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It's Not Just Popcorn!

Who Doesn’t Love Tater-tots Breakfast Casserole

I’ve made this recipe twice now and I tweaked it even more from the original recipe from Kraft. Made it better! And sorry, it’s not low-calorie, but come on, its got tater-tots in it! Or as they are sometimes called potato tots, potato puffs, etc. I have used Great Value brand and Aldi’s brand. Both came out amazing! The pictures are from the first time I made it, since I forgot to take pics the second time. It was Super Bowl Monday the 2nd time and it sure hit the spot that morning!

First time I made it I forgot to cover it when I baked it, still came out good but it needs to be covered. Omg, sooooo incredibly delicious! It can definitely be prepared the night before and then baked in the morning. For the sausage I use whatever type of sausage I have in the house. Usually some kind of chicken sausage. I’ve used the italian style and it’s fine. the original recipe also called for 2.5 ounces of bacon! HA! I used a whole pound. Also the original called for a 10.5 ounce can of cream of potato soup. The store was out of it when I went so I used the big “family” size can. I think it’s like 23 ounces. I used it all! Makes it much creamier.

This recipe is so simple to make. You will NOT be disappointed!

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 pound cooked ground sausage

4 large eggs, scrambled

1 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled

2 tablespoons finely chopped onion

3 1/2 cups thawed tater tots (any brand will be fine!)

1 family size (23 oz) can cream of potato soup (any brand is fine)

1 tsp red pepper flakes

1 tsp black pepper

1 cup sharp shredded cheddar cheese, divided in half.(use more if you wish!)

Sour cream for top if desired

Directions:

  1. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl, except for 1/2 cup of the cheddar cheese.
  2. Pour into a large casserole dish making sure it’s all distributed evenly.
  3. Cover and bake for 35 minutes at 350°.
  4. Sprinkle with remaining cheddar cheese and bake uncovered another 5 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly!
  5. Serve hot! If you want, add a dollop of sour cream to each serving.

 

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Hot Won Ton Bites

Well this past week I decided to finally venture into the won ton appetizer realm. I have to say it was a huge success! These little wrappers are so cute! I made two different ones and the were both a huge hit. The main recipe I used was spinach and artichoke. I got the recipe originally from Kraft Foods and tweaked it. It called for red peppers. Everyone knows I don’t like sweet peppers so I used sun-dried tomato as well. If you want the original “Warm Spinach & Artichoke Cups” click and check it out. The second one I made was a sausage/cream cheese combo. I had two large Italian style chicken sausages and just ground them up and added cream cheese. HUGE HUGE HIT!

The won ton wrappers can be found in pretty much every supermarket. Look in your produce section by the Asian foods. The ones I used are the small square ones. Have fun with these because you can put just about anything into them and bake them! Experiment and have fun! I know I’m getting another package next time I go shopping! And make sure you have at least 2-3 mini muffin tins for these. You can use one but it will take longer.

INGREDIENTS:

24 won ton wrappers

(Spinach & Artichoke)

1 can (14 oz.) artichoke hearts, drained, finely chopped

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1 pkg. (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed dry

1/3 cup light mayonnaise

1/3 cup light sour cream

1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

¼ cup finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes

4 cloves garlic, minced (use less if it’s too much garlic for you!)

(Sausage)

2-3 large chicken sausage, Italian style, ground up (I used the food processor)

1 package (8 oz.) light cream cheese

DIRECTIONS:

1. Heat oven to 350º.  Place 1 won ton wrapper into each of 24 mini muffin cups sprayed with cooking spray. Make sure the edges of wrappers extend over the top of cup. Bake 5 minutes. Meanwhile combine the rest of the ingredients.

2. Once the 5 minutes is up remove from oven. Spoon the mixture into the cups.

3. Bake 12-15 minutes or until filling is heated through and edges of the cups are golden brown. They may need an extra minute or so depending on your oven. Just keep an eye on them. Enjoy!

