Thursday, March 11, 2010

Stuffed! Literally.

The Mr. and I have a busy week and a half before we head on vacation (small happy dance inserted here). So, on Sunday we decided to make a few meals that will see us through until our departure.
One of my favorite go-to's is baked pasta. But I hate feeling like I am chowing down on so many carbs just days before slipping into a bikini!
I found this recipe from one of my favorite chefs, Giada De Laurentis. If she can eat pasta all the time and stay teeny tiny, there is hope for the rest of us! I made a few adaptations to make this mixture even more healthy.

Turkey and Artichoke Stuffed Shells (adapted from Everyday Italian):


-1 12oz. Box Jumbo Pasta Shells

-1/2 Yellow Onion, chopped

-3 Cloves Garlic, chopped

-1 lb. Ground Turkey meat

-1 package Frozen Artichokes, coarsely chopped (I used canned, medium artichokes)

-1 15oz. container Ricotta cheese (I used low fat Cottage cheese)

-3/4 c. grated Parmesan (I used low fat shredded Italian cheese blend)

-2 Eggs, lightly beaten

-1/4 c. Fresh Basil, chopped

-2 Tbsp. Fresh Italian Parsley, chopped (I omitted)


Bring large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until slightly tender, but still very firm (about 5 minutes). Drain pasta and set aside to cool.

In a large skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic, cook for about 3 minutes, occasionally stirring. Add the ground turkey to the skillet, and season with salt and pepper. Cook until meat is slightly golden and cooked through. Add artichokes, stir to incorporate. Remove from heat and let mixture cool.

In a large bowl, combine turkey mixture with Ricotta (or Cottage cheese), Parmesan, eggs, basil, parsley and salt and pepper. Stir to combine all ingredients.

Cover the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish with your favorite pasta sauce. I used Giada's Arrabbiata sauce, minus the pancetta. Take a shell in palm of your hand, spoon turkey mixture inside of shell (will equal about 2 Tbsp.). Place stuffed shell along edge of baking dish, stuffing side up. Continue stuffing until baking dish is full. We were able to fill two baking dishes. Drizzle remaining pasta sauce over shells and top with shredded Italian cheese.

Bake in 400 degree oven until shells are warmed through and cheese is melted, about 20-25 minutes. Enjoy!

Cheers! MM

Mad for Muffins

I love the ease of grabbing something quick for breakfast in the mornings. Something portable, something you can eat on the go and not have to thin too much about it.

That is where my love of muffins fits in to the equation. Since the Mr. and I are always looking for ways to eat healthier, I wanted to make up a batch using some brand new whole wheat flour my parents bought in the Amish country.

I found three different variations of Apple Spice muffins... a little from this one, a pinch from that one, and we have....

Spiced Applesauce Muffins:

-3/4 c. Whole Wheat flour
-3/4 c. All Purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
-1 tsp. Cinnamon
-1/2 tsp. Nutmeg
-1/4 tsp. Allspice
-Pinch of salt
-3/4 c. Packed Brown sugar
-2 eggs
-4 Tbsp. butter, melted (I used Country Crock sticks)
-1/3 c. Vanilla yogurt
-1 c. Cinnamon applesauce (or whatever kind you have on hand)

-Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
-Prepare muffin tin with cooking spray or cupcake liners.
-Mix together dry ingredients, except sugar, in medium bowl.
-Whisk eggs, brown sugar and yogurt in separate bowl.
-Slowly stir in melted butter (cooled) until mixture is creamy, then add applesauce.
-Slowly add dry ingredient mixture to wet. Fold until just moistened.
-pour batter into muffin tins, about 2/3 full.

-3 Tbsp. Brown sugar
-1 tsp. Cinnamon

-Mix together and sprinkle topping over uncooked muffins.
-Bake for 20-22 minutes. Tops of muffins should be golden ans toothpick inserted to top should come out clean.
-Transfer to wire rack and allow to cool completely.


Monday, March 8, 2010

Catching Up... Fondue, Valentines and the Furbaby!

So, once again I broke my promise and did not upkeep this little blog... my bad. It's been a busy few weeks and the cold weather makes me want to hibernate whenever possible. Now that I have seen the sun and the temperatures cleared the 50 degree mark, it is time to catch you all up!
The most amazing fondue... ever.
The Mr. and I received a fab fondue set as a wedding present. Almost a year ago. And never used it. I know, I know... why did we even register for it. Well, now I know! This recipe. We wanted to do something different and special for our first married valentine's Day. I scoured the Internet for a decent broth fondue recipe and stumbled upon RecipeZaar. The Mr. picked up some scallops and shrimp from our favorite seafood shop and I grabbed a New York Strip, some portabella mushrooms and a beautiful yellow pepper.
The result? Fabulousness!

-2 Bay Leaves
-2 Garlic Cloves, minced
-2 cans, Swansons Beef Broth
-1/2 bottle White Wine (I used a bit more... like 3/4 the bottle)
-2 c. Water
-1 packet French Onion Soup Mix
-1/2 bottle Cocktail Sauce

-Turn fondue pot on medium heat.
-Saute the garlic in 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil until fragrant (about 1 minute)
-Add remaining ingredients and turn fondue pot on high.
-Bring mixture to a rolling boil then reduce heat. Let broth simmer about 1 hour.
-When you are ready to eat, return heat to high and enjoy!

**Each fondue manufacturer provides their own cooking guidelines. Make sure you follow the correct temperature and cooking time as stated to avoid eating undercooked food.

I also made the Mr's favorite dessert: Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese frosting. I searched high and low for the BEST recipe and found Bridget's Red Velvet Cake Comparison. I followed her advice and chose this recipe, originally from Apple a Day. They were very tasty; moist, beautifully red, and full of flavor. Try them for your sweetheart!

-2 1/2 c. Cake Flour (you must use cake flour, not all-purpose)
-1 1/2 c. sugar
-1 tsp. Baking Soda
-1 Tbsp. Cocoa Powder
-1 tsp. Salt
-2 Eggs
-1 1/2 c. Vegetable Oil
-1 c. Buttermilk (I used 1% because the Mr. prefers it)
-2 Tbsp. Red Food Coloring (If you are creeped out by the thought of so much red dye, feel free to scale back)
-1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
-1 tsp. White Distilled Vinegar

The Process:
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees
-Prepare muffin tins with cooking spray or use silicone baking cups.
-Sift together flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa and salt into medium bowl.
-Beat together eggs, vegetable oil, milk, food coloring, vanilla and vinegar with electric mixer.
-Add dry ingredients to wet and beat until smooth.
-Pour batter into cupcake tin or cups, 2/3 full.
-Bake about 15 minutes and then check if cupcakes are done by inserting a toothpick into the center of cake. If it comes out clean, the cakes are finished... if not, bake additional 2 minutes, then try toothpick again.
-Let cupcakes cool 5 minutes, then invert onto wire baking rack. Let cupcakes cool completely.

For the frosting, I used this recipe and her method of cutting a cone out of the top of the cupcakes and piping in the icing. They were so tasty I forgot to take a picture! So i will leave you with a pic of the Mr. and our furbaby, Sophie. Guess it was a good meal!