Tag Archives: dinner

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Taco Stuffed Shells from She Knows and Gina

21 May
This Mexican/Italian meal was yummy!

This Mexican/Italian meal was yummy!

ORIGINALLY POSTED JUNE 26, 2013

I am never afraid to admit it: I love Facebook. I really do. I love connecting with people and I really love re-connecting with people. I also love food. I love seeing all the neat things that people are cooking and eating. Recently, a friend of Don’s from high school, Gina, posted the link to a recipe that he thought looked amazing. He posted it on my wall to see what I thought, and I thought it looked good too!

The recipe was from the site She Knows, and it certainly looked delicious! It was a recipe that combined jumbo Italian pasta shells with a Mexican filling. It sounded like something everyone would like and I actually had all but two of the ingredients to make it, we were only missing the taco seasoning and the cream cheese, both easy enough to pick up. This was also something we could make to fit our dietary restrictions just by using fat free cheese and low fat cream cheese. We also used ground turkey instead of ground beef, a leaner option.

This past weekend Don gave it at try. Using Gina’s recommendations, he also picked up a couple of side items: lettuce, tomato and avocado, which we served on the side. Everyone loved them! Everyone had second helpings also. This is a recipe I’d definitely make again.

Thank you for sharing, Gina!!

Stuffed Mexican shells recipe as seen on the “She Knows” website

Yields 16 stuffed shells

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 16 large pasta shells
  • 1 cup medium-spiced salsa, divided (more if desired) **we used mild, not medium
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese

Directions:

  1. Brown ground beef, drain and add in package of taco seasoning. Prepare meat according to taco seasoning packet directions.
  2. Once cooked down, add in cream cheese and stir until it’s completely combined. Set aside.
  3. Add water to a large pot and put on stove to boil. Once boiling, add in 1 tablespoon kosher salt and large pasta shells. Boil till al dente.
  4. Once shells are cooked, drain, lay out in a single row and cool till they are cool enough to touch. Fill each shell with taco/cream cheese mixture. Start off by adding 1 tablespoon per shell and then adding more if there is leftover filling.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  6. Add 1/2 cup salsa to the bottom of an 8 x 8-inch pan and put stuffed shells into the pan so they are snug. Top shells with remaining 1/2 cup salsa.
  7. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes until everything is warm.
  8. Take off foil and sprinkle with cheese and bake for another 15 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbling.

Resolutions and Recipes: Sweet and Sour Beef and Broccoli

9 Apr

ORIGINALLY POSTED JANUARY 13, 2012: Earlier this month, when I talked about grocery shopping on a budget, one of the staples that I mentioned buying pretty regularly was stew meat. I have two recipes that I use most regularly when making something with stew meat (and I NEVER make stew, I don’t like it.) Recently though, I was looking for something new and different to make with the beef. I did a search of Allrecipes.com and I found one. The recipe called for cooking the stew meat through, throwing in broccoli and onions and adding a teriyaki sauce to it while it simmers and everything cooks through. I figured I’d try it out since I almost always have broccoli on hand and I had an onion. So, I went on Allrecipes.com again and found a teriyaki sauce recipe.

The end result, a one-dish meal (I love one-dish meals) that got all thumbs up all around and looked like this:

Sweet and Sour Beef and Broccoli Teriyaki

I love a meal that you can make in just one pan. Easy to cook, serve and clean up.

Below is the recipe for the sauce as I found it on Allrecipes.com.

Restaurant Style Teriyaki Sauce

INGREDIENTS

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 cup water

1/2 tsp. grd. ginger

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

5 Tbl. packed brown sugar

1-2 Tbl. honey

2 Tbl. cornstarch

1/4 c. cold water

DIRECTIONS

1) Mix soy sauce, one cup water, ginger, garlic powder, brown sugar and honey in small sauce pan.

2) Mix cornstarch and 1/4 cup cold water together in a measuring cup.

3) Add the cornstarch and water to the pan of sauce.
Heat to desired thickness, add water to thin.

I served this on a bed of brown rice.

ENJOY!

Happy St. Patty’s Day: Irish Soda Bread

17 Mar

ORIGINALLY POSTED MARCH 16, 2012: Everyone loves a good Irish Soda Bread with their St. Patrick’s Day meal! This one was passed along to me by my father-in-law last winter and it was wonderful. I can’t wait to make it again this year. It’s probably the one and only recipe where I don’t think about subbing out the raisins for chocolate chips!!

