Cookies As Easy As 1-2-3

file000347745879 (1)The holiday season is upon us and for my family that means there is usually some expectation that I will bake cookies for some member of my household to take to school, work, or a party somewhere.   With a busy work schedule, the task of making cookies can sometimes be overwhelming, and I don’t want to run to the store to buy that expensive pre-made cookie dough.  Instead, I have a simpler and less expensive solution–The Cake Mix Cookie.

To make the cake mix cookie you need to remember a simple math problem.

1

+2

_______

3

 Do you remember the math problem?  Can you visualize it in your mind?  That’s very good because that’s how you will know what to use in the recipe.

You need 1 cake mix, 2 eggs and 1/3 cup of vegetable oil.  That’s all you need to make basic cookies.  Of course, you can always add other ingredients to make things more exciting.  You can even switch out the oil for softened butter.

Here’s a recipe for Chocolate Chip Cake Mix Cookies.

Chocolate Chip Cake Mix Cookies
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 24-36
 
Cookies as easy as 1 - 2 - 3 with this simple recipe
Ingredients
  • 1 yellow cake mix
  • 2 eggs
  • ⅓ cup of a mild flavored oil (corn, sunflower, canola, or vegetable oil)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • ½ cup chopped nuts (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Pour cake mix into a bowl
  3. Stir in eggs and oil
  4. Mix until well incorporated
  5. Stir in chocolate chips.
  6. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto an ungreased cookie sheet about 2" apart
  7. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Cookies are done when the edges are set.

The really nice thing about cake mix cookies is that you can wow your friends with cookies that you might not ordinarily come up with.  Consider the following possibilities.

1. Lemon cookies from a lemon cake mix

2.  Lemon Blueberry cookies–Use a lemon cake mix and stir in 1 cup full of dried blueberries.

3.  Caramel filled cookies–Use a devil’s food cake mix and roll balls of dough around an unwrapped Rolo candies.  The result is a chocolate cookie with a soft caramel center.

4.  Chocolate cookie with white chocolate chips and macadamia nuts.  (Devil’s food cake mix with 1 cup white chocolate chips, and 1/2 cup chopped macadamia nuts)

5.  Cranberry Orange Cookies –Use an orange cake mix and stir in 1 cup dried cranberries.

Using cake mix as the basis for your cookies simplifies your life, and makes it possible to present your coworkers with a plate of red velvet cookies without breaking a sweat.

Try out our recipe and let me know what combinations for cake mix cookies you come up with on your own.  Thanks for stopping by Patty Cake’s Pantry.

Chef’s Salad in a Jar

chef's salad in a jarI am continuing my series of salads in a jar this week with the Chef’s Salad.  Chef’s Salads origins are often disputed, but it may have been based upon a 17th and 18th century dish called  Salmagundi which was a salad composed of meat, eggs, and vegetables served with a vinaigrette.  Some say the Chef’s Salad was inspired by the Cobb Salad invented at the Brown Derby Restaurant in Los Angeles while others attribute it to a chef at the Ritz-Carlton in the early 1940’s.

No matter what the origin of the Chef’s Salad, it can be a nutritional power house if correctly made.  The vitamins and fiber from the lettuce and other vegetables when paired with lean protein can provide considerable nutritional benefits.  The fiber fills you up and the protein helps to stabilize the blood sugar for longer periods of time.  Since I love the Chef’s Salad, it’s no wonder that  I decided that it would be my next salad in a jar.

I began by pouring a layer of ranch dressing into the bottom of the jar and adding the layer of grape tomatoes.

Tomatoes in ranch dressingCarrots cut in julienne were added next and topped with chopped cucumber.

carrot julienne and chopped cucumber added to the chef's salad in a jarThen a layer of julienne cut ham was placed in the jar.julienne ham added to salad in a jarThis was followed by chopped hard boiled egg and sliced green onions.

chopped onion and hard boiled eggShredded cheese is sprinkled on top of the onions.

shredded cheeseFinally, the remaining space in the jar is filled with chopped romaine lettuce.

lettuce is added to chef's salad in a jar.  The lids are placed on the jars and the jars placed in the refrigerator.    I really enjoyed this salad, give it a try.

