Goulash

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Look at this adorable card she made for Jeremiah’s birthday. He LOVES Minions and Stuart is his favorite.

My mother-in-law is super creative. She quilts and scrapbooks. Never a holiday goes by that we don’t receive a handmade card. So, I knew Lynn could take an item I found at a craft show and help me replicate it for our wedding favor.

Starbucks

We did our first look just outside the Starbucks in the Kansas City Overland Park Marriott. It was the venue of our wedding. Photo by: Joseph Sands Photography

Jeremiah and I went on our second date to Starbucks. It was after dinner at Bonefish Grill. We often debate if our first kiss was in the parking lot of the restaurant or at Starbucks. But we know we sat on the patio and talked for hours. Since we both love coffee, we go to Starbucks a lot for dates, meetings, or working on projects. Sometimes, it’s even motivation to workout. We also had three Keurig makers at one time. On any given day, we probably have between 100-150 K-cups in our apartment. What can I say, we like variety? That said, we do have our favorite flavors of coffee.Starbucks2

Lynn examined the sample I gave her and listened for my vision of having “Love is Brewing” and “Mr. & Mrs.” on each of our favorite kinds of coffee. Lynn searched the internet for a template and a video tutorial. Then, she made a template. Her scrapbooking friends even sent her some tools to add a little extra to the design. The next step was trips to Jo-Ann’s and Michaels. (Lynn is also price conscious so she helped me find some coupons to save us some money on the purple paper.) She scored all the paper so all we had to do was assemble them. It sounds simple but we spent almost an entire day making 60 of these K-cups. My sister and her friend Susan also joined us late in the day to finish the project.

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The “Mr.” was Donut Shop Regular. The “Mrs.” was Gloria Jean’s Hazelnut. We also made some without coffee for people like my mom who have a Keurig but don’t drink coffee.

 

This adorable little piece cost us about $1 each to make.

Today’s recipe comes from Lynn. Both our mothers forgot to bring recipe cards to the wedding but we knew what recipes we wanted them to share. Jeremiah was like, “I love my mom’s goulash.” I was like “I hate goulash.” He was like, “You have to try my mom’s recipe, it’s soooo good.” When I think of goulash, I think macaroni noodles with barely any meat and tomato sauce scooped with an ice cream scoop onto a lunch tray. Thank you, school lunch ladies, for making it so bland and gross looking. But I have to admit, Lynn’s recipe is really good. It has cheese. That’s what was missing in the version I had eaten in elementary school.

We don’t know for sure if the recipe is from his Oma (Grandma Martin) but we are guessing that his Oma probably made some sort of goulash as Lynn was growing up. Lynn’s parents meet in Germany as her father was stationed there in the military. In fact, I think Lynn didn’t move to the states until she was six years old. Goulash is typically a Hungarian dish but there are German versions too.

I’m really proud of Jeremiah because he made this dish all by himself. I was running late getting home from work so he started cooking without me. Normally we tag team cooking. I will tell you though to pay attention to the words “cooked macaroni”. Jeremiah didn’t know pasta doubles in size. So, needless to say, we then had some extra noodles cooked for another dish. He thought it was a little cheesier than his mom makes it but I thought it was just perfect.

Hamburger Goulash by Lynn Slater
IMG_01071 lb. ground beef
½ c. chopped onions
½ tsp. salt
3 c. cooked elbow macaroni
1 can (16 oz.) diced tomatoes
1 T. chili powder
½ tsp. pepper
2 c. Velveeta cheese cubed

Brown beef and chopped onion. Add spices and tomatoes. Add cooked macaroni and cheese. Cook until cheese melts.

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Bacon Ranch Chicken Pasta

A few ago weeks, I was going through my Pinterest account looking for some new recipes. This is a new one we tried and really liked. I hope you like it took.

Smothered Bacon Ranch Chicken Penne Pasta from Laugh with Us Blog
img_1185One package of bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 lb. chicken breast
2 garlic cloves
1 can cream of chicken soup
8 oz. penne pasta, cooked and drained
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 package ranch seasoning mix
1 c. sour cream
1/2 c. water

In a large bowl, mix garlic, ranch seasoning, cream of chicken, sour cream, pepper, and water. Place chicken in Crockpot and cover in sauce. Cook for 6 hours on low or 4 hours on high. About 30 minutes before it’s done, add cooked pasta and bacon.

Notes:

  • I used reduced sodium cream of chicken soup and light sour cream. 
  • I substituted a spiral pasta. 
  • Instead of mixing in the bacon, I cooked half a package and just sprinkled on top with parsley.

 

Let the SNAP Challenge Begin

Since I am going to be out of town next week, my boyfriend and I started the Harvesters SNAP Challenge on Monday. I have to say, I hope the first day was the hardest.

