Sunday, August 30, 2009

Tacos in Pasta Shells

We love Mexican food at my house. Brent could easily eat tacos every day. So when I found this recipe, I instantly added it to my weekly menu plan. I made several changes to the original recipe, many of them came from the comments posted to the recipe. I love that aspect of All Recipes' website, reading people's feedback and suggestions is the best part of online recipe searching.
These tacos reheated great and tasted even better the next day!

Adapted from: All Recipes


1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1 onion, diced
4 oz. reduced fat cream cheese
1 package taco seasoning
1 4 oz. can chopped green chiles
1 teaspoon salt
Chili powder to taste
30 jumbo pasta shells
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 cups taco sauce
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese


In a large skillet over medium heat, saute the onion until translucent, then brown beef until no longer pink; drain. Add cream cheese, taco seasoning, green chiles, salt and chili powder; mix and simmer for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain. Toss cooked shells in butter.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Fill shells with beef mixture and arrange in a 9x13 inch baking dish; pour taco sauce over shells. Cover with foil and bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes.
Remove dish from oven and top with the cheese, return dish to oven to cook for 15 minutes more.
Garnish as desired.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Asian Marinated Flank Steak

I just realized as I was typing in the label for this post that I have never posted a steak recipe on this blog. Shameful! The truth is, we don't eat a lot of steak. It's kind of expensive so I don't buy it that often, but I need to remember that flank steak is reasonably priced, plus it's so versatile. This Asian marinade was so wonderful and easy. I made the marinade Sunday afternoon when I got home from the grocery store and it was ready to eat Monday night. I had to make one major change from the original recipe since my favorite store in the world, Super Target, doesn't carry hoisin sauce. I don't really know what it tastes like, so I substituted a ginger teriyaki sauce hoping it wouldn't mess everything up and thankfully, it still tasted great. Next time I make it, I'll add more crushed red pepper to the marinade, Brent and I both thought a little more heat would make it even better.

Asian Marinated Flank Steak
Source: Taste and See
Originally from: Cooking Light

3 tablespoons hoisin sauce (I used ginger teriyaki sauce)
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil (I used regular sesame oil)
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (1-pound) flank steak, trimmed
Cooking spray (I used a little olive oil)


Combine first 9 ingredients in a small bowl. Reserve 1/4 cup of the mixture and put the rest in a large Ziploc bag. Add steak to bag; seal and marinate in refrigerator 24 hours, turning bag occasionally. Remove steak from bag; discard marinade.

Prepare grill or grill pan to medium-high heat. Place steak on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 4 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Let stand 5 minutes. Cut steak diagonally across the grain into thin slices. Serve with reserved 1/4 cup sauce.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Bumbos and Bubbles

My mom came down to visit for a few days earlier this week. Actually, she came to help me with Caleb so I could help my husband and his parents with an important family matter and not worry about who would watch my son. She's awesome like that. Plus, she spent some quality fun time with my little Smiley McSmileson.

I call this his politician pose. He will use it when he addresses large crowds and demands fairness and equality for all. I hope one day my little boy can change the world, or at least make it a wonderful place for everyone he loves. Doesn't everyone wish that for their children?

My little boy is also very strong and tough, he insists on scratching his precious little face (see evidence above), even though I trim his fingernails as far back as I dare. He is now confined to wearing socks on his hands each night when he goes to bed. I can't wait to tell his girlfriends when he grows up. Also, I can't wait to show them what a champion bubble blower he was at three months old.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Ham & Shells Casserole

My mom gave me a whole stack of back issues of Taste of Home a few weekends ago. I've had fun flipping through them, using post-its to mark recipes I want to try. With family coming to town this week, I prepared a casserole I'd marked, hoping it would reheat well, which it did. The base for this recipe, carmalized onions and wilted spinach, was awesome. It's something I'm going to remember so I can incorporate the idea into other dishes. The only change I really made was to use more salt and pepper than the original recipe called for. It would have been very bland without the salt, so taste and season accordingly.

I would also like to add that I hate blogger and the fact that for no reason whatsoever it is doublespacing my ingredient list. I apologize in advance for the awfulness. I hope it doesn't keep you from trying a yummy recipe. If any of you Blogger users out there know what I've done wrong, please leave me a comment and let me know.

