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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

2 ingredient Sausage and Peppers Dinner

While my life is always busy the spring and summer seasons are always a bit busier. We are into many sports, love getting in nature, and being outside in good weather is great for the whole family. This recipe is one that I try to keep at the ready. Sausage and pepper dinner only takes 2 ingredients. 

Sausage and Peppers Dinner:
serves a family of 5
2 packages of sausage
1 (14 oz) package of frozen tri-colored peppers and onion blend 

This is so easy!  You ready?
Cut up the sausages into bite-sized rounds. If using the sausage I suggested from Walmart, then you will use up both packages of sausage. If you are using the sausage I suggested from Costco, then you will only buy one pack (since it’s a bulk buy) and you will only use half of the sausage in the package.
Brown the sausage in a large skillet until it is as browned as you like your sausage to be.  Then cut open the package of peppers and onions, and dump it into the skillet.  Cook until the peppers and onions are no longer frozen and just the way you like them and boom!  You are done!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Sesame French Bread

1 cup warm water (105-115 degrees F.)
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons shortening
3 cups flour, divided
Sesame seeds

Dissolve yeast in water with a pinch of sugar. Set aside for 5 minutes. In a large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, sugar, and salt. Cut in shortening to resemble coarse crumbs. Make well in center and pour dissolved yeast into it. Draw the dry ingredients into the liquid until all the flour is incorporated. Add up to 1 cup flour to make a stiff dough.

Sprinkle a board with flour, turn out dough onto it, cover and let relax for 10 minutes. Knead well. Place in greased bowl, cover, rise until double. Punch down, and let rise again until double.

Turn out dough onto lightly greased surface. Let rest 10 minutes. Flatten with a rolling pin into a rectangle about 1/4 inch thick. Roll up dough tightly, pinching the seam after each turn, to make a long, slender loaf. Pinch final seam firmly to roll to seal.

Sprinkle cookie sheet with cornmeal. Place loaf on sheet and slash 1/2-inch deep with diagonal gashes. Brush with and egg wash (1 egg white, 1 tablespoon water, 1 teaspoon salt; beat together). Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Let rise, uncovered, until doubled in bulk.

Preheat oven to 425-degrees F. Place large pan (metal, not glass) of boiling water in the bottom of the oven; place the bread on a rack above the water. Bake for 10 minutes. Brush again with the egg wash. Reduce the heat to 375-degrees F. and bake until the bread is golden brown and sounds hollow then tapped. Remove to a cooling rack.

Notes: The dough can be divided in half for baguettes, or made into crusty rolls, pizza, or English muffins.

Shawnee national Forest

The beauty of the Shawnee national Forest in Southern Illinois spreads out in 280,000 acres. The land is both breathtaking with its beauty and intimidating with its vastness. Each year there are individuals that get lost in the dense natural playground. If you decide to visit this area bring along bottled water, flashlights and other safety items including a plan. 

The Shawnee forest includes the Garden of the Gods and Cave - n - Rock State Park. There are also many secluded areas as well like the rugged Cedar Lake Trail System and its primitive camping sites.. 

I feel so lucky to live in such a beautiful area. If you ever want to just get away from it all the Shawnee National Forest is the place to go. 

Ag Day 2017

The Agriculture Council of America (ACA) hosted National Agriculture day today March 21st 2017. This year was the 44th anniversary of National Ag Day. Classrooms and communities across the country celebrate Ag Day. This years theme for Ag Day was "Agriculture: Food for Life"

National Ag Day is organized by Agriculture Council of America The ACA is a nonprofit organization composed of leaders n the agricultural, food and fiber community. They are dedicated to the efforts of increasing the public's awareness of agriculture's role in modern society. 

National Ag Day programs encourages every Americans to try to understand how food and fiber products are produced. This is not something that everyone understands but is easy to do for others. I personally grew up with grand-parents that were farmers and my own family had a large garden. I witnessed crops being raised, animals growing to be food, Sheep being grown for their fleece and so many other things. related to ag that I took on as every day others never saw or know about at all.

Without agriculture and all that is done by farmers and others that work our land we would not have all that we have now. The ACA wants everyone to recognize that the world of Agriculture brings with it value. A strong economy has many fronts and the world of Agriculture is part of that. 

