Creating memories in the kitchen...One meal at a time.

Monday, August 30, 2010


Picture Courtesy of Pioneer Woman
I have to admit that I still don't have a go to lasagna recipe. I really enjoy trying new recipes and haven't made one that justifies never trying another recipe. That being said, I really loved this lasagna recipe from Pioneer Woman (which I tweaked a little to suit our family's tastes.)
I loved the sauce/noodle/meat ratio. So many lasagnas I've tried don't have enough sauce and result in rubbery noodles or not enough flavor. I had some leftover fresh mozzarella from some pizza I made and used this in place of the shredded mozzarella! Amazing! I also loved the mixture of ground beef and Italian sausage. The original recipe called for Hot breakfast sausage but I had some leftover Italian sausage in my freezer which worked great. I also switched out the whole tomatoes for petite diced tomatoes. I'm not a huge cooked tomato fan and either are my kids so this was a perfect switch for us.

If you're really on the ball this lasagna can be made 2 days ahead of time and refrigerated. This is a lasagna recipe I know I'll be making again.


adapted from the Pioneer Woman

1-½ pound Ground Beef
1 pound Italian sausage peeled from wrapper (the original recipe called for Hot Breakfast sausage but I had some sausage that needed using up and it was delicious)
2 cloves Garlic, Minced
2 cans (14.5 Ounce) petite diced tomatoes
2 cans (6 Ounce) Tomato Paste
2 Tablespoons Dried Parsley
2 Tablespoons Dried Basil
1 teaspoon Salt
3 cups Lowfat Cottage Cheese
2 whole Beaten Eggs
½ cups freshly grated (not Shredded) Parmesan Cheese
2 Tablespoons Dried Parsley
1 teaspoon Salt
1 pound Sliced Mozzarella Cheese (or if you really want some amazing lasagna use fresh and just slice it yourself)
1 package (10 Ounce) Lasagna Noodles
(add 1/2 Teaspoon Salt And 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil To Pasta Water)
Preparation Instructions

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet or saucepan, combine ground beef, sausage, and garlic. Cook over medium-high heat until browned. Drain half the fat; less if you’re feeling naughty.(I drained all the fat. It was still delicious and my hips will be thanking me tomorrow!) Add tomatoes, tomato paste, 2 tablespoons parsley, basil and salt. After adding the tomatoes, the sauce mixture should simmer for 45 minutes while you are working on the other steps.
In a medium bowl, mix cottage cheese, beaten eggs, grated Parmesan, 2 more tablespoons parsley, and 1 more teaspoon salt. Stir together well. Set aside. Cook lasagna until “al dente” (not overly cooked).
To assemble:Arrange 4 cooked lasagna noodles in the bottom of a baking pan, overlapping if necessary. Spoon half the cottage cheese mixture over the noodles. Spread evenly. Cover cottage cheese with a layer of mozzarella cheese. Spoon a little less than half the meat/sauce mixture over the top.
Repeat, ending with meat/sauce mixture. Sprinkle top generously with extra Parmesan.
Either freeze, refrigerate for up to two days, or bake immediately: 350-degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes, or until top is hot and bubbly.

Posted by: Sallie
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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Soft and Chewy Pretzels

After hearing from my friend Andrea and then my son who ate them at Andrea's house how great these pretzels were I finally made them. They were really simple to make and would be something fun to make with kids. They turned out soft and chewy and were absolutely delicious. I took Andrea's advice and made half with coarse salt and the other half sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. Queso dip and a vanilla glaze dip went along perfectly. They are best served warm from the oven but you can microwave them as well. Perfect for an after school snack or when the carb monster strikes.

Soft and Chewy Pretzels
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/8 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup bread flour
2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
2 tablespoons baking soda
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons coarse kosher salt
Optional but totally delicious :Tostitos queso dip for the salty pretzels

Vanilla Glaze Dip for cinnamon Sugar. I used this recipe and just thinned it out with a little milk until it reached the consistency I liked.

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast, brown sugar and salt in 1 1/2 cups warm water. Stir in flour, and knead dough on a floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, and turn to coat the surface. Cover, and let rise for one hour.
Combine 2 cups warm water and baking soda in an 8 inch square pan.
After dough has risen, cut into 12 pieces. Roll each piece into a 3 foot rope, pencil thin or thinner. Twist into a pretzel shape (I've included a link here in case like myself you have never rolled a pretzel. Don't worry, it's easy and quite fun actually), and dip into the baking soda solution. Place on parchment covered cookie sheets, and let rise 15 to 20 minutes.
Bake at 450 degrees F (230 degrees C) for 8 to 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Brush with melted butter, and sprinkle with coarse salt, garlic salt or cinnamon sugar.

*Note *
When forming the ropes, roll each one to about half the length you want, then set it aside while you roll the rest. By the time you get back to the first rope, it will have rested enough to roll further.

Posted by: Sallie
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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Chicken Alfredo Pizza

I've mentioned before that my husband's tastes are pretty simple. He'd be perfectly happy to eat the same seven meals over and over every single week. He requested pizza for his birthday meal and to change it up we tried one of our restaurant favorites-- Chicken Alfredo pizza.

I didn't really have a recipe so i decided to make my own. I started with a simple Alfredo sauce recipe from my mother in law, added some seasoned chicken, sliced red onion and lots of cheese. I actually made 3 other kinds of pizza and this was by far the best. It would be a great way to use up some leftover chicken or Alfredo sauce. I was in a kind of pizza frenzy and didn't really think about it but next time I think adding some fresh cilantro would be delicious!

Chicken Alfredo Pizza

Alfredo Sauce:

1/4 cup real butter

1 tbsp. flour

1 cup half and half or cream (I've always used half and half)

3/4 cup fresh Parmesan cheese

Melt butter in small saucepan. Add remaining ingredients in order. Heat over low heat until smooth and thickened. (Make sure not to turn heat up too high or it will curdle).

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts seasoned with garlic salt and pepper. Grill or cook in pan with small amount of olive oil. Let rest for a few minutes, then shred into small chunks.

If you're in a hurry you could always use meat from a rotisserie chicken.

Red onion cut in half and then sliced into small slivers. I didn't measure, just to taste.

Lots of mozzarella cheese, grated

cilantro and grated Parmesan cheese, optional

Your favorite pizza crust recipe. I tried Pioneer Woman's this time and it was great. If you're interested, the recipe can be found here.

To make the pizza:

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

Once crust is spread in pan spread Alfredo sauce generously on top. (I used most of the sauce from the above recipe for half of a jelly roll pan.)

Layer chicken and onion and cilantro if using. Top with mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle on a little grated Parmesan cheese over entire pizza including crust.

Bake in a 500 degree oven for 10-12 minutes or until crust is done and cheese is melted.
*Just a note in my oven it took close to 20 minutes.*

Remove and garnish with more cilantro

Posted by: Sallie

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Friday, August 20, 2010

Light and Creamy Cheesecake

Not a big fan of traditional birthday cake, my husband usually picks this Texas Sheet Cake or cheesecake for his birthday dessert. I had attempted this once before following the directions on the website but it turned out terrible! This time I used Melanie's directions with great results. Unlike a denser New York type cheesecake (which I love) this cheesecake turns out lighter and extremely creamy. We all loved the hint of lemon and the smooth texture. My favorite way to serve it is with cherry pie filling on top.

Food Network and My Kitchen Cafe

3 cups finely ground graham crackers (about 40 squares)
2 tbsp. sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, melted

1 pound cream cheese, 2 (8-ounce) blocks, softened
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 pint sour cream
1 lemon, zested
1 tsp vanilla extract

To prepare crumb crust: In a mixing bowl, combine the crust ingredients together with a fork until evenly moistened. Lightly coat the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan (I used a 10-inch springform pan)with non-stick cooking spray. Firmly press the mixture over the bottom and 1-inch up the sides on the pan, use your fingers or the smooth bottom of a glass. Refrigerate the crust while preparing the filling.
To prepare filling: In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese on low speed for 1 minute just until smooth and free of any lumps. Gradually add the sugar and beat until creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Periodically scrape down the sides of the bowl and the beaters. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and continue to slowly beat until combined. Stir in the vanilla and lemon zest. Blend in the sour cream. The batter should be well mixed but not overbeaten. Overbeating incorporates too much air and will cause the cake to puff when baking, then fall and crack when cooling. Pour filling into the crust-lined pan and smooth the top with a spatula.
Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for 50-55 minutes. The cheesecake should still jiggle slightly, it will firm up after chilling. Be careful not to overcook! Do not do a toothpick test in the cake’s center, this will make a crack. Loosen the cheesecake from the sides of the pan by running a thin metal spatula around the inside rim. Let cool in the pan for 30 minutes. Chill in the refrigerator, loosely covered, for at least 4 hours to set up. Demold and transfer to a cake plate. Slice the cheesecake with a thin, nonserrated knife that has been dipped in hot water and wiped dry after each cut.

posted by: Sallie
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Monday, August 16, 2010

Cheesy Rice and Bean Burritos

Maybe it was all the Taco Bell dinners amidst our travels but when my youngest daughter requested bean burritos for her birthday dinner I was less than thrilled. Thank goodness it was Martha to the rescue. I remembered some delicious burritos I'd made awhile back and they turned out just as great the second time around.

Not your ordinary bean burrito, these start with a saute of onions and delicious Mexican spices like cumin and jalapeno. Add in some healthy veggies like corn and scallions and finish them off with beans, rice and Monterey Jack Cheese.

They are not too spicy and can be served with a variety of toppings like sour cream, salsa, and guacamole. For a different twist you can add in cooked ground beef or turkey or any type of shredded meat like pork, chicken or beef.

Another bonus, they freeze beautifully. I just wrapped them individually in plastic wrap and then put them in a freezer bag. Great for lunches or those nights that cooking dinner is not an option.

Serves 8
3/4 -1 cup rice (brown or white)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 jalapeno chile, chopped (ribs and seeds removed, for less heat)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Coarse salt and ground pepper
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 cups water

2-3 cans (15 ounces each) pinto beans, drained and rinsed *The first time I used 3 cans, which the recipe call for, and thought there were too many beans so I only use 2 cans*
1 bag frozen corn kernels, (10 ounces)
6 scallions, thinly sliced
8-16 burrito-size flour tortillas, 10 inches each
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Salsa and sour cream, optional

Note: I think they make quite large burritos so I usually divide them into 16 portions.


Cook rice according to package instructions; set aside.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a large saucepan over medium. Add onions, garlic, jalapeno, and cumin; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Add tomato paste, and cook, stirring, 1 minute.
Add beans and 1 1/2 cups water; bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 10 to 12 minutes. Add corn; cook to heat through, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in scallions.
Heat tortillas according to package instructions; fill with rice, bean mixture, and cheese.

Assemble: Mound 1/4 cup rice, 3/4 cup bean mixture, and 1/4 cup cheese on one side of tortilla. Fold, and hold in sides. Starting from filled end, holding sides in as you work, tightly roll into a bundle. Place on a baking sheet, seam side down, and prepare remaining burritos.
Serve immediately, with salsa and sour cream, if using, or wrap individually in plastic and freeze up to 3 months.

*Helpful Hint*

To reheat from frozen: Remove frozen burritos from plastic wrap. Place on a microwave-safe plate; microwave on high for 3 minutes. Transfer to baking sheet; bake at 450 degrees until crispy, about 10 minutes. If only using a microwave, remove from plastic wrap, and place on a microwave-safe plate, covered with a microwave safe bowl. Defrost at high power for 3 to 4 minutes; uncover, and microwave on high 3 to 4 minutes longer. If only using oven, remove burritos from plastic wrap; rewrap individually in aluminum foil. Place on a baking sheet; bake at 450 degrees for 40 minutes. Remove foil, and bake to crisp, 5 to 10 minutes. (To reheat defrosted burritos, remove any wrapping and bake for 10 minutes).

posted by: Sallie
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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Red Curry Coconut Noodles

Picture courtesy of Pioneer Woman

Did you think I'd fallen off the face of the earth? Actually summer just went by way too fast and between vacations, sports camps, visiting family and trying to get a few projects done I just didn't get around to it.

Now that school is officially back in session and family dinners are a little more organized I'll be posting more recipes.

Today's recipe is from one of my favorite recipe sources --Tasty Kitchen. It's actually a cooking community created by THE Pioneer Woman (and we all know how delicious her food is). This is a great comforting family meal. Tender rice noodles, moist chicken, crunchy red peppers and onions, simmered in a delicious coconut curry sauce. The flavors are fabulous and the spice level is mild so it's perfect for the whole family. This is a great meal that will be appearing on our dinner table regularly.

*The original recipe called for 6 chicken breasts but I prefer mainly noodles and more sauce so I cut it down to 2. *

Red Curry Coconut Chicken

adapted slightly from Tasty Kitchen

2-3 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts cubed or cut into strips
2 cans Coconut Milk
1 Tbsp red curry paste
1 Tablespoon fresh, Grated ginger
1 Tablespoon Cilantro (fresh, Chopped)
¼ cups Sweet Thai Chili Sauce
2 1/4 cups Chicken Or Vegetable Broth
1 package Rice Noodles 13.5 oz.
1 whole Onion , halved and then cut into thin slices
2 whole Red Peppers (julienne)
1 cup Broccoli Slaw
1 Tablespoon Salt To Taste

Preparation Instructions
Start with a large pot over medium-high heat. Scoop the cream off the top of the coconut milk, and put into the pot. The cream will be used as the “fat” instead of oil or butter. Along with the cream, add the curry paste and ginger. Let this simmer for 1 minute.
Then add the chicken. Cook the chicken through about 5-6 minutes. Then add the rest of what is in the coconut milk cans, sweet Thai chili sauce, cilantro, and chicken broth. Bring this to a simmer.
Then add your julienned veggies and rice noodles. Simmer this. You will see the broth slowly thicken as the rice noodles absorb it. It should only take about 5 minutes for the rice noodles to be cooked through.
Pull the pot off the heat, and let sit for about 5 minutes. It will thicken during this time. Then, it’s done. Garnish it with a bit more cilantro. 8 generous servings.

Posted by: Sallie

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