6:10 AM – I’m up early on my day off. I’m making Jeremiah’s coffee, breakfast, and packing lunch. This gives him a few extra minutes to get ready. I run his K-cup through the Keurig twice – once at 6 oz. and once at 10 oz. This gives him two full cups, all be it watered down, coffee.

6:50 AM – Breakfast is over. I’m disappointed that the ingredients to make 12-16  inch pancakes has resulted in 11 – three inch pancakes. We ate six of them. I’m wondering if this will keep us full until lunch. We normally eat an English muffin for breakfast with 8 grams of fiber. I usually combine mine with a bowl of cereal or an egg.

7:47 AM – As I’m leaving the post office, all I can think about is food. I’m thinking about that little girl in the documentary “A Plate at the Table” who said she couldn’t concentrate  in class because all she could think of when she looked at her teacher’s head was a giant hamburger. I’m nervous about my day off being in an apartment full of food. I normally cook a lot of recipes on my day off. Will being surrounded by food all day entice me?

8:30 AM – Doing laundry. This should help keep me busy.

8:52 AM – I walked into the club house at my apartment complex to put money on my laundry card. I am immediately tempted by a bowl of candy. I know I can’t take any because it isn’t in my budget. Not everyone on SNAP has a bowl of free candy accessible to them.

9:20 AM –  I found a coupon for a free Sobe flavored water at HyVee. I’m so excited because Jeremiah loves these and they are off limit this week. Even buying them at Sam’s Club for about $.90 each we still can’t afford them in our budget. I told Jeremiah I needed a box of saltine crackers ($1.34 for 154 crackers) to get me through hunger pains. He didn’t pick his guilty pleasure item yet.

9:38 AM – This may be the cleanest my kitchen has ever been. All food and cookbooks have been put away. (This includes the three boxes of Thin Mint cookies is just got from a Girl Scout last week). Out of site, out of mind.

M&M9:45 AM – I almost reach for a few M&Ms as I walk into my apartment from doing laundry. I immediately cover the bowl with Saran wrap. (These are my real guilt pleasure.)

10:10 AM – Those noises my stomach has been making all morning are starting to feel like real hunger. I’m wondering if I can get four pancakes per serving out the mix for the next four days.

10:15 AM – I just took out recycling. Suddenly, those empty food containers are very noticeable. As soon as I come back in, I notice this week’s ads starring at me.

10:38 AM – Downing a glass of water. Will this help fill me up?

10:40 AM – I’m finding myself contemplating pulling out my yoga mat. It will be good for me. Perhaps I can meditate and “drop the story line”. Or maybe I should pray to God. Perhaps he can help me with these hungry feelings. But wait, what if he wants me to feel hungry? Maybe I need to feel this to better explain food insecurity to others. Jeremiah and I are like so many of the people we serve at Harvesters – hard working. According to the last hunger study, 49% of people served by Harvesters have at least one person in their household working. Additionally nearly 50% of the people who receive food are children, seniors, or disabled.

10:55 AM – I’m taking myself back to my days as a volunteer with an addictions group at the Jackson County Jail. We all have addictions and mine is food. I remember an Addiction Therapist Valencia saying when you have a craving it takes only about 45 seconds to figure out how you are going to feed that craving. But if you can distract your mind in that time by doing something, you can get your mind off it. I find myself now watching the dryer count down from five minutes singing the words to “Pump up the Jam” while marching in place. Seriously, I might be losing my mind!

11 AM – I’m debating about turning on the TV. I don’t have DVR which means I’ll either have to watch TV or put in a DVD. Rachel Ray is out today. I can’t watch a food show when I’m hungry and can’t eat. I decided to watch How I Met Your Mother. Do you know how many commercials there are during this show for Olive Garden, Chili’s and Red Robin? I’ve never been so excited to see a commercial for Dance Moms or Little Women: LA in all my life. I decided to mute the commercial breaks.

11:23 AM – I find myself laughing. It takes my mind off food for a few minutes.

11:30 AM – It’s Jeremiah’s lunch time. Normally, he would be eating out with his coworker Dan. They eat out every Monday and Friday. I’ve thought about texting him a million times this morning. I don’t want to bring up how much I’ve been thinking about food though if he isn’t.

11:37 AM – Laundry is done. Debating about going to the gym since I’m worried about working off too many calories.

11:42 AM – Drink my third glass of water. It’s free and will hopefully fill me up.

11:55 AM – I break down and eat five crackers and drink a fourth glass of water.

Noon – While driving to the gym, I notice every fast food restaurant on my block. I have to keep focused looking straight ahead so I don’t think about it. My gym shares a parking lot with Margarita’s which isn’t helping. It’s sunny but cold outside so I try to focus on this instead. Maybe I’ll drive home through a residential neighborhood.