There are many faces involved in the world of Agriculture. Not all of them will work to grow crops. There are some that will be involved in the animal world both raising them and caring for them like vets do. There are many more job opportunities as well some related to food and others to the fiber side of it all. 

Strawberry Cool Whip Cookies

Strawberry Cool Whip Cookies
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 9-11 minutes
Yield: 12 servings

1 strawberry flavored cake mix, dry mix only
8 oz container Cool Whip® Lite
3 egg whites
1 cup powdered sugar*
*Only 3 Tbsp powdered sugar are calculated into the nutrition. You will have much of the 1 cup leftover after covering the dough with sugar!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
Beat together Cool Whip® Lite and egg whites.
Add cake mix and stir together. Dough will be thick and really sticky. Refrigerate dough for 20-30 minutes.
Place powdered sugar in deep mixing bowl.
Remove chilled dough from the refrigerator and using a tablespoon, spoon and drop dough into powdered sugar.
Place covered dough balls directly onto cookie sheet and press gently with thumb to flatten into a cookie shape. Make sure to leave 1/2-1 inch between each cookie on baking sheet, as dough will spread while baking in oven.
Bake cookies for 9-11 minutes. Make sure to watch cookies closely in oven and remove before cookies turn brown.

Per Serving (3 cookies):
Calories: 187

Single Parent Day We Salute All Single Parents

In the many years I have been a parent  have always had a partner. Perhaps there were times that he was not present to help but always there to listen to me and offer advice. Single mothers do it every day, taking care of kids, running the house, fixing the meals and everything else that  may be needed done.

It's a hard job to the only person your children can come to for transport, affection, advice , homework help, and money. Doing the shopping, cooking, cleaning and home maintenance by yourself takes a lot of energy Yet you should not allow your self to be nagging or grumpy as your family needs you. I am not sure how single parents do it as I could not. Wtth out my husband I would be lost

The 2010 census showed that percentage of single father headed households with kids increased 27% in the decade from 2000 to 2010. Percentage of single mother headed households rose as well in that time period

There are lots of reasons why someone may raise their children alone. Whatever the reason s rest assured what they all have in common is the hard work that one must put into to care for their children. I for one would like to salute all single parent led families. The long hours you put into and the hard work you put into raising your kids on your own.

Use Up Those Buns

I love it when I can use up leftovers in ways that others may not ever think of. Hot dog buns are great for this as well. Yes of course use for hot dogs but oh so much more. No need to save for when you cook more hot dogs now you will have more ideas in your arsenal as well.

The first recipe I share is one that I learned when volunteering at bible school. Every year we cook lunch for all the kids, workers and parents that attend. One meal you will find on our menu is hotdogs and yet another is spaghetti. What do they have in common?? They both use up hotdog buns. For one meal how they were meant to be served. Hotdog buns are also used to make Garlic Cheese Bread.

Garlic Cheese Bread

4 hot dog buns
4 tablespoons butter (softened)
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 cup shredded Mozzarella

Mix together butter, Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning.
Tear each hot dog bun in half (longways) so you’re left with 8 individual pieces.
Spread the butter mixture over the tops of each half.
Top evenly with Mozzarella and put in the broiler for about 2-4 minutes, or until cheese is golden brown.

This next one you may just love a sloppy recipe made more manageable.

Not-So Sloppy Joes

1 lb ground beef
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon yellow mustard
3/4 cup ketchup
3 teaspoons brown sugar
6 hot dog buns

Place ground beef, onion, and bell pepper in a pan and saute until ground beef is no longer pink.  Drain fat.
Mix in garlic powder, mustard, ketchup, and brown sugar.
Allow meat and sauce to simmer for 20 minutes.
Dish up your sloppy joes.  About 1/2 cup of sloppy joe meat per bun.

French Toast Sticks
Ever bought the French Toast Sticks in the freezer section of the grocery store?  Well these homemade French Toast Sticks are so much better than those frozen ones!

