Archive for the ‘Favorite Recipes’ category

Barbara’s Calorie-Dense Trail Mix

February 10, 2011

I put together this calorie-dense trail mix recipe to give me a tasty snack that would be healthier than a pack of swiss cake rolls.  I mix it up in a gallon storage bag and scoop it out about 3/4 of a cup at a time and eat it with a big glass of milk.

Peanuts (salted):  3 cups

Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips: 1 cup

Peanut Butter Chips:  1 cup

Raisins and/or Craisins:  1 cup total

Sunflower Seed Kernels:  1/4 cup

Cheesy Tomato Macaroni

April 27, 2010

I can’t believe I haven’t posted this before.  This is one of my favorite recipes.  I received it from a woman named Clementine in my former homeschooling group.  The most important thing is that it actually tastes better reheated than it does freshly cooked, which makes it ideal for freezing for later.


2 cups uncooked macaroni

1 small onion, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, finely diced

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 to 2 cups cooked and shredded chicken

1 15-oz can tomato sauce -or- 2 8-oz cans

1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 to 1 cup grated or shredded mild cheddar cheese

  1. Boil macaroni until al dente; strain and set aside.
  2. In a pot large enough to hold the macaroni, saute the onion and garlic in olive oil until softened.
  3. Stir in the cooked chicken, Parmesan cheese, and tomato sauce.
  4. Add cooked pasta and cheddar cheese.
  5. Stir to mix all ingredients.
  6. Salt and pepper to taste.


  1. If you don’t like chunks of onion (like me and mine), you can substitute a 1/2 Tbsp of onion powder and add it during step 3.
  2. You can substitute sauteed ground beef, turkey, pork or Italian sausage for the chicken.
  3. You can even exclude meat all together (which I do for my semi-vegetarian daughter).
  4. You can also use mozzarella cheese instead of cheddar or do a combination of the two.

* I usually start cooking the “sauce” during the last few minutes that the macaroni is boiling, so really the recipe only takes as long as it takes to boil the pasta.

Tiffany’s Zucchini Bread

January 22, 2009

A long time ago I worked with Tiffany, who introduced me to zucchini bread.  I loved her bread so much that she gave me the recipe to me when I moved away.  This has become one of my favorite recipes, especially because it is open to different variations.

This is the original recipe Tiffany game me.  I usually omit the raisins and nuts.  This usually fills up two round cake pans or makes 18 muffins.  I could probably stretch the batter to make 24 muffins if I had another six-muffin pan.

3 large eggs

2 c. sugar

1 c. oil

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

½ c. raisins (optional)

2 tsp. cinnamon

2 c. shredded zucchini

1 tsp. vanilla

½ c. chopped nuts (optional)

3 cups plain flour

  1. Combine all ingredients, stirring in flour 1 cup at a time.
  2. Pour into greased and floured pan.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

The first variation I tried was Pumpkin Bread.  Basically, I substitute one can of pumpkin for the zucchini.  And instead of 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, I add:

  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ginger
  • ¼ tsp cloves

I’ve also substituted grated apple or carrot for the zucchini.  The bread is so good that I suspect that you could get away without adding any fruit or vegetable to it.  This has made me aware of just how much sugar goes into this recipe, so I’m starting to experiment with reducing the amount of sugar.  I just made it with 1 3/4 cup of sugar instead of 2 cups and couldn’t tell a difference, so next time I might try only using 1 1/2 cups of sugar.

I tried a few other healthy changes as well.  For the past few batches I’ve used a mix of white flour, wheat flour, and wheat germ as my flour (ratio of 5/2/1).  With this latest batch I also substituted a 4 oz. cup of natural applesauce for half of the cup of oil.  (The natural sugar of the applesauce may have offset the reduction of white sugar.)

So, while one muffin may have only slightly fewer grams of sugar than a pack of Swiss cake rolls, it should have a little more nutrition.  And did I mention that it is delicious??

Vegetable Soup

December 14, 2008

I’ve been thinking about it for a few weeks, but tonight I dusted off my recipe for vegetable soup.  I think I got the basic recipe off of, but I tweeked it to fit my peculiar likes and dislikes.  For instance, I don’t like onions but I like the flavor they lend, so I use onion powder instead.  I added a little sugar to make it taste a little more similar to Campbell’s Vegetarian Vegetable.  I also throw in some macaroni to make it a little more hardy.

