Monday, October 18, 2010

Dreamy, Creamy Chicken

Fast. Simple. And so good I forgot to take the picture before I had a few bites! The chicken is super moist and tender from finishing in the stock and the sauce is fabo! Thumbs up from Little Mouths, too. Big Mama loves the taste as well as the ease of cooking and time to prepare.

Creamy Onion and Chive Chicken Breasts

Four boneless chicken breasts
1/3 cup flour
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
2 cups or so “Stock in a Box” or homemade chicken stock
1 container Onion and Chive Soft Cream Cheese (light is ok if you can find it)

Flour chicken breast and brown in olive oil. Don’t cook all the way through. Deglaze pan with chicken stock and simmer chicken in stock until cooked through. Remove chicken from the pan and add the cream cheese. Whisk until smooth and melted into the stock. Reduce or add a little more stock to reach the desired consistency. I serve this simple little dish on nights I have to have dinner on the table in 20 mintues…and still have a few minutes to spare. I normally serve with rice, but it’s also good with mashed potatoes or egg noodles.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Double Orange Glazed Pork Chops

I had intended on grilling pork chops.  However, last night's steaks only got half way done before the grill tank fizzled out, so I needed a new plan.

They've been on sale for weeks and I am running out of ways the little mouths will still eat them. Their biggest complaint is that they are hard to chew, so I knew I needed to do something to keep them moist.  I had an orange that was somewhat past it's prime, some left over chicken stock from soup the other day and a half a jar of marmalade in the back of the fridge.  Necessity being the mother of invention, I looked in fridge and came up with this new recipe.  Thumbs up from Big Mama and Little Thumbs alike.  Yummy!

Once upon a time I had a recipe for this.  I think it was Paula Deen.  Maybe.  But I couldn't find it so I had to wing it.  Aren't they pretty??

Double Orange Glazed Pork Chops

4 boneless pork loin chops
Salt and Pepper
Olive Oil
1 large clove minced garlic
Juice of one orange
1/4 cup orange marmalade
2 glugs of boxed chicken stock (about a half a cup)
1-2 tablespoons real butter (I use unsalted)

Heat a saute pan on high and add olive oil.  Dry, salt and paper pork chops.  Throw them in the pan to brown, but not cook through.  3-4 minutes on each side.  Remove chops from pan.  Melt a tablespoon or butter or a little more oil in the pan and add the garlic.  Cook for about 30 seconds or so.  Watch closely so it doesn't burn.

Deglaze the pan with a couple of glugs of the chicken stock and add the orange juice.  Add the marmalade and whisk until it melts into the sauce.  Add the chops back into the pan with any accumulated juices on the plate and simmer for 10 or so minutes until cooked through, basting or turning the chops in the sauce several times.

Remove the chops again and reduce sauce to desired consistency.  Remove the sauce from the heat.  Finish it with 1 tablespoon butter (totally worth it and a minute amount of calories per serving) and serve.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

10 meals in 1 hour = :-) Mama

Life gets crazier and crazier and time shorter and shorter.  This is the mantra of Mama's everywhere, big or small.

This morning instead of slurping coffee in front of "Sunday Morning" as is one of my favorite things to do in all of the world, I got up and got moving. 

This week our local supermarket had a good deal on ground chuck, so I purchased about ten pounds, planning to of course, divide it and freeze it for later.  But then I remembered how I used to cook it first, so dinner was only ever minutes away...then I thought, why just freeze the "naked" ground beef?  Why not spend a couple of minutes now and safe them for when they really count, at the end of a really hectic day?

I browned onions, garlic and added a pound of sausage, two pounds of ground beef, two jars of sauce and various pureed veggies = Three Meals of Spaghetti and Meat Sauce

Three of the pounds of ground beef went into sloppy joes (Little Mouth Favorite)and another four pounds made taco meat that will some day be enchiladas, tacos or combined with other ingredients to make a casserole or Mexican Dip. 

These might not be the most "gourmet" of all the meals I've posted, but they are things the Little Mouths will eat with nary a complaint, are hot and satisfying and easy ways to sneak in those "veggies in disguise" and that makes them healthy. 

Having them done ahead of time makes coming home a welcome end to a hectic day, and not just an extension of it. 

Monday, August 2, 2010

Back to our regularly scheduled programing...

Our summer vacation was lovely!  We went to Tybee Island, Georgia where all our goal, but one, were met.  I am tan.  I am rested.  Everyone had a wonderful time.  We rented a house so there was room to spread out.  I took lots of books and didn't read them because I was too busy napping.  I had planned on doing a lot of cooking but the kitchen left a lot to be desired. 

I knew I loved by Lemon Zester, but I didn't realize how much until I had to go without it.  I mean, this kitchen didn't even have a whisk!  So instead, we cooked simply and went out.

We ate at a couple fabulous restraunts including Paula Deen's "The Lady and Son's" and her brother Bubba's "Uncle Bubba's Oyster House"

I have a stack of new cookbooks, but this week everyone in the household got to pick their favorite, and tonight Betty picked shrimp and pasta and left the method of preparation up to me.  I have done a couple of shrimp and pasta dishes, but they've been garlic and lemon sauces, and pretty tart for the kids.  Tonight I took the favors down a notch and produced a winner.  Thumbs up from Big Mama and the Little Mouths and Picky Icky Little Mouth ate a whole bowl full, sans shrimp, but I was picking my battles.  And I got extra shrimp that way.

Shrimp and Pasta in Cream Sauce

1 12oz box of Ronzoni Garden Delight (A serving of veggies in 4 oz)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 minced shallots
2 cloves minced garlic
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 pound shrimp
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock
3/4 cup fat free half and half
1/2 cup grated parmesean cheese
1 Tablespoon fresh chives
1 Tablespoon fresh parsley

Cook shallots and garlic until translucent.  Melt butter in pan and add the lemon zest and shrimp.   
Deglaze with white wine and allow shrimp to cook through. 

Remove shrimp from the pan and add the flour.  Cook flour for a mintue or two, then deglaze the pan with the wine and chicken stock.  Add cream and cheese.  Return shrimp and add pasta to the pan and stir.  Toss with the fresh herbs and serve.

Very yummy!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Perfect Alfredo Sauce

After a bout of stomach flu by the Big Mama, we are back to our regular scheduled program with a new orginal recipe. 

