Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Copycat Hamburger Helper Cheeseburger Macaroni

I have been making a variation of this for a long time now.  Don't get me wrong, I completely appreciated Hamburger Helper when I worked out of the house.  But this recipe is just as simple.  It also makes plenty so expect leftovers.  Whenever I have leftovers from dinner, I make up a leftover lunch for the hubs.  Whenever I have a selection of leftovers to choose from, he chooses this!!

It looks lengthy I know. I find it is still very easy to make. I just take out all my ingredients, start the noodles and the work on the beef/gravy.  It is a creamy, beefy and cheesy blend that is sure to satisfy!

16 ounce package of Elbows
A pot of Warm Water

1 Pound of Ground Beef
1 Large Onion
2 cloves of Garlic
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

1 cup Swanson Beef Stock or Kitchen Basics Beef Broth
1 teaspoon Kitchen Bouquet (called to verify GF Status)
1 tablespoon La Choy Soy (Kroger Soy Sauce is also GF)
1/2 teaspoon Mrs. Dash all purpose spice blend
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/8 teaspoon black Pepper
1 Herb Ox Bouillon Cube (chicken)
3 Tablespoons Flour (I have used Bisquick or Rice)

1 12-13 ounce can evaporated Milk
2 cups Shredded Extra Sharp Cheese

  • Put on a large pot of water to boil.
  • Add Elbow Macaroni Noodles and cook according to package directions.
  • In a separate deep sided skillet, add oil, beef, garlic and onion.  
  • Cook until beef is no longer pink and onions are translucent.
  • Add next group of ingredients.
  • Simmer and stir for 5 to 7 minutes until sauce thickens. 
  • Meanwhile, drain cooked noodles (reserving one cup of pasta water).
  • Add water and noodles to simmering beef.
  • Stir in milk and cheese until cheese is melted.

  • Tempt my Tummy Tuesday

  • Tuesdays at the Table

  • Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam

  • Tasty Tuesdays at a Beautiful Mess

  • Tasty Tuesday at Dr. Laura's

  • Delicious Dishes

  • Slightly Indulgent Tuesday

  • Hearth and Soul

  • Tuesday Night Supper Club

  • Works for me Wednesday

  • What's on the Menu Wednesday

  • Gluten Free Wednesday

  • Pennywise Platter Thursday

  • Recipe Swap Thursday

  • Ultimate Recipe Swap

  • Foodie Friday

  • Food on Fridays
  • Print

    Monday, November 29, 2010

    Menu Plan Monday: Week of November 29th, 2010

    Well the holidays are in full swing here.  I managed to accomplish most of my Christmas Shopping this weekend.  The decorations are pulled out and all over.  I seriously need to get my act together and put them all up.  I keep making demands on myself to finish but I don't listen!  LOL.

    I also have an announcement to make.  The first official holiday cookie has been made and eaten at our house.  I won't be posting THIS recipe, its the one on the back of Pamela's Bread mix.  I do have a wonderful cookie recipe I made last year, but it was 5 pm when my son declared he wanted gingerbread man cookies.  Pamela's is my go to blend for quick batches.  It was our first time trying out this recipe and I must admit, we were very satisfied.  I was super impressed with how it kept its shape.  I added an extra egg and it enabled the cookie to be slightly more like cake and less crunchy!  A rework of this recipe is going to have to happen for some of my other needs.

    And while I am on the subject of cookies I have been working hard trying to master Gluten Free cookies for the holidays.  I will be sharing them over the month.  I also happen to notice that I am not the only blogger working on cookies.  There are several cookie exchanged going on round the blog-sphere.

    So onto the menu, shall we?

    Its another busy night with Karate and Cub Scouts. Taco's are our favorite Monday meal because its quick and the kids will eat it without a fight!

    Kielbasa.  This is not a recipe or a meal ~ LOL.  I have it but have no idea what to make with it!!! Any ideas?

    Lean Cuisine Santa Fe Style Rice and Beans.  It is also a church night.  But I'm not sure we will be attending.

    Pork Chops and Mashed Potatoes.  Never did get to those Pork Chops.  I guess I should be account for a leftover night in my plan but then I am afraid I will need an idea and not have an assignment for that day.  LOL!

    Turkey Rice Casserole

    Turkey Dinner (yes, again!) :-D

    Spaghetti and Meatballs Print

    Friday, November 26, 2010

    Skin MD Natural Review and Giveaway

    It is the day after the big holiday dinner, how are your hands?

    Do you have dishpan hands like me?

