Try-Me-Night Recipes

“Try-Me-Night” was a Hoffman invention that Jim grew up with, and we decided to carry on that tradition in our Hoffman home. I try to experiment with a new recipe about each week. Sometimes they’re great! Sometimes they’re…well…not so great. I plan to review my attempts in our blog so if any of you want to try a Try-Me-Night, you’ll have some ideas and recommendations. Here are the recipes that correspond to my reviews:

Last-Minute Lasagna

Source: REAL

1 26 oz jar of pasta sauce
~40 refrigerated or frozen (thawed) large cheese ravioli
10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
~2 oz grated Parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 375°F.  Spoon a thin layer of sauce over the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish.  Cover with a single layer of ravioli.  Top with half the spinach, half the mozzarella, and a third of the sauce.  Repeat with another layer of ravioli and the remaining spinach, mozzarella, and half the remaining sauce.  Top with another layer of ravioli and the remaining sauce (not all ravioli may be needed).  Sprinkle with the Parmesan.  Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Uncover and bake until bubbly, 5-10 minutes more.  Serves 6.

Kathy Howard’s Crock-Pot Split Pea Soup

Source: Kathy Howard, in College Station, TX – a missionary’s mom

3-4 medium russet potatoes, peeled & chunked
1 lb. split peas, rinsed
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 lb. kielbasa, diced

Place all ingredients in crock-pot and add enough water to cover completely (I actually used half water, half chicken broth).  Set cooker to high for 2-3 hours.  Then, stir everything gently and turn heat to low for a couple more hours – you can leave it on low for the rest of the day!  You may want to add more liquid before serving if you like your soup thinner.

Red Hot Tomato Pepper Soup

Source: Costco, and my own little head

2 cups Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Soup
1 (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes
½ cup orzo pasta
2 Louisiana Brand hot link sausages (about 8 oz), diced
optional: sour cream

Gently mix soup and tomatoes into a saucepan over med-high heat, stirring occasionally. In a wide skillet, fry up diced sausage until slightly darkened but not crisp. Drain well. When soup begins to boil, add sausage and orzo and turn heat to med-low. Continue to stir occasionally, all the way to the bottom (otherwise the orzo likes to sink and stick). Simmer for about 15 minutes, or until pasta is al dente.  Makes 4-6 servings.


Source: Me, Myself, and I

2 lb. chuck roast
1 Tbsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp red pepper flake
1 Tbsp ketchup
2 Tbsp salsa
20 tortillas (10-inch)
Optional addition fillings: onions, peppers, cheese, etc.

Hardware: Crock-pot, deep fryer, 1 gallon corn/canola oil, tongs, toothpicks

I put a roast in the crock pot at 10:00 am on low and seasoned it with cumin, oregano, garlic powder, and red pepper flake. At 7:00 pm, we shredded it and added the ketchup and salsa. We used fresh tortillas from Costco, cooking each one up on a skillet, and filling them with about 1/3 cup of the beef mixture as well as some cheese and caramelized onions and peppers. We then folded each one up into a neat little package and secured it with toothpicks, and cooked three at a time in the deep fryer on 365°F for about three minutes, rolling them over with tongs half-way through. We topped them with cheese, salsa, sour cream, etc. These were filling enough that most of us only had one, so we had lots of beef and tortillas left over.

Mild/Medium Chili

Source: Kristyn Bradley

1 lb ground beef
1 large onion chopped
1 green or red pepper chopped
2 cloves garlic minced
1 can kidney beans (rinsed and drained)
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes undrained
1 8 ounce can tomato sauce
1 tsp of chili powder
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 cup water

Brown ground beef with onions, peppers and garlic. Drain fat. Add remaining ingredients . Bring to boiling and then simmer covered for 20 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with sour cream, corn bread, tortilla chips, shredded cheese, salsa, etc. as desired.

Becka’s Chicken Enchiladas (Crock-pot alteration)

Source: Rebecca Carlson

~1.5 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
~1.5 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
3 cans cream of chicken soup (or 1 chicken + 2 mushroom)
2 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 Tbsp. chili powder
salt & white pepper to taste
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped sweet or bell peppers (optional)
15-20 medium size flour tortillas
~2 cups grated cheese (we like medium cheddar best)

Place chicken, soups, and spices in crock-pot and mix to coat chicken completely. Cook on high for 3-4 hours (or low 8 hours). Leave crock-pot on low as you remove chicken from crock-pot and place on a cutting board to slightly cool. Add sour cream to crock-pot and stir well. It should be the consistency of thin gravy – if it is too thick, I add half a cup or so of chicken broth. Sweat onion and peppers in a pan over med-low heat with a bit of salt and butter or olive oil until softened. Scoop most of the sauce out of the crock-pot and reserve in a separate bowl. Cube or shred chicken and return to crock-pot, stirring to coat with remaining sauce. Stir onions (and peppers) into chicken mixture as well.

Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Warm tortillas in microwave to soften. Pour enough sauce into two 9×13″ baking dishes to coat the bottom of each (that should take about half the sauce). Place a small amount of chicken mixture in each tortilla, roll, and place in baking dish. When dish is full (usually takes 8-10 tortillas), fill the second dish with rolled tortillas as well. Evenly distribute the remaining sauce over the top of the enchiladas in both pans, then sprinkle cheese all over the top of both. Cover with foil and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbling. Makes 15-20 enchiladas.

