Sunday, December 20, 2015

Rigatoni and Cheddar Cheese Casserole


It was a Friday night and I was in search of a recipe that we had all of the ingredients on hand.  I pulled out my recipe box and found a recipe from probably 20 years ago that I copied down.  Not sure of its origin, but seemed pretty easy to make.  Very similar to my macaroni and cheese recipe, but a touch different using the corn starch.  This also uses almost double the milk and cheese.   Winter is a great casserole time, so stock up on the basics for when the mood strikes you.  

Rigatoni and Cheddar Cheese Casserole 

3 tablespoons cornstarch 
1 1/2  teaspoon dried oregano 
1/2 teaspoons white pepper 
3 3/4 cups skim milk
3 cups (10 oz.) shredded Cheddar Cheese-extra sharp
1 pound cooked rigatoni 
1/2 cup unseasoned bread crumbs
2 Tablespoons melted butter 
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine cornstarch, oregano, white pepper in a medium mixing bowl.  Gradually add milk and whisk until smooth.  Poor mixture into pan and place over medium high heat.  Bring to a boil and cook 1 to 2 minutes, or until thickened, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat, add cheese and rigatoni, stir to combine.  

Combine bread crumbs, butter and parsley in a small bowl.  Transfer noodle mixture to casserole dish.  Sprinkle with bread crumbs and bake uncovered for 30 to 40 minutes.  

Recipe may be made ahead to this point and stored in refrigerator for up to 3 days.  Bake as directed and serve. 




Sunday, December 13, 2015

Cashew Chicken (ala Crockpot)



One of my favorite chinese dishes to order out is Cashew Chicken.  I love the combination of the tangy sauce and the crunchy addition of the cashews.  In the past I have a recipe that you make quickly in the wok style pan,  This one is cooked in the crock pot (Big fan!) intrigued us so we gave it a try.  There is a short cooking time on this recipe so if you are home some afternoon or possibly on the weekend this is a good choice.  I lke to have the cruchy taste of the cashews so we add them just before it is done.  



Cashew Chicken

2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts (About 4 pieces)
3 Tablespoons Cornstach
½ tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp canola oil
½ cup soy sauce
4 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
4 Tablespoons ketchup
2 Tablespoons sweet chili sauce
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
¼ tsp red pepper flakes

1 cup cashews


Directions


Combine cornstarch and pepper in resealable food storage bag. Add chicken. Shake to coat with cornstarch mixture. Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Brown chicken about 2 minutes on each side. Place chicken in slow cooker.

Combine soy sauce, vinegar, ketchup, sweet chili sauce sugar, garlic, ginger, pepper flakes, and cashews in small bowl; pour over chicken. Add c
ashews about 1/2 hour before the mixture is done. 

Cook on low for 3 to 4 hours. Serve over rice. Makes 4-6 servings.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

King Ranch Casserole

I went scouring the big binder last week to find a recipe that would use our chicken leftovers that we froze about 2 weeks ago. I had made a delicious roast chicken and what was left over would be great in a casserole.  This was a recipe that we have had but hadn't made in quite sometime.  So, we dropped our son off at his basketball practice on Wednesday we went to the store and picked up the small list of ingredients that we did not have on hand.  Everything was ready to throw this together after work the following night.  And it worked out well having the ingredients handy and the chicken already cooked.   

It is casserole season, cold winter evenings where you want something hot and hearty.  Hubby and I had tickets to see Matilda, so a nice hot casserole was perfect to head back out in the cold after dinner. This chicken casserole fits the plan with the corn tortillas and the cheese.  It can be made with fat free soups and a reduced fat cheese for a light version.  Either why it is a great dish. 




King Ranch Casserole

Ingredients

large onion, chopped 
large green bell pepper, chopped 
Vegetable cooking spray 
2 cups chopped cooked chicken breasts 
(10-ounce) can cream of chicken soup, undiluted 
(10-ounce) can cream of mushroom soup, undiluted 
(10-ounce) can diced tomato and green chiles 
1 teaspoon chili powder 
1/2 teaspoon pepper 
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder 
12 (6-inch) corn tortillas 
(8-ounce) block Cheddar cheese, shredded 

Preparation

Sauté onion and bell pepper in a large skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until tender.

