Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Chicken, Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells

I love anything pasta, especially when it's baked and cheesy. I thought this was a good variation of traditional stuffed shells.

Chicken, Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells

1 box jumbo shells, cooked and cooled
2 jars of tomato sauce, or make your own omitting the ground beef
1 lb. ground chicken, cooked and crumbled
12 oz. part-skim ricotta cheese
1 box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 cups 2% milk shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, divided
1 tablespoon dried basil

Preheat oven to 350. Mix ground chicken, ricotta, spinach, 1 cup mozzarella, 1/4 cup parmesan and dried basil in a bowl. Cover bottom of 9x13 baking dish with sauce. Stuff shells and place in a single layer in baking dish. Cover with remaining sauce, and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and parmesan. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 15-20 minutes or until golden and bubbly.

Stuffed Steak

This is an old recipe that my mom used to make when we were growing up. This is so good and just tastes like good home cookin'.

Stuffed Steak

Thin sliced sandwich steak (I had six pieces)
1 package baby bella mushrooms, coarsely chopped
1 medium sweet onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup Italian style breadcrumbs
1 envelope onion soup mix, divided in half
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 cup water

Preheat oven to 350. Cook onions and mushrooms until soft, add garlic and cook one minute more. Add butter and melt. Add mushroom mixture to breadcrumbs, half of onion soup mix and parmesan cheese to make a stuffing. Lay one piece of steak on a cutting board and put 2 heaping spoons of stuffing on one end. Roll up and place seam side down in baking dish. Continue with all pieces of steak. If you have extra stuffing you can put it in the baking dish around the steak. Mix remaining onion soup mix with water and pour over steak. Cover and bake for 30 minutes.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Mac and Cheese with Bacon and Tomatoes

I don't have a picture of this recipe, so you'll have to trust that it tasted as good as it sounds! We had a BBQ at a coworkers house before our football game last week, and I volunteered for mac and cheese. I've made a bunch of varieties (a few are here on my blog) and this one was a mixture of the best and also NOT one of my low-fat versions!

Mac and Cheese with Bacon and Tomatoes

1 box of elbow noodles, cooked and drained
5 slices thick cut bacon, cooked and crumbled with 1 tablespoon of grease reserved
1 sweet onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons flour
3 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
8 oz. sharp cheddar, shredded
8 oz. muenster, shredded
8 oz. montery jack, shredded
salt and fresh ground pepper
4 medium tomatoes, sliced
1 cup panko
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1/4 cup grated parmesan
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350.

Heat milk and cream together in microwave until hot. Put reserved bacon grease in large pan on medium heat. Add onion and garlic and saute 5 minutes or until soft. Add flour, cook 1 minute. Whisk in hot milk mixture and cook until reduced by a third. Add shredded cheeses and stir until melted. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix in with noodles.

In a seperate bowl, mix panko, parsley and parmesan with melted butter. Grease a 9x13 baking dish and add noodles and cheese mixture. Layer sliced tomatoes on top, and cover with panko mixture. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden and bubbly.

Birthday Cake with Vanilla Custard, Raspberry Puree and Whipped Cream Cream Cheese Frosting

Now that is a looooong name for a cake! One of my coworkers had a birthday on Friday, and since I have become the cake lady for the office, he special requested his cake weeks in advance. He wanted custard and he wanted raspberry, so here is what I whipped up. This was absolutely was light and not too sweet. Probably one of the best cakes I've made, if I say so myself. (I did cheat and use a box cake was a school night and I needed to cut a corner somewhere! I used a french vanilla mix.)

Birthday Cake with Vanilla Custard, Raspberry Puree and Whipped Cream Cream Cheese Frosting
Custard adapted from Recipezaar
Raspberry Puree from Vegalicious
Whipped Cream Cream Cheese Frosting from All Recipes

French vanilla cake, cooked in 9x13 pan, cooled and cut in two layers

As the cake cooks, prepare the custard and puree.

For the custard:
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk, scalding hot
2 eggs, well beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix the sugar, flour and salt together in a small saucepan and add the hot milk gradually, stirring constantly. Cook until the mixture thickens. Pour a small amount over the eggs and mix thoroughly; add back into the first mixture and cook for two more minutes. Remove from heat and cool; add vanilla. Put in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap so the wrap sits on the surface of the custard and creates a seal, refrigerate until completely cool.

For the puree:
2 cups frozen raspberries
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch

Put the raspberries, sugar and water in a small saucepan and cook on medium until raspberries break down. Mix the cornstarch with a little bit of water to form a paste and add to berries. Put in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap so the wrap sits on the surface of the puree and creates a seal, refrigerate until completely cool.

For the frosting:
1 (8 ounce) package reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups heavy cream

Combine the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla extract and almond extract in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Fit the mixer with the whisk attachment and mix on medium speed until smooth. While the mixture is still whipping, slowly pour in the heavy cream. Stop and scrape the bottom of the bowl a couple of times while you continue whipping until the cream can hold a stiff peak.

