Sunday, November 30, 2008

Turkey-Spinach Lasagna

There are many versions of turkey-spinach lasagna floating around, but this is the one that found its way into my recipe binder. I printed this recipe a few years ago from the Cooking Light website and last night was the second time I've made the dish. Our friends Jamie and Dave were coming over for dinner and I wanted something warm and comforting for a cold November night. Plus Jamie and Dave are both fans of turkey and spinach, so I knew this would be perfect. I made a few changes to the original recipe. I used fat free ricotta in place of the cottage cheese because, while I love cottage cheese on its own I find it strange in pasta dishes. I also added some more spices - red pepper flakes to the turkey as it browned and garlic powder and oregano to the cheese and spinach mixture. I used no-boil lasagna noodles and they were perfect. The lasagna came out perfectly set, creamy and delicious. A great comfort food meal!

Turkey-Spinach Lasagna

Cooking spray
1 pound ground turkey breast
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 (26-ounce) jars low-fat marinara sauce
1 (16-ounce) carton fat-free ricotta
1/4 cup egg substitute
1/4 cup (1 ounce) preshredded fresh Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon oregano
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
8 cooked lasagna noodles
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350°.
Coat a large skillet with cooking spray, and place over medium-high heat until hot. Add turkey, onion,red pepper flakes and garlic; cook until meat is browned, stirring to crumble. Add 5 3/4 cups marinara sauce; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
Combine ricotta cheese, egg substitute, Parmesan, parsley, pepper, garlic powder, oregano and spinach; stir well. Spread remaining marinara sauce in bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange 4 noodles over marinara; top with cottage cheese mixture and half of the mozzarella.

Spoon half of the turkey mixture over the mozzarella. Arrange the remaining noodles over turkey mixture. Top with remaining turkey mixture and mozzarella.
Bake at 350° for 50 minutes or until cheese melts and sauce is bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Chocolate Gooey Butter Cookies

Being a baker, I'd of course heard about Paula Deen's famous gooey butter cake recipe, although I had never tried it. I had never heard about gooey butter cookies, however, until I spotted this recipe on my friend Colleen's blog. My mom makes Thanksgiving dinner every year and never needs me to bring anything, but I always like to make a little something to add to the feast - usually a dessert. The only dessert my mom serves at our little Thanksgiving dinner is pumpkin pie, and since it's the only time of year I eat pumpkin pie, I don't mind that it's the only option. However, since I wanted to bake something, my mom asked for "something chocolate."

Side story: My sister LOVES pumpkin pie. Loves it. So my mom always makes a pie for us all to eat after dinner and a pie just for my sister. Each Black Friday morning you can find my sister staggering back up to her bedroom in her pjs carrying a whole pie, a fork and a can of whipped cream. I look forward to seeing it each year :)

Anyhow, back to the cookies. When my mom asked for her "something chocolate" I immediately thought of these cookies. I put the dough together Wednesday afternoon when I got home from work and baked them in them that night after dinner. These are SO easy - one bowl and five ingredients.

It is important to chill the dough for at least two hours, since it's very soft and you need to be able to roll them into balls. Mine rolled just fine and I covered some in powdered sugar as per the recipe, but I also rolled some in walnuts and some in coconut, since my mom and Nana are big coconut fans. These cookies also allowed me to use my the new sugar sifter I got from Jenny in the last What's Cooking gift exchange - thanks Jenny!

These are great cookies. Super chocolatey, soft and moist. Joe said they tasted like "pudding in cookie form." Give these a try when you're looking for a simple chocolate treat. Happy Thanksgiving!

Chocolate Gooey Butter Cookies

1 (8 ounce) brick cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick butter, room temperature
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (18 ounce) moist chocolate cake mix
confectioners'/powdered sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.In a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Beat in the egg. Then beat in the vanilla extract. Beat in the cake mix.Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours to firm up so that you can roll the batter into balls. Roll the chilled batter into tablespoon sized balls and then roll them in confectioner's sugar. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake 12 minutes. The cookies will remain soft and "gooey." Cool completely and sprinkle with more confectioners' sugar, if desired.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Pork and Vegetable Stir-Fry with Cashew Rice

Pork may be the other white meat, but it's not one I cook with very often. Aside from the occassional use of deli ham or my standard pork roast/pulled pork dinner, I usually stick to poultry, ground beef and seafood when I cook. However when this recipe popped into my inbox from I decided to give it a whirl. (I think I've mentioned it before, but the Dinner Tonight emails are great and definitely worth signing up for! I've made many of their recipes and they've really gotten me to try new things. Case in point.) I considered subbing chicken for the pork, but then decided to just bite the bullet and try something new. This recipe is great! It's super fast and full of flavor. I doubled the sauce since we like a lot, and I also make extra rice. I made a few changes based on our personal tastes, but otherwise followed the recipe. This was a delicious dinner, and perfect for someone who is not a huge fan of pork. (However, if you are really opposed to pork you could easily substitute chicken or shrimp). I served this with some pork and vegetable dumplings I picked up at the supermarket and everyone was happy. Joe asked that this be made again soon, and also that I start making more pork!

