Tuesday, September 28, 2010

TWD: Tarte Fine

After a few weeks of skipping out on the TWD posts I'm back!  and what a fabulous and easy recipe to come back with!  Seriously, it took about 5 minutes to put together, much thanks to my handy-dandy apple peeler and corer:
I don't know if you've ever seen or used one of these things before, but it is fabulous!  It cuts all the apple peel off in one long curly string,  removes the core, and also spiral slices it!  That made this recipe super easy b/c instead of having to slice the apple I just had to do one quick swipe of the knife down the center of the apple and voila!  Perfectly even half slices!

going into the oven
the finished tart--so delicious!

Hubs & I each had a slice out of the oven and he loved it!  I offered to send some to his best friend who he was going to see that evening and suggested sending half the tart but he wanted to keep more for himself!  It is VERY rare that he gets so excited about anything I make so I happily obliged.  
The only change I made to the recipe was to use apple jelly for the glaze rather than apricot jam--We're not big apricot fans and I just felt that it would complement the tart better :)
Much thanks to Leslie of Lethally Delicious for this awesome pick! (and be sure to check her blog or p. 315 of Baking from my Home to Yours for the recipe).  Also be sure to check out the TWD leave your link post to see who baked along this week!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Baked Spaghetti

I made this recently for a dinner w/the CRU leadership team.  They loved it--not even one serving left!  I didn't get a picture of the finished casserole b/c we baked it somewhere else, but I've got some step-by-steps.

 browning the meat & onions

 preparing the sauce

 meat & sauce mixture

layering the casserole

Baked Spaghetti
adapted from Paula Deen

2 pounds ground chuck
1/2 onion, diced
2-3 clobes garlic, minced
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes 
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp. dried parsley
1 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 1/2 tsp. seasoning salt
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
2 small bay leaves
8 oz. angel hair pasta
1 (8 oz) package shredded cheddar cheese
1 (8 oz) package mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a large saucepan, cook ground chuck, onion, and garlic over medium heat, stirring until beef is browned and crumbly and vegetables are tender.  Drain well.

In a large Dutch oven, combine crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, and spices.  Add meat mixture.  Bring mixture to a boil, stirring  occasionally.  Reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove and discard bay leaves.

In the meantime, cook pasta according to package directions, drain well, and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 13x9" baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Spoon one third of sauce mixture over bottom of prepared baking dish.  Top with half of pasta, then one-third of cheese.  Repeat layers, ending with sauce and reserving remaining one-third cheese.  At this point you can refrigerate pasta until ready to bake, or bake, uncovered for 45 minutes.  Top with remaining one-third cheese, and bake for 10 to 15 minutes longer, or until cheese is melted.  Remove from oven, and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Chicken Pot pie & Mashed potatoes

I think that this has been one of the favorite meals that I made for my Bible study girls--one of them said "this is exactly what I wanted for dinner tonight & I didn't even know it!"  And between 6 people they ate almost all of the potatoes & pot pie (in a 9x13 dish!).  I also served this w/garlic green beans, and Paula Deen's gooey butter cake for dessert.  Perfect comfort food!  (but the dinner also included nearly 4 sticks of butter and 3 cups of cream!  Eep!

It's funny, for so long I've only been interested in baking and barely ever tried new dinner recipes b/c all Patrick likes to eat is chicken cordon bleu, but now I"m getting to try all these great new dinner recipes & I love it!

Chicken Pot Pie
adapted from Paula Deen & Taste of Home

2 (10.75 oz) cans cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup whole milk, divided
1/2 tsp. dried parsley flakes
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1 (1 pound) package frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
1 can mushroom stems & pieces, drained
3 cups shredded cooked chicken
Pot pie crust (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a 13x9" baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine soup, sour cream, milk, & spices.  Roughly chop vegetables & mushrooms if pieces are too large.  Stir in vegetables & chicken.  Pour mixture into prepared baking dish.  (Can be refrigerated without crust at this point until ready to bake.  When ready, prepare crust:

Pot pie crust:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp. salt
1/3 cup cold butter, cubed
2 tbsp. cold water

In a large bowl, combine flour & salt; cut in butter until crumbly.  gradually add water, tossing w/a fork until dough forms a ball.  Roll dough into a rectangle large enough to fit the 9x13" pan, place on top of filling, crimping edges if necessary.  Cut slits in crust to vent.  (You may also brush with some cream or egg wash to help crust brown--i did not do this & the crust was very pale.)

Bake pot pie at 350 F for 45 minutes or until bubbly.

Fabulous mashed potatoes
adapted from Martha Stewart

5 lbs  baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 in pieces
10 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 1/2 cup heavy cream, warmed
2 oz. cream cheese, cubed
salt & pepper to taste

In a large pot, cover potatoes by 2 in. w/salted water.  Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer & cook until potatoes are tender, about 12 minutes.  Drain thoroughly.  Put potatoes back into pot and puree using a hand mixer. 

Over low heat, add butter & stir until melted. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until potatoes are stiff, about 1 minute.  Gradually add cream & cream cheese, mixing constantly to combine & until lumps are gone.  Season w/salt & pepper

Monday, September 13, 2010

Sopapilla Cheesecake

Apologies in advance for horrid pictures, but I couldn't wait to post this!

Last Tuesday I decided to do a Mexican themed night for our Bible study dinner--complete with burrito casserole and white queso cheese dip (yum!).  I had the peanut butter cookies from the TWD recipe that week, but I wanted something a little more substantial (you know me...I can never just do one thing!). 

When we were kids I remember going to a crazy Mexican-ish restaurant in Denver Colorado called Casa Bonita.  It is really over the top with "cliff divers" and flame jugglers, and crazy shows, but it was one of my very favorite things to do when we would be in Colorado for the summer!  Well, they had this awesome service--instead of a "bottomless bread basket" you got unlimited sopapillas!  Basically fried squares of dough which are sprinkled with powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar and you can eat them with honey--so amazing! 

Several months back I saw a recipe for a sopailla cheesecake while browsing my blogs and it never left my head.  I was shocked to see that I had not bookmarked it, but a quick search in my Google reader directed me to Diana's Cocina.

Now, my picture is nothing in comparison to hers which caught my eye...but I guess that is one of the problems with making things to serve after it gets dark...

I think this is the Bible study girls' favorite thing I've made so far.  They were all groaning as they ate it!  I served it warm and completely plain, but it would be great with some ice cream or whipped cream for that matter...  It was also fabulous cold the next day.  And seriously, this is about as simple as it gets!

Sopapilla Cheesecake
from Diana's Cocina

2 packages of crescent rolls
2 8oz packages of cream cheese (softened)
3/4 cup of sugar
1 stick of butter, melted
2 teaspoon Mexican vanilla (i just used regular...)
Cinnamon-sugar mixture for topping, 2/3 cup sugar, and a Tablespoon of cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Open one package of crescent rolls and line the bottom of a lightly sprayed 9x13 baking pan to form bottom crust.

In a large bowl mix with hand held blender the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth and spoon out over the crust. Take the second package of crescent rolls and spread to form top crust. Pinch perforated edges together where needed.

Mix the melted butter, cinnamon-sugar and pour evenly over top crust.

Bake in oven for 30-40 minutes, depending on preference. Once the crescents are done it is ready.  I actually baked mine for 45 minutes (the same time as the casserole I made that night) and it was perfect!

You should absolutely make this because it is so easy, makes several servings, and is out of this world!

Friday, September 10, 2010


They may be the odd couple, but they sure do love each other!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

First Bible study dinner

What do you feed a group of hungry girls??

(sadly, this is the only picture i got..doesn't do it justice--it was fabulous!)
Lasagna of course!!

This was my first time making lasagna and, though I know my mom has a good recipe, I didn't have time to get hers from her so I scoured the massive cookbook collection and finally settled on a recipe from the always-fabulous Taste of Home Cookbook.

I won't lie, the recipe is involved.  There are always several steps to making lasagna, but I think this one takes a bit longer...but what do I know--this is the first time I've made it!!

The girls adored it though, and even my ridiculously picky hubs tried and liked it!  (only two bites, but it's a step!)  It was definitely worth the effort, and I think this will be my go-to recipe. 

Traditional Lasagna
from Taste of Home Cookbook

1 pound ground beef
3/4 pound bulk pork sausage (i used a full pound)
3 cans (8 ounces each) tomato sauce (i used a jar of prego...always hubs favorite)
1 can (12 ounce) tomato paste
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3 eggs
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
3 cups (24 ounces) small curd cottage cheese
1 carton (8 ounces) ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
9 lasagna noodles, cooked & drained
6 slices provolone cheese (i used 12--the whole package)
3 cups (12 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese, divided (i definitely used more than this...just eyeball it)

1.  In a large skillet, cook beef & sausage over medium heat until no longer pink; drain.  Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, garlic, sugar, seasoning, salt, & pepper.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. (after doing this, I odn't think a full hour is necessary.  I haven't made it without doing this, but I think a max. of 30 minutes would be fine--and I felt that it cooked down a bit too much and would have liked to have a bit more sauce).

