Showing posts with label casserole. Show all posts
Showing posts with label casserole. Show all posts

Quinoa, Kale, and Bacon Quiche

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Crustless Fresh Zucchini Quiche

Crustless Zucchini Quiche
Florida produce is abundant and we love it! Right now, zucchini, tomatoes, red potatoes, and sweet corn are in season. A few markets still have those flavorful and brilliantly colored Florida mini sweet peppers and fresh string beans too. Fresh veggie quiche featuring zucchini came to mind and taste buds while shopping.

This week has been exceptionally difficult and once again, our dinners are being prepared late, very late. To give you an idea of the chaos and despair, I started out just before 7:00 and finally got the quiche in the oven at 10:00 something. In the end, it was more than worth it.

Crustless Fresh Zucchini Quiche

Recipe by RedKathy
Adapted from Zucchini Tomato Quiche

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups zucchini
  • 1 cup sweet peppers - (red, yellow, orange) julienne cut
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 medium tomato - sliced
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 Tbsp chopped green chili peppers, drained (canned)
  • 1 cup Mexican Blend shredded cheese (Monterey Jack, Mild Cheddar, Queso 3 eggs, beaten Quesadilla and Asadero)
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 cup milk
Cooking Directions
  1. Cut the vegetables. Salt the zucchini slices.
  2. Saute zucchini and peppers in olive oil until just soft.
  3. Prepare a 8" or 9" pie plate with no stick spray or butter. Add the zucchini pepper mixture to the plate.
  4. Add the minced garlic to the saute pan and top with tomato slices. Salt the tomato slices. Cook only until garlic is fragrant. This removes some of the water from the tomatoes and allows the garlic to stick to the slices.
  5. Top the zucchini and peppers with the garlic tomato slices.
  6. Sprinkle the green chili peppers, fresh ground pepper, and oregano.
    Layers of fresh Florida vegetables

  7. Top with shredded cheese.
  8. Combine eggs and milk pour on top.
  9. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until set.

Oh my gosh I ate all but one portion of the veggie quiche! The green chili peppers offered a delicate heat contrasting the sweetness of the mini peppers. The zucchini and the peppers both retained a slight crunch. Many of the comments on the original recipe included "too much water retention". There was nothing mushy about this quiche that's for sure. The salting of the vegetables and bit of precooking of the tomato slices solved the problem.

In case you were wondering about that last piece of quiche... I ate that for breakfast this morning. YUM

Have a great week my friends!

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Black Friday - Turkey and Stuffing Casserole

Green Giant Steamers add a fresh vegetable flavor and feel to this traditional casserole. Moreover, the meal is perfect for leftover turkey, easy to prepare, and ideal for Black Friday. A healthy portion of vegetables while offering a fast and hearty meal alternative for a busy, dog-tired day truly is perfect.

“Green Giant® vegetables are picked at the peak of perfection and frozen or canned fast to preserve the simple goodness nature intended…. ”

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Easy Crustless Spinach Quiche - Birds Eye Chefs Favorites

Birds Eye Chef’s Favorites are steam fresh and ready to serve side dishes and worthy of the name Chef’s Favorites. The texture and flavor of the vegetables is incredibly fresh, second only to fresh from the garden. The sauces’ being marketed as light is a bit misleading as I found them to be bold in flavor and thick in consistency. Being part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program afforded me a sneak peak sampling of the new combinations. They will hit the store freezers in September.

Lightly Sauced Primavera Vegetable Risotto is a creamy risotto laced with Parmesan cheese. Sweet green peas and tender carrots make this an interesting, colorful, and tasty side dish. This variety of Birds Eye Chef’s Favorites was served without alteration, prepared per package directions. A press release from Pinnacle Foods claimed this side had a note of Parmesan flavor. I beg to differ. The Parmesan flavor, while delicious, was definitely robust. In fact, some foodies might even classify it as overpowering. In my opinion, the combination of vegetables, particularly the sweet carrots, countered the Parmesan nicely.

The Chefs’ Favorite Lightly Sauced Mushroom and Green Bean Risotto was wonderful. The light and tangy sauce was perfect in combination with the rich, savory mushrooms and the crunch of slender cut green beans. The portion is more than enough for two people, which returned leftovers this particular evening. Being a leftover queen of sorts yet needing a larger serving, I added about 2/3 cup of leftover white rice and a drizzle of chicken broth to the leftover risotto. The original robust flavor was more than ample and incorporated well with the additional rice. I would venture to say one could nearly double this dish without compromising the flavor.

 Birds Eye scored a winner with the Lightly Sauced Roasted Red Potatoes and Green Beans. The parmesan and olive oil flavors combines with whole green beans endorsed the Chef’s Favorite label for me personally. This was a combination my mother prepared when we were kids. Fond memories surely have something to do with this being a favorite however it also required a higher standard. Generally speaking, I don't usually serve ready made foods especially with dinner. The green beans were crisp and the potatoes solid; not what I would expect from a package, that is for sure.The sauce was the lightest of the four, not to say it the least flavorful. How could Parmesan and Olive Oil together NOT be flavorful?  Very nicely done Birds Eye!

The Lightly Sauced Creamed Spinach is all-natural and something my family is not fond of, to say the least. To resolve the “I hate Creamed Spinach” issue, I prepared this easy crustless quiche recipe published by Val, a fellow Foodbuzz featured publisher and tastemaker. Thanks Val, it was a hit!

