Category Archives: Main Dishes

Shredded Beef & Gravy over Mashed Potatoes

4-20160329_185002This was truly a delicious home cooked dinner.  It doesn’t get much more satisfying than fork-tender roast beef with gravy and tender vegetables, all swimming in a fluffy pile of buttery mashed potatoes. That’s comfort food in every way! And, if you are trying to cook more meals without using pre-packaged ingredients and more whole foods, you’ll want to add this to your list!

Serves 4-6

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Broccoli Cheese Soup

20150216_112858The weather around here has been cold and windy recently. It can chill you down to the bone!  In these conditions, not much can satisfy like a hot steaming soup to warm up body and soul.

Though this broccoli cheese soup is made completely from scratch, using only real foods -it comes together very quickly, uses simple ingredients, and contains tender carrots and broccoli with a luxurious, thick and creamy, cheesy broth.

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Hamburger Rice and Cheese Dinner

20150121_175122I’m always on the look-out for yummy dinners that use ground beef, since it’s such an economical cut.

Add to that- budget friendly, and healthy, and free of packaged and preserved foods, and the options narrow down quite a bit.

But, I’ve decided this one is a keeper for my recipe books. My inspiration came from an old casserole recipe that I used to enjoy as a child.

Not only is this new and improved version really tasty, it’s also “cleaner”, using all real food- nothing processed or packaged. Budget-friendly ingredients like Ground Beef, Brown Rice, and chicken broth are key players, so it’s easy on the wallet, too.

Fresh basil adds the perfect little compliment to the creamy rice and beef- it really gives this dish a special flavor. And who doesn’t like bubbly, gooey cheese to top it all off? As a bonus, this reheats really well for great leftovers, too.

Serve up with 1 or 2 veggies as side dishes. Enjoy!

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Fresh Summer Chicken Salad

P1050885Last night I made chicken for dinner and since my Tim was out of town, we had more left over than usual.  So, when I began the search through the refrigerator today wondering what to whip up for lunch, Chicken Salad just sounded really good. I hadn’t had any in a long time!

Now, I know people are picky about their chicken salad. It seems like there is the camp that likes all the mix-ins- like grapes and celery, and nuts. And then there is the camp that adamantly hates that and likes it more plain. Well- I am one of those in the mix-ins camp. But, sadly I didn’t have any of that good stuff on hand to mix in!

So, I created this chicken salad with a fresh summer-flavored twist, using ingredients you are likely to have in your vegetable or herb garden this time of year, or that are in season for you to buy- and yum, yum, yum! I will make this again!

Instead of the traditional grapes, I used strawberries. Instead of celery, I’ve used cucumbers, plus fresh summer herbs and avocado. Perhaps the combination sounds a little weird to you, but it really hit the spot, and it was a great way to use up leftover chicken. It gave me a non-boring lunch for a change, too!

I ate mine right out of the bowl, but it would also taste great served over lettuce or on some good homemade bread! Give it a try!

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Chicken Noodle and Cheese Dinner

P1050828Want an easy dinner that everyone will love? Try this: Chicken and noodles, covered in a creamy sauce, and then topped with cheese.

That sounds pretty simple, right?

Well, it is!

It’s true- there is nothing fancy about this dinner, and there is nothing difficult about this dinner. But, there is a lot delicious about this dinner- and my kids and husband love it when I make it! And that is what makes it a keeper.

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Our Favorite Homemade Tortillas

P1050759We love tacos around here. I make them a lot. It’s one of those meals that everyone at the table is always excited to eat- and without complaints- yay!

Switching to my own homemade Taco Seasoning from packaged taco seasonings was one of the first changes I remember making when I began to switch to truly homemade food.

But, this favorite meal of ours still needed a change…the tortillas.

So, we have recently switched from the store-bought pre-packaged tortillas to this homemade version.

