Monday, December 29, 2008

Black Bean Soup

This soup was very tasty. It was hardly enough though. When it was heating through it did not look like a lot, so I poured it into a measuring cup. The whole bag was only 2 1/2 cups! I would think we would need at least 1-2 cups per person. This is not enough for 4 adults. I think with our dinners we need to say 1-2 cups per person for soups and ziploc baggie stuff and 9x9 pan for others.


Saturday, December 27, 2008

Squash, Chickpea, Lentil Soup

Well, we had this for dinner tonight. We did not like it. This is the first thing we really couldn't eat. I was looking forward to it. It was really sour. I am not sure why it was so sour. Sorry.


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Turkey Tortilla Casserole

We had this for dinner the other night and it was yummy! I actually make this and we call it Turkey Enchilada casserole. Thank you kelly!!


Friday, December 19, 2008

My thoughts

My family has been very happy with most of the meals and I have loved just being able to pull something out of the freezer. I didn't participate in December because of the new baby, so I can't comment on those meals.

I alternate trying a new dinner with some that I know the kids like. I also make sure that I have rice or noodles and if the kids (or Stephen) don't like the dinner, they can eat that with pasta sauce from a can or eat leftovers. Usually once the kids eat a few bites, they end up liking it-- they loved the chicken pot pies, the swedish meatballs, farmer's casserole, and tuna casserole, and others. There have been more than enough "hits" to more than compensate for the "flops." Stephen and the kids are all pickier eaters than I am, so on the ones they don't like, I just have them for lunch. (That's what I did with the 2nd bag of chili-- the kids ate PB and Jelly, which I hate.)

I'm sorry people didn't like the Zippy Chicken Chowder. It is one my family eats a lot and one all of my kids like and I've taken it to RS luncheons often over the years and people usually like it. But I won't do that one again. That's why the feedback is nice. All of our families have different tastes. (hopefully you liked my other meals better.)

As far as the size of the meals, most have worked great for my family. I usually have the rice or noodles, a vegetable or salad, and some other type of side dish. I also always have homemade bread and butter on the table which is filling.

I love not having to think about the main dish. And even when that's gone, there is always plenty of other food to fill everyone up.

Just my thoughts.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

More Thoughts

We've added side dishes to every meal we've made and many of them still did not fill us up. I think the main point is, some dishes are more filling than others. Some are hearty and some are light. I think it would be helpful to trade hearty for hearty and light for light (but obviously not always feasible). I'm guessing I choose dishes that I would want to be served, and that are hearty. I also kind of "over do" anything that I give away. I can't help it.

I do understand the dish issue, yet the 4 servings has been somewhat of an inconvenience for our family. Although, everyone who has filled gallon bags with hearty dishes or used larger pans (like the Tuna Casserole) ended up filling us up with leftovers. The dishes in pie plates didn't seem to go as far.

Anyway, just some experiences we've had.

My thoughts

I want to thank everyone for doing this Dinner Swap with me. I am loving it!!! I do not feel so burned out from cooking.

I am feeling that I need to reiterate a few points. There has been some comments regarding portion sizes. Yes, this can be hard to determine. We all have various family sizes and all of us eat different amounts. Please realize that this is just the MAIN dish. You will probably need to provide side dishes. If your family has bigger eaters make both of the meals! Try adding a bread like rolls, sliced bread, biscuits, breadsticks,or cornbread. Also, you will probably need to add vegetables and fruits, we like to have: canned fruit, sliced fresh fruit, or baked fruit, cut up veggies and dip, frozen veggies, pickles, and salads. You can also add grains like pasta, rice, or couscous to make the meal stretch a bit.
Only you will know how much your family eats. If I know what I am cooking will not be enough I will make extra or I will add two or three side dishes to fill my family up.
With the cost of meals, some of us will spend more one month but maybe not so much the next month. I hope all of us shop sales.
Please contact me with any questions or concerns you may have. We will need to keep it at 4 servings because of finding pans to do it in.
Also, check out the other co-op in the area (I have several friends in this one and it is working FABULOUSLY!!). They have 15 participants, which is too many in my opinion so that is why I started my own. The web address is

Thank you again for making my dinner time better!


