When Your 1960’s Casserole is Calling – Old Fashioned Chicken Noodle Casserole

I haven’t done a whole lot of cooking lately as I get caught up in a few things one is my crafts, whether I am crocheting or doing a variety of arts and crafts and the other is computer gaming. Even at my age I love computer gaming and my current obsession is Farm Together. If you are a computer game lover you understand how it is easy to get sucked down into the proverbial “Rabbit Hole” where hours can just whiz by. So I haven’t made much time for cooking other than fast easy meals. So last week we purchased a rotisserie chicken and from it I made a basic pot of soup with chicken and tortellini and with the remaining chicken I made a chicken noodle casserole my mom used to make. It’s nothing special other than 1960’s comfort food recipe so here it is, it does use what some people refer to as the “dreaded canned soup” but it wouldn’t be mom’s casserole without it. It’s an easy meal for when you want something other than burgers and gets you back to what else you would rather be doing.

My mom’s Chicken Noodle Casserole recipe

Mom’s Chicken Noodle Casserole Recipe

This is the basic recipe I always use. All my measurements are approximate I adjust as I go along, never seem to make it the same way twice.

2 (10 3/4 ounce) can Campbell’s Cream of Chicken and Herb soup (I some times mix and match the cream of chicken soup with cream of celery soup or cream of mushroom – use what ever you either have on hand or you can choose what you like) 

1 soup can of milk 

10 oz pkg frozen peas and and or carrots or mixed vegetables

1 1/2 to 2 Cups leftover cooked chicken

1 pkg (16 oz) medium or wide egg noodles – cooked

Few dashes of Worcestershire sauce to taste (optional)

1 small can of sliced mushrooms, drained (optional)

½ cup dry breadcrumbs 

4 tablespoons butter, melted 

Stir soup, milk, peas & carrots, chicken, Worcestershire sauce and noodles together. Put in a lightly greased 9×13 casserole dish. (You can use Pam spray for this). Mix bread crumbs with melted butter in a cup and sprinkle over chicken mixture

Bake at 350°F for 30-40 minutes, until hot and bread crumbs are golden brown.

Happy Halloween – Bubble Pizza

Even though our children are grown and no longer living at home we enjoy Halloween. We decorate our front yard and look forward to the trick-or-treaters and seeing their costumes. This year however it may end up being a wash out as it has been raining all week and more predicted for today. So we will just roll with it and hope we can hand out most of the treats we have.

So tonight I’ll be making Bubble Pizza. It’s a quick easy version of pizza and can be lots of fun when you add your favorite toppings. Not sure who actually created the recipe but this is the version I adapted for our family. I make it all different ways and you can too. It can be made easily at home, great for a Friday night or family night not just for a holiday, Make several different versions if you have a small gathering or kids sleep-over.

Bubble Pizza

Servings: 8 

Ingredients:

1 pound ground beef

1 (14-16 ounce) jar pizza sauce or favorite tomato sauce

Add about 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of dry Oregano to the sauce if not using pizza sauce

1 or 2  packages Grands refrigerated buttermilk biscuit dough (depending how large you like your crust. (1 for a thinner crust, 2 for a thicker crust)

* Note – Toppings below are up to you and only suggested in the recipe – the possibilities are endless. You can also use your favorite cheese or cheese mixture.

1/4 pound sliced pepperoni sausage (optional)

1/2 onion, sliced and separated into rings

1 (10 ounce) can sliced black olives

1 (4.5 ounce) can sliced mushrooms

1 thinly sliced green pepper

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease a 9×13 inch baking dish or slightly larger. Place ground beef in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Stir in pepperoni (optional), and cook until browned. Drain excess fat. Stir in the pizza sauce. Remove from heat, and set aside.
  2. Cut biscuits into quarters, and place in the bottom of baking dish. Spread the meat/sauce mixture evenly over the biscuits. Sprinkle top with onion, olives and mushrooms, peppers, what ever you like.
  3. Bake uncovered in preheated oven for 25 minutes.
  4. Remove from the oven and top with shredded mozzarella cheese. Bake an additional 5 to 10 minutes, until cheese is melted. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
Veggie Bubble Pizza
Sausage & Mushroom Bubble Pizza with a thick crust (sort of a Sicilian Style pizza)

Easy Weeknight One-Pot Sausage, Peppers and Pasta

I remember those Autumn weeknights where there was a crisp chill in the air and we would look forward to a warm hearty dinner after a long day at work or school. I would get dinner going as the kids would be doing homework at the dining room table. Later we would gather around the same table, enjoy a delicious meal and catch up on everyone’s day.

Those days haven’t changed too much, parents are are still working, kids are still doing home work and after school activities. Life is busier than ever before. I hope this recipe will give you some help on those busy days at dinnertime.

One-Pot Sausage, Peppers and Pasta

Ingredients

1 lb. your favorite short pasta

1 tablespoon olive oil

6-8 sweet Italian sausages or a combination of sweet and hot is delicious!

1 red bell pepper, large, diced

1 green bell pepper, large, diced

1 yellow bell pepper, large, diced

1 small to medium onion, sliced (yellow or white)

3 cloves garlic, sliced

28 oz. can of diced tomato

1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black ground pepper

Instructions

1. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil, add a generous amount of salt, cook until not quite al dente. (You want the pasta a bit underdone as it will finish cooking when the dish is put together)

2. Strain pasta and set aside. Toss it with a small amount of olive oil to prevent sticking

3. In the same pot or large skillet if your prefer, heat 1 tbsp. of olive oil and fry the sausages, working batches as needed, until well browned on all sides.

4. Remove sausages, slice into pieces (about 5 pieces per link), and set aside.

5. Sauté all of the bell peppers, onion, and garlic for about 2 minutes.

6. Add the canned tomatoes, all the spices, and the sausage slices to the pot.

7. Simmer about 10 minutes.

8. Add the pasta back to the pot and stir gently until all the ingredients are coated in the sauce. Continue to simmer until pasta is al dente.

9. Serve with grated parmesan.

10. Mangia Bene!

Pumpkin Season – Waffles and Pancakes

Pumpkin spice season has arrived!

I just love Autumn, it’s my favorite time of year. You still can get a mix of warm summer days and the nights are becoming much cooler. Then the closer we get to Halloween and then Thanksgiving the sweatshirts and hooded jackets start to come out of the closet here in the Northeast and the aroma of soups, stews and spices fill the kitchen once more. Pumpkin waffles and pumpkin pancakes are a favorite in our house for a relaxing Fall breakfast. The waffles are a little bit of work but the payoff is big in flavor and brings lots of smiles around the breakfast table. Don’t forget the whipped cream!

Homemade Pumpkins Waffles for my honey for Samhain brunch. The best pumpkin waffle recipe ever!

Pumpkin Waffles

INGREDIENTS

Makes 4 large round “Belgian” style waffles

• 1/4 cup light brown sugar
• 3 Tbsp. cornstarch
• 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
• 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
• 1/2 tsp. salt
• 1 3/4 tsp. cinnamon
• 2 tsp. ginger
• 1/4 tsp. cloves
• 1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg*
• 2 large eggs
• 1 cup whole milk
• 1 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
• 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and warm
*Grated and lightly packed into the spoon, use 1/2 tsp.  If you use pre-grated, dried nutmeg, use 1/4 tsp.

