Tortellini Spinach Bake…

A quick and easy baked pasta dish with cheese tortellini, fresh spinach, and yellow peppers tossed in a creamy, tangy tomato sauce. Perfect for busy weeknights!

Tortellini Spinach Bake

Cassidy is currently pushing through 4 teeth at once. Her incisors, to be exact. She usually teethes pretty hard (congestion, runny nose, rashes, fever, etc), but this time seems to be much worse. She hasn’t been acting like herself in days, not to mention, her little nose has been like a leaky faucet non-stop. Have you ever gotten ‘eskimo kisses’ from a toddler with a snotty nose? Not the most pleasant, but I’ll be darned if I deny my sweet baby girl her eskimo kisses!

Anyway, with Cassidy feeling under the weather, I haven’t had much time to cook. It’s times like these that I love baked pastas. I can pull out a bag of frozen tortellini and toss it with whatever I have in my fridge or pantry and dinner’s DONE! That leaves me plenty of extra time for cuddles! :)

Tortellini Spinach Bake 2

Tortellini Spinach Bake

1 lb. cheese tortellini
2 large handfuls fresh spinach leaves, washed
1 red or yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 26-oz. jar marinara sauce
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×13 inch pan with cooking spray. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the tortellini for about 6 minutes (you don’t want to completely cook them). Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the marinara sauce, then stir in the bell peppers, spinach, and cream cheese.

Add the cooked tortellini and toss to coat. Spread the mixture in the prepared pan and top with the shredded mozzarella. Cover with foil and bake for about 20 minutes, until bubbly. Serves 6.

Recipe source: Sing For Your Supper original

Tortellini Spinach Bake 2

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Cheesy Squash Casserole…

Squash Casserole

Mmmm, gooey, cheesy goodness. My mom always used to fix squash like this we when were growing up. It usually accompanied fried okra and potatoes, cornbread, and fresh, sliced tomatoes. One of my all-time favorite meals. I believe this recipe originally came from my dad’s grandmother. So simple and comforting…and only 5 ingredients! The BEST way to eat summer squash, in my opinion! :)

Cheesy Squash Casserole

5-6 summer squashes, sliced into 1/2-inch slices
half an onion, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
5 or 6 saltine crackers, crushed
1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese, plus more for top

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the squash and onion in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook for about 10-15 minutes, until squash is tender. Drain.
Stir in the butter, cracker crumbs, and 1/3 cup cheese. Pour into a greased baking dish and top with a little more cheese. Bake for about 10 minutes, until cheese is melty and gooey. Serves 4-6.

Recipe source: my great-grandmother

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Easy Mexican Casserole…

Here’s another one of my mom’s recipes. She’s made this one for as long as I can remember and my family has always loved it! Mexican Casserole. It’s super easy to make and always a crowd-pleaser. If you ever need a dish for a large crowd, I’d recommend this one- you can double or triple the recipe and even make it ahead of time. My mom makes a big one and freezes the leftovers- it keeps beautifully! Perfect for potlucks, Mexican-themed dinner parties or even Sunday Night Football!

My Mom’s Mexican Casserole

1 pound lean ground beef
1 can Ranch Style beans
1 10-12 ounce bag tortilla chips, crushed
1 can Ro-tel tomatoes
1 small onion, chopped
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1 package taco seasoning
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup water
sour cream and salsa for serving

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large skillet, brown meat and drain off fat. Stir in beans, tomatoes, onion, taco seasoning, soup and water. Simmer over medium-low heat until everything is well combined and heated through.

Grease a 9×13 casserole dish. Put down a layer of crushed tortilla chips, followed by a layer of the meat/bean mixture, then half of the cheddar cheese. Repeat layers. Cover with foil and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until bubbly.
Let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving. Top with sour cream and salsa. Enjoy!