Stir in chicken and next 6 ingredients; remove from heat.

Tear tortillas into 1-inch pieces; layer one-third tortilla pieces in bottom of a 13- x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Top with one-third chicken mixture and one-third cheese. Repeat layers twice.

Bake at 350° for 30 to 35 minutes or until bubbly.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

It is cookie time! Heath Bar Cookies

It is that time of year when cookie recipes flood the internet.  Everyone has their version of the 12 Days of Cookies or something similar with the Christmas Season upon us.  I made thee last week when I was home on vacation for our Thanksgiving Holiday. 
 
 

 


These are the easiest cookies to make.  A refrigerator, slice and bake cookie that taste like a Heath Bar.  The dough can be made ahead and after it's required refrigeration, quickly sliced up and baked as needed.  You could even make these and freeze the dough for baking at a much later time. I know that there will be other cookie recipes to follow in the next few weeks, these will definitely be the easiest to make.


Heath Bar Cookies 

Ingredients

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg, room temperature
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup Heath toffee bits

Instructions

Cream butter and sugar together. Add in the egg and extract and mix until well combined.
Stir in flour, mixing until fully incorporated. Fold in Heath toffee bits.
 
 
Divide dough in half and place on top of a sheet of plastic wrap. Form the dough into a log about 6 inches long and 1.5 inches in diameter. Wrap each log with the plastic wrap and refrigerate dough rolls for 1-2 hours or until nice and firm.
 
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove plastic wrap from rolls and cut into ¼ inch slices.Place slices about 2 inches apart on cookie sheet.
Bake for 8 minutes or until lightly browned. allow to cool on minute on pan and remove to wire rack to complete cooling.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Apple and Cranberry Crisp



There is this great spice company that we love to buy from when we get the chance.  It is called Penzey's and is headquartered out in the Midwest.  There was at one time a kiosk in Grand Central Station that we would always stop at to purchase what we might need but has now moved to a mall outside of the city.  Their prices are very good and the quality is the best.You are able to buy what you need in all sorts of sizes.  Once you start shopping through them you would receive a catalog on a quarterly basis that not only has all of their spices and extracts but great recipes too.  This recipe came from a recent catalog I picked up when I was in their Buffalo store.  I had to be in Buffalo for my job and I made it a point to stop by the store with my list of needed spices and extracts.  Hubby found the recipe and made it for dinner last weekend.It is a great fall recipe, maybe even for Thanksgiving this week because it features both Apples and Fresh Cranberries.


Apple and Cranberry Crisp


Filling:
1 3-lb. bag McIntosh apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1 1/2 Cups cranberries, optional
3/4 Cup sugar (you might use a bit more if adding cranberries, which are quite tart)
2 tsp. PENZEYS CINNAMON
1 tsp. GROUND NUTMEG
1 tsp. GROUND ALLSPICE
1/2-1 tsp. GROUND CLOVES (recipe calls for full teaspoon)

Crust:
2 Cups flour
1 Cup packed brown sugar
1 Cup shortening

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, combine the apples, cranberries (if using), sugar and spices. Toss to coat. In a second large bowl, combine the flour and brown sugar. Add the shortening and cut with a fork until the mixture resembles pebbles. Spoon the filling into a 9x13 pan. Sprinkle with the crust crumbles. Gently press the crust to form a flat surface. Bake at 350° for 45-60 minutes.





Sunday, November 15, 2015

Pasta with Portobello Mushrooms and Goat Cheese

This recipe has been lingering in my Pinterest feed for awhile with a note that the kids would love it.
When I was browsing my board "Looks yummy, have to try" I quickly forwarded the pin to hubby and said what do you think?  Two days later, this is on the Table for dinner.  Delicious and easy with such a great flavor.  Brings pasta to a whole new level.



Pasta with Potobello Mushrooms and Goat Cheese

INGREDIENTS

2 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 onions, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 pound portobello mushrooms, stems removed, caps halved and then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
3/4 pound ziti
3 ounces soft goat cheese, such as Montrachet, crumbled
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

In a large frying pan, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter with 2 tablespoons of the oil over moderate heat. Add the onions, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and the sugar and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are well browned, about 20 minutes. Remove from the pan.