Chef's Salad in a Jar
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree Salad
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
 
The classic Chef's Salad takes on a new look with this version that can be prepared in a quart sized mason jar.
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup of your favorite salad dressing (I used ranch)
  • 8 - 10 grape tomatoes
  • ⅓ cup julienne cut carrots
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped cucumber
  • ⅓ cup thinly sliced and chopped ham
  • 1 chopped hard boiled egg
  • ¼ cup sliced green onions
  • ⅓ cup shredded cheese of your choice (I used 4 cheese Mexican blend)
  • 1½ cups chopped romaine lettuce
Instructions
  1. Pour salad dressing into the bottom of a wide mouth quart mason jar.
  2. Place grape tomatoes into the dressing
  3. Put cucumbers on top of the tomatoes
  4. Add a layer of ham
  5. Place Chopped egg on top of ham
  6. Top egg with sliced green onions
  7. Sprinkle cheese on top of jar
  8. Fill remaining space with chopped lettuce.

 

 

Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey Sandwiches

Turkey in Autumn LeavesIt’s Thanksgiving day. I love this time of year.   While I’m busy roasting a big turkey, and making all of the trimmings for a traditional dinner,   the family is gathered together making plans for the long weekend.  It’s a great time to be together with family.  Thanksgiving is all about the food.  We have a tradition in our family that everyone picks a side dish to go with the dinner.  When the kids get older, they will be responsible for making their own side, but for now, I make whatever they order.  As a result, we have turkey, stuffing, gravy, and whatever sides the five of us pick.

I love cooking Thanksgiving dinner.  I love planning ahead and having it all come together perfectly, but I have a confession to make.  The members of my household  actually look forward to the leftovers than we do the actual Thanksgiving feast. I don’t think we’re alone in that , either.  At least, I hope not.  Our average Thanksgiving dinner costs us about $40 –

$50, and I admit that sounds like a lot of money for a single meal, but with a large turkey and all the trimmings, we have leftovers for days.  I even freeze some of the turkey in meal size portions to be pulled out to make enchiladas, pot pies, turkey tetrazinni, and other delicious leftover dishes.   Of course, we can’t forget turkey soup made from the turkey carcass and the last bits of meat that are stuck to it.

My mother always planned for Thanksgiving Dinner to be served at just past noon.  Definitely no later than 2:00pm.  As an adult, I have continued that tradition.  That way, we gorge ourselves on turkey and all the trimmings at lunch time, and by dinner time, we are ready for our favorite part of Thanksgiving, the  turkey sandwich with a piece of pie for dessert.

We tend to prefer our sandwiches simple.  Turkey, mayo, kosher dill pickles, and sometimes lettuce on toasted bread are all we need to be happy.  Sometimes, as the days go buy, we switch things up a bit.  In anticipation of this year’s thanksgiving dinner, I scoured the internet looking for some new ways to serve up our turkey sandwiches.  Here are a few of the things I found.  (Click on the photos to be taken to their source sites.)

An old fashioned classic that my mom and dad always loved is the hot turkey sandwich covered with gravy.  This one, posted by Elise at SimplyRecipes.com, looks good.  My parents always served it with a side of mashed potatoes also topped with gravy and a side ofwhatever vegetables were left over from the main meal.   It’s warm and hearty, and we love it.

Open Faced Turkey and Gravy Sandwich (photo)

Here is a delicious Deli Style Turkey Sandwich recipe that I found over at SavorySweetLife.com.  This sandwich is piled high with turkey, mayo, cream cheese, cranberry sauce as well as veggies, like sprouts, tomatoes, onions, and cucumbers.  It looks and sounds delicious.

Turkey Salad sandwiches like this one from FamilyFeast.com are another great way to use up leftover Thanksgiving Turkey.

