Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Cheesy Enchilada Casserole

Recently, I happened across an AMAZING recipe website. I don't know where this has been all my life, but I'm so glad I found it! The site is Six Sisters' Stuff, and with six women sharing recipes and ideas, it moves fast but has awesome content!

I've found approximately six gazillionty-five recipes there that I want to try, but I'm trying to just keep a list and work things in as I am menu planning.  This week, we tried a recipe for Cheesy Enchilada Casserole that had me drooling (as a bonus, my husband ADORES Mexican food, and making this recipe would get me out of a weekend trip to our local Mexican restaurant, which has decent but ridiculously oversalted food and leaves me - and anything I was wearing or carrying - smelling like fajitas for the next three days!)



I also liked the recipe because, in keeping with my goal to get back to natural, unprocessed foods, it let me test-drive two other new recipes on my list - this one for homemade Zesty Italian Dressing, and the Wildtree Fiesta Salsa Mix that Angie recently gave me (and no, lest you start to wonder, I'm not getting kickbacks from Wildtree for all these product mentions - more's the pity!) Both the dressing and the salsa were awesome!  But on to the casserole...

I've tried other recipes on the theme of "layered Mexican casserole," including my friend Michelle's Tortilla Stacker and Rachael Ray's Mexican Lasagna. RRay's is pretty good and was my go-to (made with beef) before I found Michelle's. Michelle's recipe is better (and as a bonus, the filling can also be frozen and used for quick burritos or tacos on a weeknight). 

This one from Six Sisters is also great, but I think could be improved with a can of green chiles or jalapenos, or even chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.  You could also use pepper jack cheese instead of the Mexican variety (which I don't find to be very spicy).  For my taste, and hubby's, the recipe needs a little more kick, but I wanted to try this one as directed first, partly to see if (as advertised) my toddler would actually eat it (that jury is still out!).  So I will make again, but will try one or more of those additions.

Except for making my own salsa, taco seasoning and Italian dressing, using regular-fat-everything and using fresh corn (2 ears) instead of canned, I made this one as directed and can recommend it!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Menu Plan Monday! Week of August 19, 2012



It's another week of August here, but I can see the finish line! Fall is my FAVORITE season, and I'm always happy to see summer GO. I know, that sounds strange to many people in other parts of the country or world, but here in the US Southeast, it's too hot for this girl! I look forward to crisp, clear fall days and enjoying being outside again! And because we have looooong summers and short fall and spring seasons, I consider fall to begin on Sept. 1. I don't care what the calendar says!

This week, we are continuing to work on cleaning out our deep-freeze so that it can be defrosted. It's easiest to defrost when we can simply empty, unplug and drag it out the back door of the basement into the sun. It can then defrost and drain, and I can clean it without making a mess in the house. But it is currently FULL of food and we need to eat that first, so here's the plan! Italics indicate a new recipe we haven't tried.

Sunday: Pepper Steak with Brown Rice (I have one package of beef tips languishing in the freezer); Peach Cobbler Cake with vanilla ice cream

Monday: Balsamic Grilled ChickenSouthern Creamed Corn (I always make this on the stovetop and don't bother with the casserole step), Broccoli

Tuesday: Sauteed Salmon with Lemon Butter OR Salmon with Peas in Butter Broth, Onion Roasted Potatoes (I'll either use salmon filets we have frozen, or if the second recipe, some frozen cooked salmon I had been saving to make salmon patties)

Wednesday: Crockpot Buffalo Chicken Lasagna, Salad with Lemon Parmesan Dressing

Thursday: Leftovers

Friday: Chicken and Vegetable Pot Stickers, Lemon-Parsley Noodles

Saturday: Leftovers/out to eat

So what's on your menu this week?  This menu is linked to Menu Plan Mondays over at OrgJunkie.com; hop on over to join the fun!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Super Fast Skillet Kielbasa with Rice

Ah....the flavors (if  not yet the weather!) of glorious FALL! This dish is Octoberfest on a plate!



This dish is based on a Taste of Home recipe I have been wanting to try for ages.  I finally pulled it out and made it last week, and it was a huge hit with EVERYONE in the house, including my toddler! (Life doesn't get better than that, y'all!)  I made enough modifications to the original recipe that I'm going to rewrite the recipe here as I prepared it.  I am trying to move away from prepared/processed/canned foods (especially canned "cream of..." soups, which I LOVE but am slowly finding great homemade alternatives for). That said, my energy for the day did not extend to making homemade cream soup LOL, but I tried to "healthy-it-up" everywhere else, and I'll give examples of/brands for how I did that. Best of all, this recipe is a ONE-DISH dinner and cooks in no time! And it is a total freezer/pantry meal at my house, too. Easy to keep all these ingredients on hand!

I hope your family loves this as much as we did! I think it is going to be a permanent fixture in our menu rotation!

