Monday, January 31, 2011

Meal Tip Monday--Make a Menu

We all know that one of the hardest parts of cooking is deciding what to make for dinner, right? Growing up, our mom always had a menu taped inside the door of the spice cabinet. We all enjoyed checking it to see what we'd be having for dinner each night, and as we've grown up, we've all found that it makes for less stressful nights when we've got a menu planned out. We figured that since tomorrow is the first day of February, now would be a good time to tell you how we do it so that you can plan your menu for the month of love ;) It's really pretty simple, but here are the steps we take.

1--Start by making a giant list of all of your favorite meals, and add to it any time you find a new recipe or think of something else you love. For a starter list, check this.

2--Once you have a list of meal ideas, sit down with a blank calendar (There is a simple template here. I like this one because I can type everything in, print it, and it's ready to go. Just choose the month you need and start adding to it!). First, fill in all the days you know you have things going on (i.e. birthdays, dinner dates, out-of-town dates, etc. There is no shame in adding 'pizza night' or 'Chili's' to the menu!) and then fill in the empty days with a main course. We only list main courses because we already know what sides we eat with each meal. Try to rotate chicken, beef, pork, and meatless main dishes in order to keep things mixed up.

3--Once you've filled out your menu, make a grocery list. Go through each day and think about what ingredients you need for that meal, and then write them down. There is nothing worse than getting half way throuh cooking something and then realizing you don't have one spice.

4--Finally, go to the store! This method of meal planning is nice because if you'd like to, you can get all of your shopping done in one trip (minus produce, milk, bread, etc.), or you can break it up into bi-weekly or even weekly shopping.

Okay, so now that I've typed it, it sounds a little bit complicated, but it really is pretty simple. And, best of all, it keeps you from racking your brain every night for dinner ideas or, worse (if you're like me), stopping at McDonald's for a greasy double-cheese.

Here is what my menu might look like in a month.I threw this together pretty quickly, but here is something to get you started in case you are a visual person and want to see what it looks like:

I promise once you do this you will be hooked. If you do it, let us know how it goes!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Breakfast Casserole

I got this recipe from my old neighbor, Kristen. She is a great cook, and I always love getting new recipes from her. This one is super simple and doesn't involve overnight refrigeration like most breakfast casseroles. We made it for the Howe family over Christmas and they all loved it, even the kids (which says a lot considering our group).
Not the best picture ever. If you haven't noticed, we are here on howetocook are amateur photographers.

15 eggs
1 C. milk
1 C. sour cream
1 1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 C. grated cheddar cheese
1 1/2 C. ham or sausage (I buy the packaged, diced ham, and 1 package is the perfect amount)
1 green pepper (optional)
1 pkg. fresh mushrooms (optional)

Whisk eggs, add milk, and whisk again. Add other ingredients. Melt 3 Tbsp. butter ina 9X13 pan. Add egg mixture to pan. Bake at 350* for 45-50 minutes. Knife will come out clean.

I half this recipe and make it in a 8X8 pan for my little family, and it is plenty.

Mmmm. Now I'm wishing I'd made this for breakfast. Instead, I have these in the oven. Still yummy!

Pepperoni Pasta

This easy recipe will become a favorite with the kids but is still good enough to make even when the husband is home. When Nicki first told me about this recipe, I will admitt I was a little skeptical. But when I made it the first time, Grant and my kids devoured it, and it instantly became a keeper.
What you will need:
1 box spiral pasta
1 jar/2 cups marinara sauce
(my fave is here)
Olives (optional)
Shredded Cheese

Step 1: Boil the pasta according to package directions.
Drain pasta well
Mix the pasta and sauce together.
Cut olives into chunks
Mix olives into pasta and pour into a casserole dish
Cover the pasta with pepperoni
Cover with cheese (generously). I used chedder and mozzarella but use whatever you have.
Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 min. or until cheese is melted.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Chicken Parmesan

This is a well loved recipe among the Howe girls and our families. We fondly refer to it as Chicken Parm more often than not. Simply Delicious!

1/3 c. bread crumbs
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
2 T. Parmesan cheese (grated or shredded)
3/4 T. Italian Seasoning

2-4 breasts (I use the giant Costco ones so I cut 2 of them in half)
2 eggs, beaten

**Mix breading ingredients together.
**Dip chicken into eggs and into breading mixture.
**Place on greased cookie sheet
(I use my pizza stone--it works amazingly well!)
**Bake at 350* for 10-12 minutes. Turn over and bake for 10-12 minutes more. Spoon marinara on chicken and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Bake until cheese is melted. Serve over (or with) pasta.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Easy Homemade French Bread

If you love some warm bread with your dinner then this is the recipe for you. If you own a stand mixer (like a Kitchen Aide) then this recipe is most definitely for you!! It goes really fast and you are left with two yummy yummy loaves to enjoy.

2 1/2 C. warm water
3 T. sugar
2 T. yeast (I use the instant kind)
1 T. salt
5 T. oil
6 C. flour

If you aren't using instant yeast then add it to the warm water and 1/2 of the sugar. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes until it starts to grow and then add it to the other ingredients. If you use instant yeast then you can just thrown it all in the bowl at the same time. After you have it mixed well (either with the mixer or by hand) let it rest for 10 minutes. Stir it a bit and let it rest again. Do this 5 times all together with 10 minutes in between each time. When you are done divide it in half and roll each half out in a flat rectangle. Don't forget to lightly flour your counter first!Roll them each up starting with the longer side. Place seam side down on a cookie sheet sprayed with Pam.

Cut 3 slits in the top of each and brush with egg white. This will help it to brown up all nice and gorgeous! Let them raise for 30 minutes. Place in a pre-heated over at 400 degrees. Bake for 30 minutes and you are done. Ready for heaven??

So I am sorry that they don't look as pretty as they could but believe me you are NOT going to care. Oh. My. It is just that good. Give it a try the next time you make yummy soup for dinner. And if you have never made bread and are a little tiny bit scared....Don't be. This is a great way to start out your bread making career. Go on!

Meal Tip Monday--Creamy Mashed Potatoes

If you want to make your mashed potatoes extra creamy, along with adding butter and/or milk, add an ounce or two of cream cheese! Since learning this trick, I have never made them any other way. When we had my in-laws over for dinner they kept asking why the potatoes were so good. So try it!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

BLTA Croissants

This is a yummy twist on the classic BLT. Easy and so good!




head iceburg lettuce

1 tomato--sliced

1 avocado--sliced

sliced deli turkey


You can add or take away any of the ingredients to fit your tastebuds. I didn't do any measurements because it totally depends on how many people you're feeding and how much of each thing you want.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Taco Soup

I know there are a million versions of Taco Soup out there, but here's ours.

1 lb. ground beef (browned)
2 cans petite diced tomatoes
2 cans tomato sauce
2 cans black beans (rinsed and drained)
2 cans corn (with the juice)
1 pkg. Taco Seasoning mix

**Pour together in a pot and heat to boiling. Cover and simmer 5-10 minutes so beans will become soft.
**Serve with sour cream (we like homemade Ranch Dressing--big surprise!), cheddar cheese, and tortilla chips (we prefer it with Fritos!).

Again, I half this for my little family and it's perfect for dinner plus a enough left over for me to take to lunch the next day!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Parmesan Pull Apart Rolls

My friend Hollie introduced me to these delectable rolls (I changed them just a bit) and now they're a family favorite!

