Florentine Shells

18 uncooked jumbo pasta shells
1 container part skim ricotta cheese
1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed dry
2 cups shredded mozzarella
3/4 cup half and half, divided
1/4 cup parmesan
1 garlic clove
dried basil
oregano
salt
1 jar spaghetti sauce

Preheat oven to 350. Cook pasta shells according to package directions; drain.

Combine ricotta cheese, spinach, 1 1/2 cups of mozarella, 1/4 cup half and half, and parmesan. Add seasoning and garlic, mix well.

Mix spaghetti sauce and remaining half and half. Spread half of sauce over the bottom of the pan. Fill the pan with shells filled with cheese mixture. Cover with the rest of the sauce.

Bake, uncovered, 40 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Manicotti Primavera

I love this stuff. It is a lot like the stuffed shells.

8 uncooked manicotti
4 ounces mushrooms, chopped (1 1/4 cups)
2 medium carrots, shredded (1 cup)
1 medium zuchini, shredded (1 cup)
olive oil
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 1/2 tsps italian seasoning
salt
2/3 cup parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 container ricotta cheese
1 jar spaghetti sauce

Preheat oven to 350. Spray 9x13 with non-stick spray. Cook manicotti according to package directions. Rinse with cold water.

Sautee vegetables with oil, garlic, and salt to taste. Cook until heated through.
Combine parmesan, mozzarella, and ricotta with vegetables.

Spread 1 cup of spaghetti sauce over the bottom of the 9x13 pan. Fill manicotti shells with cheese mixture. Place shells over sauce. Cover with remaining sauce.
Bake for 30-35 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

Yields 4 servings

Grandma Tomazin's Peanut Butter Cups

This brings memories of a Saturday morning in the spring in my tiny kitchen. I don't know how many chocolate covered peanut butter eggs we made that day, but I know we ate them for at least a couple of weeks.
They are the best PB cups ever!

2 cups Graham Crackers- crushed
1 1/2 cups peanut butter (chunky or creamy)
4 cups powdered sugar
3 sticks of margarine

mix together

Melt dipping chocolate and brush in to your candy mold. Fill in with peanut butter mixture, top with chocolate to seal it all off.

Ahhhh! Memories!

Cranberry Chicken

I love, love, love the combination of sweet and sour!  This is such a simple recipe, and it tastes amazing -- I serve it with white rice and a vegetable.

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I usually cut it up into chunks rather than leave it whole)
1 can of cranberry sauce (whole berry or not -- whichever you prefer)
1 packet dry onion soup mix
1/2 c. French dressing
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. black pepper

Arrange chicken in a baking dish coated with cooking spray. Mix together remaining ingredients and pour over chicken. Cover and bake at 325 for 45 minutes to an hour, or until chicken is cooked through.

This can be frozen, uncooked, for up to 3 months.

Lemon Icebox Pie

icebox pieDavid was asking me about this traditional Southern pie so we had to give it a go. It was cool, creamy and refreshing. Garnish with a slice of lemon before serving if you want to be fancy or just enjoy it straight out of the fridge topped with whipped cream and with a tall glass of ice cold milk. It is essential that you pronounce the “pie” more like “paah” for an authentic Southern dining experience. (This particular version comes from Emeril Lagasse).

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature
1 (14-ounce) can condensed milk
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoons lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 prepared graham cracker crust

Combine the cream cheese, milk, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla in a large bowl. Mix on medium speed until smooth. Pour into the pie crust. Refrigerate overnight before enjoying.

Graham Cracker Crust

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup melted butter

Mix all together and press firmly into a 9 inch pie plate. No need to bake.

Outrageous Chocolate Chip Cookie


Can someone please try these for me? My neighbor gave me this recipe and told me that they are fantastic. It has been three weeks since I have had any sugar and I would really like to not fall off the wagon. I don't think I could be strong with these!

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 cup flour
1/2 cup oatmeal
6 ounces chocolate chips
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Beat sugars, peanut butter, vanilla and egg until creamy. Add dry ingredients, then chocolate chips.
Drop by rounded TBSP about 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake 10-12 minutes. After cooking 1 minute, remove and put unto a wire rack.

If you don't like these, feel free to tell me. :) The recipe isn't mine. They do sound fantastic!

Cheese Stuffed Peaches with Caramel Sauce

This was my absolute favorite dessert as a kid.

1 quart home canned peach halves
1 3-ounce package cream cheese
1/4 cup chopped pecans

Drain peach halves. Mix cream cheese until softened and form into about 10 balls. Roll balls in chopped pecans and place in the hollows of the peach halves. Chill. When ready to serve, cover with warm caramel sauce.

Caramel Sauce

3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup white corn syrup
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon margarine
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Mix and cook, stirring constantly over medium heat to jelly stage (200 degrees). Remove from heat. Add margarine and vanilla.

This is fantastic on ice cream as well. I could sit and eat the whole jar with a spoon.

*We made these with almonds since David is allergic to pecans. I just toasted them for a couple of minutes in the microwave (stirring after a minute then checking every 30 seconds) before chopping them.

Homemade Peach Ice Cream

Simply divine.

2 cups peaches, peeled and chopped
1 cup sugar
1 pint half and half
1 pint whipping cream

Combine all and freeze in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions. Spoon ice cream into containers and let ripen in the freezer for a couple of hours or enjoy immediately.

The finer you chop your peaches the more the flavor will be spread throughout the ice cream. I have put everything in the blender before but it’s also fun to have the little chunks of chopped peach throughout.

