Creamy Tomato & Beef Noodle Casserole

I love it when a plan comes together. Or, more appropriately in this instance, I love it when a meal comes together. Especially when I walked into the kitchen at 5:00 with no idea what was going to be dinner. Not one piece of meat defrosted. Not a clue in sight. Nothing. Nada, Zip. What I did have, however, were ingredients. Ingredients that were waiting in freezer and pantry for their rightful place on the dinner table. I’d say they found it.

Ingredients:

8 oz Penne pasta
1 lb ground beef
1 cup frozen (or fresh) chopped onion
1 tsp minced garlic (or 1 whole clove)
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup sour cream (change it up and use prepared alfredo sauce, pesto, heavy cream)
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (or mozzarella; just about any cheese you like)

Preparation:

Prepare noodles according to package directions. Preheat oven to 375.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and brown beef with onion, garlic, oregano, and salt. Add tomato sauce, water, and sour cream. Stir to combine and allow sauce to bubble.

Drain pasta and return to pan, add meat and sauce mixture. Stir together. When completely mixed, add to a casserole dish coated with cooking spray. Top with cheese. Bake about 20 minutes until cheese is melted and casserole is bubbly. Serve with warm French bread and salad.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Barbera
Chianti
Grenache
Sangiovese

Serves 6 to 8

Total time: 30 minutes

Featured image

Creamy Tomato & Beef Noodle Casserole

*Original Serves4 Recipe


Meatballs in Beef Gravy

I’m a meat and potatoes kind of girl.  And gravy, well, that just puts it over the top for me!  Gravy makes everything that much better. Like bacon, or something being deep fried. You hear gravy and you just have to go with that option!  This is no exception to the rule. And sorry my friends, this just isn’t one of those healthy dishes. But I know you weren’t expecting that, what with “meatballs” and “gravy” in the name. So, let’s all sit back, ignore the calorie / fat content and just enjoy!

Ingredients:

2 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs butter
1 small chopped onion (time saver: use frozen or pre-chopped in the produce section)
8 oz sliced mushrooms (time saver: buy the pre-sliced mushrooms in the produce section. Go with your favorite.)
5 Tbs all-purpose flour
1 pinch cayenne (I omitted because my kids are still getting used to spicy heat)
2 cups low-sodium beef broth
3 tsp Worcestershire sauce (this ingredient adds such a rich flavor to almost everything, even Checks mix!)
3 Tbs ketchup
2-4 tsp beef bouillon powder (I didn’t have the powder, so I used the jarred “Better than Bouillon”, you’ll want to go with the least amount as it tends to get salty)
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/4 cup sour cream
kosher salt (option and to taste)

For Meatballs:

1 lb ground beef (mix what you like, chicken, turkey, pork)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 Tbs minced garlic (time saver: buy the jarred minced garlic)
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup dried bread crumbs (I used Italian seasoned to add more flavor)
1/3 cup grated Parmesan (or more, you can never have too much cheese)
1 1/2 tsp season salt (I use Lawry’s)
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 tsp dried parsley flakes (such as Litehouse)

Preparation:

Mix all meatball ingredients in a large bowl. Shape mixture into 1″ balls.

Heat oil and butter in large skillet over medium-high heat (be sure to use a deep skillet to hold in the gravy with the meatballs). Add meatballs in two batches and brown until just about cooked through, turning frequently for even browning.

To skillet, with about 3 tbs of fat remaining, add onion and saute until softened, scrape any brown bits that have accumulated in the skillet.  Add mushrooms and cooking, stirring until softened.  Add flour, stir 1 minute.

Slowly add beef broth, bring to a boil whisking constantly until smooth, bubbly, and thickened. Add Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, and black pepper; bring to a simmer.  Add beef bouillon powder or ‘Better than Bouillon’ and ketchup (can add more if desired).

Add meatballs and simmer, uncovered, 20-25 minutes.  Stir frequently. Season with salt to taste if needed.

