Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Weekend Post

I felt like popping in for a second even though it's Saturday and I'm not posting a recipe. On Thursday morning, I decided that I wanted to make a heavy Italian meal and showed up to Whole Foods armed with a long list of ingredients. To my surprise, I walked in the doors to find a huge display of heirloom tomatoes on "special." I LOVE heirloom tomatoes and was surprised to see them because I thought they were out of season. But these looked beautiful AND they were on sale. Knowing that they don't usually last long enough to buy and save, I walked on past them until I hit a display of live basil. The smell of basil is absolutely intoxicating to me. I knew that was it and I had to make a Caprese salad for dinner and immediately went to find the fresh mozzarella. My poor shopping list got crumpled up and tossed out. Then, I headed to the bakery to pick out a crusty bread to dip in olive oil to go along with the salad. Yes, I am a carb-fiend and can't seem to go without something a little naughty as part of my meal. This dinner didn't require any cooking but was quite satisfying! We enjoyed it with an Italian wine, Vasco Sassetti Rosso di Montalcino. Ever since our trip to Italy, I've been getting into the Italian wines more and more. Of course in Italy, it is easy to do that since you can order a bottle for the same price you would get a glass here.

Please excuse the mismatched tableware :-).

Thursday, January 27, 2011

I've Got A Secret

I bet you were hoping for something juicy, right? If you are my mother, you were hoping that it was something that might arrive in 9 months? No such luck haha. Sorry, I'm just sharing my recipe for rice bowls. I like to think I am the only person to come up with this combination but I am sure that is not the case. Originally, I was trying to emulate Chipotle's Rice Bowls. This isn't the same but let's just say I think it would give a certain well known restaurant chain a run for their money! This has become part of the regular dinner rotation at my house because it's easy, flavorful, and satisfies my mexican cravings without adding TOO many extra calories.

Burrito Rice Bowls


1 habanero pepper
1 Tbsp Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1 cup of uncooked Basmati Rice
2 cups of water
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
3-4 green onions, sliced
1/2 a lime

Optional Toppings (this is what I use):
Black beans
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped and sauteed
1/2 onion, chopped and sauteed
cheddar cheese, shredded
salsa (My go-to salsa)
extra cilantro
sour cream
fresh avocado
Other ideas: grilled chicken, shrimp, grilled steak, tomato, guacamole, corn, shredded pork


In a medium pot, saute habanero in the evoo on medium heat. Once the pepper is sauteed, add water, rice, and salt.  Boil until most of the water evaporates. Then, simmer and cover about 15 minutes. Take the rice off the stove to cool for about 5 minutes.  Next, toss in cilantro and green onions. Squeeze juice of two lime wedges into mixture and blend lightly.  Lastly, add your favorite toppings!

It doesn't have to be pretty. Here's what mine looked like:

I'm enjoying keeping up with this blog even if I don't know exactly who is out there. You can come out and say hello once in awhile, ya know :-). But this keeps me occupied on evenings like tonight when my husband is on the couch watching Hercules. Yep, I'm totally serious...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Eggplant and Beef Casserole

A family friend, Glen, frequently shares his recipes via email. While I am not technically on the recipient list, my mother always forwards them to me per my request because he definitely has some great ones. From the recipes I've seen so far, I can confidently say that this is a house at which I would like to be a dinner guest for sure! :-) He has been gracious enough to allow me to "borrow" some of them to share on my blog. I just made the following recipe and will share more in the future. The only modification that I made was to use grass-fed ground sirloin instead of the ground chuck. I served it with a Pinot Noir. Also, I apologize for the unappealing picture but I promise it tasted delicious! It's the perfect dish for a potluck!

Eggplant and Beef Casserole (courtesy of Glen)
 Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees

1 large eggplant, peeled and diced (unpeeled works well also)
½ cup oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 lb ground chuck
2 cups diced tomatoes, drained
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup sharp cheese, grated
1 cup seasoned breadcrumbs

In a large skillet, sauté eggplant, onion, pepper, ground meat and garlic in the oil for 20 minutes, stirring frequently.
Drain off any excess liquid.
Add tomatoes, salt and pepper and cook additional 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently until eggplant is soft.
Pour batter into a greased/buttered 2 quart casserole dish.
Cover with the cheese and then cover cheese with the breadcrumbs.
Bake for 20 minutes or until mixture is bubbling.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Soup For A Good Cause

Today I am sharing two soup recipes to support a good cause. Another blogger, Branny Boils Over has generously decided to host a Charity Souper Bowl. For every blogged soup recipe submitted, she will be donating $1 to the ASPCA. You don't have to be a blogger to participate!  I'm sure you have seen the commercials with Sarah McLachlan and all the sad animals. It makes me cry Every.Single.Time.  Since I'm blogging two soup recipes, I'm going to dedicate them to my two fur-babies.

Finnegan & Fargo

Creamy Potato and Asparagus Soup
Originally published in Better Homes and Gardens

1 large bunch asparagus, trimmed
1 and 1/4 lb. potatoes, peeled and chopped (1/2 in pieces)
1 12-oz. can evaporated milk
6 slices bacon
1 Tbsp. honey
Shredded lemon peel, Italian parsley, coarse salt and/or freshly ground pepper (optional)

1. Reserve about 1/3 asparagus. Combine remaining asparagus, the potatoes, evaporated milk, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp black pepper (if you don't like a kick to your soup, use less pepper), and 1 and 1/4 cup water in saucepan. Bring to boiling; reduce heat.   Simmer, covered, 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender.  Cool slightly. In blender or food processor, blend or process soup, half at a time, until smooth.
2. Meanwhile, in skillet, cook bacon until crisp. Drain on paper towels; set aside. Reserve 1 Tbsp of bacon drippings in skillet. Add reserved asparagus. Cook 5 to 6 minutes or until asparagus is crisp-tender., stirring occasionally.  
3. Coarsely chop bacon and place in microwave-safe pie plate. Drizzle with honey; cover with vented plastic wrap. (Skip previous step if using Maple cured bacon to avoid too much sweetness.) Just before serving, microwave bacon 30 seconds. To serve, ladle soup into bowls and top with bacon, asparagus, and desired toppings.

Serves 4.

The following recipe has been passed around in my family a few times and is always delicious. Unfortunately, I did not remember to take a picture of this one. 

Mexican Soup
Originally published in Women's Day Magazine
Serves 4 (6-1/2 cups)
Active: 6 minutes   Total: 26 minutes
2  tsp. oil
1  small onion, chopped
1  large sweet potato (12 oz.) peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2  cans (14-1/2 oz. each) chicken broth
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 can (11 oz.) corn niblets, drained
1 cup mild or medium salsa
1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
1 can (15 oz.) canned black beans, rinsed and drained
Garnish: sour cream and cilantro (optional)
1. Heat oil in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium heat. Saute onion for 3 minutes or until softened and translucent.
2. Add sweet potato, chicken broth and cumin; cover and reduce heat. Simmer 15 minutes or until sweet potato is tender. With immersion blender, process soup until smooth. (If using counter-top blender, cool sweet potato mixture 10 minutes, then blend)
3. Stir in corn salsa, tomato sauce and black beans. Simmer, covered 5 minutes to blend flavors. Serve with sour cream and cilantro, if using.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Cheesy Sour Cream Herb Chicken

Cheesy Chicken is a great weeknight meal because it requires few ingredients and is so simple to make. It also made my house smell wonderful. I served it with pan-fried zucchini.  For whatever reason, I usually have an aversion to cooking chicken at home. Raw chicken grosses me out and I'm not a huge chicken fan altogether. However, this meal passed the test for me. This recipe was passed on to me from an old family friend who knows her way around the kitchen,  Mrs. Lehman. (Thank you!)

Cheesy Sour Cream Herb Chicken

1.5 cups dry herb seasoned stuffing (like Pepperidge Farm)
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup (l/2 stick) melted butter
1/4 cup sour cream
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a bowl, combine stuffing, cheese and butter. Stir well to combine and moisten, breaking up any large stuffing pieces. Transfer to a plate, or pie pan.
Lightly spread sour cream over chicken and coat with stuffing mixture, pressing well to adhere. Place on a lightly oiled, foil lined baking dish. Put any extra mixture on top of the chicken. Bake about 45 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through
I usually just grease a pan and not use the foil. If you are using any more than four pieces of chicken you will have to double the recipe .

