Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Florentine Lasagne Rollups

Not a new concept, but definitely a yummy one. I made this on a Sunday, and left it in the fridge for baking on Monday night. Monday nights are just hectic for no other reason that it's the first night of the week after a leisurely weekend, so things are just HARDER.  Having this waiting to be baked in the fridge was a huge time saver, and I was able to do other things instead of prepping and cooking dinner. 

Even the almost-3-year-old ate this, happily. Win!

The key here has to be the homemade alfredo sauce. Seriously, don't cheat and use one from a jar. I will be very disappointed in you!  Ha, just kidding. Do what you must, but at the end of the day - the homemade sauce is what sends this dish into the fabulous zone.

Hope you enjoy this as much as we did. 

Alfredo Sauce:
  • ½ cup butter
  • 2oz cream cheese
  • 2 cups half and half or milk (if you use milk, bump the cream cheese up an ounce.  You could use cream, but hi there, blocked arteries!!)
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp dried oregano, basil, or Italian seasoning
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese (more, to taste)
  • 9 lasagna noodles
  • 2 cups cooked and shredded chicken
  • 1.5 cups baby spinach, chopped finely.
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • Salt, pepper to taste
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1.5 cups shredded Mozzarella, or cheese of your choice

        Make the sauce first:
  1. In a medium saucepan melt the butter over medium heat.  Add garlic and cook for about 1 minute
  2. Add the cream cheese and whisk until smooth.  Whisk in the half & half or milk. 
  3. Season with salt and pepper and oregano, bring to a simmer (don’t boil!)and whisk frequently until the sauce thickens about 15 minutes. 
  4. Add the parmesan and whisk until melted and blended.
  5. Set aside

    Next steps
  6. Cook the lasagna noodles according to package directions.
  7. Drain and rinse the noodles with cold water and dry them a little on a paper towel to make them easier to work with
  8. While the noodles cook, combine the chicken, spinach, and seasonings in a large bowl.

    To assemble

  9. Spread about half a cup of the alfredo sauce in your baking dish (I used an 8 x 8 one, would use a bigger one next time)
  10. Onto each noodle, spread filling, sauce and some mozzarella, and roll up.
  11. Place each one seam side down into your baking dish.
  12. Top with remaining alfredo sauce, and mozzarella.
  13. Bake at 350 degrees, for around 30 minutes – until heated through and cheese is bubbling.
  14. Serve to your starving and whining family (who will begin their campaign for dinner!! now!! hungry!! as soon as they smell the sauce cooking)

Source: Kylee Cooks

Monday, November 17, 2014

Slow Cooker Red Beans & Rice

If you haven't figured it out yet, I love the set-and-forget style of cooking that a crockpot allows. There are a lot of recipes I'm sure I'd love, but the cooking times are actually too SHORT.

I leave my house with 2 children at around 6:15am. I return around 4:45 - that's roughly 10.5 hours!  A 4 hour (ha!) recipe would be dried out and burned by the time I got home.  A lot of times, I use the crockpot on the weekends, because I'm home - but I'm busy with other things.

THIS recipe uses dried beans that are not pre-soaked or pre-cooked. That's right. DUMP AND RUN. YESSSS!!!!

The smell of this smoky, warm "stew" through the house was definitely a bonus. Everyone came to the table ready to EAT!



  • 1 pound dried red beans, rinsed and sorted
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 ribs celery, chopped
  • 7 oz. smoked boneless pork chops, diced into ½-inch cubes (smoked ham steaks would work too)
  • 12 ounces smoked sausage, cut in half lengthwise and sliced into ½” thick slices
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt (plus more to taste)
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 2 tsp. creole seasoning (can omit if you like)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
  • 4 cups cooked rice
  1. Put all ingredients (except rice) in your crockpot. Add (about) 6 cups of water, enough to cover contents with about half an inch of water.
  2. Stir well, cover, and cook on high 8 hours or low 10 hours.
  3. About an hour before serving, use a potato masher to mash some of the beans, stir, and cook an hour longer. 
  4. Before serving, taste beans and add extra seasoning to taste.
  5. Remove bay leaves, and serve beans in bowls over the cooked rice.
Source: Adapted from

    Wednesday, November 12, 2014

    Creamy Leek & Potato Soup (with Bacon)

    Every time I make soup, I'm reminded of the show "Seinfeld" . In an episode Seinfeld owes someone dinner, and they order soup - and say they'll keep their owed dinner for another time, because soup isn't a meal.

