Saturday, January 31, 2009


This is a meal idea and not really a recipe. Brian introduced me to tostadas after we were married and I really like them. It's a great alternative to tacos and they're just as easy.

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We take a tostada shell and spread refried beans and then guacamole on top of that. That works as a glue to hold it together. Then we add taco meat, cheese, lettuce, tomato, and sour cream. You can be creative and add what you like! We pick them up and eat them like pizza. And hey, tostadas sound a lot cooler than tacos.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Menu: January 26 - January 31

I haven't posted a menu since November! Kind of silly really considering I have planned menus most of these weeks I was just too lazy to post them. So here's this weeks:

Monday: We had leftovers from Sunday. Natalie made lasagna and it was really good!
Tuesday: Adobe chicken over salad. I really like that chicken over salad. Thanks again for posting that one Jennie!
Wednesday: Tostadas
Thursday: Italian dressing chicken with mashed potatoes and a veggie
Friday: Chicken and broccoli over rice
Saturday: Turkey sandwiches...we are having a late lunch at a teacher development meeting. So we'll have a light dinner
Sunday: I think I might make a roast, but I'm not sure yet

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Menu: January 27 - February 3

We had a lapse last week...oops! We did a whole bunch of scrounging for meals and fast food. Oh well, life happens.

Here's to a better week!

Tuesday (today): Pork and Beans (Paul's family recipe)
Wednesday: Cream Cheese Chicken
Thursday: Rigatoni with Meat Sauce (Chef Britta)
Friday: Chicken Bell Pepper Chowder (Frosted Cupcake)
Saturday: Stir fry/Fried rice
Sunday (James' Birthday!): Hungarian Goulash
Monday: Pasta Primavera
Tuesday: Wild Rice Casserole

Oh, and I still have a few recipes to catch up with. I'll work on that. ;)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Banana Cream Dessert

This is one of my relatively new favorite desserts. Banana cream pie has always been a favorite and this is way easier and every bit as good in my opinion (a little bit richer).

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1 and 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs
1/3 c. melted butter or margarine
3 T. sugar
1 c. powdered sugar
8 oz. pkg. cream cheese
12 oz. Cool Whip
4 bananas
2 (3.4 oz.) boxes instant vanilla pudding
3 c. milk

Stir together crust ingredients and press into a 9 x 13 pan. Cook at 350 degrees for 5-10 minutes (I usually do about 8). Cool.

Mix together in a bowl (using a mixer) powdered sugar, cream cheese, and 9 oz. of the cool whip. Spread over crust. Cover with sliced bananas.

Mix 2 boxes of pudding with milk for a couple minutes and spread over bananas. Spread the rest of the cool whip on top of that. Refrigerate.

*I found this recipe here at and then I changed it a bit. It called for a crust made of butter and flour and I prefer graham cracker crust. Also, I usually let the pudding layer set up for a little bit in the fridge before spreading the cool whip on top.
*It doesn't need very long to set up, but I usually refrigerate it for an hour before serving it (it probably doesn't even need that long).

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Menu: January 14 - January 20

I forgot to post my menu last week. Oops! I even planned one! Silly me. Here's this week's menu:

Wednesday (today): Chicken and Broccoli
Thursday: Creamy Italian Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Steamed Carrots...and French Fruit Pie for dessert! (I'm bringing dinner to someone, so I decided to go all out. :) )
Friday: Hayashi Rice
Saturday: Chinese Haystacks and Wantons (Paul never got his birthday dinner...we went out for Japanese food instead.)
Sunday: We're going to a friend's apartment for dinner! :)
Monday: Marinated Pork Chops
Tuesday: Stir Fried Vegetables and Fried Rice

BBQ Beef Bowls

Paul is a big fan of rice bowls (as you can imagine, with his love for rice ;) ). I knew this would be a recipe he would like as soon as I read it. I found it on The recipe on the site got mixed reviews, but mostly because people seemed to be surprised that it had a barbecue flavor rather than a taco seasoning flavor (which doesn't make much sense because taco seasoning is NOT one of the ingredients, but whatever). I thought barbecue would be interesting in a rice bowl, so I tried it. They tasted good! And as long as you realize that it's not going to taste like taco meat, I recommend you give it a try. ;)

BBQ Beef Bowls
1 lb. ground beef
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 c. frozen corn
1/2 c. barbecue sauce (the recipe obviously calls for KRAFT barbecue sauce, but you can use whatever you want, of course)
3 c. rice, cooked
cheese (again, because it's a KRAFT website, it actually calls for a slice of Velveeta on each bowl...I used grated cheddar ;) )
green onions, chopped

Cook rice (oh how I love my rice cooker!). Meanwhile, cook beef with onions and bell peppers until meat is browned. Add tomatoes, corn, and barbecue sauce, and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Spoon rice into bowls. Top with meat mixture, cheese, and green onions. (I forgot the green onions when we had it, as you can see from the picture. )

For some reason, Blogger won't let me add a link to the recipe right now, but you can find the original at by searching for "BBQ Beef Bowls".

