Thursday, March 31, 2011

Tomato and Mozzarella Pasta Al Forno

I was expecting this dish to be "just another pasta dish", but it was surprisingly SO delicious. Brian, who doesn't normally like pasta, ate it up and went back for seconds. To top it all off, it comes together super fast and incorporates ingredients that most of you will already have on hand.
Tomato and Mozzarella Pasta Al Forno
Recipe from Annie's Eats

2 Tbs. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2- 14 oz. cans diced Italian tomatoes
1 tsp. dried oregano
Salt and pepper, as desired
1 lb. penne pasta
8 oz. mozzarella cheese, cubed
2/3 cup. parmesan cheese

Heat oil in skillet. Add garlic and cook over medium-high heat for one minutes. Add tomatoes and oregano and simmer rapidly, stirring occasionally until thickened, about 15 minutes. Add salt and pepper. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. Toss pasta with sauce. Place half of your pasta in an oiled 9X13 dish. Cover with half parmesan and half mozzarella. Top with remaining pasta, then parmesan and mozzarella. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Spinach Artichoke and Chicken Penne

*Photo courtesy of Itzy's Kitchen Blog

Spectacular new dish!  I loved the flavors in this recipe.  I only used half of the artichoke hearts and to me that was a good balance of flavor.  It was fun to try a recipe with a little different ingredients than my normal go-to's!

Spinach, Artichoke and Chicken Penne

Recipe from Rachael Ray Show


  • 1 pound penne rigate or whole wheat or whole grain penne rigate
  • 3/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, 2 small pieces
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 to 4 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • Black pepper
  • 2 slightly rounded tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup cream or whole milk
  • A few grates of nutmeg
  • 1 cup grated Asiago or provolone cheese
  • 1 10-ounce box chopped frozen spinach, defrosted, wrung dry and separated
  • 1 14-ounce can artichoke hearts in water, drained well and chopped
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Yields: Serves 4


Bring a large pot of water to a boil for pasta. Salt water and cook pasta to al dente.

Meanwhile, poach chicken. Place chicken in small pan and add water to top of meat but do not cover completely. Add bay leaf and bring to a boil, reduce heat and gently simmer to cook through 10-12 minutes. Shred meat into small pieces with forks or dice into small pieces.

While chicken cooks heat EVOO in large, deep sauté pan over medium heat. Melt butter into oil and add onions and garlic, season with salt and pepper and cook 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle flour over cooked onions and garlic and stir 1 minute then whisk in white wine. Add stock and stir 1 minute then stir in cream and season with nutmeg. Thicken sauce a couple of minutes over low heat then stir in spinach and artichokes and heat through, melt Asiago or provolone cheese into sauce and turn off heat.
Drain pasta and toss with sauce and chicken to combine, adjust salt and pepper to your taste. Garnish with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tuscan Garlic Chicken

Pic courtesy of My Kitchen Cafe

I knew I had to make this as soon as I saw it Mel's Kitchen Cafe (formerly My Kitchen Cafe).
Apparently it's a popular dish at Oliver Garden, but I wouldn't know because I always order the Chicken con Broccoli when I go there. Anyway... it was delicious and pretty darn easy too.

Tuscan Garlic Chicken

adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

*Note: if the chicken breasts you are using are overly thick, you can butterfly them, cutting all the way through so you end up with two thinner cuts of chicken breast. Second note: I would say this recipe is right on the edge of just having enough sauce but not an overabundance, so if you like things on the saucier end of the spectrum, feel free to double that part of the recipe.

*Serves 4-6 (depending on if you are serving adults or kids)

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon finely minced garlic (about 4-5 cloves)
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips or chopped
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
6 ounces fresh spinach
1/2 cup milk or heavy cream
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 cup lowfat milk
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 pound fettuccine

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a shallow pie plate or similar dish, combine the flour, salt, pepper, basil and oregano. Dip each chicken piece in the flour mixture until both sides are well coated.

In a large 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat until the oil is hot and shimmering. Carefully place the chicken breasts in the pan, cooking them for 2-3 minutes on each side, until they are golden and browned but not cooked all the way through (they’ll finish up in the oven). Don’t scoot the chicken around once you lay it in the hot oil! Let the oil work it’s magic to sear the crust on the chicken. If you get all antsy and try flipping too early and/or moving the chicken around the pan, the breading is lightly to fall off. Gently remove the chicken to a foil-lined, lightly greased baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Set aside and tent with foil until ready to use.

