Crock Pot Lasagna

Using my Crock Pot is one of my favorite ways to cook a weeknight meal. Pile all the ingredients into the pan, put the lid on, set the timer and when you get home it smells like dinner!  Here is an easy recipe from Eating on a Dime for Lazy Day Crock Pot Lasagna.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag of frozen cheese ravioli (25 oz)
  • 1 lb of ground beef, browned
  • 3 cans of crushed tomatoes (14 or 15 oz each)
  • 1 tablespoon of Italian Seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon of Garlic Salt
  • 4 cups of mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese (optional)
  1. In a large skillet brown the beef completely and drain off any remaining fat.
  2. Stir in all the cans of tomatoes, and seasonings.
  3. In a 6 quart crock pot, cover the bottom with some of the sauce.
  4. Then place a layer of ravioli across the bottom.
  5. Then place a layer of the mozzarella cheese.
  6. Continue this until all the meat sauce and the ravioli is used.
  7. You want to end with the meat sauce on top.
  8. Then top with the leftover mozzarella cheese and add the parmesan cheese on top (completely optional).
  9. Cook on low for 4 hours.
  10. Turn off and let it sit for about 15 minutes before you serve. Cut and serve.

Here it is in the Crock Pot after it was done.

I served it with a salad and probably would have also included garlic bread if I had remember to bake it.

Buzz over to my Pinterest board for more Crock Pot recipes.  Have a great week!

Vegetable Au Gratin

I found a delicious recipe from Buns in My Oven on Pinterest recently for a Summer Squash Gratin.  By definition “au gratin” is a dish sprinkled with bread crumbs or cheese, or both and then browned.  Mother used to make au gratin potatoes and scalloped potatoes.  I think these are a combination of those two comfort dishes.

I pinned the recipe here to my Pinterest vegetable board.  I added my own twist by including sweet potatoes and slightly more heavy cream for the added vegetable.

One of my favorite kitchen items, are these white, porcelain baking dishes from Sur la Table (they are on sale right now).  I have six different sizes from half to six quart and they nest together perfectly in the cabinet. White dishware is the perfect way to showcase your creations because the food is the star!

Ingredients:

1 medium zucchini
1 medium yellow squash
1 medium potato
1 medium sweet potato (I added this)
1/2 cup heavy cream (I increased it to one cup since I added the sweet potato)
4 ounces extra sharp white cheddar, grated (I used an entire package of Cracker Barrel)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Directions:
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Slice the zucchini and yellow squash to between 1/4 and 1/8 inch thick. Slice the potato into paper thin slices (I used a mandolin – be very careful).
Place all the sliced vegetables into a bowl and toss to mix them up (I didn’t do this, I just layered them one variety at a time)
Place a single layer of mixed vegetables in the bottom of a buttered 2 quart baking dish.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sprinkle on 1/3 of the cheese.
Repeat the layers twice more and pour the heavy cream over the top.
Cover the dish in foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 15 minutes.
I served it with grilled salmon and it was perfect.  And Miss Bee enjoyed it, too!

Summer Salad: Avocado Lump Crab Salad

It feels like it’s 120 degrees in Texas during the months of July and August.  A cold salad for dinner is a great option to keep you and your house cool.  But sometimes I get tired of the usual “lettuce and tomato” cast of characters.  Sunday after a day by the pool we enjoyed this refreshing seafood salad.  It was perfectly filling.

I have had Gina Homolka’s SkinnyTaste recipe for Avocado and Lump Crab salad pinned on my Pinterest salad board for a while.  It is very easy to make and keeps in the refrigerator for next-day leftovers.

AVOCADO AND LUMP CRAB SALAD

  • 1 medium Hass avocado (about 5 oz avocado)
  • 4 oz lump crab meat
  • 2 tbsp chopped red onion
  • 1 1/2 tbsp fresh lime juice (from 1 lime)
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 grape tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt and fresh black pepper
  • 2 leaves butter lettuce (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a medium bowl, combine onion, lime juice, cilantro, tomato, olive oil, 1/8 tsp salt and fresh pepper, to taste.
  2. Add crab meat and gently toss.
  3. Cut the avocado open, remove pit and peel the skin or spoon the avocado out.
  4. Season with remaining 1/8 tsp salt and fill the avocado halves equally with crab salad.
  5. This makes 2 servings, place on two plates with lettuce if you wish and serve.

I chose to serve it along side some steamed shrimp, but you could nestle it on top of lettuce like she suggests.   Gina always lists the Smart Points and calories in her recipes, along with other nutritional information.  This serving is 5 SP, 178 calories and 9 carbs.

I have both of Gina’s cookbooks — the SkinnyTaste Cookbook and the Fast and Slow book.  Both have easy, doable recipes that are light on calories, but big on flavor.

How to Host A Fish Fry

We hosted our neighbors for a July 4th fish fry.  One of the smartest aspects of our outdoor kitchen is the gas burner we installed.  It’s perfect for cooking a big pot of beans, a shrimp boil or a fish fry.  And, the best part is that the odors of fish stay outdoors and don’t heat or smell up the house.

Mother taught me years ago how to fry catfish.  She’d mix up yellow cornmeal with garlic powder, salt and pepper.  I also like to use Louisiana New Orleans Style breading mix.  It’s usually right by the butcher case and I pick up a bag every time I purchase fish.  It has all the same ingredients and it’s pre-measured.

I buy large catfish pieces and cut them into thirds when I get home.  It’s easier to fry small pieces and the fish cooks more evenly.  I rinse the fish and place it in a bowl with water and ice so it gets good and cold. This makes the batter adhere and helps coax the coating to get real crispy.  Set up a “dredging” station with your fish, a long dish of the breading mix and a plate to put your cooked fish on.  And, of course a cocktail.

I prefer to fry in a cast iron skillet.  Pour in canola oil and turn your burner on medium.  Wait until you can drop in a sprinkle of water and if it sizzles, your oil is ready.

Using a fork or your fingers, take a fish piece from the bowl of iced water and dredge into the cornmeal.  Keep turning the fish over and over until it’s good and coated.   Get three pieces ready then transfer them with tongs into your skillet.  Cook 3-4 minutes on each side until golden brown.  Since I was cooking for a crowd, I turned the inside oven to 200 degrees and placed cooling racks onto cookie sheets.  After each batch of fish was ready, I placed them onto the cookie sheet and kept them warm in the oven until we were ready to eat.

After the fish was done I moved onto fried shrimp.  I like to start over with fresh oil because by the time you finish cooking all the catfish, the bottom of the pan has alot of cornmeal.  I always turn the fire off and with oven mits pour the hot grease into a large empty can. It will pop and sizzle so practice extreme caution.  Just make sure no one is around and you are careful and slow with this step.  Put your skillet back onto the burner, pour fresh oil in and turn the burner back on.

This recipe for fried shrimp is from Helen Corbitt via my friend Allison Fogle.  Allison’s mother used the same recipe and she shared it with me.  I will never fry shrimp any other way.  Period.

Mom’s Fried Shrimp

2 eggs

1 cup whole milk

1 pound large shrimp (uncooked)

1 cup flour

1 1/2 tsp. garlic salt

36 saltines, smashed with the fingers

Beat the eggs and the milk.  Clean the shrimp and split down the back to butterfly.  Dip in the seasoned flour, then the egg and the milk, then in the smashed saltines.  Fry in deep fat (I use Canola) until golden brown.  It just takes a few minutes.  Serves 4.  I doubled the recipe for 10 people.

The saltine crackers create a crunching coating that is so delicious.  This could easily be a weeknight dinner it’s so easy to prepare.

I found cute “fish fry” newsprint waxed paper liners and red and white checked cardboard trays on Amazon to serve the fish on.

