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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Creamed Spinach Ravioli

Ok, so if you happen to follow me on Facebook, this is the meal I was referring to when Gab said this was "Queasy". Her word for Quick and Easy. And even though no food should EVER be called Queasy without the connotation of feeling ill, it really was quick and easy to put together. I made it on a night where it's my turn to pick up my older daughter, Rachael from practice. When planning dinners on these nights, it has to be something that can be ready in 30 minutes or less or we just won't eat until 8pm. For the spinach, I used a prepared frozen spinach by Seabrook Farms. It comes in a boil in bag so all you have to do is boil it and let it simmer until it has defrosted. I prefer the flavor of their version better than some of the others that I have tried in the market. Simply serve this with a tossed salad and dinner is served!

Creamed Spinach Ravioli
1-16 oz. pkg. Frozen Creamed Spinach
3-13oz. pkg. Mini Cheese Ravioli
4 oz. Low Fat Cream Cheese
1 Plum Tomato, diced
1 tsp. Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt
1/4 tsp. Fresh Ground Black Pepper
Grated Pecorino Romano Cheese, as desired

Prepare your ravioli according to package directions and drain water; set aside if it ready before your sauce (but usually will take the same amount of time). Next, prepare your spinach according to package directions, drain water, cut open the spinach bag and pour back into the saucepan. Add the chopped tomatoes, cream cheese, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Mix well until all of the cheese has melted and the sauce is creamy. Add the cooked ravioli back into the pot and add the spinach sauce. Mix well and garnish with grated cheese. Serves 6. 


Friday, October 28, 2011

Chick Pea, Pumpkin & Cilantro Fritters

I know...I was even second guessing this one myself. But, they were INCREDIBLE if I don't say so myself (plus I had a few of my guinea pigs, uh I mean friends, try them out for me as well!). I had stopped at the store the other day to pick up some cilantro and all the store had was this HUGE bunch of it. Now I love it, but don't use it that often. This was also the day that I had to wait in line for 15 minutes at the check out counter to pay for said cilantro because apparently two cashiers didn't know they had to come in to work the earlier shift...gotta love it! Thank goodness for my smartphone, I don't know what I did without one..hours and hours of entertainment at our fingertips. So after getting it home to use in another recipe I was making, I rinsed it off well, drained it on some paper towels, removed the stems, put it in a large resealable plastic bag and then put it in the freezer for later use. (Hint: You can do this with most fresh herbs. It just doesn't look pretty as a garnish once defrosted but it's perfectly fine to use in your recipes.) 

Anyhow, I was in my kitchen thinking about what I could also use this cilantro with when I noticed two things. 1. I can't wait to remodel my kitchen because I must have the smallest darn pantry on Earth (seriously, it's a closet with 2 shelves allotted for dry/canned food and the rest baskets and dog wonder I'm always at the grocery store!) and 2. I saw some canned chick peas and pumpkin peeking out from one of the shelves. I hadn't made any fritters in a while and thought "weird combo" but I think I'll give it a shot. Now, I'm not by any means a vegetarian, but I could definitely get used to it with meals like this. YUM!

Chick Pea, Pumpkin & Cilantro Fritters
1-15oz. Can Pumpkin Puree (I used Libby's)
1-15oz. Can Chick Peas, rinsed under cold water
2 tbsp. Fresh Cilantro, chopped
1 tbsp. Red Onion, minced
1 Lime, zest and juice
1 Clove Garlic, minced
1 c. Self-Rising Flour
1/4 tsp. Fresh Ground Black Pepper
Kosher Salt, to taste
Canola Oil, for frying

In a bowl, mix together the chick peas, pumpkin, cilantro, onion, lime zest & juice, garlic, flour and pepper until well blended. Heat about 1/2" oil in a large frying pan and add a kitchen tablespoon full of mixture to the oil. Flatten slightly and fry on each side 2-3 minutes until browned. Drain on paper towels or brown paper bags to remove the excess oil and serve hot. Makes 12 fritters. 


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Spinach & Garlic Herb Cheese Stuffed Pork Chops

First, I want to thank you for your wonderful comments on the Giveaway Entries so far this week. Don't forget~you have until Sunday to enter if you haven't already. :)

This past weekend, I attended an adult Halloween party. I really don't like dressing up, (it's not really my thing) but I found a Queen of Hearts costume and purchased a Mad Hatter's Hat for the hubby to go as. After hosting a birthday breakfast for my father in law, pulling weeds, blowing leaves and installing new molding, the hubby was in no way going to wear this hat (it had orange hair sticking out of the back of it), so I had to go it alone. I asked the host what I could bring and she had commented recently on my Facebook page that she wanted to try the Garlic & Herb Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms and since they are soooo easy to make, I made those. But, I had some leftover Alouette® cheese. 

My nine year old is finally starting to get her culinary creative juices flowing (amazing since she would only eat Chicken Dino's 6 months ago!) because she actually had this conversation with me: 
Gab:"Mom, what are you making with those pork chops?"
Me: "I'm not sure yet, why?"
Gab: "I think you should use that leftover cheese from when you made the mushrooms in them."
Me: "Great idea Gab!"
Gab: "I also want spinach so can you throw some of that in there too?"
Me: "Absolutely!" 

And....dinner was decided! It's kind of nice to have some help every now and then when your mind is running in 20 different directions isn't it? These pork chops were juicy, delicious and so easy to prepare (bonus!). 

Spinach  & Garlic Herb Stuffed Cheese Pork Chops
4 Center Cut Pork Chops
1-10oz. Package Frozen Chopped Spinach, defrosted and drained
4 tbsp. Alouette® Light Garlic & Herb Spreadable Cheese (you can use the regular one also)
1 c. Flour
Egg Wash (2 Eggs + 1/4 c. 2% Milk)
Panko Breadcrumbs + 1 tbsp. Parsley + 1 tbsp. Garlic Powder
Cooking Spray(I use Canola Oil)

Trim any visible fat from the meat and horizontally, make a slice in center of the pork chop; careful not to cut all the way through. Spread 1 tbsp. of the cheese into each pork chop, then divide the spinach into four and put each portion on top of the cheese; stuffing it in to the open slit. Next, dip your meat into the flour, then into the egg wash, then into the breadcrumb mixture. Place a rack on a baking sheet and add your breaded pork chops. Spray with cooking spray and bake at 350°F for approximately 35-40 minutes (depending on the thickness of your pork chops). Serves 4. 

And, if you're stuck for some costume ideas, here's some of my crazy, fun loving friends and their great ideas!

Hansel & Gretel
Cruella de Ville

Tiger Woods & Elin

Self Explanatory..I hope!

Smurfette..but we thought it could also work as Violet from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory :)

Just some of the girls with the host


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Basil Corn Chowder

A few weeks ago, while leaving from a football game, my girlfriends husband was asking what new things I had been making and he asked if I ever made a corn chowder. I said I hadn't in a long while but that did sound good...and then my over 40 brain kicked in and I completely forgot about it. Until, last week that is when I finally remembered and had some heavy cream left and figured I'd make a batch. This time, I added a bit of fresh basil to it and it gave it such a nice flavor. I also tend to use milk and heavy cream together to lighten it up a bit and then just thicken with cornstarch and water. 

Basil Corn Chowder
1 tbsp. Fresh Basil, chopped
1 tbsp. Red Onion, minced
1 tbsp. Butter
2 tbsp. Flour
4 c. Low-Sodium Chicken Broth
1 c. Water
2 Russet Potatoes, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
1/2 c. Heavy Cream
1/2 c. 2% Milk
2 c. Corn (I used the frozen variety but would also taste good with any leftover corn on the cob)
2 tbsp. Corn Starch + 2 tbsp. Cold Water
Kosher Salt, to taste
Fresh Ground Pepper, to taste

In a saucepan, heat butter. Add onion and basil and stir for 1-2 minutes. Add the flour forming a roux. Gradually add the chicken broth until the soup starts to thicken and the roux has mixed with the broth. Then add the remaining broth and water. Bring to a boil then add the potatoes and let simmer for 30 minutes. In a separate small saucepan, heat the heavy cream and milk. Add it to the soup along with the corn and let simmer for another 15 minutes. Thicken as needed with cornstarch and water mixture. Makes 6 cups. 


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

200 Facebook Fans Giveaway!

YEAH...I've reached 200 Facebook Fans!! I am so humbled and grateful for the amount of new friends I have found through Facebook since I started this blog back in late April. So, THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart! 

