Thursday, February 27, 2014

Tater Tot Muffins

Oh my . . . two of my favorite things all rolled into one!

What an awesome concept!

This recipe comes from Peggy Trowbridge Filippone from who always comes up with such great cooking ideas.

Peggy suggests experimenting with other ingredients like sour cream, chives, bacon, cheese and also commented that it can be baked as a casserole.    Her recommendation for leftovers is to scramble them into some eggs . . . now that sounds delicious!  I would top the egg dish with some cheddar cheese.

Can't wait to try these!

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Resting Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 12 servings


  • 1 package (28 ounces) frozen mini tater tots, thawed
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 1 can cream of celery soup (undiluted)
  • 2 cups fine-shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, divided use
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 Tablespoons butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
  • 6 slices bacon, cooked until crisp and crumbled
  • 1/8 cup chopped chives


Preheat oven to 400 F. Spray standard-sized muffin tins with vegetable oil.

Break each tater tot in half. Combine tater tots, diced onions, undiluted cream of celery soup, 1 cup of the Cheddar cheese, sour cream, butter, bacon bits, and chives.

Compress potato mixture into prepared muffin pans, pressing firmly, and place on a rimmed cookie sheet. Top with remaining Cheddar cheese. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until nicely browned. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Yield: 12 servings 

Source: Tater Tot Muffins Recipe Photo © 2011 Peggy Trowbridge Filippone, licensed to, Inc.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Julius Caesar Salad and Homemade Ranch Dressing

The following recipes come from The Pioneer Woman on The Food Network. We were watching the episode entitled "Shakespeare Movie Night" that included a very tasty looking Supreme Pizza Lasagna.  

Oddly enough, the thing that really caught my attention was the caesar salad she prepared.  I have been thinking about making one of these salads since watching that show.  The dressing looked creamy and delicious paired with the crunchy croutons on that bed of romaine lettuce.  The grated cheese is like the icing on the cake.

Usually I don't get too enthused about a salad, but she made it look awesome!

Since The Captain's favorite salad dressing is Ranch, I have also included her homemade recipe.

Sometimes I love eating the rabbit food as a main meal when I have a strong craving!


Salad Dressing:
1 cup (real) mayonnaise
1/2 cup buttermilk, plus more if needed
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 anchovy fillets
1 clove garlic, smashed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 loaf ciabatta, crusts on, roughly chopped into 3/4-inch cubes
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

2 heads green leaf lettuce, sliced
2 hearts of romaine lettuce, slice


For the salad dressing: Put the mayonnaise, buttermilk, sour cream, Parmesan, balsamic, Worcestershire, anchovies, garlic and some salt and pepper into a blender or food processor and pulse the processor or blend on low speed for several seconds. Adjust the consistency if needed with a little extra buttermilk. Refrigerate the dressing for a few hours (it just gets better!) before using it on the salad.

For the croutons: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Throw the bread cubes onto a baking sheet and toss them in the olive oil and some salt and pepper. Sprinkle on half of the Parmesan, toss, sprinkle on more and toss again. Bake, tossing again halfway through, until crisp and golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.

For the salad: Throw the green leaf and romaine lettuce into a bowl. Add some dressing, and give it a good initial toss, just so you can evaluate how much more dressing you need. Add more dressing to taste. Add the cooled croutons. Toss gently and serve.

Recipe Source

Homemade Ranch Dressing
from The Pioneer Woman


1 clove garlic
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup real mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup Italian flat-leaf parsley leaves, minced
2 tablespoons fresh dill, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh chives
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Dash hot sauce
1/4 to 1/2 cup buttermilk (as needed for desired consistency)


Mince the garlic with a knife and then sprinkle on the salt and mash it into a paste with a fork.

In a bowl, combine the garlic paste, mayonnaise, sour cream, parsley, dill, chives, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper, vinegar, paprika, cayenne and hot sauce. Add the buttermilk to desired consistency and mix to combine, tasting frequently and adjusting seasonings as needed. Chill for a couple of hours before serving, thinning with more buttermilk if needed.

Sicilian Casserole

While I love the convenience of commercial pasta sauce, I love making my own sauce with tomato sauce.  

In order to get a great tasting sauce, you need to taste it to determine if it is done since tomato sauce tends to be acidic.  The acidity calms down with time as it simmers, but I also add a little brown sugar (1/4 tsp at a time) to the sauce . . . don't forget to taste, that is the secret to great sauce.  

So the cooking time will depend on your taste!


1 pound ground beef
1 chopped onion
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, cubed
3/4 cup milk
1 chopped green pepper
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 7-ounce can tomato sauce
3/4 cup water
1/2 tsp dried Italian seasoning
2 cups uncooked pasta/macaroni
1/3 cup sour cream 
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese for topping


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 

Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat. 

Brown ground beef in a large skillet over medium heat, breaking it up as it cooks.  Add onion When the beef starts to render some fat.

Place cubed cream cheese in a microwave-safe medium bowl along with 3/4 cup milk. Microwave 1 minute, then remove.