Pork and Vegetable Stir-Fry with Cashew Rice

3/4 cup uncooked long-grain rice (I used brown)
1/3 cup chopped green onions (I omitted)
1/4 cup dry-roasted cashews, salted and coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons cornstarch, divided
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce, divided
2 tablespoons honey
1 (1-pound) pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tablespoon canola oil, divided
2 cups sliced mushrooms (about 4 ounces)
1 cup chopped onion (I omitted)
1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger (I used ground)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups sugar snap peas, trimmed (about 6 ounces)
1 cup chopped red bell pepper (about 1) (I omitted)

Cook the rice according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Stir in 1/3 cup chopped green onions, chopped dry-roasted cashews, and salt; set aside, and keep warm.
Combine 2/3 cup chicken broth, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce, and honey in a small bowl, and set aside.
Combine pork, remaining 1 tablespoon cornstarch, and the remaining 1 tablespoon soy sauce in a bowl, tossing well to coat. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork; sauté 4 minutes or until browned. Remove from pan.
Add remaining 1 teaspoon oil to pan. Add mushrooms and 1 cup onion; sauté 2 minutes. Stir in ginger and garlic; sauté 30 seconds. Add peas and bell pepper to pan; sauté 1 minute. Stir in pork; sauté 1 minute. Add reserved broth mixture to pan. Bring to a boil; cook 1 minute or until thick, stirring constantly. Serve over cashew rice.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Vanishing Act

The first thing I ever baked for Joe, way back in high school when we first started dating, were Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies from the recipe on the side of the Quaker Oats container. Joe and his father LOVED those cookies and asked for them all the time. Eventually I branched out and started baking a variety of different things, and those oatmeal cookies sort of fell by the wayside. They popped into my head this past Sunday morning, however, and I decided to take a trip down memory lane and make Joe this treat. I wasn't feeling patient enough though to make batch after batch of cookies, so I visited the Quaker website and saw that the cookies could easily be made into bars, which is what I did. The bars are thick and moist with all the same fantastic flavor of their cookie counterparts. The house smelled amazing while they baked and Joe thoroughly enjoyed the bars. Sometimes you can't beat the "classics!"

Vanishing Oatmeal Cookie Bars

1/2 pound (2 sticks) margarine or butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
3 cups Quaker Oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
1 cup raisins

Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, beat margarine and sugars until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix well. Add oats and raisins; mix well. Press dough onto bottom of ungreased 13 x 9-inch baking pan. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars. Store tightly covered. Makes 24 bars.

Pasta e Fagioli

With the bitterly cold weather we've been having this week, soup seemed like the perfect choice for dinner this past Sunday. I had found this recipe on Tricia's blog and knowing that Joe likes pasta e fagioli it easily found a spot on my menu. And I'm glad it did - this soup was delicious! It's super easy to make and just requires about an hour total of simmering time. Be warned though - this makes a TON of soup. Joe and I each had a large bowl but ended up with two giant tupperwares full of leftovers. I shared some with my parents, but we are more than happy to eat the remainder for dinner again this week. Warm, hearty and full of flavor, this is just a great soup, especially when served with some crusty bread. I followed the recipe almost exactly, but found that I didn't have much liquid. I even added an extra can of beef broth and still had a very thick soup. Not a bad thing, but if you prefer more liquid in your soup you may want to cook the pasta separate and add it into the soup to prevent it from absorbing too much liquid. But don't wait to make this - especially on a cold evening!

Pasta e Fagioli (copy cat Olive Garden)

Cooking spray
1 lb. ground beef
1 small onion, diced
1/2 of a small 1 lb. bag of baby carrots, chopped
5 stalks of celery, diced (I omitted)
2 (14.5 oz.) cans of diced tomatoes
1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (32 oz.) carton + 1 (14.5 oz.) can of beef broth (I also used an additional can of beef broth)
1 1/2 tsp oregano
1 1/4 tsp pepper
2 1/2 tsp fresh parsley, chopped (I used dry)
3/4 tsp tabasco sauce
1 jar (1 lb. 10 oz.) spaghetti sauce
1 cup dry small pasta (such as ditalini or elbow macaroni)
salt to taste

