Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Turkey Tetrazzini

Turkey Tetrazzini with Roasted Zucchini

Casseroles don't normally get me pumped for dinner. They are a thrifty cook's Plan B, but this concoction could make me gain back a few baby pounds, and I wouldn't be mad about it. Pasta. Cream. Butter. Oh goodness.

This is in the I Hate to Cook Cookbook as a great way to use up Thanksgiving leftover turkey. I totally agree, which is why I already wrote this in my Google calendar as a possible turkey-day leftover idea. (Wait, you don't menu plan possible ideas months in advance? I have to brain dump these revelations or my brilliant ideas leak out of my brain. Not that I'm calling casseroles brilliant ideas, but that line is a little fuzzy.)

I even lightened up the dish a little by reducing the butter and cream. Not because I like to watch my figure, only so I could eat more of these noodles and feel a little better about squeezing my thighs into my skinny jeans in a few days. But if your jeans have a little wiggle room, feel free to add another 1/2 cup of cream to your casserole.

As for kid friendliness, my 3 year old actually ate this casserole. He picked out the mushrooms, ("Here, Daddy, you like these!") but polished off his entire serving with no complaints or nags! Wahooo! My husband happily called this "cheesy and creamy" and it reminded me of Alfredo Pasta, which should be renamed "The Holy Comfort Food." Amen. 

Turkey Tetrazzini
recipe adapted from The I Hate to Cook Cookbook
Serves 6

1/2 pound spaghetti
1/4 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
4 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup flour
2 cups chicken or turkey broth (I used homemade)
1/2 cup light cream
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon dried parsley (optional)
2 cups diced turkey (I used chicken)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Cook the spaghetti according to package directions. Spray a saute pan with nonstick spray, and saute the mushrooms until lightly browned. Set aside the mushrooms and cooked spaghetti in a large bowl.

In the saute pan, melt the butter over medium heat, sprinkle the flour over the butter and whisk until combined. Cook, whisking constantly, for 1-2 minutes to cook the "roux." Add the broth a little at a time, whisking to combine, until the sauce is smooth and thick. Move the pan off the heat and add the cream, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if necessary.

In the large bowl that has the spaghetti and mushrooms, add the diced turkey and dried parsley, then pour over the cream sauce. Stir to combine, then pour into a greased casserole dish. (This is where I stashed it in the frig to wait until dinnertime)

Top with the Parmesan, and bake, uncovered at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

I'm sharing this recipe at These Chicks Cooked Link Party!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Pita Chips

I went to a lunch playgroup a few weeks ago (I brought Deviled Eggs to share) and someone had brought hummus and pita chips. I was in love with the pita chips. So much that while the kiddos played the backyard, I hung back in the kitchen "helping" clean up...but I actually just stuffed pita chips in my mouth while haphazardly throwing away empty juice boxes. At least I looked busy.

After I checked out this cookbook from the library, and saw the supposedly easy looking recipe for Pita Chips, I put pitas on my grocery list. Once I finally made my grocery run, these were whipped up that afternoon. I made a small recipe (one pita total) as a trial run in my toaster oven, which made just enough for me to inhale them as an afternoon snack. My 3 year old had two chips total, but I seriously devoured them all myself. Sans dip. Straight up.

Seasoned Pita Chips
recipe adapted from "If It Makes You Healthy" by Sheryl Crow and Chuck White

3 whole wheat pita rounds, cut into 6 segments (like a pizza)
1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350°. Lightly oil two large baking sheets.

Separate the top of each pita from the bottom, so that each is divided into 2 halves. Transfer the halves to a large mixing bowl and sprinkle with the olive oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Toss well but gently so that each pita triangle is well coated.

Lay the pita triangles on the baking sheets in a single layer. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.

Let the pita chips cool on the baking sheets to room temperature. Use immediately or store in a sealed plastic bag or large lidded container for up to one week.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Huevos Rancheros Cups

One Saturday I ended up watching a lot of Food Network shows I had saved up in my DVR. Do you know what that means? Lots of food cravings (Bacon! Ooooo look at that fried chicken! Why don't we eat more heirloom tomatoes?) and a stack of new recipes to try. By the end of the day, I had printed off 5 new recipes for my "To Try" folder and was already plotting Sunday morning breakfast.

Mexican is always a hit in our house, and black beans for breakfast are a hit for the grownups. Runny yolks are my thing, so I was already planning to "overcook" a few for the rest of the family by pulling two out for myself The individual servings were fun, and would work for a brunch or "fancy" breakfast.

My husband and I really enjoyed these. My 3 year old was appalled. Life goes on.

I am sharing this recipe at The Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap.

