Noel’s Kitchen Smarts: Featured Recipe Mean Bean Casserole

June 28, 2009 · Posted in Noel's Kitchen Smarts · View Comments 



Kitchen Smarts: Featured Recipe & Tips: Beans


To Choose:

 Buy beans from a busy market with a steady turnover. Freshness does count, even for dried beans. Older ones will tend to take longer to cook.

To Store:

Transfer dried beans to a glass jar and stick a couple of dried Chile peppers in with them. The chilies will keep any pantry bugs from invading your beans.

To Sort & Rinse:

Spread beans out in a single layer and pick out any shriveled or discolored beans. Dump beans into a large bowl or stock pot of water and swirl around. Discard any beans that float to the top. Drain.

To Soak:

Cover rinsed and sorted beans with 4 times the volume of cold water and set aside for 6-8 hours or overnight, until beans have doubled in size. When one is cut open, it should be moist all the way through. Drain and cook as desired. Note: Lima and Pinto beans do not generally need soaking.


Featured Recipe-Mean Bean Casserole


1 pound ground beef

2 apples

2 medium onions

4 slices bacon

1/2 jalapeno, diced

1/4 cup barbecue sauce

1 large can pork and beans



Peel and dice apples and onions. In a skillet, add ground beef, apples, onions, jalapeno and diced bacon and sauté until onions become translucent. Add barbecue sauce, pork and beans and cook until hot throughout. Serve!



Let’s Go Camping:Your Family Camping Essentials

June 27, 2009 · Posted in Improving Family Life · View Comments 


camping-sign  Pack the car and pitch the tent (or take off in your RV!)… But remember your High Quality Kitchen Tools too! Learn all about the products that will make your family outdoor cooking experience a WILD one!

Even if your idea of camping is sitting in your own back yard you’ll find lots of great ideas for outdoor cooking experience, portable take-alongs, and of course a tasty recipe or two as well!

In other words, a bit of Planning before you leave on your trip, can prevent a rotten camping trip! A little preparation makes for a good camping experience.

camping1  For a quick meal while camping, brown ground beef, add sloppy Joe sauce, and freeze it in a freezer bag. Throw it in the cooler (it will help keep other food cool too) and then warm it up in a pan over a fire or on a grill. The kids will love the Sloppy Joes.

This can also be done with taco meat; just bring along your shells or tortillas and other desired toppings!

 Add a few ice cubes to aluminum foil packet dinners or vegetables to prevent them from burning and keep them moist!

 Using a few corn chips as fire-starters is economical and efficient. Simply light them with a match and toss a few on the campfire or barbecue! Works great!



 To judge the temperature of a fire, cautiously hold your hand, palm side down, over the fire at cooking height. Count the number of seconds you can hold that position and you will have an indicator of how hot the fire

temperature is:

 5 seconds = low

4 seconds = medium

3 seconds = medium-high

2 seconds = high

 To clean messy BBQ grills:

 Use 1/2 an onion to scrape off grease and burnt on food pieces. You use the 1/2 onion like you would a scouring pad. I didn’t believe it would work myself until I tried it!

 To make soot clean easily:

 You may want to coat the outside of your camping cooking pots with bar soap before putting them on the fire. This makes the soot clean off easily!

 Take plenty of heavy duty aluminum foil on your camping trips. You can make so many things from aluminum foil, including sauce pans, lids, bowls, and even water bowls for your pets!

 Use powdered milk for cooking on camping trips, as it is easier to store, lighter to carry and cheaper than regular.

 Getting your on-the-road oatmeal is fast if you turn regular oatmeal in a blender before leaving home. Blending makes the oatmeal the same as “instant.”

 When getting ready for a camping trip, fill large coffee cans with chili, stew or soup, and freeze. It adds to the coldness of the food in the cooler, plus you can set it at the edge of the campfire to heat, right in the can!

Serve up in bowls and then dispose of the can. No big pots to wash and worry about!   camping-tent





12 Large Apples

4 Tbsp Sugar

3/4 Cup Biscuit Mix


3 Tbsp cinnamon (or to taste)


Core and chop 1 apple in fairly large pieces, peeling if desired. Mix 1 tsp. sugar, a few raisins and cinnamon to taste with 1 Tbsp. biscuit mix; stir into chopped apple. Wrap in a piece of greased aluminum foil, leaving

sufficient space for steam. Cook in the embers approximately 30 to 45 minutes (the juice of the apple moistens the dough sufficiently).


