Sunday, November 20, 2011

It's a Short Work Week!

Two and a half days stand between me and some major family time!  The Thanksgiving break always flies by, but it is so worth the short week at work, the food, the SHOPPING, and most of all, the family time.  Even with all the awesome food that will be devoured this week, I still plan on making some of my own dishes during the week to have a homemade meal on the table.  Here's the plan:

Sunday:  We are spending an early Thanksgiving with my parents beofre they head to San Diego to see my sis and brother-in-law.
Monday:  We very well could be consuming leftovers from yesterday's meal, but I plan on making my Aunt Cathy's Deep Dish Taco Squares.
Tuesday:  Slow cooker Beef stew
Wednesday:  Crispy Rosemary Chicken and Fries
Thursday:  Thanksgiving at the in-laws!
Friday:  Leftovers-of course!
Saturday:  Probably something easy, but I want to make homemade Macaroni and Cheese.

-I came across this recipe in a cookbook my mom put together for me.  It comes from my Aunt Cathy's kitchen.
Recipe for Deep Dish Taco Squares
2 c. Bisquick mix
1/2 cup cold water
1 lb. ground beef
1 green pepper, chopped
2 tbsp chopped onion
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 8 oz. container sour cream
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1/3 c. mayonaise

Combine Bisquick mix and water stirring with fork until blended.  Press in bottom of lightly greased 12 by 8 by 2 in. baking pan.  Bake at 375 degrees for 9 minutes.  Cook ground beef, green pepper, and onion in a large skillet until meat is browned stirring to crumble meat; drain well.  Stir in tomato sauce.  Spoon over crust.
Combine sour cream, cheese and mayonnaise in a medium bowl.  Spoon over meat mixture.  Sprinkle top evenly with paprika.  Bake in 375 degrees oven uncovered for 25 minutes until casserole is lightly browned; cut into squares, cool.

To be honest, I am not the biggest fan of beef stew, but it's a good hearty winter meal and anything with Worcestshire sauce in it HAS to be good.

French's Slow Cooker Beef Stew
2 lbs. cubed beef stew meat
1 cup chopped onion
1 tbsp. minced garlic
2 jars beef gravy
1/4 to 1/3 cup Worcestshire sauce
1 lb. small potatos, halved
1 1/2 cups baby carrots
2 cups frozen peas, thawed

Season meat with salt and pepper to taste.  Brown meat in 2 tbsp. hot oil in skillet; transfer to slow cooker.  Stir remaining ingredients except peas into slow cooker.  Cover; cook on high 4 1/2 hours or on low 9 hours.  Add peas during last 10 minutes.  Serve with crusty bread.

This next meal is a one-dish meal!  Love these!
Crispy Rosemary Chicken and fries from


  • 5-1/4 chicken thighs
  • 4 small red potatoes, quartered
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, or as needed
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  2. Place chicken and potatoes into a large bowl. Pour olive oil over them, and stir to coat. Scatter the chicken and potato pieces in a large baking dish, or cookie sheet with sides. Sprinkle with rosemary, oregano, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
  3. Bake for 1 hour in the preheated oven, uncovered. Baste during the last 15 minutes for extra crispness.
Servings Per Recipe: 4
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 497
  • Total Fat: 31.9g
  • Cholesterol: 78mg
  • Sodium: 145mg
  • Total Carbs: 27.6g
  •     Dietary Fiber: 3g
  • Protein: 24.4g

I refuse to make mac and cheese for my family from a box.  We try to avoid processed foods as much as we can.  I love this Southern living version of macaroni and cheese.  It's a lot like the box recipe, but homemade!

Macaroni and Cheese
1 (8oz.) package uncooked elbow macaroni
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese or American cheese

Cook macaroni according to package directions, omitting salt.  Drain and set aside.  Melt butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat; add flour, stirring until smooth.  Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Gradually add milk; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and bubbly.  Add slat and cheese, stirring until cheese melts.  Stir macaroni into cheese sauce. cook over medium-low heat 5 minutes; let stand 5 minutes before serving.  Sprinkle with paprika, if desired.

Nutrition info:  415 calories, 16.9 g protein, 35.5 g carbs, 1.4 g fiber, 66 mg cholesterol, 1.9 mg iron, 896 mg sodium, 352 mg calcium

Happy eating!  I will post later with some Thanksgiving recipes. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Busy Weekend

I am back to being classy again this weekend.  One more class after this month and the semester is over!!!  This week has been crazy and this upcoming week doesn't look any less crazy with parent teacher conferences coming up.  We didn't eat the mushroom and sausage quiche until last night (Saturday).  That's why I always put a night in for leftovers, so we can be flexible with the menu.  I have lots of meat in the freezer that needs to be cooked, so I am excited to what's going to be made or not made this week.

