Sunday, September 18, 2016

Sausage and Pasta Skillet

We needed something for dinner the other night and I didn't want to head back to the grocery store for the third day in a row.  So I pulled some sausage out of the freezer in the morning and started to look for a recipe that I could use it in with what we had on hand in either the pantry or refrigerator. Here is what I came up with.  Tasted great and really easy.  I talked to my duaghter at school that night and gave her the idea as a dinner she could make and have a lot of left overs to get her a couple of meals.  She made it with bow tie pasta and loved it to.      



Sausage and Pasta Skillet

Ingredients


1 lb pork sausage
2 green bell pepper, diced
2 cups dried elbow macaroni (half a package, 8 oz)
18 oz marinara sauce
18 oz water
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup cheddar cheese (or increase to 1/2 cup)

In a large skillet cook sausage on medium heat, until meat is brown. Drain off fat.
Add diced bell peppers, dried elbow macaroni, marinara sauce, and water. Bring to boil; reduce heat to simmer. Simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes until macaroni is tender, occasionally stirring.
Add half and half, sprinkle with cheese, and mix everything well. Remove from heat, cover and let it sit for about 2 minutes or until cheese melts.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Garden abundance


What do you do when your garden is overflowing with grape tomatoes?  Well, you search the Web and find one of your favorite chefs recipe for tomatoes gratin.  It was a no-brainer to give this a try when it was an Ina recipe.  Very easy and flavorful..so much so I hope we have another big harvest to make this again.

Grape Tomatoes Gratin 

3 pints cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1½ tablespoons plus ¼ cup good olive oil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 large garlic cloves, peeled
¹/³ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 cups coarse bread cubes from a country bread



Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Place the tomatoes in a 9 x 13-inch ceramic dish. Add the 1½ tablespoons of olive oil, thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper and toss together. Spread the tomatoes evenly in the pan.

Place the garlic, parsley, and ½ teaspoon salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process until the garlic is finely chopped. Add the bread cubes and process until the bread is in crumbs. Add the ¼ cup of olive oil and pulse a few times to blend. 

Sprinkle the crumbs evenly over the tomatoes.

Bake the gratin for 40 to 45 minutes, until the crumbs are golden and the tomato juices are bubbling. Serve hot or warm.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Stuffed Peppers

 
 

 
Pulled this one off!  Wow, we planned on making this for dinner last night and then once I saw the recipe and realized that it was projected to take about 2 hours to complete it, the plan then changed to prepping it and then back it tonight.  But by the time I got to that stage, I said - let's go ahead and bake them.  Glad I did.  This was very, very good. 
 
The thing with Stuffed Peppers and our family is that our favorite restaurant in town is Canale's and they have stuffed peppers on their menu that my husband loves.  He refers to them as " Brains".  I guess because of their size or how they look, but he loves to order them.  Well, with our garden in full mode, we had enough peppers to make them at home.  Found a recipe on Pinterest and tweaked it a bit and here they are.  He will still order them out, but now we have a classic stuffed pepper recipe during garden harvest time.
 
If you are looking for a quicker version - give then link below a try for another classic stuffed peppers made with sausage, but cooked in the microwave.
 
 
 

Classic Stuffed Peppers

 
4 to 6 green peppers, or use a combination of green and red bell peppers or other colors
1 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon ​​extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried leaf oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried leaf basil
2 teaspoons salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef (at least 85%)
1  cup long-grain rice, cooked
Shredded Mozzarella, about 1/2 to 3/4 cup, optional
 
 
Cut the tops off of the bell peppers and rinse them under cold water; remove seeds and cut away the membranes, which might be bitter. Chop the edible part of tops and set aside.  Place peppers in a large pot and cover with salted water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Heat the olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat until the oil is hot and the butter is foamy.

Sauté the chopped bell pepper (from the tops), chopped onion, and chopped celery for about 5 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Add the (un-drained) canned diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, crushed garlic, oregano, basil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the egg with the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of pepper, and Worcestershire sauce. Gently stir to blend; add ground beef, cooked rice, and 1 cup of the tomato sauce mixture. Mix well.

Heat the oven to 350° F.

Stuff the peppers loosely with the meat mixture and place in a 13-by-9-by-2-inch baking pan. Pour the remaining tomato mixture over the stuffed peppers.

Bake the peppers for about 45 minutes, or until the meat mixture is thoroughly cooked. To check the internal temperature, use an instant-read thermometer. The temperature should be at least 160° F for ground beef, pork or lamb, or 165° F for ground turkey or chicken.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Mediterranean Pasta Salad - not just for Summer


Now that we have hit Labor Day, it is inevitable that summer is slowly coming to an end.  The cookouts, summer parties, shorts and t-shirts as the daily apparel and  the extremely hot dry summer we have will soon be a memory.  But it doesn't mean an end to cooking like it is still summer.  I found this recipe when I was looking for a pasta salad, but not your typical pasta salad with the italian dressing as part of the mixture.  After having this I think we can make this again and again, even as the snow starts to fly!

Mediterranean Pasta Salad


Ingredients

12 ounces farfalle pasta
1-12 ounce can marinated artichoke hearts, drained and roughly chopped
½ cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained (reserve 2 tablespoons of oil)
½ cup kalamata olives, chopped
3 tablespoons capers, rinsed
¼ cup  sliced scallions
1 cup packed fresh arugula
⅓ cup parmesan cheese
3 tablespoon pine nuts

DRESSING:

3 tablespoons basil pesto ( jarred pesto is fine)
⅓ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons of reserved sun-dried tomato oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
Cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente. Rinse and drain the pasta and allow for it to cool to room temperature.
In a large bowl combine the prepared pasta, chopped artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, capers and scallions. Toss to combine.
At this point, you can store the pasta salad in the refrigerator until ready to serve if you want to serve it cold.
To make the dressing: In a small bowl, mix together the pesto, olive oil, sun-dried tomato oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Stir to combine. The dressing can be refrigerated until you're ready to serve the salad.
When you're ready to serve, add the arugula, parmesan cheese, and pine nuts into the salad and toss to combine. Add the prepared dressing and taste test for seasonings.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Dinner Club Time - Tres Leche Cake



Last weekend was our dinner club dinner at our neighbors across the street.  It was a Fajita Fiesta night that also included a little pool party time to cool down from our run of 90 degree plus days. Our assignment was dessert.  And what betther way to cool down that a Tres Leches Cake that is light and refreshing.

