Monday, December 5, 2016

Cavatini

Good evening friends!  I know it is a busy time of year for everyone!  I hope you are taking time to enjoy it, taking in the laughter, the conversation and the good food!


This is an old family favorite.  We always called in cavatini, not sure why, we just did.  Give me enough time and it will come back to me but as of now, it is what it is.....cavatini!  We make this with mushrooms, without them, it is not cavatini!  We also must have the radiatore pasta  You just use any short cut pasta and you will be fine!

Don't slaughter me over the canned mushrooms, they are actually my husbands favorite and some people have VERY strong opinions about them for sure! Feel free to use fresh, no biggie, your cavatini, your decision!  The red pepper flakes are a must, this is spicy, and sweet, and has beefy mushrooms and ground beef, it is so hearty and ABOVE ALL...........do NOT skimp on the massive amount of cheese, I won't be able to forgive myself for failing you, if you do!

16 oz pasta, cooked and drained (we MUST use radiatore)
1 T butter
1 T olive oil
2, 7 oz cans of mushrooms or (16 oz fresh, sliced mushrooms)
1 lb hamburger (lean)
1  10.75 oz can tomato soup
1 16 oz jar pasta sauce
2 T sugar
1 tsp red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan


Get your pasta cooked according to package directions and drained.  Preheat your oven to 375 while it is groovin'.

Drain your pasta and add in your butter and olive oil.  Let it begin to sizzle and add in your drained mushrooms.  Saute for a couple of minutes and then remove with a slotted spoon into a bowl.  Set aside.

Add in your hamburger and cook until browned.  Toss in your tomato soup and pasta sauce, and RINSE that pasta sauce jar, you need that bit of extra liquid anyway!  Dump it into the pot and stir.  Now for the red pepper flakes, I use usually 1.5 tsp, but start with one, or even half.  Toss them in and stir to combine and heat those babies up!  Add in your sugar, salt and pepper to taste.  Add your mushrooms and pasta in and stir until completely combined.

Pour into a buttered 9x13 casserole and smooth out the top.   Let it rain cheese and in the oven you go!  Bake for 20-25 minutes.  Serve bubbling hot! (with crusty bread)

ENJOY!



Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Pumpkin Cream Pie

Ahh, the week before Thanksgiving, some of us are scrambling to finish our menus and some of us had our menus done a month ago.  Darn you organized people!


This will be our first major holiday without my mom, so we are going to enjoy it, most of my family will be here and I plan to make a couple of dishes that my mom always made.  It is going to be fun, maybe a bit sad, definitely food filled and undoubtedly a day of memory making!

I had asked you the other day what kind of pies you would like to see in "MILE HIGH" form.  The usual suspects appeared, chocolate, coconut, etc.  I asked because I was dreaming about this mile high pumpkin cream pie.  While I admit, pumpkin pie is NOT my favorite thing about Thanksgiving, I do eat a piece.  It is practically unAmerican not to.  I put on twice as much whipped cream as their is pie and enjoy every bite.  I thought to myself, "self.....why can't you put the cream with the pumpkin, almost like the lime and the coconut and cut out the middle man"?  What makes MY mile high pies, mile high?  The filling, AND the slightly sweetened, hint of vanilla fresh whipped cream.  I don't care much for meringue on a pie, in fact, to be honest, I don't care for pie in general.  If a pie goes in the oven, I almost never would eat it.  If it has to be chilled, or contains the words, "French" and "Silk", I will wrestle small children to get a piece.  Pie has just never been my "thing".  I suppose I can blame it on the fact that I dislike fruit tremendously and almost all pies are fruit filled.  BINGO!

So while this may not technically be MILE HIGH, if you double the filling, it can be.  And I would be thrilled if you did that, or double the whipped cream, mount that stuff up so high you can like the top while standing!  Go ahead, DO IT!!

With that said, get this made, put it in your freezer, and take it out Thanksgiving morning.  Done.  Ahead.  YES!

Crust:
40 Nilla Wafers
10 graham cracker squares
1 stick of butter (1/2 cup) melted
4 T white granulated sugar

Get our your food processor, toss in everything except your butter.  and pulverize!  You want almost a sand consistency.  Add in the butter and let it go until the mixture is that of wet sand and will stick together if you squeeze some in your hand.


Press into a deep(ish) 9 inch pie plate.  Using a measuring cup or a flat bottom drinking glass, press it into the bottom and side.  Refrigerate for 39 min to 1 hr.

FILLING:
1, 16oz (approx) can of PURE PUMPKIN (not Pumpkin Pie Filling)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 oz. softened cream cheese
2. 3.4 oz boxes of instant vanilla pudding
1 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

In your standing mixer add in pumpkin, cinnamon, powdered sugar, vanilla and softened cream cheese.  Mix until combined.  Add in instant vanilla pudding and heavy whipping cream and whip on high until it becomes thickened and creamy.  (It will set up more in the fridge, but whip it long enough please, probably a good 3-4 minutes at least)  Pour into your crust and refrigerate 2 hours before topping with fresh whipped cream!\



Sweetened Whipping Cream:
2 cups heavy cream
3-4 T powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Whip all ingredients until stiff peaks form.  Spread or pipe on to the pie.  Refrigerate until time to serve or freeze for 1 hour, and wrap well to stay frozen until the morning before serving!

