Thursday, September 23, 2010

Spinach Stuffed Shells...

I have never made stuffed shells before. I actually bought the shells by mistake when pasta was on sale I grabbed at least 1 of everything. So they sat in my pantry intimidating me for several weeks. So I took the plunge and decided to make them. But how? I went in blind thinking I have watched my husband make a mean lasagna enough times that this was just a little different. They where good.. like really good. They are by no means a quick prep kind of dinner. Maybe over time I could make them faster. I did though prep them during the day so all I had to do was make some garlic bread and pop it in the oven before dinner time so that made up for the long prep time. The best part was that 3 out of 4 kids loved them. My 8 year old is as picky as they come I had a back up meal for her already made because I just know better at this point.

Spinach Stuffed Shells
1 box of large shells cooked according to package directions and drained
reserve 1/2 cup of the water from your pasta
1 pound ground beef (you could use ground turkey too)
1 cup frozen spinach (defrosted, and dried
2 garlic cloves (minced)
2 tbs dried minced onion
1 16oz tub of ricotta cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 egg
1 tsp sugar
1 large jar pasta sauce
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

cook pasta according to directions drain and set aside, while your pasta is cooking you can also brown your beef. Add your pasta sauce to the beef and allow to simmer on low. After you have cooked and drained your pasta return the 1/2 cup of water you reserved and place back in the pan from your pasta and your spinach, garlic & onion. Simmer this until the onion and garlic is cooked. In a large bowl mix your ricotta, Parmesan cheese, sugar & egg. Take 1/2 of your spinach mixture and mix it with the ricotta, take the other 1/2 of your spinach mixture and mix it in with the pasta sauce. In a 10x13 pan place about a cup or so of your sauce in the bottom of the pan (enough to cover the bottom) you will now start stuffing your shells I used a wooden spoon I figure it was about 1/8 of a cup of ricotta, place them in the pan then cover with the remaining sauce and top with mozzarella cheese.

*at this point I covered it with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge to pop in later for dinner.. when it was cold it took about 45 mins at 400 to fully cook. At room temperature I would estimated 25-30 mins at 400.

Saturday, September 18, 2010


Well.. I attempted to make one of those big cupcake cakes round 1 was unsuccessful.. A delicious homemade cake with homemade mocha frosting... Well they say a picture is worth a thousand words...

What a delicious mess! now I can bake well but I have to get to love on the new pan first before we mesh well.

I did though make some pb cookies too. This is not my recipe but if you don't know this recipe you are missing out. It's so simple

1 cup sugar, 1 cup peanut butter & 1 egg... all one bowl, mix well roll into balls and roll in sugar and press with fork bake in a preheated 350 oven for 10-12 mins (if you have a fast cooking oven like mine only about 8 mins)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Mac n' Tuna Bites

I have decided to no longer title each post with a "Day of the Week" type title it is just not reality that I can blog each and everyday so I will keep it to recipe names and other titles appropriate to the subject. One thing for sure is kids love mac and cheese. Noddles good..cheese good...I fully understand. I have made several types of Mac n Cheese over the years and have no definitive recipe for it. I basically have a simple base of butter, flour & milk and add what ever cheeses I have on hand until it is thick, gooey & tasty lol. I made up a big batch of Mac n' Tuna Bites Wednesday afternoon they are perfect for a after school snack or a quick lunch or dinner. I double them and they are gone with in 3 days. For this batch I only had about 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese so I used that plus 1/4 cup mozzarella, 1/8 cup of Parmesan cheese & 6 slices of Havarti dill cheese The kids said these where the best ones ever I thought they where quite tasty too.

Mac n' tuna bites
8oz macaroni noodles
2 TBS butter
2 TBS flour
1 1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 to 2 cups of cheese of your choice
salt & pepper
1 can tuna drained
3/4 cup frozen peas (cooked)
Ritz or saltine crackers
1/8 cup Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350, spray mini muffin pan with cooking spray
cook 8oz macaroni noodles according to the package (and of course drain)
for the cheese sauce in a sauce pan melt butter then stir in flour it will resemble paste
add in 1 & 1/2 cups of milk and whisk to get out clumps. Add your cheeses of your choice
salt and pepper cheese sauce to taste
In a big bowl combine cheese sauce and noodles with one can of drained tuna &Peas
in a ziplock bag crush crackers & add Parmesan cheese
Scoop 1/4 cup of noodle mixture into each tin and sprinkle on about a tsp or so of cracker mixture. Cook for about 12-15 mins allow to cool slightly before removing. These keep well in the fridge for 3-4 days if they last that long
**I don't like tuna so I keep a little of the noodles separate for myself and they hold up just fine with out the tuna
**Thanks to Cathrine at Weelicious for the inspiration for this recipe

Monday, September 13, 2010

Mini Muffin Monday(Granola muffins)

My mini muffin tin is by far the most loved pan in the house. I have discovered that you can make lots of things other then muffins with them. Mini muffins are perfect for tiny toddler tummies that my feel overwhelmed by a big muffin. I like to play around with different recipes and things I have in the house. Last week I was cleaning out the pantry and seen I had a box of bisquick. It has been a good long time since I remember ever buying bisquick so I check the dates and surprisingly enough it was not expired. Then I started wondering other then biscuits or pancakes what can I do with this bisquick. So I started measuring out how much was left and it was 4 cups. That is a lot of bisquick to let go to waste so I started thinking what else do I need to use up? Granola! I had a double batch that I had a little left of. So we call these "Almost Expired muffins" Thats not so appealing and you might not sell to many friends on that Idea.. so Granola Muffins it is lol

