Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Spinach and Ricotta-Stuffed Shells

* From Real Simple magazine, May 2010--found online here.

PREP: hands-on 20 minutes, total time 45 minutes

20 jumbo pasta shells (about half a 12-oz box)
1 24-oz jar marinara sauce
2 15-oz containers ricotta (I used one low fat and one part skim)
2 cups baby spinach, chopped (I used closer to 3 cups and could have used more)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan (2 oz)
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 cup grated mozzarella (4 oz)

1. Set an oven rack to the highest position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Cook the pasta according to the package directions; drain and run under cold water until cool. (The shells I made were too soft, so next time I'll cook them for 1-2 minutes less than recommended so they're more al dente.)

2. Spread the marinara sauce in the bottom of a large broilerproof baking dish. (I used a glass casserole dish.)

3. In a bowl, combine the ricotta, spinach, Parmesan, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Spoon the mixture into the shells and place them on top of the sauce. Sprinkle with the mozzarella and bake until the shells are heated through, 10-15 minutes.

4. Increase heat to broil. Broil the shells until the cheese begins to brown, 2 to 5 minutes.

Serving Suggestions: a leafy green salad

Andrea's Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

PREP: 10 minutes
SERVES: 12-18

1 box (15 oz.) spice cake mix
1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin
2 cups chocolate chips

Combine dry cake mix and pumpkin and mix well. Add chocolate chips and mix. Spoon mixture into paper-lined muffin tins. If you're making 18 muffins, fill to about 2/3 full. If you're making 12 muffins, fill just above the top. If you're making 4 dozen mini-muffins, use a scoop like this one--one scoop per muffin cup. The batter is very thick and doesn't settle, so you may want to smooth out the tops. Bake at 350 degrees for 18-22 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.

Classic Barbecue Spareribs

*From Real Simple magazine, June 2010--found online here.

PREP: hands-on 30 minutes, total cooking time 3 hours
SERVES: 4 (ours actually made 6 servings of 4-5 ribs per person)

1 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp ground coffee
1 tsp ground cumin
4 Tbsp brown sugar, divided
3/4 tsp cayenne pepper, divided
Kosher salt and black pepper
6 lbs spareribs (2 racks), trimmed of excess fat
3/4 cup ketchup
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup molasses
2 Tbsp tomato paste

1. Heat oven to 275 degrees. Make the rub: In a small bowl, combine the chili powder, coffee, cumin, 2 Tbsp of the brown sugar, 1/2 tsp of the cayenne, 2 tsp salt, and 1 tsp black pepper.

2. Place the ribs on a large rimmed baking sheet. Rub the ribs with the spice mixture and tightly cover the baking sheet with foil. Bake until tender and the meal easily pulls away from the bone, 2-1/2 to 3 hours. (I baked mine for 2 hrs 45 min and they were great!)

3. Meanwhile, make the sauce: In a saucepan, combine the ketchup, vinegar, molasses, tomato paste, the remaining 2 Tbsp of brown sugar and 1/4 tsp of cayenne, and 1/2 tsp black pepper. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer 1/2 cup of the sauce into a small bowl for serving.

4. Heat grill to medium-high. Grill the ribs, basting with the remaining sauce and turning occasionally, until just beginning to char, 4 to 5 minutes. Serve with the reserved sauce. (I broiled my ribs at 500 degrees in the oven for the same amount of time and they turned out wonderfully.)

Serving Suggestions: baked sweet potatoes, corn bread muffins, or a salad.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

French Toast

*From startcooking.com.

PREP: 20 minutes

8 slices bread, preferably stale
2/3 cup whole milk
4 large eggs
2 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla

Whisk together all ingredients in a shallow bowl. Dunk bread slices into egg mixture, coating both sides. Melt 1 1/2 Tbsp butter in a skillet and cook bread until both sides are golden brown, flipping once. Serve immediately with a dusting of powdered sugar or syrup.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Grilled Mojo Chicken

*Adapted from the book, Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast: Weeknight. You can view it online here.

PREP: 40 minutes

1 orange
2 limes
2 Tbsp minced fresh flat-leaf parsley, minced
1 Tbsp fresh oregano, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 cup olive oil
4 skinless boneless chicken breasts
salt and freshly-ground pepper

1. Grate 2 tsp zest form the orange and squeeze 1/3 cup juice. Grate 1 tsp zest from the limes and squeeze 1/4 cup juice. In a shallow dish or zip-top plastic bag, combine the zests and juices, parsley, oregano, thyme, garlic, cumin, and oil. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and add to marinade; turn to coat. Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes, cover and refrigerate for up to 2 hours, or freeze to cook at a later time.
2. Prepare a gas or charcoal grill for direct-heat grilling over medium-high heat and oil the grill rack. Or, preheat a broiler. (I used the broiler.) When ready to cook, remove the chicken from the marinade, discarding the marinade. Place on the grill rack, or put on a broiling rack under the broiler. Cook, turning once, until opaque throughout, 10-14 minutes.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Almond Orange Crusted Chicken

*Adapted from this recipe on allrecipes.com.

PREP: 40 minutes

2 oranges
2 egg whites
2 cups sliced almonds, finely chopped
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Ten minutes before you are ready to cook the chicken, put a baking sheet in the oven to pre-heat.
2. Finely zest the orange and set the zest aside.
3. In a shallow bowl, whisk the egg whites until slightly frothy. In a large shallow bowl or on a plate, combine the orange zest, almonds, salt, and pepper. Put the flour on a large plate.
4. Place the chicken breasts in a zip-top plastic baggie and then use a mallet to flatten the chicken breasts so they cook evenly.
5. Remove the pre-heated baking sheet from the oven and spray with cooking spray.
6. Dip the chicken breasts, one at a time, first into the flour, shaking off any excess, then into the egg white, and then coat with the almond mixture and place on the baking sheet. Spray the top of the chicken with cooking spray. Bake for 6 minutes, turn and bake for 6 minutes more, until the chicken is cooked through and the coating is golden.

