Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Pasta Review Day

I have recently tried TWO fabulous pasta dishes. The first one is from allrecipes.com. I was a little unsure of this dish when it was going into the oven because I tasted the sauce and did not like it. But to my amazement, baking it changed it in a way I can't describe. I also think the pairing of spinach balanced out the sauce.

Baked Lemon-Basil Pasta
3 cups bow tie pasta
1 skinless, boneless chicken breast half -cut into bite-size pieces
1 teaspoon lemon pepper
1/4 cup margarine
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup white wine (I used chicken broth)
2 cups sour cream
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup torn fresh spinach

1. Fill a large pot with lightly salted water and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Stir in the bow tie pasta; return to a boil. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is cooked through, but still firm to the bite, about 10 minutes. Drain.
2.Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Season chicken with lemon pepper.
3. Melt the margarine with the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat; cook and stir the chicken pieces until no longer pink in the center. Remove the chicken pieces, and place them in the bottom of a casserole dish.
4. To the same skillet, add the garlic, white wine, sour cream, basil, lemon zest, and 1/2 of the lemon juice. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove the skillet from the heat; stir in the pasta. Spoon the pasta and sauce mixture over the chicken. Cover with foil.
5.Bake in the preheated oven until heated through, about 15 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle evenly with Parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, parsley, spinach, and drizzle with the remaining lemon juice. Bake, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

Here are the results:

The second recipe comes from Everyday Food with Martha Stewart. Although I'm not a big Martha Stewart fan, the Everyday Food show and recipes always seem to be easy and delicious. I had to use some extra ingredients I had laying around and this was the best way to use them up.

Penne with Ricotta and Pine Nuts

* 1/3 cup pine nuts
* Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
* 1 pound penne pasta (I used whole wheat pasta)
* 1 1/2 pounds baby spinach, well washed
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
* 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread pine nuts on a rimmed baking sheet; toast in oven, tossing occasionally, until golden, 6 to 8 minutes; set aside.
2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta, and cook according to manufacturer’s directions. Add spinach during last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain; return pasta and spinach to pot. Add oil; season generously with salt and pepper. Toss well.
3. Serve immediately, topped with ricotta, pine nuts, and Parmesan.

Here are the results:

Monday, March 15, 2010

Apple Muffins

I took a cooking class in high school and I still have my index cards with the recipe we made. It surprising to me how good all the recipes were, however basic. I remember making these apple muffins and loving them.

I couldn't sleep the other morning and got up at 5:00 AM and decided to bake some muffins for my hubbie's breakfast. They turned out yummy, just like I remember them!

Apple Muffins

1 and 1/2 C flour
1/2 C sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 egg
1/2 C milk
1/4 C oil
1 C grated apple

Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease the bottom of cups in muffin pan. In a medium bowl stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon, Mix the egg and milk in a large bowl. Mix the oil and grated apple and add to egg mixture. Add flour mixture to the egg mixture only until moistened. Fill the cups 2/3 full. Bake 15-20 minutes or until Golden Brown.

Here are the results:

I don't think mine turned golden brown because I used my silicon muffin thingy. I don't think it bakes as fast. Anybody else use silicone bake-ware?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Irish Potato Candy

With St.Patrick's Day coming up, I decided to try a little Irish themed treat. Irish potato candy is not what you think, there are no potatoes used. It's a sweet treat made to look like potatoes. They turned out way cute, but I didn't like the taste, which was just pure sugar to me, BUT everybody else, including my husband, sister, and coworkers, said they were yummy. They would be really cute for a party!

Irish Potato Candy
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners' sugar
2 1/2 cups flaked coconut
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon (I used cinnamon sugar)

In a medium bowl, beat the butter and cream cheese together until smooth. Add the vanilla and confectioners' sugar; beat until smooth. Using your hands if necessary, mix in the coconut. Roll into balls or potato shapes, and roll in the cinnamon. Place onto a cookie sheet and chill to set. If desired, roll potatoes in cinnamon again for darker color.

