Monday, September 28, 2009

Greek Shrimp and Asparagus Risotto

As you may know, I love to make and eat risotto, but sometimes it's a little tough during the week to find the time to make what can sometimes be a labor-intensive dish. When I really think about it though, the time spent standing there stirring the rice and broth around pretty much equals any other sort of nice meal I would make anyway, so I should really make it more often (or at least until I have a crying infant needing my attention)!

This one did not disappoint. Even Chuck, who is not wild about feta, enjoyed this because there were a lot of other flavors in there - the shrimp, asparagus, dill, and lemon. Everything combined to make a satisfying meal.

I didn't change anything about the original recipe except to use all chicken broth instead of water for some of it. I halved the recipe for Chuck and I and we ate it all in one sitting!

Here's the link:

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Oriental Beef and Noodles

More meals to freeze and this one was super simple. It was made in the slow cooker; something I don't normally do on a workday because I leave too early and our dinner is usually dried out by the time we eat at night, 12 hours later. But this recipe called for cooking on low 9-10 hours, which I could manage.

Not a pretty dish, but we really liked this for an easy dinner. It is not for those watching their salt intake though, unless you can find a low-sodium stir fry sauce (I could not), but tasty nonetheless. It uses beef stew meat, which can obviously be tough and chewy, but after so long in the slow cooker it was practically shredding on our forks. Yum!

Oriental Beef and Noodles
adapted from Cook Once, Eat Twice Slow Cooker Recipes
Makes 4-6 servings

1 (16 ounce) package frozen stir fry vegetables
2 - 2 1/2 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1" cubes
1 (12 ounce) bottle stir-fry sauce, any flavor
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 (3 ounce) packages ramen noodles, broken
1/4 cup green onions, chopped

Coat a 4 quart slow cooker with cooking spray. Place frozen vegetables in the bottom and top with stew meat. In a medium bowl, stir together stir-fry sauce, water, and red pepper. Pour over stew meat and vegetables in cooker.

Cover and cook on low for 9-10 hours or on high for 4 1/2-5 hours (I recommend low, it will help to break the meat down more).

At the end of cooking time, discard spice packets from ramen noodles. Stir noodles and green onions into meat mixture. Cover and let stand 10 minutes more. Stir before serving. This can be kept on warm for 1-2 hours.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Zippy Turkey Bake

The time has finally come for me to start making meals that I can freeze and then use after the baby is born. We love casseroles in our house, so it's a fairly easy task. I got this recipe from a cookbook my mom had and played with the amounts of ingredients so that I could get two dinner-sized dishes out of it - one to eat now and one to freeze.

It turned out very well for a weeknight supper. I used ground turkey instead of ground beef, but you could use either (I didn't think Zippy Meat Bake had quite the right ring to it though). Chuck and I both enjoyed this slightly spicy, creamy, cheesy dish with just the right amount of hearty vegetables.

Zippy Turkey Bake
adapted from Taste of Home
Makes 6-8 servings

1 1/3 pound package lean ground turkey
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
3 medium zucchini or yellow squash, halved vertically and sliced
8 ounces sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
3 cups rice, cooked (I measured out 3 cups uncooked rice, not 3 cups cooked rice)
2 (4-ounce) cans diced green chilies
1 cup sour cream
2 cups shredded Pepper Jack cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13 x 9 or two 8 x 8 baking dishes.

Cook turkey over medium heat in large skillet, drain. Add butter, zucchini, mushrooms, and green onions; cook and stir until vegetables are tender. Drain if necessary. Stir in chili powder, salt, and garlic powder. Remove from heat.

If the skillet is big enough, add rice, green chilies, sour cream, and 1 cup shredded cheese to turkey mixture and stir to combine. If not, add all ingredients to a large bowl and mix.

Turn mixture into baking dishes. Sprinkle with remaining shredded cheese. Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes, until heated through and slightly bubbly.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Pumpkin Raisin Oat Muffins

For those of us that love to bake, the first hint of fall weather (or really, just the word September) often starts brings about the strong desire to bake with pumpkin. And with the recent rumors of a pumpkin shortage, I ran out to the store and picked up some cans of the pumpkin puree - I need to go back soon to stockpile it! So when I saw these healthy muffins on my friend Jenn's blog, I decided they would be a good starting point for all things pumpkin.

Jenn suggests using yogurt instead of butter to make these a bit healthier, but I had some applesauce in my fridge already so I used that instead. Various taste-testers approved these and said you could barely notice that there was no butter! I often think I can taste a small difference, but for a mid-morning snack, they are perfect and you feel good eating them.

Pumpkin Raisin Oat Muffins
slightly adapted from Jenn and Food, Perfect Together
Makes 12 muffins

3/4 cup whole wheat or all-purpose flour
3/4 cup old fashioned oats
2/3 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
1/4 cup butter, melted or 1/4 cup applesauce
3/4 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease and flour or line a 12-cup muffin tin.

Whisk together the flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large mixing bowl.
In a separate bowl, stir together the pumpkin, milk, egg, and butter/applesauce. Make a well in the dry mixture and gradually stir the pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture, just until all ingredients are moistened. Fold in the raisins.

