Thursday, October 13, 2011

Sausage, Butternut Squash, and Rice Soup

     It's that time of year again... soup weather! I love soup weather. And we had a bit of a rain storm a few weeks back that made me immediately begin searching for a delicious looking soup recipe. And I found one.
This soup takes a bit of time, but it was quite worth it. Especially if you like sausage (Yes!), Butternut Squash (Yes!), Rice (Yes!), and Corn (Yes!)!!!

A 3-4 lb Butternut Squash
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
12 C chicken stock
2 1/2 C chopped onions
1 C wild rice (I didn't have wild rice, so I just used regular white rice, it was really good, but I'm interested in trying it with the wild rice next time).
3/4 lb smoked sausage, such as kielbasa, cut in half, then in half again
2 C fresh corn kernels (I cut my kernels right off the cob and tossed them in with the soup)
1 1/2 C half and half
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Peel, seed and slice your squash into 1 inch chunks. Be careful because this squash is difficult to peel. As you can tell, I bent my peeler. I had to buy a new one... YAH! I mean, darn!

Place the chunks onto a baking sheet lined with foil and toss with 1 tbsp of oil and salt and pepper (Make sure you don't slather it with the oil, just 1 tbsp, you'd be surprised at how far that tbsp will go. I've made the mistake of putting too much oil before, it doesn't roast right). 

Roast for 45 minutes to an hour, until tender. Remove from the oven. Using a spatula, gently move the pieces around so that they don't get stuck to the foil while cooling. Be careful so that the foil does not tear and then you'll be picking little tiny foil pieces out of your squash. 

Once the squash is cool, place in a blender or a food processor (I used a blendor, I think next time I'll use a processor, this was too much squash for a blender. I found it to be very tedious trying to shove the squash on top down to the bottom of the blender to be pureed. It was frustrating... learn from me. Unless, of course, all you have is a blender, then my suggestion is to work in batches), with 2 C of chicken stop and puree until smooth. 

In a saucepan over medium heat, add 4 C of stock and 1/2 C onions and bring to a simmer. Add the rice and cook until done, about an hour (Unless you use an instant type rice that doesn't take that long... my vote!). Remove and let cool.

In a large pot over medium, add a tbsp of oil. Add the sausage and brown for a few minutes. Add the rest of the onions and the corn and season with salt and pepper. Saute for a few minutes more. Add the last 6 C of stock and squash puree. Bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer for 20 minutes.

Sorry about the weird glare thing going on here
Stir in the rice and continue cooking for 10 more minutes. (There was no reason to continue cooking for another 10 minutes with the plain white rice, mental note for next time!)

Remove from the heat and stir in the half and half and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Garnish with parsley and dig into this delish soup!

Recipe Courtesy of: Emeril Lagasse (Maker of the best soups ever!)

Asian Ground Beef Lettuce Cups


     When we're looking for a starchless meal, I always go to Lettuce Cups. They're super easy, and full of flavor. I typically use chicken, and cut it up into small pieces. I found a new recipe that looked pretty good and thought I'd give it a shot, but, I didn't have any chicken, only ground beef. Still, I thought I'd try it and hope for the best. Well, my wishes were realized as this dish was super tasty! 
     The first time I made it, I didn't measure my soy sauce, and it was super salty. The second time I made sure to measure my soy sauce and it turned out much better. It was still really good the first time, just really salty. So, just make sure to measure that bad boy out.

1 Tbsp oil
1/2 - 3/4 C shredded carrots
1 celery rib, finely diced
1/2 red bell pepper finely diced
15 sugar snap peas, finely diced
1/2 C red onion
1 - 1 1/2 ground beef
Iceberg lettuce leaves (I usually use butter lettuce, but this was good too)
2 tbsp diced scallions (green onions)

1/2 C soy sauce
3 tbsp minced garlic
3 tbsp minced ginger
3 tbsp sambal hot sauce
3 tbsp apricot preserves
1/4 C rice vinegar
3 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tsp minced cilantro
2 tsp sesame seeds
1 tsp sesame oil
(Mix ingredients together and stir well before serving)

In a medium saucepan, brown the ground beef. Drain the beef and set aside. 

Add a tbsp oil to the skillet and add the vegetables and saute for a few minutes. 

