Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Making Weeknights Easier

Well, the cold has slowly but surely made it’s way around our house this past week.  Hopefully, the worst is now over.  I find myself having a hard time sleeping at night after catering to the kids all day, maybe I’m just too tired to sleep.  I have discovered some new takes on some traditional casseroles and soups this past week.  I made up a fabulous cheeseburger casserole that was a big hit with my family as well as a take on the traditional Italian wedding soup.  I also made a great discovery with a sunbutter chocolate chip cookie for my family; my kids call them mookies (half muffin, half cookie).  The recipe has kept great in the freezer.  I was excited to find none of them turned green.  I never knew, before attempting these recipes anyway, that chlorophyll could react with baking soda to turn the cookies or muffins green.  I discovered it on my first attempt at the muffin aspect of the cookies.  After researching the final green product, I cut the baking soda and baking powder by half and made “mookies”.  My next big step is to make my first pie crust and I still want to make homemade pasta again.  Homemade pasta is the only thing I miss from our days filled with gluten, I’ve tried a couple of times with the pasta dough just breaking apart.  I will conquer the homemade pasta before it’s over!  Right now, our family is looking forward to some warmer weather and the activities that follow.  My oldest Nubian, Heidi, is due to have her babies at the end of February; something we are excited about.  I miss my goat milk.  I love the routine of milking in the mornings, making homemade cheese and yogurt, and my family is looking forward to the ice cream.  For those of you who have never tried raw milk or goat’s milk at all; it has a great flavor.  The milk is not as fatty as cow’s milk, and a lot of people whom are lactose intolerant can tolerate goat milk.  The butter is actually white and very creamy.  Luckily, we are not a dairy free household.  I do plan to also clean up my greenhouse before January is over.  I have an even larger garden planned for this year.  Now more than ever, I appreciate growing our own fruits and vegetables.  Not only is it much more economic but also healthier.  This year will be my first attempt at growing grains; I plan on trying Quinoa.  I’m not sure how it will turn out and look forward to hearing your welcome advice.  For now, I thought I would pass along the cheeseburger casserole recipe.  We were lucky enough to have some fresh thick cut bacon and homemade garlic pickles as additions.  Let me know what your yummy additions will be.  I made this recipe up on a weeknight last week.  I made a HUGE batch hoping to have enough to freeze for another night, not so lucky due to everyone demanding the leftovers the very next night.  Oh well, at least I have a new family favorite to add and hopefully you will, too.

Cheeseburger Macaroni Casserole

Elbow macaroni
1 lb. ground beef
5 strips bacon cut-up
2 green onions chopped
6 dill pickle slices chopped
½ stick butter
4-5 tbs. potato starch
1 lb. bag shredded cheddar cheese with ½ cup reserved
2 cups milk
2 heaping tbs sour cream
2 tsp ground mustard
Salt & pepper to taste

Cook beef and bacon; drain and set aside.  Cook macaroni; set aside.  Add potato starch to melted butter one tablespoon at a time whisking well.  Add milk to melted butter, continue whisking.  Add cheese; whisk until melted and starts to thicken.  Add ground mustard, sour cream, salt and pepper; combining well.  Combine macaroni, beef mixture, onions, and pickles.  Stir to combine.  Add to large baking dish and top with remaining cheese.  Place in preheated 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, which is just long enough to toss a salad!