Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Pecan Praline Pie

Pecan Pralines are like little drops of heaven right here on earth.  These delicious, creamy, sweet confections are what dreams are made of, for me at least.  As a kid, these were my favorite candy (still are, as a matter of fact).  Most kids couldn't wait to get a Snickers or a bag of M&Ms in their Trick or Treat bag, I was hoping my neighbor made Pralines.  Because, candy-making in Louisiana is tricky business (no pun intended).  Halloween is almost the only time of year that the humidity level is low enough to successfully make these beauties.  I am no candy maker.  I've tried, many times, but it's just not my strong suit.  However, this pie recipe, is so easy to make and tastes just like a Pecan Praline!  I'm not sure if finding this pie recipe is the best thing ever or the worst (because I could eat the whole thing by myself).


1 (9 inch) pie shell
5 1/2 TBS unsalted butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar (pack it down in the measuring cup)
1/3 cup finely chopped pecans (plus more for garnish)
1 (5 oz) box instant vanilla pudding mix
1 3/4 cups cold milk
1 (8oz) carton Cool Whip, thawed (or whip your own heavy cream but this was quicker)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Bake empty pie shell for 5 minutes.  I like to put it on a baking sheet to make it easier to handle.



Meanwhile, melt butter and sugar in a small saucepan.  Add chopped pecans.

After baking the pie shell for 5 minutes, pour the melted butter mixture into it and bake it for 5 minutes more.

Then, let it cool.

While the pie is cooling, whisk together the vanilla pudding mix and cold milk for 5 minutes or until thickened.

Once it is thickened, remove 1 cup of the pudding to another bowl.  Add HALF of the Cool Whip to the 1 cup of pudding and gently fold it together.

Now you should have the original pudding mixture and a lightened, fluffier version.

When the pie is completely cooled, pour the original pudding mixture into the pie shell and spread to cover.

Next, pour the Cool Whip/pudding mixture over the top and spread to cover.

Chill the pie thoroughly in the fridge (at least 1 hour) before slicing.

Slice and garnish with extra Cool Whip and chopped pecans, if desired (I desire!).

There is a layer of "candy" baked onto the bottom of the pie (see it in the photo above).  It, along with the creaminess of the pudding layers combine to give you the flavor of a praline!  It is out of this world good!  My Mama and Daddy absolutely loved it!  I served it to them with a cup of Dark Roast Community Coffee (A Louisiana favorite).  That is pretty much Louisiana in a nut shell (again, no pun intended) good times with family, good food and a good cup of coffee!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Baked Bow Ties

With an Old School Italian Husband to cook for, I have no shortage of pasta recipes.  It's a stereotype, I know, but nonetheless true.  He loves pasta.  This particular pasta recipe is one of my favorites.  It's easy, filling and delicious.  Best of all, everyone in the family loves it.  No picky eater problems.  Ahh, peace at suppertime.  It's a rare thing of beauty.


1 lb bow tie pasta, cooked to al dente
1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 lb ground pork
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
salt/pepper to taste
1 (24oz) jar spaghetti sauce
1/2 cup water
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta to al dente (with a little bite left to it because it's going to finish in the oven).

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large skillet, brown ground beef and pork with the onions and garlic over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.

Drain excess grease.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Add water and sauce.  Stir well.

Add the hot, cooked pasta and stir well.

Lightly grease a 9x13 baking dish.  Pour pasta mixture into baking dish.

Top with shredded mozzarella (I use whole milk mozzarella cut into small cubes) and Parmesan cheese.

Bake in 375 degree oven for 20 minutes until it's bubbly and the cheese is melted.

Like I said, this recipe is easy and so yummy.  Comfort food goodness.  You could lighten it up by using ground turkey, whole wheat pasta and low fat cheese.  Or just go whole hog like I did.  Why not?

Friday, September 18, 2015

Honey Mustard Chicken

If you've ever read this blog you know that I have the Pickiest Eater Ever for a Son and my Old School Italian Husband is where he gets it from.  So, I am used to making separate suppers.  I'll make something cool and delicious for my Adventurous Daughter and myself and something plain and boring for the boys.  Would you believe that Honey Mustard falls under the umbrella of foods they won't eat?  Seriously.  My Pickiest Eater Ever Son eats no condiments at all.  None.  Except for barbecue sauce (and he just started eating that a few years ago).  Yeah.  I'm a big time foodie who loves to cook and half of my family won't touch ketchup.  Go figure.

Anyway, here is an example of something they won't eat (and how to customize it).  

Bonus:  It's quick and so simple to make (perfect for a busy week night)! 