Spoon batter into muffin tins, filling about 3/4 of the way. Bake 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Cheesy Tomato Sausage Skillet

One of my favorite things to make on a weeknight is an easy pasta dish that can then be used as leftovers for Chuck's lunch the next day. And the quicker and easier it is, the better! This recipe is from my friend Brooke's food blog, and I changed it a bit since chicken is already on the menu this week.

I was pleased with how this came out, my recipe below reflects a little tweaking in the herbs and spices department, and I had to use Parmesan cheese because I forgot to buy the mozzarella! Using the hot Italian sausage gives the dish a little kick - we really enjoyed this!

Cheesy Tomato Sausage Skillet
slightly adapted from ...and a cookie for dessert
Makes 3-4 servings

8 ounces ziti or penne pasta
8 ounces hot Italian sausage
1 can Healthy Request cream of chicken soup
1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
1 1/2 cups skim milk
1 tablespoon dried basil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella or freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta as directed until al dente. Drain and keep warm.

Heat a large skillet over mediun-high heat. Remove casings from sausage and crumble into pan. Cook until browned and cooked through. Reduce heat to medium; add soup, tomatoes, milk, and seasonings. Stir in cooked pasta. Cook about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until bubbly and heated through (sauce should slightly thicken).

Sprinkle with cheese and remove from heat. Cover and let stand 5 minutes. Serve with more cheese if desired.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Cake Batter Ice Cream

If you are one of those people who loves to lick the spoon after you have mixed up cake batter, then this ice cream is for you! One bite of this and you can taste the deliciousness that is the sweet, doughy cake batter - all without raw eggs!

I followed the recipe almost exactly, taking the tip to use fat-free half and half but keeping the whole milk. The milk is really what makes the difference - don't skimp on that and you can use low-fat or fat-free with the cream. Instead of putting the sprinkles in the batter, I topped the finished product with white chocolate chips and rainbow nonpareils - yum!

Here is the link right to where I found the recipe on Sweet Tea in Texas:

Monday, September 7, 2009

Emeril's Macaroni Salad

Happy Labor Day everyone! As I sit here trying to mentally psych myself up to return to work tomorrow (only for 18 school days though!), I of course have to share with you the pasta salad I made to bring to my parents' today.

I was looking for something a little different, and when I saw this had goat cheese as well as prosciutto and olives in it, I knew it had to be a good flavor combination. I actually added 8 more ounces of pasta than the recipe called for since I was bringing it for a crowd; but didn't increase the other ingredients, so it looks a little sparse. If you make it according to the recipe, it will be chock full of good stuff.

The dressing had a nice flavor with the hint of Dijon mustard, and went nicely with all add-ins. The only other change I made was to use grape tomatoes instead of a whole one, so I will just link you right to the recipe. Hope everyone has a great day at work tomorrow!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Whenever we go out to get ice cream, Chuck always chooses mint chocolate chip, so I really wanted to try and make it at home. This recipe was very good - Chuck loved that it uses mini chocolate chips so there is chocolate in every bite, rather than just every so often.

Obviously I didn't use the green food coloring, and I tried to make it a little lower in fat by using skim milk and light cream, which didn't work so well. The taste was still very good but it's definitely not as creamy as it should be. When I make this again I will just follow the original recipe!

I don't recommend that you change anything from the original so I will just link you to Food alla Puttanesca, where I found it!

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Asparagus Salad with Roasted Peppers and Goat Cheese

I finally joined the local library over the summer (after living here for 3 years) and have rediscovered what I used to love about it. I go in empty-handed and leave with arms full of books that I read voraciously - I can't get enough! A few weeks ago I realized that there are stacks and stacks of cookbooks there. Perfect! I can find most recipes I need on the internet these days, so I hate to spend money on a whole cookbook. So I take a few out at a time, get some ideas, and return them for more!

This recipe comes from Anna Pump's cookbook, Summer on a Plate. The book caught my eye because I know that Ina Garten often refers to Anna's store, Loaves and Fishes, in her own cookbooks.

The dressing here is amazing - it is very simple, but Chuck and I both loved it and we were sad when it was gone! And once it's combined with all the delicious vegetables, salty olives, and the creamy goat cheese, this was an excellent salad!

Asparagus Salad with Roasted Peppers and Goat Cheese
slightly adapted from Summer on a Plate
Makes 3-4 side dish servings

4 ounces roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
1 pound medium asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1" pieces
4 ounces baby spinach, washed and dried
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup pitted black olives, cut in half (I used Kalamata)
3 ounces crumbled goat cheese

1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
5 tablespoons good quality extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt and coarst ground black pepper, to taste

Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add asparagus and cook until just tender but still green, 2-3 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water.

Combine spinach, red onion, red pepper, and asparagus in large bowl.

Combine dressing ingredients in a jar that can be tightly sealed. Seal and shake well. Spoon half the dressing over salad. Mix gently to coat vegetables.

Before serving, sprinkle with olive and goat cheese. Serve extra dressing on the side.