Everyone brought a side salad and we added hush puppies we cooked in the outdoor pizza oven.  Everything was set up buffet style and we sat on the patio at tables set with cloth linens, candles and seashells.  The warm, evening breeze was perfect as we sat around the table eating and laughing. It felt like we were on vacation at the shore.

We have the best group of neighbors and really enjoy spending time together.  It was the perfect way to celebrate not only love of our country, but love for each other.  It was a fun spin on the traditional outdoor cookout.

Have a blessed July 4th with family and friends!

Stuffed Peppers With A Twist

The June issue of Southern Living magazine features a series of recipes where the star is a vegetable.  One of my favorite things about this time of year is the plentiful bounty of garden vegetables.  Growing up, Mother made stuffed green bell peppers usually with ground beef and rice. I have never been a fan of the green bell pepper, but serve me their cousins “red, orange, and yellow” and I am sold.  So, when I saw this recipe for Stuffed Peppers with Grits and Sausage I knew I had to give it a try.

Note:  Miss Bee does not eat red meat or pork.  I substituted the pork sausage for turkey sausage (Jimmy Dean’s breakfast sausage crumbles).  It was the perfect switch and Miss Bee gave it two-thumbs up.  This is a big deal, folks.

June 2017 Southern Living magazine

The recipe can be found here.  But I will also provide.  It takes about an hour to prep and cook this dish, so be sure to allow yourself enough time, but it will be well worth the investment.

Ingredients:

3 large red bell peppers

1 TBL canola oil

3 hot Italian sausage links, casings removed (I used one bag of Jimmy Dean’s Turkey Sausage breakfast crumbles.  They are precooked so I just warmed them up with the onions in a skillet).

1 cup chopped sweet onion

1/2 cup coarse cornmeal (they recommend McEwen & Sons, I used the regular cornmeal I bake with).

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

1 cup whole milk

1 tsp. kosher salt, divided

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

3 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded and divided

3 TBL. olive oil

2 TBL. white wine vinegar

1/4 tsp black pepper

2 cups heirloom grape tomatoes, halved

1/2 cup basil leaves

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350.  Microwave bell peppers on HIGH for 2 minutes in microwave.  Cut bell peppers in half through the stem. Remove seeds and white membranes using a serrated tomato corer or melon baller, leaving stem intact.  Discard seeds and membranes.

Heat canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high.  Add sausage to skillet and cook 4 minutes, stirring to break into small pieces.  Add onion to skillet; cook, stirring occasionally, until sausage is cooked and onion is tender, about 3 minutes. Remove sausage mixture from pan.  Add cornmeal to skillet and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add broth, milk, and 3/4 tsp. of the salt to the skillet; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to a medium and cook stirring occasionally until liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes.  Stir in parsley, sausage mixture, and half of the cheese. Divide mixture evenly among bell pepper halves.  Place side by side on a baking sheet.  Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese.

Bake in a preheated oven until cheese is browned and peppers are tender, about 30 minutes.

While the peppers are baking, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, black pepper and remaining 1/4 tsp of sale in a medium bowl.  Add tomatoes and basil; toss to coat.  Serve over peppers.

The inside is so delicious and is the perfect filling to accompany the pepper.  I couldn’t help but think this would be a hearty entree to serve for brunch because it has grits, sausage and cheese.

The family loved it so the recipe is now torn out of the magazine and into the permanent recipe binder.  Let me know if you make it and how you liked it!

Try it Tuesday: Crispy Garlic Butter Smashed Sweet Potatoes

This is a keeper recipe I just discovered from Cafe Delites for crispy garlic butter smashed sweet potatoes.  There’s a little more effort into these than just baking sweet potatoes, but trust me they are so worth it!  As Mr. Bee and I were eating them with our grilled salmon, I suggested they would also be a great appetizer because they hold up so well as a finger food.  I can image a platter of these along side pork or beef tenderloin sliders.

In the recipe you will see there are two options for cooking the sweet potatoes — boiling or roasting.  I chose the roasting option.  The recipe said to cut the potatoes into quarters, but I just sliced the raw sweet potatoes evenly into 2 inch thick slices and baked them on an oiled cookie sheet.  Then, I picked up with the recipe where it says “smashed.”

