Monday, January 31, 2011

Spaghetti Puttanesca


It was almost two years ago to the day that I last made Spaghetti Puttanesca.  As I made my meal plan for the week, I went to my "yum" category here to find some things to make that we've enjoyed in the past, rather than my typical always searching for something new to make.  I chose this one because, not only did we really enjoy it, but it was fast, easy, and would satisfy Meatless Monday!

As I've said before, I love a pantry meal, and this fits that bill.  Although the recipe calls for whole tomatoes, this time around, I used crushed ones.  It made for a much more saucy recipe (I like it SAUCY!), but was just as tasty.

  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 6 rinsed anchovies, (optional)
  • 1 can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes, and their juice
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 1/2 cup chopped pitted kalamata olives


  1. Cook spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water according to package instructions; drain; return to pot.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, crushed red pepper, and anchovies, if desired, mashing them with a wooden spoon. Cook, stirring, until garlic is fragrant, 2 minutes.
  3. Add whole tomatoes and their juice, breaking up tomatoes with hands. Stir in capers and olives. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer until thickened, 5 to 10 minutes. Toss with pasta; season with salt and pepper.

Read more at Spaghetti Puttanesca - Martha Stewart Recipes

Turkey Pesto Sliders


Oh, how I love a pantry meal.  I've made this one before, but got some prettier pictures and with my modification too!  These little buggers are so easy and so delicious, the three of us really love them.

Even though I am not a fan of roasted red peppers, the first time I made these, I decided they would be excellent with that addition.  I'm really happy with these sandwiches with the peppers; it's just the right blend of flavors... as they might say on Worst Cooks in America, "layers of flavor."

I went to the regular grocery store, and so I used Pepperidge Farm Deli Flats.  Delicious!

Turkey Pesto Sliders
Printer-Friendly Version
6 slider buns
6 slices of turkey deli meat
6 slices of provolone cheese
6 halves of roasted red pepper
3 tbsp. pesto
3 tbsp. mayonnaise
2 tbsp. butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 400˚ F. Line a baking sheet with foil or a silicone baking mat. Split the slider buns and lay a folded slice of turkey on the bottom half of each bun. Layer each with a slice of provolone, top with roasted red pepper. In a small bowl, combine the pesto and mayonnaise in a small bowl and mix until blended. 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. Brush the tops of the buns lightly with melted butter. Bake 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the sandwiches are warmed through.

Chicago Style Pizza...?


A few weeks ago, I tried Annie's recipe for pizza dough, Perfect Pizza Crust.  I used half, and froze the rest.  The other night, I tried the frozen dough and wanted to try to do it Chicago style.  I found this recipe for Chicago style pizza dough, and followed it using the dough I already had.

I've been using a pizza stone for some time, and my pizza pan has been relegated to the drawer under the oven.  The benefit of making pizza in the pan rather than on the stone was that, even though the dough didn't stretch all the way to the edge of the pan, I was able to get it much more round than shaping it on the counter, which made a much prettier pie.

It didn't come out as deep dish, but I wonder what would've happened if I'd used the whole ball of dough instead of half.  At any rate, this was delicious again!


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Fluffy Hot Chocolate


It's quickly becoming a tradition in the Mad Men kitchen to have a mug of hot cocoa after playing in or shoveling snow.  We've drunk a lot of hot chocolate in the past few weeks.

Today I had the desire to make from scratch. I found this recipe on allrecipes.  It was highly rated, I had all the ingredients; yippie!

A tried and true Swiss Miss fan, I but those boxes like crazy when they go on sale at like 79 cents a box.  But this is even cheaper, and has all ingredients you'd recognize--cocoa, sugar, milk... the only not really REAL ingredient is the marshmallows (but, be honest.  You know you're putting those marshmallows into the Swiss Miss anyway ;)  )

This was so easy and so tasty.  It got a thumbs up from the hubby and The Boy asked for seconds.  Hubby even saved the leftovers for another time.


Fluffy Hot Chocolate; slightly adapted from allrecipes
  • 8 teaspoons sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking cocoa
  • 4 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon


  1. In a saucepan, combine the first four ingredients. Cook and stir over medium heat until the marshmallows are melted, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in vanilla and cinnamon. Ladle into mugs.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Hawaiian Chicken


When my friend Lisa put out the call for testers for Cooking Light recipes, I was quite happy to help.  I must have been one of the first to reply, and got my first choice to try out.  I picked Hawaiian Chicken because the only thing I needed to buy was chicken, and it sounded delicious.

I made a few changes, some because of my own poor planning.  First, I realized about 3 hours before dinnertime that I needed to marinate for four hours.  Yup, I chose a recipe in the "marinating" category and totally didn't.  Doh.  So, it got about 2.5 hours of marination.

Next, I used my George Foreman.  I preheated it at 350 degrees (it seems that I'm the only one in the world who has a GF with a temperature setting), and flipped after three minutes as directed.  I wanted to make sure I marinated both sides as suggested.  This also meant I didn't get those gorgeous grill marks because of the flipping.

When it came to the rice, I used brown Minute Rice, and added some pineapple juice to it.

