Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Lemon-Garlic Grilled Shrimp

This is easy and so, so delicious!  The flavors combine perfectly over the open flame of the grill, giving the shrimp a nice, crisp taste.  I like to serve ours with broccoli or zucchini rice and a side of veggies.  Delicious!  Enjoy!
Ingredients:
-1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter
-3 garlic cloves, minced
-3 lemons, juiced
-1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
-1/2 tsp garlic powder
-1 tsp salt
-1 tsp pepper
-2 lbs large or jumbo shrimp, peeled, deveined, with tails on
Directions:
Melt butter over medium heat.  Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Remove pan from stove and add remaining ingredients, except for the shrimp.  Give it a good stir and let it cool for 2 minutes.
Place shrimp in large resealable bag.  To that, add 2/3rds of the lemon-garlic mixture.  Seal bag and mix so that shrimp is coated evenly.  Let it marinade for 30 minutes, flipping the bag over a couple of times.
Once that's done, place shrimp onto skewers and grill until nice and pink.  Enjoy!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Orzo Salad with Spinach and Kielbasa

I love a nice blend of my childhood flavors, such as kalamata with feta and olive oil.  Add orzo, spinach, kielbasa and dried cranberries and this becomes such a delight.  This is a family favorite for us.  Enjoy!
Ingredients:
For salad:
-1 cup orzo
-1 lb kielbasa
-5 oz baby spinach
-2 oz dried cranberries
-1 cucumber, peeled and sliced
-1/2 cup kalamata olive, pitted and quartered
-4 oz crumbled feta cheese
For dressing:
-1 clove garlic, minced
-1/4 tsp dried oregano leaves
-1/4 tsp dried thyme
-1/2 tsp sugar
-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
-1/4 cup vegetable oil
-1/4 cup red wine vinegar
Directions:
Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain, rinse in cold water until cool.  Drain again.  Add to salad bowl.
Meanwhile, slice the kielbasa in half lengthwise. Slice each half and cook until golden brown.  Remove from heat and let it cool.
Mix all salad ingredients into salad bowl and give it a good stir.
Place all dressing ingredients in jar with lid or plastic container with lid.  Shake very well then pour over salad.  Mix well, scoop into bowls and enjoy!  YUM!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Best Sauce for your Meat (Steak, Burgers, Hot Dogs, etc)

I love grilling season.  All those goodies seared to perfection on the open fire...Mmmm.... And to perfectly complement that, a great sauce is a must.  And this is the perfect sauce for pretty much any meat.  It's super easy to put together and quick to prepare.  It's simply delicious! Enjoy!
Ingredients:
-3/4 cup ketchup
-3/4 cup brown sugar
-1 Tbs bbq sauce (we prefer Sweet Baby Ray's)
-1/4 cup honey
-1 tsp apple cider vinegar
-2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
-1 tsp pepper
Directions:
Combine all ingredients in medium sauce pan.  Cook over medium heat until sugar is melted and sauce is nice and smooth. 
Remove from the heat.  Let it sit for 10-15 minutes.  You can enjoy it warm, at room temperature or straight from the fridge.  Enjoy!


Friday, June 16, 2017

Gnocchi with Beef, Bacon and Kalamata

This is serious comfort food.  It's hearty and the flavors are absolutely amazing together.  Every bite is simply delicious. Enjoy!
Ingredients:
-8 slices bacon, diced
-4 garlic cloves, minced
-1 lb extra lean ground beef
-1 red onion, finely chopped
-1 Tbs tomato paste
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 tsp pepper
-3 tomatoes, chopped (keep any juices from them too!)
-1 cup chicken broth
-1 cup kalamata olives, pitted and halved
-1 lb gnocchi
Directions:
In a large pot, cook the bacon for 5 minutes or until almost crisp.  Add the garlic and cook for 30 more seconds.  Stir in the beef and cook until no longer pink. Add the red onion and tomato paste.  Season with salt and pepper.  Give it a good stir and cook for 5 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and any juices from them.  Also add the broth and olives. Stir well and bring to a simmer.  Cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the gnocchi according to package directions.  Drain and add to the bacon mixture.  Stir well, scoop onto plates and enjoy!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Lemon-Garlic Chicken Thighs

This is a simple dish for a busy night.  The flavors are wonderful together and we love the freshness of the lemon combined with the garlic.  Delicious!  Enjoy!
Ingredients:
-1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
-2 Tbs butter
-4 chicken thighs, skin-on, bone-in
-salt and pepper
-4 garlic cloves, minced
-1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
-1 cup chicken broth
-1 lemon, juiced
-1/4 cup heavy cream
Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 F.
In a large oven proof pot heat the oil and melt the butter.  While that's happening, score the chicken thighs and season on both sides with salt and pepper.  Place chicken in hot oil mixture and sear on both sides until nice and golden brown.
Add the garlic and pepper flakes and cook for 30 seconds.  Stir in the broth and lemon juice. Mix and bring to a simmer.  Let it simmer for 20 minutes.
Add the cream, stir and place in preheated oven.  Bake for 15 minutes.
Remove from oven and serve over mashies or rice.  Yum!  Enjoy!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Summer Salmon Salad in Shells

