Cheesy Tater Tot Casserole

 

 

Tater Tot Casserole

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.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 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

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Prepare 13″X 9″ baking dish by greasing with cooking spray. Set aside baking dish. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425 F degrees.
  2. 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.
  3. Place meat and cheese mixture in prepared baking dish.  Tater Tot Casserole 1
  4. Layer peas and corn on top of meat mixture. Tater Tot Casserole 2
  5. Layer shredded cheese on top of peas and corn. Tater Tot Casserole 3
  6. Lastly, layer evenly tater tots on top of casserole.
  7. Tater Tot Casserole 4
  8. Baked uncovered 50 minutes or until tater tots are crispy and golden brown and mixture is bubbling.

 

Tater Tot Casserole 6

Easy Chicken and Rice Bake

No peak chicken

After weeks of health issues and doctor and specialists appointments, I just want to think about something else. ANYTHING else. These days, I have been making easy recipes. Some are so embarrassingly easy I just can’t get the nerve to post them on this blog. This recipe is probably one of them. Don’t be too hard on me. Remember, I’ve not been well lately.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups long grain rice
  • 1 can cream of chicken
  • 1 can cream of mushroom
  • 1 empty soup can of water
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 pack Lipton onion soup mix

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.
  2. Prepare a  9″ x 13″ baking dish by greasing with cooking spray.
  3. In a large bowl, mix rice, cream of chicken, cream of mushroom, water, Italian seasoning and garlic powder.
  4. Pour rice mixture in prepared baking dish.
  5. Place chicken breasts on top of rice mixture.
  6. Salt and pepper each chicken breast.
  7. Spoon equal amounts of dry onion soup mix on top of each chicken breast. No peak chicken 1
  8. Cover dish with foil.
  9. Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes. No peaking!
  10. Garnish with chopped parsley. (Optional)No peak chicken 2

Skillet Orange Chicken

Skillet Orange Chicken 3

I don’t like to deep fry foods. I mean, I like to eat deep fried foods. I just don’t like dealing with the all that oil splattering and the clean up afterwards. And also, I’m a bad luck magnet. If you can get burned or cut or hurt by something, 8 out of 10 times I will be that person. This is as close to deep frying as I get by skillet or pan frying foods. So for those of you who were wondering why I didn’t deep fry my chicken for this recipe, now you know.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

SAUCE INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup orange marmalade
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened orange juice
  • 1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (less or more according to your tastes)
  • 1/3 cup low sodium chicken broth

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a large bowl, mix together 3 tablespoons cornstarch, salt and pepper.
  2. Add chicken pieces into cornstarch mixture. Stir to coat.
  3. Heat large pan over high heat and add oil. (add more oil if needed to coat bottom of pan)
  4. Add chicken to the pan. Continue cooking over high heat until browned and turn over. About two minutes per side. Skillet Orange Chicken 1
  5. Meanwhile make the orange sauce. In a medium bowl, whisk together the 2 tablespoons cornstarch, marmalade, orange juice, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, ginger, pepper flakes, and chicken broth.
  6. Once the chicken is browned, reduce heat to medium and add the sauce mixture. Cook and stir until sauce has thickened and chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes.
  7. Serve over rice. Garnish with green onions if desired.
  8. This recipe makes up to 4 servings. Skillet Orange Chicken 2

Pineapple Pulled Pork

Pineapple Pulled Pork

It’s officially summer over here. When it gets over 100 degrees I don’t want to do anything but lay under the ceiling fan and melt until the air conditioner gets going. Needless to say, I sure don’t want to be cooking in a hot kitchen. That’s where my crock pot comes in handy. Let it do all the work and I get all the credit. I’d say that’s a big win.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3-4 pound pork shoulder (butt) roast
  • 1/3 cup Hoisin sauce (found in your grocery store international aisle)
  • 1 cup fresh or canned pineapple, mashed
  • 2 cups chicken stock

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Place pork roast in crock pot. Cover roast in the Hoisin sauce  and 1/2 of the mashed pineapple. Save the other half of mashed pineapple to serve on shredded pork.
  2. Pour in chicken stock.
  3. Set crock pot to High and set timer for 5 hours.
  4. Once pork is done, shred pork with two forks. Pineapple Pulled Pork 2
  5. Serve on Hawaiian bread rolls, or regular dinner rolls or tortillas.
  6. Enjoy!

