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*All recipes on this blog (unless otherwise noted) are Martha Stewart's from the Everyday Food Cookbooks here and here, they are not my own. If other than this I will post links to the recipes or indicate that they are originals*

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Pesto Pasta

There is just something about a simple pesto pasta.  
Flavorful, yet light, easy to make, yet complex flavor.
This is mostly the same as any pesto recipe, except it uses walnuts instead of pine nuts.
I couldn't really tell much of a difference, but it was good all the same. 
The nice addition of lemon juice added a bright taste also.
Whole wheat pasta made for a healthier version of this classic, of course you could always just use while pasta if you are feeling indulgent. 

Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Lighter Pesto
8oz whole wheat spaghetti
Lighter pesto (recipe below)
fresh basil leaves, torn for garnish (optional)

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook spaghetti until al dente.  Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water, drain pasta and return to pot.
Toss pasta with pesto, adding reserved pasta water a little at a time to create a thin sauce that coats spaghetti (you may not need all the water). Season with salt and pepper.  Serve immediately, garnished with basil if desired.

Lighter Pesto
3 cups firmly packed fresh basil leaves (2oz)
3 T walnut pieces
3 T grated parmesan cheese
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 T fresh lemon juice
3 T water
3 T olive oil

In a food processor, combine basil, walnuts, parmesan, garlic, lemon juice, and the water; season with S&P.  Puree until a paste forms.
With motor running, add oil in a thin stream.  Process until very smooth, about 1 minute.  
Pesto can be refrigerated in an airtight container, with plastic wrap pressed onto the surface to prevent discoloration, up to 3 days.  Or freeze in an airtight container up to 6 months.

Logan Rating: ****

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Chicken Pasta Salad

Somehow, all the 'in progress' photos from this meal were deleted.  Don't ask me how, but they are gone.  So this is what you get, just finished product photos. Luckily this is an easy recipe, so the photos of the process are really quite unnecessary anyway. 
This is a cold chicken pasta salad, which is actually quite good warmed as you can eat it either way, whichever your taste buds prefer more.
I liked it cold, Logan liked it choose.
This recipe calls for greek yogurt (which is what makes it lighter than your average pasta salad), and as I went to grab the Greek yogurt from the fridge I realized I made an epic mistake while grocery shopping.  Aren't those the worst kinds of mistakes, really?
Instead of plain yogurt I bought vanilla!!!!!!!! EPIC FAIL!
You can't put vanilla yogurt in a pasta salad!
So after grieving for a minute and attempting to ask a neighbor to save me, I put on my big girl pants, sucked it up and began to think of a solution.
It was about 6pm and this meal had to be finished before Logan left for work at 6:45pm (he works nights).  So a trip to the store was out of the question.
After almost settling with mayonnaise, because I just couldn't think of anything else I saw the ricotta cheese.  I mixed some ricotta with a little bit of 2% milk and it had a very similar texture and consistency as yogurt. SUCCESS! 
And to my surprise it actually tasted really good too!
I plan to someday make this recipe as it was intended to be made, but for now I will just bask in the glory of my success. 
Try it with yogurt!  Don't buy vanilla!  And let me know!

Pasta Salad with Chicken, Raisins, and almonds
2 T unblanched almonds
1 lb boneless, skinless, chicken breast halves
8oz whole wheat penne or other short pasta
1 cup plain low fat yogurt
1/2 cup golden raisins (optional, but highly recommended)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped parsley (I can't believe I actually used parsley)
1 T finely grated lemon zest, plus 2 T fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350.  Spread almonds on a rimmed baking sheet; toast in oven until darkened, tossing once or twice, 10-12 min.  Let cool, then coarsely chop.
Place chicken in a large saucepan and cover with water.  Bring to a boil, season with salt and reduce to a bare simmer.  Cover and cook 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let chicken stand, covered, until cooked through, 12-14 min more.  Remove chicken from liquid.  When cool enough to handle, shred into bite size pieces.
Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until al dente according to package directions.  Reserve 1/4 cup pasta water.  Drain pasta then rinse under cold water to stop the cooking, drain well.
In a large bowl, stir together pasta, chicken, yogurt, raisins (if using), parsley, almonds, and lemon zest and juice.  Thin sauce with reserved pasta water if necessary.  Season with S&P.  
Serve chilled or at room temp.
Serves 4.

It is all I can do most days to keep my cat (Olive) from jumping into my photo shoots and eating all the food on the plate. -pictured above
Logan Rating: ***

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Skinny Pumpkin Muffins

Have I mentioned to you all that it is FALL!?!
And that I LOVE FALL!?!
I have? twenty times? OH, good, cause I DO!
I saw this recipe here and I knew immediately I had to make it.
Pumpkin is a great way to make things moist and delicious without adding tons of fat and oil.
These muffins definitely lived up to my expectations.  They were so incredibly moist and flavorful, they really didn't even need butter, which makes them even better for you!
You will be totally missing the mark if you don't make these, everyone with love them.  
A perfect taste of fall!
*Click the link above for the recipe!*
Makes 12 muffins.
Logan Rating: *****

Monday, September 24, 2012

Grain Salad with goat cheese

This could be a light lunch, or a side dish or maybe even an afternoon snack.  
With flavors that are similar to a Caprese salad, I cannot get enough of this tasty treat, which also happens to be pretty darn healthy as well.  Whole grains, veggies, and a little goat cheese and vinegar to top off the flavor explosion that goes on in your mouth.  
Bold statement, I know, but it is true.  
I was unsure if I would like this and I definitely didn't think Logan would like it at all.
But I do, and he did, and you will!