This is very simple, yet packed with so much flavor.  I love the combo of the salmon with all the fresh veggies and the simple dressing.  Super yummy and refreshing.  Enjoy!
Ingredients:
-18-20 jumbo pasta shells
-1/2 small head of broccoli, cut into florets
-1 (7.5 oz) can salmon, drained and flaked
-1 can cherry tomatoes, halved
-4-5 green onions, finely chopped
-1/4 cup mayonnaise
-1/4 cup ranch dressing
Directions:
Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain, rinse in cold water and drain again.
Meanwhile, bring a small pot of water to a boil.  Blanche the broccoli florets for 2 minutes.  Drain and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking and keep that beautiful green color.  Drain well and place in large bowl.  To that, add the salmon, cherries and onions.  Mix well. Add the mayo and ranch.  Give it a good stir and make sure everything is coated evenly.  
Scoop mixture into cooked shells.
Enjoy right away or store in the fridge until ready to eat!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Cheesy-Beefy Casserole

We all love this dish.  It's easy, super cheesy and yummy.  Enjoy!
Ingredients:
-1 lb pasta (rigatoni, rotini, etc)
-2 lbs extra lean ground beef
-1 bell pepper, chopped
-1 small onion, finely chopped
-1 (24 oz) jar marinara sauce
-1 (10 3/4 oz) can condensed cheddar cheese soup
-1 tsp salt
-1 tsp pepper
-1 tsp dried parsley flakes
-8 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain.
Meanwhile, cook the beef, bell pepper and onion over medium heat, until meat is cooked through. Drain and set on counter.
To the meat mixture add the sauce, cheese soup, salt, pepper and parsley. Give it a good stir. Add the drained pasta and mix very well.
Pour into 9x13 baking dish. Sprinkle all over with the cheese.
Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let it sit for 5 minutes.  Scoop onto plates and enjoy!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Cheesy Noodles with Ham and Broccoli

This is a great dish in under 30 minutes!  Everything combines beautifully and fast.  I love the creaminess of the cheesy sauce with the noodles, ham and broccoli. Enjoy!
Ingredients:
-12 oz egg noodles
-16 oz frozen broccoli florets
-16 oz cubed ham
-1/3 cup salted butter
-1/2 cup heavy cream
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp pepper
-1/2 tsp garlic powder
-1 cup shredded mozzarella
-1 cup shredded Parmesan
Directions:
Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add the noodles and cook for 3 minutes.  Add the broccoli and cook for 2 more minutes.  Add the ham and cook for 2 minutes.  Drain and return to stove over low heat.
Add the butter and stir until melted.  Add remaining ingredients and give it a good stir.  Scoop onto plates and enjoy!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Banana Bread

I can't believe I've never posted this recipe on this blog! It's a basic banana bread recipe, super easy with super delicious results.  For me, the walnuts are a must, but you can leave them out if you prefer to.  Enjoy!
Yields one large loaf
Ingredients:
-1 cup sugar
-1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
-2 large eggs
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-3 very ripe bananas
-1/2 cup buttermilk
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 tsp baking soda
-2 cups flour
-1/2 cup chopped walnuts, optional
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 F.  Coat the bottom and sides of a large loaf pan with baking spray (the one with butter and flour).  Set aside.
In your mixer's bowl, cream the sugar and butter.  Once smooth, add the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla.  Peel the bananas and add chunks of it into the running mixer. Stir in the buttermilk, salt, baking soda and flour, half of cup at a time.  Add the walnuts.
Pour mixture into prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 60 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
Cool in pan over wire rack for 10-15 minutes.  Carefully, remove bread from pan and place on wire rack to cool completely.  Slice and enjoy!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Veggie-Feta Dip

I love chips and dip.  That's why once in a while I like to come up with different dips and experiment.  This is inspired from my childhood when, especially during the summer, when tomatoes are at their finest, we had a simple tomato-cucumber salad with some feta and hot bread.  What a delight!   This is the dip version of that with all the fresh veggies, the feta and of course the chips.  Yum!  Enjoy!
Ingredients:
-8 oz garden vegetable cream cheese, at room temperature
-1/4 cup plain yogurt (Greek works fine too)
-8 oz crumbled feta cheese
-1 garlic clove, finely minced
-1/2 tsp pepper
-1 cucumber, peeled and diced
-2 tomatoes, chopped
-4 green onions, cleaned and chopped
-1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and halved
Directions:
Mix the cream cheese, yogurt, feta, garlic and pepper.  Pour mixture on bottom of serving dish.  Top with the cucumber, tomatoes, onions and olives.  
Scoop up with chips and enjoy!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Egg and Macaroni Salad

I really love pasta salads and this is yet another quick and delicious one.  Enjoy!
Ingredients:
-1 lb elbow macaroni
-5 large eggs
-1 cup mayonnaise
-1 tsp sugar
-1 tsp apple cider vinegar
-1 tsp salt
-1 tsp pepper
-1/2 tsp yellow mustard
-6 green onions
Directions:
Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain, rinse in cold water and drain again.
While pasta is cooking,  hard boil the eggs. Cool, peel and chop the eggs.
In your large salad bowl, mix together the mayo, sugar, vinegar, salt, pepper and mustard.  Mix very well.  Clean and chop the green onions.  Add to the dressing and mix well.
Toss in the drained pasta and give it a good stir to coat evenly.  Fold in the chopped hard boil eggs.  Enjoy!


