Sunday, January 15, 2017

Skillet Lasagna (30 minute meal!)

All the deliciousness of a traditional lasagna - but in one pan and just 30 minutes! This family friendly pasta will soon become part of your regular dinner rotation.

I first blogged this recipe over 4 years ago, right after we moved into our new home here in Charlotte and were trying to get settled after a whirlwind summer. It may have actually been the first dinner I cooked here! Since then, we've had it occasionally when I needed something flavorful and easy to get on the table. It's so good and was deserving of a better photo!

You quickly saute onions and seasonings before adding ground beef to brown. Once browned, stir in dried pasta and canned tomatoes, cover, and let cook until the pasta is tender. Add three kinds of cheese, broil until browned and gooey, and serve. So easy!

One pan, 30 minutes, delish!

Skillet Lasagna 
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
pinch red pepper flakes
3/4 tsp dried Italian seasoning
1 lb ground beef
10 (curly-edged) lasagna noodles, broken into 2-inch pieces
3 (14.5 oz) cans crushed tomatoes
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
3 Tbs chopped fresh basil
Heat the oil in a 12-inch oven safe skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and cook, stirring often, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic, pepper flakes, and Italian seasoning and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add the ground beef to the skillet. Cook, stirring often and using a wooden spoon to break up the meat, about 3 to 5 minutes, or until it's no longer pink.

Scatter the pasta in the skillet, then pour the tomatoes over the top. Stir, increase the heat to medium-high, and cover. Cook at a vigorous simmer, stirring often, until the pasta is tender, 20 minutes (stirring often is important!).

Meanwhile, preheat the broiler.

Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in half the mozzarella, half the Parmesan, and 1/4 cup of the ricotta. Dot the remaining ricotta over the noodles in tablespoons, then sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan.

Transfer to the oven and broil until the cheese melts and is starting to brown. Remove from oven, sprinkle with basil, and serve.

Source: adapted from Pink Parsley

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Green Bean Casserole (from scratch!)

Scratch made green bean casserole is easy to make and loads tastier than the canned version! This green bean casserole is the BEST version I've ever made!

Y'all. I could eat this for dinner, all by itself, straight from the pan. I adore green bean casserole - it's by far my favorite holiday side dish. And yes, I know, it traditionally shows up about once a year, right next to the turkey and stuffing, but I don't see why you have to wait all year to enjoy the deliciousness that is green bean casserole. Especially when it's so easy! This version is heaps healthier and SO much tastier than a canned version.

Cooking up comfort food these cold, winter days? This would be perfect alongside a roast chicken, pork tenderloin, or pork roast.

Green Bean Casserole
1.5 pounds fresh green beans, ends trimmed and longer beans snapped in half
2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 large portabello mushroom caps, chopped
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup half & half
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
6 ounces french fried onions
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 375.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the green beans and boil for 5 minutes. Drain into a colander and then plunge into a large bowl of ice water (this stops the cooking process). Drain and set aside.

In a large cast iron skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions begin to soften, around 4-5 minutes. Add the mushrooms, salt, and pepper, and continue cooking another 2 minutes.

Sprinkle the flour over top, stir to combine, and cook 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth and whisk to combine. Add the half & half and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens, around 6-8 minutes.

Remove from heat and carefully stir in drained green beans until well combined. Sprinkle breadcrumbs over top followed by french fried onions.

Bake until bubbly, around 20 minutes. If your onions begin to burn, simply cover the pan with foil.

Source: adapted from The Novice Chef

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Bacon and Chipotle Corn Pudding

A delicious twist on the traditional corn pudding! Thanks to bacon and chipotle chiles, this version is smoky and just a tad spicy. Plus cheese! Lots and lots of cheese! The best part? It's all made in one pan!

I was so disappointed yesterday when I woke to.... rain. The meteorologists seemed certain we'd see substantial snow but of course, mother nature had a different idea. We finally did get a pretty coating of the white stuff but certainly nothing impressive. The upside is that we planned to stay in all weekend so my kitchen was overstocked with goodies and I've been cranking out tasty things to nosh on. Plus we have zipped through our Netflix watch list!

If you're also in the south, and were lucky enough to get a thick layer of snow this weekend, please enjoy it for me!

Meanwhile, I'll be over here drowning my disappointment in this corn pudding. While corn pudding often shows up at BBQ's, I think it's perfectly fitting as a cold weather comfort food. Especially this version, with bacon and chipotle! It's super simple to throw together in your cast iron skillet and has such a delicious smoky flavor. Did I mention the cheese?

We had this alongside ribs but have also made it as an addition to our Thanksgiving table. It goes with a huge variety of "main" dishes making it incredibly versatile.

Kitchen tip: after using the 2 chipotle chiles, divide the remaining chiles (and sauce) into ice cube trays. Freeze, then pop into a freezer bag. You'll never have to toss a mostly full can of chiles again!

