Saturday, September 29, 2012

Taco Pasta Shells

Recently I was trying to figure out what to have for dinner. I wanted something with a Mexican food flavor but wanted to try something new. So of course, I went to the beloved Pinterest and looked at what I had pinned recently.

Hmmmm, Stuffed Taco Shells.

That sounds good.

 The only problem is that try as I might, I could NOT find the large "shells" for stuffing that were called for.  I looked.  And looked.  I did that whole "stare at the shelf at the grocery store just waiting for it to magically appear" thing. I asked someone I know who works with the store.  Some were coming but they were out for now.  Bummer.

So I threw in the towel and bought medium shells.

They could have probably been stuffed but it would have taken a REALLY long time.  Plus, there were a bunch of shells in the box.

So I decided to improvise a bit.

I used the basic recipe from the Stuffed Taco Shells and made minor changes.

Oh yum.

Good stuff.

(If I can ever find the large shell pasta, I would like to try it the way it was originally written.)

Sadly the Hubs was out of town for the afternoon/evening and didn't get to participate.

But the rest of us did.  And we enjoyed it.  I even had some leftovers for today, and it was just as good heated up again.  I will be making it again.

Ground beef (1 lb or more...I use 1 1/2 pounds because that is how our half a cow came packaged)

1 envelope (1/4 cup) taco seasoning

4-6 oz cream cheese cubed (because I had more ground beef, I used more cream cheese, light of course...)

pasta shells cooked according to package (all I could find were medium shells)

salsa (I didn't measure, I just used enough to cover the bottom of my dish. I did make my own)

taco sauce (I used one bottle which is probably more than called for but it worked :)

2 cups shredded cheese (I used Colby Jack but cheddar and Monterrey Jack would also be good)

Brown ground beef over medium/medium high heat.  Add in taco seasoning.  Stir to combine.  Drop in cubed cream cheese.  The original recipe called for simmering with the lid on to help the cream cheese melt. I just dropped the temperature on the oven a little and stirred with the lid off.

Preheat oven to 350.

Pour salsa in the bottom of a baking dish (I used a 9 x 13).

Pour pasta shells into the baking dish.

Spread beef mixture over the pasta shells.

Pour taco sauce over the top, then tightly cover the dish with foil.

Bake for 30 minutes.

Remove from oven.  Remove foil.  Spread shredded cheese over the top.  Return to oven for about 10 more minutes.

You can top this with avocado, guacamole, sour cream, olives, etc.  I just took a few tortilla chips and crumbled them over the top.  Gave it a nice little crunch.



Monday, September 24, 2012

A Conference Week Menu

I don't think I have ever gone from menu to menu with NO recipes in between. And the worst part is I do have some recipes to share. Just not today.

This is conference week.

I just feel like I am barely keeping my head above water during conference week. Barely.

So the fact that I have a menu and I have gone shopping is a feat in itself.

Not that I ever get any kind of gold stars or anything.

But still, I will hold my head high.

Even with no recent recipes on here.

So, here is the menu for the week...

Sunday:  Braided Spaghetti Bread (held over from Saturday night because I had forgotten there was a very sad Hogs game that night). I cannot tell you how much my family likes this meal.  I have to make two and am thankful if I get leftovers.

Monday:  French Toast (Dad was on cooking duty because I was conferencing)

Tuesday:  Crockpot Garlic and Brown Sugar Chicken (new recipe), basmatti rice, Martha Harp rolls, carrots/Ranch

Wednesday:  On Your Own night

Thursday:  Taco Stuffed Shells ( recipe)

Friday:  Butter Cream Chicken, Angel Hair Pasta, cheesy breadsticks, carrots and Ranch

Saturday:  Grilling out...not sure what yet. Steak maybe?  I really can't think that far ahead yet. :)

I just made a new recipe (Snickers Cake). I can't taste it since it is for teachers at Child 1's school for conference week, but it looks really good. Check out the link if you are interested in trying for yourself. :)

I am also making Snickers apple salad this week. Just not sure when yet...

What is for dinner at your house this week?


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Menu. Belated.

Still behind.  Recipes to share.  Yet I keep falling asleep before I do.  Story of my life these days.  It will slow down at some point, right???

Anyway, I do have a menu for this week though the weeks and days are getting challenging.  Three of the four kids have activities in the evenings these days (thankfully not always the same days, though sometimes).  I am trying really hard to keep a steady menu whenever possible.  Not fancy necessarily but steady.

