Monday, November 16, 2009

Let's Talk Turkey

Since Thanksgiving is right around the corner, I thought that I would share my recipe for the best turkey ever! Ever since I found this recipe, I have been cooking the turkey. It produces the most moist and flavorful bird ever.

I think that the perfect turkey starts with a brine. For those that don't know, a brine is a salt water solution that you put food in. For Mr Turkey, it is a way to flavor the meat and keep it moist.

You will need a 14-16lb thawed turkey. I usually use 19-20lbs because I like to have lots of leftovers. Just increase the amount of spices in the brine if you choose to use a larger turkey. Here is the recipe and instructions for the brining process.

For the brine:
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 gallon chicken stock
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1/2 tablespoon allspice berries
1/2 tablespoon candied ginger (if you can't find candied ginger, fresh ginger works too, just peel it)
1 gallon iced water

Combine all brine ingredients, except ice water, in a stockpot, and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve solids, then remove from heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.
Early on the day of cooking, (or late the night before) combine the brine and ice water in a clean 5-gallon bucket. Place thawed turkey breast side down in brine, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area (like a basement) for 6 hours. Turn turkey over once, half way through brining.

Now onto the turkey itself. Another thing that must be known, is that if you want a moist and delicious turkey, never stuff it, NEVER. Here is what you do instead.

For the aromatics:
1 red apple, sliced
1/2 onion, sliced
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup water
4 sprigs rosemary
6 leaves sage
Canola Oil

A few minutes before roasting, heat oven to 500 degrees. Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes.
Remove bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard brine.
Place bird on roasting rack inside wide, low pan and pat dry with paper towels. Add steeped aromatics to cavity along with rosemary and sage. Tuck back wings and coat whole bird liberally with canola (or other neutral) oil.
Roast on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F. for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cover breast with double layer of aluminum foil and return to oven, reducing temperature to 350 degrees F. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting. Let turkey rest, loosely covered for 15 minutes before carving.

Here is one more thing that you can do, to make your turkey sinfully good. Make an herb butter and rub it under the skin of the turkey. What I do is take an Italian Herb seasoning packet that you make salad dressing out of and mix it with 2 sticks of soften butter. Then then put the whole mixture in bag and let it set in the fridge. You want it to get cold again.

Just before the turkey is ready to go into the over, I cut slices of the butter and slide it under the skin (aka between the skin and the meat). As the turkey cook, the butter melts and almost bastes the meat in herby butter goodness. It also makes for the best pan dripping every and therefore the best gravy.

There that is how I make our turkey. Now if you will excuse me, all this talk and looking at my recipes had made me hungry. I am thinking that I need to go to the store and get our turkey. Yum! I can't wait.

Truth be told these are not original recipes created by me. I have combined a lot of trick that I have learned from the lovely Food Network Chefs.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Good From Your Toes To Your Nose Chicken Noodle Soup

1 medium onion
6 stalks celery
6 carrots, peeled
2 cups corn, frozen or canned
4 cups cooked chicken
2 quarts Chicken stock or broth
1 cup heavy cream
1 stick butter
2 tbsp Dried Parsley
1 tbsp Garlic Salt
1/2lb Wide Egg Noddles
1 tbsp Salt
1 tbsp Pepper

  • Chop onion, carrots and celery into even bite sized pieces.
  • Place about 2 tbsp Olive Oil in large stock pot over medium high heat.
  • Add onions and cook about 3 minutes or until soft and almost translucent
  • Add carrots and celery and cook about 5 minutes more or until veggies are just soft.
  • Meanwhile in a small sauce pot, add cream (half and half or milk will work fine here too) and place over low heat. Add butter.
  • Stir cream and butter mixture occasionally until butter is just melted. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Once veggies have softened, add Chicken stock and bring to a boil.
  • Add noodles and boil until just cooked, about 6 minutes.
  • Turn heat to low
  • Then add corn, chicken, parsley, garlic salt, salt and pepper.
  • Next add cream and butter mixture and stir to combine.
  • Simmer for about 15 minutes so that all ingredients can marry and flavors can come together.
  • Spoon into bowls and serve.

