Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Creamy Chicken and Vegetables over Mashed Potatoes

These cold wintery days make for some warm and cozy mealtimes. This meal is simple but delicious and will fill your bodies with warmth and goodness. My family loved this meal and I hope yours does too!

3 TBSP Olive Oil
3 TBSP flour
3 cups of chicken stock
3 chicken breasts
1 small bag of frozen vegetable mix (peas, beans, carrots)
salt and pepper
mashed potatoes

Boil the chicken in the stock for 10 minutes. Remove chicken and save broth in a large bowl. Dice chicken and set aside. In the same pot, heat the oil. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute. Whisk the broth back into oil/flour paste. Heat on medium, wisking often, until it starts to bubble and thicken. Add the chicken and vegies into the gravy. Simmer for 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper if needed. Serve over mashed potatoes and eat on the couch while covered up with a blanket... hahaha.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Banana Bread with a Ginger Crumb Top

3 bananas
1 cup of oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup wheat germ
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 TBSP cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp half and half
Ingredients for the crumb topping:
1/2 cup ground ginger snaps
1 TBSP sof butter
1 TBSP flour

Mix ingredients together. Top with the crumb topping. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour. When the top is firm to touch, bread is done. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Maple Syrup Sweetened Pumpkin Pie

And with a special food restriction comes a genius idea! This is beautiful and delicious. It has a balanced fall flavor with the goodness of maple syrup. With the addition of this pie filling being nestled cozily in my mom's olive oil crust, Thanksgiving dessert, now, will not be a guilty pleasure but a welcomed finish to our meal.

Ingredients for the crust:
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or unbleached white flour)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup of olive oil
2 TBSP cold water
Mix the flour, salt and olive oil until combined. Add one TBSP of water and combine. If dough is not coming together add the other TBSP. Roll out with a generous amount of flour, taking your time with this gentle crust. *whole wheat pastry flour can be found at the Corner Cupboard in Franklin or a at your local health foods store*

Ingredients for the pie:
2 cups of pumpkin
3 eggs
2/3 of a cup of pure maple syrup (or 3/4 cup of sugar)
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 TBSP pumpkin pie spice
2 cups of milk
1 TBSP of flour

Fill your pie pan and set aside

Mix all the ingredients in one bowl

Pour into the crust

Bake at 400 degrees for 1 hour. If the pie is getting too dark, turn down to 350 degrees. Pie will be firm to the touch when done

Whipped cream topped pictures to come!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

White and Black Bean Chili

A twist on a good ol' classic. Cold weather brings on the need for warm soup and the cornbread muffins were calling my name from the pantry...


1 pound of ground beef

1 small onion
Salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, and red pepper flakes
2 cans of "Campbell's selects" Zesty Tomato Bisuqe
1 large can of plain tomato sauce (I used Muir Glenn Organic)
1 can of Cannelini (white) Beans
1 can of black beans

In a large pot, with a bit of olive oil, sautee the onion for a few minutes. Add in the ground beef. Add, to your own liking, the salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Add 1 tsp of paprika. Using your fingers, add in 3-4 pinches of red pepper flakes. Rub them between your fingers to wake up the oils before adding them. Add in the soups and the tomato sauce. Stir to combine. When this begins to bubble, add in the beans. Taste for seasonging edits and add what you'd like. Simmer until ready to serve.

Now, what could be yummier! Add in a football game, fireplace and some snow flakes and it's pretty much my perfect day!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Homemade Plain Yogurt

I have said before that I have amazing friends, but I must state it again. I have the coolest friends! Friends who laugh with me, celebrate with me, love me and most important of all, teach me how to make homemade yogurt! I am thankful for the blessing of friendship.... and money saving tips! My milk cost me $3.66 and I got 8 cups of yogurt.

