Saturday, February 28, 2009

Creamy Ziti with Peas and Ham

Although my dinner didn't turn out quite as creamy as Rachel's, I am still glad that I cooked this dinner from Culinary Kicks. I really love the taste of ham and peas together, and, well, if you haven't figured out yet that I am in desperate need of a 12-step program for pasta-holics, then we have a problem.

I think next time I would reserve a little extra cooking water, or perhaps add a little bit of cream. But other than that, this dinner was really good.

Creamy Ziti with Peas and Ham
(adapted from America's Test Kitchen)
  • 1 cup part skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp butter, cut into 8 pieces
  • 4 ounces thick sliced ham, diced
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb small pasta (I used mini ziti, the recipe called for mini shells)
  • 2 cups frozen peas
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice (half of one lemon squeezed)
1. Bring 4 quarts of water to boil for the pasta.

2. Combine the ricotta, Parmesan, butter, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, in a serving bowl large enough to hold the pasta.

3. Cook the ham in the oil in a 12 inch skillet until the ham is cooked through and browned. Drain onto a plate lined with paper towels, reserving the oil.

4. Cook the onions in the oil until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Remove from heat and add to the ricotta mixture, stir to mix well.

5. When the water is boiling, stir in 1 tbsp salt and the pasta. Cook stirring often, until the pasta is almost tender, but still a little firm to the bite. Add the peas during the final 30 seconds of the pasta cooking.

6. Reserve 3/4 cup of the pasta cooking water and then drain the shells and peas. Whisk the lemon juice and 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta cooking water into the ricotta mixture until smooth. Add the shells and peas and toss to coat. Add the reserved ham, and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Save the remaining 1/4 cup pasta cooking water to loosen the sauce before serving.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Roasted Potatoes

I was inspired by a Crisco ad, although I can't seem to find the ad that I ripped out and used as a basis. Below you'll find roughly what I did, although this side is ridiculously forgiving and versatile. Go with what you like and/or what you have on hand!

I haven't made potatoes in awhile unless I've mashed them, and these were a nice change. I am definitely saving the rest of the bag to make these again soon.

  • Cooking spray
  • 2 pounds red potatoes, scrubbed and chopped into bite-sized chunks
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Italian seasoning
Preheat oven to 425. Spray a jelly roll pan with cooking spray.

Place the potatoes and oil into a large ziploc bag and add the rest of the ingredients. Toss around to coat.

Spread potatoes in a single layer on pan. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until fork-tender.

Dinner Divas: Chicken Francese

This was a Dinner Divas pick from, um, December. Yeah, I'm on top of things...

It was worth the wait, though. Tyler Florence's Chicken Francese was very, very quick to put together and tasted delicious. The chicken was so tender and juicy and I regretted not doubling - we had no leftovers!


  • 4 skinless, boneless, chicken breasts (about 11/2 pounds)
  • All-purpose flour, for dredging
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 lemon, with rind, cut in thin rounds
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

Put the chicken breasts side by side on a cutting board and lay a piece of plastic wrap over them. Pound the chicken breasts with a flat meat mallet, until they are about 1/4-inch thick. Put some flour in a shallow platter and season with a fair amount of salt and pepper; mix with a fork to distribute evenly. In a wide bowl, beat the eggs with 3 tablespoons of water to make an egg wash. Heat the oil over medium-high flame in a large skillet.

Dredge both sides of the chicken cutlets in the seasoned flour, and then dip them in the egg wash to coat completely, letting the excess drip off. When the oil is nice and hot, add the cutlets and fry for 2 minutes on each side until golden, turning once. Remove the chicken cutlets to a large platter in a single layer to keep warm.

Toss the lemon slices into the pan and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until fragrant. Add the wine, broth, and lemon juice, simmer for 5 minutes to reduce the sauce slightly. Roll the butter in some flour and add it to the skillet, this will thicken the sauce. Stir to incorporate and dissolve the flour. Reduce the heat to medium-low and return the chicken to the pan; place the lemon slices on top of the cutlets. Simmer gently for 2 minutes to heat the chicken through. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with chopped parsley before serving.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

When the most recent issue of Everyday Food arrived in my mailbox the other day, I tore out this recipe so fast and made it the next night.

