Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Skillet Lasagna

This is a quick and easy alternative to a traditional lasagna. It's also great when you don't want to turn on your oven and heat up your house! I didn't have any lasagna noodles, so I substituted some rotini and it worked just as well.

-The Best 30-Minute Recipe by the Editors of Cook's Illustrated.

1 pound meatloaf mix (OR use 1/2 pound EACH lean ground beef and pork)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
6 ounces curly-edged regular (do not use no-boil) lasagna noodles (8 noodles), broken into 2-inch pieces (or 2 cups rotini pasta)
1 (26-ounce) jar tomato sauce, such as marinara (about 3 cups) (Prego)
2 cups water
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Ground black pepper
3/4 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese (cottage cheese)
1/4 cup minced fresh basil

Cook meat in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat, breaking it into pieces with a wooden spoon until fat renders, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain meat and return it to skillet. Stir in garlic, red pepper flakes and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Sprinkle broken noodles into skillet, then pour in tomato sauce and water over top (you may need to add extra water if noodles are especially dry). Cover and cook, stirring often and adjusting heat as needed to maintain vigorous simmer, until noodles are tender, about 20 minutes.

Off heat, stir in half of mozzarella and half of Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper. Dot heaping tablespoons of ricotta over noodles, then sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan. Cover and let stand off heat until cheeses melt, 3 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle with basil before serving.

Makes 4 servings

SKILLET LASAGNA WITH SAUSAGE AND RED BELL PEPPER: Substitute 1 pound hot OR sweet Italian sausage, casings removed, for meatloaf mix. Add 1 red bell pepper, cored and chopped fine, to skillet with sausage.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Here's another great way to use your over-ripe bananas. The cinnamon adds an interesting touch to these moist and chocolaty muffins!

-Thomalee Abraham

2 extra ripe bananas
2 eggs
1 cup packed brown sugar
½ cup butter or margarine
1 tsp. vanilla
2 ¼ cup flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. salt
1 ½ cup chocolate chips (I used mini)

Mash bananas well with fork or potato masher. In a bowl, beat mashed bananas, eggs, sugar, butter, and vanilla until well blended. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in chocolate chips after adding flour mixture to banana mixture. Mix until all blended. Spoon into well greased muffin cups. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.

Baked Berry French Toast

This is a delicious make-ahead breakfast great for the weekend. It will easily feed 8 people.

-Mary Lou Roberts

1 loaf French bread cubed
1 cup frozen mixed berries

Grease bottom and sides of 9 x 13 pan or use Demarle Grande mold.
Layer 1/2 of bread cubes, and sprinkle with berries. Top with remaining bread.

In blender, blend:
8 extra large or 10 large eggs
1 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese
2 cups milk
1/3 cups maple syrup (no need to use real maple syrup here)
Touch of Cinnamon and Nutmeg

Pour liquid mixture over bread. Cover with greased foil and refrigerate over night.
Cook covered 30 min at 350. Remove foil and cook another 30 minutes.

Syrup (prepare while it's baking)
Mix 1 cup sugar and 2 TBSP corn starch in cold sauce pan. Put on stove, add 1 cup water and 2 cups berries. Mix until thickened.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sloppy Joes for 8 dozen

I wouldn't hurt to have this recipe in your back pocket if you ever need to make a meal for 96 people! I made these last night, estimating the ingredients for 4 servings, and they were delicious!

-Taste of Home, Wanieta Palmer

For a crowd:
15 lbs ground beef
6 medium onions, chopped
1 gallon ketchup
3/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup prepared yellow mustard
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 Tbsp. chili powder
96 hamburger buns, split

My approximations for a small family:
1 lb ground beef
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 cup ketchup
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. packed brown sugar
2 tsp. yellow mustard
1 tsp. white vinegar
1/8 to 1/4 tsp. chili powder

In two soup kettles over medium heat (this is for the large batch), cook and stir beef and onions until meat is no longer pink; drain.

Stir in ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, mustard, vinegar and chili powder. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered for 1 hour to allow flavors to blend. Spoon 1/3 cup onto each bun.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tomatillo Dressing

There are so many recipes for 'Cafe-Rio' tomatillo dressings floating around out there, but this is the combination we enjoy.

1/2 pkg. buttermillk ranch dressing mix (approx. 2 tsp)
2 tomatillos, husks removed roughly chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and deveined
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, minced

Blend until smooth. Refrigerate at least a couple of hours - best if overnight. Serve over a salad of romaine lettuce, sweet pork, black beans, corn, guacamole and smashed corn chips.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Lemon Supreme Pie

Brandon's favorite pie is the Lemon Supreme from Village Inn - a perfect combination of smooth cream cheese and tangy lemon. I was on the food committee for a church function last night and needed to bring a pie, so I was browsing the internet and was so excited to find this recipe. The ultimate compliment from Brandon: "This tastes just like the one from Village Inn- this one's a keeper!"

This really does need a deep-dish crust. If you're using regular pie pans, use two, and double the cream cheese filling and 1 1/2 times the lemon filling. Make sure your lemon filling is thick enough - I had to return mine to the heat after cooling to get the right consistency. I used whipped cream for my garnish and piped around the edge with a star tip with one large star in the middle. YUM!!

-Taste of Home

1 unbaked deep-dish pastry shell (9 inches)

1-1/4 cups sugar, divided
6 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/4 cups water
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
4-5 drops yellow food coloring, optional (I used 3)
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

1 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
1 3 oz package cream cheese, softened (If using whipped cream for garnish, omit this)
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1-1/2 cups whipped topping
2 tablespoon lemon juice (Reduce to 1 Tbsp. if omitting the 3 oz cream cheese)

Line unpricked pastry shell with a double thickness of heavy-duty foil. Bake at 450° for 8 minutes. Remove foil; bake 5 minutes longer. Cool on a wire rack.

For lemon filling, combine 3/4 cup sugar, cornstarch and salt. Stir in water until smooth. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat; add the remaining sugar. Cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened and bubbly. Remove from the heat; stir in butter, lemon peel and food coloring if desired. Gently stir in lemon juice. Cool to room temperature, about 1 hour.

For cream cheese filling, beat the cream cheese and sugar in a large bowl until smooth. Fold in whipped topping and lemon juice. Refrigerate 1/2 cup for garnish. Spread remaining cream cheese mixture into pastry shell; top with lemon filling. Refrigerate overnight.

Place reserved cream cheese mixture in a pastry bag with a #21 star tip; pipe stars onto pie. Store in the refrigerator. Yield: 6-8 servings.

Thursday, April 2, 2009


Growing up in Arizona has made Brandon and I appreciate great citrus. I picked up some extra-large lemons at the store the other day - reminiscent of the great AZ citrus - and had to make some fresh lemonade. This tart lemon-lime drink is perfectly refreshing on a warm day or with a spicy meal.

2 to 2 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup water
Zest of 1 lemon
1 1/2 cups fresh squeezed lemon juice (approximately 6 large lemons)
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice (approximately 6 large limes)
5 cups water

In a saucepan, combine sugar, 1 cup water and lemon zest. Heat and stir over low heat until sugar is dissolved.

Remove from heat and add lemon and lime juices. Strain to remove zest, and pour into a large pitcher. Add 5-6 cups water - depending on how tart you like it. Serve chilled.