Wednesday, April 30, 2014


I have a piano student whose parents pay for her lessons with hamburger. ("Interesting trades considered.") They have a cattle ranch, see. One of the many ways I use all that ground beef is by making (and freezing) meatballs every few weeks. We use the same meatballs for three different recipes and they taste great in each dish. The pictured recipe is from Our Best Bites (the first cookbook) "Sweet and Sour Meatballs." I also use the Swedish Meatballs gravy from the Our Best Bites Seasons cookbook for one of our three meatball dishes.

1 lb. extra lean ground beef

1 lb. regular pork sausage (I use Jimmy Dean)

4 T. minced onion

1/2 tsp. pepper

2 tsp. kosher salt

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 c. fine, dry bread crumbs

Dash of Worcestershire sauce

Put all ingredients in a mixing bowl, then mix with your hands. (Do it, Katy!! DO IT.) Line a cookie tray with tin foil that has been crumpled up a little, then smoothed out again. Roll meatballs (or scoop them with a mini scooper) and place on the lined cookie tray.
Adjust the top rack in your oven to the highest level (mine is really close to the top, so I do the second highest level). Put the meatballs on the adjusted rack, then turn the oven to broil. Broil for 11 minutes. We don't use our broiler very often - if you're the same, just know that every minute counts when you're broiling. One minute too long can ruin your meatballs.

Add broiled meatballs to your sauce (sweet and sour sauce, spaghetti sauce, cream gravy for mashed potatoes) and simmer for about 10 minutes. Done! 

This recipe makes approximately 50 meatballs. We need between 15 and 18 meatballs per meal for our family of five. (That family includes one person who thinks meatballs are YUCKY, btw.) So, this ends up being three meals for us. It only takes about an hour for the meatballs to thaw. 
Get the scoop. The process goes much quicker.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Beef Stew

This is a well-loved you can see.  So well-loved that I cannot even believe it is not already on this blog.

I got this recipe from a friend in California. It is perfect for Sundays (or any long busy day) because you throw everything into the crockpot and leave. It is also perfect because almost everyone in my house cheers for joy when they find out that we are having it for dinner.

Beef Stew-Shelly Collins

2lbs Stew beef cubes
1/2 C. Flour
2 T. Oil
1 bay leaf
2 T. A-1 sauce
1 onion
1 cube beef bouillon

1 tsp. pepper
2 tsp. salt
1tsp. sugar
6 carrots
4 potatoes
1C. Celery
4 C. Water

* Heat oil in skillet
* Coat beef cubes with flour (I like to do it shake-n-bake style by putting the flour in a ziplock bag then putting the meat into the bag, zipping it and shaking it)
* Brown the meat in oil
* With crockpot on low,  put meat, bay leaf, a-1, onion, bouillon, seasonings and water.  Let that cook for 3-4 hours.
* Add vegetables cut up in large chunks.  Let cook until vegetables are soft.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

I know. I'm posting a lot of stuff lately. I'm trapped in my house potty training! The only thing I can do is cook and take photos. And clean up messes. I'll say no more - I don't want to ruin your appetite. We have a child at our house who pretty much only eats pasta and/or rice. It's Colin. I find myself preparing menus based on what I hope he will eat. He's the smallest one! His twin brother weighs 10 lbs more than he does! I'm trying to beef him up. Anyway... He loves this stuff!! You will love it too. My favorite thing to do is have Brian get Chick-fil-a chicken strips on his way home from work and we have homemade macaroni and something green for sides. THAT'S the dream.

1 lb. macaroni, cooked (I use shells most of the time)

4 c. white sauce (recipe follows)

2 c. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

2 c. Muenster (*snap *snap) cheese, shredded

White Sauce:

2 c. heavy cream

2 c. milk

8 T. butter

6 T. flour

Cook pasta for one minute less than the package directions in boiling, salted water. Melt butter in a heavy-bottomed, large sauce pan over medium-high heat. Once the butter is melted and bubbling a little, add the flour and whisk until smooth. Add the milk and cream (I put it in the same measuring cup) very slowly, whisking the whole time. Bring to a boil, whisking often. Turn heat to low and add cheeses. Whisk until the cheeses are melted.

Drain the pasta and pour it into the cheese sauce. Stir until it's well-mixed. Pour pasta into a buttered 9" x 13" casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. The top of the macaroni and cheese should be a little browned. (I half this recipe for my family of five and we can all have seconds. It makes A LOT.)

Monday, April 7, 2014

Peanut Butter-Chocolate Revel Bars

These are a definite favorite in our house!  Our girls thought they were called "Rebel" bars!  We are in the South, after all!

butter, minus 2 TBS
1 cup butter, softened  (minus 2 TBS)
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
3 cups quick rolled oats
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Set aside 2 tablespoons of the butter to use for another purpose, say, on toast or something.  In a large mixing bowl beat the remaining butter with a mixer until fluffy.  Add the brown sugar and baking soda.  Beat until combined, scraping the sides occasionally.    Beat in eggs and 2 teaspoons vanilla until combined.  Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer.  I was able to do the whole amount.
Transfer mixture to a bowl to stir in oats.

 Transfer mixture to a bowl and stir in any remaining flour and the rolled oats.

Mixture should be smooth.

For filling, in a medium saucepan combine the peanut butter, chocolate chips, and sweetened condensed milk.  Cook over low heat until chocolate melts, stirring occasionally with a wire whisk. Be careful not to cook too long or the chocolate will scorch.  Remove from heat.

 Press two-thirds of the rolled oats mixture into the bottom of an non-greased baking dish. 
Spread chocolate filling evenly over oat mixture.  Dot remaining rolled oat mixture over chocolate filling to form a top crust.
Bake about 25 minutes, or until crust is light brown.  The chocolate filling will still look moist.  Cool pan on a wire rack, cut into bars and enjoy!
Cool pan on a wire rack.

Cut into bars.


Sunday, April 6, 2014

Chicken Tortilla Soup

One of my neighborhood friends contributed this recipe to a neighborhood cookbook I put together in 2007. I've changed quite a few things, so I want to have it MY way (always here are the QUEEN'S ways) somewhere. You know, just in case I lose my mind and someone else has to make this soup for me.

3-4 T unsalted butter

1 onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/3 c. flour

3 (14 oz) cans chicken broth

2 c. half-and-half

4 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped (surprise, I use Costco rotisserie chickens)

1 (1.27 oz) fajita seasoning packet

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 can creamed corn

1 c. salsa

2 tsp. cumin

3 tsp. cilantro, chopped

Garnishes (optional, but duh):

Cheddar cheese

Sour cream


Tortilla chips

In a heavy bottomed pot, saute onion and garlic in butter over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until onions are translucent. Add flour and stir until the butter is absorbed, then add one can of chicken broth slowly while stirring. Add the rest of the chicken broth and the half-and-half. Stir and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and add chicken, fajita seasoning, chicken soup, salsa, corn, cumin, and cilantro. Continue to simmer on low heat, stirring occasionally, until flavors have blended and the soup is heated through. About 20 minutes. Garnish in individual bowls and serve.