28 Delicious Thanksgiving (and Thanksgiving Leftovers) Recipes for 2016

Thanksgiving 2016 2

It’s that time again; time for the annual Thanksgiving post. After almost 6 years of blogging, I have accumulated quite a few recipes that work in this category, so I have to cull some out so as to not end up with a post with 50 different additions. ๐Ÿ˜›

Let’s start with entrees. Because…turkey…ham. Yummy. ๐Ÿ˜€

This Orange Marmalade Brown Sugar Glazed Ham is my absolute favorite way to make a ham. The ham turns out so moist and tender with such a delicious sweet/salty flavor you’ll keep coming back for.Orange Marmalade Brown Sugar Ham-001This Sesame Soy Turkey Breast is fantastic if you’re a cook who’s willing to leave the traditional box a bit on Thanksgiving. This glaze can also be used on a whole turkey, a chicken, game hen, you name it.

Sesame Soy Turkey Breast

Sesame Soy Turkey Breast

I know that a lot of families like to serve a pasta dish as one of the main dishes so I’m including our favorite, this Cheesy Sausage And Meatball Pasta Bake. This makes a LOT, so it’s perfect for Thanksgiving, when a lot of people are there, with everyone getting as little bit of each dish.Cheesy Meatball And Sausage Pasta BakeLet’s move on to appetizers; those little bits you put out to keep everyone from storming the kitchen begging for food. ๐Ÿ˜›ย  One of my favorite easy dips (and when I say easy, I mean it) is my White Trash Dip. I know; such a classy name, lol. But it is great for appeasing the hungry mongrel hordes and quick to throw together, which is always a plus on Thanksgiving.
White Trash Dip
I have adored Boursin Cheese for years, but man, that stuff is expensive for the small amount you get. So I started making my own years ago. This is soooo good and always a hit. It’s creamy, great with veggies like celery sticks as well as crackers. If you have any left over, it also makes a great stuffing for chicken breasts.

Creamy Homemade Boursin Cheese Spread

Creamy Homemade Boursin Cheese Spread

Ahhhh, side dishes. What would Thanksgiving be without 50 side dishes to serve with the turkey and ham? One of my all time most popular posts here at From Cupcakes To Caviar is my Insanely Cheesy And Creamy Mac And Cheese. This makes a HUGE pan of mac and cheese, so it’s perfect for the holidays.Insanely Cheesy And Creamy Mac & CheeseYou can’t have turkey without mashed potatoes, right?
I was never a mashed potato fan until I made up these Ultimate Buttery Sour Cream And Onion Mashed Potatoes. I totally love these. They are creamy, buttery (boy, are they buttery) and with a subtle tang from the cream cheese.

Ultimate Buttery Sour Cream And Onion Mashed Potatoes

Ultimate Buttery Sour Cream And Onion Mashed Potatoes

If you want to go a little different, you can’t beat these Herb Roasted Potatoes And Root Vegetables. The potatoes and veggies get all crispy on the outside and all soft and tender inside. So, so good.

Herb Roasted Potatoes And Root Vegetables

Herb Roasted Potatoes And Root Vegetables

I was never a cold pasta salad sort of a person until I made up this Chilled Caprese Tortellini Salad a few years ago. It’s great during the holidays for people who may want something a little lighter (and with no meat in it, lol) but still full of flavor.Chilled Caprese Tortellini Salad
I have a major thing for Winter squashes. To me, they stand so far above the ubiquitous Summer squashes. I took one of my favorites here and stuffed it to come up with Squash Stuffed With Sausage, Pears And Cranberries. This is a fantastic addition to the holiday meal or a great light entree on it’s own.

Squash Stuffed With Sausage, Pears And Cranberries

Squash Stuffed With Sausage, Pears And Cranberries

You can’t have Thanksgiving dinner without cranberry sauce, right? While I admit to a secret love for the kind that slithers out of the can with a loud plop, I also love homemade cranberry sauce and make a large batch every year. My Spiced Spiked Cranberry Sauce is a perfect foil for all the rich dishes you’ll be serving. The brandy is completely optional so don’t let that turn you away from it. Spiced Spiked Cranberry Sauce

Now we come to the breads. I’m not normally a big one for breads, but hot and fresh on the holidays? I tend to go for them more at that time. And these Angel Biscuits have become a family favorite. Since they have baking powder in them as well as yeast, they are fairly foolproof, which is great for the less experienced cooks out there.

Angel Biscuits

Angel Biscuits

The rolls I have been making for years are these Oatmeal Yeast Rolls. They are so fluffy and soft; perfect hot spread with butter or later as a mini turkey sandwich (Yes, I know this is a bad photo. The post is an old one, when my photography skills were sub-par, to say the least. The rolls however, are amazingly good)

Oatmeal Rolls

Oatmeal Rolls

I love to make a few loaves of bread for Thanksgiving as well as rolls. They are so good with dinner and make fantastic sandwiches the next day. I particularly love to make my Loaded Baked Potato Bread, The flavors in it go wonderfully with a turkey sandwich!

