Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Spinach & Butternut Squash Pasta Bake

So this recipe is really just an idea I came up with after looking at this spinach mac & cheese and this butternut squash pasta (that I love love LOVE). I decided to start with a basic creamed spinach recipe that I modified from Pioneer Woman and added roasted butternut squash to come up with this pasta.

I pretty much couldn't stop eating it and I hope you like it as much as I did!!

Spinach & Butternut Squash Pasta Bake


2 (10 oz) pkg frozen spinach (you can use 24 oz of fresh but that is much more expensive)
1 medium butternut squash, cubed
2T olive oil
1 stick butter
8oz flour
10oz pasta
2c+ milk
3 cloves garlic
1/4c mozzarella
1/4c parmesan
salt, pepper & nutmeg to taste


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place cubed butternut squash on a baking pan and toss with olive oil, salt, pepper & nutmeg. Bake for 20 mins, toss, then bake for 20 more mins.

Thaw and squeeze water out of spinach. Set aside. Boil water and get pasta going. Melt stick of butter in pot and sprinkle in flour. Whisk together and heat for 5 mins or until golden brown. Saute garlic until fragrant, then add milk, whisking constantly, and cook until thickened (about 5 mins). Mash butternut squash and add to pot, then add spinach. Stir together and taste, adding salt and nutmeg as needed.

After this is seasoned to your liking add drained pasta and transfer to baking dish. Grate fresh mozzarella & parmesan on top and bake for 25-30 mins. Enjoy!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Hearty Chicken Soup with Dumplings

This soup is really wonderful for cold weather. The dumplings are just a little cheesy and soup that surrounds them is heavy on vegetables and delicious. Also the soup itself freezes really well but take out the dumplings because they will disintegrate if frozen then thawed.



For the soup:
1 bag frozen peas
2T oil
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts (cubed)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 leeks, well-washed, trimmed and sliced (I didn't add because my husband won't eat them but I would like them in there)
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 small bag baby carrots
2 medium zucchinis, chopped
8c chicken stock
1 small can tomato paste
1/3c chopped fresh parsley
1T fresh thyme
salt and pepper to taste

For the dumplings:
1/4c cornmeal
3/4c all-purpose flour
1 1/2t baking powder
1/4t salt
1/2c grated parmesan
4T cold butter, grated
1/2 c water


Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add chicken in batches, making sure to leave room between pieces so they can brown and not steam. Remove chicken and set aside. Add the leeks, garlic, celery, carrots and zucchini, cook, stirring, until leeks are soft. Add chicken stock and tomato paste, bring to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes then return the chicken to the pan with the peas.

For the Dumplings:
Combine dry ingredients in a bowl, stir in cheese and butter and mix well. Add enough of the water to form a soft dough. Drop level tablespoons of dumpling mixture into the simmering soup, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the dumplings are cooked through. Stir in herbs, season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Adapted from

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Italian Sandwich Bread

My husband and I really enjoyed this bread. I made it to go along with the How Sweet Eat's Mozzarella stuffed meatballs for the Cowboys game last week and, while the game didn't go well, I thought the meal was excellent. We also used the bread for the rest of the week for sandwiches and toast.

Originally from Good Thymes and Good Food.

Italian Sandwich Bread

2c warm water, about 110-115º, divided
2 1/4t active dry yeast
5-5 3/4c bread flour
2T light brown sugar
2 1/4t salt
1 egg white, lightly beaten


In a glass measuring cup, stir the yeast in with 1/2c of the warm water. Let stand for about 5 mins, until foamy.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine 5c flour, sugar and the salt. mix on a low speed to combine. Once mixed, add the yeast mixture, remaining water and EVOO. Switch to the dough hook attachment and mix on low speed until dough starts to come together, about 7 mins.
Transfer dough to lightly floured surface and knead by hand for 1-2 mins, or until the dough is smooth, firm and elastic. (Dough should not be loose).
Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl and spray the dough with a thin coating of cooking spray. Wrap the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside to proof in a warm, draft-free place for 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 425º and place a piece of parchment on a baking stone and place baking stone in oven to preheat. (Optional-bread can be baked on a baking sheet).
Remove the plastic wrap from the top of the risen dough and punch down. Flatten the rounded dough with the heel of your hand into a large rectangle. Roll the dough up tightly, sealing the seam well after each roll. The dough should be an oval shape with rounded ends. Be sure to seal the ends, as well, by pinching the dough together.
Place the dough on a floured and inverted baking sheet (if not using a baking stone, place the dough on the normal side of the baking sheet). Cover with a clean kitchen towel and allow the dough to rest for 30 mins, or until doubled in size.
Brush the dough with the egg white and using sharp knife, create a 1/4" deep slice down the middle of the dough.
Place a cake pan (or other shallow pan) filled halfway with water on the bottom rack of the oven. Carefully slide dough from the inverted baking sheet to the preheated baking stone (or leave on the baking sheet if not using a stone). Bake for 30-40 mins, or until a hollow thud is heard when tapping the bottom of the bread. Allow to cool before slicing.

*Makes one large loaf.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Homemade Croissants-Not for the faint of heart!

Croissants... They will make you happy to be alive.

Last week I had a craving for croissants. I never really knew what they entailed but, now that I do, I'm not sure I will be making them again for awhile.

That said they were WONDERFUL. I mean really fill your mouth with buttery goodness and make your heart smile good. Also, while I had to be at home most of the day to do the four different folds they really weren't all that difficult. Just time consuming. And COMPLETELY worth it.

I could copy all the directions but, since Jessica already went to all that trouble, I'm just going to link to her extremely helpful step by step directions.


Monday, September 19, 2011

No-Bake Cookies

I LOVE no-bake cookies. Peanut butter, chocolate, crunch and deliciousness. I'm sold. Also, they're so easy I could have them on hand at all times if I wanted to (although, let's be honest, my pants wouldn't fit for long if I did that).

No-bake cookies from One Lovely Life
2T butter
1/2c milk
2c sugar
2T cocoa
3/4c crunchy peanut butter
2c old-fashioned oatmeal
1/2t salt
1t vanilla
1/2c coconut (optional)

Melt butter in a medium saucepan. Stir in cocoa, milk & sugar. Stir to melt ingredients together. Bring to a boil that extends over the whole surface of the mixture and remove from heat as soon as the boil gets there (otherwise the mixture will dry out).

Stir in vanilla, salt, peanut butter, coconut (if using) and oatmeal until well mixed. Stir until mixture has thickened then drop spoonfuls onto wax paper and wait until they cool (or, if you can't wait, dig in when they're cool enough to touch).

Makes about 2 dozen

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Buttercream Frosting

These are WONDERFUL. Seriously, if you love cinnamon, you will be a happy camper. Also I'm thinking about making them in a donut pan and rolling them in butter and cinnamon sugar next time. Either with frosting or without they are wonderful!

The original recipe was for a cake but, since I was making these for tailgating, I didn't really want to lug a cake around the Grove (the Grove is where Ole Miss Rebels tailgate, see here).

The only caveat about this recipe is that the frosting is really  sweet. Like going to give you a small child like sugar high sweet. So be prepared, make a cup of coffee to go along with it and enjoy!

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Buttercream Frosting

(recipe from Foodie with Family)
makes 24 cupcakes


For the cake:

1 1/2c all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 T ground cinnamon
2 sticks butter, softened to room temperature
1 3/4 c fine or superfine sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 T vanilla extract
1 1/4 c. whole milk, warmed to room temperature

For the buttercream: 

1/2c light brown sugar, packed
2 1/4 sticks butter, softened to room temperature
1 t ground cinnamon
3-4 c confectioner's (powdered) sugar
1/2 t vanilla extract
1/4 c of half and half, plus more if needed


To bake the cake:
Preheat the oven to 325. Butter and flour cupcake pans or use cupcake skirts. In a large bowl whisk together flours, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Set aside. 
Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy and pale in color. Beat the eggs in one at a time, fully incorporating each egg and scraping down the bowl between each. Add about 1/3 of the milk, beat to incorporate, then 1/3 of the flour, again beating to incorporate. Repeat until all flour/milk is added.
Divide into cupcake pans and bake for 20-25 mins.

To make the buttercream:
Beat together the butter, brown sugar and cinnamon until fluffy and pale in color. Add 3c of powdered sugar and the vanilla extract and beat, starting on low and moving up to high, until it is fully incorporated. Scrape down the bowl and add the half and half. Beat to incorporate again. Add another 2c of the confectioner's sugar and beat, starting on low and moving up to high, until fully incorporated. Check the consistency of the buttercream. If it needs to be thicker, add the remaining confectioner's sugar. If it is too thick, add more half and half a teaspoon at a time, beating after each addition, until it reaches the consistency you like. Then frost cupcakes, sprinkle with more cinnamon and sit down to a cinnamon-inspired bliss :D

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Orecchiette with Chorizo, Roasted Eggplant and Roasted Tomatoes

Where I live we are still a good month (or two) away from Fall. While this has its drawbacks I do love that tomatoes are still local and in season!

This recipe was entirely inspired by a visit to my local farmer's market. I saw the golden tomatoes, fresh eggplant and chorizo from a farm down the road and knew I had to do something to enjoy these last flavors of summer.

I just roasted my vegetables, cooked my chorizo and pasta and combined everything. It's a great way to enjoy something spicy and a little sweet (from the golden tomatoes) all at the same time. If you choose not to add the chorizo/parmesan it would be a great vegan dish.

Orrchiette with Chorizo, Roasted Eggplant and Roasted Tomatoes

Serves 4-6


2 small or 1 large eggplant cut into cubes
2 roma tomatoes, quartered
1 large golden or other heirloom tomato cut into 1/8s
1 can Hunt's fire-roasted tomatoes, drained (they don't have to be fire-roasted but I really like these)
1 lb chorizo sausage or italian if you prefer something milder
1 small can tomato sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
3-4T olive oil
1 lb orecchiette pasta

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss tomatoes and eggplants in 2T olive oil then spread on a baking sheet with vegetables not touching. Place baking sheet in oven for 10 mins, then toss vegetables and place sheet in oven for another 10-15 mins.

Boil water and cook pasta according to package directions.

While vegetables are cooking take chorizo out of casings and cook in high sided saute pan over medium heat until done through. Take cooked chorizo out of pan and set on a plate covered in paper towels (this way it's not too greasy). Wipe out the pan then place the remaining 1T of olive oil in the pan. Heat to medium heat then saute garlic for about 30 seconds. Add canned tomatoes and sauce and simmer for 5 mins.

After vegetables are finished roasting add them, along with chorizo, to the tomato sauce. Toss to coat and let flavors marry while sauce simmers another 4-5 mins. Then place pasta in bowls and generously apply sauce. Serve garnished with a sprinkle of parmesan, if desired. Enjoy!