    YOU GUYS!! Soup is a meal!  I love soup. I love that The Husband loves soup, AND agrees that it can be dinner more regularly than most people I know.

    This soup is one of my favourites to make, because I almost always have the ingredients. Bonus!  Soup is awesome.

    (How many times did I say "soup" in the above paragraphs? 8. Yeah. EIGHT)

    Anyhoo... let's eat...



    • 4 slices of bacon, diced
    • 1/2  large onion (or 1 medium), thinly sliced
    • 2 leeks, chopped finely
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 4 large potatoes, peeled and sliced thinly 
    • 6 cups chicken broth (enough to cover the potatoes about half an inch)
    • Pepper
    • 1/2 Cup half & half (or milk, or sour cream)


    1. In a dutch oven, over medium-high heat, cook the bacon, then add the onion and leeks.
    2. Cook until tender (about 5 minutes).
    3. Add the garlic, cook a further 30 seconds.
    4. Add the potatoes and broth, and bring to a boil.
    5. Reduce the heat to medium, and let simmer until the potatoes are tender (about 10-15 mins).
    6. Either use a masher, an immersion blender, or a blender to roughly blend (you don't want puree it fully, chunks are good!)
    7. Stir in the pepper and the half & half.
    8. Serve!

    Makes 6 servings (ish)

    Source: Kylee Cooks original

    Monday, November 10, 2014

    Chunky Chili

    A rich, tasty chili that is easy to prepare and cooked all day. No long list of ingredients, you probably have them all in your pantry already!

    This really NEEDS a good long stay in the crockpot, in order to blend all the flavours properly.

    A note about chili powder. Whenever that appears in a recipe, it refers to a chili powder BLEND, not pure ground chillies.

    Served with some corn bread, or tortillas, this is a hearty dinner ready for when you walk in the door!


    • 1lb/500g lean ground beef
    • 1 medium onion, chopped
    • 2 cans of diced tomatoes
    • 1 can of pinto beans, drained and rinsed (or kidney beans)
    • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
    • ½ cup of salsa
    • 1 tablespoon of chili powder
    • 1 ½ tablespoons of cumin
    • 1 tsp onion powder
    • 1 tsp garlic powder
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp pepper
    1. Brown the beef and onion in a large pan at a medium high heat until beef is browned, and onion is tender. Drain and discard fat.
    2. Place beef and onions, and all remaining ingredients in the crock pot.
    3. Stir, cover and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours or until flavours are well blended.
    4. Serve with corn bread, in a tortilla, or in a bowl topped with cheese, sour cream.

    Friday, November 7, 2014

    Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake

    I love Fall baking! This cheesecake combines some of my favourite flavours and looks so pretty, it's great to serve when you have guests over.

    With all the pumpkin recipes out there during this season, it would be remiss of me not to share this one, right?

    My photo was super rushed, I was making this to bring to a party and had no time to fuss. Sometimes, life really gets in the way... forgive me?

