Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Pioneer Woman's Baked Lemon Pasta

I have read mixed reviews on various food sites/blogs about this recipe. Well our opinion-We loved it! It is different to have a lemony pasta, but both Dave and I liked the change. This will be a great addition to our week night meal rotations. This is the first Pioneer Woman recipe that I have tried, and I can say that we will be trying some more. Whenever I make these heavier pasta dishes, I use a whole wheat or grain pasta. I find it makes them more filling which holds us back from eating too much. We also had a large side salad to pair with this.

You will need:
* 1 pound Thin Spaghetti (I used a 13 oz package of whole wheat spaghetti)
* 4 Tablespoons Salted Butter
* 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
* 2 cloves Garlic, Minced
* 1 whole Lemon, Juiced And Zested (Dave was excited to use the microplane!)
* 2 cups Sour Cream
* 1⁄2 teaspoons Kosher Salt, Or More To Taste
* Grated Parmesan Cheese
* Flat-leaf Parsley, Chopped
* Extra Lemon Juice

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook spaghetti until al dente.

2) In a skillet, melt butter with olive oil over low heat. When butter is melted, add minced garlic. Squeeze lemon juice into the pan. Turn off heat.

3) Add sour cream and stir mixture together. Add lemon zest and salt. Taste, then add more salt if necessary. Pour mixture over drained spaghetti and stir together, then pour spaghetti into an oven safe dish.

4) Bake, covered, for 15 minutes. Then remove foil and bake for an additional 7 to 10 minutes. (I baked it for 8 more minuntes once the foil was removed)

5) When you remove it from the oven, squeeze a little more lemon juice over the top. Top generously with Parmesan cheese, then chopped parsley. Give it a final squeeze of lemon juice at the end.

I this could work with some chopped/shredded chicken added in as a protein. Maybe I will try that some time in the future...

Monday, December 28, 2009

Chick Pea/Roasted Red Pepper Dip

This is an appetizer from one of my favorite blogs. It comes from Gina's Weight Watcher Recipes. I highly recommend that you check out Gina's blog for some healthy meals. I look forward to posting more of her great recipes that we have enjoyed. I brought this dip to enjoy with friends while watching a Patriots game. The colorful presentation of the veggies combined with the red hint of the dip made it very appealing!

You will need:
*1 15 oz can garbanzo beans, drained
*1 roasted red pepper (I used a jarred pepper)
* 2 tbsp fresh parsley leaves
* 2 cloves garlic
* 2 tbsp sesame oil
* juice of 1 lemon
* salt and fresh pepper

1) Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. (You can add water if it is too thick)
2) Serve with fresh vegetables such as peppers, cucumber, celery, carrots, and any other vegetable you enjoy.

Peppermint Mocha Cupcakes

One of my favorite signs of the holiday season is the peppermint mocha latte at Starbucks. It is one of the few Starbucks drinks I splurge on. Typically I enjoy this indulgence while tackling some holiday shopping at the mall. This year Coffeemate had a peppermint mocha nondairy creamer at my local grocery store. It is amazing! So all of this peppermint mocha talk translates to these cupcakes. When they popped up on my google reader, I knew I had to try them. These were a combination of the minty chocolatey goodness that I always enjoy. This was my first time using a pastry bag to frost cupcakes. I looked up some techniques and tips after I did these (clearly, I should have reversed that order!) Even though they looked a bit messy, they were tasty and festive.

These were another wonderful recipe from Annie's Eats. I followed Annie's exact recipe, so I am going to send you to her site to get the details.

Pretzel Treats

This was the first year I did a TON of holiday baking. However, these treats are something that I have been making for a couple years now. I first received the recipe from one of my parent's neighbors. Now I have coworkers and some family members requesting more! The fun part is that you can mix different flavors by choosing a variety of Hershey kisses or M&Ms. This time of year, I prefer to make them with the candy cane kisses. The caramel and mint truffle, or any kiss with a filling in the middle, taste good, but they do often ooze through the pretzel. This is a great recipe to make with kids because you can have their assistance with unwrapping kisses and placing them on all the pretzels. Thanks to Hershey's endless flavor varieties, these could be made any time of the year.

