Cheesey Veggie and Pasta Bake

– johanna | August 31st, 2009

Filed under: BUDGET MEALS, RECIPES - Sides

3 cheese veggie and pasta casserole

I have had the hardest time getting the littlest child, he is two, to consume fruits and vegetables. He is a steak and potatoes guy through and through, always has been. Yes I have succumb to hiding vegetables again because if he sees anything that remotely looks like a vegetable he refuses to eat it. Needless to say, the first bite of the casserole was politely refused because a carrot was peeking out from under the noodle. I quickly disguised the carrot with another noodle and the kid swallowed it with a smile and a “yum!”

This three cheese and paste casserole would make a delicious side to a slab of barbecue ribs or grilled chicken. We had ours with a beautiful green salad and roasted chicken.

three cheese veggie and pasta bake

Source: Adapted from Campbell’s
3 cups elbow shaped pasta, cooked and drained
1 can (10 3/4 ounces) fat free condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 package (8 ounces) shredded Italian cheese blend (about 2 cups)
1/3 cup Shredded cheddar and Monterrey Jack cheese blend
1 /2 cup diced zucchini
1/2 cup diced carrots
1 cup milk
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Boil pasta until done. Stir the soup, cheeses, veggies, milk and black pepper in a 1 1/2-quart casserole. Stir in the pasta.

Bake at 400°F. for 20 minutes or until the mixture is hot and bubbling.

-Substitute favorite two cheese blend for Italian cheese blend and grated Parmesan for the Cheddar cheese blend.
-Use peas, broccoli, red peppers or other favorite hardy vegetable.

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Tomatoes Stuffed with Tuna and Cellini Beans

– johanna | August 28th, 2009

Filed under: RECIPES - Soup / Salad

Stuffed Tomatoes

When my oldest does not like something he tells me “Mom, we all have different tastes.” So true. I would not expect our little ones to bounce up and down excited over stuffed tomatoes. It took me awhile to be convinced. They are excited over the cute little tomato cup the tuna and beans are served in. It is all in the way you look at it. I have taken many an idea from Charlie on Charlie and Lola. Charlie is Lola’s big brother. He is constantly having to come up with imaginative ways to help his sister through every day problems.

Source: The Italian Dish
3/4 cup dried cellini, cannellini or white navy beans, soaked for several hours or overnight (or 1 can of beans, drained)
1 bay leaf
several peppercorns
1 clove garlic
4 large tomatoes
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
2 tbsp minced flat leaf parsley
1 (12-ounce) can tuna, packed in water, drained
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and pepper

Drain the beans and place in a saucepan with 1 bay leave, several peppercorns, a clove of garlic and 1 tablespoon of salt. Add water to cover by one inch and simmer over low heat, covered, until tender about 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Drain and remove bay leaf, garlic and peppercorns. Drizzle with 1/4 cup of the olive oil.

Slice tops off of the tomatoes and scoop out seeds and most of the flesh with a spoon. Lightly salt the inside of each tomato and place upside down on paper towels to drain for about 3o minutes.

In a bowl, stir together the beans, tuna fish, onion, parsley and the remainder of the olive oil. Generously season with salt to taste and add pepper to taste. Spoon the mixture into the tomatoes and serve.

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Cape Cod Timbales

– johanna | August 26th, 2009

Filed under: RECIPES - Main Dish, RECIPES - Sides

Cape Cod Timbales

Timbales are a custard like dish from as far back as the 18th century. They are an egg-cellent source of protein. Add meat and vegetables for added vitamins to round off a complete meal.

Source: Parents
4 eggs
1 cup peas, cooked
1 cup cooked tilapia or cod, flaked (4 oz.)
1 tbsp snipped fresh cilantro
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Heat oven to 375° F. Lightly coat 8 (2 to 3-ounce) ramekins with cooking spray; set aside. Whisk together eggs, then stir in peas, fish, cilantro, salt, and pepper. Spoon mixture into ramekins.

Bake for 16 minutes or until puffed, set, and lightly browned. Loosen with a thin metal spatula.

