Saturday, February 28, 2009

Green Bean Casserole

I have seen green bean casserole at every holiday meal on my Dad's side of the family for as long as I can remember, and until October '07, I had no idea that I LOVED it. My sister-in-law brought it to a family dinner, and I was watching her make it. I thought, I would probably like that, I'm going to finally try it. I think I had 3 helpings that night. Oh, man!!! I love this stuff. Then, at Thanksgiving that year, my mother-in-law made a version of it that is her mother-in-laws recipe. I just love getting family recipes from my husbands' side of the family, and since I had a new found love of green bean casserole- I was so excited!! I know, it doesn't take much...

Granny's Green Bean Casserole
*multiply by 2 to serve 3 adults or more, or by 4 for a large group

1 can cut green beans, drained
1 can cream of chicken and mushroom soup (I doubled mine, and used one can of cream of chicken, and one can of cream of mushroom)
1/2 soup can of milk
8 saltine crackers, crushed
1 Tbsp. dry Italian dressing (Granny used Good Seasons brand. I did not have this, so I used Mrs. Dash garlic and herb seasoning blend)
1 can french fried onions, divided

Mix all ingredients, saving half of the onions.
This is the beans, soups, and milk. Don't forget to season with some salt and pepper.
I mixed that together, and then added in the 1/2 can on onions,
crushed saltines, and Mrs. Dash seasoning.Mix well. Pour rest of the onions on top. Bake for 30 minutes for a smaller batch, or 45-1 hour for the larger batches.

Butter and Jam Thumbprints

I really love these cookies. I love fruity flavors, though. My mom has a rule- no hot fruit. No fruit with meat, either. I do not follow these rules. Bring on the pineapple ham! Bring on the cherries jubilee! Bring on the apple pancakes!! So, these buttery lovelies are right up my alley.

Butter and Jam Thumbprints
recipe from Food Network Kitchens

1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened
2/3 cup sugar, plus more for rolling
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 cup raspberry, cherry or strawberry jam

Preheat oven to 350. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone sheets.

Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, mix the butter and sugar until fluffy, for a few minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Slowly beat in the dry ingredients in 2 additions.
Scoop the dough into 1 inch balls (I use my tablespoon) with a scoop or spoon

and roll in sugar.
Place on the baking sheets. Press your thumb down in the center of the cookie. Make an indent, but don't go all the way through the cookie. Then, your jam will fall out when you try to pick up the cookie.
Trust me, not fun.

Fill indent with about a 3/4 teaspoon of jam.

Bake for 15 minutes, until edges are golden. It says to cool them on the baking sheets, but I only leave them there for a minute and then move them to a cooling rack, the cookies keep cooking on the baking sheet and got to crunchy for me. The first batch I made that were removed from the baking sheet were soft and chewy. These cookies are easy, and oh-so yummy. I have only tried the raspberry, and it was just so perfect, I am going to have a hard time getting another flavor of jam. I would like to try blackberry, though.
Hope you have a restful Saturday!! I am off to the store. The menu has been written, the list has been made and the coupons have been compiled.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Kicked up Baked Beans

I remember seeing Paula Deen make these beans on an episode of her show a few years ago. Someone had sent in the recipe to her, and said these were the beans they always brought to get-togethers, and now they weren't allowed NOT to bring them. When I was watching her put all this mess into the beans, I thought, "No way. That is too much mess- those are just weird." Well, fast forward a year or two, and I stumble upon this recipe. My husband LOVES baked beans, and I definitely prefer them to ranch style or pinto. Looking at it this time, it sounds yummy. So, I try it- and now, I am not allowed to make any other baked bean than this one.
If any part of you thinks that this sounds good, please try it. The flavors really go well together, and they are a great side dish.

Sue and Gloria's Baked Beans
*as seen on Paula's Home Cooking
4 (16-ounce) cans baked beans
1 (20-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup molasses
1 cup BBQ sauce
2 Tbsp. yellow or brown mustard
5 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
1 (6-ounce) can french-fried onions, crushed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
I halved my recipe. I just pour everything into the pan and mix it in there. One less bowl to clean!! I used a square 8x8 pan for a halved recipe.
Mix together everything, SAVE 2/3 can of onions. Season with salt and pepper.
Sprinkle the rest of the onions on top of the beans. Cook in oven for 1 hour,
or until beans are brown and bubbly.

Homemade Pizza Dough

This is a recipe my mom has been using for 10+ years, and it always turns out. It is, in my opinion, very easy and can be made ahead and refrigerated or even frozen. One recipe of the dough makes 2 medium size pizzas, or 3 individual pizzas.

Homemade Pizza Dough
1 package rapid rise yeast
1/2 cup warm water
2 Tbsp. sugar
3 cups flour
3 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. salt (I like to add more)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
*1/2 cup water (you can add this if needed)

Pour 1/2 cup of warm water in measuring cup. Add yeast packet and sugar.
Stir and set aside. It needs a good 5 minutes to activate the yeast, and start foaming.
Meanwhile, add flour, parmesan, and salt to mixing bowl and make sure you
have your dough hook attachment on there.
When yeast is foaming, add to the flour mixture. Add olive oil as well.
This is the only thing you need to be sure of to get the dough to come out right. KEEP MIXING!! I used to just mix for a minute or so and be so upset, because my dough wasn't together. Well, no!! It needs a few minutes for the dough to come together, not 45 seconds...
As you can see, the dough has come together. See? All you needed was a little patience. It happened on accident for me. I kept it mixing while I was getting the bowl ready for the next step, and came back to the mixing bowl to see that it had finally come together!!! I had an a-ha moment. A-ha! I have to leave the dough alone, and it will come together.
Take the dough out and put in an aluminum bowl that you have greased with olive oil. Wet a towel with warm water and place over the bowl. Set in a warm place (I take it to my laundry room) and let rise (for at least an hour).The dough has risen (compare with picture above).
Set it on a floured surface and cut into 2 or 3 sections. You can wrap and refrigerate each section and it will rise more in the refrigerator. However, you can also roll out the dough without that and it will be fine. I roll mine with a roller, but I also stretch it over my hands, and pull it to really get it stretched out.
Bake at 375 for about 10 minutes. I use my simple tomato sauce as the pizza sauce, and then add cheese and whatever ingredients we want that night. When my sister makes this dough, she adds dried herbs to the flour to make an herbed dough. It's really good!! I also brush olive oil on the crust. It gets rid of the dry, flour-y taste and gives a pretty color, too.

Baked Rigatoni with Bechamel

Another pasta dish from Giada that my husband and I just love. The pasta is mixed with a creamy sauce and then baked. It comes together easily, and you could make ahead and bake when ready. Gotta love that!!

Baked Rigatoni with Bechamel

Bechamel Sauce
5 Tbsp. butter
1/2 c all-purpose flour
4 cups warm milk
1/2 tsp. salt
pinch of ground pepper
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (I didn't have any fresh, just used ground nutmeg)

1 tsp. olive oil
4 cups Bechamel sauce
1/2 pound thinly sliced prosciutto
1 cup freshly grated fontina cheese
1/2 tsp. salt, and pinch of pepper
1 pound dried rigatoni
3 Tbsp. butter, diced

Heat the oven to 425. Lightly coat a 13x9 glass baking dish with the oil.

