Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Sausage & Bowtie Alfredo

Last night I threw together a recipe that actually turned out pretty yummy.  I'll call it Sausage & Bowtie Alredo.   This is super easy and quick.

Sausage & Bowtie Alfredo

1/4 cup butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
16 oz cream cheese
1/2 package ranch dressing mix (the dry stuff)
1/2 cup sour cream
2 cups milk
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 cups bowtie pasta
1 lb sausage links (I recommend these ones)


Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.

On a grill or in a frying pan, cook sausage also according to package directions.  When done, cut links into bite-size chunks.

Meanwhile, in a large sauce pan, melt butter and add garlic.  Cook until garlic turns golden.  Add cream cheese, sour cream, milk and ranch dressing mix.  Heat over medium-high heat until smooth.  If the sauce is too think, you can thicken it up with a little cornstarch.

Finally, combine your sauce, pasta and sausage all in the sauce pan.  Stir to combine, sprinkle with parsley for garnish and serve immediately.

The reason I used such random ingredients in this recipe is because this is what I had on hand.  I only had a 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese or I would probably have added a little more.

It didn't matter that this recipe was thrown together.  It was delicious and I'm glad I kept track of what I was putting in there as I will be making it again.

Serve with a salad or sliced grape tomatoes and cottage cheese.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

zucchini lasagna

A while ago I pinned this on pinterest:
photo credit: skinnytaste.com
I was intrigued, but time went by and I forgot about it.  Until my husband's cousin brought us some zucchini and yellow squash and then i knew i would make this.

Here's my version - I made some changes to the original recipe, but you should click over to skinnytaste and read her directions because she has some very helpful hints.

Zucchini Lasagna

1 lb ground beef
16 oz cottage cheese
1 bottle spaghetti sauce
1 egg
3 medium zucchini (i used 2 and included 1 yellow squash)
16 oz Mozzarella cheese, grated
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper


  • Start by cleaning the zucchini.  Then slice into 1/8-inch thick slices.  Lay these on a flat surface and lightly coat with salt to draw out moisture.  Heat grill (I used my indoor grill for ease) and grill each zucchini slice for about 4 minutes.  Remove from grill and place on a paper towel to draw out more moisture.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • In a frying pan, add olive oil and grill onions and garlic.  Cook until onions are tender and turning translucent.  Add ground beef and cook until no longer pink.
  • Drain the excess fat from the meat mixture.
  • In a separate medium bowl, beat egg.  Add cottage cheese and spaghetti sauce.  Combine well.
  • In a 9x13 baking dish, spread out a small amount of the sauce mixture (just enough to lightly cover the bottom of the pan).  On top of sauce mixture, lay out a layer of zucchini.  Then spread out a layer of 1/2 of the meat mixture.  
  • Add another layer of sauce (about half of the remaining), followed by a zucchini layer and finally another meat layer.  Cover with a layer of zucchini.
  • Top with the Mozzarella cheese.
  • Cover with foil and bake in the oven for 45 minutes.  Remove foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes.  Let it stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.
Make a tossed salad and some garlic bread and you've got yourself a meal!

The hubby loved this and so did I.  The kids had a hard time getting past the fact that there weren't any noodles.  Next time, I would only use the zucchini and leave the yellow squash for something else.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Cottage Cheese Veggie Dip

I got this recipe from one of my neighbors.  It is an awesome veggie and cracker dip.

Cottage Cheese Veggie Dip

24 oz Cottage Cheese
8 oz Sour Cream
1 cup Mayo
2 Tbsp Parsley Flakes
1 tsp Garlic Powder
2 tsp Onion Salt
2 tsp Ac'cent

Mix all ingredients together in medium bowl.

I didn't have any Ac'cent on hand when I made this, so I omitted it.  It tasted slightly different than the real thing, but it was still good.

Also, you could make this recipe virtually fat free if you used fat free varieties of cottage cheese, sour cream and mayo.  I'm not sure how it would affect the taste, but it might be worth a try.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Chicken and Black Bean Salad

 This recipe came from a picture posted on Pinterest.  There was no recipe only a picture, so I guessed the best I could based on what I could discern from the picture and took some liberties from there.

Chicken and Black Bean Salad

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can diced green chilies
1 can sweet corn, drained
2 roma tomatoes, diced
1 avocado, diced
4-5 cilantro stems, chopped finely
1/2 red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely diced

Boil chicken breasts until cooked through.  Drain and allow to cool in the fridge.

