Monthly Archives: November 2013

Chocolate chip and Heath Blondies

Chocolate chip and Heath Blondies – Submitted by Mara O.

Blondies are one of the most simple, tastiest baked goods you can make. These blondies are perfectly dense with a paper-thin crinkly top and taste like deep, rich buttery caramel.  What You Need to Know: It’s best to use dark brown sugar for these. Light brown sugar will work fine, but the flavor will not be as rich. Feel free to customize this recipe to your liking — add chocolate, nuts, dried fruit or whatever else you adore. We’ve shared suggested amounts in the recipe below.

Yield: 16 bars


1/2 cup (115 g) unsalted butter, melted (1 stick)

1 cup (230 g) lightly packed dark brown sugar

1 large egg

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract, optional

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup (140 g) all-purpose flour (we use unbleached Gold Medal all-purpose flour)

I used …

½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips,

½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips and

2 tablespoons instant espresso powder

for my extra.

Optional Extras (Add one or a combination to customize)

1/2 to 1 cup chocolate chips (white, milk, semi-sweet, dark, etc.)

1/2 to 1 cup chopped and toasted nuts

1/2 to 1 cup chopped dried fruit or shredded/flaked coconut

1/4 cup liquor (bourbon, whisky, rum, etc.) Note: Increase flour by 1 tablespoon to accommodate

1/2 teaspoon favorings or extracts (coconut, mint, rum, raspberry, etc.)


Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter or line an 8-inch by 8-inch (20 x 20 cm) baking pan with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, stir melted butter and brown sugar until smooth. Stir in egg, vanilla, almond extract (optional) and the salt.

Add flour and stir until incorporated then mix in any extras such as chocolate chips, nuts or dried fruit (amounts above). Pour batter into baking dish and bake 20 to 25 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out relatively clean. Cool then cut into 16 squares.


Store blondies covered in an airtight container up to 3 days at room temperature or up to a week in the fridge. You can also freeze up to 3 months.

Read more:


Baked Ziti

Baked Ziti – Submitted by Mara O.

A classic Italian American comfort food of pasta baked with sausage, tomato sauce and all kinds of gooey, yummy cheeses. If you don’t have Italian seasoning in the pantry, use 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 teaspoon dried basil and 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme.

Cook time: 55 minutes Yield: Serves at least 8


1 pound ziti (can sub penne) pasta

Olive oil

1 pound bulk Italian sausage or ground beef or pork

1 large onion, chopped

3-4 garlic cloves, chopped

1 Tbsp fresh rosemary (or basil), minced

1 Tbsp Italian seasoning

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 large jar of marinara sauce (about 32 ounces) or make your own tomato sauce (see Mara’s Marinara)

1/2 pound of mozzarella cheese, grated

1 heaping cup of ricotta cheese

1 cup grated parmesan or pecorino cheese


1 Bring a large pot of water to a strong boil. Add about a tablespoon of salt for every 2 quarts of water. Add the pasta and boil, uncovered, until the pasta is al dente—edible but still a little firm. Drain the pasta through a colander. Toss with a little olive oil so the pasta does not stick together while you make the sauce.

2 Pour a tablespoon or so of olive oil into a large sauté pan on medium-high to heat. When the oil is hot, add the bulk sausage or ground meat. Do not crowd the pan (work in batches if needed). Break up any large chunks of sausage as it cooks. Brown well. Don’t stir that often or it will be more difficult for the meat to brown. If you are using ground beef or pork instead of sausage, add a little salt.

3 When the meat is mostly browned, add the onions and stir well to combine. Sauté everything until the onions are translucent and beginning to brown, about 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic, rosemary or basil, Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes and stir to combine. Cook 1 minute, then add the tomato sauce and stir well. Bring to a simmer.

4 Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread a thin layer of sauce in the bottom of a 9×13-inch casserole pan, then dot the surface with half the ricotta cheese. Ladle in some sauce with the pasta, mix it well and add the pasta into the casserole.

5 Pour the rest of the sauce over the pasta, dot the remaining ricotta cheese over the pasta, and sprinkle on top both the mozzarella and the Parmesan cheese. Bake in the oven until the top is nicely browned, about 20 minutes.

