Category Archives: dinner

Joan’s Cottage Cheese Pineapple Lime Salad Mold


by Deborah Taylor-Hough


This Sunday is Easter, and in honor of my mom, I’m sharing her special holiday recipe.  Mom’s holiday salad mold lives on in the family, and my dad still prepares it every year for our family’s Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.  If there’s not at least a small scoop of this on my plate, it just doesn’t quite feel like a holiday meal.  It’s been in the family for at least 50 years.  A real blast from the past.  🙂

This recipe’s official name is “Pacific Lime Mold.”  Why Pacific?  Maybe because there was pineapple added to it?  It was created around the time period when Hawaii became a state, so maybe it was a nod to the islands?  I remember that I just called it “Mom’s Jello Thing.”  Other people in the family called it Joan’s Jello.

I suspect a lot of families had something similar appear on their family dinner tables back in the heyday of Jello recipes and aspics.  I sometimes think our moms and grandmoms all used the very same recipe booklets from the major food manufacturers.  Everyone seemed to make the same perennial goodies —  things like Green Bean Casserole with Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup, for example.

So without further ado, here’s the recipe for Mom’s jello thing.

Joan’s Cottage Cheese Pineapple Lime Salad Mold

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 small package lime flavored Jello
  • 1  9-oz can crushed pineapple (reserving juice)
  • 1 cup creamy cottage cheese
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (or salad dressing)
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts (or pecans)

Instructions:

  1. In a large bowl, dissolve jello in boiling water, and stir in juice from pineapple.
  2. Chill in refrigerator until slightly thickened.
  3. Remove from refrigerator and beat until frothy.
  4. Fold in remaining ingredients.
  5. Pour into serving bowl or festive gelatin mold.
  6. Chill until set.
  7. Serve cold.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Deborah Taylor-Hough is the mother of three grown and nearly grown kids still at home, a full-time college student, a displaced homemaker trying to make ends meet on a limited budget, and the author of several older (but still in print) books including the popular Frozen Assets cookbook series.  You can visit Debi online at:  http://www.SimpleMom.com


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A Secret to a Relaxed Holiday Dinner

Can you imagine a relaxed Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner without needing to actually cook a turkey on the big day? You’d be able to enjoy the festivities as much as your friends and family!

Believe it or not, it’s possible to roast your turkey ahead of time and store the cooked meat in the freezer to reheat and serve on the big day. If this sounds a bit too much like eating leftovers, let me assure you that by following these simple freezing and reheating instructions, you’ll have moist, delicious turkey — and not one of your guests will suspect you didn’t spend the entire holiday slaving away in the kitchen keeping watch over a hot oven. Continue reading

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Debi’s Favorite Easter Recipe: Make-Ahead Chicken Packets


by Deborah Taylor-Hough


It was truly a sad day in our house when three of the four of us could no longer eat this particular meal. This recipe had become my go-to meal for Easter brunch — they’re actually quite elegant looking and they taste heavenly.

But sadly, now I’m the only person in our immediate family who can eat this anymore. I think I might make up a batch of them just for myself, however. It’s also a great way to use up leftover roasted chicken. 🙂

Serve this with steamed asparagus and a fresh tossed salad. Yum! Continue reading

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Mix-and-Match Skillet Meals


by Deborah Taylor-Hough


The following recipe is one I prepare regularly to use up leftovers or clear out the cupboards. I keep a copy of this taped to the inside of my pantry door at all times.

This recipe is adapted from my book, Mix-n-Match Recipes (now out-of-print). I’m always amazed at the meals I can create from these simple, basic formulas. I also save money by choosing ingredients I have on hand. Sometimes I even surprise myself with a delicious nearly-gourmet combination or two!

