Recipe for Vegetarian Taco Salad

Every once in a while I like to make something a little different. I got this from my dad. Bless his heart, he loved tacos, but just couldn't get the hang of eating them, because every time he tried to bite into the tortilla it would break apart and he would have a mess on his plate. I watched with amusement as my dad broke up his taco with his fork and ate it like a taco salad. From then on my dad would break up two tortillas and then load all the goodies on top. Since then when I serve tacos with hard tortillas I do the same thing.

Here is what you need:

1 head of lettuce shredded
1 can of drained chili beans
2 diced tomatoes
1 cup of chopped onions
2 ripe avocados
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
1 pint of sour cream
2 packages of taco seasoning
8 ounces of shredded cheddar cheese
1 bag of tortilla chips

Here is what you do:

Mash up the avocados in a small bowl. Add lemon juice. I like to put the avocado into the food processor with the lemon juice to make guacamole.

In another bowl add the sour cream, and add the taco seasoning to it and set aside.

In another bowl add the diced onions, chili beans, and tomatoes.

To build the salad you put a layer of tortilla chips on the bottom. (I like to break them up into smaller pieces.) Add a bed of lettuce on top of the chips. Then add the chili beans, onions and tomato mixture. Top with cheese, guacamole, and sour cream mixture.



Recipe for Almost Old Fashioned Turkey Stuffing

Stuffing is great any time of year; it's not only for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I love making stuffing because it brings me closer to my dad. Dad did everything the old fashioned way. I loved tasting his stuffing before it went into the turkey. I called it 'raw stuffing,' but of course it wasn't raw.

Even as a little girl I helped my dad make stuffing. He'd tell me to go wash my hands really good, and to come back to the table. He gave me loaves of what he called 'day old bread,' which was bread that didn't get sold and would be sent back to the bread man.

I sat at the table and broke up the bread into neat squares with a butter knife. I was 7 or 8 years old at the time. While dad was dicing up the onions and giblets I would be doing my job of making a big bowl full of bread cubes. He'd start putting all the herbs and spices in the stuffing and then he would let me mix it up with a big wooden spoon. The aroma of sage would permeate my nostrils and it was heaven. Every time I smell sage I think of my dad. I learned so much from him. He was truly a connoisseur in my eyes.

I make stuffing, but I don't make it just the way he did with all the extra labor; I'm a bit of an almost homemade kind of cook. I'll sometimes take a recipe of my dad's and make it my own by putting my own little twist on it. To me, making stuffing takes me back to my childhood, and I remember the good times. Dad loved it when I wanted to help him in the kitchen.

Here's my version of my dad's old fashioned turkey recipe:

Here is what you need:

1 large casserole dish
1 - 1 pound bag of seasoned stuffing mix
1 cup of onion
1 cup of chopped celery
3/4 cup of butter
2 and 1/4 cups of water
1 teaspoon of sage
Cooked chopped turkey giblets (optional)
1 cup of sliced almonds
1 cup of cranberries
PAM spray

Here is what you do:

Saute the onion and celery in the butter until the onions are clarified. Add the water. Take the sauce pan off the heat and add giblets, cranberries, and add half of the almonds. Now slowly add the stuffing mix until the moisture is all incorporated. Spay the casserole dish with PAM spray, and empty the stuffing mixture into the dish. Top with the remaining sliced almonds.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes.



Recipe for Apricot Glazed Turkey Roast Dinner

Sometimes my family is in the mood for turkey, but I don't want to roast a whole bird. A turkey breast is good for any time, but I like to make this meal for when we are having company, just because it tastes so delectable. The last time I made this dish was when we had a pot luck dinner at our church. Everyone was to bring a covered dish. We weren't told what to bring, we were just supposed to bring something. I brought two turkey breasts and I expected to have some left to bring home, because there were other forms of meat and casseroles there; however, there wasn't even a slice left! It did make me happy that everyone seemed to like my apricot glazed turkey roast.

Here is what you need for the recipe:

1 - 4 to 5 pound turkey breast
1 jar of apricot preserves (you can also use jam if you like)
1 cup of canned or left over chicken stock
1 tablespoon of brown sugar
1 tablespoon of lemon juice (from a real lemon)
1 box of Stove Top Stuffing
1 cup of dried apricots diced
1/2 cup of chopped pecans
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/8 teaspoon of pepper
1 basting brush

Here is what you do:

Preheat your oven at 425 degrees. Rinse off the turkey breast and then pat it dry. Sprinkle the salt and pepper over the roast and bake for 15 minutes. While the turkey is roasting, empty the jar of apricot preserves into a small sauce pan and mix in the brown sugar and lemon juice. Heat the mixture on the stove until the preserves are softened into a more liquid state. You don't need to bring it to a boil. When the preserve mixture is softened where it can be spread onto the turkey roast take it off the heat.

