Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Cheesy potato casserole AKA - Funeral Potatoes

We have been making this potato casserole in my family for as long as I can remember.  This was our go to pot luck dish.  Pot lucks, baby showers, and funerals.  Always funerals.  Hence the nickname Funeral Potatoes.  Whatever you want to call them they are delish and a great side with any meal.
These potatoes customize well if you need a lower temp oven just bake them a bit longer.  Need a higher temp cover them with foil.  Don't like cream of chicken?  Use cream of celery.  Can't find homestyle hash browns?  Use the shreds.  Want more cheese?  Go for it!  Want to lighten it up?  Cook the onions in olive oil and use low fat sour cream and cheese.  You get the idea.
Like I said we have been making these forever in my family and I am sure you will too.

1 bag frozen home-style hash brown potatoes (those are the square cut ones)
1 large onion - chopped
8 Tbsp butter - divided in 4 Tbsp portions
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 pint sour cream
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper
2-3 cups corn flakes

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Lightly spray a 12x8 baking dish with non-stick spray.
Melt 4 Tbsp of butter in a skillet over medium heat, add in onions and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.
In a large bowl (or right in the baking dish if you hate doing dishes) combine hash browns, sauteed onions, chicken soup, sour cream, cheddar cheese, salt and pepper.  Stir to incorporate fully.  Then spread evenly in baking dish.
Wipe out skillet and return to medium heat.  Melt remaining 4 Tbsp butter and toss with corn flakes.  Top potato mixture with corn flakes.
Bake uncovered for 1-1.5 hours until bubbly.  If topping begins to brown to much cover with foil.


Friday, February 22, 2013

Lemon chicken with roasted garlic smashed potatoes

Lemon Chicken
4 Chicken cutlets
1 cup flour
6 Tbsp olive oil
6 Tbsp butter
2 lemons - juiced
2 garlic cloves - minced
2 Tbsp capers
10-12 green olives
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
Coat chicken cutlets in flour and shake off excess.
In a large skillet heat 3 Tbsp olive oil and 3 Tbsp butter over medium heart.  Once butter is melted place cutlets in skillet, don't overcrowd the pan work in batches if your skillet isn't big enough for all 4.  Cook on first side for 4 minutes then flip and continue cooking about another 4 minutes - depending on the size of your cutlets.
Once cooked through remove to a paper towel.  Rinse out pan, dry and return to heat.
Add the remaining 3 Tbsp olive oil and 3 Tbsp butter.  Once melted add in garlic and cook 1 minute.  Stir in lemon juice, capers, green olives, wine and chicken stock.  Cook over medium-low heat until reduced by half.  About 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in parsley.  Place chicken cutlets into sauce and turn to coat.
Serve hot with extra sauce spooned over top.

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
3 pounds small red potatoes
2 Tbsp butter
1 head of roasted garlic*
2-3 Tbsp milk
2 Tbsp fresh parsley - chopped

Slice potatoes in half and boil in salted water for 15-20 minutes until tender.  Drain and return to the hot pan.  Add in butter, garlic, milk and parsley.  Check seasoning and salt if needed.

*Roasted garlic is something I keep in the fridge for times like this.  When I am using the oven to roast something for dinner I will toss a few heads in the side of the oven.  When they are done let them cool a bit then squeeze out into a plastic container and stash in the fridge.
To roast garlic cut off the bottom 1/3 of a head of garlic, place in a roaster like the ones shown below, drizzle with a teaspoon of olive oil.  Place lid on roaster and cook in a 400 degree oven for 1 hour.  Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly, you want it still warm otherwise the cloves are hard to get out.  Holding the bottom of the head squeeze gently to pop the cloves out of their skins.
No garlic roaster?  You can also wrap the heads in foil.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Escalloped Chicken and Noodles

Escalloped Chicken and Noodles
Makes 6 servings

3 bone-in chicken breasts or 2 cups chopped cooked chicken
2 cups wide egg noodles
1/2 cup butter
1/2 small white onion - chopped
1/2 cup sliced celery
8 oz mushrooms - sliced
1/2 cup flour
1 cup milk
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
4 fresh sage leaves - sliced or 1/2 tsp dried sage
1 tsp celery salt
2 cups whole wheat stuffing mix
1/4 cup butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and coat a 12x14 baking dish with non-stick spray.
If using raw chicken - Simmer chicken in salted water until cooked through, about 20 minutes depending on the size of your chickens.  Drain and let cool.  Shred or chop chicken.
Cook noodles in a large pot of salted water according to package directions.
Melt 1/2 cup of butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and celery and saute 3-4 minutes until onion is translucent.  Add in mushrooms and continue cooking for 3 more minutes.  Stir in flour until well blended then slowly add in the milk and broth.  Stir until thickened.
Add in sage and celery salt, stir in noodles and pour mixture into prepared dish.
Melt remaining 1/4 cup butter and toss with stuffing mix.  Spread evenly over chicken mixture.
Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes, then remove foil and bake 10 minutes longer.