In honor of reaching 200 Fans, I will be giving away an Acacia Serving Tray with Dip Bowls by the Food Network's Bobby Flay collection. I thought with the holidays coming, who couldn't use a nice new tray to entertain our guests? It includes a natural acacia board with microwave and dishwasher safe bowls in three colors: green, blue and yellow. 

Here is what you have to do. 
1. Name a recipe on my site that I have posted that you have either made yourself or one that you would like to try to make in the future. 
2. Post in the comment section below.
3. Don't forget to include your email address if you comment as 'Anonymous'.

That's it!

If you're not a Fan on Facebook yet, you can find me at Facebook/Carrie's Experimental Kitchen. Or if you are a Fan on Facebook and haven't Followed My Blog, you can do so through Google Connect or Follow By Email, where you will receive email updates anytime I add a new post. Both links can be found on the top left of this page. 

This giveaway will end on Sunday, October 30, 2011 at 5 pm EST.  The winner will be chosen by and will be contacted by email. Please respond within 48 hours or a new winner will be chosen. 


*I have not received any monetary compensation for this product mention nor is it sponsored or endorsed by Bobby Flay, The Food Network or Facebook.  I have purchased these products on my own. 

Sun Dried Tomato Turkey Meatloaf

See, you had to know this was coming after I made the Oven Dried Sun Dried Tomatoes didn't you? :)  I just love the flavor of them mixed with basil and of course, mushrooms...I tend to use mushrooms in everything! This meatloaf was so delicious and flavorful. I've said it before, but I really prefer to use the 99% Fat Free Ground Turkey. It is much lighter in color and doesn't have that "gamey" taste like the 93% sometimes does. This meatloaf was so good and full of flavor. 

Sun Dried Tomato Turkey Meatloaf
1 lb. 99% Fat Free Ground Turkey
4 White Mushrooms, sliced
1 tbsp. Red Onion, minced
1 Clove Garlic, minced
1 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 c. Sun Dried Tomatoes(in oil), chopped 
(I used the homemade version but store bought is also fine)
2 tbsp. Fresh Basil, chopped
1/4 c. Pecorino Romano Cheese, grated

In a small frying pan, heat oil and add mushrooms, onion and garlic. Sauté for a few minutes until the mushrooms soften. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. In a bowl, add your turkey basil, cheese and mushroom mixture. Mix well until all ingredients have been incorporated.  Form into a rectangular shape, place in an oven safe dish and bake 350°F for approximately 1 hour or until internal temperature of 170°F. Serves 6.

Nutrition Facts per Serving
Calories 140, Carbs 2.7g, Fat 5.7g, Protein 19.4g, Fiber .8g, Sugar 1.5g
*Calculations based on ingredients entered into Calorie Count and may not be 100% accurate. 


Monday, October 24, 2011

How to Make Oven Dried Sun Dried Tomatoes

I wanted to make a sun dried tomato pesto myself but realized I ran out of the store bought variety I usually buy. I then remembered that my Mother in Law had given me some plum tomatoes last week from her garden that weren't fully ripened at the time so I bought some more at the store. Now, I had this abundance of ripe tomatoes and wasn't sure what to do with them. Did you ever wonder how to make sun dried tomatoes yourself, without having to wait days for them to dry out in the sun? Well, now you can and they're so simple!  

Line them on a foil lined sheet pan, drizzled them with a little Extra Virgin Olive Oil and some Kosher Salt and baked them in a 300 degree oven for 2 1/2 hours. 

Once done, simply store them in an airtight container, cover with olive oil and refrigerate.

Once you've used them, don't discard the oil! Use it as a base for salad dressings, for sautéing vegetables or even as a dip for hot bread. 


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Chorizo, Peas and Colby Jack Risotto

I was at a loss for dinner ideas the other night when I made this. My head was reeling from complete multi-tasking with house projects, decorating decisions and calendar synchronization that when I realized I hadn't taken anything out for dinner, it was already 4pm. I had purchased some Chorizo last week but never did anything with it and figured, I'd use that to make a one-pot dish for dinner. This recipe started out without the peas, but as I looked at it in the pan, it looked a little bland and needed some color. So I threw in some peas and it gave this dish that little something extra that it was missing. Now, I'm not a huge fan of peas, so I gave myself some before I added them in. I don't know, it's just one vegetable I can't get used to no matter how hard I try. I remember when my kids were babies and just trying out all sorts of vegetables; peas were both of their favorites. They used to try to get me to eat them by sticking them in my mouth, and being the type of parent that likes to try to set a good example, I would eat them with a smile on my face (while my body was secretly cringing on the inside). Anyway, this was good but very heavy...a little goes a long way.

