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Friday, December 31, 2010

Spaghetti Pie

I've seen spaghetti pie recipes numerous times. But they all use the spaghetti as a crust and then cover it will toppings like a pizza. The "crust" looks dry and unappealing so I've never tried it until I came across this recipe for Hillbilly Spaghetti Pie on Mommy's Kitchen. I chose to omit the name Hillbilly because that isn't a name that is synonymous with Texas. Southern yes, hillbilly no. Now that we have the official new name for this recipe, we can proceed with the goodness!!

Ingredients:
1/2 - cup onion, chopped
2 - tablespoons olive oil
1/2 - pound ground beef
1/2 - pound sweet Italian sausage
2-garlic cloves, minced
1 - (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1/4 - teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 - tsp Italian seasoning
1 - tablespoon sugar
1 - teaspoon salt (or to taste)
2 - cups water
8 - ounces thin spaghetti, broken into 3 inch pieces (not angel hair)
1/4 - cup heavy whipping cream
1 - teaspoon dried basil
1/2 - cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
2 - cups grated mozzarella cheese
large cast iron skillet or 9 x 13 in baking dish

Directions:Saute onion in 2 tablespoons olive oil, on medium heat 5 minutes. Add beef and sausage, brown over medium-hi heat. While almost brown, add garlic, Italian seasoning and oregano. I drained off the grease from the ground beef and sausage before continuing with the recipe. Once browned, stir in crushed tomatoes, water, sugar and salt. Add broken spaghetti. Push spaghetti into liquid, and cover for 8 minutes. After 8 minutes, stir pasta so the noodles won’t stick together. Reduce heat to medium low simmer for 6 more minutes until pasta is al dente (almost cooked but still a little firm). Add basil, Parmesan cheese, and cream, stir well. Sprinkle top with mozzarella cheese, put in oven to broil until spotty brown.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Meatloaf - PW Style

We were not big meatloaf eaters around here. Until now!!! This recipe has completely changed our minds. It is so unbelievable good!! No peppers or onions, a big bonus for this family (excluding me). This recipe is from Pioneer Woman and is to die for like everything else that I've made from her book and web site! I'm telling you, she is genius.
Ingredients

Meatloaf:
1 cup Whole Milk
6 slices White Bread
2 pounds Ground Beef
1 cup (heaping) Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
¼ teaspoons Seasoned Salt
¾ teaspoons Salt
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
⅓ cups Minced Flat-leaf Parsley
4 whole Eggs Beaten
10 slices Thin/regular Bacon

Sauce:
1-½ cup Ketchup
⅓ cups Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Dry Mustard
Tabasco To Taste

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour milk over the bread slices. Allow it to soak in for several minutes.

Place the ground beef, milk-soaked bread, Parmesan, seasoned salt, salt, black pepper, and parsley in a large mixing bowl. Pour in beaten eggs.

With clean hands, mix the ingredients until well combined. Form the mixture into a loaf shape on a broiler pan, which will allow the fat to drain. (Line the bottom of the pan with foil to avoid a big mess!)

Lay bacon slices over the top, tucking them underneath the meatloaf.

Make the sauce: add ketchup, brown sugar, mustard, and hot sauce in a mixing bowl. Stir together. Pour 1/3 of the mixture over the top of the bacon. Spread with a spoon.

Bake for 45 minutes, then pour another 1/3 of the sauce over the top. Bake for another 15 minutes. Slice and serve with remaining sauce.






Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Broiled Tilapia Parmesan

How do you get your family to eat fish?? I luckily came across a recipe on all recipes that makes it irresistible! I've changed it up a little... and it is awesome!!
Ingredients

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp butter, softened
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tsp fresh lime juice
1/8 teaspoon dried basil
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
dash onion powder
dash celery salt
5-6 tilapia fillets
Salt and Pepper

Directions
1.Preheat your oven's broiler. Line cookie sheet with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray.

2.In a small bowl, mix together the Parmesan cheese, butter, mayonnaise and lime juice. Add dried basil, pepper, onion powder and celery salt. Mix well and set aside.

3. Season fillets with salt and pepper and arrange in a single layer on the prepared pan. Broil a few inches from the heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the fillets over and broil for a couple more minutes. Remove the fillets from the oven and cover them with the Parmesan cheese mixture on the top side. Broil for 2 more minutes or until the topping is browned and fish flakes easily with a fork. Be careful not to over cook the fish.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Cranberry Cake

I'm a little late posting this, but it was a good cake so I wanted to include it. This recipe was the cake selected for December at the Cake Slice Bakers blog. My husband especially loved the tartness of the cake saying it cut the sweetness. I'm tellin' ya it was good! I kept going back for more...
Cranberry Cake from Cake Keeper Cakes

Ingredients
For the streusel:
1 cup sliced almonds
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 Tablespoons light brown sugar, packed

For the cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 bag (12 oz.) fresh cranberries

DirectionsMake the streusel: Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Grease a 10-inch round springform pan.

Combine the almonds, butter and brown sugar in a medium bowl. Work the mixture between your fingers to form large crumbs. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Make the cake: Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Combine the eggs and granulated sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on a medium high speed until the mixture is lightened and increased in volume, about 5 minutes.

With the mixture on low, add the butter in a slow stream. Turn the mixture to medium speed and beat for another 2 minutes. Stir in the vanilla.

Gently but thoroughly fold in the flour mixture, 1/2 cup at a time. Stir in the cranberries.

Scrape the batter into a prepared pan, smoothing the top with a spatula. Sprinkle the streusel over the batter. Bake the cake until it is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Release the sides of the pan and use a large spatula to slide the cake from the pan bottom to a wire rack. Cool completely, cut into wedges and serve.

