Monthly Archives: May 2017

Wine Pairing Wednesday – Bubblecraft (Soft White)

Happy Wednesday everyone! It’s happy hour over here at the Titus household, and you’re just time for Wine Pairing Wednesday! I know it’s been a couple weeks since I’ve had a wine to share with you. I have had some busy busy days, and relaxing with a new bottle of wine I haven’t written about isn’t always possible. Besides, It’s always a good idea to have share that bottle with a friend. Enough of the excuses, lets get down to this beautiful bottle of wine I have for you.

This beautiful sparkling soft white wine comes from Oliver Winery, one of Southern Indiana’s most treasured gems. That’s right, I’ve got a local one for you. Their wines are available in about a handful of states. If it’s not available in your hometown, perhaps you might consider a visit? Don’t underestimate the state of Indiana. There are some pretty cool things to see and do, especially this winery.

Just a little information about the winery:

They started out as a hobby back in the 1960s, and now they are Indiana’s oldest and largest based winery. Today they are an employee owned company, and welcome thousands of visitors each year to their winery to enjoy beautiful scenery and a tasting room where you can discover your personal favorite of their many outstanding wine selections. Then you can have a seat on their patio, or have a picnic on their hillside picnic area. You can even take a stroll through their beautiful gardens. It truly is a gem nestled right here in Southern Indiana.

Now for this particular wine, it’s sweet, and offers a crisp and subtle taste. It has a bit of a floral scent and a nice taste of Niagara grapes. I like this paired with fresh fruit like mango, peaches, blueberries, strawberries and apples (especially strawberries) and cheese such as, Gruyere, Brie, Gouda and Emmentaler.

It’s soft, it’s sweet, it’s bubbly, and if you haven’t noticed the cap in the photo above. That’s right, this bottle of sparkling wine does not come corked. It comes with a cap much like a beer bottle. For me, that means easy opening, and no cork flying across the room. It’s a unique idea, and I love it.

Hopefully you can find this one wherever you live, but like I said, if you can’t, Indiana is not a bad place to visit. Just make sure you put Oliver Winery on your to do list!

 

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Chicken, Veggie & Rice Casserole

After this long weekend and returning to every day life, you’re probably going to be looking for an easy weeknight meal. Well, surprise surprise, I have what you are looking for! Today I’m sharing with you my Chicken, Veggie and Rice casserole. It’s so simple, and just perfect for busy weeknights, or for when you’re just tired and don’t want to spend forever in the kitchen. I mean, you need time to put your feet up and have a glass of wine. I’m just saying.

This recipe calls for cooked chicken, which increases the ease of it. If you already have cooked chicken in your freezer (which I like to keep stocked up on), or if you have leftovers from the night before, great! If you don’t have any already cooked chicken, to keep this recipe simple, you can grab a rotisserie chicken from your grocery store deli. That will do just fine.

All you need to round out this meal is a tossed salad. So lets just jump right in so you can get to relaxing!

A few of my favorite things I used in this recipe:

  • Pyrex 4 qt. glass mixing bowl – I love this giant bowl. I use it to mix casseroles together before putting them in the casserole dish, and I also love it because I can make a huge batch of salads to take to potlucks or to have at any party. Lots of space in this one. Plus Pyrex is non-porous so it won’t absorb food odors, flavors or stains, and it’s oven, microwave, refrigerator, freezer and dishwasher safe.
  • Paula Deen Cookware – I absolutely love my cookware set. Paula Deen has many different sets, but this is the one I have and I love it. Always cooks evenly, washes easily, never stains.
  • Pioneer Woman Ceramic Bakeware Set – I just got this set and I adore them! They’re so pretty, not to mention easy to wash.


Print Recipe
Chicken, Veggie & Rice Casserole Yum
Recipe by Christine Titus
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Prepare your rice according to the package directions.
  3. In a very large bowl, combine rice, chicken, soup, milk, carrots, green beans, and tarragon. Season with salt and pepper to your taste. Spoon into a 2 1/2 - 3 qt. casserole dish. Top with bread crumbs.
  4. Bake, uncovered, for 40 minutes or until heated through.
  5. Flip on the broiler, and broil for a minute or two, just to brown the bread crumbs. Watch closely so you don't burn it.
  6. Serve & enjoy!
Recipe Notes

Adapted from Del Monte.

