Posted by: Brooke Hukill | April 14, 2009

An Easter Hangover

I truly hope everyone enjoyed their Easter Sunday. As for the Hukill Family…maybe the best one to date! Maybe it’s just me getting sentimental with it being the last one before Tyler leaves for college, but the kids were adorable and had so much fun together. I love watching our 4, even spread out by 16 years, giggle and play together. Nothing (besides Mr. Hukill) can melt my heart faster!

So now here we are the day after with a chocolate, peep crazed, m&m sugar hangover and 32 hard boiled eggs. What am I supposed to do now?

Well with money being a little tight in the Hukill household…oh who’s kidding…with money being non-existent. After all we do have 4 kids, do you know how expensive those little ‘angels’ can be?!?! Anyways, there is no room for wasting perfectly good food even if it is eggs. So for the sake of thriftiness I decided to once again do a “breakfast for dinner” night.

Now don’t turn your nose up until you’ve tried it. (oh Lord, I just sounded like my mother!) I promise it’s amazingly good and has been a family tradition going way back in my family tree.

Egg on Toast

Ingredients: 10 or so hard boiled eggs, flour, butter, milk, salt&pepper

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Okay, I promise you can do this but be patient.  I don’t have exact measurements on how I make this.  It drives my hubs crazy that I don’t always measure things, but that’s how I learned to cook.  My great-grandmother never measured anything and well so it fell down the family tree.

First you want to make your gravy.  Start off by melting your butter (about 1 cup) over low heat, then slowly add flour little by little making a fairly thick paste.  Whisk milk in just a little at a time until you get a gravy like consistency.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Last, dice hard boiled eggs into  chunks and gently mix them into the gravy.  Serve over toast and Enjoy!

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Posted by: Brooke Hukill | February 4, 2009

Tuna and Sun-dried Tomatoes Rigatoni

I’m posting this one for a friend looking for something to serve at her dinner party later in the week. This recipe only serves 4, so make sure you double or triple the recipe for a big party!

Ingredients
8 oz uncooked rigatoni pasta (I have also used Penne when it’s all I had on hand)
2 oz Parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 cup Sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, divided
1 lemon
3 tbsp EVOO (yes… I watch Rachel Ray occasionally.)
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 pouch chunk light tuna

1. Bring salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions, then drain.
2. Meanwhile, grate cheese. Pat tomatoes dry using paper towels. Slice tomatoes and chop parsley. Cut lemon into wedges; set aside. All of these things can be done ahead of time, especially for my friend that’s having a dinner party. You want to be able to enjoy your guests when they arrive, not be stressed out from preparing dinner. So do as much ahead of time and stick it in a sealed container in the fridge so it’s ready when you are. Chopping is the most time consuming part of cooking, so when possible do it ahead of time.
3. Heat oil, pressed garlic and pepper flakes over medium-high heat 1-2 minutes or until garlic turns golden (do not allow to burn). Immediately stir in tuna and tomatoes; cook 2-3 minutes or until tomatoes are tender. Add pasta, half of the parsley and half of the cheese to Skillet; toss gently.
4. To serve, divide pasta among serving plates. Sprinkle with remaining parsley and Parmesan. Serve with lemon wedges on the side.

Now, I personally use way more Sun-dried tomatoes and Parmesan, than this recipe calls for. Some ingredients can be altered to your taste. If it’s an adults only crowd and you know they like spicy, add some extra crushed red peppers to liven it up. I like to add extra of that too, but usually can’t because of the kiddos that run this house! 😉 This recipe would go great with a Ceasar Salad and some Garlic-Parmesan French Bread. YUM!

One last tip: Since I am posting this for a friend of mine that…well doesn’t cook all that often, I thought I should mention something important for those inexperienced chefs. You should always use fresh ingredients when its possible. I know before I started cooking – like really cooking, I would use powdered garlic or the pressed garlic in a jar, dried parsley and the Parmesan in the green sprinkle can! There are so many reasons to use fresh ingredients. They are usually more cost effective, healthier and they absolutely make your food taste better. I know that for me, I was intimidated by fresh ingredients and didn’t have the proper tools. There are still plenty of things in the kitchen that I am intimidated by, but with a well equipped kitchen I am always willing to try new things. I know that it is expensive to equip your kitchens, which is why I became a Pampered Chef to begin with. It is a great way to stock your own supplies for next to nothing as a consultant I get so much for free as incentives or very discounted. And I never want my friends to pay full price for anything, so I always suggest hosting a show to earn free products for themselves as well. Okay, so I could go on and on about this topic so I’ll save that for another post. Point is you can do anything you set your mind to when you equip yourself!

