Pasta Morales

Pasta Morales

This is one recipe I forgot about and I’m not sure why.  My mom makes it from time to time and every chance I have it, I forget how delicious it is and how easy it is to put together.

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Side story: Years back, my mom used to work in a medical office and the pharmaceutical  sales reps would bring lunch for the doctors and office staff in hope to gain their business.  One rep named Jose Morales brought this dish and everyone immediately fell in love.  My mom got the recipe and it has been a staple in our family ever since.  Although I am not sure if there is a proper name for it, we have always called it “Pasta Morales” in honor of Jose himself.

Like I said, I had forgotten about this dish until Sunday when I was trying to figure out what to make for dinner.  I like to make dinners on Sundays that could be eaten as quick meals during the week.  Since J has the kids the next few nights, I doubled the batch and we now have plenty for all of us. And after one quick taste of the cooked chicken, J’s response was, “Wow.”

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Note:  This recipe is so versatile….It could be easily made ahead, it’s great for a big crowd, it can be eaten cold or warmed, and is sure to be a crowd pleaser.

Pasta Morales

1 pound rotini pasta, cooked

3-4 chicken breasts, cut into small pieces

Broccoli florets, cut into small pieces (I did about 1 1/2 cups)

1 red pepper, cut into small pieces

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup white wine vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

2-3 cloves minced garlic

2 T. Old Bay seasoning

Steps: 

1. Mix together the oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, garlic and Old Bay.  Add chicken and marinate at least an hour, or overnight.

2.  Cook pasta according to directions.

3.  Steam broccoli and peppers until soft.

4.  In a medium sized pot, cook chicken and marinade until done.  Add steamed veggies and cooked pasta and combine.

5.  Serve with a salad or fresh bread.

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That’s it!  Essentially, aside from the pasta, it’s a one pot dish.  Enjoy!  xo

 

Meatloaf ~ With a Twist

Meatloaf ~ With a Twist

There are so many versions of this old school dinner out there in recipe books, online and in Pinterestland, but the only one I use comes from my Betty Crocker cookbook.  Yep, it’s straight from the pages of an old fashioned cookbook that’s been around for decades.  As you can see, my page is torn and tattered from use.

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I always thought this nostalgic dish was spelled “Meatloaf,” but according to Betty, she spells it using two words – “Meat Loaf.”  Huh.  For my clan I had to double the recipe to make two pans, but the recipe below is for one loaf pan and serves about six.

So why the twist?  My people love when I split the meat mixture in half and add a layer of cheese in the middle.  Then I top the cheese with the remaining mixture.  It’s not low fat, but oh, so good!

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Betty Crocker’s Meat Loaf

1 1/2 pounds ground beef

1 cup milk

1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce

1/4 teaspoon dried sage

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 clove garlic, minced (or if you’re like me, a tablespoon of jarred garlic)

1 large egg

1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs

1/2 onion, chopped

Ketchup (for the top)

Optional – 4 slices of cheese, any type

Steps:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Combine all of the ingredients except the ketchup.

3. Place mixture in pan, or split it in half and add the cheese  – see above

4.  Top with ketchup.

5.  Place pan in oven and bake for an hour to an hour and 15 minutes, depending on oven.

 

I also like to place potatoes in the oven to bake while the meatloaf is cooking.

There are two ingredients in this version that make it special….ground sage and ground mustard.  I’m not sure what it is, but the sage especially gives it a nice taste.

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Meatloaf is tricky to photograph.  This was the best image I could get without it looking like a big blob on the plate.  That, and my crew was so ready to eat they could hardly wait until I was done snapping photos.

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I love comfort food.  Even though spring is upon us, there is nothing that says comfort and cozy like a meal like this.  It was just what we needed on a relaxed weekend evening.

Pineapple Bread Casserole

Pineapple Bread Casserole

Easter and ham go together like peanut butter and jelly. But what could be better than a little pineapple to go along with your ham?  When my mom decided to host Easter dinner this year, I promptly pulled out this recipe.  I haven’t made it in a few years, so I thought this year was a good time to reintroduce it to the family.

