Friday, July 5, 2013

July 5, 2013

Wow, Independence Day is already behind us!  How was your July 4th celebration?  We had a  fabulous day - started off with a parade right through our neighborhood, the kids and Ryan went fishing after lunch, then went to BBQ for dinner.  A walk late in the evening with my oldest son to look for fireworks was a an unexpected treat - we had such a sweet conversation (does anyone know where I can find a recipe to freeze my children at their current ages?).  All in all, it was a wonderful day full of time with friends and family.

This week I did have the kids help me organize my loose recipes, and they each picked a new recipe to try out.  Another stipulation they had was to be the only helper in the kitchen when we cooked their dish.  What happens when you let the kids pick the recipe?  Oh my word - you end up with out of season meals, but very happy children.  My daughter picked a tater tot casserole, and my son picked a cream based pasta dish.  While I admit both recipes were in my basket of recipes that I've torn out over the years, I am not sure I would have made either of these any time soon.  They both earned keeper status, but I think both recipes are better served in the late fall or winter rather than early July. 

The casserole Hannah picked would be perfect to put in the oven as you and your spouse head out the door on a date.  Have the babysitter serve this and all the kids will be happy.  The pasta dish Owen selected was really good but still belongs on the table when the weather is cooler.  I actually presented it 2 ways  - a small reserved amount of the sauce before the cream sauce was added, and the rest as the recipe indicated.  I preferred it without the cream and cream cheese, and everyone else liked it both ways.  I bet you can guess which way I'll be serving it this fall!

Bookmark or pin these two keepers for later in the year!

Happy Cooking!

New Recipes
Tater Tot Casserole
Chicken Riggies

Tater-Topped Casserole

* 3/4 lb ground beef
* 1 small onion, finely chopped
* 1 can cream of mushroom soup
* 1/4 cup skim milk
* 1 1/4 cup frozen mixed vegetables
* 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
* tater tots to cover the casserole

1. Preheat the oven to 375.  Brown the meat and onions, drain.  Spoon into a glass baking dish, 11 x 7 or 8 x 8.
2. Mix the soup and milk and pour this over the ground beef.  Add a layer of mixed vegetables and cheese.  Cover the casserole with tater tots.
3. Bake 45 minutes or until potatoes are golden brown.

While I wouldn't advocate you make this dish in July (it is suited more for the fall or winter), it certainly was easy to throw together and my kids ate all the vegetables that ended up on their plates because of the sauce.  Perhaps tuck this recipe away for a meal the babysitter can pull out of the oven to feed the kids while you and your spouse head out on a date!  I used an 11 x 7 and it worked great.

Chicken Riggies - 2 ways

* 1/4 cup chicken broth
* 1 tbsp olive oil
* 2 garlic cloves, minced
* 1/2 tsp dried oregano
* 1 lb chicken, cubed
* 1 tbsp butter
* 1 red pepper, chopped
* a few pickled hot pepper rings, chopped (more or less depending on your affinity for heat)
* 1/2 medium onion, chopped
* 1 garlic clove, minced
* 1/2 cup chicken broth
* 1 can (29 oz) tomato puree
* 1/4 tsp salt
* 1/8 tsp pepper
* 1 box rigatoni
* 3 oz cream cheese (optional)
* 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream (optional)

1.  Combine the first 4 ingredients, then add the chicken.  Marinate the chicken for an hour in the fridge.
2. Drain the chicken and discard the marinade.   Heat a dutch oven over medium-high heat, and cook the chicken until cooked through and no longer pink.  Remove the chicken and set aside.
3. Cook the pasta as directed on the package.
4. In the dutch oven melt the butter over medium-high heat.  Add peppers, onion and garlic; cook and stir until tender.  Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Stir in the tomato puree, salt and pepper.  Return to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the chicken and heat through.
5. If you want to make this a creamy dish, in a small sauce pan combine the cream cheese and cream over medium heat.  Cook and stir until blended.
6.  Drain the cooked pasta. 
7.  For a straightforward dish, pour the sauce over the pasta.  For a creamy dish, add the cream sauce to the tomato sauce, and then pour that over the pasta.  Either way, stir the pasta and the sauce and serve.  Enjoy!

I reserved some of the sauce before the cream and cream cheese addition to try it that way.  I actually preferred it that way, though it was a bit spicier because the cream wasn't there to tone down the heat.  If you are concerned about the heat, just leave out the pepper rings, or only add one or two.  Everyone tried it both ways, and with the exception of me, no one had a clear favorite style.  Given that, I think I will save myself a pot to wash, a few minutes at the stove, and many calories, and serve this without the cream and cream cheese.  This dish was very tasty, and you should bookmark to make this fall or winter.