Monday, July 18, 2011

Penne Alla "Not-ka"

Penne Alla "Not-ka"

Serves 4
Calories per serving: 371

2 teaspoons olive oil, plus extra for serving
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup chopped red onion
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes or whole tomatoes in juice, pureed in a food processor
Pinch red pepper flakes
8 ounces penne
1/4 cup heavy cream
6 tablespoons evaporated nonfat milk
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup shredded fresh basil
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the penne.
2. In a large saucepan, heat the 2 teaspoons oil with the garlic over low heat until the garlic begins to brown, about 3 minutes. Add the onion and 1/4 teaspoon salt, cover, and cook until the onion is softened, about 2 more minutes. Add the tomato, 1/2 teaspoon salt and the red pepper flakes. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat and simmer very gently 10 minutes. Stir in the cream and evaporated milk and simmer 1 more minute.

3. Meanwhile, after the sauce has cooked 5 minutes, add the penne to the boiling water and cook until just shy of al dente, about 6 minutes. Drain, reserving about 1/2 cup pasta water. Add the drained penne to the saucepan and simmer until the penne is al dente, 1 to 2 minutes, adding a little of the pasta cooking water if the mixture is dry. Stir in 1/4 cup of the Parmesan, along with the basil and black pepper.

4. To serve, divide pasta among 4 serving bowls. Drizzle each serving with 1/2 teaspoon olive oil, and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan.

-You NEED to make this recipe. It's THAT good. I'm thinking this will become a once a week frequency in this house. I've made it a few times now, once when my two friends Audrey and Katie came over! Of course the one time I made it for someone other than the hubs, I didn't have the right ingredients! I only had tomato puree/sauce rather than diced tomatoes. You may think- Aim, it's the same thing. In a way, yes...but the consistency was off.

-I bought garlic ciabatta rolls/bread today for a $1 (!) to go with it and a salad. You definitely need bread of some sorts as the sauce is running and SCREAMS to be sopped up with garlic bread!

-I've started doubling this as the hubs has requested more leftovers!

-To get more legit, I am going to start researching the correct ways to do things with cooking. I went to a cooking class in Charlottesville before Christmas and learned a LOT. It was a cooking class on the food from the movie Eat, Pray, Love. If anyone wants recipes, let me know! Anyways... I learned about mise en place, which is French for "putting in place." The instructor said it was German, but Wikipedia says French...who to believe?!!?? Anyways, it's the process of preparing all your ingredients ahead of time before starting to cook. Like they do on Food Network and the Cooking Channel.

I bought these adorable nesting bowls awhile back at (where else?) TJMaxx:

So, I went about prepping!

This does take time to do, but it's totally worth it. Even if not for convenience, you do feel like a chef on tv!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Milk Chocolate Florentine Cookies

Milk Chocolate Florentine Cookies

2/3 cup butter
2 cups quick oats
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup light or dark corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ¾ cups (11.5oz package) Nestle Toll House Milk Chocolate Morsels

1. Preheat oven to 375°. Line baking sheets with foil.

2. Melt butter in medium saucepan; remove from heat. Stir in oats, sugar, flour, corn syrup, milk, vanilla extract and salt; mix well. Drop by level teaspoon, about 3 inches apart onto prepared baking sheets. Spread thinly with rubber spatula.

3. Bake for 6-8 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely on baking sheets on wire racks. Peel foil from cookies.

4. Microwave morsels in medium, uncovered microwave-safe bowl on MEDIUM-HIGH (70%) power for 1 minute. Stir. Morsels may retain some of their original shape. If necessary, microwave at additional 10-15 second intervals, stirring just until the morsels are melted. Spread thin layer of melted chocolate onto flat side of one cookie, on half of the cookies. Top with remaining cookies.

Makes about 3 ½ dozen sandwich cookies.

Turkey Mini-Meatloaves

A few months back my mother in law told me about this show called 'Cook Yourself Thin,' so I investigated. They basically take someone's 3 favorite foods, total up the calories they are ingesting eating them, and remake them healthier, showing the new calorie intake. I immediately downloaded all the shows on iTunes and went to work watching them. I have made a few of their recipes so far, the best being the 'Penne Alla Not-ka', and haven't been disappointed yet! There's also a cookbook out, 2 actually. The original is the recipes (and more) from the show. The second book hasn't inspired me to make anything out of it yet. Maybe someday...

Well, here's what I made out of it for dinner last night:

Turkey Mini-Meatloaves
Serves 4
Calories per serving, meatloaves: 227

For the meatloaves
1 slice whole-wheat bread
1/2 cup skim milk
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
1 onion, diced
5-ounce bag baby spinach leaves
1 1/4 pounds ground turkey
2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

For the glaze
3 tablespoons ketchup
2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Grind the bread in a food processor until fine crumbs form. Transfer to a large bowl, and pour milk over crumbs.

3. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large skillet, preferably nonstick, over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden, about 5 minutes. Add spinach, and stir until just wilted, about 30 seconds. Transfer to bowl with soaked crumbs. Add the turkey, cheese, egg, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Combine the mixture with your hands until well mixed; it will be quite wet.

4. Pack 1 cup of the mixture into a 1-cup dry measuring cup. Invert the cup onto a rimmed baking sheet, gently shaking the cup to release the mixture. Gently pat the mound to smooth its shape. Repeat three times with remaining mixture. In a small bowl combine the ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce. Brush over meatloaves.
Bake mini meatloaves until cooked through and golden, about 40 minutes.

-On the show they use a piece of day old bread and rip it into pieces, they don't make bread crumbs. My bread was fresh, so I just toasted it twice. Same effect... smells marvelous.

-Again, on the show...they used brown sugar instead of Worcestershire sauce, which I didn't realize, so I added the brown sugar and it was a hit! You may want to double the glaze, which I will do next time, to spoon some over when serving.

-I meant to serve this with roasted root veggies: potatoes, carrots and asparagus, but the 2 potatoes I had left were bad. BOO! So I improvised and used Ready Rice that I had bought awhile back with a coupon. I used 2 white rice ones and a brown rice with a tablespoon of butter and a sprinkling of salt. Oh, and steamed broccoli with vinegar and a big salad. YUM. It was a huge hit with the hubs!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Perfect Iced Coffee. No..really. PERFECT. ICED. COFFEE

So, any iced coffee drinker out there knows that iced coffee is nectar of the gods.. if it's bought. It never tastes right made at home! I LOVE my Keurig, but the iced coffee is awful on it. I have the $99 one (had the Platinum one at first... long story short I returned it thinking it was broken, but the outlet was bad..), and it instructs to brew over ice. Well, it brews hot coffee, over ice. Yup, you guessed it. It's watered down and doesn't taste good at all. I've brewed big pots of coffee and refrigerated it, but it still isn't just right. Or maybe that's just what I tell myself to excuse the many trips to the bux...

Anyways. Thanks to The Pioneer Woman, this is no longer a problem. I think she called it "liquid gold," seriously, it is.

Funny story... one of 2 people I know here in VA that drink coffee, Megan, was doing this at the same time! I sent her a facebook message to tell her about the sweet nectar, and here she was brewing her own!

Without further adieu...

Perfect Iced Coffee

-1 lb. bag of coffee grinds (stronger the better)
-2 gallons cold water

1. In a large container, bucket, pitcher (whatever will fit 2 gallons)- empty the grinds, followed by the 2 gallons of water. Stir until all grinds are wet. Cover and let sit minimum 8 hours.

2.) After 8 hours or more, strain the concoction through cheesecloth and a strainer into a container. This takes time, but worth it. Hang in there!

3.) What is left is amazing. You can use this for up to a month in the fridge if you keep it sealed.

-I didn't buy a 16oz (1 lb) bag of coffee, didn't even realize I bought 12 oz. I just adjusted to 1.5 gallons instead.
-I didn't buy strong enough. I used Eight O'Clock Coffee Original, but will go with something stronger next time.
-I used beautiful milk bottles that were left here at the house by the previous owners. Makes me feel REAL country!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Savory Sausage Breakfast Rolls

These are amazing. Sooo good. I only made these once, but thanks to catching up on my blog, I'll probably make these again next week. They're a great brunch for a Saturday with a bowl of fruit and a great cup of Keurig coffee! Better yet, Lyn's coffee, but beggars can't be choosers... My sister Lyn makes the MOST AMAZING coffee you will ever drink. No matter how I duplicate and copy her every move, it never tastes like hers.

These are from a Cooking Light magazine/cookbook, "Quick Baking," with a display until date of November, 2010.

Savory Sausage Breakfast Rolls

1 (11-ounce) can of refrigerated French bread dough
2 T butter, melted
2 tsp chopped fresh sage
¼ tsp salt
8 oz. Reduced fat pork sausage, cooked and crumbled (such as Jimmy Dean)
¾ cup (3 oz.) shredded Gruyere cheese
Cooking Spray

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Find lengthwise seam in dough. Beginning at seam, gently unroll dough into a rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Roll dough into a 13 x 8-inch rectangle; brush with butter, leaving a ½ inch border.
3. Combine sage, sat, and sausage. Sprinkle sausage mixture evenly over dough, leaving a ½ inch border; top with cheese. Starting with the long side, roll dough up, jelly-roll fashion; press seam to seal (do not seal ends of roll.)
4. Cut 1 (1/2 inch think) cross-wise slice from each end; discard dough. Slice the roll cross-wise into 12 (1/2 inch thick) pieces; arrange pieces in a 13 x 9 baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 for 28 minutes or until golden brown. Serve Warm. Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 2 rolls)

Calories: 312
Fat: 16.8g
Protein: 15.5g
Carb: 24.8
Fiber: 0g
Chol: 52mg
Iron: 1.8mg
Sodium: 738mg
Calc: 146mg
-I used Swiss cheese, Gruyere is expensive! And if I’m buying it, I want to enjoy it on something like French Onion Soup… mmm…
-I didn’t discard the dough. I baked them too!
-Tip: use an extremely sharp knife to cut the pinwheels, and let the knife do the work cutting through to get perfect pinwheels.

