ready to load. This will give it stability and will free up your hands.
  • Leave meat in whole pieces. It cooks better and can be cut up or shredded when done.
  • Freeze bag in bowl. This is a very important step. I know you’ve seen pictures of freezer meals all flat and stacked neatly on the freezer shelf. It’s a thing of beauty, but the shape simply doesn’t fit into the crock pot. Freezing the bag in bowl will give it the right shape to fit easily into the slow cooker without defrosting. Note: No need to leave in bowl once frozen. Remove and reuse bowl to shape more dinners.

Have fun! Please share your favorites with us. I’d love to hear about your life in the kitchen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Baked Perfection

There’s Something About the Aroma of Holiday Cheer

thumbprint-cookiesBaking has erupted in my kitchen. The fragrance of butter and cinnamon announce that feast day is almost upon us and it’s gonna be good.

I love when I am cooking up something yummy for my friends and family. There is a certain satisfaction in it all.  In years past, I have baked dozens of cookies to share with my husband’s co-workers. They were not just any cookie. They were one of the best cookies I’ve ever tasted and have become my go-to when a gift of food is called for. I have had people casually mention that Christmas was coming as a reminder they hoped so were the cookies.

Our tradition for many years was to bake and package, then gather my  grandkids to make a delivery run. At first, they felt a little awkward greeting people they did not know. But once they received a gracious thank you from the recipients, they began to get the idea of what sharing the holiday cheer was all about. In a small way, they were learning the gift of hospitality and the joys of its actions.

Today, all I need is the smell of the kitchen on days when I bake thumbprint cookies to remind me of those good times. Such great memories surround the making and sharing of food. I hope your celebrations make some great ones to store up and cherish.


Here is that very yummy cookie recipe from Ina Garten. I’m sure they would be happy to join your Christmas feast. Enjoy your holiday!

Jam Thumbprint Cookies

Ingredients

  • ¾ pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature [I use salted.]
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water, for egg wash
  • 7 ounces sweetened flaked coconut
  • Raspberry or apricot jam

Go here for instructions.


 

Grandkids at about age 12. Two are twins and were born when the other sib was just eleven months old. These Irish triplets are the same age about three weeks right around Christmastime.

carrie-nick-and-simon

 

Posted in Breakfast, Coffee Time, Dessert

Cinnamon and Butter? Yes, Please.

coffee-cake-mixinsOh, yum! Some dear friends of ours introduced us to Carolyn’s Café in Redlands. Even though it was nearly lunchtime, I opted for breakfast. The reason? Carolyn’s famous coffeecake. It comes with the breakfast plates. The delicate, cinnamon-sugar encrusted cake is very hard to resist, especially with a scoop of butter melting into the top and down the sides.  OMGoodness is it ever delicious. Yes, I shared, but it was tempting to eat it all myself. So, because I know most you don’t live near Carolyn’s Café , and you are feeling gipped, I did some digging and found a recipe.  Good ol’ King Arthur Flour has one that fits the bill.

Warning: This information may be dangerous.

Cinnamon-Streusel Coffeecake

Streusel Topping

Topping

  • 1 cup brown sugar, light or dark
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder

Cake

  • ¾ cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • ¾ cup sour cream or plain yogurt
  • 1 ¼ cups milk
  • 3 3/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

Instructions

    1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9″ x 13″ pan, or two 9″ round cake pans.
    2. Make the topping by whisking together the sugar, salt, flour, and cinnamon. Add the melted butter, stirring till well combined. Set the topping aside.
    3. Make the filling by mixing together the brown sugar, cinnamon, and cocoa powder. Note that the cocoa powder is used strictly for color, not flavor; leave it out if you like. Set it aside.
    4. To make the cake: In a large bowl, beat together the butter, salt, sugars, baking powder, and vanilla until well combined and smooth.
    5. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
    6. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sour cream or yogurt and milk till well combined. You don’t need to whisk out all the lumps.
    7. Add the flour to the butter mixture alternately with the milk/sour cream mixture, beating gently to combine.
    8. Pour/spread half the batter (a scant 3 cups) into the prepared pan(s), spreading all the way to the edges. If you’re using two 9″ round pans, spread 1 1/3 cups batter in each pan.
    9. Sprinkle the filling evenly atop the batter.
    10. Spread the remaining batter atop the filling. Use a table knife to gently swirl the filling into the batter, as though you were making a marble cake. Don’t combine filling and batter thoroughly; just swirl the filling through the batter.
    11. Sprinkle the topping over the batter in the pan.
    12. Bake the cake until it’s a dark golden brown around the edges; medium-golden with no light patches showing on top, and a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 55 to 60 minutes for the 9″ x 13″ pan, 50 to 55 minutes for the 9″ round pans. When pressed gently in the middle, the cake should spring back.
    13. Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool for 20 minutes before cutting and serving.
    14. Serve cake right from the pan. Carolyn’s plops a big scoop of butter right on top for extra yumminess.
    15. Enjoy!caolyns-coffee-cake2

      This is going to take the place of cinnamon rolls at our house on Christmas morning.
      If you live Southern California’s Inland Empire, please visit Carolyn’s and see for yourself. Be prepared to wait. It’s a very popular place. Don’t worry. The sweet smell of cinnamon will keep you company.

       

       

       

       

     

 

 

 

Posted in eating well, soup, Warm the Soul

Ahhh. . . Soup’s On

“But since soup mainly involves tossing everything in a pot and waiting, it’s one of my better dishes.” ― Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games

The signal to begin the rush has sounded. With Halloween behind us, the holidays are in sight. Posts of things we are thankful for have started hitting individual’s Facebook pages, and winter wonderlands have sprung up where the garden centers used to be. Ready, set, go! Let the busyness begin.

Perfect time to get the crock pot out and have something simmering for those days when activities and the demands of the season overwhelm us.  A pot full of deliciousness wafting its aroma all the way to the front door will be the perfect Welcome Home after a hectic day. Couple it with some good bread and a sigh just might occur.

This recipe is from my daughter, Genevieve. You won’t need your crock pot for this one because you can have it on the table in thirty minutes if you like. But there is something to be said for a soup that has been allowed to mingle for a few hours. So, either way, it will be a warm finish to your day.


Italian White Bean Soupthepartysinthekitchen.me

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper. Seeded and diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound Italian seasoned turkey sausage
  • 3 cans Cannoli beans, drained
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon oregano

In Dutch oven, sauté onion, red pepper, and carrot 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Add in turkey sausage and cook until no longer pink. Add chicken stock, white beans, tomatoes, and oregano. Simmer for 15 minutes.

This delicious soup is one of those recipes you can alter to what’s in your pantry. Try one of the following ideas. If you come up with other ideas, please don’t keep them a secret. Be sure to share.

Additional ideas—

Substitute ham for sausage. Omit the tomatoes and oregano. Add 1 teaspoon thyme.

Substitute chicken breast for sausage. Add a spoonful of pesto to each bowl when serving.

Omit sausage. Replace chicken stock with vegetable stock. Add 1-2 tablespoons of Italian seasoning.


This recipe along with a couple of other soup recipes for Creamy Potato and Roasted Tomato plus my sister’s flatbread recipe can be found in the food column, Corner Bistro, of this month’s issue of Broken But Priceless: The Magazine. I have the privilege of being the food columnist for this beautiful online magazine that brings information and encouragement to those who live with chronic illness and their caregivers. Take a peek, and pass it along to others. I learn something new from each issue.