Ham & Shells Casserole

Source: Taste of Home December & January 2009


1 pkg (16 oz.) medium pasta shells

3 large onions

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 9 oz. package fresh spinach, torn

1 Tbsp minced fresh rosemary or 1 tsp dried rosemary, crushed

1/4 cup butter, cubed

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

Salt and pepper to taste

3-1/2 cups skim milk

1 cup park-skim ricotta cheese

1 cup (4 oz.) crumbled goat cheese

2 cups cubed fully cooked ham

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350°

Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, saute onions in oil for 15-20 minutes or unitl golden brown. Add spinach and rosemary, cook for a few minutes until spinach is wilted.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt butter. Stir in flour and pepper until smooth and cook for a few minutes. Gradually add milk, stirring to prevent lumps from forming. Bring to a boil, cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in cheeses until blended.

Drain pasta, place in a large bowl. Add the ham, onion mixture and sauce and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour into a greased 9x13 baking dish and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes until bubbly.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Chocolate Biscotti

I love having these with my morning coffee. They're dry, they're biscotti of course, but that makes them just perfect with a hot drink. I like to make them for holidays or weekends when I have fellow coffee drinkers visiting my house. My mom found this recipe years ago and has used the basic idea to make lots of other flavors of biscotti, like vanilla and almond.

1 Box Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe Milk Chocolate Cake Mix
1 Cup Flour
1/2 Cup Butter, Melted
2 Eggs
1 tsp. Almond Extract
1/2 Cup Chopped Almonds

Preheat to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine all ingredients but nuts and beat on low until well blended. Stir in almonds. Divide dough in half. Shape each half into 12"x2" long loaf. The loaf with expand slightly so be sure to leave room on the baking sheet for that.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool on baking sheet 15 minutes. Cut into 1/2" slices. Arrange on baking sheets and back into the oven for another 10 minutes. Remove to racks to cool completely.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Sleeping babies...

As Caleb gets older (he's nearly 12 weeks old now), his sleeping has gotten so much better (knock on wood, we'll probably have a terrible night tonight because I dared to put it in print, gah). Our nights are in a good pattern, go to sleep between 8:30 and 9:30, sleep five to six hours, up to eat, down for another three to four hours. This is a schedule that I can handle! AND, every week seems to be a little better than the week before. To celebrate, here are some cute naptime pictures of Caleb on a quilt my mom made.

As soon as I finish work today, C-Unit and I are heading to Kansas to visit my mom. Tonight is the Relay for Life event benefiting the American Cancer Society. Caleb, mom and I are going to walk a few laps to honor my dad. I'm sure it's going to be very emotional, but I'm really looking forward to spending this time with my mom and my baby. On a lighter note, after the sad stuff tonight, mom and I have lots of cooking plans so hopefully I'll come back with plenty of material for new posts.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tricolored Rotini Pasta Salad

My mom has made this salad since I was a kid. I love to make it in the summer to go along with sandwiches for lunch. Let it sit in the refrigerator a few days, it will taste even better! I've made it with regular noodles before, but I personally think it looks prettier and tastes much better with the tricolored noodles.

Tricolored Rotini Pasta Salad
1 12oz box tricolored rotini pasta
1/2 yellow onion, diced
Green olives, sliced in half, to taste
8 oz. mild cheddar, cut into small cubes
Italian dressing, to taste

Prepare the pasta as directed. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Once noodles are no longer hot, pour them along with the onions, olives and cheese into a bowl. Add Italian dressing to taste, I think I use a little over half a bottle. Stir to combine, store in the refrigerator until serving.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Pesto Tuna Salad with Sundried Tomatoes

After making another batch of pesto last Sunday, I needed to find a recipe to use it in that wasn't pasta based. This tuna salad was nice, but if I make it again I will make a few adjustments. I'll note them here, if you want the original recipe click on the referencing link.

Pesto Tuna Salad with Sundried Tomatoes
Source: Allrecipes

1 (12 ounce) can canned tuna
1/2 cup prepared basil pesto sauce
12 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and diced
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Combine ingredients together in a bowl, season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to serve. This actually tasted better the next day.