Monday, December 3, 2012

Spinach Artichoke Alfredo Lasagna

My brother recently came home from college ranting about a creamy spinach lasagna he had, and I did my usual thing trying to figure out what would have gone into it.  Yesterday I was scrolling through a blog and noticed a spinach artichoke lasagna that used a marinara sauce.  The light went off in my head and I couldn't help but make a creamy spinach artichoke lasagna.  I hope you enjoy it!

Spinach Artichoke Alfredo Lasagna

15 oz ricotta cheese
2 eggs
1/2 Tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1 lb frozen chopped spinach
1 12 oz jar artichoke hearts
No boil lasagna noodles
Your favorite alfredo sauce
Shredded mozzarella

Thaw, drain and squeeze the spinach. Drain and roughly chop the artichoke hearts.  Preheat oven to 375F  Combine ricotta, eggs, garlic, salt, pepper and 1 cup mozzarella in a large bowl, mixing well.  Stir in the spinach and artichoke hearts.  Line the bottom of a 9x13 casserole dish with a thin layer of alfredo sauce, followed by a layer of lasagna noodles.  Spread a layer of the spinach mixture over the noodles.  Repeat the previous three layers followed by more sauce, noodles then sauce.  Sprinkle as much shredded mozzarella as you desire over the top.  Cover with foil, keeping foil from touching the mozzarella, and bake at 375F for 1 hour, then uncover and bake another 15 min.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Quick and Easy Personal Pizzas

I got this idea from one of my brothers who made a cold veggie pizza this way, and decided to mix it up a bit.  If you have picky eaters who all like different toppings on their pizza, this is a great way to make pizzas for everyone to love.

Personal Pizzas

Store bought crescent roll dough (one tube makes 2 pizzas)
Your choice of sauces and toppings

Pre-heat oven to temperature listed on dough's packaging.  Unroll dough and separate into sections along the perforation down the center.  Press the remainder of the seals together*.  place flat on cookie sheet and bake until they are lightly golden brown.  Remove from oven and spread sauces and toppings as desired.  For hot pizzas place back into oven until toppings are hot and cheese (if used) is melted.  The options I have enjoyed so far are listed below.  Feel free to use your favorite sauces and toppings.

*If you want to make these into appetizers separate at all perforations for triangular mini pizzas.

Buffalo Chicken

Cream cheese with chives
Hot sauce

4 microwave chicken nuggets (per pizza)
Hot sauce**

Combine 2 parts cream cheese with 1 part hot sauce and spread on cooked crust.  Microwave nuggets according to package directions and cut each into 6-8 pieces.  Dredge nugget pieces through hot sauce and place on pizza.  Cut broccoli into small pieces and place on pizza.  Cover with desired amount of Mozzarella.  Bake until cheese is melted.

**If you want the buffalo flavor without so much kick you can omit the hot sauce on the nuggets.

Alfredo Chicken with Broccoli

Your favorite alfredo sauce

4 microwave chicken nuggets (per pizza)
Crushed red pepper flakes

Spread alfredo sauce on cooked crust.  Microwave nuggets according to directions and cut into 6-8 pieces each.  Place on pizza.  Cut broccoli into small pieces and place on pizza.  Sprinkle pepper flakes lightly on pizza and top with desired amount of mozzarella.  Bake until cheese is melted.

Cold Veggie

Garden vegetable cream cheese

Any vegetable you desire

When the crust had finished baking put it aside to cool.  Cut the vegetables into small pieces.  Once the crust is cooled spread the cream cheese and top with the vegetables.

***I would suggest cherry tomatoes halved or quartered.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Green Bean Pasta Casserole

I love green bean casserole!  I love pasta!  Why not combine them?  So I did, and it turned out scrumptious.  I hope you enjoy this too!

Green Bean Pasta Casserole

1 lb pasta of choice (I used cavatelli)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can milk or water
2 cans green beans
French's fried onions

Cook the pasta al dente and drain.  Preheat oven to 350F.  Combine soup and water or milk, then add green beans.  Add the pasta to the soup mixture and stir in 2/3 cup fried onions.  Pour into a casserole dish and cover with fried onions.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until onions are browned.  Let sit for 1 minute before serving.  Enjoy!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Taco Casserole

I wasn't sure what to make for dinner tonight, all I knew was I wanted to use taco meat and I didn't want run of the mill tacos.  Looking around what I had I gathered a bunch of things and made this delectable taco casserole.  You can also use this concept to make a delicious dip*.

Taco Casserole

1 lb ground beef
1 packet taco seasoning
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 package hard taco shells
Cream cheese with chives
3 cups shredded cheese of choice (I used a Mexican Blend)

Cook the ground beef over medium high heat.  When it is fully cooked reduce heat to medium and add onion and garlic, cook until they start to become translucent.  Add the taco seasoning, mix well and remove from heat.