Word to the Wise:

I love this soup. It is so hardy and rich and make a perfect meal on a cold day. This soup will freeze well. If you want a lighter version, just omit that cream and use milk or you can omit the cream and butter all together but the soup will not be as good.

For the chicken in the soup, I have used left over Thanksgiving turkey, Rotisserie chicken, cooked chicken breast and grilled tenderloins. It is really about what ever you have in the house. I have not used ground chicken but I am use that would work. The only thing with the chicken is to make sure that it is cooked.

The above recipe makes one large pot of soup. The amount of each ingredient can be decreased or increased to best suit your needs. The consistency of this soup is more like a stew than a soup and that is how my family likes it. If you want a thinner soup just add more chicken stock until (water can be used too) it gets to the consistency of your liking.

This soup is really easy and comes together very quickly, it is the perfect busy weekend supper. Serve with bread and you got dinner.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Chicken and Vegetable Alfredo

1 small onion
1 medium zucchini
1 medium summer squash
1 to 1 1/2 Shredded cooked Chicken
1 jar Alfredo sauce
4 oz cream cheese
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1lb Rigatoni Whole Wheat Pasta
Olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

  • In a large pasta pot, bring salted water to a boil and cook pasta
  • Cut up onion, zucchini and squash into small bit size pieces
  • Heat oil in a large skillet and sautee vegetables until soft.
  • In a medium sauce pan, heat Alfredo sauce and add cream cheese and Parmesan cheese.
  • Stir until melted.
  • Once veggies are soft, add chicken to the pan to warm
  • When pasta is cooked, drain the water and return to pot.
  • Add veggies and chicken to pasta
  • Pour cheese sauce over the pasta.
  • Mix together, add salt and pepper if needed.
  • Transfer to a 9x13 backing dish.
  • Place in an 350 degree oven for 30 minutes until dish is heated through.

Words to the Wise

This dish was a good one with the kids. They ate it up, including the vegetables. For the shredded chicken in this dish, I use Rotisserie chicken. I like to buy Rotisserie chicken at the store after they are marked 40% off, usually after 8pm. I will buy two or more at a time, pull the meat off, place in bag (from 2 chickens I get four 1 to 2 cup serving) and freeze until I need them for easy, quick meals.
You don't have to add the cheese to the jarred sauce but I think that it gives the sauce a more home-made taste and more flavor and creaminess. It is my way of making a home-made sauce with out all the fuss.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Not Your Average Potato Salad

  • 1 1/2 pounds slender green beans, trimmed, halved crosswise
  • 3 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
  • 2 large red potatoes, diced
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 9 ounces canned tuna packed in oil, drained

Cook the green beans in a large pot of boiling water until crisp-tender, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Using a mesh strainer, transfer the green beans to a large bowl of ice water to cool completely. Drain the green beans and pat dry with a towel. Add 2 teaspoons of salt to the same cooking liquid and bring the liquid to a simmer. Add the potatoes to the simmering liquid and cook until they are just tender but still hold their shape, about 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the potatoes to the ice water to cool completely. Drain the potatoes and pat dry with a towel.

In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice, garlic, oil, oregano, 1 teaspoon salt and 3/4 teaspoon pepper. Place the tomatoes, basil and parsley in a large serving bowl. Add the tuna and toss gently to combine. Add the green beans and potatoes and gently combine. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat.

Words to the Wise
This is a great spring/summer salad. I love the hardiness that the potatoes add. I opted not to use the tuna. And to make things even more easy, I just used Kraft's Honey Dion Vinaigrette dressing about 4 tablespoons.

This recipe was written by Giada de Laurentiis.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Honey Ricotta Cheesecake

* 8 ounces purchased biscotti
* 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
* 1 (12-ounce) container fresh whole milk ricotta, drained
* 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
* 3/4 cup sugar
* 1/4 cup orange blossom or clover honey
* 1 tablespoon orange zest
* 4 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Wrap the outside of a 9-inch springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides with 2 layers of heavy-duty foil. Finely grind the biscotti in a food processor. Add the melted butter and process until the crumbs are moistened. Press the crumb mixture over the bottom (not the sides) of the prepared pan. Bake until the crust is golden, about 15 minutes. Cool the crust completely on a cooling rack.

