Weekend at Home – In the Kitchen

I love to cook, I love to bake. If you know me, or if you read this blog, you know this. But sometimes I find that cooking gets a little tedious for me. If I haven't planned ahead, it's getting home at 5:00 pm through the week, and thinking to myself, what the heck am I going to cook? What can I throw together to get supper on the table fast?

It loses something like this. The passion goes out of it and it becomes a pain in the ass. Then the weekend comes and we go out somewhere, or you just don't feel like it, so you just eat whatever. It's not always like this, but sometimes that's the way it goes.

This weekend the weather has been BAD. I figured that we weren't going anywhere and that we wouldn't be seeing anyone. I got up Yesterday morning and thought to myself: I feel like cooking! I feel like baking! A quick trip out to the store (once the laneway was shovelled) and I was good to go. I thought I would share some pictures of some of the things I made. Though if you follow me on Instagram, you've already seen these. ūüôā

 

The beginnings of Italian Wedding Soup

The little meatballs that go in

The finished product

Homemade spaghetti sauce at the beginning stages

A few hours later, all done.

Tasty lemon loaf

A meatloaf – last nights supper.

This morning I made a banana bread.

 

I had a lovely weekend, home with my family.

Now I have to figure out what to cook for supper tonight. I was thinking a nice teriyaki chicken…stay tuned!

 

Spinach Dip – Quick, Easy, and Delicious

Deliciousness

Deliciousness

I’m a fan of a good, hot spinach dip. ¬†Sometimes I’ll order one if we’re out for dinner or drinks, and it’s such an awesome treat. ¬†I had never made one myself, but we were having some friends over and I had a craving, so I thought I would try my hand at it. ¬†Because I just sort of threw this one together based on my own tastes and what I know of spinach dip, the measurements are approximate, but for the most part I don’t think you can go wrong with any of these ingredients. ¬†Enjoy.

Ingredients

1 pkg cream cheese – softened

1 cup sour cream

1 cup mayonnaise

1 cup frozen spinach, thawed and drained

1 pkg Knorr (or similar) dried vegetable soup mix

1 cup (and then some!) grated marble cheese

Directions

In a medium sized bowl, add all ingredients except for cheese and stir to combine.

Photo 4Add the one cup of grated cheese….

Photo 1Mix thoroughly, and add to a prepared baking dish. I used a Pampered Chef 9 inch stoneware pie plate.  If you use a glass baking dish, I would treat it lightly first with olive oil or cooking spray.

Photo 3

 

Top with the desired amount (lots) of grated cheese, and bake in a 375 degree oven for about 20-30 minutes, keeping an eye on it and removing from the oven when the top is melted and golden.

Photo 7

 

This is great served simply with tortilla chips, corn chips or even Doritos in a pinch. ¬†I personally think it’s best with baked or fried pita chips. ¬†I make my own by cutting the pocketless pitas into 8th’s, coating with olive oil and seasoning salt, and baking for about 20 minutes, turning half way through. ¬†They get crunchy on the outside, but maintain their¬†chewiness¬†inside. ¬†So good!

You could change this dip up any way you like, adding different ingredients like a shake or two of hot sauce to jazz it up a bit. ¬†You could also finely dice some sweet red pepper and throw it in. ¬†Some crumbled bacon on top would add to the¬†decadence¬†as well. ¬†Adjust it to your preferences, that’s what cooking is all about!

Enjoy!

Trifle – Tiramisu Style

TiramisuI love this recipe. ¬†It’s beautiful to look at, and as Paula Deen always says – “we eat with our eyes first.” ¬†It’s also delicious, which helps as well. ¬†It’s slightly adapted from a Kraft Canada recipe. ¬†I love the Kraft website and magazine. ¬†It’s filled with recipes that are quick, tasty, and have ingredients that are¬†accessible.

This is more of a trifle than actual tiramisu Рas the traditional tiramisu has mascarpone and lady fingers, etc.  This is quicker, cheaper, and a little milder than the traditional recipe.