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Garlic & Rosemary Green Beans

Green beans! I’m always looking for new ways to prepare green beans, and it’s not because I grow an abundance in my garden. In fact I’m new at gardening and only planted a couple of things to see if I could even do it LOL. It was a little scary, but It’s shaping up!

Anyway, back to green beans. They are one of the very very few vegetables I can get my husband to eat. He loves green beans, green salads, tomatoes, and that’s pretty much the extent of it. No corn, no peas, carrots are tolerable, no zucchini, no squash of any kind for that matter. Yea he’s picky. Needless to say, we eat a lot of salads around here! I don’t always want salads though.

About once a week, I like to have what most people call Sunday Dinner. You know, where it’s a bit fancier than the quick meals that are served during the week. It’s more than a casserole and tossed salad. Usually it’s a meat and potatoes kind of deal, and of course a veggie side for that beautiful color and nutrition.  We’re not always tied down to only Sundays. Sometimes the convenient day for such a meal is during the week. It all just depends on scheduling, and keeping the main focus in sight, to all be together!

So, one beautiful Sunday early evening we had some family over, and my husband’s Aunt brought some beautiful lamb chops. Ohhh man, we love lamb! I know, you’re here for the green beans! I got this! So anyway, I decided to make these green beans to go along side the lamb, and oh my, it was so delicious! It would go well with any meat, but if it were any meat other than the lamb, it probably would have stolen the show. This green bean dish is bold in flavor due to the garlic. If you are not a huge garlic fan, you can cut back on how much you use. We love the stuff, and we like a lot of garlic flavor. Plus, the rosemary goes so very well with garlic and it’s so fragrant. Your kitchen is going to smell heavenly!  This is quite an easy side dish, even with the blanching process. You can blanch the green beans ahead of time if you want to. I did. The reason I blanch them first, is because we like our green beans soft, plus blanching them gives it such a pretty bright green color.

After blanching (which only takes a minute or two), everything is tossed into a skillet to saute until the green beans reach your desired doneness. Like I said, we like our’s soft. Not mushy, but soft. So while sauteing, in between stirs, I would cover the pan. It took about 10 minutes or so for that many green beans. But it was perfect! The lamb chops were finished at the same time! Booya!

Absolutely delicious, and beautiful flavor! I hope you try them with your family and enjoy them as much as we did!

A few of my favorite things used in this recipe:

  • Calphalon 12-inch non-stick fry pan – I love this pan. I use it for just about anything you’d need a large skillet or saute pan for. It’s durable, and made for even heating.
  • Heirbls Kitchen Tongs – Every kitchen needs a good set of tongs. These are easy to clean and easy to store. These are great for tossing salads, turning meat including bacon, sauteing things like these green beans and a lot more. Very versatile cooking tool.
Print Recipe
Garlic & Rosemary Green Beans Yum
Recipe by Christine Titus
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, prepare your ice bath. Get a very large bowl, fill with ice, and water.
  2. Once the water starts to boil, add green beans and cook for about 2 minutes, or until they are crisp tender and bright green. Drain, and immediately submerge green beans into ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain well.
  3. In a large saute pan or large skillet, heat olive oil, pressed garlic and rosemary. Stir in green beans to coat. Season with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste. Saute over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until green beans reach desired texture. We like ours soft, but not mushy and limp, so I covered the pan in between stirs, and it took approximately 10 minutes.
  4. Serve immediately, and enjoy!
Recipe Notes

Adapted from BigOven

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Simple Antipasto Skewers

I gotta tell ya, folks. There is nothing like living out in the country where it’s peaceful, neighbors aren’t sitting on top of you, lots of wide open spaces. My favorite part though, the awesome parties and gettogethers! Particularly this time of year, Spring and on into Summer. Not that Fall is boring. Oh good grief no. Fall is when most of the bonfires get lit, those are really my favorite. Speaking of which, we were invited to our “neighborhood” friend’s home for the last fire of the season. Not the last shin-dig, but the last fire anyway. These gatherings are always fun and always a “pitch-in” or potluck, which in my opinion, makes it a lot more fun because I absolutely LOVE sharing food with good friends and family.