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Black Bean Soup Review & Some Ideas

This was GREAT. We loved it. All of us.

We had to use both bags, and just perfectly fed us all. We had salad and corn chips with it as well. My kids thought it was chili. I'm wondering if I should have added a little water for it to seem like soup. I'm wondering if the freezing process made it slightly thicker therefore not going quite as far. Regardless, we had to use both bags.

A lot of the meals we've had leftovers, some were just right, and some not enough. I am guessing we are still not quite knowing what feeds 4 hungry adults well. Soups, the pies, pizza, and a few of the other dishes seem to "not quite" do it. The casserole dishes seem to be more than enough. Is anyone feeling the same thing? I'm guessing since I have older children I would have to have side dishes in order to make this work. People with younger kids, or picky eaters may not have this problem.

I'm also wondering if we should bump it to 5 hungry adults since most of us seem to be echoing a similar problem with a lot of the dishes, and since all of us have 5 or more in our families. Has anyone in the group had less?

Any ideas?

Reviews & More

First of all, thanks Krista for your rave review (posted on my recipe post). I'm glad to hear you loved it. Phew! I'm always nervous when people eat things I cook.

We had the Shepherd's Pie finally. We liked it. It wasn't quite enough. We had to use both of them. I think a slightly larger pan would have been better for us. This recipe is similar to what I make so my oldest son LOVED it and we all enjoyed it. No complaints from our peanut gallery! We had salad with it.

Disclaimer on the Sweet and Sour Meatballs: I did tweak the recipe just a tad. I never quite follow a recipe when I cook (only when I bake). I did what looked right to me. So, if you recreate the recipe on your own, you may want to adjust it to your liking.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Pepperoni Pizza

Our family ate the pizza tonight for dinner. We ate both pizzas. It was good. Everyone liked it. My kids LOVE pepperoni pizza. I had a little trouble getting it to cook the way we wanted, but I probably didn't follow the instructions very well. The crust was a bit soggy, and I kept putting it back in to cook longer. It seemed like it took a long time to get it to cook through, and it wasn't even frozen.
I felt like there should've been two pizzas per dinner. I guess we might be big pigs, but I don't know too many families that can eat one smallish sized pizza for dinner, even with salad and veggies. With 6 of us, (yes, even Lachlan eats chopped up pizza) the pieces would have been pretty small. My 3 girls (6,4,2) ate at least a whole one themselves.
Thanks for the dinner!

Black Bean Soup

10 pieces smoked bacon finely chopped
6 cloves garlic pressed
2 1/2 c onion chopped
14 oz chicken broth
1 1/2 c chopped tomatoes
2 Tb ketchup
2 ts worcestershire sauce
1 Tb chili powder ( I omitted this)
4 cans black beans drained but not rinsed
bunch cilantro
juice from 1/2 lime
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
optional: sour cream, cheese, sliced scallions for garnish

Put bacon into large pot and heat over medium til fat is rendered. ( I remove the bacon and cook it til crispy in the oven, then take it out and chop it up when it is cool,and add it back to the soup. I don't like slimy bacon) Stir in onions, stirring til translucent, about 4 mins. Stir in the garlic and cook til you can smell it, about 1 min. Ad the broth, ketchup, worcestershire, tomatoes. Stir in the beans and turn up the heat to high til it boils. Adjust the heat so the soup is bubbling gently and cook 10 mins. Season with salt & pepper.
pick off the stems of the cilantro. wash it and shake dry. chop the cilantro and stir it into the soup when it has been simmering 10 mins. Cook until the soup is thickened, about 5 mins. Stir in the lime juice.
Serve with optional garnishes.
This recipe claims to serve 8 but it didn't make that much in my opinion. Perhaps my husbnand & I are giant pigs, but I think it probably only serves 4 hungry adults, Maybe 6.
We really liked it and I hope your family enjoys it too!
Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Turkey Tortilla Casserole

4 c. turkey (cut into small pieces)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 c sour cream
1 c. milk
1 can diced green chilies (I also added a few jalapenos too– but it shouldn’t be too spicy)
2 tablespoons minced onions
12 corn tortillas, cut/torn into small pieces
2 tbs oil
8 oz. grated cheddar cheese or Monterey jack cheese

Fry tortilla shells in oil until slightly crispy. Mix soups, milk, chilies, sour cream and onions. Layer in a 9x13 pan half the tortilla shells, half the turkey, half the soup mixture, half the cheese, then repeat.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Serves 8

Friday, December 12, 2008

Sweet & Sour Meatballs with Rice

1 14 oz can pineapple chunks, undrained
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 tsp soy sauce
About 3-5 meatballs per person
1 5 oz can water chesnuts, drained and thinly sliced
1 green pepper, cut in strips

Drain pineapple and reserve juice. In medium saucepan, combine brown sugar, corn starch, water, vinegar, soy sauce, and pineapple juice. Cook over low heat until hot and bubbly. Carefully stir in meatballs, water chesnuts, green pepper and pineapple. Heat to boiling until green pepper is slightly soft. Serve over hot cooked rice.

This was very yummy! It was so tasty! Ben kept asking for more. It was plenty of food for all of us. Just perfect. Thank you!



We tried the pumpkin Curry Soup last night and I was really looking forward to it. For some reason it did not appeal to us at all. The kids even gave it a real good try (unusual for them, I told them it was "Narnia Soup" since we just watched Prince Caspian) but didn't like it. The real surprise was my hubby who usually likes everything had one taste and wouldn't eat anymore. We dumped it out. Sorry! It just didn't taste right at all to our taste buds. And I am a huge curry fan. Couldn't even figure out a way to doctor it up.

Shepherd's Pie was good. We aren't huge fans of it, the kids won't even eat it, but Abram and I and the baby ate it. There was plenty.

Thank you!

Thursday, December 11, 2008


I'm thinking of doing Sweet and Sour or Teriyaki Meatballs for December. Not sure yet. I have to get to the store.


The Swedish meatballs were good, but were a bit bland for our families' tastes. There was plenty of food to feed all of us.

The Aztec Quiche tasted great, but did not feed all of us.

Pumpkin Soup was great. We loved it. There was plenty for all of us. I actually poured it over the tuna casserole and liked that. Our family doesn't care for tuna casserole, (I actually don't like it at all, but think it's one of the best tuna casseroles I've eaten). There was plenty of it. I ended up giving my second tray to a friend (who loves tuna casserole) who just had a baby.

Farmers Casserole was ok. Our kids didn't like it at all and Jeff and I thought it was ok. Plenty of food, again.

Pork Burritos were AWESOME. We loved them, but there wasn't quite enough.

We did not like the Zippy Chicken Chowder but LOVED the corn chips. I'd like to know where Janet buys them. I haven't seen them anywhere.

We haven't had the Shepherd' s Pie or Taco Soup yet but love both those dishes.


Again, this is a dish I make by sight, not by recipe.

About 1 jar of Prego spagetti sauce (any flavor)
1 box of lasagna noodles
About 4-6 cups shredded mozzerlla
1 large container of cottage cheese
about 1 lb of cooked ground beef (I don't always use this)

Spread a light layer of Prego on the bottom of a baking pan. Layer uncooked noodles. Spread a thin layer of cottage cheese, then mozzerella, then spaghetti sauce. Sprinkle the ground beef on the next layer. Repeat noodles and other ingredients (about 3 layers total usually). Leave some cheese for the top layer. Also be sure to get sauce completely covering the noodles or they'll stay hard. Bake at about 400 degrees for an hour.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Squash, Chickpea and Red Lentil Stew

