Weeknight Cottage Pie

I don’t know about you, but in my house Wednesday’s are known as Wild Card Wednesdays. That means on the Weekly Menu Planner, anything goes for Wednesday’s Supper. We might even have breakfast for dinner if the mood strikes.

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Some Like It Hot

When I made this one-skillet supper for the first time, it was the week of our daughter’s Celebration of Life Gathering. As you can imagine, my thoughts were elsewhere. So rather than tinker around with a new recipe, I was on autopilot and followed the recipe to the T.

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Impossibly Possible Taco Pie

Impossible pie is oh so fitting for today’s recipe share. As a Catholic, I need to acknowledge that today is the Nativity of Mary. She was the Immaculate Conception, born without sin. Miracles do happen.

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Penne Pasta in a Meaty Sauce

Seems I’ve been in a Penne State of Existence lately. Yesterday with our Slow-cooker Chicken Cordon Bleu, and now today with a family favorite – pasta in a meat sauce. The nice thing about pasta dishes is that left-overs warm up nicely for a second bite.

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Casarecce Pasta with Smoked Sausage

Do you shop at Costco? I don’t know about other big box stores, but Costco has assorted Pastas bundled together. Three different types of pasta in one pound bags sold as a package deal. Yeah, six pounds of short pastas.

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Creamy Parmesan Pork Chops

We’ve already established that today is Ash Wednesday. While in hour house that means fasting and abstinence, not everyone will be observing dietary restrictions for religious purposes.  For some, this is just another Wednesday, for others it has meaning without the Catholic limitation. Fine by me.

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Supper Time is Fun Time with Taco Biscuit Cups

Taco Biscuit Cups are super easy to make, fun to eat and unbelievable filling. One or two “biscuits” is more than enough for even the largest appetites. My guys loved them. Hubby said he could eat Taco Cups several times a week. They are that good.

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Crock Pot Pizza Pasta Get a Heavenly Stamp of Approval

Today Brother Dear would have been 62 years young. Over the years since his surrender to cancer, when I’ve felt that need to draw him near, I’ve cooked up one of his favorites. Sure enough, as the aromas float to the heavens, I feel his spirit smile, filling the room with warmth and joy. But the world moves on, and so must I.

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Chicken Paprikash and Dracula’s Castle

When I came across a recipe for Easy Chicken Paprikash in my now 25+ year-old Campbell Cookbook, it sparked my curiosity. Just what is Chicken Paprikash. Sounded middle-eastern to me. Boy, was I wrong. Chicken Paprikash is a Hungarian dish. The traditional rendition is made with dumplings and utilizes a whole chicken. It more closely resembles Chicken and Dumplings (surprise!). The more modern adaptations utilize wide egg noodles or even Bow-Tie pastas. Just as the name implies, this dish relies in a heavy dose of Paprika, a spice commonly used in Hungarian cuisine. The sauce takes on a rosy color. And for those Dracula fans, in Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula, Jonathan Harker dines on Chicken Paprikash during his tourney through the Carpathian Mountains to Dracula’s castle.

Oh my, now my mind is swirling with all sorts of dinner party ideas and counts and scary stuff! Yeah, check the local weather reports and make this on a night that thunderstorms are in the forecast. What fun!

Easy Chicken Paprikash
4 cups cooked Wide Egg Noodles, for serving
1 tablespoon Butter
4 Chicken Breasts, boneless
10 oz Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup
3 Teaspoons Paprika
1 Pinch Cayenne Pepper
1/3 cup Sour Cream
Parsley for garnish

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook egg noodles according to package directions. Keep warm until ready to serve.

While the water comes to a boil and the noodles cook, melt butter in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.

Brown chicken for about 5 or 6 minutes per side in the hot butter. Remove, keep warm and set aside.

To the now empty skillet, heat soup with paprika and cayenne pepper. Add sour cream and whisk to blend smooth. Heat through.

Return chicken to the pan, cover and simmer until breast are cooked through and no longer pink. Spoon sauce over chicken to coat well.

Spread pasta on a serving platter. Top with chicken and garnish with parsley.

Whatever you do, don’t serve with Blood Oranges!


Beefy Spanish Skillet Nachos

Not that long ago, I was cruising through a collection of Pillsbury recipes on line. For the most part, Pillsbury recipes are basic, not too complicated, with ingredients that are easy to recognize. My guys really enjoy simple, down home eating. I came across a recipe for Skillet Nachos. It was an interesting spin on the usual nachos. As a Pillsbury recipe, it called for “brand” ingredients, a certain kind of canned tomato, a particular taco seasoning and so forth. While I am sure those are all fine ingredients, it’s not what I happen to have in my pantry. If I can avoid shopping for special, brand-name ingredients, I do so.

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Rigatoni and Chicken Bake with Artichokes

Did you know that the artichoke, specifically the globe artichoke, is actually the unopened flower bud of a thistle-like plant. These unopened flowers were a passion of Catherine de Medici in fifteenth-century Florence, Italy. Catherine became the wife of Henry II, king of France. King Henry excluded Catherine from the political arena. Upon his death, she became ruler of France through her sons, each of whom she outlived.

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Lightening Quick Balsamic Dijon Pork Chops

On the meal planner was a recipe I picked up from Mary over at Bare Feet in the Kitchen. Mary promised a recipe that was quick and delicious. I’ve seen a lot of recipes that claim to be “quick”, but by the time all the chopping, prepping and preheating is done, not to mention the additional cooking time it seems to take, quick might not be as quick as they claim.

