Thursday, July 31, 2008

Veggie Pasta

By now, you all know about my love of all things carbs, especially pasta. So when I find a pasta dish that comes with less guilt, I am SO there.

I found this Veggie Pasta dish on the Pioneer Woman's blog and it was so delicious. I changed things up a bit; visit her blog for the original (and for some humor!).

1 pound pasta
5ish tablespoons of olive oil
2 large zucchini, diced
1 onion, diced
2-3 cloves of garlic, diced
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
2/3 cup chicken broth (or white wine)
1 tablespoon flour
3/4 cup milk
Cheese/herbs for garnish and seasoning

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve at least a cup of the starchy water.

Heat a couple of tablespoons of EVOO in a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add the zucchini (in two batches, if necessary), but don't stir right away; let it brown. Add a pinch or so of salt and then stir to let it all brown. Remove from skillet.

To the same skillet, add a little more EVOO and add the onions and garlic. Saute for a minute and then add the tomatoes. Stir to combine.

Add half of the broth and deglaze the pan.

Combine the rest of the broth and the flour to a small bowl and combine thoroughly. Add it to the pan.

Pour in the milk and stir to combine. Add the reserved pasta water.

Return the zucchini to the skillet and combine all ingredients; add the cooked pasta as well.

Season with salt and pepper; add whatever cheeses and/or herbs for garnish.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Sauteed Chicken in Mustard Cream Sauce

This chicken dinner from Sugar and Spice was pretty good! My sauce came out thinner because I used skim instead of cream, but the flavors were still good. This would have been awesome with some mushrooms thrown in...
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (6 ounces each)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup dry white wine, or chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon dried tarragon (or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh)
Sprinkle chicken breasts with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken; saute until cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes, turning once. Transfer to a plate; keep warm.
Pour wine into hot skillet; cook, stirring, until reduced by half, about 1 minute. Whisk in cream, mustard, and tarragon. Cook, whisking, until thickened, about 2 minutes.
Pour any accumulated chicken juices into sauce. Right before serving, drizzle cream sauce over chicken.
Source: Everyday Food: Great Food Fast by Martha Stewart Living magazine


BlakeMakes (still) rocks!

I was so excited to be a part of the YouBar giveaway. A site where I can design my own granola bar? Sign me UP!

My little box came the other day with a total of four different bars: Honey Cashew, Great Date with Chocolate, and two without their original name. Going by the color of the wrapper (and details from Blake's original post), I'm assuming that they are the Breakfast Bar and another Honey Cashew, but they could very well be a surprise bar specially designed by Blake for us.

I'm really excited about trying these out. I could get a nice custom made bar for myself and fill it will chocolate and coffee... and also a nice healthy one for my son. I've already "designed" a bunch of bars - now I just have to figure out what I want!

Thanks again, Blake!! And YouBar - look out for my order soon!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Granola Bars

Just like Brooke said when she posted these, it never dawned on me to make my own bars. I really love being able to make food for my son that I have control over; I know exactly what is in it. And I can vary the ingredients based on mood and what his favorite fruit of the minute is!

I had so much fun creating these for him, and I can't wait to make a (much unhealthier) peanut-butter and chocolate version for ME!

I feel, however, that these were kind of crumbly - definitely not a grab-and-go kind of food, unless I do so reaaaaaaaally carefully. But still - they tasted way better than I possibly imagined.

I followed Brooke's recipe almost exactly; I just left out the nuts.

  • Butter flavored cooking spray
  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats or quick-cooking oats
  • 1/2 cup Fiber One cereal
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup chopped dried fruit (I used raisins and craisins)

Spray a 9 by 9-inch baking pan with cooking spray and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the oats, Fiber One, almonds, and wheat germ onto a half-sheet pan. Place in the oven and toast for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. In the meantime, combine the honey, brown sugar, butter, extract and salt in a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook until the brown sugar has completely dissolved. Once the oat mixture is done, remove it from the oven and reduce the heat to 300 degrees F. Immediately add the oat mixture to the liquid mixture, add the dried fruit, and stir to combine. Turn mixture out into the prepared baking dish and press down, evenly distributing the mixture in the dish and place in the oven to bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Cut into squares and store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Messy Guiseppes

First of all, Brooke? Totally thought of you guys all night because of this dinner. In fact, Pat thought I got it from you and didn't believe me when I told him otherwise. :)

Anyway, I really don't know why Rach's "Messy Guiseppes" (an Italian version of the good ol' Sloppy Joe) appealed to me, but it did. And it was pretty good, minus the fact that I apparently don't know to use my broiler and the bread got a bit more scorched than I would have liked. Oh, and my grocery store didn't have ciabatta ROLLS - so I bought a ciabatta LOAF which got a bit soggy.

But overall - a yummy dinner. Actually, I enjoyed it so much that I forgot to make my veggies on the side. Whoops!
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 5 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 medium portobello mushroom cap, finely chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon (eyeball it) allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Coarse salt and black pepper
  • 1/2 cup (a couple of glugs) red wine
  • 3/4 cup beef stock
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup (a generous handful) flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 5-8 fresh basil leaves, about 1/4 cup, chopped
  • 1/4 cup (a small handful) grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Romano cheese
  • 4 individual ciabatta rolls or any kind of crusty hoagie rolls
  • 1 ball fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 8 slices

Preheat the broiler to high.
For the meat sauce, heat a deep skillet or a heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat with 2 tablespoons of EVOO, twice around the pan. Add the ground beef and cook until lightly browned, breaking up the meat with the back of a wooden spoon. Add green pepper, onion, 3/4 of the garlic, mushrooms, allspice, red pepper flakes and a little salt and pepper to the beef and cook for about 5-8 minutes.

Add the wine and cook another minute then add the beef stock, Worcestershie and tomatoes. Bring the mixture up to a bubble, reduce the heat to medium-low and gently simmer for 10 minutes. Finish it by stirring in a handful of chopped parsley.

