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Archive for the ‘Meals’ Category

When your teenage son asks for “more of that spaghetti please,” you know the recipe card should be treasured like a baby blanket in a cedar trunk.

baked spaghetti

In my life, that means it goes on my blog for safekeeping, at least until the Internet craze ends.

baked spaghetti with tiny pepperoni

Baked spaghetti marinara with tiny pepperoni

1 pound ground sirloin or hamburger

1/4 cup finely diced white or yellow onion

1 teaspoon onion salt

2 cloves garlic, pressed OR 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

pepper to taste

2 eggs, beaten

1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1 pound spaghetti noodles

4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

2 (24 ounces each) jars marinara sauce

15-16 ounces tomato sauce

4 ounce package pepperoni minis

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cook ground sirloin in medium frying pan with diced onion, onion salt, garlic and pepper until no longer pink. Stir in 1 cup mini pepperoni.
  3. Boil spaghetti noodles until al dente. Reserve 1/4 cup pasta water. Drain.
  4. In a large bowl stir together eggs, Parmesan cheese and cooked spaghetti noodles.
  5. Spread thin layer of marinara in bottom of greased 13×9 pan. Top with noodle mixture.
  6. In a bowl, stir together pasta water, marinara and tomato sauce. Spread over noodles.
  7. Sprinkle cooked beef and pepperoni mixture onto sauce.
  8. Layer with mozzarella cheese and top with mini pepperoni.
  9. Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes. Uncover and bake until cheese is golden and pepperoni is crispy around the edges, 10-15 minutes.
  10. Remove from oven. Slice. Serve. Refrigerate leftovers.

Sweet keepsake wishes,

Staci

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She doesn’t like potatoes but Country Grandma is the queen of stirring up delicious gravy, and pretty much any other down-home Midwest comfort food served at a farmer’s table. When it came time to make gravy this Christmas, I had an abundant amount of reserved ham cooking juices but I didn’t have a recipe or a plan for making the gravy. Should I use flour or cornstarch? Broth or milk? My sister Heidi suggested I ask Country Grandma, the queen of gravy, to show me how she makes hers.

ham gravy v

Thankfully she obliged by stepping into the kitchen and showing us how to make ham gravy with milk and cornstarch. She eyeballed it so I’m hoping the mental notes I’m posting will be enough for me to remember how to make it next time.

ham gravy

Also known as Ma T, Country Grandma (Judy Thomssen) is grandma to my nephews—the T Boys. Before Grandpa Ron died, they farmed near Lake Benton and raised a son, Will, who is married to my sister Heidi. (Yes, that makes Judy Heidi’s mother-in-law and we love her company!) When the T Boys were little, Ron and Judy lived in the country and my mom lived in town so they nicknamed Judy Country Grandma. Can you imagine a farmer’s wife not liking potatoes? But my sister was right—Country Grandma is the queen of gravy and she is welcome in my kitchen anytime. I want her to come back and show me how to make her beloved meatballs, and the hamballs I just heard about.

The T Boys in 1998 (Trav, Garritt, Cody)

The T Boys in 1998 (Trav, Garritt, Cody)

Country Grandma’s ham gravy recipe – the eyeball method

Grab what you need:

equal parts whole milk and water

cornstarch (liquified to a paste with ice water so you don’t get cornstarch floaters in your gravy)

ham cooking juice to taste

pepper

Make the gravy:

In a large pot over medium-high heat, whisk milk and water to boiling. Pour in cornstarch and stir constantly until thickened. Add ham cooking juice to taste, starting with a smaller amount and adding from there. (It’s easy to add more but you can’t take it out if you add too much.)

Serve over mashed potatoes. Store leftovers in refrigerator and serve hot over fried leftover mashed potatoes or toast.

Salty swine wishes,

Staci

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It didn’t start out to be a Labor Day weekend in the kitchen but in the past 24 hours I’ve washed a lot of dishes.

It started with a text from my nephew Garritt. “How busy r u this weekend?” I proceeded to tell him that I’m around, working on a few things around the house and waiting to see if my daughter was coming home. He asked if he could put in a request for me to make something – pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. Well how do I say no to a sweet, innocent face like this?

(Disclosure, I Photoshopped a small injury off my forehead because I didn’t want to tell you that right when I was hosting the CBS Sunday morning crew for my real job, I cracked my head open a tiny bit with my car door. But now you know anyway. So, I Photoshopped the injury back on my forehead.)

Staci Garritt 2014

The two middle children in our family. T-R-O-U-B-L-E is our middle name.

Staci Garritt 2015

So, I baked Garritt’s favorite Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies.

pumpkin chip cookies

While I was at it and washing dishes anyway, I made the Caramel Apple Nut Bars that I had intended to make for my sister Kalli’s birthday last week. I delivered them today. Better late and sweet than never I guess.