And of course a raging fire always adds entertainment.  Sometimes someone or a few someones will pull out their instruments and start playing music. This has been known to happen from time to time.

As the sun goes down, the fire burns on, and it gets more relaxing and more enjoyable than ever. Plus by this time, I’ve sampled everything on that buffet table and am so full I can hardly move! It’s tough when everything is so darn good, and then they have to bring out 4 or 5 different desserts 😂. But it sure is a hoot and I’m looking forward to more. As the weather heats up we’ll all gather at one of the two swimming holes, and usually  have a potluck afterwards. Good times!

So… what did I bring? I’ve been dying to share this with you! It’s so simple but everyone loved it.

Yes! Simple is even in the title! These are so cute, and such a perfect size appetizer. Awesome for potlucks because they don’t need any utensils. Not for serving and not even for eating! They travel well too. I piled them in a 13×9 foil baking pan. You know, those throw-away kind, then just covered the top with aluminum foil. Easy, delicious, and a crowd pleaser to boot! So here’s what you need:

A package of cheese tortellini, black olives, salad tomatoes, Pepper Jack cheese and Mozzarella cheese, 4-inch bamboo skewers, and a light house Caesar dressing. Don’t get confused with the creamy Caesar dressing. That’s all there is to it! Just cook  your tortellini according to the package directions, drain and rinse in cool water and set aside.

While that’s cooking, you can cut your cheeses into cubes.

Then just toss everything together in a bowl. I mean everything, including the dressing. I used about 1/2 cup of dressing, I’m not really sure honestly. You want everything coated really well. This is your marinade. So if you feel like you need to add more than 1/2 cup, please do so. You won’t hurt it, I promise. Cover that with plastic wrap, and tuck it into the fridge for an hour to let it get happy.

Once it’s happy, you can start threading it all onto skewers. I made mine about 2 hours before I had to leave, so in that case, you’ll want to cover your skewers and store in the fridge until it’s time to serve, or take them somewhere. That’s it. You’re done!

See, crowd pleaser! Even the kiddos loved them! Happy entertaining folks!

A few of my favorite things used in this recipe:

  • 4-inch bamboo skewers – I always keep these on hand. They’re perfect for last minute appetizers, or to make cute snacks or lunches for the kids.
  • 13×9 foil baking pans – I also like to keep these on hand. They’re perfect for taking a dish to potlucks, also for doing some freezer cooking.
  • Pyrex Mixing Bowl – I love that these do not cost a lot of money, and they don’t break quite as easy as other glass mixing bowls. They are also preheated oven, microwave, fridge, freezer and dishwasher safe.
Print Recipe
Simple Antipasto Skewers Yum
Recipe by Christine Titus
Course Appetizers
Cuisine Italian
Servings
skewers
Ingredients
Course Appetizers
Cuisine Italian
Servings
skewers
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Cook tortellini according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cool water; set aside.
  2. Cut cheeses into cubes.
  3. In a large bowl combine the olives, tomatoes, tortellini and cheeses.
  4. Pour dressing over and stir to coat well.
  5. Place in the refrigerator for an hour to marinate and get happy.
  6. On each skewer, stick on there a pepperjack cube, olive, tortellini, mozzarella cube, and top with a tomato. Repeat for each skewer.
  7. You can make long skewers if you prefer if you have enough ingredients, and also depending on how many people you are feeding. I really like the small appetizer size for a large crowd.
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Simple Marinated Pork Chops

Have you fired up your grill yet? We pretty much BBQ all year round here at  Fort Awesome, but mostly in the Spring and Summer. It started getting warm here in Indiana long before it was supposed to, so we’ve been grilling up a storm! I absolutely love food off the grill. Kabobs, burgers, hot dogs, chicken, steak and lets not forget pork chops! Grilled pork chops are really the only way I enjoy them. Sure there’s times I’ve baked them and they turn out pretty good, but grilled is my favorite! Especially since I have a dedicated grill master and I don’t have to do it. I’m more of an indoor cook. I prepare the sides while he grills. I think it’s fair! Especially since he’s so darn good at it! So keeping with the grilling, I’ve got a great pork chop recipe for you. The marinade is so simple. It tastes fancy schmancy and has beautiful bold flavors, but it’s impressively easy and simple. As my husband says “simple is the way to go!” Amen to that! Today I give to you…..