Loaded Baked Potato Bread

Loaded Baked Potato Bread

Here in the south, a lot of people like to make cornbread to go with dinner, even on the holidays. My Sweet Cream And Honey Cornbread is a favorite. It’s fluffy, not at all dry like so many cornbreads can be, with just a touch of sweetness.

Sweet Cream And Honey Cornbread

Sweet Cream And Honey Cornbread

Then, of course, we have the part of dinner that everyone looks forward to; dessert! And man, you know I have some desserts to share with you! I have to start with the classics, of course, so here is my favorite- my Decadent Extra Creamy Pumpkin Pie. This one is posted with a really good cornmeal crust, but you can use your favorite crust. Just make sure it’s a deep dish one. Decadent Extra Creamy Pumpkin Pie In A Cornmeal Crust
That pumpkin pie tends to be my husbands favorite. Mine however will always be Pecan Pie. I love it slightly warmed with heavy cream poured over it. So bad for me, but so delicious!Deep Dish Pecan Pie

The last few years, my favorite pecan pie has had to vie with this Cranberry Apple Cake. I can’t say enough good things about this cake. It’s absolutely delicious and I can’t imagine the Thanksgiving meal without it now. It’s sweet, tangy, crispy, just a wonderful dessert that I look forward to all year.

Cranberry Apple Cake

Cranberry Apple Cake

If you want a classic (not to mention, heavenly chocolate goodness ๐Ÿ˜€ ) you’ll want to make this wonderful Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake With Chocolate Icing This is a favorite with pretty much all age groups, and even those people who say Thanksgiving should be all about the pies. I’m not even normally a cake person and I love it!

Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake With Chocolate Icing

Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake With Chocolate Icing

If you want to do a different apple dessert, my Worlds Best Apple Spice Cake With Creamy Vanilla Butter Sauce would be a great choice. It’s easy to throw together the day before you need it and then just warm up the sauce when ready to cut and serve. Again, I’m not huge on cakes, which is why if you see me posting one, you know it MUST be good.

Worlds Best Apple Spice Cake With Creamy Vanilla Butter Sauce

Worlds Best Apple Spice Cake With Creamy Vanilla Butter Sauce

Or maybe you prefer a classic apple dessert? I find myself going for this Old Fashioned Apple Crisp all year round, but it’s a delicious choice on Thanksgiving!Old Fashioned Apple Crisp 2

I have a couple of desserts for you that are a bit more elegant, plus not as heavy. The first is one I love; my Elegant And Easy Lemon Almond Cake. This cake is light and filled with the flavor of almond and lemon; perfect for the family members who want a little something for dessert, but don’t want the heavier sweets.

Elegant & Easy Lemon Almond Cake

Elegant & Easy Lemon Almond Cake

The other one is one of my more recent creations- these Skillet Pears With Autumn Spiced Caramel Sauce. These are wonderful if you have a smaller gathering. The pears end up tender and juicy and the caramel sauce is fantastic.Skillet Pears With An Autumn Spiced Caramel Sauce 9

So, what to do with leftovers once Thanksgiving is over? When you tire of just making a plate of leftovers, I have some things you can do with some of them. If the title says chicken, obviously you can sub in that leftover turkey staring you in the face.

We love Mexican food in my house. Yes, I know that much of what we all call Mexican food has been totally Americanized, but it’s still delicious, so who cares? One of my family’s favorites are these Cheesy Chicken (Turkey) And Chorizo Enchiladas. They have the perfect mix of creamy, spicy and cheesy. I make them all year round, but they are a perfect way to use up leftovers.Cheesy Chicken And Chorizo Enchiladas 2

Everyone makes soup after Thanksgiving. But I have one here that doesn’t need to have you simmering stock for hours on end. I can eat a boatload of my Quick And Easy Turkey, Bacon And Cheese Chowder. This is comfort food at its best and it doesn’t have to cook for hours.Quick & Easy Turkey, Bacon & Cheese Chowder

Along the Mexican lines again, I almost always make a pan of White Chicken (Turkey) Enchiladas in the week after Thanksgiving. These are soooo darn good and everyone scarfs them down.

Creamy, Cheesy White Chicken Enchiladas

Creamy, Cheesy White Chicken Enchiladas

You may still have some turkey left even after those (I know I will; I always buy too much!) so my Cheaters Easy Chicken (Turkey) And Dumplings never fails me. It’s warming, comforting and filling and tastes great!

Cheaters Easy, Creamy Chicken & Dumplings

Cheaters Easy, Creamy Chicken & Dumplings

If you have leftover cranberry sauce (and you know you will), make a loaf of my Pumpkin Cranberry Bread. It’s an easy way to use up some of those leftovers and it makes a yummy breakfast or light snack.Easy Pumpkin Cranberry Breadthanksgiving

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Cheesy Chicken Cordon Bleu Pasta

Cheesy Chicken Cordon Bleu Pasta

Cheesy Chicken Cordon Bleu Pasta

I have a writing pad that I write recipe ideas in. It’s totally not pretty; just a typical notepad. Half the things in it are so scribbled that I’m the only one that can read them. My writing is atrocious at the best of times (leftie here!), but when I get an idea for something at 3am (yes, this is a curse of food blogging), it is even worse. When I finally try to create what my mind thought up in the throes of sleep, it gets crossed off of the list. The list, however, is NEVER going to get finished, because I keep adding to it. One of the things that was in there for ages was to try to recreate one of my favorite dishes, which is chicken cordon bleu, as a pasta dish. I love it the regular way, but it’s such a pain in the tush to make; pound the chicken down, roll it up with the ham and cheese, get it breaded, fry it, and then do the clean up. Ugh.

