Category Archives for "Recipes"

December 5, 2009

Cooking with Connie: Saturday Night Special

The following recipe is brought to you by Connie! Make sure to check out additional recipes by Connie at her blog Cook With Connie.

This time of year is busy for everyone. Christmas parties, shopping, decorating, visiting…all in addition to the regularly scheduled chaos that is LIFE! Right now, I’m baking more than I usually do, so I want suppers that are quick, easy stovetop meals. “Saturday Night Special” is the ticket. When I was a kid, my mom used to make this dish. It’s a budget-friendly meal that can easily be thrown together with ingredients from your pantry. She always called it Saturday Night Special, but I honestly have no idea why. We ate it mostly on week nights since it’s so easy and quick to prepare.

The basic dish calls for only a few ingredients, but you can easily change the flavor by varying the tomatoes, corn, and baked beans. You can use tomatoes with green chiles for a little kick. Or use Mexicorn for a zesty Mexican flavor. There are numerous other canned tomatoes with added ingredients or spices, such as fire-roasted or garlic and herbs. And, baked beans come in many flavors, too. There’s anything from bold and spicy to maple bacon flavored. Cans of baked beans tend to go on sale during “cookout” season, so stock up then. Canned pork ‘n’ beans usually cost less than baked beans making them a thrifty choice. So, experiment and find your family’s favorite combination. While the basic recipe for Saturday Night Special is very simple, you can change the flavor every time you make it.

Saturday Night Special

Saturday Night Special

1 lb ground beef (or ground venison if you are lucky enough to have some!)
½ c. onion, chopped
1 t. steak seasoning
28 oz baked beans
1 can (14.5 oz) chopped tomatoes
16 oz frozen corn, thawed (or 1 (14.75-oz) can, drained)
1/3 c. brown sugar

In a Dutch oven, brown ground beef over medium high heat. Drain and return beef to pot. Reduce heat; add remaining ingredients; and simmer for 20 minutes. Serve over steamed rice or with tortilla chips to scoop. Optional toppings include: shredded spinach or kale, bacon crumbles, chopped fresh cilantro or parsley, sour cream, crushed tortilla chips.

November 28, 2009

Cooking with Connie: Cranberry Cornbread Pork Chops

Thanksgiving is over, and we are all enjoying the smorgasbord that is Thanksgiving leftovers.  It is easy to figure out what to do with the juicy, delicious turkey…sandwiches, casseroles, soups, lots of possibilities.  But, what about those side dishes?  Sweet potatoes can become biscuits, waffles, pancakes, cornbread, pie and soup.  In our house, the pies are gobbled up; but most of the traditional pies freeze well for up to 1 month.  Pre-slice before freezing; wrap in waxed paper and store in a gallon or oversized freezer bag.  Then, just thaw a variety of pie slices and serve “dessert-cart style” with fresh brewed coffee, spiced tea, or eggnog.  Makes for easy entertaining when you have unexpected holiday guests. 

As for green bean casserole, freeze flat in quart-sized freezer bags and serve with week night suppers for a quick and easy side.  Or, if you have less than 4 cups, stir your leftover casserole into your veggie soup.  Your soup will become a little thicker and the crispy onions will soften adding yummy flavor to every spoonful.  Leftover mashed potatoes can become potato cakes or top your favorite shepherd’s pie.  Mashed potatoes are also wonderful as a thickening agent in chowders and stews (think clam chowder, beef stew, beans, & lentils).  Cornbread can be crumbled and used as a stuffing or even frozen and later used as a breader for chicken, fish, or pork. 

And, here’s my Leftover Makeover for cornbread and cranberry sauce.  This is a sweet dish and you can substitute chicken for the pork.  Remember…measurements are approximate since it’s a Leftover Makeover.  Use what you have if the measurements are close.  Enjoy!

Email me with any questions you may have about a Makeover for your Leftovers.

