November 30, 2011

Linguine with Shrimp in Saffron Cream Sauce

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I've been wanting to make a saffron cream sauce for pasta for a while now.  I've also been hesitant to make a true Alfredo because of all the fat and the fact that we don't need them.  I decided to try and cut some of the fat down by going with a low fat cream cheese based Alfredo type sauce.  I still used some heavy cream but no where near as much as a regular Alfredo sauce uses (which is all heavy cream!).
I totally prefer seafood with my Alfredo and shrimp is usually the seafood of my choice.  I'm not sure if heating the saffron in some oil and then sauteing the shrimp did a whole lot - but I wanted to get a little more of the color than I would have than if I hadn't.  This was delicious in any case and Grumpy and I both enjoyed it.  However, I can guarantee that he will not want me to cook shrimp again anytime soon.  When I posted about my Roasted Shrimp Tasting Spoons I mentioned he thinks I cook it too often (which is so not true!).  He's running out of animal protien for me to cook!  ha ha.  Right now its between beef and chicken.  He doesn't care to have me cook him pork chops anymore either - something he used to complain that I never cooked enough of.  Maybe he's going to turn vegetarian on me soon, or maybe I'm having some wishful thinking!
This is my dish to share with Presto Pasta Nights this week.  Ruth of Once Upon a Feast and also the founder of PPN is the host for this week's round up which will be on Friday, December 2, 2011.  Can you believe our year is almost over?!  If you are interested in joining us this week, head on over to the PPN website for the guidelines and submit your post by Thursday, December 1, 2011 to Ruth(at)4everykitchen(dot)com.  This is probably my last PPN post until after our vacation.  I have less than two weeks left and time crunch is starting to hit big time, but I will be back joining in again once we return!  In the meantime, check out Ruth's page on Friday for all of this weeks posts, and check out the PPN site for all previous links for some great pasta ideas!  
Linguine with Shrimp in Saffron Cream Sauce
1 package (8 oz) fresh linguine, cooked according to package directions, reserving 3/4 cup hot liquid after pasta is cooked
4 oz 1/3 less fat cream cheese
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 generous pinches saffron threads, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Reserve 3/4 cup hot pasta liquid and stir in a generous pinch of saffron threads.  Set aside.

Add 1 tablespoon olive oilt to medium skillet and heat medium high.  Drop in a generous pinch of saffron and cook for a minute.  Add shrimp seasoned with salt and pepper and cook 3-4 minutes or until shrimp has just turned pink.  Toss with 1 large clove minced garlic.  Remove from heat and set aside.

In another saucepan (sorry, this dirties 3 dishes, but its well worth it!) heat butter and cream cheese, whisking until smooth.  Add the saffron infused pasta liquid along with 1/2 cup heavy cream and whisk to combine.  Simmer on low 2-3 minutes.  Transfer sauce to frying pan the shrimp is in and return to heat.  Bring back to a simmer and scrape all the yummy deliciousness from the bottom of the frying pan - and stir until blended.  Toss with linguine, serve with chopped chives as a garnish.

November 29, 2011

Crispy Sour Cream and Chive Potato Bites

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What did you do with your Thanksgiving leftover mashed potatoes?  Well, to be honest with you, we didn't have leftovers.  Not until on the day after Thanksgiving, when I made Grumpy and me a Turkey dinner to have at home for ourselves.  Then we had plenty!  

For just the two of us I did roast a whole turkey (10 lbs worth), a large batch of sour cream and chive mashed potatoes, stuffing (um, from a box, but its was good!), green bean casserole, and homemade gravy.
I have never been a fan of potatoes.  I believe I have told the story before about how I was caught tossing my mashed potatoes in my Aunt Marlene's garbage one year --- all because I missed the trash can.  Ugh.  Boy was I a girl in trouble.  However now as an adult I do love some mashed potatoes with gravy and corn mixed in.  I also like crispy fried potatoes.  I happened to be on and was looking at their newest uploaded photos.  I like to check them out and if I really like someone's photo, I will vote on it.  I saw the photo for potato pancakes and decided to check out the recipe.  I was thinking about those mashed potatoes in my refrigerator and how much I actually had and what could I do with some of them.  That recipe made me remember that potato patties were a good idea!
It then hit me, what a perfect little party bite these could be.  These could not only be used as a side dish to your meal (breakfast is a good meal to make this a side to also!) but they could be a part of an appetizer party.
Crispy Sour Cream and Chive Mashed Potato Bites
2 cups cold mashed potatoes*
1 egg, beaten
1/4 - 1/3 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs, plus more for coating cakes prior to frying
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
salt & pepper to taste
Suggested garnishes:
sour cream

*A note about your mashed potatoes.  When making this recipe, if your mashed potatoes are still kind of wet, then you will need to add more bread crumbs to help thicken the cakes up.  I wouldn't skip the egg because that is a binder, although I'm sure you can get away with it by adding cheese or something else that would help keep the cakes together.  My mashed potatoes were mashed with some butter and sour cream.  I did not use any milk when mashing, so they were on the dryer side the next day when I made these cakes.  I used about 1/4 cup of the bread crumbs and they held their shape quite well.  You will have to go with what you feel will work when it comes to your potatoes and how wet or dry they are.