Quick and Easy Vegetarian Lasagna

Now, I've tried a few different recipes for vegetarian lasagna, and I like them all for different reasons. I knew I had to try this one when I read the ingredients and it had hard boiled eggs in it. Talk about interesting! It's another one from the Home Ec teacher's Italian cookbook. I loved it, and so did Paul. And Paul's not usually a big fan of eggs, so that's saying something. The eggs and spinach gave it a very distinctive flavor.

Quick and Easy Vegetarian Lasagna

1 jar spaghetti sauce with vegetables
1 package lasagna noodles, cooked*
1 package frozen chopped spinach (thawed and squeezed dry)
8 eggs, hard boiled and sliced
2 (5 oz) packages mozzarella cheese, sliced
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese

*I keep getting the lasagna noodles that you don't need to boil beforehand. They are way convenient; however, the top noodles always end up crunchy. I haven't figured out a way to make them soft. Let me know if you know of a way! Otherwise, if crunchy top noodles sound awful to you, you should probably use regular lasagna noodles.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour enough sauce to cover the bottom of an 11x13 baking dish. Line with one row of noodles. Top with a layer of sauce, spinach, eggs, and mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers two more times (three layers total). Finish with a layer of noodles, sauce, and Parmesan cheese. Bake for 30-35 minutes.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Suzie's Italian Chicken

Here's another one from Paul's Italian cookbook (the one with recipes from Home Ec teachers). I don't know who Suzie is, but it's a good recipe! :)

Suzie's Italian Chicken

1/2 c. bacon, chopped
1 1/2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts*
4 to 6 Roma tomatoes, seeded, chopped**
1/2 c. chicken broth (it also said you could use cooking sherry for this, but I don't have any on hand)
1 T. dry Italian seasoning
1/8 t. cayenne pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
2/3 lb. fettuccine (the recipe calls for a pound, but we found that the ratio of pasta to sauce was off)
1 T. butter
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese

*I used thighs...but I don't recommend it! I saw that they were cheaper at the store and didn't know why I never bought them. Now I know. There is a huge difference that is most definitely not worth the dollar or two in savings. They are fatty and greasy. Gross!

**I was a little scared that it asked you to seed the tomatoes because I had never done it, but it wasn't bad at all. I just cut the tomatoes in quarters the long way and scraped out the seeds before chopping them up. I didn't worry about getting every last seed, and it only took a minute or two.

Cook pasta according to directions given. Meanwhile, in large skillet, cook bacon until crisp. Remove to a paper towel lined plate. Discard all but about 1 tablespoon bacon grease. Add chicken and cook, stirring until done. Remove chicken. Add tomatoes, broth, seasonings, and garlic. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Return chicken to pan, stirring until heated through. Toss pasta with butter. Serve pasta topped with sauce, bacon, and Parmesan cheese.

Chili Chicken Tacos

It's a new day with more new recipes! I'm going to try and post a couple recipes each day until I'm caught up. :)

This one was another Chef Britta masterpiece. I've had a lot of success with her recipes.

Chili Chicken Tacos
2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs (I used breasts because that's what I had)
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 c. salsa, plus more for serving
1 to 2 T. canned chipotle chiles in adobo, chopped (a little goes a long way!)
1 T. chili powder
1 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
hard and or soft taco shells
other toppings, as desired (tomato, cheese, sour cream, lettuce, cilantro, etc.)

Combine chicken, sliced garlic cloves, chiles, salsa, chili powder, salt and pepper in slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for four hours (or on low for eight hours). Shred chicken with two forks (it falls apart easily). Serve with desired toppings.

This chicken is really quite spicy, but it's yummy! The chipotle chiles are what makes it spicy, so if you want it to be more mild, you can put fewer chiles in. I put a whole 2 tablespoons in, maybe even slightly more, because I didn't know how spicy they were. And it was pretty intense! ;)

Here's a link to the original recipe (she has some great pictures of the process, you should check them out!): Chili Chicken Tacos.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Pasta Toss

If we had a category that was easier than easy I'd almost want to put this one there. It's a very basic recipe that I got from the Hatrack Cookbook...which doesn't seem to be available online anymore. It was a collection of recipes someone put together from the people who post on the Hatrack Forums. Oh well. Anyway. You can really put whatever you want in it, as far as vegetables go. And it's quite good for you, since there's not much to it aside from pasta and vegetables.

Pasta Toss
1 T. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 zucchini, chopped
2 yellow squash, chopped
2 c. mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 t. oregano
1 lb. pasta of your choice (I used some whole grain fettuccine)
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to directions given. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add veggies and spices. Cook and stir for about 7 minutes (veggies should be slightly tender). Toss with pasta and Parmesan cheese.

I actually halved the recipe for me and Paul. And I didn't measure the Parmesan cheese. I just sprinkled it on our bowls. It was fast, simple, and yummy!

