Thursday, June 3, 2010

Easy. Light. Just Right.

That's the way I felt about this pasta. Well let me clarify on the "light" I don't mean light as in low fat, but rather in like not heavy. It's definitely not low fat with the pound of mozzarella in it and topped with parmesan cheeses. We had been out of town and while we ate deliciously, we had things like burgers, ribs, pizza, etc. So when planning my meals out once we got home this sounded just right. Something homey and hearty without being heavy. I also loved the fact that it was quick and easy- the perfect thing to make on a night that I had to go to the store.
I will definitely make it again. Ryan was a big fan and sometimes- as much as we love meat, something without it sounds good, so here ya go...

Baked Penne with Mozzarella and Basil

1 pound box penne pasta
16 oz. jar of vodka sauce ( I bought the expensive stuff this is a major component of it turning out good- and I had a 26 oz. jar and used it all- wouldn't want any less)
1 pound fresh mozzarella, cubed
1/ 2 cup loosely packed fresh chopped basil
shredded parmesan to top
*I would prob add garlic next time for some extra flavor.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook pasta according to package. Drain well and return to pot. Mix in vodka sauce, basil, mozzarella (salt and pepper). Pour into a two quart baking dish and top with parmesan. Bake for 20-25 minutes until bubbly.

We made bruschetta on the side. A little repetative, but it actually worked for us. And also, I got some potted herbs for mother's day that I have been loving making good use of any chance I get. It's just too bad my tomatoes aren't grown yet, then we will really be in business. This was DEEE-lish.

I toasted french bread in the broiler (on both sides so it was crispy). In a bowl I combined fresh chopped tomatoes, fresh chopped basil, fresh minced garlic, salt, pepper, a dash of olive oil, and a dash of balsamic vinegar. Topped it on the toasted bread, and topped that with the shredded parmesan. I don't think most people do this but I did once it was assembled I stuck it back in the broiler jsut long enough to start melting the cheese just to kind of mold it all together. Ryan and I both packed some pieces of those puppies away. YummY.

And yes, that is a bitten into piece of bruschetta. I couldn't even wait to take a pic to sink me teeth into it. It's just that good. =)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Cobbler of Resourcefulness

At our house here in Lawrence we have a giant mulberry tree perched on the edge of our neighbor's driveway and shading our front lawn. Since this (elderly) neighbor has complained multiple times about berries dropping on her driveway we had considered cutting it down (at the suggestion of said neighbor). However, now that I know I can bake with the bountiful berries from the tree, I am content to sweep her driveway and reap the fruits of the season! After a bit of web research, I laid out a tarp on the front lawn and began vigorously shaking the branches to get the berries to fall to the ground. I probably looked pretty funny doing so, but I think it's worth it for an endless supply of free berries!

The first recipe I tried with the berries is a cobbler. I adapted a recipe from, substituting buttermilk for some of the milk. If I made this recipe again, I would be sure to use unsalted butter, but this was a use-what-you-have-on-hand kinda day! I'd probably also add a little sugar to the batter.

2 cups mulberries, or more
1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar
6 T butter, melted
3/4 c flour
1/4 to 1/3 cup rolled oats (optional)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup milk (I used about 1/2 buttermilk)

Preheat oven to 350. Mix berries and sugar thoroughly. Pour butter into 8x8 glass dish. Mix dry ingredients and milk. Pour over melted butter (do not mix - the butter kinda makes the crust - yum!). Then sprinkle berries over the batter. Bake for about 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Friday, May 7, 2010

A Different Kind of Cobbler!

With summer fast approaching I know I will be making my berry cobbler verrrry soon! But I do want to share this recipe I made for the 1st tiem voer the winter adn have made a few times since. I'm sure I sound like a broken record, but it is so good, EASY, and easy to keep the ingredients on hand- definitely qualifying it as a keeper in my book! It is originally from our local paper. Before I made it I though, "Chocolate cobbler, hmmmm, what is chocolate cobbler going to taste like?" And after sinking into a bite it was like "Oh, of course, chocolate cobbler!" YUM.

Chocolate Cobbler

2 sticks butter
1 1/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. self rising flour
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 c. milk

Chocolate Layer:
1 c. sugar
6 Tbs. cocoa
2 c. boiling water

Preheat oven to 350. Place butter in a glass 9x13 and melt it in the oven while it preheats.
In a bowl combine rest of "base" ingredients to make batter. Pour over melted butter in pan and DO NOT MIX.
In a second bowl, mix sugar and cocoa, and meanwhile be boiling 2 cups water. Sprinkly cocoa mixture over butter and batter, again NOT mixing. Pour boiling water over the top and again DON'T STIR. Stcik it in the oven and bake 30- 45 minutes. Be careful not to over cook.

Don't know why I took the pic before adding the vanilla ice cream!?! What was I thinking?