Crustless Spinach and Veggie Quiche 

1 package Birds Eye Lightly Sauced Creamed Spinach
5 large button mushrooms, sliced
2 ripe Roma tomatoes, diced
1/2 large Vidalia sweet onion, diced
6 large eggs
1/2 cup shredded Colby Jack cheese
Black pepper to taste

Cook the Chef's Favorite spinach according to directions. Meanwhile, spray a casserole dish with cooking spray. Cut the vegetables and add to the casserole dish. Mix the Lightly Sauced Spinach with vegetables and season with black pepper. Beat the eggs and add to the casserole. Stir to incorporate. Bake in a 375 preheated oven for 30 minutes or until cooked through. Top with cheese and return to the oven for about 5 minutes more or until cheese is melted and edges are golden brown.

Red is home for term break and is the one who despises spinach most of all. He ate half the casserole. Enough said?

So there you have it, my two cents on Birds Eye Chef’s Favorites newest upcoming side dishes. Thanks to Foodbuzz and Birds Eye for providing me with four samples to taste and evaluate, You Rock!

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Sour Creamy Chicken and Potatoes with Jalapeno

Made with Breakstones new jalapeño flavored sour cream this creamy chicken and potato recipe was darn delicious. The recipe evolved as a result of hosting a Breakstones Sour Cream House Party. Ready in just over an hour, busy moms will find this quick and easy chicken recipe a suitable and tasty weekday meal choice. I recall very much appreciating one dish meals when my boys were young.

4 large skinless chicken thighs
3 large baking potatoes, washed and sliced
1 small Vidalia onion, sliced
1 10 oz. can cream of celery soup
1/2 can milk (5 ozs.)
4 Tbsp Jalapeno Sour Cream
1/2 tsp rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375. Arrange potato slices in a 9 x 11 baking dish. Cover with half of the onion slices. Wash chicken thighs and pat dry. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and add to the baking dish. Sprinkle the rosemary over the chicken and potatoes. In a small bowl, combine the soup and milk, mixing until completely blended. Stir in the sour cream and mix well. Pour the soup mixture over the chicken and potatoes. Bake for about one hour or until potatoes are soft and chicken juices are clear.

Breakstones flavored sour cream added a rich depth and spicy bite to an otherwise ordinary meal. I served this chicken and potatoes with a fresh garden salad. The recipe as written served three adults however the quantities can easily be doubled to serve a family of four or five.

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Three Cheese Loaded Potato and Ground Beef Casserole

My dad moved in with us last Memorial Day. Dinner has become an interesting culinary adventure for me. Casseroles are without doubt a favorite of octogenarians, which is someone in their 80's. Serve a ground beef casserole and a homemade dessert like this rice pudding or this minty chocolate pie and you'll likely be considered the best cook in Florida.

The reason behind this casserole preference is chewing and swallowing. Most seniors have false teeth, making chewing for proper swallowing and digestion a real chore. Casseroles make eating an easier task.

Secondly, oftentimes the throat muscles work more slowly. The throat muscles contract and expand in succession, moving the food down the throat in the same way a snake moves its food. In my father’s case, these muscles are weak. Swallowing without thought will induce an uncontrollable coughing attack akin to someone in need of the Heimlich maneuver. Casseroles save everyone’s appetite!

Three Cheese Loaded Potato and Ground Beef Casserole

5 medium red potatoes, cut into fourths
1/2 cup light cream or milk
Salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup light sour cream

3/4 lb. lean ground beef
Adobo Seasoning to taste (Latin all purpose seasoning)
1/2 cup Frozen Sofrito Veggies (diced onion, green and red pepper)
1 cup frozen baby peas, thawed
1 cup Kraft Natural Shredded Triple Cheddar Cheese with a Touch of PHILLY
1/2 cup Kraft Natural Shredded Mozzarella Cheese with a Touch of PHILLY
1/4 cup Feta Cheese
1/2 tablespoon cilantro

Heat oven to 350°F
In 4-quart saucepan, place potato pieces and add enough water to cover. Heat to boiling; reduce heat to medium-low. Cook uncovered 15 to 20 minutes or until tender.

While the potatoes are cooking, add ground beef to skillet, season with Adobo to taste, as you would with salt & pepper. Cook lean ground beef over medium low heat until beef is no longer pink. Add frozen Sofrito veggies, sprinkle with cilantro, and cook just until thawed.

Drain potatoes completely, removing a portion of the skins is desired. Return to saucepan. Add cream, salt and pepper to potatoes. Mash with potato masher until a few lumps remain. Beat in sour cream and 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese.

Spoon potatoes into 9 x 13 or 2-quart glass baking coated with cooking spray or butter. Add ground beef mixture, baby peas, 1/2 the triple cheddar cheese and the feta cheese, gentle blend to combine. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup triple cheddar cup cheese.

Bake uncovered 10 to 15 minutes or until thoroughly heated and cheese is melted.

This red potato and ground beef casserole didn’t need many spices to be flavorful and was by no means bland. The pieces of red skin and potato chunks present a composition similar to loaded baked potatoes, while the ground beef and sofrito added texture. The red and green peppers were influential, adding fresh bell pepper flavor even though they were frozen. The combination of cheeses along with both sour and light creams made this casserole rich. Very rich. My father enjoyed this casserole so much he requested it for dinner the next night as well!