Sunday:  Ryan is in charge.  He caught Rockfish yesterday, so he will be making this.
Monday:  Slow Cooker paella with Chicken Sausage (It's a healthy recipe.)
Tuesday:  Leftover soup from freezer (we have about 3 different kinds in there)
Wednesday:  Chicken and Basil Calzones
Thursday:  Open Faced Meatball Sandwiches
Friday:  Leftover night b/c I'll probably not want to cook after a long week.
Saturday:  We are having a Thanksgiving dinner with friends this night.  I am still trying to decide on what to make, but I am super excited!

The slow cooker is my friend during crazy weeks.  I can't wait to try this and have it the next day for lunch!  I'll probably prep this tonight.

Slow Cooker Paella with Chicken Sausage (best EVER!) from Eat! Move! Play!
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red or yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 zucchini, halved and sliced
1 (8 oz) package sliced mushrooms (I’m not a mushroom person, I omitted.)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 (8 oz) package yellow rice
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
2 cups water
12 oz fully-cooked reduced-fat chicken sausage, sliced
Heat the oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring until onion is softened, about 5 mins. Add peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, and garlic and cook until veggies soften, about 3 mins. Transfer veggies to a 5 or 6 quart slow cooker. Add rice mix, tomatoes, and water. Cook sausage in same skillet over medium-hihgh heat until browned, about 2 mins. Add sausage to slow cooker. Cover and cook until rice is just tender and the liquid is absorbed, 1-2 hours on high or 3-4 hours on low. (Note: mine took 3-4 hours on high, for some unknown reason.)
Calories: 269
Fat: 7g

I found this recipe on another blog:
I don't cook a lot with ground chicken, but it sure is cheaper than ground beef!

Chicken and Basil CalzonesCooking Light Annual Recipes 2009 Copyright 2008

Cooking spray
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound ground chicken breast
3/4 cup prepared pizza sauce
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 (13.8-ounce) can refrigerated pizza crust dough
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat oven to 425°.

2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add garlic and chicken to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink, stirring to crumble. Stir in pizza sauce and pepper. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; stir in basil. Let stand 10 minutes.

3. Unroll dough onto a baking sheet coated with cooking spray; cut dough into quarters. Pat each portion into an 8 x 6–inch rectangle. Divide chicken mixture evenly among rectangles; top each serving with 2 tablespoons cheese. Working with one rectangle at a time, fold dough in half over filling, pinching edges to seal. Repeat procedure with remaining rectangles. Bake at 425° for 12 minutes or until golden.

Nutritional Information Calories:459 (14% from fat) Fat:7.1g (sat 1.8g,mono 1g,poly 0.4g)
Protein:39.1g Carbohydrate:56.4g Fiber:3g Cholesterol:74mg Iron:3.7mg Sodium:919mg

Talk about easy cooking with this next recipe.  One of our favorite things to do is to make meatball sandwiches, but with the frozen kind.  It's easy and quick, which is perfect for Thursday night since I will be in parent-teacher conferences until 6:30.

Open-Faced Meatball Sandwiches adapted from Southern Living Annual Recipes 2007
24 frozen cooked Italian-style meatballs, thawed
1 (26 oz.) jar super chunky mushroom pasta sauce
1 (15 oz.) can Italian-style tomato sauce
1 (5.5 oz.) can spicy tomato juice
6 hoagie rolls, split but not cut through and toasted
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Combine first 4 ingredients in a 3-quart slow cooker.  Cover and cook on HIgh 1 hour.  Reduce heat to Low, and cook 4 1/2 to 5 hours or until slightly thickened.  Spoon meatball mixture evenly into rolls.  Sprinkle with cheese.

Happy Cooking y'all!  Let me know if you make any of these recipes.  I would love to know how they turned out!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

What's Cookin'?

I put the menu together for the week tonight instead of tomorrow, so I can get a jump start on the grocery list for tomorrow.  Here's the plan:
Soup Sundays:  Stuffed Pepper Stoup
Monday: Grilled Sausages, peppers, and onions on rolls
Tuesday:  Bible study night-We'll support my school's spirit night at a local restaurant. :)
Wednesday:  Chicken with Black Beans and Rice
Thursday:  Bfast for dinner night-Mushroom and sausage quiche
Friday:  Leftovers-I always plan a leftover night so we don't waste food.  Sometimes, I work in a second leftover night if we need it.  We also eat leftovers for lunch at work.
Saturday:  Probably Pizza (see previous post for recipe)

Here are the recipes for this week's meals.

