Quesadilla Casserole

Excuse the bad picture, it was getting too dark outside for it to turn out well. Top reasons to make this meal...it is easy, it is cheap, it is meatless AND it is tasty. I have been eating it the past couple days for lunch and LOVE it. Thanks Rachael Ray :-).

Ingredients:
* 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
* 3/4 cup chopped onion
* One 29-ounce can black beans, drained, 1/2 cup liquid reserved
* 1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed
* 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley (I used cilantro)
* Five 10-inch flour tortillas (I used 8 corn tortillas)
* 8 ounces monterey jack cheese, shredded
* 1 cup store-bought green enchilada sauce

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 400°. In a skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups black beans and mash into a chunky paste. Stir in the reserved liquid.
2. Grease a heavy, ovenproof skillet. In a bowl, combine the corn, parsley and remaining black beans. Place a tortilla in the skillet and spread with 1/3 cup mashed black bean mixture. Top with 2/3 cup corn-bean mixture and 1/2 cup cheese. Press to compress the layers. Repeat with the remaining tortillas, mashed black beans, corn-bean mixture and cheese. Bake until the cheese is melted and the casserole is heated through, about 30 minutes. Transfer to the broiler and cook for 1 minute. Serve with the enchilada sauce.
**I put a little enchilada sauce on the bottom of the dish instead of greasing it.

Spinach Beef Skillet

I adapted this recipe from one I saw on Recipe Zaar and it turned out really well. I was looking for something using spinach and ground beef. Everyone ate it, even the girls (although they didn't appreciate the tomatoes) and I just ate the leftovers for lunch. It was simple to make, didn't use many ingredients, was healthy and SO good. We'll definitely make this one again!


Ingredients:

-1/2 lb. ground beef (you could use more if you wanted, or skip it too)
-1 small onion, chopped
-1 clove garlic, minced
-1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes with Basil, Garlic and Oregano, UNdrained
-1 (9 oz) bag spinach
-1 (8 oz) box pasta, cooked (I used Gluten Free Penne, original recipe called for macaroni)
-shredded Parmesan cheese
-salt and pepper

Directions
- Brown beef garlic, and onion in large sauce pan.
- Drain excess fat then stir in tomatoes, spinach and cooked noodles until heated through.
- Sprinkle with Parmesan, salt and pepper before serving.

BBQ Crock Pot Chicken

My mom used to make chicken like this a lot. I don't know exactly what her method was (I think she baked it in the oven), but I do know that we have LOTS of BBQ sauce to use up that I got free with coupons and sales over the summer. This was SUPER easy and really good too! I love it when chicken shreds apart and we love any dish served over rice.

Ingredients:
3 chicken breasts
1/2 c chopped onion, optional
1 bottle BBQ sauce (we used Kraft's Spicy Honey this time)
rice

Directions:
Place chicken in crock pot, sprinkle with sliced onions and pour BBQ over the top.
Cook on low 4-5 hours and serve over rice!

Creamy Pasta and Peppers

When I saw all the pretty peppers on sale while at the grocery store I immediately remembered this pasta dish and bought them. I decided to make my own sauce this time though because I had a little cream left and a whole new tub of Parmesan cheese in the fridge. I looked at a few different recipes and came up with this sauce that we all LOVED...even Mike, who doesn't care for creamy pasta dishes.

Ingredients:
1 T. olive oil
2-3 bell peppers, diced (I used 3/4 each of a red, orange and yellow pepper)
1/2 medium white onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium chicken breasts, cut in strips or chunks
salt and pepper
1 T. butter
1/2 c. cream
1/2 c. 1% milk
2 T. lemon juice
1 1/2 c. Parmesan cheese
8 oz penne pasta (I used gluten free)

Directions:
-Start pasta cooking and prepare sauce...
-In a large saucepan saute peppers, onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat until tender.
-Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and add to pepper mixture, cook about 5 minutes.
-Make space in center of pan and melt butter. Add lemon juice and cream and simmer until it begins to thicken and chicken is cooked through.
-Add Parmesan and stir until melted and heated through.

Pork Loin with Baked Apples

My first ever pork loin and it was a success :-)! The baked apples were good, but I didn't necessarily like them with the pork. The meat turned out moist with a subtle flavor that was a hit with the whole family. Now I just need to figure out what to do with the leftovers (it was pretty big for our little family)! Recipe from My Kitchen Cafe.