While the chicken is cooking, heat a large pot of water to a boil and add the noodles, cooking until al dente. Also, wipe out the skillet with a couple paper towels and return it to medium heat, adding the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and bell pepper, sauteing for 2-3 minutes.

Stir in one tablespoon flour and stir constantly while cooking for another minute. Add the chicken broth to the skillet and bring the mixture to a low simmer, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, about 3-4 minutes. In a small liquid measure, whisk together the cornstarch and cream. Add the spinach, milk and cream mixture to the skillet. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the spinach is wilted and sauce is slightly thickened, about 2-4 minutes. Stir in the Parmesan cheese.

When the pasta has finished cooking, drain and return it to the pot. Toss the pasta with half of the cheese sauce. Place some of the coated pasta on each plate. Top with a breaded chicken breast and spoon some of the sauce over the top of the chicken and pasta. Serve immediately.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Lion House Dinner Rolls with Honey Butter

*Photo courtesy of Real Mom Kitchen blog

These really taste so much like the real thing-right down to the way you shape them!  I finally succeeded at a roll recipe!

Lion House Dinner Rolls with Honey Butter  

Recipe from Real Mom Kitchen

Lion House Dinner Rolls
2 cups warm water (110 to 115 degrees)
2/3 cup nonfat dry milk (instant or non-instant)
2 tablespoons dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup butter, shortening, or margarine (I use canola oil)
1 egg
5 to 6 cups all-purpose flour, or bread flour
In large bowl or electric mixer, combine water and yeast; let sit 5 minutes. Add dry milk yeast, then sugar, salt, butter, egg, and 2 cups flour. Mix on low speed until ingredients are wet, then for 2 minutes at medium speed. Add 2 cups flour; mix on low speed until ingredients are wet, then for 2 minutes at medium speed. (Dough will be getting stiff and remaining flour may need to be mixed in by hand). Add about ½ cup flour and mix again, by hand or mixer. Dough should be soft, not overly sticky, and not stiff (It is not necessary to use the entire amount of flour).
Scrape dough off sides of bowl and pour about one tablespoon of vegetable oil all around sides of bowl. Turn dough over in bowl so it is covered with oil. (This helps prevent dough from drying out). Cover with plastic and allow to rise in warm place until double in size, about 45 minutes.
Scrape dough out onto floured board. Divide dough into two. Turn dough over so it is floured on both sides; gently flatten to about 1 inch thick. With rolling pin, roll out to a rectangle about 12 inches long, 8 inches wide, and ¼ inch thick. Brush with melted butter. With pizza cutter or very sharp knife, cut dough in half to make two strips about 4 inches wide. Make cuts through strips of dough every 2 inches, making about 12 pieces of dough.
Starting with short end, roll up one piece of dough, with butter on the inside. Place roll on parchment-lined pan with other short end down on the paper (I just use a greased pan). Repeat with remaining pieces of dough. Be sure all rolls face the same direction on baking pan. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and allow to rise until double in size, about 1 to 1 ½ hours. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, or until light to medium golden brown. Brush tops of rolls with melted butter. Makes 2 dozen rolls.
Helpful Tips for Making Rolls
Always add flour gradually and keep dough as soft as you can handle. A soft dough will produce a lighter roll.
It is not necessary to use the entire amount of flour called for in the recipe—add only enough flour to make dough manageable.
To shorten dough’s rising time, use one of these methods:
1) When dough is thoroughly mixed, oil bowl and cover dough with plastic wrap. Fill sink or larger bowl with about 2 inches of hot water or enough water to come about half or three-fourths the way up outside the dough bowl. Place bowl of dough in bowl of water and allow to rise until double in size.
2) Just before mixing dough, turn oven on lowest possible temperature. Place a pan of hot water on bottom oven rack. When dough is thoroughly mixed, place in oiled bowl. Cover dough with plastic wrap; place in oven. Turn oven off, shut oven door, and allow dough to rise until double in size, about 50 to 60 minutes. Shape or cut into desired rolls. Place rolls on greased or parchment-lined pans and allow to rise until double in size. Bake according to recipe.
Brush top of rolls with butter when first taken from oven.