Whisk to stir the mixture and return to the microwave for another 1 minute. Remove from the microwave and whisk until the sauce is thick and smooth. Set aside.

Add chopped green pepper to the beef mixture when the beef is almost cooked and continue cooking until the green pepper has softened slightly.

Drain the beef mixture and return to the heat.

Add tomato paste, tomato sauce, 3/4 cup water, and 1/2 tsp. dried Italian seasoning to the drained beef mixture. Simmer over medium heat, stirring until sauce combines and thickens. Let simmer over very low heat while preparing pasta. 

Boil pasta/macaroni in salted water following package directions, until almost cooked.

Drain pasta and add to the cream cheese mixture, along with sour cream and grated Parmesan cheese. Stir until pasta is coated.

Place all of the cream cheese/pasta mixture in the bottom of a 2 quart casserole dish. Top with all of the beef mixture. Sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese. 

You can refrigerate the casserole until you want to eat.*

Bake the casserole at 350 degrees F for 20-30 minutes, or until the casserole is bubbly around the edges and the cheese on top melts and begins to brown. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
*If you're baking the casserole straight from the fridge, add about 10-15 minutes to the baking time.
Photo and Recipe Source

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Chicken Breasts with Stuffing Mix

Comfort food the easy way.  I love easy semi-homemade recipes that use convenience foods that are not very expensive.  Stove Top Stuffing is my new favorite convenience food!

    • 4 boneless chicken breasts
    • 2 (10 1/4 ounce) cans cream of chicken soup
    • 10 ounces water
    • 4 slices swiss cheese
    • 1 (6 ounce) box seasoned stuffing mix (I use StoveTop)


Mix cream of chicken soup with water.

Pour into 13x9x2 baking dish.

Lay chicken breasts on top.

Add a slice of Swiss cheese on each chicken breast.

Pour the dry stuffing mix over the top, covering it completely.

Bake covered at 350F for 1-1/2 hours.

Photo and Recipe Source

Red Velvet Mini Cheesecakes

Seems like Red Velvet Cakes, Cupcakes and Cookies
 have been all the rage lately.

Here are two recipes with a twist to the Red Velvet craze . . . 
mini cheesecakes from Betty Crocker and Sally's Baking Addiction.



chocolate wafer cookies, crushed (about 1 3/4 cups)
4 1/2
tablespoons butter, melted
teaspoon corn syrup or honey


packages (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened
cup granulated sugar
teaspoons vanilla
tablespoons red food color
cup unsweetened baking cocoa
cup Original Bisquick® mix
cup milk


cups whipping cream
tablespoons powdered sugar
Chocolate shavings, if desired

In small bowl, mix Crust ingredients. Divide crumb mixture among cups. Using fingertips, firmly press in bottom of each cup, making sure crumbs are firmly packed.
In large bowl, beat cream cheese with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Gradually beat in granulated sugar until fluffy. Beat in vanilla and food color. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, until well blended. Add cocoa and Bisquick mix, and beat until there are no more streaks and batter looks chocolaty. Pour in milk, and beat until smooth and creamy. Divide batter evenly among cups (cups will be almost full).
Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until centers are firm. Cool 15 minutes (cheesecake centers will sink while cooling). Refrigerate in pan at least 45 minutes. In chilled small bowl, beat whipping cream on medium speed 30 seconds; gradually increase speed to high, and beat until stiff peaks form. During last minute, beat in powdered sugar.
Remove cheesecakes from refrigerator and, using butter knife, gently pop them out of pan. Carefully remove wrappers, and top each chilled cheesecake with large dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of chocolate shavings. Serve chilled.
The cheesecakes can be made and frozen ahead of time. Leave cheesecakes in their paper baking cups, and wrap well with plastic wrap. Freeze in airtight container. To thaw, let cakes stand in refrigerator about 2 hours or until ready to eat; top as directed.

Photo and Recipe Source

Click here for another version

of the Red Velvet Mini Cheesecake

from Sally's Baking Addiction!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Bacon, Egg and Shrimp Fried Rice

Anything that contains rice catches my attention, although I must admit I have never tried jasmine rice.

Shrimp Fried Rice is my favorite, and the addition of bacon sounds delicious.

The price of sesame oil has kept us from trying out a fried rice dish cooked with it and I wonder . . . does it really make that much of a difference?


  • 1 1/2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
  • eggs, lightly beaten
  • ounces pancetta or bacon, diced
  • clove garlic, minced
  • teaspoon peeled and grated fresh ginger
  • ounces bay shrimp
  • ounces fresh or frozen peas (about 3/4 cup)
  • cups cooked jasmine rice (preferably day old)
  • tablespoon light soy sauce
  • teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • scallions, chopped


Heat a wok over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon peanut oil. Add the eggs, reduce the heat a bit and stir-fry for 1 to 2 minutes to scramble. Remove and set aside. 

Reheat the wok and add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon peanut oil. When the oil is hot, add the pancetta, garlic and ginger, then stir quickly. Once the pancetta begins to turn brown, 1 to 2 minutes, add in the shrimp and peas and stir-fry for 1 to 2 minutes more. 