I also served with some pineapple chunks, which I popped on the GF.  I should have done it a little longer in order to get those beloved grill marks, but, as BAJ said, "It's just kinda warm pineapple."  Still tastier than cold pineapple!

I typically would have guesstimated on all the measurements in the marinade, but since I was making it "for" someone else, I wanted to measure everything properly.  The marinade was pretty tasty.

The GF may not have been warm enough, but I needed to cook the chicken an additional 3 or so minutes in order to get it done properly.  The meat was still really juicy (I have this awesome habit of totally overcooking chicken on the GF), and the marinade was really tasty.

I won't, however, go crazy and say this was so delicious you need to make it now.  It was tasty, and very importantly for busy weeknights, it was easy and fast (throw that marinade together the night before, or in the morning, and your work is almost all done).  It's something great to have in your repertoire when you're feeling crazy, especially since it requires ingredients you probably have in your kitchen already.

Thanks for allowing me to participate, Lisa!  Go check out her blog; she's got some great stuff and is a HUGE Don Draper fan!

Hawaiian Chicken, from Cooking Light's website.  Cooking Light, January 2011


  • 1/4  cup  pineapple juice
  • 2  tablespoons  ketchup
  • 2  tablespoons  lower-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 1/2  teaspoons  minced peeled ginger
  • 2  garlic cloves, minced
  • 4  (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • Cooking spray
  • 3/4  teaspoon  salt, divided
  • 1/4  teaspoon  black pepper
  • 2  cups  hot cooked long-grain white rice
  • 1/4  cup  chopped fresh cilantro


1. Combine first 5 ingredients. Reserve 1/4 cup marinade; place remaining marinade in a zip-top plastic bag. Add chicken to bag; seal. Chill 4 hours.
2. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Remove chicken from bag; discard marinade in bag. Sprinkle chicken with 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper. Add chicken to pan; baste with 2 tablespoons reserved marinade. Cook 6 minutes. Turn chicken over; baste with 2 tablespoons reserved marinade. Cook 6 minutes.
3. Combine rice, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and cilantro

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Frosty Latte


A few weeks ago, I went to a Pampered Chef party at Lauren's, and Brooke was the consultant.  Lauren made this tasty drink using eggnog ice cream, and I figured it would be a tasty treat using the Oreo Cheesecake ice cream I was in love with.

As the only coffee drinker in the house (horror!), I decided to make only one mug of this.  I was fairly shocked that there's almost no coffee by doing so.  Hmm, it barely tastes like coffee... maybe M would like it after all.

Just don't tell him, cause I want to save this yumminess for myself.

I gulped this thing down so fast, despite the fact that today is a snowy day with temps in the 20s.  Delicious.

I used my handy Pooh Bear mug, which was the perfect size (I wish I could find more mugs like this at the Disney Store; it's not so huge like the others they sell!)

and topped it with some more Oreo crumbs.  Yummy!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Oreo Cheesecake Ice Cream


Since making cinnamon ice cream last week, my husband has been very impressed with my ice cream making skillz.  He got The Boy very excited to help make ice cream again today.  Luckily, The Ultimate Ice Cream Book by Bruce Weinstein came in for me, so we picked up the book then hit the grocery store.  Flipping through the book on the way to the store, there were so many great recipes that we wanted to try...  cherry, peanut butter, etc etc, but when hubby heard a cheesecake ice cream recipe, all the rest faded.

We got the ingredients to make a cherry cheesecake ice cream and an Oreo cheesecake ice cream, but The Boy chose the Oreo one.  So, that's the way we went.

This ice cream starts with a custard base, but unlike the recipe I made previously, this has cream cheese in the custard.  I'm glad that the experience of the cinnamon ice cream has taught me that the flavor of the ice cream changes dramatically when it goes from soft serve esque to hard serve; it is less sweet and much less rich.

Before going in the freezer, hubby remarked that this was really m-fing good.  Yup.  MF.  I tried it again after freezing for almost 2 hours; still fairly soft and really sweet and rich.

I couldn't figure out where in the recipe the cream was added.  Yeah, I read it twice and couldn't find to add the cream, so I figured the recipe meant with milk, so that's when I added it.

Recipe found online at Recipe Chic (Wow, check out her Rocky road recipe; a definite must try!)  Definitely look at Bruce Weinstein's ice cream books.  His recipes are so interesting, though I know I can never get my husband to try red pepper ice cream!

You WANT to make this ice cream.  It's dreeeeamy.

Makes 2 quarts
1 cup sugar
 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
 1 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  3/4c milk
1-1/2c heavy cream
  2 teaspoons grated fresh lemon or orange zest 

3 graham crackers, crushed
Beat the sugar and cream cheese together until smooth and creamy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Set aside. In a saucepan, bring milk to a simmer. Slowly beat the hot milk into the cream cheese mixture. Place back over medium heat and stir until it thickens slightly. Refrigerate until cold. Add in the  cream and the zest if desired. Freeze as directed.
Oreo Cheesecake Ice Cream:
Omit lemon zest. Stir in crumbled Oreo’s after ice cream is frozen.

Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake: Mix ½ cup raspberry jam with 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. After ice cream is frozen, layer the ice cream and the sauce.
Recipe from Weinstein, Bruce. The Ultimate Ice Cream Book. William Morrow, New York. 1999.