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Spinach and Fruit Salad

– johanna | August 26th, 2009

Filed under: RECIPES - Soup / Salad

The weather has been amazing this summer. It was as if the heat was spent in May when we experienced 115 temperatures. Uncharacteristic of the area. With the onset of fall we are trying to get our fill of fresh fruit and vegetables before winter. My freezer is stocked with what can be frozen and still resemble what it once was. Take asparagus. The only thing frozen asparagus is good for is soup.

2 eggs, boiled, peeled and chopped
4 slices bacon, browned and crumbled
5 cups fresh spinach, rinsed and torn into bite-size pieces
1/2 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
1/2 cup thinly sliced onion
1 kiwi, sliced
1/2 mandarin orange, peeled and segmented
1 cup seasoned croutons

1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/2 tsp spicy brown mustard
1 pinch garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

In a bowl, mix the ketchup, water, olive oil, brown sugar, cider vinegar, and brown mustard. Season with garlic powder, salt, and pepper.

In a large bowl, toss the eggs, bacon, spinach, mushrooms, strawberries, onion, kiwi, orange and dressing. Top with croutons.

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Modern Take on Chicken Waldorf Salad

– johanna | August 24th, 2009

Filed under: RECIPES - Soup / Salad

When I think of Waldorf Salad I conjure up chopped apples, walnuts, celery and mayo Dijon dressing. Waldorf Salad was very popular with my parents and her parents generations but today with the focus on utilizing fresh untainted vegetables and fruits I was delighted to try this modern take on chicken Waldorf salad from Salon DeVille Day Spa.

Unfortunately with the economy as it is the spa had to close down and I am left with my memory which at certain times is not so good. I do remember the white chocolate chips. I thought they added an interesting depth to the salad.

1 head leafy green lettuce, torn into bite sized pieces
1 cup cooked chicken, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 tart apple, chopped
1 small cucumber, sliced
White chocolate chips

Toss together. Serve with a honey mustard vinaigrette.

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Individual Raspberry Cobblers

– johanna | August 21st, 2009

Filed under: RECIPES - Treats

Raspberry Cobblers

I learned something new about Stephen this week. He likes raspberries. How is it after 10 years of marriage I do not know that? It is not the first time I have bought raspberries. It is however, the first time I have ever seen him eat any and mention how much he loves them. So the man loves raspberries, as do we all.

I bought a flat of raspberries with the intention of making raspberry jam. But after me, Stephen and the kids ate our share I was short. I frozen some for smoothies and used two cups worth to make raspberry cobblers. It is definitely a recipe you want to make when there are plenty of mouths around to finish them off.

Source: Pioneer Woman Cooks
Makes 24 cobblers
2 cups self-rising flour (must use self-rising, sorry no improvising)
2 cups sugar
2 cups milk
2 sticks (1 cup) butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups fresh raspberries
Extra sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine flour with sugar, then whisk in milk. Whisk in melted butter and vanilla.

Pour 1/4 cup batter into greased muffin tins. Sprinkle a few raspberries on top. A little bit of sugar.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until golden brown and crisp around the edges. Invert onto a cooling rack and serve warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream or eat them plain.

For mini cobblers: fill mini muffin tin with 1 tablespoon batter and one raspberry.

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Champagne Vinaigrette Salad Dressing

– johanna | August 19th, 2009

Filed under: RECIPES - Soup / Salad

Champagne Vinaigrette Salad Dressing

I prefer homemade dressing any day over the store bought stuff. I know there are those out there who do not share my love namely my father-n-law who recently was pondering over how humanity got along before Ranch dressing was invented. Champagne vinaigrette happens to be my favorite.

Champagne Salad Dressing

1 small shallot, peeled and thinly sliced
2 tsp Dijon mustard
3 tsp real Vermont maple syrup
4 tsp champagne vinegar
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Pinch coarse salt, or to taste
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

In a small bowl, whisk together the shallot, mustard, maple syrup and vinegar. Slowly whisk in the olive oil and season the dressing to taste with salt and pepper.

