A day in the life of a cook in her kitchen

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Sometimes the simplest dinners are the best dinners. I made this macaroni and cheese dish last week. It was a huge hit with all of us…SCORE!! It is perfect for our new Fall daylight savings. It comes together very quickly. … Continue reading

Opening Day Chili Dogs


chili-cheese-dog

It’s Opening Day here in Detroit!!  GO TIGERS!!

Growing up in NE Ohio, I was raised an Indians fan.  I used to love going to Muncipal Stadium with my Daddy.  No matter where we were or what we where doing my Dad would say’ “Listen, we can stay here or we can go watch the Indians play.”  I always chose baseball.  I remember being about 12 or 13 years old and our family was spending the day at Geauga Amusement Park. It was my dad’s annual company party.  We got up at the crack of dawn loaded up the stationwagon with baskets of food for the Potluck lunch and we were off.   Mid-day we we all gathered in the picnic area to have lunch and my dad said, ” Listen we can stay here until 7:00 this evening or we can get our stuff and go watch the Indians play.”  It was a great day for baseball!  Like I said, I always chose baseball.  Mark and I have carried that tration on with our children. They always choose baseball too!

Opening day is a day of hot dogs, peanuts and a soda. No recipe needed for that, but if you want to make a great chili dog today look no further. 

I hope you enjoy your day no matter what is going on Choose baseball.

GO TIGERS!!

Enjoy and Happy cooking,

Vonnie

 

Ingredients:

1 large onion, chopped

2 pounds ground beef

16 ounce can of tomato sauce

1 cup beef broth

2 Tbsp molasses or honey

2 Tbsp sweet paprika

1 Tbsp ground cumin

1-2 Tbsp chili powder

Salt

Hot Dogs

Buns

Chopped onion, for garnish

Shredded cheddar for garnish

 

DIrections;

. Add chopped onions to a large skillet and fry over high heat, stirring often, until they begin to brown. Add in the ground beef and stir in well. Cook this, still over high heat and stirring occasionally, until the beef is browned.  Once the beef is well browned, add the tomato sauce, molasses and beef broth. Add all the spices and stir well. Bring to a simmer and taste. Add salt if it needs it.  Let the chili cook on a gentle simmer for at least 30 minutes before you start grilling the hot dogs. You can cook it several hours if you want to, adding a little more beef broth if the chili begins to get too dry.  Prepare hot dogs any way you prefer.  Top hot dogs with chili sauce.  Adding chopped onion and shredded cheese if desired.

 

 

Slow Cooker Beef and Pepper Sandwiches


Peppery Beef SandwichesI was shocked when I was reading a recent article about the advantages of using a Slow Cooker and read many people around the world simply haven’t heard of a slow cooker, yet alone have they had the pleasure of cooking in one. Think about it, for decades now, we’ve all been brought up that most of our mom’s kitchens and now ours have at least one slow cooker ( I have three). But the slow cooker still remains widely unknown. The slow cooker, also called a Crockpot is an appliance which takes longer to cook your food. But, as a wise person once said, “those who wait and are patient, always win the race”.
Now yes, slow cooking your food may take up to 8+ hours in length, but the process is well worth it. You can set up your slow cooker and leave it cooking for hours without looking at it once. In fact, that’s the main selling point. You can leave it cooking away while you’re at work. And when you walk in the door, Dinner is Served (well…almost!!)
You can adapt many conventional recipes for the slow cooker. Any oven or stove top recipe that has some moisture in it–whether from water, broth, wine, sauce, or canned soup–should work beautifully in your favorite appliance, just keep these things in mind:
•Cut all liquid amounts in half when adjusting for the slow cooker.
•The low heat setting is approximately 200 degrees F (95 degrees C) and high heat is about 300 degrees F (150 degrees C).
•For every hour you’d cook something in the oven or on the stove, allow 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high.
This sandwich recipe is to die for! The slow-cooked beef becomes so tender that it shreds easily with a fork. And the banana peppers add so much flavor. Top it with a slice of Swiss cheese and it becomes indescribable!
Enjoy and Happy Cooking,
Vonnie

Ingredients:

3 pound boneless beef chuck or eye of round roast
1 large onion, chopped
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 TBSP. instant beef bouillon granules
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-16 ounce jar Banana peppers (mild or hot), drained. Reserve a bit of the juice
Swiss Cheese slices (optional)
Buns

