Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Lasagna Casserole

I know what it's like to be needing some extra help from family or friends, for instance, when I have a new baby, or am sick or hurt. Friends, neighbors, and family always offer extra help by bringing dinner to your family. It's something I love to be able to do for those in need as well.
Today's recipe is one of my go-to recipes for when a family needs a meal. It's quick, easy, cheap, and everyone likes it.

Here's what you'll need:

1 lb. ground beef seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and chopped, dried onion flakes
1 (12 oz.) pkg. pasta (corkscrew or small shells or 3 different shaped pastas work really well and kids think they're fun to eat)
2 (26.5 oz.) containers spaghetti sauce
1 (16 oz.) carton cottage cheese
1 egg, slightly beaten
2 C. shredded Mozzarella cheese
1 C. sliced, fresh mushrooms (opt.)

Cook pasta according to instructions. Cook beef, with seasonings and mushrooms (if desired), in a large skillet over medium heat until cooked through. Drain pasta. In a large bowl, combine the spaghetti sauce, cottage cheese, egg, and half of the cheese. Add the cooked hamburger and pasta. Pour into a greased 9x13 inch baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake another 5 minutes.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Cinnamon Cream Syrup

One weekend, we decided to make breakfast - pancakes, I think. After I mixed up the batter and handed it over to my hubby to cook, I went to pull out the syrup. As I rumaged around the cupboard, I remembered that we had finished it off the last time I made breakfast. I didn't have time to run to the store and get some more, so I jumped online and started searching for recipes.

My kids love maple syrup but I soon found that I didn't have any maple extract either. So when I came across this recipe from, I thought I'd give it a try since I had all of the ingredients. Boy, am I glad I did! This is our new favorite syrup and we all agree that it is WAY better than maple!! So, as promised, here is today's yummy recipe that you MUST try!

Here's what you'll need:

1 C. sugar
1/2 C. light corn syrup
1/4 C. water
3/4 tsp. cinnammon
1 (5 oz) can evaporated milk

In a saucepan, combine first four ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium heat; boil and stir for 2 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes. Stir in evaporated milk. Serve over pancakes, waffles, or french toast. Our favorite is to serve it with french toast because it makes it even more cinnammonny (is that a word?)! But we love it with any of those options!! It is so good; try it and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Fudge Cookies

My poor kids! I completely forgot that today was St. Patrick's Day and sent them each to school and Pre-school NOT dressed in a speck of green! I only realized what today was by this afternoon. I felt so bad that hadn't done all I could to prevent them from getting pinched. So I tried to make it up to them with a fun St. Patrick's Day treat.

One of my favorite things my mom made growing up were Fudge Mounds. These are light, tender, and fluffy cake-like cookies that are very similar to whoopies. She always topped them with mint flavored frosting, tinted green. I LOVED them!!!

Since I've moved to a much higher elevation, I've tried to make them and have them turn out as I remember, but I've had no luck. Instead, the altitude here makes mine turn out to be fudge cookies, which is not all that bad, by any means! In fact this is one of my good friends' favorite cookies now, and I thought this would be the perfect thing to make up for my poor parenting skills!
Here's what you'll need:
1 C. brown sugar, packed
1/3 C. shortening
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
2/3 C. milk
2 C. flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1/3 C. cocoa

Combine the first five ingredients, then add the last four. Beat until well combined. Drop onto an ungreased baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes. I found that at 10 minutes, the cookies are really fudgy. At 11 minutes, they are in between fudgy and cakey. And at 12 minutes, they are more cakey, but have a thicker, more structured form. So it depends on how you'd like them as to how long you should bake them. For me, 11 minutes is perfect! Cool on the baking sheets for 5-8 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
This is after 10 minutes of baking. They are nice and puffy when you take them out of the oven, but then deflate as they cool, as seen below.
Once cooled, frost with peppermint flavored buttercream frosting, tinted green. This time, I made yummy fudge cookie sandwiches (like whoopie pies) that were super delish! At Christmas time or Valentine's Day, I like to tint the frosting red and frost the tops of the cookies, leaving them open faced, and sprinkle with crushed candy canes. HEAVEN!!!!

Though these cookies aren't too bad, what makes them amazing is eating them with frosting! I wouldn't eat them without!! Mmmmmmmm!!!!!!

Weekend Waffles

As I have mentioned many times before, my little family LOVES breakfast foods. And just like my pancakes, I have two recipes that I use - one with buttermilk (which is better) and another with out (a very good second option). So today I'm giving you my favorite non-buttermilk waffle recipe. I love how this recipe turns out so beautifully with a lightly crisp outside and a tender, delicious inside. And one of the reasons why I like it so much is because I don't separate and beat the egg whites and they still turn out fabulously!!

Here's what you'll need:

1 3/4 C. flour
1 T. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 3/4 C. milk
1/2 C. oil

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs for five minutes (this is very similar to my pancake recipe and will give you a more tender finished product; if you don't beat the eggs this long, you'll get more of a chewy, rubbery texture). Add the milk and oil and beat until well combined. Then add the dry ingredients and stir or beat on low just until combined. It's alright to still have some lumps. Pour batter into a greased, heated waffle iron and cook until golden.

When I make these, I always double the batch, first of all, and then I cook a few and have them sitting stacked on a plate so that everyone can get started eating while we are cooking more as we eat. I cook them right at the table so that they go straight from the waffle iron to someone's plate. That way we get fresh, perfect, delicious waffles as soon as they are ready and we are ready for them!

You can serve these with maple syrup, fruit syrup, fresh berries, or my special Cinnamon Cream Syrup, which I'll be posting tomorrow. And I'll tell you what, that's something to look forward to!!!

P.S. One more quick note! When my in-laws serve waffles, they like to break an egg or two into the greased and heated waffle iron, salt and pepper them, shut it, and let it cook until the eggs are done. My kids think it's the most fun way to eat eggs. They look just like waffles!

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