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Little Preaching And A Recipe

At some point last year, I decided to change my shopping and eating habits. The biggest changes that I made were buying organic produce, free range chicken/eggs, local grass-fed beef, wild fish, etc. The main goal here is not to support factory farming and instead support the little guys. There are a lot of advantages to doing this some of which are: better tasting food, healthier food, less allergies, less hormones and antibiotics entering your body, greener practices, better labor practices, and more humane treatment of animals (very important to me.) I can hear some of you over there saying "well, it's a lot more expensive to eat that way." Well, if you research how to start eating this way and know where to shop (Whole Foods , Trader Joe's , or your local farmer's markets) you can do it reasonably. Some of these stores sometimes sell the organic products for less than than the regular stuff and also offer coupons.  Another tip: I've found that eating organic is more expensive when you shop at the normal grocery stores rather than the ones that I mentioned. Besides, you will save money on health care when you don't need to go to the doctor as often or need as many pills after you start eating better, right?  Okay, I think that's enough preaching. Are you still reading or did you move on to the next blog? :-) For most of my recipes, I probably won't mention whether or not I used organic products because it's your choice to use what you want. Either way, I hope you will enjoy the recipes that I share!

Chicken Enchilada Pasta as seen in Better Homes and Gardens
8 to 10 servings

1 12-oz. pkg. dried jumbo shells
3 large green and/or red sweet peppers, chopped
1 and 1/2 cups chopped red onion
1 jalapeno chile pepper, seeded and chopped
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 cups chopped cooked chicken (You can usually purchase an already cooked breast/thigh from the hot bar in your grocery store and break it up yourself)
1 16-oz. can refried beans
1/2 of a 1.25-oz. envelope taco seasoning mix (3 Tbsp)
2 10-oz. cans enchilada sauce
1 8-oz. pkg. shredded Mexican-style four-cheese blend
1 cup sliced green onions
2 cups (2 oz.) nacho cheese-flavored tortilla chips, crushed (Doritos work just fine for this!)
Avocado dip and/or sour cream

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Rinse; drain and set aside. 
2. In skillet cook peppers, onion, jalapeno, and 1/4 tsp. salt in hot oil over medium heat 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in chicken, beans, seasoning mix, and 1/2 cup enchilada sauce. Cook and stir 5 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup each of the cheese and green onions. 
3. Divide filling among shells. Spread one cup of the remaining enchilada sauce in 3- quart rectangular baking dish. Arrange shells atop sauce. Drizzle with remaining enchilada sauce.
4. Bake, covered, 30 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake 5 minutes more or until cheese melts. Sprinkle with chips and remaining green onions. Serve with avocado dip/ sour cream.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Comfort Food

It may sound a bit "manly" but I love a good chili. Of course, chili is even better when served with some homemade cornbread. Every time I make chili, I like to do something a little different since there are so many versions out there. What's your favorite chili recipe?

Crock Pot Beef Chili
Servings: about 8 cups

Cooking spray
2 tsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1.5 lbs local grass-fed grd. sirloin
1/4 cup red chili powder
3/4 Tbsp oregano
3/4 Tbsp cumin
1/2 Tbsp paprika
1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2  yellow bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, finely chopped
14 oz. can of diced tomatoes, drained
3 oz. tomato paste
1.5 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 15 oz. cans of red kidney beans


Spray bottom of crock pot. 
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 tsp olive oil,; saute onions and garlic until tender.  Mix in 1/8 tsp of salt and 1/4 tsp of black pepper.  Place in crock pot.

In the same skillet, heat remaining olive oil; cook beef until browned (break up the meat as it cooks.) Stir in remaining salt and pepper, cumin, oregano, paprika, and chili powder. Transfer meat to crock pot. Add chopped peppers and tomatoes. Stir in vinegar and tomato paste.

Cover and cook on Low setting for 6 hours. One hour before serving, turn setting to High and add beans.


Cornbread is traditionally made using a cast iron skillet. Because I don't have one, I use an 8 x 8 inch pan in the oven. I've played around with a recipe that I found in a cookbook but never came out right to my liking. With a few tweaks to the ingredients and measurements, I think I've finally found my formula.

1 and 1/4 cups yellow or white stone-ground cornmeal (I like Bob's Red Mill)
3/4 cup All-Purpose Flour
2 and 1/2 tsp baking powder
4 Tbsp sugar (if you like your cornbread on the sweeter side, use more)
3/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs, beaten
3 Tbsp melted better
1 cup milk


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease pan with butter. Place pan in oven to heat. Mix the first five ingredients at room temperature with a few strokes. Then, whisk in the last three ingredients.  Pour batter into hot pan. Bake for 17 minutes or until nicely browned.


