Monday, March 22, 2010

Taco Casserole

Today I made the Creamy Chicken Soup that I made a few weeks ago - so good! I just had to make it again before the cold weather is completely gone and we don't want soup anymore. Once again I paired it with cornbread on the side.

On Saturday I made Taco Casserole and last night I made Cheesy Hamburger Hash. Also planned for this week are Toasted Ravioli, frozen pizza, Fish Sticks & Curly Fries, and leftovers.

I was searching my posts, looking for the Taco Casserole recipe so I could add a link to this post, and then I realized that I have not ever posted it! So here ya go:


1 lb. ground beef
1 - 15oz. can spicy chili beans, undrained
1 cup salsa
1 pkg. taco seasonings
2 cups coarsely broken tortilla chips
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup chopped green onion
1 large tomato, diced
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium saucepan, brown ground beef, drain fat. Stir in beans, salsa and taco seasonings. Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. In a 2 quart casserole dish, place chips. Top with beef. Spread on the sour cream. Sprinkle with the onions and tomato. Cover with cheese. Bake uncovered for 25 minutes.

Yum! I still can't believe I never posted this recipe before. We love tex-mex food and this a nice alternative. Have a great week!

Happy eating!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Corned Beef & Cabbage - Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Here in Chicago most people are Irish by blood, but on St. Patrick's Day ALL of us are Irish! I am not Irish by blood, but my husband is - his great-grandfather's last name was Harrington. Around here the name Harrington is synonymous with corned beef because of Harrington's Deli, but we are not related to them. We live pretty close to the deli and have been there for sandwiches, but today you can't get near the place! There was an article in the Chicago Suntimes last week that said corned beef and cabbage is NOT a traditional Irish meal, yet it is what pretty much everyone (including us) will be eating today.

I got this recipe from the Chicago Suntimes Food Section years ago. My mom always made corned beef on St. Patrick's day, but she would boil everything on the stovetop which requires lots of really big pots and constant supervision - this way is much easier. So while my slow cooker works I'll be listening to my favorite Irish music; U2 and The Cranberries! LOL :)


1 onion, peeled and quartered
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 - 3 lb. flat cut corned beef brisket, with seasoning packet
2 cups baby carrots
1 head green cabbage, cored and quartered
1/4 tsp. black pepper

Place onion and garlic in bottom of 6 quart (or bigger) slow cooker, then put in cabbage. Place corned beef on top of cabbage then add the carrots. Sprinkle with the seasoning packet and pepper. Pour in enough water to just cover the meat. Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on low heat for 8 hours. Remove meat from slow cooker and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Serve with the cabbage and carrots, discard the onion.

I will also be boiling some red potatoes to serve with this meal; potatoes are a very Irish food. I will also have spicy mustard and rye bread on the table, as my husband prefers to make a sandwich out of his corned beef. Oh, and don't forget the Guinness beer!

Yesterday my daughter was very excited when I picked her up from school - leprechauns had been in the kindergarten classroom! The class had gone outside for a short recess with their teacher, and when they returned to the classroom there were green streamers and gold doubloons everywhere and chairs were knocked over and books on the floor - chaos! Then they made leprechaun finders, which are cardboard toilet paper rolls decorated with shamrocks and covered at one end with green cellophane. When you peer through this device you can see them if you have a quick eye (and a good imagination). :)

Happy eating!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Egg Salad

Can you believe that I have never had egg salad? Today I made it for the first time and I will eat it tomorrow for the first time. The recipe says to let it sit in the fridge overnight before eating it, but I did lick the spoon after mixing it and it tastes wonderful! I got the recipe from and you can get it here or just keep reading. I read some of the reviews and changed it a little based on the comments and based on what I know I like, so this my version.


8 hard boiled eggs, chopped
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. mustard powder
3 tbsp. onion, finely minced
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. dill weed
1/3 cup celery stalks (& some leaves), finely diced
1/4 tsp. paprika

In a bowl, gently mix all ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.

