Peas and Cheese Spaghetti Squash

>> Saturday, May 29, 2010

Here's what is fabulous about this recipe - it only has five ingredients! I was a bit worried serving Andrew a vegetarian meal but he really liked it. Score! If you've never tried spaghetti squash before, Andrew thought it tasted just like al dente, or firmly cooked, noodles. For the most part, it is super easy to make too. The only part I found difficult was actually cutting the squash in half. I tried two different knives, a cleaver and finally a hammer was used before Andrew and I finally got the stupid thing opened. There must be an easier way though!

Peas and Cheese Spaghetti Squash
adapted from Rachael Ray magazine

1 large spaghetti squash, cut in half lengthwise and seeds removed

8-12 oz spaghetti sauce (depending on how saucy you like it)

1/2 c frozen green peas

1 c ricotta cheese

1/2 c parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a baking dish. Place squash halves face down in dish and fill with 1 1/2 c of water. Bake for 30 minutes or until the flesh is easily pierced with a knife. Set aside to cool so that is can be handled.

In a saucepan over medium-low heat, combine spaghetti sauce and peas (or whatever other vegetables you may be adding or substituting). Stir frequently and continue cooking until sauce and veggies are heated through.

Using a fork, shred the meat of the squash halves and place the 'noodles' into the sauce. Stir to combine. Remove from heat and stir in the ricotta cheese. Sprinkle parmesan on top and serve!


Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

>> Saturday, May 15, 2010

OMG, these were divine! I don't think I will ever make another mashed potato recipe! I didn't change a thing and they came out perfectly!


Champagne Sangria

I had two bottle of champagne that I wanted to use. I like champagne but not enough to drink that much by its self! I decided to try and make a sangria with it and it was deliciously refreshing and perfect for spring and summer.

Champagne Sangria
1/2 c water
1/2 sugar
3 sprigs of mint
2 lemons
2 limes
6 oz peach nectar, chilled
1 bottle champagne, chilled

In a small saucepan over high heat, combine water, sugar and mint leaves. Bring to a boil and stir frequently until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool.

In a large pitcher, place lemon and lime slices and pour over cooled mint simple syrup. With a wooden spoon, gently crush fruit slices to release their juices. Pour in peach nectar and champagne. Stir well and serve!


Mediterranean Pesto Pasta with Grilled Chicken

Okay, this recipe isn't going to be an exact recipe by any means because I can't remember the measurements. My memory is not what it used to be! But if you're comfortable in the kitchen, then I'm sure you can look at the ingredients and go with your gut.
Mediterranean Pesto Pasta with Grilled Chicken
8 oz penne pasta
2 chicken breasts
kalamata olives
sun-dried tomatoes
artichoke hearts
hearts of palm
2 T red wine vinegar
1/4 to 1/3 c basil pesto
1/4 to 1/3 c Greek salad dressing
feta cheese
Cook the penne pasta according to package directions. While the pasta is cooking, heat a grill pan to medium-high heat, cook on one side for about 4 minutes, flip and lower heat to medium. Continue to cook until juices run clear, about 5 to 7 more minutes. Remove chicken from heat and let rest until pasta is finished cooking.
Chop olives, tomatoes, artichoke hearts and hearts of palm. Set aside. In a small bowl, mix together vinegar, pesto and salad dressing.
Drain pasta and return back to pot. Combine pasta with vegetables and pesto mixture. Place in serving bowls. Slice grilled chicken and place on top of pasta. Sprinkle with feta.


Southwestern Turkey Burgers

I was craving a burger recently, but I wanted something a little healthier than the average beef burger. I invited my parents over for dinner and I tried a new Rachael Ray recipe for Southwest Turkey Burgers and everyone enjoyed them. The patties were moist (which can sometimes be a problem with turkey since it's such a lean meat), flavor-packed and the pepper jack cheese really added a spicy zing. I think next time I might leave off the bacon and add mashed avocado. Overall, I really good burger and it's a recipe I'll definitely make again. Oh, and I served the burgers with homemade sweet potato fries and fresh fruit salad.


Asian Meatballs

Just about every month a group of friends and I take turns hosting a potluck dinner. The hostess gets to pick the theme and since this month was my turn to host, I picked appetizers. I love appys! I love grazing on lots of small plates rather than committing to just one main dish. I went a little overboard and made four different appetizers, all of which turned out pretty darned yummy!
I wanted to make something meat-y so I decided on meatballs but I wanted something different than the traditional meatball recipe. I stumbled upon this Rachael Ray recipe for Asian Meatballs and went with it. The meatballs were very moist and flavorful and a unique take on the ordinary meatball!
Asian Meatballs
adapted from Rachael Ray's magazine
4 scallions, green and white parts, coarsely chopped
One 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated or finely chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1/2 serrano or jalapeno chile pepper, seeded and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/4 c soy sauce
2 to 3 tablespoons cilantro leaves (a handful)
Zest of 2 limes
1 pound ground sirloin
1 pound ground pork
1 to 2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the scallions, half of the ginger, the bell pepper, half of the chile pepper, the garlic, the 3 tablespoons of soy sauce, the cilantro leaves and the lime zest. Pulse for 30 seconds, scrape down the bowl and process 1 minute more, or until finely ground. Transfer mixture to a large bowl. Add the meat and mix gently until thoroughly combined. Roll the meat into 32 balls the size of golf balls.

Preheat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and add the sesame oil. Add the meatballs and don't move them until they are brown on 1 side, about 3 minutes. Turn the meatballs and continue to cook, browning them on all sides, until cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes more.

