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Mom’s Goulash

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I never learned to make goulash – I just knew it had noodles, ground beef, and tomatoey stuff going on in it, according to my Mom’s memories of what her mother made. But she never made it so I just came up with my own way of making it which was sort of like the same way I made spaghetti with meat sauce, but just with macaroni noodles instead.  I have my favorite version of my own version posted here.

I finally had real (real as in the Americanized real, not the Hungarian real) goulash at my in-law’s house.  I’d been wanting to get my MIL’s recipe for a long time, because although Dennis never says “this isn’t like Mom used to make,” I’ve always wanted to cook his favorite meals that he grew up eating and goulash topped that list.  His Mom’s goulash is really, really good!  After enjoying it on Easter, I asked her exactly what she put in it so I could recreate it at home.  I’ve never turned out better goulash and Den’s favorite is now one of my absolute favorites as well. We could eat this almost every week!

Mom’s Goulash

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1/2 lb macaroni
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 large onion, diced
garlic salt, pepper, chili powder, & hot sauce to taste
2 (14.5 oz) cans whole stewed tomatoes, undrained
2 tablespoons ketchup
Tomato juice as needed

Cook the macaroni to al dente according to package directions. While it’s cooking, brown the ground beef and onion together in an extra-large skillet or in a dutch oven. Drain and season with spices to taste. In a large bowl, mash tomatoes with potato masher and add to beef along with the ketchup. Drain macaroni and add to the beef mixture, stirring well. Taste and add additional seasoning as needed. I didn’t need to add any tomato juice to mine, but if you like yours very juicy you can add as much tomato juice as you like. Phyllis adds it to her leftovers, which I would also recommend, because the noodles tend to soak up all the juice with time.

Recipe source: Phyllis Miller

P.S. Happy anniversary to my hubby! These have been the best 14 years of my life.

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Chicken and Dumpling Casserole

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Chicken & Dumpling Casserole | veronicascornucopia.com

Although the first day of spring has come and gone, it’s been chilly and blustery here in Kansas, so I thought I’d share this warm and delicious casserole for everyone that’s still eagerly awaiting spring before it’s hot and sweltering and nobody wants to bake a casserole. This is pure comfort food and perfect to warm the soul on a chilly day.  It’s very quick and simple to make, which is good if you have a baby that has decided that if you aren’t holding him or playing with him or taking him on a stroller ride, he isn’t happy, because you won’t have to listen to him scream for very long  before dinner is in the oven. ;)

Chicken and Dumpling Casserole

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3 – 4 cups cooked chicken, cut into bite sized pieces (use rotisserie chicken if desired)
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups chicken broth
1 (10.75 oz) can cream of chicken soup

Preheat oven to 400F. Place butter in 9″ X 13″ baking dish and place in oven while it’s preheating. Once butter is melted, you can remove the pan to continue with the recipe, or let it cook a little to brown it and add an extra dimension of flavor. Be sure to watch it if you decide to let it brown because it can go from nutty to burnt pretty quickly.

Remove pan from the oven and sprinkle prepared chicken over the top of the butter. In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, flour, baking powder and salt. Pour over the chicken, but do not stir. In same bowl, after scraping out as much flour mixture as possible, whisk together chicken broth and cream of chicken soup. Pour that over top of casserole; do not stir.

Bake uncovered for 35 – 45 minutes. When done, the top will be beautifully browned and bubbly around the edges.

Yield: about 6 servings

Veronica’s notes: I boiled a whole chicken for this recipe. It was about 5 lbs and I covered it with water in a stock pot and added a teaspoon of salt, boiling for an hour or two. I forgot to set the timer so I really don’t know how long I boiled it because I was so busy with the baby- lol. If you make it this way, it’s very economical, and you automatically make your own broth to use in the recipe.

Recipe source: The Better Baker

Really Great Spaghetti & Meatballs


Growing up, I practically lived on spaghetti.  It was the one “junk” food my Mom allowed us to eat (junk because it wasn’t whole wheat spaghetti).  Therefore it’s what I ate most of (because I hated health food)!  Spaghetti with Ragù sauce – I loved it.  But the best was when I made meatballs to go with it, which was a special treat because we didn’t do a lot of meat in our house.  I remember one time I was cooking my famous spaghetti & meatballs dinner for the family when I was about twelve and they all left me at home to cook while they went to the health food store.  I didn’t really love the health food store, but I still cried into my meatballs because I didn’t want to be left out.  Meanie old Davis family! haha

Anyway, this recipe is a lot different from the one I made growing up, but my recipe was little more than ground beef mixed with tons and tons of garlic powder, salt and pepper, rolled up and cooked in a skillet before being added to a pot of pasta with Ragù sauce on it.  I will always love meatballs made that way because that’s how I ate them growing up and have a fondness for it, but honestly these are better, the best I’ve had, actually, and I love the cooking method.  You don’t have to cook them separately, you just plunk them into the sauce and let it simmer away!  So simple.  It also makes the meatballs more tender and moist to cook them this way, and the flavor of the sauce and the meatballs both benefit from cooking slowly together.

