Category Archives: Casseroles


I think there are as many different versions of chili in the world as there are different types of people. Some like it hot, some like it chunky. Some like it with meat, others argue it can only have beans. I think that no matter what your tastes are, a good basic chili is a recipe you need to have on hand and you can adapt it to whatever tastes you expect to be eating that particular batch. This recipe is a two-day version. Chili always tastes better the second day – and this way you will have all the mess and hard work done the day before too.


2 lbs Ground Beef
1 large Onion
5 cloves chopped Garlic
1 TBSP Olive Oil
14 1/2oz can Diced Tomatoes
15oz can Tomato Sauce
1 can Beer (I like to use Budweiser for this)|
15-20oz can of Chili Beans (mild/spicy/your preference – I use Bush’s Mild)
1/4 cup Worcestershire Sauce
1/3 cup Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1/3 cup Chili Powder
Shredded Cheddar Cheese to top off each bowl as needed

1. Brown and drain your ground beef. While that is cooking, start dicing your onion and chopping your garlic.
2. Warm a large stock pot and add your olive oil. Pour in your chopped onions and garlic and let them sweat in the pot for one to two minutes, just to bring the flavors out a bit.
3. Start pouring in all of the other ingredients – except for the cheddar. Include the browned beef and mix to combine.
4. Bring the chili to a low boil and then cover. Reduce the heat and let simmer, covered, for two hours. Stir occasionally.
5. After the two hours, let the chili cool and then sit overnight in the fridge. I like to use the same pot it cooked in, keep the lid on it, and put an oven coozy in the fridge after the pots cooled a bit and leave it just as it is.
6. The next day, when it’s getting close to time to eat, all you have to do is pull the pot out of the fridge, put it back on the stovetop, and reheat it. Serve with shredded cheddar on top and you’re good to go!

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Posted by on December 8, 2013 in Beef, Casseroles, Dinner, Easy, Party Foods, Soup


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Taco Pie

This is a dish that I used to make all the time as a young, single, college student. It is very flexible and can be made a thousand different ways and for a thousand different tastes. The recipe I’m typing up today is just the basic bones of the dish – but please feel free to experiment away and add any sort of toppings you like! A layer of re-fried beans, some salsa, peppers, onions, whatever it is you like to put on your taco will go just fine into this dish.


1 lb Ground Beef
1 pkg Taco Seasoning (Or make your own….Homemade “Old El Paso” Copycat Taco Seasoning
1 pint Sour Cream
1 pkg Crescent Rolls
2 cups crushed Fritos (divided)
1 1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
2. Brown your ground beef, drain the fat, and add in the taco seasoning. Only use about half of the water you would normally use per the package directions. Mix together and let simmer for 5-10 minutes.
3. While the meat is simmering, grease an oven safe pan. I use a half-sized 8×8 casserole dish and it works out pretty well. You can also use a ceramic or glass pie plate if you like. Open your crescent rolls and pinch together the perforated seams so you have several rectangles of dough. Do your best to assemble the dough pieces in the bottom of your dish so that a bit curls up the walls as well. (See picture.)

DSCF0001It doesn’t have to be perfect. Just aim for even coverage and pinch together any open seams. You can stretch the dough a bit too once it starts to warm up to room temperature.
4. Put your dish aside and lightly crush one cup of the Fritos and spread them over the dough in the dish.
5. Spread your cooked ground beef over the layer Fritos and then spread the sour cream on top of the beef. Sprinkle on your layer of mozzarella cheese and then top it all off with the remaining cup of crushed Fritos.
6. Bake uncovered for 20  minutes until cheese is melted and crescent dough crust is nicely cooked.
7. Enjoy!

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Posted by on December 2, 2013 in Beef, Casseroles, Dinner, Easy, Entree, Kids, Quick & Easy


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Cheesy Chicken Macaroni

I loved baked macaronis. My children love baked macaronis. (Ok, they like pretty much any kind of noodle dish.) My husband on the other hand, likes macaroni (or any pasta dish) as a nice SIDE dish, because he says it’s not filling enough to satisfy him.  He’s very much a meat kinda guy, and a meal without meat just doesn’t make much sense to him.


Yeah, him and his manly appetite I guess….

Anyways, I thought that I would try to add some chicken into a baked macaroni and see if that would make the dish hearty enough for him. We almost always have some cooked chicken on hand from when I regularly cook roasting chickens in the crock pot to maintain my supply of homemade chicken stock, so adding in the chicken was a really easy change.  (You can find the recipes to Crockpotting a Whole Roasting Chicken and making Homemade Chicken Stock here.)


Cheesy Chicken Macaroni (adapted from an old Betty Crocker Recipe!)

