Friday, March 16, 2012

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Brief Hiatus!

This blog has been going non stop since 2006, and though at times I haven't updated as much as I would like to, I've never taken a hiatus.

Unfortunately, it is something that I need to do right now.  I am feeling burned out in a lot of areas in my life and need a soul recharge, so to speak.

It's not a goodbye, it's simply a very short break and besides you guys have a lot of recipes to browse through, to keep you busy while I'm gone.  Matter of fact, I doubt you'll even notice because it won't be for that long at all.

While I get myself in order, I hope that you keep cooking and keep experimenting in the kitchen.

I will be back before you know it :)  God Bless!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Makeover Rigatoni with Bacon and Asparagus

This one comes from my Taste of Home Cookbook. I'm always looking for easy pasta dishes and this one is not only easy but really yummy too.


Makeover Rigatoni with Bacon and Asparagus

1 package (16 ounces) spiral pasta
1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed and coarsely chopped
8 bacon strips
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2/3 cup half-and-half cream
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1/8 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions.

Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven, bring 2 cups water to a boil.


Add asparagus; cover and boil for 3 minutes. Drain and immediately place asparagus in ice water.


Drain and pat dry.

In the same pan, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove to paper towels to drain. (I baked mine in the oven at 300 degrees for 45 minutes. No splattering and it cooks to perfection )


Crumble bacon and set aside. Saute garlic in butter and oil until tender. Stir in cream. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 3-4 minutes or until slightly thickened.
Stir in mozzarella cheese until melted. Drain pasta; add to pan. Stir in the salt, asparagus, parsley and reserved bacon. Sprinkle with pepper and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Yield: 8 servings.


Baked Hard Boiled Eggs

It may leave you a little confused or perplexed, but you CAN make hard boiled eggs in the oven.

If I am wanting just one or two, even 3, I will boil them on the stovetop, but if I'm making a dozen or more, then I use Alton Brown's method of baking them in the oven.


I think one of the reasons I like Alton Brown so much is that he turns cooking almost into a crazy scientist kinda thing, he really digs deep into the chemical and science aspects of cooking, and it's fun.  My kids enjoy watching him in the kitchen too and learning why things cook a certain way or what happens for the change to take effect.

A couple of years ago, I came across Alton's cookbook "I'm just here for the food".   One of the categories was Eggs and among the scrambled and poached and deviled eggs were the baked eggs.  Now that was something I had NEVER dreamed of doing, truth be told I'm a hit and miss when it comes to hard boiling eggs.

But this really does work and it helps if you're making a huge amount of eggs, especially around the holidays.

This morning I saw a link on Facebook talking about the baked eggs and I thought "Oh my gosh, I do that too".  So here I am, passing Alton's method along to anyone out there that may want to give it a try.  And yes I know that you can cook big amounts of eggs on the stove too, this is not a "do it this way instead" post, it's just an added method for boiling/baking the eggs.

Note: Alton says that these are harder to peel, though I haven't had an issue with them, but then again I let them sit in the ice water for a while. Also you will notice that they will have a brown spot where the egg was laying against the rack, that is fine and doesn't affect the taste of the eggs at all. The fresher the eggs the whiter they'll be, I've noticed that if I use eggs that are not fresh, they tend to come out a brownish color.


Alton Brown's Baked Hard Boiled Eggs

2 -4 dozen raw eggs

Position the oven racks in the center of the oven.

Place the eggs on the racks. (if they're big, they will sit nicely placed parallel to the bars, if they are smaller then just lay them gently on the bars)
Place a baking sheet pan in the bottom of the oven (just in case an egg breaks).
Set the oven to 325F, and bake for 30 minutes.
When the eggs are done, fill a large bowl with ice water and move the eggs into the bowl.


Peel the eggs as soon as they're cool enough to handle, then return them to the ice water to thoroughly chill.


Friday, March 09, 2012

Creamy Chicken Florentine


It's like one of the most talked about foods in this household, and honestly, if it were up to my kids we would be eating some sort of pasta dish every single day.

Creamy Chicken Florentine

While grocery shopping last week, I came across the Philadelphia Savory Garlic cooking creme. I grabbed one, brought it home and then thought "well what do I do with this?" LOL

Creamy Chicken Florentine

After a quick search online, I came across a recipe from Kraft Foods. It was really quick to throw together and I can tell you that there was nothing left of it once dinner was over.

The only thing I omitted were the nuts because we don't like nuts or fruit mixed in with food (we're weird like that) LOL

Anyway, here is the recipe, try it for yourself, whether you choose to add in the pine nuts or leave them out, this is still a delicious pasta dish.

Creamy Chicken Florentine

Creamy Chicken Florentine

1lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
1/2cup halved red pepper strips
1tub (10 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Savory Garlic Cooking Creme
1pkg. (6 oz.) baby spinach leaves
2cups hot cooked penne pasta
2Tbsp. toasted Italian pine nuts

COOK chicken and peppers in large nonstick skillet on medium heat 5 to 6 min. or until chicken is done.

Creamy Chicken Florentine

ADD cooking creme; cook and stir 3 min.

Creamy Chicken Florentine

STIR in spinach and pasta; top with nuts.

Creamy Chicken Florentine

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Poor Man's Steak

I got this one from the Amish Cook at Home Cookbook, which I'm really enjoying.  


I served mine with egg noodles and the family said that it was very much like Salisbury Steak, I have to agree, only thing I didn't add was the beef gravy.  Very tasty though and a great recipe for filling meal :)


Poor Man's Steak

1 to 1½ lbs. lean hamburger
1 can (10¾-oz.) cream of mushroom soup
1 t. salt
¼ t. garlic powder
1 c. dry bread crumbs
2 eggs
1 small onion, chopped

Mix all of the ingredients except for the cream of mushroom soup and shape into a narrow loaf pan. Let set for at least 8 hours or overnight in the refrigerator. Slice into pieces and grill or fry just enough to brown each side.


Put slices in layers in a roaster pan and spread cream of mushroom soup over it (without adding water).


Bake for one hour at 325°.


Sunday, March 04, 2012

Sourdough Bread and Sourdough Starter

I have never had much luck with Sourdough Starter, admittedly I've tried many different recipes and have watched what look like Science experiments emerging from my own kitchen.  Some bubbled up and then deflated, others never bubbled up, others smelled so rank that I couldn't bear to cook with.

It's just been a downhill battle when it comes to Sourdough bread for me.  Until I got The Amish Cook at Home cookbook.  As I read through the pages, I came to the Autumn Season and there it was Sourdough Starter that you pop in the refrigerator and leave....sort of.

I can do that.  So last week Monday I did a sort of interactive post on the Facebook page as I made the starter and then waited patiently for 5 days to feed it and then waited patiently another 12 hours, then patiently again overnight and then again patiently 4 hours this morning to finally pop it in the oven and see what comes out.

The result.  AMAZING Sourdough bread and the first starter that I was able to make without botching.  Now that is a sure success.

So if you've had issues with Starters before and are ready to throw in the towel, might I suggest one last attempt?  If it doesn't work out for you, then you won't ever hear me ask you to try it again but if it does work out like mine did, just think of all the yummy Sourdough bread your family will be enjoying.

Sourdough Starter

3 packages active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (105 to 115F)

Starter Feed

3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons instant potatoes
1 cup warm water (105 to 115F)

To make the starter: Mix the yeast and warm water in a small bowl. Put into a plastic container, seal, and refrigerate for 3 to 5 days.


To make the starter feed: Combine the sugar, potatoes, and water in a small bowl and stir into the starter. Cover loosely (to allow some of the pressure to escape as the gases build) and let stand at room temperature for 5 to 12 hours. The mixture will be bubbly.


Take out 1 cup to make bread and loosely cover the starter and return it to the refrigerator. Feed again after 3 to 5 days. If not making bread after feeding the starter, throw away 1 cup to avoid depleting the starter. Note: Do not put the lid on tight.


For the Sourdough Bread, this recipe makes 3 loaves.  If you want to make cinnamon rolls, then just divide the dough into two balls, roll it out and continue with your favorite cinnamon roll filling and icing :)


Sourdough Bread

2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups warm water (105 to 115F)
6 cups of bread flour
1 cup Sourdough Starter
3 teaspoons butter, melted

Combine the sugar, oil, salt, water, flour, and starter in a large bowl. Stir to make a dough. Form the dough into a ball. Grease another large bowl. Put the dough in and turn to coat. Cover with waxed paper and let stand overnight. (Do not refrigerate)


The next morning, punch the dough down and divide it into thirds.


Knead each part on a floured surface 8 to 10 times. Grease three 81/2 by 41/2 inch loaf pans and turn each loaf over in the pan to coat. Cover with waxed paper and let rise in the pans until it is just above the rims of the pans, 4 or 5 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Bake the bread until the crust is nice and golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and brush each loaf with 1 teaspoon of the butter. Unmold and let cool on wire racks.


Here are the cinnamon rolls. I divided the dough in thirds just like the recipe stated, but made 2 loaves and then used the other 3rd to make cinnamon rolls. I think if I had actually divided the dough in half these would have been HUMUNGOUS. Will try next time.




Thursday, March 01, 2012

Broiled Parmesan Tilapia

Tonight's dinner was a simple one.   It's payday, I have yet to get my menus written up and the grocery list done so I turned to my freezer for help.


I had a 2 lb package of Tilapia Filets which I hadn't used yet, so out they came, thawed they were, and then thrown placed into the broiler with this delicious topping.

The recipe is one that I found a while ago on All Recipes.  I wanted something different to make with the fish aside from my usual way of preparing them.  These came out great and I think they'll be made many more times as it got the approval from the family, even the picky 12 year old that doesn't really care for fish or seafood.


Broiled Parmesan Tilapia

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup butter, softened
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon celery salt
2 pounds tilapia fillets

Preheat your oven's broiler. Grease a broiling pan or line pan with aluminum foil.

In a small bowl, mix together the Parmesan cheese, butter, mayonnaise and lemon juice. Season with dried basil, pepper, onion powder and celery salt. Mix well and set aside.


Arrange fillets in a single layer on the prepared pan.


Broil a few inches from the heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the fillets over and broil for a couple more minutes. Remove the fillets from the oven and cover them with the Parmesan cheese mixture on the top side.

Broil for 2 more minutes or until the topping is browned and fish flakes easily with a fork. Be careful not to over cook the fish.