Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Easy As Pie

Last week I had some left over spaghetti thawing in the fridge and some macaroni noodles just sitting there waiting for inspiration. I knew I could come up with something more interesting than just another spaghetti dinner, so I checked my cookbooks and looked online and found a recipe that sounded really easy and truly yummy! It's Spaghetti Pie!!

This meal turned out a lot better than I expected. Its perfect for this time of year as well; its a warm and hearty meal that pretty much everyone in the family should love.
Here is the recipe- I tweaked what I found online - hope you enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 (6 ounce) package spaghetti (I used macaroni noodles- use whatever you have)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons butter (depends on you)
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese (more if you want to sprinkle it on top)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 pound lean ground beef (I used lean ground turkey)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 4 oz of cream cheese
  • 2 tbsp of ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 375○ 
Brown your meat or meat substitute.


Add spice. Chop onion and garlic -add to meat. Pour in spaghetti sauce, let simmer for 10 minutes while the water boils for the noodles.
Then in a large bowl, mix cooked noodles, butter, egg and Parmesan cheese, incorporate well and press into a large dish or 10 inch buttered pie pan. You're making a sort of "crust" or base for the pie (I don't have a pie dish that large- so use what you've got, it still turns out well either way).
Spread ricotta and cream cheese over the noodles.


Then top with the meat sauce and then sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese -and more Parmesan if you like! Bake for around 20 minutes or until the top is brown.


What is so great about this dish is its just as good reheated for another meal!


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Double-Crust Chicken Pot Pie

We found this recipe some time ago in a one of my mom's  magazines and I knew I had to try it out-- tonight, we finally did. This was one of those meals I wanted the hubby's help on, so we both worked on making this a lovely Tuesday night dinner.

Ingredients
• 1/2 cup butter
• 2 medium leeks, sliced
• 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
• 1 (14.5-oz.) can chicken broth
• 3 cups chopped cooked chicken
• 1 1/2 cups frozen cubed hash browns with onions and peppers
• 1 cup matchstick carrots
• 1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
• 1 (17.3-oz.) package frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed
• 1 large egg

Preparation
• 1. Preheat oven to 375°. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat; add leeks and sauté 3 minutes. Sprinkle with flour; cook, stirring constantly, 3 minutes. Whisk in chicken broth; bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Remove from heat; stir in chicken and next 5 ingredients.
• 2. Roll each pastry sheet into a 12- x 10-inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Fit 1 sheet into a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate; spoon chicken mixture into pastry. Place remaining pastry sheet over filling in opposite direction of bottom sheet; fold edges under, and press with tines of a fork, sealing to bottom crust. Whisk together egg and 1 Tbsp. water, and brush over top of pie.
• 3. Bake at 375° on lower oven rack 55 to 60 minutes or until browned. Let stand 15 minutes.

*We added celery and onion to our recipe and didn’t use the hash brown potatoes with peppers, just the plain ones. Also, we browned our chicken first on the stove. I’m sure it would be a big help to use a rotisserie chicken that was already prepared from the store, but we had a lot of chicken that needed to be used before I froze it so that worked best for us. Also I would recommend making more of the rue with the flour and stock if you are going to add more or larger cut ingredients.

we did saute our chicken first
the fixins to go in
making the rue with butter, celery, flour and chicken broth
putting in the carrots, potatoes. onions and seasonings
roll out the puff pastry with lots of flour
brush egg and water over the top-- time to bake!
This turned out so good! We just loved it. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did.











Thursday, October 6, 2011

Awareness- for this upcoming October and every moment after .....

Awareness- what does that mean to you? The word awareness means to be conscious or having an understanding or knowledge of something; to be well informed.
  • About 1 in 8 women in the United States (12%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.
  • In 2010, an estimated 207,090 new cases of invasive breast cancer were expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 54,010 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer.
  • A woman’s risk of breast cancer approximately doubles if she has a first-degree relative (mother, sister, and daughter) who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. About 20-30% of women diagnosed with breast cancer have a family history of breast cancer.
  • In 2010, there were more than 2.5 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S.
(statistics taken from breastcancer.org)

For me, it’s stopping almost about 50 times a day to think of my mother and her struggle with breast and then colon cancer. I am painfully and constantly aware of the massive, gaping hole without her here.  And so this battle is to me, a gigantic opportunity in remembering all of those women who are still fighting- every solitary day; afraid they won’t live to see another Christmas, birthday, New Year or see their grandkids or children grow up.


Breast cancer awareness month is for some just that; only once a year. It’s a quick prompt for that mammogram. But for many of us- it’s an all day- all year struggle with cancer. We are the ones that deal with this vicious enemy regularly. We’ve watched a loved one deal with cancer, or some have been through it themselves making a painful effort, a deep fight for just a little more life. And in becoming these warriors, we’re the ones that reach out anyway we can to help those who aren’t able anymore.

When I think of my beautiful and brave mom, I don’t want to just remember cancer and what she went through in trying to be here another day…. I want to reflect back on all the magnificent and precious memories she gave to her family and how she’d want us to go on. I want to make her proud by continuing to support and be mindful of all the women and families that must endure cancer still in their lives.

And so I ask you- Can you visualize how wonderful it would be if you could change one life? - Just one life? Inspire one mother, grandmother, sister, wife, daughter, best friend to get a mammogram. Or set up a group of to do the race for the cure. Collect all the Yoplait lids you can. Do something, anything that works best for you and your life.

You can’t know how amazing it is to help another human being – well, … until you march in that race while the gorgeous bald women watching on the side lines cannot walk anymore and they’re cheering you on- so grateful, thankful for your steps, your feet, your hope, your love and all of your support. And only then through the tears and the optimism you know why you’re here --and how truly important this awareness is.
Check these out: find a race, donate and/or support others!
http://apps.komen.org/raceforthecure/?itc=homeaction:1

http://ww5.komen.org/GetInvolved/GetInvolved.html

http://www.thebreastcancersite.com/clickToGive/home.faces?siteId=2

http://www.breastcancerawareness.com/



Chocolate Cupcakes
·         1 ½ cups of flour
·         ½ cup of cocoa powder
·         ¾ tsp of baking soda
·         ¼ tsp of salt
·         ½ cup (1 stick) of butter – room temp
·         1 tsp of vanilla
·         2 large eggs –room temp
·         1 cup of milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cream butter for a minute or two, add sugar and continue to combine on low with a paddle attachment or with a hand mixer. When it’s creamy add eggs one at a time and then vanilla.
Whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl.
Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture (always starting and finishing with the flour) alternate with the milk until thoroughly combined.
Fill pans with cupcake liners – Bake for 20 minutes- then check, all ovens bake differently so you might want to check a few moments before. Makes 18 cupcakes 

Vanilla Buttercream

·         1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
·         6 to 8 cups confectioners' sugar
·         1/2 cup milk
·         1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Directions:      In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. With mixer on low speed, add 6 cups sugar, milk, and vanilla; mix until light and fluffy. If necessary, gradually add remaining 2 cups sugar to reach desired consistency/ taken from martha stewart

Baking with Joy

Picture     These past few years we’ve really been dealing with some heavy and stressful family trials (in this economy –who isn’t right?) – And I’ve come to find it’s the little things you’ve got to discover happiness therein.
 I begin baking for my son’s school last year and instantly felt at peace with the immediate satisfaction of a homemade iced cupcake! The long hours during the day made up of early mornings, breakfast, getting out the door on time, laundry, cleaning, job hunting and then afternoon pickups, dinner, homework, the bedtime routine can become a bit of a blur and we end up easily losing our joy. And so with this new revelation, I suddenly found myself relishing the quiet moments of measuring out the flour and sifting the baking powder to be quite cathartic. I have a small TV in the kitchen (yup, I know- that sounds awful doesn’t it?) but I can put on an old Woody Allen movie and drift into baking with such ease and delight, it’s unbelievable!






OK, so I know this isn’t the remedy for everyone. My sister finds tranquility in a good step class (heck, I would too if I could afford her fantastic gym!). My brother runs and my husband is brilliant at computer programming; he finds pleasure in some stuff that boggles my mind (but hey, that’s good- it’s his scene, not mine) and any joy that reminds you how wonderful life really is –that is marvelous!
So, after the long day and my sweet boys are in bed, I turn to the stove and say “let’s get busy”.  The sound of the mixer, the smells of vanilla, chocolate and flour fill the air and abruptly I am aware and deeply mindful of being a mother. I grew up with a kitchen full of slow, scratch cooking and incredible baking. Therefore when I take in those aromas, I’m transported back to a time when I was young and my Mom made our house a home with her love for all things made from the heart. And well- the movies come into play as Dad was always watching some old classic film as Mom cheerfully baked away on a chilly Sunday afternoon.
 All my worries and the stresses of the day start to alter as I realize their real lack of importance. I am again mindful of what is really significant and genuine in my life. So within moments these qualms float away on a soundtrack of another film playing in my warm kitchen as the smells of sweet deliciousness cascades around our entire home with another batch of cupcakes made for my family. Swiftly and harmoniously I find myself blissful again in my own loving and happy home.



   Chocolate Cupcakes
  • 1 ½ cups of flour
  • ½ cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¾ tsp of baking soda
  • ¼ tsp of salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick) of room temp butter
  • 1  1/3 cups of sugar
  • 1 tsp of vanilla
  • 2 large eggs (at room temp- it makes a huge difference when baking)
  • 1 cup of milk
  Peanut Butter Butter Cream



  • 2/3 cup natural, creamy peanut butter
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar (more can be added -just depends on your taste)
  • chocolate chips for decoration

 Preheat oven to 350
- Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl.
- Beat butter in mixer, slowly add sugar until creamy. Add eggs one at a time. Then add vanilla. Slowly add flour mixture (always start with the dry mixture and end with it as well-for best results) alternating with the milk. Scrape down sides to make sure everything is combined.
- Scoop into 18 baking cups (do not overfill these)
- Bake for 20 minutes- check early since oven temperatures may vary.
 For frosting;
- Cream peanut butter and butter in the bowl in your mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on high speed. Then turn it to a lower speed and mix in sugar until combined. Next, beat mixture on high speed until smooth, around 3 minutes.