To Taste Notes: I added about four or five sprinkles bit black pepper to the potatoes for a bit of zing. That’s how I prefer my mashed potatoes anyway. I added about two sprinkles of Adobo to the meat mixture. Take care shaking the Adobo; it always comes out of the jar fast!

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Easy Pearled Barley & Onion Casserole

Pearled barley is one of those grains of which I have almost no experience. Of course, I have eaten soup with barley, if that can possibly be considered experience. Reading about the nutty flavor and chewy texture of barley heightened my curiosity big time. I was pleasantly surprised to find the pearled barley to be very economical, especially when compared to couscous or quinoa!

The original recipe from Taste of Home called for green onions and a can of mushrooms. I had neither. Using what I had on hand and adding a few more flavors, I came up with this side dish.

Pearled Barley & Onion Casserole
4 servings

1/2 cup pearled barley
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
Salt to taste
1/2 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 tablespoon parsley flakes

In an ovenproof skillet or shallow pot, sauté pearled barley over medium low heat in oil until golden brown. Add garlic, cooking for a minute or two. Stir in chicken broth, and salt; bring to boil. Remove from the heat; add onions, celery and parsley. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes or until barley is tender and all liquid is absorbed.

I really didn’t know what to expect this being my first time cooking barley. I must say it was very good. The nutty flavor of the barley with the onion and celery were a savory combination. The original recipe called for mushrooms and beef bullion. I think fresh mushrooms would have added a completely new characteristic of flavor to the dish. You can bet I’ll be picking some up next time. 

I served this with steamed broccoli and my spicy chicken cutlets.

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Easy Ground Beef Dinners - Holiday Time Savers

Easy Ground Beef Dinners

Thanksgiving marks the final stretch of the current year and preparing for the holidays. The holidays always initiate reminiscing for me. This stage in life is easier and much less stressful compared to when the boys were young. Those times were fun and exciting but stressful, tiring, and sometimes even a bit chaotic as well.

Today (the Sunday before turkey day) I planned our meal, bought the groceries, and announced the menu. Planning Thanksgiving dinner the Sunday before was unthinkable back in day. Hosting a holiday dinner event was complicated. There were the boys’ sports schedules, multiple family dinner invitations, and work schedules to contend with to name just a few.  I remember running errands and shopping after work or between practices weeks in advance. Of course, that would be Q & A time. Mom I’m hungry! What are we having for dinner? Mom when will dinner be ready? We were not even out of the car yet! Yes, life is much less stressful now.

Economical and easy ground beef dinners made my life easier and the family really enjoyed them. What makes these easy dinners even better, any type of ground meat can be used, adapting to your freezer stock and personal taste.

First up is my recently posted and old favorite, Italian Style Shepherds Pie. This recipe prepares in less than an hour and will easily serve 6-8 people.

A “kid approved” fun family dish, this Taco Bake is a true stress reliever. Ready in about 30 minutes, the kids envision this one as a snack food, making it even more kid pleasing. The recipe versatility of using on hand ingredients not to mention the easy “eat-ability for little hands” has marked this casserole a popular go to dinner.

Prepared in a bit more than an hour, this Mexi-Meatloaf is another flavorful rendition of an old-fashioned family meal. I made this one last week along with my easy Spanish rice. Hubby and Dad gave this dinner an A++ rating.


1.25 lbs. lean ground beef
1/2 Tbsp. Adobo seasoning (Latin all purpose seasoning)
1/2 tsp cumin
Black pepper to taste
1/2 tsp minced fresh garlic
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 cup plain bread crumbs
1 1/2 cups Pace Picante Salsa, divided
1 egg
2 Tbsp. dried parsley flakes
1 can Campbell’s cream mushroom soup
1/2 can no salt tomato sauce (2 ozs.)

Preheat oven to 375. In a large bowl, work seasonings into ground beef. Add minced garlic, breadcrumbs, 1 cup of Pace Picante Salsa, parsley, and egg. Continue to work beef mixture to blend. Shape meat into a loaf and place in a shallow 9 x 13 baking pan.

Stir together the remaining 1/2 cup Pace Picante Salsa, tomato sauce, and the cream soup until combined. Pour liquid, it will be thick, over meatloaf. Spread to completely cover if necessary.

Ready to Bake Mexi-Meatloaf
Bake for 50 – 60 minutes, until juices run clear, similar to chicken.

By not overcooking, a creamy layer will remain between the tomato top and meat. When I first prepared this, I thought the creaminess was a fluke. Repeatedly, the creamy layer exists so long as I don’t overcook the meatloaf. The creamy layer has great flavor and is not simply the soup although it appears that way. This is best meatloaf recipe to come out of my kitchen to date.

Creamy Second Layer

Hope these Ground Beef Recipes help to make your family dinner time a bit less stressful this holiday season!

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Pssst Italian Seasoned Shepherds Pie

Have you heard about the Pssst...? Pssst is a tool for General Mills to reach out to consumers for input on newest product launches. Some time ago, I signed up for a free Pssst account. In my mailbox one day last week were two boxes of Betty Crocker mashed potatoes, Creamy Butter and Roasted Garlic. Along with the samples were coupons to share with family and friends.