    Mine are pretty dry after spending the day in and out of the water.  In fact, my hands ALWAYS dry out when I have them in the water too much. Add to that the change of the weather and you have a bad combination for my poor hands.

    I also have had chronically dry elbows since I was very young.  In fact it gets to the point of pain at times.

    I have never found a cream that really solved these issues.  Some hand creams felt like I did not put anything on them at all while some felt so greasy that I'd have to dry them on a towel. Enter into the picture Skin Md Natural Shielding Lotion.

    This is THE only cream that has ever fixed my dry elbows.  I swear, I only had to put that cream on my hands and elbows once and they were good ever since.  Who am I kidding, it was beyond good.  They felt so smooth.  Most others wear off so quickly and you have to re-apply.  One little dab went a long way.  I also love the fact that it is non greasy and fragrance free.  I find that it being fragrance free a plus because it does not clash with my perfume!!!!

    I am extremely cautious about what I put on my skin. In reading about this product I discovered that ninety-three percent of the ingredients in Skin MD Natural are all natural and/or plant-based natural ingredients. The balance are food grade or medical grade products that are on the Food & Drug Administration's most safe list.

    How does it work?

    A representative of 21st Century Formulations explains.
    First, it assists the inner layers of skin to absorb moisture. The humectant
    (an ingredient that attracts moisture) used in Skin MD Natural is unique to
    it and has been laboratory tested to be 6 times more effective than any
    other you will find in common creams.

    Second, a shielding lotion enhances the power of the top layer of the skin
    to resist environmental irritants while protecting the inner natural

    Would you like to try it?

    21st Century Formulations has generously offered to send one lucky reader a bottle of Skin MD Natural Shielding lotion. To enter, just visit Skin MD and tell me something you like about the company or their products.

    For extra entries:
    1. Subscribe to this Blog's email feed (see top right) and leave a comment letting me know you did so.
    2. Like Extraordinary Life on Facebook (see top right) and leave a comment letting me know you did so.
    3. Follow Extraordinary Life on Twitter (see top right) and leave a comment letting me know you did so.
    Please note:

    • Each entry requires a separate comment. 
    • Giveaway ends on Wednesday, December 8th. 
    • Winner will be contacted by email and will have 48 hours to respond to claim your prize!

    Disclaimer: 21st Century Formulations gave me a free tester bottle to try out.  I was under no obligation to blog this nor offer the giveaway.  I only done so because I really was pleased with the product.  I hope you are as well. Print

    CSN Giveaway Winner

    Out of 29 entries, Random.org choose #29 as the winner!!!  Congratulations Alison on the last spot of this giveaway, you are the winner!  And see, this goes to show its never too late to enter!!!!  Even the last spot wins sometimes!

    Thursday, November 25, 2010

    Holiday Cards

    This picture here showed up on one of my all time favorite Christmas Photo Cards. Why you ask? Well it was the first year I attempted to do a card on my own without the help of a professional photo studio.

    It is time for me to start thinking again about Christmas Cards, and QUICK!!!! Black Friday is over, the tree is up and if I delay any longer I risk getting them out late. Each year I wait until I find the best deal. But then I almost wait too long to get my Christmas Cards out.

    We do not like to decorate until the Friday after Thanksgiving so Thanksgiving remains a holiday of it’s own. Once we are fully decorated we like to plop the kids somewhere in the house that looks the best and take the holiday picture.

    The photo above is from 2008 and it was the first year I made my own Holiday Cards online. I went with Shutterfly because they had the best deals and I felt the most comfortable with the design process. The designs they had to choose from were very unique and creative.

    Why am I sharing this with you? Well it is Cyber week. You can save 50% plus free shipping on your Christmas Photo cards. Now that is a good deal if you ask me. Sale ends December 1st.

    I was compensated for passing this deal along with you.  But I would have passed it along anyway! :-).  Seriously 50% off and free shipping is the deal I would typically watch out for.  Are you a blogger and want to participate as well?  Click HERE and sign up! Print

    The Best Pumpkin Pie Recipe Ever...

    I am crazy, I know it.  I am sitting here Thanksgiving day sharing a recipe with you.  I am hopelessly addicted to sharing great recipes with you.  This one wont take long, I promise.

    Everybody has a favorite Pumpkin Pie recipe, Im sure.  There are TONS of them out on the net.  They even come on the back of the can of Pumpkin you buy.  All good, all very similar.  But this one I have decided just now is my personal favorite.

    1 Pie Crust (I used Whole Foods Bakery Crust, Yum)
    2 cups pumpkin Puree
    2/3 cup Brown Sugar
    2 teaspoons Cinnamon
    1/2 teaspoon Ginger
    1/8 teaspoon Cloves
    1/2 teaspoon Salt
    3/4 cup Canned Milk
    2 eggs well beaten
    1 cup heavy cream

    • Combine pumpkin along with next 4 ingredients.  Beat well.
    • Add in milk, eggs and cream. Beat until combined well.
    • Pour into the pie shell and bake at 325 degrees one hour 

    Tuesday, November 23, 2010

    Thanksgiving Preparation

    I remember my very first Thanksgiving.  I was having about 20 people over.  There were things to worry about like having enough chairs and plates and serving just the right drinks.  Our turkey was 23 pounds that year ~ WOW.  In fact, it barely fit into the oven but we were so excited to have tons of turkey!  This year our turkey is 14 pounds and that suites us just as nicely as that 23 pounder did back then.

    We are so far from where we grew up and where our family lives that the days of 20 plus guest are gone.  It will be the 6 of us this year and we will perfectly happy with that!  I am blessed that I do still have some family local that I can enjoy the holidays with.

    While thinking about all of this, I remember that I have been making Thanksgiving dinner for 14 years now.  WOW, am I old :-D.  In the beginning I needed to take two days off of work and prep all day long those two extra days.  I'm serious.  I have no idea why it took me so long, maybe because I was nervous.?!?!?!? But these days, I do not need a schedule.  Its more like a plan and its the same plan I follow each year.  I have been doing it precisely this way for so long that I can do this with my eyes closed.  I included my general plan below in case you were wondering what MY Thanksgiving morning will look like.

    Take care and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

    A week or two ahead:
    Plan menu
    Review all recipe and cross check with your pantry
    Make shopping list
    Purchase all necessary ingredients
    Buy frozen turkey and place in refrigerator to thaw (takes a week)
    Made Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes and placed them in the deep freezer

    Make Fresh Loaves of Bread
    Make Fresh Pie crusts (and freeze)
    Peel, Slice Bake/Boil Sweet Potatoes
    Take Potatoes out of Deep Freezer an put in refrigerator

    Turn Fresh loaf of bread into Croutons
    Make Cranberry Sauce and Chill

    Make Brine for Turkey
    Make cheesecake
    Make Mashed Potatoes (in case you did not do it earlier)
    Make Carrot Souffle
    Make any soup you plan to serve for dinner
    Wash, Dry and prep Salad Ingredients

    Wednesday Night:
    Take frozen pie crusts out of freezer, place in fridge
    Place thawed turkey in brine overnight
    Vacuum and Mop

    Thanksgiving Day:

    Wake up bright and early and make some Pumpkin Muffins
    Make fresh loaves of bread or Sweet Potato Biscuits
    Cook Onions and Celery for Stuffing & Make Stuffing (allow to cool)
    Make and Bake pies (pumpkin, cranberry walnut, whatever!)
    Stuff TURKEY and put in Oven
    Place Carrot Souffle and Mashed Potatoes in Crock Pots
    Clean up and wash all dishes (put away)

    Mid Morning:
    Set Table
    (If using linens that need ironing, do so a few days before)

    11 am:
    Make Sweet Tea
    Prep and set out small snacks and finger sandwiches

    2 PM:
    Prepare Green Bean Casserole 
    Whip fresh cream for pies
    Brew Coffee if serving

    Take Turkey out and Tent
    Place sides in oven
    Make Turkey Gravy


    Monday, November 22, 2010

    Super Quick and Easy Gluten Free Brown Gravy

    When I was growing up, before we went Gluten Free, French's canned gravy was high on my list of the good things in life.  It was so incredibly good on mashed potatoes and stuffing.  Gravy initially seemed like a thing of the past when we first embarked on our Gluten Free journey. But as you go along, you figure some things out here and there.  This is my gluten free copycat recipe for French's brown gravy or copycat Campbell's canned brown gravy.  It is very quick and easy to toss together and tastes very good!

    This recipe does not have to only be for the gluten free.  It uses commonly kept items in the pantry and works with any flour.  No stock, use bouillon.  Next time you run out of your usual stuff, give this a try!!!

    1 cup Swanson Beef Stock or Kitchen Basics Beef Broth
    1 teaspoon Kitchen Bouquet (called to verify GF Status)
    1 tablespoon La Choy Soy (Kroger Soy Sauce is also GF)
    1/2 teaspoon Mrs. Dash all purpose spice blend
    1 Tablespoon Flour (I have used Bisquick or Rice)

    Be extra careful with the ingredients of this recipe.  Only the specific brands above are gluten free.

    • Add Stock/broth into a cold sauce pan along with flour.
    • Turn on heat to medium low and whisk until thoroughly combined.
    • Add soy, spice blend and browning sauce and combine.
    • Cook over low until thick.


    Menu Plan Monday: Week of November 22nd, 2010

    It is finally here, Thanksgiving week.  I am so excited.  My family has the majority of the week off.  Black Friday shopping is almost upon us (I love black friday).  Finally we start to decorate for Christmas this week.  Yay!  I did allot of deep cleaning last week to prepare.  I just need to wash the windows.  

    Quick and easy skillet meals are on the menu this week as I try and keep it simple in honor of Thanksgiving week.  

    I'll cook up some quick Rosemary Chicken.  I love to serve it with a Cheesy Rice dish that is reminiscent of the Lipton Rice and Sauce packets we used to enjoy.  In fact, home made surpasses the packets any day and it literally takes the same amount of time.

    I am going to bread and fry some Pork Chops cutlet style.  Some would call this Italian Style, others country fried.  Either name you go with, it is awesome.

    Today I am going to make my own Hamburger Helper.  I am going to make up some Macaroni and Cheese.  At the same time I will fry some ground beef with onions and garlic. Next I will add all of the components of my home made brown gravy and then combine them both.  


    Turkey Rice Soup and Fresh Rolls

    Turkey Pot Pie


    Saturday, November 20, 2010

    Pumpkin Muffins

    These are extraordinarily yummy muffins.  They texture is just as it should be for a muffin, somewhere between a bread and a cake. They first appeared on the blog as a cake, but I thought it tasted more like a muffin.  I made them up as a trial to see if they passed the Thanksgiving morning test.  Well my son has officially asked me to keep these around all the time.

    1 box of Betty Crocker Gluten Free Yellow Cake Mix
    1 3.8 ounce Package of Pumpkin Spice flavored Jello
         (seasonal, Walmart has them so get them quickly)
    1/4 cup Sugar
    3/4 cup Pumpkin Puree
    1/2 cup Oil
    4 Eggs
    1/4 tea Pumpkin Pie Spice

    • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    • Add Eggs into bowl and whip for a minute until combined.
    • Add remaining ingredients (sugar, pumpkin, oil & spice) and mix until well incorporated.
    • Bake at 350 degrees for 21 to 25 minutes for regular muffin size.  

    Thursday, November 18, 2010

    Thanksgiving Thursday: What is on my Dinner Menu this year

    Pumpkin Muffins (for Breakfast)

    Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake


    Thanksgiving Thursdays: Cranberry and Desserts

    Welcome to part Three of my Gluten Free Thanksgiving.  Click on the links to find Part One. and Part Two.  

    I'm going back in time.  I have the first Thanksgiving book I ever put together out and its dated 1996. Today I'm digging out the exotic cranberry sauce and desserts I served up that year.  

    Cranberry Port Sauce

    Cranberry Walnut Pie

    Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake with Pecan Crust
    Photo Courtesy of Olive Garden Menu
    (I have not made mine again to get a new picture)


    Wednesday, November 17, 2010

    Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake with Pecan Crust

    We were tired of the same old pie for the holidays so we decided to mix it up a bit. Pumpkin pie cheesecake is a new twist to the traditional pumpkin pie that is typically served. The beauty of this recipe is that the cake portion of this recipe does not require any ingredients that contain gluten.  It is naturally gluten free.

    Photo courtesy of Olive Garden Menu
    Did you know that Olive Garden has a Gluten Free Menu?

    1 1/2 cups Cookie Crumbs (I used Mi-Del GF Pecan Cookies)
    3/4 cup Ground Pecans
    1/4 cup (1/2 stick) Butter, Melted
    2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar

    3 8-ounce packages of Cream Cheese (room temperature)
    1 1/2 cups canned Solid Pack Pumpkin
    1 1/2 cups Brown Sugar
    1 Tablespoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
    1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
    1/4 teaspoon ground Cloves
    3 large eggs

    1/3 cup chopped Pecans

    For Crust:
    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine all ingredients in medium bowl and stir until moist clumps form. Press mixture into bottom and 1 inch up sides of a 9-inch diameter spring-form pan with 2 3/4 inch high sides.  Refrigerate crust while preparing filling.

    For FIlling:
    Beat cream cheese in a large mixing bowl until smooth.  Add pumpkin, sugar, spice, vanilla and cloves and beat until well blended.  Add eggs one at a time, beating until just incorporated before adding another egg.  Pour batter into crust (batter will extend above crust top).

