Friday, April 30, 2010

Hot Link Spaghetti


If you know me...and I mean away from reading my blog, you know that I make friendships for life. Most of my friends are family to me. They are the ones to drop by for no special reason. They know there is always extra food and are always welcome for dinner or a cup of coffee. Friendships are special because you choose to be friends unlike family that is handed to you.

One friendship in particular, I have had for almost twenty years. We met by chance, as she was advertising for a roommate and I needed (or rather wanted) to move out of home and be on my own. That first meeting, we knew we would be friends for life! Her picky kitty decided it when she plopped in my lap! Friends forever, we have been! She has been present for every important moment in my life...bad breakups, meeting The Fireman, getting married, having children...she has seen it all! She has seen me at my best and my worst! Truly family!

When we lived together, she ate literally only a handful of items. The pickiest eater I have ever met! We lived off of Hot Link Spaghetti. I had never heard of it before and have never met anyone else that makes it. One warning, you will turn your foodie nose at the ingredients but if you make it once, it will become that last minute meal. My kids LOVE it. I have toned it down for her version was much spicier. If I have whole wheat pasta, I definitely go for it as it is healthier. My kids prefer regular spaghetti as they say it sticks to the sauce better.

Hot Link Spaghetti

1 pack of Hot Links (beef is preferred)
2 jars of your favorite spaghetti sauce (or make your own)
1/4 - 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Parmesan cheese
Cooked Spaghetti

Slice and dice the Hot Links. I like to cook them in the sauce pan and drain off some of the fat.

Back in the day, we just added the diced Hot Links to the sauce and warmed up. Now I need to justify every fatty calorie. Add the jarred sauce to the sauce pan. Add the cayenne pepper and a handful of Parmesan cheese.


Taste...does it need more spice? I like mine spicy but my brats dont! Tonight's is pretty spicy.
Spoon over cooked spaghetti and top with more Parmesan cheese. My brats like it extra saucy (is that even a word?) so they can dip their breadsticks in it.


Dare you to try it!




Friday Follow

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Menu for 4/30 to 5/14




My blogs post are about a week ahead of real life...which is a problem when I post my menu for the next two weeks. It's almost like I am teasing you which isn't my intention. If you are interested in revisiting the last menu, here it is! Otherwise here is a look at what recipes are to come!

Every payday I make a menu for two weeks.

I only cook on the nights The Fireman is home. I try to starve the brats when he is working...no that isn't true! We just eat "stuff" that The Fireman would never consider Dinner! The Fireman is off a lot of this Menu plan so there is a lot of cooking! We also have what is called "Get your Own Nights" which is nights that the kids cook for themselves. I grocery shop for one week at a time so the produce is fresh.



Now the menu is not laid in stone on the days I will make it. The only day I don't budge on is Tuesdays! Or maybe, it's the kids that don't budge on Tuesdays!


Friday April 30th Wings Night!! Buffalo wings

Saturday May 1st Take out Friday!!! Pizza with coupon

Sunday May 2nd Chicken Picatta over Linguine

Monday May 3rd * Ultimate Grilled Cheese

Tuesday May 4th Taco Tuesday! Chili Verde Tacos with Rice and Beans

Wednesday May 5th Cinco de Mayo!! Hamburger Red Enchiladas

Thursday May 6th Smothered Pork chops with Mushroom Gravy over Mashed Potatoes

Friday May 7th Steak with Peppercorn Sauce with Roasted Cauliflower

Saturday May 8th Chicken Parmesan over Spaghetti

Sunday May 9th Guinness Beef Stew

Monday May 10th Homemade Turkey Chili with Corn bread

Tuesday May 11th Taco Tuesday! Fish Tacos with creamy Cilantro Sauce

Wednesday May 12th * Chicken Ranch Sandwiches

Friday May 13th Sloppy Joes

Saturday May 14th * Chinese Ramon Salad

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Coleslaw


Last night I made the biggest pork roast in my crockpot! Did you see it? I'm not sure what pig it was from but I think it was the Big Daddy of squealers!

It's no secret my family is not cool with leftovers. I could make tacos again tonight. The Fireman wasn't home for Taco Tuesday. So I could potentially get away with it but leftover pork screams for one dish and one dish only!

