Thursday, December 15, 2011

Italian Green Bean Casserole

Looking for an option to traditional green bean casserole?  This Italian casserole is a perfect side dish for your holiday meal.  In fact, my kids beg me to fix it year-round.  Occasionally, we fix a "mock" Thanksgiving dinner with baked chicken (instead of turkey), this green bean casserole, and yummy homemade macaroni and cheese.  I think you'll find that this dish is one worth serving again and again.

4 cans cut green beans, drained
1 can quartered artichoke hearts, drained and chopped fine
2 cups (1 16 oz. bottle) Italian dressing
1 cup Italian bread crumbs
1 cup grated parmesan cheese

1.  Preheat oven to 350.
2.  Combine all ingredients in a casserole dish.
3.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Chicken Tortilla Soup

This recipe is one that a friend of mine gave me several years ago.  I've added a few personal touches to it over the years, adapting it for the slow cooker.  It's the perfect soup for a cold evening.  Enjoy!

2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cans chicken broth
1 can Rotel tomatoes (undrained)
1 can corn (undrained)
1 can Great Northern Beans (drained and rinsed)*
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
4 large flour tortillas
Vegetable oil

1.  Place chicken breasts in the bottom of a large slow cooker.  Combine all ingedients except for tortillas and oil and pour over chicken.  Cook on low for 7-8 hours,
2.  When you arrive home in the evening, preheat oven to 400 degrees.  On baking sheet, brush both sides of 2 tortillas with oil.  Use a pizza cutter to cut into small strips.
3.  Bake for 5 minutes.  Repeat with remaining 2 tortillas.

Serve soup hot, with baked tortilla strips as garnish.  Delicious!

*You can substitute the great northern beans with black beans.  Don't forget to drain and rinse.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Italian Stuffed Shells

Okay, so I did something a little out of the ordinary tonight.  I usually reserve my more time-consuming meals for the weekends, but I had time tonight to spend in the kitchen!  So...I prepared one of my mom's best Italian dishes!!  This one takes about 30 minutes to prep and about an hour to bake, so it's a lot more work than I would normally suggest on a weeknight.  However, it is well worth the trouble!

24 jumbo pasta shells (about 2/3 of a 12 oz. box of shells)
15 oz. carton of ricotta cheese
2 cups grated mozzerella cheese
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tbsp.  Italian seasoning
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 26 oz. can of your favorite spaghetti sauce with 1/2 cup water

1. Preheat oven to 375.
2. Boil pasta shells for 5 minutes.  Drain and rinse in cold water.
3. Place spaghetti sauce and 1/2 cup water in medium saucepan.  Heat on low.
4.  Combine the three cheeses, Italian seasoning, and beaten eggs.  Mix well.
5.  Pour a thin layer (approx. 1 cup) of sauce into the bottom of a 13X9X2 baking dish.

5.  Stuff each shell with cheese filling.  Place stuffed shells on top of sauce.
6.  Top shells with remaining sauce.
7.  Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes.  Uncover and sprinkle with additional parmesan cheese if desired.  Bake for five more minutes and serve hot!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Two 15-Minute Meal Ideas

Need super fast meal ideas?  Here are two that can be prepared in less than 15 minutes!  Again, I make no claims of gourmet food in this blog.  Just easy meals that beat fast-food any day of the week!

15-minute meal #1:  Blue Runner Red Beans and Rice
1.  Slice a package of your favorite smoked sausage. Brown.
2.  While sausage is cooking, mix a box of Jiffy cornbread mix.  Place in preheated oven.
3.  Add a can of Blue Runner Spicy Creole Red Beans, and add water to desired consistency.
4.  While red beans simmer, cook 4 servings of instant rice.
5.  Serve red beans and rice with cornbread.
No, these beans haven't simmered for hours, but they sure are good!

15-minute meal #2:  Sloppy Roast Beef Po-Boys
1.  Combine 1 lb. of sliced deli roast beef and 1 can of beef gravy in small pot over medium heat.
2.  Serve on po-boy bread with swiss cheese, mayo, and any other sandwich dressings you might like.  We heat ours in the toaster oven to melt the cheese!

