Friday, April 21, 2017

Cheesy Funeral Potatoes

These potatoes have been dubbed "funeral potatoes" by what I can only imagine is the Mormon culture.  Recently we went to Grandma Mechams funeral where these were served and before that, my Grandpa Papenfuss' funeral where these were also served.  The only thing I can think of is that they are so delicious they put a smile on everyone's faces despite the sad situation they are in the midst of.

With my recent boycot of "cream of..." anything, funeral potatoes were one of my first recipes nixed from the blog.  They had a big honkin can of the stuff and it just wasn't going to cut it.  The canned mixture was a main star of the dish so I wasn't sure how a homemade substitution would do.  Well this recipe proves that sometimes homemade is best!!  The roux is relatively easy, and the cheesy deliciousness that transpires because of it is just amazing!!


8 tbsp salted butter
1 28-32 oz bag frozen shredded hash brown potatoes
1 medium onion, diced
1/4 cup flour
1 cup milk
2 cups chicken broth
salt, pepper, seasoning salt to taste
1 1/2 ups shredded Montery jack cheese
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar
2 cups kettle cooked potato chips
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup green onions sliced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and melt 6 tbsp of the butter.  Add the onions and cook until translucent.  Sprinkle the flour over the top of the onions and stir to incorporate. Cook for a minute or until the mixture starts to look like "wet sand."  Whisk in them milk and chicken broth and continue mixing until there are no more lumps.  Bring the mixture to a boil and continue boiling until mixture thickens.  Season to taste with salt, pepper, and seasoning salt.  Turn off the heat and add the Montery Jack, cheddar, and sour cream.  Add the hash browns and mix everything together.  Grease the bottom of a 9x13 pan and pour potato mixture into it.

Take the remaining 2 tbsp butter, crushed chips, and Parmesan cheese.  Mix together and sprinkle over the top of the potatoes. Sprinkle green onions over top of chip coating (optional). Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes, remove foil and bake for 15 more minutes or until the top is golden brown and the potatoes are bubbling around the edges.


Bavarian Cream Pie

This dessert is the Papenfuss family #1 most requested recipe. It's a simple recipe, but when all the flavors and textures are combined it makes something magical.  We make it for every birthday, every holiday, every scout auction, everything...and it is always a hit!!


1/2 cup butter
1 cup chopped pecans - divided
1 cup flour
1 8oz package cream cheese - softened
1 cup powdered sugar
16 oz whipped cream - divided
1 large package instant chocolate pudding

Melt butter and mix well with 3/4 cup pecans and flour.  Pat into the bottom of a greased 9x13 pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until the crust comes together and is a light golden brown.  Cool completely.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese and powdered sugar.  Beat until fluffy.  Add 12 oz of whipped cream and fold together.  Put on top of the crust.  Mix the pudding packets with 2 1/2 cups cold milk and mix until thick consistency.  Layer on top of cream cheese mixture.  Use the remaining whipped cream and layer on top of the pudding. Sprinkle on the remaining 1/4 cup of chopped pecans.  Keep in refrigerator if not serving immediately.

Mississippi Mud Roast Sandwich

This is a great meal to use for 2 days...Have the roast the first day and then use for sandwiches the second day.  I think I prefer the sandwich to just eating the roast, but this is largely in part to the amazing little french hoagies that my local grocery store sells.  They are so good!!  So this would be the perfect Sunday meal and then Monday quick meal before FHE!


1 3-4 lb chuck roast
1 packet ranch mix
1 packet Au Jus gravy mix
1/4 cup butter, cubed
4-5 pepperoncinis
1 onion sliced
1 red pepper sliced
1 yellow or orange pepper sliced
8 hoagie French rolls
8 slices provolone cheese
sliced pepperoncinis for serving

In a crock pot place chuck roast and top with ranch mix, Au Jus mix, butter, pepperoncinis, onion, and peppers.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours or until the roast shreds easily with a fork.  Shred the pork and mix all the ingredients together.

Open the hoagie rolls and place a piece of provolone cheese on the open face.  Place under the broiler until the cheese and bread are golden brown.  Remove from oven and take a scoop of meat mixture, place on top of bread.  Top with pepperoncinis and serve immediately.

Philly Cheesesteaks

When TJ and I lived in DC, we made it a special note to travel to Philadelphia and have a little Philly Cheesesteak competition of our own.  We tried Pat's; we tried Geno's...and in the end they both let us wanting a little bit more.  Each were delicious in their own right, but to call them the best cheesesteaks ever just didn't seem right.  Then we moved to Okinawa and there was a fast food joint called Charley's.  They served hot sandwiches and among their best sandwich was their Philly cheesesteak.  Still not the best...but good.  Well now we find ourselves in San Diego and the grocery store down the street sells these amazing little French Rolls.  Kind of like bakery french bread but in hoagie size.  Perfect for me to perfect the Philly cheesesteak.  I'm not a fan of the traditional cheese wiz spread for the cheese, so if you're feeling daring then give it a try...otherwise be like me and stick to provolone.

