Trying This Yet Again

Well, after another long break, I am back to trying to blog.  Since the last time I posted anything, things have gotten crazy.  So I think it is time for a reintroduction.  I am Emily, I am 25 years old, with a wonderful husband, and the biggest difference from the prior post we now have TWO wonderful little girls.  Alice is 3.5 and Wendy is 3 months.  My hands and heart have been very full!!  But once again I will try to do this.  And as it always seems to go, I will start with a recipe.  After a week long trip home, we arrived home at 1am Sunday-between getting the girls and ourselves ready for Mass (it was Easter!) I was to tired to grocery shop so I put together a meal from what I had on hand.  I found a recipe for chicken noodle casserole and started from there 🙂

 

Chicken Noodle Casserole

Prep Time:10 Min Cook Time:30 Min
Serves 6
Ingredients
  • 2 cups uncooked egg noodles
  • 2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
  • 1 (10 oz.) package frozen peas and carrots*
  • 1 (10 oz.) package frozen corn*
  • 1 onion chopped and satueed*
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 (10 oz.) can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 (10 oz.) can cream of mushroom soup
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4 Tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dill
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons bread crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons shredded parmesan cheese
Instructions
  • Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray a 9×13 inch baking dish with nonstick spray.
  • Boil egg noodles according to package directions. Drain water.
  • Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine all the other remaining ingredients except  2 tablespoons of butter and the breadcrumbs . Add cooked noodles to mixture. Gently stir to combine. Pour into prepared baking dish.
  • Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and mix in the breadcrumbs and cheese.  Sprinkle on top of the noodle mix.
  • Bake 30 minutes or until heated through. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

*I did not have full bags of any of these frozen veggies so I pieced together veggies based on what I had in the freezer, that is also why I added onion-and on the onion vein:  I put the onion in raw, that left it less cooked than **I** prefer the onion to be which is why I suggest sautéing the onion first!

 

Original Post that I used as a starting point:

Chicken Noodle Casserole

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Apples Abound Part 1

As September starts, I am looking forward too one of my favorite seasons: Apple Season.

Living in the area that I live in apples are plentiful.  All of my life I remember things like going apple picking, making apple crisp, homemade apple sauce, and fresh apple cider.  Since I am not a pumpkin person (and this is also pumpkin season) my savior of this season is my love of apples.  One thing that I look forward too more than anyone can imagine is the idea of taking my daughter apple picking for the first time. So I’ve decided it is time to start sharing some of my favorite apple recipes.  This first one is for German Apple Cake.  It is a recipe I got from a book that I read, and decided to try and I love it.  It is a great recipe, and I found it to be an awesome way to use seconds-the apples that fall from the trees and are sold a bit cheaper. So here it is

German Apple Cake

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees with the rack in the middle position.

 4 cups peeled and sliced apples (4-5 medium sized apples-I used some seconds that mom had got at the farm last week-good for being peeled and cut!)

3 eggs

1 cup veggie oil

2 cups granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups (packed) all purpose flour

1) Grease the inside of a 9 x 13 baking pan (I used Pam baking spray)

2) Peel, core and slide the apples as you would for a pie, and then place them at the bottom of the pan.

(this can be done by hand or with an electric mixer-I did it by hand and it was fine)

3) In a medium size bowl, whisk the eggs and oul until they are thick, and then add in the sugar and beat it to combine.

4) mix in the vanilla, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt-mix thoroughly.

5) Add the flour in a little at a time mixing well after each addition.

6) Scrape down the bowl and give a final stir with a spoon, drop the batter over the apples by the spoonful (dont worry if it doesnt totally cover the apples the batter spreads while baking)

Bake at 350 for 60 min, then cool.

 

Now for the frosting (I will admit, I cheated and used a can of frosting bc I was short a few ingredients but this the the frosting recipe it came with!)

8 ounces softened cream cheese (the brick not whipped)

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 Tblespoon lemon juice

4 table spoons melted butter (thats 1/2 a stick)

2 cups confectioners sugar

 Stir the vanilla into your softened cream cheese, then add the lemon juice and melted butter and mix until smooth.  Beat in the confectioners sugar a little at a time until it reaches th consistency of frosting-once it does stop adding the sugar (LOL)

 Use the frosting to frost the apple cake and enjoy!!