When the turkey breast has roasted for 15 minutes take it out and baste the turkey breast with the apricot preserve mixture using the basting brush. Lower the heat of the oven to 325 and bake it for 1 and 1/2 hours, or as directed on package if the directions are different. Baste the turkey breast every 20 minutes while baking.

While the turkey breast is roasting up make your Stove Top Stuffing the way it says on the box, except use chicken stock instead of all water; then add the pecans to it and the apricots. Mix this mixture up well and place in a casserole dish sprayed with PAM. Transfer the stuffing into the casserole dish and bake for 45 minutes at 325 degrees. When the turkey breast is done take it out of the oven and let stand for 10 minutes before slicing.

You can make a gravy out of the turkey drippings if you want to by pouring the drippings into a sauce pan and adding 1 heaping tablespoon of Bisquick and heat on medium heat while stirring. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with mashed potatoes.



Recipe for Crock Pot Potato Soup

Potato soup is one of my family's favorite dishes. I make potato soup many different ways, but this one is one of my favorites. Potatoes are plentiful, and if you get caught short of money until payday you can make lots of meals with potatoes. This one recipe is just the way my dad made it when I was young. It is so simple, anyone can do it. I like to use a crock pot to make this recipe, because I can start it in the morning and then by supper it is ready.

Here is how I make my potato soup recipe:

Cut up 6 potatoes and put them through the food processor or chop them up into very small pieces by hand and place them in the crock pot. Add about 2 teaspoons of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper, and add 6 cups of water and 3 cups of milk. Add a stick of butter or margarine to this and let it cook. When the potatoes get tender add 1 and 1/2 cups of instant mashed potatoes to help thicken it up a little. Then add 1 and 1/2 cups of Parmesan cheese.

Serve with crackers, and douse with a good healthy portion of Louisiana hot sauce if you like. This is amazing. My family loves it.



Recipe for Curried Chicken

Here is a recipe that my dad handed down to me. We had chicken a lot when I was growing up. It was one of the cheaper types of meats back in the day, unlike now when there is nothing cheap anymore. Dad tired to make his chicken dishes taste different so we wouldn't get sick of having chicken all the time. We probably ate chicken 3 to 4 times a week when times were lean. Looking back at those days, I feel I was very fortunate to have meat on the table every day of the year.

Get your taste buds ready, because this curried chicken recipe will knock your socks off. It is so good! Maybe I'm just partial because it came from my dad, but I do think it is a real winner.

Here is what you need to make curried chicken:
3 cups of chicken diced into bite-sized pieces
1 cup of chicken broth
2 cups of half and half
1/8 teaspoon of salt
1/8 teaspoon of pepper
2 Granny Smith apples peeled and chopped
2 sticks of butter or margarine
1 large onion chopped
1 green pepper chopped
1 red pepper chopped
1/3 cup of shredded coconut
6 tablespoons of flour
1 and 1/2 tablespoons of curry powder

Here is what you do to make curried chicken

Note: Here is a good way to clean out your refrigerator. If you have left over chicken in the fridge, us it instead of cooking more.

Melt the butter or margarine in a skillet on medium low heat, add the onions, peppers, celery and apples. Saute them for about 5 to 6 minutes. The onions should be clarifying. Now add the flour and combine with the butter. Slowly add the chicken broth and stir until the flour is mixing well with the flour. Add the rest of the ingredients now. Stir the mixture frequently so that it doesn't burn on the bottom. When chicken mixture comes to a boil it is ready to take off the stove. From start to finish it shouldn't take longer than 30 minutes to make this delicious meal. Serve with rice and spinach if you like.


Recipie for Easy Banana Cream Pie

One of my family's favorite dessert is banana cream pie. I grew up with banana cream pie. I think the best pie was my best friend's mom. She made it all from scratch, but of course, I am more of the almost homemade kind of cooks. Because I don't have a whole lot of time to spend in the kitchen, I try to make the best of the time I have. I believe my banana cream pie recipe will be a hit with my readers, number one because it tastes good, and number two, because it is easy.

Here is what you need to make banana cream pie:

1 already made pie crust. (You can buy it already in the pie plate and you just have to bake it.)

