pioneer woman posted her recipe for acorn squash today.

i did mine months ago.

i finally beat her at something.

although hers does look much yummier, eh?


real simple's baked ziti

my friend jen is very cool. we met in albuquerque right after her mission to korea. we were both working as interns at sandia labs that summer and became fast friends. we lost touch after i attended her baby shower 3 years ago, and recently decided to look her up. i was shocked to discover she lives in clinton, about 3 miles from me. she invited me to her house one night to make this tomato sauce from real simple. i was so excited to go! everyone who came was supposed to bring 6 pounds of tomatoes, and we would make the sauce and eat and have fun, then take some home to freeze. i ended up not being able to go, but still took over my tomatoes, and jen brought over two tupperwares full of sauce. it was SO good. i highly recommend it, especially if somebody else does all the work! i think the party idea is fun too, because you can print out cute labels from real simple and even little recipe booklets. fun.

so this is a recipe from real simple based on this tomato sauce recipe, but you can also use a jarred tomato sauce if you don't want to go to all the trouble of making it. let's get started.

you will need 12 ounces of ziti pasta, 2 cups fresh tomato sauce (or jarred pasta sauce), 1 bunch fresh spinach, 1 cup grated mozzarella, 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, and 1/2 cup ricotta. start by washing a bunch of spinach.
then tear off the stems. i actually just cut mine. probably wasteful but much faster.

cook your ziti according to package directions until al dente. i used a large saucepot, but it wasn't big enough. i recommend using your biggest soup pan, because you end up adding everything in here.when finished, drain into a collander.

and then put it back into your pot.
add your sauce, 1/2 cup of ricotta,
your spinach (i could only put in about half a bunch because i simply didn't have room for more, but it would have been better with the full amount of spinach).
1/4 cup of parmesan cheese,
and mix.

then pour the mixture into a 9x13 pan or 4 large ramekins. i don't have ramekins big enough but i think that would be so cute and fun for a party or small get-together.
and spread out evenly.
sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup of mozzarella cheese
and 1/4 cup of parmesan.
oooh, pretty.
bake in a 400* oven for 15-20 minutes, until cheese has melted.
so easy and so delish.
baked ziti with fresh tomato sauce and spinach
12 ounces ziti (about 4 cups)
2 cups fresh tomato sauce (or jarred pasta sauce)
1 bunch spinach, thick stems discarded
1/2 cup fresh ricotta
1/2 cup grated parmesan (2 ounces)
1 cup grated mozzarella (4 ounces)

heat oven to 400*. cook the pasta according to package directions (in your very biggest pot). drain and return pasta to the pot. add the sauce, spinach, ricotta, and 1/4 cup of parmesan to the pasta and mix to combine. spread the mixture in a 9x13 baking dish or 4 large ramekins. bake until pasta is heated through and cheese has melted, 15 to 20 minutes.


some magazine's breakfast casserole

i've posted this recipe before, but i thought i'd post the pictures for kicks. this recipe is very imprecise. is that even a word? well, i just made it up if it's not. you heard it here first. this is something that you just kind of throw together and BOY is it delicious. let's get started.

you'll need a package of frozen hashbrowns, sausage or ham (i used sausage here), green chile, chopped green pepper (i did not use either of these things because i didn't have them on hand, but don't let that stop you), onion, salt & pepper, ground mustard, eggs, whipping cream, and tomatoes.

start by dicing your onion (or more, if you're so inclined)...for instructions on dicing an onion, pioneer woman does it best. check it out here.
spray a square or 9x13 pan with pam. now here comes the impreciseness of it. pour some hashbrowns into the pan. how much you ask? i have no idea. some. fill it up about halfway, or maybe a little more. for a square pan, i use about half a package of hashbrowns.
now layer with your diced onions. on top of the onions you can add chopped green pepper and/or mushrooms as well.
and then the good stuff. this isn't in the original recipe, but if you're from new mexico, you'll understand. green chile just makes everything better. use hatch.
and spread those on good.
now chop your meat. i use sausage because dave loves it, but ham is just as good. i like to use the jimmy dean already cooked links, because that way you just chop and throw 'em in. but you could also use the tube of sausage and brown it like you would hamburger and add it that way. either way, the sausage should be cooked.
layer that on top of the green chiles.
next comes cheese. mmmmm, check out that mountain of cheese. my kids cannot resist a mountain of cheese like that. it disappears quickly.
add as much cheese as you like on top of the meat. i add lots, probably about a cup for a square pan.

now for the eggs. for a square pan, use 4 eggs. for 9x13, i use 6. crack them into a bowl,
then add 1/4 cup of whipping cream for every 2 eggs you use (4 eggs = 1/2 cup, 6 eggs = 3/4 cup)

then add this stuff. i have no idea how much, because the recipe doesn't say. it just says to add it. i have no idea what it's for or even what it tastes like, but who am i to dispute the all-knowing recipe writers? so i add some. a few shakes worth.like this. and i add salt & pepper here too.
then use a fork and mix together well.
now pour this on top of your cheesiness.
like this. get it around the edges, and do it slowly so that it doesn't overflow over the side of your pan. let it sink inbetween the meat and potatoes.
now start slicing your tomato. for a square pan, 1 tomato is probably enough, but not for a 9x13. have two on hand just in case.

i do NOT like tomatoes. at all. but they are SO SERIOUSLY DELICIOUS on this casserole. even if tomatoes is on your list of throw-up foods, ADD IT. you will not be sorry. lay your tomatoes evenly over the top of the casserole.

like this. isn't it pretty?
one more picture for good measure.

yep, pretty.

now toss it in a 350* oven for an hour. the recipe says 45-55 minutes, but that's never enough time. you want a knife inserted in the center to come out clean. sometimes i turn my oven up to 375* for the last 15 minutes. sometimes i don't. whatever.

here's the finished product:

it doesn't last long around here. i make this for dinner sometimes just for fun, but it's really fun to do for a sunday brunch or christmas morning. we make it the night before and put it in the fridge, then pop it in the oven first thing in the morning.enjoy!!

some random magazine's breakfast casserole (with additions by me):
frozen hash browns
green chile
sausage or ham
chopped green pepper (i don't add these 'cause i don't like 'em)
sliced mushrooms (i don't add these 'cause dave doesn't like 'em)
grated cheddar cheese
tomatoes, sliced
whipping cream
ground mustard

choose your pan size, and pour frozen hash browns into the bottom--lots of them. then layer diced onions, green chile, green pepper, mushrooms, ham or sausage, and then add cheese (as much as you want). in a separate bowl mix eggs and whipping cream: use 1/4 cup of whipping cream for every 2 eggs. add to that mixture salt, pepper, and ground mustard to taste. i use 4 eggs for a square pan, 5 or 6 for a 9x13. pour the egg mixture on top of the casserole and add sliced tomatoes on top. they shrink, so put lots of them close together. bake at 350* for at least an hour. a knife inserted in the center should come out clean. this is obviously not a precise recipe, but you can fiddle with it and do whatever you want (we added the green chile on a whim and it was a great choice). i also like to make it the night before so i can just pop it into the oven in the morning.


mom's stir fry--a guest blog

my mom is a really good cook. like, one of the best cooks i know. no, probably THE best cook i know. since she's not great with computers, i'm doing her guest blog for her. i was at her house tuesday night and she was making stir fry, so i decided to document it and force a guest blog on her. you guys will be the better for it. this is one of my family's favorite meals (and that's saying a lot, since my mom makes a TON of good stuff). i've never actually made this before, so it was better to post it here with her doing it, to be sure it turned out well. so let's get started. you'll need a package of chicken strips, white and green onion, a carrot, a bunch of asparagus, 1 zucchini, frozen peas, mushrooms (as many as you want--they are left out here because dave doesn't like them and my mom is nothing if not accomodating), flour, butter, salt & pepper, and spaghetti noodles.

start by cutting your chicken into cubes. then set aside so you can get going on the veggies.cut up your zucchini; peel and cut your carrot; cut the top half of the asparagus (discarding bottom half) and cut into bite size pieces; dice a bunch of green onions; dice 1/4 of an onion; slice your mushrooms. then pile 'em all together like this:
next you need to make a white sauce. click here for the recipe (sorry, i would've put pictures up but i didn't start taking pictures 'til after the sauce was already made!). add in a teaspoon of chicken bouillon (or 1 cube) when you add your milk. set sauce aside to thicken while you begin stir frying.
add a tablespoon of oil to a skillet and turn heat to high. once the oil is hot, add your chicken. add salt and pepper and stir fry for 5 minutes, or until not longer pink.
keep going...
there. perfect.
now remove the chicken to a plate.

add in a little bit more oil to the same pan and get it hot.
then pour in your veggies. not the best picture, but my mom was too fast for me so this was all i got.
there. doesn't that look good?
add a little salt and pepper, and stir fry these guys for 5 minutes.
or let your helper do it for you.
after three minutes, add in some frozen peas. this would've been better if they weren't frozen in a ball like that. as it is, they were, and it worked out just fine, so whatever.
once the ice melts, continue cooking for two more minutes and then add your chicken back in.
then add in your white sauce,
and stir.
keep stirring! once combined, it's ready. serve over spaghetti noodles with NOTHING else. this meal is good enough all by itself.
there. doesn't that look delish? it is.

mom's stir fry

1 package of chicken, cut into cubes
1-2 carrots (more is always better, i say), peeled and sliced
1 zucchini, sliced
1 bunch of asparagus, top-half sliced (discard bottom half)
mushrooms if you want
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/4 onion, diced
1 bunch of green onion, sliced
1 cup of a basic white sauce with 1 tsp. (or 1 cube) of chicken bouillon added in
spaghetti noodles

cut up all the chicken and vegetables, then set aside while you make a white sauce. once your white sauce is ready, get a tablespoon of oil hot in a wok or large frying pan. stir fry your chicken for 5 minutes or until no longer pink. remove to a plate, then add a teaspoon more oil and stir fry your vegetables for 5 minutes. add salt and pepper to taste. add your chicken and white sauce, stir to combine, and serve over cooked spaghetti noodles.