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Chicken and Black Bean Casserole — December 9, 2012

Chicken and Black Bean Casserole

Casseroles are such feel good meals. So many of these feel good meals are made with fatty soups from a can. This casserole does a great job of using lots of veggies and no soup, but it’s still creamy and so yummy. I used white rice and after waiting 40 minutes for it to cook I decided I will be making instant rice next time! Happy Eating!

Chicken and Black Bean Casserole
Recipe thanks to Six Sisters Stuff


2/3 cup brown rice
1 cup vegetable broth (chicken broth also will work)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup diced onion
2 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
2 cooked skinless boneless chicken breast halves, chopped
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms (optional)
1/2 teaspoon cumin
salt to taste
ground cayenne pepper to taste
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (4 ounce) can diced green chile peppers, drained
1-2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese-depending on how much cheese you like (Swiss cheese and Monterey Jack cheese would also work well!)


Mix the rice and vegetable broth in a pot, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 45 minutes, or until rice is tender.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a large 9×13″ casserole dish.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, and cook the onion until tender. Mix in the zucchini, chicken, and mushrooms. Season with cumin, salt, and ground cayenne pepper. Cook and stir until zucchini is lightly browned and chicken is heated through.

In large bowl, mix the cooked rice, onion, zucchini, chicken, mushrooms, beans, chilies, and 1/2 the cheese. Transfer to the prepared casserole dish, and sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Cover casserole loosely with foil, and bake 30 minutes in the preheated oven. Uncover, and continue baking 10 minutes, or until bubbly and lightly browned.

Peppermint Crunch-Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies —

Peppermint Crunch-Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies

I love Christmas! The music, the food, the shopping, the family time. Some people don’t like the shopping part, but it’s exciting to me. I was very much in the Christmas spirit yesterday. I got a lot of Christmas shopping done and I make cookies while listening to Christmas music. I love this time of year.

This recipe said to refrigerate the dough for 24 hours, but I don’t think it needed nearly that long. My dough was in the fridge for about 4 hours and it was plenty. I just couldn’t wait 20 more hours to bake them! I baked them for 6 minutes each because I like chewy-soft cookies. Scotty sent me his thoughts on them in a text message that said, “These cookies are gooooooood” That’s good enough for me! Happy Eating!

Peppermint Crunch-Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe thanks to Culinary Concoctions by Peabody


2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup packed light brown sugar
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
7 ounces milk chocolate chips
7 ounces Andes Peppermint Crunch Chips


In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a bowl by hand), beat together the butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and vanilla on medium speed just until smooth, about 2 minutes.

Beat in the eggs one at a time until thoroughly incorporated, then stir in the flour mixture followed by the chocolate and peppermint chips.

On a lightly floured work surface, divide the dough into quarters. Shape each quarter into a log about 9 inches long. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, preferably for 24 hours.

Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven; preheat the oven to 350°F.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

Slice the logs into disks ¾ inch thick and place the disks 3 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. If the chips crumble out (and they will), simply push them back in, they reshape nicely.

Bake, rotating the baking sheets midway through baking, until the cookies are very lightly browned in the centers, about 10 minutes. If you like soft chocolate chip cookies, as I do, err on the side of under baking.
Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets until firm enough to handle, then use a spatula to transfer them to a wire rack.

Spicy Sausage Pasta — December 5, 2012

Spicy Sausage Pasta

I look forward to re-watching all the movies I loved when I was little. It seems like they just don’t make movies the same these days. I’m sure generations before me said the same thing about the movies I love now. Today at after school care we watched The Little Rascals and the girl didn’t like it! Just like she didn’t like Casper, Hocus Pocus or Elf! Kids these days 🙂 I hope when I have kids they like the movies I liked when I was little so I can continue to watch them!

This pasta was superb. The flavor had a little zip to it from the rotel tomatoes and the sausage went great with it. Scotty actually asked me if he could take the leftovers for lunch tomorrow! This never and I mean NEVER happens. Maybe I’m finally making a break though and getting him to eat leftovers. A girl can hope. Happy Eating!

Spicy Sausage Pasta
Recipe thanks to Kevin and Amanda

1 tbsp olive oil
1 lb smoked sausage
1.5 cups diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 (10 oz) can Ro-Tel tomatoes and green chiles, Mild
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 oz penne pasta
1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper, each
1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
1/3 cup thinly sliced scallions

Add olive oil to an oven-safe skillet over medium high heat until just smoking. Add sausage and onions and cook until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Add broth, tomatoes, cream, pasta, salt and pepper and stir. Bring to a boil, cover skillet, and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until pasta is tender, about 15 minutes.
Remove skillet from heat and stir in 1/2 cup cheese. Top with remaining cheese and sprinkle with scallions. Broil until cheese is melted, spotty brown, and bubbly.