This is so easy, you can sleep through most of the process. I mean literally sleep through most of the process. Here I’ll show you. First of all there are only 10 ingredients. Take the first 9 and whisk it up in a bowl.

Like so. My hanging pots and pans rack was not part of the marinade, by the way. That’s just me still learning how to take decent pictures and I’ve got quite the reflection there! 😂 Reminds me of one of my favorite quotes, “If you find it hard to laugh at yourself, I would be happy to do it for you.” – Groucho Marx. Anyway, to stay on topic and get to the part where you sleep through most of this recipe, just put your pork chops in a zip top bag, pour the marinade in, and seal it up. Turn it to coat.

Now place it in the fridge overnight and let it get all happy, while you…. go to bed! See? I told you that you get to sleep through most of this. When you’re ready to grill the next day, discard the marinade and grill your chops over medium heat, lid closed for about 4-5 minutes on each side, depending on how thick or thin your chops are. It’s always a good idea to have a meat thermometer handy. You’ll want these to be at at least 145 degrees. Then take them off the grill, let them rest for 5 minutes and enjoy!

A few of my favorite things I use in this recipe:

  • Pyrex bowls – They are inexpensive and don’t break as easily as other glass bowls, and believe me… I break a lot of dishes just by being my clumsy self LOL.
  • Oxo Good Grips Silicone Balloon Whisk – I love these! They’re durable and I can use them on teflon without scratching up my pan. I love using a whisk when making scrambled eggs. No more metal whisks for this girl.
Print Recipe
Marinated Pork Chops Yum
Recipe by Christine Titus
Course Grilling
Cuisine American
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Course Grilling
Cuisine American
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the first 9 ingredients; set aside.
  2. Add pork to a large resealable plastic zip top bag. Pour the marinade over the pork then seal bag and turn to coat and refrigerate overnight.
  3. Drain and discard marinade. Grill over medium heat, covered, for 4-5 minutes on each side or until a thermometer reads 145°. Let meat stand for 5 minutes before serving.
Recipe Notes

Slightly adapted from Taste of Home

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Kids in the Kitchen: Baked Apple Pudding

Happy Wednesday everyone! Mid-week, we’re almost to Friday, just a couple days more! I have treat for you though. We’re going back in time just a smidge. We’re going back to the Pioneer days. I’m talking 1800s folks. And I’m bringing my daughter along with us. Actually, she brought us along with her. She had a project that she had to do for school. They were studying things about the Pioneers. They were given a small list to choose from for their project like build a small log cabin or covered wagon, or make a pioneer toy, or make a pioneer recipe and bring enough for the class to sample. Well guess what she chose?! Yea, it’s no big surprise. So I set out to ask my good friend Google for some Pioneer recipes. I was surprised to find a lot more than I had expected, and even more surprised at how easy a lot of them are. Now this recipe in particular is, in my opinion, more of a fall recipe. It has all those fall flavors in it like apples and cinnamon. To me that screams fall. However, I knew that her classmates were going to be sampling this, so I wanted to make sure we made something most kids would enjoy eating. So, we chose this recipe for Baked Apple Pudding. I have no idea where the original recipe came from, seeing as how it was the 1800s and all. I do not claim it as my own, I simply found it on a google search, and now I’m sharing it with you.

