Friday, November 27, 2009

Broccoli Salad

This recipe is being posted at the request of my cousin Kat.  My mom made it for Thanksgiving and so she asked that it be posted.  I like to think that it's slightly healthy because it's broccoli but let's be's slathered in miracle whip and garnished with cheese cubes and bacon.  I use fat free/light miracle whip but still...negation of the healthy factor!  I love this recipe but normally reserve it for the summer/picnicing months so had she not requested it, this recipe would have taken at least another 6 months or so to be shared with you all :).  Since Chris does not eat Miracle Whip, he doesn't partake in this dish and hence another reason I don't personally make this one often (will usually opt for the Pasta Salad instead).  Anyway, here you go.  Enjoy!

Broccoli Salad
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  • 1/2 lb. bacon, fried crisp and crumbled
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, cubed
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 head fresh broccoli, florets cut into bite size pieces
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup Miracle Whip
  1. In a small bowl, mix together dressing ingredients.  Cover and refridgerate until ready to serve.
  2. In a large bowl, toss together salad ingredients.  When ready to serve, add dressing and toss to coat.
Source: Mary Lynn N. (Chris' Mom)

Pumpkin Fluff Dip

In addition to my Mac and Cheese potluck contribution for Thanksgiving I always try to bring either an appetizer or a dessert.  My family's Thanksgiving celebration is never in short supply of food and we graze all day so these types of dishes work well.  I chose this dip because of its ease of preparation and the fact that it would be a relatively light dish compared to everything else we'd be eating all day.  According to the directions, this is best prepared the night before because it helps the flavors to meld and yields a smoother texture (allows the pudding granules to fully dissolve).  It turned out well and was well received!  I think if I make it again, I might try cheesecake flavored pudding to give it a slight twist.  Yum!

Pumpkin Fluff Dip
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Prep Time: 5 Min
Ready In: 5 Min
Yields: 32 Servings

  • 1 (16 ounce) container whipped topping, thawed
  • 1 (5 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 (15 ounce) can solid pack pumpkin
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

  1. In a large bowl, mix together instant vanilla pudding mix, pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice.
  2. Fold in the whipped topping.
  3. Chill in the refrigerator until serving.  Overnight is best to let flavor and textures meld, if you have time.  Serve with (cinnamon) graham cracker sticks and sliced green apples.
Source: All recipes

Baked Mac and Cheese

After searching the internet high and low I found a recipe that, based on reviews and a great comparison by Annie, I thought might meet my food family's expectations for a potlucked Thanksgiving dish.  I love cheese.  Sadly, by the time we were ready to serve, this wasn't as hot as I would have liked to have served it but still pretty good.  I doubled the recipe to serve our enormous crowd.

Baked Mac and Cheese
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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Ready In: 35 minutes

  • 4 cups uncooked macaroni
  • 4 tbsp. butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 2 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 lb. cheese, grated (I used all sharp and mild cheddar, but I’m sure a combination would be great too)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • Dashes of cayenne, paprika, thyme, onion powder, and garlic powder (optional) – (I used all of them)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cook macaroni according to package directions until slightly firm (about 5 minutes - undercook the macaroni!). Drain and set aside.
  3. In a large pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in the flour and cook the mixture for five minutes, whisking constantly and being careful not to burn.
  4. Add the milk to the pot, stir in the dry mustard, and whisk until smooth. Cook the mixture for five minutes until very thick. Reduce the heat to low.
  5. Add the beaten egg to a small bowl. Take 1/4 cup of the warm sauce and slowly pour it into the beaten egg, whisking constantly to avoid scrambling the egg. Whisk until smooth. Pour the tempered egg mixture back into the sauce, whisking constantly. Stir until smooth.
  6. Mix in the cheese, reserving a handful for topping, and stir until completely melted. Add in salt and other seasonings. Taste and adjust seasonings accordingly.
  7. Add the drained cooked macaroni to the pot and mix well.
  8. Pour the mixture into a baking dish, top with reserved cheese, and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden and bubbly on top.
Source: Pioneer Woman, modified from as see on Annie's Eats

Sweet Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin

Sorry, a little behind on posting recipes this past week with all the Holiday preparations ahead.  I  had bought a nice pork loin on sale at Kroger this week and had some bacon leftover from when I made the Loaded Baked Potato Soup so this is what my search yielded.  I thought it was really tasty but was annoyed that it took wayyy longer than anticipated to cook.  I used a 1lb roast and in theory it should have been ready in like 20-30 mins but it took at least a good hour.  I kept all of the sauce ingredients the same ratio as the original recipe despite my smaller cut of meat and marinated it overnight instead of just pouring the sauce over the meat before cooking.  Anyway, yummy goodness  either way.

Sweet Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin
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Prep Time: 20 Min
Cook Time: 60 Min
Ready In: 1 Hr 20 Min
Yields: 8 Servings

  • 1 (3 pound) boneless pork loin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 slices bacon
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons dry red wine
  • 1 sweet onion, minced (used a generous sprinkle dried)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary (used 1/3 Tablespoon dried)
  • 2 tablespoons golden raisins (omitted)
  1. Combine honey, balsamic vinegar, wine, onion, rosemary, salt, and pepper.  Add pork loin and marinate overnight.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Line a shallow roasting pan with aluminum foil.
  3. Remove pork loin from marindade and wrap the bacon slices around the pork loin and secure with toothpicks.
  4. Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat, then add the pork loin. Cook until golden brown on all sides, about 10 minutes, then place onto roasting pan. Pour sauce over pork loin.
  5. Roast the pork loin in preheated oven for 15 minutes, then sprinkle with raisins. Continue cooking until the internal temperature of the pork loin reaches 160 degrees F (70 degrees C), about 40 minutes more (20-30 minutes per pound). Remove from the oven, and allow to rest for 5 minutes before removing toothpicks and slicing.
Source: modified from All Recipes

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

I was torn on what soup to make next so I posed a poll on a local message board that I frequent.  For awhile, Zuppa Toscana was winning but in the end, Loaded Potato Soup edged out for the win.  I'm glad it did because this was fabulous.  Definitely worth keeping in the soup files :).  It made for a quick lunch (I'm pretty sure peeling the potatoes was what took the longest!  I'm a slow peeler!) and some leftovers for the week.  Mmm mmm good...and  much better than Campbell's hehe!

Loaded Baked Potato Soup
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Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
Ready In: 30 mins
Yields: 4 Servings


  • 5 bacon strips, diced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 cups (2 cans) chicken broth
  • 2-3 large baked potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 cup half-and-half cream (used 1 cup evaporated 2% milk; regular milk would also work)
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • Salt, to taste
  • Green onions or chives, sliced
  • Sour cream (optional)

  1. In a large saucepan, cook bacon until crisp. Drain, reserving about 1 tablespoon of drippings. Set bacon aside on papertowel covered plate to drain.
  2. Saute onion and garlic in the drippings until tender, taking care so  that garlic does not burn. 
  3. Stir in flour, salt, basil and pepper; mix well.
  4. Gradually add broth. Bring to boil; boil and stir for 2 minutes.
  5. Add most of the potatoes (reserve some in case mixture is too thin), cream or milk, cheese, and hot pepper sauce; heat through but DO NOT BOIL, stir continuously.  If mixture is too thin, mash some of the potatoes and add to broth or add some potato flakes.  If mixture is too thick, add more liquid (broth, cream, milk, or water).
  6. Garnish with bacon, sour cream, green onions, and additional cheese, if desired.
Source: modified from All Recipes

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Milky Way Cake

I "built" this cake for my brother's birthday.  One of his favorite candy bars is Milky Way and I happened to have an entire bag of fun-size Milky Ways leftover from Halloween so I googled "Milky Way Cake".  I got a lot of hits for this recipe by Paula Deen and I know she's the Queen of Butter but omigod there are 3 sticks of butter in the cake and another stick in the frosting!!!  Add to that tons of candy and shoot this is just beyond unhealthy lol!

Anyway, I didn't make the frosting this time but will include the original recipe.  Once I saw that it had sugar boiling directions (similar to my failed fudge) I decided that I didn't yet have enough courage to give it a try.  So, I bought a can of Duncan Hines Whipped Chocolate Frosting.  I also omitted all of the nuts because my brother is allergic but I bet those and the frosting would have been a delicious addition.  My fun size bag was about 3oz short on the total amount of Milky Ways but I figured it was good enough.  I made a 2-layer cake instead of 3 because I only own 2 round cake pans...just add some additional baking time.  I also broke out the big guns to make this cake...the new red Kitchen Aid Professional Stand Mixer that my parents bought me for our housewarming party.