Blend the ricotta in a clean food processor until smooth. Add the cream cheese and sugar and blend well, stopping the machine occasionally and scraping down the sides of the work bowl. Blend in the honey and orange zest. Add the eggs and pulse just until blended.

Pour the cheese mixture over the crust in the pan. Place the springform pan in a large roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Bake until the cheesecake is golden and the center of the cake moves slightly when the pan is gently shaken, about 1 hour and 5 minutes (the cake will become firm when it is cold).

Transfer the cake to a rack and cool 1 hour. Refrigerate until the cheesecake is cold, at least 8 hours and up to 2 days. Cut the cake into wedges and serve.

Words to the Wise
I love this cheesecake recipe. It is just so light and fluffy that its like a cloud on your plate. For the crust, I have used graham crackers or Nilla Wafers in place of the biscotti because sometime biscotti is difficult to find and expensive. I have also used lemon and orange zest just to brighten the cake up more. Top this with a few fresh berries and you have the perfect summer dessert.

This recipe is by Giada de Laurentiis.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Inside Out Cheeseburgers

  • Pre-made Ground Beef Patties
  • 2 oz Cheese of Your Choice
Place cheese in the center of one patty and then take a second patty and place it on top of the first patty. Press edges firmly together around patties. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with a little olive oil.

Cook on a grill until done or internal temp reached 175 degrees. Place on a bun with all the fixin' and serve. Enjoy your gooey cheesy surprise in the first bite.

Words to the Wise
These are super easy to make and very fun to eat. They are sure to be a hit at your next cook-out.
I saw this on a show on the Travel Channel while the host was visiting Minnesota. Here this burger is called the Jucy Lucy.

Mixed Fruit Baked Oatmeal

3 cups Quick Cooking Oats
1 cup Brown Sugar
2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
2 Eggs
1 Cup Plain Yogurt
1/2 cup Butter, melted
1 small Apple, chopped
1/2 cup Frozen Mixed Berries, thawed
1/2 cup Apricots

  • Mix all the wet ingredients together.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir.
  • Once combined, add the fruit and mix all together
  • Pour into a Greased 8 inch baking dish
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes
This Recipe originally found here.

Words to the Wise
This is an awesome breakfast dish. Just warm some up every morning and you are good to go. Its like having a big oatmeal cookie for breakfast. I will so be making this again and again.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Perfect Spring Cupcakes: Mascarpone Cheese Cupcakes with Strawberry Glaze

8 oz Mascarpone cheese, softened
2 egg whites
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 box white cake mix
1 cup water
1/3 cup frozen strawberries, pureed
2 1/2 cup powdered sugar

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Line muffin tins with paper liners.
  • Mix first 3 ingredients in a large bowl until combined and creamy
  • Add cake mix and water and mix until smooth, about 3 minutes
  • Fill muffin liners to just below the rim. Using a small ice cream scoop helps.
  • Bake until puffed and golden brown about 18-20 minutes
  • Puree the strawberries and then add powdered sugar (this mixture will be very thick and that is how you want it).
  • Once cooled, gently frost or drizzle glaze over cupcakes.
  • Let cupcake sit for a few minutes until glaze sets, serve

Words to the Wise:
These cupcakes are very light and delicate. They can crumble easily when removing from pan or trying to frost so be gentle with them. They are a perfect lite and springy treat.
Mascarpone cheese is a soft Italian cheese much like cream cheese. It is less tangy than cream cheese. Mascarpone cheese can be found in the specialty cheese case at the grocery store. I am thinking that cream cheese could be subsistuded but I am not sure b/c I was able to easly find mascarpone.
I found this recipe while watching a segment by Giaga deLaureniits on the Today show.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Pesto Pasta Bake

1 box whole wheat Penne pasta
1 cup store bought or home made Pesto
1 jar Spaghetti Sause
1 lb ground Italian Turkey Sausage, browned
1 cup Mozzella cheese.

  • Preheat Oven to 350 degrees
  • Cook pasta according to package directions
  • Brown sausage in a large skillet, once brown add sause and warm
  • Drain pasta and return to pan, mix pesto with pasta
  • Pour pasta pesto into large baking dish then pour sauce mixture over pasta
  • Sprinkle with choice of cheese
  • Bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and heated through

Words to the Wise:

I love this dish and so do my kids. It is just so easy and quick to make. It is perfect for a busy night because it comes together in a matter of minutes.
I sometime will add a layer of Ricotta cheese on top of the pasta pesto mixture and then pour the meat sauce on top of that. I have also added some frozen spinach to the pasta and pesto mixture just to bump up the veggie factor. This dish is a Jen orginal.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Creamy Spinach and Sausage Pasta

1lb 'tube' pasta like Rigatoni or Penne
1lb bulk Italian Sausage
1 small onion, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes
1 package frozen creamed spinach
1 8oz package cream cheese, soften
2 cups Mozzarella cheese

  • Preheat over to 350 degrees
  • Cook pasta according to package directions
  • Brown sausage and onion in large pan, drain
  • Stir in tomatoes, spinach, cream cheese and 1 cup of mozzarella until all melted
  • Mix cooked pasta into the spinach and sausage mixture
  • Transfer to a large baking dish and cover
  • Bake for 35 minutes at 350 degrees.
  • Uncover and sprinkle with remaining cheese, bake for 5 minutes more or until cheese is melted

Words to the Wise:

This is a very yummy dish. We really, really enjoyed it. I used whole wheat penne pasta for this dish. And I couldn't find creamed spinach at the store. So I used on package of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and with all the water squeezed out and about 1/2 cup sour cream. It worked for me so feel free to use whatever.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Lasagna Rolls



* 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
* 4 teaspoons all-purpose flour
* 1 1/4 cups whole milk
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
* Pinch ground nutmeg


* 1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta cheese
* 1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed dry
* 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
* 3 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, chopped
* 1 large egg, beaten to blend
* 3/4 teaspoon salt, plus more for salting water
* 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 12 uncooked lasagna noodles
* 2 cups marinara sauce
* 1 cup shredded mozzarella (about 4 ounces)


To make the sauce: Melt the butter in a heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the flour and whisk for 3 minutes. Whisk in the milk. Increase the heat to medium-high. Whisk the sauce until it comes to a simmer and is thick and smooth, about 3 minutes. Whisk the salt, pepper, and nutmeg into the bechamel sauce.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Whisk the ricotta, spinach, 1 cup Parmesan, prosciutto, egg, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl to blend.

Add a tablespoon or 2 of oil to a large pot of boiling salted water. Boil the noodles until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain. Arrange the noodles in a single layer on a baking sheet to prevent them from sticking.

Butter a 13-by-9-by-2-inch glass baking dish. Pour the bechamel sauce over the bottom of the prepared dish. Lay out 4 lasagna noodles on a work surface, then spread about 3 tablespoons of ricotta mixture evenly over each noodle. Starting at 1 end, roll each noodle like a jelly roll. Lay the lasagna rolls seam side down, without touching, atop the bechamel sauce in the dish. Repeat with the remaining noodles and ricotta mixture.

Spoon 1 cup of marinara sauce over the lasagna rolls. Sprinkle the mozzarella and remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmesan over the lasagna rolls. Cover tightly with foil. Bake until heated through and the sauce bubbles, about 20 minutes. Uncover and bake until the cheese on top becomes golden, about 15 minutes longer. Let stand for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the remaining marinara sauce in a heavy small saucepan over medium heat until hot, and serve alongside.

Words to the Wise:
This recipes by Giada de Laurnetiis. I just love this recipe. It is a bit on the complicated side and not one really for a busy week night but it is just to make on the weekend like a Sunday afternoon perhaps. It is something a little different then your standard lasagna.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tilapia Wraps

1 cup salsa
1 can (4oz) chopped green chillies
6 tilapia fillets about 6 oz each
2 tbsp Olive oil
2 tbsp steak grill seasoning
8 to 10 flour tortillas, warmed
cheddar cheese

  • Combine salsa, chillies in a small bowl and set aside
  • Drizzle the fillets with oil and sprinkle with seasoning.
  • Cook fillets in a large skillet over medium heat for about 5 to 8 minutes or until fish flakes with a fork.
  • Add salsa mixture and stir breaking up fish as you go.
  • Once combines and salsa is warmed through, spoon into tortillas and sprinkle with cheese.
Words to the Wise:
This is a very light and healthy recipe. It is a nice change from the standard ground beef tacos. I have made this with a sweeter mango salsa and the standard tomato salsa. Both ways are really good.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Rachael Rays' Fake-Baked Ziti

* 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 3 turns of the pan
* 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
* 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes (recommended: San Marzano)
* 1 (14-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, (recommended: San Marzano)* If San Marzanos are not available, add a teaspoon sugar to your sauce, optional
* Coarse salt
* A handful fresh basil leaves, torn
* 1 pound ziti rigate, with ridges
* 2 tablespoons butter
* 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
* Freshly ground black pepper
* A generous grating nutmeg
* 2 cups whole milk
* 1/2 cup shredded asiago cheese
* 1/2 cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano
* 1 cup sliced fresh mozzarella
* Crusty bread, to pass at table


Put pasta water on to boil.

In a medium sauce pot over medium heat, saute garlic in extra-virgin olive oil. Chop whole tomatoes and add them to the pan. Add crushed tomatoes and salt and simmer 10 minutes, add basil and simmer over low heat 10 minutes more.

Add salt and pasta to boiling water and cook 6 minutes, leaving pasta a little chewy.

While pasta cooks, melt butter in a small pot over medium heat. Whisk in flour, then cook 1 minute, adding salt and pepper and nutmeg to flour. Add milk and bring sauce to a bubble. Reduce 5 minutes.

Drain pasta and transfer to a large casserole dish. Pour the tomato and basil sauce over the pasta and turn to coat the pasta. Pour the bechamel over the already coated pasta. Cover the top of the pasta with Asiago, Parmesan and mozzarella. Place the casserole under hot broiler and melt the 3 cheeses until brown and bubbly, 3 to 5 minutes. Serve immediately with Spinach and Artichoke Salad and bread.

Word to the Wise:
This recipe is really good and simple but sometimes to simplify things even more, I will use a store bought Spaghetti sauce instead of making one. I usaully skip all the fancy cheese like fresh mozzarella and asiago and just use shredded mozzarella. I have also been known to add meat to the sauce like ground turkey, Italian sausage or hamburger.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sunday Dinner

Italian Beef Post Roast

5 to 8 lbs Bottom Round Roast
1 and 1/2 bottle of Italian Dressing
32 oz of Beef Stock

  • Marinate roast in dressing overnight.
  • On day of cook, put roast and marinate in crockpot
  • Poor beef stock over meat
  • Cook for 10 to 12 hours
  • Shred and serve
This recipes was based on a recipe found at Mama Loves Food.

Cheesy Potatoes

2lb bag frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed.
1 can cream of Chicken soup
2 cups sour cream
2 cups cheese
1 small onion, chopped
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup melted butter
Salt and Pepper
Crushed Potato chips

  • Mix all ingredients together
  • Pour into grease 9 x 13 pan
  • Sprinkle with crushed potato chips or crackers or corn flakes
  • Bake for 1 hour at 350°F
This recipe is an old family favorite.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Cream Chicken Enchiladas

2 cups chicken, either 3 breast cooked and shredded or half of the meat from a roasted chicken.
8 oz cream cheese
1 jar salsa
1 can white beans
8 flour tortillas
1 can Enchilada sauce

  • In a large skillet, add chicken, salsa, cream cheese and beans, cook unitl cheese is melted and all combined
  • Warm tortillas so that they can be easily worked with.
  • Fill each tortilla with 2 ro 3 tablespoons of chicken mixture and then wrap up like a burrito
  • Line up burritos in a 9 by 13 grease pan
  • Then cover with can of enchilada sauce and sprinkle with cheese
  • Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes
Word to the wise:
I love this recipe. It is so quick and easy and the filling is just so creamy and delicious.
This recipes is one of my own, a Jen original.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Chicken Tetrazzini