Mediterranean Grain Salad
1 1/3 cups medium-grind bulgur
2 2/3 cups boiling water
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 1/2 cups loosely packed fresh flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped 
(Or Basil if you are a parsley hater like myself)
2 small shallots, minced
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 T plus 2 tsp olive oil
4 oz fresh goat cheese, crumbled

In a heatproof bowl, combine bulgur, 1 tsp salt and boiling water.  Cover and let stand until tender but slightly chewy, about 30 min. 
Drain bulgur in a fine sieve, pressing to remove liquid; return to bowl. Add tomatoes, Parsley (or basil),

shallots, vinegar, and oil.
Season with salt and pepper, and toss.  Serve topped with cheese.
Serves 4. 

Logan Rating: ***

Drool Worthy Dinner Rolls

Excuse me, really quickly, while I wipe the drool from my chin.
OK that's better.
I cannot even begin to explain to you how absolutely delicious these rolls are.
Browned and crusty on the outside, light and doughy on the inside, taste homemade.
The best part?  THEY ARE NOT!  Well besides the fact that they are put in the oven after letting the frozen dough thaw. Yeah that's right, I said frozen!  
Why would I ever make rolls from scratch, when I can have these!?! 
Make these.  That's an order.

Dinner Rolls
Rhodes frozen dinner rolls.
olive oil
sea salt & pepper
fresh rosemary

Follow package directions to thaw dough and let it rise.
Once risen, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with S&P and rosemary.
Bake according to package directions.
Logan Rating: *****

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Broccoli Chowder

It makes me so happy to say...IT IS SOUP SEASON!
Tomorrow is the very first day of fall, and despite the fact that the temperature will most likely not reflect that, I will no longer feel bad about making soup.
I love soup.  
Maybe that's why I choose to live in a place where there are WAY more months of cold weather than there are warm.  There has to be some sort of explanation.
So, on day early, I celebrated the coming of fall by making soup.
In specific, Broccoli Chowder from the "light" version of Everyday Food.
I served this tasty, yet light soup with some dinner rolls (more to come on these in a different post).
I also added about 1/2 cup of light sour cream to this recipe, I should thought it needed a little extra creaminess, and it really did the trick.  I also served it with a little grated cheddar, everything is better with CHEESE.
This was the perfect meal to celebrate the end of summer and welcome the beginning of fall.
You must try this soup!

Broccoli Chowder with Corn and Bacon
4 slices bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 medium onion, finely chopped 
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 cans (14.5oz each) low sodium chicken broth
1 large russet potato, peeled and diced 
1 head broccoli (about 1 lb), cut into bite-size florets, stalks peeled and thinly sliced
2 cups fresh (from about 3 ears) or frozen corn kernals (do not thaw)
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 cup milk

In a 5 quart Dutch oven or other heavy pot, cook bacon over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 8-10 min.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. 
Increase heat to medium.  Add onion and cook, stirring, until it begins to soften, 6-8 minutes.
Add flour; cook, stirring constantly, 30 seconds (do not let brown).
Add broth and potato; bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer; cook until potato is tender, about 10 min.
Add broccoli, corn, thyme, and milk; cook until broccoli is crisp-tender, 8-10 minutes. 
Season with S&P.  Serve immediately, topped with bacon.

Serves 4. 

Logan Rating: ***

Eggplant Rollatini

Are you looking for low carb ideas? 
If so this is a great recipe for you.
If not, well just add homemade garlic bread like I did, DUH.
This eggplant dish is a totally perfect fall meal.  Gotta love warm, cheesy comfort food!
This is pretty much lasagna with eggplant instead of noodles and it is pretty good.
I won't lie, if you don't like eggplant (probably because of the texture) you won't miraculously like this recipe, because while there is a lot of cheesy goodness, it is also mostly eggplant.
Logan has been gone all week and this is one recipe I knew he would not go for, therefore this was a really good time to make it.
This is really quick and easy to put together, but it does take about an hour to cook in the oven. 
Also be careful not to cut the eggplant too thin, it softens really well in the first cooking process and many of my pieces were difficult to roll because they were too thin.  Other than that, this was a pretty easy meal that I'm sure all of you will try and report back, right?!?

