Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Basic Brownies

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease an 8 inch square pan.  In a large saucepan melt butter then remove from heat.  Stir in sugar, eggs and vanilla.  Stir in cocoa, flour, salt and baking powder.  Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes.  Do not over bake. 

Sunday, January 27, 2013


  • 1/2 of a (1-pound) package lasagna, uncooked
  • 1 lb bulk Italian sausage
  • 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (28 oz) can tomatoes, cut up (undrained)
  • 2 (6 oz) cans tomato paste
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp basil leaves
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seed
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 (15 oz) container ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 tbsp parsley flakes
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup sliced pitted ripe olives
  • 4 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Fill a baking pan with hot water and place the uncooked noodles into the water. Set aside. Make sure the noodles are separated.
  2. In large skillet, combine Italian sausage, ground beef, onion, and garlic. Cook until meat is no longer pink and onion is tender; drain. Stir in next 7 ingredients. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer 20 minutes.
  3. In medium bowl, blend ricotta, egg, parsley, and salt. Spoon 1 1/2 cups of meat sauce into 13 x 9 inch baking dish. Layer one-third each lasagna, remaining meat sauce, ricotta mixture, olives, mozzarella cheese, and Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers. Cover. Bake in 375 degree F oven for 25 minutes. Uncover, bake until hot, about 20 minutes longer. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting. 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Buttercream Frosting

This might be the best frosting I've ever tasted.  I made it to frost these cookies  and we couldn't stop eating them. 
  • 1 1/2 cups butter, at room temperature (3 sticks)
  • 4 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 Tbsp heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (use clear if desired)
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, using the paddle or whisk attachment whip butter on medium high speed (if using whisk attachment whip on high speed) until nearly white and very fluffy, about 7 - 8 minutes, frequently scrapping down the sides of the bowl. Add in powdered sugar, heavy cream and vanilla extract and mix on low speed until blended, then increase speed to medium and beat until very light and fluffy, about 5 - 6 minutes, frequently scraping down the sides of the bowl.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Lemon Crinkle Cookies

½ cups butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 egg
lemon zest of large lemon
lemon juice of large lemon
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.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes

1 pound ground beef
1 softball-sized onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons steak sauce, such as A-1
1 cup beef stock
salt and ground black pepper
4 dinner rolls
Swiss or provolone cheese, sliced

In large skillet over medium-high heat, brown the ground beef with the onion and green pepper and cook until the vegetables start to get tender.  Drain.  Stir in the steak sauce and beef stock; bring up to a bubble and cook about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve on dinner rolls with cheese.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Poppy Seed/Ritz Cracker Chicken

1 rotisserie chicken, cubed
1/2 cup sour cream
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
2 cups crushed Ritz crackers (about 1 1/2 rolls of crackers)
1/2 cup melted butter
1 T poppy seeds
1 tsp Worchestire sauce
1 tsp celery salt
1 tsp minced garlic
1 T lemon juice
1/4 tsp pepper

Place cubed chicken in a 9X13 casserole dish. Stir together the condensed soup and sour cream. If you wish to add the additional flavorings stir in the Worcestershire, celery salt, garlic, lemon juice, and pepper to the soup and sour cream mixture. Pour over the chicken.

In a separate bowl, stir together the crushed crackers, poppy seeds and melted butter. Sprinkle over the chicken and sauce. Bake for 30 minutes in a 350 degree preheated oven, until the top of the casserole is browned and the sauce is bubbly.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Crock Pot Bourbon Street Chicken

2 pounds boneless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
1-2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/4 tsp ginger
3/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup apple juice
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup water
2 tbsp ketchup
1 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tbsp cornstarch, if thicker sauce is desired

Put all ingredients into the crock pot and cook until chicken is done.  Serve over rice.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Macaroni and Cheese

16 oz macaroni pasta (any shape shape you like)
1/2 C butter
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 C flour
3 1/2 C milk, warmed
1/4 C white wine (or sub w/chicken broth)
1/2 lb Velveeta cheese, cubed
1/2 lb cheddar, cubed
1/2 C panko bread crumbs
1 T parsley
2 T butter, melted

Heat 350' oven. Grease 9x13 glass dish (8x8 or round casserole, if making half the recipe).
Cook pasta for about 2-3 minutes less than called for, drain, set aside.