This meal is easy to make ahead, just assemble and cover with foil.  Pop it in the oven when you are ready.


Buffalo Chicken Wrap

Buffalo Chicken Wrap

We all have weaknesses, alas I love Buffalo chicken.  I feel a bit better about eating it in a salad, twisted I know but what can you do.  I love to make wraps for lunch and my kids love that they can pick what goes in and what doesn't.
I had some left over fried chicken pieces that I used this day but any cooked chicken will do.
Chop the chicken into small pieces and toss with buffalo sauce.  (I had bottled sauce on hand but it is easy to whip up yourself - here is a recipe.)  Wash and chop lettuce, tomato and some red onion if you like that.  Now get a big bowl and put some lettuce, tomato, onion and a bit of shredded cheddar.  Toss with 2 Tbsp ranch or blue cheese dressing.  Now add the chicken and gently toss again.
Warm a 10 inch flour tortilla in the microwave for 10 seconds just to make it pliable.
Lay out tortilla and place "salad" in the center.  Fold up bottom then turn in both sides and roll over to close.  Slice in half and feel better that at least your butter and hot sauce coated fried chicken comes with some lettuce!

I really like to toss in a bowl rather than just pouring dressing on top of the wrap.  I find that you will use less dressing and you don't end up with dry and wet bites.


Vodka cream pasta

Vodka cream pasta - Ah, deliciousness!  Jar sauce can't even come close to homemade sauce.  Plus this recipe comes together in about 20 minutes so what are you waiting for?  Run to the kitchen!!!

Vodka Cream Pasta
1 pound penne rigate pasta
2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 shallots - minced
4 garlic cloves - minced
1/2 cup vodka
1/2 cup chicken stock
14 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup heavy cream
4-6 basil leaves - thinly sliced across

Cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water according to package directions.

Heat butter and oil in a large skillet over medium heat, add in shallot and garlic and saute until shallot is translucent about 4 minutes.  Add in vodka and allow to simmer and reduce by half, about 3 minutes.  Add in chicken stock, tomatoes and salt.   Simmer together over  medium-low heat for 5 minutes.  Add in cream and reduce heat to low.  Add in cooked penne and toss to coat.  Add in most of the basil leaving a few strips to garnish each plate.

Serve hot with shredded Parmesan cheese and bread to mop up the sauce.


Friday, February 15, 2013

Potato leek soup with white cheddar cheese

Quick and easy this soup is perfect for a cold day.  Be sure to wash your leeks well before using, you can rinse them in running water or soak them in cool water to get the sand out.  You wont believe this creamy soup is ready in less than 30 minutes and only 1 pot to clean!

3 large leeks - white and light green parts only, sliced thinly
2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
4 garlic cloves - chopped
4 cups chicken broth
2 1/2 pounds potatoes -cut into 1/2 inch dice (I used russets but Yukon golds would work good too)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
10 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese - cubed
1 cup milk or half and half

Saute leeks in oil and butter for 3 minutes, add garlic and allow to cook for 2 more minutes.  Add in potatoes and cook stirring frequently for 3 minutes.  Add broth, salt and pepper and bring to a low boil.  Simmer for 20 minutes until the potatoes are tender. Using a potato masher mash the potatoes in the pot to desired consistency.  Mash all for a creamier soup or leave some chunks if you like a chunkier soup.  Add in cheese and allow to melt then add the milk.  Check seasonings and adjust if needed.
Serve hot with crusty bread or a simple salad.


Chopped salad with lemon dill dressing

Don't be scared!  Chopped salads are not that much work.  I put this one and the dressing together in less than 10 minutes.  Try it out you will love it!

1 romaine heart - chopped small
1 small cucumber - seeded and chopped
5 radishes - chopped
3 celery stalks - chopped
1 can chick peas - drained and rinsed
1/2 c frozen peas - thawed *
1/3 c toasted sliced almonds
1/2 c crumbled feta cheese

4 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp water
1 tsp dried dill
1 clove garlic - finely diced or grated

Toss salad ingredients in a big bowl.  Add dressing to a jar, tighten lid and shake for 1 minute or put lemon juice, water, dill, and garlic in a bowl and whisk in the oil.

