Friday, August 19, 2011

Cheesy Beef Vegetable Casserole

Makes 6 Servings

4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
6 cups uncooked egg noodles
4 cups mixed vegetables, thawed
1-2 lbs ground beef
3-4 cups shredded cheese


Boil the noodles as directed. Brown the ground beef & season as desired (I use salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder). Spray a 13x9 glass baking dish. Drain the noodles. Melt the butter and slowly whisk in the flour to make a roux. Slowly stir in the milk to make a white cream sauce. Stir in the cheese, leaving a half cup or so our for the topping. Stir until cheese is melted and well combined and season with salt and pepper to taste. (I also like to add 1/4 cup or so of grated parmesan) Mix beef, vegetables, noodles and cheese sauce together in the baking dish then top with remaining shredded cheese. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes until bubbly and cheese is melted.

After reading a forum post about cheese sauce, I couldn't contain my craving for it and came up with this recipe in my head while driving to the mall...yes, I'm crazy like that! I whipped it up in about 20-30 minutes, and it was a huge hit. Everyone loved it and my husband's eyes lit up like it was Christmas! (He is a huge casserole fan.) For weeknights when you are so busy and want a quick, easy and best of all, ONE dish meal, this is your winner!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Crab Rangoons

Makes 6 Servings

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup mayonnaise
3-4 green onions, chopped
2 cups chopped, cooked shrimp or crab meat--can be canned or fresh, imitation is ok too
Dash salt
12 egg roll wrappers (or wonton wrappers)
Egg wash


Combine all filling ingredients and mix well...taste test to make sure it has enough salt. Arrange the egg roll wrappers in a "diamond" shape so the point is facing you. Place two tablespoons of filling in the bottom 1/3 of the triangle, then wrap like a burrito...roll over the filling, bring in the sides, then continue rolling until closed nicely. (Google has lots of egg roll wrapping illustrations if you need them.) Use a brush or your fingers to brush the egg wash onto the tip/corner of the wrap to seal it and ensure it doesn't open up during frying. Fry in hot oil until golden brown. Makes six servings of two rolls each. If you prefer to bake, you can use wonton wrappers instead--those bake very well. The thin spring roll wrappers that we use from the Asian grocery do not bake well, but get very chewy. If you purchase an egg roll or wonton wrapper from a regular grocery store like Publix, then you will be fine to bake them. You can wrap as directed and bake at 350 for about 20 minutes, or you can line muffin tins with the wrappers and fill with the filling, then bake at 350 for 20 minutes. (This is definitely the easier, healthier route!)

We have tried to mimic the Crab Rangoons from the Chinese takeout restaurants several times and this is the closest we have gotten! The mayonnaise helps keep the cream cheese creamy and smooth without drying out and adding a bit of salt helps with the flavor. We like to make these for a snack or as an appetizer for a party. I like using the wonton wrappers and baking them in muffin tins--super easy and much healthier than frying.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Crockpot Chicken & Dumplings II

Makes 8 Servings

4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 can cream of chicken soup
4 bouillon cubes
*If using thawed chicken, add 2 cups water. If the chicken is frozen, this is not necessary as it creates its own juices.*
2 cups peas (thawed or frozen)
2 cups baking mix
2/3 cup + 1 tablespoon milk
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons parsley
4-6 teaspoons cornstarch
4-6 teaspoons cold water
Garlic powder


Place chicken in the crockpot and season with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Pour the cream of chicken soup over the chicken, spreading evenly on top. Place the bouillon cubes equally throughout the crock. *If using thawed chicken, pour the 2 cups of water evenly around the sides of the crock. If frozen, no additional water is needed.* Cook on low for 4 hours, then switch to high and cook for another 30 minutes. Mix together the cornstarch and water in a small bowl with a whisk until completely dissolved. Use 4 teaspoons for a thinner gravy, 6 for thicker. Stir the mixture into the liquid in the crock, stirring until combined. Stir in the peas and cook for another 30 minutes. (If your peas are already thawed, you can skip the additional 30 minutes and just let it cook for an hour after switching it to high, then stir them in just before putting the dumplings in. But if they are frozen, they will lower the temperature of the mixture, which is why you need to let it get bubbly again before adding the dumplings.) *Make sure your chicken is cooked all the way through at this point* Once it comes to a boil (or bubbling slightly) again, mix together the baking mix, parsley, cheese and 2/3 cup of milk. Add an additional tablespoon or two of milk and stir again--you want the consistency to be wetter and stickier than your usual biscuit dough so that you get nice and moist dumplings. Drop by heaping spoonfuls on top of the boiling mixture in the crockpot and cook on high for another hour, or until dough is cooked through and no longer "doughy".