In a saucepan, melt 1/2 C butter, salt pepper, once melted add flour, stir until smooth. Let cook for 1 minute. Add milk, wine, bring to a boil, whisking. Add cheeses and stir until melted. Pour over cooked pasta and add to greased dish. Combine the panko, parsley and melted butter in a small bowl. Sprinkle macaroni with panko topping, bake uncovered 30 minutes.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Chicken Gyros

For the chicken:
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon minced garlic
juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
salt and pepper
2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Whisk together the above ingredients before adding the chicken and marinate for 6-24 hours.  Grill chicken (or bake) and cut into strips.

For the gyros:
pita bread
grilled Greek chicken (from above)
feta, crumbled
fresh tomatoes, seeded and diced
cucumber, diced
red onion, sliced thinly

To assemble:
Warm a piece of pita bread and top with all the goodness above.


Friday, January 18, 2013

Filet Mignon

We made this filet mignon and Patrick swears this is how we'll cook steaks from here on out.  It's pan seared, baked and fantastic.

  • filet mignon
  • kosher salt, 4 teaspoons
  • freshly cracked pepper, 4 teaspoons
  • butter, 1 stick
  • olive oil, 1 tablespoon
  • garlic, 2 cloves, chopped
  • parsley, 1 tablespoon, chopped
  • thyme - 1 tablespoon, chopped
  • lemon zest, 1 teaspoon


Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Take 1/2 stick of butter, softened, and mix well with the peeled, chopped garlic, the chopped herbs, and the lemon zest.  Form into a log and refrigerate.  Generously season the filet's with salt and pepper, approximately 1 teaspoon of seasoning per side. Heat the remainder of the butter (1/2 stick) and the olive oil in a cast iron skillet to a screaming hot temperature.     Sear the filets in a screaming hot pan for about 2-3 minutes per side, or until a nice brown crust has formed. While the steak is searing, continue to spoon the residual butter in the pan on top of the meat while it's cooking.  Once both sides are seared, place in the center of the oven for about 6-8 minutes, depending upon how thick your steak is.  In the last minute of cooking, take the log of compound butter and slice a nice thick piece to place on top. Your steak will be ready when it is approximately 135 degrees in the center, or when you push lightly on the top center of the steak and it gently and slowly bounces back.

Note:  We didn't make the garlic/herb butter.  We seared our steaks and continually coated them in butter but decided to top ours with fresh blue cheese instead.  It was equally as delicious.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Crock Pot Refried Beans

Oh holy deliciousness.  This was my second attempt at making homemade refried beans and this recipe, my friends, is a winner.  The first recipe I tried was good, but these...I have no words. 

1 onion, peeled and halved
3 cups dry pinto beans, rinsed
1 - 2 fresh jalapeno peppers, sliced lengthwise and seeded
2 tablespoons minced garlic
3 teaspoons salt
1 3/4 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin 
5 cups water
4 cups chicken broth

-Place the onion, rinsed beans, jalapeno, garlic, salt, pepper, and cumin into a slow cooker.
-Pour in the water and chicken broth and stir to combine. Cook on high for 8 hours, adding more water as needed. Note: if more than 1 cup of water has evaporated during cooking, then the temperature is too high.
-Once the beans have cooked, strain them, and reserve the liquid, throwing out the onion chunks and the remains of the jalapenos, unless you want to mash them up with the beans. Mash the beans with a hand mixer or potato masher, adding the reserved liquid as needed to attain desired consistency.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


This recipe is for a knock-off version of Chili's salsa.  It's similar and super easy to make.

2 cans (14.5 oz each) diced tomatoes
jalapenos, to taste
1 yellow onion, quartered
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons lime juice
cilantro, to taste

Place all of the ingredients together into a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Serve with tortilla chips.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Million Dollar Spaghetti

I can't decide what I think about this recipe, but I do know that I wouldn't call it "Million Dollar" anything.  I didn't salt and pepper the noodles but wish I would have because without doing so it's quite bland.  I don't know, maybe some green bell peppers and mushrooms with the ground beef would be good.  If you try it let me know how you like it and if you did anything to enhance the recipe. 
1 lb ground beef
2 jars spaghetti sauce
4 oz of cream cheese
1/4 cup of sour cream
8 oz of cottage cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
12 oz spaghetti noodles
sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Boil your noodles and cook the ground beef.  Drain the fat from the meat and add the jars of spaghetti sauce.  In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the cream cheese, sour cream, cottage cheese and Parmesan cheese until well combined. 

