Friday, December 16, 2011

Unstuffed Shells

Wow, it's been two months since I posted!  I've kind of been in a rut with making the same recipes and the few new ones I've tried haven't been worth posting.  Until I made this!  The orginal recipe can be found here on the Kraft website.  This is going to be a regular meal in our house!  I made garlic bread and veggies to go with it.  I had leftovers for lunch the next day and I can't remember the last time I've been so excited for what I brought for lunch!

Unstuffed Shells

4 cups medium pasta shells, uncooked
1 lb.  extra-lean ground beef
1 jar (24 oz.) marinara sauce
1 tub  (10 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Original Cooking Creme
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil.  I used dried basil.  I didn't really measure it but I would estimate that I used around a tablespoon or a little more. 
1/4 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
1-1/2 cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
Small onion or green pepper, chopped (optional)
Cook pasta as directed on package, omitting salt. Meanwhile, brown meat in a large skillet. If using an onion or green pepper, cook it with the beef.  Stir in marinara sauce; simmer on medium heat 2 min. Remove from heat. 

Drain pasta. Mix cooking creme, basil and Parmesan in large bowl; stir in pasta. Spread half the meat sauce onto bottom of 13x9-inch baking dish sprayed with cooking spray; cover with layers of pasta mixture and remaining meat sauce. Sprinkle with mozzarella; cover with foil. 

Bake at 375 for 30 minutes.  Take foil off after 20 minutes.

The recipe says you could refrigerate this for 24 hours before baking.  Then you would bake for 40-45 minutes, taking the foil off after 30 minutes. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Beer Dip

I've tried a few new recipes in the past couple of weeks but nothing worth sharing so I thought I would share my beer dip recipe since it's been a couple weeks since I posted.  Well it's not actually my beer dip recipe.  I originally got it a couple years ago from someone I work with.  I've also been told it's the same beer dip recipe that's on the Taste of Home website.  Nonetheless, it's an awesome beer dip and I've gotten a lot of compliments on it since I usually make it for family get-togethers.  It's usually one of the first things to go!    My kids even love it when I make beer dip!  After eating some, my four year old usually says "I love beer!"

Beer Dip

2  8oz blocks of cream cheese.  I have used low-fat and it still tastes good!
1 packet of Hidden Valley Ranch dry seasoning
shredded cheddar cheese (the amount depends on your preference)
1/2-3/4 can of beer  (In my opinion a heavy beer tastes better in the beer dip then a light one but that is totally up to your preference.)
Pretzels for dipping.  Or you could use crackers or vegetables.

Mix together all ingredients.  Put it in a bowl or serving dish and put some cheddar cheese on top if desired.  I also mix in a little bit of shredded cheddar cheese into the dip.  I pour the beer in a little bit at a time to get  the dip to the consistency and taste that I want.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Mexican Chicken Casserole

This is a really easy and yummy chicken casserole recipe.  It's so easy my husband can even make it!  The original recipe came from the Kraft Foods website.  I usually don't add the tomato because others in my family don't like tomatoes, although I think I will one of these times because I don't think they would even notice it.  I also leave the green pepper out if I don't have one on hand. 

Mexican Chicken Casserole
3/4 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
1 tsp ground cumin
1 green pepper, chopped
1-1/2 cups Thick 'N Chunky Salsa
2 oz. (1/4 of 8-oz. pkg.) cream cheese, cubed
1 can  (15 oz.)  black beans, rinsed
1 tomato, chopped
tortillas (6 inch)
1/2 cup  Mexican Style Shredded Cheese, divided

HEAT oven to 375ºF.
COOK and stir chicken and cumin in nonstick skillet on medium heat 2 min. Add peppers; cook 2 min., stirring occasionally. Stir in salsa; cook 2 min. Add cream cheese; cook 2 min. or until melted. Stir in beans and tomatoes.
SPOON 1/3 of chicken mixture into 8-inch square baking dish; cover with 1 tortilla and half each of the remaining chicken mixture and shredded cheese. Top with remaining tortilla and chicken mixture; cover.
BAKE 20 min. or until heated through. Sprinkle with remaining shredded cheese; bake, uncovered, 5 min. or until melted.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Spaghetti a la Philly

This is my most current favorite meal!  The original recipe can be found at Mommy's Kitchen.  I've made this twice in the last two weeks and it's a hit with the kids as well!  I think this would also be good as a meatless meal and plan on making it like that in the near future.

