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.

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