Friday, March 28, 2008

Lemons make spaghetti!

The other night when Alex was finally feeling better, oh it must have been Wednesday, I was thinking of what to make that still wouldn't hurt his stomach. Well my mother has ingrained in me that when you have sever stomach flu you stick to the BRAT diet...bread, rice, applesauce, toast. Given all the carbohydrates that are included in that cure, I decided what better to have for dinner than some kind of pasta, well not just any kind the BEST kind...Lemon Spaghetti!

Giada has come up with a great, simple, easy and delicious recipe for Lemon Spaghetti and usually in our house it only serves as a side dish to stuffed chicken or scallopini, but this night we had it as the main course, a filled plate of lemony delight!

Be sure to use freshly grated parmesan cheese as it adds to the flavor!

Lemon Spaghetti

1 pound spaghetti
2/3 cup olive oil (I either omit or use 1 T, it doesn't need all of this)
2/3 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk the oil, Parmesan, and lemon juice in a large bowl to blend.

Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Toss the pasta with the lemon sauce, and the reserved cooking liquid, adding 1/4 cup at a time as needed to moisten. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with lemon zest and chopped basil.

What a week!

So this week has been so crazy. We had a wonderful Easter with Alex's family and a great Easter dinner. Though I am quite upset with myself for not taking any pictures. We all pitched in a brought a couple dishes for dinner. I was on starch duty, never can have enough carbohydrates:)

I brought Cooks Illustrated's Scalloped Potatoes which were amazing of course, and then for rolls I brought Pretzel Rolls. I got the recipe from epicurious and they were the hit of the night. I made them a little smaller getting 12 instead of 8 but that was perfect and they tasted amazing. It was so nice to be with family and we celebrated our niece's 2nd birthday!

But after the holiday, Alex came down with the stomach flu which stopped the need for new recipes considering we had plenty of leftovers from Easter. The night before he was bedridden with the flu, we had leftover ham wtih a new recipe I found for Wild rice casserole in the crockpot. One of those recipes where you open a few cans and plop it all in to cook all day (I didn't add the chicken), well it was fantastic, definately comfort food and got rid of some things in the pantry.

I almost forgot the best part of Easter, well for me at least, food wise, were the caramel rolls I made for Easter breakfast. They were Cooks Illustrated Best Light recipe for Cinnamon Rolls...AMAZING...soft, yummy, and oh so addicting. Instead of the frosting I used the CI caramel for caramel rolls, since it was something we hadn't had in awhile! Try them...they are delicious!

Scalloped Potatoes

2 Tbsp butter
1 medium onion, minced
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves, minced
1 1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 1/2 lbs (about 5 med) russet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/8" thick
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
2 bay leaves
4 oz cheddar cheese, shredded

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 425 degrees.

2. Melt the butter in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When the foaming subsides, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the potatoes, broth, cream, and bay leaves and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer until the potatoes are almost tender (a paring knife can be slipped into and out of a potato slice with some resistance), about 10 minutes. Discard the bay leaves.

3. Transfer the mixture to an 8-inch square baking dish (or other 1 1/2 quart gratin dish). Sprinkle evenly with the cheese. Bake until the cream is bubbling around the edges and the top is golden brown, about 15 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before serving.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Granola, Granola, oh how we love you!

We love granola at our house.  Not the fattening, oil laden granola that so many places feed you, but homemade maple almond granola to be exact.  I have tried other recipes but this one is terrific and terribly easy that you can throw it together in a matter of minutes for a great snack or breakfast.

We love our granola with vanilla yogurt, hubby adds dried fruit, and I add fresh fruit.  But when the cereal and toast grow old, behold there is granola to save you from the breakfast hum drum.

The recipe is one I got from the Cooking Light website.  The only change I make is that I do not add dried fruit to the entire batch.  Watch yourself, this stuff is addicting!

