Thursday, May 31, 2012

Meatball Sub Casserole

When I peruse (like that fancy word?) Pinterest, I often pin recipes that I think, "I should try that some time."  But sometimes when I pin a recipe, that thought, that food photo, that stays with me. And haunts me.  And lures me to try it very soon.

This was one of those recipes.

Meatball Sub Casserole.

When I saw the picture and saw the ingredients (including bread, meatballs, Mozzarella, and cream cheese), I was ready to eat it.  And have just been waiting until today when it was time.

I used this website's recipe as a guide, tweaking it just a bit. 

1 to 1.5 lbs meatballs (The original recipe uses frozen meatballs. I made my own from this recipe...just the meatballs, no gravy)

1 loaf French bread (the original recipe calls for Italian...I could only find French :)

1 8-oz package cream cheese, softened (I did use my usual 1/3 less fat)

1/2 cup mayonnaise (I use the lighter one with olive oil)

Italian seasoning and pepper (I didn't measure...I just use the "grinder" versions and added what I thought looked good, a little heavier on the Italian seasoning)

Mozzarella cheese, shredded (I just used 8 ounces "fresh" and shredded it myself so mine was more like one cup...but it is OH so good fresh!)

1 jar spaghetti sauce

1 cup water

Preheat oven to 350.

Tear bread apart to fit into the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish.  I cut it in half lengthwise; it should only be about an inch thick.  I did this and then stuck it into the oven to "toast" just a little while I prepared the other parts of the dish as suggested on the original recipe.

Mix together the cream cheese, mayonnaise, Italian seasoning, and pepper.  Spread over the bread.

Sprinkle half the Mozzarella over the cream cheese mixture.

Place the meatballs on top of the cheese.

Mix spaghetti sauce and water and pour over the meatballs.  (I think the original recipe had you mix the meatballs in with the sauce and water, but I didn't pay attention until I had already put the meatballs into the worked fine.)

Sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese.

Bake for 30-35 minutes uncovered.


We did.

My teenager probably ate 1/3 of it himself.

I could have.  But I didn't.  :)

Even my pickiest eater enjoyed it, though she might not admit it.  I know she ate more than she planned...

We will definitely be having this again soon!

PS I would think you could make this ahead of time and refrigerate it until you are ready to cook it. If I did, I might hold off on pouring the sauce/water to keep the bread from getting too soggy.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Chunky Avocado Salsa

Yes, another Pinterest recipe. What can I say? I am addicted. :) 

The funny thing is I wouldn't describe myself as a risk-taker but for some reason, with food, I am much more willing to try new things...


I LOVE avocado (if you haven't figured that out). So I figure any dip with avocado has to be good.

And this was.

Warning:  It makes a lot!

I followed the original recipe fairly closely.  I have noted any changes below.

1 medium tomato (I totally cheated and used a can of already chopped tomatoes...if I cheated like that again, I would use petite diced because I don't like my tomatoes too chunky)

2 avocados

1 cup sweet white corn (I just used a can)

1 bunch of green onions (I actually used about half)

1 can black beans, washed and drained

garlic salt


tapatio (hot) sauce (to taste)

Place corn and rinsed black beans in a bowl and mix together.  Dice tomatoes (unless you cheated like I did) and onions and add.  Add garlic salt, parsley, and tapatio sauce to taste.  Add avocado last. Even if you make ahead, I would let it sit in the fridge but not add the avocado until right before time to eat.  Otherwise, it will turn mushy and brown...

 Side Note:  If you are not taking this to a gathering where it will be all eaten, I would NOT add the avocado to the whole bowl, just to the portion you would be eating that day.  I really wanted to eat the leftovers today (two days after I made it) but the avocado was not very appealing at this point.   Lesson learned. This would be a good, though not so low cal, salsa to have around. 

I did eat it with baked Tostitos.  :)



Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day Week Menu

This is the week I hope to get back to eating regularly...and exercising regularly.  The last two weeks have been a little messed up with the end of school and Memorial Day.  I am not even going to think about the calories I have taken in just in the last 48 hours nor the weight I may have gained...