The sauce is a very simple recipe and so, so good.  The amount of black pepper gives it a bit of a spicy kick so I’d cut it by half if you don’t like heat.  This is now my go-to spaghetti sauce (I’ve made it twice in the last week) and I hope you’ll give it a try!

Really Great Spaghetti & Meatballs

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Sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
1 tablespoon dried oregano
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Meatballs
1 egg
1 lb lean ground beef
1/3 cup Italian breadcrumbs
1 1/2 teaspoons dried parsley
2 teaspoons dried oregano
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper

1 (1 lb) package spaghetti

Remove ground beef from the fridge to allow it to come to room temperature while the sauce cooks.

Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Swirl to coat the bottom of the pan to coat. Add the onion and garlic and saute, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 7 minutes. Lower the heat if they begin to burn. The more color that develops on the onion and garlic, the more flavor they’ll add to the finished sauce.

Once the onions and garlic are tender and caramel in color, add the crushed tomatoes and the tomato paste and stir until the mixture is smooth and well combined. Add the remaining sauce ingredients (oregano through pepper), stir, and bring the mixture to a simmer. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting, cover the pot, and let cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally so that the bottom does not burn.

Make the meatballs: Lightly beat the egg in a large mixing bowl. Break apart the beef as best you can into the bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Use your hands to mix together until well incorporated, trying not to overmix, which could render your meatballs more tough. Shape the meat mixture into 12 balls (I always get 13), each about 1 ½ inches in diameter. Drop them into the sauce, stir gently so that they’re all covered in sauce. It might look like there’s only enough sauce for the meatballs and there won’t be enough for pasta, especially if you’re like me and love your sauce, but trust me, there’s enough. Let them cook, covered, for about 1 1/2 hours over low heat, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.

Once the meatballs are done, cook your spaghetti to al dente according to the package directions, drain, pile some onto plates, and top with sauce and meatballs.

Veronica’s Notes: your tomatoes matter. I bought very cheap tomato puree (and tomato paste, for that matter) from Aldi that was excellent but found that Walmart’s brand, which is higher in price, was horrible by comparison. Buy good tomatoes or you won’t have good sauce. Also, the original recipe used mint in the meatballs instead of parsley and I just wanted to mention that in case you’d like to try it.

Recipe source: Can You Stay for Dinner

Roasted Tomato & Portabella Meatloaf

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Meatloaf with mashed potatoes and Italian Green Beans is my ultimate comfort meal.  But for some reason I rarely make it!  In fact, I only have one other recipe for meatloaf on my blog.  What is up with that?  There’s a good reason that I don’t make other favorites like pecan pie and cheesecake – because I puffy heart loooove them would eat way too much of those fat and sugar bombs.  But meatloaf isn’t necessarily unhealthy (you can even use ground turkey if you like!) and is so delicious.  I really need to make it more often.

My first meatloaf sammie! So good.

I adapted this recipe from my Foodie Mama, Marina‘s, recipe, which she adapted from the original Quaker Oats recipe.  I love that about the online foodie world – recipes keep shifting and changing as they pass from person to person.  I didn’t mean to get all fancy pants on my meatloaf, but baby portabella mushrooms were on sale at Aldi (LOVE ALDI!) for 99 cents and I had no idea what I was going to do with them, and when I decided on meatloaf I had no tomato sauce and had to make my own with canned roasted tomatoes (also from Aldi), so this wonderful meatloaf was born.

This is probably my favorite meatloaf I’ve had so far, but I know there are a lot of different ways to make it and I don’t have a ton of versions to compare it to.  It’s got lots of great flavor, the added veggies keep it nice and moist, and we thought the the sweet and sour roasted tomato sauce really put it over the top.  I hope you enjoy it too!

Roasted Tomato and Portabella Meatloaf

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2 lbs lean ground beef
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 (8 oz) package mini portabella mushrooms, chopped
1 small onion (or ½ of a medium), diced
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 (15 oz) can diced roasted tomatoes, undrained
¾ cup quick oats
1 large egg
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, divided
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ cup ketchup
½ cup brown sugar
¼ teaspoon lemon juice

Take the ground beef out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before starting the recipe.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and add the mushrooms, onion, and garlic. Saute until softened and all the liquid is evaporated; set aside. Place the roasted tomatoes, with the juice, in a food processor or blender and process for about a minute, or until pureed. Spoon out ½ cup of the puree and add the mushroom mixture to the remaining puree. Process until vegetables are very finely chopped, or until pureed if you don’t want to see them in your meatloaf. If you are using a blender, you might have to stop frequently to stir the mixture.