Bacon & Chipotle Corn Pudding
5 slices of bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 cups frozen corn, thawed
2 chipotle chiles in adobo (from a can), minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch of ground nutmeg
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
Salt, to taste
3 eggs
1 cup half & half
2 cups shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a large cast iron skillet over medium-low heat, fry the bacon until crispy. Remove to a paper towel lined plate and pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon grease left in the pan.

Add the corn and chipotle chiles to the skillet and cook, stirring often, until the corn is fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds more. Remove from heat and stir in the cumin, nutmeg, cornmeal, and baking powder. Add salt to taste.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, half & half, and cooked bacon. Pour over the corn and stir until well blended. Top with cheese and bake, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the pudding is set.

Before serving, pour the lime juice over top. Serve warm.

Source: slightly adapted from The Homesick Texan's Family Table

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Yippee Casserole

Ground beef, au gratin potatoes, corn, and loads of cheese mean this easy casserole will soon be a family favorite!

This recipe is actually from my husband - and it's one of his favorite meals! Years ago, when he was in college, he came across the recipe in a magazine. The tagline on the recipe was something like "your kids will go yippee for dinner!" and the recipe became known as "yippee casserole" from then on.

Though some food snobs might turn their nose up to the use of processed foods, it really is tasty and great to have on hand for those busy nights when you just need to get dinner on the table. Unfortunately, it's not the most photogenic of dishes, either!

I like to throw a big dollop of sour cream on top but it's certainly optional.

Yippee Casserole
1 box au gratin potatoes
2 and 1/4 cup boiling water
1 cup frozen corn
2/3 cup milk
1/2 pound lean ground beef, browned and drained
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Heat oven to 400. In an ungreased 2 quart baking dish, stir together the dried potatoes, potato sauce mix, boiling water, corn, and milk. Stir in the browned beef and 3/4 cup cheese. Bake uncovered 30-35 minutes or until top is golden brown. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Serve with sour cream, if desired.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Lobster Etouffee

Cajun comfort food made easy! This creamy dish is loaded with lobster and best served over hot cooked rice. While it can be spicy, you can easily tweak the heat to your taste. This is one of our favorites - it's so flavorful!

Clearly, I am the world's worst food blogger. With my last post being back before HALLOWEEN, I missed two huge food holidays - Thanksgiving and Christmas! I was out of town two weeks in November and once I was back, it was Advent! My work seriously triples during the Advent season so blogging was put on the back burner.

Right now, Charlotte is cold and wet. Really, it's miserable. On those cold, damp days, all I want is comfort food! This lobster etouffee is perfect!

It's a very simple recipe to make so don't be intimidated. The ingredient list is longer than some of my normal recipes but it's mostly pantry staples and spices that have been beginning to be used. I used lobster, as I had some on hand I needed to use, but you could easily sub in shrimp or crawfish.

Lobster Etouffee

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup butter, plus 4 tablespoons reserved
1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper or to taste
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning or to taste
1/2 cup minced green onions, plus extra for garnish
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley leaves, plus extra for garnish
3-5 dashes hot sauce or to taste
1 8-ounce jar clam juice
3 cups chicken stock or broth
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes (don't drain!)
1 teaspoon salt
1 pound or 4 cups lobster meat (can substitute crawfish or shrimp)

To make the roux, melt together the butter and the oil in a large Dutch oven over low heat. Whisk the flour into the melted butter/oil and cook, whisking continuously, until the mixture becomes a caramel color and gives off a nutty aroma, about 15-20 minutes. Don't be tempted to increase the heat - leave it on low.

Add the onion, celery, bell pepper, and garlic and cook over low heat until the vegetables are limp, about 5 minutes.

Add the black pepper, white pepper, cayenne pepper, Cajun seasoning, green onions, parsley, and hot sauce to taste. Stir until combined and then add the clam juice, chicken stock or broth, tomatoes with their juice, and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until mixture thickens.

Add the lobster meat and cook for 3-5 minutes, being careful to not overcook. Remove from heat and add the 4 tablespoons reserved butter and stir to melt.

Garnish with the green onions, parsley, and serve over steamed rice.

Source: Foodie Crush

Monday, October 24, 2016

Greek Casserole with Turkey, Rice, and Feta

This Greek inspired casserole is loaded with ground turkey, a quick cooking tomato sauce, rice, and feta. Bonus? It's healthy and weeknight friendly!

I gotta be honest.... this recipe almost never made it to the blog. Casseroles are really (really) difficult to photograph and it just wasn't that attractive (though most casseroles don't have much visual appeal!). I ultimately decided it should be shared because it's DARN TASTY.

Simply brown ground turkey and onions, simmer it in a flavorful tomato sauce until everything is delicious, then stir in cooked rice, feta, and parsley. Bake. If you can think ahead of time and cook the rice the night before, you can have this on the table even faster!

This may remind you of your favorite stuffed pepper recipe - except without the work!