This recipe was given to me years ago from an old family friend.  At first I thought it sounded kind of strange, but seriously, once you taste it, you’ll understand.  The salty ham and the sweet pineapple create the perfect pairing.

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Pineapple Bread Pudding

3/4 cup sugar

4 eggs

1 stick of butter, softened

1 small loaf of sliced white bread (minus the ends), cubed

20 ounce can crushed pineapple, drained

Cinnamon, for flavor

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9×13 casserole pan.

Cream together the sugar, butter and eggs in a large bowl.  Stir in the crushed pineapple. Cube the bread and add to the mixture. Combine.  Pour mixture into prepared pan and sprinkle cinnamon over the top.

Bake uncovered for 30-35 minutes.  Serve warm.

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Easter was always a special holiday at my grandparents.  My grandfather made his trip over to the (now closed) Krick’s Bakery for their Paska, an Eastern European Easter bread.  In addition, he made his horseradish sauce and put it in the same jars that he used year after year.  He also bought the kielbasa, a type of sausage from countries like Poland and Ukraine.

I can always remember him wearing his work boots out in his garden or around the yard.  When he passed, we placed two small vases inside each boot and filled them with fresh flowers.  They were placed front and center at his funeral.  Now, my mom and my aunt each have one boot and they place faux flowers in them to keep his memory alive.

 

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I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter.  Enjoy the week! xo

 

Ina Garten’s Pasta Alla Vecchia Bettola

Ina Garten’s Pasta Alla Vecchia Bettola

Sunday’s are for comfort food, family dinners, wine, and relaxation and I love nothing more than cooking a delicious, savory meal for my people.

Ina Garten is on my top five list of people who I would want to visit.  How great would it be to spend a day at her house in the Hamptons?  I mean…the food, the atmosphere, the wine, Michael the florist, her friend TR, and just the overall prettiness makes me swoon.  I love her approach to food and entertaining.  Its rustic and casual, yet over the top delicious.  I’ve been watching her show for years and have a few of her cookbooks, yet she never ceases to amazing me.  So, when I stumbled upon this recipe, I knew I had to try it.

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In addition to the pasta, J grilled chicken breasts for added protein, plus a few extra for this week’s lunches.

I also read that this dish has been a signature menu item at the famous “Nick and Toni’s” restaurant in East Hampton, NY for over 20 years.  Pretty cool!

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Sometimes the perfect ending to a great weekend is a belly-filling meal.  This one fit the bill.

Recipe to try: Sweet Potato Taco Sliders

Recipe to try: Sweet Potato Taco Sliders

Anyone who knows me is aware that I love to try new recipes.  Sometimes I follow the recipe to a T, while other times I use it for inspiration and change it up a bit.  Enter these sliders.  The other day I was perusing the normal blogs that I follow and Courtney from A Thoughtful Place posted this one.  I was sold at first glance and I decided to give them a try this past weekend.  The original recipe was originally created by Paleo Running Mamma and boy, do her recipes look amazing!  Michele is a girl after my own heart.  She’s a mom, a runner, and has a beautiful blog.  I think I need to try more from her site, especially those that are Whole30 compliant.

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I did make a few changes to the original recipe to fit our tastes, but they were really yummy!  Even J liked them!

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My changes:

  • Instead of taco seasoning, I added a teaspoon and a half each of chili powder and cumin.
  • J isn’t a guac fan, so I made this special burger sauce for him.  Also good!
  • In the interest of time, I used store-bought guacamole rather than making my own.  I like to purchase guac in the mini packets so I can use what I need and save the rest for another time.
  • I served the sliders with a simple side salad dressed with olive oil and vinegar.

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It was a great ending on a snowy evening!  Have you tried any recipes that you’d like to share?  I’m always up for new ideas!

No-Bake Oreo Truffles

“It’s the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary.”

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That quote just about sums up these truffles.  I have to say, they are one of my favorite treats in the world.  With only four ingredients, this no-bake recipe is a winner all the time.

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Over the years, I’ve made them on many occasions…as shower or birthday party favors, as gifts for my coworkers, for my staff luncheon contribution, and just to serve for various holidays.  The nice part is that you can customize the color scheme depending on the look you want.

