Monday, March 28, 2011

Homemade Gnocchi

This one is really from Food Network, but I made it and loved it and its going to be a repeat occasion for sure.  Mario Batali is a star chef for a reason, folks!  Trust me, this is totally worth not buying them at the store--they're lighter and more tender and not so dense and dried out like store bought.  So here we go, I hope you like them as much as we did.


3 lbs potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 c flour
pinch of salt
1 egg
1/2 c vegetable oil
extra flour for kneading

Boil potatoes in salted water til very soft.  Drain, and then run them through a food mill or potato ricer (prevents lumps and makes them smoother, which means smoother dough) into a large mixing bowl.  Make a well in the potatoes and sprinkle the 2 cups of all purpose flour over the potatoes, and then add the egg and the oil.  Mix with a fork til soft dough forms, and then move to a well floured pastry board to knead.  Gently knead more flour into it til it becomes firm and not sticky, about 4 minutes.  Divide into 8 small balls of dough and then roll each ball of dough into a rope.  Cut the rope into 1 inch pieces and then roll them on the back of a fork to mark them. Place on a baking sheet dusted with flour.  Recipe makes about 3 lbs of gnocchi, or 12 servings.

We cooked a bit of it tonight and froze the rest for later on the cookie sheets.  Once they are frozen solid you can move them from the cookie sheets to separate bags.  You'll want to freeze them on the sheet to keep them from sticking together and forming a large ball of dough instead of lots of little dumplings.

Serving Suggestion:  Bring a pot of water to a boil.  Drop in gnocchi and cook til they float to the top, about 3-4 minutes.  Drain.  Saute some sliced mushrooms in a bit of butter.  Add cooked gnocchi to mushrooms and continue to cook with the mushrooms.  Add some pesto and stir til combined and heated through.  Serve with parmesan cheese on top.  You'll love it!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Mostaccioli with a Twist

My mom makes this delicious pasta casserole that the whole family loves, which can be found here that is called Mostaccioli.  This week I was looking for a good way to use up the swiss chard I got in the bountiful basket last Saturday and I found a manicotti recipe by Giada De Laurentiis from Food Network that I wanted to try.  I didnt have manicotti noodles and it seemed like I could easily morph it into a sort of mostaccioli recipe with a twist.  Here is what we ended up with.

Sweet Pea and Swiss Chard Mostaccioli

1 1/2 lbs penne rigate pasta (I used whole wheat, but regular works too)
1 15 oz container ricotta cheese
3/4 c frozen peas
olive oil
1 head swiss chard, stems removed
1 medium white onion, diced finely
3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 c mozzarella cheese
3/4 c parmesan cheese
1/4 c fresh basil leaves, chopped
salt and pepper

white sauce
1/2 stick of butter
3 tbsp flour
2 c milk
1 c chicken broth
1/2 c parmesan cheese
1/4 c fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 diced tomato, optional

Cook pasta to pkg directions to al dente, then drain and rinse with cold water.  Set aside.

In a skillet, heat the olive oil, and then saute the onion and garlic and then add swiss chard til its all wilted.  Set aside to cool slightly.

Most of the time I say you can substitute a blender for a food processor, but in this case I totally wish I had a food processor.   If you use a blender, make sure the frozen peas are defrosted first so you don't have trouble with the blender blades not working.

In the food processor, blend together the ricotta, peas, chard and onion mixture, salt and pepper and mozzarella and parmesan.

Make white sauce by melting the butter and then whisking in the flour to create a roux.  Add your milk and stir til thickened and add the chicken broth and parmesan cheese.  Stir til combined and thickened again, and then add basil and tomato at the very end.  Mix this sauce with the pasta, and then place half of the pasta in the bottom of the pan, cover with the ricotta mixture, and the top with more pasta and more grated mozzarella. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Jeff's "Heavenly" Pizza

Ok all of you faithful readers...remember last year when my husband and I went to Park City and we had the best pizza we had ever tasted?  Remember how we endeavored to recreate such pizza in our own home?  Well my loving husband has finally mastered the pesto pizza.  We tested it out on Mom for her birthday and it was a standing ovation all around.  So here we go, we will share our masterpiece with you since you are such loyal and wonderful readers.