2 quart crockpot with a "low" setting
½ gallon of whole milk
1/2 cup yogurt with live culture

Turn your crockpot to low and pour in ½ gallon of milk. Heat on low for 2 ½ hours. After 2 ½ hours, turn the crockpot off. Unplug it and let the milk cool in the crock with the lid on for 3 hours. After 3 hours, add 1/2 cup of yogurt with live active cultures and whisk well.
Place the cover back on the crock and wrap the entire crockpot with a thick blanket. Let it culture overnight, about 8-12 hours. Transfer into a large container and it's done! Chill before eating. We mix in our favorite "all fruit" jam or honey. So yummy!

You can keep a ½ cup of this back for your next batch.

*I have also tried a stovetop method that works too if you do not have a small crockpot. Using a large pot, and stirring almost constantly, bring the milk up to 180 degrees. I used a candy thermometer but if you do not have one you can just watch for small bubbles to start forming around the edges of the pan. When they begin to form or your thermometer is up to 180 degrees, reduce heat and simmer at this temp for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to 110 degrees or luke warm. I set mine in the sink that had a bit of cold water and cooled it that way. Once cooled, whisk in 1/2 cup of live yogurt, and place in an oven safe/fridge storing container. I used a 8 cup glass measuring bowl with a lid. Leave in the oven with the light on for 8 hours. Place in fridge. Eat after it is chilled.*

Monday, November 7, 2011

Perfect Pancake Night

Some of the best times we've had as a family have been on nights that we choose to do nothing. Hubby gets off work, we put on comfy clothes and decide that everything else will wait. The time brings us peace and joy as we sit on the floor surrounded by toys and little smiling faces. And what else could make a cozy night even cozier? Pancakes.  Quick, easy and pleasing to everyone. From age 2 to 32! That's my kind of meal.... my kind of night! Totally worth putting the busy things of life aside, which is easier than you may think. Try it this week and reap the rewards of smiles and peace.

2 eggs
2 cups of milk
1/4 cup of oil

Whisk wet ingredients together. Add in dry but do not stir until all dry ingredients are added.

2 1/4 cups of unbleached flour
2 TBSP sugar
5 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Stir everything to combine but do not overstir. Butter your griddle or pan and cook.

Smile as you hear the sizzle and smell the comforts of home.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Apple Cider Harvest Cookies

My son, Aden, and I visited an orchard this past week and at the end of the tour the lovely lady handed out cookies and cider. The crowd got quiet and then came the "OH yum!" and the "Oh my goodness!" comments. As I took a bite, I immediately chimed in with the group, adding my own admiration for the small taste of fall. It was a perfect way to end a great tour with my little guy... along with the smile on his face that came from his enjoyment of the day and the cookie!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Just under 1/2 cup olive oil (Original recipe used crisco, I always use Olive oil but a bit less)
1 1/3 brown sugar
1 egg
2 cups unbleached flour (I used whole wheat pastry flour)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
3/4 tsp nutmeg
1 cup quick oats
1 cup of finely chopped unpeeled apples
1 cup raisins
1/4 cup of cider

Cream olive oil, sugar, egg and cider. Mix dry ingredients and add to the mixer. Fold in apples and raisins. Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes. Depending on oven and cookie size. The cookie will still look a bit wet and I think it's from the olive oil.

Learning that the bag would weigh as much as him after it was filled with apples!!!

Glaring sunshine! But such a lovely day with my little love!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Maple Glazed Walnuts and Almonds

There is a joy of homemade gifts. The thoughts of that person while you are creating something just for them. The joy of seeing them receive it with excitement. This will be one going on my list of gifting foods this coming Christmas season. Enjoy the snack of all snacks! Sweet or salty craving and this will cure it! And anyone you bless with this as a gift will think fondly of you as they enjoy your gift.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees
3 cups total of Almonds and Walnuts (although the walnuts were favored by us)
1 egg (white only)
1/4 cup of pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Shake of salt

Whip the egg whites for a minute then stream in the vanilla while whipping. When you see them thickening slowly stream in the maple syrup. Add in the cinnamon and salt. Stir in the the nuts and coat very well.

