Mary Costa-Pearson
Occasionally I get the Kraft Food and Family magazines. They are always filled with lots of easy recipes that are friendly on the budget. Last week when I got them I gave them to my husband and asked him to mark each one that looked good to him. That way I could make a few new things and then if he didn't like them, it wasn't my fault since I didn't choose which ones to try lol. Tonight I made the Enchilada Casserole. It was really fast and easy. All the ingredients listed of course are kraft products but you don't have to use the brands listed. I wish I had used a different salsa though since what I used was a bit spicy. They younger 2 kids still ate it but even Peyton said it was spicy and out of the 3 she likes spicy the most.
The rice recipe I tried was so so. It was super easy but there was just something missing. Couldn't quite put my finger on it. I used whole wheat rice, maybe that was it. If you try them let me know what you think.

Layered Enchilada Bake
what you need:
1 lb ground beef
1 large onion (I only used half and chopped it finely in the food processor)
2 Cups Taco Bell home originals thick and chunky salsa
1 can of black beans rinsed and drained 
1/4 cup zesty italian dressing
2 tbsp taco bell taco seasoning mix
6 flour tortillias
1 cup sour cream
1 8oz pkg of mexican four cheese shredded cheese

How to make it:
Heat oven to 400 degrees, Brown meat with onions in large skillet (I also added 2 cloves of garlic while I was chopping the onion) on medium high heat, drain- stir in salsa, beans dressing and seasoning mix
Arrange 3 tortillas on bottom of a 13x9 baking dish; cover with layers of half each meat mixture, sour cream and cheese repeat layers and cover with foil. ( I spread the sour cream over the tortillas before the meat mixture it seemed to work better) 
Bake for 40 min or until casserole is heated through and cheese is melted, uncovering after 30min. Let stand 5 minutes before cutting to serve.
Special extra: garnish with shredded lettuce chopped tomatoes and cilantro if desired.

Easy Spanish Rice
For every 2 cups of cooked instant rice stir in 1/2 up of shredded cheddar cheese, 1/4 cup of thick and chunky salsa and 2 tbsp sour cream. heat through
Mary Costa-Pearson

I have a sad addiction to cooking/baking blogs. Every morning while drinking my coffee I check all my favorite blogs. I have been saving several recipes here and there mostly and sadly all sweets, which is another addiction lol I ran across this recipe yesterday and thought I would try it out, seemed pretty simple, and it was.  I found this recipe on
4 chicken breasts
1 packet dry Zesty Italian dressing (Regular is fine but I like zesty better. Sometimes I use a packet and a half.)
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
1-2 cans cream of mushroom soup (depending how cream cheesy you want it)

Place the chicken in a crock pot and sprinkle Italian dressing over it. Combine cream cheese and cream of mushroom soup in a small pot over low heat and pour over chicken. Cook on low for at least 4 hours. You can leave it in there all day. If you feel the sauce is too thick you can thin it to your preferred consistency with a little milk. Serve over pasta or rice.
*I used one can cream of mushroom and one can of chicken mushroom. I cooked a 14.5 oz box of Penne Pasta once the chicken was done cooking I took the chicken out, cut it up in bite sized pieces put it back in the sauce and once the pasta was done I tossed it all together. The kids really liked it and scarfed it down quickly (that could have been just so that they could go back outside) I also browned the chicken in my cast iron skillet with a bit of olive oil before I added it to the crock pot 
Mary Costa-Pearson
I have been neglecting my poor blog. Im not sure how many actually read my blog, so maybe nobody noticed? lol I have been in a crazy lazy cooking rut. I have not been trying much of anything new, I have been doing lots of easy, whatever is on hand and fast meals. Nothing worth blogging about that is for sure! I will share 3 recipes with you to make up for the neglect.
The first one I found on it is one of my favorite blogs. Its called walking tacos. Basically your putting all your taco goodies in snack sized frito bags, which is such a great idea, no dirty dishes! I couldn't find enough small bags for superbowl Sunday so I just bought the big frito scoops and served them with the taco chili. I made way more than needed so I froze the leftovers and it froze really well.