Super Fast Skillet Kielbasa with Rice


1 can (10.75 oz) condensed cream of celery soup
3/4 cup water
1 Tbsp butter
3/4 pound smoked pork kielbasa (I used Applegate Farms Organic)
1 bag Success boil-in-bag whole grain brown rice
5 oz frozen peas (I used Cascadian Farms Organic)
1/2 a square package sliced baby portabello mushrooms (to taste, really)
3/4 cup (3 oz) shredded cheddar cheese, or more to taste (I used Cabot Seriously Sharp)
1 Tbsp olive oil
Pepper to taste (I didn't find it to need extra salt, but feel free!)

Slice sausage however you prefer; I like quarter-rounds so they are bite size pieces.  Chop mushrooms just a bit for similar-size pieces.  Heat a large cast-iron skillet (or similar large pan) and add a Tbsp or so of olive oil (or butter).  Briefly brown the sausage and mushrooms (this quick step adds an extra depth of flavor). Remove to a plate.  Add soup, water and butter to pan and whisk to combine; bring to a boil. Add rice, cover, reduce heat and simmer (stirring OFTEN to prevent sticking) about 18 minutes or until rice is almost tender.  Stir in sausage, mushrooms and peas.  Add pepper to taste. Cover and simmer for another 15 minutes or so until heated through and flavors are blended.  Sprinkle cheese over the top and let stand until cheese melts.

I served this with Wildtree Beer Bread, a new (and all-natural) product line my friend Angie graciously shared with me.  We LOVED it! The flavors went perfectly together. (Ah, if I'd only been able to add a Sam Adams Octoberfest beer to my meal, but for now, I'll have to settle for the bread LOL!)

This recipe is linked over at Tempt My Tummy Tuesday! Come join the fun!
Hope you enjoy!




Monday, August 13, 2012

Menu Plan Monday!



Another week has flown by! We are still trying some new recipes each week, and so far, ALL have been winners! I'll post the details on these soon.

Meanwhile, I'm getting back into the groove of menu planning, cooking and shopping according to my menu.  So far, so good, and I'm pleased that each week the fridge is basically empty, indicating we're no longer wasting as much food as we seem to when I don't practice these habits! YAY!

A new school year began here this week, which is always exciting and makes me sort of shift gears for fall (though our son is not yet school age, knowing school is back in makes me *feel* like life has a different pace).  This change of pace has me excited for football season, cooler weather, and my favorite season - FALL!

We'll be trying another new recipe this Sunday, as well as working through our current freezer stash (our deep freeze needs to be defrosted, and it's got to be mostly empty before I can do that!)

Here's the plan! We're eating a lot of broccoli for sides this week, because I forgot to get salad and/or spinach at the store! I'm also trying to move toward whole-foods and all-natural-ingredient recipes, so I will include some notes about these goals below.

Sunday: Cheesy Enchilada Casserole, Broccoli. Can't wait to try this casserole, as hubby adores Mexican food, and will be using Wildtree Salsa Mix (a new product we haven't tried) and making homemade taco seasoning for this recipe.

Monday: Leftovers for us; will be making Citrus Roast Chicken for my little guy this week. Trying to get away from supermarket rotisserie chicken!

Tuesday: Whole Grain Baked Tilapia, Baby Lima Beans, Crescent Rolls. The tilapia is all-natural and comes from Costco.

Wednesday: Chicken Spaghetti, Broccoli. This is a freezer pleaser for us, but next time I make it I want to try making homemade cream of chicken soup.

Thursday: Pinto Beans and Ham (oh, so yummy and so simple! TWO ingredients! I use organic beans and all-natural ham.), Southern Cornbread

Friday: Weeknight Lasagna Toss, Broccoli

Saturday: Birthday party at friends' house

For more menu inspiration, head over to OrgJunkie!


Monday, August 6, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

So it's a new week, and I'm doing pretty well lately with menu planning... so, I thought I would now try getting back to blogging my meal plans!

We're making some favorites this week, as well as trying some new things. I will definitely report back on how the new items fare!

Here's the plan:

Monday: Crockpot Cube Steak, Egg Noodles, Green Salad with Kalamata Vinaigrette

Tuesday: Fresh Salmon, Corn on the Cob, Green Salad

Wednesday: Chicken and Biscuit Casserole, Broccoli

Thursday: Leftovers

Friday: Pot Stickers (my new FAVORITE, delicious-all-natural-make-your-own-takeout freezer food!), Brown Rice or Lemon-Parsley Linguine

Saturday: Keilbasa Skillet, Wildtree Beer Bread, Wilted Spinach

Sunday: Leftovers

Check out Menu Plan Monday at Orgjunkie for more weeknight meal ideas!

Turkey Meatloaf with Feta and Sun-dried Tomatoes



I've been on an Italian kick recently, and as many of you know, Giada de Laurentiis is one of my favorite chefs. I have never made a recipe of hers that didn't turn out, and this was another GDL recipe that's been languishing in my "to try" stack.  It's another great weeknight recipe that will definitely be going into our rotation! For me and probably many of you, this is a great pantry meal (and I will explain why in the notes, below).

