Pasta with Garlic-basil Cream Sauce

This recipe if from Cooks Illustrated, if you have never picked up a copy of this little magazine before then do it this month. This magazine is a gem. I love it! They have so many great ideas and tips about different products - plus totally simple recipes.  Also, this sauce doesn't save well. So use it immediately - don't try cooking ahead of time or saving the leftovers. Also, with a recipe like this, where the pasta is the star, it is usually a good idea to splurge a little and buy the fresh pasta from the grocery store rather than the dried kind from the shelves.

1 C. packed fresh basil leaves
1 1/2 C. half-and-half
1 C. low-sodium chicken broth
1 T. cornstarch
2 T. unsalted butter
1 shallot, minced
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 T. minced fresh basil
1 lb linguine or spaghetti
freshly grated Parmesan

Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil for the pasta. When boiling add in 1 T. salt and the pasta, cook, stirring often until al dente. Drain - reserving 1/2 c. pasta water. Return to pot
While waiting for the water to boil: Blend the basil, half-and-half, broth, and cornstarch together in a blender until completely smooth, about 30 seconds.
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add shallot and 1/4t. salt and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Briefly re-blend the half-and-half mixture to redistribute the cornstarch, then stir into saucepan and simmer until thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in minced basil and salt & pepper.
Add the sauce to the pasta using pasta water as needed to loosen the sauce. Top with Parmesan cheese.


Beer Boiled Bratwursts

The hardest days for me to come up with a new recipe are Monday and Wednesday. I have school until 7pm on these days and therefore I have to find meals that I can prepare in advance for reheating, a crock-pot meal or something totally elementary that my husband that tackle all on his own (if it has more than about 5 ingredients or steps he opts for fast-food). This is a struggle for me because I still want them to be delicious and comforting. So tonight we are having brats - good old German Sausages. Everyone loves them and they are super easy.

6 Fresh German Pork Bratwursts (I usually buy them from the deli section of Sprouts, but I am sure that most supermarkets offer fresh bratwursts at the deli counter - they are WAY better than the prepackaged ones. Just go for it!)
2 Cans of Fosters Beer (I buy the fosters because it is cheap and I can buy it in an individual HUGE can, since I don't need it for anything else. You can use any beer really, but we have found that there is not much difference in flavor between them in this recipe)
6 Hot dog buns
2 yellow onions
1 T. Olive Oil
Brown mustard
Sauerkraut (heated)

In a large stockpot pour the beer over the bratwursts. Boil on high for a minimum of 30 minutes. The beer will foam up, so be sure to have a large stockpot. When the brats are cooked through remove them from the liquid and take them to the outdoor grill and kiss them on each side with the hot grill. Crisp-up the outside.

While the brats are boiling, cut the onion in half length wise and them slice into 1/8 inch half-rings. In a medium skillet over med-high heat, warm the oil. Add in the onion and a dash of salt & pepper. Saute until the onions are golden and caramelized.

When brats are done on the grill. Put them in the bun with the mustard, onions and kraut. enjoy.


Lemon-Herb Roast Chicken with Pan Gravy

This is one of those recipes that are on the Campbell's soups - or on the website (in this case). I have a bunch of leftover Thanksgiving stuff (stuffing, festive potatoes...) and I needed to use them up - plus I have had a whole chicken in my freezer waiting for me to use it. So this worked perfect, it is a yummy, delicious, easy Sunday dinner that uses everyday pantry items. Perfect.



1 lemon
1 (10.75 ounce) can Campbell's® Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup (Regular or 98% Fat Free)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (6 pound) roasting chicken
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup water


  1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grate 1 1/2 teaspoons zest and squeeze 1 tablespoon juice from the lemon.
  2. Stir the lemon zest, lemon juice, soup, rosemary, thyme and garlic in a medium bowl. Reserve 1 cup soup mixture for the gravy. Place the chicken into a shallow roasting pan.
  3. Roast the chicken for 20 minutes. Brush the chicken with 1/4 cup soup mixture.
  4. Roast for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken to a serving platter and keep warm.
  5. Spoon off any fat from the pan juices. Stir the wine in the roasting pan and heat over medium-high heat to a boil, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir in the reserved soup mixture and water and cook until the mixture is hot and bubbling. Serve the gravy with the chicken.


Saucy Chicken

This is an old Weight Watchers recipe that is a keeper (even when we are not as good at watching the weight). It is yummy and easy and thankfully a healthy meal (which is good on days like today when you are contemplating a gym membership...or using that gym membership you have been paying for since last year at this time!)


2 C. Chicken broth - divided
1/4 C. Flour - seasoned with salt & pepper
4 (4oz each) chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
1 16oz can stewed tomatoes
3-4 scallions, chopped


Pour 1/2 cup of broth into a wide bowl; place flour on a plate.. Dip each chicken breast in broth, then flour, turning to coat on all sides.
Spray a nonstick skillet with cooking spray. Cook the chicken over medium heat, turning once until crowned on both sides. Remove chicken from skillet; set aside.
Add any remaining flour to the skillet; cook, stirring constantly until browned. Slowly stir in 1/4 cup of the broth; cook until thickened. Gradually stir in remaining broth, cook stirring constantly until thicker. Add tomatoes and scallions to the skillet, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, return chicken to skillet and simmer until cooked through, about 10 minutes.

*for those of you keeping track - 4 points per serving (this recipe is 4 servings)


Amalie's Orange Chicken

I am so excited for this recipe because it is my first viewer submitted recipe!! I was so excited to get it - even if it was from my cousin...and the best part of the recipe was - IT WAS DELICIOUS! The house smelled so good while I was cooking it too. Thank you so much Amalie for introducing this recipe to us - it will definitely be on the menu again (although, I suppose not for another 11 months :( )

1 1/2 C. Water
2 T. Orange Juice
1/4 C. Lemon Juice
1/3 C. Rice Vinegar
2 1/2 T. Soy Sauce
1 T. Grated Orange Zest
1 C. Brown Sugar
1/2 t. Minced Fresh Ginger Root
1/2 t. Minced Garlic
1/4 t. Red Pepper Flakes
3 T. Cornstarch
2 T. Water

2 - 3 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast cut into 1/2 inch pieces.
1 C. Flour
1/4 t. Salt
1/4 t. Pepper
3 T. Olive oil

Pour 1 1/2 cups water, orange juice, lemon juice, rice vinegar, and soy sauce into a saucepan and set over medium-high heat. Stir in the orange zest, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat, and cool 10 to 15 minutes.
Place the chicken pieces into a resealable plastic bag. When contents of saucepan have cooled, pour 1 cup of sauce into bag. Reserve the remaining sauce. Seal the bag, and refrigerate at least 2 hours.
In another resealable plastic bag, mix the flour, salt, and pepper. Add the marinated chicken pieces, seal the bag, and shake to coat.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Place chicken into the skillet, and brown on both sides. Drain on a plate lined with paper towels, and cover with aluminum foil.
Wipe out the skillet, and add the sauce. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Mix together the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons water; stir into the sauce. Reduce heat to medium low, add the chicken pieces, and simmer, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve over white rice (or brown!) and steamed snap peas and broccoli.


