Sunday, June 27, 2010

Cheese Stuffed Tomatoes

I have to apologize for the lack of updates this past week.  My time has been occupied with a new kitten named Heidi.  She's extremely playful and needs constant affection and hates it when my husband and I use our laptops. :)  While typing this blog entry, she has jumped on my computer about seven times so far.  Anyways, I've had some free time this weekend and decided to try a new appetizer that I had bookmarked for the last few weeks.  I had a hard time finding some decent tomatoes at the grocery store, but this recipe turned out well and took very little time in preparing.  I cooked the tomatoes in the oven and by the time they were out of the oven, the cheese had melted perfectly and the tomatoes were so juicy with the skin ready to peal off.  Yum!

Source:  The Novice Chef


4 medium tomatoes
1/4 cup of your favorite breadcrumbs
2 tbl butter, melted
8 basil leaves, chopped
1/2 cup monterey jack cheese, shredded
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Parsley for garnish


Slice off top of tomato, hollow out (leaving 1/2 inch thick shell), and chop pulp and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine bread crumbs, butter, basil, salt and pepper. Next stir in cheese and tomato pulp. Fill each tomato shell and then wrap each tomato individually in foil.

Grill, or bake (at 400 degrees) for 10 to 15 minutes, until cheese is completely melted. Garnish with parsley and serve hot!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Italian Pasta Salad

I have been on such a pasta salad kick lately.  It's been so hot and muggy lately so a good pasta salad has been really refreshing.  I've been fixing these salads lately for dinner as a test for what I will bring to some upcoming BBQ's.  This salad was so easy to make and reallllly yummy.  If you're a procrastinator like me and need to come up with a quick pasta salad for a party, this recipe will work for sure.

Source:  Stephanie Cooks


2 cups uncooked pasta
1 cup broccoli, cut into small florets
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, diced in 1/2 (I used cherry tomatoes)
3-4 tbsp. parmesan cheese
Kraft Roasted red pepper Italian salad dressing  (I used Kraft Light Zesty Italian)


Bring a pot of water to boil. Cook the pasta. In the last 2 minutes, throw in the broccoli.

Drain the pasta/broccoli mixture. Run under cold water.

Allow the mixture to cool completely.

Add the grape tomatoes and a few squirts of dressing. Toss well, store in the fridge to allow the tastes to marinade.

Right before serving add the parmesan cheese, stir well, and serve cold.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Cheddar Double Stuffed Potatoes

One of my favorite appetizers to eat at a bar or restaurant are potato skins.  They are so yummy with a little sour cream and extra cheese.  Although this recipe was a little bit different than your basic potato skin recipe, it was so much better with the extra kick.  Definitely great for a party!

Source:  Joelen's Culinary Adventures, adapted from Rachel Ray


2 large Russet potatoes, cleaned and pricked with a fork several times each
Drizzle olive oil or vegetable oil
2 slices center cut bacon, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
2 scallions, chopped
1/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Salt and coarse black pepper

Preheat a small nonstick pan over medium high heat. Rub potatoes with a drizzle of oil. Place potatoes on a microwave safe plate and microwave on high for 12 minutes, rotating once.

While potatoes cook, add chopped bacon to hot skillet and brown until bits are crisp. Add scallions and cook scallions together with bacon 1 minute more. Transfer bacon bits and green onions to a paper towel lined plate to drain.

Allow potatoes to cool enough to be handled, 5 minutes. Preheat broiler to high.

Cut potatoes in half and scoop out the flesh into a small bowl. Smash potato flesh together with sour cream until combined using a potato masher. Stir in 1 cup of cheddar cheese, bacon and scallions and season with salt and pepper, to your taste.

Scoop filling back into potato skins, top with additional cheddar cheese and place on a cookie sheet. Place potatoes in oven and brown under broiler, 6 inches from heat for 5 minutes.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Fruity Italian Ice

This is probably one of the simplest recipes I have put on my blog.  You only need one ingredient!!  This was such a healthy, cool, and refreshing dish that you won't be able to resist making it just once!

Source:  Stephanie Cooks, from Loser for Life


Fresh, chopped, frozen fruit (watermelon or pineapple works best)


Place the frozen fruit pieces in a food processor.

If you want it to be choppy, like slushy ice, hit pulse a few times until the fruit it chopped up and resembles Italian ice.

If you prefer it more smooth, let the food processor run for about 2-3 minutes or until smooth like soft ice cream.

Salad Stuffed Shells

It's summertime!  Time for lots of fun-filled BBQ nights with friends and family.  One thing a BBQ always needs is pasta salad.  There are so many different kinds to make, but as soon as I found this recipe, I knew I had to try it.  It was so different and oh, so good!  I always loved this recipe because the options are limitless.  Add or delete vegetables of your choosing and top it off with your favorite dressing.

Source:  Stephanie Cooks


Lettuce, chopped (I used pre-shredded)
Cucumbers, diced small
Tomatoes, diced small
Shredded cheddar cheese
Carrots, diced  (I used pre-shredded)
Jumbo shells, cooked and cooled
Salad dressing (I used zesty italian)


Take all of your salad ingredients and toss them together in a bowl.  Mix a little salad dressing in to coat lightly.

Stuff each shell with salad until it is full.

Right before serving drizzle dressing over the shells.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Chocolate Chip Muffins

Don't let anybody tell you any different because I firmly believe that chocolate chip muffins are a wonderful way to start your day!  I wanted something to eat for breakfast at work and these did the trick quite nicely.  The recipe worked out well, but please follow the directions when cooking because I didn't and overcooked them just a tad.  The ones I did not overcook turned out perfect and moist.  All in all, it was a somewhat success and it's nice to add something new to my database of recipes!

Source:  Annie's Eats, adapted from Williams Sonoma


2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
12 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup milk
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 13-14 muffin wells with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir together with a fork. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar. Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl between additions. Mix in the vanilla until well blended. Add half of the flour mixture to the bowl and mix on low speed just until incorporated. Add the milk and mix until combined. Mix in the rest of the flour mixture, beating just until incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips using a rubber spatula.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared muffin liners. Bake for 21-23 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer the muffins to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

I love bringing in desserts to my job, whether it be for someone's birthday or just because I feel like baking.  It's also a good thing because then I don't have to eat those delicious, yet fattening desserts by myself.  I recently bought a new stand mixer so I thought I'd try making a delicious cheesecake with plenty of chocolate.  This cheesecake couldn't have turned out any better.  It was so rich and creamy and perfect.  The girls at work raved about it as soon as they had the first bite.  Since the cake turned out so well, I am definitely motivated to try making more cheesecakes in the near future.

Source:  Annie's Eats, originally from Ghirardelli


2 cups chocolate sandwich cookie crumbs
6 tbsp. butter, melted
24 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
¾ cup powdered sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup whipping cream
1 tbsp. vanilla
1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips


For the crust, crumble the sandwich cookies into a food processor or blender. Grind into fine crumbs. In a medium bowl, combine cookie crumbs and melted butter. Mix well with a fork. Spoon the mixture into a 10-inch springform pan. Using your fingers or the back of a spoon, pat the mixture into the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of the pan. Freeze prepared crust 15-30 minutes while preparing cheesecake filling.

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°. Blend cream cheese and sugar 3 minutes on medium-high speed. Turn mixer down to lowest speed; add eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each. Scrape sides of bowl. Add whipping cream and vanilla; beat on medium-high for 3 minutes. Pour ¾ of the cream cheese filling into crust. Sprinkle chocolate chips over batter, then pour remaining cream cheese filling over chips.

Bake cheesecake for 1 hour and 15 minutes at 325°. Turn off oven; leave cake in oven with door closed for 1 ½ hours. Refrigerate at least 8 hours before serving.

Basic White Bread Machine Bread

The bread machine has really turned into an instant success.  We have yet to buy any loaves of bread at the grocery store and a loaf of bread from the machine is lasting about 3-4 days between the two of us.  I was finally able to find some decent bread flour at the grocery store so now I have been trying out basic white bread.  The bread turned out so well and it works great on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches!

Source: Cuisinart


1 1/2 c. water, 80-90 degrees
3 tbsp. room temperature unsalted butter, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
3 tsp. granulated sugar or honey
1 1/2 tsp. salt
4 c. bread flour
1/4 c. nonfat dry milk
2 tsp. yeast, active dry, instant or bread machine

Place all ingredients in the order listed in the bread machine fitted with the kneading paddles.  Set bread machine to appropriate settings and transfer to wire rack to cool.  Bread slices best when allowed to cool.

Roasted Broccoli

Looking for an easy sidedish?  One of my favorite vegetables is definitely brocolli, which I usually either steam or sautee when I eat it.  I decided to do something different and try roasting it.  This recipe turned out well, but when you are tossing the brocolli in the olive oil, make sure that it is coated well or it can crisp up too much in the oven.

Source:  Peace, Love, and French Fries, adapted from Amateur Gourmet.  Originally from Ina Garten.


2-3 large bunches of broccoli crowns, cut into florets
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
4 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese


Preheat oven to 400

Spread broccoli florets on cookie sheet (I recommend lining with aluminum foil). Toss with EVOO salt and pepper (eyeball it). Add garlic slices.

Roast for 20-25 minutes until crisp tender and tips are starting to brown. Remove from oven, transfer to serving bowl. Zest lemon over top, squeeze juice of lemon over top. Toss. Top with Parmesan cheese.