Sunday, January 23, 2011

Tortellini Chowder

A meatless main entree-go figure!

Don't feel too sorry for Husband. He had beef stick ends in his possession from Schmidt's Meat Market. His carnivorous tendencies were well taken care of last night.

The weather has been disgusting cold here. 20 below zero disgusting. Soup always sounds great when it is cold and spicy soup with cheesy pasta really hit the spot for me.

Source: Midwest Living Magazine


⅔ cup Chopped Onion
½ cup Chopped Red Sweet Pepper
⅓ cup Chopped Fresh Green Chili Pepper (Such As Anaheim Or Poblano) I used Anaheim.
2 Tbsp Minced Garlic
1 Fresh Jalapeno Pepper (Seeded, if you like), chopped (about 1 tablespoon)
1 Tbsp Butter Or Margarine
3 cups Chicken Broth
2 cups Cubed Peeled Potatoes
1 tsp Ground Cumin
¼ tsp Salt
¼ tsp Ground Black Pepper
⅛ tsp Cayenne Pepper
2-3 drops Sriracha Sauce
2 Tbsp All-Purpose Flour
2 Tbsp Butter Or Margarine, melted
1 15-¼-ounce Can Whole-Kernel Corn, drained
2 cups Half-And-Half Or Light Cream
2 cups Refrigerated Or Frozen Cheese-Filled Tortellini, cooked and drained

Husband had to take a picture of my chopped onion, peppers and garlic. I think he was just so impressed with all those peppers. That would have been unheard of from me just a few years ago. I will not do green peppers, but I am okay with red and spicy peppers chopped in food. You still wouldn't catch me sticking raw slices of red pepper in my mouth; but this is progress.


1. In a Dutch oven or kettle, cook the chopped onion, the red sweet pepper, the green chili pepper, the garlic, and the jalapeno pepper in the 1 tablespoon butter or margarine for about 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender, but not brown.

2. Carefully stir in broth, potatoes, cumin, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper and Sriracha sauce. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes or until potatoes are just tender.

3. In a small bowl or custard cup, stir together flour and 2 tablespoons melted butter; add to soup mixture. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir 1 minute.

4. Reduce heat and add corn, half-and-half, and tortellini. Heat through. Ladle into soup bowls.

My cheese filled tortellini. Cheese filled pasta fills my heart with joy. I didn't miss the meat. I didn't ask Husband about that because I knew the answer. But, once again, he had his beef stick ends.

We had leftover Ciabatta bread in the freezer; that goes well with any soup. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Chicken pot pie...with photos

My original post with recipe. I decided this recipe deserved a photo and another recognition. It is that good.

I love chicken pot pie. I even loved chicken pot pie when the only ones I ate were those little frozen ones sold along side the TV dinners. Some people loved Ramon noodles,  I loved my pot pies. Along with pizza that was pretty much what kept me alive my first year on my own.
What I can't figure out is why it took me so long to try a homemade pot pie. I have been making pie crusts from scratch for years, and that is the hardest part.

As mentioned in the first post, and it bears repeating, the pie needs time to sit after coming out of the oven. My recipe suggested 10 minutes and that isn't going to do it. You will have nothing resembling a slice; chicken stew with a crust swimming on it would be more accurate.
What I do is make it well ahead of time and we re-heat in the microwave. Other than the leftover feeling from the get-go (but who minds leftovers?) it works great. One pie gives us two meals; another bonus from my standpoint.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Chicken Bacon Alfredo pizza

Unfortunately the Vikings are out of the playoffs this year, but we are still using football as an excuse to have pizza every weekend.
I have been using this pizza dough recipe for a while and I am very pleased with it. It is easy, turns out every time and tastes great.
The creamy garlic sauce that some pizza chains offer goes so well with chicken. When we talked about doing a chicken pizza I decided to try this Alfredo sauce. I have tried creamy garlic sauces before but have been disappointed in how thin they turned out. Not problem with this sauce; it's very thick and rich.