Here are some pictures of my actual cake and a picture with my brother...

Milky Way Cake
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Photo Credit: Love at First Bite

Yields: 16-20 servings


For Cake:
  • Confectioners' sugar or cocoa  powder, for dusting pans
  • 8 (1 3/4 ounce) Milky Way bars
  • 1 1/2 cups butter
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs, well beaten
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For Icing:
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 cup marshmallow cream
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 6 ounces chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  1. Preheat the oven to 325ºF. Grease three 9-inch cake pans and dust them with confectioner's sugar. To make the cake, melt the Milky Way bars with 1 stick of butter. Remove from heat and let cool.
  2. Cream the remaining 2 sticks of butter with the granulated sugar. Add the beaten eggs and the cooled chocolate mixture. Sift the flour and the baking soda together. Alternately add the flour and buttermilk to the batter, blending well. Add the nuts and vanilla.
  3. Divide the batter among the prepared pans and bake for 30-40 minutes or until the cake is firm to the touch. Cool for 5 minutes, remove from the pans and place on cooling racks.
  4. While the cake cools prepare the icing. Combine the sugar and milk in a heavy saucepan. Cook to the soft-ball stage (234 degrees on a candy thermometer). Remove the pan from the heat and add the marshmallow cream, butter and chocolate chips, stirring until melted. Add the pecans. When the cake has cooled completely, frost each layer, sides and top of the Milky Way Cake.
Source: Paula Deen as seen on Love at First Bite

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Classic Pot Roast

I'll be honest, I was a bit disappointed with this recipe.  Maybe it was the cut of meat that I had bought (it was labled as being for a pot roast!) or I just did something wrong but the gravy that this created was so oily it just turned me off...and made my stomach hurt!  Not what I was expecting from a Cooking Light recipe :(.  I also found it to be rather bland...something was definitely missing even though I even used fresh thyme leaves from the plant my Aunt Ying gave us for our housewarming and freshly ground pepper and sea salt.  I much prefer my other Crockpot Pot Roast recipe (which, I'll probably make sometime this winter and post...or if you really want it now, leave a comment).  It was more complicated than my other recipe, too (I even did the crockpot version that Sara developed!).  The flouring and searing of the roast didn't seem to add anything versus the recipe I typically use. 

Net, I probably won't be making this one again but here it is for those who are interested.

Classic Pot Roast
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10 servings (serving size: 3 ounces roast, about 3/4 cup vegetables, and about 3 tablespoons cooking liquid)

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 3-lb boneless chuck roast, trimmed
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • Flour
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped onion
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 4 thyme sprigs
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 14-oz can fat-free, less-sodium beef broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces (used about 3/4 of a small bag of baby carrots)
  • 2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • Fresh thyme leaves (optional)

Oven method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350º.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chuck roast with salt and pepper, and evenly coat the roast with flour.
  3. Add roast to pan; cook 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove roast from pan.
  4. Add onion to pan; sauté 8 minutes or until tender.
  5. Return browned roast to pan.
  6. Add the red wine, thyme sprigs, chopped garlic, beef broth, and bay leaf to pan; De-glaze pan and bring to a simmer.
  7. Cover pan and bake at 350° for 1-1/2 hours or until the roast is almost tender.
  8. Add carrots and potatoes to pan. Cover and bake an additional 1 hour or until vegetables are tender.
  9. Remove thyme sprigs and bay leaf from pan; discard.
  10. Shred meat with 2 forks.
  11. Serve roast with vegetable mixture and cooking liquid.
  12. Garnish with thyme leaves, if desired.
Slow Cooker method:
  1. Place chopped vegetables (carrots and potatoes) into the bottom of your slow cooker.
  2. Follow steps #1-#6.
  3. Place crusted pot roast into your slow cooker on top of your vegetables.
  4. Pour the red wine mixture on top of your pot roast.
  5. Cook the roast on LOW for 7-8 hours or HIGH for 3-4 hours.
Source: Cooking Light October 2006 as seen on The Piggly Wiggly

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Peanut Butter Cup Brownies

Since Chris was busy working all day I still have the itch to cook stuff out of sheer boredom, I decided to make some homemade brownies.  Normally I would just make his Grandma B's Brownies but  I didn't have the Hershey syrup on hand and was too lazy to go to the store.  I found what seemed like an easy and delicious looking recipe on a blog and then decided heck, we have 3 bags of Reese Cups leftover from Halloween so I'll throw some of those in too.  I also only had semi-sweet chocolate chips and salted butter on hand so I adjusted the added salt and sugar appropriately.  If I've learned anything in my ameteur cooking trials, it's that you can substitute and adjust to your personal tastes and it won't be the end of the world :).

