Saturday, November 10, 2012

Swamp Juice

I wanted to make some punch for my work's Halloween party and this was perfect.  It tasted good and it was really easy to make.

Swamp Juice
Serves:  A party
Approx 120 calories per 8 oz serving

  • 1 12 ounce can frozen limeade, thawed
  • 1 (2 liter) bottle Sprite, 7-up, or gingerale
  • 1 quart lime sherbet
  • (optional) gummy worms, frozen strawberries, plastic spiders, plastic eyeballs, dry ice
  • green food coloring if desired
  1. Mix limeade and Sprite (or 7-up, gingerale) in a punch bowl.
  2. Add lime sherbet by the spoonfuls.
  3. Garnish with gummy worms, plastic spiders and eyeballs, or frozen strawberries (witch hearts) is desired.
  4. Serve immediately.
  5. Tip 1: For a spooky fog effect take two bowls, one large and one slightly smaller, and fill the larger one with hot water and dry ice. Place the smaller bowl in the larger bowl and fill with swamp juice.
  6. Tip 2: To make the punch slushy place your Sprite in the freezer until it gets slightly frozen before adding it in.

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Pie

Original Recipe (this is my photo)

Another show stopper from Annie's Eats, my favorite food blog.  I submitted this in my office's "apple recipe" competition and won.  Everyone thought it was to die for.  It better be because it was a lot of work and it is an expensive recipe!  My notes say:  make more crust (1 and a half times), more cheesecake filling (1 and a half), and less nuts (half); I left the original recipe intact below.

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Pie
Serves:  16
Approx. 410 calories per serving

To make the crust, preheat the oven to 375° F. Line the bottom of a 9-inch round springform pan with parchment paper. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, cinnamon and melted butter. Toss with a fork until all the crumbs are moistened and the ingredients are evenly mixed. Transfer the mixture to the prepared springform pan and press the crumbs in an even layer over the pan bottom and about half to two-thirds of the way up the sides of the pan. Bake for 6-8 minutes, until golden in color. Let cool for about 10 minutes. Pour a layer of caramel into the bottom of the crust and sprinkle evenly with the chopped pecans. Refrigerate the crust while you prepare the filling.

To make the apple filling, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Mix in the brown sugar, salt and cinnamon and cook for 1 minute, until bubbling. Mix in the apple slices and toss well to coat. Cook over medium to medium-high heat until tender and most of the liquid has been reduced, about 15-20 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes and pour into the prepared pie shell. Set aside.

Reduce the heat of the oven to 350° F. To make the cheesecake layer, combine the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Mix in the vanilla, egg and lemon juice until fully incorporated and smooth, 1-2 minutes. Spread the cheesecake filling into an even layer over the top of the cooked apples in the crust. Bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, transfer to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

To serve, carefully remove the sides of the springform pan. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream and confectioners’ sugar on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form (being careful not to overbeat.) Spread gently over the top of the chilled cheesecake layer. Top with dollops of caramel sauce and swirl with a knife to create a marbled effect. Sprinkle with a handful of chopped pecans if desired. Slice with a long, thin knife to serve.

Orange Creamsicle Cookies

I made these for a cookie contest at work and tied for first place.  Everyone really like them and they are just different enough to be interesting.  I thought the batter was a little dry so I added a couple squeezes of juice from the orange.  I think next time I would add a little more orange zest (I just did 2 whole oranges worth, didn't measure out 2Tb).

Orange Creamsicle Cookies
Yield: 36 small cookies
Approx. 150 calories per cookie

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 firmly packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons orange zest (for me that was the zest of 2 oranges)
2 cups white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and creamy. Beat in egg and vanilla until smooth. Gradually add flour mixture until combined. Stir in orange zest and white chocolate chips.
Drop rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Do not flatten cookies; it will make them dry. Bake 8 – 10 minutes or until golden brown around edges. Do not overcook! Cookies will be plump. Cool for several minutes on cookie sheets before transferring to rack to cool completely. Store in airtight container.