Turkey Salad Sandwich - A Family Feast

Robyn at AddAPinch.com, has a delicious turkey wrap sandwich.  Lets face it, with all the Christmas shopping and sandwiches, you might just run out of bread.  I usually have flour tortillas laying around, and this sandwich wrap  looks delicious.

If you’re looking for another recipe that’s a little further from the traditional turkey sandwich, try this one for a Pulled Turkey Barbecue Sandwich from babble.com.  There’s also a delicious sounding Pulled Turkey Sandwich with Cranberry Barbecue Sauce over at Pink-Parsley.com.

If you’re still looking for more leftover turkey sandwich ideas, check out these sites.

Real Simple has a list of 12 Creative Turkey Sandwich Recipes.

Bon Appetit has a list  of the 15 Best-Ever Leftover Turkey Sandwiches.

Among my many other blessings, I am thankful for each and everyone of my readers.  Happy Thanksgiving from Patty Cake’s Pantry.   Thanks for visiting my site.

 

Antipasto Salad in a Jar

Antipasto salad in a jar copyright 2014 patty cakes pantryI know that I keep posting about salads in a jar, but I can’t help myself.  I really like making them because they look so pretty.  They taste good, too, and if I’m careful about what I put into them, they can be friendly for my waistline.   The possibilities are limitless.

A few weeks ago, I went out to eat at one of my favorite local  Italian eateries.  I love their antipasto salad, but on this occasion, I shared a pizza with my son.  The lady we were dining with, however, had the antipasto salad.   I was probably staring longingly at her salad while she ate.  Don’t get me wrong.  I thought the pizza was delicious.  I just really love that salad.

As I continued to think about the antipasto salad, I realized that I had everything in my refrigerator and pantry that would be needed to recreate it at home.  Since I’ve been making salads in a jar, I decided to give this one a try.  It turned out very good.

I started by putting some italian salad dressing into the bottom of  a wide mouth quart sized mason jar.

Tomatoes in itialian dressing.  copyright 2014 patty cakes pantry

Then, I dropped in 8 – 10 grape tomatoes.

Chopped red onion was sprinkled on top of the tomatoes in the dressing.

Chopped onion added to antipasto salad in a jar.  copyright 2014 patty cakes pantry A layer of chopped cucumber came next.

chopped cucumber added to jar.  copyright 2014 patty cakes pantryThis was topped with a layer of pimento stuffed olives and black olives.

pimento stuffed and ripe olives.  copyright 2014 patty cakes pantryChopped yellow bell peppers were sprinkled over the olives.

chopped yellow bell peppersItalian, dry salami, and sliced pepperoni were cut into strips and layered into the jar.

pepperoni and salami go into antipasto salad in a jarA mixture of shredded mozzarella and Provolone cheeses were sprinkled on top of the meat.

Shredded mozzarella and provolone were added to the salad in a jar.  Finally, the remaining space in the jar was filled with lettuce cut into salad sized pieces.

lettuce fills up remaining space in anitpasto salad in a jar.

This completed the assembly.  The lids were applied and the salads placed into the refrigerator.  The salads were eaten the next day and they were delicious.  I really enjoyed my antipasto salad.  I didn’t even notice that I forgot the pepperoncinis.

Antipasto Salad in a Jar
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree Salad
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
 
Antipasto salad is delicious and filling. This salad in a jar version allows you to make your salad a few days ahead and have a semi-healthy grab and go lunch.
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup Italian dressing
  • 8- 10 grape tomatoes
  • ¼ cup chopped red onion
  • ½ cup chopped cucumber
  • ¼ cup pimento stuffed olives
  • ¼ cup black olives
  • ¼ cup chopped yellow bell pepper
  • 2 - 3 slices of dry salami julienned
  • 6 slices pepperoni, julienned
  • ⅓ cup shredded provolone or mozzarella cheese (or a mixture of the two)
  • 1 cup chopped romaine lettuce (You will need enough to fill up any remaining space in the jar..)
Instructions
  1. Pour dressing into the bottom of mason jar
  2. Add grape tomatoes.
  3. Sprinkle red onion on top of tomatoes and dressing.
  4. Add cucumber to jar to form a layer.
  5. Place olives on top of cucumber.
  6. Layer bell pepper into the jar.
  7. Top bell pepper with strips of meat
  8. Sprinkle shredded cheese on top of meat.
  9. Fill remaining space in the jar with lettuce.

