Friday, March 26, 2010

Shrimp & Veggie Pasta

This isn't much of an exciting recipe, but it is so easy and so delicious, I had to share. The beauty of this dish is that it's quick, healthy, and you can pretty much use whatever meat or vegetables you want!
Get your pasta water on the stove before you begin, that way the cooked pasta won't have to wait long for it's friends :-)
Cooked pasta of choice-I like to use linguine
Asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces
Red onion, sliced into strips
Yellow pepper, sliced into strips
Cherry tomatoes, halved
Shrimp, deveined and tails off (thawed if frozen)
2-3 tbls butter
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
Add the pasta to boiling water and cook according to package directions. Heat olive oil in a saute pan, add the veggies except tomatoes, and stir fry until crisp tender. Remove from pan. Add the butter and heat over medium until melted. Add the minced garlic and shrimp, cook until shrimp are just pink. Return the veggies to the pan, with the tomatoes, and stir until everything is coated and tomatoes are warmed through. Pour cooked pasta onto a platter or pasta bowl, top with shrimp veggie mixture, and sprinkle with parmesan cheese and fresh herbs if you want! So yummy and simple!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Okay, so this is not my recipe at all, but they are the best drop cookies I have ever made. I swore off any kind of drop cookie that had chocolate chips because, for whatever reason, no matter what I tried, they always turned out flat, dark brown, and ugly! Well, in keeping with my "Boost the Calorie" trend, I decided to go for a peanut butter chocolate chip recipe that looked good. I think it might be the corn syrup??? I don't know, but they immediately became a family favorite. Here's the goods:
Chewy Peanut Buuter Chocolate Chip Cookies
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 white sugar
2 eggs
2 tbls light corn syrup
2 tbls water
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups chocolate chips
Cream butter, peanut butter, and sugars until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, then stir in the corn syrup, water, and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Add in the chocolate chips. Drop by spoonfuls (the recipe calls for 1/2 cup) onto ungreased cookies sheets. Bake at 375 for about 11 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack after 1 minute.
These were the chewiest, fattest cookies I've ever made and I will continue to make them until the stores stop selling peanut butter! Right, like that will ever happen! Also, I made them with semisweet chocolate chips the first time and milk chocolate the second time. Either way, they are scrum-diddly-umptious! They freeze well too :-)

Peanut Butter and Jelly WHAT???

Yep, that's right! I took an old time classic, paired it with a forever favorite, and what did I get? Peanut Butter and Jelly Scones! Sometimes, I think it must be nice to be an underweight 3 year old. Mama's always tryin' to cook up some extra calories! That was the inspiration behind this concoction. My little Molly is always struggling to put on the ounces (yes, we still weigh her in ounces), so I'm always looking for ways to boost calories. Peanut butter is a great source of fat and protein, but she's not much into PB & J sandwhiches, so I tried disguising it in a no-fail package! It sort of worked....
Peanut Butter & Jelly Scones
2 cups flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup cold butter
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup milk
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
fruit jelly/jam
Mix the dry ingredients in a food processor or stir in a bowl. Cut in the butter until it resembles coarse crumbs. Mix the wet ingredients together in a separate bowl. Add the dry mixture to the wet ingredients and knead until thoroughly combined. (The step helps to incorporate the peanut butter, as it does not mix well.) On a floured surface, pat dough out to about 1/2 inch thickness. Using a round cookie cutter (or plastic kid cup like I did), cut out rounds and place half on an ungreased cookie sheet. Add about a tablespoon of jam to each bottom half, then top with the remaining rounds. Pinch the sides together and seal with the prongs of a fork. Bake at 375 for about 15 inutes. Cool on a wire rack.
A lovely pair with a nice cold glass of milk! Makes for a delicious breakfast!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Scones

Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Scones
Back at the age of 18 when I worked at my first espresso stand, we made a delicious drink called a Mochacino. Basically, it was a mocha with cinnamon and nutmeg. Ever since then, I've loved the combination of cinnamon and chocolate. It's so warm and comforting. I decided I'd give the combo a try in the form of a scone. It works in pancakes, so why not??
2 cups flour
2 tbls sugar
1 tbls baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup milk
3 eggs
Mix the dry ingredients in a food processor. This will break up the chocolate chips a little, which works well for the scone. Add the butter and process until crumbly. Combine the milk and eggs. Transfer the dry mixture to a bowl, form a well in the center, and add the milk/egg mixture. Fold in the wet mixture just until everything is moistened.
Divide the dough into 2 halves and form each half into a circle (or whatever works for you). Make sure you work on a floured surface. Cut the dough into triangles of any size, like a pie, and place on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack.
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbls milk
Combine all the ingredients and drizzle over cooled scones.
These were gone in no time and I will definitely be making them again :-)

Banana Coconut Bars

Banana Coconut Bars
This conconction is so simple, there isn't even a recipe. I found a box of vanilla pudding in our snack basket and wanted to do something with it. I decided on the vanilla pie recipe found on the box. So, off I went to make a graham cracker crust. Well, I guess I don't know what a graham cracker is. When the recipe calls for "20" crackers, it really means 20 squares, not 20 rectangles (which would be 2 squares). I know that now...but like I've said before, the crust is the best part, so a double batch makes it doubly declicious. However, it was way too much crust for a 9" pie dish and I ended up having to use a 9 x 11 casserole dish. Well, that was just too big for the amount of pudding I had, so I found myself looking for something to add in. Bananas of course! And how much better do bananas taste with coconut? Enough to justify some toasted yummyness on top, that's for sure. So here's what I did...
A graham cracker crust (cooked and cooled) topped with sliced bananas. Over that I poured the prepared instant vanilla pudding. After I toasted some coconut (twice since I burned it the first time), I sprinkled it on top, put it in the fridge, and enjoyed a yummy treat later! Super easy and delicious!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


It looks like lasagna, it tastes like lasagna, it even strings like lasagna! But the best part??? It takes about a quarter of the time as lasagna! That's right, all the goodness without the grunt work! I have to be honest here, I got the idea from a Rachel Ray episode, but I did make it my own by putting into casserole form and baking it! So, here's how I do it:

First, boil some water and get your pasta's truly this quick!
Bechemal Sauce:
2 tbls butter
2 tbls flour
1 cup milk
minced garlic
salt and pepper
parmesan cheese (or whatever italian cheese you have on hand)
The rest:
spaghetti sauce (jarred or homemade, it's up to you)
mozzarella cheese
You won't need much more than this!
Melt the butter over medium heat, then add the flour. Cook and stir constantly for 4-5 minutes to cook out the flour taste.
Add the milk and garlic. Cook and stir until it starts to thicken.
Add in whatever cheese you like in whatever amount you want. Here I added grated parmesan and this Pecorino Ramono cheese (sheep's milk, but don't tell my kids or me that!) Also season with salt and pepper.
Stir in the cooked pasta. I've used penne, mini penne, some short curly pasta! It's really whatever kind you like.
Pour into a casserole dish. I spray with nonstick cooking spray to make clean up easier. Cover with spaghetti sauce....
Mozzarella cheese....
And bake at 400 until bubbly and golden on top.
You and your kids will LOVE this dish! Seriously, this is what was left after only me and the 3 little ones ate!
Not only will this dish taste great on your table immediately, but it's also a perfect one to prepare and freeze for a later time. Just cover it and freeze it before baking! I love having it on hand for when I want to provide a meal to a friend or family! (Erin, if you are reading this, I had planned on bringing this dish to your baby shower to have in your freezer for after baby came....I'll get it to you somehow!)
I love making a bechamel sauce because once you have the basics, you can dress it up for anything you want. Add onion for more flavor. Add cheddar cheese to make a creamy macaroni, taco seasoning for a mexican casserole, or just plain parmesan for an alfredo. Make it thinner by adding more milk, or thicker by increasing the butter and flour. And, once you get it down, you can make it from memory. This was the first time I didn't consult a recipe and it turned out great.
Good luck...I hope you find a great use for this delicious dish!