Biscoff No Bake Cheesecake

Yep, you read that right.  These are reallllly good.  I made them in tiny little cups for work and everyone just loved them.  I made 2 batches and it made 30 little cups that were a couple bites each, and that was perfect.

Biscoff No Bake Cheesecake 
Yield:  6+
Approx. calories per serving

For the Crust
12 Biscoff cookies, crushed into crumbs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the Filling
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup Biscoff Spread
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 (8 ounce) tub frozen whipped topping, thawed

For the Garnish
whipped topping, optional
Biscoff cookie crumbs, optional

1. In a medium bowl, stir together the Biscoff cookie crumbs and melted butter. Evenly divide the crumbs between your individual serving dishes and press into the bottoms of the dishes to form a crust layer.

2. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and Biscoff Spread on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add vanilla and mix to combine. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the whipped topping until well blended and no streaks remain.

3. Evenly pipe or spoon the filling into individual serving dishes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

4. If desired, garnish with additional whipped topping and Biscoff cookie crumbs.


Roasted Garlic Mac and Cheese

Annie's Eats is a great blog.  I don't think I have ever made something from Annie that wasn't just awesome, and this is no exception.  Holy moly is this good.  I did miscalculate and didn't realize that I had to have time to roast the garlic, so I had to just use my prepared garlic from a bottle (shhh) but it was still great.

Roasted Garlic Mac and Cheese
Serves: 6
Approx. 350 calories per serving

To roast the garlic, preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Remove most of the outer paper skins from the head of garlic, leaving it intact. Slice off the top portion of the head so that all of the cloves are exposed at the top, but the head is still intact. Rub with a bit of olive oil. Place the head of garlic on a piece of foil and loosely fold the foil up around the head of garlic to create a foil packet. Bake for 45-60 minutes, or until the cloves are easily squeezed from the skins (be sure to let cool before handling!) Squeeze all of the garlic out of the skins and smash with a fork to make a paste.

Increase the oven temperature to 400˚ F. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook the pasta until about 2 minutes shy of al dente according to the package directions. Drain in a colander. Return the pasta to the pot and set aside. Meanwhile in a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Whisk in the flour and the roasted garlic paste and cook, stirring constantly, until light golden, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk, dried parsley, and cayenne. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce comes to a low boil and thickens noticeably. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cheddar and about 3 ounces of the boursin. Whisk until the cheese is completely melted. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Pour the sauce over the drained pasta and toss to coat well. Transfer to a lightly greased 2 quart baking dish and top with the remaining boursin. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the top is browned and the cheese is bubbling. Let cool at least 5-10 minutes before serving. Top with snipped chives for garnish, if desired.

Grilled Peach & Prosciutto Pizza

I liked this, it wasn't really sweet and peachy.  Due to laziness I cheated and used a tube of premade thin crust pizza dough and grilled the peaches in a grill pan on the stove.  Ta da.

Grilled Peach & Prosciutto Pizza
Serves:  2-4
Approx. 650 calories per serving (1/4)

for pizza dough:
recipe from allrecipes

3 c. all-purpose flour
1 package active dry yeast
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp white sugar
1 c. warm water (110 degrees F)

for pizza toppings:
2 peaches, sliced and grilled for 2-3 minutes 
a ball of fresh mozzarella
8 slices of prosciutto
handful of parmesan

Preheat the oven to 375°F. 

Combine flour, salt, sugar and yeast in a large bowl. Mix in oil and water. Kneed dough with your hands and roll out half of the dough on a pizza stone or baking sheet. If you want to use the entire dough then double the amount of pizza toppings. 

Cut individual peach slices and grill for 2-3 minutes on each side. Top pizza with parmesan, thinly- sliced mozzarella slices, peach slices and prosciutto pieces. Bake pizza for 20-25 minutes. Top pizza with cilantro before serving. 

Mexican Street Corn

This is sooooooooooooo good, great way to eat fresh corn.  I don't actually follow this recipe, just the general idea of it.  I basically just omit the lime and mayo but stick with the cotija.