Chorizo, Peas and Colby Jack Risotto
3oz. Chorizo, chopped fine
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 tsp. Fresh Rosemary, chopped
1 tbsp. Canola Oil
2 c. Arborio Rice
1 tbsp. Butter
4 c. Low-Sodium Chicken Broth
2 c. Water
1 c. Reduced Fat Shredded Colby Jack Cheese
1 c. Peas (I used frozen and defrosted them first)

In a large, non-stick pan heat oil and add the chorizo, garlic and rosemary. Saute for 5 minutes, then remove and set aside. In the same pan, add the rice and saute for 2-3 minutes. Gradually add one cup of chicken broth at a time, letting it absorb into the rice before each new addition. Next, add the water. When the water has almost absorbed, add back in the chorizo mixture, peas, cheese and butter. Mix well until the liquid has absorbed and it's creamy. Serves 4 for a main meal and 6-8 as a side dish.


Friday, October 21, 2011

Italian Matzo Ball Soup

Growing up in NJ, I'm proud to say that we are the Diner Capital of the World. Don't take my word for it, apparently we are according to, even before Guy Fieri started that Diners and Drive-In's show. To me, diners and Matzo Ball Soup go hand in hand...that and greasy cheeseburgers and fries at 3am back in my mid-twenties, but I digress...There's nothing better than going to a diner and ordering Matzo Ball Soup and a Grilled Cheese Sandwich on a rainy day. It was always one of those soups I never even tried to make at home. Usually, when ordering out, it is made with a clear broth and the matzo balls. Then one day, a few years ago, I found the mix in my local grocery store. I'm sure it was there the entire time, but since I don't practice the Jewish religion, I rarely go down that particular isle. I figured I could do it myself, how hard could it be right? It was SO easy. I just prepare the mix with the eggs and oil but I also add in a little fresh rosemary and Pecorino Romano cheese as well as some carrots and celery to the broth. It's delicious and filling and goes well by itself or accompanied with a salad or sandwich. I tend to make the Matzo balls a little smaller as they do "plump up" and it's just easier to eat.

Italian Matzo Ball Soup
1 tbsp. Canola Oil
1 Stalk Celery, finely diced
1 Carrot, peeled and finely diced
6 c. Low-Sodium Chicken Broth
4 c. Water
Kosher Salt, to taste
Fresh Ground Pepper, to taste
Prepared Matzo Balls

In a large saucepan, heat oil and add celery and carrots. Saute for 5 minutes, them add chicken broth and water. Bring to a boil then let simmer for 30 minutes. Add the prepared Matzo balls and let simmer for another 15-20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Makes 10 cups.

For the Matzo Balls
1 Package Matzo Ball Mix (I use Manischewitz)
2 Eggs
2 tbsp. Canola Oil
1 tsp. Fresh Rosemary, finely chopped
1 tbsp. Pecorino Romano Cheese, grated

Mix all ingredients together then refrigerate for 15 minutes. Form approximately 2 dz. 1" balls.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Chicken in a Lemon Thyme Sauce with Lemon & Thyme Roasted Broccoli

I was in the mood for lemons the other night, so our dinner consisted of a lemon theme. It was also a night where it was my turn to pick up my daughter and her friend from practice and I started to get what I could prepared ahead of time so that we didn't eat dinner too late. I prepared the sauce for the chicken, which worked out well so that it had some time to cool off before I added it to the uncooked chicken. Then I had a brain lapse and put the broccoli in the oven, with it on, and ran out to go get my daughter. I got about 2 miles down the road when I realized what I did and had to turn around and come back home to turn off the oven. Now it wouldn't be a problem if she was close by, but it's about a 45 minute round trip venture by the time they actually get out of practice (they're never on time) and I do my drop offs. Anyway, crisis averted but I'm not sure exactly the amount of time it took to actually cook the broccoli so I guestimated below but you can tell when it's done by sticking a fork in it. It should be tender but not mushy.

