Tag Archives: cheese

More Than Microwaving – Broccoli Cheese Casserole

If you grew up anywhere even remotely near the South, chances are you’ve had a generous amount of broccoli cheese casserole.  It’s ok, but I just really don’t care for those canned, condensed soups.  My husband, however, LOVES this casserole.  Our compromise? I make it with leftover, homemade broccoli cheese soup.  I’ve seen this served as a side or even with whole chicken breasts or thighs roasted on top of the casserole so it makes a one dish meal.  I like to do it that way, but this time of year is lean for us. My husband works in the oilfield.  Seems these companies always underestimate their yearly operating expenses and work gets cut to the bare minimum toward the end on the year.  This recipe uses up your leftovers, stretches a little bit of meat and makes a hearty meal that is a crowd pleaser. Oh, and did I mention it is seriously easy?

Cube up one large or two small chicken breasts.  Seriously, I hate that when I buy frozen chicken breasts there are always a couple of monster pieces and then some that are so small it is obvious they aren’t whole breasts.  I use those for this.  Here is the chicken I started with.  It made about a cup and a half of cooked cubes.


That is seriously all the chicken I used.  After your chicken is cooked, add equal parts prepared brown rice (or you could use half as much uncooked minute rice) and leftover broccoli cheese soup (or, if you prefer, used condensed soup and some milk) to the pan with your chicken. Pour the whole mixture into a large casserole dish (9×13), and sprinkle with cheese.


Bake until the cheese is melted and the edges are bubbly.  It doesn’t take long since everything is cooked through already (you may have to cook it longer if you use uncooked rice).  Serve wit ha nice salad and you’ve got a full meal.



1 large or 2 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed

1 Tablespoon oil

salt and pepper

4 cups leftover broccoli cheese soup

4 cups prepared brown rice

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350*

Heat oil in large skillet.  Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.  Brown chicken in skillet and remove from heat.

Stir in leftover soup and loosen any brown bits that remain from cooking the chicken.  Stir in rice.

Transfer the meat, soup and rice mixture to a 9×13 casserole dish and sprinkle with shredded cheese.  Bake at 350* for 15-20 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.


More Than Microwaving – Cheesy Potato Soup with Ham

I don’t usually cook a big Christmas dinner.  In fact, I can’t remember the last time I had anything that resembled a ‘traditional’ Christmas meal.  But this year, I outdid myself.  The week of Christmas I made a turkey dinner one day and a ham dinner a different day.  It was delicious and decadent, but oh boy the leftovers. I don’t really like ham, so  why I decided to make a 13 pound, bone-in, spiral-cut ham is a mystery.  Leftovers are perplexing.  I don’t like ham sandwiches (or really any sandwich), so the usual is out.  You can only feed a family beans with ham for so long before you have to vacate the house (after all, beans are the musical fruit). Then, I remembered that I made a huge casserole dish full of au gratin potatoes to go with that ham. And the pieces began to fall together.  Leftover potatoes make fantastic soup.  And what’s better with creamy, cheesy potato soup that smoky pork?

Start by chopping up some leftover ham.  I used about a cup of diced ham.  If you don’t have that much, no problem, just use what you have.  Add about a tablespoon of diced onion.  Throw the ham and the onion in a soup pot over very low heat and cook for 15-20 minutes.  Yes, it is a long time.  Yes, your ham will start to dry out.  Yes, you will have some brown bits all over the bottom of the pan.  These are all good things.  Trust me.


At this point, add about a cup of chicken stock and scrape all the brown bits off the bottom of the pan.  Then add the au gratin potatoes.  Break apart the potatoes as you stir them into the broth and ham.  You can leave the pieces big or mash them up. (Don’t have au gratin potatoes? Use any leftover potatoes, some milk and cheese).  Taste for seasoning.  I added a little pepper.  Depending on the saltiness of your potatoes, ham and broth, you may need to add a little salt also. When it is seasoned to your liking, ladle it into bowls and serve it piping hot.



1 cup diced ham

1 T diced onion

1-1 1/2 cups chicken stock

3 cups au gratin potatoes

salt and pepper to taste

Cook ham and onion in a soup pan over low heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add 1 cup chicken stock to ham and onions.  Stir well and scrape the brown bits off the pan.