Greek Casserole with Turkey, Rice, and Feta
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 lb lean ground turkey
3 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 teaspoon ground oregano
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 cups cooked brown rice (can sub white rice)
1 cup crumbled feta cheese, divided
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley

Preheat oven to 350 and lightly spray a 2-quart baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil. Once hot, add the chopped onion and ground turkey. Cook, breaking up the meat, until the meat is browned through and the onion is soft, about 5 minutes.

Add the garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine and cook 1 minute. Add the crushed tomatoes, bring to a boil, and let simmer for 10 minutes.

Stir in the cooked rice, 1/2 cup of the feta, and the parsley. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish and top with the remaining 1/2 cup of feta.

Bake until bubbling, about 20 minutes. Serve hot. 

Source: slightly adapted from Cookin' Canuck

Monday, October 17, 2016

Kentucky Hot Brown

The Kentucky Hot Brown - an open faced sandwich of thick sliced turkey, Mornay sauce, bacon, and tomato - is famous for a reason! It's sinfully delicious and so easy to make!

Over the summer, I hosted two chef camps for kids that focused on food around the country. Each day, we created (and enjoyed!) cuisine from a different region. On our "deep south" day, one of the dishes we made were these delicious sandwiches! Kids love assembling things and since most of the recipe is assembling, they loved it. And who doesn't like a cheesy turkey sandwich?

Tip: This calls for 4 oven safe gratin dish; if you don't have one, simply place all 4 sandwiches in a baking dish that will hold them fairly tightly (so the sauce isn't too shallow once poured in). It won't be as pretty but it'll taste just as delicious!

Kentucky Hot Brown
6 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons flour
2 pints heavy cream
6 ounces grated Pecorino Romano cheese
salt and pepper
4 slices hearty bread, toasted
1 lb roasted turkey, sliced thick (1/2-3/4 inch thick)
8 slices thick cut bacon, cooked until crisp and then crumbled
4 slices ripe tomato, optional
2 tablespoons minced parsley
Dash of paprika

Preheat broiler to high.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the flour and whisk to combine. Cook, whisking constantly, until it is pale golden brown, about 1 minute. Slowly pour in the heavy cream, whisking constantly. Bring to a simmer and then remove from heat. Whisk in the grated cheese, then season to taste with salt and pepper.

Place 1 slice of toast in the bottom of each gratin dish. Divide the turkey between the 4 dishes and layer it on the toast. Ladle the sauce over each sandwich, completely coating them. Place the sandwiches under the broiler until spotty brown and bubbly, about 2-3 minutes.

Add a slice of tomato on top, if using, and sprinkle with crumbled bacon. Sprinkle with parsley and paprika. Serve hot.

Source: adapted from Serious Eats

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Italian Nachos with Sausage and Chicken (Johnny Carino's Copycat)

Crispy wonton chips are topped with sweet Italian sausage, shredded chicken, olives, tomatoes, peppers, and then smothered in a creamy alfredo cheese sauce. This restaurant copycat is easy to make at home and is a crowd pleaser!

Y'all, I miss Johnny Carino's. They are nowhere to be found near me anymore! I know they are a typical chain Italian place but they had some dishes no one else had - including these nachos! For one, wonton chip > tortilla chip anyday but then that alfredo cheese sauce? Yup. Amazing.

At Johnny Carino's, you can choose chicken, sausage, or both. Obviously we go with both in our house but you could up the amount of either and eliminate the other if you'd like. I typically use shredded rotisserie chicken and, if I've just pulled some from the fridge or freezer, I warm it up in the skillet with the browned sausage.

We love these nachos and consider them a great weeknight dinner! You could easily use them as a twist on the traditional nacho bar, too, and just keep the cheese sauce warm in a small crockpot. They are so delicious!

The chips and cheese sauce cook quickly so prep your meats and toppings ahead of time so you're ready to serve as soon as the cheese is finished.

Italian Nachos (Johnny Carino's Copycat)

1 package wontons, cut on the diagonal to make triangles
1 lb ground sweet Italian sausage, browned and cooked through
1 boneless/skinless chicken breast, grilled and thinly sliced or 1 cup shredded rotisserie chicken
1/2 cup sliced black olives
1/2 cup sliced pepperoncini peppers
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup sliced jalapeno peppers
oil, for frying

For the cheese sauce:
4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon minced garlic
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
2.5 cups half & half
2.5 cups grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

In a Dutch oven, add about 1 inch of oil and heat over medium-high until hot enough to fry (around 350 degrees). Once ready, add a batch of sliced wontons - being careful to not overcrowd the pan - and cook about 15-20 seconds on each side, or until brown and crispy. Remove with tongs to a paper towel lined plate. Repeat until all chips are fried.

To make the cheese sauce, melt the butter over low heat in a medium saucepan. Add the garlic and then sprinkle in the flour; whisk to combine. Cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Increase the heat to medium and whisk in the half-and-half little by little. Cook until thickened, about 4 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and add the grated Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper and stir until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth.

