Weeknight Pasta

I love pasta! I love to make it, and I especially love to eat it 🙂

My favorite pasta dishes usually take hours and a lot of love to make to perfection, but this weeknight pasta dish is quick, easy, and has a little bit of something for everyone! The beauty is you can totally make it your way with ingredients that your family enjoys. Here’s what I did, but feel free to add your own favorites, remove stuff you don’t care for and make it your own! I would love to hear what you did to make this recipe an original at your house. Also, I think this needs a name….any suggestions?

Ingredients:
1 Rotisserie Chicken (meat removed from bone and chopped or shredded)
1 can black olives (I use the medium size olives cut in 1/2)
1 jar marinated artichoke hearts (chop to roughly same size as tomatoes and olives)
1 container of fresh cherry tomatoes (cut in 1/2)
1 small box frozen chopped spinach (thawed and drained)
2 gloves fresh garlic (minced)
fresh basil, salt, and pepper (season to taste)
1 pkg of dry spaghetti (cooked and drained)
1 cup of fresh mozzarella (shredded or cubed whichever you prefer)

weeknight pasta3

Directions:
Combine all of the ingredients except the pasta into large mixing bowl
Cook pasta according to package directions
Toss all ingredients together
Serve, and enjoy with garlic bread

weeknight pasta

*I told you it was easy*

Old Fashioned Pan Rolls

Old Fashioned Pan Rolls

image

This recipe has been a Thanksgiving tradition for as long as I can remember.  The smell of yeast bread rising is certainly one of my fondest holiday memories.  I smile when I remember waking up to my mom covered in flour and kneading the dough, preparing for its first round of rising.  I have continued that tradition and in fact make them regularly for hot roast beef sandwiches, left over turkey sandwiches and everything in between. I’m happy to share this tradition with you and your family.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup sugar

2 tsp. salt

2 pkgs active dry yeast

6 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups water

3/4 cup butter

1 egg

Vegetable oil

Steps:

  1. In a large bowl combine sugar, salt, yeast and 2 1/2 cups of flour.
  2. In a 1 quart saucepan over low heat, heat water and 1/2 cup of butter until very warm (120*-130*).  The butter does not need to melt completely.
  3. With mixer as low-speed, gradually beat liquid into dry ingredients until just blended.
  4. Increase speed to medium, beat 2 minutes occasionally scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula.
  5. Beat in egg and 3/4 cup flour to make a thick batter; continue beating 2 minutes, scraping the bowl often.
  6. Stir in enough additional four to make a soft dough. It usually takes about 2 1/2 cups of flour to achieve the right consistency.
  7. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and knead until dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. If you are comfortable using the dough hook on your Kitchenaid, that will also work.  I prefer to knead by hand to make sure I am comfortable with the consistency.
  8. Shape dough into a large ball and place in a greased large bowl (using vegetable oil from ingredients list); turn dough over so that the top of the dough is lightly greased.
  9. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place away from draft.  Dough is finished rising when it has doubled in size (usually about 1 1/2 hours).  My mom taught me that the dough is doubled when two fingers pressed lightly into the dough leave a dent.
  10. Once dough has doubled, it is ready for phase two.  Punch down dough.
  11. Lightly grease a 15 1/2 by 10 1/2 roasting pan.
  12. Cut dough into 30 equal pieces; shape into balls and place in pan.
  13. Cover with a towel; let rise in warm place until doubled (usually about 1 1/2 hours).
  14. Pre-heat oven to 425*.
  15. Bake rolls 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown.
  16. Rub with a stick of butter when you remove them from the oven.

The Winner Is…..Texas Sheet Cake

slice of cake
My first post presented an ever so tempting poll…which recipe would you like to see posted first? The winner by a margin was Texas Sheet Cake.

I honestly have no idea where my family found this delicious chocolate cinnamon cake recipe, or who started baking it first. What I do know for sure is that it’s easy, yummy, and always a hit!

When I was a child my grandmother would make it for us every time my sister and I went to visit. My grandfather would eat the cake one sliver at a time, a good technique to keep our grandmother from really noticing how much cake we could actually devour in a day!

Here’s the recipe with some photos to help you along the way! I hope you give it a try and your family loves it as much as mine does. Let me know what you think 🙂

Ingredients (Cake):
2 Cups Flour
2 Cups Sugar
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 Cup Butter (2 sticks)
1 Cup Water
3 Tbsp. Cocoa
2 Well Beaten Eggs
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 Cup Buttermilk
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 tsp. Cinnamon

Ingredients (Frosting):
1/2 Cup Butter (1 stick)
3 Tbsp. Cocoa
6 Tbsp. Milk
1 lb. Powdered Sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla

1. Combine Flour, Sugar, Salt in large mixing bowl (I combine everything in my Kitchenaid for easy clean up)

Flour mixture2
2. In a small saucepan bring Butter, Water, and Cocoa to a boil
3. Once above mixture reaches a boil, pour over Flour and Sugar Mixture and mix well first two steps
4. In another bow combine Eggs, Baking Soda, Buttermilk, Vanilla, and Cinnamon
5. Add to above mixture and mix wellbatter
6. Bake in 15 1/2 X 10 1/2 X 1″ baking sheet at 350* for 15-20 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.
7. While cake is baking, prepare frosting as you will need to frost this cake while it is still warm.
8. Combine Milk, Butter, Cocoa in small saucepan over low heat until butter is melted.
9. Combine Powdered Sugar and Vanilla in medium mixing bowl.
10. Pour Milk mixture over Powdered Sugar and Vanilla.
11. Mix until combined. This frosting is thin, so don’t worry if it doesn’t look like your usual frosting.
12. After removing cake from the oven, pour frosting over the cake, spreading to create an even layer.
13. Let frosted cake cook completely before serving.
Finished cake

Pulled Pork

pulled pork photo

This year we opted to skip the junk food, snacks, and traditional football feast. Instead I made pulled pork, potato salad, baked beans and chocolate cake for dessert.

I love my crock pot, particularly when I have a bazillion other things I’d like to be doing! This morning I prepared the Pork, placed in the crock pot, turned it on and went on with the rest of my day. The best thing about this meal is that we always have leftovers, I especially enjoy cooking once and then creating a second meal with the leftovers.

Here’s the recipe, it’s super easy:

Ingredients:
1 Pork Butt (use any size you want, we have a family of 5 so I usually get a large one)
Garlic, Black Pepper, Salt, Onion Powder (season to your taste)
1 can Coke Cola
1 can of sweetened condensed milk

Combine all of the seasonings to create a dry rub, rub all over the Pork
Place the pork in the crock pot
Pour can of Coke and sweetened condensed milk over the meat
Turn crock pot to low and cook for 7-8 hours until meat is cooked, tender, and shreds easily.

Serve with your favorite BBQ sauce, your choice of bread/rolls, your favorite side (although I am partial to homemade potato salad and baked beans).

Dinner is done 🙂 This is a great Sunday night meal, everyone seems to enjoy the smell of food cooking all day. My family gets to eat a hearty meal, and I get to spend my day with them rather than in the kitchen.