Sunday, December 26, 2010

Cinnamon Ice Cream

This is a very belated post.  I made this cinnamon ice cream back in November so that our Thanksgiving pies could be served a la mode, and it was delicious.  I had tried a different recipe last year and it was WAY too strong; this one was perfect.  I actually just used the leftovers yesterday morning in a Frosty Latte while the kids turned the family room into a wrapping paper museum.

Cinnamon Ice Cream

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • ten 3-inch (8-cm) cinnamon sticks, broken up
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 5 large egg yolks

Warm the milk, sugar, salt, cinnamon sticks and 1 cup of the cream in a medium saucepan. Once warm, cover, remove from the heat, and let steep at room temperature for 1 hour.

Rewarm the cinnamon-infused milk mixture. Remove the cinnamon sticks with a slotted spoon and discard them or save them for garnish and presentation. Pour the remaining 1 cup cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top.

In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

Stir the mixture constanly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and into the cream. Stir until cool over an ice bath.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Turkey Autumn Chili

Okay, so it's winter.  Whatev.  This yummy chili is still perfectly relevant for these dark winter evenings, and a great way to use any cans of pumpkin from your Thanksgiving stash.  There's perhaps nothing as comforting to eat for dinner than a warm bowl of chili!

Turkey Autumn Chili
  • 1 lb turkey breast cut in cubes (I used ground turkey - make sure you brown it first!)
  • 1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 C pumpkin, peeled, seeded and cubed (I used a can)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 C frozen corn
  • 1/2 C chicken broth
  • 1 T chili powder
  • Optional topping: sliced avocado, shredded cheese, sour cream, etc...

Combine all ingredients (except for toppings) in a 6qt slow cooker.  Cover and cook on the low temperature setting for 10 hours.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Frosty Eggnog Latte

This delicious little drink is precisely the reason I made Eggnog Ice Cream in the first place. It's simple and decadent and would be perfect for entertaining this holiday season. You can, of course, make it with any flavor ice cream; I think a nice peppermint flavor would hit the spot as you're finishing your wrapping or watching the kids dig into their treasures.

I should note that it's imperative you use cold coffee! I completely messed up poor Brooke's demonstration by forgetting to brew the coffee in time to chill it. The result was a luke-warm concoction that tasted awesome but felt really weird.

Frosty Eggnog Latte
just barely adapted from The Pampered Chef
  • 4 cups ice cream, softened
  • 2 cups milk, chilled
  • 2 cups brewed coffee, chilled
  • sugar, to taste
Mix all ingredients thoroughly until smooth. Serve, topping with whipped cream if desired.

Serves 6

Friday, December 17, 2010

Lighthouse Lasagna

This delicious dinner started making its way around an online mom's group I frequent, and I added it to my menu as soon as I saw it. This faux lasagna might not be the best weekday meal due to the simmering and baking time, but it's perfect if you can prep it ahead of time or wait until the weekend. It's easy and delicious, and it feeds an army - it fed my family of four plus gave me lunch for a couple of days.

Lighthouse Lasagna
  • 1 pound ground meat
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Coarse salt
  • 12 ounces egg noodles
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 5 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 bunch scallions, finely chopped
  • 8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Sauté the meat until lightly browned in a large skillet over medium heat, breaking it up as it cooks. Add the tomato paste, tomato sauce, and sugar. (Next time I will add salt too) Fill the tomato paste can with water and stir it in. Simmer, covered, for 15 to 20 minutes.

Fill a large pot with water, salt it, and bring it to a boil. Add the egg
noodles and cook them until tender. Drain the noodles, then return them to the pot. Stir in the butter.

Mix the sour cream, cream cheese, and scallions in a small ­bowl. Make two layers of the ingredients in a large casserole dish, as follows: Spread a little sauce over the bottom of the dish, top with a layer of noodles, then spread half of the sour cream mixture and half of the meat sauce. Repeat these steps. Top the lasagna with the sliced cheddar.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes (I only baked it for 30 mins), until the lasagna mixture is bubbly and the cheese is lightly browned.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Eggnog Ice Cream

A couple of weeks ago, Brooke did a Pampered Chef show at my house. One of the recipes she demo'ed was an awesome Iced Eggnog Latte, and she needed eggnog ice cream to do it. I never pass up a chance to make my own ice cream, so after a quick google search, I had a delicious treat churning away on my counter.

I will post the latte recipe soon, but for now, enjoy the ice cream. I'm sure it will make a lovely addition to your holiday dessert table.

