Tortilla Chip Casserole

This recipe turned out to be a little dry for me. Maybe next time I will add more sauce? Or bake it for a little less time? My son and husband liked it, and my daughter picked out all the chips and ate those.

rating: 8

Tortilla Chip Casserole


1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
1/2 cup unsalted chicken stock (I used vegetarian “chicken” stock)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
1 cup organic canned black beans, rinsed and drained
3 cups chopped cooked chicken breast (I used 2 bags of Morningstar Farms Chik’n Strips)
4 ounces baked tortilla chips, crushed
1 roasted red bell pepper, chopped
8 ounces lower-sodium green chile enchilada sauce (such as Frontera)
2.5 ounces shredded cheddar-Monterey Jack cheese blend (about 2/3 cup)
2 tablespoons chopped green onions


1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion; cook 6 minutes. Add garlic and flour; cook 2 minutes. ­Gradually add milk and stock, stirring constantly; bring to a boil. Remove from heat; stir in cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, and cream cheese.

3. Spread 1/2 cup milk mixture over bottom of a broiler-safe 11 x 7-inch baking dish. Layer beans, 1 1/2 cups chicken, and 2 ounces chips. Top with 1/2 cup milk mixture. Layer 1 1/2 cups chicken, bell pepper, and 2 ounces chips; top with 1 cup milk mixture and enchilada sauce. Sprinkle with shredded cheese. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with green onions.

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Gnocchi Mac and Cheese

My son loves gnocchi, and my daughter loves mac and cheese. They both thought this dish was pretty good, and husband and I really liked it! It’s pretty simple to make and doesn’t take too long to make. Husband said it was a great “comfort food” dish.

rating: 9

Gnocchi Mac and Cheese
(Southern Living, Dec. 2015)


2 (16-oz.) packages potato gnocchi
1/4 cup plus 2 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
3 tablespoons butter
2 shallots, finely chopped
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
2 1/2 cups milk
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
4 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
4 ounces extra-sharp white Cheddar cheese, grated
Vegetable cooking spray


1. Preheat oven to 375°. Bring 3 qt. water to a boil in a stockpot or large saucepan. Add both packages of gnocchi and 1/4 cup kosher salt. Boil about 3 minutes or until gnocchi float.

2. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots, and sauté 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add flour and chopped thyme, and cook, stirring constantly, 2 to 3 minutes or until mixture is golden brown and smooth. Gradually whisk in milk. Increase heat to high.

3. Bring mixture to a boil, whisking occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, whisking constantly, 5 minutes or until slightly thickened and mixture coats the back of a spoon. Stir in mustard and hot sauce. Remove from heat.

4. Add sharp and extra-sharp Cheddar cheeses, and stir until melted. Stir in gnocchi and remaining 2 1/2 tsp. salt, and transfer to a lightly greased (with cooking spray) 11- x 7-inch or 2-qt. baking dish.

5. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes or until gnocchi is puffed and sauce is golden and bubbly. Increase oven temperature to broil, and broil 2 minutes or until top is slightly browned. Let stand 5 minutes, and serve immediately.

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Tomato Cream Sauce for Pasta

My 10 year old loves gnocchi, and I am always looking for new ways to serve it. I found this sauce and I made it last night. It was so easy, and was really good! My son had three helpings of it! I will keep this recipe on hand when I need a quick sauce.

rating: 9.4

Tomato Cream Sauce for Pasta


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (14.5 ounce) can Italian-style diced tomatoes, undrained
1 tablespoon dried basil leaves
3/4 teaspoon white sugar
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter


In a saucepan, saute onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat. Make sure it doesn’t burn. Add tomatoes, basil, sugar, oregano, salt and pepper. Bring to boil and continue to boil 5 minutes or until most of the liquid evaporates. Remove from heat; stir in whipping cream and butter. Reduce heat and simmer 5 more minutes.


