Monday, October 20, 2008

Spaghetti Aglio Olio

In keeping with the theme of "clean out the fridge," I decided to make us Spaghetti Aglio Olio as a side to tonight's Parmesan Chicken. I love that Aglio Olio is simple, with only a few ingredients, and only about 10 minutes of cooking time, but is packed with flavor. I decided to kick it up a notch by adding red pepper flakes.

Spaghetti Aglio Olio
Serves 4 (0r 8 as a side dish)

Cook Time - 15 minutes

1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
6-8 cloves garlic, minced
1-4 - 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/8 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
coarse salt
1 lb Spaghetti
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Cook spaghetti to al dente. Drain & set aside.

In a large pan, heat olive oil over medium low heat. Add garlic & pepper flakes. Cook until garlic becomes fragrant.

Toss spaghetti with the garlic oil and add the parsley. Season with salt, to taste. I like to top it with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Serve as a main dish or along side your favorite entree.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Roasted Ricotta Roma Tomatoes

We're going on vacation in a few days, so it's time to clean out the fridge. I just hate to let the perishables go to waste while I'll be galavanting around with Mickey Mouse. That lead me to Pioneer Woman's Roasted Ricotta Roma Tomatoes.

I wasn't sure how I'd react to these. I mean, I don't like plain tomatoes and I'm just starting to warm up to ricotta. However, I overcame that fear and decided to give them a try.

I'm a little torn on what I thought about these. They were decent - the cheesy filling was great. But overall, I felt like it was missing some pasta; like I was eating the sauce and cheese inside a lasagna. I'd encourage you to try them, possibly improve upon them, and let me know what you think.

Roasted Ricotta Roma Tomatoes
Recipe from Pioneer Woman

Serves 8-ish (I cut down to serve 2-3)

1 handful flat-leaf Parsley
1 handful fresh Basil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
8 Roma tomatoes, halved
1 1/2 cups Ricotta cheese
*1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (I added)
bread crumbs
Olive oil

Preheat oven to to 400 degrees F.

Wash tomatoes and half them. After halving them, gut the insides out with a spoon. Discard the seeds and other gooey parts. Sprinkle a bit of salt inside each tomato half and place them on a cookie sheet.

Chop up herbs & garlic and mix with the Ricotta and Parmesan cheeses. Add salt & pepper to taste.

Fill each tomato half with a heaping spoonful of the cheese mixture.

Sprinkle each tomato half with bread crumbs. Drizzle each with a little bit of olive oil.

Bake for 25-30 minutes. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Banana Bread

I don't really like bananas. It's a texture thing. I'm alright with them when they're almost ripe; still a little tiny bit green. But the second that peel is completely yellow or a tiny bit brown, my banana eating is over.

I do, however, really like a good banana bread. I came across an interesting banana bread recipe in my google reader a few weeks ago, and knew I had to try it. Despite my husband being upset with me that I put chocolate chips in it, I'm very happy with how it turned out and will make it again for sure.

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
Recipe from Good Things Catered
Makes 1 loaf

3 large extra-ripe bananas
1 3/4 cups flour, plus 2 TBSP
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 pkg. instant vanilla pudding mix
1 cup chocolate chips (I used about 2/3 cup)
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening (I used butter flavor crisco sticks)
2 eggs
2 TBSP milk
1 TBSP vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Mash bananas and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine 1 3/4 cups flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pudding mix. Whisk together and set aside.

In a ziplock bag, toss chocolate chips with 2 TBSP flour. Set aside.

Cream together shortening and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Add eggs, one at a time, until thoroughly combined.

Add milk, vanilla, and banana to the mixture and combine well.

Turn mixer to low and add the flour/pudding mixture and beat until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips.

Pour into a greased loaf pan and bake for about 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let cool on a wire rack for about 5 minutes then remove from the pan to cool completely.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Important Life Experiences (list)

This is yet another list that is floating around in the blog world. Here are some things I’ve done and a lot that I need to do.

