Sunday, November 20, 2011

Light pasta served with sausage and peppers

Usually I stick very closely to recipes and am envious of friends who can just whip things up with the ingredients in their pantry! I am trying to get better about improvising on my meals. Last week I really wanted to make a pasta with sausage and bell peppers so I set my mind to it without a recipe! I picked up some Archer Farms chicken sausage which happened to be a sun-dried tomato and asiago cheese mixture (delicious on its own) and I got some red, yellow, and green bell peppers and cut them up. I put a little olive oil in a skillet and put in the sausage and peppers and let them cook. After a little bit I cut up the sausage into smaller sections and continued to let it cook, overall it was about 10 minutes in the skillet. Then, I made some spaghetti noodles and when that was done I put a little olive oil on it with the sausage and pepper mixture on top. Add a little salt and pepper as desired, if you wish to add a little garlic powder to the pasta it is a great addition to the meal as well!
It is just a simple recipe but it is a great weeknight dinner or leftovers for lunch!

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Fall weather calls for some cooking!

I was so excited for my fall themed meal for bunco I just couldn't wait to serve it! And I think it was a big hit with everyone. The menu for the night was Strombolis with Orange Pretzel Salad and for dessert, Carrot Cake!

A tradition for my family is to make Strombolis while we decorate the Christmas tree so the fact that I was making Strombolis in October was shocking to my sister but no matter the time of year Strombolis are always appropriate! I hope as we enter into the holiday season maybe you can start serving Strombolis while you decorate the Christmas tree. Unfortunately, we were all so eager to dig into the Strombolis I didn't get to take a picture of them but I am going to include the recipe, again this one came from my mom's cookbook.
The second dish for our meal was orange pretzel salad, now usually this is strawberry pretzel salad but for Halloween I trade in the strawberry jello for orange jello! This recipe also came from my mom's cookbook.
I finish with a carrot cake shaped like a pumpkin using to bundt cakes and putting them together to get a full circle with the perfect ridges of a pumpkin. Color the frosting orange and color just a little bit green for the stem. For my stem I just used a paper cup and frosted it with the green frosting! You can also use an ice cream cone as an option for the stem! I think I included the carrot cake recipe in a previous post so I won't re-post it here.

I made this meal back in October right before Halloween I'm just a little behind in posting the blog! I apologize for the delay.

Meat Mixture
1 pound ground beef
1 tablespoon fine chopped onion
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon fennel seed
1/8 teaspoon oregano
6 slices mozzarella cheese
6 slices of hard salami

In a skillet brown beef and onion. Add tomato sauce, ketchup, Parmesan cheese, garlic, and spices. Cook for 20 minutes.

Bread preparation
6 sub buns
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika

Mix butter, garlic powder and paprika. Split buns and spread on butter mixture.

Put mozzarella cheese on bun.
Put salami slices on bun.
Spread meat on top of cheese.
Wrap individually in tin foil.
Freeze for later or bake at 350 for 15 minutes.

Orange Pretzel Salad
Bottom Layer
2 1/2 cups pretzels, crushed
3/4 cup margarine, melted
1/4 cup brown sugar

Combine pretzels, margarine, and brown sugar. Mix well and pat into a buttered 9 x 13 baking dish. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Let cool.

Middle Layer
1 cup sugar
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
8 ounces frozen whipped topping, thawed

Cream the sugar and cream cheese. Fold in whipped topping. Spread the mixture over the cooled crust making sure the crust is sealed well with the mixture.

Top Layer
6 ounces orange gelatin (substitute strawberry is you'd like)
2 cups boiling water
10 ounces mandarin oranges (frozen strawberries if you are making strawberry pretzel salad)

Dissolve gelatin in water while still warm. Add oranges, stirring slightly. Cool in refrigerator until mixture begins to set. When the gelatin begins to set pour it over the middle layer. Chill until firm and serve.

Happy Halloween!
And to include some of the decorations I had up, here is a picture of the flowers displayed in a pumpkin vase! A great idea from my mom!

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Roll Tide with a side of Red Velvet Cake (12 layers that is)

You might say I'm crazy for attempting a 12 layer cake and I have to agree with you but I have a slight competitive side so after my sister baked a 12 layer cake I decided I just had to try. What occasion screams the need for a 12 layer cake? An Alabama football party of course! I decided to alternate the layers between a red velvet and white cake (also known as Crimson and White)! I should have made one more layer to complete 13 for the national championships, oh well next time (hopefully next time it can be 14 layers!)
As I mentioned previously my sister had made a 12 layer cake a few weeks before I made mine and it had a little trouble standing. She was shooting for 29 layers for a friend's birthday but when layer 4 caved on her it was a new plan and 12 seemed doable, it was edible. Hearing her during the cake process made me want to try a 12 layer cake myself, I tend to have a bit of a competitive side. I just wanted to see if my cake could stand on its own. It did! My friends were all a little nervous when I cut into the cake, they had bets that it was going to collapse to the ground! Good news is it didn't and we went on to enjoy all 12 layers!!
Of course cake wasn't the only item served for the football party I also fixed a 7 layer taco appetizer and some pizzas. Both of these were easy to fix and serve. The taco dip came from my mom's cookbook, "Going to Carole's", and is always a hit! Loree also made some cherry tomatoes with mozzarella balls in the middle, they were delicious (and also happened to fit the Crimson and White theme).
Here is the taco appetizer recipe, Enjoy!
Taco Appetizer
Mix each layer separately and then place on a serving plate(or a disposable cake pan works great to keep it all in!) in layers and serve with Fritos or your choice of chips.
Layer 1
2 cans bean dip
Layer 2
3 avocados, over ripe
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
Or you can get guacamole already made up for this layer!
Layer 3
1 cup sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise
1 package of Taco Seasoning mix
Mix these together before spreading
Layer 4
Do not mix these layers, just layer them.
Green onions, chopped, as desired
3 tomatoes, chopped
1 can ripe black olives, sliced or chopped
Cheddar cheese, as desired

Now one more thing before I leave you with some pictures, ROLL TIDE

Taco Dip!

The whole spread with the taco dip and pizzas!

Now for what you've really been waiting for the twelve layer red velvet cake....

To have a comparison my sister's cake on top mine on the bottom.

About to cut it, will it still be standing after I make the first slice?? Let's see!

Success! I love this picture because it really shows the different layer colors!
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Monday, November 14, 2011

Brushetta and Balsamic Pork Tenderloins

It has been a while since I have updated my blog and figured it was time to add a few more recipes! About a month ago I had Caitlin and her mama over for dinner as a break from moving Caitlin into her apartment. I love time with both of them and enjoying hours of laughter and chatter with them! Our menu for the night included Brushetta for appetizers, pork tenderloin with lentil salad, and for velvet cake! Brushetta is one of my favorite recipes to make and either serve as an appetizer or I serve the tomato mixture over pasta and serve as a meal! The Brushetta recipe I use comes from Simply Recipes.
6 or 7 ripe plum tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
6-8 fresh basil leaves, chopped
Salt and pepper for taste

1 French baguette
1/4 cup olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 450.
2. Chop tomatoes finely. Put the tomatoes, garlic, 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, vinegar in a bowl and mix. Add chopped fresh basil, add salt and pepper if needed for taste.
3. Slice the baguette on a diagonal into 1/2 inch thick slices. Coat one side of each slice with olive oil. Place the bread (olive oil side down)on a baking sheet and bake for 5-6 minutes.
4. Align the bread on a platter (olive oil side up) and scoop the tomato mixture on each slice of bread. If you choose to serve it over pasta as a meal, skip steps 3 & 4 and scoop the tomato mixture over pasta!
5. Enjoy!

Balsamic Glazed Pork and Lentils
Recipe from Real Simple
1 cup green lentils, rinsed
kosher salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1 1/4-pound pork tenderloin
1 red apple, cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1. Preheat oven to 400° F. Bring 4 cups water to a boil.
2. Add lentils and 1 tsp salt, stir occasionally until tender, 20 - 30 minutes. Drain under cold water.
3. Combine balsamic vinegar and brown sugar.
4. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Season the pork with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Cook until browned, 6-8 minutes, turning ocassionally.
5. Transfer the pork to the oven. Roast until cooked through, 10-12 minutes, basting with the glaze twice during the last 5 minutes. Wait a little bit before slicing.
6. Toss cooked lentils with the apple, celery, parsley, lemon juice, 2 tbsp oil, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Serve with the pork and any pan drippings.

Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Recipe from Real Simple
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pans
2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled, plus more for the pans
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon red food coloring
1 cup buttermilk
Cream Cheese Frosting
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
3. With an electric mixer beat the butter and sugar on medium-high until fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Beat in the eggs, vanilla, vinegar, and food coloring. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
4. Add the flour mixture in 3 additions and buttermilk in 2 additions (start and end with the flour mixture). Mix on a low speed until combined, don't over mix.
5. Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake 40-45 minutes. Let the cakes cool in the pans for about 15 minutes then transfer to racks to cool completely.
6. Top with frosting (directions below) and refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving.
Cream Cheese Frosting
Recipe from Real Simple
2 8-ounce bars cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
pinch kosher salt
1. Beat cream cheese and butter on high until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Reduce mixer speed to low and add sugar gradually, then the vanilla and salt. Beat until smooth and scrape down the bowl as needed.
2. Frost each layer of the cake and the sides and Enjoy!
Picture time! Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of the red velvet cake but do have pictures of the Brushetta and Pork. Thank you to Mrs. Schmidt for photographing our main course! We were all too excited for dessert to pause and take that picture but next time I'll make sure I document it.


Balsamic Pork Tenderloin and Lentil Salad

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