4 to 6 chicken breasts
2 cans cream of chicken or mushroom soup
1 pint sour cream
3 table spoons garlic salt
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 cup white wine or chicken stock
1lb thin pasta like angel hair or spaghetti
1/2 cup graded Parmesan cheese

  • Heat oven to 300°F
  • Cut chicken into bite size pieces and cook, set aside
  • Cook pasta according to package directions
  • In large bowl, combine soup, sour cream, garlic salt, butter and wine or stock.
  • Add pasta and mix together
  • Pour into grease baking dish
  • Sprinkle with cheese and bake for 45 minutes
Words to the Wise:
This is a house favorite. This comes together in a matter of minutes and just bakes away until dinner time. This is also a perfect dish to make at one time and then cook at an other, just refrigerate until ready to cook.
I found this recipe in our local paper.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Ravioli Lasagna

1 jar Spaghetti sauce
1 family size package (20 oz) of Cheese or Meat Ravioli, thawed (if using frozen)
2 cups Mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup shredded red peppers
1 cup thinly sliced turkey sausage or meat of you choice or no meat if you choose.

  • Heat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Coat baking dish with cooking spray, along with one side of foil used for topping dish later.
  • Spread a few spoon fulls of sauce on bottom of pan
  • Top with layer of ravioli, careful not to overlap
  • Sprinkle with veggies, meat, cheese and spread more sauce on top
  • Repeat layers (ravioli, veggies, meat, cheese, sauce) until all ingredients are gone, ending with cheese
  • Cover with foil, greased side down, and cook for 1 hour, removing foil for last 5 minutes
Words to the Wise:
This is a very fun recipe to have kids help with. Hayden loves to help me with the layering. I first learned of this recipe at Mama's Losin' It. Check out the link for a full demonstration.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies

Ok, I am well aware that you really can't have brownies for supper but sometimes I just need to do a little baking. I have never made brownies from scratch. These were so easy and so tasty and yes, very naught but I still just had to share. Enjoy.


* 1 pound unsalted butter
* 1 pound plus 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips, divided
* 6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
* 6 extra-large eggs
* 3 tablespoons instant coffee granules
* 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
* 2 1/4 cups sugar
* 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
* 1 tablespoon baking powder
* 1 teaspoon kosher salt
* 3/4 cup smooth peanut butter


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 12 by 18 by 1 1/2-inch sheet pan.

Melt together the butter, 1 pound of chocolate chips, and the unsweetened chocolate in a medium bowl over simmering water. Allow to cool slightly. In a large bowl, stir (do not beat) together the eggs, coffee granules, vanilla, and sugar. Stir the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and allow to cool to room temperature.

In a medium bowl, sift together 1 cup of flour, the baking powder, and salt. Add to the cooled chocolate mixture. Toss the remaining 12 ounces of chocolate chips in a medium bowl with 1/4 cup of flour, then add them to the chocolate batter. Pour into the prepared sheet pan. Spoon the peanut butter over the top of the chocolate mixture and using a knife, swirl it through the chocolate mixture.

Bake for 20 minutes, then rap the baking sheet against the oven shelf to force the air to escape from between the pan and the brownie dough. Bake for about 10 to 15 minutes more or until a toothpick comes out clean. Do not overbake! Allow to cool thoroughly, refrigerate, and cut into large squares.

This recipe is from the Barefoot Contessa herself, Ina Garten.

Carabonara Deep-Dish Pasta-Crusted Pan Pizza


* Salt
* 2 packages fresh linguini, 9 ounces each
* 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
* 1/4 pound pancetta, cut as thick as bacon, chopped (I just used bacon)
* 3 to 4 cloves garlic, grated or chopped
* 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, a couple of handfuls
* Salt
* Freshly ground black pepper
* 4 large eggs
* 1/2 cup cream (I use half and half or whole milk, what ever is in the house)
* 2 cups ricotta cheese
* A handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped (I used dried)
* 1 cup shredded provolone or mozzarella cheese (Mozzarella here)


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Heat water for pasta in large pot, salt it and add pasta for 3 minutes.