Spread wonton chips on each plate then top with sausage, chicken, and desired toppings (olives, tomatoes, jalapenos, etc). Drizzle with the warm cheese sauce and serve immediately.

Source: adapted from Get Off Your Butt and Bake

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Cowboy Chili

This quick cooking and hearty chili is bursting with beef, beans, tomatoes, and a few of my favorite Texas ingredients!

Chili is a staple during football season - probably because it's easy to feed a crowd (and keep warm for an entire game!) and so darn versatile. This chili is thick enough to be scooped with Fritos (hello!) or just as tasty dished into bowls and topped with gooey melted cheese. There is nothing worse than a thin chili :)

My husband is a huge Cowboys fan so it made sense to whip up a Cowboy Chili for football season! Texas chili typically has no beans but this Cowboy Chili has two kinds: traditional kidney beans and a Texas favorite, Ranch Style! To kick up the spice a tad, and as another nod to a Texas favorite, I included a can of Rotel along with a can of fire roasted tomatoes. If you love spice, you could sub Rotel for the fire roasted, too. To thicken it up, I used a Mexican food staple and added a masa harina and water slurry. It gives the chili a slight corn flavor in the backgound and thickens it up nicely.

Cowboy Chili
1 lb lean ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 (15 ounce) can Ranch Style Beans
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced fire roasted tomatoes
1 (12 ounce) bottle beer, preferably dark like a porter, stout, or brown ale
1 (~15 ounce) can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can Rotel tomatoes (original kind)
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons masa harina (*see note below)
salt and pepper, to taste
shredded sharp cheddar cheese, for topping

In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, combine the ground beef, onion, and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until the ground beef is browned and the onions are soft and translucent. Drain any excess fat and return to heat.

Add the chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper; stir to combine and let cook 1 minute. Add the Ranch Style Beans (and its liquid), fire roasted tomatoes (and its juices), and bottle of beer. Stir to combine. Add the drained and rinsed kidney beans and Rotel tomatoes (and its juices). Stir, bring to a boil, and then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk together the water and masa harina. Add to the chili and stir to combine. Let simmer 3-4 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste, along with additional chili powder if desired. *If chili is still not thick enough for your taste, combine another 1/3 cup water and 2 tablespoons masa harina in a small bowl, whisk, and add to the chili.

Ladle into bowls and top with cheese before serving. Chili will continue thickening as it cools.

Football season is well underway! To celebrate, I've joined a group of bloggers from all over the country to bring you football-inspired recipes. Last month, we shared our favorite tailgating recipes (I shared these amazing Texas Toothpicks!) and now we're sharing more than 60 recipes that are perfect for game day! Click on their links to check them out!

Note: This post is in no way sponsored, endorsed, or administered by the National Football League (NFL) or any of its teams. All opinions and views expressed on our blogs are our own, not that of the NFL and/or any of its 32 teams. Any team names, logos, or other symbols referenced are properties of their respective organizations. We are just big fans - and we want to share our love for our teams, the game, and the food that brings us all together on game day.

 60+ recipes inspired by football teams! Show off your team spirit with everything from appetizer recipes, entree recipes, cocktail recipes, dessert recipes, side dish recipes and more as you cheer on your team! #foodiefootballfans

