Thursday, June 6, 2013

Baked Lemon Pasta

I have been seeing lots of recipes for variations on lemon pasta.  Some have shrimp or chicken added, while others have spring veggies.  I thought I'd try out a basic version.  My kids love lemons and pasta so I thought that they'd enjoy this.  This was simple enough to put together.  The kids enjoyed it.  I'm not the biggest fan of citrus so this wasn't my favorite.  But I was happy that they enjoyed it! I think adding some grilled chicken would be a great addition.

Baked Lemon Pasta
recipe from The Pioneer Woman

1 pound Thin Spaghetti
4 Tablespoons Salted Butter
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 cloves Garlic, Minced
1 whole Lemon, Juiced And Zested
2 cups Sour Cream
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt, Or More To Taste
Plenty Of Grated Parmesan Cheese
Extra Lemon Juice

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook spaghetti according to package.

In a skillet, melt butter with olive oil over LOW HEAT. When butter is melted, add minced garlic. Squeeze lemon juice into the pan. Turn off heat.

Add sour cream and stir mixture together. Add lemon zest and salt to taste.  Pour mixture over drained spaghetti and stir together, then pour spaghetti into an oven safe dish.

Bake, covered, for 15 minutes. Then remove foil and bake for an additional 7 to 10 minutes. (Don’t bake too long or the pasta will dry out.)

When you remove it from the oven, squeeze a little more lemon juice over the top. Top generously with Parmesan cheese, then chopped parsley. Give it a final squeeze of lemon juice at the end.
  Family Rating: 1 thumb up.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Spinach Pesto and Sausage Strata

I enjoy pesto but don't make or eat it very often.  I saw this recipe called for jarred pesto and knew jarred would be much easier than making my own.  I wasn't sure if the kids had ever tried pesto before.  Let's just say that they're not fans of the stuff!  Please note, there's a "Mommy & Daddy Rating" below, rather than a "Family Rating!" This dish was tasty.  The pesto added a nice flavor with the sausage, bread, and cheeses.  However, this dish does have a decent amount of prep work involved AND 45 minutes of cooking.  Definitely not a quick and easy meal.  Plus, when I have to use the food processor, mixing bowls, and fry much as a fan I am of cooking, I'm not really a fan of doing dishes.  My husband will tell me to "leave the dishes, I'll do them when I get home."  But really, after working all day I'm NOT going to have him wash all of the dishes.  Plus, I'm a clean as you cook type of person.  So while this dish was cooking, the pots and pans got washed.  Needless to say, if you like pesto AND you have some time, definitely give this recipe a try. It was tasty!  I'm sure homemade peso would taste even better!  However, I do not recommend this meal if you are short on time!

Spinach Pesto and Sausage Strata
recipe adapted from Everyday with Rachael Ray, April 2013

6 ounces fresh spinach (6 cups packed)
1/3cup jarred pesto
Salt and pepper
3 eggs
2 cups half-and-half
1/2cup grated parmesan
3/4cup sliced scallions
9 ounces italian sausage, casings removed
1 10 ounce loaf Italian bread, sliced 1/2-inch thick
2/3 cup ricotta
2 cups grated swiss cheese

1.Preheat the oven to 350 degrees . In a food processor, puree 2 cups spinach with the pesto; season with salt and pepper.

2.In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, half-and-half, parmesan cheese, and scallions. Season with salt and pepper.

3.In a nonstick skillet, cook the sausage over medium-high heat, breaking it up, until cooked, about 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl. Reduce heat to medium and cook the remaining spinach until wilted, about 1 minute; chop.

4.Using half of the ingredients: Arrange bread in a 7-by-11-inch baking dish, spread on pesto, then ricotta; pour in egg mixture and top with spinach, sausage and swiss. Repeat. Let stand for 10 minutes, pressing to soak.

5.Bake the strata until puffed and browned, about 45 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Mommy & Daddy Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up.

Monday, June 3, 2013

SRC Reveal: Root Beer Chicken with BBQ Sauce

It's reveal day for Group A of The Secret Recipe Club.  This month I was assigned the blog Everyday Mom.  Kim is an avid baker and has lots of tasty looking dessert recipes on her blog!  I ended up opting for a savory choice though.  With the weather turning warmer I thought that this Root Beer Chicken looked like a perfect weekend dinner.  This means that my husband, "The Weekend Chef" helped prepare and cook this.  We've cooked chicken like this before but used a beer can.  This is the "non-alcoholic" version! The chicken rub is tasty and it is cooked on the grill.  The sauce was different with an interesting flavor from the root beer, molasses, and orange and lemon juice.  We all enjoyed this dish.  The chicken turned out moist and my kids are big "sauce" lovers.  So they enjoyed this a lot.

Root Beer Chicken with BBQ Sauce

recipe from Everyday Mom

1 whole chicken
Chicken Seasoning (see below)
1 can root beer
1 cup ketchup
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup orange juice
3 Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. molasses
½ tsp. ginger powder
½ tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. onion powder

Prepare grill, for indirect cooking.

Wash and pat dry chicken. Generously sprinkle entire chicken with chicken seasoning. Pour out and reserve, 1 cup of root beer. Place chicken on top of open can, so chicken is standing upright. Place chicken on back half of grill, use the legs and can as a tripod to help the chicken stand. Close cover and let chicken cook for at least an hour or until thermometer, placed in thickest part, reads 160°-165°. Remove from heat, let chicken rest for 10 minutes, slice and serve.

While the chicken cooks, combine the 1 cup of root beer set aside and remaining ingredients in a small saucepan. Place over medium high heat, stirring continuously bring to a boil. Once mixture has reached a boil reduce temperature to medium low and let simmer for about 20 minutes. Let cool slightly then serve with roasted chicken.

Chicken Seasoning
(slightly adapted)

2 Tbsp. paprika
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. Lemon Pepper (can use plain pepper and lemon zest)
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cayenne pepper

Place all ingredients in small bowl, stir until combined.

Family Rating: 1 thumb up.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Corn and Spring Onion Pancakes

This week's theme at I Heart Cooking Clubs  is "Pattycake, Pattycake...."  Participants were asked to make a Yota Ottolenghi recipe that was a fritter, latke, vegetable pancake, patty, burger, fishcake, etc.  I've already made Turkey & Zucchini Burgers, Sweet Potato Cakes, and Leek Fritters for previous themes.  I ended up searching online and found this recipe for a corn pancake.  It sounded very promising and not too difficult.  I halved the recipe, since I wasn't sure that the kids would like it.  I didn't end up smoking/grilling one of the cobs like the original recipe called for.  I ended up forgetting midway through that I was halving the recipe and ended up putting the one egg into the food processor.  I should have only put the yolk in and then whipped the white separately to fold in later.  I ended up with dense pancakes and unfortunately, I wasn't really impressed with the flavor.  Using the jalapeno didn't make the pancakes too spicy so the kids tried them.  But they too didn't like them very much.  Overall, this just wasn't one of our favorite Ottolenghi recipes.

