Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Farfalle with Turkey Italian Sausage and Provolone

 Well, I'm back from our short, but very enjoyable anniversary trip. We enjoyed a few delightful, but very rainy days in Branson, Missouri. Branson is only about 1 1/2 hours from here so we've had many of the same storms. We've had so much rain and it's rather cool outside, but that's another story.
One of the best things about going on a trip is eating out. I loved not cooking and not having to clean up a messy kitchen. Don't get me wrong, I do love to cook, but a break every so often is something I look forward to. And now that we are back home, I'm having trouble getting back in the groove of making meals. Sigh. I didn't even have to cook for Easter. Eric, son number 1, and his wife Steff, had us over for a delicious ham dinner, so no kitchen duty that day either!
Last night I wanted something easy to make, so I used mostly what was on hand. I had gone grocery shopping and picked up some Turkey Italian Sausage and the other ingredients were items I had in my pantry.  Nothing fancy, but it was delicious and full of flavor. I browned the links of sausage in a skillet and then sliced it when cool, but you could break up the meat if you like. I used a jar of marinara, and some pasta that needed to be used, and a few spoon fulls of ricotta cheese that needed to be used. Yup, this is a pantry meal, but it turned out very tasty! Here's what I did.
from Lynda's Recipe Box

8 ounces farfalle, or other pasta
save about 1/2 cup water from the cooked pasta
1- 24 ounce jar of marinara sauce, or about 2 1/2 cups of homemade sauce
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
pinch of red pepper flakes
12 ounces of Italian Turkey Sausage links - or other Italian sausage or ground beef
Provolone cheese slices- or mozzarella cheese
grated Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions. Save back about 1/2 cup of the water. In skillet over medium  heat, add 1 tablespoon oil and brown the sausage, covered for about 10 minutes, or until done. Reduce heat if necessary. Remove sausages to a plate to cool. Slice sausage into 1/2 inch pieces. Mix the ricotta cheese and the marinara sauce together in a bowl. Stir in the pasta, red pepper flakes and the sliced sausage. The ricotta cheese will make the sauce thicker, so use some of the pasta cooking water to thin the sauce if needed. Pour into a casserole dish and top with slices of provolone or mozzarella cheese. Cover dish tightly with foil and bake in a preheated oven for 20-30 minutes until bubbly and cheese is melted. Serves 4-6 people. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Strawberry Yogurt Muffins

If you like strawberries and you like muffins with a healthy twist, you should like these Strawberry Yogurt Muffins.  I am re-posting these delicious muffins because they would be a great addition to your Easter or Mother's Day brunch, or breakfast any other day. Just because they are lower in fat doesn't mean there is any less flavor. I use more strawberries than called for in the original recipe which makes them extra yummy.
I hope you'll give these a try.
I will be gone for a few days as my husband and I are taking a short trip. We are celebrating our 33rd wedding anniversary! Actually it was a couple of weeks ago and we are just now getting around to it. So, I hope you all have a wonderful Easter and I'll be back in a few days catching up with all your fantastic recipes. Now here's my recipe!

adapted from this recipe

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour- original recipe uses 1 cup
1/2 cup whole wheat flour- original recipe uses 1 cup
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cups chopped strawberries- I use about 1 1/2 c.
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup melted butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl mix the flours, sugar and baking soda. Add in the chopped strawberries and stir just to coat. In another bowl, mix the eggs and yogurt, then add the melted butter and vanilla and mix. Gradually add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and stir in. Don't over mix; batter will be thick. Distribute batter among 12  greased muffin cups. Sprinkle with coarse sugar if desired. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden. Hope you enjoy these delicious treats!

NOTE: If you are using cup cake liners, you may want to lightly spray them with cooking spray (PAM), as the muffins will stick to the papers at first. Or, just spray the muffin tin and don't use liners.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Watergate Salad

I'm sure just about everybody has this recipe for Watergate Salad somewhere in their possession. It's been around since about 1975 when Kraft developed it and named it Pistachio Pineapple Delight. My Mother made this often for Easter dinner and also around the Christmas and Thanksgiving holidays. It is still a popular salad where I live. It shows up in about every church pot luck and many salad bars here. It is sweet; more of a dessert salad really, but it is easy to throw together and lasts several days in the refrigerator. I love the different textures in this salad; the creaminess with the crunch of the pecans and the tang of pineapple. This is another oldie but goodie recipe! Hope you enjoy..