Bake at 300 for 20 minutes. Remove and let cool. Break apart the clumps. Can be served as is. I re-placed the cooled nuts into an oven heated to 285 degrees for 30 minutes because the coating wasn't as dry as I wanted it. So that is an option if you feel that way too. Play with all different kinds of options with these. If you don't like maplA spicy savory option would be good too!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Pumpkin and Sweet Potato Souffle

 It was Sunday and game time. My sister and I were planning on settling in with some delicious food and being that our new obsession at our favorite little lunch spot was the Yam Souffle, we were set out to enjoy the new favorite by re-creating it ourselves. Although this is technically a side kick, it became very clear that, for her and I at least, this was the main component of our meal! All other items were merely side dishes! That included the lemony Chicken Picatta we also slaved over!
A light and soft fall addition to your meal which will comfort you from the inside out.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
1 small can of pumpkin
1 large can of sweet potatoes (or fresh if you want to bake them ahead of time)
2 eggs
1/4 cup of milk
2 tsp of cinnamon
dash of salt
1/2 tsp of vanilla
1/2 stick of butter
mini marshmallows
(This can be made with all pumpkin or all sweet potatoes. We just used both because we had it. Just try for 3 cups or a little more of whatever you decide)
Beat all ingredients until extremely smooth. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes. Remove from oven. Now if you're me, it's perfect and done. But if you're my sister, then it needs toasted marshmallows on top. Set oven to low broil. Top with mini marshmallows and broil for 1 minute.




We did a high five together and grabbed our plates, but if you're by yourself, a contented sigh will do!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Pumpkin Cheesecake with a Ginger Snap Crust

Fall is such a beautiful time of year. It's a time for sweaters, fireplaces, cozy candles and pumpkin! This cheesecake is sure to please and the perfect way to treat yourself to a luxurious dessert. It will fill you with the comforting feeling of fall. And I must almost insist that homemade whipped cream be made, plopped on top and sprinkled with cinnamon!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Ingredients for the crust:
1 1/2 cups of ground ginger snaps
1/2 stick of butter melted

4 packages of cream cheese at room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 cup of pumpkin
3 TBSP pumpkin pie spice
1 TBSP vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
3 TBSP unlbeached flour
Mix crust ingredients together and press into the bottom of a spring form pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Set aside. REDUCE OVEN TO 300 degrees.

While the crust is baking whip the cream cheese on high speed for 2-3 minutes. Seriously. Walk away. Scrape down sides and bottom of mixer. Add the sugar and mix on high for another minute. Mixture will thin out and be very fluffy and smooth. Mix in the pumpkin, vanilla, and eggs, one at a time. With the mixer on a lower speed, mix in the pumpkin pie spice, salt and lastly, the flour. Remove from mixer and stir with a spatula to remove any cream cheese from the bottom and sides of bowl. Pour into the crust. Bake at 300 degrees for 45 minutes. Turn off oven and do not open door. Let it sit in the oven for 2 hours. Crack the oven door for 10-15 minutes. Then remove. Carefully, without jossling the cheesecake very much, place immediately into the refrigerator and chill for several hours. This will set the cheesecake and will look beautiful for serving.

Please, oh please, serve with whipped cream. Simply beat heavy whipping cream with 3 TBSP powdered sugar. Begin the mixer on low speed until the powdered sugar is incorporated then mix on high speed until whipped cream magically and beautifully appears before your eyes! This will make enough whipped cream for a crowd. If you are only eating a few pieces at a time simply do 1/2 cup or so of cream and 1 TBSP of powdered sugar.

*I baked individual cheesecake cupcakes in muffin tins. Baked them for 23 minutes. Turned off the oven and let them sit for the 2 hours.*

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Baked Speghetti Squash with Chunky Marinara

God's creation makes me smile... I love that there is a squash that when you bake, turns into a dish that is just as good, if not better, than good old speghetti. This is definitely an "seasonal" dish though. Unfortunately, other than at your local farmer's market, late summer, these squash can be very pricey. But they are beautiful and plentiful during the late summer months. Guilt free, warm, comforting Italian food!!!!

