Saturday, March 31, 2012

Tater Tot Casserole

Sometimes, swapping ingredients for what you have on hand works like magic and sometimes things don't work out well.  For me, choices I make for swaps in this situations don't work well, so I don't know what I was thinking when I tried to make some changes to this recipe for a recent recipe swap.

First, I used shredded potatoes I had in the freezer.  Next, I made my own condensed cream of mushroom and condensed cream of chicken soups. The result was something pretty terrible.  I feel so bad that I bombed a recipe so much for a recipe swap, and I'm really sorry for screwing up Amy's recipe!  It's a definite make another time, THE RIGHT WAY, though, because it sounds like a great recipe, and I'm not really sure why these changes didn't work out

Here's the original recipe, shared by Amy:
Tator Tot Casserole Source:  Amy

1 pound ground beef or ground turkey
1 onion, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
tater tots
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
shredded Cheddar cheese

1. Brown ground meat with onion and some salt and pepper
2. Line a 9 x 13 casserole dish with frozen tator tots
3. Mix soup in with the meat and pour over the tator tots.
4. Sprinkle top with shredded cheese.
5. Put in 350' oven for about 45 minutes

Gnocchi Mac and Cheese

I was assigned this through a small recipe swap with some friends.  I actually neither made nor ate it because I was down for the count with a stomach virus, but my husband and kids said it was delicious.  The boys actually ate it, which hasn't been happening pretty much at all lately, and my husband raved too--the same husband who dislikes macaroni and cheese in almost all its forms.

Since I was on the couch, no photo, but I will surely be making this one again!  Many thanks to Laura, who shared this recipe for the swap.  Check out her blog and the recipe here.

Gnocchi Mac n’ Cheese Source:  Cuisine at Home via Laurie's Kitchen
1 pound purchased or homemade gnocchi
2 Tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon garlic powder (original calls for 2tsp fresh garlic)
3 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
3/4 cup milk
3 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup+ shredded Gruyere cheese
1/4 cup+ shredded fontina cheese
Salt and white pepper to taste
1/3 cup+ shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano
Basil leaves for garnish, optional

Preheat oven to 375.
Prepare gnocchi according to package directions. Drain and place gnocchi in a single-layer in a 1-1/2 quart shallow baking dish that has been sprayed with nonstick spray.
Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in garlic powder and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Whisk in flour until it thickens and bubbles, then whisk in milk and Dijon. Continue to whisk mixture and cook until slightly thickened, about 3-5 minutes.
Combine Gruyere and fontina, then add by the handful to milk mixture, stirring until melted before adding the next handful. Once all cheese is melted, season sauce with salt and pepper.
Pour sauce over gnocchi and sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano over top. Bake gnocchi until they puff and the cheese is golden and bubbly, about 25 minutes. Let gnocchi rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Meal Plan Monday

Another week, another plan!

Last week's menu didn't make it up last time, though it was planned.  I didn't make a few of these meals:

Monday:  Sicilian Cauliflower Pasta
Tuesday:  Easy Mexi Chicken
Wednesday:  Swiss Mushroom Turkey Burger
Thursday:  Chicken Marsala Wraps
Friday:  Ginger Soy Glazed Tilapia
Saturday:  Shrimp tacos with Mango Slaw
Sunday:  Chicken Chimichanga

This week, I'll try to make up what didn't get made, address my recipe swap responsibilities (I hosted and made an error so feel obligated to make two...)

Monday:  Tater Tot Casserole (Trying homemade Condensed Cream of Mushroom and Condensed Cream of Chicken)
Tuesday:  Gnocchi Mac and Cheese
Wednesday: White Cheese Chicken Lasagna
Thursday:  Chicken and Rice with Broccoli and Cheddar
Friday:  Ginger Soy Glazed Tilapia (I really am going to make this by the end of Lent!)
Saturday:  Chicken Caprese Sandwiches
Sunday:  Whatever hasn't gotten eaten!

Have a great week!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Recipe Swap! Easy Mexi Chicken

This go around for the recipe swap was inspired by the Secret Recipe Club, in which participants are assigned another participant's blog and make and blog any recipe there.

I was assigned the intriguing Feed Me Seymour! and selected Easy Mexi-Chicken.  Easy, it said, and I was intrigued.  I was also interested in the easy homemade salsa and the cheese sauce.

In my case, the salsa didn't come out as I'd hoped because my having sat on the counter for a mere three days tomato was moldy.  Luckily, I purchased two, and though two would have been the right amount, I decreased the onion and pepper.

The cheese sauce, however, was a HUGE hit.  My son kept saying how much he liked dinner--Momma got smart and put the meal on the boys' plates deconstructed, so they could dip dip dip everything into the cheese.  They both loved it, though the four year old passed one comment that the chicken was a little spicy.

