Thursday, December 16, 2010

Penne with Vodka Sauce

Thank you to my friends for providing me with the 1/2 cup of vodka that I needed so that I didn't have to purchase any! Unfortunately, I will be having to purchase some in the near future; this meal is now a #1 meal in our house. Easy and O SO TASTY! There is a little sting from the vodka after a creamy, tomato sauce and fresh basil flavor. We love it, ate every bite, and wanted more.

Penne with Vodka Sauce
Printable Version
Kosher salt
12 ounces whole-wheat penne
1 28-ounce can whole plum tomatoes
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 shallots, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup vodka
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
Handful of fresh basil leaves, torn, plus more for topping
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the penne and cook as the label directs. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain the pasta. Empty the tomatoes into a bowl and crush with your hands.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and stir in the vodka, tomatoes and salt to taste. Return the skillet to medium heat and simmer, stirring often, until the alcohol cooks off, about 7 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream and cook until the sauce thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Stir in the parmesan and basil.
Add the pasta to the sauce and toss to combine, adding some of the reserved cooking water to loosen, if needed. Season with salt. Serve topped with more parmesan and basil.
Serves 3.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Neighbor Gifts

Ahh...the yearly neighbor gifts. I can never decide if it is a screaming AHHH or an enjoyable one. It is always such a hard decision to know what to give so many of my fun neighbors. It sure doesn't help that they are all way too creative and end up giving me delicious, cute treats. This year I did Minty Melting Delights...Homemade hot cocoa with Keebler Grasshopper cookies. It was a hit! I attached the note below the picture and people loved it!
Melt In Your Mouth Cookies
Gather your family for a special treat...
Be prepared to get a little messy!
Take one mint cookie and take a small bite off each end.
Use the cookie as a straw to sip the hot cocoa...
As soon as the hot cocoa touches your tounge, POP the
cookie in your mouth and enjoy a Minty Melting Delight!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

I am so excited...Cody liked this soup! He said that it counted as a 'real meal' because it was actually filling, unlike the normal soups that I make....anyway...My best friend Ali fed me this soup and I am so glad that she did! This is delicious, FILLING, and easy. A perfect meal to make for a large group. MMM I want to make it again right is cold and snowy and this looks yummy!

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
Printable Version

2 boxes uncle ben's wild rice, cooked (I found bags that you put in the microwave for 90 sec- much quicker!)
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup carrots, chopped
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup cream
2 cups chicken, cooked and shredded
Saute veggies in butter. Add flour and stir for 30 seconds. Add broth and parsley flakes. Stir until thickened, then add rice, cream and chicken. Cook five minutes prior to serving. Add additional milk if too thick.

Recipe from Ali
Serves 8.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Chick Fil'A Sands

I am not a big fast-food fan. We can probably count the number of times we have eaten fast food in the past 4 years, and it is meager. One time however, we ate a a Chick Fil'A. So good. Like so so good. So, when food network magazine (aka my new favorite past time) published this recipe I had to give it a shot. Yum! Talk about a great chicken sandwich. This was a classic.

Chick Fil'A Sands
Printable Version

2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 6 ounces each)
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup dill pickle juice
1 egg
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
oil, for frying
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1 tablespoon malted milk powder
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1 sour pickle cut into 8 slices, plus 1 tablespoon pickle juice from the jar
2 teaspoons white vinegar
4 soft hamburger buns, split
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened

Cut the chicken breasts in half horizontally to make 4 thin cutlets. Place the cutlets between 2 pieces of heavy-duty plastic wrap and pound to 1/8-inch thick with a mallet or heavy skillet.
Whisk together egg, milk and pickle juice, and pour into a large ziplock bag or bowl. Add chicken pieces and marinate in the refrigerator for 2-4 hours.

Heat about 2 inches oil in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat until a deep fry thermometer registers 325 degrees F. Meanwhile, whisk both flours, the malted milk powder, confectioners sugar, baking soda, dry mustard, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon paprika and 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper in another dish. Toss the pickle slices, pickle juice and vinegar in a bowl and set aside.
Working in batches, dredge the chicken in the flour mixture and shake off any excess. Fry the chicken in the hot oil until golden brown, about 4 minutes on each side, adjusting the heat as needed. Drain on paper towels.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Spread the cut sides of the buns with some of the butter and lightly toast in the skillet, buttered-side down; spread with more butter. Put 2 pickle slices on each bun bottom; top with a piece of chicken and cover with the bun tops.

Recipe adapted from Food Network Mag
Serves 2.

Curried Sweet Potato Apple Soup

It is soup time again! I wish I could eat soup every day of forever...okay, so maybe not on humid 100 degree days in Nebraska, but any day under 40. We ate this soup for a girls lunch and it was more than perfect. Smooth sweet flavor of apples and sweet potato and a little kick from the curry equals one delicious eat-once-a-week-in-the-winter SOUP!