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Neiman Marcus...Not Just For Fabulous Shoes and Clothes

Today I have a sweet tooth so I thought I'd share a cookie recipe. You may have seen this before as part of one of those chain emails that tends to make their way around. I think this is probably a myth but either way, it produces some damn good cookies.

Neiman Marcus Cookies
 (I usually halve this recipe since it makes a TON of cookies)
2 cups butter
24 oz. Chocolate chips
4 cups flour
2 cups brown sugar
2 tsp Soda
1 tsp Salt
2 cups sugar
1 8oz. Hershey bar (grated)
5 cups blended oatmeal
4 eggs
2 tsp Baking powder
2 tsp Vanilla
3 cups chopped nuts

Measure oatmeal, and blend in a blender to a fine powder. Cream the butter and both sugars. Add eggs and vanilla, mix together with flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder, and soda. Add chocolate chips, Hershey bar, and nuts. Roll into balls, and place two inches apart on a cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Definition of Cabin Fever

"Cabin fever is an idiomatic term for a claustrophobic reaction that takes place when a person or group is isolated and/or shut in, in a small space, with nothing to do, for an extended period (as in a simple country vacation cottage during a long rain or snow). Symptoms include restlessness, irritability, irrational frustration with everyday objects, forgetfulness, laughter, excessive sleeping, distrust of anyone they are with, and an urge to go outside even in the rain, snow or dark. " - Wikipedia

I'll leave you with this and maybe just maybe I'll come back with a recipe later. Last night, I made Chicken Cacciatore Risotto. While the flavor and texture were good, It reminded me why I don't normally cook risotto. It takes time and a good amount of patience since it needs constant attention to come out just right! But, I did enjoy a nice inexpensive wine last night, Black Mountain Vineyard 2009 Pinot Noir. Stop looking at me like that, I had to open the bottle because red wine was needed in the risotto.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Cabin Fever

So, it snowed after all. The roads are icy and people haven't really been out and about for the past two days. I know the Northerners are laughing at us now with our "winter storm."  Okay, we don't have 18 inches of snow but we also aren't equipped to care for our roads to make these conditions drivable. Though, the roads weren't too treacherous this afternoon when I ventured out err...saw my neighbors venture out. (Mom, I know you are reading this and I would never go against your advice of staying safe at home.) ;-)

Last night, I decided to open a bottle of wine that I had been saving for almost two years to enjoy on a special occasion.  We reasoned that a snow day was such an occasion. Said bottle of wine was a 2005 Del Dotto 887 Cabernet Sauvignon. This happens to be my favorite Cab. Unfortunately, I think the only place to purchase the wine is at the winery itself in Napa.  If you are ever in Napa and love red wine, you have to do the Del Dotto Cave Tour. Travel sites have dubbed this place "Del Blotto" poking fun at the copious tastes that they provide. The nickname is quite fitting as I practically had to be carried out of those caves (no wonder I had such a great time.) You are told in the beginning that you can taste and then dump the rest of the pour on the floor of the cave. But unfortunately/fortunately for me, all of the wines that I tasted were AMAZING and I just couldn't pour any out. Despite it's reputation for lushes, the tour was very educational and interesting for both newbies and connoisseurs. The wine is pricey and thus I don't have anymore bottles in my wine fridge but I sure did enjoy this one!

To complement my favorite wine, I had to light my favorite candle.  If you have ever walked into an Anthropologie store and wondered "what is that smell?", it's this candle and I love it!

I didn't cook dinner tonight as I am feeling under the weather. Perhaps it is the cabin fever or maybe that we finished off that bottle of wine without remembering to drink any water before bed? Anyways, I wanted to leave you with a recipe before I end my rambling for the evening. This slow cooker dish is a great one to make for dinner guests as it so delicious and makes a good amount of food.