Sunday:  Dining out (celebrated my mom's birthday)  We did have the crescent cinnamon buns for breakfast though.

Monday:  Sausage and potatoes, carrots/Ranch, garlic asagio bread (I have to say this is one of the most popular dishes I make around here...)

Tuesday:  Meatballs and gravy, rice, carrots/Ranch (what can I say, it is a veggie they will eat), French baguette

Wednesday:  On Your Own (church, gymnastics, and T-ball)

Thursday:  Ham and Cheese sandwiches, chips (another crazy night)

Friday:  Football game

Saturday:  Braided Spaghetti Bread, Caesar salad

A bit spotty this week but I am trying.

What is for dinner at your house this week?


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Crescent Cinnamon Buns

I have tried a couple different recipes involving cinnamon "crescent rolls" including this one.  And we had absolutely NO difficulty eating either one.  Cinnamon, crescent rolls, can you go wrong?  Yet recently as I was perusing (yes, my favorite...Pinterest), I happened on yet another recipe involving cinnamon and crescent rolls.  The same but different.

So when my dear daughter informed me that she needed to make a breakfast dish for a church activity, I knew exactly what she should try.

While I have liked the original recipes I have made, I have to say that THIS dish was exactly what I have been wanting.  It is really hard to roll up crescent rolls in their crescent roll shape, especially when dripping with butter.  In this recipe, you don't have to roll them up that way.  In fact, these look more like a "cinnamon" roll than anything else I have made.

I have to preface this with one little caution...I didn't actually get to taste them. I wanted to SOOOOO bad. But I didn't.  Dear Daughter needed to take them to church, so I left them untouched. But she did tell me they were quite delish. In fact, she had none left over.

I think I will be making these this weekend...

Anyway, here is the recipe:

Crescent Cinnamon Buns

1 package crescent rolls (I HIGHLY recommend Crescent rounds if you can find them)

1 stick softened butter (1/2 cup)

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt 4 Tbsp of butter in a pie plate.  I just stuck it in the pie plate and put it in the oven while it was pre-heating.

Add the brown sugar to the melted butter in the pie plate and stir.

Roll out the crescent rolls, pinching seams.  I used the Crescent Rounds which were perfect. I just rolled it out as one large sheet but later when I rolled it back up, I just had to "cut" on the dotted lines to have my "cinnamon buns".

Spread remaining softened butter (4 Tbsp) over the crescent rolls.

Mix the white sugar and cinnamon together.  Sprinkle over the crescent rolls.

Roll the dough back up into one log.  Slice 8 even "cinnamon rolls". 

Place the rolls in the buttered pie plate.  Sprinkle with any remaining cinnamon/sugar.

Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.

While they bake, mix together the glaze ingredients.  (1 cup powdered sugar, 4 Tbsp heavy cream which can be made with 2 Tbsp milk plus 1 Tbsp butter if needed, and 1 tsp vanilla.  Stir together with a fork.

Pour glaze over the warm cinnamon rolls once out of the oven.



Sunday, September 9, 2012

The M.E.N.U.

I am SOOO behind on sharing recipes. I haven't caught up on the grilling adventures and then today tried some new things.

All in due time.

Though I have fallen behind, I am looking ahead.  I have figured out our menu for the week and have already gone shopping.  I am ready for the week.  Or at least food wise. :)

Oh, and I stuck to my menu this past week.  Even on days I didn't feel like it. :)

Sunday:  Fried chicken nuggets (new recipe...yum!), waffle fries, rolls, chocolate chip cookies for dessert. Nope, nothing healthy there at all.  But it was really good. And thankfully we went on a hike and burned some extra calories.

Monday:  Mostaccioli, garlic bread, carrots/Ranch

Tuesday:  Skillet pork chops and fried potatoes (new), black eye peas, Rhodes dinner rolls

Wednesday:  On Your Own (church night)

Thursday:  French dip sandwiches, sweet potato fries

Friday:  Football fever!  (Home football game so probably eating popcorn and hot dogs :)

Saturday:  Not sure what yet but probably something grilled.  We will see what we are in the mood for by that night.

So, what is for dinner at your house this week?


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Parmesan Baked Potato Halves

I really wish I had taken better pictures. And I will try to next time. The night I made these, it was my grilling smorgasbord so I had a lot going on. I just got a few quick "shots" wit the camera. And these pictures do not do these justice.