Store uneaten cake in a cake keeper or wrap in plastic and store at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Buttermilk Pancakes

I think these are the best pancakes I have ever eaten... No, seriously!! They are so good. After a brief conversation at work over what made the weird taste in the pancakes we were eating at the moment I decided that I would test a couple of recipes. So I went to Tasty Kitchen on Pioneer Woman's web site and found something I wanted to work with. To be honest, I haven't tried the second recipe yet, because these are soooooooo good!
Ingredients:
1 cup all purpose flour
4 tsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
2 tbsp melted butter
1 tsp lemon juice
Directions:
Mix dry ingredient in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, mix wet ingredients. Heat skillet or gridle over medium high heat. Once heated, mix wet and dry ingredients together until just combined. Pour pancake mix in pan and cook until lots of bubbles apear, then flip. Cook second side for just about a minute. Once you get one of the pancakes done... taste it. Seriously, sneek a bite, they are so good! Enjoy!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Cinnamon Pudding Cake

This is the second cake for the Cake Slice Bakers Blog. The cake chosen for November is a Cinnamon Pudding Cake.
I wasn't sure what to expect from this cake. The reviews thus far were not that great... but this one turned out well! I send sweets with my husband to work often and he said they would eat this up!! (That's a good thing)
Ingredients
For the Caramel Topping
1 cup plus 2 tbsp packed light brown sugar
¾ cup water
1 tbsp unsalted butter
½ tsp salt
For the Cake
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
2½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
MMMM, look at that hot caramel!!!
Directions
Topping
Heat the oven to 350F. Spray the bottom and sides of an 8 inch square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
Combine the brown sugar, water, butter and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, whisking occasionally, then set aside to cool.

Cake
Combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a medium mixing bowl.

Combine the butter and granulated sugar in a large mixing bowl and cream with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes.

With the mixer on medium-low speed, add a third of the flour mixture to the bowl. Add half of the milk and the vanilla. Add another third of the flour, followed by the remaining milk and the rest of the flour. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat on medium speed for 30 seconds.

Scrape the batter onto the prepared pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Pour the topping over the batter (the pan will be very full). Carefully transfer the pan to the oven and bake until set, 45 to 50 minutes.

Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, invert it onto a large rimmed serving platter and serve warm.

Let any leftover cake cool completely before storing in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 day or in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Buttermilk Pie

First, I would like to thank everyone for the wonderful compliments on this pie. The recipe was given to me by a dear friend a loooooong time ago. It is a simple recipe to make, and apparently, ahem… a forgiving recipe. Even with the help of a 2 year old!
We will just pretend, with all that help… that I didn’t originally forget to add the sugar… wonder why the filling didn’t fill two pie shells… put the pies in the oven… only to realize about three minutes into the cooking time what I had done… pull the pies out… spill filling all over the inside of the door and in the bottom of my oven… pour the filling back in the bowl… add the sugar… wash the cookie sheet… refill the pie shells… and back into the oven, to end up with some very pretty and tasty pies…. see, a very forgiving recipe! And, you totally don’t have to go thru all of that. In fact, it's much easier if you remember all of the ingredients the first time :o)

Ingredients:
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 stick butter, melted
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 regular pie crust

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix ingredients together. Pour in pie shell and bake 40 minutes. Let cool completely before serving.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Pound Cake


Can I tell you how excited I am to have joined the Cake Slice Bakers!! The first recipe selected is appropriate for the impending fall-ish weather. (Come on Fall… come down to Texas, I can't wait for you to get here!!) And I am excited even further by the fact that I cooked my own pumpkin! (Not that you have to do that… just another one of those things I wanted to try). Anyways, this recipe is simple to throw together and delicious to boot! It goes perfect with a cup of coffee.

Ingredients:
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cloves
Pinch nutmeg
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup milk
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts

Directions:
Heat oven to 350F. Grease and flour a 9x5 inch loaf pan.
Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, cloves and nutmeg in a medium bowl.
Combine the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl and cream with an electric mixer on medium high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice as necessary.
With the mixer on medium low speed, add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Stir in the pumpkin puree and vanilla. Stir in the milk.
Turn the mixer to low speed and add the flour mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, scraping down sides after each addition. Stir in the chocolate chips and walnuts.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Bake the cake until it is firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 55 minutes to 1 hour. Let the cake cool in the pan for 5 minutes, invert it onto a wire rack and then turn it right side up to cool completely.
Store uneaten cake in a cake keeper at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator, wrapped in plastic for up to 1 week.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Sounds a little naughty doesn't it... Mmmmm, pumpkin and cream cheese. Tiny little pumpkin cakes filled with a delectable cream cheese frosting, and to top it off they were so super easy to make! Seriously, if I knew they were that easy I would have made them the first night I read the recipe.
I halved the original recipe (thank goodness) because it made A LOT! 
Ingredients:
For cakes
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1/2 Tbsp ground ginger
1/2 Tbsp ground cloves
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used canola)
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree, slightly chilled.
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
For filling
1/2 cup butter, softened
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. (Can I make a confession? I never preheat my oven at the beginning of a recipe. Seriously, how long does it take to warm up?? I usually turn it on just before I put the ingredients in the pan.)
Ok, back to our regularly scheduled baking... Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Wisk together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. In a separate bowl, wisk the sugar and oil together, then add pumpkin, egg and vanilla and wisk until well combined. Add the dry ingredients and mix well. Using a cookie scoop, place batter on cookie sheets, leaving at least an inch between each cake. Bake for 15 minutes. Let cakes cool completely on cookie sheets.
To make fillling, mix softened butter and cream cheese until well combined, add sugar and mix well, scraping sides if needed, then add the vanilla.
To assemble, put filling in a zip lock bag and cut the tip off of one corner. Turn half of the cakes so that the flat side is facing up. Top with filling, then place another cake on top. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes or up to one day. (of course we didn't wait that long to try them, but they were really good once they had been refrigerated!)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Fried Ravioli

Benvenuto Giada!
I am so excited that Giada is the chef we will be cooking from for the next six months over at I Heart Cooking Clubs!!! She is my absolute favorite celebrity chef. Over the years I've made many of her recipes and can't wait to make more. After browsing through some of her recipes over at the Food Network web site I settled on a simple but oh so delicious recipe of fried ravioli.
They were so good! And easy... and GOOD!! Mmmm, just looking at the picture makes me wish I has more.
Ingredients:
Olive oil, for frying
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups Italian-style bread crumbs
1 box store bought cheese ravioli
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Marinara sauce, heated, for dipping
Directions:
Pour enough olive oil into a large frying pan to reach a depth of 2 inches. Heat the oil over medioum heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 325 degrees.
While the oil is heating, put the buttermilk and the bread crumbs in separate shallow bowls. Dip ravioli in buttermilk to coat, allowing excess to drip back into bowl. Dredge ravioli in the bread crumbs. Place the the ravioli on a baking sheet and continue with the remaining ravioli.
When the oil is hot, fry the ravioli in batches, turning occasionally, until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the fried ravioli to paper towels to drain.
Sprinkle the fried ravioli with Parmesan and serve with a bowl of warmed marinara sauce for dipping.





Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Nutella Brownies

When I saw this recipe I just had to make them! I love nutella!! The recipe is so simple,only requiring four ingredents. Since nutella is a hazelnut spread it only makes since that the recipe would call for chopped hazelnuts, but my Wal-Mart doesn't sell them so I used slivered almonds. The recipe also says it makes 12 mini brownies, but I went a little light filling the cups and ended up with 15, which was a good thing since we had company for dinner. I found the recipe here.
Ingredients:
1/2 cup nutella
1 egg
5 Tbsp flour
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts (or almonds)
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Line 12 mini muffin tins. Mix first three ingredients and fill each cup 3/4 full. Top with chopped nuts and bake for 11 - 12 minutes. Set on a rack to cool completely.  Serve immediately or cover and store at room temperature for up to 3 days... Yeah, they would never last that long!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Mint Brownies

Oh, chocolate mint, how I love thee!! No really, I do!!

This is another Mark Bittman recipe to submit to IHCC. At the bottom of his recipes he always includes several "add in" suggestions and so to his basic brownie recipe I chose to add peppermint extract and mini chocolate chips. Brownies are so simple to make and the addition of peppermint and chocolate chips made these irresistible, so irresistible in fact that they just disappeared!!  I wish I would have made more, because I just keep thinking about how good they were… Hmmm, maybe tonight I'll make another batch and add a little almond extract and almonds.
Ingredients:
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus a little softened butter for the pan
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pepperment
Directions:
1. Heat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8- or 9-inch square baking pan with butter or line it with aluminumfoil and grease the foil.
2. Combine the butter and chocolate in a small saucepan over very low heat, stirring occasionally. When the chocolate is just about melted, remove from the heat and continue to stir until the mixture is smooth.
3. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and stir in the sugar. Then beat in the eggs, one at a time. Gently stir in the flour, salt, and vanilla. Pour and scrape into the prepared pan and bake until just barely set in the middle, 20 to 25 minutes. It's better to underbake brownies than to overbake them. Cool on a rack before cutting. Store, covered, at room temperature, for no more than a day.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Fresh Apple Cake

With Brown Sugar Glaze
So I mentioned previously that I came across this web site called Cake Slice Bakers from one of my favorite blogs to visit Lick the Bowl Good. After seeing several of the cakes… I went out and bought the cookbook they are currently cooking from, Southern Cakes.  It is well written with a little history from each of the recipes. This is the recipe posted for the month of September and since it got such rave reviews, I really wanted to try it!
Ingredients:
Fresh Apple Cake
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp baking sodaa
1 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla
3 cups finely chopped apples
1 cup chopped walnuts
Brown Sugar Glaze
1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp heavy whipping cream
Directions:
Heat oven to 350. Grease a 9x13 cake pan (I floured mine too). In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt, and wisk everything together.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs with a wooden spoon until pale yellow and foamy. Add the oil and vanilla, and beat well. Stir in flour mixture with wooden spoon and continue stirring just until the flour disappears. Add the apples and nuts, and scrape the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake for 45 - 50 minutes until cake is golden brown and springs back when lightly touched. Place cake on a wire rack.
Make the glaze while the cake is hot. Combine all the ingredients in a medium sauce pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until mixture comes to a gentle boil, and cook for 3 to 5 minutes.
Spoon the glaze over the hot cake and let cake cool completely.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

My husband is totally a Velveeta guy. He will choose processed american melty cheese over anything else. And I do mean anything… in addition to macaroni and cheese, he wants it on nachos, melted in scrambled eggs, and even Philly Cheese Steak! (Personally, Velveeta mac & cheese is my favorite too, but it's not the only cheese out there right!?!?) So… I knew he wasn’t going to be thrilled about this recipe, but I really wanted to give baked Macaroni and Cheese another shot. When I've tried to make it in the past it has been dry and not very flavorful and well…. dry.
And the results were…     
not bad!
I dont think it will replace our beloved velveeta but it is a nice change. This is a Mark Bittman recipe and I am submitting this to IHCC Pot Luck.
Ingredients:
21/2 cups milk
2 bay leaves
1 pound elbow, shell, ziti, or other cut pasta
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
11/2 cups grated cheddar
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup or more bread crumbs, preferably fresh

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it.
2. Cook the milk with the bay leaves in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. When small bubbles appear along the sides, about 5 minutes later, turn off the heat and let stand.
3. Cook the pasta to the point where it is almost done but you would still think it needed another minute or two to become tender. Drain it, rinse it quickly to stop the cooking, and put it in a large bowl.
4. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter; when it is foamy, add the flour and cook, stirring, until the mixture browns, about 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaves from the milk and add about 1/4 cup of the milk to the hot flour mixture, stirring with a wire whisk all the while. As soon as the mixture becomes smooth, add a little more milk and continue to do so until all the milk is used up and the mixture is thick and smooth. Add the cheddar and stir.
5. Pour the sauce over the noodles, toss in the Parmesan, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Use the remaining 1 tablespoon butter to grease a 9 x 13-inch or similar-size baking pan and turn the pasta mixture into it. Top liberally with bread crumbs and bake until bubbling and the crumbs turn brown, about 15 minutes. Serve piping hot.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Pizza Puffs

After School Snack
I made the perfect after school snack for my boys first day back. To make them a little healthier I used turkey pepperoni, low fat mozzarella and skim milk. I found this recipe on one of my favorite blogs. She is a neighbor living in Texas which is kinda funny since Texas is HUGE! So she probably doesn’t live anywhere close to here but that's ok :o)
I also discovered The Cake Slice Bakers from her site (More on that later though). So, back to the Pizza Puffs. My kids loved these!! They are simple to throw together and freeze wonderfully.

