Dinner This Week - 11.17.14-11.22.14

It is finally cold here. Really cold. OK, not so really cold, but it seems cold because we dropped from 60's to 80's to 20 overnight. Normally, whatever normal is for Nebraska weather, we have a couple of weeks in the 40's to make the transition from fall to winter. No such luck this year.

In other news this week, I opened my Etsy shop. Right now it has an array of vintage Rand McNally maps with more vintage goodness to come. Check it out at etsy.com/shop/ArtsAndCraftsHome.

While on Etsy, I've managed to make a dent in my Christmas shopping. Hopefully those Barbie clothes from Hungary get here in time.

In my pre-Thanksgiving week, I'm trying to keep things simple. This week has one overnight for my department retreat in addition to my regular Monday sorority night so you'll notice pizza AND breakfast for dinner. :)

Chicken and Dumplings
Fresh Pineapple
BFD: Breakfast for Dinner
Skillet Chicken, Zucchini & Green Beans over Rice
Smoked Pork Loin Chops
Roasted Broccoli
Cheesy Garlic Bread
Dinner Out!
Veggie Beef Soup
Grilled Cheese Sandwiches


Chili and Cast Iron Cheesy Cornbread

Nebraskans eat cinnamon rolls with chili. It's a rule. Since I like breaking rules, I have been opting for cornbread lately. Tonight's cornbread features a great local product - Jisa's Farmstead Cheese New York Cheddar Curds. Delightful! The Jisa family owns a dairy and makes cheese in a facility on their farm about a half an hour from where I live. They are one of a few local cheeseries I love to support. Fortunately, I can get Jisa's many varieties of cheese at my local supermarket.

This is a great example of a meal that comes together quickly with the aid of some starters. The secret to the chili is Dei Fratelli Seasoned Diced Tomatoes. These tomatoes already have garlic, onions, celery, etc. in them so I don't have to clean and chop any of these. I LOVE these tomatoes. They appear often in our diet. I have been known to save a little in one of the cans to eat straight from the can. They are that good.

I usually have browned ground meat or cooked shredded meat in the freezer in one pound packages. This also speeds up the preparation of this recipe. While pulled pork is our favorite version, the image shown is ground beef. Depending on what is going on when I am preparing these packages, they may include shredded veggies - usually carrots, onions and sometimes zucchini. This is another time saver. While I am finding the pan and opening cans, the meat can be defrosting in the microwave.

Depending on my day, this chili recipe can be done in the slow cooker, on the stove or in the oven. It involves about five minutes of prep.


3 14.5 oz. cans Dei Fratelli Seasoned Diced Tomatoes
1 15 oz. can No or Reduced Sodium Black Beans
1 lb. browned ground beef, sausage or turkey or leftover pulled pork or roast beef
Chili Powder to Taste

For Slow Cooker: Combine all ingredients in the slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.
For Stovetop: Combine all ingredients in a heavy dutch oven or stock pot. Simmer on medium 20-30 minutes stirring regularly.
For Oven: Combine all ingredients in a heavy dutch oven. Cover. Bake at 350 degrees for 1-2 hours.

Cast Iron Cheesy Cornbread

4 tbs. butter
1 8.5 oz. supermarket or name brand corn muffin mix
1 egg
1/3 c. milk
4 oz. Sharp Cheddar Cheese Curds - I use Jisa's Farmstead Cheese's New York Cheddar Nuggets

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Put the butter in an 8-12-inch cast iron skillet. Place the skillet on the oven's middle rack to melt.
Prepare the muffin mix according to the package's directions. Fold in cheese curds.
Pour batter in hot butter in the skillet. Place in the oven for 12-15 minutes. I find adding the cheese increases baking time a bit. Check for doneness using a knife or toothpick in the center of the cornbread. It should come out clean.

In this instance, I had chili and cornbread. For leftovers tomorrow, I'll have chili over cornbread or maybe broken cornbread chunks in my chili. You have some options. Like all chili, it can be served with a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt, a sprinking of cheddar cheese, onions, avocado, olives or other toppings that work at your house.

Enjoy! How do you like your chili?

Dinner 10.24.14 through 11.01.14

It is good to be home! The break in the posts was a result of work and family requiring a lot of travel and not so much dinner at home. I only have one more overnight trip through the end of the year for work, and it is only one night. Yeah! Honestly, the opportunity to travel and learn new things and meet new people is one of the things I love most about my job, BUT it seems like I haven't been home much lately.

Fall is in the air, though it is still hitting 75 degrees most days. We are finally getting some serious leaf color (fortunately, I didn't miss that). Dinners reflect cooler weather. I recently borrowed Meat and Potatoes by Rahm Fama from the library. We are trying a few things this week from it before it must be returned.

