Friday, December 31, 2010

Mozzarella, Raspberry and Brown Sugar Panini

I found this in a magazine as part of a bunch of brunch recipes by Giada De Laurentis - it's good!! This is her recipe word for word from the magazine - I'll tell you my substitutions at the end.
I had to take a picture of my rosemary. One of my good friends has an ENORMOUS rosemary bush in her front yard (like 5 feet around and 3 feet high!) and I go over to her house to cut fresh rosemary when I need it - it's like living next door to Ina Garten:)
Mozzarella, Raspberry and Brown Sugar Panini

8 (1/2-inch thick) slices bakery-style white bread
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup raspberry jam
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
8 ounces (2 balls) fresh mozzarella, drained and patted dry
Kosher salt, optional
2 tablespoons light brown sugar

Preheat the panini press.
Using a pastry brush, brush the bread on both sides with the oil. Spread 1 side of each slice of bread with the raspberry jam. Sprinkle the rosemary over the jam. Cut the mozzarella into 8 slices. Place 2 slices of cheese on 4 of the bread slices. Season the cheese with a pinch of salt, if using. Place the remaining slices of bread on top, jam-side down. Sprinkle the tops with the brown sugar. Press in the panini press for 3 to 5 minutes until the cheese has melted and the bread is golden and crispy.
Cut the panini in half and serve.
*Instead of raspberry jam, I used Roasted Raspberry Chipotle sauce (the one I love and post about all the time!)
Also, if you don't have a panini press, you can cook it on the stove top in a sautee pan with a heavy pan on top to get that 'squished' effect, some people even use bricks wrapped in aluminum foil to weigh their sandwiches down.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Pumped Up Bean Dip

My 7 year old (crazy picky eater) requests only a few things when I ask him what he would choose for dinner. Top Ramen, Shell macaroni or bean burritos - then he specifies "just beans and a tortilla - remember that Mom"
Since I am not the kind of Mom that likes to cook out of a box, so I am constantly challenging his pallet. This one is a winner - even for him:)

Pumped Up Bean Dip
1 can black beans
1 can pinto beans
1 can refried beans
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 c sour cream
1 package taco seasoning mix
1 c cheddar cheese, shredded
1 c Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
1 medium onion, chopped

In a large microwave the cream cheese and sour cream for about 30 seconds to soften them up and make them easier to blend together. Then add all other ingredients and combine them together. Put it into an 8x8” casserole dish. Bake for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

I usually serve this as a dip with chips – but my kids often request this in a warmed up tortilla served burrito style.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Raspberry Chipotle Tacos

I made these the other night and they were such a delicious spin on your run of the mill taco's.
Raspberry Chipotle Tacos
3 or 4 chicken breasts
Fischer & Weiser Roasted Raspberry Chipotle Sauce*

Add ingredients to your crockpot. Make sure you use enough sauce to cover the chicken completely. Cook on low for 6 hours or on high for 3 hours. About 30 minutes before you are ready to eat, shred chicken and add shredded chicken back into the sauce.

Serve in a taco sauce or flour tortilla and top with all your favs. I topped mine with sour cream, lettuce, tomatoes, avocado and shredded cheddar. Delish.

*I use this sauce all the time. I buy it at Costco. It's the perfect quick appetizer for unexpected guests - just put out a brick of cream cheese and pour the sauce right on top. Serve with tortilla chips. I've used it in several other applications - a definite must buy and try.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Eve Menu

We have a great arrangement between my extended family and my husbands extended family for Christmas. We spend Christmas Eve with my husbands family, Christmas morning at home with the kiddos and Christmas afternoon/dinner with my family.

Every Christmas Eve for the last 15 years we have gone to dinner with my husbands extended family to Olive Garden. They are a big Italian family and that is a tradition they've had.

Since I love tradition, but I'd rather spend our money on gifts and fun rather than food - we are going to keep the spirit of that tradition alive by having an "Italian Dinner" for Christmas Eve.

I asked my hubs and kids to tell me what he would order if we were going to go to Olive Garden so I could recreate that at home.

On The Menu:
Italian Salad
Garlic Breadsticks
3 Cheese Tortellini & Bechamel Sauce with Prosciutto
Mizithra Cheese & Browned Butter Pasta

3 Cheese Tortellini & Bechamel Sauce with Prosciutto

Here is my stand by Bechamel sauce with prosciutto - via Giada DeLaurentis - the Italian queen of cooking.
3 Cheese Tortellini & Bechamel Sauce with Prosciutto
Bechamel sauce:
1 stick unsalted butter (4 ounces)
1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 quart whole milk, at room temperature
Pinch fresh nutmeg
Sea salt and white pepper
1 cup grated fontina
1/2 pound thinly sliced prosciutto, julienned
Fresh Butoni 3 cheese tortellini (in your refrigerated section)

Bechamel sauce:
In a 2 quart saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until smooth, about 2 minutes. Always stirring, gradually add the milk and continue to whisk until the sauce is smooth and creamy. Simmer until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. This will take approximately 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in nutmeg, 1/2 cup fontina, prosciutto and season with salt and white pepper. Set aside.

In a large pot, bring to a boil 6 quarts of salted water. Cook the tortellini according to package directions. Drain tortellini and fold gently into bechamel sauce. DOUBLE YUM!

Christmas Dinner Menu

This is the first year that we won't be "home for the holiday's" Hubs and I were both born and raised in Salt Lake City, but relocated out of state 2 years ago.

I have eaten the same Christmas Dinner (for the most part) for as long as I can remember. Seriously. I am big on tradition so I love the idea that this year I am going to stick with tradition.
Here are the 'traditional dishes' on the menu:
Honey Baked Ham
Funeral Potatoes
Isabelle's Thanksgiving Rolls

and the addition of Onion Beet Salad this year!

I'm super excited!! What are you making for dinner??

Onion Beet Salad

I am going to post my recipes for Christmas Dinner - but I wanted to include something on the lighter side to go with dinner. I poured over blogs, cookbooks, recipe sites and finally found a salad that sounds like it'll fit the bill. Not too heavy, but not just a plain green salad either. I found it in my new recipe book Taste of Home 2008 Annual Recipes (that I got for the bargain price of $5!! Love that!)

As I've said before - my family had no idea how much we adored beets until we tried this salad at a BBQ. I make that salad all the time - even the kids love the beets. So when I found a new recipe featuring beets - I was jazzed! When you roast or grill them they are tender and a bit sweet - and seasoned with EVOO, salt and pepper - they are super delish!!

Onion Beet Salad
12 whole fresh beets (about 2 1/2 lbs), peeled and halved
5 T EVOO, divided
1 large red onion, chopped
1/2 c balsamic vinegar
1/3 red wine vinegar
1/4 c sugar
1 T salt
1 t dried basil
1/2 t pepper

Place beets in a large resealable plastic bag; add 2 Tbsp oil. Seal bag and shake to coat. Place an 18" x 12" piece of heavy duty foil in a 15" x 10" x 1" baking pan. Arrange beets on foil; fold foil over beets and seal tightly. Bake at 400 degrees for 1 - 1 1/2 hours or until tender. (If you are doing this on the grill - wrap in foil and grill on medium heat for about the same amount of time.)
Cool to room temp. cut beets into cubes; place in a large bowl. Add onion. In a small bowl, whisk the vinegars, sugar, salt, basil, pepper and remaining oil. Pour over beet misture and gently toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, stirring several times. Serve with slotted spoon.
*I pulled the beets off the grill (that's that way to go baby) diced them and served them up with the onions and dressing - I didn't even let them sit a full hour and they were delish! The only warning I'd give you is that beets can stain - so be careful working with them:)

*Made this for Christmas dinner and LOVED it!! My 7 year old picky eater even ate the beets! Yum, yum!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Grilled Cheese Pizza Style

I was all out of ideas on what to make for dinner. My husband and I decided that I'd just make something easy and quick for the kids - and that we'd eat something delicious later in the evening. What did I do? Check our little food blog of course! And just like every time, I was inpired!!

Krystal gave us the original post and just as she promised - it was quick, easy and delicious! You can see her original post HERE

Grilled Cheese Pizza Style
Pizza topping (I used ham b/c that's what I had - but you can let your imagination go wild)
Bread - I used a ciabatta loaf cut length wise through the middle but you can use regular sandwich bread, french bread, etc.
Marinara Sauce

Butter butter on the down side of your bread. I used my George Foreman to make this "panini" style. Layer with cheese and ham (or whatever) the top with another slice of bread and butter that as well. Cook until cheese is nice and melted. Heat up your marinara sauce and serve in little bowls on the side for dipping!!

*One thing I wish I would've done differently - I should've layered cheese, doubled the ham and topped with another layer of cheese - that way both the top and bottom slices of bread "stick" together.

**As I said earlier - my hubs and I planned to eat something a bit more 'adult' later, but when my husband smelled what I was cooking - he couldn't resist. We ended up eating along with our kiddos and it was DELISH! My picky eater (Mr. 7 year old) even had seconds!!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Jack's 3 Bean Soup

Twice a month each of my kids is chosen to make dinner for the family. Today was my 7 year old Jack's turn. Since "Jack Dinner" has been listed on the chore board all week, he's been thinking about what to make. Tonight, I gave him 3 options of what to make for dinner (always easy - as I am the sous chef). He said "actually, I've been thinking about what I'd like to make. I have some ingredient ideas already and then we can figure the rest out together." ALRIGHT!
He is a creative little kiddo so I was interested in hearing what he was thinking about tonight's menu. His ingredient list was: black beans, pinto beans, corn & taco seasoning. He thought of those ingredients because "I really like bean burritos and tacos" yet another idea was "since it snowed today (never snows here!) I think it should be a warm soup" so far so good! This is what we came up with - and it was good!

I served his in our "Super Star" bowl - because what a little super star!

Jack's 3 Bean Soup
1 medium onion, diced
2 T butter
1 can black beans
1 can pinto beans
1 can kidney beans
2 cans (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
2 cans (or 15 oz) corn - we used frozen
4 c chicken broth
1 packet taco seasoning
crunched up tortilla chips

Add butter and diced onion to your stock pot. Cook until the onion is tender and transparent. Add black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, tomatoes, corn, chicken broth and taco seasoning. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 20 minutes.

The last 2 minutes or so, add the crunched up tortilla chips (a little trick I learned from Rachael Ray) the starch will thicken up the broth a bit and add salt.

Serve with shredded cheddar, sour cream or whatever you want on top!

*Vegetarian option if you use veggie broth instead of chicken broth.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas Goody Plates

I NEVER bake. It's true. For the last 8 years of my life, I have only made a handful of cookies, desserts what have you. Not b/c I don't L-OOOO-VE them, but b/c my little kiddos have a vast amount of food allergies - mainly dealing with eggs and nuts - of which you can find in pretty much every baked goodie on the planet.

BUT... this year I have resolved to bake a bunch of Christmas goodies for me and my neighbors. The kids all love to cook - so I know we'll get some good fun in while we make goodies for our friends and neighbors. Can you see how I am multi-tasking?? Bonding while baking while teaching my little ones about sharing and caring. I am such a nerd.

Anyway... I have a few ideas - but I'd love for you to post or comment recipes that you love or that you make every holiday season!! Help a non-bakarella out!!

So Far This Is My List:
Neiman Marcus Cookies
Brown Butter Macadamia Nut Cookies
Mrs. Fields Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars

In the Christmas spirit - let's share for all our sakes!!

Neiman Marcus Cookies

I got this recipe from my little sister who is the "bakerella" of our family. The following recipe makes a HUGE batch - I often cut it in half.

Neiman Marcus Cookies
2 c butter
4 c flour
2 t baking soda
2 c granulated sugar
2 c brown sugar
5 c oatmeal (measure oatmeal and blend in blender to a fine powder)
24 oz. chocolate chips
1 t salt
1 8oz Hershey bar (grated)
4 eggs
2 t baking powder
3 c chopped nuts (your choice)
2 t vanilla

Cream the butter and both sugars. add eggs and vanilla; mix together with flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Add chocolate chips, Hershey bar and nuts. Roll into balls and place 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees. Full recipe makes 112 cookies!!!

*I'll post pics when I make them next week.

Mrs. Fields Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars

Mrs. Fields Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars
8 medium butter cookies
1/4 c melted butter
Chocolate layers:
2 1/2 c Milk choc chips(15 oz)
Peanut butter filling:
1 1/2 c Creamy peanut butter
1/2 c Salted butter; softened
3 c Confectioners’ sugar
2 ts Pure vanilla extract

Crush butter cookies until finely ground. Add butter & mix. Press crumb
mixture into bottom of 8×8 baking pan & bake 10 mins. at 325 F. Cool to
room temperature.

Melt chocolate either by using your microwave or by using the double boiler method. Pour half of the chocolate into pan & smooth evenly over the crust. Place pan of crumb mixture and thin chocolate layer in fridge to cool. Keep remaining chocolate warm.

Blend peanutbutter & butter together until smooth using electric mixer. Slowly beat in confectioners’ sugar & vanilla. Beat until smooth. Spread that mixture over the chilled chocolate & crumb layer.

Pour remaining warm chocolate over top & spread smoothly. Chill in refrigerator for at least one hour. Yields 24-36 bars.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sour Cream Cucumber Salad

I can't remember where I got this recipe either! It must be December... anyway - it was good!
Sour Cream Cucumber Salad
2 seedless cucumbers, peeled and cut into 6-inch lengths
1/4 cup(s) sour cream
1 shallot, minced
1/2 tablespoon(s) Champagne vinegar (I used rice wine vinegar)
Freshly ground white pepper
2 tablespoon(s) chopped dill

Using a julienne slicer, cut the cucumbers lengthwise into spaghetti-like strips, stopping when you get to the watery centers. In a bowl, sprinkle the cucumbers with salt and knead gently to soften. Rinse the cucumbers and squeeze out any excess moisture.

In a bowl, whisk the sour cream with the shallot and vinegar. Season with salt and white pepper, fold in the cucumber and dill, and serve.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Dinner Backfire

Funny dinner story on my family blog - I tried to challenge my picky eater and it totally backfired... check it out at

Divine Shrimp Pasta

I can't remember where I got this recipe - but it's been in my arsenal for years. I am surprised that I haven't posted it yet - I make it so often that I probably assumed I already shared it with you!!

My husband ranks this dish in his 'top 10'. I really need a new camera - mine is so old that the pictures I take of my food just don't do justice. The sauce on this is a nice light red color - so don't worry if your dish looks different than the picture - it's my camera - it's not you:)

Divine Shrimp Pasta
1 lb pre-cooked, peeled and deveined shrimp
2 cloves minced garlic
3 T butter
1 box pasta (I usually use penne or spagetti - whatever I've got)
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 c chicken broth
8 oz tomato sauce
1 c heavy cream
1 T parsley
1 T basil
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, heat 2 T butter and 2 T EVOO in skillet to cook onion and garlic. Add chicken broth and let cook for a couple minutes. Add tomato paste sauce then heavy cream.

Thaw shrimp by running them under cold water,drain and take the tails off. In a seperate bowl, melt 1 T butter, add 1 T EVOO. Toss shrimp in the butter and oil. Then add shrimp, herbs, salt and pepper. Stir to combine then add pasta to the mix. Serve.

*If you use raw shrimp: Saute shrimp in 1 T butter and 1 T EVOO just until they are warm - and nice and pink.


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