1. 3/4 cup dried chickpeas
2. 2 1/4 pounds kabocha or butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
3. 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4. 1 large onion, chopped
5. 1 cup red lentils
6. 4 cups vegetable broth
7. 2 tablespoons tomato paste
8. 1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
9. 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
10. 1 teaspoon salt
11. 1/4 teaspoon saffron
12. 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
13. 1/4 cup lime juice
14. 1/2 cup chopped roasted unsalted peanuts
15. 1/4 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

1. Soak chickpeas in enough cold water to cover them by 2 inches for 6 hours or overnight. (Alternatively, use the quick-soak method: Place beans in a large pot with enough water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat and let stand for 1 hour.) Drain when ready to use.
2. Combine the soaked chickpeas, squash, carrots, onion, lentils, broth, tomato paste, ginger, cumin, salt, saffron and pepper in a 6-quart slow cooker.
3. Put on the lid and cook on low until the chickpeas are tender and the lentils have begun to break down, 5 to 6 1/2 hours.
4. Stir in lime juice. Serve sprinkled with peanuts and cilantro.

Yield: 8 servings

Modeled on North African stews, this aromatic vegetarian main course can be served over brown rice or steamed spinach.

Curried Pumpkin Soup Recipe

1. 2 medium onions, finely chopped
2. 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3. 2 large cloves garlic, minced
4. 1 tsp ginger
5. 2 teaspoons ground cumin
6. 1 teaspoon ground coriander
7. 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
8. 1 teaspoon curry powder
9. 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
10. 3/4 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
11. 2 (15 ounce) cans solid-pack pumpkin (not pie filling) or (3.5 cups fresh, cooked pumpkin– this is what I used)
12. 4 cups water
13. 1 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
14. 1 (14 ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk (not low-fat)

1. Cook onions in butter in a wide 6-quart heavy pot over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, curry powder and cardamom and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in salt, red pepper flakes, pumpkin, water, broth, and coconut milk and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes. Puree soup in batches in a blender until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids), transferring to a large bowl, and return soup to pot. Keep soup warm over low heat. Soup can be thinned with additional water.

Yield: 10 servings

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Curry Pumpkin Soup

We just had this for dinner. I served it with warm french bread. This was SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO YUMMY!!! We loved it! I really want this recipe. We wish we had another one to eat another time. Brian and I both think we would like to add chicken pieces to it when I make it. It reminds me of my favorite soup, Cream of Chicken Curry Soup. What a great base~ fresh pumpkin. You could really change it around by adding veggies too. Thank you KELLY!!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Tuna Casserole/aztec Quiche/lasgna

There was plenty of tuna casserole. I'm not used to that recipe, and the kids didn't like it. (kids, they're always picky) The tuna did seem quite fishy and there wasn't enough sauce. We doctored it up a bit. And had leftovers for a few days (the kids still didn't like it)

The quiche was good, it tasted almost just like chili rellanos, but with a crust. This didn't seem like substantial enough to feed 4 hungry adults, even with side dishes. My kids wouldn't try it and my husband and I ate the whole thing.

The lasagna tasted good, even the kids ate some of it and seemed to like it. There was enough for all of us.

thanks everyone!

Farmer's Casserole too

We had this for dinner tonight. My family liked it. Please post the recipe!

Farmer's Casserole

This post is from Tara because she is having trouble getting on this blog.

She said her family liked it but it was a bit bland. She served it with rice. She said next time she will make a brown gravy to go over the top of it.

Tuna Casserole

Last night we had the Tuna Casserole. We loved it with the penne. We really like tuna casserole and this one was yummy! There is lots of tuna, more then I usually do so it was extra good. Thank you Tara!!

Shepherd's Pie

I normally make shepherd's pie with a white based sauce, so I was a bit nervous to try it with a red based sauce. It was SOOO good. The potaotes froze wonderfully. We all loved it. Thank you Davette!