Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Cheesy Mostaccioli

Cathy continues to cook and freeze with this pasta dish. -- ML


1 pound Mostaccioli pasta, cooked.
1-1/2 pounds ground beef, browned and drained.
1 can Cheddar Cheese soup
1 jar (30 oz) spaghetti sauce
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp Italian seasoning
3 cups (12 oz) shredded mozzarella cheese.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Combine pasta, meat, soup and spaghetti sauce. Add pepper, seasoning, 2 cups of mozzarella cheese. Mix to combine. Place in large casserole dish. Sprinkle remaining cheese on the top. Bake for 25 minutes. Makes 8 - 10 servings.

NOTE: Again, I usually make this all up and divide it into 2 baking dishes and freeze one for a future supper OR if you make the whole recipe, divide into 2 dishes, bake, and deliver one of them to a neighbor! That is how we first were introduced to this meal. A friend delivered it to us!

This tastes deliciouso with a lettuce salad and garlic bread.


Monday, December 29, 2008

Souperior Meat Loaf

There have been a few moments in my homemaking career when I was smart to plan well enough ahead so that I could make and freeze meals. It is an amazing time saver. One time I did a month of meals in one day. (Frankly, that was too much for me, but I know it works very well for some people.) At any rate, Cathy has been cooking and freezing and she offers the following recipe. -- ML

1 envelope of Lipton Recipe Secrets Beefy Onion Soup Mix
2 pounds ground beef
1-1/2 cups bread crumbs
2 eggs
3/4 cup water
1/3 cup ketchup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients. In 9 x 13 pan, shape into loaf. Bake uncovered 1 hour or until done. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Makes about 8 servings.

NOTE: I have never just put 1 loaf in a 9 x 13 pan. I use 2 small bread loaf pans (4 x 8) and divide the mixture between the 2. THEN, I am able to freeze the pan I do not use. Mashed potatoes and corn are ALWAYS a hit with this meal.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Chicken Parmesan

Perhaps you've had your Christmas already. Maybe you're having it this weekend. At any rate, you're probably ready for a nice chicken dish as a change of pace from the cookies or any of the salty/sweet snacks Cathy and I have been making. Here Cathy offers us an easy, tasty, cheesey break.

We are having Chicken Parmesan tonight, or as my children called it when they were young "sandy chicken," which I'm not sure is a very complimentary name for it.

Chicken Parmesan

4 chicken breasts (I use boneless skinless)

Mix together:
2 cups bread crumbs
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp oregano
2 tsp salt
1/4 cup parsley flakes
1 tsp pepper

Put a light (just a covering) layer of bread crumb mixture in bottom of baking dish. Dip chicken breasts in a beaten egg, then bread crumb mixture. Put in baking dish. I sprinkle a bit more bread crumb mixture on each chicken breast after they are in the baking dish. Put a lil' pat of butter or two on each breast. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour (until chicken is done).

Please note the bread crumb mixture accommodates more than 4 chicken breasts, sooooooo, you can either add a couple more chicken breasts OR if you just pour some of that mixture into a baggie and coat chicken that way (so you don't get egg on all of the mixture), you can freeze the excess bread mixture for another time! (It freezes great and is so handy to have on hand.)

I like to serve this with some Uncle Ben's Wild Rice and some green beans and a jello salad; perhaps lime jello with pears in it or strawberry jello with strawberries and bananas in it. Just some suggestions. :-)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

German Pancakes

Cathy is mom to two strapping teenagers. On the night she was making this, she reported she was making her son Pete very happy. I often enjoy making dinner for breakfast and think this would make an awesome Christmas Eve eve dinner.

This is a yummy dish. I serve with lemon wedges and powdered sugar. Serving this with bacon, sausage or ham is a wonderful addition to this meal.

German Pancakes
6 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp butter or margarine, melted

1-1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup butter or margarine
2 Tbsp corn syrup
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp vanilla extract

Confectioners' sugar

Place eggs, milk, flour, and salt in a blender; cover and process until smooth.

Pour the butter into an ungreased 9 x 13 baking dish; add the batter.

Bake, uncovered, at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, combine the first 5 syrup ingredients; bring to a boil. Boil for 7 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in vanilla. BE CAREFUL. If you don't watch your syrup, it will boil over causing a mess on your stove. (I speak from experience)

Dust pancake with confectioners' sugar; serve immediately with the syrup.

Yield: 8 servings.

NOTE: A little syrup goes a long way on your German pancake. :-)

*For OUR family (with 2 teenagers), however, I make 1-1/2 times the German pancake portion of the recipe.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Peanut Butter Fritos

Here's one more recipe for last minute holiday treats with the salty/sweet combination. Cathy and I go to a church that has a lot of good cooks. I've stolen this recipe from Colleen S., who is one of those great cooks and a truly sweet and genuine person.

1 (10 oz.) bag Fritos Scoops
1 cu. sugar
1 cu. corn syrup
1 cu. creamy peanut butter

Spread out Fritos on a greased cookie sheet. Bring sugar and corn syrup to a boil. Take off heat and stir in peanut butter until smooth. Poor over Fritos.

Melt together:
2 T. creamy peanut butter
2 T. semisweet chocolate chips

Drizzle over Fritos.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Chocolate Pretzel Rings

I have seen these done with chocolate stars as well, but you'd get more chocolate bang for your buck with Kisses.

Warning: Very addicting. They have that much-needed salty/sweet combo.