Source: The Neelys from Food network website

Alfredo Pizza Sauce


2 Tbsp Butter
1 Clove Garlic, minced
1 tsp Red Pepper Flakes-
1 Tbsp All-Purpose Flour, plus more for work surface
1 cup Heavy Cream
¼ cup Grated Parmesan ( I had fresh Romano Cheese available and used it instead )


Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant. Add the flour and cook until light blonde in color. Whisk in the cream, reduce the heat to low, and let simmer until thickened, about 2 minutes. Stir in Parmesan and season lightly with salt and pepper, to taste.

I loved it. The Alfredo sauce was exactly what I had in mind.  It is topped with chicken breast baked with olive oil and fresh ground pepper. I also added fried bacon chopped into bite-sized pieces, black olives and fresh spinach on top. The cheese is an Italian blend.

The only hard part was putting away the leftovers. I could have eaten the whole thing in one sitting!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Thai Honey Peanut Chicken

This was really easy and really good. I love sweet and spicy.

I made a bit over half of this recipe for the two of us. I did add a bit more curry powder and about 1 1/2 teaspoons of Sriracha sauce. It still wasn't overly spicy, but then again we really like food with heat.
Rather than mix cooked vegetables into the sauce I decided to serve steamed broccoli on the side along with wild and brown rice. I really liked having the three separate flavors on the plate.

Source - Tasty Kitchen


1 pound Chicken, In Chunks
¼ cup Soy Sauce
2 Tablespoons Honey
1 Tablespoon Lime Juice
1 tsp Minced Garlic (Approximately 1 Large Clove)
1 Tablespoon  Peanut Butter (Heaping Tablespoon Even Better)
½ tsp Curry Powder
1 tsp Sriracha (Optional)


Mix ingredients and marinate chicken for 2-3 hours.

Cook chicken in the sauce over medium-high heat for 7-8 minutes or until chicken is done. Reduce heat to medium-low and add precooked veggies if desired. Serve topped with sesame seeds.

To thicken sauce if needed: reduce heat to medium-low and add a cornstarch slurry (1 teaspoon cornstarch in 1 tablespoon water).

Friday, January 14, 2011

Chocolate cupcakes with Milk Chocolate Buttercream frosting

Husband and I were in the grocery store last week and he commented being hungry for cake when we walked through the baking isle. I guess the holidays didn't ruin us for sweets for very long!

I decided to make some cupcakes for ease of freezing leftovers (leftover cupcakes....can you imagine??) and having nice little individual portion sizes.

For me the hardest part of cupcakes is trying not to make a mess when filling the paper liners with the cupcake batter. I remembered a great idea from Barefoot Contessa aka Ina Garten; use a cookie scoop. It works wonderfully! Not only does it eliminate the mess but it makes it much easier to get equal amounts of batter in each liner so the cupcakes bake evenly and get done at the same time.

The buttercream frosting can be made with bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, but I am here to tell you the milk chocolate was amazing. I used milk chocolate baking chips and melted them in the microwave. So easy. 

Adapted from Joy of Baking

Chocolate Cupcakes


½ cup Cocoa Powder
1 cup Boiling Hot Water
1 ⅓ cups All Purpose Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
½ tsp Salt
½ cup Unsalted Butter, room temperature
1 cup Granulated White Sugar
2 large Eggs
2 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract 


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly butter, or line 16 muffin cups with paper liners.

In a small bowl stir until smooth the boiling hot water and the cocoa powder. Let cool to room temperature.

In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Then in the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and beat only until incorporated. Then add the cooled cocoa mixture and stir until smooth.  Be sure to give the chocolate mixture a stir before adding to the mixing bowl. The chocolate likes to settle on the bottom of the bowl.

Fill each muffin cup about two-thirds full with batter using a cookie scoop and bake for about 16-20 minutes or until risen, springy to the touch, and a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Once the cupcakes have completely cooled, frost with buttercream frosting.