Pineapple Pulled Pork 1

One Pot Swedish Meatballs and Noodles

Swedish Meatballs 2

I remember when my dad  was in the hospital, he used to say how much he liked their food. And I would think to myself, “Must be the drugs they gave him.” I recently spent four days in the same hospital my dad stayed. So I got to eat quite a few of the same meals there myself. None of my meals were outstanding or deserved rave reviews like my dad gave them. But the one thing they had in common was they were comforting. Comfort foods, like meatloaf and mashed potatoes or roasted chicken.  Foods that made you feel better being alone in a strange place and stuck in a strange bed for whatever scary health reason you are there.  So maybe that’s why my dad raved so much.  I have no idea what this has to do with my Swedish meatballs and noodles recipe, but I do consider it a comfort meal. And being in the hospital made me think of my dad.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound lean ground beef (Use 1/2 a pound, if you like smaller meatballs)
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1 cup seasoned panko or breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pepper for meatballs
  • 1 teaspoon salt for meatballs
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 2 cups heavy cream or milk
  • 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
  • 4 cups uncooked egg noodles
  • 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • fresh parsley, chopped for garnish
  • salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  1.  In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, onion, breadcrumbs, eggs, salt and pepper. Shape your meatballs into 1-2 tablespoons sized balls.
  2. Heat your oil in a pot over medium high heat. Place your meatballs into the pot. Cook meatballs for 1 -2 minutes and flip.
  3. Add the beef broth and heavy cream (or milk) and worcestershire sauce and stir well.
  4. Bring the liquid to a boil, then add the egg noodles. Stir every minute, until the pasta is cooked and the liquid has reduced to a sauce that coats the noodles. 6-8 minutes.
  5. Add the parmesan cheese and stir until cheese is melted.
  6. Garnish with chopped parsley and add salt and pepper to taste.

Swedish Meatballs 1

Easy Mexican Rice

Mexican Rice 5

Happy Cinco de Mayo! I never need a special reason to eat or make Mexican food.  Once you see how easy this rice is to make, you will be volunteering to bring the Mexican rice to your family gatherings or potlucks.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 2 1/2 cups uncooked long grain white rice
  • 3 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • chopped cilantro or green onions for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Add 3 tablespoons oil in a deep skillet and heat over medium high heat. Add the rice and stir constantly until the rice turns golden brown.Mexican Rice 1
  2. Next add the chicken or vegetable stock. The mixture will bubble up and should be followed by the tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper and salt.Mexican Rice 3
  3. Bring to a boil and and stir to dissolve the tomato paste into the stock mixture and rice.
  4. Cover with skillet with a lid and turn down the heat to low and set timer for 20 minutes.
  5. When the rice is done, fluff with a fork.
  6. Garnish with chopped cilantro or green onions.Mexican Rice 4

 

Pork Carnitas

Carnitas 4

Growing up, my parents made Chinese food at least 90% of the time. So you would think my blog would be mostly Chinese food recipes. Nope. Once I moved out and was left to cook on my own I enjoyed trying all sorts of new food types and trying new recipes. If you ask my kids, they will tell you I can eat Mexican food everyday of the week. It’s true. Pork carnitas is one recipe I love as it is not particularly hard to make. And if you get a large pork shoulder, it makes enough for a crowd or you have leftovers for days. This recipe makes at least 12 servings!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3-4 pounds pork shoulder
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 1 bulb garlic, crushed
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 8 cups low sodium chicken broth

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven over high heat. Season the pork shoulder with salt, then arrange the pork in the Dutch oven. Cook until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the onion, garlic, lime juice, chili powder, oregano, and cumin. Pour in the chicken broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and continue to simmer until pork is very tender, about 2 1/2 hours.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  4. Transfer the pork shoulder to a large baking sheet, reserving the cooking liquid. Drizzle with a small amount of the reserved cooking liquid.Carnitas 1
  5. Bake the pork in the preheated oven until browned, about 30 minutes. Drizzle more of the cooking liquid on the meat every 10 minutes, and use two forks to shred the meat as it browns. (Keep in mind, the objective of the final step is to get slightly crispy outside with a moist, tender inside.)
  6. Carnitas 2
  7. Serve the carnitas with warm, fresh tortillas and pico de gallo or whatever you like! I like to make mine into tacos. Carnitas 3