Tag Archives: Mara O.

Boston Market Squash Casserole

Boston Market Squash Casserole – submitted by Mara O.
4 1/2 cups zucchini, diced
4 1/2 cups yellow squash, diced
1 1/2 cups yellow onions, chopped
1 (6 ounce) boxes Jiffy corn muffin mix
3/4 cup butter
8 ounces cheddar cheese
3 chicken bouillon cubes
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
1. Prepare Jiffy Mix as directed on the box, set aside to cool.
2. Place zucchini and yellow squash in a large saucepan and add just enough of water to cover.
3. Cook on medium low heat just until tender, remove from heat.
4. Drain squash, reserve one cup of water for casserole.
5. On medium low temperature place all of the butter in large sauce pan and sauté the onions until the onions turn clear, add salt, pepper, thyme, and parsley.
6. Add chicken bouillon cubes and garlic to onions, stir.
7. Add drained squash and diced cheese, stir.
8. Crumble corn bread in squash and pour the reserved cup of water and mix well.
9. Place squash mixture in a 13×11″ baking pan that has been sprayed with a nonstick spray.
10. *This is the point I freeze mine can also be frozen in 2 small pans if desired. Then all you have to do is thaw when ready and cook!
11. Cover casserole and place in a preheated oven at 350°F.
12. Bake for 50minutes.
13. Remove cover the last 20 minutes of baking time.


Chicken Barley Soup

Chicken Barley Soup – submitted by Mara O.

5 Servings Prep: 30 min. + cooling Cook: 1 hour

1 broiler/fryer chicken (2 to 3 pounds), cut up
8 cups water
1-1/2 cups chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup medium pearl barley
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules
1 teaspoon salt, optional
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage

In a large stockpot, cook chicken in water until tender. Cool broth
and skim off fat. Set chicken aside until cool enough to handle.
Remove meat from bones; discard bones and cut meat into cubes.
Return meat to pan along with remaining ingredients. Bring to a
boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 1 hour or until vegetables
and barley are tender. Discard bay leaf. Yield: 5 servings (about
1-1/2 quarts).

Slow Cooker Chile Verde

Slow Cooker Chile Verde – submitted by Mara O.

1.5 lbs. Pork, cubed

1 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Pepper
1 onion slivered
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 16 oz. jar La Victoria Salsa Verde
1/2 cup water

To prepare: Add all ingredients to the slow cooker and cook on high for 6 hours or low for 8 hours. Remove and shred the pork and return back to the cooker. Serve over rice or potatoes. Add cheese, sour cream, raw onion or taco chips for variety.

Basmati Rice
1.5 cups rice
3 cups water

Place ingredients into microwavable bowl. Cook for 7.5 minutes in the microwave, stir and place in microwave for 7 minutes.

If you don’t like the microwave… Sorry. I’m sure you can find some stove-top directions.



Serves: 12
2 red bell peppers
2 green bell peppers
1 jalapeno or 2 chipotle peppers (optional – just for more kick) I left it out for MN tastebuds.
½ red onion
2 cups frozen corn
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoon cumin
salt to taste (about 1 teaspoon is a good ballpark measure)
2 cups Mexican cheese (mine was a Sargento blend)
18-20 corn tortillas
1 can refried beans
2 cups red enchilada sauce
I added ground turkey. If your husband is anything like mine, we can’t have meatless meals. I mixed the cooked ground turkey with the beans.
cilantro, guacamole, or sour cream for topping
Roast the veggies: Dice the peppers and mince the onions. Heat a large nonstick skillet with NO oil over high heat. Add the onion and peppers, sprinkle with chili and cumin, and do not stir. This allows the peppers to roast and brown on the outside. After a few minutes, give the pan a shake or stir and let the peppers sit again for a few more minutes without stirring. Remove and set aside. Repeat the roasting process with the corn, sprinkling with chili and cumin, removing from the heat when browned and roasted on the outside. Sprinkle the roasted veggies with a little bit of salt and toss to coat.
Prep the ingredients: Grease a 9×13 inch baking pan and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the tortillas into thin strips. Put the refried beans in a bowl and mix with a little bit of water to make them easier to spread.

Toffee Bars

Toffee Bars – submitted by Mara O.