For whatever reason I had to bump up the heat to 350 degrees after the 35 mins had elapse and let it bake an extra 5-8 minutes...maybe because of the added reese cups adding moisture to the batter?  If you try this yourself, I suggest starting at the original directions and seeing if maybe my baking times and temperatures were a fluke (please leave me a comment and let me know!).  At any rate, these things were amazing!!  (And I don't even really care for peanut butter cups, that much!).  For those that don't like or are allergic to nuts, you can omit the PB cups and it'd be your classically delicious brownie.

Peanut Butter Cup Brownies
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  • 1¼ cups (5 ounces) cake flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt (omit if using salted  butter)
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • 6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine
  • 12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, cut into six 1-inch pieces
  • 2¼ cups (15¾ ounces) sugar (reduce to 2 cups if using semi-sweet chocolate chips)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • ~10 regular sized Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, broken into bite size pieces
  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Whisk to combine flour, salt, and baking powder in medium bowl; set aside.
  3. Melt chocolate and butter in large heatproof bowl set over saucepan of almost-simmering water, stirring occasionally, until smooth. (Alternatively, in microwave, heat butter and chocolate in large microwave-safe bowl on high for 45 seconds, then stir and heat for 30 seconds more. Stir again, and, if necessary, repeat in 15-second increments; do not let chocolate burn.)
  4. When chocolate mixture is completely smooth, remove bowl from saucepan and gradually whisk in sugar. Add eggs on at a time, whisking after each addition until thoroughly combined. Whisk in vanilla. Add flour mixture in three additions, folding with rubber spatula until batter is completely smooth and homogeneous.  Fold peanut butter cup pieces into batter.
  5. Transfer batter to greased 9x13 pan; using spatula, spread batter into corners of pan and smooth surface. Sprinkle toasted nuts (if using) evenly over batter and bake until toothpick or wooden skewer inserted into center of brownies comes out with few moist crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes.  (You may need to test a couple spots just in case you hit a Reese Cup!  Too short will result in gooey fudgey brownies; too long will result in a dry cakey brownie.)
  6. Cool brownies then cut into 2-inch squares and serve.
Source: Brownie base from Cook's Illustrated as seen on The Way the Cookie Cumbles; Image from Duncan Hines...mine looked yummier and more homemade lol!

Sweet Potato Souffle

Here is the other side dish (in addition to the Corn Casserole) that I made for our Holiday Favorites themed dinner club.  This one is truly a holiday favorite in my family as it a staple at Thanksgiving.  I'd never personally made it prior to yesterday and yet eat it annually.  I have to say that the smell of it baking and then transporting it 30 minutes in the car was nearly torture!  It comes from a local dinner theater and is so sweet that it's almost like a dessert.  Even though it's not a true family recipe, it practically is to me so I'm adding that as a tag in this entry hehe :).  For my personal tastes, I'd consider reducing the amount of total sugar in the recipe but it seemed to go well with the dinner club.  Again, only a single serving  left in the pan.

To transport our hot side dishes to our friend's house (about 30 minutes away), I had to ask Google for some advice.  I ended up using the cardboard box and clean bath towel trick and it worked like a charm.  The dishes were still surprisingly very hot when we were ready to serve hour after taking it out of the oven!  So, take the dishes out of the oven, let it cool enough so it doesn't burn holes and put a lid on it.  Wrap the dish in a clean bath or beach  towel, put in a box, and you're off!