Now I have never made this before and was a bit puzzled on the size of the platter needed to serve it on.  The cake was baked in a 10" pan and need to go on a platter with 1 inch sides to capture the "juices" of the 3 milks (Tres Leches) and Grand Marnier.  I could not find one and ended up using the casserole dish that was just a tad bit bigger than the cake pan.  Having now made this I know that I could use a different plate for presentation.

The recipe was also very approprate for me.  I work in the dairy industry and what better way to support it than a recipe which actually had 4 types of dairy products involved.  So, for a international flair and somthing that is refreshing and moist - give this recipe a try.


Tres Leches Cake

Ingredients

Nonstick cooking spray, for the cake pan
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the cake pan
1 tablespoon baking powder
4 large eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup whole milk
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
2 cups heavy cream, divided
3 tablespoons orange liqueur (recommended: Grand Marnier)
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray and flour a 10-inch cake pan with 2-inch high sides and then line with parchment paper. Grease the parchment paper.

Mix the flour and baking powder in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites until frothy. With the mixer running, gradually add the sugar and beat to stiff peaks. Beat in the yolks, 1 at a time, blending well after each addition. Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the whole milk in 2 additions.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool the cake slightly, about 10 minutes, then invert onto a platter with 1-inch high sides.

Pierce the top of the cake all over with a thick skewer. Mix the sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, 1 cup heavy cream and orange liqueur in a medium bowl. Pour the mixture over the cake while warm. Cover and refrigerate until cold, about 3 hours or overnight.

Combine the remaining 1 cup heavy cream and powdered sugar in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream until soft peaks form. Spread the whipped cream onto top of the cake and sprinkle with the ground cinnamon.



Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/marcela-valladolid/tres-leches-cake-recipe.html?oc=linkback

Monday, August 22, 2016

Healthy Beef Enchilada Pie

 

 
I remember a few years ago my hubby was at a training class and it was just the kids and me for dinner for about a week.  I didn't want to keep doing the same old, same old for dinner while he was away.  I wanted to try new recipes that would be easy and that the kids would enjoy.  So I found this recipe from Betty Crocker, made some tweaks and made it for dinner one night and they liked it.  But then it got forgotten in the big binder of recipes until a couple of weeks ago.  So I whipped that up for dinner.  Hubby must of liked it because there were no left overs.
 
I think my children enjoy our cooking and have a couple of favorite recipes each.  Now that our daughter has moved off campus this year I asked her what she plans on making for dinner and did she want some recipes.  Her reply was I will just look at your blog!  I am sure she will look for this one.
 

Healthy Beef Enchilada Pie

 

Ingredients

1 lb. lean  ground beef 
1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup) 
1 can (10 oz)  red enchilada sauce 
1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed, drained 
1 can (4.5 oz)  chopped green chiles, drained 
1 teaspoon ground cumin 
1 teaspoon chili powder 
5 flour tortillas for burritos (from 11 oz package) 
1 cup shredded reduced-fat Mexican cheese blend (4 oz) 
 sour cream and cilantro, if desired 



Directions



Heat oven to 350°F. In 12-inch nonstick skillet, cook beef and onion over medium-high heat 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thoroughly cooked; drain. Reserve 1/4 cup enchilada sauce; set aside. Add remaining enchilada sauce, corn and chiles to beef mixture. Stir in cumin and chili powder. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer uncovered 5 minutes.

Spray 9-inch round (2-quart) glass baking dish with cooking spray. Place 1 tortilla in casserole; top with about 3/4 cup of the beef mixture and 3 tablespoons of the cheese. Repeat layers 3 times. Top with remaining tortilla, the reserved enchilada sauce and the remaining cheese.

Bake, uncovered, 30 to 40 minutes or until hot and cheese is melted. Cool 5 minutes. Serve with sour cream and cilantro sprigs.

Adapted from Betty Crocker

Friday, August 19, 2016

Chick Pea Summer Salad

 
What is more easier then just throwing together a quick summer salad that does not involve cooking ingredients like pasta or potatoes.  This is a super easy salad that we found a few years ago in Cooking Light.  The best part about this is that all of herbs are fresh from my little herb garden. 
 
 Our garden along the side of our house is back in business this year.  Last year we had some landscaping updated and some work done on the French drains and gas line so we could not  have a garden. I still maintained my herb garden because some of them are perennial, however, it took a beating.  It was out of the way of the work we were doing, but nonetheless we lost some plants.  This year the little vegetable garden is in  with tomatoes, peppers, jalapeños and radishes and the herbs are multiplying!  The thyme and the oregano have a mind of their own and sometimes overtake the other herbs in the garden.  For the rosemary, I put that in a clay pot outside my kitchen door.  I love the smell of thyme and rosemary and fresh herbs do make a difference when cooking.
 
 

Chickpea Salad with Provençal Herbs and Olives

 
 
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 (15 1/2-ounce) cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
3/4 cup diced red onion
1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme  
 
Combine the first 5 ingredients in a small bowl. Combine chickpeas and remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Pour vinegar mixture over salad, tossing gently.