Preheat oven to 350F. Cover the bottom of a pie pan, you can use a casserole dish if you prefer, with a thin layer of salsa.  Crush 1/3 of the taco shells and spread over the salsa.  Spread a layer of the cream cheese over the taco shells, followed by half the meat mixture.  Atop the meat spread 1 cup of cheese then repeat the layers again: salsa, crushed taco shell, cream cheese, meat mixture, cheese.  Atop the cheese spread another layer of salsa then cream cheese and crumble the rest of the taco shells over it.  Cover the top with the last cup of cheese and bake for 15 minutes, or until the cheese is fully melted.  Enjoy!

*If you want to make a 4 layer dip to serve with chips just layer the cream cheese, salsa, meat and cheese and bake.

**You can also add anything else that you would like with tex-mex food, like jalapenos, black olives, artichoke hearts, sour cream, refried beans and/or guacamole for added layers.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Ranch Cheddar Pasta

I was looking through my refrigerator and pantry wondering what to make for dinner and seeing what I had on hand when I decided to try this.  I didn't have a recipe to work from, just a concept that I hoped would work well, and it did.

Ranch Cheddar Pasta

1/2 lb pasta of your choice
2 Tbsp butter
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup ranch dressing
3/4 cup shredded cheddar
2 tsp ground black pepper

Cook pasta according to instructions on package.  In a medium sauce pan melt the butter.  Add the garlic and saute until translucent, then add the ranch dressing.  Bring the ranch to a boil then add the cheese, stirring constantly until melted.  Add the pepper and stir well.  Pour over the pasta, stirring to mix well.  Enjoy!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Spinach Artichoke Dip

This dip goes great with chips of any kind.  Quick and easy to make, you're sure to enjoy it.

Spinach Artichoke Dip

1 can cream of mushroom soup
1-2 cups frozen chopped spinach
4 oz artichoke hearts, finely chopped
1/2 lb cheddar cheese, shredded

Heat soup in small sauce pan.  Add spinach and artichoke and continue cooking until warmed through.  Add cheese and cook, stirring constantly, until cheese is fully melted.  Serve hot.

Pulled Pork

A delicious crockpot recipe for pulled pork.  You can use it for sandwiches, in calzones, or as an entree by itself.  A few simple ingredients and 8 hours and you have delicious pulled pork.  I served mine on Ciabatta rolls with this Garlic Aioli.

Pulled Pork

1 3lb pork roast
12 oz root beer
Your favorite barbecue sauce

Put the pork in the crockpot and pour root beer over the top.  Cook on low for 7 hours.  Drain out the rootbeer, add barbecue sauce and stir, the pork should literally be falling apart.  Cook on low for another hour and your pork is finished.  Enjoy!

Garlic Aioli

Simple and easy to make this garlic aioli is delicious.  It goes great on sandwiches or as a dip for chips, fries or onion rings.  I'm sure you can find plenty of other uses for it as well.

Garlic Aioli

3/4 cup mayonnaise
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients and mix well.  Refrigerate for at least half an hour for flavors to combine.  Enjoy!

*I prefer to cut the lemon juice in half.

*I recently used this in place of regular mayonnaise in a pasta salad and the result was deliciousness! People couldn't get enough.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Fried Chicken Wontons

You can always make soup with these wontons, or do as I did and make some delicious appetizers by frying them up.  These are great served with sweet & sour sauce and soy sauce for dipping.

Fried Chicken Wontons

1 package wonton skins
3/4# ground chicken
1 egg
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 1/2 tsp onion powder
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp soy sauce
Oil to fry in

Mix meat mixture together, place ½ - 1 tsp mix in wonton skin.
To roll

1. Lightly wet 3 corners of wrapper with water
2. Roll first corner under and tuck under meat.
3. Fold side corner toward center.
4. Fold other side corner over.
5. Lightly wet base of folded area.
6. Do a half roll from #2 end.
Put in boiling water for 3-5 minutes. Drain.

Heat oil to 375 F. Fry wontons in oil until golden brown, flipping once. Enjoy!

Should you decide to make soup instead of fried wontons after boiling the wontons make chicken broth. (4 qts. Water and ½ c chicken base) Put wontons in to simmer. Before serving add chopped scallions. Add base as needed to strengthen flavor. You can also add snow peas, pork strips, the meat mixture made into little balls and boiled, baby corn.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

General Tso Chicken

This is a recipe I inherited from my father, and it is the best General Tso Chicken I have ever had.  If you are not a fan of spicy foods you can remove or reduce the amount of hot peppers and/or chili paste you use, I used 5 diced USA Hots in place of chili paste and left out the hot peppers external of the seasoning sauce and will be using less next time so my son can manage to eat it.  As you can see I served mine with rice and miniature egg rolls.

