Monday, March 30, 2009

Penna a la Vodka and Honey Garlic Sausage and Peppers

I didn't have to cook supper this Sunday! Marilyn and Ann provided the food and Marlyn hosted. It was a nice break, since the last two weeks it has been challenging doing it all on my own (especially the clean-up!)

I thought I would post a couple of recipes I have made in the last few weeks that turned out well. Unfortunately, I have no photos, but next time I make either, I will take some!

Penne a la Vodka
Source: (with a few modifications/additions)

  • 1 box of penne
  • 1 can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 c. vodka
  • 10 cloves of garlic, peeled and whole
  • red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 c. heavy cream
  • grated parm cheese
  • chopped parsley


  • chicken
  • Shrimp
  • peppers
  • onion

**Timing is everything with this recipe. It is best if you have everything all chopped and ready to go, measured out, because things happen quickly!

1. Put water onto boil for pasta. Saute and chicken and veggies you will use as water is boiling. Set aside.

2. Put penne in water. Coat pan in olive oil (probably about 1/4 c.) and drop in 10 garlic cloves. Brown them.

3. Add tomatoes, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste. Boil for 2 mins.

4. Add the vodka and lower heat. Simmer until pasta is ready.

5. Add cream and swirl in.

6. Pick the garlic cloves out of the sauce, unless you like to eat whole cloves, but I would not recommend this! Drain the pasta.

6. In the pasta pot, combine pasta, sauce, veggies/chicken, fresh parsley and about 3/4 c. parm cheese. Continuously stir over low heat until pasta has absorbed sauce.

Comments: This was delicious and looked restaurant quality. I would definitely add chicken or shrimp and some veggies though, otherwise it is quite plain. Do not skimp on the fresh parsley either, it really makes the dish! Good leftovers too.

Honey Garlic Sausage and Peppers
Source: allrecipes


  • 1/4 c. oil
  • 1/4 c. dijon mustard (or any dark spicy mustard)
  • 1/3 c. honey
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • brown rice


  • honey garlic sausage (or any spicy sausage)
  • chicken
  • shrimp
  • peppers (green and red)
  • onion
  • mushrooms
  • shredded carrots
  • chopped celery

1. Put brown rice on to cook.

2. While rice is cooking, brown meat (any one of or combination of the proteins above are great!), add veggies and sauce. Saute until veggies are desired consistency.

3. Serve over rice.

Comments: This is more a sauce recipe and you can add any protein or veggies that you want. the first time I made it, I stuck with the classic sausage, peppers and onion mix. Since then, I have branched out and added different proteings and veggies. Last Friday, I used all three proteins, shredded carrots, mushrooms, a chopped pepper, onion and celery. It was still yummy!

Sunday, March 22, 2009


Beef Stroganoff

  • 3 lbs stew meat, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1lb sliced mushrooms
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 c. beef broth
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1.5 c. sour cream
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1.5 pkgs of egg noodles
  • 1 c. fresh parsley, chopped


1. Place meat, mushrooms, onions and garlic in slow cooker. Add broth, paprika and salt. Cover with lid. Cook on low for 7-8 hrs.

2. Mix sour cream, flour and mustard. Add to meat micture and stir in. Cook on low for additional 15-30 mins. Cook noodles. Drain noodles and add to meat mixture in crook pot. Stir in parsley. Serve.

Comments: This was good. Nothing ground breaking and maybe a litle bland, but a solid beef stroganoff recipe. I had only ever eaten it made with ground beef, so the stew meat was a nice change. A couple of people who don't ordinarily even like stroganoff thought this was OK.

Broccoli Casserole

  • 1 large bag of frozen, chopped broccoli, thawed and drained
  • 1 bag of pre-cut carrot waffers
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 can cream soup (I used celery)
  • 1/2 c. mayo
  • 1/2 c. parm cheese
  • 1 egg
  • Optional: crushed cheezits or ritz crackers


1. Mix it all up and top with crackers. Bake at 350 for 30-40 mins.

Comments: This was a very good veggie side. I used reduced fat soup, mayo and parm to make it a little more calorie friendly. I didn't pre-cook the carrots, so they were quite crisp. If you like them softer, cook them a little first.