ENJOY!





Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Fried Snicker Bites

Evenin' ya'll!

Hoping this finds you all well, and with fully tummies!   I am slowly but surely working my way back into the kitchen.  Isn't it ironic that I chose a time full of sweet treats?  Yea, well, I can't help what my mind wants!


I was inspired to make these after hearing a friend back east eating a dougnut with a Snickers in the middle!  I thought these would be easy, quick and freakin' awesome.

In case you wondered....I was right on all 3 counts.  Serve these warm, or room temp.  Please try one while they are still warm though.  You need to.  It should literally be on your bucket list!

Here we go!

1 can of refrigerator crescent rolls
12-20 Snicker Minis.  (depending on the amount of rolls, you will need 2 per roll)
1/4 cup melted chocolate chips (for garnish, option)
vegetable oil

Get about 2 inches of vegetable (or your oil of choice) in a medium pot.  While it is coming up to temperature (350 degrees F) let's get going on the rest.


Remove your crescent rolls from the container.  Separate them out.  Unwrap double the amount of Snicker bites as you have rolls as you will cut the rolls in half.  Now take your rolls, cut into 2 pieces, a bit more on the pointed end, and put a Snicker bite onto each one.  Pick it up and cover in the dough, roll in your hands until the ball is showing no chocolate and completely sealed, repeat with all of the ingredients.


When your oil is up to temperature, fry about 4 at a time.  It will literally take 30-60 seconds.  I like to keep mine moving around with my spider while they fry.  This helps them brown equally on all sides.



Remove to a paper towel lined dish and get on with the next bath!


This recipe is easily double, tripled or quadrupled.  I drizzled mine with a bit of melted chocolate, and some peanuts, but feel free to hit them with some powdered sugar and call it a day!

ENJOY!




Thursday, November 3, 2016

Copycat Kentucky Fried Chicken Gravy

Who doesn't love KFC mashed potatoes and gravy?  Just WHO?


I can remember my mom driving to a big town about an hour from where we lived and sometimes, if she had enough money should bring us a treat, fried chicken and mashed potatoes and gravy.  OH YEEESSS!  Those perfect whipped instant potatoes, (maybe they were real back then) formed into a ball, from that perfect ice cream scoop type contraption.  Velvety gravy ladled in all its peppery goodness on top.  YES!

I have been a mashed potatoes and gravy freak since the beginning of my time on this earth.  I was always very particular about my gravy.  It must not have milk, OMGOSH when my mom said she was making "milk gravy" I wanted to hurl.  I went through a phase of only butter on them and then I discovered what KFC actually did for the world, they made gravy for the world.  Yes..  Yes they did.  KFC created a world of gravy unlike any other.  And this is why I had to recreate it!

While this might not be EXXXXACTLY it, if you do it right, it is darn close and darn close my friends, is good enough for this gravy lovin' girl.  Is it for you?  Let me know!

3 T butter
3 T flour
1 1/2 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 cup beef stock
PINCH of salt
Pepper to taste

In a skillet add your butter.  Let it melt, and continue to stir, adding in the four.  Now, you must take the color a bit further than normal on this part.  Don't just let the raw flour taste cook off, let it get a bit dark, a little nutty, and fragrant.  You will need that flavor and color for your perfect gravy!  When it has cooked maybe 2 or 3 or 4 (yea I don't remember just go with it) minutes, add in your chicken and beef stock and whisk or stir until the lumps are smooth and the gravy is bubbling away.  Let it thicken and taste for salt and add pepper, my GOOOODNESS please add some pepper.

Pour this delightful golden love over your perfect prepared potatoes and WEEP!  Yes, I said WEEP!

ENJOY!



Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Spaghetti and Meatball STUFFED Calzones

I feel a carb coma coming on just reading the title.  How about you?  Do you know who had this idea?  I will give you one guess..........wait for it.............wait for it.............GEORGE!  Admittedly though, when he suggested I try this, my mouth salivated like a rabid dog all the way to the grocery store.


I am a bit addicted to spaghetti and meatballs.......  Since my childhood when my made it every single birthday because I would request it, I have loved it.  We would sometimes make spaghetti and meatball sandwiches with the garlic bread the next day.  This reminded me of that!

I used prepackaged items simply because this was a last minute request, and so yea.....I cheated.  Majorly cheated.  I will link my meatballs, marinara and pizza dough recipes below if you want to do all homemade. 

12 oz spaghetti, cooked
24 oz marinara sauce
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
frozen meatballs that you have thawed (about 5 per calzone)
2 cans of store bought pizza dough
olive oil
oregano

Boil your pasta, drain and let cool.  In a large bowl combine the pasta, with the marinara sauce.  Mix until combined and set aside. 

Here is where you decide if you are making 4 LARGE calzones or 8 smaller.  The choice is  yours, the only thing it affects is how many meatballs you use or how you portion out the spaghetti mixture.  Either do it in 8 or 4.

Unroll and cut your dough to the size you have decided on.  Place your spaghetti on first, in equal portions.  Next, add on your cheese.  Let it RAAAIIINNNN cheese friends! (as you can see we made 4 huge ones)


Then go the meatballs!  I cut them in half!


Now, fold it over and press the edges down to seal.  You can use a fork to press down the edges to seal better!

Place onto a baking sheet you have sprayed with cooking spray.  Drizzle the top with olive oil and brush on evenly.  You can sprinkle on some oregano if you like!


Bake according to the pizza dough package directions.  Right after you take them out, sprinkle the top with a little Parmesan if you like!  Let sit about 5 minutes before serving!

ENJOY!

RECIPES for homemade ingredients!
Pizza Dough
Meatballs and Sauce

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Fresh Pico de Gallo

Farmer's market means, fresh veggies and herbs!  My husband and I took advantage of the fall like weather and loaded up our dog and off we went!  It was the perfect day at the market.  I even tried goat cheese (again) still don't like it.  Found some fabulous local vendors and some great treats!


I was feeling pico in my soul, so we picked up everything I needed.  Oh the joy of fresh veggies as opposed to the icky stuff in the store.  Take advantage while you still can!!!

This recipe seems to easy to even share, but I am sharing it anyway!  I never miss the chance to make some fresh pico and just wanted to share how I do it!

While I enjoy the combination of white onion and green onions, please, use just one or the other if you like.  Cilantro is another "to taste" ingredient.  We have discussed this on social media before, it seems people love it or hate it, there isn't much of an in between.  I VERY finely minced mine so a tablespoon is perfect, if you like more, get on with it!

2 cups finely diced tomatoes
1 jalapeno FINELY minced (remove veins and seeds unless you want to shoot fire out of your....whatever)
1/4 cup finely minced white onion
1 green onion chopped
1 T cilantro (not my fav, so add more if you like)
1/2 of a lime
1 tsp. salt

Place all ingredients into a bowl and mix until combined.  I used 1 tsp of salt and then ended up adding a WEE bit more.

This pico is so refreshing, so flavorful and should definitely make all of my healthy eaters happy! Very easy to double or triple for a party, and it will keep in the fridge a few days, so make tons, it is a delicious snack!  I think I will use the rest on some well seasoned grilled chicken breasts!  I am down for healthy AND this delicious and I hope you love it too!

This will get stronger onion and jalapeno flavor the longer it sets.  You could let the tomatoes drain before mixing in other ingredients, I simply use a slotted spoon to scoop it out into a bowl for eating!  

ENJOY!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Oven Baked Cinnamon Toast

......cinnamon toast.  Not many other smells remind me of my moms kitchen like it does.  Saturday mornings, breakfast before the infamous "to do" list.  My mom had a bowl of cinnamon sugar on the counter.  If I remember it was white, with a lid and it had baby blue and yellow flowers on it.  Sibs, am I right?


Well, my husband has the same memories.  The difference?   His mom made his toast, AND she did it in the oven to boot!  Not to long ago he said to me, "I should totally make you my mom's cinnamon toast in the oven".  Well, as a cinnamon anything crazy lady, my eyes perked up like the ears of dog eyeballing a burger.  Well, YES you should my darlin'!  Uh huh........screeeeeeeeech.  What he meant to say was this, "I am so hungry for my mom's cinnamon toast.  If I tell you how to make it, can you make it for me and serve it to me upon my royal platter"?  Well sure, I would do about anything for my king!  I was so glad I did, not only was this delicious and SOOO crazy easy, the look on his face when he ate it was priceless!

So tell me if I was raised under a rock or if you, like me, had never heard of cinnamon toast made like this before!  When you take the like, oh I don't know, 5 minutes it takes to make this and you eat it, you are going to understand the goodness.  The key is LOTS of butter says my husband.  Of course his key to ANY goodness is LOTS of butter.

I did 8 slices, these measurements are loose but, you aren't going to mess it up, trust me!

8 slices of bread
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.  On a baking sheet, arrange your bread.  Butter each piece LIBERALLY.  Divide the brown sugar up between the slices of bread.  It may not take all of it or it may, depends on heavy you go!  When they are all buttered and sprinkled with brown sugar, take your cinnamon and just sprinkle the tops.  I give no measurement because, well, I don't like to put limits on cinnamon like that!  Slide into the oven for  8-10 minutes or until the brown sugar is melted and bubbly!

I dare you to try to just eat one piece.  Yea, uh huh, I dare you.

ENJOY!  Make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel!!