Corn and Spring Onion Pancakes
recipe adapted from The Guardian, October 12, 2012

3 corn cobs
3 spring onions, finely chopped
1 jalapeno pepper
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1tsp soft brown sugar
1 egg
Salt and pepper
1 cup flour
1 limes, cut into wedges

With a sharp knife, separate the kernels from two corn cobs and put them in the bowl of a food processor. Add half the spring onion, the jalapeno, cumin, sugar, one egg, three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt and half a teaspoon of pepper, blitz for 45 seconds until fairly smooth, then transfer to a bowl. Separate the last egg and add the yolk to the mix, followed by the flour and remaining spring onion.

Heat a large frying pan and add butter to coat. Add 1/4 cup of batter and fry on medium heat for two minutes a side until golden brown. Remove and keep warm while you cook the rest, adding butter as necessary. Serve warm with the lime wedges.

Family Rating: So-so.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Strawberry Cream Bread

I've been seeing strawberries on sale a lot recently at the grocery store.  My family never tires of eating them fresh out of the container, but I'm always on the lookout for other ways to use them.  I thought this recipe was interesting since I had never seen or thought of using strawberries in a bread.  This was really easy to make and was really tasty.  The original recipe at One Perfect Bite also includes a recipe for a Strawberry Cream Cheese Spread.  However, we already had an open strawberry cream cheese that I wanted to use up.  The cream cheese on the bread was an awesome idea!  This was a great breakfast for the kids served with some yogurt and fruit.

Strawberry Cream Bread
recipe from One Perfect Bite

Yield: 1 loaf

1/3 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
3 tablespoons sour cream
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup strawberries, cut in pieces

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan and set aside.

2) Place butter and sugar in a large bowl and beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs and mix to blend. Stir in sour cream, blending well.

3) Add flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix to incorporate. Do not over beat.

4) Stir strawberry pieces into batter. Spread in prepared loaf pan. Let mixture sit in pan for 20 minutes prior to baking. Bake for 50 – 55 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire cooling rack. Let sit for 10 minutes before before before removing from pan. Slice and serve.

Family Rating: 2 thumbs up.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Roasted Red Pepper and Italian Sausage Frittata

I had a bunch of eggs in the fridge and was looking for a recipe to use some of them up.  I recently rediscovered the blog Closet Cooking and was busy bookmarking tons of recipes.  This one was perfect since I  already had sausage in the freezer.  Of course, I roasted my own red pepper for this recipe.  You do NOT need to roast your own pepper.  Since the pepper is mixed in with the a lot of other ingredients I felt that the effort was unnecessary.  However, this dish is totally worth making!  It's really tasty and besides me roasting the pepper, was quick and easy too!  We all enjoyed this. 

Roasted Red Pepper and Italian Sausage Frittata
recipe from Closet Cooking

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 pound Italian sausage, casings removed
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
6 large eggs
1/2 cup parmigiano reggiano, grated
1 large roasted red pepper, diced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup marinara sauce
1 cup mozzarella, grated
1 handful parsley, chopped, optional

1.Heat the oil in an oven proof pan over medium heat.

2.Add the sausage and cook until it has just browned all over, breaking it apart as you go.

3.Add the onion and saute until tender, about 5-7 minutes.

4.Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about a minute.

5.Mix the eggs, parmigiano reggiano, roasted red pepper, sausage, onions, garlic, salt and pepper in a large bowl.

6.Pour the egg mixture into the pan and cook until the eggs are almost set, about 10-15 minutes.

7.Transfer the pan into a preheated 400F oven and let the eggs finish cooking, about 10 minutes.

8.Pour the marinara sauce over the frittata, sprinkle on the cheese and broil until the cheese has melted, about 2-4 minutes.

9.Serve immediately, garnished with chopped parsley.

Family Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Giada's Macaroni and Cheese

This week is the May Potluck at I Heart Cooking Clubs.  Participants can choose any of the former featured chefs and cook any of his or her recipes.  Since Ottolenghi is the first chef that I'm cooking with, I had a lot of chefs to choose from.  In the April Potluck I made a Jamie Oliver recipe.  This month I decided to cook one of Giada De Laurentiis' recipes.  I'm not sure that I've ever cooked any of her dishes before, though I have watched many of her shows on the foodnetwork.  I had some leftover ham in the freezer and I knew I couldn't go wrong with mac and cheese.  My kids LOVE the boxed mac and cheese.  I have tried many different homemade versions of the dish since they love it so much.  But I always get the same response, "I like the boxed one better!"  This version of mac and cheese has no cheddar.  So it's really different than what my kids are used to. Although they ate it and my daughter requested some for lunch the next day, the boxed stuff still rules for them.  This dish is really cheesy.  I substituted swiss cheese for fontina, added ham, which was optional in the original recipe, and left out the Italian parsley. Definitely not cooking "light" with this one.  But with the recent rainy and chilly weather we've been having it was actually quite the comfort food.

Macaroni and Cheese
Recipe slightly adapted from, courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis

Butter, for greasing dish
12 ounces wide egg noodles
2 cups heavy cream
2 1/2 cups milk
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups grated Swiss
3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan
3/4 cup grated mozzarella
4 ounces cooked ham, diced
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Butter a 13 by 9-inch glass baking dish and set aside. Cook the noodles in a large pot of boiling salted water, about 5 minutes. Drain well, but do not rinse.

Whisk the cream, milk, flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper in large bowl to blend. Stir in 1 cup Swiss, 1/2 cup Parmesan, 1/2 cup mozzarella, and ham. Add the noodles and toss to coat. Transfer the noodle mixture to the prepared baking dish. Toss the remaining 1 cup Swiss, 1/4 cup Parmesan, and 1/4 cup mozzarella in a small bowl to blend. Sprinkle the cheese mixture over the noodle mixture. Bake until the sauce bubbles and the cheese melts and begins to brown on top, about 20 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Family Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up.

Banana Bread Waffles

I used to look forward to Fridays.  The family could relax after a long, busy week.  Then my daughter started soccer. Her practice is Fridays at 5:30 at a field that's about a twenty minute drive from the house.  So now Friday afternoons have turned into a mad rush.  I get my daughter off the bus at 4 and we rush to get her unpacked from school and changed into shorts and a t-shirt.  She's starving by the time she gets home from school and by the time we get home from practice it's 7 PM.  So I've recently started giving the kids dinner at around 4:30 and a snack when we get home.  Or I give them a substantial snack (bagel with butter, turkey or ham sandwich and fruit) before practice and feed them dinner afterwards.  I made these waffles as a breakfast for dinner before soccer.  I served them with sausage and fruit.  The kids loved them.  My son said he could "eat these for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!" 

Banana Bread Waffles
recipe from i heart eating


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 ½ cups low-fat buttermilk
1 T. vanilla extract
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2-3 large bananas)
2 T. butter, melted

1.In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg; set aside.