Fresh Corn with Queso, Cilantro and Chile (Mexican Street Corn)
Serves: 4
Approx. 300 calories per ear
  • 4 large ears corn 
  • butter
  • sea or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste 
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise 
  • 1 + 1/2 cups Queso Fresco, crumbled or Cotija or Parmesan cheese, grated 
  • 4 tablespoons fresh cilantro, minced 
  • 4 teaspoons chile powder 
  • 1 lime, cut into four wedges 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Brush corn lightly with butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast 20-25 minutes. Alternately you can grill or boil it.

Working with one ear of corn at time brush with mayonnaise, sprinkle with cheese, cilantro and chile powder, pressing it onto the corn to help it stick. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve with lime wedges.

Chile Colorado Burritos

Nom nom nom nom.... easy and tasty and meaty.

Chile Colorado Burritos 
Makes 5-7 burritos, depending on how full you make them.
Approx. 700 calories per burrito (1/6 recipe)

  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds stew meat or other beef cubed (top sirloin is great)
  • 1 large can mild (red) enchilada sauce* (at least 19 oz.)
  • 2 beef bouillon cubes
  • 1/2 can refried beans (optional)
  • 5-7 burrito size flour tortillas
  • 1 cup or so of shredded cheddar cheese
Put beef, bouillon, and enchilada sauce*** into a crock pot and cook on low for 7-8 hours**, or until meat is very tender. (Can also cook on high for maybe 3-4 hours.)  I've also cooked it in a dutch oven for about 4 hours at 325 degrees.  More meat, more time.  A third option is to cook it in a large heavy saucepan--bring it to a boil on high heat, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the meat is tender.  If you go with a method other than the crock pot, make sure the pot is covered and pretty well sealed to minimize evaporation of the liquid.

When beef is done (very tender and flakes off when stirred), taste and add more salt, if desired. Heat up refried beans in the microwave (covered and in a microwave-proof dish, of course)and put your oven on broil. On an oven-proof plate, or cookie sheet even, lay out a tortilla.  Place on tortilla about 1/2 cup of the meat, drained by using a slotted spoon, and a spoonful or two of beans. Roll into a burrito (hopefully you know how to roll these). Pour some of the remaining enchilada sauce from the crock pot over the burrito to cover it. Sprinkle with some cheddar cheese. Broil until cheese is bubbly, about 2-4 minutes.

Beef Enchilada Bake

I took the advice of my friend, the original pinner of this recipe, and cooked the meat in taco seasoning, which is a must.

Beef Enchilada Bake
Serves: 4
Approx. 890 calories per serving
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 can (10-3/4 oz.) reduced-sodium condensed cream of chicken soup
  • 1 1/4 cups (8 oz.) cubed VELVEETA (1/2-inch cubes), divided
  • 6 corn tortillas (6 inch), cut in half
  • 1 can (10 oz.) RO*TEL® Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies, undrained
HEAT oven to 350 degrees F.

BROWN meat in large skillet; drain. Stir in soup and 1 cup VELVEETA.

SPOON 1/3 of the meat mixture into 8-inch square baking dish; cover with 6 tortilla halves and 1/4 cup RO*TEL®. Repeat layers. Top with remaining meat mixture, RO*TEL® and VELVEETA; cover.

BAKE 25 min. or until heated through.

Bacon Wrapped Barbeque Shrimp

I have made these a couple times with different seasonings... cajun blend, italian, montreal steak etc.  I am super laze and usually use the frozen pre-cooked shrimp and I definitely have to precook the bacon some or it turns out underdone bacon with overdone shrimp, not good.

Bacon Wrapped Barbeque Shrimp
Serves: 4
Approx. 200 calories per serving

  • 16 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  •  8 slices bacon (or I buy the center cut bacon which is shorter, then use a whole slice)
  • barbeque seasoning, to taste
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). 

Wrap shrimp with 1/2 slice of bacon, securing with a toothpick. Be sure and use the large shrimp--the cooking time for the shrimp and the bacon is similar. If you use medium-sized shrimp, you might want to precook the bacon a little--over cooked shrimp are tough and rubbery--and a real shame. 