Walking Tacos

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

6-8 little sweet peppers or 1 green and 1 red bell pepper, chopped

4 cloves fresh garlic, minced

1 lb lean ground beef

Pinch of kosher salt and black pepper

2 cans diced tomatoes

1 Cup Herdez Salsa or your favorite salsa

1 small can tomato paste

1 Cup warm water

3 cans of beans, drained (I used black, pinto and red kidney)

1 can black olives sliced

2 Tablespoons chili powder

1 Tablespoon ground cumin

1 Tablespoon hot sauce, Tabasco

1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice

Pinch of Kosher salt, fresh cracked black pepper and Lawry’s Garlic Salt with Parsley (to taste)


Bags of Fritos

Shredded cheddar cheese

Sour cream

Jalapenos, or green onions

1.  Heat oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat.  Saute onion and peppers for 5 minutes or until softened.  Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Add ground beef, salt and pepper.  Cook until browned.  Drain if needed.  I usually don’t need to for the lean beef.  Pour in tomatoes, salsa, tomato paste then stir to combine.  Add 1 Cup warm water to thin out slightly then add in beans, olives, chili powder, cumin, hot sauce, lime juice, salt, pepper and garlic salt.  I start with just a pinch of salt then keep tasting until it’s to my liking.  Add chopped cilantro and reduce heat to low to simmer until ready to serve.

2.  Open bags of fritos.  Spoon in chili, cheese, sour cream and jalapenos.  Stick a fork in it and eat!!

The next recipe my friend Robin shared with me. I believe she found it on I have never made beans with ham before but had 2 ham bones saved in my freezer and wanted to give it a shot. Over the weekend I took everything i needed to make it over to my moms and made them dinner. I think they were pretty good for my first attempt. It was really easy and pretty much fool proof.


  • 1 pound dry pinto beans
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 large, meaty ham hock
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste


  1. Place the beans and water in a large stockpot. Add the ham hock, onion and garlic. Season with chili powder, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, and cook for 2 minutes. Cover, and remove from heat. Let stand for one hour.
  2. Return the pot to the heat, and bring to a boil once again. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for at least 3 hours to blend flavors. The longer you simmer, the thicker the broth will become. I like to cook mine for about 6 hours.
  3. Remove the ham hock from the broth, and let cool. Remove the meat from the bone, and return the meat to the stockpot, discarding the bone. Adjust seasonings to taste.

I made fast and easy biscuits to go with them. I never get the amount they say out of one batch of dough so I always double it and end up with 14-16. I also found this one of

  • 2 1/4 cups self-rising flour
  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 1 cup milk


  1. Combine and mix ingredients together. Pour out on floured waxed paper. Pat the dough out with your hands until dough is not sticky (add a little flour if necessary). Fold double. Cut biscuits with a biscuit cutter.
  2. Bake on a cookie sheet at 425 degrees F (220 degrees C) for 20-25 minutes.

