Garlic Shrimp Alfredo Pizza

Grocery shopping. I’m convinced you either love it or hate it. It’s either a necessary, but shoot-me-now chore, or you relish the hunt for the best bargains each week and sticking to your list and get off on coming in below budget. I’m one of those who falls firmly into the love it category. That being said, we make the big trek to Costco, followed by every store with a circular in a 5 mile radius, once a month and it takes pretty much all day. And that’s exhausting, considering kids are dragging there heels after store # 1, whining the whole way, and begging for this that and the other. We’re all tired and cranky by the end, and cooking dinner is the last thing I want to do at the end of that day.

Garlic Shrimp Alfredo Pizza

Read more

Pierogi Lasagna

Do you love the taste of Pierogis, Those Eastern European dumplings stuffed with cream mashed potato goodness, but dread the amount of work involved with making the dough, stuffing, and sealing them by hand? Then this here’s the thing for you. Pierogi LASAGNA. Now it’s true you could go to the frozen food aisle and just buy a bag (and I will, in a pinch) but they can’t ever compete flavor wise with the real thing. Or even with our more modernized version.

Periogi Lasagna

Pasta, potatoes, cheese, and bacon. Does it get any better than that? I’m pretty sure those are the hubs and sons four favorite food groups ūüėČ

Still, they might not be the best groups to associate with, especially all at once, if you’re watching your carb intake … Or ya know, flavor.

Periogi Lasagna 2

Alternating layers of rich cottage cheese, and creamy mashed potatoes whipped together with bacon or ham and a generous serving of cheddar cheese are sandwiched between your favorite lasagna noodles before being topped with another sprinkle of cheddar cheese and crisp, crumbled bacon and oven-baked to perfection.

You need this in your life. At least once, or twice. And with the colder days and colder nights approaching, there’s no better time of year to give it a try.

Pierogi Lasagna

Periogi Lasagna 3
12 cooked lasagna noodles
2 cups cottage cheese
2 eggs
3 thinly sliced green onions with a sprinkling of salt (or 1 tsp onion salt)
2 cups grated cheddar cheese, with 1/2 cup separated
2 1/2 cups mashed potatoes
1/2 cup bacon (fried crisp and crumbled) OR diced ham.
1 onion, chopped and cooked until clear
8 slices bacon, fried crisp and crumbled

Directions

  1. Mix together the cottage cheese, egg and green onion, stirring until evenly combined.
    2. In another bowl, mix together the 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese, the mashed potatoes, the 1/2 cup of bacon/ham crumbled and the sautéed onion.
    3. Line the bottom of a greased 9 x 13″ baking dish with 4 of the lasagna noodles.
    4. Spread half of the cottage cheese mixture out evenly over the noodles.
    5. Add 4 additional noodles and cover evenly with half of the potato mixture.
    6. Repeat.
    7. Top with remaining 4 noodles, remaining cheese and crumbled bacon.

8. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
9. Serve warm with sour cream, if desired.

Chicken Florentine and Farfalle

For a little over two weeks the sons and the hubs and I were kicked back to the stone age while our internet was down and out. I know you’re probably thinking, and for a minute there so was I, what was I going to do without Pinterest and it’s abundance of delicious recipes to help me plan my meals? Ok, ok, not really but I wasn’t overly enthusiastic or anyhting about going off the grid for a couple of weeks. I mean I can’t keep all this awesomeness up all on my own all the time now can I? Well yes, I can, but then I start to feel like my life is as unorganized as the $5 bin at Walmart. So Internet, yeah, big help. Still, we didn’t let something like the lack thereof keep us out of the kitchen

Instead of habitually outsourcing ideas, we went back to the old days. We dug out and dusted off the family recipe box and got busy. And guess what? No internet meant no Netflix, and no online gaming. No teenagers trying to hide out in their little mini-man caves texting all afternoon. SO, not only did we rediscover some old favorites, I had lots of willing little helpers each day. And believe it or not (Sons 1 and 2 may have even been a little surprised themselves) they had fun. Good times.