Spaghetti a la Philly
1 - lb lean ground beef, browned & drained
1 jar (24 -26 oz) Spaghetti Sauce
1/2 package (4 ounces) cream cheese, cut into cubes
1 - (8 ounces) pkg spaghetti, cooked and drained (I usually use whole wheat pasta.)
2 - tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Cook the beef in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until well browned, stirring often to separate meat. Pour off any fat. Stir the sauce and cream cheese in the skillet. Reduce the heat to low. Cook for 3 minutes or until the cream cheese is melted, stirring often. Place the spaghetti into a large bowl. Add the beef mixture and toss to coat. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and serve.

Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Makes: 4 servings
(about 1 1/2 cups each)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Debdoozie's Blue Ribbon Chili

This is our favorite chili recipe. Or I should say our favorite beef chili recipe because we also have a favorite chicken chili recipe. The original recipe can be found here. It's easy to make, doesn't take a lot of ingredients and tasts so good! I've also made this in the crock pot and let it cook on low for a few hours. Sometimes I also make some noodles, either spagetti noodles or elbow macaroni, on the side to add to the chili if desired.

Debdoozie's Blue Ribbon Chili

2 lbs ground beef (sometimes I only use 1 lb)
1/2 onion, chopped
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic salt
2 1/2 cups tomato sauce
1 (8 oz) jar salsa
4 tablespoons chili seasoning mix ( I use one chili seasoning packet)
1 (15 oz) can light red kidney beans
1 (15 oz) can dark red kidney beans

In a large saaucepan over medium heat, combine the ground beef and the onion and saute for 10 minutes or until meat is browned and onion is tender. Drain grease.

Add the ground black pepper, garlic salt, tomato sauce, salsa, chili seasoning mix, and kidney beans. Mix well, reduce heat to low and simmer for at least an hour.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Strawberry Pancakes

I make pancakes for my kids about once a week. Usually we make chocolate chip, but I wanted to try something new. My kids love strawberries so I thought this would be a good fit for them...and it was! I got this recipe from mommy hates cooking. This recipe made about double the amount of pancakes we needed. We ate them as leftovers a couple days later and they were still good, but if you don't want leftovers it should be fine to halve this recipe.

Strawberry Pancakes

2 cups baking mix
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1/2 cup chopped strawberries

Combine baking mix, milk, and eggs until well mixed. Mix in the strawberries. Cook on a skillet over medium heat. Top with syrup if desired.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Rockin' Salsa

Today was the day!! I canned my first batch of salsa for the year!

This is my third year canning salsa. If you have never canned, it's not a hard thing to do but it can be time consuming depending on what you are canning. Canning salsa is a little more tedious and time consuming then something like pickles.

This is the recipe I've been using for the past three years.

It's versatile as in you can alter the onions and peppers you use as well as the amount of spices you put in. There's been times I only used yellow onions because that's what I had on hand. As for peppers, I usually use Anaheim peppers as well as the three green peppers. With this current batch I used some hot peppers my mom gave me from her garden. Sorry! I can't remember what kind they were. So you can adjust the peppers to the spice level you prefer. I also adjust the spices and add a little extra cumin and cayenne pepper because I like spice!

I'm going to post the recipe as written, but just keep in mind you can change it up a bit.

Rockin' Salsa

1 red onion, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 white onion, chopped

6 lbs fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped. If you have never peeled tomatoes, allrecipes has great step by step instructions here:

2 banana peppers, chopped
3 green bell peppers, chopped
18 oz tomato paste. I usually get a 12 oz and 6 oz can.
1/2 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
8 pint canning jars with lids and rings-I've only ever gotten 7 pints out of this recipe.
You will also need a canning pot and other supplies like a jar grabber and magnetic wand are also helpful.

