Thursday, February 27, 2014

Shells and Peas Alfredo

I got this wonderful recipe from The Smitten Kitchen cookbook, which is a great cookbook with amazing food photography. This dish is so creamy and good! I served it as a side dish with Parmesan Chicken Tenders, but you could easily double this recipe to serve as a main dish. My husband and I really loved this one and my kids of course longed for Pasta Roni (the pull of Parmesan Pasta Roni for my kids is a mystery to me), but I can guarantee you this is so much better than Pasta Roni!

Shells and Peas Alfredo

1/2 lb small shell pasta
1 cup frozen peas, cooked (just microwave for a couple minutes)
1 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons butter
fresh ground black pepper
3/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon freeze-dried parsley (or 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley)

Cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta cooking water and set aside. Drain pasta and set aside.

In a large saucepan heat heavy cream. Bring the cream to a simmer and cook until it is slightly reduced, about 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the butter and stir in until melted. Generously season the sauce with ground black pepper and a pinch of salt. Add 3/4 cup Parmesan and stir until the sauce is smooth. Add drained pasta and cooked peas and toss in sauce to coat. Add reserved pasta water a spoonful at a time until the sauce is the consistency you'd like. Add parsley, stir, and serve.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Asian Chicken Pasta Salad

This is a great pasta salad anytime but I especially love taking it to potlucks because it has flavors most people enjoy - chicken, pasta, and sesame dressing. I recently took it to a Relief Society lunch activity. If I was serving this salad for dinner I would make these orange rolls to go with it and it would be a yummy meal.

Asian Chicken Pasta Salad

16 oz bow tie pasta
4 cups cooked and cubed grilled chicken
4 green onions, sliced
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 bag baby spinach (I used a baby greens blend)
1/4 lb or 4 oz snow peas, stems removed and cut in half
1 can mandarin oranges, drained (I might add 2 cans next time)

1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted (toast in a dry skillet until slightly browned)
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Cook bow tie pasta according to package directions. Drain. Rinse thoroughly with cold water and allow to dry slightly in colander while you prepare other salad ingredients.

In a jar with a tight fitting lid, combine soy sauce, vegetable oil, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, toasted sesame seeds, sugar, and pepper. Place lid on jar and shake very well to combine.

In a large bowl combine drained and rinsed pasta, chicken, sliced green onions, almonds, spinach, and snow peas. Add dressing and toss to combine. Add drained mandarin oranges and stir in gently. Serve immediately.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Crock Pot Chicken and Dumplings

This is such a yummy crockpot recipe! I'm glad I found it on Pinterest. It is so simple to put together and tastes so good. The dumplings are Pillsbury Grand biscuits, but you would think they are homemade. It's a great comfort food dinner that my whole family enjoyed - we had it on a very snowy night and it was perfect. I definitely will make this one again, though next time I might double or 1 1/2 the recipe, because it was just enough for my family of 6 without any leftovers (and we love leftovers).

Crock Pot Chicken and Dumplings

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, fresh or frozen (about 3 breasts)
12 oz baby carrots or 4-5 carrots chopped 
1 large onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups frozen chopped onions)
2 cans cream of chicken soup
2 cups chicken stock
salt and pepper
1, 10.2 oz tube Pillsbury Grands biscuits (that's the smallest size package with 5 biscuits)

Place chicken, fresh or frozen in the bottom of the crockpot. Add carrot and onions on top. In a bowl whisk together cream of chicken soups and chicken stock. Add a little salt and pepper to season. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Remove chicken breasts from crockpot and shred or cut up the chicken into small pieces (I shredded the chicken with 2 forks), put shredded/cut up chicken back in the crockpot with the sauce. Cut each biscuit into 6 smaller pieces and put these biscuit pieces into the crockpot. Stir them into the sauce. Cover and cook on high for 30 minutes. Stir and season to taste with salt and pepper. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Hamburger Gravy and Mashed Potatoes

My family loves mashed potatoes and gravy. Who doesn't, right? So I thought I'd try making a hamburger gravy to make it a main dish instead of a side dish. I know that this is a rather classic American dish, but I must admit I'd never tried it before and it is just so yummy! It's also really simple to make. Comfort food at it's best. You may have your own family recipe for this one, but this is the one I came up with to suit my family's tastes. Everyone loved this dinner and this recipe made enough gravy to freeze half of it for another dinner. Bonus! Feel free to cut it in half if you have a smaller family.

Hamburger Gravy and Mashed Potatoes

1 lb ground beef
2 teaspoons Montreal Steak Seasoning
4 cups water
5 teaspoons beef bouillon, granules
2 packets brown gravy mix
6 tablespoons cornstarch
4 cups beef stock

Mashed Potatoes:
5-6 pounds russet potatoes
1 stick butter, softened
1/2-1 cup cream or milk
salt and pepper to taste

Peel and chop up the potatoes, add them to a pot and cover them with water by about 1 inch. Bring to a boil and boil for 20-25 minutes or until potatoes are very soft. Drain in a colander and transfer drained potatoes to a stand mixer. Add the softened stick of butter, and some of the cream or milk. Whip with whisk attachment, adding milk to make a nice fluffy consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, brown ground beef in a pot, breaking up with a spoon or spatula as it cooks. Add 2 teaspoon of Montreal Steak seasoning as it cooks (or if you don't have that you can use salt, pepper, and garlic powder). Meanwhile in a mixing bowl whisk together: 4 cups cold water, beef bouillon granules, 2 packets of brown gravy mix, and 6 tablespoons of cornstarch. Once the beef is browned add the water/brown gravy mixture in the mixing bowl to the pot. Add the 4 cups of beef stock. Bring to a boil, stirring, and let boil until gravy is thickened. Turn down heat and simmer, stirring for about 5 minutes. Serve over mashed potatoes.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