    Source: Allrecipes


    • 2 cups crushed gingersnap cookies  
    • 1/3 cup butter, melted
    • 2 (8 ounce/225 gram) packages cream cheese, softened
    • 3/4 cup white sugar, divided
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 3 eggs
    • 1 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
    • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

    1. Preheat oven to 350.
    2. In a medium bowl, mix together the crushed gingersnap cookies and butter.
    3. Press into the bottom, and about 1 inch up the sides of a 9 inch spring-form pan.
    4. Bake crust 10 minutes, then set aside to cool.
    5. In a medium bowl, mix together the cream cheese, 1/2 cup sugar, and vanilla just until smooth.
    6. Mix in eggs one at a time, blending well after each.
    7. Set aside 1 cup of the mixture.
    8. Blend 1/4 cup sugar, pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg into the remaining mixture.
    9. Spread the pumpkin flavored batter into the crust, and drop the plain batter by spoonfuls onto the top. Swirl with a knife to create a marbled effect.
    10. Bake 55 minutes in the preheated oven, or until filling is set.
    11. Run a knife around the edge of the pan. Allow to cool before removing pan rim.
    12. Chill for at least 4 hours before serving.

    Wednesday, November 5, 2014

    Meet: My boys

    This post is long overdue, and although this is a cooking blog, and involves primarily recipes - in my posts, I sometimes share a little about my life, the weather, my upbringing... etc so it would be REMISS of me not to include a few photos of my little loves.

    I've referred to the toddler and the baby a few times, but I need you to see how gorgeous these two are. They absolutely love each other and have so much fun interacting and laughing together. It's such a pleasure to watch their relationship develop!

    Without further ado - here they are....

    This is Hayden
    He'll be 3 at the end of the month, and is a whirlwind of activity. He is developing a sense of humor, which is funny in itself (any clue what is funny to a 3 year old? butts and poop. Oh dear)

    This is Cameron
    8 months old and so very chilled out, laid back and calm. Except when he's sick. Then all bets are off.  He's a sunny, happy little dude the rest of the time. Just happy to be in sight of the people that love him.

    Here's my boys together. Brothers forever

    I told H "don't give Cams any more!" so, they did an under the table deal.
    Photos taken of both boys around the same ages - uncanny, right?

    Back to regularly scheduled recipe viewing soon!

    Monday, November 3, 2014

    Slow Cooker: Chicken Tikka Masala

    This recipe comes from Stephanie, at Sustaining the Powers. She has a really cool "Crocktober" weekly event that highlights 4 new recipes a week. I've gotten some great ideas from there already, including this one. I found her via another blog. We bonded. Life is good.

    I lovvvve Chicken Tikka Masala.  It's usually a bit of a time investment, so I REALLY loved this recipe - because using a crockpot to make it gives me lots of hands off time. This has a beautiful colour, complex and delicious flavour and is now on the permanent "here's the recipe to use for this" list.

    It DOES have a long ingredient list, but it's really not that difficult to pull together. I actually had everything already in the house, so no need for an extra store trip.

    If you're a fan of indian food (and if you're new to it - try this first, it's a great intro to the cuisine!! This is mild, I promise), you'll love how easy this is, and how amazing the flavours are with very minimal effort.

    Get on it!


    • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
    • 1 (or 2) (15oz) can diced new potatoes, drained and rinsed
    • 1/2 large yellow onion, finely diced
    • 1 large (29 oz) can tomato sauce  (Aussies/Kiwis - this is tomato puree, not ketchup)
    • 1 1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt
    • 1 cup coconut milk
    • 4 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 Tbs freshly, finely grated ginger
    • 2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
    • 2 Tbs Garam Masala  
    • 1 Tbs cumin
    • 1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika
    • 2 tsp salt, or to taste
    • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
    • 3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
    • 1 tsp cayenne pepper  
    • 1 tsp coriander
    • 2 Tbs cornstarch
    For Serving
    • 4 cups cooked steamed rice
    • Chopped fresh cilantro

    1. Chop the chicken breasts into bite sized pieces, then add with the potatoes and onions to the crock-pot.
    2. In a large bowl, whisk together the tomato sauce, yogurt, coconut milk, garlic, ginger, olive oil, spices, and corn starch until smooth.
    3. Pour over chicken and potatoes in the crock-pot and combine.
    4. Cook on low for 6 hours or until chicken is tender and fully cooked. Smash the potatoes against the side of the crock-pot (thickens the sauce)
    5. Serve chicken over prepared rice topped with chopped cilantro.