I wanted a good but easy potato recipe to go with our grilled goodies. I played around on Pinterest and somehow happened upon this recipe.

Just what I wanted.  I would encourage you to to the original site because her pictures are SOOO much nicer :)

Really, go look.

Much nicer.

Even in real life, mine didn't look quite that nice.

But they were still tasty.

Hubby gave them two thumbs up.

6-8 small potatoes scrubbed and halved (you can use any kind of potato, I decided to use red this time...I like the texture of them

1/4 cup butter (I did use Blue Bonnet light)

Grated/shredded Parmesan (I shredded it fresh with my rotary cheese shredder)

Garlic powder

Other seasonings (after reading through comments,  I went with a little rosemary...I think Italian would be good too)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Put butter in a 9 x 13 dish.  Put in oven while it preheats to melt it.  You can also melt it in the microwave and just pour it in the dish but I am all about reducing the number of dishes I have to wash :)

Generously sprinkle shredded Parmesan all over the butter.

Sprinkle garlic powder and other seasonings over the cheese.

Place potatoes, cut side down onto the cheese mixture.

Bake for 40-45 minutes.

Cool for 5 minutes or so before removing from pan.

You can serve it with sour cream, though honestly, it was good all on its own. :)

Simple but good.


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Garlic and Herb Grilled Shrimp

On Labor Day, I decided to try several grilling recipes I had found via Pinterest.  So we had a grilled food smorgasbord...steak, chicken, and two versions of grilled shrimp.  All were good, so I have a few recipes to share.  If only I had the energy to share them all tonight!

Instead, I will start with one and slowly work my way through the others in the next week or so.

One shrimp recipe I tried is "grilled garlic and herb shrimp".

I am sure you have figured out, I have yet to meet a shrimp I didn't like.

So if you aren't a shrimp lover, come back in a few days. I will share something new.

But if you like shrimp, this is a recipe you will probably want to try.


Of course, we grilled it (since it was "grilled" shrimp and all but I am thinking baking it in the fall/winter wouldn't be a bad thing either.  I may have to try that and let you know.

2 lbs large shrimp (peeled and deveined)
2 tsp paprika
2 Tbsp freshly minced garlic (I just minced a couple cloves)
2 tsp Italian seasoning (I like the kind you can actually grind)
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (or if you are like me, bottled lemon juice because I forgot to buy a lemon...)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp dried basil
2 tbsp brown sugar

Whisk all of the ingredients (except for the shrimp) in a bowl. Or in my case, a Ziplock bag. 

Add in the shrimp.

Toss evenly to coat.

Refrigerate for at least two hours, turning once.

Preheat grill to medium heat.

The original directions recommended oiling the grill grate. I am pretty sure my husband didn't do that. 

Grill shrimp (discard the marinade) for 5-6 minutes or until shrimp is opaque in the center. (We skewered ours)


Monday, September 3, 2012

Oreo Cupcakes

My daughter has a sweet tooth.  (The older one)  She LOVES sweets. Always has. One of my favorite pictures of her is from her toddler days. She is standing at the kitchen counter on a stool, her mouth covered in chocolate (from Hershey's kisses I think).

Just in the past year she has become a little baker.  Well, not so little anymore. She is 11. But she is always my little girl no matter how old she is. :)

At first it started with the Easy Bake Oven.  Then she moved on to cake mixes or brownie mixes. Now she is venturing out and trying out recipes.

Recently this daughter read a book from a series called The Cupcake Diaries.  She found a basic cupcake recipe and has created a couple of cupcakes using it.

This past weekend, I decided to take a nap. I had picked up a package of Oreos for her at her request. When I got up from my nap a couple hours later, I found the plates above.  Oreo cupcakes.

I posted a pic on FB and had requests for the recipe.

I am going to share the basic recipe with a couple additions.  However, since I haven't been with my daughter when she makes it, I cannot guarantee it is precisely what she does. I think she is a "try a little of this" kind of cook.  She has mentioned that sometimes she will add more sugar or vanilla than the recipe calls for.  So who knows what her final recipe actually includes.

Either way, it is good stuff!  Especially if you like Oreos. :)

Cupcake batter

1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs at room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup whole milk (except we NEVER have whole milk so she has to use what we have...1%)
Crushed Oreos (I have no exact measurements. I know she didn't use a whole package because we have a few left. And she saved a few for the frosting.  So maybe half a package?

Preheat oven to 350 with the rack in the middle of the oven.

Line muffin tin with cupcake liners (12 cupcakes).

Beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy with electric mixer.

Add eggs one at a time.

Blend in the vanilla.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Add the flour mixture to the mixing bowl, beating at a low speed. Alternate with the milk.  Beat until the batter has no lumps.

Add in the crushed Oreos.  Beat until thoroughly mixed.

Evenly fill the muffin tins.  Bake for about 18-20 minutes.  Use a toothpick to check if they are done or not (if it comes out clean other than the Oreos :)

Remove from oven when done.  Place on a wire rack to cool.

Ingredients for Frosting:
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar (it is supposed to be sifted but I don't think she knows how to do that so I am guessing hers wasn't :)
1/3 cup whole milk (again, she used 1%)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract (she said she sometimes adds more vanilla and powdered sugar :)
crushed Oreos (just a few)

Mix the butter until it looks fluffy (using an electric mixer).

Add in the sugar, alternating with the milk and vanilla until is it blended.

Add in the Oreos.  (Dear Daughter also said she might just sprinkle them on top next time because it is HARD to spread with the Oreos IN the frosting).


Daughter just used a knife and a decorator pump to do this, though she really wants to practice piping.

A little mini Oreo on top in the middle would be really cute.

It is good stuff.



Sunday, September 2, 2012

Labor Day Smorgasbord (The Menu)

There are only so many ways you can say "menu" in the title and get creative.  I don't know if anyone even cares to know our menu. But it does hold me accountable. And it is my quick guide when I am searching for a recipe...

Last week I did pretty good sticking with it. The one change I had to make was no grilling last night. I totally forgot that football season (namely the Razorbacks) was starting already.  We are saving that for tomorrow (Labor Day). Instead, the kids and I created our "personal pizzas" which I described in my last post.

I am still behind on recipe sharing. My goal is to share a cupcake recipe tomorrow from a very special guest cook.  My daughter. :)

Anywho, here is the menu for the week:

Sunday:  Baked sweet and sour chicken, fried rice (Apparently good stuff because it is all gone)

Monday:  A grilling smorgasbord (shrimp, beef tips, chicken)...I will share any recipes we just love, baked half potatoes, black eye peas, Katie bread

Tuesday:  Panko encrusted swai, almond rice pilaf, garlic bread, carrots/Ranch

Wednesday:  On Your Own (church night for half the crew)

Thursday:  Salisbury steak, mashed potatoes, Rhodes rolls

Friday:  Dining out.  Not sure where but since we haven't in a while, we will treat ourselves.

Saturday:  Homemade pizzas (white pizza and pepperoni/Canadian bacon)

We are also having cinnamon crescent rolls for breakfast tomorrow and homemade chocolate chip cookies later this week.  

All of this is subject to change of course. 

What is on your menu this Labor Day week?

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Personal Pan Pizza

I am always craving pizza.


We used to eat it about once a week.

Now it is rare for us to go out for any.

However, I usually make one at home or make a pizza grilled cheese.

And on a rare occasion, we order one from my favorite Chicago pizzeria. 

Tonight my big boys are the Razorback football game. I needed an easy dinner for us to all enjoy.

Of course, pizza came to mind. :)

My kids LOVE making their own pizzas. We do that on occasion.  But typically we use those little individual crusts from the store. However, those are a bit on the expensive side.

Recently on Pinterest someone suggested using Rhodes dinner rolls as little pizza crusts.


I keep those frozen dough balls in my freezer.

In fact, I like the Rhodes Texas dinner rolls. They are slightly bigger.

So this afternoon, I took a few out and let them thaw as I napped.  (It is Saturday after a long week of school...I needed to snooze)

Tonight, we all rolled out our roll flat.  Then we brushed on olive oil and added our toppings.  My kids mainly added sauce, cheese, and pepperoni.  I made mine like I do the big ones...White Cheese (light ricotta, Parmesan, mozzarella, and feta with a few sprinkles of Italian seasoning and basil).

After you have "decorated", bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees.

My one piece of advice is to use little squares of parchment paper. Sprinkle or mist with olive oil and then let your child work with his/her dough on that. Then you can just drop it onto the cookie sheet to bake.  Our biggest issue was moving the pizza over to the cookie sheet without messing up their pizzas. :)

It was fun and a much easier (and cheaper) way to make pizza. I will say that even the Texas roll doesn't make a HUGE pizza. So if you have teens, you might let them make a few...

Happy cooking!