Happy Thanksgiving!

I don’t have any recipes to share today – but, I did want to stop by and say Happy Thanksgiving!!

My family enjoyed a Thanksgiving meal with family and will do our own ‘little’ Thanksgiving tomorrow. We have done ‘Second Thanksgiving’, just our little family, on the Friday after Thanksgiving – for years. It hasn’t always been called that, it hasn’t always had a name – but, it has become a tradition and it has been formally named ‘Second Thanksgiving’!

Seven years ago, my oldest daughter, Sarah (she’s now 19), came into the kitchen and said “Mommy, I want to know how you’re making this – I’m going to watch you”. The next year, she said “Mommy, just watch me and make sure I do it right”. The next year, she said “Mommy, I want to make it all!”. And for five years she has!

This is my beautiful Sarah!

We don’t do a turkey, rather we do ‘chicken and dressing’ like my Great Grandmother always did and just the sides that we love most. So, it is a small celebration but it is one that I love and look forward to every year.

I may not be cooking, tomorrow, but I’ll be sure to take some pictures of the cooking being done and share some of our family’s favorite recipes with you.

In the meanwhile – Happy Thanksgiving – I hope you have taken time today to reflect on the many things that I’m sure you have to be thankful for. If you haven’t yet – take time to do it now!

Pasta with Creamy Tomato Sauce

I could eat pasta every day. I don’t, but I could. I love just a nice red sauce, or a meat sauce, or an alfredo sauce. But, today I wanted something different. I wanted both tomato and creamy. I could have used some heavy cream, as I do always have it on hand – but, instead, I remembered that I had some cream cheese in the refrigerator and I decided to use that.

I’ve never used cream cheese in a pasta sauce, before. But, I thought that it could work. Turns out that it worked really well – and everyone loved it! It gives the sauce creaminess and an extra layer of flavor.

The first thing to do is make the sauce. I kept it pretty simple – just crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, onion, garlic, fresh basil and some Italian seasoning.

I started by dicing one onion. I tried to dice it pretty small – I didn’t really want big bites of onion in the sauce. I also chopped up about 10 basil leaves (about 1 tbsp, when chopped).

In a large skillet, I softened the onion and garlic in a bit of olive oil.

Once the onions were softened, I added in the crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce. I also added in the Italian seasoning.

I brought the tomato sauce to a boil and then added in the cream cheese. It takes a bit of stirring to get the cheese melted into the sauce.

Once the cheese was melted, I added in the basil and stirred through.

I let the sauce simmer for about 30 minutes, to allow it to reduce some.

I cooked my pasta to al dente and then added it to the sauce and mixed it well.

The pasta is delicious on it’s own, but I also cooked some chicken in the oven – and I topped the pasta with it, just to add some protein to the dish. You can garnish with extra basil, if you like.

Pasta with Creamy Tomato Sauce

8 oz block of cream cheese
28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
15 oz can of tomato sauce
1 onion, finely diced
1 tbsp minced garlic
10-12 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 tbsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp salt
1 tsp oil

  • Dice onion and chop the basil
  • In oil, soften onion and garlic (about 5 min)
  • Add in the crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce
  • Add in salt and Italian seasoning
  • Bring sauce to a boil
  • Add in the cream cheese, stirring until it melts
  • Add in basil
  • Reduce heat and allow to simmer for about 30 minutes
  • While sauce is simmering, cook pasta to al dente
  • When pasta and sauce are done, toss the pasta in the skillet with the sauce
  • Top with chicken, if desired
  • Add more fresh basil, if desired

Crockpot Beef and Broccoli

This is not my recipe – I used the recipe linked here. I normally just share my recipes, but this one is so good that I have to share it!

When you have kids that play sports or a job that keeps you late, you sometimes just need easy. Not lots of prep, not a long cooking time – delicious food ready when you get home! That’s where a crockpot comes in handy!!

I love Asian food! This recipe is, now, one of my favorites! It is, truly, better than any broccoli and beef that I’ve gotten in any restaurant.

I made this on a day that my daughter had volleyball. I came home at lunchtime, to finish my work day, and threw everything in the crockpot. And, it was ready when we got home!

All I had to do, was make some rice and top it with the beef and broccoli. I think it is about time I make this one again!

Cubed Steak Casserole, with Rice

We eat a lot of chicken. We love chicken, so that isn’t a problem – in and of itself – but, sometimes I want to mix it up. Out of that desire, came this cubed steak casserole.

I decided that I would lightly dredge the cubed steak in a flour, salt and pepper mixture and lightly brown them, prior to putting them in the casserole.

The other items for this dish were: onion, rice, a packet of brown gravy mix, a can of cream of mushroom soup and a can of green beans.