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Beef Enchilada Skillet

I love to collect recipes.  I have hundreds of cookbooks (an ever-growing collection that hubby claims borders on obsession). I seek out cookbooks everywhere we go – flea markets, antique stores, used book stores – even the grocery store checkout lines. I read my cookbooks the same way some people read a novel – from cover to cover. Generally speaking; unless it’s a multi-step, complicated recipe with techniques I’ve never tried before; I tend to read through a new recipe and then tweak it a bit. Most of what I “create” are actually inspired by others, prodding me ever forward to create a rendition which reflects my unique style. Like most cooks in this modern age, my quest for new revelations in the kitchen is not limited to those bound in books – the internet is an ocean of tantalizing dishes just waiting to be discovered. My inspired creations are then added and saved to my online stockpile of cookbooks on yumprint.com (over 4,000 recipes thus far. It can be months or even years before a recipe is taken for a test drive).  Most of my online collection is composed of recipes created by others that have inspired me to try new things, to reach new heights and learn through trial and error. That said, I invite – no make that encourage – you do the same with anything you like. In my humble opinion, recipes are designed to evolve with each individual, taking on new depth and flavors as they are joyfully passed along.

Recently I was inspired (by necessity mind you) to tweak a simple one-skillet dish I stumbled upon four years ago while perusing the recipe collection at 99cooking.com. The original recipe wasn’t complicated. I liked it just the way it was. Simple, straight forward, flavorful and perfect for a busy weeknight meal.  So I added the dish to my weekly menu plan (one of the features I love so much in Yumprint – the ability to create menus and shopping lists from that).

In our house, we have our assigned “duties” when it comes to food preparation.  Mine is to create and execute a weekly meal plan.   This includes creating the shopping list for the week.  My husband’s contribution to the “creative” process is to take that shopping list, rummage through the pantry; refrigerator and freezer, marking off the ingredients we have on-hand.  That way we buy only what we need.  I bring this up because the recipe I am about to share called for “Mexican Hot Chili” seasoning.  I love my husband dearly, but he’s not necessarily the best person to check our spices.  We had chili powder, so he marked it off the list, not realizing that there is a difference.  When it came time to prepare dinner, I realized we didn’t have the correct chili seasoning, so I improvised. This improvisation resulted in an enchilada sauce that was HOT!!!  So if you like it hot, use the notes at the bottom of the recipe.  Or make up your own . . .

Skillet Beef Enchilada
Enchilada Meat
1 ¼ lb ground chuck
1 cup uncooked Minute Rice
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese (more if you like)

Enchilada Sauce
3 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons Hot Mexican-Style Chili Powder (McCormick)
½ teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon unsweetened coca powder
1 ½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 ½ teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon Mexican Oregano
1 can (8 oz) Hunts Tomato Sauce (plain)
2 Cups Water
1 Cup Beef Broth (from 32 oz container)

Brown the meat in a large skillet. Drain off any fat.

While the meat is browning, make the enchilada sauce. In a bowl, mix the dry ingredients using a wire whisk to blend well. In a medium sauce pan, add 1/2 cup water and dry spices. Whisk until smooth. Add tomato sauce and remaining water and the broth. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until sauce thickens, about 8 minutes.

Add the rice and about half of the enchilada sauce to the cooked beef. Cook over medium heat until the rice is cooked, about 8 minutes. Add more enchilada sauce as needed to keep moist.

Sprinkle the shredded cheese over the mixture and lower the heat to prevent rice from burning. Cover and cook until cheese is melted, about 5 minutes.

Sprinkle with the chopped green onion and serve. If desired, top with a dollop of sour cream.

* NOTE:  To replace 3 tablespoon Hot Mexican-Style Chili Powder, I used 1 tablespoon each: Chili Powder, Chipotle Powder & Cayenne Powder.  Next time I’ll use a little less Cayenne Powder – this blend was SUPER hot!  My guys loved it, but then they like to each roasted jalapeno peppers, so they aren’t exactly shy when it comes to spicy foods. I thought it was a little over the top in the heat department.

On a closing note, the enchilada sauce was super easy to make.  I plan to play with it a bit – maybe use the sauce to create a chicken dish (similar to a Mole).  Like I said in the beginning, recipes are a source of inspiration, meant to deviate from as one sees fit.  When I do make my chicken dish, I’ll be sure to share.

Forty-Cloves Slow Cooker Garlic Chicken Legs

What can I say – love all those French garlic rich chicken dishes. I adore chicken kissed with wine. I love playing around with new recipes. So here we are; with a new recipe to play with from Eat At Home Cooks.com. She has a great take on the Forty-Clove chicken – utilizing legs and cooking everything up in a slow cooker. The only changes I’ve made is to include warm baguettes and create a sauce of sorts using the chicken juices that accumulate in the pot reduced with a little white wine. Let’s face it, just about everything is elevated when wine is added to the dish. This recipe is a blend of her awesome crock pot method and my rendition of French Country Forty-Clove Garlic Chicken.

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Best Ever Not Homemade Cheese Tortellini

A long time ago (way back in May 2014) I discovered what must be the best Pasta Company on the planet, Giovanni Rana. Every pasta I’ve sampled in their line blows my mind. Their phenomenal Maine Lobster Ravioli is what truly got me hooked. Hands down, the best commercially prepared Lobster Ravioli I’ve ever tasted. In my opinion Giovanni Rana and their approach to a wonderful line of products continues to ring true to their commitment to quality. Quality ingredients make all the difference in the world, be it cooking from scratch or using prepackaged foods. Giovanni Rana may cost more than other pastas, but then again you get what you pay for. One thing is certain, you need not sacrifice flavor for a quick, easy meal.

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