I have to confess, I prefer instant mashed potatoes. Moreover, and this might sound like a lie, so does my hubby! Of course, that was before his new meat and veggie diet began. Anyway, I was already craving a carb-loaded meal perhaps a nice pasta dish when my Pssst package arrived. Garlic mashed potatoes… My immediate thought was shepherds pie it is! On the other hand, maybe not a shepherds pie what about hubby. I thought aloud, Well heck, make it hearty, and ring the casserole with mashed potatoes. Hubby can eat the center. He was skeptical but went along with the plan; it was that or he makes dinner.

Betty Crocker Instant Potatoes are made with 100% real potatoes. The Home-style creamy butter variety mashed potatoes are based on a scratch recipe. With two pouches in every box, Betty Crocker mashed potatoes offer a better value than other leading brands. In a hurry, these mashed potatoes are ready in just 8 minutes.

Italian infused Shepherds Pie

1 pouch Betty Crocker Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
1.25 lbs lean ground beef
1 tsp minced fresh garlic
1 small onion, chopped
1 16 oz bag frozen mixed vegetables or 2 cups leftover veggies
1 16 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
1 can diced petite tomatoes
Salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup grated Parmesan/Romano cheese

Preheat oven 350. Prepare mashed potatoes according to directions. Sauté ground beef until it is no longer pink. Add onion, garlic, and Italian seasoning, cook for two or three minutes at most. Add the veggies, chickpeas, tomatoes, salt, and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid is reduced by about half; transfer to a 2-quart casserole. Sprinkle grated cheese over top, spread mashed potatoes around the edge of the dish. Sprinkle mozzarella, covering over the center and sparingly atop the mashed potatoes. Bake about 20 minutes or until mixture is bubbling and cheese is slightly brown.

I often use the leftover veggies, rice, and pastas in a dinner casserole like this. This particular casserole included broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and mixed dill seasoned veggies. When the kids were at home meals like this were commonly served. They are economical, hearty, and best of all quick. Change up the ground meat or veggie combinations and use alternate seasonings. For a Mexican flare, substitute ground turkey and chorizo for ground beef. Season with chili powder and cumin, top with Monterey Jack cheese.

Thank you to General Mills for providing the potatoes and satisfying my carb craving!

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Cheesy Spinach Casserole

My family always detested cooked spinach.  Cooked spinach always returned the common spinach objection, Eeeewwww it’s so slimy! I happen to think spinach is delicious both ways however serving dishes the family won't eat, while few, is not something I partake in. So my spinach eating days have been few the last 30 years.  Then I came upon this savory spinach stuffing recipe and just had to try it. Everyone really enjoyed the spinach stuffing. From that result, I learned two things; never tell them in advance your serving cooked spinach, and two, ingredients that counter “slimy” are required. With this new found knowledge, I ventured another cooked spinach recipe. I adapted this recipe a bit, my notes are like this.

Cheesy Spinach Casserole


1 10 ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup cubed process cheese (Velveeta)
1 tablespoon chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon salt – reduced to 1/4 tsp
1 cup soft bread crumbs - 1/2 Panko crumbs, 1/2 Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan/Romano cheese - my addition to the original recipe
4 1/2 teaspoons butter or margarine, melted

In a large bowl, combine the spinach, eggs, milk, cheese cubes, onion, and salt. Pour into a greased 1-qt. baking dish. Combine bread crumbs, grated cheese, and butter; sprinkle over the top. Bake, uncovered, in a 350 degrees preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.

Print the original recipe here

The hubby and Red really enjoyed this. Some things to note, I patted the spinach with paper towels to dry it as much as possible and beat the eggs and milk together before combining with the spinach. I believe this combination solved the slimy texture problem. Using a combination of bread crumbs combined with the strong flavor of the grated cheese contrasted the spinach mixture nicely.

Very nice side dish and another cooked spinach hit!I'm so pleased with this spinach recipe I submitted to May's Side Dish Showdown!

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Scalloped Corn and Broccoli

I always disliked creamed corn. My father loved it; therefore mom served often, or several times a month at least. My hubby, he loathes cream corn. I never served it or even bought it until I ran across a really interesting corn bread recipe, calling for the despised corn. That corn bread never materialized... You know about hubby and that diet, so the can sat in the pantry. While browsing one of those old Oxmoore House cookbooks on Saturday, "For the Love of Cooking", I came across Elegant Scalloped Corn. This was an opportunity to use that can of corn that only Red would enjoy. How is he my kid, he likes creamed corn, huh? I said to myself, if I add my own twist to it, it won't taste like cream corn. Besides I need to use that can. Be brave, try it! Yep, I do talk to myself and happy to report that I have not made the answering myself stage as of yet!

As always my twist noted like this, with omitted ingredients like this

Elegant Scalloped Corn and Broccoli

1 17 oz can cream style corn
1 cup cracker crumbs (about 15 saltines, crushed)
1/2 cup celery
1/4 cup diced onion
3/4 cup pasteurized process American cheese, cut in small pieces (Velveeta cheese w/ peppers)
1 cup frozen broccoli, thawed
1 tsp salt (1/2 tsp)
2 eggs, well beaten
2 Tbsp melted butter or margarine
1 cup milk

Combine corn, cracker crumbs, celery, onion, broccoli, salt, eggs, melted butter, and milk. Mix well. Pour into greased 2 quart casserole and bake at 350 for 50 minutes. Garnish with parsley; sprinkle paprika on top. Yield 8 servings

I forgot to grease the casserole. Don't think it mattered much except for the edges being a bit too brown. I thought it was pretty good and a nice change but can't quite figure out where the elegant comes in. A good home-style and economical side dish, yes. Elegant, what do you think?

