Thursday, December 26, 2013

Sausage, Rice & Noodle Casserole

It has been quite a while since I made this casserole, which used to be a staple of our newly-wed days. I don't know why it's taken me so long, because after making it again I remembered how yummy it is. It's easy and the sausage makes it a little different from your average casserole. My kids loved it, even my 1 year old, so I'm sure I'll start making it more regularly. It's such a homey tasting dinner.

Sausage, Rice, and Noodle Casserole

1 lb bulk pork sausage (I used 12 oz Jimmy Dean reduced fat sausage)
1 onion, chopped
1 cup rice
1/2 cup slivered almonds
4 cups water
2 envelopes dry Lipton Chicken Noodle Soup mix

Brown sausage with onion in a large skillet. Add rice and slivered almonds and cook until almonds just start to brown; spread into a 9x13 baking dish.

Meanwhile, boil 4 cups of water and add Lipton Chicken Noodle Soup Mixes to it. Stir well. Pour this over the sausage/rice mixture in the baking dish, stir around to distribute ingredients evenly. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 1 hour. Take foil off and bake another 10 minutes or until rice is cooked through.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Green Beans Almondine

This is such a great, classic side dish. I love green beans, especially with the nutty flavor of browned butter and almonds. It is also a great side dish for holiday dinners like Thanksgiving and Christmas. You could make these green beans extra special by adding cooked and crumbled bacon and Craisins. I used frozen green beans,  because that's what I had on hand, but you could also use fresh green beans.

Green Beans Almondine

2 lbs frozen green beans (I used frozen whole green beans)
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup slivered almonds
garlic salt, to taste
salt, to taste
ground pepper, to taste

Place green beans in a colander and rinse with water (I find this gets rid of any freezer burn taste). Place rinsed green beans in a microwave safe bowl, cover, and microwave on high for about 8 minutes or until green beans are heated through. Drain green beans and set aside.

In a large skillet melt butter. Add slivered almonds and cook on medium high heat until butter and almonds just start to brown. Add in green beans, a few shakes of garlic salt, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss green beans with butter and almonds and heat through. Serve immediately

Friday, December 13, 2013

Crock Pot Stuffing Chicken

This is a great crockpot chicken recipe. It's easy and the chicken turns much moister than a lot of crockpot chicken recipes. I bet you could make this with frozen chicken breasts, just increase the cooking time a little. I served it with green beans almondine (recipe coming soon) and crescent rolls. It was a lovely dinner.

Crock Pot Stuffing Chicken

5 chicken breasts, thawed
1 box chicken Stove Top stuffing mix
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
1 can cream of chicken soup

Place chicken breasts in the bottom of slowcooker. Dump box of stuffing mix (the dry mix) on top of chicken. In a bowl combine sour cream, milk, and cream of chicken soup. Spread the soup mixture on top of the stuffing. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours. Fluff stuffing and soup mixture with a fork and serve stuffing over the chicken.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Creamy Creamed Corn

I think creamed corn is a rather polarizing vegetable - either you love it or hate it. Well I think this recipe can change your mind if you're in the "hate it" camp. It is not like the canned stuff at all and it is oh so decadently creamy and yummy. How can you go wrong with corn, cream, and butter?? It's really good. I made it for Thanksgiving and I think I changed a lot of negative opinions on creamed corn with this recipe.

Creamy Creamed Corn

2, 20 oz packages frozen corn (40 oz total)
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons melted butter
3 tablespoons flour
ground black pepper to taste (I use about 1/4 teaspoon)

In a large saucepan/pot, combine frozen corn, cream, milk, sugar, and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk together melted butter and flour. Pour this flour mixture into the corn and stir well. Bring to a boil again and cook until thickened. Add pepper to taste and more salt if necessary.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

60 Minute French Bread

This is a fast, easy, bread to make to go along with any dinner and the bread is so good. I am so glad I tried yet another French bread recipe because I love this one. It's from the blog Jamie Cooks it up. I was so surprised that it was made from start to finish in one hour. And it makes 3 loaves! We only ate one loaf with cheesy chicken and rice soup the other night, so I put the other 2 loaves in the freezer and I plan on making garlic bread with them to go with spaghetti and meatballs.

60 Minute French Bread

1 cup boiling water
1/3 cup warm water
1 tablespoon instant yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon shortening (I used butter flavored)
1 cup cold water
5-6 cups bread flour
1 egg

Preheat oven to 170 degrees.