Cut through mashed potatoes to crumble and loosen them up to prepare for mixing other ingredients in.  Stir in egg, bread crumbs, seasoning, salt and pepper.  I would probably put about 1/2 cup fresh grated asiago or parmesean cheese in the next recipe I made.  I like a bit of a stronger flavor and the cheese would add just that.

Once ingredients are well blended, prep a plate by covering it with bread crumbs.  Scoop potato balls using small cookie scoop and place on top of crumbs.  Roll ball over and coat opposite side, patting cake down some to flatten.  Move to another plate until ready to fry.  Repeat until all potato mixture has been scooped and coated.

If you are garnishing with bacon, after the bacon hash been cooked, you can use some of the bacon grease for frying these cakes.  You may need to add more olive oil as you go along as the cakes do absorb the oil.  If your not using bacon, then just go ahead and use olive oil.  Heat oil in skillet until a few crumbs dropped in pan sizzles.  Add cakes and brown on one side, cooking over medium to medium high heat.  Stay with these as they cook as they can brown quickly.  Once browned on first side, flip and cook until browned on second side.  Do not keep flipping cakes.  They will be fragile and can break easily by flipping over and over.

Place cakes on serving platter with sour cream, chives, and bacon as garnish.  Another way you may enjoy these cakes would be to make them just a little larger and top a cake with a soft fried egg and salsa - perfect weekend breakfast or evening dinner!  Enjoy!

November 28, 2011

Making Thoughtful Edible Holiday Gifts -- Your Freezer Can Help

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Today I would like to share a guest post with you by fellow foodie and published author Cheri Sicard.  Her website, Cheri on Ice is full of freezer friendly recipes.  If you haven't met her yet, I encourage you to visit her!  
Today she will be sharing a post on how your freezer can be your friend when it comes to holiday gifts!  
Thank you Cheri for being willing to share with me today on my blog! 

Making Thoughtful Edible Holiday Gifts -- Your Freezer Can Help

What do you get for the person who has everything?  How about a thoughtful homemade edible gift?  From cookies and sweets to from-scratch soups and entrees prepared with love, edible gifts are appropriate for just about everyone on your list.  Not only will homemade edible gifts save you a bundle on your holiday shopping budget, by preparing foods in advance and freezing them, you can cut down on the stress of the last minute rush and relax and enjoy the holidays this year.

With the variety of festive freezer containers and colored plastic wraps and foils available this time of year, it’s easy to make your gifts look good while keeping them protected in the freezer.

So many people don’t cook because they either don’t know how, they’re too busy, or they live alone, so receiving a gift of home cooking is truly a treat.  The people I find who most appreciate homemade gifts are often the ones who are hardest to shop for such as elderly relatives, or busy professionals who never have time too cook and too often rely on take out.

What Kind of Edible Gifts Freeze Well?

The variety is endless, especially if you think outside the typical sugar laden holiday fare (not that there’s anything wrong with that either).  For the recipes suggested below along with lots of other possibilities, check out my book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Easy Freezer Meals (2011, Alpha Books).  Consider these categories of fabulous edible gifts you can make now and pull out of the freezer in time for holiday gift giving:

Casseroles and Baked Entrees – Your gift of a homemade frozen entrée feeds a family dinner and gives the regular cook a night off.  Some baked entrees that freeze well include Lasagna, Baked Macaroni and Cheese, Enchiladas, Stuffed Shells, Meatloaf, and many more.  Check your local dollar store for disposable foil.

Soups – Everyone loves homemade soup, especially in winter, and most soups freeze exceptionally well.
Appetizers – Help the hostess during the busy holiday season with gifts of appetizers that only need to be heated and served.  Mini quiches, hot baked dips, or elegant baked brie en croute are great examples of appetizers that will keep the holidays festive.

Cookies – When I give cookies, more often that not it’s in the form of unbaked logs of dough.  That way the recipient can bake up fresh hot cookies, a few at a time, anytime they want a treat.

Cakes – Freeze whole decorated cakes, frosted with buttercream icing.  Place on a decorative plate, bring to room temperature, and your gift is ready.  Another idea is to make a large variety of cupcakes and give everyone on your list an assortment.
Cheesecakes -- Cheesecakes freeze well and because they don’t have layers, they often are easier to transport than other cakes.