Line a jelly roll pan with extra heavy duty foil, and place baking rack in pan. Place the shrimp on the rack, and sprinkle heavily with the barbecue seasoning, turn and sprinkle second side. Let the shrimp sit for 15 minutes. The bacon will turn from creamy white to a little opaque, and the seasonings will soak in. 

Cook the bacon for 10 to 15 minutes. The rack keeps the shrimp from sitting in the draining bacon fat. With a little luck, you won't tear the foil -- you can throw that away and only have to scrub the rack.

Chili & Cheese Twice Baked Potatoes

 I liked these!  And they heated up well for lunch the next day (baked them the second time, then microwaved the next day).  They are messy and I probably needed to cook them a little more so that the guts were easier to mash...

  • 4 medium potatoes
  • 1 cup chili (leftover, from a can, whatever)
  • 6 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded #1
  • 0.5 cups sour cream
  • 0.25 cups milk
  • 0.5 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded #2

Wash and poke holes in potatoes using a fork. Cover potatoes in foil. Bake at 400 degrees for one hour. Remove potatoes from oven and from foil. Allow to cool to the touch. Cut in half lengthwise. Using a towel or hot pad to protect your hand, hold the potato and scoop out the insides being certain to leave a 1/4 to 1/2 inch in the skin (see illustrations below). Place scooped out middles in a large bowl.

Mash the cooked potatoes with a fork or potato masher. Note: they should be lumpy, not smooth. To the potatoes add chili, cheddar cheese #1, sour cream, milk and garlic powder. Mix well.
Add mixture back to hallowed out skins. Top with remaining cheddar cheese #2. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until heated through and cheeses melted. Serve.

Freezing Directions:
Follow directions above but do not bake a second time. Instead, wrap in saran wrap and place in a gallon freezer bag. To serve: Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or microwave for 2-3 minutes or until heated through.

Orzo with Parmesan and Basil

Yummmmmmmyyyyyy.  And barely more effort than a rice-a-roni box.  Totally will make again.

Orzo with Parmesan and Basil
Serves:  4
Approx. 420 calories in 1/4 recipe

  • 3 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1-½ cup Orzo
  • 3 cups Chicken Or Vegetable Stock
  • 6 Tablespoons Fresh Chopped Basil
  • 1 cup Parmesan Cheese
  • ½ teaspoons Salt
  • ¼ teaspoons Pepper

Melt the butter over medium heat. Add the orzo and saute for a few minutes, until the orzo starts to get golden brown. Add the broth and cover and simmer for 20 minutes, until all the broth has been absorbed. Remove from the heat, add the basil and Parmesan and salt and pepper to taste. 

Bacon, Ranch, and Chicken Mac and Cheese

This was much easier than most homemade mac and cheese recipes, which is a nice change.  Sometimes I just don't have the time to wait for other recipes to bake.  Was pretty tasty, I would make it again.
Bacon, Ranch, and Chicken Mac and Cheese
Serves:  I don't remember, 3-4?
Approx. 500 calories in 1/4 recipe

  • 8  ounces  uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 1  slice applewood-smoked bacon (yeah right, more like 3)
  • 8  ounces  skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1  tablespoon  butter
  • 1  tablespoon  all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2  cups  fat-free milk
  • 1/3  cup  condensed 45% reduced-sodium 98% fat-free cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
  • 3/4  cup  (3 ounces) shredded six-cheese Italian blend (such as Sargento)
  • 1/2  teaspoon  onion powder
  • 1/2  teaspoon  garlic powder
  • 1/2  teaspoon  chopped fresh dill
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2  cup  (2 ounces) shredded colby-Jack cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain.

Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving drippings in pan. Finely chop bacon; set aside. Increase heat to medium-high. Add chicken to drippings in pan; sauté 6 minutes or until done.

