Sunday, December 28, 2008

Rigatoni with Sausage, Peppers, and Onions

We were looking for a good meal for Christmas Eve dinner. In thumbing through a couple cookbooks, I found this recipe in Giada De Laurentiis Every day Pasta. I am glad I did. It was really good. Ben gave 2 thumbs up. A keeper. Served with a nice salad and toasted baguette slices.

Rigatoni with Sausage, Peppers, and Onions
Serves 4-6

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 pound sweet Italian turkey sausages ( I couldn't find turkey so I used chicken sausage)
2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded, and sliced
2 yellow onions, sliced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup Marsala wine
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, with juice
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1 pound rigatoni pasta
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish

Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the sausages and cook until brown on all sides, 7 to 10 minutes. Remove the sausages from the pan.

Keeping the pan over medium heat, add the bell peppers, onions, salt, and pepper and cook until golden, 5 minutes. Add the garlic, oregano, and basil and cook for 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir until incorporated, then add the Marsala, tomatoes with their juice, and red pepper flakes, if using. Stir to combine, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to release all the brown bits. Bring to a simmer.

Cut the sausages into 4 to 6 pieces each. Return the sausages to the pan. Simmer uncovered until the sauce has thickened, about 20 minutes.

While the sauce simmers, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the pasta and add to the thickened sauce; toss to combine. Spoon into individual bowls and sprinkle each serving with Parmesan cheese.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Petite Cinnamon Swirls

Just a quick little treat for breakfast. Not Cinnabon, but a pretty good healthier alternative. I'll definitely make this more often.

8 ounce tube refrigerated low-fat crescent dinner roll dough
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. grated orange zest
1/3 cup raisins
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1 TBSP fat-free milk

Preheat oven to 375.

Unwrap the dough but don't separate it. Place the dough in one piece on a flat surface. In order, sprinkle with the cinnamon, orange zest, and raisins. Press gently into the dough.

Starting with one long end, roll up the dough jelly-roll style, making a log about 12 inches long. Using a serrated knife, cut crosswise into 12 slices. Place the dough slices about 1 inch apart on a nonstick baking sheet. Using the palm of your hand, gently press down on each roll to slightly flatten.

Bake for 10 to 11 minutes, or until just beginning to turn golden.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the confectioners' sugar and milk until well blended. Spoon over the rolls as soon as they are removed from the oven.

Country Style Breakfast Casserole

I was looking for something for Christmas morning. I have usually made the strata with eggs & bread. Looking for something a little bit lighter. This recipe came from the American Heart Association Cookbook. It was good, not a TON of flavor but good. It was better the 2nd day. We also added some salsa to our individual servings that made it even better as well.

Country Style Breakfast Casserole
serves 10

Vegetable oil spray
8 oz. low-fat smoked link sausage
2 TBSP. maple syrup
2 lbs. frozen country-style hashbrowns (no oil added)
2 cups fat-free milk
Egg substitute equivalent to 6 eggs, or large eggs
2 1 oz. slices fat free or low fat American cheese, diced
1/4 cup shredded or grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 TBSP finely snipped green onions (green part only) - optional

Preheat the oven to 350. Lightly spray a 13X9X2 inch baking pan with vegetable oil spray.

Heat a medium skilled over medium-high heat. Cook the sausage for 3 to 4 minutes, or until browned, turning occasionally. Remove from the skillet and cut into bite-size pieces. Wipe the skillet with a paper towel. Return the sausage to the skillet.

Add the maple syrup to the sausage. Cook for 1 minute, stirring to coat. Arrange in a single layer in the baking pan.

Top the sausage with the frozen hash browns.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients except the green onions. Pour over the hash browns.

Bake for 1 hour or until the center is set - doesn't jiggle when gently shaken. (I ended up baking about 1 hr. 15 minutes). Sprinkle the green onions over the casserole. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Chicken Basil Calzones

This recipe came from a Cooking Light website. It fits the bill if you want something 'pizza'y' but a bit lighter. Great served with a salad.

2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb. ground chicken (I'll bet turkey would work as well)
3/4 cup pizza sauce (I used a whole jar)
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/4 chopped fresh basil
1 can (13.8 oz) pizza dough
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella

Preheat Oven to 425.

Heat a large non stick skillet over medium high heat. Coat with cooking spray. Add garlic and chicken to the pan. Saute 5 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink, stirring to crumble. Stir in pizza sauce and pepper. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Stir occasionally. Remove from heat. Add basil. Let sit for 10 minutes.

Unroll dough on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray, cut into quarters. Put each portion into a 8X6 rectangle. Divide the chicken and spoon onto the rectangles. Top with 2 TBSP cheese. Fold dough. Pinch edges.

Bake at 425 for 12 minutes or until golden brown.

Quick Chicken & Wine

I was digging for a dish to use some of a bottle of white wine I had opened. This seemed to fit the bill. We enjoyed it for a week night meal. I found this recipe on Le Petit Pierogi's blog.

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut into strips
(I used 2 chicken breasts and pounded them thin...did not cut into strips)
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (I don't measure anything when I cook, but I'm positive I used more than 1/2 cup of Parmesean. I used more like 1/2 c. per breast)
1 pinch salt
1 pinch ground black pepper
1/2 cup white wine (I used a Chardonnay)
4 tablespoons butter

Make sure chicken is VERY dry before starting...otherwise the breading won't stick. Additionally, I coated my chicken with flour before proceeding which also helped the cheese stick.
Season chicken with salt and pepper to taste. In a shallow plate, spread Parmesan cheese. Divide chicken into three parts and dip seasoned and floured chicken in eggs, then coat well with Parmesan cheese. Repeat until all of the chicken pieces are well coated. In a skillet, melt butter or margarine over medium high heat. Cook chicken, stirring frequently, until golden brown. Reduce heat and add wine. Cover and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.
You could very easily serve as is.
However, I then took the chicken breasts out, put on a baking dish (sprayed with non-stick spray) and spread panko bread crumbs over the top. I then put the chicken in a 450 degree oven for about 5-10 minutes until browed. It gave the chicken a nice crunch. I then drizzled the remaining butter from the skillet over the top of the chicken.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Cutout Sugar Cookies

I asked my new husband what's the one Christmas cookie he'd like this year. He said the cut outs with icing & sprinkles. Easy enough. I searched and searched for which recipe I'd like to use ~ this one seemed the easiest. I found it on Annie's Eats and the frosting on Amber's Delectable Delights. Pretty easy recipes and I liked the way they turned out.

Ella’s White Sugar Cookies
1 cup butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 ½ t. almond extract
1 t. vanilla
1 t. salt
2 ½ c. sifted flour

Cream butter. Add powdered sugar. Blend in egg, almond extract, vanilla, salt and flour. Chill dough until firm. Roll to ¼” thickness on well-floured surface. Cut with cookie cutters. Place on greased cookie sheets. Bake at 375° for 8-10 min. Cookies should not brown. Frost and decorate when cool. Yields ~40 cookies.

Milk Frosting
1 cup powdered (confectioners') sugar
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons milk
Food coloring of your choice
Directions: In a small bowl, combine powdered sugar, lemon extract, and enough milk to make frosting easy to spread. Tint, if desired, with a few drops of food coloring.

I would try this recipe next time, as my co-worker makes them for us all of the time. They are really good! Thanks for Mary Jane McCarrick for the recipe!

1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup shortning(butter crisco)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2/3 teaspoon vanilla
2-1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder

Cream butter, shortning together, add sugar and eggs, mix well. Add vanilla, then flour, salt and baking powder. Mix well. Put inrefrigerater about 1 hour. Roll dough on floured surface and cut withcookie cutters about 1/4 inch thick. Bake @ 400 degrees for 10-12minutes until just slightly brown on bottom. Remove from tray and ice immediately to achieve hard coat effect, decorate with sprinkles etc.

6 oz. powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
3 tablespoon butter(softened)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Food coloring if desired

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Chicken Francese

Loving easy, week night, chicken dishes ~ I found this one on Le Petit Pierogi. It tastes rather gourmet but was very easy. And who can resist opening a bottle of wine mid-week.

2 boneless skinlesses breasts, pounded thin
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 large egg
1 TBSP milk
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine
2-3 TBSP fresh lemon juice - juice of 1 lemon
3 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
3 TBSP butter
1 TBSP chopped fresh parsley
lemon wedges

Place chicken cutlets between two sheets of plastic wrap. With a meat pounder, gently pound the slices into 1/4 inch thickness. Make sure the chicken breasts are dry. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and set aside. Put egg into a shallow bowl with 1 TBSP of milk and season with salt and pepper. Beat with a fork or whisk until well blended. Spread flour on a plate. In a seperate bowl, mix the broth, wine and lemon juice. Heat the oil and butter in a skillet into sizzling. Dip cutlets into egg mixture, into flour and then again into egg mixture. Place in a skillet. Cook 3-4 minutes per side until golden brown. Transfer chicken to a plate and keep warm. When all of the chicken has been cooked, add the broth mixture to the pan. Raise the heat and cook, stirring until the sauce is slightly thickened. Stir in the parsley. Return the chicken cutlets to the skillet and turn them over once or twice in the sauce. Serve immediately with lemon wedges.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


This is one of my favorite thing~ I've used this recipe for tailgates and gatherings. It always gets good reviews. Plus, I always feel proud I made my own bread. So many ways to play with the recipes with the add-ins.

3 Cups Flour
1 package dry yeast
2 TBSP sugar
2 TBSP oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk
1 egg

Heat milk, water and oil until warm. Mix 1 1/4 cup flour, dry yeast, sugar, salt and egg. Add to warm mixture. Stir. Add remaining flour. Turn onto floured surface and knead for minutes a couple minutes. Put in a warm greased bowl and cover. Let rise for 1 hour.

After an hour roll into a rectangular shape.

1/4 lb. baked chipped ham
1/4 lb. hot pepper cheese (if you don't like hot, use mozzarella)
1/4 lb. hard salami
1/2 cup chopped green peppers and onions
1/4 lb. pepperoni
1/4 lb. provolone cheese

Layer down the middle of the dough. Sometimes I cut the meat and cheese in strips, other times I've just layered them - both seem to work well. Pull sides together so there is no opening. Flip onto a cookie sheet. Cut a couple slits in the top of the stromboli.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.
Cut in pieces. Serve with marinara.

Peppermint Mocha Cupcakes

I was looking for something sweet to eat & have been loving making cupcakes. Could it be that I was given a great cupcake holder for my wedding shower?? When I saw this recipe on this blog - I had to make it. I really like these ~~ the icing was great. Glad to have found this recipe.

Mocha Cupcakes
adapted from Taste of Home
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup baking cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup cold brewed coffee
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 teaspoons cider vinegar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a small mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, coffee, oil, vinegar and vanilla. Add to dry ingredients; mix well.

Fill paper-lined muffin cups three-fourths full. Bake at 350° for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool.

Peppermint Frosting
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 teaspoons peppermint extract (You could decrease this to 1 tsp for more subtle peppermint flavor)
1 box (16 ounces) confectioners' sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons milk
4 candy canes crushed

Beat butter in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add Peppermint Extract; mix well.

Gradually beat in confectioners' sugar, beating until well blended after each addition, frequently scraping sides and bottom of bowl.

Add milk; beat until light and fluffy. If frosting is too thick to spread, gradually beat in additional milk. Last, add in crushed peppermint bits. Store in refrigerator up to 2 weeks. Rewhip before using.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Classic Coleslaw

I made this coleslaw to serve with pulled pork. It was pretty good. It was also a groundbreaking day as I realized that the food processor was a great tool to shred cabbage.

1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup sugar
4 cups shredded cabbage
1/3 cup reduced fat mayonaise
2 TBSP apple cider vinegar (or more to taste)
salt & pepper

Put onions in a mesh stainer and rinse well with cold water.
Drain completely, then put in a large bowl with the sugar. Let stand 20 minutes.
Add the cabbage, mayonaise, and vinegar. Mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Pulled Pork

One of my favorite things - pulled pork. We made it one day for a Steeler game - the Steelers won that day so it will become part of our game day rotation.

2 lbs boneless pork butt
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
1 TBSP hot sauce

3/4 cup ketchup
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp smoke-flavored salt (I didn't have this so I used a couple drops of liquid smoke)
1 TBSP apple cider vinegar

Cut the piece of pork into 2 or 3 equal sized pieces.
Whisk together the ingredients for the marinade, and rub into the pork.
Let set in the marinade overnight.

In morning, mix together the ingredients for the sauce, adjusting amounts of sugar and vinegar depending on your preference for sweet or tangy sauce.

Put the pork and the marinade in the slow cooker and pour the sauce over it.

Cook on low for about 8 hours, then shred with two forks and cook another hour.

Served with coleslaw.

Slow Cooker Carnitas

After our honeymoon, I was in the mood for all things mexican/taco. I dug around for a recipe for good pork tacos. This recipe was dug up from So, not quite as good as in Mexico - but that may be the missing ambience of the seaside grill. But a good recipe to feed a crowd. It got good reviews.

1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 teaspoon crumbled dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 (4lb) boneless pork shoulder roast
2 bay leaves
2 cups chicken broth (I used 1 cup beer, 1 chicken broth)

(I tripled the spices, except for the cinnamon which I only doubled)

Mix together salt, garlic powder, cumin, oregano, coriander and cinnamon in a bowl. Coat pork with the spice mixture. Place the bay leaves in the bottom of a slow cooker and place the pork on top. Pou the chicken broth/beer around the sides of the pork, being careful not to rinse off the spice mixture.

Cover and cook on Low until the pork shreds easily with a fork, about 10 hours. If there, turn the meat over after it has cooked for 5 hours. When the pork is tender, remove from slow cooker, and shred.

With a little help from my friend Lucas, we used the liquid & reduced & spiced it up a bit - adding brown sugar and a bit of chili sauce.

Served with tortillas, salsa, cheese. Sauteed up some veggies - red and green peppers & onions.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Basic Blondie Brownies

My friend Chrissy requested blondies. Request and she shall receive for her birthday! I am taking them to her tomorrow. I hope that she gives them a thumbs up!

6-7 TBSP butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder

**Any add-in's - see below

Preheat oven to 350.
Line an 8X8 pan with foil and lightly spray with PAM.
In a large microwave safe bowl, melt the butter. Allow to cool for 5 minutes. Mix the brown sugar with the melted butter and beat until smooth. Beat in egg and then vanilla. Add salt, stir in flour and baking powder. Mix in any additions.

Pour into prepared pan and used a greased spatula to even spread mixture in pan and level the top. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until set in the middle. Cool on rack before cutting.

**Various Add in ideas~
~1/2 to 1 cup chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, white chocolate or butterscotch chips
(I made these with 1 cup - 1/2 butterscotch chips & 1/2 white chocolate chips)
~1/2 cup chopped pecans, walnut, almonds
~1/2 cup M&M candies, 1/2 chopped Reese PB cups
~1/4 cup toffee pieces
~1/2 tsp. mint extract in addition to or in place of vanilla extract

Buffalo Chicken & Dip

Another Rachel Ray ~~ True confession on this project this evening - I accidently knocked 1/2 a sauce pan off of the stove & STILL finished this meal in 30 minutes or less... including clean up!! Beat that Rachel! Never mind the smell of hotsauce bound to fill our home for .... hmmm, days.

So - this quick little number served it's purpose of something good & easy. I served with some frozen fries. Could probably also be used as the chicken for a buffalo chicken salad.

1 lb, skinless, boneless chicken breat, cut into 4 by 12 inch strips
Salt and pepper
4 TBSP butter
5 TBSP hot pepper sauce, I used Frank's Red Hot
1 TBSP white wine or cider vinegar

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sour cream
1 tsp. worcestershire sauce
1 oz. blue cheese, about 1/4 cup ( I just threw in come crumbles)

Preheat broiler. Season chicken pieces generously with salt and pepper.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Whisk in the hot pepper sauce and vinegar. On a broiler pan or baking sheet, toss the chicken strips with half the hot sauce mixture. Broil the chicken, turning once, until tender and just golden. I did 5 minutes on each side - Rachel recommends 7 to 9 minutes. Remove from the oven and pour the remaining sauce over the chicken; set aside.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, sour cream and worcestershire sauce. I used light versions of mayo & sour cream. Stir in the blue cheese.

Serve with chicken & celery sticks.

The Sweet 100 - How Sweet is Your Sweet Tooth??

The Sweet 100 - How Sweet is Your Sweet Tooth?
Taken from Ema's Edible Experiments
Sweet 100

How the Sweet 100 Works:
1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.3
) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.

1. Red Velvet Cake
2. Princess Torte
3. Whoopie Pie
4. Apple Pie either topped or baked with sharp cheddar
5. Beignet
6. Baklava
7. Black and White Cookie
8. Seven Layer Bar (also known as the Magic Bar or Hello Dolly bars)
9. Fried Fruit pie (sometimes called hand pies)1
10. Kringle
11. Just-fried (still hot) doughnut
12. Scone with clotte cream
13. Betty, Grunt, Slump, Buckle or Pandowdy
14. Halvah
15. Macaroons
16. Banana Pudding with nilla wafers
17. Bubble tea (with tapioca “pearls”)
18. Dixie Cup
19. Rice Krispie treats
20. Alfajores
21. Blondies
22. Croquembouche
23. Girl Scout cookies
24. Moon cake
25. Candy Apple
26. Baked Alaska2
27. Brooklyn Egg Cream
28. Nanaimo bar2
9. Baba au rhum
30. King Cake
31. Sachertorte
32. Pavolva
33. Tres Leches Cake
34. Trifle
35. Shoofly Pie
36. Key Lime Pie (made with real key lime)
37. Panna Cotta
38. New York Cheesecake
39. Napoleon/mille-fueille
40. Russian Tea Cake/Mexican Wedding Cake
41. Anzac Biscuits
42. Pizzelle
43. Kolache
44. Buckeyes
45. Malasadas
46. Moon Pie
47. Dutch Baby
48. Boston Cream Pie
49. Homemade chocolate chip cookies
50. Pralines
51. Gooey butter cake
52. Rusks
53. Daifuku
54. Green tea cake or cookies
55. Cupcakes from a cupcake shop
56. Creme Brulee
57. Some sort of deep fried fair food (twinkie, candy bar, cupcake)
58. Yellow cake with chocolate frosting
59. Jelly Roll
60. Pop Tarts
61. Charlotte Russe
62. An “upside down” dessert (Pineapple upside down cake or Tarte Tatin)
63. Hummingbird Cake
64. Jell-O from a mold
65. Black forest cake
66. Mock Apple Pie (Ritz Cracker Pie)
67. Kulfi
68. Linzer torte
69. Churro
70. Stollen
71. Angel Food Cake
72. Mincemeat pie
73. Concha
74. Opera Cake
75. Sfogliatelle / Lobster tail
76. Pain au chocolat
77. A piece of Gingerbread House
78. Cassata
79. Cannoli8
80. Rainbow cookies
81. Religieuse
82. Petits fours
83. Chocolate Souffle
84. Bienenstich (Bee Sting Cake)
85. Rugelach
86. Hamenstashen
87. Homemade marshmallows8
8. Rigo Janci
89. Pie or cake made with candy bar flavors (Snickers pie, Reeses pie, etc)
90. Divinity
91. Coke or Cola cake
92. Gateau Basque
93. S’mores
94. Figgy Pudding
95. Bananas foster or other flaming dessert
96. Joe Froggers
97. Sables
98.Millionaire’s Shortbread
99. Animal crackers
100. Basbousa

38 out of 100 - so much goodness left to try!!