Friday, March 27, 2015

Beef and Noodles

This is an old-fashioned Sunday supper.  If you're short on time, this one's not for you.  But, if you've got a few hours, this is a delicious, easy, hearty supper that screams comfort.

I found the recipe in a cook book from the 80s.  It caught my eye because the ingredients are simple things I always have on hand.  I changed it up a little bit.  It called for frozen noodles, which I didn't have, so I substituted dried.  I also used Italian seasoning instead of the marjoram it listed.  Plus a few other changes.  The result was a winner.  The family loved it so much there were no leftovers!  My Pickiest Eater Ever Son actually asked me to make it again soon.  Score!


1 lb chuck roast
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 TBS oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups beef broth
1 cup water
1 TBS Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 cups egg noodles
2 TBS fresh parsley, chopped

Cut the roast into small cubes.

Coat the cubes of beef with the flour.

In a large pot with a tight-fitting lid, brown half of the beef in the oil over medium high heat.

Remove it from the pot and set aside.  Brown the remaining beef, then add the onion and garlic.  Cook for a few minutes.

Drain off any excess grease.  Return all beef to pot.  Stir in broth, water, Worcestershire sauce, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil.  Then, reduce heat to a simmer.  Put the lid on and simmer for 1 1/2 hours or until beef is tender.

Then, stir in the noodles.

Bring to a boil.  Then, reduce heat and cook uncovered for 20-30 minutes or until noodles are tender.  Stir it occasionally.

Finally, garnish with fresh parsley.

This recipe takes some time but very little effort.  The end result is worth the wait.  Comforting and delicious!  A new family favorite!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Strawberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

Coffee cake is quick, easy and versatile.  It's perfect for a week night dessert or when you've got company dropping by for coffee.  Once you've got the recipe down, you can change it up by substituting different kinds of preserves.


4 oz cream cheese, softened
4 TBS butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt (a pinch)
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup strawberry preserves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour an 8x8 baking dish.  Set aside.  I like to use shortening for this but you can use cooking spray. 

In a large bowl, mix cream cheese, butter and sugar until smooth.  A mixer works best, but you can do it by hand with a whisk if you like.  

Add egg and vanilla extract.  Mix until smooth and fluffy.  

In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  With mixer on low, add in half the flour, then all the milk, then the other half of the flour.  Mix just until combined.

Pour into prepared baking dish.

Spoon the preserves in 9 portions on top of the batter.

With a butter knife, swirl preserves into the batter creating a marbled effect.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, until golden and a toothpick comes out clean.

This coffee cake is moist and tender.  It's not overly sweet and has just a hint of tang from the cream cheese.  Delicious with a cup of coffee or tea.  You can substitute any flavor preserves (cherry or peach would be great).  You could even use peanut butter or Nutella!  Or just leave out the preserves and sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top instead.  Very versatile.  Give this one a try.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Lemon Dill Tilapia

This is the perfect dish to make when you are short on time but want something good.  It takes 20 minutes start to finish!  You can't order takeout that fast (and it definitely won't be as good for you).  Frozen peas and buttered angel hair with fresh parsley round out the meal and are just as quick to make.

*A note about fish:  if you buy frozen fillets, thaw them in the refrigerator overnight.  That's the best way to thaw them.  If you buy fresh fish, use it that night or the next.  It won't keep very long!


4 tilapia fillets
Olive oil
Garlic powder
Dried dill
Thin pats of butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Drizzle a little olive oil into a baking dish.  Pat the fish dry with paper towels.  Place the fish in the baking dish.

Season to taste with salt, pepper, garlic powder and dill.

Zest the lemon.  If you don't have a zester, you can use a small cheese grater.  Sprinkle the zest evenly over each fillet.

Cut the lemon in half and squeeze a little juice over each fillet.

Place a few very thin pats of butter on each fillet (if you're watching your cholesterol, drizzle with a little olive oil instead).

Bake in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes.

This recipe is quick, easy, good for you (omega 3s!), not to mention delicious!

Don't like dill?  Use parsley instead.  No tilapia?  Use catfish.  Any white fish will do.  It is very versatile.

This will become a go-to dinner in your house!  Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Savory Baked Pork Chops

Everyone in the family likes pork chops (a rarity in this house of picky eaters!).  But, I always seem to make them the same couple of ways.  I wanted to try something different.  So, here's an easy way to make pork chops with ingredients you probably have on hand.


