30 January 2009

cream cheese pumpkin pie

We made these 2 pumpkin recipes recently because we were trying to use up the pumpkin in our freezer. This was a new recipe that we found online, but Adam made it so it doesn't count for me. We were getting bored (there's that bored again) with our standard pumpkin pie recipe, and this is the 2nd one we tried. The first one, which we did at Christmas, was a sort of custard rather than the more solid pumpkin filling, but we were indifferent about it. This one, we liked a lot better.

9 inch pie crust

CREAM CHEESE BASE
8 oz. cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg

Beat cream cheese until smooth. Beat in other ingredients until light and smooth. Chill mixture for 30 minutes, then smooth into bottom of the pie crust.

Make sure the base is VERY chilled and firm when you put it in the pie crust. We didn't get it firm enough, so when we added the pumpkin filling, the cream cheese floated to the top. It meant we had a pumpkin cheesecake-type pie, which was good but not how it was supposed to be.

PUMPKIN FILLING
1 and 1/4 cups pumpkin puree - we used fresh that we mashed up and froze last fall, but you could use canned as well
1 cup evaporated milk
2 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt

Mix thoroughly until all ingredients are combined.

Pour the pumpkin mixture over cream cheese layer in pie shell. Cover edges of crust with aluminum foil to prevent excess browning.

Bake at 350 for 25 minutes. Remove foil from edges and bake an additional 25 minutes.

PECAN TOPPING
2 tbl flour
2 tbl brown sugar
2 tbl butter, softened
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Combine. After pie has been in oven for 50 minutes, remove and sprinkle pecans over the top. Bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean and pecan topping is golden.

We tried to do the pecan topping, but it was very gloppy with the butter and certainly didn't "sprinkle." So we skipped it. Next time, maybe we'll just put a few pecans over the top for the last few minutes.

super easy pumpkin cookies

one box of spice-cake cake mix
2 cups (or 1 15-ounce can) of pumpkin

Mix together, spoon onto cookie sheet and bake for 12-15 min.

Seriously. That's it. And it makes quite a lot of cookies.

You do need to eat them rather quickly - they started getting mushy and stuff after about 48 hours. Putting them in the fridge rather than the cookie jar might hold that off a little longer.

8 of 50.

white bean chili

My mom told me the other day that she reads this blog but doesn't have anything to contribute because I cook "fancy" now. I have no idea what she means by that, unless she's referring to the fact that we don't use Ramen noodles for anything and I think I've just used my last can of Campbell's Cream of ___ ever. (And the 2 previous recipes on here use Ramen noodles and Campbell's soup. Total coincidence, and it makes me laugh.)

Anyway, I don't think what we do is particularly "fancy." We decided to branch out and try A LOT of new things, as opposed to just one or two, because we were totally bored with our meal staples. We use some ingredients that aren't as common so grocery shopping requires a little more planning and thought. But this stuff isn't hard. If I can do it, anyone can do it. I'm not particularly adventurous when it comes to food - I just got bored, is all.

Here's my #7 of 50 - white bean chili. We got this recipe from our friends Zach and Alicia in our ward - they invited us to their Halloween party last fall and we loved their cooking. So we got their recipes.

2.5 c. water or chicken broth
1 tsp. lemon pepper
ltsp. cumin seed

Cook 4 chicken breast halves until tender - the original directions say to bake for 30 min. or boil them, then cut them into pieces. I cut the raw chicken into pieces first and cooked it on the stovetop.

Sautee 1 clove minced garlic, 1 c. minced onions. Add to broth.

2 packages of shoe peg corn (green giant) - I used about 8 ounces of frozen regular yellow corn.
4 oz. can of green chilis
1 tsp. ground cumin

Add all to broth and bring to boil (except lime juice) - at this point, I added a bit more broth to make sure there would be enough fluid and nothing would stick to the pot.

2-3 tbl. lime juice
2 15 oz. cans great northern beans (drained)

Add beans after the boil - cook on low for awhile until the taste has all melded together, by personal preference.

Serve with tortilla chips and Monterey jack cheese

One thing to note - when Alicia made it, this was all white. When we made it, it was kind of yellow-ish. It tasted just fine, but the color was different. I think if you use chicken broth out of a can and white corn, it will be more white. We used chicken broth made from bullion and yellow corn.

Winner, Winner Chicken Dinner

I have not tried this recipe yet, but it sure looks good!


Preheat oven to 350.

Mix & put in baking dish:
2-3 shredded cooked chicken breasts
1 pkg cooked egg noodles
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 soup cans full of milk
Shredded cheese
Basil
Lemon Pepper
Garlic

Top with more shredded cheese & crumbled Ritz crackers.Cover with foil & Bake for 30 minutes, uncover & Bake for 5 minutes more.

This fed 6 kids & 3 adults.

29 January 2009

Peanut Butter Chicken and Noodles

This one is a favorite around here and quickly gobbled up by everyone. Plus the kids eat their veggies, since they are covered in a peanut butter sauce

2-4 packages of oriental Ramen noodles (we use 4, since we like a lot of noodles - you will need at least 1 oriental package, and the rest can be whatever flavor you have laying around)

Veggies - Broccoli, snap peas, carrots, etc -whatever your family will like

1 1/4 cups water

1/4 cup peanut butter - any kind you prefer (I just eyeball it)

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 TBSP packed brown sugar

1 TBSP cornstarch

Crushed Red Pepper - add as much or as little as you like

2 cups cooked chicken

Green Onions

Water Chestnuts, bamboo shoots (optional)

Chopped Peanuts (optional)

Directions:

In a wok (or other large pan), whisk together the water, peanut butter, soy sauce, brown sugar, cornstarch, red pepper, and oriental seasoning packet (you just need 1 from the Ramen). Whisk until smooth. Cook over medium heat until thick and bubbly.

