Why this blog??

Why this blog?? I often find myself stressing over what to make for my family for dinner. We live a busy life and some meals need time to prep, cook and let's not forget shopping for everything you need. I love cookbooks and websites, but there are so many recipe's at times it is overwhelming. The recipe's I will be posting are things I actually made. I will tell you if they are easy or more time consuming. I will also tell you if they are good. Most of these are recipe's I have made for years and continue to make because they are easy or quick and my family loves them and i know yours will too! I will also try to at least once in a whlie try a new recipe I've found on line or in a book and honestly rate it. I always encourage others to send me their favorite recipe's as well! I am a mom... not a chef. But I am a mom who enjoys cooking for her family and making a somewhat healthy meal (some days more healthy than others:) ) In each recipe I will share how I recommend serving it, any substitutions I can think of that are also good, or ways to prepare ahead of time to make the cooking part seem quicker! I am not a photographer, as you can see... most of these pictures are taken from my phone camera, so may not be the best! I love to hear from others who have made these recipes and what they have done to change the recipe... please post comments! Thank you! To "like" me on facebook, go to this link... It's What's Cookin

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Summer Pasta with Veggies

I call this summer pasta, because it's light and is great loaded with veggies that are in season in the summer.

You can make this two different ways. You can leave it just as is, with the pasta, veggies and olive oil. Or you can add a light cream sauce as I did. By light, i don't mean calorie or fat free... i add only about 1/2 cup of this sauce so it's more of just a coating/flavoring and not an actual sauce.

This time I made it I only used zucchini and carrots since I had them on hand and this was a last minute meal plan. At the end I also added left over steamed broccoli that we had for dinner the night before. When I usually make this I like to make it with zucchini, yellow squash, carrots, asparagus and bell pepper (orange or yellow). I'm sure mushrooms or artichoke hearts would work great too. Get creative and add any of your favorites! Also, sometimes I add left over rotisserie chicken shredded up. Add this at end and just cook on low a few mins till warm.

*2 T olive oil
*1 tsp minced garlic
*2-3 cups chopped veggies
*1 box pasta (penne, bow tie, cork screw... (I love Ronzoni Smart Taste Penne)
*ground black pepper and salt to taste

*1 T butter
*1 T flour
*1/2 cup milk (2% or whole works best)
*1/2 cup mozz or parm cheese for topping

1. saute garlic in olive oil. Add veggies and continue to saute over medium heat until they are fork tender. You don't want them too cooked and soggy. Add your seasonings.

2. While veggies are sauteing, boil your noodles till they are al dente. Drain and return to pan and remove from heat.

3. If you are doing no sauce, at this time add the veggies to the noodles and stir together. You can add a touch more olive oil if you like. Top with some cheese table side.

4. If you would like to do the sauce, I start it when the veggies and noodles have about 5 mins left to cook. All I do is melt the butter in a pan. Once melted, add the flour and whisk together well. Once mixed and smooth, add the milk slowly. Keep stirring. Cook on low for 2-3 mins. Add this to pan that the noodles and veggies are in. Stir well and, again, add cheese table side.


saute garlic in olive oil

here I added the 'light' sauce

served with cheesy rolls (see recipe under sides) and talapia. 

Cheesy Rolls

These are one of my signature recipes... I make them all the time and everyone LOVES them. I'll have a dinner party and I'll make a huge awesome (in my opinion) meal that I slaved over all day, and they ask me for THIS recipe and rave about these... these take me 2 mins + bake time. Simple and delicious!

*1 roll Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
*Italian Seasoning
*Garlic salt
*Shredded cheese (I use whatever I have in my house, cheddar, mozzarella, colby-jack mix... anything works

1. break crescents into the eight triangles
2. pinch of italian seasonings and a pinch of garlic salt on each
3. about 1T cheese on each
4. Roll and bake as directed on package.

YUP... They are THAT easy!!

We love them along side salads, anything we serve with mash potatoes, and especially on spaghetti/pasta night!

the seasoning I use

sprinkle seasonings

large pinch of cheese

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Mini Meatloaves in Really Good Brown Gravy

A friend gave me this recipe... it's a recipe that has been in his girlfriends family for a while and they really enjoy it and he told me everyone they've had over for it has asked for the recipe. So, I decided to give it a try. We loved it! Even though my husband does not like mustard, he liked this and had seconds. I did change one thing, however. My husband doesn't care for veal, and veal is a bit hard to find... so here is the break down of the meat I used:
1/2 lb lean ground beef, 1/2 lb ground pork, 1/3 lb lean ground turkey. I served mine with a side of mash potatoes, steamed broccoli and fresh baked french bread! YUM. Oh, and the best part is the leftovers made into a meatloaf and mash potato sandwich the next day! Just add warmed up mash potatoes and meatloaf to toasted bread. Add some extra ketchup and lettuce... YUM

*1 1/3 lbs meat loaf mix (beef, pork, and veal)
*1/3 cup plus 2 T ketchup, divided
*1/3 cup dried bread crumbs
*1 large egg, beaten
*1 T dijon mustard
*2 tsp Worchestershire sauce
*1 tsp salt
*1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

*3 T unsalted butter
*1/4 cup all-purpose flour
*2cups canned reduced-sodium beef broth
*salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly oil 9x13 baking dish. 

Combine the meat loaf mix plus accompanying ingredients (minus the 2T of extra ketchup) in a large bowl (your hands work best). 

In the baking dish, shape the meat mixture into six 3" wide mounds. Poke your finger into the middle of each mound to make a hole. Bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted in meat loaf reads 165F, about 40 minutes. During the last 5 minutes of baking, spread the remaining 2 T ketchup over the mini loaves. Transfer them to a platter with aluminum foil to keep them warm. 

Tilt the baking dish and spoon out the clear fat, leaving 1 T juice in the pan, place over 2 burners on medium heat. Add the butter and melt it. Sprinkle with the flour and whisk well. Whisk in the broth and bring it to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, whisking often, until the gravy is smooth and thick, about 3 min. Season with salt and pepper. 

Serve the meat loaves hot with the gravy passed on the side.

Mixing 3 meats and rest of ingredients

poke thumb in top of each mound

after baking and adding additional ketchup

melting butter in juices from the meatloaf

add flour, whisk. Add broth, whisk.

Dinner is served!

Thanks Adam and Michelle for this recipe! :) Keep them coming!!  I love easy to make comfort food!

*** 6/8/11- I made this dish again today and did it a little different. I used more turkey than the other 2 meats this time. I also only used half the amount of the mustard it called for and I did a half cup of ketchup instead of 1/3. I used Italian seasoned bread crumbs instead of the plain ones this time since that is what I had on hand. I think it added extra flavor. I also finely chopped up some frozen spinach I had on hand into the mixture. We served with mash potatoes, the gravy and corn. It was awesome!!

added the spinach to the mixture

Excellent! One of our favorite new meals. My 14 month old ate a whole one along with  the potatoes and corn!!

I love it the next day as a meatloaf sandwich!!