Sweet Potato Souffle
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Prep Time:  30 mins
Cook Time: 45 mins
Yields: 6-8 Servings


Sweet Potato Mixture
  • 4 cups mashed sweet potatoes (canned or about 2lbs fresh)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 stick butter or margarine (melted)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup butter or margarine (melted)
  • 1 cup pecan pieces
  1. If using fresh sweet potatoes: Scrub skins well.  Add sweet potatoes to a large pot and cover with water.  Bring pot to a boil then let boil about 20 minutes.  Drain pot and allow potatoes to cool slightly.  When cool  enough to handle, peel skins (should easily come off using hands) and then return to pot and mash.
  2. While sweet potatoes are cooking, prepare topping: Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Mix together sweet potato ingredients until well combined.  If sweet potatoes are still hot, be sure to add milk before eggs to cool the mixture slightly and prevent eggs from cooking.
  4. Grease a large casserole dish and pourin sweet potato mixture.  Sprinkle topping evenly over the sweet potato mixture.
  5. Bake for 45 - 55 minutes uncovered.
Source: La Comedia Dinner Theater

Corn Casserole

I made this for a dinner club that Chris and I were a part of.  We were in charge of bringing a side and the theme this month was "Holiday Favorites".  This was added to the menu the morning of...because people in the club are total overachievers I felt that I had to bring a 2nd side dish as to not be shamed.  I was between this and homemade macaroni and cheese.  Our friends Sig and Kristen helped me decide which to make :).

Having not made this recipe before it was a slight risk bringing it to a dinner party but it looked easy enough, had rave reviews, and Paula (with her loads of butter!) can't steer you wrong.  I'll admit that I probably shamed Paula as I did not use the full amount of butter nor cheese and did use reduced fat sour cream.  I don't think anyone could tell ;). 

This was pretty good and was well received (only a single bite left in the pan!).  Sweet Potato Souffle is still my favorite holiday side dish...along with my Grandpa's stuffing...omg.  My mouth is watering for Thanksgiving already!

Corn Casserole
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Prep Time: 13 mins
Cook Time: 55mins
Yield: 6-8 Servings

  • 1 (15 1/4-ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 (14 3/4-ounce) can cream-style corn
  • 1 (8-ounce) package corn muffin mix (recommended: Jiffy)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the 2 cans of corn, corn muffin mix, sour cream, and melted butter.
  3. Pour into a greased 9 by 13-inch casserole dish.
  4. Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden brown.
  5. Remove from oven and top with Cheddar.
  6. Return to oven for 5 to 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
  7. Let stand for at least 5 minutes and then serve warm.
Source: Paula Deen

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Spinach Sausage and Cheese Manicotti

This is a favorite recipe of mine and I'm surprised that it took so long for me to share it with you all!  I'm sorry that you have been so deprived!  This is the first time that I made it with homemade sauce (the Marinara Magnifica)...soooooo much better than jarred sauce!!!  Since the manicotti cooks in the sauce, it's very important that you the sauce that it's prepared in.  It's an easy meal to make ahead and then refrigerate.  When you get home from work, pop it in the oven and you've got yourself a hot homemade meal.  Leftovers freeze well, too!  I served this with some steamed brocolli (lightly seasoned with a bit of olive oil butter and seasoning salt) and some Minestrone Soup that I made previously and had frozen the leftovers.  Mary Lynn said that the dinner tasted like Olive Garden...bless her kind words.  Mangia!

Spinach Sausage and Cheese Manicotti
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Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Ready In: 1 hour 5 minutes
Serves 6

  • 1 (15 oz) container ricotta cheese
  • 1 (10 oz) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry 
  • 1/2 lb. ground italian sausage
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup onions, minced
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp dry parsley
  • 1 tsp dry basil
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 2 cups shredded italian cheese, divided
  • 2 (26 oz) jars spaghetti sauce (or about 5-6 cups of homemade sauce)
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 (8 oz) package manicotti shells
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a large skillet over medium high heat, brown italian sausage with minced garlic and red pepper flakes.  Drain grease and return to pan.  Set aside to cool.
  3. In a large bowl, combine ricotta, spinach, onion and egg. Season with parsley, basil, pepper, garlic powder, and onion  powder. Add cooled sausage mixture.  Mix in 1 1/4 cup cheese.
  4. In a separate bowl, stir together spaghetti sauce and water.
  5. Spread 1 cup sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish.
  6. Using a flatware teaspoon or piping bag, stuff uncooked manicotti shells with ricotta mixture, and arrange in a single layer in the dish. Cover with remaining sauce. (If preparing in advance, cover with foil and refrigerate.  Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking or go straight from fridge to oven but add additional baking time.)
  7. Bake uncovered in preheated oven for 45 to 55 minutes, or until noodles are soft and sauce is bubbly.  Top with remaining cheese during last 15 minutes of baking time.
Source: Modified from All Recipes

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Beach Shrimp

Okay yes Summer is over and there isn't a beach within hundreds of miles from here but I had this recipe bookmarked and wanted to deviate from chicken and ground beef.  The real reason that it's called "beach shrimp" is that the directions are made for making on the beach in a disposable roasting pan for easy cleanup.  I'm glad I gave this one a try because it was very yummy!  I used fat free italian and cut the butter in half to make it healther.  Served it over vermicelli noodles and topped it with some shredded italian style cheese.  So simple and tasty!

