Monday, May 1, 2017

Cheesy Baked Penne

This cheesy baked penne is a meal that is easy to get ready, on will be on the table in about an hour. My people need lots of food, so I make a big batch when I cook things like this!

Of course, homemade pasta sauce would be excellent in this dish, but I won't judge if you use prepared sauce (shhhh....did you see the jar of sauce in my picture?)

I actually throw the onion in a mini food processor to chop it down into really small pieces. I have one of those kids that "doesn't like onion" and can find the smallest bits in dishes.

Cheesy Baked Penne
Katy | Alphabet Soup

1 lb penne pasta
1 lb ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
24 oz marinara pasta sauce
3/4 cup sour cream
12 oz provolone cheese, grated
8 oz mozzarella cheese, grated
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 350'F.

Spray a 9" x 13" baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.

Cook the pasta to al dente according to package instructions.

While the pasta is cooking, brown the ground beef and onion in a large skillet until the beef is no longer pink. Add the pasta sauce and simmer until the sauce is heated through. Drain the pasta and add to the meat and sauce mixture. Stir in the sour cream.

In the prepared baking dish, layer half the meat mixture, then half of the provolone and mozzarella cheeses. Top with the remaining meat mixture and then the remaining provolone and mozzarella. Finish with the Parmesan.

Bake for 30-35 minutes until hot and bubbly. Let rest 5 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with parsley if desired.

Makes 8 servings (or maybe 3 servings for a hungry teenager!)

Enjoy :)

Sunday, April 27, 2014


Photo Credit:  Garrett Farlow via Flickr 

You've heard the phrase “life is what happens when you’re busy making plans”, right?  Well, let me tell you, a whole lot of life has happened in the last two years.  I haven’t been blogging much, and while I’m not apologizing to anyone for that, I will say that I have missed it.  I want to try to get back into a routine, more for myself than anyone else.  Of course, I totally love it when others read what I write!  J  Summer is fast approaching and I’m very much looking forward to a new season and a new outlook.  

Friday, December 27, 2013

Waffle Sticks

At first, I have to admit I was a bit annoyed at my mom for buying me yet another random kitchen appliance. "it was a black Friday special, and super cheap, and I thought it was cute" she said. Might I mention she also bought me a Belgian waffle maker? And I already had a working waffle maker, so.....yeah.

Anyway, the mini waffle stick maker. It actually is kind of cute. And the kids love dunking the sticks in syrup. It only makes 4 at a time, so it's definitely not for rushed mornings. Maybe I'll take the time to make a bunch and freeze them. Hmmm...I could put Doctor Who on the kindle to pass the time...there's a thought! :)

Anyway, not a paid advertisement. Just the random musings of an overly tired mama!

I hope you and yours had a very merry Christmas! Any random kitchen appliances under your tree?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Crispy Oven Baked Cornflake Chicken Legs

Y’all, this is seriously the best oven fried chicken I have ever made!  Truly.  It was awesome.  I haven’t blogged in forever, I hadn’t planned on blogging this, but it needs to be shared!  In light of the fact that I hadn’t planned on putting this on the blog, please excuse the last-minute phone pictures.
I have been making variations of oven fried chicken forever.  My first go at it was when I was still a kid, and I made the cornflake chicken from the Betty Crocker kids cookbook (I still have it, but it’s currently in a box in the basement or I would take a picture for you!).  I’m proud of this most recent variation. 
Some tips I’m going to share with you:
·         I use the mini food processor to make the cornflake crumbs.  Be sure not to grind them into a powder, you still want pieces you can actually see!
·         Do not skimp on the Parmesan and use the stuff in the can.  It has its uses, this is not one of them.  Buy a wedge of the real stuff, keep it in the fridge, and thank me later.
·         You can totally bake this straight on the baking sheet (well, lined with foil or parchment paper first, or greased).  Anyway, if you want it really crispy though, put a rack in your pan and bake the chicken on that.  Spray it with oil first to help with cleanup later.
·         I used skin-on chicken for this.  Totally personal preference.  That’s what was at the store, and I wasn’t about to take the skin off myself.  I used legs because that’s what my kids love.  Any cut will do, just adjust cooking time if needed.  Also, this would be great for chicken strips.  Again, adjust the cooking time.

