Monday, March 30, 2009

A new post! Tortellini Salad

Can you believe it? I have a new post! Well, kind of new. This is a modified version of this pasta salad, but it's so good I thought it was worth posting again!

I made this tortellini salad for our most recent girls get together with Lauren, Sarah and Colleen. (Jenn and Katie, you were missed!). We went with a brunch theme this time, so I thought this tortellini salad would fit right in. And it went great with Colleen's awesome chicken salad, Sarah's amazing salad and Lauren's decadent stuffed French toast. (See Lauren's blog post for all the yummy details of our goodies!) This salad is super easy to throw together (it really requires no real cooking - shhhhhh) and is perfect for the soon-to-be-arriving warmer weather!

Tortellini Salad

2 bags frozen tri-color tortellini
1 can sliced black olives
1/2 jar roasted red peppers, chopped
1/2 jar artichoke hearts, chopped
1 ball fresh mozzarella, cubed
2 cups bottled sun-dried tomato dressing

Cook tortellini according to package directions. Place in bowl and toss with 1 cup dressing. Allow to cool. Toss in all other ingredients and additional 1/2 cup of dressing. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Just before serving, toss with the final 1/2 cup dressing.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I'm still here!

I need to apologize to my poor neglected blog for the lack of updates. I've had some health issues recently that have prevented me from doing any cooking or baking. I'm hoping though that by next week I'm back on my feet and back in the kitchen. Stay tuned!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Oreo Fudge Bars

From the moment I saw these bars on Stephanie's blog I knew that I had to make them. They looked SO good. Last Friday John and Rebecca invited us over for dinner so I offered to make these bars for dessert. These are great because they are different. There's no cake to them at all, just Oreos and creamy chocolate. They are rich and delicious and very, very good. John and Rebecca made an awesome chicken chili (which I'll be making soon to post!) and we enjoyed these bars while we played Trivial Pursuit. For a quick and rich dessert, these are perfect!

Oreo Fudge Bars

1 16oz. package of Oreo cookies
1 stick butter, melted
1/4 tsp satl
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips (I used another 1/2 cup semi-sweet)
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (I used regular)

Preheat the oven to 325. Line a 9×13 pan with foil and lightly spray with cooking spray. Set aside 6 Oreo cookies for the toppings. In a small food processor grind the rest of the cookies. If you don’t have a food processor, just pound with a rolling pin until the cookies are fine crumbs. Add the salt to the crumbs and stir to combine. Melt butter and gently stir together with the cookie crumb mixutre. Press firmly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Coarsely chop the remaining cookies into chunks and set aside.Over a double boiler or in the microwave, melt 3/4 cup semi-sweet and 1/2 cup milk chocoalte chips together with the condensed milk and vanilla. Stir frequently until smooth. Spread evenly over the prepared cookie crust.

Sprinkle the mini chocolate chips and the Oreo cookies chunks over the top of the filling. Press down gently into the chocolate topping. Bake for 20-22 minutes oven. Allow to cool on counter for 1 hour. Chill in fridge until completely cold and set before cutting into bars.

A gift of baked ziti

Our next door neighbors recently brought home their new baby boy. I wanted to bring them something for the occassion and figured that food would be the most practical gift for the new parents. I decided to make them a pan of baked ziti for a quick and easy dinner, and I also whipped up some chocolate chip muffins. The muffins were from a mix, so no recipe, but this ziti was from scratch. I have tons of ziti recipes floating around, but I decided this time to just use the one on the back of the San Giorgio pasta box. I made one pan for my neighbors and kept one pan for Joe and I to enjoy. This ziti was really good. So gooey and creamy - I just love ricotta! Our neighbors were very happy with the food and I was happy to get to fuss over the cute little baby!

Baked Ziti

1 box ziti, uncooked
1 jar spaghetti sauce
1 3/4 cups ricotta cheese (15 oz)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (8 oz)
1 Tbsp parsley
1 egg
1 Tsp oregano
1/2 Tsp garlic powder
1/2 Tsp salt
1/4 Tsp black pepper
3 Tbsp Parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 375°F. Cook pasta according to package directions for 9 minutes; drain. In large bowl, stir together hot pasta, 1-1/2 cups spaghetti sauce, ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, parsley, egg, oregano, garlic powder, salt and pepper. In 13×9 x 2-inch baking dish, spoon pasta mixture; top with remaining 1-1/2 cups sauce. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese; cover with foil. Bake 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

Birthday Banana Cake

It's become a tradition for me to make my dad's birthday cake each year. Last year's German chocolate cake didn't go as smoothly as I would have liked, so I was relieved this year when he asked for something relatively simple - a banana cake. My mom requested that the cake also contain chocolate, so I hit my Google Reader in search of the perfect recipe. I found this one on Cate's blog and it looked perfect - simple and delicious.

This cake was very easy to make. My only issue came with the frosting. It was delicious (I mean, it starts with melted chocolate, how could it be bad?) but I found that it wasn't very spreadable. I got it on the cake, but it wound up getting kind of dry and sort of falling off the cake when it was cut. It did taste great though, so no one minded. Everyone enjoyed this cake - served with a scoop of fudge ripple ice cream it was the perfect birthday treat!

Banana Cake with Milk Chocolate Frosting

1/2 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 ripe bananas
4 tbsp yogurt or sour cream
2 large eggs
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 cups flour
1 cup milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 F.
Grease a 13 x 9 baking dish.
Combine the butter, sugar and vanilla in a stand mixer and mix well.
Mash bananas and add to butter mixture.
Stir in yogurt and eggs, mixing well.
Whisk together the dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then add to the batter, stirring until blended.
Fold in chocolate chips.
Bake for about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Set pan on a wire rack to cool.

1 cup milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup butter
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp milk
Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave or the top of a double boiler and cool slightly.
Place butter and chocolate in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat for 2 minutes on medium-high speed.
Add powdered sugar and continue mixing.
Add the milk about 1/2 tsp at a time until the frosting is a spreadable consistency.