Simply Recipes

Mara’s Marinara

Mara’s Marinara – Submitted by Mara O.

Serves: 6-8


5 pounds of fresh tomatoes, peeled and seeded (to peel, cut a small “x” on the top and drop in to boiling water for 10 seconds and drop in to an ice bath. Skin will easily peel off)

¼ cup olive oil

3 medium onions, diced

8 cloves of fresh garlic (or more to taste), finely minced

⅓ cup fresh basil leaves, finely chopped

1 sprig of fresh thyme leaves (or ½ tsp dried)

1 sprig of fresh oregano (or 1 teaspoon dried oregano)

2 bay leaves (remove when done)

2 sprigs of parsley (or 1 tsp dried)

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 carrot (1/2 should be grated and added to sauce, the other half should be added at the end of cooking and then removed)


Pour the olive oil into a large stockpot over medium heat.

Add diced onions, garlic and grated carrots.

Saute for 6-8 minutes or until onions are translucent and tender.

Add tomatoes, chopped basil leaves, oregano, thyme bay leaves, parsley and sea salt.

Simmer on low heat for 2-3 hours or until cooked down and starting to darken.

Add carrot piece for the last 30 minutes to absorb acidity.

Remove sprigs of herbs and piece of carrot.

Optional: Use an immersion blender to puree sauce until smooth (for a thicker sauce, skip this step.

Use fresh or store in the fridge up to 1 week, or can it according to your canner’s instructions for tomato product.

Use with Baked Ziti

Pasta E Fagioli Soup

Pasta E Fagioli Soup – Submitted by Susan B.


  • 2 lbs. ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 carrots, shredded
  • 1 c. celery, chopped
  • 2 (28 oz.) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 (16 oz.) can red kidney beans, drained
  • 1 (16 oz.) can white kidney beans, drained
  • 4 cups beef stock
  • 3 tsp. oregano
  • 2 tsp. pepper
  • 5 tsp. parsley
  • 1 tsp. tabasco sauce
  • 1 (20 oz.) jar Prego traditional spaghetti sauce
  • 8 oz. pasta (I like using ditali pasta)
  • Salt to taste


  • Brown ground beef in large skillet. Drain fat. Add beef and all ingredients except the pasta into a large crock pot. Cook on low for 7-8 hours or high for 4-5 hours.
  • Before serving, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and add to soup.


This recipe does make a LOT of soup (approximately 12-15 servings). Make sure you use a large crock pot or feel free to cut the recipe in half!

Salted Caramel Nutella Brownies

Salted Caramel Nutella Brownies – submitted by Rochelle H.


•             1/2 C. flour

•             1/2 C. unsweetened cocoa powder

•             pinch of salt

•             1/4 t. baking powder

•             1 stick (8 T.) butter, melted

•             3/4 C. + 2 T. sugar

•             1 t. pure vanilla extract

•             2 eggs

•             1/2 C. Nutella spread

Caramel Glaze

•             1/4 C. heavy cream

•             1 C. sugar

•             1/4 C. water

•             2 T. butter, cut in pieces

•             1/2 t. kosher salt, divided

Preheat oven 350 degrees.  Grease an 8×8 square pan (or you may line with foil & grease, if desired – will make it easier to serve later after glazed).  In small bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.

In large microwavable bowl, melt butter in 20 second intervals, stirring after each until smooth.  Add sugar & vanilla, and whisk until well-combined.  Add eggs one at a time, whisking well after each addition.  Add cocoa mixture and whisk until fully combined.

In glass measuring cup or other microwave-safe bowl, melt Nutella in 20-second intervals, stirring after each, until smooth and pourable consistency.  Stir into batter.  Pour into prepared pan and bake 27-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Allow to cool completely, then make glaze: in small saucepan over low heat, warm heavy cream – do not boil.  In separate medium saucepan, combine sugar & water but DO NOT STIR.  Place over medium-high heat & bring to a boil.  Cook until mixture turns an amber color, but not too dark that it looks like the sugar is burning.  (For me this took 5-7 minutes, but keep an eye on it.)

