Friday, April 30, 2010

32. Tuscan Pasta with Tomato-Basil Cream

From 2007 Southern Living Annual Recipes

This was the clear winner of the April "What Should I Cook?" poll, and I couldn't wait to try it. (Check out the five new recipes up for your votes.)

This was creamy, cheesy goodness. I initially went sparingly with the sauce on my plate, thinking it would be really rich, but I ended up going back for a little more.

You could probably substitute chicken broth for the wine, if you prefer, to thin the sauce, but I loved the acidity the wine delivered. The tomatoes gave it a juicy "bite," and the basil brought freshness to the dish.

Plus, it was easy and quick to put together!

1 (20-oz.) package refrigerated four-cheese ravioli
1 (16-oz.) jar sun-dried tomato Alfredo sauce
2 tablespoons white wine
1 (14.5-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes, drained (or two medium tomatoes, chopped)
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Prepare pasta according to package directions.

Meanwhile, pour Alfredo sauce into a medium saucepan. Pour wine into sauce jar; cover tightly, and shake well. Stir wine mixture into saucepan. Stir in tomatoes and basil, and cook over medium-low heat 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Toss with pasta, and top evenly with Parmesan cheese.

This post is part of Weekend Cooking.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

31. Chicken-and-Artichoke Salad

From 2006 Southern Living Annual Recipes

I adore chicken salad. With nuts. With fruit. Shredded chicken or chopped. If it's on a menu, I'm ordering it...and I'll likely judge the restaurant's worth on it. One local bakery puts balsamic vinegar in theirs, and it's heavenly.

I was intrigued by the addition of artichokes in this pretty-standard recipe...but what really caught my eye was SL's serving suggestion: spread chicken salad on pieces of frozen Texas toast, sprinkle with shredded cheese, and bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes.

And, that made this chicken salad seriously good.

The artichokes and pecans gave it great time, I think I'll halve the amount of mayo and add an equal amount of Dijon mustard, just to deepen the flavor.

4 cups chopped cooked chicken breasts
1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp. celery salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

Stir together all ingredients. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

30. Vegetable Manicotti

From 2006 Southern Living Annual Recipes

This recipe is very "semi-homemade"...start with frozen cheese manicotti and make your own tomato sauce with tons of fresh vegetables for a lasagna-like dish.

Once I saw the volume of vegetables in the skillet, I was concerned that two cans of diced tomatoes wouldn't make enough of a sauce...but I was wrong. It was the perfect ratio...not too "saucy" and plenty of texture and "bite" from the sauteed veggies.

Now, I'm a cheese lover, so believe me when I say this...there's too much mozzarella cheese in this recipe. I used 12 ounces instead of the 16 ounces called for, and I easily could have done with just 8 ounces.

That said, it was soooo delicious. It was easy to put together and delivered big on flavor.

2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium eggplant, peeled and cubed (I used two yellow squash, sliced)
2 medium zucchini, cut in half length-wise and thinly sliced
1 small onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
1 (8-ounce) package sliced fresh mushrooms
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes with oregano and basil, undrained
1 (15-ounce) package frozen cheese-stuffed manicotti, unthawed
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 (16-ounce) package shredded mozzarella cheese

Saute minced garlic in hot olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat for 1 minute.

Stir in vegetables and cook, stirring occasionally, 15 to 20 minutes or until tender and liquid evaporates. Stir in salt, Italian seasoning, and pepper. Add tomatoes and remove mixture from heat.

Spoon half of vegetable mixture in bottom of lightly greased 9x13 dish. Layer evenly with manicotti, grated Parmesan, and half of mozzarella. Top with remaining half of vegetable mixture.

Bake at 375 degrees, uncovered, for 40 minutes. Sprinkle evenly with remaining mozzarella and bake 10 more minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Monday, April 19, 2010

29. Easy Zucchini Bread

From 2007 Southern Living Annual Recipes

Encouraged by the success of the Cinnamon Loaves a few weeks ago, I wanted to try another "sweet" bread recipe.

This was, indeed, easy to put together...I know I'm leaning on a crutch by using cake mix as a starter, but I'm easing into baking!

This bread was not too sweet and incredibly moist...almost too much so. It was done...I baked it longer than the recipe suggested until a toothpick came out clean, and it sliced perfectly, but it was so moist it almost tasted under-done.

The strips of zucchini running throughout made for a pretty presentation. The spice cake mix gave it a very "homey" flavor, and the pecans added a nice crunch.

1 (18.25-ounce) package spice cake mix
1-1/4 cups milk
1/2 cup canola oil
3 large eggs
2 cups shredded zucchini (1 medium)
1 cup chopped pecans (toasted, optional)

Beat cake mix and next 3 ingredients at low speed with an electric mixer 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium and beat 1 minute, scraping down sides as needed. Stir in zucchini and 2/3 cup pecans. Pour batter evenly into 2 lightly greased loaf pans. Sprinkle remaining pecans evenly over batter.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire rack 10 minutes. Remove from pans to wire rack and cool 15 minutes before slicing.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

28. Baked Grits and Greens

From 2009 Southern Living Annual Recipes

Cheese grits are a staple in the South, and they are best made with a roll of Kraft garlic cheese that, sadly, seems to have disappeared from grocery store shelves.