Thanksgiving Post

So hopefully today will be filled with thanks and giving with family and friends and you won't need a dinner idea because you have known what you are having for dinner for the past... 300 years. Therefore I am posting a bunch of recipes today that I LOVE to have with my turkey dinner. I can, of course, think of about 5 other things that I would add as well (but they will also work for Christmas - so I am going to save them) and they do not include a green bean casserole (sorry weird-o's).

Here is the Menu:

Happy Thanksgiving!

Frog-eye Salad

ummm, I love this stuff. My husband has issue with the texture of it, and you may too - but you can't deny the flavor is awesome! I love the texture - I love everything about this dish. mmmm....

1/2 C. sugar
1 T. flour
1 1/4 t. salt
1 C. pineapple
1 egg - well beaten
1/2 T. lemon juice
1/2 C. coconut flakes
1/2 T. oil
8 ounces Acini de pepe pasta
1 can mandarin oranges-drained
1 can pineapple chunks - juice reserved
1/2 can crushed pineapple - drained
4 ounces whipped topping
1/2 c. mini marshmallows

In a saucepan combine sugar, flour and 1/4 t. salt. Gradually stir in pineapple juice and egg. Cook over moderate heat, stirring until thick. Add lemon juice. Cool mixture to room temperature. Cook acini de pepe according to package instructions. Drain, rinse and drain again. Combine with the lemon juice mixture and store in an airtight container in the fridge over night. The next day add the remaining ingredients and mix lightly.

Gramma Eddie's Dinner Rolls

Okay - first of all my grandmother's parents did not name her Eddie! I did, actually. Her real name was Nellie, but when I was a toddler I was not able to say Nellie - and Eddie came out and it stuck forever and ever. All her grand kids call her Eddie. This is her recipe for rolls and they are the best. I love them so much that I don't ever want anything different. They are practically perfect in every way - just like she was.

1 package yeast
1/4 C. warm water

Soften the yeast in the warm water for 10 minutes.

1 C. milk - scalded
1/4 C. Sugar
1/4 C. Shortening
1 tsp. salt
1 egg
3 1/2 C. flour

During standing time, scald the milk. Add sugar, shortening and salt. Mix well. Cool to lukewarm. Ad 1 1/2 cups of flour and mix well. Add yeast mixture and eggs mixing quickly and thoroughly. Gradually add the rest of the flour until you have a soft dough. Cover and let double. Form into roils and bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Tops may be brushed with butter while still warm. makes 1 1/2 - 2 dozen.

Festive Potatoes

I am not going to lie - these are AWESOME! I love them, but my love for them is pathetic compared to my husbands love of these. He will actually take the leftovers and put them between two slices of bread and have a festive potato sandwich! These are always a crowd pleaser, and while it is important to have the option of mashed potatoes and gravy on the Thanksgiving table, no one is going to eat them if these are there!

8-10 large baking potatoes - rinsed
              - OR 1-1/2 packages (30oz pkg) Ore-Ida frozen shredded hash browns, thawed
1 cube + 2 T. Butter
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 1/2 c. cheddar cheese - shredded
1/4 c. finely diced onion ( I stress - FINELY)
1 pint sour cream
1 cup crushed cornflakes

Boil the whole potatoes until fork tender, trying not to poke them too often because they will start to break and fall apart. When done, let potatoes cool until you can handle them. Peel off the skin and grate with a cheese grater.(That entire step can be skipped by purchasing the shredded hash browns) In a sauce pan over medium heat melt the cube of butter, add in the onions and cook for a couple of minutes until translucent. Add in the cream of chicken, cheese and sour cream until melted. Pour the cheese mixture onto the shredded potatoes and mix well. Pour into a greased 9x13 pan. Melt the remaining 2 T of butter and add it to the crushed cornflakes. Sprinkle on top of the potatoes. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Note: This recipe can be made a day or two ahead of time and stored in the fridge, just don't bake it until you are ready to serve. Be sure to bring it to room temperature before you put it in the oven.

Spinach Salad

I don't know why I feel like this recipe is a Thanksgiving recipe, maybe because it is the only time of year I can justify the calories of the dressing, regardless it is yummy and always a fan favorite. You can cut down time by buying the pre-washed and trimmed baby spinach leaves

Spinach leaves – stems removed and leaves torn
Bacon – cooked in bite size pieces
3 eggs – hard-boiled, sliced

½ C. Mayo
3 T. Red Wine vinegar
1/3 C. Sugar
1/3 C. Whipping Cream
½ C. Ketchup
¾ C. Oil
½ t. Worcestershire sauce
¼ t. salt
¼ t. oregano
¼ t. dry mustard
Pinch of garlic powder
Pinch of dill weed

Blend until thick and creamy.

In a large serving bowl layer the spinach, then bacon, and finally eggs. Top with the dressing (don't use all of it - because it makes a LOT) and toss with tongs. Serve.


Quick Pork Loin

I love no fuss recipes. The only problem with them is that they often taste like they were no fuss. This one is different. The raspberry chipolte sauce can be purchased at costco and fresh & easy. I have never looked anywhere else for it. It is found over by the barbecue sauces at those stores.

1 pork loin
1 bottle raspberry chipotle sauce
salt & pepper
olive oil

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Rinse and pat dry the pork loin, then rub with a small amount of olive oil. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Put on a baking sheet in the oven. Cook until the internal temperature reaches about 150 degrees. Take out of the oven and rub it down with a lot of the chipotle sauce. Add more than you think you should - trust me. Return to the oven and continue cooking until the internal temperature reaches 170. Guides say that it will need to be cooked for 20 minutes per pound of meat - I don't think that is entirely true, so just keep an eye on the temperature.


Beer Can Chicken

I know this is called Beer Can Chicken but it is just as amazing with cream soda instead of beer. I know that sounds like a weird switch but it works (and in all actuality, I think I prefer it with the cream soda). But this is delicious.