Spaghetti Pie

This is one of Sean's comfort foods. A.k.a. NOT low fat. His mom makes this for a lot of family functions.

This recipe makes a 9 x 13 pan. It's a lot of food and very tasty!

16 ounces of spaghetti- cooked in salted water and drained
6 TBSP of melted butter
1 cup of Parmesan
6 beaten eggs
1 small container of cottage cheese
1 lb of ground beef, browned (Sadie likes spaghetti and meatball pie, so I cut about 10-12 frozen meatballs in half and use those)
1 jar of spaghetti sauce
1 cup of shredded mozzarella

Mix the spaghetti noodles, butter, parmesan cheese, and eggs. Spread evenly over the bottom of a greased 9x13 pan. This will be the "crust" of your pie. Cover the crust with cottage cheese. Top the cheese with your ground beef or meatballs. Cover evenly with spaghetti sauce.

Bake uncovered at 350 for about 35 to 40 minutes, or hot and bubbly. Top with 1 cup of mozzarella cheese and bake until cheese is melted. I like to put it under the broiler and let it brown a bit.

Let sit for about 5 to 10 minutes before serving so it can set up.

French Toast Bundt

In my mind, this is a fancier, tastier version of Monkey Bread. :)

12 Rhodes dinner rolls, thawed but still cold
2 eggs
1/3 c. liquid hazelnut coffee creamer
1/4 c. maple/pancake syrup
3 Tbsp. butter, melted
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 Tbsp. cinnamon
1/2 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ginger

Additional syrup and powdered sugar

Cut rolls in fourths.  Mix other ingredients in a bowl.  Dip rolls in mixture and place in bundt pan sprayed with non-stick spray.  Pour remaining mixture over rolls.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until rolls reach the top of the pan.

Remove wrap and bake at 350 for 35 minutes.  Invert onto a serving platter.  Slice and serve with syrup and powdered sugar.

Asian Beef and Noodles

This recipe is from a weight watchers cookbook. The recipe only yields two- 1 cup- servings, so you will need to change it accordingly. :)

1 (8-ounce) rib-eye steak
1 tsp dark sesame oil, divided
1 cup sliced green onion
2 cups packaged cabbage and carrot coleslaw
2 packages beef flavored ramen noodle
1 1/2 cups water
1 TBSP soy sauce

Trim fat from steak and cut diagonally across grain in to thin slices. Heat 1/2 tsp sesame oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Add steak and green onions. stir fry 1 minute. Remove from skillet and keep warm.
Heat remaining oil in skillet over medium high heat. Add slaw, stir fry for 30 seconds. Remove from heat and keep warm.

Remove noodles from packages. Reserve one seasoning packet for another use. Add water and remaining seasoning packet to skillet and bring to a boil. Break noodles in half; add noodles to water mixture. Cook noodles 2 minutes or until most of liquid has been absorbed, stirring frequently. Stir in steak mixture and, slaw, soy sauce; cook until thoroughly heated.

Fresh Peach Pie

This is my favorite summer pie. Actually it's right up there with my all time favorites.

Baked pie shell
1 cup fresh peaches, sliced
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon cornstarch
2 cups cold water
1/3 cup white corn syrup
1 3-ounce package peach gelatin
Red and yellow food coloring, optional

Wash and peel peaches* and slice. Combine remaining ingredients. Cook over medium heat until mixture is smooth and thick, stirring constantly. Cool a little. Place fresh peaches in bottom of baked pie shell. Pour cooked mixture on top. Refrigerate. Top with whipped cream.

You can also make fresh strawberry pie the same way by substituting strawberries for the peaches and strawberry gelatin for the peach gelatin.

*I peel the peaches by putting each one into boiling water for about 30 seconds and then running it under cold water. The peels slip right off that way.

Peach Crunch

I got this recipe from my mother-in-law. It’s a Dunn family favorite!

2 quarts sliced peaces with out juice (you could also use fresh sliced and sugared peaches)
2 teaspoons tapioca
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 eggs
1/2 cup melted butter or salad oil
cinnamon

Grease a 9x13 baking dish or 2 8x8 baking dishes. Put peaches in dish and sprinkle with the tapioca. In a bowl combine the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Add the eggs and stir with a fork until combined. Sprinkle mixture over peaches in the dish. Drizzle butter or oil over the top. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes.

Non-traditional "Quiche"


Another egg and cheese recipe for you, Jill! :) This is actually two recipes in one, so choose to use either all the ingredients outside of parenthesis, or all the ingredients inside the parenthesis. Confused yet? :)

1 box chicken-flavored Rice-a-Roni, prepared according to directions
To this add a handful of cheddar (mozzarella) cheese, and press into a 9" pie plate.

On top of the "crust," layer the following:
10 oz. cooked broccoli (spinach, thawed and drained)
2 c. cooked chicken (1 lb. of bacon, fried, drained, and crumbled)
Handful of cheddar (mozzarella)

Beat together:
3 oz. milk
3 eggs

Pour over ingredients in crust and top with seasoned breadcrumbs. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 375.

I usually make the broccoli/chicken/cheddar version, and have included the original variations, but I think I would probably swap swiss for the mozzarella if making the spinach/bacon version. Just a personal preference!

Traditional Quiche Lorraine

1 pie crust
8 oz. bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and fried until crisp
2 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks
1 c. whole milk (I use whatever I have on hand, usually 1%)
1 c. heavy cream
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground pepper
4 oz. Gruyere cheese, grated (about 1 cup)
Pinch of nutmeg (I usually omit this)

Heat the oven to 375.  Follow the directions for partially baking the pie shell until light golden brown.  Remove from oven, but do not turn off the oven.

