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The Secret Is In The Sauce

About Me

North Carolina, United States

Contact Me

To contact me, please
e-mail me at
inmimiskitchen@yahoo.com

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My Disclosure Policy

1. All my posts are written for myself first (with my followers in mind of course). If I make money from a post due to third party advertising such as Google or Foodbuzz, then so much the better.
2. If I write about a product, cookbook or restaurant, chances are that I received the product, cookbook or meal for FREE.
3. If I write a review about a product, cookbook or restaurant that was not FREE, I will disclose that in my post. I will always write about local establishments and businesses (non-chain) gratis- I support local businesses and hope you will too.
4. FREE product does not guarantee a positive review.
5. If you are interested in sending me a book or product to review, or want me to review a restaurant, please know that I make every effort to post reviews within 4 weeks of receiving a book, within 2 weeks of receiving a product, and within 1 week of dining at a restaurant.
6. I write for several websites and print publications in addition to my blog and my writing interests are strictly food or cooking-related, so please make sure that your book or product is food-related in some way.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010

My Other Blog is Foodista's Blog of the Day

Today my other blog, $2 Dinners, is being featured as blog of the day on Foodista! For those of you who may not know about $2 Dinners, it's based on my column in the Burlington Times-News and features budget-friendly recipes that cost $2 or less per serving to make. Stop by and check it out! Please also check out Foodista....a fun and free-to-join cooking community/cooking encyclopedia that everyone can edit.
Friday, December 3, 2010

I just joined a great new food blogging community

Hey ya'll...I just joined a great new food blogging community that I want to share with you. It's called Foodie Blogroll and it's lots of fun.....they have community forums, great contests and lots more. Right now they are having a contest to promote Foodie Blogroll and the prize is a great customized FBR tote. It's easy to enter...all you have to do is join!

So if you're a foodie, what are you waiting for? Join Foodie Blogroll today and network with other foodies, get your blog noticed and be part of a fantastic food blogging community!
Thursday, December 2, 2010

My Favorite Cookware Set


People often ask me for advice on cooking tools and ingredients, and they usually want to know what I use in my own kitchen. When it comes to cookware, I tell them that in Mimi's Kitchen, we use Le Creuset.

I bought the first piece of my Le Creuset cookware set, a
5 qt. Dutch Oven, a few years ago and my husband thought I was out of my mind. I understand his reaction....he's an accountant after all, and $230 for a single piece of cookware could seem a bit much even to someone who doesn't think about dollars and cents for a living. (For the record, I bought it with a gift card!).

I had always heard about Le Creuset enameled cast iron cookware, but had never owned a piece before this one. I tried it out and that was it...I was hooked! I use it for soups, stews, roasting and braising and everything I make in this all-purpose beauty comes out perfect every time. It's safe to say that this Dutch Oven is my new favorite cooking tool and one that I use several times a week.

Since that first purchase, I have gotten several more pieces of Le Creuset, and I continue to be impressed with their quality and performance. I plan to keep adding to my collection, and in fact, I'm hoping that this year for Christmas, I'll find a set of Le Creuset stainless cookware under the tree! (Hint, hint…could someone please send Santa a link to this post for me?).

I truly believe that when it comes to cookware, you get what you pay for, so don't let the cost deter you from trying Le Creuset for yourself....save up, get your first piece, and add more as you can down the road.....you'll be glad you did!
Tuesday, November 2, 2010

No Kid Hungry - Please take the Pledge!

Thanksgiving and Christmas are right around the corner and if you're like me, you're probably beginning to plan your menus and dreaming about the "ooh's and aah's" you'll receive for yet another holiday culinary masterpiece. But while we're busy with dreams of the perfect turkey dinner with all the trimmings, there are children in this country, probably in your own town, who are just hoping for any meal at all. Think about that for a second and let it sink in ok? While you plan your holiday meal there are children in your town who are going hungry!

According to Share Our Strength's website, "49.1 million Americans - including nearly 17 million children - lack the means to regularly put enough nutritious food on the table . They are food insecure and struggle with hunger." How can this be? In a country with the resources that we have here in the U.S., the fact that 17 million children are going without enough to eat makes me angry and sick at heart. But you know what? I realize that getting angry and feeling sick won't help unless I use those feelings as motivation to take action and make a change.

Author and playwright Howard Zinn once said "Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world." What an awesome concept! As individuals, it would be difficult if not impossible to stop childhood hunger alone. But if each of us acts, together we can make a difference. That's what today's post is about...each of us taking action, no matter how small, to help stop childhood hunger, and that's also what Share Our Strength's "No Kid Hungry" campaign is all about. They believe that by creating an "army" of people united by this common cause, we can stamp out the problem of childhood hunger once and for all by the year 2015.

In closing today's post, I want to challenge each of you to click on the link above and take the "No Kid Hungry" pledge today. I also want to challenge all you food bloggers to grab Share Our Strength's  badge or widget and post it on your blog, and to dedicate a post to making your readers aware of this national tragedy. For more ideas on ways you can help, please visit SOS's website.