In a 9x13 baking dish layer half of your noodles, sprinkle with salt and pepper, then spread the cream cheese mixture over them.  Add the remaining noodles, sprinkle with more salt and pepper, and top with the spaghetti sauce.  Bake for 30 minutes before covering the spaghetti with cheddar cheese.  Bake for an additional 15 minutes until the cheese is melted.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Spinach Artichoke Pasta

1 12-oz box pasta
1 tsp butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 8 oz package reduced fat cream cheese
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 14 oz can artichoke hearts (packed in water), drained and chopped
10 oz chopped, frozen spinach, thawed, with as much excess water squeezed out as possible
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
additional Parmesan for serving

Cook pasta according to package directions. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and add garlic. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add cream cheese and stir until melted. Slowly stir in milk, then add sour cream, lemon juice, salt and red pepper flakes. Stir in artichoke hearts, spinach, and parmesan cheese. Drain pasta and add to artichoke mix. Toss and season to taste with salt and additional lemon juice as needed. Serve with additional shredded Parmesan.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Southwestern Chopped Chicken Salad

I could make this salad once a week and Patrick would never get tired of it.  Too bad I've only made it once.  I won't lie, the chopping was a bit excessive so I boycotted the recipe until I get my mini-chopper out of storage.  They don't sell black beans here so I just substitute red kidney beans any time a recipe calls for them and they work fine.  Also, if you don't feel like making the dressing then don't.  It was alright but I'd probably just toss the salad in regular ranch.

2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken taco meat
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 can sweet yellow corn (or 1 cup frozen corn, thawed)
2 roma tomatoes, diced
4 green onions, sliced
1 head ice berg lettuce, washed and chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
2 ripe avocados, diced
1 cup crushed tortilla chips

1/2 cup mayonnaise
2/3 cup Greek yogurt
1 tbsp ranch seasoning
1 tbsp taco seasoning


In a large bowl, combine all salad ingredients together, excluding the tortilla chips.  

In a small bowl stir all dressing ingredients together.  Pour dressing over salad, starting with about half of the dressing.   Toss to combine, then gradually add more dressing until it is dressed to your liking.  Top with tortilla chips.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

I didn't measure any ingredients on this one; I just sort of threw it all together and it worked but I'll give my best guess at amounts when I can.


1 lb. ground chicken
soy sauce, enough to coat the chicken and make sauce
honey, a nice long squirt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger (in a jar)
1/4 teaspoon crushed or ground red pepper flakes
garlic powder, a nice healthy shake
cheddar cheese, shredded
large lettuce leaves


Cook the ground chicken until no longer pink and drain the fat.  Add the soy sauce, honey, brown sugar, ginger, red pepper flakes and garlic powder and stir together making sure the chicken is evenly coated.  Heat through and add more soy sauce if needed.  Assemble them as seen in the picture below (which is not my picture - I was way too hungry to think about taking a picture) adding cheese (if you want; we wanted) and anything else that tickles your fancy.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Green Bean Casserole

We smuggled in some French's fried onions from our last trip home so that I could make green bean casserole for our Thanksgiving feast and I was quite impressed with myself for thinking ahead like that.  Until we got to Christmas.  It was at this point that I realized I shouldn't have doubled the recipe at Thanksgiving because it wiped us out of our supply of the most critical green bean casserole ingredient.  We were just so excited to have legit green bean casserole that I guess I lost my mind.  Anyway, I found this recipe and Christmas dinner was saved.  I'm sure you're relieved. 

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon white sugar
1/2 of an onion, grated
1 cup sour cream
3 (14 1/2 oz) cans French-style green beans, drained
1 sleeve crushed Ritz crackers
2-3 tablespoons butter, melted


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in flour until smooth, and cook for one minute. Stir in the salt, sugar, onion and sour cream. Add green beans and stir to coat.
3. Transfer the mixture to a 2 1/2 quart casserole dish. In a small bowl, toss together cracker crumbs and the melted butter before sprinkling over the green beans.
4. Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven or until the top is golden and bubbly.  

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Taco Pasta Bake

I'll start with the positive:  This recipe has been pinned over 310,000 times.  That's a lot of pins.  I made it with high expectations and I guess my expectations were off.  If I was making this for a kids dinner then, yes, it would have been a home run.  However, if I was making it because we had friends coming over for dinner then I would have been mortified.  In reality, it's an over-glorified Hamburger Helper - perfect for kids...not so much for adults.

