Sausage and Pepper Baked Ziti

My family loves baked ziti and I was craving comfort casserole. This recipe feeds many so cut in half or make 2 portions and freeze one. Make it meatless and leave the sausage out.

Ingredients:

2 pounds of ground italian sausage, I used sweet

1 package of chopped peppers, I purchased these in the produce department

1 cup onion, chopped

1 16 ounce box of ziti

2 jars of your favorite marinara (spaghetti) sauce, use what you need. I had about a half a jar leftover

1 32 ounce container of ricotta cheese

3/4 cup Parmesan cheese (the dry kind that you shake out)

3 Tablespoons chopped parsley

3 eggs

1 package/container Parmesan shreds (grated)

2 pounds grated mozzarella cheese

In a skillet, brown sausage with peppers and onions. While your sausage is cooking, you can boil the ziti noodles. Cook according to package directions. Drain grease from sausage and drain pasta. Put pasta in a bowl and toss with a small amount of marinara sauce. Set both aside.

In a medium size bowl, add ricotta, eggs, dry Parmesan and parsley and mix thoroughly.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

I used a large 9 x 15 casserole dish, prepare with nonstick cooking spray. Spread some marinara sauce on the bottom of casserole dish.

Layer half of your ziti in the bottom of your pan. Add a layer of the ricotta mixture and top ricotta with the sausage and peppers.

Top sausage and peppers with marinara sauce and grated Parmesan.

Add half of your mozzarella cheese on top of the Parmesan cheese.

Repeat layers. Bake 30-40 minutes until hot and bubbly.

Serve with a salad, garlic bread and glass of vino. Manga! Enjoy!

Broccoli Casserole Rewind

My favorite vegetable is green beans. My Daughter in Love Danielle loves broccoli. She wondered what my green bean casserole would taste like if I used broccoli instead of green beans. We decided to try it Christmas Day as one of our side dishes. It was wonderful. I have rewound the recipe, taken out the green beans and added frozen broccoli florets.

Ingredients:

2 packages of frozen broccoli florets, steam in the bag, cooked to package directions
1/2 cup onion, diced fine
2 Tablespoons of flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce (secret ingredient that rocks this recipe)
1 teaspoon sugar
2 Tablespoons butter
1 cup of sour cream
2 cups of cheese
1 large container of French fried onions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in a skillet on the stove. Add flour to pan to make a roux. Cook for one minute. Do not burn! Add onion, salt, soy sauce, sugar and sour cream. Stir to blend. Add broccoli and toss in mixture to coat. Pour into a 2 1/2 quart casserole dish. Top with cheddar cheese. Distribute onions on top of cheese and bake for 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly. I usually check halfway through the cooking time to make sure the fried onions are not getting too brown, if they are, tent with foil.

***Tip: This dish can be made a day or two ahead and refrigerated without the onion topping on it. Take it out of the refrigerator 20 minutes before you need to bake it. Right before baking, add the French fried onions. This can be a big time saver when trying to prepare a holiday meal.

Four Ingredient Appetizer

Nothing better than a quick easy recipe with few ingredients. This appetizer probably takes you longer to go to the store and buy the ingredients than it actually takes to make it. I saw this recipe on the Today Show, it was from Dylan Dreyer. What a great hostess gift to your dinner hostess. It’s so hard to guess what wine is preferred, arrive with a delicious treat. Win win!

Ingredients:

1 loaf of baguette bread

1 container Allouette cheese spread, I used garlic and herb

Deli sliced roast beef

Red fancy pimentos

The 4 ingredients

I toasted my bread, it’s not necessary. You can put the bread on a cookie sheet and broil it or use your toaster. Spread a generous smear of your cheese spread on the bread. Place roast beef on top of cheese and top with pimento. Easy peasy and delicious. Enjoy!

Quiche Danielle

I named this quiche after my daughter in love Danielle because I created it for her and she told me that it was her favorite thing I have made for dinner. This quiche is vegetarian, I used organic ingredients. She loved it and my son and I did too.

Ingredients:

1 8 ounce container sliced white mushrooms

3 cups of spinach leaves

1 medium onion, sliced

2 teaspoons sugar, optional

4-6 ounces of Swiss Cheese, grated

3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided

3 Tablespoons butter, divided

4 eggs, plus 1 yolk

1 cup of heavy cream

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a quiche pan with nonstick spray. Set aside.