While the meat is simmering, combine the remaining garlic with the soft butter, basil, parmesan cheese and a little salt and pepper in a mixing bowl. Split the rolls in half lengthwise without cutting all the way through and separating the halves. Press open the rolls by flattening them out a little bit. Slather the insides with the butter and place 2 slices of the mozzarella on each roll. Toast until golden brown under the broiler, about 2-3 minutes. Top one side of the cheesy garlic rolls with a heap of meat and get prepared to get sloppy with Messy Giuseppe!

Target Giveaway!

Want a $50 Target GC? Then click here. And give me a shout out in your comment. ;)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Ooey Gooey Chicken Pasta

I love easy meals. And anything that include pasta and mozzarella is automatically a winner in my mind.

So you can imagine that this "Ooey Gooey Chicken Pasta" by Kelly was a huge hit for me! The only thing I'd do differently is add more sauce; I definitely didn't have enough. (This dinner also reminded me that I haven't made my own sauce in a very long time...)

  • 1 package chicken tenders
  • 1 large jar of spaghetti sauce
  • 1 box whole wheat pasta
  • 3/4 cup of ff ricotta cheese
  • 1-2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese

Cook chicken via your preferred method; I threw it onto my grill pan for about five minutes on each side. Let it cool and then pull apart with fingers or finely chop.

Cook pasta as directed. In a sauce pan, add shredded chicken and spaghetti sauce and whatever spices you like (I use garlic, onion and crushed red pepper). Simmer on low-med until warmed through.

Drain and pour pasta into your baking dish. Add ricotta cheese and about half of the mozzarella and mix into hot noodles. Pour spaghetti sauce mixture over pasta and mix in. Top with the remaining shredded cheese. Bake on 350 for 20-25 minutes. Enjoy!

Menu: July 27

Sunday: Ooey Gooey Chicken Pasta

Monday: "Messy Guiseppes"

Tuesday: French Onion Burgers and French Fries

Wednesday: Sauteed Chicken in Mustard Cream Sauce, Crash Hot Potatoes

Thursday: Farfalle with Zucchini

Friday: Artichoke Chicken

Saturday: No cooking! Take out...?

Double Peanut Butter Cheesecake Swirl Brownies

BakingBlonde is my hero. Seriously. Go to her website and look at all of her amazing things.

I normally avoid dishes that involve peanut butter since my son cannot have it; I just feel plain mean having things that I can't share with him.

But these are SO worth waiting for naptime.

I've been trying to cut back on what I bake because I ALWAYS gain weight over the summer when I'm home. I guess at work I'm always running around and rarely have TIME to snack, so it's easier to be good. Plus, at home, I eat crap because it's THERE. So I'm trying to just not have the stuff THERE.

But these babies make me not care.

I cannot say enough about these little brownies. I had been toying with making them for awhile, and tried to not tempt myself... but when my pregnant friend Denise was planning to come over, I figured I should be a good hostess and make them for her. I mean, it was totally selfless. I did it just for her. Really.

Uh huh.

Brownie batter:
(The brownie batter was very un-batter-like; it was much closer to the texture and consistency of a chocolate mousse. I was worried about this, but they were perfect!)
  • 1 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate, melted
  • 1 oz. semi-sweet baking chocolate, melted
  • 3/4 cup butter, very soft (not melted but softer than room temp)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 TBS vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Swirl

  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened1/2 cups creamy PB
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 5-6 Reese's peanut butter cups (regular size) cut into 6-8 pieces each

Preheat oven to 350. Line an 8x8" square pan with foil and lightly coat with PAM cooking spray.

In a microwave safe bowl melt the two baking chocolate squares in 30 second intervals stirring after each interval until smooth and melted after stirring. Do not scortch! Remove from microwave and allow to come to room temperature.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together butter and sugar until combined. Beat in eggs one at a time until blended. Add vanilla and melted chocolate. Mix to combine. Combine dry ingredients in medium bowl and wisk together. Gradually stir dry ingredients into butter mixture. Do not overmix.

In separate mixing bowl, beat together cream cheese, peanut butter sugar and vanilla until smooth. Add egg and beat until just combined. Spread about 2/3 of chocolate brownie batter into prepared pan. Evenly drop 1/2 of cheesecake batter in dollups over brownie batter. Run a knife through both mixtures to slightly swirl.

Dollop remaining brownie batter and cheesecake batter over swirled mixture. Run knife through the browine and cheesecake dollups (not all the way through the already swirled layer) to create a swirled pattern.

Bake for 40-45 minutes**, or until center is set and a toothpick inserted in the center has a few crumbs stuck to it. Do not overbake or they will harden, if underbaked they will be too gooey. Every oven is different so watch and check these after about 35-40 minutes of baking to ensure propper doneness.

**After about 35-40 minutes of baking (with about 5-7 minutes of baking time left, you just need to eyeball it) gently place cut up Reese's cups over top of almost fully baked brownies. Finish baking until a toothpick inserted in the center has a few crumbs stuck to it. The Reese's PB cups will melt but hold their shape slightly. Cool completely on wire rack before cutting and serving.

Teriyaki Grilled Pork Chops

I think I have decided that I officially do not like pork.

I rarely like a pork dish that I prepare, yet I continue to make it. I think it's because I don't really like steak either, so I need SOME kind of other meat besides chicken. I mean, I'll totally go for the ground beef/sirloin in burgers or meatloaf or whatever, but otherwise? I think I have finally accepted that I should stop cooking pig.

Anyway. Pork aside, I really enjoyed the flavors of Sweet Savory Southern's Teriyaki Grilled Pork Chops, and would probably make them again using chicken instead of the pork.