So, anywho, here is the menu.  Maybe. 

Sunday:  Hamburger/hot dog cookout with church friends, avocado basil pasta, chunky avocado salsa (recipe coming soon), chips and salsa, baked beans, grapes on a stick, desserts (I didn't make all of that, just some parts :)

Monday/Memorial Day:  We had lunch at a friend's house.  For that I made Katie bread and Oriental salad as side dishes.  For dinner, we went to my parents' house for a cookout.  The nice thing was I didn't have to make anything. :)

Tuesday:  White Chicken Enchiladas (new recipe), chips, leftover chunky avocado salsa

Wednesday shrimp scampi over linguine (new recipe), salad, garlic bread

Thursday:  meatball casserole (new recipe), carrots/Ranch

Friday;  shakes and popcorn (MOVIE night :)

Saturday:  something grilled...possibly steak but I am up in the air about that right now

What is for dinner at your house this week?


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Avocado Basil Pasta

After I saw this recipe (via Pinterest), I could not WAIT to make it.  I knew I would be the only one in my family who would touch it though.  So tonight, when we had some friends from church over for a cookout, I decided it was the perfect time to try it out.  I am glad I did. :)


Now if you don't like avocado, this won't seem as yummy.

Though I have to say it would be fine without it.

Just better with it.

Have I ever mentioned how much I like avocados?

1 package bow tie pasta (or whatever kind of pasta you wish to use...I really liked the bowtie)

2 avocados, chopped (remove that big seed in the middle and peel, obviously :)

6 slices bacon, drained and crumbled (I was short on time, so I just cooked mine in the microwave on a bacon cooker)

2/3 cup fresh basil, chopped.  I can't find a lot of fresh herbs in our area. What I can find are these wonderful "singles" that cost like a dollar.  Basil leaves come in one of the "singles".  So I just used scissors to cut the basil leaves up into little pieces.  All that to say, I didn't honestly measure 2/3 cup.

1 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp lemon juice

3 cloves of garlic, minced

ground black pepper and salt to taste

freshly grated cheese (The original recipe used Romano.  I used my favorite Parmesan:)

Cook pasta according to the directions on the bag.  Drain.

Add all other ingredients (except cheese) to a large bowl and stir.  Add in bow tie pasta.  Stir thoroughly.  Sprinkle with cheese.


I loved it. I mean, it is pasta, avocado, and bacon.  What is there not to love?

Since I am the only one who would eat this (mainly due to the avocado), I would make it sometime minus the avocado.  Then I would add the avocado any time I was ready to eat it.  That way I could warm up the pasta without warming the avocado.  I could probably get 3-4 lunches out of this recipe.

And I will.

I don't think there is anything low fat about it.

But it is worth each and every calorie...


Saturday, May 26, 2012

Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes

A few weeks ago, I made dinner for my girls' teachers for Teacher Appreciation Week.  I wasn't excluding the boys' teachers. The oldest boy has too many teachers due to his grade level, and the youngest child's teachers had a special lunch at their school.  Anyway, I gave the girls' teachers a choice in meals, and they both chose Crispy Cheese Chicken.  In the past when I have made that meal for others, I have taken a microwaveable bowl of mashed potatoes.  This year I was feeling adventurous. I decided to make some mashed potatoes.

But not the ones with the 22 dollar cheese, though those are SOOO very yummy.

I decided to search the Internet for some make ahead mashed potatoes since I make the meals and give them to the teachers to cook at home.

I found one aptly named Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes.  

Even better, they seemed simple.

So using that as a guide, I decided to try them out.

I made one batch following the recipe on that site (mostly, with an adaptation here and there).

And that one batch made PLENTY for two containers, one for each teacher.

After spooning it into the containers, I decided I should lick the spoon to test the potatoes.


Very creamy.

About a week later, I decided to make them for our family.  Except I went to the fridge and discovered that somehow I had NO sour cream.  Seriously? That is a staple around here.  I decided to try vanilla yogurt in its place.

Word to the wise.

Vanilla yogurt is NOT like sour cream.