1 whole chicken

Make rub in a small bowl with the following ingredients:
1 t salt
1 t paprika
1 t rosemary
1 t thyme
1/2 t lemon zest
1/2 t pepper

Open the beer can and pour out about half the beer.  Put the following ingredients into the beer can so they will flavor the steam

Put the bird on the grill, balancing the bird on its two legs and the can, like a tripod.  Grill over indirect medium heat until the juices run clear and the internal temperature registers 170 degrees in the breast and 180 degrees in the thickest part of the thigh. (1  to 1 1/2 hours).  Carefully remove the chicken and can from the grill (do not spill the contents of the beer can, as it will be very hot).  Let the chicken rest for about 10 minutes before lifting from the beer can and cutting into serving pieces.
Using a can opener, make 2 more holes in the top of the can.  Place the beer can on a solid surface.  Plunk the chicken cavity over the beer can.
1 T rosemary
1 clove of garlic
Juice of one lemon
1 t dried thyme
1/2 t red pepper flakes
remove the neck a giblets and any excess fat from the chicken.  Lightly rub the chicken all over with 2 T. olive oil.  Season the chicken inside and out with the rub.  Tuck the tips of the wings behind the chicken's back


Loaded Baked Potato Soup

It has been "cold" here lately. When the sun goes down we are breaking out the sweaters. (yes, that qualifies as cold). So I have been looking for yummy warm comfort foods for dinner. However, with the holidays coming around I don't want to over load on the calories...yet. So I was looking for a lighter recipe and I stumbled upon this one. It is from Cooking Light and while the flavor is awesome there is one small problem with the recipe. In the recipe it calls for reduced-fat sour cream (which I used) but the problem with reduced-fat sour cream is that it breaks when it is heated. So, if you are serving this recipe for just your family then go for it. Cut those useless calories. If you are wanting to impress someone, use the full-fat sour cream.

Also, I had to triple this recipe! We did have leftovers but not much - I think this recipe could feed 3-4 people.

4  (6-ounce) red potatoes
2  teaspoons  olive oil
1/2  cup  prechopped onion
1 1/4  cups  fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
3  tablespoons  all-purpose flour
2  cups  1% low-fat milk, divided
1/4  cup  reduced-fat sour cream
1/2  teaspoon  salt
1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
3  bacon slices, halved
1/3  cup  shredded cheddar cheese
4  teaspoons  thinly sliced green onions


1. Pierce potatoes with a fork. Microwave on HIGH 13 minutes or until tender. Cut in half; cool slightly.
2. While potatoes cook, heat oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 3 minutes. Add broth. Combine flour and 1/2 cup milk; add to pan with 1 1/2 cups milk. Bring to a boil; stir often. Cook 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in sour cream, salt, and pepper.
3. Arrange bacon on a paper towel on a microwave-safe plate. Cover with a paper towel; microwave on HIGH for 4 minutes. Crumble bacon.
4. Discard potato skins. Coarsely mash potatoes into soup. Top with cheese, green onions, and bacon.


Chicken Dumpling Soup

I absolutely LOVE this recipe. I actually made this recipe so often that my husband got to the point where he couldn't eat it for few months. But, I laid off and now we can enjoy it once again. The best part of this soup is - you can make it whatever you want! Today for instance, we have leftover turkey from our  Thanksgiving yesterday and so instead of chicken, we are going with the turkey. My sister-in-law has even mentioned to me that they have used leftover shredded beef before too and it was great (just use a matching broth) Plus, you can use any vegetable you have on hand!

1 Rotisserie chicken
8 c. Chicken broth
1 can diced tomatoes with juices
1/2 Yellow onion, finely diced
3 Carrots, peeled and cubed
3 stalks of celery - diced
2 small red potatoes - washed and cubed
1 1/2 C. Green Beans, ends removed
Salt & Pepper
1 T. Basil
2 Bay leaves
3 Eggs
1-2 C. four

In a large stock pot, saute the onions with a small amount of oil or a spritz of cooking spray until translucent. Add in the carrots, celery, potatoes and green beans. Add in the broth, canned tomatoes and seasonings. Boil over high heat until the vegetables are tender (if you are in a hurry, cut them smaller).
Meanwhile, pick apart the chicken, removing all gristle parts and bones. Add the chicken to the soup.
In a small bowl, beat the eggs with a dash of salt and pepper. Slowly add in the flour - you want this to get to the consistency of drop biscuit dough. (The amount of flour you add will be different every time since egg sizes are not consistent). Using a large metal spoon, drop the dough into the boiling soup (see below). Continue to boil until the dumplings are cooked through - about 5 more minutes. Enjoy.

To drop in the dumplings:

Start by submerging your spoon in the boiling soup to get the spoon hot. Next scrape the side edge of the spoon on the top of the dough and up against the edge of the bowl to get a long, thinner portion of dough on the spoon.(this probably makes no sense, but you want the dough to be on the edge of the spoon, it should look like you are scraping the bottom of the bowl and you can only get a little bit... )then submerge it into the boiling soup, the dumpling will fall off on its own.  Then start again.

Dumpling pics:
This is what the dumpling should look like before you submerge it.
Leave your spoon in the hot soup until the dumpling detaches itself.


Thanksgiving Turkey

I am not going to lie to you... I make the best Thanksgiving Turkey ever! But, in the spirit of honesty, I must say that it is a combination of two recipes that I have picked up from the Food Network.  The brine recipe is actually from Good Eats with Alton Brown , and the roasted turkey portion is from Everyday Italian with Giada De Laurentiis.

If you have never brined a Turkey before this is the year to try it out. It is super easy and it makes a whole lotta difference. I can't even describe the juiciness that this brings to the turkey (and roasted turkey doesn't usually spark memories of juicy - now does it?). People will wonder what your magic trick is - and how you managed such an amazingly juicy turkey.

This recipe from Giada is AWESOME! I know the show says Everyday Italian, but this isn't an italian turkey. I have actually been told that this turkey is magazine worthy because it comes out so beautiful...not to mention the smell ---- ahhhhh,, the smell filling your home.

The Brine:
1 (14 to 16 pound) frozen young turkey
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 gallon vegetable stock
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 1/2 teaspoons allspice berries
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped candied ginger
1 gallon heavily iced water  

About 2-3 days before: Begin thawing the turkey in the refrigerator or in a cooler kept at 38 degrees F.

Combine the vegetable stock, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, allspice berries, and candied ginger in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve solids and bring to a boil. Then remove the brine from the heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate.

Early on the day or the night before you'd like to eat:

Combine the brine, water and ice in the 5-gallon bucket. Place the thawed turkey (with innards removed) breast side down in brine. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area for 8 to 16 hours, turning the bird once half way through brining.

To Roast:
1 orange, cut into wedges
1 lemon, cut into wedges
1 onion, cut into wedges
6 fresh rosemary sprigs
6 fresh sage sprigs
6 fresh oregano sprigs
7 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons herbes de Provence
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
6 cups canned low-salt chicken broth (approximate amount)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour

To make the turkey: Position the rack in the lowest third of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F.

Rinse the turkey and pat it dry with paper towels. Place the turkey on a rack set inside a large roasting pan. Place the orange and lemon wedges, onion, and 2 sprigs of each fresh herb in the main turkey cavity. Tie the legs together to hold the shape of the turkey. Stir 2 tablespoons of butter, the herbes de Provence, oil, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of each the salt and pepper in a small saucepan over medium heat just until the butter melts. Rub the butter mixture all over the turkey and between the turkey breast meat and skin. Place the turkey neck and giblets in roasting pan. (Recipe can be prepared up to this point 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before roasting.)