I remember in college, attempting to make an Alfredo Sauce to serve to my friends.  I cooked for what seemed like hours, my kitchen was designated a desaster area by the then President Bush, (Sr., not W) and I threw it in the trash.  We got Pizza.

It seems like in the years since I've struggled to find the perfect recipe.  Some were too gloppy, some too soupy, some to cheesy and some toally without flavor.  Most were just too rich for my prone-to-acid-reflux tummy, even if they delighted my love-butter-and-cheese pallet. 

Having exahusted the supply of recipes on I struck out on my own to hopefully, keep the wonderful things that I love about traditional alfredo...the sliky texture and parmesean yumminess....with bolder, deeper flavor that can stand up to a flavored or stuffed pasta and cut a calorie or two in the process.

And boy did I hit the ball out of the park!  According to the calorie counter I found on the internet, regular Alfredo sauce is 535 calories per serving.  Coming it at only 150 Calories a serving for an Alfredo sauce that will even keep Whole Wheat pasta from tasting terrible!  And I wasn't skimpy with the servings, either.  Whoo hoo! 

I'm not sure of the cholesterol count with the real butter and real cheese, but that isn't something I track too closely.

I served it with homemade garlic bread, a Ceasar salad over whole wheat chicken and grilled onion Tortilini.  (From the deli section, I did not make them)  Thumbs up were had by all and the picky-icky Little Mouth had seconds!

Perfect Alfredo

5 T Unsalted Butter
2T Flour
1 (or 2) cloves smashed garlic
1 t lemon zest
Fresh cracked black pepper
Pinch fresh nutmeg
1 2/3 cups fat free half and half
2 cups grated parmesan cheese
Reserved pasta water to correct consistency.

Heat fat free half and half in a small sauce pan to a simmer.  Do not boil or a yucky skummy layer will form. 
Melt butter in a high sided saute pan.  Add flour and garlic, lemon zest and nutmeg and cook for 2-3 minutes on medium heat.  Do not allow to brown.   

Add warmed half and half and when that is just begining to simmer, add parmesan cheese, whisking constantly.  Cheese will thicken sauce, maybe too much.  I like a thinner sauce, so I added about 1 1/2 cups of the starchy pasta water.  Toss in your pasta of choice and serve immediately.  So, so good!

Next time I'll throw in some fresh taragon and maybe some chives.  I can't wait to try this one again~! 

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Summery Lemon Shrimp Pasta

A while back I made a shrimp scampi pasta and this dish reminds me a lot of that, but without the specialty ingredients like clam juice.  This is all made with things I had on hand in the fridge or pantry.  This also makes good use of the littlest and the cheapest shrimp.  The flavors of the garlic and lemon are strong an can stand up to the frozen shrimp quite nicely. 

Summery Lemon Shrimp Pasta

8 oz pasta of your choice
12 oz cocktail shrimp (gasp, I used frozen)
2 teaspoons crushed garlic
1 large shallot
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large lemon
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth or pasta cooking liquid
1 tablespoon fresh parsley
1 tablespoon fresh chives
Salt and pepper

Vest lemon and combine with salt, pepper, garlic and 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Mix in shrimp and set aside to marinate. 

Cook pasta to al dente in salted boiling water.  I used short pasta because the Little Mouths like it better and it is easier for them to eat. 

Mince shallot and brown in a large skillet on medium high heat.  Toss in shrimp and cook through until shrimp are opaque. 

Add the wine, chicken stock or starchy cooking liquid reserved from pasta.  Using both the wine and lemon might make it a bit too sharp for many little mouths.  Prepare it to the tolerance of your little taste buds and use more cooking liquid or chicken stock to compensate for the liquid. 

Add in the drained pasta and butter and mix to combine.  Chop the fresh parsley and chives and toss just prior to serving.

Thumps up from Little Mouths and Big Mama.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Marmalade Pork Chops

Okay, again, this isn't my picture.  Again, I was hungry, I ate, I then remembered the photo.  Too late.  But it actually looked a lot like this, only oranger.

Marmalade Pork Chops

1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 cup chicken or veg. broth
1/3 cup orange marmalade
1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 pork chops
Salt and Pepper

Heat the butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Season the pork chops with the salt and pepper. Brown the pork chops but don't cook all of the way through.  Remove pork chops and cover with foil. 

Deglaze the pan with the orange juice and chicken broth.  Add vinegar, marmalade and bring the mixture to a simmer.  When marmalade is melted and combined, add pork chops back into the mix and simmer, turning every few minutes to coat in the sauce until the pork is cooked completely.  150 degrees on an instant read meat thermometer. 
Transfer the chops to serving dish and turn off the heat.  Add the tablespoon of butter to the sauce and whisk until combined.  Drizzle over the chops and serve. 

Thumbs up from Big Mama and Little Mouths.  If you're not from the south, and I'm not, then the whole sweet meat thing took a minute.  I did find the sauce a little sweet on first taste, but I added a splash of vinegar to cut it a bit.  Next time I'm thinking about adding a little Dijon mustard to see what that taste's like.  I served these with real mashed potatoes from the deli at Fresh Market.  Sometimes, especially on Monday nights when I only got four hours of sleep the night before, side dishes are just too much for me.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Antipasto Chicken Sliders

After a great day out with Pedicures and Pizza with my friend and fellow challenge-ee Shirley Jump, I felt inspired and stopped by Fresh Market on my way home.  I love Fresh Market with all my heart and dream of being able to shop there daily as much as I dream of seeing my name on the NYT Bestseller list...but I digress.  I wondered around for awhile and came up with this new recipe, inspired by their antipasto bar.

Antipasto Chicken Sliders
(Could easily be made as that case, I'd serve on ciabatta)

1 pound ground chicken
6 slices turkey bacon (Fresh Market has this awesome turkey bacon that's really thick.  I'm not sure regular turkey bacon would hold up to grilling)
1 Tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley
1 Teaspoon fresh thyme
1 large or two small chopped shallots
3 cloves of roasted garlic, minced, crushed or grated
1 teaspoon white Worcestershire sauce
12 marinated bocconcini (little mozzarella balls)
6 rolls (I got these adorable little herb yeast rolls at, you guessed it, Fresh Market)
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

Preheat grill on high. 

