January 27, 2013

Week 61, Recipe 1: Easy Beef & Bean Burritos

Photo from Real Mom Kitchen blog
  •  These were really easy (think 10 minute prep) and tasty. Would freeze really well too so while you're at it, make a double batch and throw some in the freezer in a ziplock bag. Remove and thaw in the fridge or at room temp then pop in the microwave for a minute or so until heated through.
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 can refried beans (I like Amy's brand with the green chiles) 
  • 2/3 cup enchilada sauce (or make yor own - see here, scroll down to recipe 3)
  • 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded colby/jack cheese
  • 10 large flour tortillas

  1. Brown and drain meat. Stir in the remaining ingredients (except tortillas) and bring to a simmer.
  2. Simmer and stir for a few minutes or until heated through.
  3. Put about 1/2 cup of the mixture in each flour tortilla, towards one side, closest to you/edge of counter. Fold in the sides a bit on the left and right and then holding those folded sides in, start rolling up from the bottom closest to you towards the top.
  4. Serve with rice, chopped lettuce, etc.

Week 61, Recipe 2: Hash brown-Crust Quiche with Ham & Cheese

  • I love hash brown crusts. Make two of these while you at it! It's so easy to shred your own potatoes for the hash browns. You will need about 3 medium potatoes for each crust. The trick to hash browns either in a quiche crust or just fried up in a saucepan is to squeeze the excess moisture from the shredded potatoes before cooking so they'll crisp up nicely. Otherwise they are too wet and will never cook up properly. I use a porous dish cloth but you could also try some sturdy paper towels. I place a large chunk in the center of my cloth then squeeze and ring the water out of the potatoes. It will surprise you how much liquid comes out!
  • Experiment with this recipe! Try substituting sausage for the ham and adding green chilies, or go vegetarian and do mushrooms and green onions. You can mix anything for the filling - just keep the egg, cheese, and milk. You may have to use one less egg or one more, depending on how chunky your filling ingredients are.
  • 3 medium russet potatoes, peeled and shredded then squeezed of excess liquid (feel free to use frozen, partially thawed hash browns instead - probably 1 package would do for one pie crust)
  • 4 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 c. cooked diced ham (or cooked crumbled sausage or leave meat out all together)
  • 1 c. shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 c. half-and-half or whole milk
  1. Preheat oven to 425 and prepare hash brown crust as directed in the first ingredient list above.
  2. Melt butter and toss with the shredded (and squeezed dry) hash browns along with 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper.
  3. Press this mixture into the sides of an ungreased pie plate (glass is preferable).
  4. Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes or until potatoes start to brown a little.
  5. While the crust is baking, whisk together the eggs and half-and-half/milk. Add 1/4 tsp salt and pepper. This is optional but I think you'll get a better flavor - saute ham in a little oil until hot and starting the brown a bit (add some chopped onions if desired). Remove from heat and set aside. Decrease oven temp to 400.
  6. Remove crust from oven and arrange all but a small bit of the cheese on the bottom. Place the ham on top then pour the eggs/milk over the ham, topping with the last bit of cheese.
  7. Return pan to oven and bake for 20-30 minutes or until the egg has set and it is puffy and lightly browned on top. You may need to cover the top during cooking if the edge of the crust starts to brown too quickly. Uncover for at least the last 5 minutes. If desired, place under the broiler for the last few minutes to brown the top a bit (be careful not to burn!).

Week 61, Recipe 3: Make-ahead Sausage & Cheese Ravioli Bake

Photo by Taste of Home
  • I currently work on Wednesdays and Fridays so am always looking for make-ahead recipes for those two days. I assembled this easy casserole on a Tuesday evening in about 15 minutes then froze. On Wednesday morning before I left for work, I put the frozen casserole into the oven and set the timer for it to cook and be ready at 5:15 when my husband comes home with the kids. We'll be making this again, it was so easy and good.
  • Next time I'll probably add a package of frozen spinach, cooked & drained to get some more veggies.
  • I'm labeling this post both as "Pork" and "Vegetarian" because you can easily leave out the sausage and still have a delicious entree. Add spinach, sauteed mushrooms, etc. if desired.
  • Recipe modified from Taste of Home
  • Like all freezer recipes, while you're at it double the recipe and make two of these so you'll have one to freeze and pull out later! You'll be glad you did on that busy weeknight a month from now.
  • 1 25 oz. package frozen cheese ravioli
  • 1 lb Italian sausage (breakfast or spicy)
  • 1 15 oz. container ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten  
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 2 jars spaghetti sauce (look for one with low sugar - bottles sauces tend to add unnecessary sugar!)
  • 2 c. shredded Italian cheese blend
  • See my "NOTES" above about adding frozen spinach, sauteed mushroom, etc. if desired
  1. Cook the sausage in a large skillet over medium heat until no longer pink; drain (see my TIP below recipe for cooking sausage).
  2. In a large bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, egg, basil and seasoning.
  3. Cook ravioli according to package directions then drain.
  4. Spoon about 1 1/3 c. spaghetti sauce into a lightly greased 13 x 9-inch casserole dish. Layer with half of the ravioli and sausage. Spoon all of the ricotta mixture over sausage and top with 1 1/3 c. sauce. Layer with remaining ravioli and sausage. Spread remaining sauce over top and sprinkle with cheese.
  5. Bake covered for 30 minutes at 350. Uncover and bake 5-10 minutes longer. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.
When I cook sausage, I like to cook it for a few minutes in a little oil (or spray pan with spray oil) while breaking it up with a flat wooden spoon. Then I add about 1/3 c. water to the hot skillet and get that water simmering, while continuing to break up sausage. The water helps cook the inside of the sausage before the edges get too brown. Once the water has evaporated, let the sausage cook a bit longer to get the edges just slightly browned. This works well for crumbled sausage as well as sausage links.