Whisk all ingredients except bacon and cheese together in a medium bowl.  Spread the cheese and bacon evenly over the bottom of the warm pie shell and set the shell on the oven rack.  Pour custard mixture into the pie shell (it should come to about 1/2 inch below the rim of the crust).  Bake until light golden brown, a knife blade inserted about 1 inch from the edge comes out clean, and the center feels set but soft like gelatin, 32-35 minutes (I usually err on the side of caution and bake it for a few minutes longer than this).  Transfer the quiche to a rack to cool.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Note:  I cannot emphasize enough the need to make sure you take the time to let this cool.  I prefer my quiche at room temperature anyway, and it makes it so much neater to slice.  Also, if my family is not going to be eating this, I will add baby spinach and fresh sliced mushrooms. :)

Melissa D'Arabian Pie Crust

Pie Crust:

1 cup butter (2 sticks), cubed and chilled
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
8 to 10 tablespoons ice water
Put the butter, flour, and salt in the food processor, and pulse lightly just until the mixture resembles wet sand. Add the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing briefly after each spoonful of water. Keep adding water until the dough just begins to gather into larger clumps. Transfer equal amounts of the dough into 2 resealable plastic bags and pat each into a disk. Let rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Remove 1 of the disks from the bag to a flour coated surface. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out to a 10-inch round. Gently fit the rolled dough into a 9-inch pie pan, and refrigerate while you prepare the torte ingredients.

Yield: 2 (9-inch) pie crusts

Potato Bacon Torte

I made this last night for dinner. I saw Melissa D'Arabian make this on her new show on Food Network. My kids liked it, and Bethanie doesn't like potatoes. I will post her FABULOUS pie crust recipe separately.
I did use whole milk instead of cream, because I had some and it sounded a TINY bit better for us. I didn't have Gruyere cheese, so I just put what I had with it. I also added a few slices on onion. YUM!

Ingredients
4 strips bacon
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 Pie Crusts, recipe follows
3 medium baking potatoes, peeled
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup grated Gruyere cheese
1 egg yolk, whisked with a splash of water
Directions
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon until just crispy. Drain on paper towel lined plate and set aside. Crumble the bacon when cool to the touch.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat the thyme and cream over low heat to a bare simmer. Turn off the heat and let steep for about 5 minutes. Remove the thyme sprigs.

Remove the pie pan from the refrigerator. Slice the potatoes in half lengthwise and then finely slice the potatoes. Working in circles, arrange the potato slices in the pie crust, stopping to season each layer with salt, pepper, and about 1/4 of the crumbled bacon. Continue layering until the pie pan is nearly full. Top with an even layer of the cheese and gently pour cream around and over the entire pie, allowing it to seep down between the potato slices. (You may not use all the cream.)

Roll out the remaining disk of refrigerated dough. Cover the pie with the dough and crimp the edges closed. Brush the top and edges of the crust with egg wash. Make a few slits in the center of the top crust, for the steam to escape, and put the pie pan on a baking sheet. Bake the torte until the crust is browned and crispy and the potatoes are cooked through, about 50 to 60 minutes. If the crust edges get too brown, cover them with some strips of aluminum foil. Remove the pie from the oven and let rest at least 15 minutes before cutting into wedges and serving.


This served our family with a few sides for dinner. I think next time I might just make a second pie, because people would have eaten more if we had it! This would be great for a lunch with friends.

Aunt Nettie’s Squash Casserole

I talked to my mom on the phone today and she said she has yellow squash from her garden coming out her ears so I am posting this for her.

2 ½ to 3 pounds yellow squash
1 medium onion, diced
8 ounces Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned Stuffing Mix (blue bag)--I used a 6 oz. package and it was more than enough
16 ounces sour cream (I would use a little less)
1 can cream of chicken soup
3 to 4 cups cheddar cheese, grated, divided
Salt to taste

Cook squash and onions, drain very well. In a mixing bowl, mix soup, sour cream, all but ½ cup of the cheese and 6 ounces of the stuffing mix. Fold in cooked squash mixture. Put a little of the stuffing on the bottom of a greased 9x13 casserole dish. Spread with squash mixture. Top with reserved ½ cup of cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes (less if you don't like your cheese well done).

Francine’s Brunch

I realize this isn’t a recipe. But it’s a menu and that kind of fits in with the theme of this blog, right? I found this when I was cleaning out my recipe box and I thought it would be fun to take a little trip down memory lane. I don’t know exactly what it says—I can figure out a bit of it, but not all—since I don’t speak French (Danielle, maybe you or Che could translate for us).
“Champagne” Brunch
Salade de Fruit (Fruit Salad)
Oeuf de Poule Culinaire (Eggs)
Quiche Varieta (Variety of Quiche)
Pomme et Saucisse (Apples with Sausage)
Muffin au Myrtille (Blueberry Muffins)
Muffin au Mais (Corn Muffins)
Confiture au Fraise (Strawberry Jam)
Confiture au Myrtille (Blueberry Jam)
Buerre (Butter)
Jus de Fruit (Fruit Juice)
Jue d’Orange de Glace (Orange Juice on Ice?)
brunch 008

Holiday Morning French Toast

All right. So I realize that there really aren’t any big holidays coming up soon. Who makes a special breakfast for Labor Day? Not me. I sleep in that day. Anyway, this is the only baked French toast recipe I could find in my recipe box. There isn't any syrup baked in but the brown sugar, butter, etc. would make it kind of syrupy. It’s probably not the one you were thinking of Amy, but this one is for you my dear.

