Category Archives: Main Dishes

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!

Weeknight Mash

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Spring has sprung in our neck of the woods.  We are experiencing a mixture of warm sunny days and cold/windy/rainy days.  When it’s cold, I like having something warm and comforting to eat.  And going outside to grill just doesn’t seem like a good idea.

On days like that, I want a comforting side dish.  The most comforting side dish I can think of is mashed potatoes.  But, I grew up in a small town in Idaho where our high school mascot is a potato.  So, if you don’t know how to make a decent mashed potato and you come from Shelley, Idaho, there is definitely something wrong.  Well, these potatoes are more than decent.  They’re delicious.  And QUICK!

The ingredients are the normal mashed potato ingredients: potatoes, milk, butter, salt and pepper.  It’s the method that makes these potatoes my go-to recipe.  And there’s enough for 6 to eat, with leftovers!

Sure, you can feed your family potatoes from a box.  Or spend close to an hour waiting for the huge pot of water and potatoes on the stove to come to a boil.  But, seriously, boxed potatoes taste kinda funny.  And who has time to wait for water to boil on a glass-top electric stove?  I swear, the stove we have is the SLOWEST thing I’ve ever cooked on.  Ever.

I hope you’re able to try this recipe, and that you love it as much as we do.

Weeknight Mash

  • about 5 lbs russet potatoes, washed, peeled and cut into 1-1/2 inch chunks
  • 4 quart glass (microwave-safe) casserole dish with lid
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  1. Place potatoes in the casserole dish with enough water to come half way up the sides.  Put on the lid and microwave on high for 10 minutes.  Check the tenderness of the potatoes with a fork – if they are soft and break easily, then they are ready to mash.  If not, give them a good stir, and microwave on high for another 3 to 4 minutes.  Drain potatoes.
  2. Place milk and butter in a microwave safe dish (I use my pyrex measuring cup) and microwave about a minute.  Watch it to make sure it doesn’t boil over.
  3. Place potatoes back into the casserole dish or in a mixing bowl.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Using an electric mixer, add about half of the milk/butter mixture, and whip on low speed.  Keep adding the milk until your desired consistency is reached.  If you like thinner mashed potatoes than I do, you might need more milk.
  5. I whip mine in the same dish I use to cook it in, but you could also whip the potatoes in another dish and add back to the casserole dish.  I like to serve in that dish because it’s already warm!

You could also flavor these mashed potatoes with roasted garlic, sour cream and chives, sour cream and cheddar– whatever!  🙂

Pizza Rolls

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Sometimes, life is crazy.  Sometimes, life is BUSY!  And then there are times when things slow down.  When the house is so quiet, you can hear the dog snoring from 3 rooms away.  It gets that way when the kids are at grandma and grandpa’s house 4 hours away.  Sure, you could get caught up on laundry and dishes.  Or you could COOK.  Cooking it is!!

This recipe is something I’ve wanted to do for a while.  Kind of like a cinnamon roll, but savory.  Salty.  Cheesy.  Yummy!

Sure, this recipe takes a while to put together, but most of the time is rising time.  Promise.  It’s really not that complicated.  If my kids were a bit older, I would let them ‘decorate’ their own section of dough before rolling it all up.  That would be fun.  Can’t wait.  Well, yes I can.  You two can stay small, okay?

Hope you enjoy this recipe.  And if you’re in the mood for something sweet, this dough makes FANTASTIC cinnamon rolls. 🙂

Pizza Rolls

FOR THE DOUGH:

  • 1/4 cup warm water (115°F)
  • 1 envelope (2-1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1-1/2 cup warm whole milk (115°F)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2-1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 3 cups bread flour, plus more for kneading
  • 3 cups all purpose flour

FOR THE FILLING / TOPPING:

  • 2 cups (2-8 oz. cans) tomato sauce with basil, oregano, and garlic
  • 4 cups mozzarella cheese, divided
  • pizza toppings, cut into very small pieces (1/4″ dice), 1/2 cup each (up to 4)
  • Your favorite marinara sauce for dipping
  1. Place warm water in a small bowl with about 1 tsp sugar.  Sprinkle yeast over the water and stir gently.  Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the warm milk, 1/4 cup sugar, eggs and salt.  Whisk in the foamy yeast mixture.
  2. With mixer on low, slowly add the 3 cups of bread flour.  Give it a good whirl, then switch the attachment to the dough hook.  With the mixer on the lowest speed, slowly add the all purpose flour.  The resulting dough should pull away from the sides and bottom of the bowl.  You may need more or less flour depending on the humidity that day.  Once the dough ball forms, let the dough rest for about 10 minutes.  This rest helps the flour to hydrate a bit and will also aid in the formation of gluten while kneading.
  3. Mix on medium speed for 6 minutes, adding flour, a Tbsp at a time, as needed to keep the dough from sticking to the sides and bottom of the bowl.  Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and form into a large ball.  Grease a large bowl and place the dough ball inside, turning once to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for about an hour or until doubled in size.
  4. Butter two 9″x13″ pans.  Deflate the dough by gently pushing down and turning it over in the bowl.  Divide in half with a sharp knife.  Return one of the halves to the bowl and recover with plastic wrap.
  5. Roll out the other dough ball into a rectangle that is 1/4″ thick on a piece of lightly floured parchment paper.
  6. Spread tomato sauce over the rectangle of dough, leaving 1″ at the far long end of the dough rectangle.  Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over the sauce.  Top with pizza toppings.
  7. Roll up lengthwise, ending with the 1″ filling-free edge.  Pinch the seams to seal.  Cut into 1″ slices – I like to do this with unflavored dental floss.  Just place the floss under the log of dough and position where you want to cut.  Bring the ends of the floss up over the dough, cross from one side to the other, and pull.  Perfect slice every time!  You should end up with about 12 slices.  Repeat with remaining dough ball.
  8. Place about 12 dough slices in each 9″x13″ pan.  Don’t overcrowd the rolls – they will need room to rise.  Cover each pan with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for about an hour.
  9. Preheat oven to 375°F.  Bake the rolls one pan at a time, unless you are lucky enough to have a convection oven!
  10. Bake for 20 minutes, then sprinkle with 1 cup mozzarella cheese.  Return to oven and bake another 20 minutes.
  11. Let cool about 15-20 minutes, then dig in!

VARIATION:

Cinnamon Rolls:

Follow directions through step 5.  Butter the rolled out dough with 4 tablespoons of softened butter, then sprinkle with about 1/2 cup of brown sugar.  Sprinkle with cinnamon.  Roll up, cut, and place in a greased 9″x13″ pan.  Sprinkle a bit more brown sugar and cinnmon on top, then place a little dollop of butter on top of that.  Bake as directed and serve with cream cheese frosting!  For the cream cheese frosting, blend together 1 block (8 oz. ) cream cheese (I use the 1/3 less fat kind) and 1 stick of softened butter.  Add 2 cups of powdered sugar and 2-4 Tbsp milk (depending on how thin or thick you want it).  Spread over warm rolls and enjoy!

Pesto Rolls:

Follow directions through step 5.  Spread with 1 cup pesto and 2/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese.  Roll up, cut, and place in buttered dish.  Sprinkle with 1/3 cup parmesan cheese and allow to rise.  Bake at 375°F for 40 minutes, rotating the pan after 20 minutes.  Let cool and enjoy!!

Pork Egg Rolls

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This summer is just FLYING by, isn’t it?  I haven’t posted a recipe in what seems like FOREVER.  It’s not that I haven’t been cooking.  I just haven’t been cooking as much.  Having two littles at the same time kinda takes a lot of time.  And less sleep.  Heck, they’re 6 months old today and still wake up once a night to eat.  We’ve had a few nights where they’ve slept through the night.  Four nights in a row!  Then teething started.  Poor littles!

So, we’ve been grilling a lot.  Making BLTs and other sandwiches.  Or ordering pizza on the nights that we’re just too tired to even think about what to cook.  Nothing too fancy.

These egg rolls are definitely not fancy.  But they are delicious.  Hope you enjoy them as much as we did! 🙂

Pork Egg Rolls

  • 1 head napa cabbage, sliced thin
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1.5 lbs ground pork
  • 3 Tbsp stir fry seasoning mix (or 2 Tbsp fresh minced ginger and 1 Tbsp fresh minced garlic)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 cups shredded carrots, drained well
  • Egg Roll Wrappers (about 20, in the veggie section of the supermarket)
  • 1 Tbsp all purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • Vegetable or peanut oil
  1. Place cabbage in a large colander and sprinkle with 1.5 tsp salt.  Mix well, then set the colander in the fridge over a bowl.  Let it sit for about an hour, mixing once in a while.  After the hour is up, remove from the fridge.  Place the cabbage in a clean kitchen towel and squeeze to get out the excess moisture.  Place cabbage in a large bowl.
  2. In a large skillet (12″) over medium-high heat, brown the ground pork, stir fry seasoning mix, and 1/2 tsp salt.  Crumble as the pork cooks.
  3. Place cooked pork and shredded carrots in the bowl with the cabbage.  Add soy sauce and sesame oil.  Stir well.
  4. Combine flour and water in a small bowl, set aside.
  5. Place the egg roll wrapper with a corner facing you.  Put about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of the pork mixture in the middle.  Fold the corner facing you over the filling, then bring the sides toward the middle.  Place a dab of the flour mixture on the farthest corner (the only one not folded in), then roll the egg roll closed.  The flour mixture will act as a glue!  Continue until all the filling is used up.
  6. Fry egg rolls, a few at a time, in oil at 365°F, turning often, until golden brown on all sides.  Serve with dipping sauce like the one I serve with Potstickers.

I hope you’ve had a great summer.  I can’t wait for Fall!  This summer has been a HOT one, and I’m looking forward to sweat shirts, warm mugs of hot cocoa, and walking around the neighborhood with these two…

A&N6Mo