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Friday, July 1, 2011

Necessity is the mother of all Invention....

If necessity is the mother of all invention then I have been cooking up delicious little love children all week. Not to say that I'm actually cooking children. Simply put my DH and I are trying to save money by eating at home more often and we're running in to the issue of monotony. DH and I love food, especially new kinds of food or new recipes for old favorites, so when we eat at home we get bored quickly without new recipes to try. I usually turn to, but there are some days when dinner has to come from whatever you have on hand and that can be quite a challenge. Thankfully DH and I keep a fairly well-stocked kitchen and I was recently able to put together several delicious recipes without looking up a recipe or buying a specialty item. Since they all turned out well (as made evident by the lack of leftovers) I thought I would share them here. Most of these recipes are made "to taste" so I don't give exact measurements on most sauces or spices. Experimentation is key. Please also note that I don't claim to make healthy food. These are delicious recipes that can be very heavy on the calories and fats, though not all of them are. If you're watching your weight, please keep that in mind.
Teryaki Beef and Rice
1.5 lbs stew meat or beef tips
1 bottle teryaki sauce (I like La Choy brand)
2 cups dry rice

In a large skillet or wok combine stew meat with as much teryaki sauce as you would like. While the beef cooks, prepare the rice as instructed. We prefer to use a rice cooker, which allows us to make rice without having to watch it closely.

Stir the beef over medium heat until all the meat is cooked well. Serve up the rice into a few bowls and top with meat and sauce from the pan.
Photo Courtesy of Foxxy-Sam of DeviantArt

This dish goes well with a side salad or edamame. I feel that I must point out the picture above is not one of mine. I didn't think to get a picture, but I will not be making that mistake again!

Not-Your-Momma's Green Bean Casserole
*As an explanation of this casserole: I LOVE green bean casserole. There has been more than one Thanksgiving where I ate more than half of the casserole my family put out. Once I moved out on my own I learned to make a damned good one... but it was still just a side dish. Then a coworker brought in her own version of this and I set out to make green bean casserole a main dish.

2 cans french cut green beans
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 small can chopped mushrooms
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked and cut in to bite sized pieces
1 can french fried onions
Red pepper
Chili Powder
Other spices to taste

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine both cans of green beans, both cans of soup, the can of mushrooms, the cut chicken, and fried onions to taste (keep some aside for topping). Add any spices you want to taste. Because the casserole itself has some very basic and mellow flavors, spices stand out and make for a unique casserole if you use them correctly. DH loves the kick red pepper adds and I like the taste of chili powder.

Spread the mixture in a casserole dish and place in heated oven for 20-25 minutes. Pull out and top with more fried onions, then put back in the oven for five minutes.

Because of the chicken and mushrooms this makes an excellent main dish. Pair with a light salad or veggie spread to up the nutritional value.

Cheesy Tuna Casserole (And we mean Cheesy)
1 can white chunk tuna, preferably dolphin-safe
2 cups bow tie, radiatore, egg noodle, or rotini pasta; cooked and drained (I prefer bow tie pasta)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 bag shredded cheddar cheese
1 bag shredded Monterrey jack cheese
1 container shredded Parmesan cheese (we use the really good stuff... I'm a Parmesan snob most of the time)
1 can french fried onions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

In a large mixing bowl combine cooked and drained pasta with the can of tuna, the can of soup, and your preferred amount of cheddar, Monterrey jack, and Parmesan cheese. Keep some Parmesan cheese aside for topping. Spread mixture in to casserole dish and bake in heated oven for 15-20 minutes or until warm throughout. Remove the dish from the oven and top with friend onions and more Parmesan cheese. Bake for another five minutes.

We love our salads, so you can guess what I suggest serving this with...

I hope your friends and family enjoy these recipes as much as we do. We eat them so often that I don't even have to look at the recipe card any more, and with our varied diet that is saying something!


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