See, a cooling rack on a baking sheet.  One of these days, my kids are going to argue over who gets that well-loved baking sheet, I just know it!  :)
Keeping it real:  I love to cook.  I hate to clean.  I went all out and made mashed potatoes, mac & cheese, biscuits from scratch, and cream gravy (ok, Munchkin actually did most of the work for the gravy!  Love that kid.)  I was still washing dishes the next morning. 
Also, Sprout (5) and I both suffer from low blood sugar.  I know better.  We totally should have had a protein –laden snack about the time I started cooking.  We didn’t.  About 10 minutes before supper was ready, the you-know-what hit the fan and it was nearly WWIII at my house.  Don’t be us.  Eat when you need to.  You’d think I would’ve learned by now…
Ok!  On to the recipe.
Crispy Oven Baked Cornflake Chicken Legs
adapted from
2 cups cornflake crumbs
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp ground cayenne pepper, (or more depending on your tastes and who is eating!)
freshly ground black pepper (sorry, I don’t measure…)
3 large eggs
¼ cup milk (or something like that, I used “a splash”)
¼ tsp garlic powder (again, I used “a sprinkle”)
10-12 chicken legs
oil or melted butter
Preheat oven to 350°F.  Place a baking rack on a baking sheet or roasting pan.  Spray the rack with oil or cooking spray. Alternately, line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.  Set aside. 
In a shallow pan or pie plate, mix the cornflake crumbs, Parmesan, salt, cayenne and black pepper.  In a separate dish or pie plate, whisk together the eggs, milk and garlic powder.
Coat each chicken leg with the egg mixture then roll in the cornflake mixture to coat well, pressing lightly to help the coating stick.  Place each coated chicken leg on the prepared pan.  Drizzle each chicken leg with oil or melted butter (I used a little drizzle of olive oil).
Bake for 50-75 minutes or until chicken is cooked through (ovens and chicken legs vary).
Enjoy!  J

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Chocolate-Coated Marshmallow-Filled Moon Pies

Chocolate Moon Pies

Back in 2011, I participated in a project called Frosting for the Cause.  My contribution was Chocolate-Coated Marshmallow-Filled Moon Pies.  Unfortunately, it seems as though that blog no longer exists.  In light of that, I am re-posting the story and recipe here, just in case anyone comes looking for it.  :)

Originally posted Feb 22, 2011

When I first heard about Frosting for the Cause via Twitter, I knew I had to join in.  I was so excited to get the email letting me know when I would be posting!  I feel very honored to be a part of this.
Later, when I sat down to write my post, the emotions really hit me.  My grandmother has battled cancer not once, but twice in her life.  And thankfully, both times, she has won.  She’s a tough old lady!  Just don’t tell her I called her old. 
And she is not the only woman in my life to have been touched by cancer.  A dear friend of mine, Denyse, recently lost both her sister and her mother to cancer.
It is in honor and memory of these strong and brave women that I present my post today.  I thought long and hard about what sweet to create, and finally the moon pie won out.  My grandmother loves sweets, despite being told not to have them because of recently diagnosed diabetes, and I know she will love these.  I’ll only save one for her, and the rest will be donated to the local non-profit hospice. 
Moon pies are made from marshmallow sandwiched between graham cookies and dipped in chocolate.  How can you go wrong with that?  Be warned, this is not an endeavor for the neat freak -- the marshmallow making process can get quite…sticky.  But I have included some alternative solutions at the end of the recipe.
Chocolate-Coated Marshmallow-Filled Moon Pies

Graham Cookies:
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup golden brown sugar, packed
1 tsp baking soda
¾ tsp kosher salt
7 Tbsp unsalted butter, very cold
1/3 cup honey
5 Tbsp milk or half & half
2 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
Marshmallow filling
3 packages unflavored gelatin
1 cup cold water, divided
12 ounces granulated sugar (about 1 ½ cups, but weigh if you can)
1 cup light corn syrup
¼ tsp kosher salt
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Chocolate coating
2 lbs dipping chocolate or candy melts (I used Ghirardelli candy making and dipping bar, which I found at my local Sam’s Club)
First, make the graham cookies.  In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade, combine the flours, brown sugar, baking soda and salt and pulse just to mix.  Cut the butter into several pieces, add to the flour mixture, and pulse several times until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. 

