Autumn, My Favorite Time of Year – Cottage Pie

Autumn

I have to admit I am not much of a Summer person, heat and humidity are not comfortable for me. Yes, I do love the bright sun, vegetables growing in the garden and longer daylight hours but when the temperatures get into those 90+ degree days I’m pretty unhappy and hide out in the air conditioning and just throw together some simple dinners that require very little cooking.

I love Autumn, the feel of the cool breezes and crisp air. The softness of long sleeve sweatshirts and sweaters again my arms. We are just getting started in this wonderful season here in the Northeast. By this time I have grown tired of the lighter dishes of Summer and start to crave comfort foods. The temperature was only in the high 60’s yesterday and I decided to celebrate and make Cottage Pie.

What is Cottage Pie? Many people also call it Shepherd’s Pie. Both use ground meats but the difference is the Irish specialty Shepherd’s Pie normally uses lamb while the English Cottage Pie uses beef. The names are pretty much interchangeable for most people though. But what ever you choose to call it it’s comfort food at it’s best. Here is the recipe I use, I hope you enjoy it.

Cottage Pie


Baked in an oven-to-table casserole or 9 x 13 pan, this dish will be very hot when it comes out of the oven, so be sure to let it cool for several minutes before serving.

Meat Filling:

1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels
2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 1/4 pounds ground beef
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup beef broth
1 cup diced canned tomatoes or crushed tomatoes in puree
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

Mashed Potato Topping:

6 cups peeled and chopped potatoes
2 teaspoons salt, plus salt to taste
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 to 1/2 cup milk
1 to 1 1/2 cups grated white or yellow Cheddar cheese
Paprika

Step 1
Cook the corn according to the package instructions. Drain and set aside.

Step 2
Start the potatoes for the topping. Put them in a large pot with enough water to cover them by a couple of inches. Add about 2 teaspoons of salt to the water. Bring the potatoes to a boil, uncovered, over high heat. Cook them for 10 to 13 minutes. Meanwhile, make the meat filling.

Step 3
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onion and celery in the butter, stirring often, for about 5 to 6 minutes.

Step 4
Add the ground beef to the pan and break it up with a wooden spoon as it browns. Remove the skillet from the stove and, resting it on a heatproof surface so it won’t feel so heavy, tilt the pan so that the excess fat runs to the side. Carefully spoon out the fat and discard it (this will make the dish leaner and healthier, as well as lighter tasting).

Step 5
Put the skillet back on the burner and set the heat to medium low. Stir the garlic and flour into the beef mixture. Stir in the beef broth, then the canned tomatoes, then the herbs, reserved corn, and Worcestershire sauce.

Step 6
Gently simmer the mixture for several minutes, partially covered, then add salt (1/4 teaspoon, give or take a little) and pepper to taste. Transfer the mixture to a large buttered casserole. Set the oven to 400°, and while it heats, check to see if your boiling potatoes are done.

Step 7
To test the potatoes, use a slotted spoon to transfer a cube from the water to a cutting board and allow it to cool for 30 seconds or so. If you can slice through the chunk easily with a butter knife, the potatoes are done.

Step 8
Set a large colander in the sink and drain the potatoes in it (this job can generate a lot of steam, so it is best done by an adult or under adult supervision). Transfer the drained potatoes to a large mixing bowl and scatter the butter pieces over them. Spoon the sour cream here and there over the hot potatoes as well. Wait several minutes for the butter to melt and the sour cream to warm so the ingredients will be easier to blend, then partially mash the potatoes with a hand masher.

Step 9
Switch to an electric mixer set at medium speed and continue to mash, adding enough milk to make medium-soft mashed potatoes. Don’t make them too soft, however; you want them to have some body.

Step 10
Salt the potatoes to taste and spoon them evenly over the filling. Sprinkle the cheese over the top, then sprinkle on some paprika (be sure to wash your hands right afterward so you don’t accidentally rub any of the spice in your eyes). Bake the pie on the center oven rack for about 20 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Cool for several minutes before serving. Makes 5 to 6 servings.