Add the ground beef and mix together.

Add the Apricot Sambal sauce and scallions and let simmer for a few minutes so that the juices get all yummy together in the meat and veggies.

Add the beef mixture to a bowl. Place your lettuce leaves onto a plate and serve. 

I serve this out of one bowl, and give each of us a plate for our lettuce leaves. It makes it really easy to dish up, rather than trying to split the mixture between two plates, then one might want more or less than I served,  so one bowl works well for us. 

I know I said I use lettuce cups as starchless meals, but with this one I did make some white rice. I layered my rice then the beef mixture into the lettuce cup, rolled it up and chowed down. The rice helped to cut the saltiness of the soy sauce. It was really good. 

Super easy, super good, super flavorful! 

Recipe Courtesy of: Guy Fieri

Chile Verde

     Mmmmm, there's something so wonderful about sitting down at the end of the day, and diving into a meal that's been cooking all day long; very satisfying. The whole house smells like the delicious aroma of what's been simmering on the stove for hours, and it's intoxicating! The only thing is... you really have to plan out your day around the meal, b/c you have to make sure that you have enough time to do all the steps... especially when you have a little baby that is so demanding! geesh! :)

     Thankfully, said baby was extra wonderful on Saturday when I started this project. When she was down for her morning nap, around 9am, I thought I'd get started, and boy am I glad I did! While this Chile Verde is by no means hard at all, it can be considered a bit time consuming. Now, there are ways to get around this by buying canned tomatillos, jalapenos, garlic, chiles, etc. But, when you want the satisfaction of making things from scratch... you buy the ingredients and do the roasting yourself. Also, another way to cut time... a lot of time, is by buying your meat cut into chunks already... or at least asking your butcher to cut the meat up for you once you pick our your slab. I, however, did not do that... and cutting up the meat took the LONGEST time. I won't be doing that again, I don't care if the meat quality is slightly less. It got old after a half an hour of trying to cut chunks off a bone-y slab o' meat. Never again!

     This was pretty good! The husband liked it, and the guests enjoyed it as well. This is one of those meals that is a special occasion kinda meal. Enjoy!

1 1/2 lb tomatillos
8 garlic cloves (3 finely chopped, 5 unpeeled for roasting)
2 jalapenos, chopped (I kept in the seeds and membranes, and it had a bit of a kick, but not too much)
2 Anaheim or Pablano chiles
1 bunch cilantro leaves, cleaned

3 1/2 - 4 lbs pork sholder (pork butt), trimmed of fat and cut into 1-2 in chunks
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
2 yellow onions, chopped
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp cumin
2 1/2 C chicken stock


Here are your greens for the sauce:

onions, jalapenos, anaheim chiles, garlic, cilantro, and tomatillos

Get your broiler started, and place your 2 Anaheim chiles under the broiler and continue watching them closely, b/c you will need to turn them every so often to make sure they blacken on all sides. This took approximately 10 minutes; but SO much easier than putting them over an open flame on the stove and waiting as it blackens at a snails pace. 

Once the peppers are done, and completely black, place in a container and cover with plastic wrap to allow the skin to steam and come off easily. Let those chill and steam while you work on the tomatillos.

Take the husks off the tomatillos, and rinse. Be careful because they are quite sticky once you take the papery husks off. Slice the tomatillos in half and place on a foil-lined baking sheet, face down. Take your 3 unpeeled garlic and place on the pan with your tomatillos.

Here's the part where you can do one of two things, either broil or bake. I prefer broil b/c it takes a LOT less time. The only problem is... my broiler is under the oven, so I had to keep an eye out and continue bending over to check the tomatillos, which was a little irritating, but I prefer it to waiting for an hour or more for the tomatillos to roast in the oven. So go with your fancy. (If you roast in the oven, roast at about 350-400 for an hour or so). Otherwise... broil for 7-10 minutes. (B/c my broiler was under the stove, a pan wouldn't fit, so I had to place them on the broiler sheet individually with tongs, which was fine, just make sure those legs are bendy!)

Chop your jalapenos, and place in a blender, along with the tomatillos, cilantro leaves, the roasted garlic that you have now peeled, and the Anaheim chiles. (Once the tomatillos are done roasting, take your chiles out of the container and gently peal off the skin and chop. I kept the seeds) Pulse ingredients until smooth and all mixed together. It will smell wonderful!