Remove from heat and add warm cream, butter, and 1/2 t. kosher salt.  Stir gently until smooth & well combined.  Pour over cooked brownies, tilting the pan to coat.  Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 t. kosher salt.  Allow glaze to set before cutting/serving.

Ham, Swiss, and bacon Stuffed Bread Braid

Ham, Swiss, and bacon Stuffed Bread Braid – submitted by Rochelle H.


• 1 loaf Rhodes frozen bread dough

• 12 oz of thinly sliced ham

• 1 cup of shredded Swiss cheese

• ¼ cup of finely chopped onions

• 6 pieces of cooked bacon, chopped


1. Let bread dough thaw overnight in refrigerator.

2. Roll bread dough into rectangle shape so it is ½” thick.

3. Arrange ham evenly on the center of the dough, leaving edges clean.

4. Top with onions, bacon and cheese.

5. Use pizza cutter to cut even number of strips down each side.

6. Start at the bottom and take each piece and cross them, braiding until you reach the end. Cross and twist to seal the end.

7. Wrap with plastic wrap and then foil.

Cooking Day: Thaw overnight in fridge. Place on lightly greased baking sheet and cover with greased plastic wrap.  A couple hours before baking let rise on counter until double in size.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

Chicken Spaghetti

Chicken Spaghetti – Jessica B.

2 cups cooked chicken

3 cups dry spaghetti broken into 2 inch pieces

2 cans cream of mushroom OR cream of chicken soup

2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese

1/4 cup finely diced green pepper

1/4 cup finely diced onion

4 oz diced pimentos, drained

2 cups reserved chicken broth from pot (I used swansons chicken broth)

1 tsp Lawrys seasoned salt

1/8 – 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup additional grated sharp cheddar (to top with)

Instructions: Boil chicken. Get 2 cups broth for use later. Cook spaghetti in same pot, in the chicken broth, until al dente. Do not overcook. Combine all ingredients EXCEPT 1 c cheese (for topping) and 2 cups chicken broth. Add just enough broth to make mixture easy to stir but not soupy. I usually add about 1.25 to 1.5 cups. Put mixture in casserole dish and top with remaining cheese. Cover and freeze for up to 6 months. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 mins until bubbly. If cheese on top starts to get to cooked, cover with foil. Enjoy!! Side note: if your family likes spicier meals, try adding jalapeños!

Cheesy Potatoes with Ham

Cheesy Potatoes with Ham – Submitted by Sonja B.

1/2 C chopped onion

2 cups sour cream

1 can condensed cream chicken soup ,

2 C shredded cheddar cheese,

1 (2 lbs) package frozen hashbowns thawed,

2 cups chopped ham,

salt & pepper to taste

ASSEMBLY let hash browns thaw in fridge just enough that they can be poured ( not frozen chunks)in with the other ingredients. In a large mixing bowl combine onion, sour cream, soup, cheese, salt & pepper, hash browns & ham Pieces. Mix well. Label freezer bag with cooking instructions. Freeze bag. Read to eat When ready to prepare, thaw potato mixture in fridge overnight. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour potato mixture into a 9 x 13 casserole dish. Bake at 350 for 45-60 minutes.

White Chicken Chili

WHITE CHICKEN CHILI – Submitted by Jess D.

2 cups shredded chicken

3 cups chicken broth

1 block cream cheese

1 cans chopped green chile

2 cans cannelini beans, drained

1 tsp. cumin

1/2 tsp oregano

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. black pepper

Simmer on stove top 30 minutes, or heat in crock pot on low 3-4 hours.

Balsamic Lemon Tilapia

Balsamic Lemon Tilapia – Submitted by Michele B.

5 tilapia filets 2 tbl 25 yr age balsamic vinegar 2 tbl Lemon insused ev00

Thaw filets in the fridge for 24 hours. Preheat oven to 425. Bake 15-30 minutes.

Fish is done when opaque throughout.

Turtle Pumpkin Pie

Turtle Pumpkin Pie – submitted by Jess L.

¼ c. plus 2T. carmel topping, divided

1 Grahm pie crust

1/2c. Plus 2T. pecan pieces, divided

1 cup cold milk

2 pkg. instant vanilla pudding

1 cup canned pumpkin

1t. ground cinnamon

½ t. ground nutmeg

1 tub 8oz cool whip, thawed, divided

Pour ¼ cup caramel topping into crust; sprinkle with ½ cup pecans.

