Sunday, January 24, 2010

Pretty Pinwheels

I've been meaning to post this recipe since last weekend when I made it but time has escaped me this week!  This is an easy, yummy appetizer that can double as a light lunch if you'd like.  There are too many pinwheel recipes out there to count so if this one doesn't float your boat, just google "pinwheel recipe" and you are sure to find more than just a few.  Here's one I highly recommend...

Pretty Pinwheels

4 flour tortillas
4 oz. garden veggie cream cheese (I bought an 8 oz. container and used about 2/3 of it)
10-12 thin slices of roast beef
fresh spinach leaves (about 20)
10 oz. or 12 oz. jar of roasted red peppers, rinsed and patted dry with paper towels

Spread each tortilla with cream cheese all the way to the edge.  Top with roast beef but leave a 1/2 inch border around the outside.  Top beef with spinach leaves and red peppers.  (Make sure red peppers are dry or they will make the pinwheels too soggy!)  Starting at one end, roll tortilla tightly and wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight, if desired.  Cut off ends and slice into approximately 8 slices per tortilla.  Serve chilled.

Like I said, there are literally hundreds of different fillings you can put inside of pinwheels so experiment with whatever you have or whatever sounds best to you!  Think Mexican, vegetarian, ranch and thin sliced chicken with cheese and bacon...yumm...might have to try that one. :)  In the words of the late Jack Buck, "Go crazy folks, go crazy!"

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Most Important Meal of the Day


That's right folks, breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  What better way to start off your day than with a delicious breakfast casserole?  This weekend I played hostess to my wonderful Omaha friends and whipped up this yummy one to keep us well-fed. 

Amish Breakfast Casserole

1 lb. sliced bacon, diced
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
6 eggs, lightly beaten
4 cups shredded hash brown potatoes, thawed
2 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups small curd cottage cheese
3/4 cup shredded Swiss cheese

In a large skillet, cook bacon and onion until bacon is crisp; drain.  In a bowl, combine the remaining ingredients; stir in back mixture.  Transfer to a greased 9x13 baking dish.  Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until set and bubbly.  Let stand for 5-10 minutes before cutting.

My recommendations:  I always use the frozen chopped onion, it just saves so much time and eye-watering.  Assemble the night before and refrigerate, covered, until you are ready to bake.  It makes the morning that much easier.  You can even add chopped green peppers or mushrooms (saute with the bacon and onion for a couple minutes), or anything else you might like to add.  I use bacon but you can always substitute sausage if that's more your thing. 

I hope you love this breakfast dish as much as I do!  Happy eating!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Snow Day Chili!

That's right folks...we're snowed in here in St. Louis.  Or at least, the roads are a mess thanks to what the news is calling a "winter weather trifecta: snow, extreme cold, and gusty winds."  I have shared a chili recipe before (Mmmm...chili) but when you have a snow day and lots of extra time on your hands, it's time to break out the big guns and go for one that's a little more time consuming to make...but worth every minute.

Here it is folks, straight from the Chattanooga Times Free Press, I give you Whiteface Mountain Chili.

Whiteface Mountain Chili

2 Tbls. veg. oil
2 1/2 lbs. sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1 large Spanish onion, quartered
4 medium celery stalks
2 medium carrots
2 green bell peppers, seeded and quartered
1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 cup medium salsa
1 (15 oz.) can tomato puree
1 (10 oz.) can chili sauce
1 Tbls. chili powder, more or less to taste
1/2 Tbls. cumin
1 tsp. white pepper
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
2 Tbls. chopped jalapeno peppers
2 (15 oz.) cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 oz.) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained

In a large stockpot, heat the oil over medium heat until nearly smoking.  Add the sausage and saute until it resembles a coarse crumble, about 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, place the onions, celery, carrots, and green peppers in a food processor and pulse until very finely diced.  Add the vegetables to the sausage and saute another 6-8 minutes, or until soft. 

Add diced tomatoes, salsa, tomato puree, and the chili sauce.  Stir and bring it to a simmer, then cook 10 minutes.  Add the chili powder, cumin, white pepper, oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, garlic, bay leaf, and jalapenos.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 25 minutes.  Add the beans and simmer another 15 minutes.  Remove bay leaf before serving.  Makes 8-10 servings.

Unfortunately, I wasn't counting on being off today or the roads being bad enough to keep me from being able to go to the store so we won't be able to have Whiteface Mountain Chili tonight but I'll still whip up a batch of mine to keep us warm.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Mostaccioli with Mushrooms and Spinach

Had to stop at the grocery store on my way home from work today as our fridge and freezer were a bit on the sparse side.  This meant I could pick anything I wanted to make for dinner tonight...nice!  I decided to go with one of my favorite pastas that is quick, easy, hearty, and delicious!!  Let's get right down to business, shall we?  Here's the recipe...

Mostaccioli with Mushrooms and Spinach

1 lb. mostaccioli
4 Tbls. butter
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 lb. sliced mushrooms
2 cups fresh spinach (I usually cheat and put more in)
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
garlic powder to taste
fresh ground pepper to taste
1 lb. grilled (I use my Foreman grill) chicken breasts, sliced (optional)

Prepare mostaccioli according to package instructions.  Meanwhile, melt butter over medium heat.  Add onion and saute, stirring frequently, until soft.  Add mushrooms and saute for 2 minutes.  Stir the spinach into the mushroom mixture until spinach is slightly wilted.  Add heavy whipping cream and garlic powder and cook, stirring frequently, until reduced by half.  Remove from heat.  Toss pasta with the sauce, adding the grated cheese and seasoning to taste with pepper.  Stir in or top with grilled chicken.  Enjoy!

I pulled a couple of those Herbed Asiago Rolls from last week out of the freezer and popped them in the oven and had a nice spinach salad alongside my bowl of pasta...delicious!  Made for a terrific dinner on such a cold night!  We will definitely be eating leftovers of this tomorrow.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Ask Lauren Returns!

So this edition of "Ask Lauren" is long overdue.  Back in the beginning of November, the school I work at had a "fiesta" for the teachers as a sign of our appreciation of our staff.  I brought Homemade Gourmet's Cinnamon Sopapillas to share.  They were a big hit with their layers of flaky pastry and cinnamon infused cream cheese.......................................pardon me, I needed to wipe the drool from my lip.  Where was I, oh yes, so the HG sopapillas are more like a coffee cake as far as consistency goes.  Not quite the same as the crispy, puffy pastries covered in honey and cinnamon-sugar you might get at a Mexican restaurant.  One of my coworkers asked if I knew how to make the restaurant style ones as she particularly likes them.  I did not, but I promised to figure it out.

Two months later, I finally got it!  Many thanks to the Food Network for helping me out in my quest!  Here;s the recipe for Ingrid Hoffmann's Sopapillas.  It really was an easy recipe to follow and even the frying wasn't hard.  The only thing I didn't like was the stink in my house when we were done.  Maybe next time I will make these when it's warmer than 15 degrees so I can open a window or two.  :) 

Just a couple tips to making this recipe work out the very best it can.  Be careful not to make the dough too wet!  Once you add the water and shortening to the dry ingredients, make sure you use your hands to combine.  This will help you have a much better feel for how much more water you need to add, one teaspoon at a time.  If it starts to get sticky, lay off the water.  Other than that, just follow Ingrid's instructions and I promise you will enjoy them!

Quick and easy casserole...

We've all had those nights..."Darn it, I forgot to thaw something for dinner but I don't want to eat out."  or "Oops, we don't really have anything to thaw but I don't want to eat out."  This is where your creativity has to kick in, like mine did last night!

Case in point:  no dinner plan at 5:30 and starting to get hungry.  What do I have?  A quick survey of the fridge and I notice that I still have a pound of Velveeta and I have one of the packs of ham from Christmas Eve thawing.  Upon further consideration I realize I have half a bag of mixed veggies in the freezer and plenty of rice I could make.  Bingo...instant casserole.  Not exactly gourmet, but think of it as comfort food. 

Quick and Easy Casserole

3 cups cooked rice
8 oz. Velveeta cheese
1/2 cup milk
10 oz. mixed veggies, thawed (can use anything you have, really...spinach, broccoli, etc)
2 cups cubed ham
1/2 cup cheddar cheese

Combine Velveeta and milk and microwave until melted through.  Stir in ham, veggies, and rice.  Transfer to a greased 9x13 pan and top with cheddar cheese.  Bake for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees.  Enjoy!

See...dinner can be quick and easy even if you forgot to plan. :)