Tangy Slow Cooker Pot Roast


  • 1 boneless beef chuck roast, about 3 to 4 pounds
  • 2 teaspoons Hungarian paprika
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1/2 cup red wine, such as cabernet or pinot noir, or more beef broth
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey or brown sugar
  • 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
  • 1 large onion, quartered, sliced
  • 1 large carrot, cut in 1/2-inch slices
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced


Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Generously sprinkle the roast all over with salt and pepper, then rub the paprika into all sides. Cook the roast for about 5 minutes on each side to brown.
Meanwhile, combine the broth, wine, tomato sauce, vinegar, and honey; set aside. Put the sliced onions, carrots, and garlic in the bottom of a 5 to 7-quart slow cooker.
Remove the roast from the heat and place it on the vegetables in the slow cooker. Pour the broth and wine mixture into the hot skillet and use a spatula to scrape up any browned bits; pour over the roast in the slow cooker.
Cover and cook on HIGH for 1 hour. Reduce to LOW and cook for 7 to 9 hours longer, or leave on HIGH and cook for 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 hours longer. Serve with hot mashed potatoes and green beans or corn for a delicious and satisfying family meal.
Serves 8.

Monday, January 10, 2011

For My Vegetarian Friends

I decided to try out a vegetarian meal because we are trying to decrease our intake of meat at home. However, I can't really say that it was a complete success. I think this meal might be good for someone who is truly a vegetarian and is used to substituting meat. While I thought the flavors were interesting and it made for a filling meal, my husband gave it two thumbs down. Regardless, I wanted to share this recipe for those that might enjoy it and because I would make it again for an audience with a different palate.

Nutty Meatless Loaf (taken from Better Homes and Gardens)
Makes 8 servings

1 1/4 cups dry red or yellow lentils
2 medium carrots, shredded
3/4 cup snipped dried apricots
1 medium onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 1/2 tsp. garam masala
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp . vegetable oil
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
3/4 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
1/2 cup mango chutney
1/4 cup chopped red sweet pepper
1/4 cup chopped peeled fresh mango
cilantro leaves

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In medium saucepan bring 3 cups water and lentils to boiling; reduce heat. Cover; simmer 10 to 15 minutes or until tender. Drain; set aside.
2. In 10-inch skillet cook carrots, apricots, onion, celery, garam masala, and garlic in hot oil over medium hear for 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.
3. In large bowl combine eggs, cooked lentils, carrot mixture, brown rice, 2/3 cup of the nuts, half the chutney, and 1 tsp. salt.
4. Firmly press lentil mixture into a greased 9-or 9.5 inch deep-dish pie plate. Bake uncovered 25 minutes. In small bowl combine remaining chutney with sweet pepper, mango, and remaining nuts.
5. Evenly spoon chutney mixture on loaf.  Bake 10 minutes more or until chutney mixture is heated through. Sprinkle with cilantro leaves. Cut into wedges to serve.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs?

Well, it certainly is cloudy here but I don't think we will see meatballs falling from our sky anytime soon just a few snowflakes or at least that's what the empty grocery store shelves told me.  Tonight, our stomachs were craving some spaghetti and meatballs so I knew what we were making on this cold night as we wait for the snow to start...or not.  Or let's be honest, I really wanted to crack open that Italian wine I just bought at Total Wine and needed a good excuse. If you haven't been to Total Wine, I highly recommend checking it out. It's fabulous...the prices are better than most wine shops and even grocery stores, not to mention they have a great selection. The employees are very helpful if you aren't a wine connoisseur. They also let you create your own beer six packs (the beer selection is great too if you like to try various micro-brews.) In case you are wondering, tonight I had a 2009 Poggio San Pietro Toscana Rosso (under $10!) Yeah, I hadn't heard of it either. But, I must say it suited my tastes just fine. So, here is a recipe for quick and easy meatballs. When trying to make an easy and quick Italian dinner, I buy a jar of sauce and boxed pasta. Other times, I make my own sauce but sometimes it just isn't worth it.

Easy Italian Meatballs Per Due

1/2 lb. ground sirloin (I prefer grass-fed)
1/2 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup chopped curly parsley
1/4 cup Parmesan, grated
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup bread crumbs  (you can use a fork to crumble the bread)
1 egg, beaten
1.5 Tbsp red wine (see, more reason to open a bottle)
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 cup of all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix all of the above ingredients except the last two by hand. Form 2 inch meatballs and dredge in the flour. 
Heat olive oil in large saucepan or skillet over medium heat. Brown the meatballs. 
Place browned meatballs in baking pan and cook in preheated oven for 10 minutes.
Mix meatballs into heated sauce before serving over pasta (with wine of course.)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

When Company Knocks On Your Door...