Shrimp Scampi


I've made this shrimp scampi from allrecipes a few times before, the first time was actually for Christmas dinner last year.  When I told my husband there was mustard in it, he blanched, but has since become the biggest fan of mustard in shrimp scampi.

When I made it tonight, it came out of the oven looking so beautiful; the shrimp were perfectly pink and curled.  I served it over spaghetti, and with steamed carrots and broccoli, which was also delicious with the scampi sauce.

And, did I mention how easy this is to make?  Did I also mention that not only the three year old, but the nine month old ate this as well?

Delicious shrimp scampi recipe!

  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 tablespoons prepared Dijon-style mustard
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 pounds medium raw shrimp, shelled, deveined, with tails attached


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C).
  2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter, mustard, lemon juice, garlic, and parsley. When the butter melts completely, remove from heat.
  3. Arrange shrimp in a shallow baking dish. Pour the butter mixture over the shrimp.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until the shrimp are pink and opaque.

Monday, January 17, 2011



I've been making my own pizza dough for a good while now.  First, I made it in the bread machine, but then something turned and I don't know if the machine broke or what, but it wasn't turning out right.  Then, I found a super fast dough that was great for me, intimidated by bread making.

But the time has come for me to look for something better.  Annie often posts about different breads and her post about "Perfect Pizza Crust" sparked my fancy.

Oh how glad I am to have tried this recipe.  First, I got to use the dough hook for my Kitchenaid for the very first time.  But the real reason is that this is awesome.  I was busy doing something with the baby, so BAJ was the one who took it out of the oven... a little too early probably, but this crust was so much like pizza crust.  It was soft and chewy on the inside but a little crispy on the outside. 

One note about this recipe is that it's very elasticy.  I couldn't get it to form a circle after rolling, it stuck to the pizza peel going into the oven, and then it puffed up a LOT.  So, not the prettiest pizza, but a tasty one.

Annie's right.  This is, indeed, perfect pizza crust!

Basic Pizza Dough
½ cup warm water (about 110°)
1 envelope (2 ¼ tsp.) instant yeast
1 ¼ cups water, at room temperature
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
4 cups (22 oz.) bread flour, plus more for dusting
1 ½ tsp. salt
olive oil or non-stick cooking spray for greasing the bowl

Measure the warm water into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup.  Sprinkle in the yeast and let stand until the yeast dissolves and swells, about 5 minutes.  Add the room temperature water and oil and stir to combine.  

Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Briefly combine the dry ingredients at low speed.  Slowly add the liquid ingredients and continue to mix at low speed until a cohesive mass forms.  Stop the mixer and replace the paddle with the dough hook.  Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.  Form the dough into a ball, put it in a deep oiled bowl, and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise until doubled in size, about 1 ½ to 2 hours.  Press the dough to deflate it.

To bake, place a pizza stone in the lower third of the oven.  Heat the oven to 500° for at least 30 minutes.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface.  Divide the dough into two equal pieces.  Form both pieces of dough into smooth, round balls and cover with a damp cloth.  Let the dough relax for at least 10 minutes but no more than 30 minutes.

Working with one piece of dough and keeping the other covered, shape the dough and transfer to a pizza peel or round of parchment dusted with semolina or cornmeal.  Top as desired.  Slide the dough onto the pizza stone.  Bake until the crust edges brown and cheese is golden brown in spots, about 8 to 12 minutes.  Repeat with remaining ball of dough or freeze for later use.
Source: adapted from Brown Eyed Baker, originally from Baking Illustrated by the Editors of Cook’s Illustrated Magazine

Nutty Granola

I love yogurt.  My favorite lately has been Greek yogurt, which rocks so hardcore because not only is it loaded with protein, but it also needs no sugar added (yep, even plain no fat Greek yogurt).  One day, I'll try making yogurt.

But for now, I was thinking about things I could mix into my yogurt.  GRANOLA!  I've seen so many times that it's so easy, but am only just now getting around to it.

I looked high and low for a recipe that would use things I have in the house.  Many included wheat germ or other stuff that I didn't feel like buying, but Elly had this version of an Ellie Krieger recipe and it looked perfect!

I have two kinds of oats right now:  Quick cooking and Steel cut.  From the bit of research I did, quick cooking oats aren't good for granola, but I found here that steel cut oats will work.  Mind you, I've had these steel cut oats in my cabinet for so long, but have never tried them, largely because I'm overwhelmed at how long they take to cook.

I tossed in some pecans, but they are old and didn't look so hot.  I picked out what I could and replaced with chopped peanuts.  I also had some Craisins on hand, so used those too.  The  only ingredients I measured were the oats, syrup, honey, and spices.  I eyeballed the nuts and used about half a handful of the dried fruit.

So, here's my version, adapted from Elly Says Opa, Adapted from Ellie Krieger

Nutty Granola

Adapted from Ellie Krieger
Makes 9-10  1/4 cup servings
1.5 cups steel cut oats
1/4 cup unsalted almonds, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup unsalted walnuts, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup peanuts,  coarsely chopped
3 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 Tbsp. honey
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup Craisins
Preheat the oven to 300 and spray a large baking sheet with cooking oil.
In a bowl, combine all the ingredients, mixing well to  be sure everything is coated with the syrup and honey. Spread the mixture onto the prepared sheet and bake for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden  brown. Let cool completely before storing.