Heavenly Pesto Pizza

1 recipe basic pizza dough, found here
3-4 tbsp prepared pesto, storebought or recipe can be found here
1 tomato, diced
fresh mozzarella cheese
3 cloves garlic, minced
fresh basil

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  Roll out pizza dough to a 12 inch round, and place on a pizza stone coated with cornmeal.  Prebake dough for 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and spread pesto onto the crust, and then cover with the basil and garlic, and then top with cheese and tomatoes.  Bake again for 20 minutes.


Friday, March 25, 2011

Catching up!

Okay, I did follow the menu, but I fell off the blogging wagon this week.  I dont really have a good reason or excuse, but I am going to catch up starting with steamed mahi mahi and mango raspberry salsa and steamed rice.    Then throughout the week I will have the other recipes posted so you can try them all out.  Here we go with the mahi mahi....

Steamed Mahi Mahi with Mango Raspberry Salsa

4 fillets of mahi mahi
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp soy sauce
2-3 drops of sesame oil
1/2 c water


3 mangoes
1 box of fresh raspberries
1/2 a red onion, finely diced
1/2 a bunch of cilantro, chopped finely
lemon juice

In a 9x13 inch pan, place a large piece of aluminum foil.  Place the fish in the middle of the foil and then add the soy sauce, lemon juice, sesame oil and honey.  Raise the sides of the foil and then add the water and then fold and crimp the foil to make a packet.  Place in a 375 degree oven for 25 minutes.

Cut the mango sides away from the pit, then score it with a paring knife vertically, and then again horizontally to create 1/2 inch cubes.  It's sort of like cutting an avacado, but instead of cutting around the pit, you just slice it off the side away from the pit.  Then once you have scored it with the knife, turn mango inside out so you can cut the flesh from the peel.  Do this with all of your mangoes, and you will end up with a bowl of diced mango.

Saute your onion in a bit of olive oil just until its soft, and then add that to the mango, and add the raspberries and cilantro and lemon juice too.  Stir til combined, set aside til ready to serve.

Serve the fish along side steamed rice and topped with the salsa.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Bountiful Baskets: Round 2, Week 2

It's that time again!  I picked up our basket this morning, thankfully this time with my husband's help because it was a whopper this time.  Here is what we got:

2 bunches of swiss chard
1 head of celery
3 mangoes
4 tangelos
5 apples
3 vine tomatoes
1 cantaloupe
1 head cauliflower
1 bunch of broccoli
1 bunch asparagus
1 bunch cilantro

PLUS we ordered 2 add-ons this week:

5 loaves of ciabatta bread

and the Italian Pack which included:

1 pkg white button mushrooms
1 pkg baby bella mushrooms
2 white onions
1 red onion
1 head of garlic
basil, oregano, and rosemary
flat leaf parsley

Still working on the menu for the week, but here is what I have so far:

Today or Tomorrow: Pesto Pizza.  Husband is making it, and its really good.
Monday: Mahi Mahi with Raspberry Mango Salsa (probably with rice and some veggie on the side)
Tuesday: considering making manicotti with the swiss chard
Wednesday: probably spaghetti with leftover spaghetti sauce I have in the freezer
Thursday: Broccoli Cheddar Soup
Friday: Homemade Gnocci

So stick with me this week to see what I can do with what we got.  Try it along with me!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Chicken Curry and Rice

Yesterday my husband decided to cook again, and who am I to complain?  He even cleaned up afterwards too! I was a lucky girl last night.  He made chicken curry, which is a common well loved thing around here.  We love all kinds of curry around here--Japanese, Indian, Chinese, Thai....its all tasty.  This recipe is easy because the curry spices are already done for us--we use a pre-made curry paste called Golden Curry.  Usually it's the mild heat level because I freely admit I am a wuss when it comes to really spicy stuff.  I love the flavor of spices used in curry, I just can't take the heat.  So here we go--simple recipe, delicious results.