Do you remember the first time you had pulled pork sandwiches? Not as a kid because that doesn't count. I didn't grow up eating it! And I surely didn't get to enjoy a beer with it! The Fireman reminded me that is was in San Francisco. Like I could forget!

He took me there for my first MLB game. It was the Giants vs Dodgers. I hadn't discovered the love of baseball yet. I was apprehensive. It was the best weekend of my life. The Fireman proposed at Candlestick Stadium. No it wasn't on a big screen. That's not us. It was so private that nobody around us knew.

That weekend I also had my first pulled pork sandwich with coleslaw on top. Just like the rest of my weekend, I wasn't sure if I would like it. Creamy coleslaw on BBQ pork? It was heaven! The two flavors marry together perfectly, complementing each other. Just like a good marriage!

Now my pulled pork is nothing special...really! I don't even make my own BBQ sauce although I have in the past. You can pull this meal together in no time.

First make the coleslaw. It needs just a little time to meld together. This is plain Jane coleslaw! I make an entirely different coleslaw for a side dish. I'm not saying you can't eat it alone (in fact The Fireman ate the remainder from the bowl) but this is not my "special coleslaw" this is just for pulled pork sandwiches.

Coleslaw
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1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 TB rice vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
1 TB table sugar
1/2 bag (yes that's my measurement!) of coleslaw cabbage.
Mix mayo, sugar and vinegar in a large bowl.


Add cabbage. Mix well.

It will look like you don't have enough sauce but I promise you will have enough.

The cabbage will break down and the sauce will be perfect. Refrigerate while you make the sandwiches.
Take 4 cups of leftover pulled pork-

(don't have leftovers, no problem-might take five hours longer to make but here's the recipe for the Pork Roast)
Place pork in a large pan and reheat on medium heat.

Once warm, add about 3/4 cups of your favorite BBQ sauce. You want the meat covered but not soupy.
Place pork on toasted onion rolls. Pile coleslaw on top. Be generous with both!


Lick your fingers while you eat it! I promise it is mandatory!!!

Where did you eat your first Pulled Pork sandwich?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Taco Tuesday! Crockpot Pork Tacos


Another Tuesday without a baseball game. What am I to do? After a month of having games every Tuesday, I am just lost! Not a problem to my kids. They just cruise. The smell of this roast was killing them all afternoon. "When's dinner?", "I'm hungry!", "How much longer?" Oh the complaints! Totally worth the wait!

The beauty of cooking in the crock pot is it does all the work! Toss that baby in the crockpot in the morning and it's ready for dinner. This roast is HUGE! I can definitely get two dinners out of it and lunch! With the leftovers, I will be able to make Pulled Pork Sandwiches.

Crockpot Pork Tacos
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In a small bowl, combine 1 TB Smoked Paprika

Yes I am using my palms as measuring spoons but have you really seen the size of my hands? Most kindergartens have bigger hands!
1TB garlic powder

1 TB Kosher Salt

1/4- 1/2 tsp Cayenne pepper

Come on! It won't be spicy! Unless you want it spicy, then add more!
1/2 TB Cumin

Mix well
Now the fun part! Sprinkle spice mixture all over the roast. Make sure you get the counters too!

Toss that baby in the Crockpot.
Don't laugh at my Crockpot! I use her ALOT!
Don't add water! Promise you, the roast has enough fat that it wont be dry!

Cook on low all day or if you are late getting it in the Crockpot like I usually am, cook on high for four to five hours.

Take two forks and shred the meat. The meat just falls apart!

Spoon into your favorite tortillas or fry up shells (Tortured Teenagers favorite!) Add some Homemade salsa, shredded Cheese and some sour cream!
All this baby needs a Cervesa! Hey! Beer and Mexican food go hand in hand!

Are you a Crockpot chef?


If you don't have one, here is a link to buy one! Every mom needs one!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Chicken spaghetti



I am obsessed with reading The Pioneer Woman. I don't even make her recipes (except tonight) but I love her pictures!! I'm going to end up on her doorstep one day! We are great friends..really er.. not really! Don't burst my bubble! She is my food idol, my Paula Dean!

My family doesn't do casseroles! I love casseroles. Especially tuna casserole! Mmm if I can ever get everyone to leave for the night it will be the first dish I make! I promise!