Cover the turkey breast with foil. Roast for 20 minutes. Pour 3 cups of broth into the pan and stir to scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the remaining sprigs of fresh herbs to the pan. Roast the turkey for 40 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Remove the foil from the turkey; pour 1 more cup of broth into the pan. Continue roasting the turkey until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 degrees F to 175 degrees F or until the juices run clear when the thickest part of the thigh is pierced with a skewer, basting occasionally with pan juices, about 1 hour and 30 minutes longer. Transfer the turkey to a platter and tent with foil. Let stand 30 minutes while preparing the gravy.

To make the gravy: Strain the turkey pan juices from the roasting pan through a sieve and into a 4-cup glass measuring cup; discard the solids. Spoon off the fat from atop the pan juices. Add enough chicken broth, about 1 to 2 cups, to the pan juices to measure 4 cups total. Melt the remaining butter in a heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the flour and whisk for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the broth. Simmer until the gravy thickens slightly, whisking often, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve the turkey with the gravy.

Note: Don't disappoint yourself and everyone else by cooking your turkey to death. It really does not have to cook for 8 hours! In fact, I cooked a 25 pound turkey in about 4 1/2 hours, and it was perfect. Just trust in your handy dandy meat thermometer.


Chili Mac

So... I am getting ready for Thanksgiving. In fact, on Saturday we are having Thanksgiving with my husbands family and then on Thanksgiving day we are going over to my grandparents house. I absolutely love this time of year. The traditions, the food, the family and the opportunity to really think about things to be grateful for. I have been cooking and preparing foods for our get together for the last two days already and tonight, well I am not cooking. Therefore, I am having a really hard time thinking of a recipe to post for today (because honestly we are going to see Harry Potter and then going out for Mexican food (: ) So I have decided to post a family favorite.

This recipe is a family recipe. I can remember my mom making it when I was a kid, probably because it is cheap and it can make a ton (there were 7 kids!). Everyone in my family LOVES it and my kids really like it when they get to have it. People who know me will know that I don't like the flavor of chili powder, therefore this recipe and I are not best of friends - but it IS easy and it IS cheap and kids DO like it.

2 C. Elbow Macaroni
1 lb. Ground Beef (of leftover taco meat)
1/2 Onion - diced
small can Tomato Paste
8-12 oz Tomato Sauce
1-2 T. Chili powder
1 tsp. Cumin
salt & Pepper
1-2 C. Cheddar Cheese - grated.

Cook the macaroni noodles according to package instructions (keeping it on the al dente side). Reserve some of the water.

Meanwhile, saute the onions in a pan that has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray, until translucent. Add in the ground beef. Cook until it is browned throughout. Drain off any excess fat (I read in magazine once, that a great way to cut calories on ground beef is to actually drain it in a colander and then rinse it with hot water after it has been cooked, then return it to the pan and add seasonings - I do it and it works!) 

Add half the can of tomato paste (or more if you are using the full amount of sauce, but start with half), chili powder, and cumin to the browned meat. Add enough of the pasta water to make a sauce-like texture. Simmer for about 20 minutes, adding pasta water as needed. 

When the macaroni is cooked, drain it and return it to the pot. Add the beef mixture, tomato sauce and salt & pepper and more chili powder and cumin if you feel that it is needed). Stir to thoroughly mix. 

Add the cheese or you can have people add their own cheese to their own bowls.  


Chicken Paprikash

When we lived in Oregon we would go to this little mom & pop restaurant in Albany called Novaks. It was traditional Hungarian food and oh-man it was good. I don't know who is familiar with Hungarian food but it is heavy. Lots of creamy dishes and sausages and rich desserts are the main things on the menu. Therefore we would frequent Novaks in the cold long winter months and not go in the two months of "summer". Now that we are in Arizona, well we don't have a winter - so we have to make due and deal with heavy hot meals on lukewarm days, like today. It was 80. One of the signature dishes at Novaks was Chicken Paprikash. I never knew anything about this dish until the little Hungarian lady insisted that the kids get it for their kids meals. So when it came - I tried it. They next time we went, I ordered it.
I found this recipe online and tried it tonight for dinner and it was a HIT! We all loved it. Don't be frightened by the amount of Paprika - it works. trust me.

p.s. I am copying this recipe word-for-word, no edits (except the sour cream), and I followed it EXACTLY!

This recipe is barely any more complicated than chopping things up and boiling them in a pot. If I use store-bought spaetzel, I can make a complete pot of paprikash and have all the dishes cleaned in 45 minutes.

24 oz. (1.5 lbs) boneless skinless chicken breasts
24 oz. sour cream
48 oz. chicken broth
1 onion
3-4 tablespoons Hungarian paprika
2 tablespoon garlic
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ginger
2 bay leaves
corn starch (or preferably potato starch, if you have access to a health food store)
olive oil
1 Fudgesicle

Make spaetzel; put in a bowl. Alternatively, you can buy spaetzel from the store, or prepare any type of noodles you prefer.
Chop up the chicken breasts into small pieces.
Put the chicken and garlic in a pot; saute in olive oil.
Chop up the onion into small pieces.
Put the onions and some chicken broth into the pot. For now, use just enough broth to keep everything submerged, but don't flood it. You should have some broth left over (maybe around 16 ounces); the remaining broth will be used below.
Stir in the other spices (paprika, salt, black pepper, ginger, bay leaves).
Simmer to let the chicken and onions cook thoroughly. While it's all cooking, eat the Fudgesicle.
When the chicken and onions are fully cooked, add the starch as a thickening agent, by mixing it into the remaining broth and pouring it into the pot. (If you're out of broth, use water; but ideally you will have exactly enough broth for this.) Remove from heat and let it thicken.
Finally, mix in the sour cream, and it's ready to serve over spaetzel

Note: Spaetzel makes this dish! I just bought it in the pasta section at my local grocery store and boiled it just like it was a pasta. yummmmm...


Spaghetti & Meatballs

Tonight I am not going to be home, so I have to make a dinner that my husband can figure out. I am going to get everything made ahead of time and then he just has to cook the noodles, and heat up the sauce and meatballs.

Traditional Tomato Sauce (you should have some leftover from last week)

2 slices white sandwich bread, stale
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 pound ground turkey
1/2 pound ground beef chuck
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 medium onion, grated (about 1/4 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large egg, beaten
Freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup olive oil, divided

Serving suggestions: 1 pound cooked spaghetti or linguine
Pulse the bread in a food processor. In a small bowl toss the bread crumbs with 1/3 c. cold milk to rehydrate. In a large bowl, combine the bread crumbs, meats, Parmesan, parsley, salt, onion, garlic, and egg and mix until combined. Season the meat mixture with pepper.
Using your hands, gently form the meat mixture into 18 slightly larger than golf ball-sized balls. (Packing the meat mixture too tightly together will result in tough meatballs). Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.
Heat half the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of the meatballs and cook, turning occasionally, until well browned on all sides, about 6 minutes. Transfer the meatballs to a plate. Drain the oil and wipe out the skillet, return to the heat, and repeat with the remaining oil and meatballs.
Drain and wipe out the skillet again. Return all the meatballs to the skillet and pour in the marinara sauce. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, covered, swirling the pan occasionally, until the meatballs are cooked through about 15 minutes. The cheese in the meatballs will start to melt when the meatballs are ready. Serve immediately.