Allow yourself about an hour for cook and prep time, nothing different than the time to bake potatoes.  But, just plan ahead and bake the sweet potato slices while you work on other parts of dinner.

You can find this recipe and over 150 other vegetable ideas on my Pinterest board.

Mediterranean Grilled Chicken Salad

Since we are clearly not going to have a winter here in Texas, the weather has been so nice for evening meals on the patio.  I love the smell of meat cooking on the grill whilst sipping a good glass of wine.  I’m sharing a recipe I found on Pinterest for Grilled Lemon Herb Mediterranean Chicken Salad.  The recipe originates from Cafe Delites and if you don’t follow her blog you should.  In fact, I am sure you have already seen many of her recipes on Facebook.

The best thing about this recipe is that the marinade is also the dressing for the salad.  You prepare it, then use half for the chicken and pour the other half into a bowl or dressing bottle.

Marinade — plenty of fresh ingredients
Marinating chicken

While the chicken marinates in lemon juice, olive oil, red wine vinegar and fresh herbs, I prepared the salad.  Instead of plating everyone’s portion separately, I decided to plate it from one big platter.

Starting with romaine lettuce, then avocados, cucumber, red onion and tomatoes.

Tip:  Always let your grilled meat sit on the counter for at least 5-10 minutes to allow the internal juices to set which keeps the chicken moist. Slice the chicken and arrange on top of the salad platter. Drizzle remaining dressing over the top.

I served it with a bottle of Pedernales GSM 2014 from Pedernales Cellars that I picked up in Fredericksburg during a wine trip I took last fall.  This Rhone-style blend incorporates Syrah, Mourvedre, and Grenache from their estate Hill Country vineyard and partner vineyards in Texas. Described as a “medium bodied blend brings together the diverse character of these three varieties into a fantastic balance that delivers aromas of raspberry, fennel, mushroom, and molasses. This is a rich red wine with significant oak and a soft finish.”  It really is one of my favorite wines to sip in the evening.

So if you were wondering what to make for dinner this weekend, this salad and wine along with a good crusty warm french bread would be the perfect way to start spring break!

Be sure to follow my Pinterest salad board.  I have over 150 recipes for fresh salad inspiration.

Cheese Vegetable Quiche

Trying to please a picky teen with my cooking lately has become a challenge.  Especially since she has been exploring non-meat options.  I had an excess quantity of eggs and thought a vegetable quiche might be a good option for dinner.  I pulled out my cookbooks and found a good recipe in the Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook.  This recipe has the perfect blend of swiss and cheddar and I plan to bake it again over the summer to take advantage of using seasonal vegetables.

Cheese Vegetable Quiche

Pastry for a 9-inch pie

One cup chopped fresh broccoli

One cup chopped fresh cauliflower

1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1 1/2 cups shredded swiss cheese

4 egg yolks, beaten

1 cup whipping cream

1 1/2 tsp seasoned salt

1/2 tsp white pepper

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

Fit pie crust into a 9-inch quiche dish or pie pan.  Prick bottom and sides of piecrust with a fork.  Bake at 375 for 8 minutes; cool on a wire rack. Note:  I like to use pie weights for pre-baking my crust because it keeps the crust from bubbling up.

Arrange broccoli and cauliflower in a steamer basket over boiling water. Cover and steam 5 minutes or until tender crisp.  Spoon into prepared pie crust and top with cheese.

Combine egg yolks and remaining 4 ingredients, stirring well.  Pour over cheese.  Bake 375 for 45 to 50 minutes or until set.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

I served a slice of quiche with a spinach tomato salad on my new set of soup and salad plates from Sur la Table.  These would make the perfect wedding gift!  Each white plate comes with a bowl and is a fun twist on the retro hostess luncheon plates like Mother had.  And they are 20% off right now when you code PASTA17 at checkout.

