Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sausage Cheese Grits Casserole

I almost called this Christmas morning casserole, because it's very similar to one that my mother makes every year. We decided to have breakfast for dinner, and I knew this recipe I adapted from Sugar and Spice by Celeste would fit the bill perfectly. 

The key to good grits, for those outside of the South, is to stir, stir, stir. This ensures they'll be creamy and smooth. Add in the flavors of sausage and cheese, and you're guaranteed to have a crowd-pleaser. I brought leftovers in to work, and I've been hearing the microwave beep all morning. 

This is also a great make-ahead dish for breakfast/brunch...wake up and pop it in the oven! 

Printable recipe

1 cup uncooked grits
1 pound ground hot sausage
4 tablespoons butter
1 egg
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Brown and drain sausage and set aside. Cook grits in 4 cups of boiling water until thick, whisking frequently. 

Add butter, egg, cooked sausage, and one cup of the cheese to grits. 

Pour into a 9x13 dish and bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes. Add remaining cup of cheese and bake for another 30 minutes.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Chicken Ziti with Two Sauces

I re-pinned this from a friend of mine, and I loved the idea of combining marinara and Alfredo sauce. How could that not be good?

Well, it was absolutely delicious. Creamy, comforting, cheesy, and very filling. I added chicken to make it a little more hearty, so I decreased the amount of pasta from original recipe to balance it out and make sure it wasn't too dry. The original also called for a layer of cheese sprinkled on top, but I decided to skip this step.

Printable recipe

8 ounces ziti
1 15-ounce jar Alfredo sauce
1 24-ounce jar marinara sauce
2 cups cooked, chopped chicken
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Cook pasta according to directions and drain.  Mix the sauces together in a large bowl. Add the chicken and mozzarella and stir to combine. Add ziti and toss to coat. Pour into a 9x13 dish and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Turkey Shepherd's Pie

I have been wanting to make Shepherd's Pie after watching an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives that featured a restaurant specializing in this dish. I found this recipe over at Real Simple.

(By the way, even though I'm a magazine editor, I would happily do ANY job on Triple D just for the experience. And, one recent episode spotlighted a couple who has made it a quest to visit all of the restaurants featured on the show, which I think is so neat.)

Back to the recipe...

I liked the variation of using turkey, even though I'm not a huge fan of its color when cooked. The chicken gravy punched up the normally bland flavor and made it seem richer, but not as heavy as beef.

It's pretty well-documented that I love a casserole, so you can pretty much combine any variety of ingredients and it's appealing to me. Meat...peas...potatoes...cheese. How can you go wrong?

One thing...I might use a little less water in the turkey mixture or cook it on the stove a bit longer to thicken it up a little more. It would also kick up the flavor to use garlic mashed potatoes instead of plain.

Printable recipe

1-1/2 pounds ground turkey   
1 1.2-ounce package dry chicken gravy mix
1 10-ounce package frozen peas, thawed, or can of peas, drained
1 24-ounce package refrigerated mashed potatoes
1/2 cup shredded cheese

Brown turkey. Add the gravy mix and 1 cup water. Stir frequently until the sauce comes to a boil; cook 1 minute. Grease a 8x8 baking dish and spoon in the turkey. Top with the peas, then the mashed potatoes. Sprinkle with the cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until top is golden.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Feta-Artichoke Dip

I wanted to make a new dip for the SEC championship (it was a great first half....and that's it) and I had found this recipe over at Deep South Dish. It's your basic artichoke dip recipe, but the feta definitely brings a different element to it. The crumbles add a unique tang to a standard dish. Great party recipe...and easy as pie!

I wish I had paid more attention to how this dip was originally served. I used Frito Scoops...but she spread hers on little slices of bread. That would have been delicious!

Printable recipe

1 14-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup of mayonnaise
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 2-ounce jar chopped pimientos, drained

Stir together all ingredients and pour into greased pie plate. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Ranch Scalloped Potatoes

I'm sure some purists are going to scoff at the use of boxed potatoes in this dish...but I'm not afraid of a little reliance on convenience products. Plus, I hate to peel potatoes. This recipe comes courtesy of Betty Crocker herself. (I halved it.)

The ranch dressing is the star in this dish. It's easily one of the best potato casseroles I have ever had. It (obviously) comes together quickly. Don't be tempted to leave off the French-fried onions...they give the dish a great crunch and complement the tang of the ranch dressing nicely. 