DIRECTIONS

1. Lightly oil the waffle iron with vegetable oil, and set it to the desired temperature.
2. Combine brown sugar and cornstarch in a large bowl. Whisk together to break apart the cornstarch. Add the remaining dry ingredients, and whisk to blend.
3. Separate eggs: yolks go in a medium-sized bowl and whites get set aside in a smaller bowl.
4. Add pumpkin and milk to the egg yolks. Whisk to blend and set aside.
5. Whip egg whites with a hand mixer on high until stiff peaks form – about 1 1/2 – 2 minutes. Set aside.
6. Pour melted butter into the yolk/milk/pumpkin mixture. As you pour, whisk to combine.
7. Add the pumpkin mixture to the dry ingredients, and mix them together until just combined. A little lumpiness is fine. That will smooth out when the egg whites are added.
8. Slide the whipped egg whites out of the bowl and onto the mixture you just prepared. Gently fold them in until no white bits are obvious.
9. Once the waffle iron is heated, you’re ready to pour the batter! cook time is about 2-3 minutes for Belgian size waffles. Less if you are using a smaller waffle iron.

Fluffy Pumpkin Pancakes

            Light and Fluffy Pumpkin Pancakes Recipe

These little beauties are a beautiful color and will keep you full for hours after eating just one serving.

16 min | 10 min prep

SERVES 4

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pinch clove
1 cup milk (can be any kind)
6 tablespoons canned pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 egg

1.Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, spices and salt in a bowl.
2. In a separate bowl whisk together milk, pumpkin, melted butter, and egg.
3. Fold mixture into dry ingredients.
4. Spray or grease a skillet and heat over medium heat: pour in 1/4 cup batter for each pancake.
5.Cook pancakes about 3 minutes per side. Serve with butter and syrup.
6.Makes about six 6-inch pancakes.

Chinese Eggplant and Chicken in Spicy Garlic Sauce made in the Instant Pot

I thought this week I would share one of my Instant Pot recipes. This is an easy dish to make, doesn’t take much time at all and tastes as good as if it were from your local Chinese take-out. I usually have my rice cooker set up and going as I prepare this dish so both are finished in about the same time but you can make the rice ahead of time.

Chinese eggplant and chicken

Instant Pot Spicy Eggplant & Chicken or Pork in Garlic Sauce

Servings: 4-6

A mildly spiced chicken or pork and eggplant in a savory garlic sauce

Ingredients

3-4 Chinese eggplant (depending on size) cut down the middle and quartered then into 2 inch long pieces

1 pound ground chicken or ground pork

1 tablespoon cooking oil

4 large cloves of garlic, minced

1 green onion, chopped

1/2 inch fresh ginger peeled and finely minced

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (add more if you prefer a spicier dish)

1/4 cup chicken broth

Sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce

3 tablespoons Hoisin Sauce (you can also use oyster sauce if you prefer)

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons corn starch

Cooked white or brown rice for serving

 Instructions

Mix in a bowl the sesame oil, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, sugar, and corn starch well and keep aside.

Turn the Instant Pot to Sauté mode and heat oil. Add garlic. ginger, green onion, and red pepper flakes. Cook for 30 secs.

Add chicken or pork, cook for 4 minutes breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon.

Add 1/4 cup of chicken broth then stirring to making sure nothing is sticking to the bottom and add the cut-up eggplant. Close the Instant Pot lid with pressure valve to sealing.

Set on Pressure Cook High for 2 min then do a Quick Release.

Open the Instant Pot and set to Sauté mode. Add the sauce and stir everything together. Adjust salt and pepper to taste if necessary.

Bring to a gentle boil as you allow it to thicken and then turn off the Instant Pot.

Serve over white or brown rice.

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls in a Skillet

Well, the temperatures have been a bit cooler here in the northeast so I’m looking forward to digging out some recipes and doing some cooking. As you know I’m not one to make many long involved complicated meals, I’ll leave those dishes to the experts. I like to think if you have a good recipe with a handful of ingredients, cooking can be a breeze. My version of unstuffed cabbage rolls made in a skillet is one of those types of dishes. You have all the flavor of the traditional recipe but takes considerably less time to prepare. I hope you will give it a try.

