Saturday, February 21, 2009

Creamy Sausage and Tortellini Bake

Two recipes in one day? Wow. I must be neglecting the laundry today, lol. Anyway, this recipe is something that I played around with for supper -- it's a cross between a couple of recipes that I had bookmarked to try. Sean didn't want to eat it (those evil veggies again) but I did manage to get him to try a tortellini. D is not a big fan of spinach, but he did say it was good. I liked it, though with the response from the family, I'm not sure how often I'll be making it. It was fairly easy to throw together, though.

Creamy Sausage and Tortellini Bake

1 lb bulk Italian sausage
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 can (14-1/2 oz) Italian diced tomatoes, undrained
1 pkg (10 oz) frozen creamed spinach, thawed
1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1 (20 oz) pkg refrigerated cheese tortellini

Preheat oven to 350'F. In a large skillet or dutch oven, cook sausage and onion over medium heat until no longer pink; drain (if necessary). Stir in the tomatoes (with juice), spinach and cream cheese, stirring until cream cheese melts. Add in 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese and the cheese tortellini. Transfer to a greased 11 x 13 inch baking dish. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle with remaining 1 cup mozzarella cheese. Bake 10 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Yield: 6 servings.

Cream Cheese Chicken

I made this a few nights ago, and thought I would share the recipe. It's a great meal for a busy weeknight, especially since it utilizes the crockpot/slow cooker. It also reheats well. I even know how this recipe came to be in my files! A friend of mine, Faith, shared it a few years ago.

Cream Cheese Chicken

4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup melter butter
salt and pepper, to taste
2 packets dry Ranch or Italian dressing mix
1 can cream of chicken soup
8 oz cream cheese, cut into cubes
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup chopped onion

Brush chicken with butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in a Crock Pot and sprinkle 1 packet dry dressing mix over all. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 7 hours. About 45 minutes before serving, brown onion in 1/4 cup of the juices from the Crock Pot. Add soup, second packet of dry dressing mix, cream cheese and chicken broth. Cook until smooth. Pout over the chicken; cover and cook another 45 minutes. Serve with sauce. Goes great with rice, stuffing, pasta, or mashed potatoes. Add in broccoli or other veggies for variety.

Katy's notes: I don't melt the butter, just cut into cubes and toss in with the chicken. Also, I only use a total of 1 pkg of Ranch dressing mix. When I went to grab an onion out of the pantry, I discovered they had ruined (yuck!) so I just added some dried minced onions this time instead. I like to add frozen green peas a few minutes before serving (just to get them heated through) and serve with mini farfalle pasta!!


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Red Velvet Cookies

I didn't get the cake made yesterday, but I did manage to bake up a new cookie recipe that I wanted to try. See, cookies are easier, lol. Anyway, I am reading Carrot Cake Murder by Joanne Fluke and it is full of recipes (it's the first book by her that I've read). This recipe sounded interesting, and after my failed Pink Velvet Cupcakes last week (What? I didn't blog about that? Really? And no, you won't see anything else about that catastrophe, LOL) these sounded like just the thing to try. My parents were here for supper, and everyone that tried one agreed that they were good. I felt they were missing something though. I didn't have time to make the cream cheese frosting for them, so perhaps that was it. After consulting with my Red Velvet Cake expert today, she agrees that they needed the frosting. :)

Red Velvet Cookies

2 oz unsweetened baking chocolate
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
1 Tbsp red food coloring
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup sour cream
2 cups flour
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375'F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Unwrap the chocolate and break into pieces. Place in a microwave-safe bowl and cook on high for 90 seconds, or until melted. Stir until smooth and set aside to cool.

In the bowl of a mixer combine the butter and sugars. Beat on medium speed until smooth. Add the baking soda and salt, and mix to incorporate.

Add the egg and beat on medium until smooth, about one minute. Add the food coloring and vanilla and mix well.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the melted chocolate; mix well, about one minute. Scrape down the bowl again and add in half the flour. When the flour is incorporated, mix in the sour cream. Add in the rest of the flour. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto the cookie sheet. If the dough is too sticky to work with, chill for 30 minutes. Bake for 9-11 minutes, or until they rise and become firm. Let cool on sheet for 1-2 minutes, then remove to cooling rack. After they are cool, frost with Cream Cheese Frosting. Yield: 3 dozen

Cream Cheese Frosting

1/4 cup softened butter
4 oz softened cream cheese
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups confectioner's sugar

Mix the softened butter with the softened cream cheese and vanilla until the mixture is smooth. Add the confectioner's sugar in half-cup increments until the frosting is of proper spreading consistency.

Katy's notes: The vanilla in the cookie batter was my addition. The first pan I baked, I made the cookies and little small and they were slightly overbaked. I increased the size for the next pan and that worked better. For the food coloring, I used Wilton No-Taste Red gel coloring.

My Apologies

I didn't get my Tuesdays with Dorie post made yesterday, and I didn't get the cake that I was supposed to bake made either. I haven't been budgeting my baking time well, and technically I needed to bake two separate layer cakes for two separate baking events this week! It's one thing to whip up a batch of cookies quickly, it's another thing to make a three-layer cake with frosting. So, I know the one for TWD didn't get made (even though it looks delicious -- it's the one from the cover of the book!) and I have a feeling the one for the Cake Slice may not get made either, although I wouldn't count it out totally...I do have until Friday to get it made, lol.

In the meantime, check out with the other TWD Bakers did with the Devil's Food White Out Cake this week!! :)


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Pierogi Beef Skillet

I tried a new recipe tonight, and it was a hit! Well, Sean only ate one bite, but whatever...D and I liked it! :) Not only was it good, but it was quick and easy to throw together. It's also budget-friendly; it cost me less than $10 to make the entire dish. I'll have to make sure I keep the ingredients on hand for this one.

Funny side note - before serving it, I grabbed my camera to take a quick picture. Every time I start taking pictures of food, D just rolls his eyes and laughs at me! He'd really laugh at me if he knew that I'd love to start plating the food on fancy dishes and setting a "scene" to try to make the pictures look more like the ones in magazines and books, LOL!!

Pierogi Beef Skillet

1 lb ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 can (14.5 oz) beef broth
1 pkg (16 oz) frozen cheese and potato pierogies, thawed
2 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed and drained
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

In a large skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain, reserving 3 Tbsp drippings. Sprinkle flour over beef and drippings; stir until blended. Gradually add beef broth. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.

Stir in the pierogies, vegetables and seasonings. Cook, uncovered for 4-5 minutes or until heated through. Sprinkle with cheese. Makes 4 servings.

Katy's notes: I use the lean ground beef, so I didn't have any drippings. I just added the flour to the beef in the pan, then added the broth. Also, before cooking the meat, I browned the pierogies in a little oil. It wasn't really necessary, but I wanted to, lol. When serving, I completely forgot the cheese! It was good without it, but maybe I can remember it the next time!


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Chocolate Fudge Cookies with Toffee and Dried Cherries

So, yes I've joined another baking event! I can't help it...they're just so much fun. This one is all about cookies! Kate at the Clean Plate Club hosts a monthly event she calls the Cookie Carnival. This is my first month to play, and the recipe she chose was chocolate fudge cookies with toffee and dried cherries from this book. Now, I'll admit, I was a little...timid about trying this recipe. I mean, chocolate, cherries and toffee?? Sounded a bit odd in my opinion. Oh my how I was wrong! Well okay, it still sounds odd, lol, but it sure tastes good!! I couldn't even wait for one to finish cooling down before taste-testing it, so the chocolate chunks were all warm and gooey in the middle. Yum!!

I am heading up the hospitality committee at the elementary school this year, and we are having a treat day for the teachers tomorrow. I thought this would be the perfect thing to send!

Here's the recipe, and make sure to wipe the drool off of your keyboard! Too bad we can't send smells over the internet...

Chocolate Fudge Cookies with Toffee and Dried Cherries


2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened dutch-process cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup tightly packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup plump, moist, dried sour cherries
8 oz. bitter or semisweet chocolate chopped into chunks about the size of the cherries
1 cup English toffee pieces for baking such as Skor bits
Preheat oven to 350'F. Line two heavy baking sheets, not non-stick with parchment paper and set aside. Sift flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt together in a bowl and set aside. In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of an electric or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and both sugars until light in color and fluffy - about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the vanilla. Stir in the flour-mixture in 3 additions, blending just until the dry ingredients are moistened. This part is really easier with a wooden spoon since the batter is quite dense. The dough may be frozen at this point for up to 4 months; wrap securely in plastic wrap, then in a plastic freezer bag; thaw in the refrigerator without removing its wrapping before portioning the cookies and baking.
Drop the batter by heaping tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheets and place them in the centre of the oven, turning half way through baking.

Bake the cookies for 15-18 minutes (mine were done in 12-14 minutes) or until barely set in the centers and just firm around the edges. Cool cookies on tray for 3-5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely before storing. Store in air tight containers, layered between sheets of parchment or waxed paper for up to 5 days.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Tuesdays with Dorie - Floating Islands

For this week's recipe, Shari of Whisk: a food blog chose Floating Islands. These look amazing. And time consuming, lol. And because of birthday parties last week and Valentine's coming up this week, I'm going to be passing on making this recipe. For now. I definitely plan on getting brave and trying these at some poin!. In the meantime, check out what the other TWD Bakers did with this recipe, and you should definitely check out Shari's post about it and see her amazing photos and commentary!! Happy Baking everyone!!


Friday, February 6, 2009

Birthday Cake Cones

For his party at school, Munchkin requested birthday cake cones. This was a new one for me. I don't think I've ever even eaten one before yesterday, although while during research on them, they were apparently quite popular back in the 80's. I guess maybe I wasn't cool enough to have them back then!

Anyway, they are actually super simple to make. I just whipped up a boxed vanilla cake mix (yes, a mix -- gasp, lol!!) although I did add an extra teaspoon of vanilla for good measure. Then, you fill some flat-bottomed cake cones with the batter, bake, and there you go! Munchkin even helped me make them. Sprout wasn't too happy that he was confined to the highchair during the baking process. He was definitely telling us about the whole time! We made the cupcakes yesterday evening, and I took them to school this afternoon. The kids were quite happy with them. One kid even told me that they were better than his mom's cupcakes. Oops. To his mom: sorry 'bout that. :)

I will mention, however, that the cones absorbed some of the moisture from the cake and got a little soggy (no, soggy is not quite the right word, but they were definitely more moist than normal), though the kids didn't seem to notice! Another note - I placed the cones inside muffin tins to bake. That definitely seemed like a better idea than trying to keep them steady on a flat baking pan.

Of course, I took photos of the entire process. Total blogging opportunity, lol!! Enjoy!

Guess I should mention that today is Munchkin's birthday!! Happy 7th birthday, my little sous chef!!!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Like Free Stuff??

Checkout the giveaway on From One Mommy to Another!! She's giving away a Ju-Ju-Be Be Set in one of the two new spring prints, sponsored by Little Dudes and Divas. In case you didn't know, I've become a bit of a diaper bag junkie since the little one was born, lol!! These things are great for organizing your bags, and not just diaper bags either!! :)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

TWD - World Peace Cookies

I'm back in the baking groove, thank goodness. And just in time, because this week Jessica of cookbookhabit chose World Peace Cookies for everyone to bake. Quite an intriguing recipe title, don't you think? What's also intriguing is that the original recipe calls for fleur de sel and while I didn't have any fancy varieties on hand, I did actually have some nondescript sea salt that I could use. It adds an interesting saltiness to the cookies. Additionally, the recipe calls for chopped up bittersweet chocolate. Well, as I was perusing my pantry today, I spotted a bar of white chocolate and decided to play around a bit.

Think of these cookies as a chocolate slice and bake shortbread cookie. They are sandy and crumbly. And I must say, they are quite delicious! :) If you happen to get the chance, I highly suggest giving these cookies a try.
I got a little picture happy today, thanks to my new camera!

The white chocolate was an interesting addition. It was good, but almost too sweet. Next time, and there will be a next time, I would like to try it with the bittersweet chocolate. I should also mention that I added an extra tablespoon of butter to the dough, which kept it from being too crumbly, which some of the other bakers had mentioned as an issue.
Thanks for looking, and if you get a chance, check out what the other TWD bakers did with the recipe!
Peace! :-)