9 ounce carton whipped topping- Cool Whip
3 3/4 oz. package instant pistachio pudding
15 ounce can crushed pineapple in its own juices
1 cup miniature marshmallows
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Fold dry pudding mix into whipped topping. Add canned pineapple and juice, marshmallows and chopped nuts. Mix gently and refrigerate. Serves 6-10

Monday, April 18, 2011

Fastest Cinnamon Buns ( No Yeast)

When I saw this recipe, I knew I wanted to try it. Not because it promised tasty Cinnamon Buns quickly, but because the recipe uses cottage cheese! I was intrigued. This dough is similar to a buttermilk biscuit recipe; in fact the cheese is the only difference. Several reviewers had substituted ricotta cheese for the cottage cheese, so I chose to use that since I had it in my fridge. These rolls are somewhat lighter than a biscuit dough, but don't be deceived-they won't replace a traditional yeast roll. What they do is give you a delicious quick roll when the craving hits. These were mixed and baked in about 45 minutes, making them perfect to serve at brunch time, maybe for Easter or Mother's Day. If you want a delicious yeast roll, try these wonderful AmishCinnamon Rolls with Caramel Frosting . They are my favorite. But if you want something quick, these buns will do nicely. Here's the recipe.

adapted from Fine Cooking

For the Dough:
3/4 cup cottage cheese (4 percent milk fat- I used full fat ricotta)
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups (9 ounces) unbleached all purpose flour; more for rolling
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

For the Filling:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Recipe also used 1/4 t. cloves-1/2 t. allspice and 1 cup chopped pecans, which I did not use.

2/3 cup confectioners sugar
2-3 T. milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 ounce cream cheese, softened - my addition

1. To make the dough, combine the cottage cheese, or ricotta,, buttermilk, sugar, melted butter, and vanilla in a large bowl (The recipe uses a food processor, but I don't have a large one. A hand mixer worked just fine). Mix until smooth. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda and mix until the dough comes together. It will be crumbly at first, but then come together as a soft and moist dough.
2. Scrape the dough out onto a floured surface and knead just until smooth, 5 or 6 times. Roll out dough into a 12x15 inch rectangle. ( Dough is easy to work with).

3. To make filling, combine the brown sugar and cinnamon, other spices and nuts if using. Brush the 2 tablespoons melted butter over the rolled out dough. Sprinkle the cinnamon mixture over the dough and pat gently into the surface.
4. Roll the dough up jelly-roll style. Pinch the seam to seal.
5. Cut into 12 even sized rolls with a sharp knife. Set the rolls, cut side up into a greased 9 inch round cake pan or spring form pan.
6. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 20 to 28 minutes. Remove pan from oven and set on wire rack to cool.

7. To make glaze, mix the confectioners sugar, milk, vanilla and cream cheese in a bowl with mixer. If it's not as thin as you like, thin it down with more milk.. Drizzle glaze over the rolls. Let stand a few minutes and then serve. Best eaten the day they are prepared. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Lemon Potatoes

I've got to say that these Lemon Potatoes are awesome! This Cook's Country Recipe is one I'll be making often as my husband and I both enjoyed the wonderful lemon and garlic flavor that permeated the potatoes. The recipe calls for baby red potatoes because they crisp up better than Yukon Gold's, but I had 5 pounds of small Yukon Gold's in my pantry, so I didn't want to buy more spuds. The yellow potatoes do get softer after cooking, but the flavor is still tremendous. Red potatoes have lots of starch, so Cook's recommends rinsing them under water after they have been cut, to rinse off a bunch of that starch. I served these delicious potatoes along side a simple roasted chicken and a fresh green salad. It was a fantastic meal! I've made them twice now, and did use red potatoes the second time. Yes, they do getter crispier, than yellow spuds, but both taste delicious. I hope you'll try these amazing potatoes.

adapted from Cook's Country

2 pounds baby red potatoes, scrubbed and halved (or quartered if they are a bit larger), I used baby Yukon Golds
2 garlic cloves, smashed- I used very large cloves
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 minced garlic cloves- I did not use these
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley- I didn't measure, just chopped some

1.Rinse the cut potatoes in a colander under running water. Drain potatoes well.

