Friday, June 16, 2017


Sauce Ingredients:
1 pound lean ground beef
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon whole basil
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cans (15 ounces) diced tomatoes
2 cans (6 ounces) tomato paste

1 box lasagna noodles (I use about 8 noodles, and save the remaining)

Cheese Layer Ingredients:
3 cups cottage cheese (I puree in food processor, but that's optional)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
2 Tablespoons parsley flakes
2 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

1 pound Mozzarella cheese, shredded or sliced very thin


Brown the ground beef in a large, deep skillet.  Stir in remaining sauce ingredients, and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.

Place a large pot of water on heat, and bring to a boil.  Cook the lasagna noodles as per package directions.  Once done, drain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking process.

Place all the Cheese Layer ingredients in a bowl, and stir to combine well.

Preheat oven to 375° F.
Grease a 9" x 13" pan.  I put a very small amount of thinned sauce in the bottom.  
Place 4 lasagna noodles in the pan, sides overlapping slightly if necessary.
Spread half of the cottage cheese mixture over the noodles evenly.
Top with half of the Mozzarella cheese.
Dot the meat sauce over all, and carefully spread to cover evenly.
Repeat layers ending with sauce.
Bake for 30 minutes, then let cool for 10 minutes before cutting into squares to serve.

My notes:  This is from a community cookbook I received as a wedding gift.  Back then ethnic food ingredients were not as readily available in local grocers as they are today.  Ricotta is probably a more authentic cheese choice, but cottage cheese is probably less expensive so I continue to use it.  My kids never liked the texture of cottage cheese, so I have always pureed it in the food processor so it wasn't easily identified.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Cornbread Salad...

2 6-ounce packages corn bread mix
8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 eggs, hard boiled and chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
¼ cup chopped green onions (bulbs and stems)
¼ cup chopped green pepper (optional)
1 cup mayonnaise, or to taste
salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste

Bake cornbread as directed and let cool.  When cool, crumble in bowl.  Add eggs, tomatoes, onion, green pepper, bacon, and mayonnaise to the cornbread (reserving very small amount of tomatoes, green onions, and crumbled bacon to garnish top if desired).  Stir to combine well.  Chill until ready to serve.  Serves 8

My note:  I don't make this often (probably because I think of it as a summer salad, and I usually only bake cornbread in the cooler months), but if I find myself with leftover cornbread in the spring or summer, it makes a great side.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Red Beans & Rice

1 pound smoked link sausage
8 to 10 cups cooked pinto beans plus their liquid
   (at least 3 cups liquid, or add water or broth to make up the difference)
1 can diced tomatoes
2 teaspoons Creole Seasoning
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

Slice sausage into rounds 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick.  Heat a deep pan and add sausage rounds to brown a little, stirring occasionally.  Add beans with their liquid, tomatoes, and spices.  Bring to a low boil, then reduce heat and simmer for awhile (one hour or four hours, it's up to you).  The longer you simmer, the softer the beans will get and thicken the liquid.  Serve over white rice.

My notes:  Carey does not like spicy foods.  So I make a large pot of beans with ham, onion, and garlic and serve it with cornbread.  I save the leftover beans to make a spicier meal of red beans & rice when he's not home. 

No-Peek Chicken...

2 cups white long grain rice
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 soup can of water
1 envelope of Lipton Onion Soup mix
1 to 2 pounds of chicken pieces

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Spray a 9" x 13" casserole with non-stick spray or grease lightly.  In a bowl, whisk the soups and water to combine without lumps, then add rice and stir to combine.  Pour into the prepared casserole.  Lay chicken pieces on top of the rice/soup.  Sprinkle the envelope of Lipton Onion Soup mix over all evenly.  Cover well with foil (or lid), and bake for about an hour and a half to two hours.  Remove cover and bake for 15 more minutes.  Serve with salad or a vegetable.

My notes:  I learned to make this early in my marriage.  Not haute cuisine, but the family likes it, and it is so easy on a busy day.  You can use any chicken pieces that you prefer, you can adjust cooking time up or down depending on the size of pieces used.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Chicken Fried Steak...