Eggnog Ice Cream

from Allrecipes

  • 2 cups eggnog
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup milk
Mix the eggnog, whipping cream, and milk together in a bowl, and pour the mixture into the freezer container of an ice cream maker. Freeze according to manufacturer's directions. Once frozen, spoon the ice cream into a container, and freeze 2 hours more.

Crockpot Sausage and Hash-Brown Casserole

My sister-in-law bought me Slow Cooker: The Best Cookbook Ever for Christmas last year, and I LOVE it - the title is totally appropriate.  I use it often because, as we all know, I love my crockpot.

I didn't waste any time using it, and prepared the Sausage and Hashbrown Casserole for a brunch on New Year's Eve.  Yes, I'm a bit late in posting this; I'm planning my menu for this year's brunch, and it occurred to me that, though I've made this several times since, I've never posted it on my blog.

The photo isn't overly attractive, as is usually the case with crockpot meals, but the taste is outrageous.  It is so good and has been quite a crowd-pleaser.  It's perfect for company because you do a little bit of prep ahead of time and then dump it in the crockpot while you can tend to other dishes - or just relax on the couch with a mimosa.

(I usually ditch the layering part of the directions and just kind of mix it all up.)

Sausage and Hash-Brown Casserole
Slow Cooker: The Best Cookbook Ever
  • 1 1/2 poulds bulk pork sausage
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 1 Anaheim chili, cored, seeded and finely chopped (I usually omit)
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 16oz package frozen shredded hash brown potatoes, defrosted, or 2 cups fresh shredded hash browns
  • 6 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup prepared salsa 
  • 2 cups shredded mild Cheddar cheese, or 1 cup each shredded Cheddar and pepper Jack
Coat the inside of a 5- to 7-quart slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray or line the insert with a slow-cooker liner according to the manufacturer's directions.

Cook the sausage in a large skillet over high heat until it is no longer pink, breaking up any large pieces with the side of a spoon.

Remove all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the pan and heat over medium-high heat.  Add the onions, chile bell pepper, cumin, and oregano and saute until the onions are softened and translucent, 5 to 6 minutes.  Transfer the mixture to a bowl and allow to cool.

Add the potatoes to the bowl and stir to blend.  In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, and mayonnaise.  Pour over the sausage and potato mixture and stir to combine.

Transfer half the mixture to the slow-cooker insert, then cover with half the salsa and half the cheese.  Repeat the layers with the remaining ingredients.  Cover and cook on high for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, until the casserole is puffed and cooked through (170 degrees on an instant-read thermometer).  Remove the cover and allow the frittata to rest for 30 minutes.

Serve from the cooker set on warm.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Delicatessen Slow Chili

About a million years ago, I signed up to be a part of The Nest's "Test Kitchen" - I wasn't selected for the first round, but in July (like, 5 minutes before we moved!) I was contacted to be a part of a second installment.

The Nest Magazine sent me this recipe for Delicatessen Slow Chili... along with the All-Clad Metalcrafters Soup Pot (for which I canNOT find a link).  Sweet!

So I stumbled around boxes and packing tape and donation piles and created our last real meal in our little townhouse.  There's something kind of off about eating chili in July, but it was one of the best chili's I've ever made.  

The recipe/giveaway was a part of their Fall 2010 issue, but alas - my photo and comments ended up on the cutting room floor.  Booo.  (Do magazines have a cutting room floor?)  However, not only did I snag an awesome new pot (which I highly recommend - I use it ALL the time!), but to make up for it, The Nest Magazine gave me another go-around with a new recipe for their Winter 2010 issue - I can't wait to blog about that one too, once the issue is out.

I couldn't find a link to the recipe, so I'm typing it out as it appears in the magazine, with my changes in parenthesis.  Don't be put off by the number of ingredients; we all probably have 90% on hand (or appropriate substitutions).

Delicatessen Slow Chili
Recipe courtesy of Chef Michael Ferraro, executive chef at Delicatessen in NYC
  • 1/2 pound pork shoulder, diced
  • 1/2 ground beef (I omitted the pork and doubled the beef)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 large onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, roasted (I omitted and diced 2 cloves)
  • 1 1/2 chipotle en adobe, finely chopped 
  • 1/2 cup cooked pinto beans (I used one can)
  • 1/2 cup cooked kidney beans (I used one can)
  • 1 1/2 cups canned and peeled Italian plum tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup white beef stock (couldn't find "white" anywhere, so I used regular)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon sriracha hot chili sauce
  • Optional toppings: sliced avocado, sour cream, sliced scallions, shredded cheddar...
Season the pork and beef with kosher salt and pepper.

