Sunday, March 16

Spice Up Your Sprouts!


I just *had* to share my "recipe" for the best Brussels sprouts I've ever had. Sprouts don't have to be a boring, bland vegetable! If you aren't a fan of the sprout, you've at least gotta try this method before making a final decision.

16 oz Brussels sprouts (I use frozen!)
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp dried minced onion
1 tbsp dried minced garlic

Throw all ingredients in a sauté pan, cover, and stir occasionally for about 10 minutes until butter is melted, and sprouts are cooked through.

Enjoy!

{The leftover butter after the sprouts are devoured is amazing for drizzling over mashed potatoes, too!}
 

Wednesday, January 15

{Figure Friendly} Spaghetti Casserole

You may have noticed by now that I am obsessed with casseroles ever since having my beautiful son. I need meals that I can toss in the oven, and allow me to take the time to care for my toddler in the mean time. "Ain't nobody got time" for homemade sushi anymore, sadly enough. This dish here is one of my personal favorites. Growing up in an Italian family, spaghetti is, and always has been, my absolute favorite food. This recipe however is not diet friendly. Wanna pack on the pounds? Come on over to place! I'll fatten ya' up real quick! For those of you who are watching your calorie intake, I've altered my recipe to be "figure friendly" and cut the calories and fat!


{Spaghetti Casserole}

1 box elbow macaroni
2 pounds ground beef
pepper, minced onion, & minced garlic
1 jar Ragu super chunky mushroom pasta sauce
1 cup sour cream
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook pasta in boiling water per box instruction to al dente. Drain and rinse. 

Meanwhile, brown ground beef, seasoning with black pepper, minced onion, and minced garlic to taste. Drain fat from beef.

Stir in jar of pasta sauce, and sour cream into browned ground beef, until smooth and creamy. Stir in 1 cup of mozzarella cheese.

Add meat sauce to drained pasta in a 9x13 baking dish, and stir to combine.

Top with remaining 1 cup of mozzarella cheese, and sprinkle Parmesan over top to taste. Cover with foil.

Bake for 25 minutes at 350, or until cheese is melted and bubbly. 


{Figure Friendly Spaghetti Casserole}

1 box whole wheat elbow macaroni
2 pounds lean ground beef
pepper, minced onion, & minced garlic
1 jar Ragu super chunky mushroom pasta sauce
1 cup light fat-free sour cream
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook pasta in boiling water per box instruction to al dente. Drain and rinse. 

Meanwhile, brown ground beef, seasoning with black pepper, minced onion, and minced garlic to taste. Drain fat from beef, and rinse ground beef with hot water. Drain. 

Stir jar of pasta sauce, and sour cream into browned ground beef, until smooth and creamy.

Add meat sauce to drained pasta in a 9x13 baking dish, and stir to combine.

Top with mozzarella cheese, and cover with foil.

Bake for 25 minutes at 350, or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

*Tips;

You are more than able to use any type of pasta, including spaghetti noodles. I make my recipe with macaroni noodles, because it's easiest for my 1 year old to pick up with his tiny fingers. I also prefer the thick bite to macaroni, over a thin, limpy noodle.

Rinsing ground beef is a tip I learned from Pinterest. If you thought just draining the fat off of your beef was healthy, try actually rinsing it with water. It's mind blowing how much more fat comes off.

This dish is fantastic for hiding veggies for small children. Or any picky eater, for that matter! Easily sneak shredded carrots, shredded zucchini, or even additional tomatoes or mushrooms in this casserole, to include up to a full serving of fresh vegetables into your meal!

Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 8

My Favorite Chili Cheese Dip


Chili cheese dip is an American past time... Okay, maybe not. But it is by far a tradition in our household. I would say that chili cheese dip and spaghetti and meatballs are the only two foods I specifically remember from my childhood. Oh, and little Vienna sausages.. I loved sneaking those nasty little canned meat sticks from my Grammy's pantry.. Off topic! Chili cheese dip is one of those foods that most likely will taste different at each party you attend. Each family has their way of making it. For my family, it was a can of Hormel chili and a pound of Velveeta. After visiting a friends house who's recipe called for a can of Rotel instead of Hormel, I had a brilliant idea. Instead of making the choice to have chili cheese dip, or the choice to have salsa con queso, let's have a fiesta and combine them both! {Let's be serious here, I know I'm not the first person to dump these ingredients into the crock pot. But never the less, the flavor was better than how I've been doing it for the last 10 years & had to share it.}

I dumped an entire can of Hormel chili (with beans), an entire can of Rotel diced tomatos (original heat), and one 16 ounce block of original Velveeta into my mini-crockpot, and set the heat to low. It takes about 30-40 minutes to get the cheese melted and creamy while stirring occasionally. *This can also very easily be done on the stove top in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat!

By far, this is my favorite chili cheese dip combination. If you've been a follower of the single can dip, I urge you to try adding it's mate, and let me know how you feel about it! How do you make your chili cheese dip?

*Tip; Don't drain that delicious juice from the can of Rotel! Dump all of that liquidy goodness right on in for full flavor.

Enjoy!

Friday, January 3

Perfect Bacon. Every. Single. Time!