4 hot dog buns
2 eggs
1/3 cup milk
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Whisk together eggs, milk, sugar, and cinnamon in a shallow dish.  (I like to use pie plates)
Tear each hot dog bun in half (longways) so you’re left with 8 individual pieces.
Dunk each half in the egg mixture.  Coat both sides.
Place on hot a griddle or frying pan with butter.  Flip as needed.  Serve with maple syrup.

Mini Meatball Sub
No idea what to make for lunch?  How about a meatball sub?  What I like about this recipe is that I almost always have all the ingredients in my house, including one of my favorite freezer staples, frozen meatballs.
1 hot dog bun
4-5 frozen meatballs
1/4 cup spaghetti sauce
1 slice deli-style Provolone cheese
1 teaspoon grated Parmesan cheese
Place meatballs in a microwavable bowl and cook for about 1-2 minutes on high.
Pour sauce into bowl, coat meatballs, and heat for another minute.
Align meatballs in the hot dog bun, add extra sauce if desired.
Sprinkle Parmesan and top with Provolone cheese.
Place on a cookie sheet and into the broiler for about 2 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

Give these recipes a try. Let me know if you have any more uses for hot dog buns

Monday, March 20, 2017

Happy First Day of Spring

Hope you were able to enjoy the first day of spring. Our family was able to do just that . Looking for more great spring days

Canned Ravioli has never tasted so good

I love to find great tips to save money. Saving money is my goal and sharing what I learned as you know I do quite often here at annies home. It is important to learn to be efficient with what we are given.

The above picture may just look like a can of ravioli to you but to me it looks like a great kitchen resource. It is an ingredient that can be very versatile in several recipes. With spring coming up there will be many days that quick meals will be needed. The great thing is that using this ingredient I can make quick meals that are economical as well.

Join me as we make many meals. Try one for yourself after all a can of ravioli only cost around $1. Use 1 can of Chef Boyardee for each person you are cooking for. Each of the recipes  shared here make 4 servings.

Chef Boyardee Lasagna Bake

4 cans of Chef Boyardee Lasagna
1/2 lb. cooked ground beef
15 oz. container of ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzerella
1/4 grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning

Open all cans of lasagna in a large bowl and mix in cooked ground beef.
In a separate bowl, mix together ricotta and Parmesan cheeses.  Add Italian seasoning to cheese mixture
Pour half of the lasagna mixture into a baking dish.  Spread with half of the ricotta mixture.  Repeat this step again over first layer.
Evenly sprinkle mozzarella over the top ricotta layer.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 – 25 minutes or until cheese is golden brown.

Mexi-Mac and Cheese

  • 4 cans of Chef Boyardee Cheesy Nacho Rotini
  • 1 lb. cooked ground beef
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 1/2 cup salsa (or leftover Taco Bell Border sauce packets)
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • sour cream (as desired)
  • tortilla chips

Mix together cooked ground beef, salsa and taco seasoning in a large bowl.
Open and empty all cans of Chef Boyardee and half of the cheddar cheese into the beef mixture.  Stir until combined.
Pour Mixture into a baking dish and evenly sprinkle with the remaining cheddar cheese.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 – 25 minutes or until cheese is golden brown.
Serve with a dollop of cool sour cream and tortilla chips for scooping.

Touchdown Chili Mac

  • 4 cans of Chef Boyardee Chili Mac
  • 1/2 lb. cooked ground beef
  • 1 stalk of celery (diced)
  • 1/2 onion (diced)
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • 1 can kidney beans (drained)
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the ground beef, onion and celery and saute for 10 minutes, or until meat is browned.
Add the kidney beans, salsa, and spices to the ground beef.
Stir in the 4 cans of Chili Mac and the cup of cheddar cheese.
Cook together for another 10 minutes or until the cheddar cheese and thoroughly melted.
Serve with your favorite chili fixin’s!

My Small Town America

I grew up in a small town in the central part of Illinois. This small town had pride and still does. Tractors and the American flag were both popular during my childhood. Both my grandparent were farming families and even though my parents grew up in town I must say that it was a town that is very different than were I raise my own children. It was a town where everyone knew each other and the streets were safe to walk on. It was nothing for your mom to let you go up town to buy a loaf a bread or spend the change you had collected at the young age of eight or nine. Every summer in this small town we would spend time out in the country enjoying Grandmas cooking on Sundays, playing baseball in the pasture or taking a leisurely walk looking for mushrooms.