1. Combine red onion, yellow onion, white onion, tomatoes, banana peppers, green peppers, tomato paste, white vinegar, garlic powder, salt, cayenne pepper, cumin, brown sugar, and white sugar in a large pot. Simmer until thick, about 3 hours.

2. Sterilize the jars, lids, and rings in boiling water for at least 5 minutes. You can also do this in the dishwasher and just put the lids and rings in a small saucepan of boiling water. Pack the salsa in the hot, sterilized jars, filling the jars to within 1/4 inch of the top. Run a knife or a thin spatula around the insides of the jars after they been filled, to remove any air bubbles. Wipe the rims of the jars with a moist paper towel to remove any food residue. Top the jars with lids and screw on rings.

3. Fill the canning pot with water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Start heating the water about an hour before it's needed. It takes quite a while to get this large amount of water to boil. Also keep it covered to contain the heat inside the pot. Carefully lower the jars into the pot using the jar grabber. Pour in more boiling water if necessary until the water level is at least 1 inch above the tops of the jars. Bring the water to a full boil. Process for 10-15 minutes.

4. Remove the jars and place onto a cloth or wood covered surface, several inches apart, until cool. Once cool, press the top of each lid with a finger, ensuring that the seal is tight. Refrigerate after opening.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Baked Banana Oatmeal

I recently came across this recipe on Lynn's Kitchen Adventures. It was a big hit with my kids the first time I made it. This recipe makes a lot of oatmeal so I'm thinking about halving it the next time I make it. We ate the leftovers a couple days later and it reheated well and tasted just as good as the first day.

Baked Banana Oatmeal

3 cups quick cooking oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 eggs
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup mashed banana or about 3 bananas
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Mix all ingredients together and stir well. Spread in a greased 9x13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. If you like it a little crunchy on top, cook for a few minutes longer. You can serve this with warm milk poured over top.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Oriental Salad

This is an awesome salad that my sister recently brought to a family get together. I've had Oriental salad before and always like them, but this is the best one I've tasted! Thanks for the recipe Whitney!

Oriental Salad

1 cup of oil
1/2 cup sugar
2 pkgs beef ramen noodle seasoning

Make dressing a day in advance and refrigerate over night.

1 lb packaged coleslaw salad mix
2 pkgs beef ramen noodles (crushed)
1 cup salted sunflower seeds
1 cup slivered almonds

Break up noodles and mix dry ingredients together. Mix the dressing in with the dry ingredients and chill.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Glazed Dijon Carrots

This is a good carrot recipe I came across last year on allrecipes. I typically make frozen veggies since they are so easy, but this recipe is worth the "extra" work. This recipe calls for baby carrots but I have made this using regular carrots as well.

Glazed Dijon Carrots

1 (16 oz) package of baby carrots.
1/2 cup water
3 TBSP butter or margarine
2 TBSP brown sugar
1 TBSP Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp salt

In a saucepan, bring carrots and water to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and cook 10-12 minutes or until carrots are tender. Drain. Place carrots in a serving dish and keep warm. In the same pan, melt butter. Add brown sugar, mustard, ginger and salt. Cook and stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Pour over carrots and toss to coat.

Another Zucchini Bread Recipe

This is another zucchini bread recipe I recently made. I found this recipe on
I like to read the reviews on recipes before I make them, and this one had good reviews. It calls for a cup of oil and some reviewers said that was too much and substituted 1/2 cup of the oil for applesauce. So that is what I tried as well. It still tasted good but I thought it was a little dry. The kids loved it though. I didn't add the walnuts to this recipe, mainly because I didn't have any. I did add chocolate chips though! Maybe that's why the kids liked it so much!

