Ham, Swiss, and Asparagus Rolls on a Bed of Potato – Recipe

 Our family really loves to try new recipes.  We love food in general, and certainly love to be gathered around the table together, with lots of it. We have many favorite meals that we have on a regular basis, but it’s always fun and exciting to try something new. And if it’s really good, we’ll have it again, or roll it right in with our regular rotations of meals.
This new one, that I call ‘Ham, Swiss and Asparagus Rolls on a Bed of Potato’, we made for the first time well over a year ago, and it was a big hit.
Just getting to share this recipe with you all now.

000_ham-swiss-asparagus-rolls-potato-casserole
 General Ingredients:
potatoes
deli/sliced ham
Swiss cheese
asparagus

I’d call it fairly healthy meal, except maybe for the ham. (With the sodium, nitrates and all of that.)
But swiss cheese is a good choice, potatoes aren’t all that bad, and asparagus is great vegetable.We really love it and eat lots of it – organic and steamed.

This casserole of sorts, couldn’t be easier to make. 
You simply whip up a batch of mashed potatoes, however you normally would. I know I add milk, butter, salt and pepper.
Spread it into the bottom of a buttered 9×13″ glass casserole/cake pan.
Then you do the following next -

001_how-to-make-ham-swiss-asparagus-rolls-potato-casserole-recipe Lay a (not too thin)slice of swiss cheese, topped with sliced ham, and then asparagus.
Then you just roll it up, as seen above.

003_how-to-make-ham-swiss-asparagus-rolls-potato-casserole-recipe Line them up in your bed of potato!
You can add extra slices of swiss over the top if you wish.
Then bake at 400° for 25 minutes.

005_ham-swiss-asparagus-rolls-potato-casserole The house smelled so good!
We knew we’d be loving them.

006_ham-swiss-asparagus-rolls-potato-casserole And then . . . . . . we did.
Give them a try! Hope you all do as well.

Jalapeno Jack and Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

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Do you have a recipe that you are known for?  You know…a recipe that others consider ‘yours’.  Maybe one that’s requested by others for family and friend gatherings, with such expressions as, “Oh, can you make and bring your ___________?”. 
My mother was known for her baked beans.  Some even called them “Jean’s Beans”.  My husband is already known for his homemade pizza; which is actually his family’s recipe, handed down.

I wondered for some years if I would ever have a recipe others thought of as ‘mine’, until I did. My Jalapeno Jack and Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese!  Granted, I think it might only be my own little family here who knows of and requests my fabulous macaroni and cheese but hey….we all start small. And home is always a heartfelt place to start.   Oh wait, come to think of it, I did make a huge batch of this Macaroni and Cheese (double this recipe=LOTS) to our friend’s 4th of July bash this year; and not only were people eating it up, but she messaged me at 11 p.m. that night to tell me she was eating the leftovers.

But I’ve never given anyone the recipe until now. I’m happy to share it with you; our following-friends.

00a_macaroni-and-cheese-recipe (You will want to save this recipe, so you might as well Pin this post with the photo above, now. 
There is a printable recipe at the bottom, that you can come and get anytime.)

Whether served for dinner after a brisk day, on a football Sunday afternoon, or just because you need some (it happens….right?), my recipe, Jalapeno Jack and Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese, is the epitome of comfort food. Mine has a little *kick* to it, because of the jalapeno jack cheese. (I also had extra black pepper to it. We love our black pepper.)
Make it once, and you may find your loved ones keep asking for it again and again, too.

I’m just going to walk you through the steps here as a visual aid, and then I’ll give you the printable recipe at the end of the post.

01_mac-and-cheese-ingredients Participating Ingredients
1 box/lb. Rotini Pasta
1/2 stick or 4 Tbs. of Butter
1 medium. Onion, chopped
1 Tsp. of Salt
1/2 Tsp. of Black Pepper
1/3 C. of All Purpose Flour
3-1/2 C. of Milk
8 Oz. of Jalapeno Jack Cheese; rough into small blocks ~ 1-1/2″ or so
8 Oz. of Sharp Cheddar Cheese; rough into small blocks ~ 1-1/2″ or so

Also…..
08_opened-package-round-crackers . . . . a sleeve of Ritz Crackers.