Combine the chicken, parsley, thyme, shallots, garlic, white Worcestershire sauce.  Mix with a fork to keep the mixture from being too mashed down and form into six or eight patties.   

The secret to making tasty chicken or turkey burgers, is adding texture to the meat.  Beef has texture because of the little pockets of fat that liquefy and drain out of the burger during the cooking process, leaving little holes in the burger.  Our mouths like that texture and like the fat.  With chicken and turkey, there is no fat, or very little so we either have to put fat back in or replace it with something.  The shallots, garlic and fresh herbs are what we are using here.  You might be able to get the same taste with dried herbs and onion and garlic powder, but you won't get the same texture and thus, the burger won't be as satisfying.  The fresh ingredients have moisture that will evaporate during cooking.  The herbs, shallots etc. will shrink and leave a little pocket of air...thus creating that texture we love. 

Brush turkey bacon slices and burgers with olive oil and place on preheated grill.  Cook turkey bacon until browned, but not too done or it will get very tough.  Flip burgers when they are nearly cooked through, place bocconcini on the browned side and drizzle with marinade.  Reduce head and lower grill lid to melt the mozzarella.  You can also tent with foil if you don't want to close lid. 

Brush rolls with oil or a flavored oil and place on the grill to brown.  Layer on rolls with bacon and Gooey Deliciousness!~

Terrible photo of something that tasted SO good!

Thumbs up from Big Mama and Little Mouths thought they were pretty good too...although Little Boy Mouth could have done without anything green in them.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Luscious Lemony Pancakes

Okay, so these aren't really my pancakes...but they looked just like this, I swear.  We forgot to take a picture, because we ate them so fast.   Thumbs up from Big Mama and Little Mouths, alike!

Luscious Lemony Pancakes

2 cups baking mix like Jiffy, Bisquick or Pioneer. I prefer pioneer.
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon sugar
Dash of salt

Don't skip the lemon zest! It adds such a yummy favor and works well with maple syrup. I have also used Orange zest, and that's great as well, but then I'd only used just a teaspoon of sugar.  

Mix by hand with a whisk until lumps disappear. Poor onto an oiled griddle or frying pan preheated over
medium heat.   Use a small ladle or measuring cup for evenly sized pancakes.

You don't want the mixture to be too thick or you will get gummy pancakes, too thin and you will have a hard time flipping. Test just one pancake the first time to make sure the batter isn't too runny (where the batter all 
runs off the pancake as you are flipping it) or too thick (gummy on the inside and hard to cook through and 
keep the outsides golden brown. If the mixture is too thick or thin, add baking mix or milk by the spoonful 
until you satisfied with the constancy and you have a light pancake that is cooked through when it is golden 
brown on the outside.

It just takes a little practice, but within a few batches, you have it down pat and can make perfect pancakes 
every time. And don't worry. Even the not-so-perfect pancakes taste pretty darn good!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Aioli with Herbed Grilled Potatoes

It was a challenge to get my herb garden in the ground this year with all of the rain we've had...and I almost threw in the towel and didn't plant it at all.  But now that my little patch is full of lushious yumminess, I'm SO glad I did. 

I usually make this with roasted fingerling potatoes...but they are $8 a pound this time of year and I didn't feel like making the trip to Fresh Market.  In a few weeks, the farmers markets around here will be in full swing and I'll have ready access to the buttery deliciousness of the Russian Banana Fingerling potatoes. 

But today I made it with regular Russets on the grill.

Herbed Grilled Potatoes and Aioli


4 Russet potatoes cut in 1/2 slices, then halfed.
A bunch of whatever herbs you have lying around.  I used Rosemary, Lemon Basil and Thyme.
2 Tablespoons olive oil.
Salt and Pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes or so.  Then grill on medium until cooked through.  About 20 minutes or so, brushing them with the leftover marinade before turning.   


1 slice white bread with the crusts removed
2 tablespoons white wine or champaign vinegar
6 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 1/2 cups mayo (I used Kraft Olive Oil mayonaise)
2 teaspoons lemon zest
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh parsley
Salt and Pepper

Tear up the bread and mix with vinegar.  Allow to sit for 5 mintues.  Squeeze out most of the vinegar and combine with the other ingredients in a food processor or blender and mix until smooth.  The more vinegar the more bite.  I like mine really sharp, so I don't squeeze too much of the vinegar out.

Big Mama LOVES Aioli. I made it for the first time last summer.  Aioli is traditionally made with raw egg yokes and oil, but I didn't have any pasturized eggs (which are VERY expensive) and so I skipped the egg yokes and oil and just used mayonaisse.  Safe for the Little Mouths and to tell you the truth, I liked it even better. 

Aioli is great on potatoes, sandwiches and I much prefer it on fish over tartar sauce. 

The flavors are pretty strong and one Little Mouth likes it and one doesn't...but all three of us liked the potatoes.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Haverhill Italian Beef

This was SO good and SO easy my lovely Auntie made it!  The recipe came from the teachers at Haverhill, my kid's school, thus the title, Haverhill Italian Beef.

This is actually last week's recipe, I've just been too swamped to sit down and get it posted.  Thumbs up from Big Mama's and Little Mouths alike.  In fact, Little Mouths had seconds.

6 oz. water
3 beef bouillon cubes
1 stick of butter
2 teaspoons oregano
2 teaspoons italian seasonings
2 tablespoons garlic powder (yes, tablespoons)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 pound chuck roast

Combine all ingredients in a crock pot.  Cook 4 hours on high and 4 hours on low or some other combination like six hours on high or 12 hours on low etc.  Shread and serve on rolls that will soak up all of the yummy juice.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Grilled Chicken Cacciatore

Today was Pinocle day at our house.  Our Great Aunt comes over for dinner and we play cards for the afternoon.  It's nice and relaxing, but often a challenge to find something that pleases palettes from six to eighty-six.

This afternoon, I think I picked a winner.  I knew we were having chicken breasts, they were on sale for $1.86 a pound.  But I wanted to try something new.  I scanned by ever growing pile of cookbooks and cooking magazines, but nothing seemed just right.  Then I found inspiration when thumbing though an old, dog-eared copy of Martha Stewart's first cookbook.