Zucchini Bread

3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil or 1/2 cup vegetable oil and 1/2 cup applesauce
2 cups sugar
2 cups shredded zucchini
2 tsp vanilla
3 cups flour
3 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour two 8x4 inch loaf pans.

In a large bowl, beat eggs until light and frothy. Mix in oil and sugar. Stir in zucchini and vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and nuts or chocolate chips. Stir into the egg mixture. Divide batter into prepared pans.

Bake 60 minutes.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies

This was a tasty treat the girls and I made for my mom for her birthday. This recipe came from a Betty Crocker email I got. When I bake, I like to do it a little more "homemade" then this recipe, however, when I saw this recipe I knew it would be tasty and easy to make with the girls.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies

1 box (1 lb 2.4oz) Betty Crocker Original Supreme Premium brownie mix
Water, vegetable oil, and egg called for on brownie mix box
1 pouch ( 1 lb 1.5oz) Betty Crocker chocolate chip cookie mix
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 egg
1 container Betty Crocker Rich and Creamy chocolate frosting, if desired.

Heat oven to 350 degrees (325 degrees for dark or nonstick pan.) Spray bottom only of 13x9 inch pan with cooking spray. Make brownie mix as directed on box. Spread in pan.

Make cookie mix as directed on pouch, using butter and 1 egg. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls evenly onto brownie batter. Press down lightly.

Bake 42-47 minutes or until toothpick inserted 2 inches from side of pan comes out almost clean. Cool on cooling rack 30 minutes. Frost with frosting.

Taco Pasta

This was an easy and versatile recipe that I recently came across on Everyone seemed to like this. It's actually a "casserole" but I made it into a skillet meal to save some time. The original recipe says that you can use 16 oz of pasta and then add a can of rotel so it's not dry. That's what I did and I still thought it was a little dry. I added a little salsa and that seemed to help. I did not add the green chiles just because I thought the rotel added enough spice and the kids were going to be eating this. If not using the rotel, I would definitely add the chiles. Using 16 oz of pasta made a lot. If you don't want a lot of left overs, I would only use 8 oz of pasta.

Taco Pasta:

1 pound ground beef
1 package taco seasoning
1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
1 package (8 oz) shell macaroni, cooked and drained
1 can (4 oz) chopped green chiles
shredded cheddar cheese

In a skillet, brown ground beef over medium high heat. Drain and add taco seasoning, tomato sauce, and green chiles. Stir in cooked macaroni. At this point, you could either sprinkle some cheese on top and let melt and serve. Or, place in a 9x13 inch baking dish, top with cheese, and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until heated through.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

This is one of my favorite muffin recipes. It isn't a very healthy muffin so I don't make it often, but it sure is good! It could be put into a loaf pan as well. I got this recipe from my sister in law. It makes a lot of muffins so you could easily half the recipe. Or you could freeze some of the muffins to enjoy later! I did not use as much chocolate chips as the recipe calls for. I used one standard size 12 oz bag of chocolate chips, the original recipe called for 24 oz of chocolate chips. Last time I made this recipe, I got 44 regular sized muffins out if it.

4 1/2 cups flour
3 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
6 eggs
3 cups sugar
2 (15 oz) cans pumpkin
1 3/4 cups oil
1 bag of chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda in a bowl and set aside. In another large bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, pumpkin, and oil with an electric mixer. Add the dry ingredients and mix until moistened. Mix in the chocolate chips. Pour batter into greased muffin pans or use cupcake holders. Could also make mini muffins or bread. Bake approx 25 minutes for regular sized muffins, 12-15 minutes for mini muffins or 50-60 minutes for loaf pans. Ready when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes and remove from pans to completely cool.

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

The girls and I tried out a new recipe today to use up some zucchini. I got this recipe from a co-worker. She said it tasted like chocolate cake. She wasn't kidding either! This was so good! The girls couldn't get enough of it! I left the nuts out of the recipe. Mainly to save on calories and fat since I added chocolate chips. Next time I think I'm going to make muffins or mini muffins with this recipe. Then I can freeze the muffins and take them out as needed.