2.In a large bowl, stir together buttermilk, vanilla, bananas, and melted butter.

3.Add flour mixture to buttermilk mixture, and stir until just combined.

4.Spray waffle iron with nonstick cooking spray and add batter according to waffle iron’s directions.
5.Cook waffles according to your waffle iron’s directions.

Family Rating: 2 thumbs up.

This post shared at:
Sweet & Savory Saturday @ Dessert Now Dinner Later
Show and Tel Saturday @ Be Different Act Normal

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Honey Ginger Glazed Chicken

I found some boneless chicken thighs on sale at the grocery store and picked up a few packs.  I stuck them in the freezer, until I could find a recipe to use them in. Then I realized that my friend, and fellow blogger, Ashley (go check out her blog Big Flavors from a Tiny Kitchen) from my Supper Club made this chicken dish for our Asian themed dinner back in March using boneless chicken thighs.  Everyone had enjoyed it so I thought I'd make it for the family.  This dish is really quick and easy to make.  It is also really flavorful!  Even better, the kids loved it too!  I served this with rice and broccoli to complete the meal.  My chicken ended up with more of a sauce than a glaze, as seen in this pic, but it was still really tasty.  We even drizzled it over our rice!

Honey Ginger Glazed Chicken
recipe from Big Flavors from a Tiny Kitchen, via, courtesy of Sue Lau

Total Time: 25 mins
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 15 mins
Servings: 4

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, cut into wedges
1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2 inch pieces
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon grated ginger
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder
fresh cilantro stem (for garnish)

1. Heat oil in the wok.

2. Add onion and stir-fry until golden.

3. Add chicken and stir-fry until browned.

4. Add the garlic, ginger, honey, fish sauce, soy sauce, and five-spice powder.

5. Toss to combine.

6. Cook until chicken is nicely glazed and heated through.

7. Place on serving platter and garnish with cilantro sprigs.

Family Rating: 2 thumbs up!

This post is shared at:
Fabulous Friday @ Real Housemoms
Foodie Friday @ Simple Living and Eating
Sweet & Savory Saturdays @ Dessert Now, Dinner Later
Show andTell Saturday @ Be Different Act Normal

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Busy Mom Cafe is on Pinterest!

Hi readers!  I have FINALLY hopped aboard the "pinterest" train and have found a new addiction!  You can find some of my posts from the blog there along with some boards of recipes that I've been pinning (future posts?!).    Come check me out and leave a comment so I can be sure to follow you!  If the button below and/or on the side bar does not work you can find me

Follow Me on Pinterest


Whole Chicken in a Slow Cooker

I always have difficulty with recipes that call for already "cooked" chicken.  I've had to cook chicken breasts before starting a recipe....not fun.  I've tried cooking a batch of chicken breasts in the slow cooker at one time and then shredding the chicken, which isn't too bad.  But then I found this recipe.  At first my husband and I were kind of skeptical.  However, if you want a whole chicken for dinner on a weeknight, this is totally the way to go.  Since first finding this recipe a few weeks ago, we've actually made it again.  The spice rub gives the chicken good flavor and the slow cooker keeps it moist.  Broiling it at the end crisps the skin up nicely.  We actually made this for a weekend dinner, and then I was able to  use the leftover chicken for another recipe.  This is definitely our go to recipe now for a quick and easy chicken dinner....and it gives us leftover chicken to use in another recipe later in the week!

Whole Chicken in a Slow Cooker
recipe adapted from The Little Kitchen, originally adapted from


Rub Ingredients
4 tsp salt
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder

3 1/2 to 4 1/2 lbs roasting or fryer chicken
2 garlic cloves

Combine rub ingredients in a small bowl.

Remove chicken from packaging and remove neck and pouch with organs. Discard or reserve for later use in another recipe. Rinse chicken and pat dry with paper towels.

Rub garlic all over outside of the chicken. Put garlic inside the chicken. Rub the rub all over the outside and inside the chicken. Place chicken in slow cooker and cover. Cook chicken on low for 4-8 hours. Cook until the internal temperature of the leg is at 160 degrees F or use a pop-up thermometer as the original recipe calls for (cooking time will vary depending on the size of the chicken).

Remove chicken and place in a 9x13 glass baking dish. Place baking dish in the oven under the broiler for about 4-5 minutes. Allow chicken to rest after removing it from the broiler for 5-10 minutes.

Family Rating: 2 thumbs up!

This post is shared at:
Work it Wednesday @ High Heels & Grills
Back For Seconds Social Link Party @ Back for Seconds
Fabulous Friday @ Real Housemoms
Foodie Friday@ Simple Living and Eating

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Italian Sausage Alfredo

I know the weather is getting warmer and you're thinking lighter, healthier dishes.  I made this dish back in the beginning of April when the weather was still cool, and have been meaning to post it.  This dish is the perfect comfort food and it was super tasty!  So pin this, bookmark it, save it, for a day when you want something warm and comforting.  Now, I ended up making the sweet potato gnocchi from scratch.  However, for a quick and easy weeknight dinner I highly recommend buying the gnocchi (I've never seen frozen sweet potato gnocchi, so regular gnocchi would be just fine too!).  Then all you need to do is make the sauce.  This dish has lots of flavors and like I said, is really tasty!  The kids were able to pick out the tomatoes and mushrooms but did enjoy the gnocchi, sausage, and sauce.  I will definitely be making this again come the fall....but not the homemade gnocchi!

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Italian Sausage Alfredo
recipe from Lauren's Latest

for the Sweet Potato Gnocchi:
1 cup cooked pureed sweet potato
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter

for the Italian Sausage Alfredo:
1 lb. Italian Sausage
1 cup diced onion
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 cups chopped mushrooms
2 cups lightly packed spinach, chopped
1-15 oz. jar alfredo or four cheese rosa sauce
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
salt & pepper, to taste
fresh diced tomatoes
parmesan cheese
fresh basil

For the sweet potato gnocchi- In a large bowl, stir pureed sweet potato, egg and salt together until combined. Slowly incorporate flour by hand (do not use a stand mixer) until just combined. Divide dough into 8 equal pieces. Flour each piece liberally as well as a clean work surface. Roll each piece into a long rope about 12 inches for fatter gnocchi or 16 inches for thinner gnocchi. Cut rope of dough into gnocchi pieces about 1/2 inch per piece. Line a baking sheet with wax paper and place gnocchi onto prepared pan. Dust with more flour to prevent sticking. Repeat with remaining dough.

To cook, bring large pot of very salty water to rolling boil. Drop gnocchi into hot water working in small batches. Stir pasta around to prevent sticking to the bottom of the pot or each other. Cook about 3 minutes or until gnocchi floats to the top. Remove with a slotted spoon into a large bowl and stir in 1/2 tablespoon butter to coat hot gnocchi. Repeat until all is cooked. Set aside.