2. In a large bowl, combine the eggs & parsley. Stir in the cottage cheese, ricotta, & Parmesan.  

3.  Spread 1 cup of meat sauce in an ungreased 13x9" baking dish.  Layer with three noodles, provolone cheese, 2 cups cottage cheese misture, & mozarrella.  Repeat layers ending with noodles, meat sauce, and mozzarella (dish will be full!).

4.  Cover & bake at 375 degrees F. for 50 minutes.  Uncover; bake 20 minues longer or until heated through.  Let stand for 15 minutes before cutting.

Yield: 12 servings

NUTRITION FACTS: 1 serving equal 493 calories, 27 g fat (14 g saturated fat) 143 mg cholesterol, 1,144 mg sodium, 29 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 35 g protein    (for recipe as written, my changes probably make it worse...(; )

This is definitely an awesome recipe to feed a crowd of people that you love--I hope you give it a try!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

TWD: Peanut Butter Crisscrosses

For this week's assignment, Jasmine of Jasmine Cuisine chose the Peanut Butter Crisscrosses from page 78 of BFMHTY.

I made these last night in advance for my Bible study meeting tonight and they are so good!  I love a peanut butter cookie!  I'm trying to stay away from them now b/c I ate too many warm out of the oven (how could i not?) last night.

I hope the girls enjoy these tonight, and be sure to check out Jasmine's blog for the recipe, and the TWD leave your link post to see who baked along this week!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

peanut butter tart

A few days ago I was browsing the blogs and ran across an amazingly simple and delicious looking peanut butter tart on Joy the Baker's blog.  I knew immediately that I would be making it for my first Bible study meeting with my new group!
Seriously, it only takes a few minutes to whip up--and no baking at all!  Gotta love that on a hot summer day!  I made this one in my rectangle tart pan and had nice square slices for everyone. 

The girls loved it!  Everyone gobbled up a good-sized piece, and then Butch enjoyed licking up the crumbs :)  (she also loved licking the bowls while I was making it)

Thanks to Joy for inspiring me to make this super easy delicious tart!

No-Bake Peanut Butter Tart
adapted from Martha Stewart
makes one 9-inch round tart
Print this Recipe!
For the Crust:
12 double graham crackers (the kind that measure about 5 x 2 1/2-inches)
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
pinch of salt
For the Filling:
1 3/4 cups heavy cream, divided
1 cup natural peanut butter
3/4  (6 ounces) cup cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup plus 2 Tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
Crust the graham crackers in a food processor, in a plastic back with a rolling pin or with your hands in a bowl.  Make sure they are very well crumbled with no large chunks remaining.  Add the melted butter and stir thoroughly, making sure all of the crumbs receive some butter love.  Pour the graham cracker and butter mixture into a 9-inch tart shell with a removable bottom.  Press the mixture along the sides of the tart pan and along the bottom until evenly coated.  Carefully place the tart pan in the freezer while you prepare the filling.
To make the filling combine the peanut butter, softened cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk in the bowl of an electric mixer fit with a paddle attachment.  You can also use the food processor if you’d like.
Blend the three ingredients until thoroughly incorporated, but don’t over blend or some liquids will separate.
In a separate bowl, whip 3/4 cup of heavy cream to soft peaks.  Add the whipped cream to the peanut butter mixture and fold together until well incorporated.
Remove the tart pan from the freezer and spoon in the peanut butter filling.  Spread evenly.
Whip up the remaining cup of heavy cream to stiff peaks and add to the top of the peanut butter filling.  Refrigerate for at least two hours, or overnight.  Top with salted mixed nuts and serve in giant slices.  Seriously.

TWD: chocolate espresso shortbread cookies

For this week's TWD assignment Donna of Life's too Short not to Eat Dessert First chose the espresso chocolate shortbread from page 125 of Baking from My Home to Yours.

I am not a coffee person.  I just don't like it.  But for some reason I decided to make this recipe as is rather than making the variation of oatmeal spice shortbread.  Maybe b/c I have some friends who like coffee...maybe b/c I've been running so hard lately that I can't think! 

I do keep some instant coffee on hand for baking and such, so I used that rather than espresso, but the coffee flavor was still too strong for me.  I LOVE Dorie's method for rolling out the dough though--stick it in a plastic bag, roll it out and then cut the bag off and you get nice little squares!  Mine had some wrinkles from the bag and don't look perfect, but that's fine w/me!  The new bible study girls seemed to enjoy these alright, but I think I'm gonna send the rest to my parent's house b/c my mom loves shortbread :).

Check out Donna's blog for the recipe!