Creamy Squash, Spinach, and Chicken Polenta Casserole

17 Apr
Creamy Squash Spinach and Chicken Polenta Casserole

Creamy Squash Spinach and Chicken Polenta Casserole

Strange ingredients? Please hear me out. This is NOT weird at all and received multiple thumbs up from the family. Gosh, even the leftovers were awesome. There is something about the down-home creamy corn base from the polenta and slightly sweet taste from the squashes and then the spinach and chicken that just made this an incredibly surprising meal! My eyes gone wide, you know what I mean? WOW! (This actually doesn’t even need the chicken and could be vegetarian, but the meat was already defrosted.)

I had the defrosted chicken breast and a fresh bag of spinach, and set my sights on something new for the combination. I have made my Balsamic Chicken and Spinach more times than I can count the past few years. Somehow I came across some vegetarian polenta and spinach casserole recipes, and tasked myself with coming up with a recipe my family would actually eat.

I found a great recipe with fresh spinach and mushrooms but it used pre-made polenta cakes. Another recipe I found had a creamy homemade polenta base with zucchini, squash and tomatoes. Well, the daughter doesn’t “do” mushrooms, I only had fresh spinach and dried polenta grain on hand, so decided to mix up the two recipes and came up with my own original. You will NOT be disappointed. (Aside note: I was following the vegetarian version recipes and totally spaced on browning the chicken until assembly. Yikes! So please, follow my instructions below instead of doing what I did. Or, omit chicken altogether. It all worked out, we only ate 10 minutes later than the original plan.)

Creamy Squash, Spinach, and Chicken Polenta Casserole

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken (breasts or thighs)
Ground black pepper, and salt or Mrs. Dash, to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups water
2 cups milk
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup dried polenta (course cornmeal)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped onion
1 small zucchini, sliced and quartered (about 1 cup)
1 small yellow squash, sliced and quartered (about 1 cup)
1 15-ounce can of diced tomatoes with oregano, garlic and basil (if yours are plain diced, add dried or fresh herbs to taste)
1 8 to 10-ounce bag fresh spinach
Ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup shredded fresh Mozarrella cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and season to taste with ground black pepper and salt or Mrs. Dash. Heat a skillet with the 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat and brown the chicken about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring often. Set aside.

Cooking the Creamy Polenta

Cooking the Creamy Polenta

Heat 1 1/2 cups of water in a medium sauce pot to boil. Stir together the milk and polenta to make a slurry, then add to the boiling water. Bring up to a simmer then reduce the heat and simmer for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened. (If you want you could brown the chicken now in this step. I just didn’t want you to forget!)

Creamy Polenta Poured into Pan

Creamy Polenta Poured into Pan

When the polenta is done, pour it into an oil-sprayed 13 x 9 or so sized casserole dish and set aside.

Chopped Onion, Zucchini, and Squash

Chopped Onion, Zucchini, and Squash

Meanwhile, add the 2 tablespoons olive oil to a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, zucchini, and squash and sauté until the onions are softened.

Vegetable Mixture Simmering

Vegetable Mixture Simmering

Add the tomatoes (and spices if tomatoes aren’t pre-seasoned). Bring up to a simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the browned chicken and mix to combine. Now, by handfuls, tear up the spinach and add to the mixture and stir in until all is added and wilted.

Spinach Wilting into Vegetables

Spinach Wilting into Vegetables ~ WAIT ~ You don’t see that forgotten chicken in the background you had to cook first, right??

Meanwhile (again), preheat the oven to 350 degrees. After the vegetable mixture is done, spread it evenly on top of the polenta in the casserole dish. Top with a combination of shredded Mozarella and Parmesan cheeses.

