Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Crock-pot Ravioli Casserole

I found this recipe in a Rival cookbook at my Aunt Annette's house.  I get so excited about good crock-pot recipes.  They come in so handy on busy days and especially on Sundays, when we come home from church starving and ready to eat.  This was filling and flavorful and the kids loved it!  Three stars in our house.
1 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
10 oz. frozen spinach, thawed (I used fresh spinach)
16 oz. bowtie pasta, cooked
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
1 1/2 cup mozzarella, shredded

*Brown ground beef with onion and garlic.  Put in crock-pot and add sauce, tomatoes and seasonings. Cook for 6-7 hours on low.  Add the last 4 ingredients during the last 30 minutes of cooking and turn crock-pot to high.  I added the fresh spinach, pasta, parmesan and 1 cup of the mozzarella and I mixed it all up really well.  Then I added the last 1/2 cup of mozzarella to melt on the top.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies

34 years.
That's how long I lived without having Nutella in my life.
Such a shame!
I have heard people talk about Nutella but it wasn't until a few weeks ago that I actually bought some to try.
My life will never be the same.
We have tried it on everything we can think of and dipped everything we can think of into it.  Then it dawned on me that there are probably tons of recipes out there with Nutella in them.  So I started searching and holy cow, I have been missing out, big time.
This is the first of many recipes that I will be trying and these cookies were super duper chewy and yummy.
Three cheers for Nutella!!!!!

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup Nutella
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 bag chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli milk chocolate)

*Beat butter until fluffy.  Add sugars and beat for 3 minutes.  Add Nutella, eggs and vanilla and mix well.  Add the rest of ingredients and mix well.  I refrigerated the dough for a few hours, but you don't have to.  Bake at 350 for 10 minutes and let cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet before placing on cooling rack.  If I can find cheap hazelnuts, I'm going to try adding some chopped up next time.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Shepherd's Pie

I had a lot of leftover mashed potatoes on Sunday and Jen suggested that I make shepherd's pie with them.  I hadn't made this dish in years and I was so glad she thought of it.  Last time I made it, I used canned green beans and potato pearls.  Bland.  This time I used real mashed potatoes (made with red potatoes) and frozen green beans.  Much better!
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 can Italian style stewed tomatoes
2 cups fresh or frozen green beans
mashed potatoes (2-3 cups I think)
sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

*Brown ground beef in a skillet and season with salt and pepper (I like a lot of pepper).  Add tomatoes and mix well, breaking up any big chunks of tomato.  Simmer for a few minutes.  Pour beef into a casserole dish.  Spread green beans over beef and season with salt and pepper.  Spread mashed potatoes over beans and then top with lots of shredded cheese (tastes better if you shred it yourself).  Bake at 350 for 40 minutes.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spinach and Orzo

Whenever I need an easy, healthy dinner, this is my go to meal.  I usually have all of the ingredients on hand and it only takes about 10 minutes from start to finish.  So easy and so delicious!

1 box orzo pasta
2 cans chicken broth
1 bag fresh spinach
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 Tbs. olive oil
garlic salt
salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese

Bring chicken broth to a boil.  Add orzo and cook according to package directions.  Meanwhile, pour olive oil into a saute pan and add spinach.  Cook on medium heat until wilted.  Add garlic and seasonings to taste.  When orzo is finished cooking, drain then add to spinach mixture.  Stir and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.  Serves 4-6.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Chicken Pasta Salad

My friend Heidi Sherman introduced me to this a while ago and ever since then it has been one of my favorite pasta salads. I love the sweetness of the fruit in it and the crunch of the pecans. Thanks Heidi for introducing me to this yummy salad.

4 c. bow-tie pasta (i used penne that's what I had)
4 c. Chicken, cooked and cubed
1/2 c. green onions
1 (20 oz.) can pineapple tidbits, drained
1 1/2 c. mayo.
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 c. red grapes
1 c. pecans, coarsely chopped
1/2 c. craisins

Cook pasts according to package directions; drain. In large bowl, combine all ingredients except grapes, pecans, and craisins. Marinate mixture in refrigerator for several hours or overnight. Add grapes, pecans and craisins just before serving. Makes about 12 cups.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Heath Bar Cookies

I made these cookies last Saturday and they were a hit!  In fact, my nephew Tucker loved them and told me they were the best cookies.  And believe me, that says a lot!  He's not much of an eater.  I liked the dough better than the actual cookie but I'm a sucker for cookie dough.  By Saturday night, these cookies were gone.  Done and done.

Heath Bar Cookies

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups chopped Heath Bar pieces (Eight 1.4 ounce bars) or 1 (8-ounce) package of chocolate-covered or regular toffee bits

Cream butter and sugars.  Add eggs and vanilla and mix well.  Next, add baking soda, salt and flour.  Pour in toffee bits.  Chill dough for 30 minutes in the fridge.  Roll into balls and place on cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 for 10 - 12 minutes.

Recipe from Mel's Kitchen Cafe.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Fantasy Fudge

Have you ever fantasized about fudge?
If not, then you probably haven't tried this fudge recipe before.
It is the recipe on the back of the Kraft marshmallow creme jar and it is the best fudge I have ever tasted.  
The first time I had it was when my friend, Julie, made it for book club.  I couldn't believe how good it was and I couldn't stop eating it.  She said that growing up, her mom always made this fudge and she always thought it was like a secret family recipe.  She didn't find out where the recipe really came from until she was older and asked her mom for it.  So funny.
Regardless of where the recipe came from, though, you must try it if you are a fan of fudge.
3 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1 package chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate)
1 jar (7 oz.) Jet-Puffed marshmallow creme
1 cup chopped walnuts (I left these out)
1 tsp. vanilla

*Place sugar, butter and evaporated milk in a saucepan.  Bring to a full rolling boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Boil for 5 minutes (jar says 4 minutes but you need to do 5), stirring constantly to prevent scorching.  Remove from heat.  Add chocolate chips and marshmallow creme.  Stir until completely melted.  Add vanilla (and nuts if you want) and mix well.  Pour immediately into a 9x13 pan (the jar says 9x9 but I wanted them smaller) and spread to even it out.  Leave at room temperature for 4 hours or until completely cooled.  Cut into 1-inch squares.