I lived off of this stuff when I was pregnant with my last child.  (I always crave tomato stuff when I’m pregnant, so the V-8 juice in the recipe hit the spot.)  And the tad of black pepper adds a little kick without giving me indigestion.  It’s also a very quick and easy recipe for the cooking-impaired like me.  I usually cook up a big pot, refrigerate it, and heat it up a bowl at a time through the week.

So, may I present my recipe for Vegetable Soup.

1 large potato, peeled and diced

1 ½ c. water

½ c. frozen carrots

½ Tbsp onion powder

¼ tsp pepper

1 tsp salt

½ tsp sugar

1 c. frozen green beans

2 c. V-8 juice

½ c. frozen peas

1 8.5 oz can of corn (juice in)

½ tsp Italian seasoning

¼ tsp garlic powder

2 handfuls of macaroni

1 bay leaf

  1. Put first three ingredients in pot and turn on stove to medium heat.
  2. Add in other ingredients ending with macaroni and bay leaf.
  3. Cover and simmer on low ten to fifteen minutes or until macaroni is tender.
  4. Discard bay leaf before serving.

Mexican Dinner

November 10, 2008

The other day it was time for a little batch cooking. I don’t do that much, but one thing I batch cook is hamburger. We don’t eat a lot of it at home. My oldest never thinks that home-made hamburgers are as good as fast food, and my middle daughter doesn’t like hamburger at all. So, for what few things I use hamburger in I find it much easier to brown a whole two-pound package seasoned with onion and garlic powders. Then I freeze it by the cup.

One cup of hamburger is perfect when I’m rushed or lazy for whipping up some quesadillas and tacos. This recipe is quick and easy to fix. Besides the defrosted hamburger, I take a bag or half a bag of shredded cheddar and sprinkle in some chili, onion, and garlic powders. Then I brush some olive oil on one side of two flour tortillas per quesadilla.  I lay one tortilla oil-side down on a griddle, sprinkle a handful of cheese, and place another tortilla oil-side up on top of the cheese. Then I brown it lightly on each side making a tasty cheese quesadilla for DD#2. DD#1 eats hers with a little defrosted hamburger sprinkled with the cheese. I use a pizza cutter to slice the quesadillas.

I tend to prefer tacos to quesadillas, so I cut a pita in half with the pizza cutter. Then I fill each half with cheese, hamburger, and more cheese. Next I nuke them for about 45 seconds in the microwave. As a finishing touch, I add some salsa. I can often prep this while one of the quesadillas is cooking on the griddle. Sometimes I just throw some hamburger and cheese in a bowl. I microwave it for thirty seconds, mix in some salsa, and eat it with tortilla chips.

For the most part, I am trying to break away from Hamburger/Tuna Helper.  However, I’ve found that a little defrosted hamburger works really well for that as well.  Like I said, DD#2 doesn’t like hamburger, so I make the Helper with out the meat.  (Worked for Randy Quaid in Lampoon’s Vacation.)  Then after I spoon her a big plate-full I mix in some warmed up hamburger for me and my oldest.  This is much easier then having to dig through cheesy noodles picking out little pieces of meat.

Surviving off of Macaroni Salad

August 30, 2008

Well, the babymoon is over.  I remembered how relatively easy they are when they are newborn and all they do is eat, sleep, and dirty diapers.  Then they hit three months and then they are awake more of the time with nothing to do.  That’s when they really start throwing a fit to be held ALL of the time.  And that’s where we are with DD#3.

I have two aces in the whole this time.  First of all is my wonderful Maya Wrap sling.  It is no longer kept in the car most of the time.  While I can’t do everything while wearing the baby, I can do more than I could if I was just trying to hold her.  I can’t afford to buy one of the slings made for back-carrying (and I don’t know if I have the guts to try it), but I bet it is more convenient around the house than front-carrying.  My second ace in the hole is that the baby has two wonderfully entertaining older sisters that she loves to watch sing, dance, argue, and everything else.

However, I still finding myself very frazzled and hungry.  The secret to my slimness–I am too busy and too stressed to eat.  I actually forget to eat.  People think I’m crazy when I say that.  I start out meaning to eat and then I remember that the clothes need to be put in the dryer, which means a new load needs to be put in the washer, and the finished load needs to be folded.  So I plan to eat when that is done.  But then one of the kids wants something to eat, so I plan to eat after I fix them something.  Then the baby starts crying because she’s bored or needs a diaper change.  And on and on and on….Suddenly I’ve been up six hours and all I’ve had is a cup of coffee.  (In case you are wondering, I often find the time to blog while the baby is nursing, so put that visual in your mind.)