Creamy Squash Spinach and Chicken Polenta Casserole Ready to Bake

Creamy Squash, Spinach, and Chicken Polenta Casserole Ready to Bake

Bake for about 25 minutes until it is heated through and bubbly and the cheese has melted. Turn the heat up to broil and broil for 5 minutes. Take out of oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve on plates or in bowls. Nothing else is needed, as this is an entire meal! If this weren’t so fugly coming out of the casserole dish, I’d call it guest-worthy (taste-wise)!

p.s. (My sister arrived today from Texas for 10 days, so I might not get a post out for awhile. Enjoy browsing my archives if you want if you are a newcomer!)

Casserole Half-Eaten

Casserole Half-Eaten~ YEP! Three of us pretty much wiped out half of a lasagna pan of this in one sitting!

 

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Keema ~ A Taste of India

11 Apr
Keema  ~ A Taste of India

Keema ~ A Taste of India

About six years ago my employer decided that hosting an Indian Cuisine potluck would be a good idea for some newly hired employees from India who were training at our local office for an extended period of time. At that time, I had zero experience with Indian cuisine, so had asked one of the new hires for a recipe I could make for them. The next day I was handed a photocopy from an unknown cookbook. It was titled simply “Keema.” I made it for the potluck and remember it was a hit! But then it remained forgotten in my loose-leaf recipe archive (read “mess”) until last week.

I had obviously adapted it the first time around, as it had scratch outs, scribbles, and additions and substitutions written all over it. This time around, I decided to search it out on the internet. There are so many variations of Keema that I felt I had good liberty to basically “redo” it again to my family’s tastes as they are today. My new remake got two thumbs up from the family! My only regret was not buying some cottage cheese to serve on the side, as it makes a refreshing accompaniment to the meal. Since this made way too much for one meal, I went straight to the store the next day and bought cottage cheese for the leftovers. No leftovers were thrown out, I am glad to say!

This is traditionally made with ground lamb, but I used ground beef as a substitute, but you could use either one or a combination of the two. Make sure you use at least a 12-inch skillet, as this makes a LOT! Feel free to halve the recipe.

Keema

1 to 1 1/2 pounds ground beef or lamb
3/4 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced (about 2 teaspoons)
2 tablespoons garam masala (I used dried Mild Curry #512, according to the bulk bin I bought it from)
1 teaspoon salt or Mrs. Dash table blend
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch of cayenne pepper
2 heaping tablespoons of tomato paste
1 1/2 cups homemade or low sodium beef broth
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed
1/2 cup frozen peas
Lime wedges, for garnish
Chopped cilantro, for garnish
Cooked rice, for serving
Cottage cheese, for serving

Ground Beef and Onions

Ground Beef and Onions

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the ground beef or lamb with the chopped onion until evenly browned. Drain off any grease. Stir in the garlic and cook for about a minute more, then add the spices and combine.

Spices Added to Ground Beef Mixture

Spices Added to Ground Beef Mixture

Add the the rest of the ingredients except the frozen peas and garnishes. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes. In the last five minutes, add the frozen peas and cook until heated through.

Keema Ready to Serve

Keema Ready to Serve

Serve over a bed of rice, with a squeeze of lime, and cilantro. Please add cottage cheese to the side as a lovely, refreshing side.

Keema

Keema

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Asian Style Cube Steak

5 Apr
Asian Style Cube Steak

Asian Style Cube Steak

I’ve been hard-pressed to come up with new dinner ideas for all the packages of tenderized top round (aka cube steak) we have in our freezer. After I spied a new Teriyaki sauce that had sesame seeds in it at the store, I decided to buy it and figured the steak could be dressed up with it for an Asian flair. Throw in some onions, carrots, and sugar snap peas and voila! A perfect meal to serve over a bed of rice. I got two thumbs up from the family for this one!