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White Bean-and-Parmesan Soup

I used canned beans instead of dried beans in this recipe, and that’s where I ran into problems. I felt like there was WAY too much broth in this soup, so I ended up getting some out with a ladle. This soup ended up being kind of bland, but I also had some for lunch the next day, and it was better.

rating: 6

White Bean-and-Parmesan Soup

serves 12


package poultry herb mix (5 sprigs each sage, rosemary, and thyme)
4 cups dried white beans (1½ lb.), soaked 8 hours or overnight
8 cups water
4 cups unsalted vegetable stock
6 ounces Parmesan cheese rinds
1 yellow onion, halved vertically
2 teaspoons kosher salt
5 cups baby spinach (about 6 oz.)
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
2 teaspoons lemon zest
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about ½ cup)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


Tie together poultry herb mix with kitchen twine. Place soaked beans, herbs, water, stock, cheese rinds, and onion halves in a large Dutch oven, and bring to a boil over high. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer 1 hour. Stir in salt; cover and simmer until beans are very tender, 30 to 45 more minutes. Remove and discard rinds, or reserve for another use. Stir in spinach, tomatoes, zest, and pepper. Simmer, uncovered, until greens are wilted, 3 to 4 minutes. Spoon into shallow bowls. Top with grated Parmesan and chopped parsley.


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Vegetarian Burrito Bowl

I have been on this veggie bowl kick lately. I can’t get enough of them! This one was okay, but it was kind of bland. The beans were bland and so was the rice. I prefer this bowl or this one instead.

rating: 7

Vegetarian Burrito Bowl

serves 4


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup basmati rice
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 15.5-oz. cans black beans, drained, rinsed
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 avocado, pitted, peeled, diced
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 1/2 cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen, thawed if frozen
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered
Sour cream, shredded Cheddar, cilantro leaves, sliced radishes, chopped pickled jalapeños, and tortilla chips, optional


1. Warm 1 Tbsp. oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add rice and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups water and 1/2 tsp. salt. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer until water is absorbed, about 15 minutes.

2. Warm remaining 1 Tbsp. oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in 1/2 cup water, beans, chili powder and cumin. Bring to a simmer and cook until most of liquid has evaporated, 5 to 7 minutes, stirring once or twice. Season lightly with salt.

3. Combine avocados and lime juice in a medium bowl. Divide rice among 4 bowls. Top with bean mixture, corn, tomatoes and avocados. Serve with garnishes and chips on the side, if desired.


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Meatless Chicken Caesar Salad

I have to say, I did not love this dressing. I prefer Hampton Creek’s Caesar dressing. Husband really liked this, but I thought it was just okay.

rating: 7

Meatless Chicken Caesar Salad
serves 4


vegetarian chicken (I used Beyond Chicken Strips)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 garlic clove
Juice of 1 lemon
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
3/4 cup olive oil
2 heads of Romaine lettuce, washed and chopped
1 loaf Ciabatta or other crusty bread
2 tbsp olive oil


To make dressing, place the cheese, lemon juice, garlic clove, white wine vinegar and the egg together in a blender and blend for 30 seconds.
With blender still in motion, slowly add the olive oil until a smooth consistency is formed.
Pre-heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and fry the vegetarian chicken over medium heat for approximately 10-15 minutes flipping frequently until lightly browned and piping hot throughout.
Pre-heat an oven to 450, slice the ciabatta bread into quarter inch cubes, place on baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and bake until golden brown.

To Assemble
Place the lettuce in a large bowl, toss with the dressing. Slice the vegetarian chicken and pile in the center of your plates. Garnish with the ciabatta croutons and additional shredded Parmesan cheese.


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Parmesan Garlic Spaghetti Squash

I really really liked this dish. My only gripe is that spaghetti squash are so hard to cut! Why is that?? Seriously, I was breaking a sweat cutting this thing in half. Microwaving the squash really does save some time. This is a great side dish, and was even better the next day.

rating: 9

Parmesan Garlic Spaghetti Squash

time needed: 15 min.


1 spaghetti squash, approx. 1lb
1 tablespoon olive oil
2-3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 tablespoons butter
1 cup chicken stock (I used vegetarian “chicken” stock)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese for sauce and as topping (optional)
1/3 cup sour cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1-2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped


1. Slice both ends of the spaghetti squash and slice in half lengthwise. Scrape off the seeds with a spoon or melon baller and place in a microwave-safe baking dish or tupperware, skin facing up. Add one inch of water and heat in the microwave for 12 to 15 minutes, until the spaghetti squash is tender. Fluff and separate the strings with a fork and transfer to a bowl for later.

2. While the spaghetti squash is cooking in the microwave, heat the olive oil and butter in a large saucepan or skillet over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and stir for 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Add the chicken stock and turn the heat up to high and let it come to a boil.

3. Add the spaghetti squash and cook for a couple of minutes. Take the saucepan off the heat and add the parmesan cheese and stir until completely melted. Add the sour cream and cook for 2 minutes more, constantly stirring.

4. Garnish with additional parmesan, parsley and pepper. Serve immediately.


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