If it’s bold, I have…

1. Touched an iceberg
2. Slept under the stars (ugh)
3. Been a part of a hockey fight (well, kind of. It's a rather long, somewhat amusing story)
4. Changed a baby’s diaper
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Swam with wild dolphins
8. Climbed a mountain (I have gone hiking through the Alps, and taken a gondola to the top,, but I don't think that counts)
9. Held a tarantula
10. Said “I love you” and meant it
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Stayed up all night long and watched the sun rise
15. Seen the Northern Lights
16. Gone to a huge sports game
17. Walked the stairs to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
19. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
20. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Bet on a winning horse
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Taken an ice cold bath
28. Had a meaningful conversation with a beggar
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Ridden a roller coaster
31. hit a home run
32. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
33. Adopted an accent for fun
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors (It's on my list)
35. Felt very happy about your life, even for just a moment
36. Loved your job 90% of the time
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Watched wild whales
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Gone on a midnight walk on the beach (hope to do this soon)
41. Gone sky diving
42. Visited Ireland
43. Ever bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited India
45. Bench-pressed your own weight
46. Milked a cow
47. Alphabetized your personal files
48. Ever worn a superhero costume
49. Sung karaoke
50. Lounged around in bed all day
51. Gone scuba diving
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Done something you should regret, but don’t
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Been in a movie
60. Gone without food for 3 days
61. Made cookies from scratch
62. Won first prize in a costume contest
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Been in a combat zone
65. Spoken more than one language fluently
66. Gotten into a fight while attempting to defend someone
67. Bounced a check (only because of the wonderful-ness that is overdraft protection)
68. Read - and understood - your credit report
69. Recently bought and played with a favorite childhood toy (I've recently considered this)
70. Found out something significant that your ancestors did (I've searched - they're all not that interesting)
71. Called or written your Congress person
72. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
73. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
74. Helped an animal give birth
75. Been fired or laid off from a job
76. Won money
77. Broken a bone
78. Ridden a motorcycle
79. Driven any land vehicle at a speed of greater than 100 mph
80. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
81. Slept through an entire flight: takeoff, flight, and landing
82. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
83. Eaten sushi
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read The Bible cover to cover
86. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about (yes, I actually did once convince someone why abortion shouldn't be a state issue)
87. Gotten someone fired for their actions
88. Gone back to school
89. Changed your name
90. Caught a fly in the air with your bare hands
91. Eaten fried green tomatoes
92. Read The Iliad (I tried...)
93. Taught yourself an art from scratch
94. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
95. Apologized to someone years after inflicting the hurt
96. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
97. Been elected to public office
98. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream
99. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
100. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you
101. Had a booth at a street fair
102. Dyed your hair
103 Been a DJ
104. Rocked a baby to sleep
105. Ever dropped a cat from a high place to see if it really lands on all fours
106. Raked your carpet
107. Brought out the best in people
108. Brought out the worst in people
109. Worn a mood ring (These were the coolest in 4th grade)
110. Ridden a horse111. Carved an animal from a piece of wood or bar of soap
112. Prepared a dish where four people asked for the recipe
113. Buried a child
114. Gone to a Broadway play
115. Been inside the pyramids
116. Shot a basketball into a basket
117. Danced at a disco
118. Played in a band (FFHS Wind Ensemble!! WOO!!!)
119. Shot a bird
120. Gone to an arboretum
121. Tutored someone
122. Ridden a train
123. Brought an old fad back into style
124. Eaten caviar
125. Let a salesman talk you into something you didn’t need
126. Ridden a giraffe or elephant (I blame my parents. It was the circus. I was 5)
127. Published a book
128. Pieced a quilt
129. Lived in an historic place (I'm pretty sure my college dorm was actually a historic building in St. Paul)
130. Acted in a play or performed on a stage
131. Asked for a raise (plan on it soon)
132. Made a hole-in-one (mini golf)
133. Gone deep sea fishing
134. Gone roller skating
135. Run a marathon
136. Learned to surf
137. Invented something (3rd grade - science fair!)
138. Flown first class
139. Spent the night in a 5-star luxury suite
140. Flown in a helicopter
141. Visited Africa
142. Sang a solo
143. Gone spelunking
144. Learned how to take a compliment (???)
145. Written a love-story
146. Seen Michelangelo’s David
147. Had your portrait painted
148. Written a fan letter (NKOTB - 3rd grade, baby)
149. Spent the night in something haunted
150. Owned a St. Bernard or Great Dane
151. Ran away
152. Learned to juggle
153. Been a boss
154. Sat on a jury (really want to)
155. Lied about your weight
156. Gone on a diet
157. Found an arrowhead or a gold nugget
158. Written a poem
159. Carried your lunch in a lunchbox
160. Gotten food poisoning
161. Gone on a service, humanitarian or religious mission
162. Hiked the Grand Canyon
163. Sat on a park bench and fed the ducks
164. Gone to the opera
165. Gotten a letter from someone famous
166. Worn knickers
167. Ridden in a limousine
168. Attended the Olympics
169. Can hula or waltz and polka.
170. Read a half dozen Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys books
171. Been stuck in an elevator
172. Had a revelatory dream
173. Thought you might crash in an airplane
174. Had a song dedicated to you on the radio or at a concert
175. Saved someone’s life
176. Eaten raw whale
177. Know how to tat, smock or do needlepoint
178. Laughed till your side hurt
179. Straddled the equator
180. Taken a photograph of something other than people that is worth framing (not to toot my own horn or anything...)
181. Gone to a Shakespeare Festival
182. Sent a message in a bottle
183. Spent the night in a hostel
184. Been a cashier
185. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
186. Joined a union
187. Donated blood or plasma
188. Built a campfire
189. Kept a blog
190. Had hives
191. Worn custom made shoes or boots
192. Made a PowerPoint presentation
193. Taken a Hunter’s Safety Course
194. Served at a soup kitchen
195. Conquered the Rubik’s cube
196. Know CPR
197. Ridden in or owned a convertible
198. Found a long lost friend
199. Helped solve a crime
200. Responded to a NJP newsletter