For Bechamel sauce:
Melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour

Whisk until smooth, about 2 minutes
Gradually add the warm milk, whisking constantly
Simmer over medium heat, until sauce is thick and creamy, about 10 minutes
Remove from heat, and stir in salt, pepper and nutmeg
For recipe:
Heat bechamel sauce over medium heat. Do not boil. Stir in the prosciutto, 1/2 cup of the fontina cheese, salt and pepper. Set the sauce aside.
Cook the rigatoni until almost tender, but still firm. The pasta will keep cooking in the oven, so it doesn't have to be done all the way. Drain the pasta, return to pot, and stir in cheese sauce. Season with salt and pepper, if you like.
*I added some sausage because I happened to have some leftover. I won't do it again, but feel free to substitute prosciutto or add more meats.
Spoon the pasta mixture into the dish, then sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup fontina cheese and dot with the butter. (Can be prepared up to this point up to 8 hours ahead, and refrigerated). Bake the pasta until the top is golden, about 25 minutes.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Taco Soup


I overheard a friend of mine saying, We're having taco soup tonight. Mmmm, I thought. Taco soup. Sounds interesting. Now, I have NO idea what is the deal with soup attraction recently, but I asked her what she put in her taco soup.
This is her taco soup:
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 package taco seasoning
one can kidney beans (with juice)
one can corn (with juice)
one can Rotel (with juice)
one can V8

I thought it sounded interesting, and waited for a cool night to make the soup. It has been ridiculously warm here recently.

My taco soup:
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 package taco seasoning
one can condensed tomato soup, and one canful of water
one can hominy
one can Rotel
*I would have added pinto beans, but I didn't have any*
chicken broth
rice (just stay with me)

Brown the beef with the taco seasoning
Pour hominy (with most of the juice), Rotel (not drained), tomato soup,
one canful of water in soup pot. Turn on medium low.
Drain beef and add to soup.
I served my kids a small bowl of this soup, as well as a side of white rice. My daughter added some of her rice to the soup, and I thought, Mmmm- that's actually a good idea!! So, I added rice to my bowl, and poured the soup over it. I really enjoyed this soup, even more than I thought I would. And you can see how easy it was!!

Happy Valentine's Day, friends!! Are you cooking or going out? My sweet hubby's taking me out, and my kids are having a sleepover at my sweet parents'. Whoo-hoo!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Pasta with Mini Chicken Meatballs

I have been looking forward to making this dish again, so I could share it here. It is a great, one-meal dish that is simply delicious. It calls for several ingredients that are just for this meal, and that doesn't help my grocery budget, but we really enjoy this meal and it reheats great, so my husband gets some lunches out of the leftovers.

*from Giada's Kitchen cookbook*
Orecchiette with Mini Chicken Meatballs
1 l.b orecchiette pasta (I used medium shells)
1/4 c plain bread crumbs
1/4 c chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 Tbsp. whole milk
1 Tbsp. ketchup
3/4 c freshly grated Romano cheese (I used Parmesan)
3/4 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. black pepper
1 lb. ground chicken (I used ground turkey)
1/4 c olive oil
1 1/2 c chicken broth
4 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
8 ounces bocconcini (small mozzarella balls), halved
1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

Boil the pasta according to the instructions. Set aside

In a medium bowl, stir together the bread crumbs, parsley, eggs, milk, ketchup,
Romano cheese, salt, and pepper. Add the ground meat and combine well.
Scoop up the mixture, I used a tablespoon, and roll into small meatballs.
Cook the meatballs in olive oil in a skillet on medium- high heat.
Cook for 2 minutes, then turn the meatballs, and cook 2-3 minutes longer.
Add the tomatoes and chicken broth, bring to a boil. Using a wooden spoon, scrape all the bits on the bottom of the pan (yum!)
Reduce the heat, and simmer until the tomatoes are soft and the meatballs are cooked through, about 5 minutes.
Drain the pasta and transfer to a large serving bowl, add 1/2 c of parmesan and toss to coat.Add the meatball and tomatoes,

then add the mozzarella and 1/2 c of the basil. CombineTop with rest of parmesan and basil leaves. Serve immediately

I hope you try this! This is a really fresh tasting dish, thanks to all the fresh herbs and mozzarella. I really like the how the heat of the pasta and meatballs melts the mozzarella and you get strings of mozzarella when you pull a bite away with your fork. YUM!!!