I don't usually cook or bake with peanut butter since Ryan is allergic, but I really couldn't help myself. These things are SO GOOD!

They are slightly denser than most cookies I make (similar to the zucchini-chip cookies I've made) but they are good. Really good. Really, really good.

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup peanut butter (I used chunky but I don't think it matters)
  • 4 TB (1/2 stick) unsalted butted, room temp
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 8oz semisweet chocolate, cut into chunks
Preheat oven to 350.

In a bowl, whisk together flour and baking soda; set aside. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat peanut butter, butter, and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat until smooth. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture, beating just until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop dough by heaping tablespoons, 1 inch apart, onto two large baking sheets. Bake until golden, 13 to 15 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool.

Yields approximately 36 cookies.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Fiesta Cornbread Casserole

Another tasty dish from Brooke!

Please pay NO attention to the ugliness of these pictures. The lighting was awful and I was in a rush to eat this yummy dish.

I promise you, this dinner was way way way better than the bowl of mush it looks like.

  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 2 Tbl EVOO
  • 1 package taco seasoning
  • 2 cans black beans drained & rinsed
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 2 small cans corn drained
  • 1 package corn bread with ingredients to make it
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Heat oven to 350 degrees spray 3 quart dish with cooking spray.Heat EVOO in large skillet over medium heat. Brown chicken until the middle is no longer pink. Make cornbread according to instructions, then stir in cheese and bell pepper. Sprinkle taco seasoning over chicken. Add black beans, Rotel and corn. Mix together then pour into prepared dish. Pour cornbread over the top. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cornbread is golden.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Baked Chicken and Stuffing

Brooke said that you "need" to make this chicken so I decided to be a good girl and obey my good buddy.

I'm glad I did - this stuff is good! I may have sort of kind of misread the recipe and used a whole package of Stove Top and not just a cup... whoops.

I also followed her additions of mushrooms and spinach. Mmmm. I did, however, use mozzarella instead of Swiss.

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 4 slices Swiss cheese
  • 1 (10 3/4 ounce) can cream of chicken soup
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup herb seasoned stuffing mix
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted (I used cooking spray)

Arrange chicken in a lightly greased 13x9 inch baking dish. Top chicken with Swiss cheese. Combine soup and wine and stir until well mixed and spoon soup mixture evenly over chicken. Sprinkle with crumbled stuffing mix and drizzle melted butter over crumbs. Bake at 325° for one hour.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Sick Day Soup

I was sick a couple of weeks ago, and being pregnant, I can't really take any of the good stuff. On my first day that I stayed home from work, I really really just wanted soup. I asked my mommy to come over and make it for me, but she had to pack for her vacation. Blah blah cruise blah blah... ;)

Anyway, so I just kind of made this on the fly, and it was so good. I had just made this chicken dinner in the crockpot the night before, so I also chopped up some of the chicken and potatoes and threw them in the pot too.

  • EVOO
  • 1 onion
  • 1 cup frozen mixed veggies
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 4 cups veggie stock
  • 1/2 pound pastina
  • leftover cooked chicken, chopped

In a large stock pot, heat the oil and brown the onions for a few minutes. Add the frozen veggies and cook for another 3-5 minutes.

Add the broth and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until desired done-ness.

I don't remember when I added the chicken...

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Chicken with Artichokes and Other Stuff...

Delicious Meliscious really cooked up a great meal in this dish which she posted from For the Love of Cooking.

My only complaint with this dish is really no one's fault but my own; I used canned artichokes, and I think that gave too much of a vinegar-y taste. I didn't even know you could buy frozen, but I would for sure try them next time.

Marinade Ingredients:
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 3-4 leaves of basil, chopped
  • Zest of one lemon, chopped finely
  • Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (for cooking)

Place the chicken breasts between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound them, with a mallet, until they are 1/4 inch thick. Place chicken into a large zip lock bag and add the olive oil, minced garlic, chopped basil, lemon zest, sea salt and pepper. Mix so the chicken is evenly coated with marinade. Let it marinate for at least 1 hour.

Heat the 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add chicken breasts and cook for 4 minutes then flip. Cook for an additional 3-4 minutes or until juices run clear. Remove from heat and let sit for at least 5 minutes before slicing into bite size chunks.

  • 8 oz of button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup of frozen artichoke hearts, thawed (I used canned)
  • 1 handful of grape tomatoes
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp Parmesan cheese
  • Cheese tortellini, prepared per instructions
  • Juice of 1-2 lemons (to taste)
  • 1-2 tbsp butter
  • 5-6 basil leaves, chopped
  • Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

Cook the tortellini per instructions. While the pasta is cooking, add mushrooms to the hot skillet you cooked the chicken in. Add more oil if needed (I didn't need to). Sauté for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown. Add the artichoke hearts, tomatoes and minced garlic to the pan then stir frequently for 60 seconds. Add the tortellini, chicken chunks, lemon juice, butter, Parmesan, basil, sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste. Enjoy.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Cheeseburger Pie

This dish by Kayla over at Central Cooking really caught my eye. Who doesn't love a good cheeseburger, and who REALLY doesn't like a meal that is super quick to prepare?

We really enjoyed this dinner, although it didn't really serve us as well as leftovers. But it was quite yummy!

I served these with (frozen *cough cough*) sweet potato fries and it was a great comfort meal type dinner.

Impossibly Easy Cheeseburger Pie
From: (also on the Bisquick box)

  • 1 Pound Lean (at least 80%) Ground Beef
  • 1 Large Onion, chopped (1 cup)
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese (4 oz)
  • 1/2 Cup Original Bisquick® Mix
  • 1 Cup Milk
  • 2 Eggs

Heat oven to 400°F. Spray 9-inch glass pie plate with cooking spray.

In 10-inch skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until beef is brown; drain. Stir in salt. Spread in pie plate. Sprinkle with cheese.

In small bowl, stir remaining ingredients with fork or wire whisk until blended. Pour into pie plate.

Bake about 25 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Hot Fudge Sauce

I could not hit "s" for "star" fast enough when this recipe for Hot Fudge Sauce popped up in my Google Reader from Deb's Smitten Kitchen.

I was initially disappointed that my sauce didn't seem as thick as hers, and I was set to have a watery flavor/consistency, but the taste is oh... my... god. I want to go home and lick the bowl.

Hot Fudge Sauce
Adapted from Silver Palate Cookbook [Anyone remember this?]

This is a deep, dark fudgy bittersweet sauce that firms up on ice cream.

  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 3 tablespoons butter, unsalted
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons corn syrup
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon rum (or other flavoring, such as a flavored liquer or vanilla extract)

Melt the chocolate and butter very slowly in a double boiler or in the microwave, stirring frequently until combined. Meanwhile, heat the water to boiling in the small, heavy saucepan. When the butter and chocolate have melted, stir the mixture into the boiling water. Add the sugar, corn syrup and salt and mix until smooth. Turn the heat up and stir until mixture starts to boil; adjust heat so that sauce is just maintained at the boiling point, stirring occasionally. Allow sauce to boil for nine minutes.

Remove from heat and cool for 15 minutes. Stir in the rum and serve warm over ice cream.

Do ahead: Sauce can be easily and quickly reheated in the microwave for 15 to 30 seconds. Stir and it will be shiny and even again.

Yields 2 1/2 cups

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Oreo Cheesecake Ice Cream

I think I fall more in love with my ice cream maker every day, and cannot thank my awesome sister- and brother-in-law enough for buying it for me (um, I mean us) for our anniversary!

I also think that Kim's Kitchen is pretty damn cool for posting this amazing recipe for Oreo Cheesecake Ice Cream!

I don't know that I really tasted the cheesecake part... the cream cheese flavor was kind of lost in the ice cream. However, it was delicious!

This is definitely not a spur-of-the-moment ice cream, though - you need to complete this ice cream in multiple steps and allow various stages to cool. But every step is worth it - so yummy!

Oreo Cheesecake Ice Cream
Source: The Ultimate Ice Cream Book by: Bruce Weinstein

  • 1 c sugar
  • 4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 c milk
  • 1 1/2 c heavy cream
  • 7 oreos, chopped (I used WAY more!)


Beat the sugar and cream cheese together until smooth and creamy. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Set aside.