While I could taste the sweetness of creamed corn, the overall flavor was a bit different. The broccoli gave it some flavor, texture, and color while the hot peppers in the cheese added a bit of zing. Now Hubby, his first words were, does this have cream corn in it? Um, yes. Did I tell you he loathes creamed corn? No fooling him when it comes to corn I guess. He ate it though, sweet guy that he is :)

Since this is my first time preparing scalloped corn, or anything that called for creamed corn for that matter, I'm going to enter this in the side dish showdown.

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Ground Beef Burrito Bake

Hubby says, What's for dinner, then spots the ground beef thawing. Again, what are making??? What can I say, it was 93% lean and priced right. In an effort to keep the household harmony flowing, I went to searching. Mind you I have to find a dish that's new and low carb too. A very tall task for me; pasta, rice, bread... I love casseroles and carbs!  I finally found this Layered Enchilada Bake on All Recipes that seemed to be a harmonious choice. Of course I put my own spin on it, using what I had on hand. I took exception to using the word Enchilada in my recipe title since I see an enchilada as a corn tortilla filled with spicy goodness, and a burrito with a flour tortilla. Anyway, back to the recipe.  The original recipe claimed one serving had 37.9 grams carbs. I used white beans instead of black beans, 10 grams less; Lite dressing about 5 grams less, and using Rotel rather than jar salsa decreased carbs and calories too. I delivered the news, hubby aka The Carnivore smiled and agreed!

Ground Beef Burrito Bake


* 1 pound lean ground beef
* 1/2 onion, chopped
* 1 tablespoons chili powder
* 1 tsp ground cumin
* 1/2 tsp Adobo seasoning (Latin all purpose seasoning)
* 1 cup chunky salsa
* 1 can Rotel (tomatoes w/ green chili)
* 1 (16 ounce) can cannelloni beans, rinsed and drained
* 1/4 cup Zesty Lite Italian Dressing
* 6 taco size flour tortillas
* 1/2 cup sour cream
* 1.5 cups Shredded Cheddar Cheese


1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Brown meat with onions in large skillet on medium-high heat; drain if necessary. Add the seasonings to beef and onion mixture. Stir in next 4 ingredients and continue to cook for a few minutes to allow thickening.

3. Place 3 tortillas in single layer on bottom of 13x9-inch baking dish. (I used a glass baking dish) Cover with layers of half each of the meat mixture, sour cream and cheese. Repeat layers; cover.
4. Bake 40 minutes or until casserole is heated through and cheese is melted, uncovering after 30 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes.

Turns out this just might be my favorite Mexican style casserole ever! The Carnivore really liked it and I had seconds myself. The sour cream added just the right amount of creamy texture to the dish.

While this is far from a "dieting meal" by most standards, it fits hubby's "Diet My Way" plan perfectly. You know, he's lost 36 pounds so far, yeah!!

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Macaroni and Cheese Paella with shrimp and scallops

I was really excited about making this mac n cheese dish. While browsing Food Buzz and tweeting, I came across I thought to myself, oh man this is the ultimate seafood site. Being a Philly born now Floridian, you can understand my enthusiasm. Red just loves mac n cheese so, even though the hubby is on a low carb diet, I just couldn't resist. I did make a few changes in the ingredients, used what I had on hand. Our local grocer did not have smoked paprika or liquid smoke so I made an alteration there too. I cut the recipe in half, except for the wine, as it serves 8.

Macaroni and Cheese Paella with shrimp and scallops, my way!
1 lb - orzo pasta
3 Tbsp - olive oil
2 - large bay leaves
2 Tbsp - minced garlic, divided
1 lb - uncooked small or medium shrimp (51-60 or 41-50 count), shelled & deveined - three cups small salad size shrimp
1 lb - bay scallops
1/2 tsp - salt
1 tsp - small capers (optional)
2 Tbsp - Spanish smoked sweet paprika, or equivalent (see Cook’s Note) 1/2 Tbsp paprika + 1/2 Tbsp St Louis Mesquite seasoning
1/4 cup - white wine
1 - large sweet onion, chopped
3 Tbsp - chopped sun-dried tomatoes Rotel diced tomatoes with green chilies and cilantro, drained well.
3 Tbsp - butter
2 Tbsp - all-purpose flour
1 cup - half  and half (or milk)
1 cup - chicken broth
1 cup - frozen peas, thawed (about 4 oz)
8 oz - sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)
Additional salt, if needed
8 oz - pepper jack cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
3 Tbsp - minced fresh dried parsley, divided
2 Tbsp - sliced green olives with pimento (optional)
1/4 cup - roasted sweet red pepper strips
Lemon for garnish (optional)

Cook orzo according to package directions to the al dente stage. When done, drain, rinse (to stop the cooking process) and set aside.

Meanwhile bring 3 tbsp olive oil and the bay leaves to medium heat in a large heavy skillet. Add half the garlic and saute a bit, do not let garlic brown. Add the shrimp, scallops, and 1/2 tsp salt; toss to coat. Add the capers, paprika, St Louis mesquite seasoning and stir until shrimp and scallops are well coated. When seafood is just cooked through, remove shrimp and scallops from pan with a slotted spoon, leaving the bay leaves and as much sauce as possible. Set shrimp and scallops aside.