  • 2/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2-inch piece fresh gingerroot, peeled and chopped fine (or 1 ½ tsp. dried ginger)
  • 4-6 pork chops

For the marinade, combine all ingredients except pork chops in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and stir until sugar is dissolved. Cool the marinade completely. Put the pork chops in a large resealable plastic bag and pour the marinade over them. Seal the bag, pressing out excess air. Allow chops to marinate, turning bag once or twice, at least 6 hours or up to overnight.

Pour the marinade into a saucepan and boil for 5 minutes. Grill chops on an oiled rack, approximately 7-8 minutes per side, or until just cooked through, basting with marinade during last 5 minutes of cooking.

Sauteed Shredded Zucchini

I thought that Bridget's recipe for Sauteed Shredded Zucchini was going to be a disaster from the start when I realized that a certain husband who shall remain nameless misplaced a part for my KAMixer shredder attachment and I couldn't use it.
Luckily, zucchini is not a dense food, so taking care of five of these bad boys on my box grater was not a problem.

I was surprised that, even though the recipe warned me, I got such a small quantity of ready-to-eat zucchini. I wonder if my zucchini were just too small... or maybe I should up it next time...

Anyway, ridiculously fast and easy and SO GOOD. My husband didn't even know it was zucchini, and my son ate a ton of this. I served it as a bed for Teriyaki Pork Chops.
  • 5 medium zucchini (about 8 ounces each), ends trimmed
  • Table salt
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1-2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice from 1 lemon
  • Ground black pepper
1. Shred zucchini with shredding disk of food processor or large holes of a box grater. Toss zucchini with 1½ teaspoons salt and place in colander set in medium bowl; let drain 5 to 10 minutes. Wrap zucchini in kitchen towel, in batches if necessary, and wring out excess moisture.
2. Place zucchini in medium bowl and break up any large clumps. Add shallots and 2 teaspoons oil to zucchini and toss to combine thoroughly.
3. Heat remaining 1 teaspoon oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat. Add zucchini mixture and spread evenly in pan with tongs; cook without stirring until bottom layer browns, about 2 minutes; stir well, breaking up any clumps with tongs, then cook until “new” bottom layer browns, about 2 minutes more. Off heat, stir in lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
For the tomato-basil variation: Combine 3 cored, seeded and diced plum tomatoes, 1 clove of minced garlic, 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar, 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, ¼ teaspoon salt, and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves in small bowl and set aside. When the zucchini has finished cooking, remove it from the heat and stir in tomato mixture and salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to serving platter, sprinkle with ¼ cup finely grated Parmesan, and serve immediately, drizzling with additional olive oil, if desired.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Spinach and Onion Risotto

I could eat risotto every day. Have I mentioned that before? Because I could.

This recipe for Spinach and Onion Risotto is slightly adapted from Mary Ellen, a fellow risotto lover. I sauteed the onion rather than caramelizing them, and I used a ton of spinach.

Loved. It. It's almost completely gone. It's ridiculous.


  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves raw garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 5 cups low sodium chicken broth, warmed
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1 cup fresh chopped spinach
  • 1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in the oil over medium heat and saute the onions and garlic. Add the rice; stir for 1-2 minutes. Add the white wine and stir until it is absorbed.

Add the chicken broth 1 ladle-full at a time, letting it fully absorb before adding more. This process takes about 17-25 minutes, depending on the day!

Halfway through, add the cheese.

Before the final ladle of broth, add the spinach.

Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

Crockpot Chicken Marsala

If you haven't already, you have to check out this blog: The Crockpot Lady. She made it her New Year's Resolution to use her crockpot The things she has on there are insane - I'd never even think to use it for some of those dishes. Love it.

Tonight I decided to make her Chicken Marsala. It was so easy (I really hate crockpot recipes where you have to DO stuff first. To me, that defeats the purpose) and it tasted pretty good. I wouldn't say it was the best, or restaurant-quality, but it was good. I would make it again.

  • 1 lb of very thin veal cutlets (if the baby cow thing bothers you, chicken will work too)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 t kosher salt
  • 1/2 t ground black pepper
  • 1/2 t dried oregano
  • 1 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup marsala wine
  • 2 chopped green onions (I used 1 yellow.)
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 2 T melted butter

Drizzle olive oil in the bottom of your stoneware insert.

In a shallow dish, mix the flour with the herbs and lightly dust each piece of meat. Place each piece into your stoneware and top with the chopped green onion and dump in the mushrooms
add balsamic vinegar and the marsala wine. Drizzle the melted butter over the top.

Cook on LOW for 4-7 hours.

Really Fudgy Mini-Cakes

Today is the FIVE YEAR ANNIVERSARY of the day we closed on our little townhouse!

I remember the stress... it was just a couple of weeks before our wedding, and it had been pushed back a bunch of times for various reasons. We both took the day off from work and became homeowners.

Here is a picture of our home-sweet-home:

Anyway. On to the food stuff.

I cannot believe that I never thought of this before, but Brooke told me I should get my house a birthday present! WHY did that not occur to me?! This afternoon I planned on running to Crate and Barrel for a gift, so I figured I'd pick something up there.

I was already planning on making a special little dessert, so I got these:

I think I've already talked about one of my favorite baking books before: Small-Batch Baking. I love that I can get the fun of baking without all of the calories. I knew this book would give me the perfect little treat to celebrate our house-iversary. This recipe is designed to yield four cupcakes, but I made two little heart-shape cakes instead.
I thought that the cake was a little dry, but good. I didn't really get a fudge vibe - it was chocolately for sure, but not fudgy. The icing on its own was a bit too orange-y for me, but coupled with the chocolate cake, it was perfect.

  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the muffin cups
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, sifted, plus more for flouring the muffin cups
  • 1/2 ounce bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 tablespoon buttermilk
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • Yolks of 2 medium eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Frosting (recipe follows)

1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350. Grease and lightly flour 4 muffin-tin cups.

2. Place the chocolate in a small microwave-safe bowl and heat on high until glossy - about 60-90 seconds. Stir the chocolate until it is smooth, then let it stand until cool - about 10 minutes.