1 box scalloped potatoes (Betty Crocker)
1 package (0.4 oz) dry ranch salad dressing mix
1-3/4 cups boiling water
1 cup half-and-half
1 can French-fried onions

In an 8x8 glass baking dish, stir together dry sauce mix from potatoes, ranch dressing mix, boiling water and half-and-half with whisk. Stir in potatoes. Bake uncovered at 400 degrees for 35 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Top with onions; bake 10 minutes longer. Let stand 5 minutes before serving (sauce will thicken as it stands).

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Guest Post: Kitchen Catastrophe

My dear friend Jenny do I say it?...kind of a disaster in the kitchen. I tried to help last year, with monthly cooking classes, but they ended up being "laugh and drink wine and forget about what's in the oven" sessions. She has a boyfriend now who's a great cook...and I don't understand why she doesn't leave meals up to him. God bless her, she keeps trying.

She told me she was going to attempt one of the recipes I had pinned: Creamy Avocado Pasta. I asked her to guest blog about it...but when I got her texts, I decided to just publish them directly.

Note: This is no reflection on this recipe. Total user error. And, doesn't that photo look like she just threw the pasta on the plate? Yeah, 'cause that's exactly what she did.

Here we go:

I don't even know where to begin to tell you what went wrong with this pasta.

I don't have a food processor, which means I use a blender. The avocado was not blending up well, so I kept pushing it down with a rubber spatula. I got sick of doing that and taking lid off. So I put the rubber spatula in while it's running.

Then I have to dump it out to remove the piece of spatula that got chopped off.

Then, it's too thick. Randy comes in and says it needs more olive oil. I get annoyed because I don't stray from the recipe. It has the amount of olive oil in it that the recipe called for.

I hand it over to Randy to fix. He drops a knife in it while starting the blender. Knife and half the sauce go flying.

As I'm trying to add pasta to the sauce, the pasta keeps clumping up. I get frustrated and again walk away for him to fix.

He tells me to taste it and that I should be able to tell him what it needs. I get mad because no I shouldn't, I don't know what anything needs.

So, as very often happens when I cook...I'm mad and frustrated. But I'll take a *&^%*&^% picture and blog about this for you.

The final text came when I asked, "How did it taste?" Her response: "I'm too pissed to eat right now."

Monday, November 7, 2011

Chili Frito Casserole

Okay, it's not pretty. I had no hopes that it would photograph well. But...I still think it looks delicious.

I had printed this recipe out before I left work on Friday to make Sunday night...and we ended up making chili Friday night, so I thought...why not use the leftovers in this dish? You can find the original recipe at Pearls, Handcuffs & Happy Hour. It uses a combination of beef, beans, tomatoes, and taco seasoning.

This obviously isn't gourmet...but it's a perfect way to use up leftover chili and have a bowl of comfort in the fall/winter. I probably would leave out the bottom layer of Fritos next time...they got soft covered with the chili (naturally) and it made them taste stale/chewy.

Printable recipe

2 cups Fritos
2 cups chili
1 cup sour cream
2 cups cheese

In a greased 8x8 pan, layer 1 cup of Fritos (basically, enough to cover bottom of dish). Top with chili. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Spread sour cream over chili and top with rest of Fritos and cheese. Bake an additional 5-10 minutes (or until cheese is melted).

Friday, November 4, 2011

Cheese-Stuffed Meatballs

I'm usually a frozen meatball gal, simply because I find the browning process tedious. So, when I come across a recipe that calls for baking them, I jump on it.

The original recipe is from Taste of Home, but I made quite a few changes. I had defrosted some hot Italian sausage the day before, so I used that instead of ground beef. I also doubled the recipe to use the entire package. The mixture looked a little "loose," so I added some bread crumbs. I also read the recipe wrong and bought tomato sauce instead of tomato soup.

The result? I thought these came out great. If you're gun shy about making your own meatballs (I'm talking to you, Mother), it's really not that big of a process. I liked the punch of spicy sausage followed by creamy, gooey cheese. They tasted decadent.

I ate these on their own, but they'd be great over pasta, polenta, or (my favorite) a piece of toasted garlic bread.

4 tablespoons beaten egg (I used Egg Beaters)
1/2 teaspoon
garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon
1/2 teaspoon
1 pound
Italian sausage, casings removed
1/4 cup bread crumbs
16 cubes cheddar cheese (1/2 inch each)

15-ounce can tomato sauce

Combine first six ingredients. Form 16 meatballs and shape each portion around a cheese cube. Place meatballs in a greased 8x8 pan and top with tomato sauce. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until meat is no longer pink.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Southwestern Sausage Quiche

I. Love. Quiche.

I always have a box of the mini variety in my freezer, and if it's on a restaurant's lunch menu, I'm almost always going to order it. I can't put my finger on's not like I'm a huge egg fan. There's just something about creamy, (usually) cheesy goodness supported by a flaky crust.