1 Large box of (the kind you cook) banana or vanilla pudding (I like to use vanilla pudding for mine).

2 ripe bananas

1 carton of cool whip

Here is what you do:

The first thing you will do is bake your pie crust. Before baking be sure to poke little holes in the bottom of the crust so that the crust will lie flat in the pie plate. Bake your pie crust according to the directions on the package. Or you can make your own pie crust if you know how.

While the crust is in the oven prepare your pudding according the directions on the box. When the pudding is done place a piece of plastic wrap over the pudding so that it doesn't develop a skin on top as it cools. Let the pudding and the pie crust cool down in the refrigerator for one hour before preparing the pie.

When the pudding is cooled sufficiently, cut up one banana and fold into the pudding. Pour the pudding and bananas into the pie plate and top with cool whip. Cut up another banana and work them into the cool whip. Refrigerate for 3 hours before serving.


Recipe for Chicken and Cabbage Salad

Whenever I can, I like to make one dish meals. It's just so much easier that way. I like meals where there isn't a whole lot of clean up afterward. My cabbage salad recipe is more like coleslaw with a twist. Instead of using mayonnaise you use French, Catalina, or some other kind of salad dressing you like. You have your meat and your veggies all in one dish.

Here is what you need to make my recipe for chicken and cabbage salad:

1 bag of coleslaw mix
5 chicken strips cut up into smaller strips
1/2 cup of mixed nuts or peanuts
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
1 onion
3/4 cup of Catalina dressing or your favorite salad dressing

Here is what you do:

Empty a bag of coleslaw (or grate a half head of cabbage to make your own coleslaw) into a large bowl. Bake the chicken strips and cut them up into smaller pieces and set aside. Cut the peppers into bite-sized strips. Dice up your onions, or leave them in rings if you like. Add the peanuts, peppers, and onion to the coleslaw mix. When you are ready to eat add the dressing and toss. This is so good! If you have leftover meat from another meal in your refrigerator, you won't even have to cook any. Just cut the meat into bite-sized pieces and your salad is all set.



How to Avoid Baking a Soggy Cake

Everybody has a flop once in awhile

No, this isn’t a recipe for peanut butter coffee cake; this is a story about a beginner trying her hand at baking without a recipe. My dad had a knack for making up recipes in his head, and I do too, but my creations didn’t always turn out the way I had hoped. This is just a word about leaving a cake alone while it is baking, and if you aren’t sure if it is done yet, leave it alone to bake until you are fairly sure it won’t bottom out on you.

I do a lot of baking with Bisquick. It is my fail-safe staple that never goes wrong when I am baking. Well, that isn’t exactly true; I can never say never. One afternoon I was making a peanut butter coffee cake. I expected it to turn out beautiful. It would have, if I had not opened the oven door.

I was anxious to see if the cake was ready to come out of the oven; it looked so good. The coffee cake had risen to be beautiful. Was it done? I couldn’t really tell, so I pulled the cake to the edge of the oven rack and tapped it lightly on the top. My beautiful peanut butter coffee cake took a nose dive. The center of the cake was now concave.

Thinking I could still salvage my creation, I left it in the oven on the slight hope that I could coax it to once again rise to its former glory. I was bitterly disappointed. Upon taking the cake out of the oven, I saw a pitiful sight. Thinking positive, I thought all was not lost. I remember my brother said one time that there was nothing better than a nice soggy cake. Hoping for the best, I cut a slice and placed it on a dessert plate. It looked utterly awful, and as it sat on my tongue it was thick, heavy, and sticky.

I didn’t have a recipe to go by, so I was experimenting. I experiment a lot, and usually I have good results when I bake, but not this time. Upon retrospect I know what happened to my cake. The heat was too high. The cake was rising beautifully and it was getting done on the top and the middle was still wet and unbaked. When I pressed in lightly on the top of my creation it fell. If I had had my heat lower, say 350 to 375 degrees it would have baked fine, but I had my heat on 400 degrees and it was baking on top faster than it was baking in the middle, so when it looked like it was done, it really wasn’t.

If you like to bake, and you like to experiment with food, don’t be discouraged if you have a flop. This particular flop was so hideous that the dog wouldn’t even say it was good. He took a smell of it, and pushed the pieces around on the plate and he just snorted and walked away. I cried and promised myself that I would never bake again. Of course, I continued to bake and on occasion I continued to have some flops. Looking back on my flops, I can appreciate when my cakes come out of the oven perfectly.

