Spinach Torellini Bake

So I read about this yummy Tortellini Bake on Our Best Bites.  I do enjoy their blogs.  I'm not sure if its because the food is normal, its simple, or because its Kate and Sara blogging.  Either way, cheese, pasta, bacon, spinach:  sold.  I had been planning to make this since reading the recipe.  My original intent was to veggie it up with some asparagus I had in the fridge, but it was used in another manner.  I wound up pretty much following the recipe as it published, although i didn't really measure much - just the roux ingredients.  I still like the idea of throwing more veggies in there.  Serious win.  Definitely a re-do.  I could see prepping this the night before and just popping it in the oven when getting home from work for a quick and easy weeknight meal.  Looking forward to leftovers for lunch.

4-6 pieces of bacon,
1 bag spinach and cheese tortellini (12 oz)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbl flour
1 tbl olive oil
2 cups fat free milk
roughly chopped spinach -- about two handfuls
about 1.5 cups cheese -- mozzarella and parmesan mixed.
1 lemon
basil, pepper, salt to taste

1. I started off frying the bacon at a nice heat to make some tasty crumblies.  Meanwhile the pasta was cooking and the oven preheating.


2. After removing the bacon from the pan i wiped up most of the bacon grease and cooked the garlic for a minute or two in the leftover drippings in the bacon pan.  I used the leftover bacon grease and flour to make a roux.  (I actually took out too much grease, hence the added olive oil).  After adding milk, lemon juice, basil, salt, and pepper the sauce simmered until thickened slightly.

3. Meanwhile, with the oven preheating to 350F, I mixed the cooked pasta, chopped spinach, crumbly bacon, and cheese up in my pasta stockpot.  Finish by tossing and coating with the sauce and transferring to a baking dish.  I reserved a little cheese and bacon and threw them on the top before baking for about 25 minutes.  it was awesome, as shown below.



Creamy Potato-Cauliflower Salad

It's memorial day!  -Which means cookouts and all the yummy food that comes with summer.  Naturally, David had people over for a little cookout and we burned things in the fire pit.  I took the opportunity to bring out a new potato salad recipe.  I guess this puts me at four different ones that I consider successful!  Each one is unique and I like them all.  Although, i notice most of them do have bacon as a featured taste :)

I saw a pretty interesting spin on potato salad while reading the June issue of Better Homes and Gardens.  This is my interpretation of that recipe.  I would say this one was pretty yummy -- and pretty healthy too! :) I liked the cauliflower in this, it was a different spin.  I also learned that my pupsters like cauliflower!  They were all about the pieces I gave them. 

Creamy Potato-Cauliflower Salad
adapted from Better Homes and Gardens, June 2011

6 red potatoes, coarsely chopped
1/3-1/2 head of cauliflower, coarsely chopped
3 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
approx 1-1.5 cups plain yogurt
dill, lots of it. 
approx 1-2 tbl lemon juice
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
a handful (approx 1/3 cup?) Gorgonzola blue cheese
pepper to taste

I started with the potatoes -- cooking them until they were just fork tender and still fairly firm.  Once they were cooked I drained them and rinsed them with cold water. I did the same with the cauliflower -- steaming for a few minutes until fork tender but still firm. 

I mixed the yogurt, dill, and lemon juice together with some pepper.  I didn't add salt since I was adding the Gorgonzola and bacon to the salad later.  I tossed the yogurt mix with the potatoes and cauliflower and folded in the cheese and bacon and left it in the fridge too cool off. 


Chicken Rollatini with Proscuitto and Provolone

I know.. it has been a while.  The whole moving thing throws off the whole cooking thing.


i'm back.  and i made some kicking chicken the other night!  and I have some good stuff on the menu this weekend already :)

I saw this recipe on Gina's Skinny Eats several weeks ago and have been planning to make it since!  Seriously.  I pretty much followed her recipe, although it has given me a bunch of ideas on spins.  Here is my slightly modified version.

