Sunday, January 23, 2011

Winter Highlights Recap for December & January

Once again, I've started a food blog and, once again, I've let it slip away. It seems the further I let it slip, the sillier I feel coming back to it after so long so the more and more I put it off. Well, the ends now! I will not feel bad for letting my blog go for a couple of weeks and coming back! Better late than never, right? It's about sharing food amongst friends, not who's the most organized and diligent with their posts! So, that being said, here are a few recipes from the last couple months that were stand outs. It is, by far, not all the recipes I've tried recently. It contains mostly recipes that were worth sharing that I have pictures for or recipes that I felt really need to be shared so everyone can have a taste. Hope you all enjoy them!

A deliciously rich dip marries macaroni! This one got mixed reviews but I loved it and so did my 2 year old son who licked the bowl clean not once but twice and then again the next day for leftovers! I don't have a picture for this but, if it got that much spinach in my son it was worth making the top of the highlight list in my book!
Spinach & Artichoke Mac 'n' Cheese
From Rachael Ray's Look + Cook

    1 pound semolina or whole-wheat penne                          
    2 tablespoons evoo                                             
    3 tablespoons butter                                           
    1 medium onion, finely chopped                                
    3 garlic cloves, finely chopped or grated                      
    3 tablespoons all-purpose flour                                
    1/2 cup dry white wine (I used chicken broth)                  
    2 cups whole milk                                              
    1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, or to taste                
    1 (10-ounce) box frozen chopped artichokes, defrosted and drained (I couldn't find frozen so I used jarred artichokes and drained and chopped them.)
    1 (10-ounce) box frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and wrung dry in a kitchen towel
    1 1/2 cups shredded Italian fontina cheese, plus additional for sprinkling on top
    1 1/2 cups grated parmigiano reggiano cheese, plus additional for sprinkling on top
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta, salt the water, and cook the pasta to al dente.
2. While the pasta water come to a boil, place a medium pot over medium-low heat with EVOO and the butter. Add the onions and garlic to the pan and cook until very soft, about 10 min
3. Heat the broiler and position the rack in the middle of the oven.
4. Turn up the heat under the pot to medium-high and sprinkle the flour into the pot. Cook for about 1 min, then whisk in the wine and cook for another minute to burn off the alcohol. Whisk the spinach, and salt and pepper to the sauce and simmer until thickened and the vegetables are warmed through, 2 to 3 minutes more. Add 1 cup of each of the cheese to the sauce and stir until melted.
5. Toss the prepared sauce with the cooked pasta and transfer to a casserole dish. Sprinkle the remaining Fontina and Parmigiano over the top and brown under the broiler for about 3 min.

The next recipe also had mixed reviews but was delicious in my book and rather easy. I made it with peas on the side and my son and I gobbled both down.

Enchilada-Style Casserole
From Campbell's Casseroles and One-Dish Favorites (published 2009)

    2 10 3/4-ounce cans Campbell's condensed cheddar cheese soup   
    1/2 cup water
    1 16-ounce jar Pace chunky salsa (used mild and only half the jar)
    4 cups cubed cooked chicken (used rotisserie picked and shredded)
    12 corn tortillas or 8 flour tortilla (6-8 in.), cut into strips (I used corn and cut in thirds and then strips for bite-sized pieces)
    1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (4 oz) - You KNOW I used more approx1.5 to 2 cups

1. Mix the soup, water, 1/2 cup salsa (I used 1/2 the jar) and chicken in a bowl. Stir in the tortillas. Spread the chicken mixture in a 13x9x2 in shallow baking dish. Top with the cheese. COVER
2. Bake at 350F for 35 minutes or until hot and bubbling. Serve with remaining salsa (which I didn't because of putting extra inside the casserole).

Another easy throw together meal that passed the test with even my husband was a crescent recipe. Deliciously cheesy, one pie was supposed to serve 6 to 8 and only fed my husband, 2 year old son, and myself! Hope you enjoy it as much as we did! No room for enjoying this the next day.

Italian Crescent Pie

    1 pound ground beef, cooked and drained                        
    1 cup basil and garlic tomato pasta sauces (from 16 oz jar)    
    1 8-ounce can Pillsbury refrigerated crescent dinner rolls     
    1 1/2 cups shredded italian cheese blend (6 oz), divided       
    1/4 teaspoon dried basil leaves                                
1. In 10-inch skillet, mix beef and pasta sauce. Heat to boiling over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.
2. Separate dough into 8 triangles. Place dough in ungreased 9-inch glass pie plate in spoke pattern, with narrow tips overlapping rim of plate about 3 inches. Press dough in side and bottom to form crust; sprinkle with 1 cup of the cheese. Spoon meat mixture evenly over cheese. Bring tips of dough over filling to meet in center; do not overlap. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese and the basil.
3. Bake at 375°F 15 to 20 minutes.

Note: Would be even better if you added cooked bacon or pepperoni but also wonderful as is.

The next recipe I took what was laying in my fridge and tweeked a recipe I think I saw a while back. That's one of the wonders of cooking... it's about learning techniques and then changing them up to suit you and your family and what you like. This time, it was because I had the cheese that need to be used so this was born.

Kelli's Sundried-Tomato Cheese Filled Chicken Breasts

3 chicken breast halves sliced in 1/2 horizontally to make 6 THIN breasts
2 eggs, beaten and mixed with a splash of water to make an eggwash
Bread Crumbs (as needed for coating)
2 tbsp. olive oil

Add oil to large skillet over medium high heat. Spread cheese onto one side of each breast. Roll, starting at smallest end, and secure with toothpicks. Roll each bundle in egg wash and then again in bread crumbs to coat. Place in skillet with hot oil. Cook until chicken is cooked through (about 15-20 minutes total), making sure to turn onto all sides as to cook evenly. Remove toothpicks before serving!

Well, that's all I have time for now! There are plenty more recipes I'd love to share (some with pictures, some without) but they will have to wait until this busy mom has more time. Hope you all love these recipes and it sparks your interest for more to come!

Happy Cooking and Eating!