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Archive for August, 2008

I had two little visitors staying with us for a few days while their parents were out of town. We played inside, outside, checked out the toys at Walmart, picked up Happy Meals at McDonald’s, and had picnic lunches. Not knowing what each afternoon and evening would bring, I decided to let the crockpot do all the hard work and threw together one of my old stand-by crockpot meals for one evening. 

I’m glad I did, for a couple of reasons. One is that the house had the best aroma floating around for several hours. Another is that all I had to do when we were ready to eat was fix some rice, a salad, or some fruit, and we were all set.

If you followed the link, you found basic directions for a recipe that is quite adaptable, a beef stew that will take up any ethnic flavor depending on which way you want to go. We had a Mexican-type beef stew with rice and beans on the side. 

I layered a diced carrot, celery, a half of an onion, also diced, and a small-ish red bell pepper and a poblano pepper (I think) both cut up as well. On top of this, I put about a pound and a half of beef cubes and two cans of Ortega enchilada sauce. I turned the crockpot on low and let this cook for about 8 hours. I hoped the wee ones would like it. I knew they like some Mexican food and I operated on the theory that a really hungry kiddo would  like it, or at least eat it. They did.

For the next night. I fixed a chicken “tettrazini” casserole which we ate late, after soccer and baths. I know the kiddos were hungry and they ate everything on their plates. I’ll have to share the recipe for the “tettrazini” with their mom. It was easy, and I put it together well in advance of cooking it, perfect for a busy family. Thus, we have a good new stand-by.

CHICKEN TETTRAZINI

1 can cream of mushroom soup*

1 can cream of chicken soup*

1 lb chicken breast, cooked, cubed (and cooled if you’re preparing it in advance)

8 oz. frozen green peas

3/4 to 1 lb. spaghetti

1/4 cup diced yellow onion, or more

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

8 oz. Mozzarella-Parmesan combo shredded cheese (or any shredded cheese your family likes


*Can use two cans of mushroom or cream of chicken soup instead of one of each.


1. Cook and cube the chicken and set aside. Preheat the oven to 375.

2. Cook the pasta as directed on the package. Add the peas, the onion, and the oil to the pot for the last 9-10 minutes. (All you organized cooks take note: If you have any leftover peas, just add them at the last minute.) Meanwhile, mix the canned soups together in a large mixing bowl.

3. Prepare a large oven proof dish, 9″ X 9″, 9″ X 13″, something relatively shallow, by spraying it with Pam or rubbing it with butter. I used a square 11″ X 11″ Corningware casserole.

4. Drain the pasta, peas and onion when done and mix with the soup. Add the chicken and about 1/4 of the cheese. Mix well and put into the casserole. Sprinkle with the rest of the cheese. [At this point, I covered the dish and put it in the refrigerator to cook later in the day. My chicken was already cool, and I let the pasta, peas and soup mixture cool for a while before I added the chicken to it.]

5. Bake 375 for about 15 to 20 minutes, until hot and bubbly. Let cool for a few minutes before serving. [Because my dish had been refrigerated nearly all day, I had to cook it for considerable longer, about 45 minutes.]

 

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So many people love key lime pie. I mean, you have sweet, tart, creamy, crunchy. What’s not to love? 

Just as many people love cheesecake. Baked cheesecake, refrigerator cheese cake, chocolate, pumpkin, New York Style. Rich, creamy, slightly tart, slightly sweet. What’s not to love?

I’ve had key lime pie hundreds of times as well as key lime cheesecake and key lime bars. All of them have been delicious. But I found the creme de la creme, the most exalted, the mightiest of the mighty. The Gold Medal winner in the Olympics of lime desserts.  It ‘s a Double Layer Key Lime Pie, two layers of tart, citrusy goodness  – one a layer of lime cheesecake. It will double your pleasure for sure.

Now to be fair, I must admit that I use the term “key lime” loosely. I don’t use key limes in the preparation of any dessert. I use regular old green, grocery store limes. I did buy a bag of key limes once and got about 1 tablespoon of juice from each. Also, in my part of Ohio, key limes can be hard to find. I never use the jars of juice or the little plastic fake limes or lemons which have to be “enhanced” with preservatives. 

So without further ado, here is the recipe. By the way, it’s from Bon Appetit, March, 2004, issue.

 

TWO LAYER KEY LIME PIE

(May make one day ahead, if desired. Also, no need to use “key limes”; regular ones will do just fine.

1 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs

1/4 c. (1/2 stick) butter, melted

3 T. sugar

18 oz. canned sweetened condensed milk (divided, 14 oz. and 4 oz.)

3/4 c. lime juice (divided, 1/2 c. and 1/4 cup)

3 large egg yolks

2 T. sugar

1 t. vanilla

8 oz. cream cheese (may use 1/3 less fat variety), room temperature

cool whip or whipped cream for garnish, optional

 

Crust:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degree. Mix crumbs, butter and sugar, and press into bottome and up sides of a deep-dish glass pie pan.

2. Bake 8 minutes. Cool completely. Lower heat to 300 degrees.

Baked Layer:

1. Whisk 14 oz. sweetened condensed milk, 1/2 c. lime juice and the 3 egg yolks. Pour into cooled pie shell.

2. Bake 300 degrees for 25 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

Chilled Layer:

1. Beat the cream cheese, 1/2 c. sweetened condensed milk, 1/4 c. lime juice, 2 T. sugar and 1 t. vanilla together.

2. Pour over the cooled baked layer. Smooth top.

3. Cover with plastic wrap and chill 4 hours.

4. Garnish with whipped cream or cool whip before serving. Store in the frig.

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