March 28, 2013

Scalloped Potatoes & Ham plus more ideas for leftover Easter ham

Photo from The Pioneer Woman
  • 3 lbs russet or yukon gold potatoes, washed thoroughly
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 whole yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cups diced ham
  • 1 1/2 c. half-and-half
  • 1 1/2 c. heavy cream
  • 1/4 c. all-p flour
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1 c. grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 c. grated Monterey Jack cheese
  • chopped parsley (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter or grease a large casserole dish.
2. Heat butter in a large skillet. Add onions and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until they start to turn translucent. Then add ham and cook for 3 to 4 minutes until starting to brown a little. Remove from heat and set aside.
3. Combine half-and-half and cream in a microwave-safe container and cook for a minute or so, until no longer cold. Whisk in flour and black pepper and set aside.
4. Combine the two grated cheeses and set aside.
5. Using a mandoline or slicer, slice potatoes into very thin 1/8-inch slices. To assemble: layer 1/3 of the potato slices in the buttered casserole dish, sprinkle on 1/3 of the ham/onion mixture, then 1/3 of the cheese, then pour on 1/3 of the cream mixture.
6. Repeat this twice more, ending with a sprinkling of cheese and a pouring on of the rest of the cream mixture. Cover dish with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 20 minutes or until bubbly and hot. Let sit 5 minutes before cutting into squares. Sprinkle with chopped parsley if desired. 

March 27, 2013

Carrot Cake

  • Just in time for Easter, this dessert will impress all. It's so good!
  • The pic is of Oren's 1st birthday carrot cake (which Nana made!) but I usually make it as a sheet cake in a 13x9 inch pan which is what the recipe below is for. Should you want to make a layered cake in round cake pans, I would at least double the recipe below, using any leftover batter and frosting for cupcakes.
  • Recipe is from Cooking Light.

Cake (for a 13x9 inch pan, see notes above if you want to do the 3-layer like in the picture):
  • Cooking spray
  • 9 tbsp butter, softened
  • 2/3 c. packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs - 2 egg whites & 2 entire eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 c. all-p flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 c. lowfat buttermilk
  • 2 c. finely shredded carrot

  • 1/2 c. (4 oz) block-style cream cheese (low fat is fine), softened
  • 1/4 c. butter, softened
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 3/4 c. powdered sugar, divided

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. To prepare cake, coat pan(s) with cooking spray and line bottom with wax paper (you only need to use the wax paper if you are doubling the recipe to do the layered cake; for the 13x9, just grease it well). Coat wax paper with cooking spray, set aside.

3. Place 9 tbsp softened butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed 5 min or until well blended. Add eggs and egg whites, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition until pale and fluffy. Beat in vanilla extract.

4. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and 1/4 tsp salt, stirring with a whisk. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix after each addition. Stir in carrot. Spoon batter into prepared pan(s). Sharply tap pan once on counter to remove air bubbles. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes (that's for a 13x9 so less for a round cake pan). Cook until toothpick in center comes out clean or almost clean. Cool in pan 10 min on a wire rack then remove from pan (if doing the 3 layers; otherwise leave in the 13x9 inch pan). Carefully peel off wax paper; cool completely on wire rack. Freeze cake for 30 minutes before frosting to reduce the amount of crumbs that come loose while you frost.
5. To prepare frosting, place the cream cheese, butter,  vanilla, and salt in a large bowl. Beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Gradually add 2 c. powdered sugar, beating at low speed until smooth (do not overbeat). Stir in the remaining powdered sugar, 1/4 c. at a time, until desired thickness is reached. Cover and chill 30 minutes. Spread frosting over top (and sides if doing layers) of cake. Garnish with orange sprinkles if desired. Store leftover cake in the fridge.

Egg Recipes

Great for an Easter brunch or for breakfast/dinner this week, click here to find delicious recipes for frittatas, quiche, muffin cup eggs, breakfast burritos, and more.

March 5, 2013

Week 63, Recipe 1: Crispy Chicken Salads


  • Yum! An easy filling dinner and the kids ate up their crispy chicken strips with veggies and dip instead of on a salad.
  • I found a copy cat recipe for Shake n Bake, modified it a bit, and used that as my seasoning.
  • Chicken breasts - about 1 lb or 2 large
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • Stuff for salads - crispy lettuce, tomatoes, cubed cheese, chopped green or red onions, croutons, cooked and crumbled bacon (optional), yellow/red/orange peppers, etc.
  • Homemade Shake n Bake coating (combine in a ziplock bag and toss to mix):
    • 2 c. panko bread crumbs
    • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
    • 1/2 tbsp salt
    • 1/2 tbsp paprika
    • 1/2 tbsp celery salt
    • 1/2 tsp pepper
    • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
    • 1/4 tsp onion powder
    • 1/2 tsp dried basil
    • 1/2 tsp dried parsely (I left this out because I didn't have any)

1. Mix all ingredients for the coating in a ziplock bag and toss to mix.
2. If your chicken breasts are thick or are thick just on one side, pound to an even thickness by placing under plastic wrap on a cutting board and using the flat side of a mallet to pound to an even thickness throughout. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Place beaten egg into one shallow bowl and the coating in another.
4. Dip chicken breasts into egg then the coating and fry the chicken over medium high heat oil in a large sauce pan (enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan with a thin layer) until browned on one side. Turn, and cook the other side.
5. Remove breasts to a cutting board and let cool a few minutes before slicing them at the diagonal into thin strips. Serve over your salad with dressing of choice.

