Sunday, February 21, 2010

Cranberry Mini Muffins

I've had a silicone mini muffin pan for a long time, and just never got around to using it. First, I was afraid that it wasn't Ye ole internet turned up no real answers. Recently, I've been thinking about making some muffins up, but had a tough time finding a mini specific recipe. So, I again googled how to modify to mini muffins... and had some trouble. However I changed my search terms, I had success this time around. So, I made a recipe I found on allrecipes.


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil Substituted 1/4c applesauce


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C). I baked at 350 for minis
  2. Stir together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Make a well in the center. In a small bowl or 2 cup measuring cup, beat egg with a fork. Stir in milk and oil. Pour all at once into the well in the flour mixture. Mix quickly and lightly with a fork until moistened, but do not beat. The batter will be lumpy. Pour the batter into paper lined muffin pan cups.
  3. Variations: Blueberry Muffins: Add 1 cup fresh blueberries. Raisin Muffins: Add 1 cup finely chopped raisins. Date Muffins: Add 1 cup finely chopped dates. Cheese Muffins: Fold in 1 cup grated sharp yellow cheese. Bacon Muffins: Fold 1/4 cup crisp cooked bacon, broken into bits.
  4. Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden. I checked first at 10 minutes, but they took about 15 in all.
I had some raisins, and I had some Craisins. I went with the Craisins. I put them in the food processor, but that didn't get them super fine, but it was just fine here.

This was not a bad recipe per se, and I (and The Boy) can't stop snacking on them, but there's something missing from them. I wonder what whole wheat flour would do, or maybe substituting brown sugar for some of the white. In reading some of the reviews on allrecipes, others suggested using a diced apple with some vanilla and cinnamon; that sounds delicious!!

Turkey and Artichoke Stuffed Shells with Arrabbiata Sauce

I found this in my Google Reader from Made with Love.... You can see her post here. You can also find the recipe on

I made my sauce a little differently than the recipe suggests. I sort of blended the sauce recipe given with the shells and Giada's Arrabbiata sauce from Everyday Italian. In addition, the sauce in the book only makes 1 quart, which I figured wouldn't be enough. So, I made the sauce in the book (minus black olives). I'm pretty sure I added an extra can of crushed tomatoes as well, to make a bit more sauce. So while I had that going, I then proceeded with this recipe's instructions of browning pancetta in olive oil, adding more garlic, etc. Does that make any sense? This of course made a lot more than the 5 cups I needed, so I just put it in the freezer for another time.

I made two trays of shells. I made a 9x9 pan for that night and a 9x13 pan for the freezer. The pan we had that night came out great, with one exception. The recipe suggests that we drizzle the sauce over the shells, but this resulted in the pasta not covered not really cooking all the way. It wasn't bad, but the softer parts were way better.

This is definitely a keeper!! No pictures just yet... maybe when I make the freezer pan, I'll take some! I enjoyed it, as did BAJ. It also makes great leftovers, which I just had for lunch. Wahoo for stocking the freezer!! Wahoo for my first stuffed shells!


  • 1 (12-ounce) box jumbo pasta shells (recommended: Barilla) I used store brand
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus 1/2 teaspoon I used regular iodized
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus 1/4 teaspoon
  • 1 (8 to 10-ounce) package frozen artichokes, thawed and coarsely chopped I used a can, which I drainied first
  • 1 (15-ounce) container ricotta cheese
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves I used a combo of sweet basil and purple basil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 5 cups Arrabbiata Sauce, recipe follows
  • 1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella (about 5 ounces)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and partially cook until tender but still very firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 4 to 5 minutes. Drain pasta.

Meanwhile, in a large heavy skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and the garlic and cook until the onions are soft and starting to brown, about 3 minutes. Add the ground turkey, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is slightly golden and cooked through. Add the artichoke hearts and stir to combine. Remove from heat and let cool.

In a large bowl combine the cooled turkey mixture with the ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, eggs, basil, parsley, and the remaining salt and pepper. Stir to combine.

To stuff the shells, cover the bottom of a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking dish with 1 cup of Arrabbiata sauce. Take a shell in the palm of your hand and stuff it with a large spoonful of turkey mixture, about 2 tablespoons. Place the stuffed shell in the baking dish. Continue filling the shells until the baking dish is full, about 24 shells. Drizzle the remaining Arrabbiata Sauce over the shells, top with the grated mozzarella. If freezing, cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 1 day and up to 1 month.

To bake, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Bake until the shells are warmed through and the cheese is beginning to brown, about 60 minutes (20 minutes if shells are unfrozen.)