Remember, if we join together, we can achieve no kid hungry by 2015!


Friday, October 29, 2010

Mix-n-Match Casseroles

I'm a huge fan of any kind of casserole, after all, what's not to like? They're easy to put together, I usually have the ingredients on-hand in my pantry or fridge, and most of them use only one pot or pan (ok...two if you have to cook pasta or rice). So, unless you or someone in your family is one of those people who hate their food mixed together, or (yikes!) someone who hates the foods on their plate to touch each other, casseroles are just plain easy, delicious, and a busy cooks' best friend! (No offense intended to the mixed-food-hating, no-food-on-the-plate touching people, you can't help how you feel...I just don't get it)

One of the things I love most about casseroles is that I can make them with whatever I have on-hand in the fridge and pantry, mixing and matching ingredients to build a casserole around my basic "formula" that I adapted from a recipe I found in my mother's recipe box. I do this so often, that over the years I've come up with a chart of sorts that helps me mix-n-match my ingredients based on what my family likes best.

The following chart gives you an idea of how you can mix-n-match pretty much whatever you have on-hand to create your own fabulous casserole. The rules are simple: make your base, choose 1 item each from the sauce, meat, veggie, and starch choices, combine with base, add anything you want from the optional add-ins, top with your choice from the toppings selctions, and bake! That's it...one pot, no hassles, and you don't even have to cook the rice or pasta first. How easy is that? You can mix-n-match your own fabulous and delicious casserole tonight! Click on this Mix-n-Match Chart to get started.

Note: You can "plan" these casseroles ahead by cooking extra meat and freezing or refrigerating it for later use. I often do that with ground beef or chicken, by cooking extra portions than freezing it in one lb. or one cup portions so I can grab-n-go!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Where you been Mimi?

Yikes! Has it really been two months since my last post? I've been so busy getting the new business going, working on the cookbook etc. that I guess I didn't realize! Thanks for being so patient with me everyone...I'll have a new post in the next day or so....have a cooking competition at the NC State Fair tomorrow (wish me luck!) and the parental units are coming for the weekend, but I'll figure out a way to make it happen.
Friday, August 6, 2010

$2 Dinners on WSVA this afternoon


Just a shout out to all my followers that my $2 Dinners will be on the radio today...WSVA in Harrisonburg Virginia at 3:35. Check out the live stream by clicking here.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Year of Soup Recipe Challenge Week 14 - Cold Veggie and Avocado Soup

It's the "dog days" of summer and that means hot, miserable weather for most of us, and here in North Carolina where I live, it also means the added pleasure of high humidity too. On days like this, the heat just sucks up every bit of energy and motivation I can muster, and the thought of cooking anything or heating up the kitchen makes me want to head for the hills!

This week's soup is perfect for hot, humid summer days because it requires no cooking, and takes just a few minutes to prep. It's very similar to a Gazpacho, but with the added surprise of cool, creamy avocado pieces that take the refreshment factor to the next level. Try it tonight!


1 bottle (32-ounce) spicy cocktail vegetable juice
2 large tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped
2 medium avocados, seeded, peeled, and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 large celery stalk, thinly sliced
1 medium yellow pepper, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium cucumber, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh cilantro, chopped, (or 1/2 teaspoon dried cilantro leaves)
1/2 teaspoon chili powder

In large bowl, combine all ingredients. Cover and refrigerate soup at least 30 minutes or until ready to serve.
Thursday, June 3, 2010

Year of Soup Recipe Challenge Week 13- Easy Gazpacho


Gazpacho is the soup for summer....there's nothing quite like a bowl of this tangy and refreshing soup to quench your thirst and cool you down on a hot summer day. You can whip it up in a few minutes and since it's served cold, the heats stays out-of-doors instead of in your kitchen!




Easy Gazpacho

1 (14-1/2 oz.) can Italian-style diced tomatoes
2 1/4 cups V8 juice (regular or bold and spicy)
1 cup beef broth
1/2 cup chopped and seeded cucumber
1/2 cup diced green or yellow bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
3 tbsp. lime juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp. hot pepper sauce
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
olive oil

Combine all ingredients except salt, pepper and olive oil in a large bowl. Reserve 1/2 cup mixture for garnish and place remaining mixture into a food processor or blender and pulse until it is a coarse puree. Season with salt and fresh ground pepper and chill until cold. When serving, garnish with 1 tbsp. reserved veggie mixture and a drizzle of olive oil.
Sunday, May 30, 2010

Year of Soup Recipe Challenge Week 12- Shrimp Bisque

So I've been a bad girl and gotten waaaaayyy behind on the Year of Soup Challenge here at Mimi's kitchen (again). What can I say? I have quite a few balls in the air and I've just discovered that (wait for it) I am NOT superwoman and have had to let some of those balls drop. Unfortunately, one of those balls was this blog and for that I'm sorry. It's like this: I have so many ideas....so many things I want to do with my cooking and writing, plus a full-time job that pays the bills, a family, a big ole' barn of a house, and three pets to take care of, and I tend to set huge goals for myself. Sometimes I take on too much (as my wonderful husband frequently tells me) and have to step away to regroup. Anyway, I'm trying to get back on track and I hope ya'll will still want to come along with me.