Heat pot over high heat.  Add oil and then the pork and beef.  Cook for 10 minutes until browned.

Drain off excess oil and add dried seasonings.

Remove meat from the pan and set aside.

Add the onions and minced garlic to pot and cook until tender.

Add chipotle en adobe and roasted garlic.

Add the meat and the rest of the ingredients and cook over a slow simmer for 2 hours, continuously skimming excess fat.

Taste and add final seasoning of salt and pepper.

Serve with desired toppings.  (I served this over rice.)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Ryan's Famous Turkey

Whether you choose to follow my 4-year-old's delicious recipe or not, I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving full of family, laughter, and delicious food.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce

Mmm.  Cream sauce is delicious.  I don't make it much, for obvious reasons, but it's hard to resist once in awhile.  It's basic and easy and sure to please your palate.  And your belly.  But probably not your waistline.

Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce

  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1 whole Medium Onion, Finely Diced
  • 4 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 2 cans (15 Ounce Each) Tomato Sauce Or Marinara Sauce
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste
  • Dash Of Sugar (more To Taste)
  • 1 cup Heavy Cream
  • Grated Parmesan Or Romano Cheese, To Taste
  • Fresh Basil, Chopped
  • 1-½ pound Fettuccine

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta water.

Heat butter and oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and saute for a minute or so. Pour in tomato sauce and add salt, pepper, and sugar to taste. Stir and cook over low heat for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat and stir in cream. Add cheese to taste, then check seasonings. Stir in pasta and chopped basil and serve immediately. (Thin with pasta water before adding basil if needed.)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Chili Cheese Dog Casserole

I was beyond excited when I found this recipe in my inbox from Taste of Home.  Chili cheese dogs are awesome, and anything I can throw into the oven scores extra bonus points from me.

I was disappointed, though I think this dish still has potential.  I think it still needs more cheese, and the cornbread ended up a bit too dry.  I'm posting the recipe as is, but stay tuned - I definitely want to try this again with some changes.

Chili Cheese Dog Casserole

  • 1 package (8-1/2 ounces) corn bread/muffin mix
  • 1 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 package (1 pound) hot dogs, halved lengthwise and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 can (15 ounces) chili with beans
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese, divided
Prepare corn bread batter according to package directions.  Spread half the batter into a greased 8-inch square baking dish; set aside.

In a large skillet, saute the green pepper, onion and celery in oil until crisp-tender. Stir in hot dogs; saute 3-4 minutes longer or until lightly browned. Stir in the chili, brown sugar, garlic powder and chili powder; heat through. Stir in 3/4 cup cheese. Spoon over prepared corn bread. Spread remaining batter onto hot dog mixture. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 28-32 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. 

Friday, October 29, 2010

Crockpot American Chop Suey

Anything is the crockpot is bound to be a winner, and if you create a pasta crockpot meal, well... that's just pure awesome.

It's rare that I make a recipe that calls for dry pasta to go into the crockpot, so I was surprised by the starchy, gummy texture of the elbows.  Is that normal?  It was a little bit of a turn-off for me, actually, so next time I think I would just cook the pasta separately on the stove.

This makes a TON, so be prepared to eat a lot of leftovers (I mixed some ricotta in for lunch the next day - yum!).  

Crockpot American Chop Suey
  • 1 pound lean ground beef, browned and drained
  • 5 bacon strips, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes --- any flavor, or plain
  • 1 can water (empty tomato can)
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 (26-ounce) jar prepared pasta sauce
  • 1 (16-ounce) package elbow macaroni (I used brown rice pasta)
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (optional)
Use a 6-quart slow cooker. In a large skillet, brown the beef, bacon and onion all together until the meat is no longer pink. Drain well and plop into your slow cooker. Add everything else into the pot except for the pasta and cheese.
Stir to combine. Cover and cook on  low for 6 to 8 hours, or high for about 4. Stir in the raw pasta and cook on high for approximately 30 minutes, or until pasta is bite-tender. Serve in a wide-mouthed bowl with a handful of cheese on each serving.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

If you like to read food blogs, you've probably been reading tons of pumpkin recipes.  And why not?  Pumpkin is a classic fall ingredient, and I love embracing this delicious flavor.