In the same pan, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon of the oil over moderate heat. Add the mushrooms and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and brown, about 8 minutes. Add the reserved onions, the parsley, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and the pepper.

In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the ziti until just done, about 13 minutes. Reserve 3/4 cup of the pasta water and drain. Toss the ziti and 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water with the mushroom mixture, the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, the goat cheese, and the Parmesan. If the pasta seems dry, add more of the reserved pasta water. Serve with additional Parmesan.

The best chocolate chip cookies ever!



When our daughter came home to go to a football game and tailgate with her cousins, This weekend she asked me what should I bring to the tailgate?  My reply was to check with her Aunt who coordinates the food part of the tailgating.  The response was "Have her bring her Chocolate Chip Cookies!".

Her cookies are delicious and probably the best Chocolate Chip Cookies out there.  They actually got there start with my mother and the Betty Crocker Cook Book. This was probably the one cookie recipe my mom used out of a cookbook that was a family recipe passed down.  Our daughter started making them about 5 years back and would take them to school and  basketball practices as a treat for the girls.  Then she decided to enter them in the State Fair Cookie competition when she was about 15.  No prizes there, but it could of been that it was so hot the day we took them over the chocolate was melting on the plate.  I have to admit they are delicious.  You can't eat just one. And, they were a big success at the tailgate.  We know that because the container came home empty and we heard that her cousin was walking around and passing them out.  But don't worry, we took a handful out before she left for our own private stash. 

Betty Crocker Chocolate Chip Cookies - 1970's recipe


Ingredients

2/3 cup shortening
2/3 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 1/2  cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped nuts
2 (6 ounce) packages semisweet chocolate pieces (She used Chunks)
Directions:

Heat oven to 375° degrees.

Mix thoroughly shortening, butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla. Blend in remaining ingredients. 

Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto un-greased baking sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes or until light brown. Cool slightly before removing from baking sheet.

NOTE: If using self-rising flour, omit soda and salt.
SPECIAL NOTE:  Too keep them soft, place a piece of bread in the container.  It works!


Saturday, November 7, 2015

Creamy Crock Pot Italian Chicken

The crock pot is a staple in our weekly cooking.  It is 24 years old, well used and runs good.  Maybe cooks a bit too hot at times so we have learned to cut back on cooking times.  I have thought about replacing it with a newer model, but in our house, if it ain't broke, don't replace it.  So on some things it takes us awhile to catch up to what is the latest and greatest.
 
For this recipe, we made it a couple of weeks ago.  It is a quick and easy go to recipe that is filling and pleases the young man in our life, our son.  This recipe has floated around Pinterest and the internet and everyone tweaks it a bit to make it there own.  We added the garnish for this recipe, but we can see adding possibly mushrooms.
 
 
 
 

Creamy Crock Pot Italian Chicken


Ingredients

 
1-2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/4 cup water (or chicken broth)
1 (0.7) packet dry Italian Salad Dressing Mix
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (10.75 oz) can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 (8 oz.) block cream cheese, softened
1 (16 oz.) box Rotini pasta, cooked
green onion, sliced
 

Directions

 
Cut chicken into cubes. Place chicken in the crockpot and sprinkle with Italian Dressing mix. 
Add water or broth and stir.  Cover and cook for 4 hours on low. 
 
 Spray a large saucepan with cooking spray and cook onions and garlic for a few minutes.   Add soup, broth and cream cheese.  Stir until smooth and add to crock pot.  Cover and cook for an additional hour.  (Do not cook for more than an hour.)
 
  Add cooked pasta to crockpot to coat.  Transfer to dish, top with green onion and serve.  

Monday, November 2, 2015

Corn Dip

 
Pick up some Fritos Scoops or corn chips and have a fiesta with this dip! This will make a ton for your next tailgate or holiday party and is very easy to make.  I found this on the Inspired By Charm Blog and adapted it for my house.  It has been awhile since I made this (note that it is an outside photo) but a definite make again dip for fall and holiday parties. The other dip is my Rosemary White Bean Hummus that is so so good!
 