It’s pretty hard (and sometimes dangerous) to attempt cooking myself something while holding the baby.  So the temptation in the past has been to grab a pack of Swiss Cake Rolls or two, or three, and scarf them down with a glass of milk.  Or I start to feel guilty that I’m tempted to go for the Swiss Cake Rolls when I should be eating something healthier for me and my baby, and I don’t end up eating anything at all.  Honestly, I probably only get around 1500 calories a day.

I’ve been trying to combat this problem in a few ways.  First of all, I’ve been doing some long overdue mainstreaming of lunch.  I’ve been basically choosing what the kids will eat each day for lunch (instead of two separate haggle sessions) and trying to make enough for all of us.  Secondly, I’ve been reaching for a banana more often.  My husband considers bananas to be diet food, but I figure a few healthy calories is better than no calories at all.  Third, I’ve been trying to find recipes that can be made up in a large batch and eaten a little at a time easily.

So, this week I’ve been surviving off of macaroni salad.  I found this recipe off of the Hillybilly Housewife’s website.  I substituted chopped broccoli and carrots for the celery and peppers and Miracle Whip light for mayo.  I also used a quarter table spoon of onion powder instead of minced onion.  It’s quick and easy to make then I stick it in the fridge and I graze on it whenever I get a few minutes.  I just pop the top of my plastic container and grab a fork.  Voila!  Much healthier than Swiss Cake Rolls and almost as tasty, in a different sort of way.  In fact, I’m munching on some right now while I feed the baby and write this blog.

Intro. to Favorite Recipes and Rice Pilaf

April 18, 2008

I’ve been thinking for awhile of sharing some of my favorite recipes, because we’re always looking for something new and different to cook. Let me start by saying that I don’t really enjoy cooking, probably because I am not very good at it. Other than how to brew a pot of sweet tea, my mother never taught me how to cook, God bless her. Since my mother worked 40 hours a week with a long commute each way and because my dad didn’t like very many “from scratch” foods, we ate a lot of convenience items and canned vegetables growing up. And meat. And because my mother had to take on large chunks of household duties at a very young age, including cooking family meals, she really didn’t give my sister or me any chores beyond setting the table and cleaning our rooms every few months.

Up until a few years ago my cooking repertoire consisted of Hamburger or Tuna Helper, Betty Crocker Au Gratin Potatoes (with frozen veggies thrown in), Rice-a-Roni, and the like. I started branching out into things like pumpkin and zucchini breads from scratch at first. Then I tried a few soup recipes that didn’t seem too complicated. I am slowly getting better. In the past year, though, I have really been trying to cook more from scratch for economic and health reasons. Convenience foods, while convenient, often contain lots of preservatives, chemicals, and dyes and can be rather expensive.

So any recipes that I post will not be that difficult or exotic. I have a spice rack (thank you, Mom) and a cabinet of extra spices which are invaluable, but otherwise I just have a few pots and a few skillets. I very rarely use organic, because I can’t afford to. I also am cooking for two little children, so I try to avoid possible choking hazards or foods that require a lot of work to serve on their plates (i.e. cutting). So…

Savory Pilaf

2 Tbsp butter or olive oil

1 small onion

1 c. uncooked regular long grain rice

2 c. chicken broth

1/2 tsp salt


1. Melt butter or oil over medium heat; cook onion until tender.

2. Stir in rice. Cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

3. Add broth and salt.

4. Heat to boiling, stirring once or twice; reduce heat to low.

5. Cover and simmer 16 minutes until all liquid is absorbed (do not lift cover or stir).

6. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes.

Here are my slight variations. For one thing, I don’t do onions so I cook the rice in olive oil with 1/2 Tbsp. of onion powder. After stirring in the broth and salt I had thin slices of carrots, frozen peas, and sometimes mushroom pieces. I also do not use can broth because it tastes too tinny to me; I really like Swanson’s Natural Goodness broth in a box. It is a little more expensive than can or cube broth, but it doesn’t have MSG which I am trying to cut out of our diets. Plus, I can usually use one box for two weeks (unless I make some homemade noodle soup for lunch).

This recipe is a big hit with my kids and I can usually get two meals out of it. Fresh out of the pot/skillet it is a pilaf, but when you reheat it in the microwave it tastes like friend rice. My older daughter says that it tastes like Panda Express. I usually serve it as a side with chicken of some sort, but on bad nights it is the whole meal.

Edit: This recipe came from my Betty Crocker’s New Cookbook. I meant to attribute it to its source, but must have forgotten or been distracted.