The next step is a bit frustrating... only because the pork butt can be a little hard to cut if you get a whole chunk of it. Next time, I will definitely get the meat pre-cut, this step took up way too much time! While everything is roasting, begin cutting the meat into chunks. Pour a tbsp of oil into a hot skillet. Place some flour in a bowl, and put a few chunks into the bowl and roll 'em around to coat. Working in batches, so that the meat will brown evenly and get a nice crispy coating to it, put some of the meat into the skillet and cook for a minute on each side. Transfer the meat to a bowl and set aside.

You can do this next step at the same time as the meat, or wait until you are finished with the meat (I tried to save time so I did this step while the meat was cooking and then just transferred the meat right into the pot). In a large pot, add the chopped onion and garlic and cook for a few minutes. Add the meat, oregano, and cumin. Let the seasonings cook into the meat for a minute before adding the tomatillo mixture. Then add the chicken stock and season with salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Let cook for 2-3 hours.

Serve with white rice and tortillas. Mmmm starch and more starch!
And, those I served this dish to liked the addition of some sour cream.

Recipe Courtesy of: Simply Recipes

Taco Salad

     Game night at church is the second Friday of every month. And I love it! I love getting to meet up with people from church and chat with them and catch up on things we don't have time to talk about on Sunday morning. But, the best part: the food everyone brings! I always try to change it up and bring something fun and interesting. Even though I love to bake, usually we have a ridiculous amount of dessert, so I am resigned to bring a dinner type of dish each month; which is great, because it allows me to find new recipes to try that I normally wouldn't.
     Last month I was looking for something fun and different, and I came across a Taco Salad recipe. We love taco salad. When I started dating Grant he introduced me to the addition of Catalina dressing poured on top of the salad. I thought it might be kinda weird at first, but because I love Catalina dressing, I was all about trying it... and it was SO delish! I will never go back to having a normal taco salad!
     What I like about this recipe though, is that it adds a little something I didn't used to include, beans. Duh, Meghan! I don't know why I never thought of it before. Needless to say this recipe is super delish, and I could not have received more compliments throughout the evening on it.
     So, the next time you are looking for something easy and fast, yet still not skimping on taste, try this one out!

2 lb ground beef (We like things meaty, so I added the extra half pound)
2 packets of taco seasoning mix (I just use my McKormick seasoning container from Costco!, and A LOT of it! Season that meat up baby! Make it tasty!)
1 bag shredded lettuce
2 Cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 Cup chopped tomatoes
2 Cup chopped onions
1 medium can of sliced olives (I give them a rough chop)
2 15oz cans Ranch style beans (1 used S&W, and they're exact title is Chili Beans in a Zesty Tomato Sauce)
1 bag of corn chips (I used the small ones to make it more bite size)
1 16oz bottle Catalina dressing
1 12oz jar salsa

**This makes a pretty good amount of salad, so if it's just for 2 people, I might cut it in half. Although, every time I make it I wish there were leftovers, so I would probably make this amount and save it for meals later. Obviously, don't mix it all together though or some of the ingredients will be soggy and wilty.

Brown the ground beef and onion, and drain. Add the Taco seasoning mix and 1 C water and simmer for roughly 10 minutes or until the meat has soaked up all the water, making it all kindsa juicy!

Add the beans with some of the juices to the pan and continue simmering for however long you like, I simmered for about 10-15 minutes.

In a bowl, add the chips, the ground beef and bean mixture, tomatoes, lettuce, olives, Catalina dressing, and salsa. Mix this delish concoction together until everything is married together with screams of joy! Sprinkle cheese on top, dish and devour!

You could even add sour cream as well, but I chose to stick to the recipe this time, and it was really tasty!
You will not be upset about trying this one folks!