*Prepare ahead because a larger squash will need to bake for about an hour or a bit longer*

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
1 speghetti squash, sliced lengthwise ( this meal was for 2 people)
Olive Oil, garlic salt, pepper
Bake the squash cut side up, covered with foil for 45 minutes. Test with a fork and continue baking until soft. The sides should scrape away into "noodles"

For the marinara sauce:
1 small onion
1 medium bell pepper
2-3 cups of diced tomatoes
garlic sal and pepper
1/2 tsp of italian seasoning

Sautee the onion in some olive oil, salt and pepper on medium to low heat for a few minutes. Add the green pepper. Sautee another few minutes to soften. Add the diced tomatoes, salt, pepper and italian seasoning. Simmer while squash cooks.

Pour the marinara over each half of the sqush, top with cheese and serve. Caution, these will be very hot down through the layers. Scrape the sides as you eat to create more "noodles" So cool! Josh, my husband, actually giggled with joy over the yumminess of this meal!

Oat Bran and Parmesan Breaded Chicken

In my family, meat is not a very desirable option. But for some unknown reason, chicken nuggets are given permission to come to the table. I do turn to good old Tyson lots of time, but this time I may have made a discovery that would make the standby chicken nugget be a thing of the past! These are delicious, beautiful and were accepted by my kids and even better... gobbled right up!

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
4-5 thin chicken breasts
Olive Oil
1/2 cup of oat bran (wheat germ would probably work too)
1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese
garlic salt and pepper
optional - dried parsley

On one plate drizzle 1/4 cup of olive oil. On a second plate, stir together the oat bran, cheese, garlic salt, pepper and parsley. Cover the chicken in the olive oil and then the coating mixture, place on your baking sheet. Repeat with all the pieces. Bake at 400 for 15 minutes. Flip and bake for 15 more minutes. Until brown and beautiful.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Roasted Tomato Soup

The summer has brought us a bounty of vegetables and with fall approaching, my thoughts turn to football games and warm yummy soup! My plan for this soup is to be a base for chili, ministrone and stuffed pepper soup. But don't get me wrong, this soup is delicious on it's own with some fresh basil, parmesan, and a toasted cheese sandwich.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Olive Oil
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups of chicken stock

Roughly slice any tomatoes, onions, garlic and celery that you have to use. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. 

Roast at 400 for about 45 minutes until vegetables are bubbling and soft. Remove and allow to cool for a bit.

Puree them until smooth. Place in a large pot. Add the chicken stock and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Serve or cool to store.

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins

I baked a pumpkin. I made muffins. I love when fall arrives!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
3 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup of oil
1/4 cup water
1 cup of pumpkin

This is an intersting technique that came to me out of desperation! I baked my pumpkin and only had time to scoop out the goodies and get it into a storage container. When I wanted to make these muffins, I realized I needed the pumpkin to be pureed. So I put the wet ingredients and the pumpkin in my blender. Blended it up. Added it to my dry ingredients already combined in the bowl and stirred. And there you have it! Muffins! I know. Little things make me happy... but my husband thinks that's a good thing!!!

Scoop muffins into a greased muffin tin. This makes 12 muffins. Bake for 30 minutes. Enjoy!

I also made a less healthy version. Used unbleached flour. Only 2 eggs. And added mini chocolate chips. DELICIOUS!!!! I love pumpkin and chocolate together!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

White Bean and Eggplant Stuffed Peppers

I am forever grateful to my friend, Jen, who opened my eyes to homemade stuffed peppers! I was a young wife who didn't make much of anything and it was like a light bulb went on when I was fed the "yummiest" meal. How fun it is to make something so simple but have it transport you to a feeling that you're eating something very special. It also makes the husband very happt too. As Jen also taught me, the leftovers are great to use for stuffed pepper soup!