Brown ground beef in oil. Drain if necessary.
Add onion, carrot, celery and diced tomatoes. Simmer 10 minutes.
Add beans, beef broth, oregano, pepper, parsley, tabasco sauce and spaghetti sauce.
Simmer soup on low for about 30-45 minutes until carrots are almost tender.
Add pasta to pot and simmer on low for about 15-30 minutes until pasta is just shy of al dente. As the soup cools, the pasta will absorb the broth. You can cook the pasta separate and add it to the soup after the soup has cooled.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Thanksgiving Meatloaf

Joe is always happy to have meatloaf for dinner, so I was happy to see this recipe for stuffed meatloaf on my friend Lauren's blog. I had originally planned on following the recipe exactly
(except I had no intention of making my own stuffing - I'm a Stove Top girl) however when dinner time rolled around I find myself not really feeling the Italian flavors of the original recipe. Instead, my mind was on Thanksgiving - all the T-Day themed Food Network I've been watching had taken it's toll, I guess. So I decided to change the recipe to incorporate some Thanksgiving flavors. I used ground turkey for the meat and topped the meatloaf with turkey gravy and cheddar cheese. Joe and I both really enjoyed this, and now we are totally ready for Thanksgiving dinner!

Thanksgiving Meatloaf

1 small onion, grated
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp dried parsley
2 large eggs
1/4 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2/3 cup dried bread crumbs
3/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese, divided
1 lb lean ground turkey
2 cups (packed) of your favorite stuffing
1/2 cup turkey gravy, plus more for serving

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Whisk the first 7 ingredients in a large bowl to blend. Stir in 1/2 cup cheddar cheese and bread crumbs. Mix in the turkey. Pack half of the meat mixture into a 9 by 5 by 3-inch loaf pan. Spoon the stuffing over the meat in the pan, leaving a 1-inch border around the edges. Top with the remaining meat mixture, enclosing the stuffing completely and pressing firmly. Spoon the turkey gravy over the meatloaf, then sprinkle with the remaining cheddar cheese.

Bake, uncovered, until the meat loaf is firm to the touch in the center and has pulled away from the sides of the pan, about 45 minutes. Cut crosswise into slices and serve with additional gravy.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Basil Chicken Pasta

Last week my brother-in-law John came home with a pack of frozen basil that he was pretty pumped about. Just a few days later I came across this recipe on Jaime's blog, Good Eats n' Sweet Treats, and I forwarded it right to John. He cooked this up for our dinner on Monday night. This was a very simple and quick recipe, however ours could have used more flavor. John omitted the hot sauce because he didn't realize we had any, but the dish could have benefited from a little kick. It also didn't have too much basil flavor, as John wasn't sure of just how strong his frozen basil was and didn't want to overwhelm the dish. He did follow Jaime's suggestion though to make the sauce creamy by adding 1/4 cup fat free half and half. Over all, this was a good dinner but I recommend that you don't skimp on the basil and do add a little hot sauce or red pepper flake for some punch!

Basil Chicken Pasta

1 (8 ounce) package angel hair pasta
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 (14 ounce) cans diced tomatoes with garlic and basil
2 cups boneless chicken breast halves, cooked and cubed
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1/4 cup fat free half and half
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook angel hair pasta until it is al dente, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain, and set aside. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Saute the onions and garlic. Stir in the tomatoes, chicken, basil, salt and hot pepper sauce. Reduce heat to medium, and cover skillet. Simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until mixture is hot and tomatoes are soft.Toss sauce with hot cooked angel hair pasta to coat. Serve with Parmesan cheese.

Tucker, for one, was quite impressed with this dinner. He wanted some in the worst way. Sorry, Tuck, there were actually no leftovers ;)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Celebrate Bread!

Today is National Homemade Bread Day. Technically I made this bread yesterday, but I'm posting it today in honor of the "holiday." I found this recipe on Lovestoeat's blog and printed it out immediately. I love my bread maker and am always looking for new recipes to try out in it. My in-laws invited us for a pasta dinner yesterday so I volunteered to make this bread to bring. It's delicious - nice and light with a good nutty flavor. It's yummy with butter and would be delicious as a sandwich bread. Make some today to celebrate! :)

Honey Whole Wheat Bread

1/2 cup water , plus 1 tablespoon
1 large egg
2 teaspoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons nonfat dry milk , plus 2 teaspoons
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon table salt
1 1/2 cups bread flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons dry active yeast

Add ingredients in order suggested in owner’s manual; continue process with machine on basic/standard or whole-wheat bread setting.

Shrimp Crab-inara

No real recipe here, just a product review! I was at a local craft show the other weekend and came across a table where a woman was selling Crabi-inara pasta sauces - basically marinara sauce with bits of crab meat in it. After tasting the sample and finding it yummy, I purchased two jars - regular and spicy. Last week I decided to try the sauce out for dinner - I simply grilled up some shrimp and tossed them with the sauce and some whole wheat angel hair pasta. This sauce is delicious - it has a great crab flavor, plus it's low in fat and calories. Joe and I both loved it! The sauce is available in several ShopRite's in the NJ area - if you're local, pick some up!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Cheesy Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

Joe is a big fan of chicken cordon bleu, so when I spotted this casserole on Picky Palate I immediately put it on the menu. Ham, chicken, cheese...yum! My brother-in-law and I sort of made this together. I got home first so I did the prep work - cutting the chicken, shredding the cheese, chopping the ham, etc. Then John came home and put it all together. We didn't have any pre-cooked chicken, so John just browned up some before moving on to cooking the onions. We also omitted the red pepper and used cooking spray in place of olive oil to save a few calories. We also used slightly less cheese than as called for, but still a good amount.

Our only issue was with the rice measurements. Can anyone tell me the ratio of uncooked brown rice to cooked brown rice? The recipe calls for 3 cups of cooked rice. The little measurement cheat sheet I have on my fridge told me that 1 cup of uncooked rice equals 3 1/2 cups cooked. That seemed crazy, and my box of brown rice said 1/2 cup uncooked equaled 2/3 cups cooked. So John went with that but still ended up with too little rice and had to make another batch. Regardless, it all came together in the end. Joe and John loved this, and I enjoyed it, but not quite as much as they did. They were both just happy with the large quantities of cheese on their plates ;) I know Joe will be requesting this again!

Cheesy Chicken Cordon Bleu Rice Casserole

Cooking spray
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 clove fresh garlic, minced
½ lb diced ham
2 Cups cooked shredded chicken breast
4 Tablespoons butter
¼ Cup flour
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
14 oz can chicken broth
3 Cups cooked rice of choice (I used brown rice)
1 Cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 Cup shredded mozzarella or swiss cheese (I used 4 cheese blend)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Heat cooking spray in a large 5 qt rimmed skillet over medium heat. Saute onion until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, ham and chicken. Cook for an additional 5 minutes. Melt butter then stir in flour, salt and pepper until combined. Slowly stir in chicken broth until well combined. Stir in cooked rice then transfer to a 9x13 inch baking dish. Top with cheddar and mozzarella cheeses. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Cover the dish with foil the last 10 minutes for oozing cheese.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Orzo with Sausage, Peppers and Tomatoes

There's just something about orzo that I love. I only recently started cooking with it, but now I find myself searching for recipes that incorporate it. I found this one on Sarah's blog, A Taste of Home Cooking and was drawn right in. I took some of Sarah's remarks on the recipe into consideration while cooking and made some changes. Instead of fresh chopped tomatoes I used a can of Italian-flavored diced tomatoes to give it a stronger tomato flavor. I also used two types of sausage - two links of spicy Italian turkey sausage and two links of Parmesan pecorino romano chicken sausage. I recommend using the red pepper - the little kick is nice. I really liked this dish! It was creamy and a little spicy and just plain good.

Orzo with Sausage, Peppers, and Tomatoes

3 cups chicken broth
1 pound orzo pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 links (7 ounces total) mild Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
1 garlic clove, minced
2 jarred roasted red bell peppers, cut into 1/4-inch strips
2 plum tomatoes, chopped (I used a can of diced tomatoes)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

In a large saucepan, bring the chicken broth and 3 cups of water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes.
While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the turkey sausage and sauté until cooked through, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the bell peppers, tomatoes, and red pepper flakes (if using) to the pan and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes.
Drain the pasta, reserving about 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid, and transfer it to a large serving bowl. Add the sausage mixture, 1 tablespoon of the parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss well to combine, adding the reserved cooking liquid if needed to loosen the pasta. Top with the Parmesan and sprinkle with the remaining parsley.

Drop it like it's hot!

I thought biscuits would go well with the other night's chicken dinner, but since it was a weeknight I didn't have time for anything too complicated. I went to All Recipes to search for a drop biscuit recipe and chose this one because it was so simple. It turned out to be a really nice standard biscuit. Not too heavy but not too fluffy with just the right biscuity flavor, if that makes sense. I halved the recipe to make 6 biscuits (the below will make 12). This is also a pretty versatile base and would be perfect for adding in extras like herbs and cheese.

Drop Biscuits

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons white sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C).
In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugar, cream of tartar and salt. Stir in butter and milk just until moistened. Drop batter on a lightly greased cookie sheet by the tablespoon.
Bake in preheated oven until golden on the edges, about 8 to 12 minutes. Serve warm.

Oven-Fried Honey Chicken

I've had this recipe forever. I believe it is originally from the National Honey board. I have been making a lot of pasta and casserole dishes recently and I was in the mood for something light and simple for a change so I pulled this chicken out of retirement. It is very easy to make and bakes up to a nice, lightly sweet juicy chicken with just a little crunch on the crust. Joe thought it was a tad too sweet, but my bother-in-law and I loved it. I served it with some roasted potatoes, peas and biscuits and it was a nice, simple dinner.

Oven-Fried Honey Chicken

1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons balsamic or red wine vinegar
1 1/2 cups dried bread crumbs
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (I used cooking spray)
6 (4 to 6-ounce) fresh boneless, skinless chicken breasts, halves

Preheat oven to 375°F.In shallow bowl, whisk together honey and vinegar. Pour bread crumbs into separated bowl. Set bowls aside. Spread oil over foil-lined baking pan large enough to hold all chicken pieces in one layer. Roll chicken pieces in honey mixture, then in bread crumbs; place in pan. Bake for 30 minutes, or until cooked thoroughly.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Three-Cheese Chicken Penne Florentine

I recently signed up to receive "Dinner Tonight" emails from My Recipes, and I'm already glad I did. One of the first dinners to appear in my inbox was this Three-Cheese Chicken Penne Florentine and I immediately put it on my menu. It sounded delicious, and seriously, with three cheeses, how could it not be? I did make a few modifications to the recipe (below). As much as I like cottage cheese for breakfast, I truly believe that it does not have a place in pasta (plus I didn't want to have to pull out my food processor to smooth it out) so I used fat-free ricotta in its place. I used cream of mushroom soup since I had some in the pantry and roasted red peppers in place of red bell pepper because I adore roasted red peppers. I also subbed in 1/4 cup skim milk and 1/4 cup fat free half and half for the 2% milk.

Wow was this good! So rich and creamy and loaded with delicious vegetables. Served with some asiago cheese bread and roasted green beans and carrots, this was an awesome meal. The recipe makes a TON of food - luckily my brother-in-law and his girlfriend were around to help us eat it - but you may want to cut it in half if you're only feeding two. Or make the entire thing - you won't be sorry to have leftovers!

Three-Cheese Chicken Penne Florentine

Cooking spray
3 cups thinly sliced mushrooms
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped roasted red peppers
3 cups chopped fresh spinach
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (15-ounce) carton skim ricotta
4 cups hot cooked penne (about 8 ounces uncooked tube-shaped pasta)
2 cups shredded roasted skinless, boneless chicken breast
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese, divided
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
1/4 cup skim milk
1/4 cup fat free half and half
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can condensed reduced-fat, reduced-sodium cream of mushroom soup, undiluted

Preheat oven to 425°.
In a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat, add mushrooms, onion, and pepper; sauté 4 minutes or until tender. Add spinach, oregano, and black pepper; sauté 3 minutes or just until spinach wilts.
Combine spinach mixture, ricotta cheese, pasta, chicken, 3/4 cup cheddar cheese, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, milk, and soup in a large bowl. Spoon mixture into a 2-quart baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheddar cheese and remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Bake at 425° for 25 minutes or until lightly browned and bubbly.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Boo! When my aunt told me that she was having a Halloween party for my 9 year-old cousin Adam and his friends I knew I had to be involved. So I volunteered to help her execute the party, and also to bring a treat. I wanted to bake something cute and festive, so when I spotted these pumpkin bars from Taste of Home I knew I had to make them. For all the pumpkin treats I've baked in the last few years, I've never made any that called for pumpkin pie filling as these did. The moist filling makes these sweet and very tender. I followed the recipe exactly, except I just used decorating gel for the faces instead of melted chocolate as the recipe suggests. I also left out the nuts because I was worried that some of the kids might have allergies.

I can't get over how adorable these are! I can't wait to share them with the kiddies at the party tonight! Happy Halloween!

Halloween Pumpkin Bars

1-1/2 cups pumpkin pie filling
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped pecans (I omitted)
1 can (16 ounces) cream cheese frosting
Yellow and red food coloring
Candy corn
Decorating gel

In a large mixing bowl, beat the pumpkin, sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; gradually add to pumpkin mixture and mix well. Stir in pecans. Pour into a greased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan. Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

Tint frosting orange with yellow and red food coloring. Frost bars; cut into 35 squares. For eyes, place two pieces of candy corn on each bar. Decorate faces as desired with gel.