In a separate bowl, whisk together the honey, milk and vanilla extract.  Add to the food processor and pulse until the dough comes together.  Don’t worry, the dough is supposed to be very soft and sticky at this point.

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours, or overnight.
On a floured work surface, roll out half the dough to 1/8-inch thick (keep the other half of the dough in the refrigerator until ready to use).  
Use a 2 ½ inch round cutter and cut as many circles as you can from the dough.  You can re-roll the scraps, but it’s better to get as many from this first pass as you can. 
Place the circles on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Put the baking sheet in the refrigerator for 30-45 minutes, or in the freezer for 15-20 minutes.  Repeat with the other half of the dough, as well as re-rolling any scraps you have leftover (you may need to chill them again before re-rolling). 
Preheat the oven to 350’F.  Remove one of the baking sheets from the refrigerator or freezer and bake for 12-15 minutes, or just until the cookies begin to brown and becom slightly firm to the touch.  You don’t want these too crispy for this purpose. {tip: when removing a metal baking sheet from the freezer, make sure your hands are completely dry or use an oven mitt!}
Let cookies cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.  While they are cooling, prepare the marshmallow filling.
Place ½ cup of the water and the gelatin in the bowl of a stand mixer (use the whisk attachment for making the marshmallows).
Combine the remaining ½ cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt in a small saucepan.  Place over medium-high heat, cover and let cook 3-4 minutes.  Uncover, clip a candy thermometer to the pan and allow to cook until it reaches soft ball stage, or about 240’F.  I think this took mine close to 10 minutes.  You don’t have to hover when you first start it, but don’t walk off and forget it!

Once you reach this temperature, immediately remove the pan from the heat.  Turn the mixer on low speed, and carefully pour the sugar syrup down the side of the mixer bowl into the gelatin.  After adding all of the syrup increase the speed to high and continue to mix until it becomes very thick and fluffy.  The original recipe states this will take 12-15 minutes.  I didn’t time mine precisely, but I think it was closer to 10 minutes.  I could “hear” a change in the way my mixer sounded, and that and the look of the mixture is what I went by.  Add the vanilla about one minute before you are done beating the mixture. 

Transfer the marshmallow filling to a large (gallon size) resealable plastic bag.  Smush it all down to one side and snip off the corner with scissors.  Place half of the cooled cookies onto a sheet of parchment paper, and have the remaining cookies standing by.
Squeeze a dollop of the filling onto each of the cookies on the parchment paper.

Top with the remaining cookies, pressing lightly.  Let set at room temperature for about two hours, or until the filling has set up.

Once the filling has set up, melt the dipping chocolate according to the package directions and allow to cool just slightly.  Working with one at a time, gently drop the cookies into the melted chocolate.  Using a fork, turn to coat, then lift out and allow the excess chocolate to drip back into the bowl.  Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and allow to sit at room temperature for 1-2 hours or until the coating is firm.
Makes approximately 30 sandwiches.  Enjoy!
Alternatives:  If you don’t want to make your own marshmallow filling, buy the jar of marshmallow crème at the store and use that to fill the sandwiches.  You can also use the large marshmallows, cutting them in half, placing them on the bottom cookies, and putting in a low oven for a couple of minutes until warmed.  Remove from the oven, top with the second cookie, allow to cool, and proceed as directed. 


Thursday, November 8, 2012

All-in-One Holiday Bundt Cake

I've been making the littles some apple muffins lately, which they love, but I've been wanting to make something with pumpkin instead.  However, I've been stuck in a rut and just haven't found a recipe that I've wanted to try.  Sure, I have my stand-by recipes, but I wanted something new.  I can't believe I hadn't checked one of my favorite baking books (Baking From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan) before now. 