I hope Stephanie at Plain Chicken isn't going to roll her eyes that I'm posting another one of her recipes...but I have so many from her blog bookmarked (now "Pinned").

I think the key to this recipe being so good is the Ranch dressing...which pretty much makes everything better. I also used hot sausage and hot Rotel, which gave it the perfect amount of heat.

It was eaten at my house for dinner...and then for breakfast...and then for lunch by a co-worker...and, finally, as a snack by my mother. This is truly soul-satisfying food.

Printable recipe

1/2 pound ground breakfast sausage
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1 can Rotel tomatoes, drained 
2 eggs
1/4 cup Ranch dressing
1/4 cup sour cream
1/3 cup milk
1 9-inch unbaked deep dish pie shell

Preheat oven to 350. In a large skillet, cook sausage until well browned, stirring frequently. Drain off grease and set aside. Whisk together eggs, Ranch dressing, sour cream and milk. Add sausage, cheese and Rotel. Stir to combine. Pour egg mixture into prepared pie crust. Bake 1 hour. Allow quiche to rest for 5-10 minutes before serving. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Mexican Stuffed Shells

Dinner at my house often boils down to one question: Italian or Mexican? So, when I saw this recipe, I knew I'd love it...even though it seems like a strange mix of flavors on paper. If you're a pasta fan looking for a twist, this is for you.

I know stuffed shells can seem like a process, but this recipe is so worth it. One of the best cooking tips I've ever received was to fill a Ziploc bag with whatever you're stuffing shells with, snip a corner, and pipe away. So easy.

I have to confess...we had quite a few spoonfuls of the meat mixture (I mean, cream cheese and taco seasoning?) and both agreed that we could have had that for dinner alone. Seriously delicious.

Printable recipe

1 pound ground beef
1 package taco seasoning 

3 ounces cream cheese
16 jumbo pasta shells, cooked
1-1/2 cups salsa
1 cup taco sauce
2 cups cheddar cheese 

Brown beef and add taco seasoning. Add cream cheese and stir until melted. Pour salsa on bottom of 9×13 baking dish. Stuff each cooked pasta shell with the meat mixture. Place shells in pan open side up. Cover shells with taco sauce.  Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Add shredded cheese and bake for 10-15 more minutes with the foil removed.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Creamy Meatball Stew

I found this recipe over at Cassie Craves awhile ago when I was looking for recipes using frozen meatballs. She calls it a minestrone and uses some fresh vegetables, but I cut out a few steps to streamline the process.

I let the sauce simmer for a couple of hours to develop the flavor, and it also really thickened up. In fact, once the cream cheese is added, it was less stew and more casserole in consistency. I was a little unsure about the beans, but they were a nice addition; they're a good source of protein if you wanted to make this without the meatballs.

Ultimately, this was just a bowlful of comfort. I took a serving next door to my med school neighbor, who I imagine lives on frozen pizza and fast food, and he knocked back on my door within 10 minutes with a scraped-clean bowl.

Printable recipe

1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 pound frozen or fresh Italian meatballs 

1 26-ounce jar spaghetti sauce
32 ounces beef broth
8 ounces small uncooked pasta
8 ounces cream cheese, softened

Combine first six ingredients in large stockpot. Simmer until meatballs are warm/cooked through. Add pasta and simmer until cooked. Remove from heat and stir in cream cheese until melted. 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Crockpot BBQ Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches

I love, love, love buffalo wings (hot, please!), but since I try to keep fried food to a minimum, I'm always looking for other ways to replicate the flavor. This recipe comes from the blog Forever Now and Then, and it completely hit the mark.

My chicken breasts were on the small side, so it looked pretty soupy during the cooking process. I was beginning to re-think the addition of chicken stock and wondering if I should drain the chicken before serving. But, after I shredded the chicken and kept it warm in the sauce for a little while longer, to make sure every bite of chicken was coated, it really came together.

I used a bottled sauce from a local BBQ joint, which happened to be a thin, heavy-on-the-vinegar variety. You could certainly use a sweeter, thicker sauce, which would cut the heat. However, I absolutely loved the spice and tang of this chicken. I'm not a huge fan of blue cheese, but I think a few crumbles in this sandwich would have put it over the edge.

