Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Hamburger Noodle Casserole

Before I introduce you to tonight's dinner I have to tell you a story. Aren't you just too excited?!?! CarGuy likes going to storage auctions which sometimes results in a lot of junk that we end up having to get rid of. One such auction resulted in boxes upon boxes of war novels. That is definitely not my cup of tea so we sold a lot of them in a garage sale and donated the rest to Goodwill. However, in the middle of all these war novels is this older than dirt cookbook that gives you "365 Ways to Cook Hamburger" -- well...a quick look on the publication page let me know it's not as old as dirt but it's certainly older than me - published in 1958. The author was this guy who looks like a cross between a young Ronald Reagan and the Beaver's dad. His bio is hilarious and I quote, "Doyne Nickerson has been an actor, a hydroponic gardener, an advertising writer, a printer, and - during the depression - a young man who ate hamburger three times a day and leaned to prepare it in dozens of different ways." He goes on to say that his hobby is collecting hamburger recipes and that he cooks hamburger for his wife and young son. If you find you just have to have this treasure for your own library, head on over to Amazon; there are at least 36 used copies available for .01 each!! So now that I've written the longest recipe intro ever, on to the recipe:

You will need:
2 T Olive Oil (EVOO as Rachael Ray would say -- took me forever to understand what she was talking about but I'm kinda slow that way!)
1 pound Hamburger
1 1/2 cups sliced onions
1 crushed clove garlic (or 1/2 tsp of the pre-minced garlic in the jar like I use)
1 No. 2 1/2 can tomatoes (I have no idea what size that is so I used a 28 oz can of chopped tomatoes)
1 6 oz can tomato paste
1 6 oz can of water
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp paprika
1 T salt
2 bay leaves (I didn't use these since I didn't have any and it turned out fine)
1/2 tsp Tabasco
1/8 tsp thyme
1/8 tsp marjoram
8 oz uncooked pasta (I used a 12 oz package of whole wheate penne)

Brown your hamburger meat in the 2 T of EVOO breaking it into smallish pieces.
Add the rest of the ingredients except the pasta and then bring to a boil and remove from the heat.
Place 1/2 of the meat mixture in a 2 1/2 quart casserole dish.
Layer the uncooked pasta over the meat mixture.
Finish it off with the remaining meat mixture and pop it into a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes.
The official recipe says to sprinkle parmesan cheese on top when it's finished -- I just put the cheese out so the family could add it to their own if they wanted it.
The recipe says it serves 6 and I would say that is about how many servings you can get out of it unless you have a kid like SwimBoy living in your home and eating all your vittles. In that case figure on this feeding 4 with no left overs.

What I'd do differently next time:
I think I would use egg noodles instead of the penne. The penne didn't get as tender as I like and the noodles that were at the edges did not get soft at all. I think egg noodles would turn out better and I'd be sure and keep the noodles completely covered by the meat mixture. It also seemed a little dry so I think I'd also put in 2 cans of the water instead of one. Next time I'm going to chop the onions rather than slice them -- I like smaller pieces of onion. I think I'll also add a can of whole kernal corn to the mix too.

Weight Watchers Counts:
If you're on core and make it exactly as I did above and leave off the parmesan cheese, it is totally 100% core and I didn't even plan it that way! If you're on flex, you'll need to count 9 points without the parmesan cheese.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Greek Rubbed Pork Chops

I love using rubs and I have a bunch of recipes for those rubs. One of our favorites is the Greek rub. Here is your cast of characters:
1/2 T. salt
1 T. dried oregano
2 1/4 tsp. onion powder
2 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 1/2 tsp. beef bouillon granules
1 1/2 tsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg

Combine all ingredients together:
Rub on all sides of your favorite pork chops:
You can also use this rub on chicken, beef, lamb, and turkey. Our favorite use is on pork chops and then we grill them for 7 minutes on each side. You can also use this rub with meat that you bake, broil, or fry. But...it's like a million degrees in my house so that stove is not being turned on for all the money in the world!

Here's the finished product...believe me, the smell is amazing! Something about the unexpected cinnamon and nutmeg that put these chops over the edge!
I served these with a zucchini from our garden and a yellow squash from the local Krogers -- I took it outside first and showed it to my own little yellow squash plant to show him what he was capable of! I cut the squash into chucks and put them on some skewers. I sprinkled them with some Mrs. Dash before grilling them for 5 minutes on each side. Very tasty and simple!
We also served some corn that we grilled -- Kroger's had them 5 ears for $1.00. When I grill my corn I cut off all the hanging stuff (no fires please) soak them in water for a little bit before placing them husks, silk, and all on the grill. I grill them for 15 minutes and then flip and grill for another 10 minutes. I let them sit on the counter in their husks for about 5 minutes before I start to clean them. I've found the easiest way to clean them is to use latex gloves. It helps cut down the heat on my hands and the latex really grabs at the silks.
Those corn cob ends are the bomb -- they are from Pampered Chef and just screw in the ends as easy as pie. Enj0y making this great dinner for a hot summer evening!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Chocolate Trifle

