Friday, February 26, 2010

Caprese Salad

So easy, yet so delicious! My mother-in-law Anne's birthday was last week, and this past Saturday Joe and I invited Anne and my father-in-law Fred over for dinner to celebrate, along with my brother-in-law John and his girlfriend Rebecca. Knowing that Joe and I don't have much time these days to cook, John and Rebecca graciously offered to bring dinner and dessert. John made his amazing homemade ravioli, meatballs and sauce, and Rebecca whipped up a delicious tiramisu (get the recipes on their blog!). I wanted to contribute something, so I decided to make an easy salad. I was planning on doing something plain with lettuce, but the night before dinner while feeding the babies at 2:00 am I for some reason decided I wanted to do a caprese salad (who knows why I decide what I do at 2:00 am?). I don't really even like tomatoes, but for some reason I wanted to go with caprese. I had Joe pick up the ingredients for me at the store, and when he returned with basil I saw that there was a recipe for caprese salad on the bag. I had just been planning to put sliced tomatoes, mozzarella and basil leaves on a plate, but this recipe jazzed it up a bit. And it was delicious! I had three servings of it, and as I said, I don't really like tomatoes. It was a great addition to our Italian feast!

Caprese Salad

2 large tomatoes, sliced
Fresh mozzarella, sliced
Basil leaves
1 garlic clove, finely minced
Salt and pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
Balsamic vinegar

Place tomato and mozzarella slices on plate and arrange basil leaves in between and on top of slices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and top with minced garlic. Drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar on top before serving.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Marshmallow Swirl Brownies

To help make ends meet, I recently became a Pampered Chef consultant. I've really been enjoying the job - it's so fun to do parties, meet new people and play with cool Pampered Chef products. I'm always on the hunt for easy and delicious recipes to demo at my parties, and this one from Pillsbury fit the bill! I came across the recipe on a box of Pillsbury brownie mix and figured that no one could resist the combination of chocolate and marshmallow. I mean really, is there anything better than marshmallow fluff? Give these a whirl - they are fantastic and super easy!

Marshmallow Swirl Brownies

Cooking Spray
1 pkg fudge brownie mix
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water
2 large eggs
1 (7 oz) jar marshmallow creme
1/3 cup chocolate frosting

Heat oven to 350. Prepare brownies as indicated on package with oil, water and eggs. Cool completely.

Spread a thin layer of marshmallow creme over brownies. Place frosting in microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high for 10-20 seconds. Stir until smooth. Drizzle frosting over marshmallow creme. Swirl with knife.

Refrigerate 15 minutes. To cut cleanly, spray a knife with non-stick cooking spray as needed. Store loosely covered in the refrigerator.

Pasta Bake with Sausage, Spinach and Beans

I'll admit it - I was naive. Before I had my babies, I totally used to judge women who said that they didn't have time to do things once they had their babies. Women who said that they couldn't find the time to work out? "Please!" I'd think. "You can totally get up early and exercise, or do it at night after the kids go to bed." Um, yeah, right. I now know that when you spend half the night up soothing and feeding babies the last thing you want to do is get up at 5:30 am and work out. There is also no way that you have the energy for a workout at 8:00 pm once the babies are finally in bed. I also used to laugh at women who said they had no time to cook once they had their babies. "Ha!" I thought. "You can't find half an hour a day to throw dinner together?!?" Um, no, on many days, you can't. For the past few months Joe and I have been living on takeout, standby crockpot recipes, frozen salmon filets with tater tots and meals kindly provided by family members. Luckily, as the babies get a little older we have more of a routine established and I have managed to find time to cook some decent dinners recently.

The first thing that I was eager to try came from the Cook Yourself Thin cookbook. This spring while I was on bedrest, Cook Yourself Thin aired every day at 5:00 and 5:30 on Lifetime. Since I wasn't allowed to leave the couch, I watched it religiously. I always thought that the recipes looked great and I vowed that I would get the cookbook once I had the babies. The book was under the Christmas tree for me this year, and this recipe for Pasta Bake with Sausage, Spinach and Beans was the first I tried. I made a few changes - I used spinach instead of the broccoli the recipe called for because Joe dislikes spinach less than he dislikes broccoli, and I used a sun-dried tomato and mozzarella chicken sausage in place of the turkey sausage.

This pasta was really, really good! I love the addition of the beans, and it was deliciously creamy with a nice crunchy crust on top. I'm anxious to try more recipes from the cookbook as soon as I get another chance!

(Blogger hates me right now and won't let me copy the recipe to this post, so please use the direct link until I can get it pasted!

The reasons for my lack of cooking - Charlie and Lily, 7 months old!