Honey Butter

½ cup butter, softened
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ cup honey
Whip softened butter until light and fluffy (this is the trick). Add vanilla and honey gradually. Beat for 20 minutes (I just beat til light and fluffy) . Makes 1 cup.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Texas Shepherd's Pie

Potatoes + Cheese + Meat = Comfort Food. Sometimes you just need some, right? :) Add some veggies and spices to the mix and you've got a great meal. We don't eat a lot of ground beef in our family, but when I saw this recipe, I knew we had to make it, and I'm sure glad we did. It was so delicious.
Texas Shepherd's Pie
Adapted from Evil Shenanigans

6 small Red potatoes (or 2 Russett), diced into 1/2-in. pieces
1 Tbs. butter, softened
1/2 cup milk (I used skim with great results)
1 1/3 cup shredded pepperjack cheese, divided
1 1/2 tsp. salt, divided
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 lb. ground beef
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup frozen corn
1 can diced tomatoes (or 1 c. chopped fresh)

Heat oven to 350 degrees and spray baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Boil potatoes until they are fork tender. Drain and cream with butter and milk until smooth, creamy consistency. Add more milk if needed. Add 1/2 tsp. salt and 1 cup of cheese, mix well. Set aside. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and 1 tsp. salt. Once onions are softened (about 5 minutes), add garlic and remaining spices. Stir until fragrant, about one minute. Add the ground beef and stir until well-browned. Add in the black beans and corn and cook until the corn is heated through. Add tomatoes and then transfer to baking dish. Spread remaining cheese on top of meat mixture. Then spread potatoes on top (I had to use my fingers b/c the potatoes were pretty sticky). Bake about 35 minutes, until juices are boiling. Broil for 3-5 minutes until potatoes are browned to desire. Allow the casserole to rest 5-10 minutes before eating.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies

A couple weeks ago, I was wasting time on and came across a new (to me) peanut butter cookie recipe. To be honest, I don't know how I've missed this in my previous searches, because it's the top rated peanut butter cookie recipe. So, even though I thought I had found THE one and only peanut butter oatmeal cookie recipe for me, I decided to give this one a go. And, wow, am I glad I did. Because, let me tell you, it blows my other one out of the water. They were the moistest, chewiest, most flavorful cookies I've ever had. I'm telling you- you MUST make these.

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies
adapted from

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1 cup peanut butter
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cup flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
12- 16 oz chocolate chips (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a large bowl, cream together butter, brown sugar, white sugar, and peanut butter until smooth. Beat in the vanilla and add eggs one at a time until well blended. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; stir into the creamed mixture. Mix in the oats (and chocolate chips, if desired) until just combined. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
  3. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until just light brown. Don't over-bake. Cool and store in an airtight container.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Chicken Frito Pie

*Photo courtesy of Parade Magazine

Weird, right?  The flavor in this dish was excellent.  Admittedly, the leftovers weren't that great because the chips got soggy, but I loved the first night!

Chicken Frito Pie

Recipe from Parade Magazine
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1½ lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1½-inch pieces
1 yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
1 Tbsp chili powder
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 (7 oz) can chopped fire-roasted green chiles
2 (15 oz) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2½ cups Fritos (half a 9¼ oz bag)
2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large heavy-bottomed pot, heat oil over medium high. Season chicken with salt and pepper, then brown on both sides for a total of 6 minutes. Remove to a plate.

2. To make chili, add onion, garlic, and chili powder to pot, stirring; sauté until tender, 4 minutes. Return chicken to pot; stir in broth, green chiles, and beans.

3. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer, and cook for 30 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

4. Add 1½ cups Fritos to a 2-quart casserole. Top with chili, remaining Fritos, and cheese. Bake 15 minutes. Serve with cilantro, avocado, and sour cream, if desired.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Holly's Salsa

Nope, not that kind! haha

As for my debut to this blog I was waiting for something to inspire me and this recipe definitely does. I grew up loving this salsa my best friends mom made every summer and finally got the recipe from her this summer as part of our wedding present. I think its the perfect mix between watery and chunky salsa and has a splendid mix of flavors. It's simple too :)

2 qts tomatoes pureed (she uses the ones she bottles from her garden- fancy)
3-4 fresh tomatoes- chopped/food processor
red, green, orange and yellow bell peppers 1 of each- chopped/food processor
1/3 of medium red onion chopped fine
2/3 of a bunch cilantro chopped
3 avocados chopped into chunks
1 can of Ortega whole green chilis chopped
2 tbsp of jalapenos (ortega diced) - add more if you like it spicy
juice of 2 limes
salt and pepper to taste

makes 4 quarts approximately


Orange Dreamsicle Jello Cake


*Photo courtesy of Tidy Mom Blog

Just because it looks funky doesn't mean it doesn't taste amazing!