It's Memorial Day weekend and for most if us that signals the start of summer.  To me that also means the beach, the ocean, and lots of seafood. I love seafood of all kinds, prepared just about any way you can think of, but if I'm being totally honest, I have a special place in my heart for shrimp. Obviously, I also love soup...no matter what time of year it is...even in summer. Today's soup combines two of my favorite things: soup and seafood in one delicious, savory bowl....it doesn't get much better than this...it's rich, creamy, and satisfying, Try it and you'll see what I mean!

Shrimp Bisque

1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/2 lb. pound cooked or raw shrimp, de-veined with tails removed and cut into pieces
2 cups fat-free half-and-half
1 cup tomato sauce
1/4 tsp hot sauce
1/4 cup dry sherry
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp. butter
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan. Add bell pepper and onion; saute on low heat until soft, 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add shrimp, half-and-half, tomato sauce, hot sauce, sherry, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Add butter. Put 1/2 of the hot mixture carefully into a blender and process on high for 10-15 seconds. Transfer bisque into serving bowls. Repeat with remaining 1/2 hot mixture and transfer to serving bowls. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Serves 6.


Saturday, May 1, 2010

My Very First Blog Award!


I just received my very first blog award, and it's even more special because it came from one of my very best bloggie friends, Sofia. I met her at HalfHourMeals.com, where I am a writer, and we have been fast friends ever since! We follow each others' blog and I have had so much fun reading her posts and trying her wonderful and oh-so-tasty recipes. Do yourself a favor and check out Sofia's delightful blog, Food ideas, and try some of her recipes (the Frango-A-Bras is so different and really amazing). Thank-you once again to Sofia, for this award...I am honored and very appreciative of the recognition.

Since I love giving presents, it's time to pay it foreword and recognize other bloggers who inspire and entertain me. So (drum roll please)  I have chosen the following people/blogs to receive the Sunshine Award. Congratulations to the winners, please check out their wonderful blogs!

My Carolina Kitchen

Mrs. Southern Belle

Peel Me A Grape

A Cheese Curd in Paradise

Vintage Victuals

Bo's Bowl

TV Food and Drink

Chow and Chatter

Food Baby

Food Wanderlust

Off the Menu

Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker

Congrats to the winners! And now, it's time for you winners to share the award and make somebody happy:

1.Put the award logo on your blog or within your post
2.Pass the award to 12-well-deserving bloggers
3.Link the nominees within your post
4.Let them know they received this award by commenting on their blog
5.Share the love and link to the person from whom you received the award
Monday, April 5, 2010

Your Comments

I love to read your comments because they let me know that someone out there is reading my blog, and as I promised before, I'll post them all, good or bad (unless they're way-over-the-top nasty). BUT...like I mentioned in my post of January 24th....please, please make your comments in English, or at least give me a clue where you're from! More and more often I am getting comments in some Asian language (Chinese? Japanese? Korean?) and since I don't know what it is, I can't translate it. I would love to be able to post comments from my International visitors, but I can't when I don't have much to go on.

Here's the problem ya'll- If I can't identify the country or the language, then I can't use Bablefish to translate...it's as simple as that! Bottom line....if I don't know what it says, I'm not going to post it to my blog.
I'm not trying to be ugly about this, but if you are able to read my blog enough to want to comment, then I figure you are probably capable of leaving your comment in English (or at least give me a clue where you're from so I can try a translating tool). Otherwise, thanks for stopping by, but don't bother to leave a comment because I can't post it.

Thanks!
Mimi
Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Year of Soup Recipe Challenge Week 11- Caldo Verde: Portuguese Kale Soup

It's week 11 of the Year of Soup Challenge here in Mimi's Kitchen, and I have another awesome guest post! This week's soup recipe is from Sofia, another of my foodie friends from Half Hour Meals. Sofia, a wonderful cook and a native of Portugal, has shared many of her delcicous, authentic Portuguese recipes with us at HHM, and I'm thrilled that she agreed to do a post for Mimi's Kitchen!

Please be sure to stop by Sofia's blog, Food Ideas, to check out some more of her wonderful recipes. And, if you're interested in a chance to win a pair of one carat diamond earrings, just become a facebook fan of GemEx, the company she works for! Are you ready to get cooking? Get out your soup pots and your ladles and let's make some Portuguese Kale soup!

Sofia writes: This is an old time favourite soup and a classic in Portuguese cuisine. There are a variety of recipes for this soup, but I still prefer the original one, which is as simple as can be. Caldo verde actually means green broth!

Ever since I was a little girl I remember having this "green broth" on cooler days. Having lived away from Portugal most of my life, I must say this soup must be THE one that brings back memories of us visiting my grandparents and running around on their farm. Every year when we went back, our bodies would change, our personalities too, yet the taste and craving for this soup would always be with us.

