Saturday, February 19, 2011

Pasta Bolognaise

What is my family’s favorite pasta dinner? Pasta Bolognaise!!! We used to go to Martini’s a local restaurant, best Bolognaise ever, but at $15 a plate I decided to try it at home.  The result is the following recipe and I would definitely put mine up against theirs any day!  And it is less than $20 for a complete meal for all four of us.

Pasta Bolognaise


·         1      (1 lb) rigatoni pasta
·         1       sweet Italian sausage link, casing removed
·         ½      teaspoon fennel seeds
·         4       ounces of goat cheese, divided
·         Parsley if desired

·         In a large pasta pot, add water and salt if desired, bring to a boil.  Cook pasta according to package directions.
·         Meanwhile, in a large deep skillet or Dutch oven add enough water to cover the bottom of the pan, remove casing from sausage, and crumble into pan.  Cook sausage over medium heat stirring and using the back of a spoon to break up the sausage into very small pieces.  Cook until all water has evaporated, sausage is no longer pink, and it is starting to brown. 
·         Add “Magic” meat sauce to pan, and bring to a simmer.  Remove from heat and add 2-ounces of goat cheese, stirring well to combine.
·         Lightly toss pasta with a little of the sauce.
·         Divide pasta between 6 plates, top with sauce, garnish with remaining goat cheese and parsley if desired.

·         If you are not a fan of goat cheese you can substitute a ¼ cup of half and half in the third step and garnish with parmesan or Romano cheese.

“Magic” Meat Sauce

I like to cook meals that do double duty…from this one sauce (which is awesome as is), I am going to post 4 additional recipes.  It is one of my favorite time and money saving recipes.  When I make the basic sauce I make multiple batches at once, it freezes beautifully, taste even better the second day, and makes it super easy to get dinner on the table multiple other nights all from one afternoon of cooking.

The original Meat Sauce recipe, Inside-Out Pizza Rolls, Beer Enchiladas with Jalapeno Slaw, & Three Cheese Manicotti are all from Rachel Rays magazine, the Bolognaise Sauce is my personal adaptation.

“Magic” Meat Sauce
Makes: 7 cups  Prep: 15 min.  Cook : 2 ½ hours

·         ¼   cup extra-virgin olive oil
·         ¼   cup chopped pancetta
·         1    onion, finely chopped
·         1    carrot, finely chopped
·         2    celery stalks, finely chopped
·         1    clove garlic, finely chopped
·         2    pounds lean ground beef
·         ½   cup dry red wine
·         One (28oz) can tomato puree
·         Salt and pepper

·         In a large, heavy pot, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat.  Add the pancetta and cook until the fat is rendered, about 5 minutes.  Increase the heat to medium, add the onion, carrot and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Increase heat to medium-high, add the beef and cook, breaking it up, until no longer pink, about 8 minutes.  Stir in the wine and cook until the piqued is cooked off, about 5 minutes.
·         Stir in the tomato puree and 1 cup water; and bring to a simmer.  Partially cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally for the last 30 minutes, until thickened, about 2 hours.  Season with salt and pepper.

·         Bolognaise Sauce
·         Inside-Out Pizza Rolls
·         Three Cheese Manicotti

·         Use a chopper or food processor to finely chop the onion, celery, carrot, and garlic.  They need to be very fine so the incorporate into the sauce.
·         Cook multiple batches (i.e. double, triple, or quadruple the recipe), cool and either store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months.
·         Be careful during the last 30 minutes of cooking, the thicker the sauce gets the often you will need to stir it.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Unstuffed Pepper Soup

This soup tastes just like stuffed peppers but is so much easier and cheaper.  The recipe can be easily halved or doubled.  If you likes stuffed peppers you will LOVE this soup.

Unstuffed Pepper Soup
·         1 ½ pounds of ground beef
·         3     large green peppers, chopped
·         large onion, chopped
·         cans (14 ½ ounces each) beef broth
·         cans (10 ¾ ounces each) condensed tomato soup, undiluted
·         can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes, undrained
·         can (4 ounces) mushroom stems and pieces, drained
·         1 ½ cups cooked rice


·         In a Dutch oven or large saucepan, cook the beef, green peppers, and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain.  Stir in the broth, soup, tomatoes and mushrooms.  Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add rice and heat through.