At the end of cooking, stir in sour cream until combined and heated through.  Serve over mashed potatoes, pasta, or rice.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Cabernet Franc
Cabernet Sauvignon
Malbec
Merlot
Sangiovese

Serves 4 medium portions

Total time: 1 hour

Serves4

Derived from: Kittencalskitchen / Food.com

Quick Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

Pasta is a staple in my house.  For the most part, you can make it fast.  But, there are also some amazing dishes that take a while (lasagna, baked ziti anyone?).  I kind of have to admit, too, that one of the reasons I love pasta has to do with the control freak in me.  It’s also the same reason I prefer texting and email.  It’s all on my time. I get to decide, do I want/need a quick pasta tonight?  Do I need/want to respond to this text right now? Basically, whether a text or pasta, it comes down to me.  And no one knows the elements that brought me to the decision.  This dish, however, I’ll share with you the behind the scenes thought process.  I already had defrosted the extra lean ground beef.  I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with it simply because my family is just coming back from a quick little vacation to Kings Beach in North Lake Tahoe (one of our fave places and I encourage everyone to go) and anyone that knows me understands that I spent the week leading up to Tahoe planning, cooking, and packing for our trip (those recipes to follow).  By the time we got back home I was 1) exhausted from a wonderful trip, 2) really tired of planning and cooking, and 3) completely out of groceries save for the staples I had on hand.  I can tell you, quite confidently, this was a huge hit!

Ingredients:

1 lb extra lean ground beef (can sub ground chicken or turkey)
1 (14.5) oz diced tomatoes
1 (14.5) oz tomato sauce
1/2 of (6.5) garlic & herb spreadable cheese (such as Alouette)
1 Tbs dried basil (such as Morton & Bassett) (I prefer fresh, but since my GSD puppy ate my plant, I had to go with dried)
Handful of dried spaghetti
Parmesan grated, shredded, shaved (your preference) for serving

Preparation:

Boil pasta according to your doneness preference.

While pasta cooks, brown meat. Once browned, drain off any excess fat. Add diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. Reduced heat to medium low and heat through. Add the garlic and herb spreadable cheese. Stir to completely incorporate through. Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer 5 – 10 minutes. Add basil the last few minutes and stir (if using fresh basil, wait until ready to serve.

Mix pasta with sauce, in batches, stirring to combine with each batch. Top with favorite Parmesan. Serve with crusty bread.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Barbera
Chianti
Malbec
Pinot Noir
Sangiovese

Serves 8
Total time: 40 minutes

photo (5)

*Original Serves-4 Recipe

Lasagna with Zucchini

Lasagna is the quintessential comfort food.  And when you want comfort food, it doesn’t matter if it’s winter (the perfect weather for lasagna) or the start-up of summer.  Since I found this recipe in my June issue of Cooking Light, I felt it was the Food Gods way of telling me I need to make this.  Stat!  While midst of cooking, I realized it is the perfect remake of the perfect comfort food.  The zucchini and squash hold up well in place of Italian sausage or any other meat.  I found myself not even missing the meat.  Also, the sauce was not heavy, but so flavorful and rich.  The next day when I reheated for lunch, I did notice the zucchini and squash had a stronger flavor, but it still was very good and a meal that will make it to my rotation.  PS – This meal takes a LONG time to pull together, definitely keep for the weekend or when you have some additional time.

Ingredients:

2 Tbs olive oil
3 cups julienne-cut zucchini
2 cups julienne-cut yellow squash
1½ Tbs chopped fresh thyme
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced (this is where I cheated, b/c I always have to cheat.  I used pre-chopped garlic)
¾ tsp kosher salt, divided
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 cup low-fat ricotta cheese
¼ cup water from fresh mozzarella container
4 oz fresh mozzarella cheese
2½ oz grated fresh Parmesan
1 (9 oz) package refrigerated fresh lasagna noodles (Our market did not carry this and I don’t care of the No Boil variety, that is until I found Delverde Ondine Instant Egg Lasagna.  Unlike our American brands, it did not take doughy or uncooked to me.  Certainly will use again and again!)
Cooking Spray

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 375°.

Heat large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add olive oil to pan and swirl to coat.  Add zucchini, squash, time, and garlic; sauté 5 minutes.  Stir in ½ tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper.  Remove zucchini mixture from pan and cool.

