Category Archives: Cooking

Pinned: Party food!

I love cooking enough that it tends to be one of those things I definitely try to do when I have a little spare time. And that includes making food for my own birthday party because I took the day off!

Before anyone gets up in arms, Bobby offered to make the food, and I told him I wanted to make it. It was so nice just having the time to prep a few things while the baby was at day care.

Pizza crescent rollsThe first was this incredibly easy recipe for pizza crescent rolls from The Girl Who Ate Everything.

Pizza Crescent Rolls

Ingredients:

Pepperoni
Crescent rolls
String cheese

Directions:

Roll out crescent rolls. Place 4-6 slices of pepperoni (slice if desired) on each. Top with half piece of string cheese, roll up and cook with directions from crescent roll packaging.

See? Super easy!

The second recipe, Beer Cheese Dip from Tidy Mom, was just as simple.

Beer Cheese Dip

Ingredients:

Two 8-oz. pkgs Cream Cheese, softened
1/3 cup beer (I used Yuengling … use more if dip needs to be thinned some)
1 envelope Ranch Dressing Mix
2 cups Shredded Cheddar Cheese

Directions:

Beat the first three ingredients until well blended. Stir in cheddar cheese by hand. Serve with Stacy’s Pita Chips.

The best part of this was that I got to feel the accomplishment of trying a couple of new recipes, but they were so quick and easy that I didn’t feel like I spent the whole day cooking. And both of these were a huge hit at my party!

In which I profess my undying love for kale

So I have a food problem.

I can’t eat spinach. You don’t want to know the details, but just trust me. It’s a no-go. And it’s a little sad, because I love the way it tastes. Plus it’s in approximately half the recipes in the world.

So I was delighted when I was introduced to kale. It’s a pretty decent substitute for spinach in a lot of recipes (more so the cooked ones than the ones that call for raw spinach). And it also holds its own in a lot of kale-centric recipes.

I found a huge bag of it on sale just after the new year, so we have been eating kale like nobody’s business. I wanted to share my favorite way to prepare it as a side and also a really great recipe I tried with it recently.

Sauteed kale with bacon (you know I love me some bacon)
Serves 2

Ingredients:
Two large handfuls of kale
One garlic clove, minced
Two shallots, chopped (you can also substitute onion, but I prefer shallots)
Two slices of thick, center-cut bacon, cut into hunks
Cooking spray

Directions:
Spray your saute pan with cooking spray as the pan heats. Cook bacon until near done, then add garlic. Once the bacon is approaching the crispy stage, add the shallots. Once those have gotten tender, add the kale. Cook to the desired consistency of the kale. I prefer mine wilted but still with a little texture to it.

The other recipe is one I adapted from The Pioneer Woman. It’s a take on zuppa toscana (Olive Garden, anyone).

Sausage, kale and potato soup

Sausage, potato and kale soup
Serves 4

Ingredients:
2 bunches Kale, Picked Over, Cleaned, And Torn Into Bite Sized Pieces
8 small red potatoes, sliced thin
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 pound ground Italian Sausage
1/2 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes (more To Taste)
2 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
1 1/2 cups Whole Milk
1 cup Heavy Cream
Fresh Or Dried Oregano
Black Pepper To Taste

Instructions:
Boil potatoes until tender, then drain and set aside. Brown the Italian sausage in a large boiler or pot. Stir in the red pepper, oregano, broth, milk and heavy cream. Add the potatoes and then stir in the kale. Simmer for about 15 minutes. Serve topped with grated Parmesan.

Are you a kale fanatic, too? I’d love to hear some of your favorite recipes?

Pinned: Pasta e fagioli

Bacon.

Do you really need to know anything else?

I have a strong love for all-foods-Italian, so when I saw this recipe on Food52, I knew I wanted to make it.

And bacon, y’all.

This turned out delicioso. I’m not sure if that’s a real word, or if Rachel Ray made it up, but I’m appropriating it for my use in this post. Because I’m not sure there’s another word to describe the pasta e fagioli.

I totally just Googled this to find out that “fagioli” actually means “beans” in Italian, so the recipe is literally “pasta and beans.” I believe it’s traditionally a vegetarian dish, but Food52′s addition of bacon is quite welcome. Obvs.

Pasta e fagioli recipeHere’s the recipe, adapted from Food52′s. This serves 4.

Ingredients:

6 slices bacon, chopped

1/2 onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

20 oz. chicken broth

1 16-oz. can cannelini beans, rinsed and drained

20 oz. whole tomatoes, drained and chopped

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1 cup dittalini

1 tablespoon dried parsley

grated Parmesan
Directions:
In a saucepan, saute bacon over medium heat, draining as needed, until crispy. Add onions and garlic and continue sauteeing until onions are soft and translucent. Add broth and simmer, covered, for five minutes. Mash 1/3 of the beans in a bowl, then add these, the remaining beans, the tomatoes and the basil to the soup mixture. Simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes, or until pasta is at preferred tenderness (original recipes calls for al dente). Remove from heat and stir in parsley. Top with Parmesan and enjoy!

