Taco Lasagna

August 10, 2011 at 8:26 pm (cooking) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

Recipe obtained and modified from my fantastic friend Tanya to omit the spice. You can add it back in with adding red pepper flakes and using pepper jack cheese. My family does not handle heat well. (To keep flavor, I also used real veggies and not just dried spices! Huzzah~!) I can handle the heat how Tanya originally made it, but the family cannot, and this turned out just as tasty! I am ecstatic!

Let’s get started!

3/4lb lean ground beef (97%)
3/4lb ground beef (80%)
package of whole wheat tortillas
sour cream
corn (about 1/2 bag of frozen, I used white sweet.)
1 can of black beans
onion powder
garlic salt
red pepper (optional for spice)
enchilada sauce (red) (or optional spicy taco sauce. I know us wimps can handle the mild red enchilada sauce!!)
extra virgin olive oil
1/5 green bell pepper, minced
1/4 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
Monterey Jack cheese (for optional spice, use pepper jack, is delicious!)

Time to cook!

I chose to first get my veggies ready, then I heated up my pan with a little olive oil.

After the pan was nice and warm, (okay, so water sizzled when I flicked it in) I mostly-cooked the veggies, adding some cumin and paprika to them. Next, add the beef and brown it, adding in more cumin and paprika, as well as oregano, garlic salt, and onion powder. You will also want to add some enchilada or taco sauce at this point, cook it in. (Don’t forget, please, that this is all to taste!)

Add about 1/4-1/3c of water. I used 1/4c, since I had used a mix of lean and regular ground beef. 🙂 I like me my beefy goodness! Keep tasting; I wound up adding salt, cumin, and paprika along with some more oregano.

Add in the can of (strained) black beans, and your desired amount of corn. (My mom really likes corn!)

Simmer a bit, keep tasting; I ended up adding more enchilada sauce.

Turn off the stove.

In your casserole dish:
Brush the bottom with olive oil. In order to fix the “bottom tortilla is hard” issue, I also added two generous dollops of sour cream mixed with enchilada sauce. Worked perfectly!!!

Cut some tortillas in half, line bottom of your casserole dish. (works well with any pan style! I had nice straight edges, woot! I think I used 4 tortillas per layer?)

Spread about 1/2 of your meat mixture on top. Pipe on some sour cream. Sprinkle with cheese (again, your choice…mexican mix, pepperjack, or monterey jack…). Add another layer of tortillas. Spread on the remaining half of your meat mixture. Sprinkle with cheese.

((Originally, I added sour cream at this layer, then sprinkled with cheese again. For future batches, I am omitting the sour cream and serving it a la carte because it looks funny. This also means the removal of the second layer of cheese on top, since it becomes kind of redundant, unless you REALLY like cheese.))

Now, you can either stick this directly in the oven, or cover and refridgerate for later.

In any case, oven needs to be headed to 350F. Bake 15-30 minutes or until cheese is melted and the casserole is cooked through.

Om nom nom! (See what I mean about the sour cream looking funny? I’ll just leave it baked in and for the top serve it cold lol)


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La la la Lasagna

June 1, 2011 at 9:35 pm (cooking) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

So, lasagna was on my list of “things I would like to learn how to make from scratch”.

I am pretty darn sure that I can cross it off now!

I had to look up the cheese filling ratio – glad I did, I didn’t know I needed an egg! The rest is based off of what I remember from the last time I made lasagna – from a children’s cookbook that I cannot locate, in I think middle school. ^^.; Go me, this came out REALLY tasty!

You will need: enough lasagna noodles to cover your pan 3 times. For me, this was 12 noodles. (Your pan may vary depending on size.) This was 4 across, with a little wiggle room at the edges of the pan. I decided that I was OK with that, and wasn’t going to OCD-fill EVERY POSSIBLE SPOT with pasta. Seriously. That was difficult for me!!!!