We learned some cool things about the Pioneers and what cooking was like for them. For instance, cooking was a major part of their daily life. A lot of work went into making sure they had enough to eat. They raised their own meat, they had huge gardens. They made things like sausage and smoked meats. They did a lot of canning, pickling and other preserves. Breads, cakes, pies were all made from scratch from whatever they had available. They separated milk into cream for butter and baking, and milk for drinking. They never wasted food either. Dried out bread was made into bread pudding and bones were turned into soup. I suppose if we all worked as hard as they did to provide their own food, we’d probably have a lot less waste too. Nothing irks me more than wasted food. Anyway, one last point before I bring out the pudding, as you can imagine, cookbooks were not really a thing back in those days. They weren’t readily available (and you know they didn’t have google). Cooking was a past down art. It was either that or trial and error, but you would figure it out. This is why I find it so important to cook with our kids. Even today we still pass down the art of cooking. A tradition that should never end.

So baked apple pudding! Here we go! It’s really an easy recipe and doesn’t take much time to put together. The most time consuming part was grating the apples. We’ll get to that part in a minute, but first, you wanna combine your egg, sugar and butter. You want to beat that until it’s creamy. The recipe was written as using 1 cube of butter. Yea don’t feel bad, I had to google that. It’s 1 stick. As Paula Deen would say “We’re gonna use a whole stick a butter y’all!” 😂

Yes, we used the kitchen power tools, we cheated a bit. So once you have those three things combined and creamy, you can set that aside. Here comes the messy part. You gotta grate the apples. I did this by hand like I would grate cheese. It’s messy, but kinda fun, and the most time consuming part of the recipe. Once it’s done, everything else is a breeze. I grated the apples for her while she finished up step 1. No need to peel the apples, you want peel and all. Although I did core the apples first. You can use a food processor to shred the apples if you want to, to speed things up. However you want to do it, so long as they are shredded/grated. Then toss that in the bowl with the butter mixture, and fold it in until combined, then add your dry ingredients and combine that well. We left out the nuts, as Andrea is allergic to them. Also, if you’re sharing this with a classroom, you may want to leave the nuts out just in case of allergies. We did not miss the nuts. The recipe did not specify what kind of pan or dish to bake this in, and did not say whether or not to grease the pan or dish. So I went with common sense. I use a 1 1/2 quart oval baking dish, and I did spray it with cooking spray.

So at this point it looks like oatmeal. And honestly, before it’s baked, tastes like apple cinnamon oatmeal. I know it doesn’t look appetizing, but neither does oatmeal. 😂 Now you’re ready to bake this. Let me tell ya folks, this dessert is very fragrant. My whole house smelled of apples and cinnamon and oh man… it was heavenly. So meanwhile… as the pudding bakes in the oven….

Yea, clean up time! 😂

After about 30-40 minutes,  your baked apple pudding is done. It’s nice and browned on top, a little crisp, but the inside is moist and delicious. Almost like a bread pudding, but there’s no bread. Typically this is served with a bit of cream, or the recipe also says “a white sauce”. Not really sure what that is, so I’d go with whipped cream! It’s absolute amazing with a dollop of whipped cream. Needless to say, Andrea got a very good grade on this project.

~Happy trails!

Print Recipe
Baked Apple Pudding Yum
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Beat egg, sugar and butter.
  2. Add apples and mix well.
  3. Add dry ingredients.
  4. Bake 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees. (see note)
  5. Serve with cream or a white sauce. (see note)
Recipe Notes

*A cube of butter is 1 stick of butter.

The recipe did not specify what kind of pan or dish to bake this in, and did not say whether or not to grease the pan or dish. So I went with common sense. I use a 1 1/2 quart oval baking dish, and I did spray it with cooking spray.

No clue what white sauce is, but whipped cream is fantastic on this!

Source: chronicleoftheoldwest.com

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Enchilada Bubble Bake

Mmmm Enchiladas. I can’t get enough of them! It’s one of my favorite flavors, that red enchilada sauce, therefore, one of my favorite Mexican dishes. Enchiladas are easy to make too, in fact I posted my take on some easy enchiladas which I named Awesome Beef Enchiladas. If you missed that, be sure to check it out.