(Pampered Chef items I used in this recipe are the garlic press, deluxe cheese grater and my favorite Santoku knife. These can all be found on my website at www.BrookesKitchen.com)

Posted by: Brooke Hukill | February 1, 2009

Super Bowl Specialty

Okay, so I thought I would post my favorite dip, this one is SO easy. It’s one my hubby actually taught me! Crazy, I know!!! 🙂 You can serve it with Fritos or Veggies. I like it with carrots, cucumbers and green pepper slices but Hubs prefers the Fritos most of the time. Every once in a while I can sneak a veggie in the kids mouths but they also like the chips version better.

Ingredients
Sour Cream
Ranch Dip Packet
Finely Shredded Cheese
Bacon Pieces (the soft kind in a bag, not Bacos)

Just mix ingredients together. You can play with the amounts depending on what you like most. Chill for a few hours (the colder the better) and serve. I am headed to the store now to get my ingredients for this evenings festivities. I will be sure and post some pics later. I just wanted to share this recipe with you now so that if you want it tonight too you have time to go get what you don’t already have. It’s SOOOO YUMMY!!!

Can’t wait to see the game and more importantly THE COMMERCIALS! Happy SuperBowl Day people, now go get your grub on!

Posted by: Brooke Hukill | January 23, 2009

Friday Fun Facts

It’s been a long and hectic week at The Hukill House so I thought we’d end it with some fun but helpful information…

Peel a banana from the bottom and you won’t have to pick the little ‘stringy things’ off of it, that’s how the primates do it! And
take your bananas apart when you get them home from the store. If you leave them connected at the stem, they ripen faster.

Store your opened chunks of cheese in aluminum foil. It will stay fresh much longer and not mold!

Peppers with 3 bumps on the bottom are sweeter and better for eating. Peppers with 4 bumps on the bottom are firmer and better for cooking.

Add a teaspoon of water when frying ground beef. It will help pull the grease away from the meat while cooking.

To really make scrambled eggs or omelets rich just add a couple of spoonfuls of sour cream, cream cheese, or heavy cream in and then beat them up. Don’t literally BEAT them up with your fists that’s not nice, but a whisk will work! 🙂 Sorry, that’s my pathetic attempt at being funny!

Add garlic immediately to a recipe if you want a light taste of garlic and at the end of the recipe if your want a stronger taste of garlic. The Hukills LOVE garlic so we always add at the end.

Left-over Snickers bars make a delicious dessert. (Not that we ever have any left-over!) Simply chop them up with the food chopper. Peel, core and slice a few apples. Place them in a baking dish and sprinkle the chopped candy bars over the apples. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes!!! Serve alone or with vanilla ice cream. SO Yummm!

Heat up leftover pizza in a nonstick skillet on top of the stove, set heat to med-low and heat till warm. This keeps the crust crispy. No soggy micro pizza.

Did you know you can expand frosting? When you buy a container of cake frosting from the store, whip it with your mixer for a few minutes. You can double it in size. You get to frost more cake/cupcakes with the same amount. You also eat less sugar and calories per serving.

To warm biscuits, pancakes, or muffins that were refrigerated, place them in a microwave with a cup of water. The increased moisture will keep the food moist and help it reheat faster.

Measuring Cups ~ Before you pour sticky substances into a measuring cup, fill with hot water. Dump out the hot water, but don’t dry cup. Next, add your ingredient, such as peanut butter, and watch how easily it comes right out. Also I have heard that spraying the inside of the cup with PAM will let sticky stuff slide right out. Makes sense!

Please leave your Fun Facts for all to read too…

Posted by: Brooke Hukill | January 21, 2009

Blessed!!!

I wanted to say thank you to all of you for your support and give you an update regarding the contest. We did not win the vacation but it did go to a very deserving family, so we are very happy about that! You can see their story and all of the results here. We did come in third place and believe that God has something bigger and better planned for us.

