Sunday, April 27, 2008

Lasagna Rolls

According to my husband, I opened up a restaurant today. You can probably see that with my string of posts today. I was a busy girl. I will say, despite how much I may have messed up the kitchen, everything I made was delicious (wasn't it, Husband?). I wanted to make something a little more time consuming for dinner, like I usually try to do on Sundays, so I decided on Lasagna Rolls tonight to use up some ingredients in my fridge.

I think the point of lasagna rolls is to be easier and less time consuming than regular lasagna. I'm not so sure that's really the case. However, these were really good. I'd make them again. I'm thinking about submitting them to Presto Pasta Nights at Once Upon a Feast. I based them off a vegetarian recipe, but decided to add a little bit of ground beef to them. I think I'll make them vegetarian next time I make them.

Lasagna Rolls
Recipe from Cooking Light, significantly adapted
Serves 4

8 uncooked lasagna noodles
3/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 lb ground beef (or ground turkey), browned, optional
Marinara sauce (about 2 cups), store-bought or homemade

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large pot of lightly salted water, cook noodles. Drain & set aside.

Mix together cheeses, garlic, and ground meat (if using). Divide into 8 parts. Spread mixture on the lasagna noodles. Roll up. Repeat with each lasagna noodle.

Place a thin layer of marinara sauce in the bottom of an 8x8 pan. Place each lasagna roll, seam side down, in the pan. Cover with marinara sauce.

Bake, covered, for about 30 minutes.

Serve, preferably with homemade garlic bread.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I admit it. I don't like raisins, but I love oatmeal raisin cookies (without the raisins). So, I guess I really love oatmeal cookies. I've always thought of them as a breakfast cookie more than a dessert. Is that weird? I have yet to find a recipe I like better than this one.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Recipe from my mom
Makes about 3 dozen cookies

1 cup butter (I use Crisco sticks)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp soda
2 eggs, beaten
5 tsp raisin juice
1 cup cooked raisins
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
2 cups oatmeal
1 cup cooked raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Arrange oven racks 2 racks apart.

In small skillet over medium low heat, cook raisins in about 1/3 - 1/2 cup water. They should "plump" as they cook.

Meanwhile, mix together first 5 ingredients.

After raisins are cooked, add raisin juice and vanilla. Mix together. Add flour and mix well.

Add oatmeal and raisins and mix together with a spoon.

Drop dough on cookie sheets and place on lowest of the 2 racks. Bake until cookies start to spread out and form the cookie shape. Move up to highest rack. Finish baking there. Take them out of the oven and transfer to cooling rack when just golden brown.

Old Fashioned Cake Doughnuts

The female elders in my family have been making these doughnuts for years. They're light and airy - pretty much everything you would want in a doughnut. I highly recommend them. Unfortunately, even with a doughnut dropper, it's a bit difficult to get the shape. Don't be discouraged if you get a few alien mutant doughnuts at first.

Old Fashioned Cake Doughnuts
Family Recipe

2 cups sugar
4 eggs
pinch of salt
2 cups sour milk
1 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp soda
1 tsp nutmeg
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cream of tartar
4 1/2 - 5 cups flour
Oil for frying

Mix all the above together with electric mixer. Add flour 1 cup at a time. You'll probably have to stir in the last cup of flour by hand.

Heat oil to 375 degrees.

Place batter in doughnut dropper and drop batter into hot oil. Fry about 2-3 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels. If desired, coat with cinnamon/sugar mixture.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Parmesan Crusted Chicken

I was terribly busy this week. I had a huge brief due on Friday. Needless to say, cooking wasn't high on my priority list (especially that day I was at my office ordering takeout at 8 p.m.). Well, that ended yesterday at about 3:00 when we sent everything off for filing. I'd been dying to try this chicken & pasta recipe for a while, and decided it was a good night for it. I wish I remembered where I got this recipe - my print-out doesn't have any identifying details. :(

Overall, we both liked it a lot, but there are a few changes I will make next time I make it. I'll note those in italics at the bottom of the recipe.

Parmesan Crusted Chicken
Source Unknown
Serves 3-ish
Total cook & prep time - about 20 min

1 cup bread crumbs (I think I did about 3/4 cup)
2 TBSP flour
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (I think I did about 1/2 cup)
1 cup milk
Chicken breast strips (about 2 normal sized chicken breasts worth)
2 cups dry bowtie pasta
2 TBSP butter
3 TBSP olive oil
2 TBSP flour
2 tsp crushed garlic (3-4 cloves)
1/2 cup dry white wine
3/4 cup Half & Half
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup grated Asiago cheese
1/8 tsp basil (I used one cube Trader Joe's frozen basil)

Prepare pasta to al dente. Drain & set aside.

Heat olive oil in medium skillet over medium heat.