Instead of baking it in the sauce, I decided to grill it to see what happened.  I, of course, ran out of gas in my grill half way through, but transfered them inside to the grill pan and that worked just fine.  I served the chicken with Dill Potato Salad and fresh fruit.

Grilled Chicken Cacciatore

6-8 chicken breasts
1 6-oz. can of tomato paste
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 red wine
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and Pepper

Mix all ingredients and allow to sit in the refrigerator several hours to overnight.  Start grill on high and allow the chicken to caramelize on both sides, basting with the additional sauce to avoid drying out.  Lower grill and cook through until juices run clear.  

Thumbs up from Big Mama, Little Mouths and Great Aunt. 

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Barbeque Chicken Burgers with Bacon Ranch Sauce and Foil Potatoes

I love to create new burger recipes...especially during grill season.  With a six and nearly nine year old in the house, I rarely get any flack when burgers are on the menu.  This one was a winner, although not as pretty as I'd hoped.  But it sure was tasty.  

Barbeque Chicken Burgers

1 pound ground chicken
1/2 cup of your favorite barbeque sauce
1 clove crushed garlic
Salt and Pepper
4 slices of colby jack cheese
Few drops of olive oil

Mix the ground chicken with the BBQ sauce and crushed garlic.  Separate into eight portions.  Flaten one portion into a patty, fold the colby jack in fourths and place in the middle of the patty.  Flatten another portion and place on top of the cheese.  Seal the edges and repeat until you have four large sized burgers.    Sprinkle with olive oil and rub to cover.  

Place on a hot grill.  They will tend to break apart and the cheese will ooze out if flipped too much, so avoid temptation and let them sear well on the first side before flipping.  

Serve on toasted buns or Ciabatta, drizzled in bacon ranch sauce.   Delish.

Bacon Ranch Sauce

3/4 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon vinegar
3/4 teaspoon garlic minced
3/4 teaspoon finely chopped fresh dill
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon onion minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon paprika
3-4 slices bacon, crumbled 

Mix together and chill for 1-2 hours before serving.  Store in an airtight container for one to three weeks.  

I served this with...

Foil Potatoes

4 large Yukon Gold potatoes
1 large Vidalia Onion
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Montreal Steak Seasoning
1 clove crushed garlic
1 Teaspoon Dijon mustard

Chunk up potatoes and onion, toss with the rest of the ingredients and wrap in foil, sealing the edges well to trap the steam.  I place the foil package on the back part of the grill for about 15 minutes on high before the burgers go on, then flip and keep cooking with the burgers.  Make a slit in the foil and test potatoes for tenderness before removing from the heat.  

Big Mama and the Little Mouths give a big thumbs up to all of the above.  

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Chicken and Rice with White Sauce

I initially got this recipe from my friend Kelli.  It called for the chicken breasts to be breaded in Ritz Cracker Crumbs and Parmesan Cheese.  It was very good, but quite heavy and I hate to bread things.  I added some flavor with the wine and the garlic and took out quite a bit of the calories by removing the cheese and the cracker crumbs...not to mention cutting down on the time. 

2 cups brown rice, uncooked (Used Long Grain and Wild Rice)
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup wine
1 small onion
1 clove garlic
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves(1 lb.)
2 tsp. oil
1 tub PHILADELPHIA Chive & Onion 1/3 Less Fat than Cream Cheese

How to make it

Cook rice as directed on package, using 1-1/4 cups of the broth and 1/2 cup water.

Meanwhile, mix cracker crumbs and Parmesan on plate. Rinse chicken with cold water; gently shake off excess.

Heat oil in large nonstick skillet on medium heat. Add chicken; cook 5 to 6 min. on each side or until done (165°F). Transfer to plate; cover to keep warm. Add remaining onioni and garlic to the pan and cook until just starting to brown.  Deglaze the pan with the wine and add broth and cream cheese to skillet; bring just to boil, stirring constantly. Cook 3 min. or until thickened, stirring frequently; spoon over chicken.

New Challenge!

My friend Shirley Jump, who also likes to cook and who is the author of about 80 gazillion books has come up with a new challenge and I have accepted.

The challenge:  One new recipe a week Mother's Day until Christmas. 

It's gonna be a blast.  Not as much pressure as when I did the September Cooking Challenge, but still a lot fun and a lot of new recipes to add to my personal cookbook!

We will be posting the recipes on our my poor, horribly neglected little blog will finally see some action.

In case you missed how I finally learned to put the link to her website in her name, Shirley can be found at:   or her blog, Eating My Words

Anyone else care to join us??  It's just one new meal per week...come on,  you can do it!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Bean Week -- Day Two

Bean week is progressing well, so far.  The key, I've learned, to keeping Veggies in Disguise is not really taste, but texture.  Last night I made my regular kid-favorite Healthier Tator Tot Cassarole but I added a can of Chickpeas AKA Garbanzo Beans.  Just one can (2 cups) adds 24g of fiber and 30g of protein to the dish.

It turned out well, if a bit grainy.  On my second try, I simmered the beans with the frozen veggies and got a better texture.  Still thumbs up from all and no one has spotted a bean yet.  Even me!

Healthier Tator Tot Casserole

1 box of frozen diced carrots

1 box froze cauliflower in low fat cheese sauce

1 can Healthy Request cream of chicken soup

1 large shallot or small onion

1 pound ground chicken or turkey

1/4 teaspoon thyme

1/4 teaspoon rosemary

1 teaspoon white worstishire sauce

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 cup shredded cheese of any kind

1 small bag of tator tots or enough hash brown patties to cover the top of a 9X13 casserole.

Put frozen carrots and cauliflower in a frying pan with a splash of water. Cover and place on medium heat, stirring occasionally until cooked though. Put in food processor with a steel blade or blender. Add cream of chicken and puree until smooth.

Dice shallot or onion and brown with meat until cooked through and golden brown. Add herbs and sauce. Add soup/veggie mixture to the pan and mix well. Spread in the bottom of a 9X12 casserole. Cover with cheese, then layer the Tater Tots on top.

Bake in a 425-degree oven for 30 minutes or until browned and bubbly or refrigerate or freeze for another day.