Also an excellent way to use up leftover turkey or ham from your holiday dinners.  🙂 Continue reading

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Debi’s Baked Ziti


by Deborah Taylor-Hough


This is one of those recipes my family can never get enough. I remember my youngest daughter when she was about three, holding out her plate with a huge smile and asking in a sweet little voice, “More yummy noodles, Mommy?” Always a pleasure when the kiddos enjoy an easy meal the grown-up folks love, too. Continue reading

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It’s National Frozen Foods Month! Come celebrate with me!

To celebrate National Frozen Foods Month, I’m going to be posting at least one freezer-related article, link, resource, or tip everyday throughout March on my Facebook Fan Page. Just “like” the page while you’re there so you’ll get the latest daily updates.

Click here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Simple-Mom/203857025823

Be sure to tell your freezer-cooking, convenience-loving, and money-saving friends!

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Mix-n-Match Soup Recipe

The following recipe is not only easy and delicious, it’s also a simple way to use canned, dried, and other easily stored food items in a delicious homemade soup. Excerpted and adapted with permission from Mix and Match Recipes: Creative Ideas for Busy Kitchens by me, Deborah Taylor-Hough (this title is currently out-of-print).

Mix-and-Match Soup (8 generous servings)

Broth (choose one)

  • Tomato: One 12-ounce can of tomato paste plus two 16-ounce cans of tomatoes with juice (chopped) plus water to equal 10 cups total
  • Chicken/Turkey: 10 cups broth or 4 bouillon cubes dissolved in 10 cups of water
  • Beef: 10 cups broth or 4 bouillon cubes dissolved in 10 cups of water

Protein (choose one — 1 pound or 2 cups, cooked)

  • Ground beef, browned
  • Leftover meatballs or meatloaf, chopped
  • Cooked chicken or turkey (cut up)
  • Ham (cut up)
  • Lentils
  • Frankfurters, sliced (or any sausage or Kielbasa)
  • Pepperoni, sliced
  • Beans, cooked or canned (pintos, kidney, Great Northern, etc.)

Grain (choose 1 or 2 for a total of 2 cups)

  • Rice, cooked (any variety)
  • Barley, cooked
  • Pasta, raw
  • Corn
  • Dumplings (add near end of cooking time)

Vegetables (raw, cooked or canned, choose 2 or more for a total of 1 to 2 cups)

  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Onion
  • Potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Green beans
  • Turnips
  • Parsnips
  • Broccoli
  • Peas or pea pods
  • Cauliflower
  • Bell pepper
  • Zucchini (add raw)

Seasonings (choose 2 to 4 spices, 1 to 2 teaspoons each)

  • Basil
  • Cayenne (dash)
  • Chives
  • Cumin
  • Garlic
  • Marjoram
  • Onion powder
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Parsley
  • Oregano

To Prepare Soup:

Bring the broth to a boil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven. Add all of the ingredients and salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat and simmer one hour.

Slow Cooker Prep:

Pour the boiling stock and other ingredients into a slow cooker and simmer for 8 to 12 hours or overnight on LOW setting.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Deborah Taylor-Hough is the mother of three grown and nearly grown kids still at home, a full-time college student, a displaced homemaker trying to make ends meet on a limited budget, and the author of several older (but still in print) books including the popular Frozen Assets cookbook series. You can visit Debi online at: http://www.SimpleMom.com

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Super Simple Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 can (12-ounce) frozen apple juice concentrate
  • 1 bag fresh cranberries

Instructions:

Heat apple juice in a medium saucepan until boiling (don’t add water, just use the frozen juice straight from the can).  Sort out any bad cranberries, then add the entire bag to the boiling apple juice.  Stir.  Reduce heat to Medium.  Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until cranberries “pop” and their innards burst out into the juice.  Turn off heat.  Press any unpopped cranberries against side of saucepan to squeeze out their insides.  Stir thoroughly.  Place in refrigerator for several hours.  The sauce will thicken as it cools.  It’s best to make this the day before to make sure it has plenty of time to cool and thicken.

Easy peasy.  And so yummy!  (And healthy, too!)