Tips for Making and Giving Homemade Foods from the Freezer
  • If you want the frozen food to stay frozen, so the recipient can enjoy it later, package in insulated bags or cooler chests packed with ice packs until it can be transferred to the recipient’s freezer.
  • Include instructions for cooking or reheating where appropriate.
  • Look for pretty inexpensive serving containers that you can package your edible gifts in at thrift stores, garage sales, and close out sales.  Keep an eye out for platters, plates, bowls, baking dishes, cake plates, etc.  

Here are two recipes to get you started from my book The Complete Idiot's Guide to Easy Freezer Meals (find many more in the book),

The Mini-Quiche Lorraines are a perfect heat and eat party appetizer, the Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake is an unforgettable decadent dessert you'll be asked to make over and over again.

Mini Quiche Lorraines
This elegant little retro appetizer is rich with flavor from eggs, smoky bacon and nutty Swiss cheese.

Yield:  48 mini quiches
Prep Time:  45 minutes
Cook Time:   40 minutes
Serving Size:  3 quiches                                                                  

4 TB. butter
4 TB. vegetable shortening
1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour4 TB. milk
1/2 lb. bacon
6 ounces Swiss cheese, shredded
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups half and half
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Prepare crust by cutting butter and shortening into flour by pulsing 8 to 10 times in a food processor until well combined.  You can alternatively use a pastry blender to accomplish this but prepares to spend more time at it.  Transfer mixture from processor to a large bowl, stir 4 tablespoons milk until dough just holds together.  Gather into a ball, flatten into a disk and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Place bacon slices on a broiler pan and bake in oven for about 10 minutes or until bacon is cooked and crispy.  Let cool and crumble.  Reduce heat to 375 degrees F.

Divide dough in half and roll out crust to 1/8-inch on a lightly floured surface.  Use a 2 1/2-inch round cookie cutter or a small glass with an opening about that size, to cut 24 circles from dough, rerolling as necessary.  Press each circle into a mini-muffin cup – dough should cover bottom and sides with no overhang.  Repeat with remaining dough and muffin cups.

Sprinkle crumbled cooked bacon into bottom of each dough-lined cup, about 1/2 teaspoon per cup.  Sprinkle about 3/4 teaspoon grated cheese into each cup on top of bacon.

Whisk together eggs, half and half, salt, pepper, and nutmeg until well combined.  Pour egg mixture into muffin cups until just filled.  Bake for about 40 minutes or until quiches are set and tops are golden brown.  Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans and cooling completely on a wire rack.  Stack cooled quiches, with waxed paper between layers, in a large lidded rigid side freezer container or containers.

To reheat after freezing:

Place frozen quiches on a baking sheet prayed with cooking spray and bake for 20 to 25 minutes at 375 degrees F.

Microwave 2 frozen mini-quiches for about 30 seconds or until heated through.

Variations: Instead of appetizers, turn this recipe into a brunch or lunch entrée by making one big 9-inch pie instead of mini-quiches.  You can also substitute diced cooked ham for the bacon.

Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake

This is the ultimate rich and creamy moist cheesecake made even better by a swirl of tart raspberry sauce.
Yield:  1 (10-inch) cake
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time:  2 hours
Serving Size: 1/12 of cake

3 1/2 cups crushed graham crackers
1/2 cup melted unsalted butter
1 cup fresh raspberries
1/3 cup water
1 TB. freshly squeezed lemon juice
[1/4] cup plus 1 1/4 cups sugar
2 lbs. (4-8oz. packages) cream cheese
2 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 pint sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Use a food processor to pulverize graham crackers to crumbs.  Mix in meted butter.  Press graham crumb mix into the bottom and up the sides of a 10-inch springform pan.  Bake crust for about 8 minutes or until set.  Remove crust from oven and set aside, reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees F.

In a medium saucepan, combine raspberries, water, lemon juice and 1/4 cup sugar over medium-high heat.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and pour mixture through a cheesecloth-lined sieve to strain the seeds.  If you don’t mind raspberry seeds, you can forego the straining.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and remaining 1 1/4 cup sugar and vanilla extract with an electric mixer until smooth, light, fluffy and lump-free.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until blended.  Quickly beat in the sour cream just until blended.

Spoon 1/3 of the cheese mixture into the springform pan with crust.  Drop 6 or so tablespoons of raspberry sauce randomly over the batter.  Spoon 1/3 more batter in, followed by another round of raspberry sauce spoonfuls, topped with the remaining cheesecake batter.  Try to space out the raspberry sauce so that one layer is not directly on top of another.  Take a blunt knife and swirl it through the batter to help distribute the raspberry sauce, taking care not to go so deep as to disturb the crust on the bottom.  Bake in the lower part of the oven for 1 hour.  Turn off oven but do not open the door for 1 hour.