Recipe Adapted from: Taste of Home

Monday, September 12, 2011

Beef and Mushroom Lasagna

         There was one dish that my Nana would always make whenever we would drive the ten hours to visit her and my grandfather in Weed, CA; and that was lasagna. It was her signature dish. I remember it would take so long to make, and no one was allowed in the kitchen while she was cooking... it was agony. Of course I just wanted to go into the kitchen since I wasn't allowed... I was just one small little person right?
     I remember loving lasagna back then. I've come to realize that I think I loved the idea of my Nana spending so much time putting her love into that lasagna for us much more than I actually loved the lasagna. I've had many different types of lasagna, and I've made it myself many times, and I never feel overjoyed after eating it. Ever.
     I'll be honest, I actually do like some lasagna... you know, the frozen kind? Embarrassing right? Oh well, I admit it. So, that leads me to tonight's recipe... Corned Beef and Cabbage... Just kidding, Lasagna. While I didn't think it was the best thing ever, I do think that it was pretty good for what it was... a quick lasagna that didn't take a lot of prep, using fast ingredients. But, I do think that with a couple changes, I could make it into something that I'd love. I will probably make my own Bechemel sauce next time instead of using the Cream of Mushroom, and I'd add sauteed mushrooms. I would also probably spring for a jar of sauce that was a richer in taste, and probably use more than just one jar (for leftovers, it wasn't sauce-y enough for me).
     While I didn't think it was the best, Grant thought it was really good, and went back for seconds. He didn't mind the Cream of Mushroom taste. So I guess that's a good sign. (Although, once I made a super fancy lasagna, using wine and everything, and he hated it... he doesn't really care for super fancy foods. He tends to like simple comfort foods, like the time I made him Beef Stroganoff... again, that's for another time)

1 can of Campbell's Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup
1/2 C Milk
1- 1 /12 lb Ground beef
1 jar Spaghetti sauce (I used Marinara, I might use something different next time)
1 box of Barilla No Boil Lasagna noodles
8 oz Mozzarella, shredded
Italian seasonings
Garlic Powder or fresh garlic
dash of salt
dash of crushed red pepper for a little spicy kick if ya like

If using regular lasagna noodles, prepare those. Otherwise, get started:

In a medium skillet, brown the ground beef. Drain any fat and add your seasonings: Garlic powder, salt, red pepper, and Italian Seasonings.

In a medium bowl, mix together the Cream of Mushroom Soup and 1/2 C milk.

When finished, add the jar of spaghetti sauce, saving just a little to lightly cover the bottom of your 9x13 baking pan.

In your baking pan (that has a little bit of sauce on the bottom), overlap 4 of the No Boil Noodles (or 3 regular noodles). Spread half of the ground beef mixture on top of the noodles. Lay another layer of the noodles on top.

Spread half of the Cream of Mushroom soup over the noodles, and top with half of the cheese and another layer of noodles.

Repeat the last two steps one more time.

Place in the oven at 350 for 45 minutes. The outside of the noodles won't look completely finished, but the inside will be done. (In an effort to avoid this, next time I would soak the No Boil noodles in some water for 5 minutes or so, shedding the cooking time).

So while I would make a few changes, this wasn't too bad. Especially if you're looking for something quick and easy. I think this could be just a launching pad for all different types of fast and easy lasagnas. It was great because once the lasagna was in the oven and I turned around to clean things up, I noticed I didn't have a load of crap to clean... and that was the best part of this dish!

Recipe Courtesy of: Kitchen Daily

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


Okay, I don't think that my little cooking heart could be happier right now!

Look at this super duper adorable Play Kitchen! oooo, be still my heart!
Here's the crazy part... it was made from a small dresser... yup! a dresser! Craziness right?!
I can't wait until Abby is older and she can help me cook in the kitchen... I just hope I have the patience to let her help me! She will be a chef one day... in my dreams of course...

Monday, September 5, 2011

Coconut Sherbet Pie

     Doesn't everyone call it SherbeRt? Well, you're wrong! Just so ya know. I always used to call it SherbeRt... until I had a very anal friend correct me... it's in fact, sherbet... no R. I would laugh so hard b/c it used to irritate her so much when people called it sherbert instead of sherbet. People and their weird anal quirks. I have 'em too, so I can't really argue with her too much!

     Looking for the perfect summer dessert? Look no further! This is it... you found it!