A Southern Thing I: Sausage Gravy

I'm BACK! I'm going to catch up on a bunch of recipes that I've had stored up, but will be trying to stay more current from now on. School is done and I am carefree! For the time being until I start working that is... ;) The original "Baby-Plan" has been nixed...for now. Maybe just shelved. I don't know what it is, being around certain kids, or just loving my life the way it is, I don't want kids right now.

SO. I'll start off with Sausage Gravy. I'm trying this whole "Southern" cooking thing every once in a while to appease my Southern-born hunk of a husband. So far I'm not loving it. My original thoughts of Southern cooking were just butter and gravy. Paula Deen is giving "y'all" (that means 'yous guys') a bad rap!

Drew LOVED this. I did not. I made gorgeous biscuits to go with it, and ended up eating them with butter and Hero jelly. I am not a thyme-fan, dried thyme that is, so this was out for me. Maybe I'll try it again with fresh thyme...

Here's the recipe, courtesy of the Knead For Bread blog:

Sausage Gravy

Sausage Gravy


1 pound mild pork sausage
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon onion salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon fresh chopped thyme
4 -5 tablespoon flour
3 cups whole milk

1 ) Cook the sausage meat in a skillet.
2 ) Add in the butter and all the spices. Cook for a few minutes.
3 ) Add in the flour, stirring constantly for 3 minutes.
4 ) Add in the milk and stir using a whisk till the gravy comes to a slow boil. Turn down the heat and continue to stir till the gravy comes to the desired thickness. I cooked mine for about and extra 8 minutes to reduce the gravy and create more flavor. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour over freshly baked biscuits and enjoy.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Raspberry Streusel Bars

Raspberry Streusel Bars
2 ½ cups (12 ½ ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
2/3 cup (about 4 ¾ ounces) granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt
16 Tablespoons (2 sticks) plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch pieces and softened to cool room temperature
¼ cup packed (1 ¾ ounces) light or brown sugar
½ cup (1 ½ ounces) old-fashioned rolled oats
½ cup (2 ounces) pecans, chopped fine
¾ cup (8 ½ ounces) raspberry preserves
¾ cup (3 ½ ounces) fresh raspberries (or frozen)
1 Tablespoon lemon juice from 1 lemon

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 375 degrees. Cut 18” long piece of foil and fold in half length wise to 8-inch width. Fit foil into 13 X 9” baking dish, pushing it into corners and up sides of pan; allow excess to hang over both sides. Cut 14 inch piece of foil and fit into width of pan in same manner, perpendicular to first sheet. Spray foil-lined pan with nonstick cooking spray.

2. In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix flour, granulated sugar, and salt at low speed until combined, about 5 seconds. With machine on low, add 16 Tablespoons butter 1 piece at a time, then continue mixing on low until mixture resembles damp sand, 1 to 1 ½ minutes.

3. Measure 1 ¼ cups flour mixture into medium bowl and set aside; distribute remaining flour mixture evenly in bottom of prepared baking pan. Using hands or flat bottomed measuring cup, press flour mixture into even layer to form bottom crust. Bake until edges begin to brown, 14-18 minutes.

4. While crust is baking, add brown sugar, oats and pecans to reserved flour mixture; toss to combine. Work in remaining 2 Tablespoons butter by rubbing mixture between fingers until butter is fully incorporated. Pinch mixture with fingers to create hazelnut-sized clumps; set streusel aside.

5. Combine preserves, raspberries and lemon juice in small bowl; mash with fork until combined but some berry pieces remain.

6. Spread raspberry filling over hot crust; sprinkle streusel topping evenly over berry filling. Do not press streusel down. Return pan to oven and bake until topping is deep golden brown and filling is bubbling, 22-25 minutes. Cool to room temperature on wire rack, 1-2 hours; remove from baking pan by lifting foil extensions. Using chef’s knife, cut into squares and serve.

-I used frozen berries as the fresh ones looked kind of funky at Food Lion.
-This is from Cook’s Illustrated, so of course there was a whole page article previous to the recipe about raspberry bars, but I don’t want to have to type all of that. Basically it was saying how raspberry bars should be “tender,” “fruity,” and “crunchy.”
-I made these for our contractors who are laboring tirelessly on our master suite and they were a HIT. These things are incredibly sinful.