3. Combine the buttermilk and baking soda in a small bowl and stir to mix. Gently whisk in the egg yolks and vanilla.

4. Place the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt in a medium-size mixing bowl and whisk to blend. Add the butter and half of the buttermilk mixture. Beat with a hand-held mixer on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Increase the speed to medium and beat until the mixture is lightened and slightly increased in volume, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Pour in the remaining buttermilk mixture and the melted chocolate, and beat on medium about 15 seconds. Scrape the sides.

5. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, dividing evenly. Fill the empty cups with water. Bake about 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely.
Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 4 ounces cold cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon thawed frozen orange juice concentrate (I used fresh OJ instead.)
Place the cream cheese and butter in a medium-size mixing bowl and beat with a hand-held electric mixer on medium speed until blended, 20 seconds. Add the sugar, orange zest, and vanilla, and beat to mix. Then add the orange juice concentrate and beat until the frosting is fluffy, about 1 minute. Use right away, or cover and let stand for up to 1 hour before using.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Nathan's Chunky Chicken Quesadilla

This recipe from the Food Network's website really intrigued me immediately for a whole slew of reasons, including the fact that I lived on Chicken Quesadillas from Friendly's in college. I mean, I don't know if I ever went a whole week w/out going there.

But the main thing that drew me in is the name. "Nathan," while clearly not the same one from the recipe, is the name of my cousin's precious little boy. He is going to be THREE next month, which is just baffling to me. I tell his mother that he just not allowed to turn 3, but I don't know how much control over this we have...

Anyway, this one was for you, Turkey Nate! We love you tons... and we'll just tell you that it's hot dogs inside. ;)

Unfortunately, my dedication to Nathan was kind of a let-down, as I didn't really like this dinner. I don't know what it is... I felt it was kind of... dry, maybe. I don't know. It was definitely missing something, although I can't put my finger on what.


  • 4 large whole-wheat tortillas
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, diced
  • 1 red onion, diced (I used yellow.)
  • 2 1/4 cups cooked and sliced chicken or veggie chicken
  • 3/4 cup Peanut Sauce, recipe follows (I did not make this since my son is not allowed to have peanut butter. Maybe that's the missing link here...?)
  • Sour cream, for garnish

Preheat grill or grill pan.

Place tortillas on a cutting board. On half of each tortilla place the cheese, apple, onion, and chicken. Fold the top half of the tortilla over and place on the grill. Grill for 2 to 3 minutes on each side until the cheese has melted and the filling is warm. Cut each quesadilla into 4 triangles.
Garnish with Peanut Sauce and sour cream.

Peanut Sauce:

  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup hot water
  • 1/8 cup molasses
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
In a mixing bowl, whisk together all ingredients until smooth. Store leftover peanut sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

"Mexican" Sour Cream Rice

I put the "Mexican" in quotes because I omitted the peppers and the cilantro, perhaps the two main ingredients that make this dish Mexican.

Anyway, here's something else from my friend Brooke. It was SO good - a perfect side dish to my quesadillas. Since I omitted the peppers, I kind of wish I had added in some tomatoes or something, just to give it a little extra oomf.

(I left the recipe below as I found it on Brooke's blog since I really took out two of the main stars!)


  • 1 cup uncooked long grain white rice
  • 1 (14 ounce) can chicken broth
  • 1 cup reduced fat sour cream
  • 1 (4 ounce) can diced green chile peppers
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided
  • 1 (8.75 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste

In a large pot, bring the rice and chicken broth to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 1-1/2 quart casserole dish.

In the pot with the cooked rice, mix the sour cream, green chile peppers, 1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese, corn, and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to the prepared casserole dish, and top with remaining cheese.

Bake uncovered 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until cheese is bubbly and lightly browned.

Cheesy Casser-ravioli

I totally stole this dinner idea from I*heart*food4thought, and I am sooo glad I did.

Talk about comfort food. Mmm.

I had actually planned to make my own alfredo sauce using milk instead of cream - kind of a way to maybe make it a tad less gross (gross=mmmm, of course!!). But that morning, when finally sitting down to eat my Cheerios, I realized my milk was bad. Ugh. I had a jar of alfredo in the cabinet, though, I just used that.

Everyone in the house liked this one, and I was psyched to have plenty for leftovers!

  • 2 lbs pre-packaged 4-cheese ravioli, cooked and drained
  • 2 cups frozen broccoli florets, defrosted
  • 1-1/2 cups pre-cooked chicken strips, diced
  • 1 jar alfredo sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp butter

Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.

Coat the bottom of a 9×13 glass baking dish with a thin layer of alfredo sauce. In a medium bowl, mix the ravioli, broccoli, chicken, garlic, alfredo sauce, 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese until combined. (Be careful not to mix too hard that you tear the ravioli.)

Place mixture into baking dish and top with 1/2 cup mozzarella and parmesan cheese.

Cut the butter into small pieces and scatter on top of the cheese. Bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is hot and bubbly. Set to broil for additional 5 minutes if you want it more toasty!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Turkey Florentine Meatloaf

I really, really like meatloaf. It tastes good and, really, what's not to love about a meal that you spend 5 minutes with and then let the oven do the rest of the work??

Plus, this recipe for Turkey Florentine Meatloaf from Pennies on a Platter is relatively healthy. Turkey, spinach, low-fat cheese... okay, maybe "healthy" is the wrong word. But it's not super BAD!

I had a bit of an issue getting the stuffing in and then relayering it, but it ended up just right and I would definitely make it again. YUM!

  • 1 1/4 pounds ground turkey
  • 1 cup spaghetti sauce, divided
  • 1/2 cup Italian-seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 eggs (or 1 egg and 2 egg whites), slightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seed, crushed (optional)
  • 1 package (10 oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
  • 3/4 cup low-fat shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350. Line an 8- or 9- inch loaf pan with foil with dull side toward food. (I just PAM'ed it.)

