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Quick and easy

By Angie Sutton

www.mothersapronstrings.com

Sometimes I find myself in a groove when it comes to originality in the kitchen. It’s easy to make those “go to” recipes that you know your family will like. But every now and then you have to exercise your creativity and try a few new recipes! The key is to keep it simple when you’re pulling together something new on a weeknight. Sharing recipes with friends can save you time and potential dinner drama if things don’t go well with an untested recipe. In our home the challenge is finding dinner solutions that make the palates of kids of all ages, including two 18-month olds, happy. Here are a few quick and easy recipes that inspired me this past week.


Funfetti Dip with Graham Cracker Dunkers

1 box Funfetti cake mix
2 c. prepared whipped topping
2 c. vanilla-flavored yogurt
Multi-colored chocolate sprinkles
Graham crackers or sticks, animal crackers or vanilla wafers

In a large bowl mix cake mix, whipped topping and yogurt until completely blended and smooth. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.


Tater Tot Taco Salad

2 to 3 c. frozen tater tots
1 lb. ground beef
1 pkg. taco seasoning
1 c. cheddar cheese
1/4 c. sliced ripe olives
1 to 2 c. shredded lettuce
1/2 c. taco sauce
1/4 c. sour cream

Bake tater tots according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a skillet, brown beef until no longer pink and stir in taco seasoning. Prepare toppings. Assemble the taco salad by placing tots on the bottom and topping with beef and then remaining toppings.


Maple Pretzel Chicken

4 boneless chicken skinless chicken breasts
1 egg
1/2 c. maple pancake syrup
1 1/2 c. prepackaged crunchy pretzel coating
1/4 c. vegetable oil

Pound chicken flat to 1/2-inch thick. In a bowl, whisk egg and syrup until combined. Spread pretzels on a plate. Dip chicken in syrup mixture and then coat with pretzel coating on both sides. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook chicken in oil 7 minutes on each side or until juices run clear. Cook time depends on size of chicken pieces.


Oven-Baked Burgers

1/2 c. steak sauce
1 package crunchy pretzel coating mix, divided
1 lb. ground beef
4 hamburger buns
Lettuce, tomatoes, pickles

In a medium-sized bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of coating mix with the steak sauce. Add beef and mix well. Shape into four evenly-sized burgers. Dip both sides of the burger in remaining coating and press coating into patty. Bake at 350 F for 20 minutes, flipping half-way through. Juices will run clear and internal temperature will read 160 F.


Slow Cooker Turkey Breast

1 turkey breast (6 to 7 lbs.)
2 Tbsp. butter, softened
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1 (14.5 oz.) can chicken broth
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. cold tap water

Remove turkey from packaging and remove gravy packet if included. Rub turkey with softened butter and place in 6-qt. slow cooker. Pour chicken broth over turkey. In a small bowl, combine the rosemary, thyme, garlic powder and pepper; sprinkle over turkey evenly. Cover and cook on low for 5 to 6 hours or until tender. Remove to a serving tray. To make gravy, skim fat from cooking juices and discard. Put remaining juice into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Combine cornstarch and cold water until smooth; gradually stir into the pan. Bring back to a boil and cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.


Love your leftovers!

Who doesn’t love leftovers during the holidays? Grabbing a little turkey for a sandwich on day two or eating pumpkin pie for breakfast is appealing. But while leftovers can make a quick and tasty meal, it’s important to help keep your household safe from food poisoning this season by following these guidelines from the USDA.

Promptly refrigerate or freeze perishable leftovers

Illness-causing bacteria can grow in perishable foods within two hours when left out of the refrigerator. Bacteria spread fastest at temperatures between 40 F and 140 F, so chilling food safely reduces the risk of foodborne illness. Note the time you set out the buffet and be sure to refrigerate promptly after eating. Place leftovers in shallow containers and refrigerate (40 F or below) or freeze cooked poultry and stuffing within two hours after cooking.

Know how long to keep your leftovers

You can’t tell just by looking at leftovers or smelling a refrigerated food item whether harmful bacteria has started growing in it. Use refrigerated leftovers within three to four days and frozen food within four months.

Reheat leftovers

thoroughly

When reheating leftovers, be sure they reach 165 F. Always use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of your food. Reheat sauce, soup and gravy by bringing them to a rolling boil.

Cover leftovers to reheat to retain moisture and ensure food will heat all the way through. Thaw frozen leftovers safely in the refrigerator or the microwave. When thawing leftovers in a microwave, continue to heat it until it reaches 165 F when measured with a food thermometer. No time to thaw? It is safe to reheat frozen leftovers without thawing, either in a saucepan or microwave (in the case of a soup or stew) or in the oven or microwave (for casseroles). Reheating will take longer in this case.

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