My favorite cooking shows to watch when I was growing up were “30 Minute Meals with Rachael Ray” and “Semi Homemade Cooking with Sandra Lee.” These ladies taught me to cook meals quicker and to use ready made help to make recipes easier. To this day I still like to incorporate concepts I learned from these cooks.
- 1 pound of lean ground beef
- 1/2 large onion, diced
- 16 ounces of nacho cheese sauce
- 1 cup fresh or frozen peas, defrosted if frozen
- 1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels, defrosted if frozen
- 1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend or cheddar cheese
- 1 28 ounce bag Ore Ida frozen mini tater tots
- Prepare 13″X 9″ baking dish by greasing with cooking spray. Set aside baking dish. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425 F degrees.
- In a skillet, cook ground beef over medium heat 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until no longer pink; drain fat. Add onions and cook an additional 2 minutes. Stir in cheese sauce.
- Place meat and cheese mixture in prepared baking dish.
- Layer peas and corn on top of meat mixture.
- Layer shredded cheese on top of peas and corn.
- Lastly, layer evenly tater tots on top of casserole.
- Baked uncovered 50 minutes or until tater tots are crispy and golden brown and mixture is bubbling.
Do you need a quick side dish or even a main entree? Here’s a recipe even my vegetarian friends can eat. The sauce is not quite an Alfredo Sauce but has most the elements of one. I love how everything is cooked in one pot, because I like to cook, but I hate to clean up.
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 cup milk
- 8 ounces uncooked fettuccine
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
- Melt butter in large skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic and cook stirring frequently, until fragrant; about 1-2 minutes.
- Stir in chicken/vegetable broth, milk and fettuccine.
- Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer. Stir occasionally until pasta is cooked through, about 18 to 20 minutes.
- Stir in Parmesan cheese. Add more milk if mixture is too thick; or more cheese if too thin.
- Add Kosher salt and fresh cracked blck pepper to taste and garnish with chopped parsley.
- Serve immediately.
When I went by the deli area of my local grocery store, I saw they had fresh pizza dough balls. I thought maybe I should make a semi-homemade pizza of some sort. My kid at heart had fun making these skillet pizza rolls. You can choose what items you want. So my vegetarian friends can make vegetarian pizza rolls. But I do suggest sautéing your vegetables before adding to the pizza rolls. I made two different batches in the picture above because I have a huge cast iron skillet. Stick to the recipe if you have a regular size 9 inch cast iron skillet.
- 1 pound pizza dough
- 1/3 cup pizza or pasta sauce
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- pepperoni slices
- sliced black olives
- sautéed mushrooms
- or your choice of toppings
- Preheat oven to 400° F.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 16×10-in. rectangle. Brush with pasta sauce to within 1/2 in. of edges.
- Sprinkle pizza dough evenly with with mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese. And then add your pizza toppings of choice.
- Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with a long side; pinch seam to seal. Cut into eight slices. Place in a greased 9-in. cast-iron skillet or greased 9-in. round baking pan, cut side down.
- Bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
It’s almost Halloween. I thought I’d share an easy and fun recipe to make with the kids or to make for the kids at heart. The unbaked peppers look so cute, but the baked ones look perfectly scary for Halloween with their shrinking skins and their (unintentional) burnt tops. Feel free to stuff your peppers with rice, quinoa and other vegetables if you want to go vegetarian. I just thought the macaroni and cheese resembled the pumpkin innards which made this more fun.
- 3/4 pounds of lean ground beef (or turkey or chicken)
- 1/2 of a red onion. diced
- 1/2 a cup of spaghetti or tomato sauce
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 box (7.25 ounces) Kraft macaroni and cheese (or any other brand)
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup milk
- 6 orange bell peppers
- Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.
- Foil line a small baking sheet.
- In a large skillet, brown the ground meat over medium high heat. Drain excess fat.
- Add onions and cook until almost translucent.
- Add spaghetti/tomato sauce, garlic powder and Italian seasoning. Stir until well mixed and turn off heat.
- Prepare macaroni and cheese according to package using the butter and milk.
- Meanwhile, cut the bell peppers into jack-o-lanterns. Discard the seeds and white membranes. Be sure to leave enough of the top to use as a lid. I like to make sure there is enough opening in the mouths I carve so you can see the noodle mixture coming out like pumpkin guts.
- Once your macaroni and cheese is ready, combine in your large skillet with your meat mixture. Mix well.