Chicken in a Lemon Thyme Sauce
4 Boneless Chicken Breasts
1/2 c. Dry White Wine (I used Chardonnay)
1 tbsp. Fresh Thyme, removed from stem
Zest from 1/2 Lemon
2 tbsp. Butter
1 tbsp. All-Purpose Flour
1/2 c. Low-Sodium Chicken Broth

In a small saucepan, melt the butter and add the thyme and lemon zest. Add in the flour, forming a roux then deglaze the pan with the wine until it starts to thicken. Add in the chicken broth and let simmer for 5 minutes. Let cool slightly. Add the chicken to an oven safe baking dish, pour the sauce over the chicken and bake at 350°F for approximately 40 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165° (total cooking time depends on the thickness of your chicken). Serves 4. 

If you're not sure how to clean broccoli, I found this video explaining how to do so here. (There's a video for everything now! lol)

Lemon & Thyme Roasted Broccoli
2 Small Heads Fresh Broccoli (or 1 large)
Zest and Juice from 1/2 Lemon
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 tbsp. Fresh Thyme, removed from stem
1/4 c. Canola Oil
2 tbsp. Pecorino Romano Cheese, grated
1/4 c. Italian Flavored Breadcrumbs

Clean broccoli and add to a bowl. Next, add the lemon zest and juice, garlic, thyme, oil and grated cheese. Mix well and add it to the broccoli until it is well combined. Put the broccoli mixture into an oven safe baking dish and sprinkle with some breadcrumbs (you can leave this part off if you don't want it but it was the only way my young one would eat it). Bake at 350°F for approximately 20 minutes, until the broccoli is fork tender. Serves 4. 


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Buttermilk Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Brown Butter & Sage

I really like sweet potatoes but I never used to. I guess my taste buds are changing as I get older because they have such a nice flavor and I actually prefer them over regular potatoes now. I had some buttermilk left from when I made the Red Velvet Cake on Sunday and I didn't want it to go to waste so I used that in place of the milk to mash these potatoes. 

I am also a popcorn fanatic and tend to eat it at least 3 times a week for my evening snack, but I don't like the microwave kind. I prefer the old fashioned method of cooking it on top of the stove in a pot with a little bit of Canola oil. Then, this is the best part, I brown the butter so it gets a nutty flavor and drizzle that on my popcorn. I even have  a special bowl that's just for popcorn. It is a 1970 something rust colored Tupperware plastic bowl. (It looks pretty good for being over 30+ years old, don't you think?! lol) It was my Mom's and when I went off to college, the bowl followed me. It has a few burn marks in it and the outside rim is cracked, but it will and always be known as "The Popcorn Bowl". My oldest daughter is already laying claim to it and fights me for it whenever we make our snack(I got her hooked on it too). She only has 2 more years until she's off to college and has already informed me that this bowl is coming with her...we'll just have to see about that now won't we! :)

Anyway, back to the sweet potatoes. So the browned butter made me think of how good that nuttiness would taste in these sweet potatoes and it was. I melted the butter, then let it simmer until it started to foam and turn slightly brown, careful not to burn it. Then add the chopped sage and buttermilk so that it is slightly heated before you add it to the cooked potatoes so that it doesn't curdle. These were delicious and the family loved them!

Buttermilk Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Brown Butter & Sage
2 Large Sweet Potatoes, peeled and cut into 1" chunks
1/2 c. Low Fat Buttermilk
4 tbsp. Butter
1 tbsp. Fresh Sage, chopped
1 tbsp. Light Brown Sugar
Kosher Salt, to taste
Fresh Ground Black Pepper, to taste

Add potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are fork tender. Drain water. While the potatoes are cooking, melt butter in a small saucepan until it starts to foam and turn light brown (it will also start to smell nutty). Add the sage, brown sugar and buttermilk and simmer over low heat for 1-2 minutes; just until the buttermilk heats up. Add the buttermilk mixture to the cooked potatoes and blend together with an electric mixer until mixture is creamy. Season with salt and pepper. Serves 4.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I'm a Lucky Recipient of The Versatile Blogger Award

I can't believe it's only Tuesday and I've had such a terrific week so far. I think I FINALLY figured out the newest changes on my Facebook page and can actually see and acknowledge all of the great new foodie friends I have made, along with some really great new blogs. I look forward to reading each and every one, including Lisa's Dinnertime Dish, who so graciously gave me this award. Thank you from the bottom of my heart and I'm blessed to have found so many wonderful bloggers out there in such a short amount of time. 

