Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Spinach Lasagna

If you or your family is a vegetarian - this is a great dish for you! If you are not - it is still a great dish and one of my favorites!

Spinach Lasagna
comes from

2 eggs, beaten
1 container (16 oz) cottage cheese
1 pkg. (10 oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, well drained (you can use fresh spinach if you prefer)
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
½ cup grated parmesan cheese, divided
1 jar (26 oz) spaghetti sauce, divided (I make my own out of two cans crushed tomatoes, 1 can tomato sauce, and 1 package spaghetti mix)
9 lasagna noodles, cooked, drained

Heave oven to 350. Mix eggs, cottage cheese, spinach, 2 cups mozzarella, and ¼ cup parmesan.

Layer 1 cup spaghetti sauce, 3 lasagna noodles, and ½ the cottage cheese mixture in 13x9 baking dish. Repeat layers. Top with remaining noodles, sauce, and cheeses.

Bake 45 minutes or until heated through. Let stand 10 min. before serving.


I made these brownies about every other day when I was pregnant and couldn't get enough of them! They are better than a box I promise!

Best Ever Brownies


½ cup butter

1 cup white sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

½ cup all-purpose flour

¼ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. baking powder

½ bag chocolate chunks (optional for more chocolaty goodness!)


3 TBSP butter, softened

3 TBSP unsweetened cocoa powder

1 TBSP honey

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup confectioners’ sugar


Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour an 8 inch square pan.

In a large saucepan, melt butter. Remove from heat, and stir in sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Beat in cocoa, flour, salt, and baking powder. Spread batter into prepared pan.

Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Do not overcook.

To make frosting: combine butter, cocoa, honey, vanilla, and confectioners’ sugar. Frost brownies while they are still warm.

If you double the recipe – it should cook in about 30 minutes. Put a toothpick about 2 inches from the edge of pan and it should be almost clean. This keeps them fudgy!

Cinnamon Cream Syrup

If you are looking for a homemade syrup - this is fantastic!!!!

Cinnamon Cream Syrup

1 cup sugar

½ cup light corn syrup

¼ cup water

½ tsp. ground cinnamon

½ cup whipping cream (heavy cream)

In a small saucepan, stir together the sugar, corn syrup, water and cinnamon. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil over a moderate heat; boil for two minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in cream. Cool at least 30 minutes. Syrup will thicken as it cools.

Syrup may be refrigerated for several months.

Taco Soup

Taco Soup

1 lb. cooked hamburger
1/4 cup onion
1 can diced tomatoes with juice (14.5 oz)
1 can corn with juice (8.5 oz)
1 can black beans (15 oz)
1 pkg. taco seasoning
1 can tomato paste (6 oz)
1 -3 cups water (depending on how thick you like it – I only do 1)

Cook hamburger and ¼ cup diced onion till hamburger is cooked, then add all ingredients. Simmer with lid for 15 minutes.

Serve with tortilla chips, cheese, sour cream, avocado

Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps

I'm not a huge fan of Asian Cuisine, but this is a FAVORITE at our house. I keep forgetting to take pictures, so I use that excuse to not post, but I will try and do better!

Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps

1 head iceberg lettuce

3 TBSP hoisin sauce

2 TBSP soy sauce

2 TBSP water

5 garlic cloves, minced

2 tsp grated fresh ginger (optional)

2 tsp plus 2 TBSP peanut or vegetable oil

1 LB chicken (about 2 -3 chicken breasts)

Salt and pepper

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 (8-ounce) can water chestnuts, drained and chopped fine

5 scallions, chopped

1 can mushrooms

1 zucchini, diced

Remove 8 large, bowl-shaped leaves from head of lettuce; reserve remaining lettuce for another use. Whisk hoisin sauce, soy sauce, and water together in measuring cup. Combine garlic, ginger, and 2 teaspoons oil in small bowl.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Cook chicken, stirring to break up clumps, until just cooked through, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to bowl.

Add remaining tablespoon oil to skillet and heat until just smoking. Add bell pepper, water chestnuts, and scallions and cook until peppers soften, about 3 minutes. Clear center of skillet, add garlic mixture, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add chicken and sauce and stir until thickened, about 30 seconds. Spoon mixture into lettuce leaves and serve.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Meatballs in Sauce with Creamy Polenta

Maybe this doesn't sound or look good to you, but the picture had me and I had to try it. It was sooo good. Granted, polenta is not the healthiest thing in the world for you, but when we paired it with meatballs (protein), marinara (veggie), and fresh green beans (veggie) on the side cooked in just a little bit of EVOO, it was delicious. The polenta just added a little bit of heavenly texture and you really don't need that much underneath the meatballs. This was a little more time consuming than I anticipated (what with smashing the tomatoes and all - I may just use another homemade marinara next time), so next time I will not do it in the middle of the week. Save it for Sunday.

I found it here.

Meatballs and Marinara Sauce

adapted from Pioneer Woman



  • 3/4 pounds Ground Beef
  • 3/4 pounds Ground Pork
  • 3/4 cups Fine Bread Crumbs
  • 2 whole Eggs
  • 3/4 cups Freshly Grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 cups Flat-leaf Parsley, Minced
  • 1/4 teaspoons Salt
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • Splash Of Milk
  • 1/2 cups Olive Oil


  • 1 whole Yellow Onion, peeled
  • 2 whole (28-ounce) Can Whole Tomatoes
  • 1/4 teaspoons Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Sugar
  • a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/4 cups Flat-leaf Parsley, Minced
  • 8 whole Fresh Basil Leaves, Chiffonade (optional)


Start sauce. Put all the ingredients for the sauce except the fresh herbs (parsley and basil) in a Dutch oven or large pot. Cook for about 45 minutes (or longer…the longer, the better), mashing up the tomatoes with a potato masher or back of the spoon as they cook. Add chopped parsley after sauce has become less chunky and more saucy.

To make the meatballs, combine meat, garlic, breadcrumbs, Parmesan, eggs, salt, pepper, parsley, and a splash of milk in a mixing bowl. Mix together well with hands. Roll into 25 1 1/2-inch balls and place on a cookie sheet. Place cookie sheet into the freezer for 5 to 10 minutes to firm up.

To brown the meatballs, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add meatballs 8 at a time, turning to brown. Once browned on both sides, put in marinara sauce. Continue until all the meatballs are browned and in sauce. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, stirring very gently a couple of times during the simmer.

Just before serving, stir in basil if using.

Serve over polenta (recipe below). Sprinkle with extra Parmesan.


by Tyler Florence

  • 2 cups water or chicken stock
  • 3/4 cups finely ground cornmeal or polenta
  • 1/8 cup heavy cream
  • 1/8 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1.5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Pinch kosher salt

In a large saucepan bring the chicken stock to a slow simmer. Quickly whisk the cornmeal into the stock and lower the temperature to keep it from splattering. Stir in the cream, Parmesan, butter, and salt. Turn off the heat and keep in a warm place until the meatballs are ready.

(Servings: 6 for sauce and meatballs, 2-3 for polenta, Prep time: 45 min., Cook time: 75 min., Difficulty: Easy)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

BLT Pasta

This pasta, I literally could not stop eating it was so good!

BLT Pasta
from my kitchen cafe

*Serves 4-6


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 slices hearty or artisan bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, about 4 cups total (ciabatta loaf)
  • 12 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 pound radiatore pasta (or other small pasta shape)
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 (6 ounce) bag baby spinach
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese


Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. While the water comes to a boil, melt the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the bread cubes and cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and wipe out the skillet.

Cook the chopped bacon in the empty skillet over medium-high heat until crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and leave a small amount of the bacon fat in the skillet (about 2 teaspoons). Cook the onion in the bacon fat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

While the onion softens in the skillet, add 1 tablespoon salt to the boiling water then stir in the pasta. Cook until just tender (al dente). Reserve 1 1/2 cups of the pasta water by ladling it into a bowl before draining the pasta. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Stir in the tomatoes, spinach, Parmesan, bacon and onion mixture, and 1 cup reserved pasta water. Stir quickly and completely so the cheese doesn't melt in large clumps. Add additional water as needed. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle pasta onto plates or bowls and top with croutons. Serve immediately.

Pasta Recipes

Sesame Noodles
from Rachael Ray


  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 pound cappellini (angel hair pasta)
  • ¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 Tbs. tahini (paste made from ground sesame seeds, you can find with the peanut butter at Whole Foods)
  • 2 Tbs. toasted sesame oil
  • 2 pinches cayenne pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 inch gingerroot, peeled and grated, or 2 pinches ground ginger (fresh makes all the difference and it’s really cheap)
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced on an angle
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • Toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
  • Crushed red pepper flakes, for garnish


Put a pot of water over high heat to boil. When it comes to a boil, add salt and pasta. Cook pasta according to package directions,until al dente.

Meanwhile, combine soy sauce, tahini, sesame oil, cayenne, garlic, and gingerroot in a bowl. Whisk until smooth.

Drain pasta and run it under cold water until noodles are chilled. Drain the cooled noodles well – give them several good, strong shakes.

Dump noodles into a big bowl with the sauce and combine until noodles are evenly coated. Add veggies and toss to combine; dump noodles onto a serving dish. Garnish with sesame seed sprinkles and a little crushed red pepper.

Optional: I added ½ red pepper, sliced and chopped roughly and a few handfuls of roughly chopped sugar snap peas, and some roasted chicken I had leftover. I added a little more the sauce.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Maple Granola

3 C rolled oats
1/2 C unsalted sunflower seeds
1/2 C flaked coconut
1/2 C wheat germ
1 1/2 chopped nuts ( almonds, pecans, walnuts ) I used walnuts but almonds are my fav
1 t ground cinnamon
1/4 t kosher salt ( I lessen the salt to this amt.)
4 T (1/2 stick ) unsalted butter or canola oil
1/3 C pure maple syrup ( I didn't have any but it's better to use the real stuff )
1 t vanilla
1 C chopped dried fruit ( cranberries, raisins ) If you use raisins cover them with water and microwave until plump. This way they are soft in the granola not hard. Trick works well.

Preheat over 350*
In a large bowl, mix tog the oats, seeds, coconut, wheat germ, nuts, cinn, and salt.

In a small saucepan melt butter in the maple syrup over low heat. Stir in the vanilla. Add to the oat mixture. Add 2 T water and stir until well combined. Spread the granola evenly on a large baking sheet. Bake for 25 - 30 min. stirring at 10 min intervals ( very!!! important )
Remove from oven and cool.

For a yummy valentine mix that looks cute and festive I like to add white chocolate chips with the craisins and/or another mix that I really like is peanut butter and chocolate chips with almonds.


Monday, February 8, 2010

Mini Corn Dogs

These were probably my most popular item even though I thought the tamales were the best out of everything. I saw the recipe on Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee and they just looked so fun! They would be great for a kid's birthday party, but start early if you are making them for the first time, then reheat them a little. You want them to be crisp, but you don't want to be cooking while everyone is already there like I was. Also, I made Tammy's homemade honey mustard, but added a few tablespoons of BBQ sauce and it makes that Chick-fil-A sauce, yummmm. Also, I need to find a oil thermometer that actually won't break as the oil gets hot enough, but if you don't fry that much like me, just know that after the oil gets hot from you putting it on high, turn it down to low so you won't burn your dogs!

Mini Corn Dogs with Sweet & Spicy Relish


For Relish:

  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup pickled hot peppers, diced
  • 1/4 cup pickled sweet peppers, diced

For Corn Dogs:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 (8.5-ounce) package corn muffin mix
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 package cocktail franks
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 20 (6-inch) wooden skewers


In a small bowl combine ketchup and pickled peppers. Mix well and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine egg, corn muffin mix, garlic powder, onion powder and milk. In a separate shallow dish add flour. Insert wooden skewers half way into cocktail franks.

Heat oil to 375 degrees F in a deep-fryer. Dredge each cocktail frank in flour, dust off excess then dip into cornmeal batter. Fry 2 to 3 corn dogs at a time for about 1 to 2 minutes or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve warm with the relish.