Saturday, December 22, 2012

Microwave Pecan Pralines

Microwave Pecan Pralines
Courtesy of: Meme

1 box of light brown sugar
1/2 pint of heavy whipping cream
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla
2-3 cups pecan halves
Wax paper

In a large microwave safe bowl, mix the brown sugar with the whipping cream until smooth. Microwave for 9 minutes, then leave it for 1 minute. Add butter and vanilla -- it will bubble like crazy. Finally, stir in pecans. Stir until slightly thickened, and then drop onto wax paper. Once completely cooled, store them in an air-tight container.
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Friday, May 18, 2012

Taco Soup

Taco Soup

I actually combined several recipes into one that I thought would be enjoyed the most by my family.

1 pound lean ground beef
1 medium onion, diced
1 can pinto beans
1 can black beans
1 can rotel tomatoes
1 can corn, drained
1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 packet ranch dressing mix
1 packet taco seasoning mix
4 cups of water

sour cream
grated cheddar cheese

Brown and drain the ground beef. Add the onion to the pan and sautee until translucent. Drain and rinse the pinto and black beans. Mix the beef, onion, beans, tomatoes, corn, ranch dressing mix, taco seasoning, and water into a crock pot or large stock pot. Either cook for about 30 minutes on the stove or you can cook in the crock pot on low for 8-9 hours. Serve with Fritos, cheese and a dollop of sour cream... or anything you wish. You could also serve with some green onions as well.

You can freeze in individual containers - or put in a gallon sized freezer baggie and lay flat on a cookie sheet in the freezer until frozen. That way it takes up very little room in your freezer.
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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Baked Spaghetti

Baked Spaghetti
Adapted from: Paula Deen

8 ounces uncooked angel hair pasta
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (I used dried)
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
Salt & Pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons Season Salt
1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
2 cups tomato sauce
1 cup water
2 cups canned diced tomatoes
2   cloves garlic, chopped
1 diced green bell pepper
1 diced onion
3 cups cheddar jack cheese blend
2   small bay leaves

In a medium sized pan, mix your tomato sauce, tomatoes, water, garlic, onion, bell pepper, bay leaves, and seasoning. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and you will simmer this mixture for an hour.

After the hour of cooking time, brown your hamburger meat and add to the sauce mixture.

Prepare your pasta according to the package directions - I used thin spaghetti instead of angel hair. I drained my pasta, and put it back in the pot... then mixed in enough of the pasta sauce that it kept the noodles from sticking together - about 1/2 - 2/3 of the sauce.

Preheat your oven to 350. Once all the components of the dish are ready - ladle a good amount of the sauce on the bottom of a 13x9 inch pan. Cover with a layer of noodles. Put 1/2 of your cheese. Repeat all of the layers again with cheese being the top and final layer. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the cheese is brown and bubbly.
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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Chicken & Wild Rice Casserole

Chicken & Wild Rice Casserole
Inspired by: Better Homes & Gardens

packages long grain and wild rice mix 
1 medium onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 tablespoons butter 
1 can condensed chicken rice soup
1/2 cup sour cream
1/3 cup dry white wine or chicken broth
2 tablespoons fresh basil or 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
3-4 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

I roasted my chicken wrapped in heavy duty foil on 425 for about 20 minutes. Then cooled this until I was ready to prepare the rest of the meal.

Prepare the long grain & wild rice according to the package directions. Chop your celery and onions, and sautee in a pan with the butter until they are slightly soft. I didn't cook mine much longer than the time it took me to get the rice going and chop up my cooked chicken. This left our veggies with a tiny bit of texture and crunch that we really enjoyed in the finished dish.

While the rice finishes cooking, mix in a LARGE bowl - chicken, onion, celery, soup, sour cream, wine, and basil. I mixed all these ingredients together - and had cooked my rice in a large enough pan that when the rice was finished - I could pour all the ingredients into the pan and mix it together until well combined.

Pour the entire mixture until a 2 qt (or 2 liter) pan - cover the top with the Parmesan cheese and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes. We then turned on the broiler to brown our cheese for a minute or two.
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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Stuffed Bell Pepper Casserole

Stuffed Bell Pepper Casserole
Courtesy of: my Mom

1 pound of ground beef
1 large bell pepper, diced
1 medium onion, diced
Garlic Powder
2 cans diced tomatoes (I used fire roasted)
1 can corn, drained
2-3 cups cooked medium grain white rice
2 cups grated cheddar cheese

Season your ground beef with salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste. In a large skillet, brown your ground beef and drain off any excess fat. Add in your bell pepper and onion and sautee until soft. In another pan, prepare your rice. Add in your tomatoes and corn.

Once the rice is prepared, mix it in with the meat and vegetables. Combine everything thoroughly, and top with the cheese. Bake until the cheese is brown and bubbly.