This is not an original recipe, but I find that the following combination of ingredients works best for me.

NO-BAKE OREO TRUFFLES

1 package of Oreo cookies (regular or double stuff)

1 – 8 ounce bar of cream cheese, softened

1 bag of chocolate candy disks, flavor / color of your choice (not chocolate chips)

Toppings [sprinkles, cookie crumbs, drizzled chocolate]

Steps:

1.) In a food processor, crush the Oreo cookies until fine.

2.) If you want to sprinkle some crumbs on top of the truffles, reserve a 1/2 cup.

3.) Add the softened cream cheese and combine.

4.) Using a spoon, create 1 inch balls and lay on parchment paper.

5.) Place chocolate disks in the microwave and heat in intervals of 30 seconds until melted.  Stir between intervals.

6.) Dip the truffle balls into the chocolate until coated and place back on parchment paper.

7.) Sprinkle on topping of choice before chocolate has cooled.

8.) Refrigerate for an hour, or until firm.  Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

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Tip: I’ve found that milk and dark chocolate disks melt and cover the best.  White chocolate tends to be thicker and it’s more difficult to get a smoother outer coating.

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FYI ~ I just bought some red and pink sprinkles and a bag of milk chocolate disks for Valentine’s day, so my special people may be getting them again real soon!  Enjoy! xo

 

Friday Ramblings

We made it to Friday!  The weeks seem so long, yet they fly by….does that make any sense?  In honor of the weekend, I thought I would share a few things that I have going on….

Last Friday I shared some recipe inspiration on my Eagles post.  We finally narrowed down the menu and the one recipe we decided to try from the list were the whiskey meatballs. I’ll let you know how they try out…

I love a good tablescape on my dinner table and although the Super Bowl isn’t a formal party, we can still have cute food labels, right?

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I live in Eagles country, so this game is HUGE around these parts.  Even my 4th graders think the Birds are going to pull off a WIN on Sunday.  Poor Brady.

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My mac and cheese casserole won’t be at our party this year, but in case you missed the recipe you can still check it out. It is so good and sooooo easy.

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I plan on making my chili for the big game and J ordered this Dutch oven for me.  It just came in, so I am excited to put it to use.  By the way, he also scored lots of points for getting it!  I never follow a recipe for chili and it is never the same twice.  That’s the beauty of it…chili is so versatile.

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Last Sunday I posted this picture on Instagram.  I had a perpetual sore throat and felt like crap the week before, so I went to the doctor.  All of my tests came back negative [Thank God], but I decided to give myself almost a total week off from working out.  And guess what?  I miraculously feel better!  I guess we need to stop and listen to our bodies because sometimes they are speaking out loud and clear.

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The wallpaper samples came in and I can’t wait to see them in J’s powder room.  I have to say, they look a bit like contact paper.  However to be fair, I wasn’t sure what I would be getting and they are in fact waterproof, so the texture makes sense.  Hopefully he will like them too!

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My daughter is in her school’s play and I am in charge of the cast party favors.  All 105 of them!  I can’t show you the final present just yet, but I have been up to my ears in tags and labels galore!

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This gal isn’t getting any younger and I’ve had the same skin care routine for years.  My face is pretty good [knock on wood] and I don’t have too many wrinkles.  What I do have is slight rosacea and a spot of melasma on my cheek.  I’ve used Colleen Rothschild products before and I especially love the Clarifying Detox Mask.  In my opinion, I feel like this mask literally pulls the dirt and yucky stuff right out of the pores.  It’s just so good.  I also wanted some sort of a hydration mask because the inside air is so dry and harsh on my skin.  Plus, running outside doesn’t help either.  After some research I ordered the Intense Hydrating Mask and so far so good!  The amazing Grace cream was a gift from a student and it is so nice to lather on after an evening shower.  I’m just throwing it out there in case you are looking for a nice body lotion.  Finally, to help brighten my melasma spot, my friend recommended BioRadiance Botanical Cellular Brightening treatment.  It’s made with all natural, organic ingredients and is chemical free.  Her daughter in law is a skin care specialist to the stars in LA and highly recommends this product.  Hey, if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for me.  I’ll let you know how it’s going.