The verdict on this is that this is pretty crunchy.  It reminds me of a Nature Valley granola bar.  I'm sure it's because of the oats I used.  I'm not quite sure if I like it.  I do wonder how it would work with the quick oats, and maybe I'll try it that way one day, but steel cut oats might not be the way to go in granola.

Sunday, January 16, 2011



I've long coveted a waffle iron.  I've hemmed and hawed because how often would I really make them?  How much room would it take up in the cabinets?  Is it really worth it?

My grandmother gave me her waffle iron!  So all my my hemming and hawing was for naught.  It is a Mad Men era waffle iron.

It took me three times to get this to work, finally following this recipe's instructions to wait till the steam stops (I had previously tried ATK's recipe, which required beating egg whites) but also turning the temperature down to about 2 or 3.  What a mess all that was to clean up, at least until I figured out the plates were removable.

Another tip that makes that all easier... spray your pan.  This is something that people must know but is never listed in the recipe.  I also think it contributed to the wonderful crisp on the waffles.

So, these were really tasty.  They had a nice crispness to the outside, which I don't think I've ever experienced in a waffle, but was perfectly soft on the inside.

This was in my Betty Crocker's Cookbook, Bridal Edition, but I also found it online here.

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour (or whole wheat)
  • 1/2 cup of melted margarine or butter, or 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1-3/4 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp sugar (or brown sugar, which I used)
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt (1/4t in my recipe)
Beat eggs. Add in the rest of the ingredients and combine until smooth. Pour batter into heated waffle iron. Bake according to manufacturer directions or until steam stops, about 5 minutes.

Crockpot Chicken Taco Chili


When the hubby's away, the mommy will make the food she likes to eat.  With him away so much lately, we've had chili, beef stew, pot roast, and sweet potatoes.  Tonight was no exception.

This recipe has been going around, and I finally succumbed to the many rave reviews.  I know many people use their crockpots for busy worknights, but for me, it's becoming imperative on nights my husband isn't around to watch the boys while I cook.

It's super duper easy, which was great because my three year old did almost all of the pouring of ingredients.

Speaking of my three year old, I made a few modications for his sake.

First, I used a can of Rotel in place of the diced tomatoes with chiles, since it IS diced tomatoes with chiles.  Rotel is 10oz, though.  I also used a can of plain diced tomatoes, because that's what I had.  I figured this would decrease any spice for my boy.  I didn't measure out the spices, so when I tasted at the end of cooking, it was a bit spicy... and I knew he wouldn't eat it.  So, I stirred some sour cream into his chili, and also topped it with some shredded cheddar.  Not only did he not complain about the spice, he kept telling me how good it was, and that I should make it again tomorrow (and that he helped me cook it.)

I also used chicken thighs, because they are so much cheaper.  I actually prefer dark meat usually, but in this recipe you really can't even tell the difference if you DO prefer white meat.

I've seen lots of folks serve this over rice, over pasta, but we enjoyed it plenty on its own, in mugs.

So, this is yummy.  It's pretty easy to customize (you're vegetarian?  leave out the chicken!).  It's very easy to make, and it's pretty good for ya.  Do it, you know you want to.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Cinnamon Ice Cream


After seeing so many posts about homemade ice cream on Lauren's blog, I decided to take the plunge and bought an attachment for my stand mixer.

My son was enticed by the lure of cinnamon waffles yesterday morning, so I figured cinnamon ice cream was a good first choice.  I found a lot of recipes for cinnamon ice cream, but was a little put off by a ton of steps plus separating eggs (I have no problem separating them, but whatever isn't used in the recipe usually goes to waste, no matter how committed I am to the idea of saving them and using them later).  I found this one on allrecipes, and it seemed easy enough, used ground cinnamon, and also called for whole eggs.

I made it:

and, though the manual suggested blending for 20-30 minutes, I let it go for about an hour.  It still wasn't a thick consistency like I'd have expected from hard ice cream... it was more like soft serve, and BAJ kept saying it seemed like whipped cream.  It was tasty, though way too sweet and way too cinnamon-y for my liking.  I think next I need to try one of the recipes that came with the maker, and hopefully the results will be better.

Update:  After putting it in the freezer for awhile, this ice cream really mellowed.  It wasn't too cinnamon-y, and the sweetness cooled its jets too.  We both enjoyed our ice cream sundaes with this a LOT.  I've been dreaming of putting this into coffee (though, alas, only have flavored coffee, and one that won't go well with cinnamon!).


  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups half-and-half cream
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon


  1. In a saucepan over medium-low heat, stir together the sugar and half-and-half. When the mixture begins to simmer, remove from heat, and whisk half of the mixture into the eggs. Whisk quickly so that the eggs do not scramble. Pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan, and stir in the heavy cream. Continue cooking over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a metal spoon. Remove from heat, and whisk in vanilla and cinnamon. Set aside to cool.
  2. Pour cooled mixture into an ice cream maker, and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Mad Men

I had a brainstorm for a new name for this blog.  No, it has nothing to do with cooking for the cast of Mad Men, if you got here by google search.