Combine remaining ¼ tsp each of salt and pepper, ricotta, mozzarella water, and mozzarella in food processor or blender.  Pulse until smooth.  Combine ½ cup ricotta mixture and ½ cup Parmesan.

Coat 8″ baking dish with cooking spray; arrange 2 noodles, trimming to fit if needed.  Top with half of zucchini mixture and half of ricotta mixture.  Repeat layers, ending with noodles.  Top with the rocotta-Parmesan mixture.  Cover dish with foil and back for 30 minutes.  Uncover and bake additional 15 minutes.

Turn broiler to high.  Sprinkle lasagna with remaining 2 Tbs parmesan cheese.  Broil 2 minutes or until lightly browned.  Let stand for 5 minutes.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Barbera
Cabernet Franc
Malbec
Pinot Noir
Sangiovese

Serves 6
Hands-On time: 20 minutes; Total: 65 minutes

 Lasagna with Zucchini

 *Derived from Cooking Light

Busy Mom’s Spaghetti & Meatballs

Do you ever feel like, when you are working away, that you are just going to topple over onto your desk in a heap, asleep so fast that as your head makes contact a dribble of spittle has already appeared?  That is how the last month to month and a half has been for me.  We’ve had major construction going on in the 2nd most important area of our house, the family room.  This was due to a large flood on Christmas morning (Yeah!  Merry Christmas!!).  So we’ve been dealing with that, in a small part, since then.  But when the construction finally started, well, it’s just been tiresome.  While our general contractor has been amazing at keeping everyone on schedule, I’m just over it, you know.  I’m ready to have that room opened to the rest of the house again.  I’m ready to have a laundry room again (something I’d never in my life thought I’d be excited about, a new laundry room).  I’m ready to have that 3rd bath available downstairs, as opposed to a 5 and 6 year old trying to race upstairs to pee when they’ve been outside playing with ladybugs and refused to “listen to their bodies”.  And at the tail end of this endeavor has been . . . dun, dun, dun . . . daylight savings.  “Come everyone, let’s Spring Forward!” I can clearly hear a very cheery Mother Nature shouting.  I want to shout back, not so cheerily, “Let’s all put our freakin’ happy faces on as our internal clocks get all screwed up!”  Sorry, I’m a grump today.  This is the perfect dinner for a grump to make.  It comes together quickly and painlessly.  And none of it would have been possible without my little sous chef!

My Sous Chef!

My Sous Chef!

 

Ingredients:

8 oz spaghetti
1 Tbs olive oil (go easy on olive oil because the sausage will have plenty of oil when cooked)
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs Italian Seasoning (or any favorite herb, oregano, thyme, etc.)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup beef broth (can sub with chicken)
2 cups pureed tomato
1 lb sausage meat (you can buy sausage links and remove the casings, luckily I found a package of bulk sausage meat prepared by the butcher)
Parmesan
1 bunch fresh basil (optional, I didn’t have on hand so I omitted)

Preparation:

Bring a large pot of water to boil for spaghetti.  While spaghetti cooks, prepare sauce.

Add 1 Tbs olive oil to large pan heated over medium-high.  When oil is hot, add onions and garlic, stirring to coat.  Add Italian seasoning.  Stir in salt to taste.  Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the onions begin to soften.  While onions cook, use sausage meat and form small balls.

Add stock, scraping up any bits from bottom of pan.  Add tomato puree and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes.    Add meatballs into tomato sauce and simmer until fully cooked, about 10 – 12 additional minutes.

Serve over spaghetti and top with fresh grated Parmesan and a handful of torn basil.  Serve with hot crusty bread.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Barbera
Chianti
Malbec
Pinot Noir
Sangiovese

Serves 6

Cooking time: About 40 minutes

Busy Mom's Spaghetti & Meatballs

Busy Mom’s Spaghetti & Meatballs

*Original Serves-4 Recipe

 


Caesar Salad & Pasta Primavera

I am so happy and beyond excited to be able to share my “Guest Blogger” with you today.  I’m going to have to do the typing for her because, well, she’s 5 1/2 and this would take all day.  My youngest foodie D wanted to take a cooking class that was being offered through her school, and I couldn’t think of any reason to say No.  I mean, my little angel girl loves cooking, like her mommy?!?!!  She has always been my little foodie, ready and willing to try anything.  She absolutely adores food and as soon as she finishes one meal, she is already thinking about the next.  On Sunday she was making cookies and I caught her talking lovingly to her dough.  Does it get any better?  I think it just might!  Yesterday was her first day of her cooking class and she came home buzzing with excitement from her class.  They got to eat their food in class, but she also brought a plate home to share with the family.  We all raised our hands in agreement that her food was “super yummy!”  I am pleased to share with you her results.