Fill a glass measuring cup with 1 cup of water; microwave until boiling, about 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, fill another glass measuring cup with 1/3 cup warm water. Stir 1 tablespoon of yeast into the water with a fork. Stir until yeast is completely dissolved. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together: 2 tablespoons of sugar, 1 tablespoon of salt, and 1 tablespoon of shortening; pour the 1 cup of boiling water over these ingredients and mix for about 30 seconds. Add 1 cup COLD water. Pour in the yeast/water mixture. Add 3 cups of bread flour and turn mixer on to slow speed. Add flour one cup at a time until you have a fairly firm dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl (for me I added about 2 1/2 more cups of flour for a total of 5 1/2 cups of flour used). Knead dough on high speed for 8 minutes. Let dough rest in bowl of mixer for 5 minutes.

Turn out dough onto a non-stick sprayed surface. Divide dough into 3 equal pieces. Let dough rest for another 5 minutes.

Take one section of dough and press into a rectangle with your fingers. Roll from smaller side, tucking under ends and sealing seams. Place on a non-stick sprayed cookie sheet. Repeat with other 2 dough pieces. Cut 3-4 angled slits in the formed loaves. Beat egg in a small bowl until frothy. Brush each loaf with beaten egg (this gives it a nice shiny crust).

Place cookie sheet with loaves into the preheated 170 degree oven and let rise for about 15 minutes (leave oven at 170, don't turn it off). Turn up oven to 400 degrees, leave loaves in oven while it comes up to temperature, and bake for 15-20 minutes or until tops of loaves are golden. Turn down oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Remove loaves from cookie sheet and cool on a wire rack.

Monday, November 25, 2013

No-Bake Individual Creamy Pumpkin Pies

Sometimes pumpkin pie can be a little heavy. This is a great, creamy, pumpkin pie treat that is not heavy at all. It's actually more like a light pumpkin cheesecake and it's made in individual servings - yummy and cute! So if you're looking for a different pumpkin pie recipe for Thanksgiving, give this a try. It's really delicious.

No-Bake Individual Creamy Pumpkin Pies

1 sleeve graham crackers (9 sheets of crackers)
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar

8 oz package cream cheese, softened
15 oz can pumpkin
3 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1, 1 oz package sugar-free cheesecake instant pudding mix
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
12 oz tub Cool Whip, thawed

prepared whipped cream
ginger snap cookies

Place graham crackers in a food processor and pulse until crackers are ground into fine crumbs. Add melted butter, sugar, and brown sugar. Pulse until combined. Place 2 tablespoons of this mixture into the bottom of 10-12 half pint canning jars, ramakins, or small plastic cups and press with a spoon just to make crust an even layer. Place jars in fridge to set while you make the filling.

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat cream cheese until light and creamy. Add pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, and instant pudding mix and beat until completely mixed, scraping down sides of the bowl. Add sweetened condensed milk and mix until combines. Mix in Cool Whip until well combined. Cover mixture with plastic wrap and allow to chill in fridge for 1 hour.

Place chilled filling in a pastry bag with large tip, or use a large ziplock and snip the corner off. Pipe the filling into the jars on top of the graham cracker crusts. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

To serve, top individual pie with whipped cream and a ginger snap cookie if desired.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Thin Pizza Crust Dough (makes 2 large pizzas)

This is a great pizza crust recipe from Pioneer Woman. I had been wanted to try this for a while, but I kept forgetting to make it early in the week, the dough ages for 2-4 days in the fridge. Finally, I just made it one Wednesday morning and on Friday night baked it into the most wonderful thin crust pizzas. The finished pizzas reminded me of Ledo's Pizza, one of our favorite pizza places when we lived in Maryland. Really, really yummy. I am a huge fan of thin crust pizza, but about half of the rest of my family likes thicker crusts, so I'll probably rotate this recipe with my ususal pizza recipe for future pizza nights.

As a Note: I've seen this dough listed with 1 teaspoon of yeast and with 2 teaspoons of yeast and I'm sure either would work, though this time I used 1 teaspoon of yeast and with the 2 1/2 days of proofing time in the fridge it worked great. I would probably use 2 teaspoons of yeast if I was making this dough for use on the same day.