So on our first day back, we’re still going to keep it pretty simple. Here’s an oldie, but a goodie from our recipe box to yours.

Chicken Florentine and Farfalle

chicken florentine and farfalle

3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 lb box of Farfalle pasta
olive oil
1 bunch of fresh spinach, or 1 box of chopped frozen spinach, thawed and all excess water drained
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
4-5 oz cream cheese
salt & pepper, to taste
milk
1 jar of  Alfredo sauce
Parmesan cheese

Directions

1. Season chicken with salt and pepper. For the best taste, grill the chicken, then chop it up and set it aside. The chicken can also be pan cooked and then chopped if you prefer.
2. Prepare the pasta according to the package directions. Drain, and set aside.
3. In a large skillet add in 1-2 tbsp of olive oil, the garlic, and onions. Saute 3-4 minutes, or until the onions are translucent. Add spinach and allow it to heat through, or until wilted if it’s fresh..
4. Next, add in the cream cheese and stir in until it’s melted and evenly combined. The mixture will be thick and that’s OK.
5. Add in the alfredo sauce, again stirring to evenly incorporate. Now, add the milk, and tiny bit at a time, until the desired consistency is reached
6. Stir the chicken into the sauce, Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
7. Add the pasta to the pan and stir it into the sauce until everything’s nice and ‘saucey’, err evenly incorporated! Serve warm with shredded or grated Parmesan cheese on top.

Don’t let this meal’s fancy sounding name fool you. It’s easy enough for any weeknight and can be surprisingly flexible.

Here’s our favorite alternative version: Italian Sausage Florentine with Penne (or whatever pasta Mom happens to have on hand) Pasta.

Sausage Florentine with Penne

Looking for a vegetarian version? Swap mushrooms for the meat! All you have is spaghetti noodles? Throw em in the pot. See? Flexible.

Creamy Chicken & Wild Rice Soup

This  soup is everything you could hope for in a meal on a cold Winter’s night. It’s creamy. It’s comforting. AND it saves you money. How does it save you money you might be asking? Because it’s so good (and filling) that there won’t be any reason for you to run out to a certain ‘bread cafe’ to get a bowl full.

Copy Cat Panera Bread Creamy Chicken & Wild Rice Soup 2

Read more

Sous Chef Sunday: Chicken & Waffle Sliders

Mmm. Chicken, and waffles. Two seemingly unrelated things, but when put together make a food-gasmic combination. The sons, yet again, were skeptical. Four identical sets of little arched eye-brows as I got out just 3 ingredients. When, oh when, will they learn to trust me in the kitchen?! The sons followed the super simple recipe all by themselves, although with supervision since they were using the oven. The older sons can handle it, but Son # 4 gets so excited to be involved in the process, I worry he might forget hot things lead to burned fingers. Each son, in turn, took one tentative bite, and then proceeded to scarf them down. They looked like squirrels packing away food for winter. There was even a brief skirmish over the last two and who deserved them MOST. A chicken and waffle combo may have sounded weird to the more traditional tastes of the Sons, but they all agreed UNANIMOUSLY (might I point out this almost never happens!), that these little suckers are finger-lickin’ good.

Chicken & Waffle Sliders

4 Sons 'R' Us: Chicken & Waffle Sliders

frozen mini waffles, fully toasted
chicken tenders, cooked
{real} maple syrup
toothpicks

Directions

1. Slice your cooked chicken tenders in half. Break your toasted waffles apart.
2. Sandwich one piece of chicken between two cooked waffles. Secure with a toothpick.
3. When all the tenders have been ‘sandwiched’, drizzle them with maple syrup and serve warm.

Bacon Cheeseburger Meatloaf

I grew up eating my Mom and Grandma’s meatloaf, and it was one of my absolute favorite dinners. All these years it’s remained one of my favorite ‘comfort foods’. When I began cooking for my own family, it took me 3 years of watching my Grandma lovingly prepare my favorite dish before I was able to properly ‘eyeball’ the ingredients to replicate that same great taste. ¬†Now, every single one of my kids looks forward to that one night a month when meatloaf’s on the menu. However, recently I’ve really been trying to experiment with new twists on some of our old favorites, just to keep things interesting. A good friend swore by this¬†cheeseburger-flavored version, so I decided to swap it with my traditional meatloaf in our monthly menu. Warning: This is not your Grandma’s meatloaf! This cheesy little monster of a meatloaf will leave you wanting to lick every last drop off your plate. While I still love, and will continue to make my more traditional version, this recipe is a new family favorite that has already been added to our rotating regular recipes.