Red Sea Party Punch by Celebrating Family
Bird Gang Sonoran Nachos by Love Bakes Good Cakes
GameDay Cheesecake Bars by Body Rebooted
Healthy Dirty Bird Dip by Dash of Herbs
Purple Potato Salad by The Culinary Compass
Chocolate Blackberry Cheesecake Parfait by Mom's Messy Miracles
Easy Buffalo Chicken Sliders by Beer Girl Cooks
Quick and Easy Baked Buffalo Chicken Sliders by The Life Jolie
Blackened Steak + Blue Cheese Nachos by Feast + West
Easy Pimiento Cheese Crackers by Family Food on the Table
Chicago-Style Deep Dish Breadsticks by Honey & Birch
Italian Beef by Bread Booze Bacon
Welcome to the Jungle Cocktail by Love & Flour
Bengal Striped Bundt Cake by Foodtastic Mom
Polish Boy Potato Skins by A Mind Full Mom
Sweet and Salty Brownies by The Secret Ingredient Is
Cowboy Cookies by The BakerMama
Cowboy Chili by See Aimee Cook
Green Chili Pulled Pork Poutine by Cake 'n Knife
Blue and Orange Jello Shot Gummies by Sustaining the Powers
Greek Town Loaded Potato Skins by The Mexitalian
Marbled Scotcharoos by Club Narwhal
Beer Cheese Fondue by Off the Eaten Path
Easy Beer Cheese Soup by Hello Little Home
Chicken Stack Sandwich by Around My Family Table
Bratwurst Sandwiches with Pub Mustard by What A Girl Eats
Game Day Cupcakes by Polka Dotted Blue Jay
Brownie Batter Dip by The Crumby Cupcake
Chocolate Coconut Cupcakes by Two Places at Once
Tomahawk Cooler by Mixplorology
Spicy Jalapeno Popper Cheese Dip with Real Cheese by Simplify, Live, Love
Game Day Snack Tray by Coffee Love Travel
Bacon Mac Cups by West via Midwest
South Beach Punch by 2 Cookin Mamas
Miami Mahi Mahi Sandwich by foodbyjonister
Swedish Meatball Dip with Tater Tot Dunkers by Peanut Blossom
Fruity Dessert Pizza with Peanut Butter Chocolate Glaze by Bucket List Tummy
New England Rum Punch by Order in the Kitchen
Crawfish Etouffee by The Speckled Palate
Cajun Crawfish Fritters with Remoulade Dipping Sauce by For the Love of Food
Reuben Sliders with Homemade Russian Dressing by A Dish of Daily Life
Big Blue Cheese Steak Stromboli by Simple and Savory
Spinach & Artichoke Bites by Lauren's Kitchen
Herb Pesto Arancini by A Little Gathering
Beluga Lentil Hummus by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
Philly Cheesesteak Nachos by And She Cooks
Philly Cheesesteak Cheesecake by Nik Snacks
Game Day Cookie Cups by Me and My Pink Mixer
Primanti Style Sliders by Macheesmo
Pineapple Salsa by Living Well Kitchen
Tex Mex Cream Cheese Wontons with Bacon by Shaws Simple Swaps
Blue Cheese Blitz Dip by Cafe Terra
Chicken Adobo Fries by Brunch-n-Bites
Game Day Candy Bark by Life's Ambrosia
Chicken Teriyaki Pizza by Loves Food, Loves to Eat
High Seas Sour Cherry Slush by Lizzy is Dizzy
Buffalo Chicken Deviled Eggs by Casa de Crews
Avery Williamson American Cake by Loaves & Dishes
Game Day Sriracha-Honey Nut Mix by An Oregon Cottage
Double-Stuffed Potato Skins by A Simpler Grace
Red Skin Potato Chili Nachos by A Joyfully Mad Kitchen

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Dan Dan Noodles (30 minute recipe!)

This savory, creamy, and slightly peanuty noodle dish is like a combination of all your favorite Asian dishes! It's family friendly and weeknight friendly, too!

I'm not going to pretend that this noodle dish isn't completely Americanized. It totally is. But it's sooo good and super simple to whip up even after a busy workday. I actually made this for dinner the night before I left for summer camp a couple of months ago. I knew I'd be eating more than my share of kid friendly fare so I wanted something Asian inspired before loading up on the bus. This hit the spot! It was simple and fast (helpful, since I was packing at the last minute!) and SO tasty.

While the pasta cooks, you brown some ground beef and then simmer it in a sauce of peanut butter, soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, brown sugar, and more. All staple ingredients that you likely already have on hand! Start to finish, you're done in 30 minutes or less - including the time you're waiting on the water to boil. (Does anyone else get incredibly impatient waiting on water to boil?)

Time saving tip: use your microplane grater to grate the garlic cloves and ginger right over the pan! 

Dan Dan Noodles
12 ounces dried spaghetti noodles
1.5 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce (or more, to taste)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 pounds lean ground turkey or beef
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Cook the spaghetti noodles according to package directions. Once al dente, drain and rinse with cool water. Return the noodles to the pot and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the broth, peanut butter, soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, cornstarch, brown sugar, rice vinegar, and sesame oil until smooth. Set aside.

In a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, add the ground meat, salt, pepper, garlic, and ginger. Cook, breaking the meat into small pieces, until no longer pink, around 6-7 minutes. Drain any excess grease, leaving the meat in the pan.

Reduce the heat to medium, whisk the sauce to recombine, and pour the sauce over the drained meat. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the sauce has thickened slightly. Stir in the cilantro.

Pour the sauce over the pot of noodles and, using tongs, gently combine. Serve immediately.

Source: Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Philly Cheesesteaks

Wafer thin roast beef, caramelized onions, and sauteed bell peppers are piled into a hoagie roll and topped with melted provolone cheese. There's good reason why Philly is famous for these - they are delicious!

Over the summer, I hosted another round of chef camps for children and this year opted to cook from various regions of the country. For the north east, I sought recipes that I knew 5-7 year olds would be willing to try :) Since I'd never really made Philly Cheesesteaks (or, admittedly, been to Philly and tried an authentic one!), I went in search of one online that claimed to be authentic. I put it on our personal menu weeks out to try it and both me and my husband devoured them.

Oh. my. gosh. Perhaps one of the BEST sandwiches ever!! Plus, it's done in just one skillet in a few short minutes!

I knew the kids would love them, and they are incredibly easy to make, so I threw it on our chef camp menu. We opted on an onion and pepper free version for them and most scarfed it down. 

