Monday, February 21, 2011

Baked Spinach & Cheese Noodles

I didn't get to make most of the menu items last week because I was hit HARD by that stupid stomach virus. I think I ate more crackers last week than I have in my entire life. Unfortunately, me having a stomach bug meant that Dave & the toddler were on their own for dinner from Saturday through Wednesday.
Then Thursday was beautiful so we made burgers on the grill & Friday cooked steaks on the grill along with some veggies marinaded & grilled. MMMMM
Saturday night we made an amazing dish though. Baked Spinach & Cheese Noodles. This was absolutely incredible. Even the picky toddler LOVED it & kept signing more when his plate was empty!
I would definitely make a few changes to this recipe. I think it needs some diced onion and some garlic. Chicken would be a great add also if you're looking for something with a little meat. Otherwise, it was FABULOUS!! I will absolutely make this one again.


2 T butter
1/3 cup flour
2 1/2 cups milk
1/2 t pepper
1 t kosher salt
3 T Dijon mustard
15 oz ricotta cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
10 oz package of frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 chopped red pepper
16 oz package of un-cooked noodles

The Directions.

I made a roux with the butter and flour, and then added the milk, the container of ricotta cheese and stirred in the spinach, red pepper, and spices. Oh! Use a big pot, so you don't have to transfer halfway through the way that I might have needed to do. And then you won't drop slimy spinach on the floor...

Spray the inside of your slowcooker with cooking spray and dump in a package of uncooked pasta noodles. Turn on your slowcooker so you won't "shock it" when you stir your cheese and spinach mixture into the noodles. Slowcooker stoneware shouldn't change temperatures rapidly.

Top with 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Loose Meat Sandwiches

This was the first recipe from A Year of Slow Cooking that I wasn't impressed with. They sounded INCREDIBLE to me with all the tang from the mustard and the vinegar but honestly, I thought they needed something more.

The husband on the other hand LOVED them. He had 3 sandwiches.


1 pound extra lean ground beef or turkey (the lean is more imp. than the type)
1 onion, finely diced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 cups beef broth
8 hamburger buns (I used gluten free bread, toasted)
traditional hamburger fixen's (pickles, tomatoes, lettuce, mustard, etc)

The Directions.

Use a 6-quart slow cooker. Crumble in the ground meat (it needs to be thawed, or it'll cook in a big clump). Add onion, sugar, spices, mustard, and vinegar. Pour in the beef broth. Mix well until everything is fully incorporated---you may want to use your hands. Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours. Stir well before serving by scooping with a slotted spoons onto hamburger buns. Top with your desired fixings.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Down to Earth Granola

This is a recipe that my new friend Kathy shared with me on Friday. She said it's the healthiest and definitely the best granola she's ever tasted. I knew I'd have to try it :-)

The thing about granola is that you can come up with your own variations. This time I kept it simple with just some dried cranberries, but next time, I have some awesome ideas to add.

I can't wait to top some yogurt or vanilla ice cream with this granola. The smell all through my house is absolutely incredible. Enjoy :)

Preheat oven to 350 deg F.

In a large bowl, mix together the following:

4 cups old fashioned Mothers Oats (traditional Quaker oatmeal)

1 ½ cups sliced almonds

1 ½ cups packed brown sugar

½ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp salt

In a bowl, warm ¼ cup oil (You can sub applesauce for the oil if you'd like), ¼ cup honey, and 1 tsp vanilla – Mix with a wire wisk.

Carefully pour liquid mixture over the oat mixture, stirring well with a wooden spoon.

Spread in a 10 x 15 pan. (I use a cookie sheet with a “lip” on it.)

The original recipe calls for a bake time of 40 minutes; I tried this the first time I made the recipe and it was completely burnt. Now, I only bake for 20 minutes. Basically, I bake it until it begins to turns darker. Once you see the color changing, take it out right away, because it will burn quickly due to the sugar. It is also important to stir every 5-8 minutes to make sure it doesn’t burn.

After removing from oven, add 1 ½ cup raisins or dried fruit of your choice.

Let cool (the granola will harden as it cools…) and then store in Ziploc bag in refrigerator or freezer.

Makes 9 cups.

(The amount of sugar can be cut in half also, I left it at 1 1/2c because I like a sweeter granola)

Chili Cheese Dog Casserol

Aaaah, Chili Cheese Dogs. One of my favorite foods to eat in the summer time. When I saw this recipe on A Taste of Home, I knew I had to try it. Who doesn't love all the yummy goodness of summertime wrapped up in the comfort of a casserole in the middle of winter & subzero temperatures?

This was a HUGE hit with all 3 of us. Even the baby had seconds & had a little more for lunch the next day!!

I actually made a couple changes which are in blue.

  • 1 package (8-1/2 ounces) corn bread/muffin mix I actually used 2 mixes, one on the top and one on the bottom of the casserole
  • 1 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 package (1 pound) hot dogs, halved lengthwise and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 can (15 ounces) chili with beans
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese, divided I always use waaay more cheese


  • Prepare corn bread batter according to package directions. Spread half the batter into a greased 8-in. square baking dish; set aside.
  • In a large skillet, saute the green pepper, onion and celery in oil until crisp-tender. Stir in hot dogs; saute 3-4 minutes longer or until lightly browned. Stir in the chili, brown sugar, garlic powder and chili powder; heat through. Stir in 3/4 cup cheese. Spoon over prepared corn bread. Spread remaining batter onto hot dog mixture. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
  • Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 28-32 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Yield: 6 servings.