To make the Italian Sausage Alfredo, heat a large heavy bottom skillet over medium high heat. Break italian sausage into hot pan and stir continuously to break apart and cook thoroughly. Remove sausage from pan into a paper towel lined bowl. Set aside. Pan should still have some sausage drippings left in the bottom. Saute onion in pan until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in garlic, mushrooms and spinach. Cook another 3 minutes to wilt spinach and allow garlic to get fragrant. Reduce heat to medium low and stir in jar of pasta sauce. Pour heavy cream into empty jar of pasta sauce, replace lid and shake to ‘clean it out’. Pour cream into pan. Stir in remaining seasonings and cooked sausage. Cook 10 minutes. Serve sauce hot over top sweet potato gnocchi or plain pasta and top with fresh tomatoes, fresh basil and parmesan cheese.

Family Rating: 2 thumbs up.

This post is shared at:
Mix it Up Monday @ Flour Me with Love
Manic Monday Party @ Bobbi's Kozy Kitchen
Melt in Your Mouth Monday @ Make Ahead Meals for Busy Moms
Recipe Sharing Monday @ Jam Hands

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Ottolenghi's Soba Noodles with Eggplant and Mango

This week's theme at I Heart Cooking Clubs is "Use Your Noodle."  Since I love pasta this theme was right up my alley.  I saw this recipe and knew it was the one that I would make.  Noodles, eggplant, and mango.  All ingredients that I love.  Unfortunately, I couldn't find soba noodles at the local grocery store but already had a package of udon noodles in the house so I used those.  I also substituted a whole jalapeno pepper in place of the red chile pepper.  My grocery store doesn't carry those and I've found that Ottolenghi uses them a lot in his recipes!  This is a perfect spring or summer meal.  It's served room temperature and does require the sauce being premade and the eggplant browned.  But it's light and refreshing with a hint of spice.  I didn't even attempt to try to get the kids to eat this.  It had a little kick to it plus they don't like eggplant . You have to like eggplant to really enjoy this dish!  My adapted recipe is below.  For the original recipe check out Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London's Ottolenghi by Yotam Ottolenghi.

Soba Noodles with Eggplant and Mango
Recipe adapted from Plenty:  Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London's Ottolenghi by Yotam Ottolenghi

Serves: 6

1/2 cup rice vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
grated zest and juice of 1 lime
1 cup vegetable oil
1 eggplant, cut into 3/4-inch dice
12 ounces udon noodles
1 large ripe mango, cut into 3/8-inch dice
2 1/2 cups cilantro leaves, chopped
1/2 red onion, very thinly sliced

In a small saucepan gently warm the vinegar, sugar and salt for up to 1 minute, just until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and add the garlic, jalapeno, and sesame oil. Allow to cool, then add the lime zest and juice.

Heat up the vegetable oil in a large pan and shallow-fry the eggplant in three or four batches. Once golden brown remove to a colander, sprinkle liberally with salt and leave there to drain.

Cook the noodles in plenty of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally. They should take 5 to 8 minutes to become tender but still al dente. Drain and rise well under running cold water. Shake off as much of the excess water as possible, then leave to dry on a dish towel.

In a mixing bowl toss the noodles with the dressing, mango, eggplant, half of the cilantro and the onion. You can now leave this aside for 1 to 2 hours. When ready to serve add the rest of the cilantro and mix well, then pile on a plate or in a bowl.

Mommy & Daddy Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Overnight Ham and Cheese Breakfast Enchiladas

This was the other recipe that I ended up using the leftover ham for.  I know I've mentioned plenty of times how breakfast for dinner is always a hit in my house.  Since I get to sleep in on the weekends I don't end up making these types of dishes for breakfast. Since the kids are such great breakfast eaters I try to serve a breakfast for dinner type meal every week or two.  The nice thing about these enchiladas is that they are made the night before.  So when you're ready to eat you just stick the covered dish in the oven for 30-40 minutes.  These enchiladas were really tasty and a dish that we all enjoyed.  I served this with some fresh fruit to round out the meal.  

Overnight Ham and Cheese Breakfast Enchiladas
recipe from The Girl Who Ate Everything  adapted from Look Who's Cooking Now

Ingredients: 2 cups cubed and cooked ham
1/2 cup chopped green onions
2 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
10 flour tortillas (6-8 inches)
1 1/4 cup half-and-half
4 whole eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon flour
salsa, sour cream, and additional green onions for serving

1.In a medium bowl stir together ham, green onions and 2 cups of cheese (save the remaining 1/2 cup for later). Spray a 9x13 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Use a 1/3-cup measuring cup to scoop out cheese mixture onto a tortilla. Roll up tortilla and place seam side down in the baking dish. Roll up all tortillas and place them into the baking dish with the sides touching.

2.Whisk together half-and-half, eggs, salt, and flour. Pour over tortillas. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

3.In the morning, preheat oven to 350ยบ. Bake covered for 30-40 minutes. Remove foil and sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup of cheese over enchiladas. Bake for 10 more minutes or until tops are golden brown and the egg mixture is set.

4.Serve with salsa, sour cream, and additional green onions.

Family Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up.

This post is shard at:
Tasty Thursdays @ The Mandatory Mooch
Foodtastic Friday @ Not Your Ordinary Recipes
Showcase Your Talent Thursday @ What's Cooking Love?
Tasty Creations Link Party @Michelle's Tasty Creations
Recipe Sharing Monday @ Jam Hands

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Grapefruit Pound Cake

It's time again for the Eating the Alphabet Healthy Recipe Challenge hosted by Brenda from Meal Planning Magic.  This month's letters were G or H and participants had to make a recipe using a fruit, vegetable, grain, or bean that begins with one of those letters.  Last year I ended up cooking with guava, which I had never cooked with before.  This year I went a little tamer with grapefruit.  First because I got a five pound bag of them on sale at the grocery store.  Second, it's a fruit the whole family loves.  And finally, I had ripped this recipe out of an old Cooking Light magazine intending to make it at some point....and that time has come!  The one major change I made to this recipe was that I used a loaf pan instead of the 10-inch tube pan that the original recipe called for.  I don't own one, nor really forsee myself needing one again!  I debated whether or not to make the glaze but in the end went for it.  The grapefruit in this recipe doesn't really stand out too much, but gives the cake and glaze a slight citrus tang.  We all enjoyed it....especially warm, right out of the oven!  Go check out the other bloggers below who have joined the Eating the Alphabet Challenge....or even better, check out the link above and join us next month!

Grapefruit Pound Cake
recipe slightly adapted from Cooking Light, January 2012

Baking spray
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
5/8 teaspoon salt, divided
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
6 tablespoons butter, softened
6 ounces 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
2 large eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons grated grapefruit rind
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
1/2 cup fresh grapefruit juice
 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 325°.

2. Coat a 9x5 inch pan with baking spray. Combine flour, baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, stirring well. Place granulated sugar, butter, and cream cheese in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time. Beat in oil, rind, and vanilla.

3. Add flour mixture and milk alternately to batter, beginning and ending with flour. Spoon batter into pan; bake at 325° for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs clinging. Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 minutes. Invert cake. Cool on rack.