Friday, 10.24.14
Chili and Cast Iron Cheesy Cornbread
Saturday, 10.25.14
Chicken and Cheese Ravioli Primavera with Steamed Veggies
Sunday, 10.26.14
Chicken Fajita Nachos
Monday, 10.27.14
I'll be spending my birthday evening at Sigma, everyone at home can have breakfast for dinner aka scrambled eggs and toast.
Tuesday, 10.28.14
Scalloped Potatoes with Smoked Pork Chops
Garlic-Thyme Veggies from Meat and Potatoes. I'll be using a broccoli and cauliflower mix.
Wednesday, 10.29.14
Slow Cooker Beef Stew
Thursday, 10.30.14
Pistachio Crusted Pork Scalopini Chops, also from Meat and Potatoes
Savory Bread Pudding Muffins, yet again, from Meat and Potatoes
Green Beans with Bacon
Friday, 10.31.14
Dinner will be out depending on how trick or treating goes.
Saturday, 11.01.14
We'll be Sneak Peek-ing.

Have a great week!


Dinner This Week - 09.28.14

Last week included a trip out of town for work and a trip out of town for fun so dinner plans were nonexistent. This week is a little crazy in our world, too. Monday is my sorority meeting. I'm super excited to be back advising the professional sorority of which I was in as an undergraduate student after a break. Sigma Alpha is a tremendous opportunity for young women with a heart for agriculture. I'm even more excited that for tomorrow night's sisterhood event, they opted for yoga! I need it this week. :)

Tuesday is a big work day. The Nebraska Department of Roads is building a bridge about 2 1/2 hours from the office with a lot of innovative technology meant to reduce the time and cost of building a bridge on a low-volume road. I'm hosting an open house for roads professionals at the construction site. In addition, we are broadcasting a live web cam with time lapse photography that has been a bit of a headache this week. Fortunately, we installed with time to fix before too much happens on-site.

The middle of the week is quiet, which is good as Friday is a licensure exam for my job ... a six-hour exam with a six inch stack of study materials to go with it.

The rest of the family's schedule is normal this week except that harvest is ramping up and and G is starting to get busier at work, too.

Dinner this week will hinge on our ability to plan and execute! Here goes ...

Beef stew with fresh potatoes and carrots, garlic bread, watermelon, and apple crisp
Dinner out!
Breakfast for Dinner - Scrambled eggs and toast or French toast or Apple pancakes
Grilled bacon-wrapped sirloin filets, grill-roasted broccoli, fruit, and garlic bread
Greek chicken, veggie TBA, watermelon
Dinner out!
Sausage, potato and green bean skillet dinner and fruit


Leftovers Refashioned - Ham and Beans over Cornbread

The plan posted on Sunday went a bit awry this week. The grocery store trip did not yield many of the items on the list from the ad ... one of the consequences of shopping after the deli and meat counter are closed near the end of the ad week. (I also see that I left Wednesday blank which is OK, I guess, since I think I had Cheerios for dinner that night.)

One of this week's improv dishes utilized a leftover meaty hambone from the freezer and some pantry staples. For cornbread, I use my store brand mini-box that goes on sale for 2/$1. To dress it up, I'll add a cup of shredded sharp cheddar or another strong cheese.

Ham and Beans over Cornbread

  • 1 meaty hambone left over from previous meals. I store mine in the freezer for future use. If frozen, I always thaw before slow cooking.
  • 2-4 cans low- or no-salt beans ... I used one can of black and a can of great northern.
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1 tbs. worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cloves pressed, grated or minced garlic
  • 1/4 c. dehydrated onion flakes
  • 1/2 c. beef broth

Combine all ingredients in a sturdy Dutch oven over medium heat on the stovetop. Allow to simmer until the sauce thickens and the ham bits slide easily off the bone.

Remove the bone and discard. Remove any bigger-than-bite-sized chunks of ham and chop or shred into smaller pieces. Return ham to mixture. Serve hot over prepared cornbread.

You may notice this isn't hot or spicy. To bump it up a notch, include red pepper flakes or your favorite hot sauce.


Dinner this Week - 09.14.2014

Fall is upon us, well, at least it has been. Temperatures in the fifties late last week but predictions are back up to eighties by the end of the week. We are going to start making the transition to cool weather foods while enjoying the last few weeks of CSA.

Chili and cornbread
Barbecue ribs, baked beans, potato casserole and grapes
Chicken nachos, homemade guacamole and pears
Dinner out
Chicken and noodles, CSA veggies, and pears
Spaghetti with CSA veggie sauce and garlic rolls

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