Add the wine to the pan and stir, letting the alcohol cook off for a minute or two. Add the remaining garlic, the onions, and cook until the onions are just softened. Discard bay leaves.

Melt the butter in the pan with the onions. Add the flour, stirring for 2-3 minutes to cook the flour, then add the milk and chicken broth gradually, continuing to stir as the mixture thickens.

When the sauce has fully developed, add the peas and bring sauce to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and gradually add the shredded sharp cheddar cheese, stirring until melted. Adjust salt.

In a large non-stick paella pan or baking dish, combine the cheese sauce with the orzo and stir thoroughly to coat. Gently fold in half of the shrimp/scallop mix, the pepper jack cubes, and half of the parsley. Bake in 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. Top with remaining shrimp/scallop mixture, olives (if desired), Rotel and red pepper strips and return to oven for 5-7 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with remaining parsley.
Serves 8.

Cook’s Note: Smoked paprika, with its unique and delightful flavor, is the secret ingredient of classic Spanish cuisine and is well worth seeking out. It can be found at many gourmet shops, specialty food stores, or online. Though there is no direct substitute, an equivalent amount of good quality regular paprika with 2-3 drops of mesquite smoke flavoring added can be used with good results.

The original post at hugging the coast.

I was right to be excited about this seafood pasta paella, it was really delicious. Red ate at least three servings, and the hubby enjoyed a nice size serving along with his chicken. As you can see there was plenty of seafood on top, allowing him to avoid most of the carbs; he was quite impressed with the flavor. This turned out so well I'm going to make this my first entry to Presto Pasta Nights, which is being hosted this week by the lovely founder, Ruth Daniels, at Once Upon a Feast.

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Creamy chicken, spinach stuffing, and number 100 - Woo Hoo

It's my 100th post, Woo Hoo. Friends and Food are so appropriate for this post, well at least it's appropriate for me. You all know how I feel about both if you read my Uplifted and Inspired post.

Friends and Food

Friends first. Two of my very dear blogger friends passed the Happy 101 Award on to me. Well heck, I'm blushing, thanks to Roz and Gera. Roz authors La Bella Vita, and I can tell you her posts will always make you happy. You'll find some awesome food posts there. As for Gera, he's the mind behind SweetsFoods. He posts some awesome weekly blog round ups I mean to tell you. Not only does he list the weeks best foodie posts from foodie blogs he follows, but also includes some great posts on social media, blogging and health & fitness well. Now this award comes with some terms, which I think is perfect for my 100th post. The rules are as follows: 1. Copy and paste the award on your blog. 2. List who gave the award to you and link to their blog.3. List 10 things that make you happy.4. Pass the award on to other bloggers and visit their blog to let them know.

Ok here goes, ten things that make me happy....uuuummmm...... I'm thinking, do you smell the smoke?
1- Hanging out with my sons
2- Serving up a meal that even I am satisfied with the results.
3- Volunteering to help where children are the beneficiaries
4- Seeing my husband smile
5- Road trips
6- Playing with my grand puppy (no grand kids yet)
7- Talking to old friends from back home.
8- Family gatherings
9- Seeing my Dad laugh
10- Fellowship with bloggers from around the globe

Here are the 10 bloggers who I know will Make you Smile -

1. Mary at Foodo del Mundo
2-Stephanie at Dairy Free Diva
3-Angie at Southern Grace Gourmet
4-Reeni at Cinnamon and Spice
5- Claudia at What's Cookin' Italian Style Cuisine
6-Shelley at Wine at Five
7-Anamaris at Chef it Yourself
8- Mary at Deep South Dish
9-Melissa at Frugal Creativity
10- Pam at A Love for NEW recipes

Wow that was difficult, having to pick just ten bloggers, there are so many more!

And now for the food, yummy! Last weekend I made a really delicious Spinach Stuffing for the first time. My DH, aka 'The Carnivore' wasn't too excited about this. He's cut his carbs to almost nothing and lost about 30 pounds so far! I found the stuffing recipe online, altered it a bit...You know I use what I have on hand most of the time; it finished great.With that I served Creamy Chicken and Mushrooms. This was a recipe that came from mom, with a new twist added. Mom prepared this one in the oven, minus the vino, sometimes it was over potatoes. I did the stove top method, plus the vino! There are no finished pictures because a friend of mine, whom I haven't seen for about a year, stopped by right at dinner time. Knowing about her diet, we waited to eat. By the time I made it back to the kitchen, we were famished! My stomach said, "No time for pictures just dish up that food will ya!" After dinner I popped this photo of the leftover stuffing, to give you an idea of how it finished anyway.

Spinach Stuffing

2-16 ounce bags frozen spinach, thawed/drained (I used one)
1 red, yellow or orange bell pepper, chopped(I didn't have peppers, none used)
1 onion chopped (small onion)
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
4-6 cloves garlic, minced or put through a garlic press (1 Tbsp minced)
4 Tablespoons butter
Season salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, chopped (Not used)
1 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese, shredded
1/2 of a 16 ounce bag of Brownberry Herb Stuffing mix-I like the shredded (I used 1/2 package Rothbury Garlic and Cheese Croutons)

1. Saute the peppers, onions, mushrooms and garlic over medium heat til soft. Season with seasoning salt and pepper.
2. Add the spinach and cook for about 5 minutes more.
3. Place in large bowl and cool to room temperature.
4. Add cilantro, cheese and stuffing mix. Let sit about 10 minutes or so until the bread absorbs the liquid from the veggies. If it's too dry, add chicken stock.(I added 3/4 cup)
5. Stuff into turkey or just place in a greased baking dish and bake for about 30 minutes. (I baked in an 8 X 8 glass dish)

the original -

The stuffing was very moist and not in any way mushy.The cheese gave it a sharp flavor yet not overpowering the spinach. In fact, my son Red, who hates spinach, almost polished off the whole dish! Given that my family doesn't really like those slimy or mushy textures that vegetables like spinach have, this one is definitely a keeper!

Creamy Chicken

5 chicken breasts, bone in
salt and pepper to taste
1 onion, chopped (I sliced them)
1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup (I used cream of celery)
1/2 cup white wine, divided
1/2 can milk

1. Season chicken with salt, pepper to taste.
2. In a large skillet, brown the chicken over medium-high heat.
3. Wisk soup, remaining wine, and milk in a small bowl.
4. Remove chicken, deglaze pan with 1/4 cup of white wine.(Gotta incorporate those yummy brown bits of flavor)
5. Lower the heat, add the mushrooms, and saute for one minute, move to the side.
6. Return the chicken to the pan. Add the onions and scoop the mushrooms on top.
7. Pour cream of mushroom soup mix over chicken. Gently move the chicken pieces and swoosh the soup around to incorporate all ingredients. (a seen in photo)
8. When the soup begins to simmer, cover skillet, cook on medium-low. Simmer 20 to 30 minutes, or until chicken are cooked through. I remove the lid for the last five minutes of cooking in order to allow the sauce to thicken.

This recipe produces a nice creamy gravy sauce. The wine adds just the right flavor, turning that cream soup into a gourmet type sauce. The chicken pieces were nice and juicy inside, and remained nicely browned when the dish was cooked through.

Thanks for stopping by to celebrate my 100th, hope you enjoyed my Friends and Food.

Are you hungry?

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Easy Cheesy Ground Beef Casserole

Limited time, colossal flavor - Easy Cheesy Beef Casserole

Mother loved cooking and cookbooks. Over the years I’ve received numerous cook books as gifts. On one occasion Mom gave me this super cookbook entitled, ‘One Dish Meals the easy way’’. A cook book made for the busiest of moms. “One dish meals the easy way is a cornucopia of recipes for delicious, wholesome meals, all with one thing in common: the convenience of serving a complete meal in a single dish.” Whether you need to feed a bunch of people or your family, prepare something in advance, whip up a fast meal or slow cook this cook book will have something for you.

The last few weeks have been very busy and stressful. Planning for anything was unattainable, including preparing meals. I am so thankful to have been given this cookbook. The meals I prepared were simple, delicious, and clean up was a snap!

Beef in Mushroom Sauce without Mushrooms [big sigh] - I called it, well you know the title

1 lb lean ground beef or pork - I used beef. If your meat is not lean, you will need to reverse cooking steps 1 and 2  in order to drain the fat off.
2 tablespoons oil, butter, or margarine - I used evoo.
½ cup finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed and drained
4 oz medium-wide egg noodles
1 can cream of mushroom soup - I used what I had in the pantry, cream of celery.
1 cup milk
8 oz can mushrooms with liquid - I didn’t have these, figures huh. [another sigh]
2 tsp Dijon mustard - I used Honey Dijon.
½ tsp thyme
½ tsp marjoram
Salt and pepper
1 cup coarsely shredded Gruyere cheese OR ½ cup each Gruyere and grated parmesan - I had no Gruyere so I used sharp cheddar.

Preheat your oven to 350 F. 1- Sauté vegetables until slightly soft, 3-5 minutes. 2- Add the beef, marjoram, thyme, salt, and pepper. Cook until the meat is no longer pink. 3- Add the soup, milk, mushrooms, and mustard. Bring to a simmer, add the uncooked egg noodles, and stir. 4- Spoon the mixture into a greased 11 x 9 x 2 baking dish or a shallow 2 ½ quart casserole dish. Sprinkle with the cheese and bake, uncovered for 35 to 40 minutes or until bubbling and light brown.

Cheesy Beef Casserole
Photo by me... Best I could give you, sorry.
Maybe one day I'll learn how to shoot food pictures ;)

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Chicken Enchilada Casserole & Corn Salsa

I was in a Mexican mood but sick of the same old tacos or burritos. Hubby was off fishing with my nephew. That left Red, my youngest son and I  home at dinner time. He had just purchased new photography lights. Red is a fashion photographer and isn't too fond of shooting food but he so enjoys eating hot n spicy meals.

I was looking in the freezer and thinking, almost out loud. "Oh man he just got new lights...  I sure would like some good food photos to post. Wow, there isn't much to choose from in here, mostly chicken in this freezer..." I decided on a chicken experiment. "Red, what do you think about  a new spicy chicken casserole for dinner? Are you hungry? And, I'll make some spicy, hot corn salsa to top it off." I thought that maybe a new spicy creation from Mom might entice him to try out his lights. "Sounds awesome Ma". So I began to prepare dinner, snapping pictures with my own point and shoot while I was preparing.

1 lb chicken breast pieces c/o Angel Food Ministry
1 small onion diced  (1/2 - 2/3 cup)
4 tbsp Sofrito (Spanish tomato/vegetable base)
1 tbsp Adobo seasoning
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp chili powder (2)
1/4 tsp garlic powder
10-15 slices pickled jalapenos, diced
1 tbsp liquid from jalapenos
1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed
15 small corn tortillas
1 small an diced green chili peppers
2 cups shredded cheddar jack cheese
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes in tomato juice
Olive Oil
Sour Cream

Preheat oven to 400. First, pour enough oil into a large fry pan to about cover it. Add the chicken pieces, and cook, stirring frequently, over medium low heat for about five minutes. Sprinkle the chicken with Adobo seasoning and add the onions. Next add Sofrito, continue to cook until chicken is no longer pink.

Stir in 1/4 teaspoon of chili powder, and cayenne pepper while cooking and stirring until chicken is done and has developed a thick saucy coating . Remove from heat.

Next prepare the tomatoes. About half will be used for the casserole and the balance for salsa. Combine 1 can of tomatoes, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of chili powder, and garlic powder. Stir to combine. Taste and add more seasoning  as your taste requires.

For the casserole, lightly oil sides and bottom of a deep casserole dish. Lay five tortillas in the dish, overlapping  the edges and covering the bottom completely. Spoon some chiken and onion mixture over tortillas. Sprinkle about 1/3 of the green chilies on top. Cover with 1 cup of the cheese. Sparingly sprinkle some of the tomato mixture on the cheese. Repeat for two more layers. About half of the tomato mixture will be remaining. This will be used for the salsa. Bake casserole for 30 minutes or until cheese is melted and edges of tortillas are just crisp.

While the casserole is baking add the corn, jalapenos, and their liquid to the remaining tomatoes. Mix well and refrigerate.

So the dinner was cooking... I asked Red, will you shoot it before we eat? His response....

And his dinner ; - )

My newest experiment was really good. The sour cream and oh so hot and spicy salsa definitely completed the meal. Next time I try this, I'll make two changes: I think I'll make double the tomato mix in order to add half while cooking the chicken. The other would be black beans in the salsa, I was out of them this time.
Are you hungry?

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Best Recipes-Corn Fritters and Freckle Faced Potatoes

My son is home from college, decided to commute for his last quarter. He's studying digital photography. Thanks to Angel Food Ministries we had rib-eye steak for dinner. A real treat for us these days. So, I rubbed the steaks with BBQ grill seasoning about two hours before cooking them. They were just spicy enough and very tender.

I have never prepared corn fritters even though we all really like them. I did some research on Google. Then I turned to one of my old cookbooks, Best Recipes, from the back of boxes, bottles, cans, and jars, by Ceil Dyer. I'll tell you, I used this book a whole lot when the kids were young. It has lots of fast and easy recipes that are really delicious. I found a recipe for corn and pepper fritters. Between my research and that recipe I came up with this:

You will need:
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1 can (12 oz)whole kernel corn with peppers undrained - I used frozen corn, thawed, without the peppers
1 Tbsp. Peanut Oil
1 1/2 cup baking mix
1 Tbsp. cornmeal - I added this ingredient
1 tsp. salt
pepper to taste

Beat egg in a large bowl. Stir in milk, corn, and peanut oil. Add and beat in baking mix, cornmeal, salt and pepper. Drop by tablespoonfuls into deep or shallow hot peanut oil. Fry until golden brown, 2 -3 minutes each side. Drain on paper towels.

I used my Master Built electric turkey fryer, which made cooking quick and really easy.

I thought, since my son is home, I can't serve just plain baked potatoes.... I decided that the Freckle-Faced Potatoes recipe, from the same cook book, would be perfect. A bit spicy, with cheese, they were perfect.

You will need:

3 baking potatoes, baked
1/2 cup cheddar cheese - I used colbyjack
4Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp milk
1/4 tsp hot sauce
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp Worchestershire sauce
1/2 cup crushed croutons or bread crumbs

Quarter hot potatoes lengthwise and place in a bake and serve dish. Sprinkle grated cheese over potatoes. Melt butter in a skillet, add all remaining ingredients, stirring until crushed croutons are moist. Crumble mixture over potatoes and place under broiler until cheese has browned. I served them with a dollop of sour cream. They were really good. Next time, I think I'll add more cheese.

The guys really raved about this simple dinner. I have to admit, it was really easy to make but didn't taste that way at all.

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Did you know...

Did you know...
I had to go into the kitchen and check this out for myself.
Whoever looks at the end of your aluminum foil box? You know when you try to pull some foil out and the roll comes out of the box. Then you have to put the roll back in the box and start over. The darn roll always comes out at the wrong time. Well, I would like to share this with you. Yesterday I went to throw out an empty Reynolds foil box and for some reason I turned it and looked at the end of the box. And written on the end it said, Press here to lock end. Right there on the end of the box is a tab to lock the roll in place. How long has this little locking tab been there? I then looked at a generic brand of aluminum foil and it had one, too. I then looked at a box of Saran wrap and it had one too! I can't count the number of times the Saran wrap roll has jumped out when I was trying to cover something up. I'm sharing this with my friends. I hope I'm not the only person that didn't know about this.