 

 

Clam Chowder From Food Storage Items

chowder in a sour dough bread bowlAs the weather gets colder, we begin to think in terms of  foods that are hot and hearty.  Nothing is more comforting than a warm bowl of clam chowder served with some crusty sour dough bread.  Baker’s Man isn’t much of a soup fan, but he loves chowder.  After growing up in San Francisco, he is  also very fond of sour dough bread.

We have a small food storage cache.  I try to pull from it and add to it regularly.   I decided that I wanted to see if I would be able to create something new from the items in our food storage.  The idea I came up with was Clam Chowder.

IMG_2049

Among the canned meat in my pantry,  there is almost always canned clams.  They have many uses from linguine with white clam sauce to chowder.   Another thing that I have in the pantry on a regular basis are dehydrated soups we can take camping.   I looked at the soup and I looked at the clams and I had an idea.  Why not combine the two to make clam chowder?

After reviewing the ingredients on the package of dehydrated potato soup, I realized that it had almost everything in it that I would add to scratch made clam chowder.   It was at this point when I knew with certainty that my idea would work. The only missing ingredient was celery.

Armed with my ingredients, I rushed into the kitchen.

celery sauteing in butter

I finely chopped two celery stalks.  I added these along with two tablespoons of butter to the bottom of my soup pot.  I sauteed the celery until it began to carmelize.   If you don’t have any fresh celery, you can also use a couple tablespoons of dehydrated celery, but you just toss it into the pot with the dehydrated soup mix.

add clam juice

I added the clam juice from the cans of clams (1 1/2 cups)  as well as the balance of liquid called for on the package of soup mix.  (The recipe called for 8 cups of water, but since I had added 1 1/2 cups of clam juice, I only added 6 1/2 cups water.)

Clam Chowder from food storage

I waited until this mixture came to a boil, then I whisked in the potato soup mix.  Once this was well incorporated, I poured in the clams for my 3 cans.  Once it returned to a boil, I lowered the heat and allowed the chowder to simmer for 15 minutes as directed on the soup pouch.

bread bowl overflowing with clam chowder

When it was ready, I ladled it into sour dough bread bowls and served it with a shrimp ceasar salad on the side.

It was very filling, and it was delicious.  Give it a try.

Clam Chowder From Food Storage Items
Author: 
Recipe type: Lunch, Dinner
Cuisine: Soup/Stew
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Made from ingredients in our food storage pantry, this clam chowder was surprisingly filling and delicious.
Ingredients
  • 8 serving size package of instant, creamy potato soup
  • 3 (?? oz) cans of clam chowder
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 8 cups combined water and clam juice (or the correct amount of liquid for the brand of soup you are using.
Instructions
  1. Sautee Celery in Butter over medium heat until celery becomes tender.
  2. Drain and reserve liquid from clams
  3. Add enough water to clam juice to provide the amount of liquid called for in the recipe
  4. Add water and clam juice
  5. Bring liquid and celery mixture to a boil
  6. Whisk in soup mix until thoroughly incorporated
  7. Add clams
  8. Bring to a boil again.
  9. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes

 

 

Shrimp Caesar Salad

shrimp caesar saladI have done something this week that I never thought I would do.  I certainly never imagined that I would blog about it.   I have stooped to an all new low.  I purchased a salad kit and even justified it to myself.  I know it’s a shock, but before everyone starts yelling at me, let me tell you the whole story.

I was doing my weekly grocery shopping and I noticed that the light Caesar salad kits were on sale for $1 each for the 7.7 ounce size package.  I realize I might have been able to assemble the salad for less than $1, but I considered the prepackaged croutons and dressing to be well worth it.