This recipe comes together amazingly fast because your deli does the hard work. You want to look for the rarest roast beef they have - ask the deli employee for help finding it. Because you're cooking the meat, you need it rare so you don't have dry, tough, overcooked beef on your sandwich. I also let the deli counter slice my provolone thin so that it would melt down easier. Pre-packaged would be fine but tends to be thicker.

Be sure and have all your ingredients ready as this comes together in 15 minutes or less!

Philly Cheesesteaks
4 large hoagie rolls
1 lb very rare deli roast beef, sliced wafer thin
1 white onion, thinly sliced
1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced (optional)
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 lb provolone cheese, thinly sliced

Heat a large pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, drizzle in olive oil until the bottom is thinly coated. Add the onions and bell peppers, if using, and cook, stirring occasionally, until caramelized. This will take 6-8 minutes. Once caramelized, add the minced garlic, salt, and pepper to the pan. Stir and cook for 30 seconds.

Push the onion/pepper mix to the side of the skillet and add the sliced meat to the remainder of the pan. Cook, flipping the meat and chopped it into smaller pieces with a spatula, until the beef is no longer pink, about 2 minutes. Mix the meat, peppers, and onions together and taste for proper seasoning. Lower the heat to low.

Divide the mixture into four piles in your pan - one for each hoagie roll. Take a look at the shape of your roll and try to replicate it as much as possible with your meat. This will make flipping it easier.

Top all 4 portions with equal amounts of provolone and allow to melt.

Gently hollow out some of the top half of a roll and place on top of the melted cheese. Repeat with the remaining 3 piles of beef. Once the roll adheres to the cheese, quickly flip it over and add the bottom half of the roll. Flip back over, so the top half is back on top, and serve immediately.

Source: adapted from

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Blueberry Peach Cornmeal Cobbler

Sweet summer fruit is baked under a simple cornmeal based crust. Don't say "so long" to summer yet!

Though Labor Day may mark the traditional end of summer, I refuse to comply :) The weather here is still very summery and summer fruit is not hard to find. Those of you who hit the farms this summer to stock up on your favorite fruit probably still have some frozen - I know I do!

After we went peach picking early this summer, I set out to make a couple cobbler recipes. One was a very cake-y version and an old favorite of ours. The other, I tried this cornmeal based recipe! Since we also picked blueberries alongside the peaches, I was lucky to use those, too, in this version.

The cornmeal topping is much thinner than a traditional crust and I absolutely loved the texture. The fruit is sweet and delicious! Cornmeal (like corn) has a natural sweetness that lends itself beautifully in a dessert.

Pull out the last bit of summer's bounty and whip up this delicious cobbler!

Blueberry Peach Cornmeal Cobbler
For the topping:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons cold butter
1/2 cup heavy cream or half & half

For the filling:
1.5 pounds peaches
1 cup blueberries
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 375 and lightly grease a 9-inch cake pan. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cut an X on both ends of the peaches. Quickly add the peaches to the water, let cook 30 seconds, then remove. Rinse the peaches in cold water then peel off the skin. Slice the peaches and remove the pits. You should have about 4 cups.

To make the topping, mix together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, sugar, salt, and cinnamon in a bowl. With knives, a pastry blender, or your hands, work the cold butter into the dry ingredients until it’s crumbly. Stir in the heavy cream until all ingredients are combined. The dough will be really sticky.

Place the peaches and blueberries in the greased cake pan. Add the lemon juice, sugar, cornstarch, and cinnamon to the fruit and toss gently so the fruit is well covered. Spoon the batter on top and bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until brown and bubbling.

Source: Homesick Texan

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Texas Toothpicks with Buttermilk Ranch

Crispy jalapeno sticks are quickly fried in a tempura batter and served with a quick and easy homemade buttermilk ranch dressing for dipping. The perfect addition to your next tailgate party!

Though we live in Panther territory now, my husband is still a HUGE Cowboys fan! You can take the Texan out of Texas but you can't take their football team from them :) Obviously anything football related in our house gets themed to our home state so I chose to make a popular Texas appetizer as my tailgate recipe! 

Texas Toothpicks are simply tempura jalapeno sticks - inexpensive, easy to make, and addictive! Texans love ranch so of course it's best dipped in a creamy, cool buttermilk ranch dressing. This ranch takes just a few staple ingredients and about 5 minutes to make.

The toothpicks are crispy on the outside, with a soft jalapeno inside, and, since you remove the stems and seeds, very little heat. 

This is the perfect snack to share while cheering on America's Team! 

Psst - 1 pound of jalapenos is a LOT. Feel free to cut it down for a smaller crowd!

