Sunday, March 30, 2008

Mediterranean Feast

I saw this recipe in Real Simple magazine, which is my favorite magazine by the way. One of the main things that attracts me to a recipe is how it looks. I must admit, I am a sucker for good looking food. This recipe is surely good looking, oh, and I suppose taste should probably be a factor.

This meal was made even more special with the addition of some store-bought hummus and warm pita from the oven. One of these days I will have to break out my food processor and attempt to make homemade hummus.

The salad in this recipe was very refreshing. Even better, the whole prep time and cooking time took less than 30 minutes. This is a perfect meal for busy families. The only suggestion I would make is to add a little extra spice to the mini burgers.

Viva Mediterranean!

Spiced Mini-Burgers with Couscous Salad
from: Real Simple April 2008

1 box (10 oz) couscous
1 pound ground beef
kosher salt and pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 scallions, trimmed and sliced
4 Roma (plum) tomatoes, quartered
1 seedless cucumber, sliced into half moons
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Place the couscous in a medium bowl and pour 1 1/2 cups hot tap water over the top. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork.

Form the beef into 12 small 1/2-inch thick patties. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, the cumin and oregano.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the patties and cook to desired doneness, 4 minutes per side for medium.

Combine the couscous, scallions, tomatoes, cucumber, lemon juice, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and the remaining oil in a large bowl.

Divide among individual plates. Serve with the burgers.

Saturday, March 29, 2008


This cake is called Holy Cow Cake. I have decided I shall rename it to the OMG Cake. It is decadent, rich, and terribly bad for you.

I don't know what possessed me to make this cake. I think it sounded good and the picture in the cookbook was really pretty. I just made a cake on Thursday evening for a potluck at work. I thought I was all baked out, but I guess not.

This cake was fun to make. It had a lot of steps, but in the end, it was completely worth it. Enjoy the masterpiece below.

By the way, if rich, sweet cakes aren't for you, steer clear of this recipe. I want to kiss the author of the Cake Doctor Cookbook. She is the bestest.

Holy Cow Cake
from: The Cake Mix Doctor Cookbook
1 package (18.25 oz) plain devil's food cake mix
1 1/3 cups water
1/2 cup vegetable oil, such as canola, corn, safflower, soybean or sunflower
3 large eggs

1 jar (8 oz) caramel topping
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
4 Butterfinger candy bars (2.1 oz each), crushed
1 container (12 oz) frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, at room temperature

1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly mist a 13x9 inch baking pan with vegetable oil spray. Set the pan aside.

2. Place the cake mix, water, oil and eggs in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping the sides down again if needed. The batter should look thick and well blended. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing out the top with the rubber spatula. Place the pan in the oven.

3. Bake the cake until it springs back when lightly pressed with your finger and just starts to pull away from the sides of the pan, 35 to 38 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and place it on a wire rack. Immediately poke holes in the top of the cake with a drinking straw or chopstick.

4. Prepare the topping. Place the caramel topping and sweetened condensed milk in a small bowl and stir to combine. Spoon this mixture over the warm cake so that it can seep down into the holes. Measure out half the crushed candy bars and sprinkle the pieces over the cake.

5. Place the whipped topping and cream cheese in a large mixing bowl and blend with an electric mixer on low speed until smooth and combined, 1 minute. Spread the mixture over the top of the candy. Sprinkle the remaining candy pieces on top.

6. Place the pan, uncovered, in the refrigerator to chill the cake for about 20 minutes before cutting it into squares and serving.
This is what the Holy Cow Cake looks like when it's completey assembled and before you cut it. Pretty isn't it? This would be fun to take to a Halloween party.

A First

In all my years of cooking, can you believe that I have never made anything seafood related? I think it scares me a little bit for some reason. I bought a new cookbook a few days ago ($5.00 at Powell's bookstore!!) and I had to try one of the recipes. It had shrimp in it. Come on Pachey, go out on a limb!

