July’s New To Me Cooking Challenge

Week 26- Taco Pasta
I’ve been wanting to make this for a while, but I feel like the Food Gods have conspired against me. It just never happened. Something always came up. I finally got around to it this week, and neither Hubs OR I are disappointed in it. He said it was like Hamburger Helper only 100x better!
I did change it up a bit, so you should check out the original version over at Cravings Of A Lunatic. I didn’t use a crock pot, and I changed up the amounts of most of the ingredients! As usual I used reduced fat or low-fat products (darn those calories!).
I don’t really like cream cheese, so I think I might change it out for some Velveeta next time. You might want to let it sit for a few minutes before you serve… let it thicken up a little bit.
one last thing… when YOU measure pasta- do you go by the weight before you cook it, or after? I always go by the weight before.
 
Week 27- Cowboy Crockpot Breakfast
Who doesn’t LOVE breakfast for dinner? I know I do! I adapted this recipe (slightly) from Foodie Army Wife.
It came out pretty freaking fantastic! The only problem I had was waiting for the eggs to finish cooking! It actually took mine about an extra 15 minutes.
I’m not sure how this would work for a breakfast meal… unless you only need 6 hours of sleep, and then I guess you could just start it right before you go to bed. My fancy-shmancy slow cooker has a “warm” setting that switches on automatically when the cook time is finished… so that might help if you’re not a morning person. I think I’ll probably stick to making it for dinner. 😉
 
Week 28…
Ok. I feel really really really bad… I didn’t make anything new this week. We moved into our house on Saturday, and I was so busy unpacking and cleaning that I didn’t plan anything for dinner. Literally. NOTHING. Not one single dinner. Poor Hubs was scrounging all week off paper plates and had to use  plastic utensils. 
Hopefully I’ll be able to make it up to him soon.
 
Week 29- BBQ Ranch Chicken Pasta Salad
I adapted this recipe from Mom’s Test Kitchen. Go HERE to check out the original. I added a few things of my own. I like to make tons of pasta salad at a time, so I can have some leftover to eat throughout the week… especially when Hubs has to work out of town. I really hate cooking for one.
The next time I make this I’ll def use less chicken. We got this pack on sale at the grocery store, and I figured I’d just use it all. My HUGE bowl was actually overflowing with pasta salad, this recipe makes 14 cups! Basically, it’ll make enough to feed an army. You may want to cut it by half. 😉 The next time I make this I will… The one other thing is that the Ranch and BBQ was kind of light, if you like your pasta salad drowning in dressing you might want to use more.
Hubs and I both liked it. How could I not? It has all of my favorite things in it! No, seriously… everything in this pasta salad is on my “favorite foods” list.
 
Week 30- Pizza Crust Dough II
I guess this isn’t (technically) something NEW because I made a pizza crust for week 11 of the challenge. I used a different recipe, so I’m using it anyways. 
The recipe was SLIGHTLY adapted from The Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook. If you don’t own this cookbook… you should go buy it. Seriously, it’s got a ton of great stuff, and the tips & tricks throughout are super helpful! I learned the technical difference between “stiff dough”, and “soft dough”. I’m not sure what it says about my baking abilities that I didn’t know “stiff dough” really just means firm to the touch.
I warmed my water in the microwave for about 40 seconds, then used a (clean) meat thermometer to check the temperature. I know the recipe says to beat the ingredients together, I thought it was weird too. But trust me. Just do it. I used less flour then the original, and let mine rest/rise for almost 20 minutes. The cookbook also said it would make 2 crusts… but it didn’t. At least mine didn’t. I got one.
I’m pretty simple when it comes to pizza. I like a simple mozzarella & pepperoni with light, non-chunky sauce! I think this crust could hold up with heavier toppings, too.
 
Week 31- Slightly Better For You Than Regular Mozzarella Sticks
I love cheese. Really. Love. Cheese. So, when I stumbled on these while I was browsing around on Heather’s French Press… I knew I had to try them. Right away.
And they’re awesome.
I did however have a little trouble with the dredging and dipping… but I think that’s just a personal issue. Once I got going, and got the flour even, the cheese sticks started looking better. Make sure you keep them frozen, or they will melt in the oven! It didn’t happen to me, but I did notice that they started melting on the edges, and kind of flattened out a little bit.
Next time I’ll probably cut the cheese sticks in half before I freeze them. That way they’ll have fewer calories, and I can serve them to a larger group of people! I’m also debating crushing up some Rice Krispies and using them in place of the flour to save a few more calories.
 
These cheesesticks wrap up July’s New To Me Cooking Challenge! Don’t forget to click on the heading for my version of that weeks recipe.
 
Happy Baking/ Making/ Cooking!
-Hey Waitress!!
 
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