09 Place the crackers in a zip lock bag, and seal it, removing any air as best you can.
Then just crush the crackers all up.  Any bits of bigger pieces is fine. See photo above? Good enough.

Bring a sauce pan of water to a boil and cook pasta to al dente;  7 minutes, and drain.  Put pasta back in (same) rinsed pan.

But while you are waiting for the water to boil . . . .
In a skillet over medium heat (stove depending), stir butter, chopped onion, salt and pepper until the onion is tender, and appearing more translucent. 
02  
*Slowly sift in flour, blending it in to the mixture as you go. 
*This will be the hardest part, because the mixture gets dry and crumbly, and it’ll really seem like you don’t need any more flour, when you still have lots to sift in. Just keep working with it. Add a little more butter if you feel you need to, but use at least most of your flour. Because remember, this is the base of your cheese sauce you’re about to make, and the flour adds to it’s thickness.

Next, and not shown in photos, once the flour is all mixed in, remove from the heat and slowly pour in your milk, stirring as you do.
Place back on heated burner, stirring constantly, and bring just to a boil.

 Remove from heat again, and add all of your cheese cubes.  Stir immediately, and place back on heated burner.
04_cheese-sauce Continue to stir until all of the cubed cheese is melted.  (Don’t confuse the other lumps with your onions. ;)

– This is a good time to preheat your oven to 375º. –

05_cheese-sauce Cheese sauce will be nice and smooth.

07 Pour all of your cheese sauce into your pan of pasta.
Scrape out every last bit, and mix with the pasta well.

Pour all of macaroni and cheese mixture into an ungreased 1-1/2 or 2 qt. casserole dish.

10_macaroni-and-cheese-recipe (Seen in photo above is a 2 qt. casserole dish.)
Then sprinkle the crushed crackers all over the top, covering it well.

Bake uncovered at 375º for 20 minutes.

11_macaroni-and-cheese-recipe Look at that!  Creamy and cheesy and soooo good, you can only imagine, until you try it!
Serve, enjoy and be ready for rave reviews!
This dish also reheats well. (If you have any left.)

The buttery Ritz crackers have a slightly sweet taste in complimentary contrast to the slightly spicy macaroni.
The heat does build in your mouth some as you eat. But we don’t mind.  ;)

12_macaroni-and-cheese-recipe Hope you love it as much as we do! 

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE RECIPE

~ Laura

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Chicken and Salsa / Super Simple, Super Delicious

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I’m about to rave about this meal, and I have countless reasons why.  It’s been a favorite of our family’s for quite some time now.  We all really love it.  When we have a very busy scheduled day, this is most always what I plan for supper, because it’s that easy and fast, to prep any of it.  Like, ridiculous. Especially for the amazingly delicious meal that it is.  It can actually be made and ready in 2 to 2-1/2 hours cooked on high, if you’d like. Or, you can let it slow cook all day. Either way, it’s super quick, easy prep-work, and pretty much ready to eat when you are.  

Here’s a few other reason why I love it:  You don’t have to handle raw chicken at all!  I don’t know about you, but I’m just not particularly fond of touching raw chicken.  I will, and I’m not real freaked out. But I’d rather not if I don’t have to. And with this meal, I don’t have to!  It  is sooooooo good, and it’s so healthy too!
It has 4 out of the 5 food groups in my book:  protein, vegetables, grain, and dairy.

You need a slow cooker of some kind. So I hope you have one.

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This is the slow cooker we have. It’s a GE 6 Qt. Digital Slow Cooker, and I LOVE it. It holds enough to cook at least 2+ full meals for our family of 6. 
The container lifts right out of the heating element, to be put on the table, and it’s super easy to clean as well.

