There's no place like home.

There's no place like home.
Home is where my husband and I reside; wherever that may be.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Cooking with leftovers (or how to make the most of every penny spent on groceries)

     I am not a great cook but I can sure be adventurous at times.  Sometimes my adventures turn out and everyone enjoys where I have taken them.  Sometimes, not so much! There are things that I prepare that have predictable and repeatable results, like my white bread and my Alfredo sauce.  Then there are other tings that are serendipitous at best, like cakes made for special occasions; they often resemble ski slopes for no apparent reason.  Still and all I have managed over the years to sustain five sons, one daughter and one husband (though to look at him you would think I starved the poor man).

     What follows are a few of my tried and true dishes.  I call all of them Kreager comfort food 'cause certain of my children used to count on my serving them with great regularity and would eat with relish on those nights.  Along with the established recipes I include a variation that I plan on trying for one of them.

Cheesy Corn Casserole

This came from a cookbook entitled "Once a Month Cooking."  From the first time that I made it MK has been calling it a favorite.  The changes that I make will be in parentheses since I cannot seem to make anything without making my own changes.

1 1/2 pounds ground beef
2 cans corn, drained (I often use frozen since we do our own. Just make sure that it is thawed before you use it.)
2 eggs slightly beaten
1 1/2 cups cottage cheese (you can use flavored such as with chives if you like)
1 tbl flour (MK is gluten free so I substitute 2tbl cornstarch)
1 8oz can tomato sauce (If you want to change up the taste you can substitute salsa)
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp cinnamon (this I leave out since I am allergic)
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese (or whatever you have)

Brown the beef and drain. (Very important since it will be too soupy if you don't) Meanwhile spread the corn in the bottom of an 11 x 7 baking dish.  Combine the eggs and cottage cheese and spread over the corn. Stir the flour (or cornstarch) into the browned beef and cook 1 minute. Add the tomato sauce,o 1 hour garlic, and cinnamon (if you are using it).  Spread the meat mixture on top of the cheese and egg.  Sprinkle top with grated cheeses.
Bake uncovered at 350 for 30 minutes.

Shepherd's Pie

This is another staple in our house.  Whenever there are leftover mashed potatoes this is what Adam used to ask for (he is a potato man from way back)

1 1/2 pounds ground beef
2 cans corn, green beans, or mixed vegetables.  (you may even use leftover veges from another meal)
4-5 cups mashed potatoes
1 small onion chopped
1 can diced tomatoes
garlic powder
either bread crumbs or if you don't have any, oatmeal will do well also.
1 large egg

In a bowl mix together beef, onion, spices, tomatoes, and egg.  Add enough bread crumbs or oatmeal so that the mixture will form a soft ball in your hand without falling apart.  Spread mixture over the bottom and up the sides of a baking dish that has been oiled.
Spread the vegetables over the beef "crust" then spread the potatoes over the vegetables. Top the whole thing with grated cheese if you like
Bake at 350 for 45 min to 1 hour or until beef is cooked and potatoes are heated through.

i found a recipe for this in the crockpot which I plan on trying. I have several crockpots of varying sizes and have found over the years that they are the best thing that of mother of many can have in her kitchen.  I have been known to do things such as oatmeal and baked potatoes in mine with great success.

Crockpot Shepherd's Pie

4 med. potatoes or 2 lbs potatoes
1/3 c milk
2 tbl butter
1 tbl olive oil
1 med onion diced
2 garlic cloves minced
1 lb ground beef
1 tbl tomato paste
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp dried thyme
1tbl cornstarch
1 c frozen mixed vegetables

Prick potatoes all over with a  fork. Microwave potatoes on high, turning once, until tender, about 15 minutes.  Remove from microwave, let cool slightly, then peel and mash with milk, salt, pepper, and butter.

In a skillet over med heat, warm olive oil, add onion and cook, stirring, until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds longer. Add beef, increase heat to med-high and cook until meat is cooked through and beginning to brown, 8 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, Worcestershire, thyme, and 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper. In a small cup whisk cornstarch and 1 c water.  Add to skillet and cook, stirring, until liquid thickens slightly. Remove from heat and place in slow cooker. Layer vegetables on top of meat, top with potatoes. Cover, turn to low and cook for 3 hours.

Time will tell how this turns out but it shouldn't be too bad. True to my nature I already have a few changes in mind.

One of my all time favorites that is crock pot easy and super delicious is my Southwestern Chicken Stew.  This I could eat every day but I try to restrain myself since my family is not the spicy food kind that I am.

Southwestern Chicken Stew

1 med onion, diced
1 can white beans (great northerns or cannelini)
1 can black beans
1 can corn (or 1 1/2 cup frozen)
1 can diced tomatoes (if you like heat get the kind with the chilies in it)
1 small jar salsa (whatever heat you like)
1/2 green pepper chopped
1 envelop taco seasoning
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (I also use cooked chicken or turkey if that is what I have)
1 c chicken broth (if you want more of a soup consistency)

Combine all ingredients except chicken and broth (if using) in slow cooker. Lay chicken on top and cover. Cook on low 6-8 hours or high 3-4 hours.  Before serving remove and shred chicken, then put back in pot. Add broth now if you wish to use it.  Cook 30 min. longer on low.  Serve over rice, corn chips or tortillas.  We also top with grated cheese and sour cream.

All of this food stuff has made me hungry!!! Fortunately I have a shepherd's pie in the crock pot and cheesy corn casserole on deck for tonight.

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