I thought this was great, but struggled with a side dish to put alongside it.  I thought about rice, but ran out of time.  I think the suggested corn and bean salad would have been great, but it's not something my husband would eat.  So, I put carrots on the side and called it a day---this appears to have been delicious dipped in the cheese sauce!  It had a ton of flavor, between the spice rub and the salsa.

Thank you to Sarah for giving me a great blog to explore and to Kim for running said great blog!  Check out A Taste of Home Cooking for the Recipe Swap Roundup!

Easy Mexi Chicken Source:  Feed Me Seymour
2 chicken breast, trimmed of fat and cut into halves
Cayenne pepper, chili powder, salt 
1 red onion, diced
1-2 tomatoes, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
splash of lime juice
Fresh cilantro
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1-1 1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Pound chicken breasts flat between plastic wrap.  
2.  Sprinkle each chicken breast with cayenne, chili powder, and salt.  Rub to spread around whole side.  Flip and repeat on the other side.
3.  Cover a baking sheet with Silpat or foil, place chicken on top, and bake for 25-30 minutes or until done.
4.  Meanwhile, make your salsa by mixing onion, tomatoes, pepper, and lime juice in a medium bowl.  Sprinkle some chili powder and add some chopped cilantro.  Set aside.
5.  Next, prepare your cheese sauce by melting butter in a small saucepan.  When melted, add heavy cream and stir to blend.  By handfuls, add cheese and stir until blended and smooth.  
6.  Put it all together by layering chicken, cheese sauce, and salsa.
7.  Enjoy!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Quick Chicken Vesuvio

My husband decided he'd had enough and that he wanted to cook for a week so he could not do the dishes.  Thus, he gets the credit for this meal (though I will gladly take credit for adding it to the meal plan).  Further, because of an evening commitment, he didn't even get to eat this.

And boy did he miss out.

This was so good.  

The boys, of course, wanted mac and cheese or ravioli.   Because they're stinkers.  But I enjoyed it, and since this is MY blog....

But seriously, the potatoes were perfectly cooked--crispy and browned on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside.  The sauce was totally comforting and yum.  It's a bit heavy, so I don't know if I'd go ahead and serve this in the middle of August, but it's a great cool weather meal to put some meat on your bones.  My only criticism would be that the chicken needs to be cut smaller.  Otherwise, a great meal from Everyday with Rachael Ray!  So glad I picked that subscription back up!

Quick Chicken Vesuvio Source:  Everyday with Rachael Ray April 2012
  •          1/3 - 1/2 cup EVOO
  • 2 baking potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, lightly crushed
  • 2 pounds Salt and pepper
  • 2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into large chunks
  • 1/2 cup Flour, for coating
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Crusty bread, for serving


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees . In a large skillet, heat about 1/4 cup EVOO, 4 turns of the pan, over medium-high heat. Add the potatoes and garlic; season with the oregano and lots of salt and pepper. Cook, turning occasionally, until browned, about 15 minutes.
  2. meanwhile, in a large, ovenproof skillet, heat a couple tbsp. EVOO, 2 turns of the pan, over medium-high heat. Season the chicken liberally with salt and pepper and coat in flour. Brown the chicken on each side until golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the wine and stock. Stir in the peas.
  3. Transfer the potatoes and garlic to the chicken skillet and place in the oven. roast to cook the chicken through, 10 to 12 minutes. Top with the parsley and serve with bread for mopping.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Shrimp Taco with Mango Slaw

When I saw this in Food Network Magazine, I was intrigued.  My family likes tacos, shrimp, and fruit, so I thought this would be a good choice.  It was a fairly fast recipe, which is a major win for crazy weeknights, had great texture (the softness of the shrimp and mango combined with the crunch of the onion and slaw), and was pretty tasty too!

Next time, I will dice the mango rather than thin strips so it's more manageable in the taco and so the flavor is more evenly distributed.

Shrimp Taco with Mango Slaw from Food Network Magazine


  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons Sriracha or other Asian chile sauce, plus more for serving
  • 2 limes (1 juiced, 1 cut into wedges)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/4 cup fresh cilantro
  • 3/4 pound medium shrimp, peeled, deveined and halved crosswise
  • 1 14-ounce package coleslaw mix
  • 1 mango, peeled and sliced into thin strips
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 12 hard taco shells


Make the dressing: Pulse the mayonnaise, Sriracha, lime juice, sugar, 1/4 cup cilantro and 1 tablespoon water in a mini food processor until smooth. (Or finely chop the cilantro and mix with the rest of the ingredients in a bowl.) Place the shrimp in a bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons of the dressing; set aside.