1 cup brown sugar
½ cup butter, melted
3 tsp cinnamon (divided)
3 tart apples, peeled and thinly sliced
½ cup dried cranberries or raisins
1 loaf French bread,cut into 1 inch slices
6 eggs
1 ½ cups milk
1 Tbsp vanilla

Combine brown sugar, butter and 1 teaspoon cinnamon in a 9x13 baking dish. Add apples and cranberries; toss to coat well. Spread apple mixture evenly over bottom of baking dish. Arrange slices of bread on top.

Mix eggs, milk and vanilla and remaining 2 teaspoons cinnamon until well blended. Pour mixture over bread, soaking completely. Cover and refrigerate 4 to 24 hours.

Bake, covered with aluminum foil, in preheated 375 degree oven for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake 5 minutes. Remove from oven; let stand 5 minutes. Serve warm.

Calico Beans

I made these again for the first time in a few years for a picnic last night.  I had forgotten how tasty they were/are!

1 lb. ground beef
1 onion, diced
3 small cans pork and beans
2 small cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 small can butter beans or cannellini beans (pretty much any white bean can be used), drained and rinsed
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. ketchup
2 Tbl. vinegar
2 tsp. mustard
2 tsp. salt

Cook beef and onion over medium heat until no pink remains;  drain.  Combine with the rest of the ingredients and place in a 9x13 dish.  Cover and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  Remove cover and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

"Oreo Balls"

A simple recipe that always gets results!

1 package of Oreos finely crushed (You can use the flavored ones to change things up.)
8 ounce package of cream cheese, softened

Combine two ingredients very well. I throw it all in my food processor.
Using a tsp, scoop generously and form in to balls. Freeze until firm.

Dip in dipping chocolate. This makes a lot!
For a professional look, take some white dipping chocolate and make a little design on the top of the truffle.
These freeze well.

Tomazin's Sloppy Joes

This is a recipe from my mother in law's family. Much better than those seasoning packets in the store and uses ingredients you usually have in your cupboards.

2 lbs ground hamburger or meat
1 medium onion
1/2 green pepper (I usually throw in the whole thing. I like peppers!)

Brown meat, onion, and green pepper together. Add sauce and let simmer for a while or throw in a crockpot and eat it later.

Sauce:
1 TBSP mustard
1 cup ketchup
2 TBSP vinegar
1 TBSP sugar (I usually omit this and no one notices)
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
pepper to taste
1/8 tsp paprika

The longer this cooks, the better. This can be frozen.
Serve on rolls or buns.

Caramel Pa-Corn



Yes, it is popcorn. This recipe, given to me by my mother, has been called caramel pa-corn for a long time and that is just what it is. :)

Caramel recipe:
Melt one stick of butter, 2 cups of packed brown sugar, and 1 cup of corn syrup in a pan over medium heat.
Bring it to a boil, stirring constantly. Let it boil for five minutes. (Just keep stirring, just keep stirring- done in Dori voice)
Add one can of sweetened condensed milk.
Leave on heat for one more minute while continuing to stir.
Remove from heat and stir in 1 tsp of vanilla.

Pour over popped popcorn. Some times we use a couple of bags of microwave butter popcorn. Most of the time we use a few batches of air popped popcorn.
Coat generously. :D
Still to this day I have never had better caramel popcorn. It is even better the second day.

Garbage Plates

 
I don't know why on earth someone put ketchup on this, but if you are going with anything other than the hot sauce, only mustard and onions are acceptable. :)
2 ground beef patties, coooked
2 slices white American cheese
Hashbrowns (as an alternative, I would recommend Ore-Ida's Extra Crispy Tater Tots), fried in a bit of oil
Simple macaroni salad (elbows cooked al dente, rinsed in cool water -- add finely diced onion, celery, shaved carrot, mayo, and a splash of vinegar)
Meat Sauce
1 - medium onion, chopped
1 - clove garlic, minced
1 - tbsp. oil
1 - lb. triple-ground beef
1 - cup H2O
1 - can tomato paste
1/2 - tbsp. brown sugar (optional)
1 - tsp. ground black pepper
3/4 - tsp. cayenne pepper
1 - tsp. chili powder
1 1/2 - tsp. paprika
1/2 - tsp. ground cumin
1/2 - tsp. allspice
1/4 - tsp. cinnamon
1/2 - tsp. powdered cloves
1 - tsp. salt (to taste)

In large skillet, fry chopped onion and garlic in oil until soft. Add meat, stirring constantly with fork to keep its texture fine. Once the meat browns, add water and tomato paste. Simmer 10 minutes. Add sugar and spices. Simmer 30 minutes, adding water ,if necessary, to keep it moist but not soupy.

Fill half of your finest Chinet plate with mac salad and the other half with hash browns.  Top with cheeseburgers, liberal amounts of meat sauce, diced onions, and mustard.  Serve with slightly stale Italian bread and butter. :)

Easy Sugar Cookies



Found this recipe here sometime last week, and being the cookieholic that I am, was forced to try them out. They are delicious on their own, but Jillian didn't think any harm would be done if you frosted them, either. :)


2 3/4 C all-purpose flour
1 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
1 cup butter, SOFTENED
1 1/2 C white sugar
1 egg
1 t vanilla extract

Preheat to 375 degrees. In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla. Gradually blend in the dry ingredients. Roll rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into balls, and place onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 8-10 minutes, or until golden (it was closer to 13 minutes in my oven). Let stand on cookie sheet two minutes before removing to cool on wire racks.


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Eggplant Parmesan


I love eating this. This is the first meal I ate as a married woman. :D

At least three hours before preparing dinner, cut one eggplant in half and store sliced side down on a couple of paper towels or a cooling rack. Eggplant will drain, so put towels under rack if you use that.
*This is a very important step. If you do not let it drain than the eggplant will taste bitter.

After the eggplant drains, slice 1/2 inch thick circles. I like to cut those in to smaller pieces so they are easier to eat and to pan fry. Set aside.

Dredge the eggplant using three shallow dishes.

Dish #1- flour- coat eggplant evenly

Dish #2- 2 to 3 eggs with a tablespoon of milk, beaten together

Dish #3- 1 cup of Italian bread crumbs mixed with 1/2 cup Parmesan


Heat about 1/3 cup of olive oil in a large pan on the stove on medium heat until oil is thin and hot. (You might have to add more oil later on as you use it up. It should barely cover the bottom of the pan.)

Heat oven to about 275.

When oil is hot, pan fry eggplant until the breading has browned, turn over and do other side.

Place on sheet pan covered in cooking spray and keep in oven until you are ready to eat.

Serve with pasta and top with marinara. Sprinkle with mozzarella.

Feeds about 6 people. :)

Southwest Chicken and Rice

This recipe was made of ingredients that I had on hand when I had a hungry family and hadn't been to the store in a while. :) The funny part of it is that my family now requests it regularly.

2 to 3 chicken breasts cut in to bite sized pieces or 2 cans chicken.
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
1 small can of enchilada sauce
1 to 2 cans of kidney or black beans, drained and rinsed.
2 cups of rice
1 to 2 cups of cheddar cheese
1 small can of diced tomatoes, drained (can omit if you don't have it)
3 cups of water

Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray. Spread the two cups of rice evenly over the bottom of the pan and cover with the 3 cups of water. Evenly distribute chicken over rice. Add enchilada sauce, soup, diced tomatoes, and beans. Top with cheese.
Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake at 375 for about an hour.
When you take it out it will look liquidy. Let is sit for about 10 minutes before serving.

*As a side note, I sometimes take out the enchilada sauce and beans and replace those items with about a cup of ranch dressing a a bag of frozen mixed veggies. Another easy dinner!

Creamsicle Cake

creamsicle cake I was thinking about it a couple of weeks ago and came to the conclusion that there must be a recipe for a Creamsicle Cake out there so I went searching. I found a good recipe and tweaked it ever so slightly (basically I whipped my own cream instead of using Cool Whip) and it is pretty dang yummy. It’s just a tad labor intensive (I know it’s nothing compared to what Amy does but I’m a little bit lazy when it comes to cake) but I’d say it’s worth the effort every once in awhile. ;)

1 yellow cake mix
1 envelope unsweetened orange kool-aid (drink mix)
2—3 oz. packages orange jell-o
1 small package instant vanilla pudding
1 cup milk
1 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix cake mix and kool-aid and bake cake according to package directions. Cool then poke holes all over cake with the handle of a wooden spoon.

Dissolve 1 package of the orange jell-o in 1 cup boiling water and stir in 1 cup cold water. Pour jell-o over entire cake and refrigerate for 3 or 4 hours.

When cake has absorbed the jell-o and is set, make the topping. Mix remaining package of jell-o, pudding and one cup milk until smooth. Set aside. Whip cream with sugar and vanilla until stiff peaks form (careful not to whip it into butter!). Gently fold pudding/jell-o mixture into the whipped cream. Spread on chilled cake and refrigerate until ready to serve.

You could pretty much use any flavor of jell-o you wanted. Raspberry and lime both sound good to me. Come to think of it you could probably use any flavor of cake you wanted too. How about chocolate cake with cherry jell-o and chocolate pudding for the topping or maybe white cake with raspberry jell-o and white chocolate pudding topping? The sky’s the limit!

Marmalade Soy Wings

I don't make these often since I'm the only one in my family who will eat them, but I love them!

3 lbs. whole chicken wings/wingettes
1 c. soy sauce
1 c. orange marmalade
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. pepper

If using whole wings, cut into three sections, discarding wing tips.  In a bowl, combine the soy sauce, marmalade, garlic, ginger and pepper.  Pour marinade into a large resealable plastic bag, reserving 1/2 c. in a separate bowl for basting.  Add wing sections;  seal bag and toss to coat evenly.  Refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.

Drain and discard marinade.  Place chicken wings on a greased 15x10 baking sheet (I usually cover the sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray for easier clean-up).  Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 15 minutes.

Baste with marinade;  bake 15 minutes longer.  Turn wings and baste;  bake 15 minutes longer.  Baste with remaining marinade and bake 10-20 minutes more or until chicken juices run clear and meat comes off the bone easily.

Special Meatballs

I'm not sure why we called these "Special Meatballs," but they are tas-TY!  It's an interesting combination of things, but it works!

Uncooked meatballs (if you use cooked, obviously decrease baking time by about half)
1 can whole cranberry sauce
1 c. sauerkraut, drained
1 bottle of chili sauce, plus a chili sauce bottle full of water
3/4 c. brown sugar

Place meatballs in a baking dish.  Mix remaining ingredients and pour over meatballs.  Bake at 350 for 45 minutes covered, and half an hour uncovered, or until meatballs are cooked through.

The Best Meatball Recipe Ever

I found this recipe a couple of years ago, and I will never use another recipe again. SO delicious!

1/3 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup yellow onion, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley, roughly chopped
1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 lb ground pork
1/2 lb ground veal
2 eggs
1/4 cup parmesan or romano cheese, grated
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Place the chicken stock, onion, garlic, and parsley in a blender or food processor and puree. In a large bowl, combine the pureed stock mix, meat, bread crumbs, egg, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, red pepper flakes, and salt. Combine with hands until mixture is uniform, do not overmix. Put a little olive oil on your hands and form mixture into balls a little larger than golf balls.
At this point, you can brown the meatballs in a skillet with a drizzle of olive oil until they are no longer pink in the middle (about 10 minutes or so). If I am serving this with sauce, I bring the sauce to a boil, drop the uncooked meatballs in, and turn the sauce down to simmer. After about 15 minutes, stir the sauce and meatballs (if you do stir too soon, the meatballs will fall apart), and allow to continue cooking for another 10-15 minutes. Serve over hot pasta or in hoagie rolls with mozzarella cheese.


My Favorite Buttercream Recipe

This is what I ice my cakes with. People love the flavor!

2 sticks salted butter
1 cup of shortening (I use hi-ratio shortening... it must be purchased at a specialty store or online)
about 2 to 3 tablespoons of milk
2 lbs of powdered sugar

Add additional milk if it is too thick

Easy!

Doctored Cake Mix

This isn't a hard recipe. I get tons of compliments on it. I got it from my decorating teacher. I think it can also be found on some Duncan Hines boxes. :)

1 package of cake mix
1 package of instant pudding in a corresponding flavor
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup oil
1 cup sour cream
4 eggs

Beat exactly 2 minutes. If you beat it 5 seconds longer, it will fall! Take my word for it.
If I am doing a cake for an order, than I sift the cake mix and the pudding together so the batter isn't lumpy.

It is thicker than the regular batter, so it will take some additional baking time. Don't ask me how long, I just bake until it is done. :D

Peanut Butter Mousse

This makes a TON!! I use some of it as a cake filling and save the rest. Not to worry- it is great on a spoon. It is totally and completely evil.


1 18-ounce jar creamy peanut butter (2 cups)
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
2 cups chilled whipping cream

Bring cream cheese to room temp.
Using electric mixer, beat peanut butter and cream cheese in large bowl to blend. Add powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons vanilla extract and beat until well blended. Using clean dry beaters, beat 2 cups whipping cream in medium bowl until stiff peaks form; fold into peanut butter mixture in 4 additions.

French Breakfast Puffs

This is a recipe that I will forever associate with my grandma;  she was by no means a great cook/baker, but these always came out delicious.  Think snickerdoodle in muffin form...yum. :)

3/4 c. milk
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1 egg
2 c. flour
1/3 c. sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease muffin tin.  Beat milk, oil, and egg.  Stire in flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt, just until batter is moistened.  Bake 18-20 minutes, or until very lightly browned on top.  Roll hot muffins in 1/2 c. melted butter, then in a mixture of 1/2 c. sugar and 1 tsp. cinnamon.  Makes 12 smallish muffins -- I usually double the recipe to make 18 generous sized ones.

Classic Bran Muffins

Most bran muffin recipes that I have tried are dry and gross -- these are delicious!

1 1/2 cups wheat bran
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup raisins (most times I leave these out)
 
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease muffin cups or line with paper muffin liners.  Mix together wheat bran and buttermilk; let stand for 10 minutes.  Beat together oil, egg, sugar and vanilla and add to buttermilk/bran mixture. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir flour mixture into buttermilk mixture, until just blended. Fold in raisins and spoon batter into prepared muffin tins.  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool and enjoy!

Hawaiian Haystacks

I've heard these called a couple of different names but in our family we call them Hawaiian Haystacks. These are delicious, filling and fun to eat and make.

Rice, cooked (enough for your family)
Chicken gravy (recipe here)

Plate your rice and cover with gravy. Add any or all of the following according to your personal preference:
chow mein noodles
pineapple tidbits, drained
mandarine oranges, drained
shredded coconut
slivered almonds
green onions, chopped
celery, chopped
green pepper, chopped
cheddar cheese, shredded
frozen green peas, rinsed
alfalfa sprouts
carrots, shredded
water chestnuts

I usually just have little dishes of the individual ingredients on the table and let my kids make them how they want to.

Taco Bake

I got this recipe from the Kraft Foods magazine. It's just another simple to fix casserole. This freezes well.

1 package macaroni and cheese dinner
1 pound ground beef
1 package taco seasoning mix
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1 cup salsa

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare dinner according to package directions. While macaroni is cooking, brown meat and drain fat. Add taco seasoning mix and water to the beef and simmer. When macaroni and cheese is prepared, stir in beef, sour cream and half the cheese. Pour into greased 9x13" dish. Top with salsa (I usually just stir this in with the other stuff). Bake uncovered for 20 minutes then add remaining cheese and bake until cheese is melted.

Mac Casserole

This recipe comes from a friend here in Auburn, they call it "Matt Casserole" after her son who loves this dish. Since we don't have a Matt in our family it has just become "Mac Casserole" around here. This freezes well.

1 pound hamburger, browned
4 cups cooked shell macaroni
1 can tomato soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 clove garlic, crushed or 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

Mix all together except 1/2 cup of the cheese. Put in a casserole dish. Sprinkle with reserved cheese. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or cover with foil and freeze.

Variation: Pizza Mac
Substitute a package pepperoni for the browned hamburger.

