Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Hamburger Steak

Okay, so this recipe is surprisingly delicious. I mean, who'd have ever thought that making a hamburger like a steak would be good? Well, it is and my kids even love it. The meal takes probably about 30-45 minutes with prep and everything. It's a fairly common southern dish and is another one that just spells comfort. You can find this on the menu at Cracker Barrel, actually you can find a lot of my dishes on their menu. I make a lot of down home comfort food. BUT let me just say...Cracker Barrel's hamburger steak doesn't hold a candle to this recipe! Not to brag or anything, but it's absolutely delicious! I wish I could take all the credit but I can't since I found the recipe years ago on Allrecipes. Sometimes, it's one of my go to meals when I don't have anything to cook. I usually have all the ingredients on hand with some ground beef in the freezer. Hope you enjoy it!
Hamburger Steak
a.k.a. Poor Man's Steak

salt and pepper to taste
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 egg
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup thinly sliced onion
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup beef broth
1 tablespoon cooking sherry
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

In a large bowl, mix together the ground beef, egg, bread crumbs, pepper, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, and Worcestershire sauce.                

 Form into 8 balls, and flatten into patties.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Fry the patties and onion in the oil until patties are nicely browned, about 4 minutes per side.  

 Remove the beef patties to a plate, and keep warm. I then like to keep the onions in a little bit longer so they can caramelize a little more. (I love the onions but DH and my Princesses don't so when they are done, I remove most of them to the plate with the meat and just hoard them all to myself when it's dinner time.)

 Sprinkle flour over the onions and drippings in the skillet. Stir in flour with a fork, scraping bits of beef off of the bottom as you stir.              

 Gradually mix in the beef broth and sherry. (Make sure to measure the sherry with a measuring spoon. I don't always measure things exactly unless I am baking. The last time I made this I didn't measure it and the sherry was a bit too strong. The tablespoon called for is just the right amount.) Season with seasoned salt. Simmer and stir over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, until the gravy thickens.

Turn heat to low, return patties to the gravy, cover, and simmer for another 15 minutes. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Princess2 Was Potty Trained in "Less" than a Day!!

Okay, well...sorta...but I am NOT joking! She really is potty trained! Let me just answer, because I know what you're all thinking..."No I'm not "Super Mom"" lol...I wish... Actually, I can take no claim for success other than I know how to follow a recipe. So, how, might you ask, was I able to do this? Sit back and I'll tell ya!

 Here's what happened. A long time ago I was directed to an excellent book called Toilet Training in Less Than a Day by Nathan H. Azrin and Richard M. Foxx. Apparently it's been around since before I was born and a friend's husband's mother (ha ha) used it on him (he's my age). Well, I don't know about you but when I saw it, I  didn't believe it was a bit skeptical. Could this really work? Seriously? In one day? (note the sarcasm) Even with all the questions, I soo wanted to believe the hype so I went out and bought the book. I read it through and figured it's worth a shot. Well, when I read it, I figured out that it was a little outdated so I decided that there were some parts I would choose to ignore or adapt...Well, low and behold, the method really worked! I first used this on Princess8 and Princess5.  Don't get me wrong now...every child is different. So things may not work exactly perfect. There are certain readiness signs and if you rush your little one, then it won't work. I tried to rush Princess8 so when it didn't work, I just went back to normal diapers until I was ready to try again. Then when I did it again when she was ready, she never had an accident after Day 1 until a year or so later when she was sick. When I tried with my Princess5...she was not as easy peasy (but she never is..it's in her personality). She had a quite few accidents afterwards and especially when her baby sister was born. BUT for the most part it worked pretty well.
SO, over this past weekend...actually Sunday afternoon I decide to begin the process. If you want to try it out yourself, then you'll need a few supplies. What you'll need is a potty chair, a doll that pees (got this from Toys R Us), the book, a bunch of treats (sweet and salty), and plenty of juices or drinks. Basically, you are using bribery. Actually, they are rewards. You begin by training the doll and showing the child how the doll pees in the potty. You have several "pants inspections" praising for dry pants and chastising (no punishment) for wet ones. Show the doll how to pull their underwear down, sit on the potty, pee, pull its pants up and wash their hands. Meanwhile, you are actually teaching the child at the same time...sneaky sneaky... Then you move on...checking pants every 5 minutes at first, gradually increasing. You also have them sit on the potty every 15 minutes for 10 minutes at a time decreasing as they progress. There are accident "fire drills" for when accidents occur as well. It is pretty well laid out in the book. I don't want to give all the details because I didn't create this method. But pretty much you have a Potty Training Boot camp weekend when using this method...however I must say...I never had to buy pull-ups this go-round. We went from diapers straight to panties for Princess2. And for the other two, I bought one pack each and never went through the whole package for either if that tells you anything.
So the gist of it is, the child will be potty trained in less than a day. Yes. But that doesn't mean that accidents won't occur, because the full learning process may take longer for some. Typically, they've learned the fundamentals on Day 1 but they just need more practice with bladder control. I still put a diaper on her at sleeping times. The first night she woke up completely dry! I thought I had another little prodigy on my hands!...ha ha...but the next day at nap time the diaper was wet and the 3rd day she woke up wet. BUT nap time Day3 she stayed dry. SO, what does this mean? It is just a case by case thing. Like I mentioned previously...every child is different. Have patience. Princess2 had two wet accidents and two poopy accidents, but she's poopied on the potty 4 times in 3 days which is the most challenging aspect of the process...I should know, I teach 2 year olds for a living :)...