Ingredients:
3/4 c flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1Tbsp Italian seasoning
pinch of salt
3/4 c milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 c mozzarella cheese
1/4 c parmesan cheese
1 c mini pepperoni

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray mini muffin pan with non stick cooking spray. Whisk together flour, baking powder, seasoning and salt. Add remaining ingredients, mix well and let stand for 10 minutes. Fill pan and bake 20-25 minutes. Serve with pizza sauce.
**Note: I've also made these replacing the pepperoni with Italian Sausage, yum!!

Freezer Cooking

Have I ever mentioned how overwhelmingly, hecticly busy my life is? With three kids, a full time job (with an hour commute each way), household chores, horses and homework, baths, boo boo's, sharing, it's not fair, I had it first, what's for diner, I dont want to eat that, can I have a cookie... I could go on and on. My stress level it close to 10 most of the time, and the one thing I really want to do, I mean REALLY, REALLY enjoy doing is making goodies. But I rarely find time to do that. There is something about making something from scratch. Reading recipes, trying new things, buying groceries, mixing ingredients, cooking, baking and the best part... the oohs and aahs. The imense pleasure of knowing that someone is enjoying what I made!!
So...

to create a little "me time" I'm going to stock my freezer with lots of home cooked meals. Instead of worring about whats for dinner, I can throw something in the oven and then...
MAKE A SWEET, TRY A NEW RECIPE, or BLOG!!!

Have you ever heard of OAMC? Once a month cooking. I came across it last year, and liked the idea. I did it for several months and it was really a time saver. There was always something available. There are several reasons for this type of cooking. To save money or in my case, to save time.

Happy Cooking!
Sweetie

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Chicken Gumbo

The okra is in great abundance right now in my in-laws garden. Funny thing is... my husband is the only one that will eat it in our family. I love to cook with fresh ingredients though, so I make many dishes with the odd little green vegetable.
Chicken Gumbo

Ingredients:
2 Tbsp oil
2 Tbsp flour
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 med bell pepper, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (14.5 oz) can chicken broth
1 1/2 cups sliced fresh okra
1 tsp cajun seasoning
1 lb chicken breast or thigh meat
Salt and Pepper

Directions:
Heat oil in a large sauce pan over med-high heat until hot. Wisk in flour and stir constantly for five minutes until mixture turns medium brown. Stir in onions, celery and bell pepper, cook five more minutes, stirring frequently, until softened. Add chicken, season with salt and pepper and cook until no longer pink. Next add garlic; cook for 30 seconds, then add tomatoes, broth, okra and seasoning and mix well.
Reduce heat to low, partially cover and cook for 30 more minutes.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Rice Pilaf

I'm back!! I am submitting this to IHCC. I haven't participated in a while... in fact I haven't cooked anything new lately. But I needed a side dish to go with my Tilapia, and I new Mark Bittman would have something to fit the bill.
The rice turned out so flavorful and he has a ton of different options. The recipe is very versitle!

Ingredients
2 to 4 tablespoons butter or extra virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 chopped carrot
1 1/2 cups rice, preferably basmati
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 cups stock
Chopped fresh parsley leaves for garnish

Directions
1. Put 2 tablespoons of the butter or oil in a large, deep skillet with a lid over medium-high heat. When the butter is melted or the oil is hot, add the onion. Cook, stirring, until the onion softens, about 5 minutes.

2. Add the rice all at once, turn the heat down to medium, and stir until the rice is glossy, completely coated with butter or oil, and starting to color lightly, about 5 minutes. Season well with salt and pepper, then turn the heat down to low and add the stock all at once. Stir once or twice, then cover the pan.

3. Cook until most of the liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Turn the heat to the absolute minimum (if you have an electric stove, turn the heat off and let the pan sit on the burner) and let rest for another 15 to 30 minutes. Add the remaining butter or oil if you like and fluff with a fork. Taste and adjust the seasoning, fluff again, garnish, and serve.

Recipe by Mark Bittman - How To Cook Everything

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Pineapple Burger Sliders

Have you ever had a pineapple burger? A big thick burger filled with a ring of pineapple and a special sauce.
This is a delicious memory from my childhood. My mom made them and they are so easy… however, when I tried to recreate this memory my burgers turned out dry and flavorless (excluding the pineapple and sauce in the middle). So I decided to change it up a bit. I made these first as meatballs and then when I came across Sweet Hawaiian rolls and a slider maker thingy… it's like it was meant to be! Sweet, Simple and Delicious!!!
Ingredients
1 lb ground beef (I use 85/15)
I small can crushed pineapple, drained
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup mustard
Salt and Pepper
Sweet Hawaiian Rolls

Directions
Mix molasses, ketchup and mustard to create a sauce. Pour half of sauce into a large bowl, then add pineapple, ground beef, salt and pepper and combine ingredients together but do not over mix. Shape small burgers and cook in a skillet until completely cooked through basting with sauce towards the end.
Slice each roll in half, fill with a mini burger, top with additional sauce and Voila!! A super addictive, satisfyingly sweet and savory slider! Enjoy one or two or three… I won't tell ;-)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Another chocolate chip cookie recipe… it reminds me of a line in the movie Aladdin "another suitor for the princess". The mundane process of mixing, scooping and baking… the time consuming work that results in a good cookie, but not the perfect cookie.
But… I'm gonna keep trying them until I get it right. I have this idea in my head of what the perfect cookie should be. The taste, texture, color, etc… and this one is closer than any other I've tried. It's a really good cookie; a chewy cookie which is the only thing that keeps it from being perfect.

The taste - Delicious! The appearance - very appetizing!! The Texture… well, chewy... so if you like that kind of thing!!