While water boils, heat a large skillet with extra-virgin olive oil, 3 turns of the pan, over medium-high heat. Add pancetta and brown, 3 to 4 minutes.

Drain pasta, add to pan and toss. Stir in Parmigiano-Reggiano and season with salt and pepper. Beat eggs with cream and pour over top of pasta. Let eggs begin to set up, about 1 minute, and pat pasta into even layer to make the pizza pie crust. Place in oven and cook 5 to 6 minutes.

Mix together the ricotta and parsley. Remove pie from oven and smooth the ricotta over the top. Scatter with the provolone or mozzarella and return to oven. Bake 8 minutes more until cheese is melted and golden at edges. Cut into wedges and serve.

Words to the Wise:
This is a recipe of Rachael Ray's. I just copies it from the Food Network site. I have made this a few time for the family. We love it! It is really good weekend food.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Tex-Mex Chicken Skillet

1lb box Whole wheat Penne pasts
3 boneless skinless chicken breast cut into cubes
1 1/4 cups Salsa
1 can corn (frozen will work as well)
1 green pepper, chopped
1 cup Cheese

  • Cook pasta according to directions
  • In a large skillet grease bottom of pan and cook chicken, about 2 minutes
  • Add salsa, corn and peppers
  • Bring to a boil, then simmer on low for 10 minutes or unitl chicken is cooked, stirring occasionally
  • Drain pasta
  • Add to chicken mixture, mix lightly and stir in cheese.
  • Let stand about 5 minutes before serving
Words to the Wise:
I love this dish and so does the family. It is still a pasta dish so the kids love it but it has different flavors than another spaghetti dish. I have also added black beans to this recipe in the past. It just adds more texture and bumps up the fiber.
This recipe is from Kraft Food and Family.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Baked Pasta Casserole

1lb pasta, penne or rotini
1lb ground meat, I usually use ground turkey
1 green pepper
1 small onion
1 jar Spaghetti sauce
1 can condensed cheese soup
1 tsp Italian seasoning
Mozzarella Cheese

  • Heat oven to 350°F
  • Cook pasta according to package and again, if you have not noticed I use whole wheat pasta
  • Cook meat with peppers and onions until meat is no longer pink
  • Stir in sauce, soup and seasoning along with some pepper to taste
  • Drain pasta, return to pan and then mix with sauce
  • Put mixture in a greased baking dish (9 x 13 works best) and sprinkle cheese on top.
  • Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted.
Words to the Wise:
A super easy meal that can be made in advance. This also freezes very well. If going to freeze, just double the recipe. Yet another kid pleaser. My kids have not met a pasta dish that they don't like.
This recipe is from the Taste of Home magazine.

Green Bean Chicken and Rice Casserole

2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
3 cups diced, cooked chicken
2 (14 1/2-ounce) cans green beans, drained and rinsed
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can condensed cream of celery soup
1 cup mayonnaise
1 (6-ounce) box long-grain wild rice, cooked according to package directions (I use Uncle Ben's Wild Rice but I don't use the seasoning packet, its just too strong)
Cheddar Cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste.

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Heat butter or oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add onion and saute until translucent, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl.
  • Add all remaining ingredients to bowl and mix together until thoroughly combined.
  • Pour into a greased baking dish. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until bubbly. Let stand for a few minutes before serving.
Words to the Wise:
I usually use Rotisserie Chicken. I will buy one large chicken and take the meat off the bone and then I have cooked chicken for easy meals. This one large chicken, I usually get enough for 2 recipes. These chickens will usually be discounted by the store at the end of the day. So sometimes it pays to be a late shopper. The is another kid pleaser.
This recipe is adapted from a Paula Deen recipe.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Penne with Roasted Vegetables

Summer Squash
Red Pepper
Frozen Peas, thawed
1 jar spaghetti sauce
1 lb whole wheat penne pasta
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper
Parmesan cheese
Mozzarella Cheese

