December 6, 2012

Spaghetti Pie

This one's from Mel's Kitchen Cafe. We really loved it! The only thing I did differently is not put any extra sauce on top after it was done baking. It calls for 2 c. sauce in the dish and the remainder to be served with it, so all I did was the 16 oz. tomato sauce (I didn't add the 28 oz. crushed tomatoes).

12 ounces thin spaghetti or vermicelli noodles
1 pound lean ground beef or ground turkey
1 small white or yellow onion, diced
1 clove garlic, finely minced (or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
16-ounces tomato sauce
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
4 ounces light cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup lowfat cottage cheese
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, divided
3/4 cup mozzarella cheese, divided
Lightly coat a deep 9 or 10-inch pie plate with cooking spray and set aside. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the noodles until al dente according to package directions. While the noodles boil, heat a large 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat and add the ground beef or turkey, breaking it into pieces with a wooden spoon. Add the onion, garlic, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally and continuing to break up the meat, until the meat is cooked through, 5-7 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and drain the excess grease, if any. Return the skillet to medium heat and stir in the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, dried basil and oregano. Simmer the sauce over medium or medium-low heat for 10 minutes.
When the noodles are done cooking, drain and return to the pot. Immediately stir in the cream cheese and toss the noodles by lightly lifting them up and over with tongs until the cream cheese is mostly melted. Stir in the cottage cheese, 1/2 cup of the Parmesan cheese and 1/2 cup of the mozzarella cheese. Toss until the noodles are evenly coated. Stir in 2 cups of the red sauce. Keep the remainder of the red sauce warm on the stove.
Scrape the noodles into the prepared pie plate and using a flat spatula, press the noodles evenly into the dish so they are tightly pressed together and evenly flat across the top. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan and 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese across the top.
Bake the spaghetti pie for 20-22 minutes, until it is hot and bubbly and the cheese is golden on top. Let the dish rest for 10 minutes. Cut into slices and serve with remaining red sauce.
Recipe Source: Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

Fat Punch

3 C apple juice
2 C cranberry juice
18 oz frozen orange juice concentrate
Juice of 3-4 lemons or 1 1/2 small bottles of lemon juice {the kind that looks like a lemon}
3 C sugar {I add 2 C sugar and then taste for sweetness and add until it tastes good, usually 2 1/2 C or so}
3 {2 liter} bottles of ginger ale

Mix all together but the ginger ale.
Add the ginger ale before serving.

October 23, 2012

Pasta e Fagioli Soup

1 lb ground beef
1 small onion, diced (1 cup)
3 stalks celery, chopped (1 cup)
1 large carrot, julienned (1 cup)
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
2 14.5 oz. cans petite diced tomatoes
1 15 oz. can pinto beans (Original recipe uses red kidney beans.  I don't like them personally, but you can use them if you like)
1 15 oz. can great northern beans
1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
12 oz V8 juice
1 Tablespoon white or red wine vinegar
1 ½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
½ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon thyme
½ pound ditali pasta (little round circles)

Brown the beef, drain. Add onion, carrots, celery & garlic. Saute for 10 min. Add remaining ingredients except pasta and let simmer 1 hour. Cook the pasta until al dente (a little firm) and then add to soup 5-10 min. before serving. Can also add pasta to each individual bowl to preserve leftovers (pasta sucks up all the liquid if sits too long).
Serves about 8.

August 24, 2012

Homemade Salsa

I got this recipe from my friend, Stacy. It is super delicious! I did change a couple things, and that is the nice thing with salsa. Add a little more or less of the things you want to make it to your taste. (hotter, more/different peppers, etc.)

1 sink full of fresh tomatoes (Romas are best & less juicy)
6 peppers, half green & half red (take out seeds&cores)
4 onions
6-8 jalapenos, not seeded (unless you like it super mild then take out seeds)
8 anaheim peppers, not seeded
3/4 overfilling cup red wine vinegar
1/4 - 1/2 cup lime juice
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup salt
Any additional seasonings you like: garlic, pepper, cumin, paprika, etc are all good

In a large pot, bring water to a boil.  Cut tops off tomatoes and blanch tomatoes in pot until skins start to split. (about 2-4 min. usually) A note: I use a pot with a colander to blanch the tomatoes,  easy to lift them in and out!  Dump into sink full of cold water & ice cubes. Repeat until all tomatoes are done.  Peel skins off of tomatoes and then drain water in sink, leaving just the skinless tomatoes.  You can also put the tomatoes into a large bowl if you'd rather.  (you can de-seed the tomatoes by squeezing if you want no/less seeds in your salsa. I did a quick squeeze when I made it) Take your tomatoes and blend them in a food processor or blender.  When you finish all the tomatoes, put them through a very fine strainer if there's a lot of liquid. You will want to strain off a large amount of the liquid so your salsa isn't too runny. Save the liquid in case you need to add it later, though!  (If using all Roma tomatoes, you'll strain a lot less liquid or even none at all FYI.)  I probably strain off at least 8 to 10 cups of liquid when I use regular garden tomatoes! Pour your tomatoes into a large stock pot. Set on stove top.