YIELD: 10 servings

Source: Taste of Home Heartwarming Soups Evelyn Kara, Brownsville PA

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Italian Sausage Meatballs stuffed with fresh Mozzarella and Tomato-Pesto Pan Sauce

Made this one for dinner tonight and the guys LOVED it!  I reworked Rachel Ray recipe to the ingredients I had on hand.  I am sure I will make this recipe again and again.

Italian Sausage Meatballs stuffed with fresh Mozzarella and Tomato-Pesto Pan Sauce

·         2    lbs Italian Sausage, bulk if available
·         1    (8 oz) container fresh mozzarella balls in water
·         1    pound of whole wheat pasta
·         2    (28 oz) cans Marzano tomatoes
·         ¼   cup good quality fresh Pesto
·         Parmesan cheese, shredded
·         Olive oil
·         Salt and Pepper
·         Sugar

·         Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
·         Remove 12 fresh mozzarella ball from water and place on a small plate.  Get out a rimmed baking sheet and bowl.  Place Italian sausage in bowl, removing casings if you do not have bulk sausage.  Form sausage into a disk, divide disk into fourths.  Use each fourth of the disk to make 3 meatballs.
·         To make meatballs take a mozzarella ball use 1/3 of one fourth of disk and enclose the mozzarella with the sausage making a nice large meatball.  Place on baking sheet.  Continue with remainder of sausage and mozzarella making 12 meatballs.  Drizzle meatballs with olive oil, about 2 tablespoons. Place in oven and bake 20-25 minutes until done and evenly browned.
·         Meanwhile bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add pasta and cook according to package directions.
·         While waiting for water to boil add tomatoes to a large sauce pot and use a potato masher or the back of a spoon to break up tomatoes.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer 5-10 minutes or until tomatoes are reduced by about 1/3 and have started to thicken.  Remove from heat add Pesto, stir well, season with salt, pepper, and sugar if desired.
·         Serve the pasta covered with sauce and topped with meatballs and grated Parmesan cheese.

·         The original recipe called for Italian chicken sausage, which local market did not have, so I just used regular pork Italian sausage.
·         Have all ingredients laid out and ready to go before you start.  The recipe moves along quickly and you really can have dinner on the table in about 30 minutes.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Mashed Potatoes Mama Withrow’s Way

For me mashed potatoes are the ultimate comfort food and I often make them for my many visiting “kids”.  I have yet to find one that can eat more of my mashed potatoes than Germie (aka Aaron Germann) with a very close second going to Hayley Wihlon.  So I am dedicating this recipe to you two, for all the fights that have ensued over which one of you would get the most….and for all your wondering minds….it was always Germie J.

Mashed Potatoes Mama Withrow’s Way

·         3   pounds  Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled (if desired) and cut into large chunks
·         1   teaspoon sea salt
·         4   tablespoons butter
·         3   ounces low-fat cream cheese
·         ¼  cup milk
·         Salt & pepper to taste

·         Peel potatoes if desired, if not just wash them well. 
·         Cut potatoes into large chunks, place in a Dutch oven, add salt, and enough water just to cover potatoes.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, simmer 15 minutes or until just tender.  DO NOT OVER COOK!
·         While potatoes are cooking cut the butter and cream cheese into chunks and place into a glass bowl along with the milk.  Microwave 2 minutes at 50% power or until warm.
·         Drain potatoes well, return to pan or a large mixing bowl, add warmed butter, cream cheese, and milk.  Mix with electric mixer or potato masher just until blended. DO NOT OVERMIX, or potatoes will become gummy.
·         Adjust seasoning with salt & pepper if needed.
·         Serve warm.

·         Potatoes vary in amount of moisture so you may need to adjust by adding more or less milk. 
·         I like my mashed potatoes nice and thick, again if you like yours thinner add a little more milk or butter.
·         Add, cheese, chives, bacon, herbs, or whatever you like right before mashing.