Friday, May 12, 2017

Cod and Noodles with Wasabi Vinaigrette

This is quick and light, yet filling.  I love the light texture of the cod combined with the heartiness of the noodles and the sweetness of the bell pepper and edamame.  Really wonderful combo!  Enjoy!
Ingredients:
For wasabi vinaigrette:
-1/3 cup rice vinegar
-1/4 cup sesame oil
-3 Tbs wasabi sauce
-1 large garlic clove
-1/2 tsp ground ginger
Remaining ingredients:
-4 cod filets
-salt
-3 (3 oz each) packages ramen noodles***discard seasoning packets
-1 red bell pepper, seeded, halved and sliced
-1 cup frozen edamame, shelled
-3 cups baby spinach
-sesame seeds
Directions:
In your blender, combine all vinaigrette ingredients and process until smooth.
Line a baking sheet with foil. Place cod on top.  Top each piece of fish with 1-2 Tbs of the vinaigrette.  Sprinkle with a dash of salt.  Broil on HIGH for about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook noodles in boiling water for 2 minutes.  Add the bell pepper and edamame and cook for 1 more minutes.  Drain and rinse in cold water.  Drain again.
To the noodles, add the spinach and give it a good toss.
Divide noodle mixture between 4 bowls.  Top each with a piece of cod and sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Enjoy!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Kielbasa with Creamy Alfredo Pasta

This is a super quick meal and very delicious.  I just love the creaminess of the sauce.  The cream cheese blends perfectly with the heavy cream and Parmesan cheese.  Super yummy!  Enjoy!
Ingredients:
-1 lb Polska kielbasa
-1 lb pasta (any kind you like)
-1 stick (1/2 cup) salted butter
-4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
-2 cups heavy cream
-1 tsp garlic powder
-1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
-1 tsp salt
-1 tsp pepper
Directions:
Cut the sausage in half lengthwise, then slice.  Place in heated skillet and cook until golden brown. Remove from stove.
Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package instructions.  Drain and set aside.
While the pasta is cooking, melt butter in large saucepan.  Add the cream cheese and whisk until smooth.  Stir in the heavy cream and garlic powder.  Bring to a simmer, lower the heat and cook for 5 minutes. Add the cheese, salt and pepper.  Give it a good stir.  
Pour sauce over drained pasta.  Add the cooked kielbasa.  Mix well, serve and enjoy!

Monday, May 1, 2017

BBQ Pork Pasta Salad

I really love pasta salads and I'm always looking for finding new ways of enjoying them.  The other day I came across this recipe and I knew I had to make it.  It was an instant hit for our family.  It's quick, easy and very yummy.  Enjoy!
Ingredients:
-1 lb pasta (rotini, penne, fusilli, etc)
-2 Tbs apple cider vinegar
-1 tsp Louisiana style hot sauce
-1/2 tsp chili powder
-1/8 tsp garlic powder
-1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
-1 cup mayonnaise
-1/2 cup bbq sauce (I prefer Sweet Baby Ray's)
-1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
-6-8 green onions, cleaned and chopped
-16 oz pulled pork in bbq sauce
Directions:
Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain and rinse with cold water. Drain again very well.
While the pasta is cooking, in your big salad bowl mix the vinegar, hot sauce, chili powder, garlic powder, cayenne and mayo.  Mix very well.  Add cooled and drained pasta and remaining ingredients.  Mix very well and place in the fridge for a couple of hours.  
To serve, scoop into bowl and heat for 1 minute in the microwave.  DELICIOUS! Enjoy!
Slightly altered from a recipe courtesy of the Neely's on foodnetwork.com 

Friday, April 28, 2017

Banana-Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

I love having overripe bananas because there are so many yummy things to make with them, like these amazing cookies. These are moist and super delicious, a perfect combo of banana and chocolate.  Yum!  Enjoy!
Yields 2.5-3 dozen cookies
Ingredients:
-1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
-1 cup sugar
-2 large eggs
-2 ripe bananas
-1 tsp baking soda
-1 tsp salt
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-2 1/2 cups flour
-1 cup dark chocolate chips
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line a couple of cookies sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
In your electric mixer bowl, cream the butter and sugar.  Add the eggs, one at a time.  Toss is the ripe peeled bananas and mix well.  Add baking soda, salt, vanilla and flour, 1/2 cup at a time.  Mix well.  Stir in the chocolate chips.
Scoop dough onto prepared sheets. Bake in preheated oven for 15-17 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on the sheets for 10 minutes.  Place cookies on wire rack to cool completely.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Baked Cod with French Creole Sauce

I love fish and try to make it for my family at least once a week. This is a great way to enjoy a nice piece of cod.  It's quick, easy and delicious.  It's also got a very nice kick to it.  I like to serve ours with mashed potatoes and salad/veggies.  Enjoy!
Ingredients:
-olive oil cooking spray
-1 lb cod fillets (about 4 pieces)
-2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
-2 tsp Dijon mustard
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp Creole seasoning
-1 Tbs lemon juice
-2 tsp dried parsley leaves
Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 F.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Coat foil with olive oil cooking spray.  Place cod fillets on top.
In a small bowl, combine remaining ingredients.  Divide mixture evenly on top of each piece of cod.
Bake in preheated oven for about 20 minutes.  Serve immediately.  Enjoy!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Eggs in Purgatory