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All-Purpose Ground Meat Mix

One of the easiest ways to save money on your family’s grocery bill is by purchasing foods in bulk when they go on sale. When ground meat goes on sale, rather than just stocking up to store in the freezer “as is,” many cooks find it helpful to prepare meat mixes for using later in their favorite family recipes.

By preparing this recipe for All-Purpose Ground Meat Mix, you’ll be ready to fix any number of tasty ground meat recipes without needing to brown the meat, onions and spices each time you cook. Not only will this technique save you money, it saves time too.

The following recipe is from the book Frozen Assets: Cook for a Day, Eat for a Month by Deborah Taylor-Hough (SourceBooks).

All-Purpose Ground Meat Mix
(Makes about 12 cups)

This is a basic ground meat mix that can be used in many casseroles and recipes.

5 pounds ground meat (beef or turkey)
2 cups celery, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups onion, chopped
1 cup green pepper, diced
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt (optional)

Brown meat in a large pot. Drain. Stir in celery, garlic, onion, green pepper, salt and pepper; cover and simmer about 10 minutes until vegetables are tender but not soft. You can use this mixture immediately during your cooking session or freeze in two-cup portions for later use.

Suggested Uses (be creative):

Tacos:
Add one package taco seasoning to two cups All-Purpose Ground Meat Mix (follow package directions for amount of water). Freeze. To serve: thaw and heat taco mixture; prepare tacos as you would normally.

Taco Potatoes:
Follow instructions for taco mixture (above), but serve the mixture over baked potatoes instead of tortillas or taco shells. Top with grated cheese, diced tomatoes, sour cream, sliced green onions, sliced black olives and salsa.

Easy Taco Salads:
Follow instructions for taco mixture; place a layer of corn chips or tortilla chips on plate; spoon taco mixture over chips; add layer of shredded lettuce; add diced tomatoes, sliced green onions, sliced black olives, sour cream and salsa.

Sloppy Joes:
In a large skillet, place two cups Ground Meat Mix, one (10 3/4 ounce) can tomato soup, two tablespoons brown sugar, and one teaspoon prepared mustard. Stir. Cover and simmer ten minutes. Serve ladled onto hamburger buns.

The All-Purpose Ground Meat Mix can also be used for: stuffed peppers, chili, spaghetti, and baked ziti (further recipes can be found in the Frozen Assets book).


Deborah Taylor-Hough is the author of the bestselling Frozen Assets: Cook for a Day, Eat for a Month and A Simple Choice: a practical guide for saving your time, money and sanity. She also edits the Simple Times email newsletter. To subscribe, visit Debi online at: thesimplemom.wordpress.com

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What a Crock! Easy Tips for Crockery Cooking

When I think of crockery cooking, I always see in my mind’s eye, my mother’s old avocado-green crock sitting on our turquoise and white 1960’s kitchen counter. What a thing of a beauty it was … NOT! 

But today’s crockery cookers are sleek, modern appliances you don’t have to hide away in the dark recesses of the pantry or garage anymore.
 
 If you like the experience of walking in the door and smelling dinner cooking without you slaving away in the kitchen preparing the meal, you’ll love the convenience of a crockery cooker. Take a few minutes in the morning before work or school to throw some ingredients into the pot, set it and forget it. When you come home at dinnertime, you’ll be greeted by the heavenly aroma of an easy dinner. What could be better than that?
 
 At the end of the day when I’m tired and ready to put my feet up, the last thing I want to do is dive into a bunch of meal preparation work. But in the morning, I’m refreshed and able to put more energy into food prep. But even then, it’s not much food prep. Maybe a bit of chopping and browning, but no more than ten or fifteen minutes worth of work, at the most.
 