Big Mama likes it better than the original. The chicken is flavorful with seasoning and the pureed veggies give it more sauce. Thumbs up for fix-ahead ability, taste and nutrition. The little mouths say…Yummy good.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

It's Bean Week

I hate beans.  All kinds of beans.  Green beans, wax beans, navy beans, kidney beans, soy beans, refried beans, garbanzo beans and everyother kind of bean except for jelly.

But I do like hummus...and just figured out it was made from Garbanzo Beans!  I do like beans after all...that is if you put enough garlic and other yummy stuff in them...but it gave me hope. 

Beans are SO good for you!  They are packed with protein, take on whatever flavor you put them with and they're CHEAP!  Just one cup of Cannillini beans adds 12 g of protein and 10 grams of fiber. 

It was just the texture I didn't like.  Tonight I added a can of Canillini beans to my sneaky tomato soup.  It was delish!  (Which means you couldn't even tell they were there.)  Here's the recipe again in case you missed it.  I quadrupled the batch and froze the rest for later. 

“Sneaky” tomato soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup minced onion (about 1/2 small onion)
1 cup chopped or shredded carrots
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup white wine (optional)
4 to 6 cups broth, chicken or vegetable
1 (14-ounce) can diced, Italian-style tomatoes
1 (14-ounce) can tomato puree
1 small can tomato paste
1 (14-ounce) can tomato sauce
Coarse-grained salt and cracked black pepper
10 ounces fresh spinach
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, very loosely packed
1/2 cup half-and-half (I used fat-free)
1 teaspoon fresh basil

In a stock pot, sauté onion and carrot in olive oil until softened. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds or so. Add tomato paste and cook for a minute or two to develop sugars in paste.

Deglaze pan with wine (or chicken stock) and stir to combine. Allow mixture to come to a bubble, then add chicken stock, tomatoes, puree and sauce. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Add spinach and stir until wilted. Blend soup in a food processor, blender, food mill or with a hand-held blender until smooth.

Add Parmesan and simmer for 1-2 minutes until cheese melts. Add half-and-half and basil, and serve.

The soup can be frozen or refrigerated.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Valentine's Day Macaroni and Cheese

This year, instead of purchasing presents, the Little Mouths and I made Macaroni and Cheese for gifts.  I used this recipe, inspired by Ina Garden's.  It freezes well and in the depths of a snow filled Midwestern February, our friends and family were glad to have a hot meal, ready to pop into the oven on a cold winter's night. 

Big Mama's Heart of Hearts Mac and Cheese

This recipe makes one large 9 X 13 cassarole or three smaller 8 X 8 foil cake pans.  I looked for heart shaped cake pans at the last minute, but was unable to find any.  I'll plan ahead better next year.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and put a large pot of salted water on to boil.

1 pound of your favorite small pasta
2 jars "Junior" yellow squash baby food
Kosher salt
Vegetable oil
1 quart milk
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
12 ounces Gruyere, grated (4 cups)
8 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 pound fresh tomatoes (4 small)
1 1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs (5 slices, crusts removed)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don't boil it. Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a large (4-quart) pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth. Add the squash.  Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and stir well. Pour into a 3-quart baking dish.

Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, combine them with the fresh bread crumbs, and sprinkle on the top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Parmesan Croutons

Today I made lunch for my friends Judy and Jody.  We had Sneaky Tomato Soup and these yummy homemade croutons.  Yummy!

5 slices good white sandwich bread
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan Cheese
Pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees,  Remove crust from bread and cube.  Toss everything in a bowl and mix together and spread out on baking sheet.

Bake for 10 minutes or so until browned and cheese is melted.  Cool on a papertowel and serve with soup or salad.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Baked Tacos

Shout out to my friend Kim for this recipe.  Yummy, quick and a crowd pleaser.

Thumbs up from Big Mama and Little Mouths.

Baked Tacos

1 pound prepared taco meat (Can be purchased prepared or made ahead and frozen)
1 Cup of your favorite shredded cheese
2 Tubes of Cresent Rolls

Your favorite toppings:  Lettuce, Tomatos, Sour Cream etc.

Layer Cresent Rolls, meat, cheese and another layer of rolls.  Bake according to roll directions until golden brown and bubbly.  Top with your favorite toppings and serve.

Oh, so good!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Fettuccini Al'Mama

Yummy, simple and takes just 10 minutes, fridge to table.  Big Mama and Little Mouths give this dish thumbs up in all areas. 

12 oz. Fettuccini
2 cups cream or half and half
5 Tablespoons butter
2 cloves of garlic
4 oz. (approximately 1 cup) Grated Parmesan Cheese
Salt and Pepper

Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil.  Add salt and pasta.

Melt butter in a large saute pan.  Smack the garlic cloves throw them in with the butter.  Add the cream when the butter is fully melted.  Bring to a simmer.

Reserve a cup of the pasta water and drain when it is cooked your desired tenderness. Take the garlic out of the cream mixture and discard. Dump the pasta into the cream mixture and throw the cheese in and mix.  This is kinda a pain, but it's easiest with tongs.  If it starts to glump up or get too dry, add some of the reserved pasta water.  Serve immedately in warmed bowls.  It will glop up if it allows to cool, so eat it quickly.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Little Mouth Shrimp for Shrimps Pasta

I don’t know what’s gotten into me. I’ve been spending too much time at the fish counter, I guess, but I made shrimp tonight. The bigger, Little Mouth love, love, loves shrimp and I love garlic and pasta. The result was this shrimp scampi inspired pasta dish we all loved.

Little Mouth Shrimp for Shrimps Pasta

1 pound of the least expensive shrimp, usually called “cocktail” shrimp

1 head of garlic

½ cup white wine or chicken stock

1 cup clam juice

5 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons butter

1 lemon

1 teaspoon fresh parsley

12 oz. pasta of your choice

Marinate cleaned and devained shrimp in 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 cloves of garlic, minced, for 20-30 minutes. Add the rest of the olive oil to pan and sauté two smashed cloves of garlic until the garlic is brown. Discard garlic and remove one tablespoon of the oil. Add shrimp to pan. Cook shrimp until they are no longer translucent and remove from pan. Add the remaining oil and two tablespoons of flour. Whisk over medium heat for 1 minute. Add the white wine. Keep whisking and add the clam juice.

Allow to reduce by half. Lower heat and add the butter and juice of one lemon. Add shrimp back into pan and combine with sauce. Add pasta and reserve a cup of the pasta water in case the sauce gets dry. Toss the pasta in the sauce with the parsley and sever immediately.