Serving Suggestions:
In the original recipe, Ellie Krieger recommends serving the chicken sliced over a fennel arugula salad. If using the orange for a salad, cut the top and bottom off the orange, sit the orange on one end on a cutting board and cut the entire peel and pith off by cutting downward following the shape of the fruit. Then, using a paring knife, remove each section of orange from the membrane. She suggests combining 2 Tbsp. each of olive oil and lemon juice with 1/8 tsp. each of salt and pepper to make a dressing for the salad. I made a spinach and spring mix salad , instead, with canned mandarin oranges and her dressing and it was delightfully fresh.

This is also delicious served with wild rice--my favorite is this one by Zatarain's.

Denise's Blueberry Oat Muffins

*I wanted a healthier muffin recipe to use up the load of delicious blueberries I bought on sale at HEB. I used ideas from several allrecipes.com blueberry muffin recipes. I couldn't be more pleased with these! They're especially delicious right out of the oven. Yum! I think I'll probably just double the recipe from now on since this dozen disappeared so quickly.

PREP: 15 minutes
SERVES: 12 muffins

3/4 cup oat flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup Splenda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. baking powder
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup applesauce
2 egg whites or 1 egg
1 1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen

1/4 cup quick-cooking oats
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease (or paper) 12 muffin cups.
2. In a large bowl, mix the oat flour, flour, sugar, Splenda, salt, and baking powder. Stir in the milk, oil, applesauce, and egg until batter is evenly moist. Fold in the blueberries. Scoop batter into prepared muffin cups.
3. Mix oats, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a small bowl, and sprinkle over the batter.
4. Bake 20 minutes in preheated oven or until a knife inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Easy Garlic Cheddar Biscuits

*From Betty Crocker recipes.

PREP: 15 minutes

2 cups Bisquick mix
2/3 cup milk
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
1/8 tsp. garlic powder

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Stir Bisquick mix, milk, and cheese until soft dough forms. Drop dough by 9 spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Stir together butter and garlic powder; brush over warm biscuits.

Island Pork Tenderloin

*Adapted from the Team Beach Body P90X meal plan.

PREP: 40 minutes
SERVES: 4...or only 2 if you love it as much as we did :)

16 oz. pork tenderloin
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. chile powder
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. olive oil
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 Tbsp. fresh garlic, finely chopped
1/2 Tbsp. Tabasco sauce

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Stir together salt, pepper, cumin, chile powder, and cinnamon, then coat pork with the spice rub.
3. Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a 12" skillet over moderately high heat and brown pork, turning, about 4 minutes.
4. Stir together brown sugar, garlic, and Tabasco and pat onto top of tenderloin. Place pork in a roasting pan and cook in the oven for 20-30 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.

Notes: This recipe is only for 16 oz. (one lb.) of pork tenderloin, but the recipe can easily be doubled or tripled to feed a larger crowd. I subbed honey for the brown sugar because I was out of brown sugar, and I used Cholula hot sauce instead of Tabasco--I think it would be delicious either way. Also, the original recipe called for its use in a spinach salad with oranges, sweet (not green) bell pepper, cabbage, and golden raisins with cumin vinaigrette. I instead served it with a spinach salad with mandarin oranges, feta cheese, and Brianna's French Vinaigrette dressing. Lastly, I served this with garlic cheddar biscuits, and they were a good compliment.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Chipotle Cheddar Chef's Salad

(I promise there's lettuce underneath all the delicious toppings!)

PREP: 15 minutes

iceberg lettuce, chopped
romaine lettuce, chopped
turkey, cubed
ham, cubed
tomato, chopped
cucumber, chopped
avocado, diced
mozzarella cheese, shredded (optional)
Brianna's Chipotle Cheddar salad dressing

Layer all ingredients in order and then drizzle with dressing. Yum!

*Notes: I am not typically a salad fan, but this made a delicious and very filling meal. The dressing adds lots of flavor and just a bit of heat. A great non-spicy alternative is blue cheese dressing--yum!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Favorite Chicken Noodle Soup

*Adapted from Williams-Sonoma's Chicken & Orzo Soup in the book "Food Made Fast: Weeknight".

PREP: 30 minutes

1 Tbsp. butter
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, thinly sliced
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp. fresh marjoram
8 cups (64 oz.) chicken broth
3/4 cup* pasta (orzo was recommended, but I used elbow macaroni noodles--any small noodle would work)
6 oz. baby spinach, chopped coarsely
1 cooked chicken (about 3 cups), shredded (I used a store-bought rotisserie chicken)
salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated (I didn't use this and it was still delicious!)

*Do not use more pasta than recommended. From experience, if you do, too much water will be absorbed and the proportions of the soup will be off.

In a large saucepan or medium pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and celery and saute until onions are translucent, 3-4 minutes. Add the carrots and marjoram and saute until the vegetables are softened, about 3 minutes longer. Add the broth, raise the heat to medium-high, and simmer for 5 minutes to blend the flavors.

Add the pasta to the simmering soup and cook for the length of time recommended on the pasta package for al dente. Add the spinach and the chicken and cook, stirring, until the spinach has wilted and the chicken is warmed through, about 1 minute. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into individual bowls, sprinkle with some of the cheese and serve.