Monday, October 31, 2011

Spaghetti Boats

If I am short on time (not even enough time to boil the pasta), I opt for Spaghetti Boats instead of regular spaghetti.  The kids love them and it seems no matter how big the "boats" are, there are rarely leftovers!  (Note down below for variations we often eat as well.)

1 large loaf French or Italian Bread
1 lb ground beef
chopped garlic, onions, peppers, oregano as desired
1 jar favorite spaghetti sauce
2 C shredded cheese (I usually use Colby-Jack or Mozzarella)

Cut the loaf of bread in half, lengthwise and then cut each half into quarters, ending up with 8 "boats".  Set aside on baking sheet.  In skillet or sauce pan brown ground beef and add desired veggies.  Drain fat and add favorite spaghetti sauce.  (Homemade or store bought.)  Mix well, and stir until heated through.  Spoon meat sauce evenly over each bread boat.  Sprinkle with cheese.  Bake in 350 degree oven 10-15 minutes, or until cheese is melted. 

Tip:  I like to line my baking sheet with foil or parchment paper for easier clean-up.

For Sloppy Joe Boats, prepare ground beef as you would for Sloppy Joes and top with shredded cheddar before baking.
For Pizza Boats, use marinara sauce, sausage, pepperoni, etc, and top with a shredded Italian cheese blend.
For Cheeseburger Boats, saute chopped onion with the ground beef and season with a little salt, pepper and some Worcestershire sauce.  Top each with slice of favorite "cheeseburger" cheese (American, Pepper-Jack, Cheddar, Swiss, etc.)  After baking, add ketchup and mustard if desired.

Hope you enjoy these as much as we do!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Easy Pumpkin Swirl Brownies

Martha Stewart showcased some pumpkin brownies once and I've wanted to try them ever since.  However, I do not have all the time in the world like she does, so I came up with my own "quick" method.  Martha says to add a little cayenne pepper as it compliments the pumpkin flavor and really enhances the chocolate.  Well -- I went and forgot all about that, so I did not end up putting cayenne in this batch, but maybe next time.  I am for sure willing to try it.

1 family-size brownie mix (for 9x13 pan)
eggs, oil and water according to package directions

6 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 C pumpkin
6 tbsp sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, optional

Topping: Chocolate chips, nuts, etc. (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly spray 9x13 pan with cooking spray.  In mixing bowl prepare brownie mix according to package directions.  Pour 2/3 batter into bottom of baking pan; set aside.  In separate mixing bowl cream together cream cheese and pumpkin.  Add remaining ingredients; mix well.  Drop by spoonfuls over chocolate layer.  Take remaining chocolate batter and drop over top of pumpkin layer.  Using a butter knife, pull knife through batter, first length-wise and then cross-wise until achieving desired swirl look.  Sprinkle with chocolate chips or chopped nuts if desired.  Bake 40-45 minutes, or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool completely before cutting.  Store leftovers in airtight container.

I know, I know - don't say it.  It looks like a cat crapped all over my brownies.  But seriously, once you smell this pumpkin batter, you will agree these are delish!
My purdy swirl design... 
I added semi-sweet chocolate chips to mine just to add a little more to the presentation, since I was taking it to a party.  
The finished product!  Yummm!