Week Night Lasagna

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The in-laws were coming to visit, and I really didn’t want to cook anything too elaborate.  I have to admit- we were in a rut.  Sure, there are literally thousands of recipes on Pinterest, all recipes, etc. but I just wasn’t in the mood to cook.  I had to grab some cheese sticks for the littles when inspiration struck in the refrigerated section of the grocery store!!  I saw the package of three cheese ravioli in the “family pack”, and I knew what was for dinner.

It only took a few minutes to assemble and was ready to pop in the oven as soon as it reached temperature.  A half an hour later, dinner was done.  And even better than that- dinner was GOOD!  There was just enough left over for my husband and I to take to work for lunch the next day.  Sweet!!

WEEKNIGHT LASAGNA

  • 1 lb ground beef, turkey, or Italian sausage
  • 20 to 24 oz. package refrigerated cheese ravioli
  • 12 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 24 oz. pasta sauce
  • 2-3 Tbsp freshly grated Parmesan (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 400*F.
  2. Brown and crumble meat in a skillet over medium high heat.  Drain well.  HINT: this can be done a day ahead.  Just put it in an airtight container and store in the fridge until you’re ready to cook!
  3. Spray an 8″x8″ pan with cooking spray, then spread about 3 Tbsp sauce on the bottom.  Layer ingredients (ravioli, meat, sauce, cheese), and repeat layers.  Sprinkle grated Parmesan on top, if desired.
  4. Bake in center rack of oven until cooked through.  Sauce should be bubbly, and cheese layer nicely browned at the edges, about 30 minutes.  Let stand about 5 minutes (10 is even better), then dig in!

Veggie Corn Dog Mini Muffins


Toddlers are funny little people.  One minute, they’re begging for broccoli and just when you set their plate in front of them, THEN they ask for cake.  My little miss LOVES cupcakes.  She calls them pancakes, but I know what she means.  My little mister LOVES ketchup and will dip anything in it- even apples.  And he loves hot dogs.  They also have days where they eat hardly anything, and days I’d swear they had hollow legs!  Well, today they ate four of these mini muffins, each.  And that’s a LOT for a little tummy.  They both said, “yum!” and little miss even said the ‘pancakes’ were ‘so pretty’.  She’s got good taste!

This recipe is easy to pull together, takes literally 5 minutes to assemble, and tastes great to boot!  I hope you love them as much as we did.  They also freeze very well!  Perfect for those crazy week nights!

Veggie Corn Dog Mini Muffins

  • corn bread muffin mix that makes 6 regular sized muffins (I used Marie Callendar’s)
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup finely shredded carrots
  • 1/4 cup finely shredded zucchini
  • 2 hot dogs, chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Lightly spray 20 of the cups in your mini muffin pan.
  2. Make corn bread according to package directions, using milk, egg and butter.
  3. Place shredded veggies in a clean towel or paper towel and twist/squeeze to get some water out.  Stir into corn bread batter.
  4. Dollop about 1 tsp batter into each of the 20 greased cups.  Use your clean finger or spoon to even it out in the cup.
  5. Add about 1 tsp chopped hot dog on top of the batter, then top that with another tsp of batter.  If you have some left over, just distribute it among the cups.  Use your clean finger or a spoon to make sure the hot dogs are covered with batter.
  6. Place in preheated oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until sides are golden brown.  
  7. Let cool about 5 minutes, then remove from pan to a cooling rack.  Serve warm with ketchup and/or mustard.
  8. To freeze, let cool to room temperature, then place in a zip top bag and remove as much air as possible.  Freeze for up to 3 months.  Reheat by baking on a foil lined and lightly greased tray at 400 for about 10 minutes.

These would be great chili toppers, too!!

Ham Hocks and Beans

  
Just because I can see the sun doesn’t mean I can feel it.  It’s that time of year!  Well, if it can’t be warm and toasty outside, I can get warm and toasty inside.

This is the kind of soup/stew that puts a fire in your belly.  Not the kind that has you reaching for the Tums, but the kind that warms from your belly to your toes.  The kind that makes me want to sit back, sigh with contentment, and get out a good book.  Or, more realistically, gives me the energy to chase around two toddlers.  

Wishing you warmth and a full belly!

Ham Hocks and Beans

  • 1 lb pinto beans, rinsed well and picked over
  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped (I used red)
  • 2 jalapeños, cut in half lengthwise 
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • Chicken stock (or water)
  • 3 smoked ham hocks
  • 1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Place rinsed beans in a large bowl or pot and fill with water until it’s about 1 inch above the beans.  Let sit at least overnight.
  2. The next day, drain the beans and set aside.
  3. Add oil, onion, celery, and peppers to a large pot and cook, stirring often, until veggies are translucent (about 5 mins).  Add cumin, baking soda, and enough chicken stock to cover the beans by about an inch.  Nestle in the ham hocks, and bring to a low simmer. 
  4. Cook low and slow, stirring every so often, until beans are soft.  This will take a couple of hours, so add chicken stock as needed.
  5. Once beans are soft, discard jalapeños, and set ham hocks to the side to cool.  Stir in tomatoes and shredded carrot.
  6. Once cool enough to handle, remove meat from the ham hocks and return the meat to the pot.  Cook an additional 10 minutes or until the carrot is soft.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Enjoy with a glass of wine and a good crusty bread.  Cheers!

The Secret to Awesome Grilled Cheese

  
Really- who doesn’t love a good grilled cheese sandwich? If you know someone, you should disown them.  You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life!  

This isn’t a recipe, really.  But it is a method.  A delicious, crispy, melty method.  One that takes a good grilled sandwich and makes it awesome.  

Hope you love this method as much as we do!

The Method

1. Gather ingredients.  Good bread, real butter, and your favorite melty cheese- cheddar, Swiss, Gouda, whatever.  And… Grated Parmesan. Not the stuff from the green can.  The GOOD stuff.

2. You know the drill- butter bread, put cheese between the two slices (butter side out) and grill until golden.  BUT WAIT! Before you put the butter side to the pan, sprinkle it with 1/2 to 1 tsp grated Parmesan. Grill slow and low until golden brown outside and melty inside.

3.  Please let it cool a bit before biting into your awesome grilled cheese.  Burned taste buds are duds!

Taco tip

  
Talk about a short post!  When making hard-shelled tacos, you don’t need a fancy plate or those flat bottomed shells.  All you need is a clip.  We have tacos just about every week because they’re so quick and easy.  Enjoy!

Caramel Apple Salad

  
This is a whole bowl of YUM!  Seriously, what’s better in the fall than a caramel apple?  When you’re finally sick of all the pumpkin stuff…

Plus, this salad has candy in it.  It’s a CANDY salad.  What the wha???

Caramel Apple Salad

  • 5-6 apples, cored, peeled and chopped (I used a combo of Granny Smith and gala)
  • 1 bag fun size snickers bars (about 25 fun sized bars, cut into quarters) – could also use Milky Way if you’re avoiding peanuts
  • 1 container cool whip
  • Caramel ice cream topping
  • 1/2 cup Chopped peanuts (optional)
  1. Place chopped apples, chopped candy bars, and cool whip in a large bowl.  Mix well.
  2. Drizzle with caramel sauce and top with nuts.  

Enjoy!  

Pumpkin Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

PumpkinOatmealBreakfastBars

It’s that time of year – the weather is starting to cool down (then warms up again just when you think it’s time to pull out the sweaters).  Around this time of year, I start thinking, dreaming, of the leaves turning.  I joyfully browse the Oriental Trading Co. catalog for Halloween goodies, and get excited to see pumpkin everything!

Yes, I am one of those people who could drink a PSL (pumpkin spice latte) year round, but don’t.  Because that is something to look forward to.  Fall is my favorite season.  I love making warm soup, baking fresh bread, and experimenting with fall recipes.

I ran across a recipe from Modern Parents Messy Kids for Super Powered Oatmeal Bars.  While my kids can down an entire banana in about 30 seconds (which is pretty impressive when you only have 7 teeth), I am not much of a banana fan.  So, I decided to modify the recipe to replace bananas with pumpkin.  I also added pumpkin pie spice, a drizzle of molasses, and chocolate.  Well, pumpkin chocolate chip cookies are one of the BEST.  And breakfast can’t be too healthy all the time.  Plus, chocolate comes from a bean so its basically a vegetable anyway.  Right?

The bars made from this recipe are dense, soft and chewy.  Plus, they really fill you up, and you can eat them on the go!

Hope you are looking forward to the fall season.  🙂

Pumpkin Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

  • 1 large can (29 oz.) pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie mix)
  • 3 cups milk
  • 2 Tbsp almond butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch salt
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp molasses
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup raisins or craisins
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 2 cups steel cut oats
  • 1/2 cup flax seeds, ground
  • 1/2 cup chia seeds
  • 2 cups chocolate chips (optional)
  • 2 cups pecans (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Line 2 – 9″x13″ pans with parchment paper.  Set aside.
  2. Place all ingredients in a large bowl and stir until well mixed.
  3. Divide mixture in half, and place half in each pan.  Smooth into an even layer with a rubber spatula.
  4. Bake 45-50 minutes, or until the middle is done (check with a toothpick to make sure it isn’t too goopy).
  5. Lift the bars out by the parchment, and let cool completely.  Cut each  pan into 18-20 bars.  Wrap each in plastic wrap, then in a ziptop freezer bag, and freeze, if desired.