4. Place juice in a saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Cook until reduced to 3 tablespoons (about 4 minutes). Cool slightly. Stir in powdered sugar and remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt. Drizzle over cake.

Family Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Ham & Cheese Lasagna

So what to do with all of the leftover ham from my daughter's party.  I didn't want endless meals of just leftover ham so I went on a search for different ways I could use it.  This was one of the first ones I found that caught my eye.  Although I like lasagna I don't make it very often because it's so time consuming.  I have to warn you that this lasagna does require a little prep work and then 40 minutes of cooking and a 15 minute cooling period.  So NOT a quick and easy dinner.  However, it's really tasty and well worth it if you have the time! I was a bit skeptical of the cottage cheese in the sauce.  You do not end up tasting "cottage cheese" but rather a creamy and tasty sauce. Even the kids enjoyed this (after picking out the mushrooms)!

Ham & Cheese Lasagna
recipe from The Kitchen is My Playground

12 lasagna noodles
1/2 c. chopped onion
2 T. butter
3 T. all-purpose flour
2 c. milk
1 c. cottage cheese
2 c. shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided
2 c. finely chopped fully cooked ham
1 (8 oz.) can mushrooms

Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions; drain and set aside.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat; add chopped onion and cook until tender, about 4 to 5 minutes.

Blend in flour until onions are well coated. Add milk all at once; cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and just beginning to bubble, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Add cottage cheese and 1 cup of the shredded Monterey Jack cheese; stir until melted. Stir in the ham and mushrooms. Remove from the heat.

In a 9x13" baking dish coated with non-stick cooking spray, arrange three lasagna noodles and top with 1/4 of the ham mixture. Repeat to create three more layers of noodles and sauce. Sprinkle the remaining cup of shredded Monterey Jack cheese on top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Remove lasagna from the oven and let it stand for 15 minutes before serving.

Family Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up.

This post is shared at:
Tasty Tuesdays @ 33 Shades of Green
Time to Sparkle Link Party @ The Recipe Critic
Totally Tasty Tuesdays @ Mandy's Recipe Box
Work it Wednesday @ High Heels and Grills

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Chocolate Fudge Brownies with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

My daughter had a difficult time deciding what she wanted for her birthday dessert.  At first she was thinking about cupcakes.  I think cheesecake might have even been mentioned.  But at the last minute she requested brownies with icing.  I found this recipe with the buttercream frosting and decided to go with it.  My daughter actually helped me make these the morning of her party.  She probably ate half of the chocolate mixture (pre-egg) and icing before these were done!  We served these as brownie ice cream sundaes with all the toppings on the side and a fruit platter.  My daughter loved these.  I'm not a huge chocolate lover and I found these to be REALLY chocolatey!  They are very rich and little squares were perfect. 

Chocolate Fudge Brownies with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
recipe from Brown Eyed Baker

Yield: 12 to 16 brownies

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 to 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes


For the Brownies:
¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsalted butter
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup semisweet chocolate chips

For the Frosting:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1¼ cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons chocolate milk powder

1. Make the Brownies: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8-inch-square baking dish and line with parchment paper, letting the excess hang over the edges. Butter the parchment paper; set aside.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

3. Bring about an inch of water to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Place a medium, heatproof bowl on top of the saucepan (do not let it touch the water) and add the butter and unsweetened chocolate. Stir occasionally, until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and smooth. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and whisk in the granulated and brown sugars. Whisk in the egg, the yolk, and the vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture all at once, and fold it into the chocolate mixture with a rubber spatula until combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.

4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely; meanwhile, make the frosting.

5. To Make the Frosting: Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter, cocoa powder, and salt on medium speed for about 3 minutes.

6. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the powdered sugar. Mix on low speed to incorporate the sugar, and while the mixer is running, slowly add the milk and vanilla extract. Gradually increase the mixer speed to medium-high, beating until smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.

7. In a small bowl, mix together the cream and the chocolate milk powder. Reduce the mixer speed to medium, and pour the cream mixture in a slow, steady stream and mix until thoroughly combined. You can add more powdered sugar a tablespoon at a time, if you would like a stiffer frosting.

8. Spread the frosting onto the cooled brownies, and cut into squares. Store brownies in an airtight container, or tightly wrapped, at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Family Rating:  1 1/2 thumbs up.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Turkey & Zucchini Burgers with Green Onion and Cumin

This week's theme at I Heart Cooking Clubs is "A Squash is a Squash, Of Course, Of Course..."  Participants could cook any Ottolenghi recipe using squash.  Here in New York it's springtime, so I didn't want to cook with any of the winter squashes.  I ended up choosing zucchini, since it's one of my favorite squashes.  I saw this recipe in Jerusalem but sadly had to return the cookbook to the library.  Luckily, I found an online version from Recipe Connoisseur that I adapted to suit our tastes.  The original sauce recipe called for ground sumac.  According to Wikipedia, sumac is a reddish-purple powder often used in Middle Eastern cuisine to add a lemony taste to foods.  Obviously, the local grocery store doesn't carry sumac.  There's actually a small Middle Eastern grocery store in the neighborhood but I never made it there.  I also didn't really feel like spending money on a spice that I thought I'd probably never use again.  I thought the sauce tasted fine without.  Overall, these burgers were okay.  They were nice and moist and both kids ate their entire patty.  I served them over couscous, as seen in the pic below. 

Turkey & Zucchini Burgers with Green Onions and Cumin
Recipe adapted from Recipe Connoisseur, via Ottolenghi's Jerusalem

1 lb ground turkey
1 large zucchini, coarsely chopped
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
about 3-4 tbsp olive oil, for searing

For the Sauce:
½ cup sour cream
⅔ cup plain yogurt
2 tsp. grated lemon zest
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1½ tbs olive oil
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp fresh ground pepper

First, make the sour cream sauce by mixing all ingredients in small bowl and placing in the fridge.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl combine all burger ingredients except oil. Mix with your hands and form into desired patty sizes.

Pour enough oil to cover bottom of large frying pan. Heat over medium heat until hot, then sear burgers about 2 minutes per side or until golden brown.

Carefully transfer the seared burgers to a baking sheet and place in oven 7-10 minutes, or until cooked through.    

Family Rating: 1 thumb up.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Weekend Chef: Mustard-Whisky Glazed Ham

This was the main dish we served at my daughter's party.  Both her and my son LOVE ham.  Lucky for me I got this one "free" from Shoprite (after spending a gazillion dollars!) right before Easter and stuck it in the freezer until her party.  My husband was responsible for cooking it since I was busy cooking all of the side dishes.  Because we only have one oven (one day I'll get my dream kitchen with a double oven!) he decided to grill the ham.  Good choice because I had no room in the oven with all of the sides!  The original recipe had cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and allspice in the glaze.  I'm not a huge fan of those spices in savory dishes so my husband ended up adding just a little nutmeg into the sauce.  The glaze created a nice crust on the ham, as seen in the pic below, and added a nice sweetness to the ham.  Both my daughter and son loved this! Of course we ended up with a ton of leftover ham, so more ham recipes will be coming soon!
Mustard-Whisky Glazed Ham
recipe adapted from Serious Eats, courtesy of Joshua Bousel

1 ready-to-eat bone-in ham, around 10 pounds
1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup dijon mustard
2 tablespoons Jack Daniels Whiskey
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Directions:1. Remove ham from packaging, wash, and pat dry with paper towels, allowing it to come to room temperature.