Bring the milk to a boil in a heavy medium saucepan. Slowly beat the hot milk into the cheese mixture. Pour the entire mixture back into the pan and place over low heat. Stir constantly with a whisk or wooden spoon until the custard thickens slightly. Be careful not let the mixture boil or the egg will scramble. Remove from the heat and pour the hot custard through a strainer into a large clean bowl. Allow the custard to cool slightly, then stir in the heavy cream. Cover and refrigerate until cold or overnight.

Stir the chilled custard, than freeze in 1 or 2 batches in your ice cream machine according to the instructions. Stir the crushed oreos in by hand after removing the ice cream from the machine. Ice cream should be soft served and ready to eat now, or freeze for at least 2 hours for a firmer ice cream.
Yield: 1 quart

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

French Toast Casserole

I really wanted to make a yummy breakfast for Valentine's Day, but didn't want to spend all morning slaving over the stove when I could be enjoying my sweet Valentine while he played with his new Thomas the Trains.

I had bookmarked this recipe from My Tiny Little Kitchen a long time ago, and thought it would be perfect!

In an attempt to be a tad healthier to compensate for the fat and calories we'd be consuming later that night at the Outback (hey, Alice Springs Chicken is plenty romantic when you have a 2-year-old in tow!), I used whole grain bread. I think that compromised a tad on the taste, though, because I thought it was a bit bland. However, I could have also added more cinnamon and that probably would have taken care of that.

Overall, this was very simple to prepare and pretty good - I would make it again for sure. Maybe next time I'll be motivated to finally attempt the task of making my own brioche...

  • 5 cups bread cubes
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup white sugar, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon margarine, softened
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly butter an 8x8 inch baking pan.
2. Line bottom of pan with bread cubes. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, milk, 2 tablespoons sugar, salt and vanilla. pour egg mixture over bread. Dot with margarine; let stand for 10 minutes.
3. Combine remaining 2 tablespoons sugar with 1 teaspoon cinnamon and sprinkle over the top. Bake in preheated oven about 45 to 50 minutes, until top is golden.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers: Real Spaghetti and Meatballs

Another late one... whoops!

I really enjoyed this dish! I did end up making it with campanelle to appease my spaghetti-abhorring husband...

One of the benefits to doing a recipe late is that I get to reap the experiences of others. There were several mentions of the sauce not being enough, so I planned on using 2 cans of crushed, at least. Then, of course, I realized that I completely forgot to order the canned tomatoes (yay peapod!) and only had one 28-oz can of diced tomatoes.

I worried about the thin consistency along with the small quantity, so I also added some tomato paste and half a jar of tomato sauce that I had hanging out in my pantry. It could have used some more sauce, but definitely wasn't bad.

I tweaked the meatballs just slightly to make them more like my grandmother's and I was pretty proud of myself. They weren't quite as good as hers, but I suspect I will never reach her level of meatball greatness. So with that in mind, I was quite pleased.


For the meatballs:

  • 1/2 pound ground veal
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 cup fresh white bread crumbs (4 slices, crusts removed)
  • 1/4 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 extra-large egg, beaten
  • Vegetable oil
  • Olive oil

For the sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon good olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion (1 onion)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup good red wine, such as Chianti
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, or plum tomatoes in puree, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For serving:

  • 1 1/2 pounds spaghetti, cooked according to package directions
  • Freshly grated Parmesan


Place the ground meats, both bread crumbs, parsley, Parmesan, salt, pepper, nutmeg, egg, and 3/4 cup warm water in a bowl. Combine very lightly with a fork. Using your hands, lightly form the mixture into 2-inch meatballs. You will have 14 to 16 meatballs.

Pour equal amounts of vegetable oil and olive oil into a large (12-inch) skillet to a depth of 1/4-inch. Heat the oil. Very carefully, in batches, place the meatballs in the oil and brown them well on all sides over medium-low heat, turning carefully with a spatula or a fork. This should take about 10 minutes for each batch. Don't crowd the meatballs. Remove the meatballs to a plate covered with paper towels. Discard the oil but don't clean the pan.

For the sauce, heat the olive oil in the same pan. Add the onion and saute over medium heat until translucent, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the wine and cook on high heat, scraping up all the brown bits in the pan, until almost all the liquid evaporates, about 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, parsley, salt, and pepper.

Return the meatballs to the sauce, cover, and simmer on the lowest heat for 25 to 30 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through. Serve hot on cooked spaghetti and pass the grated Parmesan.

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