Morel mushrooms were what we were after and when the weather started getting warm and after a good spring rain we would head out to look for them. Have you ever had morel mushrooms? Recipes to prepare the mushrooms may vary but the one that we loved the most was:

1 big haul of fresh morel mushrooms

2 lbs real butter (or margrine)
1 doz eggs
1 box saltine crackers

Mushroom Preparation - Wash and cut fresh mushrooms into quarters, slicing long way. Soak in large bowl of salt water to remove and kill all those little pesty critters. Leave soak in refrigerator for a couple hours.
melt butter in the skillet dip mushrooms in egg and then roll in saltines that had been crushed. Fry to a light golden color and then all there is left to do but enjoy

Spring is also the time for softball and baseball. Most kids in this area play ball from the age of six years old til they graduate in highschool. My grandmother and mom always believed in making a good meal with plenty of carbs for energy before playing the game. Whitey Herzog was the coach of the ST. Louis Cardinals when I was playing softball as the catcher of the team. In one interview that he gave he mentioned that spaghetti was the meal that many members of the team would have prior to playing ball. So guess what my mom went and did. yes, you guessed it she would make spaghetti dinner each night before playing a game of ball. Here is the recipe that she often used when I was a kid

1/4 cup Crisco

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 pound lean ground beef

1 tsp garlic salt

1 (4 oz) can mushroom stems and pieces, drained

1/4 cup chopped parsley or 2 tsp dried parsley flakes

1 (8oz) can tomato sauce

2 cups (1 lb can) tomatoes

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp oregano

1/4 tsp pepper

dash basil

bay leaf

1/2 pound thin spaghetti

In a large skillet melt Crisco, add onion and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in ground beef and garlic salt; brown. Add mushrooms, parsley, tomato sauce, tomatoes, salt, oregano, pepper, basil and bay leaf. Cover and simmer for 1 hour. Uncover and cook for about 1/2 hour longer, until sauce is desired consistency. Cook spaghetti as directed on the package; drain. Spoon meat sauce over spaghetti on platter or on individual plates.

These are just a few of my memories from early spring when I was a kid. Depending on where you lived you may have your own memories and they may be very different from my own. What were your memories? Would love to hear about them. Be watching for upcoming post as I share more about my childhood and the recipes that my mom, grandmas and my favorite cooks prepared.

KISS Financial System

The KISS Financial System is a system that many use to pay their bills and use their money wisely. KISS as in Keep It Simple Stupid does just that. It keeps everything automated, cutting down the level of effort and the number of decisions. Having few decisions to make increases the likely hood of sticking to the system.

In the financial system there is an event account for with drawing cash. That is there to prevent in accidents from happening, as in any money being "accidentally" overspending cash. Pay off the credit cards each month and sticking within your cash budget ensures the system will work.

Pineapple Coconut Torte

6 eggs
1 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup plain flour
1/2 cup self-raising flour
1/2 cup cornflour
1/4 cup coconut flavoured liqueur
450 g crushed pineapple, drained
500g block PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons caster sugar
1 cup toasted shredded coconut
 decorative flowers or sliced mango, to garnish
How to make it

BEAT eggs in a bowl with an electric mixer for 10 minutes or until thick and creamy. Add caster sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until the sugar is dissolved between additions. Fold in sifted flours. Divide mixture evenly over 2 x 20cm lined round cake pans. Bake at 180°C for 25 minutes or until a skewer when inserted comes out clean. Turn cakes onto a wire rack to cool.

PUSH canned pineapple through a fine sieve to remove the excess liquid. Make Philly cream by combining the Philly*, sour cream and sugar until smooth.

SPLIT cooled cakes horizontally and position the base of one cake onto a serving plate. Brush cake with one third coconut liqueur and spread with a layer of Philly* then 1/3 of the pineapple. Repeat layering twice more, replace top and then spread remaining Philly cream including the side of the cake. Press the toasted coconut around the side of the cake and top with decorative flowers or fruit.


The best way to soften Philadelphia block is to allow it to stand for 1 hour at room temperature or remove Philly from foil, cut into chunks and microwave on high for 30 seconds

recipe source here