(ours was 2.5 lbs and I cut the seasoning in half, but still put 1 c. water in)
Ingredients:
5 pounds pork tenderloin
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon garlic salt
1/8 teaspoon seasoning salt
dash black pepper
1/2 teaspoon rosemary
1 cup water

Baked Apples
4 Granny Smith apples, sliced
1 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons butter, melted

Directions:
Place pork in roasting pan. Make seasoning by mixing together salt, garlic salt, seasoning salt, pepper and rosemary. Lightly sprinkle seasoning mixture over pork. Cook in preheated oven at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until brown, then add 1 cup water. Cover with foil and cook for another 1 1/2 hours at 225 degrees. Pull out of oven and let sit about 10 minutes before slicing.

To make gravy, drain meat juices into pot. In a bowl, mix together 1/2 cup water and cornstarch until smooth. Slowly add to pork juices, stirring constantly over medium-low heat. To thicken gravy, add more cornstarch mixture until gravy reaches desired consistency.

To make baked apples, lay apple slices on greased sheet pan. Sprinkle with brown sugar first, then dribble with melted butter. Cook in preheated oven at 325 degrees for about 15 minutes or until brown.

Serve pork slices with baked apples and gravy. Makes 12 servings.

Chinese Chicken Salad

Mckell was kind enough to share this delicious salad with me over the weekend. She found the recipe on My Kitchen Cafe and it is SOOO good! I was feeding Preston while she dished it up and she knows me well enough that she even took a picture of it for me before we started eating without me asking :-). Mike had some too and LOVED it. I will definitely make it on my own sometime! Thanks for sharing!!!

Ingredients:
1 package (3 ounces) oriental-flavor ramen noodle soup mix (I often use two packages of the noodles to give my kids more crunch to eat)
½ cup pre-sliced almonds
¾ cup bottled red wine vinaigrette (or make your own following the recipe below)
1/2 package (16 ounces) coleslaw mix or broccoli slaw mix
1 package romaine lettuce
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
½ cup fresh cilantro leaves (optional)
2 scallions, both white and light green parts, chopped

Directions:
-Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Break up the ramen noodles with your hands and place them and the almonds on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until the noodles and almonds turn light brown, 6 to 7 minutes.
-Meanwhile, pour the red wine vinaigrette into a measuring cup (or make your own with the recipe below) and stir in the packet of seasoning from the ramen noodle soup mix. Set the salad dressing aside. Place the slaw mix (I only use 1/2 bag), romaine lettuce, chicken, cilantro and scallions in a large serving bowl.
-Toss to combine the ingredients well. Just before serving, pour the salad dressing over the salad and toss to coat. Scatter the toasted almonds and noodles on top and serve.

Serves 4 to 6 as a main course

Homemade Red Wine Vinaigrette
Whisk together:
¾ cup vegetable oil
6 tablespoons red wine vinegar
4 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon black pepper
Ramen noodles seasoning packet

West African Veggie Stew

This dish was beautiful with all the fun colors and I LOVED it! I thought it had a great rich flavor and it is so good for you too! I'm on the lookout for healthy recipes now to get rid of the last of my baby weight :-)!

Ingredients:
1 T vegetable oil
2 cups sliced onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/4" half-slices
1 large tomato, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup raisins (I skipped these)
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t crushed red pepper
1 can (14 oz.) chicken broth
1 can (about 15 oz.) chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
4 cups coarsely chopped spinach (I put in at least 6)

Directions:
HEAT oil in skillet. Add onion and garlic. Cook until onion is tender.
ADD potatoes and tomatoes. Cook 5 min. Add raisins, cinnamon, red pepper, broth and water. Heat to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat 15 min.
ADD chickpeas and spinach. Heat through. Serve over cooked rice or couscous, if desired.

Crock Pot Chops and Gravy

I am really wishing I stocked up on more pork chops when they were on sale. I had never really cooked with them much before but I have found so many great recipes in all different varieties of flavors. This recipe comes from Real Mom Kitchen and definitely satisfied my craving for good ol' home cookin'. The chops tear apart easily after being cooked in the slow cooker so it was like a roast...a tasty delicious roast, with lots of mushrooms on the side for me :-)!