This was super easy and delicious. My kids LOVED it! They love for me to add cheese to the dumplings, but you can certainly leave it out if you prefer. If your crock tends to take longer for cook times, it may run at a lower temperature and you may prefer to bake the dumplings in the oven--450 for 10 minutes--before putting them into the crock, or serving the chicken mixture on top of them, however you like it. This is the perfect weeknight meal. I started this at noon today and it was ready by 6 before hubby went to work. We were doing renovations on our guest bathroom ALL day long, so this was perfect for us to have a home-cooked meal without spending hours over the stove, giving me more time to work on the bathroom. Gotta love that!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Crockpot Apple Crisp

Makes 6-8 Servings

10 small apples
4 tablespoons butter, cubed
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 tablespoons vanilla
1 cup quick-cooking oats
2 tablespoons brown sugar
4 tablespoons butter, cut up
-can substitute 1 box cake mix + 1 stick melted butter for oats & sugar if desired-


Preheat your crock on high. Spray inside of the crock. Cut up the apples--peel or not, it's personal preference. Toss the apples with the orange juice, cinnamon, vanilla, cubed butter and brown sugar in the crockpot. Mix together in a separate bowl the oats, brown sugar and remaining cut up butter. Sprinkle over the top of the apples. Cover and cook on high for 3 hours, or low for 5. If you prefer the cake-mix-type topping, you can mix that with the cubed butter instead and sprinkle that on top of the apples instead of the oats and sugar. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. Yum!

So easy and delicious. It's the perfect way to use up apples if you've got a ton like I do! My kids love this and I've made it with both kids of topping. I like to sprinkle a little cinnamon on top of my ice cream when I eat this.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Breakfast Pizza

Makes 1 Pizza

1 can regular Pillsbury pizza crust dough
6 strips pre-cooked bacon, chopped
1/2 cup parmesan
2 cups mozzarella
6 eggs
salt and pepper


Preheat the oven to 425. 

Spray pizza pan if necessary--can use round or rectangle. Stretch dough to fit and sprinkle with parmesan, mozzarella and bacon. Crack eggs over the top and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until eggs are set to desired amount.

EASIEST. BREAKFAST. EVER!!! You don't have to do any prep work--I bought pre-cooked bacon and used meat-cutting scissors to chop it right over the top of the pizza. Pop it in the oven and you're good to go. This was a HUGE hit with my kids...what kid doesn't like pizza?? We all loved it and it's become a pretty regular breakfast in this household. :)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


Makes 3 Dozen

1/4 pound ground pork
1/2 pound uncooked shrimp, shelled, deveined, and finely chopped
1 egg white
1/4 cup minced water chestnuts
1/2 stalk celery, minced
2-4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon sesame oil
1/8 teaspoon chili oil, optional
Dash ground pepper
36 wonton or potsticker wrappers
3 tablespoons cooking oil
2/3 cup chicken broth

1/2 cup water
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped green onion
1/2 teaspoon chili oil


In a large bowl toss in the pork, shrimp, egg white, water chestnuts, celery, ginger, sugar, salt, chili oil, and sesame oil. Season with a little pepper and mix and stir until well combined--I usually put on some non-latex plastic gloves and mix it with my hands. Put a heaping teaspoon of filling in the center of a wrapper. Brush around the edges with water. Fold the wrappers in half over the filling, pinching the edges together, forming a triangle. Fold the corners over towards the center, moistening with a little water to seal. Make sure to seal well so the filling doesn't ooze out. Repeat until all the filling has been finished. Set your oven to the “warm” setting, or 170 degrees. Heat a large skillet over medium-high. Add about 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil, enough to lightly coat the bottom of your skillet. When the oil is hot, add as many dumplings as can fit well without being overly crammed together. Cook until the bottoms are golden and crisp, about 4 minutes. Add some of the chicken broth; enough for about half an inch of broth in the pan. Reduce the heat to medium, cover, and cook until the liquid is absorbed, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer the cooked dumplings to a casserole dish or cookie sheet and put them in the oven to keep warm. Repeat, steps, until all potstickers are cooked. Serve the dumplings with soy sauce or make the sauce above by mixing all ingredients for the sauce in a pan and simmer over medium heat for a minute or two until the sugar dissolves.