Currently we are on Day3 and she remained dry ALL day and asked to go potty numerous times and actually went. She even poopied today on the potty too! (btw I must mention, we did the potty chair just for the first day. The second day we put the seat on the big toilet so she can at least get used to the height because they need to learn to use the bigger potties for the times when you are out of the house.If they don't it's a whole other learning process, and honestly..what's the point of training at home if they won't go and you have to put pull-ups on when you're out. Plus, as far as I know, most daycares don't like potty chairs for sanitary reasons. I've worked at two and neither had them.

Addendum**Now it is Day4 and she has not had an accident for two days and she stops what she's doing to ask to go potty...even in our basement playroom! (Oh and now she is using the regular toilet seat without crying...baby steps...but these are quick baby steps!) Seriously one proud Momma here!

So, my advice to all you moms out there. GET THIS BOOK! You won't regret it (I hope). If anything else it gives you a starting point so you don't feel like you're going at this blind. My Dad always said "You girls didn't come with instruction manuals!" Well, I beg to differ...here's one instruction manual that we DO have! I believe it's less than 10 bucks. A deal if you think of the diapers and pull-ups you'll not have to buy. Good Luck!!

Monday, February 13, 2012

DIY Valentines Cards for Classmates

Okay, SO I am addicted to the site Pinterest! Are any of you?? I found THIS adorable idea for making Valentine's Cards for classmates and showed it to my Princess8 and she liked the idea. Ours aren't as fancy as the original, but I wanted her to do most of it herself. I got a fancy paper punch from A.C. Moore and she did a simple braided friendship bracelet.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Chicken (Noodle) Soup

Okay, so this is a recipe I've made for a few years now. It's just one of those things I think everyone should have in their freezer because you never know when you're gonna need some chicken soup. Think about it, what if YOU get sick. Are you really gonna feel like cooking up some? And for me, those canned soups just don't hit the spot the way this does. Nothing spells comfort like a good hearty bowl of chicken (noodle) soup, especially when you're under the weather.


1 (3lb) whole chicken
6 stalks celery, halved
1 large onion halved
6 carrots, peeled and halved
water to cover
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp. chicken bouillon granules
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. parsley
3 cloves garlic peeled, whole

2 potatoes peeled and cubed (optional)
2 cups egg noodles cooked according to package directions (optional)

1. So first you want to prep the veggies and rinse the chicken. Remove the innards if there are any inside.

2. Place chicken in a large stock pot with all carrots, celery, onion, thyme, rosemary, parsley, bay leaves, garlic and salt and pepper. (Be generous with the salt, because the broth is bland without seasoning. Fill with water.

3. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a low simmer. Cover but leave the lid cracked to vent a little. 


5.Cook for 1 to 1 1/2 hours (Chicken will fall off the bone.)

6. Remove chicken and let cool enough to handle. 

7. Spoon out all the veggies. Chop celery and carrots and half of the onion (unless you love that much onion, you can keep all of it.) 

