Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Hamburger Potato Casserole

Many of you know this dish as Shepherd's Pie. When I was growing up, we always called it Hamburger Potato Casserole. For me, this is a go-to winter warming dish, and I always look forward to it as the weather turns cool. The version I grew up eating is a bit different than most, as it doesn't have a tomato based sauce or gravy in it like most recipes I've seen. I've tweaked it a little bit since I've started cooking it myself, adding in some extra seasonings. This is another recipe that can be adjusted to your personal tastes, making it with less meat and more veggies if desired.

Hamburger Potato Casserole
  • 1 pound hamburger
  • 10 medium potatoes, mashed
  • 3 to 3 1/2 cups vegetables (fresh, canned or frozen)
  • Seasonings to taste (I used salt, pepper, chili powder, garlic)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brown hamburger in a pan, drain if needed. Mix in your desired seasonings at this time. Place the hamburger in a casserole dish, add in vegetables and stir. Top with the prepared mashed potatoes. Bake for approximately 30 minutes at 350 degrees (I like just a little bit of crispness on the top of my potatoes).

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Broccoli and Cauliflower Soup

Last fall I bought The Big Book of Soups & Stews by Maryana Vollstedt. DH and I love soups, and this is a great book with a good variety of soup recipes. This time out, I decided to make Broccoli and Cauliflower Soup, with just a few minor changes. I made these changes because: 1) I almost never make a recipe exactly as it is written (unless it's baking). 2) I like the taste of veggies that have been sauteed before going into the soup. 3) Everything tastes better with bacon. This is a good soup, but not a stand-alone meal. We ate it with grilled cheese sandwiches. The recipe follows, with my changes in italics.

Broccoli and Cauliflower Soup

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped broccoli florets (I used the entire head, not just the florets)

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped cauliflower florets

  • 2 large russet potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and cubed

  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion (I used the half a sweet onion I had sitting in the fridge)

  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock or broth (I used a full can, about 2 cups)

  • 2 cups milk

  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • Freshly ground pepper to taste

  • 1 tablespoon butter or margarine (optional)

  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for topping (I didn't use this)

  • 1 pound center cut bacon, cut into bite-size pieces

In a soup pot, fry bacon pieces until crisp. Remove to paper towel lined plate, leaving fat in the pot. Add vegetables to soup pot, saute for approximately 5 minutes over medium-high heat. Add 1 cup of the stock to the pot and bring to a boil (1 cup didn't seem enough to simmer the veggies in, I added the full two cups at this time). Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until tender, about 15 minutes. Add milk, remaining 1/2 cup stock, thyme, salt, pepper, and butter, if using, and simmer, uncovered, until ingredients are blended, about 10 minutes. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with cheese (I topped with the bacon pieces instead).

I labeled this recipe as vegetarian, because if you omit the bacon and use a vegetable stock instead of the chicken stock, you can easily make this into a vegetarian dish.

Please excuse my photos, I have resigned myself to the fact that I probably won't get a decent photo of dinner until spring. It's dark before dinner here, and we live in the woods making it even darker. So fluorescent lighting and a flash it is.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Stuffed Pepper Casserole

Stuffed peppers were always a big hit in our house, but the leftovers were a lot of work since whole peppers take forever to reheat in the microwave. After chopping up my pepper to reheat one day I got to thinking that I could just make it that way to start with. And Stuffed Pepper Casserole was born. This is a very simple and very forgiving recipe. This time around we went heavy on the veggies and light on the meat. You can just as easily double the meat for a heartier meal. You'll notice that there are no seasonings in this dish. That's because we use home-canned tomatoes, which are so delicious they're all the flavor you need. If you use commercially canned tomatoes you may want to play around with some herbs and spices.

Stuffed Pepper Casserole
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1 quart stewed tomatoes, divided
  • 3-4 medium green peppers, chopped into large bite-size pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups instant white rice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix beef, half of the tomatoes, green peppers and rice in a large bowl with hands. Put into a casserole dish. Dump the remaining tomatoes on top. Bake for approximately 1 hour, or until you get a thermometer reading of 160 degrees.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

My First Blog Post Ever

I feel all hip and current now. lol

First, an explanation. My husband is a professional firefighter. Whenever I make a new recipe and we end up with way to many (insert tasty treat here) for the two of us to eat, all the extras go to work with him. It's a great way to try new things without the worry of something going to waste.

I wasn't sure how I wanted to start this blog. Did I want to just start typing in all our favorite recipes and add pictures as I made them? Or did I want to add recipes as I cook them?

I decided that I will be adding the recipes as they're made. I figure this gives me a good reason to go back and re-make some favorites that we may not have had for a while.

There will be a little bit of everything in this blog. I love to cook and try new recipes. Just recently I've started baking more and have realized it's a lot easier than I ever thought it was. I will also occasionally try to include baby food recipes, as I will start cooking for my son in just a couple of weeks (I can't believe he's almost six months old already!).

I'm looking forward to sharing some of our favorite recipes on here!