Big Mama gives the dish thumbs up for speed and taste. The bigger little mouth loved the shrimp and little, Little Mouth even liked the pasta, sans shrimp.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Rockin’ Roasted Vegetable Soup

There’s nothing better on a cold winter day than a hot pot of soup. The only problem is, that I’m not all that fond of veggies. A big pot of Beef Vegetable holds no allure past the smell of it simmering on the stove. However, I learned from my Sneaky Tomato Soup, that you can puree just about anything and it will taste good.

This soup is one inspired again from Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa, with a twist from what was on sale at Fresh Market this week.

Rockin’ Roasted Vegetable Soup

1 pound carrots

1 pound parsnips

2 large sweet potatoes

1 acorn squash

1 red onion

2 quarts chicken stock

¼ Cup Whipping Cream, half and half or milk (optional)

Garnish with Parmesan Cheese, Crème Fresh or Sour Cream

Peel all vegetables, cut into chunks and place on cookie sheets. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast at 425 degrees until veggies look all shrivelly, like when the kids stay in the bath tub too long and are slightly browned. I made these veggies ahead, so I stopped here and refrigerated them until the next day.

Put veggies in a dutch oven or stock pot and add chicken stock. Bring to a simmer and allow to simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes. Test and make sure the veggies are very tender…almost falling apart when you poke them with a fork.

Remove from heat and blend with an emersion blender, food processor or traditional blender until smooth.

So yummy. Big Mama gives this soup thumbs up for fix-a-head-ability, nutrition and incognito veggie hiding. Little mouths at least will eat it, even if it is without rave reviews…its veggies, I’ll take it.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Sorta Sole Meunière

The only fish I have ever cooked before tonight came in sticks.

It's true. For some reason, I have always been afraid to cook fish. The Little Mouths really love it, but if there was more to the preparation than opening the oven and shoving in a pan, I wouldn't do it.

I have prepared several of Julia Child's recipes since I saw Julie and Julia, but not the flagship...the first meal Julia had upon arriving in Paris...Sole Meunière.

Yesterday when the kids were in school, I went to Fresh Market and floated around the store to the classical music with my latte and found myself in front of the fish counter. I took a a deep breath and asked for two fillets of the American version of Dover Sole and left, twenty dollars poorer, but in possession of my very first flounder filets. (There was NO way I was going to cook a whole fish, with a head and everything, like in the movie)

Since I started with filet's I had to improvise but it turned out pretty great. This recipe gets thumbs up from Big Mama for taste and speed of preparation, but it’s expensive and has to go immediately from the pan to the plate.

The Little Mouths gave it a thumbs up but still said they'd rather have fish sticks...:-(

Sorta Sole Meunière

1 pounds of the best fish you can afford (I used Flounder)

4 Tablespoons butter

1/4 cup flour

Salt and pepper

1 Large Lemon

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Season fish filets with salt and pepper. Melt three tablespoons of butter in a pan. Skim off the milk solids and place clarified butter in a separate bowl.

Dredge filets through flour and place in pan with a spoon of the melted, clarified butter. Brown on each side. Remove first batch from heat and place on pre-heated cookie sheet in a 200 degree oven. Add more butter and cook the rest of the filets. Remove the rest of the filets and wipe pan clean of browned flour.

Add any remaining butter to the pan along with the remaining Tablespoon. Melt and swirl in pan until it starts to brown. Add Lemon juice and chopped parsley. Poor over cooked fillets and serve.

Exceptionally yummy and very easy to make.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

SO Yummy, Pork Chops

In my house, as in many homes with small children, we eat a lot of chicken.  And I love chicken, but sometimes it's nice to have a little change of pace.  The reason we each so much chicken, is because the Little Mouths always say pork, in particular is too hard to chew.

And they do have a point.  In an effort to make sure pork is at a safe temporature to eat, we cook it until it resembles the sole of one of the high heals in the back of my closet I hang on to so I don't feel old.  This recipe is the solution to that problem. 

The Little Mouths give this a thumbs up and even asked for seconds.  Big Mama loved it too, and gives it a thumbs up for taste, affordiblilty (you can use less expensive, tougher cuts of pork with this method) and but there's not much to fix ahead and it does take several steps. 

SO Yummy, Pork Chops

Pork chops of your choice
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
1/4 cup flour
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup white wine (optional)
1-2 cups chicken broth
2 Tablespoons butter
1/4 cup milk, cream or half and half

Salt and pepper pork chops and dredge them in the flour.  Brown on both sides in a hot pan in Olive Oil, but don't cook though. Tent chops with foil while you are browning the next batch.  Remove and add the chops to the others and cover with the foil. 

Add garlic and saute for a minute.  Deglaze the pan with the wine or broth and stir the little brown bits in the pan into the sauce.  Add the rest of the chicken broth, return the pork and any accumulated juices to the pan and cover.  Cook until the chops are cooked though.  About 10-15 minutes. 

In a sauce pan, melt the butter, then add 2 Tablespoons of flour.  Stir until the roux is a light brown, then remove from heat.  When the chops are done, place them on a platter and cover with foil.  Bring the sauce back up to a bubble and add the roux.  Add a little more chicken stock if the gravy gets too thick.  Reduce heat and add the milk or cream.  I use fat free half and half.  Pour gravy over the chops or serve on the side for dipping.

The Little Mouths are definately dippers. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Smashed Potatoes with Brie

Yummy Yummy Yummy!  I served these with yesterday's recipe and was not disappointed.

I LOVE potatoes of any kind, and these were no exception.  So, so, very good.

Smashed Potatoes with Bre

2 pounds of your favorite potatoes, boiled in salted water and drained.
1/4 milk
1 small wedge of Bre (I got mine marked down)
2 cloves garlic
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter. 

Simmer crushed garlic with the milk until softened.  Whip with potatoes and add Bre and butter.  Stir  until melted.

These were so good they didn't even need gravy.  Thumbs up from the Little Mouths and Big Mama.  I have also cheated on this recipe and added Brie to the deli redimade garlic mashed.  Equally as good, but more expensive.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Chicken on Bagette with Gravy

This is a new recipe for us...a spin on a Rachel Ray recipe I saw last night.  It's a new favorite. 