4 frozen chicken breasts
1 cup BBQ sauce
1/2 cup hot sauce
1/4 cup ranch dressing
1 cup chicken broth

Place frozen chicken breasts in crock-pot. Combine remaining ingredients and pour over the top. Cook on high for 4-5 hours. Shred chicken with two forks and stir. Cook on low until sauce thickens.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Baked Club Sandwich

This is another recipe courtesy of Plain Chicken, which was adapted from Pillsbury, and I knew the minute I saw it that it would make perfect football food. It is truly a man-friendly dish, packed with deli meat, cheese, and bacon. It was very hearty.

I don't like to cook bacon, and I'm not a fan of the microwave slices, so I used a few tablespoons of the bagged real bacon pieces.

This recipe is so versatile because you can use any combination of meats and cheese to suit your taste. The original recipe called for ham, turkey, and roast beef, but I found a combo package with ham, turkey, and Canadian bacon (with exactly as many slices as I needed), so I went with that.

These can be a little dry on their own, so I served with ranch dressing for dipping...perfect complement!

Printable recipe

6 slices bacon, cooked and chopped (or bagged real bacon pieces)
1 11-ounce can refrigerated French loaf bread
1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
15 slices deli meat (variety of turkey, ham, roast beef, Canadian bacon, or chicken)

Spray cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Unroll dough. Sprinkle cheese over dough. Top with bacon and deli meat. Starting with long side, roll up dough; press edges to seal. Make 3 to 4 slits in top of loaf. Place on sprayed cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 5 minutes. Cut into 1-inch diagonal slices.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Lazy Man's Chicken Parmesan

This recipe was floating all over Pinterest a couple of weeks ago. Even though I love the recipe I have for chicken parmesan, I couldn't help but try one that eliminated the coating/breading stage. It was originally called Easy Chicken Parmesan Bake, but when I showed it to a friend, he renamed it Lazy Man's Chicken Parmesan. Indeed...even a child could have put this together.

This is a fantastic way to get dinner on the table with little effort. Some of the croutons kept their shape, adding a nice chewy element, like a bite of garlic bread. Most of the croutons "melted" while cooking, giving the illusion of breading. In fact, if you closed your eyes, the taste is exactly the same. That, to me, is a fake-out success.

Printable recipe

4 chicken breasts
2 cups spaghetti sauce
2 cups mozzarella cheese
1 5-ounce package of garlic croutons

Drizzle olive oil in bottom of 9x13 pan and sprinkle evenly with salt and pepper. Place chicken breasts in pan and coat with spaghetti sauce. Sprinkle 1 cup of cheese over chicken. Top with croutons and remaining cup of cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Deviled Egg Dip?

I found this recipe over on the Tasty Kitchen site, and I was immediately intrigued. I wanted to take it to a gathering this past Saturday night, but I knew I needed to crowd-test it first. I took it over to my parents' house that morning, and we tried it with a) Ritz crackers, b) Wheat Thins, and c) Frito Scoops.

We really struggled because all of the chips/crackers overwhelmed the dip and, in my dad's opinion, made it too salty. The flavor itself was fantastic...a deviled egg fancied up with bacon and cheese. How could it not be good?

I went with the Fritos, but it still wasn't a huge success that night. But, one of the guests, before sampling, said, "Oh, I love egg salad." So....

On Sunday, I scooped some onto a hamburger bun and ate it like "deviled" egg salad sandwich. And it was perfect. The bread was the ideal vehicle, as it let the flavor shine.

Printable recipe

5 large eggs 
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons
 French's Mustard

1 tablespoon
 Frank's Red Hot Original Hot Sauce

1 tablespoon

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
4 slices

Put eggs in a sauce pan and cover with water. Bring to a boil over medium heat. When the water starts to boil, turn off the heat and cover for 20 minutes. Allow eggs to cool enough to peel.

While the eggs are cooking, fry four slices of bacon until crisp. Drain and crumble bacon into small pieces.

In a large bowl, mix together mayo, mustard, hot sauce, vinegar, cheese, and crumbled bacon.

In a small bowl, use a fork to mash the eggs into small chunks. Add the eggs to the mayo and mustard mixture and stir together.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Corn Pudding with Pickled Jalapenos

I'm pretty much a sucker for anything that uses Jiffy; I just love its sweet flavor. This recipe comes from Jamie and Bobby Deen. They call it "bread," but it's really too loose to be called that, so I've taken the liberty of renaming it. I was expecting to cut it into squares, but it's more of a "scoop."