Meanwhile - cook the Ramen according to directions (I assume we all know how to make Ramen) - you could also use spaghetti

Once the sauce is thickened, add the chicken, veggies (you may want to steam beforehand, depending on how you like them), water chestnuts, and bamboo shoots to sauce and heat through. Add noodles to the mixture - toss to combine. Top with green onions and peanuts.

28 January 2009

Crunchy Chicken Tenders

I do love the tenders, but I love this recipe more for the onion dipping sauce. I've been known to save a little afterwards to put on sandwiches the next day.

1 c. + 1 Tbsp. mayonnaise, divided
2 tsp. onion flakes
2 tsp. dry mustard
1 c. butter cracker crumbs
2 Tbsp. sesame seeds
8 oz. chicken tenders
½ c. sour cream
¼ c. chopped onion
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley (optional)
¾ tsp. seasoning salt
¼ tsp. garlic powder

Preheat oven to 425*. Grease a baking sheet or cover it with foil. Combine 2/3 cup mayonnaise, onion flakes and dry mustard in a shallow bowl and mix well. Combine the cracker crumbs and sesame seeds in a shallow bowl and mix well. Dip chicken in mayonnaise mixture, then coat with cracker crumb mixture. Arrange on prepared baking sheet. Bake the chicken until juices run clear, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine remaining mayo, sour cream, chopped onion, parsley, seasoning salt and garlic powder in a small bowl and mix well. Serve with chicken tenders. (For a more traditional dipping sauce, you can make honey mustard dip by mixing ¼ cup honey and 2 Tbsp. prepared yellow mustard.)

27 January 2009

Easy Cheddar Biscuits

1 c. flour
2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. cream of tarter
1/4 t. sugar
1/4 t. salt
1/4 c. cold butter
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1/3 c. milk

  • Combine all dry ingredients
  • cut in butter until crumbly
  • add cheese
  • add milk
  • kneed until smooth
  • pat into 6x6 square
  • cut into 9 pieces
  • on greased cookie sheet bake at 450 for 10-12 min.

These are an easy "bread" to go with any meal - and since there is no yeast they are so quick!!

chicken enchilada skillet

3 chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces and cooked
broccoli
corn
red pepper, large dice
1 can diced tomatoes with juice
taco seasoning

Once you cook the chicken, combine it in a skillet with all of the other ingredients. I used frozen corn and broccoli, and fresh red pepper. Apparently you can also get a frozen veggie mix with these things - the Birds Eye brand.

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, cover, and cook for about 5 minutes until everything is heated through.

Serve with tortillas or tortilla chips, and Monterey Jack cheese.

It's a VERY quick dinner - start to finish including any chopping and cooking the chicken was about 20 minutes. From a book called "One-Dish Recipes."

26 January 2009

green salads

Green salads can get so boring when you put the same things in them all the time. We have some new options for you.

GREEN SALAD 1
mixed greens - we usually use red or green leaf lettuce
red bell pepper
tomato
scallions
celery
capers

Except for the greens and capers of course, chop everything in a very small dice. Yum!

GREEN SALAD 2
mixed greens
feta cheese OR gorgonzalla cheese
black olives
red onion

Each of the cheeses give it a different taste - Adam likes the feta better because it has more of a spicy kick to it. The gorgonzalla is very good but mild. I guess that one would depend on your personal preference.

22 January 2009

Dinner in a Pumpkin

I've had this dish at Halloween since I was a tiny kid up until now when I make it for my own family. It's wonderful and very season-appropriate.

1 small 10” pumpkin, top cut out (set aside) and seeds cleaned out and discard
Combine and fry until tender:
2 Tbsp. oil
2 tsp. salt
2 ½ Tbsp. diced onion
1 tsp. oregano
1 clove minced garlic or 1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. pepper
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 lb. browned ground lean beef, drained (depending on width of pumpkin, can fit 1 ½ - 2 lbs. ground beef)
2 oz. ground ham
½ chopped green pepper
1 tsp. vinegar
3 eggs, beaten
2 c. cooked peas (optional)

Mix in 1 ½ c. cooked rice. Place all ingredients in pumpkin and replace pumpkin top. Bake at 350* on a cookie sheet for 1 hour (will have to put oven rack on lowest position). Serve dinner directly out of the pumpkin. (Be careful when removing the pumpkin from the oven as the cooking will have made the bottom very soft and it may fall through without support.)

Americanized Chicken Cordon Bleu

This is a family staple for when company comes over. The longer you cook them (on the lower temperature) the moister the chicken and thus, the tastier it is. But if you don't have time and have to settle for the higher temp., then oh well. It's still good.

5 chicken breasts, raw (boneless and skinless)
½ lb. cooked ham, deli sliced 1/8” thick
1/2 stick butter
1 c. Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
1 egg, beaten
2 Tbsp. milk
2 c. Progresso bread crumbs
Parmesan cheese
1 10.5oz. can cream of chicken soup (regular, not lite), thinned slightly with milk
10-15 toothpicks

Either fillet chicken breasts or pound out flat. For each chicken breast: lay on a strip of ham. Add pat of butter and sprinkle some cheese on top. Roll up chicken breast and secure with 2-3 toothpicks to keep together. Dip in a bowl with the egg and milk. Then roll in bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese.
Lay breasts in 9x13” pan, keeping space between each one. Cover with soup + milk (or can use leftover egg/milk mixture instead). Bake at 350* for 1 ½ hours or at 325* for 2 hours (lower temp. will result in more tender meat). Make certain breasts don’t burn (bigger pieces will take longer to cook completely).

21 January 2009

potato and sausage bake

Not in the count because I've made it before, but this is a great winter dinner!

