Friday, May 19, 2017

Baked Spaghetti and Meatballs

I love this recipe. It's a wonderful twist on an old Italian classic but who would have thought that layering it with cheese and sauce would have changed the whole dish?   It's delicious and gets better each day.

Baked Spaghetti and Meatballs

1 box (16 ounces) spaghetti
2 tablespoons of olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon butter
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
1 small box of baby Bella mushrooms, sliced
1 jar (32 ounces) Ragu Chunky Tomato Garlic Onion Sauce
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon oregano
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 cups Colby Jack Cheese, divided
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
12 meatballs, see recipe below

Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Drain well in a colander and set aside.

Add a tablespoon of olive oil and butter to a large skillet and saut√© the onion and garlic over medium heat until transparent. Add in mushrooms and saute for another three minutes.  Stir in spaghetti sauce and salt, pepper, and oregano and turn the heat to low and simmer.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, Parmesan cheese and remaining olive oil. Add spaghetti noodles to the egg mixture and toss to coat.

Place half of the spaghetti mixture in a greased 9 x 13 baking dish. Top with a cup of the mozzarella cheese and a cup of the Colby Jack cheese. Pour sauce all over the top.

Next add another layer of noodles, then another cup of Colby Jack and another cup of mozzarella cheese and the sauce.   Nestle the meatballs in the layer of noodles and sprinkle the remaining cheeses all over the top.

Cover and bake at 350° for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake for 10 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.

Italian Meatballs

1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
1 cup bread crumbs, fresh or dried
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
1/4 cup evaporated milk
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped finely
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, lightly mix all ingredients by hand, but do not pack down meat mixture. Take a portion of meat in hand, and roll between palms to form a ball that is firmly packed but not compressed. Repeat, making each meatball about 2 inches in diameter. Arrange meatballs onto prepared baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven until browned and cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes. Makes about 14 meatballs.

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Saturday, May 13, 2017

Strawberry Cheesecake Cookies

Okay, I’m about to make a prediction. I predict that if you make these cookies and eat just one, you will decide that this is your favorite cookie ever.  You will make them time and time again because you can’t get enough of them.  They are so good in fact that you will find yourself making them for other people and keeping them for yourself!   They are that good. 

Strawberry Cheesecake Cookies

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
2 sticks (1 cup) butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup fresh ripe strawberries, chopped
3/4 cup white chocolate chips 

Mix together the cream cheese, butter, sugar, and vanilla until smooth and creamy. Gradually add in the flour a little at a time until just mixed together.  

Pat the chopped strawberries with a paper towel to remove any excess water.  Gently fold the strawberries and white chocolate chips into the batter.  Place in refrigerator to chill for about 30 minutes.  

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment.  

Scoop cookie dough in ½ tablespoon sized balls and place 2 inches apart on lined cookie sheet. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes , until tops are set and outer edges are slightly golden.

Let cookies cool on baking sheet for a few minutes, then transfer to cooling rack to cool completely.  While cookies are cooling, make your filling.

Cream Cheese Filling

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened at room temperature
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, room temperature
6 oz. white chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar

Cream together the sugar, softened cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and the white chocolate over medium speed and mix until light and fluffy. 

To assemble cookies

Spread frosting on the bottom side of a cookie and top with the top side of another cookie that matches the same shape and size. Store cookies in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

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Sugar Cream Pie

I can't really tell you when this pie originated. Some say it dates back to the 1800's and it was a favorite from the Amish and the Shakers.  I just know that the recipe was in my Mom's collection of old recipes and I can remember she made it a lot.  If you like custard as much as I do, this pie is for you. The custard is rich and thick and creamy and has a distinct vanilla flavor. Then it's topped with a coating of cinnamon sugar kind of like a Creame Brulee. have to try this one!  I make it simple by starting off with a store bought pie crust but you can make your own if you'd prefer.

Sugar Cream Pie

  4 tablespoons cornstarch
  ¾ cup granulated sugar
  4 tablespoons butter, melted
  2¼ cups heavy cream
  1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1  9-inch pre-baked Pie Crust or homemade
  2 tablespoons of melted butter
  Cinnamon Sugar

    Mix 1/4 cup granulated white sugar with 1 tablespoon cinnamon.  
    Set aside. 
   Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Pre-bake your pie crust until golden  
   brown and then cool while preparing filling.

Mix the cornstarch and sugar together in a small to medium bowl. Whisk together the heavy cream and melted butter and pour it into a heavy bottom saucepan.  Add the sugar and whisk or stir constantly while cooking over medium heat.  Make sure you stir constantly or it will burn. 

Allow to cook until the custard begins to thicken and come to a boil.  Allow it to come to a low boil for about a minute and then remove from heat. Stir in pure vanilla until smooth. Whisk in vanilla and pour filling into pre-baked pie crust.

Once you have filled your pie shell, drizzle the other 2 tablespoons of melted butter over top of pie and sprinkle on the cinnamon sugar. 

Place the pie under the broiler until butter bubbles and surface starts to brown. This won’t take long so stay and watch it until it browns.

Cool and refrigerate pie for at least 4 hours or until center is set.  Serve and enjoy!

Want a bite?

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Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Cucumber Caprese Salad

If you love growing your own vegetable garden, this is a wonderful little salad you can make with a few cherry tomatoes and a couple of cucumbers!  But even if you don't garden you'll love it. It is so unbelievably simple, and so delicious and healthy and just perfect for a summer picnic or cookout. You can serve it as a main dish or side. Or, you could even spread it on toast or Brushetta or a Crostini for a wonderful appetizer! 

Cucumber Caprese Salad

2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes
2 English cucumbers, cut into chunks
8 oz. fresh mozzarella, cut into chunks or sliced and quartered
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar 
1 garlic clove, minced 
Pinch of salt, 
pepper and more sugar, to taste

Wash, dry, and cut up the cucumbers and rinse the tomatoes. Place both in a large bowl. Add the basil and mozzarella. Next, whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper and sugar. Pour over the tomato-mozzarella mixture and toss. Serve immediately.

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Crispy Chicken Salad with Asian Dressing

Lunch today was a crispy chicken salad with a dressing that you will never forget. Unbelievable Asian salad dressing that makes this the best salad ever! And you can add so much more to this salad to make it even better. See my suggested list of other ingredients you can add.

Crispy Chicken Salad With Asian Dressing

2 pieces Tyson’s Crispy Chicken Strips
4 cups lettuce (your choice)
1 tomato chopped
1/2 cup Monterrey Jack cheese (or your favorite)
1 sliced cucumber (optional)

Asian Dressing

3 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/4 cup mayonnaise (I use Hellman's)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon sesame oil

In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, vinegar, mayo, mustard, and sesame oil until smooth and creamy. Refrigerate while you prepare the salad.

Bake the chicken strips according to the package directions (about 20 minutes.) Remove and allow to cool. Cut up into bite sized pieces.

Toss your lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber and cheese in a big bowl. Add your chicken and drizzle dressing on top.

If you really want a great salad with incredible flavors, omit the tomatoes and cucumbers and instead add my favorite ingredients before tossing:

Dried cranberries
pecan pieces or almond slices
mandarin oranges
crumbled bleu cheese
celery, chopped

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My Creamy Pasta Salad

Summer's coming and that means lots of cold salads to take to your cookouts and 
picnics.  And what's a picnic or barbecue without a favorite pasta salad?  This 
happens to be one of my favorite and it always gets great reviews....or should I say, 
I always take home an empty bowl after every gathering! 

Creamy Pasta Salad
3 cups multi-color rotini pasta, cooked and drained 
1/2 cup 
kalamata olives
1 cup mayonnaise 
1 (1 ounce) packet of Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing 
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder 
1/2 cup milk (more if needed)

1/4 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup sweet red pepper, chopped fine 
1/2 grated Parmesan cheese 
salt and pepper to taste 

Prepare pasta according to directions. It is important not to overcook your pasta. 
Rinse under cold water and drain very well.  Set aside to cool while you prepare 
the dressing.

In a large bowl, mix mayonnaise, ranch dressing mix and garlic powder. Stir in milk 
until smooth. Add the sweet red pepper and the carrot and mix well.  Slice olives into 
halves and add to salad dressing. 

Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese if desired.

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