My husbands aunt visited us last night so I pulled out all the stops and made several items for dinner last night. The first I'll be featuring is the Chocolate Trifle that I made for dessert because dessert should always take first place!! This is a really simple recipe and if you don't have a trifle bowl you can make it in any bowl you like.
2 1/2 cups cold milk (I used skim but you can use what you like)
1 container cool whip (I used fat free)
2 4-serving boxes of instant chocolate pudding (I used sugar free)
2 Heath bars (chopped up)
1 Angel Food Cake
Whisk together the milk and the pudding and let sit while you prepare the cake cubes.
Tear/cut/chop/whatever the angle food cake into approximately 1" pieces and place 1/2 of them in the bottom of the trifle bowl.
Sprinkle 1/2 your candy bar pieces over the cake. If you are making this during a warm day and you don't have a/c in your house, you might want to put the candy bars in the freezer for a little bit before you try chopping them up. I normally like to use smaller pieces of candy so you get some in every bite but I didn't have time to put them in the freezer so they didn't break up quite as easy.
By now your pudding should be pretty well set up -- if you were especially quick with the previous steps you might want to take a break and let your pudding set up. Once your pudding is set fold the cool whip into the chocolate pudding. Do this slowly so you can keep the mixture light and fluffy. I usually leave mine a little bit streaky rather than over doing it and squishing all the fluffy out -- that an official hoity-toity culinary phrase, feel free to use it at will.
Once you've finished folding spoon 1/2 of the pudding mixture on top of the cake. If you want to make your trifle have very careful layers, you will need to work with the cake cubes to make sure you don't have any openings before spooning the pudding mixture on. I was in a hurry to finish this so I didn't worry about that step. This completes your first layer. Do another layer exactly the same - cake, candy, pudding.
I use a standard size trifle bowl and it fills it all the way to the top. Cover and place in fridge for at least 2 hours.
Because I didn't take the time to make definite layers with my cake this is what the side of mine looked like. If you take your time, you can make it very pretty. But, trust me, it tastes amazing no matter how pretty it is or not.

When you are ready to serve spoon into bowls and top with a dollop of cool whip and some chocolate shavings. Kay has great instructions on her site to make your own. Secret Squirrel's wife gave me this fabulous collection of decorative shavings that I'm using so I didn't have to make any. (Sorry there's no picture of this part -- we were so excited to eat it that I totally forgot to grab my camera!)

If you are taking this to a potluck you can decorate the top to dress it up a little. Here's one I made for a family gathering a few months ago. I spent a little more time on this one and decorated it with some chocolate. You could also pipe some cool whip on top and garnish with some additional chopped candy bars too. I folded this particular one too much -- see how it doesn't reach the top of the trifle bowl?
WW Info:
Serves 12
3 pts per serving (without additional candy toppings)

Enjoy and remember to put dessert first!!

Monday, July 28, 2008

French Bread Pizza

I thought long and hard about what dish I should feature as my very first on this new quick and easy recipes blog. It just had to be one of my tried and true quick dinners. So without further ado here is how we make french bread pizzas. They are great for lunch or dinner when you just don't want to heat your kitchen up or create a mess of dishes. They don't look like much but you gotta try them! Chewy and gooey just like we like our pizza!! Mmmm...look at the pepperoni sliding off the side!!

Hoagie roll (we like the pre-split ones -- just makes life easier)
Jar pizza sauce (we use the Kroger store brand -- very tasty!)
Mozzarella cheese

Take one split hoagie roll and spread the pizza sauce on each side. Sprinkle 1/2 the cheese you will be using on top of the sauce. Then layer all your other toppings - we are pretty simple and like pepperoni only but sometimes we will also add black olives. After that sprinkle the other 1/2 of the cheese over the pepperoni - believe me, you'll be glad that you placed cheese on the bottom and the top. Pop in the microwave on high for 1:30 to 2:00 minutes. These are great for the kids to help put together. When SwimBoy was little he loved making these and then would boast all night that he made dinner.

We'll also have these when we have casual guests over and just make it a pizza bar with lots of different toppings laid out in bowls.

Calories: 385
Fat: 15
Fiber: 2
WW Points: 9

WW Recipe Tips:
You can lower your points by only making 1/2 a serving and pairing it with a big salad. I've done that when I'm low on points and it's just enough to satisfy my need for pizza. This is way better than wasting those points on a commercial pizza! You can also shave a couple points off by leaving the pepperoni off and piling up the free veggies!