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Game-Day Mexican Cornbread Skillet Pie…

The weather is (slowly) changing from boiling hot to cool and crisp, every Saturday from here until Thanksgiving will be taken up with us either road-tripping to College Station, Tx or glued to the T.V., there’s an obscenely large, menacing maroon and white flag flying proudly in our front yard, and my husband has turned from being a mature, respectable man into a squealing 8 year-old child. This can only mean one thing: it’s Aggie football season, indeed. Yes, friends, my husband and I are Aggies. Big ones. My hubby went to school there and even though I didn’t (there’s no music program to speak of, hardly), I come from a family of proud Aggies. Therefore, every September, we get serious about Fightin’ Texas Aggie Football.

This is our “Aggie shelf” in the living room- these were my granddad’s belongings from his days at A&M – yearbooks, (very old) stuffed animals and lots, lots more. We’re so proud to display his things in our home; Joel, especially.

Football food is SO good (which, by the way, if you love it as much as I do, check out my “Football Food” tag! Lots of game-day goodies in there!). There’s nothing better than having some friends over to watch the game and eat good food – like this pie! It’s an old family favorite that gets made a lot around football season. I love the layer of spicy beef and cheddar cheese- it has SO much flavor! The good news is, this keeps really well in the fridge- just pop the leftovers back in the oven for 10 or 15 minutes and it’s just as moist and flavorful as it was the first day- maybe even better!

Game-Day Mexican Cornbread Skillet Pie

1 1/2 cups cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup oil
1 cup sour cream
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 can cream style corn
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 small can green chiles

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 pound lean ground beef
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
dash cayenne pepper
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the first 8 ingredients in a bowl and set aside. In a medium pan, saute the onions, garlic and peppers over medium-high heat until soft. Add in the ground beef and cook through. Drain off grease and stir in the tomatoes, cumin, chili powder, black pepper, salt and cayenne pepper. Remove from heat.
Grease a cast iron skillet (or any oven-safe skillet) and sprinkle the bottom with a little cornmeal. Spread half of the cornbread mixture, followed by the beef mixture. Top with the cheddar cheese, then spread the remaining cornbread mixture over the top. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until golden brown. Enjoy in front of the T.V. while cheering for your favorite football team! Serves 4.

Recipe source: Sing For Your Supper original (though technically I guess I can’t take credit since my mom has been making it for years!)

Gig ‘Em and God Bless! ;)

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Is It Fall Yet??

I have a tendency to jump the gun sometimes…my husband would tell you I start listening to Christmas music entirely too early (which I think is debatable), I always buy Spring flowers and potted plants when it’s still too chilly out, and I start cooking/baking with pumpkin, apples and butternut squash when it’s still 90 degrees.  It’s just that I get excited about seasons! It happens every year (especially when Fall comes around!) and this year is no exception.

cornpie1

I’ve had this recipe saved for about a year now.  I copied it out of my mother’s Southern Living magazine last Fall and somehow just now got around to making it. Chicken and Corn Pie with Cornbread Topping…mmm, now doesn’t that sound yummy?? And it was, too – really yummy, actually! But after making it, I realized (ok, ok, so I pretty much knew all along…) that it really is a dish that is better served when it’s chilly or cold outside – however, I just couldn’t wait that long! I’m ready for Fall now! The filling is more like a thick stew (which I love!) and the cornbread topping is really cheesy and yummy- and the great thing is, it’s really versatile- you could put in ground beef, or another kind of vegetable…lots of possibilities! I think this would be a perfect dish for watching a football game when it’s nice and chilly outside! In fact, I’ll probably serve this again when the hubby and I are at home watching the Fightin’ Texas Aggies one saturday!

cornpie2

Chicken and Corn Pie with Cornbread Topping
-Southern Living Magazine, October 2008

1 (10-oz.) can enchilada sauce
1 (10-oz.) can Rotel Tomatoes
2 cups frozen whole kernel corn
1 teaspoon chili powder
3 cups chopped cooked chicken (2- 12.5-oz. cans chicken, drained, may be substituted)
1 (6-oz.) package Mexican-style cornbread mix
2/3 cup milk
1 large egg
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup (4 oz.) shredded Mexican four-cheese blend, divided

Preheat oven to 375°. Stir together enchilada sauce and next 3 ingredients in a 3 1/2-qt. saucepan over medium heat until combined; cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes. Stir in chicken.
Whisk together cornbread mix, next 3 ingredients, and 3/4 cup cheese in a small bowl just until blended.
Pour chicken mixture into a lightly greased 11×7 inch baking dish. Spoon cornbread mixture over hot chicken mixture. Sprinkle evenly with remaining 1/4 cup cheese.
Bake at 375° for 30 minutes or until golden and bubbly. Serve with sour cream and jalapeno peppers if desired.

