Sunday, October 28, 2012

Susan's Special Spaghetti Feed Menu

We had 12 good friends over for a spaghetti feed on Friday night so I thought I should write down my menu for next time. Everything went perfect and our guests loved it. I don't think it's necessary to re-create the wheel so I will defnitely use this menu again!
 
Spaghetti Sauce:  I served two kinds of sauce. One was an Italian spicy sausage/hamburger sauce and the other was a plain-Jane sauce with meatballs. See my sweet spaghetti sauce recipe. (Note: make a lot, you can always freeze any extra sauce for later.)
 
Noodles: I always cook too many noodles but that's okay. I have a 3-pot slow cooker so I am able to put the noodles in one pot along with the two different red sauces. Perfect. I store the extra noodles in a big ziploc bag and we eat spaghetti for as many meals as we can stand. After that, if I still have noodles, I will eat them cold with a lite basalmic vinegar dressing tossed with cherry tomatoes, a little green onion and anything else I have sitting in the crisper, sprinkled with a little grated Parmesan cheese.
 
Garlic Bread:  Depending on how much time I have, I will make my own garlic bread but I'm not above buying the pre-buttered, seasoned kind.
 
Tossed Green Salad: I have a big beautiful glass bowl that I love to fill with a salad that has everything I can think of in it. Leaf lettuce, mushrooms, carrots, green onions, cherry tomatoes, sugar snap peas (chopped), and broccoli slaw (if I need to stretch it). The leftovers get placed into serving size bowls and I have salad for my work lunches.
 
Salad Dressings: We eat lite dressings but most of our friends don't. I try to buy a regular Italian dressing and a good bleu cheese dressing to serve.
 
Dessert: Dreyer's makes a fabulous Spimone flavored ice cream and it is a big hit with folks who have never had it before. My 2nd choice for dessert would be Rainbow Sherbet. You wanna keep it light after such a heavy dinner.
 
Drinks:  Remember to have ice on-hand. If a guest asks what they can bring, I let them bring liters of soda. Rootbeer was a huge hit at my last spaghetti feed and the runner up is 7-up. Water, orange juice and coffee are always available at my house.
 
Notes: 10/26/12 Had a party for our friend, Marty. It was awesome. We had 12 people and really could not put more than that comfortably in our house. It's hard sometimes to limit the guest list so I guess we just need to have more parties and mix it up.

Susan's Sweet Spaghetti Sauce

While I love the idea of cooking from scratch, sometimes it's just not practical and it's really more about having friends over and enjoying their company than trying to impress them with something that I really think can be just as good from a jar. 

ITALIAN SAUSAGE SPAGHETTI SAUCE

Brown:
1 lb. Italian sausage (mild or hot, depending on your taste)
1/2 lb. ground beef
2 cloves minced garlic.
Drain off any grease.

Pour in:
Prego (or whatever kind you like) spaghetti sauce
1 tsp. basil (adjust to your liking)
1 tsp. Rosemary (adjust to your liking)
1 tsp. oregano (adjust to your liking)
2 Tbsp. sugar (try just 1 T and see if it needs more. Trust me, it needs it)

Place the sauce in a crock pot and leave it on high until it almost simmers and then turn it down and let it cook for a couple of hours.

SPAGHETTI SAUCE AND MEATBALLS

Prego spaghetti sauce
basil (adjust to your liking)
rosemary (adjust to your liking)
oregano (adjust to your liking)
sugar (adjust to your liking)

Place your sauce in the crock pot, add the spices and then add your meatballs. I buy the frozen meatballs for convenience.

Bring to almost a simmer and then turn down and let it cook for a couple of hours until your guests arrive.

Serve with grated Parmesan & Romano cheese and garlic bread.

Enjoy!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Susan's Freaky Friday Frittata


I adapted this recipe from a couple of recipes I read online and took my inspiration for getting creative with what I have on-hand from  CSA Mom.  The base of this is leftover mashed potatoes and eggs. What you add to it puts the "freaky" in it!
Here's what I did:
 
Mix together:
2 cups of leftover mashed potatoes
2 eggs
 
In a small 6 inch cast iron skillet:
Saute 1 green onion, 1/2 jalapeno, 1/2 red pepper for just a minute or two in a pat of butter.  Add that to the potato/egg mixture.
 
Stir in:
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese.
 
Wipe out the cast iron skillet and add the entire mixture back into the skillet.
 
Bake in 350 degree oven for about 25 to 30 minutes.
 
 
Notes: This turned out so yummy and I would make this for a brunch. I served with chopped up green onions and I had some black olives in the fridge that I put on the table with it along with some grapes on the side. Nice combo of sweet, salty & a little spicy with the jalapenos. 
 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Susan's Simple Turkey Dinner Menu

 
The older I get, the more I rely on lists and the written word. While I was preparing dinner for friends on Saturday, I got the idea that I should start a section on this blog dedicated just for menus. As I put together dinner parties, I can record what worked well and then rely on this blog to jog my memory the next time I have a party. So here is my first installment.
THE BASICS:
Turkey, fruit salad, pies, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, corn, whole wheat rolls, cranberry sauce, green olives, cheese & crackers. 
 
Turkey:   Putting together a turkey dinner isn't hard but it is time consuming. And so worth it.
 
First, find the turkey you want. I like to thaw mine in a sink full of water. You can thaw a turkey in the fridge but it takes about 3 days.  I go in for the cheap birds. Turkey is turkey, to me. What I do with it after the party is make it into different dishes and believe me, nobody knows it's not a Butterball when I get done with it.
 
Next, think about what time you are going to serve dinner and count backwards to figure out what time you gotta stick that bird in the oven. I add an extra 30 minutes to that because sometimes the bird doesn't cook as fast as I think it should plus you gotta let it "rest" when it comes out of the oven before you can carve it. I really like to serve meals when I say I'm gonna serve them. 
 
Pies:  Pecan pie and a berry pie. Pumpkin, if you must.
 
Fruit Salad: Pineapple, grapes (red & green), kiwi fruit, oranges, and one lime just for fun.  No whip cream. Just fruit. It's refreshing!
 
Deviled Eggs:  They are so easy to make that it would be a crying shame to leave them out.
 
Mashed Potatoes:  Make the real ones. They are so easy to make.  And be sure to make extra so you have enough leftovers for a day or two.
 
Stuffing: I'm terrible at making stuffing so I use Stove Top right out of the box. Perhaps this is something I'll work on this year.
 
Other Stuff:  Green olives, cute little cut-up pieces of cheddar cheese and Triscuits. Whole wheat rolls. Real butter.
 
Optional:  If I have time, I like to make ham roll-ups for an appetizer.
 
Drinks:  I try to find out what kind of beverages my guests like and have that on-hand. If nothing else, Cranberry Cocktail Juice is nice. Don't forget to buy ice if you don't have an ice-maker.
 
Coffee:  It's nice to have a pot coffee ready to brew to go with the pie.
 
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Notes: 10/20/12 Dinner went well. I used my big 3-pot crock pot to keep the potatoes, stuffing and gravy hot and a small crock for the corn. Worked very well.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Speedy Oatmeal Cookies

Speedy Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup oil
1 egg
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 t vanilla
1 cup flour
1 cup oatmeal
Optional: raisins, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, craisins, nuts.

Mix together in order and bake on an ungreased cookie sheet at 350 degrees for approximately 10 or 11 minutes, depending on how done you like them.

Note: I usually double this recipe. This the BEST oatmeal cookie recipe of all time. I have never ever had a batch fail. It's quick and easy and my hubby loves these cookies. (will add photos next time I make them.)  Also, you can make this up, form the dough into ready-to-bake balls and freeze. It makes it easy to pull them out of the freezer and place right onto a cookie sheet to make cookies when surprise guests show up.

Hope you'll try it!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Hopped Up Hashbrowns

I am inspired by a cook we met when we lived in Yuma, Arizona who slung hash at Penny's Diner. It was our favorite place to go for a cheap meal. Gene always ordered .99 cent hotcake that would cover the entire plate and I loved the "hopped up hashbrowns".
 
So, here's what you need:
 
Make your hashbrowns however you like. We buy the frozen shredded ones for ease but in the wintertime I've been known to bake a whole 5 lb. bag of taters, put them in the fridge and shred them up for hashbrowns on the weekend.  Anyway ... fry up your taters and set them aside for a minute so you can do the "hopped up" part.
 
I use whatever I have in the kitchen. You can add or delete anything from this list and it will still work:
Tomatoes (chopped)
Jalapeno peppers (chopped)
Red and/or green and/or yellow peppers (chopped)
Onion (chopped)
Mushrooms (chopped)
Butter (a couple of pats) (you could use olive oil but I prefer butter)
 
Get your skillet good and hot. Put a couple of pats of butter in and before it all melts and burns, slide in your chopped up veggies.  Saute them to your liking. I like mine done on the less cooked side.
 
Warning: if your jalapeno is a hot one, you're eyes are gonna burn. Remember to turn the fan on.
 
Slide this mixture over the top of your hashbrowns and you've got a steaming hot plate of yumminess. You can add a little shredded cheddar cheese on top if you can afford the fat. I like to serve with a side of scrambled eggs. There is so much color to this that you'll want to go into the breakfast business!
 
Notes:
- Oct. 6, 2012, I made this today because I had a lot of red and yellow cherry tomatoes given to me along with a variety of hot peppers I picked up from a co-worker. I didn't add any red or green peppers and it was just fine. We hadn't had this in a long time and we enjoyed remembering our days in Yuma, Arizona over breakfast this morn. Oh my, the flavors were fresh! Thank goodness for good friends who keep me in tomatoes this time of year.