* Thaw peas by placing in a colander and rinsing them with hot water


Mini pita pizzas - Raiding the fridge lunch!

After overly delaying a trip to the grocery store, hard to believe I know, I found myself scavenging  thru the fridge to find anything to make the kids for lunch.
The result?  These cutie mini pita pizzas.
I layered left over tomato sauce sprinkled with oregano then cheese and a slice of turkey pepperoni.  Baked them at 350 for 8-10 minutes and they were great.  Paired with an apple it was a super simple lunch that they loved.
Try them out, I was thinking with interesting toppings these would be a great party food.


Chinese chicken salad with ginger dressing

This salad is the perfect blend of textures and tastes.  The dressing is similar to the kind served in Japanese steak houses but with a kick from the Sriracha.  If you don't feel like making the dressing pick up a ready made ginger dressing from the produce section of your market.
Try this for lunch or a light dinner. Eliminate the chicken and it makes a terrific side salad with lots of character.


1 cup toasted sliced almonds *
2 cups sugar snap peas - blanched and sliced in half on a diagonal
1 small head Napa cabbage - sliced into 1/2 inch ribbons
1 heart of Romaine lettuce - sliced into 1/2 inch ribbons
4 scallions - greens only (use whites in dressing)
6 Radishes - thinly sliced or shredded
1 cup chow mein noodles
3 cups cooked chicken - cut into chunks or shredded

3 medium carrots - cut into chunks
3 inch piece of fresh ginger root - peeled and chopped
4 scallions - whites only (use greens in salad)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 Tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
2 tsp soy sauce
1/2- 1 tsp Sriracha or another Thai chili sauce depending on taste

Blanch snap peas in boiling water for 1 minute and remove to a ice bath.  Lay out on paper towels to dry.
Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl and toss.
Add all dressing ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

Toss salad with dressing or serve on the side.

* I find toasted almonds in my store in the produce section if you want to make your own toast sliced almonds in the oven at 350 for about 5 minutes until golden brown.


Meal plan 2/9 - 3/1

Here is the plan for the rest of the month.

Cheesy potatoes (AKA Funeral Potatoes)
Green beans

Chicken Kiev
Rice Pilaf

Potato Leek soup
Chopped salad

Stuffed chicken breasts
Angel hair pasta with garlic oil

Swiss chard

Pork chops
Twice baked potatoes

Ham croquettes

Turkey sausage
Vodka cream sauce with penne
Garlic bread

Rib roast
Mashed potatoes
Collard greens

Escalloped chicken and noodles

Turkey club pitas
Oven fries

Chicken Parmesan
Green salad with creamy Italian dressing

Pork over Spaetzle

Lemon Chicken
Smashed potatoes with roasted garlic

Roasted Turkey breast
with root vegetables

Stuffed burgers
Tater tots

Tuscan chicken
Spinach saute

Chicken picata pasta
Garlic bread

Pork chops with mushroom gravy
Rice pilaf


Pizza night!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Orecchiette with chicken sausage and broccolini

Orecchiette with chicken sausage and broccolini -(Makes 4 servings)
1 pound orecchiette pasta
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 pound hot Italian chicken sausage with casings removed
3 cloves of garlic thinly sliced
1 bunch broccolini - trimmed and stems chopped into 1 inch pieces
1 cup reserved pasta cooking water
1/4-1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Place a dish of ice water next to your pan.
Blanch broccolini in boiling water for 2 minutes and remove with a slotted spoon to ice water bath.  Do not drain the water, bring it back to a boil to cook the pasta.  Once the broccolini is cool drain ice water and lay out on paper towels to dry.
Add orecchiette to boiling water and cook according to package directions.
In a skillet brown the chicken sausage in the oil and break up with a wooden spoon as it is cooking.  Once cooked thru add sliced garlic and cook for 2 minutes.
When pasta is done drain and reserve 1 cup cooking water add orecchiette to the skillet along with 1/2 cup of the cooking water.  Toss well.  Add in broccolini and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese.
If the pasta is too dry continue adding more cooking water.  If it is too loose add some more cheese.
Serve hot with crusty bread.


This recipe is equally good with broccoli rabe but I have a hard time finding it here so we go with broccolini.  The rabe has more of a bitter greens taste which goes very well with the sausage, the broccolini is milder but still very good.