Milk Chocolate Buttercream Frosting


1 cup (8 ounces) Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
2 ½ cups Powdered Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
4 ounces Semisweet Or Milk Chocolate, melted and cooled


1. Using the wire whisk attachment of a stand mixer, whip the butter on medium-high speed for 5 minutes.

2. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the powdered sugar. Once all of the powdered sugar is incorporated, increase the speed to medium-high and add the vanilla, mixing until incorporated. Add the melted chocolate and whip at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

You can store any unused buttercream in the refrigerator in an airtight container; let it come to room temperature and then give it a quick whip before using.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Pumpkin Cheesecake

It took me a few tries to get a shot I even halfway liked of this delectable pumpkin cheesecake. It was first served at Christmas and the leftovers were frozen and eaten on several more occasions. I finally got a reasonable photo on the last piece. Delicious, but not photogenic. Actually I think it was more me than the cheesecake. ;-)

 It was both the easiest and best cheesecake I have ever made.  I placed a 9x13 pan filled with water in the oven with the cheesecake as recommended to prevent cracking and it really seemed to help.
We froze the leftovers in portion-sized pieces in tin foil. It worked beautifully! The cheesecake was still great several weeks later.



1 ¾ cups Graham Cracker Crumbs
3 Tbsp Light Brown Sugar
½ tsp Ground Cinnamon
4 Tbsp Melted Salted Butter


3 (8-ounce) Packages Cream Cheese, at room temperature
1 (15-ounce) Can Pureed Pumpkin
3 Eggs Plus 1 Egg Yolk
¼ cup Sour Cream
1 ½ cups Sugar
½ tsp Ground Cinnamon
⅛ tsp Fresh Ground Nutmeg
⅛ tsp Ground Cloves
2 Tbsp All-Purpose Flour
1 tsp Vanilla Extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.


For crust:

In medium bowl, combine crumbs, sugar and cinnamon. Add melted butter. Press down flat into a 9-inch springform pan. Set aside.

For filling:

Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add pumpkin puree, eggs, egg yolk, sour cream, sugar and the spices. Add flour and vanilla. Beat together until well combined.

Pour into crust. Wrap the bottom of spring form pan with aluminum foil and place a pan of water in the over under the cheesecake.  Spread out evenly and place oven for 1 hour. Turn off heat, open oven door slightly and let the cheesecake sit in the cooling oven for at least 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit for 15 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours.

When done the cheesecake should still "jiggle" slightly in the center. It will firm up as it sits.

I had no worries of this cheesecake falling. I think the pumpkin helps it set.

Recipe found on Food Network

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Pan Fried Chicken and Herb Mashed Potatoes

Okay, so it's skinless fried chicken. It tastes good. It would be utterly fabulous with skin, and in this case, bones. But you gotta make up for cheesy herb potatoes and the chocolate cupcakes for dessert somehow!

Adapted from Cooking Light


1 cups All-Purpose Flour
½ tsp Ground Ginger
 ½ tsp Hot Paprika
¼ tsp Ground Cinnamon
 ½ tsp Garlic Powder
½ tsp Cayenne Pepper
½ tsp Fine Sea Salt
4 skinless Chicken Breasts
¼ cups Vegetable Oil


1. Sift together first 6 ingredients; place mixture in a large zip-top plastic bag. Sprinkle salt evenly over chicken. Add chicken, one piece at a time, to bag; seal. Shake bag to coat chicken. Remove chicken from bag, shaking off excess flour. Place chicken on a cooling rack; place rack in a jelly-roll pan. Reserve remaining flour mixture. Loosely cover chicken; chill 1 ½ hours. Let chicken stand at room temperature 30 minutes. Return chicken, one piece at a time, to flour mixture, shaking bag to coat chicken. Discard excess flour mixture.

2. Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken to pan. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook 25 minutes or until done, carefully turning every 5 minutes.

3. Line a clean cooling rack with brown paper bags; arrange chicken in a single layer on bags. Let stand for 5 minutes.

*It also worked well to brown in frying pan and then bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes at 375 degrees and I have made it this way a couple times. I find it a challenge to keep the coating on the skinless chicken and it is hard to get it to stay in place turning it multiple times in the frying pan. 

Herb Mashed Potatoes

I bought some Boursin Garlic and Fine Herbs cheese for Christmas eve and served it as an appetizer with crackers. It is really delicious. When I bought it I remembered seeing a recipe for it in potatoes. Sure enough...

Adapted from Big Red Kitchen


2 pounds potatoes scrubbed
One Package Boursin Garlic And Fine Herbs Cheese
1 tsp Kosher Salt
Fresh Ground Black Pepper, as much as you like
½ cup Sour Cream
⅛ to ¼ cups Milk To Creamy Consistency


 In a large pot of salted water boil potatoes until fork tender: about 20 minutes. Drain water put potatoes in bowl of stand mixer. Mix remaining ingredients into potatoes on medium speed. Add milk until desired creamy consistency. 

*I decided to use a hand potato masher for a most rustic texture. I love garlic mashed potatoes and these have great flavor.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Hoisin Pork Tenderloin

We occasionally buy those pre-marinated pork tenderloins; usually for the grill during the summer.  They are always very tender and flavorful.  When I read the ingredients I knew I would love this marinade.


½ cup Hoisin Sauce
¼ cup Sliced Green Onions
¼ cup Soy Sauce
2 Tablespoons Rice Wine Vinegar
3 Garlic Cloves, minced
2 (1 pound) Pork Tenderloins, trimmed
Cooking Spray
2 Tablespoons Sesame Seeds


Combine hoisin, green onions, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and garlic in a large zippered plastic bag. Seal and marinate at least two hours or overnight. Turn bag periodically.

Remove pork from bag, reserving marinade. Place pork on a rack that sits on top of a baking rack. Spray the rack with cooking spray. Bake at 425o F for 15 minutes. Sprinkle top of pork with sesame seeds; bake until meat thermometer reaches 160o F. Place pork on cutting board ; tent with foil and let stand 10 minutes. Cut into ½" thick slices.

Pour reserved marinade into a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook until reduced to about ⅔ cup; 3 minutes. Serve with pork.

Recipe from Cooking Light

*I marinated the pork for about 18 hours and it was super tender and very infused with the delicious flavor of the marinade.
When I pulled out the meat to sprinkle the sesame seeds I decided to pour some of the reserved marinade over the loin.  To still have sauce to serve with the meat I mixed some Hoisin sauce, soy sauce and rice wine vinegar in a sauce pan and heated to boiling. It became thickened after a few minutes and was good poured over the meat for added flavor.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Cheese stuffed shells with Sausage in Tomato sauce

I knew I would like this recipe.  No way possible I could not.

Honestly, it is a lot like lasagna. Meat sauce, pasta and cheese all baked together until it looks and smells fabulous.

This recipe takes a bit of time to put together, but it is very easy. Stuffing the shells took a little practice, but if a little spills out it is really not the end of the world. :)  The Romano cheese made a delicious addition to the ricotta that I may incorporate into future lasagna recipes. 


8 ounces  Jumbo Pasta Shells
16 ounces Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese
½ cup Parmesan Cheese, Grated,
½ cup Grated Romano Cheese
1 Whole Egg
1 Tbsp Basil
2 Tablespoons Minced Parsley
Salt And Pepper, to taste
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
½ Whole Medium Onion, Chopped
1 cup Sliced Mushrooms
5 cloves Garlic, Minced
½ pound Italian Sausage
½ cup Red Wine
1 Whole 28 Ounce Can Crushed Tomatoes
1 Whole 15-Ounce Can Crushed Tomatoes
2 Tablespoons Sugar
½ tsp Salt
1 Tablespoons Minced Parsley
1 Tbsp Basil
1 Tbsp Oregano
1 cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese


Cook pasta shells for half the cooking time; make sure not to overcook. Drain and rinse in cool water. Set aside.

Heat olive oil in large skillet or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions, mushrooms and garlic and saute for a minute or two. Add Italian sausage and brown, breaking it up into small pieces as it cooks. Pour in red wine and let it cook for a minute or two. Pour in cans of crushed tomatoes and stir. Add sugar, salt, basil, parsley and oregano. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover and cook 30 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In a separate bowl, mix ricotta, half the Parmesan, Romano, egg, salt and pepper, basil, and 2 tablespoons parsley. Stir until combined.

To assemble, coat the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish with sauce.

Fill each half-cooked shell with the cheese mixture. Place face down on the sauce. Repeat with shells until cheese mixture is gone. Top shells with remaining sauce. Sprinkle with shredded Mozzarella. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.

Adapted from Pioneer Woman - one of my favorite blogs!