Did I mention that I have been working a lot of overtime in the non cyber world, and I was very tired?

So, I bought a couple of the kits and took them home.  A few days later, we were having clam chowder in sour dough bowls.  I realized that clam chowder did not meet my requirement for enough vegetables, so I wanted to put together a salad.

I reached into the refrigerator and pulled out one of the salad kits.  One thing to keep in mind regarding light salad kits is that one way they make them light is to remove any cheese.  This kit was no exception.  I also realized that I didn’t want to have just a plain Caesar salad with our chowder bowls, so I thawed 3/4 cup of salad shrimp to add to it.

Ingredients for Shrimp Caesar Salad
I also measured out 1/4 cup of an Italian blend of cheeses to sprinkle on top.  (The Italian blend of cheeses contained Parmesan, Romano, Asiago, Mozzarella, and Provolone.)

I poured the lettuce into a serving bowl, and I added the dressing, shrimp, cheese, and croutons.

shrimp caesar salad ready to be tossed

I tossed it all together just before serving time, and everyone was happy with their salad.  It was a great accompaniment to the chowder.

I know salads in a bag seem like a tremendous cheat, but if you’re tired and hungry and come home and need to face a mountain of vegetables that need to be chopped before you can eat, you might just go grab fast food instead.  Even a fast food salad will cost more than the $2.50 that this salad cost to put together, and it was enough for 4 of us to have side salads.

Check the prices at your local grocery stores and you can use leftover chicken or other meats to mix with the salad kits to make entree salads for your family.

Salads in a Jar in fridge

Of course, you can also make some of those salads in a jar that I have been posting about.  They come in quite handy and last for 4 – 5 days in the refrigerator.

There was a reason beyond my salad for this post.  I just want to remind anyone who happens to read this of one important thing.  You need to keep things in perspective when making your shopping and grocery budget.  This particularly applies to when considering the purchase of convenience foods.  A $13 package of store bought frozen lasagna feeds my family of four for one meal with leftovers for two of us for the next day’s lunch.  I can make at least  two of them from scratch for that money, but if I’m too tired to cook after a long day at work, that $13 is still cheaper than the $20+ I would spend on fast food. It’s just something to think about.

Bacon Ranch Pizza Bites

cheesy bacon ranch bitesWhen I was a little girl,  my dad would make little kitchen experiments.  One of those experiments that I have always remembered was his bacon pizzas.  I remember the first time he made them for us.  He invited me into the kitchen to watch him cook.  He took slices of bread and topped them with slices of cheese and sprinkled chopped leftover bacon on top and popped them into the oven.  Within a few minutes, he served up toasty warm cheese and bacon pizzas.  They were good,  and I often asked him to make them for me when I was little.  As I got older, whenever I would see leftover bacon in the fridge, I would make these.  Usually, they were made on a slice of bread, but sometimes, they were made on english muffins.   It was a fast and easy snack for after school or anytime I was hungry between meals.

Today, I was looking around my kitchen for something to grab for a quick lunch.  I noticed that I had some leftover sour dough dinner rolls from the French Dip Sliders.  I realized that if I didn’t come up with a way to use them, they rolls would probably sit there until they molded.  There were only 4 of them left.  I mentally inventoried what I had on hand in the refrigerator.  I remembered that there was some bacon and cheese inside.  I thought of my dad’s bacon pizzas.

cheese and bacon piled onto a sour dough roll ready for the oven

First, I cut the rolls in half horizontally.  When I thought about it, I realized that the sour dough rolls were dryer and tougher than either bread or english muffins, so I brushed the cut tops of the rolls with a thin layer of ranch dressing before topping them with chopped bacon pieces, and then cheese.

cheezy bites in under the boiler in the oven

Once the pizza bites were fully assembled, I popped them into the broiler for 5 minutes until the cheese was melted and lightly browned.