INGREDIENTS

4 c  flour

1 c white sugar

1 tsp baking soda

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

3 eggs

1 pint sour cream

1 cup  raisins

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

Grease two 8×4″ loaf pans

Mix first five ingredients

Add eggs, sour cream and raisins

Mix until just combined

Distribute batter evenly between the two pans

Bake loaves 1 hour at 325 degrees

Superbowl Week: Chili and Loaded Chili ‘skins

29 Jan
Chili with shredded cheese, sour cream and chips

This chili looks almost too good to eat!

ORIGINALLY POSTED JANUARY 27, 2012:

Don makes a great chili, he really does. I’d never even HAD chili until I met him and had his. I also had never had peppers or onions because growing up my dad didn’t like either, so we steered clear of them when cooking. Now though, I eat all of those things and I especially love my husband’s chili. It’s perfect for Superbowl Sunday.

INGREDIENTS

5 lbs ground beef or ground turkey or ground pork (or any combination of the three)

2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped

2 six ounce cans of tomato paste and 2 cans of water

2 twenty-eight ounce cans of diced tomatoes

3 twelve ounce cans kidney and/or black beans

2 green peppers, chopped

1 large onion chopped

4-6 TBL chili powder

1 tsp. oregano

Salt/Pepper to taste

Sour cream, cheddar cheese, chips for topping

DIRECTIONS

1.) Combine and cook meat, garlic, oregano in large cooking pot

2) Add chopped peppers and onions

3) Add all other ingredients and cook on low for two to five hours.

If you’d like to cook this in the crock pot, cook up the meat first and then throw it all into the crock pot to cook on low for the 2-5 hours.

This is the sort of recipe you can make according to your taste. The spicier you like things, the more spicy ingredients you can add to it (hot sauce, chili powder, chili peppers etc.) The more mild you like it, the less you add.

****************************************************************************************************************

BONUS RECIPE: LOADED CHILI POTATO SKINS

Loaded chili potato skins

A bonus appetizer that you can use some of your chili to make.

We love potato skins and chili seems to lend itself to an additional appetizer idea: Loaded chili potato skins.

Cook up a bunch of baked potatoes ahead of time. Let them cool a bit.

Cut them in half and hollow them out, leaving about 1/4″ to 1/2″ of the potato in the skin.

Add some of your chili and some cheddar cheese to the inside, and bake them until cooked through.

Broil at the end to crisp up.

Add your favorite toppings: sour cream, guacamole, etc.

Got leftovers? Make a Turkey Pot Pie!

27 Nov

ORIGINALLY POSTED NOVEMBER 26, 2011:

One of the best things about having leftovers from Thanksgiving is being able to enjoy the feast for days to come. Although we do not have Thanksgiving at home, the recipe I am posting today is one of my favorite ways to use leftover turkey, so I thought I’d post it here for you, in case you  get tired of turkey sandwiches.

Turkey Pot Pie

INGREDIENTS

1pkg. (ten oz.) frozen peas and carrots (or whatever veggies you like in your pot pies)

1/4 cup butter or margarine

1/4 cup all purpose flour

1/4 tsp. pepper

1 can College Inn Chicken Broth

2/3 cup milk

2 1/2 to 3 cups cut up cooked turkey (or chicken)

Pastry for two 9″ crust pie

DIRECTIONS

Rinse frozen peas and carrots under running cold water to separate. Drain.

Heat margarine in 2 quart saucepan over low heat until melted.

Stir in flour and pepper.

Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is bubbly; remove from heat.

Stir in broth and milk. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly.

Boil and stir 1 minute. Stir in turkey and vegetables.

Pour turkey into pastry lined dish, flute the top crust.

Bake at 425 degrees until golden brown, about 35 minutes.

Pumpkin Palooza Recipe of the Day: MaryLou’s Sweet Potato Casserole

20 Nov

This is MaryLou. She makes a kickin’ Sweet Potato Casserole!

ORIGINALLY POSTED NOVEMBER 22, 2011:

Who is MaryLou, you ask? She’s my mother-in-law and she makes the best sweet potato casserole EVER!!  She knows how much I love it, and even if it’s NOT Thanksgiving, she’s often made it when we visit. I am always sure to sit myself next to the Sweet Potato Casserole at the table, whenever she makes it.