48-50 pretzel rings
1 pkg (8 oz) milk chocolate kisses
1/4 cup M&Ms
Or just do what I do, just buy a bag of pretzels, a bag of kisses, and a bag of Christmas-colored M&Ms and make however many you can and munch on the rest. :-)

Place the pretzels on a baking sheet. Place chocolate kiss in the center of each pretzel ring. Bake at 275 degrees for 2 to 3 minutes (until kiss is softened). Remove from oven. Place an M&M on each kiss, pressing down slightly so chocolate fills the ring. Refrigerate for 5 to 10 minutes (but, they are good gooey too!) or until chocolate is firm. Store at room temperature.

Yield: About 4 dozen.I usually make these and freeze them. They freeze great. I take some out awhile (so they thaw) before serving to people. This year, I made the mistake of not getting them in the freezer right away and we are now sadly (and embarrassingly) down to 17.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Caramel Chex Mix

While we're on the holiday treat theme, I thought I'd offer this one. It's not Cathy's, but it's not mine either. I got the recipe from our librarian Leslie R. several years ago. I often make a double batch right after Thanksgiving and it hardly ever makes it to Christmas. Chex cereal makes an excellent conduit for caramel. The pretzels, not so much, but they're in there anyway.

1 lb. butter or margarine
2 lb. light brown sugar
1 cu. white corn syrup
1 tsp. salt

Simmer all this for 5 minutes. It goes better if it's in a large pot. Remove from the heat and add:

2 tsp. almond extract

Then pour it over:
12 oz. Crispex
12 oz. Corn Chex
12 oz. Rice Chex
12 oz. stick pretzels (If you get the little holiday trees, there's more caramel.)
16 oz. almonds

Divide this into 2 paper bags and shake well. Microwave for 4.5 minutes. Stop and shake after every 1.5 minutes. Pour out and cool. I've found that parchment paper or Pam-ed wax paper works the best for cooling.

Vanilla extract and peanuts are also very tasty for those sisters (or others) who don't really do nuts.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Andes Mints

Apparently, Cathy had a bit of an "incident" when she ran to the grocery store to grab the extract for this recipe:

Sooooo, I ran out of peppermint extract making my mints. Hmmm. I tried calling a neighbor to borrow some, she wasn't home; so I ran to Pete's. All I could find was "Mint extract." Me being the cooking brainless twit that I am thought, "hmmmmm, they must have renamed it." I get home, open the extract, dump more into my mint recipe, and THEN . . . smelled it (should've done that first). ARGH!!!! It's SPEARMINT!!!!!! My poor mints. Needless to say, they will NOT be shared with nonfamily this year. :-(

Cathy is no "brainless twit." It was a grocery store/cooking mishap and it happens to us all. Please read my personal blog on my fruitcake massacre. Anyway here's Cathy's recipe for a chocolate/mint treat and how bad could that be?

These are absolutely delightful. HOWEVER, do not make the mistake of using "spearmint" extract instead of "peppermint" extract. They freeze very very nicely. Just take some out as needed.

1-12 oz pkg semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup white chips
1 can sweet condensed milk
2 tsp peppermint extract
green food coloring

Line 9 x 9 pan w/waxed paper.

Melt 1 cup sweet condensed milk and full bag of chocolate chips in microwave (I use the old fashioned way . . . stove top, BUT, be careful not to scald/burn).

Pour 1/2 of chocolate chips melted mixture in pan. Cool in freezer until set (15-20 min).

Melt 1 cup of white chips and the rest of the condensed milk (there won't be much). After chips are melted, add 2 tsp peppermint and food coloring (2-3 drops or as desired). [A side note, we used blue this year to shake things up. Next year, we're going to go for pink.] Spread over first layer. Cool in freezer until set (15-20 min).

Spread other 1/2 of chocolate chip mixture over green layer. Cool in freezer until set. Trim edges off with sharp heavy knife and cut into bite size pieces.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Slow Cooker Lasagna

If you're like me, you want to befriend your slow cooker as much as possible. It's just a beautiful things to pop the ingredients in earlier in the day when you have time, leave it alone and come back to a tasty dinner.

Cathy offers us this recipe for slow cooker lasagna. I haven't made it yet, but certainly plan to next week when there will be a lot of people coming and going due to the holidays.

1 pound ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can (29 oz) tomato sauce
1 cup water
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
1 tsp salt
1 tsp oregano
1 package (8 oz) no-cook lasagna noodles
4 cups (16 oz) shredded mozzarella cheese
1-1/2 cups (12 oz) small-curd cottage cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a skillet, cook beef, onion and garlic over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Add the tomato sauce, water, tomato paste, salt, and oregano; mix well. Spread a fourth of the meat sauce in an ungreased 5-qt. slow cooker. Arrange a third of the noodles over sauce (break noodles if necessary). Combine the cheeses; spoon a third of the mixture over noodles.Repeat layers twice. Top with remaining meat sauce.Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours or until noodles are tender.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings. YUMMY!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Porcupine Meatballs

It's cold out. We need something lovely and meaty for dinner.

1# hamburger
1/2 cup raw washed rice (yeah, like I spend the time to wash it..HA!)
1/4 cup chopped onions
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 cans of tomato sauce (8 oz each -- I just use 1 15 oz can)
1 cup water

Mix up the meat, rice, onions, salt & pepper and make meatballs. Brown in oil, then add tomato sauce and water.

Simmer for 45ish minutes.