My house was built in 1964, about the time that Betty and Don got divorced (sorry for spoiling if you haven't yet seen the show).  The only room that hasn't really been modernized is our kitchen.  It's got beautiful, though they seem old fashioned, wood cabinets (with the same hardware as my grandmother's 1965 kitchen, though hers are shiny copper), brick, and red linoleum floors.  When we moved in, the window had original wood windows, which have since been replaced, but it does still have an original, wood door to the backyard. 

All that's different is that we have a dishwasher, and it's missing the smoke and the disdain.

I've jokingly referred to my kitchen as "The Mad Men Kitchen" for awhile now, so it seems like a way more fitting name for my silly blog than "Nothing to See Here."

So, a new name for a new year!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

This is perhaps my most favorite version of classic macaroni and cheese.  It's so easy to make, and the result is great---it doesn't taste bland like your toddler would like, but it also is suitable for your kiddo.  The  Worcestershire sauce and the dry mustard kick it up for you in a grown up way.

I changed it up a little bit this time--I diced up some onions, and sauteed them in the butter in the first step.  I then used whole wheat flour and whole wheat pasta.  I was a little concerned about the whole wheat flour, because I know it can really change the flavor of food, but in this case, it tasted just as good, perhaps because it's a thickening agent rather than a part of the flavor.

I just had it as lunch leftovers, and it was just as good as it was last night!

7 oz uncooked penne pasta (rounded 2 cups)
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 cups milk
2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (8 oz)

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  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Cook and drain pasta as directed on package.
  2. While pasta is cooking, in 3-quart saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Stir in flour, seasoned salt, mustard, pepper and Worcestershire sauce. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is smooth and bubbly; remove from heat. Stir in milk. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute; remove from heat. Using wire whisk, stir in cheese until melted.
  3. Gently stir pasta into cheese sauce. Spoon into 4 ungreased 8-oz ramekins/gratin dishes or 10-oz custard cups. Place filled cups in shallow baking pan (or cookie sheet with sides).
  4. Bake uncovered 20 to 25 minutes or until bubbly.

From Betty Crocker

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Chicken Enchiladas


Ho-ly crap. These are outrageously good.  My picture may look awful, but these tasted pretty much like enchiladas you'd get at On the Border.  I love that I made my own enchilada sauce; it was really easy.  My husband's first bite?  He basically moaned in a wow, this is freaking awesome kind of way.  I didn't think of it in time, but should have made Mexican rice to go along with this.  So, so good!!

Chicken Enchiladas
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1 medium onion, chopped fine
2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped fine
1 tsp. canola oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. cumin
1 tbsp. sugar
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 cup water
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
Salt and pepper
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup shredded sharp white cheddar cheese, divided
1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese, divided
½ cup minced fresh cilantro
12 (6-inch) soft corn tortillas  (I used flour tortillas)
Cooking spray
Combine the onion, jalapeno and oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Cook, stirring often, until the onions and peppers have softened, 8-10 minutes.  Stir in the garlic, chili powder, cumin and sugar, and cook just until fragrant, less than 30 seconds.  Mix in the tomato sauce, water, and chopped tomato.  Bring the sauce to a simmer, lower the heat and cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.
Nestle the chicken into the sauce.  Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the chicken is completely cooked through (160˚ F on an instant-read thermometer), about 12-20 minutes.  Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside to cool.
Strain the sauce through a large mesh strainer into a medium bowl, pressing down on the onions and tomatoes to extract as much liquid as possible.  Transfer the reserved solids to a large bowl and set aside.  Season the sauce with additional salt and pepper to taste.
Shred the chicken into bite size pieces and add to the bowl with the onion mixture.  Add in ¼ cup of the enchilada sauce, ½ cup of each of the shredded cheeses, and the cilantro.  Stir to combine.
Preheat the oven to 425˚ F.  Oil a 9 x 13″ baking dish with cooking spray.  Stack the tortillas on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave for 40-60 seconds, until warm and pliable.  Spoon 1/3 cup of the chicken mixture evenly down the center of a tortilla.  Roll up the tortilla around the filling tightly, and place in the prepared baking dish, seam-side down.  Repeat with the remaining filling and tortillas.
Lightly spray the tops of the enchiladas with cooking spray.  Place in the oven, uncovered, for 7 minutes or until the tortillas start to brown slightly.
Reduce the oven temperature to 400˚ F.  Remove the enchiladas from the oven and pour the sauce oven the top.  Sprinkle with the remaining shredded cheese.  Cover the dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes.
Remove the foil and bake for 5 more minutes, until the cheese is browned.  Remove from the oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Meatless Monday: Gardein chick’n mediterranean rigatoni

It's funny how one little substitution or change can take a recipe from something to something special that's all your own.  At the same time, one little substitution or change can also ruin a recipe.  This is one of the former situations.

The recipe as written calls for sherry vinegar, which I do not have.  I turned to the internet for a substitution, and balsamic vinegar was suggested.  It was kinda not a good choice.