Today, I carry on the tradition from our home in Wisconsin, and make this soup often for my own husband and children, just as my Mother once did for me. And every year when we go to Portugal, we always reunite the family and go to a restaurant to enjoy Caldo Verde as well as other traditional foods.

Caldo Verde (Portuguese Kale Soup)

Ingredients:
6 potatoes
1 lb of kale or Chinese cabbage
2 quarts of cold water
4 tbsp olive oil
1 chourico sausage, sliced (chorizo)
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Wash the potatoes, peel and cut them in thin slices.
Wash the greens, roll them up tightly and slice them as thin as you can (this is very important).
In a little hot water first quickly scald the greens - this will make the greens keep their colour.
Take 2 tablespoons of olive oil and lightly sautee the potatoes in a large pot.
Add the water and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are breaking apart.
Mash the potatoes or mix them thoroughly to create a nice minimally-smooth cream .
Let it simmer again for about 5 minutes then add the kale.
In a small frying pan lightly sautee the sliced chourico.
Just before serving, quickly mix in the leftover olive oil and the fat from the slices of chourico.
When serving the soup in bowls decorate them with the slices of chourico.
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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Year of Soup Recipe Challenge Week 10- Broccoli and Cheddar Soup


I have a special treat for you today in Mimi's Kitchen! For the Year of Soup Challenge Week 10 post, my friend Catherine from Half Hour Meals has graciously agreed to do a guest post! I am really excited about this because Catherine's recipes are awesome...everything of hers that I have ever made has been easy and delicious (check out my review of one of her recipes here).

So, grab another cup of coffee and pull up a chair while Catherine shares her recipe for Broccoli and Cheddar Soup with us. Please be sure to visit her wonderful blog, Living the Gourmet, and then try this soup recipe...you won't be disappointed!

On a cold January day I found myself sitting by the window looking out into a vast winter wonderland. I had a nice hot cup of coffee in one hand and an Eating Well Magazine in the other.


As I turned each page, a new and interesting recipe greeted me one after another. But my body yearned for something different from chicken or pasta- I needed something warm and comforting and only one dish would satisfy such a craving- soup!


I found this recipe that day and simply fell in love with it! Creamy, delicious and truly gratifying! After I read the recipe, I nearly jumped up from my seat and prepared all that was necessary.


Inka, my poodle and my sous-chef, watched as I excitedly prepared my soup. As I tasted this delicious bowl, all I could think of was Louis P. De Gouy, author of The Soup Book, who said, “Soup is cuisine's kindest course. It breathes reassurance; it steams consolation; after a weary day it promotes sociability, as the five o'clock cup of tea or the cocktail hour.”


Ah success! Warmth from the cold winter weather all in a bowl of comfort food- nothing can compare to a scrumptious bowl of steaming hot broccoli cheddar soup!
---------------------------------
Broccoli Cheddar Soup
Adapted from Cabot Cheese – Eating Well Magazine

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons sweet butter
4 potatoes – cooked & diced with skin
1 onion – diced
2 tablespoons flour
4 cups chicken broth
3 cups milk
3 cups broccoli – cooked & chopped
8 ounces sharp or extra sharp cheddar – grated
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Ground black pepper to taste

In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add potatoes and onion and cook, stirring, until onion in tender, about 5 minutes.

Add flour and cook, stirring for about 2 minutes longer.

Gradually stir in chicken broth and milk. Bring to low simmer. Add broccoli and simmer on low another 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in cheese. Add Lemon juice and black pepper.

This soup is satisfying and tastes so rich and delicious!

Enjoy with love,
Catherine
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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Year of Soup Recipe Challenge Week 9- Irish Vegetable Soup


Happy St. Patrick's Day from Mimi's Kitchen! St. Patty's day is a big deal 'round our house because I am married to an Irishman who is very proud of his heritage. DLH's great-grandfather Driscoll came to America in the early 1900's from County Cork, Ireland, with nothing but empty pockets and the dream of a new life. Now, a hundred-plus years later, traces of that hopeful, red-headed young man can still be seen in the strawberry-blond hair and Irish blue eyes of my husband and his four brothers.

In honor of St. Patrick's Day and my husband's great-grandfather, I thought I'd do a recipe for an Irish Vegetable Soup for week 9 of The Year of Soup Challenge. Almost as thick as a stew, this tasty and filling soup was very typical mid-day fare for working men like Grandpa Driscoll, and was usually served with plenty of bread and sweet Irish butter.

