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Baked Ziti

6 Sep

My husband and I are taking dance classes every Friday this month (P.S. I’m pretty excited about typing this post because I’m using my pinkie again – stitches are out and, though it looks terrible still, I can use it without being scared it is going to split in half…yay me). It was so fun! And, unlike most of the husbands, mine was actually excited to be there. 🙂 I’m not a huge dancer, but I wish I was. Baby steps…

Of course, while we were out, baby boy decided to shove a spoon down his throat and bleed all over poor auntie (she has the worst luck – last time one of the kids puked all over her…I swear I don’t plan these things). We’re still up waiting for the on-call doctor to give us a buzz and make sure we don’t need to get his pretty little gash checked. Poor kid. He’s a bink-baby and having a spoon shaped gouge at the back of your throat kind of puts a damper on things when you want to suck. It’s going to be a long night, so I might as well get a blog entry in.

Baked Ziti –  as easy as spaghetti, but it sounds way fancier. 😉 The recipe calls for three different kinds of cheeses, but lazy-o me just used a bag of pre-shredded pizza-mix cheese (I figure it has a bit of everything in there anyways!). So, a pretty easy recipe jumped all the way to no-brainer. Cool beans. I told you I’m not a fancy cook. 🙂

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Ingredients:

1 pkg.  (16 oz.) ziti pasta
1 jar  (26 oz.) spaghetti sauce
1 container  (15 oz.)  Original Ricotta Cheese
1 pkg.  (8 oz.)  Shredded Mozzarella Cheese, divided
1/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese

PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Cook pasta as directed on package. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.

MIX spaghetti sauce, ricotta cheese and reserved 1/2 cup pasta cooking water in large bowl. Add pasta and 1/2 cup of the mozzarella cheese; mix lightly. Spoon into 13×9-inch baking dish sprayed with cooking spray; sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese and the Parmesan cheese. Cover.

BAKE 30 min.; uncover. Bake an additional 10 min. or until heated through.

http://www.kraftrecipes.com/recipes/baked-ziti-54590.aspx

Baked Spaghetti with Cream Cheese

12 May

Happy Mother’s Day!!! How I love being a mom – it is seriously the best. I can’t imagine life without my four little beans! They are crazy, messy, and can never find their shoes when we need them; but I am addicted their smiles, their hugs, their laughter…they are my little friends who go everywhere with me and I cannot express the joy I find in them.

And I really love having a mom. 🙂 I hope I can be half as successful as she is when it comes to the unselfish way she gives of her time and energy for others. Love you, Mom!!!

This is kind of like the ‘mother’ of all spaghetti. 😉 A little (or a lot!) of extra love thrown in!!!

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Ingredients

8 ounces uncooked spaghetti
1 pound ground beef
1 large can spaghetti sauce (26.5 ounces)
1 tablespoon butter
½ cup chopped green peppers (I usually omit or substitute red peppers)
cup chopped onions
8 ounces cream cheese
2 tablespoons milk
Fresh grated Parmesan cheese
French-fried onions (small can)

Directions

Cook spaghetti according to directions on the package. Cook to al dente, drain and set aside. Brown ground beef. Drain excess grease. Add spaghetti sauce to skillet and heat. Combine onions, peppers and butter in small glass bowl. Cover and microwave 4 minutes on HIGH until soft. Add cream cheese and milk to vegetables and stir well. (If cream cheese is not soft, nuke it for 20-30 seconds to make it easy to spread.) Using a 12 x 8-inch baking dish (or something close), assemble in the following order: thin layer of spaghetti sauce, cooked spaghetti, cream cheese/vegetable mixture, remaining spaghetti sauce, parmesan cheese (amount subject to your own taste) Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Top with french-fried onions and continue baking 5 more minutes. (This is the secret ingredient–don’t let them burn.)

Original recipe: http://www.keyingredient.com/recipes/944735043/baked-spaghetti-with-cream-cheese/

Creamy Chicken Alfredo Lasagna

4 Mar

This morning, I was was pretty darn sure that my daughter had appendicitis. Google has made me an excellent judge of medical conditions. Her symptoms matched everything – pain in the abdomen in a specific local – typically starting at the belly-button, decreased appetite, fever, increased pain when walking. Appendicitis! Turns out…she has strep. Yes, of course. Strep…which involves the throat…not the abdomen. I still have no idea how this happened. The one thing that made me feel like a not-quite-so-crazy-mommy was that the doctor did test her for appendicitis. Everything pointed to that!!! Everything, except the fact that she could jump. That was the deal breaker. The funny thing is that he checked her throat and said it was a little red then asked her if it hurt. “No.” No? How does your belly button hurt but not your throat when you have strep? I am at a loss. But a grateful loss. I’d much rather go pick up an antibiotic at the local pharmacy than run my seven year old down to the hospital for surgery. The only downside of the situation is that I have to come to terms with the fact that I do not have a future diagnosing ailments with my degree from Google and WebMD.