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I know many despise Valentine’s Day, but I like it.  I believe it is a day to show the special people in your life just how much you love them.  What’s wrong with that?  To celebrate, I’m planning a special dinner for J and I and the kids complete with dinner menus and favors.  Stay tuned for more about that because I have to get through the Super Bowl first!

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So that about wraps it up.  I hope you have a great weekend and Go Eagles!  xo

Baked mac & cheese casserole

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If you read my post this past Friday about the upcoming Super Bowl with the E-A-G-L-E-S playing, you may have caught me mentioning the easiest Mac & Cheese recipe ever.  I promised, and I am here to deliver.

I’ve made this dish dozens of times including holidays, family gatherings, picnics, dinners, you name it.  I also made it for those eight adults and twelve kids at the beach last summer.  It gets requested A LOT, but I don’t mind since I can basically make it in my sleep.

Easiest Baked Mac & Cheese Ever

1 stick butter, melted

2 cups uncooked macaroni noodles

3 cups shredded sharp or mild cheddar cheese

1 quart whole milk

Steps:

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2) Melt butter and place in a 9×13 pan.  Add the rest of the ingredients and stir well.  Make sure milk is evenly distributed.

3) Bake for 1 hour, uncovered.  DO NOT STIR!  Serve warm.

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That is it!  The best part is not having to boil the noodles.  Plus, you have a great side dish in a little over an hour with minimal effort.

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Takeaway tip:  I buy the disposable aluminum pans at the dollar store when making this at someone else’s home or on vacation.  It makes for an easy clean up.  Enjoy!

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Parmesan Onion Canapés

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Sometimes even the oldest recipes can make a comeback and be a crowd pleaser.  For some reason I got to thinking about these canapés.  I haven’t had them in years, but my  grandmother used to make them when I was a child and I remember them being so good.  After searching Pinterest for a bit, I found a few recipes that resembled this one.  Thanks to my mom and aunt, they were able to break the recipe out of their files and I was more than pleased with the result.  Side note – my aunt and cousin made them over the holidays and their guests loved them, and I made them for the Eagles game this past  Sunday and they got two thumbs up from our friends.

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The mixture is so easy to prepare and can be done in advance.  Since spreading it on the bread and broiling in the oven takes very little time, you can have a tasty appetizer to serve your guests in about ten minutes tops.  I hope you enjoy these canapés as much as I do!

Parmesan Onion Canapés

1 cup mayonnaise

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

1 T. milk

1 loaf of cocktail sized rye bread

Mix all above ingredients together and spread on bread.  Broil about 4 inches from source of heat until golden and bubbly.  Since each oven is different, check after one minute and closely watch them until done.  Total broiling time is anywhere from 1-2 minutes.  Serve warm.

Makes approximately 30 canapés.

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With only five ingredients, these tasty canapés could be the shining star at your next party.  Give them a try!

Mimi’s Chicken & White Wine Casserole

This recipe has been in my family for years and has been made over and over again.  My aunt and mom used to make it for family gatherings and it was always a crowd pleaser.  Last summer I made it at the beach to serve eight adults and eleven kids.  Definitely a continued hit!  The best part is that this meal is so easy to put together and it’s super delicious!

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Don’t let the photo fool you.  It’s better than it looks!

Mimi’s Chicken and White Wine Casserole  (Serves 4-6)

4 boneless/skinless chicken breasts (cut in half)

6 slices swiss cheese

1 cup white wine or chicken broth

1 stick of melted butter

2 cans cream of chicken soup

2 cups Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned Stuffing Mix (not cubes)

Procedure:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place chicken in a greased 9×13 pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Top with cheese.

Thin soup with wine/broth and pour over chicken.

Mix stuffing with melted butter and sprinkle over the top.

Bake uncovered for 1 – 1 1/2 hours (depending on oven) until bubbling.  Cover casserole with aluminum foil if the topping is getting too brown.

Serve over rice with your veggie of choice.

Note: I cut the chicken breasts in half because the topping and gravy make the portion size seem larger and are more filling than a normal piece of chicken.

Takeaway tip: When making for a crowd, purchase disposable 9×13 pans from the dollar store for easy cleanup.