Quick and Easy Tamale Pie
Perfect for a chilly night, or a night when you're on the go, this dish goes together in a flash and is hearty and delicious! It is made with ingredients I usually have on hand, and is versatile enough that it can handle about any substitution you decide on. For example, you can swap out the can of chili beans for a can of red kidney beans and some taco seasoning.  Just make sure you add the liquids from the cans of whatever you're adding.

*Note, one of my favorite short cuts is if a recipe calls for 1/2 of a chopped onion or 1/2 a chopped bell pepper, etc, I chop the whole thing and freeze what i don't need right away. Then I have it ready to go and pre chopped for something like this recipe.
You will need:
  • 2 boxes Jiffy Cornbread mix
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 can mild chili beans
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/3 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 (15 ounce) can creamed corn, undrained
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
Tamale Pie
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9”x13” pan. In a large frying pan, cook, but don't brown, the ground beef, breaking it up into crumbs as it cooks. Add onion and green pepper and cook 5 minutes longer. Add corn (with its liquid), chili powder, salt and beans, heat until very hot and pour mixture into the casserole dish. Top with shredded cheddar, and top that with the cornbread. Try to smooth the cornbread out evenly over the top. I threw a few more shreds of cheese on top to make it look pretty. Bake for about 20 minutes or until cornbread is golden and the filling is bubbly. Delicious! 

Zingy, Cheesy Chicken & Noodles

Have you been looking for an adaptable, quick and easy, yet satisfying and delicious recipe that can feed a few or a crowd? Have I got the recipe for you! There are a number of ways you can do this recipe, and you can make it with or without the Ro-Tel (if you omit the Rotel, add about a cup and a half of chicken broth). It's cheesy and delicious! A perfect weeknight meal!pot of noodles
Ingredients: 2 large (13 oz) cans white breast chicken meat (or 5-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts or 1 whole chicken fryer, cooked) 1 - 12 oz package spaghetti noodles 1 - 16 oz (1 lb) package Velveeta cheese, cubed
1- 10.5 oz can Ro-Tel 1 - 10.5 oz can cream of chicken soup 1 - 14 oz can chicken broth or 2 cups reserved homemade broth, or 2 boullion cubes 1 - 8 oz package shredded mild or sharp cheddar cheese
Directions: I did this the easy way with the canned chicken, but if you're using breasts or a fryer, cook as you desire. If you boil the chicken, you won't need the boullion later).
Cook the spaghetti per package directions in boiling broth or water with boullion.
Add spaghetti and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer noodles until al dente. If you're not using canned chicken, while spaghetti noodles are cooking start deboning the chicken (make sure it is cool enough to handle) or break chicken breasts to smaller pieces. If you're using canned chicken, open the cans and drain the liquid, and crumble the chicken into small pieces.
Once the spaghetti is done, drain and set aside. Return the pot to the stove. Add the cubed Velveeta, Ro-Tel (drain if your littles are sensitive to spice), cream of chicken soup and chicken and stir over low-medium heat until it's smooth and melty.
Add spaghetti noodles to the cheese and chicken mixture. Stir to combine.
bowl of noodles
At this point, I served it. I thought it was delicious. However, you could take it one more step....
Spray a 9x 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray and add combined mixture. Top finished casserole with 8oz of shredded cheddar cheese.
Place casserole in a preheated 350 degree oven and bake for about 45 minutes or until cheese is golden brown and casserole is bubbly. Remove from oven let cool and serve.
You can also try this in the Crock Pot: The recipe this was adapted from claims to have recently made this in a crock pot with pretty good results. She sprayed a 8 quart crock pot with non stick spray, prepared the chicken spaghetti as above, but adding some additional chicken broth. You want the mixture to be a bit soupy so it doesn't dry out while cooking. Set your crock pot on low and cook for 2-3 hours. 
Perhaps you've heard of Black Elderberry Syrup? It's basically just what it sounds like- a syrup or cordial type liquid made from black elderberries, and I've come to the conclusion it's the most amazing immune booster no one has ever heard of. I LOVE this stuff!! I'm not sure exactly how it works. All I can tell you is that the past few years, myself, my husband and my kids have caught every sniffle, sneeze, flu, stomach bug and cough that has gone around anywhere. Until this year.
This year we added another child to our family, so you would assume that there would be some sort of multiplying factor to the illnesses. But that has not been the case. We've barely caught anything. While all of my friends miss work or complain of constant illnesses, and my Facebook newsfeed is full of every possible ailment at pretty much any given time....our house has remained blissfully and almost entirely pestilence free. We've had one case where my 2 year old got diarrhea, the baby had a day of random throwing up, and both girls had a case of the sniffles that lasted a couple of days. I consider this to be a monumental victory considering, as I said, usually we catch EVERYTHING!
I don't know how the stuff works. I'm sure you can find that on the internet. You can also buy elderberry products commercially, either at drug stores, natural foods markets, or online. But being the frugal, DIY type, I make it myself. And that's what I'm here to tell you how to do
you will need
You will need:
1 cup of dried elderberries (I buy mine online)
6 cups water
2 teaspoons- 1 Tablespoon ginger powder (to taste, but don't leave it out, it's important)
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup raw, local honey. The darker the better (you can ask your friendly local beekeeper for super dark- they usually have some on hand)
I also like to add some turmeric powder, and some echinecea tincture to mine- see below for additional information
pot of ingredientsIn a large pot, combine all ingredients EXCEPT the honey. If the honey gets too hot, it loses it's healthy properties. I use a generous sprinkle of turmeric and 1/4 cup of echinecea tincture, but as i said, these are optional ingredients. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to where the ingredients are steaming but not bubbling, and let it go for 30 minutes. At the end of the 30 minutes, mash up the berries with a potato masher, spoon, fork, whatever you've got. Let sit another 30 minutes or so to cool just enough that you can work with it.
Strain off the berries. They've given their goodness and you can throw them in your compost or trash now. I use a regular screen mesh strainer.
Once the berries are strained out, add the honey to the liquid, stir well to make sure its completely dissolved. It's done!! It's that easy! bottle of juice
Now you're ready to bottle it up (I use glass bottles- like wine or liquor bottles, or spaghetti sauce jars). You'll want to keep it in the fridge as it does not contain preservatives, but it will stay good in the fridge for a long time.
I take an ounce a day as I also use it to help boost my milk supply for my nursing baby. I give my 2 year old 1 teaspoon a day. It tastes similar to blackberry juice- delicious! A normal adult dose is 1 Tablespoon per day. You'll want to double up if you feel any kind of sickness coming on. So far I've noted that this either drastically shortens the duration of illness or prevents it altogether. (Naturally, this is just my observation, I'm not affiliated with the FDA, this statement has not been tested in a lab, etc etc etc)
You can also use it to make gummies, if your kids like gummies better.
Cheers to your good health!!
**A note about Echinecea**
tincturestraining tinctureThis is the powdered Echinecea i use to make my tincture. All I do is put 1/4 cup of the powder in a glass bottle with about a cup of vodka, and let it sit for a few weeks, giving it a good shake every day or 2. The alcohol pulls the good stuff from the powder, resulting in a tincture. The powder will settle to the bottom and when you're ready to use it, it should be pretty easy to pour off what you need without too much sediment. You can also strain it through a coffee filter or fine seive. The alcohol will evaporate off during the cooking process of the elderberry syrup.

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