*As a child, I never would eat a true stuffed bell pepper - so this was an alternative to get me to eat it. To this day, I love this casserole - it is so simple, but so tasty!

** Sorry the photo isn't good quality - I didn't think about taking a picture until later and ended up with this. Next time we make it, I'll get a new photo to share. 
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Monday, April 16, 2012

Taco Dip

Taco Dip
Adapted from: Paula Deen

1 pound lean Ground Beef
1 package Taco Seasoning
3/4 cup Salsa (I used Clint's - our favorite!!)
1 pint Sour Cream
3 ripe Avocados
2 cups Grated Cheddar Cheese (grating your own has more flavor)
Tortilla Chips

Brown your beef, and mix with Taco Seasoning according to package directions. (Most have you add water) Cool for about 10 minutes. Mix the salsa and sour cream in with the taco meat. Layer in the bottom of a 13x9 baking dish. Top with chopped avocados. Sprinkle the cheddar cheese on top of everything, and bake at 350 for about 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

Serve warm with tortilla chips. I put the remaining salsa out along with the dip as well.

Paula has you do it more in layers, (5 layers to be exact) but when we made it about a year ago it was dry - so we made this adaptation and it worked perfectly. The meat layer is much more juicy and it ends up making a nicer consistency for the dip in my opinion.
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Friday, April 13, 2012

Caesar Pasta Salad

Caesar Pasta Salad
Courtesy of: A Bountiful Kitchen (via Pinterest)

1 pound Pasta (I used veggie spirals)
1 package Grape Tomatoes, halved
1 head Romaine, chopped
1 half pint Grated Parmesan (I went for the good stuff from the deli)
1 bottle Girard's Caesar Dressing
1 package croutons (I used Texas Toast Caesar Croutons)

Boil the pasta according to the package directions, drain and rinse with cold water. I then put it in the fridge for a couple hours until it was cold.

Just before you're ready to serve the salad: in a large bowl - mix the pasta with about 1/2 of the bottle of salad dressing. Add in the halved tomatoes, chopped lettuce, Parmesan, and croutons. Mix well, and add more dressing as needed.

For another fun serving idea - you could mix everything except the lettuce... leave the leaves whole, and pile the pasta and tomatoes on the leaves.
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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Momma Bird Pasta

Momma Bird Pasta
Courtesy of: My little brain thinking of ways to fix things with lots of veggies for my kids to eat

3-4 Chicken Breasts, cut in bite sized pieces
2 Zucchini
1 Onion
1 bag Baby Spinach
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
1 lb Pasta (use your favorite shape)
1 jar Pasta Sauce (I used Classico Tomato Basil)
1 jar Alfredo Sauce (I used Classico)
1-2 cups shredded Mozzarella

Bring a large pot of water to boil, and cook your pasta according to the package directions. Drain and mix in both of the pasta sauces. (I mixed it in the same large pot I boiled the pasta in) Set aside until the other mixture is finished.

Cut your chicken breast into bite sized pieces, coat with salt, pepper, and garlic powder; and begin browning in a large skillet with a tiny bit of olive oil. Add in your onion once the chicken is just about done cooking. (You could add in some sliced Baby Bella Mushrooms at this stage too) Grate your zucchini and add to the pan. Cook until the liquid is evaporated. Add in the baby spinach and wilt. As the spinach is wilting, add in the Parmesan cheese to the mixture. Mix the chicken and vegetable mixture in with the pasta and sauce until well combined.

** Note, it was perfectly yummy and fine to serve it just like it is at this point. I made it at nap time though, so I took it to another level.

Pour the entire mixture into a casserole dish of your choice and sprinkle with Mozzarella cheese. Then bake until bubbly and cheese is browned at about 350. Ours was cold when I baked it so it took about 30 minutes or so, but if yours is hot when you add the cheese - it should only take you another few minutes to wait for the cheese to melt.
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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Chocolate Mousse

Chocolate Mousse
Courtesy of: Pat & Gina Neeley

8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped fine (we used a bar of semi sweet baking chocolate)
4 large egg yolks
6 tablespoons sugar
1 3/4 cups heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
Dark shaved chocolate, for garnish
Whipped cream, for garnish

Melt the chopped chocolate using a double boiler - or a glass bowl fit over a pan of simmering water. Stir until completely melted and smooth - then remove from the heat.

Whisk together the egg yolks, 4 tablespoons sugar, 3/4 cup heavy cream and a pinch of salt in a medium 2-quart curved bottom saucepan. Place over medium heat and stir constantly until the mixture is thick, about 3 minutes. Whisk in the chocolate and vanilla. Strain the mixture into a large bowl using a fine mesh sieve and place in the refrigerator until chilled, at least 30 minutes. (We didn't strain ours, and I found a few lumps in it - but not too bad)

Beat the remaining 1 cup heavy cream and remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the whipped cream into the chilled chocolate. Divide the mousse evenly among 4 individual serving dishes (I'd do more like 6 dishes or more - it's VERY rich) and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator to chill for at least one hour. Serve with shaved chocolate and whipped cream. 