In a food processor, chop up all your peppers and onions as finely as you like. Add them to the tomatoes in the large pot. Add the remaining ingredients to the pot, stir well and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 1.5 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Pour salsa into jars, place lids on and put them into a steam bath. Use a steam canner and place water into the bottom, around half full. Once you have about 2" of steam coming out of your steam canner, start the timer for 20 min for quart jars or 15 min for pint jars. Reduce heat if needed, but make sure you allow a steady stream of 2" or more steam. When time is up, remove jars and let cool. (for me, this makes about 10-12 quart jars) Enjoy your salsa!

May 15, 2012

Cheesy Pretzel Rolls

These don't taste so much like a pretzel as they do a cheesy, addicting, roll in a pretzel shape. I will just say that the night I made these, we finished them off so quickly it's a little embarrassing.

Recipe from

  • 1 C warm water 
  • 1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 2 3/4 C flour, plus more for dusting the work surface
  • 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 1/2 C sharp cheddar cheese, grated

  1. Place the warm water in a bowl and sprinkle the yeast on top. Set aside to rest until the mixture bubbles, about 5 minutes.
  2. Place the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Add in the yeast mixture and mix with a dough hook until the dough is elastic and smooth, about 8 minutes (I didn't let mine mix that long, just a few minutes).
  3. Cover and let rest in a warm place until the dough doubles in size, about 30 to 35 minutes.
  4. Once the dough has risen, mix in cheese. Divide the dough into 16 pieces and form into long ropes. Form into a pretzel shape and tuck ends underneath. Allow to rise for about 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 400 and bake for 12 - 14 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm.

April 29, 2012

Puffed Pancake

Or German Pancake. Or Hootenanny. Whatever you like to call it, here's a good recipe. We love this. I like it with powdered sugar and a squeeze of fresh lemon- so good!

2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup flour
dash of salt
dash of cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Whisk together the eggs, milk, flour, salt and cinnamon in a bowl. While the oven is preheating, melt the butter in a pie pan or 9 inch square pan. Pour the batter into the hot melted buttered pan. Do not stir. Bake 10-12 minutes (or until the pancake is firm and has puffed around the edges).

Serve right away with lemon juice, powdered sugar, maple syrup, or fruit.

Lemon Crinkle Cookies

These were so light and yummy that I kept going back for more...and more! Recipe found at Lauren's Latest.

½ cup Butter, Softened
1 cup Granulated Sugar
½ teaspoons Vanilla Extract
1 whole Egg
1 teaspoon Lemon Zest
1 Tablespoon Fresh Lemon Juice
¼ teaspoons Salt
¼ teaspoons Baking Powder
⅛ teaspoons Baking Soda
1-½ cup All-purpose Flour
½ cups Powdered Sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease light colored baking sheets with non stick cooking spray and set aside.
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Whip in vanilla, egg, lemon zest and juice. Scrape sides and mix again. Stir in all dry ingredients slowly until just combined, excluding the powdered sugar. Scrape sides of bowl and mix again briefly. Pour powdered sugar onto a large plate. Roll a heaping teaspoon of dough into a ball and roll in powdered sugar. Place on baking sheet and repeat with remaining dough.
Bake for 9-11 minutes or until bottoms begin to barely brown and cookies look matte {not melty or shiny}. Remove from oven and cool cookies about 3 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.
*If using a non stick darker baking tray, reduce baking time by about 2 minutes.

Chocolate Chip Muffins

I've made these at least 3 or 4 times and keep forgetting to post the recipe, mainly because we eat them before I can take a picture. My kids LOVE these and beg for them. I found the recipe at My Baking Addiction.

2 cups flour
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2/3 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips


1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners or spray the wells of the pan with non-stick cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugars, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
3. In medium bowl, whisk together melted butter, eggs, milk, and vanilla, mixing until well combined.
4. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the liquid ingredients into the well. Stir until ingredients are just combined - do not over mix the batter. Fold in the chocolate chips.
5. Evenly divide the batter into the prepared muffin pan wells. Bake for 17-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.
6. Remove muffins to a wire rack and cool for at least 5 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

3-Ingredient Banana Bread

I credit Pinterest for this one. It was a huge success!! We loved it, and I don't think I'll make banana bread any other way now.