The potatoes tasted like frosting.  Seriously.  They were sweet. And while I like sweet and frosting, I do NOT want that with my mashed potatoes.

Tonight I made the Crispy Cheese Chicken for our family.  I decided to try the potatoes again.  This time WITH sour cream.  Oh yum.

Here is what I made for us.  It was more than enough. We all had good helpings, and we even have leftovers which is a rarity around here!

2 lbs or so of golden russet potatoes (I only had 5, I think 6 would have been just right)
1 package cream cheese (I did use light)
1/2 container (8 oz) sour cream (again, I used light)
1/4 cup milk
2 tsp onion salt (Okay, I don't have onion salt, so I just used some freshly ground garlic salt then threw in a little chopped onion; I have also used onion salt and some minced garlic)
peppercorn to taste

Wash or peel potatoes.  I don't mind the peels in my mashed potatoes but some people in my family do. So I peeled them.

Cut the potatoes into small pieces.

Boil in lightly salted water until tender.

Drain potatoes.

Mash or use a potato ricer. I have been using the ricer which works well if the potatoes are really tender. I was tired of finding lumps when I just mashed. :)

Mix in cream cheese, sour cream, milk, onion AND/OR garlic salt, and ground peppercorn.

At this point, you can bake them at 325 for 50 minutes.

I didn't do that.

I stuck them in my 375 degree oven (which was baking my chicken) for about 20 minutes.  They were plenty hot and quite creamy.

If you make ahead, you can store them in the fridge.  Just pull them out around 30 minutes before baking.

One of the teachers came to me later and asked for the recipe; she said she couldn't believe how creamy they were.

I think this will be a fallback recipe for mashed potatoes.

Hmmm, suddenly I am craving the leftovers...

Happy cooking!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Weekly Menu...A Tad Bit Late

I am late, I am late, I am late.

Confession is good for the soul.

It has been a crazy week with the end of school.  (Kids are done, I am not quite there yet)

So cooking has been minimal.

But I still have had a somewhat menu in my mind.

Sunday:  Dinner out
Monday: Bubble Up Enchiladas, carrots and Ranch
Tuesday: Ham and Cheese Sliders, Chips
Wednesday: Baseball game cuisine
Thursday:  Skillet sausage and potatoes, bread, veggies/Ranch
Friday: Crispy cheesy chicken, mashed potatoes, rolls
Saturday: Possibly Mongolian beef and fried rice...I haven't thought that far ahead
Sunday:  Hamburgers and Hot Dogs, potluck with church friends

What are you having for dinner this week?


Sunday, May 20, 2012

Shrimp Dip

The other day we had a little "potluck" of appetizers and snacks at school for our Literacy Day.  My grade level was assigned "appetizers".  I already planned on making the apples and peanut butter dip (mainly because I have been craving it :). But one of my dear co-workers asked me if I would make shrimp dip.  I was a little (okay, a lot) flattered that she even remembered it.  I haven't made it in quite a while.  So I decided to make both.  :)

I had forgotten how easy the shrimp dip is to make. 

And apparently it is pretty good. Well, I already thought it was, but apparently others think so too.

There was none left by the end of the day.

1 small package of salad shrimp (by the way, this is CHEAP, find it in the freezer section!)
1 cup mayonnaise
6 oz shredded cheddar cheese
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp garlic salt (I used freshly ground :)
1 tsp grated onion (I just used dried chopped onion)

Mix all ingredients together (and yes, I just stick the shrimp in frozen) and refrigerate overnight to let flavors blend.

Serve with crackers.  (I buy the combo pack of Toasteds)

Yes, that is it. 

Easy, fairly cheap, and quick.

And good.



Thursday, May 17, 2012

Oreo Pudding Poke Cake

When I saw this recipe (not this picture...a much prettier one) on Pinterest (of course), I just knew I had to try it.  After all, my guys think that Oreo's are a necessity in life. :)

It looked delicious.

And it is easy.

And can be made ahead of time.

And it is chocolate of course.

All the makings for a good dessert.