4 bone-in pork chops, about 1/2 inch thick
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup ketchup
2 TBS soy sauce
1 TBS honey (or brown sugar)
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
3 drops liquid smoke, optional

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Season pork chops with salt and pepper on both sides.  Place in a greased baking dish.

Mix together the ketchup, soy sauce, honey, onion powder, garlic powder and liquid smoke.  Season to taste with salt and pepper (remember that the soy sauce is pretty salty).

Pour mixture over the pork chops and let it sit at room temperature for 15-20 minutes.

Then, bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes. (Longer if you have thicker chops).

These were a hit with the hubby!  They were tender and flavorful!  My Pickiest Eater Ever Son liked them but suggested I use regular barbeque sauce next time.  Which you can certainly do.  But, I enjoyed the Asian twist on the sauce.  So did the hubby, who called it "Ragin' Asian cooked by a Cajun".  Gotta love him!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Simple Shrimp Etouffe

It's Lent.  That means no meat on Fridays.  I love seafood so you would think I would love this time of year.  Not so much.  My Old School Italian Husband refuses to eat seafood and my Pickiest Eater Ever Son is, well, picky.  So, most Friday nights I end up making two different meals.  This past Friday I made three!  What the hubby wanted, the son didn't like and vice versa.  Plus, I was craving Shrimp Etouffe.  But, if I was going to make three different meals I surely didn't have time to make a traditional etouffe (the roux alone takes half an hour).  So, I figured out a way to make a simple etuoffe, no roux required.


1 lb small shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1 stick butter or margarine
2 cups water (or broth, seafood, chicken or veggie)
1 capful Kitchen Bouquet browning sauce
Fresh parsley to garnish
Tony Chachere's (Cajun seasoning)

In a big pot, melt butter over medium heat.  Saute onion, bell pepper, celery and green onions in butter until tender (about 5 minutes).  Season to taste with Tony's.

Add water (or broth or a combo of the two) and Kitchen Bouquet. (It doesn't seem like a lot of water but seafood makes its own liquid.  Later, when you add the shrimp, it will increase the amount of liquid).

Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes. (See how dark the Kitchen Bouquet makes it?)

Season shrimp with Tony's.  Add them to the pot.

Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer until the shrimp turn pink (about 10 minutes or so).

Garnish with fresh parsley (or more green onions).

Serve over rice.

This is quick (especially compared to the original recipe), easy and so good!  Perfect for Lent or anytime (especially when you're making three different meals!).

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Italian Sausage Gravy with Rigatoni

OK, what do you call the red stuff you pour over pasta?  Sauce or gravy?  I say sauce, my Old School Italian Husband says gravy.  To me (a Cajun girl from the river), gravy is brown and is served over rice.  But, my husband's Italian family swears it's gravy.  So for the sake of argument (or the sake of not arguing), let's call it gravy.


2 TBS olive oil
1 lb Italian sausage
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
1/2 an onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 TBS sugar
1 tsp Italian Seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup chicken broth (or water)
1 1/4 cup water
1 lb rigatoni

Cut Italian sausage links into 4 pieces each.

Heat oil over medium-high heat.  Brown sausage on all sides.

Remove the sausage to a plate and set aside.  Drain off excess oil.  Deglace the pan with 1/4 cup broth (or water).  All that means is that you add the broth to the hot pan and scrape up all the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

Add the onions and garlic and cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes.

Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring for 2 minutes.

Add crushed tomatoes, 1 1/4 cups water, 1 tsp Italian seasoning, salt and pepper to taste, Parmesan cheese and sugar.  Bring to a boil.

Return the sausage to the pot.

Reduce to a simmer.  Simmer until the sausage is cooked through, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook rigatoni.  A note about cooking pasta:  make sure you use enough water.  If not, the pasta will be too starchy and stick together.  You need at least 4 quarts of water per pound of pasta, if you have a big enough pot use 6 quarts of water.  Also, salt the water well.  This is the only chance you get to season the pasta.  But, add the salt once the water is boiling.  If you add it before, it takes the water much longer to come to a boil.

Serve the sauce with the rigatoni.

This is a hearty, delicious gravy (sauce).  It's easy to make and tastes way better than anything you get in a jar!  Plus, it is very easy to double if you're feeding a crowd.  It tastes even better leftover.  You can use it as a pizza sauce or put it in a calzone with some cheese.  Give this one a try.  You won't be sorry.