    Friday, October 31, 2014

    Spinach, Feta & Mozzarella Rolls

    These are so simple, and so basic - I almost didn't share.

    But, since the toddler devoured these and got VERY upset when we told him that they were NOT all for him - I thought other families could use the idea too!

    Obviously, you could use homemade dough, but I didn't.  Super quick, super yummy!


    • 1 can of crescent rolls
    • 2oz mozzarella
    • 2oz crumbled feta
    • Handful of fresh baby spinach, chopped
    • Salt/Pepper
    1. Combine the cheeses, spinach and seasoning in a bowl.
    2. Spread the mixture over the entire surface of each piece of crescent roll dough (obviously more at the wider end).
    3. Roll up, and bake at 375 for 15 minutes (or until browned)
    4. Cool, and devour. Hide from your kids if you actually want to taste these.

    Wednesday, October 29, 2014

    White Bean & Potato Soup with Lemon and Thyme

    Aaah, it's soup season!! To me, there's nothing better than a bowl of warm homemade soup to begin a meal, or even BE the meal. I'm making different batches of soup lately, eating a bowl and freezing the rest in 1 serving sized containers. That way, whenever I need a lunch, or a dinner - I have plenty to choose from and don't get sick of eating an entire batch of one soup.

    This soup is warm and comforting, but is really bright too with the addition of the lemon. Using fresh thyme is key (in my opinion), but i'm sure dried would work JUST FINE.

    Hope you like it as much as we did!

    NOTE: This can be made vegan by using plain almond milk instead of the regular milk, and by using vegetable broth. 

    Source: Slightly adapted from

      • 1 tablespoon olive oil
      • 1 small onion, chopped
      • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth, heated
      • 3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
      • 2 garlic cloves, minced
      • 2 t. freshly chopped thyme
      • 1 tsp lemon zest
      • 1 can (15-1/2 ounces) white beans (navy, cannellini), drained and rinsed
      • ¾ cup milk
      • juice of a half of a lemon
      • Salt and pepper to taste
                            1. In a large saucepan, cook onion in olive oil until translucent. 
                            2. Stir in the heated broth, potatoes, garlic and thyme and zest.
                            3. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
                            4. Stir in the beans. Blend soup with hand blender, but not too well, there should still be chunks of potato and a few beans. 
                            5. Add lemon juice and stir, then add milk. 
                            6. Cook over low heat for 5 minutes or until heated thoroughly.


                                      Monday, October 27, 2014

                                      Hot Ham & Cheese Pinwheels

                                      Ohhhh, these are such a breeze to make. Seriously. I knocked these together while the kids napped, and had to restrain the husband from eating more than his share (had to leave some for the toddler, at least!)

                                      Using a really simple bread dough, and using just a stand mixer with a dough hook, this is a great idea to use when you haven't been grocery shopping and are out of bread need a quick and fun lunch.

                                      HOT HAM & CHEESE PINWHEELS

                                      • 1 1/2 C warm water
                                      • 2 TBS sugar
                                      • 1 TBS yeast
                                      • 1/2 tsp salt
                                      • 4 1/2 C all purpose flour
                                      • 2 Tbs deli mustard
                                      • 15 slices thin sliced ham
                                      • 2 Cups grated cheddar cheese

                                      1. Pour water into your stand mixer, fitted with the dough hook.
                                      2. Add sugar and yeast and mix around a little. Let it rest for 5 minutes or so, or until the yeast goes bubbly (see above pic)
                                      3. Turn the mixer to medium speed and allow it to mix for 10 minutes, or until the dough is smooth.
                                      4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured counter, and divide in two equal parts
                                      5. Cover with a damp towel, and rest on the counter for 5 minutes.
                                      6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
                                      7. After the dough has rested roll one part into a large rectangle.
                                      8. Spread with 1 Tbs of mustard, then cover it with half the ham and half the cheese.
                                      9. Roll the dough up starting with the longer end.
                                      10. Slice into 12 pieces, and put onto a prepared cookie sheet.
                                      11. Do the same with the other half of the dough (or reserve for another use)
                                      12. Put the cookie sheets somewhere warm, and let the pinwheels rise a little (not too much, you don't want them to be huge and puffy)
                                      13. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until golden brown along the top and bottom.
                                      14. Remove the pan from the oven and let them cool a little before devouring

                                      Step 8

                                      Step 9

                                      Step 10
                                      Step 14

                                      Friday, October 24, 2014

                                      Healthy Breakfast "Cookies"

                                      With two little guys to get fed, dressed, in the car and down the road first thing in the morning, I don't have a lot of time to mess about with getting the toddler to eat something in the mornings.  Enter the "breakfast cookie".

                                      Yup. Looks like a cookie, smells like a cookie... but is it a cookie? No, not really. It has no butter, oil, eggs, flour, or sugar. Which means - I can approve eating cookies for breakfast.

                                      They have great ingredients that would normally be found in a bowl of oatmeal, but they're now portable. 
                                      And are toddler approved. YESSSS!!!

                                      These come together very fast, and stay good in the fridge for a week. 


                                      • 2 cups rolled oats (regular or quick, but steelcut don't work)
                                      • 2 ripe bananas
                                      • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
                                      • 1 tsp cinnamon
                                      • 1 tsp vanilla extract
                                      • 1/3 cup of raisins

                                      Optional: 1 Tbs honey or pure maple syrup

                                      1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
                                      2. Mix together all ingredients until well combined.
                                      3. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, or use a baking stone
                                      4. Using a cookie scoop, drop dough onto the the cookie sheet, and then flatten into round shapes.  
                                      5. Bake approx. 25 – 30 minutes, or until golden.  
                                      6. Remove from oven & let rest on cookie sheet for 5 minutes and then move to cooling rack.  

                                      Wednesday, October 22, 2014

                                      Basic Biscuits

                                      Since moving to the US, I have developed an appreciation for "biscuits" as a bread side to accompany a yummy dinner. 

                                      Whenever I need a quick bread, and don't have baking mix, buttermilk or shortening hanging about, I make these.  It's a simple and quick recipe that makes just enough for dinner and few leftovers for breakfast (biscuits and gravy, anyone?)

                                      This recipe comes from Paula Deen.... so obviously, it has plenty of butter in it. She uses a cast iron skillet to bake these, but I just used a baking sheet. She also cuts the butter in by hand, but I use a food processor, because a) I'm lazy b) I like appliances

                                      Source: Adapted slightly from Paula Deen

                                      • 2 cups all-purpose flour
                                      • 1 teaspoons sugar
                                      • 1 tablespoon baking powder
                                      • 1 teaspoon salt
                                      • 8 tablespoons butter, cubed
                                      • 3/4 cup milk
                                      • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

                                      1. In a food processor, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together.
                                      2. Pulse butter into mixture until it begins to look like cornmeal. (You could cut it in the traditional way, but I’m all about fast and easy…erm…)
                                      3. Put mixture into a bowl, and make a well.  Add the milk slowly, and mix until it just comes together as a dough.
                                      4. Knead dough lightly, and add milk when necessary.
                                      5. Roll out dough onto your floured countertop, and hand shape/pat to desired thickness.
                                      6. Cut with small biscuit cutter  (or use a clean empty can)
                                      7. Arrange the biscuits on a parchment lined baking sheet,  bake for 12 minutes or until brown.

                                      Monday, October 20, 2014

                                      Oven Fried Chicken

                                      I do love me some fried chicken.  I regularly try and get others in the family to agree to the chicken place near our house whenever takeout decisions come up.  Crispy, flavorful skinned chicken thighs, with all the sides just screams YUMMY to me, and feels like a real meal, instead of a burger, fries and a drink.