You will need:
*square pretzels
*Hershey kisses

1) Preheat the oven to 200.
2) Unwrap all of the kisses you plan on using.
3) Cover a cookie sheet with parchment or wax paper. Spread the pretzels out onto the wax paper. (I do not use any broken ones. I put them aside to enjoy with peanut butter later!) Top each pretzel with a Hershey kiss.
4)Bake for about 5 minutes. The kisses will appear shiny as they are beginning to melt.
5) Remove cookie sheet from the oven. Top each kiss with a M&M and push it down.
6) Put the sheet pan in the fridge until the treats have set.
I keep these in the fridge in bags or containers until I am ready to serve/gift them.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Gingerbread Biscotti

Merry Christmas! I hope everyone enjoyed the holiday. We sure did! In preparation for many Christmas celebrations, I did a lot of baking over this past week. This gingerbread biscotti was one of my favorite things that I made. It was perfect with a cup of coffee on Christmas morning. This recipe is from Annie's Eats. Her recipes and photos always seem appealing! I saved this recipe and had kind of forgotten about it. Once I found the cinnamon chips at the grocery store, they sparked my memory. I highly recommend you try this soon.

You will need:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour*
(*The original recipe called for 1 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour and 1 cup whole wheat flour. I didn't have any wheat flour so I added a cup of all-purpose)
1 1/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 bag Hershey’s cinnamon chips
1/4 cup molasses
2 large eggs
2 cups chocolate chips or coarsely chopped chocolate, for dipping

1) Preheat the oven to 35o degrees F. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper.

2) Combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, spices and cinnamon chips in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on low speed until combined.

3)In a small bowl, combine eggs with molasses and stir well. With the mixer on low speed, pour egg mixture into dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

4) Divide the dough into two equal halves* and form into two 10-inch logs on the prepared baking sheets, at least 4 inches apart. Bake for about 30 minutes, then allow to cool for 10 minutes.
*I think I would do this different next time. I liked the size of the candy cane biscotti a bit better; it made it easier to gift. I think I may try making three logs when I make these again.

5) Using a long serrated knife slice each log into 3/4-inch to 1-inch pieces on the diagonal. Separate on the baking sheet so that the sides are not touching. Bake for an additional 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.

6) Once the biscotti is completely cool, place chopped chocolate or chocolate chips in a double boiler and melt until smooth. (I used Baker's white chocolate and topped it with some red and green sugar topping) Dip half of each biscotti into the chocolate, shake gently to remove excess, and place on the parchment covered baking sheet to set.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Tortellini Primavera

This was an incredibly rich dinner. It smelled amazing while it was cooking and it tasted even better. I really should call it tortellini and spinach because that is basically all we put in it! This quick and easy recipe is great for a filling weeknight meal. It would be amazing with the mushrooms added, but that is not an option for me because then Dave wouldn't touch it. We will certainly make this splurge meal again.

I found this recipe on Stephanie Cooks and she got it from Annie's Eats

You will need:
1 cup mushrooms, chopped (omitted)
1⁄2 cup chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tbsp. margarine
10 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained (we used fresh chopped)
8 oz. cream cheese (reduced fat is all I usually buy)
1 tomato, chopped (omitted)
1⁄4 cup milk
1⁄4 cup parmesan cheese
1 tsp Italian seasoning
salt and pepper, to taste
family sized frozen cheese tortellini (our store only has a 10 oz bag-so we used that)

1) Heat margarine in a skillet. Add mushrooms, onion and garlic and sautee.
2) Add all remaining ingredients except tortellini. Heat until all have melted together and are well blended. Cook until the mixture just begins to boil, stirring occasionally. Stir in tortellini.