2. In a large nonstick skillet, add the chicken broth, smashed garlic, lemon juice and about 1/2 teaspoon salt and the potatoes. and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and cover and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, under just tender. Remove the lid and increase the heat to medium. cook potatoes until all the liquid evaporates., about 5 minutes.

3. Add the 2 T. olive oil to pan. Discard the smashed garlic. Turn potatoes to cut side down, to cook until deep golden brown. Turn carefully if need to brown all sides. Cooking time is maybe 6 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the parsley, lemon zest and the minced garlic ; ( didn't use minced garlic).
Season with salt and pepper and serve. These potatoes are so addictive! I made a half recipe for just my husband and I, and we ate them all - and we were not ashamed. Enjoy!

NOTE: Don't use more potatoes than your skillet can comfortably handle. Since the potatoes need to crisp, they must be able to lay cut side flat.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Honey Mustard Chicken Breasts

 I was going through a box yesterday and found this recipe, written on a piece of paper and I have no idea where I got it, but since I needed a fast dinner idea, I decided to try it. I love honey and mustard together, so it couldn't be too bad. I made changes, of course and ended up with a delicious weeknight meal that was made even better by topping it with fresh chives from my garden. My chives actually survived our harsh winter and now it is humongous! The chives gave this dish such a fresh, delicious crunch. Green onions would do the same thing. The sauce contains sauteed onion, but I have left it out of the recipe as it is not needed. But don't leave out the fresh chives or scallions. I cut back on the flour too as it thickened the sauce too much I thought. Also, the chicken breasts were lightly floured, but they would still be good browned without it. So, if you need another quick, simple meal idea, give this Honey Mustard Chicken a try.
adapted from an unknown source

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
1-2 tablespoons oil or butter
2 teaspoon flour
1 -15 ounce can low sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons honey
salt and pepper to taste
thinly sliced fresh chives or green onions

In a skillet heat the oil or butter over medium heat. I used 1 T. olive oil and 1 T. butter. Lay each chicken breast between plastic wrap and pound with mallet to an even thickness, about 3/4 inch.  Season chicken with salt and pepper and then flour lightly in the 1/2 cup flour. Shake off excess flour. Brown chicken in skillet, about 3-4 minutes per side. Remove chicken to a plate. Add the 2 teaspoon flour to skillet; stir and cook for about 1 minute. Add chicken broth to the skillet; increase the heat to a boil. Whisk the flour and broth as it cooks, scraping up all those yummy brown pieces in the pan. I cooked it for about 3 minutes. Whisk in the Dijon mustard and honey and simmer until slightly thickened. If the chicken still needs to finish cooking, lay the pieces back in the pan and cover. Cook for a couple of minutes, or until done. Season sauce with salt and pepper if needed. Serve with rice to soak up all the tasty sauce. Garnish with chives or green onions. Enjoy!

NOTE: The original recipe contained 2 tablespoon each of mustard and honey, but it needed more. You will need to taste the sauce to get it right just for you.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Slow Cooker Ham with Brown Sugar and Pineapple

I've been experimenting again. Sometimes I think I have such a great idea and I won't quit thinking about it until I just follow through with it. Sometimes it turns out well, sometimes not. This method turned out very good! We loved the ham cooked this way.
I decided to try cooking a ham in my crock pot, thinking it would make an occasional Sunday dinner a bit easier. I don't want to be sitting in church and wondering if the ham in my oven is burning, so thus the crock pot reasoning. If I cook Easter dinner this year, I want it to be easy. I want a great meal, and I want my day of rest too! Ha Ha!
Technically, the crock pot did work. I knew that other people use it for ham, but I hadn't tried it. Also, I love an orange glaze on ham, but decided to try pineapple this time. I had the idea of using crushed pineapple, so I poured a can of it over the ham, added some brown sugar, (I wanted to add some maple syrup but was out), and let it cook away. Son number 1 stopped by to pick up my little granddaughter, and couldn't resist carving himself a hunk of ham. He declared that it had great flavor. Really great flavor.
My husband and daughter said it was good also. Me? I have to admit that the combination of the brown sugar and pineapple was delicious. It cut through the saltiness of the ham quite nicely. Here's the experiment; I thought I'd try cooking down the juices and the crushed pineapple to use as a chunky sauce. It was very rich, way too rich, and it was hard to skim all the fat off of the chunky pineapple broth. I won't try that again. The next time, I'll just cook the ham in the pineapple and brown sugar, and leave it at that. The ham was very flavorful and it was so easy. I will not thicken the sauce next time. So, using the slowcooker did work for me, I just need to tweak my method some. Here's what I did this time. I'll update this post when I am completly satisfied with the outcome. UPDATE: 3-23-12- we still love the ham cooked this way. Don't mess with making a sauce, but you can spoon the pineapple over the sliced ham if desired, but it really doesn't need it.

Slow Cooker Ham with Brown Sugar, Pineapple Sauce
 1 6-9 pound ham- I used a fully cooked Pork Shoulder Picnick Ham half
 1 20 ounce can crushed pineapple in unsweetened juice, or 2 cups of pineapple juice
 1/2 cup packed, light brown sugar

Place the ham in slowcooker cut side down. Pour the can of crushed pineapple over it along with the brown surgar. Cook covered for about3-4 hours on high, or 5-6 hours on low.  Since I used a fully cooked ham it mostly just needed to be heated, but I like it cooked a bit longer for tenderness. Just don't overcook or it will be dry. Here's how I made the too rich sauce;  pour it into a sauce pan and let set untill the fat separates and rises to the top. Carefully skim all the fat off the pineapple mixture and discard. Bring the mixture to boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook until it is reduced and somewhat thickened. Serve along side the ham. So, the results of my experiement? I will use my slow cooker for ham again. But don't thicken the sauce. So, cook your ham in the slowcooker with brown sugar and pineapple. It will be delicious. But don't make my sauce!
Have you tried using the slow cooker for ham and were you happy with the results? I could use some ideas!

NOTE: If you don't use a fully cooked ham, cooking time will be longer. Also, make sure the ham you buy will fit into your slowcooker.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Salisbury Steak with Mushroom Gravy

Salisbury Steak conjures up images of the TV Dinners that my Mother fed me occasionally, and some school lunches that I ate in grade school. I actually really liked it then, but making your own is much tastier and really easy to do. This dish consists of ground beef with bread crumbs and seasonings added in. I've made my version of this dish for years, but wondered how it got it's name. It was interesting reading several different googled sites. According to Wikipedia and other sources, Salisbury Steak received it's name from an American physician, Dr. James Henry Salisbury, during the Civil War. Dr. Salisbury thought people, especially soldiers, would benefit from eating ground meat 3 times a day for different health problems. Well, I make Salisbury Steak because, it tastes good, and because it makes a very affordable and easy meal. And because my husband loves it! Here's my recipe. SALISBURY STEAK with MUSHROOM GRAVY
from Lynda's Recipe Box
1/2 of a medium onion, diced
2 teaspoons oil
1 pound ground beef chuck-80/20 blend
1/3 cup dry bread crumbs
1/3 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce, or can use steak sauce
about 1/2 teaspoon salt about
1/4 teaspoon pepper
FOR GRAVY: 1/2 of a medium onion, diced
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
1- 15 ounces can of beef broth
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
a couple drops of Kitchen Bouquet, if desired.
In a skillet, saute the onion in the oil until softened. In a large bowl, break up the ground chuck. Add the remaining ingredients and the cooked onion . Stir beef mixture with a fork until combined and then form into patties about 1 inch thick or so. I made 4 patties. Heat the same skillet over medium heat. Add a couple teaspoons of oil if needed, and brown the patties on both sides. (Carefully turn the patties over-they can fall apart easily, and watch closely as the patties can burn because of the bread crumbs and other ingredients).
To make gravy: Make the gravy while the beef patties cook. In a sauce pan, melt the butter and add the sliced mushrooms and diced onion. Saute until all the liquid from the mushrooms evaporates and the onions are soft. Stir in the flour and cook about 30 seconds. Stir in about half of the beef broth until the gravy is smooth, then add the remaining broth and cook a couple of minutes. Stir in Kitchen Bouquet, if using. Season with salt and pepper. When the beef patties are browned on both sides, pour the gravy over the patties, and cook, covered, for about 5 minutes, until the patties are done. If gravy needs to thicken more, cook a bit longer, or if you need to thin the gravy, add a bit of water. I served this Salisbury Steak with egg noodles this time, but we like it with mashed potatoes the best. Let me know if you give this dish a try. Enjoy!
NOTE: Kitchen Bouquet is a browning and seasoning sauce found in the grocers on the condiment isle. In my store it's next to the steak sauces.