So I am taking a huge gamble making a casserole tonight. I am hoping that The Fireman will like it considering it has Cream of Mushroom Soup in it. He has a secret love affair with Cream of Anything Soup. It will be touch and go with my son. I bet he chooses cereal tonight! And we won't even mention the other child..you know she HATES Cream of Anything, none the less, a casserole. So I bet I will be batting 0 for 2 if you speak baseball.

Chicken Spaghetti
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Original recipe can be viewed on Pioneer Woman's site Under The only Casserole Marlboro Man will eat

Ingredients


2 cups Cooked Chicken
3 cups Dry Spaghetti, Broken Into Two Inch Pieces
2 cans Cream Of Mushroom Soup
2 cups Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
¼ cups Finely Diced Green Pepper
¼ cups Finely Diced Onion
1 jar (4 Ounce) Diced Pimentos, Drained
2 cups Reserved Chicken Broth From Pot
1 teaspoon Lawry's Seasoned Salt
⅛ teaspoons (to 1/4 Teaspoon) Cayenne Pepper
Salt And Pepper, to taste
1 cup Additional Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
Take one Chicken that has been cut up (think fried chicken pieces) or two half chicken breasts on the bone and boil in a pot for about 30 minutes.

Look at what I paid for these! I will get two nights out of one package! What a deal!
Do not discard the liquid. Take Chicken out and pick the meat off the bones into bite size pieces.

While the chicken is boiling...I've got some cutting and prep work!

About one half of a bell pepper. The red ones were the same price as the green so I went with the yummy red! The other half I will use for another recipe.

I only used a 1/4 of the onion. Make sure you cut it really small. The only chance it has to cook is while in the oven.

Break up the spaghetti. As you can see, I didn't use the whole box. Whole Wheat would work nice here too. I used what was in the pantry.

Grate cheese..see those chunks in the corner? Those are for the Cheese Police! No joke!


Reserve 2 cups of the broth the chick boiled in

Break up about one box of spaghetti in 2 inch bite sizes until you have about three cups. Dump into the boiling water the chicken cooked in. Watch carefully you do not over cook. You are looking for Al dente. It will continue to cook in the oven. Drain

In a very large bowl (you will see that mine could have been a little bigger) add the cooked noodles, the chicken, bell peppers, onions, pimientos, cream of Mushroom soup, cheese, seasonings (yes even the 1/8 tsp of cayenne pepper...it wont be too spicy, I promise!) and mix well.


Start add the liquid you reserved. I used about 1/12 cups. You are not looking for soup so don't over do it.

Turn the mixture into a greased casserole dish. Cover with cheese and bake for 30 minutes in a 350 oven.


This casserole reminds me of what you take when you are feeding a family (new baby, mom's sick, etc)
The leftovers are better than the original night. I would make two changes to this recipe, first I would use Cream of Chicken instead of Mushroom. And I would add Ortega Chilis to the casserole.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Homemade Chicken Fingers Salad


My brats LOVE chicken fingers. If we go out to eat they always order chicken fingers. Drives me crazy! Go out for steak...they order chicken fingers. Why bother taking them? Hmmm, now there's a thought!

I love Chicken Fingers too but I'm getting a little soft and don't need all that deep fried goodness. I've tried them whole wheat, all healthy, and cardboard-licious but tonight's is a balance of healthy meets fattening. Baking them makes my conscience feel better and putting over a salad makes me feel I am attempting to wrong my spare tire. Wiring my mouth shut would be another option! So would a pack of dogs chasing me...all another blog entirely! Don't get me wrong, these are best fried in a little canola oil on the stove but I am baking them tonight.


Homemade Chicken Fingers Salad
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Jumbo pack chicken tenders or 24 for a family of four (16 for the brats and me tonight)
Flour 1/2 cup seasoned with salt and pepper
1 egg beaten w one TB water
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs (mine are plain so I had to season mine up)

Line your cookie sheer with foil. I ALWAYS forget. A reader reminded me. I will continue to forget. It's because The Tortured Teenager does the dishes and I like to see her suffer.

Oil the foil lined cookie sheet.

Dredge chicken in flour first, then egg

Hey..don't make fun of my junky trays! I saved these just for the occasion!
and then the bread crumbs.

Lay in the very oiled foil lined cookie sheet.

Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 15 minutes, flipping half way after 10 minutes.
Serve as an after school treat (The Ballplayer's favorite before a game!) or

serve over Mixed Greens with your favorite dressing.
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