Thursday, October 24, 2013

Almost Famous Italian Nachos

I love Italian food....if you have ever eaten and Carino's Italian restaurant's they have these wonderful Italian nachos made with pasta dough, sausage, chicken, Pepperoncini peppers, red bell peppers, mozzerella cheese and drizzled with an Alfredo sauce..Need I say more??? We ALWAYS get those for an appetizer. Delicious!! I found a few different recipes for these on the Internet ... how easy are these made with wonton wrappers!!? YUM! I kind of made up my own from what other recipes had done. You can make as many or as few as you want... just depends on how many wonton wrappers you use. I did a whole package and had enough Nacho's to fill a big baking sheet with a 2nd layer on the top! Also you can use either cooked chicken or hot Italian sausage or as I like to do , use both! These are good to share with friends, or make a small batch to indulge yourself with...anyway you eat them they are good! Enjoy!!

Almost Famous Italian Nachos
For the Sauce:
2 Tablespoon butter
1 heaping teaspoon minced garlic
2 Tablespoons Flour
1 cup Half and Half (or milk)
1 cup Heavy Cream
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese
Salt and Pepper
Dash of ground Nutmeg

Wonton wrappers, cut in half to make triangles
Cooked chicken, sliced really thin or shredded
Cooked HOT Italian sausage
Roasted Red Bell Peppers, diced
Pepperoncini Peppers
Olives, sliced thin
Tomatoes, diced
Parmesan Cheese
Mozzarella Cheese
Oil for frying wontons (canola or peanut)
(These are just suggested toppings, feel free to ad lib with whatever you like)

First make the sauce:
In small sauce pan over medium heat; start to melt the butter, add the garlic and stir until the butter is completely melted and the garlic is fragrant. Whisk in the flour and continue to stir until it is incorporated into the butter and slightly golden. Next, whisk in the half n' half and cream, bring this JUST to a boil and turn down to a simmer for 8 minutes or until thickened slightly. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and the seasonings (add just a dash or two of the salt and pepper and adjust to taste) stir until incorporated.

Fry the Wontons:
Heat oil in a large skillet or dutch oven (oil should be about 2 inches deep) over medium high heat. Once oil is hot, add the wontons 1 at a time until you have about 5 or 6 in your pot. Allow to cook until barely golden, flip and cook again. Watch these closely ! it only takes a few seconds for them to get slightly golden. Drain on paper towel. Continue until you have the desired amount of wonton chips.

To assemble:
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place your wonton chips in a single layer on the baking sheet. Sprinkle the chicken, sausage, peppers, olives, and mozzarella cheese over your nachos. Place this under your broiler until the cheese is completely melted about 3 to 5 minutes (Watch close, will melt fast once it starts, you don't want your chips to burn). Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the tomatoes and Parmesan cheese. Before serving or with individual servings, drizzle the hot Alfredo sauce over the nachos.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Baked Penne Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes

Isn't Autumn time the perfect time to start making casseroles again... Love casseroles, especially with pasta. Nothing spells 'comfort food' to me better than a pasta dish.... I ran across this recipe on the Internet (probably pinterest) and since it had Zucchini in it which I had from my garden that I needed to use up, I thought I'd give it a try. The original recipe is here but as usual I tweaked it a bit. It calls for canned fire roasted tomatoes, but I had a ton just harvested from my garden so I put about 6 larger Roma tomatoes on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and roasted for 20 minutes at 375 degrees. I let them cool and then diced them in my food processor. YUM! But feel free to use the canned tomatoes called for :) This was a YUMMO casserole and since it has lots of veggies already in it, I served with a crusty french bread. Enjoy!

Baked Penne Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes
1  to 2 pounds lean ground beef (I like lots of hamburger in this... I think I used 1-1/2 pounds)
1 large onion, diced
2 teaspoons minced garlic (or 2 cloves, finely chopped)
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 medium zucchini, cut in half lengthwise then sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/2 jar Paul Newman's Sockarooni Spaghetti Sauce (LOVE this sauce! you can freeze the rest for use in something else later) or you can use 1 (15 oz can) regular tomato sauce)
1 (14-1/2 oz) can fire roasted tomatoes (or your own tomatoes--see notes above)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
8 ounces Penne pasta (or any kind of pasta you like- about 3 cups dried)
1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Spray a 2 quart rectangular glass baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
Cook pasta according to package directions, drain, and set aside
In a large skillet, cook beef, onion, garlic and bell pepper over medium heat stirring frequently, until beef is browned and cooked through. Add Zucchini and cook for 2 to 3 minutes longer.
Stir in tomatoes, Sockarooni sauce, oregano, basil, parsley and salt and pepper. Heat to boiling.