Hubby liked it too, so much so that he wants it to replace another turkey (meatball) recipe we usually make - he thinks this one is more flavorful.   I still like both recipes, because the other one is simply a different flavor profile to me (AND it's a great freezer meal that I can prep ahead and then bake the night of; I haven't tried freezing this mixture yet).  But I will definitely be making this again, and recommend it wholeheartedly! And I will update if I do freeze it and let you know how that goes.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup chopped garlic and herb-marinated (oil-packed) sun-dried tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons milk
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1.3 pounds ground turkey breast (one package; could also use ground turkey)
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a loaf (or meatloaf) pan as desired (I use olive oil because I don't  like cooking spray). Beat the eggs in a large bowl and add the bread crumbs, parsley, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, milk, salt, and pepper. Add the turkey and feta and gently stir to combine; do not overwork meat. 

Place mixture into prepared pan. I like the top of my meatloaf to remain a bit lumpy, as this results in nice browning on the top surface.  Drizzle top with olive oil and bake about 40-45 minutes, until golden brown on top and cooked through (note that melted cheese may puddle a bit on top, and this is fine). Remove from the oven and let rest for a few minutes. Serve and enjoy!

Notes: I served this with my favorite stovetop potatoes, which I think went great with the overall Italian theme of the main dish.  They cook in about the same amount of time.  You could also add a salad; I was too lazy this time to do so. I love this as a pantry meal, because I usually have all these ingredients (except fresh turkey and fresh parsley) in the house. I keep feta crumbles in my freezer, and I keep sundried tomatoes on hand from Costco (the oil-packed ones keep forever in the fridge, and you can buy them already julienned/chopped, which is a huge time saver!)

The original recipe is here, and I found a lot of reviews suggesting tweaks that sound yummy, but which I haven't yet tried.  Many used oats in place of crumbs (something I usually do) and I'll probably try that next time; some also topped with mozzarella or provolone cheese (which sounds heavenly) and which I will probably also try.  Lastly, I used a true "meatloaf" pan - one with the tray that lets fat drip below as the meat cooks; this is always handy and I recommend it if you make meatloaf often, but it is by no means required.

I hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Awesome Ravioli Casserole



Oh, this little neglected blog of mine!

In some ways, I can't believe how long it's been since I was able to post here. But in other ways, I can believe it, and only too well... SO very much has happened in the last year and a half. Rather than one lengthy catch-up post, I will fill you in as I go along. But for now, I want to try to jump back in right where I am! So, I hope some of you will follow along with me, and I hope I can provide you with some yummy, taste-tested new recipes as we roll into a new school year and - my favorite season - fall!

Lately, I have taken on the project of attempting to organize my recipe mess collection. Reviewing that collection has reminded me of how very many recipes I have clipped, saved, bookmarked, etc. to try - so I'm finally trying some new ones! I find recipes all over the place, and this one came from a free Publix magazine about a year ago. We made it last week, and it was DELIGHTFUL. Even the leftovers were excellent, and we liked it so much that I think it may permanently replace lasagna in our dinner rotation. So much faster and EASIER than that dish, but with all the wonderful flavors (and a few even yummier ones) - it's a weeknight wonder (with planned-leftovers, if you wish) and it's earned a new place in my favorites. Best of all, it is flexible AND can be prepared the night before or early in the day. Yum yum!

As mentioned, I tore this out of a magazine, and I have not been able to locate it online to link for you, but I will post the recipe and some pics for you to enjoy. Hope you'll try it, and hope your family loves it as much as we did!


Ravioli Casserole Uses: 9x13 baking dish or casserole pan

Ingredients:

1 (20 oz) package refrigerated cheese, beef or chicken ravioli
1/2, to 3/4 of a (7 oz) jar oil-packed chopped sundried tomatoes, drained
2-3 cups chopped broccoli florets, to taste (frozen and uncooked is fine)
1.5 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1.5 cups shredded monterey jack cheese
8 eggs
2.5 cups milk

Grease pan (I used butter). Arrange ravioli in bottom of pan, and top evenly with tomatoes and broccoli. Combine cheeses and sprinkle these over broccoli. Whisk together milk and eggs (I added a little freshly ground pepper too) and pour over layers. Cover and chill for anywhere from 2-24 hours. Remove from fridge half an hour before baking. Bake uncovered at 350 for 40-45 minutes, or until top is golden and center is firm. Let stand about 10 minutes before cutting.

Notes: I used cheese ravioli this time because the recipe called for it, but I plan to use a chicken and spinach ravioli next time (one that we find at Costco) and I think it will be even more delicious. I'm a meat lover, so just felt like it needed some meat! But it was also great with the cheese ravioli. If you want it to mimic lasagna as closely as possible, try a beef ravioli and maybe some mozzarella cheese on top...it's a pretty flexible recipe!
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