Meanwhile, in medium size bowl, combine drained black beans and drained corn.  Add green chilies.

Dice the tomatoes, avocado, cilantro, onion, and garlic. Add to bowl and stir to combine.

Once chicken is cool enough to handle, shred in to bite size chunks or strips.  Add to bowl and combine.


I should probably point out that the original picture I copied from didn't have avocado in it, and did have green onions instead of red onion.  Either way, I think it would still be fantastic.

This turned out to be delicious.  We serve it on a tortilla with some lettuce and sour cream.  The kids loved it and so did the hubby.

It would also be great as just a salad.  Add a little lime juice and some salt and pepper and eat as is.

I am thinking that next time I may try use Buffalo Chicken for this recipe.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Bacon and Pea Macaroni & Cheese

I found this recipe via Pinterest here and adapted it for my own use.  I'm always a little nervous making Pinterest recipes for the first time because you never quite know how they are going to turn out.

This one was a good one.  The kids like it, the hubby likes it, it is super easy to make and takes almost no time to whip up.  It's a win for everyone.

Bacon and Pea Macaroni & Cheese

2 cups uncooked macaroni noodles
1 small bag of frozen peas
4 slices bacon
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 Tbsp hot sauce
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup Colby Jack cheese, shredded
salt and pepper

Cook bacon until crispy.  Set aside on a paper towel to cool.

Meanwhile, in a large sauce pan, cook pasta according to package directions.  Add the peas during the last minute of cooking.  Drain pasta and peas.  Retain about 1 cup of pasta water for later use.

Return the pasta and peas to the pot and pour in the pasta water you kept.  Add yogurt, hot sauce and about 1/3 of the cheese.  Stir until cheese is melted and add a 1/3 more cheese.  Stir again and add the rest of the cheese.

Crumble bacon and add to pot.  Stir until combine. Add salt and pepper to your taste.

My tips:
Don't be scared away by the hot sauce, you can barely even taste it.

I didn't have any bacon on hand when I made this recipe and took the picture, so I used a bottle of bacon bits. I have also used canned peas before.  not as good, but not horrible either.

This feeds my family of 6.

I am thinking of adding a little spicy mustard next time to see what kind of flavor that will give it.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

German Pancakes (Hootenany)

Some people call this German Pancakes, some call it Hootenany.  Whatever you call it, it's delicious and easy to make.

German Pancakes

1/4 cube butter
6 eggs
1 cup flour
1 cup milk
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Put butter into 9x13 pan and put in the oven to melt butter.

Meanwhile, crack eggs in to medium size mixing bowl and whisk.  Then whisk in milk. 

Lastly, combine flour, salt and sugar in a separate bowl.  Then add to egg mixture all at once.  Mix thoroughly with whisk or electric beater.

Remove pan from oven.  The butter should be melted by now.  Tilt pan to spread butter around the bottom of the pan.  Pour egg mixture into pan and return to oven.

* I double the recipe for my family and bake both pans at the same time.

Bake for 20 minutes.

 Serve it up with some maple syrup or buttermilk syrup and sprinkle a little powdered sugar over it to top it off.

I like to make up the egg mixture the night before and store it in the fridge until morning.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Creamy Shepherd's Pie

This is a variation of the old stand-by recipe that I'm sure almost everyone has.  My husband prefers things creamy, so a while back I swapped out the tomato paste and substituted either cream of chicken or cream of mushroom.  He loves it and so does my family.  Next time you make this favortie recipe, try switching it up too.

Creamy Shepherd's Pie

1 pound ground beef
1 large onion, diced
4 cups mashed potatoes
1 can favorite vegetable, drained
1 can cream of chicken or cream of mushroom soup
2 cups grated cheese
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Saute onions in large skillet.  When onions begin to be translucent, add ground beef; salt and pepper to your taste.  Cook until no longer pink.  Drain grease.

In a 9x13 casserole dish, combine vegetable and can of soup.  Add the ground beef and spread into a thin layer.  Finally, spread potatoes over the top of the meat.  Sprinkle with cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes.

Serve with salad and dressing.

One of these days I will post about how to make really yummy mashed potatoes.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Porcupine Meatballs

I received this recipe for Porcupine Meatballs from an old friend when I was still in my teenage years.  We did a recipe exchange for a youth activity at church, and this was one of the recipes that she brought to share with everyone.

Porcupine Meatballs

1 lb hamburger
1/2 cup oatmeal
1/4 cup rice
1 egg
salt and pepper
1 can tomato soup  - plus a can and a half of water

Combine hamburger, egg, rice, oatmeal, and salt and pepper (to your taste).  Create meatballs by take a portion of the meat mixture and rolling in your hands.