1.5 to 2 pounds cube steak (if very large, cut into serving size)
3 eggs
1 cup flour
salt, pepper, garlic powder in amount you prefer
1 cup of vegetable oil

  • Heat the vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Break the 3 eggs into a pie plate or similar sized dish.  Whisk with a fork until well beaten.
  • Place the cup of flour into another pie plate or similar sized dish.  Add the salt, pepper, and garlic powder and stir till mixed.
  • Dredge a steak in the seasoned flour and shake off extra flour
  • Dip the floured steak into the egg to coat well.
  • Dredge the egg-dipped steak back into the seasoned flour and cover well with the flour.  I press the flour into the steak to make sure it is sticking well.  
  • Place the steak into the hot oil.
  • Repeat with remaining steak pieces.  (When all steaks are breaded, reserve the left over flour for gravy.)
  • When the first side is cooked to a golden brown, turn to place the second side down in the oil.  Cook about 5 minutes per side.
  • When steak is uniformly golden brown and cooked through, remove to a plate lined with paper towels.
For white gravy:
4 Tablespoons butter
3 Tablespoons reserved seasoned flour
1 to 1 1/2 cups milk
1 Tablespoons of reserved oil from skillet
  • Melt 4 Tablespoons of butter in a saucepan.  
  • Add about 3 Tablespoons of the reserved seasoned flour to the melted butter whisking constantly to avoid lumps forming.  Cook for a minute or two.  
  • Add about 1/2 cup of milk while continuing to whisk.  When it begins to thicken, add another 1/2 cup of milk continuing to whisk.  
  • Add 1 to 2 Tablespoons of the hot oil left in skillet to the gravy and whisk in.  Heat for a few minutes whisking as needed to avoid lumps.  If gravy thickens too much, add more milk.  
  • Season with more salt and pepper as needed.
  • Serve over steak and with mashed potatoes if desired.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Taco Salad...

1 lb ground beef
1 onion, diced
salt, pepper, garlic, chili powder

lettuce mix (I like Italian blend)
1 can Ranch Style beans, drained, room temperature
1 can ripe olives, drained
1 to 2 tomatoes, diced (or a basket of cherry tomatoes)
2 avocados, cut in large-ish chunks
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Catalina dressing
Nacho flavored Doritos, crushed but not too small

Brown ground beef, with diced onion, salt, pepper, garlic, and chili powder (in amounts to your preference). Set aside to cool somewhat so it doesn't wilt the lettuce.

In salad bowl place:
lettuce mix
Ranch Style beans
ripe olives
shredded cheddar cheese
browned and cooled ground beef

Toss with a little Catalina salad dressing.

Serve with more Catalina dressing for individuals to add as preferred, and crushed Nacho Flavored Doritos to sprinkle on top of servings.

My notes:  I had Taco Salad at a party once with Catalina dressing, and have never wanted it any other way since. Sounds weird, I know, but it is surprisingly good.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Chicken Provolone...

I was conflicted when it came time to prepare dinner.  I wanted to cook from ingredients on hand, but I wanted something out of the normal rotation and filling and that would freeze well for Carey to take to work.  I really wanted Chicken Parmesan, but had no Parmesan.

I did have boneless/skinless chicken breasts in the freezer, spaghetti in the pantry, a half sleeve of crackers, a jar of spaghetti sauce, and sliced Provolone in the fridge.

4 or 5 boneless/skinless chicken breasts
1/2 sleeve cracker crumbs (Ritz or Club)
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Italian seasonings
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 jar spaghetti sauce
Provolone cheese (I used slices)
3 Tablespoons butter
16 ounces spaghetti 

Pour enough olive oil to cover the bottom of a skillet and heat to medium high.  Crush the crackers into a pie plate and add flour, salt, Italian seasoning, and garlic powder and stir to mix well.  Dredge the chicken breasts in the seasoned crumbs and place them into the hot oil and brown both sides.

Melt butter and pour it over the remaining seasoned cracker crumbs.  Mix well so that all the crumbs are buttery.

Spray a casserole dish (large enough to hold the chicken breasts in a single layer) with nonstick spray and pour about 1/4 cup of the spaghetti sauce in the bottom of the casserole and spread it out.  When the chicken breasts are nicely browned, place them in the casserole and top with slices of Provolone.  Pour about 1/2 the remaining spaghetti sauce over the chicken breasts/cheese so all were covered.  Then sprinkle the buttered crumbs over the top and bake uncovered at 350° F for 45 minutes to an hour.  

Cook the spaghetti as per package directions and drain when done.  Return spaghetti to pan it was cooked in and pour the remaining spaghetti sauce over it.  Place over very low heat to warm the sauce. 

Serve the chicken alongside the pasta.  Add a salad, vegetable, and/or garlic bread.  

My notes:  Carey really liked this.  I told him I just made the recipe up as I went along, and he asked if I would write it down so we could have it again.  :)