1 pound small potatoes cut into bite-sized pieces
1 large onion sliced into thin rings
1/2 pound baby carrots
1 pound sausage - I use large link mild Italian sausage, and it's browned first.
2 tbl melted butter (or a substitute)
salt and pepper
garlic powder
thyme

1. Boil or microwave the potatoes first so they're tender but not too soft and mash-able. If you put them straight into the pan, it takes FOREVER to bake.

2. Toss the potatoes, onion, and carrots with the butter and spices until coated evenly. (I went pretty heavy handed with the thyme, and light on the salt and pepper.)

3. Put vegetables in a 9x13 pan prepped with non-stick spray or oil (or lined with foil - easier cleanup.)

4. Bake vegetables uncovered for 30 minutes at 400. Add sausage, bake for another 15-20 minutes.

baked fish a la New Orleans

6 of 50 and super, super easy ... This is best with a white fish - the recipe calls for sole or flounder, and I used tilapia. Tilapia isn't a particularly firm fish - it flakes apart like nobody's business, but it worked and I like it.

1. Tear off a square of foil big enough to wrap the fish in, and lightly oil it (with Pam spray or brushing on some oil). Have a separate piece of foil for each piece of fish, and put the fish in the center of the foil.

2. Sprinkle each piece of fish with Cajun seasoning (I used Old Bay seasoning), and top with thin slices of tomato, chopped chives, chopped garlic, and lemon juice.

3. Fold the packets shut and bake at 400 for 12 minutes.

4. Unwrap carefully and put onto plate, pour juices onto fish. I served it with rice (white rice with just butter and parsley sprinkled over it).

Chicken and Rice Bake

This is another recipe from Month of Meals. It is another one of my staples. I hope that I have the measurements right, because I have a tendency not to use a recipe. But this should be about right.

4 chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
6 cups cooked rice
1 c. parsley
1 c diced onion
1 c sliced celery
2 cups sliced and cooked carrots
1 can family sized cream of mushroom soup

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Saute onion and celery until onion is clear. Mix rice, parsley, onion, celery, and carrots. Place the mixture in a 9x13 baking dish. evenly layer the chicken breast on top. Mix mushroom soup with some milk to thin out a little bit. Spread on top. Bake in oven for about an hour, or until chicken is done.

Oatmeal Bake

I just found this recipe online. I went ahead and made it. While I was making it I went ahead and tweaked it a little though. The cinnamon made me think of apples so I added two small granny smith apples as well. I definitely would be a great breakfast item, or something to snack on. It does require a fork though.

I love it and will add it to my recipe arsenal!

Oatmeal Bake
4 eggs
2 cups milk
1 cup canola oil (or can use applesauce or combo of)
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
6 cups oats
2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine all. Grease a 9 x 12" pan. Bake 30 min.

19 January 2009

self-rising flour

If you come across a baking recipe that calls for self-rising flour, you don't have to buy it. You can make it.

1 cup regular flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Voila!

date and apple squares

This is 5 for 50 ... the other cooking I've done in the past week or so has been stuff I've already made. I'll get a couple of those up as I have time.

1/2 cup margarine
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
4 tbl light corn syrup
2/3 cup chopped dates (I used the dried ones that are by the raisins and craisins at the store.)
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 apples peeled and grated
1-2 tsp lemon juice
walnuts - halves or chopped

1. Preheat oven to 375, line an 8x8 pan with foil.
2. On stove, heat margarine, sugar, and corn syrup. Stir until margarine is melted.
3. Add dates and cook until softened. Work in oats, flour, apples, lemon juice.
4. Put mixture in pan. Put walnuts over the top.
5. Bake for 30 min, then lower oven temp to 325 and cook for another 10 min. until firm.

The recipe is from our Cookie cookbook, but it turned out more like a cake. It was also very, very mild in flavor - I could taste the wheat more than the apples and dates, which seemed to completely dissolve. I thought it was a good breakfast food because it's pretty healthy and not too sweet.

18 January 2009

Techniques

I just realised that i might have used cooking terms people might go, "huh" at. So here is some explanataion.

Chiffonade is a cooking technique in which herbs or leafy green vegetables (such as spinach and basil) are cut into long, thin strips. This is generally accomplished by stacking leaves, rolling them tightly, then cutting across the rolled leaves with a sharp knife, producing fine ribbons. "Chiffon" is French for "rag" referring to the fabric-like strips that result from this technique. To chiffonade simply means to turn into rag like strips as seen in the picture.

Julienning is a method of
food preparation in which the food item is cut into long thin strips. Common items to be julienned are carrots for carrots Julienne, potatoes for french fries, or celery for Céléris Remoulade.

With a sharp knife the raw vegetable is sliced on four sides to create a thick rectangular stick, then cut lengthwise into approximately 3 mm (1/8 inch) slices. Stacking these slices and again cutting lengthwise into strips creates thin uniform square sticks. Julienne usually applies to vegetables prepared in this way but it can also be applied to the preparation of meat or fish, especially in stir fry techniques.

Once julienned, turning the subject 90 degrees and dicing finely will produce brunoise.


This is an image of chiffonade with sage.
You might wonder what the differene between the two terms really is. Well the biggest difference is just that to CHIFFONADE, the final product should have finer strips. And to JULIENE, the strips can be a bit more course. They are also supposed to be fine. Okay. I am being vague. There is a fine difference, but its a fine fine line ...

BRUSCHETTA WITH WARM TOMATOES AND HERBS

BRUSCHETTA WITH WARM TOMATOES AND HERBS
Serves 4

Ingredients:
2 ½ cups assorted tomatoes, such as grape, cherry, or chopped heirlooms
3 tablespoons fresh basil, chiffonade, plus more for garnish (the thinner the better)
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
2 teaspoons olive oil
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 (1- ounce) slices ciabatta or sourdough bread
1 garlic clove, halved

Method:
Combine first 8 ingredients, and let stand 1 hour. Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add tomato mixture, and cook 10 minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Brush bread with olive oil and add to grill; cook 2 minutes on each side or until toasted. Rub 1 side of each toast piece with the cut sides of garlic clove halves. Serve tomato mixture over toast and garnish with basil.

