{Make-Ahead} Unstuffed Shells

I made this for the family a few weeks ago... it was a total HIT!  Super-easy, and made great leftovers, too.  Will definitely be revisiting this recipe again right after the holidays.  :)  (As seen on Kraft.) I like to double this recipe - keep one for us, and share a dish with others!

{Make-Ahead} Unstuffed Shells

total time: 1 hr 15 min
prep time: 30 min
servings: 6

4 c. medium pasta shells, uncooked (2/3 of 16-oz. box)
1 lb. extra-lean ground beef or mild Italian sausage
1+ jar (24-32 oz.) marinara sauce (I like to use Classico Family Favorites - Smooth & Rich Traditional flavor)
1 8-oz. block of cream cheese
1/2 c. sour cream
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
1/3 c. chopped fresh basil
1/4 c. grated or shredded Parmesan cheese
1.5 c. shredded mozzarella cheese 

Cook pasta as directed on package, without salt.
Brown meat in large skillet; drain. 
Stir in marinara sauce; simmer on medium heat for 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
Drain pasta. 
Mix cream cheese, sour cream, garlic, Italian seasoning, basil and Parmesan in large bowl; stir in pasta.
Spray 13x9 baking dish with non-stick spray. 
Spread half the meat sauce onto bottom of the dish; cover with layers of pasta mixture and remaining meat sauce. 
Sprinkle with mozzarella; cover with foil. 

2 options:
  1. BAKE NOW - Heat oven to 375ºF. Cover dish - bake 20 minutes. Uncover dish - bake another 10 minutes.
  2. BAKE LATER - {Refrigerate up to 24 hours.} Heat oven to 375ºF. Cover dish - bake 30 minutes. Uncover dish - bake another 15-20 minutes.

Shopping list if doubling recipe:
  • 2 boxes of medium pasta shells
  • 2 lbs. extra-lean ground beef or mild Italian sausage
  • 3 24-oz. jars Classico Family Favorites - Smooth & Rich Traditional flavor
  • 2 blocks of cream cheese
  • 16 oz. sour cream
  • minced garlic
  • Italian seasoning
  • basil
  • 1/2 c. shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2 bags shredded mozzarella cheese

Pomegranate Salsa

Here's the yummy salsa Mom made at Thanksgiving and at the Rogers Birthday/Christmas Party! 

Pomegranate Salsa

2 pomegranates (peel under water to prevent staining clothes)
2 avocadoes, chopped
2 green onions, chopped
2 tomatoes (I use 4-5 Roma tomatoes--they're not as juicy)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground coriander (I used less than 1 tsp.)
1/4 tsp. ground red pepper (I used less than 1/4 tsp.)

Mix all together and serve with scooped tortilla or corn chips.

Margene's Scalloped Potatoes and Ham

The classic, perfect recipe for your ham leftovers!

Margene's Scalloped Potatoes and Ham

1/2 c. onion, chopped
1/4 c. butter
1/4 c. flour
2 c. milk
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 Tbsp. chopped parsley (1 Tbsp. dried)
1 qt. cubed, cooked potatoes (4 c.)
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese (I use medium cheddar)
1.5-2 c. ham, cubed

Preheat oven to 350 F.
Cook onion in butter until golden and translucent.
Blend in flour. 
Take off heat, so as not to burn. Then put back on stove when adding the milk. 
Gradually add milk to make a white sauce. Heat until it thickens, stirring constantly.  (Make sure it thickens here in the pot, because it won't in the oven later.) 
Add salt, pepper, cheese & parsley. 
Put 2-3 spoonfuls of sauce in a 2-qt casserole dish, then layer 1/2 of the potatoes and 1/2 the ham.  Pour in 1/2 of the remaining sauce, the remaining potatoes and ham, then finish with the rest of the sauce.
Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.  (You may want to protect your oven, it often will boil over.)

Peppermint Bark Popcorn

A friend (that's you, Hayley!) pointed me to this little recipe... and it is beyond delicious!  I made it as part of our Christmas goodies this year, and I'm having to use some serious willpower to stay out of it.  That is, until I'm done typing this post!  One batch makes quite a bit, and it packs and keeps really well... if I wasn't so greedy this year, I'd send some over to the neighbors!  ;)  This yummy treat will definitely be included in our Christmas goodie-making each year to come!  (As seen on Our Best Bites.)