Add the cooked rice and stir well to break it up in the wok. Add the scrambled eggs back in, season with the light soy and toss to coat the rice. Add in the toasted sesame oil and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately garnished with chopped scallions.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

One Pot Baked Ziti

One pot meals are awesome in many ways.  I love this recipe since it is quick and easy unlike my usual tomato sauce that cooks for hours.  And the ziti cooks in the sauce and not in boiling water!!!

The photo and recipe are from Plain Chicken, one of my favorite food blogs for simple, easy and delicious recipes!  The link follows the recipe . . . check it out!


    • 1 lb Italian sausage, casings removed 
    • 1 Tbsp dried minced onion flakes 
    • 4 cloves garlic, minced 
    • 1 (28oz) can crushed tomatoes (San Marzano) 
    • 1/2 tsp salt 
    • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes 
    • 2 tsp Italian seasoning 
    • 2 cups water 
    • 12 oz ziti 
    • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese 
    • 1/3 cup heavy cream 
    • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese 


Brown Italian sausage in 9-inch (2.5qt) oven save pan until browned. Drain fat.

Add onion flakes and garlic. Cook for 30-60 seconds, until fragrant. Stir in tomatoes, salt, red pepper flakes and Italian seasoning.
Add water and ziti. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cover skillet. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, until pasta is tender.

Remove skillet from heat. Stir in ricotta and heavy cream. Cook on low for 5 minutes.

Remove from heat. Top with mozzarella cheese.

Broil until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Tex Mex Mac and Cheese

Who doesn't love macaroni and cheese?

The Captain and I often make it as a snack.  He tends to love the spicy versions of everything, so I know this version of macaroni and cheese will be a regular part of our menu.

This recipe comes from Pillsbury . . . love their website!


box (16 oz) penne rigate pasta
cup butter or margarine
cup Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
teaspoon salt
4 1/2
cups milk
cups shredded Monterey Jack or pepper Jack cheese (12 oz)
cans (4.5 oz each) Old El Paso® chopped green chiles
cup crushed Green Giant® zesty Cheddar roasted veggie tortilla chips (about 16 chips)


Heat oven to 350°F. 

Spray 3-quart glass baking dish with cooking spray. 

Cook and drain pasta as directed on box.

  • Meanwhile, in 5-quart Dutch oven or saucepan, melt butter over low heat. With whisk, stir in flour and salt until smooth. Increase heat to medium; cook until mixture is smooth and bubbly, stirring constantly. Gradually stir in milk. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute. 
  • Remove from heat; gradually stir in cheese and chiles until cheese is melted. 
  • Stir in cooked pasta.
  • Pour mixture into baking dish; sprinkle with crushed chips.
  • Bake uncovered 20 to 25 minutes or until bubbly.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Chocolate Caramel Bars

Love the combination of chocolate and caramel!

I'm craving chocolate tonight, so my recipe searches are gravitating towards these type of sinful sweets.  

Don't these look awesome?  The recipe and photo originates from Roxana's Home Baking, one of my favorite food blogs!  You must check it out for more delicious recipes from Roxana.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes


    • 2 cups (240 grams) all-purpose flour
    • 1/4 cup (56 grams) diced cold butter
    • 1 1/2 cups (300 grams) sugar
    • 1 cup (80 grams) cocoa
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 3/4 cup (168 grams) melted butter
    • 5 oz (1 small) can evaporated milk
    • 14 oz caramels, unwrapped
    • 1 1/2 cups (226 grams) semi-sweet chocolate chips
    • 12-14 extra caramels

    1. Heat the oven to 350F.
    2. Line a 13X9 baking pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
    3. In a food processor add the flour and cold diced butter. Pulse a few more times until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs and all the butter is cut in. You can also use a pastry blender, a fork or rub the butter and flour with your hands.
    4. Add the sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and whisk to combine.
    5. In a large mixing bowl add the dry ingredients mix and pour the melted butter on top. Add 1/3 cup of the evaporated milk and mix until well combined. The dough it's going to be similar to a light crumby cookie dough.
    6. Spread 2/3 of the dough in the prepared baking pan and set aside. Refrigerate the remaining dough until needed.
    7. In a small saucepan place the remaining evaporated milk and the unwrapped caramels. Stir continuously over low heat until the caramels are melted. Pour over the cookie dough base.
    8. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the caramel layer.
    9. Take the remaining cookie dough out of the fridge and crumble it on top of the chocolate chips.
    10. Top with the remaining caramels.
    11. Bake for 25 minutes.
    12. It may seem bubbly and undone but once cooled the caramel and chocolate layers will set.
    13. Cool completely in the pan before cutting into bars.

    Roxana's notes about this recipe . . .  After you mix the cake mix with the evaporated milk and melted butter it yields around 3 cups. The recipe suggested to spread half of the dough in the baking pan and the remaining half to be used as a streusel topping. I think it would be better to reserve around 3/4 to 1 cup of dough for the topping to leave room for the caramel and chocolate to ooze out a little bit more. 

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