Mix bread crumbs, flour, & parmesan cheese together. Place milk in a dish for dipping. Dip chicken in the bread crumb mixture, then in milk, and then back in the bread crumbs. Pan fry in skillet until golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towels.

Meanwhile, melt butter & olive oil on medium heat in medium saucepan. Whisk in flour until mixture is blended. Quickly add garlic & whisk. Add wine & blend (I like to do this in small bits (about 1/8 cup) at a time to help de-glaze the pan). Immediately add Half & Half and sour cream. Whisk together.

When mixture is smooth, add grated cheese until melted and smooth. Sprinkle in basil and stir.

Remove from heat. Spoon sauce over pasta, then place chicken on top of sauce. Sprinkle with crushed red pepper and grated Parmesan cheese if desired.

As I said above, while I really liked this recipe, there are a few things I'd do differently. First, I felt the sauce was a tiny bit too thick. I'd add another tablespoon or so of Half & Half. Second, I'd toss the pasta with the sauce instead of spooning the sauce over the pasta. Finally, I think the Asiago cheese was a bit sharp for this dish - a little too over-powering. I think replacing it with Pecorino Romano or Parmesan would compliment the dish better. Or, perhaps if you really want that Asiago flavor, I'd use 1/2 cup of Parmesan or Pecorino and 1/4 cup of Asiago.


Monday, April 21, 2008

Chicken Rollatini

Remember how I posted a while ago about "The Best Chicken You'll Ever Eat?" Well, I sincerely apologize, because I may have lied. Last night I made an absolutely fantastic chicken dish. I'm still thinking about it today. The flavors compliment each other perfectly. I can't wait to make it again.

I based it off a Robin Miller recipe, tweaked to our ingredients and liking. I'm sure the original is wonderful, too. The original recipe is here: Robin Miller's Chicken Rollatini.

Photo from

Chicken Rollatini with Ditalini
Recipe by Robin Miller, adapted
Serves 2 (double for 4 people)
Prep & cook time - about an hour


1 cup dry ditalini pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 TBSP butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/4-inch thickness
2-3 slices proscuitto
2-3 ounces cream cheese (I always use Neufchatel)
1/8 cup shredded cheese (I used a mix of Mozzarella & Cheddar)
1 egg, beaten with 1 TBSP water
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs

Mix together cream cheese & shredded cheese. Place on wax paper and roll into a short, sort of rectangular log. Freeze for about 20 minutes.

Arrange chicken breasts on a flat surface. Top each piece of chicken with a slice of proscuitto. Make sure chicken is pretty well covered. Cut the cream cheese log in half and place on top of the proscuitto. Spread out a bit. Starting from the shorter end, roll up chicken and secure with wooden picks.

Place on a piece of wax paper on a plate or baking sheet and freeze for about 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Brush beaten egg all over chicken rolls and then roll in bread crumbs.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken rolls and cook until golden brown on all sides.

Transfer chicken to baking sheet and bake 10-15 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.

When chicken is placed in the oven, cook ditalini according to package directions. Drain and toss with 1 tablespoon butter, salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese.

When chicken is done, remove the toothpicks and serve with the ditalini on the side.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Blogging with a Purpose

BakingBlonde at Blonde Ambition in the Kitchen has given me a "Blogging with Purpose" award. Wow. I'm honored. Her desserts make my mouth water. If you haven't yet, you really should start reading her blog. Like BakingBlonde, I'm also honored (and frankly, a bit surprised) that other people actually read my blog, let alone enjoy it. :)

I mean, I'm just a girl who likes to cook. I rarely make anything fancy and almost never make up my own recipes. I just make good tasting food to help me relieve stress after a busy day.

Now, it's time to share the love. As such, I nominate the following bloggers:

1. Annie at Well, That Would be Telling. Annie shares my love of Fontina cheese. Even though she doesn't exclusively food blog, her recipes are great and her stories always amuse me.
2. Monica at Fickle Foodie. Monica's recipes are so creative, and her photos are beautiful. Keep it up, Monica.
3. Meg at Joy Through Cooking. Her food always looks fantastic and inspires me to expand my palate. She also has two of the cutest little puppies I've ever seen.
4. Carrie at Carrie's Cooking Adventures. She's got a recipe for cheese and proscuitto stuffed shells that practically makes me drool. She's one of the first blogs I turn to if I really want some good comfort food.
5. Gillian at Gillian's Goodies. She inspires me to eat healthier and convinces me that I don't always have to sacrifice taste to eat better. Thanks, Gillian.

Now, here's what you five have to do:
- Nominate 5 blogs that haven't had this award before
- Each of the blogs must have a purpose
- The nominated blogs must have a link back to this blog
- The logo from this award must be displayed in your blog

Happy blogging, everyone, and keep it up!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Pasta alla Caprese

Ah, Capri... isn't it beautiful? Don't you wish you were there right now?

