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Velveeta Macaroni and Cheese

10 Oct

Charity’s sensory issues have led me to cut artificial food dyes out of her diet.  Among the bajillion culprits lies Kraft’s Macaroni and Cheese, which uses yellow dye.  This has placed me on the hunt for a good homemade macaroni and cheese recipe.  In general I don’t like Velveeta recipes because they seem to turn out so thick and sticky.  And homemade versions using real cheddar, flour, and milk always seem a bit chalky and pasty to me.  This version of Velveeta macaroni and cheese, utilizing butter, flour and LOTS of milk creates a much creamier pasta than the recipe on the Velveeta box.

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz. uncooked macaroni
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 4 cups milk
  • 14 oz. Velveeta, cut into chunks
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs tossed with 3 T melted butter (optional)

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare macaroni almost according to package directions.  Undercook by a minute or two and drain while still al dente.  You want a firmer pasta, so it doesn’t turn to mush as it bakes for 20 minutes.  Pour into a 13 x 9 inch baking dish.

Melt margarine in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk in flour and cook for a few minutes, until color begins to darken without burning.  Whisk in milk and cook, stirring constantly until mixture bubbles and thickens.  Add chunks of Velveeta and stir to melt.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Pour sauce over macaroni. If desired, top with buttered panko.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Recipe inspired by food.com

Baked Spaghetti Squash Casserole with Sweet Sausage, Peppers and Onion

10 Oct

Baked Spaghetti Squash Casserole with Sweet Sausage, Peppers and Onion-001

This was fantastic!  I love using bratwurst in my pasta dishes in place of ground beef.  It bursts with flavor and adds sweetness.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large spaghetti squash
  • 4 to 5 bratwurst, casings removed
  • 2 bell peppers, your choice of colors, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp each salt and black pepper
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Halve spaghetti squash and place cut side down on buttered baking sheet.  Bake for 40 minutes or until tender.  Cool to the point of being able to handle, remove and discard seeds then shred pulp gently with a fork so that strands resemble spaghetti noodles.  Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

While squash bakes, cook and crumble bratwurst in a skillet over medium heat.  Add peppers, onion and garlic and continue cooking until vegetables are crisp tender.

Add squash, tomatoes, basil, oregano, salt and pepper to skillet and heat through.  Remove from heat and drain excess liquid.  Mix in 3/4 cup Parmesan and transfer to a greased 9×13 or oval 2 quart casserole dish.  Bake uncovered for 30 minutes, topping with remaining Parmesan for the last five minutes of baking time.

Baked Spaghetti Squash Casserole with Sweet Sausage, Peppers and Onion b

Recipe and photo by me MyLittleFoodSpot.com

Creamy Mushroom Basil Spaghetti Squash Casserole

10 Oct

Creamy mushroom basil spaghetti squashWe have been receiving quite a few spaghetti squash from Derek’s Aunt Verna and Uncle Glen.  I am always looking for new recipes and have found a few winners this fall.  I like the creamy, toasty crunch that this one packs.

Ingredients:

  • 2 small to medium spaghetti squash
  • olive oil for sauteeing
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 8 oz. fresh, sliced mushrooms
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup seasoned panko bread crumbs
  • 3 T butter, melted

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Halve spaghetti squash and place cut side down on buttered baking sheet.  Bake for 40 minutes or until tender.  Cool to the point of being able to handle, remove and discard seeds, then shred pulp gently with a fork so that strands resemble spaghetti noodles.  Place strands in a greased casserole dish, discarding shell.  Do not turn off oven.

While squash is baking, heat oil over medium heat and saute onion, mushroom, and basil until vegetables are just tender.  Stir sour cream and onion mixture into squash.  Gently mix in the parmesan cheese.  Combine the panko and melted butter and top casserole evenly with buttered crumbs.

Bake uncovered for 15 minutes.  Serve hot, creamy, and toasty!

Recipe inspired by allrecipes.com.

Photo by me, MyLittleFoodSpot.com

Creamy Ham Casserole

17 Jan

creamy ham casserole 1

It’s certainly not low-fat (lots of “cream” ingredients), nor is it a true favorite of Derek’s or mine, but it’s pretty good and is great for serving to little ones.  It is an especially good beginning finger food for eight month old Henry, just learning to feed himself.