Friday, February 11, 2011


I need to start getting back in the habit of making a menu. Hubby and I just started a very strict budget that allows for minimal grocery spending per week & a once a month "BIG TRIP" to Sam's for things like soap, detergent, paper towels, toilet paper etc.

I try to buy what I can in bulk but also what's cheapest per piece or per pound...then buying what I need to buy fresh each week for our meals.

This coming week looks like this:

Tomato & Spinach Pasta Toss
Cream Cheese Chicken
Taco Salad
Baked Spinach & Cheese
Mediterranean chicken
Probably take out once & left overs at least once :)

Oh, and I'm making this amazing Granola recipe this week that my friend Kathy gave me. I can't wait :) It's suuuuper healthy & sounds delicious!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Chicken Parmesan

I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical of this one but honestly, it was AMAZING. The smell in the house all day was incredible. I literally could NOT wait until the husband came home to sample some. The chicken was SO tender that it fell apart when I tried to "stab" it with a fork.

The only change I would make would be to use panko bread crumbs next time & use some garlic and a little salt.

The Ingredients:

--2-4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
--1/2 cup bread crumbs
--1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
--1/2 t Italian Seasoning
--1/4 t black pepper
--1/4 t kosher salt
--1 T olive oil
--1 beaten egg
--sliced mozzarella cheese (i used shredded bc that's what I had)
--favorite jarred marinara sauce

The Directions:

--spread the 1 T of olive oil into the bottom of your crockpot stoneware insert
--whip the egg with a fork in a separate bowl
--mix the bread crumbs with the seasonings and the parmesan cheese in another separate dish
--dip the chicken into the egg, then into the bread crumb mixture, coating both sides with crumbs, cheese and seasonings
--place the chicken breast pieces in the bottom of the crock
--layer 2-3 slices of mozzarella cheese on top
--cover with entire jar of marinara sauce
--close lid and cook on low for 6-7 hours or high for 3-4. If your chicken is still frozen, it will take longer.

Veggie Pizza

Veggie pizza will forever remind me of my loving Grandmother. She makes it for EVERYTHING because she knows how much I love it. & honestly, I could eat it for 3 meals a day plus snacks & never think twice about it. There's just something about the savory crescent roll crust and the creamy cream cheese "sauce."

This was the first time I followed a "recipe" for it. Grandma's was a brick of cream cheese mixed with dry ranch or Italian dressing & veggies on top. This is a little more detailed. Both are amazing though.


-1 8-ounce package crescent rolls
-1 8-ounce package low-fat cream cheese, softened
-½ cup low-fat mayonnaise
-½ envelope ranch dressing mix
-Assorted raw vegetables, chopped (tomatoes, broccoli, red onions, celery, carrots, cauliflower, green and/or red peppers--You can do all, some or your own variation)
-½ to ¾ cup shredded mozzarella or cheddar cheese


Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Spread crescent rolls out onto a baking sheet or a pizza pan. Crimp seams together. Bake 8 – 10 minutes. Leave on pan until cool.

In a small mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, mayonnaise, and ranch dressing – mix well. Spread over cooled crust. Top with assorted vegetables. Sprinkle cheese over top. Chill 1 – 2 hours before serving. Cut into bars and serve.

Jalapeno Popper Dip

At the end of January, I hosted a baby shower for my best friend Maggie. I was searching for some "non traditional" baby shower foods because really, who doesn't like something a little less traditional every now and again? I came across this Jalapeno Popper Dip recipes on Annie's Eats blog & I knew I had to use it. It was simple and tasty, everything I look for in a recipe :-)

2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup mayonnaise
1 (4 oz.) can chopped green chiles, drained
1 (4 oz.) can diced jalapeƱo peppers, drained
½ cup shredded Mexican style cheese
½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 375˚ F. In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese, mayonnaise, green chiles, jalapeƱos, and shredded cheeses. Mix thoroughly with a spoon or spatula until smooth and evenly combined. Spread the mixture into a baking dish (approximately 9 x 9-inches).

In a second bowl, combine the Panko and Parmesan and stir with a fork until combined. Sprinkle over the cream cheese mixture in the baking dish. Spray lightly with cooking spray. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the mixture is hot and the topping is golden. Serve warm with baguette slices, vegetables, etc. as desired.

Pork Tenderloin

A friend had given me a recipe for cooking this piece o pork that was in my freezer. Unfortunately, we had JUST gotten back from vacation & I didn't have most of the ingredients it called I played around with it and boy was the finished product AMAZING!!


