Thursday, August 29, 2013

Serving Up {Pasta}: Creamy Baked Fettuccine with Asiago and Thyme

My kids are huge pasta lovers.  Aren't all kids?  And while I love a good pasta dish, there are times when my kids' request for "noodles" is met with me thinking, "not again!".  So I love to find a good pasta dish that appeases my kids request for "noodles" while offering an adult flavor for my own selfish interest.

This recipe is one of those recipes that meets the needs of both kids and adults.  The use of asiago cheese and thyme totally rock this dish and take it beyond your kids cheesy noodles.  I have also taken to adding cooked, crumbed sausage to it to make a complete meal in one dish.  I generally will cook and crumble my sausage when I buy it and then I keep it in the freezer frozen until I need it.  By having cooked sausage on hand, I can pull this meal together in the time that it takes to boil the noodles and yet it tastes like a lot more effort went into it - a little secret that we will just keep to ourselves :)

One Year Ago: Blueberry Buckle
Two Years Ago: Morning Egg Casserole

(recipe adapted from Giana De Laurentiis, Food Network)
printable version

1 pound fettuccine pasta
2 cups grated asiago cheese, plus ¼ cup
2 (8-ounce) containers crème fraiche
1 cup grated parmesan
1 ½ Tbs. fresh chopped thyme leaves
½ tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 lb. Italian Sausage, cooked & crumbled (optional - my addition to the recipe)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8-10 minutes. Drain pasta reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking liquid.
In a large bowl, combine the 2 cups of asiago cheese, crème fraiche, parmesan, thyme, salt and pepper. Add pasta and reserved pasta cooking liquid as needed. Gently toss until all the ingredients are combined and the pasta is coated. Add crumbled Italian sausage and place the pasta in a buttered baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining ¼ cup asiago cheese. Bake until golden on top, about 25 minutes. Let sit for at least 5 minutes and serve.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Serving Up {Brownies}: Extreme Brownies

Typing this post is like torture to me right now.  We were on vacation last week and I have not yet made it to the grocery store to "restock" the kitchen from our being gone which means the fridge is bare.  I am having my normal mid-afternoon sugar craving and there is nothing in sight to satisfy it.  Then I sit down at the computer to post and have to stare at this deliriously amazing cookie/brownie treat and it is doing nothing to help the sugar craving...except that I have now added Oreo's to my grocery list.

The combination of a chocolate chip cookie layer, topped with Oreo's, topped with brownies really do make these brownies "extreme".  For the next time you really want to wow your audience....or when you just can't quit decide between cookies or brownies.  These are awesome!

One Year Ago: Easy Fish Tacos
Two Years Ago: S'more S'morgasbord

EXTREME BROWNIES (also known as Slutty Brownies)     
(recipe from What's Gabby Cooking?)
printable version

For the Brownie layer:
10 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups white sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup flour

For the Oreo layer:
1 package of Oreo (regular stuffed or double stuffed)

For the Cookie Dough layer:
1/2 cup unsalted butter (at room temp)
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

For the Brownie layer:
In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter over medium high heat. Add the sugar and cocoa powder once the butter is melted. Whisk to combine and remove from heat. Add the salt, vanilla and eggs and continuously whisk until the eggs are combined. Add the flour and continue to mix. Set the batter aside.

For the Cookie Dough layer:
Cream together the butter and sugars in a mixer. Add the eggs and vanilla, making sure to scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl. Add the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder and mix on low until everything is incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips. Set dough aside.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Line the bottom of a 9x9 baking pan with tin foil and then spray the tin foil with baking spray.
Layer the cookie dough on the bottom of a 9x9 baking pan, pressing down to form the bottom "crust".
Layer as many Oreos that will fit on top of the cookie dough. No need to overlap. One single layer will do.
Pour the brownie batter evenly over the top of the Oreo layer.
Bake for 30-35 minutes. Test with a knife to see if the center is done. When they test done, remove from oven and allow to cool before cutting and serving.
Serve with ice cream :)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Serving Up {Salad}: Bowtie Chicken Caesar Salad

Earlier this summer I was asked to bring a salad to a potluck birthday party celebration.  I needed something that I could throw together in record time because we were coming in from out of town with just enough time to change clothes and head to the party.  This recipe caught my eye as being a perfect option for my pot luck requirement.  By cooking/chopping the chicken in advance, this salad came together in the time that it took to boil the noodles.  And based on the empty bowl at the end of the party, the flavor was a winner as well!

One Year Ago: Sirloin Burger with Balsamic Mayo
Two Years Ago: Mom's Baked Beans

(recipe from The Girl Who Ate Everything)
printable version

2 bunches green leaf lettuce, chopped
1 bag Parmesan Croutons
1 bag Almond Accents/ Roasted Garlic Caesar
2 Chicken Breasts, cooked and chopped
2 cups bowtie pasta, cooked
6 oz. shredded parmesan cheese
Brianna’s Asiago Caesar Dressing

Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl and dress with the salad dressing (to taste) right before serving.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Serving Up {Cookies}: Lunch Lady Peanut Butter Bars

Do the school cafeteria's in other parts of the country still serve Peanut Butter Fingers as part of school lunch?  I went to school in Utah and they were a staple when I was a kid!  But my own children's school only has dessert once a week, and never Peanut Butter Fingers, so my kids were totally unfamiliar with them when I introduced them.