A quick look at the index, and I found what I was looking for, All-in-One Holiday Bundt Cake.  It really does have it all:  pumpkin, apples, fresh cranberries, and pecans.  Perfect!  I even had all the ingredients, since I had picked up some cranberries on a whim at the grocery store this week.  I decided to let all the kiddos help me, and they were excited to.  Let me warn you though, I would prep the pecans, cranberries, and apples ahead of time if you're going to be making this with kids, especially young ones.  They got bored with this part fairly quickly.  Let me also say that I really wish I had a better space for having all the kids help me at once.  But that's my kitchen's problem, not yours.  :)

Anyway, this is one of my new favorite cakes.  I loved all the flavors in it!  If you're not a fan of ginger, you might want to scale back the amount called for, but I thought it was great.  The Munchkin tried one bite, and didn't really care for it (no surprise there, but he did try it!).  The Sprout liked it, but Squirt loved it, and I mean he loved it

Now, things don't always go as planned.  This is a life lesson that has been thrown at me a ton this year, no doubt about it.  Yesterday was no exception, as my cake totally stuck to the pan.  I'm going to blame it on the pan and not my buttering skills, as I've had trouble with the last couple bundt cakes I've made.  ;)  No matter, it tasted wonderful anyway! 

This recipe was originally posted to the internet through the baking group Tuesdays with Dorie (I participated for a brief time).  I was going to link to the recipe through that, but it seems that the blog that was allowed to post the recipe is no longer in existence.  But, I did find the recipe on Serious Eats, so I'm just going to link to it there, since I didn't change a thing!  Click here to find the recipe.  Or just go buy the book.  I'm serious, anyone that loves to bake should own this book (and no, I'm not an affiliate anywhere, so I don't get any kickbacks!). 

Enjoy!  :)

Today, I'm participating in Food Bloggers Support for Sandy.  I have several friends that were in Sandy's path, and while they were all fortunate enough to have their homes spared, some of them are still without power, and now facing a winter storm.  I hate being so far away from them, unable to help directly.  Hopefully by participating in this I will be able to help just a little bit more.  I'm thinking of you Chris, Julie, and Sher!  And you too Michelle, even though you've moved away I know you're a NY'er at heart, and your hometown has suffered.  And my other Michele.  And everyone in the area.  I truly cannot imagine what you have all been dealing with. 

I'm also linking up to the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats hosting by Brenda of Meal Planning Magic.  Check out what everyone else is sharing! 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Hello Dolly Cookie Bars

Several years ago, my mom gave me an old cookbook, it was hers but I'm not sure she ever used it, Favorite Recipes from Southern Kitchens:  Desserts.  I love this cookbook!  I thought it would be great to go through it and pick a recipe or two to use for this year's 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats series. 

For this week, I chose a super easy one, Hello Dolly Cookies.  I have absolutely no idea where the name came from.  I'm really not sure I've ever eaten one before, though the ladies I shared the finished product with knew about them!  I did an internet search too, and it seems they go by a lot of names, including Magic Layer Bars. 

Honestly, they are so easy to make.  There's no mixing required.  Kids could absolutely help with these.  The cookies smelled divine while they were baking, and I barely waited for them to cool before trying one.

At first I thought "these taste almost like German chocolate cake", then "or definitely like a candy bar" and finally "damn these are good, I want the whole pan!!"  :)  But I didn't eat them all.  The kids loved them, and so did everyone I shared them with.  This is a definitely a keeper. 

The original recipe just called for butter, and I used unsalted butter because that's all I had.  It seemed to work just fine.  I do think that next time I make these I will add just a tad more graham cracker crumbs and see how it does.  It's not that it was bad, but I felt like a couple more tablespoons of the graham cracker crumbs would have soaked up the butter better. 

Hello Dolly Cookie Bars
from Favorite Recipes from Southern Kitchens:  Desserts

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans)
1 (15 oz) can sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 350'F.  Melt butter in a 9x9x2 inch baking pan.  Sprinkle in the graham cracker crumbs, then the coconut, chocolate chips and nuts (you just layer it all in, one layer of each).  Pour the condensed milk over it all, then bake for 30 minutes.  Cool in the pan, then cut into 16 squares.

*I used an 11x8 pan because that's what I had readily available.  It worked just fine. 

Enjoy!  :)

I'm linked up to the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats hosted by Meal Planning Magic.  See what everyone else is making!