Thursday, May 31, 2012

Fried Tomato Sandwiches

YUM!  Buck's tomato plants are yielding beautiful, fresh tomatoes, and we couldn't wait to try them out.  These open-face sandwiches were delicious!  We had friends over and made two separate batches of these.  So good!

Notes about the recipe: The tomatoes tend to fall apart in the skillet, so slice them a bit thicker than you might normally.  Since I fried the tomatoes in butter, I wanted to save some fat somewhere, so opted for fat-free cream cheese on the baguette.  I also thought about substituting Laughing Cow cheese for the cream cheese; I might try that next time.  Also, you'll probably have to cook these in batches.  There's no skillet in my house big enough for so many slices of tomatoes, but I could fit half of what it called for.

I want to especially thank my aunt Carolyn and my wonderful cousins for giving me the cookbook that contained this recipe.  I appreciate it very much. :)

Fried Tomato Sandwiches

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
3-4 ripe tomatoes
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
Salt and pepper
1 baguette cut into thin (1/4" slices)

Melt butter in skillet.  Place sliced tomatoes in pan, and sprnkle with half of the sugar, salt, and pepper.  Saute for 4-5 minutes; flip and sprinkle with remaininng sugar, salt, and pepper.  If tomatoes seem runny, continue to saute on low heat until sauce thickens. 

Place baguette slices on a cookie sheet, and broil until golen.  Spread with softened cream cheese, and return to oven until cream cheese bubbles.  Spread friend tomatoes over open-faced toasted baguette.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Easy French Toast Casserole

This was an easy, make-ahead breakfast recipe that we both enjoyed.  I'm sure this would be even better with fancier bread (French bread, cinnamon-raisin bread, brioche, etc.), but I needed to use up several slices of good ol' wheat bread before it went bad.  Because I'm usually rushing around in the morning, I put everything in the casserole dish and let it sit over night, and then I baked it in the morning. 

It's an easily adaptable recipe.  Like I said, you can use different types of bread, or try half-and-half or cream or even egg nog (for a holiday twist) instead of milk.  It's also easy to double or triple, depending on the size of your crowd.  I hope you like it!

Easy French Toast Casserole

3 cups bread, cubed
2 eggs
3/4 cup milk
2 Tbsp white sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Cooking spray

Spray an 8"x8"  pan with cooking spray, and place bread cubes in the pan.  In a bowl, beat together eggs, milk, half the sugar, and vanilla.  Pour egg mixture over bread. 

If baking that morning, let the bread/egg mixture stand for 10 minutes.  If baking later, refrigerate the mixture at this point. 

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350.  Sprinkle bread/egg mixture with the cinnamon and remaining tablespoon of sugar.  Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until top is golden. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Teak Dog Tuesday!

Please ignore how hideous and manly my legs look in this picture.

As you can see, Teak loves food as much as I do.  He always waits underfoot, hoping that I'll drop something from the counter.

Monday, May 28, 2012

3-Cheese Stuffed Shells with Italian Sausage Sauce

These were awesome! It was my first time making stuffed shells, and it wasn't difficult at all with a little advanced planning. I boiled the shells, made the filling, and browned the Italian sausage in the morning and refrigerated them all day. Then I started to assemble everything about an hour before I wanted to eat.  Plus, using a gallon-size ziploc to mix the filling together made stuffing the shells and cleaning up a breeze!

One box of jumbo shells makes enough to feed an army; serioulsy, one box gave us 32 stuffed shells. We froze half of them and ate the other half all week long. 

These are also great because you can change up the filling.  Biz doesn't consider anything a meal if it doesn't contain meat, so that's why I added Italian sausage to the sauce.  However, I'd also add shredded chicken to the filling, and I think that would be awesome, too.  Try these; they're really good!

3-Cheese Stuffed Shells with Italian Sausage Sauce

1 (12 oz) box jumbo pasta shells
1 (32 oz) container ricotta cheese
8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
2 (28 oz) jars pasta sauce
1 lb mild Italian sausage

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add pasta, and cook for 8-10 minutes or until al dente; drain and rinse with cold water. 

In a large skillet, brown the Italian sausage over medium heat until no longer pink.  Remove the crumbled sausage from the pan, and drain on paper towels.  When cooled, combine with the jars of the pasta sauce in a medium bowl.

