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!