 

Fiesta Corn Dip

 
3 (11-oz.) cans Green Giant Mexican Corn, drained
7-oz. can chopped green chiles
6-oz. can chopped jalapeno peppers, drained and liquid added to taste
1/2 c. green onion, chopped
1 c. mayonnaise
1 c. sour cream
1 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
16-oz. pkg. shredded sharp cheddar cheese, Taco flavored
2-3 bags scoop-like corn or tortilla chips

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients except chips. Chill two hours to overnight. Serve with your favorite chips (I used Fritos and Tostitos) for scooping. Makes 6 cups.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Easy Take Out, Fake Out Beef and Broccoli


Hubby has taken over my Pinterest boards and is now asking to have a special board just for stuff we have tried and liked.    I already had one but I renamed it so that he could find it.  This recipe made the move from "Looks yummy" to "Tried and loved it".  This recipe came from Table for Two blog with a few tweaks and does taste like take out.  




Beef and Broccoli


Ingredients:
1 lb. boneless, London broil, sliced into thin strips
1 cup beef broth
½ cup low sodium soy sauce
⅓ cup dark brown sugar
1 tbsp. sesame oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp. cornstarch
4 tbsp. sauce (from the crockpot after dish is cooked)
Frozen broccoli florets (as many as desired, I believe I used almost 2 cups)
White rice, cooked
Instructions:
In the insert of the crockpot, whisk together beef consume, soy sauce, dark brown sugar, sesame oil, and garlic. Gently place your slices of beef in the liquid and toss to coat. Turn crockpot  on low and cook for 6 hours.
When done, in a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and cooking liquid to create a slurry, pour into crockpot, stir to mix well. Cook on low for an additional 30 minutes to thicken up the sauce.
Toss in your broccoli florets then serve hot over white rice.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Easy Apple Strudel

My husband dressed the part! 


When you think of fall you remember the leaves changing colors, apple picking, pumpkins, Oktoberfest and hearty meals. Well that is what we had at our last dinner club dinner a few weeks ago. Giada and hubby from across the street created an Oktoberfest menu that included some traditional German foods including  Sweet and Sour Cabbage, Jagerschnitzel (Pork Cutlets with mushroom gravy), Zwiebelkuchen (Onion Pie) and Apple Strudel.  




Our dinners are decided by the host and recipes are distributed and assigned to each couple.  Our contribution was the apple strudel.  Pretty easy recipe but I had some difficulty with the puff pastry that I decided to make a second one.  I thought the first one just didn't look right and luckily the pasty comes in two rolls, so I was able to remake it with a little help from a video from the Pepperidge Farms website on working with the dough.  The end result was delicious topped off by my homemade vanilla ice cream. 


Apple Strudel


1/2 of a 17.3 ounce package of Puff Pastry (Pepperidge Farm), thawed
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 egg beaten lightly with 1 tablespoon water
Confectioners’ sugar for serving (optional)
Ice Cream (optional)

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, cinnamon, and flour. Add cranberries and walnuts and stir to combine. Add apples and lemon juice and toss, stirring until the apples are well coated; set aside.

Lightly flour a clean work surface and roll puff pastry out to a 16 by 12-inch rectangle. With the short side facing you, sprinkle 1/2 of pastry with apple mixture, leaving a 1-inch border at the end closest to you. Roll the pastry up, jelly roll-style, and crimp to seal edges. Transfer strudel to prepared baking sheet and brush top with egg wash. Cut three slits on top of the pastry to let steam escape. Bake until top is golden, about 35 minutes. Transfer baking sheet to a wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes. Dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving and serve with ice cream, if desired.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Buffalo Pretzel Sticks

 
Nothing beats a quick and easy appetizer!  This one is similar to the spaghetti pretzels we make and also reminds me of the hidden valley ranch oyster crackers that are addicting.  We wanted something flavorful and easy for our fall afternoon wine tasting with our foodie friends.  We definitely found it with this dish. 
 
Give this one a try for your upcoming Sunday afternoon watching football!


Buffalo Wing Pretzel Sticks

Ingredients

½ cup Franks buffalo wing sauce*
½ cup butter (1 stick)
1Tbs Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. onion powder
2 tsp, garlic powder
1 tsp. seasoned salt (I used Tastefully Simple)
16 oz. bag pretzel sticks
Marzetti blue cheese vegetable dip for dipping
* Hubby told me not to skimp on the wing sauce!