To me, this dessert totally defines school lunches.  In fact, in high school you could buy Peanut Butter Fingers in the "a la carte" line which means that sometimes lunch consisted of nothing more than a Peanut Butter Finger and a milk if you were lucky (not me mom, other people!).

As school begins again in the next few weeks, this is a worthy treat to make as you take a little trip down memory lane and introduce your own family to school lunches in the "olden days".

One Year Ago: Frozen Peaches
Two Years Ago: Pesto Pea Salad

printable version

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup peanut butter
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 cup oatmeal
additional peanut butter
chocolate frosting***(recipe to follow)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray large cookie sheet with non-stick spray.

Cream butter and sugars together in a large mixing bowl.  Add eggs, vanilla and peanut butter; continue to mix until well combined.  In a separate bowl, combine baking soda, salt, flour and oatmeal.  Gradually add dry ingredients to mixing bowl.  Spread batter onto prepared baking sheet.  Bake at 375 degrees for 10-15 minutes (the center will be soft but you do NOT want to overbake).  Allow to cool slightly.

While the bars are still slightly warm, spread with peanut butter.  You want a thin, even layer but can use more and make a thicker layer if you prefer.
Allow the bars to cool completely and then frost with favorite chocolate frosting.
Cut, serve & enjoy.

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tsp. vanilla
pinch salt
3 1/2 - 4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk

Combine butter and cocoa in a medium saucepan and allow butter to melt completely over med-low heat.  Remove from heat and add vanilla and salt.  Add milk and powdered sugar alternately until you reach desirable spreadable consistency.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Serving Up {Snack}: Chocolate Covered Potato Chips

We have been out of town for the past two weeks and I have been loving being in vacation mode.  Before we left for our little trek, my 10-year old used his own money to buy a package of Trader Joe's Milk Chocolate Covered Potato Chips.  He told me they were for the trip...which I thought was an awful idea since we were having 90-degree weather and I was afraid of the milk chocolate covered fingers that would result from his consumption of his chosen road-trip treat.  Luckily for me, the treat made it for less than 24 hours before he consumed the entire package sitting on the trampoline with a friend.  Issue solved!

In case you don't have a Trader Joe's in your neighborhood (in which case I do suggest you move) or a Candy Basket (a chocolate/candy store in Portland that sells chocolate covered potato chips by the pound) you can make this addictive treat in your own home.  In fact, these photos are the potato chips that my (same) 10-year old son dipped in chocolate one lazy Sunday afternoon completely on his own.  So that is my tag line....easy enough for a 10-year old (boy).  Now get to it!

One Year Ago: Orange Sweet Rolls
Two Years Ago: Caramel Clusters

printable version

1 bag ripple potato chips (use the thick ripple ones!)
1 lb. chocolate melts or melting chocolate

Carefully pour the bag of potato chips onto a cookie sheet and sort the potato chips, keeping those that are large and not broken.
Place chocolate melts into a microwave-safe glass bowl and microwave on 70% power for 1 1/2 minutes.  Remove from the microwave and stir.  Replace and continue to microwave in 1 minute intervals, stirring after each time, until the chocolate is melted and smooth.
Carefully dip each potato chip into the melted chocolate and then place on a sheet of waxed paper to cool and harden.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Serving Up {Sandwich}: Ty's Ultimate Grilled Sandwich

My 5 year old has a sandwich that he only refers to as "my favorite sandwich in the whole wide world!".  And while I am not opposed to occasionally trekking to downtown Portland to PBJ's to pick it up (it's called the Cynthia), mainly because it gives me reason to pick up my own favorite - the Spicy Thai - there are times that it is just easier to have the option of making the said sandwich at home.

Like this morning.  When I awoke at 6:12 a.m. and found my 5 year old in the kitchen with the bread, nutella, peanut butter and jelly all laid out on the counter.  He was simply waiting for an adult to happen by and grill up his all-time favorite sandwich.  By 6:20 he was covered in the sticky remains and happy as could be!

Or like two nights ago when the request for the sandwich came in at bedtime.  After eating the first, he ate a second.  Yeah, it's definitely good to have the option of making it at home.  So get yourself some nutella, peanut butter and raspberry jam and join in the grilled sandwich revolution...and if you ever find yourself in Portland, call me and we'll meet at PBJ's.

One Year Ago: Reuben Pizza Calzone
Two Years Ago: Garlic Chicken Farfalle

(recipe adapted from PBJ's Cynthia sandwich)
printable version

two slices of hearty bread
butter, softened
peanut butter
raspberry jam

Preheat stove-top or counter-top griddle.
Butter one slice of bread, place butter side down on griddle.
Spread remaining slice of bread with peanut butter, then nutella, then raspberry jam.
Place on top of bread already on the griddle and butter the top of the slice.
Grill until golden brown; flip and grill the other side.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Serving Up {Ham}: Sweet Baked Ham

I am a huge fan of shredded meat....pork, beef, chicken...but I had never even considered shredding ham until I saw this recipe.  Brilliant!  And delicious.  And easy.

You begin by boiling a shank ham on the stove in a vinegar/water mixture until it is ready to shred.  Once shredded you layer the ham with a brown sugar/dry mustard mixture and then it is ready to go!  I have made this a couple of times and I prefer to do the boiling/shredding/layering a day or two in advance and then the day I serve the ham I simply pop it into the oven to heat it through and it is ready in a snap.  Love that!  Love this recipe!  Hope that you do too!

One Year Ago: Ice Cream Sundae Cake

(recipe from Mel's Kitchen Cafe)

5-7 lb precooked bone-in ham (butt or shoulder cut, sometimes labeled shank)
White distilled vinegar (around 2-3 cups)
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons ground dry mustard

Place the ham in a large pot and cover with 2 parts water to 1 part vinegar until the ham is covered by at least an inch or two of liquid.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to maintain a vigorous boil without causing too much liquid to splash out.  Boil for 2-3 hours, until the meat easily falls off of the bone.  Remove the ham carefully from the pot, discarding the liquid, and allow the ham to cool so that you can easily remove the meat from the bones.  Shred the ham, discarding the fat and bones.
Place 1/2 of the shredded meat into a 9x9 (or similar size) dish.  In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar and mustard.  Sprinkle half of this mixture over the ham.  Layer the rest of the ham on top and sprinkle the remaining sugar/mustard mixture on top.  Cover the dish tightly with foil** and bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour.
**at this point you can refrigerate the dish if you made the ham ahead of time

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Serving Up {Breakfast}: Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake

I was surprised recently when I went to share this recipe with a co-worker and discovered that I had not yet posted it.  A real oversight considering this has been a favorite of ours for a very long time.  I have taken it to many potluck events and it is a hit every single time.  The smell of cinnamon that accompanies it is enough to make this recipe a "10".  But the real secret is the sour cream in the recipe that keeps this coffee cake moist and delicious.  Yum!

One Year Ago: Smashed Parmesan Potatoes
Two Years Ago: Scor Cake

(recipe from Taste of Home magazine)
printable version

1 cup butter, softened
2 3/4 cup sugar, divided
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
3 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 cups (16 ounces) sour cream
2 Tbs. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare a bundt pan (or other tube pan) by greasing and flouring.

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and 2 cups of sugar.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add vanilla; mix well.  combine the flour baking powder, baking soda and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with sour cream.
In a small bowl, combine remaining 3/4 cup sugar and cinnamon.

Spoon a third of the batter into prepared pan.  Sprinkle a third of the cinnamon sugar mixture over batter.  Repeat layers two more times.  Bake at 350 degrees for 60-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to wire rack to finish cooling.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Serving Up {Salad}: Mediterranean Quinoa Salad with White Balsamic Honey Dijon Vinaigrette

We are entering the dog days of's hot and we are down to the last few weeks before school begins again, which means we are playing HARD to try to get all the summer fun in!  This recipe is perfect for a busy day that you know you have to feed the family but it is simply too hot to heat up an oven.  I like to prepare this salad early in the morning (minus the spinach and dressing) before we head out for our day and then just stick it in the fridge.  When dinnertime comes around and everyone is hot and tired and asking, "what's for dinner" you can just whip it out, add the spinach and dressing and, "voila", dinner is served!

You're welcome!

One Year Ago: Homemade Sloppy Joes
Two Years Ago: Ravioli with Balsamic Browned Butter
                         Spinach, Pear, Prosciutto and Gorgonzola with Balsamic Vinaigrette

(recipe from Mylan S.)
printable version

1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups water
1 sweet onion, sliced and grilled w/ oil until browned and soft & carmelized
1 can Garbanzo beans, rinsed
1 jar (4 oz) artichoke hearts, chopped or sliced
1/2 jar pittted kalamata olives, chopped or sliced
12-16 ounce bag baby spinach

White Balsamic Honey Dijon Vinaigrette:
1/3  cup white balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
2 Tbs. Dijon mustard
1 Tbs. honey
Salt & Pepper to taste

Prepare quinoa by bringing water to a boil and adding the quinoa.  Stir, cover and cook as per package directions.  Set aside and allow to cool.
Prepare vinaigrette by combining all ingredients in a blender and pulsing until combined.
To cooled quinoa add onion, garbanzo beans, artichokes and olives.  Gently toss to combine.
Add spinach and dressing and toss lightly to coat.