Saturday, January 30, 2010

American Lasagna

I’m not really sure why this is called “American” Lasagna versus “Italian” Lasagna.  All I know is that it is very good and pretty easy to assemble.  I think you can impress your friends by making homemade lasagna and not have to put TOO much effort into it!  This also freezes really well – I made it when I was pregnant and froze it so we could eat it after the baby came.  Just line the pan with foil before you start filling it, cook the lasagna, and remove and freeze.  When you are ready to eat, heat until bubbling.  This is from the All Recipes Cookbook.


-1.5 lbs ground beef

-1 onion, chopped

-2 cloves garlic, minced (or a little garlic powder instead)

-1 Tbsp chopped fresh basil (or 1 tsp dried)

-1 tsp dried oregano

-2 Tbsp brown sugar

-1.5 tsp salt

-1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes

-2 (6 oz) cans tomato paste

-12 dried lasagna noodles

-2 eggs, beaten

-2 cups ricotta cheese

-1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

-2 Tbsp dried parsley

-1 tsp salt

-1 pound mozzarella cheese, shredded

-2 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese

1.  In a medium skillet over medium heat, brown ground beef, onion and garlic; drain fat.  Mix in basil, oregano, brown sugar, 1.5 tsp salt, diced tomatoes, and tomato paste.  Simmer for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally. (This makes a great spaghetti sauce on it’s own too!)


2.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.  Add lasagna noodles and cook for 5-8 minutes or until al dente; drain.  Lay noodles flat on towels and blot dry.**See note at bottom.**

3.  In a medium bowl, mix together eggs, ricotta 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, parsley and 1 tsp salt.


4.  Layer 4 lasagna noodles in a 9x13 baking  dish.  Cover noodles with half ricotta mixture, half of the mozzarella cheese, and one third of the sauce.  Repeat.  Top with remaining noodles and sauce.  Sprinkle remaining cheeses and parmesan cheese over the top.


(This is my “station” to put everything together.  Line it all up and it’s much easier.)

5.  Bake in the preheated over 30 minutes.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving.


**While the sauce is cooking, you can do the two other steps of cooking the noodles and mixing the cheeses together.  That way all of your parts will be done at the same time, leaving you only a 30-45 minute prep for this dish plus a 30 minute cook time.  Home baked lasagna in an hour?  Yes please!!  I added a freshly made baguette too.  :)


Thursday, January 21, 2010


This recipe is from my Dad. It's another great way to get your family to eat vegetables in disguise! Sorry I didn't get any pictures of this one. It went too fast!

-Olive oil
-Seasoned Salt (I use Lawry's)
-Parmesan cheese, grated
**There are no measurements for the ingredients because you can use as much or as little as you like!**

1. When picking your zucchini, make sure and get the smaller ones - they are sweeter. I try to find all the same size. The amount depends on you. We tend to eat 2 each per night, so that would be 4 zucchini total for us. You are cutting them in half, so you get 2 servings out of each zucchini.

2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash zucchini and cut lengthwise. Place on a large cookie sheet or sheet pan and brush the tops with olive oil. Season with salt. You can use as much or as little as you like. **If you have little ones and you don't want them to have salt, you can skip this step and just top with cheese.**

3. Cook for 15 minutes or until zucchini is tender. As soon as you pull them out of the oven, top each half with Parmesan cheese (in our house, we PILE IT ON!). The cheese will melt as the zucchini sits.

4. Enjoy!

Monday, January 18, 2010

A First Attempt at Bread

I recently bought a book called "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day" by Jeff Hertzberg. I love bread but refuse to knead it or spend much time on it so this was perfect! It's a great concept - you make a "wet" dough that stays in the fridge up to 2 weeks. As it sits, it ages and gets more flavor. Sadly, my dough doesn't seem quite wet enough for this first try, so it's a little doughy, but I'm going to keep trucking along. Here is my first loaf. Doesn't it make YOU want to keep trucking along?????

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Quick Side Dish: Pink Salad

"Salad" to me means greens, dressing, croutons, etc. "Salad" in the Deep South means Jell-O and Cool Whip. And I'm okay with that! This is a quick side dish for any meal. Recipe is from my mother-in-law.

