March 28, 2012

Country Breakfast Casserole

For being one of those what-else-do-I-have-left-in-the-pantry kind of dinners, this one was pretty darn great. Sausage, gravy, eggs, cheese. This isn't your normal cereal or oatmeal breakfast. It's down home country goodness. Gather 'round, y'all.

Image Source
Country Breakfast Casserole
(adapted from this one on

1 lb (16 oz) turkey sausage
1/4 cup finely minced onion
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
6 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup water
1/2 cup milk
1 pkg (2.64 oz) country gravy mix
6 slices bread, cut into 3/4 inch cubes
paprika (to taste)

1.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and grease an 8x8 square casserole dish
2.  Brown the sausage and crumble it according to package directions.  Throw the onions in there for the last minute or two of the cooking.  Drain fat, and place the sausage in the casserole dish.  Top the sausage with shredded cheese.
3.  In a mixing bowl, combine the eggs, water, milk, and gravy mix.  Pour over the sausage and cheese.  Top it off with the bread cubes, making sure they're evenly spread.  If some poke up higher than the others, they'll get crispier.  If you don't want your bread to be too crispy, you can either press the bread down into the egg mixture just a bit so it will soak up more or you can drizzle melted butter over the bread.  Sprinkle with paprika, and place it in the oven.
4.  Bake for 1 hour or until a knife inserted into the center comes out almost clean--almost.  After all, there's gravy in there, so it may not ever come out completely clean until it's burned to a crisp, and we don't want that.  No sir.
5.  Let it stand for 5-10 minutes to set up completely, then ring that breakfast bell and gobble up some country goodness.

March 22, 2012

Cajun Chicken Pasta

Wow! That is all I have to say about this dish. It is so flavorful and added great variety to our menu. Yum. Make it now.

Okay, one more thing. Does anyone else have the songs from The Princess and the Frog pop into their head when they hear the word "Cajun"?

Image thanks to Skinny Taste
Cajun Chicken Pasta

6 oz linguine pasta, uncooked (or you can substitute rice)
1-2 boneless, skinless chicken breast(s)
1 Tbsp Cajun seasoning (like Tony Cachere's, which is also good on macaroni and cheese, by the way)
2 Tbsp butter
1 cup chopped bell peppers of any variety (I did yellow, orange, and red. I'm sure green would be super as well.)
1 can mushrooms
1 green onion, minced
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
1/4 tsp basil
1/4 tsp lemon pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp parmesan cheese

1. Cook your pasta (or rice) according to package directions.
2. Cut the chicken breasts into thin strips, then toss them in a bowl or a plastic bag with the cajun seasoning. Mix it all around to make sure the chicken is evenly coated.
3. Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the seasoned chicken, and cook for 7-8 minutes, or until the chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear. Add the peppers, mushrooms, and onion, and cook for another 2-3 minutes, or until they just start to become tender.
4. Add the cream, milk, lemon pepper, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and parmesan cheese. Bring it back to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 10 minutes. If you find that your sauce isn't thickening up, you can keep on simmering or add a bit of cornstarch mixed with water.
5. Pour the chicken and sauce over cooked pasta or rice and serve it up. Yum!

March 12, 2012

Pasta Fagioli Soup

I found this soup in a slow-cooker recipe book and tweaked it a bit to use what I had on hand.  It would be delicious paired with a baguette or some parmesan cheese bread.  It's especially light if you omit the ground beef or sausage and just stick with beans and vegetables.

Image thanks to The Best Slow Cooker Recipes
Pasta Fagioli Soup
(adapted from The Best Slow Cooker Recipes)

1/2 lb ground beef or italian sausage
2 cans (or about 16 oz) beef or chicken broth
1/2 can (16 oz) Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
2 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1-1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 cup small shell or tubetti pasta, uncooked
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

1.  In a skillet, brown the ground beef or sausage over medium heat.  Drain it, and toss it in the slow cooker.
2.  Add the broth, beans, tomatoes, zucchini, olive oil, garlic, basil, and oregano.  Stir to mix well, then cover and cook on low 3-4 hours.
3.  Stir in pasta.  Cover, and continue cooking on low for another hour, or until pasta is tender.  Top with Parmesan or Romano cheese.
4.  Eat it out on the patio as you watch the sunset and enjoy the glorious spring weather we've been having (at least, in my neck of the woods).

Pin It

March 11, 2012

Chocolate Orange Cupcakes

Last week I ventured for the first time into the world of homemade cakes. My little boy turned one, so to practice for making his birthday cake, I made some cupcakes for a Relief Society birthday party. Success! People even went to other tables to find more of my cupcakes. I felt like the cupcake queen. And so, brought to you by popular demand (i.e. two people asking for this to be put on the blog), I give you Chocolate Orange Cupcakes.

Image Source
Chocolate Orange Cupcakes 

3/4 cup butter (softened to room temperature)
3 eggs (also at room temperature)
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1-1/2 cups milk
*Note: I haven't tried it yet myself, but I bet adding just a hint of orange juice in place of some of the milk would make it taste amazing. If anyone tries it, let me know how it goes!

3/4 cup butter (softened to room temperature)
2 lbs powdered sugar (about 8 cups)
1/3 cup orange juice
1 tsp orange zest (finely shredded orange peel)
2 tsp vanilla

1.  Allow the butter and eggs to come to room temperature.  If you need the eggs to warm up more quickly, set them in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes, and they should warm right up.  Line your cupcake tins with paper liners, and preheat the oven to 350.
2.  In a large mixing bowl, beat butter until it's light and fluffy (about 30 seconds).  Gradually add the sugar, beating until it's well combined.  Scrape the sides of the bowl, then beat it for 2 minutes more.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.  Beat in the vanilla and orange juice (if using).  Alternately add the flour mixture and milk until they're just combined.  Beat for 20 seconds more, then pour the batter into the cupcake tins.  Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup will give you about the right amount to fill each tin 2/3 or 3/4 full.  
3. Bake approximately 16-18 minutes, or until a tooth pick comes out clean.  Leave the cupcakes in the tin, and cool the whole tin on a wire rack for about five minutes, then remove the cupcakes and let them finish cooling completely directly on the wire rack.  If you take them out of the pan too quickly, the cupcakes will become indented, and the indentation will remain, making your cupcakes look like they're going to fall over--not a good way for cupcakes to look.
4. While your cupcakes are cooling, whip up some orange frosting.  In a mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth.  Gradually add 2 cups of the powdered sugar, beating well.  Beat in the orange juice, orange zest, and vanilla.  Gradually beat in the rest of the powdered sugar.  If it's really thick, just keep adding orange juice (for more flavor) or milk (for more creaminess) a teaspoon at a time until you reach your desired spreading consistency.
5.  When the cupcakes are completely cool, frost them!  If you want to do a cool swirly, just put the frosting in a ziploc bag and snip a little bit of the corner off, then squeeze the bag using constant pressure as you swirl.  If you want a flat swirl, start at the middle and work out.  If you want a tall, luscious pile of swirly frosting, start on the edge and work your way to the middle.
6.  Stand back as your guests ooh and ahh at your marvelous creation.

Pin It

March 5, 2012

Fiesta Chicken Salad

I decided to go through my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook and pick a recipe from each section to try.  This one came from the salad section, and with a few adjustments, it was a total hit.  I served it layered in my trifle bowl, and it looked amazing too.  Even my husband, who isn't usually a fan of salads, was a big fan.  Enjoy!

Image Source
Fiesta Chicken Salad

1/2 head of iceberg lettuce (or about 4 cups), torn or shredded
1/2 cup cheese, shredded (cheddar or pepper jack is a great choice)
1 (15 oz) can black or garbanzo beans (rinsed and drained)
1-1/2 cups cooked, chopped chicken (I cooked mine the same way as I do for my enchiladas with Montreal Chicken Seasoning and cayenne pepper)
1-1/2 cups packed spinach leaves
1 tomato, diced
1 cup jicama, cut into bite-size strips (optional)
1/2 cup sliced olives (optional)
1/2 cup mayonaisse
1 (4 oz) can chopped green chiles
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp cumin
1 cup crunched up tortilla chips or Fritos

1. Place the iceberg lettuce in a clear salad bowl (a glass bowl or even a trifle dish works well so you can see all the layers).  Top with these layers in the following order: cheese, beans, chicken, spinach, tomato, jicama and olives (if using).
2. In a small mixing bowl, combine the mayonaise, green chiles, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and cumin.  Stir until well combined.  Pour evenly over the salad, spreading it all the way to the edges.
3. Cover the salad bowl tightly with plastic wrap and chill for at least 4 hours.  Top with crunched tortilla chips and serve immediately.
4. It's fiesta time!

Pin It

March 1, 2012

Easy Focaccia

I'm the kind of gal that really likes her grains--bread in particular.  My day is just not complete if I don't have some type of bread.  Last night, ran out of bread.  And eggs.  So I couldn't even make bread, let alone eat it.  I made it until about 3:30 in the afternoon before I decided that something needed to happen.  I turned to the trusty ingredient search on and searched for bread recipes that did NOT include eggs.  Lo and behold, this recipe for focaccia came up.  I made it to go with our one-pot spaghetti, and it was delicious.  No, it wasn't entirely authentic Italian bread, but it still tasted amazing anyway.  And for being as easy as it was, it was close enough for me.

Image Source
Easy Focaccia
(adapted from Focaccia Bread on

2-3/4 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp instant yeast (you can use active dry yeast, but if you do, you might want to proof it in the warm water before adding it to the rest of the ingredients)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
1 pinch black pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup warm water
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (optional)

1.  In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, salt, sugar, yeast (unless you're using active yeast and proofing it first), garlic powder, oregano, basil, and black pepper.  If you need to proof your yeast, add it to the warm water now.  
2.  Add the 1 Tbsp olive oil and the water to the flour mixture, and stir to combine.  Turn out onto a lightly oiled surface and knead until smooth and elastic (about 6-8 minutes).  Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and let it rise until doubled in size (about 20-30 minutes).  It raises very quickly because of the high yeast to flour ratio, so you might want to set a timer if you're used to waiting for an hour for the first rise.  Also, the fact that it raises so quickly is a bonus because that means it will be in your mouth that much more quickly!
3.  Gently press your fingers into the dough to let some of the air out, then turn it out onto a greased cookie sheet.  Pat the dough into a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick.  Brush it with the remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil, and top it with the cheeses.  Let it rise for a few minutes more while your oven preheats to 425 degrees F.
4.  Use your fingers to "dimple" the dough by making an indentation every couple of inches, then bake it for 15-18 minutes or until it's golden brown.  Let it cool on a cooling rack for 2-3 minutes, and serve it warm.
5.  Savor every bite.  Get seconds.

Pin It
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...