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat; sprinkle flour evenly into pan. Cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly with a whisk. Combine milk and soup, stirring with a whisk; gradually add milk mixture to saucepan, stirring with a whisk. Bring to a boil; cook 2 minutes or until thick. Remove from heat; let stand 4 minutes or until sauce cools to 155°. Add Italian cheese blend, onion powder, garlic powder, dill, and salt, stirring until cheese melts. Stir in pasta and chicken.

Preheat broiler.

Spoon mixture into an 8-inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle evenly with reserved bacon and colby-Jack cheese. Broil 3 minutes or until cheese melts.

Jalapeno Cheddar Parmesan Cornbread Muffins

I thought these were super dense/heavy and just ok... I am not a huge parmesan fan.  Matt liked them with the chili we were having for dinner, so I'll keep this recipe around.

Jalapeno Cheddar Parmesan Cornbread Muffins
Yield: 11 muffins
Approx. 210 calories each
  •     1 cup all-purpose flour
  •     1 cup cornmeal
  •     1 tablespoon baking powder
  •     Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  •     6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  •     1 cup buttermilk
  •     2 tablespoons honey
  •     2 large eggs
  •     1 jalapeno, seeded and diced, plus more for topping
  •     1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for topping
  •     1/2 cup shredded cheddar, plus more for topping

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Line a 12-cup standard muffin tin with paper liners; set aside. (If you don’t want to use paper liners, you could coat a muffin pan with cooking spray instead.)

In a large bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and pepper, to taste.

In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk together the butter, buttermilk, honey and eggs.

Pour mixture over dry ingredients and stir using a rubber spatula just until moist.

Add the jalapeno, Parmesan and cheddar and gently toss to combine.

Scoop the batter evenly into the muffin tray.

Top with sliced jalapeno, using your fingertips to gently press the jalapeno into the batter. Sprinkle with Parmesan and cheddar.

Place into oven and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Chicken Enchilada Puffs

Tasty, easy little meal.  Will probably do this again at some point.  Served with some Mexican corn and a side salad.

Chicken Enchilada Puffs
Serves:  3-4
Approx. 200 calories in 1 puff (if 8 ct.)

  • 1 package jumbo crescent rolls (I used 8 ct. regular)
  • 3 oz cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup Mexican blend shredded cheese
  • 3/4 cup cooked chicken (diced or shredded) (I used a cup)
  • 1/3 cup enchilada or taco sauce
  • 2 teaspoons enchilada or taco seasoning mix (I used a couple pinches cumin)
  • 1/4 cup Mexican shredded cheese for sprinkling
  1. Preheat oven to 375° and line cookie sheet with foil and spray with no-stick spray
  2. Place cream cheese and 1/2 cup Mexican cheese in small bowl and microwave for about 30-40 seconds, to soften.
  3. Add seasoning mix, sauce and chicken to cheese mixture and stir until combined.
  4. Unroll crescent rolls on prepared pan.
  5. Scoop 1 large heaping tablespoon of chicken mixture into the center of the two short ends of the crescent roll.
  6. Pull outer corners of the crescent roll over the chicken mixture, and then pull the long end over, completely enclosing filling.
  7. Sprinkle tops of puffs with additional shredded Mexican cheese.
  8. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Monday, October 8, 2012


I had been looking forward to this year's cider mill crawl for weeks!  I couldn't wait to grab a group of ladies and go sample some delectable treats from a few mills that we have skipped over in the past.  Next year we will have to head east now that the northwest and southwest have been mostly covered.

Here are the posts for the previous 3 crawls:

We didn't luck out in the weather department like last year.  It was chilly and drizzled on and off (and I had a cold)... but we were troopers and nothing could keep us from a sugar rush! 

Cute little bags just waiting to take home the leftover goodies.

Table all set up.

Why no, those aren't the same graphics from last year.

At least the plates are different...

Glitter pumpkin.

Long Family Orchard, Farm and Cider Mill
Commerce, MI

Mmm, my first taste of cider this year.

Group shot, well, I am behind the camera.
L to R:  Raeyanna, Liz, Andrea, Stephanie, and Ann Marie

Why yes, we will wait in line for the donut door.

Nasty sprouts.

We were not cat calling at the cider press boys.

Creepy farm tools on the ceiling.