Ingredients:
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
12 oz chocolate chips
parchment paper


Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Beat butter and sugars at medium speed in a stand mixer until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla, beating until creamy.
Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a small mixing bowl; gradually add to butter mixture, beating just until blended. Beat in chocolate chips just until combined. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto parchment paper lined baking sheets.
Bake at 350 for 10 to 14 minutes. Remove to wire racks and cool completely.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Tex-Mex Squash Casserole

The only squash casserole I ever knew existed consisted of sauteed onions and squash, saltine crackers and sliced american cheese. I mean, don't get me wrong... I love the stuff, but when I came across this recipe I just had to try it!!

Please pardon the terrible picture. It does nothing more than show you how amazingly cheesy this casserole is. To be honest, grabbing the camera was an afterthought.

This casserole was wonderfully full of flavor and did I mention cheesy?? I love cheese. The real stuff that you painstakingly shred yourself, not the weird bagged stuff. I hope you try it and enjoy it as much as we did!

note: it was spicy (which was perfect for us)

Tex-Mex squash casserole

Ingredients:
2 yellow squash and 2 zucchini, cut into coins (4 cups)
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, diced
2 tablespoons of butter
1 can of Ro-Tel
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon of cumin
1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 cup of chicken or vegetable broth
2 tablespoons of flour
1/2 cup of half and half
1/2 cup of sour cream
1/2 cup of cilantro, chopped
2 cups total of grated pepper jack and cheddar
2 cups crushed tortilla chips
Salt and pepper to taste



Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Heat the butter in a large skillet on medium heat. When melted, add the squash, onion and jalapeno, and sauté until onions are translucent and the squash is soft, about ten minutes.

Add the garlic, cumin, chili powder, cayenne, salt, pepper and cook for a minute. Then stir in the flour and cook until a light-brown paste forms, about a minute.

Now add the broth and tomatoes and stir until the mixture thickens, which should happen in a couple of minutes. Add the half and half, sour cream and cilantro and turn off the heat.

In a greased casserole dish, layer the bottom with the crushed tortilla chips. Pour on top of the chips the creamy squash mixture and then cover the whole dish with the grated cheese.
Cook uncovered for thirty minutes.
 
Recipe found here.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Fried Rice

This recipe does not replace the rice from our favorite restaurant, but it's good. Really good... and my kids love it so it's a keeper! I found it on Our Best Bites, and changed it just a little to fit our taste.


Ingredients:
6 cups cold cooked rice
4 tbsp butter
1/4 cup minced red onion
2 tbsp chopped green onion
1/4 tbsp minced garlic
1/4 cup chopped carrot
4 tbsp soy sauce

Seasoning:
1 tbsp dried onion
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp celery salt
1 1/2 tps sugar

First mix the seasonings and put in an airtight container (note: it makes way more than you need... the first time I made this I used WAY TO MUCH). Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat and saute onions and carrots until tender, then add garlic and saute for another 30 seconds. Next add rice and soy sauce and then season to taste.

Hmmm, what should I try to make next??? Maybe Lo Main?



Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Broccoli and Beef

I have been devastated since our favorite Chinese food restaurant closed a couple of years ago. We've searched the area looking for something, anything that measures up... but no luck thus far :( and to add insult to injury... I cannot recreate any of our favorite dishes. I mean not even close! I can cook Mexican exceptionally well and Italian practically flawlessly (well, it's pretty good) but I have yet to find any good Chinese recipes... until now.


This recipe was simple and delicious! (tomorrow I'll share the fried rice recipe pictured)

Ingredients:
1 1/4 lb Steak (I used a flat iron steak)
1 tsp ginger
2 tsp sugar
6 tbsp soy sauce
4 tsp cornstarch
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 bag frozen broccoli

Directions:
Slice steak, against the grain, in to thin slices. Mix ginger, sugar, soy sauce and cornstarch in a large bowl. Add the sliced steak, making sure its all coated and let stand for 10 minutes. Heat oil in a large skillet and pour marinated meat in the pan. Once meat is cooked, add broccoli and cook until heated through.

ENJOY!!!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Ruben Sandwich

Here is a super quick recipe for a delicious sandwich.


Ingredients:
Rye Bread (Pictured is Russian Rye, but any will work)
Turkey Pastrami
Swiss Cheese
Sauerkraut
Mayonase
Mustard
Butter

Directions:
Heat Sauerkraut in a pan to warm and dry the liquid so that your sandwich is not soggy. Next, assemble the sandwiches. Take two slices of bread, two slices of swiss cheese and two to three slices of pastrami, depending on the thickness. Spread mayonase on one slice of bread and mustard on the other, then cover one slice with a piece of cheese followed by pastrami, sauerkraut, another slice of cheese and the topped with the final slice of bread. Butter the outside of the sandwich and heat in a pan until bread is toasted and cheese is melted.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Banana Pancakes

Hmmmm... What can I do with this one lonely banana???
I need two for banana bread and three for banana cake... Oh, I know!! Banana pancakes!! Yummmm! They are so good, and easily made with stuff you probably already have!
Now you can cook these on a non stick pan or griddle (this is what I usually do), but for a really heavenly treat, melt a tablespoon of butter in the pan before you pour your batter and then sprinkle chopped pecans over the uncooked batter and finally top with pure maple syrup. I swear, it taste like butter pecan ice cream.
Now, let's get cookin. First you'll need one of these little helpers.
They are invaluable for mashing bananas, stirring eggs and pouring things!
Ingredients
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 ripe banana, mashed
1 egg
2 tbsp butter, melted
1/4 cup pecans (optional)

Directions
Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add wet ingredients and beat with a wire whisk just until smooth. Stir in pecans.