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces kluski noodles, cooked according to package directions
  • 2 cups chopped, cooked ham
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 1/4 cup sliced celery
  • 1 T vegetable oil
  • 10 oz. can cream of mushroom soup
  • 8 oz. sour cream
  • 1/2 cup (2 oz.) shredded colby jack cheese

Cook ham, pepper, onion and celery in oil in a large skillet over medium heat for five minutes, stirring often.  Remove from heat; stir in soup, sour cream, and cooked pasta.  Spoon into a lightly greased 1 1/2 quart casserole dish.

Cover and bake at 350 for 25 minutes.  Sprinkle with cheese and bake, uncovered for five more minutes.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

creamy ham casserole 2

Recipe by Southern Living: Easy Weeknight Favorites

Photos by me, My Little Food Spot

Grandma Kapke Casserole

10 Dec

Grandma Kapke Casserole 3

When I, my brother, or any of my cousins are visiting Grandma and she asks us what we want for supper, it’s always, “Grandma Kapke Casserole!”  Simple and tasty, but never quite as good as Grandma’s.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 3 russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 4-5 carrots, peeled, halved length-wise and cut into thirds
  • 1 bell pepper, julienned
  • 1 can tomato soup
  • salt and pepper to taste

Form beef into walnut-sized meatballs and place in the center of a dutch oven or deep casserole, sprinkle lightly with salt and generously with freshly ground pepper.

Grandma Kapke Casserole 1

Place potato pieces around beef and put the carrots and bell pepper on top and add additional salt and pepper.

Grandma Kapke Casserole 2

Pour tomato soup over all and rinse can to make a little more juice (maybe a third of the can of water).

Bake at 35o for an hour or so, until potatoes are done.  Grandma says Brad and Adam like it served with a side of corn.

Recipe by Grandma Kapke

Photos by me, My Little Food Spot

Cottage Pie

14 Nov

I’m not sure where this recipe came from but I know for a fact that the extra tablespoon of melted butter on top was MY idea.  It gets the potatoes to a nice golden, buttery brown.  You will want seconds.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound russet potatoes, peeled, cut in half
  • 6 T unsalted butter
  • 1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 T all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup canned beef gravy
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 medium carrot, sliced
  • 1 T Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp dried marjoram

Cook potatoes in large saucepan of boiling salted water until tender. Drain. Return potatoes to same saucepan. Add 3 tablespoons butter and mash. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and sauté until tender, about 7 minutes. Transfer mushrooms to bowl. Add beef, onion and garlic to same skillet and cook over medium-high heat until beef is brown, breaking up with spoon, about 8 minutes. Add flour and stir 2 minutes. Add mushrooms, gravy, parsley, carrot, Worcestershire and marjoram. Simmer 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Spoon beef mixture into 8-inch square baking dish. Spoon mashed potatoes over; smooth top and drizzle with remaining tablespoon of melted butter. Bake until potatoes are heated through and golden brown, about 25 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Photos by me, My Little Food Spot

Ground Turkey Mexican Lasagna

21 Sep

I served this to my husband and my mother and, upon asking them what they thought the ingredients were, they both began with “hamburger.”  The recipe called for ground chicken but I found ground turkey to be quite a bit less expensive and didn’t know if there would be much of a difference.  I still don’t know if there’s any difference, but the turkey was very good.  The texture was almost identical to ground beef and, with all the seasonings, the flavor was indistinguishable as well.  This makes a pretty big pan but I was okay with leftovers on this one.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 pounds ground turkey
  • 2 1/2-ish tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained
  • 1 cup medium heat taco sauce or 1 (14-oz) can stewed or fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • Salt
  • 8 (8 inch) spinach flour tortillas
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded Colby Jack cheese

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Preheat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil- twice around the pan. Add turkey and season with chili powder, cumin, and red onion. Brown the meat, 5 minutes. Add taco sauce or stewed or fire roasted tomatoes. Add black beans and corn. Heat the mixture through, 2 to 3 minutes then season with salt, to your taste.

Coat a shallow baking dish (I used a porcelain 9×13 pan) with remaining extra-virgin olive oil, about 1 tablespoon oil.

Cut the tortillas in half or quarters to make them easy to layer with. Build lasagna in layers of meat and beans, then tortillas, then cheese. Repeat: meat, tortilla, cheese again. Bake lasagna 12 to 15 minutes until cheese is brown and bubbly. Top with extra Taco Bell medium taco sauce (that stuff is da bomb).