August Harvest – Tomato Sauce Fresh off the Vine

Here in the Northeast it’s time to start harvesting what we planted in the late Spring. The tomatoes and zucchini are ripe on the vines, the herbs are fragrant and time to start cooking some dishes with them. Last time I posted my zucchini bread recipe and the other week some nice salads for using those cherry tomatoes this Summer. Have you tried that Orzo salad recipe yet? It’s a wonderful side dish with grilled meats.

There is nothing better than the taste of ripe tomatoes from the garden. I love using ripened cherry tomatoes for salads, Roma tomatoes for creating yummy pasta dishes or sliced Beefsteak tomatoes for putting on juicy burgers that were cooked on the grill. The possibilities are endless.

Here is my delicious recipe using fresh Roma tomatoes on pasta. We are a bit partial to having this fresh sauce on angel hair but you can use what ever pasta you prefer. The juicy chunks of fresh tomato, along with a simple garlic and basil sauce flavors this pasta dish. An easy Summer dish for you to enjoy at home.

So whether or not you are growing your own tomatoes or buying them from the market or vegetable stand this is a recipe you should really try.

Fresh Roma tomato sauce over angel hair pasta

Fresh Garden Tomato Sauce over Pasta

A simple fresh tomato sauce recipe made with just barely cooked tomatoes, garlic, basil and seasonings comes together in no time!

2 1/4-1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes (I’ve often used Roma, or Cherry but any tomato you have on hand.)

3 tablespoons Olive Oil

1 tablespoon fresh Lemon Juice

1/2 teaspoon Sugar, optional

1/4 cup Fresh Basil Leaves – chopped

1 Tablespoon Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley – Chopped

½ teaspoon Salt (to taste)

Freshly ground Black Pepper (to taste)

1 or more Garlic cloves – minced (depends how much garlic you like)

1 pound of your favorite spaghetti or angel-hair pasta or rotini/fusilli or penne

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (Optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

Core and coarsely chop two-thirds of the tomatoes. Halve the remaining tomatoes down the middle and discard the tough top part where the tomatoes met the stem.

Rub the cut sides of the tomatoes against the large holes of a box grater set in a large bowl. Leave the tomato pulp in the bowl and discard any skin.

Add the chopped tomatoes, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, sugar, parsley, basil, freshly ground black pepper and the minced garlic to the bowl.

Mix well. Let the mixture marinate while you cook the pasta.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and then cook the pasta just until al dente, according to package directions.

Reserve about a cup of the pasta cooking water before draining the pasta.

Drain the pasta, then immediately return it to the pot. Pour in all of the tomato sauce and the cup of the pasta cooking water.

Cook over medium-low heat for about 2 minutes, tossing gently and often, you want this step just long enough for the tomatoes to gently warm through and soften a bit.

Remove from heat and toss with Parmesan cheese.

Optional – You can add cooked shrimp or scallops to this dish if you would like to add a light seafood protein.

Fresh cherry tomato basil sauce over angel hair and cooked shrimp

Thank you for visiting!
Please share this site with your family and friends and ask them to join Recipes from a Small Kitchen to see what my next cooking adventure will be. I hope my recipes will inspire you to take some time to cook in your kitchen no matter what size your kitchen is.
Please Like and leave a comment, I would love to hear from you and hear what you are making.

Stay strong, Stay Safe and Keep positive!

Hot Dog Goulash and a No Bake Dessert the Kids will Enjoy

Right now families are trying to make ends meet and a meal that will stretch to feed everyone. With so many folks having to remain indoors I thought I would pull out one of my own kid friendly recipes that my children enjoyed when they were growing up. Sorry I don’t have any photos as it has been some time since I made these dishes but they are very simple and the kids can help make the dessert.