And here is why- Instead of eating this along with our tacos: whole wheat flour, water, vegetable shortening (partially hydrogenated soybean and/or cottonseed oils), contains 2% or less of leavening (sodium bicarbonate, sodium aluminum sulfate, corn starch, monocalcium phosphate, calcium sulfate), salt, molasses, vital wheat gluten, fumaric acid, mono- and diglycerides, fully hydrogenated cottonseed oil, guar gum, sodium metabisulfite, soy flour, calcium propionate, and potassium sorbate (preservatives), enzymes. (found here)….

…we now enjoy tortillas made with only flour, salt, baking powder, lard (or butter), and water!

These tortillas are sturdy enough to hold all your fillings without falling apart, they are soft, and you will find them a little thicker than store-bought tortillas.

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Cheesy Chicken and Vegetable Chowder

P1050643

Where soups are concerned, I think this one is my very favorite!

My sister-in-law, Christa, first introduced me to her version of this soup many years ago, which is very similar to the way I now make it.

Hearty and comforting, this soup is creamy and cheesy, a little bit thick- like a chowder- and filled with tender chunks of chicken and vegetables like carrots, celery, potatoes, corn, and onions.

P1050641I love it all over again…every time!

Not only does it taste great on a chilly evening for dinner, it also warms up to make wonderful leftovers that taste just as good for lunch the next day.
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Fresh Ham Steaks in the Crock Pot

P1050413When we had our pig butchered, I was introduced to many cuts of meat that I was not accustomed to using- cuts that you don’t see in the normal grocery store. But more than that- I also found out that cuts like “ham steaks” and even a whole ham is much, much different when it is fresh and uncured, like the ham I used to buy at the grocery store.

Those hams have been processed and treated with nitrates and preservatives, which greatly affects their taste and appearance.

My fresh, uncured whole ‘ham’ from our hog, had the texture and taste more like a roast- Definitely not what we are used to eating on a ham biscuit, along with eggs, or on the platter for Easter dinner. The ham steaks were the same way.

This was going to take some getting used to. I looked for some recipes for the ham steaks, but nothing looked that great to me. From what I read, though, I did gather that fresh ham steaks have a tendency to be a little tough and also dry.

So, I decided to just start experimenting until something worked. And….I finally figured out the perfect recipe. In fact, this has become a much enjoyed and popular dish at our house! It is moist, tender, and tastes great.

So, in case you were wondering, too, here’s how to prepare fresh ham steaks! (I think the recipe would work equally as well with pork chops!)

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Tasty Barbecue Chicken Legs

P1050357Here’s a great Main Dish for any weeknight at your house. It’s easy and cheap and a family-pleaser!

Chicken legs are a very economical cut of chicken, so they are a great choice if you are wanting to save your pennies! Perhaps one of my favorite ways to prepare and eat chicken legs is with Barbecue Sauce.

In this method, I remove the skin of the chicken legs, so that the sauce sticks right to the chicken itself. Removing the skin also makes them a little less fattening, if that’s something you are wanting to watch. I have found that I much prefer eating chicken legs without the skin in the way. I never liked that all the good coating or sauce, or whatever was used, was only on the skin, and then you have all that bare chicken underneath. Personal preference, yes, but maybe you feel the same way?

In this recipe, I both bake and grill the chicken legs. Bake first to ensure the chicken gets cooked fully and evenly- then finish off with grilling, either on an outdoor grill if weather is warm, or even on an indoor grill. I have done both.

I use my Homemade Sweet BBQ Sauce to coat them up. The end result will be juicy, tender, and very messy chicken legs!

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Homemade Chili

P1050218I love chili! Don’t you? It’s a cold weather classic- perfect for fall parties, chilly nights, football games, or even as yummy leftovers for lunch! (Hubby and I both thought it tasted even better the next day!)

This is a hearty, traditional and family-friendly chili made with tomatoes, onion, garlic, beans, herbs, spices, and ground beef- and not super spicy. (This is one of those recipes I like to use some of my preserved tomatoes from the summer’s garden!)

Growing up, Mom always served chili over rice with cheese on top that melted into the chili to make something delicious! So, that’s how I do it too!

If you like, think ahead and prepare the beans in the slow cooker earlier on in the day. (instead of buying them canned) and bake a dish of Baked Brown Rice while the chili is cooking!

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