Thursday, January 22, 2015

Italian Sausage and Spinach Pasta with Red Pepper Goat Cheese Sauce

Wow, this week (past 6 months, really) has been a busy one! The littlest Pye has discovered mobility, so my life has begun revolving around following him around and keeping his little fingers out of everything! As most moms know, easy, quick dinners are a must with a mobile little one around. This dinner was super fast, SO delicious, and made enough for leftovers (holla no cooking tomorrow night!).

I got a free box of Barilla Collezione casarecce in the mail today for a BzzAgent campaign, and it couldn't have arrived at a more perfect time! This pasta had an awesome texture, and the noodles totally absorbed the amazing flavor of the sauce. I got seconds!

1 lb Italian sausage, casings removed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cup chicken broth
1 1/2 cup milk
3 handfuls spinach
1 red pepper, pureed
4 oz goat cheese
4 oz mozzarella

Brown the Italian sausage in olive oil and garlic. Drain the fat. Add the chicken broth, milk, and pureed red pepper. Stir in the Barilla Collezione, cover and let simmer on low-medium heat for 7-9 minutes. When pasta is done, add spinach, combining until the spinach is cooked. Add in the cheese and stir until melted. Voila! Easy, delicious dinner!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Broccoli Cheddar Quinoa

This was a super easy dinner that my super-carnivorous husband even loved. He looked at is with distaste when he realized there was no meat in it, but he admitted after dinner that he really loved it even without meat :) I like this because it is sort of reminiscent of macaroni and cheese, but it feels more acceptable to eat for dinner as an adult. 
1 1/2 cup quinoa
3 tbsp unsalted butter
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 small yellow onion, finely chopped 
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 cups milk
Salt and pepper to taste 
1 lb frozen broccoli, thawed
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Cook the quinoa according to the package directions. Meanwhile, sautée the onions and garlic in the butter until the onions are soft. Whisk in the flour and mustard for about 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the milk a little at a time. Gradually add about 3/4 of the cheese, stirring until the cheese is smooth and melted. Combine the quinoa and broccoli. Pour the cheese sauce over the quinoa and stir to combine. Cook this in a lightly greased dish at 400 for about 20 minutes. Add the remaining cheese to the top and bake for about 5 more minutes. 

Greek Pizza

We make a lot of pizza around here. Pizza is one of the few foods I actually crave, and it's so easy to make/so expensive to buy. All of those awesome pizza deals on the mainland don't exist here in beautiful Hawaii, but I would never complain because I can walk to the beach and make my own dang pizza ;-) 

We usually stick with pepperoni and mushroom, but I gave this Greek pizza a try.  When the commissary was closed due to the government atrocity, we bought some chicken sausage in bulk from SAMs Club, and a quick google search of chicken sausage recipes gave me this suggestion.  The picture I found had lots of olives, which I suppose makes it more Greek, but I left those off because I think they are revolting. 

For the crust:
1 package instant yeast
1 1/2 cup warm water
1/4 cup olive oil
Sea salt
Garlic bread sprinkle (this is a delightful thing I found with the spices at the commissary. Garlic salt is good too)

For the toppings:
1 jar marinara
Baby spinach
Chicken sausage,diced 
Sundried tomatoes
Crumbled feta

To make the crust, combine the yeast and water and let sit for 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and knead dough.  I make this in my stand mixer with the dough hook, and I just let it run for about 5 minutes until a nice dough ball forms.  Place dough in a bowl that is coated with nonstick spray and cover it with a damp towel.  Let it rise for 45-60 minutes.  When the dough has risen, divide it into 2 parts, one part being 2/3 of the dough. This will roll into a regular pizza pan size. I use the remaining 1/3 to make garlic bread. If you like really thick crust, you can use the whole dough ball. With floured hands, stretch the dough and press it into the pan, rolling the edges to create crust. 

Drizzle olive oil on top of the dough. Spread the marinara, and add the sundried tomatoes. Add the spinach ans top with mozzarella.  Add the chicken sausage and feta (and olives if you're into that sort of thing).  

Bake it at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes. 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Cheddar Ranch Cheese Ball

I'm beginning to think cheese balls are a strictly Southern thing after some of the reactions I've gotten from making one for dinner parties. I don't think I ever went to a dinner party at home where there wasn't some kind of cheese ball, and I am thankful I am not lactose intolerant for this reason. I love me some cheese. This recipe is for the most basic and easy cheese ball I've ever made - it's a really simple and quick option for an appetizer. I used the "low fat" options for the ingredients, but really, you're eating a big ball of cheese on buttery crackers, so it's not like it makes a huge difference.

1 tbsp light sour cream
1 pack dry ranch dressing mix
8 oz Neufchatel cream cheese
1/2 lb shredded cheddar
1/2 cup pecans (pronounced pee-cans, not puh-cahns)

Combine the sour cream and ranch mix until it's smooth. Add the cream cheese and the cheddar. I used a form to mix them, but you may need to just combine with your hands to get it totally incorporated. Refrigerate it for 5-10 minutes, and then shape it into a ball. Roll the ball in the pecans and refrigerate until it's time to serve.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Easy Pita Bread

Since I made a big batch of hummus and had it all to myself, I decided to try making pitas because I am not a fan of how store-bought pitas go stale so quickly. These were really easy, and they turned out great! 

1 1/8 cup warm water
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
t tbsp vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast

Combine all ingredients until combined. Cover with a damp towel and let the dough rise 30 minutes. Divide the dough into 8 equal parts and and roll into flat circles. Place the dough on a metal cooling rack, and cover it with a damp towel for 30 minutes again until the circles get slightly fluffy. Keep the pitas on the cooling rack (2-3 will fit), and place the cooling rack directly into the oven. Bake the pitas at 500 degrees for 4-5 minutes, or until the puffed up tops begin to brown slightly. Take them out of the oven and immediately cover with the damp towel again. Repeat this until all of the pitas are baked. After they cool, cut or break them in half.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Red Velvet Bundt Cake

I made this a couple of weeks ago for an OSC event. I was really glad I took it somewhere to share it because my waistline would be in grave danger if this thing was sitting around the house. It was really moist/dense/scrumptious. 

For the cake:
2 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
1 oz red food coloring
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp cocoa powder

For the icing:
1 package Neufchatel cream cheese
1 stick unsalted butter
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup milk

Mix the eggs until smooth, and then add the remaining wet ingredients. Add flour 1 cup at a time followed by remaining dry ingredients. Bake it in a greased bundt pan for about 50 minutes at 325 degrees. Cool it in the pan on a wire rack until completely cool. Run a knife around the edge before turning out on the serving plate. 

To make icing, blend all ingredients until smooth. Pour it over the cooled cake. I had a lot leftover, so you could ice the whole cake instead of drizzling.

Easy Hummus

At several parties and events I've been to recently, there's been hummus that I just couldn't get enough of! I asked my friend for her recipe, and she sent me the link to a Food Network recipe. No wonder it was so good! I didn't have some of the ingredients on hand, but I had most of them, so I gave it a shot. Luke was gone at the time, and I finished it on my own pretty quickly :) the recipe below is what I used, and the Food Network link is copied below that! I blended it all in my Cuisinart chopper, and it barely fit. I had to grab a few carrots to scrap some off of the side of my chopper ;-)

2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 1/2 teaspoon salted 
1/2 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup water
Paprika, as desired

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