Food From Home

Cooking at home for fun, health and frugality!

Taco Casserole

This taco casserole recipe is based on a post on the Mothering message board from March 2007.  The topic of discussion was cheap meals. I actually found the thread even after all this time and there are lots of good ideas.  I’ve adapted the recipe a bit.

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Taco Casserole

1 can black beans, drained
1 cup frozen corn
1 can diced tomatoes
2 c cooked rice
1/4 c salsa
1/3 c taco seasoning
1/4 c water
1 c shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease an 8″ x 8″ casserole dish. Dump all ingredients except cheese into dish and stir well. Sprinkle top with cheese.  Bake 25-30 minutes.

You can serve it with chips, salsa, sour cream, jalapenos, etc if you like.

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Classic Baked Macaroni And Cheese

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People have been eating macaroni and cheese for a long time. It first appeared in a modern cookbook in 1769.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macaroni_and_cheese
There are tons of recipes for this dish and people can have very strong feelings.
Growing up we never had boxed macaroni and cheese at my house. My mom added cubes of Velvetta cheese, milk and pepper to cooked macaroni. (I would steal cubes of cheese.) When I got older I started to dislike the taste of Velvetta cheese product so had to find a recipe for this classic comfort food that I could enjoy.
From the 1946 Fannie Farmer’s Boston Cooking School cookbook via http://www.food.com/recipe/fannie-farmers-classic-baked-macaroni-cheese-135350 comes my favorite mac and cheese. I use just 2 c of regular milk instead of milk and cream and add 1/2 tsp onion powder and 1/4 tsp dry ground mustard.

Classic Baked Macaroni and Cheese

8 ounce dry macaroni
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp dry ground mustard
2 cups cheddar cheese
1/2 cup panko crumbs, buttered

Preheat oven to 400°F .Cook and drain macaroni according to package directions; set aside. In a pan melt butter over medium heat.Add flour mixed with salt, pepper, onion powder and mustard powder. Whisk until well blended. Pour milk in gradually while stirring. Bring to boiling and cook until thickened stirring constantly about10 minutes. Add shredded cheddar little by little and cook until cheese melts. Stir sauce and macaroni together and put in 8″ baking dish. Sprinkle top with buttered crumbs. Bake 20 minutes until the top is golden brown. 4-5 servings.

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Falafel

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Falafel is a ball or patty made from chickpeas and spices and fried. It is a middle Eastern food and typically would be served in a pita with lettuce, tomato and a yogurt or tahini sauce.

I live in small town Kansas. I can’t go out and buy falafel at a restaurant. I have tried to make falafel at home several times somewhat unsuccessfully. I really feel it has become something of a quest. We got a falafel mix once that you just added water to. That was not great. I’ve tried a few recipes and the taste would be good but they would fall apart. Last night I tried again and was pretty successful. So successful that Amethesto devoured all the falafel. If you have been reading this blog you might have noticed that my daughter is not an adventurous eater… some might even call her picky.

I looked at several falafel recipes on the internet and noticed a few were refrigerating or even  putting the batter in the freezer for a time before cooking. Some added flour and some had eggs.  Some recipes insisted that you absolutely must start with dried chickpeas and soak and cook them but other recipes did use canned which is what I had.

My inspiration recipes are http://allrecipes.com/recipe/25309/seans-falafel-and-cucumber-sauce/  and http://www.marthastewart.com/349175/falafel


Falafel

15 oz can chickpeas, drained

1 onion

1 T dried parsley

2 cloves garlic

2 eggs

2 tsp cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp lemon juice

1/2 c flour

1/2 c bread crumbs

cooking oil (I used peanut)

In a food processor, combine all ingredients except oil. Puree until it is a thick paste consistency.  Freeze batter 20 minutes or refrigerate an hour or more. Heat 1- 2″ of cooking oil over medium high heat to 350 F. Drop 1 tablespoon size portions of batter into the hot oil. Cook until browned on both sides.


Verdict:

I didn’t make a sauce or have pita bread. We just had these plain with some Greek rice on the side. The outside of the falafel was brown and crispy and the inside was soft and fluffy. They held together very well this time. I think I got about 24 falafel balls so maybe 3-6 servings.  My family loved them. No leftovers!

 

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Homemade CoCo Wheats Mix

A few years ago someone gave us a lot of farina (cream of wheat). I appreciated it because money was tight but my family didn’t like it much. They did like the store bought chocolate hot cereal from Malt O Meal.
I found a recipe to make a copycat mix for that and it is pretty close. It is inexpensive, keeps for a long time and uses common ingredients.