    Bake until top is golden and center is softly set, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.  Transfer pan to rack.  Cool completely.  Cover and chill over night.

    Using small knife, cut around sides of pan to loosen cake.  Remove pan sides.  Garnish cake with pecans and serve. Print

    Cranberry Sauce

    This is the original Cranberry Sauce recipe I served at my first Dinner back in 1996 . It was adapted from a recipe I found in that years seasonal Bon Appetit magazine.  I have changed it up a bit though.  The original called for currents and walnuts.

    I suppose what lured me to this recipe was the Port.  I was young and newly in love and very much into wine with dinner on special occasions.  I splashed this port into my gravy base, into the cranberries, into my glass!  Enjoy!

    1 12-ounce package fresh or frozen cranberries
    3/4 cup sugar
    2/3 cup ruby Port
    1 medium navel orange, unpeeled, chopped

    Combine cranberries, sugar and Port in saucepan.
    Bring mixture to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves.
    Reduce heat to low and add orange.
    Simmer until cranberries burst and mixture thickens slightly, about 15 minutes.
    Cool cranberry conserve completely. Print

    Win a $45 Gift Certificate to CSN Stores!

    A Special Giveaway just for my readers.....

    When CSN Stores contacted me to offer my readers a giveaway, I knew right away I wanted to accept.   After all, Christmas season will be upon us soon and who could not use a little bit of help?

    I have been shopping at CSN stores longer than I have been blogging.  Living in a small town, your unique purchasing selections are slim and you tend to turn to reliable online sources for your unique gifts.  I purchased my daughters first kitchen set from CSN Stores. It is a Retro Pink kitchenette and she was just so in love with it. She is five now and it is still in great shape.  Over the years I have purchased anything from Children's Backpacks to Kitchen gear.  They always had great selections and I have never been disappointed.

    Would you like to win a $45 Gift Certificate to CSN Stores?  Great!

    Here's how to Enter:
    1. First entry is mandatory: Follow this blog with Google Friend Connect (see sidebar) and leave me a comment letting me know. (Current followers, please leave a comment to be entered.)
    For extra entries:
    1. Suscribe to this Blog's email feed (see top right) and leave a comment letting me know you did so.
    2. Like Extraordinary Life on Facebook (see top right) and leave a comment letting me know you did so.
    3. Follow Extraordinary Life on Twitter (see top right) and leave a comment letting me know you did so.
    Please note:
    • Each entry requires a separate comment. 
    • Giveaway is open to U.S. and Canadian residents only. 
    • Shipping charges may apply. 
    • In the case of Canadian residents, international fees may apply when ordering certain products. 
    • Giveaway ends on Wednesday, November 24th. 
    • Winner will be contacted by email and will have 48 hours to respond to claim your prize!

      Tuesday, November 16, 2010

      Gluten Free Easily and General Mills Giveaway Winner

      Congratulations Mary Sharp! 

      Mary said, "I would like to see a more "mainstream" gluten free frozen pizza. I know that Amy's makes one but I can never find it. I think that if a more mainstream company made one that stores would be more likely to carry it."


      Leftover Beef Chop Suey

      This is a great way to use up Leftover beef.  I would not recommend a Roast for this dish, but rather leftover Prime Rib. If you do not have any leftovers, use what you have.

      There is a place in town that serves up a wonderful prime rib dish and it is our favorite thing to order in town.  But the cut they serve is so huge, there is no way we could eat it all.  We look forward to serving up the leftovers in another day or two in this way.  Enjoy!

      1 pound of leftover Beef, preferably a tender cut (sliced thin)
      1 cup Beef Stock
      3 Tablespoons La Choy Soy Sauce
      2 Tablespoons Molasses
      1/4 teaspoons Black Pepper
      5 Tablespoons Corn Starch
      2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
      1 medium Onion, Sliced
      1 medium Red Bell Pepper (try a colorful one), sliced
      3 cups Mung Bean Sprouts
      1 tablespoon Ginger

      Combine broth, soy, molasses and pepper.  Transfer 3 tablespoons of the mixture into a separate dish.  Stir in cornstarch until combined.  Set Aside

      Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add beef and cook, stirring frequently, until heated through, about 2 to 3 minutes.  Transfer to a plate.

      Increase heat to medium-high.  Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, onion, pepper, sprouts and ginger.  Cook 3 minutes.  Pour in the broth mixture and bring to boil.  Cook, stirring, for 3 minutes.  Reduce heat to medium; add the reserved cornstarch mixture and beef (and any accumulated juice) and cook, stirring, until slightly thickened (about 1 minute).

      Serve with rice.

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