Texas Toothpicks with Buttermilk Ranch
For the toothpicks:
1 lb jalapenos, stemmed, seeded, and sliced into long thin strips
1 cup all purpose flour
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup cold beer
vegetable oil, for frying

For the ranch (best prepared 2+ hours in advance and refrigerated):
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup mayo (not Miracle Whip!)
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1.5 teaspoons dried dill
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper, to taste

To make the toothpicks, preheat the oil in a Dutch oven or deep pot until it reaches 365 degrees.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, eggs, and spices. Slowly pour in the beer and gently whisk together, being careful to not eliminate all the bubbles.

Once the oil is ready, dip each jalapeno strip in the batter until well coated and carefully place it in the oil. Fry several at a time, being careful to not overcrowd the pot.

Let fry until golden brown and crispy on all sides. It will not reach a deep brown color. Remove with a slotted spoon onto a paper towel lined plate. Salt, to taste, while hot. Continue with remaining strips.

To make the ranch dressing, whisk together all ingredients in a medium bowl. Taste and adjust seasonings, if needed. If too thick, add a touch of buttermilk to thin slightly. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours to help flavors meld. Can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.

Just in time for football season, I've joined a group of bloggers from all over the country to bring you 64 tailgating recipes for your next football party. Click on their links below to join in!

Note: This post is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by the National Football League (NFL) or any of its teams. All opinions and views expressed on our blogs are our own, not that of the NFL and/or any of its 32 teams. Any team names, logos or other symbols referenced are properties of their respective organizations. We are just big fans — and we want to share our love for our teams, the game and the food that brings us all together on game day.

64 recipes for the perfect football tailgate! Check out everything from appetizer recipes, entree recipes, cocktail recipes, dessert recipes, side dish recipes and more to cheer on your team! #foodiefootballfans

Spicy Mexican Cheese Dip by 2 Cookin Mamas
Salsa Verde by A Dish of Daily Life
Skillet Sausage Dip by A Joyfully Mad Kitchen
Sausage, Peppers + Onions Pigs in a Blanket by A Little Gathering
Grilled Jalapeno Poppers by A Mind Full Mom
Beer & Brats Bake by A Simpler Grace
Black Bottom Maple Pecan Pie Bars by An Oregon Cottage
Crispy Baked Buffalo Wings by And She Cooks
Blackberry BBQ Sticky Wings by Around My Family Table
Cheesy Pull Apart Garlic Bread by Beer Girl Cooks
Black Bean & Corn Salsa by Body Rebooted
Roasted Garlic BBQ Chicken Wings Recipe by Bread Booze Bacon
Smoky Jalapeno Poppers by Brunch-n-Bites
Loaded Sweet Potato Nachos by Bucket List Tummy
Deconstructed Smoked Chicken Chile Relleno by Cafe Terra
Chicken Spinach & Artichoke Dip French Bread by Cake 'n Knife
Cuban Sandwich Quesadillas by Casa de Crews
Grilled Asparagus Spears by Celebrating Family
Sweet and Salty Blueberry Popcorn by Club Narwhal
Buffalo Chicken Poppers by Coffee Love Travel
Sea Bass Skewers + Blackbeard Cocktails by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
Buffalo Chicken Poppers by Dash of Herbs
Easy chicken roll ups with cream cheese and veggies by Family Food on the Table
Bottled Tailgate Cocktails by Feast + West
The Best Tex-Mex Arrachera Fajitas by Foodal
Loaded Guacamole by foodbyjonister
Cincinnati Nachos by Foodtastic Mom
Cajun Red Beans and Andouille Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms by For the Love of Food
Grilled Shrimp Pizza by Glisten and Grace
Mini Bell Pepper Nachos by Hello Little Home
Slow Cooker Sweet Spicy Meatballs by Honey & Birch
BBQ Chicken Wontons by Lauren's Kitchen
Loaded Tailgate Tots by Life's Ambrosia
Ricotta & Fig Bites by Living Well Kitchen
Tailgate Tacos by Lizzy is Dizzy
Nashville Hot Chicken Wings by Loaves & Dishes
Cincinnati Chili Dip by Love & Flour
{Slow Cooker} BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches by Love Bakes Good Cakes
Tailgate Bloody Marys by Loves Food, Loves to Eat
Sweet Korean Chicken Wings by Macheesmo
Bacon Wrapped Tater Tots by Me and My Pink Mixer
Beer Sangria by Mixplorology
Crab Pretzels by Mom's Messy Miracles
Hot Bacon Dip by Nik Snacks
Build Your Own Bloody Mary Bar by Off the Eaten Path
Chowder Stuffed Jalapeno Poppers by Order in the Kitchen
Old Fashioned Sweet by Peanut Blossom
Baked Mac and Cheese Cups by Polka Dotted Blue Jay
Texas Toothpicks with Buttermilk Ranch by See Aimee Cook
Pretzel Turkey Meatballs (GF, DF, SF) by Shaws Simple Swaps
Hearty Vegetable Chili by Simple and Savory
Focaccia Pizza by Simplify, Live, Love
Sweet Potato Skins Stuffed with BBQ Ranch Pulled Pork by Sustaining the Powers
Bacon-Wrapped Cheeseburger Bites by The BakerMama
Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad by The Creative Bite
German Potato Skins by The Crumby Cupcake
Old Bay Trail Mix by The Culinary Compass
Meat Lover's Pizza Bites by The Life Jolie
Raspberry Chipotle Black Bean Dip by The Mexitalian
Grilled Asian Chicken Wings & Shishito Peppers by The Secret Ingredient Is
Blackened Shrimp Tacos by The Speckled Palate
Honeydew Melon Refresher by Two Places at Once
Grilled Sauerkraut Stuffed Brats by West via Midwest
Sausage Apple and Sage Hand Pies by What A Girl Eats

