Saturday, June 4, 2011

Stuffed Bell Pepper Casserole

-1 cup Ditalini pasta
-2 cans condensed Cream of Mushroom soup
-1 can milk
-1 cup Colby Jack cheese, shredded
-1 cup frozen Peas & Carrots
-1 tsp Onion powder
-1 tsp Garlic powder
-1 1/2 tsp dried Basil
-1/2 tsp Salt
-1/2 tsp Pepper
-1 can Chicken
-8 Bell Peppers

Boil 6 cups water with 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil on high heat.  Add pasta and reduce heat to medium for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until pasta is al dente.  Drain and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, add soup, milk, and cheese, stirring until well combined.  Add vegetables and seasonings, continue stirring.  Gently mix in pasta and chicken.
Cut the tops off of your bell peppers, then use a spoon to carefully remove the seeds and pulp.  Spoon in your casserole mixture, leaving just enough room to place the tops back on the bell peppers.  Arrange stuffed peppers in a large baking pan, then place in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes, or until peppers are tender.  Serve whole peppers, garnish with cheese or whole-leaf basil.

Made this one on a whim tonight.  Our local supermarket had a sale on bell peppers, and I was torn between stir-fry and stuffed peppers, but didn't know what I was going to stuff them with.  Took a look in the fridge and pantry, and all I had was casserole fixings.  Then I thought… why the heck not?
The savory casserole tasted GREAT with the sweet bell peppers!  And as you can see, it's looks amazing with the bright colors and fresh basil.  Gonna finish this meal off with some tasty mint chocolate chip ice cream.  Yum!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Choco-Cherry Cake

Box Yellow Cake Mix
3 eggs
1/3 cup cooking oil
1 1/4 cup water
1 1/2 oz bittersweet baking chocolate
40 maraschino cherries, dried
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Chop or shave chocolate, and place in a bowl in the fridge or freezer until ready.  Use a whisk or electric mixer to combine cake mix, eggs, oil, and water until well blended.  Fold in chocolate, and pour mixture into a 13x9 greased baking pan.  Place cherries evenly across the top of the cake mixture (cherries will sink while baking).  Bake for 30 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove from oven and let sit until completely cooled.
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup maraschino cherry juice
1/2-1 cup powdered sugar
Stir together butter and cherry juice, then slowly whisk in powdered sugar.  When mixture starts to thicken, taste test frequently: you want a cherry-flavored glaze, not a powdered sugar flavored glaze.  Drizzle on cake, and enjoy.
So I know what you’re thinking... boxed cake mix?  Maraschino cherry juice?!
Well, as far as I’m concerned, homemade cake batter can be a pain in the ass, and I’ve never had a good experience with it.  Some people may call it “cheating” to use a box mix, I call it predictable and time-saving.
And as for the cherry “juice”... what else are you going to do with all that liquid left in the cherry jar?
All in all, a very yummy dessert.  The cake came out perfectly moist and delicious.  Even my fiance, who HATES cherries and bittersweet chocolate, came back for more!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Vegetarian Thai Peanut Yakisoba

One of the benefits of having people live with you is that you're always pushed to expand your culinary horizons.  One of the drawbacks is that those horizons often contain phrases like "and hold the mushrooms!" or "are you adding dillweed to that?  You know I can't stand dillweed."
Sometimes you find a happy medium with the people you cook for.  Like the other night, when I made this dish.  My fiance is trying to cut out as much gluten as possible from her diet, as well as red meats and dairy.  So, in a desperate attempt at changing things up, I started wandering through the asian foods section at my local grocery store.  That's when I came across San-J Gluten-free Thai Peanut Sauce.  Wheels started turning, and I quickly started grabbing things off the shelves, seemingly at random; honey roasted peanuts, tofu, yakisoba noodles.  Eventually, this delicious dish is what I came up with;

-2 carrots, peeled and coined
-1 bell pepper, chopped
-1/2 onion, chopped
-1/4 cup honey roasted peanuts
-bottle of San-J Gluten Free Thai Peanut sauce
-1 package firm tofu
-1 package Yakisoba noodles
-salt & pepper to taste

Start by rinsing your tofu and draining thoroughly.  Carefully cut it into 1”x1”x1/4” pieces, and place on a 300 degree griddle (my personal preference, you can pan- or wok-cook it as you prefer), and lightly drizzle with peanut sauce.  Check frequently to avoid burning; you want a slightly crisp sear on the outside, and fully cooked through.  I turned my griddle down to 250 degrees after getting a good sear.
In a wok or skillet, cook carrots, bell peppers, and onion in a tablespoon of cooking oil on medium-high heat, stirring frequently.  After about a minute, add in about 2-3 tablespoons of peanut sauce, peanuts, salt, and pepper, and continue cooking until vegetables are cooked but still firm.  Set aside.
Add one tablespoon of cooking oil to your now-empty wok or skillet, and add Yakisoba noodles.  Add about 1 tablespoon of peanut sauce per serving of noodles.  Cook on medium-high with continuous movement for about 2-4 minutes until noodles are done.
Serve noodles topped with vegetables and 6-8 pieces of tofu.

I tend to find that the best compliment you can get out of your home kitchen is silence, briefly punctuated by the clinking of silverware on a plate or a quiet "sooo tasty!"