If you like to bake, and you have an occasional flop, don’t be discouraged. Think about what you did wrong and try again. Don’t ever give up!


Recipe for Spaghetti Squash

I like vegetables, but sometimes I just want something different in the line of veggies. The other day I found a good sale on spaghetti squash, so I picked up 5 of them. You can make a meal off from spaghetti squash. If you are a vegetarian, you can make spaghetti squash and cover it with spaghetti sauce and eat it like regular spaghetti, but that is not what I do.

When you go to purchase a spaghetti squash you will need to note how the squash looks. The outer shell should be very hard; it should be a fairly uniform pretty yellow color. If you see bruising or discoloration on the shell of the spaghetti squash do not buy it. Only buy spaghetti squash that is not bruised or blemished, because they may be spoiled inside.

To prepare spaghetti squash, wash and dry it, and then you should cut it in half lengthwise. Spaghetti squash is very hard, so you will have to use a large sharp knife to pierce the skin of the squash and push the blade down into the squash. Once you get your knife inside the squash you will need to work the knife down to split one side; next start from the other direction and continue to split the squash. Once you have it split all the way, you then just pull the two ends apart until the squash breaks in two pieces. Now you will need to remove the seeds. Take a spoon and scrape out the seeds and throw them away. You can also save the seeds and dry them out for planting if you wish.

Once you have removed the seeds from the squash lay them flat side down on a baking pan lined with aluminum foil. Bake them in a 400 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes. When the squash is done the inside of the squash can be scooped out of the shell and into a bowl. The meet of the squash looks just like spaghetti.

All I do is add a bit of Italian salad dressing and top with Parmesan cheese. It is that simple. If you like you can serve with diced tomatoes, or you can prepare your spaghetti squash just like you would with real spaghetti. Any way you fix this vegetable is delicious.


Recipe for Crock Pot Vegetable Soup

The thing about crock pot meals is that there is not fuss. You can get your meal started in the crock pot with very little prep time if any. If you work you can start your crock pot meal and have it piping hot for when you come home. I work in my home; I'm busy from the time I get up until I go to bed, so I try to make my life as easy as possible. One way of making my life easy is by making a vegetable soup made in the crock pot. It's quick to prepare and simple.

Here is what you need to make my recipe for crock pot vegetable soup:

1 and 1/2 pounds of ground beef
1 chopped green pepper
2 stalks of sliced celery
1 medium sized bag of baby carrots
3 cups of water
3 teaspoons of chili powder
2 envelopes of onion soup mix
2 large cans of stewed tomatoes
1 bag of frozen corn
3 large diced potatoes

Here is what you do:

Brown the ground beef, and drain off the fat. Transfer the cooked meat into the crock pot. Add all the other ingredients and stir. Turn your crock pot on high for 1 hour, and then turn the heat setting to medium or low. If you work outside the home, just set your crock pot setting to to medium or low and the soup will be done for when you get home.

Serve with crackers or French bread. I love to get the French bread in the long hard loaf. It is so good to cut off a piece of bread and dunk the bread into the soup and eat it. My family likes to load the soup down with crackers to sop up all the broth from the soup.



Recipe for Banana Nut Bread

Don't throw away your overripe bananas! I have a simple recipe for you. As most of my readers know I am all about simple. I use Bisquick instead of flour in most of my baking because it always comes out perfectly. I wouldn't even know how to begin to tell you how to do it with plain flour, because I am a Bisquick kind of person.

My dad was a Bisquick kind of cook too. He made gravies from Bisquick, just as I do now. He was all about simple, and I got my simple ways from my dad. Why? Because they work!

Here is what you need to make this recipe for banana Nut bread:

2 eggs
2 cups of Bisquick
1/3 cup of melted butter
1 cup of sugar - use Splenda if diabetic
1/4 cup of brown sugar - you can omit or use brown sugar substitute if diabetic
1/4 cup of buttermilk
4 overripe bananas mashed
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 cup of chopped walnuts
Nonstick cooking spray

Here is what you do:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Put your eggs in a mixing bowl and beat them with a whisk. Then add the spices, butter, buttermilk, and the mashed bananas. Next just add in your Bisquick. When your banana bread mix well incorporated fold in the walnuts. Now just spray your baking pan and pour the mixture into your baking pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until done. The bread should spring back when lightly pressed.

This recipe is diabetic friendly, by using Splenda instead of sugar.