Chicken Curry and Rice

2 whole chicken breasts, preferably boneless skinless, cut into bite sized pieces
1 onion, sliced thin
3-4 carrots, sliced into coins about 1/4 inch thick
1 pkg Golden Curry paste/block, in the heat level you desire
1/2 pt heavy cream, optional
cooked white rice, for about 4 people.

In a wok or large skillet, cook chicken pieces til cooked through.  Add carrots and onions and cook til onions are tender. Stir constantly in this process--again, this is to keep things from burning because you will be using high heat for this part of the process.  Add your curry paste and the water the pkg calls for, reduce the heat to a simmer, and let all ingredients simmer until the sauce is thickened and the carrots are tender.  If you choose to add the cream, add that at the very end right before serving and just cook until its well combined and warmed.

Serve over rice.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Oven Steamed Salmon, Steamed Green Beans, and Mashed Potatoes

According to the planned menu for the week, I made salmon tonight.  Thanks to a neighbor who ended up not liking the frozen salmon she bought at the store, I ended up with a couple of fillets in my freezer.  I have done salmon a few different ways in the past but this time I tried something slightly different and a little bit healthier.  I paired it with still crisp steamed green beans and some mashed potatoes to use up the potatoes in the pantry.  I hope you like it as much as we did!

Oven Steamed Salmon

1 large salmon fillet (about a foot long)
1 lemon
1/2 tsp dried dill weed
1/4 tsp each: seasoning salt, black pepper, onion powder
1 tbsp butter, cut in half
1/4 c water
aluminum foil, for cooking
baking dish (keeps your oven clean--catches any leaky juices)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place a large sheet of aluminum foil inside your baking dish (needs to be at least 6 inches longer than the fish) Place salmon in the middle of the foil, and then sliced the lemon into rounds.  Place lemon rounds on top of the fish.  Top with seasonings and dill weed.  Top all of that with dots of the butter.  Pull up the sides of the foil to make a pouch and then add your water.  Pinch together the tops and sides of the foil to close the packet, and bake for 25 minutes.  Serve hot.

Mashed Potatoes (simple recipe, but everyone has a different one, right?)

6 medium potatoes
1 tsp salt
1/4 c butter
1/4 -1/2 c milk

Peel and cut potatoes into wedges.  (You don't have to peel them, sometimes I don't.  Potato peels are actually really good for you--full of vitamins.)  Put potatoes into a large pot, and cover with water.  Add salt, and bring to a boil.  Cook for approximately 25 to 30 minutes, until potatoes are tender and break when poked with a fork.  Drain, and then place them back in the same pot.  Add butter and milk, and mash til you get the consistency you want.

Green Beans-- so simple you'll laugh at how easy it is.

1 lb green beans
1/4 to 1/2 c water

Snap the ends off the green beans.  Place into a steamer basket inside a pot on the stove.  Add your water, which should be below the level of the basket, and cover with lid.  Bring the water to a boil, creating steam for the beans to cook.  Steam beans for 3-5 minutes.  Not long at all, just til they turn bright green.  You want them to still have their snap/crispness.  Steaming keeps as many nutrients in the beans as possible while giving you optimum flavor.  My favorite way to eat them.  Yum!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Sesame Beef and Bok Choy

Alright, this is one of my husband's recipes, and in truth, I am not sure there is really a science to it at all....stir fry is kind of a free for all.  But I am going to try to put this in a recipe form, as well as I can.  My husband loves to cook Chinese food--it reminds him of his 2 year LDS mission in New Zealand, which was about 6 years ago.  He served the Chinese people in Aukland, and he loves cooking with a wok.  So I let him, naturally.  What wife wouldn't let her husband cook if he wants to?  Especially if he is good at it? No one.  So here is what he made the other night.  As I said before, the measurements are approximate, but you get the idea.