Roughly chop the remaining 1/2 cup cilantro. Toss with the coleslaw mix, mango, red onion and the remaining dressing. Season with salt.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and cook, stirring occasionally, until opaque, about 3 minutes. Transfer the shrimp to a plate.

Warm the taco shells as the label directs. Fill the shells with the shrimp and some slaw. Serve with the lime wedges and more Sriracha. Refrigerate any extra slaw for up to 3 days. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Chicken and Broccoli Noodle Casserole

Surely you've heard that my 4 year old is in love with macaroni and cheese.  So when I found this recipe on Skinnytaste, and noted it had a macaroni and cheese base with some veggies and some more grown up flavors, I knew it would be a great dish to serve my family.  I also followed her directions to cook up some chicken breast in the crock pot--cover with water (or chicken broth) and cook on high for about 4 hours.  I went with water, but maybe should have chosen broth and some spices to bring some additional flavor to the chicken.  We thought the chicken was kinda bland and this made the whole dish pretty bland.

Of course, neither of my kids would touch it.  No, not because it wasn't delicious, but because they're going through this THING, this "I won't even touch the first dinner you give me, no matter what it is."

I'll definitely give this a try again, but with some changes.  More flavor to the chicken, maybe some extra garlic and a little bit of crushed red pepper to amp up the flavor.

Chicken and Broccoli Noodle Casserole Source:  Skinnytaste

  • 6 oz no yolk "egg" noodles (I used whole wheat)
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
  • 12 oz fresh broccoli florets, chopped
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 3 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1-3/4 cups fat free chicken broth
  • 1 cup 1% milk
  • 12 oz cooked shredded chicken breast
  • 4 oz shredded reduced fat sharp cheddar 
  • cooking spray
  • 3 tbsp shredded parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp seasoned breadcrumbs


Cook noodles according to directions in a pot of salted water, undercooking by two minutes.  Set aside.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute garlic about 1 minute, until fragrant. until golden, about 1 minute. Add the broccoli and a little salt, sauté and cover the broccoli for about 3 minutes on medium heat until the broccoli begins to soften. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375°. Lightly spray a 9 x 12 casserole dish with cooking spray.

Make the roulx in a large pot.  Over medium-low heat, melt butter; when melted add the shallot and cook until soft, 2-3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low , and add the flour and stir well, cooking an additional 2-3 minutet.

Slowly whisk in the chicken broth until well combined over medium heat; whisk well for 30 seconds, then add the milk and bring to a boil. Simmer on medium heat, mixing occasionally until it thickens (about 6-7 minutes). Remove from heat and add reduced fat sharp cheddar and 1 tablespoon of the parmesan cheese; mix well until the cheese melts.

Add the shredded chicken, noodles and broccoli to the sauce and mix well until evenly coated.

Pour into a casserole dish and top with parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs. Spray a little more cooking spray on top and bake for about 20 - 25 minutes. Place the casserole under the broiler a few minutes to get the crumbs crisp and golden (careful not to burn).

Meal Plan Monday

It's almost spring!  Hooray!  We're expected to have temps in the 70s this week, which makes me so happy.  I felt the need, however, to get in a few heavier meals this week before spring really comes.

Monday:  Quick Chicken Vesuvio, from April Everyday with Rachael Ray
Tuesday:  Bacony Egg Noodles, also from April's Everyday with Rachael Ray
Wednesday:  White Cheese Chicken Lasagna
Thursday:  Basil Shrimp with Feta and Orzo 
Friday:  Ginger Soy Glazed Tilapia (embarrassed I still haven't gotten around to this one!)
Saturday:  Mustgo night
Sunday:  Whatever I forgot to make!

Have a great week!  Hope you get to enjoy some outdoor time and some sunshine!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Mexican Stuffed Shells

When I saw that a message board to which I belong was doing a recipe swap with the theme of pasta, I figured it was time to give it a try again.  I couldn't possibly have been more thrilled than I was when I received Mexican Stuffed Shells from Jaida at Sweet Beginnings; it looked like it would be perfect for my family and definitely something I'd never have considered making on my own... but should have!

When I went to the store, I looked at the taco sauce ingredients and thought, "Self, you can totally make this at home."  So I went to the internet and came across this taco sauce, which was way cheaper than what I'd have bought at the store.  I also used  taco seasoning I made; no packet!

My husband commented that it tasted much better when he ate it with the sour cream, that he liked the creaminess.  This could have been because of my having used turkey which made it drier than if I'd used beef?

Thank you so much to Sarah for hosting; check out her blog for the Roundup!

