Most of us are busy throughout the year but with the holidays coming we sometimes need a little extra help in keeping up with our duties.  These are a few of my favorite quick and easy dinners to do, just that.

Chicken Pizza Casserole:

Line an oven safe casserole dish or pizza pan with frozen chicken nuggets, get them as close as possible. Then pour a can of tomato sauce over the nuggets. Layer in about ¾ cup of mozzarella cheese and your favorite veggie toppings*. Cover tightly, with foil.

If you are going to use within 48 hours, place it your fridge until needed, then bake covered at 450 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove the foil, and bake until the cheese has melted and slightly browns.

*Cut your veggies into bit sizes for even cooking. A Jar of pizza sauce can be used instead of the tomato sauce for extra flavor.

Cheesy Mac and Beans Casserole:

Cook one or two packages of macaroni and cheese, depending on the size of your family, following box instructions. When done, place in oven safe large bowl or casserole dish. Make a dimple or path in the macaroni and cheese then pour in a can of drained dark kidney beans. Chop a large onion and do a quick fry with 1 tablespoon of oil, in a medium skillet until the onion is almost cooked. Spread the partially cooked onions over the cheese and bean mixture. Cover mixture with about 1 ½ cups of chopped chicken, ham or grilled beef, spreading it evenly. Cover with foil.

Cover your casserole dish with foil, then place in fridge until needed or freeze for later use. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 325 degrees and bake for 20 minutes, then remove the cover and sprinkle about ½ cup of shredded Cheddar cheese over the top and bake another 10 minutes until the cheese has melted and turned a light brown.

Serve with a tossed green salad for a nourishing quick meal. 

These two easy dinners, can be time savers for any night of the week.  They are delicious enough for company or just for family night.

More tips for easy dinners can be found at  http://hassieskitchentable.com/whats-dinner/

To me, there is nothing better, than opening my front door and smelling the aroma of my dinner cooking in my slow cooker or crock pot.
When I had five children at home, it was the most used cooking utensil in the kitchen, and still is. Although I am a single person now, I still use my tried and true friend, the crock pot.

Over the years, I have found, these few tips improve my crock pot cooking joy.

cold weather and hot food
[1] Using the right size crock pot, for the job.  I have three different size crock pot cookers, because I never want to over fill the cooking insert.  It would only cause spillage or under cooked food.
[2] Planning ahead by doing the chopping of your vegetables the night before and storing them in the refrigerator is the secret to quickly getting the meal together before leaving for work.  DO NOT, store the vegetables in the crock pot insert.  Starting with a cold insert will only add to the cooking time. So store the chopped veggies in an air tight container overnight, then place them in the cooker in the morning.
[3] You should prepare your meat before hand, too.  Remember you are cooking with low heat, so you do not want to have you meat to be too thick, as it may not reach a safe cooking temperature.  A piece of meat no more than 2 inches thick, should work great.  Keeping your whole chicken or chicken parts to about 2-3 pounds works well, also.  Do a spice rub on your meat of choice, cover or wrap, then place it in the refrigerator with your vegetables.
[4] DO NOT lift the lid on your crock pot, until you are within the last 30-45 minutes of the cooking time.  It will only release the heat and interupt the cooking process.
You can check for doneness or add spices in the last 30 minutes of so but at any other time, you are doing more harm than good.
[5] If time permits, add more flavor to your meal by searing your beef.  Heat a heavy skillet to hot, add a tablespoon of oil, then place the meat in the hot skillet, listen for the sizzle.  Cook on both sides about 1-3 minutes each, depending on the thickness of your meat.  Then place the piece of meat into your crock pot cooker and add any juices from the skillet before placing the lid on the slow cooker and starting your cooking time.  You will get a richer broth and fuller flavor from the beef by doing this extra step.

Shopping during back to school savings time, can mean large saving for the family, not just for the children that are going back to school.  It seems, most stores use this time of year as a way to get you to buy more by offering you some great saving on household items.   If that is true in your area, now is the time to be looking at bedding, furniture, electronic items plus home office supplies.  

back to school savings

I do my best to buy my yearly office needs during back to school savings time.  This week alone, I can find packages of 10 pencils for 50 cents, 10 pens for 75 cents and 3 reams of computer paper for less than $10.00. All of these on top of writing tablets, markers, other computer supplies and in most places, even the computer will sell for its lowest price of the year.  

