Easy, Breezy, Super, Duper Baked Spaghetti–You’re Gonna Need a Big Girl Plate

I cooked this awesomeness for my family last week.  They are asking for it again!  It is very tasty and very easy.  It would be a great potluck meal if you double the recipe.  The cream cheese makes this dish!  But let me add that you do NOT have to bake this.  You can stir about 1/2 cup of cheese into the sauce/cream cheese mixture, add the meat and serve over any type of pasta you like.  I also did this 2 nights ago!  It was just as good and a lot better for you than 2 cups of cheese layered in the bake.
Ingredients:
1/2 lb.  angel hair pasta, uncooked
1  lb.  ground beef OR ground chicken (I used ground chicken, and it was awesome!)
1/2 onion chopped
1/2 cup bell pepper chopped (I use red bells)
1-2 tbsp minced garlic (use 1 if you aren’t a big garlic fan, 2 if you love the stuff)
1 jar   (24 oz.) spaghetti sauce (any kind you like)
4oz.  (1/2 of 8-oz. pkg.) Cream Cheese, cubed (I used the low fat Neufchatel kind)
2 cups  Shredded 2% Cheddar Jack cheese (or whatever kind of shredded cheese you want to use–Be creative)
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350.  Cook the pasta according to package directions for al dente.  DO NOT OVERCOOK!  (ok, I’ll be honest here, I actually did not cook the pasta because I never read directions in a recipe.  But it turned out just fine…no crunchy pasta!)  Make sure you salt the water before adding the pasta, too.
  2. Brown ground meat with onions and bell peppers. (If you are using ground chicken, you will need to add a couple of tbsp of olive oil).   When the meat is almost done, add garlic and saute until the meat is thoroughly cooked.  Drain any fat.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Add spaghetti sauce and cream cheese.  Heat over medium heat until the cream cheese is melted through.
  3. Cover the bottom of a greased 13×9-inch baking dish with a little sauce. Add a layer of 1/2 pasta and 1/2 remaining sauce, then a little less than 1/2 of each cheese; repeat the layers, ending with the sauce.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 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.
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Easy Crab Stuffed Mushrooms

I made these little gems for my sweet hubby last Thursday night before we went out on our date night.  He fell in love and ate almost all of them.  I got one.  The thing is, they were SO easy to make!  I couldn’t believe it.  The most time consuming thing I did was wipe down the mushrooms!  I got this recipe from Paula Deen, but I did tweak it some.   The next time I make them, I will sprinkle the mushrooms with some Tony’s before I stuff them.   I also cooked them on a cooking rack set on a cookie sheet so they didn’t get soggy.  I had more filling that mushrooms and my honey just ate it with a spoon!  Great stuff!!

 Ingredients:

  • 1 can lump crabmeat (drained) or 1 cup fresh crabmeat if you can get it
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup green onions, chopped
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 4 tablespoons Parmesan
  • Tony Chachere’s seasoning
  • 2 portobello mushroom caps, or 10 large white mushrooms caps
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • Nonstick cooking spray

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375.

Combine the crabmeat, cream cheese, parsley, green onions and Parmesan. Season with Tony’s, to taste.  My hubby likes stuff spicy, so I also add a little cayenne directly to the mushroom caps.  Stuff mushroom caps with the mixture and top with bread crumbs. Spray them with nonstick spray to help them brown.  Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the filling is bubbly and melty!  Squirt with a little lemon juice and serve!  These won’t last long!

Southern Belle’s Savory Tomato Pie–Wear Your Stretchy Pants for This One!!

Someone gave me this recipe YEARS ago, and I have been making it occasionally since there.  I would make it daily, but then I would not fit through the door of my house.  Actually, I have cut some of the fat out of the original recipe, but it is still NOT figure friendly.   However, it is a BIG hit with everyone that has ever tried it except my little brother who will not eat mayonnaise.  (I know, we also think he might have been switched at birth.)

Ingredients:

5-6 Roma tomatoes

1 bunch green onions

1 1/2 cups mayo (I use low fat)

1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (I use 2% Mexican blend but you can use whatever kind you like.  Cheddar, Mozzarella, etc)

1/4 cup of shredded cheese (to top the pie with)

1 tbsp basil (I use dried because I usually cannot get fresh in the stores here)

Salt

Pepper

Pie crust (I used the kind from the dairy section)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450.  Precook the pie crust according to package directions.  I do not flute the edges because that is a lot of trouble for something that is generally gone in 15 minutes.  Plus, if you do not flute the edges, it just looks rustic.  (You CAN use a frozen pie crust if you like, but get the deep dish kind.)  Still have to cook it ahead of time.

Slice the roma tomatoes fairly thin.  Lay the tomato slices out on a couple of layers of paper towels.  Salt and pepper the slices.  The salt will draw out a lot of the water so the pie doesn’t get soggy!  Make sure they have about 10 minutes to sit on the paper towels.  Chop the green onions.

Stir together the mayo, cheese and basil.

When the pie crust is ready and has cooled just a bit, place a layer of the tomatoes on the bottom.  Top with about 1/3 of the green onions.  Next, place about 1/2 of the mayo-cheese mixture and spread it out over the tomatoes and onions.  It is perfectly okay if the onions start to mix with the mayo mixture.  Add another layer of tomatoes, more green onions and the remaining mayo mixture.  Arrange some more tomatoes and green onions and top them with the remaining shredded cheese.  I usually add a bit more fresh ground black pepper before I bake it.

Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes, slice and serve!
If you are serving more than 3 people, you better make 2 of these!!

Day AFTER Game Day Food—Baked Ro-Tel Dip Tacos

I am not sure how I came up with this.  I had ground beef that needed to be cooked.  I had leftover Ro-Tel dip.  I had tortillas and taco shells.  It just sort of happened, but it SURE was good!

Baked Ro-Tel Dip Tacos

1 lb lean ground beef

1 small onion, chopped

1 tbsp minced garlic

1 pkg taco seasoning

2/3 cup water

2-3 cups of White Queso Ro-Tel Dip (recipe below)

1 pkg flour tortillas (I used low-carb tortillas)

jalapenos (optional)

Preheat oven to 350.  Brown the ground beef with chopped onions until done.  Add garlic and saute another minute or two.  Drain any grease.  Add taco seasoning and water.  Simmer until it thickens up some.  Add about 1 1/2 cups of the cheese dip.

Place a good size spoonful in each tortilla.   Fold in one half, then the other.  (I used a dab of the sauce to make the taco stick together.)  Place in a baking pan lined with foil.  Continue until all tortillas are filled.  Top with the remaining cheese dip and jalapenos (optional).  Bake for about 15 minutes and serve!

Ro-Tel Dip Recipe:

1 lb white queso Velveeta cheese

2 cans Ro-Tel tomatoes with green chiles

8 oz pkg of cream cheese

1/4 cup butter

Cube the Velveeta up in a fairly large bowl.  Add cut up cream cheese and butter and microwave about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.  After the mixture begins to melt, add the tomatoes w/green chiles.  Microwave about 5 more minutes, stirring often.

Eat all you want, but save about 2-3 cups for the tacos!

Shopping for Dummies

I have recently watched some young ladies shopping and listened to them discuss their shopping habits.  I just sit back and shake my head thinking, “You silly girls, you will learn one day.”
I have come up with a set of “rules” to get the most out of a shopping trip and purchase the proper items.

  1. Never, ever take a male shopping with you unless he is doing all the buying.  Even then, I am not sure it’s worth it.  If  he knows how much you spent, then you can be sure that he will feel compelled to spend the same amount on something stupid like a deer stand, golf clubs or a hunting trip to one of the flyover states.
  2. If he bumps his head and offers to go with you, gently refuse the offer.  Tell him you need some alone time, or girl time, or that you want to buy something to surprise him (that will generally shut him up quick while putting him in a good mood.)
  3. When discussing a shopping trip with the man in your life, it is perfectly okay to tell him how much you saved as opposed to how much you spent.  While doing this, start taking things out and show them to him.  Each item with lots of details about how you will wear it, what it matches, etc.  He will quickly cease with the questions.
  4. Know when to shop for what.  Buy winter clothes during spring clearance, and buy summer clothes during the fall clearance.  You can get killer swimsuit deals in September, and great coats and sweaters in March.  I know it seems silly right now, but trust me…you will be able to double or even triple your buying power!  And with all the money you save, you can afford to get your roots done!
  5. If you have small children, hire a sitter.  A good shopping trip cannot occur with rugrats in tow.  And for the record, nothing much aggravates me more than dodging strollers every three feet when trying to do some serious shopping.
  6. There are only two things that you should EVER pay full price for:  purses and jeans.  Now, you can occasionally find the jeans you like on sale, but for the most part good jeans do not go on sale.  The same with quality handbags.  I have occasionally found a Dooney & Burke or Michale Kors handbag on clearance at Dillard’s, but you have to be a ninja to find these deals and scoop them up quick like a bunny.
  7. Always try it on.  This goes for everything except panties, socks and pajamas.  The only other thing that aggravates me while shopping is standing in line for 20 minutes behind someone who is returning items they should have tried on to begin with!
  8. Buy quality shoes.  Don’t get me wrong–I love some Payless or Target shoes, especially when buying them to go with one particular outfit.  Just trust me here, though.  Spending $100 on a pair of heels that you will keep for several years is much better than buying a pair of  cheap, uncomfortable heels that you will wear approximately 6 times before the heel falls off.  I have been a victim of losing a heel..you cannot look graceful under any circumstance when you lose a heel.
  9. I don’t care what Stacy and Clinton say, white shoes, belts and handbags should be put away after Labor Day, even in the South where it can be a sweltering 98 degrees on Thanksgiving Day.
  10. Bra straps are not cute.  Buy a strapless bra.  This needs no explanation.
  11. If you try something on and have more hanging out than in, hang it back up.  Subsequently, if your shorts or shirt leave nothing to the male imagination, then HANG IT BACK UP.  Wear some clothes for Heaven’s sake!
  12. Last but DEFINITELY not least:  SKINNY JEANS ARE NOT FOR EVERYONE.  I am sorry, but they aren’t.  Just because they make it in your size, does not mean you should wear it.

