Monday, September 27, 2010

Penne Pasta with Bacon, Spinach, and Tomatoes!

I had a bag of penne pasta in my pantry and didn't know what to do with it. I googled penne recipes and found this fantastic one that was fast and didn't have a ton of ingredients. It also had really positive ratings on the website where I found it. Ratings and comments on cooking websites are my new favorite thing. It is nice to see that 50 people have tried it and loved it. There are always those people who give the recipe 5 stars and then proceed to explain all the ways they changed it to make it taste better. How can you give a recipe 5 stars and then say you changed half the ingredients? Anyway, most of the people who commented for this recipe changed little to nothing, and in my book that is when you know a recipe is good.


  • 1 (12 ounce) package penne pasta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 6 slices bacon, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic - I only used 1 teaspoon of minced garlic. 2 tbsp sounded like a little too much.
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 bunch fresh spinach, rinsed and torn into bite-size pieces


  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the penne pasta, and cook until tender, 8 to 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Place bacon in the skillet, and cook until browned and crisp. Add garlic, and cook for about 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes, and cook until heated through.
  3. Place the spinach into a colander, and drain the hot pasta over it so it is wilted. Transfer to a large serving bowl, and toss with the remaining olive oil, and the bacon and tomato mixture.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Tomato-Basil Chicken

I love breaded chicken recipes and this one is one of the best I have tried. The wheat thins give the chicken a lot of flavor, and the best part is that you have crackers left over to munch on.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup plain yogurt
5 ounces tomato-basil wheat thins, about half a box
1/4 cup Parmesan, grated
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon Parsley, flakes
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup milk

Pour yogurt into a small dish. Crush crackers into fine crumbs. In a separate dish, blend cracker crumbs with Parmesan cheese and seasonings. Dip chicken breast halves into yogurt, coating both sides. Roll in crumbs until well coated. Place in greased baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about one hour. For sauce, combine soup and milk in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until hot. Serve over chicken.

* Sorry there is no picture. I need to start taking some. I have tried before but they never look that great. Most of the time I just find ones that look similar or use the one from the website I found the recipe. In that case I will always post the link to the original recipe. Really, I should just start taking me own. That would mean we need a new camera...

Bangers and Mash

Bangers and mash are what the British and Irish call a dinner of sausage and potatoes. I made this recipe back in March for St. Patrick's Day as a effort to be festive, but never posted about it. Since then we have had it three or four times. We found some real English bangers at Whole Foods, but since then have been using just regular bratwurst and the taste is still amazing. It may sound a little strange but it tastes really good!

  • 2 Tablespoons Vegetable Or Canola Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 6 whole Bangers Sausage or Bratwurst if you can't find Bangers
  • 1 cup Diced Onion, About 1/2 Large
  • ¼ cups Beef Broth to de-glaze pan
  • 1 Tablespoon Flour
  • 2 cups Beef Broth
  • ½ Tablespoons Dijon Mustard
In a skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil and butter until butter is melted. Brown your Bangers until they are crispy on all sides. Add chopped onion and allow it to cook with the sausage until soft and slightly browned. Take out Bangers for just a bit and put them on a plate. Add 1/4 cup beef broth to de-glaze the pan. Next, sprinkle flour over the onions in your pan and stir to coat. Cook just until lightly browned. Add beef broth and Dijon mustard and stir to combine. Put Bangers back in pan. Lower heat to medium-low. Cover pan and allow to simmer for 15 minutes. If you need to thicken your sauce a little more, simply add a tablespoon of cornstarch to 1/4 cup cold water and whisk this mixture into your sauce. Salt and pepper to taste.
Serve your Bangers on pile of hot mash potatoes. Pour gravy over the top and dig in!

The original recipe called for a couple different ingredients that make it truly authentic Bangers and Mash. Here is a link in case you want to check that out.

