Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tortellini Spinach Bake in a Creamy Lemon Sauce

(click here for printable version) - From The Farm Girl Recipes

12 oz  Tortellini (find them in the dry pasta aisle and the only brand my store carried was Barilla Parmesan Cheese but any kind should work)
6 strips bacon 
3 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
2 Tbs flour
1 1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. cream
¾ t. kosher salt
⅛ t. black pepper
1 1/2 t. dry basil
¼ t. red pepper flakes, optional
1 medium lemon
2 c loosely packed fresh spinach, roughly chopped
¾ c. grated mozzarella cheese, divided
¾ c. grated Parmesan cheese, divided

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Fill a large stock pot with water and bring to a boil.  Add tortellini and cook according to package instructions.

2.  Place bacon in a medium sized skillet on the stove-top at medium-high heat.  Cook until crisp.  Remove bacon from pan with slotted spoon and set on paper towels to drain.  Reserve two tablespoons bacon drippings in pan and discard the rest.  Add garlic to pan and cook until fragrant and tender, about 1 minute.  Add flour to pan and stir with a whisk for about 1 minute. Slowly add milk and cream continue to stir with whisk until smooth.  Add salt, pepper, basil, and red pepper flakes and bring sauce to a simmer.

3.  While sauce is heating, use a microplane grater or a fine-holed cheese grater to zest lemon--be careful not to get any of the white part in the sauce, it is quite bitter.  Then cut lemon in half and remove juice.  Add zest and lemon juice to sauce.  Continue to stir until thickened, 2-3 minutes.  Remove from heat.

4.  Drain tortellini and place back in stock pot.  Reserve 1 tablespoon of the cooked bacon and add the rest to the pasta mixture.  Add spinach, 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese.  Add sauce and gently stir to combine.  Place pasta mixture in an 8×8 or 9×9 baking dish and top with remaining 1/4 cup mozarella and 1/4 cup parmesan and also crumbled bacon.

5.  Cover pan with foil and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove foil and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes, until cheese on top is melted and pasta is bubbly throughout.  Remove from oven and serve.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Homemade Soft Pretzels

1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 package yeast
4 1/2 cups flour
4 Tablespoons butter, melted
10 cups water
2/3 cups baking soda
1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 Tablespoon water

Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside. (We just sprayed each pan with cooking spray and it worked great)

Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.

In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan.

Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.

We melted some butter and brushed some over the top and added some more kosher salt.
Enjoy with some cheese sauce, cream cheese, or dipping sauce of choice (I love mine with cream cheese, it is what I remember getting at the mall growing up on rare occasions)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Beef Enchiladas

1lb ground beef
1 package taco seasoning
1 cup water
2 cups rice, cooked
1 16 oz can refried beans
2 cups shredded cheese, divided
10, 8 inch, flour tortillas

Red Sauce-
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon onion, minced
½ teaspoon dried oregano
2 ½ teaspoons chili powder
½ teaspoon dried basil
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried parsley
¼ cup salsa
1 6 oz. can tomato sauce
1 ½ cups water 

 * My suggestion is to just buy canned red sauce.  This took a lot of time and wasn't that great...but the overall meal was YUMMY!

To make enchilada sauce- Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add the onion, chili powder, oregano, basil, ground black pepper, salt, cumin, parsley, tomato sauce and salsa. Mix well and then stir in the water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

In large skillet, brown ground beef over medium heat. Drain. Stir in taco seasoning and water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Stir in the rice. Cook and stir until the liquid is evaporated. Spread 2 tablespoon refried beans, ¼ cup ground beef mixture, and 1 tablespoon of cheese down the center of each flour tortilla. Roll up and place seam side down in a greased 9x13 baking pan. Repeat until all tortillas are filled.  Top enchiladas with red sauce and with the remaining cheese.

Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until heated through and the cheese has melted.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Zucchini Meatloaf

So Zach and I have a TON of Zucchini so I have been trying to find recipes for it...We tried this tonight.  I only put the topping on half.  It was not as sweet as Zach thought it would be.  He said it tasted just like normal meat loaf.

2 eggs, slightly beaten
2 c. shredded zucchini (1 large or 2 small)
1/3 c. plain bread crumbs
1/3 c. chopped onion
1 t. salt
1/2 t. dried oregano leaves
1/4 t. pepper
1 1/2 lb lean (at least 80%) ground beef

2 T. packed brown sugar
1/4 c. ketchup
1 t. yellow mustard

1.  Preheat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, mix all meat loaf ingredients until well blended. Press mixture into ungreased 9 1/2-inch deep-dish glass pie plate. Bake 35 minutes.

2.  Meanwhile, in small bowl, mix brown sugar, ketchup, and mustard.  Remove meat loaf from oven; pour off drippings. Spread topping over meat. Return to oven; bake 10 to 15 minutes longer or until thoroughly cooked in center (at least 160°F in the middle). Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Muddy Buddies

I know everyone knows how to make these, but I made them with Laryssa and she had so much fun!

