Thursday, March 24, 2011

Lasagna Casserole

1 lb campagnelle (curly pasta)
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 lb ground beef, pork, and veal mix
1 carrot peeled and grated
1 onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves grated
black pepper
1 (28oz) can Italian plum tomatoes
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, shredded or torn
a handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
2 cups ricotta cheese
1/2 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, a couple of handfuls

Bring a pot of water to a boil. When it boils salt the water liberally, add the pasta and cook just shy of al dente 6 to 7 minutes; there should still be a good bite left to it.

While pasta water comes to a boil heat the EVOO in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground meat and break it up into small bits; brown it lightly 3 to 4 minutes. Add carrots, onions and garlic; season with salt and pepper; cook for 5 to 6 minutes to soften. Add tomatoes to the pan and use a wooden spoon to crush them up. Add the stock. Simmer for 15 minutes, then fold in the basil and parsley.

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Drain the pasta and place in a large bowl. Add the sauce and ricotta cheese and mix well, then transfer to a casserole dish and top with the Parmigiano cheese. Bake for 15 minutes to get the top a bit crusty. Serve with a green salad that you can prepare while the pasta is in the oven.

We used just a pound of ground beef, fresh tomatoes and add some tomato sauce. I add the tomato sauce because when use fresh tomatoes, there is no juice from the can and for these recipe the juice is needed for the sauce. James isn't a big fan of ricotta cheese, so we used cottage cheese instead. I also add Italian seasoning and paprika to the meat. I had some leftover cheddar so that went into the mix too. We also add mushrooms into the mix.

This came from Rachael Ray's Just in time! It's one of her 60 minute meals.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Road Trip snacks

James and I went over to Atlanta, GA to see the aquarium. It's about a 4 hour drive, so I thought it would be nice to have something to munch on along the way, and not really have to worry about breakfast. I made ham and cheese crescent rolls. We went to the deli and picked up a pound a ham deli lunch meat. We had some cheddar and a crescent roll sheet. We cut up the sheet like the crescent rolls would have come. I sprinkled cheese on the rolls, took some ham put some cheese on top and then rolled up the ham. I rolled the ham up in the crescent roll then rolled the crescent roll in some cheese. I put them in the oven for about ten minutes and I had our road trip snack.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Steak made yummy

With the impending departure from Fort Rucker and each other, James thought he would surprise me with a steak dinner. However, I didn't get dressed up, I didn't put on makeup and do hair, nor did he take me out. No, he brought home 2 very nice steaks and some veggies. So I rubbed 'em, soaked 'em and the grilled 'em up.

Ok, so here's the secret for making a rub. If you like it put it in. I take a saucer and sprinkle stuff on it mix it together and rub it on. Here's what I used: garlic powder, ground cayenne pepper, smokehouse maple, black peppercorn grinder, curry powder, Italian seasoning, spicy Montreal steak seasoning, southwest chipotle seasoning, chopped onions, dill weed, and cilantro. Marinades are pretty much the same. For mine this time: Worcestershire sauce, balsamic vinaigrette dressing, red wine vinegar, sesame oil, beef gravy and some extra virgin olive oil. I also put whatever is leftover from the rub into the marinade. We grilled the steaks and steamed some veggies and that was dinner. James thought it was awful that we can't go to a restuarnant and have that great of steak.

The new and improved tuna helper

For those of you that have been following me and reading these it may be hard to believe, but yes the Davis family had tuna helper for dinner on Monday. It was a busy weekend for us with lots to do and the commissary here at Fort Rucker is closed on Mondays. So planning ahead we wanted something simple when we were picking up the stuff to make the Shepard's pie. So we picked a box of tuna helper and a large can of tuna but if you have been following my cooking you've probably guessed that wasn't enough. We also bought and an onion and some mushrooms. I cooked up the onions and mushrooms, crushed some garlic over top of them. I open the tuna helper box followed the direction threw in the onions and mushroom with everything else in the pot. When it was just about done I sprinkled some Italian seasoning on top gave it a nice stir and we had a pretty good dinner. So when life happens but you want something that taste good and has flavor just add some stuff to the tuna helper.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Barbecue Pork Shepherd's Pie

2 large russet potatoes (about 1 lb), peeled and cut into 1/2 in pieces
4 garlic cloves, peeled, divided
1 cup (4 oz) shredded cheddar cheese, divided
2 tbsp milk
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp salt, divided
1 can (14.5 oz) petite diced tomatoes, undreained
3/4 cup ketchup
3 tbsp Smoky Barbecue Rub, divided (if you don't have don't sweat but pampered chef and I have plan to substitute)
1 1/4 lbs pork tenderloin
1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and finely diced
1 1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed

Preheat oven to 400 F. Combine potatoes, two of the garlic cloves and enough water to cover in microwave safe dish. Microwave, covered on high 13-15 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Drain. Add 1/2 cup of the cheese, milk, butter and 1/2 tsp salt. Mash until smooth. Set aside.