The Rules of this Award Are:

1.  Thank and link back to the person who gave you the award.
2.  Share 7 things about yourself
3.  Send it along to 15 other Bloggers and let them know you have awarded them!

Seven Things About Me:
1. My parents divorced when I was 8 years old. It is also around that time that I started trying out my hand in the kitchen. 

2. I have lived most of my life in Northern NJ, except for a short stint in Southern CA back in the late '70's early '80's and HATED when my mother would drag my sister & I to the beach each weekend...the horror! (I was only 10 at the time). Oh yeah and see #3, I lived in Providence, RI for 4 years during college too. 

3. I met my husband while at college in Providence, RI 23 years ago when we found out that we grew up 5 minutes from each other back in NJ. We were friends for 5 years and stayed that way even after college until we started dating and have now been happily married for 16 years. 

4. I have two daughters, Rachael-15 (yes, I's spelled different than the norm) & Gabrielle-10, whom I am extremely proud of. They're kind, considerate (most of the time, except for when I have to tell them to pick up their clothes off of the floor), and have completely different personalities which I love.

5. I only had one sibling, a sister, who died at the age of 32 (on 9/5/01 in a car accident (don't drink and drive and wear your seatbelt please!)

6. I love spending time with my family and going to different places. This past summer we spent 2 1/2 weeks in Europe visiting Barcelona, Monte Carlo, Rome, Tuscany, Sorrento, Turkey, Athens and Santorini. It was my first experience outside of the US and I can't wait to go back and and spend more time there. My favorite places were Tuscany, Sorrento and Santorini. 

7. I have some of the best girlfriends anyone could ever ask for and we play Bunco once a month. 

And now I have to award 15 Blogs this award, which is going to be hard because Lisa has already named quite a few of my favorites so I'll have to pick some others to make it fair. :)
Congratulations to everyone! I'm happy to pass this award on to all of these fantastic blogs!

Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

If you read my post yesterday, you would know that it was hubby's birthday. Now in our house, you get to select whatever it is you want to eat for your birthday dinner and I'll make it, no matter what it is.  So hubby decided he wanted sauce and a Red Velvet Cake, which surprised me since he said it was his favorite but I can't recall ever seeing him eat it let alone ask for it in the 18+ years we've been together, but I'll go with it. He even gave me enough warning and started thinking about this a few months ago, which was perfect timing because right around that time, I saw a recipe for Red Velvet Cake from America's Test Kitchen pop up on one of the blogs I follow; which I can't seem to find out which one it was but they posted a link to ATK to get the actual recipe, so if someone reading this posted this recipe in the last month or so, let me know. :)

Anyway, so here I go baking. This is not my forte, especially cakes so I followed the recipe to the T and it came out perfect! Minus a little fight I had with the food coloring. Splatters of red all over my kitchen. Did I mention I have white cabinets, a white tile floor and sink and, though I hate them and will hopefully be redoing our kitchen next year, light grey countertops? Lucky for me, the Lysol Antibacterial Kitchen Cleaner cleaned up the entire mess. The only thing I did different with ATK recipe is use a different Cream Cheese Frosting (by Janni on All I had found her recipe about a year ago and what I like about it is that it only has 4 ingredients and is FABULOUS on carrot cake so I figured it would be just as good on Red Velvet Cake too...and it was!


Monday, October 17, 2011

Mushroom, Tomato & Goat Cheese Stuffed Bread

It was hubby's birthday on Friday and with our daughter's social calendar, we didn't get to celebrate when we wanted to. We had also been putting up new moulding and painting most of the weekend and finally decided we had enough for the day and realized we had never eaten breakfast.  I always keep a frozen pizza dough and shredded mozzarella in the freezer just in case we decide last minute to have an afternoon snack on a Sunday. So I whipped up this bread to hold us over until his birthday dinner was finished. This is a quick appetizer idea and is especially good for those who do not eat meat. It's loaded with flavor, has minimal ingredients, and takes about 30 minutes to prepare from start to finish.

Mushroom, Tomato & Goat Cheese Stuffed Bread
1lb. Pizza Dough
1-10oz. Pkg. Mushrooms, sliced
4 Cloves Garlic, chopped
1 tbsp. Fresh Rosemary
2 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil + extra for top
2-3 Plum Tomatoes (depending on size), sliced
1/2 c. Crumbled Goat Cheese
6 oz. Shredded Part Skim Mozzarella Cheese

Heat oil in a small frying pan over medium heat and add the mushrooms, garlic and rosemary. Saute until mushrooms have softened. While mushrooms are cooking, roll out the dough into a rectangle about ¼” thick. Add the mushroom mixture to cover the dough area leaving ¼” border around all sides. Next, add the sliced tomatoes. Top with the goat cheese then the mozzarella cheese. Gently roll from left to right, sealing the ends by pinching the dough together. Place seam side down on lightly greased baking sheet. Brush top of loaf with some olive oil and bake at 425°F for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Makes 12 slices.  


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Chicken & Sausage "Jambalaya"

Well, if you haven't figured it out yet, I'm not a huge fan of "heat" in my food. A little bit is ok once in a while but I can't overdo it. So when I found this recipe in my recipe box from years gone by, I wanted to try to make this one again but noticed it had a lot of spices in it that I don't necessarily like. I think I originally got this from one of my bridesmaids over 17 years ago but I'm not sure where she got it and unfortunately I haven't spoken to her in years. So here is my version of the Jambalaya and it was delicious. I was actually able to put this together in less than 15 minutes (bonus!) which was a big help to me this week. I also only had quick rice in the house not long grain, so if you do use that kind of rice, you might want to add a bit more liquid so that the rice is fully cooked. It was definitely a "stick to your ribs" kind of meal, as my husband likes to affectionately call these types of dishes. 

Chicken & Sausage "Jambalaya"
1 lb. Boneless Chicken Breast, cut into 1" pieces
6 Links Italian Sausage, cut into 1" pieces
2 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Cloves Garlic, chopped
2 Stalks Celery, chopped
1/4 c. Red Onion, chopped
1 tbsp. Fresh Rosemary, chopped
1 tsp. Dried Oregano
1/2 tsp. Ground Thyme
1 1/2 c. Instant Rice (or long grain)
2 c. Low-Sodium Chicken Broth
2 tbsp. Tomato Paste (I use Hunts)
1 c. White Wine
1 tbsp. Lemon Juice

In a large, non-stick frying pan, add the oil and cook chicken until no pink. Remove from the pan and set aside. In the same pan, add the sausage and cook until most of the pink is gone and remove from pan; set aside. Add the garlic, celery, onion, rosemary, oregano and thyme to a Dutch oven and saute for 2-3 minutes over medium heat on top of the stove. Add the rice and mix well. Next, add back in the cooked chicken and sausage along with the chicken broth, wine, lemon juice, and tomato paste and bring to a slight boil. Cover the Dutch oven and bake at 300°F for 1 hour, stirring halfway through. Serves 4-6. 


Friday, October 14, 2011

Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Roasted Cauliflower

First, I want to wish my husband a very Happy Birthday today. The poor guy is exhausted  after being in London and Amsterdam this past week and only just came home last night around 2am. Luckily, he took the day off to catch up on some sleep. We don't have much planned for a celebration tonight since my older daughter has a football game tonight (don't worry, she's not a linebacker, she's a cheerleader for my new friends reading this). But I do have to cook. Each week, our Booster Club makes dinner for the girls before each game and there are 20 of them...who, as I'm told, LOVE to eat! When they found out it was going to be my turn about a month ago, they all decided that they wanted me to make them the Asian Chicken Wings and Fried Rice. So as I'm typing this, I have 10 lbs. of wings soaking in the marinade, ready to cook later and bring to her school later today. As for my husband's dinner, he wants me to make him a huge pot of sauce with bracciole and sausage on Sunday so we'll have his birthday celebration then. :)

Now, onto food... That pesto I purchased the other day only contained about 3/4 cup in the jar, so I had 1/4 cup of it left after I made the Turkey Stuffed with Sun Dried Tomato Pesto & Asiago Cheese. I decided to make this with the turkey to complement the flavors for that evening's dinner and I'm embarrassed to admit that up until about 4 years ago, I never would touch the stuff. As a kid, if the vegetable wasn't frozen, we didn't eat it. I'm so glad my Mother's food palette expanded over the years and now she's an incredible cook and loves to try new things all the time. There is something about roasting fresh cauliflower that brings out such a great flavor and no matter what I seem to add to the mix, it just keeps tasting better and better. 

I also happened to pick up the most recent copy of Real Simple magazine the other day(I don't subscribe to any magazines, can't stand the clutter...told you I'm a little OCD) and cut out an article they had on cauliflower that I thought might be useful to someone. So, since I'm actually posting about it this week, here is what Emily McKenna had to say. 

How to Choose
Look for cauliflower with compact, creamy white florets and crisp bright green leaves. An old cauliflower will have a yellowish tinge and tiny black mold spots on the surface. 

How to Store
Refrigerate cauliflower unwashed and tightly wrapped in plastic for up to 5 days. 

How to Prepare
Remove the hard core by breaking of the leaves, turning the cauliflower upside down and cutting around the core with a small, sharp knife. Cut the rest of the cauliflower into similar sized florets so that they cook at the same rate. 

Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Roasted Cauliflower
1 Head Cauliflower, core removed and florets cut and rinsed under cold water
1/4 c. Giada  De Laurentiis Sun Dried Tomato Pesto
1/4 c. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Cloves Garlic
1/4 c. Pecorino Romano Cheese, grated
1/4 c. Low-Sodium Chicken Broth

Add all ingredients in to a bowl and mix well until all of the cauliflower has been coated. Place in a 9"x9" baking dish and bake at 350°F for 1 hour, turning occasionally. Then, place under the broiler for 5-10 minutes until they turn golden brown. Serves 4. 


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Turkey Stuffed with Sun Dried Tomato Pesto & Asiago Cheese

Well, my house projects are coming along nicely but I feel like I'm going to collapse from exhaustion.  I do have to say that after one year, my bathroom is finally done (and looks great..YEAH!). Also, we had a new banister put in, refinished hardwood floors in three separate rooms and so far this week, I managed to paint the dining room and living room in between running errands and playing Mom taxi. Though with all of this other busy work, it has left little time for me to do much cooking over the last week (good thing I cooked a lot the week before so I had something to post! lol). 

So on Monday I needed to give my back a break from climbing up and down a ladder and decided that would be my "errand day" (I should have stayed home...7 stores later). During one of my stops, I went to Target to pick up two items (yeah right, who can go in there and just buy two things?). I always like to browse through the food isles to see if anything new is out there that I can use to try different things and I hit the jackpot. 

Giada De Laurentiis had come out with a line of pesto made specifically for Target(and apparently it's been out for almost a year but I've never seen it in our local store). She had a couple of different varieties but the Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto caught my eye. It contains olive oil, sun dried tomatoes, basil, Grana cheese, tomatoes, cashews, garlic, salt, vinegar, and pine nuts. Now I could have just made this myself but being so busy lately, I purchased it thinking I could just make it with pasta one night in a pinch. 

Then I got home and my 40+ brain had forgotten that I had taken out a Turkey London Broil for dinner already. I didn't want it to go to waste since it was in the refrigerator for 2 days already and I needed to do something with it. (Here's a picture of what it actually looks like if you've never seen it. Basically, it's just the breast meat from a turkey and is usually 1 1/2-2 lbs so it's the perfect size to feed my family of 4). I decided to slice the turkey and flatten it so that I could stuff it. I used the pesto and found some leftover Asiago cheese in the refrigerator. INCREDIBLE...though how can you go wrong with sun dried tomatoes and Asiago cheese! This was so easy and quick to prepare and as you can see, hardly any ingredients. I used the wine to put in the bottom of the pan so that I could baste the turkey with it while it was cooking but you could also just use some chicken broth or water, you just don't want it to dry out. 

Turkey Stuffed with Sun Dried Tomato Pesto & Asiago Cheese
1 1/2 lb. Turkey London Broil
1/2 c. Giada De Laurentiis Sun Dried Tomato Pesto (or you could make your own)
1/2. c. Shredded Asiago Cheese
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Garlic Powder, to taste
Kosher Salt, to taste
Fresh Ground Black Pepper, to taste
1/2 c. White Wine

Using a sharp knife (I use my Wusthof, ok free product plug here), carefully slice the meat horizontally into about a 1/2" thickness, unraveling it until it it flat. Gently pound with a meat mallet to get even thickness, spread the pesto and sprinkle with the cheese. Next, roll up the turkey from right to left (or left to right if you're a lefty like my Mom), and tie with kitchen string to secure. 

Place in a baking dish, brush with olive oil then sprinkle the top with garlic powder, salt and pepper. Add the wine to the baking dish and bake at 350°F for approximately 1 hour 15 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165°F. Let it rest 10 minutes before slicing. Serves 4.