Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, Country Style Ribs, Brown Rice Casserole

So I have made quite a few recipes lately, but keep putting off posting them!! Sunday I made dinner for my wonderful parents. Had to bake some cookies for my Daddy since they are his favorite and this one is a classic. It is literally found on the inside of the lid of Quaker rolled oats. I have made the "Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookie" for ages. I took these to work and they said they were the best oatmeal cookies that they had ever had. It is no fail so give it a try...if you haven't already.

These other recipes are some go to recipes in my family. My grandmother likes to make these ribs which literally fall apart. It is important to slow bake them on a low temperature because they will otherwise be tough instead of melt in your mouth. The rice casserole recipe is actually a hybrid of two recipes that I have gotten from friends over the years. Don't let the name of it fool you...it is really made with white rice but it is lightly browned in butter before baking...kinda zaps any hope you had for a healthy recipe huh? :)

Vanishing Oatmeal Cookies (from the Quaker Oats Can)

2 stick butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups Quaker Oats, uncooked
1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat together butter and sugars until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla, beat well. Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix well.  Stir in oats and raisins; mix well. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheet; remove to wire rack.

Slow Baked Country Style Ribs
Desired number of country style pork ribs (boneless) - figure about 2-3 per person
Seasoned salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Barbeque sauce

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Heat vegetable oil in a skillet on medium-high heat. Sprinkle ribs generously with seasoned salt. Brown ribs on all sides then place in a baking dish; cover tightly with aluminum foil. Cook for 2 1/2-3 hours until fork tender. Cover ribs with barbeque sauce then recover and cook for 20-30 additional minutes.

Brown Rice Casserole
1 stick butter
1 cup white long grain rice, uncooked
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 can beef consomme
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 small can sliced mushrooms, drained
1 small can diced pimentos, drained

Melt butter in a skillet. Add onion and rice. Cook until rice is lightly browned. Add both cans of soup and melt. Add mushrooms and pimentos. Put in a casserole dish and bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes or until rice is tender. I like to keep casserole covered with aluminum foil until about the last 15 minutes so the rice on top won't get overcooked. Can double the recipe for a crowd.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Buffalo Chicken Pizza

And now to combine my husband's two favorite things: buffalo wings and pizza!! He loved it!! I used pizza dough from the Publix bakery department and it worked really well. Just remember to let it sit out and rest at room temperature for about an hour before baking to make it easier to work with.

Buffalo Chicken Pizza

3/4 pound chicken breast cutlets
Olive oil, for drizzling
2 teaspoons grill seasoning, such as Montreal chicken seasoning
1 pizza store bought pizza dough
Cornmeal or flour, to handle dough
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce
2-3 tablespoons hot sauce, medium to spicy heat
1/2 cup tomato sauce
3 slices of Pepper-Jack cheese, diced
1 cup shredded Colby-Jack Cheese, a few generous handfuls

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place chicken on a plate and drizzle extra virgin olive oil over the chicken then season with grill seasoning. Grill on a grill pan or outdoor grill for about 3 minutes on each side. Stretch dough to form pizza using cornmeal  or flour to help you handle it. Place on pizza pan and set aside. In a medium pot over medium heat, melt butter and stir in Worchestershire, hot sauce, and tomato sauce. Take the cooked chicken and thinly slice it, add chicken to the sauce and coat. Cover the pizza dough with the sauced buffalo chicken and cheeses. Bake 18 minutes or until crisp. Can sprinkle with additional hot sauce if more heat is desired. This pizza is really good with a drizzle of ranch dressing.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Best Lasagna and Minestrone Soup

Fall is my favorite time of year and the time for one of my favorite things to make: SOUP! When I was a child, I always asked my mom for some "minestone" soup in the can. She laughed at me and I never understood what was so funny about it until I got older and realized I was leaving out a few letters. This version is much better than the canned kind with bigger chunks of vegetables, a rich tomatoey (word?) broth, and two kinds of beans. You can use different kinds of beans if you choose, but I like kidney beans and garbanzos. Also, if you want to make this completely vegetarian, you can use vegetable broth and leave out the bacon (use olive oil instead to saute the veggies). The best way to serve this soup is with a few splashes of red wine vinegar and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese in each bowl of soup.

Minestrone Soup

4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 slices of bacon, diced
1 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 medium zucchini, chopped
2 cups coarsely chopped spinach (fresh or frozen)
1 cup onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper
1 (28-oz) can crushed tomatoes

1 (15-oz) can dark kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15-oz) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups cooked small pasta shells
Red wine vinegar, Parmesan cheese for serving

In a large dutch oven over medium heat, saute bacon in the olive oil until it is crispy and the fat is rendered, remove with a slotted spoon to drain on a paper towel. Add carrot, onion, celery, zucchini, and garlic to pot and cook for 5-6 minutes until the veggies begin to cook down. Add in herbs and stir. Add crushed tomatoes, broth, and both cans of beans. Salt and pepper to taste (add a little at a time during cooking process so it will not be over/underseasoned.) Allow soup to come up to a bubble and then cover and turn heat to low. Cook for about 45 minutes-1 hour on low (the longer it cooks the better, just don't cook too long so that the veggies turn to mush). When getting close to serving, add in the cooked pasta to the soup. Spoon into serving bowls and top with a splash of red wine vinger and parmesan cheese.