General Tso Chicken

2 whole Chicken Breast, cut into 1½” x 2” strips
2 Hot Peppers (or more)
Cornstarch, for coating
1 Egg                                                  ¼ c. Flour                                            
1/8 c. Water                                               ¼ c. Cornstarch             
2 Tbsp. Soy Sauce                                    ½ tsp Baking Powder                        
½ tsp. Salt                                               1 dash Pepper
Mix Batter. Add chicken, tossing lightly to coat.  Cover and chill for ½ hour.
Mix seasoning sauce.
Seasoning Sauce:
6 Tbsp. Sugar                                               1 tsp Chili Sauce (hot peppers)
4 ½ Tbsp Cider Vinegar                                    Black Pepper
7 Tbsp Soy Sauce                                               3 drops Sesame Oil
1 tsp Cornstarch
Coat each piece of chicken well with cornstarch.  Arrange chicken on well-floured wax paper.  Heat 2-3” of oil in a pan until very hot.  Fry chicken for 30 seconds. Drain well on a cookie sheet covered with paper towels.  Reheat oil over high heat until very hot.  Refry chicken until crispy and golden brown.
Drain again and keep hot in oven.  Heat 2 tablespoons oil in wok over medium heat.  Add chili sauce, stir-fry 20 seconds. Mix in seasoning sauce and heat to boil, stirring constantly until foam subsides and the sauce thickens slightly and turns to glaze (about 2 minutes or more, do not over thicken).  Add fried chicken and cooked broccoli, tossing to coat well.
Serve immediately

P.S. - For the picky eaters, leave some of the chicken out of the sauce and feed them some delicious popcorn chicken.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Berries and Bits

This is a recipe I picked up from my son's godfather's family.  Always a favorite at get-togethers, this combination of pudding, fresh berries, vanilla wafers and chocolate chips is beautiful in it's simplicity and yet decidedly decadent.

Berries and Bits

- 1 box Nilla Wafers
- Strawberries, diced, reserve some sliced and one whole for decoration (optional)
- Blueberries, reserve 1/2-1 cup for decoration (optional(
- Chocolate Chips
- Vanilla pudding
- Whipped Cream

Combine equal parts Vanilla Pudding and Whipped cream, making sure to save some whipped cream for decorating (optional).  Line the bottom of a small bowl with a single layer of wafers.  Cover wafers with a layer of pudding mixture.  Sprinkle strawberries and blueberries over the pudding then lightly sprinkle chocolate chips.  Continue layering wafers, pudding, berries and chips until you're less than a half inch from the top of the bowl, stop with a pudding layer if you plan to decorate and berries if you don't.  Use reserved berries and whipped cream to decorate to your liking.

Mint Cookie Blossoms

Who doesn't like mint and chocolate.  I started making these cookies as mint chocolate chip cookies back in college after adapting my family's delectable chocolate chip cookie recipe to add the mint.  Now I've added another little twist in removing the chocolate chips and replacing them with milk chocolate kisses.

Here are some soft delectable cookies, with a hint of mint, and melty chocolate kisses.

Mint Cookie Blossoms

2/3 cups vegetable shortening
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp mint extract
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
chocolate kisses

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Combine shortening and sugars mixing well.  Add eggs and vanilla extract.  In a separate bowl combine dry ingredients.  Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet.  Form 3/8" balls of dough and place onto an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake 7-10 minutes or until golden brown (the top of the cookie will look like it just started cracking). Press a kiss into the top of each cookie immediately upon removal from the oven. Let sit on cookie sheet 2-3 minutes before removing to wire cooling rack*. Enjoy!

*Note - the kisses will melt so try not to touch them while moving the cookies. They will set again after sitting for a few hours but will remain soft and malleable.

Apple Glazed Kielbasa

I went apple picking with my son's godparents this past weekend, and hence have many apples to use.  In preparation of another idea in the works I decided to make an apple jam.  While reducing the jam I realized it was getting close to dinner time and I had not yet determined what I was making, but I had some kielbasa thawed in the refrigerator.  Kielbasa in the fridge, apple jam on the stove, and a light flicked on in my head.  That light inspired me to make some apple glazed kielbasa which we enjoyed with egg noodles and broccoli.

Apple Glazed Kielbasa

- 1 lb kielbasa of your choice
- 1/3 cup apple jam

Dice the kielbasa and put in a large frying pan.  Fry it over medium heat until the kielbasa starts to brown then add the apple jam.  Keep cooking, stirring continuously as the jam melts then forms a glaze on the kielbasa.  Serve hot with your choice of accompaniment.