bacon ranch pizza bites

We ate them ala carte.  I served them up, and they were devoured in minutes.  Of course, the smell of bacon and cheese wafting from under the broiler brought people out of their rooms to ask what was for lunch, so there were more people sharing them than I had originally intended.  It was okay.  It was an opportunity to tell  them about my father, and how he made a variation of them for me one day, long ago.   Everyone gave them the thumbs up.   You can serve these with a cup of soup or a salad for a more complete meal.   I really like them as a side for a creamy tomato soup.

bacon ranch pizza bites out of the oven

Here’s the recipe.  Thanks for visiting Patty Cake’s Pantry.

Bacon Ranch Pizza Bites
Author: 
Recipe type: Snack, Lunch
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Using leftover rolls and leftover bacon with some cheese and ranch dressing is a delicious way to whip up a snack or quick lunch. These go great with tomato soup.
Ingredients
  • 6 sour dough dinner rolls, split horizontally
  • 6 tablespoons of ranch dressing
  • 12 tablespoons chopped, cooked bacon
  • 1½ cups shredded cheese
Instructions
  1. Slice sourdough rolls in half horizontally and arrange on a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with non stick spray with the cut side facing up
  2. Top each half roll with ½ tablespoon of ranch dressing
  3. Place 1 tablespoon chopped, cooked bacon on top of the dressing
  4. Top bacon and dressing with 2 tablespoons of shredded cheese.
  5. Place cookie sheet under broiler set to high for 4 - 5 minutes, checking after each minute
  6. Remove from oven when cheese is melted and begins to brown
  7. Serve immediately

 

Halloween Treats From The Pantry

halloween and harvest festival pumpkinsHolidays don’t necessarily mean that you have to ignore your grocery budget.  In fact, holiday treats can often be pulled together from things that you already have on hand as long as you have a well stocked pantry and plan ahead.

Candy for the trick-or-treaters still has to be budgeted, but fun food for the family is already in the bag.  Lets take a look at some of the great Halloween recipes/ideas that can be pulled together from things you may already have in your well stocked pantry.  I’ve gathered these ideas from around the web.  Click on the photos to be taken to the source site.

When I was a little girl, my parents always struggled to get me to eat something before going out trick or treating.  Remembering this childhood battle of the wills, I try to make the dinner on Halloween night something fun and memorable for my kids, so they are excited and eager to eat.  After all, they need to be fueled and ready for that long walk and hauling home all of that candy.  Toward that end, I recommend the following Halloween night dinner ideas.

For the taco lovers out there, I have two different versions that make a great dinner idea.

First up are the Tarantula Taco from FabulesslyFrugal.com

Tarantula Spiders CollageIf the olive tarantulas aren’t creepy enough, how about Eyeball Tacos.  This one came from LATaco.com.

Eyeball TacosIf you want to encourage your kids to eat vegetables before acquiring that stockpile of candy, there are some really cute ideas out there involving veggies.

There’s the jack-o-lantern crudite platter from TasteOfHome.com.

Pumpkin Veggie Tray RecipeThen, there’s the skeleton crudite from FeedingFourLittleMonkeys.blogspot.com

Let’s not forget dessert.  In our family, the Halloween night tradition is Ghosts in the Graveyard.  I found the recipe on KraftFoods.com years ago.  We make it every year, and the kids usually have it after they come home from trick or treating.  On occasion, we have even made it with sugar free chocolate sandwich cookies and sugar free instant chocolate pudding.  (For some reason, my links to kraft recipes never stay active.  I think they reject me.  If that happens AGAIN, go to kraftrecipes.com and search for “Ghosts in the Graveyard.”) 

Ghosts in the Graveyard recipe

We have also been known to use graham cracker quarters for the tomb stones because that was what we had on hand.  Some years, we just make the mud and toss some candy pumpkins or candy corn on top for decoration.  Vampires crave blood, but my lot craves mud, at least the stuff made from instant pudding and crushed chocolate sandwich cookies. 