Combine ground turkey, 1/4 cup spaghetti sauce, bread crumbs, onion, eggs, Parmesan cheese and fennel seed in medium bowl.

Press half of turkey mixture into foil-lined pan. Press a 1-inch indentation down center of mixture, leaving 1-inch thickness on all sides.

Toss spinach and mozzarella cheese together; spoon into indentation, mounding in center. Press remaining turkey mixture evenly over top, sealing edges.

Bake 45 to 50 minutes. Spoon remaining spaghetti sauce over meat loaf. Bake 15 minutes longer. Let stand 10 minutes.

String Beans with Shallots

I love trying new things with veggies. I saw this one on Emily's blog: Rediscovering the Joy of Cooking. Well, I personally am glad she is rediscovering, because I got to eat the benefits tonight.

I bought a bag of string beans that was only 12oz and not a full pound, and then I forgot to adjust the rest of the recipe. I ended up with beans that were slightly too buttery/greasy as a result, but they were still really good!

It was my first time blanching, and I'm happy to report that I don't think I messed it up! Oh, and I also learned what haricots verts are; I've always wondered...

  • 1 pound French string beans (haricots verts), ends removed
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon good olive oil
  • 3 large shallots, large-diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Blanch the string beans in a large pot of boiling salted water for 1 1/2 minutes only (if using regular string beans, blanch for about 3 minutes until they’re crisp-tender). Drain immediately and immerse in bowl of ice water.
Heat the butter and oil in a very large saute pan (12-inch diameter) or large pot and saute the shallots on medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes, tossing occasionally, until lightly browned. Drain the string beans and add to the shallots with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and the pepper, tossing well. Heat only until the beans are hot.

Cool - another tag!

Melissa got me this time! Check out her blog - it's full of really awesome stuff and I've starred a bunch of her entries on my reader.

1. Last Movie I Saw In A Movie Theater?

2. What Book Are You Reading?
Starting a new one tonight... either Secret Life of Bees or maybe Bookseller of Kabul.

3. Favorite Board Game?

4. Favorite Magazine?
Cooking Light and Everyday with Rachael Ray.

5. Favorite Smells?

6. Favorite Sounds?
"Mommy!" He just started saying it to address me (he'd been ABLE to say it forever and would repeat it, but FINALLY actually USES it!) and it's music to my ears.

7. Worst Feeling In The World?
December 22, 2005.

8. First Thing You Think of When You Wake?
"Why doesn't Ryan like to sleep in?"

9. Favorite Fast Food Place?

10. Future Child’s Name?
LOL You think we have one? "Ryan" was our only boy name EVER, and never even HAD a girl's name for him.

11. Finish This Statement—“If I Had a Lot of Money,"
I'd buy a house.

12. Do You Drive fast?
Well, I can't claim to always perfectly adhere to the speed limit, but I'm not a lead-foot.

13. Do You Sleep With a Stuffed Animal?

14. Storms—cool or scary?

15. What Was Your First Car?
Toyota Corolla.

16. Favorite Drink?
Alcoholic? Probably a good glass of wine. Non - milk or water.

17. Finish This Statement—“If I Had the Time, I Would…"
Time without extra money? Hmm. Probably catch up on all my scrapbooking. Oh, and have a cleaner house.

18. Do You Eat the Stems on Broccoli?
Yes. Funny story: When I was little, I would ONLY eat the stems and my brother would ONLY eat the tops. So my mom would cut them and divide them up for us. Hee hee!

19. If You could Dye your Hair Any Other Color, What Would It Be?
Maybe blonde... just to see if they DO have more fun.

20. Name All the Different Cities In Which You Have Lived -
Various suburbs of NYC, but all in NJ.

21. Favorite Sport to Watch?
Baseball - Yay Yankees!!

22. One Nice Thing About The Person Who Sent This To You -
She makes amazing-looking food.

23. What’s Under Your Bed?
The leaves to our dining room table, baby clothes, and god only knows what else.

24. Would You Like to Be Born As Yourself Again?

25. Morning Person or Night Owl?
A little balance of both.

26. Over Easy or Sunny Side Up?
Neither. Scrambled, baby!

27. Favorite Place to Relax?

28. Favorite Ice Cream Flavor?
Anything w/ chocolate and peanut butter.

29. Of All the People You Have Tagged, Who Is the Most Likely to Respond First?
Not sure...

Okay, here are the blogs I'm tagging - check them out because they are awesome!
...and a Cookie For Dessert
Nothing to See Here
Welcome to the Picky Palate
Mary Ellen's Cooking Creations
...A Cookie a Day
(And if you lovely ladies don't feel like doing this, no pressure. Just wanted you to know that I love your blogs!)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Menu: July 21

Florentine Turkey Meatloaf
String Beans w/ Shallots

Teriyaki Grilled Pork Chops
Shredded Zucchini

Cheesy Casser-ioli

Chicken Marsala
Risotto w/ Onion and Spinach

Chunkey Quesadillas
Mexican Sour Cream Rice

Ooey Gooey Chicken Pasta

S'mores Bars

I starred this recipe for S'mores Bars by Stephanie a long time ago, and decided that last night's dinner with Jennifer, Brian, and Stella would be the perfect time to try it out!

I was kind of disappointed with it, though. I've seen it on several blogs and they always look so gooey and yummy... mine were too chewy and kind of weird. I used regular marshmallows instead of the Fluff, though, so maybe that negatively impacted it...?


  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 (1.55 oz. each) HERSHEY'S Milk Chocolate Bars
  • 1 cup marshmallow creme (I used actual marshmallows.)

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 8-inch square baking pan.

2. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla; beat well. Stir together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt; add to butter mixture, beating until blended. Press half of dough into prepared pan.

3. Arrange chocolate bars over dough, breaking as needed to fit. Spread with marshmallow creme. Scatter bits of remaining dough over marshmallow; carefully press to form a layer.

4. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars. 16 bars.

Butternut Squash Mac 'n Cheese

Since Jen, Brian, and Stella were coming over for dinner last night, I was looking for a side dish to my burgers that would be yummy but very kid-friendly. I thought Rachael Ray's Butternut Squash Mac 'n Cheese would be perfect.

I have made this before and really liked it, but for some reason I wasn't really a fan of it last night. I did use skim milk instead of cream in an attempt to keep it figure-friendly for the adults, so maybe that made that much of a difference...? Or maybe my seasoning was off...? Anyway, last time I made this I LOVED it, and this time it was just okay...

  • 1 pound macaroni with lines, such as tubatini or mini penne rigate
  • Salt
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves, plus a few sprigs for garnish
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 (10 ounce) box frozen cooked butter nut squash, defrosted
  • 1 cup cream or half-and-half
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) sharp Cheddar, grated
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, a couple of handfuls
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, eyeball it
  • Black pepper

Heat a pot of water to boil for the pasta. Salt the water then add the pasta and cook to al dente or, with a bite to it.
While pasta cooks, heat a medium heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the extra-virgin olive oil and butter. When the butter melts into the oil, add the thyme and grate the onion directly into the pot with a hand held grater or Microplane. Cook the grated onion in butter and oil 1 to 2 minutes, then add flour and cook together 1 to 2 more minutes. Whisk in stock, then combine with butternut squash until warmed through and smooth. Stir in cream or half-and-half and bring sauce to a bubble. Stir in cheeses in a figure 8 motion and season the completed sauce with salt, nutmeg and pepper. Taste to adjust seasonings.
Drain cooked pasta well and combine with sauce. Serve alongside chicken sammies and top with thyme leaves picked from remaining sprigs.

Chicken Piccata Pasta Toss

This is another Rachael Ray dinner that I discovered through my friend Brooke's blog. And for this I will be eternally grateful...

I could eat this

I am not kidding... I can't wait to eat this again. The flavors together were so good, it was just ridiculous. The pasta... the chicken... the capers... the sauce... YUM!!!
I took Brooke's advice and doubled the sauce, and I'm so glad I did - I can't imagine what it would be like without having done that. I adjusted the recipe below to reflect that change.

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1 1/3 pounds chicken breast tenders, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 8 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 4 shallots, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 2 cups chicken broth or stock
  • 6 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 1 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 pound penne rigate pasta, cooked to al dente
  • Chopped or snipped chives, for garnish
Heat a deep nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add two tablespoons of EVOO and the chicken to the pan. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Brown chicken until lightly golden all over, about 5-6 minutes.Remove chicken from pan and return the skillet to the heat.
Reduce heat to medium. Add another tablespoon EVOO and one tablespoon butter, the garlic and shallots to the skillet. Sauté garlic and shallots three minutes. Add flour and cook two minutes. Whisk in wine and reduce liquid one minute. Whisk lemon juice and broth into sauce. Stir in capers and parsley. When the liquid comes to a bubble, add remaining 1/2 tablespoon butter to the sauce to give it a little shine.
Add chicken back to the pan and heat through, 1-2 minutes. Toss hot pasta with chicken and sauce and serve. Adjust salt and pepper, to your taste. Top with fresh snipped chives.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Risotto with Tomatoes and Mushrooms

I have recently discovered risotto, and always enjoy it. This one, however, was by far the creamiest I've ever had - which is ironic, since I added the liquid all at once and not a little at a time. I've never done it that way before... but I guess Heidi knows what she's talking about...

This one awesome. Loved every bite. I really need to stop making risotto, though, or I am not going to be able to fit through the door to go buy more Arborio...

  • 1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 ½ cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 2 tbsp EVOO, divided
  • 1 package sliced mushrooms

Season the drained tomatoes with the salt and stir to combine. Allow the mixture to drain while prepping other ingredients.

Place a medium saucepan with a heavy bottom over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the Arborio rice to the saucepan and stir to evenly coat the grains of rice with the oil. Sauté the rice, stirring, for about 1 minute.Add the garlic, the white wine, and the broth and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring once.

Cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook the rice for about 20 minutes: you want the rice to be tender, but still slightly firm to the bite. While the rice is cooking, prepare the mushrooms.

Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Pour in 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the sliced mushrooms and sauté until all the moisture has evaporated, about 10 minutes.

To the skillet add the drained tomatoes. As soon as the rice is cooked, add it to the skillet.
Stir to combine. The texture should be moist and creamy. If necessary, add a bit more broth. Taste and add more salt if desired. Serve immediately garnished with some freshly-grated Parmesan cheese.

Chicken Caprese

Mary Ellen strikes again!!

I absolutely adored her Chicken Caprese dinner. The chicken was obscenely tender and juicy, and the pan sauce that was created was like none other I've ever concocted.

I don't even know what else to say about this. Make it tonight!! I know that it definitely won't be long before this little birdy returns to my kitchen.


* If you are pressed for time the marinade is optional, but I feel it added a lot of flavor to this dish. Instead, season the chicken with salt and pepper, and season your flour with oregano, garlic powder, and onion powder.

  • 1/2 c olive oil
  • 1/4 onion, finely chopped
  • 5 basil leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • Juice from 1/2 of a lemon
  • 5 thin-sliced chicken breasts

The rest:

  • 1/2 c flour
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/3 c dry white wine
  • 3/4 c low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tomato, chopped (not too small)
  • A few slices of low-fat mozzarella
  • Basil for garnish

Mix marinade ingredients and pour into a plastic bag with chicken. Marinate in the fridge for several hours.

When ready to cook, remove chicken from the marinade and make sure all of the pieces of pepper and onion are removed.

Heat olive oil and butter over medium-high heat in a large saute pan.

Season chicken with salt and pepper, and then dredge chicken in flour, shake off excess, and add to the pan.

Saute for 3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.