Place the finished meatballs on a serving platter, with toothpicks on the side.


Crab Salad with Avocado and Grapefruit

So fresh and delightful! I used a recipe from Gourmet magazine that I found on Epicurious to make this but I made a couple of changes. Here is what I did:

Crab Salad with Avocado and Grapefruit

1 large shallot, finely chopped
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/4 c extra-virgin olive oil
2 pink or ruby-red grapefruit
2 firm-ripe California avocado
Coarse sea salt to taste
Freshly cracked black pepper
16 oz fresh cooked lump crab meat
2-3 chives, snipped

In a small bowl, stir together shallot, lemon juice, and table salt in a small bowl and let stand at room temperature 30 minutes. Add oil in a stream, whisking to emulsify.

Cut peel, including all white pith, from grapefruit with a sharp knife. Cut segments free from membranes and transfer segments to paper towels to drain.

Halve each avocado lengthwise, discarding pit. Cut crosswise into 1/3-inch-thick slices and remove from skin with a large spoon.
On a large platter, place avocado slices and grapefruit segments in an alternating pattern, leaving some open space in the middle. Squeeze grapefruit juice from the grapefruitmembranes over the avocado slices to prevent browning. Sprinkle sea salt and pepper over avocado and grapefruit. Combine crab and dressing and toss gently. Place crab mixture in center of platter and garnish with chives. Serve immediately.


Pigs in a Blacket with Chile Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce

From the impressive, and vast, appetizer buffet that we put together, nothing was eaten faster than the good ole standby Pigs in a Blanket. I'd been hoping that there would be some left over for breakfast the next day, but the entire platter was devoured quickly. Always a crowd favorite, especially with the men! It's such an easy, simple appetizer, but I've tried to make it a little bit more gourmet than the standard recipe.

Pigs in a Blanket with Chile Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce

1 pkg cheddar lil smokies sausages
1 pkg crescent roll dough
1 egg, beaten
1 t poppy seeds
1 t sesame seeds
1 t dried chives

2 T mayonnaise
2 T honey
2 T Dijon mustard
1 t ancho chile powder
1 t garlic powder
1 t white wine vinegar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray. Meanwhile unroll crescent dough and press seams together to form one large square. Cut in half vertically and then cut each half into half again vertically to create four rectangles. Cut each rectangle into thin strips horizontally. Wrap a strip around each sausage. Place on baking sheet. Repeat until you used all the dough and/or sausages.

Add a bit of water to the beaten egg and brush each dough wrapped sausage with a bit of the egg mixture. In a small bowl, mix poppy seeds, sesame seeds and chives together. Sprinkle herb mixture evenly over the 'pigs'. (You can easily omit this step or use just about any mixture of seeds and herbs.) Bake for about 15 minutes, or until dough is golden. Serve hot or warm.

Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, combine all sauce ingredients and mix well. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


Bacon and Blue Cheese Palmiers

I love puff pastry's yummy butteriness, and when it's paired with blue cheese and bacon, it becomes really out of this world! I prepped all of the components for the recipe the day before, and then just threw them together in the evening. There are a few steps to this recipe, but it really is scrumptious!

Bacon and Blue Cheese Palmiers
adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

4 oz. blue cheese,crumbled
4 oz. pkg. cream cheese, room temperature
5-6 slices of bacon
1/3 cup finely chopped shallots
1/3 cup peach preserves
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 pkg puff pastry dough
1/3 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped and toasted

In a small bowl, beat cheeses on medium to high until fluffy. Set aside.

In a large skillet cook bacon until crisp; drain and crumble. Reserve 1 Tablespoon drippings in skillet; cook and stir shallot in drippings over medium heat until tender. Remove pan from heat; stir in preserves and vinegar. Set aside.

Unroll both dough squares . On each square spread half of the cheese mixture to within 1/4 " of one long side. Top cheese with bacon. Roll up the left vertical side inward, stopping in the middle of the dough. Roll up the right side of the dough. The two rolls should be meeting at the middle and touching. Press the two sides together gently. Repeat with second dough square. Wrap each in plastic wrap and let the dough chill in the fridge for at least half an hour. With a serrated knife cut each roll in 8 to 10 slices. Place cut side down, on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 18 to 23 minutes or until golden brown. Brush onion mixture on palmiers. Top with walnuts. Remove from baking sheet . Serve warm.


Giada's Carbonara

>> Sunday, May 2, 2010

As soon as I saw this recipe, it had me intrigued - a fried egg on top of pasta and asparagus?! It was also the first time I made my own homemade aioli, which was so simple that I know I'll do it again. But back to the recipe, I thought it was only okay and I probably won't be making it again. To me the egg and basil-y pasta didn't pair well together and the aioli became really oily when heated from the cooked pasta. To me, it just wasn't very appetizing. That being said, the recipe was very highly rated on the Food Network website, so maybe I did something wrong. This blog is supposed to chronicle my cooking triumphs and failures afterall...


Creamy Cucumber Salad

This recipe was simple and could be made ahead of time. It was pretty tasty but I think next time I'll cut down on the dressing a bit or add another cucumber so it won't be quite as saucy. I also added a tablespoon of white wine vinegar just for a little added tang.


Pork and Chickpea Chili

My friend Jennifer introduced me to this dish and I really love it. It's fast to make, inexpensive, far different from your ordinary beef chili, freezes well and it tastes great - what more could you ask for! My one recommendation/warning about this recipe is to be careful what kind of green salsa you buy because some of them can be pretty spicy. I served it with Creamy Cucumber Salad and that helped to combat the spiciness of my chili a bit too.


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