Recipe for Caramel Sauce from Leftover Coke

Waste not want not. That is something my dad always drummed into me. He took leftover Coke that had lost its fizz and made things from it. He cooked meats in Coke, and Dr. Pepper, and he made sweet treats from left over soda also. One of my favorite things he did with leftover Coke was to make a caramel sauce for ice cream. You can use any kind of soda really. He has also used cream soda to make it, but I like it made with Coke the best. This recipe is so easy.

Here is what you need to make a batch of homemade caramel sauce:

2 sauce pans
3 cups of stale Coke
1/4 cup of water
1 cup of granulated sugar
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1 stick of butter
2/3 cup of heavy cream

Here is what you do:

In one sauce pan you will pour your stale Coke or other kind of soda and reduce it to half of its volume. Then you will set it aside.

In another sauce pan put your water and granulated sugar. While heating it to boiling watch that you don't burn it. It should turn into a nice golden amber color. Once the sugar turns amber add the brown sugar, and butter. Remove from heat and stir with a wire whisk. Now add the cream and the reduced Coke and continue to cook until it becomes a syrupy consistency. Keep stirring with the whisk while it cooks down. Serve warm or cool over coffee cake, pound cake, ice cream, toast or whatever you like.



Recipe for Taco Macaroni Salad Dinner

Don't you just love a one dish meal? I do. My taco macaroni salad dinner is simple to make, and it tastes oh-so-good! This recipe belongs to my daughter. She is the taco maker in our family, and sometimes when we want something a little different she will make this meal instead of the regular taco and burrito meal.

Here is what you need to make the taco macaroni salad dinner recipe:

1 pound of ground beef
1 box of your favorite mac and cheese
1 taco kit (it has the taco flavoring and taco shells)
1 cup of picante sauce
1 cup of sharp cheddar cheese
1 chopped onion
1 chopped bell pepper
1 bag of salad mix
1 diced tomato
1/2 cup of sliced black olives
1 carton of sour cream

Here is what you do:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Prepare the onion and bell pepper and cook them with the ground beef in a skillet. When the meat is done, drain off the fat. Then add the taco seasoning, and picante sauce.

In a boiling pot boil the macaroni and prepare the mac and cheese according to the instructions on the package. Now mix the macaroni and cheese in with the ground beef mixture. Add half the cheese in with it.

Next you will transfer the mixture into a casserole dish, and top with the other half of the cheese. Break up the taco shells into small pieces and place on top of the casserole, and lightly press them into the casserole. Bake for 25 minutes. When you serve the casserole top with salad mix and top that with tomato and sour cream.



Recipe for Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes

What could be more decadent? Sweet potatoes are one of the most versatile veggies ever. You can make pies, cookies, breads, and cakes from sweet potatoes. Tonight I am fixing twice baked sweet potatoes for dinner.

Here is what you need to make this recipe:

3 large sweet potatoes
1/2 cup of chopped pecans
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
2 tablespoons of dark brown sugar
4 ounces of cream cheese
2 tablespoons of milk

Here is what you do:

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Line your baking pan with aluminum foil so you don't have a mess to clean up later. Lay your sweet potato halves face down on the aluminum foil. Bake the sweet potatoes for 35 minutes and let them cool so you can handle them. Once the sweet potatoes are cool enough, scoop out a good portion of the meat of the sweet potato into a bowl. Leave a little bit around the edges of the potato so that the skin does not collapse or tear.

Next use a potato masher to mash up the sweet potato. Add the cinnamon, brown sugar, cream cheese and milk. Mix this up well and put the mixture back into the sweet potato shells. Top the sweet potatoes with the pecans. You will need to lightly press the pecans into the sweet potato so they don't fall off. Now put the sweet potatoes back into the oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes to heat them all the way through again.

You can make this recipe bigger or smaller as you wish. I have a family of 3 and these 6 halves don't go to waste. They are great to have on hand in your refrigerator to eat cold or warmed in the microwave for breakfast.


Recipe for Spinach Salad

One of my family's favorite salads is spinach salad. My daughter will make a meal off this salad alone. Sometimes I add apples, sometimes strawberries, peaches and oranges. This recipe is so versatile you can use any fruit in this salad. This is also good for diabetics.

Here is what you need to make this spinach salad recipe:

1 bag of spinach salad leaves
1 large apple, or any fruit you choose
1/2 cup of mixed nuts
1/2 bag of mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup of spicy Italian dressing or a wine based dressing if you prefer

Now just toss the salad and serve.


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