                                      I served these little lovelies with mac & cheese, biscuits, homemade coleslaw, and threw some wedges in the oven too. Because who doesn't need more carbs in their life? Clearly I need to work on the "balance" in a meal... mmhmm.

                                      This recipe isn't the traditional buttermilk brined chicken that we are all well versed in, and instead uses a non fat greek yogurt and spices to marinate the chicken in first, then a whole wheat flour and spices crust. Then baked, not fried.

                                      We loved this, and will absolutely be making it again. And again.  I think next time I need a dish for a potluck, I'll just do a big batch of these, and claim my crown as "Queen of the good dish bringers" There probably isn't a crown for that, but there totally should be.

                                      ONTO THE RECIPE!

                                      Source: Adapted from

                                      OVEN FRIED CHICKEN

                                      • 1 Cup non fat plain greek yogurt
                                      • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
                                      • 2 garlic cloves, minced
                                      • 2.5 tsp kosher salt (divided – 2 tsp for marinade, ½ tsp for flour mix)
                                      • 1 tsp ground black pepper (divided – ½ tsp for marinade, ½ tsp for flour mix)
                                      • 8 chicken thighs
                                      • ½ C whole-wheat flour
                                      • 1 ½ tsp sweet paprika
                                      • 1 tsp dried thyme
                                      • 1 tsp baking powder

                                      1. Combine yogurt, mustard, garlic, 2 t salt and ½ t black pepper in a bowl, add mixture to a Ziploc bag. Add chicken pieces and turn to coat. Zip the bag closed, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, up to 12 hours.
                                      2. Preheat oven to 425°F
                                      3. Line a rimmed baking/cookie sheet with foil, add a wire rack and spray with olive oil (lightly)
                                      4. Blend together the flour, paprika, thyme, baking powder, remaining ½ tsp salt and remaining ½ tsp pepper in a large Ziploc bag.
                                      5. Take the chicken out of the marinade bag, shake off excess marinade, and add a piece to the flour bag.
                                      6. Shake, the remove and shake off excess coating and place on prepared rack.
                                      7. Repeat with remaining chicken. Throw out the remaining marinade and flour mixture.
                                      8. Lightly spray chicken with olive oil (using a mister) and bake until golden brown and when you get a reading of 160°F on a digital thermometer (test the thickest part of the meat).  Should take around 45-60 minutes.

                                      Friday, October 17, 2014

                                      Lemon "Brownies"

                                      Another coworker's birthday, another attempt at baking. The birthday girl loves lemon, so it was of course to Jaida I turned, since she's a bit of a lemon-aholic herself.... 

                                      I have to give full credit to her, because since I'm not a baker (but I'm trying to branch out!!), I messaged her several times during the process to make sure I hadn't screwed up somewhere along the line. I mean, there's no baking powder in these, which confused me, but my fears were unwarranted. All is well. These turned out amazing!

                                      I used my square brownie pan for this, I just love the little individual cakes it makes, and not having to cut or dig out pieces is a bonus.

                                      Happy birthday, Jeannie!

                                      LEMON "BROWNIES"

                                      • 1 1/2 cups flour
                                      • 1 1/2 cups sugar
                                      • 1/2 tsp salt
                                      • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
                                      • 4 eggs
                                      • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
                                      • 2 tsp lemon zest
                                      For the glaze
                                      • 1 cup powdered sugar
                                      • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
                                      • 1 tsp lemon zest
                                      1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
                                      2. Either line a 9x13 baking pan with foil, leaving enough over the edges that you can use to easily remove the brownies from the pan, or use an individual brownie pan, like mine.
                                      3. In a large bowl or stand mixer, stir together the flour, sugar and salt. Slowly mix in the softened butter, using a hand mixer or stand mixer on low speed until just combined.
                                      4. Whisk together the eggs, lemon juice, and zest. Pour the mixture into the flour mixture and mix until well combined.
                                      5. Pour batter into whichever baking pan you choose and bake for 25-30 minutes (9x13 pan) or 18-25mins (brownie pan), until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
                                      6. Remove and let cool before removing and glazing.
                                      7. Prepare the glaze by mixing the ingredients together in a medium bowl. 
                                      8. If using the 9x13 pan, once the brownies are cooled, pour the glaze over the top and spread with a spatula to evenly coat. Allow it to set , then remove the brownies from the pan (using the overhanging foil), and cut into squares.
                                      9. If using a brownie pan, remove after cooling, and glaze individually (I put the glaze in a zip lock bag, snipped a corner and did a crisscross pattern)

