Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Great Pantry Cleanout-week 7 and a Confession

Well, Christmas is right around the corner, and all the hustle and bustle has included more cooking than I had anticipated. First off, my 3 kids are eager to compete in a cookie bake-off this Friday with their homeschool group. The main ingredient has to be chocolate. (Yum! Can I be a judge??) Then, this week I have volunteered to cook the soups for our church Bible study on Wednesday. While I tried to pick recipes that included on-hand ingredients, I really wanted to make soup that was different from the chili and stews we've been having frequently. I found that I was going to have to make a run for a couple of things (froz chopped spinach and tortellini). Add to this, my over-zealous hubby has been excited about my tamale batch this year. Each year I seem to improve a little, and this year's batch is actually pretty good if I do say so myself! :) As a result, Brent has offered up 'dozens' to a few more people than we actually had tamales for. Ugh, there goes another Saturday... So along with the spinach, tortellini, and milk chocolate in my cart, I had to add a bag of masa and some cuts of pork. One helpful blessing is that I was able to score a good deal on pork country ribs. Since the meat for the tamales is boiled, shredded, and mixed with chicken, there's no reason I have to use a pork roast. However, that savings was negated by one of my most expensive grocery store impulse buys ever!

It turns out the pork ribs were right next to the display of beef prime-rib roasts that were on sale. Maybe I'm lacking iron or something, but suddenly a big hunk of medium-rare meat with au jus on the side just sounded irresistible. Yes, I'm sad to admit, I caved. It was not a centsible decision and was definitely not on my devised shopping list, but I did it. At least I got a small one, and I paid cash for it. That makes it an acceptable splurge, even though a splurge it most definitely was! Also, I knew my husband would not object (he's from Texas after all!), and sure enough he was more than happy to throw that in our freezer :)

So, with all that off my chest, I now feel ready to share my week's menu and recipes. Whew! Heavy stuff in this blog! As you get ready to enjoy the last weekend of advent, I pray you are able to slow down, enjoy the season, and have cozy blessings.

Hillary at Home
Sunday-Quesadillas and Chicken Noodle Soup (Hubby was volunteering at a banquet, so the kids and I had an easy night's supper :)
Monday (soup or salad night)-Hamburger Soup and Cheesy Garlic Bread
Tuesday (Breakfast)-Scrambled Eggs, Bacon, Home-canned pears
Wednesday (Dinner at Church night)-Chicken Tortellini Soup, Turkey and Dumplings
Thursday (Pasta night)-Parmesan Ranch Chicken, Salad, butter noodles
Friday (Fun Food)-Hamburger Tater Tot Casserole (Substituting froz shredded hashbrowns)
Saturday-Salmon Patties, Pesto Spaghetti, Salad

Hamburger Soup
1 lb ground meat
1 c. diced onion
1 c. diced celery
1 c. carrot coins
1 clove garlic minced or pressed
4 c. beef broth
1 c. diced potatoes
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp pepper
1 bay leaf
16 oz crushed tomatoes

In another pot boil water for 1 cup of pasta of choice. Prepare as directed on package. Strain and set aside.

In large dutch oven or stock pot, brown meat and drain. Stir in onion, celery, carrots, garlic, broth, and spices. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and their juice. Replace lid and simmer 10 more minutes. Stir in cooked pasta and heat until warmed through.

Cheesy Garlic Bread

Lay pieces of preferred bread out on a baking pan. Slather with melted butter. Sprinkle with garlic powder and italian seasoning. Top with shredded mozzarella and broil for 1-2 minutes (watch it!).
Note: You don't have to use french bread for this. I've used hoagie rolls, stray hamburger buns, and whole wheat texas toast; pretty much whatever I had on hand.

Chicken Tortellini Soup

8 c. chicken broth or turkey broth (or equivalent water and bouillon)
1 16 oz can crushed or diced tomatoes
1 pkg frozen spinach, thawed and drained well
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2-3 cups cooked, cubed chicken
1/4 c. parmesan cheese shredded, plus more for topping
1 pkg refrigerated tortellini (or use dried and boil it up in water in another pot before adding to soup)

In a dutch oven or large stock pot, combine all ingredients but the tortellini. Cook until heated through. Add noodles and cook 5 minutes or until Tortellini is done. Serve immediately and top with extra cheese.

Turkey and Dumplings-see previous post here!

Parmesan Ranch Chicken (got this awhile back from Econobusters.com, but could not find the specific link)

8 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup of ranch dressing
1 cup of parmesan cheese
1 cup of shredded provolone cheese (optional-I found this to be too rich for my family)
1 teaspoon of minced garlic
Panko bread crumbs
salt and pepper to taste

Cook chicken until done (grill, bake, fry in olive oil). Mix together ranch, parmesean cheese, garlic, and 1/4 cup of provolone cheese (if using), and then set this mixture aside. Also at this time toast your bread crumbs and then set them aside.

After the chicken is done cooking, remove it from the oven and turn your broiler on. Take your creamy cheese mixture and put it on each piece of chicken. Put it on as thick as you like. Top with remaining provolone and the toasted bread crumbs. Place chicken under the broiler until the cheese is melted and browned a little on top.

Hamburger Tater Tot Casserole

1 large can cream of mushroom soup (or double batch of homemade)
2 c shredded cheddar
2 lbs grd beef or turkey
2 cans green beans
1 2lb bag tater tots (I'm going to try substituting a thick layer of frozen shredded hashbrowns)

Brown meat and drain.
Mix cheese, soup, and green beans together
Microwave 2 minutes. Mix with meat.
Pour into greased 9x13 pan and top with tater tots.
Bake at 400 for 15-18 minutes (until tater tots are cooked through and browned)

Salmon Patties-See previous post here! Scroll way down...

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