Thin Pizza Crust Dough

1 teaspoon yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup olive oil

In a measuring cup, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water. Set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer, combine flour and salt. Add olive oil and mix until just combined. Add yeast/water mixture and mix until just combined and dough pulls cleanly away from the bowl. Spray the inside of a large ziplock bag with cooking spray. Place dough in bag and seal. Place in the fridge for 2-4 days. *Alternatively, if making pizza the same day you can place dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise for a couple of hours.

Making Pizzas:
Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Take 1/2 of the dough and roll it out to the size of a cookie sheet. Spray cookie sheets with cooking spray and place rolled out dough on cookie sheet, stretching out dough to the edges. Repeat with other half of the dough. Top uncooked crusts with pizza sauce, then shredded mozzarella, and toppings of choice. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until crust is golden and cheese is bubbly - I found cooking pizzas on bottom racks helps them cook on top and bottom best. Remove from oven and cut into squares.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Fluffy Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

This is a great recipe for whole wheat bread that rises well, slices well, and has a very light texture - perfect for sandwich bread. In fact I make this bread when I want homemade bread for our sandwiches for dinner nights (one of my kids' favorite meals). The secret to a good rise is the vital wheat gluten. It will rise without the gluten, but I find adding a little gluten really helps, especially at the high altitude I cook at (over 6000 ft.). Also using white whole wheat flour helps this bread to have a fluffy texture, but you can use regular whole wheat flour instead.

As a note: I made this bread in a Bosch mixer, which allows me to make this bread really fast. The 10 minutes kneading time in the Bosch makes it so you don't have to have 2 rises. Of course you can make this bread in a different stand mixer or by hand. If making this bread by hand I would allow the dough 2 rises; once after initial mixing in an oiled bowl and then after the loaves are shaped and put in bread pans. 

Fluffy Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

2 3/4 cups warm water
1/4 cup sugar (or honey)
1/4 cup oil (or melted butter)
1 tablespoon instant yeast
1 heaping tablespoon vital wheat gluten (I use Bob's Red Mill)
1 tablespoon nonfat dry milk powder
1/2 cup white bread flour
1 tablespoon salt
4-6 cups white whole wheat flour (or regular whole wheat flour)

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with dough hook, mix together warm water, sugar, oil, yeast, vital gluten, dry milk, and white bread flour. Mix until combined. Add 2 cups of the wheat flour and 1 tablespoon of salt. Mix. Continue adding wheat flour until the dough forms a ball and the sides of the bowl are mostly cleaned, for me I added 3 1/2 cups more for a total of 5 1/2 cups of wheat flour. The dough should be soft, but not overly sticky. Knead with dough hook on high for 10 minutes.

Grease 2 loaf pans generously with cooking spray. Turn dough out onto a non-stick sprayed surface. Divide dough in half and shape each half into a loaf. Place loaves into the bread pans and cover with non-stick sprayed plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place for 50-90 minutes (time will depend on how warm your kitchen is) or until dough rises about an inch to an inch and a half over the pan. 

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake risen loaves at 350 for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown on top and loaves sound hallow when you tap them. Remove from oven and brush with melted butter if desired. Allow to cool in pans for 5 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Cheeseburger Chowder

This might be a horrible picture, it's so dark at dinner time right now, but this is a delicious soup. I got this recipe years ago from an episode of Sara Moulton's show, Cooking Live, on the Food Network (does anyone else remember that show - I loved it), though I have recently seen this recipe pop up all over the place on Pinterest. It is just a wonderful soup that tastes a lot like a cheeseburger. It's thick and rich and cheesy. Yum. I served it with some homemade Italian bread and it was a great dinner for a cold night - totally family pleasing.

Cheeseburger Chowder

1 lb ground beef
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup diced celery
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried parsley
4 cups chicken broth
4 cups diced potatoes (about 2 large or 3 medium)
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup flour
16 oz Velveeta, cubed
1 1/2 cups milk
3/4 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste
1/4 cup sour cream
Topping: shredded cheese, diced tomatoes, or pickles (optional)

In a large saucepan or soup pot, brown ground beef. Drain and remove from pan, set aside.

In the same pan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter and add the onion, carrots, and celery. Cook until vegetables a few minutes then add basil and parsley. Cook until vegetables are tender. Add broth, browned beef, and diced potatoes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until potatoes are cooked through. 