Chicken Fried Steak

I can't help it! The cooler weather makes me want heavy, fatty, delicious foods! Just go with it. We have 6 months before it is swimsuit season.  This recipe is a straight-up Alton recipe. I am not going to lie... it is perfect as is, so I don't mess with it.

2 pounds beef bottom round, trimmed of excess fat
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 whole eggs, beaten
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves


Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
Cut the meat with the grain into 1/2-inch thick slices. Season each piece on both sides with the salt and pepper. Place the flour into a pie pan. Place the eggs into a separate pie pan. Dredge the meat on both sides in the flour. Tenderize the meat, using a needling device or the spiked end of a meat mallet, until each slice is 1/4-inch thick. Once tenderized, dredge the meat again in the flour, followed by the egg and finally in the flour again. Repeat with all the pieces of meat. Place the meat onto a plate and allow it to sit for 10 to 15 minutes before cooking.
Place enough of the vegetable oil to cover the bottom of a 12-inch slope-sided skillet and set over medium-high heat. Once the oil begins to shimmer, add the meat in batches, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Cook each piece on both sides until golden brown, approximately 4 minutes per side. Remove the steaks to a wire rack set in a half sheet pan and place into the oven. Repeat until all of the meat is browned.
Add the remaining vegetable oil, or at least 1 tablespoon, to the pan. Whisk in 3 tablespoons of the flour left over from the dredging. Add the chicken broth and deglaze the pan. Whisk until the gravy comes to a boil and begins to thicken. Add the milk and thyme and whisk until the gravy coats the back of a spoon, approximately 5 to 10 minutes. Season to taste, with more salt and pepper, if needed. Serve the gravy over the steaks.

Serve with mashed potatoes


Meat Rolls & Gravy, with a little help from Gramma Eddie

My kids love these things! Which is great, because I am horrible at getting rid of leftovers so this recipe helps me a lot! This is my Great Grandmother's Recipe for rolls, and then I just add the meat to them but if you are ever looking for a roll recipe then this is the one! These are the most amazing rolls in the whole wide world!

leftover pot roast & carrots
1 pkg yeast
1/4 C. warm water
1 C. milk- scalded
1/4 C. sugar
1/4 C. shortening
1 tsp. salt
1 egg
3 1/2 C. flour

Shred and chop the roast and the carrots together. Mix them  up well.

Soften the yeast in the warm water for about 10 minutes.

During standing time, scald the milk. Add sugar, shortening, and salt. Mic well. Cool to lukewarm. Add 1 1/2 C. four and mix well. Add yeast mixtures and the eggs mixing quickly and thoroughly. Gradually add the rest of the flour until you have a soft dough. Cover and let double. Pinch off small 1 1/2" balls of dough. Stretch out and flatten, Using a Tablespoon scoop a ball of the meat mixture into the middle of the dough. Wrap the dough around the meat and pinch off at the bottom. Place in a buttered 9x13 baking dish. Continue with other rolls, spacing about 1 1/2" apart. Bake at 375 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and the dough is cooked through. Serve with leftover gravy or a pre-made gravy.

*If you are wanting to make this recipe as just rolls:

Soften the yeast in the warm water for about 10 minutes.

During standing time, scald the milk. Add sugar, shortening, and salt. Mic well. Cool to lukewarm. Add 1 1/2 C. four and mix well. Add yeast mixtures and the eggs mixing quickly and thoroughly. Gradually add the rest of the flour until you have a soft dough. Cover and let double. Form into golf-ball shapes and place in a buttered 9x13 baking dish about 1 1/2" apart. Bake at 400* for 12-15 minutes. Remove to a wire rack and cool. Brush tops with butter.


Jan's Pot Roast

Pot Roast on a chilly November Sunday. That sounds awesome! It just goes good - it doesn't sound the same if I were to say ' Pot Roast on a steamy July Sunday'. gross.  Pot Roast is meant to be eaten in the cooler weather and I love it!! Plus this recipe is a two-fer! If you have leftovers of the meat and carrots then save them! We will use them tomorrow.

1 Chuck Roast (look for one that is shaped like a Roast - not a steak, and yes, it is fatty but that is what makes it yummy and shreddy and delicious)
1 envelope McCormick's Beef Stew Seasonings
5-7 Carrots - chopped into 2" pieces
5-7 Celery Stalks - Chopped into 2" pieces
5-7 Red or Yukon Gold potatoes - Cubed in quarters
1 yellow onion - chopped into quarters

Spray a saute pan with cooking spray over med-hi heat. Sprinkle roast liberally with salt & pepper. Place the roast in the hot skillet for a couple of minutes on all sides to give it a good brown crust. While it is searing chop the veggies.

In a slow-cooker, put half of the veggies in the bottom, followed by the roast, and then the rest of the veggies. Mix the seasoning packet with 1/2 C. cold water and pour into the slow cooker, covering everything.

Cook on Low for 6-8 hours or High for 4 Hours.


Chicken Enchiladas

What is it about a Saturday night that calls for a different kind of food? When coming up with my menu for the week I always struggle with coming up with a Saturday dinner. For some reason I always want to have pizza or..... well pizza. It is the only thing I ever want to eat on a Saturday night. However, pizza every Saturday night would not be keeping up with my different meal for every night for 1 year gig, so I am branching out this week. I don't know that chicken enchiladas are necessarily a Saturday food but for now they will just have to do. Also, I prefer to keep this recipe lower fat - which is why I steam the corn tortillas rather than flash-fry them, but you are welcome to do either.

4 chicken breasts
2 cans cream of chicken soup
2 pints low-fat sour cream
2 cans diced green chilies
1 1/2 C. cheddar cheese
36 Corn tortillas

In a large stock pot, boil the chicken breasts until tender and able to be shredded, about 1 hour. Remove from pot and shred.
In a separate bowl combine the cream of chicken soup, sour cream and green chile's. Pour half of the sour cream mixture onto the shredded chicken and combine.
Pour half of the remaining sour cream mixture into the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish.
Steam the tortillas: I moisten each size of the tortilla with a spray bottle filled with water and then put it in a hot, dry skillet for a few seconds on each side or until pliable. I am sure that you can steam them in a rice cooker or maybe even the microwave if you wanted too.
One at a time, put the chicken mixture in the middle of a corn tortilla and roll up. Place seam side down in the baking dish and continue until all the tortillas and chicken is used. Spread the remaining sour cream mixture over the enchiladas and bake at 350 for about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with the cheese and return to the oven for about 10 more minutes or until the cheese is melty and yummy.