2. Heat grill (we used a Weber charcoal grill).

3.Mix the dark brown sugar through ground allspice into a thick paste in a medium bowl to form the glaze, set aside.

4. Cook ham to desired temperature, about 4-5 hours for a ten-pound ham to reach 120 degrees. Brush on the glaze during the last hour of cooking. Remove from grill, slice, and serve.
  Family Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Fresh Broccoli Salad

This is another side dish that we served at my daughter's family birthday dinner.  I knew that I wanted to make some sort of broccoli salad.  I've seen many variations on this dish and thought it would be a great side for our dinner.  My husband is the one who found this recipe.  However, I did the grocery shopping and actual preparation of it!  This is really easy to make since the only cooking invovled is the frying of the bacon.  Perfect for the summer when you want an easy side for a BBQ that requires little cooking (no oven required!). I was a bit skeptical of the mayo dressing but somehow, with the sugar and vinegar, it works.  This dish was surprisingly tasty (it might even be my favorite of the night) and one of the few dishes that there were no leftovers of.  I will be making this dish again soon!

Fresh Broccoli Salad
recipe slightly adapted from, courtesy of Nora

2 heads fresh broccoli
1/4 red onion, chopped
1/2 pound bacon
1/2 cup craisins
1/2 cup dried blueberries
3/4 cup slivered almonds
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1.Place bacon in a deep skillet and cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Cool and crumble.

2.Cut the broccoli into bite-size pieces and cut the onion into thin bite-size slices. Combine with the bacon, raisins, your favorite nuts and mix well.

3.To prepare the dressing, mix the mayonnaise, sugar and vinegar together until smooth. Stir into the salad, let chill and serve.

Family Rating: 2 thumbs up!

This post is shared at:
Tasty Tuesdays @ 33 Shades of Green
Totally Tasty Tuesdays @ Mandy's Recipe Box
Time to Sparkle Party @ The Recipe Critic
Work it Wednesday @ High Heels and Grills

Monday, May 6, 2013

SRC Reveal: Strawberry Shortcake Pancakes

Secret Recipe Club

It's reveal day for Group A at The Secret Recipe Club.  This month I was assigned the blog Crumb.  Blogger Isabelle proclaims, "I'm a 30-something coffee-chugging, booty-shaking, bargain-shopping, cookbook-collecting, photo-snapping, trucker-swearing, farmers-market-loving self-taught cook with a Boy and two cats to feed."  I looked through Isabelle's recipes and as soon as I saw this one knew it was the one that I was going to make.  We had not had pancakes for dinner in a long time and strawberries were on sale at the grocery store!  But she has so many great looking recipes on her blog that I will be back!  As for these pancakes, the only change to the recipe below that I made was that I only used vanilla extract rather than 1/2 tsp. vanilla and 1/2 tsp. of almond extract.  I never thought of adding strawberries into pancake batter. The kids of course loved these!  Breakfast for dinner is always a hit....but whipped cream too?!! Extra special!  I served these pancakes with sausage and pineapple to complete our dinner!  Super tasty!

Strawberry Shortcake Pancakes
recipe very slightly adapted from Crumb


Strawberry-Yogurt Pancakes:
1 cup flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
Pinch salt
2 eggs
½ cup plain Greek-style yogurt
⅔ cup milk
2 tbsp melted butter (plus more for the griddle)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup finely diced strawberries

Whipped cream
Chopped strawberries
Maple syrup

1.In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

2.In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, yogurt, milk, melted butter and vanilla until combined. Pour into the bowl of dry ingredients, and stir with a whisk until the batter is smooth and lump-free.

3.Heat a large skillet or griddle over medium heat. Grease lightly with butter. When the butter starts to sizzle, drop in ¼ cup portions of batter.

4.Dot the surface of the pancakes with chopped strawberries. Cook for about 2 minutes or until a few bubbles start to form on the top, then gently flip over and continue cooking until underside is golden brown, about 1-2 minutes longer. Transfer the finished pancakes to a baking tray in a warm oven. Repeat this process until the batter is finished, re-greasing the pan as needed.

5.To serve, stack two or three pancakes onto each plate. Garnish each stack with a spoonful of chopped strawberries and a dollop of whipped cream. For those with a sweet tooth, drizzle with a little maple syrup or dust with icing sugar before digging in.

Family Rating: 2 thumbs up.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Yummy Sweet Potato Casserole

My daughter's birthday was a few weeks ago and we had some family over to celebrate.  My husband cooked up a ham and we made a bunch of sides to go with it.  I had some sweet potatoes (from that 5 lb. box I got on sale) that I wanted to use up so I added this to the menu at the last minute.  I'm glad that I did.  Everyone really enjoyed this. It was creamy and sweet.  A perfect side for when you want a change from regular potatoes.
Yummy Sweet Potato Casserole
recipe from, courtesy of TINA B

4 cups sweet potato, cubed
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup chopped pecans

1.Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Put sweet potatoes in a medium saucepan with water to cover. Cook over medium high heat until tender; drain and mash.

2.In a large bowl, mix together the sweet potatoes, white sugar, eggs, salt, butter, milk and vanilla extract. Mix until smooth. Transfer to a 9x13 inch baking dish.

3.In medium bowl, mix the brown sugar and flour. Cut in the butter until the mixture is coarse. Stir in the pecans. Sprinkle the mixture over the sweet potato mixture.

4.Bake in the preheated oven 30 minutes, or until the topping is lightly brown.

Family Rating: 2 thumbs up.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Baked Carrot Cake Doughnuts with Pineapple Cream Cheese Frosting

I made these doughnuts several weeks ago but just thinking about them as I type this has my mouth watering.  I love carrot cake....minus the nuts.  My husband always comments that doughnuts and muffins are just an excuse to eat cake for breakfast.  I find nothing wrong with that!  I saw these doughnuts and knew I'd be making them.  Carrot Cake for breakfast?  Yum!  And Pineapple Cream Cheese Frosting?! Even better.  These were more time-consuming to make then doughnuts I've made in the past, but were well worth it.  My son watched me as I made these and asked, "Are you going to put the batter in the ziploc bag again?"  Of course I was!  The ziploc bag definitely cuts down on mess and helps with even portions.  These doughnuts were so tasty and ones that I will be making again!  We all loved them!