The gardein itself was surprisingly tasty.

chick’n scallopini 1 pkg
other ingredients
rigatoni pasta1 lbs
lemons, zested3
sherry vinegar5 fl oz
olive oil1 cup
chili flakes2 tsp
pepper black1/2 tsp
tomato Sauce (your favorite)2 cups
grape tomatoes, whole2 cups
olive oil3 tbsp
kalamata olives diced1/2 cup
garlic cloves, minced3
roasted red peppers , ½” sliced1.5 cups
capers1 tbsp
white wine2 tbsp
basil fresh, chiffonade4 tbsp
feta cheese (vegan options available)2 tbsp
parsley2 tsp
instructions cook rigatoni as per cooking instructions on package.

for the sauce….mix together lemon zest, sherry vinegar, olive oil, chili flakes, black pepper and tomato sauce.

Fry the scallopini for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown and hot through. Let rest for one minute and cut into 1” slices.

in a non stick pan at medium high heat sauté grape tomatoes in olive oil until dark golden brown 1-2 minutes. Add kalamata olives, roasted red peppers, capers and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add white wine, olive oil sauce, rigatoni and bring to a high simmer. toss with basil and plate.

place pasta in serving dish , garnish with scallopini , feta cheese and parsley.

Found this one on the gardein website.

Meal Plan

Sunday--Spicy Shrimp with Pasta
Monday--Gardein Chick'n Mediterranean rigatoni with Sauteed Kale
Tuesday--On Own
Wednesday--Chicken Enchiladas
Thursday--On Own
Friday--Pulled Pork
Saturday--On Own

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Rasberry Truffle Tart

Mmmm, dessert.  Awwww yeah.

In searching for something to make for Christmas dinner, I stumbled upon this recipe.  Her photography is beautiful and it made the dessert seem outrageously good.

It's outrageously good, and so simple to put together.  The dessert is very rich, but is so smooth and silky. 

We also had a TON of desserts for Christmas dinner (communication, people!), so we had about half of it leftover.  I had heard that baked goods freeze well, so figured I'd give it a go.  It freeze beautifully, and tasted just as good on New Year's Eve as it did on Christmas.

Biscotti Crust:
8 ounces (225 grams) store bought biscotti, broken into pieces
5 - 6 tablespoons (70 - 84 grams) unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup (80 ml) raspberry sauce (recipe follows)
10 ounces (280 grams) semi sweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup (240 ml) heavy whipping cream (contains 36-40% butterfat)
Raspberry Sauce:
1 cup (240 ml) fresh or frozen raspberries (that have been thawed)
2 tablespoons (30 grams) granulated white sugar, or to taste
Fresh raspberries

Raspberry Truffle Tart: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 degree C). Have ready a 8 - 9 inch (20 - 23 cm) fluted tart pan.
Biscotti Crust: In your food processor, place the biscotti and process until finely ground. Transfer to a bowl and add the melted butter. Stir to combine. Press this mixture over the bottom and up the sides of the tart pan. Bake in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely before adding the filling.
Raspberry Truffle Filling: First, make the raspberry sauce. Place 1 cup of fresh or frozen raspberries, that have been thawed, in your food processor and process until the raspberries are broken up. Pour into a strainer, set over a bowl, and gently press the raspberries to extract their juices. Add sugar to taste. You will need 1/3 cup (80 ml) of raspberry sauce.
Place the chopped chocolate in a medium sized stainless steel bowl. Heat the cream in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring just to a boil. Immediately pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and allow to stand for 5 minutes or until melted. Stir until smooth. Stir in 1/3 cup of the raspberry sauce. Pour the chocolate filling into the baked and cooled crust, smoothing the top with an offset spatula. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
To Serve: Cut into small slices and serve with fresh raspberries, raspberry sauce, whipped cream and/or creme fraiche.
Serves about 12 - 14 people.

Read more:

Cranberry Sauce

I had a bag of fresh cranberries from our co-op, so decided to go for homemade cranberry sauce.  I found an Alton Brown recipe; who doesn't love an Alton Brown recipe? 

The sauce tasted fantastic, though it was a little on the thin side and a bit too sweet--these were probably due to not having as much cranberry as was called for in the recipe.

This was awesome, and I'll definitely be making it again.  Who knew that making cranberry sauce from scratch could be so very easy?!


  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/4 cup 100 percent cranberry juice, not cocktail
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 pound fresh cranberries, approximately 4 cups


Wash the cranberries and discard any soft or wrinkled ones.

Combine the orange juice, cranberry juice and honey in a 2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the cranberries and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries burst and the mixture thickens. Do not cook for more than 15 minutes as the pectin will start to break down and the sauce will not set as well. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes.

Carefully spoon the cranberry sauce into a 3 cup mold. Place in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours and up to overnight.

Remove from the refrigerator, overturn the mold and slide out the sauce. Slice and serve.

Cream Cheese Penguins

These little dudes were shared on a message board of which I am a member as a fun activity to do with your kids.  My kid wasn't interested in helping, but I had fun making them anyway.

The "recipe" comes from allrecipes.

They didn't come out as pretty as I'd hoped, but they did bring on the silly.

They're a nice little appetizer, although not quite as tasty as something baked or fried or smothered in dip.