Caramel Apple Nut Bars

I’ve been trying to thin out the shelves in my pantry a little so today seemed like the perfect day to bake a big old pot of Make-It-Your-Way Rainy Day Chili. (I should’ve made Beer Chili instead so I could also get rid of a bottle of beer).

rainy day chili

Of course I made from-a-pouch cornbread and added a few dollops of Lake Benton honey. And a bowl of French vanilla pudding with banana slices (because Jason likes it).

And a pie plate of Cherry Crunchobblerumble (because we both like it).

Cherry Crunchobblerumble | Random Sweetness Baking

Well, enough about all the dishes I washed this weekend. Tell me about all the fun you had!

Sweet wrinkly wishes,

Staci

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Skip those individual, itty-bitty bags of Doritos and buy the bag with enough packaging air to inflate a bike tire. Here’s another ex-in-law recipe—it’s like hockey rink concession stand season in a casserole, minus the hockey stink drifting down the hallway!

The only changes I’ve made to this dish over the years is adding onion to the ground beef, a layer of taco sauce or salsa to juice it up a bit, and a smidge more sour cream and cottage cheese.

taco in a bag casserole

Here’s two more family favorite, ex-in-law recipes that lasted longer than my marriage: broccoli ranch salad and homemade Snickers bars.

Walking taco casserole (AKA Mexican hot dish from my ex-in-law Sue)

(Serves 8. You can easily cut this recipe in half.)

Medium or family size bag of nacho cheese flavored chips

2 pounds ground beef or sirloin

1/4 cup diced onion

2 packages taco seasoning

1 (16 ounce) sour cream

1 (24 ounce) cottage cheese

1 cup salsa or taco sauce

2 cups grated cheddar cheese

Toppings of choice like shredded lettuce, black olives, sour cream, shredded cheese, taco sauce, tomatoes, etc.

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Butter a 13×9 pan or similar size casserole dish.
  3. Brown hamburger with diced onion until cooked thoroughly. Add taco seasoning and cook according to package directions.
  4. In a bowl, combine sour cream and cottage cheese.
  5. Crush a few handfuls of nacho cheese chips into the bottom of the casserole dish. Layer crushed chips, 1/2 the meat mixture, 1/2 the salsa or taco sauce, 1/2 the sour cream mixture, and 1/2 the grated cheese into the buttered dish. Repeat layers and top with more crushed chips.
  6. Bake uncovered at 350° for 30-35 minutes.
  7. Garnish each serving with toppings of choice.
  8. Refrigerate leftovers.

This reminds me of a joke my kids (DO NOT) love when I tell: “What do you call cheese that’s not yours? Nach-o cheese!”

Cheesy wishes,

Staci

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How many times have you done this? You make a dish without a recipe and it turns out to be something you can’t wait to make again. The problem is, the next time you want to make it you can’t remember how you made it or where you wrote it down. Hoping I’ve learned my lesson, publishing this recipe means we can always make piping hot cheesy scalloped potatoes with hamburger.

Cheesy scalloped potatoes and hamburger

I hadn’t lost the recipe for this fresh potato dish. But I lost my recipe for scalloped potatoes and ham and haven’t been able to find it for almost two years. Not only did I want to find it again but my (someday) mother-in-law asked me for it. Lo and behold I accidentally found it on Sunday, on my blog, in a draft page. So I adapted it to make a smaller meal with hamburger since I didn’t have any ham. It’s basically the cheesy potatoes and ham recipe halved but without the onion and garlic, although they would be fantastic in here too. (Marie, I can finally give you the recipe!)

That wasn’t the only recipe I’ve written down and wound up in a desperate hunt for—somewhere hiding in my house is a jotted-down recipe for s’mores cookies that I want to find before we take a trip to the lake next week. Who knows what other random Post-It note recipes I’ll find in my search. Wish me luck because from what I remember, you’ll want the recipe too.

Cheesy scalloped potatoes and hamburger

4 large or 5 medium Russet or Gold potatoes, thinly sliced

1 pound ground sirloin or ground beef

1/2 teaspoon onion salt

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 cup butter

4 cups milk

1/4 cup flour

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

salt & pepper to taste

2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese, or your cheese of choice

  1. Fry the hamburger in a large pan with onion salt and garlic powder until cooked thoroughly. (Fry with onion and garlic if desired.) Drain if needed and set aside in a separate bowl.
  2. In the same pan over medium-high heat, add the butter, milk, flour, nutmeg, and salt and pepper. Whisk until thickened, about 10 minutes. It will be more like a bean soup consistency.
  3. Grease a 9×13 pan with spray or butter.
  4. Spread half of the potatoes in the bottom of the pan. Top with half of the hamburger. Pour half of the milk mixture over the hamburger and top with half of the cheese. Repeat the layers.
  5. Cover with foil and bake at 375° for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 30 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender, the entire pan is bubbling, and the cheese begins to brown. Refrigerate any leftovers and warm in a frying pan the next day.