Sauce Ingredients:
1/3lb mild italian sausage (de-cased. For me, this was one sausage at the meat counter. If you dislike sausage, you may consider substituting an 80/20 ground beef. Personally, I enjoyed the sausage!).
3/4lb lean ground beef (the leanest I could get was sirloin. Mmmmm).
1/4 onion, diced.
1/5 green pepper, minced.
4 white mushrooms (these were on the large side), diced.
3lg cloves of garlic, minced.
1/6 whole carrot, minced.
1 can of tomato sauce
1 small can of tomato paste
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
a splash of Cranberry-Pomegranate juice
Kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper
Garlic Powder
Garlic Salt
Mrs. Dash Garlic & Herb
Ground Sage
Ground Ginger
(spices are to taste. Seriously, I can make this sauce by smell, although I do taste after it’s all together and simmered happily. Sorry.)

Cheese Filling Ingredients:
3/4c shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4c grated parmesan cheese
1 egg
16oz cottage cheese (I just don’t like ricotta)
1 tsp parsley (which means “Katie grabbed a hefty pinch and chucked it on top”)

Cheese Topping:
shredded mozzarella cheese
grated parmesan cheese

Alrighty. So, I boiled a pot of water, laid my lasagna noodles in the baking dish to see how many I’d need, then realized “oh…hey…oops…my pot isn’t tall enough for this”… so I boiled the water and just poured it over the noodles in the baking dish. (I’d seen this while looking up cheese filling! Yay internets!) I think I left them there about 20 minutes while I made the sauce. I wasn’t timing, just poking them with tongs to check, they weren’t fully cooked or anything when I took them from the water, but cooked enough to go limp if I picked them up. I’ll just say 20 minutes. =\

So, onto the sauce. First, I did all of my veggie chopping and dicing and mincing, putting them all into the glass bowl that I seem to use for veggie corralling while I do knifework. (I LOVE MY SHUN KNIVES!!!!!!!!!!) Then, while I heated the pan with a little olive oil in it, I de-cased the sausage.  Was fun, yet kinda gross. I wound up slicing the ends of the casing and squeezing from the middle out both ends. Next time, I’ll be smarter and cut a line down it and just peeling it…

Since the pan was nice and warm, I added the veggies and some kosher salt, got them started, then added the sausage and ground sirloin. Once those were starting to brown as I broke them all up with my utensil, I added the cranberry-pomegranate juice (I use this to replace red wines. It works really well!!).

At this point, I also added the spices.

After the meat was all happily browned up and the veggies cooked, I added the tomato sauce, mixed it in. Then, I added the tomato paste and mixed that in.

After it simmered for a bit, I wound up adding more basic, garlic powder, garlic salt, pepper, Mrs. Dash, paprika, and oregano. I always seem to add more of those lol. But I’d rather be safe than sorry! 😀

While the sauce simmered, I mixed up the ingredients for the cheese filling.

Once everything was done – noodles, sauce, cheese mixed, I took the noodles out of the pan, dumped out the water, dried the pan.

Then in this order:
first layer of noodles
half of the cheese filling
second layer of noodles
half of the cheese filling
third layer of noodles
Then I added mozzarella cheese (No, I didn’t measure, sorry. Just made it so it would melt nicely everywhere lol), and grated parmesan over it. Again, no measuring lol.

Then I baked it at 350F for what was set for 50 minutes, but turned out to be 40.

Remove from oven, let it cool for about 10 minutes.

Then serve and enjoy! (This was really tasty! I am quite pleased!!!!!)

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Angel Food Cake with Strawberries

April 25, 2011 at 9:53 am (cooking) (, , , , , , , , , )

Let’s face it – we like sweets. We also don’t want to be flabby and overweight.

So when we eat sweets, we feel bad. 😦

How about a luscious cake (or cupcakes!!) that are sweet and delicious and make you happy….all while being low calorie?

Yes, really. It tastes REALLY good. See?