Beach Shrimp
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Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Serves 6-8

  • 3 pounds unpeeled, large raw shrimp*
  • 1 (16-oz.) bottle Italian dressing
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons freshly ground pepper*
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 2 lemons, halved
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup butter, cut up
*3 lb. frozen peeled, large raw shrimp, thawed according to package directions, may be substituted. Prepare recipe as directed, reducing pepper to 1/2 tsp.


  1. Place first 4 ingredients in a 13- x 9-inch baking dish, tossing to coat. Squeeze juice from lemons over shrimp mixture, and stir. Add lemon halves to pan. Sprinkle evenly with parsley; dot with butter.
  2. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes, stirring after 15 minutes. Serve in pan.
Source: Southern Living, June 2007 as seen on The Piggly-Wiggly

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Home Fries

I love breakfast.   Breakfast, brunch, brinner...gotta have it all.  Tonight I used some of my wheat english muffins and sausage patties to make little breakfast sandwiches.  I then searched my arsonal of cooking blogs that I follow for the perfect side...home fries!  I'll admit this took a bit more work than I would have guessed but the end result was delicious.  Shout out to my in-laws who were so kind as to give me a couple potatoes so I didn't need to buy a giant bag nor get ripped off by buying single potatoes.

Home Fries
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  • 1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch cubes
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1 onions, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Seasoning of your choice: Garlic powder or salt work great, as does smoky Spanish paprika or chopped chives
  1. Arrange potatoes in large microwave-safe bowl, top with 1 tablespoon butter, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Microwave on high until edges of potatoes begin to soften, 5 to 7 minutes, shaking bowl (without removing plastic) to redistribute potatoes halfway through cooking.
  2. Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon butter in large regular or nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened and golden brown, about 6 minutes. Transfer to small bowl.
  3. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in now-empty skillet over medium heat. Add potatoes and pack down with spatula. Cook, without moving, until underside of potatoes is brown, 5 to 7 minutes.
  4. Turn potatoes, pack down again, and continue to cook until well browned and crisp, 5 to 7 minutes.
  5. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking, stirring potatoes every few minutes, until crusty and golden on all sides, 9 to 12 minutes.
  6. Stir in onion, seasonings of your choice and salt and pepper to taste (I used seasoning salt and chives) .
Source: Smitten Kitchen

Monday, November 9, 2009

Chicken Parmesan

Chris is very predictable when it comes to ordering from a restaurant.  O'Charley's - Chicken Tenders, Red Lobster - Popcorn Shrimp, Applebee's - Boneless BBQ Wings, Any Italian Restaurant - Chicken Parmesan.  Sadly, I've yet to find a recipe for chicken parmesan at home that I'm satisfied with.  I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that I refuse to fry the chicken and let's face it...fried stuff just tastes better!  This one sounded promising and has been the best one that I've made in the nearly 6 years I've been trying...but still not as good as the restaurants.  Perhaps one day I'll just break down and do a fried version.  I used the marinara that I made over the weekend and it was gooooood.

Chicken Parmesan
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Photo Credit: Annie's Eats

