Saturday, March 29, 2008

Fresh Mozzarella Penne Pasta

Our daughter made this for us on one of our recent visits. It was really yummy! It's a nice, fresh pasta dish that I think works especially well as we head into spring and (finally!) warmer weather. Roma tomatoes weren't available so she used regular ones, and it was great.

Fresh Mozzarella Penne Pasta
8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into small cubes
3 medium tomatoes or 5 to 6 Roma tomatoes, peeled and diced
2 avocados, peeled, pitted and diced
3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 teaspoons crushed red pepper or to taste
1 (16-ounce) package uncooked penna pasta
Freshly grated parmesan cheese

In a large bowl, toss mozzarella cheese with tomatoes, avocados, garlic, olive oil, basil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and red pepper. Let stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and return to pan to keep warm. Add tomato mixture and toss to coat thoroughly. Transfer onto individual serving plates and garnish with parmesan cheese.

Makes 4 servings.

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Culinary Arsonist

Our family, especially hubby, is big on puns and loves to make a play on words. [The youth group even dubbed puns "Ivanisms" in his honor.] So we weren't surprised when he came up with a new descriptive phrase for Daughter: culinary arsonist.

No, this isn't a reference to that unfortunate incident last year when she melted the stove hood and singed the kitchen curtains.

As you may remember, she's a foodie and now works at an upscale restaurant. Her boss loves that Daughter is exceptionally good at selling their weekly specials (generally quite expensive) and asked how she does it. Surprised by the question, Daughter replied, "Why, I just tell them about it!" But don't all the servers tell customers about the specials? Of course. So why is she selling more than the other, more experienced, servers? Simple. She really gets into describing how the food is prepared and her enthusiasm is contagious. She gets people all fired up about the food. Hence, she's a culinary arsonist :-)

There was a lot of cooking and eating going on at our house this weekend. It's what our family does best. On Saturday we finished off a pan of moussaka, big bowl of salad, croissants and a pan of chocolate pudding cake served with Breyers vanilla. Sunday it was maple glazed ham, mashed potatoes, peas, salad and Amish baked apples with homemade whipped cream. And tonight there was one piece of lasagna left in the pan at the end of the meal but everything else was "over" as our Ugandan friends would say.

I'm guessing we weren't alone in our gluttony filled holiday weekend. So what did your family have?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Sunnyside Egg & Sausage Casserole

I'm sharing a great B&B recipe for Easter breakfast that uses up some of those hard boiled eggs your family has colored. Like everything I share, it's quick and easy to put together. And, oh yes, it is oh so yummy!

1 pound hot sausage
6 to 8 hard-boiled eggs
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1 1/2 cups grated cheese (sharp)
Slice eggs and place in buttered casserole dish. Cook and drain sausage. Spread over eggs. Spread sour cream over sausage. Combine cheese and breadcrumbs and sprinkle over sour cream. Bake 20 to 30 minutes @ 350 degrees until bubbly. Serves 6.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Amish Baked Apples

We live in a rural area with a lot of Amish. Boy, can they cook! And this is one of my favorite Amish recipes. The resulting sauce tastes like caramel and there's always extra that I save to top ice cream at other times.

This is melt-in-your-mouth, oh-my-goodness, how-did-I-live-without-this delicious!

And it's quick to put together which is always a plus on busy days when company is coming!

Amish Baked Apples

4 very large or 6 medium size apples
1-1/4 cups brown sugar
scant 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
3/4 cups water
2 Tablespoons butter
vanilla ice cream (optional but highly recommended!)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Core and quarter apples [I have an apple peeler/corer so I use that instead]. Place apples in 3-quart buttered baking dish.

Combine brown sugar, flour, and salt in small bowl. Stir in lemon juice and water and pour mixture over apples. Dot with butter, sprinkle with cinnamon (add as much or as little as you want).

Bake uncovered for one hour, basting twice. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Easy Tiramisu

Last night we had a little celebration in honor of my BIL's birthday. Sort of last minute planning so I made a simple but very yummy dessert: Tiramisu

I've used a variety of recipes over the years, and it can get pretty complicated. But I found this VERY EASY recipe online yesterday and quite honestly, it's my favorite version so far.

Tiramisu is my family's ABSOLUTELY FAVORITE dessert, bar none.
Easy Tiramisu
1 lb. low fat cream cheese (you can use regular if you don't mind the calories but DO NOT use fat free; tried that, not pretty)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup granulated sugar
20 lady's fingers (a light, oblong Italian cookie with powdered sugar on one side)
OR: pound cake cut into ½ inch thick slices
2-3 Tablespoons cocoa powder to dust
1 ½ to 2 cups of prepared very strong coffee
2 Tablespoons sugar
shavings of dark chocolate to top

Chill whipping cream and bowl.
Mix coffee and sugar and chill.
Whip the whipping cream until it reaches stiff peaks.
Mix cream cheese and sugar in medium bowl until smooth. (Add more sugar as desired.)
Fold in the whipped cream to create the cheese mixture.
Soak lady fingers (or pound cake slices) in coffee for a couple seconds, rotating to coat all sides. Place one layer on bottom of an 8x8-in. pan.
Spread half the cheese mixture on top. Smooth with a spatula or spoon.
Sift half the cocoa powder on surface of layer.
Apply second layer of lady fingers (or pound cake) and remaining cheese.
Sift remaining cocoa powder and top with chocolate shavings.
Cover in plastic wrap and chill until ready to serve.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Honey Mustard Chicken

1/2 cup liquid honey
1/4 cup dijon mustard
1/2 t. curry powder
2 T. melted butter
4 boneless chicken breasts
bread crumbs to coat
salt and pepper

Combine honey, mustard, curry powder and butter. Coat each piece of chicken with this mixture, then roll in bread crumbs. Salt and pepper to taste. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

Easy to double, triple, whatever, depending on the size of your family. Takes about 5 minutes to put together and 45 minutes to bake, so less than an hour from start to finish.