Friday, March 30, 2012

Stuffed Pasta Shells

268. Italian food is lovely! Always satisfying and delicious. While shopping the other day, I found a pack of specialty pasta shells made with semolina, beet and spinach pastas. My mind went immediately to the delightful meal of stuffed pasta shells.
My recipe is similar to many family recipes, and each is as different as the family it comes from. So I picked up a large 16 oz container of ricotta cheese, a pound of mozzarella, grated parmesan cheese, sauce and ground meat. After a pot of sauce was made with meatballs, I began to prepare my filling for the shells...and slightly boiled the pasta shells and rinsed and set them aside to cool.
I mix the entire container of ricotta cheese, 1 egg, 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, parsley and a couple shakes of garlic salt.
I covered the bottom of a baking dish with sauce. Then I set up an assembly line. One scoop, about 2 Tablespoons, into each pasta shell is adequate.
Continue to fill the entire bottom. Drizzle more sauce over the shells and finish using all the filling in the remaining shells. Then cover with the remaining shredded mozzarella cheese and cover with tin foil.
Bake 350 degrees for about 40 minutes. Then remove the tin foil and continue to bake till the cheese is beginning to brown.
Serve the shells hot, with meatballs, sausage, bread and salad.
Sooooo gooood!

"Give us this day our daily taste. Restore to us soups that spoons will not sink in and sauces which are never the same twice. Raise up among us stews with more gravy than we have bread to blot it with. Give us pasta with a hundred fillings."
~Robert Farrar Capon

Monday, March 26, 2012

Dutch Baby

267. Recently, while watching a show on local deli's, a recipe was shared for a Dutch Baby, or a German Pancake. It looked so delicious! Here is my version.
Dutch Baby German Pancake

1 large apple, peeled, cored and sliced thin
3 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 Tablespoons butter

Mix apples with sugar and cinnamon. Melt butter in a frying pan and add apples to pan.
Allow apples to saute and soften, stirring often.
Pancake batter:

3 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup flour
1/8 teaspoon vanilla
Confectioner Sugar for dusting

Mix eggs till frothy, add milk and blend well. Mix in flour, salt and vanilla and whisk till blended.
Pour over the apples in the pan gently.
Allow the pancake to cook over medium heat. When you see the pancake sides forming and rising up along outer edge of pan, remove from heat and place under broiler till pancake is set.
You can top with additional fried apples and sprinkle confectioner sugar over all.
This is a memorable pancake, more like a dessert!

"Cooking is Love made visible."

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Bow Tie Pasta with Shrimp and Asparagus

266. One of the easiest and delicious pasta dishes is my Pasta with Shrimp and Asparagus.
It's cheesy and creamy and everyone loves it.
I grate about a cup of Parmesan Cheese.
I bring a pot of water to a boil and add a pound of pasta. While the pasta is boiling, clean about 3 cups of shrimp and remove the shell, tails and vein. Set aside.
Next, I clean and cut a large bunch of fresh asparagus. Melt 2 Tablespoons of butter into a pan and add the asparagus. Salt lightly and saute till tender on medium heat.
When the pasta is just about done, I throw in my clean shrimp. They only take about 3 minutes to cook.
When the shrimp is pink and cooked, drain the pasta/shrimp.
Once the pasta/shrimp is fully drained, pour it back into the pot.
To the pot add 1/4 cup butter, 1 cup of heavy cream, salt and pepper, and 1 cup of grated parm cheese. Stir over medium heat till butter is melted and sauce thickens.
Plate the pasta and top with tender asparagus and a pinch of parm cheese.
It's the easy way to make alfredo sauce.

"Keep bees and grow asparagus, watch the tides and listen to the wind instead of the politicians..."
~Miriam Waddington

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Spring at Terrain

265. What can be more beautiful than pots of flowers bursting with color? Or, fuzzy pussy willows trimmed and bunched together in a pot or bucket.
Terrain at Styers in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania is a must visit. We stopped in to see what is new for spring.
Pussy Willow Wreaths...
Potted containers of magenta colored Heather...
Mini floral arrangements in egg shells for a personal place setting...
Delightful chocolate bars and salted caramels for your Easter baskets...
Yummy bunny and flower cookies for your sweet tooth...
And fabulous spring bulb flowers blooming every where you turned.

Have you visited Terrain yet? What are you waiting for?

"Flowers... are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty outvalues all the utilities of the world. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1844"

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Almond Joy Bars

264. Who doesn't love an Almond Joy Bar? Soft, sweet coconut with dark chocolate and a crunch of almond. One bite and palm trees start popping up all around.
I found this recipe on Pinterest and I just had to make it immediately! "Just a Pinch Blog's" Almond Joy Bars Recipe. The ingredients are basic, as well as the process but the flavor is over the top! The only item I realized, after they were done, was...there were no almonds in the recipe!! I plan to make another batch for a bake sale this weekend and will, most defiantly add the toasted almonds.

Almond Joy Bars

10 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temp
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
28 oz sweetened condensed milk
28 oz shredded coconut
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 cups bittersweet chocolate baking chunks
1 cup whole toasted almonds

Preheat oven to 350. Line with parchment paper a 9" x 13" sided baking pan.

Cream together butter and brown sugar for 3 minutes. Add flour and salt. Carefully mix till crumbly as bread crumbs. Transfer into lined baking pan and evenly press the crumbs into an even layer. Bake for 8 minutes. Cool while you prepare the coconut topping.

Combine the condensed milk, coconut and vanilla. Spread over the crust evenly. Return to oven for 18 to 20 minutes till it begins to lightly brown.

Melt the chocolate over a double boiler. Remove baking pan from oven and place whole toasted almonds onto the top in a pattern. Pour chocolate over top and spread evenly. Allow to cool then refrigerate until hardened, about 1 hour. Be careful not to leave the bars in the cooler too long. Remove from the baking pan onto a smooth surface. Cut into 36 squares.

Personal Notes: I would under-bake rather than over-bake. Use semi-sweet chocolate and dark chocolate mix. I also considered grinding toasted almonds and using 1/2 cup in the crust.

... I don't understand how the coconut and crust in the picture, on the recipe's blog, looks so white. Sweetened condensed milk always has an off-white color and when mixed with vanilla, the mixture is a light beige color. Also the crust, brown sugar causes the crust to be an off-white color, not white. Could they have enhanced the picture and lightened it, or used different ingredients???

All these questions aside, the recipe is a keeper!
This is a great recipe to welcome spring!

"Sometimes you feel like a nut; sometimes you don't. Almond Joy's got nuts Mound's don't."
~Hershey's Peter Paul jingle from Almond Joy and Mounds candy bars

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Apple and Raisin Oatmeal

263. Today I woke up hungry for a bowl of hot oatmeal. But not just plain oatmeal, oatmeal filled with happiness! My method to make oatmeal is very different from the typical preparation but I think it turns out perfect every time. I follow the directions by boiling the water first and then adding the dry oatmeal to the boiling water. But then I add a pinch of salt, bring the oatmeal back to a boil, stir and then shut the heat off and place a lid on the pot. I set the timer for 5 or so minutes and threaten anyone who dares lift the lid. When the oatmeal is ready, it is always perfect, not stuck to the bottom of the pot or boiled over the sides.

Today, I added a granny smith apple, chopped, cinnamon and 1/2 cup of raisins after the pinch of salt.
It turned out beautiful. I dotted each serving with butter and sprinkled the top with cinnamon and sugar dusting. The apple and raisins added such a natural sweetness, I didn't need to add any additional sugar.
So we sat, enjoying our oatmeal, fresh strawberries and sipped our tea. I wish every morning could be this relaxed and delicious!

"All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast."
~John Gunther


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