  • 1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs (I only had regular Italian style breadcrumbs on hand but I still toasted them...I KNOW the panko would have been better!)
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 large egg whites (I used 1 whole egg out of laziness...seemed to work fine)
  • 1 tbsp. water
  • vegetable cooking spray
  • 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, butterflied and cut into halves (4 pieces total)
  • 2 cups marinara sauce, warmed
  • about 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tbsp. minced fresh basil
  1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.
  2. Combine the breadcrumbs and oil in a 12-inch skillet and toast over medium heat until golden, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Spread the breadcrumbs in a shallow dish and allow to cool slightly; when cool, stir in the Parmesan.
  3. In a second shallow dish, combine the flour, garlic powder, 1 tablespoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper together. In a third shallow dish whisk together the egg whites and water.
  4. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and spray the foil with vegetable oil spray. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels, then season with salt and pepper. Lightly dredge each chicken piece in the flour to coat completely, shaking off the excess. Then dip into the egg whites and finally coat with the breadcrumb mixture. Press on the breadcrumbs to make sure they adhere. Place the chicken pieces on the prepared baking sheet.
  5. Bake until the chicken is no longer pink and feels firm when pressed with a finger, about 15 minutes.
  6. Remove the chicken from the oven. Spoon 2 tablespoons of marinara sauce over the top of each piece of chicken and top with 2 tablespoons of the shredded mozzarella.
  7. Return the chicken to the oven and continue to bake until the cheese is melted, about 5 minutes.
  8. Sprinkle with the fresh basil and serve as desired, with extra Parmesan and marinara sauce.
Source: Cook's Illustrated, October 2006 as seen on Annie's Eats

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Marinara Magnifica

Wow!  I totally get why they call this "magnifica"! It is magnificent!  This just might become my new go-to sauce and I'm excited that this turned out so well given my recent fudge failure.  What's even better is the fact that I got a lot of the tomato supplies for cheap during the Kroger Megasale :).  Sometimes I think I must have been Italian in a previous life because I LOVE Italian food so much!  This recipe makes a lot of sauce so in addition to eating it in it's yummy pure form over noodles, be prepared to either use it in recipes in place of jarred sauce or freezing it.  I'm thinking about using this on my Manicotti and maybe also some Chicken Parmesan this upcoming week...mmmm salivating just thinking about it.

I used a 2003 Shiraz for the wine (compliments of Justin from when Chris moved into the CONDO!...yeah, it's that old...because we don't exactly drink wine!  I literally had to dust it off from the shelf and then had to get Chris to help uncork it because I had NO idea what I was doing haha!) and probably added a splash more than what the recipe called for.  I know nothing about wine but from what I understand, any red wine will do as long as it is dry.  Sweet will also work but isn't ideal because it will impart a different flavor, I guess.  Carmelizing the onions?  Heavenly.  I also added an extra dash of basil, red pepper, and of course more garlic...but it's a personal preference and I think this recipe actually would have been great without my additions.

Here are some ways you can use your Marinara Magnifica:
Marinara Magnifica
Printer-Friendly Version
Yield: 9 cups (serving size: 1 cup)

Photo Credit: Cooking Light

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 cups chopped onion (about 3 medium)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 tablespoon extravirgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 (6-ounce) cans tomato paste
  1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven or large stock pot over medium heat; add onion and sugar. Cook 30 minutes or until golden, stirring occasionally.
  2. Stir in wine; cook 1 minute.
  3. Add remaining ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 3 hours, stirring occasionally.
Nutritional Information
  • Calories:169 (20% from fat)
  • Fat:3.8g (sat 0.5g,mono 2.3g,poly 0.6g)
  • Protein:5.3g
  • Carbohydrate:30.9g
  • Fiber:6.5g
  • Cholesterol:0.0mg
  • Iron:2.9mg
  • Sodium:960mg
  • Calcium:131mg
Source: Cooking Light, August 2004

Pumpkin Pie Fudge

Well...there's always a first for everything and this is the recipe that I tried to make but it went all wrong.  I've never made fudge before and now have a deeper respect for those that was surprisingly challenging and takes a lot of muscle for all that stirring!  My fudge wouldn't set...despite making a 2nd  heating attempt (a no-no!) to try to salvage it.  The first time I heated it the color looked about right but after letting it  try to set I realized it just wasn't going to do that for had the consistency of marshmallow fluff..probably because that was a prime ingredient.  So after reading about  how to save fudge that didn't set correctly, I threw everything back into the pan and tried to reheat it so that it would evaporate off more water and hopefully set properly upon cooling.  It ended up turning a caramel color and well, still didn't set. 

The problem was that I didn't have a candy thermometer and so I tried to use the cold water test to determine when the mixture was at the proper temperature.  Apparently what I thought was a "soft ball" was not quite there yet because my fudge ended up being more like a soft sticky taffy.  Chris says I should just make his Grandma's peanut butter fudge, instead.  I looked at that recipe and it looks more promising to target temperatures needed hehe :).  Perhaps that will be my next fudge making adventure.