Instructions

Preheat oven to 300°F. Line a jelly roll pan or two baking sheets with parchment paper.
 
Melt wing sauce, butter and Worcestershire sauce in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir in onion powder, garlic powder, and seasoned salt and continue cooking for 5 minutes.
 
Empty bag of pretzels into in a large bowl. Drizzle pretzels with wing sauce mixture and toss with tongs until evenly coated. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Serve  blue cheese dressing dip for dipping.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Enchilada Casserole with a twist


What kid doesn't love tater tots?  Or even yet, what adult doesn't love tater tots?  And then add a Mexican flavor to the recipe and you have a winner. That is what I had last week when it was my turn to plan and make dinner.

One of the things I dread when coming home from work is the time involved in getting dinner ready. It seems that as soon as I walk in the door, dinner needs to be prepared in order to get it to the table on time because someone has something planned after dinner and they need to get out of the house. I would love the opportunity to sit and relax a few minutes before jumping into something,  But, this night was a double whammy.  Hubby and our son had gone for haircuts after work and weren't there when I got home.  And dinner needed to be soon after they arrived.  I had gone to the store on my lunch break to get the hamburger, enchilada sauce and seasoning so that when I did walk in the door I could get this casserole started.  




Tater Tot Enchilada Casserole

350 Oven
15 minutes prep
20 minutes cook time

Ingredients:
1 pound meatloaf mix
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp. Old El Paso  fajita seasoning (envelope)
4 cups frozen tater tots 
1 (10 oz.) can medium red enchilada sauce
2 cups pepper jack cheese, shredded
1 (2.25 oz.) can sliced black olives (optional)
sliced green onions for topping (optional)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet, over medium heat, brown meatloaf mix along with onion and garlic. Once browned, drain excess grease then return meat to skillet.

Next, sprinkle two tablespoons fajita seasoning onto beef.  Stir well (keep skillet on a medium-low heat). Then pour in enchilada sauce. Stir well.

Add frozen tater tots and stir until the tater tots are coated with sauce. Transfer mixture into a 9x13 (ungreased) baking dish and evenly spread out. Sprinkle cheese all over tater tot mixture. Top with sliced black olives.

Bake uncovered for 15-20 minutes.Cheese should be melted and tater tots golden brown.

Serve with diced green onions on top!


Saturday, October 10, 2015

Sunday Dinner

Sunday Dinner!  At this time of the year it is so nice to have the house smell of a roast of some sort and to take advantage of all the butternut squash available.  We wanted a roast similar to a rosemary stuffed pork roast, but with out the big cut of meat.  A tenderloin is just the right size for the 3 of us. So I scoured the web and found this recipe from Real Simple.  

The butternut squash is one of my favorite fall recipes.  I originally posted this in October of 2012.  The squash comes out so tender and sweet that it mealts in our mouth.  And if you make a lot and have left overs it would be great for Butternut squash soup. 



Rosemary Crusted Pork Tenderloin

INGREDIENTS

1/4cup bread crumbs
2cloves garlic, chopped
1teaspoon smoked paprika
1tablespoon chopped rosemary
kosher salt and black pepper
11 1/4-pound pork tenderloin
1teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon olive oil


DIRECTIONS

Heat oven to 425° F.

On a large plate, combine the bread crumbs, garlic, paprika, rosemary, and ½ teaspoon salt.


Rub the pork with 1 teaspoon of the oil, coat with the bread crumb mixture, then place on a rimmed baking sheet.

Roast the pork until cooked through, 20 to 30 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before slicing.


Roasted Butternut Squash


3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp chopped thyme
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
Directions
Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Place the squash on a rimmed foil lined baking sheet, add the olive oil, thyme, salt, and pepper and toss with your hands. Roast until tender, tossing once during cooking with a metal spatula so the cubes brown evenly, 30 to 40 minutes. Season to taste and serve hot. Serves 4 to 6.


Thursday, October 1, 2015

Spaghetti Casserole - Enough to dine all week!

 It is so nice to come home from work and see that dinner preparations have been started.  Especially since it would be a late dinner because our son is involved with after school sports.  I had a few minutes to watch the "chef" prepare his casserole before I headed back out for the pick-up. And with Fall upon us a hearty casserole is great to have on a brisk evening.  