Bacon Cheeseburger Meatloaf

4 Sons 'R' Us: Bacon Cheeseburger Meatloaf

  • ¬†1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 lb bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar, shredded
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup- 3/4 cup unseasoned bread crumbs, toasted
  • 1/4 cup¬†mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp¬†Worcestershire¬†sauce
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 2 tbsp mustard
  • 1/3 cup French fried onions
  • 2 slices of¬†sandwich¬†bread*

Directions 

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, combine ground beef and the next 8 ingredients, mixing well. Don’t be afraid to get your hands ‘dirty’ and give everything a good squishing until evenly combined and a uniform consistency is reached.
  3. Place both pieces of bread into a meatloaf pan so that they evenly cover the bottom.
  4. Form meat mixture into a loaf shape and transfer to the meatloaf pan. You want it sitting directly on top of the bread.
  5. In a small bowl, combine mustard and ketchup.
  6. Evenly spread the ketchup mixture onto the top of the meatloaf.
  7. Bake 40 minutes. Top with the French fried onions and bake an additional 10 minutes, or until the inside is no longer pink.
  8. Remove from oven and let rest for 5-10 minutes. Remove the meatloaf from the pan and discard the grease ‘toast’. Slice the meatloaf and serve.

* This is the best meatloaf tip I’ve ever¬†discovered. Instead of your meatloaf sitting and cooking in it’s own grease, or having to use a broiler pan, simply let the slices of bread absorb every last drop of fat that cooks out. It’s that simple. After cooking, simply discard and you’re left with a mess-free loaf that’s ready to be sliced and served.

4 Sons 'R' Us: Bacon Cheeseburger Meatloaf

BLT Mac N Cheese

I found this recipe several years ago, perusing magazines in a waiting room. It’s a Betty Crocker recipe, and it’s delicious. My family loves macaroni and cheese. They love it from a box, they love it from scratch, they even love it with cut up hotdogs in it. I figured, given their love of the classic side dish they’d happily eat as a meal any time, any day, that this could either be a beautiful thing or a risky gamble. This recipe had me at BLT. I love them. Mostly, I love them because I love,love, love tomatoes. So naturally, I dove in and made this meal the same night I had come across it’s recipe. Since then it’s become a staple and a regular meal appearing on our monthly rotations. The flavors blend spectacularly! Even the rest of the family, literally everyone else, who all detest tomatoes about as strongly as I love them, ate every bite.

BLT Mac N Cheese

4 Sons 'R' Us: BLT Mac N Cheese

  • 1 loaf, 32 oz, prepared cheese product, cubed
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 4 cups skim milk
  • 1 lb elbow macaroni
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar, shredded
  • 2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 bag, 9 oz, fresh spinach
  • 1 lb bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
  • 1 cup plain, or Italian style, panko bread crumbs*

Directions

  1.  In a dutch oven, or other large pot, add butter, milk, and cubed cheese. Cook over medium heat, stirring with a wisk, until melted and evenly combined.
  2. Cook macaroni in boiling salted water 3 minutes less than indicated on the box in the directions. Drain.
  3. Pour the drained macaroni in with the cheese sauce. Mix well.
  4. Stir in the shredded cheese, spinach, and tomatoes.
  5. Transfer to a 15×10 inch (4 quart) baking dish. Cover with foil.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake 30 minutes.
  7. Uncover. Spread bacon and bread crumbs evenly over the top.
  8. Bake 5 minutes longer or until the top is lightly browned.
  9. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

*To ensure nice browned, crisped breadcrumbs you can toss the breadcrumbs in 1-2 tbsp of melted butter before adding to the casserole.