Hopefully these tips will help out some of the younger ladies.  And if you have additional tips to add, please feel free to comment!  Happy Shopping, Ladies!

Coffee

I love coffee.  I grew up drinking coffee.  I can remember being a very small child, and my Nana would fix me a cup of coffee with sugar and milk.  (I am sure it was more milk than coffee, but I thought I was grown!)  I don’t remember ever sitting at the table growing up when someone did not have a cup of coffee.  My Granny used to use a drip coffee pot that she would set on the stove.  And learning to make coffee in that drip pot was a something to look forward to when staying with her!  If there was a domino game going, there was coffee involved.  If we went out to dinner somewhere, someone was going to order coffee (no matter the meal.)  Granny would even wake up in the middle of the night and make a cup of coffee at her bedside, one-cup coffee pot.

My mother is a Folgers fanatic.  She swears she can tell the difference in Folgers and any other kind of coffee.  I am not so particular.  I just like coffee.  Actually, my parents blessed me with a Keurig coffee maker for Christmas this past year, and I have been a coffee drinking fool since then.  We have tried many different brews and flavors, but my favorite is the Donut Shoppe light roast–just a plain old cup o’ Joe.  No sweetener, just a little cream.  (Fat-free half & half nowadays.)

Now, this post probably makes NO sense to most of you, but for me, coffee is a reminder of my grandparents.  So every morning while drinking my coffee, it is a trip down memory lane.  Now, I know that we won’t need food or drink in heaven.  But I hope that there’ll be a little drip coffee pot sitting on the stove in Granny’s mansion where I can visit and drink coffee with her again.

Don’t Forget Your Raisin–At Least That’s What I Heard

Some of you have heard this before, but here goes for the rest of you!

When I graduated from West Monroe High School waaayyyy back in 1993, Johnny Huntsman (of Johnny’s pizza fame) delivered the commencement address.  (For my cousins in Alabama, that means he was the guest speaker).  Anyway, I sat on the back row during graduation because I was a “W” and we were a class of over 300 students.  At 18, my attention span was not much, and so I was fading in and out as Mr. Huntsman gave his speech.

I perked up, though, when I heard him say, “Don’t forget your raisin.”  I immediately thought, I don’t like raisins.  Why does he want me to eat raisins?  Through the rest of his speech and most of graduation, I contemplated this great piece of advice.  I thought maybe I should TRY raisins again.  I wondered if, perhaps, they had some mystic power in them.  Were they the key to success or longevity?  I wanted to get my dad’s take on this recommendation because he does not care for raisins either.  I was in a state of amazement about why he would give this speech about raisins.  I don’t remember seeing any raisin pizzas on his menu, so he should heed his own advice!

As I was finally about to cross the stage and receive my diploma in my navy cap and gown and red heels (yes, I was fabulously the only one in red heels), it occurred to me that he was not speaking of the little wrinkled fruits from California that used to sing and dance on TV.  He was telling us not to forget our RAISING.  I felt an immediate sense of relief that I was not going to have to eat any raisins.

Moral of the story:  Enunciation can change the WHOLE story!