Thursday, October 23, 2008

Tired of the Same Old Dinners?

Anyone who's spent time in a kitchen has wondered what to fix for dinner/supper. It's easy to fall into a routine, whether that's picking up take out because you're tired or in a hurry or rotating the same 8-12 meals throughout the month. Heck, I know plenty of people who would be hard pressed to create eight different dinners a month, let alone 12!

So, today I found myself in this predicament and went in search of "something I haven't had in a long time." Got myself distracted salivating over old favorites and before I knew it Sweetie was asking "what's for supper?"

We had leftovers from last night and then I got back to some serious cooking. Yeah, another evening of batch cooking. Three separate meals are precooked and tucked away in the frig.

Sorry no pictures, some thing's wrong with our camera battery charger, but here's the recipes for what I made:

Sauerkraut Meatballs

2# hamburger
1 C. fine bread crumbs (throw some bread in the toaster on "Lite" then leave them to dry for half an hour on the counter and crumble)
1 Pkg. onion soup mix or 1/2 cup chopped onion and 1 teas. dry beef soup base
3 eggs
Mix these ingredients well and shape into balls. Do not brown them; just place them in a 9x13-inch ungreased pan.

Sauce: 1 bottle chili sauce, 1 can whole cranberries or cranberry sauce, 1 can water, 1 C. brown sugar, 1 16oz. can sauerkraut. Simmer these ingredients in saucepan. Pour sauce over the meatballs. Bake covered for one hour at 350 degrees.

Serving suggestions: I've served these over plain cooked rice, homemade egg noodles and mashed potatoes.

Chinese Hamburger

1# hamburger, browned
1 large onion, chopped
1-1/2 C. chopped celery (I dice an entire package of celery and freeze it in quart bags for later use)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 C. soy sauce
1 C. water
1/2 C. uncooked rice
1 can bean sprouts, drained
1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained

Brown hamburger, celery, and onion. Place in a casserole and stir in remaining ingredients. Bake covered at 350 degrees for one hour. I serve this with a salad or fruit. It is one of those "I can't stop eating this" kind of dishes.

Chicken and Rice Balls

1/2 C. chopped celery
1/4 C. chopped onion
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons flour
1/4 C. chicken broth
2 C. cooked rice
1-1/2 C. cooked, diced chicken
1/2 C. shredded cheddar cheese
1 beaten egg
1/2 Teas. salt
1/2 Teas. chili powder
1/4 Teas. poultry seasoning
1/2 C. cornflake crumbs
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/4 C. milk

Cook celery and onion in the butter. Blend in the flour and broth. Add the rice, chicken, cheese, egg and seasonings. Form into 12 balls, roll in the cornflake crumbs, and place in an ungreased 13x9 inch pan. Bake at 35 degrees for 25 minutes. Heat the cream of chicken soup and the milk and pour over the chicken/rice balls and serve.

While cooking today I thought of how infrequently people use the lids that come with their pots and pans. If you don't own lids, get some. They save on cooking time and fuel. Turn the burner off five minutes before you normally would and the trapped steam/heat will finish the cooking for you. Using a lid also allows one to cook at a lower temp.

Well, have some sorting and packing to do. We'll be headed north the first week in November and I'm a pre-packer. No last minute looking for things or worrying about forgetting something. Of course I tend to be anal so I start with a list and periodically review it up until the time we load the truck.

Tomorrow I'm working on our monthly shopping list. I keep a notepad near my wing chair and jot down things as I think of them. Then I check the pantries and closets and finally, I look at the sales flyers that sometimes arrive in our mailbox.

That's all for now. Have a great evening, Treesong

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