Recipe inspired by Rachael Ray.

Photos by me, My Little Food Spot

Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole

6 Sep

I transferred this recipe from our old website, knorrbuzz.  It’s old school Knorr fare.  I introduced my grandmother to it and she makes it a couple of times a month and takes it to many family reunions, where it always seems to be a hit.  I enjoy all the flavors, as well as the different textures;  the chewiness of the wild rice and the crunch of the water chestnuts.  I very often make it without the wild rice, using just basmati.  It’s good that way but we prefer it with the wild rice; it provides a depth of flavor.  My grandma suffers from celiac disease so she makes hers compatible with a gluten free diet.  The only change needed is substituting a gluten-free creamed soup for the cream of celery.

Ingredients:

  • 28 oz can green beans, drained
  • 3 cups diced cooked chicken
  • 1 onion, diced and sauteed
  • 8 oz can chopped water chestnuts, drained
  • 4 oz jar pimientos
  • 10 3/4 oz can cream of celery soup
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 3/4 cup long-grain rice, uncooked
  • 1/4 cup wild rice, uncooked
  • 1 cup grated sharp Cheddar
  • pinch salt

Preparation:

Cook rices according to package directions.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix all ingredients together and pour into a greased 3-quart casserole dish.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until bubbly.

Recipe inspired by Paula Deen.

Photo by me, My Little Food Spot

Bean Calico

27 Aug

bean calico 01-001

This is a spin-off of a meal Derek enjoyed while growing up.  He asks for ground beef and baked beans on occasion and generally that’s exactly what he gets.  A skillet of burger and Bush’s beans.  A friend made this recipe for us after Henry’s birth and I enjoyed it much more than our version.  This is very slightly more complex but definitely glorified.

When I prepare it on a whim, I usually leave out the bacon, only because I don’t generally keep it on hand.  My only other variance is that I always prepare it with whatever beans I have in the pantry.  Even when I’m planning ahead, I’ve found that canned lima beans can be difficult to find.  Fortunately, it’s equally good with cannellini or great white northern beans.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound bacon, diced
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 can pork and beans
  • 15 oz. can kidney beans, drained
  • 15 oz. can lima beans, drained
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 T vinegar

Brown bacon, beef, and onion; drain.  Combine all ingredients.

Simmer on stove or bake in 350F oven for 40 minutes.

bean calico 02-001

Recipe from Erica Timperley

Pictures by me, MyLittleFoodSpot

Scalloped Potatoes (with Ham)

3 Nov

I have had some good and bad luck with these.  They always have great flavor but I recently changed the baking time because so often they would take an extra 40 minutes over what it called for.  Because this is such a great comfort food, it is one of my go-to’s when I am transporting a meal for a friend or shut-in, and when I’m on a schedule like that, the extra cooking time just doesn’t work.  My options: be late or serve chewy potatoes.  Believe me, nobody wants to crunch their way through scalloped potatoes, so my advice to you is slice the potatoes as thinly as possible and don’t rely solely on the baking time:  test them before removing from the oven.

One more note on preparation.  I have a habit of adding an extra clove or two of garlic over what the recipe calls for.  For some reason,the garlic can become very over-powering in this dish and I have found that one clove is just right.

This makes a great accompaniment to roasted meats but I usually add cooked, chopped ham and prepare this as a one dish main dish.

UPDATE: To cut down on the preparation time and eliminate the possibility of underdone potatoes, I have begun boiling the potatoes before adding them to the sauce.  It also allows for a one pot meal if I boil and bake them in the same pan.

Ingredients
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 T butter
  • 2 T all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 dash salt
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 3 medium potatoes or about 8-10 small red potatoes
  • chopped, cooked ham (optional)

Slice potatoes thinly and, in an oven-safe pot, boil them in salted water for ten minutes or less, until they are softened but still firm.  Remove them onto a plate. For sauce, in the same pan, cook onion and garlic in butter till tender but not brown. Stir in flour, pepper and salt. Add milk all at once. Cook and stir over medium heat till thickened and bubbly.

Gently stir in ham and potatoes to the pot.

Bake, covered, in a 350F oven for 40 minutes.  Uncover and bake about 10 minutes more. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Recipe and photo by me, My Little Food Spot