I made and served this on Saturday night.  It was a perfect compliment to my Chicken Marsala, and was quick to whip up on Saturday afternoon.  Highly recommend.

Ingredients

1 block cream cheese, softened

2 pkg of instant vanilla pudding powder

3 cups cold milk

2 cups cool whip

1 pkg – Mr. Christie Nilla¬†biscuits – you won’t use the whole box, but they’re great for snacking.

1/2 cup strong brewed coffee. I brewed a Tassimo disc of espresso and then just topped up to the 1/2 cup with hot water.

2 squares semi-sweet chocolate – coarsely grated.

raspberries for garnish

Directions

Whip cream cheese with a hand mixer in a large bowl until smooth.  Add the powdered instant pudding mixes and cold milk.  Continue beating until thickened and smooth.  Add cool whip and fold in by hand.

Line the bottom of your trifle bowl with the Nilla wafers, and stand them up around the edge of the bowl too, so you can see them from the outside. ¬†Drizzle half of the coffee over them. ¬†Add half of the pudding mixture and spread out evenly. ¬†Sprinkle the top with half the chocolate. ¬†Do another layer of biscuits, coffee, pudding mixture, chocolate. ¬†Garnish the top with whole raspberries. ¬†The recipe on the website calls for more cool whip on the top, but I leave it off. ¬†I find it overkill and don’t think it’s needed. ¬†Without it you can see how beautiful the chocolate and raspberries are.

Chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

I hope you enjoy, it’s a favourite in our house. ¬†Great to take to a potluck, and a good recipe to have on hand at this time of year with all the entertaining that we do.

Another Tater Tot Casserole

It seems like everywhere you look for recipes online, you will find one for a tater tot casserole. ¬†I always wanted to try making one. ¬†I’m not a huge fan of potatoes, but I like things like French fries,¬†hash browns¬† etc. ¬†When I went grocery shopping this weekend, I bought a bag of the tater tots to keep in the freezer for whenever¬†inspiration¬†struck.

It struck yesterday. ¬†I was sitting at work, trying to figure out what the heck to cook for supper on a Monday night when I really didn’t feel like cooking. I remembered the tots in my freezer. ¬†So while I ate my lunch, I took to the internet to search for a recipe. ¬†I was kind of overwhelmed by the number of them, but I read enough of them to get the general idea, and take what I liked from each of them to make my own version. ¬†What I did is in the recipe that follows.

Ingredients

Frozen Tater Tots – about 2/3 of a bag

1-1 1/2 lbs ground beef

onion

fresh mushrooms, sliced

3 cans condensed cream of mushroom soup

1-2 cloves garlic minced or the minced garlic in the jar is fine

cheese Рa bunch, maybe 2 cups shredded.  I used mozzarella because it was what I had on hand, but cheddar would be better.

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Start by browning the ground beef in a skillet.  Dice and add the onion and garlic.  Cook until meat is browned and veggies are tender. Drain if there is excess fat.

In a large bowl, combine soups and cheese.  Add tater tots and stir until they are all evenly coated.

Spread ground beef in the bottom of a 9×13 casserole dish. ¬†Add tater tot mixture on top and spread to cover beef.

Bake uncovered for at least an hour, until bubbly and hot and browned a bit on top.

Remove from oven and allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.

 

It was great with a bit of ketchup.  All the measurements (as you can see) are approximate and can be adjusted to your taste, as I just kind of threw it together.

This recipe has the possibility of being personalized any way you like it. ¬†You could add other vegetables – a layer of corn between the beef and tots would be good. ¬†Extra cheese on top while baking would also be very good, but I ran out. ¬†This would also be good with a bit of sausage meat mixed in with the beef, or if you’re feeling particularly sassy (and breakfasty) to replace it altogether. Cooking is all about making things your own. ¬†Try, and enjoy! ūüôā

 

Chicken Mushroom Alfredo Bake

I was in the mood for some creamy comfort food yesterday, so I wandered around the grocery store throwing things in my basket with a general idea in mind. I came home and made this. It's a keeper for sure.