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"No Soup" Tuna Casserole

Mother Nature threw me a curve ball last week. We had been enjoying our first days of perfect Spring weather here – I was working on lots of projects outside in the sun, taking our dog on lots of walks, eating dinner al fresco…it was great; then the next week – BAM! 40 degree weather, high winds, cold rain and dark skies. Bummer. You know what they say – “If you don’t like the weather in Texas, just wait…” You can always count on Texas weather to be weird, wacky and ever-changing. So I just decided to make the best out of the situation and make a delicious, comforting tuna casserole for dinner (I love a hearty casserole when the weather is bad…makes you feel all warm and cozy). So as I was searching for recipes, it seemed like every single one went something like this: 1 can tuna, 1 can cream of mushroom soup, 1 package noodles. Sorry, but no thanks. I needed a serious casserole for some serious weather (Not that I have a problem with condensed soups…I use them in a few things!) So I googled “no soup tuna casserole” – and actually found a few good ones! Including this one:

This was hands-down the best tuna casserole I’ve had yet! And hubby went nuts over it- he said, “I really appreciate a good tuna casserole, and this one is awesome!” That’s all a girl needs to hear, in my opnion. This came together in no time and it keeps really well in the fridge if you have leftovers. I highly recommend this casserole – it’s just perfect all around!

Tuna Casserole

8oz Spaghetti, broken into 4ths
1/2 an onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 package (or 1 small can) mushrooms, diced
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 small can sliced black olives (optional)
3 oz butter
5 tbsp flour
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 cup milk
Handful chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 cans tuna, drained and flaked
Panko bread crumbs, sautéed in butter until beginning to brown

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Cook spaghetti as directed on package.  Drain and rinse with cold water.  Set aside.
Melt butter in a large saucepan and add onions and pepper.  Sauté for a few minutes until beginning to soften.  Add mushrooms, peas and olives.  Sauté for another minute or two.  Add in flour and cook for a further two minutes.  Slowly stir in the stock, then the milk.  Bring up to a boil until thickened, then remove from heat.  Stir in parsley, tuna and cheese. Season with salt and pepper.

Add spaghetti to the pot and stir to coat.
Place in buttered casserole dish and sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top.
Bake for ten to fifteen minutes until top is golden.
*Alternately, you can skip the bread crumbs on top and just top with additional cheddar cheese, which I like to do often.

Recipe source: adapted from Tast.ie

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My First Shepherd’s Pie…

As you all know, yesterday was Saint Patrick’s Day (did you wear your green???). This holiday doesn’t really mean much to me (although it probably should, since I have a good chunk of Irish in me) and I don’t normally do anything to celebrate it except for pinching my hubby for not wearing green…hehe. In fact, I didn’t even have a single “Irish festivity” or dish planned for the occasion…until I saw this recipe for Shepherd’s Pie on one of my absolute favorite food blogs, For the Love of Cooking (apparently a lot of people like to make this dish on St. Patrick’s Day). Honestly, I’ve never really been “attracted” to shepherd’s pie…it never really looked appetizing to me – until yesterday. This recipe and the great-looking pictures really made me think twice about whether or not I wanted to try it. Amazingly enough, I happened to have all the ingredients I needed for it and I thought, “oh.. what the heck!” and set out to make my first shepherd’s pie.

The verdict: it was really easy and absolutely SCRUMPTIOUS! Hubby and I both loved it. I think the milk, cheese, butter and sour cream in the mashed potato topping was what really made it extra special. This is one of our new favorites!