 Some of the benefits you’ll find from dusting off that lovely retro-crock in the back of Grandma’s attic are:
 
 BENEFITS OF THE CROCK  
  • You can buy tougher (and less expensive) cuts of meat because the crock acts as a tenderizer

  • Meat shrinks less when cooked in the crock, and doesn’t dry out

  • A crockery cooker doesn’t heat up the kitchen nearly as much as the stovetop or oven, so it’s a perfect hot weather cooking appliance

  • Frees up space in oven and stove top, great to use for parties, large gatherings, or doing a large cooking session for the freezer

  • Flavors have time to develop while your meal slowly cooks all day

  • Tofu tastes better cooked this way because it has time to soak up the flavors from broth, spices and other ingredients

  • Can be used on a buffet table for serving hot foods (soup, stew, sauces, meatballs in barbeque sauce, etc.)

 
CROCKERY COOKER TIPS
 
 You’ll want to keep the following tips in mind when choosing and using your crock: 
  • Choose a crock with a removable liner. You’ll have more flexiblility in ways to use it, and it’s easier to clean.

  • Buy a large one.

  • Best if used for recipes with a high water content – things you’d normally prepare on the stovetop such as spaghetti, soup, chili, stew.

  • For best results, fill the crock at least half full with food and/or liquid.

  • If you’re cooking something like a stew or soup, leave at least an inch (preferably two inches) empty at the top beneath the lid to allow for the food to bubble when it reaches a simmer.

  • Don’t peek! Lifting the lid adds time to the cooking process by letting heat out. Add 15-20 minutes to the cooking time for every time you lift the lid to peek or stir.

  • High altitudes need longer cooking times. Check with your crock’s Manufacturer’s User’s Guide for their recommendations.

  • Brown meats ahead of time for additional color and flavor.

  • Browning also removes some of the fat from the meat. Fatty meat cooks more quickly in the crock than lean meat.

  • Meat and poultry cooks best if cut into smaller pieces or chunks rather than cooking as a whole roast or a whole chicken.

  • Fish and seafood should be added near the end of the cooking time in seafood soups, stews and chowders.

  • Vegetables such as carrots and potatoes, should be added to the bottom of the crock beneath any meats, etc. Hard vegetablees need a longer cooking time, and the bottom is the first part of the cooker to heat up, so they’ll start cooking sooner.

  • Stir in cheese at the end of cooking, or use processed cheese.

  • Milk curdles during long cooking times. Add milk near end of cooking time (the last hour, or so).

  • Add spices near the end of the cooking time.

  • Stirring usually isn’t required during slow cooking on Low heat. You might want to stir once or twice during the last hour, but remember that every time you lift the lid, you’re adding to the cooking time. Two stirring sessions equal a minimum of half an hour longer cooking.

 

SUGGESTIONS FOR A SAFE AND SANE CROCK

 The crock itself should be safe to use providing you don’t have an old one with frayed cords or some other defect. The following tips on safe user ideas can help keep your family healthy and the cook from being burned: 

 
 

 

  • Use fresh or completely thawed meats. Don’t add frozen meats directly to the crock.

  • Be sure the crock is clean before using.

  • Keep perishable foods refrigerated until ready to use.

  • Always include liquids in all crockery cooking recipes.

  • Remove the cover by opening away from your face. The steam is hot enough to burn badly.

  • Don’t leave the cooker turned off with food in it for any length of time. Start cooking right away, and serve hot from the cooker.

  • Don’t let food sit at room temperature to cool.

  • Keep the crock covered while cooking. The lid on a crock doesn’t provide a tight seal (it isn’t suppose to), but it’s important to keep the lid in the center of the crock for best results.

  • Don’t set the hot crock on a cold surface unless you put a hot pad, trivet or towel underneath.

  • If the power goes out while you’re away from home with the crock running, throw the food away even if it looks hot and done. The power might have been off long enough for the food to cool, start growing bacteria, and then reheat by the time you arrived home.

  • Don’t reheat leftovers in a crock, but you can use the crock as a food warmer for foods that have been cooked and heated in the oven or on the stovetop.

For complete details and recipes for the crock, you’ll find lots of helpful information in the following recommended books:
 

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