I actually made it last week for Teacher Appreciation Week and divided it into 2 pans since it makes so much.  But I gave them to teachers, so I never got to try it. I was really hoping that it was good.  I usually try recipes before using them for other people.  I just figured it was chocolate. How could I go wrong?

So fast forward to tonight.  It was my oldest child's turn to make a dessert. I didn't really give him a say. I just told him I had a great dessert for him and already had all of the ingredients.  When he heard "Oreo", he readily agreed.

He also readily ate it tonight.  A really large piece. And then he begged for more.

1 chocolate cake mix, along with the necessary ingredients like oil, water, and eggs (I used a dark chocolate cake mix)

1 box Oreo pudding (and however much milk the box directions say to use)

crushed Oreos

Bake the cake according to box directions.

When it is finished, take it out and let it cool a little.

Then use a wooden spoon handle to poke holes all over the cake.

Meanwhile, make the Oreo pudding.  Pour over the top of the cake, gently "pushing" the pudding down into the holes you just made.

Top with crushed Oreo's.



Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Menu. Short and Sweet.

Yes, behind on blogging.

This week isn't likely to be much better.

It is the end of school, so life is a bit...crazy!

And that is evident with my menu which is tentative (as usual but probably more so than usual...).  I am also not trying much new this week.  That is my hope this summer...go for more new.

Saturday:  Dinner Out (We had a wedding to attend, then we snuck out for a pizza :)

Sunday:  Grilled Pork Tenderloin (we buy them already seasoned), mashed potatoes (recipe soon), black eye peas, and cheese breadsticks

Monday:  Popcorn/Drinks (I am taking the kids out for a movie since Daddy is working late...movies are rare treats for us)

Tuesday:  Dinner Out (I am having a kindergarten reunion with my graduating seniors, Daddy is taking the kids out on his own)

Wednesday: On Your Own night

Thursday:  Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts,  angel hair pasta, carrots/Ranch, rolls

Friday:  Mostaccioli, salad, French bread, Oreo Pudding Cake for dessert

Saturday:  Bacon Wrapped Shrimp, potatoes in white sauce, carrots and snap peas, rolls

I also plan on making pumpkin muffins.  And I will be making peanut butter dip (for apples) and a shrimp dip (with crackers) for some school activities. 

So even though I have some "slow" nights, I am not just twiddling thumbs over here. :)

What is for dinner at your house?


Friday, May 11, 2012

Grilled Shrimp Boil Kabobs

Yet another recipe I discovered via Pinterest.

Shrimp Boil Kabobs.

I mean, shrimp, sausage, potatoes.  What more could I want?

I am not a huge corn eater but I figured someone in our house would.  They make the kabobs so pretty...

This was easy to throw together.  Peeling the shrimp took the longest time.

Just thread on a skewer, baste and grill, and then eat.


And delicious.

My "directions" will be fairly vague since amount would depend upon the size of your family.

Corn cobs (cut into thirds)

Shrimp, peeled and deveined (1/2 to 1 pound)

small new potatoes

andouille sausage (cut into small "rounds")

Scallops (optional)

1/2 stick butter

2 tbsp Old Bay seasoning

Boil the new potatoes in lightly salted water for about 12-20 minutes.

Thread items onto skewer.

Grill on medium high heat for about 8 minutes.

Take melted butter and Old Bays out to the grill and baste the foods throughout the cooking process (the shrimp should be pink).

Oh, the original recipe used a little Tabasco but my family would have balked at that...




Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Baked Avocado Fries

Not long ago, I saw yet another photo of a food I just HAD to try.

Baked avocado fries.

I mean, I love avocados. I love fries.  And Panko was involved.  What else could I possibly want???

However, I am not naive.

I am the only person in this house who will eat avocados.


So I chose a night we were having a light dinner (sloppy joes) and decided to treat myself to some avocado fries.

I followed the recipe I found on Pinterest fairly closely.

I have yet to figure out how to get pretty avocado wedges, especially when working around that huge pit.

So mine weren't pretty.  That and my avocado was very ripe and a little soft.

But I was determined.