Transfer cake to a wire rack to cool before covering and chilling in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours.  Cover and freeze.  If you want to freeze the cake whole, run a knife around edges and slightly loosen ring, then tighten again and freeze cake, covered with foil, in the pan.  Otherwise, remove cake from pan and freeze portions in lidded freezer containers.  Let thaw in the refrigerator before serving.

Variations:  Substitute blackberries, strawberries or blueberries for the raspberries.  Cheesecake purists may opt to leave out the fruit swirls entirely.

About the author:  Cheri Sicard (Los Angeles, Calif.) was the creator, editor, and publisher of, now owned by  She is the author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Easy Freezer Meals (2011, Alpha Books, ISBN: 1615640649) and the chief cook and bottle washer at -- a freezer and make ahead cooking blog.

November 25, 2011

Roasted Shrimp Tasting Spoons with Two Sauces

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I just love little bites.  Little bites, small plates, tasting plates, anything that is not of major proportion.  This is the way we should always eat in my opinion!  One of the reasons I dislike eating out is because of the amount of food they give you for a serving-its like they encourage us to gorge and get fat!  Its my opinion, one serving is enough to feed two if not 3 comfortably.

Appetizer style eating really is so appealing and is becoming a whole lot more popular lately.  You can eat a little of this or that and not feel super stuffed.  I love a lot of variety but I don't love how much you get when you want to try more than one thing.   So, the places that are popping up that are offering the small plates are places I am a whole lot more interested in going to.
Which brings me to this post.  Have you seen the new tableware at Pier 1?  They have this new (well, new to me anyway) collection called the "tasting collection".  When I first saw it on their website I went crazy.  I knew I wanted some of these cute little dishes.  Unfortunately I can't afford to buy them in the sets but fortunately they do offer some of them individually!  I bought myself 3 of these cute little tasting spoons and a couple each of some other minis that you will see pop up on my blog here in the next few weeks.
The first thing I decided I was going to do was roast some shrimp and offer them up with a couple of different sauces.  One being a traditional cocktail sauce and the other a thousand island sauce.  Oh how cute these are!  I sometimes wish I could be a weekend hostess for fancy parties held at my fancy home and serve these fancy little bites.

I made this while Grumpy was off hunting and had something else ready for him to eat when he got home.  He had recently told me he was tired of shrimp (who gets tired of shrimp?!).  I didn't mind when he told me he was tired of pork chops because I never cared much to make them anyway.  That is why you don't see many pork chop recipes around here any more.  I really don't care to have that happen with shrimp because I tend to like it!  This was perfect for a little meal and I had a small salad to compliment.  The spice from the pepper and the sweet from the ketchup in the horseradish sauce as well as the 1000 Island sauce really made it yummy!

Roasted Shrimp Tasting Spoons with Two Sauces

printable recipe

1 lb medium raw shrimp, peeled and de-veined
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
juice of 1/2 lemon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place shrimp in ceramic roasting dish and toss with salt, pepper and lemon juice and bake until shrimp is no longer pink.

Thousand Island Dressing (Grumpy's favorite!)
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup ketchup
2 Tablespoons sweet pickle relish
1 teaspoon lemon juice
salt and pepper

Stir ingredients together until blended.  Store in refrigerator.

Cocktail Sauce
2 Tablespoons grated horseradish
1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
6 tablespoons ketchup
Fresh lemon juice

Stir ingredients together until blended.  Store in refrigerator.  

November 24, 2011

Irish Coffee

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How simple does it get?  A holiday morning, chill in the air, a workout complete (an hours worth at that!) and a hot mug of Irish Coffee.  Looking forward to spending the day with family today and I wish you and yours the best Thanksgiving Day ever.  I will miss my sons and my parents today but will find comfort in knowing they are spending the day with family that loves them!  Sit back, relax, enjoy your day, and end it with a nice hot steaming cup of Irish Coffee.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Irish Coffee

6 oz hot brewed coffee
1 shot glass Irish Cream Liquor
2 tablespoons homemade whipped cream*

In glass measure, mix hot coffee and Irish Cream Liquor together.

In coffee mug, place 2 tablespoons whipped cream.  Pour coffee mixture over whipped cream.  Whisk and enjoy.

*I make homemade whipped cream by putting 1/2 cup heavy cream in the blender.  I add a couple tablespoons of powdered sugar and 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract.  I whiz the blender on high until it looks like the cream has started to thicken.  Be careful to not whiz too long or you will turn your cream to butter!  Its ok that its not super thick--I actually let mine be just a little on the soft side when using for this recipe.