It's sad because I have to throw away all those ingredients.  Good thing I had everything on hand except for the condensed milk (which I got for $0.50 after the Kroger megasale) and the marshmallow fluff.  I also got to use my free butter (again from  Kroger megasale).

Anayway, at least we have Annie's pretty pictures to look at what could have been and drool over...and maybe one day I'll get the courage to try to make this again.  If you have better luck, let me know your tricks of the trade!  Even though it didn't set properly, it was still very tasty :).

PS:  Sorry MK but no fudge for work this time.  No worries, I'll bring some other treats sometime!

Pumpkin Pie Fudge

 Photo Credit: Annie's Eats

  • 3 cups sugar
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2/3 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 2 tbsp. corn syrup
  • 2 ½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 9 oz. white chocolate, chopped
  • 7 oz. jar marshmallow crème
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted (optional)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  1. Stir together first six ingredients in a 3 ½ – quart saucepan over medium-high heat and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until a candy thermometer registers 234° (soft-ball stage).
  2. Remove pan from heat; stir in remaining ingredients until well blended. Pour into a greased aluminum foil-lined 8-inch square pan. Let stand 2 hours or until completely cool; cut fudge into squares.
Source: Annie's Eats

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Mexican Casserole

Oh my goodness this is absolutely heavenly (and probably artery clogging...but so worth it)! On the other hand, I can't say Chris enjoyed it as much as I did. He literally walked into the house and asked me "Is that sour cream I smell??". Sadly, I had to admit that yes, there was sour cream in the recipe and it was only after I had spread it across the entire casserole that I thought about his disdain for anything white and creamy. Normally I'd make his half "special" sour cream, no cream cheese, no mustard, no eggs that look like eggs, picky! :P  He ate some anyway, trying to avoid the sour cream that was slathered all over, trooper that he is.

Anyway, if you enjoy Mexican food and rich foods, you will LOVE this casserole.  It's a nice change from the typical taco salad (which we ALL know is our feeling lazy meal!).  I made it with low-fat sour cream and cheese...which made me feel marginally better about the fat and calories lol. Oh heck with it, everyone knows healthy stuff doesn't taste nearly as good hehe!

PS: If you have leftovers, nuking works fine.  Just crush some fresh tortilla chips on top after you re-heat and it tastes good as new!  It was also delcious over spaghetti Mexican Skyline!

Mexican Casserole
Printer-Friendly Version


Prep Time: 20 Min
Cook Time: 30 Min
Ready In: 50 Min

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/2 packet low-sodium taco seasoning
  • 2 cups salsa
  • 1 (16 ounce) can chili beans, drained
  • 3 cups tortilla chips, crushed
  • 2 cups sour cream (I used about 1 cup of Kroger Tex Mex Sour Cream Dip)
  • 1 (2 ounce) can sliced black olives, drained (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped green pepper 
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh tomato
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook ground beef until no longer pink. Drain grease and return meat to pan.  Stir in taco seasoning and salsa, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed.
  3. Spread crushed tortilla chips in dish, and then spoon beef mixture over chips. Spread sour cream over beef, then pour chili beans on top.  Sprinkle olives, onion, green pepper, and tomato over the beans. Top with Cheddar cheese.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.
Source: Modified from All Recipes

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Buttermilk Cornbread

I made this recipe to go with the Turkey Bean Pumpkin Chili that I made earlier in the week.  We had the chili and the cornbread for Halloween dinner.  I was short on sugar and too lazy to go to the store (even though it's literally like 1/4 mile away) so I just used 1/2 cup instead of 2/3.  Having made it with the full amount of sugar before, I do prefer the full amount :).  In retrospect, I probably should have added some honey or something to make up for the sweetness.  Maybe i'll make a honeybutter to spread on the top...

Buttermilk Cornbread
Printer-Friendly Version

Prep Time:15 MinCook Time:40 Min
Ready In: 55 Min
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or substitute just under 1 cup milk with 1 Tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice) 
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease an 8 inch square pan or a 12 muffin tin. 
  2. Melt butter in large skillet. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Quickly add eggs and beat until well blended. Combine buttermilk with baking soda and stir into mixture in pan. Stir in cornmeal, flour, and salt until well blended and few lumps remain. Pour batter into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes (8" square pan) or about 20 minutes (muffin tin), or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Source: All Recipes