Arrabbiata Sauce:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

6 ounces sliced pancetta, coarsely chopped

2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes

2 garlic cloves, minced

5 cups jarred or fresh marinara sauce

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the pancetta and saute until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute until tender, about 1 minute. Add the marinara sauce and red pepper flakes and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and let cool until ready to use.

Yield: approximately 6 cups

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Grilled Cheese twist

I found this idea forever and a half ago in Kraft's Food and Family magazine. It is a favorite in our house, and I doubt I've ever blogged about it. Have I mentioned that mozzarella, tomato, and basil is my all time favorite combination? Despite disliking roasted red peppers, if they're serving it with the above, I'm sold.

Anyway, so you just make your grilled cheese like you normally would, except you use mozzarella, add a slice of a tomato, a leaf of fresh basil, and make it on sourdough bread. (I have to say, the sourdough is really key--it doesn't work well on regular old sandwich bread, but imagine it would also be very tasty on Semolina!).

There you have it---the twist on Grilled Cheese!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Italian Mac n Cheese

I found this in my Google Reader on Living Insanity's Loving Food on Friday and marked it with the intent of making it that night for dinner. Plans changed and I pushed it instead to tonight.

When BAJ asked what dinner tonight was, I suspect he rolled his eyes to hear that I was making mac n cheese, which is certainly not typically a meal he enjoys. He came in as I was cooking and said, "there's mushrooms in this mac n cheese? and sausage?" Clearly, his interest was piqued, and he realized this was not the typical mac n cheese recipe.

I didn't know what bulk sausage was (until I was already cooking and looked it up). It apparently is those Jimmy Dean sausages that are in the frozen section, and not the typical Italian sausage that I used. It would be interesting to try it that way too.

I also bought 8 oz of Italian cheese. I just went and sprinkled shredded mozzarella on top.

Finally, I went to Acme for what I needed. Acme is not known for having fancy stuff. The only mushrooms in their case were white and portobello, so I went for the on sale sliced white mushrooms.

  • 1 pound ziti rigate, penne rigate or cavatappi (ribbed, hollow corkscrews)
  • 1 pound Italian bulk sweet sausage I used Italian sweet sausage
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3 or 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 12 crimini mushrooms, sliced pkg of sliced white mushrooms
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 (10-ounce) sack, 2 1/2 cups, shredded Italian 4 cheese blend, available on dairy aisle
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, drained well
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce (recommended: Tabasco), optional
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan, a couple of handfuls


Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt water and cook pasta to a chewy al dente, about 8 minutes.
In a nonstick skillet, brown and crumble the sausage. Drain cooked crumbles on paper towel lined plate. Return pan to heat and add extra-virgin olive oil, butter, garlic and mushrooms. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Saute 3 to 5 minutes, until mushrooms are lightly golden.
Preheat broiler to high.
To mushrooms, add flour and stir, cooking 2 minutes. Whisk in stock, then stir in cream. Bring cream to a bubble, then stir in 2 cups of 4 cheese blend. When cheese has melted into sauce, add tomatoes. When sauce comes to a bubble, remove from heat and adjust seasonings, adding hot sauce if desired.
Combine cheese sauce with sausage and pasta, transfer to baking dish, casserole or oven safe serving platter. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup of 4 cheese blend and the grated Parmesan over the top and brown under hot broiler.

My husband really liked this. He went back for seconds, which is unusual for him. Due to the broiling, it didn't have the "hard pasta" that he dislikes so much.
My 2 year old son really liked this. He asked for seconds as well, and ate the sausage, which is unusual for him.
I thought it was a little on the bland side. I wish I had added more Tabasco, or wonder if the Cremini mushrooms would have added more flavor, or using all Italian cheese blend. I would like to try the suggestions of the reviewers on food network's website and add another can of tomatoes or maybe some spinach for some more flavor and veggies!
Definite keeper in these parts!
Pictures coming soon!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Chicken Curry (without Chickpeas) with Tomatoes

This one comes from Robin Miller's Quick Fix Meals, and also can be seen here. (Robin answered my question about substituting the chickpeas! WOW!) As is well known, my husband does not eat chickpeas. So, I just left them out here.

Serves 4
TOTAL TIME: 15 minutes
Prep time: 10 minutes
Active cooking time: 5 minutes
2 cups quick-cooking white or brown rice
2 roasted chicken breast halves
15-ounce can chick peas, drained
15-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup lowfat sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Salt and ground black pepper
Cook rice according to package directions.
Meanwhile, using a fork, pull chicken meat from bone in shreds. Transfer chicken to a medium saucepan. Add chick peas, tomatoes, sour cream, curry powder, and cumin and mix well. Set pan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Simmer 5 minutes to heat through. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Serve chicken curry over rice.