November 21, 2011

Cabbage Noodles

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Last week I missed out on making a pasta dish.  We have had a bit of business around here that had Grumpy out of the house a few nights so I had a hard time psyching myself up to cook a meal for just me. Friday night was our first night together in a few days so I decided I was going to make something delicious yet not terrible for our health/waistlines.  I pulled out my George Foreman Grill and grilled some seasoned chicken tenderloins and made these yummy cabbage noodles to go with.  Grumpy covered his tenderloins in Buffalo Sauce while I dipped mine in some of my favorite Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ Sauce.

It had been a while since I had sauteed any cabbage and I was craving it.  We LOVE sauteed cabbage.  Friends of mine from Potsdam, NY area talk about these cabbage noodles they get at a specific restaurant they frequent.  I've never eaten at that specific place but cabbage and noodles sounded good to me so I went ahead and threw this together.  It may not be what this restaurant serves up but it was pretty good to me!  They probably don't put carrots in the dish, but I felt I needed some color!


This is my submission for Presto Pasta Nights this week.  The host for this week is Simona of Briciole.  For information on how to join in with all us pasta lovers make sure to check out the Presto Pasta Nights webpage and don't forget to visit Simona's blog tomorrow for the round up of pasta meals eaten in the last week!
Cabbage Noodles


1/2 small head of Cabbage, coarsely chopped
1 large carrot, thinly sliced
1/2 onion, diced
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
6 oz package wide egg noodles, cooked according to package directions
1 tablespoon butter
Salt & pepper to taste

Cook noodles according to package directions.  Drain water from pasta and toss with 1 tablespoon butter.

While pasta is cooking, in a large frying pan over medium high heat, saute carrots and onion in olive oil until they start to soften (about 3 minutes).  Add chopped cabbage, salt and pepper and stir fry until cabbage is crisp tender and has a little caramelization.  Toss buttered noodles with cabbage mixture, Serve!  Next time I will add a little chili pepper flakes and/or saute in a flavored oil.I   think that would give it a little more flavor, although this was yummy just as is with salt and pepper.

November 19, 2011

Stove-top to Oven Baby Back Ribs

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We don't go often....but we love Chili's for eating out.  I love going during their small plate serving time because then I don't feel so guilty for buying something I can't eat all of.  The first time we went during that time frame I expected to get just two of their "big mouth bites" for the small plate, but they gave me a full sized serving!  I think they are crazy - I paid $4.99 for the same plate I would have paid double or more for any other time frame.  To me that was not a small plate.  I don't get it.

Grumpy on the other hand likes to get the baby back ribs when we eat at Chilis.  The full rack.  Uh huh.  After I just tell everyone that I love the small plates, I tell you all that Grumpy loves the biggest plate he can get.  ;o)  A few nights before Grumpy told me he was craving Baby Back Ribs.  In trying to stay away from eating out much and saving our funds (not to mention our calories) for our cruise that is coming up soon, I decided to pull a package of ribs I happened to have in the freezer out and fix them up for my Grumpy to have when he returned home from deer hunting.  I decided to follow the method for cooking them that I found on for Spoiled Baby Back Ribs.  I'm not sure why they are called "spoiled" but I didn't like that term at all so mine are called Stove-top to Oven Baby Back Ribs.  The method worked well and the ribs were not tough in anyway.  Broiling them gave them the right crispness and the Sweet Baby Ray BBQ sauce is just the best that you can buy out there in my opinion!  So, if your short on time but have a craving for ribs, this is a good recipe to use instead of slaving over the grill or smoker.

Stove-top to Oven Baby Back Ribs

1 rack of baby back ribs, cut into 3 sections
Salt and pepper to your preference
1 bottle of Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ Sauce

Place the ribs in a large pot covered with water and seasoned with salt and pepper.  Bring ribs to a boil, turn heat down and simmer ribs until tender, about 1 hour.

While ribs are simmering, prepare baking sheet by covering with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray. When ribs are cooked, remove from pot, place on baking sheet and slather with as much BBQ sauce as you want on the bottom side.  Place under pre-heated broiler and broil about 5 minutes or until ribs look like they are crisping up - I would use the high setting.  The stove in our rental unit is nothing elaborate and it only has one setting.  "BROIL". Watch carefully so as to not burn them!  Remove from oven, flip over and slather more sauce on the top side of the ribs.  Return to oven to broil another 5 minutes or until top side looks crisp.

We did not eat the full rack between us but I would say this would serve 2-4 people depending on the appetite of those you are feeding.  

November 18, 2011

Presto Pasta Nights Roundup #240

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It is Presto Pasta Nights Round up time!  Unfortunately I wasn't able to participate this week, I had other things going on that didn't give me the time (or the people) to make much of a real meal for the week.  However, I can feast my eyes on the delicious pasta submissions that were sent to me! To view the recipe for each photo, click on the caption below each one.