Huevos Rancheros Cups
recipe adapted from $10 Dollar Dinners
Makes 8 egg "cups"

8 (5-inch) tortillas (flour or corn - I used corn)
3 tablespoons butter, melted
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup salsa (1 tablespoon for each cup)
3/4 cup cooked black beans (2 tablespoon for each cup)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 eggs (1 for each cup)
1/2 cup shredded pepper jack cheese (1 tablespoon for each cup)
For serving:
1/2 cup salsa
1/2 cup sour cream

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Brush both sides of the tortillas lightly with the melted butter and sprinkle with salt. Press the tortillas into the muffin tin, creating little tortilla cups.
Fill cups with 1 tablespoon salsa each, then 2 tablespoons of black beans. Sprinkle each cup with salt and pepper. Crack an egg into each of the eight cups. Bake until barely set, about 8 minutes. Top with cheese, cover with aluminum foil, and then bake for 6 to 7 minutes more.
 To serve, spoon the sour cream and remaining salsa on top of the eggs.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

While the recipe I followed was for "Big and Chewy" I went for "Smallish but Still Chewy"cookies. Still tasty and an interesting oatmeal cookie without cinnamon: I didn't realize how much leaving out the cinnamon would change the taste (in a good way!), but not a cookie crumb was left in our house.

I'm sharing this recipe at These Chicks Cooked Link Party.

Big and Chewy Oatmeal Cookies
from America's Test Kitchen Cookbook

Makes about 18 large cookies

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
16 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups raisins

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk flour, salt, baking powder, and nutmeg together in a medium bowl; set aside.
2. In a standing mixer, beat the butter and sugars at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until combined, about 30 seconds.
3. Decrease the speed to low and slowly add the dry ingredients until combined, about 30 seconds. Mix in the oats and raising until just incorporated.
4. Spoon out the dough into a generous 2 tablespoons, and roll the dough into balls about 2 inches in diameter. Place the dough on baking sheets prepared with parchment paper, spacing them about 2 inches apart.
5. Bake, switching and rotating the sheets halfway through the baking time, until the cookies turn golden brown around the edges, 22 to 25 minutes.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Taco Lentils

Mexican food in any form is a hit at our house, so adding more meatless dishes in our South-of-the-border nights would be an easy transition for us.

I originally had planned to make regular ground beef taco meat, then add cooked lentils to stretch the meat, but I found myself without any beef in the frig. So why not go full monty - straight for just lentils?

Surprisingly, this went over well. It tasted like a compromise between ground beef for texture and pinto beans for flavor. I froze the remaining half of the beans for another night!

Taco Lentils 
Makes approx 4 cups lentils

16 oz dried lentils, picked through and rinsed in cold water
4 cups water
3 tablespoons taco seasoning (approx 1 packet dry taco seasoning)

Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan, add taco seasoning. Stir in dried lentils, return to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes. Taste them for seasoning and texture. If lentils are too firm, continue cooking at 5 minutes intervals until lentils are the correct texture. Drain, if desired.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Cinnamon Rolls

This is my classic cinnamon roll recipe: I use it for holidays, when family is visiting, or any special breakfast. I almost always have everything on hand to whip up if the mood strikes, and have found that people are genuinely wowed by homemade cinnamon rolls

I don't always make the frosting recipe - most of the time I save all the effort for just the rolls and lazily stir up some Powdered Sugar Glaze (which sounds a lot harder than it is) and call it good. In my experience, when there is fresh cinnamon rolls coming from the oven, people are not so picky about frosting options.

This recipe always freezes well, with a lot of options. I have frozen the dough "pucks" and also completely baked pans of the rolls, and both work well. I let the "pucks" thaw overnight in the frig in a greased baking pan, then bake them off in the morning. Also I gave a set of frozen roll "pucks"with instructions for how to prepare as a Thank You gift, and they were raved over!

I'm sharing this over at The Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap.
Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls

from The Best of Top Secret Recipes 
Serves: 12
 (I make 16-18)


1 (1/4 ounces) package active dry yeast

1 cup warm milk 105 to 110 degrees F
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup margarine or butter, melted

1 teaspoon table salt
2 eggs

4 cups flour


1 cup packed brown sugar

2 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon

1/3 cup margarine softened

8 tablespoons margarine softened (1 stick)
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

2 ounces cream cheese

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon salt

1. For the rolls, dissolve the yeast in the warm water in a large bowl.

2. Mix together the sugar, margarine, salt, and eggs. Add flour and mix well.

3. Knead the dough into a large ball, using your hands dusted lightly with flour. Put in a bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place about 1hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.

4. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface. roll the dough flat until it is approximately 21 inches long and 16 inches wide. It should be about 1/4 inch thick.

5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees

6. For the filling, combine the brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Spread the softened margarine evenly over the surface of the dough, and then sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar evenly over the surface.

