Friday, February 5, 2010

Chicken Bowtie Pasta

I tried coming up with a more creative name than that, but I'm having trouble thinking of one :).  Anywho... sorry it has been so long since my last post!  I've been cooking, baking, taking pictures, and doing lots of eating, but I just haven't gotten around to sitting down to post.  I hope you can forgive me :).

This is a brand new recipe that I came up with alllll on my own last night for dinner :).  I was trying to come up with something fairly quick and easy to make for dinner and this is the result :).  I hope you like it!  It really didn't take long to whip up, so as long as you have all the ingredients, it shouldn't be bad at all.  Also, in case you didn't gather from the title, this is NOT a healthy meal... I mean really, it's pasta with cream sauce ;).  That being said, let's move on:

Start by frying up about 4 pieces of bacon until they're nice and crispy.  Like I said, not healthy :).  While this is cooking, cut up a couple of chicken breasts or about 1 pound of chicken tenderloins.

Set the bacon aside to cool and put the chicken in the pan with the bacon grease (like I said, not healthy, but very yummy) :).  Add a dash of Rosemary... cook on medium-high heat.

While the chicken is cooking, put about 2-3 cups (or a box) of bowtie pasta into boiling water.

Keep an eye on the chicken and once it's done, scoop it out of the pan (with a slotted spoon or spatula/turner/whateveryoucallit) and put it into a large serving bowl.  Leave the bacon grease in the pan.  Chop up the bacon and add to the bowl.

Using the same pan with the leftover bacon grease, sprinkle about 3 tablespoons of flour over medium heat and stir until it's smooth and bubbly.  Add about 1.5 cups of warm/hot milk and continue to stir, making sure everything is thoroughly mixed together.  Add a dash of parsley, oregano, salt, pepper, and parmesan.  Keep stirring until this sauce starts bubbling.  It will start to thicken quickly.  You can adjust all of the seasonings for flavor, but you'll probably end up adding more salt and pepper than the others... cream sauce just requires more salt or it will be very bland.

Once it starts bubbling and thickening slightly, add 1.5 cups of half and half or heavy cream.  Keep stirring, because this will thicken too.  Keep testing for flavor and make adjustments in the spices.  Once the sauce is nice and thick (think "alfredo sauce" thick), toss in about 2 cups of broccoli florets and stir them in so that they'll cook.

Cook them in the sauce (stirring occasionally) for about 4-5 minutes.  While you're waiting on the broccoli, test your bowtie pasta.  Depending on how you like it cooked (al dente or floppy), strain the pasta when it's done and throw it into the bowl with the chicken and bacon.

Once the broccoli is cooked, put the sauce mixture in the bowl with the pasta and meats.  Stir everything together and top with some parmesan.

Viola!  This turned out really really yummy.  It tastes almost like fettuccini alfredo, but the bacon adds a little bit of smoky flavor to it.  It has a lot of dimension, I guess :).  And it was quite filling!  As long as you have all of the ingredients on hand (I just had to buy bacon and half & half), it really doesn't take long to make.  I only used 1 pot and 1 pan to cook it and the bowl to serve it in.  From start to finish, I think it took me about 30 minutes to make.  And we ended up with some leftovers, which Jason and I were both grateful for :).

If you try this, please let me know how it turns out :).  Have a great weekend!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

I meant to post this recipe a month ago (for Thanksgiving), but pumpkin is a Fall and Winter fruit in my opinion so I hope you have an opportunity to make these if you'd like :).  These cookies are a favorite in my family and my husband's family (and at church, and with friends, etc.).  Pretty much everyone who has tried them has loved them, so they're almost a 100% guarantee with any crowd :).

3 cups pumpkin (this is 1-1/2 15oz. cans of pumpkin - I use Libby's)
3 cups sugar
1-1/2 c. oil
3 eggs

Mix together in a separate bowl:
6 cups flour
6 tsp. baking powder
3 tsp. cinnamon
1-1/2 tsp. salt

In another small bowl, mix 3 tsp. baking soda in 3 tsp. milk (sorry, I don't have a picture of this).

Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture, along with the soda/milk mixture.

Mix together well :).  More flour may be needed, but the batter will be very sticky, so I usually don't worry about adding any.

Stir in 3 cups of chocolate chips and 3 tsp. vanilla.

Bake at 375* for 10-12 minutes on a greased or non-stick cookie sheet.  I've found that 11 minutes bakes them perfectly for me, but you'll be able to tell after the first couple of batches come out of the oven if that's the right amount of time for you :).  Also, I use an ice cream scoop to put the batter onto the cookie sheet.  It helps a lot, since the batter is so sticky :).