I was looking for something to go along with my morning pumpkin coffee, but was short on time.  After reading a few recipes and deciding to rely on Bisquick, I came up with this pumpkin pancake recipe.

This was so good that by the time I finished cooking and was ready to sit down and eat, most of my family had already finished.  Little sneaks - they would grab a pancake here and there as I filled the plate and feasted before breakfast was officially served.  Even the baby enjoyed chowing down. 

They were light and fluffy with just the right amount of pumpkin spice flavor - not too overwhelming but definitely present.  Delicious.

Pumpkin Spice Pancakes
a Lauren's Kitchen original

  • 2 cups Bisquick
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups skim milk
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Preheat large skillet over medium heat.

Mix all ingredients together until well-combined.

Spray skillet with cooking spray (I used butter flavored).  Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, drop batter onto skillet.  Cook until the edges start firming up a little and you get some bubbles.  Flip, and cook for another 2 minutes or so.

Serve warm with desired toppings (syrup, butter, pumpkin butter, etc).

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Carmelized Apple and Cheddar Panini

Apples are another classic fall flavor, and though our apple-picking bounty is gone, I still haven't grown tired of adding Fujis into my cooking.

I absolutely loved this grilled cheese twist, though I can't say the same for my kids.  Apparently, "things" don't belong in grilled cheese, and I should have served the apples on the side.

Regardless, I liked this, and think this makes a great lunch.

Carmelized Apple and Cheddar Panini
very slightly tweaked from Beantown Baker

  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 dash of cinnamon
  • 1 apple (peeled, cored and sliced)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar
  • 6 slices of good bread
  • 1 Tbsp butter

Preheat panini press.  Melt the butter in a non-stick pan.

Add the sugar and cinnamon and cook until bubbly.  Add the apples and saute until tender, about 5 minutes.

To assemble sandwiches, divide shredded cheese and apples between 3 slices of bread.  Top each with another slice of bread and grill until golden brown on both sides, about 2-4 minutes per side.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Springy Shells

I think it's obvious from the title that I'm a little late in posting this one! I actually had to do some serious detective work to even remember which recipe this is.

But now my memory has been refreshed, and I can rave about this dinner. I think next time I would add a little more cheese (there can never be too much, right?).

Springy Shells
slightly adapted from The Pioneer Woman, by way of Juliann's Easy Eats

  • 16 ounces, weight Pasta Shells (medium) Or Other Short Pasta
  • ½ pounds Broccoli, Cut Into Small Florets
  • ½ pounds Zucchini (about 1 Medium Zucchini) Diced
  • ½ cups Frozen Peas
  • 3 whole Green Onions Sliced (white & Light Green Parts)
  • 3 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 4 Tablespoons Butter
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 20 ounces, weight Ricotta Cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • ½ teaspoons Salt
  • 2 whole Eggs
  • 1-½ cup Parmesan Cheese
  • Black Pepper, Freshly Ground
  • Extra Olive Oil For Drizzling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook pasta until extremely al dente—with still quite a bit of bite.

Melt butter with the olive oil over medium-low to medium heat, then add in the garlic. Sprinkle in a little salt.

Add the broccoli and cook for one minute, then add the zucchini and cook for one or two more minutes. Add the frozen peas, still together then turn off the heat. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, mix the ricotta, eggs, salt, and pepper until well combined.


Butter a 9×13-inch baking dish. Add half the pasta, then spread 1/3 cup of the ricotta mixture over the surface. Sprinkle 1/3 of the Parmesan over the ricotta, then ½ of the vegetables. Repeat with the rest of the pasta, the rest of the ricotta, and another 1/3 of the Parmesan. End with the rest of the vegetables and the rest of the Parmesan. Top with mozzarella

Drizzle with a couple of tablespoons olive oil, then bake for 25 minutes on 350 degrees or until nice and hot.

Serve with extra Parmesan, crusty French bread, and chilled white wine. Yummy!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Crockpot Pasta e Fagioli

As a working mom, there's probably nothing in my kitchen that I value as much as my crockpot. There is really nothing like stumbling home with all my school work, plus my two kids and all of THEIR stuff, to a kitchen that smells fantastic and has dinner waiting for me. And soups are just the epitome of fall cooking!

I think I prefer the stovetop version of pasta e fagioli, but putting it in a crockpot is definitely easier for me right now. And it's still so delicious... I see this soup making many more appearances in my kitchen this fall!

