Friday, December 27, 2013

Hot Cranberry Apple Casserole

Stock up on the fresh cranberries before they are gone from the grocery store shelves.  This fall, early winter treat is a refreshing change after having stuffed yourself on Christmas cookies.   The recipe is from an email received from the GE appliance website.  We found this back in December 2010 and have made it a few times as an alternate dessert choice.    

Now, if I did not have to worry about calories I would want anything chocolate or peanut butter for dessert.  I do love a hot apple pie or pumpkin pie around this time of year.  Apple crisp is another fall and winter favorite that I don't feel as guilty indulging in.  My kids love dessert as well, especially my son who has to find something every night for dessert.  My daughter love desserts like this crisp or anything with fruit involved.  I think that once she starts college to become an RD, our dessert indulgence might change to healthier lower calorie treats.  Or, I secretly share my indulgent desserts with my mom who I got my sweet tooth from while our daughter is away at school. 

Hot Cranberry Apple Casserole


3 cups apples, peeled, cored and chopped
2 cups whole cranberries, raw
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 1/2 cups sugar ( we cut the sugar down to just 1 cup for some tartness)
1 1/3 cups quick cooking oatmeal
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 stick butter, melted

Preheat oven to 325 F.  Combine apples and cranberries in oiled 2 quart casserole dish. Evenly sprinkle sugar and lemon juice over top. Add oatmeal, chopped walnuts, brown sugar and melted butter to medium-sized mixing bowl and blend until moistened. Cover fruit with crumb mixture. Bake uncovered for 75 minutes.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Cream Cheese Spritz Cookies

Time is running out....Christmas is days way and there is still so much to do.  I sat down yesterday and planned out my holiday menu.  Lasy night was dinner with our foodie friends and hubby took care of the dessert.  Today was going to be  brunch at a local inn and then we planned on going to a concert at the Cathedral.   Didn't work out for me.  Woke up with a cold but the rest of the family went.  Monday is a half day of work for me, then the grocery store followed by Christmas with my side of the family.
I am the last of 5 kids, all of us are married.  My mom has 10 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren with 2 more on the way.  So counting all of us up including fiancée and boyfriend/girlfriends you are looking around 30 people for dinner.  Our contribution to this big feast will be a salad and I am planning on a cheese platter.  Might be the one I saw on pinterest that is shapped like a tree.  We traditionally celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve, but as our family has grown it has become harder to get together because of other family obligations.
Christmas Eve will be celebrated at home with our backyard peeps!  The menu is in the works for that night.  Then Christmas day will be at hubby's mothers house.  A smaller dinner is planned for hubby side of the family since he only has 1 sister.
So, on  Saturday before Christmas it was time to make some cookies of my very own.  Remember hubby made the cookies for the exchange last week.  My cookie selection were these easy spritz cookies.

1 cup butter, slightly softened
 3 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups sifted flour
Food coloring (optional)
Colored sugars

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Cream together butter and cream cheese.  Stir in sugar and vanilla.  Then add sifted flour slowly.  Once mixed add food coloring if desired.  

Fill cookie press with dough, select shape desired and put on to ungreased cookie sheet. Add decorations (sugars).  Bake 8 to 10 minutes, remove from oven and let rest 1 minute.  Move to cooling rack. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Baked Pasta and Italian Meatloaf

Looking for a comfort food on these cold winter nights?  Look no further than this Baked Fettucine with Asiago and Thyme and Italian Meatloaf.  The recipe for the fettucine is from Food Network and one of our favorite chefs - Giada.  You will need to make sure you have the right ingredients on hand.  This recipe calls for Creme Fraiche and Asiago cheese, not your standard ingredients.  You will also need some fresh thyme.  Fresh herbs are best when cooking and we were very lucky with this one.  We still had some thyme in the herb garden that was not too snow covered.  

My traditional meat loaf recipe is very good, but very basic.  We have found a few new recipes that spice up the taste of this widely popular comfort food.  This recipe is from Michael Chiarello, an old favorite from Food Network and Napa Valley.  I loved his show when he was on Food Network.  And, I love his restaurant Bottega and his store Napa Style.  Hubby always says that he would love to live between Giada and Ina.  For me Michael Chiarello would then have to live across the street.