Irish Vegetable Soup
1/2 cup pearl barley
5 cups chicken broth or water
4 large potatoes
2 carrots
1/2 medium turnip
2 sticks celery, cut into bite-size pieces
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
2 large cabbage leaves, chopped
1 cup frozen peas
Salt and pepper to taste
2 sprigs fresh parsley (or 1 tsp. dried parsley)
1 sprig fresh thyme (or 1/4 tsp. dried thyme)
6 sage leaves (or 1/2 tsp. dried sage)

Place the barley in a large pot and cover with 5 cups broth or water; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, peel and wash the potatoes, carrots and turnip. Cut peeled vegetables into large (but bite-sized) pieces. Add all vegetables to pot with barley. Add salt, pepper, and herbs. Bring back to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 20-30 minutes. Serve with bread and butter.
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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Year of Soup Recipe Challenge Week 8- Basic Chowder


I'm trying to catch up on the Year of Soup Challenge here at Mimi's Kitchen...by my count I am three weeks behind! I don't have any good excuses...just been really busy lately, getting ready for the WGHP appearance, working on other writing obligations, and testing recipes, so the time has gotten away from me!

Now it's time to get back on track...even though I know it's entirely possible that nobody but me has noticed, and more than likely that nobody but me cares (you are out there reading this aren't you? anyone?). Still, a promise is a promise, even if you only make it to yourself, and I'm OCD enough to feel driven to get caught up.

Today's recipe is adapted from one that I found in Better Homes and Gardens magazine a few years ago, and it's really great! It's a basic chowder that comes together in 30 minutes, and that you can change up with just a few additional ingredients to make several variations. If you like chowder as much as I do, then this versatile recipe is for you!


Basic Chowder

3 tbsp. butter
2 stalks celery, sliced thin
1/4 cup diced onion
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 (14-oz.) can chicken broth
2 cups refrigerated diced potatoes with onions such as Simply Potatoes (half a 1-lb., 4 oz. package)
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup half and half
4 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled (optional)
salt and ground black pepper to taste

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat; saute celery and onion until tender, about 5 minutes. Whisk in flour until combined. Gradually whisk in broth; bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Add potatoes and return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Slightly mash some of the potatoes. Add bacon and half and half. Simmer until heated through. At this point you would add your variation ingredients and continue simmering until heated through.

Variations:
Chicken Corn Chowder- Add 1 cup frozen corn and 1 cup chopped, cooked chicken.
Chicken Primavera Chowder- Add 1 cup frozen peas and carrots, and 1 cup chopped, cooked chicken.
Crab and Basil Chowder- Add 12 oz. lump crab meat (drained, flaked and cartilege removed), and 2 tsp. dried basil, crushed.
Ham and Corn Chowder- Add 1 cup frozen corn, and 1 cup chopped, cooked ham.
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$2 Dinners Posts Are Moving


After the success of my recent appearance for $2 Dinners on WGHP, I decided it was time to give $2 Dinners it's own home on the web,and for that reason I won't be posting my column from this past week. I am in the process of starting a $2 Dinners blog that I hope to launch in the next week or so, hopefully before my next spot on WGHP. I hope ya'll will check back and please stay tuned for the big launch of the $2Dinners blog real soon!

In the meantime, here's the video from my appearance on WGHP.
 
Thursday, February 25, 2010

$2 Dinners- These Kid Pleasing Meals Won't Break the Bank

This week's $2 Dinners column is about home-cooked meals that have kid-appeal, and that won't break your budget. I know a little bit about kid-pleasing meals because I raised two picky eaters of my own back in the day. These days, I cook for two little men who are not only picky, they have a deep-rooted love of burgers and fries, pizza, etc. that makes it a challenge to get them to eat home-cooking!


These two cuties are my grandsons and they are the light of my life. Once a week, they come to my house for supper, and I absolutely love to see those sweet little faces at my dining room table! Sometimes though, I have a hard time convincing them to try what I've prepared, because just like most other kids, they would much rather eat junk food and fast food instead of home-cooking. The youngest one, Tyler, would eat nothing but french fries and candy if he was allowed (and as many bananas as his tummy will hold); and the oldest one, Brandon, eats really well sometimes and other times he won't eat anything but pizza and hot dogs.

I must confess that sometimes I give in and serve pizza, or we go get kids' meals from the McDrive-thru. After all, it's a Mimi's prerogative to spoil her grandchildren right? But, the fast food is just an occasional treat, and I would rather feed a home-cooked meal where I control the ingredients and I know what's going in those precious little bodies of theirs. Besides, not only is fast-food not a good choice nutritionally, it gets expensive too!

So how do I get them to eat? I give them the fast-food flavors they crave in a home-cooked, budget-friendly casserole! Check it out...these recipes are kid-tested and approved, taste great, and the best part? They're inexpensive to make at only $1.27 per serving and 90 cents per serving respectively.
Thursday, February 18, 2010

Year of Soup Recipe Challenge Week 7- Gumbo with Smoked Sausage



Mardis Gras was last week in New Orleans, and since I'm a week behind with my Year of Soup Challenge posts anyway, I figured it couldn't hurt to post a real 'Nawlins-style soup recipe...Gumbo with Smoked Sausage. I'm not really sure if Gumbo technically qualifies as soup, but it's certainly soup-like and that's close enough for me!