Directions:
In a 3 1/2 to 4 quart slow cooker and combine meat, onion, Worcestershire sauce, bouillon granules, oregano, basil, thyme, and garlic.
Cover; cook on low setting for 10 hours or on high setting for 5-6 hours. Shred meat with fork/s. Stir in drained banana peppers and a little of the juice.
If adding cheese, spoon meat on buns and top with cheese. Broil sandwiches until cheese melts.
Servings: 8 large sandwiches

Beer Braised Beef with Fall Vegetables


When the air turns a little crisp here in Michigan I grab my box labeled Fall Recipes. This is my most requested meal this time of year.  I love to braise beef.  It is a wonderful way to turn an inexpensive piece of meat into a moist and tender dinner with a huge outcome of flavors and praise!  I also like to use our local brew-pubs in-season beers.  My favorite is Liberty StreetBrewing Companies Pumpkin Pie Ale.  If you don’t have a brewery close by Guinness is a great choice.  Also, I have used Blue Moon Belgian-Style Wheat Ale.

As with most stews, this is great the first day, but even better the next.  I love to serve this with a nice salad and thick bread. My friend Sue Ford’s Oatmeal Bread is perfect. (Recipe is in the archives)

Enjoy and Happy Cooking,

Vonnie                                                                                                     

Ingredients:

3  tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 1/2  tablespoons canola oil

1  (2 pound) boneless chuck roast, trimmed

1  teaspoon salt, divided

1/2  teaspoon black pepper

1  cup  fat-free, less-sodium beef broth

4  garlic cloves, crushed

1  (12-ounce) bottle dark beer

1  bay leaf

3  carrots, peeled and cut diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices

3 parsnips, peeled and cut diagonally into 1/2 inch thick slices

3 small turnips, peeled and cut into wedges *

1  medium onion, peeled and cut into wedges

1/4  cup  chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Directions:

Preheat oven to 300°.

Place flour in a shallow dish. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sprinkle beef evenly on all sides with 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper; dredge in flour. Add beef to pan; cook 10 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Add broth and next 3 ingredients (through bay leaf), scraping pan to remove browned bits; bring to a boil. Cover and bake at 300° for 1 1/2 hours. Add carrots; cover and cook 25 minutes. Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, turnips, parsnips and onion; cover and cook an additional 1 hour and 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender and beef is fork-tender.

Remove beef and vegetables from pan; discard bay leaf. Cover beef mixture; keep warm. Let cooking liquid stand 10 minutes. Skim fat off of broth or try this great tip. (Place a zip-top plastic bag inside a 2-cup glass measure. Pour cooking liquid into bag; let stand 10 minutes fat will rise to the top. Seal bag; carefully snip off 1 bottom corner of bag. Drain cooking liquid into a medium bowl, stopping before fat layer reaches opening; discard fat). Serve cooking liquid with beef and vegetables. Sprinkle each serving with 1 tablespoon parsley.

* Note……If you have never tried turnips, try them. They are wonderful, especially in this recipe but if you just aren’t a fan you can substitute  3 Yukon potatoes peeled and cut into wedges.

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A Walk Down Memory Lane


Original post: July 16,2010

When I found the grocery list this morning at my local market I thought it would be fun to share with all of you since that was my intention when I started Chellengeu2cook. I read the list and my mind went back in time probably 14 years. I had been invited to my very first Pampered Chef party and the consultant made this dinnertime salad. Needless to say, I had to buy the Busy Mom’s cookbook. I used to make this for summer lunches when we lived in Ohio, but haven’t made it once in the 9 years we have lived in Michigan. Funny how the mind works isn’t it?  Anyhow, I hope you enjoy! Mark and I had it for lunch today and it was delightful. Just as I remembered!  From the list I used sausage, potatoes, onions, Dijon mustard, sour cream and good beer. Not Bad!!
Hope you enjoy and Happy cooking,
Vonnie                                                                                                                      

PS…Share your recipes you came up with for the latest grocery list!

From The Pampered Chef Busy Mom’s Cookbook, 1996.
Opening page:
This book is for all the mothers, fathers and caregivers who make careful, loving meal preparation part of their busy lives… and for the thousands of Pampered Chef Kitchen Consultants who help make the lives of everyday cooks a little easier and a lot more fun. Doris Christopher, Founder and President.

