Apple Crisp

Sorry that it's not a great picture, we dug in before I could snap a good shot!

There are SO many things that I love about fall. The leaves turn beautiful colors, it's jeans and t-shirt weather, my birthday is in the fall, and APPLES GALORE!! As much as I love apples, I've never made an apple crisp before. I was having my brothers over for a casual dinner and wanted a yummy dessert to leave them with. As you know, I'm all for simple so I thought I'd try an apple crisp for the first time.

While it was simple, there was a lot of work involved with peeling and slicing the apples. Now I understand why my mother-in-law has one of those apple peelers where you crank the handle and it just peels for you!! Once that was done it was pretty quick and easy. I actually made it and then baked it about 5 hours later and it was divine!! The right amount of sweetness from the cinnamon and brown sugar on the tart green granny smith apples. Total deliciousness!

Apple Crisp
Source: Allrecipes.com

10 cups apples (I used green granny smith), peeled, cored, and sliced
1 cup white sugar
1 tbsp AP flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup water

1 cup quick cooking oats
1 cup AP flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup butter, melted


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degree C).
  2. Place the sliced apples in a 9x13 inch pan. Mix the white sugar, 1 tablespoon flour and ground cinnamon together, and sprinkle over apples. Pour water evenly over all.
  3. Combine the oats, 1 cup flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and melted butter together. Crumble evenly over the apple mixture.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for about 45 minutes.


Biggies' Penne a la Vodka

This pasta is freaking YUM! My lil brother Biggies introduced it to me and Kurt probably 4 years ago. At the time he was planning on becoming a chef so we'd invite him to dinner, buy the groceries he needed, and he'd make us a delicious meal (all while completely destroying my kitchen with dirty dishes!!)! Pretty good deal if you ask me. The first time my brother made this he just did the pasta itself and made an unbelievable pork tenderloin to go with it. Since Kurt and I live on a bit of a budget we usually add chicken to the dish instead. Now, as many times as I've tried to replicate my brother's dish, it just never tastes as good as his does. I can only chalk that up to the fact that he probably left an ingredient out so that I've got to keep inviting him over for dinner! 

Biggies' Penne a la Vodka is a simple dish with simple ingredients and it will feed a group. Pretty much everything that I look for in a meal. Oh yeah, and did I mention it's totally YUM yet?! There is red pepper flakes added to this and you can adjust to how spicy you like it. Lately I've been adding a little more red pepper because the kick of spice really adds to the dish. Do what will taste good to you but just promise me you'll make this! Added bonus: it tastes better the next day after the flavors have melded together more!

My  brother Biggies and his fiance Anna

Biggies' Penne a la Vodka
Source: My brother Biggies

1 lb. penne noodles
28oz can whole peeled tomatoes (I used diced tomatoes to save time)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1-2 shots of vodka
herbs de provence
salt & pepper 

1. Add pasta to boiling water. Cook 11-12 minutes to al dente, drain.

2. In a big pot/pan, lightly saute the garlic and onions until they start to sweat. Add tomatoes, cover, and cook for about 5-7 minutes. 

3. Remove cover and crush the tomatoes with your spoon. Add herbs de provence, salt, and pepper and let simmer for a few minutes.

4. Add pasta and stir. Remove from heat and add about 1 cup of heavy cream, stir to combine. Add vodka, stir, cover, and let sit for a few minutes to let flavors meld. 

***I do usually add cubed and cooked chicken after I crush the tomatoes. My brother has also cooked a pork tenderloin and served that on the side. 


Baked Cream Cheese Spaghetti

If you haven't been hiding under a rock you've heard of Pinterest, aka heroin for adult women! This recipe has circulated Pinterest once or twice and every time I see it come through I'd think, that looks SO good! Finally I had a night where I knew I wanted a pasta dish (wait, isn't that every night?!) however I didn't feel like the same old thing and that is when I remembered this gem. I had all the ingredients, as you probably do too, and whipped it up with the help of my sous chef, Riglee. 

Was it good? It was phenomenal! The noodles are coated with a cream cheese mixture and when Baked with the sauce on top, the sauce just melts down between the noodles. I think a 9x13 pan of this was gone the next day because we ended up eating the leftovers for dinner the next night too. And if you have kids, a guaranteed crowd pleaser!! This will definitely make the comfort food rotation in my casa!

12 oz spaghetti
1 (28 ounce) jars prepared spaghetti sauce
1 lb lean ground beef
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 clove garlic, minced (I omitted this)
8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. In a skillet, brown the ground beef until cooked through; drain fat and stir in spaghetti sauce. Set aside.

2. Cook spaghetti according to directions on packet.  Drain and place cooked spaghetti in bowl.  Add cream cheese, Italian Seasoning and minced garlic.  Stir until cream cheese is melted and the spaghetti is thoroughly coated. 

3. Lightly grease a 9x13" pan.  Spread a small amount of meat sauce in the bottom of the dish.  Put spaghetti on top of sauce and top with remaining meat sauce (I actually did 2 layers of spaghetti and sauce). Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top and  bake for 30 minutes, until bubbly. 


Grandpa D's Beef Enchiladas

About 4 years ago Kurt and I were visiting his Grandma and Grandpa in Illinois and staying over for dinner. Kurt's grandpa is one amazing cook and he made us these beef enchiladas. I don't think it took Kurt more than a few days to request them in the rotation. Luckily I got the recipe from Grandpa before we left that weekend. Sadly Kurt's grandpa passed last year but we will always have the fond memories of him and his amazing meals!!

These are super simple beef enchiladas that are always a crowd pleaser. I also like them because you can make them ahead of time and freeze them if you want so they can be a quick meal to just pop in the oven when you get home from work. Needless to say, this is husband approved!!

Beef Enchiladas
Source: Grandpa D

1 lb. ground beef
2 cans enchilada sauce (I usually buy La Preferida)
8 taco shells
1 can of corn
brick on monterey jack cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar or taco cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. brown ground beef in a pan. While browning the beef put 1 1/2 can of enchilada sauce in a small pot on the stove and heat through. Drain, rinse, and return the beef to pan once cooked. Add 1/2 enchilada sauce and corn to ground beef. 

2. Prepare to get a little messy! Dump remaining 1/2 can of enchilada sauce on bottom of 9x13 pan and spread around and up the sides a little. Take 1 taco shell and spoon some warm enchilada sauce into the middle and spread around. Spoon about 1/4 cup beef mixture into center of taco shell and roll up. I usually fold in the right and left sides then roll the shell up. Place enchilada seam-side down into 9x13 pan. Repeat with remaining taco shells.

3. Take leftover enchilada sauce from the stove and spread/pour over enchiladas in pan. Slice long slices of the monterey jack cheese and lay over the center of each enchilada. Sprinkle shredded cheese over entire dish and bake until all the cheese is melty and yummy looking! Enjoy!


Chicken Pot Pie

Now that it's going to be amazing weather, I've finally decided to jump back on the blog bandwagon and I'm going to start with a favorite winter comfort food, Chicken Pot Pie! Now, my mama always made the absolute best chicken pot pie when I was growing up. When I went to college she gave me her recipe and I always tried to replicate it and it was always delicious but never quite "mama's chicken pot pie." I think it has to do with her special ingredient...she always said it was love but I'm guessing she put a little something else in it and just never told me what it was ;)! 

I have to say, I love me some chicken pot pie but I really don't enjoy all the prep work with it. A few years ago I came home from work and wanted chicken pot pie but didn't feel like doing all the work like making the rue, chopping fresh veggies, etc. So I made some easy substitutions and created this AMAZING and QUICK chicken pot pie!! I always get a triple thumbs up from the husband and he always has seconds so I know this is worth making.

Cristina's Chicken Pot Pie
Source: All me baby

2 pre-made pie crusts (I use Pillsbury, they are in the refrigerator section)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can sliced carrots
1 can diced potatoes
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
1 lb. chicken breast, cubed
1/2 can milk (I use the can from the cream of chicken soup)
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
Salt & Pepper (probably about 1/2 tsp. each, maybe a little more)

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Put some EVOO in a frying pan. When hot add the chicken. Sprinkle chicken with about 1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning and some salt and pepper and cook all the way through.

2. While chicken is cooking, put peas in a strainer and run hot water over them for about 1 minute. Once unfrozen, add the cans of sliced carrots and diced potatoes so they can drain. 

3. In a bowl, pour in the cream of chicken soup, 1/2 can of milk, remaining poultry seasoning, salt, and pepper (I like mine a little peppery so I put a couple extra dashes in there) and mix until combined.

4. Add the veggies and the cooked chicken to the mixture in the bowl and stir until completely combined.

5. Roll out both pre-made pie crusts. Put one in the bottom of a deep dish pie dish (it's a 1.5 quart glass dish that I use) and make sure there are no air bubbles and that the crust comes all the way up the sides. Then pour in the pot pie mixtures and spread out evenly. Finally put the last pie crust on top and pinch the edges tight to the bottom pie crust. Cut 4 slits on top and bake for about 30 minutes at 375 degrees, or until the top crust is golden. I usually put some butter or an egg wash on top 10 minutes into the cook time. 


Christmas 2011 Feast

As some of you may know, Kurt and I stay at our house on Christmas. Our parents did such a great job making Christmas so special for us as kids, we want Riglee (and any future children) to have that same Christmas morning excitement! So we literally hunker down, lock the doors, stay in our jammies, and eat all day long. Like last year, we had a feast of appetizers on Christmas day. We pretty much leave the food out all day and just eat as we please. Here is a taste of our day:

Crackers with Goat Cheese and Green Olives (I never said that we were classy, just that we like good  food)

Black Olive Dip served with Ruffles

Taco Dip with Tostitos

Hot Dip (Velveeta cheese, Jimmy Dean's Hot Sausage, 1 can diced tomatoes with juice)

Veggies and Ranch Dip - we can be healthy too!

Meatballs in Plum Sauce and  BBQ Little Weenies

Shrimp Cocktail (my grandma Normie gave me this amazing hand pounded serving platter)

Pumpernickel breads (Pumpernickel with mayo, onions, and a slice of swiss cheese on top)

And this is all of it! We had an abundance of cookies at the far end for our sweets.