Curried Sweet Potato Apple Soup
Printable Version

3 medium sweet potatoes
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 2-inch piece ginger, peeled and grated
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, plus more for garnish
1 ½ teaspoons curry powder
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/4 cups chunky applesauce
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Peel and dice 2 1/2 sweet potatoes. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the ginger, nutmeg, 1 1/4 teaspoons curry powder, and salt and pepper to taste and cook until toasted, 1 more minute.
Add the diced sweet potatoes, chicken broth and 2 cups water to the pot, cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and stir in the applesauce. Simmer, covered, until the sweet potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes. Puree the soup with a blender until smooth. Season with salt and pepper; keep warm.
Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the remaining 1/4 teaspoon curry powder and cook, stirring, until browned; remove from the heat and add the vinegar. Top with the curry butter and cilantro.

Recipe from Food Network Mag
Serves 4

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Best Asian Meatball Subs

(I could not, COULD NOT, get a good picture of these, so this is courtesy of Food Network Magazine.) HE LOVED, DOUBLE-LOVED these. Yes, HE, my Hubbs, ate these TWO days in a row! The "no-leftovers-for-me" man of the house gobbled up every delicious speck of these meatballs. They have quite the twist from a normal meatball sub, with just the right amount of asian flare. Try them. TRY THEM and tell me that you did! (P.S. we ate these as meatball subs one day and formed them into "ham"burger patties the next...yummmmm!)

The Best Asian Meatball Subs
Printable Version

1 slice white sandwich bread
1 1/2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon soy sauce
5 scallions, white and green parts separated
1 1/4 pounds ground pork
3 large cloves garlic, finely grated
1 tablespoon finely grated peeled ginger (about a 2-inch piece)
1/3 cup water chestnuts, drained, rinsed and chopped
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 to 4 teaspoons Asian chili-garlic sauce
Peanut or vegetable oil, for frying
1 cup bean sprouts
4 7-inch-long pieces baguette, split open

Tear the sandwich bread into small pieces, then toss with the milk and soy sauce in a large bowl. Let stand 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, mince the scallion whites. Cut the scallion greens into thin 2-inch-long strands. Put the strands in a bowl of ice water and refrigerate while you make the meatballs.
Add the scallion whites, pork, garlic, ginger, water chestnuts, egg, cilantro, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper to the bowl with the bread; mix until combined. Gently form into 16 golf ball-size meatballs. Put the meatballs on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 to 4 hours.
Stir the hoisin sauce, mayonnaise, 11/2 tablespoons lime juice, the chili-garlic sauce and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil in a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Heat about 1 1/2 inches peanut oil in a large, wide saucepan over medium heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 350 degrees F. Add the meatballs in batches and cook, turning occasionally, until browned and cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
Drain the scallion greens and toss with the bean sprouts, the remaining 1 tablespoon lime juice and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Spread the hoisin mayonnaise on the inside of the baguette pieces, then fill with the meatballs and top with the scallion-sprout mixture.

Recipe from Food Network Magazine
Serves 4.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Pumpkin Parfaits

Pumpkin season is here! Well, if you ask me, it could be pumpkin season all year round. These parfaits were the perfect for a girls only dessert...light, flavorful and delicious! I could eat about, well, 4 of these little babies. So yummy!

Pumpkin Parfaits
Printable Version

13 gingersnaps, chocolate wafers or graham crackers
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup canned pure pumpkin
2 1/2 teaspoons bourbon (or pure vanilla extract)
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
2 cups cold heavy cream

Put 7 cookies in a resealable plastic bag and crush into crumbs with a heavy pan. Brush the bottoms and about 1 inch up the sides of 6 parfait glasses with the butter. Add a spoonful of crumbs to each and roll them around the insides of the glasses; pour out the excess crumbs and reserve for topping. Refrigerate the prepared glasses.
Put 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar, the pumpkin, 1 1/2 teaspoons bourbon and the nutmeg in a food processor. Process until smooth, about 1 minute.
Put the white chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave at 50% power until melted, about 1 minute, stirring halfway. Add to the pumpkin mixture and process until combined. Transfer to a large bowl.
Beat 1 /12 cups cream in a bowl with a mixer until soft peaks form; fold into the pumpkin mixture until smooth. Divide among the prepared glasses and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Beat the remaining 1/2 cup cream with a mixer until foamy. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar and 1 teaspoon bourbon or vanilla and beat until soft peaks form. Top the parfaits with the whipped cream, reserved cookie crumbs and the remaining 6 cookies.
Serves 6.
Recipe from Food Network Mag

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Bobby's Mac and Cheese

I heart Mac and Cheese. If you know me, you have not a doubt in your mind that I could eat Mac and Cheese EVERY day for the rest of my life and I would be completely and utterly happy. My all time favorite will always be my Momma's Mac and Cheese, but with this crazy "need to cook a new recipe all the time" attitude, I have to mix it up a little. I have also loved this Cheddar Mac and Cheese, and to make it into a full meal Creamy Mac with Parmesan Crusted Chicken rocks. However, if you want Mac and Cheese with some real Bobby-flay flavor, this is it. The mixture of cheeses makes this flavor so unique, I love it! My hubbs loves the bacon and the cayenne pepper to jazz it up a little, so really it is a win-win for both of us! Enjoy...