I have been wanting to make this for a long time, but always postponed it for so many reasons. Well, last week, I finally made it and I'm so glad I did because it's super delicious.  This recipe makes enough for 1 person, so plan accordingly if you plan on sharing.šŸ˜‰  Enjoy!
Ingredients:
-1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
-2 garlic cloves, minced
-1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
-1 (14 oz) can crushed tomatoes
-1 tsp dried basil
-2 large eggs
-salt and pepper
-1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Directions:
Heat oil in large skillet.  Add the garlic and pepper flakes and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring constantly and not letting the garlic brown.
Add tomatoes and basil.  Give it a good stir and bring to a simmer. Let it simmer for 5 minutes.
Carefully, break the eggs and place them on top of tomato mixture. Season the eggs with salt, pepper and Parmesan.  Cover and let it simmer for 5 minutes.
Carefully, pour that goodness onto serving plate. Make sure you have some sort of bread or rolls to dip into that tomato delight and the runny eggs.  YUM!  Enjoy!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Oven Roasted Ranch Vegetables

We absolutely love this simple side dish. It's quick, super filling and super delicious!  Enjoy!
Ingredients:
-1.5 lbs baby potatoes
-1 red onion
-1 lb asparagus
-2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
-1 (1 oz) package ranch dressing dry mix
-1 tsp paprika
-1 tsp pepper
Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Cut the potatoes in half (or quarters, if they're really big).  Place on large baking sheet.  Half the onion, then slice and mix with the potatoes.  Break the woody ends of the asparagus and discard.  Break asparagus stems into 1.5 inch pieces and mix with the other veggies.  To the pan, add remaining ingredients. Mix very well, until all the veggies are evenly coated with the oil and spices.
Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until potatoes are tender.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Slow Cooker Melt-In-Your-Mouth Chicken Thighs

This is super easy to put together and the results are fantastic.  The chicken gets super tender and it literally melts in your mouth.  The spices are also a nice combo with such a nice flavor.  I like to serve ours with the individual potato gratins.  They are such a good match. Enjoy!
Ingredients:
-4 chicken thighs, skin-on, bone-in
-1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
-2 tsp paprika (smoked paprika works even better if you can find it)
-1 tsp garlic powder
-1 tsp seasoned salt
-1 Tbs dried dill
Directions:
Coat bottom of slow cooker with cooking spray.  Place chicken thighs on top.
In a small bowl, mix remaining ingredients.  Rub evenly on all thighs.  Cover and cook on low for 5 hours.  Enjoy!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Hawaiian Pasta Salad

I love pasta salads.  They're easy, convenient, hearty and delicious; absolutely perfect for crazy, busy days.  This is one of my favorites because I always enjoy a good combo of ham and pineapple. Enjoy!
Ingredients:
For salad:
-1 lb garden rotini
-1 (20 oz ) can pineapple chunks
-1 red bell pepper, diced
-16 oz cubed ham
-5-6 green onions, chopped
-8 oz mozzarella cheese, cubed
For dressing:
-juice reserved from pineapple
-1/2 cup mayonnaise
-1/4 cup sour cream
-1 Tbs Dijon mustard
-1 tsp apple cider vinegar
-1 tsp honey
-1/2 tsp garlic powder
-1 tsp pepper
Directions:
Cook pasta in boiling water for 10 minutes.  Drain and rinse with cold water until cool. Drain and place in salad bowl.  Drain the pineapple, reserving the juice for the dressing. Add pineapple and remaining ingredients to the pasta.  Give it a good stir.
In a separate bowl, combine all dressing ingredients.  Pour over pasta mixture.  Give it a good stir, cover and place in the fridge for 2-3 hours.  Serve and enjoy!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Dark Chocolate Brownie Cake

I recently made this for my daughter's birthday.  It's easy and so, so delicious!  Every bite is a piece of heaven with its decadence from the rich dark chocolate flavor.  The ganache on top is also dark chocolate and very rich and decadent.  YUM!  Enjoy!
Ingredients:
For cake:
-1 (15.25 oz) box dark chocolate fudge cake mix
-1 (18.2 oz) box dark chocolate fudge brownie mix
-4 large eggs
-1 cup vegetable oil
-1 1/4 cup water
For ganache:
-1 cup heavy cream
-12 oz dark chocolate chips
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 F.  Coat a bundt cake pan with baking cooking spray (the one with butter and flour).  Set aside.
In your electric mixer's bowl, combine all cake ingredients.  Mix very well, then pour in prepared pan.  Bake in preheated oven for 50 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
Place pan with cake on wire rack and cool for 20 minutes.  Carefully, turn the cake on the wire rack and let cool completely.  Once cooled, carefully transfer onto serving plate.
Once all that is done, pour ganache ingredients in large saucepan.  Melt over medium-low heat, stirring continuously. Remove from heat and let it sit for 5 minutes.  Give it a good stir until nice and smooth.  Pour that goodness on top of the cooled cake.  Enjoy and store any leftovers in the fridge. YUM!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Quick and Easy Honey-Garlic Shrimp

This is another delicious dish under 30 minutes, perfect for those busy nights.  I like to serve ours with rice and some sort of veggie on the side.  Enjoy!
Ingredients:
-2 lbs medium/large shrimp, peeled, deveined, with tails removed
-1/3 cup honey
-1/4 cup soy sauce
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-1/2 tsp ground ginger
Directions:
Spray large skillet with cooking spray and heat on medium-high. Add the shrimp and cook until almost completely done.
While that's cooking, quickly stir together remaining ingredients.  Pour over shrimp.  Cook for another couple of minutes.
Serve immediately over rice, with plenty of that yummy sauce.  Enjoy!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Spinach-Chicken Salad with Avocado and Strawberries