Pasta e Fagioli
adapted very, very slightly from Cooking This and That

  • 1 can Great Northern Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 pound ground beef, browned and drained
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 quart beef broth
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon marjoram
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 3 cups dried pasta, cooked

Combine all ingredients but pasta in a 4 to 7-quart slow cooker. Cook on Low for 8-10 hours or High for 4-5 hours. At the end of cooking time, add the cooked pasta and serve immediately.

Garnish with grated Parmesan cheese if desired.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Pizza Puffs

I made these little puffs as a fun dinner (who doesn't love bite size pieces that you can dunk?!), but we didn't have nearly enough. They were so delicious that we couldn't pop them into our mouths fast enough. I'll be doubling next time for sure, or maybe coupling them with another fun appetizer.

This puffs are sure to be a hit the next time you entertain, as well - and the possibilities are endless! Combine your favorite pizza toppings or flavor combinations for a fun twist.

Pizza Puffs
Adapted from Megan's Cooking

  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup vegetarian beef crumbles (or just ground meat)
  • 4 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup pizza sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons sliced green onions
Preheat oven to 375o. Grease a 24-cup mini muffin pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder; stir in the milk and egg.

Stir in the cheese and meat and let stand for 10 minutes.

Stir the batter and divide among the mini-muffin cups. Bake until puffed and golden, about 25 minutes.

Microwave the pizza sauce until warmed through. Sprinkle the tops of the puffs with the green onions. Serve the puffs with the pizza sauce for dipping.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Turkey Pesto Paninis

I love how my panini press can take a plain old boring sandwich and turn it into something elegant and exciting. I've always thought that having sandwiches for dinner was kind of a cop-out; it was always an act of desperation when my "real" dinner backfired.

But now, I plan for paninis often, and I love experimenting. This might be my new favorite - I never really liked pesto, but it totally rocks in this sandwich. And the melty cheese and the crispy roll... Mmmm. Now if only I could get away with bringing this handy appliance into work so I can have the leftovers for lunch...

Turkey Pesto Paninis
Adapted from Annie's Eats

  • 4 sandwich rolls
  • 8 slices of turkey deli meat
  • 8 slices of mozzarella cheese
  • 3 tbsp. pesto
  • 3 tbsp. mayonnaise

Preheat panini press.

In a small bowl, combine the pesto and mayonnaise in a small bowl and mix until blended.

Split the buns and layer each sandwich with 2 slices of turkey and 2 slices of cheese. Spread a thin layer of the pesto mayonnaise on the inner side of the top half of each bun. Replace the top bun over the cheese to assemble the sandwiches.

Grill each panini for about 4-5 minutes, until desired crispiness.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Cheeseburger Pasta

I love trying new pasta dishes, especially ones that incorporate meat; it makes the dish that much more filling.  And throw some cheese in there, and you've got yourself a winner as far as my belly is concerned.

This was so delicious that I immediately regretted not doubling it and having leftovers.  And the fact that you don't even have to cook the pasta?  Score!  Another great dinner from my friend Kelly, and so perfect for those cool autumn nights that NJ seems to be missing right now.

Cheeseburger Pasta
very slightly adapted from Running Mama Cooks

  • 1 lb ground turkey breast
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 3/4 cups water
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1T mustard
  • 2 cups elbow mac, uncooked
  • 4 oz reduced fat velveeta, cubed
Brown meat in a large skillet, drain.

Add water, ketchup, onion, and mix well.

Bring to a boil and add mac. Simmer on med-low heat, covered, for 8-10 minutes (until pasta tender).

Stir in velveeta and cook until melted, stirring occasionally.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Chicken Cheesesteaks

I'm always looking for different things to make with the leftovers from roasting a chicken, and last week I decided to make chicken cheesesteaks.

These were so fast and easy!  They would have been even better on big crusty rolls, but I just threw them on hot dog rolls.  I also don't love how the cheese is kind of clumped on top; next time I will probably melt the cheese in with the chicken for a more consistent coating.

Chicken Cheesesteaks
from Lauren's Kitchen

  • 2T olive oil
  • 1 pepper, sliced
  • 1/2-1 onion, sliced
  • 3-4 cups shredded chicken
  • 4oz low-fat Velveeta, cubed
  • 4 crusty rolls
Preheat broiler.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the peppers and onions and saute until tender.  Add the chicken and saute until warm.  Add the Velveeta and stir until almost completely melted and incorporated.

