Monday, September 19, 2011

Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole

Adapted from: Everyday Health

For our second week of having a night class, this is a follow-up to our baked ziti as a make-ahead-of-time meal that's leftover friendly. If you're a mushroom lover like me, I would recommend adding mushrooms to the dish but for those who have a slight mushroom aversion - like Lauren! :) - you might have to get a little more creative to spice up this one.

  • 4 skinless boneless chicken tenderloins, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 8 oz fat free sour cream
  • 10 3/4 oz cream of chicken soup, reduced-fat and reduced-sodium, condensed
  • cooking spray
  • 10 saltines, crushed
  • 6 oz egg noodles (may be called "extra wide" noodles)

Preheat over to 350°F.

Cook noodles according to package directions.

Combine chicken, salt and pepper, sour cream, poppy seeds, and chicken in a large bowl. Stir until blended well. Once noodles are finished cooking, drain and stir into the bowl. Coat a baking dish with cooking spray and spoon contents of bowl into the dish.

Top with crushed saltines. Coat with cooking spray. Bake for 30 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Yield: 4 servings

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Homemade Pretzels

Adapted from Good Eats

To start off the semester with our Bible study, we had a pretzel making night! This is a fun treat to enjoy preparing and eating with friends! However, you will need a mixer with a dough hook, and make sure you remember to make the dough ahead of time since it has to sit for almost an hour.


  • 1 1/2 cups really hot water (110-115 degrees F)
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 oz. unsalted butter, melted
  • vegetable oil
  • 10 cups water
  • 2/3 cup baking soda
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten with 1 tbsp water
  • sea salt
  • brown sugar
  • cinnamon


Combine hot water, sugar, and 2 tsp. sea salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle yeast on top. Allow to sit for 10 minutes or more, until the mixture beings to lightly foam.

Add the flour and butter, and using a dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Changed to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl.

Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl, and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit it in a warm spot for approx. 50 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper and lightly brush with vegetable oil.

Bring the 10 cups of water and baking soda to a boil in a saucepan.

While the water is boiling, divide the dough into 8 equal pieces on a slightly oiled surface. Roll out each piece into approx. a 24 inch rope. Make the dough into a pretzel shape by making a U-shape, crossing the ends over each other, and then pressing the ends into the bottom of the U.

Place each pretzel, individually into the boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a spatula and place on the parchment paper cookie sheets.

Brush each pretzel with the egg yolk mixture and sprinkle sea salt on top if desired.

Bake until brown, approx. 12-14 min.

Let pretzels cool. If you didn't sprinkle salt on them before cooking, you can mix a little brown sugar and cinnamon together to sprinkle on top of the cooked pretzels.

Yield: 8 pretzels

Baked Ziti with Sausage

Adapted from Cooking Light

Our class schedule for this semester includes a night class on Mondays, so we've had to rethink our evening cooking. We've found some great recipes that we can make in the afternoon and then take to class to heat up. The great thing is we also have leftovers the next day. Making meals ahead of time and in large proportions is teaching us what it will be like to be moms one day!

  • 1 (1 lb.) box of ziti
  • 1 lb. ground sausage
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 2 (14.5 oz.) cans of petite diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 tsp. dried basil
  • cooking spray
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Cook sausage, onion, and garlic in a large skillet over medium heat until browned. Add the tomato paste, salt, pepper, and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and let simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Combine pasta, sausage mixture, and basil. Pour half into a casserole dish coated with cooking spray. Top with 1/2 cup of mozzarella and 1/2 cup of Parmesan. Add the rest of the pasta on top and cover with the rest of the cheeses.

Bake for 25 minutes or until bubbling.

Yield: 8 servings

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Pasta Salad

This is one of my family's favorite side dishes at Thanksgiving. Amy and I recently made it over the weekend to enjoy for lunch the next week and to add some variety to our typical turkey sandwiches. This pasta salad has many ingredients, a great taste, and makes enough to serve a big family or to eat all week long!


For the dressing:
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. mustard
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the salad:

  • 12 oz. farfalle pasta
  • 1 orange bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 cup almond slivers
  • 2 chicken breasts, cooked, and cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 bag frozen green peas, thawed
  • 2 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, cup in half


Whisk dressing ingredients together. Combine salad ingredients without tomatoes. Toss the dressing and salad together, then add tomatoes and toss.

Yield: 8 servings

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Cookie Surprise!

My dear friend Melissa taught me this recipe, which she dubs "Cookie Surprise". Simple and using only 3 ingredients, it has Melissa's name written all over it. She always manages to simplify and perfect any recipe she comes across. It's a crowd pleaser for sure - it was the first dessert to disappear at the Camp Downes dinner tonight!

  • 1 package chocolate chip cookies (Chips Ahoy or any generic brand)
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 1 container cool whip
For the first layer, individually dip half of the cookies into evaporated milk and cover the bottom of an 8x8 dish.

Spread 1/2 of cool whip over the layer of cookies.

Repeat with the rest of the cookies, and spread remaining cool whip over second layer.

Top with chocolate chip cookie crumbs.

Freeze dessert for 2-3 hours, or overnight.