Monday, June 25, 2012

Pasta with Mushrooms, Sun Dried Tomatoes, and Pine Nuts

 Ok, ok,  I know I always say that everything is easy, but seriously, I have to say it again! This is was so easy to make, you won't believe it. You just throw a few sauce ingredients in the pan, toss it with some cooked pasta and boom, there's your dinner. I made it for Chris and Claire because Claire requested something with sun dried tomatoes and mushrooms. I found this recipe from and old issue of Bon Appétit and it was exactly what I wanted (well, after I tweaked it a little!) And it was a huge hit! It's as perfect for an elegant dinner as it is for a Sunday summer supper when you don't really feel like cooking. Try it!

15 sun dried tomatoes
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 lb baby Portobello mushrooms (or more), sliced
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 cup white wine
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb pasta (any kind)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup pine nuts (preferably toasted)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Place sun-dried tomatoes in small bowl. Pour 2 cups boiling chicken stock over them. Let stand until tomatoes soften, about 15 minutes. Drain tomatoes, reserving soaking liquid. Thinly slice tomatoes.
Spray large nonstick skillet generously with vegetable oil spray. Add mushrooms and onions. Saute for a bit, just until softened. Add garlic and continue to cook a few minutes longer. Add wine, reserved tomato soaking liquid, and sliced tomatoes. Bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until liquids are reduced by half and vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook, pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup pasta water. 
  Pour the sauce over the pasta. Add Parmesan cheese and pine nuts. Toss, adding a little reserved pasta water if it's too dry. Mix in basil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

I was a little heavy handed with the pine nuts, tomatoes, and basil, because frankly I LOVE pine nuts, tomatoes and fresh basil. Like Mom always said "If you like a lot, add a lot!"
When cooking with wine, be sure to choose a wine that you would drink, and then you can serve the rest of the bottle with dinner! Oh, and  NEVER ever use anything labeled "cooking wine". It's really not very good at all.
Instead of reconstituting the sun dried tomatoes, you can use the ones that come in a jar packed in oil. Just be sure to add chicken stock to the sauce.
To make this a vegetarian dish, simply use vegetable stock or just plain water instead of chicken stock.
On the flip side, you can easily add chicken or sausage. Just cut up the sausage or boneless chicken and saute it before you add everything else to the pan.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Coca Cola Cake

 OK here's another crazy sinful cake that you just have to taste to believe. I got the recipe from my sister, Jeanie. I have no idea where she got it, but like I always say, since she's the one who brought it to me, she's the one who gets the credit for it. If you have an insatiable sweet tooth, this is the cake for you. Not only does it have Coca Cola in it, but it also has marshmallows that melt right into the cake itself, making it the most fudgy moist cake you've ever tasted. I'm not even kidding. This cake is SERIOUSLY moist. Like, BEYOND moist. Like, if a fudge brownie and a cake had a baby, this would be it. I'm talking major fudginess here. Like, "sticks to the knife when you cut into it", fudgy. Do you now understand the caliber of fudgetasticness? Oh, and if you're looking for something that is lightly sweet.....this is NOT the cake you're looking for. I know I know, it's a HUGE splurge, but I'm not suggesting you should have this every day. That would be crazy. But OMG it's so good. You definitely need to pour yourself a tall glass of ice cold milk and try it!

1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 sticks butter or margarine
1 cup coca-cola
2 tbs. cocoa
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups mini-marshmallows

In a mixing bowl, sift salt, flour, and sugar in bowl. It a small sauce pot, heat butter, cola, and cocoa to boiling. Pour over flour and sugar. Add eggs, buttermilk, soda, and vanilla and mix well. Add marshmallows. Pour into greased 13" x 9" pan. Bake in preheated 325 degrees oven for 45 minutes. Pour icing over hot cake. Cool thoroughly before cutting and serving.

1 stick butter or margarine
1 tbs. cocoa
1/2 cup coca-cola
1 lb. box 10x sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup chopped nuts

Bring butter, cocoa, and coca-cola to a boil in heavy saucepan. Place 10x sugar in a bowl. Pour boiling mixture over sugar and mix well. Beat in the vanilla and chopped nuts and pour icing over hot cake. Cool cake completely before cutting and serving.