Oreo Truffles

I have seen this all over the internet this holiday season. While I was intrigued, I had never tried one and wasn't sure I would like them. WOW was I wrong. These are such a simple treat that is packed with oreo goodness. Dave has already requested that I make more of these for him to enjoy.

*I do not have a source for this recipe because I had truly seen it everywhere!

You will need:
*8 ounces cream cheese softened (I used reduced fat to rationalize eating more of these!)
*1 package of oreos
*best quality chocolate-white or milk
(I also made a batch using red and green chocolate wafers I picked up from AC Moore)

1. Crush oreos in a food processor. (I prefer putting them in a freezer ziplock and banging them with our mallet)

2) Beat the cream cheese for a couple minutes to smooth out. Add in just over 1/2 of the broken oreos and mix until thoroughly combined. Then add in the rest of the oreos and mix just until combined.

3)Put some wax paper on a cookie sheet that will fit in the freezer. Roll cookies into balls using your hands or a cookie scoop. Freeze the balls for about an hour.

4) Slowly melt the chocolate in a double boiler, stirring occasionally, until most of the chunks are smooth. (I create this by putting a silver mixing bowl over a pan of simmering water) Dip frozen balls into the chocolate and return them to the wax paper.
(You may want to drizzle another chocolate over the balls or you can sprinkle them with something) *I am trying to improve in my chocolate dipping ability...

5. Freeze balls for another hour or so. Then you can transfer to air tight container, and place in freezer or fridge until ready to serve.

Cinnamon Sugar Muffins

It happens every year. While shopping for others, I bought myself an early Christmas present. I spotted the Wilton mini-muffin pans on sale at Target for $7 and I had to have them! As soon as I brought them home, I made these little muffins. I brought them into work with the rest of my holiday treats, and I received many compliments on them. I also kept catching Dave stealing one of these from the container, so I know they were tasty!

This recipe is supposed to yield 12 muffins or 24 mini muffins. I must not be generous with my muffin filling because I always end up with more. I made about 32 mini muffins with this recipe.

This recipe is from Cook with Sara

You will need for the muffins:
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup milk

and for the topping:
1 Tbsp. butter, melted (I needed a bit more)
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1) In a mixing bowl, beat together egg and sugar until fluffy. Add the flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg; beat just until combined (the mixture will be crumbly).

2)In a measuring cup, combine milk, oil and vanilla; add to flour mixture and mix well.

3) Pour into muffin cups or mini muffin cups lined with papers or sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

4) Cool for 10 minutes. Combine cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl. Melt butter in a second small bowl. When muffins are cool enough to handle, remove from muffin pans and dip muffin tops in melted butter, then in cinnamon sugar mixture.

Candy Cane Biscotti

I was a bit nervous making this treat because I have never attempted biscotti before. I was excited to see how simple this recipe was to follow. These minty treats tasted great with my newest addiction this holiday season. That is Coffeemate's peppermint mocha non-dairy creamer. It truly reminds me of a starbucks peppermint mocha when I add it to my coffee. Anyway, back to the recipe. I gifted these to coworkers along with a few other treats. I plan on making another batch, and possibly some other biscotti, to have around this week. The recipe below is taken from Pennies on a Platter.

You will need:
*2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
*1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
*1/4 teaspoon salt
*8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
*1/2 cup granulated sugar
*3 large eggs
*2/3 cup finely crushed peppermint candy canes
*14 ounces fine quality white chocolate, melted (I used what I had on hand-10 oz)
*extra crushed candy canes to sprinkle on top

1) Preheat oven to 350˚.

2) In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.

3)In a large mixing bowl, beat together butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each. Add dry ingredients and mix until combined – stir in crushed candy.

4) Evenly divide dough into 4 pieces on a lightly floured surface. Shape each piece into 9″ x 1 1/2″ round log. Place logs 3 inches apart onto parchment-lined baking sheet.

5) Bake until tops are cracked and ends just start to turn light brown, about 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven and reduce temperature to 325. Cool logs 10 minutes on cookie sheet.