Ingredients:
4 lean pork chops
4 T soy sauce
1/2 C sliced mushrooms (I added much more than this, maybe 1 1/2 c. and thought it was a good amount once they cooked down)
1/2 tsp pepper
2 T Worcestershire sauce
2 can cream of mushroom soup (I used 98% FF)
1 medium onion, sliced or diced
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp parsley (I used fresh and used 2 t)

Directions:
Place pork chops in crock pot. Lay onion slices over pork chops.
Mix the rest of ingredients in a bowl and pour over pork chops.
Cook on low in crock pot for 5-6 hours
I followed her tip below...
Note: After baking I remove the chops and strain the gravy. This way I have a smooth gravy and I reserve the onions (and mushrooms if you use them) for those who like them to put them on their chops.

Rice Balls (with Sweet Potatoes and Butternut Squash)

My ward recently started a recipe group that meets once a month. This month's theme was Deceptively Delicious and I picked the Rice Balls to give a try. I believe the recipe comes from the book deceptively delicious, but I was just emailed the recipe, so I'm not sure on that.
They were actually very tasty (crunchy outside and warm, gooey inside) and of course healthy too, but they were messy to make. I probably won't make them again for awhile just because of the work that goes into them, but when Preston is ready to start feeding himself I'll probably bust them out again.

Ingredients:
1 cup cooked short-grain brown rice
Nonstick cooking spray
3 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 lb. chicken cutlets, rinsed and dried (I used 1/4 c. of canned chicken)
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 c cup sweet potato puree (I used sweet potato baby food, 1 large jar)
1/4 cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese
1/4 cup lowfat (1%) buttermilk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup spinach or broccoli or butternut squash puree (I used baby food again, 2 small jars butternut squash)
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat cracker crumbs or breadcrumbs (you could make these gluten-free by using gluten free crackers or bread)

Directions:
-Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and set it over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add 1 teaspoon oil. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and the pepper, and cook until no longer pink in the center, 4 to 5 minutes per side.
Cut the chicken into chunks and place them in a food processor or blender.
(if you use canned chicken you can skip all that)
-Add the sweet potato puree, cheese, salt, and the buttermilk, and blend until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and stir in the cooked rice. Roll the mixture into 1-inch balls and place them on a sheet of waxed paper or aluminum foil.
(I prepared up to this point the night before and stuck the balls in the fridge until the next day when I finished them)
-In a shallow bowl, beat the egg and vegetable puree with a fork. Put the crumbs in the bowl. One at a time, dip the rice balls in the egg mixture, then roll them in the crumbs to make an even coating.
-Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and set it over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add the remaining 2 teaspoons oil. Add the rice balls and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, turning occasionally and spraying with cooking spray, until browned and crisp all over. Serve warm.

Chicken with Wild Mushroom Cream Sauce

I really LOVED this one! And look how pretty it is with all the colors too! Just looking at the picture makes me want to get some leftovers right now! This was a recipe emailed to me by Campbell's and while most of their recipes are more casserole-like, this one had a very elegant taste and look.

Ingredients:
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
ground black pepper
2 T all-purpose flour (I used cornstarch and just poured some into a shallow bowl, so more than 2 T)
2 T butter
2 c sliced mixed wild mushrooms (cremini, shiitake, oyster) (I used cremini)
4 green onions, sliced (about 1/2 cup)
1 c Chicken Stock
1/2 c chopped roasted red pepper
1/2 c sour cream
2 T chopped fresh parsley

Directions:
Season the chicken with the black pepper. Coat with the flour. (I used cornstarch)
Heat the butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium high heat. Add the chicken and cook for 10 minutes or until it's well browned on both sides.
Add the mushrooms and onions and cook until they're tender.
Stir the stock in the skillet and heat to a boil. Reduce the heat to low.
Cover and cook for 5 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
Stir in the peppers and sour cream and cook until the mixture is hot.
Sprinkle with the parsley.

Baked Ziti

This was another ground beef recipe found on About.com. We haven't had pasta in quite awhile so this hit the spot. I especially loved the cheese on top!

Ingredients:
•1 pound lean ground beef (I used 1/2 lb.)
•1/2 cup chopped onion
•1 green bell pepper, chopped, about 1/2 cup
•1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
•1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce (I used plain spaghetti sauce)
•1/2 teaspoon dried leaf basil, crumbled
•1/2 teaspoon dried leaf oregano, crumbled
•1/2 teaspoon garlic powder or small clove garlic, minced
•1 1/2 teaspoons salt
•1/4 teaspoon pepper
•8 ounces ziti or elbow macaroni, cooked and drained (I used gluten free penne)
•2 cups (8 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese, divided

Directions:
Sauté ground beef, onion, and green bell pepper in a large skillet until onion is tender and beef is lightly browned.
Drain off excess fat; add tomatoes, tomato sauce, basil, oregano, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
Stir well; stir in ziti or elbow macaroni and 1 cup of the cheese; transfer to a 2 1/2-quart casserole.
Top with the remaining cup of cheese. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.