Since 450 miles is a LONG way to go for a bite of her casserole, she let me have the recipe in November 2004. I am now sharing it with you. You are very lucky. :)

INGREDIENTS:

3 cups sweet potatoes boiled and mashed

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla

1/2 cup margarine

Mix thoroughly and pour into buttered casserole dish.

TOPPING INGREDIENTS:

1 cup light brown sugar packed

1/2 cup flour

1 cup chopped pecans (this is a 6oz. pkg. halved pecans or so my notes say)

1/2 cup margarine melted

Mix with fork and sprinkle on top

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes

“Sit down and enjoy!”

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Cranberry Chicken

23 Oct
plate of cranberry chicken and green beans

You can serve this over rice for a perfect combination of flavors!

ORIGINALLY POSTED NOVEMBER 6, 2011:

*To make this recipe in a lower fat version, we use a mix of 1/2 wheat and 1/2 white flour and we use I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter instead of butter.*

Since it’s a frost-on-the-ground type of morning here in New England, I thought I’d post one of my favorite fall meals for you. I have posted this on FB before, and I even saw a friend on Facebook post it last night for her followers as well. It’s on my list of meals to make for dinner this week myself. I just bought a bag of cranberries on my last shopping trip. With Thanksgiving coming, I will be posting a few different cranberry recipes in the coming weeks as well. This is a meal that my entire family enjoys and a meal I’ve made often for company and so far it has always gotten rave reviews. Enjoy!

CRANBERRY CHICKEN

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
6 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, pounded (I thaw 12 frozen boneless, skinless chicken tenderloins and don’t pound them. I get them at Price Rite by the bag, for those who live near a Price Rite.)
1/4 cup butter or margarine (butter all the way)
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
1 cup water
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
Dash ground nutmeg

cooked rice

Pan of cranberry chicken

DIRECTIONS
In a shallow dish, combine flour, salt and pepper. Dredge chicken. In a skillet melt butter over medium heat. Brown the chicken on both sides. Remove and keep warm. In the same skillet, add cranberries, water, brown sugar and nutmeg. Cook and stir until the cranberries burst (about 5 minutes.)

Return chicken to skillet. Cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until chicken is tender, basting occasionally with the sauce.

Serve over rice. Yield 4-6 servings.

Elizabeth and Cranberry Chicken

Elizabeth was so proud of this dinner. She requested it and she made almost the entire thing herself, with very little help from Daddy!

Fun Friday: Bread and Jam

11 Oct
"Mom, you *have* to share these recipes on your blog!"

“Mom, you *have* to share these recipes on your blog!”

As a reporter and writer, I have a wacky work schedule, I’ll be the first to admit it.

Flexible, but wacky.

It’s different every single day, night and weekend, and I’m often working when a lot of people are off, but at the same time I also have a lot of flexibility to plan around the needs of my family, and that allows me to keep my focus of “family first” a top priority.

This week, after what seemed to be a crazier block of work days and nights than usual, I finally had a day off. I had a whole Wednesday day and night, where I didn’t have to work at all. I had nothing to cover, nothing to type for the newspaper, no place to be while my children were at school. Although my afternoon and evening would be busy bringing the kids to their Wednesday activities, my day was free.

Wide open.

You might think to yourself, “Oh…shopping, lunch, manis and pedis!!”  But no, I didn’t go that route. Instead, I decided that I’d use that day to the best of my ability, to cook ahead as much as I could, in order to be better prepared for the coming days when things were back to normal.

I’m so glad I did.

Focus, focus, focus! Once I got on a roll, I got a lot done!

Focus, focus, focus! Once I got on a roll, I got a lot done!

I got so much accomplished.

In one day, I cooked two banana breads, three batches of strawberry jam, 16 crustless baby quiches, six peanut butter and Nutella sandwiches to freeze ahead for lunches, and a dinner for that evening that was NOT cooked in the crock pot, of Shepherd’s Pie, which I made into seven individual pie tins just for the fun of it.

I rocked it.

I ate one of the sandwiches before it went into the freezer, but it’s okay. I earned it.

