Saturday, October 30, 2010

Sausage Tortellini

I LOVE this meal. It is so incredibly easy and quick to prepare. I'm talking 10 minutes and it is ready to eat at the table. It is very filling as well, such a hearty dish. Oh yeah, and it tastes fabulous too. :) Don't be scared of the sausage, it really isn't overpowering. This will be a family favorite I promise!

Brown the sausage and drain if necessary.

Cook the tortellini for a couple minutes is all. I was always told that once they start popping to the top, then that means they are done!

Mix meat, noodles, and marinara sauce.

Enjoy this yummy and hearty dish!

Sausage Tortellini
adapted from Or So She Says

1 pkg. cheese tortellini, fresh or frozen
1 pkg. Jimmy Dean sausage, regular
1 jar of marinara sauce or spaghetti, *I use Ragu Garden Combo because I LOVE it and it counts as a full serving of veggies!

Brown the sausage. Drain excess grease if you have some. While sausage is browning, cook the tortellini. It should only take a couple minutes. Drain tortellini and throw in with the sausage. Pour the pasta sauce in and mix all together. Heat through and serve!!!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Easy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

I'm sure you've all seen this recipe floating around, or tried them yourselves. Aren't they delicious?! So easy, just 3 simple ingredients. Perfect for this time of year. So preheat that oven and pour a big glass of milk. Before you know it, these cookies will be gone!

Just 3 ingredients! 

Mix together

Plop on a cookie sheet for 10 minutes at 350 degrees.



Easy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from Aimee's friend Kristen

Makes 36 cookies

1 box spice cake mix
1 small can pumpkin puree
1/2 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Mix all 3 ingredients together in a large bowl. Drop a spoonful of dough onto greased cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes.

Makes 36 cookies

*You can easily double this recipe using 2 boxes cake mix, 1 large can of pumpkin and a bag of chips.

*A tip from Kristen..."Sometimes they have peaks when you scoop them so I use a wet spoon to just pat down the peaks.  Otherwise you might get pokey cookies."

Monday, October 11, 2010

Brownies Overload

I am a sucker for all things brownie, and oh my, these brownies are just silly. They should come with a warning sign. They are triple layered, gooey, RICH, sweet and delicious, definitely not for the faint of heart. I do however think you will be in love with all this brownie has to offer. I tried a small bite, and it was almost more than I could handle. Ugh, so good, but very rich, but so good. Did I mention so good? I knew I could not keep these around me for fear I would eat them all by myself! I divided them up and sent them with my husband to school to give them away to the pharmacy students. Boy were they happy! They have told my husband more than once since then, "Hey bring back some more brownies!"

I didn't like the original names for these brownies, much too long. I shortened it to Brownies Overload because that is exactly what they are. Just see for yourself!

First make your brownies, using a box mix. I'm not afraid to voice my opinion here in saying that these are the best brownies you'll ever find in a box. I eat these...a lot.

As soon as the brownies are done, sprinkle the mallows on top and cook for another 5 min.

They'll look like this...Now let cool.

Now combine the butter, chocolate chips, and peanut butter in saucepan on low heat, stirring frequently until melted.

Take off heat and add rice krispies. Stir until combined. Then pour over cooled marshmallow/brownies.

Spread chocolate mixture evenly and let set up in fridge.

       The real question is how do they taste?

Hmmm, they sure are gooey...

Taking my first bite...

Wow these are good!

Can I have some more?!


Brownies Overload

1 package fudge brownie mix
1 package mini marshmallows
1 ½ cups semi sweet chocolate chips*
1 cup creamy peanut butter*
1 Tablespoon butter
1 ½ cups Rice Krispies Cereal

Line a 9x13 inch pan with foil and brush lightly with oil. (I did not use foil. I just sprayed the 9x13 with cooking spray and it worked out great.) Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees or to brownie box directions. Prepare brownie mix for chewy brownies. Bake according to box directions.

Remove from oven and sprinkle with the marshmallows. Bake for another 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely, or until marshmallows have solidified.