Murphy's Hot Hamburger

I found this recipe over at Tasty Kitchen and it is AMAZING. It is a definite man pleasing meat-and-potatoes recipe. It takes a little effort but sometimes good comfort food is worth the work. I like to add some caramelized onions on top for extra goodness.

  • 1 pound Ground Beef
  • 1 Tablespoon Minced Garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon Onion Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Seasoned Salt
  • 5 Tablespoons Flour
  • 2 cans (14 Oz. Can) Beef Broth OR 4 Cups Water With Beef Bouillon
  • 5 whole Large Potatoes
  • 1 Tablespoon Oil, Or As Needed
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Slice potatoes into fries. Place on a large baking sheet. Pour about 1 tablespoon of oil over the fries and toss with fingers to coat evenly. Sprinkle fries with seasoning of choice. I use seasoned salt. Place in the oven. Bake for approximately 45 minutes or until golden and crispy.

In a mixing bowl, mix hamburger, garlic, seasoned salt, onion powder and salt and pepper. Mix well with hands. Form 4 large patties. Place in a large preheated skillet over medium heat, preferably one with deep sides. Brown burgers on each side until done.

Remove burgers from the skillet and place on a plate covered in paper towels. Do not drain the grease. Add the flour a tablespoon at a time, stirring with a whisk. You have enough when the grease is all absorbed and the flour mixture gets thick and bubbly. Slowly add the broth a little at a time, whisking constantly. Bring to a simmer and allow to thicken.

To serve, place an ample amount of fries on the plate. Place a hamburger on top of the fries and cover it all amply in gravy. Enjoy!

Cuban Steak Marinade

I used this marinade this other day and it was easy and pretty tasty. We had the steak with the Cuban red beans and rice on the side. It was a fun and exotic meal for our normally conservative table. I really loved the freshness of the lime with a little kick from the cumin.

1/4 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons McCormick Grill Mates Montreal Steak Seasoning
1 1/2 teaspoons Oregano leaves
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 pounds steak, trimmed of visible fat

Mix all ingredients, except steak, in a large, self-closing plastic bag or glass bowl. Add steak, turning to coat well. Marinate in refrigerator for 30 minutes, or longer for extra flavor. Remove steak from marinade and grill.

Thumbprint-Jelly Center Cookies

These cookies are pretty versatile. You can roll them and twist them like pretzels, make sandwich cookies, or you can put drops in the center, which was my favorite. Here are the instructions for the thumbprint-jam center variation. You can find the other instructions at Everyday Food- my new favorite place to find easy and tasty recipes.
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar, and salt until light and fluffy. Add yolks, one at a time, scraping the bowl after each addition. Add vanilla. With mixer on low, add flour; mix just until combined. Wrap in plastic; chill until firm, about 1 hour. To make ahead: Refrigerate up to 2 weeks, or freeze up to 3 months.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On parchment-lined baking sheets, drop all-in-one cookie dough by heaping tablespoons, 1 inch apart.

Next, use a 1/4-teaspoon measure to gently press a hollow in the center of each dough mound. Fill each hollow with 1/2 teaspoon jam or jelly, a chocolate chunk, or a nut half (makes about 28). After forming cookies, bake until pale golden, 13 to 15 minutes, rotating baking sheets halfway through.

Cuban Red Beans and Rice

This was my first time making fancy rice from scratch. I normally buy the packaged rice at the store thinking it would be too hard to try on my own. This was easy and so flavorful and I am excited to try other rice dishes. Here are the directions from the Everyday Food website where I found it:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 white onion, diced small (1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 green bell pepper, diced small (1/2 cup)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves
  • 1 cup long-grain white rice
  • 1 can (15.5 ounces) red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium-high. Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic and cook until onion is soft, 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add cumin, oregano, and rice; stir, and cook 1 minute. Add beans and broth; stir, then season with salt and pepper. Bring mixture to a boil, then cover. Reduce to a medium simmer and cook until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, 15 to 20 minutes.