Saturday, March 26, 2011

Bacon-Wrapped Chicken and Cream Cheese Bundles

This recipe made me feel like I was 12 years old, sitting on the couch in my parents family room, watching the Simpson's while mom cooked dinner. I loved it. This may not be your bag, but I sure liked it, Jack SCARFED it... which is always a plus because he needs those calories, and Josh seemed pleased.


3 Chicken Breasts
Strips of bacon
1 block of cream cheese
Fresh chives, chopped (about 1/4 cup.)

What You Do:

Preheat oven to 400.

Pound out your chicken breasts between some parchment/wax paper, to thin the meat to about 1/2" thick. (The thinner, the more evenly it will cook.) If your chicken is wet- sprinkle some flour on it. Stir the chives in with your cream cheese and divide 3 ways. Spread it onto the chicken breasts and roll them up. Wrap with bacon- my mom suggested 1 strip, I did 2, it depends on what bacon you get. I just wanted it to be wrapped well, plus the grease from the bacon moistens the chicken and makes it nice and juicy. Fasten it with a toothpick, then place in a dish that will hold all the juices and cheese that will inevitably melt out. Bake for 45 min, or until the chicken is cooked through. If your bacon isn't crispy enough for you, you can broil it for a few minutes, but keep your eye on it.

Serve- and don't eat the toothpick. I served a side of yellow and green squash sauteed in butter, salt and pepper. Yum.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Lemon Asparagus Bowtie Pasta

I found this on my new favorite food blog, found HERE. Honestly I should just quit now, 'cause this chick has it all figured out. But nevertheless, I'll pick and choose some fun things and make them. I've been pleased with everything so far. This is EASY and SO TASTY.

lemon asparagus pasta
1 large bunch of asparagus
250 g bow-tie pasta
1 t salt
3 T butter
3/4 c heavy cream
2 T freshly grated lemon zest (from about 2 lemons)
1/4 c fresh lemon juice
1/4 t salt (optional)
1/3 c finely chopped parsley
1/2 c grated parmesan cheese

1. Prepare asparagus by snapping off the bottom tough ends & then snapping each stalk into 1 inch pieces.

2. In a large pot, boil water and add 1 heaping teaspoon of salt. Add pasta. When pot comes back to a boil again, put prepared asparagus into a large metal colander, place over the boiling pot and cover the asparagus with the pot lid. One and a half minutes into the steaming process, take tongs and gently toss asparagus, replacing lid for another one minute and a half. Remove colander and rinse asparagus under cold water until cool. The asparagus should be crisp-tender. Drain well and set aside.

3. In a smaller pot, combine lemon juice, butter and cream over moderately low heat. Stir in zest then remove pot from heat and stir in 1/4 cup of the pasta water into the cream sauce.

4. Drain pasta and return to pot. Add in the asparagus and parsley and combine well. Add the cream sauce and parmesan chees and cook over moderate heat, tossing until heated through. Taste and add remaining salt if necessary.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Boston Cream Pie Mini

what you need

1 pkg. (2-layer size) yellow cake mix
1 pkg. (3.4 oz.) JELL-O Vanilla Flavor Instant Pudding
1 cup cold milk
1-1/2 cups thawed COOL WHIP Whipped Topping, divided
4 squares BAKER'S Semi-Sweet Chocolate
1 tsp. rum extract (optional)

make it

HEAT oven to 350ºF.

PREPARE cake batter and bake as directed on package for 24 cupcakes. Cool completely.

BEAT pudding mix and milk with whisk 2 min. (i put in some rum extract- maybe 1 tsp.) Let stand 5 min. Meanwhile, use serrated knife to cut cupcakes horizontally in half. Whisk 1/2 cup COOL WHIP into pudding; spoon onto bottom halves of cupcakes, using about 1 Tbsp. for each. Cover with cupcake tops.

MICROWAVE remaining COOL WHIP and chocolate in small microwaveable bowl on HIGH 1-1/2 min. or until chocolate is almost melted, stirring after 1 min. Stir until well blended. Let stand 15 min.; spread onto cupcakes. Refrigerate 15 min.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Portobello Mushroom Ravioli with Homemade Pesto (and snow pudding for dessert)

I was looking forward to last night's dinner all weekend. I absolutely LOVE hosting dinner guests and planning the meal. Normally I'll have people bring something, but this time I was in the mood to plan the whole menu myself (I did end up having someone bring bread because I realized I didn't have enough).