Mac and Cheese

Mac and Cheese.  One of the simpliest dishes ever.  It is something that pretty much everyone I have ever met loves, and also has an opinion on it.  I will be honest:

With all of my culinary expereince, and all the foods I have tried since I was a child Kraft blue box Mac and Cheese dinner has been my number one go-to comfort food.  

Until recently.

One day not to long after I had my daughter, I was feeling down and needed some comfort food, I debated for awhile-do I need the calories, is it worth it etc. and then decided YES.  I was entitled to the occassional treat and made up my mind. Out came the pan, the butter, the milk-pasta boiled slightly less then the time on the box (I like my pasta firm-perhaps even a bit firmer then al dente..) Mixed in the yellow cheese powder-a little extra milk to make it just a tad looser and saucier..into the bowl it went-a quick sprinkle with black pepper and then. Nothing.  I took one bite and my heart dropped. What had I done wrong-I had made it the exact same way I’ve been doing it for more years then I can remeber. And yet…something fell short.  It just wasn’t what I remember or wanted.  I remember thinking at that moment: “Oh My God. I think I’ve out grown Kraft. I must be OLD.”  

It is funny how something as simple as a box of Kraft Dinner can impact you.  I was CRUSHED.  What was I going to DO without my Kraft?!?!?!?  I lived in denial for sometime, then come another day I was in need of my go-to comfort food.  We still had a box or two left in the cabinet (my parents house while I still lived there, and my apartment once I moved always had some Kraft on hand!) So I pulled one out-I followed my process again paying extra attention to make sure it was perfect…and yet again NOTHING.  It fell short.  There was no longer any denying it.  I had out grown Kraft.

Since then I have lived in avoidance of the fact that my go to comfort food was gone.  As dramatic as it sounds-it left a void in my life!  There were periods where I ate a box of Kraft every few days-mostly on summer vacations when I was alone and that was all I really was allowed to cook when I was alone.  Then one day I was flipping through a recipe page on Facebook and came across a recipe for homemade mac and cheese-something I had perviously turned my nose up at (yes I honestly PREFERRED Kraft to homemade!) and decided to give it a try.  I made some adjustments (of course) and gave it a try-and it came out AWESOME.  Andrew loved it.  Alice loved it.  And so did I.

So here it is.  

The Better Than Kraft Mac and Cheese

(Bolded sections are my changes/notes!)

1 stick of butter

1/3 cup of flour

4 cups of milk

1 lb of macaroni noodles, cooked and drained

1 (9 oz) bag of fresh spinach, chopped

2-3 cups of shredded cheddar cheese

2 cups chopped cooked chicken (Once a week or so I take a pacakge of thin sliced chicken breasts marinate them over night in dressing then grill them off-we use them for sandwiches, meals etc. through the week-I had a few of them left in the fridge and I just used those-they gave awesome flavor profile.)

One Package Italian Dressing mix (optional)

2 medium yellow onions-caramelized

1 lb bacon, cooked and crumbled

salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste

Instructions
Cook your bacon.  I reccomend doing 2/3 of it extra crunchy, and the last 3rd a bit less crunchy since it gets crisped up in the oven.

Caramelize the onions.

In large saucepan, over medium heat, melt stick of butter.
Once butter is melted, turn heat up to medium high and slowly stir in flour to make a roux.
Slowly add the milk 1 cup at a time and stir continuously.
Once the consistency is thickened up a bit and more sauce-like, slowly stir in the cheddar cheese (I ended up using all 3 cups).
Turn off heat and stir in the chicken, 2/3 of the bacon crumbles (reserving a bit for topping), dressing mix, onions and fresh chopped spinach.
Once well mixed, season with salt and pepper to taste.
After sauce is seasoned, mix in the macaroni noodles and stir until well combined.

(**The pan I used for the sauce was to small for everything, so I took a bowl and put the chicken, bacon, spinach in that-then mixed in some sauce.  After that I put sauce on the bottom of the baking dish, added some pasta then the chicken-bacon-spinach mix-stirred and finsihed by added the last of the pasta and then the sauce and a fina good stir-this was a PAIN and made more dishes-I reccommend using a one big pot for the sauce so you can mix everything in there!!**)
Once mixture is combined well, add into a greased 9×13 baking dish.
Sprinkle remaining bacon crumbles on top (I added a little extra cheddar on top as well!).

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until bubbly.

 

It comes out of the oven beautiful cheesey and deliclious!

Hope you find this recipe as satifying and comforting as I do.

Enjoy