March 27, 2017

Healthier Taco Pasta

8-12 oz. large shell pasta (or other type of pasta)
3/4 Lb. lean ground beef or ground turkey
1 packet of taco seasoning
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. onion powder
pepper, to taste
1 Tbl. brown sugar, opt.
1/2 c. hot pasta water 
1 can low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can mild Rotel, un-drained
1 heaping cup low-fat cottage cheese
2 Tbl. chopped cilantro

Cook pasta according to package directions; reserving 1/2 cup hot water.  Meanwhile, brown ground beef or turkey in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the taco seasoning, cumin, onion powder, some black pepper and brown sugar.  Carefully add 1/2 cup of the hot pasta water to the skillet and stir to combine; allow to simmer for a few minutes.  It should be thickened at this point.  Stir in the beans, Rotel, cottage cheese and cilantro.  Continue to heat over medium heat and add the drained, cooked pasta.  Stir until pasta is evenly coated in sauce.  The sauce should be thick and creamy, but if it isn't, simmer for a few minutes until thickened.  Serves 4-5

March 26, 2017

Chocolate Whoopie Cake

1 (15.25 oz.) box chocolate fudge cake mix
1 (3.9 oz.) box instant chocolate fudge pudding mix
3/4 c. water
3/4 c. vegetable or canola oil
4 large eggs
1 c. sour cream (or Greek yogurt)
1 tsp. vanilla

Marshmallow Creme Filling:
10 Tbl. unsalted butter, room temperature
1 (7 oz.) carton marshmallow creme
pinch of salt
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 c. powdered sugar

Chocolate Ganache:
1/2 c. chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate)
3 Tbl. whipping cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  For the Cake: Grease and flour a 12-cup bundt pan; set aside.  In a large bowl, combine the dry cake mix, dry pudding mix, water, oil, eggs, sour cream and vanilla.  Using a hand mixer, mix until all ingredients are completely incorporated and mixture is smooth.  Pour batter into the prepared bundt pan and spread out evenly.  It is a very thick batter.  Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove from oven and cool in pan for 10 minutes, then invert to a wire rack and cool completely.  Once cake is cool, slice in half horizontally. 

For the Marshmallow Creme Filling:  In a large bowl, using a hand mixer, mix butter until smooth.  Add the marshmallow creme, salt and vanilla and mix until well combined.  Add one cup of powdered sugar and mix until combined.  Add remaining one cup of powdered sugar and mix until smooth and creamy.  Spread filling over the bottom half of the cake and place top half of cake over the creme filling. 

For the Chocolate Ganache:  Place chocolate chips in a small bowl; set aside.  Microwave whipping cream in a small, microwave-safe, dish until it starts to bubble.  Pour hot cream over chocolate chips and allow to sit for 5 minutes.  Stir together until smooth and creamy.  If chocolate chips aren't completely melted.  Place in the microwave and heat, stirring every 10 seconds until mixture is smooth and chocolate is melted.  Allow to cool for 10 minutes or until slightly thickened and pour over cake.  Store cake in the refrigerator.  Bring to room temperature before serving.

March 25, 2017

Orange Dreamsicle Bars

3/4 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
2 c. packed light brown sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 Tbl. orange zest (zest of two oranges)
3 1/2 c. all-purpose flour 
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbl. baking powder  
1 (12 oz.) bag white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream together butter and brown sugar until very light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at at time, beating until combined.  Mix in the vanilla and orange zest.  Add the flour, salt and baking powder and mix until just combined.  Stir in the white chocolate chips.  Press dough evenly into a lightly greased 9x13-inch baking pan.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Cool completely.  Cut into bars and serve.

Orange Dreamsicle Cookies

2 1/4 c. flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. light brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 - 2 Tbl. grated orange zest 
1 1/2 c. white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.  In a large bowl, cream together the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and vanilla and mix until combined.  Add the orange zest.  Gradually add the flour mixture and beat thoroughly.  Stir in the white chocolate chips.  Using a small ice cream scoop, drop dough onto a lightly greased cookie sheet.  Bake 10-11 minutes.  Yield: around 30 cookies

March 17, 2017

Kathy's mexican dip

8 oz. cream cheese softened
2 Tbs. Miracle Whip

Mix together in bottom of pie plate

Pour salsa over

Add shredded cheddar cheese on top

microwave until cheese melts on top (3-5 minutes)

