Wednesday, February 20, 2013

How to Hard Boil Eggs in the Oven... (THE BETTER WAY!)

It is just a little white egg.  Why has boiling it always intimidated me so?  I seriously have to google directions every time!  How long to I boil them?  Why did that one just explode?  Did I take them out too early?  Did I leave them in the cold water long enough?  Was the cold water the right temperature?  Then, why is the yoke still runny?  Ok- so it's not rocket science, but it definitely feels like EGG Science.  So imagine my delight when I saw a "pin" suggesting you bake them in the oven.  Rapturous Day!  You can't top these easy fool-proof instructions.  I will never make a hard (not boiled) egg any other way!  My kids loved peeling them. :) I loved shaking up our typical dinner menu.

How to Hard Boil Eggs in the Oven
To make the eggs, simply bake them in a 325 degree oven for 30 minutes. You can place them directly on the rack or use a muffin tin, which makes it easy move them in and out of the oven in bulk. Once the 30 minutes have passed, remove the eggs from the oven (carefully, because they are hot) and plunge them in cold water for 10 minutes.
The shells may have brown spots where they were in contact with hot metal. Sometimes that discoloration fades away in the water plunge, but sometimes it will leave marks on the whites.

*Wouldn't this be perfect for Easter eggs?  This would save a lot of time!

Made a delicious Egg Salad Sandwich for dinner with mine.  What will you make?
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Friday, February 15, 2013

Pinto Bean Soup with Cajun-Style Sausage

So Happy {late} Valentine's Day!  I have been busy with sick kids lately, and so instead of making sweets, I've been making soups. How sad is that?  Except that this was a soup that made my hungry crew happy.  I made a big batch of pinto beans in the crockpot.  We used them for beans and rice tacos, but I used the other half in this soup. Dried beans are pretty cheap.  I liked that the beans weren't all that was going on in this soup.  The addition of some fresh veggies and spices made it much more exciting and tasty than a typical bean soup.

Pinto Bean Soup with Cajun-Style Sausage (Diana Rattray)
1 tablespoon olive oil
12 ounces andouille sausage, sliced (I just used ground sausage)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped, red, green, or other color
(I also added chopped zucchini)
2 cans (14.5 ounces each) diced tomatoes
1 1/2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning blend
salt and pepper, to taste
1 quart chicken broth
2 cans (about 15 ounces each) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley or cilantro

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the sliced sausage, onion, and celery and saute for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the bell pepper and continue cooking, stirring, for 3 or 4 minutes longer. Add the diced tomatoes, seasoning blend, salt and pepper, and chicken broth. Add the drained pinto beans. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the green onions and parsley and continue cooking for 2 minutes longer.
Serves 6.

Lyd's Tip: I mentioned recently how I sometimes make my ground beef stretch using a grated potato, but I also like to make my sausage stretch. Are you shocked? :) I add a chopped onion, and sometimes I just don't use as much in the recipe.  I set a little bit aside and refrigerate it.  It's perfect in omelets, quiche, casseroles, or other soups.  Saves me time too, because I can just throw it in.
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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Easy-Pleasing Avocado Sandwich

"A man gets tired of the same ham sandwich everyday," or so my hubby says (in so many words).  He is careful to express his "gratitude" that I make him lunch, but he seemed especially grateful when I switched things up with this little avocado concoction.  He said he could have this one "everyday" but even as good as it is, I have my suspicions that we would eventually repeat this cycle. :)  But for now... he is quite pleased with avocados, so I'll keep them coming.  A little spice and some TLC go a long way.  Who needs meat in their sandwiches anyway? Not him, not today anyway. :)

Easy-Pleasing Avocado Sandwich (From Lyd)
2 Sliced of Good Hearty Whole Wheat Bread
Avodcado sliced (they can be pricey, so I sometimes make them stretch by using 1/4 of a large one or half of medium and then refrigerating the other half.)
Cheddar Cheese, sliced
1 small tomato sliced
pinch of salt
pinch of paprika
pinch of cajun seasoning
little bit of mayo

Spread bread with mayo, layer with cheese, avocado, and tomato.  Sprinkle with seasonings and put a Lyd on in." Send it to work with hubby along with a big kiss... or sit down to one yourself. :) * Guaranteeing to please.
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Friday, February 1, 2013

Lyd's Tip: Penny-Pinching with Potatoes...

I am pretty sure I am not the only one that likes to save a buck, so I am diverting from my typical posts for a "Lyd's Tip."  I guess I shouldn't take all the credit-- I dropped by a friends house and she was grating a potato and said she was making tacos... I was confused and she explained further. :)  I was glad I stopped by at just the right moment because it's seems like the price of ground beef in on the rise, and this little tip has saved me some money, and probably some clogged arteries as well. :)

Using a Potato to Stretch Hamburger and Making Two Easy Casseroles
It all begins with a potato.  One potato is probably best if you don't want more potato than burger, but I was extra cheap and grated two. :)
Grate away!

Brown about a pound of hamburger.
Lyd's Tip: I like to get my ground beef at our local COOP store (organic, natural foods store).  They sell the grass fed beef there, and if I buy three family packs, they mark the price down significantly.  It's worth asking about.  I put most of it in small zip-lock bags to freeze and use the rest for meals like The Best Meatballs or Mini Cheddar Loaves, that both freeze well and come in handy on a busy night or if I'm taking a meal to someone.  I usually have pasta and the meatballs go great with it for spaghetti.)
Draining it is a "healthy" idea, but if you do, you might want to add just a tablespoons of olive oil.  Add the grated potato and cook for about 10-15 minutes until it is browned and cooked through, stirring or turning occasionally.  Season with salt and pepper.

Once it's cooked through you are good to go.
Here is what I did with mine:
I killed two birds with one stone...
Or you might say, I killed two casseroles with one potato. :)
*Now--I do have to say that these are my stand-by recipes, not really anything to brag about- I am almost ashamed to post them, :) but they freeze well and my kids don't complain because they are familiar.  Also, be forewarned that you will tasted the potato- it doesn't exactly go unnoticed, but it doesn't taste bad either.
 *Divide beef (correction, potato beef :) in two bowls.

For the Speedy Shepherd Pie:
In a large bowl, stir together 1 can on string beans, 1 can of tomato soup, and beef mixture.  Spread in casserole dish.  Top with mashed potatoes and grated cheese.

(Another Lyd's Tip: I am all about saving time, so I make a big batch of mashed potatoes when I make them for Sunday dinner or something, and set some aside for just this occasion.  I have also frozen some in quart size zip-lock bags, and I have found that it actually freezes pretty well, you just reheat in the microwave.  Works well for this purpose.  Instant potatoes are also speedy.)
 For the Speedy Tatertot Casserole:
In a large bowl, stir together 1 can of drained string beans, 1 can of cream of mushroom soup, and beef mixture.  Top with frozen tatertots.
Easy-sh'meezy! (Not to mention cheaper.)
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