--piece of pork tenderloin (mine was about 3lbs or so)
--3 cloves of garlic--minced
--Large Onion cut in rounds
--beef bullion crystals
--soy sauce
--3/4 cup of water

1. Sprinkle enough beef bullion crystals to cover the bottom of your slow cooker & add your onions on top.
2. Place your pork in the slowcooker.
3. Sprinkle liberally with pepper.
4. Spread the minced garlic over the pepper.
5. Sprinkle with a little bit of beef bullion crystals (I did like a 1/2tsp)
6. Pour in your water.
7. Use about 5 or so "shakes" of the soy sauce bottle and cover the top of your pork.
8. Cook on low approx 8 hours or on high approximately 4-6hrs.

Friday, January 21, 2011

American Chop Suey

There's nothing better in the winter time than comfort food and to me, this American Chop Suey is the epitome of comfort food. I mean really, who doesn't LOVE a dish with ground beef, tomatoes, all kinds of other fresh veggies, noodles, and cheese? My little guy absolutely LOVES this too.

The Ingredients

1 pound lean ground beef, browned and drained
5 bacon strips, diced
1 large onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced (I used 1 green and 1 yellow pepper!)
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes --- any flavor, or plain
1 can water (empty tomato can)
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 (26-ounce) jar prepared pasta sauce
1 (16-ounce) package elbow macaroni
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

The Directions.

Use a 6-quart slow cooker. In a large skillet, brown the beef, bacon and onion all together until the meat is no longer pink. Drain well and plop into your slow cooker. Add everything else into the pot except for the pasta and cheese.
Stir to combine. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, or high for about 4. Stir in the raw pasta and cook on high for approximately 30 minutes, or until pasta is bite-tender. Serve in a wide-mouthed bowl with a handful of cheese on each serving.

Margarita Chicken

I am with out a doubt beyond addicted to the blog a year of slow cooking. In fact, I begged my brother to buy me her cookbook for Christmas--and he did. (Now I just need to go buy the 2nd edition.) 90% of her recipes are using ingredients I commonly have around my house, so I don't need to make a special trip to the store to make a healthy and well balanced dinner for my family.

This chicken recipe I have made SEVERAL times and I'm SO in love. I've used both boneless skinless breasts and thighs. Both work well.

Even Bryson enjoyed this chicken.

The Ingredients

--4-5 frozen boneless skinless chicken thighs
--1/4 cup Dijon mustard
--1/4 cup honey
--1 T soy sauce
--2 minced garlic cloves
--3 T margarita mix

The Directions.

--mix your sauce ingredients in a mixing bowl
--plop the frozen chicken in the bottom of your crockpot
--cover with the sauce (I usually double the sauce recipe so the chicken is pretty submerged in it while cooking)
--cook on low for 7-9 hours or on high for 4-5. I normally flip the chicken over half way through cooking so the other side gets nice and caramelized.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Cream Cheese Chicken

Big surprise, right? Another slowcooker dish. This one is a spin off of my favorite chicken dish--Angel chicken--although, it's MUCH healthier this way!!

The baby loved it, the husband inhaled it, and I had seconds :-)

--2 cans of cream of chicken/mushroom soup (I used one of each b/c that's what I had)
--frozen chicken--enough to feed four adults
--2 T Italian seasoning
--1/2 t celery seed
--1 T onion powder
--1 T sugar (weird, I know.)
--1/4 t black pepper
--1 t kosher salt
--2 cloves minced garlic
--block of cream cheese (to add later)

or you can make it with:
--1 can cream-of-something soup
--1/2 cup chicken broth
--frozen chicken pieces
--packet of Italian salad dressing mix
--2 cloves minced garlic
--block of cream cheese (to add later)

The Directions.

Put everything except for the cream cheese into the crockpot. Cook on low for 6 hours, or until the chicken is cooked through and begins to shred. Shred the chicken with two large forks, and mix in the block of cream cheese. Switch the crock to high and cook for another 30 minutes, or until the cream cheese is fully melted.
Serve over pasta

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Java Roast

This was AMAZING!!! I am SO addicted to the blog "A Year of Slow Cooking" that I can't help but use my slow cooker 5 times a week. (Click recipe title for the link)

I was a little skeptical with the coffee and cream cheese but seriously, it was unbelievable. Even the toddler enjoyed it :-)


--3 lb chuck roast, trimmed of fat
--3/4 cup brewed coffee
--1 yellow onion, chopped
--1 red bell pepper, chopped (I used yellow)
--8 oz sliced mushrooms
--1 t garlic powder, or 4-5 chopped cloves
--1/2 tsp salt
--1/4 black pepper
--1 T Worcestershire sauce
--3 T red wine vinegar
--4 oz cream cheese (to add at the end)

The Directions.

Use a 4 quart or larger crockpot.

I opted to not brown the meat and onions, and instead plopped everything in to the crockpot. I put the vegetables on the bottom, and then the meat.

Add the coffee, Worcestershire sauce, red wine vinegar, and spices.

Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours, or on high for 4-5. I cooked our meat on low for exactly 8 hours, and then it was on warm for another 3.

Carefully remove the meat from the pot, and stir in the cream cheese. I'd cut the cream cheese in slices and add it one at a time, if you can, to help it from separating in little white dots the way mine did. I got impatient. If you do get a bunch of little white dots, they will taste fine, but annoy you.