Pasta is from God. It can’t be bad, I refuse to believe it. Dinner the other night for us was Spaghetti Carbonara. Delish! I clipped the recipe from a magazine a few years ago, but found a link to it online: Spaghetti Carbonara
12 ounces spaghetti
6 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 4 ounces), plus more for topping
Freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook as the label directs. Reserve 1/4 cup cooking water, then drain the pasta.
Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 8 minutes. Add the spaghetti and reserved pasta cooking water to the skillet and toss to combine.
Add the eggs, Parmesan, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper; toss to coat. Cook, tossing continuously to avoid scrambling the eggs, until the sauce is creamy, about 1 minute. Stir in the parsley. Serve topped with more Parmesan.
Sandwiches represent a certain failing for me. Whenever I can’t get a home cooked dinner on the table, I rely on this old staple to sustain my hungry people. It’s a default if my kids won’t eat what I’ve made (yep, I’m one of those parents who don’t MAKE the kids eat what I fix.) But I’ve learned that sometimes, when you make a sandwich, there is a certain comfort in being able to take your plate and eat in front of the TV while watching Seinfeld re-runs. Here are some of my favorites:
Perfect for an easy summer dinner, especially with fresh homegrown tomatoes
3 slices toasted bread
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 slices American cheese
4 slices shaved ham
4 tomatoes, sliced, divided
4 leaves lettuce, divided
4 slices crisp bacon, divided
2 slices Monterey jack cheese
4 slices shaved deli turkey
Spread mayonnaise on one side of a piece of toast; add layer of American cheese, ham, two slices of tomato, two leaves of lettuce, and two pieces of bacon.
Spread mayonnaise on second piece of toast and place on top, mayo side down.
Spread mayonnaise on top of that second piece of toast.
Layer Monterey Jack cheese, the rest of the tomatoes, lettuce, turkey and bacon on top.
Spread mayonnaise on third piece of toast and place on the stack mayo side down.
Slice the sandwich in quarters diagonally.
Skewers or long toothpicks may be used to hold all the layers together.
Grilled Chick N Wrappers
A wrap is a kind of sandwich, right? I made this one for the family last night and it was a spot hitter. You know, it hit the spot? OK, so it comes together easily, and even though the word “grilled” is in the title, you just cook up the chicken in a skillet. I suppose actually grilling it could only improve its flavor.
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 sweet onion
8 ounces Monterrey jack and cheddar cheese blend
6 slices hickory smoked bacon
16 ounces shredded Lettuce
ranch salad dressing
6 (10 inch) flour tortillas
In a skillet heat olive oil on medium.
Cut the chicken thighs into strips and add to skillet.
In a separate skillet, fry the bacon.
While they are cooking, slice the onion, cucumber and set aside.
When chicken is done and the bacon is done, remove from skillet and set aside.
Assembly time. Heat the tortilla in microwave for 15 seconds.
To the tortillas, add the ranch, lettuce, cucumbers, onion, bacon, cheese, and then chicken and squeeze a little lime juice over and wrap like a burrito.
Pressed Chicken Tortas
I got this recipe when I was using Blue Apron. They have some really great recipes, probably the best service I’ve found. This one seems long, but it’s just because they over-explain all steps 🙂 Give it a go. Delicious sammy!
Wash and dry the fresh produce. Halve the rolls. Core, halve and thinly slice the tomato. Crumble the queso fresco. Pick the cilantro leaves off the stems; discard the stems. Cut off and discard the root end of the lettuce; roughly chop the leaves. Quarter the limes. Halve, pit, peel and thinly slice the avocado; top with the juice of 2 lime wedges to prevent browning. Peel and halve the onion; small dice 1 half and thinly slice the remaining half. In a medium bowl, combine the diced onion and thejuice of 4 lime wedges.
Pat the chicken dry with paper towels; season on both sides with salt, pepper and (reserving a pinch) as much of the spice blend as you’d like, depending on how spicy you’d like the dish to be. In a large pan (nonstick, if you have one), heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the seasoned chicken. Cook 4 to 6 minutes per side, or until browned and cooked through. Transfer to a cutting board to cool slightly. Wipe out the pan.
While the chicken cooks, add the sour cream and remaining spice blend to the diced onion-lime juice mixture. Stir to thoroughly combine; season with salt and pepper to taste.
When cool enough to handle, thinly slice the cooked chicken. Place the bottoms of the rolls, cut sides up, on a clean, dry work surface. Divide the sliced chicken, avocado, as much of the sliced onion as you’d like (you may have extra), the tomato, half the queso fresco and the cilantro between the roll bottoms; season with salt and pepper. Top with the juice of the remaining lime wedges and the roll tops.
In the pan used to cook the chicken, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium until hot. Working in 2 batches, add the tortas. Place a heavy pot on top of the tortas to press them down. Cook, occasionally pressing down on the pot, 3 to 4 minutes per side, or until lightly browned and slightly flattened. Transfer to a cutting board or plate.
While the tortas toast, in a large bowl, combine the lettuce, pepitas,remaining queso fresco and as much of the dressing as you’d like (you may have extra dressing). Toss to combine; season with salt and pepper to taste. Cut each toasted torta in half diagonally; divide between 4 plates. Serve with the salad on the side. Enjoy!
Another favorite is LEMONY CUCUMBER CREAM CHEESE SANDWICHES. I made these for a Broker luncheon at a home I had listed in Lincolnton during the summer and they were cool, refreshing and tasted of summer. The original recipe is from Chew Out Loud.
DIAN’S CHICKEN SALAD
PREP TIME: 1 hr 15 mins
TOTAL TIME: 1 hr 30 mins
YIELD: 4 cups
4 chicken breast halves, bone in
8 ounces green olives, chopped
1 cup mayonnaise
Skin chicken, put in pan, cover with foil. Bake at 375 for 75 minutes. Cool, pull from bones and chop finely. Add mayo and chopped olives.
*Depending on how big your chicken breasts are, you may want more mayo and olives. Make it to your favorite consistency.
Sometimes I like fancy, and sometimes I like comfort. Last night I was in the mood for sandwiches, but my husband wanted meatloaf. Ugh. No one else in the house likes it, but he pulled the “I’ve been working all day” card, so I acquiesced. Turns out this meatloaf was pretty darn good, even though I made it under duress.
Here’s the Comfort Food Night Menu:
Darn Good Mashed Potatoes
The Lady’s Macaroni and Cheese
Marie Callender’s Cornbread
The Very Best Glazed Meatloaf
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon marjoram
1/2 teaspoon thyme
salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 lb chuck (ground beef)
1/2 lb veal (optional. Use half pork and beef if you can’t find ground veal or don’t buy veal)
1/2 lb ground pork
1 1/2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a skillet over moderate heat, add the oil. Heat the oil until hot, but not smoking. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Set aside and let cool.
In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, mustard, and hot sauce together. Add marjoram, thyme, salt, and pepper.In a large mixing bowl, combine the meats, egg-milk mixture, bread crumbs, parsley, and the cooked onion mixture.
In a small bowl stir together ketchup, sugar, and vinegar. Set aside.
Form 1 tablespoon of the meat mixture into a small patty, add it to a small oiled skillet, and cook until no longer pink. Taste for seasoning and adjust.
Transfer meat mixture to an oiled loaf pan.*.
*NOTE: The best way to make the meatloaf is to use a baking sheet, lined with foil. Place a cooling rack on top. Cut a piece of foil to be larger than a the loaf– and shape the meat into a loaf. Using a metal skewer, poke holes along the foil — usually every other hole.
Place the shaped loaf on top of the foil. I prefer this method, as the loaf is less likely to “steam” in a loaf pan. You can also glaze all around the meatloaf, which is even better!
Brush meat with ketchup glaze.Bake in oven for about 45 minutes, until glaze has set.
Brush meat loaf with remaining glaze and bake for 15 minutes more; glaze again.
My oven takes 1 hour and 15 minutes to reach the desired doneness. Times do vary, so allow for that!
Internal temperature of loaf should be 160 degrees F.
Darn Good Mashed Potatoes
5 lbs baking potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup heavy cream
Place the potatoes in a large Dutch oven, cover with water and add the garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Bring the potatoes to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium and cook until tender, (15-20 minutes). Drain well.
Place the drained potatoes in a large bowl, add butter and whip the potatoes with an electric mixer until there are no lumps. Pour in the cream and continue whipping until the potatoes are fluffy.
The Lady’s Macaroni and Cheese
4 cups elbow macaroni, cooked & drained
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup sour cream
4 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Once you have the macaroni cooked and drained, place in a large bowl and while still hot and add the cheddar.
In a separate bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and add to the macaroni mixture.
Pour macaroni mixture into a casserole dish and bake for 30 to 45 minutes.
Top with additional cheese if desired, and bake a few minutes more until cheese is melted.
Marie Callender’s Cornbread
2 cups Bisquick baking mix
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup real butter, melted
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Grease an 8×8″ pan on bottom and sides; set to the side.
In a medium bowl, whisk eggs until well blended.
Add sugar, milk, melted butter and whisk thoroughly.
Add Bisquick and cornmeal to egg mixture, and mix just enough to completely moisten dry ingredients and leave no lumps.
Do not overmix.
Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out dry and top is firm to touch.
Doubles easily into 9×13″ pan; adjust baking time accordingly.
This recipe is dedicated to my precious grandfather, Newt Strength. He loved pork more than anyone I know, except for maybe my father. He came to visit me once in North Carolina before he passed away and I made him this pork loin. He loved it. It’s one of the last things I was able to do for him. I love and miss you, Newk!
Garlic Rosemary Roasted Pork Loin
2 lbs boneless pork loin roast
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
salt and pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup white wine
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Crush garlic with rosemary, salt and pepper, making a paste.
Pierce meat with a sharp knife in several places and press the garlic paste into the openings.
Rub the meat with the remaining garlic mixture and olive oil.
Place pork loin into oven for 2 hours, turning and basting with pan liquids.6
After 2 hours remove pork roast to a platter.
Heat the wine in the pan and stir to loosen browned bits of food on the bottom.
Back in the day, you used to get recipe cards with your bank statements! At least at the little bank we used in our town of Crestview, Florida. First Bank of Crestview still sends them out to this day! Most of us get our statements online to save a tree, I guess, but lucky for me, my mom-in-law gets them in the mail and still saves the recipes for me! This recipe is from one of these old timey cards.
Now, I’m going to give it to you like it was written. But. I am making a couple of changes next time I make it. My people loved it just this way, but I like my chicken a little more tender. So, next time I’ll either sear it in a pan first or just bake it a bit longer, maybe an hour and half. I’m crazy like that.
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
4 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
3 ounces cream cheese, cut in 4 pieces
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 (10 3/4 ounce) can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pound chicken breasts until flat. Sprinkle each breast with 1 teaspoons parsley flakes and garlic powder. Add one slice cream cheese and roll up chicken, securing with toothpicks. Place breasts in a greased 13×9″ glass baking pan. Combine remaining ingredients until smooth and pour over chicken. Bake at 325 for one hour. Serve over rice or egg noodles.
My people love some Mexican food. And this specific recipe is very special to me because a long ago friend from Osceola, Arkansas brought it to a church potluck once and I asked for the recipe. She wrote it out by hand, and photocopied it since there were so many of us who wanted it. I found it tucked away in my files the other day and my brain just flooded with memories of that sweet family!
Three Cheese Enchiladas
1 1/2 cups shredded monterey jack cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 (3 ounce) package softened cream cheese
1 cup Pace Picante Sauce
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup green onion, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
8 (7 -8 inch) flour tortillas
Combine 1 cup each of jack and cheddar, and the cream cheese, 1/4 cup picante, peppers, onion, and seasonings; mix well.
Spoon 1/4 cup mix down the middle of each tortilla.
Roll and place seam side down in 13×9-inch baking dish.
Spoon remaining sauce over top. Cover with remaining mixed cheese.
Bake at 350° for 20 minutes.
Top with lettuce and tomato and serve with additional picante sauce.
These easy pork chops are delicious with this sauce. Next time I make it, I’m skipping the racks and just letting them lay around in the sauce to soak it up. Otherwise, it doesn’t pick up as much flavor as it could. Hope you like it!
Broiled Pork Chops
3/4 cup ketchup
3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon pepper
6 pork chops
In a saucepan, combine the first nine ingredients; bring to a boil.
Reduce heat; simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Set aside half of the sauce.
Place chops on broiling pan rack.
Broil about 4 inches from the heat for 4 minutes on each side.
Brush with remaining sauce.
Continue broiling, turning and basting occasionally, for 3-4 minutes or until juices run clear.
Paula Deen is such a great ambassador for the South. But. She lays on that accent a little too thick sometimes and God help me with the cackling. No matter. If she says a recipe is good, you can take it to the bank.
This spaghetti is her recipe, and one of the most popular ones I’ve ever shared on Food.com. Tons of reviews. It is really juicy and you will be tempted to increase the pasta, but don’t do it! It makes it too dry, upsets the balance of goodness or something. Trust me, the best way to make this dish is just to do it exactly as Paula says. If you want to take a short cut by using jarred marinara, I understand the inclination; but you are shortchanging yourself. Delish with a salad and hunk of french bread. If you’re real naughty, splurge on that fancy Irish butter in your fancy grocery store and slather it on the bread. Heaven.
Baked Spaghetti by Paula Deen
2 cups canned diced tomatoes
2 cups tomato sauce
1 cup water
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced green bell pepper
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons italian seasoning
1 1/2 teaspoons seasoning salt
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
2 small bay leaves
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
8 ounces uncooked angel hair pasta
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 cup grated monterey jack cheese
House Seasoning (use 1 1/2 tsp)
1 cup salt
1/4 cup black pepper
1/4 cup garlic powder
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a stockpot, combine the tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, onions, peppers, garlic, parsley, seasoning mixtures, sugar, and bay leaves.
Bring to a boil over high heat, and then reduce the heat and let simmer, covered, for 1 hour.
Crumble the ground beef in a large skillet.
Cook over medium-high heat until fully cooked, with no pink color remaining.
Drain the fat from the meat, and then add the ground beef to the stockpot.
Simmer for 20 more minutes.
Cook the pasta according to the package directions.
Cover the bottom of a 13 by 9 by 2-inch pan with sauce.
Add a layer of pasta and then a little less than 1/2 of each cheese; repeat the layers, ending with the sauce.
Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
Top the casserole with the remaining cheese, return it to the oven, and continue to cook until the cheese is melted and bubbly, about 5 more minutes.
Cut into squares before serving.
House Seasoning: Mix ingredients together and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.