Remove chicken from the pan onto a dish and cover with foil to keep warm.

Lower heat to medium and add wine. Let simmer for 1-2 minutes while scraping up brown bits.
Add chicken broth and bring to a simmer.

Return chicken to the pan, cover, and let simmer for 10 minutes.

Add tomatoes and let simmer for 5 minutes.

Top each piece of chicken with a few pieces of mozzarella. Top with tomatoes from the pan, sprinkle with basil, top with some freshly ground black pepper if desired, and serve over pasta.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Caramel Butterscotch Brownies

I finally did it. After months of having it starred in my reader, I have finally made the coveted Caramel Butterscotch Brownies from Proceed with Caution.

I was very afraid of the sweetness from the butterscotch as I am not really a fan, so I cut back a little on the amounts of butterscotch, caramel, and evaporated milk. To compensate in the filling, I added a small handful of chocolate chips. I am posting the recipe as it stands, however, so that I can continue to play around with it. (I think I see some sort of peanut butter concoction in my future...)

I'm glad I cut that stuff in half; it was very sweet and gooey as it is, and I'm afraid I wouldn't like them if there was more "filling" in them.
As usual, I was short about 5 spoonfuls of batter, thanks to a certain husband...

  • 5 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped (At the last minute I realized I had none!! So... I used a few Hersheys bars.)
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick) cut into quarters
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup evaporated milk (I used skim. Hey, every little bit helps, right??)
  • 35 (10-oz. pkg.) caramels, unwrapped (or those mini caramel balls - they make life so much easier!) (Couldn't find those. Bummer!)
  • 2 cups (11-oz. pkg.) butterscotch morsels

1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Generously spray 8-inch square baking pan with nonstick vegetable cooking spray.
2. In medium heatproof bowl set over a pan of almost-simmering water, melt chocolates and butter, stirring occasionally until mixture is smooth. Whisk in cocoa until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.
3. Whisk together eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt in medium bowl until combined, about 15 seconds. Whisk warm chocolate mixture into egg mixture; then stir in flour with wooden spoon until just combined. Spread half of batter baking pan, spread into corners, and level surface with rubber spatula; bake about 15 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, heat caramels and evaporated milk in small saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly, until caramels are melted. Sprinkle morsels over brownie; drizzle with caramel mixture. Drop remaining batter by heaping teaspoon over caramel mixture. Spread as gingerly as possible to connect as much of the top layer of brownie as you can. It will cook up a little and heal itself if you get it most of the way there. (Don't worry about picking up a little of the caramel. It's aaaaaaaaall goooooood.) Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with a small amount of sticky crumbs (or caramel!) clinging to it. Cool in pan on wire rack to room temperature. Cut into 16-25 squares, depending on how big you want'em!

Tomato and Veggie Casserole

Tonight's dinner was a bit on the heavy side, so I thought Giada's Tomato and Veggie Casserole would be the perfect side. This was another recipe from her Family Dinners book - thanks again, Jennifer!!

I absolutely loved this dish. I adore roasting veggies rather than using frozen, but don't always have the chance to do it. Pat even asked me what I did to these veggies to make them taste so good.

It made a lot, but I'm glad - lots of leftovers!

  • 1 medium potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 medium yam, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, cut into large chunks
  • 2 small or 1 large zucchini, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick pieces
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes, cut into large chunks
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons dried Italian-style bread crumbs
  • Fresh basil sprigs, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Toss the potato, yam, bell pepper, carrots, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a 13 by 9 by 2-inch baking dish to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss until coated. Spread vegetables evenly over the bottom of the pan.
Arrange the onion slices evenly over the vegetable mixture. Arrange the zucchini over the onion. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Arrange the tomato slices over the zucchini.
Stir the Parmesan and bread crumbs in a small bowl to blend. Sprinkle the Parmesan bread crumbs over the vegetables in the baking dish. Drizzle with the last tablespoon of olive oil.
Bake uncovered until the vegetables are tender, and the topping is golden brown, about 40 minutes. Garnish with fresh basil sprigs, if desired.

Chili Cheese Dogs in Beach Blankets

Any recipe that is considered as "classy as a cheeseburger casserole" absolutely HAS to be delicious. And thoroughly artery-clogging.

Rachael Ray's Chili Cheese Dogs in Beach Blankets (thanks, Brooke!) was both.

They were pretty fun, as long as I pretended that serving them with this Tomato and Veggie Casserole made them healthy. Ryan loved it, and Pat ate THREE of them (and then wondered why his stomach hurt later...). I would totally make this again.

And I'm sorry for the pictures. There was no way I could make them look less phallic. I tried...

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil or extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 3/4 pound ground beef or turkey
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 2 teaspoons dehydrated onion
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tube pizza dough, from the dairy aisle at the grocery store
  • 8 beef, turkey, pork or tofu dogs
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Pre-heat oven to 400°F.
In a small pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the meat to the pot and brown it up, 6-7 minutes. Season the meat up with chili powder, granulated garlic, dehydrated onion and a little salt and pepper.

Add the tomato paste to the pot and stir it around a minute, then add the water to help loosen the tomato paste up and get it everywhere. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for five minutes, then turn the heat off.

Roll the pizza dough out into a big rectangle. Cut the dough in half lengthwise with a small knife. Cut the dough into four equal pieces across so that you end up with eight small, rectangular pieces of dough. Across the center of each rectangle, place a couple of spoonfuls of chili sauce and a small handful of cheese sprinkled on top. Set the dog on the dough and wrap and roll the pizza dough around the dog like a blanket, sealing in the chili and cheese too! The nubs of each end of the dog should be peeking out.

Bake in the oven 18 minutes, until golden.

Banana-Blueberry Muffins

I need to start making muffins more often.