I love quick and super tasty salads and this surely is one of those.  It's easy and super delicious, and quite filling too.  The marinade/dressing is the key to how tasty this is. Also, all the flavors combine beautifully.  Great salad!  Yum!  Enjoy!
Ingredients:
For marinade/dressing:
-1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
-1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
-1 tsp sugar
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp pepper
For salad:
-2 large chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
-6 oz baby spinach
-8 fresh strawberries, hulled and cut into chunks
-1 avocado, pitted and sliced
-1/2 small red onion, sliced
-1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
-1/4 cup sliced almonds
Directions:
Combine all dressing ingredients.  Pour half into large ziploc bag.  Cut the chicken into chunks and place in bag with half the marinade.  Stir to combine and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, but no longer than 2 hours.
Heat up a nonstick large skillet.  When hot, add the chicken and sear until cooked through.  Remove from stove and let it cool for a little.
Assemble your yummy salad by topping your plate with spinach, strawberries, chicken, avocado, onion, feta, almonds and, of course, a drizzle of the super yummy dressing.  Enjoy!
Slightly adapted from a recipe found here.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Mexican-inspired sausage and pasta casserole

Oh, what a delight this quick meal is!  It's done in under one hour and it bursts with so much flavor! I use sage sausage for this, because it's our family's favorite, but you can use any bulk sausage you like, even the spicy kind.  The green salsa adds a lot of flavor as well.  And when you serve it make sure to add the fresh tomatoes and jalapeƱos.  Such a cheesy delight!  Enjoy!
Ingredients:
-1 lb rigatoni pasta
-1 lb bulk sage pork sausage
-1 medium onion, finely chopped
-16 oz medium salsa verde
-8 oz shredded Monterey-Jack cheese
-4 Roma tomatoes, chopped
-2 jalapeƱos, seeded, halved and sliced
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 F.  Lightly grease a 9x13 pan with cooking spray and set aside.
Cook the pasta for only 10 minutes.  Drain.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook the sausage and onion, breaking the meat as it cook.  Once the meat is browned, stir in the green salsa.  Give it a good stir.
Place pasta on bottom of prepared pan.  Top with sausage mixture.  Sprinkle with the cheese all over the top.
Bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let it sit for 5 minutes.
Scoop onto plates and top with tomatoes and jalapeƱos.  Enjoy!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Coconut Macaroons

We absolutely love this super easy and delicious macaroons.  It's a breeze to put together and they're ready in under one hour.  Delicious!  Enjoy!
This recipe yields about 30 macaroons.
Ingredients:
-1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
-14 oz sweetened coconut flakes
-2/3 cup flour
-a pinch of salt
-2 tsp vanilla extract
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line a couple of cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
In a large bowl, using a wooden spoon, mix all of the ingredients.  Using a regular spoon, scoop up some of the mixture and drop onto prepared sheets.
Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from the oven and place trays on wire racks.  Cool completely and enjoy!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Slow Cooker Chicken with Roasted Pepper and Black Beans

This is another great dish, super easy to put together and perfect for a busy night.  Enjoy!
Ingredients:
-4 chicken thighs, skin-on, bone-in
-1 large onion, halved and sliced
-1 (16 oz) jar roasted pepper, drained and cut into strips
-1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
-1 (14.5 oz) can Mexican style stewed tomatoes, do NOT drain
-1 tsp salt
-1 tsp pepper
-cooked rice, to serve
Directions:
Coat your slower cooker with cooking spray.  Add the chicken.  Place the onion slices, peppers, beans and tomatoes evenly on top of chicken.  Sprinkle with the salt and pepper, and give it a little stir.  Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours.
Serve on top of cooked rice.  Enjoy!
Slightly adapted from a recipe found on tasteofhome.com 

Friday, March 24, 2017

Mint Chocolate Frozen Pie

I love those ready to use graham cracker/cookie pie crusts.  All you have to do is fill them up and enjoy the yumminess! Such is the case with this one.  I made a super easy ice cream filling, plopped it in the freezer and enjoyed it with my family.  So easy and so delicious!  Enjoy!
Ingredients:
-1 (9 inch) Oreo pie crust
-4 cups mint chocolate chip ice cream, softened
-5 mint Oreos, chopped
-1/2 cup Andes mints chips
Directions:
Pour softened ice cream into crust.  Top with chopped Oreos and mint chips. Cover and freeze for about 4 hours.  Slice and enjoy!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Cheater's Chicken Enchiladas

We all love a delicious enchilada now and then, but let's face it that it is a bit time consuming; although truly worth it.  These yummies are super fast (under 30 minutes) because I used already roasted chicken, a quick sauce and lots of cheese.  That's it!  The flavors are awesome and the enchiladas are nice and creamy.  This makes for a delicious meal that's quick and hearty.  Enjoy!
Ingredients:
-1 (10 3/4 oz) can cream of chicken soup
-1 cup sour cream
-1 tsp pepper
-4-5 cups rotisserie or roasted chicken, shredded
-2 cups Pepper Jack cheese, shredded, divided
-6 large (8 inches) flour tortillas
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 F.  Coat a 9x13 pan with cooking spray and set aside.
In a large bowl, mix the soup, sour cream and pepper.  Mix well and spread half of it on the bottom of prepared pan.
Divide chicken and 1 1/2 cups of the cheese in between the tortillas.  Spread in the middle, then carefully wrap each of them and place on top of the sauce in the pan.
Pour remaining sauce evenly on top of each enchilada and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes.  Enjoy!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Quick and Easy Oreo Cheesecake Pie