Gumbo with Smoked Sausage

2 celery ribs, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 lb. smoked sausage or kielbasa, cut into 1/2-in. pieces
1 (14-1/2 oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained
2 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. dried thyme
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

Hot cooked rice (optional)

In a large skillet, saute celery, onions, pepper, and carrot in oil over medium heat until tender. Add flour and stir until blended; gradually add broth, stirring to combine. Bring mixture to a boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.
Reduce heat; add sausage, tomatoes, oregano, thyme and cayenne pepper. Cover and simmer on low heat until heated through. Serves 4.

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

$2 Dinners- Feed Your Family Twice With Just One Rotisserie Chicken



A tender, juicy rotisserie chicken from the supermarket is one of my favorite $2 Dinners shortcuts, and I love to find new ways to use this economical and incredibly versatile deli treasure. While the “slice-and-serve” aspect is one of the nicest benefits of a rotisserie chicken, the real beauty of this deli convenience food is that it’s a quick and budget-friendly source for cooked chicken to use in recipes. It takes a few minutes to get all the meat off the bones, and yes, it’s kind of messy, but the results are worth it because you get an average of 2 ½ to 3 cups of meat when you’re done.

Because we are thifty gourmets here at $2 Dinners, we know that 2 ½ to 3 cups of meat is enough for not one, but two dinners, and the best part is that you didn’t have to cook the chicken yourself! So what can you do with all that lovely chicken? The possibilities are endless, but the following quick and oh-so-easy recipes will get you started.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Year of Soup Recipe Challenge Week 6- Bacon Cheeseburger with Fries Soup




The Year of Soup Recipe Challenge is rolling right along here at Mimi's Kitchen, and for week 6, I have a recipe for you that's based on and American fast food favorite...bacon cheeseburgers with fries!
I know it sounds off-the-wall, but the flavors we all love in this classic combination translate surprisingly well into a soup too. Besides, anything with bacon in it can't be all bad (can I get an "amen")? This soup is a snap to prep, goes from stove to table in about 30 minutes, and it tastes amazing! Give it a try this week...I bet your kids will love the idea of "cheeseburger soup" (my 6-year-old grandson, who loves soup, said he thought cheeseburger soup was "crazy" but after tasting it, his mom said he asked for more!)

P.S. Sorry there's no picture of the soup...I came up with this long before my blogging days (aka the days when I obsessively photograph everthing I cook!)

Mimi's Bacon Cheeseburger and Fries Soup

2 tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, diced
6 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies, drained
3 cups water
1 envelope brown gravy mix
1 tbsp. sweet pickle relish
2 cans cheddar cheese soup
1 lb. ground beef
4 cups buttermilk (or plain milk)
2 tbsp. flour
2 tbsp. butter, softened but not melted
2 cups shredded cheddar
4-6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
croutons (optional)

In a large pot or soup kettle, heat olive oil over medium-high heat; add onions and cook until translucent. Add potatoes and next 5 ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook ground beef until no longer pink; drain. Add ground beef to potato mixture. Stir in milk.

In a small dish or bowl, combine flour and butter using two forks; gradually add to soup, whisking constantly. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes until soup begins to thicken. Reduce heat; stir in grated cheese until melted. Garnish with crumbled bacon and croutons.

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Sunday, February 7, 2010

Birthday Banana Pudding Recipe

Tomorrow is our baby girl's 25th birthday...I'm feeling very sentimental and reflective. Just yesterday I was 25 and it was her first birthday, and now she's grown and has babies of her own. Where did the time go?

We had her birthday dinner tonight, and just like I expected her to do, she asked for banana pudding instead of cake for her special dessert. I've been making this recipe forever, and honestly, it's so quick and easy, I don't mind making it at all!

Here is how I make Stephanie Lee's Birthday Banana Pudding-


2 boxes instant vanilla pudding
3 cups cold milk
1 box vanilla wafer cookies
3 ripe bananas, sliced
1 tub of whipped topping



Pour cold milk into a large bowl. Add pudding mix and whisk until combined and mixture is beginning to thicken. Let sit for 5 minutes.





Layer bottom of a large, clear bowl with cookies; top with bananas and pudding; repeat layering, going up the sides of the bowl, until you have used all the pudding. Top with whipped topping and refrigerate until time to serve.


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Monday, February 1, 2010

Year of Soup Recipe Challenge Week 5- Tuscan Chicken "Noodle" Soup


It's week 5 of the Year of Soup Challenge here at Mimi's Kitchen! This week's recipe is a yummy take on chicken soup with an Italian twist. It's easy, delicious, and you can have it on the table in 30 minutes!

