Monday, January 12, 2009

Stuffed Shells

I make these shells in large batches because they freeze and reheat well. In the past I have added soy beef crumbles to this recipe, (1 bag Morning Star Farms)

Stuffed Shells:
My Original Recipe
7 oz spinach
1/4 c diced white onion
1 T garlic
1/2 tsp. white pepper
1 tsp. basil
2 tsp. oregano
2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 T Parmesan cheese
1 T Romano cheese
8 oz mozzarella cheese
1 lb ricotta cheese

28-30 jumbo shells cooked to slightly firmer than al dente
1 jar pasta sauce (or homemade)
extra cheese to top pasta

1. Bring water to a boil
2. Saute onion and garlic
3. Add spinach, basil, oregano, and Italian seasoning, cook thoroughly over medium heat
4. Cook shells to slightly firmer than al dente
5. Transfer cooked spinach to a large mixing bowl
6. Add cheeses to the spinach mixture
7. Stuff shells and place in a lightly greased 13x9 glass pan
8. Cover shells with tomato sauce
9. Top with mozzarella, Parmesan and Romano cheeses
10. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes

Red Roasted Potatoes

Roasted Red Potatoes:
My Original Recipe

1 lb red potatoes (1 inch dice)
1 T diced white onion
1 tsp garlic
1 tsp basil
2 tsp oregano
2 tsp Italian seasoning

1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees (I used our toaster oven)
2. Wash and dry potatoes, dice potatoes into 1 inch cubes and place into a small bowl
3. Add diced onion, garlic, basil, oregano and Italian seasoning
4. Mix potatoes by hand.
5. Spread the potatoes into a single layer onto a greased cookie sheet (I used Pam)
6. Spray the top of the potatoes with Pam (helps with browning)
7. Bake for 25 minutes
8. Broil for additional 2 minutes if not browned to your liking.

3 Servings

Meal Plan: Jan. 11th-17th

Sunday: cheese burgers (veggie for me), red roasted potatoes, and corn
Monday: stuffed shells (Snow crab legs for Dan)
Tuesday: black bean chili
Wednesday: homemade pizza
Thursday: fajitas
Friday: grilled tofu with peanut sauce, white rice and black beans
Saturday: leftovers

Meal Plan: Jan. 5th-9th

Monday night: tacos
Tuesday: Skyline Chili
Wednesday: Chicken, white rice & steamed mixed vegetables
Thursday: Whole wheat pasta with tomato sauce topped with cottage cheese
Friday: leftovers

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Cinnamon Rolls

I halved this recipe and it made 8 rolls (the recipe claims that it makes 12 for the entire recipe). These are by far the best cinnamon rolls, so much better than the type in the can, which in my book makes them worth the effort. Dan loved them, so I know I will be making them again.

Clone of a Cinnabon

1 cup warm milk (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
2 eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup margarine or butter, melted (I used butter)
4 1/2 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup white sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast (also known as fast rising, rapid rising, or instant yeast)
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
Bread Machine Directions:
Place ingredients in the pan of the bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select dough cycle; press Start.
Alternate directions using KitchenAid mixer:
1. Dissolve the yeast in the warmed milk, along with 1 tsp sugar from the 1/2 cup white sugar. Let stand, covered, about 10 minutes, until foamy.
2. In the bowl of your KitchenAid mixer, add the yeast/milk mixture, eggs, melted margarine, 3 cups bread flour, salt, and remaining sugar; mix on medium speed with the flat beater until combined.
3. Switch to the dough hook and start kneading the dough on speed 2.
4. Add 1/2 cup of bread flour at a time, until the dough becomes soft and elastic and no longer sticks to the bowl (approximately 4-1/2 c). This will vary depending on the humidity of your kitchen, but you can definitely start to see when the dough stops sticking to the sides. It will start to follow the dough hook around as it spins and will start flopping around the bowl in a large ball. After you reach a total of 4-1/2 cups, start adding the flour a tablespoon at a time so you don't risk adding too much flour.
5. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl and cover with a damp towel for approximately 1 hour, or until the dough has doubled in size. (Heat your oven to 150°F, turn it off, and then let the dough rise in the warmed oven.
6. After the dough has doubled in size turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, cover and let rest for 10 minutes.
7. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon.
8. Roll dough into a rectangle. Spread dough with 1/3 cup melted butter and sprinkle evenly with sugar/cinnamon mixture.
9. Roll up dough (lengthwise) and cut with a bread knife into 12 rolls (I use fishing line to cut the rolls) (approximately 1-3/4" each, or three finger widths).
10. Place rolls in a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking pan. (If you want to make these the night before, follow the instructions up to this step but then cover and refrigerate your rolls before the second rise. In the morning, take them out of the refrigerate and allow them to rise before baking.)
11. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes.
12. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). (Or bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes.)
12. Bake rolls in preheated oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes.
13. While rolls are baking, beat together cream cheese, 1/4 cup butter, confectioners' sugar, vanilla extract and salt.
14. Spread frosting on warm rolls before serving.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

German Chocolate Cake

I made this cake last summer for my dad's birthday. I attempted to make the coconut pecan icing, but burnt it when I walked away to check, oops. So I had to settle for using store bought icing because I was in a time crunch. Let me know if you want the icing recipe and I can add it to the post.

