Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mothers Day: Part 1

Holidays in our family usually equate to hectic schedules, and Mothers Day was no exception.  Because my brother-in-law attends a college out of town, we had a very small window between church and the afternoon party to create the personalized gift we planned.  Somehow, we managed to take the photos, develop the prints, and purchase the frame and card without being more than 15 minutes late to meet my husband’s family – all 17 of them!

After enjoying the music of local artist Graham Pagano on a beautiful 78° afternoon at the open air Weingarten in Belleville, we returned home to host his immediate family for dinner.  We served Three Cheese Mostaccioli and Neiman Marcus Cake.


*1 box mostaccioli rigate pasta
*1 jar Bertoli tomato basil sauce
*1 lbs. ground diet lean beef
*1(15 oz.) container large curd cottage cheese
*1 pkg. shredded mozzarella cheese
*1 pkg. shredded Italian cheese blend
*2 eggs
*2 tbsp. melted butter
*Minced onion flakes
*Salt and pepper to taste
*Grated parmesan cheese
*Parsley flakes (optional)

Bring a pot of water to boil for the pasta
Add pasta and cook for 8 or until tender
Drain pasta well
Brown the ground beef with minced onion flakes, salt and pepper
Meanwhile, combine ricotta, mozzarella, Italian cheese, eggs and melted butter
When pasta has drained, spread evenly over a greased 9x13" casserole dish
Layer the cheese mix on top of the pasta
Layer the ground beef on top of the cheese mix
Layer the sauce on top of the ground beef
Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350° for 30 minutes
Garnish with parmesan and parsley (optional)

The Neiman Marcus cake also doubled as a birthday cake for my mother-in-law!


*5 eggs
*1 stick of butter, softened
*1 box devils food cake mix (I prefer Betty Crocker)
*1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
*1 ½ cups pecan pieces (the nuts need to be smaller than the traditional “chopped” size)
*1 tsp. vanilla
*8 oz. cream cheese
*16 oz. powdered sugar

In a large bowl, mix 2 eggs and butter, then add cake mix
Spread into greased 9x3” casserole dish
Sprinkle with chocolate chips and 1 cup of pecans
In a separate bowl, mix 3 eggs, vanilla and cream cheese, then add powdered sugar
Stir in ½ cup of pecans with a wooden spoon
Spread over cake batter
Bake at 350° for 45 minutes

Because this cake doesn’t technically have icing, it’s also goes well with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
Next weekend, we will be celebrating Mothers Day with my mom since my brother also attends college out of town.  I will be sure to share the other super-cute gifts we got for the moms then!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Simple Sustenance

Since I like to pretend that I people actually are following my blog, I will start this blog with a brief apology.  Life has been quite hectic since my last post, so my Week 15 submission is a little late…
Between me preparing for finals and my husband helping out after hours at the family business (along with various other obligations), our opportunities to cook have been very limited.  That’s why we decided to make an easy and nutritious meal: Bowtie Pasta Salad.


*1 box farfalle pasta
*Approx 6-8 oz. sliced deli roast beef
*8 oz. baby carrots, julienned
*1 large head of broccoli, cut into florets
*1 pkg. shredded mozzarella cheese
*Grated parmesan cheese

Bring water to boil in a pot
Add pasta and cook for 8 minutes then drain
Prepare the vegetables and blanch or steam until tender
Stack the roast beef and cut into ½ inch squares
Spread the roast beef evenly into a greased deep skillet
Cook on medium heat for approximately 5 minutes, stirring frequently
Add the vegetables and cook for approximately 5 more minutes, stirring frequently
Add the pasta and cook for approximately 2 more minutes, stirring frequently
Add the mozzarella and gently fold into the other ingredients a few times (Don’t over mix)
Serve and garnish with parmesan cheese

This is truly one of the simplest “healthy” meals I’ve ever made, and it’s especially good for the hot summer months.  My husband sometimes likes to make this recipe a little bit richer by adding alfredo sauce.
Since this will be my last week of working evenings for the school year, I hope to start cooking dinners more frequently for our little family, but I plan to take advantage of similar quick recipes to allow me to enjoy my nights off with my husband!