Saturday, February 18, 2012

Best (and easiest) Caesar Salad Ever!

Yes, I know...this may seem too easy and basic to even bother posting the recipe. However, this is probably my most requested recipe of ALL TIME!!

When my kids were little, and I was trying to get them to eat salad ("eat your veggies"), I found this combination - and it worked! They loved and devoured Caesar salad (as long as it was made with these ingredients), and so we had it for dinner quite often. The mistake I made was not trying other salad recipes - they ate this one, and I kept making it! So, while my kids ate MY salad, they usually wouldn't touch any other salad. :) I have long since decided to accept that as a compliment and move on. Now, they are teenagers, and will eat almost anything - so I guess it all works out in the end. And, they do eat their veggies - especially if they come in the form of Caesar Salad!!

Here's the recipe:
**chopped romaine lettuce
**grated parmesan cheese - the cheap kind in the plastic bottle, not the fancy shredded stuff.
**croutons - My family loves Chatham Village Garlic and Butter large cut croutons, but I recently learned that Marzetti's is the same company with the same recipes. A special treat is Olivia's Parmesan Pepper croutons.
**dressing - there is no other option but Cardini's Original Caesar Dressing!! If you don't do this right, then it's not my Caesar salad recipe!

Put it all in a bowl and toss - use amounts to your taste, but use more parmesan cheese than you might think. To serve 4, I probably use about 1/4 cup or maybe even more parmesan cheese. You want enough dressing that the lettuce isn't dry, but not so much that it's dripping! Next time I make it, I'll try to get some better measurements and post them so you won't have to guess.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Triple Cheesy Super Creamy Baked Ziti

Our family loves Italian food! This is definitely a family favorite - better than most Italian restaurant dishes! There is nothing else to say about it, except you have to try it! Oh, and did I mention that it's super easy to make...

1 pound dry ziti pasta
1 finely chopped onion
1 lb ground beef
2 (26 ounce) jars spaghetti sauce (my favorite is Ragu Parmesan Romano)
8 slices of provolone cheese
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta, and cook about 8-9 minutes; drain.
2. In a large skillet, brown onion and ground beef over medium heat. Add spaghetti sauce, heat through, then remove from heat.
3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat 9x13 inch baking dish with cooking oil spray.
4. Layer as follows: 1/2 of the ziti, 1/2 of the sauce, Provolone cheese, sour cream, remaining ziti, remaining sauce, mozzarella cheese. Top with grated Parmesan cheese.
5. Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until cheeses are melted. I recommend that you cover with foil for the first 15-20 minutes of baking, then remove foil so the cheese will melt and the top will be perfectly browned!

*NOTE - this is a great dish to make ahead and bake when needed. From the refrigerator, it usually needs an additional 15 minutes of cooking time.