In a small saucepan melt 1/3 cup butter. Add 1/3 cup flour and whisk. Cook, whisking, for a minute. Add this roux to the soup and bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Reduce heat and add cubed Velveeta, milk, salt, and pepper. Cook and stir until cheese melts. Remove from heat and stir in the sour cream. Serve individual servings with shredded cheese and or diced tomatoes and pickles (I know it sounds gross, but it is actually so tasty!).

Monday, November 4, 2013

Crock Pot Breakfast Casserole

Oh man, I forgot to get a picture of this breakfast casserole outside the Crock Pot. I'll try to remember to update this post with a better picture as soon as I make it again. This is a great 8 hour slowcooker breakfast recipe, which means you can make it before you go to bed and it will be ready when you wake up. Perfect for Christmas morning or Easter, etc. I made it as a breakfast for dinner meal and it worked great - I just put it in at 9am and it was ready at 5pm. It tastes like a potato quiche and is tasty and economical. I served it with some muffins and canned pears - easy peasy.

Crock Pot Breakfast Casserole

28 oz bag frozen O'Brien potatoes
1/2 lb cubed ham
2 1/2 cups shredded cheddar, divided
12 eggs
1/2 cup milk
salt and pepper

Spray the inside of slowcooker with cooking spray. In a large bowl combine frozen potatoes, ham, and 2 cups cheese; pour into the slow cooker. Whisk together eggs, milk, and salt and pepper to taste. Pour egg mixture evenly over the potato mixture in the slowcooker. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, or on high for 4 hours. During last 5 minutes of cooking time sprinkle 1/2 cup shredded cheese over casserole. Serve once cheese is melted.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Bread Machine Breadsticks

These breadsticks couldn't be yummier or easier to make, since the dough is made in the bread machine. The recipe is from the blog Memories on Clover Lane and it's great! I made it to go with Tortellini Sausage Soup and it was a great fall meal. BTW, I am constantly amazed by how my kids gobble down the shredded zucchini in that soup, normally they loathe zucchini in all forms. It's like a culinary miracle.:) These bread sticks would go great with any soup, stew, or chili or as a compliment to any Italian main dish.

Bread Machine Breadsticks

1 cup warm water
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cups flour (white bread flour, or a mixture of whole wheat and white flour)
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons yeast

Put all ingredients in the bread machine in the order listed. Set to dough setting and let run.

Once dough is finished roll out into a rectangle almost as big as a 10x12 rimmed cookie sheet (I used my stoneware jelly roll pan). Place on greased cookie sheet and roll/press the dough out to reach the edges as much as possible. Cut the dough with a pizza cutter into 24 slices, by cutting in half lengthwise and then cutting 12 slices heightwise. Cover with non-stick sprayed plastic wrap and allow to rise for 1 hour.

Once risen, bake at 375 degrees for 15 - 30 minutes or until golden on top and bottom, for me this was 30 minutes, but it would probably be less time is I used a normal metal cookie sheet. As soon as you pull the breadsticks out of the oven brush with melted butter.*

*For garlic bread sticks: remove breadsticks from oven about 5 minutes before they are done. Brush with melted butter, sprinkle with garlic salt and parmesan, return to oven for 5 minutes or until golden.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Creamy Chicken Noodle Casserole (Freezer Meal)

This is a lovely chicken casserole freezer meal. It's creamy with a nice crunchy top. It actually tastes a bit like chicken pot pie. It makes 2, 9x13 pans so you can either freeze them both or cook one the night you make them and freeze the second for another day. It's definitely a family pleasing meal and I'm so glad to have another good chicken freezer meal recipe. This can also be made with leftover cubed turkey.

Creamy Chicken Noodle Casserole (Freezer Meal)

8 oz package wide egg noodles
4 cups cooked and cubed chicken (or turkey)
16 oz package frozen peas and carrots
2 cups milk
2 cans cream of celery soup
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided (freeze separately with meal)
2 sleeves Ritz crackers, crushed, divided (freeze separately with meal)
1/2 cup or 1 stick butter, divided (freeze separately with meal)

Assembly Directions:
Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile in a very large bowl, combine chicken, frozen peas and carrots, milk, soups, chopped onion, melted butter, salt, and pepper. Add cooked and drained noodles and stir until combines. Transfer mixture into 2, 9x13 baking pans (disposable foil pans work great). Cover with plastic wrap and then foil. Freeze each meal with: a bag with 1 cup shredded cheddar, a bag with 1 sleeve crushed Ritz crackers, and a bag with 1/4 cup or half a stick of butter - these will all be used at time of cooking.