1 box of Macaroni (1 pound)
3 cups Chicken, cooked (Don’t have any cooked chicken? You can quickly cook up some chicken breasts on the stove top. Cut the raw chicken into small bites and toss in a skillet with some olive oil. Cook all the way through.
1 bag Frozen Vegetables (I used corn, but just about any veggie would work just fine here.
2 TBSP Butter
2 TBSP Flour
3 cups Milk
4 cups Grated Cheddar – Divided    (Fresh grated will melt better, but store grated can be used. Also, feel free to improvise a little with the cheeses! Monterrey Jack would work well, so would a sharp, white cheddar.)
1 can Cream of Chicken Soup ~~~>Or you can make your own Cream of Chicken Soup!
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp Onion Powder
1/2 tsp Mustard Powder
Salt/Pepper to taste
4 TBSP Butter
1 cup Bread Crumbs
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp Seasoned Salt

1. Cook your pasta according to al dente. Strain it and pour it into the bottom of a large casserole dish.
2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
3. Spread your cooked chicken over the top of the cooked noodles.
4. Sprinkle your frozen vegetables over the layer of cooked chicken.
5. In a skillet on the stove, melt your butter and add the flour, whisking it together to make a roux. Slowly add in your milk, whisking as you go. Then add in three cups of the grated cheese. Stir until completely melted.
6. Add in the Cream of Chicken Soup, garlic powder, onion powder, and mustard powder. Stir to combine. When your sauce mix is good and creamy and well combined, pour it slowly over the top of your layers in the casserole dish. Try to pour it evenly over the entire dish so there aren’t any dry areas.
7. Top this layer with your leftover cup of grated cheese.
8. Melt your four tablespoons of butter in a small microwave safe bowl and then add the bread crumbs to it. Add 1/2 tsp garlic powder and 1/2 tsp seasoned salt and mush the mixture together with your fingers until the crumbs have evenly absorbed the butter and the seasonings are well mixed in.
9. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the top of your casserole and toss it in the oven for 30 minutes or until your bread crumbs are nicely browned.
10. Let set for 5-10 minutes and then dig in! Enjoy!


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Cheeseburger Macaroni

I have a friend that asked me a few months ago if I could duplicate the taste of Cheeseburger Macaroni – the common store bought kind. I have struggled and struggled to try and match the taste but no matter what I do, it’s just not the same. Today I took another stab at it and again it still isn’t quite like the boxed version – – – BUT – – – I have been ordered by my husband and my kids to never change it again! They loved this dish and actually made me promise that from now on I will always make it just like this.  😀


Cheeseburger Macaroni
1 lb Ground Beef
1/2 lb Elbow Macaroni
2 cans Tomato Sauce (8oz each) – – you can substitute a marinara sauce if you like
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 TBSP Worcestershire Sauce
1 TBSP Ketchup
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Onion Powder
1 tsp Oregano
1/2 tsp Paprika
1/2 cup Marinara Sauce, divided – – you can substitute tomato sauce if you prefer
1/2 cup Grated Cheddar Cheese
1/2 cup Grated Mozzarella Cheese

1. Brown your beef in a large, deep skillet or frying pan. Drain out the grease and return to the pan.
2. Add in the two cans of tomato sauce and all of your spices, the worcestershire sauce, and the ketchup to the browned beef.  Let it all simmer together for 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Most of the liquid should be absorbed or boiled off by the end.
3. While the meat and sauce are cooking together, cook the elbow macaroni up to a light al dente and set the oven to preheat at 400 degrees.
4. When the meat sauce is done cooking and the noodles are cooked, combine the two together in the sauce pan. Mix well to fully incorporate them together.
5. Pour a little marinara sauce on the bottom of a small sized casserole dish (8×8 is what I used). You can use tomato sauce here if you like, but I definitely wouldn’t use the same sauce in both situations. Either cook the meat in marinara, or use it in the casserole dish – but not in both spots (same goes for the tomato sauce, switch it up). Add your meat and sauce mixture on top of the layer of marinara and then top it off again with the remaining 1/4 cup of marinara.
6. Bake, covered, for 15 minutes.
7. Remove foil, sprinkle liberally with both cheddar and mozzarella cheese and return to the oven uncovered. Bake another. 10 minutes until cheese is fully melted.
8. Enjoy!


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The Ugly Chicken Dumpling Dish

I have this dish that I absolutely love to eat. It is just simply the perfect, savory, comfort dish. I’ve wanted to share this recipe with you guys for a while now. It’s the easy way of making a Chicken and Dumpling dish, but without all the stress of actually trying to get the dumplings to come out right – because let me tell you, dumplings are a nightmare!  The problem is – – – my perfect, savory, comfort dish – – – is UGLY!

I’ve made it a few times since starting this blog, and every time I take extra time and really really try to make it ‘pretty’ so I could get a decent enough picture of it that I could attach to a recipe and post it. It’s ugly during the prep, it’s ugly while baking, it’s ugly when it’s finished and in the casserole dish, and it’s ugly when you spoon a serving out and plate it up!

On the advice of some of you wonderful readers, I went ahead and just conceded to its ugly-ness! I prettied it up as much as possible and named it The Ugly Chicken Dumpling Dish!  (Because aside from being ugly, the dish also hadn’t been named!)

Aren’t I lucky I have some of the most clever readers around!?


Roughly 2 cups cooked chopped chicken  (or leftover Rotisserie Chicken)
1 cup thawed frozen vegetables (optional)
1 cup of chicken stock
4 TBSP melted butter
1 cup self rising flour
1 cup milk
1 TBSP Chicken Soup Boullion Base or 2 cubes Bouillon
1 can Cream of Chicken Soup
Dash of ground Sage
Salt/Pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Pour the melted butter into the bottom of a half sized casserole dish. Add the chopped chicken and season with salt, pepper, and some Sage. Add the thawed vegetables on top.
3. In a separate bowl, mix the milk and the self rising flour together. Pour the mixture evenly over the veggies and chicken in the casserole dish.
4. In that same bowl as before, now combine the chicken stock, cream of chicken soup, and bouillon together. Pour it on the top of your chicken dish.
5. Bake in the oven for about an hour or until the top is golden brown.
6. Let rest for 5-10 minutes on the counter before digging into it.
7. Enjoy!

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Posted by on March 4, 2013 in Casseroles, Chicken, Dinner, Easy, Entree


Lemon Pasta

This dish was actually created because I was trying to figure out a decent entree to serve as a vegetarian dish, without it being the typical meatless marinara pasta that is often offered up at family functions. I had a veggie friend, and it just seemed sad that she always had to eat second rate choices of food because nobody wanted to put any effort into a meatless dish.

Lemon Pasta!

This is a pasta dish that is ultra easy to make, cheap to cook, and also travels really well. I have even frozen it and used it as a freezer meal before with good success, but the best compliment I can give to this dish is that it’s hearty enough that even my meat loving husband will request it for dinner and declare it filling enough to serve as a main entree.

1 lb Thin Pasta (angel hair works too – I recommend using a standard spaghetti if you want to freeze it though)
4 TBSP Butter
2 cloves Minced Garlic
2 cups Sour Cream
2 whole Lemons
1/4 tsp Kosher Salt
roughly 2 cups Grated Parmesan Cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375
2. Prep your lemons. Roll them on the countertop under your palm while pressing firmly to loosen them up for juicing. Once fully tender, zest both lemons and save the zest for the sauce later. Slice lemons in half so you’re ready to juice them when needed.
3. Get pasta started cooking to al dente. When cooked – move to an oven safe casserole dish and wait for the sauce.
4. In a skillet, melt butter with EVOO over LOW HEAT. When butter is melted, add minced garlic. Squeeze one whole lemon and half of the other. Save the remaining half for later. Turn the heat off of the pan.
5. Add sour cream and stir mixture together. Add lemon zest from both lemons and the salt. Pour the mixture over the drained pasta and mix together well. (If you’re tasting as you – like you should! – don’t worry if you think the sauce is ultra sour at this point. I promise you it mellows out quite a lot while baking in the oven.)
6. Bake, covered, for 15 minutes. Then remove the cover and bake for another 7-10 minutes.
7. Once out of the oven, juice the last half of lemon over the pasta and top the dish generously with Parmesan cheese. Don’t skimp on the Parm here, it really makes the dish work!
8. Enjoy!!


Stuffed Pasta Shells

This recipe is a favorite of the Hubs. This is about as close to a casserole as he likes to get. In other words, minimal noodles, heavy on the meat!

Stuffed Pasta Shells

(And trust me, I KNOW this is a horrible picture. I REALLY need to work on my food photography!)

1.5 lbs ground beef
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup Italian (or mozzarella) cheese
1 beaten egg
1 pkg frozen spinach (thawed, cooked, and thoroughly drained)
1/2 box jumbo pasta shells
1 jar marinara or pasta sauce

1. Cook pasta shells to al dente.
2. While that’s cooking, brown the beef and season with salt and pepper. Add garlic.
3. Add in both cheeses. Mix until melted and well blended.
4. Add beaten egg and spinach and simmer for 2 more minutes. Make sure that you are just adding the egg as a binder, not making scrambled eggs in your pan!
5. Preheat oven to 350
6. Fill shells with meat mixture and place in an oven safe dish. Cover with sauce.
7. Bake for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with a little extra Italian cheese and serve immediately.

*For anyone that’s curious, this is actually the recipe that slowly morphed into my Spinach Lasagna Roll Ups over time! I decided the lasagna noodle was easier to roll than a shell was to stuff, then added some yummy ricotta, then ditched the ground beef….well…you see where I’m going with this! Feel free to check out my Spinach Lasagna Roll Up page for that recipe too! They’re both delicious, just think of it as a ‘his and hers’ variation!

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