     Let me tell you how delicious this is! Oh Dear Goodness! This will not disappoint... if you like sherbet of course! I made this Saturday night for dessert when we went over to a friends house for dinner. They made some delicious tri-tip, baked potato, and a fancy salad. Plus, for appetizers, we had virgin Strawberry Margaritas, a fruit tray with some really tasty cheese, as well as some cream cheese topped with spicy jalapeno jelly with crackers. Crazy right?! It was sooo good. I felt so spoiled... and stuffed at the end of the night!

     This would also be good with other kinds of sherbet too... I'll have to try that out!

1 pkg of Mothers Coconut Macaroons
1/2 C whipping cream or milk
3/4 C sliced almonds
1 carton of sherbet (orange, lime, and raspberry flavored)

Take out the sherbet, so it can start softening while you work on the cookies.

In a large zip top bag, filled with the entire pkg of cookies and the almonds, crush them together with a rolling pin (make sure to crush it by rolling the pin over the cookies, and not banging the bag, you'll be adding liquid, so you don't want to go poking holes everywhere!). Reserve 1/2 C of the mixture for the topping before you add the liquid.

Add 1/2 C whipping cream or milk and mix together. Press the cookie mixture onto the bottom of a 9 inch spring-form pan. I would also wrap the outside of the pan with some foil so that in case any of the sherbet leaks out, it doesn't get everywhere.

Using an ice cream scoop, scoop the sherbet and begin filling in the pan. I went in a circle, placing the scoops side by side, trying to make sure that the flavors were evenly blended. Work quickly as your sherbet is probably beginning to melt now.

Now, using your way awesomely cool spatula (remember from the Butterscotch Brownies recipe?) and spread the sherbet around making a flat surface.

Sprinkle the reserved cookie mixture over the top of the sherbet and place in the freezer for at least 8 hours.

Enjoy this wonderful dessert. Everyone really enjoyed this at dinner.
And of course because I didn't look for a carton of the sherbet, I ended up with a whole gallon. Imagine trying to fit a spring-form pan and a gallon of sherbet in your freezer along with everything it normally holds... oh dear... and trying to make it all fit before it all melts... holy cow!

Recipe Courtesy of: Lesli Anderson (good friend)

BBQ Chicken Enchiladas

     Who doesn't love a good enchilada?! I know I do!

     I like making enchiladas, and I really try to make them as authentically as possible... besides the whole making-your-own-sauce thing... which probably is a setback on making them authentically, but o well.

     I recently had some friends over... friends from Mexico... and of course Grant requested enchiladas for dinner... way to go Grant. Invite the Mexicans over for my wanna-be-Mexican-enchiladas, and I'll try not to embarrass myself. They were very gracious of course. But, I chose to use the time as a chance to ask them how to really make enchiladas authentically. They proceeded to give me a whole speech about how to make them.... did you know that authentic enchiladas are NOT baked in the oven? WHAT?! That's outrageous! There's some kind of cool pot type of thing that they use... I won't try to explain it... but trust me... it's cool! I told Grant that I needed one of those things... stat! yeah right... that thing will never see the light of my kitchen!

     The other day I found a recipe for enchiladas with a twist... BBQ Chicken enchiladas... wow! I just knew I had to try this out! And I was not disappointed! These were pretty tasty, and Grant and my mom agreed that these were good. What's better... they could NOT be easier! These are in no way trying to be authentic at all, which I love. I probably should invite my Mexican friends over for this enchilada dish, b/c it's so different that it wouldn't seem like I was poorly trying to make enchiladas like they are used to.


8 large tortillas (I am not used to buying Large tortillas, I'm used to small ones, so this was weird!)
1 roasted chicken, shredded
28 oz can red enchilada sauce (I used Las Palmas, which isn't my favorite, but it was good with this, it's definitely got a spicy kick though, so if you want something more mild, try my favorite brand, La Victoria)
1/2 C BBQ sauce (I used Sweet Baby Rays Brown Sugar)
1/2 large sweet onion, sliced
1 tbsp BBQ seasoning (I used McCormick... it smells soooo tasty!)
Pinch of Cayenne
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 C shredded cheddar cheese
1 C shredded Mozzarella


Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over low heat and sprinkle with a little salt to sweat those puppies out and get the juices going. Stir occasionally for 10 minutes until they start turning a golden brown color.