Tuscan Chicken "Noodle" Soup (Serves 4)

8 cups chicken broth
½ cup diced carrot
½ cup diced celery
½ cup chopped onion
2 cups (16 oz.) refrigerated mini cheese-filled ravioli
1 cup cooked chicken, diced
¼ tsp. dried parsley
¼ tsp. garlic powder
3-4 fresh sage leaves, chopped (or 1/8 tsp. dried sage)
1 small sprig fresh rosemary, chopped (or 1/4 tsp. dried rosemary)
salt and pepper to taste
splash of white wine (optional)
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

In a 3-qt. stockpot, heat chicken broth to boiling; reduce heat and add carrots, celery, and onion. Simmer until vegetables are soft, about 20 minutes. Add ravioli and cook according to package directions. Stir in cooked chicken, parsley, garlic powder, sage, rosemary, white wine, and salt and pepper; simmer 5 minutes. Serve and sprinkle with grated Parmesan, if desired.

Time-Saver Tip of the Week:
I keep a bag in my freezer labeled “stock”, and whenever I have odd amounts of veggies, I toss them in the bag until I have enough to use for making vegetable stock. I have a second, larger freezer bag labeled "soup" that I use to save smaller bags with scraps of leftover rice, meat, etc. (even small pieces of leftover cheese are good additions to your “soup” bag). I freeze these items in small bags, separated by type, and add them to whatever kind of soup I decide to make later on.
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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Down-South Winter Wonderland


I apologize in advance that this has nothing to do with food, but I just can't resist posting a picture of our house during the winter storm that just blasted North Carolina. I realize that 8+ inches of snow is no big deal to some of you, but this is North Carolina and with the exception of the western part of the state, we only get a storm like this every 10 years or so. Credit for this picture goes to my sweet hubby who braved the snow, ice and cold to go out and take it so I didn't have to. That just proves chivalry is alive and well in the South don't ya'll think?
Friday, January 29, 2010

Year of Soup Recipe Challenge Week 4- Italian Style Meatball and Vegetable Soup



The soup for week 4 of my Year of Soup Challenge is one I developed for a recipe contest a few years ago. Even though my recipe wasn't chosen in the contest, I still think it's a winner because there are only 7 ingredients, it takes 5 minutes or less to prep, and my slow cooker does all the work! The result is a tasty, savory soup that's chock-full of Italian flavor, and that leaves me time to do other things like work on this blog! I like to serve this soup with Rosemary Foccacia and seasonal fruit salad (Foccacia recipe is in $2 Dinners article...end of the column).

Italian-Style Meatball and Vegetable Soup (serves 4)

1 (16-18 oz.) bag frozen cooked meatballs
½ of a 16 oz. bag frozen mixed vegetables (about 2 cups)
1 (14 ½ oz.) can diced tomatoes (any flavor), undrained
1 packet dry mushroom gravy mix (you can use onion or brown gravy too)
1 1/3 cups water
1/2 cup broken spaghetti noodles
1 ½ tsp. dried Italian-style seasoning
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Put meatballs and frozen mixed vegetables in a 3 ½ - 4 qt. slow cooker. In a medium bowl, combine undrained tomatoes, gravy mix, water and Italian seasoning; pour over meatballs and vegetables in slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours. Ladle into serving bowls and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

$2 Dinners- Dried Beans are Budget-Friendly and Nutritious Too (Part 3)



Today is the last post in my series about a favorite $2 Dinners ingredient, dried beans. In this last post, I'll tell you exactly how to cook dried Great Northern beans to perfection, and then give you a recipe for Italian Sausage with Beans and Tomato that is pure comfort food heaven!

Read on and get started cooking the $2 Dinners way!
Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Word About Comments


I wanted to say a word about your comments on my posts. I welcome your comments and suggestions, and after I read them, they are always posted...good or bad. However, this evening I was sent a comment on my blog that I am unable to post because I can not read it...it is apparently in Japanese. I'm not saying that to be funny ya'll...it was in Japanese!

Now I'm a reasonably intelligent lady (married Numbers Man didn't I?), and I can fumble my way through most of the Latin-based languages like Spanish, French and Italian. Heck, I can even speak a little of each (especially the bad words) but Asian languages are out of my league! I tried using Altavista's Bablefish translator, and it was not much help, although I gather that Cathi is trying to tell me about a mistake in my post.

So gentle readers, as much as I hate to be so picky, please have mercy on Mimi and send me your comments in English so I can read and post them. Thanks everyone! And, Cathi? I'm still interested in what you have to say...would you translate and send again? Thanks!
Thursday, January 21, 2010

$2 Dinners- Dried Beans are Budget-Friendly and Nutritious Too (Part 2)


Dried beans are one of my favorite food bargains, and they're perfect for cooking the $2 Dinners way! In part 2 of my series on these budget-friendly little gems, I'll give you a recipe for cooking another type of dried bean and then a great recipe to use them in! Read on......

Year of Soup Recipe Challenge Week 3- Easy and Delicious Creamy Tomato Soup


Woo hoo! This post catches me up for my Year of Soup challenge!! Been so busy and have so much I want to write about, I just wish I had more time (blame that pesky full-time job of mine...just kidding).