Hot Dog Goulash


• 1 medium onion, diced
• 2 tbsps. butter
• salt, pepper, and paprika, to taste
• 3 Russet or Idaho potatoes, diced
• 2 cans (14.5-oz.) Stewed Tomatoes (any favorite style), do not drain
• water
• 6-8 hot dogs, sliced (your favorite brand)
Directions

Sauté on medium temperature the onion in butter until almost transparent. Add salt, pepper, and paprika. Add diced potatoes. Mix in stewed tomatoes with the juice. Add just enough water to cover the potatoes. Simmer for 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Add sliced hot dogs, cook for another 8 minutes.
Serve in a bowl as is or you can do one of following: serve over noodles, or rice if you prefer, or a open faced grilled cheese sandwich on the side.
Options:
You can also sauté a diced green pepper along with the onion if you like.

Chocolate Chip and Cream Dessert

1 large container of frozen whipped topping, thawed

1 large package of crunchy chocolate chip cookies – reserve a few cookies to crush down to top the dessert just before serving.

In a large bowl or pan start with a layer of chocolate chip cookies, then cover in a layer of whipped topping. alternate layers making the final layer of whipped topping.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

When you are ready to serve crush down the reserved chocolate chip cookies in a sandwich bag, top the dessert and serve in dessert bowls.

You can also top with mini chocolate chips, chocolate sauce or just chocolate sprinkles before serving.

This recipe can be adjusted for size very easily depending on the size of your family.

When Your 1960’s Casserole is Calling – Old Fashioned Chicken Noodle Casserole

I haven’t done a whole lot of cooking lately as I get caught up in a few things one is my crafts, whether I am crocheting or doing a variety of arts and crafts and the other is computer gaming. Even at my age I love computer gaming and my current obsession is Farm Together. If you are a computer game lover you understand how it is easy to get sucked down into the proverbial “Rabbit Hole” where hours can just whiz by. So I haven’t made much time for cooking other than fast easy meals. So last week we purchased a rotisserie chicken and from it I made a basic pot of soup with chicken and tortellini and with the remaining chicken I made a chicken noodle casserole my mom used to make. It’s nothing special other than 1960’s comfort food recipe so here it is, it does use what some people refer to as the “dreaded canned soup” but it wouldn’t be mom’s casserole without it. It’s an easy meal for when you want something other than burgers and gets you back to what else you would rather be doing.

My mom’s Chicken Noodle Casserole recipe

Mom’s Chicken Noodle Casserole Recipe

This is the basic recipe I always use. All my measurements are approximate I adjust as I go along, never seem to make it the same way twice.

2 (10 3/4 ounce) can Campbell’s Cream of Chicken and Herb soup (I some times mix and match the cream of chicken soup with cream of celery soup or cream of mushroom – use what ever you either have on hand or you can choose what you like) 

1 soup can of milk 

10 oz pkg frozen peas and and or carrots or mixed vegetables

1 1/2 to 2 Cups leftover cooked chicken

1 pkg (16 oz) medium or wide egg noodles – cooked

Few dashes of Worcestershire sauce to taste (optional)

1 small can of sliced mushrooms, drained (optional)

½ cup dry breadcrumbs 

4 tablespoons butter, melted 

Stir soup, milk, peas & carrots, chicken, Worcestershire sauce and noodles together. Put in a lightly greased 9×13 casserole dish. (You can use Pam spray for this). Mix bread crumbs with melted butter in a cup and sprinkle over chicken mixture

Bake at 350°F for 30-40 minutes, until hot and bread crumbs are golden brown.

Happy Halloween – Bubble Pizza

Even though our children are grown and no longer living at home we enjoy Halloween. We decorate our front yard and look forward to the trick-or-treaters and seeing their costumes. This year however it may end up being a wash out as it has been raining all week and more predicted for today. So we will just roll with it and hope we can hand out most of the treats we have.

So tonight I’ll be making Bubble Pizza. It’s a quick easy version of pizza and can be lots of fun when you add your favorite toppings. Not sure who actually created the recipe but this is the version I adapted for our family. I make it all different ways and you can too. It can be made easily at home, great for a Friday night or family night not just for a holiday, Make several different versions if you have a small gathering or kids sleep-over.