Mary Costa-Pearson

Over the Top Brownies
Cookie Base
1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker® double chocolate chunk cookie mix
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons water
1 egg
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 tablespoons Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (6 oz)
1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows (Next time I’m doing 2 cups)
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/8 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
2 ½ tablespoons milk
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1. Heat oven to 350°F. Spray bottom and sides of 13×9-inch pan with cooking spray. (I line my pan with foil then spray with cooking spray. This way it’s easier to get the brownies out of the pan and cut into squares)
2. In large bowl, stir cookie base ingredients until soft dough forms. Press dough in bottom of pan. Set aside.
3. In large bowl, beat cream cheese, granulated sugar, 1/4 cup butter, the flour, 1 teaspoon vanilla and the egg with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Stir in 1/4 cup pecans. Spread over cookie dough base. Sprinkle with chocolate chips.
4. Bake 26 to 28 minutes or until filling is set. Sprinkle evenly with marshmallows. Bake 2 minutes longer. Cool for 30 minutes on a cooling rack.
5. In 2-quart saucepan, melt 1/4 cup butter over medium heat. Stir in cocoa and milk. Heat until starts to thicken. Remove from heat. With wire whisk, gradually stir in powdered sugar until well blended. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and 1/2 cup pecans. Immediately drizzle icing over brownies.
6. Refrigerate about 2 hours or until chilled. For bars, cut into 6 rows by 4 rows. Store covered in refrigerator.
***Instead of just baking the marshmallows I left the dish in the middle of the oven, and turned the broiler on high and cooked until they started to brown, about 3-4 min
Mary Costa-Pearson
Days like today soup just seems like the best dinner. And I needed something quick and easy. This recipe is super fast and easy. And tasty! My husband likes tomatoes but doesn't like them cooked and chunky in things, SO I take the time to drag out the food processor and I blend up the tomatoes. I added the ranch and taco seasoning to the tomatoes to cut out one step. I think I actually like it better this way makes the soup a bit saucier. I made mine with deerburger since I had some left over from flat bread taco's last night.
Taco Soup
1 lb. chopped chicken, roast beef or ground beef 
1 onion, chopped
1 (16 oz.) can kidney beans, with liquid
1 (16 oz.) can white beans, with liquid
1 (16 oz.) can pinto beans, with liquid (I didn’t have these so I used black beans)
1 (16 oz.) can corn, with liquid
1 can Ro-tel tomatoes with chilies and liquid
1 (16 oz.) can stewed tomatoes, with liquid (I used a can of crushed tomatoes)
1 pkg. taco seasoning mix
1 pkg. Ranch dressing
Saute ground beef & onion; drain. Add remaining ingredients, bring to boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes or put in your crock pot on low for 3-4 hours. Top with sour cream, tortilla chips and grated cheese.
 if meat is already cooked , just saute the onion 
Mary Costa-Pearson

I found this on the picky palate blog. I thought it was different and thought I would give it a try. I made these to have with Taco's and they were really good. They remind me of the shell that comes with the Gorditas from Taco Bell. As I was rolling them out they did stick a bit so I would suggest lightly flouring your rolling surface and rolling pin.

1 tube (16.3 ounces) large refrigerated buttermilk biscuits  (This is the Pillsbury Grands.  I used the buttermilk flaky layers
Roll out each biscuit into a 6-in. circle. It is important to get it to the 6 inch circle so it’s the right thickness.  In a small nonstick skillet over medium heat, cook each biscuit for 30-60 seconds (I did 60 seconds) on each side or until golden brown.  Yes that is right, DO NOT put any oil in the pan.  You cook them in a completely dry pan.  Makes 8 servings.

Mary Costa-Pearson
I made this last night for dinner. It was pretty tasty and pretty easy.

1 egg, beaten
1 container  (15 oz.) POLLY-O Original Ricotta Cheese
2 cups KRAFT 2% Milk Shredded Italian* Three Cheese Blend
4   green onions, chopped
1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
1 jar  (26 oz.) spaghetti sauce, divided
16 lasagna noodles, cooked
1/4 cup  KRAFT Grated Parmesan Cheese


HEAT oven to 375ºF.

MIX first 5 ingredients until well blended.

SPREAD 1/2 cup spaghetti sauce onto bottom of 13x9-inch baking dish. Spread each noodle with 3 Tbsp. cheese mixture; roll up. Place, seam-sides down, in dish. Top with remaining sauce and Parmesan; cover.

BAKE 40 to 50 min. or until heated through, uncovering the last 10 min.


I played around with this a bit. This is what I found to make it a bit easier. When the pasta is done, put it in a strainer and run some cold water over it. This will help keep them from sticking together. Lay the noodles out flat, otherwise they tend to stick in the shape they are left. Pat the noodles dry with a clean kitchen towel or paper towel otherwise the cheese mixture will not stick. 3 tbs is roughly the same as 1/4 up if you don't want to measure out 3 tbs each time. Makes it go a bit faster. I used whole wheat pasta to make it a bit more "figure friendly" as Rachael Ray says. I don't think it changes the flavor of the dish at all.

I added hamburger to mine. Just add the meat to the cheese mixture and mix well.  I think italian sausage cooked and crumbled would be good in this too. This recipe is one of those you can change up to fit your own likes. If you try something different with this let me know!