This is easy and delicious, although a bit time-consuming. The worst part is the wrapping, which takes awhile, but it is TOTALLY worth it. We like to make some with just shrimp too and have a big smorgasborg of potstickers. :)

Friday, April 1, 2011

Phyllo Turkey Basil Pot Pie

Serves 16

4 cups cooked chopped or shredded turkey
4 cups chicken broth
4 small potatoes, peeled, cubed and cooked al dente
4 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
1 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons dried basil (or 1 tablespoon chopped, fresh)
1 package phyllo dough (40 sheets)
6 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons flour


Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a small saucepan over low heat and toss in chopped onion, stirring and cooking until translucent. Set aside. Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in medium saucepan over medium-low heat until melted. Sprinkle flour over butter and whisk well until smooth. Cook for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in broth, stirring briskly until well incorporated and smooth. Bring to a boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes until thickened. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Stir in basil, salt and pepper, tasting and adding more if desired. Stir in vegetables (including onions) and potatoes and toss until well mixed. Stir in turkey and mix well. Allow to cool completely and stir in sour cream.

Spray 13x9 pan (glass or metal) with cooking spray. Place one phyllo dough sheet and spray. (*Can brush with melted butter instead if desired*) Repeat until 20 sheets have been placed evenly across the pan and each layer has been sprayed well, making sure to spray the top layer. Pour filling on top. Top with remaining 20 sheets of dough, again spraying each layer, including the final layer. Score or poke in several places to allow steam to escape. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes.

Comfort food at its best! This is so delicious and pretty easy to make. You can also use chicken of course, and you can also use melted butter between the layers of phyllo dough if you'd prefer. You could also do this in two 9" pie pans instead of a large pan, but since the sheets are rectangle shaped, it's just easier to do them in that pan and not have to worry about cutting or folding the edges. We make a lot of turkeys in the crockpot around here, and we always use the resulting broth and leftover meat for this recipe. The flavor is to die for! If you have fresh broth from cooking your chicken or turkey in, use that for sure! But canned broth or bouillon cubes and water work well too. Cutting up the onions and potatoes and softening them can take time and be a pain, so you can always use canned or frozen instead if you'd rather. Other than those two steps, the rest is easy as pie and can make a super yummy weeknight meal that the whole family will love!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Southwestern Baked Ziti

Serves 8-10

16 oz ziti pasta
2 - 10oz cans Rotel tomatoes
2 1/2 cups shredded cheddar (or monterey jack, or a combo of the two)
3/4 - 1 cup ranch dressing
1 lb. ground beef
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green pepper


Boil pasta as directed for "al dente". Brown ground beef with garlic, green pepper and onion, adding seasonings after beef is about halfway browned but still pink. Stir well to combine. Drain pasta and pour into large greased baking dish. Mix in tomatoes, 2 cups of cheese, beef and ranch dressing. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes until bubbly and cheese is melted.

This is one of those recipes that I came up with on a night when we were short on time and overdue for a grocery trip so I needed to use things we had in the house already. I always have ground beef in the freezer and I always have cheddar cheese, ranch dressing and canned tomatoes on hand so this was what I decided to try out and it was delicious! I decided to give it a Southwestern flair when my eyes landed on the cumin and Cajun seasoning in my pantry. Then after I stirred the cheese, ziti, tomatoes and beef together, I felt like it needed something creamy but I didn't have any sour cream so I decided to try ranch dressing. That turned out to be a great idea because this casserole was SO delicious and even my kids loved it! If you don't like onions and/or peppers, you can always leave those out if you wanted. Also adding a can of corn is delicious, it adds a nice crunchy sweetness to it. You can experiment with different cheeses and if you don't like too much spice you can use regular diced tomatoes, but the mild Rotel was perfect for us. This took only about 45 minutes from start to finish...SO easy, so fast and definitely delicious. Doesn't get much better than that! ;)