If you want to try something a little healthier, that doesn’t contain artificial sweeteners, there’s always the old standby of chocolate covered fruit.

First, there are the Mummy Chocolate Covered Strawberries from TheSistersCafe.com.  I know, it’s fall and strawberries aren’t really in season, but they look so good.

Then, there are the Frozen Banana Ghosts over at SkinnyTaste.com

I hope this post helps to inspire you to create some frugal Halloween Treats for your family.  Thanks for stopping by.

French Dip Sliders

french dip sliders  This is the story of  a recipe from the make ahead freezer meals that I reviewed a couple of weeks ago.  This is specifically about the  French dip sandwiches that you cook in the crock pot.  The recipe came from Six Sister’s Stuff.

The last time I made these French dip sandwiches, my family complained that they didn’t have enough flavor.  I mentioned in my earlier post that I planned to add chopped garlic or onion to the broth the next time I made them, but I came up with an entirely different idea.  The new idea didn’t require any additional prep work and it didn’t increase the cost of the sandwiches either.  All I did was substitute two cans of condensed French onion soup for the beef consommé.  It was a simple fix that worked out well.  The zipper-topped bag was placed in the freezer where it waited for us to give it a try.

Fast forward several weeks.  My life is extremely hectic and crazed.  I am working tons of overtime, and fast food temptation is calling my name.  My husband and daughter prepared two delicious meals, but we needed something easier.  I remembered the French dip sandwiches.  We thawed it in the fridge for a day and then poured it into the crock pot.  Upon plugging in the crock pot, sparks flew from where the cord attaches to the body of pot.  Alas, the crock pot was dead.

This was definitely a problem.  We had a crock pot meal and no crock pots.  I carefully considered my options as I returned the meat mixture to the refrigerator.  I vaguely remembered once when I was very young that my mother had roasted a beef stew in a cast iron Dutch oven for several hours in the oven.  Since Baker’s Man and Sue Chef would be home all day, they could put it in the oven at the designated time and monitor it while it baked at 300 degrees F for 4 hours.

It worked perfectly.  I returned home from work to the smell of French dip sandwiches.  They were served on crusty sourdough dinner rolls with some homemade broccoli slaw and tater tots.

french dip sliders on sour dough rollsIt was delicious.  It’s good to know that, in a pinch, your cast iron Dutch oven in a slow oven can substitute for your crock pot.  The recipe said that it served 6, but we had leftovers enough for roast beef wraps the next day, and then some.

We chose sourdough rolls because they wouldn’t fall apart or become soggy when dipped.  I forgot to put the little cup full of broth for dipping near the plates before I took the pictures.  By the time I realized my error, they were gone!

French Dip Sliders on Sour Dough Rolls

Here’s my take on the recipe.  Give it a try.

French Dip Sliders
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Simple make ahead meal that can be assembled, stored in the freezer. Once it's thawed, it cooks in the crock pot., so dinner is ready when you are.
Ingredients
  • 3 pound chuck roast
  • 2 (10.5 ounce) cans condensed french onion soup
  • 12 sour dough dinner rolls
  • 6 slices provolone cheese (your can substitute your favorite cheese here)
Instructions
  1. Place chuck roast into a zip lock bag
  2. Add 2 cans condensed french onion soup
  3. Seal Bag and place in Freezer
  4. When ready to serve, thaw ingredients for 24 hours in the fridge
  5. Pour into crock pot
  6. Cook on Low for 8 - 10 hours or high for 4 - 6 hours or until meat shreds easily with a fork
  7. Remove meat from crock pot and shred with two forks
  8. Pile meat onto split sour dough dinner rolls
  9. Top hot meat with ½ slice of cheese and the other half of the roll.
  10. Serve with a small container of broth for dipping

Taco Salad in a Jar

Vegetarian Taco Salad in a JarOver the past few weeks, I have been sharing salad in a jar recipes here.  This is the third post in that series.  I am really in love with the salad in a jar idea because it allows me to make the salads on the weekend and have ready-made lunches that I can grab at least through Wednesday.  This ensures that I will eat a fresh, healthy and economical lunch at work and helps to prevent spending money on take-out.