Recipe: Italian cream cupcakes with Nutella buttercream frosting

Those of you who cook regularly probably have absolute favorite things you’ve ever made, that you would totally make if someone asked you to make them something delicious from scratch.

This. is. it. for me.

Our home church group decided to have a Christmas dinner, and Melissa, our host, told us she was going with an Italian theme. Baking’s my favorite, so I volunteered us to bring a dessert. I gave several different desserts consideration (runners up were Chocolate Peanut Butter Biscotti and Italian Christmas Cookies; I also considered tiramisu and creme brulee cheesecake), but Bobby specifically asked for Italian cream cupcakes. How could I say no?

These were different from any other cupcake I’ve ever made. Two of the unique aspects are the use of buttermilk in the batter and the separation of eggs (and subsequent whipping of the egg whites) before adding them to the batter. Another fun thing I attempted this time was creating my own piping bag by cutting the tip off the corner of a plastic zippered bag. It wasn’t beautiful, but I think it was a good first effort!

Hope you enjoy these cupcakes as much as I did!

Italian Cream Cupcake with Nutella Buttercream FrostingItalian cream cupcakes with Nutella buttercream frosting
Adapted from food.com

Ingredients for cupcakes:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
3 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
*1 cup coconut, toasted

Directions:

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl and set aside. Whip the butter and sugar until combined and creamy. Add egg yolks one at a time while mixing (I used my stand mixer with the paddle attachment). Add vanilla and beat until incorporated. Add half the dry ingredients, mix; add the buttermilk and mix; add the other half of the dry ingredients and mix until incorporated. Whisk the egg whites in a separate bowl until they hold soft peaks. Fold into the batter along with the coconut*. Bake at 350 F for 20-24 minutes.

*The coconut is totally optional. I did half coconut and half without, using toasted coconut as a topping for the ones that had it and toffee bits as the topping for the ones sans coconut.

Italian cream cupcakes with Nutella buttercream frostingIngredients for frosting:

8-oz. package of cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/2 of a small tub of Nutella
Splash of heavy cream
1/3 to 1/2 lb. of powdered sugar

Directions:

Whip butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add Nutella and mix until all ingredients are incorporated. Add heavy cream and mix. Add powdered sugar and mix until frosting is smooth and creamy. Adjust the amount of sugar you add based on how sweet you want the frosting to be. Refrigerate frosting until you are ready to use it.

Once the cupcakes have had a chance to cool, frost them with the Nutella buttercream and garnish with toasted coconut or toffee bits.

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Think you might give this recipe a shot? You can save it to Pinterest by clicking the button below!

Pinned: Red wine olive risotto

I’m a huge fan of cooking shows (particularly cooking reality shows like Top Chef and Next Iron Chef — I must admit, I was Team Falkner, but I’m fairly happy with Geoffrey Zakarian winning). If there’s one thing I’ve learned from watching them, it’s that risotto is scary and impossible to get right.

So I’ve avoided it for a long time, but when I came across this recipe from We Are Not Martha, I decided to put on my big girl panties and give it a go.

Totally worth it.

I’ll admit, the rice I used and the way I prepped it was a little different, but I’d still consider it a risotto-style dish, at least. Totally delicious.

Red wine olive risottoRed wine olive risotto, adapted from We Are Not Martha

Servings: 4

Ingredients:
1 cup long-grain rice
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup red wine (I used Rex Goliath Free-Range Red, so it was inexpensive but worked great. Five bucks at Target!)
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 shallots, chopped
1 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped (I used kalamata olives with Mediterranean herbs, which I found at Target)
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

Directions:
Cook rice in 2 cups water for 20 minutes, adding salt and olive oil to water. Once rice is prepped, saute garlic in a pan until slightly brown, then add the chicken broth and rice. Allow rice to absorb most of the broth, then add the wine and olives. Cook, stirring occasionally, until wine is absorbed, adding shallots for last several minutes of cooking. Salt and pepper to taste.

As WANM suggests, you can also add Parmesan and a little fresh parsley. We didn’t try this, but we plan to next time! I especially think the Parmesan would be good. I also enjoyed the leftover wine with the meal!

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If you enjoyed this post, I’d love for you to follow my cooking boards on Pinterest! I have a board for general food, vegetarian options, desserts and party items.

Pinned: Tortellini and garden vegetable bake

Better Homes and Gardens Tortellini and Garden Vegetable BakeThis is probably one of the prettiest dishes I’ve ever made. At the very least, it’s the prettiest I’ve made in a while.