So here we are in week 3 of the Mimi's Kitchen Year of Soup challenge, and the recipe I have for you is quick, easy, and fabulous! I came up with this recipe one day when I was trying to figure out what to do with a half-full jar of leftover pasta sauce (hubby had been making Lasagna). I did some experimenting, and the end result was a creamy tomato soup that was better than anything I had ever had from a can! I like this recipe because it takes a plain ole' jar of pasta sauce, an inexpensive ingredient most of us already have in the cupboard, and turns it into a rich, herb-infused creamy tomato soup you have to taste to believe! Trust me, once you experience the depth of flavor is this awesome soup, you won't be in a hurry to open that little red and white "cream of" soup can anytime soon!

Easy and Delicious Creamy Tomato Soup

1 (24-oz.) jar pasta sauce
2 cups chicken broth or water
½ cup half and half
Pinch of nutmeg
1 (14.5-oz.) can Italian-style diced tomatoes, undrained
1 tsp. Italian seasoning

Combine all ingredients in a large soup pot. Simmer over medium heat until warmed through, about 5 minutes.

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Monday, January 18, 2010

Year of Soup Recipe Challenge Week 2- BBQ Baked Bean Soup


Today I'm trying to play "catch up" by getting week 2 of my "Year of Soup" challenge posted. The recipe for week 2 is something a bit different, and perhaps even unusual...it was inspired by the amazing BBQ baked beans my cousin Wendy makes for every family picnic at my Aunt Pat's house in PA. They are so good, I really believe that there would be a family riot if she ever showed up without those beans!

So how did I make Wendy's yummy beans into soup? Well, I have a colleague and foodie friend, Anne Coleman, who loves to take entrees, sandwiches and other non-soup foods and "morph" them into soups (check out her great blog, A Thousand Soups). I just love her idea, and I wanted to try it for a contest recipe I was developing. So, even though I have never gotten that wonderful bean recipe from Wendy, the taste of them is a delicious and unforgettable memory that I called on to create my new soup recipe, BBQ Baked Bean Soup (thanks Wendy!).

BBQ Baked Bean Soup (serves 4-6)
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 ½ tsp. dry mustard
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 (15-oz.) cans stewed tomatoes, roughly chopped, reserve juice
2 (15-oz.) cans Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed, 1/3 cup of beans reserved and mashed
¼ cup molasses
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1 lb. smoked sausage, cut into 1-inch slices
4 cups water
Salt
Pepper

Heat olive oil in a large pot. Add onions and cook over medium-high heat until soft. Add chili powder, dry mustard, cayenne pepper, and cook for 1 minute. Add stewed tomatoes and their juice; add whole beans, 1/3 cup mashed beans, molasses, brown sugar, smoked sausage, water, salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce temperature to medium, and cook uncovered 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

2010 Is the Year of Soup in Mimi's Kitchen!

Happy New Year from Mimi's kitchen! I'm sorry this post is a bit late...it was intended for New Year's day, but we have been dealing with some family stuff, and so real life had to come first. Now I'm ready to get back into Mimi's kitchen and do some cookin', and I want to tell ya'll about an idea I have for my blog this year.

For the last few weeks I have been thinking about posting some kind of challenge for myself on the blog in 2010. I see lots of good ideas on other food blogs; things like cooking your way through an entire cookbook in a year, or posting a recipe a day for the whole year, but I also know myself well enough to know that those are not realistic goals for me. So, after coming up with and discarding several ideas, I finally decided that 2010 would be "The Year of Soup" here in Mimi's Kitchen! My goal (I just love goals!) is to challenge myself to post a different soup each week for all 52 weeks of the year. Easy...right? I guess we'll find out together! So, I hope you all will check in every week to see how I'm coming along with my "Year of Soup" challenge, and I invite you to join me by trying all 52 recipes and making 2010 "The Year of Soup" in your kitchen too!

To get things started off right, my first soup is one of my favorites, a hearty corn chowder with potatoes and ham. This soup is everything a chowder should be...thick, savory, and chock-full of yummy goodness! However, the best thing about this soup is that it has less than 10 ingredients and you can have it on the table in 30 minutes! So grab your soup pots ya'll and let's make some chowder!


The Year of Soup- Week 1
Corn Chowder with Potatoes and Ham

1 ¼ cups water
1 cup diced raw potatoes
½ cup chopped onion
1 cup diced ham
2 cups cream-style corn
1 cup skim milk
1 (10 ¾ oz.) can cream of mushroom soup
1 tsp. dried parsley flakes
¼ tsp. ground black pepper

In a medium saucepan, combine water, potatoes, and onion. Cook over medium heat until potatoes are just tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in ham, corn, milk, mushroom soup, parsley flakes, and black pepper. Lower heat and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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$2 Dinners- Dried Beans are Budget-Friendly and Nutritious Too (Part 1)

Dried beans are one of my favorite food bargains, and they're perfect for cooking the $2 Dinners way! Read my latest column for cooking tips on preparing dried beans and a great recipe to use them in!

Food for Thought:

"In the childhood memories of every good cook, there's a large kitchen, a warm stove, a simmering pot and a mom."

- Barbara Costikyan

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