In a medium bowl, mix together the enchilada sauce and the BBQ sauce; dip your finger in there and taste it to make sure that you like the balance of flavors. I added another giant squirt of BBQ sauce.

Once the onions look nice and golden-y, add the shredded chicken, half of the cheese, and 1 C of the sauce mixture. Let saute for a few minutes to get all the chicken gooey with the cheese and sauce. Restrain yourself from eating all the chicken right then.

Pour a little sauce at the bottom of a 9x13 casserole dish, and begin making your enchiladas. Put an 1/8 of the chicken mixture onto a tortilla, wrap it up, and place in the casserole dish. I made four at a time before wrapping them up just to make sure that they were all evenly stuffed. Then squish the enchiladas over to fit the other four.

Pour the remaining sauce mixture over the top and then top with the rest of the shredded cheese.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes.

These enchiladas are HUGE! You'll think that you might need to double the recipe b/c you're only making 8 enchiladas... but trust me... you don't need to. I only ate one enchilada, and I was full. You might have 2 at the most, but not more than that probably... these are big. Remember, you're using Large tortillas, not your normal small tortillas that you normally see enchiladas made out of. It's almost like a small burrito!

These were so tasty! Given 'em a try, so good and super easy!
Ps. Don't you just love my Lego plates? Classy right?

Recipe Courtesy of: how Sweet it is

Friday, September 2, 2011

Sloppy Joe Stuffed Bell Peppers

     Sometimes you run across a recipe, and you wonder why you never thought of that before yourself! This is one of those... although, I don't make sloppy joe's all that much, it just seemed like such a genius idea, I was a little upset with myself for not thinking of it first. I adapted this recipe that I found from No Reason Needed, and the link can be found at the bottom.

     Who doesn't love a good sloppy joe... and who doesn't love a good stuffed bell pepper? Why not combine them? Although, I will say that while I make a good sloppy joe, I'm still trying to master the stuffed bell pepper. Stouffer's makes such a great stuffed pepper, that I've been trying to recreate it, but with no success so far. If you haven't tried their frozen stuffed bell pepper dish yet, you should. Well, only if you like green bell peppers stuffed with ground beef, rice, and submerged in a healthy amount of tomato sauce... then heck yes. And if you're looking for a healthier frozen meal, that's it, I can tell you that much!

     I thought this meal was pretty good actually, however, my husband was too lazy to cut the pepper into pieces and eat it TOGETHER!, instead he just ate the sloppy joe part out of the pepper, and then sucked the pepper dry, maybe taking a bite of it here and there... eesh! He said he would prefer it over a bed of rice next time... Why not just in a bun like an actual sloppy joe?! I don't know, he's crazy!

     I don't think I have ever said this before, and I doubt I'll ever say it again... but I actually could have done without the cheese on this dish... WEIRD! I know. For some reason it just didn't jive with the sloppy joe part for me. Thankfully I didn't mix it in... which might have made it better, I don't know.

1 lb ground beef
1/2 large onion, or one small onion, diced
4 green peppers (make sure the bottoms will sit flat)
1 clove garlic
1 tsp Chili powder
1 tsp Paprika
2 Tbsp Molasses
1/2 C Ketchup
2 Tbsp Yellow Mustard
3 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar, or White vinegar is fine too
2 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
1/2 C shredded Mozzarella and Cheddar cheese, or whatever cheese floats your boat

Slice the tops of your green peppers off, but reserve the tops and dice them up.
Bring a large pot of water to boil, and add your bell peppers. Boil for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, saute the diced onion and green pepper tops in a tbsp olive oil and garlic.

These are the ingredients you will add; except that I forgot to picture the brown sugar.

Add your ingredients, and it will look like this. Now, I'm all about seasoning that meat up as much as possible, so I always like to add my seasonings to meat first, let it soak it, and then add any liquids.

After adding in all the ingredients, including the liquid, here's what it will look like:
It doesn't necessarily look totally appetizing, but it tasted good.

Once the peppers are done boiling, take them out and drain them while the meat finishes cooking.
When the meat is done, put foil in the bottom of an 8x8 baking dish and place the peppers standing up in the dish.
Scoop the meat mixture into the peppers, there was just enough for the 4 peppers.