Mom's Meatloaf

Meatloaf? Really? Whoever invented this recipe couldn't think of anything more appetizing to call it? It is like they were asking for the kids to automatically hate it  before they ever try it. If you really think about it, can you blame the kids? Meat-loaf it just sounds gross! But it is delicious, and this recipe of my moms is awesome even my kids love it!

3 slices of white bread
1 large carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1/2 medium yellow onion - peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves - smashed & peeled
1/2 c. fresh parsley - loosely packed
1/2 c. + 3T. Ketchup
4 1/2 t. dry mustard
12 ounces pork
12 ounces ground round
2 large eggs, well beaten
2 t. salt
1 t. freshly ground black pepper
1 t. Tabasco
1/2 t. fresh rosemary- chopped
2 T. dark brown sugar - packed

Heat oven to 400*. Remove the crusts from the bread  and place in a food processor. Process until you have fine crumbs, about 10 seconds. .Transfer crumbs to a large mixing bowl. Do not substitute dried bread crumbs, they have a tendency to make meatloaf rubbery.  Place carrot, celery, yellow onion, garlic, rosemary and parsley in the food processor. Process until the vegetabes have been minced fine, about 30 seconds. Stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times. Transfer the vegetables to the bowl with the bread crumbs. Add the 1/2 c. ketchup, 2 t. dry mustard, meat (any combination of meat would work as long as it equals 1 1/2 pounds), eggs, salt, pepper, and Tabasco. Using your hands, knead the ingredients until thoroughly combined. Do not over knead, as this will result in a tough meatloaf.
Set  wire rack inside a 11x17 baking sheet. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the rack, placing in the center of the rack to prevent the meat from falling through. Cut a second sheet to fit under the rack to catch the drips (for easy clean-up). Using your hands, form an elongated load or two small loaves on the parchment covered rack. Place the remaining 3 T. ketchup, remaining 2 1/2  t dry mustard and brown sugar in a bowl. Mix until smooth. Brush onto loaf. Bake approximately 50-60 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the loaf registers to 160*. Let the meatloaf cool for about 10 minutes before slicing.


Chicken Parmesan

Hello delicious. This recipe tastes like a million bucks - and it tastes like you slaved in the kitchen for hours (because you did!) and it is worth it! If you like chicken Parmesan then give this a try when you are feeling especially ambitious. Make sure that you have made your Traditional Italian Tomato Sauce before hand.

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 C. milk
4 C. flour
6 large eggs, beaten
6 c. unseasoned, dried bread crumbs
pinch of salt
freshly ground black pepper
4 T. unsalted butter (not margarine)
1/2 C. extra virgin olive oil
2 C. traditional Italian tomato sauce
1/2 lb fresh mozzarella, slices into 1.8" thick medallions

 Trim the chicken of fatty pieces, and cut in half lengthwise - making 2 servings. using a meat tenderizer or a heavy skillet, pound the chicken between 2 sheets of plastic wrap until flat, about 1/4 inch thick. Place the milk, four, eggs and bread crumbs in 4 separate shallow dishes. Season the eggs with a pinch of salt and a dash of pepper. Dip each breast in the following order: milk, flour (shake off excess), eggs, bread crumbs (pressing firmly into bread crumbs).
In a large skillet melt the butter with the olive oil over medium-high heat until sizzling. Arrange the chicken breast in the pan without over crowding. cooking in batches. Reduce the heat and cook until golden brown n both sides and juices run clear, about 7 minutes per side (do not flip the chicken more than needed, this will cause the crust to break and fall off). Place the cooked chicken breasts on a cooling rack on top of a cookie sheet in a warm oven to keep warm while the other chicken is cooking.
When all the chicken is cooked, place 1/2 c. of the tomato sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish. add cooked breasts to the dish, cover with tomato sauce, place sliced mozzarella cheese on top of chicken and broil until cheese is melted and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Serve over angel hair or linguine pasta.

Note: I do not recommend the "precious" brand mozzarella cheese. It has a very bitter flavor, which is very unfortunate. Mozzarella cheese should almost be sweet. I recommend getting it from the deli section  (not behind the counter, but over by the fancy cheeses) or even Costco sells fresh mozzarella that is delicious and it comes in a 2 pack.

Traditional Italian Tomato Sauce

This recipe is the best tomato sauce I have ever had. It does take some time and work, but you can double or triple the batch and freeze it and then you will have it at all times. 

4- 28oz cans tomato puree
1/4 C. extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 t. crushed red pepper flakes
1 C. dry red wine
1 T. dried oregano
8 leaves fresh basil
coarse salt
freshly ground pepper

In a large stockpot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and briefly saute, careful not to burn it. Add in the red pepper flakes and slowly add in half the tomato puree and the wine. Mix well. Add in the remaining tomatoes. Mix well. reduce heat to low and let simmer. Add the oregano Dan continue to simmer until slightly thickened, about 90 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in the basil, and season with salt & pepper to taste.

* I usually buy the red wine at the grocery store by the vinegars but more than once I bought an actual bottle of red wine and you can taste the difference. You can not taste the wine in the recipe, but you can taste the difference in quality ingredients.


Philly Cheese Steak Sandwiches

This recipe is an adaptation from a Rachael Ray recipe. My family loves sandwiches - so of course anything between two pieces of bread is delicious. This recipe feeds 4.

For the onions:
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, or enough to lightly coat the bottom of a skillet 
2 large yellow skinned onions, sliced very thin
Coarse salt and pepper or steak seasoning blend

For the steak:
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 pounds lean beef tenderloin or sirloin, ask butcher to slice the meat very thin
1 teaspoon garlic salt
Freshly ground black pepper
8 slices provolone cheese, from the deli counter
4 Italian sandwich hogie rolls 

Heat a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil. Add onions and season with salt and pepper or steak seasoning blend. Cook onions, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes or until onions are soft and caramel in color.
Heat a heavy griddle pan over medium high to high heat. Wipe griddle with a drizzle of oil using a paper towel. Sear and cook thin sliced steaks until brown but not crisp, about 1 minute on each side. Cook steaks in single layers in 2 batches and tenderize by cutting into meat with the side of your spatula while they cook. When the steaks are browned, just before you remove them from heat, sprinkle them with garlic salt and pepper. When all of the steaks are cooked, line each of your split rolls with 2 slices of provolone cheese. Put under the broiler to melt the cheese, but don't brown the cheese. Pile 1/4 of your meat and onions on to the griddle and mix together with your spatula. Pile the meat and onions into rolls on top of the cheese.  Repeat for remaining servings and serve


Beef & Broccoli

I love stir-fry. I love the ease and of course the flavors that come with a stir-fry. This recipe is no exception. It it effortless and delicious. If you don't have a wok then a large skillet would work just fine.