Baked Carrot Cake Doughnuts with Pineapple Cream Cheese Frosting
recipe from via Life's Simple Measures

Yield:  18 doughnuts

For the Carrot Cake Doughnuts:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 stick butter, softened
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 whole egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup plain yogurt
2/3 cup crushed pineapple, drained, reserve 4 tablespoons juice for the frosting
2/3 cup finely shredded carrots

For the Pineapple Cream Cheese Frosting:
4 tablespoons butter, softened
4-ounces cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons pineapple juice
1 cup powdered sugar


For the Carrot Cake Doughnuts:
Preheat oven to 375. Lightly grease the doughnut pan; set aside.

In a medium sized mixing bowl sift together the flour, ground cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, and baking soda; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl cream together the butter, light brown sugar, and salt. Add egg, vanilla, and yogurt; beat until smooth. Add flour mixutre. Stir in pineapple and carrots.

Spoon the mixture into a ziploc bag and pipe batter into prepared pan, filling only 1/2 way up the doughnut cavities.

Bake for 10 minutes.

Cool doughnuts in pan for 10 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack.

In the meantime prepare the Pineapple Cream Cheese Frosting

In a large mixing bowl cream together the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Pour in the pineapple juice and powdered sugar; continue to beat until completely blended and smooth.

Frost the doughnuts when cooled.

Family Rating: 2 thumbs up.

This post shared at:
Foodtastic Friday @ Not Your Ordinary Recipes
Work it Wednesday @ High Heels & Grills

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Basmati Rice & Potatoes

This week on I Heart Cooking Clubs as we continue to cook with Yotam Ottolenghi, the theme is "Going with the Grain."  Ottolenghi has a lot of interesting grain recipes. Unfortuntaely, I really wimped out this week.  I was planning my weekly menu at the last minute and didn't want to make anything time consuming or with ingredients that I thought the kids wouldn't eat.  I ended up making his Basmati Rice & Potatoes, based on his Basmati Rice & Orzo recipe from his cookbook Jerusalem.  This recipe was almost too easy, but it was in his cookbook!  I was set to make the rice with orzo and meant to check my pantry to make sure I had orzo before I went grocery shopping....but I forgot.  Only when I went to make this did I realize that I didn't have orzo.  I was NOT running back out to the grocery store to get some and I didn't have vermicelli noodles which was listed as a substitute.  However, he notes that "other substantial elements - vericelli, potatoes, lentils, nuts - could also be included.  I had some leftover roasted potatoes and went with that!  I'm not sure if cooking method affects the recipe either.  Again, I went quick and easy and used my rice cooker.   Have I mentioned that this was quick and easy?!!  The chicken broth gives the rice some flavor and my daughter loved it.  I thought it was okay and a nice change from plain white rice, though I'm not sure if I'll end up making this again.

Basmati Rice & Potatoes
recipe inspired by Ottolenghi's Basmati Rice & Orzo recipe in Jerusalem

2 cups basmati rice
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup leftover roasted potatoes, diced

1. Put 2 cups of rice in rice cooker.  Add chicken stock to the 2 cup fill line and cook. While rice is cooking, melt butter in large saute pan.  Fry potatoes in butter, turning as needed, until heated through about 10 minutes.  Once rice is cooked transfer to a large bowl and mix in potatoes.

Family Rating: 1 thumb up.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Orange Ricotta Chocolate Chip Muffins

I haven't made muffins in awhile.  When I saw this recipe I first thought of the kids (who are often the first I think of when deciding to try out a recipe!).   They love citrus and chocolate....but aren't huge fans of ricotta.  However, in these muffins, the ricotta adds moisture to them, not ricotta flavor.  The original recipe included an orange glaze.  Since we eat muffins in the morning for breakfast and I usually serve them with yogurt and fruit for the kids, I decided not to add glaze.  Even without the glaze, the muffins were flavorful and tasty and the kids didn't miss the extra sugar!  I'm not a big citrus fan so these weren't my favorite but the rest of the family really enjoyed them.

Orange Ricotta Chocolate Chip Muffins
recipe from Two Peas & Their Pod

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
Zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 large egg
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 12 cup muffin tin.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In a small bowl, add the sugar and orange zest. Rub the orange zest and sugar together with your fingers.

3. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar and orange zest mixture together until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Add the ricotta cheese and beat until smooth. Beat in the egg, orange juice, and vanilla extract.

4. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just blended. Stir in the chocolate chips. Divide the batter evenly between the 12 muffin cups.

5. Bake muffins for about 18-20 minutes, or until the tops are slightly golden brown. Let muffins cool completely.

Family Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Strawberries & Cream French Toast Casserole

I think this is finally the last of my Easter posts!  I'm slowly catching up on posts but am continuing to try lots of new recipes!  Knowing that we were going to be super busy getting Easter dinner ready I had wanted to make something easy for breakfast.  (We had our traditional Polish Easter breakfast with hard-boiled eggs, kielbasa, and my mom's home made Easter bread with honey the day before.)  I saw this recipe and thought the kids would love it.  I liked that I was able to prepare this the night before and just had to bake it in the morning.  The kids love strawberries and enjoyed this, just like I thought they would. 

Strawberries & Cream French Toast Casserole
recipe slightly adapted from Pink Parsley

8 cups cubed French bread
6 eggs
1 1/4 cups milk
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
pinch of cinnamon
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups sliced strawberries, divided
1 Tbs sugar, for sprinkling

Lightly grease a 9x13 inch square baking dish.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, heavy cream, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. Mix in the bread and the strawberries. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan, cover, and refrigerate several hours or overnight. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and scatter the remaining 1/2 cup of strawberries over the top.

Bake 35-45 minutes, or until the custard has set. During the last 10 minutes of baking time, sprinkle 1 tablespoon of sugar over the top.

Allow to cool 5-10 minutes before serving.

Family Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Tagliatelle with Spinach, Mascarpone, & Parmesan

This week is the April Potluck at I Heart Cooking Clubs.  Even though the featured chef is Yotam Ottolenghi, for the potluck participants are able to choose a recipe from any of the eight previously featured chefs that the club has cooked.   Since Ottolenghi is the first chef that I've been cooking with for the club I wanted to branch out and try cooking something from one of the past chefs.  I decided to cook something from Jamie Oliver.  I saw this recipe and it looked so simple and easy, just the kind of recipe I needed this week!  This was so easy to make.  Taste-wise it was okay.  The kids ate it without complaint and my daughter even asked to take some for lunch the next day.  I felt it was kind of plain and needed something.  I have a bunch of Italian sausage in the freezer that I think when crumbled and browned would have gone really well in this dish.  Although I wasn't wowed by this dish, I was glad to have made something by Jamie Oliver and will be trying some of his other recipes out!

Tagliatelle with Spinach, Mascarpone, & Parmesan
recipe adapted from

1 lb. fettuccini
olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
baby spinach, washed thoroughly
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup mascarpone cheese
2 handfuls Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Boil a large pot of water,  add pasta, and cook according to package directions. Meanwhile heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil, the butter, and garlic. When the butter melts, add the spinach and heat until wilted, approximately five minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste then add the heavy cream, mascarpone and a little ladle of cooking water from the pasta. Let this come to a simmer and then season again.