So, while I realize it’s not new; you can find 50,000 versions of this online, this is MY version of a chicken cordon bleu pasta. My family really enjoyed this one. It made a pretty full pan of pasta, but other than a little bit my husband took to lunch the next day, it ALL got eaten. Of course, I live with all males, two of whom are 19 and 21, but still…

This turned out quite well, if I do say so myself. Tender pasta filled with chunks of ham, slices of chicken (I cheated and use the packaged slices; SO much easier!), all in an ultra creamy Swiss and Gruyere cheese sauce with a little bit of peas mixed in for color and to convince myself that this is chock full of nutrition instead of fat and calories. ๐Ÿ˜€ย  So, so delicious!

You know the drill… ๐Ÿ™‚

Cheesy Chicken Cordon Bleu Pasta

  • 10 ounces of your favorite pasta (I used fusilli just cause they are a fun shape), cooked and drained (reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water just in case you need to thin the sauce) and poured into a large bowl or pot
  • 16 ounces cooked, cubed ham
  • 12 ounces cooked, sliced chicken breast (I cheated and used the prepackaged slices in the lunch meat/deli area of the grocery store)
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed (leave them sit out for ten minutes… they’ll be thawed enough)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 2 3/4 cup milk (I used whole. I don’t suggest trying this with skim or 1%)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 6 ounces Swiss cheese, shredded and combined with
  • 8 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded, and
  • 2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese (the REAL stuff, not the cheap canned type)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried dill weed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (taste the sauce before adding salt. Some Parmesan can be pretty salty and you may not need as much or even any at all)
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter an oven safe pan or medium sized dutch oven. In a medium heavy bottomed saucepot, melt the butter. Stir in the flour and cook over low heat for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  2. Slowly whisk in the milk, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. When you have all the milk in, switch over to a spoon or rubber spatula and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, JUST until the mixture comes to a light boil.
  3. Slowly whisk about 1 cup of the milk mixture into the beaten eggs. You’re trying to temper the eggs (heat them up slowly) so that they don’t scramble when added back into the rest of the milk. Once the full cup of milk has been whisked into the eggs, slowly pour the eggs back into the milk mixture, stirring constantly. Cook over low heat for about a minute.
  4. Pull out 1/2 cup of the mixed cheeses and reserve to top the pasta with. Dump the rest of the combined cheese into the milk and stir constantly, until melted. Take the pot off of the heat and stir in the dill weed, Dijon mustard and black pepper. Taste for saltiness and then add the salt if needed.
  5. Dump the ham, chicken and peas over the reserved pasta and stir. Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta mixture and stir to combine. If the sauce seems too thick, use some of the reserved pasta water to thin it down.
  6. Spoon the pasta into the prepared pan or dutch oven and smooth the top. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top. Sprinkle with a little extra dill weed, if desired.
  7. Bake at 350 just until heated through and slightly bubbly around the edges, about 15 to 20 minutes. Serve hot.

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Cheesy Chicken Cordon Bleu Pasta

Cheesy Chicken Cordon Bleu Pasta

 

 

 

Chilled Caprese Tortellini Salad

Chilled Caprese Tortellini Salad



Every year I plant a bunch of herbs. I have a few perennials set aside in a certain area of our land, but the annuals I just do in containers. One that I always plant is basil. Is there anything like the scent of fresh basil??? it is one of those smells that just makes me think “summer”. Problem is, me being, well, me, I inevitably plant more than we can use. I love basil, but I get busy and forget to actually USE it. I’ll grab a handful for spaghetti sauce, I’ll snip a few leaves to use with a sliced up tomato and some olive oil. Then that will be it. I’ll talk a good game about using the 496 plants for a few hundred batches of pesto, but I never get to it. Then, Autumn comes, the first frost comes and I am left kicking myself because my basil died. I’m sad and then next Spring the cycle starts all over again.

So this year I only bought TWO basil plants. That’s it; two. And what does that mean? That suddenly, I find myself wanting basil all the time to the point where my poor plants can’t keep up the supply. Nature can’t win with me. But I’m afraid to buy another plant or two. Because what will happen is that craving will die and so will my basil plants.

But…!! This salad is a great way to use about 1/2 of a cup (which is a fair amount of leaves) of the lovely green stuff. Every year, one of the things I do is make a Caprese pasta. I usually make a hot dinner of it though, with spaghetti or a similar pasta and the cheese all melted in it. While that is absolutely wonderful, I wanted to try my hand at a chilled salad this time. I am totally pleased with what I came up with. This is about as easy as it gets. I used a good quality bottled Italian dressing in this. You are, of course, free to make your own dressing, but I was going for easy and tasty, not involved. With this salad, the most involved part is chopping the basil and the tomatoes. Hard work, ehh? Make sure you let this chill for a bit; at least a couple of hours. You want those flavors to blend and then blend some more. Then, just garnish it with some fresh basil for decoration and a sprinkling of pepper for flavor, check for needed salt one last time and chow down.

