Tag Archives: Easy Cooking

Traeger Season

Traeger season. My favorite time of year. An entire meal cooked out on the deck either directly on the grill or in aluminum packets makes for quick easy clean-up. The scent of mesquite pellets wafts about the deck. I peel russet potatoes and cube them, spray Pam on a huge piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil, spread out the cubes, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and seal ‘er up. To make sure they’re crispy on the bottom, they go on the grill first. My favorite part is sitting in the sun snapping the fresh green beans. I add a little lemon juice, salt, and summer savory to this packet and put it on the grill after the potatoes have cooked about twenty minutes. Then last, but certainly not least, the rib eyes, bright red and perfectly marbled with delicious fat. Mmmm. I sprinkle both sides with Traeger Prime Rib Rub, the perfect steak seasoning (in my opinion). Then on the grill they go. I set the timer on the stove so I don’t get sidetracked and over cook them. Time has a way of getting away from me when I’m basking in the sun in my deck chair waiting for dinner.

Savory summer
Season of delightful foods
Sweet tranquility


For Haibun Monday at dVerse Poets Pub today, Bjorn is hungry and looking for recipes. He wanted us to write about time in the kitchen, but my thoughts immediately went to cooking outside on my Traeger pellet stove. I’ve had a Traeger for years and could never go back to grilling over charcoal or gas. There is just something about that mesquite or hickory smoke that makes the food taste so delicious!


Filed under Family, Life, Poetry, Recipe

Easy Beef Pot Pie for Recipe Friday

Last weekend I made a big pot of Beef Stew, one of my favorite cool weather dishes. I started early in the day and actually simmered the beef, celery, and onions in the V-8 and beef broth for about 3 hours before adding the vegetables and spices so that the meat was super tender. There were a lot of leftovers, so later in the week I made a Beef Pot Pie. I love creating something completely new out of leftovers instead of just heating them up. It allows me to get more mileage out of the hard work of the original dish. This recipe took me about 5 minutes to put together before putting it in the oven to bake. I actually made it in the morning before work and gave my husband (who had the day off) instructions to put it in the oven.

Easy Beef Pot Pie


2 Marie Callender’s frozen deep dish pie crusts
Leftover Beef Stew (or canned stew, if you must)
½ cup frozen peas

Layer 1 and Peas


Pie full of stew


Ready for the oven


Thaw the two pie crusts for 15 to 20 minutes. Spoon one layer of beef stew in one of the pie crusts. Sprinkle ½ cup frozen peas over the stew, and then add another layer of beef stew to fill the crust. Remove the other pie crust from the pie pan and place it over the top of the pie, turning the edge under all the way around. Use a fork to press the edges together and seal the pie. With a sharp knife cut several slits in the top of the crust to allow steam to escape. Place the pie on an aluminum-foil lined cookie sheet. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until the crust is golden brown. Cool 5 to 10 minutes after removing from the oven before serving.

Beef Pot Pie

This delicious pie was devoured by three people in less than 20 minutes! If you have a big family, you might want to make 2. I had enough leftover stew that I could have.


Filed under Family, Life, postaday2011, Recipe

Chili Mac Dogs for Recipe Friday

Okay, so this is kind of a silly recipe (actually two recipes), but it is surprisingly tasty, and has a story to go with it.

Several years ago, I suggested to my son that we have Chili Mac and he thought the idea sounded gross. But then two weeks ago, when it was just me and him home for dinner because my husband was at a hockey game, I looked in the cupboard and there was a can of Hormel Chili. I had bought it a while back for the  purpose of making chili dogs, which has become one of my son’s favorite foods recently. (It’s Sonic the Hedgehog’s favorite food, so he decided he loved them, too.)

Anyway, I looked at the can of Hormel Chili, and knew I had Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, and made the once-rejected suggestion again. His response this time was, “Mmmmm, that sounds good!” He loved it! Since then he has said several times that we should have Chili Mac more often. It’s easy, so maybe we will.

Chili Mac


1 box Kraft Macaroni and Cheese
¼ cup milk
¼ cup butter
1 can Hormel Chili (with or without beans)


Prepare Macaroni and Cheese with milk and butter according to package directions. Heat Chili in a small pan. Stir Chili and Mac and Cheese together. Heat through on low heat to combine flavors.