01_slow-cooker-chicken-salsa-rice-easy-crockpot-meals So many different bursting flavors, with every bite.

Let me show you how easy this is to make.   Even the ingredients are minimal.
02_slow-cooker-chicken-salsa-rice-easy-crockpot-meals Chicken breasts, a jar of salsa, brown rice, and shredded cheese.

03_individually-packaged-chicken-breasts The pre-packaged chicken is our trick.  There are 2 breasts in each wrapper. Just cut open the end of each package with scissors, drain the excess water, and dump the chicken into the slow cooker pot. We make up to 8 breasts at a time, for a batch that last for at least 2 family (of 6) meals, and usually more still left over. The 2 breasts in each wrapper are sometimes attached to each other, so I just use a fork and make sure they are all open and spread well in the pot.

04_salsa-jar Then you just cover all of the chicken in salsa!
Now, just because I have my little ways of doing things, I actually put a little layer of salsa all over the bottom of the pot first, put in the chicken, and then pour the rest of the salsa over the top.
But that’s it!

Then I set the slow cooker.  I can set it to low, and let it cook for 5-6 hours or whatever. Or if it’s a last minute idea, the chicken will pretty much cook in 2 or 2-1/2 hours on high. 
Now here’s an extra step that I personally do, because I want the chicken as flavorful as possible:  As soon as all of the chicken is cooked (it is so tender, it’s crazy), I take each cooked breast out at a time, cut it into chunks on a plate, and scrape it back in the pot.  Repeating for each breast until it’s all cut up.  Leaving it all simmering in there with the salsa just adds that much more tastiness.

We like to have this chicken and salsa over brown rice. (It’s healthier than white. We’re all about whole grains around here.) So here’s another speedy trick  . . .
05_boil-in-a-bag-rice Boil-in-Bag Brown Rice, in 10 minutes. No measuring!  We need 2 bags.
But gosh….could it be any easier? Take the bags of cooked rice out of the water, let drain for a sec, snip off the top, and dump it in a bowl. Done!

06_shredded-cheese At the table, we each just sprinkle some cheese on top.  Because it’s just all so good together.

07_slow-cooker-chicken-salsa-rice-easy-crockpot-meals The chicken comes out so unbelievably tender, and so tasty with the salsa juices and bits of salsa vegetables. It’s perfect on top brown rice.
And the sprinkle of cheese on top makes a fabulous meal, even better.

I never really feel like I put any time worth mentioning, into making supper, when I make this meal.
And yet, we’re all around the table eating delicious food together, and talking about how good it is.
08_slow-cooker-chicken-salsa-rice-easy-crockpot-meals   Try it on your family, and let us know what the reviews are.
We’ll be surprised if you all don’t love it too.

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7 Layer Salad, with Sides – Summer Light & Just Right

If you live in a climate where summers can be hot & humid, than you probably have days like me when you can’t even think of cooking dinner, in a hot kitchen.  You’re looking for a meal that is cool, light, and delicious.  We probably all have our regular stand-bys, but I just discovered a new favorite, and I’m here to share it with you!

One of the best parts of having link-up party on Tuesdays, has not only been the simple home decor or craft ideas, but the recipes shared!  This ‘7 Layer Salad’ was a link-up, and I thought it was so enticing, we made it right away, and then featured it! >  Because our whole family loved it!  As I said in the feature, even the kids were ‘scoffin’ & commentin’ through the whole meal, and were thrilled to have leftovers the next night.  (Honestly, they cheered.)

I think the name alone, 7 Layer Salad, is FUN, and sound enticing.  And the great thing is, if you don’t care for one of the ingredients/layers, you can substitute it with something you prefer, and still call it 7 Layer Salad! But we made it just like the recipe called for, and it was a hit in our mouths, and our bellies.

