Friday, October 23, 2009

Stuffed Shells

This is a recipe I got from a friend (Thanks, Tish!) after she brought it to dinner one night at our LIFE group.  It was quite delicious when she made it and Reese really enjoyed it. I have been wanting to try it out, so when I was making the menu for this 2-week period, I added it (even tho it means we are having 'Italian' dishes like 3 times in 2 weeks).  It is a very tasty dish! Even the boys, who "don't like cheese", enjoyed it, and it's a great way to get them to eat their spinach!  :)


10 oz frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
16 oz cottage (or Ricotta) cheese
1 cup shredded Mozzarella (divided)
1 red pepper, chopped (optional)
1 egg white
1 envelope of Italian dressing
20 jumbo macaroni shells, cooked, drained and cooled
1 jar/can (26 oz) spaghetti sauce

- Heat oven to 400 degrees. Mix spinach, cheeses, pepper, egg white, and dressing mix until well blended; spoon into shells, about 1 heaping tablespoon in each.
- Spread 1/2 of spaghetti sauce in bottom of 13x9" baking dish. Arrange shells, filled side up, in baking dish; top with remaining sauce and mozzarella. Cover with foil.
- Bake 40 minutes, or until heated thru, removing foil after 30 minutes.

Since the boys "don't like cheese", I only put the extra mozzarella on half the dish.

~ Serve with hot, crusty, garlic bread and a fresh green salad.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Chicken 'n Dumplings

Skylar's 'special request' for the menu this week was chicken 'n dumplings. I had never made them before, but I knew that my mom had made them with flour tortillas before (and I just happened to have some on hand), so I searched the internet for a recipe. I didn't find one I liked, but I did modify/blend a few of them to come up with this...


3 lb chicken
S & P as desired
1 can cream of chicken soup, undiluted
1 cup sliced carrots (optional)
1 cup sliced celery (optional)
1/2 cup chopped vidalia onion
5 flour tortillas, cut into squares resembling dumplings
32 oz container of chicken broth (in addition to stock from cooking chicken)

- Boil chicken & veggies with salt & pepper until done (or combine all in pressure cooker and pressure for 20-25 minutes). Save stock.
- Let cool and debone chicken; tear or chop and set aside.
- Add cream of chicken to chicken stock and bring to a boil.
- Drop tortilla squares in boiling stock/soup a few at a time. Add extra chicken broth as needed to ensure plenty of fluid (tortillas will soak up fluid as they "swell" into dumplings). Boil for 4-5 minutes.
- Add chicken and veggies and mix well.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Chocolate Chip Bars

Skylar was home from school today due to a fever. He was pretty bored and I was determined not to let him just watch Disney/Nickelodeon all day. We decided to bake.  I had a recipe for chocolate chip bars I had been wanting to try out, so that's what we did.  The recipe comes from the back of a bag of Hershey's chocolate chips. We just followed the 'pan recipe'.

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups (12 oz pkg) Semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

- Heat oven to 375 degrees
- Stir together flour, baking soda, and salt. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla in a large bowl with mixer until creamy. Add eggs; beat well. Gradually add flour mixture, beating well. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts, if desired.
- Spread batter in greased 15-1/2x10-1/2x1 inch jelly-roll pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely;cut into bars (* I used a pizza cutter...made it super easy to cut straight!).

Makes about 4 dozen bars

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Chicken Cacciatore

I got this recipe from a friend in our LIFE group. She made it one night when we had Italian, and Reese loved it. Priscilla got the recipe to me about a month ago and Reese has been waiting for me to make it. It's fairly easy and pretty yummy.