Peppermint Bark Popcorn

16 c. popped popcorn (fresh, or about 2 bags microwave unbuttered, natural/salted popcorn)
1 lb. almond bark
1 6-oz. box candy canes (12-ct.), crushed (about 1 generous c., Bob’s brand are best!)
1/4 tsp. peppermint oil or 2 tsp. peppermint extract*
3/4 c. semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips

* Flavored oils (for candy making) will combine best with the almond bark, if you can find them.  Otherwise, if using extract, the almond bark will seize or go lumpy - just stir quickly and pour quickly on the popcorn.  Once mixed in it will be fine.

Place popcorn in a very large mixing bowl.

Melt almond bark according to package instructions.  (I melted mine on the stove in just a few minutes.)
When completely melted, add extract or peppermint oil. 

Pour the bark mixture over the popcorn and pour crushed candy canes on top.  Stir to evenly coat. 

Spread popcorn mix onto waxed paper to cool.

Melt chocolate chips slowly in the microwave (follow the bag instructions).
Drizzle over popcorn mixture. 
Let mixture dry completely until chocolate and almond bark are hardened. (Close to the end of this process, I packed mine up and put it in the refrigerator to help it solidify faster.)

Once mixture is solid, break it apart into chunks, and enjoy!

Pumpkin Fluff Dip

A friend (thanks, Gena!) told me about this recipe... and it sounded so delicious, I couldn't wait to try it!  While Mom was in town, we whipped it up - it sure didn't disappoint!

Pumpkin Fluff Dip

1 5-oz. pkg. instant vanilla pudding mix
1 15-oz. (small) can solid pack pumpkin
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 16-oz. container Cool Whip

In a large bowl, mix together pudding mix, pumpkin, and spice.
Fold in Cool Whip.
Chill in the refrigerator until serving.

For serving, you can dish it up in a bowl, or for a more festive display, clean out a pie pumpkin and serve it inside the pumpkin.
Serve with graham crackers, Nilla Wafers, apple slices, gingersnaps, etc. for dipping.
Yum, yum!

Chicken Milano

So, my husband is exceptionally talented at finding good recipes on allrecipes.com and recently he found this one. It's very good and pretty easy to make. What could be a better combo!?!

Chicken Milano

1 Tbsp. butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c. sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 c. chicken broth, divided
1 c. heavy cream
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
8 oz. dry fettuccine pasta

In a large saucepan over low heat, melt butter; add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and 3/4 cup of the chicken broth; increase to medium heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes or until the tomatoes are tender. Add the cream and bring to a boil; stirring. Simmer over medium heat until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. In a large skillet over medium heat, warm oil and saute chicken. Press on chicken occasionally with a slotted spatula. Cook for about 4 minutes per side or until the meat feels springy and is no longer pink inside. Transfer to a board; cover and keep warm. Discard the fat from the skillet.

In the same skillet, over medium heat, bring 1/4 cup chicken broth to a boil; stirring the pan juices. Reduce slightly and add to the cream sauce; stir in basil and adjust seasonings to taste.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add fettuccine and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain, transfer to a bowl and toss with 3 to 4 tablespoons of the sauce.

Cut each chicken breast into 2 to 3 diagonal slices. Reheat the sauce gently if needed. Transfer the pasta to serving plates; top with chicken and coat with the cream sauce; serve.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars

It's Fall, y'all!  And for me, that means any and everything PUMPKIN!  I made this yesterday, and it's a keeper.  Try it... you won't regret it.  And, it tastes even better the next day, after the spices and the pumpkin have more time to mingle and get to know each other. (As seen on Everyday Food.)

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars

2 c. flour
1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice *
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 c. sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp. vanilla
1 c. canned pumpkin
1 pkg. (12 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F.
Line bottom and sides of 9x13 pan with foil or parchment paper, with overhang on all sides.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, pie spice(s), baking soda, and salt; set aside.
Cream butter and sugar on medium-high speed with an electric mixer until smooth.
Beat in egg and vanilla until combined.
Beat in pumpkin.
Reduce speed to low, and mix in flour mixture until just combined.
Fold in chocolate chips.
Spread batter evenly in pan.
Bake 35-40 minutes until edges begin to pull away from sides of pan and toothpick test in center yields just a few crumbs.
Cool completely in pan.
Lift cake from pan and cut into squares.