Heat lightly buttered griddle to 350 degrees or a skillet over med/high heat. Spread 1/4 cup batter onto pan. Cook until bubbles form (2-3 min). Turn pancakes and continue cooking until brown. Serve with butter and syrup.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Smores... on a stick


I love to make goodies for my kids. I just imagine how excited their little faces will be when they see the assorted sweets and treats. So I had pretzel rods, marshmallow and chocolate, and this really cute idea... but things don't always work out the way you imagine them. The original idea was doomed from the get go... A stressful trip to the store where we forgot the dipping components... an unsuccessful attempt putting more than one sticky marshmallows on a pretzel and a crying toddler... put them all together and I had a recipe for disaster. I should have just stopped while I was ahead, but I didn't... and I'm glad! The end result of toasted marshmallow covered in sweet chocolate and a touch of graham crackers were oh so tasty, borderline addictive... and surprisingly not very messy!!



Ingredients
Pretzel Rods
Large Marshmallows
Dipping Chocolate (almond bark, candy melts, etc.)
Graham Crackers, crushed



Directions
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Break each pretzel in half, then using a chop stick, or something similar in size, poke a beginner hole in one end of a marshmallow. Next, carefully work marshmallow onto the broken end of the pretzel (this seems like it would be so easy... but it's not) and lay the it on the baking sheet being careful not to let them touch.
 
 Once your sheet is full, or your tired of working with those pesky marshmallows turn the oven on to broil and place the pan in leaving the oven door open enough to watch them. And watch... seriously, it only takes about a minute... if that. Once they are toasted on the first side carefully turn them over and toast the other side. Place toasted marshmallows in the refrigerator to cool while you crush the graham crackers and melt the chocolate. Now carefully dip the cooled marshmallows in chocolate in roll in graham crackers then put them back in the fridge for a few minutes to harden... remove and enjoy... and try not to be too hard on yourself for giving up on those marshmallows and not making more... Your gonna want more!!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Chocolate Lime Cheesecake

This week's theme at IHCC is Going Green...


So my first though, of course, was how am I going to make green chocolate??? Well... just leave it to Nigella to have a recipe for Chocolate Lime Cheesecake!! You cant get any greener than a lime, right? Thank you Nigella!!
Ingredients
7 ounces chocolate wafer cookies
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 pound cream cheese (recommended: Philadelphia)
1 cup sugar
4 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
4 limes, juiced or 3/4 cup
Special equipment: spring form pan

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place a large overlapping piece of aluminum foil over the bottom of the springform pan, and then insert pan ring over it. Fold the foil extra foil up and around the pan and place the whole thing on a second piece of foil, also folding it and pressing it securely around the pan, having a water tight covering.

In a food processor, process cookies until they are crumb-like, add melted butter and continue to process. Pour crumb mixture into springform pan and press with your fingers to line the pan. Place the pan in the refrigerator to set while you prepare the cheesecake.

Place a kettle of water on for water bath. In a food processor beat the cream cheese until smooth, add the sugar, eggs, egg yolks, and lime juice.

Take crumbed pan from the refrigerator and place it in a roasting pan. Pour the cheesecake mixture into the crumb pan, and then carefully pour the hot kettle of water into the roasting pan so the water reaches 1/2 way up the pan so the water does not splash into cheese cake.

Place roasting pan in oven for 1 hour, checking after 50 minutes. It should feel set, but still wobbly in the center. Take the roasting pan out of the oven, carefully remove the springform pan from the roasting pan and place it on a rack. Peel off the outer layer of foil, and tear away the side bits of the first layer of foil and leave the pan to cool. Once the cake comes to room temperature, place it in the refrigerator for 20 minutes before serving. Transfer to the plate you're going to serve it on, a plate without a lip, or a cake stand. Unclip the springform pan and remove the outer part. Carfully lift the cheesecake removing the metal bottom. The aluminum foil can stay on the cake. Serve chilled.

Original recipe found here.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Chocolate Croissants


I'm so excited to finally get to participate in IHCC this week! It has been crazy busy around here, and I haven't had a chance to find a recipe, get to the store and make stuff in quite a while. The theme this week "Tea Time" and while I dont drink hot tea this recipe goes equally well with a good cup of coffee. I chose Nigella's Chocolate Croissants because well... I love chocolate... and I already had everything I needed.

Ingredients
1 package butter puff pastry
chocolate chips
1 egg beaten

Directions
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Open the sheet of pastry and then cut it into 6 squares.

Cut each square diagonally to give 2 triangles. Put the triangle with the wider part facing you and the point away from you.
Sprinkle about half a teaspoon of chocolate chips on each triangle.

Then carefully roll from that chocolate loaded end towards the point of the triangle.

You should now have something resembling a straight croissant, seal it slightly with your fingertips and curl it around into a crescent.

Place the chocolate croissants on a lined baking tray and paint with the beaten egg. Bake for 15 minutes until golden and puffy.

Original recipe found here.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Crock Pot Spaghetti

I have a full time job and an hour commute each way so with what little time I have left in my day I love to cook recipes like this! (not to mention that it's good) I mean is there anything better after a long day than coming home to a home cooked meal. It has a combination of hamburger, italian sausage, cute little peperoni and noodles cooked in the sauce rather than water which makes them extra flavorful. Oh yeah, it has mushrooms too... which are totally gross... fungus... yuck, but my sweetie loves them so there they are... for his enjoyment.
1 lbs ground beef
1 lb italian sausage
1/2 6oz pkg sliced pepperoni
1 cup chopped onions
2 cloves minced garlic
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
2 tsp italian seasoning
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 lb sliced fresh mushrooms
4.5 cups tomato juice
24 oz dry spaghetti broken into 4-5 inch pieces
grated Parmesan cheese

Directions
1. Brown and drain ground chuck and italian sausage.
2. Combine all ingredients except spaghetti and parmesan cheese in a large crockpot
3. Cover. Cook on low 6-8 hrs, or high 3-5 hrs. Turn to high during the last 30 to 40 mins and stir in dry spaghetti. If the spaghetti is not done to your desired degree of doneness let it cook another 10 mins.
4. Sprinkle individual servings with parmesan cheese and serve.

Original Recipe found Here.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Jen's Lasagna

This is a spouse pleasin, kid pleasin, pan filling simply good lasagna recipe, and anything that is good enough for my picky little kids to clean their plates must be shared with the masses. Thanks for the recipe Jen!!

