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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Lasagna-Style Baked Ziti

Source-Real Simple Cookbook

  • 12 oz box of ziti (about 4 cups)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2lb lean ground beef
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 26oz jar marinara sauce
  • 1 bunch spinach, thick stems removed (about 4 cups)
  • 1/2 cup ricotta (used full 15oz container)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan 
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella (used 2 cups)
  • Heat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Cook the pasta according to the package directions. 
  • Drain the pasta and return to pot.
  • Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  • Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften, 4-5 minutes.
  • Add the beef, 3/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.
  • Cook, breaking up the beef with a spoon until it's no longer pink, 5-6 minutes.
  • Toss the pasta with the meat mixture, marinara sauce, spinach, ricotta, and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan.
  • Transfer to 9x13 baking dish or 4 large ramekins.
  • Sprinkle with mozzarella and remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan.
  • Bake until the cheese melts, 12-15 minutes.
Review & Changes-  This had really good flavor.  I liked the freshness of the spinach even in a baked dish.  Of course the cheese was great.  If anything it could have used a bit more marinara sauce.  An easy meal that tastes good.  I'd make this again.


Monday, November 7, 2011

Southwest Chicken Skillet

Source- Betty Crocker Easy Family Dinners Cookbook

  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 lb bag frozen broccoli, corn and red peppers (mine also came with cauliflower)
  • 15oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup thick and chunky salsa (used full 16oz jar)
  • 2 cups coarsely crushed tortilla chips
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • Heat oil in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Cook chicken in oil 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until brown.
  • Stir in frozen vegetables, beans and salsa.
  • Reduce heat to medium.
  • Cover and cook 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are crisp tender.
  • Sprinkle with tortilla chips and cheese.
  • Cover and cook about 2 minutes or until cheese is melted.
Review & Changes- This turned out really good.  My husband was surprised at how much he liked the tortilla chips in it.  Of course in the leftovers the chips weren't crunchy anymore, but they still were good.   I definitely think the recipe needed the full jar of salsa instead of just 1 cup.  I started with just the cup, and it didn't look like enough, so I didn't immediately go to the whole jar.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Fudgy Chocolate Chip Toffee Bars

Source- Family Bites via Pinterest

Every once in awhile I get the urge to make a dessert.  We usually have cookies in the house, but sometimes I want something a little different for a sweet treat.  These looked really good and not too hard to make.

  • 1/2 C butter, melted
  • 2 C graham cracker crumbs (32 squares) 
  • 1 8 oz. bag toffee bits
  • 1 roll refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough
  • 1 12oz. bag chocolate chips
  • 1 14oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 T butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • Grease 13x9 baking dish and heat oven to 350.
  • Have the roll of cookie dough sitting out for around 10 minutes to soften up.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the 1/2 cup of melted butter, 1 1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs and 3/4 cup of toffee bits.
  • Pour mixture into the greased pan and press evenly until mixture covers bottom of pan. 
  • Refrigerate for around 15 minutes.
  • In a 2 qt saucepan, heat the milk, chocolate chips and the tablespoon of butter over medium heat. 
  • Stir frequently until the chips are melted and the mixture is smooth. 
  • Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. 
  • Spread the mixture over the graham cracker crumb mixture.
  • In another medium mixing bowl, break up the cookie dough and stir in the remaining 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs until blended. 
  • Crumble the mixture evenly over the chocolate layer and the sprinkle the remaining 3/4 cup toffee bits on top.
  • Bake for about 25-35 minutes or until it's golden brown. 
  • Cool completely before cutting, probably around 2 or more hours.
Review & Changes- These are super rich.  Of course that isn't a bad thing, but a small piece goes a long way.  They are an amazing combination of chocolate and toffee.  The crust layer doesn't really get hard so they stay nice and chewy.  Definitely amazing, you should make these!


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Roasted Vegetables with Rice

Source- Me!

I did have an inspiration for this recipe, but it called for cooking the tomatoes in an aluminum foil pouch on a grill.  Since I don't have an indoor grill or outdoor grill I decided that I'd cook them in the oven, and then I also added a zucchini and squash.  I was making pork loin and knew I needed some sort of side to go with the vegetables, so I opted for rice.  That is how this whole thing came together.

  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 yellow squash, chopped
  • 2- 12oz bags of cherry tomatoes with stems removed
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • seasoning salt
  • pepper
  • 3 cups uncooked brown rice
  • water for rice, or chicken stock/broth
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil.
  • Place vegetables in bowl.
  • Add oil, salt and pepper
  • Mix until vegetables are well coated.
  • Pour onto covered cookie sheet.
  • Bake in oven about 20 minutes, or until vegetables are well cooked and tomatoes start to pop.  
  • While vegetables are roasting, cook rice according to package directions.  I used minute rice so that I didn't have to wait so long.
  • After rice has finished cooking and set, pour into large mixing bowl.  
  • Add vegetables and any juices that have accumulated.
  • Mix well and serve hot.
Review & Changes- I am a genius!  OK, maybe not really but this recipe was great.  I've never cooked with zucchini or squash but knew that I liked them because of trying them at restaurants in a mixed vegetable medley.  I'm glad I included the rice.  It made the vegetables a little bit more without overpowering them.  Plus having roasted veggies and brown rice as a side instead of a potato made me feel that we were eating healthy.

I'm sure you could change up the veggies or even add in different seasonings, but they aren't necessary.  After this success I will be using zucchini and squash again!