Big grins from super fresh, hot donuts.

Obstbaum Orchards
Salem, MI

Yes, I am the cider Vanna White.

Stephanie is loving on the hot cider.

Very happy group to be sitting inside this time.

Pro cider crawlers know to only eat a couple hunks of donut at each mill.

Erwin Orchards
South Lyon, MI

Cider baby.

Aerial donut cam.

Yes, only 2 pics at Erwin's... it had started raining.

Back to my house for the official tasting and judging.

Of course we continued the tasting after already tasting everything... and before we eat a protein packed dinner of chili.  That's how we roll.

A very happy, sleepy, carbed-up group.

And now, for the results!!!!

Overall Experience:
1st-  Long's
2nd- Obstbaum's
3rd-  Erwin's

Best Donut:
1st-   Long's
2nd-  Erwin's
3rd-  Obstbaum's

Best Cider:
1st-   Long's
2nd-  Erwin's
3rd-  Obstbaum's

OVERALL RANKING (150 points possible)

1st-  Long's with 115 points  WINNER!
2nd-  Erwin's with 98 points
3rd-  Obstbaum's with 83.5 points

Interesting pricing note:
We purchased 1 dozen donuts and 2 half gallons of cider from each mill.  The pricing varied considerably.
1st-  Obstbaum's at $14.50
2nd-  Long's at $18.25
3rd-  Erwin's at $24.50

Here are my thoughts:

Long's:  This was fun to go back to.   Last year, we were not able to fully appreciate this mill because the barn was closed and we could only eat cold donuts and cider from the roadside stand in the parking lot.  Huge difference.  This place smelled awesome, was really cute, and there was entertainment while waiting in line.  I am super happy this place is so close to my house.

Obstbaum's:  Quaint and off the beaten path.  Wasn't that busy despite only being open on the weekends.  It definitely had more of a country feel than some of the more commercial mills.  Good prices and the indoor seating was good.

Erwin's:  This one didn't get a fair shake in the experience voting because it had started raining and gotten colder, so we didn't explore much.  But it did feel very get 'em in, buy the stuff, get 'em out.  And it was expensive!  While it wasn't in the voting, they offered pumpkin donuts in addition to the classic apple spice donut.  There was a ton of covered seating but none inside.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Sausage and Pepper Rigatoni

Not an actual picture of the recipe, I didn't take one, but it basically looks like this haha.

I didn't have a recipe, I just worked with what I had.  It was tasty and easy, and definitely a good twist on just using plain ol' chuck.

Sausage and Pepper Rigatoni
Serves: 6-8
Calories: About 485 in 1/8

12 oz frozen onion and 3 pepper mix from Kroger
16 oz rigatoni
16 oz hot breakfast sausage roll
48 oz (2 jars) of pasta sauce, I used Classico's Italian Sausage flavor
8 slices of provolone cheese

Preheat oven to 375.

Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook pasta according to package.  Drain and return to the pot.

In a large skillet, break up and brown the sausage and the frozen onions and peppers (takes about as long as the pasta to cook).  Drain, add to drained pasta pot.  Add both jars of sauce, stir all together.

Pour into 9x13 casserole dish.  Cover with slices of cheese.  Bake for about 20 minutes until golden brown.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Stovetop Chili Mac

This was pretty good, way better than say a hamburger helper type meal.  It needed to grow a pair and spice it up (apparently Martha Stewart like bland food)... so here is my modified version below.

Stovetop Chili Mac
Serves:  4
Calories:  About 600 per serving

Coarse salt and ground pepper
8 oz rigatoni or other tube-shaped pasta
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 small yellow onion, diced small
12 oz ground beef chuck (85 percent lean)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
1 cup corn kernels, thawed if frozen
1 small zucchini, diced medium
1 can (14 ounces) diced tomatoes
1/2 tablespoon sugar
2+ ounces cheddar, grated (3/4 cup)
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain and return to pot. Meanwhile, in a large skillet heat oil over medium. Add garlic and onion and cook until onion is translucent, 3 minutes.
Increase heat to medium-high, add beef, and cook, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add spices and cook until fragrant, 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Add corn and zucchini and cook until zucchini is crisp-tender, 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and juice and sugar, bring to a simmer, and cook until mixture is heated through, about 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide pasta among four bowls, top with meat sauce, and sprinkle with cheese.

