Friday, June 29, 2007

Quick & Easy Chili

Makes 10-12 Servings

1 lb. ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1 can spicy chili beans, drained and rinsed
1 can white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground red pepper
2 tablespoons sugar
shredded cheddar cheese
sour cream


Brown meat & drain. Add onions and green peppers; cook 5 to 6 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender, stirring occasionally. Add both cans of beans, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, chili powder, sugar and red pepper; mix well. Reduce heat to low; cover &  simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve in bowls and top with cheese and sour cream, if desired.

I made this chili tonight when I was completely pressed for time and needed to make a quick dinner for all of us that my husband could eat and enjoy before leaving for work. I whipped this up in less than thirty minutes, and while my girls were kind of picky about the peppers and onions, and it has a little bit of a kick to it they did finish theirs. We like to eat ours with either tortilla chips or saltine crackers. I also have several other chili recipes, including a couple for the crockpot, so I'll be posting those probably when the weather gets cooler again.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Microwave Macaroni & Cheese

Makes 4 Servings

1  7 oz package elbow macaroni
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 cup milk
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded


Cook macaroni as directed & drain. Melt butter in 2-quart microwavable casserole. Stir in flour and seasoning and microwave 30-45 seconds on high. Add milk and stir until well blended. Microwave 4 1/2 - 5 1/2 minutes until thickened, stirring every minute. Stir in cheese until melted and microwave an additional 15-20 seconds if needed. Stir in macaroni and microwave 5-6 minutes, stopping halfway to stir.

This is one of my favorite side dishes, because not only do the kids adore mac n cheese, but it tastes delicious, just like the oven-baked kind and it's all done in the MICROWAVE!!! How much easier can you get, I mean, really?! I usually like to give it a little golden top, so I broil it for a few minutes to get that baked look to it, and you can always add some melted butter and crushed cornflakes to the top before broiling if you like that crunchy topping. It's easy to double or triple the batch--I even quadruple it for holidays. You can make this into a one-dish meal by cutting up some hot dogs, chicken or ham and some broccoli or peas and mixing it all in. Be creative! You can easily make this more gourmet by changing up your choice of seasoning, cheeses, meats or veggies. Cooking is an art and you are the artist. :)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Black Bean Soup

Makes 6-8 Servings

2 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 - 8oz. package cubed ham
1-2 packages Chorizo, sliced
2 cans Goya Black Beans (do not drain) or Black Bean Soup
1 packet Goya seasoning
1-2 cans water


Saute garlic and onion in oil until onions are clear. Add ham and sausage and cook until heated through. Add black beans w/ liquid, water and seasoning. Bring to a boil and continue boiling until sausage is softened how you like it. Cool and serve w/ chopped scallions and sour cream if you like it!

You can boil this soup for as long as you like--I have simmered it on the stove for several hours before. It's great in the crockpot as well. Generally, you would use as many cans of water as you do beans, but it's all personal preference, whether you like it thicker or thinner. The seasoning is excellent, and very strong, so if I use 3 cans of beans and water, I only use 2 packets of seasoning, but if you do like 5 cans of each, I would use 3 packets. If you use the same amount of packets as beans and water, it may be too salty, but again, it's personal preference. Some people like it saltier. This is one of my favorite is DELICIOUS. I know the selection of Goya seasonings can be a little overwhelming, but don't sweat it--I've tried them all, and they are all good. I normally buy the orange box w/ the veggies on the cover, but they are all good. Also, I sometimes use fresh smoked or cajun sausage instead of's a little less greasy and the kids like it a little better. Easy and can't go wrong.

Chicken Enchiladas

Makes 8 Servings

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
2 jars salsa
1 - 8oz. pkg. cream cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup chopped onions
flour tortillas
extra shredded cheese for topping


Melt butter in skillet; add chicken and onions and saute until chicken is cooked thoroughly and onions are translucent. Add 1 of the cans of salsa and cream cheese and stir until cheese is melted. Add cheddar and let melt. Scoop into the flour tortillas and wrap into cylinders. Spread a little salsa on the bottom of a 13 x 9 sprayed pan. Lay wrapped enchiladas evenly in the bottom of the pan. Spread more salsa and shredded cheese on top. Put in a 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes--just until heated through and cheese melts. Serve with sour cream, salsa and chopped scallions, if desired.

This recipe is super-easy to make and very quick too. It is really easy to double and even triple if you have a big family like I do! We usually omit the chopped onions because we have picky kids who hate onions, but it's up to you what you like to add or omit. You can substitute different kinds of cheese or salsas, and even add more veggies if you like. I didn't put what size or how many tortillas you need, because sometimes I go through two packages, sometimes one. And sometimes we like the bigger tortillas, and sometimes just the smaller ones! It's up to you what your family likes the most. This recipe is freezable as well, and you can make it just as easily in the crockpot if you want to.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Crockpot Swiss Chicken Casserole

Makes 6 Servings

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
6 slices swiss cheese
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/4 cup milk
2 cups herb stuffing mix
1/2 cup melted butter


Spray crockpot with cooking spray. Arrange chicken breasts in the crockpot and top with cheese, layering if needed. Combine soup and milk, stir well and spoon over cheese. Sprinkle stuffing mix on top and drizzle with the melted butter. Cook on low 8 hours, or on high 4-6 hours.

This is another super-easy, crockpot meal that we love! You can even make it one-dish by adding some cut-up asparagus, green beans or broccoli to the crockpot before the stuffing. We usually just serve a salad or some steamed vegetables along with it, and it's very filling & very rich. A nice fruit salad for dessert would go great with it. The perfect weeknight meal!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Garlic Shrimp Alfredo Pasta

Makes 8 Servings

4 tablespoons butter
tablespoons minced garlic
tablespoon cornstarch
6 oz whipping cream
2 1/4 cups milk
tablespoon ground black pepper
1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
16 oz angel hair pasta, cooked
1 lb cooked shrimp
parsley, if desired


Melt butter in large saucepan. Add minced garlic and saute about 5 minutes, until golden. Stir in cornstarch until smooth. Bring to a boil. Slowly pour in whipping cream, whisking after each addition to avoid lumps. Bring back to a boil and repeat with milk. Stir in black pepper and parmesan cheese until smooth. Bring to a boil and let boil for 6-8 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat, sauce will thicken upon cooling/standing. Serve pasta on plates, serving a generous amount of the sauce on top and topping with shrimp, then more parmesan and parsley, if desired.

We made this yesterday for our Sunday dinner, along with some salad and garlic bread, and it was delicious! We like ours on angel hair pasta, but you can use any kind of pasta you like. We also use a bag of Italian shrimp from Sam's Club for it. It is frozen raw, and pre-seasoned and only takes about 5 minutes to cook in the skillet, no need to thaw beforehand. The shrimp have a little kick to them and it is a very tasty combination with the alfredo sauce. It comes with a small bag of aioli sauce, but we usually put that back in the freezer to have another time with fresh shrimp. The seasoning on the frozen shrimp is delicious, and since it is frozen raw, it tastes just as fresh as if you got it from the seafood market. Make sure the parmesan cheese dissolves well and the sauce thickens by boiling the entire time, otherwise you will end up with a lumpy, gritty, thin sauce, and nobody likes that! A delicious meal that took us less than 30 minutes to make from start to finish! YUM!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Risi e Bisi

Makes 4 Servings

1 cup long-grain white rice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup minced onion
2 cups chicken broth
tablespoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/2 cup diced ham
tablespoons butter
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese


Plug in rice cooker and press "Cook" button. Put oil and onion in rice cooker pan and saute 4 minutes. Add rice, chicken broth, parsley, salt and pepper. Stir and cover. Cook until machine function switches to "warm." Add peas and ham and stir. Close lid and let rest for 10 minutes. Open lid and stir in butter and parmesan. Serve immediately.

This is a deliciously creamy and tasty meal from the Venice area of Italy. You can serve it as a side dish, but my family loves it as a main dish and it is very easy to get full off of. It is super quick and easy, and making it in the rice cooker means one dish! Start to finish it usually only takes me about 30-45 minutes. Enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Bars

Makes 12 Servings

1 roll of refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough
1 1/2 cups peanut butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla


Preheat oven to 350

Cut cookie dough in half, and spread one of the halves in a greased 8 x 8 pan. Mix peanut butter, powdered sugar and vanilla and spread on top of cookie dough layer. Spread other half of cookie dough on top. Bake for 30 minutes. Cool for 30 minutes and chill.

This simple dessert will fool people into thinking you slaved away for hours! It has a rich flavor and texture and will leave you with midnight cravings. Excellent with a tall glass of cool milk. The directions say to chill, but my family and I love it warm as well...however you like it, enjoy it!

Crockpot Beef Stroganoff

Makes 8 Servings

2 lbs stew beef
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 jar sliced mushrooms
2 packets onion soup mix
2 cups sour cream
egg noodles or rice


Mix thawed stew beef with soup mix to cover well and place in bottom of greased crockpot dish. Pour cream of mushroom soup on top. Cook on low for 7-8 hours. Just before serving, stir in sour cream until mixed. Serve over noodles or rice.

This is the best crockpot beef stroganoff recipe I have found yet! It is SO easy and super delicious. Our family likes it served over egg noodles, but you can serve it over whatever you like! YUM!

Crockpot Meatloaf

Makes 6-8 Servings

1 1/2 lbs ground round
1 envelope dry onion soup mix
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup breadcrumbs
1 large egg
1 cup shredded cheese
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/2 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon mustard


Combine all meatloaf ingredients and shape into loaf. Place loaf in lightly greased crockpot. Cover and cook on high 1 hour. Reduce heat to low and cook 3 hours. Remove cooker bowl and pour off grease. Return cooker bowl. Combine topping ingredients and spread on top of meatloaf. Cook on low 1 more hour and let stand 10 minutes before serving.

If you like the meatloaf from Boston Market, you will love this recipe! It is easy, of course--do I ever do anything but? And it holds together so well. I like this recipe better than any of my other meatloaf recipes and the fact that it's in the crockpot is EXTRA points! I ♥ my crockpot! It's so easy to get stuff ready in the morning, go about your busy day, and come home to a fresh, hot meal. We love eating this meatloaf with some baked potatoes and a salad or hot vegetable.

Tater Tot Casserole

Makes 8 Servings

1 28 oz bag frozen tater tots
1 lb ground beef
2 cups frozen vegetable (corn or peas are good!)
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 soup can of milk
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese


Preheat oven to 450

Brown ground beef and drain. Thaw tater tots. Mix all ingredients together, reserving 1 dozen or so tater tots and 1 cup of the cheese for topping. Add more milk if needed and seasonings like pepper or garlic powder if desired. Spread in large greased 9 x 13 rectangular casserole dish. Spread cheese and remaining tots on top of casserole and bake for 45 minutes until hot and bubbly and topping is golden brown.

This is one of our favorites! What child can turn down tater tots? This is super-easy and quick to throw together, taking me usually about an hour from start to finish. Another one of my favorite one-dish meals! MMMMM!

Happy Father's Day!

Today I am making my wonderful husband a delicious meal of all his favorite foods, including two of the recipes I posted earlier: Shrimp Cocktail & Seasoned Red Potatoes. He is such an awesome father to our children and I want to show him my appreciation. I love you, honey!

Easy Shrimp Cocktail

Makes 8 Servings

2/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoon grated lemon rind
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1 1/2 lb peeled, large cooked shrimp

Whisk together olive oil, vinegar, lemon rind, salt, pepper and hot sauce in a large bowl. Place cooked shrimp and marinade in a large ziploc bag. Seal and chill 8-24 hours, turning bag occasionally. Serve with cocktail sauce.

This shrimp cocktail is easy and delicious, although we like ours a little less "lemon-y" and a little more spicy! We usually up the hot sauce to a tablespoon or two and omit most of the lemon rind. This will be part of the "Favorite Things" meal for my husband tomorrow for Father's Day, he is going to love it!

Seasoned Red Potatoes

Makes 6 Servings

2.5 lbs red potatoes, washed and sliced thinly
1/2 cup olive oil
black pepper
garlic powder
Italian seasoning


Toss potatoes in large ziploc bag with oil and seasonings. Spread in greased 9 x 13 rectangular casserole dish and sprinkle with more seasoning, if desired. Microwave for 12-15 minutes on high. Broil in oven for 5-10 minutes until golden brown on top.

Another family favorite! Very tasty and delicious. Great side dish to go with tomorrow's Father's Day meal.

Crockpot Breakfast Casserole

Makes 6-8 Servings

1 lb. ground pork sausage, browned & drained
1 28 oz. package frozen country-style hash browns, thawed
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
12 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard


Place hash browns in greased 6 quart crockpot. Spoon sausage over hash browns and sprinkle with cheese. Whisk together eggs, milk, salt, pepper and ground mustard and pour over cheese. Cover and cook on low 4 to 4 1/2 hours until set. Uncover and let stand 15 minutes.

My husband is going to love waking up to this in bed tomorrow morning as part of his pampering on Father's Day! This is one of our favorites. I usually prepare it all the night before and stick the crock dish in the fridge. Then I wake up around 4 or 5 in the morning and stick it in the heating unit and start it on the low setting. Then you wake up around 8 or 9 to the delicious smell of breakfast ready in the kitchen! Perfect for weekends, and great for company. No pressure to have it ready when your company wake up--now it's already there.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Dad's Antipasto

Makes 12 Servings

1 lb. romaine lettuce
1 can chopped olives
chopped cucumbers
chopped green onions
thinly sliced red onions
sliced green onions
white american
deli ham
shredded cheddar cheese
parmesan cheese
grape tomatoes
Italian Dressing


Chop romaine and spread on large serving platter. Create layers of strips of meats and cheese and vegetables, reserving tomatoes for top. Repeat layers until everything is used up and then sprinkle with plenty of olives, cucumbers and parmesan, topping with the grape tomatoes. Pour Italian dressing on top, or serve on the side as a garnish. Cut antipasto using pizza cutter like a pie and serve wedges with dressing.

This is a classic family favorite. My dad makes it every Christmas, it is a tradition, and it also makes a great meal on warm, summer nights. You can include any toppings you like, but these are what our family uses. Delicious!


Welcome to Mama Cucina! I love to cook and my family loves to eat, so these things work hand in hand and as a result, I get lots of requests for recipes! To save everyone time, I have started this blog so everyone has a place to come and see what's for dinner at our house, find something to make for a potluck, or just enjoy finding new recipes to try and enjoy. I am glad you stopped by and I hope you enjoy the recipes I will be posting in the future. There are a lot, so make sure to bookmark me! :) Hugs,