Makes 4 servings

Chilie Colorado Burritos — December 3, 2012

Chilie Colorado Burritos

I never knew there could be so many Christmas movies, but thanks to the Hallmark channel I am getting my fair share of them this year. They are all pretty corny, but I love them.

I have always wondered the difference between burritos and enchiladas. Anyone know? Well anyway, these burritos were very easy to make. I used flat iron steak for them because I had it in the fridge from something else I ended up not making. This steak was so good it could be eaten by itself. Or try putting it in tacos, quesadillas, and nachos. Happy Eating!


Chile Colorado Burritos
Recipe thanks to Food Pusher


1 1/2 to 2 pounds stew meat or other beef cubed (top sirloin is great)
1 large can mild (red) enchilada sauce* (at least 19 oz.)
2 beef bouillon cubes
1/2 can refried beans (optional)
5-7 burrito size flour tortillas
1 cup or so of shredded cheddar cheese

Put beef, bouillon, and enchilada sauce*** into a crock pot and cook on low for 7-8 hours**, or until meat is very tender. (Can also cook on high for maybe 3-4 hours.) I’ve also cooked it in a dutch oven for about 4 hours at 325 degrees. More meat, more time. A third option is to cook it in a large heavy saucepan–bring it to a boil on high heat, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the meat is tender. If you go with a method other than the crock pot, make sure the pot is covered and pretty well sealed to minimize evaporation of the liquid.

When beef is done (very tender and flakes off when stirred), taste and add more salt, if desired. Heat up refried beans in the microwave (covered and in a microwave-proof dish, of course)and put your oven on broil. On an oven-proof plate, or cookie sheet even, lay out a tortilla. Place on tortilla about 1/2 cup of the meat, drained by using a slotted spoon, and a spoonful or two of beans. Roll into a burrito (hopefully you know how to roll these). Pour some of the remaining enchilada sauce from the crock pot over the burrito to cover it. Sprinkle with some cheddar cheese. Broil until cheese is bubbly, about 2-4 minutes.

Makes 5-7 burritos, depending on how full you make them.

Skillet Penne with Chicken Sausage and Spinach — December 2, 2012

Skillet Penne with Chicken Sausage and Spinach

We had a pretty interesting weekend this weekend. We decided Friday night that we were going to drive six hours to go cheer on the Huskers at the Big Ten Championship. They played in the Lucas Oil Stadium where the Colts play. The stadium was awesome and we got club seats. We were pretty excited to be champions, but then Nebraska fell apart. Even though we lost by A LOT we had a blast and are glad we went.

I have a lot of fantastic pasta dishes saved in my cook book and this is joining them. The creamy sauce combines with the spicy sausage and makes a wonderful dish. When Scotty goes back from seconds of my cooking I know it’s a keeper! Happy Eating!

Skillet Penne with Chicken Sausage and Spinach
Recipe thanks to Smells like Home

You can most definitely swap out the raw sausage for pre-cooked chicken sausage, as I did, in this recipe. Simply slice the sausage into 1/4-inch slices and saute the sausage for 2-3 minutes, just as in step 1 below; then proceed as directed. If you don’t want to use wine, use 2 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth and reduce the water to 2 1/4 cups – the total liquid in the recipe (excluding the cream) should be 4 1/2 cups.


1 tbsp olive oil
1 lb hot or sweet Italian turkey or chicken sausage, casings removed
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/4 cups dry white wine
3 1/4 cups water
8 oz (2 1/2 cups) penne, ziti, or rotini pasta
1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, rinsed, dried, and chopped fine
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
3/4 cup to 1 cup heavy cream or half-and-half
6 oz baby spinach
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted (optional)


Heat oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add sausage, breaking it up with a spoon, and cook until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Stir in wine, water, pasta, tomatoes, and salt. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring often, until penne is tender and liquid has thickened, 15 to 18 minutes. Stir in 3/4 cup of cream or half-and-half; increase the amount up to 1 cup if the dish needs a little thinning after you add the spinach in the next step.

Stir in spinach, one handful at time, and cook until wilted. Off heat, stir in Parmesan and nuts (if using). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.

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