Monday, March 8, 2010

Firestation Casserole for the Masses

Alright, sports fans, today I have for you another great recipe that feeds lots of people.  It's a simple casserole, quick, easy, yummy.  All the things we love, am I right?

I call this Firestation Casserole, enjoy!

Brown two pounds of ground beef (or one, depending on how many people you're feeding.  I'm typing this all from memory so the amounts are bassed on what we use in our family.)  Mix the beef with four cans of cream of mushroom soup and two cans of green chilies, but don't cook, just set aside as you get the casserole dish ready.  In the casserole dish, about a nine by thirteen or so, line the bottom with broken up corn tortillas.  Cover the tortillas with part of the meat/soup mix.  Top with more tortillas, cover with meat/soup - basically, you just layer the tortillas and meat/soup mix.  Top the very top layer with cheese and bake at 350 degrees for a half an hour.

Now, sorry to eat and run, but today is quite the busy day!!

Happy Cooking!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

more, More, MORE!!

We got a very unexpected surprise this weekend when my aunt and uncle and their five kids showed up on our doorstep one morning!  They drove out from Nebraska to spend some time with the family and ended up staying with us for a few days. 
This gave me a great idea for the next several posts: ideas and recipes to feed lots of hungry mouths!

There are a ton of casserole recipes out there and they are great for feeding a lot of family members that show up at your door!  You can also make them for your immediate family; they go a long way and are great leftovers.

The first recipe I'm going to share is my spaghetti recipe: it's yummy, feeds a lot, and everyone loves it!

It's really simple, start out with two pounds of ground beef, browned.  You can drain the grease, I usually don't because it adds a little kick of flavor to the sauce.  If there is a lot of grease, please drain it! 
Add in Ragu, tomato sauce, a little squirt of ketchup (it's good! I promise!), mushrooms and onions.  The spices are key in this, just add as much as you feel is good.  Garlic (I always load up the garlic), Basil, oregano, thyme, fresh cilantro (yummy!! ^^) 

Man, my mouth is watering just thinking about this recipe!  It's fabulous!
You can also combine the sauce and noodles in a casserole dish, top with oodles of cheese and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees for a delicious Spaghetti Casserole.  I typically make the spaghetti one night, then make the leftovers into a casserole for dinner the next night.

Happy Cooking!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Cake Cookie Experimentation

Today in the kitchen, I experimented with cake cookies. They are super easy to make, take no time at all, and are really yummy. You can use any cake mix you want, most of them now come with cookie recipes on them, but they all basically call for the same things: cake mix, oil, water, and an egg.

I made two different cake mixes: yellow and chocolate, just a generic brand, nothing fancy. The yellow cake cookies called for ¾ cups oil, ¼ cup water, and an egg. I added mini chocolate chips to it to give it a little umphf. You just mix it all up, role them into balls and throw them in the oven (350 degrees, 12 minutes). Wham, bam, you’re done. Easy, simple, yummy. Little advise, the recipe I looked at said to bake them for 14-16 minutes, but I always shave off a minute or two just so they’re a little softer but not too gooey.

Now, the chocolate ones gave me a few fits. It called for ½ cup oil, ¼ cup water, and an egg, so there’s a little more oil in this recipe. I split the dough in half to make plain chocolate cookies and chocolate butterscotch cookies and man, those little butterscotch chips were a pain in the butt! They did not want to mix in with dough. I swear it was like being in junior high again, boys on one side of the gym, girls on the other and no one wanting to mix it up in the middle. I finally had to get rough and mash it all together with my hands. I showed them scrawny teenagers. :) Only bake these ones for ten minutes on 350 and they are delicious.

Happy cooking!

Pancake Weakness

For those of you out there that may feel a little uncomfortable in the kitchen, don’t sweat it. We all that one dish that totally kicks out butt every time we try to tackle it. You will laugh when I reveal to you what my weakness is in the kitchen, but I want you all to know that no matter what, no matter how bad you think you are in the kitchen, you can do it. Just keep trying, keep at it and soon, you’re weakness will be a strength.

Without further adieu, my weakness, the one dish I cannot make…build suspense…


I know it’s sad; I can’t make pancakes, not even from the box. You know the powder that you just have to add water and cook it up. Somehow, I always manage to mess it up and make these awful, battery, goopy messy pancakes.