*you can toast the bread in the oven if you don’t have either a grill or a grill pan that goes on the stove)

*Spanish paprika (pimento) would be good in this mixture

*use firmer tomatoes – cooks down sweeter

*Garnish with a little Maldon

-
this is also fabulous, easy, and just so good!

HERILOOM TOMATO SALAD WITH HERBS AND CAPERS

HERILOOM TOMATO SALAD WITH HERBS AND CAPERS

Serves 6

Ingredients:

2 cups assorted heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved

½ cup (2 ounces) crumbled feta cheese

¼ cup thinly sliced basil (chop this right before you add, otherwise it will wilt)

3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint (chop this right before you add, otherwise it will wilt)

1 tablespoon drained capers, chopped (rinse/drain these otherwise they wilt)

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

2 pounds assorted beefsteak heirloom tomatoes, each cut into 6 wedges (or slices to decorate the plate)

1 teaspoon large crystal sea salt, such as Maldon

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Method:

Combine first 9 ingredients in a bowl. Sprinkle tomato mixture with salt and pepper; toss gently

*use ripper tomatoes since you are making a salad

-

This recipe is absolutely delicious. If you don't believe me - make it and try it. If you like tomatoes you are gaurenteed to love it. But really, heirloom tomatoes make all the difference. Oh, and if you can't get ahold of Maldon salt, try to find a coarse French sea salt or even Irish. Not the same taste, but similar texture.

FRESH CORN FRITTATA AND SMOKED MOZZARELLA

FRESH CORN FRITTATA AND SMOKED MOZZARELLA
Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
1 ½ cups fresh corn kernals (about 3 ears)
¼ cup smoked mozzarella, shredded (about 1 ounce), divided
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chiffonade (this is a cutting technique where you roll the basil into a tight roll and then thinly slice the bunch)
¼ teaspoon sea salt (preferably Maldon salt – it’s a course Spanish sea salt)
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
5 large egg whites, lightly beaten
2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Method:
Preheat broiler

Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. You want to use a skillet that is oven safe. Add ½ teaspoon olive oil to pan. Add corn and sauté for 5 minutes. Remove from heat into a large bowl. Let it cool a bit. Add 2 tablespoons of the cheese, basil and the remaining ingredients. Stir well with a whisk.

Heat the skillet over medium high heat. Add remaining ½ teaspoon olive oil to pan. Add corn mixture, cover and cook for 5 minutes or until almost set. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons cheese. Broil for 5 minutes or until set and browned.

-

While in Texas my father in law paid for my mother in law and I to take a cooking class. Let me say, way fun. If I lived in San Antonio, I think that would become a regular date for Jason and I. Food is excellent, the instructors were excellent. The store they had the classes in was just amazing. You could actually buy Spanish sweet paprika there. Hurray!

Okay, so for dinner tonight I am making some of what was in the class. We made is before and my family loved it so we are using up ingredients (attempting to not be wasteful). I thought some of you might enjoy this as well (its really really easy – no lying about it). Oh, and its totally vegetarian and gluten free

14 January 2009

Knives


I was looking back at posts from before I joined and saw the one by Alisha about the knives. I agree whole hearted!!!

I use the forged cutlery from The Pampered Chef. I used to be a consultant, so I got my knives for free as a promotion. Their Santoku knife is $70. My personal favorite, however is the chef knife. And no, I am no longer a consultant, so this is not a sales pitch. Though if you want to see the pricing for all of the knives you can go to my friends site.

Anyway, I LOVE my knives. I had never had quality knives before. The day I got them I was cutting everything up in the house I could get my hands on! I will NEVER go back again. I am currently trying to convince my husband to get the carving set as well.

Anyway, quality knives are DEFINITELY worth it.

Strogonoff

Well, this is one of my favorite recipes for dinner. It comes from a diabetic recipe book called Month of Meals. I have altered the recipe slightly, just because it is memorized and I have just winged it for a while.

1 lb. ground beef
1 10 3/4 oz can cream of mushroom soup
1 can diced tomatoes
1 small onion
1 green bell pepper
1 lb. package rotini pasta

Dice the onion and the bell pepper. Saute until onion is clear. Set aside. Brown and drain the ground beef in a large skillet. Add sauteed vegetables, tomatoes, and cream of mushroom soup. Serve over pasta.

We usually have a fruit and a salad with this.

Enjoy!

13 January 2009

Scones

This isn't exactly a "healthy" recipe in itself, but what you put on it can certainly make it healthier. If honey butter isn't your thing, then put applesauce on top, or any type of fruit for that matter. Be creative! Be aware, though...this makes A LOT of scones!

Scones

5 c warm water
3 Tbsp yeast
1 Tbsp sugar

Combine and set aside until foamy. Once foamy, combine with following:

1/2 c sugar
1 tsp salt
3 Tbsp shortening or margarine
enough flour to make a soft dough ball (add 1 cup at a time)

Place in a greased bowl and let rise for about 1/2 hour, or until doubled...depending on how many scones you want to make! Be advised...if making the full recipe, you'll need a LARGE bowl.

Pour oil in pan or skillet to about 1/2 inch. Heat oil to about 350-375 degrees. Pinch off a small handful of dough, then separate and stretch to desired size. Place in oil and cook until bottom is golden brown, then turn over using tongs. Once 2nd side is golden brown, remove from oil and let drain on paper towel. Put desired toppings on while warm.

Enjoy!

Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta

In my humble opinion there is no reason to look any farther then recipezaar.com for dinner ideas. You can find a recipe depending on what you have in the fridge - and most of the recipes are rated so you never have to experiment on your family!

I did this one the other night

http://www.recipezaar.com/Creamy-Cajun-Chicken-Pasta-39087

It as amazing! I did half chicken and half shrimp (of course my husband picked around the shrimp, but that's ok, more for me)

12 January 2009

manacotti trick

Adam and I saw this idea on a cooking show on PBS a few months ago, and we've done it twice. It works great! Manacotti noodles are those big tubes that you're supposed to stuff with the cheese mixture, and it's a pain in the neck. The "new and improved" manacotti is to use lasagna noodles. Boil the noodles first. Put a scoop of the cheese at the end of a noodle, and then roll it up. Voila! A tube without having to manuever the tube!

We don't have a particular recipe that we use for the cheese or the sauce (except for my marinara sauce that I already posted) - I guess just look that up for ideas. When we made this manacotti over the weekend, I think Adam just used ricotta and mozzarella mixed with a few herbs.

11 January 2009

Portabello Help

I bought a package of portabello mushroom caps at the grocery store because they were on sale. Now I'm not sure what to do with them. I was thinking maybe something along the lines of beef tips and rice, some kind of gravy dish or something? I have found a chicken casserole recipe online, but does anyone have any favorites? Thanks!

The Sneaky Chef Masterful Mac 'n' Cheese

This is the recipe I mentioned in my introductory post. No flour or butter, like in lots of macaroni and cheese, but believe it or not, it includes zucchini and cauliflower! I made this recipe and served it to my (picky) husband. He loved it, and AFTER dinner I told him what was in it. He was shocked!
8 oz. elbow macaroni (preferably whole wheat, but I used Ronzini white with extra nutrients, or something like that...comes in a purple box)
1 1/2 cups skim milk
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups grated low-fat colby or cheddar cheese
1/2 cup White Puree (see below)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Spray cooking spray in a 9-inch square glass pan.
Boil the pasta according to the package directions, then drain.
In a large bowl, combine the White Puree and salt. Put half the macaroni in the bottom of the baking dish, then top with half the cheese. Layer the rest of the macaroni, the milk mixture, and the rest of the cheese on top.
Bake 30-35 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly.
For the White Puree:
In this book, you can make the purees ahead of time and add them to things when you need them. The white puree is 2 cups steamed (very tender) cauliflower and 2 medium zucchini. Pulse them together in a food processor with 1-2 Tbsp water until about the consistency of applesauce. This makes about 2 cups puree, so you can refrigerate the rest and save it for later.
Weight Watchers Points -- 6 Points per 1-cup serving (adding the veggies doesn't add any Points, but it does add a full serving of veggies!)

The Sneaky Chef

I bought a cookbook that my mother-in-law had recommended just after Christmas called The Sneaky Chef. The gist is to get picky kids to eat their vegetables, but I picked it up because I have a picky husband. The goal is to hide good for-you-foods by pureeing them in foods most people like anyway. Anyway, as I read it, I realized that even if I WASN'T cooking for picky eaters, it's neat to be able to add extra fruits and veggies to normal meals. Example: the other night we had grilled chicken, broccoli, and then the macaroni and cheese recipe (next, in a sec) that has zucchini and cauliflower hidden in it. Even though I like zucchini and cauliflower, I wouldn't have eaten them both with that meal...and anyway, I prefer mac and cheese! So when I make the recipes from this book, it's with the goal of having something yummy that also happens to be good for you.

10 January 2009

marinated grilled asparagus

Growing up I never ate asparagus - Mom didn't like it so she never made it for the family. I had it a few times in college and liked it alright, but then Aaron made it for my birthday dinner, and I was hooked. Even Mom liked it!

2 bunches of asparagus
1 bottle of Italian dressing
tbsp lemon juice (he never measured)
salt and pepper to taste

To figure out what part of the asparagus is good (since the ends can be very tough), grab each end and gently bend until it snaps. The top part is good, and toss the rest.

Take the asparagus and place in a large (gallon size) ziplock bag. Pour in the Italian dressing, and a squeeze of lemon juice, and a bit of salt and pepper. Close the bag, shake it all up, and then refrigerate for at least an hour (for best results leave overnight). Preheat your barbecue to high heat. Place asparagus on the grill for 2-3 minutes, turning often. There should be slight grill marks, but nothing too dark. Remove from grill and serve. (This does work on the stove as well, but nothing beats the taste off the barbecue.)

Greetings from Claremont, CA

Here's something from Weight Watchers - but don't let that put you off! It's fast, easy and really good.

CHICKEN WITH BROCCOLI AND GARLIC SAUCE (one serving)

1 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp minced garlic
4-oz boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into 1" pieces
pinch dried thyme
salt & pepper
1 cup frozen broccoli florets
1/2 c chicken broth
1 c cooked brown rice

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-heat. Add garlic; saute 1 minute. Season chicken with thyme, salt and pepper; add to skillet. Cook, stirring frequently until browned, about 3 minutes. Add broccoli cook for 1 min. (NOTE: I like my veggies crisp so I add it about 2 mins after adding the broth so it cooks for 3 mins.). Add broth, cover and cook 5 mins. Serve over rice.

To serve 4: increase quantities to: 4 tsp olive oil, 2 tsp garlic, 1lb chicken breast, 1 tsp dried thyme, 4 cups broccoli, 2 cups of broth, 4 cups of rice.

09 January 2009

Mac & Cheese

Throw away the box! I have only had boxed mac and cheese a few times in my life, mainly because I can't stand the stuff. So here is an excellent recipe for Mac and Cheese that is quick, easy, and most importantly, really good! - so no need for the nasty boxed stuff again.

Mac and Cheese (I believe it came from Alton Brown - I love him too!)