Buttermilk Baked Chicken

This recipe is one of my family’s absolute favorites!  What’s not to love???  This is comfort food at its best…Crispy baked chicken, creamy mashed potatoes, and awesome rich homemade gravy. 

Buttermilk Baked Chicken

·         1       (3-4 lb) cut up chicken
·         2       cups buttermilk, divided
·         2-3    tablespoons of hot sauce, like Franks
·         Cooking Spray
·         ¼      cup butter or margarine
·         1 ½   cups of Kentucky Kernel Flour***
·         1       (10 ¾ ounce) can cream of mushroom soup, I use Campbell’s

***If you cannot find Kentucky Kernel Flour you can substitute 1 ½ cups of flour, 1 tablespoon of chicken seasoning, and ½ - 1 teaspoon of ground black pepper.

·         Place chicken in a gallon zip top plastic bag.  Combine 1 cup of buttermilk and hot sauce; pour over chicken, remove as much air from bag as possible and close bag tightly.  Place bag in refrigerator and marinate at least 2 hours or up to overnight, turning bag occasionally making sure chicken is coated by buttermilk mixture.
·         Heat oven to 425 degrees.  Lightly coat a 13 x 9 inch glass baking dish with cooking spray, place butter in baking dish, place dish in oven until butter is melted.
·         Meanwhile place Kentucky Kernel Flour in a clean gallon size zip top bag.  Remove chicken from buttermilk mixture, letting excess liquid drip off.  Place chicken 1 – 2 pieces at a time in zip top bag with flour and shake to coat.  Place chicken skin side down in prepared baking dish.  Discard left over buttermilk mixture.
·         Bake chicken for 25 minutes, Turn chicken and bake 10 minutes more.
·         Stir together remaining cup of buttermilk and cream of mushroom soup; remove chicken from oven, and add cream of soup mixture.  Bake 10 minutes more or until gravy is hot and bubbling.  Shield chicken with aluminum foil to prevent excess browning if necessary.  Remove chicken from baking dish, and being very careful, stir gravy well scraping up all the little bits and pieces from the bottom of the pan.  Drizzle gravy over chicken and mashed potatoes.

·         I usually use two can of cream of mushroom soup and 2 cups of buttermilk.  My hubby LOVES this gravy and he doesn’t usually care for gravy, and would never eat cream of mushroom soup.
·         If you would like to cut some fat and calories you can omit the butter, coat the baking pan with extra cooking spray and then coat the chicken with cooking spray as well.  I use low-fat buttermilk, and you can substitute low-fat cream of mushroom soup.
·         If your family does not like gravy on their chicken you can bake it for 15-20 minutes after turning, remove it from the pan to a plate and keep warm.  Then add the soup mixture to the baking pan and return it to the oven and bake until hot and bubbly.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Chicken Tortilla Soup

It is so cold and if you are like me you have had enough of winter!  Here is a little something to warm your heart and soul.  This soup is “souper” easy , “souper” tasty, and “souper” easy on the budget. 

Chicken Tortilla Soup
Makes 4 to 6 servings

·         4   boneless skinless chicken thighs (about 1 pound)
·         2   cans (15 ounces each) diced tomatoes, undrained
·         can (4 ounces) chopped green chilies, drained   
·         yellow onion, diced
·         cloves garlic, minced
·         ½  to 1 cup chicken broth
·         teaspoon cumin
·         Salt and black pepper, to taste
·         corn tortillas, sliced into 1/4 inch strips
·         tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
·         ½  cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
·         avocado, seeded, peeled, diced and tossed with lime juice to prevent browning
·         Lime wedges

·         Place chicken in CROCK-POT. Combine tomatoes with juice, chilies, onion, garlic, ½ cup chicken broth and cumin in small bowl.  Pour mixture over chicken.  Cover; cook on HIGH 3 hours, or until chicken it tender.
·         Remove chicken from CROCK-POT. Shred with 2 forks.  Return to cooking liquid.  Adjust seasonings, adding more broth if necessary.
·         Just before serving, add tortillas and cilantro to CROCK-POT.  Stir to blend.  Serve in soup bowls, topping each serving with cheese, avocado and a squeeze of lime juice.