Chicken Gravy

We use this for the protein element when we have Hawaiian Haystacks. It's also just good on rice or noodles with a nice steamed vegetable or green salad on the side. This freezes well.

1/4 cup margarine or butter
1/4 cup flour
2 chicken bouillon cubes
2 cups milk
1 can cream of chicken soup
2-3 cups cooked chicken, chopped

Melt margarine in a sauce pan, remove from heat and stir in flour and the bouillon. Pour in 1/4 cup of the milk and whisk until completely incorporated. Slowly add the rest of the milk, whisking as you go to prevent lumps. Cook over medium heat until thick and bubbly. Stir in soup, then chicken. Cook a few more minutes until the meat is hot. Serve or freeze after adding the meat. To use after freezing either defrost in the fridge for a day or so then warm on the stove or in the microwave or put the frozen gravy into a saucepan and warm over low heat, stirring frequently until hot.

Thanksgiving Casserole

This is an easy family-friendly casserole. It originally had some boring name like "turkey casserole" but we call it "Thanksgiving Casserole" for obvious reasons. This freezes well.

2 boxes stuffing mix
1 can cream of chicken or mushroom soup
1 soup can full of milk
2-3 cups cooked chopped turkey (or chicken)

Mix stuffing as directed on box. Mix soup and milk until smooth and stir in meat. Spread 1/2 of the prepared stuffing on the bottom of an 8x8 dish. Pour soup mixture on top of stuffing in dish and then top with the remaining stuffing. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or 400 for 20 minutes. Serve with cranberry sauce.

To freeze: prepare casserole as directed but instead of baking immediately, cover with foil and freeze. When ready to eat, bake frozen casserole covered for 30 minutes at 350 degrees then uncover and continue to bake until heated through--probably about 30 more minutes.

Slush Punch

This is my absolute FAVORITE punch recipe.  It's also great to freeze in ice cube trays;  add a few cubes to a glass and pour pop over the top!

2 1/2 c. sugar
6 c. water
2 (3 oz.) pkgs. Jell-o (strawberry-banana and peach)
1 qt. orange juice
1 (46 oz.) can of pineapple juice
2/3 c. lemon juice
2 liter bottle of lemon-lime soda or ginger ale, chilled

Heat water and sugar to boiling and boil for 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and add Jell-o.  Add pineapple, orange, and lemon juices.  Put in 2, 1/2 gallon milk cartons and freeze (I usually use freezer bags and set them in a pan).  To serve, remove from freezer about 1/2 hour before serving.  Break up and add pop.  Use one milk carton per punch bowl with 1-liter of ginger ale (I find this punch to be just as tasty using 2 liters per milk carton, and then it stretches a bit further).  Stir just enough to mix.

Banana Split Cake

1 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs
1 1/4 c. sugar, divided
1/2 c. butter, melted
2 pkg. (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
1 can (20 oz.) crushed pineapple, drained
6 medium bananas, divided
2 c. cold milk
2 pkg. (4-serving size each) vanilla instant pudding
2 c. thawed Cool Whip
1 c. chopped walnuts or pecans

Mix crumbs, 1/4 c. sugar, and butter;  press onto bottom of foil-lined 13x9 inch pan.  Freeze 10 minutes.

Beat cream cheese and remaining 1 c. sugar in bowl with electric mixer until well blended.  Carefully spread cream cheese mixture over crust;  top with pineapple.  Slice 4 of the bananas; arrange over pineapple. 

Pour milk into large bowl.  Add dry pudding mixes.  Beat with wire whisk until well blended.  Stir in 1 c. whipped topping;  spread over banana layer in pan.  Top with remaining whipped topping;  sprinkle with nuts.  Refrigerate 5 hours.  Just before serving, slice remaining 2 bananas;  arrange over dessert.

Corn Chowder

6 ears corn
2 (15-oz.) cans whole kernal corn, drained
5 c. chicken broth
3 slices bacon, chopped fine (I tend to use a bit more than this)
1 onion, chopped
Salt and pepper
1 lb. potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 c. heavy cream
4 scallions, sliced thin

Cut kernals from ears of corn;  reserve kernals and cobs seperately.  Puree canned corn and 2 c. broth in blender until smooth.

Cook bacon in Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp.  Transfer bacon to paper-towel lined plate and reserve.  Cook onion, corn kernals, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper in bacon fat until vegetables are softened and golden brown, 6-8 minutes.

Add potatoes, corn puree, remaining broth, and reserved corn cobs to Dutch oven and bring to boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.  Discard cobs and stir in cream, scallions, and reserved bacon.  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve.  (Soup can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.)

Strawberry Spinach Salad

One of the recipes from my Pampered Chef days that I still refer to.  I'm the only one in my house who will eat it, but it is delicious!

Dressing:

1 lemon
2 Tbl. vinegar
1/3 c. sugar
1 Tbl. vegetable oil
1 tsp. poppy seeds

Salad:

1/4 c. sliced almonds, toasted
8 oz. strawberries
1/2 medium cucumber, sliced and cut in half
1/4 small red onion, sliced into thin wedges
1 pkg. (6 oz.) baby spinach

For dressing, zest lemon to measure 1/2 tsp. zest.  Juice lemon to measure 2 Tbl. juice.  Combine zest, juice, vinegar, sugar, oil, and poppy seeds.  Whisk until well blended.  Cover;  refrigerate until ready to use.