Skillet Unstuffed Cabbage1

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls in a Skillet

4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

1 to 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef

1 large Onion (diced)

1 Green or Red Bell pepper (diced)

2 cloves of Garlic (minced)

2 Tablespoons Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley (or 1 Tablespoon Dried Parsley)

1 Small Head of Cabbage (shredded or chopped)

2 cans (14.5 ounces) Diced Tomatoes

1 can (8 oz.) Tomato sauce

Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Cooked White or Brown Rice

  1. Heat a large, deep skillet or sauté pan (or Dutch oven) over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add about 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil then add the ground beef. Break up the beef with a spoon and cook, stirring, for about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the diced onion, green pepper, parsley, and garlic and continue cooking, stirring, until the beef is no longer pink and the onion is translucent and the green pepper has just begun to soften.
  2. Add the chopped cabbage to the ground beef mixture along with the diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. Cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes or until the cabbage is slightly wilted. Season with Salt and Pepper to taste.
  3. Reduce the heat to low, simmer about 15-20 minutes or until the cabbage is tender. Adjust any salt and freshly ground black pepper if needed.
  4. Serve over cooked white or brown rice

 

skillet unstuffed cabbage 4

 

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Summer Seafood – Linguine & Clams

As Labor Day approaches there is still time left to enjoy the fruits of the sea here on the East Coast. By this time I had my fill of BBQ meals so I thought I would share one of our favorites when getting together with friends and family, Linguine & Clams. No matter what the season is this meal is good anytime.

It’s simple to make and feeds a crowd. A fresh loaf of Italian bread, a delicious green salad, some white wine, and Parmesan cheese and you have a Summer feast.

linguine and clams

Linguine with Clams

1 pound dried linguine

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 shallots, thinly sliced

5 to 7 cloves garlic, finely chopped

3 pounds littleneck clams, scrubbed clean and sand purged

1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1 cup dry white wine (I prefer using Pinot Grigio when making seafood)

2-3 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced into small cubes

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 lemon, zested, for garnish

In a large pot, bring to a boil 6 quarts of salted water.

Add linguine, stirring constantly to prevent it from sticking together.

Cook until al dente.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large saute pan. When almost smoking, add shallots and garlic and saute until soft and translucent,

about 3 to 4 minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic.

Add the clams and wine. Cover and simmer for 6 to 8 minutes or until the clams have opened.

Add 2 tablespoons chopped parsley. Whisk in butter to thicken sauce slightly.

Drain pasta in a colander. Do not rinse pasta with water – this will remove the pasta’s natural starches.

Pour linguine into a large serving bowl or large platter – arrange clams over linguine and pour the sauce overall.

Garnish with remaining parsley and lemon zest. Serve immediately.

Skillet Potatoes and Smoked Sausage

I prefer to cook at home as often as I can. We usually only eat out in restaurants or have Take-Out when we really need a night off or a date night. There are many easy to make recipes that only take about 30-45 mins from start to finish and when you think about it that much time will usually pass while driving to the place, waiting for a table or your order, then the drive back home.

One easy comfort food dinner we like is simple Skillet Potatoes and Smoked Sausage. This was a recipe that I grew up on. My mother would often use Italian sausage which I sometimes do as well. This recipe can be easily doubled.

If you give this a try I hope you enjoy it!

Skillet Potatoes and Smoked Sausage

Serves 2-4 depending on portion size

2 large russet potatoes, cut into 1″ cubes…

14 oz. smoked sausage, thinly sliced (You can use Kielbasa, or links of Italian Sausage cooked whole then sliced.)

1 small onion, chopped

1/2 c. chopped bell pepper (red or green)

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 c. chicken stock

1 1/2 tsp. paprika

1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper

1/4 tsp. dried parsley

2 tbsps. veg. Oil

In a large skillet heat oil…add in the smoked sausage and cook, turning often till browned on edges. Remove meat from skillet and add in the potatoes and cook over med. high heat till they begin to brown and become tender. Add in the Onions, Bell Pepper and Garlic cooking for about 5 minutes then add in the chicken stock and cover. Cook for about 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove cover and check potatoes for doneness. Add the spices, stir and add in the smoked sausage.

skillet potatoes and Kielbasa

 

 

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Easy Weeknight Chicken Croquettes with Gravy

I love to make a nice plump roasted chicken on a Sunday for dinner then I can have leftovers for another meal during the week. This past week I made a roasted chicken by just stuffing the cavity with a quartered lemon and a handful of rosemary from the garden, oh so flavorful. There was still plenty of chicken leftover for another meal so all I had to do was decide which recipe to make. I use this croquette recipe in several ways, it’s super easy for a weeknight dinner after a long workday. You can easily swap out the chicken for cooked salmon, tuna, ham, turkey or anything you like really, just adjust the portions of meat to stuffing to your liking.

IMG_2502

Easy Weeknight Chicken Croquettes

Ingredients:

  • 1 Box of Stove Top Stuffing (6 0z box)
  • Leftover roast chicken shredded approximately 3-4 cups, not tightly packed down
  • 1 egg, beaten

Directions:

  1. Grease a baking sheet and pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.  Also, have an ice cream scoop handy.
  2. Pull and shred by hand the leftover roasted or rotisserie chicken
  3. Prepare the stuffing according to box directions
  4. Add the shredded chicken to the stuffing and add the beaten egg.
  5. Mix all the ingredients well
  6. Using the ice cream scoop portion out the croquettes on to the greased baking sheet. (The ice cream scoop I have makes 9 croquettes)
  7. Put into the hot oven and bake for 15 minutes
  8. While croquettes are baking prepare the chicken gravy.
  9. Remove from the oven and enjoy!

Simple Chicken Gravy

Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth or stock
  • 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp pepper or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp Poultry Seasoning

Directions:

  1. Melt the butter over medium heat in a saucepan.
  2. Add flour and blend thoroughly.
  3. Slowly add in the broth, mixing with a whisk,
  4. Add salt, and pepper and Poultry Seasoning.
  5. Allow to simmer and continue to mix with the mix until mixture thickens.
  6. Serve!

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A Dish from the Garden. Summer String Bean Salad with White Zinfandel Salad Dressing.

Since my husband retired last year he was looking forward to starting up a vegetable garden again. Really just the basics to pique his interest. Roma tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, snap peas, yellow wax beans, and string beans. The zucchini plants didn’t make it this year otherwise I’d be posting one of my many versions of zucchini bread. The herb garden did well with lots of fresh Basil, Parsley (flat and curly), Rosemary, Chives and some Oregano. I hope to expand it a bit more next year. This dish starts with great produce from the garden or your local vegetable stand. Here is my delicious Summer String Bean Salad with White Zinfandel Salad Dressing.

This recipe has no measurements. You can make as much as you need and season to taste. It’s a very flexible recipe.

IMG_2412

Summer Bean Salad

Fresh Blue Lake Green Beans, cook or steam but leave a bit firm.  (I used a combination of green beans and yellow wax bean this time)

Cherry Tomatoes sliced in half

Mozzarella cut into small bite-size cubes (You can also use Feta cheese or any semi-soft cheese to your liking cut into small bites)

Fresh garlic, grated fine on a Microplane. How much you use is up to your personal taste

Add your favorite herbs of choice. The dish in the photo has a chiffonade of some basil and parsley. Salt and pepper to taste.

Toss the bean salad with your favorite Oil & Vinegar dressing, or a squeeze of fresh lemon.

Here is one of my favorite ways to make salad dressing.

 

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White Zinfandel Salad Dressing

1/4 cup White Wine Vinegar (I used Colavita)

3 Tbsp. Water

1 pouch Good Seasons Italian Salad Dressing

1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/4 cup White Zinfandel Wine

Pour Vinegar, Water, Olive oil and white zinfandel into a Salad Shaker. Then add contents of the Good Seasons Italian salad dressing mix. Shake until well blended. Let it sit in the refrigerator for a few hours before using it.

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