Friday, March 29, 2013

Sausage and Penne Pasta--with Tina Radcliffe

Today, I'd like to welcome Tina Radcliffe to share her Speedbo recipe! Tina, take it away...

Tina's Quick Sausage and Penne Pasta

Happy Friday! This is a quick meal for meat and pasta eating writers.

1 lb. mild Italian Sausage (no casings)
1 lb. Penne pasta
1 jar (24 oz. sauce) (your choice)
1 small onion diced
Olive oil
Grated Cheese ( I love this Romano, Parmesan, Asiago mix)

Brown onion in a tablespoon of olive oil.  Then add sausage. The goal is browned sausage crumbles.

When the sausage is brown add your sauce (you can drain off fat if you like-but I don’t) and reduce heat to simmer. 

Cook pasta according to directions.  Drain. Add your sauce and sausage. Top with cheese and serve.

As you are eating you can read Mending the Doctor’s Heart, my April Love Inspired release. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Easy Chocolate Coconut Nests!

Easy-peasy, I'm tellin' youse.

Here's all you need:

I keep toasted coconut in the freezer all the time. It's so simple, just lay a bag of coconut on a cookie sheet, spread it out, and toast in a 275° (Remember, hold down the "ALT" key and hit 0176 on the number pad to make the "°" symbol!) for about 20 minutes, give or take. I stir it around every five minutes or so. Remove from oven when most of the coconut has turned golden brown and is crisped up.

So for this easy peasy Easter treat:

Melt 2 bags of milk or dark chocolate chips over low heat. I use this method which helps prevent graying... some folks use the microwave. Whatever works for you!  Hershey's milk chocolate chips melt wonderfully with very little chance of graying as long as you melt them s-l-o-w-l-y. Which means you can get other stuff done...

Oh, RANDOM!!!! They're playing Mandisa's "Good Morning!" on K-Love right now and I used that as Lisa's favorite song in "The Lawman's Second Chance"...

 it's such a great song and I love the Toby Mac interlude!  Here's a link if you don't know what I'm talking about:  Mandisa's "Good Morning!"   But then come back here, okay???

Put the first bag of chips in the bowl over a pot of very warm water. When they get soft, toss in the other bag and stir... stir again in a few minutes.... Once they've all "smoothed" (melted) add in about 2 cups of toasted coconut.

Drop by rounded tablespoons onto foil covered cookie sheet. Dip spoon in center to make nest "divet" or hollow. Mary Ruth likes helping Grammy!  :)  (Shamelessly exploiting small children for kitchen labor and to sell sweet books... And I'm okay with all of that, LOL!)

Now we add the bird eggs, aka: Jelly beans. I use smaller ones like they do at Russel Stover because they're SO STINKIN' CUTE!

Put in cool place (not like "hip" cool, or "chic" cool but temperature cool...) to firm up. No refrigeration needed.

Ah, help has arrived! They love the placing little "eggs" part the best!

And this is what they do at Russell Stovers:

You can buy one of these for $.99

We just made 23 of them in about ten minutes time (minus when I toasted the coconut and put it in a double zip-loc freezer bag...)  

For about $5.... Okay, maybe $6.  I buy chocolate chips at Sam's or when they're on sale and this week you can get two bags for $4.... so then $2 for the coconut and handful of jellybeans.

Pretty sweet deal, right?

If you have colored plastic wrap, it's cute to wrap them in it and put a smidge of tape on bottom.

And that's it.


Here's the bane to my diet:

Right here, in person:




Wednesday, March 27, 2013

EASY oven burritos

Hellllloooooo Yankee Belle Cafe!!!


 Okay, focus. So, it's nearly the end of Speedbo and I've turned in my proposal (three weeks early, yay!) but still want to use the last week to get started on a self-pubbing project. So, I'm still cutting corners and NOT cooking gorgeous things like this pretty cheesecake. We're talking SUPER quick, SUPER EASY.

I did make these Snickerdoodles. And my four year old came into the kitchen and asked, "Can I have one of those tasty doodles?" I was confused, since that's our term for, well, you can guess. He kept going, "One of those Cindy men ones, those are the best." Yikes! Snickerdoodles will never be the same now.
Oh, and I guess I did make some home made brownies. They were dark chocolate fudge brownies with espresso flavoring and Edna was jazzed for hours. And I'm weeping into my keyboard becuase I've recently resolved to stop EATING SUGAR. I'm going to die... But I'll die healthy and skinny and possibly very grumpy.
Ok, super easy oven burritos.  Cheese, flour tortillas, canned beans, and green salsa.
Plop in a bowl. I added garlic because it's against my personal moral code to eat anything without it.
Put some beans in the middle. Lay on a few pieces of cheese.
Here's the hard part. Pull sides together, fold in other edges. Flip onto the front, seams down.
Remember we're using what we have? I have kids. They're working.
Some of the household do not enjoy those yummy beans, so here's a cheese version.
Here they are, on the sheet. We're not heading for perfection here, so this is good for me.
350F for 15-20 minutes. Really. You want them nice and crunchy. Ahhhhh.....
Here's mine. Yeah, I added a few things. Like avocados and lettuce and sour cream and some tomatoes and some more green salsa. NOM NOM NOM NOM.
And here's a gratuitous picture of another dish I made before I decided to go sugar-free. It's pineapple cake mix version of pineapple upside down cake. I'd never made them before. Here's the picture of the mini cakes. Edna did a wonderful job but they weren't a hit. Hubby loved them.Everyone else sort of shrugged and passed. I would have rather eaten the pineapple by itself.
So, that's what I've been up to in the kitchen.  I misssssed youuuuuuuuuu!!!!!
 Until next time!


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Bookin' It

Okay, I admit it. I have no post. I haven't cooked all week. Well, at least not anything I haven't already posted about.
I'm sure you can relate. Especially if you're up to your ears in Speedbo.
I'm up to my ears in books. As ACFW's Carol Awards coordinator, I'm all about books this time of year. I mean loads of them. So what's a girl to do?
Hey, it's a classic for a reason. It travels well, though one must have a napkin for those jelly drips.
 What about you? What's your last resort? What drives you to it?
As we round the bend to the finish line of Speedbo, you'll see me in the stands, cheering you on.
You're a lean, mean, writing machine!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Mary Connealy's Hamburger Cornbread Casserole!

Raising four girls on a Nebraska farm, Mary Connealy is a master at coming up with quick, wonderful meals and desserts. Some come from her mother Dorothy Moore, some are from her late mother-in-law Marybelle Connealy, but all are recipes Mary used (and uses!) to take care of things between working her day job and writing the books we all love to read!

Here is her Super Quick casserole for Speedbo ... And any day!

Hamburger Corn Bread Casserole

1 lb. hamburger (browned)
Onions and Green peppers if desired.

2 T. catsup (up here in the far north  we'un's call that Ketchup, Mary. No offense meant, 'course.)
1 t. chili powder
1 t. salt
1 can tomato soup

Mix. Pour into casserole dish. 

Prepare a box of Jiffy Corn Bread Mix. Spread on top.

Bake at 4000 for 25 minutes. This is easy to under-bake, then the cornbread is doughy. That's gross.

(Now you see her gift for writing and presentation, RIGHT???)  :)

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Pepper Basham's Easy Pleasing French Apple Pie!

Well, I'm a dork. Pepper sent this weeks ago and I said: "I'm going to make this and put up pics with it..."



Not only haven't I made it yet, I forgot to post it yesterday. PEPPER, SAY YOU STILL LOVE ME!!!!!

Anyway, here is the Appalachian woman's down home pleasin' favorite and if I can wrangle oven time this weekend, I'll make this bad boy... (although my pie pans are big so I'll double the recipe) and we'll see how it all comes out!

Easy Pleasing French Apple Pie

(Easy and fairly quick...but VERY yummy. Anything with brown sugar and butter in it is bound to be yummy)
I got this recipe from a fabulous cook at our country church back in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mtns of Virginia. I've 'pepper' it up a little bit for my own tastes, but the basics are still the same.
Mix 3/4 cup sugar, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, dash of salt, 1/4 c plain flour, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and a squirt or two of lemon juice into a medium bowl.
Mix with 2-3 sour apples - peeled and cut into small pieces. (I love using HoneyCrisps or Pink Lady apples, but Granny Smiths work well too.
Pour mixture into an uncooked pie crust (I will sometimes use a puff pastry).


In a separate bowl mix together:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter (melted) - I'll sometimes add a teeny bit extra to have more topping :-)
1/2 cup brown sugar

Spread this mixture on top of your apple pie mixture

cover the pie with aluminum foil
Bake at 350 for about 30-45 minutes (or until the apple/brown sugar mixture starts to turn golden brown)

AND HERE IS THE FINISHED PIE AS OF SUNDAY AT 1:44 PM, EDST (for those o' youse who don't get the weird timing, it's Eastern Daylight Savings Time...Something you folks in Arizona and Hawaii don't use...)

Great with vanilla ice cream, of course, and ESPECIALLY if it's homemade vanilla - french or otherwise :-)

Ruthy note:  I always keep pie crust "balls" frozen for quick thaw and use. Most people fuss over making pies because of the crust, not the filling... If you use the recipe I have here for pie crust... and freeze it in four or five equal (kind of!!!) "rounds", then you have individual pie crusts ready to pull out... I then defrost them in the microwave for two minutes at "defrost" setting... and then give them like fifteen minutes or so at room temperature. That way they're perfect to roll out by the time the filling is ready.

SO STINKIN' EASY!!!! My fail-safe, fool-proof (really, I mean that so sincerely, even Connealy could do it, I swear!!!) is HERE

Friday, March 22, 2013

Quickest Salad Ever!

Missy, here. With a quick post. Yes, I'm probably taking the easy way out for a post. But truly, this tip is so very easy, that's it's perfect for Speedbo month!

Would you like a quick, healthy salad?

Well, open a bag of greens (pre-washed is what I use, so it's extra quick).

Pull a box of LeanCuisine Salad Additions out of the freezer and follow the directions. :) Then dump on top of the greens/lettuce. That's it!

Granted, it's a little strange to put warm veggies/fruit on top of the greens. So you may want to let it cool a little. But the flavors are fantastic! I love the dressings. And there are several options. Cranberry and chicken is my favorite. I also love the Asian chicken version.

Since it's LeanCuisine, it's a low calorie option.


Now, back to Speedbo...

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Clari Dees Quick Chicken Parm and Veggies!

Oven-Baked Chicken Parmesan

Hello, Yankee Belle readers. Clari here, waving from the Show-Me state.
I have a confession to make.
Uhm…I am not a cook.
That doesn’t mean I can’t cook.
It means I’d…well…rather not. I also tend to forget that there are real people around that need real food. Unlike fictional people who happily exist on fictional food.
So when my mom—who is an awesome cook—found out that Ruthy had asked me to share a quick and easy recipe during Speedbo month, she did what all loving mothers would do. She laughed.
Not with me. At me.
After I killed off a character in my manuscript for therapy, I pulled out my cookbook (I hear that snickering. Yes, I do have my own cookbook. Tiny, though it may be), and flipped through it for an easy, peasy recipe.
And here it is…dial 555-5555, and in thirty minutes you’ll have a piping hot pizza.
Sorry. I couldn’t resist.
Okay, where was I?
Oh, yes. Easy recipes.
You’ve served Chicken Parmesan in the Cafe before, but this version is a bit simpler and even though I—the non-cook of the family—make it, my siblings will eat it and actually say they like it. So at the risk of being redundant, here you go.

Oven-Baked Chicken Parmesan
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves.
1 egg, slightly beaten
¾ cup Italian seasoned dry bread crumbs
1 jar Ragu Old World Style pasta sauce (or your favorite pasta sauce)
1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese (Or more. We like a lot of cheese on ours.)

Since we feed seven to eight people at our supper table, I doubled the ingredients—which is really easy with this recipe.
Preheat your oven to 400°F.
Dip the chicken in the beaten egg, then in the bread crumbs, coating well.
In a glass baking dish, arrange chicken.

Bake uncovered for 20 minutes.
Pour pasta sauce over the chicken and bake an additional ten minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Top with cheese either right before it comes out of the oven or right after.

You can serve this with pasta if you prefer, but I added a favorite vegetable instead.

Steamed broccoli with lemon-butter sauce. Yum! I like green vegetables so much more since we started adding this citrusy twist.
It’s really easy, too.
Just melt 3 parts butter and 1 part lemon juice together and sprinkle in salt, pepper, and parsley flakes to taste.

(Fresh parsley tastes the best, but dried flakes work well, too.)
Pour the sauce over your steamed veggies and serve.
And presto, the non-cook presents…

It’s so easy, even I can do it.
And no taste-testers were harmed in the process.
Pshew! And now back to writing, where if someone whines about being hungry, I can shove them an imaginary bowl of porridge and they think I’m a gourmet chef.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Mary Connealy's "Best Chocolate Cake on the Planet" Happy Birthday to Me Post!!!

Note From Mary:

I mean it. This is the best chocolate cake on the planet. It's like those volcano cakes you buy at restaurants. Serve hot with scoop of vanilla ice cream. Ruthy note: The art of pushing yourself to word production often needs a hint of decadent food. This recipe is all that and more!
Hot Fudge Pudding Cake

Mix together in bowl:
1 C. flour
¾ C. sugar
2 T. cocoa
2 t. baking powder
¼ t. salt

½ C. milk
2 T. butter (melted)

Pour into ungreased 9 x 9 cake pan. Stir together:
1 C. brown sugar
¼ C. cocoa

Sprinkle that over batter.
Pour over batter:
1 ¾ C. hot water

(Yes it looks awful, but trust me. Pour the water on.)

Bake at 3500 for 45 minutes. Cake on top is done, sauce in bottom isn’t. Its hard to tell if its done. It has to be eaten hot, even microwaved isn’t as good. Serve with ice cream.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Easy Crock Pot Lasagna

Howdy, y'all. Tex here, and I'm back in the saddle after a wayward week of craziness. Then again, that's what spring break is all about. Even when you're the mom, wrangling a passel of kiddos.

But you have writing to get to, you don't want to read about my escapades. By the way, how are you coming on Speedbo? Are you keeping up? Have you surpassed your goals?

Today's recipe is one I stumbled across over a decade ago. Until then, I rarely made lasagna because it was too involved--making the sauce, boiling the noodles...oy! But this recipe is so easy, it's apt to turn lasagna into a frequent dinner guest.

You're going to need:

  • 1 lb. ground beef (you can also use sweet Italian sausage and forgo the seasonings)
  • 1 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
  • salt
  • pepper
  • red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 - 24 ounce (or there abouts) jar spaghetti sauce (I used Ragu garden combination)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 8 lasagna noodles, uncooked
  • 1 - 15 oz container cottage or ricotta cheese
  • 1/4-1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
 Cook beef and Italian seasoning in a large skillet until beef crumbles. I added a pinch of salt, some ground black pepper, and a dash or two of red pepper flakes (I'm looking for flavor, not heat). If you're using sweet Italian sausage, simply remove from the casings (if necessary) and cook until crumbled, no other seasonings needed.

Combine spaghetti sauce and water in a bowl or measuring cup.

Lightly coat the inside of your Crock Pot with cooking spray, then place 4 UNCOOKED--yes, you read that right--noodles in the bottom. Depending on the shape of your pot, you'll likely need to break them a bit to cover the bottom.

Now cover them with half of your meat mixture and half of your sauce mixture. Spread your ricotta or cottage cheese over that. I'm not a fan of ricotta, so I use the cottage cheese. For a little extra flavor, you can stir some freshly grated Parmesan into the cottege cheese before spreading.
Sprinkle with 1 cup of the mozzarella.
Then it's the rest of the noodles, meat, sauce, and the rest of the mozzarella.

Put the lid on and cook on HIGH for 1 hour. Reduce your heat and cook on LOW for 5 more hours.
Just look at the ooey, gooeyness. Add a slice of garlic bread and we're talking heaven.

And what's not to like about that?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Herbed Beef Stew in the Slow Cooker

First of all, my apologies for posting this so late! Blame an unusual Sunday schedule....

This is my husband's favorite beef stew, and I'm so glad it is because it's quick and easy to put together.

I use my slow cooker a lot - there's nothing like being able to put a meal together in the morning while the family is getting around and off to school and work, and then be able to forget about it all day while I zone out in my writer's cave. (A habit left over from homeschooling days, when I'd zone out in academia-land...)

Here's the recipe:

Herbed Beef Stew


1 to 2 pounds beef - I used arm roast this time, but you can use stew beef, round steak, chuck steak...whatever is on sale or in the freezer! - cut into 1 inch cubes

1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika

4 cups beef broth
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 garlic clove
1 bay leaf
4 carrots, sliced
4 medium (or 2 humongous) potatoes, cubed
1 onion, diced

1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon parsley
1 teaspoon marjoram

(if using fresh herbs, double the amount)

Okay, there are a lot of ingredients, but oh, they blend together so well!

Put the flour, salt, pepper and paprika in a plastic bag, or use one of these handy slow-cooker liners (I never use my slow cooker without one of these!)

Add your cubed meat and shake well until all the pieces are coated with flour. Put the meat in the slow cooker.

Add all the other ingredients and stir.

Cook on low for 8-10 hours, or on high for 6-8 hours.

Serve with your favorite salad or fruit and bread.

(Speedbo time: I used refrigerated crescent rolls...)

And now that supper is cooking away in the slow cooker, let's get back to writing!!!

What is your favorite quick meal in your slow cooker?