Thursday, August 25, 2016

One Pot Mac and Cheese

This super creamy mac & cheese is cooked in just one pot - noodles and all! Who doesn't love a big bowl of mac & cheese?

Typically when I cook dinner, I look for the most efficient way of making a dish - without sacrificing any flavor. Not only do I just prefer to have less pots on the stove, but I also know my husband appreciates it when he does the dishes later that night. I know I can't be the only one so I was stoked to find a true one-pot recipe for macaroni and cheese.

I'm a huge mac & cheese person; I will happily order it at my favorite noodle place as my lunch and never miss the meat and veggies. But making it at home can be a drag, especially if I'm doing a baked version. The roux, the cheese sauce, the noodles, it all just seems to take a lot of effort after a long workday.

This version cooks completely on the stove and in one pot. Now, it does require some attention; you will have to stir constantly and it will thicken quite a bit once it begins to cool so it's not the best recipe to take to a potluck. A baked mac & cheese is perfect for that occasion ;) But if you're looking for a quick side dish, this is the mac & cheese for you. We LOVED it.

It's incredibly creamy and cheesy - two things that are important for a good mac & cheese!

One Pot Mac & Cheese
1 pound small pasta
~3 cups water
2-3 cups low fat milk
1 teaspoon mustard powder
2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon garlic powder
8 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
Fresh ground pepper, to taste

Place the dry pasta in a colander and rinse under water. Let drain.

In a medium pot, combine the water and drained pasta. Place on medium heat and bring to a low simmer. Stir frequently!

Once simmering, add 2 cups of the milk and bring it back to a simmer then turn the heat to low immediately. Continuing stirring frequently to avoid the milk burning to the bottom of your pan. As you stir, add additional milk as needed to ensure the pasta does not dry out. Depending upon the pasta and milk you use, you may need to add quite a bit more milk to keep the pasta cooking. Cook about 10 minutes or until the pasta is tender and the milk mostly absorbed but not completely gone.

When the pasta is cooked, add the mustard powder, salt, and cheddar. Stir until evenly melted into the pasta. Add more milk, if needed, to loosen. Taste and adjust salt and add pepper.

Remove from heat and serve immediately. It will begin to thicken quickly once it starts to cool off.

Source: adapted from Plain Chicken and White on Rice Couple

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Loose Meat Sandwiches (aka Maid-Rites)

An Iowa classic! Seasoned ground beef, topped with mustard and pickles, is served on a hamburger bun. This Midwest favorite is easily whipped up in 30 minutes (or less!).

Y'all... I must admit that one of my very favorite sitcoms is Roseanne. I've seen every episode a bajillion times and can't help but stop and watch it anytime it's on. Except the season after they win the lottery; it's a disgrace. If you're unfamiliar with Roseanne, a major plot-line is that Roseanne opens a loosemeat sandwich restaurant. Incidentally, the restaurant they based it off is located in Iowa - home of the loosemeat sandwich!

Though originally created at a restaurant in Sioux City, Iowa, Maid-Rite made them famous (and more readily available) which is why many people just called them "Maid-Rites" now.

Over the summer, I hosted two cooking camps for kids and each day we cooked from a different region. We made this on the Midwest day and they were a hit! They couldn't be easier, either ;) My kids not only loved making them, but they also loved eating them for lunch!

Serve them with a spoon so you can shovel in all that goodness that will fall right out of your bun!

Loose Meat Sandwiches
1 lb ground sirloin
1 tablespoon Crisco
2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
water, to cover
pepper, to taste
hamburger buns, buttered and toasted
yellow mustard, for serving
dill pickle slices, for serving

In a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat, melt the Crisco. Once melted, lightly salt the bottom of the pan. Add the beef and, using a wooden spoon, break up the meat until it's small crumbles. Add the chopped onion and cook, mixing it into the beef, until the onions are softened and the beef is browned.

Once it's browned, drain off any fat and return the skillet to the heat. Add the mustard, vinegar, sugar, and just enough water to barely cover the meat.

Cook, at a simmer, until the water is cooked out, about 15-20 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Scoop the beef onto the toasted buns and then top with mustard and pickles. Serve with a spoon - you'll need it!

Source: slightly adapted from

See Aimee Cook

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