Homemade CoCo Wheats Mix
14 oz farina
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c unsweetened baking cocoa powder
1/2 T salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Mix everything together and store in an air tight container.

To cook 1 serving:
Boil 1 cup of water in pot on stove. Add 3 T of mix while stirring. Reduce heat and simmer while stirring 3 minutes or until desired thickness is reached.

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Amethesto likes a bit of milk stirred into her cooked coco wheats.

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Baked Spaghetti Olivetti

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I found this old recipe the other day for spaghetti olivetti. I remember it was one of the first things I cooked for Hagbard before we got married 16 years ago. We haven’t had it for years so I decided to make it and see if we still liked it.

I don’t know where I originally got the recipe but I found it on Food.com when I searched for it. http://www.food.com/recipe/baked-spaghetti-olivetti-63612 I made a few changes like reducing the cheese and skipping the oil and salt in the pasta water.

Baked Spaghetti Olivetti

6 oz dry spaghetti

6 oz. muenster cheese, shredded

6 oz. green olives, sliced

6 oz black olives, sliced

1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese

4 c spaghetti sauce

1/4 c dried parsley

Cook the spaghetti about 1/2 the time the package calls for. Drain. Mix with sauce. Mix cheeses and parsley together. In a greased baking dish layer 1/2 of spaghetti, 1/2 of cheese and 1/2 of olives. Layer the rest of spaghetti, olives and cheese. Bake 25-30 minutes.

Makes 5-6 servings

Verdict:

Hagbard- It was tasty.

Amethesto- It was okay. (She picked out the green olives)

Lounmoun- I think it was pretty good but in future I would probably just mix the olives with the spaghetti  and sauce and just put all of the cheese on top instead of trying to do layers. Everything got separated and mixed up when served anyway.

 

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Cheesy Black Beans And Rice

Beans and rice are great kitchen staples and an easy meatless meal. For tonight’s dinner I combined two recipes. I opted to make a less spicy version as some members of my family prefer milder food. Adjust spices to taste.

http://www.food.com/recipe/treebeards-red-beans-and-rice-121498

http://www.sheknows.com/food-and-recipes/articles/973017/cheesy-mexican-rice-and-beans?adbpl=PIN&adbpr=sheknows.com&adbpi=973017

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Cheesy Black Beans And Rice

2 c cooked rice

2 T cooking oil

1 onion, chopped

2 stalks of celery, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 c frozen corn

1 1/2 c water or broth

1 tsp salt

3/4 tsp dried thyme

3/4 tsp dried oregano

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp chili powder

1/4 tsp cumin

1 bay leaf

15 oz canned black beans, drained and rinsed

10 oz can diced tomatoes

1/4 c salsa

1 1/2 c shredded cheddar

Heat oil in pan over medium high heat. Add onion, celery, garlic, and corn. Cook until onions are translucent. Add water or broth and salt, thyme, oregano, cayenne pepper, chili powder, cumin and bay leaf. Add black beans, tomatoes and salsa. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Remove bay leaf and stir in cooked rice and 1 cup of cheese. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 c of cheese on top and let it get melty.

Verdict:

Hagbard and I enjoyed this version of beans and rice. It was very easy to put together.

3 Comments »

Lasagna Zucchini Boats

I’m pretty new to eating zucchini. We never had it in my home growing up. I was aware of it but it just wasn’t something I made an effort to try until a few years ago. Now I’m thrilled with this versatile vegetable and love to find new ways to eat it.

My recipe for today is this-http://www.cookingclassy.com/2015/06/lasagna-zucchini-boats/

I was excited to try this recipe for lasagna zucchini boats. I know lasagna is in the name but it is more like manicotti or stuffed shells to me. I  followed the recipe except made my sauce meatless.

The verdict:

Hagbard- Very good. Would eat again.

Amethesto- <scraped off cheese and ate it, scooped out filling and left most of it and all of the zucchini on plate>  Not a fan.

Lounmoun- I liked it. It was easy and pretty quick to prepare. It was also fairly low calorie.

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Fassolatha- Greek Bean Soup

Everyone in my house really likes Fassolatha. It is one of the soups we have in regular rotation. Since it uses dry beans, simple ingredients and no meat it is very economical and accessible to make. I have also seen it spelled fasolatha or fasolada.

I first made this soup after a death in the family 9 years ago when we had a lot of sudden house guests to feed and some were vegetarian. This soup was great for a large group and was warm and comforting. It reheats and freezes well.

Fassolatha

1/2 lb dry white beans- Great Northern, cannellini or Navy

8 c water

2 bay leaves

2- 3 oz carrots, sliced or chopped

1 large onion, chopped

5 stalks of celery, chopped (about 2 c)

1 can diced tomato

3 T – 1/2 c olive oil- to taste)

1 1/2 tsp salt- or to taste

1 tsp ground black pepper- or to taste

parsley, chopped

3 T lemon juice- optional

Rinse and soak dry beans at least 8 hours in a large pot of cold water. Drain.

Add 8 c of water to pot along with bay leaves. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer  1 hour. Remove bay leaves.

Add chopped carrots, onions, celery and simmer 1 hour longer. Add tomato, salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon juice. I use about 3 T olive oil.

Serve warm with feta cheese, olives and crusty bread.  Makes about 10 servings

I have made this soup in the slow cooker. I just dumped everything in at the beginning after soaking and draining the beans and cooked it on low 8 hours.

 

 

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Meal Planning: Meatless May

It is 2:42 AM. It has been pouring rain all night and I’m awake making sure my basement doesn’t flood. Since I am up I decided to tackle meal planning for next month. We decided as a family to have meatless dinners in May even though we are not vegetarians. Just an experiment to see what it does to our budget and also to show Amethesto that there are lots of meatless meal options that are not weird or boring.
I started by making a list of meatless dishes we already have had and adding a few new things. Amethesto is very anti-tofu and I’m not really a fan of it either so no tofu dishes. My next step was to decide a few categories or themes like breakfast for dinner, soup, pasta, rice. That helps to narrow down the choices as I can quickly find 4 dishes to fit those catergories. Then I just fill in the rest.

Here are my 28 dinners for May:

1. Eggs, hashbrowns, fruit
2. Black bean and rice soup
3. Stuffed shells, salad
4. Cheesy broccoli rice casserole
5. Mexican pizza
6. Batsaria
7. Vegetarian shepherd’s pie
8. Baked strawberry cheesecake oatmeal
9. Lentil soup, bread
10. Baked spaghetti olivetti
11. Black bean empanadas, salad
12. Falafel, Greek rice
13. Mac & cheese, green beans
14. Tator tot nachos
15. Pancakes, fruit
16. Tomato soup , grilled cheese sandwich
17. Broccoli bowtie pesto pasta, garlic bread
18. Beans and rice, cornbread
19. Lasagna zucchini boats
20. Greek potato, zucchini and bean stew
21. Coconut rice, veggie eggrolls
22. Coco wheats, fruit
23. Cheese soup, beer bread
24. Tortellini, salad
25. Veggie burgers, baked potato
26. Cheese ravioli, broccoli and mushrooms
27. Mujaddara, salad
28. Taco casserole

Some recipes originally had meat but I am leaving it out or replacing it with something like beans.

Recipes and details to be posted as we have things. Check back throughout the month!

4 Comments »

Family Favorite Meatballs

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I’ve been using the same meatball recipe for 6 years now. It is so tasty and definitely a favorite for my family.
Inspiration recipe-> http://www.food.com/recipe/kittencals-italian-melt-in-your-mouth-meatballs-69173
Tonight I am using jarred sauce. You should have about 5-6 cups of sauce to cook the meatballs in. I have baked the meatballs in the oven before and they are okay that way but are really best when cooked in the sauce.
I have used mixtures of ground beef, ground pork or sausage. If you use seasoned sausage you might want to use less salt and seasonings. I have not tried ground turkey. Tonight I am only using ground beef.

Meatballs
1 lb ground beef
1 egg, beaten
1/3 c milk
1/4 c parmesan cheese
1/3 c panko crumbs
2 T minced garlic
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp dried oregano

Start warming sauce on the stove. Mix all ingredients together well in a large bowl. Shape into 1″ balls. Drop meatballs into simmering sauce and cook 20 minutes. Do not stir during that 20 minutes!
Stir and simmer 20 minutes longer. Serve alone, with pasta, or on a roll with mozzarella. Freezes well.

To bake meatballs: Heat oven to 350°F. Bake meatballs on a baking sheet about 25 minutes. They will be drier than the meatballs cooked in sauce. Add to sauce or have them alone.

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