I also want to share the recipe for Creamy Lemon Vinaigrette.  I saw it in a recent issue of the Williams Sonoma catalog.  While the quiche was baking, I made a batch of the vinaigrette in my NutriBullet.

Process one garlic clove and two anchovy fillets until finely chopped.  Add one egg yolk, grated zest and juice from one lemon, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper.  Blend until it forms a smooth paste.  Add 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil until combined.  It’s really good and you will have plenty for salads the rest of the week.

Have a fab Friday!  I am heading off to a blogging conference for the weekend and looking forward to meeting to other fellow bloggers and learning something new.

Trader Joe’s Spatchcocked Lemon Rosemary Chicken

Trader Joe’s Spatchcocked Lemon Rosemary Chicken

Sunday night Miss Bee and I made a trip to Trader Joe’s to do our meal planning for this week.  I saw this chicken in the meat department and thought it sounded good and would be perfect with the bag of fingerling sweet potatoes I picked up in produce.  It’s $4.49 a pound, so this chicken was $12.99.

Oh. My. Goodness.  Do yourself a favor and visit TJ’s this week and get this Spatchcocked Lemon Rosemary chicken.  Here’s why:

  1. It’s super easy to cook.  You open the package, place the chicken in a pan and bake for about 75 minutes.  That’s it.
  2. It will make your house smell like you have been cooking in the kitchen all day.  Literally, your family will walk in and love you.
  3. It’s delicious.  I have a problem with rotisserie chickens, and the like, because they are so darn saltly.  The ingredients in this chicken are simple:

    Whole Split Chicken with Bone and Skin, Mojo Brine (Water, Orange Juice, Brown Sugar, Salt, Lime Juice), Marinade (Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Garlic, Buffered Vinegar, Rosemary, Parsley, Rosemary Extract), Lemon Slices.

    I placed diced sweet potatoes in the pan with the chicken and roasted them all together.  The juices from the chicken were yummy and coated the potatoes perfectly.  I served it with a side of TJ’s fresh green beans.

    If you are wondering what “Spatchcocked” means — it’s just a term used to describe the technique in which the meat has been prepared for roasting or grilling.

    So, you’ve learned something new and you’ll eat a tasty meal this week.  Enjoy!

Recipe from a Box: Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes

So, one morning I was standing at the Keurig pouring cream into my coffee and I happened to glance at the recipe on the carton.  Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes using Horizon Organic half and half.  It made me remember the days when Mother made scalloped potatoes.  I am sure at one time she made them from scratch, but once boxed mixes were created so housewives could get dinner on the table pronto, a lot of homemade things were saved for dinner parties with friends.

Mother’s go-to was Betty Crocker’s Scalloped Potatoes.  While they are pretty close to homemade, the amount of salt in the recipe really bothers me.  When I saw the Horizon recipe, it made me long for a big pan of creamy potatoes with a giant meatloaf smothered in tomato sauce and a side of green beans.  I knew what was for dinner (I had to substitute pork tenderloin for meatloaf because Miss Bee WILL NOT eat meatloaf.  I think it’s the word “loaf” that bothers her).

You’ll need:

3 cups thinly sliced russet potatoes

1 small onion, thinly sliced (I used just half because that’s all I had and it was plenty)

3 TBL chopped fresh parsley

2 cups Horizon Organic shredded cheddar cheese (I always shred my own cheese from a block because I think it melts better)

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 cups Horizon Organic Half & Half

Preheat oven to 350 and butter a 3 quart casserole dish.

Layer 1/3 of potatoes, onions and parsley in bottom of pan.  Sprinkle with 2/3 cups of cheddar cheese, then repeat for two more layers.

Pour half & half over casserole and sprinkle with remaining parsley and Parmesan.

Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes, then remove foil and bake for an additional 35 minutes.

They were a pretty big hit and plenty was left over for the next day.  Now, I will be on the look out for more recipes on a box.  Are there any recipes you have found off a box that turned out to be a keeper?  Please share!