Thursday, July 31, 2014

Slow-Cooker Layered Enchilada Dinner

Easy and delicious:)  Two very important words to describe this recipe.  This south of the border casserole consists of ground beef which has been browned, some onion and garlic. soup, green chiles, enchilada sauce, tortillas and cheese.  The recipe calls for Monterey Jack cheese, but I used Mexican cheese.  

Start by making a sauce with the ground beef, onion, garlic, soup and chilies.  Next, you begin the layering process.  Some enchilada sauce is spread in the bottom of your slow cooker.  Cover the sauce with corn tortillas.  Next the beef mixture is spread over the tortillas and drizzled with some enchilada sauce.  Sprinkle some cheese over the mixture and repeat the layers.  Once you have constructed your casserole, sprinkle with some paprika.  Cover and cook on low for about 4 1/2 hours.  Be sure to let the casserole sit about 10 minutes before you serve.  This was the hardest part.  It looked and smelled soo good everyone wanted to try it.

The recipe suggest garnishing your casserole with some chopped fresh cilantro.  I garnished mine with some sour cream and chopped tomatoes.

The result:  A flavorful casserole that is very tasty and a perfect dinner.

Slow-Cooker Layered Enchilada Dinner
From Betty Crocker

1 lb lean (at least 80%) ground beef
1small onion, chopped (about 1/3 cup)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 can (10 3/4 oz) condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 can (4.5 oz)  chopped green chiles
1 can (10 oz)  enchilada sauce
10 corn tortillas (6 inch)
3 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese (12 oz)
Chopped fresh cilantro

1. In 10-inch skillet, cook ground beef, onion and garlic over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until beef is thoroughly cooked; drain. Stir in soup and chiles.
2. Spray 3 1/2- to 4-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. Spread about 1/4 cup of the enchilada sauce in bottom of slow cooker. Place 4 corn tortillas over sauce, overlapping and breaking in half as necessary to make an even layer. Top with 1/3 of beef mixture, spreading evenly. Drizzle with about 1/4 cup enchilada sauce. Sprinkle with 1 cup of the cheese.
3. Repeat layering twice, using 3 corn tortillas and half of remaining beef mixture, enchilada sauce and cheese in each layer. Sprinkle paprika over top.
4.Cover; cook on Low heat setting 4 hours 30 minutes to 5 hours 30 minutes.
5. Let stand about 5 minutes before serving. Sprinkle individual servings with cilantro.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Peach-Banana Smoothie

Basketball Camp started this morning.  It was a little hectic as I got the spouse off to work, made lunches for the older two for their workday and getting everything ready for Basketball camp.  I decided Tim and I would drink our breakfast this morning.

We started our day with a Peach-Banana smoothie.  I love smoothies because you can be creative in making this delicious drink.   I had a peach in the fruit bowl and I always have bananas either fresh or frozen.  The big question was if the oldest ate all of the Greek yogurt. Luckily, he saved us some.
 I put a banana, one peach peeled, some honey, Greek vanilla yogurt, ice, a dash of cinnamon, some orange juice and Whey protein powder in the blender.  Within a minutes - I had to scrap down the sides  Tim and I had our breakfast.  I ran out to the garden and picked some mint to use as a garnish.  I also had some orange zest that I sprinkled on top.

I added some Whey protein powder but you do not need to.  I thought it would give  Tim an extra boast for camp.   Besides we both like it and it adds a little extra to our smoothie.

Peach-Banana Smoothie

1 medium banana, cut up
1 ripe medium peach, pitted, sliced
1/2 cup Greek Vanilla yogurt
1/3 cup orange juice
2 teaspoons honey
Dash cinnamon
1 scoop Vanilla Whey Protein (optional)
1 cup small ice cubes
Orange zest for garnish
Mint for garnish


1. Combine all ingredients in blender container; blend 1 to 2 minutes or until smooth and frothy.

Makes 2 servings

Friday, July 25, 2014

Garden Minestrone

Zucchini, yellow squash, corn, oregano - just some of the fresh ingredients you can find this time of year.   To take advantage of the season, I made a big pot of Minestrone soup the other night.  I just love a good and hearty soup.

This soup is loaded with veggies - and what I like is you can use what the recipe calls for or substitute your own.    The veggies are cooked in chicken broth and pureed fresh tomatoes.  The broth is seasoned with fresh oregano, salt and pepper.  To the veggies some pasta and Great Northern beans are added.  Last, but not least each serving of soup is topped with a generous portion of shredded Asiago cheese.   MMM good:)

Garden Minestrone
Cooking Light SEPTEMBER 2005

Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 1 1/2 cups soup and 2 tablespoons cheese)

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups chopped yellow squash
3 cups chopped zucchini
1 cup chopped carrot
1 cup fresh corn kernels (about 2 ears)
4 cups chopped tomato, divided
3 (14-ounce) cans fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth, divided
1/2 cup uncooked ditalini pasta (very short tube-shaped macaroni)
1 (15.5-ounce) can Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 (6-ounce) package fresh baby spinach
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup (4 ounces) grated Asiago cheese
Coarsely ground black pepper (optional)

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion to pan; sauté 3 minutes or until softened. Add oregano and garlic; sauté 1 minute. Stir in squash, zucchini, carrot, and corn; sauté 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Remove from heat.

Place 3 cups tomato and 1 can broth in a blender; process until smooth. Add tomato mixture to pan; return pan to heat. Stir in remaining 1 cup tomato and remaining 2 cans broth; bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes.

Add pasta and beans to pan; cook 10 minutes or until pasta is tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Stir in spinach, salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Ladle soup into individual bowls; top with cheese. Garnish with coarsely ground black pepper, if desired.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Swiss Steak

Did you ever think to yourself - it has been a while since I've made that?  That happened to me the other day.  I thought to myself I haven't made Swiss steak in a very long time.  Why?  I did not know.  It is very easy to prepare, is a satisfying meal, and the family eats it up.

 So yesterday's dinner was delicious Swiss Steak with potatoes, carrots, and onions all cooked in my Crock Pot. So simple.  I just  seasoned and browned my round steak before I put it in the crock pot with the veggies.  Poured some tomatoes sauce over the meat and veggies and let the meal cook for about 8 hours.  Once the steak was done,  it was ready to serve.

As the family sat down for dinner, they asked why I didn't make this more ofter.  Enough said - I have included this recipe in my to go to  for a busy day easy meal file.

Swiss Steak
Special Equipment:   Four to five quart Crock pot


1 1/2 pound round steak cut into six serving pieces
1 medium onion sliced
1 1/2 cups baby carrots
6-8 small potatoes - quartered
1 stalk celery, diced
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce


1. Sprinkle the round steak pieces with some pepper on both sides .  In a large skillet brown the steak on each side.  Remove from skillet and place on a plate.
2. Place the onions in the bottom of a 4 to 5 quart crock pot.  Add the carrots, potatoes, and celery.  Add the meat and spoon tomato sauce over the mixture.
3. Cover and cook on low for about 7- 8 hours.
4. Serve.

Makes 6 servings

Monday, July 21, 2014

Crock Pot Coq Au Vin

Coq Au Vin - doesn't that sound wonderful rolling off your tongue.  I remember pestering my mother to make me some "Coq Au Vin" when I was young.  She would ask me what it was and I told her she needed to watch an episode of "Bewitched" and she would find out all she needed to know.

Well, I never got my Coq Au Vin.  However, as I had to cook for myself and my family later on, I found numerous recipes for this delicious chicken braised in wine dish.  My latest  recipe is the crock pot method.    This is great for busy days and days when it is too hot to cook.

Start by cooking some diced bacon and green onions in a skillet.  Be warned - the aroma is intoxicating. Remove the bacon and onions from the skillet and add chicken pieces.  I used 3 chicken breasts.  Brown the chicken well on all side.  Set the chicken aside.

In your crock pot - I used my oval one - add some small white onions, mushrooms, potatoes, and garlic.  Next place the browned chicken over the veggies.  Top the chicken with the bacon and green onions, salt, pepper, dried thyme, and some chicken broth.  Cook on low for  7 hours. For the last  hour of cooking, I add some Burgundy wine and cook on high for the last hour.  Total cooking time is 8 hours.

Dinner is ready.  Your family will sit down to a very flavorful chicken meal.  The chicken is tender and juicy and the veggies are just delicious.    This recipe serves  6.