Chili Marinated Steak with Cilantro Cream

This recipe was actually on the package of meat that I bought and sounded pretty good. The only problem was I wasn't sure exactly how to serve it. I ended up serving like fajitas and it was SOOO good! (and I even grilled it myself...started the coals up and everything!)

Ingredients:
4 beef eye round steaks, about 4 oz. each (I used 2)
2/3 cup Italian dressing
1/4 cup chopped cilantro, divided
1 T. chili powder
1/2 cup sour cream

Directions:
Combine dressing, 2 T. cilantro and chili powder in small bowl.
Combine sour cream, remaining 2 T. cilantro and 1 T. dressing mixture in another bowl; cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Place steaks and remaining dressing mixture in plastic bag and allow to marinate for 6 hours.
Remove from marinade and grill, uncovered 15-19 minutes, turning occasionally.
Carve steaks into thin slices and serve with cilantro sour cream mixture.

Smothered Chicken with Brown Rice

This recipe was found in my last issue of Kraft's Food and Family. It was a nice creamy comfort food type meal. I have loved all the new flavors we have been trying out, but sometimes it's nice to just get back to the things you've always loved...like cream cheese and bacon :-).

Ingredients:
4 slices bacon, chopped
4 small boneless skinless chicken breast halves
4 large carrots, thinly sliced
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup chicken broth, divided
2 oz. (1/4 of 8-oz. pkg.) Neufchatel Cheese, cubed (I used a little extra)
3 cups hot cooked brown rice

Directions:
COOK and stir bacon in large nonstick skillet on medium heat 5 min. or until crisp. Remove bacon from skillet; drain on paper towels. Discard drippings from skillet.
ADD chicken to skillet; cook 5 to 6 min. on each side or until golden brown on both sides and done. Transfer chicken to plate; cover to keep warm.
Add vegetables and 1/2 cup broth to skillet; cover and simmer 10 min. or until vegetables are tender.
STIR in broth and Neufchatel; cook, uncovered, 2 min. or until Neufchatel is melted and sauce is thickened, stirring frequently.
Return chicken to skillet; cook 2 min. or until heated through.
Spoon rice onto serving plate; top with chicken, sauce and bacon.

Mexican Chicken Lime Soup

I found this recipe in my September Rachael Ray magazine and had to try it...I can't resist a tortilla soup recipe. It was light and had a great flavor to it from the chiles. A great lunch to share :-)!

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
6 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (I used 1 can chicken)
2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, finely chopped, plus 2 tablespoons adobo sauce (I took the seeds out to make it less spicy and it was just right for me!)
6 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Juice of 2 limes
Salt and pepper
1 hass avocado, thinly sliced lengthwise into 12 pieces
Crushed tortilla chips

Directions:
1.In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Stir in the onion and garlic, lower the heat to medium and cook until the onion begins to brown, about 7 minutes. Increase the heat to high, push the vegetables to the side of the pan, add the chicken and cook, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chipotles and adobo sauce, then stir in the chicken broth. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, skimming any foam. Stir in the cilantro and lime juice; season with salt and pepper.
2.Place 2 avocado slices in each of 6 soup bowls and pour in the soup. Top with the tortilla chips.

Sweet and Sour Chicken

This recipe was found on My Kitchen Cafe and was SOOO good!!! I thought I may have done something wrong when I first browned the chicken because they seemed very "eggy" but they turned out wonderfully. They had a great flavor and a great consistency. I served it over rice with broccoli sauteed in olive oil, garlic and crushed red pepper on the side. DELISH!

Chicken:
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
1 cup cornstarch
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup canola oil

Cut boneless chicken breasts into chunks. Season with salt and pepper. Dip chicken in cornstarch and then in egg. Fry in a little oil until brown but not cooked through. Place in a single layer in a baking dish. Mix sauce ingredients (below) together and pour over chicken.

Sauce:
¾ cup sugar
4 tablespoons ketchup
½ cup vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon garlic salt

Bake for one hour at 325 degrees. Turn chicken every 15 minutes. If you like extra sauce, make another batch of sauce and bring it to a boil on the stovetop. Stir constantly and let cook over medium heat until thickened and reduced - about 6-8 minutes.