But speaking of simplicity and my obsession with enchiladas, this dish I bring you today is even easier than my Awesome Beef Enchiladas! So if you don’t feel like rolling up tortillas with delicious enchilada fillings, and just wish you could have enchiladas you can just throw in a 13×9 and be done with it, well… your wish is my command!  This is exactly that easy. There is  just one little thing I would like to point out. I used to have a horrible time with dishes like this because it seemed like it would take FOREVER to get the biscuits to cook all the way through and even still, you might find one or two still a little raw in the center. Used to make me NUTS! The secret, make sure your meat mixture is piping hot when you add your biscuit dough to it. This will help those biscuits cook on time, evenly, and completely through.

So now, I bring to you….

I hope you enjoy!

Print Recipe
Enchilada Bubble Bake Yum
Recipe by Christine Titus
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Mexican
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Mexican
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 13x9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. In a large skillet, cook beef over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until no longer pink. Drain, if necessary.
  3. Meanwhile, separate each can of dough into 10 biscuits. With a knife, or I like to use a pizza cutter, cut each biscuit into quarters.
  4. In large bowl, stir together beef, beans, and enchilada sauce. Add biscuit pieces and toss gently to coat. Spread mixture evenly in baking dish. Sprinkle cheese over top.
  5. Bake 25 to 30 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
Recipe Notes
  • You will want to make sure your meat mixture is piping hot when you add your biscuit dough to it. This will help those biscuits cook on time, evenly, and completely through.
  • You can top this delicious casserole with any of your favorite toppings like sour cream and/or guacamole.
  • You could also use ground turkey in this recipe.

Slightly adapted from Betty Crocker

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Lighter Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad

It’s Wednesday folks, and I don’t have a wine to share with you! 😱 I know, right? Imagine how I feel! Being wineless. It happens though, but don’t worry! I’ve got an amazing pasta salad recipe for you though! It’s that time of the year where people fire up the grill, host cookouts, or get invited to cookouts and outdoor potlucks. When the grill masters get that itch to fire up the grill, that’s when it’s the perfect time for pasta salads, potato salads, fruit salads, you name it cold salads to make their grand entrance! This one in particular will steal the spotlight, and if you’re still working hard  to eat healthier, like I promised myself I would, or if you just want to keep your lovely figure, don’t worry! This beautiful salad is all lightened up. It tastes absolutely sinful though. I found the original recipe over on Life in the Loft House, and thought to myself “how can I lighten this up so I can enjoy this without feeling guilty?” Well, here’s what I came up with! Come on in the kitchen and I’ll show you how simple this is. Another one of my favorite things about the salad. Simple!

So first, you’re going to cook your Rotini pasta until it’s al dente. That should take about 8 minutes or so. While that’s bubbling away on the stove, dump your mayo, sour cream and ranch dressing mix in a large bowl.

Then whisk it up real good until it’s all combined. When your pasta is finished cooking, drain that, and rinse it in cold water until cool. Set the pasta aside and cut your grape tomatoes in half.

Now add your pasta, bacon (which I used a pkg. of real bacon pieces), tomatoes, olives and cheese to the large bowl with the dressing.

Toss gently to combine. Then cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. I hope you enjoy this delicious, creamy pasta salad as much as we all did.

 

 

Print Recipe
Lighter Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad Yum
Recipe by Christine Titus
Course Salads
Cuisine American
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Course Salads
Cuisine American
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add rotini and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water until cool; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine mayonnaise, sour cream, dry ranch dressing mix, garlic powder and milk with a whisk until thoroughly combined. Add pasta, cooked bacon pieces, tomatoes, olives and cheese. Gently toss to completely combine everything together.
  3. Cover and chill in refrigerator at least 2 hours before serving.
Recipe Notes

If after chilling in the fridge, and your salad seems a little dry, just add a little milk and stir to combine to moisten it up.

Slightly adapted from Life in the Lofthouse

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Light and Refreshing Berry Fruit Salad + Kids In The Kitchen

Monday already!? What a busy weekend we had over here! The weekend just flew by. The weather here was so incredibly nice, you couldn’t resist firing up the grill, spending time with friends on Saturday and having a great potluck (or pitch-in as the native Hoosiers call it) with tons of delicious food, and then spending a beautiful Sunday with family, once again firing up that grill for a wonderful meal. We had soooo much food this weekend and I have sooo much to share with you. The first thing I must share with you though, is my favorite part of this weekend. My daughter spent some time looking at recipes (just like her mother) and decided she wanted to make something for me. She knows I absolutely LOOOOVE love love love fruit salad. Her and I share a deep love and passion for all things strawberry. So she came across a recipe over at Kristine’s Kitchen Blog. We modified it just very slightly, and came out with a brand new favorite fruit salad! My daughter was SO excited! She went to the store with her Grandma, shopping list in hand, and bought all of the things she needed to make this.