I saw the photo for it on Pinterest and immediately pinned it to my “Vegetarian” board. The original recipe actually calls for chicken, but it was really amazing without it — so amazing, in fact, that Bobby (who is a total carnivore, typically) said he thought it might have been better without the chicken.

Amazing. And he said it’s the best thing I’ve ever made. Better than the alfredo sauce.

So what does this amazing recipe entail? A whole bunch of veggies and some delicious pre-made tortellini! It’s actually a pretty easy dish, just a bit of prep work.

Vegetarian tortellini and garden vegetable bake (adapted from Better Homes & Gardens)

Ingredients:

1 9-oz. package of Buitoni Three-cheese Tortellini
Olive oil
1 small carrot, cut into thin slices
1 cup sugar snap peas, halved crosswise
1 tbsp butter
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1/3 cup chicken broth
1 tbsp dried rosemary
1 tbsp dried basil
1/2 cup milk
Salt and pepper
4 oz. cream cheese, cubed and softened
1/2 cup quartered cherry or grape tomatoes

Directions:
Prep all your veggies before you start cooking! I tried to do a lot of stuff simultaneously, and it nearly got me in trouble! If you are a better multi-tasker than me, it might be OK, but I recommend getting the prep work out of the way first! I think the hoity-toity culinary term for that is mise en place. That’s right, folks. I watch a lot of Food Network.

Put tortellini on to boil (the Buitoni takes around 10 minutes), adding salt and olive oil to the water. With 5 minutes left, add the carrots. With 1 minute left, add the sugar snap peas.

While you are doing this, heat the butter in a sauce pan and saute the mushrooms in it, about 5 minutes. Remove the mushrooms from the pan and set them aside.

Whisk together the chicken broth, flour, rosemary, basil, salt and pepper. I just sort of eyeballed it on the rosemary, basil, salt and pepper.

Using the same sauce pan you sauteed the mushrooms in, combine the broth mixture with the milk. Heat and stir until the sauce has thickened a bit and is bubbling. Add the cream cheese and stir until smooth. Remove from heat.

Spray a glass baking dish with cooking spray. Combine all your ingredients in the cooking dish and mix everything together until it’s all well-coated by the sauce. Cover and cook at 350 for about 20 minutes.

I loved how this turned out, and it wasn’t really difficult to make, especially since the pasta is premade and just has to be boiled for a few minutes. I also like that it’s fairly adaptable depending on what you like or have on-hand. The original recipe actually calls for oregano, but I didn’t have any, so I substituted basil and rosemary! I used more or less of particular called-for veggies depending on what I know Bobby and I prefer.

The end result almost has a pot-pie quality, except with cheese-stuffed pasta instead of potatoes and a crust. This is a dish I will definitely make again!

Do you have any favorite recipes you’ve made recently? I love trying new stuff, so please share!

Recipe: SITS Girls potato soup

No joke, this potato soup recipe scared me a little bit.

It claimed it was quick and easy, but it contains seven. freakin’. cups. of. milk. I’ve never made any potato soup with that much milk in it. Typically my potato soups are broth based with a little bit of milk or heavy cream.

But I am sincerely glad I didn’t let that little bit of nervousness keep me from cooking this soup. Because it really was pretty easy, and it was one of the quickest — and most delicious — potato soups I’ve ever made!

potato soupI made a few small changes to the recipe (partially to not end up with an outrageous number of servings for just me and Bobby). Here’s the original from The SITS Girls, and here is what I did:

Ingredients:
1/3 cup butter
1 garlic clove, minced
1/3 cup unbleached flour
3 1/2 cups 2% milk (I would have used whole milk if I had it)
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 large baking potatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350. Poke holes in potatoes with a fork. Roll in olive oil, then add salt to skin. Place directly on oven rack and bake for about an hour (add a few extra minutes for extra-large potatoes).

Allow potatoes to cool somewhat, then cut into cubes. You can choose to remove the skin or leave it on. I chose to leave it on because I like the way it tastes, and it added a little salt and a little texture to the finished product.

Melt butter in a large pot at medium heat. Add garlic and saute until it’s slightly brown. Add the flour and stir until the mixture is smooth. Reduce heat to low and slowly stir in the milk and cream. Turn heat up to high and stir constantly until mixture is simmering, then add potatoes, continuing to stir until it begins to simmer again.

Reduce heat, cover and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Add other ingredients, including salt and pepper, and stir until cheese is melted. Add extra cheese and bacon bits (we used fake bacon bits since we’re trying to go vegetarian for the time being) to the top of the soup once you have put it in bowls. You can also add some chopped green onions for a little crunch and extra flavor!

This was one of the creamiest potato soups I’ve ever had. Bobby even went so far as to say that it is the best he’s ever had. A definite winner, and so easy!

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Have you checked out The Family Math on Facebook? I’m trying to get to 100 likes before New Year’s!

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