Place a handful of cheese on top of each pepper and place in a 350 degree oven for roughly 15 minutes.

Recipe Courtesy of: No Reason Needed

Rigatoni with Asparagus and Bacon

     Who doesn't love bacon? Right?! Everyone!

     I came across this recipe a few days ago and knew I had to try it! The husband doesn't care for asparagus much, but, with a little bacon mixed in, and cheese... I thought he'd forgive me.... and I think he did! He said he enjoyed this dish. We had the leftovers for lunch today, and we were not disappointed! This dish could not be easier and tastier! You won't be upset you tried it! Of course... I'd add more bacon... cause, more bacon never hurt anyone!

1 box Rigatoni
1 lb asparagus, cut into roughly the same size as the rigatoni
8 Bacon strips... next time, I'll probably use the whole pkg. (I used thick cut bacon... so good!)
1 clove garlic
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
2/3 C half and half
1/2 C shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 C freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 C fresh parsley

Bring water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook to al dente, 12 minutes; drain.

Meanwhile, in a skillet, begin to cook the bacon (remember, low and slow!);
Remove and drain on paper towel.

Bring water to a boil in the same pot and add the chopped asparagus and boil for 3 minutes.
Drain and add to ice cold water.

In a large skillet, add the garlic, butter and oil (mmmmm, such a great combination!).
Add the half and half and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for another few minutes.

While the sauce is thickening, chop your bacon into pieces.

Here comes the good part: Stir the shredded mozzarella cheese into the sauce and stir until melted.
The sauce will become this at this point.

Add the rigatoni, salt, asparagus and bacon. Stir to combine all those yummy ingredients!

Grate the Parmesan cheese right onto each dish, and sprinkle with fresh parsley.
Enjoy this delicious concoction that I will be adding to my list of recipes now!

     And because I can't leave well enough alone, I added some sausage... also because I'm sure that no matter how tasty my husband thought this dish was, he would have been wondering where the meat was.

Recipe Courtesy of: The Daily Dish

Fresh Garden Pasta with Chicken Sausage

     I love sausage! I could eat it all the time! So, when there is a sausage sale at the store, I stock up!

     At my last grocery store visit, I came across Johnsonville's new line of chicken sausages (on sale), so I decided to give 'em a whirl! I tried the Italian style sausage with Mozzarella and Romano cheese, Red pepper, onion and garlic. I was trying to figure out how to prepare these sausages, but I just couldn't decide. I usually make sausages with bell peppers, onions and some kind of sauce, like Marinara. It's really good, but I wanted to change things up a bit. I noticed that the back of the label had a recipe for the sausages on it, score! The only problem, it said to mix the dish with Italian dressing, and that just didn't sit well with me, as much as I like Italian dressing. So this recipe is adapted from the recipe on the back of the Johnsonville label.

     This recipe was really good! I was quite surprised because we usually like really sauce-y things. And I kept this recipe really light, hence the Fresh Garden part of the recipe title. I wanted the ingredients to really stand out and speak for themselves without being muddled by a heavy sauce. I had some fresh basil, but it was bad, so I didn't use it, but if it was still good, I woulda put that all over this dish. Instead, I settled for some dry herbs, which were just as great. Since there aren't very many items in this dish, it's important to use fresh ingredients so that it will taste really good.

3/4 lb Rigatoni 
1 pkg Johnsonville Italian Style Chicken Sausages, sliced
1 head of broccoli, trimmed down to small 1 inch trees (nice description right?!)
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into strips
1/2 pkg grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1 tsp crushed garlic, or 1 clove garlic
1 tsp crushed Red Pepper flakes
1 tsp McCormick Italian Herb Seasoning Grinder (seriously, this stuff is worth the purchase!)
dash of salt
Olive oil
Freshly grated Parmesan Cheese

Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Once boiling add your pasta.
The Rigatoni is al dente at 12 minutes, so at about 10 minutes add your Broccoli to the pasta.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over med-high heat add a tbsp of olive oil. 
Add the sausage and bell peppers, stir together.
Add the garlic, red pepper flakes and Italian seasonings, stir together. 

When you add the broccoli to the pasta, add the sliced grape tomatoes to the sausage mixture, along with 2 big swirls of olive oil. Stir together.