Pan Seared Chicken on Bagette with Gravy

4 Chicken Breasts
1 bottle garlic and herb marinade or italian dressing
1 Tablespoon chopped parsley (cause I had some that needed to be used up)
Juice from two Lemons
1 Tablespoon Sugar or Honey
2 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon of dijon mustard
Splash of white wine (you can use stock if you want to)
salt and pepper

Marinade chicken in marinade, parsley, lemon juice and sugar for 15-30 minutes.

On high heat, brown chicken breasts until cooked but still moist.  Remove from pan and tent with foil.  Deglaze the pan with the wine (or stock)  In a sauce pan, melt butter and add flour.  Cook for 1 minute.  Add stock and wisk until smooth.  Add mixture to pan juices along with the mustard.  Slice chicken on an angle and return to gravy, adding any accumulated juice that has collected on the plate.  Allow chicken to bubble away in the gravy for a minute or two. 

Serve on a toasted bagette. 

The Little Mouths loved the chicken but ate their bagette separate.  Big Mama give this recipe thumbs up for taste and knows it was worth the extra prep and time.  It still came to the table in under 30 minutes, but it did require constant attension.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Healthier Tator Tot Cassarole

The little mouths just love Tator Tot Casserole and there's not a lot in this world that is less healthy. Layers of ground beef, cream of chicken soup, cheese and tator tots. What's not to love? It is precisely this kind of food that made me a big mama...but I digress.

Last night after I tucked the little mouths in bed--caution, this is not a recipe you can prepare with children WATCHING. I whipped up this alternative version and was pleasantly surprised. I think I like it better than the original.

Healthier Tator Tot Casserole

1 box of frozen diced carrots
1 box froze cauliflower in low fat cheese sauce
1 can Healthy Request cream of chicken soup
1 large shallot or small onion
1 pound ground chicken or turkey
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon rosemary
1 teaspoon white worstishire sauce
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup shredded cheese of any kind
1 small bag of tator tots or enough hash brown patties to cover the top of a 9X13 casserole.

Put frozen carrots and cauliflower in a frying pan with a splash of water. Cover and place on medium heat, stirring occasionally until cooked though. Put in food processor with a steel blade or blender. Add cream of chicken and puree until smooth.

Dice shallot or onion and brown with meat until cooked through and golden brown. Add herbs and sauce. Add soup/veggie mixture to the pan and mix well. Spread in the bottom of a 9X12 casserole. Cover with cheese, then layer the Tater Tots on top.

Bake in a 425-degree oven for 30 minutes or until browned and bubbly or refrigerate or freeze for another day.

Big Mama likes it better than the original.  The chicken is flavorful with seasoning and the pureed veggies give it more sauce.  Thumbs up for fix-ahead ability, taste and nutrition. The little mouths say…Yummy good.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Chicken Marsala Burgers

I have really come to love chicken and turkey burgers...but they are somewhat of a blank canvas, begging for flavor.  I'm planning on having a burger recipe about once a week...because there are so many super combinations and because the little mouths will almost always eat a burger.

This burger recipe may be better for for a weekend and not a busy weeknight, becuase there are several steps.  Still one pan, though. 

Chicken Marsala is a favorite of the little mouths and is the number one most requested meal in these parts.  The burgers are OMG good!  Enjoy!

Chicken Marsala Burgers

1 pound ground chicken
2 teaspoons olive oil
4 slices turkey bacon, diced
1/2 medium red onion, diced
1 clove garlic
2 slices white sandwich bread, ground into fresh breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated parmesean
1/2 cup Marsala wine
1/2 cup Chicken stock in a box
1 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter
1Tablespoon Flour

Dice bacon and onion and brown in a large skillet in  half the olive oil.  Tear the bread into one inch pieces and pulse in a food processor until fine. When the onions and bacon are browned, add the garlic and saute for a about a minute.  Add the breadcrumbs and toast until slightly brown.

Cool the bacon mixture for a few minutes, then add to chicken with the Parmesean Cheese.  Form 4-5 patties and brown in the remaining olive oil on both sides.  Remove the burgers from the pan and tent with foil. 

Deglaze the pan with the Marsala Wine, then add the chicken broth.  Reduce in pan a few moments while you mix butter and flour into a paste in a small bowl.  Add some of the hot broth and mix until disolved.  Return to the saute pan with the rest of the wine/broth mixture.  Add the burgers back to the pan with any meat juices that are on the plate. 

Simmer in sauce, flipping occationally, until the burgers are cooked through and the sauce is thickened.  Serve on rolls or ciabata.  Let leftover pan sauce soak into bread for additional flavor.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Slumber Party Pancakes

The girls at my daughter's sleepover last night pronounced these pancakes, "The Bomb"

Making pancakes isn't my favorite thing to do, but since the little mouths love them so much, I created a recipe that's worth the effort.  I think it's the orange zest that makes the difference.  I actually prefer the lemon, but the Little Mouths say orange all the way.

Slumber Party Pancakes

2 Cups Baking Mix (like Bisquick)
1 1/3 Cup Milk
2 Tablespoons Sugar
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
1 Egg
Zest of a half and orange or lemon

Butter and Syrup, my kids like to dip it out of my fancy Olive Oil bowls.

Don't worry about left over pancake batter.  It can be stored in the frige for a couple of days.  I usually make up all of the pancakes, though, and freeze them between layers of parchment.  A few seconds in the microwave and the Little Mouths have a hot breakfast on a cold morning.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Croque Mama

I LOVE the Barefoot Contessa. I want to be her when I grow up. And I want to be married to Jeffery, but that is a whole different post on how I also love nerdy guys...but I digress.

She has a wonderful recipe for Croque Monsieur and another for Ham and Cheese in Puff Pastry. Now, puff pastry has just about got to be the most divine thing I have ever eaten. Layers of BUTTER, what could be better than that?

Croque Mama

1 sheet puff pastry (The Little Mouths prefer cresent rolls)
4 slices thinly sliced baby swiss
4 slices thinly sliced ham
4 slices thinly sliced Provelone
4 slices thinly sliced hard salami
4 slices thinly sliced peperoni
1 egg

Preheat over to 400 degrees.  Cut puff pastry sheet in half and place in shallow baking dish.  Layer all of the meats and cheeses then top with other half.  You can stop here and refrigerate for 1-2 days. 

