Sunday, December 30, 2012

Crock Pot Taco Dip

Someone Toby works with brought this to a work pitch-in one time & he asked for the recipe. It's good & it  makes a fairly large batch. It's a great New Year's Eve party idea if you are still planning your menu :)

Crock Pot Taco Dip

3 lbs hamburger, cooked & drained
2 pkgs taco seasoning
8 oz cream cheese, cubed
2 lbs. Velveeta cheese, cubed
2 large or 4 small jars of Pace Chunky Salsa (or your favorite salsa)

Add taco seasoning to hamburger & mix well.
In a 6 qt crock pot, add salsa, hamburger & both cheeses.
Heat til melted & serve with tortilla chips.

Olive Garden Toscana Soup

My bestie, Steph, came across this recipe somewhere & made it for me while we were studying for a nursing final one semester. So, I haven't actually made it myself, but I have eaten it & it is every bit as delicious as the Olive Garden version (if not better)!

Olive Garden Toscana Soup

2-3/4 cup chicken stock or broth
1/4 cup heavy cream
1-2 medium russet potatoes
2 cups chopped kale
1/2 lb. of spicy Italian sausage
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Combine the stock & cream in a saucepan over medium heat
Slice the unpeeled potato into 1/4 in. slices, then quarter the slices & add to soup
Add the kale
Grill or saute the sausage. When cooked & cooled, cut the sausage at an angle into slices about 1/2 in. thick. Add the sausage to the soup
Add the spices and let the soup simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally.

Serves 4 as an appetizer or 2 as an entree.
(I think Steph doubled it when she made it for 3 of us & she had leftovers for their dinner that night.)

**I've seen some versions of this that add bacon pieces & since bacon is like cheese to me (as in it makes everything better :) , I wouldn't be opposed to throwing in some bacon pieces.**

Grandma Ann's Shepard's Pie

When Toby & I first got married, I was always looking for budget friendly yet delicious meals. Funny, almost 15 years later, I'm still looking for the same thing :) Anyway, my Grandma Ann raised 7 kids (5 of which were boys) so I knew if there was anyone who could tell me how to cook on a budget it was her. This is one of the 1st recipes she gave me. I haven't made it in ages, but I came across it the other day & I think it is definitely worth sharing.

Grandma Ann's Shepard Pie

3-4 lbs. ground round (I think if I was to make this today, I'd try to cut this back to 1.5-2 lbs.)
6 cans of vegetarian vegetable soup (drain 3 of the cans)

mashed potatoes

Layer in a 9 x 13 baking dish in order of:
veg. soup (3 cans)
veg. soup (3 cans)
put mashed potatoes on top

Bake at 375 for about 45 minutes.

**I think in this original recipe the beef was uncooked as it went into the dish. If I was to make this today, I think I'd precook the meat & cut down on the baking time. I've also seen this made & topped with cheese which I would definitely give a try. I love cheese :) **

Homemade Pizza

One of Toby's favorite meals I make is my homemade pizza. It's easily adaptable to whatever your family likes on their pizza.

Homemade Pizza

1-2 pkgs of pizza crust
1 lb. ground beef, cooked & drained
green peppers, chopped
2 cans mushrooms, drained
onions, chopped
banana peppers
1/2-1 jar of spaghetti sauce
1 pkg of bacon pieces
1-2 pkgs of pizza cheese

Prepare pizza crust according to package directions. Press into 15 x 10 x 1 baking sheet/pan. (You could also prepare this on a round pizza stone, but I've always made it in my old handy dandy metal baking pan).

Put crust into oven (at whatever temperature package directions state) & allow to cook until mostly done.

Remove from oven & spread with spaghetti sauce. Then layer beef on top of sauce & add other toppings in layers. Top with cheese.

Return to oven & cook until heated through & cheese is melted.

Mushroom Salisbury Steaks

This is a yummy meal in which the main meat is made in the microwave. I usually serve it with mashed potatoes, but you can also serve it over egg noodles.

Mushroom Salisbury Steak
From Quick Cooking Magazine, Sept/Oct 1999

Photo from
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 cans (10-1/2 oz) beef consomme, undiluted
1 jar (6 oz) mushrooms, drained
4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp dried basil
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup soft bread crumbs
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2-1 tsp seasoned salt
1/4 tsp pepper, optional
1-1/2 lbs. ground beef

Hot mashed potatoes or cooked egg noodles.

In a bowl, combine cornstarch & beef consomme until smooth.
Stir in mushrooms, Worcestershire sauce & basil; set aside
In another bowl, combine egg, bread crumbs, onion, seasoned salt and pepper (if desired)
Add beef & mix well.
Shape into size oval patties; place in a shallow 1-1/2 qt microwave safe dish.
Cover & microwave on high for 6 minutes; drain.
Turn patties, moving the ones in the center to the outside of the dish.
Pour consomme mixture over patties.
Cover & microwave on high for 8-10 minutes or until meat is no longer pink.
Let stand for 5 minutes.
Serve with potatoes or noodles.

Makes 6 servings.

Tator Tot Casserole

This is another one that I've had since Livi was little. It's one of those meals that kids just seem to like. Maybe it's the tator tots on top....I'm not sure...We usually eat it with a little A-1 or ketchup on the side :)

Tator Tot Casserole

1 lb. ground beef
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 (2 lb.) bag frozen tator tots
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (I always use more because we like cheese :)

Optional: add fresh or frozen peas &/or chopped carrots (I usually add peas or a package of frozen mixed vegetables)

Cook ground beef & drain.
Put cooked ground beef into bottom of a greased 13 x 9 x 2 pan.
Spread soup over meat.
Add vegetables if using.
Cover with cheese.
Top with tator tots.

Cover & bake at 350 for 45 min. Then uncover and bake another 15 min.

Chicken Quesadillas

These make a great lunch or lighter supper.

Chicken Quesadillas
(From Taste of Home Magazine, Aug/Sept. 1999)

2-1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken
2/3 cup salsa
1/3 cup sliced green onions
3/4-1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried oregano
6 flour tortillas (8" size)
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 cups (8 oz) shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Sour cream & guacamole, optional

In a skillet, combine the first 6 ingredients. Cook, uncovered, over medium heat for 10 minutes or until heated through, stirring occasionally.

Brush one side of the tortillas with butter.

Spoon 1/3 cup chicken mixture over half of unbuttered side of each tortillas. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup cheese; fold plain side of tortilla over cheese.

Place on a lightly greased baking sheet.
Bake at 475 for 10 minutes or until crisp and golden brown.

Cut into wedges; serve with sour cream & guacamole, if desired.

Makes 6 servings.