Meanwhile, open the can of soup and empty into a medium size sauce pan.  Add a can and a half of water and bring to a boil.  Once soup is boiling, carefully place meatballs in soup.  Simmer for 1 hour.  Serve over mashed potatoes.

Here are some tips from me for this recipe.

Use your electric mixture to combine the beef and other ingredients.  It is so fast and easy.

Don't worry if your meatballs aren't completely covered by the soup mixture..  Once it starts boiling and the meatballs start cooking you can stir them around a bit and they will all cook.

Here are my meatballs not fully covered by the soup.

And here they are once the soup returns to a boil and they begin cooking.  No worries!

When your meatballs are finished cooking, serve them over mashed potatoes.  Super yummy!

Monday, April 01, 2013

Big Flaky Biscuits

I'm trying to cut back on the amount of processed food my family eats and so cutting out the premade refrigerated Grands biscuits was an easy decision. The problem is that I have struggled to find a recipe that produced what I feel are big flaky biscuits.

I came across this biscuit recipe a little while ago on Pinterest, and wanted to give it a try.  You can find the original recipe here.  I adapted it slightly to make them plain.

Big Flaky Biscuits

3 cups all purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 1/2 cubes unsalted butter, cold
1 1/4 cups milk

Preheat oven to 450.  Sift to combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl.

Cut butter sticks into 1 Tbsp chunks and add to bowl.  Using either a pastry blender or two knives, cut in the butter until there are pea-size chunks or smaller.

Add milk and gently combine.  Save the measuring cup you used for the milk.  You will use the small amount of milk that is left in at the end.

Using either a pastry mat or your counter, flour the surface and turn out your dough.  Fold it over and gently knead your dough a few times to finish combining it and make it one complete mound.  Avoid adding any flour.  You want your dough to remain soft.

Use a rolling pin to roll out your dough to about a 3/4-inch thickness.  Use a biscuit cutter and cut out your biscuits and then place them on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Quick tip: If you want crispier edged biscuits separate your biscuits so that they do not touch.  If you want your edges to be soft, place your biscuits on the baking sheet so that they barely touch.

Re-roll the leftover dough and cut out more biscuits.   (I have made this recipe several times and each time I get 11 normal size biscuits and 1 tiny biscuit from this recipe.)

Once all of your biscuits are cut and arranged, use a brush (I usually use my finger) to lightly coat the top of each biscuit with the leftover milk.  (I told you to save it!)

Bake at 450 for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

These biscuits are big, very light and flaky and super tasty as well.  Don't let the time commitment scare you.  After you have made them one time, the recipe and rolling take a very minimal amount of time.  No, they are still not as quick as popping a tube from the fridge, but I feel better about what is in these. 

I think I have found my replacement biscuit!

Friday, March 29, 2013

DIY Oatmeal Packets

My kids love the instant oatmeal that comes in the little packages, but I was getting sick of buying them when I knew I had all of the ingredients in my own cupboard.  I also have been trying to cut back on the amount of prepackaged, processed foods my family eats.  This was a no-brainer for me.

So one saturday, I gathered up my children and told them to form a line at the counter.  

All you need is oatmeal,  brown sugar, cinammon and ziploc bags.

I gave myself and each child a "job". 
I was responsible for putting the sacks inside of a plastic cup.  I did this so that it would be easy to drop the ingredients in and keep them stable.  I was also in charge of putting 1/8 tsp of cinnamon in each sack.
Isaac (in the white shirt) was responsible for putting 1 Tbsp of brown sugar in each sack.
Jared (blue shirt) was responsible for putting a 1/2 cup of oatmeal in each sack.
Amelia (down on the end) was responsible for closing up the sacks and putting them into a black basket that will be in our pantry.

 Our finished product!  When you're ready to eat, just dump the contents into a bowl, add about 2/3 cup water and heat for 1.5 minutes in the microwave.  We are also saving the plastic bags in a bigger plastic bag to use again for next time.

I didn't think about this until after we were all done, but normally my boys will eat two of the packets for breakfast.  Right now we are just letting them still dump two packets into a bowl in the morning.  Next time we make our packets I will just have them double the ingredients in one bag and we will mark those bags as a double batch.

You can adjust the recipe to include whatever you want.  I am thinking about trying dried apple chunks and cinnamon next time.  What do you like in your oatmeal?