German Chocolate Cake:

1/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
1/2 cup boiling water
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
2-1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk or sour milk*
Pecan halves(optional)
1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour three 9-inch round baking pans.
2. Stir together cocoa and water in small bowl until smooth; set aside.
Beat butter, sugar and vanilla in large bowl until light and fluffy.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Stir together flour, baking soda and salt;
add to butter mixture alternately with chocolate mixture and buttermilk, beating just enough to blend.
Pour batter into prepared pans.
3. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until top springs back when touched lightly. Cool 5 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks.
Cool completely.
Prepare cocconut icing (or use the premade stuff like I did); spread between layers and over top.
10 to 12 servings.

* To sour milk: Use 1 tablespoon white vinegar plus milk to equal 1 cup.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Cinnamon Apple Muffins

While looking through food pictures to see what else I needed to blog I came across these cinnamon apple muffins that I made back in October for a staff meeting. These muffins are delicious and they freeze very well in an airtight zip lock bag. To defrost, I microwave for about 1 minute with a glass of water to add moisture. Note: These muffins are very dense.

Cinnamon Apple Muffins:
adapted from
4 cups apples, peeled, cored and chopped (I used 4 Gala apples)
4 large eggs, beaten
1 cup applesauce (or canola oil) – (I used applesauce)
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 tsp. pure almond extract
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
6 tsp. butter, room temp.
Preheat oven to 350°.
Lightly grease two muffin pans and set aside (my batch made 30 muffins).
Peel, core and slice the apples.
Cut into good-sized chunks, about 1 inch in size.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs with an electric mixer until fluffy.
Add the applesauce or oil and beat until combined.
Add the vanilla and almond extracts, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
Beat until thoroughly mixed.
Next, add the flour and sugar and mix on low just to blend.
Then turn the mixer to high and beat until mixture is smooth.
Fold in the chopped apples, mixing by hand so the apples do not get too broken up.
Divide the mixture between the two muffin pans.
It is easiest to spoon the batter into the pans.
To prepare the topping, combine flour, sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.
Cut the butter into the mixture with a fork until all ingredients are moist and crumbly.
If you don’t mind a little mess, it is faster to use your hands.
Sprinkle equal amounts of topping on each muffin.
Bake for about 20-25 minutes on the center rack of the oven.
The muffins should feel fairly firm when touched in the middle, or bake an extra 5 minutes.
Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack.
Let cool for 5 minutes before removing from the pans.

Blueberry Muffins

While looking through food pictures to see what else I needed to blog I came across these blueberry muffins that I made back in October for a staff meeting. These muffins are delicious and they freeze very well in an airtight zip lock bag. I had one around Christmas time and they still taste great. To defrost, I microwave for about 1 minute with a glass of water to add moisture.

Blueberry Muffins:
Alton Brown

25 ounces cake flour
2 teaspoon baking soda
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 Heavy pinches salt
2 cup sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
2 cups yogurt (I used plain, and blueberry)
3 cups fresh blueberries
Vegetable spray, for the muffin tins
Preheat oven to 380 degrees F.
In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt and set aside.
In another large bowl, whisk together the sugar, oil, egg and yogurt. Add the dry ingredients reserving 2 tablespoons of the dry ingredients and toss with the blueberries. Stir mixture for a count of 10. Add 2 cups blueberries to mixture and stir 3 more times. Reserve the 1 cup of blueberries.
Using a #20 ice cream scoop, add the mixture to greased muffin pans. Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of berries on top of muffins and press down lightly. Place into the oven and increase the temperature to 400 degrees. Bake for 16 minutes, rotating pan halfway through. Remove from oven and turn out, upside down on tea towel to cool completely. Serve immediately or store in airtight container for 2 to 3 days.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

I have to admit that overall I was disappointed in this macaroni, and I was hoping it would be excellent. In my opinion it has to much onion and not enough cheese. Therefore I am still looking for a go to mac and cheese recipe. Although it tasted much better after spending some time in the refrigerator (made it on a Thursday and had leftovers on Saturday). Oh well, better luck next time.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