Toss pasta into your sauce mixture. Spread in baking dish, cover with foil, and bake for 20 minutes.

 Uncover and sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 5 more minutes or until cheese is melted.

**you can add roasted jalapenos or green chili's for a little more kick if desired. I had roasted jalapeno's from my garden so I chopped 2 or 3 up and threw in along with the green pepper. Or you can add a small can of diced green chili's.

Friday, October 11, 2013

my new favorite Granola recipe

I have experimented on granola recipes lately. My hubby likes to take it to work for a snack and I like it for a quick pick me up after work or for breakfast. Some recipes I haven't really liked, so I always fall back on my granola recipe that I have already posted. But my hubby ran across this one and I tried it and LOVED it. It does have a lot of ingredients, but it's so worth it. Makes a rather large batch, but keeps in Ziploc bags, rather well and for quite a while. I tweaked the recipe just a bit, mine seemed dry so I added more honey. I'm posting the way I made it. And just a note... I had a hard time finding Oat bran... so I bought cracklin' Oat bran cereal and crushed up in a baggie with my rolling pin...worked great and I think added flavor LOL! (the things you try when you can't find an ingredient!)Enjoy!!

Yummo Granola
8 cups Old Fashioned oats, (UNCOOKED)
1-1/2 cups wheat germ
1-1/2 cups oat bran (or use crushed cracklin' Oat bran like I did)
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup chopped almonds (I bought the slivered ones and chopped those
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup chopped walnuts
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 cup honey
1 cup vegetable oil (I used grape seed oil... I just think it's better for you)
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup raisins
1 cup dried cranberries (Craisins)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
In a large mixing bowl combine the oats, wheat germ, oat bran, sunflower seeds, almonds, pecans, and walnuts. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, whisk together the salt, brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, oil, cinnamon, and vanilla. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then pour over the dry ingredients, and stir to coat the oats well. Spread the mixture out onto the baking sheets evenly.
Bake in the preheated oven until crispy and toasted, about 20 minutes. Stir after the first 10 minutes. Keep an eye on on this after about 15 minutes cooking time, it will brown really quick when it gets going (as you can see by my pic, mine got a little toasty but still good).
Cool, then stir in the raisins and cranberries before storing in an airtight container. I store mine in 2 gallon size ziploc baggies.
This is great as a snack, or eaten like cereal with milk. But my favorite thing to do is make a parfait with berries, then yogurt then a spoonful or two of granola layered in a glass... YUMMO!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Pumpkin SnickerDoodles

I LOVE Snickerdoodles! I ran across this recipe on Pinterest and just had to try it out. With Autumn in the air and leaves falling all around, it's the perfect time to bake. I love that these snickerdoodles have pumpkin in them YUM! It's not a strong pumpkin flavor but it's good for a change in a Snickerdoodle. I tweaked the recipe just a bit....I added Cream of Tartar since I think that is what makes a Snickerdoodle a Snickerdoodle... and of coarse I added Cinnamon Chips. The way these cookies make your house smell while baking is perfect for Autumn time... makes you feel ready for the Holidays almost. Enjoy!!

Pumpkin SnickerDoodles
Yield: 3 dozen cookies

For the cookies:

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 cup pure unsweetened pumpkin puree
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup Hershey's Cinnamon chips

For the coating:
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon allspice

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt, ground cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside.
In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to cream the butter and sugars until fluffy (about 2 to 3 minutes). Add pumpkin puree and beat well. Mix in egg and vanilla, scraping down sides of the bowl to incorporate all of the ingredients.
Stir in the cinnamon chips.

Cover dough with plastic and chill at least an hour, or until dough becomes slightly firm.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper (or spray with nonstick spray). Mix coating sugar ingredients in a small bowl.
Remove cookie dough from refrigerator. Use a medium cookie scoop (1 1/2 Tablespoons) or a large spoon to scoop out dough and roll into balls. Use your hands to roll the balls in the cinnamon sugar and make sure they're coated really well. Place 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Use a glass with a nice, flat bottom to dip in sugar and flatten the balls.
Bake at 350°F. for 8 to 10 minutes, or until they are slightly firm to the touch. Let cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes or so, then remove them to a wire rack to cool completely.

*Store in an airtight container. These cookies freeze well too. Place them in freezer zip bag and remove from freezer when the craving hits.

Portabella Mushroom Tacos

I love tacos. My hubby and I thought it would be awesome to see if we could do a meatless Monday  and Portabella mushrooms have a grea...