Eggplant Rollatini 
1 or 2 large Italian eggplants, cut lengthwise into eight total 1/2 in thick slices
1 cup homemade or store bought marinara sauce
1/2 cup part skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
1 large egg
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella (4 oz)
Crusty bread, for serving (optional)

Preheat oven to 375.  Season eggplant with S&P; arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Cover baking sheet securely with parchment, then foil (I just used foil and it worked perfectly) and bake until eggplant is tender and pliable but NOT fully cooked, 10-12 min. 
Spread 1/4 cup marinara sauce on the bottom of a 2 quart baking dish.  
In a small bowl, mix together ricotta, Parm, egg, garlic, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper.
Pat eggplant dry with paper towels.  Dividing evenly, spoon ricotta mixture onto short end of eggplant slices, leaving a 1 in border on the end and a 1/4 in border on either side.  Starting at the short end, roll up slices; arrange in prepared dish, seam side down.  Top with remaining 3/4 cup marinara sauce. 
Cover dish with foil; and bake until eggplant is very tender, 50-60 minutes.  Uncover and sprinkle with mozzarella, bake until cheese is melted, 3-5 min.  Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes before serving with bread, if desired, and topped with additional Parm. 

Serves 4.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Turkey Chili Meatballs

I strayed away from the usual few cookbooks this week and boy was it successful.
These chili meatballs and mashed potatoes are from Rachel Ray's "Just In Time".
And while we were very impressed with the recipe itself, I would say I'm much less enthusiastic about the cookbook.  Sadly it has little to do with the actual content and mostly related to the fact that there are only 8 pictures in the entire cookbook.  
I don't think I'm alone in today's cooking world when I say that I definitely 'eat with my eyes', hence the popularity of websites like foodgawker, foodbuzz and yumgoggle, just to name a few. It blows my mind when cookbooks have no photos!  Maybe it's just me, but it really makes me not want to cook out of them.  I am trying though, I have to, because there are really A LOT of cookbooks that have very little photos...much to my dismay.  
Mark my words, if I ever publish a cookbook (fat chance) it will have photos for EVERY recipe.  
Ok anyway, enough ranting for one day.
Besides the lack of photo for this recipe, it was pretty fantastic, check out the Logan rating.  It pretty much speaks for itself!
The mashed potatoes are so incredibly simple, yet seriously so good, I was impressed.  Usually I think I over-complicate mashed potatoes and load them with way too many ingredients. This reminded me that sometimes simpler, is better. 
And the meatballs...oh those meatballs...don't even get me started on the meatballs.
They were divine!  So impressed with how simple and amazingly flavorful these were.
You have to try them, today, tomorrow, sometimes soon!
And then let me know what you think!?! 
Also I do love Rachel Ray for reminding me that cooking is not all about precise measurement. Her recipes teach me to trust my judgement and use my taste buds more often to determine if I've got the right amount of a certain ingredient.  Thanks Rachel! 

Turkey Chili Meatballs
1 1/4 lb ground turkey breast
1 onion, peeled
4 large garlic cloves, grated or finely chopped
1 T chili powder, a palmful 
2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese
1/4 cup cilantro or parsley leaves, a handful, coarsely chopped
2 T EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
1/4 cup molasses (eyeball it)
1/2 cup cider vinegar (eyeball it)
1/4 cup light or dark brown sugar (eyeball it)
1 (28oz) can crushed fire roasted tomatoes

Sour Cream Smashed Potatoes
2 lbs new potatoes or baby yukon golds
3 T butter
1/2-3/4 cup sour cream (eyeball it)
3-4 T snipped or chopped chives

Preheat the oven to 400. 
Cut larger potatoes in half, leave smaller baby potatoes whole and place them all in a saucepot. Add water to cover by about 1 inch, cover with a lid and bring to a boil over high heat.  Remove the lid and simmer the potatoes until tender, 12-15 minutes.  Drain and return the potatoes to their pot, then add 
2 T of the butter, some S&P, the sour cream and the chives.  Smash with a fork or potato masher until your preferred consistency is achieved. 

While the potatoes are coming up to a boil, place the turkey in a mixing bowl.  Grate half of the onion into the meat along with half of the garlic, the chili powder, shredded cheese, cilantro or parsley, and S&P.  Form the mixture into 1 1/2 in round meatballs and arrange on a nonstick baking sheet.  Drizzle the meatballs with a little EVOO(I skipped this) and roast in the oven for 12 minutes, or until they are golden and the juices run clear.

Once you have the meatballs in the oven, start the BBQ sauce.  Place a large skillet over medium-high heat with 2 T of EVOO.  Chop the remaining half onion, and add it to the center of the skillet along with the remaining garlic and S&P.  Cook, stirring frequently for 3-4 minutes.  Add molasses, cider vinegar, and brown sugar; stir to combine; then stir in the fire roasted tomatoes.  Bring up to a bubble and simmer the sauce over low heat until you are ready to eat.  ( I added about 1T cornstarch mixed in 1 T water to thicken the sauce a bit). 
Remove the meatballs from the oven and add to the skillet with the BBQ sauce.  Toss to coat with sauce.  Plate up the meatballs with a little more sauce on top and serve with the smashed potatoes.  

Serves 4.

Logan Rating: *****