1 onion sliced in half and then sliced into strips
1 red pepper de-seeded and sliced
1 green pepper de-seeded and sliced
8 oz baby bella mushrooms sliced thin
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp A-1 steak sauce
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
16 oz sliced deli meat roast beast (the more quality the better these sandwiches will taste...I like Costco's sliced roast beef the best)
salt and pepper to taste
8 french hoagies
8 slice provolone cheese


In a cast iron skillet, heat olive oil and butter over medium high heat. Once pan is hot, add onion, peppers, and mushrooms. Don't over stir as you want these to char.  Once the veggies are cooked through and have a nice brown.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add the steak sauce and Worcestershire sauce and mix.  Add the roast beef and cook until meat is reheated.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Here is where I think I have perfected the sandwich.  I used to pile the toppings on the hoagie, put the cheese on top and then broil to golden brown perfection.  The problem was that the bread always tended to get a little soggy and the cheese wasn't in every bite.  So now I open up the hoagies and put a piece of cheese covering both sides.  Then I pace under the broiler until nice and golden brown.  Then I put all the toppings on the top of the cheese and fold into a sandwich.  The bread is still nice and chewy and there is cheese in every bite...this is what I call cheesesteak perfection!! Add a little hot sauce if you want to spice things up!!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Cajun Tortellini

I recently bought a Costco container of their tortellini when it was on sale.  Cheese filled pasta; what is not to like?!  I tried a few recipes and while they were good...they weren't "blog-worthy," which as of late is how TJ and I classify an amazing recipe.  Well I was surfing Pinterest and I came across a cajun tortellini recipe with sausage that looked like it could just be "blog-worthy."  I tweaked a few things, added a few things...and came up with this.  SOOO good!  It's creamy, spicy, cheesy, and meaty.  To put it over the top and surpass "blog-worthy,"  it's a recipe that made all TJ's coworkers say "what is that delicious smell," when he took it to work the next day for lunch.  I would say this recipe is a keeper!!


1 tsp olive oil
12 oz smoked sausage links cut into bite sized pieces.
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 small onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 tbsp cajun seasoning
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 cup Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
1 20 oz cheese tortellini
2 green onions, diced

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add onion and red pepper, and cook until soft.  Add sausage, and cook until browned, stirring occasionally.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant...about 30 seconds.  Add seasoning; stir to combine.  Stir in heavy cream and chicken broth and bring to a bubble, add tortellini.  Lower to a simmer and stir in Parmesan cheese until melted and tortellini is cooked through.  Top with green onions and more Parmesan cheese before serving.


Microwave Carmel Corn

This is a recipe that I made with my mom growing up.  The recipe is super easy, super delicious, and one that you can make with kids.  In fact, I have memories of shaking the brown paper bag with my mom when I was little and now I get to do the same thing with my kids; total dejavu!  I love it!!  The recipe you do have to be careful about what kind of paper bag you use though...Some are made using recycled material and contains metal which doesn't belong in a microwave...just use caution ;)

1/2 cup of popped popcorn kernels (about 3 quarts popped popcorn)
2 cups cashews, optional
3/4 cup brown sugar
6 tbsp butter
3 tbsp corn syrup
1 tsp sea salt
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
large brown paper grocery bag



Pour the popcorn and nuts into the paper sack.  Be sure to pick out all the un-popped kernels as you see them!!  Place the brown sugar, butter, corn syrup, and vanilla in a large microwave safe bowl.  Microwave on high for 2 minutes, stir, and then microwave another 2 minutes...until the mixture boils.  Immediately stir in the baking soda and pour over the popcorn, in the bag.

Fold the top of the bag over a few times and shake well.  Place the bag in the microwave and cook for 1 minute.  Shake the bag vigorously again and microwave for 45-60 seconds.  Check at 45 seconds  to make sure it's not burning.

Open the bag and pour the caramel corn our on waxed paper.  Break up clumps if needed and check for any un-popped kernels.  Cool completely to harden.  Enjoy!!

Sweet Potato Casserole

This was the most requested recipe from our Papenfuss family Thanksgiving for 5 years in a row.  My wonderful Aunt Darcy made it and was reluctant at first to give out the recipe.  There's just something nice about being the only one who can create such a delectable masterpiece.  Well this is the first year that she gave it out and the first year in a while that we have attended the Finlayson family Thanksgiving extravaganza (I call it that because there is usually over 60 people in attendance).  With 3 other sweet potato recipes being made, this was by far everyone's favorite.  But don't be fooled...just because it's made with a vegetable and served as a side dish...this is full of sugar and butter and definitely belongs with the desserts!!  So good!!


2 big yams
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs

Topping
1/3 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup butter
1 cup chopped pecans

Rub yams in olive oil and wrap in tin foil.  Bake at 350 degrees for 2 hours or until they are fork tender.  Scoop out insides and add the remaining 5 ingredients until they are well incorporated.  Pour into a greased 9x13 pan.

For the topping, place all ingredients into a bowl and cut together until the butter is pea sized and the mixture starts to come together.  Sprinkle over the top of the sweet potato mixture.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.