Divide the mixture among the rolls and heat under the broil to desired done-ness.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Apple Banana Bread

We took the kids apple picking last weekend, and I couldn't wait to start baking with our selection!  My husband has been asking for an apple pie, and I'll get there, but I needed something easy to do that first night.

I loved this recipe because it gave me a use for some of the bananas in my freezer.  It was nice and sweet and made a great breakfast the next morning.

Apple Banana Bread
very slightly adapted from

  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 stick butter
  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 or 3 peeled, chopped apples

Beat sugar, eggs and butter. Slice in bananas. Let mixer do the mashing. Add baking soda, vanilla, cinnamon, and flour. Fold in chopped apples. Fill greased and floured bread pans 2/3 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Pasta with Pancetta and Leeks

I've never cooked with pancetta before, and, after my experience trying to buy it, I must assume that most people don't use this either.  I had to ask FOUR DIFFERENT EMPLOYEES in my local Stop and Shop where I might find packaged pancetta, and no one had any idea.  It was a fellow shopper who eventually pointed me in the right direction.

This confuses me, though, because it was actually very delicious.  Though perhaps not the healthiest dinner, this was fast to whip up and was a hit.  It's perfect not only for fall, but also for those winter days when you crave something comforting.

Pasta with Pancetta and Leeks


  • 12 ounces, weight Pasta, Cooked Al Dente
  • Reserved Pasta Water, If Needed
  • 3 ounces, weight Chopped Pancetta
  • 3 whole Leeks, Sliced Thin
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter
  • ½ cups Dry White Wine
  • ½ cups Heavy Cream
  • Salt And Freshly Ground Pepper, To Taste
  • Parmesan Cheese, Shaved

Preparation Instructions

Cook pasta and set aside. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water.

Saute chopped pancetta until fat is rendered and it starts to brown. Add sliced leeks and cook for 8 minutes. When you add the leeks, you can also throw in a pat or two of butter if you want to. This’ll give the dish some scrumptious flavor. I add it after the bacon is browned because I don’t want the butter to brown. After 8 to 10 minutes, pour in wine, then cook an additional 1-2 minutes, until reduced. Reduce heat to low, then pour in cream. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in Parmesan shavings. Toss in pasta, adding a little pasta water to thin as needed. Serve with Parmesan shavings over the top—delicious!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Asian Turkey Meatballs With Lime Sesame Dipping Sauce

I love meatballs, and I love trying new ways to make them.  This recipe is fast, easy, and healthy - perfect for a quick weeknight meal.  The flavor of the meatballs coupled with the dipping sauce is reminiscent of take-out, only much better for your budget and waistline.

Asian Turkey Meatballs With Lime Sesame Dipping Sauce
from Gina's Weight Watcher Recipes
Servings: 4  Size: 3 meatballs  Calories: 229 • Points: 4.75 pts
  • 1/4 cup panko crumbs
  • 1-1/4 lbs 93% lean ground turkey
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp ginger, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
Dipping Sauce
  • 4 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 chopped fresh scallion
Preheat oven to 500°F.

Mix ground turkey, panko, egg, salt, scallions, cilantro, 1 tbsp soy sauce, and 2 tsp oil and mix with your hands until combined well. Shape 1/4 cup meat mixture into a ball and transfer to a baking dish. Repeat with remaining mixture. Bake until cooked through, about 15 minutes.

For the dipping sauce mix together lime juice, water, soy sauce, and remaining 2 teaspoons of oil in a bowl. Add scallions.

Transfer meatballs to a serving dish. Stir sauce, then drizzle meatballs with 1 tablespoon sauce.

Serve meatballs with remaining sauce. Chances are you won't use all the dipping sauce.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Steakhouse Potato Salad

No summer would be complete without a good potato salad, and I was excited to try this one from Kraft. Of course, you're not really limited to their brands - use whatever bacon and stuff you'd like.

This was really good, but not the best I've ever had. I would make it again because I liked the flavor combination, but I would also like to try some more recipes.

  • 3 lb. small red potatoes (about 9), quartered
  • 1/2 cup Water
  • 1/2 cup MIRACLE WHIP Dressing
  • 1/4 cup KRAFT Ranch Dressing
  • 6 slices OSCAR MAYER Bacon, cooked, crumbled
  • 1 cup KRAFT Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • 4 Green onions, thinly sliced

PLACE potatoes in 2-qt. microwaveable dish. Add water; cover with lid. Microwave on HIGH 12 to 15 min. or just until potatoes are tender; drain. Place in large bowl.