And now, the rest of the story

When I told my son I had scheduled a post that mentioned Sonic the Hedgehog, and that it was for Chili Mac, he got all excited. “I know,” he said, “post a recipe for Chili Mac Dogs. That would be an original recipe.” He insisted I modifiy this post to include his original recipe.

A caveat: We have not actually tried this yet, but my son is convinced it would be delicious. It may have to be on the menu soon.

Chili Mac Dogs


Chili Mac
Hot dogs
Hot dog buns


Prepare Chili Mac according to recipe above. Cook hot dogs according to package directions (either boil or fry). Lightly toast hot dog buns under the broiler, if desired. Place one hot dog in each bun and top with Chili Mac. Enjoy!

If I make it in the next week, I’ll come back and post a picture.


Filed under Family, Life, postaday2011, Recipe

Cooking Tips for Recipe Friday

It’s Recipe Friday and I can’t think of a recipe I want to share. Maybe it’s because we’ve been having the same old thing lately and I haven’t come up with anything that’s really new. Or maybe it’s because my recent posts with pictures have set the bar too high in my mind and I don’t have any good pictures.

Anyway, I thought I’d do something a bit different and just share some of my favorite tips for making cooking easier and food tastier.

  • I do a lot of cooking with ground beef because it’s easy and relatively inexpensive. Plus, I always have some on hand in the freezer. But I never freeze it as it was packaged at the store. Instead, I buy 3 – 4 lb packages (cheaper yet when they are buy-one-get-one-free). When I get home, I break them up into 1 lb portions and put each portion in a quart-sized Ziploc bag. Then I flatten it out as thin as it will go to fill the bag to the edges. Then, when I want to make one of my many ground beef recipes, I can just open the Ziploc and microwave the meat on the thaw setting. Because the meat is pressed thin it thaws more evenly and I don’t end up with some parts that are cooked and others that are still frozen. This trick will work with any ground meat.
  • I love garlic. I’ve purchased the pre-chopped jars of garlic in the past, but the taste gets strong and bitter pretty quickly even in the refrigerator. This last summer someone gave me a gift basket with a bag of whole garlic cloves in it. At first, I would hand chop the garlic to put it in various dishes. But for Christmas my husband got me a really nice garlic press from Crate & Barrel. I have used flimsy garlic presses before and they were more trouble than they were worth. But this one is nice and sturdy and does a great job of getting all the garlicy goodness out of a garlic clove with less mess. Mmmmm, garlic!
  • The other night we were watching one of the late night shows, and they had a chef on there who was showing the host how to make something, I don’t even remember what. But what I do remember is that she had a bowl of salt and said, “I call this a little bowl of compliments.” I thought that was such a great comment because adding a little fresh salt does bring out the flavors so much in any dish. It doesn’t matter if you have already put in canned ingredients that were salted – adding some extra salt at the very end of the cooking process (plus a little pepper, though that always makes me sneeze) makes everything taste better.
  • When cooking any sort of pasta I always add a tablespoon or so of light olive oil to the water. I don’t measure it, I just pour some in. This helps keep the pasta from sticking together when you drain it. For some pastas, such as angel hair, it also helps to add another tablespoon of olive oil after you have drained it and stir it around to keep the pasta from sticking.
  • Not everything has to be from scratch to be tasty. I can’t remember the last time I made homemade spaghetti sauce (in fact, have I ever done that? I don’t think so. If I did, it was a looooong time ago.) There are so many good brands of spaghetti sauce these days, such as Bertolli or Classico (though I still don’t like Ragu). Just add a little ground beef, sausage, or turkey, cook up some pasta, and you have a meal.
  • Rice-a-Roni can be turned into an endless number of different skillet meals. I have already posted at least one of my favorites, and will probably post some additional ones that I’ve come up with in the future. But you can create your own very easily. Add your favorite meat and vegables to a Rice-a-Roni flavor you like, and you have a one skillet meal. You just have to make sure your vegetables are in for the right amount of time to be cooked to your liking, and that you add a small amount of water to accommodate the cooking of the vegetables.

Well, that’s all the tips for today. I hope they are helpful to someone. I know they make my cooking easy and my family never complains about what’s for dinner.


Filed under Family, Life, postaday2011, Recipe