16-18 Rhodes frozen dinner rolls
6 Tbs. butter
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbs. Italian Seasoning
3 garlic cloves

**Melt butter in a large sauce pan.
**Stir in Parmesan, Italian seasoning & pressed garlic cloves.
**Put frozen rolls into the mixture and stir around, coating them all well.
**Pour into a Pammed bundt cake pan and cover with saran wrap (I Pam that too!).
**Let them raise (I would say 4ish hours but mine always seem to take way longer than that. I usually get them in the pan about 10 a.m. if we're going to have dinner at 5 that night, but then my kitchen isn't super warm either).
**Bake at 350* for 20-25 minutes.
**Turn them upside down onto a plate so they are easy to pull apart.
(I put a few too many in so we had a little overflow. :D)


Meal Tip Monday--Perfect Pasta

We here on Howe to Cook have decided to start something new--Meal Tip Monday. Each Monday, we will provide you with a simple cooking, baking, preparation, or clean-up tip. We're excited about this, and we hope you'll learn something new! So for our first meal tip...perfect pasta!

When boiling pasta, always add a splash of vegetable oil to your water.
Not only will it keep the water from boiling over,
but it will also prevent your pasta from getting sticky after drained.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Hello Dollies

Mmmm..... I could eat this whole pan!

1/2 c. butter
1 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs
1-2 c. chocolate chips
1-2 c. butterscotch chips
1 c. walnuts (optional!)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 c. coconut

(So the recipe called for 1 c. of each of the chips, but I just don't think it's enough, so I altered it a little!)

**Melt butter and pour into the bottom of a 9x13 pan. Pour graham cracker crumbs over the butter and press down. Sprinkle chocolate and butterscotch chips over graham crackers. Pour s.c. milk over the top and sprinkle with coconut.
**Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Alfredo Sauce

I have always used the same alfredo recipe that I found a few years ago in a small-town cookbook. A month or so ago, I was making the recipe and discovered I didn't have any shredded parmesan cheese. Because I was already half way through making the sauce, I didn't want to waste any ingredients. So I improvised! And, surprisingly enough, the recipe turned out better than the one I originally made! This is the only thing I have ever come close to inventing, so I thought I'd better share :)
1/2 C. butter
2 C. heavy whipping cream
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 C. grated parmesan
2-3 oz. cream cheese (cut into small chunks)

In a sauce pan, melt butter. Add cream, garlic powder, and pepper. Boil for 2 minutes. Add parmesan and cream cheese and boil until cream cheese melts (usually 3-4 minutes). Once the cream cheese is melted, it thickens up a little bit. However, I like my alfredo pretty thick, so I turn it on low and let it simmer for a few minutes; this usually helps it thicken pretty quickly.

Serve over your favorite pasta. Add grilled chicken or shrimp if you so desire!


Giveaway WINNER!

Congratulations to...
Shan said...
I am now a follower.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Don't forget to enter our Giveaway if you haven't already. It ends tonight at midnight, and we are so excited to see who wins! 

Enter here!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Easy Lasagna

I have always loved my mom's homemade lasagna, so I was excited when I got her recipe for it and saw how easy it was. I was even more excited the first time I made it with Nicki's homemade marinara sauce and tasted how delicious it was!

(My lasagna didn't turn out very pretty today, so I stole this image from here.)
32 oz. of your favorite spaghetti/marinara sauce
(I use this one mentioned above!)
10 lasagna noodles, uncooked
1 lb. hamburger, browned and drained
1 C. grated cheddar cheese
1 C. grated mozzarella cheese
16 oz. cottage cheese

*Layer 5 of the noodles in the bottom of a 9x13 pan. Layer the meat, half of the spaghetti sauce, cottage cheese, and half of each of the cheeses. Then layer the remainder of the noodles, the rest of the spaghetti sauce, and top with the cheeses. Cover tightly with tinfoil and bake at 350* for 1 hour.

(I halved this recipe and put it in an 8x8 pan for my little family!)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Honey Grilled Shrimp

(Picture taken from here)

This is not one of those everyday, grab stuff from the pantry, throw something in the oven, kind of dinners. This is something that I make for a special occasion and man do they Rock! I made these for Christmas dinner at the Howes' and they were a big hit. If you happen to be crazy for shrimp like 3 of the 4 Howe girls are then you must try these!