12:20 PM – I stop feeling sorry for myself by reading the closed captioning on the news. It’s so depressing watching stories about how people in Tennessee are without power from an ice storm and terrorist are plotting attacks on malls.

12:50 PM – Ran to HyVee to get another can of chickpeas. Jeremiah was right, the hummus recipe wasn’t enough for 10 servings. I pretend I have on the goggles on that Ted wears on How I Met Your Mother so we don’t see the score of the Super Bowl game before they watch it on DVR. I’m laser focused on the aisle with the canned veggies.

1:15 PM – Lunch is ready. I’m now regretting my decision to buy no salt added garbanzo beans or to not make more chips. I’m also wishing we had sampled the food we were cooking on Sunday night.

5:15 PM – The afternoon has gone smoother. I took a shower, ran to Target, balanced my checkbook, paid bills, and worked on my blog. Jeremiah has just called to let me know he is leaving work a little late. That’s good because I haven’t left for his place yet.

pasta5:55 PM – Jeremiah and I start cooking dinner. Jeremiah focuses on grilling the chicken while I get the noodles boiling for Chicken Penne Pasta with Salsa con Queso. This wasn’t on our first menu. The recipe makes a lot, doesn’t contain very many ingredients, and fills us up. Thanks to whole wheat pasta being on sale for $.88, we can afford to make this recipe. Our cost is $6.19 but it makes six servings. That’s $1.03 per serving, very friendly on our $4.50 per day budget. I also made Jiffy corn bread for our dinner on Tuesday and Thursday. We had enough we decided to have a slice for dinner Monday through Thursday.

7:34 PM – After dishes, we finished off the night with a cookie (and a cup of coffee for Jeremiah).

I asked Jeremiah how his day went. He said the pancakes wore off around 10:30 AM. He agreed that the hummus needed some seasoning. He was also a little surprised at how little tuna was in his sandwich. He was wishing we had budgeted more for tuna. I promised him that I would double check our budget to see if he could have some of the leftover servings from dinner for lunch.

Chicken Strogenoff

A great crockpot recipe for a day you don’t really feel like cooking.

Chicken StrogenoffChicken Strogenoff from Pinterest
4 frozen chicken breast
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
1 brick of cream cheese
3/4 c. sour cream
8 oz. cooked pasta

Place chicken in crockpot. Cover with soup and cubed cream cheese. Cook on low for 8 hours. Stir 2-3 times throughout the day. About twenty minutes before it is finished, add sour cream. On the stove, cook pasta and drain. Add pasta to crockpot and serve.

Notes:

  • I used reduced fat cream of mushroom soup and cream cheese.
  • I used fat free sour cream.
  • The orginal recipe called for egg noodles. I used penne pasta.

Turkey Club Casserole

Another great leftover turkey recipe. It’s like a turkey blt with pasta. I really liked the diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano seasoning.

Turkey BLT CasseroleTurkey Club Casserole from Pinterest
1 box whole wheat pasta ( I used penne)
1 (7 oz.) can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano seasoning
1 c. diced turkey (or chicken if you don’t have turkey)
1/2 c. diced bacon
4 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
2 cans cheddar cheese
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
salt and pepper

Cook pasta and drain. Add all other ingredients and stir. Place in a 13 x 9 baking dish and cook for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

Turkey Leftovers

Sure, who doesn’t love a traditional turkey dinner on Thanksgiving? In my family, that means both turkey and ham. My nephew prefers ham and my grandfather won’t eat bird meat. With six people eating this feast, it leaves a lot of leftovers. My question after eatting leftover for a day or two is: what else can I make with? Below is a recipe from the December2013/January 2014 issue of Taste of Home’s Simple and Delicious that my family will be trying.

Turkey cordon bleu

Photo from Taste of Home website

Turkey Cordon Bleu Casserole by Kristine Blauert
2 c. uncooked elbow macaroni
2 cans cream of chicken soup
3/4 c. milk
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. prepared mustard
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. sage
2 c. cubed cooked turkey
2 c. cubed fully cooked ham
2 c. shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/4 c. crushed butter flavored crackers (I’m using Ritz – they are Brock’s fav)

Cook macaroni (or pasta of your choice) according to the package directions. Meanwhile, mix soup, milk, Parmesan cheese, mustard, and seasonsing together. Add meats and mozerella cheese. Drain pasta and add soup mixture. Pour into a 13 x 9 pan and top with crackers. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

Notes:

  • You can cover and freeze this casserole. Thaw in the fridge overnight and bake as directed.

Creamy Spaghetti Sauce

I think recipe came from an issue of Kraft Foods. It incorporates cream cheese into the sauce. It’s a nice quick dinner recipe.