This one came from Trisha Yearwood on Food Network.  I had not pictured her as a chef on Food Network, rather a country music star.  With the number of real cooking shows dwindling and more and more food competitions on the network, I will check out her show.  No more Neely's or Tyler Florence's cooking shows.  Remember them?  Even the real chef's are on some kind of competition show. Hey Food Network, Bring back real recipes for real people!

Spaghetti Casserole

Ingredients



Cooking spray, for greasing pan
6 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
Three 14 1/2-ounce cans diced tomatoes with liquid
One 2 1/4-ounce can sliced black olives, drained
1 to 2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 pound ground beef, browned and drained (We used meatloaf mix)
12 ounces thin spaghetti, cooked and drained
2 cups grated cheddar (5 ounces)
One 10-ounce can cream of mushroom soup
1/4 cup grated Parmesan


 Directions


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-by-13-by-2-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
In a large skillet, cook the bacon until slightly crisp. With a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain. Sauté the garlic, onion and bell pepper in the bacon drippings until tender. Add the tomatoes, olives, oregano, bacon and the cooked ground beef and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

Place half of the spaghetti in the prepared baking dish; top with half of the vegetable-beef mixture; and sprinkle with 1 cup of the cheddar. Repeat the layers. In a bowl, stir together the cream of mushroom soup and 1/4 cup water until smooth, and pour this over the casserole. Sprinkle with the Parmesan and bake, uncovered, for 30 to 35 minutes, or until heated through.


Adapted from "Home Cooking with Trisha Yearwood" by Trisha Yearwood (c) Clarkson Potter 2010

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Time to feed the sweet tooth

Saturday morning,  Hubby left early to go to the gym and then had some errands to run. So, he wouldn't be home till early afternoon.   I decided I needed to get motivated as well and set a plan for my day.  I wanted to pull out some fall decorations, get the mountains of laundry done and I needed to feed my sweet tooth as well.  I had this recipe from the Noble Pig saved on the Facebook feed and decided that Saturday was the time to make it happen. 
 
To get the day started I headed to the Y to get in some cardio (in preparation for the calories I was going to consume). From there I would go to the grocery store with my list of ingredients needed.  Then head home and tackle my to do list and get everything done in order to enjoy the beautiful fall day we had.
 
This cake was not only calling my name I knew my mother would like it as well. I was planning on going out to see her on Sunday and would take about 1/4 of the cake with me.  I had to share the calories with someone and I get my sweet tooth from her.  And who can resist a cake with 2 and 1/2 sticks of butter? I would of thought this cake came from a Paula Deen recipe, but it didn't.  The house smelled just wonderful while this was baking.  There was so much flavor to it, especially the glaze. And even now when I take the lid of the cake plate I get that almond scent in the air.  It won't last long in my house.
 
 
 

Butter Almond Pound Cake

Ingredients

 

3 cups (12 oz) cake flour, more for dusting (do not substitute)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2-1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2-1/2 cups granulated sugar
6 large eggs, room temperature
1 Tablespoon pure almond extract
1 cup whole milk (do not substitute), room temperature

Almond Glaze:

2 cups confectioners' sugar
2 Tablespoons milk
1 Tablespoon almond extract
1/3 cup slivered almonds for garnish
 
 

Directions

In a large bowl, whisk together cake flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
 
Add butter and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer. Cream until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time and almond extract. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again for 30 seconds. Add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with milk and ending with flour. Mix until just combined. Do not over mix.
 
Add batter to a one-piece tube pan* (16-18 cup capacity) that has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray and dusted with cake flour.(I did not have a one piece tube pan, so I had to use my standard two piece, extra coating of cooking spray)

 Bake in a 325 degree F oven that has NOT been pre-heated. This will give you a loftier cake and a nicer crust. (Do not open the oven door). Bake for 70-80 minutes or until a toothpick comes out the center clean.
 
Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes and then turn out on the rack and turn right side up. Let cool for three hours.
 
Mix together all ingredients for the glaze and pour over the top. Sprinkle with almonds before glaze is dry.
 
 
* Tip - When adding batter to a tube pan you have to be careful around the hole in the middle.  Our tip is to cover the hole with a Tupperware sippy cup.  Once the batter is in the pan, carefully putt the cup off.  And yes, the sippy cups are left over from when my children were little.  Great cups that we could never get rid of.  


