Walking Tacos (or Tacos in a Bag)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

After nearly a month off of blogging and trying new recipes, we're back from our vacation now and I am excited to start cooking again!  This fun recipe was inspired from a dish offered at our high school concession stand and has proven to be as popular in our house as it is in the concession stand. Taste wise, they're no different than your average tacos and just as easy to throw together, but my kids (and their friends) thought the concept of eating dinner straight out of a bag of chips was the coolest thing ever.   Of course, I didn't mind the lack of dirty dishes either.  :)  
Click here for printable recipe.

The ingredients:

1-1/4 lbs. cooked taco seasoned ground beef/turkey (I used a chopped onion, one taco seasoning packet and 3/4 cup water)
10-12 snack-size packages (1-ounce each) corn chips or cheese flavored chips (we used Fritos and Doritos)
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 head Romaine lettuce, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
Sour cream, salsa, and/or taco sauce, to taste

Directions:  After the ground beef/turkey is taco seasoned and cooked, have each family member choose their desired bag of chips and crunch them slightly.  Carefully open the bags of chips at the top (you want to be careful that the side doesn't get ripped).  Add a spoonful of the taco seasoned meat directly into the chip bag (over the chips). 

Add shredded cheese, chopped lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, and salsa as desired.    Distribute forks and eat straight out of the bags (no plates required).  Makes about six servings.


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Cheese Fondue

Monday, August 29, 2011

I love cheese. What better way to eat it than to melt it and dip food in it?! This cheese fondue recipe came from my mother-in-law who used to make this when her family lived in Switzerland. It is made with white grape juice instead of white wine. Fondue is our New Year's Eve tradition, but we also make it when apples are in season or when friends are visiting and they want me to make it. It's a fun way to eat dinner with your family.
Click here for printable recipe. 

The Ingredients:

1-1/2 cups white grape juice (I like the sparkling kind, but you can use the regular kind as well)
3 cups cheese, shredded mixture of Swiss, Emmenthal, Guyere ( Your cheese section at the grocery store should have these. You may also be able to find a cheese blend already shredded for you. I know I saw it at Wegmans)
2 Tbs. flour
dash nutmeg
1 clove garlic, cut in half
1-2 loaves french bread/baguettes
5-6 apples or pears or combination (use firm fruit)

The Directions:
The morning of or the day before, cut up your french bread into bite size pieces. They need to be dried out.
Cut fruit into bite size pieces and toss with lemon juice to prevent browning. (not the day before)
Shred the cheese and toss the flour with it. The flour will help it to not clump up while melting.

Add the grape juice to a non stick pan and heat to a low simmer or slightly bubbling.Keep heat at a medium temperature and add the cheese a couple handfuls at a time and stirring all the time.
In the beginning it will seem like the cheese is just floating around in the liquid and will never melt. Keep stirring occasionally. It will melt. If after 10 minutes it still hasn't started melting, turn the heat up a little. After all the cheese is melted then add the nutmeg.Turn down heat but keep stirring occasionally so it doesn't stick to pan. Prepare your fondue pot. Cut the garlic clove in half and rub it all over the inside of the pot. The bottom and the sides.(If you don't have a fondue pot, don't worry. I actually used my crockpot the last time I made this. Just make sure you heat up your crock pot so it's warm before you add the cheese or it will be a lot harder to keep it melted)

Pour the cheese into prepared fondue pot. You may need to adjust the flame underneath it occasionally and make sure that you occasionally stir the cheese in the pot. Otherwise, the cheese will stick and burn on the bottom of the pot. Use fondue forks to dip your bread and fruit into the pot. Hopefully people in your family take turns and won't fight over getting their food stuck at the bottom. Three energetic boys with fondue forks is never a good combination. Get creative with other foods to dip. I've used miniature sausages in the past and that's pretty good as well.
Tradition is that whomever looses their bread/apple at the bottom of the pan is the one who gets stuck with dishes. Or maybe that's just my in-laws' tradition. But it's a pretty good one. Bon appetit!


Bacon Potato Waffles (or Pancakes)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

O blog, how have I missed thee... 

With only a few weeks left of summer vacation, I've been hanging low in the blogging world and trying to maximize time with the kiddos before they head back to school.  We're eating lots of old favorites (tacos, spaghetti, and grilled burgers) and more recently lots of fast food.   A couple of days ago I went to my 20-year high school reunion in Minnesota, today we are at Mount Rushmore, tomorrow we will be in Yellowstone.  I love the summertime! 

A few weeks ago I decided to jump on the bandwagon and see what the bacon craze I keep seeing in the cooking blogworld is all about.  I've seen recipes for bacon cookies, bacon muffins, and even bacon cupcakes, and I'll be honest it all sounds a bit....um...unusual.  When I saw this recipe for bacon potato waffles, however, the fact that it was all kind of breakfast-y somehow made it seem less weird and a bit more like a natural fit.  We had some leftover mashed potatoes, so we gave it a try. 

I can't lie and say it wasn't still a bit weird pouring sweet buttermilk syrup over potato and bacon filled waffles that have a hint of oniony flavor, but after getting over the weirdness factor, we all liked it.  We especially loved it with additional crumbled bacon over the top.   The kids decided that next time we make them, we should have them for "Breakfast for Dinner", but they all definitely wanted a next time, so we're calling it a keeper in my book!  :)

Source:  Taste of Home
Click here for printable recipe. 

The ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbs. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1-1/2 cups mashed potatoes (with added milk and butter)
1 cup  milk
5 Tbs. canola oil
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
3 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
Toppings:  Maple syrup, chunky applesauce (or sour cream and chives)
Additional crumbled cooked bacon, optional

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, whisk the eggs, mashed potatoes, milk and oil. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in onion and bacon.
Bake in a preheated waffle iron according to manufacturer’s directions until golden brown. Or for pancakes, drop by ladlefuls onto hot, greased griddle and cook until golden brown on both sides.   Serve with syrup or applesauce (or sour cream and chives for a more savory dish).   Sprinkle with additional bacon if desired.  Enjoy! 


Grilled Chicken Cordon Blue Sandwiches

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

One of my husband's most requested meals is chicken cordon blue, but since it's kind of a pain to make, I usually only make it a couple times a year (on his birthday and as our traditional Easter dinner).  When I saw this recipe in our church congregation's cookbook (submitted by my blogging partner, Jen), I was immediately interested in trying it out.  Since then, it's become our favorite new lazy way to enjoy a time-consuming old favorite!  Since not everyone likes Dijon mustard in our house, I ended up using a store-bought honey-mustard and we all loved the flavor it imparted.  I also enjoyed the fact that it was grilled, so we didn't have to heat up our house on these hot, summer days ! 

Click here for printable recipe. 

The ingredients:

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (one per sandwich)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbs. oil
4 slices deli ham (trimmed to fit over the chicken)
4 slices Swiss cheese (trimmed to fit over the chicken)
4 hamburger buns
Dijon mustard (we used honey-mustard instead)
Additional toppings as desired (lettuce, tomato, mayo, etc.)

Directions:  Trim fat from chicken and cut as necessary to fit buns.  We like to either use chicken tenderloins or cut each breast into 3 or 4 strips for easier grilling.  Season chicken with salt and pepper to taste.  Drizzle chicken with 1 tablespoon oil.  Sear chicken on grill 2 minutes until it has change color one-quarter of way up from bottom.  Turn over; sear 1-3 minutes.  Turn over chicken.  Cook 1-3 minutes; turn over again.  Reduce heat to MEDIUM: cook 12-15 minutes until internal temps reaches 165 degrees.
Brush about a tablespoon of honey-mustard onto each piece of chicken and top with a slice of ham and a slice of Swiss cheese.  Watching carefully, cook until the cheese is slightly melted.  Remove chicken from grill and transfer to a clean plate.  Meanwhile spread mustard onto the tops and bottoms of each bun and grill, mustard side down, until lightly toasted (about 1-2 minutes).  Place chicken/ham/cheese onto each bun and serve immediately with additional mustard, mayo, lettuce, and tomatoes (or whatever toppings you prefer). 

Makes 4 sandwiches.  Enjoy! 

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Creamy Spinach Lasagne Rolls

Monday, August 1, 2011

Lasagne is a great comfort food. What's not to like with all that cheesy goodness?! I once saw a recipe for rolled up lasagne years ago and instantly got a creative thought in my head. Why not do spinach lasagne rolls with an Alfredo sauce instead of a red sauce? Thus my spinach lasagne rolls were born. I love the cuteness of the individual lasagne rolls. These not only taste great but are healthy as well.

Click here for printable recipe. 

The Ingredients:

For the white sauce:
1/4 c butter
1/4 c flour
2 c milk
garlic powder
to taste
dash of nutmeg

For the lasagne roll-ups:
1 box (16-oz.) lasagne noodles
1 box (10-oz.) frozen spinach (thawed and drained)
2 cartons (15-oz. each) Ricotta cheese
2 c shredded mozzarella cheese
2/3 c Parmesan cheese
2 eggs
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
3 tsp Italian seasoning
to taste
dash nutmeg

(This will make about 2 dozen lasagne rolls. Cut it in half if needed)

The Directions:
Prepare pot to boil water for the lasagne noodles. Add oil so as to prevent the noodles from sticking. Cook the noodles just to the point where they are bendable. Do not cook too long or they will fall apart when you try to get them out of the pan. When the noodles are done cooking, arrange in a row on parchment paper.

While water is boiling and noodles are cooking, make the white sauce. Melt butter in non stick skillet and then sprinkle on flour. Whisk to make a smooth paste. Add 1 cup of milk and whisk until smooth. Gradually add more milk until you have reached the desired thickness. Add garlic and nutmeg and stir. Keep warm until needed stirring occasionally.
For more in depth tutorial of how to make a white sauce go here.

Spray the bottom of a 9x13 pan with butter spray and spread a thin layer of the white sauce on the bottom.
Mix together the ricotta, 1 1/2 c of mozzarella, and Parmesan cheese. Mix in eggs and seasonings. This is what you could use if you were to make cheese filled jumbo shells or cheese cannelloni or the cheese mixture for regular lasagne. OK. Moving on...
Mix the drained spinach with the cheese mixture.
Spoon spinach and cheese mixture onto cooked lasagne noodles. Spread it down the middle of the noodle, but not too thick. Go about 3/4 the way down the noodle.Roll up the noodles starting from the top trying to keep as much mixture inside the roll. Place rolled up lasagne noodle, seam side down, in the pan on top of the sauce.
Cover with Alfredo sauce and sprinkle remaining cheese on top.Cover with foil and bake in 350 degree oven for 1/2 hour. Remove foil and bake another 15 minutes or until cheese on top is completely melted.


About This Blog

My name is Lara and while I'm definitely not a gourmet cook, I do love preparing tasty, healthy meals for my family. Finding new recipes to try and sharing the ones we've already fallen in love with is a passion I've had since college and the reason why I've started this blog! With five kids, I'm usually in a hurry, so you'll find most of these recipes kid friendly and simple to make.

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