Asian Style Cube Steak

1 pound tenderized top round
Salt or Mrs. Dash
Ground black pepper
1/4 cup flour
Vegetable oil, for frying
1/2 to 1 cup sliced onions
1 3/4 cup beef broth, homemade or low sodium
1/4 cup Teriyaki sauce with sesame seeds
8 ounces baby carrots
8 ounces sugar snap peas
3/4 cup uncooked rice

Cube Steaks and Teriyaki Sauce

Cube Steaks and Teriyaki Sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the cube steak into serving portions then season with salt and pepper, to taste. Dredge the steaks through the flour, pressing in firmly to stick. Reserve the leftover flour.

 

Cube Steaks and Onions

Cube Steaks and Onions

Heat about 1/8 inch of oil in an oven-proof or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Fry the steaks on one side for about five minutes, the carefully flip over. Add the sliced onions, then cook the steak and onions for about another five minutes. Add the reserved flour to the pan, stirring into the oil as best you can around the steaks.

In a large measuring cup, add the beef broth, then add the Teriyaki sauce with sesame seeds (I used Soy Vay brand) to the 2-cup mark and whisk to incorporate. (If you can’t find that brand of sauce, simply add about a tablespoon of sesame seeds to any Teriyaki sauce.) Pour the mixture over the steak an onions.

Carrots Added to the Pot

Carrots Added to the Pot

Add the baby carrots around the steaks. Cover with an oven-proof lid, and bake in the oven for about 45 minutes. Carefully remove lid, stir in the snap peas, then cook covered for an additional 15 minutes.

Snap Peas Added to the Pot

Snap Peas Added to the Pot

While the steak is in the oven, you can cook the rice according to package directions and keep warm until serving time. When the steaks and vegetables are done, serve over the rice with plenty of sauce.

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White Bean and Sausage Crock Pot Soup

28 Mar
White Bean and Sausage Crock Pot Soup

White Bean and Sausage Crock Pot Soup

I made this soup a few weeks ago when the weather was dreadful and snowy. Then spring leapt out of nowhere and trees and flowers began budding and birds were singing their little hearts out. But alas, winter appears to be keeping its grip as a cold front will make it’s way down this week. We can only hope the fragile buds and flowers will hang on through it.

If it’s still a bit chilly in your neck of the woods, here’s a warming, hearty soup to tide you over until spring hits your area.

White Bean and Sausage Crock Pot Soup

2 cups dried Navy Beans, soaked overnight (or 2 cans white beans)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 stalk celery, diced
1/2 cup chopped carrots
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
Pinch of dried thyme, crushed
1 teaspoon dried parsley
5 cups homemade or low sodium chicken broth
1 can diced tomatoes, or 12 cherry tomatoes
7 ounces Turkey Sausage (1/2 link), sliced
Shredded Parmesan cheese, for serving

Drain and rinse the beans (either dried or canned) and add to the slow cooker. Toss everything else except the cheese into the pot, then set on low for 8 to 10 hours or high on 5-6 hours, That’s it! Serve with shredded Parmesan cheese, and crusty bread.

White Bean and Sausage Crock Pot Soup

White Bean and Sausage Crock Pot Soup

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Italian Pasta Shells Stuffed with Spinach and Cheese

23 Mar

anotherfoodieblogger:

UPDATE! I so apologize to my readers, but I am so thankful for my readers who point out a mistake in my recipe and that they actually take the time to make my recipes! I am humbled!

However, I forgot to include in the instructions to mix the Mozzarella and Parmesan with the spinach and other ingredients. That has now been fixed, both in this post and in the PDF. I apologize for any inconvenience (or lack of taste) this has caused for you. As always, thank you so much for sticking with me on this adventure! XOXO

Originally posted on anotherfoodieblogger:

Italian Pasta Shells Stuffed with Spinach and Cheese Italian Pasta Shells Stuffed with Spinach and Cheese

If you have some yummy spaghetti sauce on hand and want to make something different than plain ol’ spaghetti, this is a winning recipe! It’s not overly difficult to make (aside from stuffing those pesky shells) and makes a really nice meal that has all your veggies in it!