Drain the pasta and broccoli and add to the sausage mixture and stir to combine. Add more italian seasonings to taste, as well as salt. 

Dish it up and grate a healthy amount of Parmesan cheese over each dish. 

Super fresh, super simp, super delish!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Butterscotch Brownies with Brown Sugar Butter Icing

      We went over to our new friends' house for dinner the other night and I volunteered to make dessert, cause hello! I began the hunt for just the right recipe! We were having grilled bbq chicken (which was so tasty! I love home-made bbq sauce!), corn on the cob, salad, and watermelon, and I wanted a dessert that would blend with that. I immediately pictured some kind of handheld bar of some type. I searched and searched, and ended up using a recipe that I already had in my dessert folder, waiting to be tested! My husband agreed that this was the dessert!

     Now, if you're a diabetic, or have any issues with sugar... do not venture any closer! You will be swallowed by the amount of sugar in these bars. But who am I kidding myself... I'm willing to go into a sugar coma for something this tasty! So bring it on!

     Start out by beating together the butter and sugar until fluffy.

Then add your eggs and vanilla and beat until their all lovey dovey.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt and mix well. 
Then add the flour mixture, in 3 different batches, to the sugar mixture and mix on low until incorporated.

It should look like this when you're done.

Add your chopped pecans and blend one more time.

Pour batter onto a greased half sheet and realize that it's too thick to spread with a spatula.

So, whip out your way cool little angled cake spatula 
(if you don't have one of these, get one, they make life easier!)

And easily spread the batter!

Then, lick the spatula, of course! Holy cow! Delicious!
I'm not preggers anymore, so I can do that now!
Unless you're my friend Sara who has some weird phobia of licking any batter off the utensils... Crazy!

Then bake for 25-30 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Let cool for 30 minutes.

Now for the icing: in a saucepan over medium, melt the butter and sugar.
Once a little bubbly, turn down to low and stir for 2 minutes.

Beat together the powdered sugar, half and half and vanilla until creamy.
Then add in the melted butter mixture slowly, and beat until combined.

It will look like this when it's all finished. Yummy! Lick those beaters! Don't waste that!

Use the cool spatula again to spread the warm caramel-y frosting over the brownies.
I had about 1/2 to 1 cup left of frosting that I didn't use.
Move quick because the frosting begins to dry immediately.

Let the frosting sit for 30 minutes so it hardens and it cuts clean. 
Then pray that you have the ability to wait 30 minutes!

Oh dear are these tasty! 

Butterscotch Brownies with Brown Sugar Butter Icing


For the Brownies: 
1 C (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 C brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 tbsp vanilla
3 C flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 C chopped pecans (mine were salted, so it made the brownies extra tasty!)

For the Frosting:
1 C (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 C brown sugar
4 C powdered sugar
1/3 C half and half
1 tbsp vanilla


Preheat oven to 350, and line a half sheet (13x18 in) pan with foil and grease (use the paper the butter was in to grease since you have that already)

Blend together the butter and sugar on med until fluffy, about 2 minutes. 
Add eggs and vanilla and beat for another minute.

In another bowl mix your dry ingredients (Flour, baking powder, and salt).
Beat dry ingredients into the wet ingredients on low until fully mixed together.

Stir in the pecans and pour into the greased baking sheet, smoothing it down with your cool spatula.
Bake until kinda fluffy (25-30 minutes) and cool completely before frosting.

Melt the butter and sugar on the stove in a small pan.
Once it begins to bubbly a little bit, turn down the heat and stir occasionally for 2 more minutes.

In a bowl, mix together the half and half with the vanilla and powdered sugar until creamy.
Slowly pour in the butter mixture and mix together until all yummy and tan looking.

Working quickly, pour frosting over the brownies and use the cool spatula to spread it. 
Let the brownies sit for another 30 minutes to allow the frosting to set so that it is easier to cut.

The directions suggest wrapping the brownies in strips of parchment paper for a cute look, and to keep the frosting from sticking if you stack them. 

They will keep for up to 3 days in an air-tight container.
So excuse me while I go scarf down the rest of the brownies since I only have one more day until they go bad... the things I do in the name of cooking! Pity me! 

Recipe courtesy of: iVillage