Saturday, December 27, 2014

Pizza Fondue

When we go to a party or host a crowd at our house, I always search around for a good sounding appetizer to make before often falling back to the tried and true.  At a recent gathering, I was inspired to try a new dip - and it was a major hit. Everyone who tried it raved about it and went back for more.  If you don't have a fondue pot, you can use a small crock pot or even a hot plate under a small casserole dish to keep the dip warm.

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, small dice
  • 1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage (or ground beef, but I have only used sausage)
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 jars of pizza sauce (about 28-30 oz total)
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack (or cheddar)
  • 1 loaf Italian bread, cubed
  1. Heat olive oil in a sauce pan over medium heat.  Add onions and saute until translucent, stirring frequently. 
  2. Add meat to the pan and cook, breaking into small pieces while cooking.  When the meat is almost done, add the garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper.
  3. Once the meat is cooked through, reduce heat to medium low, add the pizza sauce and stir well.  Then add the cheeses and stir until all of the cheese is completely melted. Transfer to fondue pot or desired serving dish.  Serve with cubed bread for dipping.

Difficulty: easy
Time: 20 minutes

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

How To Shop At Aldi

This week a new grocery store will be opening near us-Aldi!  Technically, I already have an Aldi, but the new one allows me to easily stop on either end of my commute.  If you have shopped at Aldi, you know the amazing deals you can find.  But, you need to know how to shop at Aldi as it isn't your traditional grocery store. I learned these things the hard way; I showed up with three kids and no clue.  Learn from my mistakes.

  • Come equipped with a quarter.
    • Aldi doesn't provide free carts; this helps keep down the prices.  You will find carts  outside the main entrance; you put a quarter in the slot to "borrow" the cart. When you bring it back, you take your quarter.  If you notice a person bringing a cart back, Aldi etiquette is to hand them your quarter for the cart. 
  • Bring bags
    • Aldi doesn't give free bags.  Bring your bags; I bring a large 31 thermal bag for my cold selections.  I usually bring a few other reusable bags for the rest of my purchases. If you don't have your own bags, you can pick up an empty cardboard box in the store to use.  You can also buy plastic, paper, or refrigerator bags in the checkout.  You will bag your own groceries after you've paid; the bagging counter is beyond the checkout.
  • Bring the right payment.
    • There are three options to pay at Aldi-cash, debit, or EBT card.  No checks-they slow stuff down; no credit cards due to fees. 
  • Know the hours.
    • All of the Aldi stores local to me have 9-9 hours Monday thru Saturday.  Sunday hours are 9 -7.
  • Expect different brands. 
    • Most of Aldi's merchandise is their own brand, but don't let that make you think it is low quality.  There are organic options as well.  
  • Aldi is no frills.
    • Most of the products will be stacked on shelves or pallets. No big displays get in your way as you shop.  Prices will be printed in large numbers above or below the product.  

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Slow Cooker Lemon Chicken

I had to try this recipe!  My  husband and I were big fans of Everybody Loves Raymond repeats; we always wondered what Debra's famous lemon chicken tasted like.  This dish was delicious; my husband preferred his without the olives.  The first time I made it, I didn't realize I needed boneless thighs.  Much easier with the boneless ones.  Don't skip heating on the skillet-searing it with a little oil will help the meat develop more complex flavors; I know it can be so tempting to just throw it in the crock pot.

  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • sea salt
  • pepper
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 1 cup chicken broth, free-range
  • 2 T lemon juice, squeezed 
  • 1/4 cup flour (trying to get away from using white...but not trashing it)
  • 1/2 t ground cumin
  • 3/4 cup green olives

  1. Sprinkle thighs with sea salt and pepper.
  2. Heat oil in skillet at medium-high heat; cook thighs 2 minutes per side
  3. In slow cooker, pour broth, juice, flour, and cumin. Stir with a whisk.  Add chicken.  Top with lemon slices.  Cook on low for 6 hours.  
  4. Top with olives and cook another 30 minutes.

TIME: Prep 45 minutes; cook time 6 hours
SOURCE: Pinterest 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Un-Stuffed Cabbage Skillet

This is a recipe that was floating around last winter on Facebook.  Remembering how I had a plethora of cabbage last summer and fall from my CSA basket, I kept it tucked away to use when I wanted something other than cabbage and noodles.  I always loved the stuffed cabbage my grandma and mom used to make, but to be honest, I just have never been up to the seemingly labor-intensive job.  This recipe solved my dilemma perfectly.  I have made it many times now and it is always a hit.

  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds lean ground beef or turkey
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small cabbage, chopped
  • 2 cans (14.5 ounces each) diced tomatoes
  • 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  1. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the ground beef and onion and cook, stirring, until ground beef is no longer pink and onion is tender.
  2. Add the garlic and continue cooking for 1 minute.
  3. Add the chopped cabbage, tomatoes, tomato sauce, pepper, and salt. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, or until cabbage is tender. (I serve this over rice.)

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

Difficulty: Easy
Time: 30-40 min
Source: Facebook friends

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Dine-In Day Kids' Dinner Menu

We are excited to pledge to "Dine-In" with the Family & Consumer Science Day on December 3.  Eating together as a family can help increase family bonds and provide more nutritional meals among other positives.

This summer, our family used meal planning for dining-in as a reward for our children; we had no idea how it would work.  The kids loved it!  They planned the entire meal, helped make the shopping list, went shopping, and assisted with food prep. Since school has started, we've gotten away from kid planning because (gulp) it takes a lot of time; however, the benefits outweigh the time commitment so I am recommitting to making this happen more often in our house.

All of the kids took turns picking out items for our dine-in dinner.

Main Dish: Italian Baked Chicken

Fruit: Fresh apples and pears

Drink: Apple Cider

Vegetable: Sugar Snap Peas and Honey Ginger Carrots

Dessert: Abby's Magical Pumpkin Cookies