-1 tub Cool Whip

-3 oz Strawberry Jell-O

-8 oz fruit cocktail (drained)

-8 oz crushed pineapple (partially drained)

-4 oz mandarin oranges (drained)

-Mini marshmallows (we like them so I use half a bag!)

Mix together and refrigerate. Yummy!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Quick Hat

I crocheted a quick hat for my daughter during naptime yesterday. It only took me about 30 minutes and I think it turned out great. It's been so cold and I'm glad to have a hat that stays on her little head! These are for sale - please contact me for pricing. I'm working on getting an Etsy shop up and running.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Glazed Fall Vegetables

In my house, I have no problem getting my daughter to eat vegetables. She has never ever made a face at me or refused any of them. I do, however, have a hard time getting my husband to eat vegetables! I find that I need to hide them or get creative with them for him to eat them. When I saw this recipe in Southern Living in October, I figured he would go for it. It does involve Maple Syrup after all! This recipe goes great with the Chicken Pot Pie - they both cook at the same temperature too.

-2 sweet potatoes (about 2 lb)
-1 medium size baking potato (about 8 oz)
-1 medium size acorn squash (about 2 lb)
-4 carrots, cut into 1/2" slices
- 1/3 c firmly packed brown sugar
-2 Tbsp maple syrup
-2 Tbsp melted butter
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 425. Peel sweet potatoes and baking potato; cut into 1 inch cubes. Halve, peel, and seed acorn squash; cut into 1 inch cubes. Combine potatoes, squash and carrots in a large bowl.
(For those with little ones that don't want them to have sugar yet, you can pull some of the uncooked vegetables out and set them aside. I put them in a little container and steam them in the microwave a little at a time for dinner. And as you can see, it can be done during naptime, hence the monitor!)

2. Stir together brown sugar, maple syrup, and next 3 ingredients in a small bowl; pour over vegetable mixture, and toss well. Pour into a lightly greased roasting pan (I used a 9x13 glass pan instead).
3. Bake at 425 for 1 hour or until vegetables are tender and lightly browned, stirring every 20 minutes.

These are excellent! The sauce kind of goes to the bottom so make sure you scoop it up on top of the vegetables when you serve them! They have a great cinnamon taste with just a little sweet. So good!

Chicken Pot Pie

My Northern friends and relatives may laugh at me, but to me . . . it's cold! We are in the teens with wind chills in the single digits. I lam a Native Texan and my blood is thin. It's true. When it's frigid outside, there is nothing better than a nice hot dinner in the oven. I love chicken pot pie - it has been my favorite dish since I was a kid. I find that many of the ones I've tried have whimpy sauces that just don't fit the bill. I finally found this recipe and it's so yummy. This is in the best cookbook, Pillsbury Dough Magic. I recommend this cookbook - recipes with biscuits, crescents, and doughs. Yum!

-1 package of Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crust, softened as directed on package
-1/3 c butter
-1/3 c chopped onion (I add some celery when I have it too)
-1/3 c flour
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/4 tsp pepper
-14 oz chicken broth
-1/2 c milk
-2.5 c shredded chicken (leftovers work great for this - it's about 2 or 3 chicken breasts)
-2 c frozen mixed vegetables, thawed (I typically don't remember to thaw them so you can put them in frozen too)

1. Heat oven to 425. Prepare pie crusts as directed on package for a two crust pie using a 9" glass pie plate.

2. Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion (and celery); cook and stir 2 minutes or until tender. Add flour, salt and pepper; stir until well blended. Gradually stir in broth and milk, cooking and stirring until bubbly and thickened.

3. Add chicken and mixed vegetables; mix well. (If veggies are frozen, cook for just a couple minutes for them to thaw). Remove from heat. Spoon chicken mixture into crust lined pan. Top with second crust; seal edges and flute**. Cut slits in several places in top crust.

4. Bake at 425 for 30 to 40 minutes or until crust is golden brown. If necessary, cover edge of crust with strips of foil during last 15-20 minutes of baking to prevent excessive browning. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

**Sidenote - Don't let the pie crust intimidate you into not making this dish. I find that the refrigerated pie crusts are a little small so the first one should cover the bottom and sides of your plate - just smooth out the bubbles. For the top one, I rarely have enough to connect it to the bottom one, so I fold under the excess and flute the edges.