Drain the pasta, reserving some of the cooking water, then stir it into the spinach sauce. Add the Parmesan and toss everything together.  

Family Rating: 1 thumb up.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Lemon Cream Crumb Bars

My mom volunteered to bring dessert for Easter.  She saw a recipe for an Eclair Pie that she wanted to try (which by the way was really good!).  I saw lots of lemon flavored desserts on the blogosphere and thought it would be fitting to have some type of citrus dessert too.  My kids love lemon (they can both eat them like you would an orange slice!) so I figured they would enjoy these.  These were really quick and easy to put together and my daughter helped me make them.  This is an egg-free recipe so the kids had fun licking the bowl clean.  I'm not a big lemon/citrus fan but found these bars tasty enough.  The kids really liked them!

Lemon Cream Crumb Bars
recipe from Dessert Now, Dinner Later via The Pioneer Woman

1/2 cup butter, slightly softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup oats
1-14oz can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup lemon juice
Zest of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cream butter and sugar.

Sift flour, salt, & baking powder.

Add oats & flour mixture to butter/sugar mixture & combine. Make sure there are no butter chunks.

Press 1/2-3/4 mixture on the bottom of an 8x8 pan.
Mix together the condensed milk, lemon juice, & zest. Spread onto the bottom layer of the crumb mixture.

Knead the remaining crumb mixture with hands, & crumble on the top of the lemon layer, but don't press down or you can ruin your lemon filling.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Allow pan to rest for 30 minutes before cutting/serving.  These can be chilled in the refrigerator and served cold, which is how I served them.  

Family Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up.

This post is shared at:
Tasty Thursdays @ The Mandatory Mooch
One Project at a Time @ A Bowl Full of Lemons

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Roasted Broccoli and Aged Cheddar Gratin

This was the last veggie side that I made for our Easter dinner.  I think broccoli is one of the only vegetables that BOTH of my kids will eat without complaint.  I wanted to do something besides steam it.  I saw a recipe for Roasted Cauliflower and Aged White Cheddar Gratin on Closet Cooking.  I didn't want to use cauliflower, but used that recipe for the inspiration for this dish.  I substituted broccoli and omitted/added various ingredients until I had this dish.  It was tasty and the kids enjoyed it. 

Roasted Broccoli and Aged Cheddar Gratin
recipe inspired by Closet Cooking

1 large head broccoli, cut into florets
2 tablespoons oil
salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups milk
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1 cup aged cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup bread crumbs

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Toss the broccoli florets in the oil along with the salt and pepper and arrange them in a single layer on a large baking sheet.

2.Roast the broccoli in until lightly golden brown, about 20-30 minutes.  Once broccoli is roasted, reduce oven heat to 350 degrees F.

3.Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, mix in the flour and let cook until it just starts to brown a little.

4.Mix in the milk, salt, pepper, dijon mustard, and cheese and heat until the cheese melts and the sauce thickens.

5.Mix broccoli into the sauce, pour into a baking dish and top with the bread crumbs.

6.Bake in oven until it is bubbling on the sides and golden brown on top, about 15-20 minutes.

Family Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up.

This post is shared at:
Tasty Thursdays @ The Mandatory Mooch
One Project at a Time @ A Bowl Full of Lemons

Monday, April 22, 2013

Roasted Asparagus

This was another vegetable side dish that I made for our Easter dinner.  We always have asparagus at Easter.  They are in season at this time of year and usually on sale.  This dish is super easy to make and so simple, yet very tasty!  This is definitely going to be our go-to asparagus recipe.

Roasted Asparagus
recipe adapted from, courtesy of Tyler Florence, How to Boil Water

2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bunches medium asparagus
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Grated or shaved Parmesan, optional

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Trim the woody ends from the asparagus, usually about 1 1/2 inches. Spread the spears in a single layer on a baking sheet, drizzle with t tablespoons of olive oil, sprinkle with the salt and pepper, and roll to coat thoroughly.

Roast the asparagus until lightly browned and tender, about 8 to 10 minutes, giving the pan a good shake about halfway through to turn the asparagus.

While asparagus are cooking heat remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in small saute pan over medium heat.  Add garlic and saute for a couple of minutes.  Mix into roasted asparagus on baking sheet.

 Arrange the roasted asparagus on a serving platter and top with some Parmesan. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Family Rating:  2 thumbs up.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Ottolenghi's Sweet Potato Cakes

I am continuing my cooking adventures with the I Heart Cooking Clubs as we get to know Yotam Ottolenghi.  This week's theme was "Get Back to Your Roots."  I had bought a 5 lb. box of sweet potatoes that was on sale from the grocery store a couple of weeks ago.  I knew this week's Ottolenghi theme would be a perfect opportunity to use them up.  A couple of other participants had already made these and given them good reviews.  I didn't end up making the dipping sauce that goes with these and just served with some sour cream that I had.  I know the other reviewers said the sauce made the recipe.  So, I'm not sure if I missed out on anything by not making it.  However, I enjoyed these with just the sour cream.  You must like sweet potatoes though if you're thinking of making these.  The sweet potato flavor really stands out with a little heat from the pepper (though I only used a jalapeno, not the red chile the original recipe called for!).  Instead of steaming the potatoes like the original recipe called for, I ended up boiling, draining, and mashing them like I would if I was making mashed sweet potatoes.  This definitely cut down on the cooking and prep time that the original recipe needed.  Unfortunately, my son who enjoys sweet potatoes wasn't a big fan of these.  I knew my daughter, who doesn't like sweet potatoes to begin with wouldn't like these, so I halved the recipe, as shown in the amounts below.  But my husband I enjoyed them.  These are best eaten the day they are made.  The leftovers didn't taste as good!
Sweet Potato Cakes
recipe adapted from Plenty:  Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London's Ottolenghi

Yield: 2 servings as posted (original recipe yields 4)

1 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 tsp. soy sauce
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. sugar
2 Tbsp scallions, chopped
1 tsp jalapeno pepper finely choped
lots of butter, for frying
sour cream for topping

Fill large sauce pan with water and bring to boil over high heat.  Once boiling, add potato chunks and cook for 15 minutes.  Drain and let cool for about fifteen minutes. Place in a large mixing bowl and mash with fork.  Add the rest of the ingredients except the butter.  Mix the ingredients by hand - it should be sticky, so if it's a little runny, add some flour. Do not over-mix.

Melt some butter in a nonstick pan.  Add spoonfuls of batter to pan and flatten with a spatula into discs that are approximately 2 inches in diameter and 3/8 inch think.  Fry on moderate heat until you get a nice, brown crust, about six minutes on each sode. Place between two sheets of kitchen towel, to soak up the excess butter. Serve warm, topping with sour cream if desired.

Family Rating: 1 thumb up.