Coq Au Vin
From A Slow Cooker Recipe Book

5 bacon slices, diced
2/3 cup sliced green onions
2 1/2 pound broiler-fryer chicken, cut up or 3 chicken breasts, halved
4 to 6 small white onions, peeled
1/4 pound whole mushrooms
6 to 8  small new potatoes
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup Burgundy wine


1. In a large skillet, saute diced bacon and green onions until bacon is crisp.  Remove and drain.
2.  Add chicken pieces to the skillet and brown well on all sides.  Remove the chicken when it has browned and set aside.
3. Put peeled onions, mushrooms, potatoes, and garlic in Crock Pot.  Add browned chicken pieces, bacon and green onions, seasonings, and chicken broth.
4. Cover and cook on low for 7 hours.  Add Burgundy and cook on High for one hour.
5.  Serve.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Strawberries And Fresh Mozzarella With Mint Pesto Drizzle

Strawberries and Mozzarella- a delicious combination.  Add to this some mint pesto and balsamic vinegar and you have yourself a delicious light lunch or an appetizer.

I found this recipe years ago in Family Circle magazine.  I clipped in and put it in my "To Make In The Future" file.  Well, today was the day.  I sent Tim out to pick some mint from the garden while I cleaned and sliced some strawberries.  Once the strawberries are sliced, they are sweetened with some sugar.

Now to the Mint pesto.  It is really very easy.  All of the ingredients are swirled together in a food processor.  You'll need some mint leaves, olive oil, almonds, Parmesan cheese and some garlic.  That's it.

You are ready to assemble the dish.  You start by layering some fresh mozzarella that has been sliced on a plate or small platter.  Spoon some strawberries over the cheese.    Next, drizzle some of the mint pesto over the strawberries and cheese followed by some balsamic vinegar.  Oh - I love the flavor of balsamic vinegar and strawberries.  Garnish with some mint leaves and you are ready to serve.

The kids and I had this for lunch and it was delicious.  The strawberries with the cheese were great but the mint pesto and the balsamic vinegar kicked it up to the next level of deliciousness:)     Great recipe - I am glad I finally go around to making it.

Strawberries And Fresh Mozzarella With Mint Pesto Drizzle
From Family Circle Magazine


1 pound strawberries, sliced
2 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup mint leaves, loosely packed, plus more for garnish
1/4 cup almonds, sliced
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic
1 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, 1/2-inch slices
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar


1. Combine strawberries and sugar in a large bowl.  Cover and set aside.
2. In a food processor, combine olive oil, mint leaves, almonds, Parmesan and garlic.
3. Layer mozzarella on plate.  Spoon strawberries, mint pesto and balsamic vinegar over top.  Garnish with mint leaves.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Escarole and Orzo Soup With Turkey Parmesan Meatballs

Yesterday the day was overcast and cool.  A nice respite from the heat we have been having.  I thought I would take advantage of the cool weather and make some soup I have been wanting to try.

I had most of the ingredients  - except the escarole.  So off to the store I went.  Wouldn't you know it - I could not find any escarole.  So I substituted some spinach.

In the kitchen, I began my soup preparation.  The meatballs are assembled first and then put in the fridge for 30 minutes.  Next the broth is brought to a boil and the carrots and orzo are added.  Reduce the heat and simmer for about 8 minutes.  Add the meatballs, simmer, add the chopped escarole (spinach in my case) simmer, taste and serve.

Easy preparation for a very delicious and satisfying soup.  Everyone enjoyed it - there wasn't a drop leftover.  This soup is a winner.  To be made again and again.

Escarole and Orzo Soup With Turkey Parmesan Meatballs
From Bon Appetit

1 large egg
2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
12 ounces lean ground turkey
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
8 cups (or more) low-salt chicken broth
1 cup chopped peeled carrots
3/4 cup orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
4 cups coarsely chopped escarole (about 1/2 medium head)


1. Whisk egg and 2 tablespoons water in medium bowl to blend. Mix in breadcrumbs; let stand 5 minutes. Add turkey, Parmesan cheese, parsley, garlic, salt, and pepper; gently stir to blend. Using wet hands, shape turkey mixture into 1 1/4-inch-diameter meatballs. Place on baking sheet; cover and chill 30 minutes.

2. Bring 8 cups chicken broth to boil in large pot. Add carrots and orzo; reduce heat to medium and simmer uncovered 8 minutes. Add turkey meatballs and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in chopped escarole and simmer until turkey meatballs, orzo, and escarole are tender, about 5 minutes longer. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be made 2 hours ahead. Rewarm over medium heat, thinning with more broth if desired.)

3. Ladle soup into bowls and serve.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Potato Salad

What a classic.  Nothing goes better with a cook out, pot luck, BBQ, or picnic than potato salad.  I love the basic recipes - mayonnaise, potatoes, eggs, celery, and some seasoning.  They are fast, easy and delicious.

Today, I made a recipe I got from Hellman's.  Simply boil some potatoes - I boiled mine in a little salted water, tossed in some celery, hard boiled eggs, and coated them with a dressing made of mayonnaise, some vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper.  I put my salad in the fridge until I was ready to serve it but you can serve at room temperature if you wish.  For a little color, I sprinkled some paprika on top.

From Hellman's

2 lbs. potatoes (5 to 6 medium), peeled and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
1 cup Hellmann's® or Best Foods® Real Mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1 cup thinly sliced celery
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 hard-cooked eggs, chopped (optional)

Cover potatoes with water in 4-quart sauce pot; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and cool slightly.
Combine Hellmann's® or Best Foods® Real Mayonnaise, vinegar, salt, sugar and pepper in large bowl. Add potatoes, celery, onion and eggs and toss gently. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Slow Cooker Macaroni and Cheese

The kids were craving mac and cheese.  With it being soo hot, I did not feel like turning on the oven and heating up the house.  They are not too fond of stove top mac and cheese so I decided to make some in my crock pot.

The crock pot method makes delicious mac and cheese with very little clean up.  All of the ingredients are mixed together in your slow cooker.  Put the lid on the slow cooker and cook for 3 hours.  Before serving the mac and cheese stir the mixture and serve.  That's it.

Your family will enjoy this tasty cheesy dish.  Using a crock pot for summer cooking allows you to make family favorites without giving up taste.

Slow Cooker Macaroni and Cheese
From Food Network


Cooking spray
8 ounces cooked elbow macaroni
One 12-ounce can evaporated milk
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup (1/2 stick ) of butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt
Dash of pepper
2 large eggs, beaten
Two 10-ounce bricks sharp Cheddar cheese, grated (about 5 cups)
Dash of paprika
Ground pepper for garnish (optional)

In a large 4-quart slow cooker sprayed with cooking spray, mix the macaroni, evaporated milk, milk, butter, salt, pepper, eggs and all but 1/2 cup of the grated cheese. Sprinkle the reserved cheese over the top of the mixture and then sprinkle with paprika. Cover and cook on low heat for 3 hours and 15 minutes. Turn off the slow cooker, stir the mixture and serve hot.

Yield 12 servings

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Caprese Bites

What is red, green, white, and delicious? Answer - Caprese bites.   These little snacks/appetizers are loaded with flavor and so very easy to make.   You need just a few ingredients - cherry tomatoes, marinated mozzarella balls, basil leaves, some avocado oil (olive oil will do), balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.  That is it.

My kids love help making these and eating them too.  While they are placing a tomato, basil leaf, and the marinated mozzarella balls on toothpicks, I am whipping up the dressing.  Once the  "bites" have been made, I drizzle the balsamic dressing over them.  I then sprinkle them with a little salt and pepper and they are ready to enjoy.

These  are perfect appetizers or snacks when you need something quick to make. They will be enjoyed by everyone.  Be sure to set aside a few for yourself:)

Caprese Bites


24 cherry tomatoes - washed and dried
24 fresh basil leaves
24 marinated mozzarella balls
1 tablespoon avocado oil (olive oil if you do not have avocado oil)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Pinch of kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
24 toothpicks


1. Place a tomato, a folded basil leaf, and a marinated mozzarella ball on a toothpick.  Place the Caprese Bite on a serving platter and repeat until you have finished making the bites.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the avocado oil and vinegar.  Drizzle over the bites.  Sprinkle the Caprese bites with salt and pepper.  Serve.

Makes 24 bites