Back to School savings are not limited to office supplies or what we think of as things just for the everyday school use. Even when you do not have school age children, back to school saving time, should be an exciting time of the year for a frugal shopper. 

If you have been thinking it’s time to redo a bed or bathroom, now is the time to get around to it.  Department stores will be offering deluxe bedding at regular bedding prices.  Towels and matching wash cloths will be offered in all the latest colors and sizes at their best price of the year.

You should be able to find small refrigerators, office furniture, and microwaves at remarkable savings, too.

It’s not to early to think about holiday shopping either. Make your list of who has been naughty or nice and start working on it, before the prices go back up.  So don’t be shy, read those sale papers, cut out those coupons and go buy, while the back to school savings prices are right for you and your budget.

Cooking Summer Corn

Summer Corn

Summer Corn Makes Any Meal Complete

If you have never tried cooking your fresh summer corn on the cob in your microwave, well, it might be time to try it. Your corn will taste delicious and keep it’s beautiful coloring, too.

It’s simple and easy to do. Pull back the shucks, remove as many of the silks as you can, by gently rubbing a damp cloth over the corn. Pull the shucks back up over the corn and completely cover in plastic wrap. Cook 6-8 minutes on high for 2 pieces of corn, turning every couple of minutes, so all sides are in the up position at least once.  If you have not done this before you may have to try a couple before you get the texture and taste that suits you.

Roasting Summer Corn On A Grill:

Cookouts are a family favorite all year round but especially in the summer time.  Corn is one of the easiest veggies to make, to go along with all your grilled meats.

Shuck and remove the silk from 6 ears of summer corn. Lightly wash each ear.  You will need six 12 inch pieces of foil to wrap your corn cobs.  Lay each of them on one sheet of foil and spread your favorite topping around the cob, making sure all kernels have been coated.  Cover the corn cob with the foil by rolling and twisting the ends to make a package. Lay the packages over the indirect heat side of the grill and close the grill’s lid.  Grill for about 15 minutes, turning every 3-4 minutes.  Take care when opening the package and not burn yourself from the steam and hot liquid.

Toppings For Your Summer Corn

[1] Place an equal amount of butter and cream cheese into a bowl and mix until you have a soft spreadable mixture.   Add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of Chili Powder while stirring.  Spread on your hot corn. Leave at room temperature when serving.  Refrigerate between uses.

[2] 1 teaspoon of finely chopped fresh basil, 2 teaspoons of grated fresh garlic and  3 Tablespoons of Virgin Olive Oil.  Place all ingredients in a lidded jar [mine is an old jelly jar] and shake to incorporate the flavors.  Brush the mixture over your hot freshly cooked summer corn for an unusual favorable taste.

Corn is the vegetable that is served most often, all over the world, with our meals but there is no match for the flavor of fresh summer corn, straight from the farmer or you and your home garden.

No matter the size of your garden, you will always have some excess.  You can give it away, just let it go to waste or you can learn to preserve it by canning.  Easy canning is one way to stock your pantry with foods that you love and had a hand in growing.  If you are new to the idea of canning and preserving, hopefully, this article will give you an overview of what the process is all about and help you understand how you can preserve delicious food items to eat later.

Canning Your Fresh Food

What is Canning?

Canning is what we call the process of preserving foods in glass jars for eating later. We all realize that our Summer fare won’t last forever, so learning how to preserve by canning is one way to keep enjoying the taste of summer berries and vegetables throughout the winter months. Canning was the main way people living in remote locations in the early days were able to survive the long harsh winters, when getting to a grocery store or trading post, wasn’t possible.

The Benefits of Canning

Canning does take a while to do until you get the hang of the process. So, why can at all? Canning offers many benefits for you and your family.

  • Canning is economical

It saves money on groceries. When you want strawberry preserves or green beans, you go to the pantry instead of heading to the grocery store.

  • Canning cuts out food waste

Fruits and vegetables that you have grown in your garden don’t have to be given away or thrown away because you can’t eat them all before they spoil.

  • Good for you

Canning uses the natural fresh ingredients without preservatives or additives. This is better for our bodies, and also, allows the natural flavor of good food comes through for a better tasting meal.

 

How An Organized Food Pantry Can Make Life Easier.

The key to a well-stocked and useful food pantry is knowing where everything is and being able to find it when you need it. How many times a day do you reach for something only to find that it is expired or it’s left open and lost what ever quality you needed for your cooking? This is a waste of your food, time and money.

Here are 4 Tips for organizing your food pantry and never wasting your food again.

  • First Clean it out:

Pull it all out and examine every box, bag or can of what ever you have in it, carefully. Check for old dates and broken sealed packages. Keep in mind that most can goods are still good for up to a year after their sale date. You will want to place them up front when you rotate your stock supply, so you will be sure to use them first. Then place the rest of the food behind those items, by their expiration date, with the newest dates at the back. Then all you have to do is place new buys behind to keep your pantry up to date.

  • Make a list:

While you have your food items out, make a list of how many you have of each item. Post it on the door facing inside. Then when it comes time to make your shopping list you can easily tell what you have on hand. This will stop the over buying of items, such as having 6 cans of corn and not one can of peas.

  • Invest in Plastic storage containers

Dry ingredients don’t usually come in resealable packages (i.e., sugar, flour). Store them in plastic containers to save on space as well as keep them fresh. Include a scoop [my scoop is a measuring cup] for easy dispensing. This method works well for dry cereals, pastas and beans as well.**

  • Label and organize your shelves:

It doesn’t help much if you do not label the containers with, the name of the product and it’s expiration date. It will save you a lot of bother and headaches later on. Designate a place for each type of food. Such as cereal, cans, jars and other items. Keep your baking items, [flour, sugar, cornmeal, etc] on one shelf. Your snacks, should be, where the younger children can reach them easily so no accidents involving glass containers could happen. Keep your small appliances on the higher shelves or items you rarely use, such as holiday cake pans, or Popsicle making supplies. For foods that you use often, make sure they are within reach and not stuck behind something else.

Each time you take out a can mark it off the list on your door, or when you see an empty spot add that item to your shopping list. This way will be easier to tell when you are running low and need to restock.

An organized pantry serves a lot of different purposes for you and your family plus makes it easier to maintain an organized kitchen.

**My plastic containers came from my local sub shop. I noticed that their supplies was delivered in 1 gallon containers, so I asked, “What do you do with those when they are empty?” I was told they just threw them out so I ask if they would keep me a few and I would pick them up two days later. When I came back, they had 10 waiting for me. I had to clean off labels and soak them in baking soda, it rid them of the pickling smell but I have been using these free products for over 6 years now and they have worked out great. Before you buy, you might want to ask at your local sub shop or restaurants.

Summer time is here, which means, it is time to bring out the grill and get busy grilling.

The easiest grill to use, by far, is the gas grill but if you are wanting more flavor in your food, choose a charcoal grill for your grilling needs.

Smokers are especially nice because you can also control the flavor by changing the type of wood or wood chips you use. They are good if you want to slow cook your meat.

If you want to cook something a little quicker, you may just want to stick with the charcoal grill.
summer time and grilling
Charcoal grills can offer you the best in grilling, whether it be a large juicy steak or a pot of beans.  The offer direct and indirect heat sources, which means, if your grill is large enough you can cook the whole meal at one time.

Two of my favorite easy grilling recipes are:

  • Mrs Dash Chicken

6 Boneless Chicken Thighs

1 Teaspoon Garlic, minced

2 Tablespoons of Mrs Dash, original

Using a large plastic bag, add all ingredients and shake until the chicken pieces are coated in the spices and garlic.  Place on a well greased medium hot grill, skin side down and cook for about 4 minutes, depending on the size of your thighs.  Turn over once, the meat will let you know when, by the way if releases from the grill.  Do not force it, if it sticks, let it be for another minute then try turning it again.

Cook on the second side for about 3 minutes, then remove.  Allow it to rest about 5 minutes before eating, so all the natural juices can soak back into the meat.  Always use tongs when turning your meat to keep the natural moisture inside your meat pieces.

  • Grilled Corn On The Cob

6 Fresh Corn on the Cob, washed and cleaned

6 Tablespoons of soft Butter, infused with fresh basil and cilantro. [Add about one teaspoon of each, chopped fine to the butter]

Cover each corn cob with 1 tablespoon of the infused butter, then wrap in foil.

When all 6 have been wrapped, lay them on the indirect heat side of the grill, then close the lid.  Depending on the size of your corn, it will take between 15 and 20 minutes for them to cook.  Turn them every 5 minutes to give all the corn a chance to bathe in the melted butter.

Unwrap and eat with your chicken for a delightful meal. Grilling with friends and family is always a great way to fellowship and grow that lovin feeling.

Healthy Organic Juicing has many benefits.

Most of us, at one time or another are looking for ways to eat healthier. Here’s a way to do just that, even if you do not have time for a good healthy organic meal, you will have time for healthy organic juicing.

You will need:

1/2 of an eight inch cucumber, halved length ways, seeded
3 six inch young tender carrots, washed and peeled
3 celery stalks, washed and chopped, leaves included
1 medium apple, cored and cut into 4 pieces
healthy organic juicing

Add all ingredients in a juicer and turn on high until you have a drinkable mix. If need be add a little apple juice.

Fruit and vegetable juices are great for your overall health, especially the organic ones. At first it takes a little time to get used to the taste, but stick to it and eventually you will be enjoying, not only the health benefits, but the taste of success.

Fruit & Veggie Facts:

All of these fruits and vegetables have great benefits for your health, when eaten daily or at least 4 times a week.
Cucumbers are a strong diuretic and may help lower blood pressure. Ladies, it’s perfect for when your body is retaining water.
Celery contains healthy compounds which helps regulate your blood pressure, also. It too, is a good diuretic and as everyone knows Carrots are great for the your skin and eyes with their vitamin K and beta carotene.

You will want to use the freshest product you can get to insure that you get all the vitamins available in using them. The deeper the color of your choice products the more benefits you will find you get from using them. If you have the space in your yard to grow your own, you can become the supplier of your healthy organic juicing foods.

Juice according to the juicer’s instructions and enjoy drinking your way to a better you through organic juicing!

Home cooking can make a difference in your life and food budget.  These days, people are turning to their home stoves and cookware rather than dialing up for take-out or delivery, or heading to a restaurant.  People choose to eat at home because they think it’s healthier and better for the family, and finances are only part of that. Regardless, cooking at home can make all the difference. Here’s how.

Home Cooking

  • Known Ingredients

When you  do home cooking for your own meals, you know what is going into your recipes. Even if you don’t know the number of calories or the sodium content,  you do know you can control the sodium, sugar, and caloric content just by using the correct ingredients when you cook your own food. Restaurant food often has many different additives in it, not to mention high amounts of salt and sugar.

When you are at home cooking, you aren’t fooled by clever names or labels  that some restaurants place in their menus, to get you to think they are thinking of your health.

  • Less Time Than You Think

Lots of people are fear the prospect of cooking at home because  most think it takes to much time to cook and clean up. But think about this, by the time you get everyone dressed and out the door, 30 minutes have gone by.  Traveling will take another 15-30 minutes.  Finding a seat and ordering, will add another 20 minutes, then the wait for it to be cooked and brought to your table will add 20 minutes to an hour.   You will have spent  anywhere from 90 minutes to 2 hours, getting ready and waiting to eat.

Most home cooked meals take from 30 to 45 minutes to prepare,  then you eat and maybe you will have a 30 minute clean up period but you can share that with the rest of the family, so it will go quicker.  Home cooking and cleaning up can be family time, too.  Time, learning how your kids day went, how your spouse cleaned their desk to get home to the family for dinner.

All in all, home cooking is more than just putting food on the table, it’s time well spent with the family.  Studies have shown that families that do home cooking, eating together and talking over their day, have less stress and strive in their daily lives.