Special thanks to Kathy Hughes

March 16, 2017

Irish Cottage Pie

  • 1.5 lb. ground sirloin
  • 3 tbsp. Kerrygold Unsalted Butter
  • 1 tbsp. The Fresh Market Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 c. sweet onion, chopped (about ½ large onion)
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 2 c. carrots, peeled and diced (about 2 large carrots)
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 5 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ c. The Fresh Market Beef Stock
  • 1 c. Guinness
  • 1 tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 c. The Fresh Market Frozen Green Peas
  • 1 ½ lbs. red potatoes
  • 1 c. Kerrygold Dubliner Cheese, shredded
Preheat oven to 375F. Heat a Dutch oven or large, wide skillet over medium high heat. Add beef and cook until crumbled and no longer pink. Drain beef of any excess grease and transfer to plate.
To the same pan add olive oil and butter. When butter melts add onion, celery, carrots, salt and pepper and sauté until vegetables begin to soften and brown, about 7-10 minutes. Add garlic and tomato paste and cook until garlic is fragrant, about 3 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium and add flour, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Vegetable mixture will become very thick. Whisk in beef stock, beer, rosemary, thyme and bay leaves. Use a wooden spoon to scrape any bits from the bottom of the pan.
Stir in beef and peas. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook 7-10 minutes. While mixture simmers and thickens, thinly slice red potatoes (the thinner the better).
Spoon mixture into a 10 x 13” or 10 inch round baking dish, both at least 2 inches deep. Top with sliced potatoes, heavily overlapping each. Sprinkle cheese evenly over potatoes. Cover dish loosely with aluminum foil and place on a baking sheet. Bake 30 minutes, remove foil and return to oven for additional 30 minutes or until pie is bubbling and potatoes are nicely browned.
Remove from oven and allow to rest a minimum of 20 minutes before serving.

March 13, 2017

Tortellini Salad

Mix together in big bowl:
2 frozen bags cheese tortellini – cooked al dente (don’t want to overcook)
From deli: ¼ inch – ½ inch chunk genoa salami & provolone cheese (chop into little squares)
4-5 Mozzarella String Cheese each cut in chunks (optional)
Parmesan or Romano cheese: shredded & chopped into really small squares
Artichoke hearts (I use larger can of Cento or ½ big glass jar from Sams) chopped
1 can medium black olives (keep whole or cut each one in half)
1 tomato chopped or I like to use sundried tomatoes (that are re-hydrated) chopped
15-20 fresh basil leaves torn into pieces (if you use dried add with spices in jar below)
(You can add anything to your taste-chopped fresh red or green pepper, celery etc)

Shake together in jar:  ( just stirring together doesn’t seem to work as well)
¼ cup red wine vinegar (I like the Italian brands)
¾ cup olive oil
2 T or more of balsamic vinegar (no caramel color in it!!)
2 crushed garlic cloves
½ tsp or more of dried oregano
S&P to taste
Onion powder – couple of shakes
Garlic powder – couple of shakes

Pour the marinade over the tortellini & stir gently (If the salad is for the next day, I refrigerate around ¼ of the marinade to pour over the salad the next morning and stir into salad gently)

This is all kind of approximate since I don’t measure, so it will be to your taste whether you need to add more spices!!  I hope you enjoy!! 

Thank you for Valerie Purcell

March 10, 2017

White Castle Sliders

1/2 - cup (or more!) dried onion flakes
2 - pounds ground chuck (I think I only use 1 pound!!)
Salt, pepper, garlic powder
6 - slices American cheese
12 - small party rolls (I use Hawaiian Sweet rolls)
dill pickle slices

Evenly spread the onions on the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Gently press the ground beef on top of the onion flakes. Press evenly making one giant patty. 

Sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder.  

Bake in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes. (meat will shrink!) 

Top with cheese, return to oven for 2 more minutes.  Remove from oven, let set 5 minutes then cut into patties (3 down 4 across total of 12!). 

Slice open and separate each party roll. Place bottom of rolls on a large platter. Using a spatula lift patty with onion layer onto each bun bottom.

Top each slider with a pickle slice then the bun lid. Serve immediately. Makes 12 sliders.

Thanks to Valerie Purcell