Most times, I like a chilled, but this cake is DEFINITELY better when it's at room temperature, or even still a little bit warm.
I'm usually not a fan of baking cakes in a 9x13 baking pan, just because I think Bundt pans and tube pans make a prettier slice of cake...but for this one, you absolutely need the 9x13 pan so you can pour the warm icing over the hot cake and then let it sink right in.
I omitted the chopped nuts, because basically sometimes I feel like a nut and sometimes I don't. Do NOT, however, omit the marshmallows. They're crucial to the recipe because they bake into the cake.

Monday, June 11, 2012

French Fry Breakfast Casserole

Ok, so, you ordered take out last night, and they gave you a huge batch of French fries along with your ginormous burger or cheese steak. Then about halfway through your meal, you decide that there's no way in hell anyone would ever be able to eat all of that in one sitting, so you wrap up the other half and put it in the fridge for tomorrow's lunch. If any of this sounds familiar, you already know that the French fries won't be as good the next time around, am I right? The solution? Throw them into a casserole, of course!
 I recently had some leftover French fries and I thought "With money as tight as it is these days, why am I about to throw away perfectly good food?" It just seemed so wasteful. So I decided to do a casserole, and here it is. This is my version of a recipe that I found on another blog. It's really simple, delicious, and quick to throw together. Waste not, want not, right?
Try it!

a couple tbs oil
1 medium onion
1 medium green bell pepper
2 portobello mushrooms
2-3 cups French fries
1 cup American cheese
8 eggs
1 cup milk
salt and pepper

Heat oven to 350F.
Spray a 9x13 casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray.
Add a little oil to a large saute pan. Roughly chop the onion, pepper, and mushrooms into large chunks. Add to the pan, and saute over medium heat. Give them a good 5-10 minutes to really cook down and begin to caramelize. In the meantime, roughly chop the French fries  and add them to the casserole dish to form a layer. When the veggies are cooked, make another layer on top of the fries. Sprinkle the diced or shredded cheese over the veggies. Whisk the eggs, milk, and salt and pepper in a bowl, then  pour over all. Place in the oven for about 30 minutes or until set and lightly browned on top.

I used the ingredients that I happened to have on hand, but add anything you like! Any kind of green veggies would work, such as broccoli, asparagus, or spinach. Use any kind of cheese, or combination of cheeses. Add any kind of meat, like diced ham or sausage, or even ground beef. But just be sure to brown everything in a pan first before you add it to the casserole.
I baked this in a 9x13 dish because I wanted the final product the be thin like a frittata, but you can easily use a smaller dish. Your casserole will be a little thicker and it'll probably take a little longer for it to set up.
Btw, the other blog is called Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker in case you'd like to check it out!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Piña Colada Cheesecake Squares

Ok, so, when I asked My sister, Cathy, what I should make for Casey's graduation party, she said "How the pineapple cheesecake squares that Terri always makes?" And I thought..."wait, how do I not know about this recipe?" So, I called Terri. Apparently she found this recipe in a newspaper years and years, maybe 15 years ago.. and for some reason I missed them somehow. We were talking and laughing about it at the party, and Kim even said "Don't you remember a couple years ago when I called you and asked if you had that recipe?" And I said to her "And I said NO, right? Because I had no idea what in hell she was talking about! Well, Anyway, here they are. I FINALLY made them and OMG I love them! They were actually called Pineapple Cheesecake Squares, but I since there's coconut, I figured this was a better name, don't you think? I suppose you could leave the coconut out, but that just makes no sense to me. Give them a try!

2 c. flour
1 c. sugar
1 c. butter or margarine

Combine until fine.
Pat into ungreased 13x9 pan.
Bake at 350 until golden around edges, 14-19 minutes.

2 8 oz. pkgs. cream cheese
4 tbsp. sugar
4 tbsp. milk
2 eggs
16 oz. can crushed pineapple, drained

Blend cream cheese, sugar, milk & eggs w/ mixer.
Blend in drained pineapple by hand.
Spread over baked crust.

2 tbsp. butter or margarine, softened
3/4 c. flaked coconut

Blend butter w/ coconut & sprinkle over top.

Bake for 17-20 minutes at 350.
Cool before cutting into squares.
Refrigerate cut bars until ready to serve.

Because there's a LOT of butter in the crust, it'll become very soft and bubbly when you bake it. Just let it bake until it because golden around the edges. Oh, and no need to cool it before spreading the filling on top.
Make sure you let it chill in the fridge for a few hours before you cut it into squares.
When it's time for cutting, I like to loosen the whole batch from the bottom of the pan as much as I can with a large spatula, and then remove half of the batch from the pan at a time. It's just easier to place it on a cutting board and then cut it with a large very sharp knife.