Chilled Caprese Pasta Salad

  • 1 16 to 19 ounce package frozen tortellini, cooked according to package direction, then drained and rinsed in cold water
  • 8 ounces ciliegine mozzarella ( those are the small balls, usually found in tubs packed in water)
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped green onion (I know this isn’t a typical ingredient for caprese, but it adds a nice flavor)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest (same as what I said for the green onion)
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 2/3 cup good Italian dressing
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan (this is one of those times when the cheaper powdery stuff is acceptable, even preferred, because it coats and clings better than freshly grated)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Pour the tortellini on a layer of paper towels and gently pat dry. Place them in a large bowl.
  2. Add the mozzarella,ย  the tomatoes, green onion, lemon zest and basil to the bowl with the tortellini. Gently toss together.
  3. Pour in the Italian dressing and toss to coat.
  4. ย Sprinkle the Parmesan on and again, toss to coat. Give it a taste, then add some salt and pepper. I’m not giving a specific amount here because tastes vary. You may be not a huge salt person, but others are, so I salt for your taste and then others can add more if they want it. Seems the best way to season something like a pasta salad.
  5. Pour the salad into a serving bowl. Cover and chill for at least two hours. Garnish with some basil and freshly ground pepper and serve.

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Easy Cheesy Baked Spaghetti

Easy Cheesy Baked Spaghetti

Easy Cheesy Baked Spaghetti



(Sorry; I know that’s not the best photo ever. By the time I realized that, half the dish was already gone and it was too late. But that should say something about the taste at least ๐Ÿ˜€ )

I’ve never been a person for making New Years resolutions. They seem a perfect way to set oneself up for failure and turn yourself into an emotional punching bag- “Man, I resolved to lose 40 pounds this year and look at me! I gained weight instead! I’m such a loser!” (Not that I haven’t done that to myself; just not because of a resolution) or “I resolve to sock away 15% of my income this year and use it for a family vacation to Disney Land”, and then the car breaks down or you need to call a plumber and all your savings (of which there wasn’t much anyway because..well, life) are gone and you again feel like you failed.

I did however, a few weeks ago (so, before the new year; neener neener) make a decision about something; a decision I truly hope I can stick with and that doesn’t have that pesky little thing called life interfering. I realized that I need to spend more time here with all of you. More than once a week or less. I want to post at the very least two times a week, preferably even more. I want to promote my little blog on social media better as well as just chat on Facebook with all of you, though with facebooks plans later this month to basically hide all small page owners pages, I’m not sure how well that will work. But I want to try. I love my blog; I love those of you who faithfully follow my ramblings, but I don’t show it enough. So call it a resolution if you will…. but I am HOPING to be more of a presence in your lives from now if you’ll have me. It will be me, you, and you, and you, and lots of fat and calories. Ok, ok, at times I’ll be nice and throw something lower fat and lower calories your way, but c’mon, I’m a baking blog primarily. I bake. With butter. LOTS of butter. And sugar. It’s how I keep sane. Fine; semi sane.

I also plan to add a recipe index here. But that will take time, so bear with me during my renovation. ANDDDDD… I want to start doing a bit of non food posts; things like body scrubs, lotions, fun stuff for the ladies. ๐Ÿ™‚

Did I mention that today is NOT one of those low fat, low calories sort of days? I’m assuming the photo made that clear, however. ๐Ÿ˜€ This is cheesy, it’s gooey, it wonderfully messy and it’s also extremely easy. You could make this even quicker if you wanted to by subbing in jarred sauce for the homemade. But really, there’s no need to. This is pretty quick.

Easy Cheesy Baked Spaghetti

  • 12 ounces spaghetti, cooked as directed (just until al dente), drained and set aside in a large bowl
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3 tablespoons chopped garlic (hey, I like garlic. Use more or less as desired)
  • 2/3 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1 lb ground beef, cooked, crumbled and drained (you could also sub ground turkey or chopped chicken, add some sausage or even use no meat at all; make this your own)
  • 2 15 ounce cans diced tomatoes (I used fire roasted- use your favorite)
  • 1 14.5 ounce jar of Prego Alfredo sauce
  • 2 tablespoons squeezable Basil paste (found in the produce section of the grocery store)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (cuts the acidity of the tomatoes)
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, tossed with
  • 2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat your oven to 350. Lightly grease a 3 quart baking dish.
  2. Pour the olive oil into a medium pot. Over medium heat, stirring frequently,saute the chopped onions, garlic and green pepper until soft and tender, about 6 to 8 minutes.
  3. Add in the ground beef, the 2 cans of diced tomatoes, the Alfredo sauce, the basil, oregano and the salt and sugar. Stir to combine.
  4. Bring to a simmer over just barely medium heat, stirring often to prevent sticking to the bottom.
  5. ย Simmer for about ten minutes, just long enough to let the flavors meld. Pour the sauce over the pasta and carefully stir to combine them.ย  Add in half of the cheese mixture and stir again.
  6. Pour the mixture into the baking dish.
  7. Sprinkle with the rest of the combined cheddar and mozzarella, then sprinkle with the Parmesan. Bake at 350 until bubbly and lightly browned on top, about 25 to 30 minutes.
  8. Serve with garlic bread and lots of napkins ๐Ÿ˜€

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While you’re here, don’t forget to go to this post and enter my giveaway! You could win a Hamilton Beach Stack and Snapโ„ข 10 Cup Food Processor! Believe me when I say this is a handy dandy appliance to have!

