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Friday, August 29, 2014

Family Favorite Friday: Best-Ever Lasagna

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb ground Italian sausage
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 T basil
  • 1 (14 oz) can stewed tomatoes
  • 2 small cans tomato paste
  • 1 box lasagna noodles, cooked and drained (~9)
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 2 cups cottage cheese
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 T dried parsley
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
Cooking Directions
  1. Brown beef and sausage together.
  2. Drain.
  3. Add garlic and basil.
  4. Stir.
  5. Add tomatoes and tomato paste.
  6. Mix together and simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  7. In a bowl, mix together cottage cheese, eggs, parsley and parmesan cheese.
  8. Layer everything in a 9 x 13 pan. (Noodles, sauce, cottage cheese mixture, mozzarella, etc.)
  9. Bake at 350° for about 30-40 minutes or until bubbly.
Holly’s Note:
My sister got this recipe from jr. high school home ec. I make the sauce alone, tripling the recipe, and then freeze it in bags with my foodsaver and use it as spaghetti sauce. My family prefers it over any canned or jar sauce. I make a 9x9 pan for our family and then freeze a 9x9 pan for later.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

You Can't Buy Happiness but...

As my Grandma would say, "There is always room for ice cream because it melts down and fills in all the nooks and crannies."

Monday, August 25, 2014

Yummy Vanilla Cupcakes

Printable Recipe:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 t vanilla
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 2 cups sour cream
Cooking Directions
  1. In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  2. In a separate mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together.
  3. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
  4. Add the vanilla and mix well.
  5. Add the flour mixture to creamed mixture alternately with sour cream (batter will be thick).
  6. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups with about 1/4 cup of batter (I just used my large cookie scoop).
  7. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
Makes about 30 cupcakes

Vanilla Frosting

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 2 T vanilla
  • 2-4 T half and half
Cooking Directions
  1. Beat butter and vanilla until creamy.
  2. Add salt.
  3. Add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, beating until combined.
  4. Add half and half 1 tablespoon at a time until you reach desired consistency.
Makes enough to frost the entire batch of Vanilla Cupcakes with a bit extra.

These are also amazing with Homemade Chocolate Frosting.

Holly's Notes:
I found the original recipe at Baked Perfection.  I've been searching for a homemade vanilla cake recipe that isn't overly sweet and this one just about fits the bill.  The frosting recipe called for 3 Tablespoons of vanilla, but 2 was plenty for me.  I also used half and half instead of milk in the frosting.  These were a hit with The Doctor, especially since he can't have chocolate.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Family Friendly Friday: Raspberry Jam

One of the best perks of summer is the canning and one of my favorite things to make is Raspberry Jam.  I love opening a jar of this red deliciousness and putting it on toast.

5 cups crushed raspberries
7 cups sugar
1 box dry pectin

Bring your boiling-water canner about half full with water, to simmer. Wash jars and screw bands in hot soapy water; rinse with warm water. (I leave my jars in the canner until I need them.) Pour boiling water over flat lids in saucepan. Let stand in hot water until ready to use. Drain jars well before filling.

Wash and crush raspberries. Mash one cup at a time, using a potato masher. Dump prepared fruit into 6- or 8-qt. sauce pot.

Stir pectin into prepared fruit in sauce pot. Bring mixture to full rolling boil (a boil that doesn't stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in sugar. Return to a full rolling boil and boil 1 to 4 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam.

Immediately ladle into prepared jars, filling to within 1/8 inch of tops. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with two-piece lids. Screw bands tightly. Place jars on elevated rack in canner. Lower rack into canner. (Water must cover jars by 1 to 2 inches. Add boiling water if necessary.) Cover; bring water to gentle boil. Process 10-15 min. Remove jars and place upright on a towel to cool completely. After jars cool, check seals by pressing middles of lids with finger. (If lids spring back, lids are not sealed and refrigeration is necessary.)

Holly's Note: 
I usually just follow the recipe that is inside the box of pectin. They vary just slightly from brand to brand, but the basic is like this one.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Sometimes you just need Peanut Butter

Image Source

And sometimes, you need to take that giant spoon of peanut butter and dip it into a little cup of chocolate chips.  Just sayin'!

Monday, August 18, 2014


Printable Recipe

  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup tomato juice (I just fill the tomato sauce can with water and call it good)
  • 1 1/2 T Worchestershire sauce
  • 1 T brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 T vinegar
  • 2 T liquid smoke
  • 1 T chili powder
  • 1 T smoked paprika
  • 1 T cumin
  • 2 cups water
  • 5 slices bacon, cooked and diced
  • 1 - 1 1/2 T minced garlic
  • Pinch Roasted Red Pepper flakes to taste
Cooking Directions
  1. In a skillet, cook the bacon and onion until done.
  2. Drain and set aside.
  3. In a soup pot, brown the ground beef.
  4. Drain.
  5. Add the remaining ingredients, including the bacon and onion mixture and simmer for several hours.
  6. You can also cook it all together and then dump it in the crock pot so it simmers until you're ready to eat.
Serve over Rice Pilaf.