Sunday:  Stuffed Pepper Stoup
I love making stuffed peppers, so I figured I would try this soup/stew from my friend Rachel Ray.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 pounds ground sirloin
salt and black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 large onion, cut into bite-size dice
3 green bell peppers, seeded and cut into bite-size dice
1 bay leaf
1 quart chicken stock (4 cups)
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 cup orzo pasta
12 to 15 fresh basil leaves, shredded or torn
Grated parmesan to serve

Heat a medium soup pot over medium-high heat with the extra virgin olive oil.  When the oil is hot, add the beef and season with salt, pepper, and the allspice.  Cook the meat for 5 minutes or until browned, then add the garlic, onions, peppers, and bay leaf.  Cook for 7 to 8 minutes, until tender.  Stir in the stock and tomatoes and bring to a boil.  When the soup is bubbling, add the pasta and cook al dente, 7 to 8 minutes.  Turn off the heat and fold in the basil.  Discard the bay leaf.  Serve in bowls topped with some grated cheese.

Tuesday:  Grilled sausages, peppers, and onions on rolls
This recipe is something we come back to time and time again.  I had never had italian sausage until I met my husband.  His family introduced me to eating Italian Sausage sandwiches-so delicious!  This recipe kicks it up a notch with the balsamic vinegar and Worcestshire sauce with the veggies.

Feel free to increase the amount of sausage and rolls.  There will be PLENTY of veggies.

1 tbsp olive oil
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/4 inch rings
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1/4 inch rings
1medium onion, cut into 1/4 inch slices
1 tbsp Worcestshire sauce
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
4 sweet or hot Italian Sausages
2 sub rolls

Prepare grill.  (We use a grill pan when it's cold out) In a small bowl, drizzle 2 teaspoons oil over pepper rings, tossing to coat well.  Secure each slice of onion horizontally with a wooden pick to prevent separation, and brush with remaining teaspoon oil.  Grill peppers and onions 3 minutes on each side.  Transfer peppers and onions to a bowl, discarding picks, and toss with Worcestshire sauce and vinegar.  Prick sausages with a fork and grill, turning them, until golden, 10 to 15 minutes.  Halve sausages lengthwise and rolls horizontally and grill, cut sides down, 1 minute, or until sausages are cooked through, but juicy and rolls are toasted.

I always serve this with something light.  The sandwiches are very filling!  I'll probably serve it with a simple salad.

Wednesday:  Chicken with black beans and rice (adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook)
I need to use up my chicken drumsticks.  This looked yummy!

1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 1/2 to 3 pounds meaty chicken pieces
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 15-oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes with onion and green pepper, undrained
1 cup tomato juice
1 cup frozen whole kernel corn
1/3 uncooked long grain rice
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced

In a large resealable plastic bag combine flour, 1 teaspoon of the chili powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and black pepper.  Add chicken pieces, half at a time. Seal bag; shake to coat.
In a very large skillet heat oil over medium heat.  Add chicken; cook about 10 minutes or until brown on all sides, turning occasionally.  Remove chicken from skillet; set aside.  Discard drippings.
Add beans, undrained tomatoes, tomato juice, corn uncooked rice, water, 1/4 teaspoon salt, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, the cayenne pepper, and garlic to the skillet.  Bring to boiling.  Arrange chicken pieces on top of rice mixture.  Reduce heat to medium-low.  Cook, covered, for 35-40 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink and rice is tender.

Thursday:  Another breakfast for dinner-Mushroom and Sausage quiche  from the Paula Deen and Friends cookbook

0ne 9 inch refrigerated pie crust, fitted into a 9 inch glass pie plate
 one 1 pound package ground sausage
1 tbsp butter
1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/2 large Vidalia onion, chopped
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 cup cottage cheese
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
3 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon hot sauce
one 8 ounce package shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Crimp the edges of the crust.  In a large skillet, cook and drain the sausage, and set aside.  Wipe out the pan, and in the same pan, melt the butter over medium-high heat.  Add the mushrooms and onion, and saute for 5 minutes, or until tender.
Place the eggs, sour cream, cottage cheese, flour, Parmesan cheese, and hot sauce in a food processor and process until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl. 
Stir together the crumbled sausage, mushroom mixture, egg mixture, and Cheddar cheese, and spoon into the piecrust.  cover the edges of the piecrust with aluminum foil to prevent the crust from burning.
Bake for 50-60 minutes, until golden brown and the center is set.  Coll for 10 minutes and cut into 8 wedges.

Happy Eating everyone!  Let me know how the recipes turn out!