7. Working carefully from the top (a 21 inch side), roll the dough down to the bottom edge.

8. Cut the rolled dough into 1 3/4-inch slices and place 6 at a time, evenly spaced, in a lightly greased baking pan. Let the rolls rise again until double in size, (about 30 minutes). Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until light brown on top.

9. While the rolls back, combine the icing ingredients. Beat well with an electric mixer until fluffy.

10. When the rolls come out of the oven, coat each generously with icing.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Black Bean Burgers

In another effort to mix up the dinnertime shuffle, I came across this recipe in my latest flip-through of my cookbooks. I usually have most of the ingredients on hand, and a can of black beans is a super cheap main dish protein.

After whizzing the beans through the food processor and combining all the ingredients, my burger mixture was pretty wet and gloppy so the act of "shaping" the burgers turned into more of dropping cowpies onto my electric skillet. (Sorry for the visual - I swear these are really good!)

I ended up using a can of "Black Beans in a Seasoned Sauce" instead of just "Black Beans" so I'm sure this changed the moisture content, but the seasoning portion really amped up the flavor, and I'll continue using the beans in the sauce next time.

This was a bit of a surprise hit! My husband and I were pretty surprised that they were more than edible, (we must have pretty low expectations of new recipes!) that we would be happy to have them almost weekly! I had two on buns for dinner, then one the next morning for breakfast with a fried egg on top.

Black Bean Burgers
recipe from Betty Crocker Cookbook

1 can (15 oz) black beans, undrained
1 can (4 oz) chopped green chilies, drained
1 cup plain dry bread crumbs
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 large egg, beaten
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Place beans in food processor. Process until slightly mashed; remove from food processor. Mix beans, chilies, bread crumbs, chili powder and egg. Shape mixture into 6 patties, each about 1/2 inch think. Coat each patty with cornmeal.
Heat oil in 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Cook patties in oil 5 to 10 minutes, turning once, until crisp and thoroughly cooked on both sides.
Serve on buns with mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles or whatever you top your burgers with!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Biscuits and Sausage Gravy

OK, this is not normal breakfast food at our house. I make this max twice a year - mostly for the health factor, but also because it's alot of work for a normal breakfast. But it's soooooo it's worth it!

Baking Powder Biscuits
from Betty Crocker Cookbook

Makes: 12 biscuits

2 cups all purpose flour *
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 cup butter or shortening
3/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and onion powder in a medium bowl. Cut in butter/shortening using pastry blender or crisscrossing 2 knives, until mixture looks like fine crumbs.
Stir in milk until dough leaves side of bowl (dough will be soft and sticky). Place dough on lightly floured surface. Knead lightly 10 times. Roll or pat 1/2 inch thick. Cut with floured 2 to 2 1/4 inch round cutter.

Place on ungreased cookie sheet about 1 inch apart for crusty sides, touching for soft sides. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. immediately remove from cookie sheet. Serve warm. *If using self-rising flour, omit baking powder and salt

Sausage Gravy
recipe adapted from The Pioneer Woman

1/2 pound pork sausage
1/4 sausage drippings (or bacon grease or butter to make 1/4 cup)
1/3 cup flour
2 cups milk
Salt and pepper

Brown the sausage in a large skillet. Drain the grease, reserving 1/4 cup of the drippings, returning the drippings to the pan and allow the grease to heat up. Sprinkle flour evenly over the grease and whisk, creating a brown paste (roux). While whisking, allow the paste to brown for a few minutes. Whisking constantly, pour in the milk and combine.

Let the gravy come to a slow boil and generously season with salt and pepper, tasting the gravy to make sure it is salted enough. Return the browned sausage back into gravy, and warm the sausage back up. Serve over opened biscuits.

I'm sharing this at The Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


These are not typical summer food fare, but when the motivation strikes, run with it! I saw this recipe in the latest issue of the The Food Network Magazine and made them the next night. My husband used to be a big fan of Long John Silver's, and I think these dough balls were the only thing that impressed me when he took me there in college.
We ate these with Pan Fried Tilipia and it felt very Lent-ish. I think I ate half the batch myself that night, and the ones that I reheated in the toaster oven the next day for lunch were just as good!

Almost Famous Hushpuppies
from Food Network Magazine, July/August 2011

1/3 cup minced onion
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 large egg
1 cup whole milk
Vegetable oil, for frying

Combine the onion, flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, sugar and onion powder in a bowl. Whisk the egg and milk in another bowl. Whisk the egg mixture into the flour mixture until smooth. Cover and chill for 30 minutes.
Heat 2 inches of vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat until a deep fry thermometer registers 350 degrees. Working in batches, carefully drop heaping tablespoonfuls of batter into the hot oil. Fry, stirring occasionally until golden, about 8 minutes per batch (return the oil to 350 degrees between batches). Transfer to a paper towel-lined baking sheet using a slotted spoon. Sprinkle with salt. Let rest a few minutes before serving.