Monday, May 30, 2011

Freezing Berries and Bananas

Freezing Berries and Bananas

We use a ton of bananas in our house.  I bet we go through two bunches a week.  I try to head to town just once a week and that means buying ahead on bananas and hoping they don't ripen too fast or that all they have are the greenest bananas you've ever seen.  Sometimes if I am lucky the stores have bagged bananas at a lower price, like $1.99/bag or the the other store has them for 39 cents/lb which is about 20 cents cheaper than regular price right now.  Bags are about 8-9 lbs.  They may look speckly but so far they are all still very firm. 

I take the peel off and hunk them.  Place them upright on a freezer paper lined jelly roll pan and put them in the freezer. When they are thoroughly frozen, at least all day or I wait until the next day, I put them in a freezer ziploc bag for use.  I tried the first time to see if they would turn brown and they didn't so I have frozen some several times since. We use them in smoothies, and protein shakes.  No need for ice (filler) or worrying about the bananas getting too soft or if the store only has green bananas.

I also freeze strawberries on sale (or hopefully soon from our own patch) and the wild black raspberries we have in our backyard.

Last year I bought a flat of cherries and blueberries and did the same.  I used my vacuum seal bags to keep them crystal free in the freezer. 

Try it and save some money!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie

This recipe makes a deep dish pot pie.

3 cups chicken broth
3 chicken breasts, shredded
1-1/2 cups cooked vegetables (celery, onion, carrots)
using this method is best but you could use a purchased rotisserie chicken, broth, and saute your own veggies

2 to 2-1/2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup  instant potato flakes
1 cup frozen peas
2 pie crusts
1 egg , beaten

Rinse vegetables off.  This will remove all the funny bits they get from the crockpot.
Chop into chunks.
Add chicken broth (except about 1-2 T)  and chicken to a large skillet or Dutch oven. Heat to boiling. Add veggies.
Make cornstarch slurry with cornstarch and reserved 2 T chicken broth.
While stirring add cornstarch slurry.  Continue to stir to incorporate.
Add instant potatoes and stir to mix.
Your chicken filling should be thick enough you can run your spatula across the bottom and the liquid doesn't pool back to the middle.  Add more instant potatoes if needed. Season as needed here with salt and pepper.
Add frozen peas.
Put one crust in the bottom of the pie dish.  I use the Pampered Chef stoneware deep dish pie and love it.  My crust on the bottom is brown and flakey everytime! Add filling.
Place other crust on top and crimp together with bottom crust.  Poke any design into the top you want. I did it to release steam from the filling.  Not sure if it needed it or not but sure looks nice!
Bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes, then brush on egg wash, return to oven for another 10 minutes. 
Let set for 5-10 minutes before digging in.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Veggie Pizza Cups

Veggie Pizza Cups

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried dillweed
salt and pepper to taste
1 can crescent rolls (they make one with no seams but it's not light)
Various veggies and favorite toppings

Roll out crescent roll dough, press seams together if that is the type you purchased. Cut into 24 even squares.  Press lightly onto back of mini muffin tin. Make it look like a checker board leaving blanks in between or they will puff up and stick to each other.

Bake according to directions, maybe a little less. When they are golden brown they are done. Take them off and put them on a cooling rack. 

Mix rest of ingredients together. Taste and add more or less spices as you like it. You could also use some premixed Ranch dressing dry packets. Use disposable decorating bag and star tip and fill each one. Quick and easy!

Have a relish tray full of diced carrots, green peppers, tomatoes, bacon bits, cheese, green onions, whatever veggiess you like for guests to assemble their own. They are easy to pick up and eat and everyone can have the type of veggie pizza they like without having to pick off the stuff they don't!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Peanut Butter Cup Bars

My husband's mom made these for family.  It never took long for them to disappear!

Peanut Butter Cup Bars

2 packages graham crackers, crushed (3 cups)
1/2 cup white sugar
2/3 cup white corn syrup
1 cup peanut butter (if you use chunky it takes a little more)
12 ounce bag milk or semi-sweet chocolate chips

Mix together all but chocolate. 
 Press into bottom of 10x15" jelly roll pan.
 I found my Pampered Chef roller very handy!
 Nice and smooth.
 Place chocolate chips in a double boiler (or use two sauce pans with water in the bottom one and chips in the top) and melt.  This will keep your chocolate from burning.

 Spread onto peanut butter base and place in fridge for chocolate to harden.
 Remove from fridge and cut into pieces. Can be served cold or at  room temp.

Cheeseburger Rice

Cheeseburger Rice

1 pound ground beef
1/2 small onion diced or 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
2-1/2 cups water**
1/2 cup ketchup
2 Tablespoons prepared mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
Few cracks black pepper
3/4 cup INSTANT brown rice (if you want to use instant white use 1.5 cups each rice and water)
1/2-1 cup shredded cheese

This can be made two ways.  You can start with raw beef cooked with the onion and drained or here I had already precooked hamburger and used onion powder.  Add rest of ingredients except cheese and stir.
Bring to boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes for brown rice.  Watch the water and add any if needed.  Test rice and cook until tender.  If you use white rice bring to boil and cover and let set for 5 minutes until rice is tender.
Turn off heat, sprinkle on cheese
 and place lid on top to melt cheese.
**Amount of water correlates with the directions on your box of rice.  I found out through a friend who made this dish that not all rices are created equal! Her rice required less water than mine and she had to cook it longer to get the liquid out.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Faux Tiramisu

Faux Tiramisu

8 oz cream cheese, softened
3 cups milk
2 pkgs sugar-free instant pudding (cheesecake or white chocolate flavor)
8 oz tub sugar-free whipped topping
1 pkg lady fingers(24 cookies)
2 cups brewed coffee, cooled
2 Tablespoon Kahlua or Kahlua flavored syrup
cocoa powder for dusting

Beat cream cheese until creamy. Add milk and pudding mixes and beat until thickened. Fold or mix in whipped topping. In separate bowl mix coffee and Kahlua. Dip lady fingers in coffee mix and line trifle dish. Top with half of the pudding mixture. Repeat with lady fingers and pudding. Top with remaining whipped topping. Refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours. When ready to serve dust with cocoa powder.

Can also be made into mini size (see video.)

** Can be made with regular instant pudding too.