Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Italian Chicken

I'm making this for dinner tonight, so I'll post a picture later. I like to call this "comfort food".

1/2 - 3/4 cube melted butter
1 pkg Italian Salad Dressing (This is the dry mix that comes in a box of 4 or so)
3-4 chicken breasts
1 can Cream of Chicken soup
1 pkg. Cream Cheese

Melt butter and stir in Italian salad dressing. Put in crock pot with chicken. Cook in a crock pot on low for 4-6 hours. 1/2 hour before serving, pull chicken out and shred it with 2 forks. Put back in crock pot and add soup and cream cheese (be sure it is softened). Simmer until ready to serve. Serve over hot noodles or rice.


This may not sound very appetizing, but it is my favorite dish. Since I was a little girl, I would ask for this every birthday dinner. My husband likes it as well, and my four year old son requests this every night for dinner.

1-1 1/2 lbs. round steak
1 Tbsp salad oil
1 envelope brown gravy mix
2 cups water
1 Tbsp instant minced onion
2 Tbsp white vinegar
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Noodles - Hot and buttered (I usually use the curly noodles)

I usually try to find a thin cut round steak. Just makes a little more tender. Any will work though. Slice the round steak thinly. Brown the meat in a large skillet in salad oil. Once browned, remove and set aside. Mix the brown gravy mix with 2 cups cool water. I usually add about 1 Tbsp cornstarch to thicken. Bring to boil, stirring constantly. Stir in remaining ingredients except noodles. Return the meat to the mixture, cover and simmer for 2 to 3 hours. Serve over hot buttered noodles.

*I sometimes double the sauce...just depends on how much sauce you like on your food.

Quick N Easy Veggies

I am not a veggie person, never have been. So, I don't cook them. It's actually kind of intimidating to thing about cooking veggies because I don't' really know where to begin. A few years ago I discovered these and LOVE THEM!!! They are quick, easy, inexpensive, and healthy. I buy them at Wal-mart for about $1 per bag, and there is a whole variety that you can find. I especially like the broccoli because it is easy to steam in the bag. They all just go in the microwave, they steam right in the bag, then you open and serve. Just thought I'd share.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Pasta Carbonara

I made this for Book club and it was really good! I wasn't too sure about pasta without red sauce but it was really good! Also I would try pancetta over the bacon. It's really salty and yummy!

1 pound dry pasta
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 ounces pancetta or slab bacon, cubed or sliced into small strips
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 large eggs
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
Freshly ground black pepper
1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Prepare the sauce while the pasta is cooking to ensure that the pasta will be hot and ready when the sauce is finished; it is very important that the pasta is hot when adding the egg mixture, so that the heat of the pasta cooks the raw eggs in the sauce.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender yet firm (as they say in Italian "al dente.") Drain the pasta well, reserving 1/2 cup of the starchy cooking water to use in the sauce if you wish.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a deep skillet over medium flame. Add the pancetta and saute for about 3 minutes, until the bacon is crisp and the fat is rendered. Toss the garlic into the fat and saute for less than 1 minute to soften.
Add the hot, drained pasta to the pan and toss for 2 minutes to coat the strands in the bacon fat. Beat the eggs and Parmesan together in a mixing bowl, stirring well to prevent lumps. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the egg/cheese mixture into the pasta, whisking quickly until the eggs thicken, but do not scramble (this is done off the heat to ensure this does not happen.) Thin out the sauce with a bit of the reserved pasta water, until it reaches desired consistency. Season the carbonara with several turns of freshly ground black pepper and taste for salt. Mound the pasta carbonara into warm serving bowls and garnish with chopped parsley. Pass more cheese around the table.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Bacon-Potato Soup

6 cups potatoes, peeled and diced
5 cups water
2 cups chopped onions (or minced onions)
4 chicken bouillon cubes
6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk
2 cups grated cheddar cheese

Combine potatoes, water, onions, and bouillon cubes in greased 5 to 7-quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on low heat 6-8 hours or until potatoes are tender. Stir in crumbled bacon, milk, and grated cheese. Cover and cook an additional 20 minutes or until cheese is melted. Makes 10-12 servings

Serve with hot biscuits and garnish soup with fresh chopped parsley.