When I saw this grits variation, made with Parmesan cheese and spinach and topped with garlic croutons (!!), I knew I had to give it a try.

The key to making great grits is to stir them often. They're like risotto in this respect. Don't leave them on the stove and walk away. Keep stirring to make sure they come out creamy.

The spinach was largely undetectable, taste-wise, in this dish, but it gave it great color. The Caesar dressing really came through on flavor, and the croutons made for a great crunchy topping.

I served this as a side dish to grilled steak, but it would make a great addition to a brunch menu, as well. Definite keeper.

1 tsp. garlic salt
1 cup uncooked quick-cooking grits
1/3 cup finely chopped red onion (I omitted)
5 tablespoons butter, divided
2 large eggs
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup bottled creamy Caesar dressing
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1-1/4 cups coursely crushed garlic-flavored croutons

Bring garlic salt and 4 cups water to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Gradually stir in grits. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring often, 5 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in onions and 3 tablespoons butter.

Whisk together eggs and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl. Stir about one-fourth of grits mixture gradually into egg mixture. Add remaining grits mixture, stirring constantly. Pour into a lightly greased 9x13 baking dish.

Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter and toss with crushed croutons. Sprinkle over grits.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes or until mixture is set and croutons are golden brown.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

27. Broccoli-Cheese Breakfast Casserole

From 1999 Southern Living Annual Recipes

I was really in the mood for "breakfast for dinner" tonight, and this sounded just perfect. With the sausage and broccoli, it was hearty enough for a night meal...but this equally would make for a great brunch addition, as well.

The ricotta cheese made the eggs fluffy and creamy, and the sausage added a salty heat. I couldn't really taste the broccoli....but it added texture to the dish, as well as giving it color.

The recipe called for a ripe tomato to be sliced and arranged on top of the dish before baking...I omitted tonight, but if I were serving to company, I would definitely include this to enhance the presentation.

1/2 pound ground pork sausage
1 small onion, chopped (I omitted)
1 (10-ounce) package frozen broccoli cuts, thawed
1-1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
8 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. salt

Cook sausage and onion until sausage is cooked; drain.

Toss together sausage, broccoli, and 1/2 cup cheese. Spoon into lightly greased 11x7 baking dish.

Stir together 1/2 cup cheese and remaining ingredients. Pour over sausage mixture.

Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Bake, covered, at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 15 more minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Monday, April 5, 2010

26. French Onion Biscuits

From 2007 Southern Living Annual Recipes

It should come as no surprise that my idea of baking biscuits starts with a frozen bag. I don't deal with dough.

But, look at me! Making biscuits! This recipe was too interesting to me to pass up...and the results were perfect. The French onion dip gave it just a hint of flavor (not overwhelming, but enough to be different), and the biscuits had a nice crust on the tops and bottoms with moist insides.

1 (8-ounce) carton French onion dip
1/4 cup milk
2 cups all-purpose baking mix
1 tablespoon butter, melted

Whisk together dip and milk until smooth. Stir in baking mix until well blended. Divide dough into 12 equal portions and arrange on a lightly greased baking sheet. Brush tops of dough with melted butter.

Bake at 450 degrees for 8 minutes or until lightly golden. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

25. Shrimp with Roasted Red Pepper Cream

From 2003 Southern Living Annual Recipes

I'm pretty sure the last time I used my blender was for frozen strawberry dacquiris in my early 20s, but it sure came in handy for dinner tonight.

This sauce is divine...delectable...drinkable. It would be great with any kind of pasta instead of a tomato-based sauce. I'm definitely trying it again with ravioli or manicotti. I ran that piece of bread around the bowl to get every last bit.

It has a great "bite" to it, a nice heat at the back of your throat, and the cream cheese brings it all together.

The recipe calls for using cooked shrimp, but I just put mine in raw once the sauce had heated through and cooked until opaque.

1 (7-ounce) package vermicelli, cooked
1 (12-ounce) jar roasted red peppers, drained
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup chicken broth
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 tsp. ground red pepper
2 pounds cooked, peeled large shrimp
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil (I omitted)

Process red peppers and next 4 ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth. Pour mixture into a large skillet.

Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring often, until thoroughly heated. Add shrimp and cook, stirring occasionally, 2-3 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Remove from heat and let sit for a few minutes to thicken. Serve over hot cooked pasta. Sprinkle with basil.

This post is part of Weekend Cooking.

Friday, April 2, 2010

March Poll Results

The winner of the March "What Should I Cook?" poll was Mini Apple-Cheddar Turkey Meatloaves. I'm really intrigued by this recipe, so expect to see it cooked and reviewed soon.

On another note, it's the end of the first quarter, and I'm still on track (with eight recipes a month) with the challenge. I'm trying to strike the right balance of types of dishes, and I also need to start stepping more and more out of my comfort zone.

But, so far, so good! There have certainly been more hits than misses. Now that I'm getting further into it, I'm going to add a box on the side with links to my "5-star" favorites.

Don't forget to vote for this month's recipe!