  • 18 jumbo black olives, pitted  (I used Colossal!)
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 18 small black olives
  • 1 carrot


  1. Cut a slit from top to bottom, lengthwise, into the side of each jumbo olive. Carefully insert about 1 teaspoon of cream cheese into each olive. Slice the carrot into eighteen 1/4 inch thick rounds; cut a small notch out of each carrot slice to form feet. Save the cut out piece and press into center of small olive to form the beak. If necessary cut a small slit into each olive before inserting the beak.
  2. Set a big olive, large hole side down, onto a carrot slice. Then, set a small olive onto the large olive, adjusting so that the beak, cream cheese chest and notch in the carrot slice line up. Secure with a toothpick.

Kiss Pies


Looking for an individualized recipe for New Year's Eve, I went to the fabulous Picky Palate for inspiration.  The recipe seemed easy as...pie (groan)...  and her pictures were too darn cute.  Of course, I  had to make them.  I went to the Kisses website, and wanted to use either the cherry cordial or candy cane kisses, but my grocery store didn't have either of those.  I instead chose caramel filled kisses.


I'm pretty sure it was that choice that made these a disaster, since it looked like the caramel oozed out all over the place. 

They were pretty tasty, but not something I would rave and go nuts over.  I didn't even put them out for the kids to eat.

I might try these again, with a different kind of kiss; they are just so darn simple to make that if I can get them to turn out right, they'll be a great recipe to have in the back pocket.

To make it a little bit easier, I used a biscuit cutter to cut the dough around the kiss.

Kiss Pies

1 refrigerated pie crust, thawed
14 Hershey Kisses of choice, I used Mint Truffle today :)
1 egg white whisked with 1 Tbsp water
Powdered sugar for dusting
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Roll out pie dough onto a lightly floured counter top.  Place 10 kisses around the edges of pie dough, about 2 1/2 inches apart (as in the photo above).  Take a knive and cut a 2 1/2-3 inch circle around kiss.  Fold half of pie dough around top of dough and pinch edge around top of kiss.  (See Photo, step 1).  Now, fold up both sides of remaining dough up to the tip of the kiss pinching edge.  (See Photo, step 2).  Now press together edges and form criss cross as shown in photo, step 3. * *Continue cutting dough around kisses until all dough is used up. 
2.  Brush all little pies with an egg white wash then sprinkle with granulated sugar.  Bake for 20-28 minutes or until little pies are golden.  Remove and let cool for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.  Dust each with powdered sugar and serve.
about 14 little pies.

Cranberry Meatballs


I typically serve meatballs for gatherings.  My crockpot recipe is very good, very easy, and allows me to pay attention to other things.  But for New Year's this year, I wanted to try something different.  I turned to my google reader, and stumbled across this recipe.  Hubby happened to glance over while I was looking at her post, and commented that they looked delicious, so I made them.

These were super easy to make.  I used frozen turkey meatballs.  The sauce smelled really great as it was simmering on the stove, but toward the end, I got some on my finger, and so tasted it....  I was suddenly very afraid.

We've had this bottle of "Three Buck Chuck" around the house for a really long time, and that's what I used.  Maybe if I'd used a better tasting bottle of wine (I really don't get all the hype around TBC... it's been pretty nasty the two times I've had it), this would have turned out better.

So, the short of it is that this is a good recipe, but make sure you like the wine you're using!

Cranberry-Red Wine Meatballs
2 cups whole berry cranberry sauce
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup of your favorite red wine (I used our Cab)
2 tsp hot Chinese mustard
2 tsp Worcestershire
1 batch of meatballs, cooked
Add cranberry sauce, brown sugar, red wine, mustard, and Worcestershire to a sauce pan. Heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the meatballs to the pan, stirring to coat and heat thoroughly. Serve warm. Alternately, you can pour the sauce over the meatballs in a crockpot set to warm for serving.

Mini Crab Cakes


When I'm looking to make something that will be a home run and impress guests, I turn to Annie's Eats.  This was no exception.

These little cuties are delicious, and pretty easy to make too.  They're not super cheap (the crab cost about $14 for a pound), but are a great little appetizer.

I had two mini muffin pans; one silicone and one metal.  This made me realize that silicone is definitely the way to go, and I might even replace my metal pans with another silicone one.  The crab cakes in the metal stuck to the pan, even with my spraying with Pam, while the cakes in the silicone slid right out.  I also lost some of the bottom layer in the metal pans that was saved in the silicone.

I found whole wheat Panko bread crumbs in my local grocery store, and used them here.  It was great, and ever so slightly more healthful!  In addition, the crab filling turned out more than was needed to fill the two mini muffin pans, so it could probably have made a whole nother pan (is nother a word?  Because whole another doesn't sound right?)

So, the next time you're having a gathering, try these mini muffin crab cakes.  They're a real treat.  While they are delicious, they are way too rich and decadent to have as a crab cake meal.