In a large bowl, mix the ground beef with the tomato and mushroom mixture, oats, egg, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, salt, and black pepper. Pat into a loaf pan and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the reserved toasted tomato puree with ketchup, brown sugar, lemon juice, and 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce. Spread ½-2/3 cup of the sauce over the meatloaf and bake for 1 ½ hours, or until a meat thermometer inserted in the center reads 160F. Remove from oven and carefully pour off the liquid; allow to sit for ten minutes before slicing and serving. Refrigerate leftovers and make meatloaf sandwiches the next day. :)

What’s your ultimate comfort food? Here are a few of my personal favorites…

Chunky Chicken Soup

Easy Salisbury Steaks with Onion Gravy

Creamy Green Chile Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Sweet Potato Pizza

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Although my favorite pizza isn’t fancy or interesting (supreme with regular ol’ pizza sauce), I do love to try new things and this recipe, found in the latest Taste of Home magazine, called to me.  My husband doesn’t like sweet potatoes and I have this weird thing where if he doesn’t like something, I try to find a way that he will enjoy it.  I want everyone to like the things I like – I’m a control freak like that. ;)

Anyway, he hates eggplant even worse than he dislikes sweet potatoes, and I once got him to enjoy it on a pizza, so I figured it would work with sweet potato too.  I was right!  He might not have enjoyed it as much as our mutually loved supreme pizza, but he gobbled it up and said “it’s good” when I asked what he thought, so I count this as a success.  :)

Sweet Potato Pizza

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2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for pan
1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium sweet potato, about 10 oz.
2 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 tube (13.8 oz) refrigerated pizza dough*
8 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded*
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed

In a small microwave-safe bowl, stir the olive oil and garlic together; microwave for 30 seconds and set aside to infuse while preparing pizza. Preheat oven to 450F. Rub plain olive oil over a large 14″ pizza pan; set aside.

Peel the sweet potato and cut into 1/4-inch slices. Cut each slice into 1/2-inch wide strips; place in a microwave-safe dish and add the water. Cover and microwave on high 3-4 minutes, or until potato is almost tender. Drain; sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss together gently.

Unroll pizza dough and press to fit prepared pan. If desired, pinch edge to form a rim. Sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese and one tablespoon of the garlic olive oil. Top with sweet potato and sprinkle with the herbs. Drizzle with remaining tablespoon of garlic oil and sprinkle on the Parmesan cheese. Bake on lowest oven rack 12-15 minutes or until crust is golden and cheese is melted.

*Veronica’s notes: if you prefer to make your own crust, go for it! This is my favorite whole wheat crust. The original recipe called for 1 cup of mozzarella and 1 cup of fontina cheese, but I couldn’t find the latter and went with all mozzarella.  I’d definitely encourage you to try it with fontina if you can find it – I’m sure it’s even better that way!

Recipe source: adapted from Taste of Home Feb/March 2014, sent in by Libby Walp of Chicago, IL

Lookin’ for more pizza with pizzaz? Here are a few of my personal favorites:

Shrimp & Bacon Ranch Pizza

Fresh Vegetable Pizza

Cheeseburger Pie

Skillet Cheeseburger Macaroni

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You may be thinking I forgot it’s Thursday and I’m supposed to be thankful today, but you’re wrong!  I wrote this post  Tuesday night to be published Wednesday, but when I went to add the photos, I realized my memory card that had them on it was missing.  One minute it was in my laptop, the next it was just gone.  It took me almost twenty four hours to find it, and I’m super thankful I did, otherwise I couldn’t have shared this recipe, and many others, with you.  Hopefully you are thankful I found it too. :D

I came across this recipe in the latest Cook’s Country magazine and made it almost immediately since I had all the ingredients on hand.  It is a super simple and quick recipe to make, and unlike a lot of my fast & easy go-to dinners, does not include any boxed mixes or canned soups.  I don’t mind prepackaged stuff too much, but I do appreciate a quick & delicious dinner that is made from scratch!

I really enjoyed this, and Dennis liked it even more than I did.  I missed the sweetness from ketchup that is on a regular burger (this recipe has no added sweetener at all) so I actually dotted my plate with a little ketchup and enjoyed it much more that way.  Try it if you miss that hint of sweetness too.