*As you can see from the picture, my fudge didn't set up well and it was because I didn't boil it long enough.  It still tasted good but we had to use spoons to eat it.  If you have a candy thermometer, it needs to get to about 235.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Pesto Pasta

My sister-in-law, Carrie, made this for us a while back and I loved it.  Anything made with pesto is sure to win me over.  It was good when we first ate it warm and then it was good again out of the fridge the next day.  Win-win.
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 onion, diced
Zucchini, diced (as much as you like)
16 oz. pasta, cooked
2 chicken breasts, grilled and cut up

*Season the chicken with a little paprika, salt and pepper and then grill.  Cut into small cubes and set aside.  Saute the peppers for a minute or two in a little oil and then add the onion.  Saute until the onion starts to brown.  Add the zucchini and season with a little garlic powder and salt.  When the zucchini is done, add it to the cooked pasta and then add the chicken.  Pour on some pesto (as much as you like) and stir until it's all combined.

*Costco has some great pesto in a jar.  If you want to make it, here is a recipe

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Banana Banana Bread

I have a few banana bread recipes that I really like, but I couldn't resist trying this one when I saw it on For the Love of Cooking.
I was intrigued by the brown sugar and cinnamon.  Plus, it uses one more banana than most recipes.  The more the merrier.
I have to say that this might just be my new favorite banana bread recipe.  I think it is the hint of cinnamon that does it for me.
1 cube butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
4 ripe bananas, mashed
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour (I used wheat)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. fresh nutmeg, grated (I left this out)

*Mix together butter and sugar until creamy.  Add the eggs, bananas, and vanilla and mix well.  Add the dry ingredients and mix just until combined.  Pour into greased loaf pan (or pans) and bake at 350 for 55-60 minutes.  I used 2 smaller pans and baked for 45 minutes.  Let cool for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.  Slice and enjoy!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Revelle Bars

I am posting this recipe for Jen, who has other things to keep her busy right now (packing up her house).  She made these for the Super Bowl party that she and Ryan so graciously hosted at their house.
The recipe came from our Aunt Annette and is a family favorite.
These are one of those treats that you can't stop eating once you start.
Cookie part:
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3 cups old-fashioned oats

Frosting part:
15 oz. can condensed milk
2 Tbs. butter
1/2 tsp. salt
8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
1 tsp. vanilla
*Melt together on the stove, then take off heat and add vanilla.

*To make the cookie part, cream butter and sugar.  Add eggs and vanilla.  Then add dry ingredients.  Spread 2/3 of the mixture on a cookie sheet.  Pour frosting over the top, and then crumble the remaining cookie mixture on the top of frosting.  Bake at 325 for 20 minutes.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Let me start by saying that taking a pretty picture of bean dip is harder than I thought.
I made this Pioneer Woman recipe for our Super Bowl gathering at Ryan and Jen's.  I love hot dips and this one was really good, except that I don't really love jalapenos and you can definitely taste them in this dip.
But it was a good crowd pleaser and easy to throw together.  You could easily double it if you have a big crowd because it doesn't make a huge amount.
1 can (14 oz.) black-eyed peas
1/4 whole onion, chopped fine
1/4 cup sour cream
8 slices jarred jalapenos
1 cup grated sharp cheddar
3 Tbs. salsa
Hot sauce, to taste (I used a little Tobasco)
Salt and pepper, to taste

*Drain black-eyed peas and partially mash them, leaving some whole.  Add all other ingredients and stir well to combine.  Spread into a casserole dish and bake for 20-30 minutes until hot and bubbly.  Serve with tortilla chips.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Layered Brownies

Holy richness.  On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being ultra chocolatey and rich, these brownies are like a 20.  I made them on Sunday and was so excited to sink my teeth into them that night.  Two bites later, I realized that was all I could handle.  And I am not afraid of rich desserts mind you.  I put them in the fridge that night and took a bite here and there throughout the day yesterday, and I realized what these brownies added to my life.  A bite of amazingness.
1 cube butter
6 oz. unsweetened chocolate
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup flour
1 tsp. vanilla

*Melt butter and chocolate in a small saucepan, stirring until smooth.  Set aside to cool slightly.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, eggs and salt.  Mix with a hand mixer or a stand mixer for 3-4 minutes.  Add the chocolate mixture.  Mix well and then add flour and vanilla.  Mix until combined and then pour into a greased 9x13.  Bake at 300 degrees for 30 minutes.  Cool completely on a wire rack for a couple of hours.

Browned butter frosting:
1 cube butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla

*Place the stick of butter in a saucepan on low heat and let it melt and bubble until it's a light brown color.  Once it's nice and caramel colored, remove from heat and pour into a bowl.  Immediately add powdered sugar, cream and vanilla.  Mix with a mixer until smooth and thick.  Spread the frosting over the cooled brownies.

Chocolate glaze:
3 Tbs. butter
4 oz. semisweet chocolate

*Melt butter and chocolate together in microwave for 1 minute and then stir well until there are no lumps.  Pour over the frosted brownies and tip pan from side to side until it's evenly spread.  Chill the brownies for a couple of hours before serving.  They taste best cold.

(Recipe from Mel's Kitchen Cafe)
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