Saturday, December 29, 2007

Double Chocolate Mocha Brownie Trifle

Man oh Man! This dessert is so yummy! If you like brownies and will love this! This recipe comes from Pampered Chef. It is very simple to whip together and tastes great the next day too. Also, it serves alot of people which is always a good thing for parties!
What You'll Need:
1 package brownie mix
1 3/4 cups cold milk
2 packages white chocolate instant pudding
1/4 cup warm water
4 teaspoons instant coffee granules
2 cups thawed frozen whipped topping
3 toffee bars (or buy toffee bits)
What You'll Do:
Lightly spray 9" X 13" pan with vegetable oil. Prep and bake brownie mix according to cake-like package directions. (This usually means adding an extra egg.) Cool completely.

Whisk pudding mix into milk until mixture begins to thicken. Dissolve coffee granules in warm water; add to pudding mixture, mixing well. Fold in whipped topping.
Cut brownies into 1-inch cubes. Chop toffee bars. Layer 1/3 of brownie cubes onto bottom of trifle bowl. Top with 1/3 of pudding mixture, pressing lightly, and 1/3 of shopped toffee. Repeat layers two more times. Chill at least 30 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

White Chip Chocolate Cookies

This recipe was given to me by Bridellie on It comes from She described these cookies as the best and easiest she had ever made, and I think I must agree! I had all of the ingredients needed, so no special trip to the store was necessary. I undercooked them just a bit because I like cookies to be a little gooey inside and chewy on the outside. This recipe makes over 50 I only baked half and left the other half of the dough in the fridge to bake later. Anyway, is there really anything better than a spoonful of cookie dough? I think not!
What You'll Need:
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 2/3 cups white chocolate chips
What You'll Do:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth.
Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla.
Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; stir into the creamed mixture.
Fold in the white chocolate chips. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, until cookies are set.
Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Lasagne with Bechamel and Ragu

I combined several different lasagna recipes to come up with this one. I much prefer a lasagna with a bechemel sauce rather than one with ricotta and cottage cheese. It is much creamier and is more authentic Itlaian in my opinion. In the past, I have made homemade meat sauce for lasagna, but in this one I just used some ground round and a jar of tomato sauce (I like Bertolli Organic, Olive Oil, Basil and Garlic) to make it much faster and easier. The pictures above show the steps involved (layer of noodles with bechemel, layer of meat sauce, layer of cheese) but I forgot to take a picture of it after it was cooked. Oops! This lasagna can be made ahead of time and refrigerated or even frozen. It makes alot so it's great for a large group too!
What You'll Need:
12 lasagne noodles
1 Lb. ground round
1 jar good tomato sauce
2-3 Tbs. white wine
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup flour
2 cups milk
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 1/2 cups grated parmesean
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
More salt & pepper, to taste
Butter, oil, or spray to coat dish
What You'll Do:
Set at least 5 quarts of water in a large pot over high heat. When it comes to a boil, salt it. Cook lasagne noodles for about 5 minutes. They should be underdone...they will finish cooking in the oven. You do not want them to be mushy. Drain the noodles, then spread them out and allow to rest on paper towels while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
To make the meat sauce: Cook meat over medium until browned. Drain. Add tomato sauce to the meat. Pour the white wine into the jar, swish, and pour into pot. Simmer for about 10 minutes.
To make the Bechamel: In medium saucepan, melt butter over med-lo heat. Whisk in flour and cook for 2 minutes until smooth and golden. Whisk in milk, broth, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. The sauce should be thick enough to cover the back of a will thicken more as it sits.
To assemble: Prepare glass casserole dish by smearing some butter, oil, or spray on the bottom. Place a layer of noodles (3 noodles if you are using a 9 X 13 dish) , touching but not overlapping. Cover the noodles with about 1/4 each of the bechamel, meat sauce, mozzarella, parmesean, and a sprinkling of black pepper (also salt if you feel it needs more). Make four layers, ending with parmesean. (Make sure no noodles are left on top without being completely covered in sauces and cheeses or they will get hard on the edges.)
Bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees, until lasagne is bubbly. Let rest for 5 minutes before cutting and serving.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Lemon Squares

This recipe was suggested to me by Katie
on the What's Cooking Board on It comes from the Williams Sonoma Collection Series, Dessert. These are probably the most declicious lemon bars I've ever eaten! They are very lemony and tart. One bar is the perfect ending to any dinner!

What You'll Need:
For the crust:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
8 Tbs. (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

For the filling:
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
3 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
3 Tbs. heavy cream

Confectioners’ sugar for dusting (optional)

What You'll Do:
To make the crust, preheat an oven to 350°F. Lightly grease an 8-inch square baking dish, preferably glass. In a food processor, combine the flour, granulated sugar, salt and cinnamon. Pulse briefly until blended. Add the butter and pulse until the dough forms moist crumbs and sticks together when pinched, about 1 minute. There should be no trace of dryness. Press the dough into the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of the prepared baking dish, lightly flouring your fingertips if necessary to prevent them from sticking. Bake the crust until pale golden, 20 to 22 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the crust cool completely.

Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.

To make the filling, in a bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, flour, salt and lemon zest. Add the eggs, lemon juice and cream and whisk until just blended. Carefully pour the mixture over the baked crust.

Bake until the filling is set but still jiggles slightly when the dish is gently shaken, about 20 minutes, or longer if using a metal pan. Transfer the pan to the wire rack and let cool for about 30 minutes.

Run the tip of a small knife along the inside of the dish to loosen the crust from the sides, then let cool completely.

Cut into 12 small rectangles. Using a spatula, carefully remove the bars from the dish. Just before serving, sift a dusting of confectioners sugar over the bars. Makes 12 bar cookies.

Taco Chili

Taco Soup is so good when it's cold outside. And, I love the fact that I usually have all the ingredients on hand and can just throw it all together in a matter of minutes. You can let it cook in a crock pot for hours or just cook it on the stove for about 30 minutes. I serve it with sour cream, shredded cheese and fritos.
What You'll Need:
1 lb. ground beef (I use round)
1 onion, chopped
1 can chili beans
1 can black beans
1 can kidney beans
1 can corn, drained
1 can rotel
1 can diced tomatoes
1 pkg. taco seasoning
1 pkg. ranch dressing mix
What You'll Do:
Sautee the onion in a little oil.
Add the meat and brown.
Drain the meat.
Add all other ingredients and cook on Med to Med-Hi for about 30 minutes.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage

This recipe makes alot! This is a great dish to make for a crowd and it freezes well too. The sausage gives it great flavor... and, of course, all that cheese makes it so delicious! The tomato sauce couldn't be easier to throw together and can be made days in advance, if needed. I found this recipe on

What You'll Need:
(For the tomato sauce)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound sweet and or spicy Italian sausages, casing removed and crumbled
1/4 medium onion, diced (about 3 tablespoons)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 1/2 cups whole, peeled, canned tomatoes in puree, (one 28-ounce can), roughly chopped
Sprig fresh thyme
Sprig fresh basil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
(For the Rest)
1 pound dried ziti pasta
Kosher salt
1 pound fresh mozzarella, half cut into 1/2-inch cubes and half thinly sliced
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch red pepper flakes

What you'll Do:
Pasta: Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt generously, and boil the pasta until al dente, tender but still slightly firm. Drain.
Sauce: Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook the sausage until beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Add the onion and garlic, stirring, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes more.
Add the tomatoes and the herb sprigs and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Remove and discard the herb sprigs. Stir in the salt and season with pepper, to taste. Use now or store covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 2 months.

Toss the cooked pasta with the marinara sauce, cubed mozzarella, half the Parmesan cheese, black pepper, and pepper flakes. Transfer the pasta to an oiled 9 by 13-inch baking dish. Cover the top of the pasta with the sliced mozzarella, and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan. Bake until lightly browned and hot, about 30 minutes. Serve immediately.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Tuscan Pasta with Basil Cream

The name of this pasta makes it sound much fancier than it really is! In fact, it uses a jar sauce and pre-made ravioli. So, it's great for a quick week-night dinner when you are tired and hungry. You pretty much just throw everything together and warm through...and, presto, dinner is served!

What You'll Need:
1 (20 oz) package refrigerated 4-cheese ravioli (I use Buotini)
1 (16 oz) jar Sun-Dried Tomato Alfredo sauce
2 Tbs. white wine
2 medium fresh tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh Basil
1/3 cup Parmesean Cheese

What you'll Do:
Prepare pasta according to package directions
Pour alfredo sauce into saucepan. Pour white wine into jar, shake, and pour into sauce.
Stir in chopped tomatoes and basil.
Cook over med-lo heat for about 5 minutes.
Toss pasta into sauce and top with Parmesean cheese.

Spinach and Feta Stuffed Chicken

I used chicken cutletts for this recipe because that's what I had in the freezer, but I think it would have worked best with chicken breasts that you pound out yourself. This is because the cutletts are much smaller and I wasn't able to put as much filling in. Also, I had to use several picks in each one to get them to stay closed. The next time I make this, I will add salt to the spinach mixture while cooking and I will put more feta cheese inside. They were still really good though!
What You'll Need:
3 cups lightly packed baby spinach (about 4 oz)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp. olive oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheeese
1 tsp. lemon pepper seasoning
1/2 tsp. oregano
What You'll Do:
Preheat oven to 400.
In a saucepan, cook spinach and garlic in olive oil until spinach is tender. Set aside.
Place chicken breasts between 2 pieces of plastic wrap and pound with a mallet to 1/4 inch thickness.
Spoon one-quarter of the spinach mixture down the center of each breast. Top with 1 Tbsp. of the feta.
Fold in long sides and roll up from a short end. Secure with picks.
Brush rolled-up breasts with some olive oil and sprinkle on the lemon pepper and oregano.
Bake for 20 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Top with chopped parsley and additional feta, if desired.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Roasted Fish with Cherry Tomatoes and Capers

This recipe originally called for Flounder, but I used Tilapia. I think it would also be good with Grouper or any other white fish. The cherry tomatoes are so good...they get sweet and juicy, and go very nicely with the capers and balsamic vinegar.

What You'll Need:
3-6 Fish Fillets
30 Cherry Tomatoes
6 Garlic Cloves, skin on and crushed
3 Tbs. Capers, rinsed and drained
2 Tbs. Balsamic Vinegar
3 Tbsp. EVOO
1/4 Tsp. Salt
1/8 Tsp. Pepper
1 Tsp. Dried Thyme

What You'll Do:
Make a marinade out of the vinegar, oil, salt, and pepper. Put the tomatoes, garlic, and capers into the marinade and gently mix.
Pour onto a baking sheet and roast for about 10 minutes on 400 degrees. You should start to see the tomatoes split open.
Add fish, resting on top of tomatoes.
Season fish with more salt and pepper. Drizzle on some EVOO and sprinkle on the thyme.
Bake for another 10 minutes or so, until fish is done and flaky.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Double Layer Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

Wow! This pie is a winner! It tastes just like a Reeses Peanut Butter Cup! If you love peanut butter and chocolate...this pie is a must-try. I'll warn you is so rich, I couldn't even finish my entire piece. And that never happens! (Tip: I used the larger sized graham cracker crust that holds more filling. I think the regular size would have been too small.) This recipe came from

What You'll Need:
1/2 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 tablespoon cold milk
1 cup peanut butter
1 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 (9 inch) prepared graham cracker crust
2 (3.9 ounce) packages instant chocolate pudding mix
2 cups cold milk
4 peanut butter cups, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

What You'll Do:
In a large bowl, mix cream cheese, sugar, 1 tablespoon milk and peanut butter until smooth. Gently stir in 1 1/2 cups of whipped topping.
Spread mixture on bottom of pie crust.
In a second bowl, stir pudding mix with 2 cups milk until thick.
Immediately stir in remaining whipped topping.
Spread mixture over peanut butter layer.
Scatter peanut butter cups over top of pie.
Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours.

Harvest Salad

This salad reminds me of Fall and Thanksgiving for some reason. It has so many yummy things in it, and the dressing is different than most because of all the fresh basil in it. It is a sweeter dressing, so if don't like sweet, you may want to put less sugar than called for.

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup cider vinegar (more or less to taste)
2 cloves garlic
1 package fresh basil, chopped or torn
Salt & Pepper to taste

Romaine Lettuce
Bacon, crumbled
pples, very thinly sliced
Craisins, large handful
Pecans, broken into pieces
Blue Cheese, crumbled

Mix everything together just before serving.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Chicken Piccata

This is one of my absolute favorite chicken dishes. This recipe comes from Giada on Food Network. If you like butter, lemon and capers, you will love this! I use chicken cutlettes when I make this, but you can just butterfly regular breasts if that's what you have. Also, I usually leave off the parsley just because I usually don't have any in the's still great without it.

What You'll Need:
2 skinless and boneless chicken breasts, butterflied and then cut in half
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
All-purpose flour, for dredging
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup brined capers, rinsed
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped

What You'll Do:
Season chicken with salt and pepper.
Dredge chicken in flour and shake off excess.
In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter with 3 tablespoons olive oil.
When butter and oil start to sizzle, add 2 pieces of chicken and cook for 3 minutes. When chicken is browned, flip and cook other side for 3 minutes. Remove and transfer to plate. Melt 2 more tablespoons butter and add another 2 tablespoons olive oil. When butter and oil start to sizzle, add the other 2 pieces of chicken and brown both sides in same manner. Remove pan from heat and add chicken to the plate.
Into the pan add the lemon juice, stock and capers. Return to stove and bring to boil, scraping up brown bits from the pan for extra flavor. Check for seasoning.
Return all the chicken to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove chicken to platter.
Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter to sauce and whisk vigorously.
Pour sauce over chicken and garnish with parsley.

Zesty Corn Quesadillas

These corn quesadillas make a great appetizer for a party or a side dish with dinner. With only 4 ingredients, they are quick and simple. You probably already have everything you need to make them! Just make sure you drain the corn well and try to use a chunkier salsa that does not have much liquid. I serve them with a dollup of sour cream and a squeeze of lime. Cilantro would be great too...and you could add some chopped, cooked chicken to the mix for a main dish.
What you'll Need:
1 can Corn, drained
1/4 cup Salsa
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
4 Tortillas (I use the soft taco size)
What You'll Do:
Heat just a little oil in a pan over Med-Hi.
Add one tortilla to the pan and put corn filling on one side.
Fold over the tortilla and cook.
Flip over and cook other side.
Cheese should be melted and tortilla should be brown on both sides.
Repeat with remaining tortillas and cut into 3 wedges each. You should end up with 12 wedges.

Picante Black Bean Soup

This is my mother's recipe. She makes about three homemade soups every week, and this is one of my favorites. It couldn't be any more simple to make...just cook some bacon, sautee some onions, and then throw the rest in the pot. And, I promise, it tastes better than this picture makes it look! It's great with a loaf of good, crusty bread.
What You'll Need:
4 slices Bacon, diced
1 Onion, chopped
1 clove Garlic, minced
2 (15 oz) cans Black Beans
1 can Beef Broth
1 1/4 cups Water
3/4 cup Pace Picante Sauce
1/2 tsp. Oregano
1/2 tsp. Salt
What you'll Do:
In a heavy pot, brown the bacon and remove.
Sautee the onion until tender.
Add the garlic and sautee just another minute.
Add the bacon back in with all other ingredients and simmer for 30 minutes.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Linguini with Shrimp

This pasta dish is so light and delicious. It's not a typical pasta dish in that it doesn't feel heavy like most. The lemon juice and parsley give it a very fresh taste. It is very simple to make and ready in about 10 minutes. I served it with Ceasar salad and garlic toast.
What You'll Need:
1 lb Linguini
1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. garlic, minced
1/4 cup white wine
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
What You'll Do:
Cook linguini to al dente.
Heat oil and butter in a pan. Sautee garlic making sure that it doesn't brown. Add white wine and simmer for about 2 minutes. Place shrimp in sauce and cook until pink, about 5 minutes. Take off heat and add lemon juice and parsley. Mix linguini with shrimp and sauce. Shave some fresh parmesean on top and add a splash of EVOO if desired.

Turkey Milanese

We love this dish! Even my 8 year old gobbles it up! (No pun intended...haha!) It is very similar to a dish that I had in Italy, only it was made with chicken. Squeezing fresh lemon on top after it's cooked gives it a great finishing touch. I bought turkey cutlets from the store, but if you can't find any, you can always pound out the turkey yourself. Also, it calls for fresh breadcrumbs, but I use the kind from a canister and they are find. Panko bread crumbs would also be good!

What You'll Need:
1 1/2 pounds turkey cutlets (about 1/4-inch thick)
All-purpose flour seasoned with salt and pepper, for dredging
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups fine fresh bread crumbs
1 1/2 cups finely shredded Parmesan
1/4 cup olive oil
What You'll Do:
Pat the turkey cutlets dry and spread seasoned flour on a plate.
In a small shallow bowl, beat eggs lightly and in another small shallow bowl stir together bread crumbs and Parmesan.
Dredge cutlets in flour, shaking off excess, and dip in egg, letting excess drip off.
Coat cutlets with bread crumb mixture and put on a waxed-paper-lined tray.
Chill cutlets 15 minutes.
In a 12-inch non-stick skillet, heat oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Saute cutlets 1 1/2 to 2 minutes on each side, or until golden and just cooked through.
Remove the skillet from heat.
Transfer cutlets with a slotted spatula to paper towels to drain briefly and arrange on plates. Serve with lemon wedges.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Caramel-Pecan Cheesecake Bars

These bars are similar to Turtle Cheesecake. I got the recipe out of Kraft Foods magazine and everyone loved them! They do take some advance planning because they have to cool before adding the topping and then they need to refrigerate at least 4 hours before eating, but they are worth it! Tip: Make sure that you let them cool completely before adding the caramel. I did not do this, and the caramel ended up liquifying a bit a some of the bars got soggy.

What You'll Need:
1 cup Pecan pieces, divided
1 1/2 cups crushed Nilla Wafers (about 50 wafers)
1/2 stick butter, melted
4 (8 oz.) packages Cream cheese, softened
1 cup Sugar
1 cup Sour Cream
3 Tbsp. Flour
1 Tbsp. Vanilla
4 Eggs
24 Kraft Caramels, unwrapped
1 Tbsp. Water
3 squares Baker's Semi-sweet baking chocolate

What You'll Do:
Preheat oven to 325.
Line 9 X 13 baking dish with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides of dish.
Remove 1/2 the pecans and set aside. Finely chop remaining pecans.
Mix wafer crumbs, chopped pecans and butter. Press firmly onto bottom of prepared dish. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Beat cream cheese and sugar in mixer on medium speed until well blended.
Add sour cream, flour, and vanilla. Mix well.
Add eggs one at a time on low speed just until blended.
Pour into crust.
Bake 45 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool competely.
Place caramels and water into microwaveable bowl and microwave on high for 1 minute or until completely melted when stirred.
Pour over cooled cheesecake.
Top with reserved pecans.
Melt chocolate as directed on package and drizzle over cheesecake.
Refrigerate at least 4 hours. Use foil handles to remove from dish before cutting into pieces.

Four Cheese Lasagne

This lasagna is one of the best I've ever had! It is so creamy and cheesy, and is perfect for when you want to go meatless. It tastes a little like homemade mac-n-cheese and definitely falls into the category of comfort food! Sorry I don't have a picture...I had 12 hungry people waiting! Oh yeah, all the kids loved it and even ate seconds! I served this with salad, garlic bread, and prosciutto wrapped asparagus. A couple of tips: Go ahead and splurge on the real Parmesean and grate it really makes a difference. Also, make sure your top layer is cheese and not noodles...the edges of the noodles get too hard when they are on top.

What You'll Need:
12 uncooked Lasagna noodles
15 oz container Ricotta cheese
8 oz shredded Mozzerella cheese
8 oz. shredded Fontina cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmesean cheese
1 Egg
1/4 tsp. Salt
(For the Bechemel Sauce)
1/3 cup Butter
1/3 cup Flour
2 cups Milk
1 cup Chicken broth
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. ground Nutmeg
1/8 tsp. Pepper

What You'll Do:
Cook Noodles about 6 or 7 minutes until almost done. You don't want them mushy!
While noodles are cooking, make the sauce:
In medium saucepan, melt butter over med-lo heat. Whisk in flour and cook for 2 mintues until smooth and golden. Whisk in milk, broth, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Remove from heat.
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Coat a 9 X 13 baking dish with non-stick spray.
Combine Ricotta, Mozzerella, Fontina, Parmesean, Egg, and Salt.
Spread a layer of sauce over bottom of pan. Cover with 3 noodles. Spread layer of cheese mixture over noodles. Repeat until you have 4 layers.
Cover with Foil and bake for 30 minutes.
Remove Foil and bake for another 20 minutes. (You may want to add one last sprinkling of parmesean cheese on the very top to brown before baking the last 20 minutes.)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Chocolate-Hazelnut Smooches

I saw Giada make these on "Everyday Italian" and I just had to try them! I wanted something Halloween-ish to take to a get together, and these cookies reminded me of little witches hats. They were perfect! I am a Nutella freak...I adore that stuff! However, these cookies didn't really end up tasting like Nutella to me. It just made them chocolatey. This recipe makes 36-40 cookies (I ended up with 34).

What You'll Need:
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Nutella
1/2 cup butter, softened (1 stick)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup orange sugar
1 (9-ounce) package of Hershey's kisses, unwrapped

What You'll Do:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In another medium bowl, place the chocolate hazelnut spread, butter, and both sugars. Using a hand mixer, cream the ingredients together, about 3 minutes.
Add the egg and vanilla and blend until incorporated.
Stir in the dry ingredients, just until incorporated.
Shape the cookie dough into walnut-sized balls.
Roll the balls in the orange sugar, pressing to adhere.
Place the cookies on a heavy cookie sheet about 4 inches apart. Bake for 8 minutes.
Remove the cookies from the oven. Quickly place a chocolate kiss in the middle of each cookie. Return the cookies to the oven and bake for another 3 minutes. Cool the cookies on a wire rack.

Pork Chili with Cilantro and Lime

I got this recipe from GroovyGrl on the Nest. She won a chili cook-off with it and I can see why! It is very different from any chili I've ever had, but really good. The pork in it was so tender and the flavor from the cilantro gave it a great, unique taste. It did take quite some time to trim and cut up all the pork, but it was worth it in the end! I used a Boston Butt...the butcher told me that it's the same as a Pork Shoulder. Also, I omitted the scallions just because we don't like them. This chili is so perfect for cold weather...dig in!

What You'll Need:

1/2 pound sliced bacon
4 pound boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes, trimmed of fat
Salt and pepper
1 large white onion, chopped
1 to 2 fresh jalapeno chiles, seeded and chopped
4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano, crumbled
1/3 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
32 ounces Chicken Broth
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
14.5 ounces can tomato puree
2 (19-ounce) cans small red beans, rinsed and drained (I used one can of kidney beans and one can of chili beans)
2 cups frozen Sweet Corn
1 Lime, juiced
1 cup Cilantro, Chopped
1 cup Scallions, sliced thin

What You'll Do:

Cook bacon in a 6 to 8-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, turning, until crisp. Transfer with tongs to paper towels to drain and pour off all but 4 tablespoons fat from pot and reserve the rest. Crumble bacon.
Pat pork dry and season with salt and pepper.
Heat bacon fat over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking.
Brown pork on all sides in about 6 batches without crowding and transfer with a slotted spoon to a plate. If you see the pan is becoming to dry add more reserved bacon fat or vegetable oil.
Add onion and jalapenos and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened.
Add garlic, oregano, chili powder, cumin, and cayenne, then cook, stirring, 1 minute.
Return pork to pot with any juices accumulated on plate and add broth, bacon bits, tomato puree and tomatoes with juice.
Simmer chili, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until pork is very tender, about 2 hours. If Chili is becoming too thick add some water. Stir in beans and corn, bring to a simmer, stirring.
Right before serving finish w/ lime juice and cilantro, and top w/ scallions.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Chicken Scallopini (Macaroni Grill style!)

Our favorite dish at Macaroni Grill is their Chicken Scallopini. I searched online for a recipe, and I was amazed at how much this really did look and taste just like it. If it seems like it contains alot of butter...that's because it does! It takes ALOT of butter to make this dish. The original recipe calls for an entire pound of butter...that right, 4 whole sticks! I actually used a little less than the original recipe calls for and it was still very delicious. Also, remember that this sauce is enough for an entire box (pound) of pasta, so it does make alot. Next time, I will half the recipe because we had a quite a bit left over.

What You'll Need:
4 oz lemon juice
2 oz white wine
4 oz heavy cream
1 lb butter (I used 3/4 lb)
6-8 chicken breasts, pounded thin (I used cutlettes)
2 Tbsp. Olive oil
2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 - 3/4 cup flour
salt and pepper
6 oz pancetta, cooked
12 oz mushrooms, sliced
12 oz artichoke hearts, sliced
1 Tbsp. capers ( I used more because we love them)
1 lb. cappellini (angel hair pasta), cooked
chopped parsley for garnish

What You'll Do:
To make the sauce:
Heat the lemon juice and white wine in a saucepan over medium heat.
Bring to a boil and reduce by one-third.
Add cream and simmer until mixture thickens (3 to 4 minutes).
Slowly add butter until completely incorporated.
Season with salt and pepper.
Remove from heat and keep warm.

To make chicken and pasta:
Cook pasta and drain.
Heat two tablespoons of oil and two tablespoons butter in a large skillet.
Dredge chicken in flour and saute in pan, turning once, until brown and cooked through.
Remove chicken from pan.
Add remaining ingredients to pan.
Heat until mushrooms soften and are cooked.
Add chicken back to pan. (At this point, I cut the chicken into large pieces, but you can leave them whole if you prefer.)

To serve: Place cooked pasta on each plate. Add butter sauce to chicken mixture and toss. Place chicken mixture over pasta. Garnish with parsley.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Greek Turkey Burgers

These burgers are a nice change to regular boring burgers. The oregano and feta give them a great flavor, but I think it's the Tzaziki sauce that makes them great. My friend Sarah (sdkrlm) from the AL board gave me this recipe. I believe it originally came from Racheal Ray. I served them on flatbread with the sauce, tomatoes and baby spring mix lettuce. Next time, I will try Pita bread instead because the tzaziki sauce made the flatbread too soggy. They were still good though!

What You'll Need:
1 lb ground turkey breast
1/2 onion, diced and sauteed
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. steak seasoning
1/4 lb feta cheese
(Tzaziki Sauce)
1 1/2-2 cups plain yogurt
1/2 peeled, seeded cucumber
1-2 tsp. oregano
1 clove garlic, minced
What you'll Do:
Mix together the first 6 ingredients and seperate into 4 patties. Cook on medium to medium-hi for about 6 minutes on each side.
Meanwhile, put the last 4 ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

This soup was so yummy. It reminded me a little of Brunswick Stew, if you've ever had that before...only it is not as thick. It was really easy to make. Since it goes in the crockpot, the recipe calls for 2 uncooked, chopped chicken breasts, but I used a rotissere chicken from the store and just shredded the breast meat (thank you, RachelJohnson from the AL board, for this great idea!) Since I added cooked chicken, I turned the crockpot on low and cooked it for about 5 hours. I found this recipe on BMK's blog and it is originally from the Southern Living Slow Cooker Cookbook.

What You'll Need:
2 skinned and boneless chicken breasts, cubed
1 10 oz package frozen whole kernel corn, thawed
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, pressed
2 14 oz cans chicken broth
1 10 ½ oz can tomato puree
1 10 oz can diced tomatoes and green chiles
¾ tsp salt
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1 bay leaf

What You'll Do:
Combine all in crockpot. Cover and cook on High 6 hours. Remove and discard bay leaf.
Serve with sour cream, tortilla chips and garnish with fresh cilantro.

Friday, September 28, 2007

White Chicken Chili

This is one of our favorite chilis for Fall and Winter. It's perfect to make when you need something quick and yummy. If you plan ahead of time, you can throw everything in the crockpot and the work is done for you. But if you plan last minute, you can cook in on the stove just as easily. It's best served with tortilla chips, sour cream, and shredded Mexican cheese. My husband likes sliced jalapenos in his too.

What You'll Need:
3 cooked and shredded chicken breasts
2 cans chicken broth
2 cans White Northern Beans
1 can chopped green chilis
1 packet Country gravy mix
2 tsp. cumin
1 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil
1 onion, chopped

What You'll Do:
Easy Method: Throw everything into a crockpot and let it cook on low for 4 hours or on high for 2 hours.
Or, cook on stove:
Put Vegetable oil in pot on Medium. A minute later, add onion and saute. Add green chilis and cumin and stir. Add all other ingredients and cook on Medium for about 45 minutes until it has thickened.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Broiled Parmesean Tilapia

This fish looks and tastes much better than it does in my pictures! Trust me! It was so easy to make, and even my 8 year old daughter gobbled it down and asked for seconds! I served it with a tomato/cucumber salad and some veggie rice.
What You'll Need:
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
What You'll Do:
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.

Pumpkin Bars

I always crave desserts with Pumpkin in them once Fall rolls around and this year was no exception! This recipe come from Paula Dean...I just LOVE her! Not sure why they are called "bars" because it's really more like a cake, but very good nonetheless. It is very moist and the cream cheese icing is so delicious.

What You'll Need:
For the Bars:
4 eggs
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
15-ounce can pumpkin
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
For the icing:
8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

What You'll Do:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Using an electric mixer at medium speed, combine the eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin until light and fluffy.
Stir together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda.
Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and mix at low speed until thoroughly combined and the batter is smooth.
Spread the batter into a greased 13 by 10-inch baking pan.
Bake for 30 minutes.
Let cool completely before frosting. Cut into bars.

To make the icing: Combine the cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until smooth.
Add the sugar and mix at low speed until combined.
Stir in the vanilla and mix again.
Spread on cooled pumpkin bars.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Bolegnese Spaghetti Sauce

This sauce is very meaty and creamy. It has quite a few ingredients and takes a good 2-3 hours to cook, but it is so worth it! It also makes alot, so I ended up freezing about half of it. I started with a recipe out of my favorite cookbook, "How To Cook Everything" by Mark Bittman, but I ended up making it my own by adding extra ingredients and by using a food processor for a smoother consistency with the veggies. Seved with a ceasar salad and crescent rolls, this meal is hearty and filling!
What You'll Need:
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, minced
1 carrot, peeled and minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 celery stalk, minced
3-4 slices bacon or pancetta, minced
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1 cup mushroooms, chopped
1 lb. ground beef
1 (28 oz.) can whole plum tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
1 cup beef broth
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried basil
Salt and Freshly ground pepper
Handful of fresh Italian parsley, chopped
1 cup heavy cream
Freshly grated parmesean cheese
What You'll Do:
Put the olive oil in a large, deep saucepan. Turn the heat to med-lo and, a minute later, add the onion, garlic, celery, carrot, peppers, bacon, and mushrooms. Cook for about 10 minutes or until the veggies are tender.
At this point, I put all the veggies in a food processor to make them more smooth. Just a few doesn't take much. You don't want them pureed.
Put the veggies back into the pot and add the meat. Cook until meat is no longer pink...about 5 minutes. Add the oregano, basil, and some salt and pepper.
Add the juice from the tomatoes and the bay leaf. Cook for about 5 minutes until most of the liquid is evaporated.
Crush the tomatoes with a fork or your hands and add them to the pot. Stir in the tomato paste. Add the beef broth and cook on low for about one hour. Stir occasionally, to break up the tomatoes and any clumps of meat.
After an hour of cooking, taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
Cook for another hour until much of the liquid is absorbed and the sauce is thick.
Add the cream and cook for about 15 more minutes, stirring occasionally and adding salt and perpper if needed. Add the chopped parsely at the end.
Top with grated parmesean cheese and capers.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Panzanella Salad

I had several ingredients left over from cooking for the week and wanted to use them up. A couple of the creative ladies from the What's Cooking board on the recommended that I make Panzanella Salad. My first thought...What on earth is Panzanella Salad? I looked up recipes for it and instantly knew that I had to try it. Wow! That's all I can say! Wow! It is so yummy. I can't believe I've never had it before. My picture does not do it'll just have to trust me on this and try it for yourself! This particular recipe came from and makes 8 servings. I reduced the amount of ingredients and just made enough for me. I also used black olives instead of green.
What you'll need:
6 cups day old Italian bread, torn into bite-size pieces
1/3 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 medium ripe tomatoes, cut into wedges
3/4 cup sliced red onion
10 basil leaves, shredded
1/2 cup pitted and halved green olives
1 cup fresh mozzarella, cut into bite-size pieces
What you'll do:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
In a large bowl, toss bread with 1/3 cup olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic. Lay bread on a baking sheet, and toast in the preheated oven until golden, about 5 to 10 minutes; allow to cool slightly.
While the bread is in the oven, whisk together 1/4 cup of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Gently toss together the bread, tomatoes, onion, basil, olives, and mozzarella cheese.
Toss with the vinaigrette and let stand for 20 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Caprese Salad

I fell in love with Caprese Salad while in Italy. It's such a fresh, yummy salad...a nice departure from regular every day salads. What makes this salad great, is using deliciously ripe tomatoes and a great extra virgin olive oil. It's best in the summer when tomatoes are at their peak. It also makes a great appetizer if you use cherry tomatoes, cut the mozzerella into smaller bites, and then skewer everything together.

What you'll Need:
Fresh, ripe tomatoes
Fresh Buffalo Mozzerella
Fresh Basil
Salt and Pepper

What you'll Do:
Slice the tomatoes and cheese.
Pull of some basil leaves. (You can leave the leaves whole or tear them apart into smaller pieces.)
Drizzle the EVOO all over the tomatoes, cheese, and basil.
Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.

Creamy Chicken Casserole

This is one of those dishes that just makes you feel good! It makes quite a bit, so it's a great one to take to family gatherings. The inside is smooth and creamy, but the Ritz cracker topping is crunchy and salty. A great combination, if you ask me! I served this dish with mashed potatoes and a caprese salad.
What you'll need:
2 cups cooked chicken (I boil 2-3 breasts and then shred)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
4oz. sour cream
1 stick butter
2 sleeves Ritz crackers
1/2 can water (use soup can)
What you'll do:
Mix soup, chicken, sour cream, and water. Put in 8 inch square casserole dish. Crumble crackers and put on top of chicken mixture. Melt butter and pour on top. Cover and cook for 60 minutes at 300 degrees.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Bacon, Cheese & Potato Chowder

I got this recipe from a Kraft Foods magazine, but I changed it a bit. It's fast and easy because it uses a can of condensed soup, but the hashbrowns and finishing touches make it taste like you made it from scratch! I served it with sour dough bread.

What you'll need:
3 cups Milk
1 can (10 3/4 oz) condensed cream of potato soup
2 cups frozen hashbrown
Salt, to taste (approx. 2 tsp.)
Shredded cheddar cheese
Bacon, crisply cooked and crumbled
Green Onions, thinly sliced
Sour Cream

What you'll do:
Mix milk and soup in large saucepan.
Stir in hashbrowns.
Season with Salt and pepper.
Bring to boil on high heat, stirring occasionally.
Reduce heat to med-lo and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
Top with bacon crumbles, cheddar cheese, green onions, and a dollup of sour cream.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Jazzed Up Vodka Penne with Chicken

This is my version of Vodka Penne. I used a Vodka sauce from the jar, but if you want to make your own that would be even more fabulous! As I was cooking, I just started throwing ingredients into the sauce...whatever looked good to me at the time. I was suprised at how delicious it ended up being! So, use whatever you have in the fridge that you like, and make it your own! *For the black olives, I used some really great oil cured olives that I brought home from Italy. Obviously, you may not have these, so just use good black olives...remove the pitts of course! Just, please, don't use those tasteless little black olive slices from can...just not the same! Also, make sure you always salt the water when boiling pasta. That's really the only chance you have to season the pasta. I served this dish with a fresh artichoke with melted butter for dipping.

What you'll need:
1 jar Bertolli Vodka Sauce (or homemade)
2 chicken breasts, cut into chunks
Olive Oil, for cooking
Penne Pasta (I used about half a box)
Italian Seasoning
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Galic Powder
1/2 jar of sliced mushrooms
2 tsp. capers
Black Olives
Freshly grated Parmesean
EVOO, for drizzling

What you'll do:
Cook Penne until almost done
Season the chicken chunks with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and italian seasoning. Sautee them in some olive oil until no longer pink.
Pour the Vodka Sauce over the chicken.
Add the capers, mushrooms, and olives. Stir to combine and let simmer for about 10 minutes.
Add the (somewhat undercoooked) Penne to the sauce and simmer for another 5 minutes or so until the pasta is "al dente" meaning "to the tooth", firm but not hard....definitley not mushy!
Once you plate the dish, drizzle on some good EVOO and sprinkle fresh parm over the top!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

This recipe was given to me by Mrs.Bowen on the Nest. It is a great, simple way to make BBQ. Cook it low and slow, and you are guaranteed some tender, tasty meat. It's yummy on good buns, and I like mine with baby dill pickles and seasoned fries. The amounts and times do not need to be exact...a little more or less rootbeer/sauce will be fine.

What you'll need:
Pork Tenderloin (I used 1.5 lb)
1 Onion, sliced
Root Beer (enough to cover about half way)
Your favorite BBQ sauce (I used Sticky Fingers North Carolina Sweet mixed with Stubbs Original)

What you'll do:
Cook the tenderloin, root beer, and onion on Low in the crock pot for about 6 hours.
Drain out the juices and rinse out crock pot.
Shred the pork.
Put the pork and onion back in the crockpot and pour your favorite sauce on it.
Stir and cook on Low about another hour.

Turkey with Herbs de Provence and Citrus

I made this turkey for Thanksgiving 2006 and it was a BIG hit! I had never cooked a turky before, so I was a little hesitant, but it turned out beautifully...I was so proud! My family was definitely impressed! This is one of Giada's recipes from the Food Network.

This is what you'll need:
1 (14 to 15-pound) turkey, neck and giblets reserved
1 orange, cut into wedges
1 lemon, cut into wedges
1 onion, cut into wedges
6 fresh rosemary sprigs
6 fresh sage sprigs
6 fresh oregano sprigs
7 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons herbes de Provence
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
6 cups canned low-salt chicken broth (approximate amount)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour

This is what you'll do:
Position the rack in the lowest third of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F.
Rinse the turkey and pat it dry with paper towels. Place the turkey on a rack set inside a large roasting pan.

Place the orange and lemon wedges, onion, and 2 sprigs of each fresh herb in the main turkey cavity.

Tie the legs together to hold the shape of the turkey.

Stir 2 tablespoons of butter, the herbes de Provence, oil, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of each the salt and pepper in a small saucepan over medium heat just until the butter melts.

Rub the butter mixture all over the turkey and between the turkey breast meat and skin.

Place the turkey neck and giblets in roasting pan. (Recipe can be prepared up to this point 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before roasting.)
Cover the turkey breast with foil. Roast for 20 minutes.

Pour 3 cups of broth into the pan and stir to scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the remaining sprigs of fresh herbs to the pan.

Roast the turkey for 40 minutes.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.

Remove the foil from the turkey; pour 1 more cup of broth into the pan.

Continue roasting the turkey until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 degrees F to 175 degrees F or until the juices run clear when the thickest part of the thigh is pierced with a skewer, basting occasionally with pan juices, about 1 hour and 30 minutes longer.

Transfer the turkey to a platter and tent with foil. Let stand 30 minutes while preparing the gravy.

To make the gravy:

Strain the turkey pan juices from the roasting pan through a sieve and into a 4-cup glass measuring cup; discard the solids. Spoon off the fat from atop the pan juices. Add enough chicken broth, about 1 to 2 cups, to the pan juices to measure 4 cups total. Melt the remaining butter in a heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the flour and whisk for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the broth. Simmer until the gravy thickens slightly, whisking often, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve the turkey with the gravy.