Sunday, August 29, 2010

Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells

When I started making this, I secretly had high hopes. And I was not disappointed! This was SO good! When Nick and I sat down to eat, we both took a bite at the same time and huge, goofy grins came over both our faces. That sound silly, but I never joke about good food! This was like deconstructed lasagna without the meat, which would be an easy addition if you really wanted to put it in. But for someone like me, who tends to pick the meat out of my lasagna, this meal was a dream come true. I have already copied it down in my permanent recipe book. In case I haven't already made it clear, this recipe is a 10! Easy, flavorful, and filling, and a crowd-pleaser. How could you go wrong?

Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells

24 jumbo pasta shells
2 cups ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 package frozen chopped spinach, cooked and squeezed dry
1 egg, lightly beaten
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Pinch of ground nutmeg
1 26-ounce jar spaghetti sauce

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray a large baking dish with cooking spray. Cook pasta according to package directions to just al dente. Drain and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix ricotta, parmesan, and 1 cup mozzarella cheeses.

Add 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and nutmeg.

Add in beaten egg and spinach.

Mix well.

Spread 3/4 cup spaghetti sauce over the bottom of the baking dish. Stuff shells with the spinach and ricotta mixture and place in a single layer in the dish.

Spoon the remaining spaghetti sauce over the shells.

Top with remaining mozzarella cheese and cover with foil.

Bake for 35 minutes. Remove foil and bake 10-20 minutes longer or until bubbly and cheese begins to brown. Enjoy!

Hashbrown Casserole

This particular recipe is a family favorite. My mom makes this for all kinds of occasions, including Easter with a honey baked ham. I am not a huge fan of ham, so I usually serve mine with a roasted turkey breast. But back to the casserole. The best part about this one, in my opinion, is the heat. And I'm not talking about it being spicy. I mean it's so hot that it burns your tongue if you eat it straight out of the oven, which is always my recommendation. That warmth makes this a cozy dish-the ultimate comfort food. If you don't end up with a scorching hot dish, you did something wrong. So I have a few tips to make sure that this one turns out hot and cooked through, as you're using frozen potatoes in the recipe. You also can't go wrong with the cream of chicken and celery soups, which add tons of flavor without a lot of work. There's just something about the creamy soups, sharp cheddar, warm potatoes, and crunchy corn flakes. Mmm! When I say enjoy at the end of this recipe, I mean it. This one is SO good!

Hashbrown Casserole
*From Mom!

2 pound package frozen hashbrown potatoes (Southern style-cubed)
1 stick margarine
1 8-ounce container sour cream
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of celery soup
2 cups sharp cheddar, shredded
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2-3/4 teaspoon onion powder
Corn flakes

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Microwave frozen hashbrowns in a bowl until thawed and warm (this took about 15 minutes in my microwave, with a quick stir at 5 minute intervals).

Spread potatoes in a greased baking dish.

Season with pepper and onion powder.

Top with pats of margarine.

Add cream of chicken, cream of celery, sour cream, and cheese in a large bowl.

Mix well.

Pour soup mixture over potatoes and mix all together.

Add a few cups of corn flakes to a ziploc bag and crush.

Pour crushed corn flakes on top of the potatoes and soup mixture.

Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour, 15 minutes. The top of the corn flakes will be browned and crunchy when done.

Serve with your choice of meat and ENJOY!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas

When I started to set out the ingredients for this recipe, I realized that we didn't have any chicken breasts. How is that possible?! We did, however, have chicken tenderloins, so I used the 8 that we had to make this recipe. It wasn't nearly enough, so I used a can of black beans too. This recipe is an adapted version of my Aunt Kathy's enchiladas. Nick and I liked them, but because I removed the seeds and membranes from the jalapeƱos, it was a little bland. When I say bland, I mean it didn't burn off our tongues the way we like Mexican food to do. Next time we'll keep the seeds and membranes!

Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas
*Adapted from Aunt Kathy's recipe

1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup butter
2 cups chicken broth
36 ounces cooked shredded chicken (I used 16 ounces)
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 can black beans
2 tablespoons taco seasoning plus 1/2 teaspoon cumin
12 corn tortillas
3/4 cup chopped onion (I used 1/2 teaspoon onion powder)
8 ounces sour cream
2 cups thinly sliced jalapeƱo peppers (I used 6 medium sized peppers)

*I roasted the chicken in foil packets with a little drizzle of olive oil and taco seasoning with a little cumin.

Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat.

Slowly add flour, stirring constantly until smooth.

Gradually add the chicken broth. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until it thickens (this will mean it comes to a soft boil).

Meanwhile, drain the black beans and heat in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add taco seasoning, onion powder, and cumin and a little hot sauce, if desired. Once beans are soft, mash with a potato masher.

Remove the chicken broth mixture from heat and stir in sour cream and peppers. It might be good to add the peppers with the chicken broth and allow them to simmer in the mix to break them down a little bit. Otherwise, they stay a little crunchy in the sauce.

Lightly baste the bottom of a 13x9 inch dish with the sauce. Heat tortillas in a skillet on high heat for a few seconds per side or blanche in a little bit of oil until soft. Mix chicken, mashed black beans, and 1 1/2 cups of cheese.

Stuff the tortillas with a generous amount of the chicken mixture.

Add a tablespoon of the sauce.

Roll up and place in the baking dish.

Top with remaining sauce.

Add the remaining cheese.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes or until cheese melts. Serve with salsa verde and rice. Enjoy!

French Onion Soup

Nick LOVES French onion soup. He would eat it every day if I could replicate the recipe from 6th Street Bistro in Hood River, Oregon. I don't really like onions, but this soup is SO good and I order it every time we go there, which says a lot! This recipe is from the Pioneer Woman and it was good, it just wasn't 6th Street Bistro good. I have another French onion recipe that I'm going to try and then, when that doesn't cut it, I'm going to beg Nick to go down to Hood River and then I'm going to do some more begging at 6th Street for the recipe. I doubt I'll get, but a girl can try! Again, this one is definitely good, it was just missing a flavor component for us.

French Onion Soup
*From the Pioneer Woman

1 stick butter
4 large or 6 medium yellow onions, halved root to tip and sliced thin
1 cup white wine
4 cups chicken broth
4 cups beef broth
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
Several thick slices of French bread
Grated gruyere cheese or provolone slices

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium-low heat.

Chop up your onions and add to the pot.

Cook, covered, for 20 minutes.

Place soup pot in the oven with the lid slightly ajar to ensure the onions brown. Allow onions to cook for one hour, stirring once so onions don't stick and burn.

Remove the pot from the oven and place on the stove over medium heat. Stir and scrape off the brown flavor bits. Pour in the wine.

Cook for five minutes so that the wine can reduce. Add chicken and beef broths. Stir and add worcestershire sauce.

Mince the garlic and add to the soup. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30-45 minutes.

Meanwhile, butter a few slices of bread and toast under the broiler. Ladle soup into small bowls (or big bowls, depending on how hungry you are!) and add a slice or two of bread.

Top with cheese and place under the broiler. Cook, watching carefully, until the cheese is melted and a little bubbly. Enjoy!

Pizza Rolls

Nick and I were hungry and I didn't feel like cooking the other night. I had spent some time cleaning out our fridge, however, and found some pizza dough that needed to be used. We decided to make our own pizza rolls and we had some very creative ideas! These were fun to make and, although a little messy, would be a great activity to do with kids. You could certainly make your own pizza dough, but I used a Pillsbury roll of dough, which was easy and quick.

Pizza Rolls

1 roll Pillsbury pizza dough (or make your own)
Fillings of your choice, such as:
cheddar and basil
parmesan cheese and minced garlic
shredded chicken and buffalo or barbeque sauce
Chinese chili garlic sauce and monterey jack cheese
roast beef and havarti cheese

Roll out your pizza dough and cut it into equal size squares, about 2-3 inches square. Work the dough with your hands to flatten it out a little bit. Add in a small amount of filling (be careful not to overstuff) and press the open ends together. You might have to work the balls a little bit to get the ends to seal, especially if you are using a saucy filling. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 12-15 minutes on a baking sheet sprayed with Pam. Enjoy!