Friday, January 29, 2010

Italian Sausage Rigatoni with a Creamy White Sauce

While I was watching the Rachel Ray show the other day she made this little gem. I changed a few things, but all in all it's an AWESOME pasta dish! I love the combination of red sauce with white sauce. If you don't like white cheddar, you can substitute with any white cheese you like...actually she used sharp provolone. So be creative to your own taste. This one is definitely a hit!

1/3 pound bacon
1 pound Italian Style sausage
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 t crushed red pepper
1/2 t paprika
1/2 t seasoned salt
1 bell pepper, diced
1/2-1 onion (depending on how much you like)
1 (6oz) small can tomato paste
1/4 cup tomato sauce
2 cups chicken broth
1 (28oz) can Italian Style diced tomatoes

White Sauce:
4 T butter
3 T flour
3 cups milk
2 cups white cheddar cheese (I used Tillamok Vintage White cheddar cheese)
Salt and Pepper to taste
dash of nutmeg

Cut bacon into little bites and brown in pan. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.

To the same skillet, add 1 T olive oil and heat until oil smokes. Add pork and brown a couple of minutes over high heat. Reduce heat a bit and add in red pepper, paprika and seasoned salt. Cook 3-4 minutes more then remove and add to the plate with reserved bacon.

Add another T olive oil to the same skillet and heat. Add in peppers, onions and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and cook 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until tender. Stir in tomato paste, cook 1 minute then stir in chicken broth. Add tomatoes and then stir all the reserved meat back into sauce. Simmer to thicken over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.

While the sauce simmers, bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil for the pasta and make white sauce: In a sauce pot over medium heat, melt butter. Whisk in flour, cook a minute or 2 then add milk and cook until it's thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.Stir in shredded cheese.

Place rack in center of oven and preheat broiler.

Cook rigatoni to al dente in salted water. Drain and toss with thickened ragu and place in a casserole dish.

Pour white sauce over top of casserole in an even layer. Place casserole in oven on center rack and brown. DELICIOUS!

*Adapted from Rachel Ray

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Zesty Chicken Burritos

Such a refreshing twist on traditional burritos! Now this sour cream sauce is TO DIE FOR and MUST be used!!! I got rave reviews from this person even said there is an addicting ingredient in there that you just can't put your finger on. I made 20 and they were LONG gone by the time dinner was over. Get ready to make TONS because they go fast! There are so many components to these burritos that you can't go wrong!

Spanish Rice recipe (found here) - This recipe just called for regular rice with cheese melted into it, but this spanish rice recipe is just WAY too good and I definitely recommend using it for this recipe.

1/2 yellow onion, diced
Olive Oil for sauteing
1 - 15 ounce can Ro-Tel Diced Tomatoes with Green Chiles
2-3 cups cooked chicken, shredded
1 teaspoon Oregano
1 teaspoon Chile powder
1 can Refried Beans, heated
Burrito size Tortillas
1-2 cups Sharp Cheddar, shredded, for serving

Sour Cream Sauce:
4 oz cream cheese
3/4 cup sour cream
1 T chopped fresh cilantro
lime juice

Cook rice according to package directions. Add the cheese in at the very end. Put the lid on the pan and allow it to melt. Stir until combined well. If it gets too thick add a tablespoon of milk and stir. (This is where I used the Spanish rice recipe instead.)

Saute the onion in the Olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet until soft and tender. Add the Ro-tel including the juices, the chicken, oregano and Chile Powder. Heat through. (I let this simmer for about 10 or so minutes so the juices soaked into the chicken.)

To make the sauce soften the cream cheese in the microwave, whisk in the sour cream, a generous squeeze of lime juice and the cilantro.

To prepare the tortillas, make sure they are warm and pliable so that they don't tear when rolling them up. I do this by opening the bag and putting the whole bag in the microwave for about 45 seconds, removing tortillas one at a time.

To assemble:

Put a strip of re fried beans down the center, top with chicken, rice, cheese, and a few dollops of sour cream sauce. Fold in the ends and roll up. Brown on each side in a skillet over medium-low heat sprayed with baking spray.

Serve with more sour cream sauce and any other sides that you like. Enjoy!!

*I doubled the recipe and got about 20 burritos. I also used a can of Mexican Stewed tomatoes along with the Ro-Tel tomatoes. I had to add a bit of salt to the chicken mixture because I thought it needed it. So use your own discretion. I fried them up in a large electric skillet so I could do 6-7 at a time and then put them in the oven set at 170 degrees until we were ready to eat. They would be awesome to freeze also - if you want - before you fry them up.

*Adapted from Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Pizza Roll-Up

This is such a fun spin on traditional pizza!! It was super easy to eat....especially for our 2 year old. I was skeptical if it would cook all the way through or not, but it turned out perfect! I will definitely be making this again!

1 recipe quick pizza dough, found here
Any toppings you like for your pizza (we chose the traditional pepperoni and cheese)
1 T olive oil
1 egg

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface.
It should be a large rectangle, about 12x16 inches and about 1/4 inch thick.

Arrange any toppings you like for your pizza. We just did the traditional pepperoni with sauce, mozzarella and pepperoni. Just make sure that you don't go overboard on the toppings or it won't cook all the way through.

Roll the dough into a thin cylinder, gently tucking in the ends. Brush the entire roll with 1 T Olive oil and 1 egg beaten together and season with the salt & pepper, Italian seasoning and more cheese if you like (I used shredded Asiago...can't beat it folks!)

Place the dough, seam-side down, on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes until the top is golden brown.

Cool the roll for 5 minutes, then use a serrated knife to cut it into 3/4-inch slices. Serve with extra pizza sauce if you like. Enjoy!!

*Adapted from Two Peas in Their Pod.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Homemade Soft Pretzels

I was browsing for something to make to enjoy on our relaxing Sunday and found these. I've been wanted to make soft pretzels for years now, but was too skeptical of my abilities and didn't want to be let down. These are DIVINE!!! I might have to say that they are BETTER than anything you can buy at the mall!! And surprisingly they were super easy and turned out just as the recipe said they would. I love those kinds of recipes!

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 T sugar
2 t Kosher salt
1 package active dry yeast
4 cups flour (approximately)
1/2 cube butter, melted
vegetable oil
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 T water
Pretzel salt

Combine water, sugar and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer (I used my Kitchen Aid.) Sprinkle yeast on top and stir very slightly. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes until mixture begins to foam. Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until combined. Change to medium speed and knead until dough is smooth and pulls away from the sides of the bowl (this usually takes several minutes.) Remove dough from the bowl and in a new bowl, oil the sides with vegetable oil. Place dough in the oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap and put in a warm place for about an hour until the dough has doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper and lightly oil them and set aside.

Bring 10 cups of water and baking soda to a rolling boil.

In the meantime, turn the dough onto a lightly oiled surface and divide into 8 equal parts. Roll out each piece into a 24 inch rope. Make a U shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press them into the bottom of the U shape in order to make the shape of a pretzel.

Place pretzels into boiling water, one at a time, for 30 seconds each. Remove them from the water with a large, flat spatula. Place on parchment paper and oil lined cookie sheet. Brush each top with egg yolk and water and then sprinkle with salt, cinnamon and sugar, or any other topping you like. Bake until dark, golden brown in color, about 12 minutes. Transfer to cooling rack.

*When I let any yeast dough rise, I usually turn my oven on to the lowest setting and wait until it gets to about 110 degrees and then shut it off. Then I put my dough in there, usually covered with plastic wrap, and it rises perfectly EVERY time. I don't know about you guys...but it took me a while to figure out how not to completely butcher yeast recipes!

*Adapted from The Food Network

Friday, January 22, 2010

Smoked Turkey and Artichoke Panini

Jenna introduced me to this GEM over a month or so ago and I instantly became obsessed!! I didn't think I could make paninis because I didn't have a panini maker, but it turns out it doesn't matter! I just put them in my George Foreman and they are TO DIE FOR!!! I would say on an average week...I have this 2-3 times. It's a staple.

1 loaf rustic (crisp on the outside, soft on the inside) Artisan bread
1 jar marinated artichoke hearts
1 jar roasted red peppers
Provolone cheese
thinly sliced turkey breast
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Garlic-herb sandwich spread (recipe follows)

Garlic-herb sandwich spread
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/2 T lemon juice
zest from 1/2 lemon
1/2-1 t Italian seasoning

Spread garlic herb mayo over each side of bread. Place cheese on each side also. Pile on turkey breast on along with several slices roasted red pepper and artichoke hearts on one side of the bread. Brush each side with olive oil and place on grill until crisp and golden brown on both sides.
Enjoy the intoxication!!!

*From Our Best Bites
*For easy making, I just make the mayo, which by the way is GREAT on any sandwich, and put it in a container so I can just whip this sandwich out in an instant at any point of the day. It's incredibly easy and you MUST try!!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Creamy Salsa Chicken

If you are looking for a super delicious and super simple dinner...this is the one! I made this for a bunch of people for our Thursday dinner and it was AMAZING!!! Everyone loved it! It's a definite keeper.

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 8oz cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cup favorite salsa
1-2 cups sharp cheddar cheese or Mexican cheese blend

Place chicken in a baking dish in an even layer. In a separate bowl mix cream cheese and salsa. Pour over chicken. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes and then sprinkle cheese on top. Bake another 30 minutes uncovered. Enjoy!!! This does not disappoint!

*There will be a heavenly sauce that is created. When serving, dish up chicken with an extra spoonful (or 2) of the divine sauce. I like to serve it with Spanish Rice (and put a little more sauce over the top of the rice...yes folks, it's that good!)