Ingredients
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 26 oz can spaghetti sauce (I used Hunts traditional)
1 15 oz container ricotta cheese
1 24 oz container cottage cheese
2 cups mozzarella (Jen uses Monterey Jack which melts beautifully)
12 lasagna noodles
Garlic Salt
Italian Seasoning
Salt
Pepper

Directions
Preheat oven to 350. Boil noodles per package directions. Brown ground beef, drain fat, add sauce and season to taste. Mix ricotta, cottage cheese, 1/2 cup of mozzarella and season again to taste. Put just a little of the meat sauce down in a greased 9x13 pan. Place four lasagna noodles in the bottom of the pan, overlapping each noodle a little. Next, cover with 1/3 of the cheese mixture, then 1/3 of the meat sauce. Noodles, cheese, sauce, noodles, cheese, sauce and finish with the remaining 1 1/2 cups of mozzarella and bake for 45 minutes. Let lasagna sit for 5 min before serving.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Peanut Butter Pie

From time to time I send some of the goodies I make to work with my darling husband.



One of his co-workers asked if I had ever made a peanut butter pie... and, up until now I had'nt. Believe it or not, with three kids under the age of 12 in the house we do not eat a lot of peanut butter so it is not a recipe that I would even consider. But I came across this recipe on Homesick Texan and thought I'd give it a try.

Peanut Butter Pie

Filling ingredients:
2 egg yolks, beaten slightly
1 1/2 cups of milk
3/4 cups of sugar
5 tablespoons of flour
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
¾ cup of peanut butter
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cayenne

Meringue ingredients:
2 egg whites
1/8 teaspoon of salt
4 tablespoons of sugar
Your favorite pie crust.

Directions:
In a pot, whisk together the eggs, milk, sugar, flour and salt. While stirring, cook on medium heat until it bubbles and thickens, about five to 10 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla, cinnamon, cayenne and peanut butter.
Meanwhile, poke holes in your pie crust with a fork and bake it at 350 until it’s brown, about 20 minutes.
Beat your egg whites with salt and when they start to get fluffy add the sugar.
Pour the peanut butter custard into the baked pie shell and top with the beaten egg whites.
Bake pie until peaks on the meringue are lightly browned, about 10 minutes.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Banana Pudding

Did you know that banana pudding is not made from a box???


Because I didn't, for the first 24 years of my existence. Then one day at work (a long time ago) we had a baby shower and someone brought banana pudding... Oh, I was in love. I had to know how to make it, I had to make it so that I could eat it... any time I wanted to. I can't believe I never knew about this!?!? To answer your question... yes, I must have been living under a rock. This is not a quick recipe. You have to stand and stir but it is worth the effort, I promise! The results are amazing!

Banana Pudding

Ingredients
Pudding
1 cup sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1 dash salt
2 tbsp cornstarch
2 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla
3-4 bananas, sliced
Vanilla Wafers

Sweetened Whipped Cream
1 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Directions
Mix sugar and eggs in a saucepan, then add cornstarch, salt and milk and wisk until well combined. Bring mix to a boil over med-high heat stirring constantly until thick. (10-20min)

Remove from heat, add vanilla and mix well.

Layer wafers, bananas and pudding, then let cool while you make your whipped cream.

Place mixing bowl in freezer to chill. Once the bowl is nice and cold pour the cream in and mix on high speed until it begins to thicken. Add sugar and vanilla and continue beating until stiff peaks form.

 Cover banana pudding with whipped cream and top with crushed vanilla wafers. Now comes the hard part... waiting. Oh why do I have to wait!! Cover the pudding with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a least a couple of hours to give the cookies time to soften.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Caribbean Creams

I love all things tropical. This is simple to throw together and delicious!



INGREDIENTS
6oz coconut yogurt
6oz double cream
1 tablespoon coconut rum, Pariot Bay is my favorite
1 banana
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
Toasted Coconut

Directions 
Stir together the yogurt and cream with the rum, and whisk until slightly thickened.
Slice the banana and then divide the slices between four 125ml-ramekins to form a layer at the bottom of each one.
Spoon in the thickened yogurt and cream mixture, filling the ramekins equally.
Sprinkle about 11/2 teaspoons of sugar over each ramekin, then wrap them in clingfilm, and place in the fridge overnight or for the day.
Sprinkle with toasted coconut and enjoy!!

ADDITIONAL INFO
You need to make these the morning of the evening you want to eat them (or the day before, if that’s easier for you), but they take no more than 5 minutes to prepare.
 
Original Recipe by Nigella Lawson

Friday, February 26, 2010

Lasagna Rolls


Can you ever have too much of a good thing? I love Italian food and this is a good thing!! This is a pretty simple recipe of lasagna noodles filled with prosciutto, spinach and cheese tucked in a creamy béchamel sauce then covered with marinara and more cheese... I had you at béchamel didn't I!! I love to say béchamel, it sounds so sophisticated... So foodie! This recipe is sophisticated in flavor yet simple to make and requested quite often.

Ingredients
Sauce:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Pinch ground nutmeg

Lasagna:
1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta cheese
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed dry
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
3 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, chopped
1 large egg, beaten to blend
3/4 teaspoon salt, plus more for salting water
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
12 uncooked lasagna noodles
2 cups marinara sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella (about 4 ounces)

Directions
To make the sauce: Melt the butter in a heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the flour and whisk for 3 minutes. Whisk in the milk. Increase the heat to medium-high. Whisk the sauce until it comes to a simmer and is thick and smooth, about 3 minutes. Whisk the salt, pepper, and nutmeg into the bechamel sauce.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Whisk the ricotta, spinach, 1 cup Parmesan, prosciutto, egg, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl to blend.

Add a tablespoon or 2 of oil to a large pot of boiling salted water. Boil the noodles until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain. Arrange the noodles in a single layer on a baking sheet to prevent them from sticking.