1/2 pound pasta (elbow, shells, or whatever type you prefer)
2 tablespoons butter
2 eggs
3/4 cup evaporated milk (I use rice milk when I don't want to open a can - regular milk works really well too - just depends on how creamy you want it)
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce - add as much or as little to your taste
1 tsp salt
Fresh black pepper
3/4 tsp dry mustard
10 oz cheddar, shredded

In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente and drain. Return to the pot and melt in the butter. Toss to coat. Whisk together the eggs, milk, hot sauce, salt, pepper, and mustard. Stir into the pasta and add the cheese. Over low heat continue to stir for 3 minutes or until creamy.

Want to add veggies? I often add in either pureed cauliflower, sweet potatoes, or butternut squash (just steam and puree in food processor) into the mac and cheese. You could also just add steamed/baked butternut squash cubes - it is a very good and healthy addition

Finally, someone I can share this with

Here it is folks. The best cooking purchase you will EVER make. And I say this with all sincerity.


http://www.acemart.com/prod6786.html

$29.95 and you have the chef knife that most chef’s use all across America and the standard for culinary institutes all over.






I love Shun’s. Now there is many a debate about what kind of knives you should own and I think that’s up to you and how you hold your knife and the tang you like. But here is a rough idea of what a Shun costs:




Ridiculous. Okay. So none of us are likely in a position to go out and buy these. So look again at what I have above and do not be fooled by its white plastic look and small price tag. It is amazing. And sharpen it before you use it each time and it will be your best friend in the kitchen. Plus there is no guilt when the cheap knife gets dinged or dropped or treated poorly. It still loves you back at 1/6th the cost of other professional knives (the one featured here is a santoku - my favorite style and cut for a knife, but thats my preference). But this isn't my favorite shun brand. I will spare you the details and knife love ...

One small piece of knife advice. No matter what you choose to buy look for this somewhere on the box or online in product info. NSF certified. This will make all the difference. And, the cheap knife has the certification. Don't ever go buy walmart garbage again.

Alton Brown is a god among men

First I admit without any shame, remorse, or minor scrapes to my pride, that I love ALTON BROWN. I am a food junkie and a Good Eats neophyte. I've done all in my power to take classes taught by Alton Brown and I love his science. If you don't know what I am talking about, go to a library and look him up and if you have cable (or know anyone with TiVo), have them or yourself watch GOOD EATS on the Food Network. And chances are, you'll be a dork just like me!

Center Cut Tenderloin Roast

(seriously the best roast I have ever had - and being LDS, I've had a lot)

Ingredients
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon freshly ground cumin
1 to 1 1/4-pound tenderloin roast cut from the center of the whole tenderloin
1 teaspoon vegetable oil

Directions
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
Combine kosher salt, black pepper, and cumin in a shallow dish.
Roll roast in seasonings, coating well.
Preheat a cast iron grill pan over high heat.
Once the pan is hot, brush the roast with the olive oil, and sear on all sides, approximately 8 to 10 minutes total cooking time.
Remove the roast to a plate, cover with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Place the roast back onto the grill pan, put in the oven and cook until it reaches an internal temperature of 135 degrees F, approximately 15 to 20 minutes.
Remove from the oven, wrap in foil, and allow to rest for 30 minutes before cutting.

(really the cooking usually takes considerably longer than this, so please use a meat thermometer)

NOTE: If you are willing to spend more time with this, here is the link to the episode transcript, not just the basic bare bones recipe.

http://www.goodeatsfanpage.com/GEFP/index.htm

in here he details how to choose the meet, cut it right, how to use your tools to the best of your and their abilities and so forth ... it is well worth the read and the struggle through transcripted humor - which can be very painful.

This recipe itself came from food networks recipe page. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/center-cut-tenderloin-roast-recipe/index.html

If you don't want to follow the transcript, pull up other reviews of the recipe and look at how people at home modified it. It will give you a middle ground to go at it. So delicious. So worth it.

08 January 2009

parmesan chicken

Martha Stewart again - Everyday Cooking, Jan/Feb 2007, page 100. It's "light" parm chicken because of how the breading is done - about 400 calories.

4 chicken breasts
2 slices of whole wheat sandwich bread
1 tbl grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp olive oil
1 egg white
flour
1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes in juice
1 garlic clove, minced
grated mozzarella cheese (part-skim lowfat)

1. In a food processor or blender, put the bread, Parm cheese, oil, and a small amount of salt and pepper. Pulse it until it's in large crumbs.

2. Put the egg white in a shallow bowl, and beat it with a fork until frothy.

3. Put the flour in a shallow bowl and mix in a little salt and pepper.

4. When coating the chicken, do only one side. Flour, then egg, then bread crumbs. Press down into the breadcrumbs to make sure they stick.

5. Put the oven rack towards the top of the oven. Bake the chicken on a foil-lined cookie sheet (with edges) at 425 for 10 minutes.

6. Remove from oven, sprinkle with grated mozzarella cheese, return to oven for just a couple more minutes.

7. While the chicken is baking, cook the tomatoes and garlic - bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer until it thickens.

8. When plating it, put tomatoes over the chicken.

I had it with a green salad and side of pasta - I did linguine noodles tossed with just olive oil and a little garlic powder. 4 for 50. I'm off to a good start!

pork with arugula and sauteed tomatoes

Okay, this one actually wasn't an ad in Martha Stewart ... aren't I cool! (Everyday Food, Jan/Feb 2007, page 96.)

PART 1 - pork
1. Use boneless pork loin chops - the recipe calls for 4, I used just 2.

2. Butterfly them by cutting each piece in half vertically, starting on the side without the fat and opening it like a book. Stop before you cut all the way through. Wrap the meat in Saran wrap, and pound it until it's about 1/4-inch thick.