With a super crazy schedule, I always try to find ways to make yummy things that are very quick and easy.   I love how nowadays there are so many conveniences right at our fingertips.  Such is the case with this delicious pie.  Did you know that Kraft Philadelphia has a cheesecake mix ready to use? I didn't either until recently when I spotted it in the dairy section at the grocery store.  How awesome is that!  So, I tossed in that a few crushed oreos, poured it all into a ready crust and there you have a super yummy pie!  Our family loves this one.  Enjoy!
Ingredients:
-1 (24.3 oz) tub Philadelphia cheesecake mix
-12 oreos, crushed
-1 (9 inch) Oreo pie crust
Directions:
In a large bowl, mix the cheesecake with the oreos.  Pour into crust.  Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or until ready to serve.  Slice and enjoy!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Bacon-Spinach Salad

I love simple salads.  I grew up with eating salad with simple variations on the oil-vinegar dressing.  Most of the time it was just olive oil and regular vinegar.  Nowadays there are so many types of oil and vinegar that I just have to try different variations.  For this one I tried grapeseed oil and raspberry infused balsamic vinegar.  Quite a delicious combination!  And, of course, the bacon enhances the flavor with its very tasty presence. Enjoy!
Ingredients:
For salad:
-1 lb bacon
-10 oz baby spinach
-1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
-1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
For dressing:
-1/4 cup grapeseed oil
-1/8 cup raspberry infused balsamic vinegar
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp pepper
Directions:
Cut the bacon into large pieces and fry until nice and crisp.  Drain on paper towels.
Once that's done, mix all salad ingredients together in a large bowl.
In a small bowl, whisk dressing ingredients.  Pour over salad and mix well to coat evenly.  Enjoy!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Cheesy Broccoli and Tortellini

This is one of those super quick meals for a super busy day.  It's very easy to put together and it becomes a hearty, delicious, creamy meal.  Enjoy!
Ingredients:
-2 cups heavy cream
-1 small head broccoli, cut into florets
-2 1/2 cups shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
-1 tsp pepper
-24 oz three cheese tortellini
Directions:
Place heavy cream in large sauce pan on the stove and cook for a couple of minutes.  Add the broccoli florets and cook for another 5 minutes. Stir in 2 cups of the Parmesan and the 1 tsp pepper.  Mix well and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes or until mixture is thickened.
Meanwhile, cook tortellini according to package directions.  Drain and add to the broccoli mixture.  Give it a good stir.  
Scoop some onto plate and sprinkle with some of the remaining Parmesan.  YUM!  Enjoy!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Strawberry-Banana Jello Salad

One of my sons had the scouts banquet and I was asked to provide a jello salad.  I have to admit that I love eating jello salad, but have never bothered to make one because usually at our local church functions someone always brings some, so I never had a need to make one.  Well, this time I had to make one.  Great thing too because this quickly became a family favorite.  It's easy, fluffy, light and oh, so delicious!  I also love the nice touch of the fresh strawberries and bananas.  Delicious!  Enjoy!
Ingredients:
-2 cups water
-1 (5.1 oz) package vanilla pudding and pie filling
-2 (3 oz each) packages strawberry gelatin
-16 oz frozen whipped topping, thawed
-5 oz mini marshmallows
-2 cups fresh strawberries, finely chopped
-3 bananas, chopped
Directions:
Place water in medium pan.  Add the pudding and gelatin.  Give it a good stir and bring to a boil.  Remove from stove and immediately pour mixture into your electric mixer's bowl.  Let it sit on your counter for about 30 minutes to cool a little.  Don't put it in the fridge right off the stove because it will kill your fridge! Once the mixture cooled for 30 minutes, cover it with plastic wrap and place it in the fridge.  Leave it there for about 6 hours.
Beat mixture on high for 3-4 minutes.  It should become nice and fluffy. Fold in remaining ingredients.
Pour into serving bowl and serve immediately.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Cheddar-Ranch Chicken Thighs

This recipe is super easy to put together and the result is fantastic.  The mayonnaise makes the chicken so tender that it melts in your mouth!  The flavors are absolutely amazing.  I like to serve this with my cheddar zucchini rice to make it a completely delicious meal. Enjoy!
Ingredients:
-4 chicken thighs, skin-on, bone-in
-salt and pepper
-1/2 cup mayonnaise
-1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
-3 garlic cloves, minced
-1 (1 oz) envelope ranch seasoning and salad dressing mix
-1/3 cup Italian style Panko crumbs
Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 F.  Coat 9x13 pan with cooking spray.  
Score the chicken on the skin side.  Season with a little salt and pepper on both sides, then place skin side up in prepared pan.
In a small bowl combine the mayo, cheese, garlic and ranch.  Mix well, then spread evenly on top of chicken thighs.  Sprinkle chicken with Panko crumbs.
Bake in preheated oven for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown and chicken is cooked through.
Serve with my cheddar-zucchini rice.  Enjoy!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Fried Chicken on Waffles with Maple Syrup Gravy