I was a bit shocked at the price of frozen shrimp at the grocery store. I first went to the frozen section, and a one pound bag was $9.99! Luckily, the seafood counter had the same thing on sale for $4.99 a pound. All I had to do was remove the tails and thaw the little shimpies.

Besides the shrimp, this is a very inexpensive recipe to make. Most people have the canned goods on hand already, and if you add a salad and maybe another vegetable or bread, you have a hearty meal. Even with the pasta, it is pretty healthy also. I haven't calculated the calories yet, but I am sure it won't be terrible.

The recipe was simple to make, and even more yummy to eat. I don't know why I avoid seafood recipes so much, but this one was tasty. Of course, it had to have tomatoes on it, and it was even better with the pasta and cheese. Do you see a trend? I seem to make the same things over and over and over again: Pasta, tomatoes, cheese, casserole, meat. I added some garlic powder as well as extra red pepper flakes. We like our food spicy in this house. Eh, if it aint broke right?

Shrimp and Pasta Bake
from: The Best of Classic Cookbooks

1 package (16 oz) bow tie pasta
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
1 package (12 oz) frozen shelled deveined cooked small shrimp, thawed
1 jar (4.5 oz) sliced mushrooms, drained
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta to desired doneness as directed on package. Drain.

2. Place cooked pasta in ungreased 13x9 inch baking dish. Stir in tomatoes, shrimp, tomato sauce, mushrooms and spices. Sprinkle with cheese. Cover with foil.

3. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Sunday, March 16, 2008


Ever since I bought this cookbook, I wanted to make this one recipe. The picture looks beautiful. It had all my favorite elements: tomatoes, pasta and cheese.

This week, I decided to make it. I was all excited as I was grocery shopping. All weekend I looked forward to my Mediterranean Baked Chicken. It was a disappointing finish. It was good, but I was expecting so much more. This was probably my own darn fault. I had worked myself up to expecting perfection. After all, the picture made it look so yummy!

I hate when that happens. You get super excited to make something and then it yields less than stellar results. Booooo! Worse thing? The recipe came from my all time favorite cookbook. This will be the first time that I am not happy with the end results.

I think this would have been better if two things had happened:
1. More spices! It was a little bland, even with the tangy artichoke hearts
2. Stop getting so excited for recipes that look pretty in the picture! In this case, the picture looked better than my results.

Can I get an amen?!? I am going to wallow in my own self pity on my sofa while watching "Romancing the Stone". I wonder if we have any brownies left?

Mediterranean Baked Chicken
from: Pillsbury One Dish Meals cookbook

6 oz (2 cups) uncooked rotini pasta
1/4 cup butter
3 large shallots, minced
1/4 cup flour
1 can (14.5 oz) chicken broth with 1/3 less sodium (I would actually recommend using the regular kind with full salt)
1 package (8 oz) sliced fresh mushrooms
4 oz (1 cup) shredded Swiss cheese
3 cups chopped cooked chicken
1 jar (6 oz) marinated artichoke hearts, drained
1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 2-quart casserole with nonstick cooking spray. Cook rotini to desired doneness as directed on package. Drain.

2. Meanwhile, melt butter in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add shallots; cook and stir 1 minute. Stir in flour; cook 30 seconds. With wire whisk, stir in broth. Add mushrooms. Bring to a boil. Cook 3 to 4 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; stir in cheese until melted.

3. Add cooked rotini, chicken, artichoke hearts, tomatoes and parsley to mushroom mix; mix gently. Spoon into sprayed casserole dish.

4. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until thoroughly heated and bubbly. If desired, garnish with additional fresh parsley.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Thanksgiving! Oh wait......

Tonight, I made a casserole that reminded me of Thanksgiving. It had all the elements: Turkey, stuffing, peas and carrots, all mixed into a tasty casserole. The husband I decided that it was similar to Turkey A'la King or a Turkey Pot Pie without the top crust. Either way, it was good.

I had to add a top crust of some sort since the stuffing I bought wasn't enough. The recipe called for 8 ounces and I only had 6. So, I improvised. I cubed up some pieces of whole wheat bread and used that as a top crust of sorts.

Guess where this recipe came from? My Pillsbury One Dish Meals cookbook of course! It was extremely easy to put together. It only took about 10 minutes to prepare and another 10-15 to bake. My husband called on the way home from the computer store, and it was ready when he walked in the door. What can I say? I would make the perfect 1950's housewife.

This was a wee bit runny when I took it out of the oven, so I would recommend waiting another 2-3 minutes before eating it past what the recipe suggest. I bet it would be really good as leftovers. I will have to ask my husband since he is getting a portion in his lunch tomorrow.

Oh, and believe it or not, this is pretty low in calories if you consume only the serving size. The recipe makes 6 servings at 340 calories a serving.


Caution: Picture is not pretty. Pachey had to add bread to the top of her recipe because she somehow cannot follow directions.

Turkey Stuffing Casserole
from: Pillsbury One Dish Meals cookbook

2 cups water
1 package (8 ounces) chicken-flavor stuffing mix
3/4 pound turkey tenderloin, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 packages (10 ounces) frozen peas and carrots, thawed
1 can (10.75 ounces) condensed 98% fat-free cream of chicken soup
1 container (8 ounces) fat-free sour cream
1 jar (4.5 ounces) sliced mushrooms, drained
2/3 cup skim milk

1. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Spray 13x9 inch (3 quart) baking dish with nonstick spray.

2. In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil. Stir in stuffing mix. Remove from heat; cover and let stand 5 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, in large nonstick skillet, cook turkey over medium-high heat until no longer pink. Add peas and carrots, soup, sour cream, mushrooms and milk; mix well. Heat until bubbly.

4. Spoon 2/3 of stuffing evenly into dish. Top with turkey mix and remaining stuffing.

5. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until bubbly and browned. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Trusty Cookbook

I adore my Pillsbury cookbook. I have never made a recipe out of there that I didn't like. So, when I do my grocery shopping, I meal plan and out comes the cookbook. I picked this recipe because it sounded different. I have made lasagna and Mexican casseroles before, but this one sounded intriguing.

Hey, if it's got cheese and tomatoes, chances are, I will like it. Even if the other ingredients are dog food and ants. I love cheese and I LOVE tomatoes. My kitchen is decorated with them after all.

This was very easy to make. It would have been even easier for my lazy butt if the grocery store had pre-shredded Monterey Jack. Instead, I had to resort to the old fashioned way of actually grating it. It took about 15 minutes to prepare and another 15 to bake (my oven runs hot).

Like civilized human beings, my husband and I actually sat at the dining room table and ate. AND, we each had a salad. Our mom's would be proud.

If you ever have the opportunity to pick up the Pillsbury One Dish Meals cookbook, I highly recommend it. I have posted other recipes out of it, so take a look! I am never disappointed.

from: Pillsbury One Dish Meals Cookbook
4 oz. (2 cups) uncooked mini-lasagna noodles (mafalda)
1/2 pound ground beef
1 can (15 oz) kidney beans, drained
1 can (14.5 oz) chili-style tomatoes, undrained
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
8 oz. (2 cups) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 can (4.5 oz) chopped green chiles

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 12x8 (2 quart) baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Cook noodles to desired doneness as directed on package. Drain.

2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook ground beef over medium-high heat until thoroughly cooked. Drain. Add kidney beans, tomatoes and tomato sauce; cook until heated, stirring occasionally.

3. Spoon cooked noodles evenly into baking dish. Sprinkle with 1 cup of cheese, all of the beef mixture, green chiles and remaining 1 cup cheese.

4. Bake for 20 minutes or until edges are bubbly and mixture is thoroughly heated.