(Alton Brown)

1/2 pound elbow macaroni
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon powdered mustard
3 cups milk
1/2 cup yellow onion, finely diced
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 large egg
12 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh black pepper
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup panko bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente.While the pasta is cooking, in a separate pot, melt the butter.
Whisk in the flour and mustard and keep it moving for about five minutes.
Make sure it's free of lumps.
Stir in the milk, onion, bay leaf, and paprika. Simmer for ten minutes and remove the bay leaf. Temper in the egg.
Stir in 3/4 of the cheese.
Season with salt and pepper.
Fold the macaroni into the mix and pour into a 2-quart casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese.Melt the butter in a saute pan and toss the bread crumbs to coat. Top the macaroni with the bread crumbs. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for five minutes before serving.

Butternut Squash Bisque

Yet another recipe that I made for Thanksgiving. For weeks I searched for a butternut squash soup/bisque before I finally found this one. This recipe needs a lot of tweaking to the seasoning, because without it the soup is very bland. I am not sure of the quantity of the spices that I added because Dan and I just threw things in until we decided that it had enough flavor. I plan on making this soup again and will update this post to reflect the extra spices.

Butternut Squash Bisque:
(All Recipes)

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup diced onion
3/4 cup diced carrots
4 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
3 cups vegetable stock
salt and ground black pepper to taste
ground nutmeg to taste
1/2 cup heavy cream (optional)

1. Heat the oil and melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Cook and stir the onion in the butter and oil under tender.
2. Mix the carrots and squash into the pot. Pour in vegetable stock, and season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until vegetables are tender.
3. In a blender or food processor, puree the soup mixture until smooth. Return to the pot, and stir in the heavy cream. Heat through, but do not boil. Serve warm with a dash of nutmeg.
Serves: 4

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

This is by far the best vanilla ice cream ever! Again I made this for Thanksgiving to go along with the apple and blueberry pies. After failing the first two times I used my ice cream attachment for my kitchen aid I was a bit skeptical about trying again. Thankfully this time my ice cream turned out perfectly, creamy ice cream that was also easy to scoop. I was sad to leave this ice cream at my moms, and look forward to making it again.

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
Annie’s Eats
(The Perfect Scoop)

3 cups heavy cream, or 2 cups heavy cream and 1 cup whole milk
¾ cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
¾ tsp. vanilla extract

Pour 1 cup of the cream into a medium saucepan and add the sugar and salt. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the saucepan and add the pod to the pot. Warm over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved.

Remove from the heat and add the remaining 2 cups cream (or cream and milk) and the vanilla extract.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator. When ready to churn, remove the vanilla bean, and then freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Cream of Mushroom Soup

I also made this for Thanksgiving this year (what can I say, I'm a blog slacker). Coming from someone who does not normally like mushrooms this soup is pretty good. I made the soup to replace the cream of mushroom soup (can) that my mom's broccoli casserole calls for. Unfortunately my family does not like change when it comes with there "favorites" therefore if I make this soup again it will only be for myself and Dan. Oh well, at least I tried to get them to eat outside of the box (or in this case, the can).

Cream of Mushroom Soup:

1 pound regular white mushrooms, cleaned, quartered or sliced
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp minced shallots
1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups chicken stock (I used vegetable)
1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 Tbsp water
Minced parsley for garnish

1 In a food processor, coarsely chop mushrooms and lemon juice.
2 Melt butter in (4-5 quart) sauce pan and lightly sauté shallots on medium heat. Add mushrooms, thyme and bay leaf, sauté over moderate heat for 10-15 minutes, or until the liquid that is released from the mushrooms disappears.
3 Add salt, pepper, cream and chicken stock and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
4 Add cornstarch and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Correct seasoning and add more lemon juice to taste.
Serves 4

Garden Garbage Dip

I made this dip for Thanksgiving and again for Christmas eve. My sister raved about it so much that I need to send her the recipe. The only downside to this recipe is that there is a lot of chopping, but it is well worth it. This dip is versatile and can be easily adjusted to suit your taste.

Photo courtesy of Erin (Erin's Food Files:

(I made it put she is a much better photographer than I am.)

(adapted from Pillsbury Halloween Magazine, October 2005)

1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened

1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup finely chopped radishes (about 2 medium)
1/4 cup finely chopped green onions (4 medium) (I omitted)
1/4 cup finely chopped cucumber, drained
1/4 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped carrot (not part of the original recipe)
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dried dill weed (I doubled it, possibly more)
Dash pepper (I used closer to 1/4 tsp)
assorted vegetables and bread for dipping
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Spoon into 1-quart serving bowl.