Perfect bacon? Is there such a thing?! How many times have we scalded our arms and chest with hot bacon grease? How many times have our bacon come out all limpy and raw? Or even worse. Curled up in a tiny, crispy burnt ball. Bacon is by far the hardest food for me to cook. And I've tried it all. I've tried using a George Foreman grill, I've tried microwaving it, I've tried those stupid microwave cookers that cost an arm and a leg. Nothing works. Until I finally pinpointed how to make perfect bacon. We can thank Rachael Ray for this one. {I love you RR!} The secret to perfect bacon is to bake it. Yup. Simple. The oven. And the TRUE secret that I'm sharing today is to not preheat the oven. Place your bacon on a baking sheet, and slide it into a cold oven. If you prefer a softer bacon, choose the middle rack. If you're like us and prefer a crispier bacon, choose the bottom rack. Once you shut the oven door, set the oven temperature to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and set the timer for 30 minutes. Don't peek! After 30 minutes, carefully remove the baking sheets from the oven. They may not look as pretty as we'd hope at this point.


Don't be alarmed at the amount of nasty grease surrounding your bacon. The next step is to carefully layer the bacon between sheets of paper towel to absorb the grease.


I waited approximately 5 minutes to allow that grease to absorb. And after 5 minutes, perfect bacon.


It's really that easy. No grease splatter, minimal mess, no curly, wrinkles, nothing. At this point, you could go ahead and dive right in to devour it all, or go my route and ziplock bag it and store it in the fridge for BLT's! Enjoy!

Thursday, January 2

Cheeseburger Tater Tot Casserole


Have you been craving a big, flavorful cheeseburger with crispy, salty tater tots lately? Is it just me? Maybe it's just me, but I have been dying for a savory dinner that doesn't require my poor husband to grill in -27 degree temperatures. {Yes, it has truly been that cold here in South Dakota these past few weeks!} What do we do when we don't want to grill? We throw it into a casserole! Wait, even better.. We throw it in the crockpot and allow it to do the work for us, while we snuggle up and try to survive without freezing half to death! I prefer the crockpot method, but in enjoy having an oven-ready back up plan.

{OVEN}

32 ounces frozen tater tots
1 pound ground beef
10 ounce can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup sour cream
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1 cup fried onions, divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare 9x13 casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray. 

In a large skillet, brown ground beef. Drain.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together mushroom soup, and sour cream. Stir in 1 + 1/2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese, and 1/2 cup fried onions. Carefully stir in browned ground beef while still warm. Add 32 ounces of frozen tater tots, and gently stir just to combine.

Pour mixture into prepared baking dish. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.

Top with remaining 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese, and 1/2 cup of fried onions. Bake for an additional 5 minutes, until cheese is melted.

Enjoy!

{CROCKPOT}

32 ounces frozen tater tots
1 pound ground beef
10 ounce can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup sour cream
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1 cup fried onions, divided

In a medium skillet, brown ground beef. Drain, and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together soup, sour cream, 1 + 1/2 cup shredded cheese, and 1/2 cup fried onions. Gently stir in ground beef, and tater tots. 

Prepare large crock pot with non-stick cooking spray. Carefully scrape entire casserole into crock pot. Cook on low for 6 hours, or on high for 4 hours.

Enjoy!

Cheesy Mushroom Broccoli & Rice

Over the Christmas holiday my mother and father in-law flew out for a short visit, and as usual, I was unprepared on the supper front.. But never fear! I am the queen of throwing random ingredients into a pot, and calling it "food". This particular event called for a bag of frozen chicken breast at the front of my freezer. A little of this, a can of that, and BOOM. One of the best meals I've ever made {which, sorry, isn't saying much...} and has become a weekly staple in our house ever since. As an overachiever, I've even modified my recipe for you Crockpot lovers out there!


{STOVETOP}

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thawed
10 ounce can cheddar cheese soup
10 ounce can cream of mushroom soup
10 ounces chicken broth
8 fresh ounces mushrooms
32 ounces frozen broccoli
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 cups steamed rice

In a medium skillet, brown chicken breasts for about 8 minutes, until 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Shred chicken, and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large covered skillet, steam broccoli and mushrooms together for about 10 minutes, until mushrooms are browned and broccoli is thawed and warm.

In a large stock pot, whisk together cheddar soup, mushroom soup, and chicken broth over low heat. Stir in black pepper, and garlic powder.

Stir broccoli and mushrooms into soups, and raise the heat to medium. Stir in shredded chicken. Warm over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until soup is hot.

Serve over steamed rice, and enjoy!


{CROCKPOT}

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, frozen
10 ounce can cheddar cheese soup
10 ounce can cream of mushroom soup
10 ounces chicken broth
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
8 ounces fresh mushrooms
32 ounces frozen broccoli
2 cups steamed rice

In a large crock pot, whisk together cheddar soup, cream of mushroom soup, chicken broth, black pepper, and garlic powder. Stir in fresh mushrooms. Press 4 frozen chicken breasts into the bottom of the crock pot.

Cook on low heat for 6 hours, or on high for 4 hours.

Shred chicken breasts. Stir in frozen broccoli and cook on low for another 2 hours, or on high for another hour, until broccoli is thawed and hot.

Serve over steamed rice, and enjoy!