Maple Almond Granola (Adapted from Cooking Light)


4 Cups regular Oats
1/4 Cup slivered almonds (or nut of choice)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 Cup water
1/3 Cup honey
1/3 Cup maple syrup
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 Tablespoons canola oil
Cooking Spray
1 Cup minced dried apricots
1 Cup raisins


1.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees
2.  Combine first four ingredients in a large bowl.
3.  Combine water, syrup, sugar, and oil in a small saucepan; bring to a boil.  Pour over oat mixture; toss to coat.  Spread out on a jelly roll pan coated with cooking spray.  Bake at 325 for 35 minutes or until golden, stirring every 10 minutes.  Place in a large bowl; stir in dried fruit and cool completely.

Note: store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Yield: 6 Cups (serving size 1/4 cup)

Nutritional Information:  calories (126) fat (2.8)

Friday, March 21, 2008

Let's go bananas!

A couple of weeks ago, my mom and sister in law came to the cities for the weekend.  We had a blast just spending time together shopping, visiting, and eating of course!  By Sunday though, it we decided it would be nice to have breakfast at our house, for one more chance to just visit, save money, and eat some really good homemade food.

Because my husband and I do not really care for banana breads, I decided to make one for the brunch because my guests love it.  Also it was a great way to get rid of some of the frozen bananas in our freezer:)  It's not that we don't like things with bananas, just banana's great right out of the oven when the exterior is really crisp and the inside warm and delicious, but the next day...hmm, not so much.

So for breakfast we enjoyed Farmer's Casserole (bhg...great!), banana bread, and homemade fruit salad.  It was just enough and very delicious!

Banana Bread  (adapted from Joy of Cooking)


1 1/3 C Flour
3/4  tsp Salt
1/4  tsp baking powder
1/2  tsp baking soda
5 1/2 Tbsp. butter
2/3  C Sugar
2  Large Eggs
1 C very ripe mashed bananas (I used three small ones)
optional 1/2 C walnuts


1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Coat loaf pan with cooking spray.
2.  Whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a bowl.
3.  In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  
4.  Beat in the flour mixture.  Batter will be really dry.
5.  Gradually beat in eggs.  Then add the bananas, folding in if desired.
6.  Spread mixture into loaf pan and top with walnuts if desired.
7.  Bake for 1 hour, or until a tester comes out clean.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

TWD: Brioche Raisin Snails, or muffins?

Muffins it is...though I really want to try the Brioche. Only problem is, despite how yummy the recipe looks this weekend just filled up before I knew it. I don't usually have a lot of extra time during the week to do much baking so I rely on our weekends.

This weekend was filled spending some quality time with my hubby, seeing Jane Eyre at the Guthrie, and buying an investment property...yea! So with the weekend full, I didn't want TWD to go naked, so something needed to be made by Dorie as a substitute. Redeeming choice for breakfast Sunday, we had Lemon Poppyseed Muffins, which were moist, tart, and delicious!

But I think the snails may need to be made in the near future, because the flaming of the raisins, just sounds too irresistable:)

Check out the TWD site for links to all the others who made these delicious french sweets! Next week, Steph from A Whisk and a Spoon chose the Caramel Topped Flan...delish!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Chicken Piccata...salty, sour, superb!

Tonight I needed a quick and easy dinner and because the hubby was working so hard I wanted to make something he really liked. His favorite meal is Chicken Saltimbocca from Buca di Beppo, so I knew he would like the Chicken Piccata...I just didn't know he would love it. I always have him give the recipe a rating, well this one has the highest rating yet...9.5! Yeah Giada!

This recipe is really easy to put together, uses ingredients that might be in your pantry (they're in mine), and is on the table in a mere thirty minutes of less. I served ours over Ronzoni Thin Spaghetti with a Caesar salad with homemade croutons. A glass of cab on the side, made the meal complete!

Chicken Piccata (adapted from Everyday Italian by Giada De Laurentis)

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, halved crosswise
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
all-purpose flour, for dredging
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (approx 2 lemons)
1/4 cup drained capers, rinsed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (I omitted)

Season the chicken with the salt/pepper. Dredge the chicken in the flour to coat lightly.

