Pizza Buns

I love these.  One thing I have been really focusing on this past school year is cutting out as many processed foods in our house as I can.  I found this recipe, and I knew I needed to try it.  One, it looked like something I could hide some veggies in.  Two, they claim they freeze great. (My kids ate SO many this first go around that I didn’t have any to freeze – that good people.)  Three, they looked easy enough.  I went with the original recipe this first time just to make sure my kiddos liked them.  Next up, pureed veggies in the sauce!


  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (105-115)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3-4 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour

In a bowl, combine the water, sugar, and yeast.  Let stand for about 10 minutes.

Add salt and stir.  Add half your flour and mix well.  Gradually add more flour until the dough pulls away from the edges of the bowl when mixing and it isn’t sticky.  Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, voce, and let rise for 45 minutes or until double in size.  Remove dough from bowl.  Separate into three equal parts.

Prepare your pizza ingredients.  This time around I just used bacon and cheese.  I will be creative the next time!

Take one portion of the dough and roll out on a lightly greased surface.  Roll into a long skinny rectangle.  Once rolled, spread pizza sauce over the dough leaving the very edge of one of the long sides free so it will seal when rolled up.  Layer meat, cheese, and other toppings.  Begin rolling up starting at the long side where the sauce is to the edge.  Pinch edges to seal.  Now slice off equal sized rolls.

Place rolls in a greased baking dish.  Cover and allow buns to rise 30 minutes.  Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.

Pureed veggies are definitely being mixed with my pizza sauce next time.  The kids won’t notice at all!  My kids love cold pizza so I could see these in their lunches next school year!

Creamy Celery Beef Stroganoff

Hi everyone!  After yet another move, I’m back in the land of fixing meals and having a kitchen!  This is such a great crockpot meal. I had completely forgotten about this recipe until my sister mentioned she fixes it all the time!  This is great for those busy weeknights that are full of sports practices!

2 lbs beef stew meat – cut into 1 inch cubes

Can of cream of celery soup

Can of cream  of mushroom soup

Medium onion, chopped

2 cans mushrooms, drained

1 envelope onion soup mix

1/2 tsp pepper

1 cup sour cream

Cooked noodles

In a crockpot, combine the first 7 ingredients. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours. Stir in sour cream. Serve over noodles. So so good. Great with the 7-up biscuits on here, too!

Hot Chip Beef Dip

My mom made this over the holidays and I remember liking it.  I made it last night for bunco.  Even better than I remember!  It was a HUGE hit.  I just put it in my mini crock pot and it was perfect.

8 oz cream cheese
8 oz sour cream
small can mushrooms, drained and diced (Nic – just pretend that says fresh mushrooms 🙂
2.25 oz jar of dried beef, diced (I bought a jar where it was sliced and then I diced it)
1/2 onion, diced

I diced the onion and put it in a microwave safe bowl with a tiny bit of water for about a minute to soften the onion.  Drain and place in crockpot with cream cheese, sour cream, diced mushrooms, and diced beef.  Serve with small pieces of french bread.  So.  Good.  Can’t wait to eat the leftovers 🙂

Chopped Dinner: Take 4

Whew…this challenge is finally over! No more creative cooking for a little while 🙂

Dinner #4 in the Chopped challenge was Matt’s. His list was longer (because he was the oldest? I dunno.) but overall, pretty easy to work with AND gave me the excuse to try three new recipes!

Ok, so Matt’s ingredient list (which I accidentally leaked for those of you with eagle eyes last week!) was this:

So for the brie, I made these little Baked Brie Bites that were in puff pastry. Simple to make, and they were ok, but I think that Matt and I both prefer to eat brie bites the way I’ve made them in the past, which is these little brie cups. I’m thinking next time I make those for company, I’ll make some with pepper jelly and some with sweet jelly. I just used what I had on hand, which was strawberry jam, and the flavor was good, but so much jam baked out of the inside even though I felt like I sealed them well that the flavor was lost.

However, Luke and Jack Henry loved them and ate a few each, and Bennett had one and thought it was fine.

Moving on to dinner, which was Crash Hot Sweet Potatoes and Garlic Gorgonzola Steak. Oh. My. Goodness. Some of the best food I think I’ve ever made.

I’m not a huge sweet potato fan…not something I’d usually crave, but these were amazing (for the kids, I just used salt and pepper instead of the spice blend). Follow her instructions and you will not be disappointed. I did parboil the potatoes even though mine were fresh, but then they accidentally got left boiling too long when Jack Henry wandered into the kitchen with a fake sore throat and I was distracted away from my job for 5 minutes. Look at this pic compared to the original, and you’ll see what I mean…they fell apart but it mattered not…they were delicious.

The only change I’ll make is cutting my slices of sweet potatoes slightly smaller, about an inch tall. And I substituted regular chile powder for New Mexico chile powder…I don’t know the difference, but I’m thinking it can’t matter much in this recipe. And for the sake of using cashews in dinner per the Chopped list, I chopped them up finely and put the on each side of the potatoes with the spices. But, it really didn’t add anything, and I won’t do it again. (Bennett, however, was elated to see a can of cashews and put those on his plate instead.)

On to the steak. I did not buy ribeye as Matt requested; I got strip steaks, because I found a huge package of them on sale and they were better than ribeye, so I figured he wouldn’t complain. Plus, we almost never grill steaks, and we truly NEVER share with our kids, so this was a special dinner. Luke likes steak; the other two are fine with it, but seriously they’d rather have chicken or a hot dog, so it pains me to hear “how many bites of this do I have to eat?”

I seasoned all of the steaks as recommended in the recipe: rubbing a cut garlic clove over the steaks, drizzling with a tiny bit of oil (I used olive oil), and then sprinkling generously with salt and pepper. Next time, I’ll skip rubbing a garlic clove on them…for me, at least, it did nothing to give garlic flavor. I’ll use garlic salt and black pepper and omit the regular salt so we actually get some garlic flavor.

After that, Matt grilled them to close to medium for me, and as soon as he got them inside, I melted a very small amount of butter on each, and put gorgonzola on Matt’s and my steak and covered them with foil for a few minutes to help the cheese melt. It was recommended that you do this step ON the grill, but it was already dark out, and I was picturing it being too much hassle with falling cheese, etc. Know, though, that tenting foil over the steak will make it continue to cook, so that you don’t accidentally overcook your steaks.

Anyway, it worked for us to put the toppings on inside, off the grill. I topped the gorgonzola ones with the french fried onions, and that was it. Seriously, one of the best steaks I’ve ever had.

The leftovers tonight were great, too.

So there you have it! The kids commented that I didn’t get Chopped on any of my meals, so we need to do something harder next time.

Mini Phyllo Tacos

These are meant to be an appetizer, but we made a meal out of them.  I served mexican rice with them and it was plenty of food.  They would be great as an appetizer also!

1 pound lean ground beef
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 envelope taco seasoning
3/4 cup water
1 1/4 cups shredded mexican cheese blend, divided
2 packages (1.9 oz each) frozen miniature phyllo tart shells

Cook beef and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain.  Stir in taco seasoning and water.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered for 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat; stir in 1/2 cup cheese blend.

Place tart shells in an ungreased 15×10 baking pan.  Fill with taco mixture.

Bake at 350 for 6 minutes.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese blend; bake 2-3 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.

Smashed Meatball Sandwiches

A while back I made a GIANT batch of these meatballs (I’m talking 3+ pounds), taking some to a friend and making extra to stick in the freezer.

After I rolled about a million meatballs, but before I started stuffing them with cheese, I thought about cooking some up for sandwiches. And a round meatball on a sandwich + a kid = huge mess, so I got the idea to smash them down a bit.

So here’s how it all goes:

1 lb. lean ground beef (or turkey or chicken)
1/2 cup Italian seasoned dry bread crumbs (I use Panko)
1 egg
spaghetti sauce
cheese slices

Mix the first 3 ingredients together well and roll into a dozen or so meatballs.

Put in a non-stick skillet…no need for oil or anything, even with extra lean ground beef (with ground turkey or chicken you will probably need just a little bit to keep them from sticking). Let them cook over medium heat for a few minutes as a whole meatball, and just before flipping them over, smash them down a little. Flip, cook through, and remove from heat. Heat some spaghetti sauce and pour over the meatballs (if you just put the sauce in the pan you’ve just used, it’s going to pop and splatter a lot, so be ready for a mess if you go that route).

Serve on rolls – whatever you prefer, but they are best when toasted on a griddle for a few minutes – and add a slice of provolone or mozzarella.

Because I froze these and was making an original batch of the meatballs for us, too, I used some of the sauce from that pan to put over the smashed meatballs and froze them that way.

These were really good…Luke devoured, and the other 2 ate moderately well, especially when I described them more as tiny burgers instead of meatballs!

Mini Lasagna Cups

When I spied these floating around Pinterest, I knew I had to try them!

Original here (lots o’ great recipes on this site!). I made a few small changes, noted here in the recipe.

1 lb lean ground beef
1 lb sausage
1 jar of spaghetti sauce (I like Ragu Sweet Tomato and Basil)
1/2 – 3/4 cup pureed carrots (I didn’t do this, but I will next time…it will be undetectable)
1 1/2 cups part skim ricotta cheese OR cottage cheese (next time I’m using cottage cheese)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
24 wonton wrappers
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (I used shredded Italian blend)
3 slices provolone cheese (optional – you can just use shredded on both layers, but I’m obsessed with provolone and always have it in the house, so I used some in the first layer)

Preheat oven to 375.

Brown the meat together in a pan and drain well. Mix in the jar of spaghetti sauce, and divide into 3 portions. Freeze 2 of the portions for dinner another night.

In a large bowl, combine the ricotta or cottage cheese with the salt and pepper.

Coat a 12 cup muffin tin with cooking spray (I like to use a Misto with olive oil), and arrange a wonton wrapper in each cup. Take half the ricotta mixture and divide it among the 12 cups. Top with half of the meat sauce, and a 1/4 of a slice of provolone cheese. Place another wonton wrapper over the cheese, and repeat the layers by adding the remaining ricotta cheese, meat sauce, and top with shredded cheese (because I used provolone on the first layer, I only used about 3/4 cup on the top of these).

Bake at 375 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes until the cheese is melted and the wonton wrappers are golden. Cool in the muffin tin for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Makes 12 mini lasagnas.

The kids each ate one; surprisingly, Bennett, our best eater, wasn’t a big fan. Jack Henry did ok, and Luke devoured his but didn’t ask for more. And we still had 4 leftover, which will make a great lunch for Matt and me tomorrow! I really liked this. Much simpler than a pan of lasagna, and just kinda different and fun. We’ll be making them again!

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