Makes 12 packets.






Heavy duty aluminum foil

6 Chicken Drumsticks (or whatever kind of chicken you prefer)

Peeled and Quartered Potatoes

Carrot Slices

Peeled Onions

Green Bell Peppers (sliced)

Your favorite B-B-Q sauce


Tear off a large square of foil — place two pieces of chicken in foil — add a few of each veggie type on top of this — drench in B-B-Q sauce! Wrap up foil very tightly and place in COALS of fire — cook for approximately 55 minutes — carefully take off of coals, unwrap, and enjoy!!



3 lbs beef, cut in 1-inch chunks

12 bacon slices (about 3/4 lb.)

12 tomatoes

6 onions


Place 1/4 lb. of beef, 1 slice of bacon (cut in pieces), slices of onion and quarters of 1 tomato in aluminum foil packet. Cook in embers 30 to 40 minutes.  


Makes 12 packets.







2 cups flour

2 Tbs sugar

4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp cream of tartar

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup butter (1 stick)

3 tbs buttermilk powder

2/3 cp water


You can mix dry ingredients ahead of time, adding wet stuff at the last minute to make slightly sticky dough (mashed up together in a zip lock bag). Flour hands and drop small handful size balls into iron skillet. Cover

with lid or foil and cook 10-15 minutes over hot coals.


Sausage Gravy:

1 roll of country sausage (I use Owens)

1/4 cp corn starch (or flour)

Oil or fat

1 can evaporated milk

Black pepper

Water (or use another can of milk instead for a richer version)


Brown sausage in a big iron skillet and scrape it off to one side. Tilt pan a bit so grease collects to one side. Using a fork, stir in corn starch with enough additional oil to keep it creamy. Then quickly add the canned milk & water (enough to make around 2 cups liquid). Add black pepper to taste and remix in sausage. When you eat this you’ll think you’re in Camper’s Heaven!

Have fun camping this summer and don’t forget those high quality kitchen tools!







Summertime Sweets:Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream

June 24, 2009 · Posted in Recipes · View Comments 



Did you know that more than 70 percent of America’s fresh strawberries are grown in California? Strawberries are picked starting in January in the southern part of the state, than move to the northward to the central coast by April. Which means that by summetime grocery stores will have plenty of this tasty sweet fruit. Stawberries are even low in calories. How about making a sweet homemade treat with this fragrant fruit. Enjoy!


4 eggs

1 1/3 cup salt

2 pints strawberries, washed, and hulled

4 teaspoons lemon juice

2 cups heavy cream


Mix eggs, sugar and salt in the top of a double boiler. Puree strawberries in an electric blender or put through a food mill. Add to eggs. Cook over simmering water, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves and mixture thickens slightly. Remove top of double boiler and stir in lemon juice. Chill.

Stir in heavy cream. Pour into the can of an ice cream freezer; insert dasher and place can in freezer container. Layer crushed ice and rock salt in freezer around the container. Churn until ready and ripen ice cream in freezer, or turn into plastic containers or bowl, cover and freeze 2 hours. Makes 2 quarts.

Entertaining:When Guests Drop In

June 23, 2009 · Posted in Main Dishes · View Comments 


The other day I was thinking about what some of the challenges many homemakers face.  One of them happens to be when unexpected guests drop by. A “Stress Buzzer” goes off in your head, “What am I going to do now?,” “I don’t think I have enough food.” Many homemakers have encountered this issue at one time or another. You may have dinner ready and it’s just something simple like hamburgers for four or even chicken defrosting in your fridge but now there are two additional mouths to feed. What to do?

Well you’ve read previously about me teaching you how to keep your pantry stocked. If your pantry and freezer are well-stocked, there’s no problem with having two additional guests. Serving Chicken?  Here’s a Potluck Chicken your guests will enjoy!


8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1/2 -3/4 cup flour

1/4 cup parsley

1 teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon pepper

1 Tablespoon butter

1 pound fresh sliced mushrooms

1/2 pint sour cream

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Wash and pat dry chicken breasts.  In a large storage or freezer zip-lock bag combine flour, parsley, salt and pepper. Place chicken breasts in bag and shake until well coated. In a skillet on medium heat melt butter. Place chicken breasts in melted butter and cooked until lightly brown. Once browned, place chicken breasts in a 9 x12 baking dish . Set aside. In the same skillet chicken was cooked in, saute 1 pound fresh sliced mushrooms, approximately 5-8 minutes. Add sour cream, dry white wine and rosemary.  Stir until all ingredients are incorporated. Pour over chicken.