Who would've thought that these could go so perfect together!  I absolutely loved the subtle spiciness of the chicken combined with the sweetness of the gravy.  It is a match made in heaven!  This is one of our favorite family meals.  Enjoy!
Ingredients:
For the chicken:
-vegetable or canola oil, for frying
-8 chicken thighs, bone-in and skin-on
-1 1/2 cups flour
-1 1/2 Tbs seasoned salt
-1 Tbs garlic powder
-2 tsp ground black pepper
-1 tsp cayenne
For the gravy:
-1/2 cup butter
-6 Tbs flour
-2 cups chicken stock
-1/2 cup brown sugar
-1 cup  pure maple syrup
-salt and pepper, to taste
For the waffles:
-2 cups flour
-1 tsp salt
-4 tsp baking powder
-2 Tbs sugar
-2 eggs, beaten
-1 1/2 cups warm milk
-1/3 cup butter, melted
-1 tsp vanilla extract
Directions:
Start by making the fried chicken.
Heat oil in frying pan to medium heat.  Do not raise the temperature or your chicken will burn and not cook all the way through!
Score each thigh on both sides.
Mix flour, salt, garlic powder, pepper and cayenne in shallow dish.  Dredge scored chicken and coat well on both sides.  Add chicken to hot oil.  Cook for 10-15 minutes on each sides, or until golden brown and juices run clear.  Drain on paper towels.
As the chicken is getting happy, make the gravy.
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan.  Add the flour to form a roux.  Add chicken stock and brown sugar.  Cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until it thickens.  Add the maple syrup, salt and pepper.  Adjust the seasoning according to your taste.  Stir well and cook for about 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.
Finally, let's make the waffles.
Mix all ingredients together by hand until well blended, with no lumps.  Ladle batter into preheated waffle iron.  Cook until golden brown.
To assemble the dish, place a waffle on bottom of plate.  Place a piece of chicken on top of the waffle and top with delicious gravy.  Serve hot and enjoy!

Friday, March 3, 2017

Apple-Cranberry-Pecan Strudels

Sometimes I have ingredients in the house that I kind of forget about, but need to be used soon.  So it happened this past weekend when I was inventorying my kitchen and discovered that I have everything needed to make beautiful, delicious apple strudels!  I always love a good, fresh strudel and so does my family.  These turned out super delicious and we enjoyed them with some vanilla ice cream on top.  Enjoy!
Ingredients:
-2 lbs apples, shredded (keep peel on and shred until reaching core, which will be discarded)
-1/2 cup sugar
-1/2 cup dried cranberries
-1/2 cup pecan chips
-1/2 tsp cinnamon
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-1 tsp rum extract
-1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted
-15 phyllo dough sheets, thawed according to package directions
For Topping:
-1 Tbs sugar
-1 tsp cinnamon
-vanilla ice cream, optional
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350.
In a large bowl, combine the shredded apples, sugar, cranberries, pecans, vanilla and rum.  Mix very well and set aside.
Using some of the melted butter, brush the bottom of 9x13 pan.  Top with one phyllo dough sheet.  Brush its top with butter. Repeat until you have 5 sheets all buttered.  Top with half of the apple mixture (make sure to not add any of the juice from the bowl).  Top apple mixture with 5 more phyllo sheets, brushing each of them with butter.  Top with remaining apple mixture and the remaining 5 sheets (brushed with butter).
Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon on top.  Bake in preheated oven for 55-60 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove from oven and let it sit for 5-10 minutes.  Cut into pieces and top with some vanilla ice cream, if desired.  YUM!  Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Easy Dark Chocolate-Cherry Cupcakes

I've been cheating with these delicious cupcakes by using pre-made cake mix and frosting.  But, the results are amazing!  You get these super moist, decadent cupcakes with the cherry surprise flavor.  Yummm!  Enjoy!
Ingredients:
-1 (15.25 oz) box dark chocolate fudge cake mix
-1/2 cup vegetable oil
-1 1/3 cups water
-3 large eggs
-cherry preserves (we prefer Smucker's)
-14 oz whipped cream cheese frosting
-maraschino cherries
-chocolate sprinkles
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line two muffin pans with cupcake liners and set aside.
In your mixer's bowl, combine the cake mix, oil, water and eggs.  Beat until nice and smooth.  Pour batter evenly in prepared pans. Place a generous teaspoon of cherry preserves in the middle of each cupcake.
Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and cool in pans for 10 minutes.  Remove cupcakes from pans and place on wire rack.  Cool completely.
Once cooled, frost each cupcake with the whipped cream cheese frosting and top with some chocolate sprinkles and a maraschino cherry.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Chicken, Spinach and Gnocchi Soup

With the colder weather returning, this soup is exactly what we needed!  Even better is that I got to use stuff that needed to be used, like leftover roasted chicken and a half of onion.  The flavors are absolutely amazing and the soup is delicious and hearty.  YUM!  Enjoy!
Ingredients:
-1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
-1/2 red (or yellow) onion, finely chopped
-1 garlic clove, minced
-3 cups rotisserie chicken, diced OR 2 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless, cooked and diced
-4 cups chicken broth
-1 tsp salt
-1 tsp pepper
-1 (6 oz) bag baby spinach
-2 cups half and half
-16 oz gnocchi
Directions:
Heat oil in large pot.  Add the onion and garlic.  Cook for 3-4 minutes or until onion is nice and translucent.  Add the chicken chunks, broth, salt and pepper.  Give it a good stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let it simmer for about 10 minutes.
Stir in the half and half and spinach.  Mix well and cook for 1 minute.  Lastly, add the gnocchi and cook for 3-4 minutes.
Ladle into bowls and enjoy!
Slightly adapted from a recipe found here.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Saucy Shrimp and Pasta