Baked Fettucine with Asiago and Thyme


1 pound fettuccine pasta
2 cups grated Asiago cheese, plus 1/4 cup
2 (8-ounce) containers creme fraiche
1 cup grated Parmesan
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh chopped thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking liquid.

In a large bowl combine the 2 cups Aiago cheese, creme fraiche, Parmesan, thyme, salt, pepper, cooked pasta, and pasta cooking liquid. Gently toss until all the ingredients are combined and the pasta is coated. Place the pasta in a buttered baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup asiago cheese. Bake until golden on top, about 25 minutes. Let sit for at least 5 minutes and serve.

Italian Meatloaf



1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 teaspoons (about 6 cloves) chopped garlic
2 medium onions, diced
2 red peppers, seeded, small diced
1/2 cup chopped basil leaves
2 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves
4 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups grated Parmesan
1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs
3 pounds ground beef
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 cup marinara sauce


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat and add the garlic. Saute 1 minute and then add the peppers and onions and saute until just soft. Let cool.

Whisk together the basil, parsley and eggs in a small bowl, and then add the salt and black pepper. Combine the Parmesan and breadcrumbs in another small bowl. Thoroughly combine the meat, herbs and eggs, Parmesan and breadcrumbs, the Worcestershire, vinegar and remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil together in a large bowl using your hands, making sure not to over mix.

Pack the meat mixture into an oiled loaf pan, if you do not have a loaf pan, form the meat mixture into a loaf shape on an oiled oven tray or baking dish. Top with the marinara making sure to spread evenly over the top.

Bake for approximately 50 to 60 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer registers 160 degrees F in the middle of the meatloaf. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice and serve.

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Monday, December 16, 2013

Cookie exchange- just in time for Santa!

One of my niece's decided to host her first annual cookie exchange this past weekend.  Each family was to bring a plate or bag of 6 cookies  for each participant.   End result was coming home with 10 new cookie treats to try.  So baking wouldn't be too bad since there were 11 families  represented, 66 cookies were needed.  Now the difficult part was finding the time to make them.  We had a ball game on Monday and also a meeting, and on Tuesday two ball games, one for each of our kids, to go to after work. We wouldn't get home until almost 10 p.m.  On Wednesday  afternoon I left for a two day staff meeting out of town, not returning until late afternoon on Friday.  Now, the clincher was that the party was on Friday night!  No time for me to bake, so hubby to the rescue!  His only request was to make sure I had all the ingredients ready.

I picked a recipe from our holiday collection that hubby started to make about 15 years ago.  It was one of the recipes you find in the coupons section of the paper from Nestle's.  Hubby had  them ready to go when I arrived home on Friday and had printed out the recipe for us to share.  So, now the big question is what to make next year?

Chocolate Chip Tea Cakes



PREHEAT oven to 350° F.

BEAT butter and powdered sugar in large mixer bowl until creamy. Beat in vanilla extract. Gradually beat in flour and nuts. Stir in 1 1/2 cups morsels. Roll dough into 1-inch balls; place on ungreased baking sheets.

BAKE for 10 to 12 minutes or until set and light golden brown on bottom. Cool for 2 minutes on baking sheets; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

MICROWAVE remaining morsels in heavy-dutyplastic bag on HIGH (100%) power for 30 to 45 seconds; knead. Microwave at additional 10- to 20-second intervals, kneading until smooth. Cut tiny corner from bag; squeeze to drizzle over cookies. Refrigerate cookies for about 5 minutes or until chocolate is set. Store at room temperature in airtight containers.

NOTE: For a spicier cookie, add 2 to 2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon to flour before adding to butter-sugar mixture.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

From the recipe box

How many of you remember what a recipe box looks like?  No, not the electronic one you find on or Food Network where you file away tagged recipes you found while searching for something, only to forget the username and password you set up.  And no, it is not the board you have set aside on Pinterest marked "recipes to try" or "recipes I liked".  This is that box you have hidden in the back of your kitchen cupboard buried under Tupperware containers or miscellaneous papers you threw up there one day.