Holly's Note:
The Doctor wanted chili one night and I didn't really have a chili recipe to use.  He really likes Texas Roadhouse chili though and while this one isn't exactly like that, it gave me an idea to start with.  I took my Sloppy Joe/Western Burger recipe and modified it by eliminating the can of chili, and adding bacon, smoked paprika, cumin, garlic and some roasted red pepper.  It turned out really well and is one of our new favorite meals.  The Doctor likes to have his chili over rice, so I also cooked up a batch of Rice Pilaf and use beef broth instead of chicken.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Family Favorite Friday: Chocolate Chip Cookies

This continues to be our tried and true favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe.  I've tried others that are good, but this one is hands-down, our absolute favorite.

Printable Recipe

2/3 c. shortening
2/3 c. butter
2 eggs
3 c. flour
1 pkg. (2 cups) chocolate chips
1 c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar
2 t. vanilla
1 t. baking soda
½ t. salt

Cream shortening and butter with sugar, eggs and vanilla. Add dry ingredients and chocolate chips. Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes.

Holly’s Note:
This is a Betty Crocker recipe that we’ve had forever. My mom had a red recipe box full of Betty Crocker recipe cards, and this recipe came from that box. I know other people like Toll House Cookies or Mrs. Fields, but I’ve never found one that I like better than these. They’re really good with butterscotch chips, too. Sometimes I like to do a blend of chocolate, vanilla and butterscotch chips.

The dough freezes really well.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Monday, August 11, 2014

Raspberry Pudding Parfaits

Printable Recipe

2 cups of crushed vanilla wafers
1 small box vanilla pudding
1 3/4 cup cold milk
1/2 carton of Cool Whip
1 bag (12 oz) frozen raspberries or about 2 cups fresh
1/4-1/2 cup sugar, to taste

Crush the vanilla wafers until you have about 2 cups of crumbs.  Place raspberries in a sauce pan, add sugar and stir over medium heat until you have a raspberry sauce, stirring constantly, about 5-7 minutes.  If you want, you can add a small cornstarch/water mixture for thickening.  Remove from heat, let cool.

Blend pudding and milk together for about 4 minutes.  Let sit for about 5 minutes until thickened.  Stir in Cool Whip.

In parfait glasses, layer cookie crumbs, pudding and raspberry sauce.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Top with extra Cool Whip and vanilla wafers.

Serves ~6-8

Holly's Note:
I don't remember when I came up with this recipe, but it's The Doctor's favorite.  He loves it.  It's relatively easy and makes a lovely presentation for company.

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Friday, August 8, 2014

Family Favorite Friday: Stuffed Meat Shells

I think this recipe originally came off a box of American pasta.  It's one my mom used to make and it's one that I still make today.  My family loves it.  

1 box large pasta shells
1 lb ground beef
1 lb bulk sausage
4 eggs
1 cup flavored dry bread crumbs
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup finely chopped onion
3/4 t. oregano
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
3 cups (about a 28 oz jar) Pasta sauce (or a double batch of homemade Marinara sauce)
grated Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta, drain. Cook sausage and beef together until no longer pink. Drain. Mix with eggs, bread crumbs, cheese, onion, and spices. Pour some sauce into the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan. Fill each shell with the meat mixture. Put the filled shells in the pan. Cover with the rest of the pasta sauce. Sprinkle with Parmesan and bake at 375 for about 35-40 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

Serves 6.

Holly's Note:
These freeze well. (Thaw them and then add the sauce and bake as directed.) Serve with salad and garlic bread.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Portobello Mushroom Fajitas

Printed Recipe

~3-4 Bell Peppers
1 medium Onion
~4-5 Large Portobello Mushrooms
~2 T Olive Oil
Fajita Seasoning or a blend of cumin, paprika and garlic powder, or chili powder, taco seasoning, whatever you like.

Slice the peppers, onion and mushrooms. Keep them somewhat thick

Pour olive oil into skillet and heat.  Add vegetables and seasonings and saute for about 10-15 minutes or until done to your preference.

Serve with warm tortillas or over rice.

This serves 3-4.

Holly's Note:
My husband found the original recipe at Bhavna's Kitchen through a video on YouTube.  It's become one of our favorites.  The original recipe doesn't show up on the website, but you can watch the video.  The original recipe used green peppers, but I abhor green peppers, so I use a blend of red, yellow and orange.  I also eliminated the cilantro from the original recipe, because I'm not a big cilantro fan.  This is a "to taste" recipe. You need as many vegetables as you have people, you season it to taste and you cook it until it's done, but not soggy.  How's that for vague?

Friday, August 1, 2014

Family Favorite Friday: Cocoa Brownies

This is one of the first recipes I shared on this blog.  It's still the brownie recipe I make most often.  I haven't found a basic brownie recipe yet that beats this one!

Printable Recipe

1 c. sugar
½ c. butter, softened
1 t. vanilla
2 eggs
2/3 c. flour (I use 1/3 white and 1/3 wheat)
½ c. cocoa
½ t. baking powder
1 c. chocolate chips (optional)

Mix it all together. Spread into a greased 8-inch pan. Bake 25-30 minutes at 350.

Holly’s Note* (amended):
This recipe is better than boxed brownies and easier. I haven't used a boxed brownie mix in years. Good for an unexpected dessert. Really good with vanilla ice cream and hot fudge. It's even better when you add in a cup of chocolate chips. Try it with Hershey's Special Dark chips. Yum!!