This is a quick, easy and absolutely delicious meal!  It's ready in about 20 minutes and you'll want seconds for sure. šŸ˜‰ Enjoy!
Ingredients:
-3 cups uncooked penne pasta
-1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
-1 garlic clove, minced
-1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
-12 oz medium shrimp, peeled, deveined, with tails removed
-1 1/2 cups spaghetti sauce (your favorite should work just fine)
-1 (16 oz) jar classic Alfredo sauce
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp pepper
-2 tsp dried parsley leaves
Directions:
Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain.
Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet.  Add the garlic, crushed pepper flakes, and shrimp.  Cook for 2-3 minutes or until shrimp turns pink.  Add the remaining ingredients.  Give it a good stir and cook for one minute.  Add the drained pasta.  Mix well, serve onto plates, and garnish with a little more parsley.  Enjoy!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Pecan Brownies with Cream Cheese Topping

These are some of the best brownies ever!  They are super rich and each bite is insanely delicious!  Enjoy!
Ingredients:
For Pecan Brownies:
-1 (16 oz) box super moist devil's food cake mix
-1 large egg
-1 1/2 cups pecan chips
-1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted
For Cream Cheese Topping:
-2 large eggs
-16 oz powdered sugar
-8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
-1 tsp vanilla extract
Directions:
Preheat oven to 325 F. Coat 9x13 pan with cooking spray and set aside.
Mix all brownie ingredients until well incorporated.  Press into prepared pan.
In your mixer, combine all topping ingredients.  Beat until nice and smooth.  Pour oven brownie mix and spread evenly.
Bake in preheat oven for 40-45 minutes or until cream cheese topping is set. Remove from the oven and let it cool completely.  Cut into bars and enjoy!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Jerk Marinated Chicken with Fresh Mango Salsa

You absolutely have to make this dish.  The flavors are so amazing and fresh!  There's a hint of spice too, but the sweetness of the mango and red bell pepper take care of that.  Great dish, amazing flavors!  Enjoy!
Ingredients:
For Jerk Marinade:
-1 lime, juiced
-3 green onions, roughly chopped
-3 garlic cloves
-1 habanero or serano pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
-2 Tbs soy sauce
-1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
-1 Tbs packed brown sugar
-1/2 tsp cinnamon
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp pepper
Other:
-4 chicken thighs, skin-on, bone-in
-1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
-cooked rice
For Fresh Mango Salsa:
-2 mangos, peeled, pitted and diced
-1 red bell pepper, chopped
-1/2 red onion, finely chopped
-1 jalapeno, seeded and finely diced
-1 lime, juiced
Directions:
Place all marinade ingredients into your blender.  Process until smooth.  Pour into gallon ziploc bag.  Add the chicken thighs and mix until evenly coated. Marinade for at least 5 hours, preferably over night, turning the bag over once in a while.
When ready to serve, preheat the oven to 350 F.
Heat remaining 1 Tbs oil in large skillet.  Add the marinated chicken and sear for a few minutes on each side until nice and golden brown.  Note that the chicken will not be cooked through at this point.
While the chicken is searing, mix the salsa ingredients and set aside.
Once chicken is nicely browned, remove skillet from stove.  Top with that beautiful mango salsa.  Place in preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
Serve on top of rice.  Enjoy!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Quick and Easy Chocolate Mousse

This is one of our favorite desserts.  It's quick, easy and absolutely delicious.  And the secret ingredient is sour cream!  Yes, although surprising, it gives this mousse a nice, refreshing boost.  Great dessert!  Enjoy!
Ingredients:
-2 cups milk (at least 2%)
-1 (5.9 oz) package instant chocolate pudding and pie mix
-1/2 cup sour cream
-8 oz frozen whipped topping, thawed
-whipped cream, for garnishing
Directions:
In a large bowl, mix the milk and pudding mix with the whisk for 2 minutes. Let it stand for about 3 minutes or until soft set.
Add the sour cream and whipped topping.  Mix gently until very well incorporated. Pour into individual dishes.  Top with some extra whipped cream.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Slow Cooker Cajun Chicken with Beans and Rice

This is one of those great dishes where you put everything in your slow cooker and get a full, delicious meal at the end of the day.  The flavors are great in this dish and the chicken is cooked to perfection.  Enjoy!
Ingredients:
-4 cups chicken broth
-1 (16 oz) can red beans, rinsed and drained
-1 1/2 cups uncooked rice
-2 tomatoes, chopped
-1 green bell pepper, chopped
-1 Tbs dried parsley leaves
-3 Tbs Cajun seasoning
-4 chicken thighs, bone-in, skin-on
Directions:
In your slow cooker, mix the broth, beans, rice, tomatoes, pepper, parsley and 2 Tbs of the seasoning.  Top with the chicken and sprinkle remaining Cajun seasoning.  Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours.  Enjoy!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Cherie's Cucumber Limeade

My amazing friend, Cherie, made this delicious drink for our last book club.  I instantly fell in love with it and made it the next day for my family.  Yes, it's that good!  It's so fresh and the flavors are absolutely delicious together.  This drink is simply perfect for any season too.  Enjoy!
Ingredients:
-1 English cucumber, peeled and roughly chopped
-12 oz frozen concentrate limeade
-lots of ice
-2 (2 L each) bottles of Sprite
Directions:
In a very large pitcher mix the chopped cucumber with the frozen limeade.  Mix well and let it stand for 15-20 minutes to allow it to marinate.  Add the ice and soda.  Mix well, pour into glasses (without the cucumber chunks) and enjoy!

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