Chocolate Zucchini Bread:

3 beaten eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup oil
3 cups shredded zucchini
3 tsp vanilla
3 cups flour
3 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 heaping TBSP cocoa
chocolate chips (optional)
walnuts (optional)

Mix sugar, eggs, and oil. Add zucchini and vanilla. Sift dry ingredients together and add to first mixture. Fold in chocolate chips and nuts, if using. Pour into 2 large or 4 small bread pans, greased and floured. Bake 50-60 minutes for large pans and 30-35 minutes for small pans.

Baked Fish and Rice

This is a recipe given to me by a co-worker. I've made it several times and it turns out delicious every time. I use frozen tilapia for this recipe, which I thaw before I use it. But you could also use fresh tilapia or any type of white fish.

Baked Fish and Rice:

1 1/2 cup chicken broth
3/4 - 1 cup rice (minute rice) I usually use brown rice
1/2 tsp italian seasoning
1/4 tsp garlic powder
chopped frozen broccoli (about 8 0z) thawed
1 TBSP parmesan cheese
1/2 cheddar cheese
French onions
Any whitefish (tilapia, cod,) thawed

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix rice, broth, and seasonings.

Bake 10 minutes and remove from oven

Add broccoli, few french fried onions, and parmesan cheese. Stir.

Put fish on top of rice. Season fish if desired.

Bake covered for 20-25 minutes. Less if fish is thin.

Stir rice. Add cheese and french onions to top of fish.

Bake 3 minutes.

Brat 'n tot bake

One of our family favorites. Original recipe taken from

1 lb uncooked bratwurst, casings removed
1 medium onion, chopped
1 can (10 3/4 oz) condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 (16oz) container of sour cream
tater tots
shredded cheddar cheese

Crumble bratwurst into a large skillet. Add onion. Cook over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in the soup. Transfer to a greased 13x9 inch baking dish or a 2qt casserole dish. Top with sour cream and then a single layer of tater tots. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Hamburger Vegetable Soup

1 lb ground beef
4 cups chicken broth
4 cups water
2 (1 ounce) packages dry onion soup mix
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 (16 ounce) package frozen mixed vegetables
3/4 cup elbow macaroni*

In a saute pan, brown ground beef over medium heat

Meanwhile, in a large stock pot, combine broth, water, onion soup mix, tomato sauce, celery, onion, frozen vegetables and macaroni. Bring to a boil and then simmer until macaroni is done.

Add browned ground beef, mix, and serve.

*Lacey's note-I used 1 1/4 cup macaroni. It turned out fine with that amount, but could have had a little more broth. Maybe add a little more water or chicken broth if you are going to add more macaroni.

Strawberry Freezer Jam

2 cups crushed strawberries (can use a potato masher to crush)
4 cups sugar
1 (1.75 oz) package dry pectin
3/4 cup water
Freezable containers

Mix crushed strawberries with sugar and let stand for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, stir the pectin into the water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and boil for 1 minute. Stir the boiling water into the strawberries. Allow to stand for 3 minutes before pouring into jars or other storage containers.

Place tops on the containers and leave for 24 hrs. Place into freezer and store frozen until ready to use. Recipe makes 5 8oz containers.

All those Cucumbers!

My cucumber plants have done great this year! So great that I have more cucumbers then I know what to do with. In an effort not to let any go to waste, I canned bread and butter pickles twice and have made refrigerator pickles several times already. This is currently my favorite refrigerator pickle recipe. So good and so easy!

Refrigerator Pickles:

1 medium onion, sliced thin
1 large or 2 smaller cucumbers, wash and slice thin
1/2 cup vinegar
5 TBSP water
5 TBSP sugar
1/2 tsp salt
ground pepper to taste

Mix onion and cucumber. In a separate bowl, mix vinegar, water, sugar, salt, and pepper. Pour over onions and cucumbers. Cover and refrigerate 24 hours before serving.