Thursday, October 2, 2008

PW's Sherried Tomato Soup

There isn't much more comforting on a cold day than a bowl of soup and a grilled cheese sandwich, is there? Don't be afraid to admit it. Fall is here, it's getting colder outside... you know you want some tomato soup and a grilled cheese. But wait, before you open that can of Campbell's, think about a nice creamy tomato soup with basil. That sounds better, right? Sure it does. Lucky for you, I've got just the recipe for you. Pioneer Woman's Sherried Tomato Soup will hit the spot, and as an extra bonus, it doesn't use any weird ingredients, so you won't have to go to any specialty shops or wander around your grocery store aimlessly trying to find something.

Sherried Tomato Soup
Recipe by Pioneer Woman

Serves 6-ish

Cook & Prep Time - 25 minutes

6 tablespoons melted butter (I used about 4)
1 medium onion, diced
1 46-ounce bottle or can tomato juice
2 14 ounce cans diced tomatoes
1 to 3 TBSP chicken base (I omitted)
3 to 6 TBSP sugar
Pinch of salt
Black Pepper
1 cup cooking sherry
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
chopped fresh parsley
chopped fresh basil

Saute diced onions in butter until transluscent. Add canned tomatoes. Stir.

Add tomato juice, sugar, pinch of salt, and black pepper and stir. Bring to a near boil, then turn off heat.

Add in sherry and cream and stir. Add in parsley and basil to taste, adjust other seasoning, and serve with yummy, crusty bread.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Butterscotch Bars

When I have nothing else to do on the weekend, I cook... or bake. This weekend, it was baking. I wanted to get out of the chocolate chip cookie/brownie rut I was in, so I looked through my recipe book and found a recipe for Butterscotch Bars that looked interesting. So, Butterscotch Bars it was. I'll be honest - I don't like butterscotch - but my husband gave these rave reviews. And as a bonus, they're fairly low-fat, considering they're from Cooking Light!

Butterscotch Bars
Recipe from
CookingLight, adapted slightly

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter or stick margarine, softened
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Cooking spray
1 cup butterscotch morsels

Preheat oven to 350°.

Beat sugars and butter at medium speed of a mixer until well-blended (about 4 minutes). Add egg whites and vanilla; beat well. Lightly spoon the flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt; stir well with a whisk. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture; beat at low speed just until blended.

Spread batter evenly into an 9 x 13 inch baking pan coated with cooking spray; sprinkle evenly with morsels. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack.