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Share a Spoon - Quick and Easy

Thursday, July 28, 2011

 Think Tank Momma

Share a Spoon

"Quick and EASY"

This week's theme is quick and easy which I think everyone needs.  I know many people think it's easier to just open a box  meal and throw it in the microwave, but what is even in those?  Yuck.  I don't know, and I don't want to know either.  I am not a fan of prepackaged, preprepared, full of God only knows what kind of preservatives and mystery ingredients meals. 

We do lots of salads here at Casa di Romano for summer quick meals.  All the fresh vegetables in the summertime?  HECK YEAH!  We also do sandwiches once a week or so.  We make subs and throw a bunch of those fresh veggies on them!  Yum!  What goes great with both of those?  Soup!  

Even though it's hot outside, and I mean HOT, we still eat soups in the summer.  We absolutely love soup.  It's one of the ways I get my picky boys to eat their vegetables without complaining about them.  They'll eat them raw in salad and on the sandwiches no problem, but cook them and serve them as a side?  Forget it.

I thought I would share one of my quick soups with you this week.  It very satisfying and easy peasy!

Taco Soup

1.3 lbs ground beef
1 packet Taco Seasoning
1 packet Buttermilk Ranch dressing powder
1 onion diced
1 15oz can corn drained
1 can Ro-Tel tomatoes
1 15oz can diced tomatoes
1 can Bush's light red kidney beans
1 can Bush's Cannellini beans
1 28oz canned of whole tomatoes in sauce

In a large soup pot with a bit of olive oil saute diced onion until softened. 

Add ground beef and brown.  

Stir in taco seasoning and buttermilk ranch packet.

Add drained corn and the beans with their juices.

Stir in Ro-Tel and the diced tomatoes.

Add the whole tomatoes and squish them in your hands to break them up.

Stir the soup and cook over medium low heat for 15-20 minutes.

Serve topped with cheese or your favorite taco toppings.

That's it.  This soup saves really well and it just gets better with time!

Share a Spoon Theme - Kitchen Alphabet

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Think Tank Momma

Share a Spoon Theme Time!

"Q & E"

Image credit

The heat is crazy this summer.  We've had record heat all across the country!  I saw on the news that the highways are buckling in Minneapolis due to the crazy heat wave!  Who would have thought it would be hotter in Minnesota than it is in Florida?  That's just madness!  Speaking of Minnesota, 1/3 of The Wonder Triplets, my BFF Kristin of The Only Parent Chronicles picked this week's theme!

Anyheatwave, when it's THAT hot you almost don't want to eat.  Going without isn't exactly healthy, and not really an option when you have kids so we all need some QUICK and EASY go to meals that we can whip up to beat the heat.  That's what this week is all about.  Meals that don't require much effort, because if you're anything like me, the heat sucks all your get up and go right out of you.

Pictures aren't necessary!  If you have a quick and easy go to meal or meals, come share it/them with us this week!  Everyone needs more easy meals in their arsenal!  Be here Thursday and SHARE with us!

Share a Spoon - Carb-a-Palooza

Thursday, July 21, 2011

 Think Tank Momma

Share a Spoon


I think you all can tell, I'm a bread lover.  It's really the best thing ever.  I remember my aunt making rolls when I was little.   The smell of them baking would bring the kids running.  I also used to sit in awe watching her make cinnamon rolls.  *sigh*  There is nothing better.  When she visits we still make her bake her rolls and cinnamon rolls for us!

When we moved to FL, the rolls were replaced with biscuits.  Southern folks LOVE their biscuits.  I like biscuits, but in my heart of hearts I am a roll kind of gal.  I decided a couple of years ago that I was going to start making them myself and started testing recipes.

Now I make soft dinner rolls, Italian bread knots, focaccia, honey white bread, some wheat breads, etc.  Making bread isn't nearly as scary as I thought it would be at first.  I thought it would be difficult, all that rising and kneading and yeah,'s really not hard.  Best part?  THE REWARD is SO worth it!

As with all the recipes I share, I test and change and tweek all of these before I share them.  I've tried lots of dinner roll recipes and this is my version.

Brandee's Soft Dinner Rolls

1/2 cup warm water
1 package dry active yeast
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons Kosher salt
2 cups warm milk
1 stick softened (room temperature) butter
2 extra large eggs
1/4 cup sugar
6 1/2 - 7 cups all purpose flour

Prepare a large bowl with a tablespoon of vegetable oil set aside with a clean kitchen towel.

Fit your counter top mixer with a clean bowl and the dough hook attachment.  Mix the warm water, yeast package, and the salt and sugar.  (First four ingredients.)  Allow the yeast to puff.  (5 minutes)  If the yeast doesn't bloom, pour out the bowl and start over.

