One of the things Jeremiah and I really enjoy doing is wine tasting. We like to go on little day trips as well as while we are on vacation. A few of our favorite places are Somerset Ridge (just past the Louisburg Cider Mill on the Miami County Wine Trail), Van Till Winery and Family Farm (great wood-fired pizzas on the weekends just outside of Excelsior Springs), and Windy Wine Company (east of St. Joseph off Hwy 36). Another little winery in downtown Weston actually got us to join their wine club.
The first winery Jeremiah and I visited together was Pirtle Winery – located in a historic church just off Main Street. Downtown Weston has lots of great shops. I love the community food pantry and charming kitty cat outside the photography shop. This little town really isn’t any bigger than where I grew up but really developed tourism around wine tasting, local food, unique shops, and B&B stays. Once a quarter, the Weston Wine Company host their monthly book club…aka an excuse to drink wine and pick-up your free bottle. In August, the book featured was “What to Eat with What You Drink.” You don’t need to buy or even read the book, they give you the Cliff Notes version during the event. Since the book was about pairings, they had matched each of their wines with a recipe. One of our favorites was the Italian Quesadilla served with a semi-sweet red (Radiant Cut Wine). At the winery, they sell a pepperoni cheese. I told Jeremiah that I thought we should buy a block and use it with fresh basil. Jeremiah says that kicked it up a bit. This is our take on this non-traditional quesadilla.
Italian Quesadilla by Weston Wine Company (modified by Amber Bourek Slater)
1 lb. ground Italian sausage (we used Scimeca’s turkey sausage)
1 apple (red preferred)
Grated Parmesan cheese
Shredded mozzarella cheese (or pepperoni cheese if you can find it)
Flour tortilla shells (we like high fiber Mission shells)
Dice the apple. Cook the ground sausage and apple. Cover half a tortilla shell with sausage mixture, basil, and cheeses. Fold over. Cook on medium for 3 minutes. Flip and cook an additional 1 ½ minutes (or until golden brown).
The other night, we made Lobster Ravioli with these tasty rolls. Our entire dinner was done in less than 30 minutes. Leftover rolls were also tasty.
Cheesy Garlic Crescent Rolls from Pinterest
1 can refrigerated crescent rolls
4 pieces mozzarella string cheese
2 T. melted butter
1 tsp. garlic bread seasoning
Cut each cheese in half. Open can of crescent rolls and separate into 8 triangles. Place a piece of cheese on each triangle and roll up. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with seasoning. Bake at 375 degrees for 15-18 minutes.
Note: Jeremiah created his own Italian seasoning topping instead. It was delicious.
My mother-in-law is the queen of biscuits and gravy. Nobody can even compete with her recipe. It sounds like she has been perfecting it over the last 30 years. I saw this recipe and wasn’t sure how my husband would feel about it. I made this delicious Biscuits and Gravy Casserole dish from an old coworker. He told me the jar country gravy was “too salty”. For this recipe, I made the McCormick Country Gravy. I think he was ok with this gravy in a dish that is very different than his mother’s original. We did like this dish but I think I like a few other breakfast recipes better like Breakfast Sliders, Weight Watchers Breakfast Quiche, Mini Maple Bacon Rolls, Creamy Biscuits, or Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Ring.
Hash Brown Lasagna from Pinterest
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
shredded hash brown potatoes
salt and pepper
McCormick Country Gravy packet prepared
1 Tsp. butter, melted
Bake bacon in the over at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Cook sausage according to package.
In the meantime, pour gravy packet into a medium pan. Slowly pour two cups of milk over mix while whisking. Cook over a medium heat to a boil, stirring frequently. Then, reduce your to low and simmer for 1 minute.
Spray 8 x 8 pan. In a bowl, mix hash browns, Parmesan cheese, salt & pepper, and eggs. Pour half of mixture into pan and even out. Top with a layer of cheese, gravy, and meats. Repeat with other cheese, gravy, and meats. Top with remaining remaining hash browns. Pour melted butter on top. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Cool slightly before cutting.
- I used a 13 x 9 pan because it appeared to be too much for the pan.
- I used skim milk to prepare my gravy mix. It cut the fat and salt in country gravy.
- I thawed the hash browns slightly in the microwave. This helped them break-up easier. Looking back, I wish I had baked the bottom layer for 10 minutes before topping to give me a slightly cruncher crust.
- I used turkey sausage.
- I only used four slices of bacon. I really couldn’t taste it so you either need to use more bacon or opt it out. Sausage can be an overwhelming meat flavor.