Mexican Stuffed Shells Source:  Sweet Beginnings

  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 2T taco seasoning 
  • 4 oz. Neufchatel cream cheese
  • 14-16 jumbo pasta shells
  • 1.5 cup salsa
  • 1 cup taco sauce (I accidentally used the whole thing)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican cheese
  • 3 green onions
  • Sour cream
  • Black olives
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. In a frying pan cook ground turkey; add taco seasoning and 1 cup of water and simmer until liquid is almost gone.  Add cream cheese, cover and simmer until cheese is melted. Blend well. Set aside and cool completely. 
  3. While ground turkeyis cooking, cook the pasta shells according to directions; drain. Set shells out individually on cutting board/baking sheet so that they don’t stick together.
  4. Pour salsa on bottom of 9×13 baking dish.  Stuff each shell with the meat mixture. Place shells in 9×13 pan open side up. Cover shells with taco sauce.  Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
  5. After 30 minutes, add shredded cheese and bake for 10-15 more minutes, with the foil removed.  Top with any condiments you’d like (green onions, black olives, etc.) Serve with sour cream and/or more salsa.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Meal Plan Monday

 We have state testing at work this week.  It should be an easy and a busy week, as a result.

Monday:  Pierogie and Kielbasa Bake (made this before, but never with kielbasa... so smart!)
Tuesday:  Chicken Bruschetta
Wednesday:  Greek Quesadillas with Roasted Cauliflower and Lishie's Tzatiki
Thursday:  Chicken and Broccoli Noodle Casserole
Friday:  Pizza, if I remember to make the dough!
Saturday:  Maybe a mustgo night
Sunday... I'll worry about Sunday next week!

Other things I'm cooking this week:
Cottage Cheese Muffins
Lunch Club is getting Cuban Black Beans, which I might also make into a pureed taco recipe they (Everyday Food) made with the leftovers.
Have a great week, everyone!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Cajun Mac and Cheese

My husband chose this out of the March issue of Food Network Magazine, and upon his first taste, he exclaimed.  Like, yelled out, exclaimed because he liked it so much.  I agreed, this was quite delicious.  The andouille adds a little bit of spice and flavor, without being overwhelmingly spicy.  It was so creamy too, which sort of surprised me.  I used Essence of Emeril, which I had made up for another recipe a few weeks ago.

The bigger boy barely touched his while the littler boy kept coming back for the pasta, but didn't eat any of the rest of it.

Two thumbs up here!!

Cajun Mac and Cheese Source:  Food Network Magazine

  • Kosher salt
  • 12 ounces wagon-wheel pasta
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 ounces andouille sausage, diced
  • 2 bunches scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 bell pepper (red or green), chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Cajun spice blend
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, cut into small cubes


Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 1 minute less than the label directs. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta.
Meanwhile, combine the olive oil and sausage in a large skillet over high heat and cook, stirring, until the sausage starts to brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in the scallions and bell pepper and cook until the vegetables are slightly soft, about 3 more minutes. Add the Cajun spice and flour and cook, stirring, 2 more minutes. Gradually whisk in the milk and continue whisking until the sauce is thick and smooth, about 5 more minutes.
Add the pasta, cheese and reserved cooking water to the skillet. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook, tossing to coat the pasta in the sauce and melt the cheese, about 1 minute.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Shrimp, Cherry Pepper, and Arugula Linguine

This caught my eye in this month's Woman's Day Magazine, perhaps as a Friday Lenten meal.  It wasn't made on a Friday, but you get the idea.  I had a bit of a hard time finding Peppadew peppers, so it was pushed off by a week.

I don't know if M or I have ever had arugula before, but he definitely didn't like it at all, and I wasn't over the moon about it.  I liked the Peppadew peppers, but he thought they were way too spicy for his liking (they were on the spicy side for me as well, but I kinda liked it.  That said, I can't believe the label suggests popping them as a snack.  Holy fire mouth!)

Shrimp, Cherry Pepper, and Arugula Linguine Source:  Woman's Day Magazine

12 ounce(s) linguine
  • 2 tablespoon(s) olive oil
  • 2 clove(s) garlic, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup(s) dry white wine
  • 1 pound(s) peeled and deveined large shrimp
  •  Kosher salt and pepper
  • 1/3 cup(s) small sweet red cherry peppers (such as Peppadew), quartered
  • 4 cup(s) baby arugula
  1. Cook the linguine according to package directions. Reserve ¼ cup of the cooking liquid; drain the pasta and return it to the pot.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until light golden brown, about 1 minute. Add the wine and bring to a simmer.
  3. Season the shrimp with ¼ tsp each salt and pepper, add to the skillet along with the cherry peppers, and cook, turning the shrimp once, until they are opaque throughout, about 2 minutes per side.
  4. Toss the pasta with the shrimp mixture and arugula (add the reserved cooking liquid, 1 Tbsp at a time, if the pasta seems dry).

Read more: Shrimp, Cherry Pepper & Arugula Linguine – Pasta Recipes - Woman's Day 
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