I pretty much used my recipe for my Spinach Lasagna Roll-Ups, but just changed some of the cheese amounts. I feel pretty proud of this recipe, as all the online versions I found for it made anywhere from 24 to 30 shells — way more than I wanted! I went with my gut feeling, and figured 16 shells would do the trick with the amount of stuffing I use for my roll-ups. I was SPOT ON! Woo hoo! I served this with green salad and baked garlic bread. We ate half one…

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Italian Pasta Shells Stuffed with Spinach and Cheese

21 Mar
Italian Pasta Shells Stuffed with Spinach and Cheese

Italian Pasta Shells Stuffed with Spinach and Cheese

If you have some yummy spaghetti sauce on hand and want to make something different than plain ol’ spaghetti, this is a winning recipe! It’s not overly difficult to make (aside from stuffing those pesky shells) and makes a really nice meal that has all your veggies in it!

I pretty much used my recipe for my Spinach Lasagna Roll-Ups, but just changed some of the cheese amounts. I feel pretty proud of this recipe, as all the online versions I found for it made anywhere from 24 to 30 shells — way more than I wanted! I went with my gut feeling, and figured 16 shells would do the trick with the amount of stuffing I use for my roll-ups. I was SPOT ON! Woo hoo! I served this with green salad and baked garlic bread. We ate half one night, then finished the other half the next, but you can freeze the leftovers if you want.

Italian Pasta Shells Stuffed with Spinach and Cheese

16 uncooked Jumbo shell pasta
3 cups Paul’s Spicy Spaghetti Sauce, or other prepared sauce
1 15-ounce container Ricotta cheese
3/4 cup shredded Mozzarella (I used a block of low-fat and shredded it with a grater)
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
2 teaspoons minced garlic
10-ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 large egg, beaten
Ground black pepper, to taste
Salt or Mrs. Dash, to taste
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Additional shredded Mozzarella, for topping

Preheat oven to 400°F. Cook the noodles to al dente according to package directions. While the noodles are cooking, combine the Ricotta, Mozzarella, Parmesan, garlic, spinach, egg, pepper, salt or Mrs. Dash, and a pinch of nutmeg in a medium bowl.

Stuffed Pasta Ingredients Ready to Mix

Stuffed Pasta Ingredients Ready to Mix

When the noodles are done, drain the noodles, let cool a bit, then lay them on parchment or wax paper in a single layer.

Cooked Pasta Shells

Cooked Pasta Shells

Spread 1 cup of spaghetti sauce on the bottom of a 2-quart casserole dish. Stuff 1/4 cup or so of the cheese and spinach mixture into each pasta shell and place into the dish.

Stuffed Shells Wanting Sauce and Cheese

Stuffed Shells Wanting Sauce and Cheese

Pour 2 cups of spaghetti sauce over the stuffed shells. Grate additional mozzarella cheese over the top of the shells, then cover the pan with aluminum foil. Bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and turn on the broiler. Broil for about 5 to 10 minutes until cheese is bubbly.

Stuffed Shells Ready to Cook

Stuffed Shells Ready to Cook

Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes before serving. Serve with a green side salad and garlic bread. You can freeze the remaining shells in Ziploc bags for a quick and easy future meal. My family loved this so much we ate the rest of it up the next day!

p.s. (Please let me indulge you with photos of my daughter’s rose she got at her dance team’s end-of-year potluck celebration! That was a long journey to get through dance season with the football and basketball schedules!)

Italian Pasta Shells Stuffed with Spinach and Cheese2

Italian Pasta Shells Stuffed with Spinach and Cheese

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Skillet Huevos Rancheros with Homemade Tortilla Strips

14 Mar
Skillet Huevos Rancheros with Homemade Tortilla Strips

Skillet Huevos Rancheros with Homemade Tortilla Strips

I’ve been eying similar tomato sauce and egg dishes lately from the Middle East region, but “Shakshuka” uses quite a few spices that I simply don’t have. (And I have a LOT of spices!) But the ingredients and spices I almost always have on hand are Mexican in origin. Hence, I bring to you a riff on Shakshuka, Tex-Mex style!

My husband and I were disappointed I only cooked four of the six eggs. We both had large lunches, and decided one egg each would suffice. Oh boy, were we wrong! While are daughter munched happily on her second egg, we longed in silence. However, there was plenty of sauce leftover to make a repeat for lunch the next day!

Skillet Huevos Rancheros with Homemade Tortilla Strips

For the Ranchero Sauce:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 Serrano (or jalapeño) pepper, diced small
1 cup onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 28-ounce can pureed tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon New Mexico ground chile (or chili powder)
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

For the Rest of It:
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 6-inch corn tortillas
Sea salt, to taste
4 to 6 large eggs
1/2 cup fresh-grated Monterrey Jack cheese
1/2 cup fresh-grated cheddar cheese
Handful fresh cilantro, (chopped) for garnish
Sour cream, for garnish

Simmering the Rancheros Sauce

Simmering the Rancheros Sauce

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. To make the sauce, add a tablespoon of oil to a cast iron or oven-proof skillet over medium heat. Add the spicy pepper, onion, and garlic, and cook for about 7 minutes until onions are softened. Pour in the can of tomatoes, then bring to a simmer. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the black beans, and salt and pepper, to taste.

Prepping the Tortilla Strips

Prepping the Tortilla Strips

While the sauce is simmering, brush both sides of the corn tortillas with oil and sprinkle with a little salt. Cut into thin strips. Place on a baking sheet in a single layer and place in the preheated oven. Bake for about 3 minutes on each side, until lightly browned. Remove and set aside. (I tried making the strips before the sauce, and got so busy that I burnt my first batch. Lucky for me I always have a large bag of corn tortillas in the pantry!)

Eggs Nestled in Tomato Sauce

Eggs Nestled in Tomato Sauce (LOOK! There is plenty of room for two more eggs, silly!)

When the sauce has thickened, remove from the heat. Make indentations in the sauce with the back of a large spoon, and crack each egg into the wells. Return the pan to the heat and cover. Simmer gently for about 15 minutes, until the whites are partially set.

Skillet Eggs Ready for the Broiler

Skillet Eggs Ready for the Broiler

Turn the oven to broil. Sprinkle the grated cheese over the dish, then place the skillet under the broiler. Cook until the cheese is melted and bubbling and the eggs are cooked to your liking. This shouldn’t be more than a few minutes, unless you like hard-cooked eggs. Remove the skillet (carefully!) from the oven. Garnish with the tortilla strips and cilantro, scoop out your eggs and sauce, and serve with sour cream if you want.

Skillet Huevos Rancheros

Skillet Huevos Rancheros

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Chicken Enchilada Skillet

7 Mar
Chicken Enchilada Skillet

Chicken Enchilada Skillet

I’ve been keen on making one-pot meals these days. I had a hankering for enchiladas, but I sure mess up a lot of dishes in that process. I’ve done the enchilada casserole before, which does use a few less dishes, but that is still too many when you just want to throw everything into ONE dish and cook it. Yes, a slow cooker works like that, but it was 6 pm and no time for that. A few interwebz searches yielded the brainchild for the following recipe. I’ve decided to call it Chicken Enchilada Skillet, because that is exactly what it is. And you could make it with ground burger, steak, or pork too! A cheesy, filling dish that tastes like enchiladas, but made in only a skillet! Win-win.

Chicken Enchilada Skillet

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken (white or dark)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Ground black pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
3/4 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup uncooked rice
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 10-ounce can Rotel diced tomatoes with green chiles (off-brands are now available)
1 10-ounce can red enchilada sauce (freeze the rest if larger)
1 cup frozen corn
1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed.
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
2.25 ounce can sliced black olives
Cilantro, diced green onions, for garnish
Sour cream and warmed tortillas, for serving

Chop the chicken into bite-size pieces, then season with the pepper, cumin, and chile powder.

Seasoned Chicken and Onions

Seasoned Chicken and Onions

Add the oil to a large oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat, and cook the chicken and onion until browned, about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Browning the Chicken and Onions

Browning the Chicken and Onions

Add the rice to the skillet and cook about 3 to 4 more minutes, stirring occasionally.

Sauteeing the Rice with Chicken

Sauteing the Rice with Chicken

Next add the chicken broth, canned tomatoes with green chiles, enchilada sauce, and corn. Heat up to a low boil, then turn down to a simmer.

Simmering the Enchilada Misture

Simmering the Enchilada Mixture

Cover the skillet and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, until the rice is cooked through and absorbed most of the liquid.

Enchilada Skillet Ready for Garnishes

Enchilada Skillet Ready for Garnishes

Remove from the heat, then add the black beans. Top with the grated cheese and black olives. Put under a broiler for a few minutes until the cheese is melted. Garnish with the green onions and cilantro, and serve with sour cream and tortillas.

Chicken Enchilada Skillet

Chicken Enchilada Skillet

You can add the mixture to a tortilla and roll into a burrito, or just use it to dip into the enchilada skillet surprise!

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Pastitsio, Pasticcio, Pasticchio

28 Feb
Pastitsio, Pasticcio, Pasticchio

Pastitsio, Pasticcio, Pasticchio

Pistachios, am I nuts? No, this is Pastitsio, also known as Pasticcio, and sometimes spelled Pasticchio. But my tattered Better Homes and Garden cookbook names this Greek dish it the latter. No matter how you spell it, it’s dang good! It also messes up a lot of pots and pans. But don’t let that stop you from making this guest-worthy casserole.

You can shorten the cooking time by preparing some of the steps concurrently, or, if you have a lazy weekend day with lots of time you can just methodically work your way through each step. The end result will be the same. Bites of savory tomato and ground beef pasta topped with a lusciously puffy bechamel/egg crust. Are you drooling yet???

I had not made this in probably 5 or 6 years, so I just followed the recipe again as written (mostly) in the cookbook. Traditionally, this dish is made with a tubular pasta but I think the smaller macaroni works well with this. My family agreed it could use a few tweaks, but even so we all enjoyed this immensely. I’ve added my tweaks to the recipe below, and I think you’d be satisfied with them. So here it goes:

Pasticchio
From Better Homes and Gardens All-Time Favorite Recipes

6 ounces (1 1/2 cups) dry elbow macaroni
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese (the real stuff!)
1/4 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
3/4 pound ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce (I would also add a can of diced tomatoes next time)
3/4 teaspoon salt (I used Mrs. Dash, but we agreed real salt would be better)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I actually used 1/4 teaspoon, and it was the right amount)
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper (I ground in liberal amounts)
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups milk
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Paprika, to make it pretty

Pasta Mixture

Pasta Mixture

Cook the macaroni according to package directions. Drain, and set aside to cool for a bit. When cooled enough not to cook the egg you will be adding, stir in 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup of milk, and the beaten egg. Set aside.

Beef and Tomato Sauce Mixture

Beef and Tomato Sauce Mixture

In a large skillet, brown the ground beef and chopped onion until the meat is cooked and the onion is tender. Drain off any excess fat. Stir in the tomato sauce (and can of diced tomatoes, if using), and the salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and pepper. Set aside.

Bechamel Cream Sauce

Bechamel Cream Sauce

In a saucepan, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and a little bit of salt to form a paste. Pour in the 1 1/2 cups of milk all at once, whisking continuously. Cook and stir until the sauce is thickened and bubbly. Add the other beaten egg to a bowl, then pour half the sauce into the bowl with the egg and combine. Then pour that mixture back into the saucepan with the rest of it. Stir in 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese until combined.

Final Prepping of the Casserole

Final Prepping of the Casserole

Layer half the macaroni mixture to a lightly oil-sprayed 2-quart casserole dish. Spread the meat mixture evenly on top of the pasta, then the remaining macaroni. Spread the cream sauce over all. (Optionally sprinkle ground paprika over it, to make it pretty.) Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy with a side salad or vegetable. Guest-worthy, indeed!

Pastitsio, Pasticcio, Pasticchio

Pastitsio, Pasticcio, Pasticchio

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Steak Fingers with Cream Gravy Dipping Sauce

25 Feb
Steak Fingers with Cream Gravy Dipping Sauce

Steak Fingers with Cream Gravy Dipping Sauce

Who am I kidding? This is just my standard chicken-fried steak recipe, except I cut the tenderized round steak into “fingers” and turned them into dipping food! I was trying to think of something different to make with one of the many packages of tenderized top round in our freezer from the cow quarter we bought last year. It also needed to be something my daughter would eat. My daughter is a huge fan of my Garlicky Parmesan Chicken Tenders, so figured she’d go along with this idea of steak prepared in somewhat the same manner. (Although I bake the chicken tenders, not fry them.)

As expected, these were a hit! She liked them so much she brought leftovers to school the next day for lunch. And yes, my husband liked them too but he also likes my chicken-fried steak when I make it. Instead of serving with the usual mashed potatoes and green beans, I made french fries and a salad to go with this. (Plus then I could dip my fries in the gravy sauce too!)

Here is what I did:

Steak Fingers with Cream Gravy Dipping Sauce

1.5 to 2 pounds tenderized top round steak (or cube steak)
Ground pepper, and salt or Mrs. Dash, to taste
2 eggs
1/2 cup of milk
1 cup flour
1 cup cornmeal
More black pepper and Mrs. Dash, to taste
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or less if you don’t want too spicy)
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon butter
Vegetable oil, for skillet
2 tablespoons reserved cornmeal, flour mixture, or just plain flour
2 cups milk
More ground black pepper, for gravy

Cut the steak into strips across the grain about 1-inch wide and season them with pepper and salt, or Mrs. Dash, to taste. In a shallow bowl, beat the eggs and milk together. In yet another shallow bowl or on a large plate, mixed together the flour, cornmeal, and spices with a fork until well blended.

Breaded Steak Fingers Ready to Cook

Breaded Steak Fingers Ready to Cook

Dredge the steak fingers, one at a time, first through the cornmeal/flour mixture, then in the egg, then back into the mixture until well coated. Set in a single layer on a cooking sheet. Your fingers will get clumpy after a while, so you will have to rinse your hands a few times. Dredge until all pieces are coated.

Frying the First Side of Steak

Frying the First Side of Steak

Add the butter and vegetable oil to a large cast iron or heavy bottomed skillet and heat over medium, to medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the steak fingers with tongs one at a time, leaving space between them. Do not overcrowd the pan. You will have to do this in batches. Cook on each side for a few minutes until golden brown and no more red juice is seeping from the steak. Remove to paper-towel lined plate and continue cooking the rest of the steak.

Frying the Second Side of Steak

Frying the Second Side of Steak

Once all the steak fingers are cooked, pour out all but a couple of tablespoons of oil from the pan. Whisk in about 2 tablespoons of the reserved cornmeal/flower mixture, or add in new flour if you ran out or forgot to save some. Continue whisking until a golden brown, then pour in the milk all at once. Continue whisking and stirring until the the cream gravy is the consistency you want. If it gets too thick, you can add more milk or water.

Whisking the Cream Gravy Dipping Sauce

Whisking the Cream Gravy Dipping Sauce

Remove from heat, pour into dipping bowls, and serve with the steak fingers. Finger-licking good!

Steak Fingers with Cream Gravy Dipping Sauce2

Steak Fingers with Cream Gravy Dipping Sauce

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