6 chicken tenders
italian breadcrumbs
3 cheese grated blend
lemon juice
olive oil
6 slices proscuitto
3 slices provolone

I took the chicken tenders and gave them a few wacks with the meat mallet, mostly just because i could :)  Meanwhile I mixed up a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice with a tablespoon or so of olive oil in one bowl and a 2:1 mixture of breadcrumbs and grated cheese in another bowl.  I took each chicken tender and washed it and patted it dry.  The tender was dipped into the lemon-oil mixtue followed by the breadcrumb mixture.  I placed a slice of proscuitto and half a slice of provolone in  middle and rolled the chicken up around it. 

The chicken baked in a lightly greased (Olive oil) pan for 30 minutes at 450.  since I was using tenders it probably could have cooked for 25 min. 

Note:  this looks a little more crunchy and whatnot because its from reheating the leftovers today... I forgot the camera in my other bag on Thursday when i made these.  oops.  but look at that crispy cheesy hammy goodness.mmm

Verdict - Win
It really was good!  I like this idea of the double breaded rollatini rather than trying to wrap a chicken breast around a bunch of filling and securing with toothpicks.  it was soo much easier.  We each ate to tenders and were full, leaving me 2 for lunch today :)

I had actually intended to take a couple of them and wrap a couple of asparagus spears in the middle of the proscuitto-cheese center rather than the onion that Gina used.  I still plan to do that... I think it would be awesome.  Other people suggested a basil leaf, but i like the asparagus idea, I just didn't follow through.  I also meant to spray the tops with olive oil so the breading would be crunchier during baking.  Either way it was a win.  the proscuitto was nice and salty and crispy from baking and it made my tummy happy :)

Plus, this was surprisingly easy -- far easier than David thought it was.  The hardest part is the tiny kitchen at the new house.


Beef Fajitas

Another work week means another week of lunch!  I find that if I make lunch during the weekend I'm much more likely to eat healthy and have a good midday meal at the desk.  If I don't make lunch I'm quite likely to eat something unhealthy or enhance my lunch with something i shouldn't eat.  This week I'm doing fajitas, mmmm.  Fajitas are one of my favorite foods in the world!!!  They just make me happy.

1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp cumin
2 cloves garlic chopped
~ 1 lb flat iron steak cut into strips
2 green peppers cut into strips
1/2 sweet onion cut into strips
3 roma tomatoes, quartered and de-seeded

I combined the lime, canola, oregano, cumin, and garlic in a bowl and mix well. Afterwords I chopped the peppers and onions and beef.  Toss the beef and vegetables with the marinade, cover and let sit for 4-8 hours.  Later I heated up a skillet on high and cooked the meat.  I removed as much liquid as possible and to allow the beef to sear and get well seared on the outside.  I removed the steak once cooked and added the peppers, onions, and tomatoes to the pan, removing as much liquid as possible.  once cooked I tossed the veggies and beef together and prepared to enjoy.  I usually enjoy my fajitas with a fork as is, avoiding beans, rice, and tortillas. 

Strawberry Whole Wheat Muffins

I saw a recipe for whole wheat blueberry muffins at Gina's Skinny Taste and it looked pretty tasty.  They sounded like a great option for breakfast this week instead of my usual yogurt.  I thought this might be a great way to use some of those giant Fukushima strawberries that were on sale this month, so I went for it.  They were great.  The applesauce for oil sub was great, as usual.  I used a half-half whole wheat/white flour, so they were  still pretty darn healthy, as well as yummy and totally easy.  I have a feeling I'll be making these again this summer as breakfast/snacks as the various berries go through their seasons.

1 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 cups 50-50 whole wheat/white flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups chopped strawberries
1 large egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp melted butter

First, mix the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt together.  Next add the wet and mix -- the sugar, egg, vanilla, and butter. I folded in the strawberries and filled up a dozen muffins.  Bake for 25 minutes at 325F and enjoy!!!!