Bake 1 1/2 hours. Serve with rice or noodles.  You have 8 generous servings for everyone. Complete the meal with a tossed green salad and some flaky biscuits. Surely a recipe worth adding to your file,


Family Meals Matter Cooking With Kids FREE E-Book

June 19, 2009 · Posted in Improving Family Life · View Comments 

Hello Everyone!

As “my food for thought” (e.g. writing inspiration), I would like to get your suggestions on what your interests are when it comes to cooking information. While I “could” ramble on about what I “think” you may want to hear, it would just be a guess… since I don’t yet have my degree in mind-reading.

Seriously, though, I have such a variety of cooks on my list that it would be impossible to even come close. Everything from beginners to experienced cooks to professional chefs. While one might want tips on how to stock their pantry, another might be looking for recipes or catering advice. What’s a chef to do? Ah… this is where you come in…

I’d like to pick your brain for a minute (maybe two). If you could answer the short survey below, I’m sure it will give me lots of suggestions for my upcoming food publications. Just write your answers below my questions in your reply email (More than one answer per question allowed, listed in order if importance).

As a special thank you gift for helping out, I’m giving everyone that participates a free e-book “Family Meals Matter Cooking with Kids”.   This E-book will not only give you kids friendly recipes but tips and information on kid friendly kitchen product as well. After I see your answer come through I’ll send out the link to your free e-book.

You can either click the “Comment” link under this survey and post it here, or copy/paste it into an email to be more discreet and send it to me here >>> Cooking Survey <<<. I know some folks might not want to share their thoughts with everyone on here and that’s fine.

At what level do you feel you are in your cooking abilities?
a) Beginner
b) Intermediate
c) Experienced
d) Professional

What is your biggest current frustration/challenge in your cooking?

What skill(s) would you most like to learn to help in your cooking?

Are you interested in cooking/eating healthier?

Which are you more interested in… recipes or cooking tips? (Don’t worry… I plan to do both, just trying to prioritize :)

Your additional suggestions or requests…


That’s it… hope I didn’t work you too hard :) Thanks a bunch for your input! It is very much appreciated, and will help to create an interactive publication that will benefit everyone.

Thanks in advance for your help… I know I can count on you :)

See you in the kitchen.

Eating Out Is Expensive…….Eating With Family Is Pricesless……..


Get Grilling Gifts For Dad On Father’s Day

June 17, 2009 · Posted in Noel's Kitchen Giveaway Contest · View Comments 


 It’s almost time for Father’s Day. Many Dads love the outdoors and grilling ~whether it’s charcoal, gas or even over a campfire. This year make it a special day for dad by having the kids help out, no matter what their age is, they can help in preparing, cooking and of course eating.

Dad’s love the grill and the great outdoors. Need a grilling gift for Father’s Day but tight on a budget? Here’s a Great Idea!

“Father’s Day BBQ Kit” – $62


Dads LOVE to grill out, so give him something he can really use!


The Father’s Day BBQ kit includes the BBQ Turner, BBQ Tongs, BBQ Basting Bottle and Grill Recipe Book!  To view these great grilling tools, visit the Kitchen Store. (Tax & Shipping Not included in $62).


All sets include your choice of a TWO FREE SPICE RUBS and a Special Cookbook with over 20 recipes!

Note: This offer is only available through Noel’s Kitchen.  Please submit your order to



Weekly Grocery Store Ads: Grocery Bargain Buys, What Have You Missed?

June 13, 2009 · Posted in Main Dishes · View Comments 



Weekly Grocery Store Ads: Grocery Bargain Buys, What Have You Missed? I think we all ask ourselves this question when it comes to grocery shopping.

With money being even tighter than before, every little penny counts. Everyday families are thinking about budget shopping; they are looking for ways to save money. With the economy adding stress to many families, a lot of retailers are paying more attention to what families are asking. 

For example, browsing through the mid-week grocery store ads all the stores are advertising sales on meats, produce, dairy, all of the important pantry items our kitchens need. 

Have you noticed if your  browsing through the ads carefully the first thing you notice is an ad about spending less than $10.00 on a meal for a family of four or even some stores are offering customers gas rewards. What a great savings for families! 