(A prime example of why you should cover the edges with foil!)
Such a great meal! Leftovers and quick and easy to heat up.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


My week has been filled with small victories. First, we've been working on weaning my 12 month old daughter and our first victory was on Sunday when she drank her whole sippy cup of milk at lunch. Monday we started dropping our dinner feeding and she drank her whole sippy cup of milk again. Victory!

Victory number 2 came about 30 minutes ago when I FINALLY finished the afghan. Whew. I kept singing "This is the Song That Never Ends" while working on it because I feel like I've been under this thing forever! It took 5 one pound skeins of 100% cotton yarn to do it and I promise you that I will NEVER EVER work with 100% cotton yarn again. I'm hoping this one won't shed, but the acrylic yarn goes much quicker and isn't nearly so heavy. I promise you this thing weighs more than my dog. :) Also, 2 of my skeins ended up being different shades. I couldn't get a really good picture of this, but what I did was use the darkest skein and made a border all the way around and then 5 rows each on the top and bottom. Makes it look a little more intentional.

So, it's done! Now on to so many more projects. I need to get to working on some more clippies - I bought flowers and have lots of ideas for that. Also, I need to get going on baby shower gifts for several babies due in the spring. Lastly, it's been so cold lately that I want to crochet a cute hat for my daughter, complete with crochet flowers that I just learned how to do this morning. Oh, and the T-Shirt quilt has begun. I have more posts in the que - a couple great recipes and lots of new things. Coming soon!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Curried Fruit

When I first heard of Curried Fruit, I wanted to gag. I want nothing to do with curry. But my mother-in-law made it and it was WONDERFUL! Seems like it is a pretty southern dish, since I haven't really heard of it around here, only when we are in the Carolinas. It is SO good! Quick and easy - would be great for a brunch dish but we usually have it as a side dish. We had it with spaghetti last night and it was a winner! This comes from the First Methodist Church of Lincolnton, North Carolina cookbook (my grandmother's old church). Oh, and this is one of those dishes that gets better the longer it sits. I cooked it about 30 minutes ahead of dinner last night so it was still warm but had some time to soak up the juices. It'll be phenomenal tonight!


-3/4 stick of butter
-1 c firmly packed brown sugar
-1 tsp curry powder (I use 1/2 tsp because I'm not that into curry and it is still good!)
-1 jar spiced apple rings (I can't find these, so I sliced up a couple of fresh apples)
-1 jar maraschino cherries, no stems
-1 (20 oz) can of each:
peach slices
pear halves
pineapple slices (or rings)

1. Combine butter, sugar, curry powder and bring to a boil. Drain the fruit; arrange in shallow 2 quart baking dish and pour hot sauce over it. Garnish with cherries.

2. Bake at 325 until it bubbles (about 30-40 minutes).

How can you pass this up??

(On a sidenote: Don't you love the new pictures? Such better quality with my new camera! I just couldn't stop taking pictures of all the yummy goodness).

And not everything I do can be completed during naptime. This is what I had crawling up my leg while trying to get the final pictures:

Cheesy Potato and Corn Chowder

This is definitely one of my "go to" recipes. It freezes really well too, so it's great to make in advance or give to someone having a baby. This comes from the "All Recipes" Cookbook. A great find at Half Price Books. They also have a website,

-2 Tbsp butter
-1 c chopped celery
-1 c chopped onion
-28 oz chicken broth
-3 c peeled and cubed potatoes (about 3 large baking potatoes)
-1 (15 oz) can whole kernel corn, drained
-1 (2 oz) pkg country gravy mix
-2 c milk
-1 c shredded cheese (any kind that you like - I use the pizza blend)

1. In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add celery and onion; cook and stir until tender, about 5 minutes.

2. Add chicken broth; bring to a boil. Add potato; cook over low to medium heat for 20-25 minutes or until potato is soft, stirring occasionally. Once potatoes are cooked, mash them. (I use a handheld mixer, but you can also just use a potato masher. Mash until the consistency you want - I like it a little chunky. :)

Before mashing:
After mashing:
3. Stir in corn; return to boiling. Dissolve gravy mix in milk; stir into boiling mixture. Add cheese; cook and stir over low heat until cheese is melted.

And of course, a little cheese on top. :)


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