Shepherd’s Pie
-For the Love of Cooking

Mashed Potato Topping:
5-6 large potatoes, peeled and cut into thirds
1/4 cup of milk
3 tbsp sour cream
2-3 tbsp Irish garlic and herb butter (or regular butter)
1/2 cup Irish extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated
Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper

Boil a large pot of water. Peel the potatoes and cut into thirds. Boil the potatoes for 10-12 minutes or until fork tender. Drain potatoes and place back into the pan. Add the milk, sour cream, butter, cheddar cheese, sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper then mash with a masher or blend with a mixer until creamy and smooth. Cover with a lid and set aside.

Meat Filling and Sauce:

1 tsp olive oil
1/2 sweet yellow onion, diced (I didn’t have onion so I just used onion powder)
2 large carrots, diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced (I used garlic powder)
1 1/2 lbs of lean ground beef
1-2 tsp Worcestershire sauce (I doubled this)
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
2 tbsp Irish garlic and herb butter (or regular butter)
2 tbsp flour
1 1/4 cup beef broth (I only had chicken broth, but it worked really well!)

While the potatoes are cooking, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots and celery then cook until tender, about 4-5 minutes. Add the lean ground beef and cook thoroughly. Add the salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce.
Once the beef is done cooking, mix the peas into the mixture until well combined. Pour the beef filling into a large baking dish and set aside. In the same skillet over medium heat, add the 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of flour. Mix thoroughly then slowly add the beef broth. Season with sea salt and pepper (I also added a few shakes of Worcestershire). Pour the sauce over the beef mixture and mix thoroughly. Top the beef and vegetable mixture with the mashed potatoes. Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes before serving. Enjoy.

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Easy Weeknight Casserole…

This is one of our favorite easy weeknight meals – I don’t make it that often, but it’s always so tasty and comforting when I do! You remember how I’ve told you I didn’t really know how to cook when I was first married, right? Well, this casserole was the first homemade meal I ever made for hubby after we got married – I didn’t read the directions closely enough, which resulted in a slightly “crunchy” texture (ok not so slight…more like, “woah, why the heck are these noodles so freaking CRUNCHY?”), because I didn’t boil the noodles before putting them in the dish. Niiiiiiice, Amy.  And the funny thing is, it took me forever to realize that I had even made the mistake – all this time I had been thinking it was a typ-o or something in the recipe! HA! So I have a little note written in my recipe book saying, “it might be a good idea to put all the noodles on the bottom – otherwise they’re kind of crunchy…” Hahahahaha!! So, after giving it a second chance – this turned out to be one of our favorites and now it brings back all kinds of ooey gooey nostalgia when I make it. Joel likes to make fun of me, actually….

You can make all kinds of variations with this recipe – turkey instead of beef, different kinds of pasta, you can add other kinds of vegetables – peas might be good! Lots of things! And as usual, it’s super easy to make. I made it for my mom when she was visiting once, and now she makes it all the time! Give it a try – the sour cream might sound weird to you, but trust me, it’s goo-ooooood!

Easy Weeknight Casserole
-Gooseberry Patch “Best-Ever Casseroles”

1-1/2 pounds lean, ground beef (I like to use turkey a lot, too)
14-1/2 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1-1/2 cups sour cream (I always use low-fat)
3 oz. package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup onion, chopped (I leave this out and just use onion powder)
8 oz. package medium egg noodles C-O-O-K-E-D. Did you get that?- COOKED!
1-1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Brown beef in a large skillet over medium heat; drain. Add tomatoes, salt and sugar; reduce to low heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Set aside. Combine sour cream, cream cheese and onion in a bowl; mix well and set aside. Place half of the (COOKED) noodles in a lightly greased 13×9 baking dish; top with meat mixture, then sour cream mixture. Layer remaining (COOKED) noodles over top; sprinkle with cheese and bake at 350 for 25 minutes. Serves 6. Enjoy!

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