Thawing and Heating Directions:
Thaw casserole for about 2 days in refrigerator. Remove foil and plastic wrap from casserole. Cover top of casserole with 1 cup shredded cheddar. In a small bowl microwave 1/4 cup butter, add crushed Ritz crackers and mix. Spread cracker crumbs mixture over the shredded cheese. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Apple Crisp

Mmmm, hot apple crisp and vanilla ice cream! It is the perfect fall treat. I love this recipe. The topping is crunchy, crumbly, and buttery and the apples are divinely sweet. Be sure to slice the apples very thin so that they cook through. I got the recipe from Mommy's Kitchen and modified it slightly. This dessert was a hit with my whole family and especially my husband who had the leftovers for breakfast the next morning - I guess it does have some oatmeal in it.:)

Apple Crisp

5-6 apples, peeled and sliced thin (I used honey crisp)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 cup apple cider
2 teaspoons vanilla

1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup quick oats
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup or 1 stick of butter or margarine, cut up into small pieces

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl mix the 1/2 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon cinnamon together. Spread a single layer of cinnamon sugar directly into a 9x9 baking dish. Layer thinly sliced apples into the baking dish, sprinkling cinnamon sugar to cover each layer of apples. Once apples are to the top of the pan, cover with a final layer of remaining cinnamon sugar. In a bowl or measuring cup mix together apple cider and vanilla. Drizzle apple cider mixture evenly over the apples.

In a food processor (or you can use a pastry cutter or fork) combine 1 cup flour, 1/4 cup quick oats, 1 cup sugar, and 1 stick of butter cut into pieces. Pulse until fine crumbs form and mixture sticks together when you pinch it between your fingers. Cover the apples with this topping mixture. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until topping is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Serve hot or warm with vanilla ice cream.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Coca-Cola Crock Pot Roast

I seem to always be in the search of that perfect crockpot roast recipe. A roast that turns out tender and moist with the least amount of effort possible. Well this recipe really fits the bill. The meat did turn out lovely and tender and the vegetables stewed all day in the sweet sauce were so tasty and on top of that it couldn't be easier to put together. I think I might have found the perfect crockpot roast recipe! Yay! I found this recipe on Pinterest (of course :)), with the original post from the You're Too Crafty blog. I served it with mashed potatoes and brown gravy, but you could throw in red potatoes with the carrots and onions if you'd like a complete meal cooked in the slow cooker.

Coca-Cola Crock Pot Roast

McCormick Slow Cooker Savory Pot Roast seasoning packet
McCormick Au Jus seasoning packet
16 oz or 1 can Coke
4 - 5 lb roast
3 large onions, cut into large chunks
2 lb carrots, cut into chunks or baby carrots

Place onion chunks and carrots in the bottom of a slow cooker. Place roast on top of vegetables. In a bowl combine Coke and seasoning packets. Pour over roast. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours. Remove roast from slowcooker and cut against the grain or pull apart in chunks and place on a serving platter. Ladle some of the juices from the slow cooker over the roast to make nice and moist. Remove onions and carrots from slow cooker and serve with roast.

*If desired you can strain out the juices from the slow cooker to serve over the meat and vegetables. You can also make a gravy by adding a little cornstarch mixed with water to the strained juices and bringing to a boil. Once thickened serve over roast and vegetables.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Crock Pot Hot Cocoa

This is a great hot cocoa recipe if you want to serve a group of people all at once, because it's so much easier than cooking homemade hot cocoa on the stove and of course it tastes much better than the packets. I made it recently for a book club I hosted. This is also a fun thing to make if you are having breakfast for dinner. My kids love having hot cocoa with breakfast for dinner meals. Oh, and one other great thing about this recipe - it is a great food storage recipe as it calls for ingredients you probably have on hand in your pantry. Yay for a great all around recipe!

Crock Pot Hot Cocoa

1, 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1/8 teaspoon salt
7 1/2 cups water
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 tablespoons powdered sugar (or more to desired sweetness)
marshmallows or whipped cream for serving

In a slow cooker combine sweetened condensed milk, salt, water, and vanilla. Whisk in cocoa powder and powdered sugar until completely combined. Heat on low for about 3 hours or until very hot. Serve with marshmallows or whipped cream.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Easy Caramel Toffee Dip

This dip is perfect for the Fall apple season. It is so yummy!! It tastes kind of like eating caramel apples without all the work. It really is so easy to make and is a great Fall appetizer.