So, you can only imagine my hesitation when my little sister wanted pancakes for breakfast before she went to school. I love my little sis so much, I can’t say no to her when she comes in and gives me those big pleading eyes and asks really sweetly if she can have pancakes for breakfast. And she’s so sweet she says to me, “Please, will you make me pancakes if I show you how to do it?”

Let me paint this picture for you: I’m twenty years old, woke up late so I’m in my pajama’s with cute little cows grinning like they’re so happy to be up so early, my little sister, ten years old, dressed and ready for school like she does this every morning, and she’s telling me to pour the water into the bowl with the pancake powder and mix it around until it’s all liquidy. When that’s done, she shows me how to spoon out the batter into the pan and no, wait! You can’t flip it over until there’s a bunch of little bubbles all over it.


Now, thanks to my little sister, I can make pancakes from a box and even shape them into Mickey Mouse.

So, I want you to never give up on cooking. Keep trying and take little steps to master your kitchen a little at a time, even if you have to have a little help. : ) And I am going to work on my pancake technique.

Happy cooking!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Cookie Perfection

I don't know about you guys but cookies are Life!! When you feel down or when you just need that little bit of sugar to get you going, cookies are the answer. The only problem is, it's really hard to find the perfect cookie; it's not too crunchy, not too gooie, the right amount of chocolate chips. Well, my friends, the first recipe that I want to share with you is one that I have come up with that makes the perfect cookies.

Yummy, Delicious, Super Special Awesome Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/2 Cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

a pinch of salt

1-2 tbsp cinnamin

Mix well in a medium size bowl and set aside.

3/4 cups Sugar

3/4 cups Brown sugar

2 eggs

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter

1 tsp vanilla extract

Beat well. You can microwave the butter for about ten seconds so it's really soft, but not melting, that way it mixes better in the dough and doesn't cause your cookies to melt in the oven. Add the dry ingredient mixture a little bit at a time, mixing well. Add a 12 oz bag of mini chocolate chips and mix well. You can use regular size chocolate chips, but the mini ones provide a better cookie-to-chocolate ratio.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Make little two inch balls and place them on a lightly greased cookie sheet and bake for ten minutes. When you pull the cookies out, they will just barely be turning a rich golden brown but DON'T put them back in!! They continue cooking when they come out and you don't want them to burn.

You can also substitute the 2 1/2 cups flour for 1 1/4 cups flour, then add 3 cups oats when you mix in the chocolate chips for a more healthy alternative. However, don't sweat too much over health because the secret to my cookies is not what's in it - though the cinnamin is a great addition - it's what's missing. There is half the amount of butter than is usually used in cookies, and they actually keep their shape better and you get nice firm cookies instead of the flat blah cookies.

So, get in the kitchen, get cooking, and enjoy!!! : ) I promise you, they are to die for!
Happy cooking!

Welcome to the Fabulous Kitchen of Cozy Tummies and Warm Hearts

First off, I want to welcome you all to my blog. I set up this blog to share with you one of my passions: cooking! I have another blog, where I talk about the Arts, inspiration, little things that brighten my day and get me through my creative funks. In this blog, I want to share with you my kitchen secrets, favorite recipes, tips and tricks I've learned over the years that I've been a love slave to the kitchen, which this year makes - drum roll, please - ten years!!

It's so strange to think that it's been a decade! I started cooking just after my mom had my little sister and needed more help around the house. It began with her dictating to me the recipes and me following her instructions exactly and it has evolved into my complete dominance in the kitchen. :) You laugh, but the first mistake you make in my kitchen will land you in the sour food dungeon with only the most awful food in the kingdom. :)
Yeah, right, like I would ever let bad food into my domain.

In junior high and high school, I took at least a half a dozen to a baker's dozen worth of cooking classes, ranging from food and nutrition basics to participating in the Pro Start Academy program that teaches aspiring chefs the ins and outs of the business. I then moved with my family to Italy where I picked up on a thing or two from the Italian nonnas.

I love to make people happy with my food. It brings the family together, puts smiles on everyone's face and gives you that happy little buzz in your heart. Now, in an effort to bring more happiness to more people, I'm making this blog that I hope you will read and enjoy and learn something about food and the great things it brings.

Happy cooking!