Hamburger Casserole

This recipe is definitely one of the more kid-friendly dishes I have.  Who doesn’t love hamburger meat and cheese?  It’s very easy to prepare and a great recipe to double and freeze so you can pull out dinner in a pinch.  This is also a great meal to take to someone with a new baby, as most guys love it and leftovers re-heat really well.

In the pictures below, I did double the recipe to make one for my dad, but the recipe below is the original for just one casserole.  I also included a pic of the recipe in my mom’s handwriting.  Makes me smile. 

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 cups canned tomatoes ( 1 14.5 oz can is fine)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 finely chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 tbsp ketchup
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • salt
  • 1 can 98% fat-free cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/2 package of shell pasta
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350.  In a heavy large skillet, brown ground beef; drain meat well and add back to pan.  Add onion, pepper, tomatoes, ketchup and Worcestershire sauce and salt to taste and simmer for 30 minutes.

While the meat simmers, cook pasta according to package directions.  Once the pasta is well-drained, add to the meat mixture and mix well.  If your skillet isn’t big enough, go ahead and move everything to a large baking dish to mix up.  If you were able to mix the pasta in the skillet, move the entire mixture to a large baking dish now.

Add the cream of mushroom soup and mix well, stirring up from the bottom.  Top with cheddar cheese and bake for 30 minutes.  Serve with green beans or a green salad.  Enjoy!


Easy Weeknight Fajitas

Mexican is a go-to weeknight meal for us, but I like to change it up from the same ole taco salad every now and then.  Bring on the fajitas!  They are so easy, inexpensive and fairly healthy too.  Can’t beat that!


Weeknight Fajitas

  • 10″ or 12″ tortillas
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • skinless boneless chicken, cut into strips*
  • green bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips
  • red bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips
  • yellow onion, sliced into rings and then strips
  •  1 pkg taco seasoning
  • cheese, taco sauce, sour cream to garnish (optional)

*many grocers package chicken already cut into strips ideal for fajitas or stir-fry, so look for those to save time.  Chicken cutlets also work well for this dish.

In a skillet, heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat.  In a mixing bowl, mix up the peppers and onion with about 1/2 pkg of taco seasoning.  Add peppers and onion to pan and stir-fry until charred and soft, about 15-20 minutes, stirring and shaking often.  Reduce heat if needed.

While the vegetables cook, heat another skillet with the remaining olive oil at medium heat.  Season the chicken with the rest of the taco seasoning and cook over medium heat for 8-10 minutes, or until done.

While the chicken and veggies cook, heat the tortillas in the microwave.  Pile high with chicken and veggies, cheese, sour cream and taco sauce (fresh cilantro and guacamole are also great additions).

I serve these with a side of seasoned black beans, but you can also serve Mexican rice.  Oh, and a Corona, of course!



Smoked Paprika Pork Tenderloin with Succotash

Only two weeks to go in this long pregnancy journey.  One of the side effects I didn’t see coming was not really being into food very much…at least not new, interesting, untested food!  Most of what poor Frank has been eating over the last nine months have been the same comfort foods over and over again…hence, not much new blog material.

However, in celebration of reaching 37 weeks, I branched out last night and tried a new recipe that sounded good (for once) that I found in March’s Clean Eating magazine.  If you haven’t heard of this magazine, check it out.  A lot of the recipes are vegetarian, which doesn’t fly for Frank, but every now and then I find something we both really like.  This recipe was definitely one of them and when the veggies are fresh this summer, I bet it’s even better.  Definitely a do-over and super-easy.  Was ready in under 30 minutes (the magazine claims it only take 15 minutes, but I had to chop everything first).

 Paprika Pork Tenderloin with Succotash (adapted from Clean Eating, March 2011)

  • 1 pork tenderloin, trimmed of fat and sliced into about 12 medallions
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup frozen lima beans, thawed and drained
  • 1 cup of white corn niblets
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

In a mixing bowl, use a whisk to blend together the rub for the pork tender (olive oil, paprika, cumin, S&P) and then toss the meat with the rub, coating well.  Seat bowl aside.

In a large skillet, heat 1 tsp olive oil to medium heat.  Saute the red pepper and onion for 3 minutes or until onion is translucent.  Add corn and lima beans, sauteing another 3 minutes or until heated through.  Pour mixture into another mixing bowl, toss with healthy dash of S&P to taste and cilantro (optional) and set aside, keeping warm.

Wipe out pan and heat last tsp of olive oil to medium heat.  Add pork medallions and cook about 3 minutes on both sides or until done.

To serve, spoon succotash onto plate and then place 2-3 pork medallions on top.  Can also spoon a little of the pan juices over the pork if desired.  Serve with a side salad and crunchy roll. 