It was hard to get a good picture but here are the results:

Monday, March 8, 2010

Lime Cilantro Rice

Rice has always been a "blah" side dish for me. Don't get me wrong, I love Rice-A-Roni but homemade rice just doesn't float my boat. I tried a new recipe the other night and it was OK, but I was glad I tried it just because it was something different. I might try it again when I want a light and Mexican-ish side dish.

Lime Cilantro Rice

2 cups water
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup long-grain white rice 1 teaspoon lime zest
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1. Bring the water to a boil; stir the butter and rice into the water. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until the rice is tender, about 20 minutes.
2. Stir the lime zest, lime juice, and cilantro into the cooked rice just before serving.

Here are the results:

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Peaches 'n' Cream Gelatin Dessert

This desseret surprised me because it did not have any complex ingredients but it tasted REALLY good. I think I would double the Jello (and water) because the topping just barely covered the filling. Other than that, it was a hit!

Peaches 'n' Cream Gelatin Dessert

1 1/3 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese,
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 (8 ounce) carton frozen whipped topping,thawed
1 (15 ounce) can sliced peaches, drained
1 (3 ounce) package peach gelatin
3/4 cup boiling water
1 1/4 cups cold water

1. In a bowl, combine the crumbs, sugar and butter. Press into a 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. dish. In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth; gradually add the milk. Fold in the whipped topping. Spread over crust.
2. Cut peach slices in half lengthwise; arrange over top. In a bowl, dissolve the gelatin in boiling water; stir into the cold water. Refrigerate for 1-1/2 hours or until slightly thickened. Gently spoon gelatin over peaches; refrigerate until set. Cut into squares.

Here are the results:

Monday, March 1, 2010

Prosciutto and Mozzarella Panini

What else to go with a great soup than a great sandwich. Paninis are even better. Famous chef Emeril Lagasse is out of my league most of the time, but I found a great recipe by him in People Magazine the other day. I really liked this recipe. I think adding the oils and herbs on the bread is a stroke of genius that really gives it something special.

Proscuitto And Mozarella Panini
By: Emeril Lagassee

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 slices (1/2-inch thick) ciabatta or other rustic italian white bread (I used multi-grain wheat bread)
4 ounces thinly sliced mozarella cheese
4 ounces thinly sliced proscuitto (I used my favorite deli/lunch meat)
6 ounces jarred roasted red peppers, drained

1. Whisk the olive oil, vinegar, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper together in a small bowl to blend.
2. Arrange the slices of bread on a flat work surface, and using a brush, spread the vinaigrette evenly over one side of each slice. Divide the mozarella equally over one side of each slice. Top 4 of the bread slices with the proscuitto and red peppers, and then place the remaining 4 slices of bread on the top, vinaigrette side down.
3. Heat a large skillet or grill pan over medium heat. (You can also do this with a George Foreman Grill or panini press)Add the 4 sandwiches and cook, pressing them occasionally with a large spatula or the bottom of a small saucepan, until the bread is golden brown and the cheese has melted, about 4 minutes per side. Serve immediately.

Here are the results:

Rich and Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

I've never been a big fan of canned tomato soup or any tomato soup for that matter. I decided to go out on a limb and try a recipe I found on allrecipes.com that was highly rated. I'm glad I did because this was pretty good. My sister, who actually likes tomato soups, said it was excellent. It seems like a lot of work to me, but then again, I'm a convenience junkie and love pouring a can of soup into the microwave and having it done in a few minutes.Overall, it was a success.

Rich and Creamy Tomato Basil Soup
4 tomatoes - peeled, seeded and diced (I used one can of whole tomatoes)
4 cups tomato juice
14 leaves fresh basil
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup butter
salt and pepper to taste

1.Place tomatoes and juice in a stock pot over medium heat. Simmer for 30 minutes. Puree the tomato mixture along with the basil leaves, and return the puree to the stock pot.
2.Place the pot over medium heat, and stir in the heavy cream and butter. Season with salt and pepper. Heat, stirring until the butter is melted. Do not boil.

Here are the results: