Monday, June 28, 2010

Fusilli with Spinach and Asiago Cheese

This is a Giada recipe that was very tasty and quick. I made this in about 15 minutes before we needed to leave for Wicked (as quickly as you can make the pasta!). Another "I can't drive to McDonalds that fast" meals that is a good stand-by for busy nights.
Her recipe calls for spinach and cherry tomatoes. I don't like tomatoes (and neither does my dad, who was coming over for dinner) so I added shrimp that I seasoned with Old Bay, sliced black olives, and sliced mushrooms and eliminated the tomatoes. Asiago is a nice strong cheese so this had a lot of flavor.
Some of the comments online said the cheese clumped together so I added cheese to each dish individually.
Fusilli with Spinach and Asiago Cheese
1 pound fusilli pasta
1/4 cup olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 9-ounce bag fresh spinach, roughly chopped (I think my bag was 10 ounce... you could go even larger - spinach wilts a LOT)
8 ounce cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup grated Asiago (I used shredded)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
Salt and pepper to taste
Bring pot of salted water to boil and cook pasta until tender but firm to the bite. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water.

Warm olive oil in large skillet over med-high heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. (I sauteed the shrimp, set it aside, and then did the garlic). Add spinach and tomatoes and cook until spinach wilts, about 2 more minutes (I added the mushrooms with the spinach). Add cooked pasta and toss. Add cheese, salt, pepper, and reserved liquid and stir to combine.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Herb Spoon Rolls & Red, White, and Blue Potato Salad

These rolls are from Southern Living magazine. I always have various leftover herbs in the fridge so I figured it would be a good way to use them up. I ended up making one tray of parsley & chive and one tray of rosemary & sage ("parsley sage rosemary and chives..."). By far our favorite were the rosemary and sage rolls, but both kinds needed butter and were best served warm.

Again, not much of a baker but these were easy.

Herb Spoon Rolls
1 & 1/4 ounce envelope dry yeast
2 cups warm water
4 cups self rising flour
3/4 cup melted butter
3/4 cup chopped fresh chives
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 400.

Combine yeast and 2 cups warm water in large bowl. Let stand 5 minutes.

Stir in flour and remaining ingredients. Spoon batter into 2 lightly greased 12-cup muffin tins, filling 3/4 full.

Bake at 400 for 20-22 minutes or until golden brown (mine took a little less than 20).
The potato salad is from Ina Garten and was really good. Course my homemade mayo made all the difference, I'm sure ;) I especially love the use of dill - it's one of my favorite herbs.

Red, White, and Blue Potato Salad
3 pounds small white potatoes (I used 1 pound each of red, white, and purple)
Kosher salt
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup buttermilk (I used sour cream instead)
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard (I skipped and just upped the dijon)
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
1/2 cup chopped celery
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup chopped red onion (I skipped)

Place potatos and 2 tablespoons salt in large pot of water. Bring water to a boil, lower heat, then simmer for 10-15 minutes or until potatoes are barely tender when pierced with a knife. Drain potatoes into a colander, then place the colander with the potatoes over the empty pot and cover with a clean, dry kitchen towel. Allow the potatoes to steam 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk together the mayo, buttermilk, both mustards, dill, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Set aside.

When potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut in quarters or small pieces. Place cut potatoes in large bowl. While they are still warm, pour enough dressing over them to moisten (I didn't use it all). Add celery and red onion, 2 teaspoons of salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Toss well, cover, and refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to blend. Serve cold or at room temp.

Peach Cobbler

I'm not much of a baker - I don't like to measure things or do anything carefully - but since peach cobbler is my dad's favorite dessert (well, he also loves german chocolate cake!) and peaches are in season, I decided to give it a try. I looked at tons of recipes - and several FB friends sent me theirs, too - and opted for Paula Deen's recipe. It looked like little baking effort and seemed foolproof.

Now let me just say... peeling fresh peaches is a PITA. I've convinced myself fresh has to be much better than canned but it was a lot of work. They are slippery little suckers, too!

She calls for a 3 quart baking dish. I don't have one. So I used two smaller pans and split the recipe in half. Turned out great and now I can just send an entire dish home with my dad!

Peach Cobbler
1.5 cup self rising flour
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup water
2 cup sugar, divided
4 cup peeled, sliced peaches
1.5 cup milk
ground cinnamon

.Preheat oven to 350.
Combine peaches, 1 cup sugar, and water in saucepan and mix well. Bring to a boil and simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
Put butter in 3 quart baking dish and place in oven to melt. Mix remaining 1 cup sugar, flour, and milk slowly to prevent clumping. Pour mixture over melted butter. Do not stir. Spoon fruit on top, gently pouring in syrup.
Sprinkle top with cinnamon. Batter will rise to top during baking.
Bake for 30-45 minutes.
Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Friday, June 11, 2010


Yes, I am the big nerd who does a whole blog entry for mayonnaise but I really was so impressed that in less than 5 minutes, I could make homemade mayo with stuff I always have on hand. I don't eat much mayo but needed about a cup for potato salad. Too cheap to buy a whole jar of mayo for just a cup, I googled and found that I could (in theory) make my own.

Surprisingly, I got it right on the first try. There were several variations online but I went with Alton Brown's version; he has never let me down before. According to the comments on Food, you could use an immersion blender, blender, food processor, or hand mixer. I got my hand mixer out, ready to use, but after I started to use my small whisk it just seemed easier to stick with that. Plus I was really scared to stop whisking once I got started!

1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon fine salt (I used less than this, due to comments about it being too salty)
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
2 pinches sugar
2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar (I was out so I used red wine vinegar)
1 cup oil, safflower or corn (I used vegetable)

In glass bowl, whisk together egg yolk and dry ingredients. Combine lemon juice and vinegar in a seperate bowl then thoroughly whisk half into the yolk mixture. Start whisking briskly, then start adding the oil a few drops at a time until the liquid seems to thicken and lighten a bit. Once you reach that point you can relax your arm a little (just a little) and increase the oil flow to a constant thin stream. Once half the oil is in, add the rest of the lemon juice mixture.

Continue whisking until all the oil is incorporated. Leave at room temp for 1-2 hours then refrigerate up to 1 week.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Morning Monte Cristos

Tonight's dinner looked like it might be a flop but ended up being tasty. It's from a Rachael Ray cookbook. Not at all like a Monte Cristo from Bennigans (may they rest in peace) but still very tasty. It was very sweet - I was glad I made a salty potato to go with it. Sorta like a french toast sandwich, really.

Morning Monte Cristos
2 jumbo eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2-3 drops vanilla extract
1 cup milk
2-3 pinches nutmeg
10 slices firm white toasting bread, crusts trimmed
5 teaspoons apricot jam
10 thin slices golden delicious apple
5 slices baked ham
8 ounces smoked cheddar cheese, thinly sliced
Butter, for frying (I just used Pam)
Powdered sugar, for topping (optional)

Beat eggs for 2-3 minutes with a hand mixer. Add the sugar and continue to beat. Add cornstarch and vanilla and beat in. Then add milk and nutmeg and mix again.

Preheat oven to 150.

Pour 1/8 inch of batter into a 9x13 baking dish. Spread about a teaspoon of jam on 5 slices of bread. Put the bread in the pan, jam side up. Top each with 2 thin slices of apple, slice of ham folded to fit the bread, and thin layer of cheese. Top with remaining slices and pour batter over top. Lift sandwiches out and place on plate to avoid getting too soggy.

Fry sandwiches in a lightly greased frying pan over med heat until golden on each side. Keep sandwiches warm in oven until all are done. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Oven Chicken Risotto (but with ham)

Tonight's dinner was from my friend, Laura, and it was really good! We both thought it was tasty - very rich and filling. I had some honeybaked ham slices in the freezer so I used that instead of chicken. Laura says you can use it with a variety of items depending upon the season (or what's in your freezer!) and just use the rice as a base.
I really love risotto but don't have the patience for it. This gave the same texture and taste without any of the work!
Oven Chicken Risotto
2 tbsp butter
2.5 cup chicken broth
1 cup Arborio rice (short grain)
1/2 small onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups chopped deli roasted chicken (or any other cooked meat)
8 oz shredded mozzarella
2 cups baby spinach
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes (I skipped - I really don't like tomatoes)
1. Preheat oven to 400. Place butter in 9x13 pan and bake 5 minutes or until melted. Stir in broth and next 4 ingredients.
2. Bake, covered, at 400 for 35 minutes.
3. Remove from oven, fluff rice with fork. Stir in chicken, cheese, tomatoes, and spinach.
4. Return to oven for 5-10 minutes to warm through.

See Aimee Cook

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