Source:  Best Loved CROCK-POT Recipes

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Spicy Italian Beef

I am going to have several long and busy days the rest of this week and next week.  So I am going to put my trusty Crock-pot to work.  These sandwiches are the best!  Add some bagged salad mix and dinner is ready.

Updated with pic 6.9.14
Spicy Italian Beef
Makes 8 to 10 servings

·         boneless beef chuck roast (3 to 4 pounds)
·         jar (12 ounces) pepperoncini peppers
·         can (14 ½ ounces) beef broth
·         bottle (12 ounces) beer
·         onion, minced
·         tablespoons dried Italian seasoning
·         loaf French bread, or good rolls
·         10 slices provolone cheese (optional)


·         Trim fat from beef and discard.  Cut beef, if necessary, to fit in CROCK-POT slow cooker, leaving beef in as many large pieces as possible.
·         Drain pepperoncini; pull off stem ends and discard.  Add pepperoncini, broth, beer, onion, and Italian seasoning to CROCK-POT; do not stir.  Cover and cook on LOW 8 to 10 hours.
·         Remove beef from CROCK-POT; shred with 2 forks.  Return shredded beef to cooking liquid; mix well.  Serve on French bread cut into thick slices or rolls, topped with cheese, if desired.  Add additional sauce and pepperoncini, if desired.

·         Pepperoncini are thin 2- to 3-inch long pickled mild peppers, available in the supermarket’s Italian foods or pickled foods section.

Source: CROCK-POT Slow Cooker Best-Loved Recipes

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Twice Baked Potato Casserole

This dish is so tasty and you can prepare it up to 2 days ahead. All you have to do is pull it out of the fridge and heat.  Add a ham, seasonal veggies, rolls,  and if pressed for time a store bought dessert and you have a company ready meal you are not too tired or stressed to enjoy.

Updated & picture added 2.14.15

Twice Baked Potato Casserole
Serves: 12
Prep:  20 min   Cook: About 25 min   Bake: About 40 min
Per Serving:  46 cents

PLANNING TIPS:  The bacon and cheese can be prepared up to 3 days ahead.  Bag and refrigerate separately.  The casserole can be assembled in a microwave-safe or oven-to-table serving dish up to 2 days ahead and baked up to 1 day ahead.  Cool, cover and refrigerate.  Reheat in microwave, covered with lid or vented plastic wrap, or if time allows (preferred method) in a covered baking dish 25 to 30 minutes in a 350 degree  oven.

·         5 lb all-purpose potatoes, peeled and quartered
·         ½ stick (4 Tbsp) butter or margarine
·         12 oz. Velveeta shreds
·         1 cup each milk and sour cream
·         4 oz. Cream cheese
·         2 large eggs
·         1 cup scallions, sliced thin
·         4 slices bacon, cooked crisp, crumbled
·         2 ½ tsp salt
·         ½ tsp ground black pepper

·         Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat a shallow 3-qt baking dish with nonstick spray.
·         Cook potatoes in a large pot with water to cover 20 to 25 minutes until tender when pierced.  Drain
·         in a colander. Return hot potatoes to the pot.
·         Add butter, all but ¼ cup of cheese, milk, sour cream, cream cheese and eggs mash until blended.  Next stir in ¾  cup
·         Scallions, and  ½ the crumbled bacon and all the salt and pepper. Spoon into prepared baking dish;
·         Sprinkle with remaining ¼ cup cheese and the bacon.
·         Bake, uncovered, 40 minutes or until top is light golden.  Sprinkle with remaining ¼ cup scallions.

256 cal, 11 g pro, 29 g carb, 2 g fiber, 11 g fat, 65 mg chol, 709 mg sodium

·         Make sure you mash potatoes while still hot or they will become gummy
·         You can use low-fat dairy products to drop the calories and fat content, fat-free products may
                     Make the finished product thinner.

Source: the original recipe was from a Woman’s Day magazine but I tweaked it a little.