Pasta With Butter Roasted Tomato Sauce

Pasta With Butter Roasted Tomato Sauce

Pasta With Butter Roasted Tomato Sauce




Sometimes, you just come upon (and yet still change lol) a recipe that is absolutely amazing. I was looking through an old issue of Bon Appetit (I have approximately 40,00000 old magazines. It’s a sickness.) when I saw the recipe that has ultimately ended up here with all of its changes. As it was, while it was definitely intriguing; I mean….butter… But it seemed….lacking, rather boring. But still interesting enough to try. I had never even considered making pasta sauce in the oven. But what a game changer this is. No splatters all over the stove and oh…my…gosh….the flavor of this is fantastic. The tomatoes that roast in all their juices in the oven, mixed with the butter, the sausage (my addition), the garlic, the onions, oregano and basil (also mine)…honest. You want to try this recipe. Trust me on this one. You throw this all together after cooking the sausage and that’s it… just cook it. You end up with a thick, rich, full of flavor pasta sauce and no messy stove top. Win Win.

My husbands reaction (he was skeptical) was “you can make this any time you want”. Even my five year old ate all of his serving. One thing. I am posting this how I made it. The original was half the amount of tomatoes. I doubled it and that was just enough to serve five of us with my husband having two servings.ย  I did however, not use the full amount of butter doubled. It would have been a full stick and at 3/4 of a stick, it seemed like more than enough.

Go. Make this. Thank me later.

You know the drill….. ๐Ÿ™‚

Pasta With Butter Roasted Tomato Sauce

  • 2 28 ounce cans whole peeled tomatoes
  • 10 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 1 large onion, diced (about 1 1/2 to 2 cups)
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, sliced
  • 1 lb Italian sausage links
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (cuts the acidity of the tomatoes)
  • black pepper to taste
  • cooked pasta (I used 2 12 ounces boxes of spaghetti)
  • Parmesan cheese for serving
  1. Cook your sausage in a pot of simmering water until tender. Then drain the water, lay the links in the pan and brown them all over. Let cool until easily handled and then cut into bite sized slices.
  2. Preheat your oven to 400. Dump the tomatoes in a large deep baking pan and break them up. Easiest way I’ve found over the years is to pierce the back of the tomatoes with your finger cause if you try to just break them, you’ll end up with a face full of juice. Add in the rest of the ingredients, ending with the butter.ย  Stir well to mix.

    This is what it looks like before you put it in the oven

    This is what it looks like before you put it in the oven

  3. Bake at 400 for 35 to 50 minutes or until the sauce has gotten almost jammy in consistency, stirring once or twice during cooking. If you like a looser pasta sauce, take it out sooner. If you like a thicker one, cook longer. Simple as that.

    Here's what it looks like when it comes out (I know; the photo stinks)

    Here’s what it looks like when it comes out (I know; the photo stinks)

  4. Serve over pasta with Parmesan cheese.

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Creamy Cajun Shrimp & Bacon Alfredo

Creamy Cajun Shrimp & Bacon Alfredo

Creamy Cajun Shrimp & Bacon Alfredo


I think we’ve all learned how bad I am at following recipes, right? Well, today, I just threw the cookbooks out the window. Sorry, darlin… I’ll call a glass repair guy tomorrow.

I had a pound of very rare in our household (both because of cost and because my husband hates it so I rarely make it) jumbo shrimp. I had spent two days trying to figure out what to do with them. Batter fried? Tasty, but it doesn’t stretch far and since this is a rare treat, I wanted it to seem like more. Heck, give me an hour and I can finish a pound of fried shrimp myself. Gumbo? Too much trouble and I always use Andouille in my gumbo which I don’t have right now. So I started looking at recipes for Shrimp Alfredo. I didn’t like any of them lol. So I just went into the kitchen and started throwing Cajunish and Alfredoish (yes, those are now both official words) ingredients together. Those and bacon. Bacon makes everything better. I mean… it’s BACON!

I must say; this sauce turned out wonderfully. Spicy, creamy, shrimpy :-p Seriously, it’s quite good. Not too spicy but has a nice bite for the heat seekers like myself. The green peppers and onions and garlic make their presence known. Add in the bacon and shrimp and oh my… seafood (bacony) Heaven on a plate. Ok, so the pic is of it in a bowl. Work with me here.

Note… I had no fettuccine , linguine or other traditional pastas here so I used Penne. I actually think I prefer it now. The shape helps it catch more sauce then you can on a flat noodle shape. But use what makes YOU happy.

You know the drill…

Creamy Cajun Shrimp & Bacon Alfredo

  • 1 pound shrimp (I used jumbo but you could use large or extra large too. Just don’t go smaller or you could end up with overcooked shrimp. Save the smaller shrimp for something where it’s not sitting in a hot sauce)
  • 1 pound bacon, cooked until crisp, crumbled, 4 tablespoons of drippings reserved
  • 1 large green bell pepper, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 large onion, chopped (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons salt free Cajun seasoning (it can be hard to find but it’s worth it)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce (optional)
  • 2 cups half and half or heavy cream
  • 1 cup fresh grated Parmesan Cheese (if you use that canned dried stuff, I’ll cry)
  • 8 ounces of Mascarpone cheese (could sub cream cheese)
  1. Start a large pot of water boiling. When water comes to a boil, cook your pasta to desired doneness. Drain and set aside in a covered bowl.
  2. While it heats, pour your reserved bacon droppings in a large skillet. Add in the green pepper, onion and garlic. Saute over medium heat until the veggies are soft and tender.
  3. Pat your shrimp dry then add into the veggie mix. Also add in the Cajun seasoning and red pepper flakes Saute just until the shrimp start firming up and turning pink. They will finish cooking as the sauce heats.
  4. Pour the cream into the shrimp mixture. Pour in the hot sauce also if using.
  5. Turn heat down to low and simmer for five minutes or until sauce starts to simmer (don’t boil it), stirring frequently. Add in the mascarpone and stir until smooth and melted Add in the crumbled bacon and serve the sauce over the warm pasta.
  6. Garnish with more Parmesan cheese. Because you can never have too much cheese.

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Easy Chicken Parmesan Pasta Bake

Easy Chicken Parmesan Pasta Bake

Easy Chicken Parmesan Pasta Bake


I mentioned in the last post that my husbands requested birthday cake every year is a German chocolate one. Well, his requested birthday dinner is Chicken Parmesan. Every.Single.Year. Did I mention that he asks for it every single year? He is a creature of habit, my husband is. Though I really have no room to talk. I tend to do the whole creature of habit thing myself though not with birthday cakes and birthday dinner. One- I usually have to make those myself so for dinner you’d darn well better believe it is going to be steak. Dessert… ehhh, who knows. I buy a cake more for the kids since cake doesn’t really excite me much. and two- if given the opportunity, I’ll ask for dinner out every time. Give up the chance to have someone else doing the cooking and cleaning? Not on your life!

But back to that whole chicken Parmesan thing. I am pretty sure he would alternate between that, my chicken curry, my lasagna or spaghetti and my chili or meatloaf every day with no problem. But beyond the fact that chicken Parm is a pain in the tush to make (you try making enough to feed not only a grown man but 2 teen boys, yourself and a 4 year old who loves “sketti”), it’s just not a favorite of mine so it’s a definite labor of love to make it. But… I also absolutely adore my husband so I wanted to make him something that at the very least mimics the idea of full blown chicken Parmesan. I think this casserole does a good job. To make it even better, it uses those evil convenience products and that makes this a fairly quick fix for a weeknight dinner.ย  You COULD use homemade pasta sauce and more power to you for it. You could also make fresh chicken and again more power to you, but I wanted something quick, easy and tasty. This worked in a delicious way. It’s hearty, filling, creamy, cheesy and comfort food to the max. You get bites of tender chicken mixed in with pasta as well as the creamy tomatoey (yes that is now a word cause I say so) sauce and ooey gooey cheese. Unless you’re feeding a lot of people, this will easily stretch to the next days lunch meal too. Light and low fat? Ummmm… no. But really? You came to THIS blog looking for low fat and low cal? *giggles hysterically*

You know the drill…

Easy Chicken Parmesan Pasta Bake

  • 1 rotisserie chicken, skin removed and meat cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 14 to 16 ounce box Penne pasta (or ziti or whatever you prefer), cooked according to package directions and drained
  • 1 23 ounce jar pasta sauce (those jars are slowly getting smaller & smaller for the same price!)
  • 1 15 ounce jar Alfredo sauce
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped Basil
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped Parsley (can sub 1 1/2 tablespoons Italian Seasoning for this if you don’t have fresh)
  • 24 ounces freshly grated Mozzarella cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray aย  3 quart baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. After draining your pasta, pour the jar of pasta sauce and the jar of Alfredo sauce into the empty pot. Stir to combine., Add in the Parmesan cheese, chicken, basil and parsley. Stir to combine.
  3. Fold in the drained pasta then 16 ounces of the Mozzarella cheese.
  4. Spoon the pasta mixture into the prepared dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, then top with the remaining 8 ounces of Mozzarella cheese and continue baking for about 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and lightly browned and the casserole is hot and bubbly.

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Insanely Cheesy And Creamy Mac & Cheese

Yum
Insanely Cheesy And Creamy Mac & Cheese Once upon a time, I made atrocious mac and cheese. It tasted ok, but the texture was kind of grainy and gritty. Every once in a while, I would hit it and it would be good but those times were few and far between.

For years, I had seen recipes for it that used eggs to make a sort of cheesy custard but something about using eggs in mac and cheese just seemed weird to me, not to mention that, even to ME, it was like “whoaaaaa… like mac and cheese isn’t fattening enough as is without adding a bunch of eggs to it?” But I kept running into recipes with them in it and the photos I saw always looked good so I broke down and tried it.