In a large saute pan, melt 2 tbsp of the butter with the 2 tbsp of oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook just until brown, about 3 minutes per side (I did mine a bit longer because, as per usual, I forgot to pound it!). Using tongs, transfer the chicken to a plate.

Add the broth, lemon juice, and capers to the same pan and bring to a boil, scraping up the bits from the bottom of the pan.

Return the chicken and simmer until cooked through, about 5 minutes.

Transfer the chicken to a platter, and whisk the 2 remaining TBSP's of butter into the sauce. Pour the sauce over the chicken, garnish with parsley, and serve.

Caesar Salad with Homemade Croutons

Romaine Lettuce
Caesar Salad Dressing of choice
Sliced cucumbers
Italian bread

Mix first three ingredients in a bowl.
Slice bread into cubes, toast in some olive oil on the stove and put in the oven under the broiler until crispy.

TWD: Russian Grandmothers' Apple Pie-Cake

Mmmm....that is our opinion...this is so yummy and not too difficult to put together. The best part is that it tastes similar to pie but has the cakey crust. Both the hubby and I decided that it was in our opinion, better than pie:) But we also think that a light, vanilla glaze would be a great addition! Check out the TWD blog for more!

I took it to my Bible Study last night and it was funny, because when I called it pie-cake everyone stated..."well it looks like pie crust" well their opinions changed when they took a bite, it's definately cakier than it looks!

The recipe was chosen for the week by Natalie of Burned Bits, and it was a fabulous choice. I didn't have the two hours of refridgeration so I threw the dough in the freezer for about a half an hour and it still worked great. The only problem was after it sat a bit, it was a little dry for my taste, so best to eat slightly warm!

Up next week, by Culinary Concotions by Peabody...Brioche Raisin Snails!

Here is the recipe with the photo to come later!

Russian Grandmothers' Apple Pie-Cake

For The Dough

2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Juice of 1 lemon
3 1/4 - 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

For The Apples:
10 medium apples, all one kind or a mix (I like to use Fuji, Golden Delicious and Ida Reds; my grandmother probably used dry baking apples like Cordland and Rome)
Squirt of fresh lemon juice
1 cup moist, plump raisins (dark or golden)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Sugar, preferably decorating (coarse) sugar, for dusting

To Make The Dough:

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes.

Add the eggs and continue to beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes more.

Reduce the mixer speed to low, add the baking powder and salt and mix just to combine.

Add the lemon juice - the dough will probably curdle, but don't worry about it.

Still working on low speed, slowly but steadily add 3 1/4 cups of the flour, mixing to incorporate it and scraping down the bowl as needed.

The dough is meant to be soft, but if you think it looks more like a batter than a dough at this point, add the extra 1/4 cup flour. (The dough usually needs the extra flour.) When properly combined, the dough should almost clean the sides of the bowl.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface, gather it into a ball and divide it in half. Shape each half into a rectangle. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or for up to 3 days. (The dough can be wrapped airtight and frozen for up to 2 months; defrost overnight in the refrigerator.)

To Make The Apples:

Peel and core the apples and cut into slices about 1/4 inch thick; cut the slices in half crosswise if you want. Toss the slices in a bowl with a little lemon juice - even with the juice, the apples may turn brown, but that's fine - and add the raisins.

Mix the sugar and cinnamon together, sprinkle over the apples and stir to coat evenly. Taste an apple and add more sugar, cinnamon, and/or lemon juice if you like.

Getting Ready to Bake:

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Generously butter a 9x12-inch baking pan (Pyrex is good) and place it on a baking shee tlined with parchment or a silicone mat.

Remove the dough from the fridge. If it is too hard to roll and it cracks, either let it sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes or give it a few bashes with your rolling pin to get it moving. Once it's a little more malleable, you've got a few choices. You can roll it on a well-floured work surface or roll it between sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper. You can even press or roll out pieces of the dough and patch them together in the pan - because of the baking powder in the dough, it will puff and self-heal under the oven's heat.

Roll the dough out until it is just a little larger all around than your pan and about 1/4 inch thick - you don't want the dough to be too thin, because you really want to taste it.