To put cake together:
Put bottom layer of cake on platter. Spread custard on top of cake. Place second layer on top of custard. Using a wooden spoon, poke holes in the top of cake. Ladle raspberry puree over top of cake and spread to edges, letting the puree sink into the holes. Cover puree and sides of cake with frosting. Keep refrigerated.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Old Fashioned Chicken Potpie

This recipe comes from one of my favorite sources, Cooking Light. I don't know what made me decide to want to cook a chicken potpie, but I'm glad I did! This was a bit labor-intensive, but it was really good. Don't be intimidated by making your own crust, it was super easy!

Old Fashioned Chicken Potpie
From Cooking Light

1 cup all-purpose flour, divided
3 tablespoons ice water
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup vegetable shortening

3 cups Chicken Stock, divided
2 1/3 cups cubed red potato (about 1 pound)
1 cup (1/4-inch-thick) sliced carrot
2 teaspoons butter or stick margarine
1/2 cup chopped shallots or onions
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups diced cooked chicken
1 cup frozen petite green peas
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
Dash of black pepper
Cooking spray
2 teaspoons 1% low-fat milk

To prepare crust, lightly spoon 1 cup flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine 1/4 cup flour, ice water, and vinegar in a small bowl. Combine 3/4 cup flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a large bowl; cut in shortening with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add vinegar mixture; stir just until moist. Press mixture gently into a 5-inch circle on heavy-duty plastic wrap; cover with additional plastic wrap. Chill for 15 minutes. Roll dough, still covered, into a 13 x 10-inch oval. Place dough in freezer 5 minutes or until plastic wrap can be easily removed.

Preheat oven to 400°.

To prepare filling, bring 2 1/2 cups Chicken Stock to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add potato and carrot; cook 2 minutes. Drain mixture in a colander over a bowl, reserving cooking liquid.

Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add shallots; cook 3 minutes. Lightly spoon 1/2 cup flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup Chicken Stock; stir with a whisk. Add to skillet. Stir in potato mixture, reserved cooking liquid, chicken, peas, 3/4 teaspoon salt, thyme, and pepper. Cook 10 minutes. Remove from heat; cool slightly. Spoon chicken mixture into a 1 1/2-quart casserole dish coated with cooking spray. Remove 1 sheet of plastic wrap from dough. Place dough on top of chicken mixture, pressing to edge of dish. Remove top sheet of plastic wrap. Cut 5 slits in top of crust to allow steam to escape. Gently brush crust with milk. Bake at 400° for 45 minutes or until golden. Let stand 10 minutes.

Mustard-Glazed Turkey Tenderloin

While I was at the gym I was looking at a Parents magazine, and found this recipe for turkey tenderloin in an article about good nutrition. I've never made turkey tenderloins before and these were super easy and very tasty. Chad loved the mustard glaze...he was slurping it with a spoon once the turkey was gone! I made the green beans from a recipe from the magazine as well, but we didn't think it was that great of a green bean recipe.

Mustard-Glazed Turkey Tenderloin
From Parents Magazine

2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided
1 tsp black pepper, divided
3 tbsp whole-grain Dijon mustard, divided
1 lb. turkey tenderloin
1 tbs olive oil
1 tsp salt

Combine garlic, 1/2 cup broth, 1/2 tsp pepper and 1 tbsp mustard to ziplock bag, add turkey. Seal and marinate in the fridge for 4 to 24 hours.

Preheat oven to 375. Heat oil in an oven-safe skillet on medium-high. Cook turkey until browned on all sides; sprinkle with salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Add 1/2 cup broth and bake for 25 minutes. Remove turkey and set on plate, cover with foil to keep warm.

Make glaze: Combine 1/2 cup broth, 2 tbsp water and 2 tbsp mustard; pour into pan. Whisk or use a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits and heat the glaze through. Cut turkey on a diagonal and pour on glaze.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Chicken Fried Rice

I've decided Chinese food is such a great weeknight meal because it's so fast! I looked at a few fried rice recipes and came up with this one. It was easy and yummy...just like takeout but healthier since I controlled the ingredients.

Chicken Fried Rice

3 cups cooked and cooled brown rice (preferable cooked a couple of days prior)
vegetable oil or wok oil
3 large eggs
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup frozen peas and carrots
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce

Heat a wok (or large deep frying pan) on medium high heat and add some oil. Break 2 of the eggs into the wok and immediately scramble. Cook until done and set aside. Add more oil and add chicken to wok. Cook for 3 minutes or until golden. Add onion and garlic and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add carrots and peas, sprinkle ginger on chicken and veggies, and cook for 1 minute. Add a little more oil (about a tablespoon) and stir in rice. Scramble remaining egg, and stir into rice. Add soy sauce and oyster sauce and cook 3-4 minutes more. Add more soy sauce to taste.

Black and White Chocolate Cake

My secretary's birthday was last Friday and I totally forgot =( I promised her a fabulous cake for Monday, so I spent the weekend looking through my Dorie Greenspan baking cookbook for a great cake. Lisa mentioned she liked white chocolate, so when I saw this recipe I thought it would be perfect. This was one of the most difficult things I have ever baked and I definitely had a few issues. I forgot the salt in the cake...oops!...and I had a really hard time getting the white chocolate whipped cream to thicken. This is the second time I've had some whipped cream issues, and just like the last time I was terrified I would overwhip it and turn it to butter! This time I think I underwhipped and it was pretty thin. It kind of ran off the cake when I tried to frost it, but was better once it firmed up in the fridge.

I didn't eat much of this cake because I'm not really a chocolate eater, but everyone said it was amazing. Chad, who is a tougher critic, thought it was ok but a bit dry. He did eat it later that night though and Dorie mentioned in the recipe that it was best eaten after 3 hours in the fridge.

Black and White Chocolate Cake
Dorie Greenspan Baking: From My Home to Yours

For the Cake
2 cups cake flour (I couldn't find this so used all-purpose)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/4 sticks (10 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk

For the Dark Chocolate Cream
2 cups whole milk
4 large egg yolks
6 Tablespoons sugar
3 Tablespoons cornstarch, sifted
1/4 teaspoon salt
7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
2-1/2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 5 pieces, at room temperature

For the White Chocolate Whipped Cream
6 ounces premium-quality white chocolate (such as Valrhona Ivoire or Guittard), finely chopped
1-1/2 cups heavy cream

Chocolate shavings or curls, dark or white or a combination, for decoration (optional)

Getting Ready:
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9-x-2-inch round cake pans, dust the insides with flour, tap out the excess and line the bottoms of the pans with parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.

To Make the Cake:
Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add the sugar and beat for another 3 minutes. Add the eggs one by one, and then the yolk, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Beat in the vanilla; don’t be concerned if the mixture looks curdled. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk, adding the dry ingredients in 3 additions and the milk in 2 (begin and end with the dry ingredients); scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed and mix only until the ingredients disappear into the batter. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.

Bake for 28 to 30 minutes, rotating the pans at the midway point. When fully baked, the cakes will be golden and springy to the touch and a thin knife inserted into the centers will come out clean. Transfer the cakes to a rack and cool for about 5 minutes, then unmold, remove the paper and invert to cool to room temperature right side up on the rack.

To Make the Dark Chocolate Cream:
Bring the milk to a boil.

Meanwhile, in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar, cornstarch and salt until thick and well blended. Whisking without stopping, drizzle in about 1/4 cup of the hot milk – this will temper, or warm, the yolks so they won’t curdle – then, still whisking, add the remainder of the milk in a steady stream. Put the pan over medium heat and, whisking vigorously, constantly and thoroughly (make sure to get into the edges of the pan), bring the mixture to a boil. Keep at a boil, still whisking, for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.

Whisk in the melted chocolate, and let stand for 5 minutes. Then whisk in the pieces of butter, stirring until they are fully incorporated and the chocolate cream is smooth and silky. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the cream to create an airtight seal and refrigerate the cream until chilled, or for up to 3 days. Or, if you want to cool the cream quickly, put the bowl with the cream into a large bowl filled with ice cubes and cold water and stir the cream occasionally until it is thoroughly chilled, about 20 minutes.

To Make the White Chocolate Whipped Cream:
Put the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl and put the bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water. Stir frequently to melt the chocolate evenly. Meanwhile, bring 1/2 cup of the heavy cream to a boil.

When the white chocolate is melted, remove the bowl from the pan. Pour the hot cream into the melted chocolate and let it sit for a minute. Using a small spatula, stir the chocolate gently until it is smooth. Let it sit on the counter until it reaches room temperature – it can’t be the least bit warm when you add it to the whipped cream.

Working with the stand mixer with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the remaining 1 cup heavy cream only until it holds the softest peaks. Turn the machine to high, add the cooled white chocolate all at once and continue to beat until the whipped cream holds firm peaks. Turn the whipped cream into a bowl, press a piece of plastic wrap gently against the surface to create an airtight seal and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 6 hours.

To Assemble the Cake:
If the tops of the cake layers have crowned, use a long serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion to even them. Slice each layer horizontally in half. Place one layer cut side down on a cardboard cake round or on a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper.

Remove the dark and white chocolate creams from the refrigerator and whisk each of them vigorously to loosen and smooth them. With a long metal icing spatula, spread enough dark chocolate cream (about 1 cup) over the cake layer to cover it completely. Top the cream with another cake layer, cut side up, and cover this layer with white chocolate whipped cream, making the white layer about the same thickness as the dark layer. Cover with a third layer, cut side up, and cover with another cup or so of the dark chocolate cream. (You’ll have some dark chocolate cream left over – use it as a dip for madeleines or sables.) Top with the final layer of cake, cut side down, and frost the sides and top with the remaining white chocolate whipped cream. If you’d like to decorate the top with chocolate shavings or curls, do it now.

Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or overnight.

Serving: Remove the cake from the fridge about 20 minutes before serving. Use a serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion to cut it. Though the cake is particularly good with coffee or tea, it also goes well with a sweet or sparkling dessert wine.

Storing: While both the dark chocolate cream and white chocolate cream can be made ahead and kept tightly covered in the refrigerator, once assembled, the cake is best after about 3 hours in the fridge. However, it can be refrigerated overnight – just cover it loosely and keep it away from foods with strong odors.