Palacsinta Ham Stack

Source: Kathy Hoffman

Palacsinta Batter:
1 cup cold milk
1 cup cold water
4 eggs
1 tsp salt
2 cups flour
1/4 cup melted butter

Ham Sauce:
1 lb. ground ham
6 Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp. ground pepper
1/4 tsp. onion powder
2 cups milk
salt to taste (opional)

Beat eggs slightly. Add milk, water, eggs, and salt and beat together. Beat in flour until smooth. Beat in melted butter. Cover and chill at least one hour. While batter is chilling, make up ham sauce: Melt butter in saucepan. Add flour and spices and mix until smooth. Slowly stir in milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until sauce thickens and simmers. Stir in ham and heat through.

Cook palacsintas in a crepe pan. As each is done, place it on a serving platter and spread with a small amount of ham sauce (if you use too much, your stack will tend to slide to one side). When stack is done, serve by slicing into wedges as you would a cake. Instead of making a stack, you can roll each palacsinta individually with ham sauce inside – just as tasty, but not as traditional. Makes 6-8 servings.

Voros Kaposzta

Source: Kathy Hoffman

1/2 of a medium red cabbage
2 Tbsp. butter
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp. vinegar
1/2 cup sour cream

Wash cabbage & cut into thin strips. Braise cabbage strips in butter in large skillet until glassy. Add vinegar & water. Cover and cook on low heat until tender (~30 minutes). Stir in sour cream, heat through and serve. Makes ~6 servings.

Hungarian Goulash

Source: Kathy Hoffman

Goulash is a very traditional dish in Hungary, but it’s a lot like chili in America: everyone’s got their own version, and regional varieties can differ widely. This is the one the Hoffman family grew up on. My crock pot cooks it better if I make a double batch, so what I’m putting here is what I make, but the recipe on this page can be cut in half.

2 lbs. round steak or other cut of beef or pork cut into 1/2″ cubes
1 medium chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
4-5 Tbsp. flour or cornstarch
2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. paprika
1/2 tsp dried thyme, crushed
1 bay leaf
28 oz. diced tomatoes
16-20 oz. tomato sauce (depending on how saucy you like it)
2 cups sour cream

Place meat, onion, and garlic in crock pot. Add flour/cornstarch and stir to coat cubes. Add all remaining ingredients except for sour cream. Stir well, cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours (or 4-5 hours on high). Stir occasionally. 30 minutes before serving, stir in sour cream thoroughly. Serve over hot, buttered pasta. Makes 8-12 servings.

Krumpli Nudli

Source: Kathy Hoffman

3 medium white rose or red potatoes
3 cups flour
1 egg
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups dry seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 cup butter or margarine

Boil potatoes until tender. Peel & mash in large bowl while still warm. Knead in flour, egg, & salt until smooth (~10 min). Working with small portions of the dough, roll into “snakes” on a lightly floured surface. Cut into 2″ lengths and allow to dry on a floured surface for at least an hour (up to several hours is fine).

Pre-heat oven to 250°F. Melt butter in a skillet, add bread crumbs and cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until browned. Bring large kettle of water with 1 tbsp. salt added to a boil. Add noodles in batches so as not to over-crowd them, and boil each batch about 5 minutes. To test for doneness, cut or bite a noodle to see that it is cooked through. Use a slotted spoon to transfer noodles to a colander. Drain for a minute or two, then roll each noodle in bread crumbs. Transfer noodles to a large pan. Repeat with next batch. When all noodles are in pan, bake for 10-15 minutes. Makes 6-8 servings.

Hungarian Stuffed Peppers

Source: The Cooking Index

Here are the links to the recipes for Hungarian Stuffed Peppers and Paprika Gravy. I changed the gravy quite a bit when I made it, and explained what I did in my Mikulás Feast post.

Tuna Casserole

Source: Kathy Hoffman

Kathy, my mother-in-law, gave me the “method” rather than the recipe, since she just knows what to do and throws it together by memory. Here is what I did, based on her suggestions:

4 Tbsp. butter
4 Tbsp. flour
2-3 cups milk
2 cans tuna in water, not drained
3/4 cups frozen petite peas
salt & pepper to taste
1 1/2 lbs. pasta (I used egg noodles, since that’s what I had – shell pasta is great, too)
~2 cups grated cheddar cheese

Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Cook pasta in salted water. Drain pasta when it is not quite al dente.

While pasta cooks, melt the butter over med-low heat in a large skillet and slowly whisk in flour. Let roux simmer about a minute, then slowly add in 2 cups milk. Bring just to a boil, stir in tuna with its water. Return to boil and slowly add a more milk until mixture is the consistency of thin gravy. Add peas, salt, & pepper, and turn heat to low.

When pasta is done and drained, return it to the pot and add tuna mixture, stirring to combine. Pour pasta mixture into 3+ quart baking dish and spread shredded cheese over the top. Cover with aluminum foil (unless you like your cheese browned and crispy), and bake for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbling.

Crock-pot Barbecued Meat Loaf

Source: “Crock-pot Cooking” by Rival

2 lb. ground chuck or lean ground beef
1/2 c. uncooked quick or old-fashioned oats
1/2 c. dry bread crumbs
2 Tbsp. non-fat dry milk solids
1/2 c. water
1/2 cup bottled smoky barbecue sauce (I used my mom’s homemade stuff, which is delicious!)
2 eggs
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 small onion, chopped (I used a yellow onion)
6 potatoes, cut up (We used waxy red potatoes)

In large bowl, gently mix all ingredients except potatoes. Shape meat mixture into a loaf. Place potatoes in bottom of Crock-pot. Top potatoes with meat loaf. Cover and cook on Low for 8-10 hours. Makes 6 servings (about 3 quarts).