  • Heat oven to 400°F
  • Chop all vegetables into 1 inch pieces
  • Place on a large baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. You want the veggies coated so that they won't stick but not dripping in oil.
  • Bake for 30 minutes or until tender. Let cool.
  • Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and return to pot
  • Pour sauce over pasta and stir in vegetables along with peas. I use about half of a bag (if you forget to thaw them, no big deal just toss them in).
  • Mix everything together. Once combined but in a baking dish. (For my family I use 2 smaller baking dishes because this freezes so well and then I can get 2 meals out of it.)
  • Sprinkle with cheeses and bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until cheese is melted and heated through
Words to the Wise
My kids love this dish and it is a great way to get them to eat vegetables. The don't even know that they are eating veggies because they are covered in sauce and cheese.
Also you can really use any veggies that you want in this dish. If you don't like one on the list then skip it and use your favorites. There is not a right or wrong amount either. The more you use the bigger the dish and the more for freezing or left-overs.
And if you want to know, if is an original creation made by me.

Spaghetti Bake

1lb cook whole wheat Spaghetti, cooked
8 oz 2% Velveeta Cheese, cubed
2 cans tuna
1 jar spaghetti sauce
Parmesan Cheese

  • Heat oven to 400°F
  • Cook pasta according to package
  • Once pasta is cooked, drain and let cool
  • Add sauce, cheese and tuna to a zip lock bag, once cool add pasta
  • Mix all ingredients together in bag
  • Poor mixture into a grease baking dish and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
  • Bake for 20 minutes or cheese is melted and heated through.

Words to the Wise:
This is a very good recipe. The kids really liked it. But the whole putting everything in a bag and mixing it together is not such a good idea, especially of the pasta is not completely cool. I say just leave the pasta in the pot and mix all the indigents together. It is much cleaner that way.

Live and learn, right?

This recipe was based on a recipe that was featured in Kraft Food and Family.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Three Cheese Chicken Pasta Bake

1lb whole wheat penne
1 package frozen spinach, defrosted.
3 boneless skinless chicken breast, cubed
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 jar spaghetti sauce
1 can (14 oz) dice tomatoes
4 oz cream cheese
1 cup Mozzarella
Grated Parmesan Cheese

  • Heat oven to 375 °F.
  • Cook pasta according to package directions.
  • Sprinkle chicken cubes with Italian seasoning and then brown in large skillet that has been coated with olive oil. Cook about 3 minutes
  • Add sauce and tomatoes and bring to a boil
  • Simmer another 3 minutes or until chicken is cooked
  • Add cream cheese and spinach (makes sure that all the water is squeezed out of the spinach, easiest way is to ring it out in a clean kitchen towel).
  • Drain pasta; return to pan and the combine with chicken and sauce mixture
  • Stir in Mozzarella cheese
  • Poor into grease baking dish and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
  • Bake for 20 minute or until cheese is melted and dish is heated through.

Words to the Wise:
This was a real winner. It was so good and creamy. The kids ate it up, even the spinach. This recipe was found in Kraft Food and Family magazine

Sausage Beans with Rice

1 onion chopped
1 green pepper chopped
1 teaspoon minced garlic
Olive Oil
1lb lite smoked sausage
1 can kidney beans, rinsed
1 can great northern beans, rinsed
1 cup instant brown rice
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup ketchup
3 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

  • Coat a large skillet with olive oil, saute the onion, green pepper and garlic until soft.
  • Stir in remaining ingredients.
  • Simmer until rice is cooked about 15 or 20 minutes
  • Serve
Words to the Wise:
You gotta love a one pan meal!

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Answer to the Question, Hopefully.

I love to cook. There is nothing that gives me more joy than cooking for my family. But even though I love cooking and preparing dinner for my family, it can be a very daunting task. The simple question, "Mom, what are we going to have for dinner?" can sometimes bring me to my knees.

Now I am not the best cook in the world and I don't claim to be the healthiest one either. Because lets face it, there are just some nights when Tuna Helper is all I have in me. But there are a few things that I love to make for my family that they will both eat up and it is good for them.

I am starting this blog because I want a way to better organize my recipes and I thought it would be cool to share them. Because lets face, what mom is not looking new things to answer that dreaded question, "what's for dinner?"