{In case you're wondering, that means "Everyone to the table to eat!" in Italian}

Monday, January 18, 2010

Ginger Molasses Cookies

Next to the beloved Christmas Crackles, these are my favorite cookie to bake during the holidays. They are soft and chewy and spiced just perfectly. I got the recipe from an old neighbor, Jennifer Lund. It makes plenty to share with friends or neighbors!
Ginger Molasses Cookies
1 1/2 c. butter
2 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 c. molasses
4 1/2 c. flour
4 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. salt
granulated sugar, for rolling

Cream butter and brown sugar. Add eggs and molasses and mix well. Add dry ingredients. Roll into balls and roll in sugar. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 375 for 10-12 minutes.
*You can also chill the dough, and then roll it and cut it into shapes using cookie cutters. Bake a little less time since they are flat, or they will be pretty crispy!

Baked Pasta with Chicken Sausage

I got this recipe off the My Kitchen Cafe website, and it is so good. It tastes like restaurant Italian food, no kidding. Even Dustin loves it, and he's not a big pasta-lover. It makes a ton, so either freeze half for another meal or make it when you need to take a meal in to someone- you'll have plenty for 2 families!
Baked Pasta with Chicken Sausage
*Makes a heaping full 9X13 pan*
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium red onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 (14.5 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 cup heavy cream (I just use milk)
1 pound rigatoni
10 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained well (can substitute 1 9-oz. bag fresh spinach)
12 ounces precooked smoked chicken (or turkey) sausage, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/4 inch thick (next to the precooked hot dogs-I just use turkey kielbasa)
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, 4 ounces cut into 1/2-inch cubes and 4 ounces shredded
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion; cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in garlic. Cook for another minute.Stir in tomatoes, oregano and basil; simmer for 8-10 minutes. Add cream; cook until warmed through, about 5 minutes. Season sauce with salt and pepper to taste.Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook pasta in the boiling water until al dente, according to package instructions. (If using fresh spinach, add it to the pot of boiling pasta right at the end and cook until wilted.) Drain, and return contents to pot.Add tomato sauce, sausage, spinach and cubed mozzarella to the pot; toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Scoop pasta into lightly greased 9X13-inch pan (or divide evenly between two 7X11-inch pans). Top with grated mozzerella and Parmesan. Bake until browned and edges are crisp, 20 to 30 minutes.

Greek Lemon Chicken Soup

This recipe is from my Pampered Chef cookbook. It is a nice change from the old Chicken Noodle Soup (though I love my homemade version of that too, find it here). The lemon flavor gives it a very refreshing taste.
Greek Lemon Chicken Soup
2 c. chopped cooked chicken
2 medium carrots, peeled, halved and sliced
1/2 c. chopped onion
1/4 c. lemon juice
1 tsp. lemon zest
2 tb. fresh snipped parsley (or 1 tb. dried)
1 garlic clove
1 can cream of chicken soup
3 cans chicken broth
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2/3 c. uncooked long-grain white rice

Saute carrots, onion and garlic in a pan with a little oil for a few minutes. Stir in chicken, lemon juice and zest, soup, broth, pepper and rice. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer. Cover and simmer 15-20 minutes or until rice is tender. Stir parsley into soup just before serving.

New Year's Eve- Party Food!

According to my Southern ancestors' tradition, black-eyed peas were always eaten on New Year's Eve. This supposedly brought you luck for the coming year. My mom always made us eat at least a spoonful, though we all hated them, in keeping with tradition. When I tried this yummy chip dip at a friend's party several year's ago, I was so excited- now I could eat black-eyed peas and actually enjoy them! So we now eat this dip- dubbed "Mexican Caviar"- every New Year's Eve. It's easy to make and tastes great! This year we had an "appetizer dinner", so we also had fancy cheeses paired with crackers and pears, and spinach artichoke dip.
Mexican Caviar
1 can black-eyed peas, undrained
1 can black olives, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
2 avocados, peeled, seeded and chopped
2 small tomatoes, chopped
1 packet dry Italian dressing mix

Mix all together, chill for several hours to combine flavors. Serve with tortilla chips.
We are lately becoming cheese-tasters, trying to decide our favorites (so when we someday get a milk cow we'll know which ones we want to try to make with all that extra milk). Look for our cheese-taster's table to come soon as we sample all kinds and share our thoughts and reviews.)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Gourmet Chicken Garlic Pizza

Ever since we moved an hour away from the closest Papa Murphy's, I have been looking for a copycat recipe for their pizza of the same name- it is one of our faves. I never could find one, so I made up my own. Oh, man, was it good! The original calls for green onions, but I didn't have any so I used red. Choose the one you prefer- they are both good! *We have a new family tradition of having homemade pizza and watching a movie every Friday night, so I'll post some other pizza recipes as I make them.
Gourmet Chicken Garlic Pizza
1 15-inch pizza crust (I make my own using my whole-wheat bread recipe- one recipe makes about 3 crusts)
3/4 c. ranch dressing
2 tb. fresh minced garlic
2 c. (8 oz.) mozzerella cheese, grated
2 small or 1 large chicken breasts
olive oil
salt and pepper
1 large tomato, chopped
1/2 red onion or 3 green onions, chopped into 1" pieces
1 can quartered artichoke hearts, drained
2 tb. parmesan cheese
1 tsp. basil, oregano, or Italian seasoning
Roll out pizza dough and place on pizza stone or greased baking sheet. Mix together ranch dressing and garlic, spread on dough. Sprinkle mozzerella cheese over sauce. Heat saute pan on medium-high heat with a drizzle of olive oil. Sprinkle chicken breasts with salt and pepper, cook in hot oil for about 7 minutes per side, or until cooked through. Chop chicken and spread on pizza. Evenly place tomatoes, artichokes, and onions on pizza. Mix parmesan and herb of choice, sprinkle on top of pizza. Bake on 425 for about 12-18 minutes, until cheese is bubbly and crust is browned. Slice and enjoy!