August 17, 2010

Baked Ziti

I forgot to take a picture of this one, but as you can see it was a big hit. This dish is so popular with the hubs that I am absolutely sick of it and have refused to make it again (at least for a few months). However, you should make it because it is quite good. I first discovered this dish while watching an interview between Rachael Ray and Raven Simone. Surprisingly, it is Raven's recipe not Rachael's. However, I have altered it a bit and made it so many times that it is basically my own. This dish is not hard to make at all. It is kind of messy and you have to time everything out well. I have the timing perfected, but if my method is too confusing just do one thing at a time and you will be fine. This is a great recipe to serve for guests, because it feeds so many! I have put the full version on here. It makes a lot! You could reduce it very easily, but I usually just make a full batch and freeze it or give it to someone else.

Baked Ziti
2 jars Spaghetti Sauce with roasted garlic (I use Prego Roasted Garlic & Herb)
1 small onion, chopped
1 1 lb. block of mozzarella cheese (not fresh mozzarella) or 1/2 lb. block and 1/2 lb. shredded
1 box of rigatoni (can also use penne or ziti if desired)
pinch of oregano
pinch of parsley
Salt and pepper to taste (I often don't add it)
butter- optional
First, you will need to chop the onion. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brown the hamburger and onion in a large skillet or saucepot, drain. While this is browning, bring the pasta water to a boil. Once it is boiling cook the pasta as instructed on the package until al dente (or even a little less), drain. Simmer the hamburger/onion mixture with the two jars of sauce for a few minutes (don't rinse out the jars, just set them to the side). Add the parsley, oregano, and salt and pepper). While the pasta is cooking and sauce is simmering, chop 1/2 lb. of cheese into 1/2 inch cubes. Slice the other half into thin slices (unless you are using shredded). Get out your pans. In my experience, this amount of food needs one large 11x14 casserole dish adn one 8x8 dish or two 9x13 dishes. I like to grease the bottom of the pan with butter, but it is not necessary. Put a ladle full of sauce into the bottom of the pan begin layering by adding the pasta and then the cubed cheese. Continue layering, I always try to end with a layer of sauce. No remember those dirty sauce jars? Fill each of them about 1/4 full of water. Shake them up and pour the tomato water over the ziti (mostly on the edges). Cover the dish with sliced or shredded cheese. Sprinkle with oregano and parsley. Basically, you just need to bake this until the cheese is browned and bubbly. You can do it by simply baking for 30 minutes or so or by covering with foil for 30 minutes and then baking for 15-30 minutes more. It turns out the same either way.

August 9, 2010

Strawberry Muffins

Yup, still no working fridge at this time. So I have been making things that do not need to be refrigerated, like these strawberry muffins. They were okay, but I would probably leave out the nutmeg. I found it to be overpowering, I wanted my muffins to taste more like strawberries than nutmeg. They are still a good breakfast though!

Strawberry Muffins
1 1/2 cups chopped strawberries
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup Splenda
1/8 cup white sugar
1/8 cup Splenda
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Combine the strawberries, 1/4 cup sugar, and a 1/4 cup Splenda in a seperate bowl. Let set for 1 hour. Drain the berries keeping the liquid seperate. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Prepare a 12 count muffin tin by greasing or lining with paper liners. In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and the rest of the sugar and Splenda until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Stir in the vanilla. Combine the remaining dry ingredients and and stir into the creamed mixture alternately with the juice from the berries. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups. Bake for 18-20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the tops spring back when lightly touched. Cool in the pan on a wire rack.
Source: All Recipes

Stephanie Supper

Have I mentioned that our fridge is broken? We are going on week three, I believe. The repairman has been here twice, and thinks the fridge is fine. It is not! Just because it is running and is kind of cool does not mean it is working! He thinks my thermometer is wrong, but I have two and both are reading the same temperature which is about 10 degrees higher than a fridge is supposed to be. Thus, I can't grocery shop or store leftovers for fear of food poisoning. This and the fact that Matt has been working at a band camp and not eating at home have lead me to eat many Stephanie Suppers recently (which is okay by me). In college, my roommate (and good friend) Stephanie ate this dish or some variation of this multiple times a week (hence the name). Everytime I eat it, I am reminded of her. It is not really a specific recipe just a general guideline.
Stephanie Supper
Pasta (any shape), I have been using Whole Wheat
Butter or Olive Oil
Garlic or Garlic salt
Parmesan cheese
Cook pasta according to package directions (just make as much as you think you will eat). I like to throw my the broccoli in with the boiling water for the last 3-4 minutes of cooking. In the original version, she cooked the broccoli separately (usually in the microwave). It is good both ways. Drain the pasta (and broccoli). Now in my version I throw the butter and minced garlic into the already hot pasta pot. I saute until the butter is melted and the garlic has started to brown. (You can also just add the butter and garlic salt to the pasta before serving). I then put the pasta back in the pot and toss to coat it with the butter/garlic. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and enjoy.
*I think you could also make this with olive oil instead of butter for a healthier dish, but I am not a big fan of the flavor of olive oil and pasta.
Source: Stephanie

PB & Chocolate Chips?

Yup, these aren't your ordinary chocolate chip bars. They have peanut butter in them! I don't know that they are one of the best things that I have ever made, but they were pretty good and super easy. Matt's friends seemed to like them.
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup Splenda or another 1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon course salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup chocolate chips (semi-sweet)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease an 8x8 pan. In a small bowl whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Set aside. In another bowl cream together the butter and peanut butter until smooth. Add the sugars. Beat until well-combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping the bowl after each one. Add the vanilla. Stir in the flour mixture. Add the chocolate chips and combine. Spread the batter into the pan. Bake for 30-32 minutes. Cool before cutting.

August 4, 2010

Mad Men Party Anyone?

Why is it that our best ideas always occur too late? For example, why did I not throw a party for the premiere of Mad Men. I love the show and I love to party plan. It would have been perfect! I guess I will just have to save these awesome recipes/ideas for another day. That is okay though, because I will be able to look at my Grandma's cookbook from the fifties/sixties. It has all of these tips on how to be a good housewife that make the cookbook awesome on its own, but the recipes are even better. I could take the easy route and recreate the recipes from Betty's around the world party, but I think some of these retro dishes would be way better. I thought that I would share them, before I forgot them all. Hopefully, you will read the post that recaps all of these dishes and my super party soon.

We would have lots of finger foods. We would start with rumaki, polish mistakes (okay these are actually one of my favorite foods) and a jello mold. Does anyone else think there are olives in this one?

I would also serve chips and french onion dip, Utz of course. This dish would be dedicated to Pete Campbell ( I think there's an episode where he talks about getting a chip server for a wedding gift or something). I would also serve deviled eggs and a cheese ball.

I don't drink, but no Mad Men party would be complete without an array of mixed drinks. These would include Old Fashioneds (for Don) and Vodka Gimlets (for Betty).

I might change my mind though and serve a real meal of these retro classics: Beef Wellington and Chicken Kiev.

For dessert, I would love to serve Baked Alaska, but would probably be better off just making a bundt cake. This pineapple-upside down one looks pretty appropriate to me.

So there you have it, my great ideas for a Mad Men party. Maybe I can throw one for the season finale. You might want to eat a snack before you come though...