3 medium bell peppers
2 TBSP of olive oil
1/2 of a sweet onion - diced
2 cloves of garlic
1 small eggplant - diced
1/2 can of white beans
1 cup of tomato sauce
4-5 leaves of basil - chopped (if you have it)

Using a knife, carefully cut around the stem of the pepper. Remove the stem and all the insides you can reach. You can use a spoon to dig the ribs and seeds out if there are a lot left inside. Set peppers aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Sautee the onion on medium/low heat for 5 minutes to soften. Grate in the garlic cloves. If you don't have a grater, just chop it up very fine. Add in the diced eggplant. Season with salt and pepper to your taste. Sautee for 5 more minutes. Add in the white beans, basil and tomato sauce. Allow to simmer for just a couple of minutes. Remove from heat and spoon into the hollowed out pepper. Top with cheese and bake for 30-35 minutes. Serve with a side of pasta or a salad. Delicious!!!!

Sauteed ground meat and rice are great substitutions if you have those ingredients. Just sautee the meat in the onions and garlic with salt and pepper. Add in the pre-cooked rice at the end with the tomato sauce.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Molasses and Raisin Oatmeal Cookies

"The lack of baked goods in this house is a crime" ~ Joshua Braughler. Hungry husband of a wife who is doing a cleanse and ridding her body of sugar and other yuckies! Okay, I got the message! A "dieting" mama doesn't mean a dieting household! Cookies are the choice of sweets around here for the hubby and kids and it just so happens that oatmeal cookies, though delicious, just don't tempt me. Especially with raisins. So that was the clear choice of baking to satisfy the family before they began to pack their bags and head for nana's! These were warmly accepted with beautiful smiles on their precious faces. What a reward. And any recipe that I get to put black strap molasses into my family is a good one! Enjoy these wonderful little treats.  

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees

2 sticks of softened butter
1-½ cup brown sugar
2 eggs
⅓ cups black strap molasses 
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2-½ cups whole wheat pastry flour (or unbleached flour)
2 cups whole oats
1 cup of raisins

In your mixer, combine butter, brown sugar, egg, molasses, vanilla. Add in the dry ingredients while mixing on low. Fold in the the raisins. Scoop onto baking pan. Bake for 11 minutes. Until firm to touch. Don't overbake.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Basil and Feta Bruschetta

Bruschetta is one of the most delicious and appetizing meals. That's why it's one of the most popular appetizers on the menu. But did you know that it is incredibley easy to throw together? And it can even be done on the grill if you don't want to heat the oven. Even in the winter months, it is just as delicious with canned ingredients! So smile and enjoy this delicious, fresh and beautiful dish. 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees OR heat your outdoor grill
1 Loaf of Italian bread (There is a recipe for homemade at the beginning of my blog posts)
1 large tomato diced
Crumbled Feta cheese (or shredded mozzarella)
5 or 6 leaves of basil chopped
Minced, zested, or dried garlic (or garlic salt)
Salt (if NOT using garlic salt)

Slice the bread into 1 inch thick slices. Drizzle with olive oil and set aside. Simply mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Sprinkle with your desired amounts of garlic, salt and pepper. Spread onto each slice of bread. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until cheese is browned. And enjoy!

If you want to use your grill, place the olive oiled bread on the grill and toast one side. Flip over and top with toppings. Turn the heat on low, close the lid and let the cheese melt. YUM!