London Broil - sliced  paper thin
1-2 bunches broccoli - chopped into bite-size pieces
4 stalks celery - sliced into bite size pieces

2 C. chicken broth
2 T. soy sauce
1/4 t. ground ginger
2 T. sherry or orange juice
1 t. salt
1 t. sugar

1 T. cornstarch
1 T. cold water

In a separate bowl whisk together all the sauce ingredients, set aside.

Season meat with salt & pepper, lemon pepper and season salt. Heat 2 T. oil in a Wok over medium high heat. Stir-fry beef until browned, add in broccoli and celery and stir-fry until the broccoli turns bright green. Add sauce mixture, bring to a boil. Combine the cornstarch & water and drizzle into the boiling sauce, stirring constantly, until a good consistency is made, using more or less thickener as needed. Serve over hot steamed rice.


Easy Red Beans & Rice

 A part of me was meant to live in the South. When we lived in North Carolina and Texas I was in culinary heaven. I LOVE the food in the South. The barbecue, the spicy, the deep fried, the delicious... While this recipe would never been caught dead in the South (it's low-fat ;) ) it is a yummy, lower calorie version of Red beans & rice.

1 T. + 1 t. Olive Oil
1 C. finely chopped onion
2 t. finely chopped garlic
16oz Canned kidney beans, drained
2 oz. diced, lean smoked ham or turkey-ham
1 c. low-sodium chicken broth
1 c. chopped canned tomatoes with juice
1/2 c, thinly sliced scallions
1 t. chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 t. dried
1 large or 2 small bay leaves
1/4 - 1/2 t. hot pepper sauce (like Tabasco)
salt & pepper to taste
4 C. cooked white rice

In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium heat; add onion and garlic. Saute and continue to stir until onions are wilted about 6-7 minutes. Add beans, ham, broth, tomatoes, scallions, thyme, bay leaves and hot pepper sauce; mix well. Over high heat bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 40 more minutes, stirring occasionally, until the beans get creamy. Season with salt & pepper, remove bay leaf and serve over rice.

* Note, after sauteing the onion and garlic you can transfer to a slow-cooker and cook for several hours until beans are creamy.


Dad's Grilled Flank Steak

ummmm, delicious. I have never had a marinade flavor a meat like this one does. It tastes amazing, smells amazing and it IS amazing. Plus, this is a grilled recipe, which is super handy because usually someone else does the bbqing. I usually like to serve this with twice baked potatoes and some grilled asparagus. mmmmm.

1 to 1 1/2 lb flank steak

1/2 c. light soy sauce (full sodium works fine too - just don't blame me when you are all swollen from water retention)
1/2 c. orange or pineapple juice
3 T. dijon style mustard
2 T. grated fresh ginger or 1 tsp ground ginger
2 T. tomato paste or ketchup
1 t. ground cumin
1/2 t. black pepper
2 small cloves garlic - minced

In a ziploc bag mix together all the marinade ingredients. Add the flank steak and allow to marinade 4-8 hours.

When you are ready to eat: heat up the BBQ, grill the flank steak on each side 8-12 minutes or until desired doneness (8 minutes per side = medium). Remove from heat and cover with foil for about 5 minutes to allow to rest. Cut the steak into slices on the bias.  Serve.


Chicken, Cheese & Rice

We have been eating this dish for as long as I can remember. I am sure my mom made it because it is SO easy to prepare. Plus, it is a people pleaser. My kids all love this, especially the rice! This does take an hour to bake so prepare ahead of time for that.

1 1/2 C. White Rice
1 1/2 C. Cheddar Cheese
3/4 C. Parmesan Cheese (not the powdered stuff, actual real shredded parm!)
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (fat and yucky parts removed)
3 C. Chicken Broth
1 T. Dried Basil
1 T. Garlic Salt
Salt & Pepper

Pre-heat oven to 350*

In a 9x13 pan, layer ingredients in the order above. Bake for 1 hour or until all liquid is absorbed from rice.

* The only ingredients that need to be exact is the rice & broth. Everything else can be eyeballed. Sometimes I don't have Parmesan cheese, so it doesn't get added - and it is just as delicious.
**A little hint: When adding in the basil, garlic salt & salt and pepper: Sprinkle it in the rice areas, not directly on the chicken. As the liquid absorbed the chicken will end up with the perfect amount of seasonings. If you sprinkle it all on the chicken in the beginning the chicken will be encrusted with the seasonings and it isn't as delicious as it sounds.

Update: 11/7/10  3:57pm
I just got off the phone with my mother who informed me that there is a better way of cooking this meal!  So I will be trying this method out in the next couple of days and then I will post the new and improved (if it is improved) recipe!


Baked Macaroni & Cheese

Who doesn't like good 'ole Mac & Cheese? It is the comfort food of all comfort foods. It is amazing and delicious and yummy and mmmmmmm..... I think I want some right now.

16 oz. Macaroni Noodles
4 T. Butter
4 T. Four
3 C. Milk
3 C. Shredded Cheddar Cheese
Panko Bread Crumbs
Salt & Pepper

Pre-heat oven to 400*

Cook the Macaroni noodles according to package instructions except cook for 1 minute less than the least amount of time suggested, adding salt to the water.

While you are waiting on the noodles - make the sauce. Melt the butter in a sauce pan, add in the flour and a dash of pepper and a few dashes of salt (and if you are feeling spicy, a dash of cayenne) whisk for a minute. Add in the milk, slowly, while continuing to whisk. Bring to a boil, stirring the whole time. add in 1 cup of the cheese and stir until melted.

When the noodles are cooked, drain and return to the stock pot. Poor cheese sauce over cooked noodles and pour into a 9x13 baking dish. Cover with the remaining cheese. Bake for about 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the Panko break crumbs over the top, return to the oven but this time under the broiler for only 1 -2 minutes or until the Panko is a beautiful golden brown.



Lorie's Easy Sweet & Sour Chicken

This recipe is delicious and super easy! My kids all love it - and that says a lot. It does have to cook for an hour - so plan for that.

1/2 C. chopped onion
1/2 C. green bell pepper - chopped
1/2 C. carrots - sliced
1/4 C. butter
1/4 C. brown sugar
1/2 t. garlic powder
3/4 c. catsup
1 c. pineapple juice - reserved
2 T. vinegar (white, red wine or apple cider)
2 t. Soy Sauce
dash ground ginger
1 can pineapple chunks - juice drained & reserved
3 lbs chicken breasts

Preheat oven to 375*

Saute the onion, pepper and carrots in the butter until the onions are translucent. Add in the brown sugar, garlic powder, catsup, pineapple juice, vinegar, soy sauce and ginger. Bring to a boil. Add in the pineapple chunks and remove from heat.

Place chicken breasts in a 9x13 baking dish and pour the sauce over them. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45-60 minutes. Serve over rice.


Aunt Suzie's Lazy Stroganoff

I know! I know! This is not a true stroganoff because I am not cooking it the right way.....blah blah blah. However, this recipe is delicious and super easy! This is perfect for cooler days that are busy. Sometimes cooking in the kitchen for hours is not logical! Trust me - everyone will love this!

1 can Cream of Chicken Soup
1 can Cream of Celery Soup
1 envelope Onion Soup Mix (like Lipton's)
1 lb Stew Beef - * I like to cut them into small bite size pieces
1 C. Sour Cream
Wide egg noodles or Spaetzle

Spray a saute pan with cooking spray and cook the stew beef over medium high heat. Don't stir it around - let it cook on a couple of the sides for a while so they can get a good crust - you are not trying to cook them through, we are just giving them some texture (and you can completely skip this step if you want - the beef will cook in the slow-cooker). While the beef is searing, add the cream of chicken & celery and the onion soup mix to a slow-cooker. Fill one of the cans halfway with water and add to the slow cooker, mixing well. Add in the beef. Cook on high for 3 hours or Low for 5 hours. Right before serving add in the sour cream*. Serve over cooked noodles or spaetzle.

*If you are worried about presentation then use the full-fat sour cream. It blends in beautifully. If you would rather cut some calories the Light sour cream tastes just as delicious but it doesn't blend in as smoothly.


Chicken Marsala

So - I must note: I despise mushrooms! Something about their rubbery, squeaky, fungi texture gives me the heebie-jeebies! However, don't try to make this recipe without them! It doesn't work - trust me I have tried it. I just quietly push my mushrooms to the side and hope my kids don't notice that Mom isn't eating her veggies!

3 Chicken Breasts
1 container sliced mushrooms (button or baby bella work well) DON'T get canned mushrooms! ick.
1 Shallot
2 T + 1 t. Olive Oil
1 t. butter (not margarine!)
1/2 C. Marsala Wine
1/2 C. Chicken Broth
Ground Thyme
Salt & Pepper

Trim the fat and weird parts off the chicken breasts. Slice the chicken down the middle length-wise, making 2 servings of chicken. Lightly pound the chicken until it is the same thickness throughout. (This works really well if you put the chicken breast in a gallon size Ziploc baggie, zip it up, then pound it out. No flying chicken pieces!!) Sprinkle each piece on both sides with salt, pepper and thyme and then dredge in four.
Heat the 2 T. Olive Oil over medium heat in a large saute pan. Cook the chicken until golden brown and cooked through (it is important to cook the chicken slowly in this step. If you cook on too high of heat the four on the outside will burn and the chicken will be raw on the inside). Continue in batches until all the chicken is cooked, placing the cooked chicken on a baking sheet in a warm oven.

* If you are wanting to serve this with pasta - now would be the time to start that! We love it with linguine.

Thinly slice the shallots and quickly rinse the mushrooms. In a saute pan heat the remaining 1 t. olive oil and the butter over medium-high heat (margarine has too much water in it - so it will pop and oil will explode all over the kitchen - so just use butter...please). When the butter is melted add in the shallots and cook until they are shiny. Add in the mushrooms and continue to cook until the mushrooms have darkened and soft. They should also, give up some juices.  Add in the wine and broth and cook for 2 minutes. The mushrooms should work as a natural thickener to the sauce but if it is not thick enough, you can drizzle in a little cornstarch mixture ( 1t. cornstarch & 1 t. cold water) until it is thickened. Add in the cooked chicken breasts and continue to simmer for a few more minutes.

Serve with pasta

Side note: If you are having a hard time finding Marsala Wine.... At any grocery store you can find it (usually on the top shelf) with the vinegars. It is sold in a small bottle (perfect for recipes) and is usually next to the red wine vinegars.


Sweet Pea's Chex Mix

I have awesome childhood memories that involve the smell of this chex mix. I am pretty sure that every kid in my family looks forward to Christmastime because that is when my Grandma Sweet Pea and then, over the years, my mom would start making this amazing savory little treat! It is probably a strange tradition for most people but not our family! I look forward to November 1st every year because it is the first day that we can start making Chex Mix! Today - when my kids come home from school our home will be filled with the smells of the season - warm chex mix!

1/2 Large Box Rice Chex
1/2 Large Box Corn Chex
1/2 Box Wheat Chex (they only make the one size box)
1/2 Small Box Cheerios
1 bag of stick pretzels
1 can of mixed nuts
3 cubes butter
3 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 T. garlic salt
1 T. season salt (Lawry's)

* When I by the ingredients for this the first time in the season I also buy one of the large aluminum roasting pans that they sell in the baking isle. Get the largest one (I think it is meant for a turkey, but I don't know how they are supposed to hold up to a turkey!) and use it all season - and then you can throw it away after Christmas!

Pre-heat Oven to 300*

Put the cereals, pretzels and nuts in a LARGE roasting pan and mix it up.

In a saucepan melt the butter over medium-low heat (don't burn or break the butter)  add in the seasonings and Worcestershire sauce and whisk well. drizzle over the cereal mix stirring the cereals as you are adding to ensure a good even coating.

Bake for 1 hour, but stirring thoroughly every 15 minutes. Pour out onto paper towels to cool

Paula Deen's White Bean Chili

I am not a huge fan of Chili - it is actually a combination of things in the traditional chili that I don't find particularly appetizing - the chili powder mainly,but the ground beef and the kidney beans don't help the situation. Individually the ground beef and kidney beans are fine, but no matter what it is in I can not stand the flavor of Chili powder. So, when we were invited over to a friends house over Halloween weekend for their traditional Chili and Cornbread dinner I opted to bring a white chili and can I tell you IT WAS DELICIOUS!!! I did do a couple of things different than the original recipe but I will note that below.

  • 1 pound dried navy beans
  • 5 cups chicken stock * I started with 5 cups, but ended up using 10
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter * I would suggest at least HALF this amount - I used the full amount but after cooking I noticed a lot of it was unneeded.
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 3/4 cup diced onion
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped green chile's (fresh or canned) * I used 2 cans of diced green chilies
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro leaves, chopped * I used the full bunch - no stems
Rinse beans well, cover with cool water, and soak for 2 hours. Drain. Put the beans in large pot with the 5 cups of chicken stock and bring to a boil over high heat.
In a saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic, onion, and chile's and saute for 5 minutes or until the onions are translucent. Add green chili mixture to pot with beans. Add the chicken, cumin, oregano, pepper, white pepper, red pepper flakes, and cilantro. Lower the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, for approximately 1 1/2 hours.*after 1 1/2 hours my beans were still very undercooked. I ended up cooking it for nearly 3 hours and it was perfect - however, this is when I had to add in more chicken stock, so watch the pot! Serve with cornbread, if desired.

Serves 10-15