*If you are not going to serve all of the soup and are saving leftovers, I would recommend adding a small amount of the pasta to the serving bowls and ladeling soup over the noodles. You can store the rest of the cooked noodles tossed with a little olive oil in a tupperware container and add them to servings as you warm them up. This way, the noodles don't get mushy sitting in the soup in the fridge*

Lasagna was never something that we had a lot when I was growing up, we always just got the frozen kind if we ever ate it. A few years ago, someone asked my mom to make some for an event at church and she found this wonderful recipe that was literally titled "World's Best Lasagna". It is so worth the extra effort to make it from scratch. Also, another thing that can make this lasagna even better is to buy fresh mozzarella and slice it to put on top before baking.

World's Best Lasagna

1 pound sweet or hot italian sausage (my husband and I like the hot, but if you don't like a lot of spice go for the sweet)
3/4 pound lean ground beef
1/2 cup minced onion
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
2 (6 oz) cans tomato paste
2 (6.5 oz) cans tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsely
12 lasagna noodles, cooked
16 oz ricotta cheese
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 pound mozzarella cheese, sliced
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Cook sausage, ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat until well browned, drain. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water. Season with sugar, basil, fennel seeds, Italian seasoning, 1/2 tablespoon salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley. Simmer, covered, for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese with egg, remaining parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. To assemble, spread 1 1/2 cups meat sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Arrange 4 noodles lengthwise over meat sauce, top with 1/2 of ricotta mixture, then top with 1/3 of mozzarella slices and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese. Repeat layers 2 more times, but on the last set of layers instead of topping the ricotta mixture with the mozzarella, add an additional layer of meat sauce and then add the mozzarella and parmesan to the top of the lasagna. Cover the lasagna with foil (spray with cooking spray so cheese won't stick to it) and bake for 25 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 25 minutes.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Weeknight Fare: Smoked Paprika Chicken with Egg Noodles, Orange-Cranberry Spinach Salad with Glazed Pecans, Peanut Butter Browines

So working the night shift has presented a fun new problem: what to cook that will still be good to eat once my husband gets home. I made spaghetti one night and then tried to be a little more creative for the next go. This recipe is really quick and easy, and if you use light sour cream, is pretty healthy. Be sure to use smoked paprika, not the regular sweet kind. It makes a world of difference in the flavor. Also, for my husband who loves spice, I added a few pinches of cayenne which was really good.

Smoked Paprika Chicken with Egg Noodles (From Rachael Ray Book of 10)
Salt and Pepper
8 oz extra wide egg noodles
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 pounds of boneless/skinless chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces
1/2-1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
3 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 pinches cayenne (if desired)
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup sour cream (I used light)
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

Boil egg noodles in salted water until tender (about 6 minutes). Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and then the chicken, lightly brown the meat on all sides for 3-4 minutes. Add the onions and garlic and cook for a few more minutes. Season the chicken mixture with smoked paprika, salt, pepper, and cayenne, then stir in the chicken stock and reduce heat to low. Stir in the sour cream and drained egg noodles and let mixture simmer for about 5 minutes, until the sauce is slightly thickened. Garnish with an additional sprinkle and paprika and parsley before serving.

Orange-Cranberry Spinach Salad with Glazed Pecans (from Me!)

Fresh Spinach
Dried Cranberries
Mandarin Oranges, drained
Glazed Pecans (I use Diamond Brand Glazed Pecans)
Raspberry Viniagrette (I use Newman's Own Raspberry Walnut Vinagrette)

Sprinkle spinach (or mixed greens would be great as well) with the toppings as desired. It would also be good with a balsamic viniagrette. You can add additional fruit if desired (apples and grapes would be good).
This is a fabulous combination of flavors that I love and I also add protein to it to make it a meal (deli turkey or diced grilled chicken.) Really good to carry to work for a light lunch!!

Baking fun for the week: peanut butter + cream cheese + brownies=need I say more? ;)

Peanut Butter Brownies (From Taste of Home Fall Baking Cookbook)

3 eggs
1 cup butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cups cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk chocolate chips

2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk

In a large bowl, beat the eggs, butter and vanilla until smooth. Combine the dry ingredients; gradually add to the egg mixture. Stir in chocolate chips. Set aside 1 cup of mixture for topping, then spread remaining batter into a greased 13x9 inch baking pan. In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese, peanut butter, and sugar until smooth. Beat in egg and milk on low just until combined. Carefully spread over batter. Drop reserved chocolate batter by tablespoonfuls over filling. Cut through the batter with a knife to swirl. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (do not overbake). Cool on a wire rack. Chill until serving.