In a gallon-size ziploc bag, mix ricotta, half the mozzarella, the Parmesan cheese, and the Italian seasoning until well combined.  When ready to assemble, snip off a corner of the bag, and pipe the filling into the shells.  Place stuffed shells into two 9"x13" baking dishes, and top with pasta sauce and remaining mozzarella cheese.  (You can freeze the shells at this point.) 

Bake in oven preheated to 350.  Cover dish with foil for 35 minutes, and uncover for 10 more minutes. 

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Vegetable Quesadillas

After an indulgent weekend, we both knew our bodies needed vegetables.  Instead of going a traditional route, I made these vegetable quesadillas, and they were so good!  We probably canceled out any health benefits of the vegetables with the amount of pepper jack cheese we added, but I don't regret that, either.  

I was so hungry at the end of this process that I just melted the cheese on the tortilla in the microwave.  Of course, to be more authentic (and to add crispiness to the tortillas), you should heat them in a skillet.  Either way, you should try these!

Vegetable Quesadillas

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 small sweet onion, thinly sliced
8 oz sliced mushrooms
1 large red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 large green bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp pickled jalapeno slices, diced
1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese (use Monterey Jack if you want less spiciness)
3 large flour tortillas

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add onion and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add red and green bell pepper, and cook for 10 more minutes.  Finally, add mushrooms and jalpenos; cover and cook for 5 more minutes. 

Pile a third of the cheese on one of the tortillas, and heat it in the microwave for about 30 seconds, or until the cheese has melted.  Remove it from the microwave, and pile a third of the vegetable mixture on half of the tortilla.  Fold the tortilla so that the vegetables are covered.  Serve warm.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Pasta with Goat Cheese and Roasted Red Bell Pepper Sauce

So delicious!  This was a very quick and easy summer recipe.  The most complicated part of the recipe is boiling the water for the pasta.  The rest of the ingredients you just add to a food processor or blender. 

The sauce is very thin, so if you like your sauce chunkier, don't pulse it as much in the food processor--or you can heat it in a saucepan for a while; it might reduce and thicken that way. 

I took a serious shortcut and used the jarred roasted red bell peppers.  It was wonderful, and that's the way I'll continue to make it.  I love goat cheese, and it added the perfect creaminess to this recipe.  Just to add something extra, I sauteed 8 ounces of sliced mushrooms in olive oil while the pasta was cooking, and I added those to the dish at the end.  It was great!

Pasta with Goat Cheese and Roasted Red Bell Pepper Sauce

3/4 cup jarred roasted red bell pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 cup fresh basil, plus more for garnish
8 oz whole wheat pasta
2 oz goat cheese, crumbled

Cook pasta according to package directions.

In a food processor or blender, add bell pepper, garlic, olive oil, chicken broth, lemon juice, sugar, crushed red pepper, black pepper, and basil; pulse until smooth.  Add sauce to cooked pasta.  Crumble cheese on top, garnish with fresh basil, and serve.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Potato Chips and Onion Dip

Who knew it was so easy to make your own potato chips?  I certainly didn't.  Plus, we chose to bake them instead of fry them, and I made the dip low fat, so we didn't have to feel guilty!  So good and so easy!

I used a mandoline to slice the potatoes evenly (and I didn't manage to slice off a chunk of my finger, as I did in August).  We found 1/8" was the best thickness for the chips.  Some of them burned a little in places, but they were still really good.  If you're not using a mandoline, just slice them as thinly as possible.

The dip was also great.  I made it the day before I needed it, so the flavors had time to settle together.  Since fat-free Greek yogurt is the main ingredient, you can dip whatever you want in this and not feel bad about it.

Potato Chips and Onion Dip

3 large Russet potatoes, cut into 1/8" rounds
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp coursely ground black pepper
Kosher salt

2 tsp olive oil
1 small onion, minced
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 1/4 cups nonfat Greek yogurt
1/4 cup light mayonaisse
3/4 tsp onion powder
3/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Make the dip first: heat oil over medium heat and add onions and scallion whites. Cook, stirring often, until golden brown and soft, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Combine onions with yogurt, mayonnaise, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper and scallion greens and stir well to incorporate. Chill for 1 hour to let flavors meld.

Now make the chips: preheat oven to 450.  Toss the potatoes in a large bowl with olive oil and pepper until well coated.  Arrange the potato slices in one layer on two cookie sheets.  Bake for 17-22 minutes, or until chips are lightly browned and crisp.  Remove from oven, and season generously with kosher salt.  Serve with dip.