Turn the  mixer on low.  Add the warm milk, eggs, butter, sugar and 3 cups of flour.  Turn mixer up to medium.  Allow this to mix until the ingredients look like a cake batter.

Turn the mixer back to low.  Add the rest of the flour a cup at a time until completely incorporated.  It may not take all of the flour.  The dough should be lightly sticky.  Allow to mix on medium for 6-8 minutes.

Turn the dough out on a clean and floured counter top.  Knead into a large ball.

Roll the ball in the prepared bowl and make sure to cover all of the dough with the oil.

Cover the bowl with the clean towel and put in a warm place to rise.  (In winter I usually turn the oven on and let the bowl sit on the counter next to the oven).  Allow the dough to double in size.  Usually takes an hour or so.  (I have made this dough in the morning, left for several hours or the whole day.  It's fine to do that.)

Punch the dough in the center.  Turn out on a lightly floured surface.  Cut the dough in half.  Cut halves in half.  Cut each of those pieces in half once more. This will give you eight even sized pieces.  Cut those into thirds.  This will give you 24 rolls.

Take each piece of dough in your hands.  Push the dough in on itself with your thumbs making a soft ball.

Prepare a sheet pan with parchment paper. Evenly space your rolls on top of the parchment.  Cover rolls with towel and allow to rise.

The rolls should double in size.  Takes about 45 minutes to an hour.

I melt a stick of butter and lightly brush the rolls with half of it before baking them, and the other half when they come out of the oven.

Bake them at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. (Depends on your oven.  Check them at 20 minutes.)

These rolls are so good with soup, or anything served with gravy.  They are amazing right out of the oven!

Let me know if you try them!  I'd love to hear what you like to eat them with!!

Share a Spoon Theme - Carb-a-Palooza

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Think Tank Momma

Happy Saturday Smackers!

It's Theme Time!

Share a Spoon Theme


This week's theme is my favorite thing.  Seriously.  My favorite thing in the word is bread.  Well, bread and cheese.  Or pasta and cheese.  AND POTATOES!  Oh my how I love potatoes!  

The whole low carb movement baffles my mind.  The thought of replacing the bun on a burger with lettuce is just insane to me, because the BUN is my favorite part!  Take the insides and just give me the damn bun!  I'm not kidding.  Go out to dinner?  I'll take the bread basket and dessert.  Yep, I am that person.

Carbs aren't all bad, and they certainly aren't the devil.  Pasta dishes are often low calorie and low fat.  So it's a balance act with diet.  Finding a happy medium.  Really, the truth that we all have to face is everything in moderation is fine.  Problem is, we generally over indulge way too often.  It's hard not to with fresh, hot, steamy bread and warm butter.  *sigh*

Just for this week though, let's indulge the carb lover in us all and share our favorite CARB-A-LICIOUS recipes!  Be it bread, pasta, scalloped potatoes, pain perdu, bread pudding, whatever I don't care.  Just bring on the carbs!!

Share a Spoon - Home Sweet Home

Thursday, July 14, 2011

 Think Tank Momma

Share a Spoon

"Home Sweet Home"

Image via Google Images.  This is what a Sunday Spread looked like!

Growing up Sunday dinner was always a big deal.  Most Sunday's included a large family dinner.  When I say large I mean family.  My Granny would cook for all of us.  My mom and my aunt and all off the kids.  There were usually at least 14 of us for Sunday dinner, often more than that.  No one was ever denied a plate at Granny's dinner table.

We enjoyed all sorts of great Southern delights.  Everything from fried chicken to pot pie.  There were always several choices of vegetables (field peas of any sort were my favorite).  Granny always made biscuits.  *swoon*  There really isn't anything better than a great Southern biscuit right out of the oven.  However, despite my culinary triumphs, I am still no biscuit maker.  *sigh*

One of my favorite meals though was Sunday ham dinner.  I am a huge fan of pork!  HUGE.  I mean, seriously, what's better than pork fat?  You're right.  Nothing.  Although it was my favorite dinner, my mom had to make the potato salad for that dinner to be perfect.  I am not a fan of Southern style potato salad.  They put sweet relish in it, and um...yeah, not a fan.

You can find my potato salad recipe here.  (Just use all red potatoes for your salad.)  Ham is pretty easy.  I buy a large smoked ham and score the top just a bit, pour a can of Coca-Cola over it, cover with aluminum foil and bake according to the package directions per pound.  (Don't use diet soda or Pepsi..only Coke!)

And finally the star of the show?  BAKED BEANS!  Yes!

Brandee's Baked Beans

2 cans Bush's Baked Beans
1 large onion diced
1 1/2 cups ketchup (I use Heinz)
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 Tablespoons yellow mustard
2 Tablespoons steak sauce (A1 or Heinz57, whatever)
2-3 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 pound of bacon, chopped and cooked

In a 13X9 baking dish add the Bush's baked beans.  Add chopped onion and stir well.  Stir in brown sugar.  Mix well.

Add ketchup, mustard, steak sauce and worcestershire sauce.  Mix well.  Sprinkle over garlic powder and stir well.

In a large non stick skillet, render the bacon.  Cook until just starting to crisp.  

Add the whole pound of bacon to the top of the beans.  This will continue to crisp up in the oven and become a crunch topping for the baked beans.

Bake on 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes, or until the beans are bubbling.

I have approximated the ingredients here.  I don't measure when I make these, but these approximations are close enough.  These baked beans are everyone's favorite.  If you are a fan, trust me, you have to give these a try.  Don't substitute some other baked bean though.  Bush's make a difference, as does the steak sauce!!

Now, it's your turn to share your favorite Home Sweet Home recipe.  Let me know why it takes you back home.

Share a Spoon Theme - Home Sweet Home

Monday, July 11, 2011

Think Tank Momma

Share a Spoon Theme

"Home Sweet Home"

Summer vacations.  It's the season when we either travel away from home, or often, travel to see parents.  Go back home if you will.  Traveling often means road trips.  In order to make good time, we pack bags full of snack foods.  Beef jerky, pretzels, chips and fruits.  Road side stops at greasy spoons and diners. *sigh*

After a long stretch on the road all you really want is a nice hot shower, to sleep in your own bed and a meal that say "HOME SWEET HOME".  On the flip side of that, the anticipation of going home, traveling to your childhood home brings memories of that comfort food mom made, grandma made.  Those things that you can only get the way you remember them when you go home.

That's what this week is all about.  Comfort food that reminds you of HOME!  So break out your mom's old recipes.  Dust off your favorite recipe passed down from Grandma.  That recipe you remember from childhood that just whispers sweetly, "Home Sweet Home".

Share a Spoon - Pesto Pea Bowtie Pasta Salad

Thursday, July 7, 2011

 Think Tank Momma

Share a Spoon

"Pesto Pea BowTie Salad"

Image provided via Google Images.

My family loves pasta.  Casa di Romano is a proverbial house of pasta.  Romano's Macaroni Grille ain't got nothin' on us!  Ha!  I crack myself up.  Seriously though, it's probably my favorite side.  We eat pasta like most people eat potatoes or rice.  So when Gayle (Gramme's Blog) asked for Pasta Salads I was thrilled to share.

I make all sorts of salads with pasta and even the kiddos will eat them.  I usually make a large batch each time because the great thing about pasta is the more it sits, the better it tastes.  Pasta will absorb the flavors of whatever you put with it, so therefore sitting allows it take on the flavors!

One of my boys' favorite is a pesto pea salad.  I know you are thinking NO WAY.  But, it's true, they LOVE IT.  They love pesto on many things.  It's Mini-me's favorite on pizza as the sauce.  They love it on potatoes, and on pasta???  They can't get enough of it!

Pesto Pea BowTie Pasta Salad

1 box bowtie pasta (cooked and drained)
olive oil
1 bag frozen baby sweet peas (thawed)
1 cup pesto (I make my own but store bought is fine)
1 cup mayo (I use Hellman's always)
1/2 cup pine nuts (or your favorite nut)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 lemon zested and juiced
Fresh basil
salt and pepper

Cook pasta in heavily salted water until al dente according to package directions.  Drain.  Toss pasta with olive oil to prevent sticking and set aside to cool.

In the food processor, add 1 cup of the thawed peas, the pesto, lemon zest and juice.  Pulse until well combined.  Add the mayo, salt and pepper.  Blitz until combined.

Toss the pasta with the pesto/mayo/pea mixture until well coated.  Add the peas, nuts, and grated cheese and toss.  Top with a bit of fresh basil.

This salad is great at room temperature but is also good cold.

Alright Smackers!  It's your turn.  Share your favorite pasta salad!  Then let me know what you want to see in the coming weeks for Share a Spoon!

Share a Spoon Theme - Pasta Salads

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Think Tank Momma

Share a Spoon Theme

"Pasta Salad Please"

I asked for theme ideas on Facebook and my friend Gayle asked for pasta salads.  You all know my mantra here on Share a Spoon, ask and ye shall receive!  So she asked, and this week we will deliver!

Pasta is one of the most versatile canvases we have in the kitchen!  You can add anything to pasta.  There are no rules, no wrongs....everything is allllllll riiiiiigggghhhhht with pasta!  I'm a BIG fan could you tell?

There are all sorts of pasta salads.  Macaroni, spaghetti, orzo, quinoa,  couscous, and the list goes on and on!  This week I want all you Smackers to share with us you favorite pasta salad.  Every family has their own special "macaroni" salad.  I want you to share your special recipe, and I'll share mine!