- The recipe suggested both mozzarella and cheddar. They suggested a prosciutto wrapped mozzarella and Velveeta cheese slices. I used shredded cheese. I’d suggest just mozzarella because I think it matches the flavors of the country gravy better.
- Make sure you have a lot of time to cook this recipe. I think I took me a good 40 minutes to prepare before backing.
- If I made it again, I think I might create a crust with something different like crescent rolls.
- Jar gravy and precooked meats can save you time.
In fall 2014, Jeremiah and I took our first class at the Culinary Center of Kansas City. I had wanted to go forever but just been able too. We took as tasting class called Drive Ins and Dinner Done Right. Aka – how to cook fried food. We made fried tacos, onion rings, and adult root beer floats (so good). We were so stuffed by the end of the night!
Our chef educator’s family used to own a restaurant. In fact, you may have seen her on television. She beat out thousands of chefs to appear on America’s Next Great Restaurant. She was very entertaining and had lots of great stories to share along with cooking tips.
The class was very hands on and we had to learn to cook with strangers. Jeremiah and I learned that we cook really well together. Unfortunately, we did not cook well with strangers. We were always the last group to finish. But in our defense, I think the other groups knew each other and our stove was clear on the other side of the room.
Jeremiah and I made this recipe once for his parents. It was a little liquidy when we made it the first time so we decided to cook our some of the juice this time. We liked it a little better this way. And to be quite honest, I don’t normally eat Sloppy Joes/taverns. It was also a hit with Jeremiah’s parents. The best part of the night though was Don offering to wash the dishes. If you know me at all, it’s one of my least favorite task.
Gipes (Italian Sloppy Joes) by Sandy Digiovanni
1 lb. of ground beef
1 onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
5 garlic cloves
¼ c. fresh parsley
¾ c. beef broth
1 can crushed tomatoes
slice fresh mozzarella cheese
a package of Ciabatta rolls
Brown the ground beef. Add onion and pepper. Cook 5-8 minutes. Add broth, tomatoes, 4 garlic cloves, and parsley. Cook on a higher heat to reduce liquid.
Mix remaining garlic, butter, and x. Spread on slice Ciabatta rolls. Top one side of the roll with cheese. Broil in oven for 2-3 minutes to melt. Top with meat and serve.
- We used smaller Ciabatta rolls and cut slices of cheese in half. It made 12 sandwiches.
- We used a yellow onion and green pepper. I think you could use whichever onion and pepper you wanted too.
- We used reduced sodium beef broth and dried parsley.
I recently decide to purchase and cook a spaghetti squash for the first time. I had tried a recipe at work that was pretty good and had a few others on Pinterest I wanted to cook. I thought I had heard Rachael Ray once say to put it in the microwave for a few minutes to make it softer so you cut it. I ended up cooking it that way because it was way faster. I’ll share with you two ways to cook this recipe. Using spaghetti squash in place of pasta is better for you. I think one half of a squash has only 40 calories. Plus, you get lots of natural vegetable vitamins.
You will be amazed just how much of this vegetable you can scrap out. A YouTube video I found also said they can last for 3-4 weeks on your counter before cooking too.
Spaghetti Squash Lasagna Bowls from Pinterest
2 small spaghetti squash, cut in half and seeded
1 T. oil
1 lb. of ground turkey
1 T. oil
1 onion, diced
2 gloves of garlic, chopped
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
½ tsp. fennel seeds, crushed
1 can of crushed tomatoes
1 T. tomato paste (optional)
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 bay leaf
½ tsp. paprika
1 T. balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
1 T. basil
1 c. low fat cottage cheese
1 T. basil
1 c. mozzarella
Bake squash face down for 30 minutes at 400 degrees. Meanwhile, cook your sauce. Fluff the inside of the squash. Stuff with cottage cheese and basil, then sauce, and top with shredded cheese. Broil for 2-3 minutes.
- I used a heart healthy jar sauce to save time. I also used ground beef instead of ground turkey.
- I cut ten slits in the squash and placed in a microwave dish. It was probably about 2 lb. so I cooked it for 12 minutes, flipping halfway through. I left it rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting open and de-seeding. I cut the ends off making it easier to slice open.
- Since the shell was too soft, I scraped out one side of the squash and placed in a baking dish and topped with ingredients. Then, I broiled it for three minutes.
Sure, who doesn’t love a traditional turkey dinner on Thanksgiving? In my family, that means both turkey and ham. My nephew prefers ham and my grandfather won’t eat bird meat. With six people eating this feast, it leaves a lot of leftovers. My question after eatting leftover for a day or two is: what else can I make with? Below is a recipe from the December2013/January 2014 issue of Taste of Home’s Simple and Delicious that my family will be trying.
Photo from Taste of Home website
Turkey Cordon Bleu Casserole by Kristine Blauert
2 c. uncooked elbow macaroni
2 cans cream of chicken soup
3/4 c. milk
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. prepared mustard
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. sage
2 c. cubed cooked turkey
2 c. cubed fully cooked ham
2 c. shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/4 c. crushed butter flavored crackers (I’m using Ritz – they are Brock’s fav)
Cook macaroni (or pasta of your choice) according to the package directions. Meanwhile, mix soup, milk, Parmesan cheese, mustard, and seasonsing together. Add meats and mozerella cheese. Drain pasta and add soup mixture. Pour into a 13 x 9 pan and top with crackers. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.
- You can cover and freeze this casserole. Thaw in the fridge overnight and bake as directed.
Ritz crackers are one of my nephew’s favorite snacks. I used leftover crackers from his visit to make this delicious looking recipe from Pinterest. If you like the flavors, I would suggest trying this breakfast recipe for Creamy Swiss Eggs on Biscuits.
Crispy Ritz Chicken
4 chicken breast
2 sleeves Ritz crackers, crushed
1/2 c. buttermilk (or milk)
2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese (or cheddar cheese)
1 tsp. dried parsley
1 can cream of chicken
3 T. sour cream
2 T. butter
Dip chicken in milk, then cheese, and finally crackers. Sprinkle with parsley. Cover and bake for 35 minutes at 400 degrees. Remove foil and bake an additional 10-15 minutes. In a small saucepan, melt cream of chicken, sour cream, and butter. Pour over baked chicken and sprinkle with parsley.
- I used reduced fat Ritz crackers, skim milk, and fat free cheddar cheese. Just remember that skim milk doesn’t stick as well to the chicken.
- I used 98% fat free cream of chicken and fat free sour cream. You could also substitute Greek yogurt.
- I served it with mashed potatoes. Chicken gravy also tastes good on them. I would suggest maybe a green side dish like spinach or asparagus as well. One of the Pinterest recipes suggests making cilantro lime rice to go with the chicken. I liked the home cooked meal approach.
- Another suggestion is to use the veggie flavored Ritz crackers.
When I saw this recipe on Pinterest, it looked so good. I decided to cook it on a day I was off from work. Stupidly, it hadn’t occurred to me just how many hours it takes to thaw a loaf of frozen bread. Luckily for me, I saw a quick thaw method on the back of the package that worked wonders. Did you know if you preheat your oven to 200 degrees, shut it off, than put a pan of boil water on the rack below your dough it thaws in about an hour?
Another cool trick I learned was to place the dough on parchment paper and cover with saran wrap before rolling the dough with a rolling pin. It really prevents half your dough sticking to the rolling pin.
This recipe is so good – it’s like combining your spaghetti and garlic bread together with gooey, melted cheese. Your favorite will leave the table stuffed after just one slice.
1 loaf of bread, thawed to room temperature
6 oz. spaghetti, cooked
1 c. marinara sauce
8 oz. mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2 in. cubes
1 egg white
Roll out dough to 12 x 16 inches and let sit for 10-15 minutes. Mix together spaghetti and sauce. Spread down center of dough. Top with cheese. Cut outside of dough 1 1/2 inches apart with 1/2 inch of filling. Braid bread crossing left to right til everything is covered. Brush with egg white. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and parsley. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.
- I added fresh basil and 1/2 lb. of ground beef to my recipe. You could easily change your recipe by using wheat bread dough, choosing a different flavor of spaghetti sauce, or added additional ingredients (mushrooms, garlic, oregano, sausage, etc.)
- I thought it was a little full but it baked out OK. The next time I make it, I might do 4-5 oz. of spaghetti though since I added other ingredients.
This is a recipe I made for a recent fundraiser. One of my friends said her two years would love these. The original recipe came from the Taste of Home website earlier this year.
Pepperoni Pinwheels by Vicki Rebholz
1/2 c. diced pepperoni
1/2 c. shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1 egg, separated
1 tube (8 oz.) refrigerated crescent rolls
In a small bowl, combine pepperoni, cheese, oregano, and egg yolk. Separate crescent rolls into four rectangles, sealing edges. Split mixture evenly between crescent rolls. Roll up jelly roll style and cut each into six pieces. Place on greased baking sheet. In a custard cup, whip egg white until foamy. Brush on top of circles. Bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm. Marinara dipping sauce is optional. Refrigerate leftovers.
Nutrition Facts: (Makes 2 dozen poppers) 1 serving (2 each) equals 122 calories, 8 g. fat (3 g. saturated