Meanwhile, combine tomatoes, ketchup, 2 tbsp of the rub and remaining garlic pressed. trim fat and silver skin from pork. Slice work in half lengthwise; thinly slice crosswise. Combine pork, remaining salt, remaining rub and black pepper.

Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat 1-3 minutes or until shimmering. Add pork. Cook without stirring 3-5 minutes or until browned on one side. Add onion and carrots; cook and stir 2-3 minutes or until carrots begin to soften. Stir in tomato mixture; bring to a simmer. Remove Skillet from heat; sprinkle with peas. Scoop potatoes evenly over peas; flatten slightly. Place skillet in oven; bake, uncovered 10-12 minutes or until is bubbly. Carefully remove from oven. Sprinkle with remainning cheese; cover and let stand 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Feel free to cook the potatoes however you want. With the pending departure from Fort Rucker, I decided to use the rest of the box mashed potatoes we had. Turned out just fine. I add cilantro and dill to the potatoes. James and I prefer fresh to canned. So we got 2 fresh tomatoes and chopped those up. Now it says they are to be undrained, so you kind need that sauce water stuff. I add some Worcestershire sauce, some chipotle liquid smoke and the rest of the barbecue sauce we had (going along with that whole got use up things because of the pcsing). We substituted the barbecue rub with mccormick grill mate smokehouse maple. Pampered Chef suggest using 3/4 cup of barbecue sauce instead of ketchup and Smoky Barbecue Rub. To the pork tenderloin I mixed it with some mccormick grill mate smokehouse maple, spciy montreal steak seasoning and Mrs. Dash southwest Chipotle seasoning. I'm not sure if my skillet is oven safe. It probably is, but it's really nice and my Aunt Linda got for me as a shower present, so I'm not about to stick in the oven. I used my rectangular prytex dish. I aslo put the cheese on top before it went in the oven.

This came from The Pampered Chef More Weekday Dinners - Done. When you use a pampered chef cookbook it tells you what pampered Chef item to use. I left that part out.

Side note, it smelled so good and we were so hungry that I completely forgot about my blog and dug in first and took the picture later.

Indian-Spiced Chicken Pitas

Chicken Patties and Pitas
4 slices day-old french bread (1 cup fresh bread crumbs)
3/4 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves, divided
1 lb ground chicken
1 tbsp grated fresh gingerroot
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 1/2 garam masala
1/2 salt
2 pita pockets bread rounds split in half crosswise

Sauce and Vegetables
1/2 pain low fat yogurt
Chopped cilantro reserved from chicken patties
1 garlic clove, pressed
1/4 tsp salt
4 oz seedless cucumber
1 medium carrot, peeled
1/2 small red onion

Chop bread. Chop cilantro reserve 2 tbsp for sauce. Combine bread crumbs, remaining cilantro, chicken, ginger, pressed garlic, garam masala and salt; mix well. Form chicken mixture into four oblong patties about 1/2 in thick.

Heat grill pan (frying pan works too) over medium heat 5 minutes. Toast pitas on pan 1-2 minutes, turning once. Set aside and keep warm. Lightly spray pan with vegetable oil; cook patties 4-5 minutes or until browned. Turn patties over; cook 4-5 minutes or until thermometer registers 165 F and centers are no longer pink.

Meanwhile for sauce combine yogurt, reserved cilantro, pressed garlic and salt; mix well. Cut cucumber lengthwise into long ribbons. Cut carrots into julienne strips. Slice onion lengthwise into wedges. Fill each pita half with one patty; serve with sauce and vegetables.

I sometimes substitute the french bread with bread crumbs. The part of the country we are in doesn't seem to have anything to exotic and the commasiary doesn't seem to have garam masala. So I mix together a bunch of different stuff. This what I use instead: Italian seasoning, Cajun seasoning, chili powder, ground cumin, and paprika. That all goes in with meat mixture. Also James and I are fans of ground turkey, so often when it calls for ground chicken we use ground turkey instead. Now for the sauce I added some dill to it, and chopped cucumber real small and put that in too. We grilled the onions in the pan after the patties were done. I totally spaced and forgot to put the pitas in the fridge when we got them, so they had gone bad. We didn't use pitas this time, but normally we do when we make this.