Add au gratin potatoes and stir to incorporate.  If desired, mash the potatoes into the stock with a spoon or potato masher.  Add additional chicken stock to achieve desired consistency.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Stuffed Chile Bites

I remember so many New Year’s Eve nights spent at home with my parents.  We watched Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, drank sparkling grape juice and ate finger foods.  Usually there were veggies and ranch dip, crackers with summer sausage and cheese and maybe even little smokies in bbq sauce.  It was more about fun than fancy, but it is one of the only times I remember my mom making appetizers.  My appetizer repertoire is similarly limited.  So, when I organized a mom’s night out this month that included a best dish competition, I’m not really sure why I decided the food categories should be appetizers and desserts.  I agonized for days over what I would bring.  Then, I remembered on of my husband’s favorite things.  In fact, we usually serve this up with a salad and eat it as a meal, but it makes a fantastic appetizer.

Start by roasting the chiles in your broiler.  You can certainly use a grill for all of this, but I was too lazy to stoke up the charcoal in the cold.  Alas, these are not New Mexico green chiles, they are Aneheims.  New Mexicos are out of season and I find frozen chiles just don’t work as well for this as fresh.  You could also use Poblanos.


When the chile skins are nice and browned, take the chiles out of the broiler and toss them in a tightly sealed  plastic bag.  This allows the heat to steam the chiles while they are cooling and makes the skins even easier to remove.  Peel the chiles.  Make an opening down one side to remove the seeds and ribs.  Then, slice cheese into long sticks about 1/4″x1/4″x4-6″ (I use half a block and cut 4 equal sized sticks the length of the block).  Divide the sausage into 4 equal parts and wrap one part of sausage around each stick of cheese.  Try to make sure you cover the cheese completely.


Stuff each piece of sausage covered cheese into a chile and wrap with bacon.  Stretch the slice of bacon as you wrap to keep it tight and to make sure you only use 1 slice of bacon per chile.


Bake (or grill) until sausage is cooked through and bacon crisps.  I find the bacon gets much crispier on the grill than it does in the oven.  And yes,  I did wash that cutting board with hot soapy water while the chiles were cooking.


Let these cool for a few minutes so the cheese will set.  Then use a sharp knife to slice them into 1/4″-1/2″ rounds.  Serve warm.



4 large Aneheim chiles

1/2 pound ground sausage (breakfast or Italian)

1/2 pound sharp chedder cheese

4 slices bacon

Roast chiles under the broiler until skins are bubbly and brown.  Remove chiles from broiler. Place in a tightly sealed plastic bag to cool.  When chiles are completely cooled, remove the peels and the seeds leaving as much of the chile intact as possible.

Heat oven to 350*.

Slice cheese into 4 equal sized sticks about as long as the chiles.  Divide sausage into 4 equal parts.  Wrap each stick of cheese with one part of the sausage.  Stuff sausage wrapped cheese into the peeled, seeded chile.  Wrap each chile with a slice of bacon, slightly stretching each bacon slice as you wrap.

Bake at 350* for 25-30 minutes or until sausage is cooked through and bacon starts to crisp.

Pocket Sandwiches

When I was a kid, the whole family would go camping for 2 weeks.  Apparently, my friends thought we were roughing it because we camped in a tent and not in an organized campground.  I figured we were high-class camping.  We had a potty chair, an enclosed kitchen, cots with pretty cozy mattresses, and eventually even a shower.  We always had the best food when we were camping.  To help with quick breakfasts and lunches, my mom would make up big batches of these pocket sandwiches.  I remember hearing them called kraut burgers as a kid, but I never remember eating them filled with cabbage.  That said, I have eaten them filled with taco meat and even sausage and scrambled eggs.  They’re nice to have on hand for school lunches or even quick dinners (or breakfast if you fill them with eggs).  Use this recipe as a process and change out the filling to whatever fits the taste of your family.

If you’re making home made bread dough, do that first.  If your dough is frozen, get it out to thaw.  If you’re crunched for time, you can use biscuit dough, but it is much harder to work with.

Then, dice up 3-4 slices of bacon.  Cook the bacon pieces in a hot skillet until crispy. Remove the bacon from the pan and drain on a paper towel.


Brown the hamburger and drain it well.  Then add the bacon and seasoning into the hamburger.  I like to add a little smoke flavored marinade to my meat mixture.  You can use Worcestershire sauce or a few drops of liquid smoke or just leave it out.


Let the filling mixture cool.  Divide your bread dough into 8 even sections – about the size you’d make into a dinner roll.  If you have extra dough, just toss it in the freezer or bake it up alongside the sandwiches. I used a wheat bread dough and I did have extra.


Roll each dough ball out into a thin circle.  Top each circle with cheese, green chile and meat.


Fold the edges over and pinch the seams closed.


Place seam side down on a cookie sheet and bake at 350* for 25-35 minutes.  You’ll notice some of these have a little green chile on top and some don’t.  I made some without for my little guys. The extra moisture from the diced chile made my dough bubble up a little when I cooked them.


I normally wouldn’t cut these open.  Normally, I’d let them cool, wrap them in foil or put them in a sandwich size Ziploc and toss them in the freezer.  But, I knew you would all want to see the inside.



3-4 slices bacon

1 pound ground beef

1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1 Tablespoon smoke flavored marinade (optional)

Bread Dough (enough for 8 rolls) – thaw if frozen

1/2 cup diced green chile

1 cup shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 350*

Dice bacon.  Cook over medium heat until crisp.  Remove bacon and drain on paper towels.

In the same skillet, brown hamburger.  Drain.

Stir together bacon, hamburger, Cajun seasoning, cumin and marinade.  Let cool.

Separate bread dough into 8 equal parts.  Roll one piece of dough into a thin circle, 5-6″ in diameter.

Top dough circle with 2 Tablespoons shredded cheese, 1 Tablespoon diced green chile and 1/3-1/2 cup of hamburger mixture.  Fold edges in and seal seams by pinching.  Place seam side down on a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining ingredients.

Bake sandwiches at 350* for 25-30 minutes.


My kids love to help in the kitchen.  Laying noodles and spreading cheese and sauce layers are the perfect ways for them to help me make lasagna.  And, since they get to help so much, they always seem to eat more.  In fact, my daughter asked me to pack lasagna in her lunch 3 days in a row after we made it  for dinner.  I take a little help by using jarred sauce.  Also, I don’t pre-cook my noodles (and I don’t buy those “special” no-cook noodles either).

I start by browning hamburger and Italian sausage together.  Make sure you crumble it pretty fine as it is cooking so you don’t get big chunks of meat in your lasagna (unless you like big chunks, then, go for it).


Drain off any extra fat and add sauce to meat in pan.  Use 3/4 cup of water to rinse out your jar and add it to the pan too.  This extra water will help your noodles soften up in the pan.  Then I mix up my ricotta cheese and mozzarella cheese with an egg and some seasoning.  The egg helps your cheese layer stay put instead of squishing everywhere when you try to eat it. And I use part-skim ricotta.  I’ve tried the regular.  The part-skim seems to give a creamier texture – less grainy than the regular.  Maybe it’s just me.


Next, spread a very thin layer of sauce on the bottom of your baking dish to keep the pasta from sticking.


I build three sets of layers – noodles, cheese, sauce.  Then, top the whole thing with some more mozzarella cheese.


Put the whole pan in a preheated oven and bake it for about thirty minutes – until the cheese is melted and golden and the edges are bubbling.


Let this stand for at least 10 minutes before you try to serve it.  If you don’t, you’re going to burn yourself and your layers are going to fall apart.  If you wait, you’ll be able to serve beautiful slices of deliciousness.



1 pound hamburger

1/2 pound Italian sausage

24 ounce jar of prepared pasta sauce

3/4 cup water

15 ounce container part skim ricotta cheese

3 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese (divided)

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1/4 teaspoon dried basil

12-15 dry lasagna noodles (depending on your baking dish)

Preheat oven to 350*.