Don't you see the butter oozing out of this? 


 
From the Noble Pig Website - one of my favorite blogs!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Apple Cranberry Crisp



Looking through my past post I discovered a fall favorite that we made for our daughter last year when she was home on a break. Now is the perfect time to pull this recipe out again and enjoy while Apples and Cranberries are in season.  Whip up some fresh whipped cream and enjoy as the fall season approaches. 

So Hubby, if you are reading this post, can you make this again?
 
 
For the topping
5-3/4 oz. (1-1/4 cups) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 Tbs. granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. table salt
 1/4 lb. (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 oz. (3/4 cup) pecans, coarsely chopped
For the filling
3 lb. apples (4 to 5 medium-large), such as Braeburn, Gala, Rome, or Honeycrisp
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 lb. (2-1/4 cups) fresh cranberries
1 tsp. finely grated orange zest
1 Tbs. unsalted butter
3 Tbs. fresh orange juice
Pinch table salt
1 cup granulated sugar

 

Topping Directions

Combine the flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl. Rub in the butter with your fingertips until it's well blended and the mixture is clumpy but still a bit crumbly (it should hold together if you pinch it). Mix in the pecans. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Assemble and bake the crisp

Heat the oven to 375°F. Butter the sides only of a 9-inch-square baking pan.

Peel, quarter, and core the apples. Cut each apple quarter crosswise into 3/4-inch-thick slices. Put them in a large bowl, sprinkle on the cinnamon, and toss until evenly coated. Combine the cranberries and orange zest in a food processor and pulse until the cranberries are finely chopped, scraping down the sides with a rubber spatula as needed.



Add the cranberries to the apples and toss to combine. Put the butter, orange juice, and salt in a small microwaveable dish or a small pan. Heat in the microwave or over medium-low heat until the butter melts, about 1 minute. Swirl to blend and pour the mixture over the apples. Toss to coat. Add the sugar and toss to coat again. Pour the apple mixture into the prepared pan and spread it evenly. Sprinkle the topping evenly on top of the apples.



Line a heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet with foil. Set the pan on the sheet and bake until the juices are bubbling on the sides, the top is golden brown, crisp, and hard, and the apples in the center are tender when pierced with a fork, 60 to 70 minutes (rotate the pan for even browning, if necessary). If the top starts to get too brown after 45 minutes, cover it loosely with aluminum foil. Let cool on a rack for at least 30 minutes to let the juices thicken. Serve warm.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Spicy Shrimp and Garlic

 
Summer was coming to an end for us and we wanted to savor our last night with our daughter before we took her back to school. Our little guy, who really isn't so little, was spending the night at a friends house because there  would be no room in the car for him on our college drop off trip.  Plus, he really didn't want to take the 2 1/2 hour trip down and then the 2 1/2 hours trip back.  

So our last Saturday night with our daughter I made this great shrimp and pasta dish that had such great flavor.  On top of that I made her cookies to take bake to school and homemade chocolate chip ice cream!  This recipe is definitely a keeper and one that our son will love as well.  

Spicy Parmesan Shrimp Pasta

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup olive oil 
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese 
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar 
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce 
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more, to taste 
  • 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined 
  • 8 ounces penne 
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste 
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced

Instructions

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together olive oil, Parmesan, garlic, brown sugar, soy sauce and red pepper flakes. In a gallon size Ziploc bag or large bowl, combine shrimp and olive oil mixture; marinate for at least 30 minutes to overnight, turning the bag occasionally. 
  • In large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions; drain well. 
  • Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add shrimp and sauce mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, until pink, about 2 minutes. Stir in pasta and gently toss to combine; season with salt and pepper, to taste. 
  • Serve immediately, garnished with Parmesan and green onions, if desired.


Adapted from Damn Delicious and my Pinterest page for Lenten favorites

So post dinner we packed the car to the brim and then enjoyed a fire at the pit.  It was an early morning with getting ready to leave, going to mass and hitting the road by 9 a.m.  But, we made it.  She is back at school and we are back to a table for 3 at dinner.
Can you find the college Sophmore in there?

Look how happy we are!  But we miss her too.