Beat egg and brush over the top.  Place in oven until crust is golden and cheese has melted, about 10 minutes. 

The Little Mouths give this dish two thumbs up, even if I don't use Creasant Rolls.

Big Mama gives this recipe thumbs up, all around for Easy Cooking, Cost, Taste and fix-ahead-ability.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Lasagna, Surprise…I actually like it!

Remember in elementary school when they’d have Chef’s Surprise on the menu and we all got a little scared? Those were always the days I brought my lunch. So it has been with Lasagna night at our house. I skipped it, never made it. However, one of the little mouths had lasagna somewhere and loved it so I was on the hook. Find a recipe that I (and they) would actually enjoy.

Little Mouth, the Lasagna Lover, has a High School Musical cookbook. It has a recipe for Lasagna and she’d been chasing me around the house with it for several days. That recipe called for cottage cheese. However, the sight of those little curds floating around in sauce has always been enough to make my stomach do a flip flop, and not in a good way, like when you’d see your most recent crush across a crowded cafeteria. None of us cared for ricotta cheese in the mixture, so what to do???

I got out my handy, dandy shiny new Cuisinart and whipped the cottage cheese into submission with the steel blade and added a little crushed garlic for flavor. YUM. Reminded me of hummus and you could completely add a few herbs and eat the stuff on pita chips.

Jessica Seinfeld has a cookbook called Deceptively Delicious. I don’t make many of the recipes in there, but it did teach me that you can sneak in a little extra nutrition into everything you make. She is a wiz and weekly cooks and purees scads of fresh veggies and stealthy adds them to her family’s breakfast, lunch and dinner.

This summer when the farmers markets were everywhere, I did cook and freeze quite a bit of squash, etc. but it isn’t something I am going to be able to consistently keep up…then it hit me. There is a source of pureed veggies of every kind. One that has stringent quality and nutrient standards and is in EVERY grocery store. Baby food!

I use the large “Junior” jars and it works great. It often gives the dish a little extra flavor and more than one guest has questioned what that little extra “something” is…but I’m not telling!

Lasagna, Surprise…I actually like it!

1 pound ground beef, sausage or meat substitute
1 jar tomato sauce
1 large jar pureed carrots (Junior Baby Food)
2 cups cottage cheese (I used reduced fat)
2 cloves crushed garlic
2 cups mozzarella cheese
¼ cup grated or shredded parmesan cheese
6 large lasagna noodles or 12 of the smaller, no cook ones

If you are using regular lasagna noodles, boil water and prepare them to the package directions. Careful to not overcook or they will be mushy.

While the ground beef is browning in a saute’ pan over medium heat, put the cottage cheese in a blender or food processor with the garlic. Puree until smooth and slightly fluffy. Remove the ground beef from heat and drain well. Add 2/3’s of the tomato sauce and pureed carrots and mix.

Add the reserved 1/3 of the sauce to the bottom of a 9 X 13 baking dish (or use two square ones and freeze half) then add the first row of noodles.

Now comes the tricky part. Every last recipe I have read for lasagna calls for the rest of the ingredients to be layered in the pan. Now, I know I have the dexterity of a one armed paperhanger, but I have never managed to be able to “layer” all of these sticky ingredients. If you can…do that now. If you’re like me, mix the cottage cheese mixture, 2/3’s of the mozzarella cheese and the 2/3’s meat/sauce mixture in a big bowl and put half of that on top of the noodles. Add another row of noodles and repeat with the rest of the glop you have left in the bowl. Add another row of noodles and top those with the rest of the meat sauce followed by the rest of the mozzarella cheese and the parmesan cheese.

Cover the pan with foil. Now you can do one of three things. Freeze, Refrigerate, or cook at 350 degrees for 50 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to brown the cheese for 10 more minutes. If the cheese isn’t browning well, flip on the broiler for the last few minutes, but watch closely. My kids won’t touch it if it looks “burned.”

The Little Mouths are split on this one. One thumbs up, one down.

Big Mama gives this recipe thumbs up, all around for fix-ahead-ability, Cost and Taste with an honorable mention for Easy Cooking.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Easy Peasy Beef Stroganoff

I love this recipe and I've been making it in some form for 20 years. It is so versatile you can add or subtract just about anything and it still tastes great.

It is good made with beef strips or ground beef, as my kids prefer. You can add carrots, as well as mushrooms and peas or leave them all our and serve on the side or with a nice green salad. You can jazz it up by adding some fresh thyme or serve it over rice instead of noodles.

The Little Mouths give this dish two thumbs up if I make it with ground beef, and pick of the beef if I make it with pieces of beef.

Big Mama gives this recipe thumbs up, all around for Easy Cooking, Cost and Taste with an honorable mention for fix-ahead-ability.

Easy Peasy Beef Stroganoff

1 pound ground beef or beef stew meat or beef for stir fry
2 Tbsp. All purpose flour
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic
2 cups beef stock
1 can cream of mushroom or cream of onion soup
1 small can of mushrooms or 8 oz. fresh mushrooms.
1 box or small bag of frozen peas (optional)
1 cup sour cream (Reduced Fat works great)
12 oz. egg noodles
Salt and Pepper

Fill a large pot with cold water and 1 teaspoon salt and put on to boil.

Dice onion and cook in Olive Oil, over medium high heat, until just starting to brown. Add minced Garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Toss beef in flour and brown on high/medium-high heat until browned on all sides. Remove beef and add fresh mushrooms and sauté until browned. If you are using canned mushrooms, just add to the beef. When the mushrooms are browned add beef back into the skillet. Deglaze the pan with beef stock and allow to simmer for 2-3 minutes to reduce. Add the can of cream soup and mix well. Allow mixture to simmer until it coats the back of your spatula and is a good consistency to stick to the noodles. If it gets too thick, don’t worry. You can add more beef stock, a little of the starchy cooking liquid from the noodles or even a bit of milk. Add the peas so they can warm through while the sauce reduces.

Stop here and freeze or keep in the refrigerator for up to three days.

While you are waiting for your sauce to reduce, prepare egg noodles to package directions. At the last minute, mix half of the sour cream into the sauce mixture.

Serve over noodles and garnish with a dollop of sour cream on top.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...