Brown hamburger and Italian sausage in skillet together.  Drain.  Return to pan and add pasta sauce.  Pour 3/4 cup water into empty jar.  Swirl jar to rinse down all the extra sauce and add water to pan.  Leave sauce simmering on stove.

Add ricotta, 1 1/2 cups mozzarella, egg, pepper, Italian seasoning and basil to a bowl.  Stir to mix thoroughly.

Spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of your baking dish. Cover with 4-5 dry noodles, depending on the size of your baking dish.  Top dry noodles with 1/3 of cheese mixture. Spread to distribute evenly.  Top with 1/3 of your sauce and spread to distribute evenly.  Repeat the layering process 2 more times.  Top with remaining 2 cups mozzarella cheese.

Bake at 350* for 30 minutes.  Cheese will be melted and golden and sauce will be bubbling at the edges.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Jalapeno Cheese Spaghetti Squash Pancakes

Since my doctor and I changed my diet about a year ago, one of the things I miss the most is white potatoes.  Mashed potatoes, fried potatoes, potatoes in my soups, baked potatoes, potato pancakes, hash browns.  You get the idea.  I still have them sometimes, but there used to be a potato on the plate 5/7 nights at my house.  Not anymore.  The good news is, it has led me to try and enjoy lots of different foods.  One of those is spaghetti squash.  Now, I can’t get behind using it as spaghetti.  I know a lot of people do, but the texture just doesn’t work for me.  These pancakes, however, remind me of potato pancakes.  They have a similar mouth feel, are loaded with flavor and don’t leave you feeling as weighted down as potatoes do.

Start by “roasting” your spaghetti squash.There is a time and a place for oven roasting squashes of all kinds.  It just isn’t necessary for this recipe.  I found a shortcut on the web somewhere and it is how I do spaghetti squash almost every time.  Carefully cut your squash in half lengthwise.  Scoop out the seeds.  Fill the cavity in one half with water and then put the other half back on top (so it looks like a whole squash again).  Place this in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for about 10 minutes (or until the squash is tender). The flesh should pull away from the skin in strings when you drag a fork across it.


Remove the seeds and ribs from a jalapeno and finely dice it.  I used half a jalapeno.  The peppers I can find around here are HUGE and, since I was feeding these to my kids, I wanted to keep the heat level down.  Feel free to adjust this to your taste. The paring knife is in the picture for a size comparison.


Stir together the squash, jalapeno, cheese, egg, flour, salt and pepper.  Drop by spoonfuls into a hot non-stick pan with oil.


Cook until golden brown and flip.  If you’re watching your dairy intake, you can certainly leave the cheese out of these and they still turn out wonderful.



1 Tablespoon oil

3 cups cooked spaghetti squash

1 jalapeno

1/2 cup shredded cheese

2 eggs

1/4 cup flour

salt and pepper

Heat oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat.

Remove the ribs and seeds from jalapeno.  Dice finely.

Stir together spaghetti squash, jalapeno, cheese, eggs and flour.  Season with salt and pepper.

Drop mixture by spoonfuls into hot oil.  Cook for 2-3 minutes per side or until golden brown.  Serve warm.

Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas

Are you tired of green chile recipes yet?  No.  Good.  I don’t make enchiladas at home very often.  Honestly, there are a half dozen different restaurants within a 5 mile radius of my home that make them.  My kitchen stays a lot cleaner when I just let someone else do it.  But during chile season (also known as that time of year when you don’t want to light the heater yet so you use the oven to heat the house), I always make at least one pan of my own.  Everybody around here has their own recipe.  Everyone would die defending that they do it the right way and everyone else is wrong.  My recipe is my mother’s.  Or at least close to hers.  I may have taken some liberties with it here and there.  What I do know is that most people who use browned flour to thicken their chile sauce make a roux and cook it until it is brown.  My mom was conscious of the amount of oil she used in her cooking and we actually brown the flour in a dry pan.  All my friends think this is really weird.  Especially since I’m going to then use it with copious amounts of cheese, but hey, save those calories where you can, right? This recipe makes extra chlile sauce.  You can make more enchiladas, or you can save the sauce in the freezer for later.  I’ll show you how to turn it into green chile stew in a future More Than Microwaving post.