Cook with Connie e-mail: cookwithconnie at gmail dot com 

Cranberry Cornbread Pork Chops 

6 bone-in pork chops (about 3 ½ lbs)
1 1/2 – 2 c. whole berry cranberry sauce
1/2 c. honey barbecue sauce
2 T brown sugar
2 c. cornbread, crumbled 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Season pork chops with salt and pepper.  Heat 2 T. Olive oil n large skillet over medium-high heat.  Brown pork chops 4-5 minutes on each side.  Place browned pork chops in 9×13 dish.  Combine cranberry sauce and next 2 ingredients.  Fold in cornbread.  Divide cornbread mixture evenly on top each pork chop.  Bake 30 minutes or until meat thermometer reads 160 degrees.

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November 23, 2009

Slow Cooker Recipe: Sweet Potato Custard


I have had a couple of requests for the Sweet Potato Custard recipe. This recipe came from a crock pot cooking class I took several years ago. It is a simple recipe and great to make for Thanksgiving or Christmas. I really like that it cooks in the crock pot instead of taking up room in the oven. It almost tastes like dessert! The original recipe was by Debbie Duggan.

Sweet Potato Custard

5 Cups chopped, peeled sweet potatoes or yams
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
2 Tblsp. unsalted soft butter
3/4 Cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
Dash Nutmeg
Dash ground cloves
1 large egg
1/4 cup sour cream

In a pot of boiling water, cook sweet potatoes for 15 minutes or until tender. Drain and transfer to a blender or food processor. Puree or mash sweet potatoes until smooth. Add lemon juice.

In a bowl combine butter, brown sugar, spices, egg and sour cream. Beat until smooth. Fold in sweet potato puree. Transfer to a lightly buttered crock pot. Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours or on high for 2-3 hours. The sweet potatoes will be slightly brown on the edges when done.

Tip: You can boil, mash and add the lemon juice the day before if you want. Just place the puree in the refrigerator until you are ready to cook in the crock pot!


November 21, 2009

Cooking with Connie: Thanksgiving Leftover Makeovers

Next week is Thanksgiving, so all the foods on my mind right now are the classics: roasted turkey, cornbread stuffing, sweet potato casserole, cranberry sauce, green beans, corn pudding, pumpkin pie.  Every family has its own traditional Thanksgiving menu and one thing is for sure; no matter what classics you serve…you will have leftovers!  Each year, I try to create a new and unique dish out of Thanksgiving leftovers.  This year, I’m trying my hand at chipotle sweet potato biscuits, and I’ll let you know how they turn out.  But, this week, I’d like to pass on a few tried-and-true Leftover Makeovers for you to try after your Thanksgiving feast.

  • Turkey Tetrazzini is a classic Leftover Makeover and this casserole freezes beautifully.  (Simply substitute turkey for chicken and cream of celery soup for cream of mushroom.  Add 1/2 c. green peas.)
  • White Chili is a hearty soup that can be frozen, as well.  The recipe serves 6 to 8, so there probably won’t be much left over!  But, if so, freeze flat in quart-size freezer bags up to three months.
  • Sweet Potato Waffles can be made with your leftover sweet potato casserole, using the sweet crunchy topping and all.  Freeze sweet potato waffles, separated by wax paper, in a gallon-size freezer bag for up to one month.  To reheat, toast them straight from the freezer.  Another tip is to freeze your leftover cornbread stuffing in 1 cup portions.  These can be thawed and used as filling for butterflied chicken breasts or pork chops.  (See column “Apple-Cornbread Stuffed Chicken Breasts”)
  • My friend, Heather, makes the yummiest sub sandwiches from Thanksgiving leftovers.  Layer sliced turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce on a sub roll spread with mayonnaise.  Unbelievably yummy!

If you have a Thanksgiving Leftover and you’d like me to suggest a Makeover, shoot me an email, and I’d love to give you some suggestions.  Cookwithconnie at gmail dot com or visit my blog Cook With Connie.

Happy Thanksgiving!