Okay ladies, some of you are self-proclaimed "bad cooks," but it doesn't get any easier than this!  You can feed your family with little effort, on a budget, in a just takes a little planning and creativity!!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Chicken Enchiladas

Use the crockpot to cook the chicken for these enchiladas. Prep will take you about 15 minutes; then put them in the oven for 30 minutes. Delicious!!
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 large can (26 oz.) cream of mushroom soup
1 16 oz. sour cream
shredded cheddar cheese
8 large flour tortillas
chili powder
1. Put chicken breasts and cream of mushroom soup in crockpot in the morning. Cook on low for 7-8 hours.
2. When you arrive home that evening, turn off crockpot and shred chicken. Add carton of sour cream and mix well. This is the filling for your enchiladas.
3. Spoon filling into tortilla shell. Cover mixture with shredded cheese and chili powder. Roll shell and place in baking dish. Continue with each tortilla shell.
4. When all 8 shells are lined up in baking dish, cover with the remaining chicken mixture. Add a layer of shredded cheddar cheese and sprinkle with chili powder.
5. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Broccoli and Cheese Soup/Chicken Casserole

Follow this simple recipe to create two meals in one! The soup recipe makes enough for two meals. Enjoy soup the first night. Reserve the leftovers and add cooked chicken and rice the second night for a yummy casserole.
Meal One: Broccoli and Cheese Soup
1 qt. water
1 16 oz. package frozen chopped broccoli
1 cup chopped onion (I buy bags of Pictsweet frozen chopped onions to keep on hand for quick prep. Walmart has these on sale this week for $1 per bag.)
1 can cream of celery soup
1 can cheddar cheese soup
16 oz. Velveeta cheese (1/2 large block), in small cubes
Tony Chachere's seasoning(to taste)
1. Combine water, broccoli, and onion and bring to boil. Cook till broccoli is tender.
2. Reduce heat and add soups, Velveeta, and Tony's seasoning.
3. Cook 5-10 minutes or until cheese melts.
Perfect for a cool fall evening!
Meal Two: Broccoli, chicken, and cheese casserole.
Leftover soup from Meal One
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Instant rice
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Boil chicken and shred into small pieces.
3. Prepare 4-6 servings of instant rice (depending on how much soup you have left).
4. Combine leftover soup, chicken, and rice in large casserole dish.
5. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Chicken Alfredo

This meal is so, so easy! A little prep in the morning, let simmer in the slow cooker all day, boil some pasta, and enjoy a yummy meal!
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 jar alfredo sauce (We like the Ragu roasted garlic kind.)
angel hair pasta
garlic bread
1. Place chicken breasts in crockpot and cover with alfredo sauce. (Don't forget your Reynold's Slow Cooker Liners.)
2. Cook on low for 7-8 hours. Separate chicken into small pieces and stir.
3. Serve over cooked angel hair pasta, with salad and garlic bread.
It doesn't get any easier than this! This meal takes all of two minutes to prep, and about 10 minutes to prepare pasta and toast garlic bread. A great family meal with no effort!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Cheesy Spinach Bread

This weekend's menu was all about the grandparents! My father-in-law's favorite retirement past-time is fishing, and he caught beautiful speckled trout on one of his fishing adventures last week. There is nothing like fresh fried fish, especially when my husband is doing the frying!! On Sunday, I baked one of my mom's favorite recipes, a cheesy spinach dish that we have always called "spinach bread." Now, I know what you're thinking: "Will kids actually eat this?" The answer is a resounding "YES!" It is cheesy and oh, so good!
(I doubled this recipe and made a meal out of it, but you could do a single batch and serve it as a side dish.)
1 cup bisquick baking mix
1 onion chopped very fine
1/4 cup milk
4 eggs
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 - 12 oz. carton cottage cheese
1 - 10 oz. frozen chopped spinach - thawed
1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese
1 tsp. minced garlic
Season salt to taste (Tony Chachere's is our favorite!)
1. Preheat oven to 375. Grease baking dish.
2. Mix all ingredients and pour into dish.
3. Bake for 35 minutes (55 if you double the batch).
4. Let stand five minutes. Cut into squares.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Vegetable Soup with Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

The perfect recipe for a cool fall evening! I've always used this basic recipe for homemade veggie soup, but this time, I put everything in the crockpot and came home this afternoon to a steaming pot of soup. Enjoy!
8 cups water
4 tbsp. beef bouillion crystals
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 lb. lean stew meat
1 large bag mixed vegetables
Tony Chachere's seasoning (to taste)
1. Place first five ingredients in the slow cooker. Sprinkle with Tony's seasoning. Stir.
(Don't forget your Reynold's slow cooker liner. I forgot mine this morning, and now I have to wash the pot!!!!)
2. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low 7-8 hours.
3. Serve with grilled cheese sandwiches. Yum!!!