Granola Muffins
2 cups of Granola (you can use homemade or store bought)
4 cups of Bisquick baking mix
2 large eggs
1/4 cup Honey or Agave
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 & 1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup mini peanut butter chips

Preheat oven to 375, In a large bowl mix granola & bisquick. In a 2nd bowl whisk together wet ingredients. Gradually mix in the granola/bisquick mixture into the wet ingredients then fold in chocolate & peanut butter chips. Grease your muffin tins and add fill about 2/3 with batter. This recipe can be halved it makes about 48 mini muffins or 24 large muffins. mini muffins will bake in about 12-15 mins, larger muffins about 20-25. Check them with a toothpick and if it comes out crumb free then you know they are done! **you can substitute the chips with dried fruit**

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Ice Cream Sunday..

I am a full believer that Children need sweets..and us grown ups too! At least once a week we will have a special treat. I do try to keep it healthy but sometimes you just need to have a calorie fest lol. This isn't so much a recipe as it is an idea. You can make this as easy or as hard as you want on yourself.

Ice Cream Cookie sandwiches
12 Large Chocolate Chip Cookies
*you can make them using our recipe or your own, buy them from the bakery, or refrigerated cookie dough.
Ice Cream (can be homemade) Vanilla or chocolate
sprinkles, mini chocolate chips, mini m&m's etc.

* Set up some plates with sprinkles, mini chocolate chips, mini m&m's etc. Take 6 cookies and spread about 1/4 cup of ice cream on them. Then place another cookie on top. Press down so that it holds together but careful not to squish the ice cream out. Then roll the sides of the sandwich over a plate with the sprinkles etc. Wrap the sandwich loosely in plastic wrap then again with tin foil. let them freeze for about 1/2 hour to an hour before eating or they will melt to fast.

The kids just love rolling the cookies across sprinkles and such. Lots of variation here. We once did chocolate cookies with chocolate chip mint ice cream and rolled them in crushed Andie's candies. They where really good. We used a healthy cookie recipe and low fat ice cream so it didn't seem as bad for you.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Saturday Soup!

I don't know about your area but its getting cold here. When its cold outside all I can think about is a nice warm bowl of soup. Now in my household this is no easy task. Aside from my oldest daughter the younger kids will only eat raw veggies and 2 of them wont eat beans. Most soups being either veggies, beans or both...well let is just say its enough to make you want to pull your hair out! I did however find the perfect soup everyone could enjoy. I tried several recipes online before I figured out like most recipes to just go with my gut and what I already have. I get the greatest satisfaction out of using what I already have on hand and not having to shop...

Chunky Chicken Corn Chowder
1 pound of cubed chicken breast
4-5 peeled and cubed potatoes
1 small onion diced
1 can creamed corn
3-4 cups frozen corn (I like to use the white and yellow corn mix)
1 12oz can evaporated milk
2 TBSP corn starch
1/4 cup unsalted butter
salt & pepper to taste
shredded cheese

In a large pot melt your butter and cook onions and chicken. Add potatoes and enough water to cover everything and cook until your potatoes are tender. now add your evaporated milk, creamed corn & frozen corn I usually add about another cup of water now too. Bring to a boil. In a small bowl mix corn starch and a small amount of water add this to your pot and bring back to a boil. Add salt and pepper to taste. When in bowls sprinkle a little shredded cheese on top. This makes about enough for 2 adults and 4 small children. if you have a large stock pot you can double it.

I like to go a little Mexican with it sometimes and will add some diced red pepper when I do the onions and will serve with a dollop of sour cream, pico de gaio & tortilla chips.

After reading this...Please take a Moment of Silence to remember the Hero's & Victims of 9/11/01

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Thursday Theme (Pizza)

Just ask your child what they want for the answer almost always pizza?? We likely eat pizza 2-3 times a week in our house. And no its not delivery or Digiorno lol. Pizza is a very versatile food and its so fun to let your kids help.

Making your own dough is really easy I use my bread machine most of the time but some days I just feel like doing it the old fashion way. Making a traditional pizza with homemade dough isn't the only option. You can make pizza on English muffins, pita bread, bagels, tortillas.. even bread. Its so simple when you are not fussing with dough. When we do little pizza like this the kids get so happy knowing they each get their own little pizza and I let them do their own toppings. Even my 1 year old sprinkles her own cheese on.

When making mini pizza with the kids I give them each a pre sauced pita and place it on wax paper. I line up bowls with toppings across the table starting with the cheese, pepperoni, veggies then Parmesan at the end. They make an assembly line of sorts and pull their wax paper down the line as they pick out their toppings. We then place them on the cookie sheet and bake at 350 for about 8-10 mins.. when you are not dealing with dough you pretty much just need to cook until the cheese is melted.

How about Mexican pizza with your taco night leftovers? We generally will do this on English muffins pretty much the same way as above I just use salsa in place of the sauce and will put out left over beef, beans, rice & cheese.. when the pizzas are cooked they can then add sour cream, pico, lettuce, etc..

My husband also makes a wonderful breakfast pizza..I will have to get the recipe from him soon.

and for extra fun..dessert pizza? This works best on regular dough.. you cook just the dough when it comes out brush the crust with butter and sprinkle on some Cinnamon sugar, then I smooth on some vanilla pudding then top with seasonal berries and drizzle the fruit with a bit of honey... YUM!