You better be prepared with a hearty breakfast! Luckily, I had the ingredients and enough time to throw together an easy casserole last night. I apologize for the awful pictures. For now, most food pictures will be taken from an iPhone until I get a better camera and lighting!

Breakfast Casserole 


4 cups of white bread, cubed
1.5 cups of shredded cheddar
10 eggs, beaten
4 cups milk
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1.5 tsp ground mustard
1 cup of chopped vegetables of your choice
1 lb. pork bulk sausage (you can also substitute bacon or ham)

1. Brown meat in saucepan or skillet
2. Grease a 9" x 13" pyrex dish or other baking dish/pan.
3. Place bread cubes along bottom of the pan and spread cheese evenly.
4. In a large bowl, combine eggs, milk and seasonings.
5. Pour contents evenly over bread and cheese.
6. Next, layer meat and veggies. I like to use portabella mushrooms and tomatoes but other ideas include: bell peppers, onions, broccoli, etc.
7. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours.
8. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
9. Bake for one hour uncovered or until casserole is lightly browned.

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Cure For A Cold Winter's Day...Soup!

When the temperatures drop and the sky is gloomy, I love a good soup. You know what I also love? My slow cooker. I highly recommend the Cuisinart 6.5 qt. Slow Cooker if you don't already have one.  I am in love with the fact that I can throw a bunch of things in this huge dish and leave it all day only to come home to a great smelling (and tasting meal.) Most recently, I used it to make this soup which was hearty and delicious.

Potato & Spinach Soup with Gouda

6 cups cubed peeled  Yukon Gold potatoes (about 9)
2 cans (14 oz) vegetable or chicken broth
1/2 cup water
1 small red onion, finely chopped
5 oz. baby spinach
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground red pepper
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2.5 cups shredded smoked Gouda cheese
1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk
1 Tbsp. olive oil
4 garlic cloves, cut into thin slices
Chopped fresh parsley

1. Combine potatoes, broth, water, onion, spinach, salt, red pepper, and black pepper in slow cooker. Cover; cook on Low 10 hours.  My slow cooker only goes up to 8 hours so I had to remember to come back and add 2 additional hours later.
2. Turn slow cooker to High.  Slightly mash potatoes in slow cooker; add 2 cups cheese and evaporated milk. Cover; cook on High 15 to 20 minutes or until cheese is melted.
3. Heat oil in small pan over low heat. Add garlic; cook and stir 2 minutes or until golden brown. Sprinkle soup with garlic, remaining 1/2 cup of cheese, and parsley.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

I'm A Virgin to the Blogging World

Well, I've always said that I would never start a blog because no one cares to hear the random musings of someone who thinks the world wants to hear what they have to say. But, here I am.  As someone who was formerly scared of the kitchen and thought throwing pasta in a pot and adding some sauce from a jar counted as cooking, I understand how daunting it can be to face a cookbook and a drawer full of foreign utensils. I've since made pals with my kitchen and have actually USED all those foreign utensils and gadgets. I am actually starting to ENJOY cooking and baking. While I am starting to become confident that I can make tasty meals, not every recipe is a success. This blog is to help me document my adventures in the kitchen without having to keep a big messy binder of recipes/notes and also to share recipes with others.  Some of these recipes will be borrowed from other bloggers, cookbooks, etc. I will try to give credit where it's due. Bon appetit!

Spicy Pasta with Sweet Potatoes (as seen in Better Homes and Gardens)
Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 4

1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 3/4 inche cubes
1/2 tsp. each of sugar, chili powder, and cinnamon
8 oz. dried rigatoni 
1/3 cup peanut butter
3 oz. cream cheese, cut up
2 tsp. Asian chili sauce (I prefer Sriracha sauce)
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
6 green onions, thinly sliced
optional: shrimp or chicken (I prefer not to add either)

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Oil a rimmed baking pan; set aside. Place sweet potato cubes in a bowl. Toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil, the sugar, chili powder, and cinnamon. Spread in prepared pan; bake 20 minutes or until tender.
2. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta water.
3. In saucepan combine peanut butter, cream cheese, chili sauce, and soy sauce; whisk in 3/4 cup of the hot pasta water.  Stir over medium heat until heated through. If too thick, stir in additional water. Stir in most of the green onions. Servce sauce over pasta with sweet potatoes and remaining onion.  
4. As always, enjoy with wine! Perhaps, a buttery chardonnay