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 bag Penne – cooked
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 – 2 lb mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 jars Classico roasted garlic Alfredo sauce or similar
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 1 – 2 tbsp margarine or butter, melted
  • 1/2 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs

Directions:

Clean chicken, and pound out slightly between plastic wrap to make thinner. Season with salt and pepper and brown each side in hot olive oil over medium high heat. Remove to a small plate and set aside. Add mushrooms to pan and sauté until slightly tender. Cube chicken and add it and whatever juices have rendered back to the pan.

Add sauce, cheese, and cooked pasta. Stir until all pasta is evenly coated. Pour into 9×13 baking dish.

Combine margarine, garlic and breadcrumbs. Sprinkle over pasta mixture.

Bake in a preheated 400¬į oven for about 20 minutes, until breadcrumbs have browned nicely.

This is quick, easy, and great warmed up as leftovers too.

 

Not Your Boring Old Meatloaf

Meatloaf is a funny thing.  I find most people either really love meatloaf, or it makes them shiver from the memory of having to force it down as a child.

The reality is, that a good meatloaf recipe is very useful to have on hand. ¬†It often contains ingredients that we keep on hand in our pantry or refrigerator, and is a wonderful comfort food meal on a blustery winter day. ¬†I know it’s summer, but I make it quite often on a day that is too rainy for grilling.

This is a combination of the meatloaf recipe that I grew up with, combined with a few things I’ve picked up along the way. ¬†I have no measurements to give you, so I’ll try my best to guess as close as possible. ¬†The best thing to do with meatloaf is to try it, and then add your own personal touches.

Ingredients:

1 – 1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef – it really doesn’t matter how much you use as this will not have to fit in a loaf pan. ¬†If you’ve got an army to feed, use as much as you like and adjust the other ingredients accordingly.

1-2 egg yolks

2 slices white bread, put to soak in milk – just put the bread in a bowl and cover them with milk.

1 pkg. onion soup mix

1 tbsp granulated garlic

1/2 cup ketchup (BBQ sauce can also be used)

4 or 5 good shakes of Worchestershire sauce – be generous

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Glaze: (make according to size of loaf)

2 parts ketchup

1 part mustard

sprinkle (about 1/4 tsp) nutmeg

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine meat with all ingredients. ¬†Add the bread, but not the milk. ¬†Mix together with your hands, making sure that the bread is broken up and all ingredients are evenly distributed throughout the meat. ¬†Don’t overwork the mixture, or it will toughen. ¬†If you feel it needs more moisture, you can add some of the reserved milk.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.  Transfer meat mixture to baking sheet and form into an even log shape.  Mix together ingredients for glaze and cover loaf completely.

Bake for an hour to an hour and a half, depending on the size of the loaf.  Remove from oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes or so.

Best served with potatoes Рscalloped or mashed.  Garlic mashed is even better.

There are so many variations you can do with this.

You can use different kinds of meat, a mixture of beef and pork, ground chicken, sausage meat mixed in, the possibilities are endless.  I once saw Tyler Florence drape strips of bacon over his meatloaf, which would add amazing flavour, and prevent drying out.

If you want to go Italian style, omit the ketchup and add some of your favourite pasta sauce, bump up the Parmesan cheese, and add some Italian seasonings.

You could go southwest style and add salsa and some Cheddar cheese to the mix, using salsa as the glaze as well.

Ground turkey or chicken would be amazing with some smoky cumin or curry powder mixed in.

To kick it up a notch, fry up some onions and mushrooms until they’re¬†caramelized¬†and throw them in. ¬†Or serve with them drizzled on top.

So if you aren’t sure if you like meatloaf, give it a chance. ¬†Start out with a basic recipe like this one and go from there, developing it based on your tastes. ¬†There is no right or wrong! ¬†Enjoy! ¬†If you have any suggestions, please feel free to post them in the comments.