Bubble Pizza

Servings: 8 

Ingredients:

1 pound ground beef

1 (14-16 ounce) jar pizza sauce or favorite tomato sauce

Add about 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of dry Oregano to the sauce if not using pizza sauce

1 or 2  packages Grands refrigerated buttermilk biscuit dough (depending how large you like your crust. (1 for a thinner crust, 2 for a thicker crust)

* Note – Toppings below are up to you and only suggested in the recipe – the possibilities are endless. You can also use your favorite cheese or cheese mixture.

1/4 pound sliced pepperoni sausage (optional)

1/2 onion, sliced and separated into rings

1 (10 ounce) can sliced black olives

1 (4.5 ounce) can sliced mushrooms

1 thinly sliced green pepper

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease a 9×13 inch baking dish or slightly larger. Place ground beef in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Stir in pepperoni (optional), and cook until browned. Drain excess fat. Stir in the pizza sauce. Remove from heat, and set aside.
  2. Cut biscuits into quarters, and place in the bottom of baking dish. Spread the meat/sauce mixture evenly over the biscuits. Sprinkle top with onion, olives and mushrooms, peppers, what ever you like.
  3. Bake uncovered in preheated oven for 25 minutes.
  4. Remove from the oven and top with shredded mozzarella cheese. Bake an additional 5 to 10 minutes, until cheese is melted. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
Veggie Bubble Pizza
Sausage & Mushroom Bubble Pizza with a thick crust (sort of a Sicilian Style pizza)

Easy Weeknight One-Pot Sausage, Peppers and Pasta

I remember those Autumn weeknights where there was a crisp chill in the air and we would look forward to a warm hearty dinner after a long day at work or school. I would get dinner going as the kids would be doing homework at the dining room table. Later we would gather around the same table, enjoy a delicious meal and catch up on everyone’s day.

Those days haven’t changed too much, parents are are still working, kids are still doing home work and after school activities. Life is busier than ever before. I hope this recipe will give you some help on those busy days at dinnertime.

One-Pot Sausage, Peppers and Pasta

Ingredients

1 lb. your favorite short pasta

1 tablespoon olive oil

6-8 sweet Italian sausages or a combination of sweet and hot is delicious!

1 red bell pepper, large, diced

1 green bell pepper, large, diced

1 yellow bell pepper, large, diced

1 small to medium onion, sliced (yellow or white)

3 cloves garlic, sliced

28 oz. can of diced tomato

1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black ground pepper

Instructions

1. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil, add a generous amount of salt, cook until not quite al dente. (You want the pasta a bit underdone as it will finish cooking when the dish is put together)

2. Strain pasta and set aside. Toss it with a small amount of olive oil to prevent sticking

3. In the same pot or large skillet if your prefer, heat 1 tbsp. of olive oil and fry the sausages, working batches as needed, until well browned on all sides.

4. Remove sausages, slice into pieces (about 5 pieces per link), and set aside.

5. Sauté all of the bell peppers, onion, and garlic for about 2 minutes.

6. Add the canned tomatoes, all the spices, and the sausage slices to the pot.

7. Simmer about 10 minutes.

8. Add the pasta back to the pot and stir gently until all the ingredients are coated in the sauce. Continue to simmer until pasta is al dente.

9. Serve with grated parmesan.

10. Mangia Bene!

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls in a Skillet

Well, the temperatures have been a bit cooler here in the northeast so I’m looking forward to digging out some recipes and doing some cooking. As you know I’m not one to make many long involved complicated meals, I’ll leave those dishes to the experts. I like to think if you have a good recipe with a handful of ingredients, cooking can be a breeze. My version of unstuffed cabbage rolls made in a skillet is one of those types of dishes. You have all the flavor of the traditional recipe but takes considerably less time to prepare. I hope you will give it a try.