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Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

First let me say that I have not actually made this recipe yet. But I will, soon. My husband loves gumbo. Me, I could take it or leave it. Mainly because there are peppers in it. Remember, I am the one Italian who doesn’t like sweet peppers. I know, weird. But I am willing to give this a try and I will make sure I chop the pepper very small so I can’t pick them out! You should see me at restaurants! Anyway, I got this recipe in my email today from Cooking Light. It’s actually from their November 2002 issue! So it’s been around a long time. I have changed a few things of course (though I am leaving the peppers in!). The recipe calls for boil-in-bag rice. Not happening in this house. I will use jasmine brown rice. I always make a huge batch and freeze it in small packages, for occasions just like this! And it also called for turkey kielbasa. I will use chicken sausages of some kind. The recipe originally called for bottled minced garlic. Again, not in my house! I will use fresh garlic and probably double it!

What is also really great about this recipe is that most of it uses frozen vegetables. This will save time if you’re making it last-minute. But if it’s last-minute you might not have the ingredients on hand so think ahead anyway. And if you do not like to use frozen vegetables like onion, peppers, okra etc. use fresh. But remember the frozen ones are already all cut up for you and cook faster! Another way to make this a little different is to add some shrimp to the last step also. Probably about a half pound or so of uncooked. It will cook fast so be careful.

Illustration courtesy of Cooking Light magazine

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups cooked rice of choice (I prefer jasmine brown rice)

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 cup frozen chopped onion

1 cup frozen chopped green bell pepper

1 cup frozen cut okra

1 cup chopped celery

2 teaspoons minced garlic

½ teaspoon dried thyme

¼ teaspoon ground red pepper

2 cups chopped roasted skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 2 breasts)

8 ounces chicken sausage of your choice, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 (14½ ounce) can diced tomatoes with peppers and onion

1 (14½ ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

DIRECTIONS:

1. If you are cooking rice now make the gumbo while it is cooking.

2. Combine the flour and oil in a Dutch oven or large soup pot. Saute over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes. Add the onion, green pepper, okra, celery, garlic, thyme, and ground red pepper. Cook for about 3 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently.

3. Stir in the chicken, sausage, tomatoes, and broth, cook 6 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Serve over rice.

Makes 4 servings (1½ cups gumbo and ½ cup rice)

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Falling Back

Hi everyone! I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted but my cousin from New York was here visiting and I didn’t get a chance to do much blogging. We ate and drank quite a bit though. The first weekend she was here we all went to EPCOT for the Wine and Food Festival. I think we drank more than we ate actually. But it was a great time for sure! Before we hit the Food Festival we took a drive the night before to City Walk at Universal Studios and went to Margaritaville for dinner and margaritas of course!

Margarita at Orlando Margaritaville

Our appetizer was a deep-fried sliced kosher dill pickle with a ranch dipping sauce. It was incredible! We should have gotten at least three orders!

Fried Pickle!

Next we had Cheeseburgers in Paradise of course!

Cheeseburger in Paradise!

The next two days were spent in EPCOT. Our first stop was France where we got the usual Pomegranate Kir and Escargot in Brioche! So decadent!

Sluggo enjoying some French cuisine!

Next stop was Germany for the usual German sausage in a pretzel roll. This year the sausage was twice the size of the roll! We also had a delicious serving of cheese spaetzel! No counting calories today! We had to wash it all down with some German beer of course!

German sausage in a pretzel roll with cheese spaetzel

Belgium was next and we had the mussels in the garlic cream sauce. I posted this recipe last week so check it out!

Mussels in Roasted Garlic Cream Sauce at Belgium in EPCOT

We drank a few Proseccos in Italy and had a baked ravioli and canoli as well. Needless to say, I forgot to take pics after a while. But I recommend that everyone go to the festival if you can. It’s a lot of fun and you get to try so many awesome things.

John and the 15th Anniversary Festival Cake

On the way home from Disney we planned to head to Cape Canaveral to see the shuttle Discovery launch on November 1. But as all of you may or may not know by now, it never launched. We planned it perfectly to be out there and we were sad when it couldn’t launch. Nov. 30 is the next date. But on the way home from there we stopped in Titusville, and had dinner at our favorite place. Dixie Crossroads. It’s nothing fancy but they have these little bites of deliciousness called Rock Shrimp. They look like mini lobsters! So cute! We have them steamed and dip in butter, just like lobster! We also had a lobster dinner as well. Why not, we were on a roll already at this point!