Cheesy wishes,

Staci

 

 

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A personal chef. I don’t have one but if I did, I’d eat healthy meals 19 out of 21 in a week. The other two would consist of Twin Bing candy bars, pepperoni and green olive pizza, Caribou Campfire Mochas, Potato Olés with nacho cheese, fettuccine Alfredo, crusty bread slathered with butter, and a towering stack of bacon.

chicken chickpea cilantro salad_1649

My lame excuse for not eating healthy, other than not having a personal chef, is that it seems it takes extra time to plan and prepare healthy meals. But lately my sister Kalli has been influencing me to embrace smarter health habits so I’m experimenting ways to get my salt and savory fix without dipping seasoned fried potato rounds in nacho cheese sauce containing 12,032 (give or take a few) calories per one-ounce Solo cup.

My sister Kalli developed a chicken chickpea cilantro salad based on a deli dish from Pomegranate Market in Sioux Falls. You only need 26 minutes, rotisserie chicken, one can of chickpeas, a bunch of cilantro, red onion, your favorite low-carb low-sugar oil & vinaigrette dressing, lettuce, and low-carb tortillas.  

We’d still rather eat King Bings and drink a bottle of Stella Rosa and a six-pack of Angry Orchard. (A bunch of grapes and six apples a day, right?)

King Bings

Here’s where the 26 minutes comes in. I live five miles from the nearest store so it would take me almost as much time to drive to town, buy a King Bing, and zip back home as it would for me to make chicken chickpea cilantro salad. I timed myself, lallygaggingly preparing the salad, and it only took 26 minutes from the time I took the rotisserie chicken out of the fridge to the time I rolled my first tortilla.

bike on wind tower road

My sister has also inspired me to incorporate more active minutes in my day. Maybe if I ride my bike to town and back I’ll deserve a King Bing?

chicken chickpea cilantro salad

Wrap it, spread it, or roll it – this salad is good on crackers, rolled up in lettuce, stuffed into a tortilla, or just by the spoonful. What are some foods that make healthy eating choices easy for you?

Chicken chickpea cilantro salad

The following are the measurements from my sister. I used an entire rotisserie chicken breast so I added extra onion, cilantro, and dressing. The way I did it, it made approximately four cups of salad.

4 ounces rotisserie chicken, shredded

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

2 teaspoons cilantro, chopped

1/4 cup red onion, finely diced

3 tablespoons olive oil & balsamic vinaigrette dressing or marinade (low-carb, low sugar)

low carb, low sugar tortilla wraps (We love Tumaro’s Low-in-carb Let’s Skip The Sandwich tortillas)

lettuce (optional)

Mix together the chicken, chickpeas, cilantro, red onion, and dressing. Roll onto tortillas or lettuce or spread on crackers. Store in refrigerator.

 

Healthy wishes,

Staci

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Think about the towns you’ve lived in.

Whether it was a favorite dish at a restaurant, a donut worth dragging your hung-over ass into the bakery at seven o’clock in the morning, or crunchy produce and warm bread at a local farmer’s market where the parking lot is as muddy as your grandpa’s farm in April, you’re bound to have dreamy food memories from places you’ve called home – memories that pull at your car’s heartstrings until you find yourself in the parking lot when passing through town.

If you grew up in Brookings, S.D. you’ll find yourself driving up and down Main Avenue in search of a parking spot in front of Nick’s Hamburgers at noon and down a few blocks at Pizza King in the evening. And if the Purple Cow, Donut Barn, Julienne’s Bakery, or Arctic Circle were still there you’d need three days and an extra hole in your belt.

sweet burger

This winter I took a drive to Fairmont, Minn. and as I drove there I recalled that when I lived in Truman, we used to get the best burgers from this place by the lake [in Fairmont]. So I decided to stop for a sweet burger at the Channel Inn on the north edge of Hall Lake.

Channel Inn Fairmont MN

I easily mimicked the green olives and Swiss cheese burger at home (pictured above), but nothing beats the real deal from that little lakeside bar—maybe it’s the buttery grilled bun or the drippy, tender burger in-between, it could be the five-inch pile of olives or the snappy pickles, but I think what makes the burger even better is its sidekick of tater tots with a rich cheese sauce so thick it doesn’t drip.

sweet burger Channel Inn Fairmont

I must be a sucker for tater tots and cheese sauce because when I think about another place I used to live, Avoca, Minn., we often ate at the Hub Drive-in and that was my usual order there too. What food memories do you have from places you have lived? Do you try to replicate it at home?

Sweet food memories,

Staci

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