I know, I know allll that sugar and butter- so bad, but oh so good!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Family Friendly

I stole this recipe from my friend, who also put it in our church cookbook. She's got two young kids, confirming this was the family friendly kind of dish I was looking for. It ain't fancy, but it's hearty and fairly kid pleasin'. Besides, it's made with Pillsbury crescents- and honestly I love EVERY recipe I ever make with Pillsbury crescent rolls- seriously. A lot of you may make a similar version of this dish.

Chicken Rolls

1 can refrifgerate cresent dinner rolls
2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1 c. shredded cheddar
* I also added chopped green onion for flavor

1 can cream chicken soup
1 c. milk
1 c. shredded cheddar

Preheat oven to 325. Heat sauce ingredients together until smooth.
Seperate rolls into triangles.I just mixed the chicken, cheese, and green onion- then placed a little bit of mixture on each triangle and roll as you normally would. Place in 10x6x2 dish (or something similar), top with sauce and bake for 45 minutes until very brown.

(I made this abck in January but if I remember right from looking at the pic, I think I may have sprinkled some paprika on top before baking, just for color).

Remove from oven and let the fam dig in.

Stuffed Chops

Usually while standing in the grocery check out line I am eyeing all the cooking magazines. But being amazed how much they can charge for those things, I usually have an easy time passing. This last time though, I was not so strong and totally splurged to bring home with me the issue of Better Homes and Gardens: The Best Comfort Food. I wanted to make all of it, and have made several recipes already. Here's my plug- I think its available until mid April, so if you want pick yourself one up- all the recipes look awesome and we have liked al the stuff we've tried so far! The one below was definitely brag worthy. It's not hard, just involved, so it will be so much more enjoyable if you make it with plenty of time on your hands. It's a GREAT company dish that will totally impress.

Apple Stuffed Pork Chops

1 Tbs. butter
1 cooking apple- peeled, if desired, sored and chopped
1/3 c. chopped onion
2 tsp. fresh snipped sage (1/2 tsp if you use dried)
2 Tbs. shredded white cheddar
4 pork rib chops or loin chops

Bread crumb topping
1 c. coarse soft crumbs from crusty bread
2 Tbs. butter, melted
2 Tbs. chopped walnuts ( I omitted)
1 Tbs. fresh snipped Italian (flat leaf) parsley
2 tsp. finely shredded lemon peel

Cheese Sauce
2 Tbs. butter
2 Tbs. all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
dash of pepper
1 c. chicken broth
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 Tbs. apple juice (or Calvados- I didn't have nor was I going to buy- the apple juice worked great)
1/2 cup shredded white cheddar ( 2 oz.)

1. preheat oven to 375.
2. for stuffing- in medium skillet, melt butter over medium heat. add apple, onion, sage and cook until tender.
Stir in 2 Tbs. of cheese and set aside.
3. Trim fat from chops. Make pocket by cutting horizontally. Divide stuffing into chops and if needed use toothpick to secure. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

4. In bowl: combine bread crumbs, butter, parsley, and lemon (walnuts too if using). Place chops in roasting pan and sprinkle with crumb mixture.

5. Bake 40-50 minutes or until 160 degrees with clear juices.

6. For sauce, in sauce pan melt butter over medium heat. Stir in flour and salt and pepper. Add chicken broth, cream, and Calvados or juice. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir 1 minute more. Stir in cheese until melted and smooth. Serve over chops.

** I didn't skimp on the ingredients-used all fresh and splurged on a block of good white cheddar.
(Since I am posting this later than planned, not sure if you can get this edition of BHG still on the stands.)

Again I gave myself plenty of time to make this and it was really fun and the pay off was well worth it. So good. I wasn't sure if it was really up Ryan's ally, but he even loved it. Yummy with the potato wedges as mentioned below.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Heavenly Potatoes

That's how Ryan would describe them atleast. And man, they sure do smell Heavenly!!

So I have several recipes piled up I have been wanting to post for a while, but haven't had a chance- but after making these last night I was motivated to share ASAP.

These potatoes are an easy, simple ingredients, side that will make any husband (or any husband like mine atleast =) rave. We have our second batch for our leftover pork- more on that to come- in the oven now.
Make these, you'll thank me.

Parmesan Potato Wedges

6 medium Russet potatoes ( 6 was too many to fit on my baking sheet- either plan on using 2 pans or only use four potatoes- the leftovers probably aren't the great as the fresh out of the oven, anyway)

1/3 cup butter, melted
1 clove garlic, minced (I used 2, well, jsut cause I love me some garlic)
1/4 cup GRATED Parmesan
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper

Preheat oven to 425. (I made them in my bottom oven that heats hot- HOT is good- you want them bad boys to brown and crisp)
Line 15x10 baking sheet with parchment paper (or foil).
Cut each potato into eights lengthwise- to make wedges.
In large bowl, mix the rest of the ingredients and add potatoes- tossing to coat.
Place wedges on lined baking sheet and bake uncovered about 30 minutes or until tender (and crispy if you like 'em like we do.
*I also put my oven racks in the very top and very bottom position and split the baking time on each rack so that they got nice and brown on bottom and top (but not burned!)