Bruschetta Stuffed Chicken

Summertime brings a bounty of goodness, doesn't it? My tomatoes and basil make me so happy and I am finding some amazing uses for them. Besides adding them into a white bean florentine soup and bruschetta, I was inspired by my recent change in eating habits to roll them up in a piece of chicken breast and enjoy the gifts of the summer in a delicious and healthy dinner. This took no time at all and was the perfect meal for the foodie in me. I hope you try this and enjoy every delicious bite!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Chicken breast pounding thinly
Garlic Salt
Basil Leaves
Feta Cheese
Tomato diced up

Spread the chicken out and sprinkle with garlic salt and pepper. Spread out basil leaves. Sprinkle the feta. Top with the diced tomatoes. At one end begin to roll the chicken. Secure with toothpicks. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-35 minutes. 

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Fresh Cilantro and Lime Salsa

It's the heart of summer and the start of lots of garden goodies! This salsa is a fresh version packed full of crunch and flavor. It is a labor of love so turn on some music, brew some coffee and dice away. Believe me it will be worth every chop!

4-5 tomatoes
1/2 sweet onion
1 green pepper
1 lime
1 tsp of cilantro
1 clove of garlic
1 pinch of red pepper flakes
salt and pepper

Chop the tomatoes, onion green pepper and cilantro into a pretty bowl. Zest in the garlic and the lime zest. Squeeze half the lime. Sprinkle with a pinch of the red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Grab a chip and test the seasoning level. Add more salt and pepper if necessary. If you like it spicy and desire a jalepeno pepper go right ahead, we're not that tough! You can serve right away or let it sit and absorb all the flavor. Either way it's amazing!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Homemade Hot Dog Buns

I am in amazement and can't believe I ever bought those ingredient filled buns at the store! 7 ingredients, 20 minutes or so and ta-da... hot dog buns! This is why I just love that God gave someone, back in the day, the ability and knowledge to figure out that putting certain things together could create something from nothing! This recipe was taken from a food blog that I enjoy to follow, Lynn's Kitchen Adventures. My wonderful friend, Johanna, who passed this recommendation onto me, is such an encouragement to me and is always filling me in on tips and recipes! I'm telling you, God has blessed me with some great ladies in my life!

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees
2 TBSP yeast
1 cup plus 2 TBSP warm water
1/3 cup Olive Oil
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp salt
3 cups of unbleached four (her recipe called for 1 1/2 cups each of white and whole wheat, but all I had access to was unbleached flour. They were extra yummy since all we usually eat is whole wheat)

Combine water, yeast, sugar and oil. Let stand 5 minutes. Add egg, salt, and enough flour to form a soft dough. Knead with additional flour until smooth. Form a ball and press it out a bit. Do not let rise. With a pizza cutter cut the ball into pie shaped pieces. Cut the rounded dough into 4ths, then cut those four sections into 8ths, and finish with the 8th's cut into 16ths. I shaped them similar to the length of hot dog buns and space them out onto greased baking sheets. I only made 12. See below for a Cinnamon Roll recipe with the left over dough. Let them rest for a few minutes and then bake for 8 minutes. Cool and slice.

You can also make hamburger buns. Divide the dough into 12 pieces, shape each into a ball. Place them spaced apart on a greased baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes.

With the leftover dough, I rolled it into a square and spread with butter, cinnamon and sugar. Rolled it into a log and sliced it. Baked that for 8 minutes in the same 425 degree oven. I mixed up powdered sugar with a few drops of milk and a few drops of vanilla for a glaze. They were divine!!!!   

Spinach Pasta with a Lemon Basil Parmeasan Cream Sauce

The request has been made... some ooey gooey pasta dinner. The summer busyness has caused our kitchen to not be the place to be. Add putting a house onto the market to our level of busy and it's pretty much throw something in our tummies and move on. We needed a dinner. A yummy sit down and ooo and ahh over something "scrumptious" as my son now calls everything dinner! We were watching a cooking channel show about making fresh pasta and although this pasta is not homemade, we were inspired non the less. This meal is quick and will please all the people at your table, big or small!