I’m sorry I waited so long.

And looking back and thinking in a logical cooking way, it makes sense. Make an egg custard and put cheese in it and you’re going to have something delicious. I do it when I make Pastitsio (the love child of Greek mac and cheese and Greek lasagna) so I don’t know why I hesitated in this. Adding the eggs to the milk and cheese one might normally use to make a white sauce for M&C simply gives you a smoother, richer, better textured final product. If you’ve never used a custard base for pasta, don’t be nervous. If you remember to temper your eggs, you’ll be fine. All that means is to beat a little of the hot milk/cheese mixture into the eggs to heat the eggs up. That way they don’t immediately scramble when you add them to the milk. After that, it’s a breeze. You’ve got this! ย  For the life of me, I don’t recall where I got the un-changed up recipe originally. I had it hand written on a piece of paper with no info.

You know the drill… in this case, it’s go make some outrageously cheesy and creamy mac and cheese!

Insanely Cheesy And Creamy Mac & Cheese

  • 2 lbs macaroni
  • 20 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, freshly grated (don’t use the preshredded)
  • 20 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, freshly grated (don’t use the preshredded
  • 2 lbs Velveeta, cubed
  • 2 1/2 cups milk (use whole for this or 2%. There is really no use using skim or 1%. I mean… really… with all the cheese?)
  • 4 eggs, well beaten
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • salt and pepper to taste

 

 

  1. Cook your pasta, drain well and set aside.
  2. While it’s cooking, combine your cheddar and Monterey jack cheeses in a large bowl. Set aside.
  3. Pour your milk into a medium, preferably non stick, pot. Over medium heat, bring the milk to a simmer.
  4. Add in the Velveeta cheese and stir constantly until smooth and completely melted.
  5. Take about 1/2 cup of the hot milk/cheese mixture and SLOWLY drizzle it into the bowl of beaten eggs, whisking with a fork constantly. When you have it all tempered, slowly pour the egg mixture back into the milk mixture, again stirring constantly.
  6. Butter a 4 to 6 quart baking dish (this has been edited since I first posted this as I have been told by people that that wasn’t big enough. So I came to check because I wasn’t sure why they were saying I said 3 quart and saw that I, in my idiocy, didn’t realize I had typed 3 and not four. I’m so sorry!!) and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Don’t use a smaller one… this makes a LOT of mac and cheese. Pour half of the pasta into the dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and layer the sliced butter all over the top.
  7. Sprinkle half of the cheddar/jack cheese mixture over the top of the pasta, then pour half of the hot milk/cheese mixture over the top. Repeat this layering one more time.
  8. Bake at 350 until mac and cheese is bubbly and lightly browned, about 30 minutes.

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Product Of My Generation

Chilled Lemon Dill Tuna Macaroni Salad

There are times when I know that I’m a dinosaur in the foodie world. I don’t always cook light and healthy, I’m not vegan, I don’t cook gluten free and I’m not out to reinvent the wheel cooking wise. And while I admire those who do all of those things, I kinda like it that way ๐Ÿ˜€ I am, as the titles says, a product of my generation. I was born in 1964, which by some lists makes me born in the last year of the Baby Boomers. It was back when women’s rights was still a fledgling moment, back when Civil Rights was (unfortunately) still not something that everybody liked. It was also back in the days when Vietnam was a country very few people had heard of. In 1964, there were really no hippies. There were “Beatniks”. The famed Jack Kerouac (much loved by said Beatniks as well as the hippies to come) was near both the end of his career and the end of his life. The Beatles were in the middle of their first world tour and on the day of my birth, The Kinks released the song “You Really Got Me”.ย  The St. Louis Cardinals won the world series and everyone watched it in black and white on TV’s that had long “Rabbit Ears” attached to the back of them.

People also ate differently back then. With exceptions, it was still the time period of mom stayed home and cooked three meals a day plus snacks and dad went to work. People were just starting to eat lighter but for the most part, creamy, heavy, fried, calorie laden foods were the norm. Jello salads were still all the rage and dad manned the bbq grill on the weekends while mom made the side dishes. No one would ever think of making either potato salad or pasta (macaroni) salad without a few gallons of mayo thrown in and approximately 500 calories per half cup serving. Dad would drink a Pabst Blue Ribbon with dinner and mom would clean up afterwards.

In other words, I really AM a product of my generation since we all know what I love to cook for this blog. Creamy, heavy, fried and calorie laden and Lord above knows I love my mayo.

But at times, even I try to lighten things up. At least a little bit. Like I’ve said before, if I actually ate much of many of the things I make on here, Paula Deen would be sharing her diabetes medication with me and I would have to be lifted with a crane. Everything in moderation right? It sucks but it’s one of those sad facts of life that if you eat 14 Twinkies in a row, you WILL regret it. And if you eat a tub of the typical pasta salad, you WILL end up with no room in your arteries for the blood to flow.

