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Monday, May 1, 2017

Recipe Review from 4/24/2017

We are at the three week "Puppy count down!"  A name for the little tyke is still undecided.

In the interim, weather is nice, then it snows.  Weather is nice, then it snows.  It's giving me a bit of whiplash because I just don't know what I should be wearing/bringing when I head out the door in the morning - winter coat and splashy boots?  Light jacket?  All the above?

Soon, soon it will be nice.  Or so I keep telling myself. 

The Meal Plan from week of 4/24
Sun (L)  leftover wild rice dish  (S)  Slow cooked baked Ziti
Mon (yoga, bookgroup, legion mtgs)
Tues (yoga PM)  leftover baked Ziti
Wed - Shrimp Paella
Thurs (Ruffed Grouse Banquet) leftovers
Fri (yoga AM)  leftovers
Sat (Memorial Service in Cambridge)

Slow Cooked Baked Ziti (modified from ATK Slow Cooker Revolution)
The recipe title is actually Baked Ziti with Pepperoni, Mushrooms and Ricotta, but I subbed italian sausage for the pepperoni, and cottage cheese for the ricotta.  The Italian sausage was intentional, the cottage cheese a last minute "oops".  I think I had intended to make my own ricotta, but forgot to buy the milk.

I really enjoyed this dish.  This could be done in the oven just as easily as the slow cooker, but the slow cooker had its advantages like being able to walk away for three hours.  I have written the recipe to include my modifications, so you could make it either way.   My one take heed!  would be WATCH THE COOKING TIME.  I didn't do a full three hours, and that was even with cooking on the "Low" setting.

End result?  A hearty, easy baked pasta.  Serve with a salad or some crusty bread.  Recommended. 

2 onions, minced
10 oz white mushrooms (I used cremini), trimmed and sliced
1 green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch pieces (I used a red pepper)
4 garlic cloves
1 tbsp fresh oregano or 1 tsp dried oregano
1 (28-oz) can crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup heavy cream (I used 1/2 n 1/2)
8 oz ziti (I used penne)
6 oz sliced pepperoni  (I used 8 oz ground Italian sausage)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 (15-oz) can tomato suace
1 cup (8 oz) ricotta cheese  (I used cottage cheese)
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

1.  Line slow cooker with an aluminum foil collar and coat with vegetable spray.

1a.  IF using Italian sausage, heat oil in a medium saute skillet over medium high heat.  Add sausage, crumbling and cook until just lightly browned.  Remove from pan and set aside to drain on a paper towel.  

1b. Heat oil in a medium saute skillet over medium high heat. Add onions, mushrooms, bell pepper, garlic, and oregano and cook until vegetables are just softened.

2. Stir in tomatoes and cream (or half n half), scraping up any browned bits, and simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes.  Stir in ziti [pepperoni if using] salt and pepper.

3. Transfer mixture to prepared sow cooker and spread tomato sauce evenly over pasta.  Cover and cook until pasta is tender, about 3 hours on high [low] (I used low heat and it was perfectly done).

4. Remove foil collar.  Gently stir pasta, adding hot water as needed to loosen sauce consistency.   (I didn't do this bit, pasta was almost over cooked at this point and I didn't want to turn it into mush).  Dollop spoonfuls of ricotta (cottage cheese) over casserole, then sprinkle with mozzarella.  Cover and let sit until cheese is melted, about 5 minutes.  Sprinkle with basil.

Shrimp Paella (Ckng Lght, May 2015)   vegetarian option
This comes together rather quickly BUT, I do have some notes on assembly:  I have no idea what pre-cooked brown rice is (and I'm not the only person to question Cooking Light on this).  I use the 10 minute instant and make four servings.   I make the rice ahead of time (day before is best) because it seems to cook better once I start adding it to the pan.  I used a pea and carrot mix because that's what I had on hand - peas, mixed veggies, whatever you have in the freezer

For a weeknight dish, this was just about perfect - keeping in mind I had to cook my rice, but that allowed me to prep everything else.  This makes enough for four servings, and would freeze nicely.  For a vegetarian dish, omit the shrimp and add extra veggies. 

2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 cup frozen green peas (I used carrots and peas)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 (8.8-oz.) pkg. precooked brown rice (such as Uncle Ben's)
(I used the equivalent of 4 servings of instant rice, cooked)
3 tablespoons unsalted chicken stock (such as Swanson)  (I used water)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
12 ounces frozen medium shrimp, thawed, peeled, and deveined** to make vegetarian, skip shrimp, add some blanched cauliflower or broccoli)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice  (oops!  Forgot!)

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add turmeric; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add bell pepper, peas, and garlic to pan; cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stir in rice; spread in an even layer. Cook, without stirring, 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Stir in stock, salt, and pepper. Spread rice mixture in an even layer in pan. Cook, without stirring, 7 minutes. 
Arrange shrimp on top of rice mixture; cover and cook 3 to 4 minutes or until shrimp are done. Drizzle lemon juice over pan. Serve immediately.

Banana Chocolate Chip Brunch Cake (Ckng Lght May 2005)
I wanted something a bit different for my March Operations Meeting - I've been making the Chocolate Oatmeal cake which the guys love, but I had some banana's in the freezer and a hankering for banana bread or cake with chocolate chips.

This recipe came up on a last minute search (I forgot to look ahead of time and was sitting in the parking lot trying to find a chocolate cake recipe, I love smartphones...) and fit my mood perfectly.

This came together very quickly and I only altered slightly - I added about 1/8 tsp ground cloves and 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg.  Like I noted above, my banana's were frozen and very ripe - they ended up being mush, which I personally think makes a better banana bread.  I did measure, and four banana's gave me 1 1/2 cup mashed (very runny). 

Baking time was almost 45 minutes for my oven and humidity.

Mixed results?  This is more dense than I had anticipated.  The guys in the meeting came back for seconds so I didn't sense any disappointment there, but they could have just been polite.  I think the husband found it too dense and a tich dry for his preference.  I'm...mixed thoughts?  I would probably make this again tho.   

2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups mashed banana (about 3 large)
1/4 cup fat-free milk
1 large egg
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped and divided  (I used 10oz Ghiridelli bittersweet chips, 60% cacao; 4 oz in the cake)
Cooking spray
8 teaspoons hot water
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk.
  3. Combine banana, milk, and egg, stirring until well blended. Add banana mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Gently fold in half of chocolate. Spoon batter into a 9-inch round cake pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 35 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 5 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely.
  4. Combine remaining chocolate and hot water in a small microwave-safe bowl; microwave at high 30 seconds or until almost melted. Stir until smooth. Drizzle glaze over cooled cake.

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