                                      Wednesday, October 15, 2014

                                      Freezer Friendly: Baked Ziti

                                      A while ago, a great friend of mine brought several pans of baked ziti over to my house while I was unexpectedly away in New Zealand, leaving the husband behind. It was a particularly stressful time for me, being so far away, and worrying about things back home. Even things I shouldn't be worrying about, like "is my husband eating well?"

                                      At the time, the husband was a terrible awful horrible cook and before I married him, he was on first name terms with all the delivery places near our house.

                                      My friend (Hi, Courtney!) really set my mind at ease, and dropped off food to my house in my absence. It was so appreciated by the husband, AND me (do you know how much takeout COSTS?!)  

                                      When I returned home, there was just one pan left - and I was able to try it. You guys... if there was ever a dish that could be described as "comfort in a bowl" it's this. Cheesy, gooey, and absolutely delicious - the husband raved about it so much, that my friend actually made him 5 pans of it one year as a Christmas gift! Now, THAT'S a gift!!!

                                      I have attempted several times to replicate it since, and it's only now that I feel like I got the ratios right.  Leftovers are jealously guarded, and gleefully eaten when the other one of us isn't around (so we don't have to share).

                                      I made 4 pans, 3 for the freezer and one to eat that night - as this freezes amazingly well, and reheats perfectly with no loss of quality.  This is a great meal to have hanging about for when you want to help another family out with a meal (we have given pans to our neighbours when they have babies, surgery or other life events), or to have as backup in the freezer for when you need something delicious for dinner yourself. 

                                      I hope you try this!

                                      This recipe makes 4 x 5lb loaf pans (the really big loaf pans), adjust for your pans.

                                      FREEZER FRIENDLY BAKED ZITI

                                      For the meat sauce
                                      1 tablespoon olive oil
                                      2 onions, diced fine
                                      8 large garlic cloves, minced
                                      2lb ground beef
                                      4 x 24oz cans of pasta sauce (or make your own)
                                      salt/pepper to taste
                                      italian seasoning to taste

                                      2lb dry ziti pasta (I used rigatoni in this case)

                                      For assembly
                                      24 x slices provolone cheese
                                      2lb mozzarella cheese, grated
                                      2 x 16oz containers sour cream (I use reduced fat, because have you seen the other ingredients?!)
                                      1 cup parmesan cheese, grated

                                      Meat sauce
                                      1. In a dutch oven, heat the oil and cook the onion until translucent.
                                      2. Add the garlic, and cook for 30 seconds.
                                      3. Add the ground beef, and brown.
                                      4. Add the pasta sauce and seasonings - bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer for 20-30 minutes. 
                                      5. Test for seasoning, and adjust as necessary.

                                      1. Cook the pasta until al dente, and drain


                                      In each pan, layer ingredients in order (see below picture):
                                      1. Pasta
                                      2. Provolone
                                      3. Mozzarella
                                      4. Meat sauce
                                      5. Sour cream

                                        Then repeat:
                                      6. Pasta
                                      7. Provolone
                                      8. Mozzarella
                                      9. Meat sauce

                                        Finish with
                                      10. Parmesan
                                        To eat immediately
                                      11. Bake in a preheated oven (350 degrees) for about 30 minutes, or until it bubbles around the top/sides.
                                        Cool completely, and top with foil. Wrap with plastic wrap.
                                        Cooking from frozen: thaw, bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes or until bubbly around the top/sides.