So give this one a try. It makes a great meal on it’s own, a tasty side dish (you can even omit the tuna if you want though I personally love it that way) and while I won’t claim that this is health food, it definitely doesn’t have a gallon of mayo in it. I’ve lightened it up with Greek yogurt and added flavor with lemon juice and zest as well as a boatload of fresh (and dried) dill weed. Also, this makes enough for a pot luck or a good amount of people so feel free to cut in half. Remember when you see the amounts of mayo and such, that this is for 12 ounces (uncooked) of pasta. Not as much as it seems and when the salad sits in the fridge for a while, it will soak up a good amount and you may need to add more at serving time if it seems too dry.

Chilled Lemon Dill Tuna Pasta Salad

  • 12 ounces elbow macaroni, cooked according to direction
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2/3 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 carrot, grated (can use more but I don’t like carrots very much)
  • 1/2 cup chopped green pepper
  • 2 teaspoons jarred pickled jalapenos (optional)
  • 1/3 cup sweet pickle relish
  • 1 cup (give or take) good quality mayo (preferably home made)
  • 1 cup good quality Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup Miracle Whip (if you hate Miracle Whip, use more mayo instead
  • 1 cup finely chopped fresh Dill weed
  • 1 teaspoon dried Dill weed (can up the dried to 2 tablespoons if you don’t have fresh)
  • zest of one large lemon
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 or 3(depends on how meaty you like it) 6 ounce cans GOOD tuna (NOT the stuff that looks like cat food. You want chunks, not mush), drained
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Cook your pasta according to package directions, adding the two teaspoons salt to the cooking water.
  2. While it cooks, combine the rest of your ingredients, except for the tuna, in a large non metal bowl. Stir well. Taste for seasoning and add more dill, salt and pepper if needed. I also usually end up adding more pickle relish because I am sadly addicted to the stuff. For the most part, the ingredient amounts in here are just guidelines. You may like more carrot, less green pepper, dill relish…etc etc
  3. Drain the pasta very well. You can even go so far as to pour it onto a cookie sheet and pat it dry with a paper towel.
  4. Add the pasta to the bowl of creamy ingredients and mix well. Let cool until just warm, about 10 minutes or so.
  5. Gently fold in the tuna.
  6. Chill. Serve.

 


Please Keep The Blue Box Away From Me

Caramelized Onion & Bacon Mac & Cheese

 

My kids are pretty normal kids when it comes to food tastes. Normal as in they prefer simple foods like hot dogs that have ketchup and mustard on them and nothing else. Whereas when I eat a hot dog, that bad boy better be covered in onions, sauerkraut, relish, cheese, ketchup and spicy mustard. Plus, it had better be Oscar Mayer or Nathans, not “Joes Brand Hot Dogs.,..made with all beef lips”. They like ice cream, but are perfectly content eating the container of vanilla I bought last year and forgot about, that has now gotten horribly freezer burned (“there isn’t anything wrong with this ice cream, momma”). When I eat ice cream, it usually has some weird name and bigger price tag as well as a much higher fat content ๐Ÿ˜›

It’s the same with mac and cheese. My boys (and sadly, my husband too hehe) are perfectly content with mac and cheese from the little blue box. Or even worse, from a box that has the store brand name on it and is made with something that may or may not have had intimate relations with real cheese about 15 generations back. On the days when I don’t feel like cooking, boxed mac and cheese and hot dogs is considered a wonderful, gourmet meal. Obviously, none of my kids are going to grow up and try to emulate James Beard. Though, in their defense, my three older and moved out kids all seem to have inherited my “cooking gene” and love to cook as well as experiment with food that goes beyond beef lip hot dogs.

So last night, when I made the following mac and cheese, I knew that the adults would like it (my daughter and her family were over) as well as my 2 year old grandson Lukas (Lukie… hey, we’re in the south. If a name can be changed and made to end in “ie”, we’ll do it). He will eat anything. I try to put the cats up when he is visiting… and cardboard…and his uncles…and…well, you get the point. He is the rare child who isn’t picky. The reactions were about what I expected, especially from Zachie (see?) my 15 year old. “Ewwww, I might have eaten it if you hadn’t put those onion “things” in there.” From Jordan (hard to put an “ie” on the end of his) “Whet ate the brown things in there, momma?”. From Joshie, “I don’ wanna eat, momma”. Gee, never would have guessed that was coming *rolls eyes*. From Lukie, <insert gobbling, slurping noises here>.

Personally, I thought it was pretty darn tasty and I will definitely be having leftovers tonight for my own dinner. So what was this, you ask? Well, it wasn’t blue box, that’s for sure. I made a wonderful creamy cheese sauce and mixed in a good amount of caramelized onions and enough bacon that our arteries are probably still screaming in pain even now. This was rich and creamy without being overwhelmingly so. The onions added a nice caramelized nutty sort of flavor and the bacon mixed with the cheese sauce and the macaroni was just heaven on a spoon. Yes, I used a spoon, not a fork. I didn’t want to miss any of the sauce.

You really need to try this. The sauce whips up quickly and is based on one I found on Martha Stewart’s web site and with no powdered cheese in sight. Tender pasta, creamy gooey cheese, meaty bacon and nicely browned onions. I mean really… what more do you need? Except maybe ice cream with a high fat content for dessert. Continue reading