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


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


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 


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 


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


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.