Melt chocolate chips*, peanut butter*, and butter in a saucepan over medium low heat stirring frequently. (*Next time I may try and half these 2 ingredients, the top layer was too thick for my liking. I like to be able to taste more brownie than chocolate/peanut butter! I think a nice thin layer of the chocolate/pnt butter mixture on top of the mallows would be delicious!)Turn off the heat and stir in the cereal. Pour over the brownies and smooth out the mixture. Refrigerate until the topping is set. Carefully remove the brownies from the pan by lifting the foil. If they are too soft to be removed, freeze for 30 minutes and try again. To cut, brush a chef’s knife with oil and cut into strips, then into squares. Repeat with the oil as needed. *I found this tip to be very useful!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Chicken Cacciatore

Recipe adapted from the New Better Homes and Garden Cookbook (the red checkered one)

4 Chicken Breasts
1/4 Cup Canola or Vegetable Oil
2 Medium Onions, sliced in rings 1/4 inch thick
2 cloves Garlic, minced
2 14.5 oz cans Tomatoes
8 oz. can Tomato Sauce
1 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. Pepper
1 tsp. dried Oregano or Basil (I used basil because I love it)
1/2 tsp. Celery Seed
2 Bay Leaves
1/4 cup Chicken Stock

Brown chicken in skillet with hot oil.  Remove chicken and add the onions and garlic.  Cook until tender but not brown.  Return chicken to the skillet.  Combine tomatoes, tomato sauce, salt, pepper, basil, celery seed, and bay leaves.  Pour mixture over chicken and onions.  Cover and simmer 30 minutes.  Stir in chicken stock.  Cook uncovered for 15 more minutes.  Remove bay leaves and serve.

I thought this dish would be delightful over Angel Hair Noodles and it was!  This dish made my house smell like I was a professional Italian chef!  Here is what I'd do differently next time:
  • Make sure your meat is completely thawed before trying to brown it.  If it's still slightly frozen it won't brown very well but the water will thaw and just steam the meat and in the end it will over cook and become chewy like mine did. 
  • Try using tenderloins instead of breasts. 
  • Because of the mistake in bullet #1 we ended throwing out the chicken but saving the sauce.  It is a good marinara sauce if you like tomatoes and onions, which I do.
  • Let the onions start to cook and become tender for a minute or two before adding the garlic.  You don't want the garlic to burn and become bitter but you don't want crunchy onions in the end either.
  • Separate the onion rings as you put them in your pan.  Otherwise it is alot harder to do with a spoon and they slide all over the pan.
  • Make sure your stove can keep a simmer on low.  Still learning what my stove personality is and I turned it down and walked away but when I came back to check on it the simmer had gone :(
  • I have a spaghetti squash that I need to use (replacing the noodles) and I think it would go well with this sauce.  Another way to pack in another veggie for kids to try.

Birthday Macaroni Salad

My friends and I were getting together for a little pot luck lunch on my birthday (hence the name Birthday Macaroni Salad). It was late at night and I didn't have any time to run to the store so I kind of had to think of a dish that I could bring, that was in my cupboards and fridge at home. I initially wanted to do a macaroni salad, always a good pot luck item. Well, I didn't have a lot of the veggies I would use in my family's traditional macaroni salad, but I had macaroni noodles and miracle whip, so I knew I could throw together something! I looked through the cupboards, grabbed a few more items and went with it. Now let me explain why this was kind of a scary thing for me...I'm not the type of person that can make up her own recipes on a whim and I'm certainly not one to venture too far from an original recipe. I don't have much faith in my cooking judgement, with good reason (ask my husband), but this time it actually turned out great. It felt kinda good that I had done my own thing and it turned out delicious! (I must be getting better at this cooking business with all the cooking I've been doing this year!) 

Everyone loved it and wanted the recipe. Always a good sign! I figured I'd better write down the recipe while I can still remember it! I'm sure you all have these items in your kitchen too. So if you need a last minute potluck item, try this one out!

Birthday Macaroni Salad

2 cups elbow macaroni uncooked
1/2 onion diced 
1/2 small can sliced olives
1 can tuna
Peas *almost a cup-ish
1 heaping cup of Miracle Whip *I added a little the next day, it had tried out some
1 tsp dill
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 tsp celery seed 
1/2-1 tsp seasoned salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
*I think halved cherry tomatoes, and/or broccoli, and/or shredded cheese would be good in this as well! The seasonings I just kinda eyed it, so feel free to do as you please!

Cook macaroni according to box directions and drain, set aside. In large bowl combine Miracle Whip, sugar, dill, celery seed, seasoned salt and black pepper together. Once they are combined well add diced onion, olives, tuna, peas and macaroni. Mix together well. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours before serving, the longer the better! Add more seasonings if needed or to taste!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Lemon Cream Puffs

I was in the mood for something lemony this week. I wasn't sure exactly what kind of lemon treat I wanted to make so I did a little searching. My search brought me across these Lemon Cream Puffs. Aren't they kind of adorable? They were actually a lot easier than I thought making a cream puff would be. I had a great time! What was even better than that though, was eating them! They were SO good and very lemony. They hit the spot.  They were very light and refreshing, despite the cream, they didn't have a heaviness to them at all. If you are hankerin' for some lemon, give these babies a try. They would be great served at a baby/wedding shower, or a nice little brunch, ya know, something like that. Everyone will be so impressed!