8. Put the veggies back into the broth and bring to a boil again. (If you are using potatoes then add them with the veggies. I don't normally do potatoes AND noodles, too much starchy foods, but you can decide if you want both.) 

9. Remove chicken from the bone and shred or break apart by hand. You may also chop with a knife if you prefer.

10. Add chicken back to broth (cook until potatoes are done). Taste the broth and adjust seasonings. (If it needs more salt and pepper, now's the time...one common mistake is not tasting the food to make sure it's seasoned right.) Add noodles into each bowl before you ladle in the soup. If you add the noodle to the soup, then they will absorb a lot of the liquid and will become mushy and the soup will be a little more dry.


Place a handful of cooked egg noodles in the bottom of plastic cups (if desired). Ladle the cooled soup into  the plastic cups. Freeze immediately. Once frozen, cut the cup away from the soup and store in gallon freezer bags.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

My Mother in Law's Amazing Spaghetti

Okay, so this recipe just makes me smile! I mean, what spells comfort food like a nice big bowl of spaghetti and meatballs? When I first moved up to Philly with my DH, (over a decade ago...which is crazy) his mother made this for one my first meals with his family. And let me tell ya, I was in love...with the spaghetti. For me, growing up down south, we got our spaghetti sauce from a jar. Yeah, it tasted fine, but seriously, spaghetti from a jar? It doesn't hold a candle to sauce slow simmered on the stove with large homemade meatballs and hot italian sausage. SO, needless to say, if my dear mother in law ever invites us for spaghetti, we don't have to think twice :) She was so gracious as to share her recipe with me (not like Marie on Everybody Loves Raymond, she's a sweetheart) so I make it somewhat often for my family. DH says it tastes just like hers, but for some reason mine isn't as dark, but it's sure delicious! You can portion it out and freeze for later if you'd like also. Still tastes amazing!

1 lb. Hot Italian Sausage
For Meatballs:
1 lb. ground beef
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. minced onion (I use the dehydrated in the spice aisle)
1 T. fresh chopped parsley or 1 tsp. dried
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 milk

For Sauce
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1 large can tomato sauce
2 - 6 oz. cans tomato paste
1 T. dried oregano
1 T. dried basil
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced

1. Mix ground beef, bread crumbs milk, minced onion, egg, parsley, and Parmesan together in a bowl. Use your hands to mix together, they are your best tool. Try not to over mix. You want the meat to sort of be the consistency of play-doh. Add a little more milk if it's too dry, or breadcrumbs if it's too wet. (A tip I got from one of my Italian friends:) when my meatballs were turning out dry sometimes.) Sometimes you can make more meatballs if you prefer, but just adjust ingredients accordingly.

2. Roll out the meatballs between 1 and 2 inches in diameter with your hands.

3. This step isn't a must, but I've found it really makes a difference. Place the meatballs on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper and freeze. This can be done the night before, or even the week before. Or you can make a large batch of meatballs to use multiple times and just pull them out when you're ready to make sauce. For this instance, I just froze them at lunch time (I was home that day) and put them in the sauce when I was ready. I've found that the frozen meatballs stay together and don't fall apart in the sauce as much as the fresh ones. A few times I ended up with a meat sauce. :(.

4. When you are ready to start cooking, put the tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, and tomato paste in a large pot. Add the oregano, basil, bay leaf and garlic. Stir to combine. Cook over medium to medium high heat until in begins to boil. be careful, because boiling tomato sauce is brutal. It makes big pops and if you're not careful it'll the bubbles will pop right in your face. Ouch! I know from experience...

5. While you're waiting for the sauce to boil, cut the sausage link in 1 1/2 inch sections and brown in a skillet. You are not trying to cook them through, just brown the casings.

6. Remove to a paper towel to drain. Use another paper towel to pat them dry. Just trying to get rid of the excess oil.

7. Once the tomato sauce begins to boil, carefully put in the meatballs and then the sausage. Remember, the boiling sauce bubbles and pops so don't get hurt :)!

Put a lid on but leave a crack to vent. Cook on low for 3 hours. Stirring occasionally to keep the sauce from burning on the bottom. (Every 15 minutes or so) Be sure to stir gently so the meatballs don't break apart, just lightly scraping the bottom.
Serve over your favorite pasta and enjoy the best sauce recipe ever!

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