Butter a 13-by-9-by-2-inch glass baking dish. Pour the bechamel sauce over the bottom of the prepared dish. Lay out 4 lasagna noodles on a work surface, then spread about 3 tablespoons of ricotta mixture evenly over each noodle. Starting at 1 end, roll each noodle like a jelly roll. Lay the lasagna rolls seam side down, without touching, atop the bechamelsauce in the dish. Repeat with the remaining noodles and ricotta mixture. Spoon 1 cup of marinara sauce over the lasagna rolls. Sprinkle the mozzarella and remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmesan over the lasagna rolls. Cover tightly with foil. Bake until heated through and the sauce bubbles, about 20 minutes. Uncover and bake until the cheese on top becomes golden, about 15 minutes longer. Let stand for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the remaining marinara sauce in a heavy small saucepan over medium heat until hot, and serve alongside.

Original recipe by Giada De Laurenttiis found here.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Crab Cakes

Several years ago a local restaurant advertised crab cakes. They advertised, I asked to go, he said no. They'd advertise more, I'd ask again to go, and he'd say no. This went on for weeks until, finally, I wore him down. We went and I was very disappointed. Perhaps it was because of all the anticipation that I had built up, I'm not really sure but that disappointment prompted me to create my own. My first and most important adjustment would be to omit the red bell pepper. I played around with the recipe and what I came up with and received rave reviews from my toughest critics!!

Ingredients:
2 cans crab meat
1/2 cup bread crumbs (may need more if batter is too wet)
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp old bay seasoning
1 tsp dried parsley
2 tbsp helmans mayonnaise
2 egg whites
 
Directions:
Drain crab meat. Mix all ingredients together and pan fry until golden brown.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Cowboy Beans

I don't know about you but, growing up, beans were a weekly occurrence around our house (I wasn't a fan), and if you asked my husband he might exaggerate and say that they had to eat them every day! (though I'd guess he's not exaggerating much) As a child, there's nothing fun about a bowl full of stupid little beans... boring, blah, yuck! But, beans have great nutritional value, they are inexpensive and easy to make, and now that I am grown up I can appreciate them.


I've had many opportunities to eat beans at his parent's house. One version my mother in law makes is cowboy beans. She cooks onion and ground beef and then adds it to the pot of beans along with a can of rotel. I've taken that idea and doctored it up into something not only palatable but delicious and oh so easy! Of course if you're feeling particularly productive that day you could fry up some cabbage and potatoes to round out the perfect comfort meal!!

Cowboy Beans

Ingredients:
1lb bag dried pinto beans
1lb meat (See choices below)
1/2 can rotel (again, see below)
1 tbsp salt (plus more to taste)
2 tsp pepper
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp red pepper flakes
8-12 cups water
Directions:
Rinse and sort beans (yep, I've found rocks in there before). Then put everything in a crock pot, give it a stir and turn on low for 8-10 hours. When you get home dinner is magically ready and you can spend more time on the stuff you love... like blogging!!
Meat choices: Steak, brisket, sausage, ground beef w/onions, etc.

Note: Any time we eat steak, brisket, or BBQ... you can pretty much guess what we're having for dinner the next night. Also, when I find hamburger on sale I'll buy at least 10lbs, pre cook it (some with onions, some without) and separate it into 1lb bags to freeze. Perfect for meals like this!

Rotel: a whole can of rotel is a little too spicy for the kids so I use half and put the other half in a small freezer bag for future use... such as chicken spaghetti.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Baked Hot Chocolate

Happy Birthday to me! I saw this recipe a while back and knew I wanted to make it. Chocolate is the best stuff on earth what better day to try this rich decadent dessert.


Baked Hot Chocolate

Ingredients

9 ounces 60% semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
4 large eggs
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Whipped cream

Directions:

1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Arrange ovenproof coffee cups or mugs or 8-ounce ramekins in a baking or roasting pan.

2. Place the chocolate and butter in the top of a double boiler set over gently simmering water, and whisk occasionally until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove from the heat and set aside.

3. Stir the eggs and sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer then set over the simmering water and stir until warm to the touch. Place the bowl on the stand mixer and, using the whisk attachment, beat for 3 to 5 minutes until light and fluffy. Remove from the mixer, and fold the eggs into the chocolate mixture until it is light and smooth.

4. Spoon the batter into the cups. Add enough very hot water to the baking pan to come halfway up the sides of the cups. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. The baked hot chocolates will be done when the tops lose their glossy finish. A wooden skewer inserted in the top will emerge clean, but batter toward the bottom of the cup will still be very moist.

5. Carefully remove the cups from the pan. The cakes can be served warm, at room temperature, or covered and refrigerated for up to 1 day. To reheat, bring to room temperature and place in a preheated 350-degree F oven for 5 minutes, or until warm.

6. Serve topped with a dollop of whipped cream. (as you can see from the picture... I couldn't wait that long, but I'm sure it would be really good)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Snow Day Chili

Crap! I forgot the chili seasoning packet. I wanted something to warm us up when we came back in from the snow. Thats right, I said SNOW!! We are in Texas and we got a snow day! That never happens... ok, rarely happens.
But I have never seen this much snow... EVER! You see we broke a record getting 12 inches in one day. The previous record was like 7 inches set back in 1964 or something... but it doesn't matter. All that matters is that its here for a very limited amount of time and my sweeties will be playing out in it all day so they are going to need something warm.
 Now back to my problem... I've always used one of those packets to make chili and I was not about to chance driving in this weather to go get it so I googled chili recipes. I serched allrecipes, as well as some of my favorite blogs and didnt see anything that stood out so I just picked out the things I liked and this is what I came up with. This isn't the perfect chili recipe, but it is good and easy.

Snow Day Chili

Ingredients:
2 tbsp oil
1 lb ground beef
1 onion chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
dash of louisiana hot sauce
1 53oz can of pinto beans, drained
1  6oz can tomato paste
1 28oz can tomato sauce

Directions:
Saute onions in oil until they are translucent or until your kids and hubby can't see them in the finished dish (yep, I have to do this all the time). Next add garlic and ground beef. Once meat is brown add all seasonings and mix well. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer over low heat for at least an hour stirring occationally.  I serve my chili over rice with cheddar cheese and a little sour cream, because lets face it... everythings better with sour cream! Enjoy!