No-Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Cheesecake

  • 1 oreo crust OR 1 1/2 c. crumbled oreos and butter to make crust
  • 2 pkgs of cream cheese
  • 1 c. peanut butter
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 1/2 c. cool whip, divided
  • 2 milk chocolate bars, chopped, divided


1. Mix crumbs and butter, press in pan, or be lazy like me and use a pre-made crust :)

2. Beat cream cheese, peanut butter and sugar. Stir in 1/2 of the cool whip. Stir in 1/2 chopped chocolate. Pour into crust. Refrigerate for 3 hrs.

3. Microwave remaining cool whip and chocolate. Pour over cake. Refrigerate.

Comments: This was AMAZING! I used reduced fat cream cheese and fat free cool whip to try to bring the cals down a little. I will definitely be making this again!

Coconut Cream Pie

  • Graham cracker crust
  • 2 boxes of vanilla pudding
  • 2 c. milk
  • 1 c. coconut
  • 2 c. cool whip, divided.


1. With a wisk, beat pudding and milk for 2 mins. Stir in 1 c. cool whip. Stir in 3/4 c. of cool whip. Pour into pie crust.

2. Refrigerate for 3 hrs. Top with remaining cool whip and coconut.

Comments: This tasted like real, restaurant pie! I was impressed. I even toasted the coconut for the top. Definitely a make again. Very easy!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The kiddos enjoying the enchiladas and dessert!

I promised kid pictures, so here they are. Christine wasn't digging the enchiladas tonight, but James sure was! Christine did however, enjoy her "cake", as usual.
Jamers! He eats now.

Please note that James eats with his hands. He also rubs his hair and face with said hands.

Christine, enjoying her "cake"

Enchiladas, Spanish Rice and Chocolate Chocolate Trifle

Source: Barb Frame

Note: I made 17 large enchiladas with the ingredients below. You could half or even make a third of this recipe for a normal meal.

  • 2 rottisserie chickens (you can just cook up breasts and shred)
  • 2 blocks of cream cheese (I used light)
  • 1 pkg Kraft shredded mexican blend
  • 2 red peppers, chopped
  • 4 stalks of green onion, chopped
  • Cumin (about 1 tbsp)
  • Tortillas
  • Salsa

-I pulled apart the two chickens and chopped up
-Chop red peppers and green onion
-Combine cream cheese, cumin, chicken and veggies, I used my hands to mix it up really well
-Put a dab of salsa, a spoonful of the chicken mixture and some cheese on a tortilla. Roll up and place in a greased pan.
-Spray the tops of the enchiladas or brush with olive oil, it makes them crispy
-Bake at 350 for around 25-30 mins, top with remaining cheese and chopped green onion. Put it back in the over for 5 mins, until cheese is melted.
-Serve with sour cream, extra salsa or any other toppings (Guac is good!)

Comments: These enchiladas are AWESOME. Always a crowd pleaser. The babies even liked them. Thanks for the recipe Barb (and Amanda!)

Chicken Mixture
Ready to go in the oven!

Finished Product

Source: Me!

Note: Again, this was a HUGE batch and there were tons of leftovers. Adjust accordingly.


  • Instant brown rice (cooked according to directions on box, I made 4 c.)
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 green pepper chopped
  • mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • Cumin
  • Chili powder
  • Garlic
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • salsa

-Cook rice according to directions.
-Saute vegetables in olive oil and spices, to taste, depending on how spicey you like it.
-Add rice, salsa and can of diced tomatoes, combine and heat through.

Comments: This is a great side for any mexican dish. It makes great leftovers too. You can add some black beans, top with cheese and sour cream for a complete meal.



  • 2 pkgs of fat free chocolate pudding, prepared according to directions
  • 1 pan of brownies
  • Raspberry pie filling
  • 1 container of cool whip

-Layer crumbled brownie, raspberry pie filling, pudding and cool whip in a large bowl.
-Place in fridge to set.

Comments: Delicious! I put some extra leftover pie filling on the table, so people could add more if they liked. Really easy and tasty. I used fat free pudding and fat free coolwhip, so this was actually not that bad for you either.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Meatballs, veggies and my first chocolate cake!


1 pkg of prepared meatball or make your own!

  • Ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp worcester sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion salt
  • bread crumbs (start with 1/2 a cup)
  • Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Crack your egg and beat it. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix it together. I prefer to use my hands. Start with 1/2 a cup of breadcrumbs and add more until you get the right consistency to make the meatballs stick together. Roll up your meatballs (I like them pretty small, around a walnut) and put them on a greased baking sheet. Pop them in the over for a few minutes, just to brown them, otherwise they can crumble in the crockpot. I made enough meatballs to fill the crock. I made up about 3lbs worth of beef into balls. We had 10 adults and 2 babies, a few people had seconds and there were still some leftovers.