Bobby’s Mac and Cheese
Printable Version

Unsalted butter, for the baking dish
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1-inch-thick slice pancetta or bacon, cut into small dice
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
5 cups whole milk, or more if needed, hot
4 large egg yolks, lightly whisked
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups (8 ounces) grated asiago cheese, plus more for the top
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) grated Irish white cheddar cheese, plus more for topping
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) grated American cheddar cheese, plus more for topping
1 cup (4 ounces) grated aged fontina cheese, plus more for the top
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus more for the top
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound elbow macaroni, cooked just under al dente
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 10-by-10-by-2-inch baking dish and set it aside.
Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook until golden brown on all sides, about 8 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels.
Add the garlic to the fat in the pan and cook until lightly golden brown, 1 minute. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in the hot milk, raise the heat to high and cook, whisking constantly, until thickened, 3 to about 5 minutes. Whisk in the eggs until incorporated and let cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the thyme, cayenne and all the different cheeses until completely melted. Season with salt and pepper. If the mixture appears too thick, add additional warm milk, 1/4 cup at a time.
Put the cooked macaroni in a large bowl, add the cheese sauce, reserved pancetta, and the parsley, and stir until combined. Transfer to the prepared baking dish.
Combine an additional 1/4 cup each asiago, cheddars, fontina and parmesan in a bowl and sprinkle evenly over the top. Bake until the dish is heated through and the top is a light golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Serves 8.
Recipe from Bobby Flay

Garlic Balsamic Quinoa Salad

I always, always have left over quinoa. There is something about me that just can't seem to figure out how to measure, rice, pasta, or quinoa anywhere CLOSE to how many servings that I actually need. Sooo, I have been forced to find meals to make with my extra quinoa lately. Quinoa Salad is delicious. Really easy, really, really healthy, and sooo good. This one has been my favorite so far, but I am quite the Balsamic vinegar addict...

Garlic Balsamic Quinoa Salad
Printable Version

2 T olive oil
½ tsp crushed red pepper
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
2/3 cup spinach leaves, chopped
1 large tomato, seeded and chopped
½ cup feta cheese
2 T shaved fresh Parmesan
½ cup balsamic vinegar
1T Dijon mustard
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/3 cup olive oil
Freshly ground salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Remove the papery part of the garlic and cut top off the head.  Break into separate cloves.  Toss with olive oil and wrap in foil.  Bake for one hour.  Cool and squeeze out garlic pulp.
Cook your quinoa following package directions. Or, like me, throw it in a rice cooker and forget about it!
While quinoa is cooking, combine spinach, tomato, feta cheese and parmesan in a large bowl.  Toss gently.
Make dressing by combining vinegar, mustard, red pepper flakes and roasted garlic in a blender.  Add in olive oil in a fine stream and blend until combined.
When quinoa is completely cooled, add to the spinach and cheese mixture. Dish up individual servings and drizzle dressing over the top to serve.

Serves 3.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Homemade Oreo Cookies

So I am sure that everyone has made these once in their life, if not....YOU ARE MISSING OUT! I am not a huge Oreo fan, (that is, unless the are double stuffed and I have tons of milk...but Cody doesn't like double stuffed, so there goes that!) but these are more than just oreos! You can put as much filling in them as you want...mmm...mmm good! For the past three years I have been making them from a cake mix, and tonight I made a little switch-a-roo. Cody and I made them from scratch. Yes, no cake mix involved, DUN Dun DUN! It was amazing, which I am actually kind of bummed about because #1-it takes longer, and #2-I will now eat more of these little caloric morsels! I included both the easy version and the made from scratch version below...

Homemade Oreo Cookies

2 boxes Devils Food cake mix
1 1/2 cups shortening
4 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix all ingredients together. Roll into ping-pong size or smaller balls. Cook at 350 for 10 minutes.

1 (8 oz.) pkg. Cream Cheese
1 stick (8 Tbs.) butter
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. Vanilla

Cream butter and cream cheese, add sugar and vanilla. Mix well. Spread frosting between two cookies. Keep covered.

Or, for the full-on, homemade goodness, use the recipe below for the cookies and the frosting recipe above.

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) room-temperature, unsalted butter
1 large egg
Preheat oven to 375°F.
In a food processor, or bowl of an electric mixer, thoroughly mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder, salt, and sugar. While pulsing, or on low speed, add the butter, and then the egg. Continue processing or mixing until dough comes together in a mass.
Roll batter into ping-pong size balls and place on a  baking sheet approximately two inches apart. With moistened hands, slightly flatten the dough. Bake for 9 minutes. Allow to cool on sheets for two minutes then move to cooling racks.

Recipes From: Lyndsey Swenson and Smitten Kitchen