Mario Batali’s Strichetti With Prosciutto

I was spending a little time looking over some of the recipes we have collected and tried over the last year and have come to realize I fangirl out on Michael Symon all the time! If you’ve spent any time looking at the recipes, you will find a couple of his peppered around the site, and in all fairness, one of Daphne’s (which we’ve made many times) – but I’ve never ventured to try anyone else’s from The Chew. I am a huge fan of the show, and find that most of the time we can find something different, delicious and fairly manageable (LOL, don’t count what my kitchen looks like after as an indication of success) new little something to try. I always love Mario’s recipes, but have shied away due to the complexity (which should be called beauty) of what he creates in the kitchen. No more fear! This fantastico pasta dish, Mario Batali’s Strichetti with Prosciutto was just the one to dip our toes into the kiddie pool of Mario Batali’s recipes! First things first, we had to figure out what we were going to do to make this pasta. We didn’t have a pasta maker, and hubby has had many a dream about making fresh pasta – we have a kitchen aid mixer – but the kit for the pasta attachments are just out of our range at the moment. So we went with the “My Perfect Kitchen” Pasta Machine for $35.00. It makes flat sheets, fettuccine and spaghetti. For us and our love of kitchen gadgets – $35.00 will be a very good investment and a reason to make more fresh pasta 🙂 Bonus! The whole egg and flour well way of mixing the ingredients for the pasta is brilliant! That way you are working with it on a surface that should be easy to control the makeup entirely. Once the dough is combined the rolling begins – and you may ‘think’ it looks thin enough – go down another setting for good measure (maybe even 2!). We made these ahead of time and once the pressing, cutting, pinching and forming was done, we threw it on a parchment and semolina lined cookie sheet in the refrigerator until we were ready to finish dinner. From that point it was easy peasy 🙂 We followed the recipe exactly and were rewarded with a dinner that was like a rhumba on the...

I’ve Been Cheating – Freezer Meals Kind Of Rock!

I start out the new year with a promise to be more diligent and find more stuff to share and here I am not keeping that so well! Ah, as with resolutions everywhere and every year – I am going to be branching out with some variety and added content….just not maybe every single day 😉 I am such a free spirit, a schedule honestly makes me sweat and think panic mode. But what have we been eating you ask? A friend of mine and I decided we were going to try one of those marathon day cooking projects that would net us a month’s (to split for the first run) worth of meals made and frozen for easy and little effort meals. The ‘plan’ we went with was from The Shabby Creek Cottage and was an entire method of attack, shopping list and recipes to guide us in  this adventure! The Shabby Creek Cottage “A month of freezer meals + shopping list” post was so lovingly printed out with an added touch of  awesome in the form of individual recipe pages and the shopping list, by my hubby – a copy for both friend and I in hand! We started out thinking we were going to be super organized and it would be no sweat. The post figured four hours worth of kitchen time – and I think we were a little slow. 🙂 Seven hours later we were loaded up with meals and really had a good day of cooking and visiting; and an added bonus – she brought her two kiddos and the house, while pretty loud was filled with laughter and good times. The kids actually kept themselves very occupied and didn’t tear a single thing up! BONUS 😀 Other than taking a whole lot of time, we really had few ‘tips’ or ‘necessary changes’, but there were a few. First, look at her tips – seriously, wear comfortable shoes! LOL, I constantly run bare or sock footed (is that a word?), but I was hurting after doing it for the cook-off. Overall the recipes were pretty simple – HUGE note, if you do not own a scale that does pounds, then pay attention to your meat. You are cooking large amounts all at once for timing sake, but remember you have to measure out a certain number of pounds or individual chicken breasts – be mindful, this oversight ended in us not having the extra shredded chicken in small bags (but probably really meaty dishes!) Also, same thing applies to the rice (and a total afterthought on my half – if you have a partner and can manage 1 person working on beef meals and one working on chicken meals – the process would probably be much quicker). The only other real issue we came across, was with the ingredients “a HUGE (like double the size regular) jar of marinara and the biggest tub of ricotta you can find” being the directions. We talked about exactly how big her quantities were, because we had zero leftover marinara and had to send hubby on an emergency store run to procure more ricotta. The day left us ladies (and even hubby – because he was invaluable) feeling pretty accomplished and at least us beyond excited to try the meals! And as of this post, our family has had the chili (this was another one we didn’t end up with extra of and can’t figure out where we ran short on this one) – both as fantastically awesome chili dogs with cheese and also as a bowl of hearty goodness. We also used the mild beans when making it, as with my stomach issues the spicy just isn’t an option for me. But a nice big double thumbs up on the chili. We also had the Chicken and Dressing — and holy guacamole is it sinfully delicious! We put it on top of plain long grain white rice with butter and creamed spinach and were so happy with that dinner and the taste of the sage dressing was intense! Another double thumbs up on that one too. I am probably going to make a couple more full batches of this one to keep on hand. Tonight we had the Broccoli Cheddar Pasta Bake and this is the first one we weren’t crazy about. The taste was overall really decent, but the noodles just didn’t cook up the way I would have liked. Some were a little tough, but it reminded me of a Grandma Ruby attempt at tuna casserole. (I know, that is a reference that probably bears explanation, but let’s leave it at she made everything she tried...

Cinnamon Streuesel Coffee Cake – Martha Stewart Style

With everything we have had going on lately, I decided it was far past time to create a baked miracle in the kitchen! I love sweets, and we usually end up with either prepackaged processed or something from the local bakery or store. I am a girl who loves coffee and what better to go with a perfectly crafted cuppa, that a Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake Recipe that I stumbled across. I almost cringe when I see Martha Stewart as the creator, nothing bad here! I actually love Martha and would love to be as naturally inclined at everything ‘home’ she is. We have successfully made her salisbury steak in the past, and though a little complex, was well worth the effort. So we decided to give this a try and are so glad we did! As an added tip, she has a banana coconut version I would be very willing to try, that sounds like it will add a whole new layer of flavor. We followed this one ver batim and had great results that everyone loved! This is one I could highly recommend to anyone with a sweet tooth that loves cinnamon!...

Yum! Thai Infused Apple Butternut Squash Soup

Well, Santa brought hubby an immersion blender and he has been chomping at the bit to try something, anything that would require the smooth blending that would be our first introduction into the world of immersion blending. What we found was one of the most filling and savory meals in the form of Thai Infused Apple Butternut Squash Soup. This was a first time for us also, to use a fresh butternut squash as a main portion to our meal. This soup turned out to be something really special. All of these different flavors combined together so well! Ginger, squash, apples, onions, the curry…it felt like a lot of ingredients, but was really not bad. The prep was a little lengthy and we learned how to roast the squash and that was fun. The one ‘hitch’ we hit, was we had a really hard time determining what was ginger after cooking – we pulled out 3 of the pieces and just left the other two. So we definitely had a stronger ginger taste than the original chef probably intended, but to us, that was a bonus. Once everything was in the pot, the real fun started. His blender works marvellously and we ended up with a nice and uniform thick soup that was intense. The chili infused sesame oil along with the coconut oil on top was just what it needed to give it that special panache! It turned out amazing and we cannot WAIT to try it...

German Beef Stew To Comfort The Chilly Nights

As per the norm, Sunday’s are crockpot creation night due to our somewhat focused family time and pure desire to have dinner ready when our day winds down. The colder weather has brought out the stew and comfort food lovers in each member of the family and I happened across this German Beef Stew and really felt like it was just going to be perfect for the chilly night. We stuck right with the recipe and had a bit of dry sherry on hand so that was what we used as well as the beef broth which I am sure added to the richness of the taste. When we got home from the evenings activities the house smelled so delicious and inviting.  We reheated a little bit of the rice from the other night – and we ended up finding that the rice mixed so well with the stew. On the whole this stew was really hearty and the dry sherry really added a zing to the overall flavor. I think the entire family will be asking for this again really soon. A classic and comforting crockpot gem for the...

Chicken Divan Over Basmati Rice

With the days of Christmas past and the New Year upon us, funds are budgeted down to the penny so hubby says it’s a casserole kind of night. We have found that an all in one dish (veggies, proteins, fats etc) are typically really satisfying and easy on the pocketbook. He began a search of the web for some type of a casserole, and he came up with quite a few different possibilities. As he was sharing all of these, I said why not some Chicken Divan over some rice. It can be quick and easy, or you can take the route we did by creating our own chicken broth and boiling the chicken. Ok, so on to the old fashioned goodness of chicken, broccoli and cheese, a casserole that should be able to satisfy even the pickiest of eaters. The recipe itself doesn’t take long at all, a little chopping cooked chicken and broccoli and that is really it. We ended up adding a little homemade extra this time, we bought the chicken breasts and boiled them in water, bouillon, fresh carrots & celery and some additional seasonings. Once the chicken was cooked through, we allowed to cool entirely in the refrigerator before cutting. This was really an easy version of chicken divan and was very rich and creamy tasting with regard to the sauce. I really liked the use of the cream of chicken soup – it wasn’t too overwhelming or bland but really enhanced the chicken flavors. We also opted to use fresh broccoli florets, and because we doubled the recipe it took a head and a half of fresh broccoli to cut and steam. This made a lot and everyone, kiddos included, approved. Typically I would boil up some white Minute Rice to put the chicken divan on top of, but I can’t remember the last time I used the quick stuff and was not surprised that I had none on hand. We ended up using a plain basmati rice, cooked according to package directions – and the texture was nice with the more firm basmati rice. Made for a awesome, all thumbs up dinner....