1 box of angel food cake mix, plus whatever else you need. Usually water.
1 box low or non-fat chocolate pudding mix.
Skim milk to make that pudding mix.
Low or Non-Fat cool whip (small tub).
Fresh strawberries.

Mix together equal parts chocolate pudding and cool whip until smooth. Yeah, it’s that easy.

Alrighty. First things first. Do you have an angel food cake pan? No? Borrow one, if possible. Otherwise, you could try a bundt pan or a springform pan, but an angel food cake pan is best.

You could do these as cupcakes, too, but don’t use the little muffin cups. Doesn’t work well, to be honest.

In this method, we tried to make cupcakes, and used the rest of the batter to make a cake in a springform pan. I will say now that the batter fell and wasn’t all fluffy, so this cake is low and dense.

Cupcakes, filled and frosted:

Ideally, you will make this cake in an angel food cake pan, and cool upside down, then release from the pan.

Then, cut it in half horizontally, and dig a trench in the bottom half.

Fill the trench with the frosting and some cut up strawberries. Seal the layer with a little bit of frosting, and place the top back on.

Frost the outside, and decorate with strawberry slices.

Slice and enjoy!

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Blackberry-Lemon Porkchops and Fresh Dressing

April 19, 2011 at 7:43 pm (cooking) (, , , , , , , , , )


Here’s a nice picture of my half-eaten plate, lol:

You’re SO lucky it occurred to me to take a picture lol.


Blackberry-Lemon Sauce Ingredients:
1 tablespoon butter
1/2c low sodium chicken stock
1/2c blackberry jam (seedless)
white pepper (to taste)
kosher salt (to taste)

Pork Chop Ingredients:
1 tablespoon butter
kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper
all spice

Dressing Ingredients:
2 hamburger buns
1 stalk minced celery
either dried minced onion, or mince up some fresh (equal to celery)
low sodium chicken stock
the leftover butter in the pan from the porkchops

First, preheat the oven to 350F, for finishing the pork chops after searing.

Alrighty.  Pork chops.  I heated up the pan, and sprinkled one side of the chops with allspice (go easy on it), rosemary, pepper, and salt. I melted a tablespoon of butter in the pan, browned one side of the chops for about 2minutes I think. While side one cooked, I sprinkled the other with salt, pepper, and rosemary.

Then I browned the other side, didn’t take as long as the first lol. Then I put them on a pan and stuck them in the oven.

For the sauce, I put 1 tablespoon of butter, the stock, and the jam in a pot, then turned the heat on medium. I added lemon juice, salt, and pepper, until I got the flavor I wanted. I brought it to a boil for about a minute, then turned off the burner. I could have just stirred it, but I chose to whisk it. 🙂

I meant to dry out sliced bread and make stuffing mix. Turns out, the loaf of bread had molded. *sighs* Had to toss it. Rather, I grabbed leftover buns from sloppy joe night.

I minced up the celery, and threw it into the pan I used for the porkchops. (Hey, why waste the butter? ) I added minced onion (dried kind, sorry…lol), sage, and thyme. I cooked it until the celery was mostly done, adding a little stock. Then I added the cut up buns and cooked it all through.

I put the sauce on top of the pork chops, added corn on the side (cooked with milk! yum!), and the stuffing on the side as well.

Pretty darn tasty!!!!

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Capellini Pomodoro with Shrimp

April 17, 2011 at 10:19 pm (cooking) (, , , , , , )

My mom’s favorite pasta seems to be capellini pomodoro – if she can order it, she usually will.

And so, I have set out to recreate it, and it’s pretty tasty, even if I DO keep picking out the tomato chunks. (I don’t like the texture.)

8 medium tomatoes, cut into 1/2inch pieces. I just used roma tomatoes. Worked fine 🙂
About 6tbs olive oil… not that I measured
3 cloves of garlic
basil (no idea how much. Until it smelled right)
salt and pepper to taste
shrimp (optional – but be kind to your eaters and de-tail them!)

First, boil water.

While it boils, do your knifework. For me, this takes a while, since I am perpetually chasing a hopeful cat out of the kitchen.

When I put the pasta into the water, I added everything else to a large pan and heated it through.

Once the pasta was done, I drained it and added it to the pan, mixing it in and tossing it.

Then I served it into bowls, garnished with some parsley (parmesan cheese optional!), and a delicous piece of garlic bread! 🙂

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Snickerdoodle Muffins

April 17, 2011 at 9:57 pm (cooking) (, , , , , , , )

Source: http://www.culinaryconcoctionsbypeabody.com/2007/03/16/cookie-conversion/

Saw someone mention this recipe, and it sounded amazingly delicious, so I googled for a recipe. I found this one about three times, so I figured it MUST be good!

And so began my first attempt at making muffins from scratch.

2 sticks unsalted butter (I used salted, didn’t notice a difference.)
1c sugar
2tsp vanilla
2 eggs
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp cream of tarter
3/4 tsp nutmeg
1 and 1/4c sour cream
2 and 1/4c all-purpose flour

Also – you will need to mix 1/2c sugar and 1 tbs cinnamon together for rolling the dough in.

Cream together the butter and sugar. Next, add in the vanilla, and one egg at a time, making sure it’s all in there properly.

You’re supposed to mix the dry ingredients together first – I’m lazy and using a mixer, I didn’t.

I dumped in the soda, powder, and nutmeg, and then added 1c flour, 1/2c sour cream. I worked that in, then added 1c flour and 1/2c sour cream. After that was in, I added the last 1/4c of both flour and sour cream.

Next, I sprayed my ice cream scoop with Pam, and scooped out muffins, one at a time, and rolled each in brown sugar before depositing in the little cups. (The recipe source says directly in the pan but my pan is old. Trust me. Cups are good.)

My mix was blobby, just so ya know.

Then, you bake them for 20-22 minutes at 350F. My oven must be wonky, because I wound up baking for closer to 30 min. 🙂

Cool for a few minutes, and enjoy!

Picture time! 😀

From above, they look amazingly like cookies!!!

But they’re not 😀

I will say – mine pulled up at the bottom all funny. And the tops r crunchy on the outside, and soft inside. REALLY delicious!! Definitely a keeper! ♥

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Homemade Cinnamon Rolls & Frosting from Scratch

April 10, 2011 at 12:41 pm (cooking) (, , , , , )

I had a hankering for cinnamon rolls, and so I cruised the internet looking for recipes.

I’m honestly not sure where I found it anymore, I kind of took notes and ran off. So if someone knows the source for these (two different places), please let me know so I can give credit to them!

These recipes came out really well, I was very happy!

Cinnamon Rolls – source: sorry, don’t remember

Frosting – source: sorry T__T.

Dough Ingredients:
2c warm water
2 pkg yeast
1/2c sugar
2 eggs
1tsp salt
1/3c canola oil
6-7c flour  (ended up being 6 and a half cups for me)

Filling Ingredients:
Soft butter
Brown Sugar
Honey (my addition)

Frosting Ingredients:
2c powdered sugar
1 tbs melted butter
1 tsp vanilla
2-4 tablespoons milk (I used skim, hence the butter)

Dissolve the yeast packets in the warm water, add sugar and salt.
Add oil, eggs, and 2c of flour, then beat until smooth.
Add 3c of flour, and knead, adding more flour until you reach the right consistency.
Cover and let it rise for 20 minutes.

Roll dough into a large rectangle – this was where  I remembered “I don’t have a rolling pin” and ended up using a glass Acqua Panna bottle. Lucky me, I remembered to dust the counter (and bottle!) with flour lol!!!

Add butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. I added butter, then a thick layer of brown sugar, drizzled it with honey, then dusted on the cinnamon.


Then comes the hard part – prying the dough off the counter and rolling it up.

Cut it into the size rolls you want, I suppose. I filled 2 pie dishes with 6 rolls apiece, and I greased the dishes first. This actually helped I think, to pry them out at the end!