Here’s something useful I got from the internet: Talk about fancy lasagna! This was really tasty and very simple to put together…and it has sun-dried tomatoes!!! Anything with sun-dried tomatoes is a winner in my book. Except maybe sun-dried tomato ice cream (you laugh, but I bet someone out there has tried to pull that off). Although I really like it a lot, it was a little heavy on the cream cheese for me. Next time, I think I’ll try it with my Lower-Fat Alfredo sauce and see which one I like better.

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Ingredients:

2 cups shredded cooked chicken breasts
1 can (14 oz.) artichoke hearts, drained, chopped
1 pkg. (8 oz.) KRAFT Shredded Mozzarella Cheese with a TOUCH OF PHILADELPHIA, divided
1/2 cup KRAFT Grated Parmesan Cheese
1/2 cup chopped drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
2 pkg. (8 oz. each) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 cup tightly packed fresh basil, chopped, divided
12 lasagna noodles, cooked

Directions:

HEAT oven to 350°F.
COMBINE chicken, artichokes, 1 cup mozzarella, Parmesan and tomatoes. Beat cream cheese, milk and garlic powder with mixer until well blended; stir in 2 Tbsp. basil. Mix half with the chicken mixture.
SPREAD half the remaining cream cheese mixture onto bottom of 13×9-inch baking dish; cover with 3 noodles and 1/3 of the chicken mixture. Repeat layers of noodles and chicken mixture twice. Top with remaining noodles, cream cheese mixture and mozzarella; cover.
BAKE 25 min. or until heated through. Sprinkle with remaining basil. Let stand 5 min. before cutting to serve.

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Crockpot Spaghetti and Chicken

8 Feb

The Olympics have started! I get seriously sucked into the Olympic Games. I used to only care about the figure skating (still my favorite part…not gonna lie). The rest was uber boring to my teeny-bopper mind – but something clicked awhile back. It was probably 2002 – when the Olympics actually came to my backyard. I gained a greater appreciation for all the sports and now I really love watching every second I can. This also means that I’m watching the Olympics when I should be cooking dinner. Enter Crockpot. Sponsored by the mom’s who don’t feel like doing more than dumping dinner in a pot and letting it magically cook itself.

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Ingredients

3 lb. chicken pieces

1 (2/3 oz.) pkg. Italian salad dressing mix

4 tbsp. melted butter

1 small onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, chopped

1 (10 1/2 oz.) can cream of chicken soup

8 oz. cream cheese

1/2 cup chicken broth

1 lb. of spaghetti

Place chicken pieces in crock pot and sprinkle Italian seasoning over chicken. Sprinkle with 2 tbsp. melted butter. Cook on low for 4-6 hours. Melt 2 tbsp. butter in a saucepan and sauté onion and garlic. Add Cream of Chicken Soup, cream cheese, and chicken broth. Stir until smooth. Add this mixture to crockpot and cook on low for an additional hour. Prepare spaghetti according to package directions.

Confetti Spaghetti

28 Jan

Remember colored ketchup? It came in green and purple, blue, yellow…it threw me off. Every time I tasted it, I didn’t expect it to taste like ketchup. But it always did! Go figure. Now I can say the same for noodles. No matter what color, they still taste like noodles.

I won the Cool Mom award for dinner, and an astounded, “Mom! How did you do that?!!!” from my kids. AND it took me all of two minutes prep, and maybe ten minutes cook time. Fun for birthdays or just to add a little ‘color’ to your plate!

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Ingredients:

spaghetti noodles

water

food coloring of choice

Depending on how many colors of noodles you want, prepare separate pots of water – adding food coloring of choice to each (5-10 drops depending on how vibrant you want the colors). Add noodles and bring to a low boil. Cook until al dente. Drain excess water and place noodles on a paper towel, dabbing dry. Combine all colors of noodles and serve with sauce of choice.