Skillet Cheeseburger Macaroni

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1 lb. 85% lean ground beef (I used 93% lean)
1 cup finely chopped onion, divided
12 oz (3 cups) elbow macaroni
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon dry mustard
Salt and pepper
6 oz. chopped deli American cheese (I used cheddar)
1/2 cup chopped dill pickles

Cook beef and 1/2 cup of the onion in a large 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until beef is no longer pink, about 7 minutes. Add macaroni, chicken broth, tomato sauce, Worcestershire, mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until macaroni is tender, 8-10 minutes. Stir in cheese, pickles, and remaining 1/2 cup onion. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.

Recipe source: Cook’s Country October/November 2013

Hungry for noodles? You might enjoy these simple recipes…

Simple Goulash

Penne alla Boscaiola

Soba Noodles in Peanut Sauce {Vegan}

Creamy Green Chile Chicken Enchilada Casserole


Wow, that title is a mouthful!  Sometimes it’s hard to stick to a two or three-word recipe name when there’s so much goodness going on with it.  I had to tell you this was creamy, because that’s one of the best features of this dish.  I had to tell you it features green chiles, both straight up and in salsa verde, because the flavor profile this creates with the creamy & cheesy ingredients is rockin’.  And it’s a chicken enchilada casserole so I couldn’t exclude those words.  For your sake, I didn’t mention the beans in the title, though I was tempted to call this “Creamy Green Chile Chicken & White Bean Enchilada Casserole.”  You gotta draw the line somewhere, am I right?

Pretty much everything I eat right now seems like the best thing I’ve ever eaten in my life.  So maybe it’s not true that this is the best thing I’ve ever eaten in my life, but it sure felt that way while I was eating it.  It’s filling (yay for protein, fat and fiber! hehe), which made me so sad because I wanted to eat the whole casserole, in one sitting, all by myself.  It seriously rocked my world.  I was so excited to serve it to my husband (we hardly ever eat dinner together, and on this occasion I actually ate before him, which is unusual since he usually gets off work before me) and I tried not to lean over his shoulder to gauge his reaction.  But I kinda did.  He never gets excited about food like I do, but he said it was “really good” and ate a huge plateful rather quickly, then went back for more.  I’d say that’s a big two thumbs up from the Den man!

There’s pepper in this dish, but the black flecks come mainly from the roasted salsa verde, linked to in the recipe.

I based the recipe off of my favorite Creamy Chicken Enchiladas, and maybe it’s just that I haven’t had them in over a year (so many recipes, so little time), but I do believe this green casserole version is even better than the original enchiladas.  All I know is it’s good, and I would definitely make it for company!

Creamy Green Chile Chicken Enchilada Casserole

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1 ½ lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 medium onion
2 tablespoons butter
1 (7 oz) can chopped green chiles
½ cup salsa verde (I used Walmart’s World Table Roasted Salsa Verde, which I highly recommend)
1 (15.5 oz) can white beans (such as navy or Great Northern), drained and rinsed
1 cup light sour cream
1 (10.5 oz) can light cream of chicken soup
1 ½ cups Monterrey Jack, divided
1 ½ cups Cheddar, divided
*OR 3 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend substituted for both cheeses
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
8-10 white corn tortillas, quartered
Butter for pan

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13×9 pan with butter and set aside.

Salt your chicken breasts and cook them in a skillet or grill (I use my George Foreman). Allow to cool enough that they won’t burn your hands, then chop them up; set aside.

While the chicken is cooking, heat a skillet over medium-high heat and chop up your onion. Melt the butter in the heated skillet and add the onions, sautéing until softened. Stir in the green chiles and salsa verde and cook for 3-5 more minutes to cook off some of the liquid. Add the chicken, white beans, sour cream, cream of chicken soup, 2 cups of the cheese (reserve the rest for the top), garlic powder, salt, and pepper.  Stir together until well blended and cheese is melted.

Spread a small amount of the chicken mixture over the bottom of your prepared pan, then put a layer of the quartered tortillas over it, slightly overlapping. Spread half of the remaining chicken mixture over the tortillas, then another layer of tortillas, and finish with the remaining chicken mixture. Sprinkle the reserved cheese over the top, then cover with foil that has been sprayed with cooking spray to keep the cheese from sticking (or use the nonstick foil). Bake for 15 minutes, remove foil, and bake another 5 minutes or until bubbling around the edges. Let sit 10 minutes before cutting.

Veronica’s notes: I highly recommend shredding your own cheese, as the preshredded kind doesn’t melt as well and IMHO, does not taste as good. You will need ¾ of an 8 ounce block of both cheddar and Monterrey Jack for this recipe (every 8 oz block makes 2 cups of shredded cheese). The tortillas are super simple to cut into quarters if you layer five tortillas and use a pizza cutter on them, or a chef’s knife. Also, this would make an excellent meatless meal if you just replace the chicken with another 2-3 cans of white beans.

A Veronica’s Cornucopia original, with help for transforming it into a casserole from 4 Little Fergusons

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