My point is a lot of people get their weekly ads in the mail or in their Sunday papers but never pay attention. You’re missing a lot of savings throwing away the ads before you look at them. 

This following recipe is courtesy of Raley’s.  Get your pen and paper ready and write these ingredients on your shopping list. This recipe feeds a family of four for about $10.00. What’s even better? The ingredients are on sale! 

Lime Marinated Chicken with Peach Blueberry Salsa


4 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2/3 cup Kozlowski Farms Key Lime Chipotle Vinaigrette

1 1/2 cups diced peaches

3/4 cup blueberries

1/4 cup mined onion

2 Tablespoons chopped Cilantro

Lime juice to taste


Place 4 small  boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a resealable plastic bag with 2/3 cup Kozlowski Farms Key Lime Chipotle Vinaigrette. Seal bag and refrigerate over night. Discard marinade and grill chicken over medium-high heat for 5 minutes on each side or until cooked through. While chicken is cooking, stir together diced peached, blueberries, minced onion, and fresh cilantro. Add lime juice to taste and spoon over chicken.

What a great recipe for families to make during this summer. Best of all, your only spending about $10.00 for a family of four. Remember, eating out is expensive……eating at home with your family is priceless!


Family Fun Friday: Make Your Own Pizza

June 12, 2009 · Posted in Kids In The Kitchen, Main Dishes · View Comments 

Having a Family Fun Night of activities can really bring a family together and build a stronger relationship with your children. The first step to a successful family night is a great dinner. Here’s a recipe I found that as a family you can make together.

This hearty deep-dish pizza is a meal all in one dish and is chock-full of hearty vegetables. This would be great for a large family feast or for your Fall football get-togethers.

1 ready-made 12″ refrigerated pizza crust
1 large Florida sweet onion, chopped
1 large Florida green pepper, thinly sliced
1/4 – 1/2 pound Florida mushrooms, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
2 Tablespoons butter
1 pound ground chuck (optional)
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
One 8-oz can tomato sauce
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 small can black olives, sliced
1 cup Florida broccoli, cut into small florets
1 cup Florida zucchini, sliced
1 cup Florida yellow squash, sliced
1 cup Mozzarella cheese, grated
1 cup Cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
oregano to taste

Step 1: Press ready-made pizza crust into a greased 13′ x 9″ pan, making the edge approximately 3/4″ high.
Saute onion, green pepper, mushrooms and minced garlic in butter until soft.
Set aside.

Step 2: Brown beef with salt and pepper, breaking it up as it cooks until crumbly.
Drain well, set aside.
In a small bowl, combine tomato sauce, basil leaves, oregano leaves and garlic powder.

Step 3: Layer half of the ingredients onto crust in pan in the following order: sauce, meat, olives, cooked vegetables, broccoli, zucchini, yellow squash and small amount of cheeses.
Repeat the same layering process with remaining half of ingredients, topping with remaining cheeses.
Sprinkle with oregano.
Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes.

Economical Family Cooking: Think Casseroles In The Kitchen

June 11, 2009 · Posted in Kids In The Kitchen, Main Dishes · View Comments 

Most of us are wanting to learn more economically ways to save money.  I enjoy being able to teach others about affordable meal solutions. I’m always on the look out for better ways to spend economically for family mealtime. I’ve talked before about Power Cooking and how cooking meals “ten at a time”, saves both time and money; now I’m going to share with you what types of meals work for saving you both time and money.

Casseroles are one of my family’s favorite meals and one of my favorite types of meals to make. They are not only wholesome and economical but tasty and good. Making a casserole is simply using what you have on hand in the cupboard, refrigerator or freezer and combining ingredients. Leftovers can make great casseroles too.  To many, including myself casseoles are considered comfort foods.

Making casseroles is another way to introduce your kids to helping in the kitchen. Kids in the kitchen is a great experience for them learning new foods, how to cook  them, teaching them to follow directions,  about different cultures and even math skills. Make it FUN!

Here’s an all time favorite recipe for a lot of people around the Thanksgiving or Christmas Holidays, but you can make it anytime. I found this on a recent episode of Jon and Kate Plus 8; their 100th episode. Emeril Lagasse was visiting and fixed the family a couple different casseroles. I know there has been a lot of controversy about the show but what I took away from the show was not the fact that Jon and Kate have their issues but that Emeril was not only making them a meal but teaching the kids as well. The kids helped with prepping the fresh green beans for the casserole they were making. The kids had fun doing it. He was teaching not only Jon and Kate but other families watching the show how they can make an economic meal for a large family and get their kids involved in the kitchen.