Sweet and Sour Sauce:

  • 1 can cranberry sauce
  • 2 jars chili sauce
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1/3 c. ketchup
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • salt and pepper

Mix the sauce up and pour over the meatballs in the crockpot. Stir it up so the meatballs are coated. Cook on low for 4-6 hrs, stirring every couple of hours. Serve over egg noodles.

COMMENTS: These were delicious! I know the ingredients sound a bit strange, but the cranberry sauce gives the chili sauce the perfect sweet taste without actually tasting like cranberries. Everyone loved these, even the little ones. I would definitely make these again, 2 thumbs up, 5 stars!


  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1 lb of mushrooms, quartered
  • 3 cups chopped carrots
  • 1 large head or two small heads of broccoli, cut into bit size pieces
  • 1/2 c. chicken broth
  • Shredded cheddar cheese (the recipe called from 1 1/2 cups I think, but I just covered it in cheese... after all, you can never really have too much cheese!)
  • butter
  • spices (garlic, onion salt, parsley, Mrs. Dash, veggie spice salt, pepper or whatever seasoning or combination of seasoning you like!)

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Melt some butter in a large skillet. Add whatever seasoning you like. I used garlic salt, onion salt and parsley. Soften onion, celery, carrots and mushrooms. Remember, you are going to bake this concoction later, so the veggies should still be a bit firm (unless you like veggiemush, of course!) Once the veggies have reached their desired consistency, put them in a greased casserole dish. I used a rectangular lasagna-type pan. Cover with shredded cheddar. Now, soften the broccoli. Put broccoli on top of cheese. Pour chicken broth over. Bake for 25 mins, remove and sprinkle with more cheddar and a little parm. Bake 5 more minutes, or until cheese melts.

COMMENTS: This was OK. It wasn't like an out of the park homerun hit, but it is a good way to use up some veggies on hand and sneak a serving of vegetables into the fussy. I mean, cheese makes everything better! I will probably make this again when I am lacking a veggie side. I think I would add more seasoning to spice it up a bit.

Source: Better Homes and Gardens New Baking Book

This was my first ever homemade, not from a box chocolate cake. I was afraid. Afraid the box cake would be better than my homemade cake and I would feel like a huge failure. While I did make a cake from scratch, I cheaped out and used icing from a container. Baby steps, right?

  • 2/3 c. butter
  • 1 3/4 c. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 oz unsweetened chocolate
  • 2 1/4 c. flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 1/4 c. water

-Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease one large cake pan or two small layer cake pans.
-Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
-Beat butter for 30 seconds, until softened.
-Add sugar and beat until mixed in.
-Add eggs one at a time and mix in before adding the other.
-Melt chocolate squares in the micro. Heat for about a minute, then stir every 20 seconds until smooth. Probably will take around a minute and a half, maybe more.
-Add vanilla and melted chocolate. Mix.
-Add the flour mixture and water in quarters, fully mixing each time, before adding more flour and/or water.
-Pour into cake pans and bake. The recipe said 30-35 mins, mine took more like 45 mins for a wooden toothpick to come out clean. I just kept checking them every 5 mins or so.
-Cool for 10-15 minutes before taking out of the pan to cool on wire wrack.
-Frost and enjoy!

COMMENTS: Thankfully, the cake did not disappoint. It was great! I frosted it with creamy chocolate icing. It was fluffy, light and had a nice chocolate taste, not too sweet. I will be making this recipe again and again. Definitely a classic.

Sunday Supper Recipes

Our family has supper at my parents every Sunday and it is my favorite time of the week! My parents and cousins, their spouses and kids all get together to start the week right. We have anywhere from 10 to 15 people, ranging in age from 6 weeks to 6 decades. Since moving home, I have taken over some of the cooking duties. I still have to credit my parents and George with all of the clean-up though!

I was never much of a cook growing up. When I moved out to go to law school, I had to learn fast. In the past few years, I have gotten much better and can now throw together a decent meal. Nothing too fancy, but good, hearty family meals. Lately, I have been getting some requests for recipes, so I thought I would start compiling them all in one place, with comments of how I modified the recipe (I can NEVER follow them perfectly!), some pictures and comments.