Well, I sure do. Unfortunately, picking up and flying off to the Amalfi Coast really isn't feasible for me. Well, don't worry, this quick little pasta dish will make you feel like you're in Capri, even if you're sitting at your dining room table.

Fusilli alla Caprese
Recipe by Giada de Laurentiis
Serves 4-6
Prep Time - 10 min
Cook Time - 10 min

1 pound fusilli pasta (I used some twisty tubey pasta)
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered (about 1 1/2 pints)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves, torn
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, diced (about 1 1/4 cups)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta into a large bowl and reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.

In a medium skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, salt, and pepper. As the tomatoes cook and soften, smash them with a fork. Continue to cook until the tomatoes make a chunky style sauce, about 4 minutes. Transfer the tomato sauce to the bowl with the pasta. Toss to combine. Add the basil leaves and mozzarella. Stir to combine. Add the reserved pasta water, 1/4 cup at a time, until the pasta is moist (I didn't need any). Serve.

The scandal between food and politics

McCain Family Recipes "lifted" from Food Network

The title of the article pretty much says it all. Apparently John McCain's official website featured a section of "Family Recipes." Turns out, they're exact copies of Food Network Recipes. We're talking exact. I'm sure people didn't ever believe that Cindy McCain ever really cooked, but come on... if you're going to so blatantly plagarize, at least choose something that possibly could be a family recipe. No one's going to buy that Ahi with Napa Cabbage is a family recipe, low-level-staffer-or-intern-that-was-given-way-too-much-power.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Penne with Chicken & Broccoli in a White Wine Cheddar Sauce

Name long enough for you? I hope so...

I found this recipe on Good Things Catered and knew I had to try it. It seemed perfect - light, cheesy, but still hearty. It was a hit. I highly recommend it.

Penne with Chicken and Broccoli in a White Wine Cheddar Sauce
Recipe from Good Things Catered.
Serves about 4
Cook Time - About 20 min

1 lb. penne (I probably used about 3/4 lb)
3 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup roasted garlic paste (made by roasting garlic in oven and squeezing garlic out of skin) (I just minced about 4 or 5 cloves of garlic, due to time constraints)
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 c. dry vermouth or dry white wine
2 c. low-sodium chicken stock
1 large head of broccoli, cut into florettes (about 2 c.)
10 oz. cooked chicken, cubed or shredded (about 2 c.)
3 oz. aged reserve cheddar (preferably white), grated (about 1 1/2 c.) (I used a mix of medium cheddar & an aged white cheddar)
4 - 6 thin strips of parmesan cheese (optional)
salt and ground pepper

Bring 4 qt. of water to a boil in lare pot and cook ziti according to box directions to only al dente and set aside. At the same time, lightly steam broccolli florettes on to of pan in steamer and set aside.

Meanwhile, melt butter in large nonstick skillet over medium heat.

When just coming to foaming, add garlic paste and cook until fragrant (about 1 min). Add flour and cook until beginning to turn golden (about 2 min.)

Add vermouth and cook until evaporated (about 1 min). Stir broth into pan and simmer sauce until slightly thickened (about 2 min). Add cheddar and stir constantly while returning to a boil.

Fold in ziti cook for one minute additional and remove from heat. Add brocolli and chicken and fold until sauce covers uniformly.

Plate and top with one or two strips of parmesean (optional) and serve. Enjoy!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Sloppy Joes, my way

Growing up, my mom didn't really cook. She made a few things every once in a while, but basically, my dad did the cooking. This recipe was one my mom did make, and frequently. I'm not sure where she got the recipe, but I love it. It's great for a quick meal, and the leftovers work great for next-day lunches. I've never really liked tomato-y sloppy joes, and I'm pretty sure growing up with this recipe was at least a little responsible. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

Gumbo Burgers
Recipe from my mom
*Serves 4-6*
Prep Time – 5 min
Cook Time – 15 min
1 - 1 1/2 lbs ground beef (ground turkey or chicken work well too)
1 small onion, chopped or minced
½ cup chopped celery (about 2 stalks)
1 tsp mustard
1 tsp vinegar
salt & pepper to taste
1 can chicken gumbo soup
Brown the ground beef with onion, salt, & pepper. Drain off any excess fat.
Add remaining ingredients; mix together. Simmer for about 10 min. Spoon onto hamburger buns. Serve with chips.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Me, the Linebacker?

Remember that toe sprain I mentioned in my last post? Well, it's not gotten much better. I have preliminarily diagnosed myself with a condition called "turf toe." I understand it's very common in linebackers. Basically, it means I sprained the ball of my foot under my big toe. Apparently the treatment for it is to not use it. I don't think my boss will go for that.

It's terribly painful. I don't recommend it.

Expect my posts to be sparse until I heal, as I can't stand for very long at a time. In the meantime, when I'm not posting, check out my husband's blogs. I've linked them at the right for your convenience.