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11.01.2020

Mama Jen's Baked Spaghetti

Over the winter, I had unexpected surgery and a few days after getting home we had a major plumbing repair needed (that took away use of the plumbing to my kitchen sink and dishwasher).  I was blessed with meals by many wonderful people.  One of those was this yummy spaghetti bake from Mama Jen!  My kids devoured it and have asked me to get it from her again.  She was reluctant to give me the recipe, telling me "it's not really a recipe and basic."  Ha!  So, now I'm going to share it with all the people!  Everyone needs an easy supper recipe that also will freeze beautifully if you want to make a double batch!

Mama Jen's Baked Spaghetti

1 (24-32 oz) Jar Spaghetti Sauce
1 lb Ground Beef
1 (10-12 oz) Package Spaghetti Noodles
2 Eggs
1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese
3 Cups Mozzarella Cheese
Pepperoni

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Lightly spray a 9x13' pan.  Boil pasta a few minutes shy of package directions (this helps it from getting soggy while baking) and drain.  Meanwhile, brown hamburger with a little minced garlic.  Drain hamburger and stir together with spaghetti sauce.  In another large bowl, beat eggs and stir in Parmesan.  Then quickly, fold in noodles to egg mixture, until combined.  Pour noodles into pan, pour spaghetti sauce on top of noodles and spread to edges.  Sprinkle on cheese and top with desired pepperoni (I added a little cheddar too).  Bake for 25-30 minutes until bubbly and golden brown.  Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Note: If freezing meal, make sure to pull out 24 hours in advance (or set on counter).  Will usually take longer to bake (approximately 60 minutes).


InstaPot Beef Stew

Such a great recipe I adjusted for the InstaPot!  You could certainly make it in a crock pot or on the stove as well!  All of the vegetable measurements are adjustable to your liking; not everyone is a fan of lots of carrots.  Note; leaving the potatoes and carrots in bigger chunks helps keep them from falling apart while cooking.

Enjoy!

InstaPot Beef Stew

2-3 lbs Beef Stew Meat (cut in 1" cubes)
1/4 Cup Flour
2 Tsp Salt (I use coarse garlic sea salt)
1 Tsp Ground Pepper
2 Tsp Smoked Paprika
2 Onions, diced
1 lbs Potatoes, peeled & chopped
1 lb Carrots, chopped in large chunks (a bag of baby or about 4-6 large carrots)
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
2 1/2 Cups Beef Broth
2 Tsp Worcestershire
1 Bay Leaf (remove from soup before serving)
2 Tbsp Cornstarch
2 Tbsp Water
1 - 12 oz Bag Frozen Peas

Mix flour, salt, pepper, and paprika and shake in bag with meat.  Place in floured meat in bottom of pot and add everything but the last 3 ingredients listed.  Cook on high pressure for 35 minutes, then let natural release at least 10 minutes (longer won't hurt it).  In small dish, whisk together cornstarch and water.  Open pressure cooker and stir in cornstarch slurry to help thicken stew while it is still bubbling.  Stir in frozen peas, cook for a few minutes, and then serve.

Note:  This can also be done in the crockpot on high for 4-6 hours or low for 8-10 hours.

4.01.2020

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

These are a classic and an easy treat to whip up!  Play around with the pudding mix flavors and different chips or nuts for your own fun bar!  The 'secret' pudding ingredient helps keep them soft and chewy!

Enjoy!


Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

1 Cup Butter, softened
3/4 Cup Brown Sugar
1/4 Cup White Sugar
1 - 3 oz Pkg Instant Vanilla Pudding Mix
2 Eggs
1 Tsp Vanilla
2 1/4 Cups flour
1 Tsp Baking Soda
12 oz Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, beat together sugars, pudding mix, eggs, and vanilla with an electric mixer until creamy and fluffy.  Slowly mix in flour and baking soda until combined.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Drop by spoonfuls into an un-greased 9x13" pan.  Spread out dough in pan as best you can (it will spread some while baking, does not need to be perfect).  Bake for 20-25 minutes, until top and edges are just browning.  Do not over-bake.  Let cool, cut, and serve!

Tip: line bottom of pan with parchment paper for easy release (and cutting).

3.24.2020

Pan Seared Chicken Breasts


Sometimes even I, Molly 'Crocker', am not confident in a basic cooking methods and go looking for a tutorial so I don't mess up a meal!  After thinking about this recently, I thought I would share one of my favorite cooking "basics" with you all over here.  If you are ever in need of a yummy, tender, chicken breast for a salad, pasta, sandwich, etc; here's how you can get it!

Enjoy!


Pan Seared Chicken Breasts

1.  Dry off chicken breasts with paper towel.
2.  Rub both sides of the chicken breasts with approximately 1 Tbsp of olive oil.  Season both sides with your desired seasonings or pre-mixed seasoning. (seasoning suggestions: salt, pepper, smoked paprika, garlic powder, basil, rosemary)
3.  Heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil in skillet over medium heat.
4.  Place chicken breasts in skillet and cook for 8 minutes (resist the urge to flip or mess with the chicken much) - chicken will start to easily move in pan and edges will be opaque.
5. Flip chicken over, cover pan, and lower heat to medium/low.  Cook for another 10 minutes.
6.  Turn heat off and let chicken rest in pan or covered dish for 5-10 minutes (or until the rest of your food is ready).
7. Serve and enjoy!

3.09.2020

Ham and Swiss Rice Casserole with Broccoli

Our family really liked this casserole or as we call it in these parts, hot dish!  A great way to use up leftover ham.  The star ingredients, veggies, protein, cheese, rice etc, can easily be substituted for what you have on hand/prefer.  The recipe can also easily be made ahead in the morning to throw in the oven for supper or frozen for another day!

Enjoy!



Ham and Swiss Rice Casserole

2 Tbsp Butter
1/2 Cup Onion, chopped
2 1/4 Cups Chicken Broth
1 1/4 Cup Long Grain White Rice
2 Heads Broccoli, cut into chunks
2 Cups Cooked Ham, diced
1 Can Cream of Chicken Soup
1/2 Cup Sour Cream
3/4 Cup Milk
1 - 8oz Pkg Swiss and Gruyére Shredded Cheese (Found at Aldi)
Pepper

Topping:
1 Cup Ritz Crackers, crushed
2 Tbsp Butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  Add diced onions and cook for approximately 5 minutes, until softened.  Add broth and rice to pan; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer, cover pan, and cook for 8 minutes.  Remove lid, stir rice up from the bottom with a spatula, add broccoli, replace lid, and cook for an additional 8-10 minutes.  Turn off heat on pan.  Stir in ham, soup, sour cream, milk, half (1 cup) of the cheese, and season to taste.  Spread into lightly greased 9x13 pan and top with remaining cheese.  Cover and bake for 20 minutes.  Combine cracker crumbs with melted butter; spread over the top of casserole and bake an additional 10 minutes uncovered.  Remove from oven, let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Notes: If using frozen broccoli, allow it to thaw and drain ahead of time (or pat dry).  Some prepackaged ham comes in water, you will want to let it dry a little on a paper towel or pan fry quick before adding to recipe (this step is not necessary if using leftover baked ham).

1.20.2020

Chicken Noodle Soup

This chicken soup is packed with anti-inflammatory ingredients like turmeric, garlic, and ginger!  Not only does it taste amazing, but it's great for you too!

Enjoy!


Chicken Noodle Soup

2 Tbsp Olive Oil
8 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 Large Yellow Onion, diced
4 Large Carrots (a little over 1 cup), sliced or diced
4 Celery Stalks (approximately 1 cup), chopped
1 1/2 Tsp Ground Ginger (or 4 tsp freshly grated)
1 1/2 Tsp Ground Tumeric (or 4 tsp freshly grated)
12-16 Cups (3-4 quarts) Chicken Broth or Stock
2 lbs Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs
1 Tsp Crushed Rosemary (or fresh)
1 Tsp Ground Thyme (or fresh with stems removed)
1 Tsp Salt
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
16 oz Narrow Homestyle Eggs Noodles

Place a large pot over medium-high heat and add oil.  Once oil is hot, add in garlic, onion, carrots, and celery; cook for a few minutes until onion becomes translucent and vegetables are soft.  Add in ginger and turmeric; saute for 30 seconds to let spices cook a bit.  Then, add in chicken broth, chicken thighs, rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper.  Bring soup to a boil and make sure to stir chicken to the bottom.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked.  Removed chicken from pot and transfer to cutting board.  Shred chicken with two forks or dice to size preference and add back to pot.  Bring soup back up to a simmer and add in dried noodles; cook for 15-20 minutes until desired tenderness.  If you find that you don't have enough broth, feel free to add in 2-4 more cups (making it a total of 16 cups).  Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary. Enjoy!

Notes:  Vegetables measurements are just guidelines, feel free to add more or less to your liking; I always dice mine up smaller due to kids preference (harder for them to pick out).  Fresh garlic and herbs are best, but feel free to use from your spice cabinet too!  The garlic is not overwhelming in this soup, don't let the amount scare you.  The turmeric will turn your chicken and noodles yellow (and possibly your wooden spoon); it's okay!  I prefer to use chicken thighs in my soup, but you can use chicken breasts as well.  My family likes a high noodle ratio, so we usually use 3 quarts of chicken stock, but if you like more broth, bump it up to 4 quarts!  I buy my noodles at Walmart - they are usually on the bottom shelf by the other egg noodles (Essenhaus Narrow Homestyle Noodles).

10.08.2019

One-Pot Mac & Cheese

Why dirty two pans making a cheese sauce and boiling noodles separately, when you can do it in one?  This is an easy weeknight meal, done in about 20 minutes!  Add in your favorite protein, veggies, and/or seasonings!

Enjoy!



One-Pot Mac & Cheese

2 Tbsp Butter
2 Tbsp Flour
3 Cups Water
4 Cups Milk
1 Tsp Salt
1/2 Tsp Garlic Powder
1/4 Tsp Ground Mustard
4-5 Cups Shredded Cheddar Cheese
1/2 Cup Shredded Parmesan
1 lb Elbow Macaroni

Melt butter in large pot over medium-high heat.  Add flour, stir to combine, & cook for 1-minute.  Then, slowly whisk in 1 cup of the water until smooth & beginning to thicken.  Gradually pour in remaining water & milk - stirring until smooth/well combined.  Add in salt, garlic powder, ground mustard, & give a good stir.  Stir in uncooked macaroni noodles, continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the mixture just reaches a simmer.  Reduce heat to medium-low to maintain simmer, continue cooking until the pasta is done al-dente (approximately 8-10 minutes - don't overcook pasta).  Remove from heat, stir in cheeses until melted.  Add additional salt & pepper to taste.  Serve immediately.

Notes:  Freshly shredded cheese is worth the effort for smooth sauce (already shredded cheese has a stabilizer that can make your sauce grainy).  Save time & grate cheese while the noodles are cooking.  Any combo of cheese can be used!  Cheddar is a staple, but Swiss, Gouda, and many others are wonderful too!


3.16.2019

Ranch Party Mix

This ranch and dill snack mix is so addicting!  You can pretty much use any crackers, cereal, sesame sticks, peanuts, etc that suit your cravings!

Enjoy!


Ranch Party Mix

1 1/2 Cups Butter, melted
2 Packets Ranch Dressing Mix
2 Tsp Onion Powder
2 Tsp Garlic Powder
4 Tsp Dill Weed
2 Bags Oyster Crackers
1 Box Cheez-Its
1 Box Mini Triscuits
1 Bag Pretzels

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  In a large bowl, combine crackers and pretzels.
In a separate bowl, mix dressing mix and other spices with butter.  Drizzle butter mixture over crackers and stir to coat.  Spread out in 2 large sheet pans.  Cook for 15 minutes, give a good stir, and cook for another 15 minutes.  Let cool and store in air tight container.  Will keep for a few weeks!


3.05.2019

Cheesy Chicken Bacon Noodle Soup

I threw together this soup and I loved it so much that I decided I better write it down and share it!

Enjoy!


Cheesy Chicken Bacon Noodle Soup

3 Cups Cooked Chicken, shredded/diced
8 Cups (2 Qts) Chicken Stock
1 Cup Whole Milk
1/2 Cup Chopped Celery
1 Cup Chopped Carrots
1 Packet Ranch Dressing Mix
1/2 Cup Bacon Crumbles
4 oz Cream Cheese
12 oz Fine Egg Noodles
1 1/2 Cups Mild Cheddar Cheese, shredded

In a large pot (at least 6 qt), combine chicken, stock, milk, celery, carrots, ranch mix, bacon, and cream cheese over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer covered 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep from sticking to bottom.  Add noodles and shredded cheese - serve once noodles are soft.

Notes:
  • I used boneless skinless chicken thighs cooked in my instant pot (seasoned well with seasoning salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning, then cooked with half a onion (sliced), one clove minced garlic, and chicken broth). Chicken breasts, rotisserie chicken, etc will all work fine too!
  • I find shredding your own cheese melts better and really doesn't take much extra effort. 
  • I used Costco's Bacon Crumbles when I made this - fry up your own bacon if you prefer!
  • The veggie measurements are approximate - throw in what your family loves!


2.11.2019

Lemon Cheesecake Bars

You'll love these simple bars!  Lemon + cheesecake filling + sugar cookie crust = delish!

Enjoy!


Lemon Cheesecake Bars

Crust:
1 Cup Butter, softened
1 Cup Sugar
1 Tsp Vanilla
2 Cups Flour

Filling:
8 oz Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/4 Cup Lemon Juice
1 Tbsp Lemon Zest

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a square baking pan with parchment paper or foil and spray with cooking spray (I like to use the non-stick foil which does not require anything additional).

In a medium mixing bowl, beat butter, sugar, and vanilla together until well combined and fluffy (approximately 2 minutes).  On low speed, slowly beat in 1/2 cup of flour at a time to butter mixture until dough just comes together.  Press half the dough into prepared pan and refrigerate remaining dough until ready to use. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until light golden brown.  Cool crust before continuing on to filling.

In another medium bowl, beat together cream cheese, sugar, juice, and zest until smooth and creamy.  Pour filling over cooled crust and crumble remaining dough from crust evenly on top.  Bake for 30 minutes or until top is a light golden brown.  Cool completely, then remove bars from pan by lifting up foil and setting on flat surface for cutting.

*Once cooled, top with more lemon zest if desired.