In a skillet, melt 1 Tablespoon of butter with 1 Tablespoon of olive oil. Sauté mushrooms until soft and cooked. Set aside. Repeat butter and olive oil with spinach. Cook until wilted. Melt last Tablespoon of butter and olive oil and add sliced onions. I also added 2 teaspoons of sugar to caramelize the onions, not mandatory but I added it. Set aside. It’s fine and I prefer letting the ingredients cool before then custard mixture is poured over them.

In your quiche pan, layer mushrooms first. Add spinach next, finishing with the caramelized onions.

In a blender, add 4 eggs plus 1 yolk, heavy cream, salt, pepper and mustard. Blend until all ingredients are combined. Pour over mushrooms, spinach and onions. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes until firm, not jiggly in the center. Enjoy!

Copycat Chicken Salad Chick Pimento Cheese

Since moving to Florida in 1978, I have embraced all things southern. Born and raised in Southern California, my Mom was from North Carolina. I would say I am a southerner. 😉 I am a frequent diner at Chicken Salad Chick. One thing I enjoy is their pimento cheese. It’s made a little differently than what you think pimento cheese you have seen before. This one is made with grated cheese that you grate yourself. No package grated cheese. Even the restaurant grates theirs.

Ingredients:

1 8 ounce package of sharp cheddar cheese (I used Cabot’s)

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon of Worcestershire Sauce

1/2 teaspoon of pepper, or more to taste

1/2 teaspoon of salt, or more to taste

1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder

1 4 ounce jar of diced pimentos, drained and blotted with paper towels

2 Tablespoons of finely minced onions (can be grated) or more if desired

Grate cheese using the largest holes of a box grater or food processor. Set aside and refrigerate. In a small size mixing bowl make the dressing for the pimento cheese. Combine mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire Sauce, pepper, salt and garlic powder. Whisk ingredients together to combine. Add drained dice pimentos and onions, stirring to incorporate. Now it’s time to add the cold grated cheese to this mixture. This is delicious as a sandwich, a burger on crackers or just by itself. Enjoy!

***Chicken Salad Chick sells a spicy version of pimento cheese and it would be the same recipe adding chili powder/and or red pepper flakes. You determine the heat.

Southern Macaroni and Cheese

My Dad found a recipe for Macaroni and Cheese in Southern Living Magazine. He asked me if I would make it for him. This is very creamy and cheesy, just the way I love macaroni and cheese. I realized at the grocery store I was going to have to modify this recipe because they did not have the tools and equipment to make it just like the original recipe. For example, no way to grate cheese and my grocery store did not sell a grater. So here is my version, a modified version.

Ingredients:

1 box (16 ounces) large elbow macaroni remember to make your water salty like the sea

6 Tablespoons of butter

1/2 cup of grated sweet onion

2 teaspoons of dry mustard

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper or more for heat

6 Tablespoons of All Purpose Flour

3 1/2 cups whole milk

1 3/4 heavy cream

2 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce

16 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, divided

8 ounces mozzarella cheese, divided

Preheat heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare pasta al dente according to directions on the box. Spray 13 x 9 pan with nonstick spray.

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, mustard, nutmeg, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper and flour. Cook 2 minutes until golden. Slowly whisk in milk and cream. Bring to a boil and whisk occasionally. Reduce heat to medium low and whisk occasionally until thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in Worcestershire Sauce. Add 1 1/2 cup of sharp cheddar cheese and 1 cup of mozzarella cheese. Stir until melted. Add in pasta and combine. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cover the top with remaining cheeses. Place baking rack about 6 inches away from broiler. Put macaroni and cheese under broiler for about 2 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Let sit about 10 minutes after it’s removed from the broiler. Yields 10 generous servings. I paired my macaroni and cheese with a Caesar Salad and garlic bread. Enjoy!

Recipe inspired by Southern Living Magazine.

Monica’s Delish Dip

I tried this delicious dip at my grandson’s birthday party. My gorgeous daughter in love made this and I knew when I tried it, I had to share it with you. I doubled this recipe which feeds a crowd, this can very easily be cut in half for smaller crowds.

My son and his beautiful wife.

Ingredients:

1 pound ground beef

1 pound ground sausage, I used mild but hot would be great too

2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese

2 small packages of original Velveeta

2 cans of Rotel, original

1 can of corn, drained

2 cups of grated cheddar cheese, I used sharp

Add cream cheese, Velveeta, Rotel, and corn to your crockpot. Cook beef (I seasoned mine with pepper and garlic salt), drain and add to crockpot. Cook sausage, drain and add to crockpot. Cook on low for a couple of hours until everything is nice and melty. Stir in additional grated cheese. Once the grated cheese has melted, maintain the dip recipe on low. Serve with you favorite dipping chips. I used Frito Scoops but any sturdy chip works. Thank you Monica 💗💗💗 for the recipe. Enjoy!