Week 61, Recipe 4: Chicken & Potato Chowder


  • Recipe modified from Tasty Kitchen
  • So glad I made a double batch of this (I did not double it below so be sure to if you want leftovers!). You will probably need to spilt the soup into two large pots if you double it after you saute the veggies and before adding broth.
  • See my Tip below for how to cook chicken for soups and casseroles!
When I make a big pot of soup that contains chicken, I like to boil a few thighs and breasts (or a whole chicken - that works best) in a large pot of water. I add an onion, cut into quarters, several carrots, peeled and chopped into fourths, a stalk or two of celery, 1-2 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, a handful of fresh parsley if I have it on hand, and 1 bay leaf. That way, when your chicken has finished cooking and you've strained the broth of the vegetables and small meat chunks, you'll have a big pot of your own homemade broth to use rather than buying those prices boxes of store-bought chicken broth.

  • 3 slices bacon
  • 1 lb of chicken, cooked and chopped or shredded (see my tip above for using a whole chicken or a mixture of breasts and thighs and then using the cooking water for broth)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 diced red, yellow or orange bell pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can (4 Oz. Can) diced green chilies
  • 5 c. chicken broth (see my tip above)
  • 2 large russet potatoes, peeled and chopped into bite-size pieces
  • 1-2 c. of frozen corn
  • ½ c. all-purpose flour
  • 2 c. milk
  • 1-½ c. grated sharp cheddar cheese, plus  more for topping
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • chopped green onions for topping (optional)
  1. Cook bacon in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat until crispy. Remove the bacon from the pan and let drain on a piece of paper towel. Set aside.
  2. Reserve 1 tbsp of bacon drippings and add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until vegetables have softened. Add diced green chilies and cook for an additional minute. Add chicken broth, potatoes, and cooked chicken. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Add corn and stir well, heating again to a simmer.
  3. Pour flour into a medium bowl. Gradually whisk in milk. Add the milk mixture to the soup and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in grated sharp Cheddar cheese and cayenne pepper. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and top with cheese, scallions and crumbled bacon.

Week 61, Recipe 5: Baked Pork Loin with Seasoned Crust


  • Make the spice rub and rub over roast the night before you want to make it. Refrigerate it over night. It takes a hour to an hour and a half to bake. It made for a super tasty pork roast!

  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons pepper
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground mustard
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon rubbed sage
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 boneless pork loin roast (3 to 3-1/2 pounds)
  1. Combine the first eight ingredients; rub over entire roast. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Place roast on a greased rack in a roasting pan.
  2. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for about 1 1/2 hours (about 25 minutes per pound of meat) or until a meat thermometer reads 145°. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing.

January 26, 2013

Week 60, Recipe 1: Baked Pork Chops with Stuffing

  • A very flavorful and moist pork chop recipe. It's a great recipe for a weeknight when you're home early enough to pop in the oven (bakes for 1 hour) or for a Sunday lunch. Perfect for these winter months!
  • This recipe is from my mom.
  • 4 pork chops, bone-in or boneless
  • 3 c. soft breadcrumbs (about 3 slices of bread - white or wheat - cubed)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/4 c. butter, melted
  • 1/4 tsp sage
  • 2 small cans cream of mushroom soup
  1. In a large saucepan with a little oil, brown chops on both sides and place in a lightly greased 13x9-inch baking dish.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the cubed bread, chopped onion, butter, and sage. Place a mound of stuffing on each pork chop.
  3. In another bowl, whisk 2/3 c. water into the soups and pour over the pork chops and stuffing.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Week 60, Recipe 2: Lasagna Soup

Picture from A Farmgirl's Dabbles blog
  •  Got the recipe from my friend Emily who got it from A Farmgirls's Dabbles blog. I modified it slightly.
  • Tastes like lasagna and is sooo good! We've made this probably 3-4 times now....and somehow I have yet to take a picture!
  • Make this soup the night or morning before you want to eat it. You can also make the pasta and cheesy topping and store separately in containers in the fridge. Then reheat and serve!
For soup:
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1-1/2 lbs. Italian sausage
  • 3 c. chopped onions
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 T. tomato paste
  • 1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 8 c. chicken broth
  • 10 oz. pasta - I like the mini bowties or mini rotini/fusilli
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Mozzarella cheese, grated, for topping
Cheesy topping:
  • 8 oz. ricotta
  • 1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add sausage, breaking up into bite sized pieces. Cook for a few minutes until skillet is nice and hot then add a few tablespoons of water and let that sizzle and evaporate while the sausage cooks (helps keep it from burning).
  2. Once the water has evaporated, add onions and cook until softened, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, basil, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Cook for 1 minute.
  3. Add tomato paste and stir well to incorporate. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the tomato paste turns a rusty brown color.
  4. Add diced tomatoes, bay leaves, and chicken stock. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to directions. Drain and run cool water over it. Set aside.
  6. Assemble the cheesy topping in a small bowl.
  7. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper. It will probably need at least 1 teaspoon salt. Start with that and re-taste. If it still tastes dull, add a bit more.
  8. To serve, spoon pasta into each bowl then add soup and stir. Top with a good dollop of the cheesy topping and some grated mozzarella. Enjoy!