Baked Chicken

Tuesday night was a food disaster! I attempted to try lasagna in the crockpot...ugh! Now, you have to understand that I make a mean lasagna, so I was really stepping out on a limb to try something new. Note to self: Cook "real" lasagna using mom's old recipe even if it takes two hours on a Sunday afternoon!!!
Fortunately, Wednesday's dinner was delicious! This is the easiest recipe for baked chicken. It requires practically no prep. I did laundry, cleaned two bathrooms, and helped with a school project while it cooked!
2 or 3 large bone-in chicken breasts (My family of four can make a meal of just 2!)
1 bottle of Italian dressing
Tony Chachere's seasoning
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Place chicken breasts in a baking dish.
3. Sprinkle with Tony's seasoning.
4. Coat liberally with Italian dressing. (I use almost 2/3 of the bottle.)
5. Bake for 55 minutes or until juices run clear.
That's it! We ate our chicken with Margaret Holmes seasoned mixed greens, Glory seasoned string beans w/potatoes, and creamed corn. Yum!!!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Quick and Easy Chili

This recipe adds extra flavor to McCormick's Chili Mix. It can easily be doubled for a crowd!
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 small onion, chopped (I use Pictsweet chopped onions to save time.)
1 can kidney or pinto beans
2 cans tomato sauce
1 pkg. McCormick's Chili Mix (To add extra heat, use "Hot" chili mix.)
1 can Original Rotel
2 cups water
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
Optional: sour cream, cheddar cheese, green onions
1. Brown ground meat, onion, chili and garlic powders. Drain.
2. Add beans, tomato sauce, chili mix, Rotel tomatoes, and water.
3. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Simmer for 30 minutes.
4. Garnish with sour cream, cheddar cheese, and green onions if desired.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Shepherd's Pie

Whew! What a busy evening! My 6th grader was inducted into the Junior Beta Club tonight, so I had to be smart about our dinner plans. I prepped this meal in about 10 minutes before we left for the ceremony, then assembled it and threw it in the oven when we got home a few minutes ago. It will bake for 20 minutes, and we'll be ready to eat! Some people add mixed vegetables to their shepherd's pie, but we like ours plain and simple. I've been excited about the feedback that I've gotten about my recipes. I ran into several people this week who have already tried some of them! Hope you enjoy this one...
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 large chopped onion
(I use Pictsweet frozen chopped onions to save prep time.)
8 servings instant mashed potatoes
shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 can beef broth
salt and pepper
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Brown ground beef and onion. Season with salt and pepper. (I use the leanest ground beef you can buy, so it doesn't even have to be drained. Of course, you'll have to drain it if it's a fattier ground beef.)
3. Pour half a can of beef broth into the beef and onions.
4. While beef is browning, make 8 servings of instant mashed potatoes.**
5. Pour beef mixture into bottom of baking dish. Layer mashed potatoes on top of beef and follow with a generous helping of shredded cheddar cheese.
6. Bake on 350 for 20 minutes or until cheese is bubbly.
**Real mashed potatoes are certainly better when you have time, but Hungry Jack instant mashed potatoes are tasty and convenient.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Beef Enchilada Casserole

This recipe is one I adapted from a Pampered Chef cookbook. An easy meal in just 30 minutes!
1 lb. lean ground beef
3 tbsp. taco seasoning
1/4 tsp. salt
1 can enchilada sauce
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup salsa
12 - 6 in. corn tortillas
1 cup cheddar cheese
green onions
sour cream (optional)
1. Brown & drain ground beef.
2. Add taco seasoning, salt, enchilada sauce, water and salsa. Bring to a simmer and remove from heat.
3. Cut tortillas into strips. (A pizza cutter works great for this step.)
4. Layer 1/2 tortillas, 1/2 beef mixture, and 1/2 cheese. Then make a second layer of all three.
5. Top with sliced green onions and bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until cheese is bubbly.
6. Garnish with sour cream if desired.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sunday Dinner - Pork Chops and Gravy

Well, it's been a busy week, but we still managed to have great meals all week long! Wednesday's chicken spaghetti was delicious. Thursday night we had football practice, so I came up with a super easy meal. After school, we came home to change clothes before heading to practice, and I put a bag of frozen Italian meatballs and a can of Hunt's Zesty and Spicy spaghetti sauce in the crockpot on high. When we arrived home 3 hours later, we made yummy meatball subs! Simply put meatballs on sub rolls, add sliced swiss cheese, and heat in toaster oven. Between the chicken spaghetti and the meatballs, we had enough leftovers for the next day!
Here's a great recipe for Sunday dinner. Put it in the crockpot before you head to church, and come home to a home-cooked meal!
4-6 center cut boneless porkchops
1 pkg. onion soup mix
1 can chicken broth
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 pkg. dry pork gravy mix
1. Place porkchops in bottom of large crockpot. Don't forget your Reynold's Slow Cooker liners for easy clean-up.
2. In mixing bowl, combine other ingredients. Pour over porkchops.
3. Cook on low for 7-8 hours or hgh for 3-4 hours.
4. Serve over instant brown rice.
5. Side dishes: We like Margaret Holmes canned vegetables. The seasoned cabbage and seasoned squash are our favorites. You can find these at Walmart or Dollar General Store, where they are only $1 per can. (Yes, I know fresh or frozen vegetables are healthier, but these are so yummy that my kids will actually eat them. Plus, these recipes are all about convenient home-cooked meals on a budget. They are certainly healthier than eating McDonald's every day.)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Baked Chicken Spaghetti

