Bacon Ranch Pull Apart Bread!

If you love bread and cheese like I do, this is going to be right up your alley.  This takes a simple loaf of French bread and some cheese and a few other things and makes a loaf of yummilicious goodness! This is so good with pasta dishes...spaghetti, lasagna or with soups.  It also makes a great casual party appetizer.  Here is all you need for this:

1 loaf French bread (can use sourdough or Italian)
1/ 2 cup butter, melted
1/2 packet of dry Ranch dressing mix
8 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded
8 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 cup of real bacon bits or you can use bacon cooked crisp and crumbled

Place the bread on a sheet of foil and cut it in about 1 inch squares, but not all the way through.  Just cut down about 3/4 of an inch.   I just cut on the diagonal, because my bread already had the baker's cuts going one way like that.   If your bread is smooth, you can just cut straight across horizontally and vertically.

Mix the dry ranch dressing mix with the melted butter.  Pull the bread slightly apart and pour the butter mixture over and down into the cuts.


 Sprinkle with the cheddar cheese and the mozzarella cheese and push some of it down into the cuts of the bread.   Finish by sprinkling bacon evenly over the top.   Cover loosely with foil and place in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes.  Uncover and increase the oven temperature to 425 and allow to bake for another 10 minutes or until the cheese just starts to brown. 
You can garnish with some sliced green onions or chives or serve just as it is, piping hot from the oven.  Just pull this off in big chunks.  I will warn that it is addictive!

Veggie Lover Lasagna!

If you have followed this site or read many of my posts and recipes for long, you know I am not a vegetarian.    However, I do love vegetables and eat tons of them. I can't even think of a vegetable I don't like.  Well, maybe brussel sprouts which I am not crazy about, but my sister showed me a way to cook them that made me actually like them. 

 I did try to give up eating meat once, for some reason that I cannot now imagine, and it was not pretty.  By the end of a week, I was meaner than a junkyard dog.  Everyone around me, who had to put up with me, begged me to just eat a pork chop!  I was just not designed to be an herbivore.  Bunny rabbits are cute, but it isn't me! 

  I do get requests for vegetarian dishes quite a bit, but I also get requests for low fat and sugar free ones and when I post them, no one pays much attention to them.  I always wondered why there weren't more food blogs dedicated to vegetarian, vegan, fat free, sugar free, gluten free, I know!  Nobody reads them!  

I do love this vegetable lasagna though and I promise you, you will not even miss the meat.  I promise!  I think Italian food can get away with not using meat easier than most, because of all of the flavor you put in it and of course, the cheese.   This is a great recipe for summer when zucchini and yellow squash are so abundant.  

 Here is what you will need for this:

9 lasagna noodles, cooked according to package directions
3 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 medium sweet onion, diced
1/2 cup green or red bell pepper, diced
1 Tbs. garlic, minced
2 cups zucchini, diced
2 cups yellow squash, diced
1 cup shredded carrot or cut in very small matchsticks
2 cups fresh mushrooms diced
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes with Italian seasonings
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 (6oz.) can tomato paste
1 cup water
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 Tbs. dried parsley
2 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. sugar
32 oz. carton of ricotta cheese
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
3 cups Mozzarella cheese, shredded and divided

In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil and add the onion and green or red pepper.  Saute until just soft.  Add the zucchini, yellow squash, garlic and carrots.  I like to cut the zucchini and yellow squash in thin circles and then diced.  I don't think they work as well if left in big hunks or huge slices. This should all cook down somewhat into sort of a vegetable ragout.  Add the mushrooms right at the end, because the will cook fast and does not need to be cooked too much.  You want the veggies soft but still with a little bite to them, not mushy.

Once all of the veggie are just soft, but still have some body to them, add the tomatoes, tomato sauce and tomato paste.  If the tomatoes are in big hunks, take your kitchen shears and cut them up some.  I hate big hunks of tomato in my lasagna sauce.  That's just me, if you like hunks, leave them in! 

 Add all of the seasonings, sugar and water to the sauce.   Bring up just to a bubble and then lower heat to low, cover and simmer while you assemble the other ingredients.

Mix the ricotta with the beaten eggs until smooth.  Add 3/4 of the Parmesan cheese, and 2 cups of the Mozzarella cheese and mix until well combined.  This mixture should be fairly thick.

Spread a layer of the sauce in a deep 9"x13" baking dish that has been sprayed with nonstick spray. 

Lay three of the lasagna noodles on top of the sauce.  Dollop the cheese mixture over the noodles.

Continue to repeat the layers.

Finish with the sauce and the other 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese.

Finish the top with the last cup of Mozzarella and bake uncovered for about 40 minutes.

It will be bubbly around the edges!

Banana Puddin' Cheesecake!

Some of my best dessert creations come from combining a favorite of my husband's with one of my favorites!    This is the case with this yummy "Banana Puddin' Cheesecake".     I love cheesecake, but my husband is not all that crazy about it!   However, he has never met a banana pudding he didn't like!  As you know, I have several banana pudding recipes on my site already, so I was thinking about how I could combine the two and this was the result!  I must say it did not disappoint!   

This is a great recipe for summer, because it's cool and creamy and no-bake!    In this record breaking heat, that is a good thing!  

Here is what you will need:

1 (8 oz.)  pkg cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1 tsp. vanilla flavoring
1 (3.4 oz. pkg.) instant cheesecake flavored pudding mix (could use vanilla pudding)
1 cup milk
2 cups frozen whipped topping, thawed  (I used Cool Whip)
1 (9.0 oz) prepared graham cracker crust  (this is the 2 extra serving one which works best for this)
2 large bananas sliced or 3 small
1/2   (11 oz.) box of vanilla wafers
whipped topping for garnish

In a large mixing bowl, beat the softened cream cheese with the confectioners sugar until it's light and fluffy.  Add the teaspoon of vanilla,  the instant pudding mix and 1 cup milk.  Beat until the mixture is well incorporated and starts to thicken.  When it's thick, fold in the 2 cups whipped topping.   This mixture should be thick.  If it's not, refrigerate for about 30 minutes before proceeding.

Pour half of the cheesecake mixture into the graham cracker crust!

Top the cheesecake layer with the banana slices.  I used two large bananas, but if your bananas are smaller, use three. 

Cover the banana layer with about half of the vanilla wafers.  

Pour the rest of the cheesecake filling over the top and smooth it out.  Refrigerate for 5-6 hours or if you are in a hurry, freeze for 1 hour.

Right before serving, crush the rest of the vanilla wafers and sprinkle over the top.  I also piped whipped topping around the edges and then put a dollop on top of each slice.  You could also put a slice of banana on top of each slice! 

This is delicious and it was gone in no time at our house!



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