4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin
oil (canola, olive, etc)
2 TBS mayonnaise
1 TBS Dijon mustard (any mustard you have will work)
1 TBS honey
1 tsp apple cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Lightly grease a baking sheet (with sides) with oil.  

If you have really thick chicken breasts, you can cut them in half horizontally to make two thinner pieces.  Pound them with a mallet (or a skillet) to make them an even thickness.  This makes sure they cook evenly.  Plus, thinner pieces cook faster.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper and place on the greased baking sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes (thicker pieces would have to cook longer).

While the chicken is in the oven, whisk together the mayo, mustard, honey and apple cider vinegar.  Season it to taste with salt and pepper and whisk again to combine.

After the chicken bakes for 20 minutes, remove from oven and brush with honey mustard mixture.

If you have a picky eater who won't eat honey mustard, just leave a piece plain or brush it with something they do eat, like barbecue sauce or ranch dressing.  (I use barbecue sauce for my boys, as you can see in the background of this pic):


After you brush on the honey mustard, return it to the oven for 5 more minutes.   

That's it!  Super easy and very flavorful. 

FYI, the honey mustard mixture makes a great salad dressing (or a dip for chicken nuggets or pretzels).  It's simple to make and with ingredients you probably have on hand.

So, there is a really quick and easy recipe that you can customize for your picky eaters.  Enjoy!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Skillet Lasagna

Lasagna is the ultimate comfort food.  Everyone loves it.  How could you not?  Meat, good.  Sauce, good.  Pasta, good.  Cheese, good.  Put it all together, great!  The only bad thing about lasagna is that it's a lot of work to make.  The prep time is pretty long, not to mention the time it takes to bake in the oven.  So, I like to make skillet lasagna.  You get all those great flavors, but it takes a fraction of the time to make.


1 link Italian sausage, casing removed
1 lb ground beef
1/2 an onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (24 oz) jar marinara sauce (any spaghetti sauce you like)
1/2 cup water
1 TBS sugar
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese (shredded or cut into small cubes)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 lb Rotini pasta (the curly springs)
a few leaves of fresh basil

First, put a big pot of water on to boil.  That way it will be ready when you want to cook the pasta.

Remove the casing from the sausage link (just cut it lengthwise and pull the casing off).  In a big skillet, brown the ground beef and the sausage with the onion and garlic.  Use your spoon to break up the ground beef and sausage while it browns.  Season with salt and pepper.  Once it's browned, drain off excess grease.

Add the sauce, water and sugar.  Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes.  It will reduce and thicken a bit.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta to al dente (that just means not too mushy; it should still have a little bite to it).  I use Rotini because the curly springs remind me of the curly ends of lasagna noodles.

Stir the ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan cheeses into the meat sauce until well mixed.

Add the drained, hot pasta to the meat sauce and stir gently to mix.

Tear the fresh basil leaves into small pieces.  Garnish the skillet lasagna with the torn fresh basil.

See how easy that was?  And fast, too.  You could totally make this on a busy weeknight.  It's even faster than a frozen lasagna!  Plus, it makes a ton.  I fed my family of 4 plus two friends and still had leftovers!  This one's a winner.  Enjoy!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Sweet Heat Buffalo Chicken Breasts

My Adventurous Daughter loves all things spicy.  She especially loves buffalo wings.  However, she's not a fan of the bones.  It's hard to get around those tiny bones and there's not much meat there.  So, I thought why not make whole chicken breasts with buffalo sauce.  Duh!  You get that great spicy flavor, but a lot more meat. I added some cane syrup to give the heat a little sweet.  Yum!

*Note:  I only made 2 chicken breasts because my Pickiest Eater Ever Son and Old School Italian Husband do not like spicy.


4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Louisiana Buffalo sauce (I like Crystal Brand)
Pure dark cane syrup (I like Steen's. You could substitute honey)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Lightly oil a 9x13 baking dish.  Place chicken breasts in baking dish and season with salt and pepper.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the chicken.

Pour some buffalo sauce over the chicken, enough to cover.  The more you use, the spicier they will be.

We went heavy on the buffalo sauce.  Next, drizzle some cane syrup on top, as much or as little as you like.

Return to the oven for 5-10 more minutes, depending on thickness (until the chicken is cooked through).

Spoon some of the sauce over the chicken.  I like to serve this with ranch flavored pasta salad.

This chicken comes out so tender (the vinegar in the buffalo sauce tenderizes it).  The mixture of the heat from the sauce and the sweet from the cane syrup is just delicious.  If your a buffalo wing fan, this one's a must-try for you!