Asparagus with Balsamic Tomatoes

I saw this recipe in this months cooking light, and knew it was a go. It was in their quick and easy category, i love asparagus, and I love tomatoes, what wasn't to like.  It really was a quick cook, and quite easy.  The original recipe has actual measurements associated with it, however, you know I don't believe in measuring unless absolutely necessary (how very un-engineer of me).  it was quite yummy, although sauteing the asparagus would possibly have been a little more yummy (and less healthy).  I really loved the balsamic tomatoes with goat cheese.  I could see just doing the tomatoes and goat cheese with some pasta sometime.  that would be fantabulous. 

Asparagus, trimmed

Extra-virgin olive oil
Halved grape tomatoes
Minced fresh garlic
Balsamic vinegar
Crumbled goat cheese
salt and pepper to taste
First, steam the asparagus for about 2-3 minutes until just barely tender and still firm.

Next, heat a little oil in a pan and saute the tomatoes and garlic for about 5 minutes.  Add a couple of tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper to taste and cook for 2-3 minutes longer. 

Serve the tomatoes over the asparagus and top with a little goat cheese.



Last summer we tried Lunardi's Restaurant in Beechview with Beth and G on a Friday night.  Its a tiny little Italian place that the Dormont/Lebo crowd pass by every day on the T, so it was just asking for a try.  We enjoyed it, so when I saw it pop up on Groupon later in the fall I couldn't say no!  Last night David and I went back for a date night to use that Groupon before it disappeared.  It was a kitschy as I remembered,  reminding me of mom's kitchen, or maybe grandma's.  David had the chicken parmesan and i had an absolutely delicious chicken marsala served over spinach.  It was a good thing that we called ahead for reservations -- they only have 7 tables plus the bar, and it was hopping!  I also noticed that they seem to not only sell adult beverages, but it would appear that you can byoW and they'll just charge a corking fee :)  That makes me happy too!

Veggie Pizza

1 tube frozen pizza dough
olive/canola oil/spray
~1.5 cups mozzarella cheese shredded
balsamic vinegar
italian seasonings

First I preheated the oven according to the directions on the pizza dough.  I spread the dough out on a baking sheet that was prepared with a little bit of oil.  I added a light sprinkling of the shredded cheese and baked for 7 minutes.


Meanwhile, I chopped up two tomatoes, sliced half a package of mushrooms, and grabbed a couple of handfuls of spinach. I tossed these with a little bit of balsamic vinegar.  Take the vegetable mix and top the pizza with the veggies and sprinkle with italian seasonings.  Bake for 7-10 minutes longer until the crust is baked and the veggies are heated up.  Slice and enjoy!

Win.  Pizza is one of my favorite foods in the world.  This was a semi healthy version of it.  It makes me happy :)


Faux Fried Ravioli

Frozen Mini Cheese Ravioli
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup grated parmesan
Italian seasoning to taste
Red Sauce of choice

First I cooked the ravioli as directed on the bag.  Meanwhile I mixed the corneal, parmesan, and seasonings in a small bowl.  After cooking the ravioli I dipped it in the cornmeal mix.  I placed the ravioli on a lined baking sheet that i sprayed with nonstick spray.  After they were all on the baking sheet i sprayed the tops and baked them for about 20 minutes until they were brown and crunch.

I've done this before actually, it had just been a while.  We were out at Cain's Saloon a couple of weeks ago and they had fried ravioli on the menu, which made me want some baked fried goodness.  I served them with various dipping sauces -- chunky for me and smooth for David.  It was a win, and a nice slight deviation from the norm :)

Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower Pasta

1 super large giant japanese radiated cauliflower
2 heads broccoli
Vegetable oil
5-6 cloves garlic
1/2 box whole wheat elbow noodles
Salt, Pepper to taste

I chopped up the cauliflower, broccoli, and garlic.  I tossed them with the canola oil I had and roasted them until they had some nice roasty browning.  Meanwhile I boiled up some pasta.  I tossed the cooked pasta, oil and all, with the pasta and enjoyed for lunch last week.  To make it a little more filling I added a little sliced chicken a couple of days.