* If you can't find pumpkin pie spice, substitute the following ground spices:  1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 3/4 tsp. ginger, 1/2 tsp. nutmeg, 1/2 tsp. allspice, and 1/2 tsp. cloves.

Fruit Pizza

As requested by Aimee (only 2 months later!)

Fruit Pizza

For the Crust:
1-2 pkg. Sugar Cookie Dough (any kind, the amount you use will depend on the size of your pizza pan)

For the Sauce:
4 oz. Cream Cheese (softened)
1/2 tub/jar Marshmallow Whip
1 Tbsp. Sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla

Any fresh fruit you want. I usually like strawberries, blueberries and kiwi.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Press the cookie dough into a standard sized pizza pan and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the cookie is lightly browned. Let the "crust" cool completely.

In a mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese, marshmallow whip, sugar and vanilla and mix until smooth. If mixture seems too thick, 1-2 tsp. of milk can be added to thin it. Once the cookie crust is cool, spread the cream cheese mix evenly over the cookie and top with fresh fruit.

Tip: I have found it easier to serve the pizza if you cut the cookie crust before the sauce or fruit goes on top. Enjoy!

Everything Cookies

I made these cookies a couple of weeks ago... the recipe is a conglomeration of 5-6 different "monster" cookies I found online.  We really enjoyed these cookies - even took some to the neighbors... they're still talking to us, so the cookies must have been good to them, too!

Everything Cookies

2 sticks (1/2 lb.) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 c. white sugar
1.5 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
1 Tbsp. vanilla
1.5 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1.5 c. oats
3/4 c. M&Ms
1 c. chocolate chips (I mixed milk & semi-sweet)
1/2 c. peanut butter chips
2.5 c. Rice Krispies

Preheat oven to 375F.

Cream butter and sugars until fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well.  Add vanilla and beat.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Add to butter mixture and mix until combined.

Add in remaining ingredients - oats, M&Ms, chocolate and peanut butter chips.

Add Rice Krispies last, and mix only until just combined.  Be careful to not overmix.

Use a cookie scoop to create balls of dough for the cookie sheet.  Bake about 10 minutes, until golden brown, and then cool them on a rack.

Makes ~5 dozen.


I've spent the last several weeks casually re-working the blog, and it's done.  :)

I hope you like it!

I have several new recipes that I'm excited to add here... hopefully in the next week or so.  And, I know that Emily has a delicious fruit pizza recipe to share, too {hint, hint}.  ;)

If you'd like a new button, please copy and paste the code below to your blog.

Rogers Family Recipes

Thanks for reading!

Blueberry Crisp

I decided to include this recipe on the blog, even though it's identical to the previously posted Apple Crisp recipe, this is likely the only way I will remember that it's equally delicious with blueberries instead!  Such a simple recipe, I promise you can't mess it up!  Originally by Betty Crocker.

Blueberry Crisp

Prep Time: 20 min
Total Time: 50 min
Makes: 6 servings 

2 pints fresh (rinsed and drained) or 4 c. frozen (thawed and drained) blueberries
3/4 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. quick-cooking or old-fashioned oats
1/3 c. butter or margarine, softened
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
Cream or ice cream, if desired

Heat oven to 375ºF.
Grease bottom and sides of 8-inch square pan with shortening.
Spread blueberries in pan.
In medium bowl, stir remaining ingredients (except cream/ice cream) until well mixed; sprinkle over blueberries.
Bake about 30 minutes or until topping is golden brown and blueberries are tender when pierced with a fork.
Serve warm with cream/ice cream.

Simple Chocolate Mousse Pie

If I had a dollar for every time Brian requested chocolate mousse for a special dessert, I'd be a rich woman!  I've made this yummy and simple recipe before, and will be making it again for Father's Day this year.  (As seen on Kraft Foods.)

Simple Chocolate Mousse Pie

1 pkg. (8 squares) Baker’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate
1/4 c. milk
2 tsp. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tub (8 oz.) Cool Whip Whipped Topping, thawed
1 Oreo Pie Crust (6 oz.) (or graham cracker crust)

Microwave chocolate and milk in large microwaveable bowl on HIGH 2 minutes.
Stir until chocolate is completely melted.
Cool 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add sugar and vanilla to Cool Whip; stir until well blended.
Stir half into chocolate mixture.
Add remaining Cool Whip mixture; mix lightly.
Spoon into crust.

Refrigerate 4 hours.

Sour Cream Noodle Bake

In my opinion, you can never go wrong choosing a Pioneer Woman recipe for dinner.  I spotted this winner last week, and we had it the other night.  We will definitely be having it again... YUM!  Below is my version (slightly tweaked) of Pioneer Woman's delicious recipe...

Sour Cream Noodle Bake

Prep Time:  15 minutes
Bake Time:  20 minutes
Serves:  6-8

1 lb. ground beef
1 15-oz. can tomato sauce
1/2 tsp. salt
freshly ground black pepper
8 oz. egg noodles
1 c. sour cream
1 c. small curd cottage cheese
1/3 c. sliced green onions (less to taste)
1 c. grated sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Brown beef in a large skillet.
Drain fat, then add tomato sauce, salt, and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. 
Stir, then simmer while you prepare the other ingredients.

Cook egg noodles until al dente; drain and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine sour cream and cottage cheese. 
Add plenty of freshly ground black pepper and the green onions; stir. 
Add mixture to noodles and stir.

To assemble, layer the ingredients in a 13x9 baking dish in the following way:
          1/2 of the noodles
          1/2 of the meat mixture
          1/2 of the cheese
          and repeat.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until all cheese is melted.

Chicken with Basil and Cream Sauce

This recipe card references verybestbaby.com/recipes but the link takes you to Gerber and I can't find any recipes like it really so whatever...I guess the credit goes to me! ;) This was tasty, although unlike the picture on my recipe card, the chicken isn't crispy. If you like that (which Dan suggested for next time I make this) then maybe if you bake it longer or at a higher temp? Not sure, let me know if you go that route and what ends up working.

Chicken with Basil and Cream Sauce

1/4 c. fine dry bread crumbs (I just used regular)
3 tsp. fresh basil or 3/4 tsp. dried basil, crushed, divided
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1/8 tsp. paprika
1 Tbsp. melted butter or margarine
4 (about 1.25 lbs. total) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
2/3 c. (5 fl. oz. can) evaporated milk (fat free is listed in the recipe)
2 tsp. all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. reduced sodium chicken flavor instant bouillon (I just used 1 cube)

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Combine bread crumbs, 2 tsp. fresh basil or 1/2 tsp. dried basil, pepper, and paprika in small bowl.
Add butter; toss to coat.
Arrange chicken in 2 qt rectangular baking dish.
Sprinkle chicken with crumb mixture, pressing onto chicken to coat.
Bake for 20-25 min or until chicken is no longer pink in center. 

Meanwhile, combine evaporated milk, flour, and bouillon in small saucepan; stir well.
Cook over med-high heat, stirring frequently, until thickened and bubbly.
Cook and stir for 1 min more.
Stir in remaining basil.
Serve over chicken.

Makes 4 servings.

BBQ Chicken Salad with Creamy BBQ Cilantro Lime Dressing

I got this recipe from Mel's Kitchen Cafe. My modifications are in *red. I really liked this even though I had doubts about the dressing when I finger tasted it. Dan despises mayonnaise or anything like it, so he didn't really enjoy it. But Dad tried it all and said he liked it, so I consider it a winner!

BBQ Chicken Salad with Creamy BBQ Cilantro Lime Dressing

Creamy BBQ Cilantro Lime Dressing

1 c. mayonnaise, light or regular *I used light Miracle Whip
1/3 c. milk
1/3 c. buttermilk *I just used whole milk here, I’m sure you could just use 2/3 c. milk total
2 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. lime juice
1 tsp. white vinegar
1 tsp. granulated sugar
1 garlic clove, finely minced *I used the bottle stuff – 1 tsp. I think?
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper *I just did ¼ tsp. black pepper
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 to 1/2 c. BBQ sauce *I did the full ½ c.

Combine all the ingredients together and whisk (or shake, if using a jar) vigorously to combine. You could also run this through a blender to make it even more smooth. *I used my hand blender. 
Refrigerate until ready to serve.

BBQ Chicken Salad

*Note: this recipe calls for already cooked chicken so plan ahead! I like to cook my chicken in the crockpot, using frozen chicken breasts and about 1 cup of chicken broth for every 2 chicken breasts. I cook on low for about 4-5 hours and then shred and refrigerate (or freeze) for later.

3 c. cooked, shredded chicken
2 c. BBQ sauce
1/2 head iceberg lettuce, cored and chopped
2 romaine hearts, chopped
1/2 red onion diced
1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro
1.5 c. frozen corn, thawed
1 can (15 oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained
4 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, cubed small or shredded
4 oz. Monterey jack cheese, cubed small or shredded

Combine the cooked chicken and BBQ sauce in a medium bowl.
Refrigerate until ready to use.

In a large bowl, toss together the iceberg lettuce, romaine lettuce, red onion, cilantro, corn, black beans and cheese.
Toss the mixed salad with about 1/4 to 1/2 c. of the dressing, if desired. Otherwise, you can serve the dressing on the side.
Place salad on plates and top with the prepared BBQ chicken and additional dressing.

Serves 4-6.

Pickle Roll-Ups

I had a co-worker who used to bring these in all the time... I wanted to remember them for the next time I'm serving appetizers.  So yummy!
I'm posting it as she described, but I'm sure other brands/types can be substituted for the same effect.

Pickle Roll-Ups

1 package thick cut, rectangle shaped ham
1 jar Clausen dill pickles
1 brick softened cream cheese

Pat dry the ham and pickle with a paper towel.  
Spread softened cream cheese over ham. 
Roll the pickle in the ham. 
Lay seam side down in dish and refrigerate overnight. 
In the morning, put in the toothpicks and cut each ''log'' into pieces, 1 toothpick per piece.

Pan-Seared Chicken with Clementine Salsa

Mom and Dad both say this is really, really good!

Pan-Seared Chicken with Clementine Salsa

2 clementines or 1 navel orange
1 medium tomato
1/4 c. chopped red onion
1 handful fresh cilantro
2 lg. boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 12 oz. each)
1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper
1/2 Tbsp. olive oil

Peel and chop clementines; place in a small bowl. 
Chop tomato and add to bowl, along with onion. 
Discard cilantro stems; coarsely chop leaves and add to bowl. 
Toss well and let set at room temperature. 

With a sharp knife, carefully cut each chicken breast in half through its middle (thickness-wise) to get four thin cutlets.
Season with salt and pepper. 

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. 
Cook chicken 4 minutes per side. 
Let rest 5 minutes before slicing and serving with the salsa.

Prep time: 25 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4

Per serving: 200 calories

Served it with Rice-A-Roni.

Chicken Breast with Honey-Balsamic Glaze

We had this last week for the first time... so yummy, fast and easy!  We'll definitely be having it again.  I adapted it from a Weight Watchers recipe I found online a few years ago.

Chicken Breast with Honey-Balsamic Glaze

3/4 tsp. ground thyme (or 1 1/2  tsp. dried thyme)
1 tsp. Trader Joe's 21-Seasoning Salute (optional)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breast (cut into tender-sized pieces)
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar (1 oz.)
2 Tbsp. honey (1 oz.)

Combine the first 4 ingredients.
Sprinkle over both sides of chicken.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
Add chicken, cook 7-8 minutes on each side, or until chicken is done.

Transfer chicken to a platter; keep warm.
Reduce heat to medium-low; add vinegar and honey to pan.
Simmer 1 minute or until glaze thickens; stir constantly.

Pour glaze over chicken.

This goes great over white or brown rice, paired with a green vegetable, and a fruit salad.

Holiday Stove Top Potpourri

Loved having this going over the last couple of holiday weeks!  Had a pot around Christmas, and made a new one up for New Year's.  Beats a perfume-y candle, hands down.  
(Adapted from Under the Table and Dreaming and Make It Do.)

Holiday Stove Top Potpourri

1 orange
1 lemon
1/2 c. fresh cranberries
1 Tbsp. whole cloves
3 sticks of cinnamon
Dash of ground cloves (optional)
Dash of ground cinnamon (optional)

Slice the orange and lemon.
Put all the ingredients into a saucepan and fill the pan with water.
Place on stove on smallest burner, on the lowest setting.
Refill water as needed.

This mix should be good for an entire week.  I only needed mine to last a few days each time, and I would just top it off with water in the morning, before turning on the stove.  (At night, I just covered the pot with its lid.)
Also, this mix makes easy and cheap gifts for others!  Just package up a batch and attach the instructions.
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