My recipe box is a smoke colored see through box that holds 4 x 6 cards.It holds recipes I copied from my mother or my sisters and recipes my husband got from his mother. Then there are recipes that I had written down in the early years of our marriage when we didn't have a home computer iPad to quickly search for them.  The recipes in this box are ones we had prior to the big binder of recipes from recent years. 

So, today's recipe was one that I got from my Mother -in-law soon after we were married.  It is a perfect crock pot recipe that cooks all day and ready for you when you walk in from work at night.  

Smothered Steak

1 1/2 lb chuck or round steak, cut in strips
1/3  cup of flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 large onion, sliced
1 to 2 green peppers, sliced
1 lb can diced tomatoes
1 4 oz can of mushrooms
2 tablespoons molasses
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1  10oz. bag  frozen French style green beans

Put steak strips, flour, salt and pepper in crockpot.  Stir well to coat steak.  Add remaining ingredients. Cover and cook on high 1 hour, then turn to low for 6 hours.  Serve with white rice.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Best Dinner Ever!

Ok, I am a little late on posting this dinner receive.  I had hoped to have a guest blogger, the chef himself, but things have gotten a bit hectic around here.  Hubby made this a couple of weeks ago for dinner with our son.  It has taken awhile to post because Christmas decorations, heavy work schedules and basketball season is back in full swing. So look for future crockpot or quick and easy recipes for awhile.

These two recipes were "Out of this World".  Both were very flavorful and easy to make.I was the Sous chef on the pasta recipe.  We saw the spaghetti recipe on a Barefoot Contessa shows weekend.  Ina said it is her favorite thing to make when she is done working.  The Chicken Picatta recipe was one that we found in the daily emails from Food Network.  ( What would we do without Food Network?). This recipe does not specify the celebrity chef.  


Kosher salt
1 pound dried spaghetti, such as DeCecco
1/3 cup good olive oil
8 large garlic cloves, cut into thin slivers
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons of salt and the pasta and cook according to the directions on the package. Set aside 1 1/2 cups of the pasta cooking water before you drain the pasta.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a pot large enough to hold the pasta, such as a 12-inch saute pan or a large, shallow pot. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until it just begins to turn golden on the edges-don't overcook it! Add the red pepper flakes and cook for 30 seconds more. Carefully add the reserved pasta-cooking water to the garlic and oil and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, add 1 teaspoon of salt, and simmer for about 5 minutes, until the liquid is reduced by about a third.

Add the drained pasta to the garlic sauce and toss. Off the heat, add the parsley and Parmesan and toss well. Allow the pasta to rest off the heat for 5 minutes for the sauce to be absorbed. Taste for seasoning and serve warm with extra Parmesan on the side.
Chicken Picatta from the Food Network Kitchens

1 pound chicken scaloppini (about 4 ounces each)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour, divided
3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon, zest reserved for optional garnish, about 2 tablespoons juice
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish
1 tablespoon capers, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Baby arugula for garnish
Whole-wheat angel hair pasta or roasted potatoes, for serving

Season the chicken with salt and pepper and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon flour.

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until very hot; cook the cutlets until opaque throughout, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer the cutlets to a plate. (Reserve the skillet.) Reduce the heat under the skillet to medium.

Add the remaining teaspoon oil and garlic to the same skillet; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Whisk together the broth, lemon juice and 1 teaspoon flour, and add to the pan. Simmer sauce until reduced and thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the vinegar, parsley and capers. Swirl in the butter until sauce is shiny and slightly thickened.

Serve chicken with the sauce. Toss the arugula and freshly grated lemon zest with a light drizzle of olive oil; season to taste with salt and pepper, scatter over chicken. Serve with pasta or potatoes as desired.

Per serving (does not include arugula or pasta/potatoes for serving): Calories: 207; Total Fat: 9.5 grams; Saturated Fat: 3 grams; Protein: 25 grams; Total carbohydrates: 4 grams; Sugar: 0 grams; Fiber: 0 grams; Cholesterol: 73 milligrams; Sodium: 268 milligrams