Saturday, December 24, 2011

Recipes in Progress

Hello Blog Friends!

Thankyou for your patience as I develop some new recipes.  I do have 52 recipes on my Recipe Index Page for you to check out, but I am still working on new ones.  With every new recipe I try it as written.  Then I make modifications to adjust to our taste.  Then once it tastes great I make it and freeze it.   Then thaw it and cook each meal to make sure that it holds it's flavor and textures.  Some times I think I have a fabulous idea and it ends up in the trash because it did not turn out well.  I don't want to put anything on my blog until I am sure it will work fresh and frozen. 

I am very close to finishing a cranberry glaze that is sweet, sour and spicy.  My husband likes lots of crushed red pepper, but you can leave it out completely if you have sensative palates and still enjoy a lot of flavor!  It's great on chicken and pork steaks.  I can't wait to try it on a ham steak!

Next I have tinkered with a pesto stuffed chicken breast.  My husband complained that it was too bland so I have been working hard to add a little zest!  I have added Italian seasoning to spice up the chicken and topped them with buttery parmesean cheese.  The oil comes out of the pesto while the chicken is baking leaving all the sweet basil behind to flavor the breast.  I have added chopped onion on the bottom of the pan to raise the breasts up out of the oil to cut down on the fat in this recipe. 

Your last sneak peak is a curry honey mustard sauce that is fabulous on chicken!  The longer this sauce sits on the chicken the better it tastes.  I am busy brainstorming to see if there is anything else I should pair with this sauce.  Ham perhaps?  Potatoes?  Rice?  How best to capture up any extra sauce that collects in the bottom of the pan while baking?  Maybe a curry honey mustard ham and rice bake.  Ooooh, maybe with onion and broccoli.  That sounds like a winner.  I better put that on my shopping list for after Christmas. 

I appreciate all your comments and suggestions.  If you have any great ideas you'd like me to try please leave me a note on this post and I will be happy to start my research and testing.  I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas!

Take care!
Christie aka Keeza

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Hot Dog Mac and Cheese

This is a great kid friendly dinner.  You can cut the hot dogs into a size that is safe for your family.  The smaller the kids, the smaller the pieces need to be.  If you don't have any little ones in your home and you have a little more advanced palate then substitute fully cooked spicy brats for the hot dogs.  This recipe has a hidden vegetable!  I have never tried to puree cauliflower before but I learned a lot while testing this recipe.  I will gladly pass on my tips to you!   Give this recipe a try and see if anyone notices the hidden veggie.   


1 head of cauliflower                         1.98
16 oz elbow macaroni                       1.08
1/2 cup skim milk                               .20
16 oz extra sharp cheddar               4.66
1 pkg reduced fat beef hot dogs      3.98
1/2 Tbsp salt
2 tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp all purpose seasoning
sprinkle of dried parsley to garnish


Rinse the cauliflower and cut out the stem.  Take time to cut away as much of the stalks as you can as you break the cauliflower into smaller pieces.  The stalks do not puree as well as the florets.  Place in a sauce pan and cover with water.  Set over medium high heat and boil until fork tender.
Now fill a second saucepan with water and set over medium high heat to boil the macaroni.  Now shred all 16 oz of sharp cheddar cheese and set aside.  Cut the hot dogs into slices or chunks that are appropriate for your little ones.

Once the cauliflower is fork tender drain off the water and mash with a mixer.   Add the skim milk and mix a few more minutes to break the cauliflower down.
This was as smooth as I could get the cauliflower with a mixer.  Stir in 12 oz of shredded cheddar, 1/2 Tbsp salt, 2 tsp black pepper and 1 Tbsp all purpose seasoning.   Now in order to get your cheese sauce very smooth and not chunky you must puree it in the blender.  After several minutes on medium I was able to get the sauce to this consistency.
Once the macaroni has cooked for nine minutes drain the noodles and mix with the cheese cauliflower sauce.
I recommend adding the sauce a little at a time because I had a little too much sauce for my noodles.  Then stir in the slice hot dog pieces. 
Divide the mac and cheese into two 8x8" pans or one 9x13" pan. 
Top each pan with the remaining shredded cheddar and sprinkle with dried parsley.
Cover the pan with foil and label.
Freeze until ready to use.  Then defrost for two days in the fridge.  Bake 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  I was able to make two pans for $5.95 each.  Please give this recipe a try and let me know if you have any tips to get cauliflower to puree smoothly, or ideas of how to use it in more recipes.  See if your family can find the vegetable in this creamy dreamy mac and cheese!

Christie aka Keeza

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


If you are looking for an affordable recipe that feeds an army...look no further!  This is a great fall meal.  It's a combination from a bunch of different recipes for Goulash and Chili Mac.  You can spice it up with extra cayenne and send it with your husband to go up north hunting.  Or you can omit the cayenne and you have a large meal to feed a bunch of hungry kids.  You can freeze in quart containers and heat on the stove like a stew, or you can freeze it in 8x8 pans and bake in the oven as a pasta bake.  It's versatile, comforting and delicious.  I hope you give it a try.

2lbs lean ground beef                                   6.08
1 bunch green onions                                    1.00
1 green pepper                                                 .48
3 stalks celery                                                   .50
2 14.5 oz cans of Italian diced tomatoes    1.80
15 oz can tomato sauce                                    .54
1 16oz box of elbow macaroni                      1.08
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp paprika
2 Tbsp chili powder
2 tsp salt
1/2-1 tsp cayenne pepper
8 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese         2.33


Set a medium sauce pan of water over medium high heat to boil.  When boiling add the elbow macaroni and boil for 9 minutes stirring occasionally.  Drain and set aside.  Meanwhile in a large sauce pan brown the ground beef and drain.  Chop the green onions, green pepper and celery.  Add the vegetables to the pan that you used to brown the ground beef.  Cook for 3-5 minutes or until just starting to get tender.  Turn off the heat.
In the pan with the vegetables add the drained ground beef, 2 cans of diced tomatoes (drained), tomato sauce, 2 Tbsp paprika, 2 Tbsp chili powder, 2 Tbsp sugar, 2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper.  Stir well.
When your macaroni is cooked and drained you can add it to the meat sauce.  You may need to transfer the meat sauce to a large mixing bowl if your pan is too small for the noodles and sauce.
Divide into 4 containers.  You can use 4 quart sized freezer containers or 4 8x8" pans.  I chose quart sized containers.
If you chose the 8x8" pans sprinkle the tops with shredded cheddar cheese.  Cover and label.  Once frozen and thawed bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes.  If you use quart containers freeze then thaw.  Reheat on the stove and top individual servings with cheese.

I was able to make 4 dinners for $3.45 a meal.  My husband likes his extra spicy so he adds pickled jalapenos to his bowl before eating.

Christie aka Keeza

French Onion Soup

This is a great soup to make on a cold rainy day.  It takes a long time to simmer on the stove, but you can easily get a lot done around the house while it cooks.  Carmelized onions take a long time to cook, but the flavor is worth it.  I'm sorry I lost my recipt from the grocery store, so I can't tell you how much this soup cost...but it was affordable and delicious. 


4 large yellow onions 
4 Tbsp margerine
2 tsp salt
2 tsp pepper
32 oz of beef broth
32 oz of chicken broth
1 Tbsp Worchestershire (not pictured)
1 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 tsp garlic powder (not pictured)

1 bag croutons 
grated swiss or Italian blend cheese
1 box garlic bread with cheese  


Put a large sauce pan on the stove on low heat.  Add the margerine and let it start to melt.  Peel and slice the onions into thin rings.  Cut the rings down the middle into two halves. 

Add the onions to the large sauce pan and sprinkle with 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper.  Stir well.  Keep heating the onions for one hour stirring every ten minutes. 

The onions are carmelized when they turn a nice golden brown and tasty syrupy sweet.

Add the beef broth, chicken broth, Worchestershire, thyme, garlic powder and bay leaf.  Turn the heat up to medium high heat and simmer for one hour. 

Once the soup has had an hour to reduce give it a taste.  Add 1 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of pepper if you feel like it needs more flavor. 

Turn off the heat and let soup cool.  Fill two quart containers and set aside to freeze.

 For dinner tonight fill two soup bowls with the onion soup. 

Now you have two freezer friendly soup topping options.  The first is to top the bowls with 3/4 cup croutons and 1/2 cup shredded cheese.  Then place the bowls in the oven at 450 degrees for 7 mintues to melt and brown the cheese.

The second option is to toast two slices of cheesy garlic bread in the oven according to the package directions.  Then place one slice of garlic toast in each bowl. 

We liked the crouton topping best because it is easier to spoon up than a slice of bread.  Put the leftover cheese in the freezer and the leftover croutons in the cubbord. 

We hope you like this one.  It is very filling and comforting on a cold rainy day.  You can serve with a salad or veggie sticks.


Christie aka Keeza

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Italian Chili

I came across this idea on the food network and I jumped on board!  A chili full of veggies, white beans and sausage.  Oh Yeah!  We ate our chili with garlic bread, but it would also go well with a short cut pasta or a salad. 


2 lbs Italian Sausage                        5.96
1 medium onion                                 .30
2 celery stalks                                    .20
2 large carrots                                    .20
2 green peppers                                  .96
2 cans diced tomatoes                      1.80
          with basil garlic and oregano
2 cans cannellini beans                     1.96
1 large can tomato puree                  1.24
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp ground black pepper       


Brown the Italian sausage in a pan over medium heat.  Drain off any fat or grease.
Meanwhile chop the onion, celery and green peppers.  Peel and grate the carrots.  Place all the veggies on a large soup pot or a 4 qt crock pot.
Add the browned and drained Italian sausage.  Open the cans of diced tomatoes and add to the pot.  Open and drain the cannellini beans.

Open the can of pureed or crushed tomatoes.  Add to the pot.  Sprinkle in 2 tbsp Italian seasoning, 2 tsp garlic powder and 2 tsp black pepper.  Stir well.  The mixture will be very thick like a stew.
If cooking on the stove heat over low heat stirring occasionally for 1-2 hours.  If cooking in a crock pot heat over low heat for 6 hours.  The vegetables will give off lots of liquid and the chili will loosen up as it cooks. 
When ready to serve top with Mozzarella, Parmesan and fresh parsley.
Place the remaining chili in freezer safe quart containers.  When ready to use please thaw in the fridge for two days and heat on the stove. 

I was able to make four meals for $3.16 each.  My husband liked this chili better than my classic chili.  I think it was the garlic bread on the side that won him over!  We dipped ours in the chili...delicious!

Christie aka Keeza

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Taco Pies

I set about to make some empanadas but quickly realized that my version would be very different from the original.  We ate Juanita's empanadas in Colombia and they were incredible.  I am intimidated by masrepa and aji so I used a few short cuts.  I made my fake empanadas in premade pie crusts and topped them with salsa.  One day I will be brave and venture into true empanadas, but for today this is my version called Taco Pies.  This will cut down on the hate mail significantly because I am not misrepresenting my pies as empanadas.  =)


2 lbs lean ground beef                    6.08
1 1/2 pkg taco seasoning                     .80
1 medium onion chopped                 .40
2 Roma tomatoes chopped                .45
1 green pepper  chopped                   .48
1 bunch cilantro                                  .75
8 oz cheddar cheese shredded       2.33
2 boxes refrigerated pie crust      5.00


In a large pan brown the ground beef and drain.  Stir in the chopped onion, green pepper and tomato.  Add 1/2 cup water and the 1 1/2 pkgs of taco seasoning.  Heat and stir over medium heat until well incorporated and veggies start to get tender.

Turn off heat.  Chop one large handful of cilantro leaves (about 1 cup).  Shred the cheese.  Add the cheese and cilantro to the meat mixture and stir well.  Let cool to room temperature.
Open your pie crusts and unroll one crust on the counter. 
Slice the crust down the middle to create two moon shaped pieces.
Place two heaping spoonfuls (about 1 cup) on the top half of each moon shaped pie crust. 
Dip your finger in cold water and lightly run your finger around the edges of each moon shaped crust.  Then pull the bottom of the crust up over the filling and match the edges to the top half.
Take a fork and press the seams together to seal
Place the completed taco pies on a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet in the freezer.
Freeze for one hour so the pies don't stick together.  Gently peel off parchment paper and put pies into a large freezer ziplock bag.
When ready to bake place one taco pie per person on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden brown.  You can bake these directly from frozen.  It may increase the baking time by 10 minutes, but just keep peeking until they are nice and golden.
We like to serve ours with salsa and sour cream.  This is how they look on the inside.
I'm sorry the quality of the photo is so bad.  Next time we eat them I will retake this photo and replace it.  I need a little practice on my food styling! 

We were able to make 8 taco pies for $2.04 per pie.  If you have any leftover meat mixture that doesn't fit in the pie crusts you can eat it with chips or tortillas.  Delicious!

I hope you enjoy!
Christie aka Keeza

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Chicken Sausage and Potatoes

Well this recipe is one I made up following the success of my Sausage and Peppers recipe.  My husband just raved about Sausage and Peppers and it was so easy to make.  So I brainstormed and came up with this beauty!  If you are looking for a recipe without a creamy soup base but still has a lot of flavor then this is one for you! 


2 pkg precooked chicken sausage        7.48
1 onion                                                         .30
1 lb small potatoes                                  3.00
2 yellow squash                                          .66
1 red pepper                                                 .33
1 pkg of ranch dip mix                             1.50
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp blk pepper


Wash and place potatoes in a medium sauce pan.  I was excited to try this bag of tri-color fingerling potatoes.   Cover with water.  Bring to a boil.  Boil for 20 minutes or until fork tender.  Drain and let cool.

Meanwhile peel and slice the yellow squash.  Slice the onion.  Seed and chop the red pepper into large chunks.  Place these veggies in a medium mixing bowl. 

Slice the chicken sausage into bit size pieces.  Set aside. 

Once potatoes have cooled add them to the bowl of veggies.  Pour olive oil on top.  Sprinkle with the package of ranch dip and pepper.  Stir gently with a spoon or mix with your hands. 

Place 1/3 of the ranch and olive oil coated veggies into 3 8x8" pans.  Place 1/3 of the chicken sausage on top. 

Cover with foil and label. 

Freeze until needed.  When preparing to eat this meal please defrost a pan in the fridge for two days.  Then bake covered at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  You can remove the foil and bake for 5 more minutes at 400 degrees if you'd like the sausage and potatoes to brown a little bit.

The purple potatoes really freaked my husband out!  He took one to work in his leftovers and asked everyone in the shop what in the world that purple thing was.  =)  I tried to tell him it was a potato, but I don't think he was listening.  I was able to make three pans of chicken sausage with potatoes for $4.42. 

I hope you enjoy this one as much as we did!
Christie aka Keeza