Saturday, March 20, 2010

sPiNaCh-ArTiChOkE mAc & ChEeSe

I love pretty much all things that include in their title spinach-artichoke, be it a dip of some kind, a pasta, or any other edible creation. So it was no surprise that my mouth literally started to water when I saw Rachael Ray do this one on her show. I immediately put it at the top of my list of "recipes to try" and added the ingredients to my grocery list. I was able to use two kinds of cheese I've never cooked with before, and make yet another trip to my favorite Cheese Kingdom at Harmon's. It was a BIG hit with Dick, and it's a good thing we always have plenty of leftovers because I'm sure this one would have been fought over for lunch the next day if there was only enough for one. It was simple to make, and tasted fantastic! I hope you love it just as much as we did.

Spinach-Artichoke Mac & Cheese
From Rachael Ray

1 lb semolina or whole wheat penne
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp flour
1/2 c. white wine, or chicken broth
2 c. milk
freshly grated nutmeg, to taste (I used dried w/ good results)
1 10-oz box frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and wrung dry in a clean kitchen towel
1 10-oz box frozen chopped artichokes, defrosted and wrung dry in a clean kitchen towel
black pepper
1 1/2 c. shredded Italian Fontina cheese, plus additional for sprinkling on top
1 1/2 c. grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, plus additional for sprinkling on top

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil for pasta, salt water & cook pasta to al dente.
2. While the pasta water comes to a boil, place a medium pot over med-low heat w/ 2 turns of the pan of EVOO, ~2 Tbsp, and the butter. Add the onion & garlic to the pan and cook the veggies until very soft, ~10 min. Then heat the broiler and position rack in the middle of the oven.
3. Turn the heat up to med-high and sprinkle the flour into the pan. Cook for ~1 min. then whisk the wine/broth into the pan, cooking for another minute to burn off the alcohol. Whisk the milk into the pan and bring up to a bubble. Add the nutmeg, spinach, artichokes, salt & pepper to the sauce and simmer until thickened and vegetables are warmed through, 2-3 min. more. Add 1 cup of each of the cheeses to the sauce & stir until melted.
4. Toss the prepared sauce w/ the cooked pasta and transfer to a casserole dish. sprinkle some more cheese over the top and back until the cheese has melted and the top is golden brown, ~25 minutes.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Semi-Homemade: Shepherd's Pie

This is the easiest Sunday dinner you will ever make, and it tastes fantastic, so there's no need to feel guilty that you didn't slave the day away in the kitchen! All of these ingredients are things that you'll actually have in your pantry - I hate when you get a recipe that makes you think it'll be a cinch, but then you have to spend an hour at the grocery store looking for weird ingredients you've only heard of in Kitchen Stadium. Shepherd's Pie is a true classic comfort food, and definitely something that you can play around with - add some more veggies, or select your fave condensed soup for a different flavor. And in the spirit of Sandra Lee, go for simplicity! Semi-homemade is the way to go, for sure!
Shepherd's Pie
From my Momma: Janet Porter

1 can green beans, drained
1 can condensed tomato soup
1 lb. lean ground turkey, cooked
2 c. mashed potatoes (I used instant)
3/4 c. shredded cheddar cheese
Seasonings of choice
1. In a large mixing bowl, combine green beans, ground turkey & tomato soup. Mix well.
2. Pour mixture into prepared casserole dish.
3. Sprinkle cheese over bean-turkey mixture.
4. Spread mashed potatoes over top of the bean-turkey mixture.
5. Bake 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees. Soup will be bubbling up through the potatoes.
Serve & enjoy!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Blue-Cran Salad

It's true: I love cheese. In fact, I just informed Dick the other day that my new life goal is to be the Cheese Lady at Harmon's (a local chain of grocery stores here in UT). Might not sound very ambitious to some, but those who turn their nose up at this have probably never visited the Cheese Kingdom at Harmon's. It's not officially named the Cheese Kingdom, but that's what I like to call it. It's a huge circle counter with a hole in it, and a lady stands in the middle (the Cheese Lady). On this counter is every kind of cheese you can imagine. The likes of which you'll never find at your run of the mill grocer. This special lady will answer any of your cheese questions, and she'll even give you samples! Now tell me this all you cheese lovers out there, does that not sound like a great way to spend your days?! Ok, ok, so I probably won't be switching professions any time soon, but one can dream haha
Speaking of cheese....if you like blue cheese, you're going to love this salad! Blue cheese is great on its own, but throw in some dried cranberries and you are in Heaven, my friends. Spinach is my leafy green of choice (I like to know I'm getting some nutrients in my salads!), but you can use Romaine or another lettuce if you'd like. And, although the pictures don't show it, I did toss it with a little poppyseed dressing. Super easy. Super tasty! Hope you like it.

Blue-Cran Salad
From Yours Truly
(For 1 serving)
2 c. baby spinach, washed and trimmed
1/4 c. blue cheese crumbles
1/4 c. dried cranberries
1/4 c. chopped pecans or walnuts
2 Tbsp poppyseed dressing
Place the spinach in a salad bowl. Sprinkle blue cheese, cranberries, and nuts over spinach. Drizzle with dressing and toss lightly.

Monday, March 8, 2010

"It tastes healthy"...Rice & Black Bean Pilaf

It's just natural for me to ask the same question every time I try a new recipe: "What do you think?" And usually Dick gives me something along the lines of "It's great," "I love it," or "Mmmmmmm," and a couple of times he's broken the news that he doesn't really like it by saying, "Ummm, it's ok, but not my favorite." Don't worry, you haven't seen any of those recipes haha! His reaction to this dish threw me off a little, though. I asked, and he said, "It's really good, but it tastes healthy." Is that a bad thing? He reassured me that NO it is not a bad thing. More than tasting healthy, he explained that its a dish that makes him feel healthy while eating it. I really liked it, and so did he, so I'm taking that comment as a good thing. The flavor was great, and yes, it is a healthy dish! I think you're going to love it. And maybe when you cook it for your guy, he'll get the same healthy satisfaction Dick did. Enjoy!
Rice & Black Bean Pilaf
From Ellie Krieger of the Food Network

1 c. brown rice, uncooked
2 1/4 c. low sodium chicken broth
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. fresh chopped oregano, or 1 tsp. dried oregano
1 stalk celery, finely diced
1 large carrot, finely diced
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. dried chili flakes
1 (15.5 oz) can low-sodium black beans, drained & rinsed
2 tsp. finely chopped parsely leaves
Place the rice and broth in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook rice, covered, until tender and all the liquid is absorbed, 30-35 min. Remove from heat, uncover, and fluff w/ a fork.
Heat the oil in a large saute pan over med-high heat. Add onions and cook until onions are soft and translucent, ~5 min. Add garlic, oregano, celery, carrot, cumin and chili flakes and cook, stirring occasionally, until carrots are tender but not mushy, ~6 min. Stir in black beans and cook until just warmed through, ~1-2 min.
Combine onion-black bean mixture and hot rice in a serving bowl and toss to combine. Garnish w/ parsely.

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