Here’s the recipe, layer-by-cool & easy-layer:

7 Layer Salad

*In order that ingredients are put into the bowl, building bottom to top:

  • 6 cups fresh, washed Spinach
  • 2 cups Grape Tomatoes, halved (Cherry Tomatoes would work too.)
  • 1 cup Red Onion, chopped
  • 1-1/4 cup frozen Peas, thawed & drained
  • 1 cup Cheddar Cheese, shredded
  • 6 slices Bacon, cooked & chopped*
  • 3 Hard-Boiled Eggs, quartered or sliced

* Use microwavable bacon!  Remember, we not cooking tonight! ; )

 

Then, I added a few perfect sides, still keeping the meal cool & light:

Some fresh and cold rolled-up Turkey meat & Apple slices.

 

Serve with a tall glass of cold lemonade, and you have yourself a perfect and light summer meal!  Lunch or dinner!

(OK, that particular glass in the photo, happened to be my Mike’s Hard Lemonade. But, you know, can do Country Time if you’d like!)

As a salad dressing, consider Balsamic Vinegar, or a Raspberry Vinaigrette.  My kids love both, but yours may prefer their regular favorite.

 

As if this meal wasn’t perfect enough to me, I added my favorite topping.  Most every salad is ‘betta, with Feta’.

Scrum-de-licious!

We are always looking for new & delicious recipes to try, any time of the year!  So if you have a favorite or few that you’d like to share with us, send it in!  Just email it to us anytime, and if it sounds good to us, we’ll make it, photograph it, and blog it! (With credit to you!)

That’s all for this share. Keep Cool, Folks!





Chicken Italiano

 
As slow cooker meals go, this is definitely a family favorite!

Chicken Italiano.

It may not be the most colorful meal, but don’t let that deter you from trying it, or you’ll be missing out! It’ll likely become a favorite of your families as well. It is creamy, rich, and so delicious, with the tender flavorful chicken chunks, and a rich cream cheese based sauce with mushrooms.  It’s a perfect slow cooker meal, that is easy to make, and makes the house smell wonderful! All slow cooker meals are fabulous in the colder months. But really, we are happy to make it & eat it year round! It’s that good. Everything we eat in the warmer months, can’t be cold food. Right? There are days year-round, that we need something super easy, super good, and ready at dinner time! So you get it going in the morning, and there is little to do before sitting down to eat.  This is one of those meals, and I got the recipe from one of my favorite slow cooker cookbooks:

 

The Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook

You can click on the cookbook photo, to see where you can get it for yourself.

Here’s how easy it is to make this creamy, rich & delicious dinner, with such tender chicken chunks!  Most times, we double this recipe below, and have plenty left-overs another time or 2!

Participating Ingredients:

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • 1 envelope dry Italian salad dressing mix
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
  • *10-3/4 oz. can cream of chicken soup
  • *(When we double recipe, the 2nd can of soup we use is cream of celery)
  • 4 oz. can of mushroom stems and pieces, drained
  • 1/2-3/4  1lb.bag of wide egg noodles

Directions:

1) Place chicken breast halves in slow cooker

2) Combine dry salad dressing mix and water.  Pour over chicken.

3) Cover.  Cook on low for 3 hours.

3a) As soon as the chicken is cooked through, if we’re home, I break up the chicken breasts into chunks, and return to the pot, so it can absorb the seasoned liquids. (I’ve just  broken it up while in the pot, with a wooden spatula too. The chicken is so tender, it’s no problem. Just be sure you’re not damaging the bottom of your pot.)

4) Combine cream cheese and soup until blended.  Stir in the mushrooms.  Pour over chicken, and mix it up.

5) **Cover, and cook 1 more hour.

**Note: If the chicken was cut into chunks much earlier, and so you are sure it is cooked through, it is ready as soon as all of the cheese & soup is heated, smooth and blended together.

6)  While the slow cooker contents is in it’s remaining time, cook egg noodles according to the package directions.

Serve the Chicken Italiano over hot egg noodles, and enjoy.

Be prepared to serve seconds.  : P

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