Transfer the dough to the pan. If the dough comes up the sides of the pan, that's fine; if it doesn't that's fine too. Give the apples another toss in the bowl, then turn them into the pan and, using your hands, spread them evenely across the bottom. Roll out the second piece of dough and position it over the apples.

Cut the dough so you've got a 1/4 to 1/2 inch overhang and tuck the excess into the sides of the pan, as though you were making a bed. (If you don't have that much overhang, just press what you've got against the sides of the pan.)

Brush the top of the dough lightly with water and sprinkle sugar over the dough. Using a small sharp knife, cut 6 to 8 evenly spaced slits in the dough.

Bake for 65 to 80 minutes, or until the dough is a nice golden brown and the juices from the apples are bubbling up through the slits. Transfer the baking pan to a cooling rack and cool to just warm or to room temperature. You'll be tempted to taste it sooner, but I think the dough needs a little time to rest.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Meatballs and Mozzarella...gooey goodness!

Last week we were in need of a quick dinner on Wednesday before our small group. Looking around the kitchen I found the perfect three ingredients for our meal...a few burger buns that needed to be used, fresh mozzarella, and ground beef. What does that make? Well, the gooiest, yummiest, meatball burgers:)

I have made meatball burgers before with great results, so I continued this time with the same tried and true recipe from Cooking Light. Actually I think what makes this meal so wonderful for us is the vegetable that goes with it...Scrumptious Garlic Fries.

This was the perfect meal paired with a glass of red wine, well maybe not the best pairing but it sure tasted great!

Here is the recipe:


8 ounces sweet turkey Italian sausage (I use regular italian sausage, and only 2-3 ounces)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed (Omitted)
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1 pound ground sirloin
Cooking spray
2 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
6 (2-ounce) Italian bread rolls, split
3/4 cup fat-free tomato-basil pasta sauce (such as Muir Glen) (I used homemade marinara)


Prepare grill.

Remove casings from sausage. Combine sausage, oregano, basil, salt, fennel seeds, garlic powder, and ground sirloin. Divide beef mixture into 6 equal portions, shaping each into a 1/2-inch-thick patty.

Place patties on a grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 5 minutes. Turn patties over; grill 2 minutes. Divide fresh mozzarella cheese evenly over patties, and grill an additional 5 minutes or until a thermometer registers 165°. Remove from grill; let stand 5 minutes.

Place rolls, cut sides down, on grill rack; grill 1 minute or until toasted. Place 1 patty on bottom half of each roll; top each serving with 2 tablespoons sauce and top half of roll.


6 servings (serving size: 1 burger)

Nutritional Information

CALORIES 375(33% from fat); FAT 13.9g (sat 5.3g,mono 4.4g,poly 1.7g); PROTEIN 28.1g; CHOLESTEROL 80mg; CALCIUM 130mg; SODIUM 894mg; FIBER 1.8g; IRON 4.5mg; CARBOHYDRATE 32.7g


2-3 potatoes, cut and sliced into fries
3 T olive oil
1 T minced garlic
2 T butter, melted
2 T parsley

1. Preheat oven to 425.
2. Place cut fries and olive oil in a ziplock bag. Shake until coated. Place evenly on a rimmed baking sheet coated with and place in oven.
3. Bake for 30 minutes, tossing halfway through, or until golden brown.
4. Melt butter and garlic in microwave, pour over fries. Salt and pepper to taste, and garnish with parsley.

TWD-Snickery Squares, at least I hoped

Unfortunately I do not have a post for my first debut with Tuesdays with Dorie. This past week at our house was really hectic. Some family things transpired that needed our attention, time and care so the snickery squares just didn't get made. I feel horrible b/c I just joined and couldn't make the complete the task, but any prayers for our family would be appreciated!

I can't wait though to check out how the snickery squares turned out from all of my other fellow TWD bloggers! Check out the Tuesdays with Dorie site for links to other blogs.

I am hoping though when things slow down to get my hands on all the ingredients and post about these yummy looking bars:)