Once the cubed steaks were all browned (no need to cook through, as it will finish in the oven), I layered them in the bottom of my dutch oven.

In the skillet that I browned the cubed steak, I added in my chopped onions and rice. I stirred the rice and onions around to toast the rice a bit and to start to soften the onion – and, perhaps more importantly, to get any of the deliciousness that was left behind from pan frying the cubed steaks.

After the rice was toasted and the onions were starting to soften, I added in the cream of mushroom soup, 2 1/2 cans of water (use your soup can to measure), the brown gravy mix, salt and pepper and then the green beans. I just made sure to stir it for a bit, to get it all mixed well.

Then I just poured the rice mixture over the cubed steak that was already in the dutch oven. And added some extra salt and pepper to the top.

I covered the dutch oven (with the lid, but foil would work, if you cover it tightly) and put it into a preheated 375 degree oven. I let it cook for 1 hour, covered the entire time.

A couple of Notes / Thoughts about this recipe:

  • Getting an appropriate portion of meat to rice mixture was difficult with using my dutch oven (because some of the steaks overlapped) – so use a dish that will allow for the cubed steak to form a single layer.
  • Along those lines – cut your cubed steak to a serving size (if the steaks are more than you’d normal eat at one serving) prior to browning – this will make it easier to serve.
  • While I added salt to this recipe (both in the flour mixture on the steak and in the rice mixture), it needed more salt. I’m not sure why, because the broth from the rice mixture tasted delicious. This said, I’m writing the recipe up to use more salt than I used when I initially made this recipe. Adjust to your taste.
  • I added the green beans to make it a ‘one pot’ dish, with veggies included. I didn’t think so, but one of my family mentioned that they felt the green beans ‘overwhelmed’ the taste – feel free to leave out and serve on the side.

Cubed Steak Casserole

4-6 cubed steaks
1/2 cup flour (for dredging cubed steak)
1 tbsp salt (for dredging cubed steak)
1 tsp pepper (for dredging cubed steak)
2 tbsp olive oil

2 1/2 cups rice
1 can cream of mushroom soup (+ 2 1/2 cans water)
1 packet of brown gravy mix
1 onion, chopped
1 can green beans (drained)
1 tbsp salt (I added 1/2, but it needed more – adjust as you see fit)
1 tsp black pepper

  • Combine flour, 1 tbsp salt and 1 tsp pepper in a large bowl
  • Dredge the steaks in the flour mixture
  • In a hot pan, add olive oil
  • Brown the steaks on both side (no need to cook through)
  • Layer cubed steak on bottom of baking dish
  • In same skillet, add onions and rice – allow to cook until onion starts to soften
  • Add in soup, water, gravy mix, green beans, salt and pepper
  • Pour rice mixture over steaks
  • Cover baking dish and cook for 1 hour in 375 degree oven

Lasagna (using my homemade meat sauce)

This week I made a big batch of meat sauce. You can find that recipe here.

For this lasagna, you can used jarred sauce (and add in your meat – using ground beef and/or Italian sausage), if you like. But, I do think that it is better with homemade sauce.

For the cheese mixture, I used three kinds of cheese: grated mozzarella, ricotta and grated parmesan (not the kind in a can, but actual grated parmesan).

To the cheese, I added one egg. You can add in some dried basil, as well, at this point. I didn’t, but wish I would have.

I used a large rectangular dish to make my lasagna. I wasn’t sure how many layers I would get – but, turns out that I had 3 layers of meat sauce, 2 layers of cheese mixture and 2 layers of noodles (and topped with additional cheese). My baking dish was pretty shallow, I would have loved to gotten another few layers – but, it was still delicious!

I did the layers in the following order:

  • Meat sauce
  • Noodles
  • Cheese Mixture
  • Meat sauce
  • Noodles
  • Cheese Mixture
  • Meat Sauce

I reserved some of the grated mozzarella to put on the top. I also sprinkled on some grated parmesan and even a little of the parmesan in a can for added flavor.

For my recipe, I chose to use the ‘oven ready’ noodles that you don’t need to pre-boil. I’ve actually read that you can use regular noodles in the same way, but I’m not sure.


4-5 cups of meat sauce (you can use jarred sauce and meat or my recipe for homemade meat sauce)
Up to 1 box of ‘oven ready’ lasagna noodles
3 cups grated mozarella cheese (reserve one cup for top)
1 cup grated parmesan cheese (reserve 1/4 cup for top)
1 15 oz container ricotta cheese
1 egg

  • In a large bowl, combine the cheeses and the eggs (you can also add some dried basil, if you like)
  • Begin layering in the following order: meat, noodles, cheese mixture
  • When all layers are complete, top with remaining cheese
  • Bake in a 400 degree oven, for 45 minutes