These are very light and fluffy, as you can probably tell from the pictures, and they have an almost cakey texture.  They're amazing and they stay moist, even after sitting for a week (if they're not eaten by then!) :)

Please let me know if you make these and what you think.  Enjoy!!! :)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

(Lemon) Poppy Seed Bread

I'm finally posting the requested and long-awaited recipe for poppy seed bread :).  I have a great recipe I got from my mother-in-law, but the request was for lemon poppy seed bread.  I'll give you the "classic" recipe first and then tell you how to add the yummy lemon flavor :).  I always make it into bread, but it can easily be made into muffins if you prefer.


3 eggs
2-1/4 cups sugar
1 cup oil
1-1/2 cup milk
1-1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1-1/2 teaspoon butter extract
1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoon baking powder (NOT soda)
1-1/2 Tablespoon poppy seeds

This is super easy to mix together.  Add about 2 ingredients at a time and use a whisk to stir thoroughly together after adding each pair.  For example, put the eggs and sugar in the bowl - mix.  Add the oil and milk, then mix.  Add the extracts and mix.  Add the dry ingredients and mix.  That way the batter is smooth and all of the ingredients are fully incorporated.  You can use an electric mixer if you prefer, but it's not really necessary :).

Here are the liquid ingredients (+ sugar) mixed together:

Here are all the ingredients mixed together, ready to be poured into the bread pans:

Pour into 2 greased (I use Pam cooking spray) bread pans and bake at 350* (Fahrenheit) for 1 hour (I've had to leave it in the oven for an extra 5 minutes so that the center is fully cooked).  It will be nice and golden on the top.  This recipe is really yummy, moist, and I get tons of compliments every time I make it!

To add the lemon flavor, here is what you need to do:
1 - add 2 teaspoons of lemon extract
2 - add the zest of one lemon (I use a small grater and grate the peel directly onto the batter in the bowl)

I tried to show myself grating the peel, but it was very difficult with only two hands :).

Here's the lemon zest, ready to be mixed into the batter:

If you don't have lemon extract, you can substitute 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice (or use the juice from the lemon you used for the zest).  Just know that the lemon flavoring won't be quite as strong this way.  Stir in the zest and extract/juice (whichever you choose) and follow the baking guidelines for the classic recipe above.

I just recently came up with the lemon option and when I brought the bread to church, I had multiple people ask me for the recipe :).  I'm relieved that I didn't ruin the recipe! :)

As an option for either recipe (classic or lemon), you can add a glaze to the top.  I've never done this, because I love the bread on its own, but I think it would compliment the lemon poppy seed bread nicely.

1/4 cup orange juice
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon butter extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix together in a small saucepan.  Boil for 3-4 minutes.  Pour hot glaze over loaves.

One more option I tried and enjoyed was adding raw sugar granules on top of the bread after it had been in the oven for about 45 minutes.  That way, when it's done there's a slight crunch on the top and it looks more like the muffins from Starbucks and other coffee shops ;).

FINALLY, if you'd like to use the recipe to make muffins instead of bread, you will probably only need to bake them for 40-45 minutes, but I haven't tried that yet, so you'll probably want to watch them closely and take them out of the oven when the tops are golden.

Here's the finished product, ready to be devoured, yum! :)

Sorry the picture is blurry, but I was probably so excited about it being fresh out of the oven that I couldn't contain my excitement! ;)

Ok, I think I covered everything.  If you have any questions or if I didn't make something clear, please let me know :).  This really is a simple recipe and as long as you have all the ingredients on hand, it takes very little preparation time.  Then you just throw it in the oven and viola! :)

Thanks for stopping by and please let me know if you try it (and what you think!).  Have a great day! :)

Upcoming Recipes

Hey everyone, I'm sorry for the delay in posting, but I have been swamped!  I just wanted to let you know that I have a few recipes coming up and I will start posting them tonight :).  Here are just a few of the ones on my list:

1 - Poppy seed bread (w/ the option to make it lemon flavored)
2 - Chicken parmigiana
3 - Shortbread (easiest & quickest recipe ever!)

Also, if you have any suggestions of recipes you'd like to see, let me know and I'll try my best to come up with a tasty one for you! :)  I love to experiment :D.  Have a great day and I'll be back tonight!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Easy Pumpkin Cupcakes!