Tip #1, when you're hosting dinner guests and doing it all yourself, it takes a LOT of pressure off to have one of the dishes mostly pre-made whether it's dessert, a side or the main dish. In my case, it was the main dish. I bought portobello mushroom ravioli from Costco (SO good). However, I did make the pesto myself. Pesto is really easy. I made a ton last fall when I decided to just harvest all my basil once and for all. Fortunately, pesto freezes really well, and it's versatile. Here is the recipe I used:

Spinach Basil Pesto

1 cup spinach
1 cup basil
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
3 garlic cloves
1 T lemon zest
1 T lemon juice
1/2 cup pine nuts

There is no trick or method to this. Just throw it all in a food processor or blender. I actually ended up throwing some hazelnuts in there too because I needed to use them. So I saved the rest of the pine nuts to toss in a green salad.

The spinach doesn't really add flavor because it's so mild. But it makes the pesto a brighter, pretty green color you wouldn't get from using basil alone. Sorry I didn't get a picture of the finished product. I was really lazy with pics and just used the camera on my phone.

So I made the pesto the night before. I also made dessert the night before.

I actually made a dessert that wasn't chocolate. I know! It's hard to believe, but chocolate is pretty rich and because the main dish was so rich and heavy, I wanted something light, airy and...lemony. I decided on snow pudding.

Oh this dessert. It's so good. After everyone had one serving I just brought out the rest and let people gobble it all up. OK, not ALL of it. I actually just finished it off an hour ago. It's SO good. I actually have a lot of custard left and I might just put custard on everything for the next few days. I'm thinking of making blueberry muffins tonight. I bet custard would be good on those...

Sorry, before I make plans for other recipes let me give you the snow pudding recipe. This was definitely the most time consuming thing I could have made, but obviously, it was worth it.

Snow Pudding:

1 T unflavored gelatin
3 T cold water
1 cup boiling water
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 cup sugar
3 egg whites, stiffly beaten (save the yolks for the custard)

Dissolve one packet of unflavored gelatin (I used Knox) in the cold water. After ten minutes, it should gel a bit. Dissolve that into 1 cup of boiling water. Add lemon juice and sugar. Put in fridge and let cool in the fridge for a few hours (wait until it's a jelly consistency).

Take the gelatin mixture out of the fridge and whisk until it's good and frothy. Fold in the stiffly beaten egg whites and then whisk that on high until it's well combined. Chill for a couple hours.

You might want to make the custard while the gelatin mixture is gelling:

5 T sugar
1/2 t salt
3 egg yolks
2 cups scaled milk
1/2 t vanilla

Put the milk over medium heat until JUST before it boils. Don't burn it. While that's heating up mix the egg yolks with the sugar and salt (I've said it before and I'll say it again: never skip or skimp on the salt in a dessert recipe. It enhances the flavor and adds a nice contrast to the sugar). When the milk is good and scalded, whisk in the egg yolk mixture.

And then you sit and stir on low heat for what seems like the rest of your life. It should eventually thicken. You don't want the eggs to curdle so you need to keep the heat low. Mix with a wooden spoon until the mixture coats the back of the spoon. It won't be a pudding consistency, it will be a sauce consistency.

Stick it in the fridge.

You can store it in the fridge for a day or two. The frothy lemony, gelatin mixture will stiffen and hold it's shape so you can scoop it into bowls. Drizzle custard over the snow pudding and serve!

Anyone remember Jell-O 1-2-3? Remember the frothy top layer? That's what the "snow" part of the pudding basically is. But OH so much classier.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Cracker Toffee

I got this off of my new favorite- THIS website, . I can't stop perusing this site for snacks, dinners sides and ideas. It's superb. I brought these tasty treats for game night and truly, I was surprised how easy it was. And they are very, very good... I substituted the fleur du sel with regular coarse salt, and sprinkled the almonds on after mixing them with the coarse salt. It helps bring out ALL the flavors. Get recipe HERE.