1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/3 c. Worcestershire sauce
2 T. Italian salad dressing
2 T. water
1 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined, with tails on

In a large Ziploc bag combine garlic powder, black pepper, Worcestershire sauce, salad dressing and shrimp, and toss to coat. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Thread shrimp onto skewers piercing once near the tail and one near the head. Discard remaining marinade. Grill shrimp on med-high heat turning every 2 minutes until pink and done. While grilling brush both sides liberally with glaze.


1/4 c. honey
1/4 c. butter, melted
2 T. Worcestershire sauce

These are just the yummiest thing ever!! As a side note I must mention that Worcestershire sauce is actually pronounced like woost-a-shur. Just ask Mark!

Saturday, January 8, 2011


We are SO excited about our first giveaway! We all recently discovered these mini choppers, and we are in love! They are so handy and make prep work for cooking so much faster and easier! We chop onions, peppers, cilantro, fruit, veggies, garlic, nuts, I've even made baby food for my baby in is seriously the greatest thing! We also love the size because they are small and easy to store and yet very efficient! Plus, they're dishwasher safe and easy to clean. You NEED a mini chipper in your kitchen! :)

There are 3 ways to enter, and you can enter all 3 ways!
 Here's how:
1--Become a follower and leave a comment telling us. If you're already a follower, let us know!
2--Leave a comment telling us about a recipe from our blog that you've made.
3--Blog, Facebook, or Twitter about this Giveaway and then leave us a comment letting us know about it.

Make sure that you leave your email address with each comment so that we can get ahold of you.

Giveaway will end Wednesday, January 12th at midnight.

Good luck!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Butterscotch Rolls

These were a traditional Christmas breakfast in my husband's family, and trying them for the first time may or may not have swayed my decision to marry him ;) They are truly heaven-sent! And they are too good to eat just once a year! We don't normally eat breakfast at our house during the week, so we save these yummies for the weekend when we have plenty of time to enjoy them.

16-18 Rhodes frozen rolls
1/2 C butter--melted
1 pkg. cook & serve butterscotch pudding (it must be cook & serve. Instant won't work!)
1-2ish C. brown sugar
1/4-1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Place rolls in a bundt pan (spray well with Pam first), and top with half (1/4 C) of your melted butter. Coat rolls with brown sugar. I was told that saying "there is no measurement" is very unhelpful, so I said 1-2ish cups. You want to be generous with your brown sugar--I do a few handfuls. Next, sprinkle the whole box of unprepared pudding on top of the brown sugar, sprinkle with cinnamon, and top with the rest of the melted butter. Cover (I use plastic wrap or a towel) and let sit over night. In the morning, bake at 350* for 20-25 minutes. I like to cook them for closer to 25 so that the bottom rolls are cooked thoroughly. Flip pan upside down onto a plate/platter, and eat warm.
Yum! My mouth is watering just thinking about these! I think we'll have them for a weekend breakfast, and I hope you will too!
Happy Friday!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Cheesy Bread

The annual Braithwaite Pig Out/Camp Out begins every year with a big ol' spaghetti dinner that wouldn't be complete without all of our favorite cheesy bread. I made this tonight, so I thought I'd share the recipe with you. Mmmmm.....

In a bowl, combine and stir together:
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. mayo
1/2 can diced green chilies
1 garlic clove
1 C. grated Monterey Jack cheese
(I halved this recipe for my little family and it made 6 slices of bread and I probably could have made another 1 or 2)

*Spread on sliced french bread.
*Broil for 3-5 minutes until cheese spread is bubbly and bread is starting to brown.

Cream Puffs

I got this heavenly recipe from a co-worker of mine. Susan (one of our 4th grade teachers) makes the MOST divine desserts you've ever tasted! I begged her for this recipe and she shared it with me, now I'm sharing it with you. Mmmmm.......