2 Hour Cinnamon Rolls with Buttercream Frosting

I know, I know, another cinnamon roll recipe?? I just can't stop myself from trying new cinnamon rolls, especially if they are suppose to be yummy and faster to make. These cinnamon rolls turned out great and they only took 2 hours to make! That is awesomeness. These are the perfect cinnamon rolls to make on Valentine's morning for your family. What says love like a warm homemade cinnamon roll?! The buttercream frosting is absolutely delicious, but if you are a fan of cream cheese frosting, use the frosting from this cinnamon roll recipe - it's also great.

2 Hour Cinnamon Rolls with Buttercream Frosting

1/2 cup warm water
2 heaping tablespoons yeast (I use SAF brand)
2 cups milk
1 cup butter (2 sticks), melted
1 egg
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
7-8 cups bread flour

1/4-1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 - 1/2 cup brown sugar
2-3 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
4 cups or a 1 lb box powdered sugar
3-4 tablespoons milk or cream

Add 1/2 cup warm water and yeast to the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer (I use a Bosch). Let yeast dissolve in water for a few minutes. Warm milk in the microwave for about 1 minute, add to the yeast mixture in the mixer. Add melted butter, egg, 3/4 cup sugar, salt and 3 cups of flour. Mix for a minute. Add in more flour a cup at a time until the dough pulls away from the sides of the mixer, for me it was 7 1/2 cups of flour total. Knead with dough hook on high for 2 minutes. Form dough into a ball and put into a large greased bowl covered with non-stick sprayed plastic wrap and let rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until dough has doubled in size.

Punch down dough and roll out on a large floured surface (or if you don't have as large of a surface you can cut the dough in half and then roll out) into a large rectangle. Spread softened butter on the dough (I used about 1/4 cup). Sprinkle with 1/4 to 1/2 cup brown sugar. Sprinkle 2-3 teaspoons of cinnamon over the brown sugar. Roll up the dough, starting on the long side of the rectangle, as tightly as you can. Pinch the seams of the dough together. Slice dough into 1 inch pieces, dental floss works great for this or you can use a sharp knife and place on greased cookie sheets (2 greased cookie sheets with 15 rolls on each works great) or in greased 9x13 baking dishes leaving a little space between the rolls (or a lot of space between if you don't want them to bake together). You end up with 25-30 rolls.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15-25 minutes (no, you do not need to let them rise again!). The time it takes to bake through depends on the kind of pans you used. For a normal cookie sheet it will take closer to 15 minutes, for a glass baking dish it will take closer to 20, and for stoneware pans it will take closer to 24 or 25 minutes. Start checking around 15 minutes and make sure the bottoms are golden. Remove from oven and let cool while you make the frosting.

Beat together softened 1/2 cup of butter, vanilla, powdered sugar, and 3-4 tablespoons of milk or cream. Beat until frosting and smooth and a spreadable consistency. Spread on cinnamon rolls after they have cooled for about 20 minutes.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Zuppa Toscana

I had been meaning to try this recipe for years and I finally got around to it. It's a copy cat recipe of the Zuppa Toscana at Olive Garden and I actually think it's super close to the restaurant version. It's delicious!! Score! The recipe is from Jamie Cooks It Up, but I've seen it on tons of other sites as well. What sets this recipe apart is that it makes 10 servings, which is what I need for my family of 6 and it's super good. I've never gotten a recipe from Jamie Cooks It Up that I haven't loved. I served the soup with these amazing Olive Garden-like bread sticks and my family loved it. I loved that they happily ate kale. Nice.

Zuppa Toscana

1 lb bulk Italian sausage
dash of red pepper flakes
5 strips of bacon
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
2 large russet potatoes, peeled or unpeeled, sliced thin
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon onion salt
1/2 tablespoon chicken bouillon granules
1 cup frozen chopped kale (or 2 cups fresh kale, chopped)
salt and pepper to taste

In a large soup pot, brown the Italian sausage, breaking up as it cooks, until cooked through. Remove cooked sausage to a large bowl and cover with foil. Set aside.

Microwave strips of bacon just until partially cooked (this makes it easier to cut up). Pour fat from plate bacon was cooked on into the soup pot. Cut up the bacon into small pieces, scissors work great for this.

Add onions and bacon pieces to the soup pot and cook until onions are softened. Add garlic and cook for a minute. Add chicken stock and water and bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, peel the potatoes if desired (Olive Garden leaves the skins on, but I like the skins off in soups) and cut into quarters lengthwise, then slice thinly the other way so you have thin triangular shaped potatoes. After soup on stove has come to a boil add the potatoes into the soup. Bring to a boil again, turn down heat to medium, and let simmer until potatoes are cooked through, about 10 minutes.

Add heavy cream, onion salt, chicken bouillon granules, frozen chopped kale (or fresh kale if using), and browned sausage. Heat through and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with fresh ground pepper and shredded Parmesan on individual servings. YUM!