Monday, August 30, 2010

Quick & Easy Cinnamon-Swirl Coffee Cake

I found this recipe on the Kraft website & had to try it. It was so easy to make, and the whole family devoured it! Feel free to leave off the nuts if you don't care for them.

1 (3.4 oz) pkg vanilla instant pudding
1/2 cup chopped pecans, divided
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 cans (7.5 oz each) refrigerated buttermilk biscuits
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Heat the oven to 350. Sprinkle half each of the dry pudding mix and nuts onto bottom of fluted tube pan sprayed with cooking spray; set aside.

Mix cinnamon and brown sugar. Separate dough into 20 biscuits. Place 10 biscuits in pan, with sides slightly overlapping. Sprinkle with remaining dry pudding mix, nuts, and half the cinnamon-sugar. Drizzle with half the butter. Top with remaining biscuits, cinnamon-sugar and butter.

Bake 30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 1 min in pan; invert onto serving platter. Serve warm.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Bolognese Rigatoni

I made this dish for some guests this evening and everyone LOVED it! We each had seconds and some had more than that! It is meaty and so flavorful. It takes a while to cook, so make a double batch to freeze.

1 lb. ground chuck
1/2 lb. bulk Italian sausage (I actually used regular instead of Italian)
1 T. olive oil
1/2 cup EACH chopped onion, celery, and carrot
1 T. chopped garlic
1 can diced tomatoes (28 oz)
1 c. dry red wine
1 c. whole milk
1/4 c. tomato paste
2 T. balsamic vinegar
1 t. kosher salt
1 t. dried basil (or 1 T. fresh basil, chopped)
1 t. dried oregano
Pinch of red pepper flakes (more or less depending on how much spice you like)
1 lb. dry rigatoni
1/2 c. mascarpone cheese (or cream cheese)
1 c. chopped fresh parsley
Kosher salt and pepper to taste

1. Brown chuck and sausage in oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Make the meat as fine as possible by using a potato masher. Drain fat; return meat to pan.

2. Mince onion, celery, carrot, and garlic in a food processor. Add vegetables to browned meat; cook until vegetables soften, about 5 minutes.

3. Stir in tomatoes, wine, milk, tomato paste, vinegar, salt, basil, oregano, and pepper flakes. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer sauce 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

4. Cook rigatoni according to package directions; drain and set it aside.

5. Add mascarpone, parsley, salt, and pepper to sauce. Serve over rigatoni.

Kongnamul (Korean Soybean Sprouts)

1 bag soybean sprouts
2 T. seasoned rice vinegar
2 T. soy sauce
1 T. sesame oil
1 t. sugar

Boil sprouts for 2-3 minutes. Drain and combine with other ingredients in a sealed container. Shake until well mixed and refrigerate for at least one hour. Shake before serving.

Yukgae Jang (Spicy Korean Beef Soup)

1 lb. beef brisket or stew beef
1 onion, chopped
12 green onions
5 c. mung bean sprouts
2 T. garlic, minced
1/4 c. hot pepper flakes (found at the Asian market, different than crushed red pepper flakes)
2 T. Sesame Oil
1 T. Vegetable oil
2 T. Soy sauce
1 T. salt
Ground pepper
2 eggs (beaten)
Mung Bean noodles

Boil beef and onions in 10 c. water for 40-50 minutes. Meanwhile, combine hot pepper flakes, sesame oil, vegetable oil, soy sauce, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Pour over garlic, green onions, and sprouts and mix together. Remove beef and cut into small pieces and add the vegetable mixture to the pot. Simmer for 20-30 minutes. Add chopped beef, egg, and mung bean noodles and cook for a few more minutes. (Note: I prefer to cook the noodles separately and add them to the bottom of the bowl)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Caprese Pasta

If you like caprese salad, you have to try this pasta! It is SO good that my husband and two little guys finished off the entire thing! The most important thing is to be sure all the ingredients are fresh and ripe. Be sure you use FRESH mozzarella that comes in a soft white ball, packed in water in vacuum-sealed plastic or in a plastic tub. The result is fantastic!

3 c. diced fresh tomatoes
1/2 lb. fresh mozzarella cheese, diced
Kosher salt and pepper to taste (be sure to use a good amount of salt!)
8 oz. spaghetti
2 t. minced garlic OR 1 T. sliced garlic
1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 c. thinly sliced fresh basil

1. Combine tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper; set mixture aside.

2.Cook spaghetti according to package directions; drain and toss with tomato-cheese mixture.

3. Saute garlic in oil in a large saute pan until garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Pour hot oil over spaghetti mixture; toss to coat all ingredients.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Chicken and Udon Noodles

I LOVE udon noodles and wanted to find a good recipe. I didn't find anything that suited my fancy, so I made up my own. I also cooked some chicken in the pan ahead of time, which added flavor to the sauce and added some protein to the dish. It's so easy and so delicious!

1 T. vegetable oil
1 carrot, diced
2 scallions, cut into 1/2 in. pieces
2 t. minced garlic
1/4 c. soy sauce
3 T. rice wine vinegar
1 t. dried ginger (or 1 T. minced fresh ginger)
1/4 c. plus 1 T. sesame oil
Red pepper flakes (optional)
Dried shitake mushrooms, rehydrated and sliced
1 pkg. (12 oz) udon noodles, cooked and strained

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add carrot, scallions, and garlic and saute until vegetables start to soften. Add soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, mushrooms, and pepper flakes. Simmer until flavors combine, about 3-5 minutes. Toss with udon noodles and serve.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Upside-Down Pizza

I got the recipe from Robin Miller, and adapted it a bit to suit my family's taste. It was oh-so-good, and my whole family gobbled it up! I'm putting the recipe with the "toppings" we used, but feel free to substitute your favorites.

1 lb sausage (I used sage since we don't like Italian)
1 medium onion, chopped
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
1 cup pasta sauce
1 cup pizza sauce
16 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup parmesan, grated

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat large skillet over medium heat, adding a bit of olive oil if needed to cook sausage. Add sausage and cook until browned and cooked through, breaking up the meat as it cooks with a wooden spoon. Add the onion halfway through cooking, then add mushrooms and cook another 2 minutes, until soft. Add pasta sauce and pizza sauce and bring to a simmer, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer sauce to the bottom of a 13x9-inch baking dish. Top with mozzarella cheese.

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, and oil until blended. Whisk in flour and salt until well blended. Pour mixture over sauce in pan. Sprinkle with parmesan. Bake 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Zucchini Parmesan Crisps

I got this recipe from Ellie Krieger on Food Network. It's a delicious way to serve your vegetables! So easy to make and so good!

cooking spray
2 medium zucchini
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1/4 cup plain dry bread crumbs
1/8 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.

Slice the zucchini into 1/4-inch thick rounds. In a medium bowl, toss the zucchini with the oil. In a small bowl, combine the parmesan, bread crumbs, salt, and a few turns of pepper. Dip each round into the parmesan mixture, coating it evenly on both sides, pressing the coating on to stick, and place in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Bake the zucchini rounds until browned and crisp, 25-30 minutes.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Rainbow Rotini

This was a quick and easy lunch (or perfect for dinner if it's just the kiddos & me), and it packs a lot of protein. So delicious too! I got it from Parents magazine and adapted it a bit.

6 oz dried multicolor rotini
12 oz skinless, boneless chicken breasts, diced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can (15 oz) cannellini beans, drained
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp flat-leaf parsley (or 1 tsp dried)
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Meanwhile, saute chicken (seasoned with some salt & pepper) in olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until cooked through, adding garlic about halfway through cooking. Once chicken is cooked, add the remaining ingredients; heat through. Stir in pasta and serve.

(You can also saute 1/2 cup chopped red onion with the chicken.)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Lighter Caesar Salad

I *love* Caesar salad, and can feel good eating this homemade version.

1 large head romaine lettuce
3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 lemon, halved
fresh ground black pepper
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
garlic croutons

Wash romaine under cold running water. Trim core, and separate stalk into leaves; discard wilted or discolored portions. Shake leaves to remove moisture. Cut coarse ribs from large leaves; tear leaves into bite-size pieces and place in large salad bowl.