Skillet Unstuffed Cabbage1

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls in a Skillet

4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

1 to 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef

1 large Onion (diced)

1 Green or Red Bell pepper (diced)

2 cloves of Garlic (minced)

2 Tablespoons Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley (or 1 Tablespoon Dried Parsley)

1 Small Head of Cabbage (shredded or chopped)

2 cans (14.5 ounces) Diced Tomatoes

1 can (8 oz.) Tomato sauce

Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Cooked White or Brown Rice

  1. Heat a large, deep skillet or sauté pan (or Dutch oven) over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add about 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil then add the ground beef. Break up the beef with a spoon and cook, stirring, for about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the diced onion, green pepper, parsley, and garlic and continue cooking, stirring, until the beef is no longer pink and the onion is translucent and the green pepper has just begun to soften.
  2. Add the chopped cabbage to the ground beef mixture along with the diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. Cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes or until the cabbage is slightly wilted. Season with Salt and Pepper to taste.
  3. Reduce the heat to low, simmer about 15-20 minutes or until the cabbage is tender. Adjust any salt and freshly ground black pepper if needed.
  4. Serve over cooked white or brown rice

 

skillet unstuffed cabbage 4

 

Thank you again for visiting.

Share this site with family and friends and ask them to join Sundays in a Small Kitchen to see what my next cooking adventure will be. I hope my recipes will inspire you to get take some time to cook in your kitchen no matter how small it may be.

Please Like and leave a comment, I would love to hear from you and what you are making.

Skillet Potatoes and Smoked Sausage

I prefer to cook at home as often as I can. We usually only eat out in restaurants or have Take-Out when we really need a night off or a date night. There are many easy to make recipes that only take about 30-45 mins from start to finish and when you think about it that much time will usually pass while driving to the place, waiting for a table or your order, then the drive back home.

One easy comfort food dinner we like is simple Skillet Potatoes and Smoked Sausage. This was a recipe that I grew up on. My mother would often use Italian sausage which I sometimes do as well. This recipe can be easily doubled.

If you give this a try I hope you enjoy it!

Skillet Potatoes and Smoked Sausage

Serves 2-4 depending on portion size

2 large russet potatoes, cut into 1″ cubes…

14 oz. smoked sausage, thinly sliced (You can use Kielbasa, or links of Italian Sausage cooked whole then sliced.)

1 small onion, chopped

1/2 c. chopped bell pepper (red or green)

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 c. chicken stock

1 1/2 tsp. paprika

1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper

1/4 tsp. dried parsley

2 tbsps. veg. Oil

In a large skillet heat oil…add in the smoked sausage and cook, turning often till browned on edges. Remove meat from skillet and add in the potatoes and cook over med. high heat till they begin to brown and become tender. Add in the Onions, Bell Pepper and Garlic cooking for about 5 minutes then add in the chicken stock and cover. Cook for about 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove cover and check potatoes for doneness. Add the spices, stir and add in the smoked sausage.

skillet potatoes and Kielbasa

 

 

Thank you for visiting my blog I hope you will enjoy this dish.

Please Like and leave a comment, I would love to hear from you.

Also, share this site with family and friends and ask them to join Sundays in a Small Kitchen to see what my next cooking adventure will be.

 

Easy Weeknight Chicken Croquettes with Gravy

I love to make a nice plump roasted chicken on a Sunday for dinner then I can have leftovers for another meal during the week. This past week I made a roasted chicken by just stuffing the cavity with a quartered lemon and a handful of rosemary from the garden, oh so flavorful. There was still plenty of chicken leftover for another meal so all I had to do was decide which recipe to make. I use this croquette recipe in several ways, it’s super easy for a weeknight dinner after a long workday. You can easily swap out the chicken for cooked salmon, tuna, ham, turkey or anything you like really, just adjust the portions of meat to stuffing to your liking.

IMG_2502

Easy Weeknight Chicken Croquettes

Ingredients:

  • 1 Box of Stove Top Stuffing (6 0z box)
  • Leftover roast chicken shredded approximately 3-4 cups, not tightly packed down
  • 1 egg, beaten

Directions:

  1. Grease a baking sheet and pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.  Also, have an ice cream scoop handy.
  2. Pull and shred by hand the leftover roasted or rotisserie chicken
  3. Prepare the stuffing according to box directions
  4. Add the shredded chicken to the stuffing and add the beaten egg.
  5. Mix all the ingredients well
  6. Using the ice cream scoop portion out the croquettes on to the greased baking sheet. (The ice cream scoop I have makes 9 croquettes)
  7. Put into the hot oven and bake for 15 minutes
  8. While croquettes are baking prepare the chicken gravy.
  9. Remove from the oven and enjoy!

Simple Chicken Gravy

Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth or stock
  • 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp pepper or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp Poultry Seasoning

Directions:

  1. Melt the butter over medium heat in a saucepan.
  2. Add flour and blend thoroughly.
  3. Slowly add in the broth, mixing with a whisk,
  4. Add salt, and pepper and Poultry Seasoning.
  5. Allow to simmer and continue to mix with the mix until mixture thickens.
  6. Serve!

I hope you will enjoy this dish and thank you for visiting my blog. Please Like and Comment, I love hearing from you. Also, share this site with family and friends and ask them to join Sundays in a Small Kitchen to see what my next cooking adventure will be.

 

Baked Parmesan Tilapia in the Instant Pot Vortex Oven with Basil Penne on the side.

I had been away a bit longer than I had planned. Since the beginning of Summer, my weekend time where I usually enjoy writing about my cooking adventures has been filled with vacation time, house projects, and several milestone birthday parties that needed planning, all great times but it means time away from my computer. So I am trying to pull back the reins to get back on track which can be difficult when you are an easily distracted person like myself.

One of the most exciting things I purchased while on vacation was an Instant Pot Vortex Oven. It is just what I needed now that we are empty nesters and don’t necessarily need to use our larger oven for smaller weeknight meals. Years back I had one of those Showtime Rotisseries which I loved using, but unfortunately during a kitchen renovation when we put it in storage the oven was damaged and became unusable. I enjoyed having a rotisserie for roasting chickens and roasts. While the IP Vortex is a bit smaller than the Showtime Rotisserie it will still do the job perfectly. So I have been having fun making dishes this hot Summer while avoiding heating up the house which is a plus.

Here is a photo of my first time cooking in the IP Vortex making chicken wings in the rotisserie basket and I also made home cut fries that turned out great.

One hot night this past week, I made an easy Baked Parmesan Tilapia in the IP Vortex oven. You can easily adapt this recipe to be made in any oven.

Baked Parmesan Tilapia

INGREDIENTS:

  • Two large pieces of Tilapia fish fillets
  • 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning for rubbing on to the fish
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 Tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • coarse ground black pepper to taste

On a plate or small cutting board sprinkle the Old Bay seasoning on both sides of the fish. Mix the mayonnaise, parmesan cheese and garlic powder in a small bowl. With the fish still on the plate apply the mayonnaise mixture to the top of the fish. Transfer the fish to the baking tray. I set the oven to bake then baked these two lovely pieces of fish at 380 degrees for 12 minutes. They came out golden brown, moist and delicious. I served the fish with a few lemon slices and a side dish of penne pasta tossed with pesto made with fresh basil from our garden.

Basil Pesto Sauce

3 cups fresh basil leaves
1 1/2 cups chopped nuts walnuts, almonds, pignoli (pine) nuts or pecans
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Directions

In a food processor, blend together basil leaves, nuts, garlic, and cheese. Pour in oil slowly while still mixing. Stir in salt and pepper. Toss over warm pasta. (Note: You may want to reserve a cup of the pasta water to thin the pesto sauce should you feel it is a bit too thick)

Enjoy, and thank you for visiting my blog, I hope you will share it with family and friends.