Mini Crab Cakes
Printer-Friendly Version
Yield: about 24 mini crab cakes
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
¾ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 large egg
¼ cup sour cream
½ tsp. lemon zest
3 tbsp. minced fresh chives, divided
¼ tsp. kosher salt
Pinch cayenne pepper
8 oz. fresh lump crabmeat, patted dry and coarsely chopped
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
Additional fresh chives, for garnish
In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese, ¼ cup of the Parmesan, and the egg; beat with an electric mixer to blend.  Beat in the sour cream, lemon zest, 1 tablespoon of the chives, salt and cayenne pepper.  Gently fold in the crabmeat.  (This mixture can be made up to 1 day in advance.)
Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Spray a 24-well mini muffin pan with cooking spray.  In a medium bowl, combine the panko, remaining ½ cup of the Parmesan, and 2 tablespoons of the minced chives.  Drizzle the melted butter over the mixture and toss with a fork until evenly blended and moistened.  Place 1 tablespoon of the panko mixture in each muffin well and press down to form a crust.  Spoon 1 generous tablespoon of the crab mixture over the crumb mixture in each well.  Sprinkle a rounded teaspoon of the panko mixture over the top of each.
Bake until golden and set, about 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking.  Allow to cool in the pans 5 minutes.  Run a knife around the edge of each cake and gently lift it out of the pan.  (These can be baked 2 hours in advance.  Rewarm at 350˚ F for 6-8 minutes just before serving.)  Garnish with additional fresh chives, if desired.
Source: barely adapted from Bon Appétit, April 2009

Chocolate Raspberry Thumbprints


One more batch from Cook's Country's Christmas cookie special.  We made these to leave out for Santa, and Santa loved them. 

We had blackberry jam instead of the called for raspberry, so that's what we used and it was a great substitution, though I love the combination of raspberry and chocolate so much that I will be making them as written in the future.

The magazine suggested drizzling the chocolate using a zip bag, and I really struggled with this one--my bag popped as I tried to drizzle, and it just globbed.  My husband did this in another way, so he's responsible for the drizzling.

Eggnog Snickerdoodles


Here's another one from my Cook's Country Magazine and their collection of the best Christmas cookies.  I really wanted to make a bar cookie, but my son chose this one based on the picture.

These were tasty, but not so good as to be among the best Christmas cookies Cook's Country had ever tasted.  They also tasted like regular Snickerdoodles, not so much like Eggnog (even with the addition of rum extract). 

I had some troubles with these; they spread a LOT, making them very thin and crispy, and maybe even a little bit burnt.  I made some changes in the second batch, and so they came out better, but the first batch was not for me.

Chicken Fried Rice


Another one from The Family Dinner.  I think I used too much of the rice wine vinegar, and so we didn't really enjoy this one too much.  But, it's good to know that making chicken fried rice (or really, fried rice of any kind) is really easy, and is a great way to get in some leftover vegetables.

Brown Sugar Smokies

When trying to plan our appetizer meal for New Year's Eve, I turned to a message board I use for inspiration.  Several of the ladies there suggested Brown Sugar Smokies, so I turned to the internet for a recipe.  I found one on allrecipes, and it seemed super easy.

To healthify this a little bit, I used both turkey Little Smokies and turkey bacon, and they still tasted delicious.  (Though I've recently learned that pork bacon is actually more healthful than turkey bacon for a variety of reasons.)

This was a BIG hit, especially with the kids.  I think my Godson ate 5 of them (he's five and doesn't seem to eat a whole lot) and kept asking for more.  In the future, I will probably double the recipe.

I started this in the slow cooker, but not enough in advance for it to be ready on time.  I'll definitely do that again next time.


  • 1 pound bacon
  • 1 (16 ounce) package little smokie sausages
  • 1 cup brown sugar, or to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Cut bacon into thirds and wrap each strip around a little sausage. Place the wrapped sausages on wooden skewers, several to a skewer. Arrange the skewers on a baking sheet and sprinkle them liberally with brown sugar.
  3. Bake until bacon is crisp and the brown sugar melted.

Honey Apple Bites

I recently attended a Pampered Chef party at Lauren's house, and this recipe was made.  They forgot the phyllo dough and instead used Ritz crackers.  I thought this choice was so delicious and so easy, that I did the same for our New Year's celebration.  In fact, I found whole wheat Ritz crackers, and thought that would be awesome too.  I was also really happy to find name brand Brie, which was a big cost savings--at the store I shopped last year for NYE, I could only find a HUGE, $20 round of Brie.  Ouch.

These moved well, but the crackers were a little too dry for me.  I think I overcooked them, which impacted this, though the apple topping was really good.  I will definitely be making these again, but will try the phyllo dough next time.

  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 2 medium red baking apples such as Jonathan, cored, and finely diced
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 4-in round Brie, or Camembert cheese with rind, cubed to ½ inch pieces
  • 2 pkg prepared mini phyllo shells (30 shells total)
  1. Preheat the over to 400°F.
  2. Set you phyllo cups on a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper.
  3. Mix gently the apples, walnuts, zest and honey.
  4. Place one cube of Brie in each phyllo cup.
  5. Using a Small Scoop, cover the Brie with one scoop of the apple mixture.
  6. Bake 6-8 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
  7. Serve warm.  (They are still as delish cold).
Tip:  My friends mentioned that this recipe would be great for Rosh Hashanah, since apples and honey are being served in abundance during that holiday.  You will agree that these type of appetizers are great for any occasion.
All gadgets and cookware used, are offered by The Pampered Chef.

Recipe found online here
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