White Chili

2 T butter
1 T olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
3-4 cups chopped, cooked turkey
3 cans great Northern beans, rinsed, drained, and divided
3 (4.5-oz) cans chopped green chiles
1 t. ground cumin
1 bay leaf
1 t. salt
1/8 t. ground red pepper
6 cups turkey broth
1 T. chopped fresh cilantro

Toppings:  tortilla chips, corn chips, shredded Monteray Jack cheese, shredded Cheddar cheese, salsa, guacamole, sour cream

Heat olive oil and butter in Dutch oven over medium heat.  Cook onion and celery until tender.  Add turkey, 2 cans of beans, and next 6 ingredients.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low, and cook 1 hour, stirring frequently, until thickened.  Process remaining 1 can of beans in a blender until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides.  Stir bean puree into chili.  Remove from heat; remove and discard bay leaf.  Stir in cilantro just before serving with desired toppings.

Sweet Potato Waffles

Sweet Potato Waffles

2 ½ c. all-purpose flour
1 T. Plus 1 t. baking powder
3/4 t. salt
1 ½ T brown sugar
½ t. cinnamon
1/4 t. nutmeg
2 large eggs, beaten
2 1/2 cups milk
½ c. vegetable oil
1 c. cooked, mashed sweet potatoes (or leftover casserole)
½ c. chopped pecans

Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl.  In a medium bowl, combine eggs, milk, and oil; fold in sweet potatoes and pecans; add to flour mixture, stirring with a wire whisk just until dry ingredients are moistened.  Cook in a preheated, oiled waffle iron until golden.  Serve with warm maple syrup.

November 20, 2009

Thanksgiving Menu Planning Tips

Thanksgiving Menu Planning Tips

I am sitting down writing out my menu for next week. We have family coming from Wednesday until Saturday morning. With so many people to cook for, it is important for me to plan my menu and my grocery shopping. Luckily, I have my sister-in-law here who will share the cooking and hosting duties with me! Here are some great Thanksgiving Menu Planning Tips that I would love to share with you:Continue reading

November 7, 2009

Cooking with Connie: Pizza Stuffed Chicken

I don’t know one kid who doesn’t love pizza.  Our family has “pizza & a movie” every Friday night.  We usually make our own pizza, sometimes we bake a frozen pizza, and occasionally we’ll order out.  Pizza is so popular because of the perfection of the flavors.  The perfect crust, spicy sauce, cheeses and toppings make for a unique hand-held meal that we all love.  My family loves pizza so much, I wanted to create other meals with the same classic flavors of pizza.  My friend, Kristin, created a pizza casserole that layers the classic baked spaghetti with pepperoni slices.  I loved this concept, so I turned the flavors into a stuffed chicken.  The beauty of this method is the versatility of the ingredients.  The pepperoni can be substituted and other fillings added; and you’ll create a whole new taste.  Try olives, green peppers, onions, mushrooms, ham, pineapple, Italian sausage, Canadian bacon, any of your favorite pizza toppings.  Just stuff them in the chicken to create your family’s own Pizza-Stuffed Chicken.

Pizza-Stuffed Chicken

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 4)

salt, pepper, Italian seasoning

8 (1-2 inch) pepperoni slices

4 slices mozzarella cheese

1/2 c. chicken breader

2 T. butter, melted

1/2 c. bread crumbs

4-6 T. Pizza sauce, divided

2 T. grated Parmesan cheese, divided

Fresh chopped parsley

Place each breast between 2 sheets of waxed paper or place in a gallon-size storage bag without sealing.  Use a meat mallet to pound each chicken breast to 1/4-inch thickness.  Remove waxed paper and sprinkle each breast with salt & pepper and Italian seasoning, 1-2 slices of pepperoni, and 1 slice of cheese.  Fold top of chicken breast over pepperoni & cheese; fold in edges and roll.  Roll each stuffed breast in chicken breader; dip in melted butter and roll in bread crumbs.  Place seam side down on a plate; cover and chill for several hours or overnight.  Place on prepared rack on broiler pan; top each stuffed breast with pizza sauce and parmesan cheese.  Bake in preheated 425-degree oven for 17-20 minutes.  Do not overcook.  Let sit 5 minutes before serving.

Top baked chicken with fresh chopped parsley.