This came from The Pampered Chef 29 minutes to dinner volume 2. When you use a pampered chef cookbook it tells you what pampered Chef item to use. I left that part out.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Experiments in the land of mini cupcakes into torts

Mini Chocolate Tiramisu Cakes

1 small pkg (9 oz) devil's food cake mix or 1 2/3 cups from the 18.25 oz pkg
1/4 cup sour cream
1 egg
1 tbsp water
1 tbsp instant coffee granules
1/3 cup coffee liqueur or
combine 1/4 cup water, 1/4 sugar, 1 tbsp instant coffee granules and 1 tsp rum extract. Microwave, uncovered on high 1-2 minutes or until sugar is dissolved; cool

Filling & Topping
1 1/2 cups thawed frozen whipped topping
8 oz mascarpone or cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
unsweetened cocoa powder (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray cups of mini0muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray. For cakes, combine cake mix, sour cream, egg, coffee granules and water in bowl and mix. Divide batter evenly among cups of pan. Bake 8-10 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in centers comes out clean.

Meanwhile, place whipped topping into large resealable plastic bag; secure and set aside. For filling, combine cheese, sugar, and vanilla in bowl; mix until smooth. Place filling into additional resealable plastic bag; secure and set aside.

Remove pan from oven. Press tops of cakes with lightly floured mini-tart shaper to make slight indentations; cool 2 minutes. Remove cakes from pan. Brush tops with coffee liqueur. Cool completely.

Trim corners of both bags. Pipe filling over cakes. Pipe whipped topping over filling. Sprinkle with cocoa powder, if desired.

I really wanted to make a tort with my new tort pans, so instead of putting into a mini-cupcake pan, I put into a tort pan. This batter is kinda thick, so I had to spread it around in the pan. I baked the tort the night before. I left out the coffee liqueur altogether. I was meeting some ladies the next morning. This way the tort would be cool enough and I wouldn't have to worry about it cooling. I got up the next morning made the filling. I added a tsp of coffee granules to the filling to give it some more flavor. I spread that in the well of the tort, spread the whipped topping on top. I didn't use cocoa powder on to. I grated a some dark chocolate and covered the top with that. Then I took my cinnamon and cover it with that too. It was really good too.

This came from The Pampered Chef Fall/Winter 2010 Season's Best Recipe Collection. When you use a pampered chef cookbook it tells you what pampered Chef item to use. I left that part out.

Japaneses-Style Salmon & Cucumber Salad

Seasoning Paste
1 Lemon divided
1 1-in piece peeled fresh ginger root
2 tbsp Asian Seasoning Mix (this is a pampered chef item, if you don't have it don't sweat it, just keep reading)
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 garlic clove, pressed

Salad and Salmon Rolls
2 seedless cucumbers
1/4 cup season rice vinegar
1 6-inch-wide center cut salmon fillet (about 1 1/2 lbs.)
Lemon slices (optional)

Prepare grill for direct cooking over medium-high heat. For paste zest lemon and grate ginger root to measure 1 tsp each. Juice lemon using to measure 2 tbsp. Combine 1 tbsp of the juice, gingerroot, seasonging mix, soy sauce, oil and garlic.

For the salad cut cucumbers in half crosswise; cut into julienne strips and place into a mixing bowl. Combine 1 tbsp lemon juice and vinegar. Set aside for serving

For rolls, cut salmon into 1 1/2in strips. Spread a small amount of the paste over each salmon strip coating completely. Roll up strips and tie with butcher's twine; spread rolls with remain paste. Grill rolls covered, 4 minutes or until grill marks appear. Turn, grill 4-6 minutes or until grill marks appear and thermometer registers 140 F. Remove from grill and carefully remove twine.

To serve toss salad with vinegar mixture. Divide salad among servings plates; top with salmon rolls.

When the commissary finally had salmon it was rather sad looking and not enough. So we grabbed some tuna also. We should have removed the skin for but didn't. So the salmon didn't roll, but the tuna rolled just fine. Also the commissary was out of cucumbers. Instead we got some mushrooms and some grapefruit and apples. We steamed up the mushrooms and some carrots. I was distracted and so no seasoning was adding to them, but normally I would have tossed in them in at least garlic powder. We cut up the fruit and had a nice little fruit salad on the side. I also added dill and red pepper flakes to the paste. After we had the fish pasted and all rolled up. I added the rice vinegar to the paste and then coated the outside of the rolls with that. It was pretty good. The chef's corner says to substitute Asian Seasoning Mix, increase gingerroot to 2 tsp and increase garlic to 2 cloves in the seasoning paste.

This came from The Pampered Chef Grill it Quick! When you use a pampered chef cookbook it tells you what pampered Chef item to use. I left that part out.