I gotta tell you guys, one of my favorite things to do is cook with my kids. For the moment, it’s just the one out of the four that seems interested, but that’s ok! We have so much fun. And it’s so important to get your kids in the kitchen and cook with them. My mom and grandma did with me. I think the first thing my mom taught me how to make was spaghetti sauce. I’m not 100% certain, but it’s definitely the one I remember the most. I enjoyed it, but as I got to be a teen, I swore I wanted nothing to do with it anymore or anything else domestic related. 😂😂😂😂 So here I am many years later, a stay at home mom, and all things domestic, loving every minute of it.  Here’s the thing guys, when those kids show interest in helping, no matter what it is, harness it. Let them help. They want to be part of something. They want to spend time with you. Don’t wave them off, bring them in the kitchen with you. There’s always something they can do.

Because I believe so heavily that kids in the kitchen is so important, I want to make it a regular on my blog. Maybe it will give you some ideas to try with your kids, or grandkids, nieces, nephews, what have ya. So let do this! Come join me and Andrea (age 10) in my kitchen while we introduce you to this beautiful fruit salad!

This is a very easy salad, with plenty of things for the kiddos to help with. I started off by pitting the cherries, and cutting up the strawberries into bite size pieces. Then I had Andrea pretty much do the rest, starting with rinsing and patting the berries (very gently of course) dry.

Then once she patted them dry, she put them all in a big bowl. I used the largest bowl I have, to make sure she had enough room to gently toss with ease, when it came time for that.

This is the part where we stood back and commented to each other how pretty that looked. The berries are just so vibrant in color. I love naturally beautiful fruit salads. Our next step was to mix the very simple, yet incredible dressing. We got a small bowl and mixed together some lime juice and some honey. You can use fresh lime juice if you want to, but we used bottled.

Once that was all mixed up, it was time to drizzle that all over the berries.

Then you very carefully and gently toss to combine it all and coat the berries in that wonderful dressing. Andrea has watched me in the kitchen so often, and we have of course done some cooking together before, that she is fully aware that the cook gets to taste! We did not skip this step. We tasted, we were both very dramatic about how wonderful it already tasted, and then had to cover it and put it in the fridge before we sat there and just ate the whole thing right away! This salad is so incredibly light and refreshing, even after a big meal like what we had. Perfect light dessert. You could serve it with a dollop of whipped cream if you wish. We could not wait to share this with our family! Everyone (except my berry hating husband) absolutely loved it! Andrea got a lot of praises for this.  I hope you and your kids enjoy this salad as much as we did!

 

Print Recipe
Light and Refreshing Berry Fruit Salad Yum
Recipe by Christine Titus
Course Salads
Cuisine American
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Course Salads
Cuisine American
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Rinse and very gently pat your berries and cherries dry.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together lime juice and honey. Pour over fruit and toss gently to coat.
  3. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Fruit salad is always best served the same day it's made, but it's still good the next day.
Recipe Notes

Very slightly adapted from kristineskitchenblog.com

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Baked Spaghetti Casserole + Wine Pairing

I know, I’m a bit late for Wine Pairing Wednesday. But to make it up to you, I’ve got a two-fer! Not only are we going to talk about wine, and maybe call this Thirsty Thursday 😂, but I have a great recipe to share with you that pairs perfectly with this beautiful wine!