Lets start with this yummy Cherry Tomato and Aubergine Pasta submitted by Vered of Eat Now, Talk Later.  Vered is a big fan of Aubergine & Tomatoes and came up with this pasta sauce that cooks up in about the same time it takes to boil your pasta.  I'm all for quick and easy and when it packs a punch of flavor its a definite winner!

Cherry Tomato and Auberjgine Pasta

Next we have Tortiglioni Alla Norcina or Pasta with Sausages and Cream from Tandy at Lavender and Lime.  She recreated a pasta dish similar to one she had on vacation that looks like a big bowl of comfort in cream :)
Pasta with Sausages and Cream
Johanna of Green Gourmet Giraffe sent in a submission with a recipe from one of my very favorite cookbooks, Vegan Yum Yum.  She made the Hurry up Alfredo with a pumpkin twist!  When the recipe didn't turn out as creamy as she hoped, she added some pumpkin to the mixture and came up with this yummy looking alfredo with a pretty color!
Pumpkin Alfredo

Alisha of Cook. Craft. Enjoy. submitted Spaghetti Something, a recipe that she came up with out of necessity to improvise when she realized she couldn't find the recipe she had intended to make.  Been there, done that!  Sounds like she came up with a delicious creation without the recipe!

Spaghetti Something
This week is Helen of Fuss Free Flavors third week in a row submitting to PPN!  She made Mustardy Sausage & Sticky Sausage Pasta, a recipe she created to enter into a competition using French's mustard.  I don't know about you but the title intrigues me enough to want to try it as I love onions, sausage, and mustard - as many people do who eat them on a roll!  I think it was a genius creation and I definitely want to try it out.

Mustardy Sausage & Sticky Onion Pasta

Kirsten of  From Kirsten's Kitchen to Yours submitted another flavor packed pasta dish for us this week.  She submitted Manchego and Sorrel Mac and Cheese.  I have yet to make anything with Manchego cheese because I haven't been able to find it, but when I do, I intend to buy it right up!  I hear from many people over the food blogsphere how great it is.
Manchego and Sorrel Mac and Cheese

Last, but not least, we have Chorizo, Pepper, and Mozzarella Pasta Bake from Claire of Purely Food.  Claire did what I so often do on a weeknight.  She went to her fridge to find it empty.  I hate when that happens because that means I have to think.  ;o)  Grumpy hates it too because then he never knows what I will come up with!  Ha!  However, it sounds to me like Claire did a pretty darn good job of creating a yummy pasta meal.  I had never used chorizo until a few months ago when I made the stuffed jalapeno's and wow, is that stuff delicious and flavorful!  This is something that I think Grumpy probably wouldn't complain about if I had come up with it in my kitchen.

Chorizo, Pepper, and Mozzarella Pasta Bake
Next week Presto Pasta Nights will be hosted by Simona of Briciole will be hosting the PPN round-up.  To participate, have your submissions to her by next Thursday, November 24th.  You can view the guidelines for submission on the Presto Pasta Nights website.

Thank you to all those who shared their creations with us this week.  I hope you will join in next week and share some more!

November 14, 2011

Cream Puff Bites with Chocolate Irish Cream Pudding

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I know this sounds terribly fattening, but I promise you, it isn't and not only because these are "bites"!  It's been quite some time since I made cream puffs and I almost guarantee that after my daughter in law Kristina sees these she will want me to make the mini puffs for her when they visit after Christmas!  I'm pretty certain she will want a different filling, but I know she loves mini cream puffs as she requested them as part of her bridal shower brunch we had for her!

These little puffs are just the most perfect little dessert bite to offer at your holiday gathering, be it Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Years!  The slightly sweet tiny bite of cream puff with the Chocolate Irish Cream Pudding drizzled with a homemade Irish Cream Caramel Sauce (recipe to come at a later time), just the perfect end to an evening.  I'm quite certain this would be just as yummy with a vanilla custard pudding in place of the chocolate.  The shells themselves are slightly sweet and the dough was so easy to make!  The recipe comes from my Cooking Light Holiday Cookbook (see, I told you it wasn't going to be bad for you!).  I never have seen this method for making cream puff dough before but I promise you it is so easy that you will have no trouble doing it, not to mention it takes much less time so, make a batch of these little yummy puffs up and serve them up with your favorite fillings - savory or sweet!  I can see these with a shrimp, crab, or chicken salad filling in place of the pudding.  Perfect bites for the holidays that will not pack on the pounds!