I have heard that celery leaves have good flavor and my mom always threw some in her dishes, so I do it too. Has anyone actually eaten the leaves to see what they taste like? I will have to try it next time I cut up celery! :)

Today I was doing some shopping at Target and needed mayo. I usually buy Kraft in the squeeze bottle unless something else is on sale. At Jewel (our big chain grocery store) the mayo prices are unbelievably high, even for the store brand. Anyway, I found the aisle and scanned the shelves prices and reached for the 24 oz. bottle which was priced at $2.54. I looked up slightly at the 18 oz. bottle and noticed that the price for that one was $2.89! Can you believe that? The smaller bottle cost MORE than the big bottle! Very strange. But it just goes to show that we should all pay attention to what we are buying.

Happy eating!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

(Un)Stuffed Peppers Casserole

I'd like to start by saying that (sadly) the cube steak sandwiches were not a big hit. I thought they were pretty good, but not great. The flavor was good and it was worth the effort to butter and toast the rolls, but the meat was too chewy for my liking. My husband didn't even finish his sandwich. As one reader commented, it seemed like an alarming amount of Worcestershire sauce, but I think the butter mellowed it out. Like I said, I liked the flavor, but maybe I will try a more tender cut of meat for this recipe. Another reader commented that they liked cube steak for breakfast; is this a chewy meat or did I do something wrong? I've never used cube steak in a recipe before this.

Tonight's dinner recipe came from Tasty Kitchen by SmilingCountryRanch. We love stuffed peppers, especially the frozen ones from Stouffer's. I have never actually made homemade stuffed peppers, but it's on my list of things to try. In the meantime though this will have to do. :)


1 lb. ground beef
1/3 cup diced onion
1 cup crushed tomatoes (undrained)
1/3 cup white rice, uncooked
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. basil
1/2 cup water
1 cup diced green bell pepper
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On the stovetop in an oven safe skillet, brown meat with onion; drain grease. Stir in tomatoes, rice, Worcestershire, basil, water, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 18-20 minutes until rice is tender. Stir in peppers and half the cheese, then top with remaining cheese. Bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
NOTE: If not using an oven-safe skillet, prepare rice mixture in a saucepan and then pour into a casserole dish before baking in the oven.

I forgot to buy crushed tomatoes, but I had diced, so I used those instead and 'crushed' them with my immersion blender. I also do not have a cast iron skillet, so I used my oval cast iron dutch oven. This was really good! But I missed the tomato sauce that comes on the side of stuffed peppers, so maybe I will make some on the side the next time I make this dish.

The meal plan for next week has nothing new except for my recipe for making Corned Beef & Cabbage for St. Patrick's Day, which is really easy and is done in the slow cooker. I still have to make the fish sticks, chicken picatta and breakfast from last weeks meal plan, and the other ideas for next week are frozen pizza, spaghetti, tacos, and veggie pitas. We are on a tight budget and these are cheap meals! I love that line from the car insurance commercial "there is no budge in my budget". :)

Happy eating!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Cube Steak Sandwiches

Two of my favorite new blogs are The Pioneer Woman, and the recipe sharing blog she started, Tasty Kitchen. I discovered Ree after checking her cookbook out from my library and I really love her writing style and photography, as well as her recipes. This recipe sounds really good to me, but I am not sure what my husband (who has to be the only man alive who doesn't love steak) will think of it. Just to clarify, he doesn't hate steak, he would just prefer a ground meat instead. I, on the other hand, could eat filet mignon everyday. Anyway, here is Ree's recipe or you can click here for her printable version.


1 large (or 2 small) onions
2 sticks butter (lots and lots of butter)
2-3 lbs. cube steak (tenderized round steak that's been extra tenderized)
Lawry's seasoned salt
1/2 cup worcestershire sauce
tabasco sauce, to taste
4 whole French/deli rolls (earthgrains are best)

Slice onions and cook in 1/4 stick butter until soft and light brown. Remove and set aside. Slice cube steak against the grain. Season with Lawry's. Heat 2 tbsp. butter over high heat (in same skillet) until melted and beginning to brown. Add meat in a single layer. Cook one side until brown, then flip and cook until brown, about a minute on both sides. Add 1/2 cup (at least) worcestershire sauce, 5-6 shakes of tabasco, and 2 tbsp. butter. Add cooked onions. Stir to combine. Butter halved French rolls and brown in skillet. To assemble, lay bottom half of French roll on plate. Place meat mixture on roll, followed by a spoonful of juice from the pan. Top with other half of roll , cut in half, and devour!