5-6 boneless chicken thighs (or in may case, 3 can of premium chicken breast chunks)
bay leaf
8 oz mozzarella cheese, cubed
16 oz  cheddar cheese, shredded
a big can of Durkey fried onions ( i used generic brand)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can of cream of celery soup
1/2 cup chopped celery or 1 tsp celery seed
1/2 cup chopped onion or 1 tsp dried onion
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
8 oz spaghetti noodles

- Boil chicken in water with Bay leaf, then pick meat off the bone (not shred it)  [*okay, so here is where i 'cheated'. i used canned chicken and just used a knife to cut the chicken chunks into smaller pieces.]
- Save water and boil noodles in it [well, i just boiled my noodles in salt water since i didn't cook the chicken]. Drain water.
- In a large bowl, mix all ingredients except fried onions and cheddar cheese.
- Pour mixture into a 11x13" baking dish.
- Top with cheddar cheese
- Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
- Add fried onions and bake another 5 minutes, or until onions are brown.

This makes alot, probably about 8-10 servings.  I served it tonight with steamed broccoli.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Vegetable Soup

The weather has been gloomy and some of us have been feeling pretty 'yucky' too, so I thought a good pot of veggie soup would be nice to have for dinner tonight. I went ahead and started it around noon since I wanted it to simmer for a few hours and Blane has a football game this afternoon. Now the soup will be ready when we get home from the game around 6:30 tonight. In the past, I have made a hot pan of cornbread to go with this soup, but the general consensus yesterday was to have crackers with it. I made todays soup in a pot on the stove-top, but I have made it in the crock pot in the past...will just depend on your prefernce. You can use veggies that are already cooked/canned, so it doesn't have to be an "all day" crock pot endeavor. I have been known to just throw in all sorts of leftovers in my 'vegetable' soup.

2 pounds of ground beef (or any meat you want to use...leftover ham works well too)
2 pkgs frozen veggies
1 can crushed tomatoes in puree
1 can cut green beans
1 can whole kernal corn
some beef broth (i had abt half a container left over from another recipe in the fridge that i used)
2 cups water
S & P to taste
5-6 med potatoes, diced (or you can use canned potatoes, just dice them if they are whole)
1 medium onion, chopped
1-2 Tbsp Worchestershire
chopped cabbage (as much or little as you like)

- Brown meat in skillet; drain well
- In a large pot, combine meat and all other remainig ingredients and cook until veggies are tender

Serve with hot cornbread or crackers
Leftovers can be frozen

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Pound Cake

Well, today was my first attempt at making a pound cake.  A dear friend has let me borrow her KitchenAid stand mixer for a while (thanks, Heather!) and I couldn't wait to use it!  I was like a kid at Christmas. Seriously, kinda sad.  :)  Anyway, I have been wanting to try my hand at making a pound cake for a bit, and found a recipe from Paula Deen that seemed simple enough. I am having some ladies over tomorrow night for a "girls night out" and thought it would be great to have pound cake for them. Boy, am I glad I made the cake today so I will have the chance to make another one tomorrow! My first pound cake turned out very gooey in the center.  It was still quite tasty.  I had my parents and my grandmother over for cake and coffee (not knowing until I cut it that it was so gooey).  By the time the five of us finished, half the cake was gone,  so it wasn't a complete failure.  :)    Now I know what to do differently next time..
Here's the recipe I used...

Paula Deen's Southwest Georgia Pound Cake

2 tsp pure vanilla extract (may use either lemon or almond)
1 cup heavy cream
3 cups sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
6 eggs
2 sticks of butter

- Generously grease and flour a 10" bundt or tube pan (I just used a tube pan)
- Using an electric mizer, cream butter and sugar together until fluffy
- Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition
- Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt
- Alternately add flour mixture & heavy cream to butter/sugar mix, beginning and ending with flour
- Stir in flavoring
- Pour batter into prepared pan
- Place in a cold oven, then set oven to 325 degrees and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes without opening the oven door. Bake up to an additional 15 minutes if needed (**this is where I think I went wrong. The cake looked great, but I didn't 'test' it. Next time, I'm going to cook it at 350 degrees and I WILL BE TESTING it to see if it needs a little longer.  I don't want another gooey cake**)
- Remove from oven and cool in pan for 15 minutes
- Invert cake onto plate