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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Just Over Twenty Plus Days...

In the kitchen time again!

I am so very eager for Autumn to arrive. Today I even had my manicurist paint my nails in a lovely shade of deep, dark wine...a color I normally reserve for the cooler months. I wish to wear my sweaters, coats, laced up oxford shoes and of course my hats & gloves. We do not get much an Autumn here in my neck of the woods of California. The temps seem to hover in the 80's and then we lower to the 70's for a month, and then WHAM we are soaked in rain, and putting on the wellies and freezing, and it is likely all this will happen in the next two months. 

I have been so eager to start cooking all the wonderful dishes that just scream Autumn to me. Stews, casseroles and soups. Served up with a side of hot bread and maybe a cobbler afterwards when apple picking rolls around. So when my Kraft Food & Family magazine arrived and it was the Fall addition, I decided to not wait and to try out a few dishes. The next two are what I have done so far. They are simple and hearty and really yummy too...especially with a tweak or two. 

yes, it does seem very 1950's for me...and not at all 100% healthy, but oh so yummy. I did use low fat cheese and low sodium bacon as well as lean ground beef.
Instead of browning everything together, I microwaved the meat, drained it and then rinsed under hot water and drained again...all the flavor is still there, but less fat!
I bake my bacon, no mess that way....and as I was already going to the trouble of doing each step more separate anyway, it truly was not a big deal for me to do the bacon in this manner.
Nice and crisp. Most of the fat patted off, left to cool for easy chopping.
I cooked my onions in a bit of low fat butter, salt and pepper. They were still a bit frozen, so when the excess moisture sweated off I drained them and went back with the butter & browned them up a bit more. Yes, in the recipe it says cook with the meat, but then It would have been harder to drain both the ingredients.
Alright, so here is the meat, the onions, the Ketchup, and mustard ( I used deli, not yellow...richer flavor) it is all ready to go in my baking dish. 
I put the meat in the baking dish, which I sprayed with cooking spray first. Then the chopped bacon goes on top, then the cheese....

...then the frozen tater tots....I use the extra crispy type! If you wanted to be decadent you could add a bit more cheese to the top!
I baked for nearly 30 minutes till I was satisfied with the crispness and brown of the Tater Tots.
The above dish was served with a large salad and that was all that was needed for a complete, and wonderfully tasty meal. The family devoured it! So it is on my must do again list! The next one is a stew of sorts and you can not even imagine how simple it is ! Just get it started and forget about it! 

I am rather still in the mode of penny pinching, and I am not fond of large knifes or should say they like me too much I bought stew meat, and it was so simple...have to love when things are just dump and go! Like how we always chop up and freeze bags of onions and other vegies for future easy to use when getting a meal done in a hurry!
I use crock pot liners, so clean up is a snap too! The tweaks to the recipe that I made were using diced onions,and adding mushrooms. I left the slices(bought them pre-sliced)whole. Why mess with a knife? But if you have very fussy eaters, like my husband, you can dice them. I used baby bellos, they are very meaty in flavor and texture. Set the crock pot to the time period you wish to eat at..normally I use the 4 hours, this time I used the 8, then later set to 10 as I started in the morning. I only checked on it twice, gave it a good mix and left it again.
A few hours later, and minimal work and we have a wonderful topping that screams Autumn to me! Served here over whole wheat flat, wide noodles, but over brown rice, or mashed potatoes would all be wonderful with this dish. It was warm, comforting and filling and another perfect one to add to my will make again list as the one above was.


  1. Oh yum!!!

    I love autumny food - they're so wholesome and comforting.

    Simply delicious...

    Beks xx

  2. That all looks soooo yummy!! I want to be at your house for dinner. I as well can not wait till fall is here and cooler weather!

  3. I love that crock pot recipe... I'm going to have to check that out! I live just south of San Jose and looking forward to Autumn as well!


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