Pot roast dinner in the oven or crock pot

Pot Roast with fingerling potatoes, baby carrots and gravy (Makes 4 servings)

2-2.5 lbs boneless beef chuck roast
1 large onion sliced
2 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary (or 2 tsp dried)
1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
2 tsp garlic powder
1 pound bag of baby carrots
1 pound bag of fingerling potatoes - sliced in half
1 cup beef stock
2 Tbsp worcestershire
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. (Crock pot directions are at the end of the post)
In a small baking dish or oven safe pot scatter onions across the bottom and place roast on top of onions.
Season meat with salt, pepper, garlic powder and 1/2 the rosemary.
Place carrots and potatoes around the meat in the pan.  You want a close fit around the meat.  Sprinkle the remaining rosemary over the vegetables.  Whisk together the beef stock and Worcestershire and pour over the vegetables.  Cover pan tightly with foil or pot lid.
Bake for 3-4 hours until roast is tender and pulls apart easily.
Remove roast to a plate and cover with foil, remove vegetables with a slotted spoon to a bowl and cover.
If you used a pot to bake the roast you can make the gravy right in the pot, if you used a baking dish you will need to move all the cooking juices into a skillet and then continue.
In a small skillet melt butter over medium heat and whisk in the flour.  Cook for 1 minute then add the rue to the cooking juices.  Allow to come up to a boil then reduce heat to low.  If the gravy is too thick add a bit of water, if it is too thin let it simmer on low for 5 minutes to thicken up.


Crock pot directions -
Layer onions in the bottom of the crock pot then add meat, seasons and vegetables as directed above.  Cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 6 1/2 hours.
Gravy can be made right in the crock pot on high.


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

BBQ Turkey Chili

BBQ Turkey Chili (Adapted from Family Circle magazine)
Makes 6 servings with rice or 4 without

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion chopped
1 green pepper chopped
1 package ground turkey (20.8oz)
3 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup ketchup
1/3 cup vinegar
2 Tbsp molasses
2 tsp sugar
1 can diced tomatoes - drained
1 can small white beans - drained and rinsed
Jalapenos for serving

Heat oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat.  Add onion and pepper and cook 5 minutes until softened.
Add turkey and break apart with a spoon.  Cook 5 minutes until no longer pink.  Sprinkle with chili powder and salt and cook 1 minute more.
Stir in ketchup, vinegar, molasses and sugar.  Add tomatoes and reduce heat to med-low and simmer for 15 minutes.  Add beans and cook 2 more minutes until heated through.
Serve along hot rice and top with sliced jalapenos if desired.


Enchilada Tortilla Pie

Enchilada Tortilla Pie (Serves 4)
5 8 inch tortillas (Burrito size)
1 medium zucchini sliced
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb lean ground beef (or turkey)
2 cloves garlic minced
1 red onion chopped
1 can refried beans
1 10oz can enchilada sauce
3/4 cup rice
1/2 cup tomato sauce
3 cups shredded mexican cheese blend or cheddar cheese
2 tomatoes diced

Heat oven to 400.  Cover a small baking sheet in foil.
Place a large skillet over medium heat and cook each tortilla 1 minute per side then remove to baking sheet.
Once finished with tortillas add oil to pan and cook zucchini until tender.  Remove from pan to a small bowl and mix with tomatoes.
Return pan to heat and cook ground beef with garlic and red onions until browned.
Meanwhile, prepare rice in a small sauce pan.  Bring 1 cup of water and tomato sauce to a slight boil, add rice and return to a simmer.  Cover and let cook for 15 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed.  Turn off heat and allow to cool slightly.
Once beef is fully cooked add enchilada sauce and refried beans and mix well.  The beans will act like glue to hold the meat mixture together.
To assemble -
Place 1 tortilla on baking sheet and top with 1/2 cup of cheese and 1/2 of the meat mixture.  Be sure to spread all the way to the edges so it doesn't droop on the sides.
Top with another tortilla, 1/2 cup of cheese and all of the rice.
Add another tortilla 1/2 cup of cheese and the zucchini and tomato mixture.
Add another tortilla 1/2 cup of cheese and remaining meat mixture.
Add last tortilla and top with remaining cheese.
Bake for 10 minutes until cheese is melted.
Allow to set for 3 minutes before slicing into 4 pieces.
Serve topped with salsa and sour cream.


Just a note- I found this to be much easier by having the baking sheet and a bowl for the zucchini ready before I started cooking.  That way I wasn't looking for things as I needed them.  I made a stack of tortillas then layered the beef and rice directly from the pans and the zucchini from the bowl.  My kids were not impressed with the zucchini in this I think next time I will try to dice it instead of slicing and I am going to add some corn with it.

