Sunday, March 27, 2011

Bacon Pierogi Bake

Frozen pierogies are a staple in this house. We sometimes saute them with garlic for lunch, or make a simple dinner by topping them with tomato sauce. As soon as I saw this recipe in December's issue of Cooking Light, I knew I was going to love it. This dinner has popped up on a variety of blogs these past few months, and every post was a reminder that I wanted to make it. Well we finally tried it, and it did not disappoint! When we make this again, I think it would be great with spinach added in. So here's another recipe that supports the bacon-makes-it-better motto.

You will need:
*1 (16 oz) package frozen potato and onion pierogies
*cooking spray (I use my Misto)
*2 center-cut bacon slices, chopped
*2 garlic cloves, minced
*3 oz. reduced-fat cream cheese
*1/2 cup lower-sodium chicken broth
*1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
*1/4 cup thinly diagonally sliced scallions
*1/4 cup chopped seeded plum tomato (omitted this time)
*1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400. Spread the pierogies in a 11 x 7-inch glass baking dish coated with cooking spray.

2. Cook bacon in a saucepan over medium heat until crisp; remove from pan. Set aside.

3. Add garlic to drippings in pan and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add cream cheese to pan, and cook for 1 minute or until cream cheese begins to melt, stirring frequently. Gradually add chicken broth , stirring with a whisk until smooth.

4. Pour the cream cheese mixture evenly over pierogies. Top evenly with cheddar cheese. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes, or until bubbly and thoroughly heated. Remove from oven, and sprinkle with bacon, green onions, tomato, and pepper.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Baked Oatmeal

I'm surprised that I have never blogged this recipe. We've enjoyed it a few times. It is fabulous on it's own or mixed into yogurt. The pan keeps well in the fridge, so sometimes I make it on a weekend for great breakfasts throughout the week. This oatmeal was also popular at the brunch I held for my Mom's birthday. I found this recipe posted on The Mess Pot last year. This comes together easily, and aside from the cranberries, it used staples that we already had on hand.

You will need:
*3 cups old-fashioned oats
*1 cup brown sugar
*2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
*2 teaspoons baking powder
*1 teaspoon salt
*1 cup milk
*2 eggs
*1/2 cup melted butter
*2 teaspoons vanilla extract
*3/4 cup dried cranberries


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, mix together oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Beat in milk, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla extract until combined. Stir in dried cranberries.

3. Spread into a 9x13 inch baking dish, and bake for 40 minutes.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Irish Soda Bread

Happy St. Patrick's Day! It's a beautiful spring day here, and this is exactly how I like to celebrate. Some baking, time outside, and enjoying the anticipation of many spring days to come. On my teaching schedule, St. Patrick's Day always falls over my March break. This allows for even more celebrating! Here's a basic, simple Irish Soda bread recipe that I found on The Confused Homemaker. It does not add in raisins as many of the traditional recipes do, so I knew Dave would eat this version.

You will need:
*4 cups all purpose flour
*1 teaspoon salt
*1 teaspoon baking soda
*2 cups buttermilk
*1/2 cup butter
*2 tablespoons sugar

1. Preheat oven to 425.

2. Sift all dry ingredients together. Create a little circle in the center of them and add softened butter & the buttermilk. Mix together quickly (It will look like a biscuit dough) Kneed it for about a minute, not any longer.

3. Shape into a round cake on a floured sheet pan, or shape it into a cake pan. Carve a cross on the top. Bake for 40 minutes. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Crockpot Corned Beef and Cabbage

Corned beef and cabbage, a staple St. Patrick's Day dinner growing up. Many boiled or roasted dinners happened on Sundays, and my Grandmother always said we had some Irish in us. My father set out to recreate many of these meals during my childhood. I spotted this recipe in the Food Network Magazine March 2010 issue and knew I had to try it out. We actually made this last year on St. Patrick's Day. I liked that this meal cooked in the crockpot over time making it tender and ready by dinner time. It didn't convert me to loving boiled dinners, but it was much better than I anticipated! If you like a traditional boiled dinner, I suggest you give this slow-cooker method a try.

You will need:
*4 pounds lean raw corned beef brisket
*3 tablespoons pickling spice (often included with brisket)
*1 medium rutabaga, halved and cut into wedges
*1 pound large carrots, cut into 3-inch pieces
*1 1/4 pounds large fingerling potatoes
*1 leek, white and light-green parts only, cut into 3-inch pieces
*4-5 cups hot water
*1/2 head Savoy cabbage, cut into wedges
*1/3 cup horseradish, drained
*1/3 cup creme fraiche or sour cream

1. Place the corned beef in the bottom of your slow cooker and scatter the pickling spices on top. In the following order, layer the rutabaga, carrots, potatoes and leek around and over the beef. Add enough 4-5 cups of hot water to cover the meat by at least 1 inch. Cover the slow cooker and cook on high, 7 to 8 hours.

2. After the 7-8 hours, remove the meat and vegetables from the slow cooker and keep warm. Put the cabbage in a microwave-safe dish with 2 cups cooking liquid from the slow cooker. Cover and microwave for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until tender. Meanwhile, boil another cup of cooking liquid in a small skillet for about 10 minutes, or until it's reduced by half. Mix with the horseradish and creme fraeche in a small bowl.

3. Slice the corned beef and serve with the vegetable, cabbage, and horseradish sauce.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Mole-Style Pork Chops

I have another quick, easy, and successful pork chop recipe to share with you. This appeared in my inbox as a "Dinner Tonight" e-mail from My Recipes -an older Cooking Light recipe. The ingredients were stocked in our kitchen, so we gave this recipe a try shortly after receiving it. These are perfect protein for a busy weeknight dinner. The spices provide a nice flavor and the cooking instructions on the recipe were accurate for me.

You will need:
*1 tablespoon brown sugar
*1 teaspoon smoked paprika
*1 teaspoon ground cumin
*1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
*1 teaspoon ground chipotle chile peppers (omitted because we didn't have them)
*1/2 teaspoon salt
*4 pork chops, 1/2 inch thick (I used boneless)
*Cooking spray (I used my misto)

1. Heat a grill pan or skillet over medium heat.

2. Combine first 6 ingredients and rub evenly over both sides of pork. Lightly coat pork with cooking spray.

3. Place pork on the heated pan. Cover and grill 3 minutes on each side or until done. Let stand 3 minutes before serving.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Roasted Chickpeas

So this may not be much of a recipe, but I had never thought of roasting chickpeas until I saw it on Good Thymes and Good Food. These make a great snack, and Dave really enjoyed them. I also liked that these came together quick and easy. I think they'd make a great snack or appetizer to munch on when you have company coming over, or they could be a side if you're looking for a healthier alternative to chips. You could roast chickpeas with any spice combination that you prefer.

You will need:
*1 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained, rinsed, and dried
*1 tablespoon olive oil (I just used my Misto)
*Kosher salt
*3/4 tsp. garlic powder
*pinch cayenne pepper, or more if you want more spice

1. Heat the oven to 450 degrees.
2. Toss the chickpeas with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper. Spread the coated peas into a flat layer on a baking sheet.
3. Bake in oven for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, shake pan to move chickpeas around.
4. Continue to bake for another 15 minutes, checking after every 5 minutes to make sure they do not burn. (Mine were finished just under the total time of 30 minutes)
5. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes before eating.