                                      Monday, October 13, 2014

                                      Crockpot: Cheesy Chicken Tater Tot Casserole

                                      I'm a little ashamed that I like tater tots. I'm a little more ashamed that I used them in a "recipe"

                                      But only a little bit. And only because I think I'm supposed to not enjoy those kind of things.  But - at the end of the day, deliciousness wins. 

                                      Chicken - yum. Bacon - yum. Cheese - yum. Potatoes - yum.
                                      The End.

                                      So, here's what I did!

                                      • 32oz bag frozen tater tots
                                      • 6 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
                                      • 1.5lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, chopped into bite sized pieces
                                      • 1 medium onion, sliced
                                      • 2 cups of cheddar cheese, grated
                                      • 3/4 tsp garlic powder
                                      • seasoned salt (to taste)
                                      • pepper
                                      • 3/4 half & half (you could use milk)

                                      1. Layer the crockpot with 1/3 each of tots, bacon, chicken, seasonings, onion and cheese and repeat until you use all your ingredients.
                                      2. Pour the half & half or milk over the top.
                                      3. Cover, and cook on low for 4-6 hours (depends on your crockpot - mine runs hot, and the chicken was 165 degrees at the 4 hour mark).

                                      Friday, October 10, 2014

                                      Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip

                                      Okay people, GET EXCITED. This is the way to eat cookie dough, without actually having to bake cookies or anything crazy like that. AND if you are all knocked up, you can eat this without worrying about consuming raw eggs, as NO EGGS were HARMED during this recipe process!

                                      Takes just a few minutes to mix, and served with graham crackers (Kiwis - use a plain Super/Vanilla/Round wine biscuit, Aussies - try Milk Arrowroot or Marie - or both of you could use tiny teddies and be done).

                                      A yummy dessert, great to bring to parties or pot lucks or beloved co-worker's birthdays. You WANT to share this, and not eat it all yourself, because... butter, cream cheese...yikes YUM.

                                      • 8oz cream cheese (low fat is fine) - softened
                                      • 1/2 Cup (1 stick) of butter - softened
                                      • 3/4 Cup powdered sugar
                                      • 1/3 Cup dark brown sugar
                                      • 1 tsp vanilla
                                      • pinch of salt
                                      • 1 1/4 Cups mini chocolate chips
                                      1. Beat the cream cheese and butter until fluffy.
                                      2. Add the sugars, vanilla and salt, and beat until well combined.
                                      3. Fold in the chocolate chips.
                                      4. Refrigerate, and serve.

                                      Wednesday, October 8, 2014

                                      One Skillet: Vegetables, Black Beans & Rice

                                      I've been making a concerted effort to meal plan, and to not visit the grocery store more than once every two weeks. Nearing grocery shop day, I just want to use up what I have, and start fresh again the next week.

                                      A quick inventory of the fridge and pantry for a quick dinner, and this dish was born. It pulls together super fast if you use rice that you have leftover, or have in your freezer waiting to be used in just this way.

                                      Even the husband liked this, and didn't comment on the lack of meat. WIN.

                                      • 1 tablespoon oil
                                      • 3 medium zucchini, sliced, or cubed
                                      • 1/2 medium onion, sliced
                                      • 1/2 red pepper, diced
                                      • 2 cloves garlic, minced
                                      • 1-2 tsp italian seasoning (to taste)
                                      • 1 can  black beans, drained, rinsed 
                                      • 1 can fire roasted tomatoes, undrained
                                      • 1/2 cup water
                                      • 2 cups white or brown rice, cooked
                                      • salt/pepper
                                      1. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. 
                                      2. Add zucchini, red pepper and onion, cook 5 minutes, or until browned/charred nicely.
                                      3. Sprinkle the italian seasoning over the vegetables, then add garlic, cook for 30 seconds.
                                      4. Add beans, tomatoes and water.  
                                      5. Add rice and combine together. 
                                      6. Simmer for a few minutes, taste, season with salt/pepper (to taste)
                                      7. Serve
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