Sesame Beef and Bok Choy

2 pkgs stir fry style sliced beef
1 head of bok choy, chopped
1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
3 cloves garlic, chopped fine
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tsp sesame oil
1/4 c soy sauce
1/2 an onion, sliced
3 carrots, cut into coins
1 small can water chestnuts, drained and sliced
peanut oil, for stir frying
steamed rice, to serve with

In a large wok, pour a couple of tbsp of the peanut oil and heat til it starts to ripple.  Add the beef, and cook, stirring as you go, until cooked through.  Add carrots and onions, and continue to stir while cooking.  Add garlic and ginger and water chestnuts, and then bok choy.  Add soy sauce, sesame oil and sesame seeds last, and cook til the bok choy begins to wilt.  Remove from heat, and serve over rice.

**Note: if you have never used a wok before, you need to take note of a couple of things.

  • First, woks are best used over high, but controlled heat--it's best to use them over a gas stove or outdoor cooker if possible.  Electric heat is too hard to control.  
  • Also, because the heat is high, you need to continue stirring as you cook so your food does not burn.  
  • Always cook meat first to avoid food contamination.  
  • Follow cooking the meat with the harder, or more solid veggies, such as carrots, celery, and onions.  Wok cooking goes fast, so you have to make sure you time everything right so you get everything to the right tenderness.  

Mango Banana Orange Smoothies

This sounds like a simple enough thing to make, and in truth, it really is.  I got some mangoes and oranges in my bountiful basket, and as usual, I have a load of bananas in the freezer since we never seem to use them all up and we get them every time we get a new basket.  So here we are, with the ingredients of a really tasty smoothie, and in need of breakfast in the morning.  Seems to me we should take advantage of the situation.

Mango Banana Orange Smoothies

3 Ataulfo mangoes (that's what I had on hand, but you can use regular mangoes too, if you like)
2 frozen bananas
3 oranges
1 c milk

Peel and dice mangoes. Peel and quarter oranges.  If you didn't remove the peels from the bananas prior to freezing them (which I completely recommend because it makes things easier all around), peel them and break them in half.

Place all ingredients in a blender, and blend until smooth.   Makes 4 servings.

*I realize I had some fresh bananas on the counter, but I decided rather than using ice to make the smoothie cold, I would use frozen bananas, so the whole thing would be fruit and milk and therefore get more nutrition out of it.  You can use fresh bananas, but in that case you may choose to use ice as well to chill the smoothie.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Stuffed Acorn Squash

We had some crazy weather yesterday so we decided to switch the plans on the menu.  So last night I made stuffed acorn squash, and tonight Jeff is cooking on is outdoor wok, a recipe which will be posted tomorrow.  Some of you may remember I posted a stuffed squash recipe a couple years back from Alton Brown's reportoire on Food Network's website (which can be found here).  This time I kind of took inspiration from him but made up my own recipe as I went along.  I am sorry I dont have a picture this time, I forgot to take one last night, and Jeff took the rest of it to work today for lunch.  I will work on finding a picture for you, or you can look at the one Alton has with his, by clicking on the link provided.

If you are doing this from the Bountiful Basket we got over the weekend, this recipe will use both your acorn squash and your spinach.

Stuffed Acorn Squash

1-4 acorn squashes, depending on size.  Ours was big this time, so I just did one.
1 c cooked rice
1 c pork sausage
2 c chopped spinach (if fresh.  if frozen, only 1 cup) rinsed and shaken dry (or squeezed dry if frozen)
4 oz sliced white button mushrooms
1 tbsp butter (you may need 2 or 3 if you are making multiple squashes)
Optional ingredients: parmesan cheese (about 1/4 cup), toasted pine nuts (about 1/4 cup)

Cut the tops off your acorn squash(s), and scoop out the seeds.  Cut just a little bit off the bottom, just so the squash sits flat on the bottom of your baking dish (only about 1/4 in or less).  Set aside.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a skillet, brown and crumble your sausage.    When sausage is fully cooked, add your mushrooms and cook til they are slightly browned and cooked all the way through.  Add the rice next, stirring til combined well, and then add the spinach, which will probably seem like it's way too big for the pan. Don't worry, it will wilt into everything and shrink quite a bit.  After the spinach has wilted, add your optional ingredients if you choose.