I’ve included the recipe for the green bean casserole from the show that the kids helped make. Maybe your family could use a economical casserole meal. This will be included in our families recipe of meals. And change it up, make it your own. That’s how family traditions are started in the kitchen.

Emerilized (From Scratch) Green Bean Casserole

Recipe courtesy of Emeril Lagasse, courtesy Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc.  

This is gonna make you think twice about green bean casseroles! When you start with fresh green beans, mix them with a homemade mushroom-béchamel sauce, gild the lily with some fontina cheese, and then top the whole thing with some crispy fried onion rings just like we make at Emeril’s Restaurant in New Orleans – you won’t even recognize this as an updated version of that tired old classic.


6 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
Vegetable oil for deep frying
2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced into rings
1/3 cup Crystal Hot Sauce
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons Emeril’s Original Essence
2 cups chopped yellow onion
½ cup finely chopped celery
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 pound button mushrooms, wiped clean, ends trimmed and sliced
1 ½ teaspoons Emeril’s Bayou Blast
¾ teaspoon salt
1½ cups chicken broth
½ cup heavy cream
2 pounds green beans, ends trimmed and blanched in salted water until tender
¾ pound fontina cheese, rind removed and cut into ½-inch cube


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9- by 13- inch casserole dish with 2 teaspoons of the butter and set aside.

Heat at least 4 inches of oil in a large saucepan or deep fryer to 360°F.

Separate the onion slices into individual rings. Combine with the Crystal Hot Sauce in a mixing bowl and toss thoroughly. Place 2 cups of the flour in a large mixing bowl and, working in batches, dredge the onion rings in the flour to coat. Transfer the coated onion rings to a colander or strainer and shake over the mixing bowl containing the flour to release any loose flour from the prepared rings. Fry the onion rings in batches until just lightly golden, about 1 minute per batch. Note: it is important to allow the temperature to return to 360°F between batches. As batches are completed, transfer the onion rings to paper-lined baking dish to drain. Season the onion rings with the Essence and set aside. Repeat with the remaining batches.

Melt the remaining 6 tablespoons of butter in a large saucepan over high heat and sauté onion and celery until soft, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the mushrooms, Bayou Blast and salt and cook, stirring frequently, until mushrooms are soft and golden brown and have released their liquid, 4 to 6 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining ¼ cup of flour and stir to combine. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the chicken broth and heavy cream and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until sauce is thick and creamy and any floury taste is gone, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat.

In a large bowl combine the green beans, mushroom sauce, and cubed fontina cheese. Transfer to the prepared casserole dish and top with the fried onion rings. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the casserole is hot and bubbly and onion rings are golden brown. Serve immediately.

Yield: 8 to 10 servings


Garlic Basil Chicken and Rice

June 7, 2009 · Posted in Main Dishes · View Comments 

Here’s a chicken and rice dish your family is sure to love! Don’t forget to use those fresh herbs from your garden.


6 boneless chicken breasts

2 sprigs lemon basil

1 sprig lemon thyme

2 sprigs rosemary

4 cloves garlic, pressed

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 teaspoon Calolea California Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 1/2 cups rice

1 can (14 1/2 oz.) chicken broth



Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line 9×12 baking dish with aluminum foil.  Chop lemon basil, separating 1/2 teaspoon for later use. Chop lemon thyme and rosemary.  In a bowl, combine lemon basil, lemon thyme, rosemary, two garlic cloves, pressed, salt, pepper and olive oil in a bowl. Mix together until paste like consistency. Place chicken breasts evenly in baking dish. Spread garlic herb mixture evenly over chicken. Cook 35-40 minutes (50 to 55 minutes if using frozen chicken).


As chicken is cooking, on stove top, combine rice, broth, garlic and remaining 1/2 teaspoon lemon basil in medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cover. Simmer 10 minutes or until water is absorbed. Fluff with fork. Serve with chicken.


The aromas in your kitchen when this recipe is cooking will be fabulous! Try this meal with a glass of Sutter Home Moscato California 2008 Wine. Something about the sweet, creamy, peach flavor with this wine makes you feel like maybe it shouldn’t pair with dessert so much as replace it.


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