Saturday, February 20, 2010

Baked Mostaccioli

My SIL, Mary Sue (or MerrySue, as she likes to be called) has some great recipes! For example, I got the Confetti Scalloped Potatoes recipe from her, and this one is also incredible. I made it last week, for Kyle's end-of-the-year swimming banquet potluck, and the pan was the first one to go empty.


8 oz. mostaccioli noodles (I used about 12)
1.5 lbs ground beef (I used 2)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped green pepper
1 clove garlic (I used 3)
1 28-oz can tomatoes
1 8-oz can tomato sauce
1 6-oz can tomato paste
1-4-oz can mushrooms (I used 12 oz. of fresh mushrooms)
1/2 cup water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp dried basil (Yeah, that's what's in the baggy pictured, Silly!)
1/8 tsp pepper
1 large bay leaf (Why do they call them bay leaves? I wonder.)
1 lb. sliced mozzarella (I used shredded)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a large saucepan, cook ground *beef, onion, green pepper, and garlic

until meat is browned and veggies are tender. Meanwhile, clean and slice your mushrooms. A very good chef once taught me not to wash mushrooms, but to instead wipe them clean, like so...

Drain the fat off the meat mixture. Stir in undrained tomatoes, sauce, paste, undrained mushrooms (or fresh, sliced), water, salt, sugar, basil, pepper, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, and reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While that deliciousness is simmering, put the water on to boil the pasta and read this hilarious post from Matty, who made this delicious dish a little differently.]  BOIL THE PASTA (There-That's for you Matty-types.)  Drain and set aside.

Remove bay leaf from the simmering sauce and stir in the mostaccioli.

Turn half of the meat mixture into a greased 9 x 13 casserole dish. Layer half the mozzarella on top. Top with remaining meat mixture. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil (the non-sticky kind or sprayed with olive oil) and bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes, or until heated through. Remove foil. Put remaining mozzarella cheese on top of casserole. Bake for another 5 minutes or more.

Serve with garlic bread and a nice salad. Serves a small crowd of hungry young men.

Note: I put this together and stuck it in the fridge (without baking it) for the next night. After school, I ran home and threw it in the oven straight from the fridge, so it took an full hour and a half to cook. It was well worth the wait :)

*I included a pound of venison this time, and it was delicious!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Confetti Scalloped Potatoes

In Wisconsin, we like our *cheesy potatoes. This recipe is a crowd pleaser and comes from my SIL, *Mary Sue.  Matty, you should definitely try this one--It's even easier than the Easy-Peasy Bars From Heaven and is really, really delicious!!


1 bag Ore-Ida Potatoes O'Brien (The recipe only calls for 16oz. The bag is 28 oz. I used most of it.)

1/2 stick butter
1 can Campbell's Cream of Whatever soup (really, use whichever one you like.)
1 soup-can of milk
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
dash of pepper
1 cup crushed cheddar-flavored crackers (we like Cheez-Its), divided

Oops-What the heck is that little white thing in the pic?! Garlic?! I did NOT use garlic in this recipe; I think it snuck over from the other ingredients on the counter; you know how garlic is always showboating in recipes. Just ignore that, okay? Now let's get crackin'!

In a bold and daring move, I actually chose not to measure the crackers!!  Join me on the wild side and just throw some in a sandwich bag and pretend that each little square is a bit stress in your life; take it out on the crackers inside, til they're all smashed up!

Set those aside.

Next, melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat.  Now, here's where I actually adapted the original recipe (which is something I'm usually too chicken to do, so Go Me! I'm such a daredevil!)  Instead of the original call for 1/2 cup chopped onion, a small green pepper, and 2 tablespoons of pimiento, I just bought the kind of hash browns that already had those ingredients in the bag.  Because I didn't need to saute anything, I also cut the original 1/2 cup butter to 1/4 cup. It really turned out really well, so my recipe reflects these changes.

Stir in potatoes, soup, and milk. I took this pic for you to see how much of the potatoes I used (about four cups.) And yes, it was supposed to be a soup can of the milk, not a cup. (I hope we survive!!)

 Stir. Then add the cheese, pepper, and 1/2 cup of the cracker crumbs.

Pour into a buttered, shallow casserole dish. If you forget to butter the pan, feel free to dump everything back out again, wash the pan, butter it, and move back to the previous step. (Not that I did that or anything....)

Top with remaining cracker crumbs and bake at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes. [Yields 6-8 servings.]

Get ready to be showered with praise for your fine work. Everyone loves these. 

*Warning:  This recipe calls for a double-dose of Lactaid, if you (like me) are lactose intolerant.  (How is it possible that I would live in Wisconsin and have this affliction? I love milk and cheese, but they do not love me. Thank heaven I can pop a pill or two and indulge :)

[P.S. If you're lucky enough to have a copy of our first family cookbook, this recipe can be found on page 37.]

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Easy-Peasy Bars from Heaven

Okay, that's not really the name of these bars. I think my cousin Julie was actually trying to ensure that no one else in the family would want any of her "Dump Bars" when she named them, haha.  Honestly, though, they're called Dump Bars because all you have to do is "dump" all of the ingredients in the bowl and mix them up. I made them for the Music Boosters Chili Lunch. Let's just say I brought an empty container home, and we'll forget about the name, okay?  Here's how you, too, can be a baking superstar....


2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
5 eggs
1 tsp salt
1 cup oil
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 cup chocolate chips

Dump all of the ingredients (except the chocolate chips) into a bowl.

I have to take this moment to ask--Raise your hand if you ever decided that since hot cocoa is great, then cocoa powder must be incredibly delicious, so you tried to eat a spoonful of Hershey's Cocoa, only to find
yourself spitting violently?!

Back to the yum....Mix until all ingredients are moistened.


Take a moment here to stop and smell the chocolate, smell the roses, or in my case, watch the snowflakes and wonder how much more winter you can expect....

Spread in greased 9 x 13 inch pan.

Sprinkle chocolate chips on top (do not stir.)

Did you notice the lone escaped chocolate chip? (I didn't have the heart to crop it out.)

Admire the beauty of it all....


(Did you see Lincoln's face in there? Good--neither did I, but I thought I'd check.)

Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from oven. Let cool a bit and then slice before taking them to your event.  (Make sure you save twelve one for yourself, or like me, you will come home with an empty container!)