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Friday, January 27, 2012

Pasta Fiesta

Pasta Fiesta
Courtesy of: Blue Eyed Bride

8 ounces pasta (she used bowties, but my kids won't eat that so I used the mixed fusilli)
1 pound lean ground beef
½ onion, chopped
½ green bell pepper, chopped
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
1 cup sour cream
1 cup salsa (I used our favorite Clint's Salsa)
½ cup sliced black olives
1 can black beans, drained (this was just suggested, and I think it would be GREAT!)
¼ cup sliced jalapenos (optional - and I opted to not use them)
1 tomato, chopped (I skipped this too)
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Cook the pasta using package; drain. Brown the beef in a skillet, and drain off any extra fat - depending on what mix of ground beef you use. Add in the onion and bell pepper sautee until tender, stirring constantly. Stir in the tomato sauce, chili powder, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Combine the pasta, ground beef mixture, sour cream, salsa, black olives, black beans, jalapenos, and tomato in a bowl and mix well. Spoon into a 9×13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with the cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes or until brown and bubbly.

This was really good, and would be a super easy dish to make for delivering meals to a family in need. Just add in some crusty bread and maybe a salad.
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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Slow Cooker Bolognese

Slow Cooker Bolgonese
Courtesy of: Real Simple

This recipe makes 3 quarts of sauce - so it's good for freezing. It takes about 35 minutes to get it prepped for the crock pot, but it is WELL worth it. My family LOVED it. 

medium onion, finely chopped (1/2 cup)
stalk celery, finely chopped (1/2 cup)
carrot, finely chopped (3/4 cup)
2 tablespoons 
olive oil
1 1/2 pounds 
combined ground beef and pork, or meat-loaf mix
1 cup 
6-ounce can tomato paste
14-ounce cans diced tomatoes
4 teaspoons 
kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon 
ground nutmeg

In a large skillet, combine the onion, celery, carrot, and olive oil and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until tender, about 10 minutes.

Add the meat and cook, stirring frequently, until it loses its pink color. Add the milk. Increase heat to high and cook until the milk has evaporated. Transfer the mixture to a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker.

Return the skillet to the heat and add the tomato paste; cook over low heat to reduce its bitterness, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste to the cooker, along with the tomatoes, salt, and nutmeg.

Cook on low for 8 hours, or on high for 4 hours. I always go for the longer slower cooking time, it just works better for us - I get it on during breakfast or morning naps and then it's ready by the time the boys are ready for dinner. 

Serve over pasta - I used a gemili shaped pasta, but you can use whatever your family likes.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Cheese Enchiladas with Rice & Beans

Cheese Enchiladas with Rice & Beans

Courtesy of: The Homesick Texan (fitting, right?!)

Chili Sauce:
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 cups beef broth, chicken broth or water (I used beef broth)

Heat the oil in a medium sized sauce pan, stir in the flour and cook 3-4 minutes to form a roux. Add all the spices to the flour mixture and allow to heat for a minute or two to develop the flavors. Then whisk in the beef broth/chicken broth/water - allow to simmer for 15 minutes. You can add more liquid.

1/2 cup vegetable oil (I skipped this and wish I hadn't once I was in the process of making them)
8 corn tortillas (I used 12)
8 oz Velveeta
8-10 oz Cheddar Cheese
1 medium onion, diced (I chopped mine finely because I served this to the babies)
2 cups of chili sauce

Preheat oven to 400. In a 9x13 pan - place a 1/2 cup of the chili sauce on the bottom of the pan.

If you use the oil, heat it in a small skillet - then dip each of the tortillas in the oil for a few seconds and keep them wrapped up until all are heated.

Chop up the Velveeta, and mix with grated cheddar and onions. Then place about 1/4 cup or so of filling in a tortilla and roll it up. Place the filled enchilada in your baking dish seam side down. Repeat for all of your remaining tortillas. Once you are finished - pour the remaining chili sauce over the top of the enchiladas. Put remaining cheese and onions on top and bake for about 10 minutes until everything is melted and bubbly.

I served with rice and beans that I made:

For rice - I used long grain white rice with chicken broth instead of water, added a can of diced tomatoes, a teaspoon of cumin and a teaspoon of garlic powder.

For the beans - I used a can of refried beans and added a 1/4-1/2 cup of Velveeta and 1/2 cup of the enchilada chili sauce.