1/2 – 3/4 of a bag of large noodle pasta
approx. 1lb of ground beef
1 pkg/envelope of taco seasoning
1C water
1/2 pkg of cream cheese
1 1/2C shredded cheese

1. Boil pasta until just cooked, drain, run cold water over it
2. Brown ground beef; drain
3. Mix together taco seasoning and 1C of water, pour over cooked beef and let simmer for about 5 minutes until the liquid has reduced
4. Add the 1/2 pkg of cream cheese to the beef mixture, stir until melted and combined, then remove from heat
5. Put pasta in your casserole dish or pot, mix in 1C of the shredded cheese
6. Top pasta and cheese with beef mixture, gently mix until the pasta is coated
7. Top with remaining 1/2C of shredded cheese
8. Bake at 350 uncovered for approx 30 minutes

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Southern Potato Salad

This mustard-based based potato salad was delicious:
  •  3 pounds boiled potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 6 boiled eggs, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 dill pickles, diced
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup yellow mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
Combine all ingredients together and mix until well-combined and creamy. Add more mayonnaise and mustard depending on tastes. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Ruth's Chris Sweet Potato Casserole

For the crust:
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 cup pecans, chopped
1/3 stick butter, melted

For the sweet potato mixture:
3 cups mashed sweet potatoes
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs, well beaten
1 stick of butter (1/2 cup), melted (this amount can be reduced or left out)

Combine brown sugar, flour, nuts and butter in a small mixing bowl. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine the sweet potatoes, salt, vanilla, eggs and butter and mix thoroughly.  Pour into a buttered baking dish and top with the brown sugar topping. Bake for 30 minutes and allow to set for 30 minutes before serving.

Serves 6

Cheesy Enchilada Casserole

The word on the Pinterest street is that this recipe was voted the #1 casserole of the year by Taste of Home.  Who knows if that claim is legit, but I've made several Mexican-type casseroles from Pinterest and this is by far the best one I've tried. 

  • 1 pound lean ground beef 

  • 1 large onion, chopped

  • 2 1/2 cups salsa

  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans or red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat Italian salad dressing

  • 1 envelope taco seasoning

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1 small can of drained corn

  • 3/4 cup sour cream

  • 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro

  • 2 cups shredded Mexican cheese

  • 6 flour or corn tortillas    



    • In a large skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain.
    • Stir in the salsa, beans, corn, dressing, sour cream, taco seasoning, cumin and cilantro.
    • Spoon a generous layer of meat mixture on bottom of 2 quart baking dish then sprinkle with grated cheese.
    • Place flour or corn tortillas on top of meat mixture. Layer with the meat mixture and cheese. Repeat as many layers as you like.
    • The last and final layer should be a healthy dose of grated cheese.
    • Cover with foil that has been sprayed with Pam or other cooking spray and bake at 400° for 25 minutes, or until hot & bubbly.
    •  Let stand for 5 minutes before topping with lettuce, tomato and cilantro. 
    •  Yield: 8 servings.  

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Beefed-Up Eggplant

3 large eggplants
1 lb ground beef
2 medium onions, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 small tomatoes, diced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste
Kalamata olives, halved
artichoke hearts, quartered
1-2 cups dry breadcrumbs            
1½ cups crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese, divided

  1. Remove the ends of two eggplants and slice in half lengthwise. Carefully scoop out the centers of the eggplants, leaving a half-inch shell so they resemble canoes. Cut the center portion into small pieces, and set aside.
  2. Cut the skin off of the third eggplant and discard.  Dice the remaining portion of eggplant and join with the rest.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  4. In a large skillet brown the ground beef over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic, and sauté for a few minutes, until tender.  Drain the grease before adding the eggplant pieces.  Cook until soft, about 5 minutes, adding water as needed to moisten the eggplant. Then, stir in the tomato, green pepper, and parsley. Simmer for about 10 minutes.
  5. Remove from the heat, and transfer to a large bowl. Stir in the olives, artichoke hearts, breadcrumbs and one cup of the feta until evenly blended. Divide the mixture evenly between the four eggplant shells. Sprinkle the remaining feta over the top of each stuffed eggplant. Place the eggplant halves on a baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven, until the tops are browned and the cheese is melted. 

Before baking...

After baking...

And if you don't want to stuff the shells, just
throw the mixture into a baking dish.