Friday, May 28, 2010

Cheesy Baked Pasta with Spinach and Artichoke

I love Real Simple magazine - they always have great articles, recipes and ideas for making life simpler!  As soon as I saw this recipe in the April issue I knew that we had to try this!  It looked delicious and simple to make on a busy weeknight.

We got mixed reviews in our house - my husband loved it while I thought it was just okay.  I think it needed more seasonings and I wasn't a huge fan of the artichokes.  I think that this is one that I will play with and see what I can turn this into!

Cheesy Baked Pasta with Spinach and Artichoke
April 2010 Issue Real Simple Magazine

8 oz. cooked short pasta - I used ziti
1 14 oz. can artichoke hearts, rinsed and quartered
1 9 oz. package frozen creamed spinach, thawed
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese

Combine pasta, artichoke hearts, spinach, parmesan cheese and 1 cup of mozzarella cheese.   Season with salt and pepper.  Transfer to 8 inch square broiler safe baking dish and sprinkle with remaining cheese.  Broil until browned - 3 minutes.

Enjoy with some crusty bread or my favorite crescent rolls!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

No Recipe Cherry Jam

My Aunt sends out jam for Christmas, this was my first year getting my very own package.  I was so excited because I love homemade gifts and the flavors sounded yummy!  I decided to open the Sour Cherry Jam first and I fell in love at first bite!  It was wonderful!! Full of cherry flavor and a little something else that I haven't figured out yet and will have to ask for recipe.  I ate my little jar in secret, hiding it in the back of the fridge only sharing a couple of bites with my husband, taking peanut butter and jelly to work for a week.... I wish I was joking about this but I really am obsessed!  Sadly I recently had my last spoonful and have tried a couple of store bought version to try and get the same taste without luck.  They were good but not the same, so I decided to take it to the internet and try and find a recipe for cherry jam.

I have never made am kind of jam before and was a little intimidated, until I came across this No-Recipe Cherry Jam post on David Lebovitz's blog.  It made it seem easy enough for anyone to do, so I decided to give it a try.  I was also excited to use my new cherry pitter which was a gift from my mom (she has heard me talk about this jam so much that she knew I was going to have to try my hand at it.)  Cherry were on sale this week so I decided to give it a try!  Unfortunately they were not sour cherries like the ones in my aunts jam but I decided to give it a try.  The end result was a yummy jam that was full of cherry flavor.  It wasn't the same as my aunts, I think I need to try this with sour cherries but it is yummy!

Cherry Jam
Recipe from David Lebovitz

8 cups of pitted cherries
Juice of 2 lemons
Zest fo 1 lemon
3 cups sugar

Place the cherries, lemon zest and juice in non reactive pot, I used my Dutch Oven for this.  Cook until cherries are wilted and soft.  Stir frequently.   Remove and measure cherries, add back to pan and add 3/4 the amount of sugar.  I ended up with 4 cups of cherries so I added 3 cups of sugar.  Stir together and increase heat to high.  The mixture will bubble, be sure to continuously stir the mixture, scraping the bottom to prevent the mixture from burning.  While the cherries are cooking place a small plate in the freezer.  Once the bubbles begin to subside and the mixture coats the back of the spatula turn off the heat and place a small amount of jam on the plate from the freezer.  Let the mixture stand on the plate and if the mixture wrinkles it is done.  If not turn the heat back on and heat until this does happen.  Be careful not to over cook.  Ladle into containers and allow to come to room temperature before storing in the fridge.  The jam will last several weeks in the fridge.

Mini Chocolate Muffins

These muffins were the perfect size for my chocolate fix in the morning.  What is it about mini muffins that make you feel like you can have ten without the calories counting!   I have been on a huge mini muffin/cupcake kick for this reason!  Try these for a wonderful breakfast treat!

Mini Chocolate Chip Muffins
Adapted from Nigella Lawson

1 3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
1 cup milk
1/3 cup plus 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Put flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa, sugar and chocolate chips into a large bowl.  Pour all the liquid ingredients into a large bowl and stir to incorporate.  Mix the dry and wet ingredients together, the batter will be lumpy.  Spoon batter into cupcake pans, lined with paper liners.  Sprinkle tops with additional chocolate chips and bake for 10 -15 minutes.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Monster Fruit Platter

A couple of weeks ago my sister in-law celebrated her birthday and we had a fun little party for her.  Instead of baked goods, my mother in-law requested us to bring a fruit platter.  First I was disappointed because I love to bake and that is what I always bring to parties.  Then I decided that if I had to bring a fruit platter it wasn't going to be a simple little platter, but the best platter EVER!  I looked at a couple of things on-line and my husband decided that he had to make this monster.  It was really easy to make and everyone enjoyed it!  I recommend playing around with your food - maybe you'll enjoy it! :)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake

Once I find a recipe that I want to try I look for any reason to make it!  So when my bosses 25th Anniversary with the company came up I knew that I needed to make this Coffee Cake!  It was a must!  It was a wonderfully moist coffee cake, but I wish that the peanut butter flavor had come out just a little more.  Everyone in the office LOVED it and I had no complaints from them!  I will try this again - I think I want to try a Nutella version!

Peanut Butter Coffee Cake
Recipe from Jif & Mr. Breakfast

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup crunchy peanut butter
2 Tablespoons melted butter
1 1/2 cups mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup butter, room temprature
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teasppon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray a 13x9" pan with non-stick spray.  

Mix together, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup flour, 1/4 cup crunchy peanut butter and melted butter until crumbly.  Stir in chocolate chips and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine 1/2 cup peanut butter and 1/4 cup softened butter, cream together.  Beat in 1 cup brown sugar.  Add in eggs one a time, incorporating well.  Beat until fluffy.  Add in dry ingredients alternately with milk, begining and ending with dry ingredients.  

Spread batter evenly into prepared pan and top with chocolate chip mixture.  Bake 30 minutes.  Cool in pan and serve warm.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Chicken Gyros with Tzatziki

Can't believe it has been so long since I posted!  It has been a really busy couple of weeks - I was working up in LA which can take up to 2 hours on a bad day each way, then we just got back from a really fun road trip so I have not spent any time in the kitchen.  I am glad to get back into the swing of things with this wonderful recipe.  This is a delicious recipe - you need to try and make this right away!  It was surprisingly easy to make and the results are impressive.  Paired with a wonderful Greek Salad this meal is very satisfying!

Tzatziki Sauce

16 ounces plain Greek yogurt
1/2 hothouse cucumber, grated
3 cloved of minced garlic
1 tsp. white wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
Salt and pepper
Fresh lemon juice

After grating cucumber, wrap in kitchen towel to drain excess moisture.   Mix together yogurt, cucumber, garlic, white wine vinegar, dill, salt and pepper to taste and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.  Drizzle lightly with olive oil and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Chicken Gyros

4 cloves of smashed garlic
Juice of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon plain yogurt
1 Tablespoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
1 lb. chicken tenders

Combine all ingredients except for chicken tenders.  Add chicken and marinate for 1 hour.   Grill chicken 3 minutes on each side or until cooked.

To assemble the gyros, place chicken in warmed pitas, top with lettuce, red onions and tzatziki sauce.  ENJOY!