Bagel And Egg Casserole 

I first saw a version of this casserole on The Today Show. I had to change the ingredients to my liking so I have created this very versatile breakfast casserole that would be prefect for brunch, lunch or dinner paired with a salad. 
Ingredients:

4 everything bagels, (plain or onion can be used) torn into pieces

3 Tablespoons of chopped onion

1 8 ounce block of cream cheese, room temperature 

1/4 pound sliced ham, torn into pieces or 1 pound bacon cooked and crumbled 

8 eggs

2 cups milk

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper 

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Butter for 13 x 9 pan, be generous or it will stick

Butter inside of 13 x 9 pan. Place torn bagels in bottom of buttered pan. Sprinkle chopped onion on top of bagels. Dot the top of the casserole with softened cream cheese. Tear up ham and spread over casserole. In a bowl or blender, mix eggs, milk, pepper and mustard. Pour blended egg mixture over casserole. Top with shredded cheese. Cover tightly with foil and place in refrigerator for a minimum of 2 hours or overnight. 


Take casserole out of the fridge and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake 45 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. 

Almost Mom’s Scalloped Potatoes 

You are probably asking why almost. This difference between this recipe and my Mom’s is that I used my food processor (but it’s not required) and I left the skins on my potatoes. I grew up eating these potatoes, loved it when she made them. It was usually holiday time like Christmas or Easter. 

Ingredients:

1 cup milk

1 cup heavy cream

1 Tablespoon butter, plus more for baking dish

1 teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon corn starch or flour

5 average size potatoes, I used Russet 

1/2 cup onion, diced very fine (I used my food processor)

Pepper to taste

4 cups sharp cheddar cheese, or whatever cheddar you prefer


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare baking dish (I used a long shallow pan) by rubbing the bottom and sides with butter. This will add more flavor to the potatoes as they are baking. 
Make your white sauce by combing milk, cream, butter, salt and corn starch. Stir to blend in pot and bring to a boil over medium heat. Continue keeping it at a low boil for 5 minutes, stirring to prevent scorching. Set aside. 


I used my Kitchen Aid Food Processor which has a slicing preference to how thin or thick you slice things. I kept mine in thin, like potato chip thin. That can also be obtained by using a mandolin but if you aren’t able to slice thin, I suggest you parboil the potatoes so they will be done and not undercooked in the casserole dish. 


Working quickly, potatoes do discolor, lay a layer of potatoes in your casserole dish. Sprinkle pepper, add onions, white sauce and cheddar cheese. Repeat each layer, I made 4 layers in my pan. Tent with foil and bake for 55 – 60 minutes until hot and bubbly. I removed the foil the last five minutes of baking. Enjoy!


Garlic Parmesan Spaghetti Squash


I love spaghetti squash. You can dress it up like pasta once it’s cooked. There are many ways to prepare this squash. Bake, microwave and even in the pressure cooker. I typically microwave mine but this time I baked it. This recipe is delicious, low carb and can be served as a meal or side dish. 


Once you cut open the squash, scoop out the seeds and pulp just like you would do with a pumpkin. 
Baking 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a baking pan, spray or oil bottom of pan. Drizzle olive oil over squash. Salt and pepper prepared squash, I used garlic salt. Place cut side down in your baking dish. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until done. 

Microwave
Salt and pepper inside of prepared squash. Fill baking dish with one inch of water with squash inside. Microwave on high for 10 minutes. 


Ingredients:

Olive oil, if baking

Garlic butter, I used Shamy’s

Parmesan Cheese, grated

Salt and Pepper, I used garlic salt and fresh cracked pepper 


Once your spaghetti squash is cool enough to handle, scrape the inside of the squash. Spaghetti like strands will begin to form. Continue to scrape the inside until strands are no longer coming from the sides and bottom of your squash. Add garlic butter, salt and fresh ground pepper, and top with Parmesan or your choice of Italian cheese.  I did not add amounts for the ingredients because each squash will yield different amounts of squash depending on the size. Use what you prefer as far as butter, salt, pepper and cheese. 


I chose to eat my squash on a plate like spaghetti but you can load it back into the empty squash shell if you prefer. This is a delicious low carb meal or side dish.  Mangia mangia!  Enjoy!