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!

 

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.

 

Tomato Salad

This is a quick and easy one. ¬†So simple, and it goes over great during the summer at barbecues and potlucks. ¬†We tease my Mom because once we were having a conversation about what food we’ll be remembered for when we’re gone. ¬†She was concerned that there wouldn’t be a “special dish” that would inspire us all to think about her when we ate it. ¬†My husband said to her, “don’t worry Cathie, you’ll always be remembered for your tomato salad!”

Don’t blink or you’ll miss this one – it’s that quick to throw together.

Ingredients

2-3 tomatoes or more – depending on size

1/2 large or 1-2  small onions (red onions or really sweet onions are best)

1 bottle vinaigrette salad dressing (I most prefer Kraft Sundried Tomato and Oregano for this)

Directions

Slice tomatoes and onions.  Layer in a casserole (like French White) with a lid.

Pour entire bottle of dressing over the tomatoes and onions.

Cover and refrigerate at least 1-2 hours.

 

That’s it! ¬†The longer this stuff sits, the better it is. ¬†It’s even better the next day, so if you can make it the morning of, or even the night before, it’s best.

If you’re having burgers, some of us like to put this salad directly on our burgers for extra zing.

Enjoy!

Stuffed Burgers

Not quite “The Full Monty,” but pretty good nonetheless!

It’s my hubby’s birthday today, and he has requested for his dinner tonight, these stuffed burgers. ¬†He will have to barbecue them, but he doesn’t mind at all, because the payoff is amazing.

Please keep in mind that these are just my version of these burgers, and you could change them up in hundreds of different ways. ¬†Different meats, different stuffings, etc. ¬†You’re only limited by your imagination!

Notes in blue I’ve added after making them last night.

Ingredients:

2 lbs lean ground beef I actually used one package, about a pound.

1 lb, or 4-6 links of your favourite sausages, removed from the casings – I actually used a little more than a pound, I found this in bulk in the meat section of the grocery store. ¬†There was more sausage in these burgers than beef last night…and they were so good! ūüôā

2 eggs РTo be honest, once I got home I realized I had no eggs, so I took a chance and omitted them, as opposed to going back out to the store.  The burgers were fine without them.

a healthy shake of Worchestershire sauce

salt and pepper

1-2 onions, sliced finely

1 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced – I forgot to add before that once the mushrooms are sauteed, I chopped them slightly so that they weren’t so big inside the burger, and were more the same size as the bacon and onion.

4-6 slices cooked bacon, crumbled

1 cup or so cheddar or marble cheese, shredded.

Directions:

In a hot skillet, heat some vegetable oil.  Add  onions and cook slowly until caramelized.  Set aside.  In same skillet, saute mushrooms until tender.  Once cooled, add mushrooms, onions, bacon and the cheese and mix together in a medium sized bowl.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine meats, eggs and Worchestershire sauce.  Combine together until well incorporated and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Divide meat into equal sized portions.  With this much meat you could probably make 8 or so burgers.  Take a portion and flatten it out on your hand.  Take a good bunch of the filling and set it in the center of the patty.  Then wrap the meat up around the filling, and roll like a large meatball in your hand.  Make sure there is no filling peeking out anywhere and it is sealed completely.  Carefully flatten the patty between your hands or using something flat, like a large can or plate.

The most important thing is that when the burgers go on the grill, that there is no sign of filling, almost like you wouldn’t know they’re stuffed. ¬†The filling has to melt inside the burger and cook in there. ¬†If there is any cracks or anything, the filling will leak out, and you’ll lose it.

Cook on barbecue until desired doneness.  Serve on large toasted Kaiser rolls with your favourite burger side.  Sweet potato fries would be good. What I did this time, was butter my buns and throw them in a frying pan for a few minutes so the inside looked kind of like what a grilled cheese looks like.  I find it easier this way, because buns can burn quickly on the grill, and buttering them adds just a tiny bit of crunch and so much flavour.

Change this up any way you want.  Use different cheeses, different veggies, sundried tomatoes or roasted red peppers would be good.  Gorgonzola cheese would be awesome too.

I’d love to hear your suggestions for alternative stuffings, meats, etc.

Enjoy!

My Family’s Version of “Goulash”

Growing up, my parents owned a business, and spent many hours there.  Often times, my Mom would resort to quick, go to meals, because by the time we all got home, not only was everyone tired, and sometimes a little grouchy, we were always hungry.

We always had homemade spaghetti sauce in the freezer, so many weeks we would have spaghetti 3 times, just because it was easy. ¬†This recipe we always called “Goulash,” though I don’t think it actually resembles authentic goulash that much at all. ¬†We just called it that because we didn’t have another name for it.

It is a great go-to meal and I still crave it sometimes. ¬†It’s made with staples that most people keep on hand all the time and can literally go from walking through the door to sitting down eating in 20 minutes. ¬†And some nights, quick, easy, tasty and filling is totally where it’s at.

Ingredients:

1 pkg. lean or extra lean ground beef

granulated garlic

1 large can tomato soup

1 can beans in tomato sauce

3 cups 5 minute instant rice

Directions:

Brown ground beef in large skillet with cover.  Season with granulated garlic to taste.  Once browned, add soup and beans.  Stir to combine.  Allow to simmer for 5 minutes or so.

Serve over cooked rice.

 

That’s it, that’s all. ¬†And I’m telling you, it’s soooo good.

Enjoy!

If you’ve got a similar “family favourite” I would love to hear about it in the comments section.

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.

 

Chicken Lasagna

My dear friend J and her family had my family over to dinner one night and she made this delicious dish.  We totally fell in love with this dish and after weeks of serious badgering she finally cracked and gave me the recipe.  (Just kidding Jennifer Рjust kidding!)

This is a wonderful – if not healthy – alternative to traditional lasagna. ¬†If I’m having a large group, I like to make both and give people the option of having a little of each.

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients:

3 pkg. Hollandaise Sauce (I use Knorr) – prepared.

1 tbsp olive or vegetable oil

1 lb fresh mushrooms, or 2 cans of canned.

One onion, diced

2-3 cloves minced garlic

1 pkg lasagna noodles

2-3 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed

2 cans asparagus, drained

2 cups mozzarella cheese, grated

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried basil

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Preheat a skillet and add oil to the hot pan. ¬†Saute mushrooms, onion and garlic until tender. ¬†Set aside. ¬†If you use lasagna noodles that you have to boil, cook them till just shy of al dente in a large pot of salted water. ¬†Some prefer to use ready bake ones, that’s fine too.

In a lasagna dish, put a bit of Hollandaise sauce in the bottom. ¬†Line the bottom of the dish with noodles. ¬†From there, just go about assembling the lasagna as you normally would, layering the sauteed vegetables, chicken, cheeses, asparagus and spices. ¬†Make sure you add layers of the sauce in between as well. ¬†Add all the ingredients evenly so you have a nice balanced lasagna. ¬†You’ll want to finish with the cheeses on top.

Bake uncovered for about 45 minutes, until hot and bubbly and when you insert a sharp knife in the center, the noodles should be cooked throughly.

Allow to sit and cool for a few minutes before serving.  It goes great with a salad and garlic bread.

It’s pretty hard not to like this decadent dish. ¬†It definitely is not something you want to be eating 4 times a week – your arteries won’t thank you for that, but it is delicious and wonderful for that special company or special occasion. ¬†Or simply when you feel like treating yourself.

Enjoy!