Pumcakes?  Pumcups?  Kincakes?  I think I like pumcakes best :).  Anyway, I was on twitter the other day when TiffanyD (a youtube beauty guru & blogger) posted a recipe for pumpkin cupcakes.  Since it's Fall and I love learning new Fall-y recipes, I decided to try this out.  Except, as with most recipes I try, I had to change it to suit my mood :).

Start out with a box cake.  She used a basic yellow cake, but I felt like using a spice cake.  I just thought the flavors would compliment each other nicely :).

Mix the cake as directed, except substitute one 15oz. can of pumpkin (I like Libby's best) for the water.  Also, add 1/2 tsp. of pumpkin pie spice and mix all together.  My mix called for 1/3 cup of oil and 3 eggs, so to spell it out plainly, here are the ingredients I used:

1 box spice cake mix
1/3 cup oil
3 eggs
15oz. can pumpkin
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

Spoon the batter into muffin cups and bake for 18-20 minutes in the oven preheated to 350*.

When they're done baking, put them on a cooling rack for about 30 minutes or until cool.  Frost with cream cheese frosting.

Eat... and enjoy! :)

p.s. - sorry for the poor picture quality... I took them with my iphone because our camera battery died... and I'm too lazy (forgetful?) to recharge it :).

More recipes to come soon!!!  If you have any requests, let me know :).

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Stuffed Bell Peppers

I was never a fan of bell peppers.  Something about the unique taste just never appealed to me until Jason's mom (my mother-in-law) made this recipe.  I still don't eat red or yellow bell peppers, but I really enjoy green ones now, all because of this delicious and filling recipe.

I have to add that I've tried a couple of other stuffed peppers (that other people made) and they didn't taste nearly as good as these :).  So... on to the recipe.  It's fairly simple, but you'll see that there are quite a few steps and it is time consuming.  So make sure that you plan ahead to make these on a night that you have plenty of time.

Here are the ingredients... I'll explain what to do with them as I go along :).
6 peppers
1 to 1.5 lbs ground beef
2 Tablespoons onion (yuck, I either use onion powder or minced onion)
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. garlic salt
2-3 cups cooked rice
2- 15oz cans tomato sauce
1-2 cups shredded cheese

First, you need to cut the tops off of the peppers and remove the insides.

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil.  Boil the peppers for 5 minutes and set aside in a baking dish.

Make enough rice to have 2-3 cups cooked.  Brown the ground beef.

Once the rice and beef are cooked, I combine them in the large pot that was used to boil the peppers.  Add one can of tomato sauce and the seasonings & stir together.  Taste the mixture to make sure it is seasoned to your liking and add more if needed.

Stuff the peppers (Jason likes them overstuffed) and place back in the baking dish.

Pour the other can of tomato sauce over the peppers.

Cover with foil and bake at 350* for 45 minutes.  Remove foil and cover peppers with cheese.  Cook for another 15 minutes.

Enjoy!  One pepper is usually more than enough for a meal for me and Jason usually eats two... then we have enough left for lunch the next day :).

Friday, October 9, 2009

Buttermilk Raspberry Cake

Growing up, my mom had a large raspberry "patch" (as well as strawberries and rhubarb) behind our house.  Every summer, we would have to go out each day to pick a bowl-ful of fresh raspberries.  Whenever she sent me out, she was lucky I brought any inside, because I loved to just eat them as I picked!  Anyway... anytime I come across a recipe that involves raspberries, strawberries, or rhubarb, I jump at the chance to make it because I really really really love the taste of them!

This cake isn't like a "birthday" cake or anything like that.  It's more like a breakfast/coffee cake and it's oh so delicious!!!

Start out by mixing the following ingredients together:
1-1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil (vegetable or light olive oil are what I usually use)
1 egg

After mixing the above together well, add and mix the following:
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla

Add the following dry ingredients to the above "concoction" and mix together:
2 cups flour
1 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp salt

Pour the batter into a 9x13" cake pan.  Spoon 2 cups of raspberries on top (you can also use strawberries, blackberries, boysenberries, etc.).  Sometimes I put the berries on whole, other times I like to mash them up and put them on like that, which is what I did this time.

In a separate small bowl, mix the following together:
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon

Sprinkle this on the top of the cake and bake it at 350* for 40-45 minutes.  The cake will probably look a little odd when it's done cooking, because the berries usually move away from the edge of the dish.  But don't worry!!!  It will still taste super delicious :).  This is one of my favorite dishes to make for brunches & breakfasts :).

Good luck and let me know if you try this!