Italian Crescent Bake

I have a whole bunch of recipes to post that I never got around to! I was looking, and I couldn't believe how long it has been since I posted something that wasn't a menu. Crazy! We'll see if I can put a dent in the "stack" of recipes I have waiting to be posted! :)

This first one is from a cookbook of Paul's that I recently discovered. It's an Italian cookbook full of recipes from Home Economics teachers in California (one of those school fundraiser cookbooks, you know?). Well, I figured Home Ec teachers should know a thing or two about good recipes, and so far it hasn't let us down. We've tried three recipes, and they have all been delicious. Not exactly authentic Italian recipes, but delicious nonetheless.

Italian Crescent Bake
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 c. onion, chopped
1 c. fresh mushrooms, sliced
salt and pepper to taste
8 oz. tomato sauce (1 can)
1 c. cheddar cheese, grated
1 tube crescent rolls (8 rolls)
1/2 c. sour cream
1/4 t. oregano
1/4 t. basil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brown beef with onion and mushrooms, drain excess fat. Season with salt and pepper. Add tomato sauce. Pour into a 9x13 baking dish. Top with cheddar cheese. Separate crescent rolls. Mix sour cream with oregano and basil. Spread sour cream mixture (generously) on each roll, and then roll up each one starting at the wide end. Place rolls on top of the meat mixture. Bake for approximately 20 minutes*, until rolls are lightly browned.

*So, there's a typo in the cookbook and it only says to bake them for 2 minutes. I decided to follow the time listed on the crescent roll tube (which was something like 11-12 minutes) and check them. As you can see from the pictures, they looked lightly browned, so I took it out. The rolls ended up being quite doughy, so I can only surmise that they probably meant 20 minutes instead of 2. ;) They were so yummy that we're having them again tomorrow for dinner, and I'm planning on cooking them for 20 minutes this time. I'll edit this if I find out it takes longer.

Hungarian Goulash

This is a dish that my Mom makes for my Dad on his birthday every year. I was always excited for his birthday dinner because that seemed like the only time we would have this. It's a very flavorful dish, and though it may take a little time to prepare, it's easy!

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2 and 1/2 lbs. Round Steak, cubed
1 c. chopped onion
1/4 c. flour
1 and 1/2 Tbs. paprika
1 and 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. thyme
2 bay leaves
2 8oz. cans tomato sauce
1 c. sour cream

Brown meat in 1/4 cup oil. Reduce heat, add onion and garlic. Cook onions until tender, not brown. Stir in flour and seasonings. Add tomato sauce, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally until meat is tender (1 hr.). Stir often towards end. Remove bay leaves, stir in sour cream and heat (but don't boil). Serve over hot noodles.

*The recipe didn't say how much garlic to put in, so I just put in a few minced garlic cloves.
*It will be really thick before adding the sour cream. I thought I might have done something wrong, but nope!
*My Dad says it's important that you let it simmer for at least an hour so that the flavors can come out and so the meat can tenderize.

Ham Casserole

This is another one of my mom's casseroles that I absolutely love. Besides being delicious, it's also really cheap and easy to prepare.

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8 oz. cooked curly noodles
3 oz. cream cheese
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 can milk (we use the soup can to measure milk)
4-6 green onions, chopped
cubed ham
cheddar cheese (grated)

Cook noodles and drain then return to pot. Add cream cheese, soup, milk, ham and green onions to noodles and stir until combined. Place half noodle mixture in casserole dish, layer with cheese and then put other half noodle mixture on top of that. Top with cheese and bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or until bubbly.

* The amount of ham is a matter of personal preference. I usually just buy some pre-cubed ham at the store and I use about 3/4 of the package.

One Dish Chicken

Brian combined a recipe from his mom and someone on his mission to get his recipe. We actually call it Stuffing Chicken, but it is also commonly called one dish chicken. It is surprisingly very easy and quite yummy.

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1 box chicken flavored stuffing
2-4 chicken breasts (basically as much as you want)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup sour cream

Either prepare the stuffing according to the box, or you can do what Brian does. He just puts the mix in a bowl with a couple Tbs. of softened margarine and enough hot water to make the stuffing all moist (always more water than I think, probably about a cup). Then he lets it sit while he gets the other parts ready. I would say follow the box if you want to make sure it turns out right. Put the chicken breasts in a glass baking dish and top with soup and sour cream (I cut my chicken in smaller pieces so that it cooks faster). Put prepared stuffing on top of that and pop in the oven. Bake for 30-40 minutes at 375 degrees or until the chicken is cooked through.

*When cooking for the two of us, I use a 8x8 pyrex and it has a bit extra stuffing. If you are cooking for more than four people, I would use a 9x13 pan. You just put in as much chicken according to how many people you are serving and then use two cans of soup. One box of stuffing is plenty for a 9x13 pan as well.

*You may have noticed that ours has carrots in the picture above. Sometimes I like to add carrots around the chicken, but it takes longer to cook if you do it that way. I have decided I like to cook them separately, as they cook more efficiently that way. I'm sure other veggies would be yummy in it if you want to experiment :).