Week 63, Recipe 2: Creamy Sausage and Tomato Penne

  • Recipe modified from the blog From the Girl Who Ate Everything
  • My husband asked me to make this again soon!
  • 1 lb ground sausage (regular Italian or spicy would be fine - turkey or pork)
  • 1 c. chopped onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 16 oz can Italian style diced tomatoes
  • 1 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • 5-6 big leaves of fresh basil, chopped
  • 12 ounces penne pasta
  • Grated Parmesan for topping
  • Salt and pepper to taste
1. Cook the pasta in salted water just until al dente, according to package directions.
2. While pasta is cooking, cook the sausage in a large skillet until starting to brown, breaking it up and stirring every so often. Then add 1/4 c. water and cover the skillet until the water starts to simmer. Turn down heat a bit and stir every so often until the water has evaporated and the sausage is cooked through.
3. Add the onions and garlic to the sausage and saute for a few minutes.
4. Add the can of diced tomatoes and the tomato sauce and bring to a low simmer.
5. Add in the cream and bring to a low simmer for a few minutes.
6. Stir in the fresh basil and then mix the pasta in with the sauce. Top each serving with some Parmesan cheese if desired.

Week 63, Recipe 3: Sunday Short Ribs with Cream Sauce

  • Recipe modified from The Pioneer Woman blog
  • I call them Sunday Short Ribs because they seem fancy although the recipe is really easy and could be made any day of the week! They bake on a low heat in the oven for 3 hours hours so you will need to plan ahead.
  • These are sooooo good. Fall off the bone, tender, tasty beef with a light cream sauce. YUM.
  • 12 whole shortribs
  •  salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup red wine (something you'd drink, not cooking wine)
  • 32 oz beef broth or stock
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh rosemary
  • 2 tbsp grainy mustard
  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • 16 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tbsp butter


1. Heat olive oil in a heavy pot (Dutch oven works great) over high heat. Sprinkle short ribs on both sides with salt and pepper. Quickly sear both sides of the short ribs, using tongs to flip them halfway through. (Just sear about 1 1/2 minutes per side.) Remove the shortribs to a plate.
2. Pour wine and beef broth into the pot. Add rosemary. Stir to combine, scraping the bottom of the pot to deglaze. Return the shortribs to the pot, reduce heat to low, then cover the pot and place in the oven at 300 degrees for 2 1/2 - 3 hours.
3. After they have cooked, carefully remove the shortribs from the pot again. Stir in mustard and cream, then raise the heat and allow it to bubble up and gently simmer for a few minutes, or until it has thickened a bit. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. Return the shortribs to the sauce, put on the lid, and turn off the heat.
4. Meanwhile, melt the 1 tbsp of butter in a skillet and saute the mushrooms, adding a little olive oil if necessary.
5. To serve, place a mound of mushrooms on a place, then shortribs on top of the mushrooms, then drizzle with cream sauce.
Posted by on November 15 2009

Week 63, Recipe 4: Quick Baked Chicken Parmesan

Photo from Joyful Mama's Kitchen blog

  • Recipe modified from Joyful Mama's Kitchen blog.
  • That was quick and really good! The picture doesn't do it justice (and Joyful Mama says so herself). I wish I would've gotten my own photo but it was a Saturday night and we were all hungry!
  • Serve with these delicious soft Italian breasticks (ready for the oven in just 30 minutes!) from an earlier post (the recipe is within Recipe 1 of that week).
  • 4 thin chicken breasts or 2 large, sliced crosswise in half to thin
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or finely shredded
  • 1 (5 oz) bag butter and garlic croutons
  • 2 c. marinara sauce
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 3 c. mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 c. parmesan cheese, grated

1. Spray a 13x9 inch baking pan or casserole dish with oil.
2. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes and place the minced/shredded garlic evenly over the olive oil.
3. Layer the chicken breasts in the bottom of the pan then pour the marinara sauce over top and sprinkle with the dried basil.
4. Sprinkle half of the mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese over top of the chicken then top with the croutons followed by the rest of the cheeses. salad and breadsticks.
5. Bake for about 40-50 minutes (cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of your chicken breasts) at 350. Check chicken temp at 35 minutes and do so every 10 minutes until chicken is 160 degrees. If desired, serve with the quick Italian breadsticks (see link above in NOTES).

Week 63, Recipe 5: Cheesy Chicken & Wild Rice Bake

Photo from A Picky Palate blog

  • A great dish! I made two and froze one and we just ate it last week - it freezes nicely! Recipe below makes one 13x9 inch pan so double if desired.
  • Recipe modified from A Picky Palate.
  • Buy a large whole chicken, roast and then shred and chop to make 2 13x9 inch pans. See how to roast a whole chicken here. You can also bake some chicken breasts, boil some chicken breasts, or buy a whole roasted chicken at your grocery store.
  • Cooking oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 3 stalks celery, finely diced
  • 4 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or finely shredded
  • 2 c. shredded, cooked chicken breast (see ideas for getting the chicken in NOTES above)
  • 1 1/2 c. dry white rice, cooked according to package directions
  • 1 1/2 c. wild rice, cooked according to package directions
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • For cheese sauce:
    •  2 tbsp butter
    • 1/4 c. all-p flour
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp black pepper
    • 2 c. chicken broth
    • 2 c. shredded cheddar cheese, plus additional for topping casserole


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Heat a little oil into a medium dutch oven or pot over medium-low heat. Saute onion, celery and carrots until softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook for 1 minute. Stir in chicken, both of the cooked rices, salt and pepper. Transfer rice mixture to a large bowl.
3. To prepare cheese sauce, melt the butter into a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Whisk in flour, salt and pepper then slowly pour in chicken broth whisking continuously. Whisk until thickened a bit and nearly boiling then stir in cheese until melted.
4. Pour cheese sauce over rice mixture in a large bowl then transfer to a lightly greased 9×13 inch baking dish. Top with additional cheddar cheese and bake for 25-30 minutes or until cheese is melted through.