Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What we eat in the Crosley household

I have been reading everyone else's blogs about their favorite holiday dishes. I say "holiday" only because I am lumping Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years' together - NOT because I am a Happy Holidays person. I am a Merry Christmas person, but I digress! Everyone's dishes look great and yummy!

We eat out on Thanksgiving (mostly on Christmas too unless we have company). New Years is mostly snackie foods. I am not sure we eat a real meal unless we eat out. There is a pattern to our lives and it involves restaurants. The reason for this is my picky family. I am not picky. I will try anything...at least once. Usually I like it. My husband eats meat and starch and doesn't really even like them cooked together, so casseroles are out. My daughter takes after her father. She usually will like something once she gets the nerve to try it, but that takes a long, long, long time. She does eat better for other people I am told. When we eat out, we all get what we want. I get variety and they get sameness.

We also love to have people over, but I am not one who likes to stay in the kitchen while everyone mingles. I don't like missing anything. All my friends know I am not fancy, but my food is very good. I like simple, easy, and recreatable foods.

Here are some of my standards (any of these can be made more difficult by making ingredients homemade, if you prefer!):

Frozen meatballs are a must - you can use them with brown gravy mix and rice for a hearty meal that brings comfort. It is also very easy to make for a crowd. My friend, Pete, calls this meal "Grandma's secret recipe". You can also just add some spaghetti sauce for meatball subs on hoagie rolls with cheese. Meatballs with the brown gravy mix is also great for an appetizer for a party.

I will also use Au Jus mix and buy deli roast beef for french dips with a little provolone - Yum and easy!

Monkey bread is the easiest - Take 4 tubes of refrigerator rolls (I use the cheap ones that already come in a 4 pack), cut the rolls into quarters (I use scissors) and drop them into a gallon size ziploc bag with sugar and cinnamon (no measuring, I use waaaay more cinnamon than any recipe I have ever read calls for). Mix as you drop coating each piece with sugar mixture. As bag fills empty into a greased bundt pan (I do pull them out individually or in groups, don't pour or you waste a lot of sugar). When finished, in a saucepan melt 1 stick butter and rest of sugar mixture (plus enough more sugar/cinnamon to make approx. 1 cup). Pour this over the bundt pan pieces and bake at 350 for 35 minutes. Invert on a plate and serve with some caramel topping on the side. You could probably make it pretty by adding something in the middle of the cake to put the caramel topping in, but I don't. It usually gets eaten too fast to make it worth my while.

For a lot of bonus points and that "look like you spent a lot of time, but didn't" category - Easy Caprese Salad. I cut a tub of cherry tomatoes in half, cut 12 mozzarella string cheese into little circles (basically dice them), add some basil (I do use fresh and I do cut chiffonade style (but they now have some freeze dried basil which works as well). I just add a splash of extra virgin olive oil and more than a little balsamic vinegar. I have been tempted to try reducing the vinegar to make it thicker and sweeter, but haven't gotten that far yet. Again, it is usually gone fast in this house! It is Shane's favorite. It tastes better once it sits in the fridge for a few hours, but again, sometimes it doesn't make it that long.

Chili's makes a queso dip which is really quite tasty. I have broken it down into its basics and make it at home (another great party dip). I take half a brick of velveeta (or similar cheese food stuff) and a can of hormel chili no beans. Melt in the microwave or on the stovetop. YUMMY and you would be hardpressed to tell the difference between mine and Chili's.

A friend of mine used to bring a recipe to our potlucks. It was a side dish, but we use it for a main dish. It is a bean/meat dish. I used to have a recipe, now I just wing it. Hers is much better, but mine is pretty good. Take a pound of ground beef and brown/drain/etc (I add onion powder because I like the taste and my husband hates onions). Add 1 large can baked beans (any kind) and approx 3/4 cup barbecue sauce. Stir, cook for a few minutes on the stove then add to a baking dish. Cook for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Serve with shredded cheese. Makes a great meal or bring as a side and impress for less (time, that is).

We do eat vegetables, but mostly in salad form and we do like our salads with homemade dressing and predressed. This sounds difficult, but really isn't. I use the basic italian mix with the little cruet that comes with the mixes. If I want a more Asian feel, I use soy sauce or teriyaki sauce instead of all vinegar. If we want a more fruity taste, I use raspberry or red wine vinegar. For most of our salads we like balsamic vinegar. I have also used, with great success, Pampered Chef seasons instead of the mix. I use all sorts of vegetables and I always use Romaine lettuce - it is easy to cut!

I also like sauteing fresh green beans with some garlic (I say some, I mean a lot!) and lemons for a yummy side dish. I am the only one who eats this one, so I don't make it much.

Quesadillas are also a staple. I make them individually on the griddle to crisp both sides and I will add chicken, steak, or bacon to mix it up a bit! WHEE!

This is just a glimpse into the food portion of our very unorthodox life! If you have any easy dishes you make - send them my way!


Sanford and Michelle said...

Oh yum! I've never made monkey bread, but I'm going to tonight. I have 2 of the refrigerator rolls. I'll just halvzie :)

Anonymous said...

MMMMMMMMM.. Sounds great! I make Monkey bread the exact same way. It's always gone in minutes..especially with a 15 year old boy in the house!!!
I do love to cook though.. I've been known to spend the whole day in the kitchen! Luckilly, Alissa is my only picky one. So.. you can come over for dinner anytime.. no casseroles!! LOL!!