Remove and take a trip to potato paradise.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

CopyCats (Part Two)

So this seems so typical of how Ryan and I work. We used to go to Chili's all the time when we were dating in highschool. If we ordered dessert we always got the molten chocolate cake. It is good, but I was always deep down secretly longing for my favorite- Chocolate Chip Paradise Pie. But I thought it wouldn't be Ryan's thing, so I always just gladly shared the chocolate cake.

This year, after eight years of being together, we went to Chili's on my birthday and I decided it was time. It was my birthday after all and I was going to get whatever I really wanted, and my sweet husband of course, more than obliged. Well, as it turned out he was in love and liked it I think even more than I do, haha, of course. So you can imagine how excited we were when I saw it in my previously mentioned new cookbook.
I gave it a whirl last night. When baking the cookie part, I wasn't sure- the texture seemed fluffier. But once I topped with that crazy good ice cream, caramal, and fudge, it became that gooey dessert that I so love.

Chili's Chocolate Chip Paradise Pie

3 Tbs. butter
1/3 cup graham cracker crumbs
3 Tbs. sugar
1/3 cup chocolate chips

1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/3 cup milk
1 Tbs. veg. oil
1 tsp. vanilla
1/3 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup crushed walnust or almonds (I used crushed sliced almonds b/c I think they are less overwhelming- I don't really like big chunks of nuts in things)

To Serve
vanilla ice cream
hot fudge
caramel syrup

Preheat oven to 350.

For crust, mix melted butter, cookie crumbs, and sugar. Press into a 1 qt. baking dish and top with choc. chips. Bake for about 5 min or until chocolate is melted. Spread the chocolate evenly over crust.

For the filling, mix 1st three dry ingredients. Then add milk, oil, and vanilla, strirring until smooth. Stir in chips, coconut, and nuts. Pour into crust and bake 35 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.

Serve warm with toppings and ENJOY!

CopyCats (Part One)

For Christmas I got a cookbook from my MIL  that is America's Most Wanted Recipes: Delicious Recipes from Your Families Favorite Restaurants (by Ron Douglas). It has been fun to look through it and get excited about making some of the yummy "eating out" food at home!!! I have tried two of the recipes and they are both great.

So first, New Year's Eve I made this pasta that I could tell by looking at the ingredients was right up my ally! I have never eaten at California Pizza Kitchen, which is where this one is from, so I don't know if it tastes like the original or not, but we enjoyed it either way!

California Pizza Kitchen's Chicken-Tequila Fettuccine

1 lb. fesh or dried spinach fettucine
1/3 plus some to garnish fresh chopped cilantro
2 Tbs. minced fresh garlic
2 Tbs. minced jalapeno pepper (seeds and veins removed)
3 Tbs. butter
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 Tbs. gold tequila
2 Tbs. lime juice
3 Tbs. soy sauce
1 1/4 lb. chicken breasts, diced
1/4 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 each medium red, yellow, and green bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Cook the cilantro, garlic, and jalapeno in 2 Tbs. of the butter over medium heat for 4-5 min. (I didn't use quite as much garlic and jalapeno as the recipe called for). Add the stock, tequila, and lime juice. Bring toa boil and cook until reduced to pastelike consistency; set aside.

Pour soy sauce over diced chicken and let set alteast 5 minutes.
Boil water and cook pasta according to directions.

Meanwhile, cook onion and peppers in remaining tablespoon of butter, until limp. Then add chicken, toss, and add reserved tequila lime paste. Add the cream. Bring mixture to a boil and cook until chicken is cooked through.

Drain cooked pasta and toss with the sauce. Garnish with extra cilantro.

And you know what else I loved about this recipe??? Grab yourself some tomatoes while your at the store and use all your leftover veggies from this recipe to make a fabulous homemade salsa:

Take your tomatoes, onion, lime juice, jalapeno, pepper (I chose the yellow pepper only) cilantro, some salt and cumin, a little bit of extra tomato juice to make it a little runnier- throw them all in the food processor-

Twirl that bad boy around a little and voila-


I Did It!!!

I finally got brave. Two of my bloggy friends did it and I figured just maybe I could too! On Christmas Eve Day I made Pioneer Woman's homemade cinnamon rolls. They turned out good- I thought they were just a little too sweet- if I were to do it again I would put a little less sugar in the roll up step and some extra cinnamon. The frosting though was TDF ("to die for"- you like that?=). I took them Christmas Eve night and gave them to family for breakfast on Christmas morning. It was kind of fun and if you're feeling up for a baking adventure, you can get her recipe here.