Hull strawberries and cut into quarters.  Slice cucumber, and then cut slices in half.  Slice onion into thin wedges.  Place spinach in a large serving bowl;  add strawberries, cucumber, and onion.  Whisk dressing;  pour over salad and gently toss.  Sprinkle with almonds.

Note:  this salad does not keep well overnight, so plan on making just what will be eaten within the same day.

Lemon-Cornmeal Cake


This tastes even better the next day!

2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. yellow cornmeal
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. each baking soda and salt
2 sticks (1 c.) unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 c. sugar
1 Tbsp. grated lemon zest
1/4 c. lemon juice
4 eggs
1 c. buttermilk or plain yogurt

Sugar glaze:

1 c. sugar
1/3 c. lemon juice

Heat oven to 325. You'll need a 10-cup tube pan or 12-cup Bundt (gotta love the Bundt!) pan coated with baking spray. In medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a large bowl beat butter, sugar, lemon zest and juice with mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time until blended. With mixer on low, alternately beat in flour mixture and buttermilk until batter is smooth. Scrape into prepared pan; level top with spatula.

Bake 55-65 minutes until a wooden pick inserted in cake comes out clean. Cool cake in pan on wire rack 5 minutes. Meanwhile, make the sugar glaze by whisking ingredients just until combined. Invert cake from pan onto rack over a baking sheet. Brush glaze all over hot cake until absorbed (sugar crystals will be evident). Cool completely. Transfer cake to a serving plate and cover. Let cake rest several hours, or overnight, before serving. Store cake covered at room temperature up to 4 days.

Aunt Laurie’s Brownie Cupcakes

I first had these at a picnic at my Aunt Laurie and Uncle Craig’s house in Washington. I love them because you can make them with one bowl, one wooden spoon, one measuring cup and one measuring spoon. Fewer dishes=more time to sit back, relax and enjoy a brownie.

4 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour

1 cup chopped nuts, if desired (I leave these out as my husband has a nut allergy but it doesn’t detract from the flavor at all)

Melt chocolate and butter in a large mixer bowl in microwave oven—approximately 1 minute. Add sugar and beat in eggs and vanilla. Add flour and nuts, if desired. Stir until blended. Spoon into paper lined muffin pans. Bake at 350 degrees until tops are crackly and look dry, about 20 minutes. Makes 1 1/2 dozen.

I have never had a bad review of these brownies.

Sauerkraut Casserole

Don’t be scared. This is a lot tastier than it’s name implies. I find that the sauerkraut is a lot less imposing than one might think. It has also been called “Yiddish Pie” or as the man at Ursula Fatke’s funeral called it, “Käse Bäckt”. That’s German for Cheese Bake. According to him it is a traditional German dish and he was pretty excited to eat some. It seems to be especially popular with teenagers for some reason. Even my kids who don’t like sauerkraut can be persuaded to eat it on occasion.

1 large can sauerkraut, thoroughly drained (I also rinse mine)
1 to 2 pounds pork sausage, thoroughly cooked,scrambled
Prepared instant mashed potatoes for 10 9 (substitute onion salt for regular salt in preparing)
1 pound Colby cheese, grated

In a 9x13 inch baking dish, spread sauerkraut evenly over bottom. Sprinkle sausage evenly over kraut. Spread mashed potatoes over sausage and sprinkle all with cheese. Bake at 350 degrees until thoroughly heated and cheese melts.

Easy Hamburger Soup

This is probably one of the easiest soups you will ever make. I love it because it tastes like it is packed full of vitamins and nutrients—full of vegetable-y goodness and tasty too.

1 pound hamburger
1 onion, chopped
1 (16 oz) can pork and beans
1 (15 oz) can mixed vegetables drained (like Veg-All)
1/2 (46 oz) can vegetable juice
1 (14 1/2 oz) can stewed tomatoes
Brown hamburger and onion together. Add remaining ingredients and heat thoroughly. Enjoy!

Zucchini Bread

I got this recipe from Emily Bylund a few years ago, and it really is one of the best recipes for zucchini bread that I have ever tried.

1 1/2 c flour
1 c sugar
2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1/4 t cinnamon (or ginger. . .or both)
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 c oil
1 1/2 c grated zucchini
1 t grated orange peel (optional)
1/2 c chopped walnuts (optional) -OR- 1/4 c sliced almonds

Mix dry ingredients. In a separate bowl mix the eggs, oil, zucchini, and orange peel. Combine. Add chopped walnuts if desired. Pour into buttered 9-inch loaf pan. (I prefer to skip the walnuts and sprinkle sliced almonds on top of the bread. They toast while baking and are the perfect touch!) Bake at a preheated oven at 375 degrees for about 50 minutes. Let cook 5 minutes in pan, and then turn out onto cooling rack.

Zucchini Sausage Casserole

Slowly but surely, zucchini season is arriving here in NY.  While I could eat steamed zucchini/summer squash with butter, salt, and pepper all summer long, sometimes you need to switch it up a bit...:)

1 lb. Italian sausage (patties or links cut out of the casing)
1/2 c. chopped onion
3 medium-sized zucchini, cut into 1/2" slices
1 can (15 oz.) seasoned tomato sauce (I use spaghetti sauce)
3 c. cooked rice
1 tsp. salt
1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

Cook sausage (breaking up with a spatula) and onions;  set aside in a bowl.  In the same pan, saute zucchini until translucent, making sure not to overcook.  Combine 1/2 of the tomato sauce with rice, sausage, and salt.  Place in a greased 9x13 pan.  Arrange zucchini on top, spread with remaining sauce, and sprinkle with cheese.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until heated through.