A Pleasing Pizza Pie

We love pizza in our house.  We  used to order out, but our lovely, rural Domino's got our order wrong two times in a row, so we scratched that idea.  Then we were doing the frozen pizza thing for a while until we ate one that was disgusting and overseasoned with salt and I didn't want to eat it anymore.  So, I was super excited when my Food Network magazine came one month and it was their Italian food issue.  They had a recipe for pizza dough.  I made it that weekend and Ryan, Tessa, and I now have no idea what take out pizza tastes like.  This recipe is a staple in our kitchen and there are times we make it once a week, if not every other week.  Here's the amazing recipe thanks to Food Network:

Basic Pizza Dough

1 tablespoon sugar
1   1/4 ounce packet (2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1.  Whisk 1 1/3 cups warm water (105degrees) and the sugar in the bowl.   (I just heat my water up in the microwave for about a minute and a half).  Sprinkle the yeast on top.  Set aside utnil foamy, about 10 minutes.  Stir in olive oil!  (Don't forget this step!  It makes a huge difference if you don't do this.  Believe me, I know.)
2.  Whisk the flour and salt in a large bowl.  make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the yeast mixture.  Gradually stir with a wooden spoon to make a rough dough.
3.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  Knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes, dusting with more flour if necessary.  Form into 2 balls.  Brush 2 large bowls.  Brush 2 large bowls with olive oil, add a ball of dough to each and turn to coat with the oil.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and set aside at room temp until doubled in size, about 1 hour, 30 minutes.  Roll out and top as desired, or wrap in plastic wrap and freeze up to 1 month.

Here are a few tricks I have learned when cooking pizza at home.  I used to not have a pizza stone, so I learned to take a cookie sheet and turn it upside down on the oven grate.  Turn the oven on high, like 450 degrees high.  Let the cookie sheet get really hot while the oven is preheating.  I have a pizza stone now, thanks to my Mama, and you can just leave that thing in the oven all the time.
Once the dough is on a pizza pan, or any other pan you want to use, cook it for about 5 minutes on top of the cookie sheet or pizza stone.  This step keeps the dough from being too doughy when the pizza is done.
Once the dough is slightly cooked, top it with pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese, pepperoni, or whatever your heart desires!  One of my faves is sausage, red onion, and green pepper.

We love that it makes two pizzas because then we have lunches for most  of the week to take to work.  Hope you like this recipe as much as we do!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Breakfast for Dinner is one of my faves!

It's Breakfast for Dinner tonight.  I love whipping this out at some point during the week.  Breakfast casseroles, quiche, waffles, French toast, etc.  It is so easy to make!  I created my own breakfast for dinner over the summer and I call them Breakfast Bundles.  They are a fun twist on an egg casserole.

Half of a green bell pepper, chopped
Half of a red onion, chopped
6-8 eggs
1-2 cups of shredded Swiss Cheese
1/2 cup of whipping cream
Dollop of Dijon mustard
1 Package of Sausage (ground or links, whatever you prefer)
Salt and Pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 400 Degrees F.  Lightly grease a muffin tin.
Saute the chopped green bell pepper and red onion in 1/2 tablespoon of butter in a saucepan.  Meanwhile, brown the sausage in another pan.  In a bowl, combine eggs, Swiss cheese, whipping cream, and Dijon mustard.  Whisk until combined. Once the pepper and onion are soft and tender and the sausage is browned, combine all ingredients in the bowl.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Once combined, spoon the mixture into greased muffin tin.  Bake in oven for about 15 minutes or until eggs are set in the tin.  Check after 15 minutes to see if you need to add more time.  This recipe makes a lot, but the "muffin-shaped" egg combination come out so cute and in a perfect serving size!

I will be serving these tonight with muffins I made from Southern Living and a fruit salad.  See the muffin recipe below:  They're called Sticky-Bun Pumpkin Muffins! 


  2 cups pecan halves and pieces
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (15-oz.) can pumpkin
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 4 large eggs


  • 1. Preheat oven to 350°. Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through.
  • 2. Stir together melted butter and next 2 ingredients. Spoon 1 rounded teaspoonful butter mixture into each cup of 2 lightly greased 12-cup muffin pans, and top each with 1 rounded tablespoonful pecans.
  • 3. Stir together flour and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl, and make a well in center of mixture. Whisk together pumpkin, next 2 ingredients, and 2/3 cup water; add to dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened.
  • 4. Spoon batter into prepared muffin pans, filling three-fourths full. Place an aluminum foil-lined jelly-roll pan on lower oven rack to catch any overflow.
  • 5. Bake at 350° on middle oven rack for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Invert pan immediately to remove muffins, and arrange muffins on a wire rack. Spoon any topping remaining in muffin cups over muffins. Let cool 5 minutes.
  • Pecan-Pumpkin Bread: Omit butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup. Substitute 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans for 2 cups pecan halves and pieces; toast as directed in Step 1. Omit Step 2. Prepare batter as directed in Step 3; stir in pecans. Spoon batter into 2 greased and floured 9- x 5-inch loafpans. Bake at 350° for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on a wire rack 10 minutes. Remove from pans to wire rack, and cool completely (about 1 hour). Makes: 2 loaves. Hands-on time: 20 min.; Total time 2 hr., 40 min