Week 60, Recipe 3: Eggplant Parmesan Sandwich

Didn't get a photo of my own for this one so I found a photo that looked similar to ours from Just a Taste blog. I did ours on herbed ciabatta loaves instead of a bun.
  • This is one good sandwich!
  • Serve this with a salad and you have one hearty meal even though there's no meat invovled!
  • 1 large firm eggplant
  • 3 large eggs
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3-4 c. panko crumbs (crushed with a rolling pin in a ziplock bag if large crumbs)
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 c. shredded Parmesan
  • about 1/2 c. olive or vegetable oil
  • 4 ciabatta or hoagie rolls, split
  • 1 c. mozzarella, shredded (or you could use thin slices of fresh mozzarella)
  • 2 c. marinara, warm
  1. Slice the eggplant crosswise about 1/4 to 3/8-inch thick slices. Salt slices well and place in a colander over a bowl. Fill a ziplock bag with water and place heavy bag on top of slices to help drain the eggplant. Leave for 30 minutes.
  2. Remove the eggplant slices, rinse and pat dry with paper towels.
  3. Whisk the eggs with salt and pepper in a small bowl. Mix the bread crumbs with 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, Italian seasoning, and Parmesan and place in a baking dish with sides or shallow bowl.
  4. One at a time, dip the eggplant into the egg mixture then into the crumbs, covering all surfaces
  5. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add enough olive or vegetable oil to coat bottom of pan and allow it to heat up (you may have to add more oil as necessary during cooking).
  6. Add the breaded eggplant slices to the pan and cook for a few minutes on each side, turning after the first side has browned nicely. You may need to reduce heat to medium to keep from burning. Remove breaded eggplant to a paper towel-lined plate.
  7. Brush the cut-side of your rolls with a little olive oil and broil for a minute or so until just lightly warmed and toasted. Warm up the marinara sauce in the microwave or on the stove top.
  8. Place 2 or 3 eggplant sliced onto the warmed rolled and top with shredded mozzarella and warm marinara sauce.

Week 60, Recipe 4: Baked Mac & Cheese

  • This was really good. I should've had made two and froze one for later.
  • From Mennonite Girls Can Cook blog
  • 16 oz dried pasta - rotini or fusilli  
  • 2 c. freshly grated (it works better than the pre-grated stuff) sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 c. cottage cheese
  • 1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 c. butter
  • 1/4 c. flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 c. 2% milk
  • 1 c. panko bread crumbs
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add in 1 tbsp salt.
  2. Boil the pasta a minute or so shy of the cooking time or until just barely tender. Rinse with cool water and set aside in a large bowl.
  3. Melt the butter in a saucepan on the stove. Whisk in the flour and salt and stir until smooth. Add a little milk, whisk until smooth and repeat until all the milk has been added. Cook and stir over medium heat, stirring at one minute intervals until the white sauce is thick and bubbly.
  4. Remove from heat and add the cheeses. Pour over the pasta and mix gently.
  5. Turn into a greased 13x9 inch casserole dish.
  6. Combine the bread crumbs with the  2 tbsp melted butter and sprinkle over the pasta.
  7. Bake uncovered in a 375 oven about 30 minutes or until nicely toasted on top and bubbly around the edges.

Week 60, Recipe 5: One-pot Greek Chicken with Pasta

  • This was delicious and I love a one-pot meal! The picture isn't great (blame it on the flash) but this is a dish you'll want to make again!
  • A recipe I wrote down on a piece of paper from Cooking Light
  • 1 lb whole wheat angel hair pasta
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced in half cross-wise to make thinner then cut into 2 or 4 pieces each (you should then have 4 breast-sized pieces that you cut into two or 4 pieces each)
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped
  • 1 lemon, squeezed for juice
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 14.5-oz cans Italian-style diced tomatoes
  • 3/4 c. feta cheese, crumbled
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large dutch oven or pot. Add chicken to pan and saute, 3 minutes or so on each side until starting to brown a bit.
  2. Add onion, pepper, lemon juice, basil, oregano and tomatoes, and 1/2 tsp salt and pepper to pan and stir well. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 25 minutes. Taste and add more salt and pepper as needed.
  3. While chicken and sauce simmer, cook pasta according to directions until just tender and drain.
  4. Remove chicken from heat. Serve chicken and sauce over a bed of pasta. Sprinkle with cheese.