Meet Los Andicos. A red wine, Malbec,  from Mendoza, Argentina. I found this at Aldi to be honest with you. If you have an Aldi nearby, you should really check out their wine and beer selection. They have some interesting things there and I love trying new wines. Not to mention they’re cheap too. I paid about 6.99 for this bottle. This is the third bottle of wine I have tried from off of Aldi’s shelves, right in this price range of 6.99 – 9.99 and I have not been disappointed. So lets talk about the Malbec a little bit. I have seen it labeled as a full bodied red and also a medium bodied red. I think both might be true. I am not a full bodied red fan. When I hear full bodied red, I instantly think of Cabernet Sauvignon which is my “cooking” wine and I don’t care to drink it. I was a little hesitant about trying the Malbec since the bottle says it’s a full bodied. However, this tastes like a medium. Odd, but whatever. It’s delicious! Most full bodied reds pair well with heavier meats like the Cabernet. For the Malbec, it’s softer with less tannins than other reds. “What the frack is a tannin” you ask? Good question cause I had no idea either. I had to look that one up. According to vinepair.com, “Tannins are naturally occurring compounds that exist inside grape skins, seeds and stems. The scientific word for these compounds is polyphenols. Polyphenols release from the skins, seeds and stems when they soak in the grape juice just after the grapes have been pressed and are what give certain wines, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, their characteristic dryness or astringency. You experience the effect of tannins any time you drink a wine that creates a drying sensation in your mouth. Depending on how dry your mouth feels, you can determine whether a wine is high or low in tannins. We say a wine that is high in tannins is tannic.” So now we know! With that said, since the Malbec has less tannins, you’ll want to pair this with leaner meats like barbecue beef, ribs, rich red sauce pastas. I hear it also pairs very well with duck. For cheeses, you might consider mild cheeses like Gouda, Gruyere or Provolone.

I paired this with pasta. Which brings me to the recipe! Yes! Baked Spaghetti Casserole. This recipe comes out with layers of texture and flavor. The pasta is rich and creamy, and the meat sauce is saucy, and the cheese is so cheesy! I Served this up with some Garlic Texas Toast and it was out of this world! Especially when paired with this lovely Malbec.

Grab your ingredients! Lets get started!

You’re going to want to get your pot of water for your pasta on the stove first and cook your spaghetti according to the package directions. While that’s going on, you can go ahead and brown your ground beef right along with your chopped onion and minced garlic.  Once that’s all cooked through, drain any fat if necessary, then dump your spaghetti sauce into the skillet, along with about a tablespoon of Italian seasoning and combine it with the meat.

Once your spaghetti is cooked, drain it, but don’t rinse it. Put it directly back into the warm pot and add your cream cheese. Stir until it’s melted and combined, then add your sour cream and combine that.

Now just spread your noodle mixture in a greased 13×9. You can also split this up into two 8×8 casseroles and have one to freeze.

Then, spread on your meat sauce.

Top with a ton of mozzarella, and a sprinkling of freshly shredded Parmesan cheese, and it’s ready for the oven. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30-35 minutes.

Once it’s finished, let sit for about 5-10 minutes before serving, which is the perfect amount of time to bake up some of that Garlic Texas Toast, and open that bottle of Malbec. Enjoy!


Print Recipe
Baked Spaghetti Casserole Yum
Recipe by Christine Titus
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Italian
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Italian
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cook the spaghetti according to the package directions. Drain, do not rinse, and return to warm pot.
  3. Add cream cheese immediately to the spaghetti, stir together until the cream cheese has melted. Add in the sour cream, and stir to combine.
  4. Put spaghetti mixture into a greased 13x9 baking dish.
  5. In a large skillet, add ground beef, onion and garlic. Cook and stir until the meat is no longer pink. Drain if necessary.
  6. Add the pasta sauce and Italian seasoning to the meat and combine.
  7. Spread meat sauce over pasta in the dish.
  8. Top sauce with Mozzarella and then the Parmesan.
  9. Bake at 350 for 30- 35 minutes or until hot and bubbly and cheese has melted.
  10. Let it stand for 5 or 10 minutes before serving.
  11. Freeze Option:
  12. You can make this, and instead of using a 13x9, divide it up between two 8x8 baking dishes. Assemble casserole as per the directions. Do not back, but instead, wrap in plastic wrap, and then a layer of heavy duty aluminum foil and freeze. When ready to bake, let casserole defrost in the fridge, then bake as directed.
Recipe Notes

Adapted from food.com

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