Let them rise for 45 minutes. While they do this, preheat the oven to 350F.

After they’ve risen, stick them in the oven (on top of a lined tray…just sayin’.) for 25 minutes, or until golden brown. (Do check them after you pull them out, though… I ended up putting them back in for a while. Tops were done, inside bottom not so much.)

Now, while they bake, you can prepare your frosting!!! Or after. Frosting is easy, I was pleasantly surprised.

Mix the sugar, butter, and vanilla, and add the milk as you stir, until you are barely able to stir. Spread over the nice warm cinnamon rolls. Mmmmmmm

Now. Eat your rolls!!!!

Thank you for looking, hope you enjoy! 😀

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Rocky Road Cupcakes

March 27, 2011 at 9:51 pm (cooking)

My mom makes this DELICIOUS Rocky Road cake. Someone at her work suggested turning them into cupcakes, making today experiment day!  (yay!)

1 box Devil’s Food cake mix
4 Eggs
1 cup Mayo
1 cup Water
1 cup Chocolate Chips
1 cup Chopped Walnuts
1 cup Mini Marshmallows

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Grease and flour a bunt pan.
3. Mix cake mix, eggs, and mayo very well, adding the water as you go.
4. Stir in the chocolate, walnuts, and marshmallows by hand.
5. Pour batter into cupcake holders
6. Bake 20-25 minutes at 350F
7. Cool, and enjoy! We have yet to decide on frosting or not – when we make it as a cake we just dust with powdered sugar!! 🙂
Here it is shown cooled, de-wrappered, topped with ice cream,  and I took a See’s Milk Chocolate heart left from Valentine’s Day and used the veggie peeler on it to make the pretty chocolate. I had my cupcake warmed, and it was VERY tasty!! ^__^.

Hope you like it. ^__^.

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Homemade Meatballs and Marinara

March 20, 2011 at 3:08 pm (cooking)

You know, I’ve never made meatballs before.

Newp. Never.

Last night, I didn’t have the materials to make frito chili casserole, and I didn’t want to make spaghetti sauce…so somehow that ended up with me making meatballs, marinara sauce, and…spaghetti. lol

So… sauce first, even though I made the meatballs and put them in the hot oven PRIOR to starting the sauce.

Marinara Sauce:
1 can tomato sauce
1 can petite diced tomatoes (which I ran thru my food processor)
1/4 large onion (also thru the food processor)
3 large cloves of garlic (in the food processor)
5 baby carrots (in the food processor lol)
Freshly ground black pepper
Kosher salt
Ground ginger
Garlic & Herb Mrs. Dash
Garlic Salt
Garlic Powder
Minced Onion
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Beef Stock
Cranberry-Pomegranate juice

Quite the list, right? Well, when it comes to marinara, I don’t like it chunky. I like it smoother than that…

First, I put the onion, garlic, and carrots in my food processor, and pretty much turned it into a paste.

I emptied out my processor into a nice hot pan with a little olive oil in it, sprinkled it with oregano, sage, mrs. dash, and let it start to cook.

While it cooked, I put the diced tomatoes in the processor, pulsing it in between stirring the veggies.

To the veggies, I added a splash of beef stock, and a splash of juice.

Once they had cooked down, I added the petite diced tomatoes, a nice healthy pinch of kosher salt, and a few grinds of pepper.

And once THAT was happy, I added the can of tomato sauce. I let it cook a little, then tasted it, and wound up adding some ginger (about 4 taps), some paprika (about 7 taps), more oregano, mrs dash, and garlic powder, along with a few shakes of parsley.

Then I set it to simmer on low, and covered it.

Now… MEATBALLS!!!!! 😀 I was very pleased with how they came out! ^__^.