Caesar Salad

Ingredients:

3 medium heads romaine lettuce; chilled, dry, and crisp
1/3 cup garlic olive oil
2-3 Tbs wine vinegar
1 lemon – halved
2 One Minute coddled eggs
Salt to taste
Dash Worchester sauce
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
6 Tbs grated Parmesan cheese (can add more)
1 cup Caesar croutons

Preparation:

Bring a sauce pan of water to boil.  Gently add eggs and turn heat to low, set timer for 2 minutes.  Remove eggs with slotted spoon or wire mesh strainer.  Cool in cold water and set aside.

Into a chilled salad bowl, break romaine leaves into 2 inch widths.  Drizzle with garlic olive oil and vinegar.  Squeeze juice from lemon over the top.  Break coddled eggs over lettuce, toss many times to ensure everything is thoroughly mixed.  Season with salt, pepper, and Worchester sauce.  Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.  Toss six or seven times until dressing is well combined and every leaf is coated.  Add croutons.  Serve immediately.

Pasta Primavera

Ingredients:

1 lb Italian style spaghetti
1 cup thinly sliced zucchini
1 ½ cup snow peas (can use frozen)
1 cup baby peas (can use frozen)
6 asparagus sliced in 1″ pieces
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 (16 oz) can peeled tomatoes, drained and chopped
3 Tbs olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley (can sub 1/8 cup if using dried)
2 tsp minced garlic
½ cup freshly grated parmesan
¹⁄³ cup butter
1 cup heavy cream (can sub low-fat milk)
¹⁄³ cup fresh, chopped basil

Preparation:

Cook pasta in large pot boiling water.

Briefly cook the green vegetables and mushrooms in water (or steam).  When crisp tender, refresh by running under cold water.  In large frying pan heated to medium, sauté tomatoes and parsley in olive oil.  Add all of the vegetables and simmer until heated through.

Add cooked pasta, cheese, cream, butter, and basil.  Toss to coat.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve hot, with chilled Caesar salad.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Fume Blanc
Grüner Veltliner
Muscadet
Sauvignon Blanc

Both recipes serve 6

Caesar Salad & Pasta Primavera

Caesar Salad & Pasta Primavera


Rosemary Parmesan Rolls

Once again I was making my amazing Maple Salmon , this is a frequent dish in our house.  The hubs and the kids love it.  And I never tire of making such a tasty, healthy, supremely easy dish.  I thought about making my Buttery Corn bread, too.  But, quite frankly, I just didn’t feel like putting in the effort.  Perused my baking recipes and nothing jumped out saying, “Make ME tonight! Make me!!”  I guess I would just toast some slices of Pulgiese like usual.  As I was in the refrigerator I discovered a can of crescent rolls that were quickly coming to the end of their shelf life.  I grabbed it, but am not a big fan of canned crescent roll.  I wonder what else I could come up with . . .

Ingredients:

1 regular size can refrigerated crescent rolls
2 Tbs garlic olive oil (such as Garlic Gold)
3 tsp Rosemary (next time I’ll used crushed)
1/2 to 1 Cup shredded Parmesan

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 375°

Open can of crescent rolls, pinch seams together and roll flat, about the size of a small cookie sheet.  Pour garlic olive oil into small bowl and with pastry brush, evenly brush dough with oil.  Sprinkle with rosemary and then parmesan cheese.  Roll into tight log and cut into 1″ thick slices.

Place flat on parchment lined cookie sheet and brush with remaining garlic olive oil.  Bake 10-15 minutes, until golden.

Serves 6

Total time: 30 minutes

Rosemary Parmesan Rolls

Rosemary Parmesan Rolls

 *Original Serves-4 Recipe