*Note: If you don’t dry the noodles well the colors will bleed into each other.

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Turkey Tetrazzini

27 Dec

So, my seven-year-old woke up the night before Christmas Eve with a fever that held on for three days. We kept it at bay with some consistent dosage of ibuprofen and she finally woke up this morning fever free. Hooray! It put a little damper on Christmas, but she smiled through it, though her eyes were a little bleary, and we still enjoyed family, food, and all the wonderful joys of giving.

This morning, baby boy started acting a little feverish. 😦 He had a really rough afternoon, so I scheduled him a doctor’s appointment – all the while knowing that it was most likely a virus that they wouldn’t be able to do anything about, but needing a little peace of mind that at least I did all that I could. A couple hours before our appointment, he perked up! Smiling, eating, playing…I was beginning to second guess my hasty call to the doctor. But, at my husband’s urging to take advantage of the last few days we have to go to the doctor before we have to restart our deductible :), I decided to just go ahead and go with my original instinct. Thank heaven for sensible husbands! A steroid dose for his tight breathing, and a prescription for an ear infection later…so happy we went in. He is sleeping soundly now, and maybe tomorrow his sisters will get to do something more than watch movies all day. Amazing how tiring a day of doing nothing but bouncing a baby can be!

We had take-out pizza tonight, but this recipe would have worked too. If your day after Christmas was as crazy as mine, pull out that left over turkey and make yourself some tetrazzini. It’s easy, it uses up your left-overs, and darn it…it tastes really good.

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Ingredients:

1/4 cup butter

1/2 onion, chopped finely

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 can evaporated milk

1/4 tsp marjoram

1/2 tsp celery salt

1/2 tsp salt

1 – 1 1/2 cup grate cheese (cheddar or parmesan)

2-4 cups cubed turkey (or chicken)

cooked rice or noodles

In a large pan, melt butter and brown onion until soft. Add soup, milk, and spices. Mix together with a whisk to remove any lumps. Add cheese and turkey, stirring occasionally, until cheese melts and the sauce is heated through. Do not allow to boil. Serve over noodles or rice.

Pad Thai

14 Nov

My kids like to bring their entire room with them when we go places. Stuffed animals, blankets, toys, pillows…you name it, it should be with us…always. And they are all about carrying it themselves for about the first 2 minutes. And then its, “Mom, it’s getting too heavy. Can you carry this…and this…and this.” Never mind the fact that I am holding a baby, a diaper bag, a bink in my teeth, a blanket, a sippy cup – you get the idea. I try to discourage the entourage, but sometimes I cave when the tantrum is just not worth it. We went to the fabric store yesterday and my two year old fell asleep in the car. It’s hard to wake up from a 5 minutes nap sometimes, I get that. So, blankie was allowed to accompany us inside to help. Unfortunately, as soon as the world started looking a little brighter, so did everything else in the store, and poor blankie got left behind. I didn’t realize that we didn’t have it until, of course, we had already gotten home. Sigh. Reload everyone up and trek back to the store. Luckily, someone had found it and brought it to the front register (a blankie a few years back was not so lucky and has never been seen or heard from again). Today, we went to the library. Same two year old: “Mom! I want to hold my movie!” I was laden with the same baggage as I listed before, and then add in seven or eight books precariously balanced in my free hand – I didn’t mind at all having someone offer to help for a change. I should have been a little wiser considering our escapade from the day before. We got home, got everyone out and…I had a two year old with two fists full of acorns, but no movie. Gah! Back to the library we went, to search for the movie that had been left on the lawn to make room for the acorn collection (which they actually tried to eat, but declared to be ‘disgusting!’) Again, someone had found our abandoned treasure and had returned it to the library for us. Too bad for two year old, I did not check it out again. Maybe she’ll learn a lesson…maybe.

This recipe is actually a Chinese Pasta Salad – I liked it better warm and with a little more veggies, which turned it into Pad Thai instead of pasta. Works for me. Top with some crispy noodles (or improvise with some tortillas strips like me when you don’t have crispy noodles 😉 – still tasty!), and enjoy!

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Ingredients:

1/4 cup sesame seeds
4 (3 oz.) packages Ramen noodles, any flavor
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1 tsp. sesame oil
3 Tbs sugar
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp black pepper
3 cups diced, cooked chicken breast
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
choice of mixed vegetables, cooked

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add sesame seeds and cook, stirring frequently until lightly toasted. Remove from heat and set aside. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil; add pasta (break each brick into at least 4 pieces so the noodles aren’t too long) and cook 3-4 minutes or until slightly tender but not soft – do not use seasoning packs. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.

Combine vegetable oil, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, sugar, sesame seeds, ginger and pepper. Mix well. Pour sauce over pasta and toss to coat evenly. Gently mix in chicken, cilantro, and mixed vegetables.

Italian Meatballs

28 Oct

My neighbor got Mono a couple of weeks ago. I had it the summer after my freshman year of college = no fun. And I didn’t have kids to take care of back then – she has 4. So, I made their family dinner, and asked the kids if there was anything they didn’t like or anything they preferred. There was talk of macaroni and cheese and other kinds of kid favorites, but then their eyes lit up; “Spaghetti and Meatballs!” I love spaghetti – my husband does not. So, whenever I make spaghetti, it is a special treat for me. 🙂 However, I usually just make spaghetti with meat sauce. I have never made meatballs. But they asked specifically for meatballs! It’s always a little scary making something you have never made before with the intention of giving it to someone else. It doesn’t leave much room for error – even though you know that they would never say anything if it tasted horrible. I contemplated just doing my regular meat sauce, but then my conscience would strike and I just didn’t have much choice – I promised meatballs.

I was really pleased with this recipe. The meatballs were like miniature meat loaves, and then of course, there is the ease of the crockpot! Even my husband tried them. 🙂 He’s still not a huge fan of spaghetti, but said the meatballs were pretty good – I take what I can.

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Ingredients:

1 lb ground beef
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon oregano
1 tablespoon fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl by hand – use your bare hands for best results. Roll meatballs to about the size of a golf ball. Drop raw meatballs into crockpot filled with Marinara Sauce. Cook on high for about 3 hours.

Original recipe found here: http://www.food.com/recipe/authentic-italian-meatballs-92095

Spaghetti Carbonara

25 Oct

We read the book ‘Garlic and Saphires‘ by Ruth Reichl for my book club this month. I’m not usually into non-fiction (I live non-fiction, so when I read I like to be somewhere else :)), but I did really enjoy the book. Reichl is a food critic who visits high-end restaurant’s in disguise in order to get different viewpoints on the food and the restaurant experience. I learned one thing – I defiantly don’t have the palate to be a critic! But it was a fun read, plus she added a few of her favorite recipes in between chapters. Most of them had ingredients that I don’t frequently cook with :), but this one jumped out at me. Pasta – check. Eggs – check. Bacon – check. Not too scary, and now I can say that I can cook like a food critic even if I can’t afford to eat like one.

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Ingredients:

1 lb spaghetti

1/4 – 1/2 lb thickly sliced bacon

2 cloves garlic

2 large eggs

pepper

1/2 cup parmigiano cheese, plus extra for serving

Bring large pot of water to boil, prepare spaghetti noodles – 9-10 minutes. Cut the bacon into 1/2 inch pieces. Put them in a skillet and cook for 2 minutes, then add garlic and cook another 5 minutes, until the edges of the bacon begin to crisp.

Break the eggs into the bowl you will serve the pasta in, and beat with a fork. Add pepper to taste.

Remove garlic from bacon pan.

When it is cooked, drain the pasta and immediately throw it into the beaten eggs. Mix thoroughly. The heat of the spaghetti will cook the eggs and turn them into a sauce. Add the bacon with its fat, toss again, add cheese and serve.

*I added grilled chicken as well.

Cheeseburger Casserole

17 Sep

Sometimes, you just need a no-brainer recipe. I actually had to think hard about this one, because I don’t usually use a recipe! I’m not a dumper, typically – I like to be told exactly what to put in and when – but this one is really hard to mess up and it turns out pretty much the same every time, even if I don’t do it the same every time. This is second only to my Mac and Cheese when it comes to my kids’ favorite meals. Funny how they love the things that take no time and no effort, but if you spend hours and hours making the most fantabulous meal ever…no one will touch it. Alas.

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Ingredients:

Prepared elbow noodles

1 lb hamburger

1 can tomato soup (or equivalent measure of Roasted Tomato Soup)

1/4 cup milk

2 cups corn (frozen or 1 small can of corn)

1/4 lb grated cheddar cheese

Brown hamburger and season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix together tomato soup and milk and combine with hamburger, noodles, and corn. Pour into 9×13 baking dish. Top with cheese and bake at 350^F for 20-25 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

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