I'm a big fan of heat, so I doubled the amount of jalapenos. I also added a couple spoonfuls of the juice to spread the flavor throughout the dish. I love the nachos from a local fast-food Mexican restaurant, and it's because they add juice to the cheese sauce along with the peppers. Delish.

The kernel corn is a nice texture in such a creamy dish...and I also loved that I had every single ingredient already on hand. This is complete comfort food...with a kick! I kept finding reasons to go back in the kitchen for another bite after we cleaned our plates.

Also, in making this again, I think I would use a 9x13 pan to spread it out a little and get more surface area to crunch up.

(My apologies for the camera battery went dead, so this is a Blackberry shot.)

Printable recipe

1 15 1/2-ounce can whole kernel corn, drained
1 15-ounce can cream-style corn
1 8-ounce package corn muffin mix
1 cup sour cream
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup sliced pickled jalapeƱos

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan; set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together the whole corn, creamed corn, muffin mix, sour cream, butter, and jalapenos. Pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Spicy Sausage and Black Bean Dip

It's the most wonderful time of the year...SEC football season! I had zero reason to celebrate on Saturday, with a horrible UGA loss, but that doesn't mean we still didn't eat well. I spend the weekend on the Gulf coast, along with Tropical Storm Lee, so we hunkered down and settled in for a great day of games.

I found this recipe at Plain Chicken, one of my favorite food bloggers (and fellow Birmingham gal!). I made some adjustments to the quantities, upping/rounding off the sausage and cream cheese to full packages to make it easier. I scooped individual servings into Frito Scoops and served on a platter. This isn't the prettiest dip (it looks kind of messy), so doing that at least helped with presentation.

While it may not be sure does taste good. It was creamy and cheesy with just the right amount of heat from the sausage and Rotel. And, it uses ingredients you probably already have on hand. I think you could use sour cream in place of the yogurt if you're so inclined.

It was definitely a great way to kick off the return of football Saturdays!

Printable recipe

1 pound hot sausage, cooked and crumbled
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
7 ounces plain Greek yogurt
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded 

1 can Rotel tomatoes, drained
1 can black beans, drained

Mix together all ingredients and pour in baking dish. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Serve with tortilla chips.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Pot Roast Sliders

Why hasn't someone invented a line of crockpot candles? Roast? Chili? There's just nothing like coming home to a house that smells absolutely delicious!

I found this recipe over at Deep South Dish, but I made a few adjustments. The original recipe calls for adding caramelized onions and Swiss cheese to the sandwiches (which does indeed sound delicious). Instead, I added mushrooms that I had on hand and served with pickles, which added a kick of acid and a nice crunch. I served the roast on Hawaiian rolls, and I loved the "sweet" element they brought.

This had a pretty basic roast flavor, but I could definitely taste the spice from the picante sauce. (Don't worry, it's not overwhelming.)

I love the idea of a different way to serve pot roast as little sandwiches. Comfort food in the palm of your hand! Tonight's leftovers can be served traditional with mashed potatoes and green beans.

Printable recipe

1 3 to 4 pound pot roast
1 cup water
1 envelope ranch dressing mix
1 envelope Italian dressing mix
1 envelope brown gravy
1 8-ounce jar picante sauce
1 8-ounce package sliced mushrooms (optional)

Whisk water with the contents of the three envelopes in a small bowl. Add about 1/4 cup to the bottom of your slow cooker. Place roast on top and pour remaining mixture over and around roast. Top with jar of picante sauce. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours. Add mushrooms in the last hour of cooking. Shred roast with two forks in crockpot and stir roast and gravy/sauce together. Serve on dinner rolls.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

What's the point of pinning recipes...

...if you're never going to make any of them?

For years, I've been bookmarking recipes...and then promptly forgetting about them. So, when someone recently introduced me to Pinterest and how it works, I started going through my bookmarks and pinning all of the recipes I've been intending to make.

Within just two weeks of joining the site, I have well over 100 recipes pinned. I love how now all of the recipes are on one page for easy viewing...choosing what to make for dinner just got that much easier. It made me think...I  really need to start cooking these. And blogging about it.

Click on the Pinterest logo to see my pins...and feel free to weigh in on any you'd like to see me try. There are recipes on my Food board, as well as my Football Season board. With college kick-off around the corner, I can't wait to start making tailgating snacks.

Stay tuned...we're getting started soon!