LOK Cooking Challenge - June/July

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The latest LOK Cooking Challenge ends today and being the procrastinator that I am...I just completed it! LOL

This month's challenge is to provide a 3 course meal (appetizer, main, dessert) for 4 with ingredients purchased soley at a dollar store. You can't use anything from a cold case, only shelf stock.

I spied a can of Old El Paso Chickekn Cheese Enchilada Flavor Soup and thought...that would probably make a good base for a rice dish. I bought a can to take home for a taste test. It was a hit! It had huge chunks of chicken and veggies, perfect for a base. Eileen loved it so much she begged me to buy more so we can take it camping. So the challenge was on.

My purchases... $14.75
2 El Paso Chicken Enchilada Soup
2 sliced carrots
2 tuna salad kits
pouch of tuna
lg can diced tomatoes
jar marinated garlic vegetables
bag of dried cranberries and golden raisins
orange marmalade
mango perserves
sharp cheese spread
chocolate frosting

Let me just say....Cooking for 4 is HARD! I'm now convinced Tom and I will be empty nesters with multiple freezers jampacked full of leftovers. I'll be making up care packages for everyone who stops to visit. It was so hard to gauge how much rice was needed for a main dish for 4. And the veggies, I kept thinking...that's not enough!


I had two options in mind when I bought my appetizer ingredients. I definitely wanted the jar of marinated garlic vegetables. It was what I was serving with it that I was wishy washy about...Tuna. I was leaning toward tuna cakes but I'm not a huge hot tuna fan. I decided to put out both options. So I took the tuna on crackers picture, crushed up the crackers into the tuna salad and added the additional pouch of tuna, formed it into patties and fried...tuna cakes!

Personally being the country bumpkin that I am, I'd opt for the super easy tuna salad on crackers, it wasn't half bad. It also made the meal a $1 cheaper (didn't need to buy the pouch of tuna). Most of the kids who were up when I did this liked the tuna cakes. They were so so on the marinated veggies which is fine by me...I'll eat the whole jar myself!

Main Dish

The veggie portion of this challenge gave me fits! Knowing that the rice dish was bland and orange/yellow in color I thought canned asparagus would liven up the plate. Thing is...I needed two cans to be what I deemed a reasonalbe serving. Can I serve hot asparagus without any butter or flavoring? Then I spied the canned veggies that were 2 for $1. Hmmm some glazed carrots might be yummy. Won't help me on the presentation but as long as it's good. I thought I grabbed an apricot perserves to glaze the carrots with, I grabbed the mango one instead. It worked, made it intersting and everyone liked it...Sean LOVES them!

I simmered a half pound of rice with 2 cups of water, 2 cans of soup, juice that I drained from the diced tomatoes and half the can of tomatoes. Being the cheese freak that I am, I didn't think the soup gave the dish enough cheese flavor to it. To fix this I decided to add a container of cheese spread to the dish near the end. I opted for sharp cheddar since I was making the dish on the mild side. The pepper jack or nacho might've been a better choice for this dish but the sharp worked out ok. This made TONS of rice for 4 people. It might have even been too much for my family as a side dish. People liked it well enough here (I had some as I wrote this out)


I knew the base of my dessert was going to be pound cake. What I didn't know was what I'd serve on it. First I picked up a package of vanilla pudding cups to make trifle. Then a pouch of cherry dessert was in my hand (like cherry pie filling), then a can of lemon pudding, I decided to do something totally different then what we're used to. So I went dried cranberries and golden raisins plumped up in an orange marmalade glaze with melted chocolate frosting drizzled over it. I didn't want to be repetitive with the glazing but thought it was different enough in taste to be ok. A few of my kids aren't raisin lovers so they didn't go gaagaa over it. I liked it a lot and it served the purpose of why I made was different then our normal.

I'd say the challenge was a success. Everything I made was liked well enough by enough people in the house to be ok to serve as a meal. I'm pretty sure I won't be running to the dollar store to get our next meal though.

Other entries...


Menu revisited

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

As in classic form, I have to revise my menu already. Tom went camping Sunday night and bought some steaks to cook over the grill. For whatever reason they were never used. So I now have to make something with them before they go bad. Also I figured it was senseless to make up the delicious chicken and broth without using some of it so I'll add that to the menu too (freezing the rest for another meal or two in the future).

The two meals I'm booting from the lineup are the corndog casserole and Friday night's breakfast. The corndog casserole seemed to be a hit on LOK's Household board so I thought I'd try it last was a hit at our house too. There weren't many people here to enjoy it. A few that missed expressed a desire to try it soon so that's why I added it to the menu this week. Unfortunately that means it's the meal I needed to buy the most ingredients for. That fact alone makes it the sensible one to boot from this week's line-up. Friday's menu is booted just for lack of wanting to have it or do the work for it. (takes a while to make pancakes for this house!)

So now my menu looks like...

Tuesday... Beef and gravy over shells, canned green beans
Wednesday... Homemade chicken and rice soup, biscuits
Thursday... Spaghetti with Italian sausage, homemade garlic rolls
Friday... BBQ venison sandwiches, canned corn, macaroni salad
Saturday... Meatball Subs, salad (maybe pasta salad...haven't decided yet)

Shopping list now looks like...

Salad fixings
fruit for snacks
bbq sauce
refill water containers
bread for sandwiches for lunch (if I'm lazy and don't make my own)

Let's see how long this one lasts lol

Tye-Dye Duo over and done with

Monday, July 28, 2008

We roasted the 2 roosters tonight. I took a picture before we roasted them but forgot to take one before we cut it up for serving.

Never having had free range bird before I wasn't sure how much fat there would be. My thought was, not a lot. Instead of my normal olive oil I buttered the birds using real butter. Then I seasoned with onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper and into the oven they went. They smelled DELICIOUS cooking!

The size of the drumsticks and thighs surprised me. Those two guys gave us a lot of meat even though I left a decent amount on the carcass when I carved them. (planning on making stock with them). My concern that the kids would balk at the idea of eating the roosters and the taste of it were for naught. Everyone that ate it, liked it. I choose a thigh and while it was very tasty, it was also a bit tough. I can see why people cut their chickens into pieces. The thighs and drumsticks are definitely geared more toward stewing. Then again maybe these birds were a bit older then I'd like my roasters to be. (we don't know how old they were) Also I'm considering not allowing my meat birds so much freedom...but not sure about that yet.

Anyways back to the roasted roosters. Immediately after dinner I took what was left and put it in the crockpot with the carcasses and pan drippings. I'll let it cook on low until the morning when I should have a pretty meaty crock of broth.

Menu... June 27 - August 2

Sunday... Grilled cheese and tomato soup
Monday... Roasted yard fresh roosters (see here for an explanation), mashed potatoes, sauteed zucchini
Tuesday... Spaghetti with Italian sausage, homemade garlic rolls
Wednesday... Chili corndog casserole, tossed salad
Thursday... BBQ venison sandwiches, canned corn, macaroni salad
Friday... Breakfast for dinner...pancakes and scrambled eggs
Saturday... Meatball Subs, canned green beans

Shopping list
Salad fixings
4 boxes cornbread mix
4 cans chili
1 pkg real bacon bits
fruit for snacks
bread for sandwiches for lunch (if I'm lazy and don't make my own)
refill water containers
bbq sauce