Monday, February 6, 2017

Baked Italian Pasta Skillet

Yield: 4-6 servings         Time: about 40-50 minutes
  • 8 ounces of small shell pasta
  • 1/2 pound ground chuck
  • 1/2 pound whole hog, mild pork sausage
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1  - 4 ounce can mushrooms, drained
  • 1 - 24 ounce can meat spaghetti sauce
  • 1 - 10.5 ounce can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/8 cup water
  • 1 cup shredded Colby jack cheese, slightly packed
  • 1 Tablespoon Parmesan Romano cheese
  • 1 ounce, or about 18 thin slices of pepperoni
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F or 175 degrees C
  • Fill a 2 to 2.5 quart sauce pan about three-quarters full of water and bring to a boil. Do not add salt.
  • While you're waiting for the water to boil, chunk up and brown the ground chuck, pork sausage, and dried Italian seasoning in a 12 inch, oven safe skillet.
  • Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon of Italian seasoning over the meat and mix it with a spatula as the meat browns.
  • Place the browned meat into a colander that is sitting on top of another dish, or paper towels to drain off any excess fat.
  • When your pot of water begins to boil, pour in shell pasta, and cook until al dente, about 7 - 8 minutes. Let the pot of water come back to a simmer after adding the pasta, but don't boil it. 
  • While the pasta cooks, rinse your oven proof skillet briefly with hot water to remove excess fat.
  • Next, combine the spaghetti sauce, mushroom soup, drained mushrooms, water, teaspoon of brown sugar, and 1/4 tsp. of dried Italian seasoning in the skillet.
  • Add the browned meat.
  • Drain the al dente pasta and stir it into the skillet of meat sauce.
  • Slice pepperoni slices into quarters and sprinkle over the top of the pasta mixture.
  • Next, sprinkle the cup of shredded cheese over the top of the pasta
  • Finally, sprinkle the Parmesan Romano cheese over the top of the shredded cheese.
  • Bake in preheated oven until the cheese is melted and bubbly, about 20 - 25 minutes.
Enjoy eating some almost homemade happiness on a plate!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

My Cooking Hasn't Been Fancy

Since the beginning of January 2017 I haven't been posting much because I really haven't been cooking as much. 
Working 40 plus hours and winter weather has kept me viewing Netflix, or DVR recordings of cooking shows more than I have been in the kitchen.
Dinner - Deli Chicken
Twice a week, dinner has been fried chicken from the store deli, rotisserie chicken from the store deli, and canned veggies. Not real exciting fare.
Pasta, Pasta, Pasta
Next has been a lot of pasta with homemade white sauces. The hubby has a stomach issue that is keeping him from eating most tomato based pasta sauces. See? Nothing real exciting. Certainly not post worthy. I have already posted about making a basic white sauce.
Click Here for the white sauce recipe.
Roast in a Crockpot
 My crockpot has been getting a workout making pork roast and chuck roast that is served with the thickened broth. Again, nothing real exciting or post worthy.
Homemade Pizza
Pizza has also been served quite a bit lately and I have already posted about how to make homemade pizza,
Click Here for the update and recipe link
Future Posts
My youngest grandson is turning one in February and I am making a rubber duck smash cake. Watch for the pictures and step by step photos. Also, tricolor, Valentine cookies for the grandkids are going to be baking in a week or two.
So keep looking through my recipes and cooking up some homemade happiness on a plate!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Rosette Birthday Cake

Cake mix strawberry cake with cream cheese frosting. 10" bottom layer and 4.5" top layer
Cake Pan Hack
Use a removeable, 1.5 quart crockpot to bake a 4.5 inch cake layer. Grease and flour the inside of the small crockpot insert, pour in about an inch and a half of batter, and bake for about 20 - 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few crumbs clinging to it.
Wilton 1 tip created large rosettes. Small open star tip for small red flowers. Small leaf tip for the leaves. #5 writing tip for writing. 

Bottom and top layers are split and filled with cream cheese frosting.

Princess coach was made using the mold shown below and melted vanilla bark. The gold is from Wilton color mist, an edible spray. 
Melted vanilla bark held a round toothpick onto the back of the molded candy carriage. 

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday Season!

Cocoa Drop Cookies

Holiday cocoa drop cookies dipped into vanilla almond bark and sprinkled with .....Christmas sprinkles!
Bill ate one of these cookies and he LOVED the vanilla bark side!
He's my official taste tester and fellow lover of sweets. In fact, he would be happy if I dipped the WHOLE cookie in almond bark. 

However, I love the contrast between the dark chocolate of the cookie and the white of the almond bark side.

Personally, I like using almond bark in place of chocolate because it is so easy to use. 
Just pop two or three squares of almond bark and 1 tsp solid vegetable shortening into a small deep bowl and microwave in 30 second bursts and stir until the bark is melted and smooth. 
You are ready to dip cookies!

Yield: about 4 dozen cookies
Time: 1 hour chill time          8-10 minute bake time for each cookie sheet of cookies.

  • 1 cup sugar 
  • 2/3 cup salted butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Place sugar, butter, egg, water, and vanilla into a medium size bowl and mix until blended.
  • Stir in flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir until mixed well.
  • Cover bowl tightly and chill in the refrigerator for about an hour.
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  • Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls about 2 inches apart on to an ungreased, or parchment paper lined cookie sheet. 
  • Bake until almost no indentation remains when touched, with is about 8-10 minutes. 
  • Immediately remove from the cookie sheet and cool.
Dipping the Baked Cookies
  • Once the cookies are cool, melt 3-4 squares of vanilla almond and 1- 2 tsp. of solid vegetable shortening in a small, deep bowl, following the package directions. I wing it and put the ingredients in the bowl and microwave in 30 second bursts and stir in between the bursts until the almond bark and shortening are melted. 
  • Dip each cookie into the bark, shake off excess bark, and add sprinkles. My method consists of pouring the sprinkles into a soup bowl and holding the dipped cookie over the bowl as I sprinkle the decorations on each cookie. This is a great job for the kids! 
  • Set dipped cookies onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. 
  • When the cookie sheet is full of dipped cookies, put the cookie sheet into the freezer for 5 minutes to set the vanilla bark.
  •  Remove cookie sheet from the freezer and cookies are ready to start packaging.
Enjoy eating some homemade happiness on a plate!