2 firm but ripe avocados, cut into "wedges"
1/4 cup white flour
1 tsp kosher salt (I just used sea salt)
1 large egg beaten
1 cup Panko crumbs
Grated Parmesan (optional but not really :)

Dredge the avocado "wedges" in the white flour.

Then dip in the egg.

Next, dip in the Panko crumbs.

Place "fries" on a cooling rack that is resting on a cookie sheet.

Spray the cooling rack with a baking spray.

Spray with olive oil.  (I actually forgot and used the baking spray instead)

Bake for 20 minutes at 450.

Sprinkle with Parmesan if desired.


Sunday, May 6, 2012


I am so behind on posting (on all five blogs).  But I am going to go ahead and post the menu for the week. I don't know that anybody ever really reads them or cares.  But it makes me feel like I have accomplished something at least. :)  And it is a good guide for me.

Saturday:  Grilled shrimp and sausage (recipe coming soon!), cheesy garlic bread, salad, chocolate lava cakes for dessert
Sunday:  Sour cream bacon chicken (held over from one night last week due to a change in plans), almond rice pilaf, rolls, carrots and Ranch
Monday:  Sloppy joes, avocado fries (new :)
Tuesday:  Swai in lemon butter, angel hair pasta, salad, garlic bread
Wednesday: On your own night
Thursday:  Crispy cheesy chicken, mashed potatoes, rolls, veggies/Ranch
Friday:  Crockpot tostadas, salsa and chips

That is as far as I can think right now.

Busy week.

I am already tired!

How about you?


Saturday, May 5, 2012

Homemade Hamburger Buns

One day on Pinterest, I found a recipe for homemade hamburger buns.


That thought had never crossed my mind.

But I checked the recipe out and it looked not too hard.

I have really been making an effort to use fresher products, make more of my own food (trying to cut out processed when possible), though I wouldn't say I am a zealot or anything.

So last week we were having hamburgers, and I thought, "I want to give this a try..."

I was a little nervous.  I am just learning some techniques for making bread.

The one thought I had was "Well, the grocery store is just down the road if I fail..."

But guess what?

I didn't!

In fact, they were pretty darn good.

I definitely will make them again.

Not every time.

In fact, we are having sloppy joe's this week, and I just bought some store bought buns. I just don't have the time to do anything else.

But when I can, I want to make these.

Warning though:  They are quite filling.  I think my husband only ate one burger because he felt so full with that bun...

Oh, I followed the original recipe very closely, but did add the sesame seed part at the very end after checking out a few other recipes.

1 egg
7/8 cup milk
4 1/2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
3 cups flour (or bread flour...I just used plain all purpose)
1 tbsp yeast (rapid rise or bread machine yeast)
1 egg white
sesame seeds

Put the egg, milk, butter, sugar, salt, flour, and yeast in a bread machine.

Set the bread machine to the dough setting.

I think mine took 1 hour 20 minutes.

Remove from the machine and punch down.

Divide into 7-9 equal size portions.

Let rest for about 5 minutes.

Shape into balls then press down to make "patties".

Place the "patties" on a baking sheet.  Cover loosely with clear wrap.  Let them sit for about 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Brush top of patties with a beaten egg white, then sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Bake 12-15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool a bit then slice in two.



Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Peppermint Dream

Not a great picture, but we were so ready to eat these, I didn't feel like taking time to do more. :)

Child 2 is my sweet tooth child.  Or one of them anyway.

So when it was her turn to make dessert, she was more than excited.

She pulled out a calendar of recipes and zeroed in on this one.

It is not necessarily a specialty kind of recipe.

But that didn't stop us from eating them...

One pan of brownies prepared according to package directions (your choice...we had dark chocolate, my favorite)

One box of instant chocolate pudding, prepared

Peppermints (crushed)

Cool Whip

Layer in a glass/cup...

A brownie (or two)

Crushed peppermint

Large spoonful of pudding

Cool Whip

More crushed peppermint

Like I said, very basic. The "hardest" part is making the brownies ahead of time (and not eating them all before making this).

But nice for sweet tooths like me...