Orange Dreamsicle Jello Cake 

From TidyMom Blog

1 prepared White Cake Mix
1 large box of Orange Jello
Cool Whip


1. Bake cake according to directions on the box, using a 9x13 cake pan.

2. After cake cools, Poke holes in the cake with a fork. Holes should not go all the way through cake to the bottom of the pan. The entire cake should be perforated this way with holes every 1/2 - 3/4 inch.

3. Mix Jello packet with 2 cups of boiling water in large bowl. (do not chill jello)

4. Pour Jello over cake allowing it to seep into holes.

5. Place the cake in the refrigerator at least 3-4 hours before serving.

6. Top each piece with cool whip when serving.

(keep cake refrigerated)

*I often make this cake with sugar free jello and top with light Cool Whip - for a more "diet friendly" version

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Bean and Tortellini Soup

*Photo courtesy of Our Family Treat Blog

I liked this soup just for something different than the normal soup we make.  I used spinach instead of kale and bacon instead of pancetta.  That's how we cheap people function. It has a very "italiano" flavor.

Bean and Tortellini Soup  

From Our Family Treat Blog

Serves 6

Olive Oil
4-6 ounces Pancetta, chopped
1 Onion, diced
6-8 Baby Carrots, shredded
1 Garlic Clove, minced
3 cups Kale, chopped
1 can Cannellini Beans (any white bean will do), rinsed and drain
3 cans Chicken Broth
1 (9 ounce) package Cheese Ravioli
salt and pepper to taste

In a large stock pot heat olive oil. Then add pancetta, onion, carrots and garlic. Cook until pancetta is fully cooked. Add chicken broth, beans and kale. Turn heat up, and wait for a boil. Then reduce and add ravioli and cook until tender. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Ham and Cheese Cannelloni

*Photo courtesy of

This is my new favorite go-to meal!  You must make these with egg roll wraps.  They are so thin and yummy!  This is a great freezer meal and also an easy delicious meal to take to a family in need.  Super, super easy too!

Ham and Cheese Cannelloni

Recipe from Every Day with Rachael Ray

  • Servings: 4
  • Cook Time: 20 Minutes
  • Prep Time: 15 Minutes


  • 1 jar (15 oz.) Classico®  Light Creamy Alfredo Pasta Sauce
  • 1 cup(s) whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup(s) shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 8 egg-roll wrappers (available in refrigerated section)
  • 8 slices deli ham
  • 1 cup(s) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Convert to metric


1. Preheat the oven to 400°. In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta and mozzarella and the egg.

3. Reserve ¾ cup of the alfredo and spread the remaining sauce in the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Arrange an egg-roll wrapper on a work surface. Spread 3 tablespoons of the ricotta mixture over the wrapper, cover with a slice of ham, then roll up to form a log, jelly-roll style. Repeat with the remaining wrappers and place the cannelloni, seam side down, in a single layer in the baking dish.

4. Spoon the reserved cream sauce over the cannelloni, top with the Parmigiano-Reggiano and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbly.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Oven-Roasted Vegetables

This is a simple recipe and I'm sure you already know about it, but I loved the garlic-to-veggie combination on this one, so I'm putting it up so I can refer to it often. Its really easy, very delicious, and extremely healthy. You can roast whichever veggies you prefer.
image courtesy
Oven- Roasted Vegetables
Adapted from

2 Tbs. minced garlic
3 Tbs. Olive Oil
Cauliflower, divided into florets
Broccoli, divided into florets
Carrots, diced into 2 inch pieces
Salt, to taste
1/3 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 450 degrees and grease a 9X13 casserole dish. Place garlic and olive oil into a plastic ziploc bag. Toss with chopped vegetables until coated. Pour vegetables into dish and top with salt (and pepper, if desired). Bake for 20-25 minutes, or according to desired tenderness. Toss vegetables halfway through cooking time! Top with parmesan cheese for last 5 minutes of cooking. Adjust cooking time and dish size according to amount of vegetables being used. Enjoy!