REFRIGERATE 1 hour or until completely cooled.

MIX dressings. Add to potatoes with remaining ingredients; mix lightly.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Tri Colore Orzo

I love pasta salads, and when I need a new one, I almost always turn to my friend Colleen's blog; I consider her a pasta salad guru!

I made this for a party, and I was astounded by how many compliments it received. It almost seems unfair since the most work this salad requires is boiling the orzo... but the flavor combination is just unreal and is perfect for a casual barbecue or a formal dinner party.

  • 1 pound orzo pasta
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1/4 cup
  • 2 cups fresh arugula (about 3 ounces)
  • 3/4 cup crumbled ricotta salata cheese (or feta cheese)
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries (like Colleen, I used dried cranberries)
  • 12 fresh basil leaves, torn
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (I omitted)
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta and put the pasta on a large cookie sheet. Drizzle the pasta with 3 tablespoons olive oil, toss, spread out, and set aside to cool.

Once the orzo is cool, transfer to a large serving bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and toss gently to combine. Serve.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Red Velvet Cupcakes

I made a variety of cupcakes for Danny's first birthday party last month; I seem to be doing that more and more. I can never seem to decide on a cake flavor, and with cupcakes, I don't have to choose!

I have recently become enamored with the Cake Mix Doctor and found this recipe for Red Velvet Cupcakes over at her site. I must confess, however, to using canned cream cheese frosting rather than the peppermint, though I think that would be beyond delicious!

These were simple and fantastic, and I received many compliments on them. But really - who can resist a cute little cupcake?!

  • 1 package (18.25 ounces) plain German chocolate cake mix
  • 1 package (3.4 ounces) vanilla instant pudding mix
  • 1 cup sour cream (see Note)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 bottle (1 ounce) red food coloring
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
  • White Chocolate Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting (see below)

Note: Use reduced-fat sour cream, and you’ll sacrifice only fat and calories, not flavor. If you can’t find plain German chocolate cake mix, buy the pudding in the mix version and forgo the added pudding. For more chocolate flavor, use chocolate pudding mix instead of vanilla, but the cake won’t be as red in color.

1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350° F. Line 24 cupcake cups with paper liners. Set the pans aside.

2. Place the cake mix, pudding mix, sour cream, water, oil, food coloring, and eggs in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping down the sides again if needed. The batter should look thick and well combined. Fold in the chocolate chips. Spoon or scoop 1/3 cup batter into each lined cupcake cup, filling it three quarters of the way full. (You will get between 22 and 24 cupcakes; remove the empty liners, if any.) Place the pans in the oven.

3. Bake the cupcakes until they spring back when lightly pressed with your finger, 18 to 20 minutes. Remove the pans from the oven and place them on wire racks to cool for 5 minutes. Run a dinner knife around the edges of the cupcake liners, lift the cupcakes up from the bottoms of the cups using the end of the knife, and pick them out of the cups carefully with your fingertips. Place them on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes before frosting.

4. Meanwhile, prepare the White Chocolate Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting.

5. Place a heaping tablespoon of frosting on each cupcake and swirl to spread with a short metal spatula or a spoon, taking care to cover the tops completely. Place these cupcakes, uncovered or in a cake server, in the refrigerator until the frosting sets, 20 minutes. The cupcakes are ready to serve.

Store the cupcakes, in a cake saver or under a glass dome, at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Or freeze them, wrapped in aluminum foil or in a cake saver, for up to 6 months. Thaw the cupcakes overnight in the refrigerator before serving.

White Chocolate Peppermint Frosting

  • 6 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 4 ounces (half an 8-ounce package) reduced-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 2 to 2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar, sifted

1. Place the white chocolate in a small glass bowl in the microwave oven on high power for 1 minute. Remove the bowl from the oven and stir with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until it is smooth. Set the chocolate aside to cool.

2. Place the cream cheese and butter in a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until well combined, 30 seconds. Stop the machine. Add the melted white chocolate and blend on low speed until just combined, 30 seconds. Add the peppermint extract and 2 cups of the confectioners’ sugar and blend on low speed until the sugar is incorporated, 30 seconds more. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until the frosting is fluffy, 1 minute more, adding up to 1/2 cup more sugar if needed to make a spreadable consistency.

3. Use to frost any chocolate cupcakes of your choice.

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