This mean certainly made us feel at home - since we haven't found any Mexican restaurants here in Memphis that have filled the void for our Texan hearts.
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Monday, January 23, 2012

Green Bean Bundles

Green Bean Bundles
Courtesy of Jen Bettis

4 cans whole green beans
8 slices bacon, cut in half so that you have 16 short pieces (We actually quartered the bacon and got 32)
1 cup brown sugar
1 clove minced garlic
1/2 stick butter, melted

Divide green beans into 32 bundles - our bundles had about 8 green beans a piece. Wrap each bundle with a piece of bacon and secure with a toothpick. Place in baking dish. Combine sugar, garlic, and butter and pour over bundles. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until bacon reaches desired "doneness".
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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sweet Potato Praline Souffle

Sweet Potato Praline Souffle
Courtesy of: Cindy Harris (my sister)

3 cups sweet potatoes (4 good size fresh)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, cubed
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup melted butter

My sister cubes her sweet potatoes, boils and mashes them. We opted to roast our sweet potatoes, then peel and mash them. Once mashed, while still hot - add in the sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla, milk and cinnamon. You may not need all the milk - you want the mixture creamy but not soupy.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Pour the mixture into a 13x9 inch baking dish. Then make the topping. In a bowl, mix the dry ingredients: brown sugar, flour, and pecans. Add the butter while stirring - the topping should be crumbly. Sprinkle the topping over the potatoes in the baking dish - then bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes until topping is browned and heated all the way through.

Our boys literally couldn't get enough of these, and they were MUCH better than the standard canned yams with marshmallows on them. (I'm not a fan of those.)
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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Parmesan Roasted Broccoli

Parmesan Roasted Broccoli
Courtesy of: Ina Garten (aka the Barefoot Contessa)

3 tablespoons pine nuts
4 to 5 pounds broccoli
4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
6 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons julienned fresh basil leaves (We did not use the basil in ours)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Spread the pine nuts onto a baking sheet and place in preheated oven 5-7 minutes until fragrant. Shake the baking sheet halfway through baking so the nuts will toast evenly. Remove nuts from oven and set aside to cool completely. Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees F.

Cut the broccoli florets from the thick stalks, leaving an inch or two of stalk attached to the florets, discarding the rest of the stalks. Cut the larger pieces through the base of the head with a small knife, pulling the florets apart. You should have about 8 cups of florets. Place the broccoli florets in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle the garlic on the broccoli and drizzle with 5 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper.

Roast until crisp-tender and the tips of some of the florets are browned, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the broccoli from the oven and immediately toss with 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, the lemon zest, lemon juice, pine nuts, Parmesan, and basil. Serve hot.

We served this with the TGI Fridays Jack Daniels Chicken
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TGI Fridays Jack Daniels Chicken

TGI Fridays Jack Daniels Chicken
Courtesy of: Big Oven

This sauce can be used on chicken, pork chops, steak, shrimp, fish, chicken wings, and even on burgers! It is versatile and very very tasty!

1 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon Jack Daniels Wiskey
2/3 cup water
1 cup pineapple juice
3 tablespoons white onion, minced
1 tablespoon crushed pineapple
1/4 cup Kikkoman Teriyaki Sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 head garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne pepper

Take your garlic, cut about 1/2 an inch off of the top, and a bit off of the bottom so that it will stand up flat on the pan. Place the garlic on a piece of foil, drizzle olive oil, wrap the foil over the garlic and bake it on 325 for an hour. Once roasted, remove the foil and let it cool until you're able to handle it.

In a large sauce pan, combine: water, pineapple juice, teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, and brown sugar. Turn the heat to medium high, and stir occasionally until the mixture boils then reduce heat to a simmer. Add remaining ingredients to the pan. Squeeze the sides of the garlic and let the roasted paste come out on to a pan or plate. Add about 2 teaspoons of the paste to the simmering liquid.

Let mixture simmer for 35-45 minutes or until it is reduced by 1/2. We had to turn up the heat to reduce ours a bit more at the end. You want it to be thick and syrupy. Make sure it doesn't boil over. You will end up with about 1 cup of sauce after everything is reduced.

We used the sauce with grilled chicken, but like I said - you can put it on ANYTHING!
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Sunday, January 8, 2012

Autumn Chopped Salad

Autumn Chopped Salad
Adapted from: Espresso and Cream

6 to 8 cups chopped romaine lettuce
2 medium pears, chopped
1 cup chopped pecans
8 slices thick-cut bacon, crisp-cooked and crumbled
4 to 6 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
Balsamic Vinaigrette (we used Brianna's Home Style dressing)

Chop all of the lettuce, pears, pecans, bacon, and feta into very small pieces. Combine in a bowl for mixing. Pour the dressing over the top and toss with the dressing.

The original recipe also added in dried cranberries and used a dressing mix of 70% poppy seed dressing mixed with 30% of the vinaigrette. We personally aren't huge fans of dried cranberries or poppy seed dressing so I left those out of our salad.

We really enjoyed this salad combination, and will be making it again sometime soon!
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