Spicy Mac and Cheese

We loved this, and the leftovers were good too!  I made a couple substitutions but this was another winner from Annie.

Spicy Mac and Cheese
Serves:  4 piggies, 6 is more realistic
Calories:  About 3600 in the recipe, my way

4 cups pasta shapes (I used 2.5 cups of mini penne and it was perfect) 1/3 cup onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup roasted red pepper (jarred or home roasted), finely chopped (I used like 1/2 cup+)
1-2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely minced  (I used jarred sliced)
6½ tbsp. butter, divided
4 tbsp. all-purpose flour
2½ cups milk
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
¼ tsp. onion powder
¼ tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
8 oz. colby jack cheese, shredded
4 oz. pepper jack cheese, shredded
4 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
4 oz. baguette or crusty Italian bread, torn into large chunks  (I used about 2 cups of dry corn flakes, smashed)

Bring a large pot of water to boil.  When the water boils, cook the pasta according to the package directions.  In the meantime, melt ½ tablespoon of butter in a small skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the onion, red pepper and jalapeno to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally until fragrant and tender, about 5-7 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat.  Once the butter is completely melted, whisk in the flour.  Cook the mixture, whisking constantly, until it turns a light golden brown color and begins to foam, about 2 minutes.  (Be careful not to burn!)  Whisk in the milk until well blended.  Cook the mixture, whisking or stirring frequently, until it begins to bubble and thicken, about 5 minutes.  Reduce the heat to medium-low.  Whisk in the spices.  Add the cheeses to the mixture and whisk until completely melted and well incorporated.  Remove the mixture from the heat.

Preheat the oven to 375° F.  Grease a 2-quart casserole dish. (I used a 2.5 quart)  Return the drained pasta to the large pot.  Add in the cooked vegetables and the cheese sauce, and mix until well blended.  Transfer the mixture to the prepared casserole dish.

Use a food processor to pulse the bread into coarse crumbs.  Transfer the crumbs to a small bowl.  Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and toss with the bread crumbs.  Sprinkle the crumb mixture in an even layer on top of the pasta.  Bake for 25 minutes, or until the mixture is heated through and the topping is golden brown.  Let stand 5-10 minutes before serving.

Shrimp, Black Bean, and Grilled Corn Pizza

I thought the flavors of this were pretty good, but I wasn't a huge fan of the shrimp.  Matt preferred the shrimp part over everything.  

Shrimp, Black Bean, and Grilled Corn Pizza
Serves: about 4
Calories:  About 2500 per pizza

1 lb pizza dough  (I used a premade tube of thin crust dough from Pillsbury)
1/2 lb small shrimp, peeled and deveined  (I thawed out frozen precooked)
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 tsp ancho chile powder  (I used regular chili powder)
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/3 cup canned black beans, drained
1 ear of corn, grilled, and kernels removed
4 oz Manchego, grated  (I used some cotija cheese and a little cheddar)
4 oz Monterrey Jack, grated
Small handful cilantro, chopped  (yuck... but I threw on some parsley)

  1. Preheat oven to 450.
  2. Toss shrimp with lime juice and add chile powder, cumin, coriander, a pinch of salt and pepper.
  3. Heat olive oil over medium-high and add garlic, cooking for about a minute.
  4. Add shrimp and cook 3-5 minutes, until pink and mostly opaque.
  5. Shape ball of pizza dough into a 12-14" round.
  6. Sprinkle cheese over the crust, leaving the edges bare.
  7. Toss beans, red bell pepper, and corn together and then sprinkle evenly over the pizza.
  8. Bake 5-7 minutes, until pizza is bubbly and the edges begin to brown.
  9. Remove from oven, sprinkle with cilantro, and let sit 5 minutes before slicing and serving.