Baked Rigatoni with Brussels Sprouts, Figs and Blue Cheese – The Food Matters Project

I have been a big fan of Mark Bittman for a number of years.  I particularly like his ability to convey to the cook many ways to make the same recipe.  This attitude was great for me tonight when I thought I was baking the above recipe, only to find that I could not get most of the ingredients.

I have not seen gluten-free rigatoni so I subbed in penne.  Although, I am sure, kosher blue cheese is available, I have not seen it locally.  We are not fans of figs so I subbed apples which were great.  Finally and unbelievably, the local stores were out of brussels sprouts.  I called my daughter and asked her to look around and she also could not locate any.

I guess, I proved that you can  change the ingredients and come out with a facsimile of the original.

I feel particularly bad because this is the first time, I cooked with the foodies of The Food Matters Project.  This group is cooking their way through Mark Bittman’s, The Food Matters.   If you are interested, get the book and join us.

Marcia from Twenty by Sixty chose the  Baked Rigatoni with Brussels Sprouts, Figs, and Blue Cheese (page 221), in The Food Matters.   You will find the recipe on her blog.

Marcia shares her hesitation selecting this recipe which about describes my initial reaction.  Figs? Blue Cheese? Pasta? and Brussels Sprouts?  They just shouldn’t go together but I gather they did and did so beautifully.

My combination of broccoli, Monterey Jack, Apples and Penne also worked although I didn’t believe it.  The almonds seemed to disappear into the dish and it was not until the end that I found one. This is unique but trusting Mark Bittman helps.  I had to believe the recipe was good.

Check out the other cooks at The Food Matters Project.

Baked Eggy Broccoli Cuties

 
Yep, I adore little servings and search for ways to make something in a muffin tin or ramekin.  Usually, it includes cheese, potatoes, eggs and vegetables, in different ways.  What I am finding, is that almost anything cooks into a dish, if you  have a sense of what is necessary to make something blend together.
 
My dish was the result of finding a few bags of frozen broccoli, hiding in my freezer, behind sundry other items.  It has to be used and not as a side dish.  There is plenty of time to add broccoli to a meal.  I thought about a custard type dish with the broccoli and a mashed potato dish with small pieces of broccoli and red pepper mixed in.  Finally, I took some ingredients out and decided to put them together to make a meal.
 
Baked Eggy Broccoli Cuties  (I know it is a silly name.)
 
Ingredients:
 
1/2 a bag of frozen broccoli, chopped into rather small pieces
6 eggs
4 ounces cream cheese
1/3 cup gouda
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
 
Procedure:
 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease 3 ramekins with spray olive oil.
Microwave broccoli for 1 minute.  Put aside.
In a large bowl, beat eggs and add cheese and seasoning.
Cover bottom of ramekins with broccoli pieces (use about a third of the total.)
Mix another third in the cheese mixture and pour on top of broccoli in ramekins.
Top with remaining broccoli.  Push down a little since you want it to become part of the baked eggs.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes or until top is set and nicely browned (light brown).
 
 See Ya in the Gumbo             Mangia Mondays            My Meatless Mondays       Savory Sundays      Tuesday’s Tasty Tidbits    What Makes You Say MMMMM      Trick or Treat Tuesday   Cast Party Wednesday    Newlywed Recipe Linky

Creamy Cheesy Potato Soup – Wins Awards from Me

I have been making potato soup for quite a while.  Potato soup is the ultimate comfort soup, rich and creamy.  I decided to add cream cheese to my recipe.  Since, I have made mac and cheese and put a little cream cheese in to discover that the creaminess of the dish multiplied, I am adding cream cheese to everything.  It seems to have worked again.

This soup, most likely, should have been blended a little but we like chunky so I cut my potatoes small and left the solids swimming in the white ocean.  If you like smooth and creamy, an immersion blender, should do the trick.  I had leftover soup and have been having a cup  a day, since making it and it gets better and better.  I really love this soup.

This recipe was inspired by  Quick Cooking November/December 2003 — The original recipe had ham in it, used one kind of cheese, cream cheese, and used less onion plus other minor differences.

Creamy Cheesy Potato Soup

Ingredients

4 cups water

1 cup vegetable broth

1 packages (8 ounces ) cream cheese, cubed

1 cup shredded white Cheddar cheese

3 large potatoes, cubed

1 cup chopped onion

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon dill weed

scallions, chopped


MethodIn a large saucepan, combine the water and bouillon.Add cream cheese; cook and stir until cheese is melted.In a large skillet, heat oil and cook onions, on low for about 15 minutes until the onion is translucent.Stir the onion and remaining ingredients into the soup.Bring to a boil.Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 18-20 minutes or until vegetables are tender.  Sprinkle with chopped scallions.

This is linked to Sunday Night Soup Night     $5 Dinners     This week’s Cravings        Real Food Wednesdays                 Permanent Posies    Pennywise Platter                           Melt in Your Mouth Mondays

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Four Cheese Stuffed Shells

I thought, I was going to make lasagna and cheesecake for our family party and filled my refrigerator with cream cheese, cottage cheese, ricotta and farmer cheese plus Cheddar, Mozzarella and Parmesan and miscellaneous favorite cheeses.  We didn’t make lasagna nor cheesecake.  Instead, I made cottage cheese latkes and bagels and lox.  Dessert was chocolate cake and cookies.

Are you picturing my refrigerator now?  You are right; it is filled with cheeses from top to bottom.  I am planning lots of dairy dishes in the next days.  We  love dairy meals so that is not a problem.  I still, I can’t imagine using up all that cheese.  I started with one meal, stuffed shells.  I added some cream cheese to make it creamier than usual and I like the addition.

Four Cheese Stuffed Shells

Ingredients

1 box large pasta shells, cooked al dente (according to package directions)

1 cup cottage cheese or ricotta

1 cup whipped cream cheese

1/2 cup Parmesan

1 cup mozzarella, shredded

1 egg

1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Cheese School 101

1 jar Marinara sauce (I did not use the entire bottle – make it as saucy as you like)

extra shredded mozzarella to top casserole

 

Procedure

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine cheeses in large bowl.  Mix together so that you have a creamy cheese mixture.  Add egg to the cheese and mix until incorporated.  Add seasoning and mix well.

I have some odd-shaped dishes but the closest standard size is a 9 x 13 baking pan.  Cover the bottom with a thin layer of marinara sauce and put aside.

Spoon cheese mixture into shells and place each shell into baking pan.  When shells are positioned, pour as much sauce as you like on pasta.  Add shredded mozzarella cheese on top.

Place in 350 degree oven for 45 minutes.  I keep checking to make sure the cheese does not burn.

We find this to be a hearty dish and a side of salad is satisfying for us.

 

Vegetable Pizza Puffs

Tonight, I was making an eggplant dish and usually with this, we have rice and a salad.  The timing of my meal was completely off.  I didn’t know how long the eggplant had to be baked and realized, I could do whatever I wanted with the extra half an hour.  I always have a bunch of papers, on the kitchen table, with recipes that I want to make pronto.  Usually, “pronto” is a long time coming.  I don’t know about any of you but I bookmark and print up many too many recipes, probably more than I could make in a month or even a year.  So much looks delicious or interesting or challenging. I want to indulge in all of these interesting, challenging and delicious looking recipes.  The ones, I am referring to are ones, I find online, whether on a blog or a food site.

Of course, there are the cookbooks and my collection has grown since I started blogging.  Actually, this is my second collection.  When I first got married and through the first two kids, I had a collection of those years.  So much has changed in cooking that I finally gave these books away and kept a few special ones.  When, I became a blogger, I knew I was in the wrong place.  Who was Tyler Frances, Bobby Gray, even my favorite Dorie Greenspan.  Yes, I did know who Martha Stewart was but that was more her notoriety than her cooking and crafting.  I was a dud in knowledge.

I could cook but I didn’t use avocados or fresh ginger.  What was kale or spaghetti squash?  Oil – there was vegetable oil and that was it.  I was definitely challenged as a blogger.

I cooked for years and actually cooked a lot.  I even baked everything that came my way.  My yeast breads and rolls were delicious.  Applesauce was a treat.  Cakes and cookies reigned.  Salads were limited to macaroni salad, potato salad and three bean salad.  Stop laughing, please.

We had company at least, weekly and I made gigantic meals.  Despite all of this, I knew little.

Let’s get back to my kitchen table and the top recipe which  is these Pizza Puffs.  Actually the recipe is called Pepperoni Pizza Puffs but as a kosher Mom,  we do not use milk and meat together.  (short explanation)  Out went the pepperoni and in came the vegetables.  I found this in Lynda’s Recipe Box.  If you would like to see here which are different because of the ingredients and because of the shape, stop on over and see what else she has to offer, while you are there.

Vegetable Pizza Puffs

Pepperoni Pizza Puffs(adapted from Lynda’s Recipe Box)

Ingredients

3/4 cup gluten -free flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup milk- (I only use 1 percent)
1 egg, beaten
4 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
4 ounces mixture of green pepper, tomatoes and onions
1/2 teaspoon  Italian seasoning and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup pizza sauce warmed

Procedure:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a bowl add the flour and baking powder.

 Stir in the milk and the beaten egg, and then the mozzarella, seasoning and vegetables.

Let the batter rest for 10 minutes.  (I admit it.  I didn’t do this.)

Spray a 12 count  muffin pan with cooking spray. Stir the batter and then spoon mixture evenly into each muffin cup.

Bake for 25 minutes until golden. Remove Pizza Puffs to a plate and serve with warmed pizza sauce for dipping.

We ate them plain, in our hands.  No sauce.

This had a great taste to it.  I ate it while talking to my brother and didn’t pay attention but I remember the first bite got an exclamation, “This is good.”  These are easy to make and versatile to use.

This is linked tTuesday’s Tasty Tidbits                       Healthy 2day Wednesdays!
Totally Tasty Tuesdays         Chef in Training         All the Small Stuff           Tuesday To Do Party      Mangia Mondays    Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays      Muffin Mondays               Hearth and Soul       Makin’ You Crave Monday         Pennywise Platter Thursday

Penne Rigate Macaroni and Cheeses

The Penne dish was scheduled for Monday and it feels good to have accomplished sticking to my schedule.  Tuesday is also as planned.

I made many changes to this dish.  The most obvious one is that I used gluten-free penne.  I also had to substitute some of the cheese, using Pizza flavored cheese for the Muenster and using yellow Cheddar in place of white.  I could not use bread crumbs so I used processed Rice Chex, an idea I got from another gluten-free cook.

I was fortunate to find this recipe online.  I was prepared to type it out, from my book, Not Your Mother’s Weeknight Cooking.

Penne Rigate Macaroni and Cheeses   (adapted)

Ingredients

  • 3/4 pound penne rigate or mostaccioli
  • 1 2/3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1  cups milk
  • 1  cups half-and-half (can be reduced-fat)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 ounces pizza flavored cheese, diced
  • 4 ounces cheddar, diced
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, diced
  • 1 16 ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1  egg beater or 2 egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup ground Rice Crispies or bread crumbs

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions, taking care not to overcook because it will cook more in the oven. Drain and set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of the milk.
  4. In a deep saucepan, whisk together the remaining 1 cup and 2 tablespoons milk, the half-and-half, and 2 tablespoons olive oil and bring to a low boil. Add the cornstarch mixture and whisk constantly over medium heat until thickened.
  5. Lower the heat to the lowest setting and add the cheeses, one at a time, and leave on the lowest heat to melt slowly, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Remove from the heat and add the egg yolks one at a time, stirring constantly.
  6. Place the cooked pasta in a 2 1/2- to 3-quart baking dish or oversized gratin dish. Place one-third of the pasta in the dish, then pour over one-third of the sauce. Make two more layers, then top with the crumbs and dot with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil.
  7. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until browned and bubbling around the edges. Serve immediately.
 “Excerpted from Not Your Mother’s Weeknight Cooking, by Beth Hensperger, © 2008, and used by permission of The Harvard Common Press.”

This is linked to Daily Organized Chaos
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Noodles Romanoff Not

Tonight, I threw out my menu plan for the week. I walked in the door, after work and all I could think of was noodles.  Thai noodles, Fettuccine Alfredo, Spaghetti and Meatballs, Pasta with Broccoli, Stuffed Shells.  Yes, we had pasta for dinner.

My initial plan was to make Noodles Romanoff and you will see elements of the dish but the results are based on my, “take a little of this and a little of that” and there is dinner.  Fortunately, I had plenty of cheese, sour cream, Ricotta, cream cheese and most important, smoked salmon.  I also had fettuccine.

An aside:  I discoved a pizza flavored cheese that I have added to many dishes and it is good.  I did not use it, in this.

I had the makings of a nice salad to go with it, greens, tomato, yellow pepper, dressing and feta cheese.  This is a good mix.

Noodles Romanoff, Not……..

8 ounces fettuccine  (gluten-free)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1/4 pound of lox (smoked salmon)

3/4 cup sour cream (low-fat)

3/4 whipped cream cheese (low-fat)

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

2 drops of Cayenne (liquid form)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon chives

1/2 cup cream

1/4 cup water from drained noodles

Method:

Cook noodles, according to directions.  Drain, keeping some of the water that the pasta was cooked in.

In a medium skillet, in one tablespoon olive oil, lightly brown onions and smoked salmon.

In a medium bowl, mix sour cream, cream cheese, cream, chives, Cayenne, Worcestershire,  and salt.  Mix together.

Add salmon and onions to cheese mixture.

Add pasta and mix together.  That is all.  You are ready to serve your Noodles Romanoff  Not.

I served this with a salad but it would go well with broccoli or spinach or green beans.

This is linked to WanderFood Wednesday  Meatless Mondays

Baby Grilled Cheese Sandwiches — Emeril

Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Image by powerplantop via Flickr

I have some challah in the house.  This is not just challah, not is it just bread.  It is challah coated with onion, garlic, sesame seeds and other seasonings.  It is absolutely filled with flavor, the way it is.  To add scallion cream cheese to it and cook it, makes it a magic meal.  I had, in the back of my mind to add sliced tomato to this sandwich to give it more flavor.  While that would have been good, it was not needed.  The only thing, I did wrong was not to make enough.  We never eat more than two sandwiches and I don’t eat more than one but with two, I could have eaten more.  Since, it is cooked on the stove, it was easy and fast.  Actually, mine browned too much but if it burned, I could not taste it.

The shape of my bread is rather ugly because this was a pull-apart round challah and most of the challah had been eaten.  I was cutting slices from round and ragged edges.  I certainly don’t care but I feel badly showing you such a luscious sandwich in such bad shape.

I adapted this from Emeril, my chef for the week.  I had no mascarpone cheese and since the cheese already had scallions in it, I did add the chives.  I also cut the amount of butter used in this recipe.

Although this sandwich needs nothing, it is open to lots of additions, if wanted.  Spice the cream cheese.  Add fresh vegetables and herbs.  Make it your own creation.

 

Baby Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons cream cheese, at room temperature
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 thin slices challah
Directions

In a small bowl, blend together the cream cheese and salt. Spread the mixture on 4 slices of the bread and top with the remaining bread. Spread  1/2 teaspoon of the butter on each side of each sandwich.

Heat a griddle or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 sandwiches and cook until golden brown, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per side. Remove and repeat with the remaining sandwiches. Cut each sandwich into 2 triangles. Serve immediately.

Baby Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

 

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
  • 1 teaspoon minced chives
  • Pinch salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 8 thin slices brioche, or homemade style bread, crusts removed

Instructions

In a small bowl, blend together the cream cheese, mascarpone, chives, and salt. Spread the mixture on 4 slices of the bread and top with the remaining bread. Spread 1 1/2 teaspoons of the butter on each side of each sandwich.

Heat a griddle or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 sandwiches and cook until golden brown, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per side. Remove and repeat with the remaining sandwiches. Cut each sandwich into 2 triangles. Serve immediately.

 

 

Easy Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant

Image via Wikipedia

I hate to admit that I have had this eggplant for almost two weeks and it looks a little worse for its rest.  I planned to make it two weeks ago and it didn’t happen.  This week, I took it seriously and made sure, it happened, but I wanted to put it off.  I took out all the other ingredients before I brought forth the eggplant.  I was fighting hard.  I looked at everything and thought, I could make lasagna or stuffed shells.  I could make a spaghetti pie. Finally, I straightened my back and greeted my eggplant.

The question is why did I procrastinate making it.  I think it is a subliminal thing.  I think eggplant, and my inner being says, “Ugh.”  It is true, I don’t like gushy eggplant but I really do like it breaded and baked or in this case, fried and baked.  So, why do I still push away the eggplant and choose something else to make?  If I had an answer, I would share it with you.

I must also share, this was one of the best dishes, we have had recently and we have been eating very well.  It was a good week, perhaps because, all meals were dairy and if I put a little effort into a dairy meal, it is usually delicious.  These were.  If I made dairy meals, all the time, we would be happy foodies and a lot heavier in weight.

This recipe was really easy unless you don’t like the breading and frying.  I don’t like it for health reasons but I don’t mind doing it.  This went quickly.  It is a straight forward recipe and I was done before I knew it.

Easy Eggplant Parmesan

(Kosher Food @ About.com)  (I made some changes to the recipe.)

Ingredients

  • 1 large eggplant

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 cup crumbs, I made from Rice Chex  (use Panko crumbs – that would work beautifully)

  • 1/2 cup oil  (add if you need more…..I started with less and added a tablespoon when it was getting dry)

  • 12 ounces  spaghetti sauce

  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

  • 1/3 pound  Mozzarella cheese, shredded

Procedure

1. Peel eggplant. Cut eggplant into 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices.

2. Dip each slice of eggplant into eggs and then crumbs.

3. Saute breaded eggplant slices until brown on both sides.

4. Preheat oven to 350° F .

5. In a baking dish, spread spaghetti sauce to cover the bottom. Place a layer of eggplant slices in the sauce. Sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Repeat with remaining ingredients, ending with the cheeses.

6. Bake, uncovered, at 350° F  for 30 minutes, or until cheese is melted.Next time, I think, I will skip the frying and go right to the baking.  We don’t need all that fat.  I have made other recipes without the frying and they were fine.

Cheese & Nut Stuffed Shells

    There has been a change in cooking, recently (meaning years) and we see  nuts and cheese and fruits and vegetables being thrown into dishes, probably new to us.  This meal is a good example.  The nuts are added and that crunch that comes with these nuts makes a difference in the texture, thus in the entire dish.  Using the Mexican blend in place of mozzarella also made a taste difference.  I thought my stuffed shells were good but they don’t compare to this recipe.  The fresh parsley also makes a difference.

I made a salad with this, romaine, garden tomatoes, goat cheese with herbs, basil and oregano rice vinegar and a bit of sugar.  A few years ago, there would have been no goat cheese.  Lettuce and Tomato make a fine salad without it but how much better it is, with it.

Cheese & Nut Stuffed Shells  (adapted - CD Kitchen)

Ingredients

12 dried jumbo shell macaroni pasta
1 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 carton (15 ounce size) ricotta cheese
3/4 cup shredded Mexican cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon snipped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/16 teaspoon ground nutmeg
13 ounces marinara  pasta sauce

PREPARATION

Cook pasta shells according to package directions. Drain shells; rinse with cold water and drain well. Set shells aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Meanwhile, for filling, in a large bowl stir together the eggs, ricotta cheese, 1 cup of the mozzarella, 3/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese, the walnuts, parsley, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

Spread 1 cup of the pasta sauce in the bottom of a 3-quart baking dish. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of filling into each cooked shell. Arrange filled shells in the baking dish. Pour remaining sauce over shells. Sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Bake, covered, about 45 minutes or until heated through.