(I forgot to take a picture of the finished product, so I borrowed this from here.)

Cream Puff Shell:
1 c. water
1/2 c. butter
1/4 tsp. salt
4 eggs
1 c. flour

*Bring water, butter, and salt to a boil. Add flour and stir until a smooth ball forms. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes.

Pour into a bowl and add eggs one at a time, beating well after each egg.
Continue beating until smooth and shiny and, as my mom says, the batter is "climbing" the beaters.
Pipe or spoon onto greased pan.
(This time I used a teaspoon out of my silverware because I needed them a little bit smaller. In the past I've used a tablespoon (heaping) from my silverware and made 12 large ones.

Bake at 400* for 30-35 minutes (should be golden brown!)

Bavarian Cream Filling:
2 sm. pkg. instant vanilla pudding
2 c. milk
2 c. whipping cream
1/3 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

*Whip cream, sugar, and vanilla. Whip until stiff peaks form. Refrigerate. Then mix pudding and milk until thick. Add to cream mixture and whip together

**Cut tops off or pipe filling into cream puff shells. (I fill an icing bag and just use a large round icing tip, poke a hole in the bottom and squeeze in filling until it starts coming back out the hole!)
Drizzle with chocolate frosting or sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Chicken Bacon Ranch Sandwiches

Here is a quick and easy dinner idea,

these sandwiches are very simple to make but are so delicous.

What you will need:

1 Lg. or 2 Sm. Chicken Breasts

(I buy the ones at Costco and they are giant so I cut one in half)


8-10 stips of Bacon-cooked


Provolone Cheese


Lettuce (optional)

Tomatoes (optional)

Trim your chicken really well and put into a large ziploc bag. Take your meat tenderizer (or you could use a hammer if you don't have one) and pound it until it's flat. You don't have to do this step if you like your meat thick, but I prefer not to have to bite into an inch of meat.

Next, salt and pepper and cook your chicken using whatever method you prefer. I use the George Forman grill cause it's super easy but you can bake it or fry it also

That is basically all there is to it. You can toast your buns and melt the cheese over your chicken if you want to. Slice an avocado and some tomatoes. Put a little bit of ranch on your bun first so it isn't quite so dry. Grant likes to put some Brianna's honey mustard on his bun. It is very delicous just don't look at the calories. Top with lettuce, tomatoes, avocados (be generous) and the bacon. Then drizzle ranch over the whole thing.

Tip: I highly recommend making your own ranch from the Hidden Valley packet using buttermilk. It is the only ranch the Howe family will eat and once you do, you won't ever buy bottled ranch again.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Egg Nog Shakes!

Egg Nog shakes are one of our favorite treats for the holiday season. In this family, we are all lovers of ice cream and of Egg Nog. Put the two together and VOILA a simple, delicious, and super easy treat!

Go to your local store and purchase these two items:

Scoop a desired amount of ice cream into a bowl (I was making 2 here but it ended up being more like 2 1/2)

Pour in Egg Nog (use your judgment)

Mix with beaters.
When it's smooth I taste it again, if it's not "Noggy" enough I add some more.

Scoop into cups and enjoy!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Chicken Tortilla Soup

I know there are a million tortilla soup recipes out there, but here is my favorite. I got this recipe from my friend, Trudy, and I've never made another tortilla soup since. It is honestly one of the easiest recipes I make, and it is delish!
1 can cream of potato soup
1 can chicken broth
1 jar salsa con queso
1/2 cup sour cream
2 shredded chicken breasts (I just cook it in the crock-pot all day and then shred it)
1/2 packet taco seasoning
1/2 can diced chilies
1 can corn (drained)
1/4 cup cilantro
Put everything into a pot, stir together, bring to a boil, and serve! Eat it with crushed-up tortilla chips (we sprinkle them on top)!