Chicken and Rice Soup Casserole

So what happens when a busy Mom gets home from church with her family and has no idea what to cook for lunch?  Its called you look through the refrigerator and make up a recipe out of what you have!  And this…..was the making of Chicken and Rice Soup Casserole!

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So I started with a bowl of cooked, de-boned chicken, a bowl of leftover cheese dip, opened can of tomato sauce, can of beans (any kind would work, black beans would have added some color, but I didn’t have any), and white rice.  I ended up also adding shredded cheese and tortilla chips!

 

First, I cooked 1 cup of long grain rice. While this cooked, I cubed my chicken and heated it in a skillet with the cheese dip and tomato sauce.  After it came to a boil I added in the beans and seasoned with salt and pepper.  (If you like spice I suggest adding some cayenne pepper.)

 

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After the rice was finished cooking, I greased a 9×13 pan with cooking spray and added my skillet mix and rice together.  I then shredded some cheddar cheese on the top (just a leftover hunk).

 

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I started to put this in the oven (set on 350), but then decided it just didn’t look finished, so I pulled it back out and added crushed tortilla chips to the top.  I baked this for 25-30 min. on 350.

 

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I pulled it out as the edges browned.

 

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Then it was time to dig in!  We decided it tasted similar to my chicken and rice soup, thus the name!  We will definitely have this again!  Enjoy!

 

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Chicken and Rice Soup Casserole

1 cup long grain rice (uncooked)

1-2 cups cubed or shredded chicken

1 can (8 0z.) tomato sauce

1 – 1 1/2 cup leftover cheese dip

1 can of beans of choice

1/2-1 cup shredded cheese

Tortilla Chips

Salt, Pepper, Cayenne

 

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Stovetop Blueberry Oatmeal

Why does everyone over-complicate oatmeal?  It is one of the world’s most simple and easy options for breakfast, plus it can be a healthy, filling option, too!  So, here is my super-easy to make Stovetop Blueberry Oatmeal!

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Stovetop Blueberry Oatmeal – one of my kids’ favorites!!!

So first off, here is what you will need!

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  • A pot with a lid (mine is nearly antique.  I inherited from our first home we bought – it was in the shed in a box!  And for some reason, it is my favorite to make oatmeal in!)
  • 1 cup water
  • Salt (just a sprinkle)
  • 1 cup rolled oats (I actually use a rounded scoopful.  I buy my oats in bulk from http://www.azurestandard.com then split it up in separate gallon-sized freezer bags and store in the freezer to keep it fresh and to keep bugs out.  These happen to be certified organic.)
  • 1 Tablespoon raw honey (this is from my Brother-in-law’s beehives)
  • Cinnamon (I never measure it, just sprinkle to taste, but probably around a teaspoon)
  • Blueberries (fresh or frozen)  – we actually have a great blueberry farm nearby where we go pick each year and put up loads of blueberries.  Today I was trying to use up some of last year’s frozen berries!

Okay, so that’s all you need to make this!  Let’s get started!

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Add 1 cup of water to a pot and turn heat on medium-high.
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Sprinkle a little salt in your water and bring to a complete boil.
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As my water begins to boil, I scoop a rounded cup of rolled oats.
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When water is at a rolling boil, add your oats and stir in. Now the next steps you do as quickly as possible, because you do not want your oats to over-cook!
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Get a Tablespoon of raw honey and add to your oats and stir in. (You can do less honey and it will still be good, but I have found my kids eat it better when I use a Tablespoon.)
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Sprinkle cinnamon in oatmeal. (I never actually measure….I’ve just made it enough I know about when I have enough! But I would guess close to a Teaspoon.)

Turn the heat off and remove your oatmeal from heat.

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Add in your frozen blueberries now.  This is however many berries you want to add.  I probably added around 1/2 cup – 3/4 cup today, but sometimes I do less.  Immediately cover pot with a lid, if you are using frozen blueberries as I was.

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Covering the pot for just a minute or two will help the blueberries to thaw and lose all their coldness. I used to keep the heat on when I put the blueberries, but they got too hot and the kids couldn’t eat immediately. This way everyone can eat within a minute or two, and no burned mouths!
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Remove the lid and breakfast is ready!

Total cooking time is only 10-15 minutes from start to finish!  No need to buy instant oats when these are healthier and just as fast!

Guilt Free Cookies

I don’t know about you, but I absolutely LOVE to bake!  Sweet tooth?!?  Oh yeah!  That’s me!  Since mid-December my husband and I have been striving to exercise five times a week and to eat healthier.  I’ve really had to hold myself back on the baking!  One way I’ve survived is to only bake on the weekends, and even then I have been trying to use better ingredients, smaller portions, and overall recipes that are better for you.  I’m going to call these guilt free cookies, because I really don’t feel guilty having cooked and eaten them!  It’s okay to eat something sweet sometimes, as long as you do so sparingly and make wise choices.  Will I have another cookie with a cup of coffee after the kids take their baths?  Probably!  This is my weekend splurge!  What’s yours?????

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Let me start out by saying I got the basis for my cookies from http://www.browneyedbaker.com/peanut-butter-oatmeal-chocolate-chip-cookies/ .  But I did my own variation and swapped things up a bit!  If you want to compare the recipes go ahead!  That’s why I posted the link to the original recipe!  I wanted to show that you can take many recipes and make a few changes here and there to make the recipe healthier.  After having tried the recipe (and it is really good), I might play around and try a few other things to make it more nutritional the next time!

Ingredients:

3/4 c. all-purpose flour

1/4 c. whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 stick butter

1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/3 c. brown sugar

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1 egg white

3/4 cup old-fashioned oats

1/4 cup chopped dark chocolate

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Stir together flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl.

In a medium-sized bowl, stir butter and peanut butter until creamy.  Mix in both sugars, egg white, and vanilla.  After this was whipped nicely, I added in my oats.  Then slowly stir in flour mixture, and lastly fold in your chocolate.

I used a cookie scoop to put my dough on the prepared pan, spaced a few inches apart.  Bake 10-12 minutes or until the bottoms start turning slightly brown.  They will continue to cook on the cookie sheet out of the oven.

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So one thing I forgot to mention above, I chose this recipe in part because it didn’t make a large batch.  Many cookie recipes make 40 or 50 cookies, and I know neither myself or my husband would be able to resist!  This recipe didn’t make quite 30 cookies.  With a family of 4, it is a nice amount of cookies to enjoy on the weekend!  Hope you like it and thank you to http://www.browneyedbaker.com for the idea!

Venison Stroganoff

Do you have a deer hunter in your family?  Get tired of eating deer steak and deer chili?  Or just don’t like the taste of deer meat at all?  Well give this Venison Stroganoff a try!  I promise you won’t be able to tell it is deer meat, and it is delicious!

Here’s what you will need:

1 1/2 – 2 lbs. ground deer

1 medium onion, chopped

2 tsp. minced garlic (I was out this time, so I used about 1 T. garlic powder)

1 1/2 c. sour cream

4 T. flour

salt & pepper to taste

1 cup chicken broth

3 T. ketchup

1 package noodles of your choice

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First in a large pot, brown your meat, cook onions until tender, and add garlic.  Because you are using venison it is doubtful you will need to drain any grease at all.  Add chicken broth and cook on low heat while you prepare flour mixture.  During this time I would also start cooking my noodles in another pot.

In a separate bowl mix sour cream and flour together until completely mixed.  Add to the chicken broth, and stir in.  Go ahead and add 3 T. ketchup to the mixture.  While stirring allow to come to a boil and thicken.  When your sauce is thickened, you can turn it off and cover until your noodles are ready.

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Venison Stroganoff Sauce – ready to add noodles!

You have two options on eating your stroganoff.  You can separately serve over hot buttered noodles, or you can mix the two together.

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Venison Stroganoff ready to eat! Enjoy!

Additional option:  You can also add a can of mushrooms to the meat/onion/garlic at the beginning to make a more traditional stroganoff, but that is not our preference!  Enjoy!

Italian Wedding Soup

I mentioned yesterday that I am a Southern girl, so another fact about Southerners…..we use venison (aka deer meat) for absolutely everything.  At least around our house we do!  Reasons for this:  we have it on hand, it is a leaner meat, and we like it a lot!  So tonight we had Italian Wedding Soup, made with homemade Venison meatballs.

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Pictured are the ingredients you will need to make your meatballs.  I forgot to set the ketchup bottle out, but you will need that as well. 

Here’s an ingredient list for your meatballs, and for the rest of the soup: 

1 1/2 lb. deer (or turkey or beef)

handful of crackers (I prefer Ritz for this, but all we had were Saltines and they did the trick.  I started tonight with maybe 6 or 7 crackers, and after combining the meat mixture I felt it was too loose and added about 4 or 5 more crackers to the mix.)

1 egg (we only use egg whites at our house)

garlic powder (1/2 tsp. or more if you love garlic)

salt & black pepper (to taste)

minced onion (at least a Tablespoon)

dried parsley (I use parsley liberally – several Tablespoons)

sugar (I would say no more than 1/2 tsp.)

cheddar cheese (maybe a couple of Tablespoons worth of cheese – not too much)

ketchup (one good squirt – probably around 2 or 3 Tablespoons)

Ingredients for the soup:

Meatballs (I had 29 meatballs tonight)

Chicken broth

Spaghetti noodles (gluten-free, whole wheat or regular should work just fine – I did not use an entire package of noodles.  Just eyeball it – you want enough noodles that your soup doesn’t look like chicken broth with a few floaties, but you don’t want it as thick as spaghetti, either.)

16 oz. Frozen spinach (16 oz. is probably way too much spinach for most people – so unless you really like spinach like us, I would only use half the package.)

So let’s get started on the meatballs.  I am one-quarter Italian and this is the recipe handed down from my great-grandparents to my mom, and from her to me.  Of course, the original recipe uses ground beef, but I have made it with all of the meats listed above and it is good with any of them.  Because this recipe is an old traditional recipe, it has never had the amounts written down.  It is one of those trial and error recipes.  The first few times I attempted it, they turned out okay, but not exactly like my mom’s.  These days….YUM!!!!  This is also the way I make traditional meatballs for my spaghetti (which I will have to post one day!).

Combine all the ingredients for your meatballs in a large mixing bowl.

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Take off any rings and jewelry and thoroughly wash your hands, because the only way to mix this up is with your bare hands!  Squish the meat with the ingredients until it is well-mixed.  Then form into small 1 inch balls (or smaller).  I thought I was being so smart today and placed a baking rack inside my pan to cook the meatballs on, to help cook out the extra grease.  However, I forgot to spray the rack with cooking spray and they were slightly stuck.  So spray your pan!

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Cook the meatballs at 325 degrees for 25 minutes, then set aside to cool while you put the soup together.

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For your soup, bring chicken broth to a boil (I add some water to the broth – personal preference), and add your frozen spinach.  Go ahead and salt and pepper to taste.  When spinach is almost cooked, add in your noodles and meatballs. Once your noodles are tender and the seasoning is to your liking, your soup is ready!  It is not the prettiest soup, but the taste is so good!  My 2-year-old cleaned his bowl and my 5-year-old ate half an adult-sized bowl, so give it a try to see what you think!!!!

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Oven-Baked Grease Taters

So any Southern girl knows what “grease” taters are, and has probably consumed her weight in them…..and because of that has probably seen her weight grow significantly, too.  Potatoes of ANY kind are my favorite!  I love white potatoes, red potatoes, Yukon gold potatoes, sweet potatoes….any dish made out of those, I am all over it!  My husband and I recently began exercising together and trying to eat healthier, so I’ve really been trying to curb some of our “Southern” comfort foods into something healthier.  Tonight I decided to combine the idea of “grease” taters with the idea of regular roasted potatoes, and I was pleasantly surprised with the results.  Because this is my very first blog post, I am sorry to say I did not take pictures during all of the preparation steps, but I will try to next time!

Oven-Baked Grease Taters

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Peel potatoes and slice into shoestring-sized french fries.  Using about 2 or 3 Tablespoons of olive oil in a bowl, toss your potatoes to get them completely coated with oil.  Use sea salt liberally.  Spray a pan with cooking spray, and spread potatoes on pan.  Pour remaining olive oil you used to toss your potatoes in onto the pan as well (so that your potatoes are not completely dry like roasted potatoes, but not soaked in grease like “grease” taters).  I cooked them for about 15 min. then stirred and flipped them and returned them to the oven for another 10-15 min.  Mine didn’t stick to the pan at all, they weren’t dried out, but they weren’t soaked in grease!  I will make these again when we are in the mood for one of our Southern favorites – and we won’t even be clogging our arteries!  Enjoy!

Oven-Baked Grease Taters
Oven-Baked Grease Taters

Suggestion:  after the first 15 min. of baking, if they seem to be getting too dried out, you could drizzle another Tablespoon of olive oil over them.  You don’t want them completely dried out, but we are also trying for the least amount of grease possible while making them seem like real “grease” taters.