3. On a plate, combine a small amount of flour, salt, and pepper. Coat each piece of meat with the flour.

4. Cook the chops one at a time in a skillet with olive oil. Because they're thin and flat, they cook in just a couple of minutes. Put on a plate and cover with foil to keep them warm while you're cooking the rest. Use 1 tsp of olive oil with each one.

PART 2 - sauteed tomatoes
Get a pint of grape tomatoes - cut them in half.

Saute the tomatoes in 1 tsp of olive oil until they're soft and just barely starting to get mushy. They're done.

PART 3 - arugula
Dressing: 2 tbl lemon juice, 1 tsp olive oil, slight amount of salt and pepper. Mix together.

Toss the dressing with the arugula greens. Optional - top the greens with shaved Parmesan (the real cheese, not the grated stuff in the green canister).

Extra notes - Of course I'm being "snobby" by having arugula because that's what Snob Barack Obama wanted to eat on the campaign trail (along with Dijon mustard. The shock of it!) Really, any salad greens or tomatoes would do - I just went along with the exact recipe for the heck of it. It was good! We like arugula!

Also, I made plain white rice as the side, with just butter and dried parsley sprinkled through it. With all of the more rich things (they did have a pretty strong taste), the rice was mild and a good addition.

3 for 50.

Orange Chicken

2 large chicken breasts, diced into bite-sized pieces
1 c flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 c milk (note: I used vanilla almond milk)
Vegetable oil (about 1/2 inch in your pan)
1-1/2 c orange juice
1/4 c honey (or more to taste)
1/2 tsp ginger
pinch of red pepper flakes

Heat veggie oil to medium to medium high heat. Mix flour, salt, and pepper in one bowl and pour milk in another. Dredge chicken in flour, dip in milk, then dredge again. Pan fry over medium to medium high heat 3-4 minutes on each side then set aside. After all the chicken is cooked, pour off all but 2 Tbs of oil, then add OJ and deglaze the pan. Add honey, ginger, and pepper flakes, then cook over medium heat until sauce is reduced by half. Pour sauce over chicken and serve over cooked rice and with stir-fry veggies on the side.

Note: This would work just fine if you have a deep fryer and made the sauce separately, but I don't have one so I pan fried the chicken.

super easy alfredo sauce

i *know* this isn't how italians do alfredo, but my family loved this every time i made it before we went dairy free. got it from a co-worker.

1 can evaporated milk (not sweetened condensed, just evaporated)
1 tsp garlic powder (or more to taste)
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbs cornstarch
1/3 c grated or shredded parmesan cheese

combine first 4 ingredients in a small sauce pan. cook over medium heat until thickened, stirring frequently. add the cheese and cook for another couple minutes. it'll melt and thicken the sauce more.

there ya go. if you try it, i hope you like it!

For those cold nights ...

Zuppa Toscana

2 lbs Italian sausage (I like mild)
5-6 large russet baking potatoes, sliced in half and then in 1/4 inch slices
2 medium white onions, chopped
1 pound smoked bacon - chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups kale, chopped
4 cans chicken broth (14.5 oz cans or 7 ½ cups)
2 quarts water
2 cups heavy whipping cream
salt and pepper - to taste
3 tsp crushed red peppers

1. Sautee Italian sausage and crushed red pepper in pot. Drain excess fat, refrigerate while you prepare other ingredients.
2. In the same pan, sauté bacon, onions and garlic for approximately 15 min. or until the onions are soft.
3. Mix together the chicken broth and water, then add it to the onions, bacon and garlic. Cook until boiling.
4. Add potatoes and cook until soft, about half an hour.
5. Add heavy cream and cook until thoroughly heated.
6. Stir in the sausage.
7. Add kale just before serving.


Mozzarella, Tomato & Pesto Bruschette

Serves: 3-6 Prep. Time: 0:20

1/4 cup butter - softened
4 cloves garlic - minced
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
(6) 1/2" slices Italian OR French bread, or ciabatta (I like ciabatta the best)
6 slices mozzarella cheese - trimmed to fit bread slices
3 Tbls. basil Pesto
(6) 1/4" slices Roma tomato
julienne fresh basil - to top

*if using ciabatta, cover with mozzarella and tomato, don't need to follow the exact slice ratio

-Mix butter with garlic and garlic powder.
-Spread butter mixture over bread slices.
-Place a slice of mozzarella on each piece of bread.
-Place a slice of tomato on each slice of mozzarella.
-Spread 1/2 Tbls. of Pesto over each slice of tomato.
-Place bread on a cookie sheet and bake in a 500 degree oven for 4 minutes, or until cheese has melted.
-Sprinkle basil over top.

Administrator note: She came up with these recipes herself through trial and error. Go Alisha! I'm not nearly so brave!

Raisin - PInenut Pasta

This is one of our favorite recipes. It has a light taste and you can add chicken, italian sausage or whatever meat you like, if you want.


3 quarts water
1 pound pasta – spaghetti
8 tbsp olive oil
6 garlic cloves, thickly sliced
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
1 cup raisins, soaked in 1 cup hot water for 20 minutes, drained, water discarded
½ cup pine nuts
4 tbsp chopped fresh Italian parsley
4 tbsp chopped fresh basil
½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
4 tbsp Italian Bread crumbs, toasted **
4 tbsp freshly grated Romano cheese

First get raisins soaking in the hot water for 20 minutes. Then do prep work while soaking. Bring the water for the pasta to a boil in a large pot. Add the pasta and cook until just tender.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a large sauté pan set on medium-high heat until sizzling, about 2 minutes. Stir in the garlic, red pepper flakes, raisins and pine nuts. Cook for 1-2 minutes until the pine nuts are brown and the raisins are puffed up like balloons. Remove from heat and stir in the parsley, basil, salt and pepper.

When the pasta is cooked, drain and return to the pot. Pour the sauce over the pasta and stir well. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and cheese, toss and serve. Its up to you!


We like to add the bread crumbs and cheese on our separate plates, you can individualize the taste that way.

03 January 2009

ham linguine

Another Martha Stewart "Everyday Food" magazine find (Jan/Feb 2007), and this one was also on an ad. I read this fancy-shmancy magazine to get recipes ... and use the ones in the advertising.

2 cups ham, chopped into medium-sized pieces
1 pound linguine
olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbl capers
1 cup peas, thawed if frozen
2 lemons - zest and juice
sea salt and black pepper
fresh mint
fresh basil

1. Cook pasta as usual.

2. Heat 2 tbl olive oil in skillet. Saute garlic first. Add ham and continue to saute until ham is warm. Add peas and capers, saute for another minute.

3. When the pasta is done and drained, add the pasta a little at a time to the skillet until the balance of pasta to ham/peas is the way you like it. Add lemon zest and juice, salt, pepper, 2 tbl of olive oil. Mix all together until heated through.

4. Remove from heat and toss with fresh mint and basil. Serve immediately.

Extra notes:
1. I used leftover ham from Christmas dinner and it worked great. I used only ONE lemon because the ham had originally been cooked with a pineapple glaze. Two lemons would have been way too much citrus.

2. I skipped the mint.

3. I actually used only about half the amount of pasta it called for to get the balance right. If you need to use the full box of pasta because of the size of your family or whatever, I recommend you add more ham and peas.

4. The ham and stuff in the skillet cooks very fast - you really can start the pasta first and then whip everything else together in the amount of time it takes to cook. That doesn't usually happen for me with cooking because I move pretty slowly.

2 for 50! And it's only Jan. 3rd!

02 January 2009

marinara sauce

I don't know how real Italians make marinara sauce, but this is how I do it. You can use this on spaghetti or any other kind of pasta, in lasagna, as pizza sauce, whatever. It's the all-purpose "Italian" red sauce for me ...

- one 15-oz can of tomato sauce and one 6-oz can of tomato paste. If you actually make your own sauce (you lucky dog!), use a 2-to-1 ratio of sauce to tomato paste. The paste is what makes it thick.
- Italian seasoning mix used liberally to taste. (I do not "sprinkle." I dump it.)
- just a little bit of salt
- 2 garlic cloves crushed (or however many you like)
- occasionally I add finely chopped onion, depending on what I'm using the sauce for.

Cook in a saucepan until everything is melded together and then use and/or freeze.

Regarding the Italian seasoning ... instead of buying the stuff already mixed together, I usually just use a list of spices and dump it in as I feel like it. One of these days, I'll experiment around with it to get a good balance and make my own "Italian seasoning mix" to keep in a jar so I don't have to buy the prepped stuff. Here are the dried herbs/spices I use:

parsley
basil
oregano
thyme
rosemary
savory
majoram
rubbed sage
black pepper

vegetarian lasagna

This was actually part of an ad for Glad containers in the Martha Stewart magazine "Everyday Food" (Oct. 2007).

olive oil
2 medium yellow squash, cut into 1/4 inch slices
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, large diced
1 large garlic clove, crushed
1 10-ounce bag spinach
1 15-oz jar marinara sauce
1 15-0z container ricotta cheese
coarse salt
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 pound fresh mozzarella, chopped
12 oven-ready lasagna noodles

1. Heat 2 tsp olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add squash in batches and cook until just tender. Transfer to a plate and put in the refrigerator to cool.

2. Heat another tsp olive oil in the skillet. Cook onion, bell pepper, garlic, and salt to taste. Cook until softened. Then add spinach a handful at a time and cook until just wilted. Transfer to a bowl and put in the refrigerator to cool.

3. At this point, the directions say to let the vegetables cool overnight - I didn't do that. I just put them in the freezer while I was getting the next stuff prepped.

4. Combine ricotta, basil, and salt to taste.

5. Put half of the sauce on the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish. Layer 1: 3 noodles, 1/3 of the ricotta mixture, the squash. Layer 2: 3 noodles, 1/3 ricotta, half of the spinach veggie mix. Layer 3: Same as layer 2. Layer 4: 3 noodles, the rest of the sauce over the top, mozzarella on top of everything.

6. Cover with foil. Bake at 375 for about 50 minutes. When it's done, let it sit for about 10 minutes before serving.

Extra notes:
1. Instead of 2 squashes, I used 1 squash and 1 zucchini just because I felt like it.

2. I didn't use fresh basil - I used dried and didn't measure it.

3. I do not use marinara sauce from a jar. I make my own. I'll put directions for that in the next post - it's really easy.

4. The marinara sauce is only on the bottom and the top. If you want sauce throughout, double the amount of sauce and add it with each layer. I thought it tasted fine the way it was - you didn't drown all the flavors of the various vegetables in tomato sauce. But it was a little dry, and Adam likes more sauce. So next time I'll add a little bit in the layers but not much.

This was a new recipe that I made tonight for dinner with the missionaries. 1 for 50 on the year.

01 January 2009

learning to cook

When I was a kid, my mom always told me that if I didn't learn to cook, I'd never get married. My response was, "Well, then I'm never getting married." Fortunately, I had the good sense to find and marry a food snob, and he had the good sense to force me to learn to cook when I quit working an office job to stay home with our kids.

So I set a goal to learn 50 new recipes. The rules were:

1. I had to make it correctly - if I screwed something up, I had to make it again before it counted.
2. If we didn't like it well enough to make it again in the future, it didn't count.

It took me a year and a half to do it - Sept. 06 to Feb. 08 - but I also had a 2nd baby in there. And now I have another goal to learn another 50 recipes but this time to do it inside of a year. That of course comes out to 1 per week with 2 weeks wiggle-room.