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Breakfast Bagel with Cream Cheese Egg and Salsa

– johanna | August 17th, 2009

Filed under: BUDGET MEALS, RECIPES - Breakfast

Cream Cheese Bagels with Egg and Salsa

When I lived in West Palm Beach Florida, a friend of mine and I would roller blade from her apartment five miles to the New York Bagel shop, devour an everything bagel toasted with light cream cheese and a hot chocolate. On the way back we would stop by the pool to swim laps. By the time we made it back to her apartment we passed out on the couches from pure exhaustion.

Now that I am not coasting the 10 miles to burn off a bagel I placed them on my unfortunate catastrophes list. Never to enjoy again.  The grocery store carries mini bagels that are the perfect size for little kids and adults alike. At 70 calories for the whole bagel I can enjoy a simple pleasure once again.

Whole wheat mini bagel, toasted or untoasted
Cream cheese

Cook eggs according to preference. Slather cream cheese on a half of a bagel. Top with a portion of cooked egg and a dollop of salsa.

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Caramel Corn

– johanna | August 15th, 2009

Filed under: RECIPES - Snacks, RECIPES - Treats

For family night my brother’s daughter Breigh asked if they could make caramel corn. This their family’s story.

“We did not have vanilla, but our corn syrup had vanilla in it. The original recipe called for a cup of popcorn and oil. Instead I used two normal sized bags of buttered Microwave popcorn. It was so much easier and faster.

I took two 13×9 glass baking pans and emptied the first bag into one. I sprinkled some almonds into the popcorn, then poured half the caramel over the popcorn and nuts then stirred it together. By then the second bag was finished. I repeated the steps into the second glass pan. It almost seemed like there was too much popcorn as I mixed, but the end result turned out great. You could use 1.5 bags of popcorn for a thicker caramel coating, but I thought what we did was perfect. Everyone else loved it too

We baked the corn for 15 minutes. The recipe says you need to stir every 5 minutes, I didn’t do that. Once the 15 minutes were over, we took the pans out of the oven to let things cool. After a few minutes you can break away the top layer and place it into a large bowl. The bottom layer will still be really hot. I did this to speed up the cooling process, It only took a few more minutes to cool off the bottom layer. Be careful, hot caramel on your skin really hurts. You want the corn going into the bowl completely cool or else everything will stick together again.

We only had a spoon, sauce pan and the two glass baking pans to clean up, which was easy with some warm water.
I may try this again tomorrow.”

Source: Allrecipes
2 bags buttered microwave popcorn
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
6 tbsp butter
3 tbsp light corn syrup
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.

Mix sugar, butter, corn syrup into a large saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring until mixture starts to boil. Continue cooking for 5 minutes without stirring. Remove from heat. Stir in baking soda and vanilla.

Meanwhile, start popping the popcorn during the last 5 minutes. Keep warm until ready to use.

Empty the popcorn into two 13X9 inch baking pans. Pour caramel over the popped popcorn and stir. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Remove from pan and put into a large bowl to cool.

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Cheesy Polenta or Grits

– johanna | August 14th, 2009

Filed under: RECIPES - Breakfast, RECIPES - Sides

cheesy grits or polenta

Today I decided to pay tribute to my favorite Great Aunt. I was simmering a pot of polenta when my mouth started watering for my Aunt Ruth’s cheesy grits. To me polenta is just a fancy Italian term for grits (Don’t tell tall and handsome. He thinks polenta is fab but can’t stand the other.) which is a good thing since living in California I have only been able to find quick grits, nasty stuff.

My Aunt Ruth’s  traditional breakfast fare included fried eggs, bacon, biscuits and cheesy grits. Talk about southern hospitality my friend. She really does have an enormous heart. She is fun and witty. Caring and supportive. Even though she never had children of her own she played the doting mother to several children myself and distant cousins included. It makes me sad to think my children will not get to really know her as we live on opposites sides of the US.

1 cup polenta
4 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp butter
1 1/2- 2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded

Bring salt and water to a boil. Add polenta, reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Add butter and cheese. Make adjustments to taste.

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