1lb lean ground beef (I think this was 90/10, and over a pound. I got it prepackaged at the grocery store, so closer to like 1.4lbs.)
1/2c Italian bread crumbs
1 egg
1 tbs granulated (Kraft lol) Parmesan cheese
1/2c grated dutch gouda (I got it at trader joe’s – white, red rind.)
1 tbs Garlic powder
7 taps of ground ginger
10 grinds black pepper
2 hefty pinches of Kosher salt (hey, I have big fingers.)
2 tbs Oregano
2 tbs Garlic & Herb Mrs. Dash
3 tbs Minced Onion

(For future doings, I would add more garlic, some paprika, more oregano, and maybe a little more pepper. They were tasty alone, but delicious in the sauce! More flavor!!!)

So, pretty much, I preheated the oven to 350F, and got out the large casserole dish with low sides, as I figured they might be juicy.

After that, in a large mixing bowl, I dumped in the meat, egg, breadcrumbs, and everything else, and proceeded to mix it all up with one hand until I was satisfied with the way it looked. (Delicious.)

Then I began rolling the mixture into little 1-inch balls and placing them in the dish.

Once the dish was full, I tried to space them out, and put them in the oven.

I figured half an hour, it wound up being about 24minutes. :)

So I wiped the meatballs off on a papertowel (I don’t like the little gray blobbies that stick to them, ew), and spooned them over noodles and sauce!


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Spaghetti Sauce

February 15, 2011 at 5:43 pm (cooking) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I’m sure by now that you are all tired of seeing me post about spaghetti sauce… I’m sorry, but this is the one that I’ve settled on for perfection. 🙂

1/4 large yellow or sweet onion, diced
3 large cloves of garlic, minced
about 5-7 baby carrots, minced
about 4 medium or large white button mushrooms, if desired
Extra Virgin Olive Oil first cold press is my favorite!
1lb ground beef (the leaner, the better! I usually get 97% lean)
Ocean Spray Cranberry-Pomegranate juice (just a splash! Maybe a quarter cup?)
1 can petite diced tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
ground sage
Garlic & Herb Mrs. Dash
Lawry’s Garlic Salt
Lawry’s Garlic Powder
Kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
and don’t tell anyone, but also about 4 or 5 taps of ground ginger

And now for instructions!

I usually put the water for pasta on to boil. It doesn’t matter what kind of pasta you use – Angel Hair, Spaghetti, Penne Rigate, Wheels, Shells, Macaroni, etc.  I prefer Spaghetti 2 or 3. (That’s the thickness of the pasta.) I also cook it past al dente, but not until it’s soggy.

Anyways… Once the water is on to boil, I add a pinch of kosher salt. Now I can ignore it until later.

I dice the onion and mince the garlic and carrots. If I have them, I also slice up some white buttom mushrooms.  Then I heat up my big skillet (any large pan with high sides will do).  I pour a little extra virgin olive oil in – I have an olive-oil dispenser with a spout, so I just drizzle it around the pan a few times. I don’t need to cover the bottom, just add the flavor and keep stuff from sticking.

Then I add in the vegetables, along with a pinch of kosher salt and about 4 grinds of black pepper.

As it starts to cook, I add the cranberry-pomegranate juice. Not a lot.

Once that has cooked down a little, I add in the beef and brown it. As it browns, I usually add oregano, garlic & herb mrs dash, sage, and garlic powder.  I just cover everything. Note I said cover – not coat. Just tap or shake across your cooking vessel evenly and stir as you go!

After the beef has been browned, I add in the can of petite diced tomatos and let it cook a short while.

After a few minutes, I add in the can of tomato sauce, and then start adding oregano, sage, garlic & herb mrs. dash, garlic powder,  pepper, and garlic salt to taste. I also add about 4 taps of ground ginger – that is my super-secret ingredient!!

Then, simmer the sauce for as long as you want! The longer it goes, the thicker it gets. It tends to splatter, so covering it with a screen is useful for keeping your stovetop clean. 🙂

If you want to make marinara, omit the beef and mushrooms, and use a food processor on the onions, garlic, and carrots for an excellent sauce!

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