- Stuff your peppers with the noodle and meat mixture. Put them on your prepared foil lined baking sheet.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes until bell peppers are tender.
Do you need a quick and easy side dish to take to an office party or family gathering? I’m almost embarrassed to share this recipe because it’s really so simple and all the flavor comes from a store bought pesto sauce. But, hey you had to cook the pasta and cut up everything yourself.
- 1 pound rainbow rotini pasta (or whatever shape of your choice)
- 8 ounces cubed Colby Jack or Mozzarella cheese
- 1 cucumber, diced
- 8 ounces grape tomatoes, sliced in half
- 3.8 ounce can of sliced black olives, drained
- 3/4-1 cup pesto or Italian dressing of your choice
- 8 ounces hard salami cubes (this is optional. I didn’t have any on hand but it tastes wonderful in the salad.)
- Cook pasta according to package directions. Chill in ice bath and remove once pasta is cool.
- While pasta is cooking, cut up cheese, cucumber, tomatoes, and salami if using.
- Add all ingredients into a large bowl and stir in pesto. Mix well.
- Chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes or overnight for the next day.
Happy Cinco de Mayo! This recipe is like a mash up of my Mexican Casserole and a tamale pie recipe I’ve tried in the past. And for my fellow home cooks who like quick recipes, the 35 minutes baking time is the longest you have to wait. I love shortcuts, so if you do not have all the required spices in your cupboards you can also use a packet of taco seasoning. Since there is only two of us at home to eat this, I used half the meat and only one box of the Jiffy cornbread mix and an 8×8 baking pan. Otherwise I used the same amount of all the other ingredients. For my vegetarian friends, omit the ground beef and add pinto beans.
- 2 (8.5 ounce) boxes Jiffy cornbread mix
- 2 eggs
- 2/3 cup milk
- 1 1/2 cups grated Mexican cheese blend; separated into 1/2 cup and 1 cup
- 1 (4 ounce) can diced green chilies (optional)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 small red onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 can black beans (15 ounce)
- 1 cup corn kernels
- 1 can (2.25 ounces) sliced black olives
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 can (10 ounce) Ro-Tel Diced Tomatoes and Green Chiles
- 1 1/2 cup chunky salsa
- Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Meanwhile in a large bowl, prepare Jiffy cornbread mix by combining mix, eggs and milk. Stir well then add 1/2 cup grated Mexican cheese blend. Set aside. (If you like some extra spice, add a small can of diced green chilies to the cornbread mixture.)
- In a skillet add olive oil and cook ground beef over medium high heat until cooked through. Drain any grease. Add onions and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes until onions are tender.
- Add remaining ingredients to the meat mixture in skillet. Mix well and remove from heat.
- In a 9X13 baking pan, add meat and vegetable mixture. Top with 1 cup grated Mexican blend cheese.
- Add prepared cornbread mixture on top of cheese layer. Be sure to spread out evenly.
- Bake in oven for 33-35 minutes or until cornbread turns golden. Enjoy with your favorite beverage.
Chicken and rice are my favorite “go to” ingredients. There are so many ways to prepare the two. For this recipe we are taking the fabulous bold flavors of the Southwest and going Tex Mex style. This is my kind of comfort food wrapped up in one colorful, piping hot bowl of deliciousness. And for my vegetarian friends out there, just skip the chicken.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 chicken breast, pounded thin and cut into small chunks
- 1 small red onion
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 red or orange bell pepper, diced
- 24 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
- 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 cup frozen corn kernels
- 1 can (14 ounces) black beans, drained
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Morton & Bassett Mexican Blend seasoning (cumin, garlic, onion, paprika, pepper and thyme)
- 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
- 1 cup white rice
- 1 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese
- In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat.
- Add chicken pieces and cook each side for 2 minutes or until cooked through. Remove chicken onto a plate and set aside.
- Add onions, bell pepper and garlic to skillet. Cook 1-2 minutes until onions and bell pepper are softened.
- Add crushed tomatoes, broth, corn, and black beans into skillet.
- Next add Mexican blend seasoning, cayenne pepper and brown sugar.
- Bring to a simmer and then add rice.
- Stir, cover with a lid and turn down heat to medium low.
- Cook for about 15 to 18 minutes until rice is cooked and most of liquid is absorbed.
- Add chicken and stir.
- Sprinkle with cheese and cover skillet with lid for 3 to 5 minutes for cheese to melt.
- Serve garnished with green onions or cilantro pieces.