Easy Caramel Toffee Dip

1, 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup Heath chocolate toffee bits, plus more for topping

In a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, combine cream cheese and brown sugar. Beat until smooth. Add vanilla and mix in well. Add toffee bits and mix until combined. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Top with additional chocolate toffee bits and serve with cup up apples or graham cracker sticks.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Basic White Bread

I absolutely love homemade white bread, which is why I don't make it very often - it's just too tempting. Seriously, there is nothing better than a thick slice of homemade bread with butter and jam. YUM. It's so comforting and homey. I love this particular recipe because it's easy and the bread is delicious with just the right homemade bread texture - not too fluffy, but not too dense. My whole family loves this bread.

Basic White Bread

2 cups warm water
2 1/2 teaspoons yeast
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup evaporated milk
5-7 cup white bread flour
1 tablespoon shortening
1 tablespoon butter, melted (to brush on finished loaves)

Place yeast and 1/2 tablespoon of sugar in a 4-cup measuring cup or a medium bowl. Pour warm water over the yeast mixture and let sit for 15-20 minutes or until bubbly.

In the bowl of a stand mixer (I use a Bosch), combine melted butter, salt, sugar, and evaporated milk. Mix together. When yeast mixture has sat for 15-20 minutes add to the mixer bowl. Add in 3 cups of flour and mix with dough hook. Add in 1 cup of flour at time and mix. When you get to 5 cups of flour in the mixer bowl, add in 1/2 cup more of flour at a time until the dough is no longer sticking to the sides of the bowl (for me it was 6 cups of flour total, though it will vary according to your climate). You'll know it's ready when the dough is no longer sticky. Knead dough with dough hook on high for 5 minutes. 

Cover the sides of a large bowl with the tablespoon of shortening. Remove dough from mixer and form into a ball. Place dough ball into the greased bowl, turning to cover all sides of dough with grease. Cover with a warm towel or plastic wrap sprayed with cooking spray and set in a warm place to rise. Allow to rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.

When dough has risen punch down and place on a floured surface. Knead dough for about 2 minutes to remove air bubbles as much as possible. Cut dough in 2 equal pieces. Take one piece and roll out into a small rectangle. Roll dough into a loaf, starting with the short end. Tuck under ends, pinching in the seams to form a nice loaf. Place into a greased bread pan. Repeat with other half of dough. Cover formed loaves loosely with plastic wrap sprayed with cooking spray.

Let loaves rise again, until doubled, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. They should look almost like a loaf of bread in height when they are risen enough. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes or until golden browned on top. Remove from oven and brush tops with melted butter. Remove from bread pans and place on a rack to cool.  

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Pork Chops and Rice Casserole

This is a yummy basic pork chop casserole and it has great flavor. I combined a couple of recipes to make this one and I'm really happy with how it turned out. I tend not to cook pork as much as other meats, but my family really loves pork chops so I'm sure I'll make this one again. It's actually the rice that makes this casserole great - I love the toasted beefy flavor. Be sure to take the pork chops out 45 minutes into cooking time or they will dry out too much; they don't need as much baking time as the rice.

Pork Chops and Rice Casserole

4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup long-grain converted rice (like Uncle Ben's Original)
6 pork chops
2 tablespoons oil (olive, canola, veg, etc)
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1, 14.5 oz can beef broth
1/2 cup water
1 onion sliced into rings
1 green pepper sliced into rings
ground pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt butter in a large skillet. Add onion and uncooked rice and cook until rice is toasted and onion is tender. Place rice/onion mixture in the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish.

Combine flour, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper in a shallow bowl or pie plate. Dredge pork chops in flour mixture and set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in the previously used skillet. Brown pork chops on both sides. Place browned pork chops on top of the rice mixture in the baking dish. Combine broth and water and pour over pork chops and rice. Place sliced onion rings and sliced pepper rings on top of pork chops. Sprinkle pepper to taste over all. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes or until pork chops are cooked through and tender.

Remove pork chops to a plate and cover tightly with foil. Return baking dish to oven and cook uncovered until rice is cooked - 15-25 minutes - you want all the liquids to be absorbed and rice to be tender. Serve pork chops with rice.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Crock Pot Cheeseburger Pasta

Life is busy so I make lots of crockpot meals. That's just the way it's been going, but at least I'm getting dinner on the table and because I'm making a lot of crock pot meals, I've been trying lots of new ones, which is fun. This one I got from Pinterest (can't remember the original site!) and it's great. My kids especially loved it and said I should make it again (which I will because I have another 2 cups of shell pasta). It's not fancy, but it's tasty and cooks incredibly fast for a crockpot meal - just 3 hours on high. Give it a try and I bet your family will love it too.

Crock Pot Cheeseburger Pasta

1 lb ground beef
1 can tomato soup
1 can cheddar cheese soup
1, 14.5 oz can beef broth plus enough water to equal 2 cups
2 cups uncooked shell pasta
pepper to taste

Brown the ground beef and drain off fat. Place cooked ground beef, tomato soup, cheddar cheese soup, and beef broth plus enough water to equal 2 cups in slow cooker. Stir together to combine. Add uncooked pasta, stir in. Cover and cook on high for 3 hours. Serve individual servings with a little shredded cheddar on top if desired.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Best Crockpot Lasagna

This is my new favorite crockpot lasagna recipe. It is the best one I've ever tried! I love the flavor of the sauce, it's easy to make, and I ususally have these ingredients on hand. All huge pluses. It's also a great Sunday dinner and makes the house smell so yummy as it cooks. Thanks to Real Mom Kitchen for this fabulous recipe.

The Best Crockpot Lasagna

1 lb ground beef
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons dried parsley
2 tablespoons prepared pesto, or 1 tablespoon dried basil
1 teaspoon salt
25 oz jar marinara sauce (I used Emeril's Homestyle Marinara)
8 oz can tomato sauce
9 uncooked regular lasagna noodles
4 cups shredded mozzarrella cheese
24 oz tub small curd 4% cottage cheese

Spray the inside of the crockpot with cooking spray.

In a skillet, brown the beef until fully cooked. Drain grease. Add garlic, parsley, pesto, salt, marinara sauce, and tomato sauce. Bring to a boil, turn down heat to low and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.

In a bowl combine 2 1/2 cups of mozzarella cheese with the cottage cheese, set aside.

Place 1/4 of the meat mixture in the bottom of your crockpot. Spread to cover the bottom. Place 1/3 of the uncooked noodles on top of the sauce, breaking them up as needed to fit. Spoon 1/3 of the cheese mixture over the noodles. Repeat layers 2 more times, finishing with the remaining sauce. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours. Top with remaining 1 1/2 cups of shredded mozzarella. Cover with lid and let cook for 10 more minutes or until cheese is melted.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Cheesy Chicken and Rice Soup

We've had a lot of rain and cloudiness this past week so I thought it was time for some good old comfort food and what is better on a rainy day than a bowl of creamy, cheesy, soup and some homemade rolls. One of my favorite meals and definitely a favorite of my kids. This recipe is from Picky Palate and it's wonderful! My kids ranked this soup up with their favorites: chicken noodle soup and creamy chicken and wild rice soup, so it'll be on my soup short list for when I want a kid-pleasing meal. This would be a great soup to serve with a slice of pumpkin bread this fall.

Cheesy Chicken and Rice Soup

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 stick, 8 tablespoons, butter
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2, 32 oz cartons chicken broth or stock (may not use all)
8 oz medium cheddar cheese, grated (about 2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
2 teaspoons chicken bouillon
3 cups cooked and shredded chicken
3-4 cups cooked rice (I cooked 2 cups uncooked rice, which is about 4 cups cooked)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup cream, half and half, or fat free evaporated milk
salt and pepper to taste

Place oil in a large dutch oven/soup pot and heat over medium heat. When oil is hot add onion, celery, and carrots. Stir and cook for about 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in garlic and cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat.

In another saucepan melt butter over medium heat. Slowly whisk in flour, salt, and pepper and cook for a minute until thick and bubbly. Slowly whisk in one 32 oz carton of chicken broth. Increase heat slightly and keep whisking until broth gets thick and creamy, about 3-5 minutes. Once thick, turn heat to low and add cheese, stirring until smooth. Add hot sauce. Add this cheese sauce to the large soup pot with the vegetables. Add chicken bouillon, shredded chicken, and rice. Add another 2 cups of chicken broth, sour cream, and cream. Stir to combine. Add more chicken broth as needed to get soup to desired consistency (I used an additional 2 cups of chicken broth). Heat through, then turn heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally for 10-20 minutes. Serve with some shredded cheese on individual servings.