VARIATION: Add 1/2 cup diced celery and 1/2 cup chopped carrots with potatoes at the beginning of cook time.

I made this on the stove instead of in a crock pot.  I added some flour to make the soup a bit thicker.  You may have to do this with the crock pot also, I'm not sure.

Chicken Pot Pie

1 pkg. (10–oz.) frozen peas and carrots
1/3 c. butter
1/3 c. flour
1/3 c. chopped onion
½ t. salt
¼ t. pepper
1 ¾ c. chicken broth
2/3 c. milk
3 c. cooked chicken, shredded

Rinse frozen veggies under running cold water to separate; drain and set aside. Sauté onions in butter in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat until tender. Whisk in flour, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is bubbly. Stir in broth and milk. Heat to boiling, over medium heat, stirring often, and let boil and stir for one minute. Remove from heat and stir in chicken and vegetables. Let cool. Enough for 1 pie, or 6-7 mini pies.

Pastry (Enough for 2 large pies, or 8-9 mini pies)

4 c. flour
1 ¾ c. shortening
2 T. sugar
2 t. salt
½ c. cold water
1 egg
1 T. vinegar

Preheat oven to 425°. Blend flour, shortening, sugar, and salt with a pastry blender until crumbly. In a separate bowl, beat the water, egg, and vinegar with a fork. Pour liquid mixture slowly into the flour mixture while blending with a fork. Be sure to use flour when rolling out the dough. Line your pie plate with pastry then fill with chicken filling. Top the pie with pastry and flute edges. Make slits in top crust and wrap edges of pie with foil. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown. (Remove foil 10 minutes before done.) Let stand a few minutes before serving.

Recipe from Shanna Stakkeland

These pot pies are so good with the pastry crust recipe listed above and they also freeze really well (wrap whole or individual pies in saran wrap and then place in freezer bag). However, because making the pastry is pretty time-consuming, I usually use a shortcut (an idea I got from Sunset magazine). Instead of making the pastry, I buy the canned refrigerated biscuits (the large or grand ones). Then after I fill each pie tin with the chicken mixture, I place one or two biscuits on top and it's done. Then I cover the entire pie with foil and bake it at 425 for 30-40 minutes, usually removing the foil for the last few minutes. It's a good time saver. Here's a picture of a mini pie.

Baked Spaghetti

Baked Spaghetti

2 C canned diced tomatoes

2 C tomato sauce

1 C water

1/2 C diced onion

1/2 C diced green bell pepper

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1/4 C chopped fresh parsley leaves

1 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning

1 1/2 tsp House seasoning (1 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, 1/4 tsp garlic powder)

1 1/2 tsp seasoning salt

1 1/2 tsp sugar

2 small bay leaves

1 1/2 lbs. ground beef

8 oz uncooked angel hair pasta

1 cup grated cheddar

1 cup grated monterey jack

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a stock pot, combine the tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, onion, peppers, garlic, parsley, seasoning mixtures, sugar, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil over high heat, and then reduce the heat and let simmer, covered, for 1 hour. Crumble the ground beed in a large skillet. Cook over medium-high heat until fully cooked. Drain fat and add the beef to the stockpot. Simmer for 20 more minutes. Cook the pasta according to the package directions, drain. Cover the bottom of a 9x13 pan with sauce. Add a layer of pasta and then a little less than 1/2 of each cheese; repeat the layers, ending with the sauce. Bake in a the oven for 30 minutes. Top the casserole with the remaining cheese, return it to the oven and continue to cook until the cheese is melted and bubbly, about 4 more minutes.

This recipe is from Paula Deen on the Food Network. When I make this I totally throw in whatever vegetables I have into the sauce when I simmer it - broccoli, carrots, etc. After it has simmered for an hour and before you add the cooked beef I put the sauce in my food processor (or you can use a blender) and puree it so it makes this very smooth, tasty, and healthy spaghetti sauce. My kids have no idea the amount of vegetables they are eating. I also add more cheese than the recipe calls for since more cheese is always a good idea.