Lemon Cream Puffs
adapted from via Doreen Martin
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup butter, cubed
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cubed
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • confectioners' sugar

  1. In a saucepan, bring water and butter to a boil. Add flour all at once, stirring until a smooth ball forms. Remove from the heat; let stand for 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Continue beating until mixture is smooth. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls 3 in. apart onto greased baking sheets. Bake at 400 degrees F for 28-32 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks. Immediately split puffs and remove tops; discard soft dough from inside. Set puffs and tops aside to cool.
  2. While cream puffs are cooking prepare the filling. In a small heavy saucepan, combine the egg, sugar, lemon juice and butter. Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook and stir for 5-7 minutes or until mixture is thick enough to coat a metal spoon. Remove from the heat. Cool quickly by placing pan in a bowl of ice water; stir for 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl; press plastic wrap onto surface of filling. Chill for 1 hour or until partially set.
  3. After lemon filling has chilled for an hour, prepare the cream. In a mixing bowl, beat cream and sugar until stiff peaks form; fold into lemon mixture. Fill cream puffs; replace tops. Dust with confectioners' sugar. 

Monday, October 4, 2010

Meatballs from Her Mom

I named these "Meatballs from Her Mom" because they came from Amanda's mom at My picture above isn't great, but don't let that deter you from trying them. Just trust me that they were really, really good! I will make these again, and soon!

Meatballs from Her Mom
adapted from Amanda at We Heart Cupcakes

1 lb lean hamburger *lean is important because if you don't, then you're left with a lot of grease in the sauce!
1/2 onion minced
6-8 soda crackers *I used 1/2 sleeve of Ritz crackers
2 eggs
Jar of chili sauce *Made by Heinz 
1/2 jar grape jelly
juice from 1 lemon
salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350. Mix hamburger with eggs, crumbled crackers, salt and pepper and onion. In separate bowl mix chili sauce, jelly, juice. Spray casserole dish and pour in a little of the sauce to cover the bottom. Shape meatballs and drop into sauce. Pour the rest of the sauce over the meatballs evenly. Cover with foil and cook for 45 minutes. 

*You may also use this recipe for a crockpot. Cook on low for 6 hours.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Top Chef Chocolate Chip Cookies

My sister is helping me on this "chocolate chip cookie quest" I am on. She was watching Top Chef and they just so happened to make a great chocolate chip cookie! She tried and tested them, and here were her results. She says...

 Alright here's the DL on the Top Chef cookies:
  • Easy to make.
  • Age well.
  • Chewy and moist.
  • Flat.
  • Not a "cookie dough" recipe. (Meaning the cookie dough isn't so good that you could just sit and eat it.)
  • They were good warm. Very chewy and gooey.  But I prefer them completely cooled.
Here's her documented proof she made them! They look so good!

Top Chef Chocolate Chip Cookie
adapted from Top Chef Erika Davis

Makes about 3 dozen
  • ¾ c sugar
  • ¾ c brown sugar
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ lb butter
  • 2 ½ c AP flour
  • eggs
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 ½ c chocolate chips (*I used milk chocolate and only 1 cup)

Cream the butter, sugars, eggs together then add the vanilla, salt and baking soda. Scrape the sides and add the baking powder and flour. Mix till incorporated and add the chocolate chips just till mixed. Scoop with a Tablespoon and bake at 350 for 10-12 min.

Simple and Yummy Balsamic Vinaigrette

photo taken from Lucy's Kitchen

My friend brought me over some fresh butter lettuce from their garden. I wanted to try something lighter than ranch on it, but didn't have any other options, so I decided to whip up my own balsamic vinaigrette! It was a smart decision!

I used Emeril's recipe as the starting point. I really loved the end result. It was fantastic and so easy! I'll definitely have to try this again.

Simple Balsamic Vinaigrette
adapted from Emeril

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar (**I used light)
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp soy sauce
1/2-3/4 cup olive oil *I went with 1/2 cup and it was plenty for me
*Your favorite greens mix
*Your favorite salad ingredients: *I used what I had on hand which was cherry tomatoes, diced cucumbers, and strawberries. The strawberries were SO AMAZING with the balsamic....try it! You could also add in whatever: carrots, red onion, cucumbers, blue cheese etc!

Beat the vinegar in a bowl with the sugar, garlic, soy sauce, salt and pepper until sugar and salt dissolves. Then beat in the oil, whisking constantly. (Or place all ingredients in a screw top jar and shake to combine.) Serve immediately. To store, cover and refrigerate, whisking or shaking again before use.

**If using a good quality balsamic vinegar you should not need the sugar, but if using a lesser quality you might want the sugar to round out the dressing.