In addition to being a great lunch, these salads can also be a quick and easy dinner idea as well.  For instance, this taco salad would make  a great accompaniment for some quesadillas.   Quesadillas come together quickly, and I don’t feel guilty because I didn’t make a well balanced meal.  The salad is chock full of vitamins and minerals from the veggies.

One caution about making salads in a jar, or any salad, is that you must follow certain guidelines for building a healthy salad or the salad will not necessarily be healthy.  It’s really easy to pile high calorie items onto your salad.  You must be careful so that your salad doesn’t end up containing more calories than a  typical fast food meal. That defeats the whole purpose of eating a salad.

To make this taco salad, I opted to go vegetarian.  There used to be a restaurant on the second level of the Santa Maria Town Center Mall.  My friend Molly and I used to go there for lunch and share a taco salad.  There was no meat in the taco salad, but it was delicious.  It has been years since I have eaten that salad, but I tried to picture it in my mind.  Mostly, I pictured all the things we got on the side because Molly didn’t like them on her salad, but I did.  It was always a very filling lunch.

I washed and dried my widemouth quart-sized mason jars and set them aside.  Then I began prepping all of the ingredients.  I washed and chopped up lettuce, I drained a (2.25 ounce) can of sliced black olives and a can of kidney beans.  I also rinsed the kidney beans.

I chopped red onion.

chopped red onionI chopped orange and yellow bell peppers.

chopped bell pepper

 

 

 

 

 

 

Actually, you can tell by the residue on my cutting board that I did the peppers first and then the onions, but it doesn’t really matter.  The point is that I chopped up everything I needed beforehand. 

The assembly is fast and easy once the vegetables are prepared in advance.  I assembled two of these at one time.

First 1/2 cup of jarred salsa was placed in the bottom of the jar.  Fresh salsa does not hold up well for this application.  A dollop of sour cream was placed into the salsa.  I had intended to mix them together and make a creamy salad dressing, but I forgot.  It still worked out okay in spite of this oversight.  Calorie conscious people can opt to use fat-free or reduced fat sour cream.  In this instance, no one really notices.

Next, I put half of the kidney beans into the salsa.  Kidney beans went first because they can tolerate sitting in the salsa without losing their texture.

kidney beans are added to the jarNext, the onions and bell peppers were layered into the jar.  onions, peppers, and sliced olives go into the jar before cheese is added.This was topped with the well-drained olives and shredded cheese.

finally, the rest of the jar was filled with lettuce.The rest of the jar is then filled with chopped or shredded lettuce.  I prefer romaine lettuce because it holds up better than the other lettuces.  I made two,  quart-sized salads, but this recipe could easily make 4 pints.   Keep in mind that you may need to shred a little extra lettuce in order to fill up your jars.

I usually pack a side of tortilla chips to eat with the salad.  I like to line the edges of a plate with them before pouring out my salad.  Baker’s Man likes to sprinkle his on top like croutons.  Either way, it’s delicious.  Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Taco Salad in a Jar
Author: 
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: Southwest
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2 quart sized
 
Taco salad makes a delicious lunch. This vegetarian version is layerd in a mason jar and makes a great make ahead lunch.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup salsa from a jar (mild, medium, or hot--whatever you prefer)
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 medium sized red onion, chopped
  • 1 orange bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 (2.25 ounce) can sliced black olives, drained
  • 1 cup shredded cheese
  • 2 - 3 cups chopped lettuce
  • Tortilla Chips.
Instructions
  1. Layer ingredients, except for tortilla chips. into two, quart sized, or four ,pint sized, wide mouth mason jars in the order listed above finishing off with lettuce.
  2. Place lids onto jars and store in the refrigerator. until ready to serve.
  3. I usually pack the tortilla chips in a separate bag and either put them on the plate/bowl before adding the salad or sprinkle them on top.