Put half the butter in the bottom of the squash and then fill the cavity with the stuffing, then place the other half of the butter on top, and then top with the top of the squash.  Place in preheated oven and bake for 1 hour.  If you have extra stuffing, you may also bake that for about 15 minutes just before you are ready to take out the squash.

You will know when its done by sticking a fork in it.  It should be soft, but not mushy.  Quarter the squash, and then serve hot.  No need for veggies or meat because its all included.  Enjoy!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Bountiful Baskets: Let's Try this again...

I admit it.  I fell off the wagon with my Bountiful Baskets weekly menu project.  I have been ordering baskets this whole time, but the blogging part has kind of fallen behind.  I am recommitting myself to do better and to make sure I use everything we get.  My husband and I sat down today and decided what we are going to have for dinner each night this week, and planned most of it around what we got in our basket today, so here we go again: I am starting over from scratch and sharing my menu and then recipes of the things I make from what I got in the basket.  I will be probably spreading out the recipes over 2 weeks, but I promise I will be giving you all ideas of how to use up the different things you got.

But before we go there, I must first tell you what was in this magical basket this week.  We got a lot of stuff this time around!  Here is what we got:

1 pineapple
3 ataulfo mangoes
6 beefsteak tomatoes
6 oranges
6 apples
1 acorn squash
4 large turnips
1 bunch of spinach
1 yellow squash
1 bag of green beans
1 bag of baby yukon gold potatoes

PLUS the add-ons which were

5 loaves of sourdough bread ($10.00 extra)

and the Asian Pack ($7.50 extra) which consisted of:
1 head bok choy
1 head napa cabbage
1 bag of snow peas
2 heads of garlic
and 1 bunch of scallions/green onions

Here is the plan for the week so far:

Today: Pizza made from tomatoes and basil and some fresh mozzarella cheese we bought today
Tomorrow, we're eating at my mom's house.
Monday: Chinese Sesame Beef with Bok Choy and rice
Tuesday: Stuffed Acorn Squash
Wednesday: Baked Salmon with Green Beans and Mashed Potatoes
Thursday: either leftovers or Tacos
Friday: Crock Pot Chicken Curry and Rice

Follow along with me in the next week to find recipes you can use to use up that basket.  I'll probably be using the turnips next week, and I will also include a recipe for a couple of desserts and probably a recipe for a mango and orange smoothie, so I can use that too.

Hope you'll join the fun!

Sausage Cheddar and Spinach Quiche

So my husband likes quiche and he was asking for it last month.  We had some spinach that I had gotten in our Bountiful Basket that needed to be used, as well as some red bell peppers.  I had some country sausage in the freezer, so I decided I would see what I could do with the combination.  Here is what I came up with:

Sausage Cheddar and Spinach Quiche

1/2 recipe pie crust, recipe found here
1 lb regular country sausage, or lean country sausage
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 bunch spinach, washed and chopped
1 c sharp cheddar cheese
6 eggs, separated
1 c milk

Roll out pie crust and place in pie dish, and crimp edges.  Set aside.

Brown sausage and crumble into small pieces.  Add bell peppers and cook til tender, and then add your spinach and cook til wilted into the peppers and sausage.  Set aside.

Whip egg whites with hand mixer or in a stand mixer til you get stiff peaks.  Mix egg yolks, milk, and cheese in a small bowl.  Add whipped egg whites, and then your sausage mixture, and combine til well mixed.  Pour this into your prepared pie pan, and bake for 35 minutes at 375 degrees.  Serve hot.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Fresh Strawberry Kiwi Pie

This was a recipe requested by my husband for Valentines Day, and since I got some strawberries in my Bountiful Basket that weekend, I figured why not?  It's a bit late in posting, but it turned out well, and I think you might all enjoy it.  I must warn you though, this is not a diabetic friendly recipe: the glaze for the pie alone is 35 grams of carbohydrates, and its pretty much all sugar.  But trust me, one little slice will be worth it.