Yum.  Easy, Veggie.  Lunch.  Fake Healthy.  Met all my requirements.
Sort of has potential as a hot pasta salad...


Green Pasta

2 cups spinach
1/2 cup parsley
1/2 cup basil
2-3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup Parmesan/Romano cheese mix
1/4 cup water
2 tbl olive oil
3/4 box angel hair
1 bag petite peas

Mix the spinach, parsley, basil, garlic, cheese, water, and oil in the food processor and blend!  Meanwhile cook the angel hair.  During the last few minutes of cooking the pasta throw in the peas and cook.  Mix it all and have at it!

Excellent.  I enjoyed adding the spinach to the pesto.  It was nice and different.  I also enjoyed it.  I stole the idea from my favorite Kashi meal - adding peas to a pesto pasta.  Win.  it was super appropriate for St. Patricks lunch :)

Blackberry Bread Pudding

5-6 cups coarsely shredded challah
2 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 1/4 cup sugar
6 eggs
1/2-1 pint blueberries
1 tbl vanilla

Spray the crockpot with non-stick spray.  then put half of the challah (or other bread) in the bottom of the crockpot.  Add 1/2 the berries and then cover with the remaining bread, topping with the remaining berries.  Meanwhile mix the milk, cream, sugar, eggs and vanilla together.  Dump over the bread mixture.  Push down the bread mixture to make sure it is all covered and soaked.  Cook on low for about 2.5 hours.  It should bubble up and look nice and souffley.

Serve it up warm with whipped cream


Always a win.  Normally I use raspberries, but I tried the blackberries for a change.  Also a win.  I actually forgot to put the vanilla in (which I usually use at least 2 tbl since I love vanilla) It was still great.  I brought this to a Mardi Gras Party and took none home :)  Win!!!!


Italian Wedding Soup

Based on The Barefoot Contessa's Italian Wedding Soup

1.25 lb Ground turkey
2/3 cup Italian breadcrumbs
1 Egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup Paremsan/romano blend
Olive oil
Carrots, coarsely chopped
Celery, coarsely chopped
Chicken stock
1 cup,small pasta
2-3 handfuls baby spinach chopped

First was the meatballs -- I mixed the turkey, breadcrumbs, egg, and cheese.  I formed a ton of mini meatballs -- they were still a little too large.  They baked in the oven for about 30 to 35 minutes at 350F. 

Meanwhile, I chopped the carrots and celery and sauteed them in the olive oil in the bottom of my stockpot.  once it was cleared up I added chicken stock and brought it to a boil.  Add the pasta and cook to al dente.  Add the meatballas and spinach.  Cook for 1-2 min to wilt the spinach and let the meat balls soak up some goodness.

I made this a few weeks ago, so I think this was everything i put into it... but i'm not sure I left out onions/garlic since I was planning to share with david.. then I ate it all for myself.  ooops.  The meatballs were a bit large, and I would have liked more broth.  Otherwise it was repeatable for sure!!!! Yum!! 


Toamto and Asparagus Pasta with Flat Iron Steak

Asparagus, coarsely chopped
3/4 pint grape tomatoes
olive oil
sea salt and pepper to taste
angel hair pasta
Flat Iron steak
Montreal steak seasoning

I took the Asparagus and tomatoes and sauteed them up in the oil with salt and pepper until warmed, and still firm with a nice bit of brown starting to occur.  Meanwhile I cooked the angel hair.  I tossed the veggies with the pasta and dished it up.

For the flat iron steak I started with some seasoning on the steak and seared the steak on the stovetop in my stainless.  While the veggies were cooking i moved the steak into the oven and finished cooking it. I finished up the meal by slicing and adding to the pasta. 

This is my version of a simple, easy,  Sarah friendly dinner (which made for amazing lunch leftovers).   I really owe Lulu for introducing me to the flat iron steak.  I do love it!!!!  This dinner/lunch made me happy.  I guess it fits the KISS principle -- it was simple and I enjoyed every flavor :)

Garlic Roasted Cauliflower

I needed a semi healthy yummy veggie....  here it is.

1 head cauliflower, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
olive oil
coarse ground sea salt and pepper to taste

I tossed it all together and roasted for until i was happy with the crisp :) 

I enjoyed it... and so did David's dad.  i think we're good :)  Its sort of like Kate's DC broccoli, but cauliflower.  oddly enough, I had never eaten cauliflower before last year, and now its a standard for me. 

Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie!!!

For Valentines Day I brought out one more dessert.  I swear, I'm really not a dessert girl, and with the onset of March the desserts go away and the fun of non-dessert, attempting to be healthy comes back for good.  I found this recipe on Our Best Bites, although I'm pretty sure it comes straight from Nestle.

1 pie crust [you know I used Grandma Goerss' crust :)]
2 large eggs

1/2 cups flour
1/2 cups white granulated sugar
1/2 cups packed brown sugar
3/4 cups real butter, softened (1 1/2 sticks)
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Make the Pie Crust :)   I think i'm getting Grandma Goerss' crust down pat now :)

Preheat the Oven to 325F and then beat the eggs until foamy.  Add the flour, white sugar, and brown sugar followed by butter and finally the chocolate chips.  pour into the pie crust and bake for 55 to 60 min until the knife test midway between the edge and center comes back clean.

Amazing.  Beyond Easy.  i used 1.5 cups chocolate chips since i didn't have any nuts in my pie.  I think it was too much chocolate.  But still -- beyond amazing and easy.  It was ooey and gooey and yummy.  The ooey/gooey was due to the low flour level, not undercooked eggs... so is totally edible and amazing.


Cider Braised Pork

2 lb pork loin roast
1 small butternut squash, chopped
2 apples, chopped coarsely
1/2 cabbage, sliced
apple cider
salt an pepper to taste

Simple stuff-- layer the squash, apples, cabbage, and pork in the crock pot.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Drizzle a small amount of apple cider in and cook on low all day. 

This was a crockpot-ification of a pork tenderloin recipe from the December issue of Rachel Ray.  I had been thinking about it since seeing the recipe and knew it was a good way to use up the leftover cabbage from the eggrolls.  This was a total win.  The pork was moist, the cabbage didn't overpower the remaining veggies and it was good!!!! It pretty much tasted the way it smelled and I hoped it would - which is always good.  I served everything with the cider sauce on top and loved every bite!  David didn't feel like the apple cider overpowered the pork and happily ate his portion too, noting it was still moist without pouring juices over it.

Peanut Butter Squares

... or hearts

I made the magical cranberry bars a couple of weeks ago, however, they had lots of taboo in them -- so i wanted to make a more simple, shareable dessert.  I had seen this recipe for no bake peanut butter bars at Our Best Bites and it seemed to call to me.  Especially since I already had the requisite ingredients :)

1 1/2 C graham cracker crumbs (about 1 package)

1 lb powdered sugar
1 1/2 C creamy peanut butter
1 C (2 sticks) real butter, melted
1 12oz bag chocolate chips
a smidge of extra peabut butter

Crush the graham crackers -- I just crushed them in the bowl.  The food processor might have been better.  The smaller the crumbs the better.

Mix the graham cracker crumbs and powdered sugar.  Add in the PB and butter.  Take the mixture and press into a 9x13 pan that has been lined with parchment paper. 

Meanwhile, melt the chocolate, adding a couple of tbl of peanut butter.  Spread the chocolate mixture onto the bars, place them in the fridge, and let them cool.  Cut them before they get too hard (the chocolate needs to set without getting too hard).

Win.  It was a definite win.  Rather than cutting these into squares I actually used my heart shape cookie cutter to make them into reese's hearts.  They reall did taste like reese's.  And they were cute.  Everyone who had one had more than one :) 

BLT dip

We enjoyed some super bowl sadness last week with friends.  There was so much awesome food there!  I know my southern friends think I was going to be walking to 'northern we don't cook here' territory, but they are certainly giving you a run for the money here.  David brought wings and I decided to bring my A game with some BLT dip.  You know bacon makes everything yum-tastic.

1 cup sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise
1 lb bacon
3/4 pint grape tomatoes chopped
2-5 green onions

Combine the sour cream and mayonnaise and mixed well.  While the  bacon cooks,  chop the tomatoes an green onions up into small pieces.  Take the cooked bacon and crumble into the dip.  Mix and chill.  The longer you let it sit the better it tastes!!!

Verdict --
Bacon makes everything taste awesome.


Cranberry Magic Bars

I saw this recipe the other day on Our Best Bites and absolutely had to give it a try!  I made these cookies and brought the into work for our Steelers Superbowl Party.  Seemed like a hit...  I know I enjoyed them.

1 1/2 cups crushed graham cracker crumbs
1 stick butter, melted
14 oz. can can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/4 cups shredded coconut
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips
cinnamon as desired
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup chopped cranberries

Spread the melted butter in the bottom of a 9 by 13 pan.  Top with graham cracker crumbs and press down to make a nice crust.  Spread the sweetened condensed milk on top of the crust an top with coconut.  spread the white chocolate chips an top with cinnamon as desired.  top with the milk chocolate chips, pecans, an cranberries.  Press own an bake at 350 for about30 min.  Cut into bars and try not to eat the entire pan!!!

Let's Go Steelers!!!

Irish Eggrolls

A few weeks ago we went to the Irish Pub, Claddah, with the Illini Club to watch the basketball game.  One of the guys in the club introduced us to Corned Beef and Cabbage Eggrolls.  They were beyond absolutely amazing.  I decided I had to re-create these, so this is my take. 

1/4 lb deli corned beef, cut thick.
1/2 cabbage, chopped
4 slices swiss cheese, chopped
Salt and pepper.
Eggroll wrappers

I chopped up the corned beef into chunks.  I heated them up in my nonstick pan with a little bit of oil.  I added the chopped cabbage an salt and pepper to my taste.  I cooked up this mixture until the cabbage was softened.  At that point I mixed in the cheese.  I took a spoonful or two of the corned beef an cabbage mixture an placed it in the middle of the eggroll wrapper an wrapped up the eggroll, placing it seam side down on a greased cookie sheet.  I  repeated this until running out of corned beef an cabbage.  I sprayed the tops with oil and baked until crispy on the outside.

Amazing!  It was definitely good stuff!!!  You could extend this with more cabbage (I probably would next time... it was actually a little heavy on the corned beef).  You could also use it as a delivery method for leftover corned beef with St. Patty's coming up soon.  These were a total win!!!!  I would eat them with a coarse ground mustard or a thousand island dressing dipping sauce.  Definitely enjoy the concept of doing non-traditional eggrolls!


Zucchini Fries

I saw this recipe for baked zucchini fries on Our Best Bites a couple of weeks ago and mentally bookmarked it as worth trying.  It was a particular go since I heard a rumor that certain people liked baked/fried zucchini loaded with breadcrumbs.
1 zucchini
1/2 cup italian seasoned panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 eggs

Cut the zucchini into strips- I used my handy dandy veggie cutter
I whipped up the two eggs in a bowl and mixed the panko bread crumbs and parmesan in another bowl.  I took the zucchini, dipped it in the egg and dipped it into the panko mix and laid them out on a baking sheet (I forgot to spray the pan with non-stick spray, I recommend not doing that).  I baked them for 12 minutes at 425, flipped them, and baked for another 12 minutes.

Verdict -- Success.  The fries were yummy.  I would definitely re-create these during summer when the zucchini is plentiful and dip them in some ranch!  I think 'someone' might eat them again next time!


Chicken Taco Soup

Shredded chicken (~1.5 chicken breasts)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can corn, drained and rinsed
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
1 packet taco seasoning
4 cups chicken stock or water

I had leftover chicken from the Chicken Pockets (I just poached it in the crockpot overnight -- so moist and easy to shred :) - definitely a good way to cook chicken).  I combined the chicken, beans, corn, tomatoes, taco seasoning, and stock.  I brought them to a boil and let them simmer for a while before serving.  Had I gotten the day started earlier I would have just used my BFF, the crock pot, to heat them up.

This made the cut, especially with cheese to garnish.  For a simple soup it was good and filled my need for soup of the week.  I ate it with a cheese quesadilla, sort of a southwestern style grilled cheese and tomato soup.  I plan to eat it a la qdoba mexican gumbo over rice the rest of the week for lunch. :)

Chicken Pockets

Some history....  I used to go to Washington DC every year for a conference in January.  A couple of years ago I had a club sandwich at the restaurant/coffee shop up the street from our hotel, except it was a club sandwich made using puff pastry.  Absolutely Amazing. We talk about it to this day, 2 years later.  Kate was there for that amazing meal, so she fell in love with the concept -- she started making puff pastry roast beef sandwiches.  It was fabulous.  I saw a recipe for cooking a chicken breast in puff pastry, which reminded me of "the sandwich".  I had to modify it and try my hand at "the sandwich"

Shredded cooked chicken (~ 1.5 chicken breasts)
1 sheet puff pastry dough, defrosted
Vermont white cheddar, shredded or in chunks
1 apple, chopped
Ranch sauce for dipping

We started out with David cooking several slices of bacon.  Once cooked I chopped it up into pieces.

Meanwhile, I took the puff pasty dough and cut it into four square pieces and rolled each one out to make a larger square.  One one half of each pastry square I mixed together chicken, bacon, cheese chunks, and apples (for mine). I wrapped the other end of the pastry over to form a turnover pocket and brushed the top with a little Oil.  I cooked the pockets for about 20 min at 350 until the middle was warm and the pastry was cooked and golden brown.

I served with Ranch sauce for dipping for David.

In terms of thoughts... it was good, seemed to pass everyone's tests.   I would think about using a semisoft cheese that was better for melting, or just more of the cheddar next time. 


Green Beans and Tomatoes

David volunteered me for Green Bean Casserole for Christmas Dinner at his Aunts.  I had slight issue with this since I don't really do Green Bean Casserole.  Turns out he just said that I made Green Bean Casserole at Thanksgiving.  I had seen this other recipe in Ambrosia, the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary cookbook I received as a going away present so I decided to give it a try instead.  It was a success.  Big win, I enjoyed it!! The vegetable eaters all seemed to really like it... and David's father's comment was "This isn't your mother's green be casserole". :)

Green Beans and Tomatoes
adapted from Ambrosia, by the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary

2 lbs fresh green beans
1/4 cup butter (I would look at oil for next time I make this)
2 tbl sugar
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
several fresh basil leaves torn and chopped
1-1.5 pints grape tomatoes chopped

Trim the ends of the green beans and remove strings.  Boil in a large saucepan for about 20 minutes and drain.

melt the butter (or oil) in a skillet.  Add the minced garlic and begin to saute to infuse the garlic taste.  Stir in the sugar, salt, pepper, and basil.  Add tomatoes and cook until slightly softened.  Toss the green beans and tomato sauce.

Squash Soup

Squash Soup adapted from the Barefoot Contessa, Barefoot in Paris

3 tbl olive oil
1 chopped yellow onions
3/4 -28 oz can pumpkin puree
2 lbs butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks
32 oz chicken stock or broth
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup half and half

Heat the butter and oil in your stockpot or dutch oven. Add the onions/garlic and cook over medium low until translucent ~10 min or so.

Add the pumpkin puree, squash, chicken stock, salt, and pepper. Cover and simmer over medium low heat for about 20 minutes until the butternut squash is very tender.

Process the mixture using your immersion blender. Add the half and half and heat slowly. If the soup needs more flavor add another tsp of salt. For a thicker soup reduce the amount of chicken stock.. For a thinner soup, increase stock.

Delicious! As always!  I always enjoy pumpkin and squash soups.  I definitely enjoy anytime I get to use my immersion blender too :)  So this was a win.  I love having a pot of soup to eat for lunch :)