Following the cream puff recipe is the pudding recipe....and feel free to serve the pudding in the little tasting parfaits (make sure to use the cute little tasting spoons too!).
Cream Puff Shells

1 cup water
3 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
2 large egg whites

Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine water, 3 tablespoons butter, 2 teaspoons sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a large heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon.  Bring to boil, remove from heat.  Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife.  Add flour to water mixture, stirring well until smooth and mixture pulls away from sides of pan.  Return pan to heat and cook 30 seconds more, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.  Add eggs and egg whites, 1 at a time, beating with a hand mixer at medium speed just until combined.  This is the easy part - the hand mixer makes all the difference, so much less effort!  Once all the eggs have been mixed in beat 1 minute more at medium speed.

Drop dough into mounds using a small cookie scoop placing about 2 inches apart, on prepared baking sheet.  Bake at 425 for 25 minutes (place cookie sheet on lowest rack in oven to prevent over browning of tops).  Turn heat down to 350 and bake an additional 20 minutes.  Turn oven off; partially open oven door.  Pierce each puff with a knife; cool puffs in oven 20 minutes.  Remove from oven, cool completely on a wire rack.

Chocolate & Irish Cream Pudding
1 egg
1-1/2 cups almond milk (you can use low-fat cow's milk - I just always use almond)
1/4 cup Hershey's Cocoa Powder
2/3 cups granulated sugar
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
2 Tablespoons butter
1/4 cup Bailey's Irish Cream

Whisk egg in a small bowl and set aside.  In medium sized heavy bottomed saucepan, mix milk, cocoa, sugar, and cornstarch together.  Add milk and whisk to combine.  Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until pudding thickens, about 5-7 minutes.  Remove from heat and pour one ladle of hot mixture into bowl with whisked egg, whisking constantly while pouring hot pudding into the egg.  Return the egg mixture into the pudding mixture and blend well.  Return to heat and cook until pudding just comes to a boil again.  Remove from heat.  Add butter and Irish Cream.  Transfer pudding to another bowl and lay plastic wrap over top of the pudding to prevent skin from forming.  Once cooled, use in cream puffs or serve in miniature parfait glasses.  Serve any remaining pudding in refrigerator with plastic wrap covering top of pudding.

November 13, 2011

Sweet Corn Muffins

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At work recently we had a fall potluck and several people had put chili on the list of things to bring.  While I at first I thought I would take a slow cooker dish, I ended up deciding that I should make something sweet and bread-y to compliment all that Buffalo Chicken Chili that so many people were contributing!   I did a search for sweet corn bread on allrecipes and came up with one that I decided I was going to go with.  If I had some jalapeno I would have made a few with some of that stirred in just to give the muffins on their own some sweet heat, but alas, I didn't have any.

November 12, 2011

Pumpkin Spiced Steel Oats with Maple Walnut Cream & Cranberry Topping

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I have been on a steel cut oats kick lately.  Partly because contrary to my last post, I have been attempting to cook in a healthier way for my Grumpy.  We found out recently that his cholesterol was way too high and with the stressful life we lead, that is not a good thing.  The Sauteed Steel Cut Oats with Cranberry Infused Maple Syrup was my first try with something out of the ordinary - and it was a big hit here.  So much so we have had it several times since I first made it.

November 10, 2011

Capativi with Wild Mushroom Sauce

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I'm so happy I made this pasta dish and I'm so glad my mom gave me some of the sage leaves she and my dad grew and dried this year.  I really believe the sage made this dish over the top delicious.  This was so yummy but next time I will try it with light cream instead of heavy cream to save on fat and calories.  I can't get over how packed with flavor this simple dish was.  It was our main course - we didn't have anything else with it except for a glass of red wine (well I had the wine, Grumpy had a Grey Goose & Cran).  Personally, the wine went perfectly with this dish.  It was Barefoot Wine & Bubbly Zinfindal.    (Barefoot is not compensating me for my statement - that is my own opinion and I want to share it with you!).

We like to eat pasta at least once a week - and after this week I promise I will be finding healthier versions.  I feel the need to state that we don't eat this rich everyday!  Really, we do eat light often!   My Facebook Followers see on a daily basis that there are several nights we eat pita pizza, soup, salad, or don't eat dinner at all!  If we did eat this way every day we wouldn't be able to get out the door!
This is my submission for Presto Pasta Nights which is being hosted by Tandy of Lavendar & Lime.  If you would like to join in, you still have time as the deadline for this week's submission is Thursday.  Check out the Presto Pasta Nights webpage for the details on submission and then on Friday watch Tandy's site for the round up of yummy pasta dishes!
The cream didn't thicken up a lot for me.  Maybe I was too impatient and didn't let it simmer enough.  Next time, with the light cream, I would probably add just a little thickener to it to help it cling more.  The flavor was so good though that even Grumpy did not complain that the sauce was a little on the thin side.  If you try it with the light cream, let me know how it turned out!  
Capativi with Wild Mushroom Sauce
adapted from Wolfgang Pucks Pasta with Wild Mushroom Sauce