When my kids were eating their breakfast the next morning, enjoying their jam, Elizabeth said to me, “Mom you definitely have to share this recipe on your blog, it’s so good!”

And so I will share it with you today.

I can’t lie though: A big part of the secret to my success on Wednesday involved the crock pot…again!

Just when my kids thought I couldn't cook another new thing in the crock pot, I pull out the triple crock, and go to town!

Just when my kids thought I couldn’t cook another new thing in the crock pot, I pull out the triple crock, and go to town!

However, I used something different: our triple crock pot that we normally use for big gatherings–holidays, birthday parties, and big events like that. An anniversary gift from my mother-in-law years back, I never thought to use it “just” to cook in.

I don’t think I even realized that you could cook in it, since we’d always used it as a warmer to keep the food we’d pre-cooked for the parties, warm.

When a friend passed along two recipes to me, one for banana bread in the crock pot and one for strawberry jam in the crock pot, I decided to give it a try, and do it all at once in the triple crock. This would allow me to use my oven and stove top for other things at the same time so that I could get more than one thing going at a time.

I must say, I loved that option! I also have to say my house smelled AMAZING the entire day. I was hungry all day long!!

The recipes were both super-easy and super-fast to prep. My triple crock has two small wells on the sides and a larger well in the middle. For that reason, I opted to make two smaller breads using the sides and do the strawberries in the middle. I could’ve gone either way I suppose. I could also, in the future, make a double batch of breads: one larger one in the middle and two small ones on the sides.

Lots of options.

Using my crock pot freed up my oven and stove so I could cook a non-crock pot meal for dinner that night!

Using my crock pot freed up my oven and stove so I could cook a non-crock pot meal for dinner that night! Individual shepherd’s pies were fun to eat!

And, now that my bread and jam in the crock pot experiment was successful, I know that I could do this as an after school snack in the future, baking all day long while I’m gone, making the house smell warm and welcoming when we return.

The link to the bread recipe is here, from the Crockpot Ladies.com.

The link to the jam recipe is here, from The Lady Wolf.com.

I encourage you to try them both and see what you think!

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Mongolian Beef (Take Two)

2 Oct
This was so good, I almost forgot to take a picture of it!

This was so good, I almost forgot to take a picture of it!

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

As you probably know by now, I’ve been making crock pot meals approximately four times a week, as a means of getting us through this fall sports schedule (which ends at the end of October for us).

So far, it’s been working out well, allowing me to “cook” meals that are ready when we get home from whatever we’re at, arriving home in time for dinner even though no one was here to cook dinner. I’m lucky, in that I am usually home from work at lunch time most days, so I set my dinner up at that time and let it go when I go back to work. Depending on when we need to eat, I put it in anywhere between 10 am and noon.

A week or two back, however, we had a crock pot debacle. As I was making the Who Needs a Cape Mongolian Beef, one we were really looking forward to, I licked the spatula before throwing it into the sink (AFTER I’d used it) and realized the Hoison sauce I’d bought was VERY VERY spicy. I was nervous for the outcome. I even watered down the sauce during the cooking time.

I kept my fingers crossed that it’d work out for the best, but it didn’t. It was so spicy. No one really liked it.

I wrote “BLECH” on my recipe sheet and prepared to throw it in recycling.

I was so disappointed. We’d really been looking forward to this one.

However, when I shared the news with my friend Gina, she asked what kind of Hoison sauce I used. When I told her, she looked it up and found that it contained red hot chili peppers.

Just like the band from the 90’s.

Red

Hot

Chili

Peppers

Yikes.

We’re not spicy food lovers here, most of us.

I decided to try the recipe again, because both Gina and another friend of mine, Amy, had both tried it and proclaimed it to be as amazing as we’d thought it would be; a top favorite on their lists of meals.

I went to the store, I turned all the Hoison sauce bottles around so that I could see the ingredients. I found one with chili peppers. That one was definitely out. I found another that said “slightly spicy.” Forget it.

I finally chose one that seemed safe and decided that this week we’d give it another try.

This Monday night, we did.

SUCCESS!!!!

It was sooooooo good. Totally delicious.

And, there was a little bit left, just enough for my lunch on Tuesday, and guess what??

It was even better the second day! The flavor was bursting! I thoroughly enjoyed my lunch.

We served our beef with our usual Chinese Fried Rice, but I also added a batch of quinoa as one of our side dish offerings. Personally, I love mixing the quinoa with the rice, and that’s what I did with the Mongolian Beef. It was fabulous.

So the lesson learned is two-fold: 1) check the ingredient labels when buying a new sauce, and 2) don’t give up!

I’m so glad we tried the Who Needs A Cape Mongolian Beef again, it’s most definitely a keeper!!

I’ve linked to the recipe twice in this post, and I’m putting her recipe below as well. I hope you’ll give it a try, and remember, if you don’t like spicy, CHECK YOUR LABELS!

WHO NEEDS A CAPE
MONGOLIAN BEEF

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. stew meat
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion, thickly sliced
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh minced ginger
  • 1/2 cup hoisin sauce

Instructions

  1. Freezer directions- dump all ingredients into a labeled freezer bag, seal, mix up, freeze flat. It’s as easy as that!
  2. When you’re ready to cook- take the bag out of the freezer the night before and let it defrost in the fridge. The next morning dump the bag into the crockpot and cook on low for 6-8 hours. If you’re going to be longer just add a bit more water so it doesn’t dry out. Serve with fresh slice green onions and rice. Yum!

Fun Friday: Our new after school snack obsession: Flatbread Pizzas

27 Sep
My impulse purchase earlier this week has led to some fun after school snacks this week!

My impulse purchase earlier this week has led to some fun after school snacks this week!

It all started earlier this week when I went grocery shopping on an empty stomach.

That’s the worst.

In this case though, it benefited us in that it led to the greatest after school snack experimentation!

While I was at Aldi’s, I found flatbread in their “Fit and Active” line of healthier foods. I was intrigued. One was “original” and one was multigrain and contained flaxseed. Both were reasonably priced and I was pretty hungry so even plain flatbread sounded delicious.

Well, as I walked through the store, I saw some good-looking plum tomatoes and I put them into my carriage also. Seeing them, alongside my flatbread, reminded me of an old Pampered Chef pizza recipe we used to make that had ricotta cheese mixed with Parmesan cheese, topped with sliced plum tomatoes and mozzarella cheese.

I decided that with my new flatbread and tomatoes, along with the nonfat ricotta and mozzarella cheeses I had at home, I would make a variation of that for my lunch. And I did. I cut up two plum tomatoes, spread a little tomato sauce on my flatbread, and layered on my toppings. About 10 minutes under the broiler on low, and I had my lunch.

This was my lunch that day, and the leftovers were just as good!

This was my lunch that day, and the leftovers were just as good!

When the girls arrived home later on, they asked me what was mysteriously wrapped up in foil in the fridge. When I showed them my leftovers, they wanted a flatbread pizza for their after school snack. So I sliced up some more tomatoes, some olives and used the rest of my sauce and mozzarella cheese to make one for them.  The entire snack took less than 15 minutes to prep and broil and even less than that to eat.

They loved it!

The following day, my wheels were turning. I remembered a dessert pizza that I had at a restaurant a while back and I decided to make a dessert pizza for the kids based on another recipe I’d seen floating around Facebook lately.

With Elizabeth helping me, I took a flatbread,we  spread some peanut butter on it, layered sliced green apples on top of that, and drizzled caramel over them. A sprinkle of cinnamon-sugar over the whole thing, and under the broiler it went.

Our first dessert pizza of the week.

Our first dessert pizza of the week.

DELICIOUS.

Our creative juices were flowing. The next day I made them a peanut butter and Nutella pizza with sliced bananas on top.

As they were eating that one, they came up with the next one: S’Mores flatbread pizzas: Nutella and marshmallows. When I told my friend Gina, she suggested crushing up graham crackers and sprinkling them on the top. What a great idea! For dinner that night, her family was having chicken and broccoli flatbread pizzas.

I was adding that one to my list.

Elizabeth has already requested flatbread pizzas to be added to our lunchbox rotations. As quick as they are to make, I could easily make them up ahead of time and send them in for lunch. Obviously the dessert pizzas would not be our lunchbox pizzas, but they do have their place!

I’m excited for this newest snack option. It gives us some fun and some variety in our choices, and that’s always a good thing! I encourage you to see how many different variations you could come up with!

Another keeper!

Another keeper!

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