Prep Time

10 Minutes

Total Time 1:15

Makes 32 bars


1 cup butter or margarine, softened

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 egg yolk

2 cups Gold Medal® all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon salt

2/3 cup milk chocolate chips

½ cup chopped nuts, if desired


Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, mix butter, brown sugar, vanilla and egg yolk. Stir in flour and salt. Press in ungreased rectangular pan, 13x9x2 inches.

Bake bars 25 to 30 minutes or until very light brown (crust will be soft). Immediately sprinkle chocolate chips on hot crust. Let stand about 5 minutes or until chocolate is soft; spread evenly. Sprinkle with nuts.

Cool bars 30 minutes in pan on wire rack. For bars, cut into 8 rows by 4 rows.

Makes 32 bars

Egg Tagliatelle with Ham and Peas

Egg Tagliatelle with Ham and Peas – submitted by Mara O.

(or Tailgate Pasta for Rochelle)

Makes: 4 servings


Salt and pepper

1 pound egg tagliatelle

3 tablespoons EVOO

4 tablespoons butter

2 large shallots, chopped

2 large cloves garlic, chopped

1/4 pound mild ham, cut into 1/8-inch cubes

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup heavy cream

Freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 cup thawed frozen peas or blanched fresh peas

3 – 4 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon

Grated parmgiano-reggiano, for tossing and topping


Bring a pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.

While the pasta is working, in a large skillet, heat the EVOO, 3 turns of the pan, over medium heat. Add the butter to melt until foaming. Add the shallots and garlic and cook for 2 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Add the ham and cook until lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes.

Stir the wine into the ham mixture and cook, swirling, to reduce by half. Stir in the cream and season with nutmeg. Stir in the peas and tarragon. Remove the sauce from the heat.

Add the pasta and some cheese to the sauce; toss, stirring in the reserved cooking water to thin the consistency if desired. Season with salt and pepper and top with more cheese.

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: http://www.inspiredtaste.net/23801/no-fail-blondies-recipe/#ixzz2kMjOETQ5

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 http://www.simplyrecipes.com

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

Homemade Fresh Salsa

Homemade Fresh Salsa – Submitted by Mara O.

6 Large Tomatoes (I peel the tomatoes. Dip tomatoes in boiling water for a few seconds and the skin should peel off easily)

1 seeded Jalapeno

1 Jalapeno

1 onion quartered

3 Cloves Garlic

Juice from 1/2 Lime

Tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 cup of washed cilantro


In a food processor or blender, add tomatoes except for one to it blend until those are very small pieces. Add the onion and garlic and blend. Add salt, lime juice and cumin. Blend until smooth (about 15 seconds).

Add the last of the tomato, the last of the tomato and the cilantro. Pulse a few times just to slightly chop those items. Makes for a chunky salsa. Pulse a few more times for smoother salsa.

Chipotle’s Basmati Rice Recipe

Chipotle’s Basmati Rice Recipe – Submitted by Mara O.

1 teaspoon vegetable oil or butter

2 tsp. fresh cilantro

2/3 cup white basmati rice

1 cup water

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 Lime

In a 2-quart heavy saucepan, heat oil or butter over low heat, stirring occasionally until melted. Add rice and lime juice, stir for 1 minute. Add water and salt; bring to a full rolling boil. At boiling, cover, turn down to simmer over low heat until rice is tender and the water is absorbed, about 25 minutes. Fluff rice with a fork. (I added my homemade salsa in your rice. I figured it would be better than how I usually do it at home. I make it like the recipe listed above but I add diced onion).

White Chicken Enchiladas

White Chicken Enchiladas – Submitted by Mara O.


10 large flour tortillas (I use La Banderita)

4 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese

1 tablespoon plus 1 cup fat-free milk, divided

1 tablespoon taco seasoning

4 cups cubed cooked chicken breast

1 can (10-3/4 ounces) reduced-fat reduced-sodium condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted

1 cup (8 ounces) fat-free sour cream

1 can diced green chilies

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese


In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese, 1 tablespoon milk and cumin until smooth. Stir in chicken. In another bowl, combine the soup, sour cream, green chilies, cayenne and remaining milk. Stir 2 tablespoons soup mixture into chicken mixture. Place 1/3 cup of chicken mixture down the center of each tortilla; roll up.

Place seam side down in a 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish coated with cooking spray. Top with remaining soup mixture. Cover and bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until heated through. Uncover; sprinkle with cheese. Bake 5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Yield: 6 servings.

Serve with Chipotle’s Basmati Rice Recipe (10/8/2013) and Homemade Fresh Salsa (10/8/2013)