1 yellow cake mix
2 eggs
3 large ripe bananas
(I added 1 tsp. vanilla, 1 tsp. cinnamon and 1 c. mini chocolate chips)

Pour into two (sprayed) medium pans and bake at 350 for 35-40 min.

February 29, 2012

Alfredo Sauce

Most of the recipes I try come from Mel's Kitchen Cafe or Our Best Bites. You really can't go wrong with either! This one's from Mel's Kitchen Cafe, and I've made it three times. My kids love it, and it's super easy.

2 tablespoons butter
3 cloves garlic, finely minced or pressed through a garlic press (I used garlic powder)
4 ounces cream cheese, softened and cut into 6 pieces
1 cup milk
3 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1 cup)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt, more to taste, if needed
In a medium pot or skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly, taking care not to let the garlic burn. Add the cream cheese, stirring with a whisk until the mixture is smooth. It will look curdled at first, but with constant whisking for 2-3 minutes, it should come together to form a smooth, creamy paste. Add the milk gradually, about 1/4 cup at a time, whisking quickly and constantly until each addition is incorporated fully into the sauce. Stir in the Parmesan cheese, pepper and salt. Stir until the cheese is melted and the sauce is the desired consistency. Cook for 2-3 minutes for a thicker sauce or remove right after the cheese is melted for a thinner sauce. Serve immediately over hot, cooked noodles.

February 17, 2012

Oven Steak Fries

Recipe from here Picture shown is from website and shows parsley.

4 medium Russet potatoes, washed
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
*1/2 Parsley
*2 1/4 tsp. garlic salt
**1/2-1 tsp garlic and herb
Preheat oven to 400. Mix desired spices in a medium bowl. Add olive oil and combine well.  (I put it in a large ziplock bag.)
Cut potatoes into 8 wedges each.  (I have a food chopper thing (the one we got from dad) so I just slice my potatoes with that and I get a lot more than 8 wedges.)
Add potato wedges to seasonings and toss to coat.
Lightly crumple some aluminum foil and place on a baking sheet. Spray with cooking spray and then arrange potato wedges on foil. This makes cleanup easy because your potatoes won’t stick and it will also ensures they’re cooked evenly.
Bake at 400 for about 40 minutes.

*Other options from original recipe
**added by me :)
***p.s. I add both garlic and herb seasoning and garlic salt.

Copy-Cat Winger's Sticky Fingers

Recipe and picture from here

1 pkg. frozen breaded chicken strips (We've used Tyson brand and the Smith's ones by the meat counter.  We preferred the ones by the meat counter.)
6 Tbl. Frank's Hot Sauce (It has to be Franks Hot Sauce, no other sauce will taste as good)
4 Tbl. water
1 1/2 c. brown sugar

 Prepare the chicken strips as directed on the back of the package.

 Heat hot sauce, water and brown sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, until sugar is dissolved.

Pour sauce over chicken, and enjoy!
Serve with ranch dressing for dipping.
*I actually put mine in a tortilla with cheese.  It was really yummy.

**We also served them with these fries.

January 15, 2012

English Muffin Bread

This one's straight from Mel's Kitchen Cafe, and we're in love with it. The first time I made it, I told myself I'd never make it again because of how sticky the dough was. But I told myself that before it came out of the oven. Once I tasted it, I vowed to make it the rest of my life. The dough is so, so, so incredibly sticky, and it's a pain to handle. But it ends up being a good thing because of how light the bread turns out, with pockets of air that are perfect for soaking up butter. It's awesome fresh out of the oven, and amazing as toast. I've since made it again, and it was absolutely worth it.

*Makes 4 loaves of bread (8 1/2-inch by 4 1/2-inch)
5 1/2 cups very warm water
3 tablespoons instant yeast
2 tablespoons salt
3 tablespoons sugar
11 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
In a large bowl or bowl of an electric stand mixer, combine the water, sugar, salt and yeast. Mix. Add half of the flour. Mix. Add remaining flour. Mix. The dough will be very, very sticky. Don’t be alarmed! Cover the bowl and let the dough rise until doubled. Stir down the dough with a wooden spoon.
Grease four loaf pans (8 1/2-inch by 4 1/2-inch) generously with cooking spray. Divide the dough between the loaf pans. It helps to grease your hands because the dough is still sticky. The dough should fill the pans about halfway. Cover the loaves with lightly greased plastic wrap and let the bread rise until doubled. It will look puffy and bubbly.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25-28 minutes until lightly golden brown on top and baked through. Remove from the oven and turn the bread out onto a cooling rack. Butter the tops while still warm.
This bread can be frozen and/or it lasts, covered or bagged, at room temperature for several days.
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