I thought this was pretty flavorful, and was very happy to use up some of my leftover cilantro (since fresh herbs go bad so fast and get forgotten so easily in my house) from Sunday's pico de gallo. My husband, however, had MAYBE three bites. I may have gone a little heavy handed with the curry, but it was still a tasty recipe.
The point of Robin's recipe is to use the leftovers from a previous roasted chicken recipe she made (you can also see it on the website linked above), but I imagine any leftover roasted chicken, including a store bought rotisserie would work well here.
The longest part of this recipe was taking the chicken off the bone. I wish there was something else I could add here to substitute for the chickpeas, they're so stinking good for you, but she was right that we didn't even miss them, but I suspect they would add a nice little flavor to the dish too... and of course, the protein!!
Pictures coming soon!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Pico de Gallo

I've never made pico de gallo, despite loving it a ton. I decided to make it for yesterday's Super Bowl party. I researched a bunch of different recipes, but sort of made my own way with it. Here's what I did:

4 Roma tomatoes, seeded, diced
red onion, diced--maybe 1/4 c
scallions, sliced--about 1 stalk
cilantro--about 1/4c chopped
lime juice from half a lime
chopped garlic--maybe the equivalent of 2 cloves

I meant to put in some diced jalapenos, but forgot. Oops.

I served these with both tortilla chips and pita chips. It was good on the tortilla, but EXCELLENT on the pita!!

I'll definitely be making this one again. So tasty and so healthy. I bet it would be really good on tilapia; I think I'll try it one of these nights I'm on my own for dinner!

Lauren's Mini Aloha Calzones

  • olive oil I used Pam
  • 1 batch pizza crust I used the Pillsbury kind
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 1 cup mozzarella
  • 1 cup diced ham
  • 1 cup diced pineapple (if using canned, drain first!) I used canned crushed pineapple

Preheat oven to 400. Lightly coat a 9x9 baking dish with oil.

Roll out pizza dough and divide into 16 pieces. Combine remaining ingredients in a large bowl.

Take a piece of dough and flatten. Place a spoonful of the pineapple mixture into the dough and wrap the corners around to seal. Place seam side down in the baking dish. Repeat with the rest of the dough.

Bake uncovered for 16-20 minutes.

Happily stolen from Lauren's blog. We had plans to get together with some friends for our monthly get together, and it coincided with Super Bowl Sunday. Although none of us were big football fans (except my husband, that is), we decided to go football esque with our theme. I was in charge of appetizers, and planned several in anticipation of snacking throughout the game. I wasn't really sure what to make, but had my eye on these little buggers, which Lauren made as part of a competition she was in. They looked easy and TASTY, so away I went. They were most definitely tasty, and got raves from everyone who ate them. They weren't, however, very pretty. First problem, I may or may not have sprayed the second pan with Pam. Next problem, I may or may not have drained the pineapple well enough. I also had WAY extra filling.
Since I baked these at my friend's house, I didn't take any pictures--plus, not so pretty anyway. I'm going to try to reheat these to see how they turn out for a second day.

I'm really curious to know whether Lauren made this one up or if she found it somewhere--either way, though, it was GREAT and I will definitely be making it again!! YUM!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Sausage Strata

1/2lb Italian sausage I used hot, BAJ said he prefers the sweet
1/2c green pepper, chopped I I substituted fresh mushrooms
1/2c onion, chopped
can of stewed tomatoes, reserve juice
bread, crusts removed
3 eggs

1. Remove sausage from casings, brown in a skillet, breaking up. Add onion and green pepper, saute about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook about 15 minutes.
2. Spray an 8x8 microwavable pan with cooking oil. Place bread on the bottom (I used 4 here). Spread sausage mixture over, then top with more bread (another 4).
3. Combine eggs, tomato juices, and enough milk to make 2.5 cups. Pour over bread. Cover with Saran Wrap and microwave for 15 minutes.

This is an old recipe of my mom's...definite comfort food for me. I planned to make something completely different, but the meat was bad so I luckily had some sausage defrosted in the fridge so went to that instead. This time, the only bread I had was a whole grain something or other, which really wasn't a good choice--this recipe needs white bread! Otherwise, I was pleased with how this turned out. For some reason, despite following Mom's recipe, it doesn't come out tasting just like Mom's, but it was good anyway. I did like the substitution of the mushrooms, which would probably be good along with a bell pepper too.

Picture coming soon!
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