Sunday, April 25, 2010

Iced Mocha

Ok so this barely qualifies as a recipe...but good nonetheless.

Hot brewed coffee (I used a chocolate 'flavored' variety)
Chocolate Syrup

Brew coffee good and strong.  While still hot mix with sugar in a quart jar...I used about a 1/3 of a jar of coffee and about 3/4 cup sugar.  I added a squeeze or chocolate syrup and a splash of vanilla.  Then I added enough milk until it was the right color.  I chilled overnight, then shook it up and served it over ice.  YUM!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Rachael Ray's Pasta With Broccoli and Sausage W/Ricotta Surprise

Rachael Ray's Pasta With Broccoli and Sausage W/Ricotta Surprise

1 lb short-cut pasta, such as penne (I didnt have penne, so I used tri-color rotini)
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 lemon, juice and zest of
fresh ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, once around the pan
1 lb bulk sweet Italian sausage
1 large head broccoli
1 medium onion, chopped
4 large garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1-1/2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/2 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese or pecorino romano cheese, plus some to pass at the table (I just used plain Parmesan, its what I had)

Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Heads up, you will need to use about 1/2 cup of the starchy cooking liquid for the sauce before you drain the pasta.

In a small mixing bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, lemon zest, salt, and a lot of freshly ground black pepper. Reserve the ricotta mixture on the countertop and let it come up to room temperature. The flavors of the cheese and lemon will develop as the cheese warms up.

Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat with the EVOO. Add the sausage and break it up with the back of a wooden spoon into a small bite-size pieces. Really go at breaking the meat up; it will make a difference in the end. Cook the meat until brown, about 4 to 5 minutes. 

While the sausage is browning, prepare the broccoli. Cut the broccoli tops into small florets. Remove the fibrous outer layer of the stem (just square it off using your knife), then thinly slice the tender center portion of the stem.

Once the sausage is browned, remove it to a paper-towel-lined plate. Return the skillet to the heat and add all of the broccoli and the chopped onion. Spread the veggies out in an even layer in the pan, season with some salt and pepper, and let the broccoli brown up a bit before stirring, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and continue to cook 2 minutes more. Add the sausage back to the skillet along with the chicken stock. Ladle in some cooking water from the pasta and bring up to a simmer. Cook until the broccoli is tender and the liquids have reduced slightly, about 2 minutes. Add the lemon juice, parsley, and cooked, well-drained pasta. Toss to combine and simmer 1 last minute to allow the pasta to soak in the sauce and flavors. Turn the heat off, add the grated cheese, and toss to combine.

To serve, place a large dollop of the pepper-lemon-ricotta mixture into each of 4 shallow bowls and bury it with the hot pasta. Once you are at the table, mix it up with a fork to distribute the ricotta cheese. Serve with extra grated cheese.  (I didnt want to serve it in the bowls like that so I just mixed it all in and served it that way.  Probably wasnt as pretty but tasted good.)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Honey Whole Wheat Bread

Honey Whole Wheat Bread
(Recipe from Betty Crocker Cookbook)

3 Cups Whole Wheat Flour
1/3 Cup Honey
1/4 Cup Shortening
3 teaspoons salt
2 pkgs yeast or (4 1/2 teaspoons)
2 1/4 Cups very warm water
3-4 cups all purpose flour

Okay so now this recipe proceeds into all the intricate details of making bread (I'll post those if you need me to).  But for me...I dumped it all in my bread machine in the "order suggested by manufactuer" and hit the dough cycle.  I started with 3 cups all purpose flour and just watched it as it came to a dough and added more.  When it went off, I divided it in half (recipe makes two loaves) put one in my loaf pan and the other made about 5 big buns.  Let rise until I was satisfied with the size and baked until golden brown!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Balsamic Chicken with White Beans and Wilted Spinach

Yay, back to blogging, back to cooking more too!!  This was something "different" for us, but everyone liked it.  Isaac was gobbling up the onions in the beans/greens like nobody's business.  I actually cooked the chicken in a grill pan rather than just a skillet and gave it a more grilled flavor.  We will def be making this again.

Recipe from Rachel Ray Express Lane Cooking cookbook.

Balsamic Chicken with White Beans and Wilted Spinach

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (eyeball it)
4 tablespoons EVOO
1 tablespoon grill seasoning, such as McCormick's Montreal Steak Seasoning, a palmful
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
4 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (eyeball it)
Salt and black pepper
1 bay leaf
3/4 cup white wine (eyeball it)
2 cups chicken stock
1 14-ounce can cannellini beans, drained
1 12-ounce sack baby spinach or 3/4 pound from the bulk bins, washed and patted dry
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, a couple of generous handfuls, chopped
Juice of 1 lemon

In a shallow dish, combine the balsamic vinegar, about 2 tablespoons of the EVOO, and the grill seasoning. Coat the chicken breasts in the mixture, and set aside to marinate while you start the white beans and wilted spinach.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat with the remaining 2 tablespoons of EVOO, twice around the the pan. Add the onions, garlic, thyme, red pepper flakes [I add a little extra to make it a little bit spicy], salt, pepper, and bay leaf. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are a little brown, 3 to 4 minutes. [Takes more like 7-8 on my stove.] Add the white wine and chicken stock, bring up to a bubble, and cook for 5 minutes.

Heat another large skillet over medium-high heat. When it is hot, add the chicken breasts and cook for 5 to 6 minutes on each side. Remove the chicken to a plate, cover loosely with foil, and let rest a few minutes.

Add the cannellini beans to the skillet with the onions and stir to combine. Cook for about 2 minutes or until the beans are heated through. Turn off the heat and discard the bay leaf. Stir in the spinach, parsley,and lemon juice. Toss and stir until the spinach wilts.

To serve, place a portion of the white beans and wilted spinach on each serving plate. Thickly slice each chicken breast on an angle and arrange over the beans and spinach.