I usually avoid blueberry muffins at bakeries or wherever because the blueberries taste funny and I'd rather have chocolate. But this recipe for Banana-Blueberry Muffins from MaryEllen is so perfect... the blueberries were so fresh and juicy! Rather than 1 1/2 cups of flour, I used a cup of whole-wheat flour and a half cup of all-purpose. Coupled with the bananas and oats, the texture was just so fabulous. I think these bad boys might become a breakfast staple for me...!

(And like Mary Ellen, I got more than the expected dozen too.)


  • 1 and 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
  • 3 ripe, mashed bananas
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup oatmeal - quick or instant
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1 large egg - slightly beaten
  • 2 Tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Prepare 12 muffin cups with papers or generous coating of cooking spray.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, oats, baking powder and salt.

In a separate bowl, mix together the bananas, milk, egg, oil and lemon juice.

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until just moistened.

Fold in the blueberries.

Fill each prepared muffin cup a little more than 3/4 full. Bake for about 20 minutes until golden brown. Stick a toothpick in the center of one of the muffins. If it comes out dry, the muffins are done. If there's a little batter stuck to it, you need to cook the muffins longer.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Cheesy Baked Tortellini

I absolutely love this dish. Giada's Cheesy Baked Tortellini was one of the first meals I made when I took a real interest in cooking, about 2 or 3 years ago. It's quick and easy, and yet I've entertained with it several times. Definitely one of my favorites - and a great comfort food.

One of the things that I adore about this dinner is its versitality. You can "dress it up" with fresh tortellini, mozzarella, and sauce for company, but you can also use frozen, packaged, and jarred for a quick meal during the week. (This go-around, I used fresh mozz and sauce, but frozen tortellini.)

This meal was also my first experience with mascarpone; I remember going to a bunch of different grocery stores because I couldn't find it. This was way before I discovered the specialty cheese section. Whoops...

I always double it, though, even when it's just us - leftovers are awesome!


  • Olive oil
  • 2 cups marinara sauce
  • 1/3 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 pound purchased cheese tortellini
  • 2 ounces thinly sliced smoked mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil an 8 by 8 by 2-inch baking dish.

Whisk the sauce, mascarpone cheese, parsley and thyme in a large bowl to blend. Cook the tortellini in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, about 2 minutes. Drain. Add the tortellini to the sauce and toss to coat. Transfer the tortellini mixture to the prepared baking dish. Top the mixture with the smoked mozzarella and Parmesan. Cover and bake until the sauce bubbles and the cheeses on top melt, about 30 minutes.

Barefoot Bloggers: Jalepeno Cheddar Cornbread

Not only am I several days late in posting this recipe for Jalepeno Cheddar Cornbread, I'm also committing another blog sin - no photo!! My batteries were charging when I made this, and by the time they were ready to go, there were only crumbs left. I didn't think anyone would want a picture of crumbs...

Anyway, this is my third (I think?) BB recipe, and so far, my least favorite. I am not a big jalepeno fan to begin with, and I just didn't really love this one. As far as cornbread goes, let me plug Brooke's cornbread - super yum!!

I did, however, really like the flavor of the scallions on top, so I might try to mesh that (and the cheese topping) with the ones I linked above.

Sorry Ina - I never thought I would not like one of your recipes...!

(I halved this recipe.)

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, plus extra to grease the pan
  • 8 ounces aged extra-sharp Cheddar, grated, divided
  • 1/3 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts, plus extra for garnish, 3 scallions
  • 3 tablespoons seeded and minced fresh jalapeno peppers
Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, eggs, and butter. With a wooden spoon, stir the wet ingredients into the dry until most of the lumps are dissolved. Don't overmix! Mix in 2 cups of the grated Cheddar, the scallions and jalapenos, and allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking pan.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and sprinkle with the remaining grated Cheddar and extra chopped scallions. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool and cut into large squares. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Menu: July 14

Monday: Cheesy Baked Tortellini

Tuesday: Chili Cheese Dogs in Beach Blankets, Tomato Veggie Casserole

Wednesday: Chicken Caprese, Risotto with Tomatoes and Mushrooms

Thursday: Parmesan Crusted Pork Chops, Cheesy Cauliflour Gratin

Friday: Chicken Piccata Pasta Toss

Saturday: Not sure yet... probably some kind of burger action... stay tuned!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Hot Fudge Sundae Cake

I tore this recipe for a Hot Fudge Sundae Cake out of Everyday with Rachael Ray last September. It intrigued me to use my crockpot for this dish, and really, who DOESN'T love oodles of hot gooey chocolate?

Well, this dessert failed to impress. I made it for our dinner last night with Brooke and Joe, and it was such a disappointment. For starters, and I can't believe such a thought would enter MY mind, but it was WAY too chocolate-y. And for ME to say that? Wow. But yeah. It was too much.

Second, just take a look at the pictures. This is the shot featured in the magazine:

A nice, solid, discernable cake, right? Surrounded by sauce? Terrific. But here is what I made:

Nothing solid. It was just a lump of goo. I followed the recipe to the letter. Any suggestions on what I could have done wrong or how to correct this in the future?

Sorry, Brooke and Joe - next time, I'll have something a little more edible. You guys are troopers for managing to choke down as much as you did. :)


  • Cooking spray
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons mild olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup heavy cream, chilled

1. Spray the slow cooker with cooking spray. In a bowl, mix the flour, 1/2 cup granulated sugar,
2 tablespoons cocoa, the baking powder and salt. Stir in the milk, olive oil and vanilla. Scrape the batter into the slow cooker and smooth the top. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, 1/4 cup cocoa powder and the espresso powder. Whisk in the boiling water. Pour the mixture over the batter.

2. Cover and cook on high until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Turn off the slow cooker, remove the lid and let the cake cool, 30 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 1/3 cup granulated sugar and 3 tablespoons cocoa. Whisk in the heavy cream. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Using a handheld electric mixer, beat the mixture until soft peaks form.

4. Scoop the warm cake and its sauce into bowls. Dollop the cocoa whipped cream on top.
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