Cheesy Sausage Rotel Casserole!

I came up with this "Cheesy Sausage Rotel Casserole", because I had the ingredients to make my Cheesy Sausage Dip  but I needed something more like dinner and not just an appetizer.  I always have a lot of pasta on hand, thanks to the nice folks at Barilla, which is my favorite pasta, so I came up with this casserole!  This is so good and for some reason it really hit the spot with me.  I ate the leftovers several days for lunch and it reheats really well.   I will definitely be making this again!  Here is what you will need;

12 oz. penne pasta (or any tubular pasta)
1 lb. pork sausage
1/4 cup diced onion
1/4 cup diced green or red bell pepper
1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 (10 oz.) can Rotel diced tomatoes and chilies
16 oz. cubed Velveeta cheese
8 oz. cubed cream cheese
2 cups milk
2 cups cheddar cheese
3-4 sliced green onions for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Cook the pasta in salted water according to the package directions, drain and set aside.

Brown the sausage along with the diced onion and bell pepper in a skillet.  If there is excess grease, drain the sausage.  There usually isn't much fat in sausage now though.  Add the seasonings, Rotel, Velveeta cheese, and cream cheese.  Cover and turn the heat to low.  Stir it every now and then while the cheeses are melting.  When the cheeses have melted, add 2 cups milk and stir until creamy and incorporated.  Pour the sausage mixture over the cooked pasta and lightly toss to mix it all.

Pour into a 9"x13" baking dish that has been sprayed with nonstick spray!  Sprinkle the top evenly with the cheddar cheese.  Place in the preheated 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes or until bubble around the edges!

 So yummy!

Sprinkle with a little green onion for garnish!   I served it with a tossed salad!  This one is a must try y'all!!!

Loaded Baked Potato & Chicken Casserole!

This "Loaded Baked Potato & Chicken Casserole" is new to the site and it got a two thumbs up from the family!  It's one of those one dish meals we all love!  This is a meal in itself, but you could add a vegetable or salad to make it complete!  If you are cooking for meat and potatoes people, they are going to love this one!  

Here is what you will need:  

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed in bite size pieces
6 medium size to large potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/3 cup olive oil
1 pkg. dry ranch dressing mix
1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 Tbs. soy sauce
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
dash of hot sauce
3 cups shredded Monterrey Jack/Cheddar blend or shredded Cheddar cheese
10 slices of bacon cooked crisp and crumbled
4-5 green onions sliced 
sour cream for topping (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  

In a large bowl, whisk the olive oil, ranch dressing mix, seasoned salt, black pepper, garlic powder, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and dash of hot sauce together.   Add the diced potatoes and with a large, slotted spoon toss them to coat with the oil mixture. 

 Remove with the slotted spoon, so that the excess oil mixture stays in the bowl to a 9"x13" baking dish or 3 quart casserole.

Put the cubed chicken in a the remain oil mixture and toss to coat.  Pour the chicken and remaining oil over the potatoes.  Evenly placing the chicken over the top in a single layer so it browns.  I like to keep the potatoes and chicken separated in two layers at the beginning to be sure the chicken cook evenly.   Place in a preheated 400 degree oven for 1 hour.  About halfway through toss everything to be sure it is all evenly browning the the potatoes aren't sticking. 

Remove when it's all browned and the chicken is done and top with 3 cups of shredded cheese of whatever you chose to use and sprinkle with the crumbled bacon.  Place back in the oven for about 7-10 minutes or until the cheese is nice and melted!

When it comes out of the oven, sprinkle with the green onions!

Serve as is or...

With a little sour cream on top!  Either way this was fantastic!  We will definitely be having it again and it makes a pretty large casserole!  

Cheesy Ritz Cracker Chicken!

This "Cheesy Ritz Cracker Chicken" is absolutely scrumptious!  This is an oven fried chicken coated in Ritz cracker crumbs mixed with cheese.  What could be bad about that, right?  I soaked my chicken in buttermilk for about an hour ahead of time and it was so tender you could cut it with your fork.   If you don't have time to marinade it for the hour, it still works fine. There is a cream sauce you can also make that is so easy and it's great over the chicken and mashed potatoes or rice. Here is what you are going to need for this:

12 boneless chicken breast tenderloins or 4 large boneless chicken breasts cut in thirds lengthwise
2 cups buttermilk
2 sleeves of Ritz crackers, crushed fine
1 cup finely shredded cheddar cheese
4 Tbs. butter, melted
seasoned salt
black pepper

Cream Sauce
1 (10.5 oz.) can of cream of chicken soup
1 cup milk
1 cup sour cream
1/4 tsp. seasoned salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic powder

Place the chicken pieces in a bowl and pour the buttermilk over it all making sure to coat it all over really well.  If you have time, cover and let it hang out in the fridge for about an hour.  This really tenderizes the chicken and makes it so good.  If you don't have time for that, you can skip it and it's still good.  

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Place the Ritz cracker crumbs and the finely shredded cheddar cheese in a gallon size Ziplock bag.   You can crush the crackers in the food processor or place them in the bag and use your rolling pin to crush them.  I prefer using the rolling pin to do this, because I don't like them too fine.

Place about three pieces of the chicken at a time in the bag, seal and shake to coat the chicken.  Be sure to let the excess buttermilk drip off first.   Place each piece on a baking sheet you have covered with nonstick foil and sprayed with nonstick spray.  Make sure they are not touching.   If the pieces do not get good and coated, once they are on the baking sheet, I go back and pack some extra crumbs on top of each piece.   Continue  breading until all pieces are coated.  

Drizzle each piece with the melted butter.  Sprinkle each piece with a little seasoned salt and a little black pepper.   

 Place in a 375 degree oven and bake for 40-45 minutes or until browned on top.  There is no need to turn them during cooking.

To make the cream sauce, just place all of the ingredients for it in a saucepan.  Heat over medium heat just until heated through.  I served the sauce on the side and let everyone that wanted it over their chicken or mashed potatoes, serve themselves.   

 This is a must try!  It's so good!  

Beef Enchiladas with Homemade Red Sauce!

I love Mexican food!  I can eat it several times a week and fortunately, for a city our size, we have quite a few really good Mexican restaurants.  Here is where the problem is though,  my husband doesn't really like to eat Mexican food unless I make it!  Lucky me!  The reason for that is, I customize it to his picky taste buds.  Therefore, I cook Mexican food at home when I get a craving for it most of the time.

Since I am an ambassador for Red Gold Tomatoes, I am always thinking of ways to incorporate their wonderful products into my recipes.  I have been wanting to try making my own enchilada sauce, so that is exactly what I did.  I used Red Gold's Tomato Sauce in this recipe.

These "Beef Enchiladas with Homemade Red Sauce" are some of the best enchiladas I have had and I think it's the homemade red sauce that makes the difference.  This sauce is very much like what you would get in a good Mexican restaurant and tastes nothing like the canned stuff.  Of course, if you want to do a shortcut version, you can use a large can of the store bought sauce.   I encourage you to make the sauce though.  You won't believe how much better it is.   Here is what you will need for these yummy enchiladas:

1  1/2 lbs. ground chuck
1 medium sweet onion, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced (if you like it hot, leave the seeds)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 Tbs. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
8 six inch flour tortillas
3 cups shredded Monterrey Jack/Cheddar blend cheese, divided

Homemade Red Sauce

3 Tbs. vegetable or canola oil
3 Tbs. flour
1 (15 oz.) can Red Gold Tomato Sauce
2 cups chicken broth
1 Tbs. sugar
2 Tbs. chili powder 
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. oregano
1//2 tsp. garlic powder
dash of hot sauce ( I used Tabasco)
salt and pepper to taste

To make the beef filling, brown the ground chuck in a skillet along with the diced onion and jalapeno pepper.  When dicing jalapenos, wear gloves or be very careful to wash your hands before putting them near your face or eyes.  The oils in them can actually burn you.  I have very sensitive skin so I always wear gloves when handling peppers.   

While the meat is browning sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  After the meat is browned add the other seasonings and stir.   Turn down to low or off while you make your red sauce.

In another skillet heat the oil, add the flour and whisk.  Cook for a minute or two.  Add the Red Gold Tomato sauce, chicken broth and the rest of the seasonings and bring to a simmer.  It will thicken just a bit.  If it seems too thick add just a little water.  

Now you are ready to put the enchiladas together.  Spray a 9"x13" baking dish with nonstick spray.  Spread about a cup of the red sauce on the bottom of the dish.   Fill each tortilla with an eighth of the meat filling.  Use half of the cheese to sprinkle on the inside of the enchiladas, reserving the other half for the top once they are rolled.   Roll up the tortillas and place seam side down in the baking dish.  When they are all rolled cover the top with the rest of the red sauce.  Be sure to spread it to cover all of the tortillas or they will dry out and be hard.

Sprinkle the top with the rest of the shredded cheese.  Cover with foil and place in a preheated 350 degree oven for 25 minutes. 

 Uncover and cook for about 5-10 minutes or until the cheese is nice and browned some. 

Garnish with whatever your family likes, shredded lettuce, sour cream, black olives, jalapeno slices, green onions are all good!  These are so good they will become a regular!  

Mini Party Quiches!

These "Mini Party Quiches" are yummy little bites of sausage and cheese quiche baked in a cream cheese crust!  They are so good and really very easy!  They are perfect for parties, wedding or baby showers, graduation parties, teas, or wedding receptions!  They are also good to make up and freeze part of them to keep on hand for a quick breakfast on the go!  Just pop them in the microwave or oven and warm them up.  They heat back up real well.   Here is what you will need for these:

1 cup butter softened
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt

8 oz breakfast sausage
3/4 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
3 green onions, sliced thin including some of the green blades
3 eggs
1 cup half and half cream
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
dash of hot sauce (I used Tabasco, but if you used hot sausage you can omit this)

In a mixing bowl beat the cream cheese and butter together, gradually beat in the flour and salt.  If the dough seems too stick add just a little more flour.  Shape into a large ball in the bowl.  Cover the bowl and refrigerate while you make the filling.  This is a sticky dough and works better if it's really cold.

Brown the sausage over medium high heat.  Drain any excess grease.  

When the dough is cold, after about 30 minutes to an hour, remove to make the crusts.  Spray 36 mini muffin tins with nonstick baking spray.  Take out about a tablespoon of dough for each crust and roll it into a ball.  Press the ball into the mini muffin tin working it up the sides of the tin.  Make it thin enough to leave room for the filling.  

When you have made the crusts, fill each one with sausage, Swiss cheese, and Parmesan cheese dividing it all evenly between the 36 muffin tins.   

In a bowl, whisk the eggs and cream together.  Add in the black pepper, salt and dash of hot sauce.  
Pour the egg filling evenly over the sausage and cheese in each tin.   

Place in a preheated 375 degree oven for 17 - 20 minutes or until the top is slightly browned.

Slow Cooker Party Meatballs!

These "Slow Cooker Party Meatballs" are great to serve for parties, on game day, or just any time you have a bunch of people over!  We hosted a bridal shower for my nephew and his bride to be a few weekends ago and served these!  They are delicious and so easy!  I like to serve things like this for parties, because they pretty much just take care of themselves and they are easy for your guests to eat!  Here is what you will need:

1 cup grape juice
1 cup apple jelly
1 cup ketchup
1 (8 oz.) can of tomato sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
1 (64 oz.) bag of fully cooked frozen Italian meatballs

***You can make your own homemade meatballs.  Just brown them really well before you put them in the slow cooker and cut the time to 4-5 hours!

Combine all of the ingredients except the meatballs in a saucepan, cook on medium low just until the jelly and the brown sugar have dissolved.  The cayenne is optional, because I know some don't care for any heat at all.  I like just a touch in these.  

Place the frozen meatballs in a slow cooker.  Meatballs usually come in two sizes, 1 ounce and 1/2 ounce.  For this, I prefer the 1/2 ounce size, because it's  just the right size bite and it stays on a pick or fork easier!   Pour the sauce over all and set the slow cooker for 5-6 hours on low!  All slow cookers tend to vary, so use your judgment, but they really don't overcook if you go to the six hours!  
For casual get-togethers, serve right from the slow cooker to keep them warm.  For more formal affairs, you might want to place them in a chafing dish!  These will disappear fast!