  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 leaves dried sage leaves, rubbed (use a pinch of rubbed sage if you don't have dried)
  • 1/2 pound assorted wild mushrooms (golden chanterelle, shiitake, cremini, oyster, porcini, etc.), trimmed and sliced
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 cup heavy or light cream
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 pound Capativi
  • Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente.
  • Saute mushrooms and garlic in olive oil until mushrooms are softened.  Add vegetable broth and dried sage and simmer uncovered about 5 minutes to reduce liquid.  I believe that reducing the liquid with the mushrooms  gives a more concentrated flavor and is part of what makes this so good
After reducing the broth, add cream, salt, and pepper.  Simmer uncovered until cream thickens (this is where I got impatient because I was hungry!).  If you use light cream, you may need to add a little thickener to the mixture.  I would probably whisk a tablespoon of flour into about 1/4 cup of cream and add it to the already simmering broth/cream mixture.  Not exactly sure how that would work, but that would be my first attempt anyway!  If you have suggestions, please leave them in my comments.  :)

Once the sauce is thickened to your desired thickness, toss in pasta.  Serve warm & thoroughly enjoy!

November 07, 2011

Saffron Almond Rice Pilaf

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Today's the big day and I almost didn't make it!  Last week my computer bit the dust again and this time it was final.  Grumpy took me to Best Buy and we found the netbook I wanted to hold me over until we can afford to buy me a nicer laptop to do all my blog work on.  Friday night I had the netbook and Saturday I made this dish all over again!  It certainly wasn't a problem that I had to make it all over again because it was de-licious!

It is our reveal day for the Secret Recipe Club - Group A.  My assigned blog was The Slow Roasted Italian and I was very pleased!  I have been reading Donna's blog for a little while now.  The first two things that attracted me to her blog when I found it were her photos and her cocktails. She did a recent round up of her drinks so you should definitely check them out!  Even if you don't drink - you can admire her photos! I didn't make one of her cocktails this time but I sure do plan to sometime!  I already knew I wanted to make this rice dish that she made.  Donna's dish, Saffron Walnut Rice Pilaf had been on my list to make already so this was my chance to do so for the SRC!  This dish reminded me a lot of one my mom used to make when I was a young girl and that was the big attraction to make it.  I doubt my mom used saffron in her dish, but I do know that I love the addition and flavor it adds!  I also made this more like my mom would make it when it came to the nut and stir ins.
I enjoyed this trip down memory lane with this dish.  Grumpy gave me a funny look when he saw the black olives in the rice, but he gave it a try and went back for seconds, so I don't think they were a bad thing!  There is some left over that I plan to take with my lunch today and I know the smell that it will create when reheating it will be wonderful and if anyone is like me when someone is reheating something that smells so good, they will be jealous.  :)

As I was reading over the recipe for this rice, Donna mentioned that she diced the onions finely (and I see she didn't use too many either!) because Mr. W doesn't like to many onions.  Hmm, he has that in common with Grumpy.  I LOVE onions and tend to add a lot and when I do I hear it from Grumpy!

Saffron Almond Rice Pilaf
adapted from The Slow Roasted Italian's recipe for Saffron Walnut Pilaf
2 cups vegetable broth
generous pinch saffron threads
couple dashes of salt and pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup basmati rice
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 small red pepper, diced
1/2 cup sliced black olives
1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted
chopped fresh parsley

Bring vegetable broth to a boil.  Turn off heat, add saffron, salt and pepper then set aside.

In a medium saucepan, saute the onion in the 2 tablespoons of butter until softened.  Add the basmati rice and stir over medium high heat until the rice begins to brown.  Add the broth mixture to the rice, return to a boil then turn heat down to simmer, cover pot, and simmer about 10 minutes or until rice has absorbed water and is no longer crunchy.

To toast almonds - while rice is cooking place the almonds in a 350 degree oven.  Watch carefully and stir often as they will burn quickly.  Once browned, remove from oven and transfer to bowl until ready to add to pilaf.

Remove rice from heat and stir in red pepper, black olives, almonds, and parsley.  Serve immediately.

*Note - you do not need to saute the red pepper - so don't be tempted to add it to the onions.  It will be mushy if you do.  Just stirring them in after the rice is cooked is good enough as the heat and steam from the cooked rice will soften them a little.  It is nice to have them had a little crispiness in the dish - the nuts add that awesome crunch too - I chopped mine up a little after toasting them.

November 02, 2011

Wordless Wednesday-Kitty Girl

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Miss Kitty aka Kitty Girl

Not too many words here since it's Wordless Wednesday....but I've not participated before and today I want to say I had to share this photo of Miss Kitty.  I just love it.  If I can keep up the photos, I'll keep up the WW posts.  :)
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