Begin by boiling your choice of pasta in salted water

Olive Oil
1 onion-diced (I used a sweet vidalia)
2 cloves of garlic peeled
1 small zucchini-diced
1/2 small bundle of asparagus-diced
salt and pepper
3/4 cup of chicken broth
1 lemon zest and juice
1/3 cup of half and half
1/2 - 3/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese

While the pasta boils. Sautee the onion in some olive oil for 5 minutes on medium to low heat. You want them to become clear and silky looking without browning or burning.  Chop, zest, or toss in the garlic with the onions. (I broke up the cloves a bit and put them in whole. I pulled them out before I served it.) Add in the diced zucchini and asparagus. Salt and pepper to your own taste. Zest the lemon. Slice it in half and add its juice. Sautee for 5 more minutes to soften the vegies and combine the flavors. Add in the chicken broth and stir. Add in the cream and parmesan cheese. Simmer on medium/low until the sauce is thick and creamy. When pasta is ready, remove 1/3 of the pasta water with a mug and set it aside and drain the pasta as usual. You want a small amount of the pasta water to be available to add to the sauce after the noodles. This will thin out the sauce a bit and help it to cover the noodles. You most likely will not need the entire 1/3 of the cup. Add 1/2 the noodles to the pan of sauce and toss. Drizzle in just a bit of the pasta water. Add in small amounts of additional noodless until the noodles are well covered. Adding small amounts of noodles at a time will ensure that you don't run out of sauce and have too many noodles. Serve, eat very slowly and enjoy!!!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Cucumber, Feta and Cranberry Pasta Salad with a Citrus Vinegarette

One afternoon, I had a facebook friend ask me if I thought my citrus vinegarette recipe could be used as a pasta salad dressing. I had never thought of such a thing! I filled her in on the fact that it definitely would not work with the traditional ingredients that are usually put into a pasta salad, but if I came up with anything I would let her know...... well did I ever come up with anything! Delicious, light and refreshing. Enjoy!

citrus vinegarette (posted in previous blog posting)
1/2 box of cooked pasta of your choice
1 cup of dried cranberries
1/2 container of crumbled feta cheese

Prepare the citrus vinegarette. Dice, very small, an english cucumber. (The ones wrapped in plastic, they aren't covered in gasoline. Yes it's true) Toss noodles with the cucumber, feta crumbles and dried cranberries. Pour a very generous amount of dressing on, the pasta will really soak it up. And toss together. Taste test to check your flavoring. Add a bit more dressing or even some salt and pepper if you need. Sprinkle with a bit more feta for presentation and serve. It's a wonderful addition to your summer picnic!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Baked Mexican Roll Up

Baking bread, cooking chicken, needing to use some black beans. TaDa! Baked mexican roll up. My mother in law mentioned to me that she uses pizza dough, rolled very thinly,  as burrito wrappers. We were pleasantly surprised with this experiment!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Bread or pizza dough (I have a homemade recipe for both posted below)
Prepared chicken (I boiled in water with 1/2 package of taco seasoning)
Black Beans
Cheddar cheese
Taco seasoning

Make the dough and allow to raise for an hour.

Roll out the dough extremely thin.
(If you only need to make 2 burritos, the remaining dough can be used for a pizza or a loaf of bread.)  

Cut the dough circle down the center to make two wrappers. Top with some shredded chicken, black beans, salsa, and cheese.

Sprinkle with taco seasoning and fold in the edges.

Hold together with toothpicks and bake for 20 minutes.

Orange Poppy Seed Vinegarette

This salad dressing is a wonderfully fresh and light option for your summertime salads. It is great on a mixed greens salad with strawberries, mandarin oranges, slivered almonds and grilled chicken. It is also the dressing that I used on the Chicken, Feta and Dried Cranberry wrap posted below. However you use this salad dressing you will certainly enjoy it!

1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tsp of orange zest (if you aren't using fresh orange juice, just leave this out)
1/4 cup Orange Juice (I used fresh, but bottled would work too)
1/2 tsp of poppy seeds
1 tsp of Apple Cider Vinegar
2-3 tsp of honey
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper