Thursday, August 21, 2014

Spicy Sesame Noodles




Salty is just a delightful flavor, isn't it? It is not something you should eat a lot of certainly, but there is just something nice about it. Especially when that saltiness is combined with a good starch. 

These easy sesame noodles certainly hit the spot for starchy and salty. I am pretty sure I could eat a whole pot of them. These are also delicious hot, room temperature, and even cold. I made these one late night when I was just not willing to thaw some chicken. While it would be a wonderfully balanced meal with a protein, your palate won't miss it a bit.

Ingredients

1 pound of angel hair pasta
1/3 cup soy sauce
3 Tablespoons of honey
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
3 Tablespoons rice vinegar
2 Tablespoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons sriracha sauce
1 green onion, chopped
1 teaspoon black sesame seeds

Boil the pasta until it is tender. While the pasta is cooking, combine the remaining ingredients into a large bowl. Mix them well. Add in the hot pasta along with about 2 tablespoons of the cooking liquid. Toss the pasta until the sauce is mixed well over each and every noodle.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Meatball Casserole


 

 This is a delicious recipe that came together out of sheer desperation. Grocery shopping had not happened in quite some time and it was the night before school started. Desperate times indeed. While my sweet husband cut out sheets of apple boarder decorations for my classroom I whipped up this casserole in hopes it would power us through the night of school preparations. 

"It tastes like a bowl full of pizza!" I would say that's a pretty good reaction. The hasty combination of bread, meat, cheese, and sauce turned out very yummy! This is so easy to make and your whole family will love it!

Ingredients

1 pound of ground chicken
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 jar of marinara sauce
2 cups of cheese
1 loaf of magic bread, or french bread cut into large chunks
2 1/2 cups grated mozzarella, divided



Mix the ground chicken and all purpose seasoning well, making sure to not squish the meat too much. If you squish the meat as you are mixing it, the meatballs will come out tough. Roll the meat into tablespoon sized balls.


 Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add in the meatballs turning after 5 minutes or so. The meatballs just need to be browned on the outside since they will continue cooking in the marinara sauce.


Once the meatballs have been browned on both sides, set them off to the side while you brown some garlic. 
 

With the oil remaining in the pan, brown the garlic for just a few seconds to add some great flavor to the pan. 
 

 Add the sauce into the pan and turn the heat down to medium low. Add the meatballs back in as well. Let this simmer for about 10 minutes. 


While the sauce and meatballs are cooking, grease a 9 X 13 casserole dish. Add in about half of the bread chunks.
 

Sprinkle over about 1 cup of the cheese over the bread. 
 

Once the sauce and meatballs have had a chance to simmer, pour half of the mixture over the bread pieces. 
 

Add in the remaining bread chunks and sauce as well as 1 cup of cheese mixture over the bread.  The remaining 1/2 cup of cheese should go over the top. 


Pop this into a 350 degree oven for about 20 to 30 minutes until the center of the casserole is bubbly. 
 

This meal was so delicious! Bread, rich sauce, ooey gooey cheese and meatballs.  It was a winning combination!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Lemon Poppyseed Slaw




Summer is such a beautiful season in Colorado. Cool mornings and lots of sunshine during the day. It's not too hot for the most part, and we get to enjoy thunderstorms in the afternoons. And there is no snow. I really adore the part where there is no snow.

With all these benefits I do start to long for fall around the end of summer. By August, I feel I have made every side a person can make for grilled meat at least four times. On a night that called for barbequed chicken, I was rather "blah" feeling about what was to go with it.

I looked at the lonely cabbage and carrots in the fridge and decided on a slaw of sorts. But I was very tired of coleslaw. Then I thought I would try out a dressing from mykindofcooking. It was fabulous! I loved it that night and had no complaints about eating it for lunch the next day. 

The salad this dressing goes with is rightly called "Everyone's Favorite Salad." I have made this salad before and people just love it. I added some lemon juice to the dressing for a bit of brightness. It really soaks up all the flavor when it sits overnight. Try this out with your next grill session, and you will call it your favorite dressing, too!

Ingredients

2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon dried mustard
1 1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 small head of cabbage, shredded
3 carrots, shredded
1/2 cup almonds, roasted and chopped

Combine the first six ingredients together in a large bowl and whisk  this really well.  Add in the cabbage and carrots. Stir well to ensure each piece of cabbage and carrot are covered. Let this chill in the fridge for about an hour. You can eat this right away, but it's really best to let the dressing soften up the cabbage a bit. Just before serving, stir in the chopped almonds so they are super crunchy.


Monday, August 11, 2014

Very Vanilla Poundcake



Pound cake is one of the best desserts to take to a potluck since everyone loves it. At a back to school meeting I decided to make a few buddies some cake for motivation. I can't say it helped with the motivation piece but it was well loved indeed. 

The name pound cake refers to an old recipe that called for a pound of each ingredient. If that is the standard than this would be considered a "light" recipe since it only has 3/4 of a pound of butter. Regardless of the measurement, this cake is divine. The extra vanilla and glaze over top make this cake really special for any occasion. 

Ingredients 

3 sticks of unsalted butter, softened
3 cups of sugar
5 eggs
2 Tablespoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups of flour
1 cup of milk

Vanilla Glaze

3 cups powdered sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons vanilla extract (enough to make the glaze a runny consistency)
First, combine the softened butter with the sugar with an electric mixer in a large mixing bowl. until it is fluffy and light yellow in color. Add the eggs, one at a time. Make sure you mix really well after adding each egg. Add the vanilla and set to the side.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, salt, and baking powder.

Add in 1/3rd of the dry ingredients to the wet mixture. Then add in 1/3 of the cup of milk. Continue alternating both ingredients ending with the dry mixture.

Pour the batter into a greased tube pan and bake for 90 minutes. You will know the cake is done with the top is golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean, or almost clean. For the vanilla glaze, whisk the powdered sugar with the vanilla extract until it is smooth and runny.

Let the tube pan cool for 45 minutes before taking the cake out.  Let the cake cool completely before pouring the glaze over the top.



Enjoy!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Ravioli Pasta Salad


People always asked me  "Where did you learn to cook?" In all honesty, I am the least talented cook in my family. I come from a slightly food obsessed clan who has given me some really good ideas on how to make each meal delicious. 

Most of the things I know how to cook or like to cook come from my family. My Aunt Cathi is an especially good cook. She is outlandishly talented. For my bridal shower and my cousin's baby shower she made the best pasta salad ever. 

Why did I never think to put a cheese filled pasta in pasta salad? After you try this, you will be thinking the same thing. It is so good, it is stupid. I do a few things differently than the original recipe. Aunt Cathi adds in lots of tasty black olives, but my husband does not prefer them so I leave them out. Also, she uses elegant tortellini, while I like the plump and extra cheese filled ravioli. 

This has become one of my favorite summer dinners. Aunt Cathi's is still much better, but the imitation is pretty tasty too!

Ingredients

1 1/2 pounds small frozen ravioli
2 cups of chicken, shredded
1 to 2 medium red bell pepper, chopped
1 small cucumber, chopped
3 Roma tomatoes, chopped
2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
1/3 to 2/3 cup Italian salad dressing
1/4 cup Kalamata olives, chopped finely (optional)

Boil the frozen ravioli for about 8 minutes, or however long your selected type requires. Combine the remaining ingredients in a large bowl, this makes quite a caldron of pasta salad!

 I like to start with 1/3 cup of dressing and let the salad sit for a minute or two. The dressing will cause all the veggies to release a bit of liquid. Sometimes it needs a touch more dressing, and other times it doesn't. 

Once the ravioli has cooled, drain this and run it under cold water, this helps chill the cheese filled rounds for the salad. Add these to the other ingredients and chill for about an hour.

After letting the salad chill, taste it to check for seasonings. It may need a bit more dressing and a shake or two of salt and pepper.



This is wonderful for lunch, dinner, picnics, potlucks, or even eaten straight out of the bowl on the couch. Try this out and you will love it!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Spicy Snack MIx



August is a sad, sad month for teachers. My school district returns back even earlier than most, so all of August involves getting up early for work. While I am honestly excited to meet my new little sunshines and be around my apple decorations, getting the motivation to start the year again can be hard.

Especially when reality of not having a fridge and stocked pantry sets in. I really function best when I eat every three hours or so. Instead of packing a snack each day, I find it easier to have a small food supply at work. That means some preparation for those afternoon snack attacks. This snack mix hits the spot! If you are a lover of salty and crunchy delights, this is a great option. Just slightly spicy, this combination gives you some carbs, protein and a bit of healthy fat from the almonds.

Not to mention, it takes very little time to whip up a big batch to keep your snack supply handy!

Ingredients

1 6.6 ounce bag of Goldfish crackers
2/3 cup whole raw almonds
1 egg white
2 teaspoons taco seasoning


Dump the almonds and the goldfish into a large bowl. Whip the egg white with a fork for a few seconds until it is slightly fluffy.


Coat the crackers and almonds in the egg white. Mix this well so each piece is completely coated.


I used my own taco seasoning for this, but any you like will be great.


Sprinkle the taco seasoning into the mixture in three batches, stirring after each addition. Mix this very well to ensure you don't have any clumps.


Spread the mixture onto a cookie sheet in an even layer.


Bake the snack mix for about 10 to 15 minutes at 350 degrees. You will know this is done when the almonds are crunchy and a bit dry. It will also start to smell crazy delicious in your kitchen.


This is even great to wrap up and give to friends who may also need some snack encouragement. Just  pour into a bag and adorn with a cute ribbon. The snack mix will stay good for up to a month if it is sealed in an airtight container. 

Enjoy!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Dutch Apple Pie

 Adulthood has brought me many good things: a cool job, eating cookies for breakfast if I want, staying up late, being able to drive. All those silly things I wished for as a child.. 

One thing I did not expect to encounter in adulthood was a renewed enjoyment of cooked apples. 

 After swimming lessons one day my mom and I went to McDonald's for breakfast. After enjoying  my delightful little apple pie I threw up promptly when we returned home. It was very traumatic.

It has taken me years to get over this experience, but I have finally made it to a point where I enjoy cooked apples again. What better way then to enjoy them in a warm pie with a gooey insides and crispy sweet topping. Dutch Apple Pie is a bit different than the traditional variety. It has a streusel topping that adds a crunchy, sweet and rich layer to the pie.

This pie is truly terrific and not all that hard to make. If you are not up for making your own pie crust, then a frozen crust will do fine. You can also follow my perfect pie crust recipe I adapted from Just Get Off Your Butt and Bake. This recipe will make 4 crusts. Lucky for you, this delightful apple pie only needs one. The extras freeze really well and can be used for other pies, quiches or even turnovers. 

Ingredients

1 pie crust, chilled
6 Granny Smith Apples, peeled and chopped
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 large orange, zested and juiced
2 teaspoons apple pie spice
2 tablespoons butter

Topping

1/4 cup or 1 stick of butter, chilled and cut into cubes
1 cup flour
2/3 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon



First, roll out the pie crust evenly aiming to make a circular shape. Roll this out in plenty of extra flour to make sure it does not stick to the counter.


After you have rolled out the crust, measure it against the size of the pie plate. Once it is a bit bigger than the pie plate all around, you are good to go. 


Place your crust in your pie plate.


With the edges of the crust, fold the extra underneath. Then crimp the sides of the crust all around. This will be covered mostly by apples and the topping so no need to get too fancy. 


Next, we are going to bake our crust without the filling. This will ensure a very crispy crust. Place a small sheet of parchment over the pie and fill it with beans, rice or pie weights if you have them. Key tip: the beans are not edible once you bake them. I always save mine for the next time I need to use them. Bake this in a 350 degree oven for about ten minutes.


Take all the ingreidents for the filling and mix them together. This may seem a bit dry, but the apples will cook down and create a delicious sauce. Put this off to the side while the crust is still baking on its own.


Next, place all of the topping ingredients into a medium sized bowl. Make sure your ingredients are well chilled. Otherwise they get a bit mushy instead of crispy.


I like to combine everything with a large fork or even a pastry cutter. This really helps squish the cold butter into the other ingredients.


Keep mashing until all the ingredients are combined. By this point the crust should be done baking on its own.


Place the apple filling into the pie crust. Then sprinkle over the topping.


The pie will then bake for another 30 to 45 minutes at 350 degrees or until the top is golden brown and the apples are soft. Just poke at one or two of the chunks to see if they have some give to them.


Let the pie cool for about 30 minutes. The sauce on the inside is lava hot and will burn the dickens out of you. 


Besides, a wonderful smell like this is likely to attract some friends and admirers.


Dutch Apple Pie is great all on its own, but it would be delightful served with some caramel sauce and ice cream.