Double decker chicken quesadillas and Tropical fruit salad

Double decker chicken quesadillas - (Makes 4)

12 Medium tortillas (fajita size)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
4 scallions sliced thinly
2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese
1 cup cooked chicken diced or shredded

Preheat oven to 350 and line 2 baking pans with foil.
Mix scallions with cheddar in a small bowl.
To assemble lightly spray foil with non-stick spray and lay 2 tortillas on each pan.
Top each tortilla with 1/2 cup of the cheddar and scallion mixture.
Place another tortilla on top of the cheese.
Place 1/4 cup chicken and then 1/2 c of jack cheese then top with another tortilla.
Lightly spray the top tortilla with non-stick spray (or lightly brush with oil)
Bake for 8-10 minutes until cheese is melted.  Let sit for 2-3 minutes before slicing.
Serve with sour cream and guacamole for dipping.

Tropical fruit salad - 
1 Pineapple diced
1 Papaya diced
2 Mangoes diced
2 Bananas sliced and tossed with 1 tsp lemon juice
2-3 oranges segemented

Combine all together and toss lightly.  Serve cold.

Meal plan 1/27 - 2/9

We have a lot going on lately so this is a 2 week plan to help me stay on track!


Left over night

Baked Ziti with cauliflower
Garlic bread

Chinese chicken salad (new)
Kung Pao Chicken (new)

Hot dogs
Potato salad (new)

2/1 (Happy hour party)
Latin chicken and rice (This is the link to the original recipe, I have changed it a bit so I will update that to the new "cleaner" recipe.)
Avocado sour cream
Olive and pepper salsa
Double decked baked quesadillas (new)
Tropical fruit salad (new)
Guacamole, salsa and tortilla chips
Sour cream dip with veggies

Turkey burgers
Tater tots

Pot roast (new)
Fingerling potatoes

Grilled cheese and tomato soup

Orechiette pasta with sausage and broccolini (new)
Garlic toast

French onion soup (new)
French bread

Stuffed Meatloaf (new)
Mashed potatoes

Pizza night

Tortellini soup
Stuffed bread (new)

Meal plan 1/20 - 1/26

This is the start of a new recipe meal plan, my goal is to include 4 new meals each week.  Lots of yummy posts to come!

Chicken Stroganoff (new)
Garlic bread

Turkey BBQ chili (new)
Corn bread

Spanish tortilla
Green salad

Baked Potato soup (new)

Enchilada pie (new)

Pizza night

1/26 (Birthday party night!)
Brisket (new)
Whole baby potatoes

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Baked potato soup

 So I found myself in a cooking funk lately.  You know what I mean, I have been cooking the same things over and over because I am uninspired and they are easy.  Starting 2 weeks ago I challenged myself to cook 4 new recipes a week to help me get back into a good routine of trying new things.  I am happy to say it is paying off!  I am happy to plan, shop and cook because I am looking forward to new yummy dished coming out of the kitchen.
I will post last weeks meal plan and recipes will be coming up shortly.  In the mean time cozy up with a bowl of this amazing soup.  It is thick and creamy and so filling you wont need anything with it.  It reheated perfectly also so make some extra for lunch.

Loaded Baked Potato Soup (Makes 4-6 servings)
2 1/2 pounds baking potatoes (I used half of a 5 pound bag of small russets)
12 ounces sliced bacon
2 Tbsp butter
1 small onion - chopped fine
2 Tbsp flour (I used white whole wheat but AP is fine as well)
4 cups milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 - 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
3 cups shredded white cheddar cheese
4-6 scallions - sliced
6 tsp sour cream

Heat oven to 400.  Pierce potatoes a few times with a knife and bake for 50-60 minutes until tender.
Allow to cool then scoop flesh into a bowl and mash.
(I baked the potatoes at lunch time when I was already using the oven then covered them with foil until I was ready to use them for dinner.  It worked out great and saved me from heating the oven twice in one day.  You could easily do them in the microwave as well to save time.)

In a large skillet cook bacon until crisp and remove onto paper towels to drain.  Reserve 2 Tbsp of the rendered fat.  Once cooled break into small pieces.

In a large pot or dutch oven add reserved fat and butter a heat over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook for 3 minutes; sprinkle with flour and cook 1 minute.  Whisk in milk then add salt, pepper, nutmeg and cayenne.  Add in mashed potatoes and bring up to a simmer.  Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir in 2 cups of the cheese, half of the bacon and     half of the scallions.

To serve ladle hot soup into bowls and top each with cheese, bacon, scallions and a dollop of sour cream.