Combine olive oil, vinegar, Worcestershire, salt, and garlic in a jar. Cover tightly, and shake vigorously. Pour dressing over romaine; toss gently until coated. Squeeze juice from lemon halves over salad. Grind a generous amount of pepper over salad; sprinkle with cheese. Toss, top with garlic croutons and serve.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ham & Swiss Quiche

1 1/2 c shredded Swiss cheese
4 t all-purpose flour
1/2 c cooked ham, diced
3 eggs
1 c milk
1/4 t salt
1/4 t ground dry mustard
1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust
2 T chopped fresh parsley (optional for garnish)

In medium bowl, toss 4 teaspoons flour with the grated cheese. Sprinkle mixture into the pie shell. On top of cheese, sprinkle 1/2 cup of diced ham.

In medium bowl, combine eggs, milk or cream, and then add salt and mustard powder. Beat until smooth and pour over cheese and ham.

Put piece of plastic wrap large enough to overlap sides over top of quiche, then a piece of foil, and seal well around the edges. (plastic keeps the foil from sticking to the food). Place prepared quiche in freezer.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Remove foil and plastic wrap. Put foil around edge of crust to protect it from burning. Bake in the preheated oven for 60 minutes, or until filling is set and crust is golden brown.

Orange Apricot Pork Chops

In addition to being delicious, this recipe smells AMAZING as it cooks! :)

6 pork chops (medium thickness, bone-in or boneless)
1 cup apricot jam
3 T brown sugar
1 t kosher salt
1/2 t pepper
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t ginger
1/4 t cloves
1 (11-ounce) can mandarin oranges (needed on-hand for serving day)
Place all ingredients in large freezer bag. Mix well, remove air, & freeze.
Serving Day: Thaw completely in fridge. Pour contents of bag into slow cooker. Add the entire can of mandarin oranges (with juice!) evenly over the top. Cover and cook on low for about 8 hours, or on high for about 4 hours. Serve with rice to soak up the yummy juice.

Bacon Ranch Slow-cooker Chicken

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 T Baco's bacon flavor bits
1 t minced garlic
1 package ranch dressing mix
1 10.75 oz can condensed cream of chicken soup (healthy version is fine)
1 c light sour cream

1 lb egg noodles (on hand for serving day)

Cooking Day:
1. Combine the first 5 ingredients
2. Place chicken in freezer bag and pour sauce over top
3. Seal and freeze

Serving Day:
1. Empty bag (which has been thawed completely in fridge) into slow cooker.
2. Cook on high 4-5 hours
3. Serve over hot egg noodles.

Cookies & Cream Pie

1 1/2 cups half-and-half
1 (3.4 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix
1 (8 oz) tub whipped topping, thawed
1 cup finely crushed Oreo cookies
1 chocolate crumb crust (9 inches)

In a mixing bowl, combine the cream and pudding mix; beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Let stand for 5 minutes. Fold in whipped topping and cookies. Spoon into crust. Cover with plastic lid (should be included on a commercially prepared crust), wrap with foil if desired. Freeze until firm, about 6 hours or overnight. May be frozen for up to 3 months. Remove from the freezer 10-15 minutes before serving.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Baked Stuffed Tomatoes

I had some fresh tomatoes from a friend and had always wanted to try making stuffed tomatoes. I looked up a few recipes, then created my own based on our tastes and what I had available. They turned out great! (My kids aren't huge tomato fans, but they loved the filling.)

8 medium tomatoes
1/4 cup diced onion
1 tsp minced garlic (1 clove)
~1 lb ground beef
2 slices bacon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp sugar
2 cups uncooked instant rice (I used brown rice)
1/4 cup shredded cheese (I used parmesan-cheddar would be good too)
1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp melted butter
2 tbsp water

Slightly cut the bottoms of the tomatoes so they stand upright. Cut out the stem, making a hole in the top of the tomato. Leaving a 1/2-inch thick shell, scoop out and reserve the pulp. Place tomatoes in either a 9x13 baking dish or a baking sheet with tall sides.

