Tuesday, June 29, 2010

50. Sausage 'n' Spinach Pasta Bake

From 2007 Southern Living Annual Recipes

Even though my niece's swim meet was rained out, I was so happy to be in my kitchen tonight, cooking in the stormy weather with a casserole bubbling in the oven and smelling great. It may be ridiculously hot in Alabama right now, but it felt like a cozy, casserole, comfort-food night in my house.

This was insanely good. The key element was the cream cheese; it gave the dish a creamy, delectable quality and tied all of the other ingredients together. You could also easily substitute chicken for personal preference.

8 ounces uncooked rigatoni
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion (about 1 medium)
1 (10-oz.) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
3 cups cooked, crumbled hot Italian sausage
1 (14.5-oz.) can Italian-style diced tomatoes
1 (8-oz.) container chive-and-onion cream cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups (6 oz.) shredded mozzarella cheese

Prepare rigatoni according to package directions.

Meanwhile, spread oil on bottom of an 11- x 7-inch baking dish; add onion in a single layer.

Bake at 375° for 15 minutes or just until tender. Transfer onion to a large bowl, and set aside.

Drain chopped spinach well, pressing between layers of paper towels.

Stir rigatoni, spinach, sausage, and next 3 ingredients into onion in bowl. Spoon mixture into baking dish, and sprinkle evenly with shredded mozzarella cheese.

Bake, covered, at 375° for 30 minutes; uncover and bake 15 more minutes or until bubbly.

Monday, June 28, 2010

49. Spicy Queso Dip

From 2008 Southern Living Annual Recipes

I didn't cook much in college, but one of my game-day staples was Rotel dip (along with pigs in a blanket and frozen mini quiches).

Here's a grown-up version, adding sausage, black beans, and spinach to the typical Rotel tomatoes and cheese. It's hearty and spicy, packed with meat and veggies to take it to the next level.

This definitely will be part of my rotation this fall...just easily prepare and leave in the crockpot for football game snacking.

1 (16-ounce) package spicy ground pork sausage
2 (16-ounce) cartons refrigerated hot queso dip
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes and green chiles, undrained

Cook sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring until sausage crumbles and is no longer pink. Drain.

Meanwhile, heat queso dip according to package directions in a 2-quart microwave-safe bowl. Stir in sausage, spinach, and beans. Add tomatoes and stir until thoroughly combined. Serve hot with tortilla chips.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

48. Corn, Avocado, and Black Bean Salsa


From 2007 Southern Living Annual Recipes

If my dad ever decided to change careers, he'd make a great sous chef, as he loves to prep/chop food. When I arrived with the ingredients for this recipe for our family cookout today, he had started dicing the jalapeno before I had even unloaded my bags. Working alongside my father in the kitchen as we prepared this dish was the best way to spend Father's Day.

And, this salsa was gobbled up. The simplicity let each ingredient really shine. The avocados gave it a creamy texture, while the lime juice delivered a fresh, bright flavor and the spices brought a little kick. And, the fact that it was low-fat made my sister a big fan.

2 medium-size ripe avocados, cubed
1 (15.5-oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 (15 1/4-oz.) can whole kernel corn, rinsed and drained
1 fresh jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced
1/3 cup chopped red onion
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper

Gently stir together all ingredients in a large bowl. This can be made up to four hours in advance of serving.

47. Brownie-Mint Pie

From 1997 Southern Living Annual Recipes

I've always had an affinity for the chocolate-mint combination, from Thin Mint cookies to York Peppermint Patties to Baskin-Robbins mint-chocolate-chip ice cream.

But, I have a particular fondness for Andes mints. I associate them with great memories of having dinner (fried crab claws) with my grandparents at a restaurant in Eufaula where they sold them by the cash register.

So, I was curious about this pie. It was good, with a "hint of mint" taste to the brownie. What I didn't really love was the crust...taste-wise, it brought nothing to the table. I think it would have been better just to make these as a pan of brownies, rather than as a pie.

1 (4.6-ounce) package chocolate mints
1 (15.8-ounce) package brownie mix
1 unbaked (9-inch) deep-dish frozen pastry shell

Chop chocolate mints; set aside 3 tablespoons. Prepare brownie mix according to package directions, stirring remaining chopped mints into brownie batter. Pour into pastry shell.

Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until done; cool slightly. Serve with ice cream, hot fudge topping, and 3 tablespoons chopped mints.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

46. Steak-and-Spinach Salad With Hot Pan Dressing

From 2005 Southern Living Annual Recipes

Back in January, a good friend and I started getting together one Friday night a month for me to teach her how to cook. A self-proclaimed disaster in the kitchen, she wanted to learn how to make dishes she didn't think she had the patience or ability to pull off. Tons of laughter and great conversations later, we've made some delicious dishes and really gotten her out of her comfort zone.

Last night, we killed two birds with one stone by making a recipe for my challenge...with fantastic results.

The steak, not a cut I would normally choose, was cooked perfectly (medium rare) with a great sear. The warm dressing for the salad had a deep, rich flavor, finished off with a burst of acidity from the lemon juice added at the end. Throw in tangy feta cheese on top and a piece of crunchy garlic bread, and this was a dinner that was so incredibly satisfying...and very easy to put together.

1 (1 1/2-pound) top sirloin steak
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon butter, divided
1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
2 medium portobello mushroom caps, sliced
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup beef broth
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 (6-ounce) package baby spinach
2 plum tomatoes, sliced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 lemon
1/3 cup crumbled Roquefort cheese

Sprinkle steak evenly with salt and pepper.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat for 2 minutes. Melt 1/2 teaspoon butter with 1/2 teaspoon oil. Add steak, and cook until well browned on one side, about 6 minutes. Turn steak, and cook 3 more minutes (rare), 4 minutes (medium-rare), or 5 minutes (medium). Remove steak from pan, and set aside.

Melt remaining 1/2 teaspoon butter with 1/2 teaspoon oil in skillet over medium heat. Sauté mushrooms and garlic 4 minutes. Stir in wine, broth, and balsamic vinegar, stirring to loosen particles from bottom of skillet. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and cook 4 to 5 minutes.

Toss together spinach, tomatoes, onion, and hot mixture in pan; divide evenly between 4 plates. Squeeze lemon, drizzling juice evenly over top.

Cut steak into 1/2-inch slices, and arrange over salads. Sprinkle cheese evenly over top.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

45. Greek Pizza

From 2007 Southern Living Annual Recipes

As much as I love pizza, it's surprising that I've never made it at home, especially since it's so easy, with store-bought crust (yes, I need to learn how to make my own next).

What really jumped out to me with this recipe was using hummus instead of tomato sauce. I used the roasted garlic variety, and it was a creamy, rich, unique base.

This recipe is incredibly versatile...and I made a few adjustments to fit my taste. I omitted the olives, bell pepper, and red onion....and used a handful of fresh baby spinach. The feta topping gave it a nice tangy burst of flavor. And, because none of the toppings needed to be cooked beforehand, this dish came together super-fast.

I used the thin-and-crispy variety of crust, and if you do the same, be sure to reduce the cooking time to 10 minutes to avoid over-browning.

1 (12-inch) prebaked pizza crust
1 cup deli hummus
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
1/2 small green bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped red onion
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil (optional)

Spread crust evenly with hummus. Arrange tomatoes and next three ingredients over pizza. Sprinkle with feta cheese.

Bake at 450 degrees for 12 to 14 minutes or until cheese is lightly browned. Drizzle with olive oil, if desired.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

44. Cranberry-Cinnamon Granola Bars

From 2003 Southern Living Annual Recipes

My favorite 3:00 snack is a granola/protein/energy bar, and I've tried them ALL. So, I thought I'd make my own to compare.

When I looked at the recipe, I was a little worried that these would be really dry, considering that there's very little liquid holding them together. But, they were chewy and particularly "rich tasting" to be low-fat. The cranberries gave great little burst of tartness.

The recipe calls for these to be cut into nine bars (really, more like squares). Each bar has 139 calories, 2 grams of fat, 3 grams of protein, and 2 grams of fiber.

2 cups low-fat granola cereal
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Vegetable cooking spray

Combine first 6 ingredients, and press mixture evenly into an 8-inch square baking pan coated with cooking spray.

Bake at 350° for 15 minutes or until golden. Cool in pan on a wire rack 5 minutes, and cut into bars. Store in an airtight container.

Monday, June 14, 2010

43. Spinach-Stuffed Squash

From 2002 Southern Living Annual Recipes

I adore squash, so this recipe was screaming my name. It had a creamy filling, with a crispy, salty, cheesy topping.

These had a beautiful presentation and would be perfect for company...little individual casseroles. I had the squash for dinner alone, but it would be a great side dish for chicken or pork.

4 large yellow squash
1/2 teaspoons salt, divided

1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted and divided
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 small onion, chopped
2 (10-ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach, cooked and well drained
1 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup fine, dry breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon cold butter or margarine, cut up

Combine squash, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and water to cover in a Dutch oven. Bring to a boil, and cook 10 minutes or until tender. Cool.

Cut squash in half lengthwise, and remove seeds. Drizzle cut sides of squash evenly with 2 tablespoons melted butter; sprinkle evenly with 2 tablespoons cheese, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper.

Pour remaining 2 tablespoons melted butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat, and add onion; saute 4 minutes or until tender. Stir in cooked spinach, sour cream, red wine vinegar, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Spoon spinach mixture evenly into squash halves. Place squash in a 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and remaining 6 tablespoons cheese, and dot with cold butter.

Bake at 350° for 15 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Friday, June 4, 2010

42. Balsamic-Blue Cheese Portobello Burgers

From 2005 Southern Living Annual Recipes

It was a beautiful afternoon here today, so I wanted to grill burgers...with a twist.

The portobellos, after marinating for an hour, had a delicious flavor. They were tender and "meaty." I used feta cheese for personal preference, and it gave the burgers a creamy tang.

What I didn't love about this dish was the mayonnaise blend. After the mushrooms marinated in the balsamic vinegar mixture, they absorbed plenty of that flavor...so the balsamic vinegar in the mayo was a little bit too much for me.

2 large portobello mushroom caps, stemmed
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 tablespoons light mayonnaise
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
2 hamburger buns split
Optional: Lettuc leaves, tomato slices

Scrape gills from mushroom caps, if desired.

Combine 3 tablespoons vinegar, olive oil, garlic, pepper, and salt in a shallow dish or large zip-top plasic freezer bag. Add mushrooms, turning to coat. Cover or seal, and chill 1 hour, turning occasionally. Remove mushrooms from marinade, discarding marinade.

Grill mushrooms, covered, over medium-high heat 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until tender. Remove mushrooms from grill and immediately sprinkle undersides evenly with blue cheese.

Stir together mayonnaise and 1 teaspoon vinegar. Spread mixture evenly on both sides of buns and top with mushrooms. Garnish as desired.

This post is part of Weekend Cooking.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

41. Creamy Chicken and Noodles

From 2007 Southern Living Annual Recipes

I've started keeping a folder in my car with printouts of recipes that I'd like to try for this challenge...so that I'm not caught unprepared at 7:00 at night in front of the grocery store, starving after a long day at work and a class at the gym...and very tempted to just get a frozen pizza.

It came in handy tonight...and this dish was divine. It was a cinch to put together and used many ingredients you probably already have on hand.

For as little as it cooked, it had tons of flavor, thanks to the Italian dressing mix. It had a "baked casserole" feel to it...a plate of comfort food. Next time, I think I'll add in fresh broccoli florets in with the boiling pasta to give the dish more color and texture...and get a veggie in for a complete meal.

1 (8-ounce) package egg noodles
2 tablespoons butter, softened
3 cups chopped cooked chicken
1 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 (0.6-ounce) envelope Italian dressing mix

Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain well and return noodles to pan.

Stir in butter and toss to coat. Stir in remaining ingredients and cook mixture over medium-high heat, tossing to coat evenly, for 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

May Poll Results

Chiles Rellenos Quiche and Tex Mex Chicken Cobbler tied in votes, so...I'll make both!

I'm going to make 10 recipes this month, instead of the usual 8, so that I hit the halfway point (50 recipes) by the end of the first half of the year.

New recipes for voting are up, so let me know your pick. I've changed it up a little this month...these are five recipes that received the SL test kitchen's highest rating in 2009.