6) Cut each log diagonally into 1/2″ slices with sharp serrated knife. (Discard ends, if you want.) Arrange pieces standing up back onto the baking sheet.

7) Bake until cookies are light golden brown and crisp on both sides, about 12 to 15 minutes. The centers may still be a little soft, but will firm up as they cool. Place onto cool rack and cool completely.

8) Dip half of each biscotti into melted chocolate – shake off excess. Immediately sprinkle with additional crushed candy canes and set on a parchment or wax paper lined baking sheet until the chocolate has set.

This recipe makes just under 4 dozen.

Chicken Crescent Pockets

I love the ease of cooking with crescent rolls. I do not think I will ever make a crescent recipe that I do not like. So I am asking myself-why did we wait so long to try these? They are simple and delicious! At this busy time of year, I have been baking many treats. Therefore, my time spent making dinner has been a bit neglected. I have been searching through my saved recipes to find things that look tasty and easy. This recipe was so good that we have had it twice in the past month.

Source: Delish blog

You will need:
*3 oz low fat cream cheese, softened
*1 Tbsp butter, melted
*2 c cooked chicken. diced/shredded (I used 2 chicken breast boiled and shredded)
*2 Tbsp milk
*salt & pepper, to taste
*1 (8 oz) can reduced-fat Pillsbury Refrigerated Crescent Dinner Rolls
*1/2 cup seasoned croutons, crushed (I used garlic and onion flavored ones)

1) Heat oven to 350°F.

2) In medium bowl, combine cream cheese and 1 tablespoon softened butter; stir until smooth. Add chicken, salt, pepper, and milk. Mix well.

3)Separate dough into 4 rectangles (this is done by keeping 2 crescents together). Firmly press perforations to seal. Spoon 1/2 cup chicken mixture onto center of each rectangle. Pull 4 corners of dough to center of chicken mixture; twist firmly. Pinch edges to seal.

4)Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Gently spray tops of chicken pockets with olive oil (or use butter); sprinkle with crushed croutons. Bake at 350°F for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.

*I served this with broccoli on the side. You could also incorporate vegetables into the chicken mixture.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Banana Bread

One of my fondest memories of the holidays is having banana bread for breakfast. My mother made it every Thanksgiving and Christmas. I have tried a variety of recipes, and this is the most recent. It is from the Food Network website. This was tasty with our morning coffee. I am still on the search to find my "favorite" recipe, but I do recommend trying this.

You will need:
* 1 cup granulated sugar
* 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
* 2 large eggs
* 3 ripe bananas
* 1 tablespoon milk
* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1 teaspoon salt


1) Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter a 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan.

2) Cream the sugar and butter in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

3) In a small bowl, mash the bananas with a fork. Mix in the milk and cinnamon. In another bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

4) Add the banana mixture to the creamed mixture and stir until combined. Add dry ingredients, mixing just until flour disappears.

5) Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Set aside to cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Remove bread from pan, invert onto rack and cool completely before slicing.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Lemon Feta Chicken

I am planning to enjoy some indulgences this holiday, while also maintaining a healthy lifestyle. For me, that means translating those holiday treats to more miles on the treadmill! Dave and I are also trying to eat some healthier dinners on the weeknights when we are home. Although, being home for dinner at night isn't happening too often this month! I found this chicken recipe on Daily Deliciousness and knew we would have to try it because we love feta. This was a simple, light, and tasty dinner. I will keep this recipe on file to make it again.

You will need:
* Thin cut chicken breasts
* Juice from half of one lemon
* Lemon pepper seasoning, to taste
* Feta Cheese, about 2 tbs. per piece of chicken

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Place chicken in a 9x13 baking dish
3. Season with lemon pepper seasoning.
4. Pour half the lemon juice over pieces. Then, top each piece with 2 tbs. crumbled Feta
cheese. Pour the rest of the lemon juice over each piece.
5. Bake for 20-25 minutes until cooked through. (I baked this for about 30 minutes)