In a skillet over med-high heat, add about a tablespoon of olive oil. Add diced onions, bacon, and garlic; once mixed and started cooking, add the ground beef. Season with salt, pepper, and oregano. Once cooked, drain off extra grease if necessary. Add about 1-1.5 cups of the tomato pulp and the sugar to the meat mixture. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and summer 35-40 minutes, until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally. (I tasted here and did add a bit more salt.) Add rice; mix well. Simmer 5-6 minutes longer or until rice starts to get tender. Stuff the tomatoes when mixture is done.

Combine bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, and butter, then top the tomatoes. Add some water to the baking dish/sheet. Bake, uncovered, at 375 for 20-25 minutes.

Bananas Foster

I read a few recipes for this yummy dessert and then created my own recipe. It turned out great! Enjoy :-)

2 T. butter
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/4 c. dark brown sugar
1 T. banana liqueur
2 slightly unripe bananas, peeled and cut into thick slices
1/4 c. spiced rum


Melt butter in heavy skillet over medium low heat. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar and stir until sugar is dissolved. Stir in banana liqueur. Add bananas and cook about 2 minutes until bananas are warm and coated. Carefully add rum and light on fire. Cook another minute or until fire goes out. Serve over ice cream or cake.

Chicken Gumbo

I tried out this recipe for chicken gumbo tonight and LOVED it! It uses a large variety of spices, but they're all pretty common-- I had all of them in my spice cabinet. I tweaked some of the spices to make it extra flavorful, and I made a double batch so I would have some freezer meals. Be sure to serve this over rice... it's delicious!

2 t. olive oil
1 c. chopped onion
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 med. green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 1/4 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 2 in pieces
1 t. dried thyme
1 t. dried oregano
1/2 t. salt
2 bay leaves
1/2 t. onion powder
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. dry mustard
1/4 t. cayenne (I used 1/8 t. and it was perfect)
1/4 t. fresh ground black pepper
1 10oz pkg. frozen sliced okra
2 links andouille sausage (I used a pkg. of smoked sausage), diced
4 c. reduced sodium chicken broth
2 c. tomato juice
Rice (for serving)


1. Heat oil in a large pot over med. high heat. Add the onion, celery, and bell pepper and cook until softened.

2. Add the chicken and cook until browned on all sides.

3. Add all the spices and stir to coat. Cook for 1 minute until the spices are fragrant, then add the okra, sausage, broth, and tomato juice and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until cooked through. (I let it simmer for an additional 15 minutes to give the flavors more time to develop.

4. Remove the bay leaves and serve over rice.

Spaghetti Marinara and Meatballs

Wow! This is an AWESOME recipe. The marinara sauce is composed entirely of fresh vegetables roasted in the oven with drippings from the meatballs. The meatballs are moist and SO flavorful! I recommend doubling the marinara recipe with a single batch of meatballs. Enjoy :-)

For the marinara:
3 1b. fresh cherry or Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 c. chopped onion
4 garlic cloves, smashed
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
sprinkle of red pepper flakes (optional)
2 T. fresh chopped basil

For the meatballs:
1 c. fresh breadcrumbs
3/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 c. whole milk
1/2 c. beef broth
1/2 c. chopped fresh parsley
3 eggs, beaten
2 T. dried oregano
1 T. minced garlic
2 t. dried basil
1 t. kosher salt
1 t. ground black pepper
sprinkle of red pepper (optional)
2 lb. ground beef sirloin

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Combine tomatoes, onion, smashed garlic, sugar, 1 t. salt, 1 t. pepper, and red pepper flakes for marinara in an 11x15 in. baking dish (I used two 11x13 baking dishes and put this much in each dish to double the sauce).

3. Mix together in a large bowl the meatball ingredients minus the sirloin. Add the ground sirloin and combine well.

4. Shape meat mixture into balls the size of a golf ball (about 2 oz. each).

5. Arrange meatballs on vegetable mixture in baking dish; roast for 40-45 min.

6. Remove meatballs from baking dish; keep them warm. Process roasted tomato mixture in batches in a food processor or blender. Stir in basil, add to meatballs. Serve over spaghetti and garnish with Parmesan.