Start out by browning your flour.   Cook it over medium high to high heat until it is the color of peanut butter.  You must stir this constantly once it starts to brown and almost constantly before that or you will burn your flour.  You must also do this is a heavy bottomed pan.  If you do this in a pan with a thin bottom, you’ll end up warping it, and nobody likes a pan with a warped bottom (except maybe my mom, who did this in a warped pan until my dad threw it away without telling her).  I usually add my cumin in with my flour while I’m browning it.  I like the way it makes the cumin taste even more smoky and roasted.


Next, whisk in your broth (or stock).  Be careful.  This is going to steam A LOT.  I usually wear a glove of some kind while I’m doing this just to keep my hand protected.  You must whisk continuously while you add the broth or you will get flour lumps in your sauce.  And flour lumps do not taste good.  You should end up with a light brown sauce about the consistency of gravy.


Add your chile and spices to this sauce and let it simmer together and get happy while you roll the enchiladas.  Start by lightly frying your corn tortillas in hot oil.  This is just to heat them up and make them pliable.  A few seconds on each side is all it takes.  I literally put the tortilla in, grab the tongs, flip it, count to two and pull it out.  Place them on paper towels (or another absorbent surface) while you fry the rest. They should look something like this.


Put a line of shredded chicken and cheese down the center of each tortilla and roll.  It takes a while to figure out what the just right amount is for you.  I use about 1/4 cup of chicken and about a tablespoon of cheese. If you overfill them, they’ll be hard to roll.  Use your best judgment.


Roll enchiladas and place them in a pan.  I made 12 enchiladas and packed them into a large loaf pan. You could certainly make more and use a bigger pan.


Top this with a generous amount of your chile sauce and cheese.  Bake at 350* for 20-30 minutes.  Cheese will be melted and sauce will be bubbly.


Serve with a little extra sauce over the top.



2 cups flour

1 teaspoon cumin

6-8 cups chicken broth

1 1/2 cups diced green chile (or more)

3 cloves garlic, grated

1/2 onion, diced

salt and pepper to taste

Oil for frying

12 corn tortillas

3 cups shredded chicken

1 1/2  cups shredded cheese

Place a heavy stock pot over medium high to high heat.  Add flour and cumin.  Cook, stirring constantly, until flour is brown.  Remove from heat and whisk in 6 cups of broth (careful of the steam).  Add more broth if necessary to achieve a gravy-like consistency.  Add chile, garlic, onion and salt and pepper.  Simmer over low heat while you roll the enchiladas. Taste for seasoning again before you use.

Preheat oven to 350*.  Heat a thin layer of oil in a skillet.  Fry tortillas one at a time just until soft and pliable (2-3 seconds per side).  Drain.

Cover the bottom of a baking dish with a thin layer of chile sauce.  Place 1/4 cup chicken and 1 Tablespoon cheese in a line down the center of tortilla. Roll and place in baking dish.  Repeat with remaining tortillas.  Cover with chile sauce and cheese.  Bake at 350* for 20-30 minutes or until sauce is bubbly and cheese is melted.  Serve with extra chile sauce.

More Than Microwaving – Taco Cupcakes

Yeah, I said it.  Taco Cupcakes.  They only resemble a cupcake in shape and size, so don’t gross yourself out thinking about sugary sweet tacos with frosting (ick!).My kids LOVE these.  First, they’re called cupcakes.  Second, they’re just the right size for little hands.  Third, you don’t have to worry about the shells snapping in half or having your filling leak out the back.  Also, they travel well in lunch boxes.  Sometimes, I mix up fresh taco filling just for these, but more often I use whatever taco filling we have left and make these for lunch.

Spray your muffin pan if it’s not the silicone variety.   Press a won ton wrapper into each hole.  Spoon a spoonful of refried beans onto the won ton.


Top beans with cheese and a second won ton skin.  Top that won ton skin with taco meat (I used leftover chicken) and more cheese.  You’ll see some in the picture with only one layer.  My picky kiddo doesn’t like cheese on his meat.  Those are his.  Just won ton skin, beans and taco meat.


Pop these in a 350* oven for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and golden.  Let them cool for a couple of minutes before serving.



12 won ton skins

1/2 cup refried beans

1/2 cup shredded cheese

1 cup taco meat

Preheat oven to 350*.  Spray muffin pan with cooking spray.  Line 6 muffin cups with a won ton skin.  Place a heaping tablespoon of refried beans on top of each won ton skin.  Top beans with half the cheese.  Place a second won ton skin in each muffin cup and press down gently to spread beans and cheese evenly over the bottom of the muffin cup.  Top this second skin with taco meat (about 2 Tablespoons).  Top meat with remaining cheese.  Bake at 350* for 10-12 minutes or until cheese is melted and won ton edges are brown and crispy.  Let stand for 2-3 minutes before serving.

More Than Microwaving – Cheesy Bread

Remember those rolls I made yesterday? The ones you just stir up and toss in the fridge until you’re ready to bake them? The ones that taste so good I almost ate the whole dozen myself? You do? Good. Now, do you remember I only baked 12 rolls but said the recipe would make 24? That’s because I was saving some for this loaf of bread in all its cheesy goodness.

Scoop about half your remaining dough in little dollops into a greased bundt pan (or bread pan, I just like the way it looks). Sprinkle 1/4-1/2 cup shredded cheese over the dollops. Top with remaining dough and more cheese. Bake until the bread is done and the cheese is golden.

1/2 recipe Aunt Linda’s Spoon Rolls
1/2-1/4 cup shredded cheese (any kind)
Preheat oven to 350*. Grease a bundt pan.
Use about half your dough to scoop little pieces into the greased bundt pan. Be sure to cover the bottom on the pan. Sprinkle half your cheese over the dough. Use the remaining dough to scoop little pieces onto the top of the dough and cheese already in the pan. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
Bake at 350* for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool for 10 minutes and then invert bundt pan onto serving plate. Slice (or tear) to serve.


Chile Rellenos

I have lived in New Mexico for most of my life.  Every year, I look forward to the end of August with excitement and anticipation and glee.  Why? Two simple words: chile season.  Real New Mexico green chile is only in season for a few short weeks at the end of summer.  Roadside vendors pop up.  Chile festivals happen.  And the air is heavy with the aroma of chiles roasting over propane burners.  If I could bottle that smell, I’d make a million dollars (actually, I think a local candlemaker has a roasted green chile candle).  But I digress.  One of my favorite things to do with those fresh roasted chiles is stuff them with cheese and fry them up.  Part of the fun of peeling and freezing chiles is picking the perfect chiles for making rellenos.  This recipe also works well for making jalapeno poppers just in case you are unfortunate enough to live somewhere where you can’t get whole, fresh New Mexico green chile.

Start by peeling the roasted chile.  Try to leave the stem on, it makes a nice handle later.  Make a slit in the side of the chile and clean out most of the seeds.  Then, stuff them with cheese.  I use shredded cheese mixed with an egg to help reduce the amount of melty cheese that leaks out during frying..


After stuffing, dip in batter and place in hot oil.  You can use a deep fryer instead of a skillet, but I don’t have one.


Fry until golden brown and crispy.  If you use a deep fryer, they’ll be nice and round instead of flat on the sides.  They taste fantastic either way. 



oil for frying

5-6 medium New Mexico green chiles

1 cup shredded cheese

1 egg


1/4 cup cornstarch

1/4 cup flour

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 egg

1/4 cup water

Pour about 1/4 inch oil in the bottom of your skillet and heat over medium heat.  Peel green chiles.  Make a slit in the side and remove seeds.  Be careful not to pull the stem off the top of the chile. 

Mix 1 cup shredded cheese and one egg together until well mixed.  Fill chiles with cheese mixture. 

In a shallow dish, combine cornstarch, flour, baking powder salt and pepper.  Add egg and water and stir until combined. 

Test oil with a drop of batter.  If it bubbles and floats to the top, the oil is ready.  Coat chiles in batter and carefully place in oil.  Fry until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes, and flip.  Remove from oil when both sides are golden and crispy and cheese is melted.  Drain on paper towels.  Serve immediately either plain or smothered with green chile sauce.