Spaghetti a la PhillySpaghetti a la Philly
1/2 lb. spaghetti, uncooked

1 lb. extra-lean ground beef
1 jar (24 oz.) spaghetti sauce
4 oz. cream cheese
2 tsp. grated Parmesan cheese

Cook spaghetti according to package. Meanwhile, brown hamburger. Add sauce and cream cheese. Cook on low for 3-5 minutes until sauce is heated. Add drained spaghetti to sauce. Top with Parmesan cheese and serve. Makes four servings.

Notes:

  • I used 1/3 less fat cream cheese. Fat free would probably work OK as well in this recipe.
  • I made my sauce using a can of tomatoes and Wildtree seasoning. I still added the meat and cream cheese. It was a little healthier but took longer to taste the favors. I might add some fresh basil, spinich, or zucchini the next time I make it.

Top 10

I was thinking about a recipe the other day that was one of my best. I thought I would share with all of you – the best of the best. Below are my top 10 in no particular order.

spaghetti1. Grandma Reith’s Spaghetti Sauce – I lied, this is probably my favorite recipe.
2. Mom’s Cheesy Hash Brown Potatoes – This is the best cheesy potato recipe and I’ve sampled quiet a few.
3. Concord Lutheran Church Cookbook Meatballs – These go great with the potato recipe.
4. Chicken Penne Pasta with Salsa Con Queso – This recipe has a nice little kick.
5. Chocolate Crinkles – My mother made these when I was a kid but I love my recipe even more. These are probably my signature item.
6. Grilled Shrimp & Basil Orzo Pasta – Fresh basil and feta cheese nicely accent this dish.
7. Canyon Chicken – Chicken, ranch, cheese, and bacon. You can’t go wrong this recipe.
8. Lasagna Twist Around – Reminds me of my Grandma Reith Spaghetti Sauce.
9. Aunt Linda’s Slushies – I’ve made and drank a number of drinks over the years. This is my absolute favorite.
10. Cheesy Potato Soup – It’s as close as you can get to the O’Charley’s soup. I miss that restaurant so much.

Spring Salad

This recipe comes from the Summer 2008 issue of Cooking for Two. Taste of Home no longer makes this magazine but I always loved that I didn’t have to halve recipes.

This recipe makes me think of a little bed and breakfast in Columbus, NE called Traditions. It’s an older home with colonial decor, glass dishes, and a limited menu featuring things like Homemade Chicken Salad. It’s the type of place my sister Stephanie and I go when my nephew Brock isn’t with us.

It’s a great dish for workday lunch or a night you don’t want to turn on the stove.

Poppy Seed Chicken Salad by Renee Glowe

2/3 c. uncooked spiral pasta
1/2 c. cubed cooked chicken breast
1/4 c. slivered almonds, toasted
3 T. chopped onion
2 T. dried cranberries
2 T. chopped celery
1/4 c. poppy seed salad dressing (fat-free preferred)

Cook pasta according to package directions. In the meantime, grill chicken. When pasta and chicken are done, mix with all remaining ingredients. Chill until serving. Makes two servings.

Nutritional facts: 315 calories, 8 g. fat, 1 g. saturated fat, 32 mg cholesterol, 110 mg sodium, 42 g. carbs, 3 g. fiber, 18 g. protein

Recipe modifications:

  • I usually make it without nuts. I’ve also made it without onion.
  • If you omit the noodles and increase the other ingredients accept the dressing, you can serve this in a tortilla with fresh romaine lettuce.

Salsa con Queso

One of the things my ex-boyfriend P and I had in common was a love of food. Most nights, we had some sort of marinated grilled meat for dinner. On nights I actually left work close to on-time, we usually would cook dinner tonight. The goal was to be done with our dish in time to watch Family Feud together, probably the one show we could agree on watching together. P was always willing to try new dishes. P’s parents were both Honduran but he didn’t like things that were too spicy. I found this recipe in one of Simple and Delicious cookbooks while we were dating. I thought this “kid-friendly” version was the perfect level of kick. This was probably our favorite new dish we ever made together – and something we cooked more than once. P got such a kick out of the name “salsa con queso” because it translates literally to cheese salsa.

When my dad’s wife was battling cancer, Steph and I cooked them lunch the day of my cousin’s graduation. We served this dish with a side salad and the round crescent rolls (in another blog post). Sandy was a tremendous cook; both she and my dad loved this dish. I hope you find it tasty too.

Chicken Penne with Salsa con Queso

1 pkg. Penne Paste (16 oz.)
2 c. cooked cubed Chicken
1 jar Salsa con Queso
1/2 c. Milk

Grill chicken and cube it. Cook pasta. Add chicken, queso, and milk to pasta. Cook until hot.

Recipe Modifications:

  • You can jazz up this recipe up by topping it with black beans, fresh tomatoes, and/or sour cream.
  • I like using the pasta above because it has 5 grams of fiber per serving.