Will be PERFECT for summer!

Winter Weekend Brunch

This is going to be a three-for-one post, been meaning to do it for a while.  We’re doing sausage and cheese grits, winter fruit salad and something my mother aptly calls “breakfast casserole”.  I actually made this brunch on Christmas Eve, which is becoming a fun tradition for Frank and me to do that morning.  We build a fire, turn on music and cook.  It’s great, I highly recommend it as the way to start the day with your family.  Any day, really.

 There is a lot of food here; both casseroles are meals in and of themselves, but we were splurging at Christmas time.  And, don’t think fruit salad is just for summer, there are plenty of delicious citrus available in winter!

Each one of these dishes is very simple, takes less than 30 minutes.  They also save and re-heat really well — every now and then, I’ll make one on Sunday night and we’ll eat on it for breakfast during the workweek. 

#1 Sausage and Cheese Grits*

  • 1 lb hot breakfast sausage
  • 1 cup of quick grist
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/8 teapsoon cayenne pepper
  • Paprika

Preheat oven to 375.  While oven heats, fry up breakfast sausage into crumbles and drain meat.  Cook grits according to box instructions.  BEGINNERS TIP:  make sure to use quick grits, NOT instant grits or original, long-cooking grits.  Quick Grits take about 5 minutes to do on the stove, but not instant grits.  Once grits are cooked, add 1 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese.  Add eggs and pepper, mixing well.  Layer cooked sausage crumbles into the bottom of a greased shallow 1 1/2 quart casserole dish.  Pour grits mixture on top of the sausage.  Sprinkle with paprika.  Bake for 20 minutes. 

*You can absolutely do these grits without the sausage, just making cheese grits.  Frank just won’t let me.

#2 Breakfast Casserole

  • 1 roll of crescent dinner rolls (Pillsbury)
  • 1 lb breakfast sausage
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/4 milk
  • 1 cup of shredded cheddar
  • 1 cup of shredded mozzarella
  • oregano
  • S&P

Preheat oven to 350.  Fry sausage into crumbles and drain.  In a 13 x 9 casserole dish, lay out the crescent dinner rolls to make a crust, pinching edges as need be to cover the bottom of the dish.  Layer the sausage evenly on top of the crust.  Sprinkle both cheeses evenly on top of the sausage.  In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, oregano (I use about a tablespoon), the milk and S&P to taste together.  Pour the egg mixture evenly over the casserole.  Bake for 30 minutes.

#3 Winter Fruit Salad

  • chopped  apple
  • chopped grapes
  • chopped banana
  • chopped grapefruit
  • chopped oranges
  • blueberries
  • few springs of chopped mint

Mix fruit and mint together; serve immediately.

Sweet Potato Casserole

 Our supper club had a pot luck Thanksgiving last night.  Each couple brought a dish and it turned into quite a feast.  We did this last year and it was so much, we decided to do it again.  There was ham, turkey, gravy, dressing, squash casserole, sweet and sour green beans, rolls and homemade pumpkin pie.

My assignment was sweet potato casserole.  I found a recipe in Cooking Light (November 2008) for a lightened up version of this Thanksgiving staple and thought this would be the perfect time to try it.  This makes a mess, but is pretty easy and fast!  Serve this next week and you’ll be the new family hero.  It’s kind of a stretch to categorize these as ‘veggies’, but whatever. 

Sweet Potato Casserole


  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup evaporated low-fat milk
  • 3 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • cooking spray


  • 1/5 ounces of all-purpose flour (about 1/3 cup)
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/8 teapsoon salt
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350.  To prepare potatoes, place chopped potatoes in a Dutch oven; cover with water.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes or until tender and drain.  Let cool 5 minutes.

Place potatoes in a large mixing bowl, add granulated sugar, evaporated milk, 3 tbsp melted butter, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and vanilla.  Beat on medium speed until smooth.  Add eggs, one at a time, beat well.  Coat a 13 x 9 baking dish with cooking spray, then pour the potato mixture into the dish and use a spatula to even out through the dish.

To prepare topping, lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup and level with a knife.  Combine flour, brown sugar, 1/8 teaspoon salt; stir with a whisk.  Stir in 2 tbsp melted butter.  Whisk together until evenly wet and the mixture has made a crumble of sorts.  Using your hands sprinkle the topping evenly over the potatoes; arrange pecans evenly on top.  Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until bubbly. 

Take casserole out of oven and then turn on broiler.   Put casserole back in on the top rack and broil for 45 seconds.  This will toast the pecans a bit and let them release their nutty flavor.  This is important — don’t broil past a minute.  The nuts will burn.

Let stand 10 minutes before serving.