Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Yummy Pasta Dish

I made this one day last week and we had it for dinner and then stuck it in the freezer since we weren't going to be eating at home again for a few days. We thawed it out last night and had it for dinner again and it was still FANTASTICO!


1-1/2 cups multi-grain penne pasta, uncooked (I used Tri-Color Rigatoni b/c it's what I had)
1 pkg. (9 oz.) fresh spinach leaves (My bag was only 6 oz but it was plenty!)
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces (I probably used 2 pounds just to have more protein)
1 tsp. dried basil leaves (I used fresh basil leaves from my new basil plant)
1 jar (14-1/2 oz.) spaghetti sauce (I use Prego)
1 can (14-1/2 oz.) diced tomatoes, drained
2 oz. (1/4 of 8-oz. pkg.) Cream Cheese, cubed (I didn't cube mine but it would probably speed up melting)
2 cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese, divided
2 Tbsp. Grated Parmesan Cheese (I used Kraft Asiago, Romano, Parmesan blended version!)

HEAT oven to 375ºF.

COOK pasta as directed on package, adding spinach to the boiling water the last minute.

COOK and stir chicken and basil in large nonstick skillet sprayed with cooking spray on medium-high heat 3 min. Stir in spaghetti sauce and tomatoes; bring to boil. Simmer on low heat 3 min. or until chicken is done. Stir in cream cheese.

DRAIN pasta mixture; return to pan. Stir in chicken mixture and 1/2 cup mozzarella. Spoon into 2-qt. casserole or 9-inch square baking dish.

BAKE 20 min. Sprinkle with remaining cheeses. Bake 3 min.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Our First Video Blog!

I realize that I left the flour and salt off the ingredient list in the video (though they are in the scrolling list) So, in case there are any questions, here's the actual recipe! Give me a break :-) It was my first try! Next time, I'll do better!

Wedding Cake Cupcakes with White Velvet Cream Cheese Icing!

1 1/2 cups butter, softened

1 1/2 cups white sugar

2 eggs

1 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter flavored shortening

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese

4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar

1 tablespoon milk


* Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease and flour 2 round 8 inch pans. Sift the flour and salt together and set aside.
* Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and mix well. *Dissolve baking soda in buttermilk. Alternately add flour and buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour. Pour into two 8-inch pans.
* Bake at 325 degrees F (165 degrees C) for about 30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean. Cool cake completely before icing.
* To make the White Velvet Cream Cheese Icing: Beat shortening and cream cheese together. Gradually beat in confectioners sugar. Add milk until a frosting is formed. (Add more milk if necessary.)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The BEST pork chops ever

Sunday was an awesome day. I missed going to church, but I enjoyed the beautiful white blanket of snow God gave us for just a short while. It's such a rarity so I try to enjoy it when I do see it. Since church was canceled, I had time to cook lunch AND have people over to help us enjoy it. Since it was so cold outside, this is what we had for lunch:

The BEST pork chops ever:

* 4 bone-in pork chops, about 1 1/2 inches thick
* 2 quarts water
* 1/4 cup sugar
* 1/4 cup kosher salt
* 4 fresh thyme sprigs
* 1/2 tsp nutmeg
* 1/2 tsp cinnamon
* 8 slices (about 3 ounces) prosciutto
* 4 slices (about 3 ounces) fontina
* 1/2 cup chicken stock
* 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled
* 4 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
* 1 pound California red grapes, off the vine
* Extra-virgin olive oil
* Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Make a brine by combining the water, sugar, salt, thyme sprigs, nutmeg and cinnamon in a re-sealable bag. Add the pork chops, seal up the bag and put in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Drain the pork chops and pat dry. Using a sharp knife, make a horizontal cut into the center of each chop to make a pocket. Stuff a slice of fontina and prosciutto inside each pocket and secure with a toothpick. Set 2 large cast iron skillets over medium-high heat and add 2 TBSP of extra-virgin olive oil to each skillet. Add 2 chops to each of the skillets and cook for 4 to 5 minutes until golden. Turn chops, push to 1 side and set 1/2 of the grapes in each pan. Drizzle with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper before putting the pans in the oven. Roast chops for 5 to 7 minutes until cooked through and cheese has melted. Remove from oven when done and set a porkchop and 1/4 of roasted grapes aside on each plate - keep warm.

Consolidate juices into 1 pan and set over medium heat. Add chicken stock to the pan, scraping the bottom to extract all the flavors.

We served the chops with Uncle Ben's Rice Vegetable Medley and a nice salad using Romaine lettuce, tomato and "homemade" ranch dressing (dressing mix + mayo + milk + blender). There were brownies with CoolWhip for dessert!

It was a great day with snow, friends and good food! From My Kitchen to Yours, Good Eats!

Friday, January 16, 2009

New Obsession

I have found my new love... since the last post, I have discovered that not only do I like cupcakes, I LOVE them... and I love any reason to use my new mixer so here's another cupcake post. (Read the entire recipe before starting in the kitchen!!!)

Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

Chocolate Cupcake Recipe
Marshmallow Frosting Recipe
Cool Whip
Cocoa Powder
Mini Marshmallows

Bake and cool chocolate cupcakes. Add marshmallow frosting to cooled cupcakes. Spoon a Tablespoon or so of cool whip on each cupcake. Sprinkle cupcakes with cocoa powder. Top the cupcakes with mini marshmallows.

Chocolate Cupcakes

1/2 c. cocoa powder
2/3 c. boiling waterl
2/3 c. (4 oz) bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/4 lb. plus 4 tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temp.
1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
4 large eggs at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. plain yogurt, at room temperature
1 1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Insert liners into a medium cupcake pan
Place the cocoa in a small bowl. Pour the boiling water over cocoa and whisk until all lumps are dissolved. Add the bittersweet chocolate to the cocoa and water mixture and stir until smooth. Set aside to cool
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy (3-5 minutes). Add the eggs one at a time and beat 1 minute after each addition. Add the vanilla.
In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda and salt
Add half of the dry ingredients to the butter mixture. Mix at low speed until well integrated. Add the yogurt and mix well. Add the remainder of the dry ingredients. Mix until combined. Add the chocolate. Mix until blended. Do not overmix.
Stir in the semi-sweet chocolate chips.
Fill the cupcake liners half to three-quarters full. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until they pass the toothpick test. Cool cupcakes in the pan.

Marshmallow Frosting

2 tbsp. milk
6 tbsp. sugar
1 pkg. mini marshmallows
2 tbsp boiling water
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

In a saucepan over low to medium heat warm the milk and sugar for 6 minutes without stirring.
In a double boiler, heat the marshmallows. When they are very soft, add the boiling water, stirring until smooth.
Remove from heat. Add the vanilla. With an electric mixer on medium speed beat in the hot sugar. Keep beating until partly cool and use immediately on cooled cupcakes.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Cupcakes, Cupcakes EVERYWHERE!

I love weddings. I love planning weddings (I would hope so!). I love wedding things. I especially love happy weddings. However, the best part of any wedding for me is WEDDING CAKE. I love the colors, the styles... each one is unique just like every bride. As wedding season creeps up on me and I am in the midst of planning 4 weddings at this moment, I can't help but think of cake... and we all know that there is just something different about wedding cake!

Well, as many weddings as I have coming up, I have not been asked to make a cake... flowers, set-up, directing, absolutely. Make the cake? Not hardly! I've never even attempted a homemade cake much less a wedding cake... the thing is, I got such a hankerin' for wedding cake, I decided to do something about it. Robert's birthday is Sunday so I made up my mind that this year he was getting wedding cake!!!

OK, so he's getting cupcakes... that TASTE like wedding cake. It's a white wedding cake with chocolate buttercream icing... ALL from scratch. I used my brand new Hamilton Beach Stand Mixer that my in-laws got me for Christmas. I LOVE it... We've named is Moto-Moto (Moto for short). It's huge and quite heavy and if you've seen Madagascar 2 then you get the reference! OK, enough background. Here's what you're looking for!

• 6 cups cake flour sifted
• 2 tablespoons baking powder
• 1 1/2 cups butter or margarine, softened
• 3 cups granulated sugar
• 2 cups milk
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 12 egg whites
• Cake Release
Makes: 12 cups of cake batter.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line muffin pans with appropriately sized cupcake papers (I used a jumbo muffin pan and a regular muffin pan).
Sift together flour and baking powder. Set aside. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Set aside. Beat egg whites until stiff, but not dry. Set aside. With mixer at slow speed, add flour mixture to butter mixture, alternately with milk. Beat well after each addition. Beat in vanilla extract. Gently fold egg whites into batter. Pour into prepared pans. Bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean (Jumbo took about 35 minutes, regular took about 20-25).

• 1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
• 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
• 3/4 cup cocoa or three 1 oz. unsweetened chocolate squares, melted
• 1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
• 4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar (approximately 1 lb.)
• 3-4 tablespoons milk
Makes: About 3 cups of icing.


Stiff Consistency: In large bowl, cream shortening and butter with electric mixer. Add cocoa and vanilla. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry. Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Keep bowl covered with a damp cloth until ready to use. For best results, keep icing bowl in refrigerator when not in use. Refrigerated in an airtight container, this icing can be stored 2 weeks. Rewhip before using.
Chocolate Mocha Icing: Substitute cold brewed strong coffee for milk in Chocolate Buttercream recipe.
Darker Chocolate Icing: Add an additional 1/4 cup cocoa (or one additional 1 oz. square unsweetened chocolate, melted) and 1 additional tablespoon milk to Chocolate Buttercream Icing.
For Thin (Spreading) Consistency Icing: Add 3-4 tablespoons light corn syrup, water or milk.