9cups Corn Chex®, Rice Chex®, Wheat Chex® or Chocolate Chex® cereal (or combination)
(I do not suggest the wheat chex!)
1cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2cup peanut butter
1/4cup butter or margarine
1teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2cups powdered sugar

  1. 1Into large bowl, measure cereal; set aside.
  2. 2In 1-quart microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter uncovered on High 1 minute; stir. Microwave about 30 seconds longer or until mixture can be stirred smooth. Stir in vanilla. Pour mixture over cereal, stirring until evenly coated. Pour into 2-gallon resealable food-storage plastic bag.
  3. 3Add powdered sugar. Seal bag; shake until well coated. Spread on waxed paper to cool. Store in airtight container in refrigerator.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Cheesy Bread

I made this with our pizza tonight and everyone loved it!  

2-1/2 c. flour
1 t. salt
1 t. sugar
1 T. yeast
1 c. warm water
1 T. oil

1/4 c. prepared Italian salad dressing
1/2 t. sugar
1/8 t. salt
1/4 t. garlic powder
1/4 t. ground oregano
1/4 t. dried thyme
dash pepper
1-2 T. grated Parmesan cheese
1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

1.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  In a bowl combine water and yeast.  When frothy add sugar, oil, and salt.  Add enough flour to form a soft dough. Turn onto a floured surface; knead for 1-2 minutes or until smooth and elastic.  Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 20 minutes.

2.  Punch the dough down; place on a greased 16″ pizza pan and pat into a 16″ circle. Combine salad dressing and seasonings, brush evenly over dough, all the way to the edges. Sprinkle with cheeses.

3.  For a fluffier cheese bread, at this point, allow the bread to rest for 15 minutes or so. If you’re in a hurry, just skip this rise. (The bread will rise while it bakes, too.)  Bake for 11 minutes or until golden brown. Slice. Serve warm.

Pork Tacos with Chili Verde

Another one of Zach's favorites!

2-3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 lb pork sirloin roast, rinse, trimmed of fat, & cut into 1/2" cubes
2 1/2 salt, divided
1/2 tsp black pepper, divided
1 lg onion
5-6 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 1/2 lb tomatillos, husked and quaretered
2 green peppers, chopped
1-2 jalapenos, seeded and membranes removed, if desired
1/2 bunch cilantro, coursely chopped
4 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 tsp cumin
2-3 tbsp sugar

1. In a large saucepan or stockpot, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add the pork cubes and season with 1 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Add onion and garlic.  Cook, stirring frequently, until everything is tender and fragrant.

2. While onions are sauteing, combine tomatillos, green peppers, jalapenos, and cilantro in your blender.  Process until smooth; you may have to do it in baches and/or add some chicken broth to make the sauce easy to blend.

3. Pour the tomatillos mixture over the pork and add chicken broth, salt, pepper, cumin and sugar.  Simmer for 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the consistency you want.  You can also turn the heat to high and boil the chile verde uncovered until the desired consistency is reached.  Just be sure to stir frequently to avoid scorching.

4.  Serve in flour tortillas with guacamole and pico de gallo.

**Slow cooker instructions:  combine sauteed pork, onions garlic, tomatillo mixture and chicken broth in slow cooker and cook on low all day until desired consistency!!

Brazilian Lemonade

Zachs FAVORITE drink!!  We seriously have a large supply of limes in the fridge at all times.
4 juicy limes (try and find ones with thin, smooth skins; they’re the juiciest and the thin skin cuts down on the chance of your drink being bitter)
1 c. sugar
6 c. cold water
6 Tbsp. sweetened condensed milk
Mix cold water and sugar very well and chill until ready to use. This step can be done ahead of time.
Wash limes thoroughly with soap (I just use hand-dishwashing soap or regular hand soap); you need the soap to get the wax and pesticides off of the limes because you’re using the WHOLE lime, baby. Cut the ends off the limes and then cut each lime into 8ths.
Place 1/2 of the limes in your blender.
Add 1/2 of the sugar water, place the lid on your blender, and pulse 5 times. Place a fine-mesh strainer over a pitcher (the one you’ll serve the lemonade in) and pour the blended mixture through the strainer and into the pitcher. Use a spoon to press the rest of the liquid into the pitcher. Dump the pulp and stuff in the strainer into the trash. Repeat with remaining limes and sugar water. Add sweetened condensed milk; DO NOT leave this step out unless you will die of a horrible sweetened condensed milk allergy because this is the secret ingredient! You may want to taste test it at this point; I used giant, thick-skinned limes tonight and didn’t test it and it came out a little bitter. If it’s bitter, just add some more sugar and maybe a little more milk.
Serve immediately over lots of ice. This does not keep well, so don’t make this in advance (although you can cut the limes, mix the sugar water, and measure the sweetened condensed milk in advance). Serves 4, although I can pretty much guarantee you that people will want more; I usually plan on 1 1/2 servings at LEAST per person.