Beat milk, dry pudding mixes pumpkin and spices with whisk until blended.  Stir in 1 ½ cup whipped topping.  Spread into crust.  Top with remaining cool whip.

Refrigerate 1 hour. Top with pecans and drizzle with remaining caramel with fork.  Store leftovers in refrigerator.

Makes 10 servings, one slice each.

Chicken Enchilada’s

Chicken Enchilada’s – submitted by Jess L.

1 rotisserie chicken (de-boned)

1 onion chopped

1 can green chilies

1t. cumin (or to taste)

1 bag shredded cheese, divided

Salt and pepper

1 large can enchilada sauce, divided

1 package tortilla’s

Mix chicken, onion, green chilies, cumin, and 1 cup cheese together. Pour in enough enchilada sauce to make mixture wet.

Swip tortilla’s through enchilada sauce and put some filling in the middle of tortilla, fold tortilla.  Makes about 12 large enchilada’s.  Put enchilada’s in pan and pour remaining sauce over the top, and top with remaining 1 cup cheese.

Bake 350 for 1 hour covered

Chicken Alfredo Roll-ups

Chicken Alfredo Roll-ups – Submitted by Sonia W.

8 lasagna noodles
2 ½ cups Alfredo sauce (optional homemade recipe below)
2 ½ cups cooked, shredded chicken
garlic salt
3 cups shredded Mozzarella, or cheese of your choice (plus additional for topping-optional)

Spray an 8×8 pan with non-stick spray and pour ½ cup Alfredo sauce, or just enough to cover the bottom of the pan. Boil 8-10 cups water in a large pan, cook lasagna noodles until al dente. (I usually cook 1 or 2 extra just because lasagna noodles always seem to break on me when I am stirring them.)

Now this is the important part! Drain and rinse the noodles with cold water to prevent them from sticking to each other. Then, lay out each noodle individually and blot dry with a paper towel.

Mix about 1 ½ cups of sauce, chicken and cheese together, add garlic salt an oregano to taste. Put about 1/3 cup of mixture on noodle and spread out. To roll up, start at one end and roll the noodle over the toppings. You will need to lift the noodle a little to prevent squishing out the inside ingredients while rolling.

Place the roll-ups in the pan, one by one, seam-side down so they don’t come undone. Once they are all in the pan, pour the remaining Alfredo sauce over the top. Top with cheese (optional). Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until heated through.

The Best Garlic Alfredo Sauce

1/2 cup butter
2 ounces cream cheese
2 cups heavy cream (or substitute half and half)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2  tsp. fresh minced garlic
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp dried oregano
2/3 cup Parmesan cheese

In a medium to large saucepan melt the butter over medium heat. Add fresh minced garlic and cook for 1 minute, or until fragrant. Add the cream cheese and whisk to smooth and melted. Whisk in the heavy cream.
Season with the garlic powder, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and whisk frequently until sauce thickens, around 15 minutes. Stir in the cheese and when melted, remove from heat and serve.

Makes 2 ½ cups

Credit: adapted from MMM…CAFE

Pecan Cheesecake Pie

Pecan Cheesecake Pie – Submitted by Sonia W.

1 refrigerated rolled pie crust (from a 15-ounce package)
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar, divided
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
4 eggs
1 cup corn syrup
1 1/4 cups chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 365 degrees F. Unroll pie crust and place in a 9-inch deep dish pie plate, pressing crust firmly into plate. (if you don’t have a deep pie dish you won’t be able to fit all the filling, I only fit 3/4 of the pecan filling in mine but they were still delicious)

In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1 egg. Beat at low speed until smooth; set aside.

In another medium bowl, beat 3 eggs. Add remaining sugar, the corn syrup, and remaining vanilla; mix well.

Spread cream cheese mixture in pie crust. Sprinkle with pecans and slowly pour corn syrup mixture over pecans.

Bake 45 to 55 minutes, or until center is set. Let cool, then refrigerate 4 hours or until ready to serve.