Unlike most nights, we were home this evening with no obligations! The boys enjoyed the beautiful weather by playing outside, and I decided to spend some time in the kitchen cooking a yummy dinner of baked chicken spaghetti. However, the power went out when my chicken was half-boiled, and I was afraid we would be eating Burger King tonight. Fortunately, dinner was saved by the good guys at Coast Electric. This easy recipe is one that my sister gave me several years ago, and it's one of our favorites!
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 12-oz pkg. of whole wheat spaghetti
1 chopped bell pepper
1 chopped onion
(I use Pictsweet Chopped Onions and Bell Peppers to save prep time.)
1 can Rotel tomatoes
1 small block Velveeta, cubed
Optional: 1 can mushrooms and/or 1 can sliced black olives
1. Dice chicken. Boil and remove from water. Save broth to boil spaghetti.
2. While chicken is boiling, saute onions, bell pepper, and Rotel in butter.
3. Cook spaghetti in chicken broth. Drain.
4. Return spaghetti to pot. Add cubed Velveeta to pasta and stir.
5. Add chicken and vegetables (mushrooms & black olives optional). Stir.
6. Pour into large casserole dish and bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes until cheese is melted.
This recipe can easily be doubled. Bake one pan now, and freeze the other for later. Thaw and bake on 350 for 25-30 minutes until heated through.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Creamy Italian Chicken

This recipe is incredibly easy to prepare and sure to be a big hit with your family. I fixed this dish for dinner one evening last week, and we ate every bit of it!
2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 pkg. Good Seasons Italian Dressing
1 large can cream of chicken soup
1 block of cream cheese
instant brown rice
1. Place chicken breasts in the bottom of large slow cooker. (Don't forget your Reynold's Slow Cooker Liner for easy clean-up.)
2. Mix dressing and soup. Pour over chicken.
3. Cook on low 7-8 hours.
4. One hour before serving, add cream cheese (cubed). Stir occasionally until cheese melts.
5. Serve over cooked instant brown rice.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Baked Ziti Pasta

Well, Monday's chicken quesidillas were a huge hit at my house! I added a packet of fajita seasoning mix and 1/3 cup of water to the chicken and Rotel when I put them in the crockpot that morning. The flavor was delicious!
Today's recipe is a super easy one that my friend Jenny shared with me several years ago. My kids love it! It is also easy to prepare this one in bulk and freeze pans for later.
1 can Hunt's Zesty and Spicy spaghetti sauce
1 lb. lean ground beef
10 or 12 oz. package ziti pasta
shredded mozzerella cheese
parmesan cheese
1. Brown & drain ground meat.
2. Add can of spaghetti sauce and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
3. While meat sauce is simmering, boil ziti according to directions. Drain.
4. Mix ziti and meat sauce and pour into casserole dish.
5. Layer mozzerella and parmesan on top.
6. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes, until cheese is bubbly.
7. Serve with salad and garlic bread.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Chicken Quesidillas

For this recipe as well as many of my others, you need a large slow cooker. I also suggest buying Reynolds Slow Cooker Liners. You can find them at Walmart near the Ziploc bags. They come in packs of four and are pretty inexpensive. These save you time in clean-up.
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts*
2 cans original Rotel tomatoes
1 pkg. fajita seasoning mix
shredded cheddar or Mexican-blend cheese
6 medium whole wheat tortillas
sour cream
guacamole dip
1 can refried beans
1 bag Spanish rice mix
*Don't use the frozen chicken breasts that come in a bag. I buy a large family pack of fresh chicken breasts when they are on sale and freeze them in two's in Ziploc bags. The pre-frozen ones are full of water. They cook down to nothing. The fresh ones are better!
1. Place chicken breasts in bottom of crockpot. 
2. Cover with two cans of Rotel.
3. Mix fajita seasoning with water as directed on package.  Pour over chicken.
4. Cook on low for 7-8 hours.
5. When you arrive home, shred chicken into pieces and stir so the chicken is completely coated with the Rotel tomatoes.
6. Heat a griddle or large non-stick skillet on medium. Place a tortilla shell on griddle or skillet. Fill tortilla halfway with chicken mixture. Sprinkle with cheese.
7. Fold tortilla in half and grill on both sides.
8. Continue with remaining tortilla shells.
9. Serve with cooked Spanish rice and refried beans. (Follow directions on package.)
10. Add sour cream, salsa, and guacamole as garnishes if desired.