They serve everyone these little dough corn fritters. They are so tasty but I try not to go crazy eating too many!

You can't eat just one of these corn fritters!

Lobster and rock shrimp to fill us up for the drive back home.

Sluggo loves his lobster!

Rock Shrimp

So that was just four days of my cousin’s visit. We had many more excellent meals but I am getting full just thinking of them. She left to go back to New York today so now it’s back to normal eating. Maybe soup tonight?

Tomorrow I will be back to the regular recipes before my husband and I head to Charleston for a few days to check it out. More food! I hear their specialty is shrimp and grits! I can’t wait!

Till tomorrow!

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Italian Sausage & Peppers

This is a dish that I actually don’t really eat. I love the sausage part but if you remember I don’t like peppers. I know, what kind of Italian am I if I don’t like peppers. I’m trying to like them but it’s not working. Anyway, this is a very popular dish at our family gatherings. My brother-in-law Carl makes an incredible version of this. Nice and spicy, just how my Dad likes as well as my husband. Carl and my husband say it can never be too hot! They both have asbestos mouths so we can’t let them judge how hot things are! The hotness in this recipe will be decided on the type of sausage used. Hot sausage or sweet sausage, that is the question. I prefer sweet but those of you who love to sweat when you eat go for the hot!

Italian Sausage & Peppers

INGREDIENTS:

1½ pounds Italian sausage (sweet or hot, or both!)

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 garlic cloves, minced

3 large onions, slivered

3 sweet red peppers, seeded and cut into strips

3 sweet green peppers, seeded and cut into strips

½ teaspoon oregano

DIRECTIONS:

1. Pierce each sausage in several places with a fork and place in a heavy frying pan with 1 tablespoon olive oil, over medium-low heat. Turn sausage occasionally and cook until well browned on all sides.

2. While the sausages are cooking, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and sauté the garlic and onion. Mix in the peppers and oregano. Don’t cover the pan or the peppers and onions will get steamed.

3. Cook until the onions are lightly brown and the peppers are tender. Cut the cooked sausage into bite size pieces and add to the onion and pepper mixture. Mix well. Place on a warm platter to serve.

Serves 4-6

This dish is great with a nice loaf  of crusty Italian bread and a glass of Chianti!

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Crustless Dinner Quiche

This is a very filling dish which is great for leftovers as breakfast the next day! I use most of the same ingredients each time though I will switch sometimes depending on what I have on hand. I always add spinach but I will vary if I put in chicken, shrimp, scallops, sausage. And you will not even miss the crust! It comes out almost like a Quiche casserole. It’s always a good “go to” dinner if you can’t figure out what to make. It’s easy and actually good for you! I usually use egg beaters (plain or flavored) and fat-free half-and-half. Feel free to use real eggs and milk if you want the full fat version. Make sure also with any of the high water content foods like the spinach and shrimp to get as much water out of them as possible.

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup EggBeaters (or any egg substitute)

1 cup fat-free half-and-half (or 2% milk)

1 cup chopped frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

½ teaspoon dill

1 teaspoon basil

2 teaspoons parsley

1 cup salad shrimp, thawed and drained well (or enough cooked chopped shrimp to make a cup)

2 pre-cooked chicken sausages, roughly chopped (any flavor you like)

few dashes hot sauce

1 ½ cups shredded 2% cheese of your choice (I usually use cheddar)

DIRECTIONS:

1. Combine all ingredients except for ½ cup of the shredded cheese, in a large bowl. Mix well.

2. Pour into a round deep dish baking pan. I use a 10″ round which is about 2″ deep. It has to be deep enough to hold all of the mixture. Sprinkle the ½ cup of shredded cheese over the top.

3. Bake at 350º for about 45 minutes. The top will puff up and then settle when you take it out of the oven. Let sit for about 5-10 minutes. Cut it up and serve!

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