Meat”n” Potato Salad
1 pound smoked sausage cut into 1/2 inch thick slices ( I used a pre-cooked Italian sausage)
1 pound small red potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (I used white potatoes)
1 1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup sour cream
2 TBSP. cider vinegar
2 TBSP. mayonnaise (I used Miracle Whip)
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 large green bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup red onion chopped

Place sausage, potatoes and chicken broth in a large frying pan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.   Meanwhile combine sour cream,vinegar,mayonnaise,mustard,sugar, and salt in a 2 qt bowl. Set aside.
When sausage and potatoes are finished cooking, drain and let cool slightly, about 5 minutes. Add sausage, potatoes, bell pepper, and onion to sour cream mixture. Toss to coat. Serve warm or cold.
Yield: 4 servings

Seven Layer Meatless Tortilla Pie


I love this recipe! It’s a great dinner for your busy summer evenings.  It’s also super quick to assemble and so versatile. If you want you can add meat ground beef or turkey seasoned with some taco or fajita seasoning.  Grilled chicken, turkey, pork also seasoned and sliced thin works great. If you are going to add a meat layer, do so after spreading the beans on the tortilla. Top with cheese and continue with standard directions.  

This is a dinner that will please everyone in your family. I like to serve mine with shredded  lettuce and diced tomatoes. If you don’t want to use sour cream, for a dip or dressing to drizzle on top of the pie,  I mix some picante sauce and Ranch dressing together.

Enjoy and Happy cooking,
Vonnie                                                                                                

 

 

 
Ingredients:
2 (15 ounce) cans pinto beans, drained
1 cup picante sauce
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained
2 small tomato, chopped
7 (8 inch) flour tortillas
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
Optional toppings:

sour cream
green onions, chopped
black olives, sliced
jalapeno, sliced

Directions:
Mash pinto beans. Stir in 3/4 cup picante sauce and garlic powder.
Mix remaining picante sauce, cilantro, black beans and tomatoes.
Place 1 tortilla on baking sheet. Spread 3/4 cup pinto bean mixture over tortilla to within 1/2-inch of edge. (Add meat layer)  Top with 1/4 cup cheese. Top with 1 tortilla and 2/3 cup black bean mixture. Top with 1/4 cup cheese. Repeat layers twice more. Top with remaining tortilla and spread with remaining pinto bean mixture. Cover with foil.
Bake at 400 degrees F for 40 minutes or until hot. Uncover. Top with remaining cheese. Cut into wedges. Serve with additional picante sauce, sprinkle with additional cilantro if desired, and optional toppings

Kentucky Burgoo


This is one of my favorite recipes from Simply Recipes. I wanted to pass it along to all of you!

If you haven’t checked out Elsie Bauer’s website please do.  She has wonderful stories and her recipes are divine. http://www.simplyrecipes.com  You can find her on Facebook too!

Burgoo!

Just word itself sounds like there should be a song about it (and there is). If you are unfamiliar with the concept of burgoo, it’s Kentucky’s most famous stew, usually made for big gatherings (such as Derby Day) in huge kettles. Burgoo dates to before the Civil War and as legend has it, was invented by a French chef. Like a Mulligan stew, it’s sort of empty-the-fridge recipe. Burgoos typically have at least three different meats, and plenty of vegetables such as corn, okra, and lima beans. Burgoo lovers differ on whether the stew ought to be cooked into a brown, undifferentiated mass, or whether you can still see individual ingredients. Some say burgoo is just a stew if you can’t stand a spoon in it. In this version of burgoo, we like to know what we’re eating (pork, beef, or chicken), so it’s not cooked as long as others. If you want more of a mélange, just cook the meat longer. As with most stews, burgoo is even better the second day. It’s excellent as a Sunday dinner when you want lunches for the coming week.

This recipe makes a lot! Feel free to halve. Otherwise, it makes great leftovers.

Enjoy and Happy Cooking,                                                     

Vonnie

 

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

3-4 pounds pork shoulder or country ribs, cut into large pieces (3 to 4 inches wide)

2-3 pounds chuck roast, stew meat, or other inexpensive cut of beef, cut into large pieces (3 to 4 inches wide)

3-5 chicken legs or thighs (bone-in)

1 green pepper, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

2 celery ribs, chopped

5 garlic cloves, chopped

1 quart chicken stock or broth

1 quart beef stock or broth

1 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes

2 large potatoes (we used russets)

1 bag of frozen corn (about a pound)

1 bag of frozen lima beans (about 14 ounces)

Salt and pepper

4-8 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

Tabasco or other hot sauce on the side

 Directions:

Heat vegetable oil on medium-high heat in a large soup pot (at least 8 quart size). Salt the meats well on all sides. When the oil is shimmering hot, working in batches brown all the meats. Do not crowd the pan or the meat will steam and not brown well. Do not move the meat while browning a side. Let the meat pieces get well seared. Remove the browned meats to a bowl.  Add the onions, carrots, celery and green pepper to the pot and brown them. If necessary, add a little more oil to the pot. After a few minutes of cooking, sprinkle salt over the vegetables.  When the vegetables are well browned, add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds more, until fragrant. Add back the meats, and the chicken and beef broths and the tomatoes, stir to combine. Bring to a simmer, cover, reduce the heat and simmer gently for 2 hours.  Uncover and remove the meat pieces. Strip the chicken off the bone and discard skin if you want. Break the larger pieces of meat into smaller, more manageable pieces. The reason you did not do this at first is because the meats stay juiciest when they cook in larger pieces. Return all the meat pieces to the pot and bring it up to a strong simmer.  Peel and cut the potatoes into chunks about the same size as the meat pieces (if using new potatoes, you can skip the peeling, but russets you’ll want to peel). Add them to the stew and cook them until they are done, about 45 minutes. When the potatoes are done, add the Worcestershire sauce, mix well and taste for salt. Add more Worcestershire sauce to taste if needed.  Add the corn and lima beans. Mix well and cook for at least 10 minutes, or longer if you’d like. Here is the point where you decide whether you want a burgoo that’s been hammered into a thick mass or a stew with bright colors in it. It’s your call. To serve, taste one more time for salt, and add either Worcestershire or salt if you want. Serve with crusty bread or cornbread and a bottle of hot sauce on the side.

Serves a small army. Or 12-16.

Lasagna Soup


Do you like Lasagna?

Well, if so, you’re going to LOVE this recipe for Lasagna Soup!  The great thing about it is, it comes together so quickly and tastes so rich that your family and guests will think you worked long and hard to make them a wonderful dinner.  I like to serve this with some good Italian bread and a simple salad.

Enjoy and Happy cooking~                                                                                               

Vonnie

1 lb lean  ground beef

1 medium onion, diced

2 large green, red or orange bell peppers, diced

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 cups water

2 cans (14.5 oz each)  diced tomatoes with Italian herbs,

undrained

2 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1 bay leaf

¼ tsp. black pepper

¼ tsp. red pepper flakes, optional

1 can (6 oz)  tomato paste

2 cups uncooked mini lasagna noodles (4 oz)

1 tablespoon packed brown sugar

1 ½ cup seasoned croutons

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

½ cup shredded parmesan cheese

In Dutch oven, cook beef, onion, bell peppers, garlic and bay leaf over medium heat 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until beef is brown and onion is tender; drain.

Stir in water, diced tomatoes and tomato paste. Stir in pasta, Italian seasoning, black pepper, red pepper                 flakes, and brown sugar.  Heat to boiling.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until pasta is tender. Remove Bay leaf.

Set oven control to broil. Pour hot soup into 6 oven proof soup bowls or casseroles. Top each with 1/4 cup croutons. Sprinkle with cheese. Broil soup with tops 3 to 4 inches from heat 1 to 2 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Slow Cooker Beef and Tortellini Soup


Nothing says Autumn more than a bowl of  this fabulous soup my friend Debbie shared with me.  She is such a wonderful person and I feel privileged to know her. She is “old school” and believes no matter how busy your day, you should have a home cooked meal.  And if the family can all eat together;  Better yet!   This recipe is a great reason to “SLOW” down at the end of your busy day and reward yourself with a very satisfying dinner. I love to serve this with a big salad,  fresh-baked bread and some apple cake for dessert!

FYI…I have made this for my meat-free families and it’s just as good as a vegetarian soup. I added some white beans (cannellini) for the fiber. YUMMY!

Happy Fall!

Enjoy and Happy Cooking~

Vonnie

Ingredients:
1# beef stew meat                                                                                  
1 Tablespoon steak seasoning
1 large onion, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, pressed
2 teaspoons sugar
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained
32 oz. beef broth
1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
2 cups frozen cheese filled tortellini  or gnocchi
1 can green beans, drained

Directions: 
In a large skillet, brown stew meat in a little oil for 3-5 minutes add steak seasoning to meat while browning.
Place meat in slowcooker. Add onion, carrots, garlic, sugar, tomatoes, and beef broth in order listed.
Cover; cook on low setting for 8 hours.
Stir in basil, frozen tortellini and green beans. Increase heat to high.
Cover;cook for 20 to 30 minutes.

Note: I have also used gnocchi and just a good!!