Doesn't that sound good? Not very good for you (all that butter brings Paula Deen to mind), but delicious, no? :)

By the way, those Meatball Burgers I made last week were GREAT! I highly recommend them and will be adding them to our regular rotation!

Happy eating!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Best (Sour Cream) Cheesecake Ever

On Sunday I made Alton Brown's Good Eats Sour Cream Cheesecake recipe and it was SO VERY DELICIOUS!!! My dad, who is 72 and has eaten a lot of cheesecake, said it was the best he has ever tasted. Wow! This cheesecake is moist and rich and creamy; it is the complete opposite of New York style cheesecake which is dryer and tighter (and which I really don't like). In fact the very first cheesecake I ever tasted eons ago was a New York style, and being young and dumb I didn't know that cheesecake could be different, so I thought I hated cheesecake for a long time. Silly girl! You can click on the link to Mr. Brown's original recipe, or you can just keep reading for his wonderful recipe which I changed only slightly so I could use my springform pan.


4 tbsp. butter, melted
1 sleeve graham crackers
1 tbsp. sugar

1 tbsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
1/3 cup heavy cream
3 - 8oz. pkgs. cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1 1/3 cup sour cream

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Crush the graham crackers in a ziploc bag until very fine. Add sugar to bag, seal, and shake well. Pour crumbs into a small bowl, add butter, and mix well with a fork. Pour crumb mixture into a 9" springform pan and press crust into bottom. (Press with the bottom of a glass tumbler for smooth results.) Bake crust for 15 minutes, then let cool for 10 minutes before filling.

Reduce oven tempurature to 250 degrees.
Bring 2 quarts of water to boil in a kettle.

Combine the vanilla, eggs, egg yolks, and cream in a small bowl; set aside.
Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese with the sugar for 1 minute on low speed. Scrape down the bowl, add the sour cream and mix on low speed for another 30 seconds. Scrape the bowl again, boost the speed to medium, and beat until lump free, 2-3 minutes. With the mixer running, slowly pour in the egg mixture, stopping every now and then to scrape down the bowl. When the mixture is homogenous, pour the filling into the cooled crust.

Using extra-wide tin foil, tear off a square piece and place the springform pan in the middle. Wrap the tin foil up the sides of the pan so no water can get in it. Place a kitchen towel inside a roasting pan, then place the springform pan in the middle and place the whole thing in the oven. Pour the boiling water carefully into the roasting pan until it is 1 1/2 inches up the side of the springform pan.

Bake for 2 hours, then kill the heat. Open the oven door for 1 minute, then close it and keep it closed for 1 1/2 hours. Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and refrigerate it for at least 6 hours before serving. (Let the water bath cool completely before removing it from the oven.) To serve, release springform side and gently run a butter knife around the edges before lifting side off. Cut slices with the longest, thinnest knife you have, wiping it with a hot, wet paper towel between slices.

The only difference is the crust. I honestly don't why you wouldn't use a springform pan if you have one, it is so much easier.

Last night for dinner I made cheese enchiladas and the night before that I made baked potato soup. Tonight we are having leftovers. The meal plan for the coming week is: frozen pizza (always), Breakfast, Hot Dogs with Tater Tots and Baked Beans, Chicken Picatta with Pasta Salad, Un-Stuffed Peppers (NEW), and Cube Steak Sandwiches (NEW).

My dad came over the other day and brought us 7 boxes of Girl Scout cookies. My mom was my troop leader, along with my best friend D's mom, from the first grade all the way until our senior year of high school. My dad likes to honor her by buying two of every type of cookie they sell each spring, of which he gives us one of each. I have eaten an entire box of Samoas in 3 days! Yikes! I hope I fit into my outfit for the baby shower I have to go to on Sunday. When we were in high school in G.S. we sold cookies at O'hare airport (can't do that now!) and we raised enough money to take a 4 day cruise to the Bahamas on the Carnival cruise-line the summer after we graduated. What great memories!

One of my favorite blogs This Stop Willoughby has opened and Etsy store The Cabbage Rose. Please check out her blog for a great giveaway, and her store for some awesome merchandise!

Happy eating!