Fresh Strawberry Kiwi Pie

1/2 recipe double crust pie crust, recipe found here (you only need one crust, so I would suggest either making two different pies, or maybe a quiche with the second crust)
1-1lb container fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
4-5 kiwis, peeled and sliced
1 box strawberry flavored Danish Dessert
1 pint or 1 can of heavy whipping cream
2 tbsp powdered sugar (if not using already sweetened canned whipped cream)

Cook Danish Dessert according to pkg directions.  Set aside to cool.  Roll out your pie crust and place in pie dish, and crimp edges.  Prick the bottom of the pie crust with a fork a few times, and then bake in a 400 degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes.  Let cool.  Mix strawberries and kiwi slices into danish dessert until everything is combined well and all fruit is coated.  Pour this mixture into the prepared pie dish and then chill for at least an hour before serving.  When ready to serve, whip the heavy cream with the powdered sugar until you get stiff peaks.  Cover pie with whipping cream, or dollop some of the cream on each slice.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Cranberry Applesauce Muffins

So I was looking for a good recipe to make treats for book club tonight, and I realized I also needed to use up the applesauce I made awhile ago.  It was cranberry applesauce, so I figured I would go with a cran apple muffin recipe.  I found a recipe on and tweaked it to my liking to fit the ingredients I wanted to use and what I had, and here is the recipe I came up with.  The recipe makes 12 muffins, but I decided to double it and get more use out of my applesauce and maybe have something for my husband to eat before running off to work in the morning, too.

Cranberry Applesauce Muffins

1 c cranberry applesauce, recipe here
1/3 c vegetable oil
1 egg
2 c all purpose flour
1/2 c sugar (or half and half splenda/sugar)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 c milk
1 c craisins, or other dried cranberries

Blend applesauce, oil, and egg together and set aside.  In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and cinnamon.  Mix lightly with a fork to incorporate some air.  Add the dry mixture to the wet, and mix til combined.  Add milk, and then mix again til combined, and then fold in the dried cranberries.  Spoon into a greased muffin pan, til each cup is 2/3 full.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.


This is probably the easiest, most self explanatory recipe ever, and I am sure most of you have done it before.  Even better, its also very versatile.  You can change it to your liking to whatever flavors you like, and it's still done in only 20 minutes!  Sometimes I just use apples and water, sometimes I add cinnamon, sometimes I add brown sugar, and sometimes I even use apple juice as the liquid to get it going.  This is the basic recipe, and then I will give a few variations of my liking.

Apple Sauce

6-8 apples of your choosing, peeled, cored and sliced
1 c water

In a large pot, combine apples and water.  Over medium high heat, bring to a simmer.  Continue to simmer til apples are soft and water and juices are comined as one.  Blend in your blender or food processor til smooth. Store in an airtight container for up to 4 weeks, or freeze for up to 1 year.

Variations I like:

Cran Apple Sauce

6-8 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1 pkg frozen cranberries
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 c water or apple juice

Same process as before--Bring to a simmer, cook until apples and cranberries are softened (usually the berries will burst), and then blend til smooth in your blender.  It's a bit more tart, but really tasty.  Storage time is the same as regular applesauce.

Apple Pear Sauce

6 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
2-3 pears, peeled, cored and sliced
1 c water or apple juice

Same process, again.  This is sweeter, and has a slightly grainier texture because of the pears, but also very good.

**Note about apples:  you can use any kind of apple you like, depending on what sweetness or tartness level you prefer.  I find that the softer apples work well for applesauce because you don't have to worry about them going mushy--they're supposed to be that way.  So I would recommend golden delicious, red delicious, macintosh, or any other softer variety.  If you still like tarter apples, then you can go for granny smith, jonathans, or any other tart apple.  It really depends on your taste.