The process of this contest showed us a lot. It has meant so much to us to see the support group we have all around us! From the sweet comments that so many left on my blog to the forwarded emails some sent to your friends trying to get the word out for more votes. You are all such awesome people!!! We even made some new friends along the way and reconnected with some old ones.

So thank you so much for your love and support! You have reminded us how blessed we truly are!

Posted by: Brooke Hukill | January 7, 2009

HomeAway Getaway Entry

I recently decided to enter a vacation contest.  I’ve never entered a contest, let alone one where I would do a video, so be prepared.  For those of you who don’t know me well, I am…let’s say…a tad bit emotional?  The winner will be chosen by an open voting process.  Please hear our story and VOTE (above, just enter your email and click Vote for this post, they will not retain your email address or use it for any other use other than to confirm your vote) for my family’s chance at a vacation.  I can’t even begin to tell you what it would mean to all of us!

We are a family of 6, our 4 kids are absolutely amazing!  Our oldest will be leaving for college this year, our only daughter is a Freshman in HS and truly helps us get through each day by helping with the little ones, our middle son is 7yrs old and was born with Spina Bifida and is restricted to a wheelchair along with several other medical complications and our youngest is about to be 2 and is full of energy and love.

We have never been on a family vacation and may never be able to afford one while all our kids are still at home, we only have a short time before our oldest leaves for college.

I would love to give our special needs child the chance to play on a beach and to see the ocean while he is still small enough to be carried around. Wheelchairs and sand don’t mix.

I would love to be able to give my incredible husband the rest he truly deserves. He works so hard and so much to support our family so that I can stay at home and take care of our children the way they deserve, which allows me to be able to devote my love and attention on them and their care.

This may be our ‘once in a lifetime’ and I just feel so blessed just to be given the opportunity!”

Posted by: Brooke Hukill | January 2, 2009

You don’t see this anymore!

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In my efforts to cut back our grocery bill even more – an ongoing effort with a growing family of 6 – I bought whole carrots recently.  You know, the only kind we had when we were kids.  It just dawned on me that I was buying pre-cut, peeled baby carrots for the convenience and not paying attention to the cost, so the last trip to the grocery store I purchased a “bunch” of carrots.  While preparing dinner last night, one of my kiddos came into the kitchen and said “What’s that?” with a little bit of disgust.  I was astounded!  But then… when would they have seen a real carrot?  Everyone buys for convenience these days, and for so long we have been a part of that trend as well.  They were convenient and for my oldest child the only vegetable he will eat.  (At least that’s what he thinks!)

After comparing prices I found that I was paying a dollar more for the same amount of carrots, and on average I was probably buying one bag a week.  So I just saved us $52.00 for the coming year!

Let’s jump on the Frugal train and keep finding ways to save in our kitchens.  This is just a place to start and I would love to hear some of the ways you save!  I am even contemplating the idea of starting a veggie garden this year.  I would like to think that it would be a way to save and teach my children a thing or two in the process.  We’ll see if I can find the time though!

Posted by: Brooke Hukill | December 29, 2008

Cranberry Crunch Bark

Sorry it has taken me so long to get this posted.  I know many of you have been asking and waiting on this yummy recipe…

1. Place Rectangle Stone in freezer for at least 1 hour.  Cover your cutting board with a piece of parchment paper.  Melt 1 package (20 ounces) vanilla-flavored almond bark according to package directions.

2. Coarsely chop 3/4 cup toasted almonds with Food Chopper; combine with 3/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries.  Stir 2 cups crisp rice cereal and half of the nut mixture into melted bark.  Pour bark mixture onto parchment, spreading evenly.  Immediately sprinkle with remaining nut mixture; press lightly onto surface of bark.

3. Remove baking stone from freezer; slide parchment paper onto baking stone.  Let stand 7-10 minutes or until bark is set.  Bring edges of parchment up over bark and break into pieces.

This is really a very simple and fast recipe.  I made this for the kids teachers one morning while we were waiting on the bus!  Super easy!!!  Enjoy!

Posted by: Brooke Hukill | December 16, 2008

Breakfast for Dinner???

Tonight, I was just about to prepare a meal my family usually loves…Shrimp Fettuccine Alfredo, when my oldest son decided to protest.  With all his might he declared he wanted waffles for dinner!  What?  I am not fixing breakfast… It’s dinner time!  But then I got to thinking… would it really be so bad to fix breakfast for dinner… as long as it’s healthy and I can kick in a few of my “tricks” to make almost anything healthy?

I recently bought Jessica Seinfeld’s cookbook, Deceptively Delicious.  I’m sure you’ve heard of it, but just in case, it’s a cookbook of tricks where you hide pureed veggies, fruits and even meats in every-day foods most kids love.  Oh parents, you must have this book!  There are so many tricks you can pull that your children will never pick up on.  And there is a wealth of information about the simple things, like how many servings of what each child is supposed to consume.  Because lets get honest, as much as we want the best for our kids, the kitchen is one place that “what’s best for them” is off limits.   Usually for a few reasons…

  • it’s impossible to know what is REALLY good for them and what is not
  • it’s too hard to get them to eat what is good for them
  • there are so many rules about how many servings of this and how many servings of that
  • you never really know what is in most of what you buy anyway, so what’s the point?
  • who has time to cook homemade meals… everything comes out of a box these days on purpose… right?

Well this cookbook makes all of that so much easier!  And truthfully, my kids have no idea; well they didn’t anyway until last night.  I don’t quite remember how the topic came up but my oldest two (17,14) finally found out.  And it has been the question of the table for the last 24 hours.  Now everyone wants to know what I put in what to make it…eeeewwwwww…H E A L T H Y!  Cause all Hukill children are born with the innate ability to detect things that are good for you and immediately turn a cheek.  So frustrating.  But not anymore!

So…tonight we had Waffles (with pumpkin in them), French Toast (with banana in them), Scrambled Eggs (with cauliflower in them), bacon and sausage.  Not too bad, huh???  They had no clue, although they were trying to guess what Mom snuck in this time.  The older kids know now but have no clue all the tricks up my deceptive sleeves.  For now this won’t be a weekly ritual but the kids definately enjoyed the treat of a big breakfast for dinner!

Posted by: Brooke Hukill | December 8, 2008

Adorable Christmas Baking Gifts

So after many requests for some of my holiday recipes…This is one I will be making this year.

Candy Cane Brownie Lollipops

Pampered Chef Candy Cane Brownie Lollipops

Ingredients
1 pkg (18-21 oz) fudge brownie mix (plus ingredients to make brownies)
24 candy canes
10 oz chocolate-flavored almond bark
Additional decorations such as red jimmies (optional)

1. Line Medium Sheet Pan (or 9-in. by 13-in. metal pan) with a 13-in. piece of Parchment Paper; lightly spray with
nonstick cooking spray and set aside. Prepare brownie mix according to package directions; pour batter into pan.
Bake 30 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs attached. Remove from
oven to Stackable Cooling Rack; cool 20 minutes or until still slightly warm.

2. Meanwhile, cut straight ends of candy canes off to form 4½-in. sticks using Utility Knife. Place candy cane tops
into resealable plastic bag and crush using flat side of Meat Tenderizer; set aside.

3. Using Medium Scoop, scoop brownie into 24 rounded scoops, packing brownie into scoop using hands.
(Entire brownie will be used.) Roll brownie scoops into smooth balls. Insert candy cane sticks into centers of
balls, mounding brownie around each stick to secure. Pinch each brownie ball where candy cane and
top of ball meet.

4. Place almond bark into Small Batter Bowl; microwave according to package directions until smooth. Spoon
melted bark evenly over each brownie ball, turning to coat completely. Be sure to coat where candy cane stick
meets brownie ball. Allow excess bark to drip off. Dip into reserved crushed candy canes or jimmies and stand
upright on a piece of Parchment Paper. Repeat with remaining almond bark, lollipops and crushed candy. Let
stand until set. Place into miniature cupcake liners.

Although the edges of the brownies are crusty, they don’t need to be discarded. Simply scoop the edges along with the center, and they’ll soften as they stand.  And lollipop sticks or stick candies can be substituted for the candy canes.  Wrap lollipops in cellophane, tie with ribbon and use as table décor, place cards or take-home goodies for a special holiday touch.  Just make sure you keep some for yourself to enjoy!

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